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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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Hometown Boy Kurt Busch Wins In Las Vegas

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Chris Graythen/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS, NV (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch beat Matt DiBenedetto and Denny Hamlin in overtime to win Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The victory was Busch’s first at his hometown track in 23-starts and his first victory in 2020.

“This is what kids dream of when they go racing,” said Busch, who grew up racing on the ‘Bullring’ with his Dad and younger brother Kyle.  “You dream of winning at your hometown track and for two decades it’s kicked my butt and tonight with this Monster Energy Chevy, I’m in awe.”

Busch had to survive two late-race restarts to get the victory.  Busch got a fantastic restart with 12-laps to go and had a multi-car length lead when Christopher Bell cut a tire and slowed on the front stretch where Hendrick Motorsports William Byron crashed into Bell to bring out the caution with 7-laps to go, sending the race into overtime.

The last restart saw Busch get another great jump out front as DiBenedetto and Hamlin were battling for second place as the No. 1 Monster Energy Camaro raced to the checkered flag.

“I pulled out some drag racing skills on the restarts,” said Busch.  “I knew that was our strong suit.  I knew that was Ford’s weak suit.  We just put ourselves in position and we held them off.  Chip Ganassi was up in the suites somewhere and I could feel him breathing down my neck ‘I want to win’ and we did it.”

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The win also automatically advances Busch to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs giving him and the No. 1 Monster Energy/GEARWRENCH team a little bit of a buffer before the Playoff field is narrowed down to the Round of 4 after races at Talladega Superspeedway and ‘The Roval’ at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” said Busch. “It’s sinking in, no Talladega worries, no Roval worries but we’re still going there to get points.  We’re still going there to add up what we need to do to win this Championship.”

DiBenedetto held on for second place followed by Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman.

The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs move onto Talladega Superspeedway October 4, 2020.

Las Vegas Cup Results

NASCAR Cup Series Points

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Chase Briscoe Wins NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Las Vegas

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Chris Graythen/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS, NV (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Briscoe dominated the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff opener Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, punching his ticket to the second round.

Briscoe won all three stages and beat Noah Gragson on a late restart to win the Alsco 300.  The victory was Briscoe’s eighth of the season and 10th career win in 78 Xfinity Series starts.

“An unbelievable car,” said Briscoe, who led a race-high 164-laps. “That thing was on rails.  It was so easy to drive.  By far the best race car I’ve ever had.”

The victory gives Briscoe a 17-point lead over Austin Cindric in the Championship fight.  Cindric finished sixth.

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Gragson, a Las Vegas native, wanted to park his JR Motorsports Chevrolet in victory lane in front of the hometown crowd.

“It’s good to get points but it’s kind of frustrating,” said Gragson.  “We were all doing everything we could.  I was kind of the best of the rest.  The 98 (Briscoe) was so fast.”

The second place finish moved Gragson up a spot in the Championship standings, 34-points behind Briscoe and 17-points behind Cindric.

Daniel Hemric finished third followed by Justin Allgaier in fourth.  Ryan Sieg rounded out the Top 5.

The Xfinity Series title fight moves to Talladega Superspeedway on October 3, 2020.

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Austin Hill Wins NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Westgate 200

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Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS, NV (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Austin Hill grabbed the lead on a restart with 39-laps remaining and powered to the victory in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Westgate 200 Friday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Hill’s Weins Canada Toyota crossed the finish line 0.546-seconds ahead of Sheldon Creed, punching Hill’s ticket to the next round of the NASCAR Playoffs.

“We didn’t start the race where we wanted to after having a bad race at Bristol,” said Hill.  “Track position was huge today.  Seemed like back in the pack it was pretty hard to pass.  I knew when we were restarting up front there we had to get aggressive, and that’s what I did.”

Creed led a race-high 89 of the 134 laps but had to settle for second place after winning both the first and second stage of the race.

“Frustrating honestly,” Creed said of the runner-up finish.  “Way faster truck than him (Hill).  I feel like the pace picked up there at the end running the top.  He’d run half a truck off the wall and I’d run against the wall.  He’d slide up and I would get really tight or really loose behind him.  Just couldn’t do anything.”

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Creed did earn a race-high 55-points as well as 2-playoff points to help in the Championship fight.

Tanner Gray finished third followed by Stewart Friesen in fourth and Chandler Smith rounded out the Top 5.

The race featured four lead changes among four drivers.  Five caution flags for 25-laps slowed the average speed of the race to 119.861-seconds.

The next race for the Truck Series is October 3, 2020 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Las Vegas Truck Results

Truck Series Standings

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