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CRAFTSMAN truck seriesarca menards series NTERNATIONAL RACE OF CHAMPIONS

  CRAFTSMAM truck series 

www.nascar.com

Celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2023, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series™, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour™), one local grassroots series (NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series™) and three international series (NASCAR Pinty’s Series™, NASCAR Mexico Series™, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series™). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).


Corey Heim rebounds with timely NASCAR Truck win at World Wide Technology Raceway

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

June 1, 2024

 

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

 

MADISON, Ill. – The early bird got the victory on Saturday afternoon at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

 

In a long green-flag run to start the final stage of the Toyota 200 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race, Corey Heim brought his No. 11 TRICON Garage Tundra to pit road before any of the other top trucks made green-flag stops, and the move paid off with optimum track position.

 

Heim held the top spot for a restart on Lap 138 of 160 and led the rest of the way, beating runner-up Christian Eckes to the finish line by 1.854 seconds, earning a $50,000 bonus as the winner of the second leg of the Triple Truck Challenge.

 

The victory was a welcome turnaround after Heim’s truck was disqualified from second place May 24 at Charlotte for three lug nuts not safe and secure. Heim won for the fourth time this season—all within the last eight races—the second time at Gateway and the ninth time in 53 career starts.

 

“Total team effort today,” Heim asserted. “We struggled a bit yesterday (in practice and qualifying) and worked a bit overnight on it. I have to say the pit crew redeemed themselves. Last week we could have won the race, and they made some mistakes, but they redeemed themselves today, and that’s what it’s all about.”

 

Heim started ninth and finished fifth in the first two stages. After a quick pit stop at the Stage 2 break, Heim restarted third on Lap 78 and grabbed the lead before the end of the circuit. He held the top spot until he pitted on Lap 115, one lap earlier than pole winner Ty Majeski who was chasing him in second place.

 

Vicente Salas’ spin on Lap 129 interrupted the cycle of green-flag stops, but Heim regained the lead on Lap 134 when drivers who had not yet pitted brought their trucks to pit road under the caution. Heim battled Majeski on the Lap 138 restart and prevailed.

 

“Corey was a little bit better, and I knew it,” said Majeski, who swept the first two stages and led 43 laps to Heim’s race-high 65. “I thought if I could get track position on him, maybe I could hold him off. I threw it into Turn 1, and he cleared me off of 2, and I had a couple other opportunities.

 

“I got into him a little bit. Probably needed a little bit harder for me to get enough of a run to get side-by-side with him down the back. But, yeah, just a little bit short balance-wise. Sometimes when you’re the best truck in the beginning of the race, you’re gun-shy to make changes.”

 

Majeski faded to fourth in the final 23 laps, losing positions to Eckes and third-place finisher Nick Sanchez on lap 151.

 

Eckes lost track position with a slow pit stop in the second stage break, restarted 11th on Lap 78 and finished second at Gateway for the third straight year.

 

“I definitely feel like we let that one slip,” Eckes said. “Disappointing, for sure… It sucks. I thought we had the best truck here.”

 

Layne Riggs finished fifth, followed by Chase Purdy, reigning series champion Ben Rhodes and Stewart Friesen. Two drivers making their series debuts—Andrés Pérez de Lara and Luke Fenhaus—came home ninth and 10th, respectively.

 

Note: The start of the race was delayed for two-and-a-half hours by rain… The final Triple Truck Challenge race is scheduled for June 28 at Nashville Superspeedway. Heim and Sanchez, last week’s Charlotte winner, could collect an additional $100,000 as the winners of two of three events in “The Trip.” A $50,000 bonus is available to all other drivers.

 

--30--

 

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Race - Toyota 200

World Wide Technology Raceway

Madison, Illinois

Saturday, June 1, 2024

 

          1. (9)  Corey Heim, Toyota, 160.

          2. (2)  Christian Eckes, Chevrolet, 160.

          3. (3)  Nick Sanchez, Chevrolet, 160.

          4. (1)  Ty Majeski, Ford, 160.

          5. (17)  Layne Riggs #, Ford, 160.

          6. (11)  Chase Purdy, Chevrolet, 160.

          7. (8)  Ben Rhodes, Ford, 160.

          8. (6)  Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 160.

          9. (16)  Andres Perez de Lara, Chevrolet, 160.

          10. (27)  Luke Fenhaus, Ford, 160.

          11. (5)  Tanner Gray, Toyota, 160.

          12. (14)  Daniel Dye, Chevrolet, 160.

          13. (22)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 160.

          14. (4)  Dean Thompson, Toyota, 160.

          15. (12)  Tyler Ankrum, Chevrolet, 160.

          16. (13)  Rajah Caruth, Chevrolet, 160.

          17. (10)  Grant Enfinger, Chevrolet, 160.

          18. (28)  Timmy Hill, Toyota, 160.

          19. (24)  Lawless Alan, Ford, 160.

          20. (19)  Matt Crafton, Ford, 160.

          21. (32)  Bret Holmes, Chevrolet, 159.

          22. (18)  Connor Mosack, Chevrolet, 159.

          23. (26)  Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 159.

          24. (15)  Jake Garcia, Ford, 159.

          25. (20)  Vicente Salas, Chevrolet, 157.

          26. (29)  Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 156.

          27. (30)  Keith McGee, Ford, 156.

          28. (31)  Thad Moffitt #, Chevrolet, 155.

          29. (25)  Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 153.

          30. (7)  Taylor Gray, Toyota, 152.

          31. (21)  Mason Massey, Chevrolet, Engine, 126.

          32. (23)  Colby Howard, Toyota, Accident, 46.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  98.806 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 1 Mins, 27 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.854 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  5 for 32 laps.

Lead Changes:  13 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   T. Majeski 1-15;C. Eckes 16-17;T. Majeski 18-37;T. Gray 38-54;B. Rhodes 55-65;T. Majeski 66-72;K. McGee 73;T. Ankrum 74-77;C. Heim 78-115;T. Majeski 116;N. Sanchez 117-126;T. Gray 127-128;C. Purdy 129-133;C. Heim 134-160.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Corey Heim 2 times for 65 laps; Ty Majeski 4 times for 43 laps; Tanner Gray 2 times for 19 laps; Ben Rhodes 1 time for 11 laps; Nick Sanchez 1 time for 10 laps; Chase Purdy 1 time for 5 laps; Tyler Ankrum 1 time for 4 laps; Christian Eckes 1 time for 2 laps; Keith McGee 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 98,19,2,52,11,5,9,99,43,17

Stage #2 Top Ten: 98,19,2,99,11,9,15,17,77,25

 

 


 

  INTERNATIONAL RACE OF CHAMPIONS

Known as IROC (International Race of Champions), a series of races was held annually from 1973 to 2006. IROC brought together the greatest drivers from all forms of motorsport to compete against each other in iconic cars on historic tracks. Although the annual events ended in 2006, the legacy and recognition of the IROC brand has continued throughout the years. IROC Holdings plans to bring the historic brand back to life. In 2024, NASCAR Hall of Fame member Ray Evernham and former NASCAR Cup Team Owner and venture capitalist Rob Kauffman, announced their acquisition of the rights to the IROC brand and plans to bring the historic brand back to life.

www.iroc-racing.com


 

 

Drivers and Cars Confirmed for IROC Event at Lime Rock Park, July 19-20

CHARLOTTE (June 6, 2024) – An impressive lineup of drivers and cars have been confirmed for the first IROC event in more than 20 years. Scheduled for July 19-20 at Lime Rock Park, the IROC event will enhance an already exciting SpeedTour All-Star Race weekend. Featuring both an on-track racing exhibition and static display, the event will reunite original IROC competitors with cars raced in the legendary series.

Mark Martin, a 96-time winner across NASCAR’s top-three series, 13-time IROC race winner and 5-time IROC series champion, will be one of the drivers piloting the historic IROC cars at Lime Rock Park. 

“I have always said that the crown jewel of my racing career is what I was able to achieve in IROC,” said Martin. “The event at Lime Rock Park is going to be an exciting opportunity to reminisce about those great times and to reunite with some of the best people in motorsports.” 

Joining Martin as other former IROC competitors driving in the event will be Greg Biffle, Geoff Brabham (two-time IROC race winner), Davy Jones, Bobby Labonte (three-time IROC race winner and 2001 IROC Series Champion), Max Papis, Ken Schrader and Danny Sullivan (one IROC race win). In addition to this impressive list of former IROC drivers, the event will include four-time NASCAR Truck Series Champion Ron Hornaday, Grand-Am Sports Car Series and Trans Am Champion Boris Said and 1995 NASCAR Truck Series Champion Mike Skinner.

An equally exciting component of the event at Lime Rock Park will be approximately 20 authentic IROC race cars spanning over 30 years of racing history.

The oldest are a pair of 1974 Chevrolet Camaros—one driven to Victory Lane at Riverside International Raceway by Bobby Allison in 1975, and utilized again in 1976 by AJ Foyt to clinch his second IROC Championship; the other was raced by Foyt in 1975, as he finished second to Bobby Unser by just two feet, in what was the second-closest IROC finish in history. 

The newest car is a 2005 Pontiac Firebird raced by four-time Indianapolis 500 Champion Helio Castroneves. In November 2005, Castroneves drove the car to a fourth-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway in his final IROC start.

The event will also reunite several of the original racers with their cars, as former IROC winners return. Fans will instantly recognize the lime green No. 14 Dodge Avenger, which won three times with three drivers from three different disciplines: F1’s Martin Brundle, NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Sr., and INDYCAR’s Al Unser Jr. However, it will be the car’s final driver who will get to reunite with it at Lime Rock Park—Mark Martin.

Fans will also recognize the red 1984 Chevrolet Camaro, which is believed to be the most period-correct 1984-era IROC Camaro in existence. Owned by Richard Childress, this car was raced by Dale Earnhardt twice in the 1980s. 

Of course, there will be cars that were driven by not only the best names in motorsport, but also those of Hollywood fame. The School Bus Yellow No. 15 1978 Chevrolet Camaro was driven to victory lane by both Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip, as the two NASCAR Hall of Famers were among 31 drivers who turned laps in the car. However, that count doesn’t include actors Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, James Brolin and Gene Hackman, who enjoyed a private test day in the car at Sonoma Raceway in December 1977. 

“We have received such an overwhelmingly positive response from fans since announcing our event at Lime Rock Park and I believe this impressive lineup of legendary drivers and historic IROC cars will just keep that momentum going,” said Ray Evernham, Co-Principal of IROC Holdings. “It will truly be a unique experience for fans to get up close and personal with cars that have been driven by racing royalty. From Fittipaldi to Earnhardt, Foyt to Martin. These cars are truly time capsules that represent racing on a worldly scale. Pair that with being able to shake the hands of some of the legends that drove them and you have a once-in-a-lifetime experience for race fans.”

“We’re thrilled to have IROC join us at the SpeedTour All-Star Race,” said Tony Parella, CEO of Parella Motorsports Holdings. “As a racing fan, there was nothing better than IROC—it brought together all the best drivers from all forms of motorsports. Personally, I’m really excited to witness this all coming together—with so many of the original cars and drivers—it’s going to be great.” 

Whether you want to watch IROC, the SpeedTour All-Star Race, or any of the other groups racing at Lime Rock Park, July 19-20, a single ticket will let you see all the action. Single-day and weekend tickets are available at LimeRock.com with advanced-purchase discounts for spectator tickets. Kids 12 and under are free with the purchase of an adult ticket, and all active-duty military and veterans with a valid military ID will be admitted free of charge. Fans are also invited to purchase their official IROC-branded merchandise ahead of the event at shop.iroc-racing.com

 

  arca menards series 

www.arcaracing.com

Celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2023, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series™, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour™), one local grassroots series (NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series™) and three international series (NASCAR Pinty’s Series™, NASCAR Mexico Series™, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series™). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).


 

 

nascar

www.nascar.com

Celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2023, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series™, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour™), one local grassroots series (NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series™) and three international series (NASCAR Pinty’s Series™, NASCAR Mexico Series™, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series™). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).

 


 

Saturday New Hampshire Notebook

 

June 22, 2024

 

By Holly Cain

NASCAR Wire Service

 

LOUDON, N.H. – NASCAR Cup Series qualifying was cancelled Saturday afternoon because of inclement weather at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Sunday’s USA Today 301 (2 p.m. ET on USA Network, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) starting lineup will instead be based on a metric including owners points, driver points, last week’s race finishing position and last week’s fastest laps.

 

NASCAR Cup Series championship leader, Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott will start from pole position, alongside reigning series champion, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney.

 

“To be honest, I always feel like the [pole-winner’s] pit stall [choice] is more important than the starting spot just because you live with the pit box all day," said Elliott, who is making his first start from pole this season – first since 2022.

 

“Your odds of leading 301 laps are slim to none but you live with that box all day long and that’s something that can help you all the way, get a late race caution or whatever and you can be right there in the hunt and that can be the difference in you coming off pit road first or third. And I think that’s a really important thing we see every weekend. Excited about that and really, I think, a team effort that earned that opportunity.

 

“It wasn’t a stellar lap on my end, it was just a solid effort by our group over the last two or three months to have us in that position to take advantage of the circumstances today."

 

Hendrick’s William Byron, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell and Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman round out the top five on the starting grid.

 

Defending race winner, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. will roll off seventh in the 36-car field, hoping to earn his first victory of the 2024 season.

 

Spire Motorsports’ rookie Carson Hocevar and Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell were fastest in an abbreviated practice session that lasted only 10 minutes Saturday mid-afternoon because of rain.

 

NOTES. …

 

*Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell may have broken some big 2025 news. …accidentally. The three-time New Hampshire Xfinity Series race winner and 2022 NASCAR Cup Series winner at the track spoke with reporters Friday afternoon. In answering a question about the future leadership of the four-car JGR team with the departure of Truex at the end of the season, he slipped and appeared to confirm speculation that Truex’s replacement would be Chase Briscoe.

 

“It could be whoever has a good race that week – so I don’t think that there really is a leadership role in that aspect and whenever Chase comes into the car." Bell said before cutting himself off with a grin and glance toward his JGR public relations team.

 

Briscoe is among the four-driver Stewart-Haas Racing stable – also Ryan Preece, Josh Berry and Noah Gragson - that is looking for a new job next year after the SHR team announced weeks ago that it would be closing down operations at the end of the 2024 season. JGR has not released any official statement regarding the next driver of its No. 19 Toyota.

 

Briscoe smiled Saturday during his media availability, conceding he’d received almost 100 messages on his phone Friday night after Bell’s statement – but couldn’t access them for hours because of spotty cell service at the New England dirt track where he was racing. Briscoe didn’t confirm his 2025 plans but said he expected an announcement coming soon, perhaps as early as next week.

 

“It was funny, Christopher texted me and was like, ‘man, I messed up so bad,’" Briscoe said smiling. “And I was like, what happened? He was like ‘go look at Twitter.’

 

“I couldn’t get a single text to out and couldn’t receive a text. … I didn’t really know what had happened for probably three to four hours while I was over there [racing] and then a couple people told me what happened. … It was funny, kinda weird knowing something was out there but not having any ability to see what it was or what happened. Definitely an odd night."

 

*Joey Logano is one of a handful of New England drivers who consider the New Hampshire mile his “home track.” And the Connecticut-native and two-time winner at the “Magic Mile” could really use some of that hometown hero juju this weekend. He is still racing for his first points-race win of the season and is currently the first driver outside the Playoff standings, ranked 17th.

 

Logano has a pair of victories at New Hampshire – including his career first NASCAR Cup Series win in 2009. He smiled when asked about past special memories and having his family – three young children – up in his native New England to watch him race this weekend, “I’m hoping to create one [special memory] this weekend, that would be great," he said.

 

Nine races remain to set the 16-driver Playoff field with 10 race winners already guaranteed in and six positions still to be decided.

 

“I feel good about our chances of getting in [the Playoffs], but it’s not as comfortable as we’d want it to be for sure," Logano said, adding, “The team does a good job of being under pressure and our team knows how to handle it because we’ve been in the Playoffs so many times and put ourselves in the Championship 4 so many times that we know how to handle these situations when your back is up against the wall.

 

“It’s not ever comfortable. It’s not where you want to be. It’s not fun. But it’s not out of the norm for us either to know how to handle these scenarios either.”

 

*Martin Truex Jr.’s last NASCAR Cup Series win came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the New Jersey-native would not only love to win again at one of his “home tracks" for sentimental reasons, but a trophy this weekend would absolutely guarantee a spot for him to vie for his final series championship.

 

Truex announced last week in Iowa that the 2024 season would be his last fulltime campaign in the NASCAR Cup Series and the 2017 series champion would love nothing more than to make another run at the title.

 

The driver of the No. 19 JGR is ranked 11th in the Playoff outlook standings – the top-ranked driver without a victory to date. But New Hampshire has been one of his best tracks. He’s earned two pole positions, has the 2023 victory, nine top-five and 15 top-10 finishes and is one of only four drivers in history lead at least 1,000 laps. His 1,170 laps out front is most among all active drivers.

 

“Pretty relaxed, generally," Truex insisted of his demeanor even after sharing news of his future last week. “I feel relieved that I finally made a decision after thinking about it for the last two years or whatever.

 

“I think winning here in general is really a big deal," he added. “Last year was just huge for me personally and my family, and what this place has meant to us over the years. So, to finally win, it was a frustrating thing to come here year after year after year and feel like, ‘man, it got away again.’ So many times, we were in position to win and right there leading laps and things.

 

“It’s always been a good track for me and so just not having that win for so long, was really really frustrating. So that was a really really big one for us last year so to be able to go back-to-back would be awesome."

 

*Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney earned his first victory of the season last weekend in the Corn 350 at Iowa Speedway. He joked this week he’s won at places that have invoked specific memories.

 

“I feel like this place has been fairly good for us," Blaney said, adding with a grin, “I’ve always wanted to hold the lobster since I was a little kid so hopefully we can keep adding to our entrees. We got corn last week, could get lobster this week, trying to have a full plate of dinner. We’ll see what we can do."


 

NASCAR Weekend Preview: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

 

June 20, 2024

 

By Holly Cain

NASCAR Wire Service

 

New Hampshire could be a key race for those with Playoff aspirations

 

With nine races remaining to set the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff field, each of the upcoming summertime events represents a crucial opportunity for drivers still trying to secure that championship opportunity.

 

A pair of two-time NASCAR Cup Series champions in Team Penske’s Joey Logano and Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch are among an accomplished group still needing to guarantee their chance to race for a championship. A victory in Sunday’s USA Today 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is the surest way to do that.

 

The New Hampshire “Magic Mile” has historically been a sort of winner’s circle wild card with an uncharacteristically high 19 percent of its race winners starting outside the top-20 on the grid. Six of the last 11 race winners started outside the top-10 and 2021 winner Aric Almirola rolled off 22nd. 

 

There are six former race winners in Sunday’s field – including Busch, who is a three-time winner and Logano, who is a two-time New Hampshire champ. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin is tied with Busch for most wins (three) among active drivers. Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing’s Brad Keselowski has a pair of trophies. And Christopher Bell and defending race winner Martin Truex Jr. have a win at the Magic Mile too.

 

Logano, whose two Team Penske teammates Austin Cindric and Ryan Blaney have earned Playoff positions with wins already this season, is still racing for his first trophy. Surprisingly, Logano has had only a pair of top-five finishes through the opening 17 races – but his best showing – runner-up – came at the Richmond, Va. short track. He won at New Hampshire in 2009 and 2014.

 

Busch has similar 2024 statistics to Logano with only two top-five finishes. His best race of the season was a third place at the Atlanta 1.5-miler. It’s been six races since his last top 10 – eighth-place at Kansas. He’s had a frustrating stretch of races recently, with two 35th place finishes in the last three weeks (at Gateway and Iowa). He is the only active driver to win at New Hampshire from pole position (2017).

 

Logano and Busch are ranked 17th and 18th, respectively in the Playoff standings – with the Top-16 drivers advancing to the 10-race season championship competition.

 

As with that pair, Truex is still racing for his first trophy of the season. The 43-year-old New Jersey native would love nothing more than to hoist the winner’s lobster in back-to-back races considering his big news this week that he will retire from fulltime competition at the end of this season. Although the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champ is ranked highest (11th) in the Playoff standings among that titled-trio still racing for a 2024 win, he would prefer to secure the Playoff position with a trophy instead of points-racing.

 

A victory this week would make Truex only the fifth driver to earn consecutive wins at New Hampshire. His 1,170 laps led at the track is most among active drivers and he’s one of only four drivers in history to have led at least 1,000 miles at the 1.058-mile track. He’s earned 15 top-10 finishes in 30 starts and his 11.3 average finish is third best in the current field.

 

“It’s a tough place and it’s not gotten any easier since then," said Truex, driver of the No. 19 JGR Toyota. “The older it gets, the harder it gets. Last year, we saw the track be very different than it’s ever been before. …

 

“It’s a very technical track and it’s gotten bumpy over the years as well," Truex added. “It’s flat, has a fast entry and not a lot of grip. New Hampshire is a real challenge but it’s a lot of fun when you get it right. I know all our guys will be ready."

 

Truex’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Hamlin will certainly be in this highly-motivated mix as well. All three of his wins this season have come on tracks one-mile or shorter and his 11 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes in 30 New Hampshire starts are both tops among all active drivers. Busch also has 11 top-five efforts.

 

Practice is set for 12:35 p.m. ET on Saturday with qualifying following at 1:20 p.m. ET – both sessions will air live on USA Network and stream live on the NBC Sports App.

 

Playoff spots are running out in the Xfinity Series

 

With 11 races remaining in the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season and five Playoff-eligible positions still to be decided, Saturday’s SciApps 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) could play a big role in setting the title vibe.

 

Only two drivers in the field – Justin Allgaier and NASCAR Cup Series regular Christopher Bell – have won at New Hampshire previously. Allgaier scored his win in 2022 and has an impressive nine top-10 finishes in 12 starts and hasn’t finished worse than seventh since 2018. The driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet is fourth in the championship with a victory at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

 

Bell, a two-time winner in the NASCAR Cup Series this season, is looking to improve on an already stellar Magic Mile resume – winning the Xfinity race in all three of his starts (2018, 2019 and 2021). He will be driving the No. 20 Toyota this weekend for his NASCAR Cup Series team, Joe Gibbs Racing.

 

Saturday’s race marks a chance at redemption for JGR’s Chandler Smith, who finished runner-up last year at New Hampshire. The JGR team has won seven of the last eight races, including John Hunter Nemechek’s victory last season. Smith is one of four drivers with two wins this season and sits only a single-point behind championship leader Cole Custer in the standings.

 

The reigning series champion Custer, driver of the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, is still competing for his first win of the year, but certainly has a good history at this New England track. He became the youngest winner in NASCAR’s national series history (16 years, 7 months, 28 days) when he claimed a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race win at the track in 2014. He’s earned three top-10s in four NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at New Hampshire with a best showing of runner-up in 2019.

 

Chandler Smith leads the Playoff picture, followed by two-time winners Austin Hill, Sam Mayer and Shane van Gisbergen. Allgaier and rookie Jesse Love also have secured a shot at the 2024 title with a win this year.

 

In addition to Custer, drivers also currently Playoff bound based on points are Sheldon Creed, Riley Herbst, A.J. Allmendinger, Parker Kligerman and Sammy Smith.

 

This weekend the series regulars will have some added competition with three-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore set to make his series debut driving for JGR.

 

Practice for the SciApps 200 is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET Friday followed by qualifying at 4:45 p.m. ET. All the on-track action will be televised on USA Network and streamed on the NBC Sports App.

 


 

 

After stellar race weekend, changes at Iowa Speedway aren’t necessary

 

June 18, 2024

 

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

 

Christopher Bell was understandably frustrated after his fourth-place finish in Sunday’s Iowa Corn 350 Powered by Ethanol at Iowa Speedway.

 

The weekend had started on a low note for the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Nineteen laps into Friday’s 50-minute practice session, Bell rocketed into the outside wall with a blown right front tire.

 

His car destroyed, Bell had to start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field in a backup Toyota Camry.

 

He spent most of Sunday’s race working his way through traffic, methodically moving forward, gaining speed as he ran. NASCAR’s loop data shows that Bell was fastest late in a run at 130.867 mph, and that was certainly the case during the 84-lap green-flag run to finish the race.

 

After passing Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to move into the fourth position, however, Bell ran out of time.

 

Now for the background. The inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway was added to the schedule this year. After the date was announced, the 0.875 short track was partially repaved.

 

Admittedly, the look was unusual. The bottom two lanes in the corners were covered with new black asphalt. The top lane looked old and gray.

 

An extra strip of new pavement extended through the corner exit in the middle lane only, contributing to the patchwork look of the surface.

 

Bell, Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski were the three drivers who participated in a Goodyear tire test at Iowa on May 28. Bell predicted at the time that passing would be difficult in the Cup race because of the increased speeds the new asphalt would produce.

 

“The track needs a little bit of work,” Bell said after Sunday’s race. “Hopefully they do a full repave, and it’ll be really good in about 15 years.”

 

That was the frustration talking. The irony is that Bell had just spent the entire race disproving his own thesis.

 

Beyond that, the Iowa Corn 350 showed once again how wrong conventional wisdom can be when it comes predicting the immediate future in stock car racing.

 

Before the race, most drivers looked askance at the repaving, predicting the bottom would be the dominant groove, and that passing would therefore be difficult. Friday’s ARCA Menards Series race and Saturday’s Xfinity Series event, however, gave strong indications that would not be the case.

 

As the track rubbered in, the racing line continued to move up, and in the Cup debut there was plenty of side-by-side and three-wide racing. Austin Dillon alone made 162 green-flag passes, leading the field in that category.

 

Third-place finisher Chase Elliott topped the chart in quality passes (within the top 15 positions) with 72. Race winner Ryan Blaney was fastest early in a run but dropped to fourth late in a run, a microcosm of the movement within the field that was a hallmark of Sunday’s race.

 

In his “Actions Detrimental” podcast on Monday, Denny Hamlin, like Bell, argued for completing the repaving project—but for different reasons. Hamlin suggested that resurfacing the top lane would produce even better racing than fans in the packed grandstands saw on Sunday.

 

There’s a danger in that. A repaved top lane might well become dominant, as has been the case at Bristol Motor Speedway in recent years as the traction compound in the bottom lane starts to dissipate and the racing line moves up.

 

On Sunday at Iowa, the line moved up naturally, and we enjoyed what was arguably the best short-track race since the introduction of the Next Gen car in 2022—with breathtaking speeds that exceeded 150 mph on the straightaways.

 

Accordingly, the best course of action at Iowa Speedway might be to do nothing.

 

If it’s not broken, there’s no reason to try to fix it.


Saturday Iowa Speedway Notebook

 
June 15, 2024

 
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service 
 
Denny Hamlin set to assume role as senior driver in NASCAR Cup Series
NEWTON, Iowa — When Martin Truex Jr. leaves his full-time ride in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at the end of the season, his teammate, Denny Hamlin, will inherit the mantle of oldest driver in the NASCAR Cup Series.
With Truex’s exit, all the drivers whom Hamlin conquered for rookie-of-the-year honors in 2006 will be gone from NASCAR’s top series. That list includes Truex, Clint Bowyer, J.J. Yeley, David Stremme and Reed Sorenson.
“There was such a big rookie class back in 2006,” said Hamlin, who will turn 44 on Nov. 18. “Everyone’s gone… everyone’s gone. Martin was just a barometer for success and speed when we were coming into the Cup Series.
“Man, it certainly doesn’t feel like I’m the oldest, but I guess, when you put it all in perspective and see these guys peel off, I certainly feel it, but my mind doesn’t make me believe that I’m the oldest.”
In announcing his departure from full-time Cup racing on Friday, Truex cited a strong desire to pursue personal interests and set his own schedule. Hamlin, who co-owns 23XI Racing with former NBA superstar Michael Jordan in addition to his driving duties for JGR, feels no such impulse.
“When I think of Martin, we couldn’t be more opposite, but there’s no one that I envy probably more than him,” Hamlin said. “He’s just that type of person — I wish I could be like that, but I couldn’t be more opposite.
“That’s him, the way he carries himself, the way he does business. I put the work load on myself that I do. I think that Martin really enjoys his ‘down’ time. To me, I don’t like down time. I like to stay busy, and I like to keep working. It just depends on what I’m working on in that moment.
“I hate to sit around being bored, but some people love that, and that’s their way of getting passionate about going to the race track every weekend. Everyone’s different, but certainly he’s in a spot where he’s weighed the pros and the cons, and he just got to the point where the pros of not (racing full-time) outweighed sticking around.”
 
Tire issues in Friday’s practice took Christopher Bell by surprise
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell represented the Toyota contingent in a Goodyear tire test at Iowa Speedway on May 28.
In temperatures that were approximately 14 degrees cooler than those that greeted drivers during Friday’s practice, Bell had no issues with the tire combination chosen for Sunday’s Iowa Corn 350 (7 p.m. ET on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Bell’s No. 20 Toyota was fast off the truck to start the 50-minute session, posting the fastest lap early in the session. But after 19 circuits, Bell’s right-front tire suddenly lost air, and his car slammed the outside wall.
Earlier, Bell’s teammate, Ty Gibbs, had suffered the same issue with the right front but managed to avoid hard contact with the SAFER barrier.
Bell said he had no warning that the tire failure was imminent.
“My only indication was whenever I saw Ty have a flat,” said Bell, who will start from the rear of the field in a backup car. “That was it.
“I didn’t have any indication in the car. We were just here — what, a month ago? — and did 50-lap runs all day long and had no issues at all. It caught me off-guard, and I know it caught my team off-guard as well.”
Tire issues weren’t confined to the Gibbs cars. Austin Cindric also will start the race in a backup No. 2 Ford after hard contact with the outside wall. The Toyota of Tyler Reddick and Chevrolet of Ross Chastain also sustained flats without damaging their cars, though Chastain’s Camaro needed the new dolly system to remove it from the track.
“They said, ‘We’re going to put you on the dolly,’ and I said, ‘What’s a dolly?’” Chastain said. “They got the thing out, snapped it together, and the car’s not torn up.”
 
Brad Keselowski cites importance of three “T’s" — and one of them isn’t tires
Though the new pavement in the bottom two lanes in the corners at Iowa Speedway has sparked enormous interest in the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at the 0.875-mile track, Brad Keselowski cited other factors that will determine whether NASCAR weekend will be a success.
Taking a page from legendary Charlotte Motor Speedway promoter H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, Keselowski pointed to the three “T’s” as critical components of any race.
“There’s been a lot made about the repave,” Keselowski said. “Maybe that’s right and maybe that’s not… I look at the tracks that I think have been successful in their debuts and the ones that haven’t been successful in their debuts, and generally I feel like what separates the good tracks and the bad tracks is how well they take care of the fans, more so than whether there’s a three-wide finish for the win.
“That’s going to come down to the three T’s – the Humpy Wheeler three T’s of tickets, traffic and toilets… I think they’ve got the ticket part figured out. I don’t know about the traffic and the toilets, but I hope they’ve got that figured out.”
It’s also noteworthy that, the three “T’s” aside, Keselowski thinks the repaved track will put on an exciting show on Sunday.
“I’ve read and heard some of the discourse here about the track, and I know they’ve put a lot of work into tire dragons and all those other things to try to get two lanes to come in,” Keselowski said. “No, it’s not going to be the three or four lanes maybe some of us hope, but still probably going to be two good lanes of racing, so I think it’ll be a great race either way.”
 

 


 

Martin Truex Jr. announces retirement from full-time NASCAR Cup Series racing

 
June 14, 2024
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service 
 
NEWTON, Iowa — Martin Truex Jr. felt it was time to regain control over his own life and his own schedule.
“I’m obviously here to let y’all know that I won’t be back full-time next year,” Truex said Friday in a press conference with team owner Joe Gibbs, confirming the widely reported news that he will exit the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at season’s end.
“It’s been incredible. It’s been a hell of a ride. I’m excited about the future, and I’m not really sure what that looks like yet,” Truex added.
There are several issues, however, that are already settled. The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion will continue with JGR in what is vaguely defined as an “ambassadorial capacity.” He likely will compete in an occasional NASCAR Xfinity Series race for the organization.
And Truex will fulfill a stated purpose of reclaiming his time as his own.
“It’s the right time for me. I’ve thought about it a lot for the last few seasons — just waited for that feeling in my mind to be positive, like ‘This is OK, I’m good, and I want to do something else,’” Truex said.
“In the 21 years that I’ve done this, I’ve never missed a race. I’ve never missed a practice. I’ve never been late for anything. I’ve never missed an appearance. You live your life by a schedule that somebody makes for you, and it’s just time for me to make my own schedule.
“That’s really what it boils down to. I want to go do the things I want to do, and I don’t want anyone to tell me when I can and when I can’t do those things. I still love racing. I’m still going to race some — I don’t know what, when, how, why — but I feel very fortunate to be in this position to make this decision.”
Gibbs said he had a sense of what Truex’s decision would be. Truex will turn 44 on June 29. That makes him the elder statesman of JGR by less than five months over teammate Denny Hamlin, a three-time winner so far this season.
“I did everything I could to keep it going,” Gibbs said of his efforts to retain Truex for another season. “I think we’ve got two 43-year-olds that are at the top of their game.”
Now in his 19th season of full-time Cup racing, Truex has accumulated 34 victories, 23 poles, 146 top fives and 287 top 10s in 673 starts in NASCAR’s top series. He also won consecutive NASCAR Xfinity Series titles in 2004 and 2005 with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Chance 2 Motorsports.
Truex’s high-water mark in the Cup Series came in 2017. Driving for Furniture Row Racing and paired with crew chief Cole Pearn, he scored career bests in victories (eight) and top 10s (26) en route to the series championship, which he claimed with a win in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
After stints with Dale Earnhardt Inc., Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing and Furniture Row, Truex joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2019. He won seven times that season and finished second in the final standings for the second straight year.
Though winless so far this season, Truex currently is fifth in the Cup Series standings, despite running out of fuel and finishing 27th in last Sunday’s road course event at Sonoma Raceway.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps acknowledged Truex’s achievements in a statement extolling his successes as a competitor and a person.
“Martin Truex Jr. has been a consistent figure over the last two-plus decades in NASCAR — a consistent winner, champion and fan-favorite,” Phelps said. “Though he especially excelled on NASCAR’s biggest stages, Martin performed his craft with a quiet tenacity, allowing his immense success tell his incredible story.
“On behalf of the France Family and all of NASCAR, I congratulate Martin on a wonderful career and wish him the best of luck for the remainder of his final full-time season.” 
As he plans his exit from full-time racing, Truex has few, if any, regrets.
“I would say I’ve achieved more than I ever thought I would,” he said. “That being said, there’s a lot of heartbreakers. There’s a lot of things you go back and think about like, ‘Man, if that had turned out different.’
“But a championship and three runners-up in this (elimination) format, I feel like that’s really good. I’m proud of what I’ve done. I feel like I gave it everything I had, and I feel I’m really, really good at what I did, so I’m happy with that—I’m content.”

 


Drivers face new challenges in NASCAR Cup debut at Iowa Speedway

The race for a dwindling number of NASCAR Cup Series Playoff spots will take a new turn on Sunday when drivers line up for the Iowa Corn 350 Powered by Ethanol at Iowa Speedway (7 p.m. ET on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

NASCAR’s top series will compete at the 0.875-mile short track for the first time, though more than a handful of participants in Sunday’s race have raced at Iowa in the NASCAR Xfinity and NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series.

The driver with the most significant advantage on Sunday may be Christopher Bell, who participated in a Goodyear tire test at the partially repaved track two days after winning the rain-shortened May 26 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.

Bell also posted back-to-back Xfinity Series wins at Iowa in July of 2018 and June of 2019. A month after the second of those two victories, Bell finished second to Chase Briscoe at the Newton, Iowa, speedway after leading 234 of the 250 laps and sweeping the first two stages of the final NASCAR race there before this weekend.

Under the circumstances, Bell is eminently qualified to provide an assessment of the way the track will race when NASCAR’s premier series visits for the first time.

“Iowa has always been one of my favorites, that’s for sure,” Bell said. “I’m excited to get a Cup race there…

“The repave made it a whole new race track. It adds a lot of grip to the track. Iowa was a place that was a low-grip track before, and you could move around all over the place and really pass guys.

“I’m a little bit worried now that the pace is going to be really fast, and it’s going to be harder to pass, but the speeds are going to be tremendous—that’s for sure—when we come back and race.”

Kyle Larson, winner of the most recent Cup race at Sonoma, and Brad Keselowski also participated in the tire test. Keselowski cited one significant improvement with the repaving project, which added new asphalt to the bottom two lanes. 

“It used to have this really wicked tunnel bump down in (Turns) 1 and 2,” Keselowski said. “Now that’s been kind of taken care of, which is nice, because the Next Gen car doesn’t really play well with bumps, kind of like an IndyCar.

“But I think it’ll make the car more raceable.”

Bell and Larson don’t need victories at Iowa, given that both are solidly in the Playoffs with multiple wins this season. Keselowski, who won the first Xfinity Series race at Iowa in 2009, punched his Playoff ticket with a triumph at Darlington.

The same can’t be said for the Cup Series’ active two-time champions, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. Both are just outside the Playoff bubble, with Busch eight points behind Bubba Wallace (the last driver currently in a Playoff-eligible position) and Logano another eight points behind Busch.

With Austin Cindric nabbing a Playoff spot by virtue of his June 2 win at World Wide Technology Raceway, seven spots are left with just 10 races remaining in the regular season.

Iowa may be the perfect prescription for Logano, who has a penchant for conquering new territory. The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford won the first Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Coliseum (2022), the first race on Bristol Dirt (2021), the inaugural Cup event at WWT Raceway (2022), and the first NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway (second overall) after a complete repave (2024).

“I don't know exactly what it is,” Logano said. “It's obviously our whole team does a really good job at anticipating what a race will be like or what we're going to need in the car without any history.

“We do a great job anticipating, whether that's from just years of racing or… I don't know what else it could be.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to an oval after Kiwi domination

If the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ first trip to Iowa Speedway since 2019 will be a tutorial of sorts for New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen, it’s familiar and welcome territory for Justin Allgaier, who will compete there for the 17th time in Saturday’s Hy-Vee PERKS 250 (3:30 p.m. ET on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Van Gisbergen, a three-time Australian Supercars champion, is fresh from back-to-back victories on road courses at Portland and Sonoma, but the Kiwi has never won on a NASCAR oval and hasn’t posted a top 10 on an oval track since his sixth-place finish at Phoenix in the fourth race of the season.

Understandably, van Gisbergen will need to sharpen his skills on conventional NASCAR tracks during the remaining regular-season races in order to be a contender for the championship. Included in the list of Playoff tracks is just one road course, the Charlotte Roval.

Allgaier, on the other hand, is an adept road racer as well as a perennial contender on Xfinity ovals, and in the field for Saturday’s race, only Jeremy Clements (19) and Joey Gase (17) have more Iowa starts.

The driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet has scored 12 top 10s in his 16 starts at the 0.875-mile track, with a win in 2018 and three other top fives to his credit there.

Already locked into the series Playoffs with a victory at Darlington, Allgaier can add to his current total of 15 Playoff points (bolstered by a whopping 10 stage wins) with a victory at Iowa.

“I’m really looking forward to our return to Iowa this weekend,” Allgaier said. “This has always been one of my favorite tracks, and it’s great to be going back there.

“JRM was always really strong (there), and I see no reason why we won’t have that same speed again when we unload for practice on Friday. Hopefully we can have a smooth weekend and be fighting for the win on Saturday.”

The only variable Allgaier hasn’t faced at Iowa is the partially repaved surface—a necessity given the age and degradation of the original asphalt there.


 

 

Many still looking for a win following Sonoma

 

June 11, 2024

 

By Holly Cain

NASCAR Wire Service

 

As Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota sat on the Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway frontstretch in a painful stall only yards before the checkered flag on Sunday afternoon, it was a vivid and frustrating microcosm of the former NASCAR Cup Series champion’s day and season. So good. So close.   

 

“It’s just one of them years,’’ a frustrated Truex told reporters walking down Sonoma’s pit road afterward. Instead of what looked like a runner-up finish, he was scored 27th.

 

It was actually a demonstrative common theme among several of the sport’s best as the summer “Playoff push” begins. So many of the high-profile names on the starting grid – including multiple former champions – are still racing for their first victory of the season, missing the trophies with close calls and late-race misfortune with 10 races now remaining to set the 16-driver Playoff field.

 

Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney and his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano – a two-time series champ – lead that list joined by another two-time series champion, Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch along with Truex.

 

All four of those drivers had solid days on track Sunday – and in weeks previously - but none of them have claimed a win despite strong efforts and now move to the Iowa Speedway debut on the schedule still competing for that first victory. A win isn’t just an automatic Playoff bid - these high-achieving drivers are likely to point their way in regardless – but it is an important morale boost and a signal their teams are championship-forward.

 

Despite his 27th place finish at Sonoma – his third finish of 20th or worse in the last four races - Truex is still ranked fourth in the championship – highest among those without a win yet.

 

Logano started his No. 22 Team Penske Ford from pole position and was encouraged by his chances at Sonoma, even though he’s only had a single road course win in his career (2015, Watkins Glen, N.Y.). He did lead 16 laps but finished 21st.  

 

His current 16th place position in the championship standings isn’t good enough to make him Playoff eligible right now because two race winners – his Team Penske teammate Austin Cindric and Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suárez - have race wins despite being ranked below Logano and would supersede his place in the standings. 

 

The two-time series champ, Logano, hasn’t been ranked this low in the standings through 16 races since 2011 – when he was 22nd in the championship standings, ironically having also won pole position at Sonoma, then driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.

 

“Unfortunate end to our weekend in Sonoma, especially with the speed we showed the last two days,’’ Logano said. “Anything can happen on these re-starts and it was just wrong place, wrong time for us after trying to flip the strategy on everyone up front. Still proud of the effort from the 22 crew to keep after it all day long despite the early setback there.’’

 

Blaney’s No. 12 Team Penske Mustang ran among the top 10 most of the day at Sonoma and finished seventh; his best outcome in five weeks and coming after a heart-breaking showing in St. Louis a week earlier when it appeared he would hoist a trophy. Instead, the fan favorite ran out of gas while leading with only a lap to go, resulting in his teammate Cindric getting the hardware instead. Blaney is still safely among the Playoff-eligible in 12th place in the points standings.

 

Busch, in his second year with RCR, looked to finally get a break from weeks of frustration on-track. Although he didn’t lead any laps Sunday, he managed to work his way forward and was contending for a top five when contact with Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain sent him spinning off course in the final laps. Busch still ended up finishing 12th but is ranked 15th in points and like Logano, would miss a Playoff position because of Cindric’s and Suárez’s wins.

 

The two-time series champion’s last top 10 was five weeks ago at Kansas (eighth place) and his best showing of the year is third at Atlanta in the second race of the season. He has won a race in all 19 seasons he’s competed in the series – the longest streak in series history.

 

“[Crew chief] Randall Burnett and all the guys on the Chevrolet team came up with a great strategy today that put us in position to score a top five finish,’’ Busch said. “Early in the race I thought I broke something on the right-front, but we had a damaged wheel. We lost track position, but our strategy kept us in the game.


“A couple of guys there at the end of the race had better tires than we did, but we were going to have a good day. Unfortunately, one of those guys got into us on the last lap and ruined our day. It’s frustrating to not get the finish that we deserved.’’

 

They will all have another very fresh opportunity at Iowa Speedway this weekend.  In two Xfinity Series starts there, Busch has a victory (2010) and a runner-up finish (2009), but it is the first NASCAR Cup Series race ever at the .875-mile oval.  There is a practice session Friday with qualifying on Saturday afternoon and then the Iowa Corn 350 Powered by Ethanol on Sunday night at 7 p.m. ET (USA Network, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 


 

 

Joey Logano wins the pole on newly resurfaced Sonoma Raceway

 

SONOMA, Calif. – Team Penske’s Joey Logano claimed his third pole position of the season Saturday afternoon at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway – turning a fast lap of 97.771 mph in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, bettering the previous record by more than a second on the newly-paved 1.99-mile road course in Northern California.

 

The two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion will start Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) alongside 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick, who was a slight .083-second behind Logano.

 

“I got a little loose up in turn two and probably left a little bit out there, but it’s hard to hit a perfect lap every corner," said Logano, a 31-time pole-winner who also won pole position at Sonoma in 2011.

 

“If you can average it all out to be pretty good, it works out. It was great to see the Autotrader Mustang having some speed here in Sonoma. It didn’t seem too bad in race trim either, so hopefully we turn this into a victory tomorrow."

 

Logano’s only career road course win came in 2015 at Watkins Glen, N.Y. His best finish at Sonoma is third, something he has done twice including last year.

 

Logano’s Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney, the reigning series champion, will roll off third – both drivers looking for their first trophy of the season. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson round out the top-five.

 

All four Hendrick cars advanced to the final round of qualifying, including three-race winner William Byron in sixth and Alex Bowman in eighth. Trackhouse Racing teammates Daniel Suarez and Ross Chastain will start seventh and ninth with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs rounding out the top-10 who advanced to the final round.

 

NASCAR Cup Series championship leader, JGR’s Denny Hamlin will roll off 25th and his teammate, four-time and defending Sonoma race winner Martin Truex Jr. is 21st on the starting grid.

 

Two of the Australian Supercar Series drivers are making their debut this weekend. Will Brown, who was second fastest in practice, will roll off 24th in the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Cam Waters will start 31st in the No. 60 Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing Ford.

 

“This race is gonna be a lot different than what it was in the past here," Logano said. “You think about what it used to be here with a lot of tire wear. Now the tires seem to last fairly long so that can adjust the strategy quite a bit from what it used to be here. There are a lot of different options for the crew chiefs to try to make up their mind on how to play out the race and time will tell."

 

Quick Notes From Sonoma Raceway:

 

*Both the NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series got some rare extra time on the Sonoma Raceway road course - both series given 50-minute practices on Friday to help the drivers and teams acclimatize with the track’s new paving. And the vast majority of drivers were very receptive to the extra track time.

 

Team Penske’s Blaney set the fastest overall lap in practice, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Gibbs and Richard Childress Racing’s Brown, an Australian Supercars Series star who is making his series debut this weekend.

 

“I feel like so many things in this sport are extreme," said 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski, owner/driver of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing Ford.

 

“When I came into this sport we had two days of practice, one day of testing every week and it was like, ‘that’s too much.’ And then it was, ‘okay, you’ll get none,’ and you’re like, whoa," he said with a smile. “Can we find a spot in between?

 

“And this format that we have this weekend in Sonoma feels like the right balance. It’s refreshing. I do think having practice is important to the competitive balance of the series and important to our fans and our media rights partners and so forth. My position is unwavering with respect with wanting to see that materialize.”

 

*Hendrick Motorsports’ Larson told the media at Sonoma Raceway Saturday that he’s certainly happy to receive a waiver from NASCAR this week allowing him to continue to race for the championship despite missing the Charlotte 600-miler on Memorial Day weekend.

 

He competed in a rain-delayed Indianapolis 500 and by the time he got to the second half of his planned “Double,” bad weather had forced the stop of the Charlotte race and it was called early. Larson did not get to turn a lap after arriving at track.

 

Despite missing the points from that race, Larson sits second in the championship standings – 21 points behind the leader Hamlin entering Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350.

 

“Obviously, I think there’s relief on my end, even though I really wasn’t paying a ton of attention to it [NASCAR decision], to the waiver" said Larson, driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. “At least now knowing I do personally get to race for a championship feels good. I’m sure there was a lot that went into it on NASCAR’s end.”

 

Larson said that he did not personally speak with NASCAR regarding the decision but that Hendrick executives Jeff Gordon, Jeff Andrews and the team’s Hall of Fame owner Rick Hendrick were in more constant contact. He believes NASCAR was just trying to “get all their ducks in a row” before announcing its decision Tuesday.

 

“I was appreciative of the support of my race team and just kind of let them handle it," Larson said, adding “I’m just thankful we don’t have to deal with it again and happy to get to race for a championship.

 

“. …I was a little less stressed out about it than I think what everybody would have imagined me to be. I’m just happy that if I do win a championship now I can put my name on the record books."

 

*Instead of competing in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race, New Zealand’s Shane Van Gisbergen will be spotting for the Australian Will Brown. The two know each other from the Australian Supercar Series, where Van Gisbergen won three championships and Brown currently competes.

 

The longer practice time – 50 minutes - was especially timely for Brown and fellow Australian Supercar Series driver Waters. The two Aussie drivers are having to get used to not only the challenging Sonoma circuit, but the cars. In Australia, the race cars have right side steering wheels and shifts are made with the left hand – the complete opposite of what they are using in NASCAR.

 

Van Gisbergen, who won the inaugural Chicago Street Course race last summer in his NASCAR debut and won the Portland, Ore. NASCAR Xfinity Series race last week was quite optimistic about the two Australian drivers’ participation this weekend - and glad to help them get acclimated.

 

“He [Brown] asked me [to spot] and initially I said, ‘no,’ but he kept asking," Van Gisbergen said with a smile Friday. “I think I’ll just be the secondary spotter so I don’t have to say much, which suits me fine. Just willing to help him.

 

“So happy to help those guys. Will’s been asking questions all week and I went and sat in on the simulator. I threw some ideas out there. He’s a great young driver and so is [Australian] Cam Waters and I’m sure they’ll both be up there and hopefully they stay there. This long practice is certainly a help for them to get used to the car."

 

Van Gisbergen said he was pleased to see the influx of drivers from the South Pacific. Another former Australian Supercars star, Australian Marcos Ambrose competed in NASCAR fulltime from 2009-2014 winning back