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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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Allgaier untouchable, conquers heat for Xfinity Series victory at Nashville

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Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

LEBANON, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) — JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier captured his second win of the 2022 season under the sweltering western Tennessee sun Saturday afternoon. He led 134 of 188 laps in a dominating performance, beating Trevor Bayne to the line by 4.5 seconds.

AJ Allmendinger was Allgaier’s only real threat at any point of the race, starting on the front row and leading 48 laps spread over stage one and stage three. The race winner battled Ty Gibbs following a restart in the final stage, but Allgaier’s long run speed was too much for the JGR driver to overcome.

Following the race, Allgaier said that he didn’t think he’d ever driven a faster race car and was thrilled to finally take home the famous Nashville guitar trophy.

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“This guitar has been on my bucket list for a long, long time,” Allgaier said. “Today was for the dirt racers though. It was slick, it was hot, we were sliding around… That’s the best car I’ve ever had.”

Saturdays’ Xfinity race was a clean one, absent of any notable incidents. Gibbs and Sam Mayer got tangled up while near the front, but Gibbs saved his spinning Toyota, recovering and finishing fourth. Riley Herbst had on of his strongest performances of the year, finishing third. Mayer rounded out the top five in fifth.

The Xfinity series will make their way to Road America next Saturday, starting at 2:30 p.m. It will air on USA network, continuing NBC’s coverage for the rest of the season.

Xfinity Series result at Nashville

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Preece holds off competition, wins second straight at Nashville

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Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

LEBANON, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) — Ryan Preece was dominant Friday evening at Nashville Superspeedway, leading nearly half of the 150-lap race to capture his second consecutive Rackley Roofing 200. Preece, who drives part-time in the truck series, gave David Gilliland Racing their second consecutive win in the No. 17 Ford, while also notching his second career Truck Series victory in just eight starts.

Preece was forced to manage his tires fending off heavy pressure from points leader Zane Smith and the upstart Carson Hocevar. Smith looked to be dominant driving into turns one and two but would loose momentum exiting the second turn. Eventually he would battle Hocevar for second on the final lap, but the two chasers ran out of time. Preece bested the two young drivers by several car lengths.

Tensions rose with 25 laps-to-go between some of the veteran drivers and veteran drivers. Former NASCAR Cup Series driver Matt DiBenedetto’s Chevrolet on the inside of Grant Enfinger and Cory Heim on the backstretch when Ty Majeski suddenly dove to the inside, forcing the trucks four-wide heading into Turn 3. Inevitably the drivers ran out of room, sending Enfinger, Heim and DiBenedetto violently into the outside wall, ruining their top-ten bids.

The usually happy-go-lucky DiBenedetto was furious following the race, indicating his patience for the younger drivers in the Truck Series had run out.

“[It’s] stupidity,” DiBenedetto said describing Majeski’s dive to the inside. “I have no idea what some of the guys are thinking, to be honest, I don’t even have an answer. Some of these guys race with such disrespect… It’s more than conversation — one, it’s threaten them, two, just start crashing, just wreck them.”

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“It was the end of the race and everybody went crazy, just like always in these truck races,” Enfinger said.

Majeski ended up finishing the race in fourth with Stewart Friesen rounding out the top five.

Wexford, PA native Kris Wright put together one of his strongest results of the season, finishing 17th in the No. 44 Chevrolet

The Truck Series takes a one week break before racing at Mid-Ohio on July 9th.  Tickets are available at www.midohio.com.  The race starts at 1:30 p.m. and can been seen on FS1 and heard on Motor Racing Network affiliates and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90).

Truck Series results from Nashville

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Suarez captures first NASCAR Cup Series win at Sonoma

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Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

SONOMA, CA — Daniel Suarez is a NASCAR Cup Series winner after capturing the Toyota Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday by beating Chris Buescher by 3.849-seconds.

Suarez, the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity series championship, has been on four different Cup teams since winning that title six years ago and started 195 Cup Series races but since joining Trackhouse Racing in 2021 things started turning around the Mexican, who has been significantly more competitive than he’d been in his four previous seasons.

Suarez celebrated his victory by emphatically punching through a taco-shaped piñata — perhaps signifying a new celebration to rival his watermelon-smashing teammate Ross Chastain.

“I have so many thoughts in my head right now,” Suarez said. “It’s been a rough journey in the Cup Series, these guys believed in me, Trackhouse Racing, Justin Marks, Ty Norris. Everyone that helped me get to this point, a lot of people in Mexico… My family you know, they never gave up on me. A lot of people did but they didn’t. Very happy that we were able to make it work.”

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Suarez got off to a hot start, making his way up to fifth by the second lap of the race. Still, his climb to the lead was slow, hindered by quick Hendrick drivers Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott. As the race wore on, both frontrunners experienced problems, with Larson losing a wheel on the track and Elliott being punished with a crucial penalty on pit road.

In the closing stages of the race, Suarez and Buescher had proven themselves to be clear frontrunners, and were few seconds clear of the pack with less than 30 laps to go. Buescher would get close to Suarez multiple times, but was unable to ever make a move in the final hairpin corner. Eventually, Suarez’s long run speed prevailed, allowing him to lead 47 of 110 laps and win by almost four seconds.

Despite losing out to Suarez, Buescher’s second place finish was an impressive one — considering it was his first race since flipping at Charlotte then missing Gateway due to Covid-19. Michael McDowell put together one of his strongest starts of the year, finishing in third. Kevin Harvick and Austin Cindric rounded out the top five.

Fords and Chevy’s dominated the road course Sunday, with Kurt Busch being the highest finishing Toyota in eighteenth. The NASCAR Cup Series won’t race next week, and will resume racing at Nashville Superspeedway on Sunday, June 26 at 5 p.m. eastern. NBC will take over coverage for that race and the rest of the season.

 

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