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Racing Notebook – Saturday February 8

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Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, leads Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 SiriusXM Toyota, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, and Erik Jones, driver of the #20 Sport Clips Toyota, during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway on February 08, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Speedweeks is underway at Daytona International Speedway where the NASCAR Cup Series cars took the track for Busch Clash and Daytona 500 practice.  Kevin Harvick isn’t having up his helmet anytime soon.  The ARCA Menards Series cars were also on the track as they started their series on the high-banks.  The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Sprint Cars continued their weekend of racing at Volusia Speedway Park.

Erik Jones Fastest In Busch Clash Practice:

  • The NASCAR Cup Series cars eligible for the Busch Clash took to the high-banks of Daytona International Speedway for their one and only practice.  Erik Jones led a 1-2-3-4 sweep for Joe Gibbs Racing by posting the fastest lap at 45.055-seconds (199.756 MPH) in the No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota.  Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney had the fastest 10-consecutive lap average (195.837) in the No. 12 Menards/Peak Ford.  Here are the complete  Busch Clash Practice results.

Kevin Harvick Signs Extension With Stewart Haas Racing:

  • Kevin Harvick told reporters in Daytona that he has signed a 2-year extension that will keep him at Stewart Haas Racing through the 2023 season.  Harvick’s current deal was set to expire at the end of 2021.  Harvick said he is scaling back his radio and television commitments this year to focus on racing and his family.  Harvick also said the timing of the contract finishing in 2023 will coincide with NASCAR’s next television contract should he decide to transition from the behind the wheel to behind the camera. “Really, that timing works well for me from a media standpoint, just because of the fact that you have a TV contract that’s coming up, you’ll know who the players are and I think at that particular point, you’ll have a fair amount of experience in the new car,” said Harvick.  “You’ll hopefully have been through the engine change, the vehicle change. So there were a number of things that go along with that.”

Brad Sweet Grabs World of Outlaws Win At Volusia Speedway Park:

  • Brad Sweet beat Kasey Kahne Racing teammate James McFadden by 1.573 seconds to win Saturday night’s World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint car feature at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville Florida.  Sweet was fortunate to make it victory lane after he made contact with Ian Madsen in a wicked accident on lap 7 (below).  Aliquippa’s Tim Shaffer didn’t even complete a lap after suffering contact and flipping in the middle of turns 3 and 4 on the race’s first lap.
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Michael Self Takes ARCA Win At Daytona:

  • Michael Self beat Hailie Deegan to the checkered flag to win Saturday’s Lucas Oil 200 Presented by General Tire ARCA Menards Series Race at Daytona International Speedway.  Self started from the pole in the Venturini Motorsports Toyota and led 60-of-80-laps to pick up his second Lucas Oil 200 victory.  Drew Dollar finished third.  “To start this year off like this is unbelievable,” said Self.  “I can’t give enough credit to the team.  To have our cars finish first and third is unbelievable”.

Hailie Deegan Finishes 2nd In ARCA Race At Daytona:

  • DGR Crosley Racing’s Hailie Deegan finished a career-best second in the Lucas Oil 200 Presented by General Tire ARCA Menards Series Race at Daytona.  Deegan started 7th in the No. 4 Monster Energy Ford as she runs for the Rookie of the Year title.  “Coming into this race, first goal was to finish,” said the 18-year-old Deegan.  “Second goal was top three to top five, I would’ve been ecstatic.  To come out here and finish second, runner-up, nothing could’ve been better for me.  Obviously every driver wants to win but this was a victory for me.”
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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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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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