Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Keselowski and Logano Speak Out on Comments Made by Bubba Wallace

AVONDALE, Arizona — Throughout the weekend of the Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway, Bubba Wallace was hounded by the media after accusations of an apparent intentional spin that occurred in the AAA Texas 500 from Texas Motor Speedway.

In a video taken by NASCAR NBC Sports writer, Dustin Long, the driver of the No. 43 – visibly agitated – admitted to intentionally committing the act, but credited his actions to things he learned from Team Penske drivers, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski.

The drivers of the No.2 and No. 22 Ford Mustangs witnessed the the footage of Wallace’s comments, but we’re puzzled to what incidents he was referring to.

The only incident that came to mind for Logano occurred in the first race in the Round of 8 at Martinsville Speedway, just two weeks prior.

The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion was driven up the track by Denny Hamlin and sandwiched between the right side of the No. 11 and the outside wall down the front stretch. This led to a flat tire and an untimely spin from Logano, which ultimately resulted in the infamous altercation between the driver of the FedEx Camry and the driver of the Shell/Pennzoil Ford at the conclusion of the First Data 500.

“At Martinsville, I got a flat tire,” Logano told POPULAR SPEED. “I’m trying not to crash, trying not to hit anything or get the quarter panels torn up – trying to live to race another day, basically. That’s kind of the thought at that moment, ‘How do I continue my race?'”

The Connecticut-native didn’t have much to say about the comments made by Wallace, although he seemed to have inferred that he may have aided with the on-track spin to prevent further damage.

While Logano opted a more tight-lipped approach to the situation, Keselowski did not shy away from speaking his mind on the accusations and the state of NASCAR, in certain regards.

” I wish he [Wallace] had given more context, because I’m not exactly sure what he’s talking about.,” Keselowski shared with POPULAR SPEED. “I’m guessing he’s talking about Michigan (International Speedway) when I had a flat tire and somehow kept it off the wall – but, that one was savable, it wasn’t by me. I don’t really have a lot of thoughts on it without understanding what he meant.”

The driver of the Miller Lite Ford seemed to defend Wallace and went on to reference NASCAR’s early lineage in a sense that the sport was literally founded off of criminals – bootleggers running moonshine through the Appalachian foothills during the prohibition-era. Keselowski finds it ironic that the sport has transitioned from hard-nosed competitiveness to a  “squeaky-clean perfect” approach.

“It makes you wonder about the days of Dale [Earnhardt] and all the other guys and what they were able to get away with,” the Michigan-native pondered. “Everyone obviously misses Dale, but then I wonder sometimes – if a guy like Dale was around would he even be accepted today?”

Keselowski admitted that this is not all due in part to NASCAR wanting clean and fair racing. He is fully aware that a vast majority of the sport’s revenue is acquired through sponsorships and naturally, partners prefer more ethical and cleaner methods upon representation.

After Long’s video of Wallace went viral on Twitter, the sport’s sanctioning body swiftly took action and slapped the 25-year old driver with a $50,000 fine and a deduction of 50 points from the No. 43 team.

Although NASCAR’s intent was to send a message, don’t expect these penalties to prevent further incidents like this from occurring in the future. Teams are always fighting tooth and nail to get best finish they can attain and that all begins with preserving the car.

While attempts to save the car won’t be as blatant as Wallace’s actions at Texas (See the video below) – we can almost guarantee that drivers will think twice about admitting to guilt. Sometimes the truth does not set you free.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management to other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered and endorsement.

Categories
Feature

Jimmie Johnson is Feeling Optimistic in Return to the Desert

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AVONDALE, Arizona — Seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson is currently wrapping up one of the statistically worst seasons of his career. The driver of the famed No. 48 is looking to rebound at ISM Raceway – a place that has been very kind to him in his 19-year career.

While the lifetime Hendrick Motorsports driver will start the Bluegreen Vacations 500 in the 22nd position, he feels optimistic about his car – even with the limited time he feels the premier series had on the Arizona-based track.

“The guys did a really good job getting speed in the car,” Johnson told POPULAR SPEED. “We only got two laps in, so it’s tough to tell. It’s was tough to understand what was going on in practice as well. It was cut short for us because we didn’t pass tech last week and the track is just now rubbering in, so the first practice was kind of a wash.

“The second one went by so fast. We knew we were off, but we knew where to attack. The guys did a great job putting more speed in the car and I’m optimistic, but I won’t know until we get in there and lay down those first few laps.”

The 43-year old enters ISM Raceway off a tough weekend that saw him slip in the traction compound at Texas Motor Speedway, getting into the wall. The PJ1 returns this weekend in the higher groove at the 1.5-mile speedway.

“It wasn’t part of my issue last week – I will say that at Michigan (International Speedway), it got me – but it is what it is,” said the seven-time champion. “The harder that stuff is, the more grip it has. After cautions or certainly at the start of the race, we know this stuff isn’t going to have grip going into turns one and two. It’s always been the same, but I feel a lot of drivers didn’t realize it until they were riding around on the pickup trucks before the race, waving at the fans.”

Johnson has the second-most wins at ISM Raceway among active drivers, including three consecutive wins spanning from 2007-08 and one addition victory in the Fall of 2009. The track formerly known as Phoenix International Raceway has not been too kind to the Team Chevy driver since the reconfiguration in 2018, as he only has one top-10 finish. This will by no means be an easy event for Johnson to overcome, but it’s hard to go against a confident driver who has 15 top-fives, 21 top-10s and an average finish of 10.2  at a venue where he also has four wins.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management to other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered and endorsement.

 

Categories
Trucks

Moffitt Proves His Worth With Truck Series Win

When the 2015 NASCAR season ended at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, Brett Moffitt didn’t know where or when he’d be racing again.

Last year’s Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year raced for Front Row Motorsports in the No. 34 Ford and had a few stints with Michael Waltrip Racing in the No. 55 Toyota as a fill-in for Brian Vickers, who was sidelined with blood-clot issues.

But MWR closed its doors when the season ended, and Moffitt knew he wouldn’t be racing with the organization in 2016. Then Chris Buescher, the defending XFINITY Series champion, signed with FRM to drive the No. 34 for 2016, so Moffitt was left without a ride.

The 24-year-old sat out the first half of the season. But when Matt Tifft needed surgery to remove a brain tumor, Red Horse Racing needed someone to substitute the 20-year-old in the No. 11 Toyota.

Moffitt joined RHR for the truck race at Kentucky Speedway in July. He immediately turned heads when he qualified second for the Buckle Up In Your Truck 225, but suffered an engine failure on Lap 27 and finished 31st.

Since Kentucky though, Moffitt has finishes of third (Pocono), second (Bristol), and first at Michigan International Speedway.

Moffitt’s win in the Careers for Veterans 200 at Michigan on Saturday was his first in one of NASCAR’s three national touring series. He made a last-lap pass on RHR teammate Timothy Peters and Kyle Busch Motorsports rookie William Byron, as the two battled for the lead with the white flag waving.

“When I saw the 9 [Byron] go two-wide with the 17 [Peters], I knew it’d slow them down and punch a big hole in the air,” Moffitt said. “I knew, as long as I could get to the outside getting into [Turn] 1, I could clear them. I just didn’t know if it would hold all the way down the backstretch and luckily it did.”

Although Moffitt now has a victory, he isn’t eligible for the Truck Series Chase since he has not been a series regular all year. But his victory did get the No. 11 in the hunt for the owner’s championship.

“I knew everyone was impressed with the runs we were having, but for my sake, I knew we had to go out there and win,” Moffitt said. “Our job was to get the 11 truck into the owner’s championship, and we did that. Hopefully some more doors will open down the road, but all in all, it’s been a great opportunity, and it’s a lot of fun racing when you have the right tools for the job.”

Before his truck victory, Moffitt’s other accomplishments were a pair of wins in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Series in 2012. In 2015 he scored and an eighth-place in the MWR No. 55, which came in the Cup race as Vickers’ substitute at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2015.

After the race, Moffitt tweeted:

https://twitter.com/Brett_Moffitt/status/769675759527002113

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
News

After Michigan Win, Logano Two-For-Two With New Aero Package

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) BROOKLYN, Mich. – In the second race that featured NASCAR’s new lower-downforce package, Joey Logano lowered the boom—again.

There was one major difference between Joey Logano’s victory in Sunday’s FireKeepers 400 at Michigan International Speedway and his win May 21 in the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte. This one counted in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings and punched Logano’s ticket into the Chase.

But it remained abundantly clear that Team Penske already has a handle on the aerodynamic configuration the sanctioning body is considering for 2017.

Logano led 139 of 200 laps at the two-mile track and dominated a succession of restarts, except for one instance on Lap 117 when race runner-up Chase Elliott grabbed the lead from the driver of the No. 22 Ford.

Reasserting his superiority on a Lap 154 restart, Logano held the top spot the rest of the way to win for the first time this season, for the second time at Michigan and for the 15th time in his career. It was the 50th victory for Team Penske since switching to Ford equipment after the 2012 season.

The top three finishers boasted the youngest average age for a podium in Sprint Cup Series history–23.0. Logano is 26, Elliott 20 and Larson 23. The previous youngest average age for a top three was 24.7 (three times, dating back to 1951 at Charlotte Speedway).

“Everyone did a great job of understanding what this package was going to do,” Logano said in Victory Lane. “They put together a great race car for me. It was a lot of fun racing with Chase there at the end…

“Perfect execution. We’ve been knocking on the door for a win here all season. We got that All-Star win, but it’s nice to get that win and lock ourselves into the Chase.”

Logano had a comfortable lead over Elliott, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year leader, when Denny Hamlin popped his left rear tire on the frontstretch and careened into the inside wall near the entrance to Turn 1. NASCAR called the ninth caution of the afternoon, setting up the final restart with seven laps left.

Logano chose the outside lane, and eventual third-place finisher Kyle Larson tried to push Elliott past Logano into the lead, but to no avail. Logano pulled away, maintained an advantage of nearly one second and won the race by .889 seconds over Elliott, who was chagrined despite a career-best finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Elliott’s waterloo actually came at Lap 154, when, as the leader, he missed a shift and allowed Logano to regain the lead.

“You can’t do dumb stuff and win these races,” Elliott said. “Completely my fault. The guys gave me a great car today. This whole NAPA group has been working so hard these past few weeks, and that one was on me.

“Like I said, you can’t do dumb stuff to win these things and I did today.”

Asked to elaborate on what he did wrong, Elliott replied, “Putting it in the correct gear would be a good start.”

Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski, ran fourth behind Larson, with Kevin Harvick rallying from a 29th-place starting position to finish fifth. Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Austin Dillon, Jamie McMurray and Kurt Busch completed the top 10.

The seventh-place result for Stewart was his second-best this season. Stewart missed the first nine events of the year after an offseason back injury.

Notes: Debris on the grille of Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota caused his engine to overheat and erupt in a fireball just past the 50-lap mark. Busch was the first driver out of the race (in 40th place), marking the fourth straight event in which he has finished 30th or worse…

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the victim of a Lap 62 crash that started when Chris Buescher’s Ford got loose on the bottom of the track and clipped the left rear of Earnhardt’s Chevrolet, which in turn wiped out the No. 47 Chevy of AJ Allmendinger. Earnhardt retired from the race in 39th place…

Harvick increased his series lead over Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch to 30 points. Logano, the 10th driver to win a Cup race this season, jumped three spots to fifth…

Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet failed the laser inspection station (LIS) after the race. NASCAR is taking the car to its research-and-development center in Concord, N.C., for further evaluation. If penalties are warranted, they will be announced in the coming week.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – FireKeepers Casino 400

1. (1) Joey Logano, Ford, 200.
2. (10) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 200.
3. (7) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 200.
4. (15) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 200.
5. (29) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 200.
6. (11) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 200.
7. (3) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 200.
8. (8) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 200.
9. (14) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 200.
10. (17) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 200.
11. (6) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 200.
12. (2) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 200.
13. (23) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 200.
14. (19) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 200.
15. (13) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 200.
16. (16) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 200.
17. (5) * Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 200.
18. (32) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 200.
19. (18) Greg Biffle, Ford, 200.
20. (22) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 200.
21. (25) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 200.
22. (35) David Ragan, Toyota, 200.
23. (34) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 200.
24. (21) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 200.
25. (28) Landon Cassill, Ford, 200.
26. (30) Aric Almirola, Ford, 200.
27. (36) * Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 200.
28. (39) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 200.
29. (12) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 199.
30. (37) * Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 197.
31. (40) * Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 194.
32. (24) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 189.
33. (4) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, Accident, 188.
34. (31) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, Accident, 185.
35. (33) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 179.
36. (26) Brian Scott #, Ford, Accident, 154.
37. (38) Jeffrey Earnhardt #, Ford, Accident, 101.
38. (20) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Accident, 62.
39. (27) Dale Earnhardt Jr, Chevrolet, Accident, 61.
40. (9) Kyle Busch, Toyota, Engine, 52.

Categories
News

Daniel Suarez Passes Kyle Busch Enroute to First Career Win

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Daniel Suarez was speechless—and justifiably so.

The Mexican driver had just passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch for the lead on the next-to-last lap and held on to win Saturday’s Menards 250 presented by Valvoline NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Michigan International Speedway by .280 seconds over the man who sets the standard in the series.

The first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR national series race, Suarez overcame a pit road speeding penalty assessed on Lap 29 of 125 under the first of three cautions. He restarted eighth after the third caution on Lap 91, caught and passed Elliott Sadler for second place with 10 laps left and ran down Busch for the lead on Lap 124.

“I just have no words,” said Suarez, an alumnus of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next programs. “I don’t think I can speak English or Spanish right now. I have no words for what I’m feeling right now.

“This machine is unbelievable. It’s unbelievably fast—definitely the fastest car out there. I have no words to describe what I’m feeling right now. It’s just unbelievable.”

Though Suarez was reveling in the moment, he made special mention of JGR teammate and fourth-place finisher Erik Jones, whose father passed away at age 53 on Tuesday after a brief battle with cancer. Erik’s No. 20 Toyota carried the name of his father, Dave Jones, painted above the window of his car.

“I would like to dedicate this victory to Erik and his family,” Suarez said.

Behind Suarez and Busch, Paul Menard finished third, followed by Jones and Sadler.

In passing Busch for the win, Suarez beat the best. Busch holds the XFINITY Series record for victories with 80. And Busch has been a willing mentor to Suarez, who also drives a limited schedule for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

“The Kyle Busch School of Charm finished 1-2-4 today, so not too bad,” said Busch, who led 88 laps. “Obviously we want to win. We thought we should have won. We had the best car for the majority of the race there, but not the last 20 laps or so—just got really loose on me.

“But congratulations to Daniel Suarez. He earned that one. It’s cool to see. It’s a little bittersweet to lose like that, but it’s all right. It’s one of my students. So the student beat the teacher today.”

The speeding penalty wasn’t the only obstacle Suarez had to overcome. As he was working his way back to the front after the infraction, the clutch in his No. 19 Toyota failed, causing the car to stall during a green-flag pit stop on Lap 71.

“In the second half of the race, the clutch was gone,” said Suarez, who increased his lead in the series standings to 18 points over Sadler.

Fortunately for Suarez, the clutch wasn’t an issue over the final 33 laps as he chased and ultimately overtook Busch.

“He made a statement today that he’s the real deal,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who served as a guest commentator on the Fox Sports 1 broadcast. “I think a lot of people knew that, but if they didn’t, they found out today.”

 

NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – Menards 250 presented by Valvoline

Michigan International Speedway

Brooklyn, Michigan

Saturday, June 11, 2016

1. (6) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 125.

2. (5) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 125.

3. (12) Paul Menard(i), Chevrolet, 125.

4. (2) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 125.

5. (3) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 125.

6. (9) Joey Logano(i), Ford, 125.

7. (1) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 125.

8. (4) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 125.

9. (17) Darrell Wallace Jr, Ford, 125.

10. (15) Brandon Jones #, Chevrolet, 125.

11. (8) Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 125.

12. (10) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 125.

13. (7) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, 125.

14. (11) Ryan Reed, Ford, 125.

15. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 125.

16. (18) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 125.

17. (20) Garrett Smithley #, Chevrolet, 125.

18. (14) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 125.

19. (24) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 125.

20. (21) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 124.

21. (22) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 124.

22. (16) Justin Marks, Chevrolet, 124.

23. (26) Ray Black Jr #, Chevrolet, 123.

24. (19) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 122.

25. (29) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 121.

26. (30) Harrison Rhodes, Dodge, 120.

27. (37) Martin Roy, Chevrolet, 118.

28. (31) TJ Bell, Chevrolet, 117.

29. (36) Mike Harmon, Dodge, 116.

30. (38) Todd Peck, Ford, 116.

31. (32) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 115.

32. (35) Chris Cockrum, Chevrolet, Accident, 82.

33. (23) Jeff Green, Toyota, Transmission, 75.

34. (28) BJ McLeod #, Ford, Transmission, 70.

35. (33) Mario Gosselin, Chevrolet, Vibration, 41.

36. (34) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Oil Leak, 16.

37. (39) John Jackson, Toyota, Clutch, 13.

38. (40) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, Overheating, 11.

39. (27) Josh Wise(i), Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 8.

40. (25) Matt DiBenedetto(i), Toyota, Rear Gear, 3.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 155.952 mph.

Time of Race: 01 Hrs, 36 Mins, 11 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.280 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 3 for 14 laps.

Lead Changes: 11 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders: A. Bowman 1-11; E. Jones # 12-28; E. Sadler 29; J. Yeley 30; K. Busch(i) 31-67; E. Jones # 68; P. Menard(i) 69; D. Suarez 70-71; K. Busch(i) 72-99; E. Sadler 100; K. Busch(i) 101-123; D. Suarez 124-125.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): K. Busch(i) 3 times for 88 laps; E. Jones # 2 times for 18 laps; A. Bowman 1 time for 11 laps; D. Suarez 2 times for 4 laps; E. Sadler 2 times for 2 laps; P. Menard(i) 1 time for 1 lap; J. Yeley 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 10 in Points: D. Suarez – 452; E. Sadler – 434; T. Dillon – 416; E. Jones # – 397; J. Allgaier – 388; B. Jones # – 388; B. Gaughan – 386; B. Poole # – 373; D. Wallace Jr – 340; R. Reed – 301.

Categories
XFINITY

GAS N’ GO: Kyle Busch’s School of Charm

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Daniel Suarez finally put his name on the list of first-time winners in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Saturday, passing teammate Kyle Busch coming to the white flag to win the Menards 250 at Michigan International Speedway.

Feels Like the First Time

Suarez experienced an up-and-down afternoon in the Irish Hills. During a round of pit stops, the driver of the No. 19 Arris Toyota was caught speeding on pit road, taking him from the lead to 25th at lap 29. By Lap 45, Suarez had driven all the way to ninth place, and appeared to have one of the fastest cars on track.

With 13 to go, Suarez made a three-wide pass of Paul Menard and Elliott Sadler to slide into the second position. From there, he began to cut into teammate Kyle Busch’s lead. With the pair racing off Turn 4 to take the white flag, the second-year Xfinity driver made his move, diving to the inside of Busch and taking the lead.

With the win, Suarez became the first Mexican-born driver to win any national level NASCAR race, and just the sixth foreign-born driver to win in the Xfinity Series. Saturday’s race was Suarez’s 48th Xfinity Series start and 67th start in one of NASCAR’s top three series.

Racing With a Heavy Heart

It was a bittersweet day for Joe Gibbs Racing. While Suarez celebrated the biggest day of his career, Erik Jones mourned the loss of his father. Dave Jones died Tuesday after a bout with cancer, which was revealed after Jones’ win at Bristol earlier this season.

Before the race, Erik replaced his name above the door of his No. 20 Toyota with his father’s name. Erik also penned an emotional letter to his father, which he tweeted just minutes before the start of Saturday’s race.

Jones came home in fourth place, an incredible effort given the circumstances he was facing.

Carpe Diem

In only his third Xfinity start of the season, Alex Bowman snapped Joe Gibbs Racing’s 10-race streak by earning the pole in the JR Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro. With sponsorship from Vannoy Construction, Bowman led 11 laps Saturday en route to a seventh-place finish.

Bowman was originally scheduled to make nine starts in the No. 88 for JRM this year. Through three races, the Tucson, Arizona native has made the most of his time in the car. At Dover, Bowman led 33 laps and finished third before a top ten at rain-shortened Pocono.

If Bowman’s performance continues to live up to the early standard, it will only be a matter of time before more sponsorship is found.

Say What?

Kyle Busch dominated Saturday’s race, leading 88 laps in the No. 18 NOS Energy Toyota. After the race, Busch showed a side of himself rarely seen after he comes up short by cracking a few jokes.

During his post-race interview with Fox Sports, Busch said “You never want to get beat, but it’s cool when you get beat fair and square.” Busch congratulated Suarez, who he called a graduate of the “Kyle Busch School of Charm.”

Busch was also asked about his team winning Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race with 18-year-old William Byron, and if he was surprised his success. Busch’s reply? “No, look at their teacher.”

 

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Categories
News

VIDEO: Groundhog Interrupts XFINITY Practice

The first XFINITY Series practice session at Michigan International Speedway came to a halt on Friday after a groundhog scampered onto the backstretch of the racing surface.

NASCAR red-flagged practice as track officials and safety workers tried to catch it, which took two attempts and about 10 minutes.

In the first effort to capture it, the animal juked a shovel-wielding track worker, reminiscent of a wide receiver shaking off a cornerback in the NFL. A second worker trapped it under a bucket, but the groundhog wasn’t giving up. As three men carried it in a bucket, the rodent jumped out and ran, but one of them scooped it into a barrel a few minutes later, ending the on-track ruckus.

Friday’s practice wasn’t the first time wildlife interfered with on-track activities:

• In August 2015, a rabbit stopped Camping World Truck Series practice at Bristol Motor Speedway. Track workers were unsuccessful in catching the animal, but the practice was resumed after it entered the track infield.

• In March 2015, two squirrels were spotted at Phoenix International Raceway during XFINITY Series practice. One squirrel was escorted to safety while the other met its demise after an encounter with the front bumper of Landon Cassill’s car.

• During a Cup race at Atlanta in August 2014, a squirrel ran in front of Kevin Harvick’s car during green-flag racing. Harvick, who was the race leader at the time, told his team he thought a cat ran across Turn 3.

• During the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2015, Williams Martini Racing driver Felipe Massa nearly hit a groundhog before it ran off the track and under a safety wall.

The groundhog did not post an official lap.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Humor

NASCAR Fan Travel Guide: Michigan

I’ve never been to the Irish Hills of Michigan. Or the Michigan Hills of Ireland, for that matter. I guess I’m not a hill guy.

I also wasn’t sure what Pure Michigan was until I looked it up. It’s just things and places in Michigan. Why couldn’t they just say that instead? And really it’s not “pure” Michigan. Like wineries. I’m pretty sure there are some of those in France. And a zoo. Maybe there’s not one in France, but there’s one in Indiana. Or peninsulas. Florida’s got one. Or lakes. There’s one behind my house. Or Detroit. Lots of states have blighted areas, but Michigan’s the only one that wants you to come see theirs. So really, Pure Michigan is basically just a list of things you could see driving down any road. Which I guess is why Michigan is an old Native American word meaning, “Hey, haven’t we seen all this before?”

Not that there’s not a lot to do in Michigan. There is.

1. If you’re a coward who doesn’t want to fight in a war, Michigan has the most border crossings into Canada.

2. Visit the Irish Hills. Try to avoid being mauled by a leprechaun.

3. Pet a wild wolverine.Call an ambulance because petting that wild wolverine was a really stupid idea.

4. Call an ambulance because petting that wild wolverine was a really stupid idea.

5. Enjoy a reenactment of Henry Ford beating employees for inventing the Edsel.

6. Skip a rock all the way across any of the Great Lakes, win a prize! Hope it’s not a bottle of Michigan wine.

7. Tell everyone you thought Pure Minnesota was more interesting.

8. Sue The Four Tops. Claim you were the fifth Top

9. Visit home of Johnny Benson. Let the rest know what he’s doing now.

10. Visit statue of war hero C. Thomas Howell who died defending our country after the Cubans invaded.

Oh, and enjoy the race!

Categories
News

Gordon Shatters Michigan Record for Second Pole of 2014

By Matt Weaver — Jeff Gordon shattered the Michigan International Speedway qualifying record on Friday, claiming the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race with a speed of 206.558 mph.

Gordon continued the trend of breaking the track record at Michigan ever since the two-mile facility was repaved prior to the 2012 season. Kevin Harvick set a new record in June at 204.557 mph but drivers crushed that mark with ease from the first session onwards.

Gordon set the fastest time for the second straight event following his breakthrough at Watkins Glen. This is the 76th pole of Gordon’s career and he hopes it will lead to his 91st series victory and momentum heading into the Chase for the Championship.

“A really fast race car,” Gordon said. “I mean, it’s a team effort. You’ve got to give your input. Those guys are just really smart and making great decisions. We’re trying to catch these Penske guys and the Stewart-Haas guys in qualifying on these big, fast ovals like this.

“We obviously made some improvements. This is a really good race car. This is our Brickyard 400 car so it’s a fast one. And let’s hope we can keep it going fast all day on Sunday.”

Joey Logano qualified second, followed by Carl Edwards, Brian Vickers and Brad Keselowski.

A resurgent Roush Fenway Racing placed all three of its cars inside the final round and within the top-12 at a track it has traditionally dominated. In addition to Edwards’ third place, Ricky Stenhouse and Greg Biffle will start 10th and 11th on Sunday.

RFR tested at Michigan in July and Edwards believes all three drivers are receiving the fruits of that labor.

“I believe that at this point it looks like we did the right thing,” Edwards said. “I feel like we have a very fast car here. It shows us that we are doing the right things. We are working on things and it is paying off. The race is another story but we will enjoy this today.

“It has been a lot of work for a lot of people. Hopefully we just keep moving forward. We have been making progress and this is a good step.”

Jeff Burton filled in for Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Chevrolet and will start in 27th. Ryan Blaney (28th) and Matt Crafton (39th) filled in for Trevor Bayne and Martin Truex respectively and their usual drivers will have to start at the back of the field on Sunday.

Defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson posted just the 30th quickest time.

The complete qualifying results can be found below.

1. Jeff Gordon
2. Joey Logano
3. Carl Edwards
4. Brian Vickers
5. Brad Keselowski
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Paul Menard
8. Austin Dillon
9. Jamie McMurray
10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
11. Greg Biffle
12. Ryan Newman
13. Kyle Larson
14. Danica Patrick
15. Kasey Kahne
16. Kurt Busch
17. Justin Allgaier
18. Matt Kenseth
19. Clint Bowyer
20. Marcos Ambrose
21. Denny Hamlin
22. AJ Allmendinger
23. Aric Almirola
24. Kyle Busch
25. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
26. Casey Mears
27. Jeff Burton
28. Ryan Blaney
29. David Gilliland
30. Jimmie Johnson
31. Ryan Truex
32. Alex Bowman
33. Josh Wise
34. David Ragan
35. Michael Annett
36. Cole Whitt
37. Dave Blaney
38. Travis Kvapil
39. Matt Crafton
40. Reed Sorenson
41. Alex Kennedy
42. Joe Nemechek
43. Landon Cassill