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Kyle Larson Outruns Veterans for Nationwide Win at Charlotte

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) CONCORD, N.C. — Once Kyle Larson made a breathtaking pass for the lead just past the midpoint of Saturday’s History 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the outome was all but decided.

Larson led the last 56 laps and 82 of the last 83 to win for the first time at Charlotte, the second time this season and the second time in 43 starts in the series.

Larson passed Brad Keselowski in traffic on Lap 118 of 200 and stayed out front the rest of the way, save for one circuit during a cycle of green-flag pit stops that ran from Lap 140 through Lap 144. Ultimately, Keselowski finished second after a heated late-race battle against polesitter Kyle Busch for that position.

“It was about perfect for us,” Larson said of his afternoon at the track. “It was nice looking in the rear-view mirror and seeing them get smaller and smaller each lap. It’s not very often that you see the 22 (Keselowski) and the 54 (Busch) get smaller in your mirror.

“So it just shows how great of a car we had. The pit crew did an awesome job every stop we had. We had a great green-flag stop, too, so hats off to everyone on the team for making this win possible.”

Busch held third, followed by Kevin Harvick and Brian Scott. Matt Kenseth, Regan Smith, Trevor Bayne, Chris Buescher and Ty Dillon completed the top 10.

With Chase Elliott running over debris and hitting the wall on Lap 87, leading to a 37th-place result, Smith took over the series lead by five points over Elliott Sadler, who came home 12th, the last driver on the lead lap.

Elliott dropped to third in the standings, 28 points behind his JR Motorsports teammate.

“Kyle and I had a great race—Kyle Busch,” Keselowski said. “Kyle Larson was just gone. He was pretty fast, just little bit better than us both in the corners and the straights… We need a little bit more, but we we’re running good, we’ve got a lot to be proud of, and we’ll move on.

Busch fought a loose handling condition for most of the race and summed up his run succinctly.

“I was wrecking loose all day—just trying to hang on,“ said Busch, whose car was transported back to the Joe Gibbs Racing shop for repairs after hitting the wall in Thursday’s practice. “I was lucky to finish.”

In heavy traffic, Larson whipped past Keselowski on Lap 118, holding his No. 42 Chevrolet wide open in spectacular fashion through Turns 3 and 4 as Keselowski’s Ford was blocked by lapped cars in the lower lanes.

“I thought, if I could catch Brad in a bad spot in traffic, I could use it (the high line) to my advantage, and that’s kind of what happened,” Larson said. “I saw a lot of lapped traffic ahead of us, and he had yet to try the top, or as high as I was going.

“He got kind of hung up behind them, and I had a clear lane up above. It may not have looked that clear on TV, but there was quite a bit of room up there for me. It was a pretty awesome move… That was kind of the move of the race.”

With Keselowski saving fuel during the latter stages of the long green-flag run, Larson opened an advantage of nearly four seconds, but Keselowski whittled three seconds off the margin by pitting under green on Lap 141, two laps earlier than Larson.

On fresh tires, Larson stretched his lead back to more than two seconds before NASCAR called a caution on Lap 169 for debris in Turn 3. All lead-lap cars came to pit road for four tires on Lap 171, with Larson retaining the top spot, trailed by Harvick (who gained one position), Keselowski and Busch (who picked up two spots on the exchange of pit stops).

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Jimmie Johnson Wins Pole for Coca-Cola 600

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) CONCORD, N.C. — The top spot on the grid is a comfortable place for Jimmie Johnson, who won the pole position for Sunday’sCoca-Cola 600 with a speed of 194.911 mph in the final round of knockout qualifying Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Johnson is the last driver to win NASCAR’s longest race from the pole, a feat he accomplished in 2004. In fact, Johnson is the only driver to win from the pole at Charlotte in this century, having also taken the checkered flag from the top starting position in the fall race of 2009.

When Johnson wins a Coors Light pole award, history indicates he’ll probably be fast in race trim as well. So chances are, the six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion will be a serious threat to end an uncharacteristically long 13-race winless streak dating to last season.

“It was a really strong lap,” Johnson acknowledged. “I’m very pleased with it. Happy to get this Lowe’s Chevrolet on the pole for this big race coming up Sunday afternoon. We knew we had a great race car today, so it was nice to get out there and work our way through the three segments here and get it done.

“On the first run we missed it a little bit, but (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) knew exactly how to dial me in for the second one. We got a lot closer and, for the third segment, laid down a good lap.”

Thursday’s pole was Johnson’s first of the season, his fifth at Charlotte and the 33rd of his career. Brad Keselowski qualified second at 194.567 mph, followed by Kasey Kahne (193.618 mph) and Danica Patrick (193.334 mph).

For Keselowski, the front row start is his seventh in 12 races this year, with six of those coming from the second position on the grid. Keselowski’s only pole came at Phoenix, in the second race of the season.

Patrick paced the second round, a 10-minute session, at 194.595 mph, the fastest qualifying lap ever run by a female driver at a 1.5-mile intermediate speedway.

“We have a lot to be proud of,” Patrick said. “I mean, let’s face it, this is the part of the weekend that I dreaded every time. I had to train myself to not say ‘I hate qualifying.’

“We were (sixth) in a round (the 25-minute first round), we were first in a round, and we were fourth in a round. A lot to be proud of at Stewart-Haas and for the GoDaddy car, and it’s going to give us a great starting spot for Sunday.”

Kevin Harvick had perhaps the fastest car but didn’t have the chance to prove it in the final five-minute round. When the clock ran out in the session, Harvick was approaching the start/finish line, but because he failed to start his lap before time expired, he didn’t post a lap that counted in the session.

Accordingly, Harvick, one of the favorites to win the 600, will start 11th. Matt Kenseth, who likewise failed to take the green in Round 3, starts 12th.

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NASCAR Announces 2015 Hall of Fame Class

By Kelly Crandall (CONCORD, N.C.) – The NASCAR Hall of Fame has its five newest members.

The sixth class of inductees was chosen today at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, where the voting panel consisting of various personalities throughout the sport spent the day debating and discussing the 20 nominees. On the panel this year making history was six-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who became the first active athlete to vote in a major sports Hall of Fame. Fans were also given a voice and contributed a vote as they had the opportunity to cast a ballot on NASCAR.com.

The day began around 11 a.m. with voting concluding shortly before the 3 p.m. NASCAR reporting thereafter that the new class had been chosen and there were no ties.

The 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class

Bill Elliott: The 1988 NASCAR Cup champion, a two-time Daytona 500 winner and 16-time most popular driver

Wendell Scott: The first African-American to win a NASCAR race

Joe Weatherly: A two-time NASCAR champion

Rex White: The 1960 NASCAR champion

Fred Lorenzen: Earned 26 wins, including the Daytona 500 and World 600

The 2015 Hall of Fame Nominees

Buddy Baker

Red Byron

Richard Childress

Jerry Cook

Bill Elliott

Ray Fox

Rick Hendrick

Bobby Issac

Terry Labonte

Fred Lorenzen

Raymond Parks

Benny Parsons

Larry Phillips

Wendell Scott

O. Bruton Smith

Mike Stefanik

Curtis Turner

Joe Weatherly

Rex White

Robert Yates

New this year for the voting panel was the award for an individual who has made significant contributions to the sport. Called the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR, five were nominated for the honor that was presented to one.

Nominated were H. Clay Earles, Anne B. France, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves, and Ken Squier.

Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR

Anne B. France

Anne Bledsoe was considered the matriarch of a motorsports empire. She met eventual NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. in 1931 and they were later married. Their eldest son, Bill France Jr., eventually became the head of the sport.

But Anne B. didn’t sit on the sidelines, she was very much involved in the business and the story goes that she ruled the roost. When the sport was founded in 1947 she became the treasurer and knew where every dollar was. Anne B. was also the secretary of Daytona International Speedway when it was built. She passed away in January of 1994.

The 2015 Hall of Fame class will be inducted January 30, 2015 in Charlotte.

EMAIL KELLY AT kelly.crandall@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @KellyCrandall

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Hornish Capitalizes on Rare Opportunity, Dominates at Iowa

By Rob Gray (NASCAR Wire Service) NEWTON, Iowa — Sam Hornish Jr.’s NASCAR Nationwide Series countdown at Iowa Speedway nearly followed a perfect path.

Mathematically speaking, anyway.

The part-time Joe Gibbs Racing driver — who finished second, third or fourth in his previous three races at the 7/8-mile track — dominated Sunday, leading 167 laps en route to an all-smiles triumph in the Get to Know Newton 250 presented by Sherwin-Williams.

“I just couldn’t be happier right now,” the driver of the No. 54 car said.

Nor faster.

Hornish pulled away from his only stern competition, Coors Light Pole sitter Ryan Blaney, on a lap 229 restart and celebrated his third career series victory.

Blaney excelled in long runs, led 80 laps, but settled for second.

“I felt like if we had maybe 15 more laps I might have been able to get to him, but it would be tough to get around him,” said Blaney, who won a 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa. “But like I said, we just needed to have a little more short-run speed and we might have had something.”

Regan Smith, who hasn’t finished outside the top 10 all season, took third, with points leader Chase Elliott and Elliott Sadler finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.

But none of these three drivers were able to interrupt Hornish’s or Blaney’s hold on the lead, which spanned all but three laps.

“Would have liked to have one more caution in there, to see if Ryan and Sam maybe would have gone down and moved each other up the track and we could have capitalized,” Smith said. But a good day.”

Elliott nurses a narrow two-point lead over both Smith and Sadler in the point standings and survived two slow pit stops to notch his fifth top-five finish of the season.

“Just a lot of catch up,” Elliott said of his day in general. “Once we got some laps on the tires, we were OK, I thought.”

As for the pit road issues…

“Hopefully we can have those fixed before next week,” the recent high school graduate said.

Hornish noted that past near-misses at Newton helped steer him to Victory Lane this time in a race marked by five cautions.

“It really hammered into my head exactly what I wanted out of the car and each time I’ve come back it’s been able to get a little bit closer to that, a little bit more of that,” he said. “That’s one of those things that takes a little bit of experience.”

Hornish, 34, is slated to run five more races for Gibbs this season, with enhanced opportunities possibly lurking on the horizon.

And he’s OK with that.

The uncertainty Hornish faced in the offseason, coupled with the abbreviated schedule, allows

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him to “pay back” his wife, Crystal, who in February gave birth to the couple’s third child, son Sam III.

“She wanted two kids, I wanted more than that and we’re at three now,” Hornish said. “So I’ve got to be there to help out. I look at it as, each time I get in the race care is a blessing, but on the same hand, each day I get to be at home and do things with them — I think yesterday, my 3-year-old cut a big hole in her mom’s shirt, so I was glad I wasn’t at home. But on the same thing, I know that those are moments that you don’t get back.”

And, like he said, he couldn’t be happier — as a part-time driver, and closer to full-time dad.

“I’d rather be part-time in this car than full-time in a lot of [others],” Hornish said. “And this is why.”

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NASCAR Launches New Campaign Centered on Father’s Day

By Stephanie Adair – NASCAR is a family sport with fathers being deeply rooted in its foundation.

Famous fathers like Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Bill Elliott, Ned Jarrett and Richard Petty have seen their children grow up and follow in their footsteps. Many fans developed a love of NASCAR at a young age through their father, who introduced them to racing. NASCAR helps bring families together, while creating cherished memories.

On Tuesday the sport announced “NASCAR with DAD,” a campaign to promote memorable moments with fathers. They encourage all fans to share their favorite memories with dad at the track by using #NASCARwithDAD on all platforms of social media.

During Father’s Day weekend NASCAR official partners, 3M, Ford, Goodyear, and Sprint will be surprising fans and their fathers at Michigan International Speedway with special experiences.

Called the #NASCARwithDAD sweepstakes, the grand prize includes an exclusive VIP experience for two at Homestead-Miami Speedway, along with an unforgettable Goodyear Blimp Ride over the track.

Fans who enter can also win one of ten NASCAR Racing Experience prize packages, which give them an opportunity to drive a NASCAR-style stock car with their Dad.

“For generations, the bonds between parents and children have been cemented through sharing memorable NASCAR experiences,” said NASCAR’s managing director of marketing platforms Matt Shulman. “This campaign celebrates those special Father’s Day memories through the lens of NASCAR.”

To enter for a chance to win the #NASCARwithDAD sweepstakes visit www.nascar.com/NASCARwithDad. The contest will be open until the end of Father’s day.

EMAIL STEPHANIE AT stephanie.adair@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @S_Adair98

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Kyle Busch Takes Fourth Consecutive Truck Series Win

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) CONCORD, N.C. After Friday night’s dominating performance at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch is a full-fledged, bona fide member of the “Untouchables,” at least where the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is concerned.

Leading 130 of 134 laps after starting on the pole for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200, Busch won his third truck series race in as many starts this season and his fourth straight dating to last year’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The victory was Busch’s 38th in the series and his sixth at Charlotte.

Matt Crafton ran second, giving Busch and the defending series champion their second straight 1-2 finish after last week’s run at Kansas Speedway.

Brad Keselowski came home third, followed by John Wes Townley, who posted his career-best result. Timothy Peters ran fifth after pitting for tires under the final caution.

Busch had led 100 of the first 104 laps, the only exceptions coming when Joe Nemechek stayed out under the fifth caution—when Townley knocked Ryan Blaney’s Ford into the infield grass from a three-wide logjam in the tri-oval.

Townley careened into the outside wall, collecting the Toyota of Brian Ickler, to cause the seventh caution, a yellow-flag period that gave contending trucks behind Busch the chance to pit for new tires.

Keselowski, on new tires, advanced from 10th to seventh after a restart on Lap 114, but on that same lap, Ron Hornaday Jr. spun on the backstretch across the nose of Turner Scott Motorsports teammate Ben Kennedy, collecting the trucks of Mason Mingus and Jake Crum in the process.

“I had a good run, and I thought I cleared Ben, and I didn’t,” Hornaday explained, apologizing for the contact.

Keselowski climbed to third after the final restart with 13 laps left but couldn’t catch Crafton for second. The race ended under caution when Jeb Burton spun through the tri-oval grass after Busch had taken the white flag.