RICHMOND, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Joe Gibbs Racing’s (JGR) Martin Truex Jr is sitting atop the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standing after winning the Federated Auto Parts 400 Saturday night at Richmond Raceway.
The victory was the 2nd straight in the NASCAR Playoffs for Truex, who won last week at Las Vegas. Truex also led a 1-2-3 sweep of the top spots for JGR, leading Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin to the checkered flag.
“What a job the team did,” said Truex. “I mean, it’s just unbelievable. To win this way is pretty incredible. I’ve never done anything like that in my life. We had to keep working on it all night. We had good speed, but it was just a matter of staying up with it and adjusting. It’s hard when you’re racing your teammates and they’re looking at what you’re doing and you’re looking at what they’re doing and those are the guys you’re racing. Just an awesome night for JGR.”
“We led a lot of laps,” said Busch, who led the most laps (202). “We were up front a lot. But when I was out front, he (Truex) could keep the closest distance to me. That kind of worried me for a finish like that in the long run. I don’t think we were as good as him all night long. Martin, the car, the combination thereof, us, the combination of, just lacked a little bit. You know, like the 11 lacked a little bit more than us.”
“Just seemed like the long run speed they (Truex & 19 Team) really had quite a bit more and a little bit more turn, a little bit more forward drive, just everything — every little bit,” said Hamlin. “It just seemed like it was about a half a tenth a lap there on average, and the 19 just had a really good long run car. We were kind of third best there, that’s kind of where we ended up.”
The finish would have been a 1-2-3-4 for JGR but the No. 20 of Erik Jones, who crossed the finish line in fourth place, failed post race inspection and as a result was penalized with a 40th and last place finish.
“There’s fairly critical measurements on the rear wheel alignment that have to be followed, so there’s any number of things that the team could do or not do to make it fail,” said Jay Fabian, Managing Director of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. “Standard process as a race, we give a pretty strong allowance on what they can run pre-race to post-race, and it’s crept out of that range. Rear wheel steer and alignment is important as a critical factor in downforce. It’s an aero benefit to get more skew in the rear, so we keep those parameters pretty tight so that everybody is racing with the same thing, and that’s the key to running all 16 cars through there.”
The post-race failure of the 20-car moved everyone else up a spot in the final standings meaning Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski finished fourth followed by Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman in fifth.
“We just weren’t quite as fast as the Gibbs cars,” said Keselowski, who started on the pole. “We could get a little short-run speed but then we’d be a little bit slower on the long-run. We tried to trade a little bit of short-run for long-long and we got a little bit of long-run but we gave up all of our short-run advantage.”
“I’m proud of our finish, I’m proud of the teamwork,” said Newman. “We did get some stage points tonight, which has been our biggest weakness the entire season. Just fighting hard. We’re making strides, albeit late in the season, but we’re making gains and we’ll just keep working on it.”
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson finished sixth followed by a trio of Stewart-Haas Racing Fords; Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez. Hendrick Motorsports Jimmie Johnson rounded out the Top-10.
The NASCAR Playoffs move onto “The Roval” at Charlotte Motor Speedway next Sunday, September 29th, where four drivers will be eliminated and only the Top 12 will advance to Round 2.
A.J. Allmendinger wins on ‘The Roval’….again!
CONCORD, NC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – A.J. Allmendinger’s run towards a NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship is continuing into the Round of 8 after his third-straight win on ‘The Roval’ at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“It’s special to win this race three years in-a-row,” said Allmendinger. “Do we go for the win during the race’s second stage by pitting early? We decided to do that. Once we got in the lead the Hyperice Chevy was so fast.”
Team Penske’s Austin Cindric finished second after starting from the pole position and having an eventful day. Cindric led the first seven laps of the race before missing the backstretch chicane. Cindric and his team went off strategy and by the end of the recovered and was in second place on the final re-start.
“I spun my tires like crazy on that last restart,” said Cindric, who already clinched a spot in the Round of 8. “I was worried about that, but I didn’t think it was going to be that bad. I feel like I could have tried a second gear restart. I think that would have helped me out at least maintaining some track position, but it was just not meant to be today.”
Daniel Hemric finished third followed by Justin Haley and Brandon Jones. All three also advanced into the Round of 8.
The other drivers advancing to the Round of 8 included Noah Gragson (sixth Saturday), Justin Allgaier (ninth) and Harrison Burton (15th).
The race featured six lead changes among five drivers, with Allmendinger leading the final 21 circuits. There were seven cautions for 13 laps.
The fourth caution also caused a brief stoppage when the brakes failed on the No. 07 Chevrolet of Josh Bilicki, with the car plowing through the backstretch chicane and dislodging pieces of curbing in its path. Track workers had to remove the exposed bolts that had held the curbing in place before the race could continue.
Brandon Brown gets Xfinity Series win at Talladega
TALLADEGA, AL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Brandon Brown picked up his first Xfinity Series victory winning Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Brown was racing three-wide for the lead with Justin Allgaier and Brandon Jones when the No. 20 of Harrison Burton broke loose in turn four triggering a multi-vehicle accident on lap 102 of the 113-lap event.
NASCAR officials reverted back to the last completed scoring loop to determine Brown was slightly ahead when the caution came out.
“Everything I’ve ever wanted to do is take the trophy home to Mom and Dad,” said Brown, who drives for his family owned team. “Oh my god, it’s a dream come true. A Talladega winner. Oh my god, Dad, we did it!”
Jones was credited with a second place finish and Allgaier came home in third position. Daniel Hemric finished fourth followed by Jordan Anderson in fifth.
Defending Xfinity Series Champion Austin Cindric remains atop the drivers standing following his 8th place finish. Allgaier is in second place followed by Hemric in third.
A.J. Allmendinger took a hit in the points after being involved in an accident and fell to fourth, 44-points out of the lead and 25-points above the 8th place cutoff to advance to the next round of the playoffs.
Burton fell to eight in the points after his accident and sits only 8-points ahed of Jeb Burton for the final playoff transfer spot.
Kyle Larson wins at Bristol after Harvick & Elliott incident
BRISTOL, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Kyle Larson passed Kevin Harvick with three-laps-to-go and went on to win Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“Have always wanted to win here, so cool to finally do it,” said Larson. “We were able to stay close enough to Kevin. Chase was obviously upset with the contact, was just making things kind of tough on him. It kept me in the game.”
Elliott certainly made it tougher on Harvick after contact between the two, as they were fighting for the lead, sent the No. 9 Hooters Chevy to pit road with a flat left front tire. Elliott returned to the track a couple of laps down but on the same part of the track as the leaders and the defending Cup Series Champion ran the No. 4 up against the wall in frustration.
Elliott eventually passed Harvick but did not pull away with the fresher tires, instead Elliott took the racing line away from Harvick as Larson continued to close in. Larson caught and passed Harvick, who blamed Elliott.
“I just told him it was kind of a chicken-shit move he did there at the end,” fumed Harvick. “I was just trying to get the lead and race him hard. Then he pulls up in front of me and sits there till I lose the whole lead.”
“Well, it’s something he does all the time,” said Elliott of the contact from the No. 4. “He runs into your left side constantly at other tracks. Did it to me in Darlington a few weeks ago because he was tired of racing me. Whether he did it on purpose doesn’t matter. At some point you have to draw a line.”
The line to the next round of the NASCAR Playoffs was drawn after Bristol with four drivers falling out the playoffs.
Chip Ganassi’s hopes of winning that elusive NASCAR Championship ended Saturday night when Kurt Busch was one of those four drivers eliminated. Busch finished 19th at Bristol.
Aric Almirola, Michael McDowell and Tyler Reddick were also eliminated.