By John Haverlin
Here are some of the highlights from Friday at Darlington Raceway:
Gossage rips F1 for scheduling 2019 U.S. date on day of Texas race
This news obviously didn’t break at the track, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Formula 1 revealed its draft of the 2019 schedule on Friday morning, and the series’ date at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin is the same as the fall Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway — a 3.5-hour drive away.
TMS president Eddie Gossage went off on F1, saying fans will now have to choose which race they want to attend on Nov. 3, 2019. He tweeted the decision “is bad for both F1 and NASCAR. That’s a situation that nobody wins and everybody loses because both are less than they could be as a result.”
Does Gossage have a point? Certainly. Having two of the best racing leagues in the world competing in the same state on the same day is definitely a conflict of interest.
“F1 scheduling on top of the NASCAR race at TX Motor Speedway just isn’t good for the fans and forces them to pick one instead of picking both,” he said in another tweet.
Gossage said he would have wanted to attend both races. He tweeted in agreement with SiriusXM’s Dave Moody, who said F1’s decision was an “example of the systemic arrogance fostered many years ago by Bernie Ecclestone.”
Austin Dillon unveils throwback scheme
Austin Dillon’s No. 3 car will don the “Quicksilver” paint scheme Dale Earnhardt Sr. drove in the 1995 Winston Select All-Star Race for Sunday night’s event.
His current team and former members of Richard Childress Racing’s No. 3 crew unveiled the car to the media in the garage on Friday morning. Some of the crew members — including Chocolate Myers, Earnhardt’s former gasman — had never seen the car.
“Dale Jr. and I kind of talked about this car and it kind of came together,” Dillon said. “This is the one that kind of started all the wild paint schemes. I talked to different guys about how special it was, and it was a secret. That’s why we unveiled it the way we did.
“The first person that (asked me about the scheme) was Chocolate, actually. I was on a radio show and he was talking about what we’re going to do for Darlington weekend, and I said, ‘Well, I guess you’ll just have to wait until we get to the track.’”
Dillon said the scheme gives him a little extra motivation this weekend. He has already clinched a playoff berth despite sitting 19th in the standings, but he’ll need momentum if he wants to advance beyond the first round.
“You want to go out there and run well anytime you put a Dale Sr. throwback on the car,” he said. “I’ve got to get my nerves in the right area and we will go out there and log some laps here in the Southern 500 and hopefully put ourselves in a really good position at the end of the night.”
Kenseth’s future with Roush Fenway uncertain
Matt Kenseth isn’t sure what his next career move will be. He hasn’t committed to Roush Fenway Racing for next year, but said 2019 doesn’t concern him right now.
“I’m just concentrated on the rest of this season and trying to get this done, so that’s probably something I’ll talk about at a later date,” he said. “The season has been up and down. I wish the results were better than they are, but on the other hand, I feel like we’ve made a lot of progress. It doesn’t necessarily show in the stat sheet or box score all the time … really just trying to keep moving forward and get more competitive by the end of the season.”
Kenseth wouldn’t budge when asked if he would take an offer from a more competitive team. He was questioned about taking over the No. 41 car of Stewart-Haas Racing, but wouldn’t say if he’d be interested if the seat were to open.
“I still have seven races left this season,” he said. “I have not made the impact at Roush Fenway Racing that — at least in the finishes, the performances — as big as I hoped.
“All I’m thinking about right is trying to get the performance better and try to do a better job for those guys. … I’m not really looking forward right now.”
Bell and Allgaier are cool as the playoffs approach
Christopher Bell and Justin Allgaier have been the class of the Xfinity Series field this season, but they don’t see each other as fierce rivals — yet, at least. Both drivers have four wins and are 1-2 in the standings. Allgaier leads the overall standings by five points, but Bell has a five-point advantage in playoff points.
“I do think Christopher has definitely shown that he’s the guy that we’re all going to have to beat to go for this championship when we get to Homestead,” Allgaier said. “Christopher and I have had our battles on the race track these last five or six races.
“If he and I battle it out for a win, that means we’re doing our jobs and putting ourselves in a good position. Yeah, he is a direct competitor and somebody that I’ll have to beat; we’ve known each other for a long time and we definitely push each other hard.”
Said Bell: “The biggest thing is whenever you get to Homestead, the guy that excels there in practice, that’s going to be your biggest rival and your biggest competitor. We go through these races during the playoffs and whenever it all comes down to it there’s going to be four guys that have no advantage over the other one whenever you get to Homestead. It’s whoever beats who. Those practice sessions at Homestead will decide who your main competitor is going to be.”