MARTINSVILLE, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Joey Logano is locked into the NASCAR Cup Series Championship November 8 at Phoenix Raceway. The other three spots are up for grabs and will be decided this Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. Here is a breakdown on the contenders:
Kevin Harvick/Stewart Haas Racing:
- Harvick sits 42-points above the cut line going into the Xfinity 500. Harvick can clinch a spot with a win or if there is a new winner Harvick would clinch by being 37-points ahead of the third winless driver. If there is a repeat winner, Harvick would need to be 14-points ahead of the fourth winless driver. Harvick has one win (2011), five Top 5’s and 19 top 10’s at the half-mile track.
Denny Hamlin/Joe Gibbs Racing:
- Hamlin enters Martinsville 27-points above the 5th place cut line. Hamlin clinches with a win or if there is a new winner he would need to be 53-points ahead for the third winless driver. If there is a repeat winner Hamlin would clinch with 29-points. Hamlin has the best record of any playoff driver at Martinsville with 5-wins (spring 2008, 2009 playoffs, 2010 sweep, spring 2015), 15 top 5’s and 21 top 10’s.
Brad Keselowski/Team Penske:
- Keselowski currently sits in the fourth and final spot, 25-points above the cut line. Keselowski can clinch with a win or if there is a new winner he would need to finish 55-points ahead of the third winless driver. If there is a repeat winner, he would need to finish 31-points ahead of the fourth winless driver. Keselowski has 2-wins (spring 2017, spring 2019) at Martinsville along with 10 top 5’s and 15 top 10’s.
Alex Bowman/Hendrick Motorsports:
- Bowman sits fifth in the points, 25-points out of the fourth and final spot. Bowman can clinch with a win and would need a significant amount of help to try to make it in on points. Bowman has nine career starts at Martinsville with a career-best finish of sixth that he posted earlier this season. Bowman also has two 10’s at the paper clip shaped track.
Chase Elliott/Hendrick Motorsports:
- Elliott is tied with Bowman, 25-points below the cut line. The second-generation driver from Georgia has three top 5’s and 5 top 10’s in ten career starts. Elliott finished fifth at Martinsville this past June.
Martin Truex Jr./Joe Gibbs Racing:
- Truex finds himself 36-points behind the Championship 4 despite his second place finish at Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday. Truex is also in a must-win situation but has won the last two races at the Virginia half-mile so he feels good about his chances. Truex has seven top 5’s and 13 top 10’s in 29-career starts.
Kurt Busch/Chip Ganassi Racing:
- Busch is in the eighth and final spot and obviously needs to win to advance since he is 81-points behind the Championship 4. Busch has 2-wins (2006 playoffs, 2017 playoffs), 3 top 5’s and 8 top 10’s in 40-career starts. Busch’s situation allows him and the No. 1 Monster Energy/Gearwrench team to off-strategy in search of the victory. Busch finished ninth at Martinsville earlier this year.
The race starts at 2 p.m. on Sunday with coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET. The race will be televised by NBC and can be heard on Motor Racing Network affiliates and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Kevin Harvick wins NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan
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.”
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.
Racing Notebook: Pocono NASCAR Weekend approaching; INDYCAR in Toronto; PVGP hits the track and more
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.
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.
Chase Elliott wins at Atlanta
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.
“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.