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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An hour after the initial review and subsequent penalties, NASCAR rescinded the penalty to Elliott and penalized the No. 17 of Chris Buescher for forcing the No. 9 below the line.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

Kyle Busch Wins Rain-Delayed NASCAR Cup Race At Texas Motor Speedway

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Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

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.

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“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.

Texas Cup Series Results

Drivers Points After Texas

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IndyCar

Racing Notebook: Power Wins Grand Prix Of St. Pete Pole; Burton Wins At Texas; Robb Wins Indy Pro 2000

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Joe Skibinski

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
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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:

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NASCAR

NASCAR Reinstates Kyle Larson

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DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – NASCAR is reinstating driver Kyle Larson after suspending him for violating rules this past spring.  He will be eligible to compete in NASCAR sanctioned events beginning January 1, 2021.

Larson was suspended indefinitely on April 13 for violating Sections 12.1 (General Procedures) and 12.8 (NASCAR Member Conduct Guidelines) of the NASCAR Rule Book.

During an online iRacing event on April 12, Larson used a racial slur while attempting to take with his spotter on a private channel.  It turned out that Larson was speaking on a public channel and everyone heard him, including the online audience.

Chip Ganassi Racing fired Larson on April 14 from his duties as driver of the No. 42 Credit One Bank/McDonald’s Chevrolet.  Matt Kenseth was hired to complete the 2020 season.  Ross Chastain will drive the car in 2021.

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NASCAR ordered Larson to attend sensitivity training as a condition of reinstatement and is going to require him to fulfill additional requirements in order to keep his NASCAR membership current.

“NASCAR continues to prioritize diversity and inclusion across our sport,” NASCAR said in a statement. “Kyle Larson has fulfilled the requirements set by NASCAR, and has taken several voluntary measures, to better educate himself so that he can use his platform to help bridge the divide in our country. Larson’s indefinite suspension has been lifted. Under the terms of his reinstatement, he will be cleared to return to all NASCAR racing activities effective January 1, 2021.”

Last week Larson sat down with CBS Sports James Brown for his first televised interview and detailed some of the work he has been doing behind the scenes to educate himself following his remarks this spring.

Larson has six victories in 223 NASCAR Cup Series starts. He joined the circuit full-time in 2014 with Ganassi’s operation.

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