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Kyle Larson Sitting Above Playoff Cut Line Going Into Watkins Glen



Watkins Glen, NY – (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson sits in 14th place in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings going into this weekend’s Go Bowling At The Glen at Watkins Glen International Raceway.

Larson is 25-points ahead of 16th place Ryan Newman, who is tied with Clint Bowyer with 532-points.  Larson has 557-points and is 267-points behind leader Joey Logano.

Newman has never won a NASCAR Cup Series road course race and is 0-for-17 at “The Glen”.  He was three top-10 finishes including a career-best runner-up in 2002.  Newman’s last top-10 on a road course was eighth in 2006.  He was 19th last year.

Larson’s teammate Kurt Busch sits in seventh place, 174-points behind Logano and is locked into the playoffs based on his win at Kentucky Speedway.  Busch sits in seventh place in the playoff standings, one spot ahead of Chase Elliott, the defending race-winner.

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The top 16 in points qualify for the NASCAR playoffs.  Sitting outside the cutoff going into this weekend are seven-time Champion Jimmie Johnson, who is 12-points behind Newman and Bowyer for the last qualifying spot.

Also outside the top 16 is Stewart Haas Racing’s Daniel Suarez, who is 31-points behind the final playoff spot.

Paul Menard and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sit in 19thand 20thplace respectively and need a win at this point to qualify.

Five races remain in NASCAR’s regular season with Michigan International Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Darlington Raceway and the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway following this weekend’s race at Watkins Glen.

The Go Bowling At The Glen takes place at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 4thand will be televised by NBCSN and can be heard on Motor Racing Network affiliates and on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.


Austin Hill saves enough fuel to win second straight NASCAR Xfinity race



Photo by Todd Kirkland - Getty Images

Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

HAMPTON, Ga. — Sunoco rookie Jesse Love led almost all the laps, but in the end, it was his Richard Childress Racing teammate, Austin Hill, who had Saturday’s RAPTOR King of Tough 250 fall into his lap.

For Hill, who won last week’s NASCAR Xfinity Series season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, it was the continuation of a serendipitous start to 2024. Hill is the first driver since Tony Stewart in 2008 to win the first two events of an Xfinity season.

The victory was Hill’s third in the last four races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the eighth of his career.

But victory for the driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet came at the expense of Love, who started from the pole, swept the first two stages and led 157 of 169 laps. Love ran out of fuel at the start of a two-lap overtime, as Hill grabbed the lead for the first time and held off eventual runner-up Chandler Smith by 0.106 seconds.

The bottom line? Running behind the leaders in a single-file line, Hill was able to save more fuel than his teammate at the front of the pack. Hill had enough in his tank to stave off Smith who had pitted for fuel under caution on Lap 164.

“I was really thinking we were down and out,” Hill said. “I was thinking the 2 (Love) was going to go get ‘em, and hey, if I can’t win, let my teammate win. We were riding there in fourth or fifth—whatever it was—I was saving fuel…”

On the overtime restart on Lap 168, Hill’s car stumbled when he shifted from third to fourth gear.

“The 81 (Smith) hit me really hard, and that woke it back up, and I had enough fuel to complete the lap. But I’ve got to take this moment to congratulate, Jesse Love, my teammate. He ran an awesome race. To be a rookie and to lead that many laps, he should be sitting in Victory Lane right now.”

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The coup de grace for Love came when the Ford of Ryan Sieg ran out of fuel on Lap 161 of a scheduled 163 and stopped on the track in Turn 4. The caution extended the race by six laps and allowed a dozen cars to pit before the overtime restart.

Among those who took advantage of the fuel stop was New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen, who finished third in his second Xfinity Series start.

“It’s almost comical,” Love said. “Man, I’m just so damn proud of everybody on this Whelen car. It just wasn’t meant to be. Obviously, as a Christian, I’m not going to allow myself to question why we were under caution so long or what happened.

“I always try to take responsibility for everything, so I as a driver I should have saved more fuel. Man, I just didn’t want anybody to catch me off-guard. I thought I saved a ton. Man, that overtime or that caution just lasted forever.

“No matter what, I’m really proud of our guys. We had a great showing. Led a lot of laps man. It just wasn’t in store for us today.”

Van Gisbergen was delighted to be on the other side of the fuel equation.

“Pretty awesome,” he said. “Great job by (crew chief) Bruce (Schlicker) on the box there to pit us. I had so much fun. Just learning about it and running in the pack. Yeah, to be P3 in the second race in the WeatherTech Chevy is pretty awesome. I’m stoked.

“It’s just good to get a result and have a clean car, especially after last week (at Daytona) when I got involved in so much stuff. So, to have a clean race, not make too many mistakes, and complete every lap, we learned a lot. It was awesome.”

Riley Herbst, Love’s foremost challenger over the closing laps was among the first to run out of fuel—from the second position on Lap 160. Cole Custer hit empty almost simultaneously, then Sieg, causing the fateful caution.

The gas shortage throughout the field scrambled the finishing order, leaving Sheldon Creed fourth and Parker Retzlaff fifth. Jeremy Clements, Anthony Alfredo, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Ryan Truex and Sammy Smith completed the top 10.

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Kyle Busch continues Truck Series mastery with win at Atlanta



Photo by Todd Kirkland - Getty Images

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

HAMPTON, Ga. — When Kyle Busch sold his NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series team to Spire Motorsports, he didn’t surrender his prowess behind the wheel.

Driving the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet in his first start of 2024, Busch inherited the lead from Grant Enfinger on Lap 129 of 135 and held off Ty Majeski and Corey Heim over the final five laps to win his seventh race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the 65th of his career, extending his own series record.

Enfinger was out front for 21 consecutive laps before one of his tires began losing pressure, forcing him to the pits after Busch, Majeski, Heim, Taylor Gray and Nick Sanchez, last week’s winner at Daytona, sped past.

Busch crossed the finish line 0.187 seconds ahead of Majeski, who edged Heim for the runner-up position by 0.009 seconds. Gray and Sanchez came home fourth and fifth, respectively.

“I actually got a run on the 9 truck (Enfinger) down the backstretch,” Busch said of the pass for the win. “He must have been going flat down the backstretch and slowing down because it gave me—it sucked me up right to him. Then he got loose in the corner. I got loose in the corner. We all checked up trying not to crash.

“Thankfully, we didn’t. I thought that was a big moment. But then we got the lead right there, and after that, it was about trying to protect it. Majeski was a bit of a wing man today. Appreciate him—and the history we’ve had together growing up racing late models with him a lot in Wisconsin and around those parts.

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“That was a lot of fun. Great to get Chevrolet to Victory Lane.”

The race was the first of five events Busch will run for Spire Motorsports this year, after selling Kyle Busch Motorsports to the organization late in the 2023 season. Busch now has 230 victories across all three of NASCAR’s national series (63 NASCAR Cup, 102 Xfinity and 65 CRAFTSMAN Truck).

Coming through the final corner Busch effectively blocked Majeski’s only potential path to victory.

“I had a run, and I got to Kyle’s bumper,” Majeski said. “I knew he was going to cover the bottom. My only shot was to try and fade right, get to his quarter panel. That was the only shot that I had.

“Overall, super proud of the day. The truck was a little ill-handling in the beginning. (Crew chief) Joe Shear made some great calls, tightened me up a little bit so we could go racing.”

Tyler Ankrum led a race-high 46 laps but got shuffled back in the bottom lane after Enfinger passed him for the top spot in Lap 108. Busch, who won Stage 2, was out front for 33 laps and Enfinger 23. Ankrum finished seventh behind Kaden Honeycutt in sixth.

Christian Eckes led 20 laps and won the first stage but suffered brake issues that prevented him from stopping in his pit box during the Stage 1 break. Eckes retired after 50 laps in 33rd place.

There were 20 lead changes among seven drivers and seven cautions for 37 laps.

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William Byron wins DAYTONA 500



Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, FL — William Byron gave team owner Rick Hendrick something extra to celebrate in the 40th anniversary year of Hendrick Motorsports.

In a frantic scramble after a restart on Lap 197 of 200 in the DAYTONA 500, Byron reached the finish line and took the white flag moments before NASCAR called the fifth caution of the evening as Ross Chastain slid wildly through the infield grass off the bumper of Austin Cindric’s Ford.

Alex Bowman was a close second to his teammate at the moment of caution, giving Hendrick a 1-2 finish and the organization’s first victory in the Great American Race since Jimmie Johnson beat teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the stripe in 2014.

The victory was Hendrick’s ninth in the DAYTONA 500, tying the company with Petty Enterprises for most in the history of the NASCAR Cup Series most prestigious event. The race was postponed from Sunday to Monday because of heavy rains during the weekend.

“I’m just a kid from racing on computers and winning the Daytona 500,” said the 26-year-old Byron, who picked up the 11th victory of his career and his second at Daytona, the first coming in the 2020 summer race at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

“I can’t believe it. I wish my dad was here. He’s sick, but this is for him, man. We’ve been through so much, and we sat up in the grandstands together and watched the race (when Byron was younger). This is so freaking cool.”

Hendrick could barely contain his elation in Victory Lane.

“I’m telling you, you couldn’t write the script any better,” he said. “When we thought about coming down here the first time, we didn’t think we should be here, felt so out of place.

“We win this on our 40th to the day, it’s just… and tied a record now, so that’s awesome.”

Before the final restart, Chastain was racing at the front of the field on Lap 192 when a bump from Alex Bowman got Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron out of shape and knocked Byron into the right rear of Brad Keselowski’s Ford.

Keselowski turned up the track into the Ford of Joey Logano, who had led a race-high 45 laps to that point. Reigning series champion Ryan Blaney’s Ford was among the 23 cars involved in the accident that left string of mangled vehicles strewn along the backstretch.

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The wreck knocked Blaney, Keselowski and Logano out of the race, along with Tyler Reddick, defending race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Daniel Suarez and Todd Gilliland. NASCAR red-flagged the race for 15 minutes 27 seconds for track clean-up.

“Speedway racing again,” Logano said ruefully. “It’s a lot of fun until this happens. It was pretty interesting with a lot of pushing and shoving there at the end. Our car was able to take it. Our Mustang was so fast. It could lead a line really well. I kind of thought I had the cars I wanted around me. I had at least one I wanted around me, but just couldn’t make it work.”

“Obviously, hate what happened on that backstretch,” Byron said of the accident. “I just got pushed and got sideways. But so proud of this team, whole AXALTA team, 40th anniversary to the day, on Monday.

“Just extremely blessed and thankful for all the opportunities, and we just want to keep it going. We have a lot to prove this year, and this is a good start, obviously.”

How much Byron has yet to prove is debatable. He won a series-best six races last year, qualified for the Championship 4 and finished third in the final standings.

The race was not quite five laps old when an eight-car accident off Turn 4 started the inevitable attrition. Contact from Keselowski’s Ford in a tightly bunched line of the outside knocked the Toyota of John Hunter Nemechek into the center lane and into the side of Harrison Burton’s Ford.

Burton slid toward the infield, collecting the Chevrolet of Sunoco rookie Carson Hocevar. Burton’s No. 21 Mustang shot up the track and slammed into the Ford of Kaz Grala and the Chevrolet of Austin Dillon. Behind Dillon, Hocevar careened into the path of seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson, who couldn’t avoid the collision.

The wreck eliminated the cars of Burton, Hocevar and Grala. Dillon took his No. 3 Chevy to the garage for extensive repairs, and Johnson lost two laps on pit road as his Legacy Motor Club crew worked frantically to repair his Camry.

“I don’t remember exactly who it was on my outside,” Burton said after a trip to the infield care center. “It just looked like they either got a bad push or got loose and just hit me in the right side and sent me across.

“The grass was so wet that once I got in the grass, I thought I’d be OK, but the car just kept going and going… so really sad that our day is over as quick as it was. We had a really fast Ford. It’s just a bummer. There’s nothing we can do but just move on and try to win next week.”

It took 187 more laps of racing before the colossal wreck that dwarfed the earlier incident thinned the field and set up the fight to the finish among the cars that survived.

In a race that featured 41 lead changes among 20 drivers, Christopher Bell ran third, followed by Corey LaJoie, Bubba Wallace and AJ Allmendinger. Chastain, who didn’t have quite enough room when he dived to the inside of Cindric on the penultimate lap, finished 21st, one spot ahead of Cindric.

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