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NASCAR

NASCAR Championship Weekend At Homestead-Miami Speedway

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Sean Gardner/Getty Images

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.”

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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.

NASCAR

Timmy Hill Wins eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational At Virtual Texas Motor Speedway

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NASCAR Media

Timmy Hill took home the victory Sunday in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 at virtual Texas Motor Speedway in the second event of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.

Hill’s “bump and run” moved leader William Byron off the low groove with three laps to go and put Hill out front but he still had to hold off fellow NASCAR Cup Series drivers Ryan Preece and Garrett Smithley following a green-white-checkerd to get the win.

“I told myself, ‘If I have a chance to win any race, NASCAR, short track level, if it came down to it, that’s what I would do'”, Hill said.  “It doesn’t change because it was iRacing. That’s what I would do in real life.  Going forward, I’m sure William isn’t happy about it.  “I’m sure he’ll do the same back to me.”

Byron, driver of the No. 24 for Hendrick Motorsports, led 80-laps and wound up seventh.

Preece and Smithley finished second and third followed by Landon Cassill in fourth and Alex Bowman, who rounded out the Top 5.

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Hill’s home iRacing set-up is almost a parallel to his under-funded Cup Series team.

“My wheel is a 10-year-old wheel, paid 300 bucks for that,” said Hill.  “My desk, I bought that at Black Friday, Office Depot.  $75 bucks for that.  We have a hundred bucks in my chair.  The most expensive thing I have is my computer. It’s a gaming computer. Probably cost me $1,400. That’s probably the most expensive part of my little rig here.  The thing with my computer is I use it for everything.  I use it for my taxes, my business. It’s not just solely a gaming computer.  I have other things I do with it.”

The win also gives racers like Hill something that his and his team doesn’t typically receive in a regular NASCAR race.

“For me personally, what I’ll gain from this is recognition,” said Hill.  “For us, it’s hard to get that recognition because of the level of competition that we are in real life.  We’re doing our best.  Frankly, we just don’t have the money, the dollars, to compete at a high level. This win will hopefully gain some recognition and attract more sponsors for us maybe in the real world when we get back racing because they know Timmy Hill from iRacing, from FOX, from this invitational.”

The next eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational will be Sunday, April 5 at 1:00 p.m. ET from virtual Bristol Motor Speedway.

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IndyCar

Chip Ganassi Racing Begins “Best Paint Scheme” Contest

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Ford Motor Company

CONCORD, NC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing is starting a cool contest where fans can pick the “Best Paint Scheme” that has appeared on one of the CGR cars over the 30-year history of the organization.

The contest started Wednesday on Twitter and features 32-paint schemes that have appeared on the teams NASCAR, INDYCAR and IMSA race cars.

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Fans can vote on their favorites in a bracket style elimination tournament where one paint scheme will be crowned the winner.

Cars involved include some favorites driven by Scott Dixon, Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sterling Marlin, Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch, Scott Pruitt, Felix Rosenqvist, Memo Rojas, Steve Arpin, Jamie McMurray, Joey Hand, Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe and Dirk Mueller.

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NASCAR

Denny Hamlin Edges Dale Earnhardt Jr. In eNASCAR Race At Virtual Homestead Miami Speedway

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NASCAR

Denny Hamlin edged Dale Earnhardt Jr to win Sunday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series opener at virtual Homestead Miami Speedway.

Earnhardt was leading going into the final turn but the pair got together in Turn 4 and Hamlin was able to get off the turn and down the front straightaway for the virtual victory.

“He was smart to kind of block the bottom there because the bottom lane at Homestead on iRacing just has tremendous more grip than what the lane I was running in, but I knew that the difference in the two lanes was about a tenth and a half to two tenths, and I thought my tires were about three tenths better,” said Hamlin.  “I thought as long as I got beside him, I was going to be able to complete it, even though he was in the preferred groove.”

“I think I probably gave Denny a little more room than I really wanted to, but I had to keep from crashing him or anybody else,” said Earnhardt Jr.  “I thought I might have been able to get a photo finish at the line, but we got together in [Turn] 4 and I about wrecked there.  But it was a fun race. Denny had better tires and he was just really, really fast, but it was a good race.’’

Timmy Hill, Chase Briscoe and pole-winner Garrett Smithley rounded out the top five.

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Rounding out the top 10 were Cup Series regulars Alex Bowman, Bubba Wallace and Ryan Preece. Gander Trucks driver Ty Majeski finished ninth followed by Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing Cup Series teammate Erik Jones in 10th.

Hamlin was pleased to see the racing community come together to put on a show for the fans.

“It was a great event,” said Hamlin.  “The thing is that nobody got together and said, Hey, let’s all do this.  I think everyone just started doing it, and then iRacing got involved and emailed everyone, said, ‘Hey, this is what we’re thinking about’.  NASCAR got involved, television got involved and said they’d be interested. So, I think it all just came together. But no one really talked to the drivers about unifying and participating. It was all free will, and that’s what’s exciting is you had 25-plus full-time Cup guys out there willing to spend their time doing this.”

Hamlin hopes the event and others that are planned attract some new fans to NASCAR.

“I think at one time it was No. 1 trending (on social media), so that’s really, really big,” said Hamlin.  You know, although NASCAR has its struggles at times, for the regular fan to go out and simulate a game-winning shot or game-winning pass, like iRacing has given them that platform, and there’s no other sport — like NBA players can’t go play NBA2K and put it on TV and make it look like the real thing. You can’t go play Madden and make it look like the real thing. There’s so much animation.  But iRacing’s platform, like we really — this is something that really can gain a lot of traction simply because it’s as real as it gets. I’m excited that this was just a first step and hopefully something that builds for years and years to come.”

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