FONTANA, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – It’s very rare in modern day NASCAR that one car is the fastest through two practice sessions. It’s even more rare when that car is the fastest in consecutive lap average. Alex Bowman and the No. 88 Cincinnati Chevrolet were exactly that and won Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 to cap off a dominating weekend.
“I don’t know that we’ve changed anything since we unloaded off the truck, so that really comes down to a lot of great preparation in the shop, (Crew Chief) Greg (Ives) making really good decisions with our package that we brought here this year,” said Bowman, who led 110-of-200-laps en route to his second career Cup Series Victory. “This is a place we’ve struggled at for the last two years, so for him to be able to unload that close, really the last two weeks in a row, makes my job much easier. We can really fine tune the car throughout practice instead of having to make huge changes. It’s really been our probably best couple practices the last two years that I’ve been driving for HMS, and I just attribute that to the hard work in the shop and great work over the off-season.”
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch finished second in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry. Busch started 17th and worked his way into the top ten by finishing tenth in the race’s first stage. Busch managed to keep his car in the top ten in the ensuing laps, working his way up to seventh by the end of the race’s second stage. Busch battled into the top five during the races final stage.
“The Interstate Batteries Camry wasn’t a second-place car, but thankfully we got a good finish out of here, we tried to get some points,” said Busch on pit road following the race. “We’ve just got to get a little bit better. We finished the end of last year so strong, I don’t know what we’re missing here, but obviously it’s a little bit of something here or there, maybe a little bit of something in a few different areas, but overall, good car today”.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch finished third in the No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet Camaro after starting the race fourth.
“All weekend the car just had a good vibe to it, the way it unloaded and the way we made small changes on our Monster Energy Chevy, I was really proud of this effort,” said Busch.
Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott finished fourth in the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet. Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski rounded out the Top 5 in the No. 2 America’s Tire Ford.
The race featured 16-lead changes among eight drivers and was slowed by 3-caution flags for 13-laps.
The next NASCAR Cup Series race is March 8, 2020 at Phoenix Raceway.
Final 3 NASCAR Cup Series Championship Spots To Be Determined This Weekend At Martinsville
MARTINSVILLE, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Joey Logano is locked into the NASCAR Cup Series Championship November 8 at Phoenix Raceway. The other three spots are up for grabs and will be decided this Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. Here is a breakdown on the contenders:
Kevin Harvick/Stewart Haas Racing:
- Harvick sits 42-points above the cut line going into the Xfinity 500. Harvick can clinch a spot with a win or if there is a new winner Harvick would clinch by being 37-points ahead of the third winless driver. If there is a repeat winner, Harvick would need to be 14-points ahead of the fourth winless driver. Harvick has one win (2011), five Top 5’s and 19 top 10’s at the half-mile track.
Denny Hamlin/Joe Gibbs Racing:
- Hamlin enters Martinsville 27-points above the 5th place cut line. Hamlin clinches with a win or if there is a new winner he would need to be 53-points ahead for the third winless driver. If there is a repeat winner Hamlin would clinch with 29-points. Hamlin has the best record of any playoff driver at Martinsville with 5-wins (spring 2008, 2009 playoffs, 2010 sweep, spring 2015), 15 top 5’s and 21 top 10’s.
Brad Keselowski/Team Penske:
- Keselowski currently sits in the fourth and final spot, 25-points above the cut line. Keselowski can clinch with a win or if there is a new winner he would need to finish 55-points ahead of the third winless driver. If there is a repeat winner, he would need to finish 31-points ahead of the fourth winless driver. Keselowski has 2-wins (spring 2017, spring 2019) at Martinsville along with 10 top 5’s and 15 top 10’s.
Alex Bowman/Hendrick Motorsports:
- Bowman sits fifth in the points, 25-points out of the fourth and final spot. Bowman can clinch with a win and would need a significant amount of help to try to make it in on points. Bowman has nine career starts at Martinsville with a career-best finish of sixth that he posted earlier this season. Bowman also has two 10’s at the paper clip shaped track.
Chase Elliott/Hendrick Motorsports:
- Elliott is tied with Bowman, 25-points below the cut line. The second-generation driver from Georgia has three top 5’s and 5 top 10’s in ten career starts. Elliott finished fifth at Martinsville this past June.
Martin Truex Jr./Joe Gibbs Racing:
- Truex finds himself 36-points behind the Championship 4 despite his second place finish at Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday. Truex is also in a must-win situation but has won the last two races at the Virginia half-mile so he feels good about his chances. Truex has seven top 5’s and 13 top 10’s in 29-career starts.
Kurt Busch/Chip Ganassi Racing:
- Busch is in the eighth and final spot and obviously needs to win to advance since he is 81-points behind the Championship 4. Busch has 2-wins (2006 playoffs, 2017 playoffs), 3 top 5’s and 8 top 10’s in 40-career starts. Busch’s situation allows him and the No. 1 Monster Energy/Gearwrench team to off-strategy in search of the victory. Busch finished ninth at Martinsville earlier this year.
The race starts at 2 p.m. on Sunday with coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET. The race will be televised by NBC and can be heard on Motor Racing Network affiliates and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Kyle Busch Wins Rain-Delayed NASCAR Cup Race At Texas Motor Speedway
FORT WORTH, TX (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch is back in victory lane after winning the rain-delayed NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday.
Busch beat teammate Martin Truex Jr. by .486-seconds to pick up his first win of 2020 and 57th of his Cup Series Career.
“We haven’t been the best on mile-and-a-half’s this year but we’ve been working on it and strategizing on things that we can do to improve and it was nice to see some of that in that fruit pay off tonight,” said Busch.
Crew Chief Adam Stevens decided to make a strategy call and had Busch stretch his fuel mileage following the last pit stop to keep the No. 18 up front.
“We had to save fuel that entire last stage,” said Busch. “The beginning of the final stage, we were saving fuel there towards the end once Bowyer had to pit, and then after the pit stop, the entirety after the final pit stop I was saving fuel, as well, too. So there was a lot on my mind and things that we were trying to do and accomplish, obviously, with trying to stretch it.”
Truex meanwhile was full throttle trying to catch and pass Busch for the win, a win that would automatically put Truex into the Championship final in two weeks at Phoenix. Busch was eliminated from the NASCAR Playoffs a few weeks ago.
“A second place finish kind of gets overshadowed by not winning, and that’s unfortunate for our team and everybody involved in our team because they did a great job and worked really hard,” said Truex. “I felt like we had pretty much a flawless race. Just needed a tiny little bit more speed or a little bit more luck out there at the end with the 18 and fuel-wise.”
Truex is now in a must-win position this weekend at Martinsville Speedway if the No. 19 team wants to advance to the Championship finale.
“A must-win at any track, no matter how good you’ve been there in the past, I think is a challenge,” said Truex. “We’ve got to work hard this week to make sure we’re prepared. I know the guys have already been doing that, so definitely optimistic. It’s a good track for us, but it’s a short track and a lot can happen on restarts and things. We’ll go there and do the best job we can.”
Truex isn’t the only driver who is in a must-win situation heading into Martinsville. Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch are also currently below the cut-off to be eligible for the Championship based on points.
Racing Notebook: Power Wins Grand Prix Of St. Pete Pole; Burton Wins At Texas; Robb Wins Indy Pro 2000
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Will Power wins the pole position for the INDYCAR race at St. Petersburg plus Harrison Burton wins the NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at Texas Motor Speedway; Road To Indy Winners and Carvana partners with Jimmie Johnson and Chip Ganassi Racing for their 2021 INDYCAR effort.
Will Power Wins INDYCAR Pole At St. Pete:
- Team Penske’s Will Power is on the pole position for Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Power’s fast lap of 1-minute, 1.0369-seconds (106.165 mph) was 0.14-seconds faster than Andretti Autosports Alexander Rossi (01:01:1730/105.929 mph) in the third and final round of knockout-style qualifying. Championship contenders Josef Newgarden will start eighth and Scott Dixon will start eleventh after failing to advance past the second round. The green flag drops at 2:30 p.m. on NBC. St. Pete Starting Lineup
Harrison Burton Wins NASCAR Xfinity Series Race At Texas:
- Joe Gibbs Racing’s Harrison Burton took home the victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday. The victory was Burton’s third this season. JR Motorsports Noah Gragson finished second followed by Richard Childress Racing’s Anthony Alfredo. Team Penske’s Austin Cindric finished fourth. Points leader Chase Briscoe finished 24th. Xfinity Texas Results Xfinity Drivers Points
Sting Ray Robb Wins At St. Pete:
- Juncos Racing’s Sting Ray Robb wired the field in Saturday’s Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by Cooper Tires. Robb, who started on the pole position, quickly pulled out to a 1.2-second lead and never looked back. “That was a hard race, even though I was leading the whole way. The team set a goal for me to hold a certain lap time and I did, until I saw Danial starting to catch me. I started pushing harder and set the quick race lap time, bettering my own race record from last year. Two lap records in one day here, that’s pretty special!” Danial Frost finished second followed by Robb’s teammate Artem Petrov. Robb will also start on the pole in Sunday’s season finale. Colin Kaminsky, the goalie for the University of Pittsburgh hockey team, finished ninth. indypro2000-race-results-r1
Porto Grabs USF 2000 Victory At St. Pete:
- Kiko Porto claimed a well-deserved maiden Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship victory Saturday afternoon in the USF2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Andersen RacePark. Eduardo Barrichello finished in second place for Pabst Racing with Reece Gold taking third for Cape Motorsports.
Carvana Partners With Jimmie Johnson & Chip Ganassi Racing:
- Carvana, the nations leading online auto retailer, is partnering with Jimmie Johnson and Chip Ganassi Racing for Johnson’s 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES campaign. Johnson will run the No. 48 Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing Honda on the road and street course. Ganassi told Pittsburgh Racing Now he plans to enter the car in all of the races but the driver has yet to be determined.