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.
Big Changes In The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Schedule
DAYTONA, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is a drastic change from years past. The changes are many and include 3-new tracks, a few tracks have left the schedule and a dirt race is coming to a track already on the schedule.
Permanent road courses at Circuit of the Americas (May 23), Road America (July 4) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (August 15) are the three new tracks. 2021 marks the first time since 1994 that the Cup Series will not run on the IMS oval.
NASCAR will open the season, as it traditionally does, at Daytona International Speedway (February 14) with the Daytona 500 followed by Homestead-Miami Speedway (February 21).
The ‘West Coast Swing’ begins at Auto Club Speedway (February 28) followed by Las Vegas (March 7) and Phoenix (March 14).
The Series returns East for the first of two dates at Atlanta Motor Speedway (March 21). The Atlanta race is followed by the Cup Series first race on dirt in 50-years at Bristol Motor Speedway (March 28).
Two races in Virginia open the month of April, Martinsville (April 10) and Richmond (April 18). The Series two smallest tracks are a prelude to a run on the largest track, Talladega Superspeedway (April 25).
The first of two races at Kansas (May 2) opens the month of May followed by the track ‘Too Tough To Tame’, Darlington (May 9), Dover (May 16) before the inaugural visit to Circuit of the Americas (May 23) and a return to most teams home track Charlotte (May 30).
June opens with a road course race in California at Sonoma (June 6) before the All-Star Race, which moves to Texas Motor Speedway (June 13).
A return to Nashville Superspeedway (June 20) takes place before the series visits the Keystone State for a doubleheader at Pocono Raceway (June 26-27).
Celebrating our nation’s birthday highlight’s the series first visit to Road America (July 4) before a return to Atlanta (July 11) and a trip to New Hampshire (July 18).
Two road courses and two ovals make up the month of August beginning with Watkins Glen (August 8) and followed by Indy (August 15), which will continue as a doubleheader with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
Michigan International Speedway loses it’s June date so the only race in the ‘Irish Hills’ takes place August 22 followed by the regular-season ending visit back to Daytona (August 28).
The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs begin at Darlington (September 5) followed by Richmond (September 11) and the Round of 16 elimination race at Bristol (September 18).
The Round of 12 begins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (September 26) followed by Talladega Superspeedway (October 3) and the elimination race at the Charlotte ‘Roval’ (October 10).
The Round of 8 consists of a return to Texas Motor Speedway (October 17), a return to Kansas (October 24) and the elimination race at Martinsville (October 31).
The NASCAR Cup Series Championship takes place Sunday, November 7 at Phoenix.
Hometown Boy Kurt Busch Wins In Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, NV (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch beat Matt DiBenedetto and Denny Hamlin in overtime to win Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The victory was Busch’s first at his hometown track in 23-starts and his first victory in 2020.
“This is what kids dream of when they go racing,” said Busch, who grew up racing on the ‘Bullring’ with his Dad and younger brother Kyle. “You dream of winning at your hometown track and for two decades it’s kicked my butt and tonight with this Monster Energy Chevy, I’m in awe.”
Busch had to survive two late-race restarts to get the victory. Busch got a fantastic restart with 12-laps to go and had a multi-car length lead when Christopher Bell cut a tire and slowed on the front stretch where Hendrick Motorsports William Byron crashed into Bell to bring out the caution with 7-laps to go, sending the race into overtime.
The last restart saw Busch get another great jump out front as DiBenedetto and Hamlin were battling for second place as the No. 1 Monster Energy Camaro raced to the checkered flag.
In case anyone wants to see this greatness one more time, or a thousand more pic.twitter.com/ZCNZppJrWW
— Chip Ganassi Racing (@CGRTeams) September 28, 2020
“I pulled out some drag racing skills on the restarts,” said Busch. “I knew that was our strong suit. I knew that was Ford’s weak suit. We just put ourselves in position and we held them off. Chip Ganassi was up in the suites somewhere and I could feel him breathing down my neck ‘I want to win’ and we did it.”
The win also automatically advances Busch to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs giving him and the No. 1 Monster Energy/GEARWRENCH team a little bit of a buffer before the Playoff field is narrowed down to the Round of 4 after races at Talladega Superspeedway and ‘The Roval’ at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” said Busch. “It’s sinking in, no Talladega worries, no Roval worries but we’re still going there to get points. We’re still going there to add up what we need to do to win this Championship.”
DiBenedetto held on for second place followed by Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman.
The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs move onto Talladega Superspeedway October 4, 2020.
Chase Briscoe Wins NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, NV (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Briscoe dominated the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff opener Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, punching his ticket to the second round.
Briscoe won all three stages and beat Noah Gragson on a late restart to win the Alsco 300. The victory was Briscoe’s eighth of the season and 10th career win in 78 Xfinity Series starts.
“An unbelievable car,” said Briscoe, who led a race-high 164-laps. “That thing was on rails. It was so easy to drive. By far the best race car I’ve ever had.”
The victory gives Briscoe a 17-point lead over Austin Cindric in the Championship fight. Cindric finished sixth.
Gragson, a Las Vegas native, wanted to park his JR Motorsports Chevrolet in victory lane in front of the hometown crowd.
“It’s good to get points but it’s kind of frustrating,” said Gragson. “We were all doing everything we could. I was kind of the best of the rest. The 98 (Briscoe) was so fast.”
The second place finish moved Gragson up a spot in the Championship standings, 34-points behind Briscoe and 17-points behind Cindric.
Daniel Hemric finished third followed by Justin Allgaier in fourth. Ryan Sieg rounded out the Top 5.
The Xfinity Series title fight moves to Talladega Superspeedway on October 3, 2020.