FORT WORTH, TX (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Stewart Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick is locked into the NASCAR Championship finale after winning Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
“A lot of work put into the race,” said Harvick. “We knew this was a good race track for us. We felt like it fit our style of cars and man did it.”
Harvick started on the pole position and led 119-laps but had to overcome a pit road violation to pick up his third victory at Texas, 4th victory of 2019 and 49th career victory.
“We go put in the back there for the pit road violation and I didn’t really know what was going to happen,” said Harvick. “We had a bad restart after that and then all of a sudden we got on a different set of tires, on a different cycle, and we made our way back to the front so it was a fast car.”
Harvick’s SHR teammates Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez finished second and third to give team owner Tony Stewart a podium sweep and one car with a shot at a Championship in the season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway.
“You know, this is one of those tracks, and Phoenix next week is one that — they’re kind of Kevin and Rodney’s (Childers, Harvick’s Crew Chief) playgrounds, so to speak, or have been historically” said Stewart. “You hate to have to rely on Phoenix to get you in that position, but to be able to knock it out like they did today and do it in such a dominant fashion, that’s the kind of day that sets a statement to the competition that we feel like our team is peaking at the right time and getting ready for the end of the year.”
Team Penske’s Joey Logano finished fourth and Hendrick Motorsports Alex Bowman rounded out the Top 5.
Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr and Kyle Busch finished sixth and seventh respectively, followed by Penske’s Ryan Blaney.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch finished ninth in the No. 1 Monster Energy Camaro. Busch’s CGR teammate, Kyle Larson, brought the No. 42 McDonalds Chevrolet home in 12th place. Larson’s 12th place finish left him in seventh place in the playoff standings, 23-points behind Logano for the fourth and final Championship spot.
Two playoff drivers suffered poor finishes at Texas. JRG’s Denny Hamlin finished 28th and Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott finished 32nd. Hamlin and Elliott both made contact with the wall but were able to continue. Hamlin fell out of the top 4 in the points standings as a result and Elliott heads into Phoenix in a must-win situation.
The final race of NASCAR’s Round of Eight Playoffs is next week at ISM Raceway outside Phoenix.
Martin Truex Jr Victorious At Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Martin Truex Jr passed teammate Denny Hamlin on lap 485 and went on the win the rain-delayed NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The victory was Truex’s second of 2021 and 29th of his Cup Series Career.
“He (Hamlin) started getting tight, our car was getting better and better,” said Truex of the late race pass. “We were able to take advantage of it. Really happy. For whatever reason our car really turned on when the lights went down. Always good when a plan comes together and it works out the way you hoped it would.”
Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott finished second, his seventh top-10 finish in 13-races at Martinsville and fourth top-10 of 2021.
“Really, really hard-fought second actually for us,” said Elliott. “We were not great, but had some, I guess our strong suit was kind of early on in the run, then really faded hard, too hard there in the latter part of a run. But we never got one of those super long runs, which is probably a good thing for us because we were struggling on that end. But, yeah, proud we could fight back.”
Hamlin settled for third after leading the most laps in the race (267).
“Had a really good car on the short run all day,” said Hamlin. “Got great restarts. Was fast for 25, 30 laps. Then it seemed like guys would start catching us. Unfortunately it was just too many laps there at the end that we couldn’t hold those guys off.”
Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson finished fourth and fifth respectively, giving HMS three cars in the top 5.
The race featured 18-lead changes among 7-drivers and was slowed by 15-caution flags for 105-laps.
The next NASCAR Cup Series race is April 18, 2020 at Richmond Raceway.
Josh Berry Gets First Career Xfinity Series Win At Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Josh Berry passed Ty Gibbs for the lead on lap 223 and stayed out front for the final 27-laps to get his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win in the rain-delayed Cook Out 250 at Martinsville Speedway. The victory was the first career victory for Berry in 13 Xfinity Series starts.
“Man, I wanted to win so bad for these guys,” said Berry referring to his No. 8 JR Motorsports team. “They’re such a great group. I knew this would be a good opportunity to win. (Crew chief) Taylor (Moyer) called a perfect race. The car was good, and we just kept tweaking on it. The tires were pretty worn out there at the end. I was struggling a little bit with wheel-hop. This is just unbelievable.”
Berry’s JR Motorsports teammate Noah Gragson finished second and picked up a $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus, which eased the pain of being the runner-up.
“One hundred thousand dollars richer,” said Gragson. “Great 1-2 finish for our team at JR Motorsports. I really wanted to win there, but I was having to protect the bottom to keep the guys behind me from moving me out of the way. I couldn’t open up my arc the way I needed to and make speed.”
Daniel Hemric finished in third position followed by Gibbs, who faded to a fourth place finish. Gibbs’ teammate Brandon Jones finished fifth. Jones was the leader Friday night when storms red-flagged the event after completing 91-laps.
The race featured 13-lead changes among 9-drivers. The race was slowed by 12-caution flags for 75-laps.
The next race for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is April 24, 2021 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Mother Nature Wins At Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Mother Nature is throwing a wrench into this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series Schedules at Martinsville Virginia.
Friday’s Xfinity race is under a red flag following 92-laps of the scheduled 250-lap event after rain showers put an end to NASCAR’s attempt to get the event finished. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones is scored as the leader of the race.
NASCAR has rescheduled the remainder of the event for Sunday at Noon ET.
The Cup Series race was red flagged on lap 43 because of showers. JGR’s Denny Hamlin is scored as the leader. Hamlin has led 38-laps. Team Penske’s Joey Logano started on the pole position and led the other laps.
NASCAR will restart the event on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.
Per NASCAR rules, an event is considered official after half of the scheduled distance has been completed.
Both races will be broadcast live on FS1, the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.