HOMESTEAD, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – NASCAR Championship weekend hits South Florida as all three NASCAR Touring Series will crown Champions.
This Sunday, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. along with Stewart Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick will be fighting for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Title. Busch, Truex and Harvick will be going for their second titles while Hamlin is still seeking his first.
“I think one race, winner take all, anything can happen,” said Hamlin. “I mean, if you have a mechanical failure on lap 25, does that mean you’re not good enough? You made the final four. Making the final four is the culmination of your whole year. That is what deems your year a success. You made it to Homestead.”
Truex is the most recent Champion fighting for his second title. Truex won his first Championship, holding off Kyle Busch by .681-seconds, to win in 2017 when he drove for the now-defunct Furniture Row Racing.
“It’s amazing to be here having another opportunity at a championship,” said Truex. “I still have a hard time believing I’ve already got one, let alone here we are with a really, really good chance I feel like at a second. I can’t imagine the names of the list I would be on with those others. Still blows my mind. I’m pretty jacked up about it. Hopefully we can get it done.”
Kyle Busch captured his first Championship in 2015 after missing the first 11-races due to a broken right leg and a fractured left foot.
“Obviously with 2015 and being able to come out as a champion that was the greatest achievement,” said Busch. “You set your goal out for the beginning of the year and everybody’s goal there is to always just get to Homestead, and if we’re eligible for Homestead, then we can go after that championship. So I always look at it though as we want to be able to go out and win the championship. So for us to be eligible five years in a row I think is a pretty cool thing, but to come out with one of four is not so cool.”
Harvick is five years removed from his first Championship in 2014 and, like Busch, has qualified five times.
“It’s hard to get here,” said Harvick. “I know that we have been able to do that five times now, but the Playoffs are difficult now. It’s difficult to go through all those eliminations and different racetracks and have everything work out. So you just, this will be the fifth time here and we have only won once and so it’s definitely something that we would love to do again. This is what we race for.”
Joe Gibbs has a 75% chance of tasting the champagne in victory lane and his former driver, Tony Stewart, has a 25% of being the winning car owner.
“The thing that I love about our sport which is totally different than any other sport really, you’ve got four teams that have to work together in order to get here,” said Gibbs. “But once you’re here, this is each one of those guys, this is their chance to win a championship for their sponsor and everybody that’s following them. And so each one of our guys are geared up. They want to win this, each one of them for a different reason. Denny has never won one, and so it’s a big deal for us.”
“It’s what the goal of every organization is at the beginning of the year is to go out and win races, win big races and contend for a championship and try to win a championship at the end of the season,” said Stewart. “To get one in, I mean, that’s definitely our goal. Our goal is obviously to be in the scenario Joe is in and have multiple cars in, but it is, it’s tough.”
The green flag for the Ford EcoBoost 400 drops on Sunday at 3 p.m. The race will be televised by NBC starting at 2 p.m. and can be heard on the radio on Motor Racing Network affiliates and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series crowns their Champion on Saturday. JR Motorsports Justin Allgaier, Gibbs Christopher Bell, Stewart Haas Cole Custer and Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick are in the Championship 4.
Reddick is the defending series champion and is looking to become just the seventh driver all-time to win back-to-back titles. Allgaier, Custer and Bell are attempting to win their first Xfinity Series titles.
The Ford EcoBoost 300 takes place Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised by NBCSN and can be heard on Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR radio.
The NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series is racing Friday night. Niece Motorsports Ross Chastain, ThorSport Racing’s Matt Crafton, Halmar Friesen Racing’s Stewart Friesen and GMS Racing’s Brett Moffitt are battling for the title.
Crafton is a two-time series Champion (2013 & 2014) and Moffitt is the defending series Champion. Chastain and Friesen are going for their first titles.
The green flag for the Ford EcoBoost 200 drops Friday night at 8 p.m. The race will be televised by FS1 and can be heard on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
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.