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Kyle Busch Wins Phoenix Pole Position

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Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

AVONDALE, AZ (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch is on the pole position for today’s Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway outside Phoenix.

Busch’s fast lap of 25.693-seconds (140.116 mph) in the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry was .067-seconds faster than Team Penske’s Joey Logano (25.760-seconds, 139.752 mph), who will start second in the No. 22 Pennzoil Ford Mustang.

“Obviously a really good starting spot for us,” said Busch.  “Track position is a really big deal here and obviously No. 1 pit selection too.  Lots of things that can certainly help us fire off here to start the race.”

Busch’s teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr will line up side-by-side in row two after fast laps of 25.825 (139.394) and 25.839 (139.324) respectively.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson will start fifth in the No. 42 Clover Chevrolet after a fast lap of 25.855 (139.238).  Starting alongside Larson in the sixth position is Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott in the No. 9 NAPA Camaro (25.866, 139.179).

Truex is the only driver starting in the top 6 who is locked into NASCAR’s Championship 4 next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway by virtue of his win at Martinsville two weeks ago.

Busch, Logano, Hamlin, Larson and Elliott along with Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney are racing Sunday for the final two spots in the title fight.

Three Rivers Karting

The easiest way to make it into the Championship 4 is for one of the six remaining eligible drivers is to win like Truex did a few week ago and like Kevin Harvick did last week at Texas.  In this scenario, one driver will make it in via points.

If a non-playoff eligible driver wins at Phoenix then two drivers will make it into the Championship 4.

Busch and Logano enter the race currently above the points cutoff line, +22 and +20 respectively. Hamlin sits 20-points behind the cutoff.  Larson and Blaney sit 23-points behind the cutoff and Elliott sits 78-points below following mechanical issues at Martinsville and an accident at Texas.

Elliott is in a must-win situation.  Larson, Blaney and Hamlin could make it in on points but would need to score maximum points in the races stages and have the drivers ahead of them finish outside the points paying positions or have issues.

“Those guys behind us, we know they are going to awfully hungry,” said Busch.

The green flag for the race is at 2:30 p.m. ET and the race will be televised by NBC and can be heard on Motor Racing Network (MRN) affiliates and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Phoenix Starting Lineup

NASCAR Points After Texas

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NASCAR

Kevin Harvick wins NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan

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Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

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.”

Three Rivers Karting

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.

Michigan Cup Results

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IndyCar

Racing Notebook: Pocono NASCAR Weekend approaching; INDYCAR in Toronto; PVGP hits the track and more

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Pocono Raceway

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.
Three Rivers Karting

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.
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NASCAR

Chase Elliott wins at Atlanta

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Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

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.

Three Rivers Karting

“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.

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