DARLINGTON, SC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones held off Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson to win Sunday’s 70th annual Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
Jones led the last 40-laps en route to his second-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The margin of victory was 4.058-seconds. The victory locks Jones into the NASCAR Playoffs with one race left in the regular season. The victory also gets the monkey off Jones’ back as he was the only Gibbs driver not to win this season.
“It was fun,” said Jones. “I felt really calm, honestly, the majority of the race, and especially the last 80 laps. I felt like I was really in control and really knew what I was doing, and there was a couple points down the backstretch it was like, Well, why can’t we win it? There’s no reason we can’t, so just close it out and do it.”
Larson’s second place finish was his fifth Top 10 finish in six races at Darlington. It was also Larson’s 12th Top 10 finish of 2019 and it locked him into the 2019 NASCAR Playoffs.
“Just was really hard to pass,” said Larson. “I think this package has been good for a lot of places, but here being a high-grip track, already narrow, it was just tough to pass.”
Larson did lead twice for 44-laps and was leading when the race restarted with 86-laps to go but Jones got by him.
“Just didn’t have the greatest restart there to allow Erik to get by me,” lamented Larson.
Larson was able to close gap however and followed Jones onto pit road, along with Kyle Busch, for the last green-flag stop of the race. Jones and Busch beat the No. 42 Clover Chevrolet off of pit road.
“That last green-flag stop was not as fast as the 18 (Busch) and the 20 (Jones), so disappointed about that,” said Larson. “We had some good stops and bad ones, but all in all a good day.”
Busch hung on for a third-place finish after smacking the wall coming out of turn four in the waning laps, which allowed Larson to get by him.
Three other drivers joined Larson by clinching their spots in the playoffs via points: Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, Hendrick Motorsports William Byron and Stewart Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola.
The final two NASCAR Playoff spots are between four drivers heading into the regular-season finale at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Stewart Haas Racing’s Clint Bowyer currently sits in 15th place, 8-points ahead of his teammate Daniel Suarez and Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman, who are tied for the 16th and final spot. Seven-time Champion Jimmie Johnson is on the outside looking in, 18-points behind Newman and Suarez.
Keselowski Wins At New Hampshire
LOUDON, NH (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski passed Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin on lap 221 and led the final 81-laps to win the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday.
The victory was Keselowski’s third of the year and 33rd of his Cup Series career. Keselowski’s margin of victory was 1.647-seconds.
“I’m really proud of my Western Star/Alliance Parts Ford Mustang team and the effort that they gave today,” said Keselowski. I think this is my fifth straight year with three wins, but I don’t want to stop there. I want us to keep going and I know this team can do it.”
Hamlin finished second, his 12th Top 10 finish in 2020.
“We were just barely a little slower than he was for most of the day,” said Hamlin. “We could make some really good moves on the restarts and whatnot. Overall I just thought that we were a second-place car. That’s kind of how we ended up.”
Martin Truex Jr brought the No. 19 Sport Clips Toyota home in third place, his 13th top-10 finish in 27 races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“We had a bit of an issue on pit road with a tire getting away, had to come from the rear,” said Truex. “That was pretty difficult. Sports Clips Camry was decent. I think we were probably a third-place car and we finished third.
Solid day. Just lacked a little bit of speed and drivability.”
The win leaves Keselowski in second place in the points standings, 81-points behind leader Kevin Harvick.
Hamlin’s second place finish helped him gain a spot in the points standings to third, moving Ryan Blaney back to fourth.
There were 22-lead changes among 7-drivers with Keselowski leading the most laps. The race was slowed by 11-caution flags for 52-laps.
The next NASCAR Cup Series race is August 8 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.
The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast – Episode 15 – Aaron Reutzel, Matthew Dillner, Chip Ganassi and more!
PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The latest edition of The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast features the 2-time and defending Champion of the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 Aaron Reutzel. We also talk to Matthew Dillner of Dirty Mo Media about the new show he co-hosts with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chip Ganassi takes his own trip down memory lane and we hear from Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials about safety protocols in place at this year’s Indy 500.
Dirty Mo Media’s ‘Lost Speedways’ About More Than Just Racing
MOORESVILLE, NC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Dale Earnhardt Jr and Dirty Mo Media’s new show “Lost Speedways” is taking a trip down memory lane and visiting some of the race tracks that formed the foundation for what we see at our local tracks and on television every weekend.
“The whole point of this show is to document history before it’s gone,” Dillner told The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast. “To tell the stories about these racetracks that are shuddered and covered in weeds and being recaptured by nature.”
How the show came to fruition is a story in itself. Earnhardt Jr and Dillner discovered they had something in common beside the sport of auto racing.
“We both realized we had the same hobby,” said Dillner, who is an executive producer of ‘Lost Speedways’ along with Earnhardt Jr and Mike Davis. “We had the same passion and nerdy obsession with mapping lost speedways. With him it was mapping lost speedways and with me it was mapping and exploring these lost speedways.”
Exploring these lost speedways is exactly what Earnhardt, Dillner and the Dirty Mo Media crew do. Literally climbing through weeds and brush to uncover the stories of days gone by.
“They’re covered in weeds, but they have these mysterious stories and you’re bringing people back to that location and the people that were there and talking to them and it’s very romantic in a weird kind of a tribute,” said Dillner.
The allure of the show is that it appeals to not only race fans but fans of history and Americana.
“It’s a lot about American culture and places that meant something to you, whether it’s a ballpark you grew up at or some memory from your childhood, all of that comes racing back when you’re exploring these places,” said Dillner. “For any history buff part of our show is about uncovering that history, the other part is kind of like ‘American Pickers’. We’re literally exploring, with boots on the ground, these locations and unearthing history. It’s definitely a magical combination.”
The magical combination responsible for ‘Lost Speedways’ put together the eight episodes with a small crew who had to overcome a huge obstacle.
“We’ve got a group of six or seven super-talented guys that fought through a Pandemic to meet our deadline for this show,” said Dillner. “A deadline that some studio shows didn’t make and we did it from our houses on laptops, overnights, working. Just really talented people with a passion to tell these stories and it’s something that I’m super, super proud of.”
Each episode takes the viewer to a different track and back in time with those who helped create the story being immortalized forever.
“They’ve got these great memories and incredible stories that haven’t been told and some of them think they’ve been forgotten, these places have been forgotten, these people have been forgotten,” said Dillner. “We’re bringing that to life in a really colorful way.”
All eight episodes of ‘Lost Speedways’ are available on Peacock TV, NBC’s new streaming service.
“I’m so, so happy that Dale convinced NBC to do this show on the Peacock and the fact that they said, ‘yes’ is incredible and we worked our butts off to make it happen and now we’re sitting back and enjoying the reaction,” said Dillner. “History matters to everybody, whether it’s your family history or something you grew up with, like you’re a big Pittsburgh Pirates fan, things matter from the past.”