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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

Denny Hamlin And Kevin Harvick Score NASCAR Cup Wins At Pocono Doubleheader

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Patrick Smith/Getty Images

LONG POND, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Denny Hamlin won Sunday’s Pocono 350, the second race of the NASCAR Cup Series Doubleheader Weekend at Pocono Raceway.

Hamlin beat Kevin Harvick by 3.068-seconds to pick up his fourth victory of 2020 and 41st of his Cup Series career.  Hamlin is now tied with NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon for the most wins all-time at “The Tricky Triangle” with six.

“It’s awesome,” said Hamlin.  “I think that’s the most wins I’ve got at any track now.  It’s hard to believe because we went through such a dry spell there kind of the middle of my career.  We’re doing a great job right now. Like I say, I hate to feel disappointed in a second and first. Man, I really feel like we should have won both races. Just didn’t work out.”

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Harvick won Saturday’s race, taking two tires on the final pit stop to grab the checkered flag from a track where he had never won.

“Everybody from Stewart-Haas Racing has done a great job,” said Harvick.  “We’ve had really fast cars every time we’ve come to Pocono, just hadn’t got to Victory Lane.”

The NASCAR Cup Series next event is the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a doubleheader with the NTT IndyCar Series.

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NASCAR

Ryan Blaney Edges Ricky Stenhouse To Win NASCAR Cup Race At Talladega

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Chris Graythen/Getty Images

TALLADEGA, AL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney picked up his first win of the season beating Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by a bumper at the rain-delayed Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Blaney and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones made contact on the front stretch, sending Jones into the outside wall as Blaney headed towards the checkered flag.

Inside of Blaney however was JTG Daugherty’s Stenhouse, who was leading hard charge of cars on the inside lane.  The pair crossed the Start/Finish line with Blaney prevailing by 0.007-seconds in a photo-finish.

“I just kind of blocked, just trying to block the best we could,” said Blaney.  “The 20 got to my outside and I tried to go up there to slow him down, I hate that I hit him, but just kind of trying to beat and bang to the line and things like that. We just edged it out, but I am really proud of this whole Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang team.”

Stenhouse finished second and said he did all he could to get to the front.

“The 20 had a good run,” said Stenhouse.  “Then they started banging fenders, slowing each other down.  I just kept on the throttle, was able to get close to the nose of the 12 there coming across the line.  All in all it was a solid day for us.”

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Stewart Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola finished third with his rear bumper crossing the Start/Finish line first as he was caught up in the Jones accident.

Denny Hamlin finished fourth followed by Jones who after hitting the wall crossed the line in fifth.

Talladega Cup Results

Prior to the race drivers and crew members surrounded Bubba Wallace’s No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet and pushed it to the front of the starting grid in a show of support after a noose was found in the RPM garage area on Sunday.

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – JUNE 22: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, and team owner, and NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty stand for the national anthem prior to the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22, 2020 in Talladega, Alabama. A noose was found in the garage stall of NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace at Talladega Superspeedway a week after the organization banned the Confederate flag at its facilities. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NASCAR President Steve Phelps said the FBI is investigating and that whoever is responsible for the action will be suspended for life from NASCAR.

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IndyCar

Chip Ganassi Condemns Noose Incident At Talladega

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Pittsburgh’s Chip Ganassi is condemning Sunday’s noose incident at Talladega Superspeedway.

Ganassi, who fields the No. 1 Monster Energy/Gearwrench Camaro driven by Kurt Busch and the No. 42 Credit One Bank/McDonald’s Chevrolet driven by Matt Kenseth in the NASCAR Cup Series, called the incident “horrific and completely reprehensible” and said now is the time to “rid NASCAR, and all sports, of these ignorant attitudes”.

Ganassi took to his Twitter feed to share those feelings.  Here’s the tweet:

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Ganassi had to do exactly what he tweeted about when he fired former driver Kyle Larson, who uttered a racial slur in an online racing event.

Ganassi’s team also showed their support for driver Bubba Wallace and his Richard Petty Motorsports team.  The noose was found in the RPM teams garage.

Ganassi has been a long-time believer of diversity and gender equality in his race teams, which in addition to the NASCAR Cup Series, includes 3-cars in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and an upcoming entry in Extreme E in 2021.

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