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NASCAR

Denny Hamlin Clinches Championship Berth With Win In Phoenix

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Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

AVONDALE, AZ (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin is locked into NASCAR’s Championship 4 after winning Sunday’s Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway outside Phoenix.

“I can’t believe it,” said Hamlin after the race.  “This race team worked so hard this whole year.  They deserve to be there. One of the best cars of my career, I can tell you that.  Fast car.”

Hamlin entered the race as one of six drivers fighting for two spots in the season-ending Championship race next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Hamlin’s teammate Kyle Busch earned the final spot with a runner-up finish on Sunday.  Busch’s finish gave him enough points to get in, leaving defending series Champion Joey Logano out of the title fight.  Logano finished ninth on Sunday.

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“Just didn’t quite have enough,” said Busch.  “I knew the 11 was the best car in practice. I knew we were going to be about third to fifth. We were second. Guys did a great job, this M&M Camry was good. Thanks to everybody at JGR, Stanley, Toyota, TRD. It’s cool to have a chance to go race for a championship. Just keep coming up short.”

“I went from a car that could lead and win a stage and run really well, and from what they told me, it was an air pressure adjustment made it go from a winning car to can’t stay on the lead lap, and one of the tightest things I’ve ever driven,” said a frustrated Logano.  “I don’t really understand it.  It doesn’t make any sense.  You change tires and change a half pint of air, that sounds ridiculous.  It is what it is.  Just wasn’t our year to make it, I guess.”

Also missing the cut were Logano’s Penske teammate Ryan Blaney, who finished third, and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson, who finished fourth.  Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott also didn’t make the cut after another disastrous race.  Elliott wrecked for the second consecutive weekend, ending his title hopes.

Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick are the other two Championship 4 drivers based on their wins at Martinsville and Texas, respectively.

Phoenix Race Results

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NASCAR

Denny Hamlin And Kevin Harvick Score NASCAR Cup Wins At Pocono Doubleheader

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Patrick Smith/Getty Images

LONG POND, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Denny Hamlin won Sunday’s Pocono 350, the second race of the NASCAR Cup Series Doubleheader Weekend at Pocono Raceway.

Hamlin beat Kevin Harvick by 3.068-seconds to pick up his fourth victory of 2020 and 41st of his Cup Series career.  Hamlin is now tied with NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon for the most wins all-time at “The Tricky Triangle” with six.

“It’s awesome,” said Hamlin.  “I think that’s the most wins I’ve got at any track now.  It’s hard to believe because we went through such a dry spell there kind of the middle of my career.  We’re doing a great job right now. Like I say, I hate to feel disappointed in a second and first. Man, I really feel like we should have won both races. Just didn’t work out.”

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Harvick won Saturday’s race, taking two tires on the final pit stop to grab the checkered flag from a track where he had never won.

“Everybody from Stewart-Haas Racing has done a great job,” said Harvick.  “We’ve had really fast cars every time we’ve come to Pocono, just hadn’t got to Victory Lane.”

The NASCAR Cup Series next event is the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a doubleheader with the NTT IndyCar Series.

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NASCAR

Ryan Blaney Edges Ricky Stenhouse To Win NASCAR Cup Race At Talladega

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Chris Graythen/Getty Images

TALLADEGA, AL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney picked up his first win of the season beating Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by a bumper at the rain-delayed Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Blaney and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones made contact on the front stretch, sending Jones into the outside wall as Blaney headed towards the checkered flag.

Inside of Blaney however was JTG Daugherty’s Stenhouse, who was leading hard charge of cars on the inside lane.  The pair crossed the Start/Finish line with Blaney prevailing by 0.007-seconds in a photo-finish.

“I just kind of blocked, just trying to block the best we could,” said Blaney.  “The 20 got to my outside and I tried to go up there to slow him down, I hate that I hit him, but just kind of trying to beat and bang to the line and things like that. We just edged it out, but I am really proud of this whole Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang team.”

Stenhouse finished second and said he did all he could to get to the front.

“The 20 had a good run,” said Stenhouse.  “Then they started banging fenders, slowing each other down.  I just kept on the throttle, was able to get close to the nose of the 12 there coming across the line.  All in all it was a solid day for us.”

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Stewart Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola finished third with his rear bumper crossing the Start/Finish line first as he was caught up in the Jones accident.

Denny Hamlin finished fourth followed by Jones who after hitting the wall crossed the line in fifth.

Talladega Cup Results

Prior to the race drivers and crew members surrounded Bubba Wallace’s No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet and pushed it to the front of the starting grid in a show of support after a noose was found in the RPM garage area on Sunday.

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – JUNE 22: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, and team owner, and NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty stand for the national anthem prior to the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22, 2020 in Talladega, Alabama. A noose was found in the garage stall of NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace at Talladega Superspeedway a week after the organization banned the Confederate flag at its facilities. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NASCAR President Steve Phelps said the FBI is investigating and that whoever is responsible for the action will be suspended for life from NASCAR.

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IndyCar

Chip Ganassi Condemns Noose Incident At Talladega

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Pittsburgh’s Chip Ganassi is condemning Sunday’s noose incident at Talladega Superspeedway.

Ganassi, who fields the No. 1 Monster Energy/Gearwrench Camaro driven by Kurt Busch and the No. 42 Credit One Bank/McDonald’s Chevrolet driven by Matt Kenseth in the NASCAR Cup Series, called the incident “horrific and completely reprehensible” and said now is the time to “rid NASCAR, and all sports, of these ignorant attitudes”.

Ganassi took to his Twitter feed to share those feelings.  Here’s the tweet:

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Ganassi had to do exactly what he tweeted about when he fired former driver Kyle Larson, who uttered a racial slur in an online racing event.

Ganassi’s team also showed their support for driver Bubba Wallace and his Richard Petty Motorsports team.  The noose was found in the RPM teams garage.

Ganassi has been a long-time believer of diversity and gender equality in his race teams, which in addition to the NASCAR Cup Series, includes 3-cars in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and an upcoming entry in Extreme E in 2021.

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