Steven B. Wilson
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With their playoff hopes seemingly on the ropes due to a penalty after qualifying, Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Omnicraft Auto Parts team turned in a near-perfect performance in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Blaney started 40th, drove his way to fourth place by the end of the first 80-lap Stage, finished eighth in the second then third in the race to secure a berth in the Round of Eight in the Monster Energy Cup playoffs.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood had great praise for the entire Omnicraft Auto Parts team and was especially impressed by Blaney’s poise under the pressure that comes with a cut-off race in the playoffs.
Wood said Blaney made smart decisions driving his way to the front, something only the greatest of drivers seem to know how to do.
“That was a David Pearson run right there,” Wood said. “Ryan knew what he had to do. He raced hard, but he was mindful of what was going on around him. He missed the wrecks. It was just a tremendous effort.”
Wood also complimented crew chief Jeremy Bullins on his race strategy throughout the day, including one call to leave Blaney on the track near the end of Stage Two, a call that led to three important bonus points.
“Jeremy did a great job calling the race, and the pit crew did a great job, getting Ryan back on the track in good shape despite operating from the least-desirable pit box,” Wood said, adding that none of it would have been possible without the Woods’ alliance with Team Penske. “Their help is second to none.”
Due to the penalty after qualifying, Bullins got the 40th pick of pit stalls for Sunday’s race.
Still, when the points were totaled, Blaney, with his third-place finish and 10 stage points, was in seventh place, 23 points about the cut-off.
He will open the Round of Eight in seventh place with nine playoff points from his win at Pocono and four stage wins.
Blaney, who now has four top-five and 12 top-10 finishes on the season, said Sunday’s comeback was a total team performance.
“Having a pretty fast car there at the end, really all race, shows some pretty great resilience from the Wood Brothers team,” he said. “It definitely feels good to be moving on, for sure.”
Blaney said good fortune was on his side when he dodged the Lap 199 multi-car crash that collected several of his fellow playoff drivers.
“Some of that is luck, for sure, being on the bottom, being able to get clear of that,” he said. “I think we've done a great job this year.”
Blaney went on to say that despite the seriousness of Monster Energy Cup racing, he’s enjoyed his time with the Wood Brothers and the Omnicraft team.
“I would say this is probably the most fun I've ever had racing with anybody, no matter what car,” he said. “They just make it a really fun year. Just to be competitive, still be in this [playoff] thing, that's just a bonus, to be honest with you.”
And so far, he’s exceeded whatever hopes he might have had prior to the season.
“I didn't really have any goals, expectations,” he said. “I just wanted us to do well, see where it ended up.
“It's going pretty decent for us right now. Hopefully we can keep that going.”
Blaney will return to his familiar Motorcraft/Quick Lane colors for next Sunday’s race at the Wood Brothers’ home track, Martinsville Speedway.
Ryan Blaney and the Wood Brothers Racing Team have advanced to Round 3 of the NASCAR Playoffs by driving the Omnicraft Ford Fusion to third place in the Hollywood Casino 400 this afternoon at Kansas Speedway.
Starting in the back of the pack after qualifying third and failing post-qualifying inspection, Blaney took a workman’s-like approach to his drive to the front of the field during Stage 1. He made it to 20th place by lap 13, 12th place by the 44th lap and stayed on the track during a lap-46 caution to assume second place when the race re-started on lap 52. He took the lead on the re-start and ran in the top 10 the rest of the day, finishing Stage 1 in fourth place, collecting seven critical points.
“It was a good race,” Blaney said. “We did a nice job coming from the back. We were able to make some good ground early, run up through there and made good adjustments throughout the day.”
Blaney started Stage 2 in the third position and ran there for the majority of the segment before pitting and shuffling back to eighth, which was where he finished that stage, adding another three extra points to his total.
“I thought we got our car pretty decent there in the second stage,” Blaney said.
He started the final stage in sixth due to two cars ahead of him being penalized for speeding on pit road. Blaney moved into fifth place on the re-start, lost several position on a lap-187 pit stop but was back in the top 10 by the time the next caution flew two laps later.
Blaney and the Omnicraft Ford avoided a major wreck on the ensuing re-start and ended up in sixth place.
“I went left as soon as he spun and managed to avoid it on the apron,” Blaney recalled. “I feel bad for the cars that got caught up in it.”
He took over fifth place on lap 205, fourth place on lap 215 and got to third with 35 laps to go in the scheduled 267-lap race.
“We were able to make little gains on the car all day,” Blaney said. “That showed what a good car we had and it’s nice to move on. It’s just a solid day for our team. We had to overcome a lot of adversity coming from the back. They should be proud of that. It shows some pretty great resilience on the part of the Wood Brothers Team. I am really proud of my team for the effort and we will move on to the next round and Martinsville.”
The first stop in Round 3 of the NASCAR Playoffs is the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 3 p.m. on NBCSN.
Ford Performance PR
The Name of the Game is Recovery for Austin Dillon and the Dow Racing Team at Kansas Speedway
"It was a really good comeback by the Dow Racing team today. We fell behind a little bit after we had to come back down pit road to tighten lug nuts, which cost us some track position. For the rest of the race, the pit crew was on it and gained us spots pretty much every stop. We ended up with some front end damage in that big wreck, but luckily it didn't end our day. We were just too tight at the end to gain any additional positions."
- Austin Dillon
Paul Menard Recovers From Setbacks to Finish 12th in the Richmond/Menards Chevrolet at Kansas Speedway
"I am glad we were able to make something out of this day because we had our share of issues throughout the race. We fired off well and were just working on the handling of the Richmond/Menards Chevrolet when I started getting really loose and smelling smoke. Something must have bounced up under the car and pushed the fender brace in because it started rubbing the tire. We got lucky with a caution and were able to get it off the car and work to make sure it didn't rub the rest of the day. We were caught a lap down in the midsection of the race, but were able to get our lap back on one of the cautions. It was a pretty wild race out there, and we were able to survive without any damage. That allowed us to go race at the end, and I was able to bring the car home in the 12th spot."
- Paul Menard
Multi-Car Wreck Takes Out Ryan Newman, Cat Racing Team at Kansas Speedway
"We got taken out in the 'Big One'. It's hard to believe after last week we couldn't make it out of this one, but I simply ran out of room. I had no where to go. We had a fast car during the first half of the race, but for some reason we lost the handling on our Caterpillar Chevrolet. It was such a handful, I thought maybe we had a hole in the nose. We're done now so we have no way of knowing what we could have done."
- Ryan Newman
Justin Haley and Mason Mitchell Motorsports (MMM) continued their success together at the Kansas Speedway Friday evening in the Kansas 150. The No. 78 team earned a sixth-place finish at the 1.5-mile track to wrap up the 2017 ARCA season.
For MMM it marks the conclusion of their fourth season in the ARCA Series.
“I can’t thank the MMM guys enough for allowing me to race with them twice this year,” Haley stated after the 100-lap event. “We just needed a little bit more at the end but I’m glad to help them earn a solid finish to end the year. The restarts really played to our advantage tonight gaining us spots. The experience in trucks definitely helps with that. Hopefully we can come back and race a few times together in 2018.”
Haley started the 20th and final race of the 2017 season from the fourth position. When the green waved the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (MMM) rookie made a veteran move gaining two positions in the first lap of competition.
Haley continued to race inside the top-five until the evenings second caution at lap 56. Under the yellow flag, Haley brought the No. 78 down pit-road for four fresh General Tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.
A late race yellow flag set up a late race restart inside of ten laps to go. Haley and several other competitors made it five-wide racing into turn one after the restart. Haley and everyone made it through the intense battle unscathed. The No. 78 would cross the stripe in the sixth position.
Since coming into the ARCA Series in 2014, MMM has earned a win every season in the series including a victory at Pocono Raceway this season with Haley behind the wheel.
More impressively, 18 different drivers raced for the championship team during the 2017 season! MMM also made its 100th start in the series at the Kentucky Speedway in September.
The next activity for the ARCA Racing Series will be a two-day composite body open test at Talladega Superspeedway Nov. 7-8. The 65th annual national championship awards banquet follows in Indianapolis Dec. 9.
Follow MMM on Social Media: To keep up-to-date with the latest, news, information and race updates, follow MMM racing’s twitter page @MMM_Race and “like” their facebook page at Mason Mitchell Motorsports.
Mason Mitchell Motorsports: Is a championship driver development team fielding multiple entries in the ARCA Racing Series for the 2017 season. The team is based out of Statesville, North Carolina. http://www.masonmitchellmotorsports.com
For 13 years, brothers Jeff and Ward Burton raced against each other at NASCAR’s highest level. While the South Boston natives are no longer racing, they will still have their full attention on the Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.
There will once again be two Burtons in the field, as Ward’s son Jeb and Jeff’s son Harrison will be racing in the same race for the first time.
“It’s definitely special,” Harrison said. “Jeb is someone that’s always helped me a lot and I’ve tried to help him the best I can. Now that we are going to be going against each other it’s going to be a little bit strange. I’ve never race anyone from my family, even my dad. It’s going to be weird, I don’t know how I’m going to act when I see him in his truck and see Burton on the back glass. It’s going to be strange, but it’s going to be fun.
“I’m really excited to race him and hopefully we get to be door-to-door for some time and get to go at it. It should be a lot of fun.”
Jeb, who has a pole and a top-three finish at Martinsville, will offer any advice he can to his younger cousin.
“Harrison has been doing a good job, and maybe I can teach him a little something there,” Jeb said. “I don’t think he’s finished in the top-10 there yet so maybe I can help him a little bit.”
And Harrison will take all the advice he can get from the elder Burton.
“Jeb has been really good there,” Harrison said. “He is definitely a resource before you go to Martinsville. Before my first truck race there I actually got to drive his Late Model Stock Car around there in a test, and that helped me a lot for the track. So, yeah, he’s definitely a huge resource that I can use to get better. He has so much more experience than me.”
With the holiday season right around the corner, Jeb wants to make sure things stay civil at family gatherings.
“Harrison is a lot younger than me,” Jeb said. “I’ve never raced with him before, so I don’t know what to expect, but I don’t want to start any family drama there for sure.”
That’s something Harrison doesn’t think they need to worry about.
“I’m just going to race him like I would like to be raced and hopefully it will turn out good,” Harrison said.
That doesn’t mean Harrison won’t be afraid to use the bumper if he finds himself running second to Jeb on the final lap, but he would also expect the same from Jeb.
“I think I’d move him,” Harrison said. “You’re going there for one reason and that’s to win. I definitely would not wreck him. I’d definitely use the old bump-and-run tactic on him and I think he would do the same thing. That trophy means a lot to him as well.”
The Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions is Saturday, October 28. The race is the first race in the Round of Six in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. If a Playoff driver wins, he would be the first to lock himself into the Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Last year, Johnny Sauter won the race en route to the Series Championship.
Tickets to the race are $35 for adults. Kids 12-and-under are admitted free. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online atwww.martinsvillespeedway.com.
Martinsville Speedway PR
James “Jim” Watson, a road-crew fabricator for Furniture Row Racing’s NASCAR Cup Series teams, passed away Saturday night at the age of 55 after suffering a heart attack.
A native of Greenfield, Wis. (near Milwaukee), Jim had been a member of Furniture Row Racing since February 2017. He worked for Roush Fenway Racing from 2006-2015 and spent last season with HScott Motorsports. Jim was a long-time race car driver, competing in dirt late models and in asphalt super late models throughout southeast Wisconsin.
He is survived by his wife, Laurie, and daughter Brittany.
“On behalf of Furniture Row Racing we extend our deepest sympathies to Jim’s family,” said Joe Garone, president of Furniture Row Racing. “He was an outstanding and talented member of our racing family, whose life was dedicated to racing since his early days as a race-car driver in Wisconsin. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jim’s wife Laurie, daughter Brittany and to his entire family and friends. Our No. 77 and 78 teams will be racing with heavy hearts today."
Funeral arrangement details will be forthcoming.
Heading to Kansas Speedway for the first time in his NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) career, Spencer Gallagher and the No. 23 Allegiant team got to work early finishing Friday’s practice sessions 13th and 16th fastest. Gallagher went on to secure the 14th starting position for Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300.
Running in the top-15 for the first 45 laps of the 200-lap event, Gallagher reported to the No. 23 team that he was battling a loose Allegiant Chevy Camaro. Finishing Stage One in the 13th-place, Gallagher came to pit road under the stage break, for four tires, fuel and a both a track bar and air pressure adjustment to help tighten up his Chevy. Restarting 15th for the start of Stage Two, Gallagher immediately radioed to his Allegiant team that he felt a vibration in the right rear. Forced to come to pit road under green on lap 63 when the vibration worsened, Gallagher got four fresh tires, returning to the track two laps down.
When the caution came out on lap 78, crew chief Joey Cohen called the No.23 down pit road for a splash of gas, lining him up 25th for the remaining 9 laps of Stage Two. During the final stage break, Gallagher was going to “wave around” to try get one of his laps back, but unfortunately varying pit strategy among the leaders hindered that plan. Instead, Gallagher came to pit road for four tires and fuel for the final stage.
When the caution came out on lap 139, Gallagher hit pit road for the final time for four tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment, lining him up 22nd for the final restart. During the remaining 56 laps, Gallagher reported that he felt an issue with the right rear tire again, but was able to hold on to finish the race in the 21st position, three laps down.
"I’m so proud of the Allegiant Chevy that my GMS Racing team brought me this weekend. It was probably one of the best cars we have had at an intermediate track all year. I hate that we couldn’t get the finish we deserved, but this weekend shows that we’re heading in the right direction. We’ll regroup during the off week and get ready for Texas.”
- To support the Vegas victims and their families, t-shirts and stickers are available at DriversForVegas.com.
GMS Racing PR
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-45):
● Cole Custer started seventh, finished 10th. Earned one bonus point.
● Custer piloted his Haas Automation/Code 3 Associates Ford Mustang to ninth place before noting loose handling conditions.
● Handling became tighter as the stage wore on, but Custer was able to stay inside the top-10 before the stage ended.
● At the conclusion of the stage, Custer pitted for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 46-90):
● Started 12th, finished seventh. Earned four bonus points.
● During a lap-77 caution, Custer pitted for four tires, fuel, air pressure and chassis adjustments.
● Restarted in the 16th position and powered his Haas Automation/Code 3 Associates Ford Mustang to another top-10 stage finish.
● Crew chief Jeff Meendering radioed Custer to the pits at the conclusion of the stage for two fresh tires and fuel.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 91-200):
● Started fourth, finished 19th.
● Custer ran as high as second on the initial restart, but fell to eighth as those with fresher tires proved quicker.
● Pitted under caution on lap 137 for four fresh tires, fuel and chassis adjustments. Restarted in seventh.
● Custer ran inside the top-10 until lap 195 when he was forced to the pits due to a cut tire.
● The Haas Automation/Code 3 Associates crew changed four tires under green and sent Custer back out to finish the race.
● Custer has earned the most points at 1.5-mile tracks among NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers this season with 326 points.
● Custer earned a total of five combined stage points.
● The Kansas Lottery 300 was the first race of the second round of the playoffs. Two more races remain before the season finale Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
● This was Custer’s 35th XFINITY Series start and his third at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
● Four cautions slowed the race for 20 laps.
● Christopher Bell won the Kansas Lottery 300 to score his first career XFINITY Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Tyler Reddick was 2.670 seconds.
Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation/Code 3 Associates Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We had a solid Haas Automation/Code 3 Ford Mustang. We fought hard to keep it in the top-10 and earned good stage points. There was nothing we could do at the end of the race because we ran over something late that crippled the right front. It’s just how it goes. There was a big cut in the tire and we had to pit. We ran well at Texas, so I still think we have a good shot at making it into the final four.”
Ryan Reed kicked off The Playoffs Round of 8 with a 10th-place finish Saturday afternoon at Kansas Speedway. Reed started the race 15th in his No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang and capitalized on chassis adjustments and fast pit stops throughout the race to earn a top-10 finish. Reed is currently sixth in the Playoff standings with two more races before the Playoff field is narrowed down to four contenders vying for the XFINITY Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“Phil, my crew chief, made a great call to put two spring rubbers on the car and I thought, ‘Man, that’s a really big change.’ I didn’t think that we were that far off. It worked,” said Reed. “The car came to life after that and started to pick up a lot of speed and got competitive. I had really good restart on the last restart and picked up some track position. That was really the key to having a good finish. I had to make up a bad restart that I had earlier in the day. P10, not bad. I think we made up some points. We’re going to have to be better. We need to find some more speed. We’re up to the challenge. We’re only five or six points out. Five or six points out, we can make that up. We’re hanging around and everyone knows that we’re there. We’re ready to go get them.”
Reed started the 200-lap race at Kansas Speedway from the 15th position and despite reporting that he was loose on entry, he maintained the position to close out Stage 1 15th. Reed made slight gains over the course of Stage 2 with the help of fresh Goodyear tires and a chassis adjustment. Reed was still looking for help with turn but on lap 90 at the conclusion of Stage 2 Reed was running 12th.
Crew chief Phil Gould made the call to put spring rubbers in both rears at the conclusion of Stage 2. Reed lost ground on the ensuing restart, but over the course of the final Stage the handling came around and Reed was able to make up ground on the track. Reed steadily advanced through the field and crossed the finish line 10th in his No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Ford.