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Kevin Lacroix Caps off Perfect Weekend with Fifth CTMP Win

BOWMANVILLE, Ont — Kevin Lacroix left Riverside International Speedway last week feeling like he had let one get away. After leading the most laps, including the white flag lap, Lacroix lost to Jason Hathaway in a thrilling overtime finish.

This week, Lacroix came into a track he knows well –  Canadian Tire Motorsports Park – looking to jumpstart his title hopes.  Lacroix put together a ‘perfect’ weekend, taking the pole award before winning the TOTAL Quartz 200 in heart pounding fashion.

“We were pretty much shaken after the race [Riverside] for points” Lacroix said.  And now we’re here [CTMP] and we had the chance to make a perfect weekend, that was the plan, thats what happened so we’re really happy.”

Lacroix’s led the first 20 laps in his No.74 Bumper to Bumper Dodge before calamity struck. Lacroix made an unscheduled pit stop, pushing him down the order and over 10 seconds back from the leaders.

The Saint-Eustache, Quebec driver took advantage of restarts to fight his way up to front. A late race accident set a up a NASCAR Overtime finish, which Lacroix took perfect advantage of. Lacroix’s win, coupled with trouble for points leader Andrew Ranger has the pair tied atop the standings with three races to go.

“Andrew Ranger had some bad luck and it ties us heading into the next three races. That’s going to be an exciting end of the season” Lacroix added “We’re really looking forward to the last few races, I’m really confident but I know Andrew is going be good there too so we have to keep up.”

Alex Tagliani had dominated the middle portion of the event leading 24 laps. In NASCAR overtime it was a two-man fight. Like countless Trucks and Pinty’s races past, Lacroix made his move in the infamous turn 10. Diving to the inside, Lacroix muscled his way by the Rona/EpiPen Chevrolet to claim his fifth CTMP victory, sweeping both events for the second time in his career.

In a post-race act of displeasure, Tagliani hit the door of the No.74 forcing him into the grass. No further altercations occurred post race.

In the ensuing dust cloud, Marc-Antoine Camirand was able to sneak through and claim his first podium of 2019. Camirand’s No. 22 GM Paille Chevrolet equals his best CTMP finish that he scored last May.

“I’m just happy to be back on the podium,” Camirand said. “It was a crazy race, we battled for the lead all race long and on the last restart when Kevin was in third place, I knew he was going to push hard to pass Alex and I let them go.”

For his second road course race in a row, JF Dumoulin found himself on the podium. Leading a lap and running clean all race long, Dumoulin snuck by Tagliani in the final corner to claim his fourth career podium.

Despite having the lead taken away in the final curve, Tagliani was able to hold on for a fourth-place finish. CBRT’s Anthony Simone would score his best finish of the season in fifth.

Jason Hathaway and D.J Kennington were sixth and seventh, respectively.

Simon Dion-Viens rebounded after a mid-race spin to finish eighth. Points leader Andrew Ranger blew a right rear tire after contact with the No.20 of Raymond Guay, Ranger would come home ninth. Julia Landauer was involved in a crash with Chandler Smith, suffering heavy rear-end damage Landauer would complete the top ten on the lead lap.

Fans can catch the race on TSN, Sunday, September. 1 at 1:30 p.m. and on RDS2 – Friday, September. 20 at 10 p.m. The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will be back in action Saturday September 7 for the Lucas Oil 250, the final NASCAR race at Autodrome Saint-Eustache.

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Spencer Davis Earns First Win In Over Three Years With Late Gateway Restart

MADISON, Ill. — For the first time in 1,181 days, Spencer Davis can call himself a winner in the K&N Pro Series again.

One week removed from leading a career-high 137 laps at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Dawsonville, Georgia native took the lead from Sam Mayer on the final green/white/checkered restart into Turn 1 and never looked back in the Monaco Cocktails 125, claiming his first victory since May 30, 2016 at Dominion Raceway.

The ultimate winning move was set up by a caution for Josh Fanopoulos blowing an engine off Turn 4. When Davis realized he’d get another shot at the win, he thanked his lucky stars.

“I saw that car blowing up and I’m like ‘someone’s shining down on us trying to get us that win.’,” Davis said following his Worldwide Technology Raceway win. “And when we lined up, I just zoned out, didn’t listen to the spotter or nothing. Like I said in Victory Lane, tried to channel my inner Dale (Earnhardt).”

And that’s exactly what he did.

“Tried to intimidate (Mayer) a little bit coming to the line,” he said. “The only way you can beat him–the only way I think you can beat this car this year is to make the kid make a mistake. Being a veteran of this series, I feel like I’m exceptional at restarts […] you couldn’t have asked for a better performance right there.”

“I hit my gears better than him and got into (Turn) 1 better,” Davis said. “I know he didn’t give it to me, but it felt like it because I drove that thing in there until I saw Jesus, man. It stuck, and I came out the other end leading.”

Derek Kraus earned his second consecutive runner-up finish, with David Gilliland, Mayer and Parker Retzlaff, making his second career series start, rounding out the top five.

Ruben Garcia Jr., Jagger Jones, Colin Garrett, Hailie Deegan and Todd Souza completed the top 10.

Deegan ran inside the top five for most of the night before spinning after contact with Kraus, which subsequently cut her tire and forced her to spin out.

After leading the first 60+ lap from the pole, Chase Cabre was relegated to a 13th-place finish, seven laps down, after he encountered electrical issues during the halfway break.

On Lap 1, Max McLaughlin, Garcia Jr. and Tanner Gray were involved in an accident in Turn 3. The crash ended McLaughlin’s day and gave the other two drivers damage. Gray wound up slamming the wall with a flat tire and finished the race 52 laps down.

Trevor Huddleston and Brittney Zamora both lost engines during the first half of the race and finished 18th and 19th, respectively.

With his fourth-place result and Cabre’s misfortune, Mayer extends his K&N East championship lead over the Rev Racing driver to 30 points with two races remaining.

With his second-place result, Kraus extends his K&N West championship lead over his teammate, Deegan, to 29 points with four races remaining.

K&N East Standings | K&N West Standings

The Monaco Cocktails 125 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Thursday, August 29 at 6 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series East event will take place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 21. The next K&N Pro Series West event will take place at Meridian Speedway on Saturday, September 28.

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Christopher Bell delivers for first road course win at Road America

ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. – In a two-lap shootout in Saturday afternoon’s CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America, Christopher Bell checked out from the competition to claim his sixth NASCAR Xfinity Series win of the season.

Bell found himself battling the best of the best when it comes to road course racing in NASCAR inside the final laps of the race between AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric, but when Gray Gaulding went into the gravel in Turn 1, the full-course caution waved setting up an eight-mile dash to the finish.

“Man, I’m honestly in shock,” Bell said. “I really butchered qualifying and tore the crap out of the left-front. I felt like once we got in the race there, we’d be able to drive by those guys. Instead, they dropped the green flag and they were driving by me. That wasn’t much fun.

“Then I told Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) I was really, really tight. We got those tires off and he said the left-front was hurt pretty bad. We got pretty good there when we put our new set of tires on.

“That strategy worked out well for us coming in there (with 14 to go) and then the yellow coming out. This car was really, really fast today. We’ve had a great road course season.”

On the final restart, Bell cleared second-place Allmendinger, but it was Cindric who pitted during the last caution that was putting on a show trying to charge from his 20th place restarting position.

By the white flag, Cindric had passed 15 cars and found himself in the clutches of second-place Matt DiBenedetto but when DiBenedetto spun his No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra in Turn 14, Cindric crossed the start-finish line second, 1.891 seconds behind Bell.

“We talked about a five-to-go plan, that was like a green-white-checkered,” offered Cindric who came up one position short of claiming three straight road course wins during the month of August. “I wasn’t 100 percent confident, but at the same time, we were battling a lot of wheel hop after four or five laps on tires and we had a lot more than on tires.

“In this kind of racing, you pretty much know that you’re going to get used up if you’re slower, so we wanted to go on offense and that was our strategy all day and we probably just needed one or two laps to get our Menards – Richmond Ford Mustang in Victory Lane. All in all, a good day, good points, p-2, is alright.”

Cindric described his 19-car charge through the field in two laps in one fitting word.

“Chaos,” Cindric added with a smile. “I passed a lot of cars that just ended up overdriving corners and missing corners. It was chaos, it was insane. I think it’s why all these people show up at Road America and enjoy this type of racing.

“You never know what you’re going to get, it always comes down to those last-lap dashes to the finish, I’m glad to be able to put on a show at a place like this.”

For Bell, it was his 14th career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory, but first on a road course. He attributed part of his success to luck, while also taking the time to reflect on the last-lap mishap for his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate DiBenedetto.

“I guess I just get lucky on these things, that’s for sure,” added Bell. “I’m really heartbroken for Matt DiBenedetto, too. He was obviously really, really fast. We knew in practice that both of our cars were really good, and we were going to be right there racing with each other.

“I don’t really know what happened, but I saw him go flying off (Turn) 14 so that sucks. He’s in a tough spot right now and he needed a good run there.”

Allmendinger admitted that he spun the tires during the last restart and later collided with Noah Gragson while battling in the top-five. He became involved in another off-course exchange on the same lap and limped to a 26th place finish after making a pit stop on the final lap.

Behind Bell and Cindric, points leader and Bristol winner Tyler Reddick finished third, Gragson fourth and Kaz Grala rounded out the top-five.

Justin Haley, Chase Briscoe, Jeremy Clements, Justin Allgaier and Cole Custer comprised the remainder of the top-10.

For Allgaier, the top-10 was a relief after nosediving into the gravel in Turn 1 after suffering a flat left-front tire on the last lap of Stage 1. Falling off the lead lap, getting the lap back, the JR Motorsports driver used the remainder of the race to earn his 15th top-10 of the year.

Playoff contender Custer also had an impressive rebound after falling down a lap after running off course during the first lap of Stage 2 and mowing down several track signs. Earning the free pass late in the race, Custer used aggressive driving in the final run to the finish to earn his 15th top-10 of the season.

With three races remaining in the regular NASCAR Xfinity Series season, next up is a throwback weekend at the “Lady in Black” at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway for the running of the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 on Sat., Aug. 31, 2019.

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NASCAR announces procedural updates to Xfinity Series and Gander Trucks for 2020

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR announced Wednesday some important new procedural changes for the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season, all designed to strengthen the quality of the race fields and add to the intensity of the racing on track.

The updates come at a time the sanctioning body – along with the series sponsors, teams and the broadcast partners – have seen a tangible increase in interest level and excitement for the two series.

There are strong fields filled with both established teams and newcomers ready and capable of making an impact. And NASCAR feels optimistic that these new updates will only be more beneficial.

“We’re really addressing three different updates here between the field size, the driver participation guidelines and looking at 2020 for Dash for Cash and Triple Truck Challenge,’’ said Meghan Miley, NASCAR’s senior director of Racing Operations. “The goal is always to make sure we are enhancing the competition. We are making sure we put our best foot forward for all of our stakeholders – the teams, the drivers, the tracks, the broadcasters, our OEMs, and NASCAR, of course.

“All these updates we make, we look at every year and say, ‘hey, what could we be doing better?’ This is the result of some of those things.’’

Among the key changes for the upcoming season – the race fields in the Xfinity Series will now feature a maximum of 36 cars. The first 31 positions will be based on qualifying times with four provisional positions allotted according to the rulebook and one past champion provisional.

Additionally, driver participation guidelines have been adjusted for both series. In both the Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series, drivers with more than three years of full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series experience will be allowed a maximum of five starts in each of the two series – Xfinity and Gander Trucks.

“With the driver participation guidelines, what a chance to highlight these young talents,’’ Miley said. “We’ve gotten feedback from all our stakeholders and from the fans, who say, ‘we want to see more of the regulars’ and then we talk to some of the drivers who say, ‘we want the opportunity to drive against these [Cup] guys because they’re the best and they make us better.’

“So it’s more about finding that middle ground, what works for everybody but is great for us to highlight those series regulars.’’

A caveat to the participation outline is that drivers who elect to earn Monster Energy Series championship points are not eligible to compete in either the Xfinity Series’ Dash 4 Cash or the Gander Trucks’ Triple Truck Challenge, the regular-season finale or the Playoffs.

Similarly, Xfinity Series regulars may not participate in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series’ annual Triple Truck Challenge or the championship race at ISM Raceway.

The 2020 Dash 4 Cash races will include stops at Texas Motor Speedway (March 28), Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (April 4), Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (April 25) and Dover (Del.) International Speedway (May 2). Homestead-Miami Speedway (March 21) will be the qualifier to set the Dash 4 Cash field for the opener at Texas.

The truck series’ Triple Truck Challenge will include races at Richmond (Va.) Raceway (April 18), Dover International Speedway (May 1) and Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 15). And, in an important caveat to the incentive program, the entry deadline requirement for the Triple Truck Challenge eligibility has been removed so the entire field will be vying for the bonus each week – a move NASCAR made to benefit both the teams and the fans.

That is the impetus for all the rule modifications. NASCAR is optimistic through this intrinsically collaborative approach that the competition will continue to reinvigorate naturally and the fan interest continues to rise and intensify.

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Michael Self Scores Fourth ARCA Menards Series Win of 2019 – and First Career Dirt Win – in Allen Crowe 100 at Springfield

Although he dominated the second half of the ARCA Menards Series Allen Crowe 100 presented by Lucas Oil, Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) held off his Venturini Motorsports teammate Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio/Illinois Truck & Equipment Toyota) on a two-lap dash to the checkered to earn his fourth series victory of the season.

Self, the current series championship leader, took the lead from another Venturini Motorsports teammate and General Tire Pole Award winner Logan Seavey (No. 20 Craftsman Toyota) shortly after halfway. From there, Self build a nearly four-second advantage over the field until an incident in turn four involving Ty Gibbs (No. 18 Monster Energy/ORCA Coolers/Terrible Herbst/Advance Auto Parts Toyota) and Joe Graf, Jr. (No. 77 EAT SLEEP RACE Ford) with less than ten laps to go. The race would get restarted at the scheduled conclusion, lap 100, for a green-white-checkered dash to the checkered.

Self got the break on the restart and battled side-by-side with upstart rookie Corey Heim (No. 22 Speedway Children’s Charities Ford), but the two made contact in turns three and four. Self dashed to the lead while Heim dropped through the field allowing Eckes to move into second.

“I did not want to see that last yellow,” Self said. “I was really nervous about it. I knew we had to get a great restart. It was pretty wild going off into turns one and two.”

For his part, Heim was disappointed but he knew what to expect going into the final couple of laps.

“We just got pushed up into the loose dirt in turns three and four,” Heim said. “If I was in that position that’s what I would have done too. It sucks we lost all those positions. We stayed patient all day and worked the bottom groove and did what we needed to do.”

Eckes was happy to come across the line in second knowing he could have given up a lot more ground to Self in the ARCA Menards Series championship battle.

“We’re happy with second but we needed more than that today,” Eckes said. “We were fourth before that last restart so it could have been worse than that. It’s just a shame we gave up everything we picked up at Pocono.”

Bret Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation Chevrolet) was third, Seavey fourth, and Will Kimmel (No. 69 Kimmel Racing Ford) was fifth.

Self continues to lead the ARCA Menards Series championship standings with an unofficial 105-point lead over Eckes headed into the Southern Illinois 100 at DuQuoin on August 31.

The race was slowed just four times by cautions. The first was for a crash involving Eric Caudell (No. 7 Honoring America’s Warriors Dodge) on the opening lap. The second yellow of the day was on lap 10 for rain, which forced a 12-minute delay while the track crew worked the dirt surface of the track. The third yellow of the afternoon waved on lap 27 for a spin involving Tim Richmond (No. 06 GreatRailing.com Dodge), and the final yellow for the spin involving Gibbs and Graf waved on lap 94.

Self’s winning average speed was 76.917 miles per hour. His margin of victory over Eckes was 0.363 seconds.

The next race for the ARCA Menards Series is the Southern Illinois 100 on Saturday night August 31. Practice starts at 2:30 pm CT, General Tire Pole Qualifying is set for 5:30 pm CT, and the race is set for 8 pm CT. The race will be televised live on MAVTV; ARCARacing.com will have live timing & scoring, live chat, and live track updates for registered users.

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Jason Hathaway Survives Chaotic Overtime Finish for Riverside Win

ANTIGONISH, N.S. — When Jason Hathaway returned to the NASCAR Pinty’s Series full-time, he had one goal in mind – win.

Hathaway accomplished his goal in dramatic fashion, winning the Bumper to Bumper 300 at Riverside International Speedway in a thrilling overtime finish.

For the third year in a row, Kevin Lacroix had the car to beat. He dominated the race, leading 195 laps and appearing all but untouchable. Despite the sizeable lead, Hathaway and D.J Kennington closed in lap after lap.

A pair of late race cautions set up a thrilling pair of restarts. Hathaway’s No.3 Kubota Canada/Choko Chevrolet was given the ‘chrome horn’ by Lacroix once the green flag dropped for the two-lap overtime shootout.

The Appin, Ontario driver repaid the favour in the exact same corner, this time on the white flag lap. The contact sent Lacroix up the track and into the side of Andrew Ranger.

Hathaway held on for his 10th career win and first since the 2016 season finale at Kawartha Speedway.

“That was really crazy. I wasn’t even sure we were going to get the lead, Kevin was really good,” said Hathaway. “It was a battle, Lacroix got into the back of me in turn three and four and I paid him back in one and two. I was expecting it and I’m sure he was expecting it too.”

“It’s a good way to get a win,” continued Hathaway. “Ed Hakonson’s 70th birthday; car owner and father-in-law, so I gotta keep him happy.”

D.J Kennington led 20 laps and managed to sneak through the last lap wreck for a runner-up finish. The two-time champion had two prior wins at Riverside and was in position for a third until losing the lead Hathaway on Lap 289.  The No.17 Castrol Edge team would celebrate their second podium in five races.

“The restarts were really crazy. One way to sum it up, it sucks if you were on the outside, you just couldn’t get a run,” said Kennington. “We’re looking better every week, we’re knocking on the door and we’ll get back to Victory Lane by the end of this season, I’m sure.”

The last lap fracas enabled Alex Tagliani to score a surprise podium finish, in third. The Rona/EpiPen team found themselves stuck in the pack during the final restart. The contact between Lacroix and Hathaway enabled Tagliani to sneak through and bring his relatively clean No.18 home for his third podium of the season.

LP Dumoulin’s race was eventful to say the least. After suffering a mechanical problem just before the halftime break, Dumoulin fought back for a fourth-place finish. Alex Labbe, who also suffered mechanical issues, rounded out the top five.

Championship contenders Lacroix and Ranger were sixth and seventh, respectively. Ranger’s points lead drops to 11 points heading into next week’s race.

Mark Dilley, pole sitter Donald Chisholm and Marc-Antoine Camirand rounded out the top ten.

The Bumper to Bumper 300 will air on TSN on Saturday, August 24 at 1:30 p.m. and RDS2 on Friday, September 13 at 10:30 p.m.

The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will be back Sunday, August 25 for the TOTAL Quartz 200 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

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Trevor Huddleston Dominates Evergreen For Second Career Victory

MONROE, Wash. — Nobody had anything for Trevor Huddleston.

The Agoura Hills, California native cruised to his second K&N Pro Series West win of this season and his career at Evergreen Speedway in the NAPA Auto Parts 150 on Saturday night, leading the most laps (85) en route to the victory.

“The car unloaded pretty quick, the guys at the shop were on top of it, and the guys at the track were on top of it even more because we just kept making the thing better and it showed out there,” Huddleston said.

The win is also Sunrise Ford’s second of the season. Thus far, only two events in the series (Sonoma, JPR and Iowa, GMS) have been won by teams other than Bill McAnally Racing (5) and Sunrise (2).

Derek Kraus led 20 laps, but struggled with a tight condition and wound up coming home second, his sixth top five and first runner-up finish this season. His BMR teammate and polesitter Brittney Zamora led 45 laps from the pole and wound up third, tying her career-best finish.

Monroe native, 2017 track and Washington state champion Trenton Moriarity, making his K&N Pro Series debut for newly formed JP Racing, finished fourth, with Jagger Jones rounding out the top five.

Todd Souza, Hailie Deegan, Devin Dodson, Jack Wood and Travis Milburn completed the top 10.

With his second-place effort, Kraus extends his championship points lead to 18 over Huddleston, who jumped Deegan and now sits second.

The NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by ENEOS is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Thursday, August 22 at 6 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series West event will take place next weekend at Worldwide Technology Raceway at Gateway, the second of two combination events with the K&N Pro Series East.

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Hamlin spoils DiBenedetto’s run with late pass to win Bristol Night Race

BRISTOL, Tenn. – The first thing Denny Hamlin did after winning Saturday’s Bristol Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway was apologize to the man he beat to the finish line in the 24th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season.

With 11 laps left in the grueling 500-lap event, Hamlin drove to the inside of Matt DiBenedetto and cleared him from the lead. Roughly three minutes later, Hamlin crossed the stripe .502 seconds ahead of the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Toyota and handed DiBendetto his second major heartache of a difficult week.

“I just want to say sorry to Matt DiBenedetto and (his crew chief) Mike Wheeler,” said Hamlin, who won for the fourth time this season, the second time at Bristol and the 35th time in his career. “I hate it. I know a win would mean a lot to that team, but I’ve got to give 110% to my whole team. Just, sorry.”

The regret was heartfelt. On Tuesday, DiBenedetto learned he would not be returning to the LFR Camry next year, possibly to make room for the unquestioned talent of Christopher Bell. But on Saturday night, he put the distraction behind him and drove with the purpose and tenacity of a driver with something to prove.

Eight laps after a restart on Lap 388, DiBenedetto passed Erik Jones for the lead and held it for 93 laps. But with 28 laps left, after Hamlin passed Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott to move into second place, DiBenedetto lost half his lead battling to put Ryan Newman a lap down. Contact between their cars tightened the handling of DiBenedetto’s Toyota.

“I wanted to win so bad for these guys, for this team, for them giving me this opportunity,” DiBenedetto said on pit road, his voice choking with emotion. “I’m just thankful that they gave me this opportunity. But, man, I’m sad. We got tight after the deal with Newman, when he came up into us. All of a sudden it got really tight after that.

“Congrats to Denny. He raced hard. I’ve been a fan of his since I was a kid. To be racing door to door with him at Bristol, in front of a great group of fans. … I’ll try not to get emotional, but it’s been a tough week. I just want to stick around and keep doing this for a long time to come. I love it. I love the opportunity. I’m not done yet.

“Something will come open. It’s going to happen. I’m here to win. Something’s going to come open. I’m proud of these guys. Thankful for my wife and fans for sticking with me. It’s been a tough journey, a hard week. Cool for this team.”

DiBenedetto ran consistently in the top 10 and his 93 laps led were a race high. Hamlin, on the other hand, had a roller-coaster race in which he started from the pole, damaged his No. 11 Toyota after contact with Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet, lost a lap for an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 189 for a loose wheel, regained the lead lap as the beneficiary under caution on Lap 248 and charged forward from 13th place after a Lap 260 restart to win the race.

After DiBenedetto’s difficulty in passing Newman, Hamlin tracked him down relentlessly, running the top of the track before moving the bottom to make the winning pass.

“Between my spotter (Chris Lambert) and crew chief (Chris Gabehart), they just stayed on me to not get anxious, just kind of take my time,” Hamlin said. “I had plenty of time. I just worked him over, worked him over. I knew I didn’t want to show him the bottom until I knew I could make the pass. I ran the top, ran the top, ran the top, got the position on the bottom and finished it.

“We had a great car that could move around. Came back from a couple laps down, and here we are.”

Brad Keselowski ran third, followed by Kyle Busch, who started 31st and benefited from an opportune caution, shortly before he would have had to make a green-flag pit stop. Chase Elliott came home fifth, with Kyle Larson sixth.

In the battle for the final playoff spots, Daniel Suarez scored nine points in the first stage and moved past Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer for the final playoff-eligible position. Suarez leads Bowyer by two points with two races left.

Bowyer and Suarez finished seventh and eighth, respectively, but the stage points made the difference.

Johnson’s troubles continued on Saturday night. The seven-time champion started 30th and fell two laps down after contact with Austin Dillon and Hamlin. Johnson fought hard to finish 19th, four laps down, but he fell 26 points behind Suarez for the last playoff spot.

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Reddick rebounds from penalty to win for first time at Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Tyler Reddick’s No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet had the word “BEAST” in big block letters on its hood Friday night.

The car was aptly named.

Even though Reddick had to come from the rear of the field twice in his Tame the Beast Camaro — once the result of a stiff penalty and once after a spin — he still needed a bit of luck to win the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

A bit of luck — and large measure of heartache for Justin Allgaier.

On older tires than Reddick had, Allgaier shot forward after a restart on Lap 287 of 300 and had a comfortable advantage until a flat tire sent him into the outside wall on Lap 289 and handed the top spot to Reddick, who had battled Brandon Jones and eventual runner-up Chase Briscoe for the second position behind Allgaier.

“I don’t know (how we did this),” said the reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, who picked up his fourth victory of the season, his first at Bristol and the seventh of his career. “I thought we made the wrong adjustment on the last (pit) stop, but we had a really fast Chevrolet. We had fresher tires than Justin Allgaier there. We came down pit road and we were just too tight and I thought we were done for.

“I don’t know what happened. Everything just happened at the right spot. I fell back to fourth, and Jones hit the fence and then (Allgaier) had some sort of issue. As you can see, I’m speechless. I couldn’t believe what was happening.”

Minutes after limping home in eighth place, two laps down, a crestfallen Allgaier was still struggling to process what had just happened.

“I’ll be honest with you, this is the story of the year,” said Allgaeir, who led 131 laps, second only to the 137 of Kyle Busch, who fell out because of engine failure after winning the second stage. “We had a great car tonight. I don’t know if we could have beaten the 18 (Busch) apples to apples, but when he fell out, I thought — especially at the end — we had the best car.

“I don’t know what else to do, man. It’s just so frustrating. These guys deserve a win. It’s just a tire went down, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

John Hunter Nemechek ran third, followed by Jeremy Clements, pole-winner Austin Cindric and Gray Gaulding, the last driver on the lead lap.

Reddick’s adventurous evening started with the first 85-lap stage. After his No. 2 Chevrolet failed pre-qualifying inspection four times, Reddick was not allowed to post a lap in time trials, started from the rear of the field and immediately served a pass-through penalty that put him a lap down.

But Reddick earned a free pass as the highest-scored lapped car when NASCAR called the first caution on Lap 7 for Mason Diaz’s crash on the backstretch. Back on the lead lap, Reddick hustled his car through the field, and on Lap 81 he was fighting Allgaier for the lead.

But Reddick spun in Turn 4 underneath Allgaier’s Chevrolet, knocking the right rear of Allgaier’s car into the outside wall. Brandon Jones sped past and scored the stage victory under caution.

Stage 2 was even more bizarre. Reddick worked his way back to second, passing Allgaier for the position with eight laps left in the stage. Kyle Busch was first to the green-checkered flag on Lap 170, but his engine had begun to fail with five laps left and gave up the ghost as he crossed the start-finish line.

That came long after championship contenders Christopher Bell and Cole Custer and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars Erik Jones and Joey Logano all sustained serious damage to their cars in a multi-car pileup on Lap 37.

Custer went three-wide on the top to pass the lapped car of Matt Mills, who moved up the track, pinching Custer’s No. 00 Ford into the outside wall. Custer’s car bounced off the wall and slammed into Bell’s Toyota, sending both cars sliding sideways. With no clear lane, Jones plowed into Custer’s car, and Logano’s Ford slid into Jones’ Toyota.

Both Logano and Jones retired from the race. Bell and Custer lost three laps and four laps, respectively, while their teams hustled to repair their cars.

“Typical Bristol crash,” Logano said. “You see them wrecking in front of you, and you’re on the brakes as hard as you can, and they just keep piling in, and you can’t stop quick enough. Some of that comes from a poor qualifying effort and from that you get caught up in things.

“I thought we were OK. Even saying that, we were still up to seventh or eighth. We weren’t that far back from starting 19th. We were picking our way through there, but it just happens.”

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Denny Hamlin knocks Kyle Larson off pole for Bristol Night Race

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson played a late game of King of the Mountain in Friday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series time trials at Bristol Motor Speedway.

After 38 drivers made qualifying runs, it was Hamlin who was left at the top of the peak.

Larson was the 34th driver to take to the track, and his impressive lap at 129.004 mph (14.874 seconds) put him on the provisional pole for Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Larson’s stay on the pinnacle, however, lasted less than a minute, as Hamlin followed with a lap at 129.330 mph (14.848 seconds) to secure his first Busch Pole Award of the season, his fourth at the .533-mile high-banked concrete short track and the 31st of his career.

Strapped in his car as he readied for his run, Hamlin was unaware that Larson had jumped to the top of the speed chart. Even when he came to the media center for his post-qualifying interview, Hamlin thought he had beaten Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. to earn the first pole position of the season for Toyota.

“It was Larson?” Hamlin asked. “I was wondering why he was giving me the finger when he went by. I thought it was Martin—even better.”

Based on practice, though, Hamlin was confident he could make a run at the top starting position.

“I was confident, as long as the crew chief (Chris Gabehart) did his job, and I did my job, we definitely had a chance,” Hamlin said. “I’m proud of this whole team for giving me such a great car. The guys are on it right now—it’s just unbelievable with what they’re doing with these race cars.

“I’m just trying to learn every week, doing everything I can to get better, and the results are showing it.”

Hamlin has three victories this season, his most since an equal number in 2016, and he comes to Bristol riding a wave of five straight top fives and four straight top-three finishes, including a win at Pocono.

Larson, on the other hand, hopes to break a winless streak of 69 races, dating to Sept. 9, 2017 at Richmond.

“I was just a little bit too tight to kind of roll through the center like I needed to and get to the gas just a little bit sooner,” Larson said of his qualifying run. “But, overall, I’m happy with how we qualified and the grip I had in my car. In practice, I was really loose. So hopefully we’ll have a good race tomorrow and try and get my first Bristol Cup win.”

Bristol is one of Larson’s favorite tracks, and he believes that the top groove will open up during the course of Saturday’s race, whereas the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks on Thursday night seemed dedicated to the lower lanes.

“We got up there enough in practice, and honestly, it felt so far the same (as in previous races),” Larson said. “But you never know how it’s going to lay rubber down up there and things like that.”

Truex (128.995 mph) will start third, followed by Kurt Busch (128.813 mph). Aric Almirola claimed the fifth spot on the grid in the fastest Ford at 128.770 mph.

Among the four drivers fighting most closely for the final two spots in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, Ryan Newman will start 14th, Daniel Suarez 18th, Clint Bowyer 20th and Jimmie Johnson 30th. Newman and Bowyer currently occupy the last two provisional Playoff berths, with Suarez six points behind Bowyer in 16th and Johnson 12 points in arrears.