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.
Kevin Harvick wins NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan
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.”
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.
Racing Notebook: Pocono NASCAR Weekend approaching; INDYCAR in Toronto; PVGP hits the track and more
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.
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.
Chase Elliott wins at Atlanta
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.
“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.