AUSTIN, TX (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Elliott, the defending NASCAR Cup Series Champion, is in good shape to defend his title after winning the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas.
NASCAR officials called the race with 14-laps remaining due to wet track conditions and standing water on the backstretch.
“Yeah, super proud just of our whole group,” said Elliott. “I feel like we really kind of persevered through multiple challenges today. I didn’t think we started the day off great, but we were able to kind of fight back, get to where we had a lot of pace there at the end. Really proud of that.”
Elliott started eighth in the 40-car field and fell out of the top 10 at the end of the races first stage. The No. 9 Chevrolet finished second in stage two and that track position proved to be key as Elliott was out front when NASCAR through the final caution due to the track and weather conditions.
“Obviously I was on the good end of the call, so I’m okay with the race ending,” said Elliott. “But actually I think a lot of guys would say the standing water was getting pretty serious. I think where it got to there at the end was just there were puddles of standing water. I think that was where NASCAR got to and they’re like, ‘Hey, this is not good’. Visibility is one thing, but when you hydroplane going however fast we’re going, that’s probably not good.”
The victory was Elliott’s 12th career win and sixth on a road course. The win was also the 800th for Chevrolet and the 268th for Hendrick Motorsports, which ties the record held by Petty Enterprises.
“I really don’t know what to say other than Richard Petty and that organization have been the backbone of the sport,” said Hendrick. “Richard has done so much. It’s quite an honor to even be in the same series with him. Never thought we’d get here. But real proud of the guys. They worked really hard. That’s been something we’ve had in our sights. Really happy for Chevrolet with 800 wins. It’s just been a great day.”
Hendrick’s Kyle Larson finished second followed by Team Penske’s Joey Logano in third and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ross Chastain in fourth. Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top 5.
Martin Truex Jr. leads Joe Gibbs Racing 1-2-3 at Richmond
RICHMOND, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Martin Truex Jr. overcame a first lap penalty for jumping the start of the race and came back to win Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders at Richmond Raceway.
Truex beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell for the win, which automatically advances Truex to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs that begins in two weeks at Las Vegas.
“I let the 11 (Hamlin) get a nose out in front of me to get the launch first,” explained Truex about the start of the race. “I wasn’t going to jump him, and then he spun the tires and stopped. What am I supposed to do, stand on the brakes and crash the field behind me?”
Fortunately Truex didn’t crash the field behind him but he was sent to pit road to serve the penalty, which left him the last car in the field.
Hamlin, who led a race-high 197-laps, held on for second place and is also locked into the Round of 12 after his win last weekend at Darlington.
“The whole JGR team had fast cars for all of us today. I really wish we had gotten two in a row, but regardless still a great day for the team,” Hamlin said.
Chase Elliott rallied for a fourth place finish after having losing a lap after trouble in the pits.
A rough pit stop for the No. 9 team of Chase Elliott.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 12, 2021
Joey Logano finished fifth with Kyle Larson in sixth. Larson is also locked into the Round of 12 on points.
Four playoff drivers head into Bristol outside of the Top 12 and need to either win or score a ton of points in order to advance.
Hendrick Motorsports Alex Bowman sits in 12th spot after a 12th place finish at Richmond. Bowman is tied in points with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch but Busch wins the tiebreaker by having the best finish in the round. Tyler Reddick, William Byron and Michael McDowell are also on the outside looking in.
Busch was having a great run and even came off pit road in the lead following the competition caution on lap 32 but disaster struck on lap 42.
Kurt Busch is done for the night.
The #NASCARPlayoffs driver has a flat tire and hits the Turn 1 wall.
TV: NBCSN pic.twitter.com/eh0ZsyFlqn
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 12, 2021
“Something happened in that left rear,” explained Busch. “It let go and it let go of our points and it let go of our whole season right now.”
Ryan Blaney wins NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale at Daytona; Larson top playoff seed
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney picked up his second straight NASCAR Cup Series victory winning Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Blaney was out front on the last lap when a multi-car crash occurred in the last turn during NASCAR overtime to seal the victory for the driver and No. 12 Ford Mustang crew.
“Cool to get our second win in a row,” said Blaney. “Got a great push by Corey LaJoie. That was the big push that got us ahead to the lead. I think he pushed me so good, I mean, me, Corey and the 4 all got single file. We were able to be ahead there when that last wreck on the backstretch happened.”
LaJoie was one of nine-cars involved in that Turn 3 crash on the final lap. Four of the drivers, Austin Dillon, Ross Chastain, Daniel Suarez and LaJoie, needed a victory to qualify for the Playoffs.
Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick earned the 16th Playoff position, beating out teammate Austin Dillon for the final spot.
Kyle Larson claimed NASCAR’s regular season title based on the strength of his series-leading five victories in 2021.
The back-to-back victories moved Blaney into the second spot in the Playoffs followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch in third and fourth.
2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott is fifth followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman in sixth. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin is seventh and William Byron is eighth. Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski round out the Top 10.
The final six playoff seeds include Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch, JGR’s Christopher Bell, this year’s Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell, Stewart Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola, Reddick and former Cup Champ Kevin Harvick.
Blaney Grabs Win At Michigan
BROOKLYN, MI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney led the final eight laps to win Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Blaney took the lead on a restart to pick up his second win of the year and sixth of his career.
“Man, I’m proud of everybody on the 12 team,” said Blaney. “We weren’t great to start the day off. We kept working and working and got a lot better. It’s so cool to get in Victory Lane for Ford here. This is such a huge win for Ford, Penske, Menards, Cardell, Bodyarmor. I can’t thank them enough, what they do. That was cool, man. I’m fired up. I’m fired up.”
Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson finished second and third followed by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch in fourth.
“I had points on my mind a little bit too much,” said Larson. I’m looking in my mirror. I saw the 11 (Denny Hamlin) falling back some. I just didn’t want to screw it up really. I felt like I had to weigh the risk versus reward. I could risk going for the win, not having it work out, end up 30 something and lose the point lead going into Daytona or I could be a little bit more cautious, beat Denny by a couple spots, which is what we did.”
Hamlin finished fifth and trails Larson by 28-points going into NASCAR’s regular season finale, the Coke Zero 400, Saturday August 28th at 7:00 p.m. at Daytona International Speedway.