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Chicagoland Speedway will soon be flooded with visions of Saint Nick as the Joliet Township Alumni Association Santa Fun Run 5k takes over the Magnificent Mile and a Half on Saturday, December 2 for a festive fundraiser benefiting Racing Advocates for Community Enrichment (R.A.C.E.), Chicagoland Speedway’s 501(c)3 charitable entity. Participants will wear five-piece Santa suits and/or event t-shirts while running through usually restricted access areas across the speedway.
Santa Fun Run
The event is hosted as a fun run 5k or leisurely 1 mile stroll with participants of all ages and ability levels welcome including families, strollers and wheelchairs. No timing or scoring will take place as the event will be held in the spirit of holiday cheer.
The course begins and ends within Chicagoland Speedway’s 1.5 mile D-shaped tri-oval. Registration fees, which include the Santa suit (while supplies last) and entrance to Santa’s Celebration post-race, are $30 for adults, $20 for students with school ID and $10 for children ages 5-12. Children 4 and under are free. Participants must register by November 30 to receive an event t-shirt.
On the day of the event, the Santa suit in its entirety including hat, beard, jacket, pants and belt, or the event t-shirt, can be worn. To ensure that participants arrive adorned as Kris Kringle, Santa suit and t-shirt pick up will be held at the Alumni Relations Office in the Joliet Township High School (JTHS) Administrative Center, located at 300 Caterpillar Drive in Joliet, prior to the event. Santa suit and t-shirt pick-up dates are as follows:
Saturday, November 18 10 a.m. – noon
Sunday, November 19 1 – 3 p.m.
Wednesday, November 29 7:15 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Thursday, November 30 7:15 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Pictures with Santa in Gatorade Victory Lane
Not a runner? Not a problem. Families can still join Santa Claus for pictures in Gatorade Victory Lane from 10 a.m. to noon and participate in a variety of holiday activities including a craft presented by the Joliet Area Historical Museum for only $10 per person (children 12 and under free). All attendees will be provided a ticket for December Deals & Delights raffle at the Joliet Area Historical Museum taking place that day from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
In addition, R.A.C.E. will host a Toys for Tots Foundation drive in an effort to collect toys for those that are less fortunate in the community. Fans who are able are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys for donation which will be distributed by the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve as Christmas gifts.
Proceeds generated by the Santa Celebration will benefit R.A.C.E. as well as the JTHS Alumni Association. Since its inception, R.A.C.E. has donated over $200,000 to deserving community organizations and with an aim at improving the quality of life for the greater Chicagoland area while focusing on causes centered on youth, safe driving and the military.
Richmond Raceway Reimagined Reaches Construction Milestone with Foundations Poured for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Garages08 Nov 2017 Written by Steven B. Wilson
Richmond Raceway Reimagined (Reimagined) hit a major milestone this week with the completion of the foundations for the new Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garages. The engaging new Cup garages will be a trademark component of Richmond Raceway’s (Richmond) modernized infield, highlighted by interactive fan viewing walkways to allow fans to get closer than ever to their favorite drivers and put them in the middle of the action with teams on race weekends.
“The foundation being poured for the new Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garages is a momentous milestone for Richmond Raceway Reimagined,” said Richmond President Dennis Bickmeier. “This signals the beginning of modernizing our infield to be more welcoming for fans, drivers, and race teams. We have many more milestones to celebrate in the coming months with Richmond Raceway Reimagined.”
To date over 1,000 cubic yards of concrete has been poured into the infield. The next Reimagined milestone will be the new pedestrian tunnel being installed in Turn 1, widening from six to ten feet, with an elevator rising in the newly developed infield. To view the progress of Reimagined, watch our 24-7 Construction Camera at richmondracewayreimagined.com.
Reimagined is a $30 million infield redevelopment project bringing new attractions and state of the art fan-based attractions to the historic Richmond infield. Once completed, the new space will blend modern amenities for today’s fans with the iconic Richmond racing experience fans have come to expect.
Rising above Reimagined will be an exclusive 80-person rooftop club overlooking Gatorade Victory Lane; providing one of the most unique views in all of NASCAR. Two new garage suites, featuring ground level views of the Monster Energy Series garage will also debut in the modernized infield. Additionally, Reimagined provides partners with new fan engagement opportunities and innovative signage that is unprecedented in the market.
The modernized infield debuts over Richmond’s first NASCAR playoff weekend on September 21-22, 2018. Fans can purchase tickets to be in the new infield and become a part of history. One-day ($70) and two-day ($125) tickets are available for purchase by calling 866-455-7223 or visiting the Richmond Ticket Office.
Media can learn more about Reimagined at richmondracewayreimagined.com.
Richmond Raceway is the home for NASCAR racing “under the lights” in 2018. NASCAR returns to the Capital of the Commonwealth for the Toyota spring race weekend on April 20-21, 2018. The action starts with the ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash4Cash race on Friday, April 20. Kids 12 and younger are free in general admission seating areas for all NASCAR XFINITY Series races. Richmond’s spring weekend continues with the fan-friendly Track Takeover driven by AAA, followed by NASCAR’s best in the TOYOTA OWNERS 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race back “under the lights” at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 21.
Richmond’s fall race weekend, presented by Who’s Your Driver, hosts its first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff race weekend on September 21-22, 2018. The action begins on Friday, September 21, with the first race of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs. On Saturday, September 22, Richmond hosts the only Monster Energy Series playoff race “under the lights” with the Federated Auto Parts 400 at 7:30 p.m.
2018 RICHMOND NATION season ticket renewals have been extended to November 9 for fans to hold their same tickets for next season for only $10. Regular season tickets for Richmond’s 2018 NASCAR season go on sale December 1. To learn more, visit us in-person at the Richmond Ticket Office, via phone at 866-455-7223, or online at richmondraceway.com.
Richmond Raceway PR
A championship race calls for championship-caliber dignitaries, and that’s exactly what the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway will have. Multiple-gold winning Olympic gymnast and author Gabby Douglas will serve as the Honorary Starter for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship, the Ford EcoBoost 400, which will take place on Sunday, November 19 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC. As honorary starter, Douglas will wave the green flag at the start of the 267-lap race.
Douglas was a key member of the United States women’s gymnastics team, which won gold at the 2011 World Championship held in Tokyo, Japan. At the London 2012 Summer Olympics, the artistic gymnast won the team gold as a member of the “Fierce Five,” and also took home the individual all-around gold.
The Newport News, Virginia native followed that by becoming the first U.S. reigning Olympic all-around gold medalist in history to return to a second World Championship in 2015 and win the all-around silver medal. At the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, Douglas became the first U.S. all-around Olympic champion to make multiple Olympic teams and win another team gold medal.
“I’m so excited to wave the green flag for the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead Miami Speedway,” said Douglas. “I’ve seen plenty of championships, and the NASCAR championship is definitely going to be one epic event. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
In addition to her career as an artistic gymnast, Douglas is recognized as a two-time The New York Times bestselling author for her books “Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith” and “Raising the Bar.” Douglas has also expanded her role as an actress, featuring in The CW Television Network’s “Vampire Diaries,” Disney Channel’s “Kickin’ It” and Nickelodeon’s “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn.”
“Having Gabby Douglas as our Honorary Starter is extremely exciting and is what Ford Championship Weekend is all about,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer. “She has accumulated countless accolades in her impressive career and is a perfect fit for a championship race. Her superstar-status adds yet another highlight to this year’s pre-race festivities.”
Tickets to the Ford EcoBoost 400 championship, in addition to the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 championship on November 18 and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 championship on November 17 are available and can be purchased by calling (866) 409-RACE (7223) or visiting www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com
Homestead Miami Speedway PR
The future of NASCAR looks bright, as a pair of South Floridians were announced today to the 2018 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Development Team. Homestead-native Nick Sanchez and Dania-native Ernie Francis Jr. were two of six drivers to receive the honor.
The complete roster for next year is stacked with emerging young talent ready to make their mark in the sport. The drivers represent a cross-section of backgrounds – both in terms of heritage and driving disciplines – and all share a common goal: To reach the highest levels of NASCAR.
“What we’re seeing with these six drivers is a group of very talented racers who have shown the ability on and off the track to excel at the next level,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “With an increased focus on seat time and competition among the drivers, we’re looking forward to watching them perform next season.”
“We are thrilled with the level of talent that applied for the program, were invited to the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine and, ultimately, the six who were selected to drive for Rev Racing in 2018,” said Max Siegel, CEO of Rev Racing. “As we’ve seen the program evolve over the years and produce wins and champions, and help elevate drivers such as Daniel Suárez, Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr. to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, these drivers have the ability and potential to carry that legacy forward.”
The new class features the following drivers:
• Ernie Francis Jr., 19, Dania, Florida. Francis has already locked up his fourth Trans Am Series championship, becoming the youngest driver in series history to do so. He has 32 Trans Am Series wins – the most in series history – and 15 Pirelli World Challenge victories. Francis will be a development driver with Rev Racing, running road-course events in the K&N Pro Series East and select Late Model events, as well as testing, as he transitions to oval-track racing.
• Nick Sanchez, 16, Homestead, Florida. Sanchez finished fifth in the 10-race Bojangles Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway with Rev Racing’s Legends Car program last year, and will move up to the team’s full-time Late Model in 2018. Sanchez had a win among five podium finishes in the Summer Shootout.
• Chase Cabre, 20, Tampa, Florida. Cabre finished sixth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship standings and was runner-up for Sunoco Rookie of the Year. He won the 21 Means 21 Pole Award twice and recorded four top-five finishes. He will return to compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and will also race a Late Model in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
• Rubén García Jr., 21, Mexico City, Mexico. García will return to Rev Racing for his third season. The 2015 NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series champion finished fifth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East this year and is third in the PEAK Mexico Series standings with one race remaining. The NASCAR Next graduate will join Cabre in the K&N Pro East in addition to racing in the Late Model.
• Ryan Vargas, 17, La Mirada, California. Vargas won the Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award in 2016 as the highest finishing multicultural or female driver in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I. He was runner-up for NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Josten’s Rookie of the Year for California in 2016 while racing at Irwindale and Bakersfield’s Kern County Raceway Park and the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This season, he scored a pair of wins this year to finish third in the state standings and 16th in the national standings. Vargas will drive in the third full-time K&N Pro Series East car and also race in the Late Model.
• Isabella Robusto, 13, Fort Mill, South Carolina. Robusto will anchor Rev Racing’s Youth Driver Program as she returns to the team to drive in the Legends car. Robusto will be one of four youth development drivers, with the remaining three to be announced at a later date. She was third overall at the Bandolero Winter Nationals and was the South Carolina Legends Young Lions champion in 2016 and was third overall in points in the Bojangles Summer Shootout Series in 2015.
NASCAR Drive for Diversity aligns drivers with a team of executives, athletic directors, crew chiefs and mentors tasked with helping them achieve career successes, and thus improving their goal of reaching one of the three NASCAR national series.
The 2017 NASCAR season was another banner year for NASCAR Drive for Diversity alumni, as three graduates made a major impact at the sport’s highest level.
Kyle Larson earned four wins to establish his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team as a force in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. A contender for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, Daniel Suárez this year became the first Mexican-born driver to compete full-time in the sport’s premier series, and in February raced in his first DAYTONA 500. Last month, Darrell Wallace Jr. was announced as the new driver of Richard Petty Motorsports’ iconic No. 43 Ford for the 2018 season.
For more information on NASCAR Drive for Diversity, visit www.NASCARDiversity.com.
Homestead-Miami Speedway PR
The stars are beginning to align for the Ford EcoBoost 300’s pre-race festivities, as Homestead-Miami Speedway has named NBC Universo’s “The Riveras” actor Jacqie Campos as the national anthem singer for the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship race on Saturday, November 18 at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Campos, who is the daughter of the late Mexican-American music icon Jenni Rivera, has starred in multiple docu-reality series, including “I Love Jenni” and “Chiquis ‘n Control” on NBC Universo. The television actress now joins her four siblings on the hit show “The Riveras,” which finished 2016 as the cable network’s No. 1 rated show.
Campos’ performance prior to the Ford EcoBoost 300 will be a major part of the “The Riveras” storyline next season. The show will follow Jacqie as she prepares to sing the national anthem and will conclude with her performance at the XFINITY Series championship.
“Since I can remember, it has always been a dream of mine to perform the national anthem at a major sporting event,” said Campos. “Being chosen to sing before the XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway is beyond my wildest expectations. I'm so grateful and excited to be a part of a race where someone else's dreams will come true."
“The Rivera name is renown around Latin music,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer. “It is exciting to have an amazing talent like Jacqie perform our country’s national anthem, and add yet another championship facet to this year’s pre-race ceremonies.”
Tickets for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 championship race, in addition to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 championship race, November 19, and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 championship race, November 17, can be purchased by calling (866) 409-RACE (7223) or visiting www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com
Homestead-Miami Speedway PR
VIRginia International Raceway, which was recently chosen as one of Car and Driver’s top six road courses in North America, is unveiling its action-packed lineup of events for 2018. The adrenaline pumping track schedule features nine spectator favorites. Tickets will go on sale mid-November, with fans who book Cyber Monday, Nov. 27, receiving a special incentive.
The season gets underway with the SCCA Majors Tour April 13-15, a pinnacle of club racing in North America. It continues to rev up in late April with the Pirelli World Challenge, just the second time the track is hosting the thrilling production car-based racing championship with top professional drivers going head-to-head in Bentleys, McLarens, Ferraris and more. Early May brings a change of pace, when world-class motorcycle riders converge on the track for the MotoAmerica road racing series.
August is once again an exciting month at VIR, as the fan-favorite IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship makes its only mid-Atlantic stop in the premier North American sports car racing series at the track Aug. 17-19. In addition to the headlining Michelin GT Challenge race, the action-packed weekend will feature several support series including the Biscuitville Grand Prix for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. Following that excitement, VIR will transport fans back in time for September’s Heacock Classic Gold Cup, where two distinct eras collide to display historic racing action.
“The spectator event lineup at VIR just keeps getting better and better,” said Connie Nyholm, owner and CEO of VIR. “We’re beyond excited to see the return of so many prestigious races to our road course, and are proud to be able to offer some of the highest quality events racing has to offer. We look forward to putting on yet another unforgettable fan experience in 2018.”
VIR’s full 2018 spectator schedule includes:
April 27-29: Pirelli World Challenge
May 4-6: MotoAmerica Championship of Virginia
May 18-20: NASA Mid-Atlantic HyperFest
June 1-3: Historic Sportscar Racing
Aug. 17-19: Michelin GT Challenge
IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda
Sept. 15-16: Championship Cup Series Motorcycle Road Racing
Trans-Am Road Racing Series
Tickets for all events will go on sale in mid-November. Fans who purchase a ticket for any of VIR’s 2018 events on Cyber Monday, Nov. 27, will receive a free shirt voucher, redeemable at the TMI Racing Products store in the North Paddock at VIR. Spectators save $10 by purchasing any event ticket in advance. Children 16 and under are admitted free of charge with a paying adult. Active military are admitted free of charge and veterans receive a 50 percent discount with valid military ID. Paddock access will also be available at every event. Corporate and other groups can also take advantage of competitive pricing options for lodging, catering, team activities and more hospitality amenities during races and anytime throughout the year. To buy tickets or learn more, visit www.virnow.com.
Everyone knows that Ford Championship Weekend, November 17-19, will crown champions in each of NASCAR’s three national series. What many might not be aware of is that another championship will be decided next weekend – at the concession stand.
The dog days of the NASCAR schedule reach its pinnacle at Homestead-Miami Speedway with champions on the track and a hot dog champion off of it. During the course of the 2017 season, each International Speedway Corporation (ISC) track debuted their own hot dog, created by Americrown, also a subsidiary of ISC. Of the hot dogs that premiered at each of ISC’s 12 tracks this year, six have made the final round of the Hot Dog Playoffs 2017, including the “Magic City Dog,” Homestead-Miami Speedway’s entry into the contest.
All six hot dogs will be available during Ford Championship Weekend at the “Dawg House,” which is located in the midway near Section 215. There, fans will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite hot dog. The winner of the contest will be announced on Monday, November 20.
Homestead-Miami Speedway’s Magic City Dog will be available throughout the track over the course of the three days. The Magic City Dog starts with a grilled Eisenberg Angus Sirloin hot dog. Layered on top is a heaping array of ingredients comprised of house-made alligator chili, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, mango ketchup and crispy potato sticks. It sells for $8 and is sure to satisfy the heartiest appetite of any NASCAR fan.
Tickets for 2017 Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway are available and can be purchased by calling (866) 409-RACE (7223) or visiting www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com
For more information on the Hot Dog Playoffs 2017, please visit www.americrown.com/vanity-
Homestead-Miami Speedway PR
Race fans will be in for quite a treat when they flock to Las Vegas Motor Speedway to get their NASCAR fix in March.
The speedway, in an effort to improve and diversify its fan experience, is making a number of enhancements to the speedway’s seating and viewing areas for 2018. The renovations, designed by the Detroit-based architectural firm Rossetti, will modernize and transform LVMS’s fan experience, bringing the facility to a new level and in line with fan expectations that continue to evolve at sports venues.
Enhancements include three completely renovated, exclusive clubhouse areas; the new Turn One Social Pavilion; two separate loge-box seat offerings; and a racing-inspired, interactive sports lounge. The renovations are currently under way and will be in place for the speedway’s first of two tripleheader NASCAR weekends next year.
“We’re extremely excited about the enhancements we have planned for our speedway, and we know fans will enjoy the new features,” LVMS President Chris Powell said. “Sports fans today are looking for greater variety and expect a more dynamic experience at events, and our enhancements will help provide them with memories they won’t soon forget. These changes will help modernize and diversify our facility, and we can’t wait for our loyal fans to reap the benefits of the improvements.
“We have big plans for 2018, and these improvements are a major part of what we expect to be a monumental year for our speedway.”
The clubhouse-member experience will be redefined at the track, as rails will separate the ends of the club seating sections and gates will mark the ends of aisles leading to general seating, making it a truly exclusive area. The terrace between club seating and clubhouses will enhance the guest experience by providing an outdoor social zone where members can mingle at tables and meander through drink rails while still feeling connected to the event.
The interior of the clubhouses will be remodeled to meet the demands of modern, club-member expectations, including a flexible space containing multiple portable food-and-beverage options, a combination of different types of tables and chairs and soft, lounge seating. The clubhouses will feature new finishes that enhance the racing experience and will be tied within the framework of a “speed and light” theme to exemplify racing and the city of Las Vegas.
Below the Richard Petty Terrace near Turn 1, the speedway will showcase multiple platforms of seating, including loge boxes. The area will seat approximately 200 fans and will cater to die-hard race fans who want to be close to the action while enjoying the comforts of swiveling armchairs, padded seating, all-inclusive food-and-beverage stations courtesy of Levy Restaurants, wait-staff service and drink rails.
In addition, the Turn One Social Pavilion, in the area between the start-finish line and Turn 1, will create the ultimate flexible party zone adjacent to the racing surface. One continuous platform will allow for multiple seating areas, social zones and game playing. Fans who have purchased annual and weekend grandstand tickets, along with premium-seat holders, will have access to the speedway’s new interactive sports lounge, a 5,200-square-foot delight for the senses located in a reconfigured area located above the general seating between Turn 4 and the start-finish line. The sports lounge will be a hotbed of activity and will give fans a chance to gather in a social environment surrounded by a multitude of static and dynamic displays.
Attendees will be able to keep tabs on all of their favorite sporting events via a wall of flat-screen TVs while still being a part of the excitement taking place on the track. The lounge’s interior will include seating for 140 and a permanent central bar with strategically placed portable food zones, multiple seating options and restrooms.
In addition, the sports lounge’s footprint also will include a large exterior terrace extended over the existing stadium seating, the perfect area for a “party platform” environment that will be complete with portable food and beverage carts, areas for games, social tables and lounge seating surrounding fire pits.
The sports lounge also will include a number of dashboard-style digital information displays, as well as racing-related signage and information areas. More than 40 seats with panoramic views of the track are also planned for the new lounge.
LVMS will make history in 2018 when it becomes the first NASCAR speedway to host two tripleheader weekends in the same year. In addition to the March 2-4 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube Weekend, the speedway will host its first late-season NASCAR Weekend Sept. 14-16.
Tickets are available by calling 1-800-644-4444 or logging on to www.LVMS.com.
Kevin Harvick finally checked Texas Motor Speedway off his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to-do list Sunday while checking into the Championship 4 Playoffs with a hustle-from-behind victory over Martin Truex Jr. in the AAA Texas 500.
Harvick, of Stewart-Haas Racing, ended a daunting 0-for-29 streak dating to 2001 in Cup around TMS' high-banked/1.5-mile oval when he completed a pass around Truex Jr. exiting the re-profiled Turn 1 and 2 complex on Lap 325 of the scheduled 334-lapper.
With the win, Harvick joined Playoff points leader Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch in the Championship 4 event set for Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19.
Busch, the 2015 series champion from Joe Gibbs Racing, clinched with a victory at the half-mile Martinsville Speedway last Sunday. Truex Jr.'s runner-up result in Fort Worth gave him 4,168 points and placed him 57-points ahead of the closest winless Playoff driver behind him, Brad Keselowski in fourth. The final open spot will be filled next Sunday on the one-mile Phoenix Raceway.
"I'm happy to finally get to Victory Lane here in Texas...damn it's good!" Harvick beamed after parking his No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion at the start/finish line, where he was greeted by a group of rowdy fans pressing against the frontstretch fence. "We've been qualifying well here and racing well ever since I've been at Stewart-Haas Racing and just never got it to work out to go to Victory Lane. Today we had to earn it.
"To be able to pass the No. 78 (of Truex Jr.) for the win is something that's huge for our confidence and team knowing we need to go to another 1.5-mile at Homestead to race for the championship. I'm really proud of everyone on our Mobil 1 Ford. This thing was a hot rod today. Great to check that one off, baby!"
Harvick and team co-owner Tony Stewart noted SHR went into this season after switching OEMs from Chevrolet to Ford. "We had to overcome a lot with that change," said Stewart, a retired three-time Cup champ. "But at the same time, everybody in the field had an aero change, aero-package-wise, too.
"What I saw tonight is something that I'm really encouraged about. It wasn't just the fact of winning this race, but it's just how it was won - how Kevin drove those last 20, 25 laps. I know Kevin and I can tell you watching his driving style, there's something those other three guys that are going to make it to Homestead to be worried about. I've seen this man when he gets locked-in like this, and he's strong right now."
Harvick's margin of victory was 1.580-seconds at an average speed of 143.234 mph. Harvick led five times for 38 laps on a day when 13 drivers took turns pacing the race. Coincidentally, record race-time temperatures in the low-90s were July afternoon/brain-frying hot in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Temperatures inside the cramped Cup cockpits were reported at 120 degrees.
Harvick didn't wilt as he began to reel Truex Jr. in following the day's eighth caution on Lap 284 for Kyle Larson's fiery crash into the Turn 2 wall. The resulting cleanup prompted NASCAR to red flag the event for 10 minutes, 29 seconds. The winning move went down on Lap 325 through the Turn 1 and 2 complex after Harvick did some on-the-fly homework.
"I saw the No. 42 at the beginning of the race really driving into Turn 1 really deep," said Harvick, whose previous best finish in Fort Worth was second in November 2014 and April 2015. "For me, I knew I needed to do something different in order to get past Martin. I tried to just start driving it in there and we kept going faster and faster. I picked up like two-tenths. I kept driving it in there and one lap I got close enough to get the air off the back of his car. I actually got to the outside and was able to pass him on the outside. That's a credit to the racetrack for getting it rubbered-up and all the things they have done to prep it."
To recap, TMS' entire racing surface and pit road were repaved during the offseason. In addition, Turns 1 and 2 were re-profiled from 24 degrees of banking down to 20 degrees. That area also was widened from 58-feet to 78-feet to promote more passing opportunities. Turns 3 and 4 have retained their traditional 24-degree banking.
Truex Jr., who led four times for a race-high 107 laps in his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota Camry, indicated Harvick's winning move was almost inevitable.
"I knew he was quicker," said Truex Jr., of Furniture Row Racing. "Once he got around the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) I guess it was, he started coming really fast and that's all I had. Just struggled a little on the long run today, which was normally where we're our best. He seemed to be better when he got out front _ we were good when we got out front toward the middle of the race and we just got too loose in those long runs. I would get loose in the corners, looser and looser.
"I did all I could do on the inside, but we had the No. 6 (Trevor Bayne) and some other dummy racing side-by-side in front of us and I was way loose in traffic and I got loose going into (Turn) 1 and Harvick jumped to my outside. He was just faster in the end. He was just gone. He was quicker, got me in a bad spot and he was gone. One of those deals. I think we could have held them off on a clean racetrack, but the No. 6 car is in the damn way every week. That's pretty normal."
On the plus side, Truex Jr. took satisfaction that his team's body of work this season allowed him to clinch a Championship 4 slot one week early. "It feels great," said Truex, who posted his 24th top-10 finish in 2017 and his 14th top-10 result in 25 races at TMS. "It feels amazing - that's what we set out to do this year was to make it to Homestead and fight for the title and we feel like we're right there. I just can't wait to get there and get back to work. I wish we could have won today - it would have been a little sweeter going and locking it up in Victory Lane - but we were off a little bit there at the end."
Harvick joined Kyle Busch as the only drivers to have won at TMS in all three NASCAR touring series. A five-time winner here in the XFINITY Series, Harvick has single wins in both the Camping World Truck Series and now in Cup.
Kyle Busch was a non-factor after cutting a tire on the opening lap en route to a 19th-place finish, one lap down. He will take his Martinsville win and 4,118 points into Phoenix Raceway.
Hamlin's third-place finish in the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota left him fifth in the standings with 4,092 points, 76 behind Truex Jr. and 19 back of Keselowski, the 2012 Cup champion from Team Penske who placed fifth in his No. 2 Wurth Ford and has 4,111 points.
"You know, obviously the No. 4 and No. 78 were really fast all day," said Hamlin, who led three times for 65 laps. "We had a really good FedEx Camry, just had a couple bad restarts there where I went high, lost my track position and we had to take two (tires) to get that track position back that I lost. Overall, a good day. I mean great points day. We scored a lot of points, but lost _ lost positions there with the No. 4 winning, so we'll just keep digging, keep giving ourselves a shot to win and hopefully next week will be our week."
Ryan Blaney is sixth in points in his No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Fusion with 4,089, 79 behind the leader and three behind Hamlin. Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 Hooters Chevrolet SS, is seventh in points with 4,062, 106 behind the leader and 27 behind Blaney.
Meanwhile, seven-time/reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson is eighth in points with 4,060 - 108 behind Truex and two behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Elliott after a miserable finish of 27th - three laps down to Harvick. Johnson admitted he and crew chief Chad Knaus were exiting Texas scratching their respective heads.
"Yes, probably more than anyone else is," said Johnson, who said he fought a corner entry handling issue in his No. 48 Lowe's Chevy SS all day. "We've got to figure something out. Kansas (another 1.5-mile speedway) was a lot like this. It was just extremely difficult to drive the car and carry entry speed. And then we had a loose wheel and then contact on a restart. We started off in a hole and just kept digging a deeper one as we went.
"I'm definitely disappointed. And, I honestly just feel bad for my team. These guys are working so hard. And to work this hard and not see any speed go back in the car and have bad results as the last three weeks have been is pretty disappointing."
Still, a win by any of the aforementioned five Playoff hopefuls next Sunday in Avondale, in the Arizona desert, will advance him into the Final Four.
"It's been a good track for us," said Johnson, a seven-time Cup winner at TMS. "But this last half of the year has been really weird. In places where we expect to run well and traditionally do, we haven't. But I know we're building a better race car and taking a few new ideas to Phoenix and we'll go there and fight as hard as we can. And that's one thing this team will never do is give up."
Mahoning Valley Speedway closed out the 2017 season on Sunday afternoon with a program of Enduros and Demo Derbies.
Considering the wet and damp conditions, the Enduros proved quite entertaining to say the least while in typical Demo fashion it was a slam bang affair of metal mashing and mudslinging.
There were three Enduros run, a Big Car, Small Car and Jr. Car class but amazingly the same vehicle won each feature.
Brothers Jacob and Cody Boehm each put on individual driving clinics in capturing the first place finishes.
Jacob was up first, leading all but two laps en route to his second straight Jr. Enduro verdict over Cassidy Altemose.
He then signed into the Big Car race with the same car and would continue his dominating performance, this time going the distance as the leader for all circuits.
While enjoying his second stop in Victory Lane, the team then fueled up the No. 81 while there and taking the controls was Cody.
While it took 30 laps to get the front spot over Mark Schwalm, there would be no looking back from there on as lapped all but runner up BJ Wambold on his cruise to victory.
Gary Woodring was the last man standing in the Big Car Demo, beating Travis Levan. With that done Woodring also staked claim to the 2017 Demo title as he won all three events held this season.
In the Small Car Demo Mark Schwalm won a tug of war over Tanner Strohl. Trisha Connelly was named as Small Car Demo champion.