DARLINGTON, SC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Denny Hamlin grabbed his second win of 2020 Wednesday night winning the rain-shortened Toyota 500 NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.
Hamlin’s No. 11 FedEx Toyota crossed the finish line under caution ahead of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, who finished 2nd in the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota.
The win was the 39th career NASCAR Cup Series victory for Hamlin, who started 16th and led only once for 12-laps.
“We made really good adjustments between the two races, really worked hard to get our car a little bit better than what it was here on Sunday,” said Hamlin. “I just love the racetrack. It’s one of my favorites, certainly in my top two or three. I think it’s a driver’s racetrack.”
Busch finished second but not without controversy. Busch and Hamlin were racing for the lead following a late restart when Chase Elliott, running third, chose to follow Hamlin on the high-side of the race track with Kevin Harvick in close pursuit. Busch tried to squeeze up into line between the No. 9 Chevy and the No. 4 Ford, but he did not have enough room and ended up clipping Elliott’s left rear, turning NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver and sending him into the inside wall and to a 39th place finish.
Kyle Busch sends Chase Elliott around at Darlington. pic.twitter.com/XQMGSBrtP5
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) May 21, 2020
“If you get stuck on the bottom, you’re screwed, going to lose a bunch of positions,” said Hamlin. “You have to be on the top or else you’re screwed, unless somebody messes up. It’s just a tough track when it comes to the restarts.”
Busch, who drove for Hendrick Motorsports and Crew Chief Alan Gustafson when he broke into the Cup Series as a rookie, took to Twitter after the race to say he simply made a mistake.
I want to apologize again to Chase & his team. I made a mistake & misjudged the gap. I really hate that it happened for those guys. I have too much respect for Chase and Alan to do that maliciously.
— Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) May 21, 2020
Stewart Haas Racing’s Harvick finished third in the No. 4 Mustang followed by Team Penske‘s Brad Keselowski in the No. 2 Pirtek Mustang. Hamlin and Busch’s teammate Eric Jones rounded out the Top 5.
Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Kurt Busch finished 15th in the No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet and his teammate Matt Kenseth finished 30th after cutting a tire and brining out a caution on Lap 180. Busch finished third and Kenseth 10th this past Sunday.
The weather and shorter distance may have had something to do with a sense of urgency there seemed to be from the drop of the green flag as the race featured 17-lead changes among 13-drivers. The race was slowed by 11-caution flags for 54-laps.
The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series is the Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 24th.
Top 5 Finish For Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch At Charlotte
Busch started 14th in the No. 1 Monster Energy Camaro and quickly raced into the Top 10, finishing eighth at the end of the races first stage.
Busch’s Crew Chief Matt McCall and crew adjusted on the car making it a little bit better and Busch brought it home sixth at the end of the races second stage.
The races third and final stage saw Busch battling with veterans Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick in the top 10 with Busch prevailing by the end of the race.
The Top 5 finish leaves Busch sitting in tenth place in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship points standings.
— Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) May 29, 2020
Busch’s CGR teammate Matt Kenseth had a tough night behind the wheel of the No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet.
In the races first stage, Kenseth cut a tire in turn 4 and spun onto pit road. Ironically just in front of him Keselowski cut down a tire and was almost stopped up along the turn 4 wall so apparently there was debris at that end of the track that affected both cars.
Kenseth and Crew Chief Chad Johnston were playing catch-up from that point on. Kenseth pitted for new tires and lost a lap a lap in the process.
Kenseth returned to the track and kept digging, eventually finishing in 23rd place, the first car one-lap down.
Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott picked up the victory. The win was Elliott’s 7th career victory and first of 2020.
The NASCAR Cup Series has a quick turnaround as they head to Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 31, 2020.
Chase Elliott Gets NASCAR Cup Win Thursday Night At Charlotte
CONCORD, NC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Elliott had a chance to grab victories in both NASCAR Cup races since the Series returned from the COVID-19 shutdown, but fate denied the Hendrick Motorsports driver the wins.
Thursday night Elliott and the No. 9 team took care of business winning the Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Elliott beat Joe Gibbs Racing‘s Denny Hamlin to the checkered flag by 2.208-seconds to pick-up his 7th career Cup Series win in 157-starts.
“We battled hard and finally got our car good enough there at the end,” said Elliott. “I’m not sure that we had it exactly perfect, but the guys did a great job making good adjustments and good pit stops there to put us in a position. Finally good to get a Kelley Blue Book win. That’s our first win together, so hopefully many more.”
It could’ve been two-in-a-row for Elliott if a caution flag would not have flown a lap and-a-half from the end of Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott was leading when the caution came out. Crew Chief Alan Gustafson called Elliott to pit road for new tires while eight lead-lap cars stayed out, including eventual winner Brad Keselowski.
“I feel like we were in a lose-lose position there on Sunday, so it’s not his fault that the caution came out with two laps to go, and when you’re in a position like that you have to make a decision and stick with it,” said Elliott. “I’m not going to question him. I don’t fault him. It’s not his fault. It’s just one of those things where you’ve got to make a gut call and go with it, and heck, we drove back to third.”
Elliott started Thursday’s race in the 19th spot and drove to a 9th place finish in the races first stage. The No. 9 Kelly Blue Book team made adjustments during the subsequent pit stop and Elliott raced to a fourth place finish in the second stage. Elliott says that hard work needs to continue.
“We’re still very early in the year, and I challenge all of the people at HMS, myself, the road crew, the pit crews to stay hungry because the season is very long, a lot of racing left, and we just need to keep pushing,” said Elliott. “No reason to get content right now.”
Team Penske‘s Ryan Blaney finished third followed by JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in fourth. Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Kurt Busch rounded out the top 5 in the No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet.
Quick turnaround for the Cup Series as the next race is Sunday, May 31 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“500 laps at Bristol is a really physical event,” said Elliott. “We’ve raced a lot throughout this week. I’m tired, and I want to rest tomorrow and Saturday and get ready to go. It’s going to be a tough one on Sunday, especially in the afternoon.”
Chase Elliott Wins NASCAR Truck Race At Charlotte, Wins $100K “Bounty”
Elliott held off Kyle Busch by .627-seconds to pick up his first truck series win since 2017 and to beat Busch, who had won each of his last seven previous truck series starts prompting the “bounty”.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Elliott. “First off, a thanks to (sponsors) iRacing and Hooters, Chevrolet and GMS (Racing) for letting me come do this. (The truck) was really good from the get-go, for having no laps (of practice).”
Busch, who had to come from the back of the pack twice due to long pit stops, finished second.
“He was a little better than I was there at the end,” said Elliott. “I got tight. And I think he burned out his stuff pretty hard trying to get to me.”
The victory was sweet for Elliott, who was taken out of the Cup Series race at Darlington last week after Busch made contact with his No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro sending it into the inside wall.
“It doesn’t make up for Sunday but it was still a really good night,” said Elliott. “Glad to win and glad to do some good for the relief effort for this virus.”
The $100,000 “bounty” came from NASCAR Cup Series Driver Kevin Harvick and Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis, who each put up $50K to any Cup Series regular who could beat Busch in a Truck Series event. The “bounty” will go to the coronavirus relief effort of Elliott’s choice.
Elliott’s GMS Racing teammate Zane Smith finished third in his first national-series start at Charlotte. Brett Moffitt was fourth and Sheldon Creed fifth. John Hunter Nemechek, also trying for the bounty, ran sixth, followed by Johnny Sauter, Ty Majeski, Austin Hill and Ben Rhodes rounded out the top 10.
BUSCH EDGES HEMRIC AND CINDRIC FOR XFINITY WIN
Kyle Busch passed Austin Cindric in turn three for the lead on the last lap of NASCAR overtime to win Monday’s Alsco 300 Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Cindric passed Busch on the restart to take the lead but the veteran rallied on the white flag lap building his momentum for the turn three move.
Cindric lost his momentum and eventually second place to Daniel Hemric. Cindric finished third.
The win was Busch’s 97th Xfinity Series victory.
Chip Ganassi Racing development driver Ross Chastain finished fourth followed by Justin Allgaier in fifth. Brett Moffitt, Michael Annett, Brandon Brown, Harrison Burton and Myatt Snider rounded out the top 10.