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Denny Hamlin Edges Dale Earnhardt Jr. In eNASCAR Race At Virtual Homestead Miami Speedway

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NASCAR

Denny Hamlin edged Dale Earnhardt Jr to win Sunday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series opener at virtual Homestead Miami Speedway.

Earnhardt was leading going into the final turn but the pair got together in Turn 4 and Hamlin was able to get off the turn and down the front straightaway for the virtual victory.

“He was smart to kind of block the bottom there because the bottom lane at Homestead on iRacing just has tremendous more grip than what the lane I was running in, but I knew that the difference in the two lanes was about a tenth and a half to two tenths, and I thought my tires were about three tenths better,” said Hamlin.  “I thought as long as I got beside him, I was going to be able to complete it, even though he was in the preferred groove.”

“I think I probably gave Denny a little more room than I really wanted to, but I had to keep from crashing him or anybody else,” said Earnhardt Jr.  “I thought I might have been able to get a photo finish at the line, but we got together in [Turn] 4 and I about wrecked there.  But it was a fun race. Denny had better tires and he was just really, really fast, but it was a good race.’’

Timmy Hill, Chase Briscoe and pole-winner Garrett Smithley rounded out the top five.

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Rounding out the top 10 were Cup Series regulars Alex Bowman, Bubba Wallace and Ryan Preece. Gander Trucks driver Ty Majeski finished ninth followed by Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing Cup Series teammate Erik Jones in 10th.

Hamlin was pleased to see the racing community come together to put on a show for the fans.

“It was a great event,” said Hamlin.  “The thing is that nobody got together and said, Hey, let’s all do this.  I think everyone just started doing it, and then iRacing got involved and emailed everyone, said, ‘Hey, this is what we’re thinking about’.  NASCAR got involved, television got involved and said they’d be interested. So, I think it all just came together. But no one really talked to the drivers about unifying and participating. It was all free will, and that’s what’s exciting is you had 25-plus full-time Cup guys out there willing to spend their time doing this.”

Hamlin hopes the event and others that are planned attract some new fans to NASCAR.

“I think at one time it was No. 1 trending (on social media), so that’s really, really big,” said Hamlin.  You know, although NASCAR has its struggles at times, for the regular fan to go out and simulate a game-winning shot or game-winning pass, like iRacing has given them that platform, and there’s no other sport — like NBA players can’t go play NBA2K and put it on TV and make it look like the real thing. You can’t go play Madden and make it look like the real thing. There’s so much animation.  But iRacing’s platform, like we really — this is something that really can gain a lot of traction simply because it’s as real as it gets. I’m excited that this was just a first step and hopefully something that builds for years and years to come.”

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NASCAR

Chase Elliott Wins NASCAR Cup Series Championship

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AVONDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 08: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with his parents Cindy Elliott and NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Season Finale 500 and the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 08, 2020 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

AVONDALE, AZ (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Elliott knew he wanted to be a race car driver when he was growing up and on Sunday he followed in his Hall of Fame father Bill’s footsteps by winning the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Championship.

Elliott passed Joey Logano for the lead on lap 270 and powered to victory in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway to fulfill a lifelong dream.

“I’m not sure I could have sat down and drawn it up any better, you know?,” said Elliott. “So for me, it’s unbelievable. It’s something that I’m not sure — well, I know I haven’t let it sink in yet.”

Elliott, 24, started racing go-karts as a kid and slowly moved up the short track ranks when NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick signed him to a driver development deal at the age of 14.

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“Just so grateful for the opportunities and the things I’ve had over the years, great people,” said Elliott. “My mom (Cindy) and dad (Bill) and their support obviously has been from the beginning. Mr. Hendrick came in and really changed my life when he wanted to help. Not to sound like a NASCAR driver, but NAPA Auto Parts, too, coming in when they did. 2014 wouldn’t have happened without them and the championship that came that season. And man, they’ve been a champion partner for years. Now they have a championship to go with it.”

Elliott and his father Bill are just the third father-son duo to win NASCAR Championships, joining Lee and Richard Petty and Ned and Dale Jarrett.

“You know, heck, this is as big as it gets,” said Elliott. “I mean, my goodness. I mean, a champion in the Cup Series? Are you kidding me? It’s nuts. It’s absolutely nuts.”

Elliott’s championship came on the same day that 7-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson ran his last race, signaling a changing of the guard at Hendrick Motorsports.

“Certainly appreciate his support,” said Elliott. “He’s been a great support system this week. I’ve talked to him multiple times. He’s reached out on a couple occasions, which is very cool. Very thankful.  He’s a hero of mine. I think he’ll go down as the greatest to ever do this.”

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Austin Cindric Wins Race And NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship

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Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

AVONDALE, AZ (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Austin Cindric passed Justin Allgaier on the final lap of NASCAR overtime to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Desert Dimond Casino West Valley 200 at Phoenix Raceway and capture the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.

The victory was Cindric’s sixth of the season and his first in six starts at the one-mile Arizona speedway and his 100th NASCAR Xfinity Series start.

“This was an amazing effort by Brian Wilson and everybody back at the shop,” said Cindric. “There was a lot of work put into this Ford Mustang. I’ve got to thank Roger Penske and everyone from Team Penske plus the Menards family who put so much support into racing itself. It’s awesome to get them a championship in NASCAR, to be a champion in NASCAR, and do it in front of all these great people cheering us on at championship weekend. Thanks to Ford Performance, Doug Yates, and everybody at Roush Yates Engines. I’m speechless. I’m pretty humbled by the effort for sure.”

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Allgaier took the final green flag from the outside of the front row with Cindric behind him and Ross Chastain on the inside.  Allgaier’s teammate Noah Gragson was inside of Cindric.  Allgaier cleared Chastain with Cindric in tow coming off turn four.  Gragson was on the inside of Cindric and could have helped his teammate but elected to dive low heading into turn one.  That gave Cindric room to get around Allgaier, who was helpless to hold him off.

“I’m disappointed; this racetrack for me lost a lot when we put PJ1 down, and I felt like if we had been able to run the bottom like normal and not run stuck in that high groove, I felt like we definitely would have had the best car,” said Allgaier.  “So I’m disappointed in that, but at the end of the race today we were on old tires. I knew it was going to be sketchy at best. To be honest with you, to finish the race, it actually really surprises me that we were that close. Austin got that pass and ran through the middle of 3 and 4, and my teammate did a great job of trying to pull up and obviously race for the win. That’s what he needed to do. He needed to end the season strong. But I thought if he could have just got up a little bit in front of the 22 and been able to block that run, we may have had a little bit more of a shot, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Gragson finished second followed by Brandon Jones.  Michael Annett finished fourth followed by Allgaier.

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NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Championship Preview

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Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

AVONDALE, AZ (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – NASCAR’s Championship 4 Weekend gets started Friday night with the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series title fight.

Four drivers (Sheldon Creed, Grant Enfinger, Brett Moffitt and Zane Smith) are eligible for the Championship in the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Raceway.

Sheldon Creed (No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet):

  • Creed is tied for the series lead with 4-wins this season. Creed also has 8 top-five and 12 top-ten finishes.  Creed also has a series-high 11 stage wins. Creed locked himself into the Championship 4 with a victory at Texas Motor Speedway two weekends ago.  Creed has two NGOTS starts at Phoenix with a tenth place finish in 2018 and a 12th place finish in 2019 where he led 16-laps.
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Grant Enfinger (No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford):

  • Enfinger is tied with Creed for the series lead with 4-wins in 2020.  Enfinger also posted 8 top-five and 13 top-ten finishes this season to go along with a stage win. Enfinger locked himself into the Championship 4 with a win last week at Martinsville Speedway.  In three NGOTS starts at Phoenix Raceway, Enfinger has two top-five finishes (4th 2018; 5th 2019) and has led 10-laps (2018).

Brett Moffitt (No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet):

  • Moffitt has one win in 2020 (Kansas Speedway).  Moffitt has also posted 10 top-fives, and 15 top-tens, 2nd best in each category for the series.  Moffitt is looking to become just the fifth driver in series history to win multiple NGOTS championships, joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. (1996, 1998, 2007, 2009), Matt Crafton (2013, 2014, 2019), Jack Sprague (1997, 1999, 2001) and Todd Bodine (2006, 2010).  Moffitt has two series starts at Phoenix posting a win in 2018 en route to his championship and a 10th place finish in 2019.

Zane Smith (No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet):

  • Smith is looking to become just the second rookie to win the championship joining Erik Jones, who accomplished that feat in 2015.  Smith captured two wins, 6 top-fives and 12 top-tens in 2020.  Smith will be making his NGOTS debut this weekend at Phoenix.

The race starts at 8 p.m. ET on Friday.  Television coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on FS1.  The race can be heard on Motor Racing Network affiliates and on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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