BRISTOL, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch each earned top 10 finishes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night.
Larson finished 6th in the No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet after starting in 2nd place. Larson also won the races first stage.
Larson and eventual winner Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing battled early and often with Hamlin leading the first 14-laps after starting in the top spot. Larson took the lead on lap 15 and held it until lap 24 when Hamlin got around him.
Larson battled back retaking the lead on lap 39. Hamlin started working Bristol’s high line and passed Larson on lap 46. Hamlin remained out front until lap 84 when Larson passed him and led the next 45-laps, when he pitted for service after the Stage 1 win.
Larson’s 6th place finish has him currently in the 11th spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Points Standing, one point ahead of Hendrick Motorsports William Byron and ten points behind Hendrick’s Alex Bowman. Larson is the 2nd highest driver in the points standings without a victory.
Drivers with a victory are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. 9-Drivers have won races (Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman), leaving 7-spots for drivers in the top 16.
Another good Bristol for us. Had winning speed for sure. Wish it would have worked out a little better but still a good night. Ready for my “off week” in California racing 5 races in 4 days on the dirt!
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) August 18, 2019
Busch finished 9th in the No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet after starting in 4th place. Busch won the races second stage and finished 9th in Stage 1.
— Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) August 18, 2019
Busch currently sits in 8th place in the points standings, 16-points behind Elliott and 55-points ahead of Ryan Blaney, who does not have a victory. Busch’s win at Kentucky guarantees him a spot in the NASCAR Playoffs.
The Cup Series is off next week and returns September 1st at Darlington Raceway for the annual “throwback weekend”.
Racing Notebook – Ohio Racing Gets Red Flagged; New Series from Stewart and Evernham plus Weekend Winner Recap
PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Monday’s Pittsburgh Racing Now Notebook has details on new restrictions placed on events in Ohio plus Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham are teaming up to start a new series and we look back at the winners on track this past weekend.
New Restrictions On Events In Ohio:
- The Ohio Department of Health has mandated activities to be limited in the state of Ohio due to the continued COVID-19 pandemic. These restrictions are forcing Sharon Speedway to cancel this Saturday’s events, including the RUSH Late Model Series “Bill Forney Memorial”. Sharon Speedway plans on resuming their 2020 schedule of events when the restrictions are lifted.
Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham Starting New Series:
- NASCAR Hall of Famers Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham are teaming up to start a new racing series. The Sports Business Journal first reported the deal, which includes former NASCAR executive George Pyne and sports agent Sandy Montag. The Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) will feature six races on short tracks and will include top drivers from a variety of backgrounds. The SRX will be similar in scope the defunct IROC Series and is set to debut in 2021 and will be televised by CBS Sports.
Cole Custer Gets 1st Career Cup Win At Kentucky:
- Stewart Haas Racing’s Cole Custer picked up his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory Sunday at Kentucky Speedway winning a thrilling battle on the last lap with saw Custer four-wide with Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr and Ryan Blaney. Truex held on for second and Matt DiBenedetto finished third.
One of the wildest late-lap battles for the lead in recent memory! 🤩
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) July 12, 2020
Chip Ganassi Racing Sweeps Road America:
- NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist passed Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward with 2-laps remaining to win Race 2 of the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America to pick up his first career INDYCAR win. The victory was the fourth straight NTT INDYCAR SERIES win for Chip Ganassi Racing. Scott Dixon led the weekend sweep by parking the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda in Victory Lane after winning Race 1 on Saturday.
Larson and Conley Take Sharon Speedway wins:
- Sharon Speedway played host to the Ollies Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions this past weekend. Cale Conley picked up the victory in Saturday’s “Lou Blaney Memorial”. Kyle Larson took the victory in Sunday’s “Justin Snyder’s Salute To The Troops.“
Saturday Winners At Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway:
- Chas Wolbert picked up his second straight win taking the RUSH Sportsman Modified 15-lap main event. Keith Barbara picked up his first win of the season in the RUSH Late Model Dirt Series 20-lap feature. Jason Fosnaught was victorious in the PPMS Pro Stock division. Stephen Shelpman continued to dominate the Keystone Coach Works Hobby Stock division with another victory. Philip and Noah Bubeck were each victorious in the Four Cylinder and Young Guns divisions respectively.
Saturday Winners At Jennerstown Speedway:
- Defending Track Champion, Teddy Gibala won for the first time this season in the Martella’s Pharmacies Late Model division of racing, becoming the fourth different winner in four events. Also celebrating in Stoney’s Beer Victory Lane were R.J. Dallape (Stoystown Auto Wreckers Modifieds), Aaron Van Fleet (Ron’s Collision Center Street Stocks), Dale Kimberly (Farmers Union Co-Op Chargers), and Evan Nibert (Somerset Trust Company Fast ‘n Furious 4-Cylinders).
Matt Kenseth’s New Colors For All-Star Race:
- Wednesday’s NASCAR Cup Series All-Star race at Bristol Motor Speedway is going to feature a different style paint scheme that fans are not used to seeing on race cars. The number and some sponsor placement is moving. Here is a look at the McDonald’s Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 of Matt Kenseth:
— Chip Ganassi Racing (@CGRTeams) July 13, 2020
Thursday Night Racing Roundup: Cindric and Abreu Grab Victories
PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – There was some action on the race tracks Thursday night as the NASCAR Xfinity Series was in action at Kentucky Speedway and Ohio Sprint Speedweek continued from Muskingum County Speedway.
Cindric Wins At Kentucky:
- Austin Cindric survived three restarts in the final 30 laps and a NASCAR Overtime finish to capture his first NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) victory of the 2020 season. The victory was Cindric’s third career NXS victory and first on an oval. The driver of the No. 22 Snap-on Ford Mustang moves from fourth to third in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings, 45 markers behind leader Chase Briscoe.
Abreu Gets Ohio Speedweek Victory:
- Rico Abreu led wire-to-wire to pick up the Ollies Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 feature win at Muskingum County Speedway. Abreu started on the pole position and led all 30-laps to pick up his 8th All Star career victory, two of which have come during Ohio Sprint Speedweek. Shane Stewart finished second and points leader Aaron Reutzel finished third.
Matt Kenseth Energized by 2nd Place Finish At The Brickyard 400
CONCORD, NC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Imagine being called to do a job you have done before but the equipment to do the job is different and you don’t have any time to get up to speed on the changes. You just jump right into the fire with both feet so to speak. It’s not an easy task for the most experienced but that is exactly what Matt Kenseth is being asked to do.
Kenseth finished second in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). The finish was Kenseth’s best since replacing Kyle Larson in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet after Larson was fired for using a racial slur in an online race.
Kenseth said he could have parked the McDonald’s McDelivery Camaro in victory lane if he just could have got the car out front of the field in clean air.
“Our McDonald’s Chevy handled great,” said Kenseth. “We were really fast. If we would have been up front, I feel like we would have been hard to beat.”
Team owner Chip Ganassi was happy to see Kenseth and the No. 42 team rewarded with a good run considering the situation they were thrown into this Spring.
“Obviously we needed some immediate stability and that’s what Matt has brought,” Ganassi told Pittsburgh Racing Now. “He’s a veteran driver, he’s been to all the tracks, he’s mature and he understands what the needs of a team are. He was the best guy available.”
Ganassi would’ve loved to have swept the weekend at Indy after Scott Dixon parked the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda INDYCAR in Victory Lane on Saturday.
“You just want to be able to put yourself in position to win and we did that both days,” said Ganassi. “Yes, Matt was on the front row for last restart with better tires but we probably would have been better off third than we were second. We were surrounded by those Fords and you have got to have a friend or two to help you there and that wasn’t going to happen with all those Fords.”
“It’s never been easy to pass at Indy,” noted Kenseth. “I don’t think it has ever been this hard in my career. The horsepower is real low, they’ve got that huge spoilers on them, they’ve got a lot of drag, a lot of downforce and obviously the bigger the spoiler on the back the more the air is disturbed behind it. You can draft up a little bit on the main straightaway but the biggest thing is that it makes such a big wake in the corner that it’s hard for the trailing car to keep any kind of grip to get a run, particularly after the tires get a few laps on them.”
Kenseth’s debut in the No. 42 at Darlington resulted in a top 10 finish but until Sunday the results following Darlington were a bit of a mixed bag.
“We started off and finished 10th at Darlington and I was definitely fairly rusty in a lot of areas like pit road and a lot of the little things,” said Kenseth. “The second Darlington we ran a little better but I hit the wall, got a flat tire and got a poor finish. It was just kind of downhill from there. Nothing was going really well.”
It’s hard for teams to make improvements when they are not allowed to test and with NASCAR cancelling practice on race weekends in the wake of COVID-19. Kenseth isn’t using any of that as an excuse.
“It’s the same for everybody,” said the 2003 NASCAR Cup Series Champion. “It’s been a little more challenging that I hoped it would be for sure but I feel like the last few weeks we hit on a couple of things that seemed to help.”
“Each race, in a way, is a test session where we’re still learning about what he likes and doesn’t like in terms of personalization of the car,” said Ganassi.
The tide began to turn when the series rolled into the Keystone State in late June for the doubleheader weekend at “The Tricky Triangle”.
“Pocono didn’t knock anybody’s socks off as far as finishes but it was much better,” said Kenseth. “We ran 11th and 12th and certainly performed better as a team than we had previous to that and Indy was just a solid day all the way around and we were able to get a good finish out of that.”
“Some of the finishes we’ve had aren’t indicative of how we are running,” said Ganassi. “But that happens in this sport.”
What Kenseth and the entire CGR team is looking for is more runs like at Indy, Pocono and Darlington.
“Whenever you run well, you build more confidence, not just for myself but for the team and everybody involved,” said Kenseth. “Running bad has opposite effect. Certainly when you run bad, you never feel good about it. When you run better, certainly builds confidence. Kind of shows us all as a group that we can do it. I’m hoping we can just carry that momentum into Kentucky, just keep moving forward running up front where this team belongs.”
Kenseth hopes to continue what they’ve been doing to be successful because the veteran knows the ups and downs of a NASCAR season, where his sense of humor and quick wit help keeps things in perspective.
“Walking through the shop you think they are whispering, ‘got the short straw with this replacement driver'”, Kenseth joked. “Certainly you have all those weeks where you’re running in the 20s with a team that we know is capable of running like we ran at Indy, that’s kind of tough on your ego, confidence, whatever.”
Ganassi, whose organization is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this season, knows what the team and the driver are capable of and feels they are still in the running to make the NASCAR Playoffs.
“By no means are we out of the Championship yet so we feel good,” said Ganassi. “I don’t think there is anybody any better that I could have put in there or I would have. I think he is doing a stellar job.”
The Quaker State 400 from Kentucky Speedway takes place Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET.