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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

Kevin Harvick wins NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan

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Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

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.”

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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.

Michigan Cup Results

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IndyCar

Racing Notebook: Pocono NASCAR Weekend approaching; INDYCAR in Toronto; PVGP hits the track and more

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Pocono Raceway

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.
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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.
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NASCAR

Chase Elliott wins at Atlanta

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Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

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.

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“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.

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