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Final 3 NASCAR Cup Series Championship Spots To Be Determined This Weekend At Martinsville

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Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

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.
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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.

NASCAR

William Byron wins DAYTONA 500

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Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, FL — William Byron gave team owner Rick Hendrick something extra to celebrate in the 40th anniversary year of Hendrick Motorsports.

In a frantic scramble after a restart on Lap 197 of 200 in the DAYTONA 500, Byron reached the finish line and took the white flag moments before NASCAR called the fifth caution of the evening as Ross Chastain slid wildly through the infield grass off the bumper of Austin Cindric’s Ford.

Alex Bowman was a close second to his teammate at the moment of caution, giving Hendrick a 1-2 finish and the organization’s first victory in the Great American Race since Jimmie Johnson beat teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the stripe in 2014.

The victory was Hendrick’s ninth in the DAYTONA 500, tying the company with Petty Enterprises for most in the history of the NASCAR Cup Series most prestigious event. The race was postponed from Sunday to Monday because of heavy rains during the weekend.

“I’m just a kid from racing on computers and winning the Daytona 500,” said the 26-year-old Byron, who picked up the 11th victory of his career and his second at Daytona, the first coming in the 2020 summer race at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

“I can’t believe it. I wish my dad was here. He’s sick, but this is for him, man. We’ve been through so much, and we sat up in the grandstands together and watched the race (when Byron was younger). This is so freaking cool.”

Hendrick could barely contain his elation in Victory Lane.

“I’m telling you, you couldn’t write the script any better,” he said. “When we thought about coming down here the first time, we didn’t think we should be here, felt so out of place.

“We win this on our 40th to the day, it’s just… and tied a record now, so that’s awesome.”

Before the final restart, Chastain was racing at the front of the field on Lap 192 when a bump from Alex Bowman got Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron out of shape and knocked Byron into the right rear of Brad Keselowski’s Ford.

Keselowski turned up the track into the Ford of Joey Logano, who had led a race-high 45 laps to that point. Reigning series champion Ryan Blaney’s Ford was among the 23 cars involved in the accident that left string of mangled vehicles strewn along the backstretch.

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The wreck knocked Blaney, Keselowski and Logano out of the race, along with Tyler Reddick, defending race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Daniel Suarez and Todd Gilliland. NASCAR red-flagged the race for 15 minutes 27 seconds for track clean-up.

“Speedway racing again,” Logano said ruefully. “It’s a lot of fun until this happens. It was pretty interesting with a lot of pushing and shoving there at the end. Our car was able to take it. Our Mustang was so fast. It could lead a line really well. I kind of thought I had the cars I wanted around me. I had at least one I wanted around me, but just couldn’t make it work.”

“Obviously, hate what happened on that backstretch,” Byron said of the accident. “I just got pushed and got sideways. But so proud of this team, whole AXALTA team, 40th anniversary to the day, on Monday.

“Just extremely blessed and thankful for all the opportunities, and we just want to keep it going. We have a lot to prove this year, and this is a good start, obviously.”

How much Byron has yet to prove is debatable. He won a series-best six races last year, qualified for the Championship 4 and finished third in the final standings.

The race was not quite five laps old when an eight-car accident off Turn 4 started the inevitable attrition. Contact from Keselowski’s Ford in a tightly bunched line of the outside knocked the Toyota of John Hunter Nemechek into the center lane and into the side of Harrison Burton’s Ford.

Burton slid toward the infield, collecting the Chevrolet of Sunoco rookie Carson Hocevar. Burton’s No. 21 Mustang shot up the track and slammed into the Ford of Kaz Grala and the Chevrolet of Austin Dillon. Behind Dillon, Hocevar careened into the path of seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson, who couldn’t avoid the collision.

The wreck eliminated the cars of Burton, Hocevar and Grala. Dillon took his No. 3 Chevy to the garage for extensive repairs, and Johnson lost two laps on pit road as his Legacy Motor Club crew worked frantically to repair his Camry.

“I don’t remember exactly who it was on my outside,” Burton said after a trip to the infield care center. “It just looked like they either got a bad push or got loose and just hit me in the right side and sent me across.

“The grass was so wet that once I got in the grass, I thought I’d be OK, but the car just kept going and going… so really sad that our day is over as quick as it was. We had a really fast Ford. It’s just a bummer. There’s nothing we can do but just move on and try to win next week.”

It took 187 more laps of racing before the colossal wreck that dwarfed the earlier incident thinned the field and set up the fight to the finish among the cars that survived.

In a race that featured 41 lead changes among 20 drivers, Christopher Bell ran third, followed by Corey LaJoie, Bubba Wallace and AJ Allmendinger. Chastain, who didn’t have quite enough room when he dived to the inside of Cindric on the penultimate lap, finished 21st, one spot ahead of Cindric.

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NASCAR

Austin Hill wins third straight NASCAR Xfinity opener at Daytona

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Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, FL — While other NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers were competing, and crashing, in Monday night’s United Rentals 300 at Daytona International Speedway, Austin Hill was playing a different game — Monopoly.

At the 2.5-mile superspeedway roughly two miles away from Atlantic Avenue, Hill beat former teammate Sheldon Creed to the finish line by 0.591 seconds to earn his third straight victory in the Xfinity season opener at the World Center of Racing.

The third win came on Monday because of weekend-long rain that forced NASCAR to reschedule the race from Saturday afternoon. The event served as the second leg of a doubleheader with the DAYTONA 500, which was postponed from Sunday and won by William Byron.

Hill has now owned Victory Lane at Daytona long enough to build a house there.

“It tops it off—three-peat,” Hill exclaimed. “You know how hard it is to win at Daytona? God almighty!”

Not that the driver of the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet didn’t have his share of adversity. Hill overcame an early wreck on Lap 37 of 120, a flat tire and a self-destructive bent on pit road.

He crossed the finish line in a car that was heavily taped on the right front, but none of the obstacles could stop him from displaying his superiority on superspeedways once again.

“I don’t know what was going on with me on pit road today,” Hill said. “But my guys just kept telling me, ‘Look, man, dig deep; you’re really good at these superspeedways.’ I tried to screw it up on pit road—sped on pit road, slid through the box…

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“I don’t even know what time it is. I know it’s past my bedtime, but we’re about to party tonight, I can tell you that.”

After pitting with a flat tire on Lap 97, Hill restarted 22nd but quickly worked his way forward. Two more cautions helped, and after lining up third for the final restart on Lap 118, he made quick work of Jordan Anderson and Chandler Smith ahead of him.

Hill was out front by more than a car-length when Ryan Sieg spun behind him off Turn 2 on the final lap. From that point, Hill simply had to steer his car to the finish line and won by a comfortable margin.

Parker Retzlaff ran third, one spot in front of his owner/driver Anderson.

“The little team that could is getting bigger,” Anderson said proudly.

Chandler Smith came home fifth, followed by Riley Herbst, John Hunter Nemechek, Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones and AJ Allmendinger.

The race featured nine cautions for 44 of the 120 laps. There were 19 lead changes among 14 different drivers., with Sunoco rookie Jesse Love, the pole winner, leading a race-high 32 laps from the opening green flag.

Love, however, suffered more damage in the Lap 37 wreck than did his RCR teammate Hill. He finished 20th in an aerodynamically-challenged Chevrolet.

New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen, winner of last year’s NASCAR Cup Series Chicago Street Race, drove his battered Kaulig Racing Chevrolet to a 12th-place finish in his Xfinity debut.

NASCAR Xfiniti Daytona Results

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NASCAR

Nick Sanchez scores first victory in wild NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck race

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Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, FL — With trucks wrecking and flipping behind him in overtime, Nick Sanchez claimed the first NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series victory of his young NASCAR career in Friday night’s Fresh From Florida 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

The race ended under caution on the second lap of the overtime after Rajah Caruth, running fourth, moved up the track and turned the No. 91 Chevrolet of Jack Wood in front of the field.

Sanchez and runner-up Corey Heim were clear of the chaos, and Caruth escaped with minimal damage to run third. But behind them, the Chevy of Daniel Dye launched the Toyota of Taylor Gray, which flipped in mid-air and landed upright on its tires in a gaggle of mangled vehicles.

All told 12-trucks were involved in the wreck, which caused the record 12th caution of the evening.

Coincidentally, Sanchez rallied from a 13-truck crash on Lap 6 to score the victory for his No. 2 Rev Racing Chevrolet team in his sophomore season.

“It’s huge,” Sanchez said. “We spent all of last year trying to get a win. I knew coming into this year I knew that I had to, right? What better race than to do it than Daytona? Honestly, out of every race, if I was going to do it, this would have been the last one (I expected), but happy to do it. It’s awesome.

“I just knew I had to lead at the white flag, because they were probably going to wreck. I’m glad they wrecked — if everyone is OK. I’m just happy.

“It’s huge. Obviously, we have a new technical partner in Spire (Motorsports)—our first race with them. What a better way to start a partnership. Gainbridge (sponsor) has stuck with me. They were winless last year. They all deserve it, and they’re going to celebrate with me.”

Caruth was thankful for his third-place finish, but he rued the wreck that ended the race.

“I’m trying to play it back differently in the last laps, but thank you to everybody at Spire Motorsports, HendrickCars.com, the Hendrick Automotive Group, and Mr. H (Hendrick) for what they’ve done for me along with everybody at Spire and Chevy,” Carruth said.

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“Man, I felt like I got a bad push there, and you’re already getting tight off of the corner, and everybody is going for all they have on the last lap. I feel terrible to see trucks like that torn up. I hope Taylor (Gray) is all right. But a good night to start the year.”

Fifty-one of the 101 laps were run under caution, and it didn’t take long for the action to start. The first major incident KO’d a handful of drivers.

On the backstretch on Lap 6 of a scheduled 100 circuits, a shove from Christian Eckes’ Chevrolet turned the Ford of three-time series champion Matt Crafton into the Ford of Layne Riggs, igniting a 13-truck accident that eliminated Ty Dillon, Thad Moffitt and Jake Garcia.

With his team unable to effect repairs on his No. 38 Ford F-150, Riggs took his Truck to the garage under caution on Lap 17.

“Chaos, a lot of craziness — everybody was just kind of all over the place,” Dillon said after a mandatory trip to the infield care center. “I’ve never seen anything look like that from behind the wheel four laps into a race.

“With my experience, I knew something like that was going to happen. That’s why I got myself to the bottom to hopefully have a spot to bail. And sure enough, it happened. I thought I got through… I hit the grass and it knocked the tires out of my hand, and I was trying to catch it with the throttle…

“Just hate to be taken out so early and not have a chance.”

The Lap 6 incident was a harbinger of the chaos to come.

Defending series champion Ben Rhodes saw a good night turn bad when Tyler Ankrum door-slammed his Ford on Lap 68. Rhodes pitted with a flat tire a lap later, but after leaving the pits, he spun and crashed as the lead packed tried to dodge the No. 99 Ford in the center of the track.

Rhodes exited the race, and soon after, Johhny Sauter was an innocent victim of a four-truck wreck off Turn 4—after leading 24 laps, second only to Sanchez’s 26.

Bret Holmes finished fourth, followed by Spencer Boyd. Stefan Parsons, Crafton, Timmy Hill, Bryan Dauzat and Eckes completed the top 10.

NASCAR Trucks Daytona Results

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