DOVER, DE (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson is moving on to the third round of the NASCAR Playoffs after winning Sunday’s Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Larson beat Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr by 1.578-seconds, leading the last 78-laps and 154-laps overall. The victory was the sixth of Larson’s career and first points-paying race in over two seasons. Larson did win the non-points paying NASCAR All-star race, and it’s $1-million-dollar payday, this past May.
“What a day,” exclaimed Larson. “This Clover Chevy was really good. After the first stage I kind of changed my driving style up and I felt like I made the car better at the same time, and it really benefitted our long runs. That’s as good as I’ve ever been around cutting the bottom here. Just a great combination here. Good to be fast in practice and then be good again in the race and get the win.”
Larson took the lead thanks to a blistering pit stop by his No. 42 Clover Chevrolet crew following the races second stage, which was won by Truex.
“It’s pretty neat to do what we did today, to dominate that whole second half there,” said Larson. “The pit crew did a great job to get us out as the leader and kind of control the race from there. Just hats off to everybody back here. This is awesome. It’s been a long time since we won a points-based race. We won the All-Star Race earlier this year, which was great, but we wanted to win a points race, and we did it when it mattered.”
“I told the guys on the pit box, barring a late caution that I felt the race was going to be won on that last restart, so anything we could do to make sure we had control of the race and could come off Turn 2 with the lead was going to put us in our best opportunity to win,” said Chad Johnston, Larson’s Crew Chief. “To me that race was won off of pit road by the guys on pit road.”
The victory no only locks Larson into the third round but also gives his Chip Ganassi Racing crew some breathing room going into next weekends race at Talladega Superspeedway, which has a history of multi-car crashes that can change the complexion of the race and ultimately the playoffs.
“It’s going to be nice to not necessarily relax these next two but not have to worry about Talladega quite as much,” said Larson. “There’s still two more opportunities to get stage points, get a win.”
“Obviously you can breathe a little bit easier going into Talladega, being we all know what Talladega is like,” said Johnston. “I think we still have to try to put points on the board, whether it’s bonus points or race win points. There’s a lot of guys that have five, six wins and a lot of bonus points that are going to roll over to that next stage, so anything we can do to close the gap on that, obviously with Martinsville being in that last round, that’s not the greatest place for us, but we feel like Texas and Phoenix are places we can win at.”
Truex was frustrated he didn’t win as well as with lap traffic during the races last green-flag stint.
“We got the lead there, Stage 2, got that stage win, and then had a pit stop issue and lost track position, then we just — the whole third stage we were behind,” said Truex. “We were catching him at the end; we got close, but yeah, just unfortunate there. We win and lose as a team. The guys will clean it up, I’m sure, and it’s cool to come home second after that as hard as it was to pass today.”
Hendrick Motorsports Alex Bowman finished third followed by Stewart Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick. Pole-sitter Denny Hamlin finished the real in 15th.
The next race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is at Talladega Superspeedway on October 13th.
Kevin Harvick wins NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan
BROOKLYN, MI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Kevin Harvick’s two-year winless streak is over after ‘The Closer’ won Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Harvick beat 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace by 2.9-seconds to become playoff eligible and said the key was getting out front on the final restart.
“The last restart I had the 5 (Kyle Larson) behind me, and I knew I didn’t need to let the 23 (Wallace) up,” explained Harvick. “I knew I needed to drive it in the corner far enough, but the 5 had given me such a good push. I had a car length, and I think Bubba got about up to my door. I knew that if we could just get off of turn 2, we would have a chance.”
As the pair raced off turn 2 Harvick started to get ahead and carried that momentum as Wallace and Kyle Larson battled for position.
“That’s what you want, right?” asked Harvick rhetorically. “To try to get away so they don’t have a draft and can make up that time quicker. 5 launched good. 5 gave us a good push, and the key was just clearing the 23 off of two and being able to go down the back straight-away by myself and not door to door and in a firestorm.”
Wallace was disappointed to not get into victory lane with one of the fastest cars on track all weekend.
“I failed everybody,” said Wallace. “Took the top there on the restart. Thought I could hang with the 4, and just got to racing the 5 and the 22. Hate it for our team. It sucks.”
Wallace’s team owner Denny Hamlin raced home to third with Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney rounding out the top 5.
Chase Elliott continues to sit atop the point standing and playoff standings. Martin Truex sits on the outside of the 16-car playoff eligibility by 19-points. Blaney sits in the final playoff spot.
Racing Notebook: Pocono NASCAR Weekend approaching; INDYCAR in Toronto; PVGP hits the track and more
PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Pittsburgh Racing Now Racing Notebook is jam-packed with NASCAR, INDYCAR, and Vintage racing news:
Limited Tickets Remain for Pocono NASCAR Weekend:
- Pocono Raceway’s NASCAR weekend is a little over a week away and if you want to go, get your tickets now! Pocono announced on Thursday that a limited number of grandstand seats are the only options remaining for the marquee M&M’S® Fan Appreciation 400 NASCAR Cup Series race next Sunday, July 24. The remaining grandstand seats for the Cup Series race are at three price points ($45, $80 and $95) and scattered throughout the various sections of the main grandstand. The only RV camping option currently available is general admission for $250, which includes two guest passes and free admission for up to 4 children 12 and under. To purchase tickets or learn more, please visit poconoraceway.com or call 800-722-3929.
INDYCAR Returns To Toronto:
- The NTT INDYCAR SERIES returns to the Streets of Toronto for this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto. All eyes will be on Defending Series Champion Alex Palou, driver of the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. CGR announced on Tuesday afternoon they were exercising their option on Palou for 2023, only to have Palou announce on Social Media later that evening that he was not returning. Moments after Palou’s announcement, McLaren Racing announced they signed Palou for 2023. CGR has won seven times at Toronto, the most recent being Scott Dixon in 2018. Andretti Autosports Alexander Rossi was fastest in the first practice on Friday. A second practice session takes place Saturday morning with three rounds of knockout-style qualifying taking place Saturday afternoon. The race is Sunday at 3 p.m.
Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix at Pitt Race:
- The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix hits the Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Wampum this weekend in a tune-up for next weekend’s race on the streets of Schenley Park. Since 2004, racers from all over the country have come to the 2.8-mile purpose-built track 40 miles northwest of Pittsburgh for fierce competition. The ‘Black Tie and Tailpipes Gala’ took place last night at The Grand Concourse at Station Square. For more information visit pvgp.org.
Chase Elliott wins at Atlanta
HAMPTON, GA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Elliott held off a hard-charging Corey LaJoie to win Sunday’s NASCAR CUP SERIES Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Elliott was leading taking the white flag when LaJoie got a run heading into Turn 1 forcing Elliott to move to the high side of the track and block LaJoie, who ended up hitting the wall and brining out the final caution flag, securing the win for Elliott.
“When you’re a kid and you’re racing on the quarter mile over there you look at this big track and it’s just out of reach, like not even real, just that your heroes are out there competing once or twice a year on this big track, and that’s just not real,” said Elliott of winning at his home track. “To be here and to have a day like we had is really incredible, and certainly one I’m going to embrace and enjoy a lot.”
LaJoie, who had a strong car all day said he took his shot at the win.
“I made my move and it didn’t work out, and the siren is ringing in Dawsonville unfortunately,’’ said LaJoie, referencing the Dawsonville Pool Room where a siren blares after any Elliott win.
Elliott won the races first two stages along with his third victory of the season, joining his Hall of Fame father Bill as the only Cup Drivers to win at the Atlanta oval.
“To see that many people up there and cheering and wearing the 9 hats and seeing the NAPA gear, you want to make those people proud,” said Elliott. “For me, I’m just grateful that the fans of this state have included me in part of the family of Georgia sports and kind of accepted our team as that, and I’m proud of that and glad we could do them good today.”
Ross Chastain finished second followed by Team Penske’s Austin Cindric in third, Petty GMS Racing’s Erik Jones in fourth and Penske’s Ryan Blaney in fifth.
The NASCAR Cup Series next race is at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH.