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Kyle Larson wins Sunday’s Monster Energy Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway

Kyle Larson celebrated his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in two years Sunday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, taking the checkered flag in the Drydene 400 by a convincing 1.578-seconds over Martin Truex Jr. and securing himself and his Chip Ganassi Racing team their first-ever berth in the upcoming Playoff Round of 8.

Larson’s friend and polesitter Denny Hamlin finished fifth after leading a race-best 218 laps. But perhaps the two golf buddies would agree, on this Sunday, Larson’s long game was just a bit better.

Larson, who started alongside Hamlin on the front row, took the race lead on a fast pit stop by his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet team during the Stage 2 break, and pulled out to a five, then six-second advantage on the field – first on Hamlin then on Truex, a contender all afternoon. Truex won Stage 2 and led 15 laps but a slight pit stop miscue put the 2017 Cup champion out of the pits sixth on that stage stop instead of with the lead.

“After the first stage I kind of changed my driving style up and I felt like I made the car better at the same time and it really benefitted our long runs,’’ said Larson, who led 154 laps en route to his sixth career – and first Playoff victory. “That’s as good as I’ve ever been around cutting the bottom here. Just a great combination here. Good to be fast in practice and then be good again in the race and get the win.

“This is unbelievable,’’ he continued, motioning toward the track’s front grandstands in gratitude.

“I’ve always wanted to win a Cup race here. I’ve been close a number of times, so to get a Golden Monster (trophy) is going to be pretty sweet.’’

Larson and Truex’s fellow playoff contenders Alex Bowman, Kevin Harvick and Hamlin rounded out the Top-5 on Sunday. Regular-season champion Kyle Busch, who started 18th – lowest on the grid of the 12 Playoff drivers rallied from an early-race pit road penalty to finish sixth.

Heading to the second race of the Playoffs’ three-race Round 2, Larson’s victory puts him atop the standings with a 500-mile race at the historic Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway next week. Truex’s runner-up finish puts him atop the points – 15 points ahead of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Hamlin. Busch’s rally puts the regular-season champ fourth in the points standings – tied with Hamlin.

“We were catching him at the end, got closed, just unfortunate there,’’ Truex said. “We win and lose as a team and the guys will clean it up for sure.”

He added, “Every week is about getting most points you can, so a positive day for us.’’

Positive would be an understatement for Larson, who celebrated in victory lane for the first time in 75 races hoisting Dover’s special Golden trophy – specially designed to commemorate the track’s 100th Cup Series race. Larson has been consistently good at Dover throughout his six-year Cup career, the 27-year old Californian earning a pair of runner-up finishes previously. He was third there in this Spring’s race – a race won by Truex.

Hamlin, who won the pole position by a mere .003-seconds over Larson, looked strong early but radioed to his team with 130 laps remaining that he was worried about his car’s engine. At the time, however, he was running fastest among the field and maintaining a nearly 2-second advantage over third place. With about 60 laps to go, Truex got around Hamlin.

Plenty of lapped traffic put Truex in position to perhaps make a move toward Larson. Twice the traffic cut Larson’s leads from more than 5-seconds to under 2-seconds.

Among the other Playoff-eligible drivers, Clint Bowyer rallied to a 10th place finish, one position ahead of 2012 Cup champion Brad Keselowski, who was the only driver to score Top-5 finishes in all three opening round races. William Byron was 13th.

It was a tough day for several other Playoff drivers. Ryan Blaney, who ran Top-10 much of the afternoon, pit on Lap 298 complaining of a brake issue. The Team Penske crew took his No. 12 Ford to the garage for repairs and he finished 35th.

It was nothing short of a monstrous beginning for two other Playoff competitors. Reigning Cup champion Joey Logano didn’t even take the green flag with the field. Instead his No. 22 Team Penske Ford was in the garage where the team was furiously working to repair an axle problem. He returned to the track 24 laps down and finished 34th.

Defending Dover race winner and last week’s Charlotte ROVAL winner Chase Elliott only lasted eight laps on Sunday – his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet suffering an early engine failure. He was officially scored last – 38th – and like Logano and Blaney, will need to have big points days at both Talladega and Kansas tracks. Elliott won at Talladega in May and is the defending Kansas Playoff winner.

Matt DiBenedetto finished seventh-best among the non-Playoff drivers. Jimmie Johnson, whose 11 Dover wins makes him the track’s winningest driver, scored points in both Stage 1 and Stage 2, took over the points lead among drivers who didn’t qualify for the Playoffs. He now leads Daniel Suarez by 10-points.

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Cole Custer claims Xfinity Series victory at Dover International Speedway

DOVER, Del. – In his 100th NASCAR Xfinity Series start, Cole Custer conquered the Monster Mile.

Custer held off a hungry field of Playoff contenders on a restart with seven laps to go and pulled away from Justin Allgaier to win the Use Your Melon Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway on Saturday afternoon.

Custer, who claimed the victory as Dover celebrates its 50th anniversary, is the fifth Xfinity Series driver to win in their 100th start.

“I’ve wanted to win here so bad for so long,” Custer said. “I’ve been close a number of times but just to win the gold Monster (trophy) is unbelievable.”

Michael Annett claimed the last available spot in the Round of 8 as the first round of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs came to a close Saturday. Advancing along with Custer and Annett are Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Austin Cindric, Noah Gragson, Chase Briscoe and Justin Allgaier.

Eliminated from championship contention were John Hunter Nemechek, Justin Haley, Ryan Sieg and Brandon Jones.

Custer, Annett and Haley were the biggest benefactors of a caution with 23 laps to go that fell in the middle of green-flag pit stops that changed the complexion of the race.

Dillon Bassett spun at pit entrance on lap 177 which brought out the yellow flag, leaving only Custer, Annett, Haley, Justin Allgaier, Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric and Zane Smith on the lead lap.

Custer maintained the lead on the lap 185 restart only to see another caution displayed when Ray Black Jr. crashed in Turn 2, where Matt Mills and Stephen Leicht were also collected.

Luckily for Custer, the final caution didn’t limit him. He cleared Allgaier and Haley on the restart and pulled away swiftly for his seventh win of 2019, tying Christopher Bell for the most in the series this season.

“(The car) felt really good in practice,” Custer said. “I thought we had a good car. I don’t think it was everything we expected in the race. We kind of tried something a little bit different in this race but just (an) amazing pit call.”

The Playoff drama began on the opening lap when both Reddick and Harrison Burton broke loose on the back straightaway. Reddick slapped the wall with the right side of his car and continued, but Burton wasn’t as lucky.

Burton spun toward the inside of the track and was clobbered by teammate Brandon Jones, lifting Burton’s No. 18 car off the ground. Both drivers were checked and released from the infield care center, but Jones’ Playoff hopes ended there.

“There’s nothing that you can do about it,” Jones said after exiting the care center.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s luck worsened when Bell lost fuel pressure on lap 15, shortly after brushing the wall off Turn 4. Bell finished 25th behind the wall 34 laps down.

The early cautions continued on lap 21 when Nemechek spun Mike Harmon exiting Turn 4 and onto the fronstretch.

That was the end of yellows for on-track incidents until Bassett spun on lap 177.

Annett, who finished sixth after starting from the rear of the field due to an engine change, advanced out of the first round of the Playoffs for the first time in his Xfinity career.

“I can’t say enough about these guys all the way through these playoffs,” Annett said. “To come from the back today is just a testament to the car they gave me.”

Nemechek finished in 10th place after an eventful race. A strong pit stop at the conclusion of Stage 2 allowed his No. 23 to exit pit road fourth. That effort went for naught after a loose lug nut forced Nemechek back to the pits.

“That’s why we’re standing here, I feel like,” Nemechek said. “It just put us behind the eight-ball. We were in good position all day and right here, we came out of the pits fourth, but we didn’t have enough lug nuts on the left rear.

“Had to come back down. You can’t have a loose wheel here at Dover. It’s just something that you don’t want to have under green. I think we got the margin down to minus-six or something like that after the first two stages and were executing like we needed to all day. We just haven’t been able to close this year.”

Rounding out the top five behind Custer were Allgaier, Cindric, Haley and Briscoe. Annett was sixth and his JR Motorsports teammate Noah Gragson was the last car on the lead lap in seventh. Nemechek, Smith and Sieg completed the top 10.

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Sam Mayer Dominates Dover To Close Championship Season

DOVER, Del. — Friday was his day, and 2019 was his season.

All Sam Mayer had to do to clinch the 2019 K&N Pro Series East championship was take the green flag. But after being quickest in practice and qualifying on the pole, he led all but two laps to close the season with a win and celebrate in style.

“I can’t thank everyone at GMS enough for all they do for me,” Mayer said. “I mean, they had a rocket ship for me, I can’t thank them enough for that. Drivers Edge Development, Chevrolet, Chevrolet Accessories for being on the car and bringing me out here in the first place, and giving me this opportunity to go win a K&N East championship.It means so much and I’m going to celebrate even more, for sure.”

Mayer is the youngest NASCAR champion at 16 years, 3 months and 8 days, eclipsing mark set in 2016 by current Todd Gilliland (16 years, 5 months). Mayer also bettered the East record that was set in 2017 Harrison Burton (16 years, 11 months, 20 days).

In total, Mayer won four races and finished outside the top 10 only once in 12 races (South Boston Twin No. 2, where he left early due to a prior commitment). His average finish for 2019 wound up being an impressive 3.2.

The championship is also GMS Racing’s first in the series, coming in their first full-time season of competition in the K&N Pro Series.

The DGR-Crosley trio of Tanner Gray, who led two laps, Todd Gilliland and Drew Dollar finished second, third and fourth, respectively, with Chase Cabre rounding out the top five.

Max McLaughlin, Spencer Davis, Ruben Garcia Jr., Brandon McReynolds and Justin S. Carroll completed the top 10.

Cabre finished a career-best second in the standings, 38 points behind Mayer. Davis (-42) finished third, with Tanner Gray (-48) and Max McLaughlin (-61) completing the top five.

The General Tire 125 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Friday, October 11 at 6 p.m.

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NASCAR, ARCA announce framework for four championship series in 2020

From Jimmie Johnson to William Byron, the path to the top of NASCAR has long gone through ARCA and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.

In 2020, that path will take on a new look.

With an announcement Wednesday, NASCAR and ARCA unveiled the new ARCA Menards Series, which will encompass the three long-running regional stock car series, while also providing a new combined championship series.

What has been known as the K&N Pro Series East and West will become the ARCA Menards Series East and West. The current 20-race ARCA Menards Series will remain in place. And a 10-race slate within the latter will serve as a crossover for all three series, and crown a fourth champion of the ARCA Showdown.

The news is the next step that began with an announcement in April 2018 that NASCAR had acquired ARCA. Over the ensuing months, hours of research, on-track testing and meetings with stakeholders were poured into the process to come up with a series that would serve as one strong pathway for drivers aspiring to reach the next level of the sport while at the same time becoming a place where veteran short-track racers could find a home.

While they competed as separate series throughout 2019, both sides worked together to create the common platform.

Enter the ARCA Menards Series.

“Both NASCAR and ARCA have worked extremely hard over the last year to provide a rules package and schedule that will serve as the foundation for the pre-eminent series for racing at this level,” said Brandon Thompson, managing director, NASCAR touring series. “It was important for us to move the series forward while creating an environment inclusive for both the current long-term owners and drivers in the series as well as aspiring competitors.”

“What first started as a friendship between Bill France Sr. and John Marcum nearly 70 years ago took a momentous step forward today,” ARCA President Ron Drager said. “The amount of history and tradition these series are bringing together to form four elite championships for drivers is an amazing testament to the strength of this sport.”

NASCAR also announced if an East, West or current ARCA Menards Series car owner has a car that meets the 2019 Rule Book, there will be a rules package that will allow them to compete in 2020.

DRIVING SUCCESS AT THE GRASSROOTS LEVEL

In recent years, both the NASCAR Pro Series and ARCA Menards Series have become instrumental in developing the next crop of NASCAR Cup Series superstars. Like Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick before them, the likes of 2018 Cup Series champion Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson raced – and won – at this level.

Of the 12 remaining drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, 10 of them have won races in either series – accumulating 43 victories and four championships. The top eight NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff drivers have won races in either the NASCAR K&N Pro Series or ARCA Menards Series, with Justin Allgaier and Chase Briscoe being former champions.

With series that feature historic names such as Frank Kimmel, Hershel McGriff and Andy Santerre, the ability to create an environment where drivers can compete at this level for an extended period of time was equally important in the process.

From NASCAR to the Indianapolis 500, John Menard has found success supporting motorsports in the United States, and the opportunity to serve as the entitlement sponsor for this new broader entity fit perfectly into his desire to support grassroots racing.

MORE: Daytona, Midwest carry traditions into new era

“We’ve been a long-time racing sponsor at various levels including NASCAR, IndyCar and ARCA and are pleased to take our partnership with ARCA to the next level,” Menard said. “We like doing business together and share many of the same values and standards that have helped us survive and thrive through the years.”

K&N Engineering, which took over as the East and West entitlement sponsor in 2010 and helped further elevate the two regional series as a cohesive national stage, will remain a key entity in the sport as the “Official Performance Filter of NASCAR.”

NEW ERA EXTENDS RICH HISTORY

The new series provides continuity to three of the longest running high-level regional stock car series in the United States.

 The ARCA Menards Series West began in 1954 as the Pacific Coast Late Model Series. In what became more widely recognized during the NASCAR Winston West era, it produced short-track legends such as McGriff, Ray Elder and Roy Smith. Harvick won the championship in 1998, and in recent years, powerhouse Bill McAnally Racing and southern California car owner Bob Bruncati’s Sunrise Ford Racing have clashed in championship battles under the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West banner.

 ARCA Menards Series East was founded in 1987 as the NASCAR Busch North Series, a companion to the Charlotte-based NASCAR Busch Series. Northeast stars like Andy Santerre, Mike Stefanik and Ricky Craven dominated the Expanding to the East Series in 2006, it became a proving ground for the sport’s next top stars, beginning with Logano’s championship run in 2007 as a highly touted 16-year-old. Drivers such as Larson, Byron and Tyler Ankrum won East titles to kick off their ascent up the NASCAR ladder.

 The ARCA Menards Series, founded in 1953, is a mix of national series combination events and Midwest short tracks. Frank Kimmel won a record 10 championships between 1998 and 2013, while current Cup Series drivers Ty Dillon and Chris Buescher and 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Regular Season Champion Grant Enfinger took home championships in recent years.

While the complete 2020 race schedules for all four championships are still to be announced, Thompson and Drager confirmed a number of key events for the upcoming series.

 The 2020 ARCA Menards Series will officially begin Saturday, Feb. 8, at Daytona with the Lucas Oil 200 Driven By General Tire. It will mark the 57th annual ARCA visit to Daytona. The 10-race superspeedway portion of the schedule will include Talladega Superspeedway, Michigan International Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Pocono Raceway, and finish the season at Kansas Speedway in October.

 The ARCA Menards Series West will begin the season as part of the national series weekend at Las Vegas, with the return to the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The West slate will also include traditional events at Irwindale Speedway, All American Speedway in Roseville and Sonoma Raceway, with the championship culminating at ISM Raceway in November.

 The ARCA Menards Series East schedule includes events at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida, as well as Toledo Speedway, Watkins Glen International and again be part of the annual Full Throttle Fall Weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It will have its championship decided with its traditional fall visit to Dover International Speedway.

 The Showdown will take the green flag with ARCA’s inaugural visit to ISM Raceway on March 6 as part of the national series’ event weekend in Phoenix. The Showdown’s 10 races, which will also count as part of the 20-race ARCA Menards Series schedule, features events at Indiana’s Salem Speedway, Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Minnesota’s Elko Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Iowa Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. Both Iowa and Gateway have hosted K&N Pro West combination races as well as ARCA events annually, and this in an opportunity for those tracks to bring all three series together. The first Showdown champion will be crowned at Memphis International Raceway in September.

In addition, NASCAR and MAVTV announced a three-year extension of its telecast rights agreement for select ARCA Menards Series races. The partnership, combined with the races covered on FOX Sports, means that all 20 ARCA Menards Series races — including the 10-race Showdown portion — will be available via live or same-day broadcast. NBCSN will continue to carry the ARCA Menards Series East and West as part of their extensive NASCAR coverage.

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Craig Lutz Breaks Into Victory Lane in NAPA Fall Final at Stafford

STAFFORD, Conn. — For the second straight year, the NAPA Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway produced a first-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour winner.

Craig Lutz took the lead from Doug Coby on a restart with 33 laps to go, and drove away from Coby, and defending series champion Justin Bonsignore, to earn his first career checkered flag in his 66th series start.

Prior to Sunday, Lutz had finished inside the top five in four of his 12 Stafford starts, including the last three. He had also finished inside the top five in eight of the 14 races in 2019.

For the first time, the Miller Place, New York, driver was able to celebrate a trophy.

“The first win is always special,” Lutz said. “Everyone kept on asking me when it was coming. To finally knock one off, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Lutz started ninth and rode inside the top 10 for the duration of the race, but shined when it mattered most. Chris Pasteryak earned his first career Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole award in qualifying, and led the first six laps, before Coby took control.

Bonsignore took the lead from Coby just before halfway, and paced the field until a caution just after lap 100, when leaders pitted multiple times for tires. It would be the only caution of the day that Coby, Bonsignore and Lutz entered pit road.

Pasteryak would lead eight more laps after cycling back to the lead, but couldn’t hold the top spot, as Coby slid by, then a restart gave Lutz his opportunity. Lutz passed Coby and never looked back, minding a gap back to Bonsignore for the final 10 laps.

“I just didn’t look in my mirror,” Lutz said. “I have an awesome spotter, who has a lot of experience, and he kept telling me to stay smooth and hit my marks. That’s what I kept doing.”

Bonsignore would finish second, while Coby settled for third. Chuck Hossfeld, who missed practice and qualifying on Saturday, charged from the rear of the field to finish fourth. Matt Swanson was fifth.

Ron Silk finished sixth, followed by Bobby Santos III, Woody Pitkat, Chase Dowling and Patrick Emerling.

Coby leads Bonsignore by 19 points with one championship points race remaining in search of his sixth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship.

The NAPA Fall Final 150 will air on NBCSN on Friday, October 4, at 7 p.m.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track for the annual Sunoco World Series at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, the final race of the season, on Sunday, October 13.

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Elliott rallies for Roval win as Bowman squeaks into Round of 12

CONCORD, N.C. – Moments after taking the checkered flag in Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course, race winner Chase Elliott revisited the site of his biggest mistake.

Elliott drove his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet up to the tire barrier in Turn 1 of the 2.28-mile, 17-turn course and began a burnout that bordered on the sarcastic.

Early in the final stage of the 109-lap event and after a restart on Lap 65, Elliott locked up his brakes and plowed straight into the tire barrier, taking out the “Tums” logo in the corner known as Heartburn Turn. After pitting to address the damage, Elliott fell to 37th in the running and spent the rest of the race working his way forward.

After a spate of opportune cautions, Elliott took the lead for good on Lap 104, passing Martin Truex Jr. for second and Kevin Harvick for the top spot after the final restart.

Five laps later, Elliott crossed the finish line 3.016 seconds ahead of teammate Alex Bowman, who made a heroic run from the rear of the field to finish second and wrestle the final berth in the Round of 12 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs from Aric Almirola and Ryan Newman.

“Oh, my gosh, what a mistake, holy moly,” said Elliott, who picked up his third victory of the season, his first at the Charlotte road course and the sixth of his career. “You talk about messing something up, right here — don’t do that.

“What a day. Such a fast NAPA Camaro ZL1, and honestly that was the only reason we were able to get back in it. I pretty well blew it and got the cautions at the right time and brought it home. … But I don’t think that I could have done anything more stupid, leading that race.”

Bowman and Newman were locked in a tight battle for the final spot in the Round of 12 before Newman blew the backstretch chicane with three laps left and dropped to 32nd at the finish. That left Newman 14th in the standings and 15 points behind Bowman.

Almirola raced to a 14th-place finish and left Charlotte five points behind Bowman, the first driver outside the top 12. Kurt Busch (20th) and Erik Jones (40th after a Lap 23 crash knocked a hole in the radiator of his No. 20 Toyota) also were eliminated from the playoffs, which resume next Sunday at Dover International Speedway.

Bowman overcame a litany of mistakes and ill fortune to grab the final slot in the Round of 12. With 25 seconds left in Saturday’s final Cup practice, he crashed in Turns 3 and 4 and was forced to go to a backup car. That meant starting from the rear Sunday, and halfway through the first lap, Bowman spun in the backstretch chicane.

He was turned sideways in the six-car Lap 23 wreck that started when Busch slammed into the rear of Chris Buescher’s Chevrolet as the cars slowed entering the corner. And on Lap 42, Bowman turned Bubba Wallace at the exit of the backstretch chicane after a heated exchange that featured uncomplimentary hand gestures from Wallace.

At the end of the race, Wallace still was seething. As Bowman sat exhausted with his back against the driver’s side of his No. 88 Chevrolet, Wallace threw a drink into Bowman’s face and walked away.

Bowman could take solace, however, in the knowledge his championship hopes are still alive. After the race, Bowman visited the infield care center suffering from dehydration, team owner Rick Hendrick confirmed.

Truex, Harvick and Kyle Busch already had clinched Round of 12 spots entering the Charlotte race. Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Clint Bowyer, pole winner William Byron, Ryan Blaney and Bowman clinched Sunday.

Harvick finished third in the Roval 400, followed by Bowyer, Keselowski, Truex and Blaney, who gritted out his eighth-place finish after damaging the rear suspension by hitting the wall.

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Derek Kraus Survives Meridian Carnage, Wins In Overtime

MERIDIAN, Idaho — The man to beat all season was the man to beat on Saturday night.

Derek Kraus charged up through the field from seventh to lead 100 laps and earn his fourth K&N Pro Series West victory this season, 12th overall of his career and first at Meridian Speedway in the NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208.

“Finally,” Kraus said with a smile. “It’s been a good year so far and tonight was just another short track race. There was lots of beating and banging, there were lots of yellows for sure. There were a lot of restarts, and I was able to get the lead over Jagger (Jones) about halfway through the race and I was able to keep it. That was really good, I’m really proud of how tonight went and I can’t thank these guys enough.”

Last season, Kraus led 189 of 208 laps from the pole, only to finish third after a late race incident with a lapped car. In three of his four K&N West wins this season, he’s led 100 laps or more.

But Kraus’ main competition was the man who led the most laps (121) on the evening from the pole: Jagger Jones.

With three laps to go in regulation, Kraus opted for the high lane on the restart, allowing Jones to take the bottom. The two made contact in Turns 1 and 2, and Kraus tapped Jones in Turn 3, sending him spinning, causing a massive pileup involving almost half the field.

“I’m sure he’s not very happy with me, but that’s racing,” Kraus said of the incident. “I’ve been on the other end of that and I know how it feels with Colorado. I’m sure he’s mad, and I’m sorry about it, but I guess that’s short track racing.”

Jones, understandably, wasn’t in the mood for apologies.

Following Kraus to the checkered flag was Todd Souza, who cleared the smoke to come home runner-up, his second-best career result. Trevor Huddleston did the same to finish third.

Josh Jackson, making his K&N debut, finished fourth after earning three free passes throughout the race, with Brad Kossow (also making his debut) rounding out the top five.

At the time of the green/white/checkered overtime restart, Josh Fanopoulos was running fourth, the highest he’s ever ran in a K&N Pro Series race. Despite being spun on the frontstretch on said restart, he earned his career best finish in sixth. Travis Milburn, Brittney Zamora, Zach Telford and Keith McGee completed the top 10.

Telford, a 15-year-old from Middleton, Idaho, was running second on the final lap before contact from Souza sent him spinning in Turn 2. He was making his first series start, as well.

The defending winner of the race, Hailie Deegan, got into some trouble of her own on Lap 132. After racing hard with Souza, she and Huddleston got together, giving her Bill McAnally Racing machine heavy nose damage. She ultimately finished 13th, 13 laps down.

Devin Dodson, who started a career-best fourth, finished 17th, 71 laps down after an accident on Lap 153 with Takuma Koga damaged the radiator.

In total, 12 caution flags flew for 70 laps, falling one yellow shy of the track record in 2016.

With the win, Kraus extends his championship points lead from 29 to 40. With his podium run and Deegan’s troubles, Huddleston now sits second in the standings, with Deegan third, Jones fourth and Zamora fifth.

The NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Friday, October 4 at 6 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series West event will take place at All American Speedway in Roseville, California on Saturday, October 12.

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Andrew Ranger Claims Third Series Title, Brett Taylor Scores Dramatic Maiden Win

It’s been near impossible to separate Andrew Ranger and Kevin Lacroix throughout the 2019 season.

The two drivers have traded the points lead since the season opened at CTMP in May, and entered the season finale at Jukasa Motor Speedway as the only two drivers in contention for the championship.

It was only fitting the trend continued as Ranger edged Lacroix by one position to earn his third NASCAR Pinty’s Series championship.

It was a celebration ten years in the making.

Ranger, who won the inaugural Pinty’s Series championship in 2007 at the ripe age of 20, followed that two years later with a second championship. He’s remained a dominant driver – he is the series all-time leader in wins with 28 – but has repeatedly suffered heartbreak chasing his third title.

Following four wins and a nearly perfect 2019 season, a fourth-place finish was all Ranger needed to finally return to the pinnacle of the sport.

“It’s a dream and I’m so happy for my crew,” Ranger said. “Everybody here works so hard and it’s fantastic to win our third championship. I knew that we were really fast, we knew we had to finish in front of him, and we did just that and won the championship.”

Despite leading the most laps, Kevin Lacroix would once again fall short of his maiden championship. He finished the season with two wins, but the bad luck struck again.

Lacroix started the race on the provisional pole after qualifying was rained out, and dominated the first half of the race, locking up bonus points for the most laps led. But following the halfway break, he began to fade.

“We had a fast car today,” Lacroix said. “We went for the win, so we tried an adjustment but it didn’t work out. We are just very thankful for the great season that we had.”

As Lacroix fell back, it was the pair of EHR Team Orange drivers who saw their cars jump to life. Brett Taylor and Jason Hathaway battled for the last quarter of the race, treating fans to one of the most high-intensity battles of the season. As the laps wore down, Taylor tried everything he could to get around his teammate: he did just that in the most dramatic way possible.

On the final lap, in the final corner, Taylor made his move. Putting the bumper to Hathaway, the Calgary, Alberta driver lead only one lap all evening: the most important one. Scoring his first career Pinty’s Series win, Taylor would make history in the process.

“[Jason] gave me enough room on the bottom to race him clean,” Taylor said. “I was super loose and every time I got to his door I had to back off cause I didn’t want to blow a tire.

“In the end, all I had to do was give him a little bit of a bump,” Taylor added.

With the victory, Taylor becomes the first Western Canadian driver to win in the Pinty’s Series –158 of the first 159 races were won by drivers from Ontario and Quebec, with Donald Chisholm (Nova Scotia) the previous outlier.

Hathaway would come home second, just over a tenth of a second behind Taylor. Donald Theetge finished third in his final start as a full-time driver.

Ranger and Lacroix completed the top five.  Pete Shepherd III finished sixth after having to start at the rear, with Alex Guenette, who was subbing for Alex Tagliani coming home in seventh.

D.J Kennington, Mathieu Kingsbury and LP Dumoulin would complete the top ten.

The Pinty’s Fall Brawl will air on TSN on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 12:30 p.m. and on RDS2 on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 12:30 p.m.

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AJ Allmendinger wins wild NASCAR Xfinity race at Charlotte ROVAL

CONCORD, N.C. – AJ Allmendinger stole the thunder from a series of intense battles among NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff drivers to win Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 250 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.

Allmendinger muscled his way past series leader Christopher Bell as the cars climbed from the infield section onto the banking on Lap 48 of 67 and held the top spot through three subsequent restarts in the action-filled second race of the Xfinity Round of 12.

The road course ace scored his third victory in 16 starts in his series, finishing 2.386 seconds ahead of Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick during a three-lap run to the finish.

“Whooo! Damn, I’m tired—thank you everybody!” Allmendinger said during a postrace interview beneath the flag stand. “I can’t thank (owner) Matt Kaulig enough, first of all. He put his belief in me, wanting me to come here and help build this team.

“I have to thank Tyler Reddick– he’s phenomenal. He told me when I got here I needed to get better on the road courses, because he out-qualified me in every race lately and even beat me in a couple.

“I knew with him behind me (for the last two restarts), I could be defensive on the right side and give myself an angle, and Tyler wouldn’t shove down in there. I appreciate that. I tried to change the restarts up enough each time, but you can only do so much. I knew once we got into clear air, this thing was good. In traffic, it was a struggle.”

For the final two restarts, Allmendinger lined up next to Playoff driver Austin Cindric, who broke a rear shock and lost the runner-up position to Reddick on the penultimate lap. Cindric held third over Justin Allgaier, with Noah Gragson securing the fifth position after starting from the rear of the field in a backup car.

“I wish I had a chance to fight the 10 (Allmendinger) there at the end, but under caution I felt a shock mount break,” Cindric said. “The right-rear shock was clean off the race car before I even restarted the race, so I’m glad I didn’t wreck, and I’m glad I finished third.

“I guess all of that is positive, but at the same time, I felt like we had a good shot, especially if the thing would have gone green, to try to pressure him into a mistake or getting a good lunge, but, all in all, a great points day, a great day for the MoneyLion Ford Mustang. We’ve got to keep it going this way.”

While Allmendinger was enjoying the clean air at the front of the field, the top drivers in the Xfinity Playoffs were busy salvaging respectable finishes from a litany of troubles.

After giving up the lead to Allmendinger, Bell drew a penalty for blowing the final chicane while racing side-by-side with Chase Briscoe, but not before contact between their two cars sent Briscoe spinning between Turns 2 and 3 on Lap 58.

Already qualified for the next round of the Playoffs after last week’s victory at Richmond, Bell recovered from a rear-of-the-field penalty to finish 12th and maintained a 10-point advantage Cole Custer, who came home eighth after spinning in Turn 1 during a multicar mashup on Lap 44. Despite the wild day, Custer was able clinch a spot in the Round of 8 on points.

After his spin on Lap 58, Briscoe charged through traffic to finish ninth and heads for next week’s elimination race at Dover sixth in the standings—46 points behind Bell but 35 ahead of ninth place John Hunter Nemechek, who ran seventh on Saturday. The Playoff field will be cut from 12 drivers to eight at Dover.

Nemechek is 11 points behind Michael Annett in eighth place, tied with Brandon Jones (16th Saturday). Ryan Sieg finished 30th after suffering fuel pressure issues and enters the Dover race 37 points below the cut line. Justin Haley, Allmendinger’s Kaulig Racing teammate broke a track bar mount early in the race and finished 31st, six laps down and 39 points behind Annett.

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William Byron rates at the Roval, blasts to fifth Busch Pole of the season

CONCORD, N.C. – William Byron has the knack at his home track, even if the two configurations at Charlotte Motor Speedway are vastly different.

A Charlotte native, Byron won the pole for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte back in May on the traditional 1.5-mile oval. On Friday, Byron toured Charlotte’s Roval — a 2.32-mile, 17-turn road course — in 80.932 seconds (103.198 mph) to earn the top starting spot for Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

In winning his fifth Busch Pole Award of the season and the fifth of his career, Byron edged Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman (103.078 mph) by .094 seconds. Byron and Bowman are 12th and 13th, respectively, in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, with the playoff field to be cut to the top 12 drivers after the first-round elimination race.

Byron was quickest despite a brush with the wall in the final chicane.

“Yeah, we’re going to have to fix a quarter panel,” Byron said. “I kind of missed that one, but I was trying to get all I could. I knew I was a little bit weak under the brakes the first couple of runs in Q-trim today, so I tried to fix it and maybe fixed it a little bit too good. … I almost blew it in the last chicane, locking up the tires.

“But the guys did a great job with this car, and it really takes every corner around this race track to get a pole. I knew we could qualify top five, but I really wanted the pole and really kind of went out there and got it. So I’m really proud of this UniFirst team, it’s going to be great to start up front.”

Three of Byron’s poles this season have come at crown jewel races on the Cup circuit: the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 and Bojangles’ Southern 500.

Bowman acknowledged his teammate’s prowess in the No. 24 Chevrolet.

“That run wasn’t the best,” Bowman said of his own attempt in the final round. “I know it could have been better. William just did a great job there getting through the corners. It’s definitely a positive to be starting on the front row, and we just have to focus on getting stage points on Sunday.”

Joey Logano (103.037 mph) qualified third and will start next to fourth-place Jimmie Johnson, the third of three Hendrick drivers in the top four and the only driver in the top nine not currently in the playoffs. Clint Bowyer claimed the fifth spot on the grid, followed by Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick.

Kyle Larson was sixth in time trials, with Martin Truex Jr., the winner of the first two races in the opening round of the playoffs, grabbing the eighth position. Truex is the only Toyota driver to qualify in the top 14.

Ryan Blaney was ninth, followed by Paul Menard, playoff driver Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher, who’s 2020 move from JTG-Daugherty Racing to Roush Fenway Racing was announced this week.

Other playoff drivers qualified as follows: Erik Jones 15th, Kyle Busch 17th, Chase Elliott 19th after a spin in the first round of time trials, Kurt Busch 23rd, Ryan Newman 24th and Denny Hamlin 28th after wrecking in Turn 5 during practice and going to a backup car. Because of the car change, Hamlin will drop to the rear of the field for the start of the race.