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NASCAR Heads To Darlington Raceway For “Throwback” Weekend

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Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

DARLINGTON, SC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – NASCAR rolls into the oldest and toughest race track, Darlington Raceway, for their annual “throwback” weekend.

Teams, drivers and sponsors embrace the weekend and roll out cars with special paint schemes that pay tribute to NASCAR’s past and heritage.

The fight for the NASCAR playoffs is down to two races.  Four drivers are fighting for the final two playoff positions.

Stewart Haas Racing’s (SHR) Daniel Suarez sits in the 16th and final playoff position after an 8th place finish in the series last race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Suarez’ SHR teammate Clint Bowyer is in 17th position, two points behind Suarez. Bowyer has only one top-10 finish in 13-starts at the track.  He finished 36th last year and 40th the year before.

“We know how important these next two races are,” said Bowyer.  “Everyone in the sport knows and everyone will be watching.  We know if we run like we are capable of running we will be fine.  Now we just have to go out and do it this weekend at Darlington and next weekend at Indianapolis.”

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Seven-time Champion Jimmie Johnson, of Hendrick Motorsports, sits 26-points behind Suarez.  Johnson has 3-wins at the track “Too Tough To Tame”, sweeping both races in 2004 and picking up another win 2011.

Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman currently sits 15th in the playoff standings, only 14-points ahead of 17th place Bowyer.  Newman has not won at Darlington but has 13 top-10 finishes and seven top-5 finishes in 20-starts.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr lead the championship field with four wins each.

Hamlin comes into the race with momentum after winning at Bristol.  The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota has 2-victories, 11 top-10 finishes in 13-starts at the track.  Hamlin’s average finish of 6.154 is best among active drivers.

“This FedEx team is on such a roll right now,” said Hamlin.  “We show up fast to the race track each and every weekend and I’m proud of what our entire team has been able to accomplish these past few weeks.”

Busch sits atop the series championship standings with a 39-point lead over 2nd place Joey Logano of Team Penske.  Busch has some momentum too, five top-10’s in his last 6-races.  Busch also has a series-best 20 top-10’s.  Busch has one victory at Darlington (2011) and has finished 11th or better in the last 9-races at Darlington.

The Bojangles Southern 500 takes place Sunday, September 1st at 6 p.m. ET.  Television coverage starts at 5:30 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and can be heard on Motor Racing Network (MRN) affiliates and on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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NASCAR

Kyle Busch takes NASCAR Cup Series win in California

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FONTANA, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The pairing of Kyle Busch and Richard Childress Racing is paying dividends as two races into their partnership, they were celebrating victory at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  Busch beat Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott by ?.?-seconds to pick up his ??-career Cup Series victory and the ?? of his NASCAR career.

“I felt like there was going to be a little bit of a learning experience, a little bit of a growth pattern, but also on the flipside of that, I always just kind of looked back and watched some of their results and success that they had last year with Austin,” explained Busch. “He ran second here last year, and Reddick was super, super fast. They were fast at the Clash before they broke, the 8 car was.”

Busch said the transition to a new team has been good.

“It’s just been really, really cool, and it’s been a great piece of — we’re making history, right, but a great piece of opportunity to go out there and continue to win races at a new team with RCR, so I can’t say enough about Austin giving me a call, first and foremost, but then Richard and Judy giving me this opportunity to go out here and race for wins.”

Elliott was happy for his manufacturer teammate and former Champ and to get a finish after getting crashed out of the Daytona 500.

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“Congratulations to Kyle,” said Elliott. “For him to leave and then to go get the job done like that is pretty cool. He’s always been really good to me, so happy for them. Obviously I think we still have some work to do, but it was really nice to just see a lot of that hard work pay off and have the car driving like we were wanting it to do. So that’s always a good thing. Appreciate everybody on our NAPA team, Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet for just sticking with it and sticking with each other.  Looking forward to getting to Vegas and hopefully competing for some more wins.”

Ross Chastain, who led a race high 92-laps, finished third in the No. 1 Kubota Chevrolet for Trackhouse Racing.

“Our balance was building loose most of the day, so I thought we did everything right,” said Chatain. “We kept up with it. It would just feel pretty loose late in the runs, and at times it was enough, and at times they got way better.”

The NASCAR Cup Series moves on to Las Vegas for the Pennzoil 400 March 5th.

 

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wins Daytona 500 in two overtimes

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DAYTONA, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Ricky Stenhouse Jr was leading NASCAR Cup Series Champion Joey Logano when a spinning Kyle Larson brought out the final caution of the day, giving Stenhouse the Daytona 500 win in double-overtime.

Stenhouse and Logano were battling for the lead on Lap 212 when contact from Aric Almirola’s Ford started Travis Pastrana’s Toyota spinning in Turn 2. Pastrana’s Camry clipped Larson Chevrolet and set it rocketing into the outside wall.  NASCAR officials reviewed the timing and scoring loops to verify Stenhouse was the winner.

“The 22 had a huge run,” explained Stenhouse. “Got to my outside. Kyle had a huge run and he kind of shipped the middle, and then I looked in my mirror and here comes Christopher and gave me a big shot down the short chute there into 1 caution and got out front enough for when the caution came out.
So everything played out perfectly for us at the end of that.”

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“Second is the worst, man,” lamented Logano.  “You’re so close. Leading the white flag lap there, I was up front. Kyle gave me a good push and, yeah, you’re watching in the mirror and you’re three wide across there. I felt like the three wide was going a hurt a lane; looked like Kyle was getting pushed ahead, and then Ricky started getting pushed ahead.”

“If you would have told me pre-race I was going to run third, I would have jumped up and down and been smiling ear to ear, which I am very happy and very, very thankful that I could get this Rheem and DeWalt Camry a good solid finish,” said Bell.  “But man, just so close to a crown jewel. I feel like if it would have stayed green I would have been on offense, and obviously who knows. But very proud and thankful to be here and Joe Gibbs Racing, and happy for Ricky. That’s really cool. Very, very happy for Ricky.”

The next NASCAR Cup Series race is Sunday, February 26 at Auto Club Raceway in Fontana, California.

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Austin Hill wins his second straight NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona

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DAYTONA, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Austin Hill won his second-straight NASCAR Xfinity Series season-opening race on Saturday, narrowly beating John Hunter Nemechek and Justin Allgaier after NASCAR officials reviewed the tape following Sam Mayer’s caution.

“As soon as the caution lights came on, I thought I had it, but it was so close,” said Hill. “To get back-to-back here at Daytona, it’s really special. That’s three wins for me now, two in the Xfinity, one in the truck here. We came from the back two different times.  I hope everyone enjoyed it. It was such a blast. I had so much fun.”

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“I’ve been short my whole life, so I guess it’s just fitting,” joked Allgaier. “But really proud of everybody at JR Motorsports. Our Chevy Camaros tonight were absolutely blazing fast.  Obviously, I’m glad Sam is OK. He had a heck of a run there at the end.”

NASCAR Xfinity Daytona

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