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NASCAR

Hamlin Takes Controversial Win At Talladega

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Chris Graythen/Getty Images

TALLADEGA, AL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin captured the checkered flag in overtime at Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Hamlin narrowly beat Wood Brothers Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto by 0.086-seconds to win his 44th career win, which ties him with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott for 18th on the all-time Cup Series win list.

“We just played the strategy and the numbers game to run in the back until we were locked in,” said Hamlin.  “This one is unexpected to say the least, but proud of this whole FedEx team, Toyota and everyone at JGR for bringing great race cars.”

The victory did not come without some controversy.  Hamlin drove below the double yellow line in turn 4 passing both the No. 24 of William Byron and the No. 21 of DiBenedetto in the process.

NASCAR reviewed the finish and declared Hamlin the winner but five minutes later penalized DiBenedetto for forcing Byron below the yellow line.  DiBenedetto went from finishing 2nd to 21st.  The series also penalized the No. 9 of Chase Elliott for going below the double yellow line.

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An hour after the initial review and subsequent penalties, NASCAR rescinded the penalty to Elliott and penalized the No. 17 of Chris Buescher for forcing the No. 9 below the line.  The penalty dropped Buescher from 6th to 22nd.  Elliott was credited with a 5th place finish.

Ten minutes later NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller explained the sanctioning body’s position.

“It was pretty clear-cut,” said Miller.  “The 21 (DiBenedetto) hung a left, drove those guys (Byron and Hamlin) below the line.  We called that twice on the 22 (Joey Logano) car during the race, so nothing different there.  On the 24 (Byron) and the 11 (Hamlin) being down there, I mean, in our judgement there were down there to avoid a wreck.”

The revised Top-10 finishers were as follows:

  1. Hamlin
  2. Erik Jones
  3. Ty Dillon
  4. Byron
  5. Elliott
  6. Ryan Newman
  7. Tyler Reddick
  8. John Hunter Nemechek
  9. Brennan Poole
  10. Ryan Preece

The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series is the Bank of America ROVAL 400 on Sunday, October 11, 2020 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  It is the final race in the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs.

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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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NASCAR

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

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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