Categories
XFINITY

New Hampshire Brings New Opportunity for Newberry

By Stephanie Adair – NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver @brennannewberry will be making his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut this weekend competing in Saturday’s STA-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This will also be the driver’s first visit to the 1-mile track. Newberry will be driving the No. 55 Qore-24 Antimicrobial Hand Purifier Chevrolet Camaro for Viva Motorsports.

It is every race car drivers dream to keep moving up the NASCAR ladder as professionals,” Newberry said. “I’m definitely one of those drivers who gets to conquer another goal and dream. I am at a loss for words as to how excited I am about making my first Nationwide start this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It was a big last minute offer but an offer that I am pleased to take. I must thank (team owner) Jamie Dick and his entire team for giving me this chance. It is one that I will forever be grateful for.”

The 24-year-old driver will also be racing in the K&N Pro Series East Granite State 100 held at the venue on Friday. Newberry is currently competing in his first full-time season in the series and sits 12th in the point standings after nine events.

The Bakersfield, CA native also has a part-time schedule in the Camping World Truck Series this year driving for NTS Motorsports. After participating in four races, he captured his season-best finish of 16th a month ago at Texas Motor Speedway.

Newberry is pleased with the opportunity to drive in the Nationwide Series and feels that it brings him a little closer to his goal of one day racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is where I wanna be” said Newberry “but I don’t feel the need to rush into anything, everything happens for a reason and when the timing is right I will be there. I am just looking forward to this weekend running in both the K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Nationwide Insurance series with Qore-24 and Chevrolet.”

EMAIL STEPHANIE AT stephanie.adair@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @S_Adair98

Categories
XFINITY

Daytona Right on Time for Ryan Reed

By Stephanie Adair – NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year candidate @driverRyanReed earned his career best finish placing fourth in Friday’s Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway. He also broke into the top-10 in the point standings for the third time this year.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver has struggled to find consistency this season, posting six finishes in the top-15 in the first 16 races of the season. Finishing in the top-five this weekend was a shot in the arm for the No. 16 Lilly Diabetes / ADA Drive to Stop Diabetes team.

“That was what we needed right there,” said Reed after the race. “Man it felt good to get our first top-five. The guys told me that Ricky (@StenhouseJr.) really turned his rookie season around a couple years ago at Daytona, by coming away with a top-five. I am hoping to do the same thing. I am really proud of everyone, and I want to thank Lilly Diabetes, Ford and the American Diabetes Association.”

Starting fourth at the beginning of the race, Reed fell outside of the top-10 in the first 40 laps. He then started to rebound and make his way to seventh by the halfway mark. From there, Reed avoided two incidents on track and piloted his No. 16 Ford Fusion to the impressive finish.

“That was some fun racing,” said Reed. “I had a great time.  Everyone just raced so hard. I am so proud of the team for putting ourselves in a good position to capitalize. That is what we have needed to do all season long and to finally do it, I am just so proud.”

The finish also qualified Reed for next week’s first “Dash 4 Cash” event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He, along with fellow Nationwide Series regulars @JClements51, @RyanSiegRacing, and @ReganSmith will be competing against each other for a chance to earn $100,000.

The Nationwide Series STA-Green 200 at New Hampshire will take place Saturday, July 12 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

EMAIL STEPHANIE AT stephanie.adair@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @S_Adair98

Categories
XFINITY

Ryan Sieg Pushes Himself to Stardom at Daytona

By Kelly Crandall (DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) – As @RyanSiegRacing approached the finish line Friday night at the Daytona International Speedway the No. 39 RSS Racing team began to let loose on the radio.

“It was a win for us, for our team especially finishing third,” Sieg said afterwards. “It was a really big deal and it’s awesome to come back to Daytona and get my career best finish.”

The third place run then sweetened as Sieg and company realized they had qualified for the Nationwide Series “Dash 4 Cash” program that will begin next weekend in New Hampshire. Sieg and three others (@ReganSmith, @driverRyanReed and @JClements51) will run for the $100,000 bonus with the prize going to the highest finisher of the four.

“They were excited, extremely excited,” said Sieg of the team reaction as he finished and came back to pit road. He too, tried to find the words to describe the feeling. “They were all yelling on the radio, it was awesome for all of our guys. It was great. They were just as excited as I was. It was awesome.”

The finish was the second top-10 of the year for Sieg, his previous coming at the speedway back in February when he was ninth. Friday night, as he has done all year, the 27-year-old Georgia native turned some heads. Running for his family owned team, Sieg currently sits 18th in points and has been running the equivalent. He has nine top-20 finishes in 16 races.

Nationwide Series team owner and Sprint Cup driver @DaleJr has been one many taking notice of what the young driver has accomplished. Earnhardt Jr. revealing after the Subway Firecracker 250 that Sieg had “impressed the hell out of me” weeks ago in Dover. That was a race he finished 13th.

Friday night Sieg hooked to the back bumper of JR Motorsports driver @KaseyKahne and followed him through the pack during two late restarts. It was Sieg who pushed him to the line for the win.

“It was crazy,” he said. “Kasey talked to his spotter and told me to push hard and that’s all I did the whole time because I was right behind him and I never got off his rear bumper and just stayed right tucked up behind him. I knew we were in line to get probably a top-five, top-15 and just worked out. Got in the right line and everybody kind of got shuffled around and I just kept pushing the 5 and he got clear and I pushed him a little harder right there at the end.

“Then someone gave me a push and I pushed him extremely hard right before the line.”

Restrictor plate racing and success won’t carry over to much, Sieg admits. But a run like Friday is great for the small team and good for moral. They are still searching for sponsors, preferably a full-time one. SmartCell Fundraising / Pull-A-Part graced the car on Friday.

“Hopefully it will bring some more sponsors. We have sponsors come on here and there and it would be nice to have a full-time sponsor because we’re running full-time in Nationwide,” Sieg said. “Hopefully we turned some eyes.”

Sieg, a Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year candidate and highest finishing rookie on Friday, has limited New Hampshire Motor Speedway experience, site of the series’ 17th race. With only 20 career Nationwide starts under his belt, he and crew chief Kevin Starland will continue to keep expectations realistic.

“It’s definitely going to be a tough one for us. I haven’t run Nationwide at New Hampshire, I ran a Truck and we’ve run ok, but it’s going to be tough,” Sieg said. “We’re getting better and better each week. Cowboy’s (Starland) learning about the cars every week, I’m learning and getting better. It should be pretty good.”

EMAIL KELLY AT kelly.crandall@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @KellyCrandall

Categories
XFINITY

Pemberton: NASCAR Open to Tweaking Drafting Rules

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona on Friday night marked the final time that the NASCAR Nationwide Series will compete on a restrictor plate track this season, providing the league time to reassess the new rule that prohibits drivers from pushing or forming tandems.

The new policy generated controversy right from the start of the season when NASCAR penalized a race-contending James Buescher at Daytona in February for what appeared to be a judgment call at best.

It seems like the Sanctioning Body has created a rule that is near impossible to officiate with consistency, a fact that was made totally clear on Friday night.

Josh Wise and Landon Cassill were issued pass-through penalties early in the race while other pairings including Kyle Busch/Elliott Sadler and Trevor Bayne/Kyle Busch were left untouched despite similar actions.

Even the finish of Friday’s race came down to a push with Ryan Sieg shoving Kasey Kahne all the way down Turn 4, across the frontstretch and past Regan Smith for the win.

NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton met with the media on Friday night, explaining that cars moving side-to-side while bump drafting indicated no linkage, which explained the decision not to penalize either Kahne or Sieg.

“When you look at any of these situations when (drivers) make contact and bump on that last lap — a car will close in on another car and the accordion will close up, making tight quarters all the way through the rows,” Pemberton said. “The cars are moving side-to-side which tells you that they are not directly connected.”

But Pemberton is aware of the derision that some of the calls and no calls from race control has generated this season and assured everyone that NASCAR will continue to address and analyze its rules package for everyone involved.

“We’ll look at this situation,” Pemberton said. “It’s the last plate race for the Nationwide Series this season and these are the rules we put in place at the beginning of the year. We’ve worked with the teams under their suggestions and said that we would look at it by the end of the year and see what adjustments we need to make.”

All three Nationwide plate races have come down to pushing on the final lap leaving some to believe that NASCAR is hesitant to issue a penalty when a victory is on the line, especially given the judgement call nature of the infraction. Pemberton responded by saying that decisions on the last lap are no different than any other part of the race.

“Well it’s not exactly just the final lap,” Pemberton said. “The perspective you get from a 2.5-mile race track — you rely heavily on cameras but they don’t have the same angle all the time. You think you see something that isn’t there and you have to search hard to find it.So of someone has to look that hard for it, then maybe it isn’t that worthy of a call. But it’s not just the last lap.”

Categories
XFINITY

Four for Fireworks in Daytona Nationwide Extravaganza

By Matt Weaver (DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) — Given all the storylines that have the potential to play out on Friday night, the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway needs little hype. The battle for the championship combined with the overall intensity of restrictor plate racing should produce fireworks — both literal and figurative.

Here are the four reasons to expect an Independence Day instant classic on Friday night.

The Championship Battle

Following an eventful race at Kentucky Speedway last Friday night, the championship battle constricted considerably with Elliott Sadler taking a four point advantage over Chase Elliott into the Subway Firecracker 250. Smith crashed out in the bluegrass state and fell to eight points behind Sadler.

But more importantly, it also allowed Ty Dillon (-29) and Brian Scott (-47) to stay within a single race of the top spot with half of the schedule still remaining.

And while Scott (-47) might be too far back to make a serious run at the championship, this is one event where he could potentially make a giant leap should he stay out of trouble while others succumb to the countless multicar accidents. Dillon may even leave with the championship lead under the perfect set of circumstances.

Standings:

Sadler Ldr.

Elliott -4

Smith -8

Dillon -29

Scott -47

Nationwide Regulars Take Plate Advantage into Daytona

Five Sprint Cup Series former winners or contenders have entered the Subway Firecracker 250 including Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and David Ragan. As a result, the chances are pretty good that Nationwide regular will win on Friday night, something that happened in the previous two Nationwide plate races as well with Smith and Sadler winning at Daytona and Talladega respectively.

While the debate over Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series drags on, the “us versus them” mentality is more fun to watch at Daytona and Talladega more than anywhere else on the schedule. The JR Motorsports duo of Elliott and Smith have showed the most muscle in their two previous plate starts but Cup driver Kasey Kahne will have access to the same resources on Friday night.

Kyle Busch and the No. 54 team have looked indestructible this season but plate racing has been the weakest link thus far (small sample size, yes) and let’s face it — that makes it worth the price of admission by itself.

Firecracker 250 Laden with Tradition

Once upon a time, the Coke Zero 400 was called the Firecracker 400 and it was run exclusively on July 4 regardless of what day of the week that date fell on. There’s something special about a race on Independence Day called the Firecracker, no matter what division it runs under.

There will be a massive fireworks show following the race but fireworks on the track will probably precede the display as well.

And in an era where NASCAR traditions are becoming further and few between, Friday night has already been earmarked as must see.

The Underdogs Can Play Too

David Ragan finished fourth in the Biagi DenBeste Racing Ford at Talladega highlighting an impressive run by the underdogs. Also contending for the win the last time Nationwide went restrictor plate racing was Joe Nemechek, J.J. Yeley, Landon Cassill and David Starr who all posted top-10s in north Alabama.

There’s no other way to dissect this result other than to say, that’s pretty damn cool.

The Nationwide Series has always been guilty of producing generic, expected and uninspiring results, making the potential for mass parity at Daytona all the more fascinating. Everyone loves a good underdog story and the entry list for the Firecracker 250 is chock full of Cinderella Stories waiting to happen.

Matt Kenseth is the defending winner of the Firecracker 250. He is not entered in the race. Green flag is set to drop shortly after 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN.

Categories
XFINITY

Started From the Bottom and Now JR Motorsports is Here

By Kelly Crandall – For the first time this year a driver not from JR Motorsports is leading the Nationwide Series points. And yet team owner @DaleJr. seemed relatively unfazed and unconcerned on Friday night.

“I feel real good, actually. I think between the 7 (@ReganSmith) and the 9 (@ChaseElliott) we’ve got two real good opportunities to win the drivers championship,” he said. “You try not to have nights like tonight, especially for Regan. To take that kind of hit is very disappointing, he’ll beat himself up over that. You know those other guys are going to make mistakes too, you just can’t let them get far enough ahead of you to where you can’t keep the pressure on them.”

While @KevinHarvick took the part-time third car to Victory Lane in Kentucky, the only one of the three to wind up with a top-10 finish, Smith and Elliott were left trying to collect their breaths. Smith after an accident with 30 laps to go, in which Earnhardt Jr. said it seemed he just cleared himself into another car, and Elliott after getting into @TBayne21 with eight laps left. Ironically the caution and subsequent restart that Harvick used to take the lead and the win.

Smith was the point leader coming into the night but has now fallen to third. Elliott sits second to @Elliott_Sadler by four points heading into Daytona International Speedway this Friday night. In February at Daytona Smith won to start the year with the point lead he has since traded back-and-forth with his rookie counterpart. The company now has five wins on the season, a career best.

Harvick was signed in the offseason after his move from Richard Childress to Stewart-Haas in the Sprint Cup Series. He’s been paired with a familiar voice in Ernie Cope, now the crew chief for the No. 5 machine. Elliott was already a Hendrick Motorsports development driver and signed to a full-year deal when an agreement with NAPA came together late in 2013.

“I’m thrilled with how things have gone this year and the changes we’ve made and the people we’ve been able to connect with. Kevin and Chase and everybody – we’ve worked so long trying to improve and then all of it came in just a flood,” Earnhardt Jr. said about the 2014 season to date. “We’ve been able to team up with these individuals that are really making a big difference in how we get our cars better and how we’re setting our cars up. The speed our program has, the performance we have, pit crews are better.”

The credit will go to many but the huge building blocks and tools as Earnhardt Jr. called them, have been the addition of the aforementioned three individuals. Harvick came in and immediately let it be known that JR Motorsports didn’t have bad cars, there was a great foundation and little things that could be tweaked on. Through his driving experience and past ownership years, the two-time Nationwide Series champion quickly put his finger on what the strengths and weaknesses of the organization are.

“We’ve still got room to improve. The cars can be even faster and show even more speed. Kevin and those guys worked their guys out (Friday) to get where they were at the end of the race,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “There’s still a lot of room for improvement. Just from a fabrication standpoint and getting the down force and proving the bodies and learning what we can.”

While the evolution is still ongoing, it’s one that began to emerge last year with the hiring of Greg Ives from Hendrick Motorsports to be the crew chief for Smith – he now works with Elliott. His knowledge and ability to rebuild and strengthen the communication with Hendrick, led the team to two wins and third place in the championship standings.

It was also the beginning for what has been built upon this season.

“It’s a long process. You need a whole year to really see that stuff through,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “It doesn’t happen over night but we’re taking some good steps toward getting better and better and we’ve seen that through the wins and the performances all the cars had.”

EMAIL KELLY AT kelly.crandall@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @KellyCrandall

Categories
XFINITY

Bayne Looking For a Little R-E-S-P-E-C-T in Nationwide Series

By Kelly Crandall – There were two versions of one story after Friday night’s John R. Elliott Hero Campaign 300 at Kentucky Speedway.

To start, @TBayne21 felt he was, again, wronged by his competition. The Roush Fenway driver having to settle for a 15th place finish in his No. 6 AdvoCare after what he was sure was going to be a top-10 run. That’s where JR Motorsports rookie @ChaseElliott comes in.

It was Lap 193 of 200 when the two engaged in a frantic battle for a top-10 spot. Elliott got loose however, coming off Turn 4 and slid up into the 6. While Elliott saved his sideways No. 9 Chevrolet, Bayne bounced off the wall.

Under caution, after asking what Elliott was thinking, he sent a love tap Elliott’s way. He went onto to finish 12th.

“Week after week I’m getting used up by people. It’s frustrating as can be,” Bayne said afterwards, who was also involved in the same type of accident two weeks ago in Michigan. “Chase is a great kid and a great driver, but it’s the same old story. They get to my inside and just run me up the racetrack, packing air on their doors and wreck us. We’ve got the bad end of the deal three weeks in a row and I don’t know what it takes to get respect around here.”

Bayne’s opinion wasn’t shared by the competition. Tweeting during the race, Parker Kligerman said the incident was not the fault of Elliott. A point later shared by Elliott’s team owner, @DaleJr.

“The stuff with Chase, he’s just racing hard. I thought the 6 car – every time you get underneath that guy (Bayne) he crowds the hell out of you. He crowded (Elliot) through (turns) 3 and 4 and 1 and 2 for a whole lap and you’re asking for trouble when you do that,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “When they went down into 3 Chase got loose and didn’t make the corner. That was totally Chase’s fault and the 6 got the wrong end of the deal but I’ve seen him put himself in that situation time and time again.”

After the race Elliott approached Bayne to discuss the incident. For Earnhardt, it was one that could have been avoided had Bayne not run Elliott to the bottom the lap before, which would have let the 9 clear him. Instead, Elliot wrecked on the inside and took them both out of the equation.

“That’s just something that Chase will have to learn, how to race certain people. Trevor’s got some things to learn as well, when to pick his battles and understand how he needs to make certain decisions to where he’s not at the end of the race without the side knocked off of the car,” he said. “You just have to know how to race. That wasn’t Trevor’s fault getting wrecked over there but he sort of put himself in that position for a whole lap running Chase real tight on the door and running him shallow into the corner. So that was disappointing.”

Bayne remains winless on the season and sixth in points. Friday was his third straight finish outside the top 10 after going six consecutive races with top 11 performances.

“I feel like I’ve always raced pretty hard, but clean when I needed to, and I give respect to the people that give it to me. If Brad (@Keselowski) gets to me or @KyleBusch, you let them go because they would do the same for you,” Bayne said. “But you race the 3 (@TyDillon) or the 31 (Dylan Kwasniewski) – I haven’t had an issue with the 9 before – but today you get to them and they race you semi-crazy and it goes both ways.

“Hopefully it stops soon and we can race, and we can get our cars a little better so we don’t have to worry about those guys. We should be in front of them anyways, but it was a frustrating night for us. We had a top-10 run going there and ended with a 15th place finish. That’s not what we were looking for, but we’ll keep digging in and get these things faster.”

EMAIL KELLY AT kelly.crandall@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @KellyCrandall

Categories
XFINITY

Kentucky Speedway Fails to Produce First-Time Winner

By Kayla Darrow – At a track famous for seeing drivers earn their first career win, many looked to Kentucky Speedway as a place for the NASCAR Nationwide Series regulars to steal a win from the always dominating Sprint Cup stars.

While the Nationwide drivers put up a tough fight, none of them were able to bring home the victory that ultimately went to @KevinHarvick. @TyDillon, @BScottRacing and @Chris_Buescher all were thought to be serious contenders to score their first Nationwide career win but all three came up short when it mattered most.

Last year’s Truck Series winner at Kentucky, Dillon, started off Friday night in the eighth position and quickly moved up into the top-five. However, while pitting under an early caution for debris, Dillon’s pit crew struggled with a loose tire wandering away from their stall. Dillon then restarted 13th and eventually made his way back into the top-10.

He spent the rest of the night moving around the top-15 before finally finishing in seventh place. Dillon sits fourth in points heading into Daytona International Speedway next weekend.

“We had one of the best race cars tonight we’ve had all season. I told Danny (Stockman, crew chief) at the end of the race, if he keeps giving me cars like that, we’re going to win some races pretty soon. I was happy with his decision to make a pit stop there at the end. It gave me the right car to finish the way we did.”

Dillon wasn’t the only Richard Childress Racing driver to have a good night. Teammate Brian Scott also began his night up front in the fifth position but soon fell back to the 10th while fighting a tight racecar. Scott reported his car as being hard to turn when he was on the throttle.

Around Lap 155 the pendulum swung in the other direction, as the No. 2 Shore Lodge Chevrolet pitted under caution for adjustments. He spent the rest of the night mostly within the sixth to 12th place window, not able to move up to the front but not falling back either. Scott finished the night in eighth place and remains fifth in points.

“I would’ve never thought we would finish where we did today. We had such a good Shore Lodge Chevrolet Camaro all weekend. As soon as the race started, we were all over the place,” Scott said after recording his seventh top 10 finish. “We really struggled today and my team did a great job with strategy to get us a top-10 finish.” 

Roush Fenway Racing rookie Chris Buescher started his race farther back in the field in 18th place and spent the race battling an extremely loose car. He tried to gain some positions by playing some pit strategy after @MattKenseth’s spin at Lap 102. Buescher stayed out while some of the leaders pitted, allowing him to jump up to ninth place. Unfortunately, this strategy did not pay off, as Buescher could not maintain the position and finished back in his starting spot of 18th.

“It was a tough night for us. We tried a bunch of stuff and the guys never gave up. They worked really hard on this Ford EcoBoost Mustang but we couldn’t really get it up under us,” Buescher said afterwards. “It just seemed like it was up on top of the racetrack, so we’ve got some stuff to work on and we’ll go out here and try to make it better.”

A win could have a huge help for these three drivers in the standings, as all three are in the top 10 of points and still in contention following point leader Regan Smith’s late race crash.

All three drivers head to Daytona International Speedway to mark the halfway point in the season. And all three will have a chance to steal a win at the restrictor plate facility.

EMAIL KAYLA AT kayla.darrow@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW KAYLA ON TWITTER: @kayla_darrow

Categories
XFINITY

Late Pass Gives Kevin Harvick Nationwide Win at Kentucky

By Chris Knight (NASCAR Wire Service) A late-race pass on Kyle Busch on the final restart of the night awarded Kevin Harvick of JR Motorsports the win Friday night at Kentucky Speedway in the running of the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300 presented by Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

Harvick, though should thank Brad Keselowski for the trophy after Keselowski foiled late in the race with a speeding penalty on Lap 148, which put him behind and opened the door for a classic shoot-out between two former Nationwide Series champions.

“All in all, it was a very strange night,” said Harvick, who noted that they weren’t racing tonight three weeks ago. “In the beginning our car wasn’t that bad, we needed some adjustments, had some things happen on some pit stops, so we pitted and put four tires on and everything kinda of fell our way. We were able to get a little bit of a tire advantage there at the end and Ernie (Cope, crew chief) made a really good adjustment to the race car that allowed us to really take off and run the best we had all night.”

Winning his third pole of the season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series just an hour before race time, Brad Keselowski led the 40-car starting field to the green flag and quickly walked away from outside pole sitter Kyle Busch.

While the top-10 shuffled near the rear of the deck, Keselowski continued to stretch his lead by Lap 20 and 10 laps later, the Team Penske driver extended his lead to 2.6 seconds.

13 laps later the caution flag fell for the first time of the night for debris on the backstretch. Under the yellow, the lead pack elected to come to pit road for tires, fuel and adjustments. Quick work by Richard Childress Racing surged Paul Menard from third to first, leading Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick off pit road. Kyle Busch entered second, but lost several positions after overshooting his pit stall.

Menard was able to hold the lead on the initial restart, but Keselowski throttled forward a lap later and reassumed control on Lap 48.

Twelve laps later, Keselowski had grown his lead to 1.7 seconds over Menard. He remained in control until Lap 83 when the caution flew for debris in Turn 4. Under the yellow, Shane Sieg turned Jeremy Clements in Turn 1, emotions rolling over — stemming from some alleged light contact exiting Turn 4 the lap before.

Meanwhile, the leaders pitted with teams utilizing varying strategies. A two-tire stop for Elliott Sadler and Regan Smith moved them ahead of Keselowski, Road America winner Brendan Gaughan and Kyle Busch as they came off pit road.

Sadler would be overtaken by Smith on the restart, but his time at the front was short-lived as he would prove to be no match for a thundering Keselowski, who reclaimed first on Lap 90.

The Rochester Hills, Michigan native would continue to lead through the halfway point, until Matt Kenseth crashed on Lap 102 bringing out the event’s third caution. A majority of the leaders decided to stay out under the yellow, knowing that they could not make it to the finish.

On the restart, Keselowski, the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion continued his race dominance and by Lap 135 was able to maneuver a 1.9-second gap.

Green flag pit stop began on Lap 138 with Keselowski bringing his No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang to pit road on Lap 148, but after a solid stop, the Team Penske pilot would be tagged with a speeding ticket and have to serve a pass-thru penalty.

Meanwhile, Kevin Harvick took the lead when Keselowski pitted on Lap 149 with a 3.1 margin over Gaughan, until the caution waived on Lap 156 for debris.

Needing to make a pit stop, the leaders came to pit road with Harvick leading the parade off pit road, though not as the leader as Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Ryan Blaney remained on the racetrack, holding the top-three spots. Harvick found himself fourth for the impending restart.

With 39 Laps to go, Busch led the Nationwide train back to the green flag and despite some controlled chaos racing behind, Busch held a steady lead ahead of Harvick, but Keselowski, who took a waive-around under the prior yellow flag had roared from 17th to ninth in just five green flag laps and set his sights forward.

Keselowski needed a caution to close the gap and that came on Lap 168 when Ryan Reed and Regan Smith made contact on the backstretch, which sent Smith’s No. 7 into the wall.

When racing resumed, Harvick attempted to take the lead from Busch, with Keselowski lurking from behind in fifth, but Dakoda Armstrong wrecked on the backstretch on Lap 176, it stacked the field back together.

With 21 laps to go, racing resumed with intense side-by-side racing between Busch and Harvick, with Menard, Gaughan and Keselowski stalking from behind. With 16 Laps to go, Busch cleared Harvick and built a small cushion between him.

A late race caution on Lap 192 for an incident involving Trevor Bayne and Chase Elliott bunched the field back together for a five-lap shootout.

On the restart, Harvick powered using the low-line to pass Busch for the lead, with Keselowski attacking his prey and moving into second and setting his sights on the No. 5 Chevrolet of Harvick.

Keselowski though would run out of time and Harvick soared to his second NASCAR Nationwide Series win of the season. It was the fifth win of the year for JR Motorsports (Chase Elliott, 2, Kevin Harvick, 2 and Regan Smith, 1).

JR Motorsports co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. spoke about how proud he was of his Mooresville, North Carolina-based team.

“Kevin (Harvick) just had enough opportunity on the restart,” Earnhardt said. “I was real surprised it worked out. We’re having a lot of fun winning some races and it’s definitely going to benefit our company in the long run and I can’t thank Kevin enough for coming to be a part of it.”

Keselowski took responsibility for the slip in the race, but was equally proud of the recovery. “We had a great Discount Tire Ford and I definitely put us behind and was just one spot away from catching back up,” offered Keselowski post-race. “You still have to give credit to Kevin at the end there.  He drove by and took the lead, so he was really good.”

As for Busch, who saw his second win of the weekend evaporate in the waning laps said he shouldn’t be disappointed with third, but he was.

“We didn’t have the car to beat so shouldn’t be upset with a third, but there at the end we had the opportunity to win the race and through the middle part of the race I passed the 5 (Kevin Harvick) car and just didn’t have enough on the final restarts unfortunately.  Just not enough there to hold Kevin (Harvick) off.  He just flat drove right by me on the restart.”

Kyle Busch finished third with Paul Menard fourth and Team Penske Racing teammate Ryan Blaney in fifth. Richard Childress Racing claimed sixth through eight with Gaughan, Ty Dillon and Brian Scott with Larson and new points leader Elliott Sadler comprising the top-10.

Elliott Sadler grabbed the NASCAR Nationwide Series points lead exiting Kentucky. He has a slim four point gap over Chase Elliott. Regan Smith is third (-8), Ty Dillon fourth (-29) and Brian Scott fifth (-47).

Next up for the NASCAR Nationwide Series is their final restrictor plate race of the season from Daytona (Fla.) Speedway on Independence Day (July 4) next Friday night for the running of the Subway Firecracker 250.

1. (7) Kevin Harvick(i), Chevrolet, 200, $79350.

2. (1) Brad Keselowski(i), Ford, 200, $59600.

3. (2) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 200, $41625.

4. (3) Paul Menard(i), Chevrolet, 200, $28350.

5. (9) Ryan Blaney(i), Ford, 200, $22575.

6. (12) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 200, $27750.

7. (8) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 200, $26500.

8. (5) Brian Scott, Chevrolet, 200, $24100.

9. (11) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 200, $19175.

10. (10) Elliott Sadler, Toyota, 200, $23550.

11. (17) Dylan Kwasniewski #, Chevrolet, 200, $22250.

12. (6) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 200, $21475.

13. (23) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 200, $20925.

14. (19) James Buescher, Toyota, 200, $20375.

15. (13) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 200, $21000.

16. (21) Corey Lajoie(i), Ford, 200, $19925.

17. (15) Ryan Reed #, Ford, 200, $19800.

18. (18) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 200, $19650.

19. (22) Blake Koch, Toyota, 200, $19525.

20. (25) Dakoda Armstrong #, Ford, 199, $20100.

21. (16) Ryan Sieg #, Chevrolet, 198, $19275.

22. (20) JJ Yeley, Dodge, 198, $19145.

23. (26) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 198, $18995.

24. (31) Eric McClure, Toyota, 197, $18845.

25. (35) Mike Wallace, Dodge, 197, $19220.

26. (29) Jamie Dick, Chevrolet, 197, $18595.

27. (32) Jake Crum(i), Chevrolet, 197, $18470.

28. (14) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 197, $19345.

29. (30) Josh Wise(i), Chevrolet, 196, $18195.

30. (27) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 195, $18370.

31. (34) Martin Roy, Chevrolet, 194, $11945.

32. (37) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, Fuel Pump, 188, $17820.

33. (39) Ruben Garcia Jr., Chevrolet, 183, $17710.

34. (24) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 130, $17600.

35. (38) Josh Reaume, Chevrolet, Overheating, 104, $17475.

36. (4) Matt Kenseth(i), Toyota, Accident, 102, $10555.

37. (40) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, Ignition, 80, $16520.

38. (36) Tanner Berryhill #, Dodge, Brakes, 53, $16486.

39. (33) Jeff Green, Toyota, Vibration, 4, $10350.

40. (28) Matt Dibenedetto, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 2, $10250.

Categories
XFINITY

Track Repaves? Elliott Sadler Says Don’t Touch

By Kelly Crandall – As NASCAR heads to one of its roughest venues this weekend of Kentucky Speedway, the topic quickly arises of whether a repave should be in its – or any track’s – future.

@Elliott_Sadler is one of many who believe the answer is simple. And resounding.

“If you’re asking my opinion as a driver, never. Patch it up, patch it up like Pocono did a couple years ago – remember they did Turn 3 on the outside lane. That was awesome,” Sadler said Thursday at Kentucky. “That created awesome racing. Just patch it up. If you’re a race fan I think you would want to keep it old and slick and everybody sliding around. That creates in my opinion, really good racing.”

Instead, according to the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, technology and money are so great these days that when a track is given a face lift it stays new for too long. It also provides tons of grip, which in turn creates single file racing because of the speeds the three national series are carrying.

“Then you put a lot of pressure on Goodyear because then you have to bring a hard enough tire to keep it from blowing out because they are going so fast through the corner,” Sadler continued. “Maybe I’m old school, but leave it slick and let’s run around and everybody has to race on it. I think if you interviewed all the drivers that are here this weekend racing, 95 percent of them would say never repave unless dirt is starting to grow on the racetrack somewhere and grass.”

Or when the track starts to fall apart. Pocono was patched up in the corners and fixed a few bumps. Martinsville was repaved after the concrete came up in 2004 and went through the grille of @JeffGordonWeb’s car. Daytona was paved for the first time in its history prior to the 2011 season.

Daytona, while a wide-open restrictor plate facility, to that point still one that created handling issues for teams. It had character, but not so much anymore. Talladega has also been repaved and is now smooth as glass. Auto Club Speedway is also looked at as track with character because of the numerous bumps drivers encounter going down the backstretch.

The 1.5-mile track of Kentucky, which is only going on its fourth Sprint Cup Series birthday, is also very rough. So rough that during Nationwide Series testing on Wednesday, @RyanBlaney22 got a nosebleed. The track is notorious for tossing cars and trucks into the air and having them slam back down on their splitter.

“Hell no. Please don’t, guys. Please don’t bring up that word – that’s a bad word in racing,” Sadler said when asked if Kentucky should be repaved. “As a track gains character and it loses grip and it creates bumps and it creates grooves, it creates better racing for the fans. Anytime you have to come in and repave a track – I understand that you have to do it to keep the asphalt going when it’s falling apart and stuff like that, but wait until the last possible minute if you can.

“We’ve seen the Michigan definitely has changed a lot from a racing perspective. Kansas has definitely changed a lot – Daytona is definitely a lot different. A lot of the repaves are different. Right now Kentucky is rough, we know it is and everybody has to battle through that.”

Sadler is not alone however. Others like Sprint Cup drivers Carl Edwards and @DaleJr. are also equally vocal when it comes to repaving racetracks. Many are now wondering what will happen to Dover Speedway after a pothole appeared during the Sprint Cup race earlier this month.

Richard Childress Racing driver, and last weekend’s Nationwide Series winner, @Brendan62 echoed Sadler’s sentiment. Taking a step further in saying that too many tracks all resurfaced at the same time. Instead, Gaughan likes the NASCAR of the 90s, when tires would fall off and the racing was still good.

He too, said Kentucky is perfectly fine the way it is.

“It’s lost a lot of grip and everybody has to battle through that, but that’s what makes Kentkucky different than Texas, Charlotte, Chicago, Kansas and other mile-and-a-halves that we race at,” Sadler said.

“I definitely agree with Brendan (Gaughan) – no repave anytime soon hopefully.”

EMAIL KELLY AT kelly.crandall@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @KellyCrandall