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With 14 drivers locked into the 2022 NASCAR playoffs and with only four races left in the regular season, Kevin Harvick had to win to be in contingency to win this year's NASCAR Championship at Phoenix this November. He did exactly that by winning Sunday's Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Harvick, referring to his 59th Cup Series win, said to the media, “It means a lot. As we went through the first part of the season and really not having everything where we wanted to be and we just really just kept our heads down and just kept communicating and working and working through what we thought our weak points were. So today it just — we didn’t have anything work against us. That’s the biggest thing that happened today. Pocono and Loudon kind of in the same position and just didn’t have the end of it go right, and today it went our way. We were in position to capitalize on it.”
While Harvick was the one who pulled into victory lane in the Irish Hills of Michigan, he was one of many drivers who looked like they were in contention to win the race. Fifteen drivers led at least one lap in the 400 mile event at Michigan International Speedway, and the race had seven cautions causing 36 of the 200 laps to run under the yellow flag condition.
The first caution of the day came out on lap 21 for the competition caution with Wallace leading. Then shortly later on the restart, JJ Yeley caused a pileup on lap 26 that took out big named contenders like Kyle Busch, Austin Cindric, Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and many more. The end of stage one was the reason for the third yellow of the day, with Bell being the first person to cross the line. On lap 99, Cole Custer had a fire break out in his racecar that essentially ended his day which was the reason for the fourth yellow.
On lap 110, Noah Gragson who was driving part time for Kaulig Racing, had an accident on the back straightaway that ruined his great run after being in the top 10 for most of the day. Stage two brought out the sixth yellow flag of the day, where Denny Hamlin won 10 points and one playoff point to help him out. Finally, on lap 161, Bell and Ross Chastain brought out the final caution of the day, where Bell made a bad block battling for the lead,and ended up in the garage at the end of the day. By leading the final 38 laps and being in the top 10 all day, Harvick cruised to victory for the first time since his nine win season back in 2020.
Overall, the race took two hours, 54 minutes, and eight seconds to complete, with an hour rain delay before the start of the event. The average speed of the race was 137.825 mph with a 2.903 second margin of victory between Harvick and second place Bubba Wallace. Next week, the NASCAR Cup Series will take on 400 laps and 300 miles at Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Va., for the Federated Auto Parts 400. The race will start at 3 p.m. Eastern and will be on USA, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
After a day where John Hunter Nemecheck and Ty Majeski led just 146 laps combined at the TSports 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway Park, nobody expected Grant Enfinger to score his first win of the season and book his tickets to the round of 8 in the NASCAR CampingWorld Truck Series playoffs. But that is exactly what happened Friday night.
“We are finally moving forward,” said Enfinger in an interview with Fox Sports after celebrating with his team. “Those were the first laps we led since Atlanta. We have just been off as an organization lately, but can’t say thank you enough for the guys who helped put this together.”
The race itself was a fairly clean one with tons of great racing throughout the night. The Truck Series made its first visit to the track since 2011, on the exact same day 11 years apart. It wasn't until just a few laps remained in the 200 lap event, in which cautions led to more cautions, and controversy struck once again.
Carson Hocevar spun Colby Howard with just eight laps to go in the event, which seemed to be payback after an incident earlier in the day. Howard showed his displeasure on the track when he raised his arms when Hocevar drove by under caution. That wouldn't be the last of the controversy, as on an overtime restart. Nemecheck got into Talyor Gray battling for the win in turn three, and did a dump and run move in turn three. Gray would finish in the 22nd position at the end of the night.
On the final restart, Enfinger took the lead away from Zane Smith, who always finds himself in the top five at the end of races. After a two lap battle, Enfinger stole the win from the other playoff drivers, and secured himself to the round of 8. Three playoff drivers finished outside of the top 10 in the TSport 200, which would be Christian Eckes (finished 16th), Chandler Smith (finished 18th), and Hocevar (finished 21st). Crafton, who complained about an ill handling truck throughout the race, brought it home to a ninth place finish.
Here are the playoff standings after racing at Lucas Oil Raceway Park
- No. 23 Grant Enfinger Advanced
- No. 38 Zane Smith +50
- No. 99 Ben Rhodes +36
- No. 52 Stewart Friesen +28
- No. 4 John Hunter Nemecheck +24
- No. 18 Chandler Smith +24
- No. 66 Ty Majeski +19
- No. 42 Carson Hocevar +7
- No. 88 Matt Crafton -7
- No. 98 Christian Eckes -7
The 207 laps completed Friday night took two hours, five minutes, and 56 seconds to complete with an average speed of 106.586 mph. There were 10 cautions with 78 of the 207 laps being run under the yellow flag. On Saturday, August 13th, the tough trucks of NASCAR will take on the action track of Richmond Raceway for a Saturday night shootout. The Worldwide Express 250 for Carrier Appreciation will begin around 8 p.m. Eastern, and will be carried live on FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Chandler Smith secured his playoff spot back at Las Vegas when he won the 20 mile race in early March, but that didn’t stop him from leading 49 of the 60 laps in Saturday’s CRC Brakleen 150 at Pocono Raceway. Smith came to the final regular season race before the playoffs began to show how dominant his No. 18 team will be.
“God is good.” quoted Smith to the media after his win. “It’s God’s timing. We’ve been going through a bit of a struggle here recently, but just when we need to start shining, we start shining. I can’t thank everyone enough. This ChargeMe Toyota was fast today. It was really good. We were a little tight. Had some trouble getting through the gears. Sorry to the 51 (Corey Heim) team, but also thank you to the 51 team. This win is as much mine as it is yours.” Chandler Smith will now head to Lucas Oil Raceway Park second in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings, 15 points behind Zane Smith
The one hour, 20 minute, and 39 seconds race proved to be a sprint more than a marathon to the truck stars of NASCAR. With five lead changes throughout the 150 mile event, it showed that they needed to get up front fast to be in contention. The race also had five caution flags that contained 20 of the 60 laps under the yellow condition, causing stage one to only have six of the 15 laps run under the green flag.
Derek Kraus, Tyler Ankrum, and Matt Dibenedetto all were just shy of making the playoffs, by staying in 11th, 12th, and 13th in points respectively. Here are the 10 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers who will battle in the seven race playoffs.
- No. 38 Zane Smith
- No. 18 Chandler Smith
- No. 99 Ben Rhodes
- No. 4 John Hunter Nemecheck
- No. 52 Stewart Friesen
- No. 51 Christian Eckes
- No. 66 Ty Majeski
- No. 42 Carson Hocevar
- No. 23 Grant Enfinger
- No. 88 Matt Crafton
Next week, the super truckers of NASCAR will take on the Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Ind., returning to the 0.686 mile track for the first time since 2011. That race will take place at 9 p.m. Eastern on Friday, July 29th. It will be carried live on FS!, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
After Christopher Bell captured the fuel mileage win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this past Sunday afternoon, the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff field expanded to 14 different winners. Bell scored the win after leading 42 of the 301 laps offered in the Ambetter 301, for only his second win in his NASCAR Cup Series career.
“Man, that one was much needed right there,” said Bell, talking to NBC Sports after his victory celebrations. “I’ll tell you what, that was a hell of a race from my viewpoint. That was so much fun racing with the No 45, the No. 22 and the No. 9. We were all running different lines. That was a blast.”
Bell’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr., was the one who led the most laps with 172 starting on lap 1 through 95, and then lap 121 to lap 188. Other big name drivers like Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Harrison Burton, Chase Briscoe, and Kurt Busch led in the 17th event of the season, making for eight lead changes.
Nine cautions (Seven for accidents on the track) plagued the race for 52 laps under yellow in the lone weekend that New Hampshire Motor Speedway holds on the NASCAR calendar. Just on lap six, a five car wreck fest caused Alex Bowman, Josh Bilicki, Ty Dillon, Justin Haley, and BJ McLeod to exit the race early.
Besides the two stage breaks and another yellow for a three car pile up from Michael McDowell, Harrison Burton,and Corey Lajoie, the rest of the cautions were due to drivers spinning out by themselves. Ryan Blaney, Todd Gilliland, Chase Briscoe, and Kyle Busch on two separate occasions, were all victims of the new Next Gen car taking on the flat mile oval in New England.
A new rivalry might have also been unleashed this weekend in Loudon, as Brad Keselowski and Austin Dillon had a war with race cars on the backstretch under the yellow flag pace laps. For reasons still unknown, Austin gave Keselowski a bump letting him know he didn’t like something Bad Brad did.
Keselowski then returned the favor more than once heading into turn three, by bumping him to the point that Dillon was in the infield grass area. The two however didn’t settle it out after the race was complete late Sunday afternoon, and some still wonder if this will carry on next weekend.
After completing the race in three hours, 14 minutes, and 45 seconds, with an average speed of 98.113 mph, the Cup Series approaches its halfway point at Pocono Raceway for the M&M’ Fan Appreciation 400. Coverage for the tricky triangle will begin at 3 p.m. Eastern on USA, MRN, and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
Austin Hill became a two time winner in the Xfinity Series Saturday evening, after snatching up his second victory at his home track of Atlanta Motor Speedway. Hill beat out Josh Berry on the final lap to win by 0.111 seconds in a race that took 1:57:36 hours to complete.
The race had a total of six cautions that took 28 of the 163 laps under yellow conditions, and had 17 lead changes throughout the course of the day. The average speed through the 250 mile event was 128.071 mph.
Following Hill in first and Berry in second, Ryan Truex finished in third, Tyler Reddick finished fourth, Daniel Hemric finished fifth, Noah Gragson finished sixth, Justin Allgiaer finished seventh, Landon Cassill finished eighth, Riley Herbst finished ninth, and AJ Allmendinger finished in the 10th position, wrapping up the top 10.
Next week, the stars of the Xfinity Series will race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, to race the Crayon 200. It will begin at 2:30 p.m. Eastern on USA, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Since his tenure in the Xfinity Series, Tyler Reddick had the makings to become a NASCAR phenom in the future. One would only expect that after his two Xfinity Series Championships for JRM and RCR in ‘18 and ‘19, that he would bring tons of momentum over to Richard Childress Racing No. 8 Chevy Camaro in his rookie year in 2020 and be in contention to win every week.
While that is the case, he never did get his luck turned around to put his car into victory lane after so many times he dominated week by week. That is until this past Sunday on the fourth of July weekend, that Reddick pulled his Caterpillar Chevrolet into victory lane, at one of the most historic road courses in the United States.
“It was just a huge sense of relief,” said Reddick in the media center after scoring his first Cup Series win. “This whole team, we’ve been at it for a couple years now together, and even some of us back to the Xfinity Series days. A lot of great people have helped an immense amount along the way, and it’s just — what a crazy ride it’s been, and just had to put a lot into it. All of us have. It’s really nice to get it finally done.”
The race throughout the day was a clean event to say the least, as the only cautions were for the two stage breaks in the middle of the event, and only two laps were run under the yellow flag conditions. Only three cars in the event out of the 37 entered had mechanical issues throughout the race. Loris Hezemans in the No. 27 car for Team Hezeberg with fuel pump issue), and Bubba Wallace in the No. 23 for 23XI Racing as well as Austin Dillon in the No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing (brake issues).
Reddick had to battle the road course king of Chase Elliott, who had dominated the race up by leading 36 of the 62 laps, and passed him on lap 48 to lead the final 16 laps of the event and earn his first win in NASCAR’s top division. Elliott started on pole and looked unstoppable on the track, even when his car started to develop a steering issue throughout the 250 miles at Elkhart Lake, Wis.
The main question after Sunday’s festivities at the famed circuit is if it will or will not be a part of the 2023 calendar when it gets released later on this summer. Ton’s of talk throughout the media is that it will be replaced with a shorter 2.2 mile track in the streets of Chicago. But did the quiet paced race at Road America seal the deal for it to be on the new and improved schedule? Or did it dig its own grave? Only time will tell if NASCAR belongs in the cheese state.
Next week, NASCAR returns to the famous Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., and the new configuration of the 1.5 mile track that drives more like a Superspeedway track. That race will be carried live on USA, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, starting around 3 p.m. Eastern.
After nearly three hours worth of rain/lightning delays in Lebanon, Tenn., at the Nashville Superspeedway, Chase Elliott in his #9 Chevy Camaro for Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Cup Series interrupted Joe Gibbs Racing’s dominant race at the Music City, and won himself the famous Gibson Guitar trophy. “We’ve had a pretty rough month and a half,” said Elliott on the frontretch of Nashville Superspeedway talking to Marty Snyder of NBC Sports. “So just nice to get back going the right direction. Getting a win is always huge. To do it in a really cool city like Nashville is even better. Looking forward to that guitar.”
While one of the four Hendrick Motorsports ended up having a good night, the three other bowtie drivers wished that their weekend in Tennessee had turned out better. Alex Bowman (Who drove the sponsor , William Byron, and defending race winner from last year at Nashville Kyle Larson all had issues at some point in the race. Bowman (carrying the race sponsor Ally on his Camaro) and Byron finished 36th and 35th respectively, while Larson rebounded after a pit road speeding penalty to finish in fourth.
Rain was the name of the game for the Ally 400, as the race was stopped on lap 41 after lightning struck near the facility and halted the race for just over an hour. Then the race went back to green, until lap 140 when a pop up thunderstorm drilled the 1.333 mile superspeedway with lightning, heavy rain, and powerful winds. It wasn’t until around 10 p.m. Eastern that the track was finally dried enough to have cars back on the speedway. They finally restarted the race, just 10 laps shy from the halfway mark to call the race official.
As previously mentioned, Joe Gibbs Racing in their Toyota Camry’s dominated the majority of the 300 laps at Nashville, but lost the lead when the final caution came out in the evening on lap 293. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Denny Hamlin dove down into pit road to take on new tires and fuel, while the eventual race winner Elliott, Kurt Busch, and Ryan Blaney (who spun earlier in the event after having a loose race car) stayed out on the racetrack, and finished in that order in the race.
Kyle Busch wanted to stay out of the pits, but crew chief for the #18 car Ben Beshore convinced Kyle that taking two tires would be the right move. The cars who stayed out made it much tougher to pass to try to contend for the win, and Kyle was visibly upset about the call that was made on top of the pit box.
After his second win of the year, Elliott takes over the lead in the points standings over the #1 of Ross Chastain. Next week, both the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series take on the four mile road course of Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Elliott, in his seventh year in NASCAR's top series, looks to be a contender there as seven of his 15 career wins have been on road courses. The NASCAR Xfinity Series in the Henry 180 will begin on Saturday, July 2nd, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern. The NASCAR Cup Series will race the Kwik Trip 250 on Sunday, July 3rd, at 3 p.m. Eatsern. Both races will be carried live on USA, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Even in the lone off weekend the NASCAR Cup Series gets this year, Todd Gilliland couldn’t stay away from a race car (or in this case race truck). To top it off, he got the job done at Knoxville Raceway Saturday night while driving for his father’s David Gilliland Racing in the No. 17 Ford F-150 on the half mile short track. And of all weekends he won for DGR, he won on Fathers Day weekend.”
“This is just so fun,” said Todd in the post race press conference 20 minutes after winning at Knoxville. “I love Truck racing, I love dirt racing, and I love DGR. I’m super proud of everyone at DGR.” David Gilliland explained to the media members that this deal for Todd to drive the truck wasn’t completed until last Monday. It’s his one off weekend of the year, and he wants to do nothing but race. It was a special win from the owner's side since it was Father’s Day weekend and to win with Todd. The track was great tonight, better than last year since we had all of the track prep, and it was great all around.”
Todd explained why he would want to drive in the NASCAR Truck Series race on his lone off weekend of the year. “When you grow up in a racing family, I feel like racing is really just a hobby. Whether it turns into a professional career or not, I just love racing, and it feels like a hobby to me. The Cup Series is definitely really stressful, so to come out here and to be relaxed, have fun, and win is great.”
Like the elder Gilliland referred to, the racing tonight was a major upgrade than the green white checkered wreck fest that occurred last July. The Trucks were able to create a cushion on the flat dirt surface in Southern Iowa, which may be new to NASCAR but not for long time dirt fans. The cushion of dirt was able to produce side by side action, rather than the one lane grove like the inaugural race last year. Ben Rhodes in the pits Saturday afternoon said that he was afraid of the track laying down rubber like the inaugural event last summer, but that certainly wasn’t the case.
Grant Enfinger also mentioned the fear of the track laying down too much water on the track. He was afraid if that was done, you would see the nose opening be pancaked full of mud and would result in blown engines or overheating. The Clean Harbors 150 only saw one overheating issue with Rhodes back early in stage one, but was quickly resolved and had o further issues throughout the night.
While Todd said that the Saturday night for the trucks was fun, others wished it didn’t end the way it did. Driver of the No. 42 Carson Hocevar was dominant all race long in the beginning portions, until a blown engine ruined his night to just a 35th place finish. 2022 Gateway Dirt Nationals champion Tyler Carpenter, who won his way to a one off start in the No. 41 for Niece Motorsports, had an issue early in the race that landed him his first last place finishes in the top three national series of NASCAR.
All in all, the 2022 running of the Clean Harbors 150 at Knoxville Raceway took two hours, 12 minutes, and seven seconds to complete, with an average speed of 34.061 mph. The race had nine cautions for 45 laps under the lights and had six lead changes with a margin of victory of 0.945 seconds over John Hunter Nemecheck in the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra.
From starting at Joe Gibbs Racing, then transforming into a Ford driver at Stewart Haas Racing, and even to the Gaunt Brothers team where he had a little to no shot at victory, Daniel Suarez kept faith that he would be a record breaker in the NASCAR scene. He did exactly that in the No. 99 Chevrolet Camaro for TrackHouse Racing at the Sonoma Raceway Sunday afternoon, in route to his first Cup Series win in his sixth full time season.
“It has cost me a lot to get to this point,” remarked Suarez after his memorable victory. “A lot of people don't know that, but it has cost me a lot to get to this country first 10 years ago, and to get to this point, fighting. I come from a very humble family. Every step of my life has cost me a lot.”
Suarez battled for his first career win against four fast Fords of Buescher, McDowell, Harvick, and Cindric, some of the best road course ringers in the top division of NASCAR. But not all had such a fun trip to wine country this weekend, even to go as far as to say that they wished they never made the trip to Northern California.
Bubba Wallace had an engine expire on him heading into the chute at Sonoma on just lap 9 of the 110 lap event. Kyle Larson, who had one the previous Toyota SaveMart 350 just one year ago in 2021, had a tire fall off of his Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet after a pit stop in the middle of the race. That means Larson's Crew Chief, Cliff Daniels, will more than likely go on a four week suspension for that failure.
One noticeable change from the last two trips to Sonoma was that NASCAR was utilizing its short course again, the first time since 2018. This was also the second road course of the six schedule in NASCAR's 36 race schedule. The next time we will see the Cup superstars turning left and right will be at the famous Road America on the fourth of July weekend. But for now, NASCAR’s top division will take its only off weekend this next Sunday, and will get ready for a 20 straight weeks of racing starting at Nashville Superspeedway on June 26th. The only NASCAR action next week is the NASCAR CampingWorld Truck Series making its annual trip to Knoxville Raceway for the Clean Harbors 150. That race will start at 9 p.m. Eastern on FS1, MRN, and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Ford Mustang for Team Penske, pulled away from the field on the final restart to win the Inaugural Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway. He talked about his success on new venues with his three wins at inaugural events and said, “I think it is a combination of things. I think our team did a great job and they did it quickly. This weekend was kind of different because of the fact that all of us (referring to the three Team Penske drivers) were really good.
“All of us had really good speed in the car. You have to be so fast when adapting to these new race tracks as far as how you race, call the race, and doing restarts. You have to be open minded to win at these new venues.”But his second points-paying win of the 2022 regular season didn’t come without controversy throughout the day. It all started on lap 28, when the pole sitter and leader at the time Chase Briscoe, wrecked in turns one and two after a left rear tire failure. Austin Cindric would lead after his tire blowout, and would go on to win stage one and collect his 10 points and one playoff point.
Then the controversy that took place during the middle of the race was when Ross Chastain took out Denny Hamlin on lap 66 in turn one. Hamlin then tried to retaliate several times during the course of the race, most notably when he ran Chastain all the way down to the field grass on the back straightaway of the racetrack. That wouldn’t be the last of Chastain though, as he would start another incident that would involve the No. 9 of Chastain and then No. 23 of Bubba Wallace, who drives for Denny Hamlin's team 23XI Racing, on lap 103.
Several drivers led in the first running of the Enjoy Illinois 300. Michael McDowell, Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., and many others were out front during the 240 laps in the event, but it was clear that it was either going to Kyle Busch or Joey Logano. On the final restart from a caution on lap 237 due to a hard hit by Kevin Harvick from a loose wheel, Kyle picked the outside lane to restart in, which would eventually hurt him in the long run. Although he did have the lead on the back stretch with two laps to go, Logano passed him to take the white flag, and eventually win in Madison, Ill.
Kyle Busch on why he chose the outside on the final restart. “My car was better on the outside, but it did take a couple of laps to get set in. I thought Joey (Logano) taking the bottom would help him to put him with my teammate and my brother (Kurt Busch) would start behind me, but I couldn’t do hand signals because Joey was half a car beside me looking at my hand to see when I would go. He just timed a good restart on me and Kurt wasn’t there to help so we didn’t have anything for him getting into turn one.”
Paul Wolfe, crew chief for Logano and the No. 22 crew, hasn’t visited World Wide Technology Raceway since October of 2010, where he and former Penske driver Brad Keselowski scored the last race at Gateway for the Xfinity Series. When asked on what it's like to win in his return visit to the track, he said, “It’s special to win anytime in the Cup Series these days. This level of racing is so hard and to be able to do it in the Cup level, which is a whole other league, it's special. It’s neat for me at least since the last time I was here was 12 years ago and coming out here to win is great. I forgot a lot of things about this track. The track did a great job of preparing for us to race here and I’m sure Joey had a lot of fun racing today and winning the event.”
All in all with a sell out crowd of over 57,000 people in the stands and thousand’s of more in the infield/walkways, it is safe to say that the greater St Louis area loves their NASCAR racing. The energy throughout the entire weekend was electric, and they look forward to hosting more Cup Series action in the upcoming years.
The time of the race was three hours, seven minutes, and 34 seconds, and had an average speed of 97.965 mph with 10 caution flags for 53 of the 245 laps ran Sunday afternoon (overtime finish with the total miles being 306.25). The race had 12 lead changes throughout nine different drivers with 36 in total starting the race, and the margin of victory between Logano and Kyle Busch was 0.655 seconds.
Next week the Xfinity Series has Saturday and Sunday off, but the Cup and Truck Series will take place at the famous Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Cal. The NASCAR CampingWorld Truck Series will race the DoorDash 250, starting at 7:30 p.m. Eastern with coverage by FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Then the Cup Series races the Toyota Save Mart 350 on Sunday starting at 3:30 p.m. Eastern with coverage on FS1, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.