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Denny Hamlin Wins Mid-Week NASCAR Cup Series Race At Darlington

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Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

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.

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“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.

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.

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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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