After the burnout and victory lane celebration final weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, the main target for Noah Gragson and his Xfinity Sequence group was which Waffle Home they have been going to on the way in which house.
There was one about 5 miles from the monitor and one other about 7 miles away. One particular person was tasked with selecting the placement and ensuring everybody knew.
Gragson, his group and the JR Motorsports hauler all made it, persevering with what has develop into part of Gragson’s victory celebration.
Most instances, drivers who win a Cup or Xfinity Sequence race go from the monitor to a aircraft and fly house. For races nearer to the game’s Charlotte, North Carolina base, opponents will drive, permitting them the prospect to cease at a restaurant on the way in which house.
Such experiences hark again to the early days of a driver’s profession —after they raced at native brief tracks, didn’t end till late at evening and sought a spot to eat, calm down and relive that night’s occasion. Go to any brief monitor, notably within the Southeast, and it’s not unusual to listen to the successful group say that they’re taking the trophy to a Waffle Home or every other restaurant that’s open all hours.
Gragson’s first Waffle Home celebration got here in 2015, when he received the Okay&N Professional Sequence West race in Tucson, Arizona, main his group to a 1-2-3 end.
When Gragson received the Xfinity race at Phoenix in March, he went to a Waffle Home upon touchdown in North Carolina. After his Darlington victory earlier this month — the primary of three in a row — the group’s hauler additionally stopped on the Waffle Home, becoming a member of Gragson and the group.
“Received all of the cooks and (all people) on the market taking photos and simply loving it,” Gragson mentioned. “It’s a very good time. We performed music on the jukebox and informed them to show all of it the way in which up.”
“He’ll look again on that when he’s 60 or 70 years outdated,” teammate Justin Allgaier mentioned of Noah Gragson, “and people are going to be the moments he’ll keep in mind ceaselessly.”
Gragson introduced the sword and trophy he collected after his Bristol victory to the Waffle Home final weekend. He used the sword to chop his waffle and positioned half of the waffle on the sword’s tip earlier than taking a chew.
“That was actually cool to have the ability to social gathering with the followers and have some waffles,” Gragson mentioned.
The Waffle Home was full of a number of Gragson followers, together with these carrying his T-shirt.
“It’s humorous that they go to Waffle Home,’’ teammate Justin Allgaier mentioned, “however he’ll look again on that when he’s 60 or 70 years outdated and people are going to be the moments he’ll keep in mind ceaselessly.”
— Madison Wooden (@eledteachermlw) September 17, 2022
Jeremy Clements, who’s 37 and within the Xfinity playoffs for the third time, already appears again on such instances fondly. His early days of racing have been full of Waffle Home stops.
“We have been within the Waffle Home on a regular basis,” Clements mentioned. “The races have been all the time late. We needed to eat. It didn’t matter if we received or not most instances. We had sufficient within the finances to eat at Waffle Home.”
Like many, Clements mentioned that when he received, he introduced the trophy into the Waffle Home.
“Why not present it off and have some enjoyable?” he mentioned.
To reigning Xfinity Sequence champion Daniel Hemric, Waffle Home represents particular recollections.
“I’d say 90% of my childhood weekends have been spent within the Waffle Home on Friday and Saturday nights,” Hemric mentioned of the start of his racing profession. “
Even now, he nonetheless goes to a Waffle Home recurrently. His daughter Rhen, born in Could 2020, insists.
“She loves Waffle Home,” Hemric mentioned. “It’s type of one among our little Sunday traditions each week or two weeks. We go as a household on Sunday, simply me, (spouse) Kenzie and Rhen.”
Waffle Home isn’t the one particular place for Hemric. After he received $250,000 in a Legends automotive race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2010, he and about 20 household and buddies went to a Steak ’n Shake about 4 miles from the monitor to have fun.
Hemric introduced the trophy with him, however his celebration was muted. He had helped put together a couple of dozen different vehicles for that occasion and was exhausted at that time of the evening.
“Everyone was ordering meals and I laid my head down and took a nap,” he mentioned.
— Steak ‘n Shake (@SteaknShake) February 22, 2022
Steak ’n Shake is a well-liked vacation spot, notably for Daytona 500 winners. The restaurant is positioned 2 miles from Daytona Worldwide Speedway.
Automotive proprietor Joe Gibbs took his household and the trophy in after successful the 1993 Daytona 500. Gibbs revived the custom in 2019 after the second of Denny Hamlin’s three wins in that occasion. The Wooden Brothers went there after Trevor Bayne’s 2011 Daytona 500 victory.
Cup rookie Austin Cindric celebrated his Daytona 500 win this yr with household and his group.
“Actually particular to have each my mother and my dad there with my entire group,” Cindric mentioned. “We had pit crew guys. We had all people, and it’s a kind of moments in life that you just type of have to understand whereas it’s occurring … as a result of it doesn’t occur day-after-day.”
Cindric additionally introduced the trophy into the restaurant.
“Undoubtedly cool to close the place down with the most important trophy,” he mentioned.
2. NASCAR on Subsequent Gen components course of, shifting and Martinsville
Former Cup champion Kevin Harvick has been vital of the Subsequent Gen automotive within the playoffs, complaining in regards to the automobile’s “crappy-ass components.”
Harvick was upset after a hearth ended his race within the playoff opener at Darlington earlier this month. Two days after he was eradicated from title rivalry at Bristol, partially attributable to a problem with the left entrance wheel, Harvick posted a hyperlink to a T-shirt he was promoting that performed off his remark.
John Probst, NASCAR senior vice chairman of Racing Innovation, defined to NBC Sports activities the method that NASCAR went by means of — with the groups and producers — in figuring out the distributors that might provide components for the Subsequent Gen automotive.
This marks the primary time distributors provide the principle components as an alternative of groups making their very own.
As NASCAR developed the automotive, Probst mentioned the sanctioning physique, groups and producers set the specs for components earlier than sending a Request for Proposal to distributors. This happened in 2019.
NASCAR despatched RFPs to as few as 5 distributors and as many as 30 distributors for some components. For these firms , NASCAR held a name to reply questions not lined within the 30-50 pages of paperwork the sanctioning physique despatched.
Distributors had two weeks to organize for in-person conferences that included representatives from NASCAR, groups and producers, Probst mentioned.
About 5 days after the conferences completed, group and producer representatives gave NASCAR their rating of the highest three candidates to produce a specific half. Probst mentioned the groups and producers typically supplied suggestions on all those that introduced.
“We’d have folks sitting (within the conferences) that just about spanned the gamut from giant to small groups,” Probst mentioned, “as a result of we wished to get a fairly good cross-section of suggestions from our trade from the group aspect.”
The group representatives sometimes have been senior engineers or technical administrators, Probst mentioned. In instances the place a group was bidding to produce any explicit components, their consultant was not part of the conferences with different distributors to keep away from any battle.
After the suggestions, NASCAR, groups and producers made their choices.
“Greater than not, we had fairly good alignment with us within the trade,” Probst mentioned. “On components choices, I wouldn’t say each half choice was unanimous. I can even say that we didn’t choose, as a matter of any rule, the most cost effective half.
“We selected the half that we felt served the operate that we wanted to have completed. It wasn’t a case of simply going with the low-cost provider. It was going with the provider, with the best value with the best product that met our wants on the time.”
Probst mentioned he’s happy with how the automotive has been an element within the collection seeing 19 completely different winners this yr, tying for essentially the most all-time in a season. With perennial winners Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski nonetheless looking for their first factors victory of the season, that quantity might transcend 20 earlier than the season ends Nov. 6 at Phoenix.
Probst mentioned he feels one misunderstanding with the automotive is the collaboration between NASCAR, groups and producers.
“I believe that typically once you learn the motive force quotes and the group suggestions, crew chiefs are posting issues on Twitter, it creates the sense of NASCAR vs. them vs. the world,” Probst informed NBC Sports activities.
“Actually, it isn’t like that. I want folks might see how properly we really do work with the engineers on these groups, sorting by means of the issues.
“I really feel like we work hand-in-hand with them, however a variety of instances when it will get to the general public eye, for no matter motive, or if it’s within the warmth of the second, it comes throughout as if ‘NASCAR is making us do that,’ or ‘That is the dumbest factor ever,’ however I believe, in actuality, that’s so removed from the reality. We now have a extremely good working relationship with the entire groups, and I simply suppose that will get misplaced.”
The Subsequent Gen automotive has supplied higher racing at intermediate tracks, whereas the racing at brief tracks has been disappointing. The spring race at Martinsville confronted criticism from drivers. With subsequent month’s Martinsville race the ultimate likelihood for drivers to make the championship occasion, what occurs there will likely be vital.
Probst mentioned there will likely be a gear change for Martinsville, “however so far as large modifications, there are not any giant modifications that we’re making going again there. We’ve had one knowledge level at Martinsville to date this yr, the coldest race of the yr. We put down no rubber. It’s actually laborious to make wholesale modifications to the automotive based mostly on that.”
Probst later mentioned of creating modifications: “We’ll proceed to make modifications as we have to, however … I really feel like we have to make these modifications based mostly on knowledge and what we’re seeing from our metrics and simply make the most effective selections we are able to.”
One other key subject this yr has been shifting, which has been blamed by some for making it laborious to cross, but additionally been used on the intermediate tracks, which has seen a renaissance within the racing in comparison with current years.
“I might say the controversy continues,” Probst informed NBC Sports activities on whether or not to permit shifting or scale back the dependency of it. “I might say that we definitely have a few of our drivers who’re very insistent that shifting is dangerous, the race could be higher if we didn’t have shifting.
“We additionally produce other drivers, who haven’t been as vocal publicly (for it), however in no way is there any mass settlement throughout the drivers that shifting is sweet or dangerous.”
Probst raised questions on one suggestion of giving drivers 1,000 horsepower for brief tracks.
“The 1,000 horsepower would indicate that I’ve received torque on demand, and I can get again to the gasoline and ‘Man, that’s going to make actually good racing,’” Probst mentioned. “In my thoughts, shifting is nearly the identical factor.
“So like, if I want torque in the midst of the nook, I can downshift and growth, I received the torque to drive up off like I received a monster engine and all gears. So, I personally don’t really feel like we have now the information that claims shifting is sweet or dangerous.”
3. Contained in the thoughts of a Cup playoff driver
As Ross Chastain spoke in regards to the Oct. 2 playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway, he famous: “What’s so nice about this sport and this collection at this degree is we’re allowed to simply go and crash.
“That’s on restarts, on a mile-and-a-half, or a brief monitor, or racing all day at a superspeedway. I really feel prefer it’s acceptable to simply crash these costly race vehicles. It’s a wild spot for me to be in, simply mentally making that call that I’m going to go put myself in that spot that I may very well be crashed or I might trigger a crash.”
Chastain, who enters Sunday’s Cup playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway third within the factors, spent just a few years within the Xfinity Sequence in underfunded tools with JD Motorsports that he couldn’t afford to wreck. Requested how he discovered to make the adjustment from overly defending the automotive to racing extra freely, Chastain famous a scenario in final weekend’s Xfinity Sequence race at Bristol that hit house for him.
“I simply watched Bayley Currey go and take the No. 4 automotive (for JD Motorsports) and run high three with it at Bristol and was superb,” he mentioned. “Then it got here right down to the tip and a few late restarts and I might inform he was defending his automotive and he completed eleventh. I do know he wished a tenth. Not that I ever ran high three in Johnny’s automotive, however there was instances the place you go and also you’re quick sufficient after which it comes right down to the tip and it’s like ‘Man, weighing out that danger versus reward.’
“I believe Bayley did loads higher job than I ever did in that state of affairs. I nonetheless are likely to tear them up. Now, simply except for not crashing and being out of the race for factors, simply the considered these vehicles coming again torn up is simply extra accepted.”
Chastain recollects that his mindset modified after his first Xfinity follow session within the No. 42 automotive for Chip Ganassi Racing at Darlington.
“I simply was complaining about how free the automotive was and was going to crash. So, I used to be fairly gradual. Mike Shiplett, my crew chief, walks over and opens the highest door to crawl up into the upstairs of the hauler and the backup automotive is sitting there.
He says, ‘You see this?’
‘It’s constructed precisely the identical because the automotive on the market, the first, so go drive the automotive. In case you crash it, we are going to unload this one and you’ll really feel it drives precisely the identical. So, I don’t wish to hear about it being free anymore. I would like you to go drive it.’”
Chastain received the pole in qualifying.
“Excessive danger, sure, however that was the primary time that was ever mentioned to me. I simply by no means checked out a backup that means.”
4. Chase Elliott’s focus
The second spherical of the Cup playoffs may very well be essentially the most treacherous for groups.
After Sunday’s race at Texas (3:30 p.m. ET on USA Community), the collection races at Talladega after which ends the spherical with the Charlotte Roval.
Something can occur at Talladega, and the Charlotte Roval might create some points. Add rain there and it may very well be wilder.
That’s why some drivers view the Texas race as pivotal. Win Sunday to advance to the third spherical and it doesn’t matter what occurs the following two weeks.
Whereas it is perhaps straightforward for some to look forward on the potential pitfalls, Chase Elliott, who enters this spherical atop the playoff standings, doesn’t do this.
“I take it every week at a time basically,” he mentioned. “Half the time I don’t know the place we’re going the following week.
“The item is to win each single weekend. I don’t present as much as a racetrack with the mindset of ‘Yeah, let’s exit right here and make silly selections and end final. That’s simply not ever the mindset. I don’t see the place it modifications an entire lot.
“You all the time wish to have a very good run. It simply so occurs a recent spherical is beginning this weekend and luckily we’re nonetheless part of the deal. We’ll go on the market and attempt to have a very good run at Texas.
“Attempt to have a very good Saturday, attempt to have a very good follow, attempt to qualify properly, hopefully get you a very good pit choose and a few good monitor place to begin Sunday. … Wherever we come out of that, we’ll reevaluate what the scenario is and the place we have to go from there. You’re all the time making an attempt to have good weekends, and I believe taking it every week at a time, a day at a time is is fairly necessary.”
5. Double obligation will proceed for Ty Gibbs
Two of the Xfinity Sequence title contenders will proceed to do double obligation even with the playoffs starting for that collection this weekend.
Each Noah Gragson and Ty Gibbs are additionally entered in Sunday’s Cup race at Texas.
Gragson has famous that he is a little more cautious within the Cup automotive due to the impacts drivers are feeling with the Subsequent Gen automotive. He doesn’t need an harm in a Cup automotive to harm his championship possibilities.
Gibbs has been driving rather than Kurt Busch, who has been out since late July due to a head harm.
David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Growth, informed NBC Sports activities this week that the plan is for Gibbs to proceed to drive the Cup automotive all through the playoffs until Busch is able to return.
“We’re snug with Ty operating each for the foreseeable future,” Wilson mentioned. “We nonetheless don’t know what Kurt goes to do. To be honest, he left the door open to doubtlessly get again into the automotive earlier than the tip of the season. (Ty) is studying loads.
“I don’t suppose any of us have the mentality that we’re placing him in hurt’s means wheeling a Cup automotive. … We all know, clearly that hits will be tougher with this automotive, and we all know that the groups and NASCAR are engaged on that. We’re not going to place any of our drivers in a automotive that we imagine is inherently unsafe.
“On the entire, we predict Ty operating on Saturday and Sunday for the following handful of races goes to profit Ty and isn’t going to compromise his skill to compete for an Xfinity championship.”