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Ryan Reed Gets First XFINITY Win at Daytona; Crash Sidelines Kyle Busch for Daytona 500

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—With a spectacular last-lap move to the inside, not to mention a timely shove from Roush Fenway Raceway teammate Chris Buescher, Ryan Reed stormed to his first NASCAR XFINITY Series victory in Saturday’s Alert Today Florida 300 at Daytona International Speedway.

“Oh, my God, we won Daytona!” exulted Reed, who has overcome a diagnosis of Type I diabetes to drive full-time in the XFINITY Series.

Buescher finished second, .089 seconds behind, with Ty Dillon, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski claiming positions three through five. Keselowski was leading at the white flag, but a last-lap crash in Turn 1 left him alone in front of the field and a prime target for the Roush Fenway tandem.

On Lap 112, during a 10-car wreck that started at the exit from the tri-oval, Kyle Busch crashed nose-first into the concrete wall inside Turn 1. Busch climbed from his car but was unable to stay on his feet.

Emergency medical technicians put an air cast on Busch’s right leg before lifting him on a stretcher into a waiting ambulance. The driver of the No. 54 Toyota was transported directly to Halifax Medical Center for further evaluation. Busch was awake and alert and undergoing treatment for his leg injury. Joe Gibbs Racing said Busch will not drive in Sunday’s Daytona 500, and the organization is making contingency plans. Sunday’s race will be the first Sprint Cup event since the penultimate event of the 2001 season without one of the Busch brothers (Kurt or Kyle) in the field.

In a race where attrition was the watchword, Reed was one of nine drivers to finish on the lead lap.

“For every kid that gets diagnosed with diabetes, or anything that says you can’t do something, just go out there and overcome it and do it,” Reed said. “This is unreal. It hasn’t even sunk in yet. …

“When the wreck broke out of the least lap, Keselowski was out there on an island, and we got a huge run and it set up perfectly. … It’s amazing.”

After failing to qualify for the Daytona race last year, Buescher was elated with his second-place run, especially since he finished runner-up to a teammate.

“We’re just happy to be running this race this year,” Buescher said. “After last year going the way it did, we’re proud that we were in it. Our Ford Mustang was fast all weekend. Just trying to stay out of trouble, and there was a lot of it.

“We barely got out of it. I think we ended up, me and Ty, at one point getting through one of those last ones. It was a melee, a lot of torn up equipment. Just happy we could get out of it. Happy for Ryan to get his first win, knowing the feeling after last year (when he got his first win at Mid-Ohio) of finally getting one off your back.”

Chase Elliott’s XFINITY Series title defense got off to a rocky start. Elliott was an innocent victim of a 13-car wreck on Lap 93 but continued after repairs. The coup de grace for the driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevy came on Lap 112, when he was sidelined in the same wreck that injured Busch.

The DNF (did not finish) was Elliott’s first in 34 XFINITY Series starts.

Darrell Wallace Jr. and Elliott Sadler finished 12th and 19th, respectively, in their first events for Roush Fenway Racing.

NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – Alert Today Florida 300

1. (8) Ryan Reed, Ford, 120, $128770.
2. (10) Chris Buescher, Ford, 120, $101035.
3. (34) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 120, $82710.
4. (1) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 120, $74735.
5. (14) Brad Keselowski(i), Ford, 120, $64245.
6. (18) David Starr, Toyota, 120, $67520.
7. (5) Aric Almirola(i), Ford, 120, $57820.
8. (27) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 120, $57745.
9. (21) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 120, $61495.
10. (40) Dale Earnhardt Jr.(i), Chevrolet, 119, $55445.
11. (7) Dakoda Armstrong, Ford, 119, $59445.
12. (28) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Ford, 119, $59070.
13. (31) Mike Wallace(i), Toyota, 119, $52595.
14. (23) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 118, $58270.
15. (37) Mario Gosselin, Chevrolet, 118, $58570.
16. (13) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 118, $57670.
17. (25) Eric McClure, Toyota, 116, $57420.
18. (6) Erik Jones(i), Toyota, 116, $57295.
19. (11) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 116, $57145.
20. (38) Blake Koch, Toyota, 115, $57520.
21. (20) Chris Cockrum, Chevrolet, 115, $56895.
22. (33) Derek White, Dodge, 115, $56765.
23. (24) Josh Reaume #, Chevrolet, 115, $50590.
24. (19) Mike Harmon, Dodge, 114, $56465.
25. (15) Brian Scott, Chevrolet, Accident, 112, $56465.
26. (32) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, Accident, 111, $52690.
27. (9) JJ Yeley, Toyota, Accident, 111, $56090.
28. (35) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, Accident, 111, $56990.
29. (4) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, Accident, 110, $55990.
30. (17) Cale Conley #, Toyota, Accident, 110, $56065.
31. (39) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 108, $55590.
32. (26) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 107, $55495.
33. (29) John Wes Townley(i), Chevrolet, 106, $55445.
34. (2) Justin Marks, Toyota, Accident, 93, $55640.
35. (12) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, Accident, 93, $55224.
36. (3) Chad Boat(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 92, $45650.
37. (22) Scott Lagasse Jr., Toyota, Accident, 92, $50500.
38. (16) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, Accident, 92, $49500.
39. (36) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, Accident, 91, $48500.
40. (30) Dexter Bean, Chevrolet, Fuel Pump, 5, $41500.

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Denny Hamlin Gets an Unexpected Boost with Pole Run at Phoenix

By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service (AVONDALE, Ariz.) — Needing an 11th-place finish or better in Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 to secure one of four positions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ title race, Denny Hamlin took a giant step toward that goal with a pole-winning effort on Friday at Phoenix International Raceway.

Hamlin covered the one-mile distance in 25.332 seconds (142.113 mph) to win his third Coors Light pole award of the season, his second at Phoenix and the 20th of his career. The driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota edged fellow Chase driver Brad Keselowski (142.079 mph) by .006 seconds for the top starting spot in the final race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup’s Eliminator Round (on ESPN at 3 p.m. ET).

With Kevin Harvick third at 141.995 mph, Joey Logano fourth and Matt Kenseth fifth (both at 141.794 mph) and Jeff Gordon sixth at 141.665 mph, Chase drivers claimed six of the top seven spots on the grid. The only interloper was Kyle Busch, who will start sixth after posting a lap at 141.771 mph.

With one of the best pit crews in the Sprint Cup garage, Hamlin will choose pit stall No. 1, closest to the exit from pit road and a considerable advantage at Phoenix. But even with the top starting spot and the best pit box, Hamlin doesn’t think he’ll be able to coast to the final race.

“I think the competition is just too close and tight to think that you’re just going to coast to an 11th-place finish,” Hamlin said. “Nowadays, the difference between 11th and third and 20th is not that much, so you’ve got to go all-out on every single lap and fight for every position on restarts.

“So, really, from my standpoint, there is no backing into this thing and coasting our way to Homestead. We have to go out there and perform at a high level, or else we’re not going to make it. There are too many cars that are too good for us to think that we’re just going to ride around and take our spot.”

Harvick, who was fastest in Friday’s opening practice, said he didn’t “connect the dots” in either round of knockout qualifying. Nevertheless, the consensus in the garage is that Harvick, who has won three of the last four Phoenix races, has the fastest car in race trim.

“I just didn’t hit everything on both laps,” Harvick said. “I got up the race track a little bit the first lap in Turn 1, and on the second lap, I got up the track at Turns 3 and 4. So I just missed it by a little bit, but our Budweiser Chevrolet is really good in race trim and (I’m) really looking forward to the race.

“We have to keep tweaking on it tomorrow and know we qualified 13th here the first time and drove to the lead. We have to keep doing what we’re doing, and we’ll be fine.”

Keselowski and Harvick, who are seventh and eighth in the Chase standings know that a victory at Phoenix is their surest path to the season finale. Keselowski, who had to win at Talladega to advance to the Eliminator Round, spelled it out.

“Technically, I don’t have to win this race, but the probabilities are that I do,” he explained. “I think it will be very hard to pass three cars in points. I think I’m within five on all three, but that means if you didn’t win, you’d have to beat at least three cars by five spots on the track—and these are good guys. These are good drivers and good teams.

“There’s a reason why they’re this far in the Chase, and to beat all three of those by five spots, that’s a tough task for anyone to really feel good about. But you know if you win, you’re in, and that’s the great thing about this system and we have a great shot at it, for sure.”

Chase driver Carl Edwards was 25th fastest in opening practice but improved to 13th in time trials.

“I hate to admit it, but I’m very happy with 13th,” Edwards said. “We were about a 25th-place car in practice, and I was nervous about this and it went well, so that’s good. I’m telling you, we’re within striking distance.

“We’re better than we qualified in the spring, and now we work on race trim. We’re always better in the race here than we are in qualifying, so we’ll just go focus on it and keep digging.”

Ryan Newman, who needs a ninth-place finish to advance to Homestead with title eligibility, qualified 20th, deepest in the field of the Chase drivers. Clay Rogers failed to make the 43-car field. The starting line-up can be viewed below.

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

 

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Busch Wins Nationwide Race at Texas to Set Up Weekend Sweep

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) FORT WORTH, Tex.—Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage may need a broom as well as a pair of six-guns in Victory Lane on Sunday, after Kyle Busch completed the second leg of a possible sweep by winning Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.

In winning his seventh NASCAR Nationwide Series race of the season, his seventh in 18 starts at Texas, the 70th of his career and the 100th NNS event for Joe Gibbs Racing, Busch led 116 of 200 laps in completing the second leg of a possible weekend sweep at the 1.5-mile speedway.

On Friday night, Busch took the checkered flag in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and on Sunday he’ll try to record the second weekend trifecta of his career in the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race (3 p.m. ET on ESPN), the second event in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Busch beat polesitter Joey Logano to the finish line by 1.561 seconds in the 300-mile event. Logano could keep up with Busch in the short runs but began to lose ground as each fuel run progressed.

The combination of Busch’s long-run car and his migration to the high line at the high-banked speedway was too much for Logano to overcome. Busch saw his own Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Darrell Wallace Jr. run the top successfully in the Truck race on Friday and took the lesson to heart.

“That was just something we found today—actually (Friday) night a little, to be honest with you,” Busch said. “Bubba Wallace went up there and he was really fast as well, too, up there. I took a little bit from that and also what I learned in that race as well.

“I never got as high as Bubba did, but I got somewhat up there. Just put that to today and was able to use it to our advantage. It felt really good to run up there and be fast like that and have good speed. Hopefully, some of that comes in (on Sunday).

Busch will be trying to duplicate the feat he accomplished in August 2010 at Bristol, where he won races in Trucks, Nationwide and Cup.

“The opportunity for that tomorrow would be something special,” Busch said. “I’d cherish it as much as the first one… You don’t’ get very many opportunities to capitalize on all three.”

Ryan Blaney, Logano’s Team Penske teammate, finished third, followed by series leader Chase Elliott, who extended his margin in the standings to 48 points over 11th-place finisher Regan Smith. If he maintains that advantage after next Saturday’s race at Phoenix, Elliott will clinch the series championship in the next-to-last race of his rookie season.

Matt Kenseth came home fifth, with Brian Scott, Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick behind him. Elliott Sadler got credit for a ninth-place finish after turning his No. 11 Toyota over to relief driver Clint Bowyer under caution on Lap 9.

Bowyer had qualified the car, but Sadler started the race despite suffering from a severe bout of intestinal flu and accompanying nausea that had sidelined him for time trials.

With all the back-and-forth between Busch’s No. 54 Toyota and Logano’s No. 22 Ford, Logano was hoping for a late-race caution to set up a short run, but the race stayed green for the final 63 laps.

“Kyle and I had a heck of a race, that’s for sure,” Logano said. “We were able to catch up to him and pass him, but then after about 20 laps or so, it was like a light switch.

“The car would just switch to loose, and he would go by me and drive away. That’s what ultimately beat us, having a long run like that at the end.”

Hard luck continued to haunt Trevor Bayne, who had passed Logano for the lead on Lap 34, only to slam the Turn 2 wall 15 laps later.

As Bayne was rolling through the center of Turns 1 and 2, he cut to the inside to pass a lapped car. At that instant, the car apparently hit a piece of debris on the track, deflating the right front tire and sending Bayne’s No. 6 Ford rocketing into the outside wall.

The car burst into flames and continued through Turn 2 trailing a plume of fire behind it. Bayne escaped the inferno unhurt, but the car—one of his best of the year—was destroyed.

“It is never good to pop a right front tire, or whatever we did there,” Bayne said after leaving the infield care center. “Whether it was a line or tire—I think it was a tire—it’s never a good time, but especially not when you have the best car you have ever had in your career. That thing was on a rail. I have never had a car so dominant, especially at the Nationwide level.

“It was easy today for the time we were on the race track. The first couple laps I was really loose and needed a small adjustment, but, man, I think we had a great shot to win this race today. My guys have worked so hard all season long and they deserve a win and some cowboy hats here. I don’t even know what to say about it. It just blows your mind that something like that can happen on such a great day.”

1. Kyle Busch
2. Joey Logano
3. Ryan Blaney
4. Chase Elliott
5. Matt Kenseth
6. Brian Scott
7. Austin Dillon
8. Kevin Harvick
9. Elliott Sadler
10. Dakoda Armstrong
11. Regan Smith
12. Kyle Larson
13. Chris Buescher
14. Dylan Kwasniewski
15. Ty Dillon
16. Brendan Gaughan
17. Ryan Reed
18. Mike Bliss
19. Landon Cassill
20. JJ Yeley
21. Jeremy Clements
22. Kevin Swindell
23. John Wes Townley
24. James Buescher
25. David Starr
26. Eric McClure
27. Tanner Berryhill
28. Chad Boat
29. Robert Richardson Jr.
30. Jamie Dick
31. Matt DiBenedetto
32. Corey LaJoie
33. Ryan Sieg
34. Jeffrey Earnhardt
35. Martin Roy
36. Trevor Bayne
37. Joey Gase
38. Carlos Contreras
39. Blake Koch
40. Ryan Ellis

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Kyle Larson Outruns Veterans for Nationwide Win at Charlotte

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jimmie Johnson Wins Pole for Coca-Cola 600

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NASCAR Cup Series

McMurray Snatches Victory from Edwards, Harvick in Sprint All-Star Race

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) CONCORD, N.C. — Streaking away from an intense battle with polesitter Carl Edwards to open the final 10-lap segment Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Jamie McMurray won the Sprint All-Star Race—and the million-dollar-plus prize that goes with the victory—for the first time in his career.

McMurray held off fast-closing Kevin Harvick, who crossed the finish line .696 seconds behind the race winner.

Matt Kenseth ran third, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Edwards and four-time Sprint All-Star Race winner Jimmie Johnson.

Earlier in the day, McMurray’s son carter had asked the driver what his plans for the day were.

“He asked me what I was going to do today, so I asked him what he was going to do today,” said McMurray, who has tallied two of his seven Sprint Cup victories in points races at Charlotte. “And he said, ‘Oh, I’m going to play in my sandbox. What are you going to do, Dad?’

“I said, ‘I’m going to race for a million bucks, Carter.’ It’s so cool that we were actually able to win.”

The advantage McMurray opened after his breathtaking three-lap battle against Edwards gave him enough margin to hold off Harvick, who was closing fast in the final laps.

“It was three or four of the hardest laps I’ve ever driven in my racing career,” McMurray said.

It was first-year crew chief Keith Rodden’s strategy, however, that put McMurray in position to win. After a pit stop on Lap 26, McMurray didn’t take four tires again until the break between the final two segments, and on that final stop, superb work by his crew got him off pit road second and in a position to challenge Edwards for the lead.

“Keith Rodden made some great calls tonight,” said team owner Chip Ganassi, a Sprint All-Star Race winner for the first time. “The call was really made in segment 2 (the Lap 26 stop for tires) for him to be able to win the race.”

That call enabled McMurray to get by with two tires or to stay out between segments until the final stop.

“Keith did an unbelievable job,” McMurray said. “He was a huge secret in the garage (as an engineer at Hendrick Motorsports), and I’m so glad that I get the opportunity to work with him. We’ve had good cars all year long. We had some bad luck.

“But this is one of those races that makes up for a lot of bad times.”

But before McMurray took the checkered flag, fans at the 1.5-mile track saw an action-packed race with a multitude of twists and turns.

Halfway through the first 20-lap segment, Kyle Busch passed pole winner Carl Edwards for the lead and held it until the first scheduled caution, but that was the end of the highlights for the driver of the No. 18 Toyota.

Six laps into the second segment, Busch tapped the rear bumper of Clint Bowyer’s Camry after Bowyer blocked Busch’s moved to the inside. Busch took evasive action, diving toward the apron, when Bowyer’s car got out of shape, but Bowyer’s Toyota clipped Busch’s and the No. 18 spun.

Joey Logano couldn’t avoid Busch and plowed into the spinning car, knocking both machines out of the race.

“We had a good run through (Turns) 1 and 2 and off (Turn) 2,” Busch explained after the accident. “Kurt (Busch) got real bottled up on the outside and slowed down, so I  knew I was clear to go to the bottom and swoop down and try to get underneath Bowyer.

“And when I did, he blocked me, and I hit him, and he got squirrely, and then I was still under him, and it hit me and turned me around the wrong way on the backstretch and got in the outside wall.”

After the subsequent restart on Lap 31, AJ Allmendinger’s Chevrolet nosed into the inside wall on the backstretch after contact with Brian Vickers’ Toyota.

Kasey Kahne grabbed the lead for the first time on Lap 35 and pulled away to win the second segment. With four cars staying out between segments and two more changing just two tires, Kahne started eighth for segment No. 3, but on Lap 47 he passed Jamie McMurray (who had not changed tires) for the top spot.

By the time the third segment ended, Kahne was a comfortable 1.411 seconds ahead, with Harvick giving chase.

On the opening lap of the fourth segment, a mechanical failure in Jeff Gordon’s car sent the No. 24 Chevy into the outside wall in Turn 3, collecting the Chevrolet of Martin Truex Jr. and the Ford of Greg Biffle.

Kahne had two brushes with the wall in segment No. 4, ending his strong run with the sort of disappointment that has plagued him in points races all season long.

With the best average finish in the first four segments, Harvick entered pit road first for a mandatory four-time stop before the final 10-lap dash. McMurray, who made a huge track position gain by staying out between the third and fourth segments, was second onto pit road, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Edwards.

But Edwards used the No. 1 pit stall to advantage, winning the race off pit road over McMurray and Harvick. Matt Kenseth started the final segment in the fourth spot, with Johnson and Earnhardt behind him in fifth and sixth.

Edwards, however, couldn’t keep McMurray behind him, and after watching replays of the battle, the driver of the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford was already second-guessing himself.

“Jamie just did a perfect job on the start,” Edwards said. “I had him cleared for a minute. If I would have pulled in front of him in Turn 1, if I would have gone high, I think we would have won that race, but I was just so reluctant to give up the bottom.

“Jamie just did a perfect job. He ended up sweeping around the outside of me, dragging me down, and it was a drag race. My hat is off to him. He did a great job.  He earned it. I drove as hard as I could while he was on the outside and he gave me just the right amount of room to not wreck me, but still beat me. If I had it to do over again, I’d do it differently but that’s racing. You’ve just got to make the best decision you can and move on. It’s a really tough one, though.

Though Edwards and McMurray inched ahead of each other at various junctures after then final restart, McMurray led at the finish line for each of the final 10 laps. Once he cleared Edwards three laps into the run, McMurray pulled away.

Note: The 31 laps McMurray led Saturday night were the first he had ever led in the All-Star Race.

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NASCAR Cup Series

Carl Edwards Puts Down Blistering Run to Win Charlotte Pole

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) CONCORD, N.C.— Carl Edwards is living proof the Roush Fenway Racing team is making inroads on the intermediate speedways after a sluggish start to the season on RFR’s bread-and-butter tracks.

Edwards reeled off three lightning-quick laps, and his No. 99 Ford team contributed a flawless pit stop, as Edwards streaked to the pole position for Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ million-dollar dash for cash.

Edwards’ average speed for the three laps and the stop was 146.915 mph, significantly faster than anyone else in the 22-car field was able to manage.

With pit road speeds waived for Saturday evening’s time trials, Edwards had planned a relatively conservative entry, but as he approached pit road, he decided to throw caution to the wind.

“I had a plan to get to pit road, and I then I threw it completely out the window,” said Edwards, who rocketed toward his pit stall but slowed the car in time to stop in the box. “I came onto pit road what I thought was entirely too fast. I thought I was going to run out in the grass.

“Fortunately, I got it all slowed down. The guys had a great pit stop. This is fun. I think I’m still shaking a little bit—it’s so intense.”

Busch wasn’t completely pleased with any aspect of his qualifying effort for Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race, even though the cumulative effect was a front-row starting spot for the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

“I left a little bit out there everywhere,” Busch said after Saturday evening’s qualifying effort, and he was right.

Busch wasn’t fastest getting on or off pit road during the three-lap run. His crew had a little trouble with the left rear during the mandatory four-tire pit stop during the second lap.

The net effect was a total time of 111.118 seconds (145.791 mph), nearly a full second slower than the 110.268 seconds posted by Edwards.

Kevin Harvick qualified third, followed by the four Hendrick Motorsports cars of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne.

Josh Wise, winner of the Sprint Fan Vote on Friday, qualified 19th.

Categories
News

Kyle Busch Takes Fourth Consecutive Truck Series Win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Joey Logano Cements Chase Spot with Hard-Fought Win at Richmond

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) RICHMOND, Va.— Joey Logano was penciled into a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Now you can write his name in indelible ink.

Capitalizing on beating and banging among competitors in front of him during the final nine-lap run, Logano surged from the fifth starting spot on the final restart to his second victory of the season in Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Logano’s victory was his first at Richmond and the fifth of his career. Jeff Gordon came home second and retained the series lead by five points over Matt Kenseth, who ran fifth after tangling with fourth-place finisher Brad Keselowski while battling for the win in the closing laps .

On fresh tires after a late pit stop, Kyle Busch drove from 16th to third in the final run.

It was a race that had everything, from a spin by polesitter Kyle Larson in the first corner of the first lap (after contact from Clint Bowyer’s Toyota), to right-side tires that corded under stress and turned the wheels into flame throwers, to fiery tempers that continued after the checkered flag.

Keselowski and Kenseth swapped sheet metal and exchanged pleasantries on the cool-down lap. Casey nineteenth-place finisher Casey Mears shoved 18th-place Marcos Ambrose after the race—a carryover from a late racing incident—and in return took a right hook that wobbled him.

Logano, on the other hand, could barely contain his elation as he climbed from his car in Victory Lane.

“I had a terrible restart the one before the last one (on Lap 382), and then we had a good one (on the final restart on lap 392), but the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) in front of me didn’t have the best, and once we started racing there were three cars in front of me and I thought I had a shot still,” Logano said. “The 20 (Kenseth) started blocking the top because the 2 car (Keselowski) was so fast up top for the first 10 laps of a run, and eventually I had enough room to turn up underneath him and get enough clean air on the car to take off.

“This isn’t a very good race track for me in the past, but we had a really good Shell Pennzoil Ford today, and we were able to put it in Victory Lane. This is so cool to win two races already this season, and it’s just going to be one heck of a season, and I can’t wait to get to the race track next week.”

Earnhardt, who finished seventh after experiencing late brake problems, won a race off pit road under caution for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s fiery right front tire and led the field to green on Lap 305. One lap later, however, Logano passed Earnhardt for the top spot and pulled out to a lead of more than a half-second, with Penske teammate Keselowski in tow.

But Gordon won a drag race against Keselowski through Turns 3 and 4 to grab the second spot on Lap 332. Six laps later, Gordon passed Logano for the lead as the No. 22 Ford began to fade.

During that green-flag run, however, Kenseth began to assert himself, driving from sixth on the Lap 305 restart to the lead on Lap 362. Five laps after Kenseth wrested the top spot from Gordon, Jimmie Johnson’s tire issue in Turn 2 caused seventh caution and brought the field to pit road for fresh rubber.

Kenseth was first out of the pits for a restart on Lap 367, but on the restart lap, Denny Hamlin spun in Turn 3 to bring out caution No. 8. After two more cautions, Logano came from fifth to first after the final restart to win the race.

After the checkered flag, Keselowski was quick to express his displeasure with Kenseth.

“The 20 car ran me off the race track, so I made sure to give him a bump, and that was what Joey needed to win the race,” Keselowski said. “I’m happy for his team and everybody at Team Penske. I wish it could have been us, but that was the way it goes.”

For his part, Kenseth made no apologies for trying to win the race.

“He was mad because I ran into him a little bit getting into (Turn) 3, but we’re going for the win,” Kenseth said. “I ran him up to the third groove or so, but I’ve witnessed him racing that way a lot, like I think he did to Jimmie (Johnson) at Texas a few years ago.

“I thought once we got to the straightaway I left him enough room, unless I wasn’t clear—I need to re-watch it. I guess he’s upset about that, and we were all going for the win. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing.”

Notes: AJ Allmendinger posted a season-best sixth-place finish… Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition, said the sanctioning body would review the Mears/Ambrose incident during the week but indicated he didn’t think it was anything “too severe.”

              1. (17) Joey Logano, Ford, 400, $274081.

             2. (25) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 400, $220211.

               3. (19) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 400, $187666.

               4. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 400, $162258.

               5. (12) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 400, $159261.

               6. (14) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 400, $122448.

               7. (13) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 400, $104065.

               8. (18) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 400, $98890.

               9. (16) Carl Edwards, Ford, 400, $104165.

               10. (22) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 400, $116173.

               11. (5) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 400, $126548.

               12. (6) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 400, $118740.

               13. (7) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 400, $118504.

               14. (4) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 400, $99565.

               15. (26) Greg Biffle, Ford, 400, $125565.

               16. (1) Kyle Larson #, Chevrolet, 400, $122085.

               17. (15) Aric Almirola, Ford, 400, $119201.

               18. (11) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 400, $108335.

               19. (34) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 400, $105823.

               20. (33) David Gilliland, Ford, 400, $104798.

               21. (31) Justin Allgaier #, Chevrolet, 400, $100823.

               22. (28) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400, $88890.

               23. (21) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 400, $77190.

               24. (9) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 400, $107654.

               25. (20) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 399, $114948.

               26. (43) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 398, $76765.

               27. (27) Austin Dillon #, Chevrolet, 398, $125351.

               28. (24) Alex Bowman #, Toyota, 398, $89237.

               29. (30) David Reutimann, Ford, 397, $79465.

               30. (37) David Ragan, Ford, 396, $88690.

               31. (8) Ryan Truex #, Toyota, 396, $79065.

               32. (10) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 396, $129851.

               33. (23) Michael Annett #, Chevrolet, 396, $78290.

               34. (35) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 395, $83665.

               35. (38) David Stremme, Chevrolet, 395, $75465.

               36. (32) Travis Kvapil, Ford, 394, $75285.

               37. (41) Joe Nemechek(i), Toyota, 391, $83146.

               38. (29) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 390, $106005.

               39. (39) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 390, $66180.

               40. (42) JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, Engine, 380, $62180.

               41. (40) Cole Whitt #, Toyota, 367, $58180.

               42. (36) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Electrical, 225, $54180.

               43. (3) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, Suspension, 159, $91071.

Categories
Uncategorized XFINITY

Harvick Dominates in Seventh Nationwide Series Win at Richmond

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) RICHMOND, Va. –  As soon as Kevin Harvick took the lead in Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway, it was over.

Harvick passed polesitter Brian Scott for the top spot on Lap 48 of 250 and led all but one lap thereafter in cruising to a dominant victory over JR Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, who fell one position short in his bid to win three straight races.

In an event that was delayed more than three hours by rain, Harvick led 202 laps in posting his series-best seventh win at Richmond, his first of the season and the 41st of his career.

Kyle Busch ran third, followed by Kyle Larson and Scott. Elliott extended his series lead to 19 points of over Regan Smith, who finished eighth.

 

The victory was the fourth in eight NNS races for JR Motorsports and the first 1-2 finish for the organization. Harvick credited his teammate for pushing him.

“Honestly, Chase is a good kid, and he knows how to drive a race car,” Harvick said. “He pushes us to be better by trying different things (from what we’ve been doing) through the years. The groove getting into in Turn 1—I had to change my groove tonight and change my car because it was different.

“He’s as good as they get and a lot of fun to be around.”

Elliott, however, chided himself for not giving Harvick more of a battle after a restart on Lap 204.

“We were just a little tight right in the middle of the corner,” Elliott said. “I think he just outdrove me a little bit. Honestly, I felt like some of it was me. I just let him get a little too far out in front of me there on the first few laps.

“I’ve just got to get up on the wheel a little harder the next time we’re in that situation.”

During a green-flag run that lasted 104 laps after a competition caution called on Lap 41, Harvick built a lead of more than eight seconds, and advantage that was reduced to slightly more than four seconds after a long cycle of green-flag pit stops.

A caution on Lap 151 for debris in Turn 4, however, reset the field and gave all lead-lap cars (15 at the time) to come to pit road for tires and fuel. First out of the pit after the stops, Harvick led the field to green on Lap 162 with Elliott second and Scott third.

Harvick pulled away after the restart, with Elliott in close pursuit, and those two drivers ran less than a half-second apart until contact from Ryan Reed’s Ford sent Dylan Kwasniewski’s Chevrolet into the Turn 4 wall to bring out the fourth caution of the night.

Harvick and Elliott were 1-2 off pit road for a restart on Lap 197, and though another quick caution on the restart lap—when Regan Smith tangled with Elliott Sadler in Turn 2—slowed the field for the fifth time, Harvick was just as dominant after a restart on Lap 204.

Gradually, Harvick pulled away from his teammate during the final 47-lap green-flag run and arrived at the finish line 2.069 seconds ahead of Elliott.