Logano takes the checkered flag in a haze of Bristol dirt
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Somewhere under the thick red haze floating over Bristol Motor Speedway, Joey Logano took the checkered flag for NASCAR's first Cup Series race at a dirt track in 50 years. The Logano victory closed a weekend of uncertainty and even some hysteria as NASCAR launched this drive through the dirt. “It’s only my fourth dirt race ever, so I had a lot of fun trying to figure it out," Logano said. It was impossible to handicap this first dirt race because the teams had no idea how to prepare and the drivers had wildly varying experience. "In dirt racing you don’t have a windshield in front of you, so you can pull a tearoff.
What a Mess: NASCAR worried about first Bristol dirt race
AdBristol also made a bold change this year by converting its facility into a dirt race as part of radical changes to the 2021 schedule. NASCAR needed a major shakeup and the dirt race joined an influx of road courses and new venues for the most adventurous schedule in sport history. So when NASCAR broadcast partner Fox pushed for a dirt race on the Cup schedule, Speedway Motorsports said Bristol would be the guinea pig. “That's probably the most uncomfortable I've ever been in a race car,” said Kevin Harvick, running his first Truck Series race since 2015. The first NASCAR Cup Series points-paying sanctioned race in the inaugural 1949 season was on dirt at Charlotte (Old) Speedway.
Roger Penske bullish on large crowd for Indianapolis 500
FILE - Roger Penske looks over the track from the grandstand at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, in this Thursday, July 2, 2020, file photo. There will be fans at this year's Indianapolis 500, Penske said Monday, March 22, 2021, but how many remains a moving target based on pandemic restrictions. (AP Photo/Jenna Fryer, File)A fully vaccinated Roger Penske is hard at work at Indianapolis Motor Speedway preparing for a full season of racing that will include spectators at his showcase event. There will be fans at this year's Indianapolis 500, Penske said Monday, but how many remains a moving target based on COVID-19 restrictions. Penske noted Monday that the positivity rate for COVID-19 for Marion County, where Indianapolis Motor Speedway is located, was 3.1%.
Blaney wins at Atlanta after Larson fades on old tires
But Larson's tires didn't stand up to the punishing track after making his final pit stop with 56 laps to go. I don't know if we got that much worse or he just got way better.”AdThe Cup series returned to the track where the racing world came to a halt a year ago. In March 2020, Atlanta was the first NASCAR Cup race to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The series shuttered for more than two months before resuming with major changes to the schedule, including the Atlanta race being held in early June. As the cars stacked up behind Larson, Busch got bumped from behind by Denny Hamlin and slammed into the outside wall going into turn one.
Martin Truex Jr. wins NASCAR Cup race at Phoenix Raceway
AVONDALE, Ariz. – Joey Logano has won a few times at Phoenix Raceway and knows a good restart when he feels one. Truex blew past Logano on the final restart and pulled away for his first NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season and 28th overall. Logano — who led 143 laps — won the second stage after leading the final 35 laps during a long stretch of green-flag racing. But he couldn't hold back Truex, who won his ninth race with JGR. Hamlin was fast early in the race, leading for 31 laps until the competition caution midway through the first stage.
One year later, NASCAR reflects on a COVID-changed sport
Larson wasn't sure he'd race in NASCAR again until Rick Hendrick took a chance on a him. Last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Larson raced to his first NASCAR victory since he was reinstated from a nearly yearlong suspension. He was hired by Hendrick Motorsports when NASCAR said the suspension would lift at the start of this year. KEEP IT COOLLast year's spring race in Phoenix was a hot one, with temperatures pushing close to 90 degrees. ... Jason Biggs, host of “Cherries Wild” on NASCAR broadcast partner Fox, is the grand marshal.
Kyle Larson celebrates return with 1st win since suspension
LAS VEGAS – Kyle Larson wasn't sure he'd ever race again in NASCAR, and if he could, he didn't know who would even hire him. On Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Larson raced to his first NASCAR victory since he was reinstated from a nearly yearlong suspension. “Thanks Mr. H. for believing in me,” Larson radioed to boss Rick Hendrick after crossing the finish line. Larson is considered one of the top talents in NASCAR but won just six times in six seasons with Chip Ganassi Racing. “He got in a great car, he's a great driver and he's going to make things happen,” runner-up Brad Keselowski said.
Allmendinger back at Daytona in 1st Cup race since 2018
Allmendinger will run his first Cup race since the 2018 season finale in Kaulig's first Cup race not at a superspeedway. The longshot Daytona 500 win earned McDowell his first playoff berth and FRM now is positioned to build a once unthinkable cushion. This road course race was added to NASCAR's schedule in December because COVID-19 restrictions would not allow a stop at Fontana, California. AdThe Daytona road course was wedged into the open slot, creating two weekends of very different racing that very much suits Furniture Row. Dillon missed the Cup race in August because he'd received a positive COVID-19 test.
Logano wants peace at Penske following Daytona 500 crash
(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A truce has yet to be called in the Team Penske camp amid friction following the last lap Daytona 500 crash between teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. To me, the biggest heartbreak of this whole thing is that there are 400 people at Team Penske asking where their Daytona 500 bonus is and it’s up in a ball of flames up in turn three.”Three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin bristled at Logano's deflection. The Daytona crash belied Roger Penske's edict that his drivers are permitted to race one another hard so long as they don't wreck. That’s a great problem to have.”It remains to be seen how Keselowski chooses to work with Logano going forward. Logano, also a Cup champion and the 2015 Daytona 500 winner, doesn't have the same job security concerns.
Kyle Busch streaks past Elliott, Blaney to win Busch Clash
Blaney had chased down Elliott on the road course at Daytona International Speedway to take the lead with two laps remaining in Tuesday night's 35-lap Speedweeks opener. Elliott, winner of NASCAR's last four road course races dating to 2019, didn't let Blaney pull away and set himself up for one final chance at the win. It cost Elliott his momentum and Busch sailed by for the surprise victory. AdThis year's running was the first time on Daytona's road course, a plan announced before the 2020 season began. Elliott won the inaugural Daytona road course race.
NASCAR playoffs rained out for 3rd consecutive day at Texas
Drying trucks continue to prepare the track for a possible NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)FORT WORTH, Texas – NASCAR will make a fourth attempt to complete its playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday after persistent mist and cold temperatures continued the long delay. The resumption of the race was set for Wednesday at 3 p.m. EDT at the Texas track. The Truck Series and Xfinity Series are scheduled for Friday night and Saturday afternoon, and both series completed racing in Texas. The bigger concern is likely the NBC production crews that must complete the Texas broadcast and then prepare Martinsville for Friday night's Truck Series race.
Logano wins at Kansas to clinch spot in Cup Series finale
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Joey Logano spent the final 40-plus laps at Kansas Speedway keeping an eye on Kevin Harvick in his rear-view mirror. Now, he can look ahead to the NASCAR Cup Series finale at Phoenix. Using every bit of the track Sunday to hold off the winningest driver this season, Logano took the checkered flag on a cold, blustery Sunday to secure a spot in the championship round of the playoffs. Hamlin managed to hold off the 2014 series champion to win his 10th stage of the season. Then, midway through the final stage, he began to notice a problem in his car.
DiBenedetto keeps ride as Cindric promotion to Cup delayed
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)Team Penske found a one-year solution for Matt DiBenedetto while building a long-term plan to move Austin Cindric to the Cup Series. Cindric, currently competing in the Xfinity Series for Penske, will take over the seat in 2022. Cindric will compete in both Xfinity Series next season as well as select Cup races. Cindric, meanwhile, was the Xfinity Series regular season champion and is currently racing for the championship. "Another season of experience in the Xfinity Series will be beneficial and I’m looking forward to competing in some Cup Series races in 2021 to prepare for a full season in 2022.”
Kevin Harvick nabs 9th win of season to roll into 2nd round
Busch furiously tried to catch him as the two weaved their way through lapped traffic, but Harvick held firm in the No. Only six cars finished on the lead lap in a tepid event at the 0.533-mile bullring revered for bumping and banging. Track officials sold all 30,000 tickets allowed — making Bristol one of the largest sporting events since the pandemic — and the spectators crowded the fence as Harvick celebrated his second win of the playoffs. Erik Jones, who is not eligible for the playoffs, finished third for Joe Gibbs Racing and was followed by rookie Tyler Reddick and playoff contenders Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer. Denny Hamlin, considered the closest challenger to Harvick this year, closed out a sub-par opening round of the playoffs with a 21st-place finish.
Ryan Blaney hopes to avoid playoff elimination at Bristol
With a bit of disbelief over his fast fall in the NASCAR standings, Ryan Blaney is determined to avoid elimination from the playoffs. William Byron, Cole Custer, Matt DiBenedetto and Blaney are the four drivers below the cutline headed into the knockout race. “This whole group, this team, we are not a 16th-place-in-points team,” Blaney said. 12 team was also off last week at Richmond, where Blaney finished 19th to fall to the edge of elimination. Cole Custer trails Bowyer by eight points, while DiBendetto is 25 points behind and Blaney is 27 points out.
NASCAR: Keselowski dominates in playoff win at Richmond
RICHMOND, Va. – Brad Keselowski entered NASCAR's playoffs certain he has as good a chance at the Cup championship as favorites Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. His confidence was correct as Keselowski indeed won Saturday night at Richmond, the second playoff race, and advanced into the second next round. Harvick, the title favorite, won last week’s opener to earn the automatic berth into the second round. Harvick, Hamlin and Keselowski are the only drivers locked into the next round of the playoffs. Harvick finished seventh.
Harvick takes Southern 500 after leaders Elliott, Truex bump
Harvick didnt dominate the Southern 500 in his series-best eighth victory of the season. The leaders got tangled up there and the next thing you know we were racing for the win, Harvick said. PLAYOFF PUSHAlmiorola is now squarely on the bubble ranked 12th among the 16 drivers after the first playoff race. BLANEY PENALTYBlaney's title chances took a hit just hours before the first playoff race began. UP NEXTThe second playoff race is at Richmond Raceway on Saturday night.
Playoffs begin with 14 drivers chasing Harvick and Hamlin
Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin are expected to race head-to-head for the NASCAR Cup title when the 10-week playoff series begin Sunday at Darlington Raceway. That theoretically leaves the 14 other drivers racing for just two spots in the winner-take-all race. Busch joins his older brother, Kurt, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer and DiBenedetto as drivers without a win as the playoffs begin. Logano won twice in the first four weeks of the season, while Elliott scored his two wins after racing resumed. Others have been labeled dark horses, but Truex has very quietly made himself a strong challenger to Harvick and Hamlin.
Higher stakes at Daytona mean 'crazy things will happen'
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Racing at Daytona International Speedway always comes with a hefty dose of drama. Nearly half the field is looking to clinch a postseason berth with a victory, including seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson. Crazy things will happen.Thats exactly what NASCAR envisioned when it moved Daytonas summertime extravaganza to the regular-season finale. Cup races at Daytona already were considered wild-card events in which just about anyone could end up in victory lane. Throw in the raised stakes, and it's sure to create an ultra-intense couple of hours on the track.
Harvick holds off Hamlin for Michigan doubleheader sweep
BROOKLYN, Mich. Kevin Harvick won just about everything he could in a stellar weekend at Michigan International Speedway, although fittingly, Denny Hamlin was the last driver to pressure him. Harvick held off Hamlin on Sunday to complete a doubleheader sweep in the NASCAR Cup Series. With NASCAR running an adjusted schedule because of the coronavirus, both Michigan races were held on the same weekend. That meant Harvick became the first driver since Richard Petty in 1971 to win back-to-back Cup races on consecutive days. Its been a long time since Ive raced back-to-back days, let alone in the Cup car, Harvick said.
Chase Elliott ends week of misery with overdue Cup victory
Chase Elliott does a burnout after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Concord, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)CONCORD, N.C. NASCAR's grueling return to racing finally ended with a Cup victory for Chase Elliott. The event, postponed Wednesday night, was the fourth Cup race since the series resumed racing May 17. Man this is a tough week, we've had some tough losses," Elliott said from the frontstretch. Elliott reeled in Kevin Harvick with 27 laps remaining and closed out the victory. Elliott's victory was the first for a Chevrolet driver in NASCAR's return to Cup racing.
Keselowski gets win but Hendrick Motorsports takes 2 losses
His Hendrick Motorsports team bounced back with a competitive Chevrolet in the 600 that Elliott drove to the front late in the race. Theres no other choice.KESELOWSKI SHOWS HIS WORTHA Daytona 500 victory is the only crown jewel race Keselowski is missing on his resume. "I hope to continue to compete at a very high level and be able to win races for a long time. Weve got a race win at a major on a team thats really just starting to click together. I hope it does because this is my 30th win at the Cup level with Team Penske.