Chase Elliott Races His Way Into NASCAR Championship 4 With Win At Martinsville
MARTINSVILLE, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Elliott and the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team will be racing for a Championship next weekend after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Xfinity 500 Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.
Elliott needed to win the race to be eligible in next weekend’s Cup Series finale at Phoenix. The No. 9 NAPA Camaro was 25-points below the cut-line entering the event, making it virtually impossible for the team to get in on points.
“I think it’s huge,” said Elliott of the victory. “I think it’s huge for me personally. I think it’s huge for our team as a whole, each and every person that puts in time and effort to try to make our program work. I think when you’re able to be in a position that we were in, like we were tonight, have to go to perform, go and do that, I think everybody gains a lot of confidence from it.”
Elliott had the dominant car on the day at the paper-clip shaped half-mile track, leading 5-times for 236-laps and pulling away to a 6.577-second win, the 10th of his career.
Ryan Blaney finished second followed by his Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski.
“Proud of this 12 group,” said Blaney. “Main goal when we got knocked out was to run as well as we can, try to win races, get ready for next year. The past 10 full weeks we’ve been strong. Had a chance to win a couple races. Just need to put it all together.”
The victories by Elliott and Logano automatically locked them into the Championship 4 leaving two spots to be filled by points.
Keselowski’s fourth place finished locked the No. 2 team into the race for the title.
“Making the Championship 4 is a big deal,” said Keselowski. “Credit to Team Penske for that, for having two cars in it, Joey and myself. I thought we were one of the best cars at the end of the race, if not the best car.”
Denny Hamlin also qualified for the Championship finale by points. Hamlin had a very good car early winning the races first stage and finishing third in the races second stage. Hamlin’s car faded late and he wound up finishing the race in 11th place.
Kevin Harvick was the odd man out despite winning a series-best nine races this season. Harvick just didn’t have the dominant car in the final playoff round of three races.
“These Championships aren’t like when Petty and Earnhardt were winning them,” said Harvick on pit road following a 17th place finish, where he rallied back from 2-laps down after cutting a tire. “You have to put them together three weeks at a time and it comes down to one race and it came down to one race for us and we came up short.”
The Championship takes place November 8, 2020 at Phoenix Raceway.
Kyle Busch takes NASCAR Cup Series win in California
FONTANA, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The pairing of Kyle Busch and Richard Childress Racing is paying dividends as two races into their partnership, they were celebrating victory at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Busch beat Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott by ?.?-seconds to pick up his ??-career Cup Series victory and the ?? of his NASCAR career.
“I felt like there was going to be a little bit of a learning experience, a little bit of a growth pattern, but also on the flipside of that, I always just kind of looked back and watched some of their results and success that they had last year with Austin,” explained Busch. “He ran second here last year, and Reddick was super, super fast. They were fast at the Clash before they broke, the 8 car was.”
Busch said the transition to a new team has been good.
“It’s just been really, really cool, and it’s been a great piece of — we’re making history, right, but a great piece of opportunity to go out there and continue to win races at a new team with RCR, so I can’t say enough about Austin giving me a call, first and foremost, but then Richard and Judy giving me this opportunity to go out here and race for wins.”
Elliott was happy for his manufacturer teammate and former Champ and to get a finish after getting crashed out of the Daytona 500.
“Congratulations to Kyle,” said Elliott. “For him to leave and then to go get the job done like that is pretty cool. He’s always been really good to me, so happy for them. Obviously I think we still have some work to do, but it was really nice to just see a lot of that hard work pay off and have the car driving like we were wanting it to do. So that’s always a good thing. Appreciate everybody on our NAPA team, Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet for just sticking with it and sticking with each other. Looking forward to getting to Vegas and hopefully competing for some more wins.”
Ross Chastain, who led a race high 92-laps, finished third in the No. 1 Kubota Chevrolet for Trackhouse Racing.
“Our balance was building loose most of the day, so I thought we did everything right,” said Chatain. “We kept up with it. It would just feel pretty loose late in the runs, and at times it was enough, and at times they got way better.”
The NASCAR Cup Series moves on to Las Vegas for the Pennzoil 400 March 5th.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wins Daytona 500 in two overtimes
DAYTONA, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Ricky Stenhouse Jr was leading NASCAR Cup Series Champion Joey Logano when a spinning Kyle Larson brought out the final caution of the day, giving Stenhouse the Daytona 500 win in double-overtime.
Stenhouse and Logano were battling for the lead on Lap 212 when contact from Aric Almirola’s Ford started Travis Pastrana’s Toyota spinning in Turn 2. Pastrana’s Camry clipped Larson Chevrolet and set it rocketing into the outside wall. NASCAR officials reviewed the timing and scoring loops to verify Stenhouse was the winner.
“The 22 had a huge run,” explained Stenhouse. “Got to my outside. Kyle had a huge run and he kind of shipped the middle, and then I looked in my mirror and here comes Christopher and gave me a big shot down the short chute there into 1 caution and got out front enough for when the caution came out.
So everything played out perfectly for us at the end of that.”
“Second is the worst, man,” lamented Logano. “You’re so close. Leading the white flag lap there, I was up front. Kyle gave me a good push and, yeah, you’re watching in the mirror and you’re three wide across there. I felt like the three wide was going a hurt a lane; looked like Kyle was getting pushed ahead, and then Ricky started getting pushed ahead.”
“If you would have told me pre-race I was going to run third, I would have jumped up and down and been smiling ear to ear, which I am very happy and very, very thankful that I could get this Rheem and DeWalt Camry a good solid finish,” said Bell. “But man, just so close to a crown jewel. I feel like if it would have stayed green I would have been on offense, and obviously who knows. But very proud and thankful to be here and Joe Gibbs Racing, and happy for Ricky. That’s really cool. Very, very happy for Ricky.”
The next NASCAR Cup Series race is Sunday, February 26 at Auto Club Raceway in Fontana, California.
Austin Hill wins his second straight NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona
DAYTONA, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Austin Hill won his second-straight NASCAR Xfinity Series season-opening race on Saturday, narrowly beating John Hunter Nemechek and Justin Allgaier after NASCAR officials reviewed the tape following Sam Mayer’s caution.
“As soon as the caution lights came on, I thought I had it, but it was so close,” said Hill. “To get back-to-back here at Daytona, it’s really special. That’s three wins for me now, two in the Xfinity, one in the truck here. We came from the back two different times. I hope everyone enjoyed it. It was such a blast. I had so much fun.”
“I’ve been short my whole life, so I guess it’s just fitting,” joked Allgaier. “But really proud of everybody at JR Motorsports. Our Chevy Camaros tonight were absolutely blazing fast. Obviously, I’m glad Sam is OK. He had a heck of a run there at the end.”