2021 appears totally different in some ways for Richard Petty Motorsports. After a 12 months the place they ended up within the nationwide highlight with Bubba Wallace, the staff faces an id shift in 2021 with Erik Jones.
Whereas crew chief Jerry Baxter stayed with RPM following Wallace’s departure, the staff was confronted with a troublesome determination to seek out who would information Richard Petty’s iconic No. 43. Not solely would this driver have to come back into a task that already closely scrutinized, however they would wish a uncommon expertise to assist land sponsorship, a lot of which was tied to the favored Wallace. With the entire Foolish Season craziness in 2020, the staff managed to land a gem in Jones.
4 races in, they lastly have a end to point out for it.
2021 didn’t begin off nicely for the new-look No. 43 staff with disappointments of thirty ninth, 14th and twenty seventh within the first three races. However Sunday’s (March 7) Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway showcased the potential for this staff, as Jones introduced dwelling his first high 10 of the season with a Tenth-place end result. It marked RPM’s first high 10 since Daytona Worldwide Speedway final August and another than former driver Wallace along with his new journey at 23XI Racing.
The street to get right here was a rollercoaster, although. Jones broke into the highest 20 earlier than the lap 25 competitors warning after beginning twenty ninth. He wouldn’t cease there, breaking inside the highest 15 earlier than settling into Seventeenth by the tip of stage one.
At first of stage two, Jones noticed his day flash proper earlier than his eyes. In a big pack of vehicles on the restart, he received unfastened off of Flip 2 and made contact with the wall. However the harm was minimal, as a consequence of a heck of a save, and Jones was in a position to maintain operating at full pace. He finally completed the stage in 18th.
Jones hung round simply exterior the highest 10 for many of the closing stage. With just below 20 laps to go, the No. 43 broke into the highest 10 for the ultimate time. The Byron, Mich., native earned his first top-10 end result for the reason that Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL with Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota.
“It was a very good day for us within the Richard Petty Motorsports Medallion Financial institution Chevy,” Jones mentioned of Sunday’s efficiency. “It was a very good day to construct on. It was means higher than final week. We’re actually headed in the suitable path.
“We tried quite a lot of various things this week and made quite a lot of totally different modifications, and it’s simply good to see them repay and get a high 10 out of it. That was undoubtedly our objective for at this time, I felt like. So, hopefully we will maintain constructing on that and proceed to get higher and higher every week.”
Honorable Point out
It has been fairly a journey to this point in 2021 for Ryan Preece. It has been mentioned quite a few instances over the course of the younger season that Preece is in an unchartered JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet. A full 12 months of racing shouldn’t be assured as a consequence of sponsorshipp issues. Nevertheless, any off-track drama hasn’t discouraged him, because the third-year driver now has two high 10s and three high 15s in 4 races.
After battling dealing with points to start with of the Vegas race, Preece’s automobile got here to life, ending nineteenth in stage one. In stage two, Preece’s No. 37 Chevrolet entered the highest 15 and stayed there for a stable Fifteenth-place end result.
Preece entered the highest 10 close to the start of the ultimate stage earlier than fading exterior the highest 15. However the Berlin, Conn., driver was in a position to muscle his method to a Fifteenth-place end by the tip. There’s a lengthy method to go for the staff, however the 30-year-old now sits a good thirteenth place within the standings. It’s going to be onerous for JTG to tug the plug when their driver is sitting in playoff place now, isn’t it?
“Trent (Owens, crew chief) did a superb job on pit street of adjusting each time we got here down and getting our automobile to the place it wanted to be,” Preece mentioned of his Vegas run. “We had been sturdy on the finish and I’m proud that we had been in a position to maintain our monitor place and get a top-15 end out of it. We’re operating actually sturdy between us and our teammate and all we will do is maintain digging.”
Coming into the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas, Kevin Harvick and Michael McDowell had been the one NASCAR Cup drivers to earn a high 10 in each race up to now. Each streaks got here to an finish on Sunday, however McDowell continued to place a stable run along with a Seventeenth-place efficiency. His teammate Anthony Alfredo earned his second-straight top-25 end with a Twenty fourth-place end result.
The NASCAR Xfinity Sequence additionally took to the mile-and-a-half monitor on Saturday, March 6. Brandon Brown was the storied underdog of the race, operating within the high 10 for a very good portion of the occasion. He even handed drivers from top-tier groups like JR Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing in making a run to the entrance. In the end, the Woodbridge, Va., native completed eleventh.
Santino Ferrucci additionally made some noise within the canine yard on Saturday. The IndyCar-turned-NASCAR driver rebounded from a studying expertise at Homestead-Miami Speedway to complete thirteenth in solely his second profession begin. Tommy Joe Martins (Fifteenth) additionally earned his first high 15 of the season.
The NASCAR Tenting World Truck Sequence returned to the monitor within the Nevada desert as nicely (trust me, Camping World was very present). Many accidents value some drivers top-tier performances, however a couple of emerged from the fray with spectacular outcomes. Parker Kligerman continued to overachieve at tiny Henderson Motorsports, scoring an eighth-place end, whereas Austin Wayne Self earned his second-straight top-15 lead to 14th.
What to Anticipate Subsequent
Each the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity sequence keep out west, operating at Phoenix Raceway, whereas the Truck Sequence heads again east with the week off. McDowell’s Cinderella 2021 season continues, as he’ll search for his fifth-straight high 20 at his dwelling monitor. The Phoenix, Ariz., native completed sixteenth within the March race there a 12 months in the past in certainly one of his stronger runs again then driving the No. 34. Wallace will look to get some constructive momentum, in the meantime after an influence steering problem derailed him at Vegas. He ran Fifteenth at Phoenix in his finale driving for Richard Petty Motorsports.
In Xfinity, Brown ought to once more be a favourite to land as high canine within the sequence. He completed twelfth in each races on the dogleg-styled monitor in 2020. Any shut competitors ought to come from Jeremy Clements, who was Tenth within the season finale again in November.
What They Stated
Checkered flag waves at @LVMotorSpeedway 🏁
— Richard Petty Motorsports (@RPMotorsports) March 7, 2021
— Ryan Preece (@RyanPreece_) March 8, 2021
Not fairly the day that we had hoped for, however nonetheless a good run.
— Michael McDowell (@Mc_Driver) March 8, 2021
From a clean race automobile to sponsored AT 👏 THE 👏 LAST 👏 MINUTE 👏 and we convey it dwelling P11.
— Brandon Brown (@brandonbrown_68) March 7, 2021
Nice day, thirteenth at @LVMotorSpeedway in @SantinoFerrucci second ever inventory automobile race. Nice job @Team_SHR26 and thanks @ToyotaRacing. This staff is working onerous day-after-day (and night time) pic.twitter.com/QALeBupfYT
— Sam Hunt (@SamHunt22) March 7, 2021
We wanted a Top10 and a clear truck to go to Atlanta – we did that. Thought we possibly might have gotten a top5 however ripping the highest simply didn’t work in addition to I hoped pic.twitter.com/VXf0wdP4Xs
— Parker Kligerman (@pkligerman) March 6, 2021
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