Upon Further Review: Kansas

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Ryan Blaney’s fifth-place finish Saturday night at Kansas Speedway marked the fourth time in the last five races that a rookie has placed in the top five.

The streak started at Texas with Chase Elliott finishing fifth. Elliott was fourth at Bristol. No rookie was in the top five at Richmond (Elliott was the top rookie, placing 12th). Elliott placed fifth at Talladega, while Blaney was ninth. And then Kansas.

“When you can run with the best guys, you learn a lot,’’ Blaney said. “That was a great learning experience.”

Elliott has seven top-10 finishes to lead all Hendrick Motorsports drivers. He also has three top-five finishes. Blaney has one top-five and four top-10 finishes for the Wood Brothers this season.

Kyle Busch’s victory not only was his series-high third win of the year but also tied him with Tony Stewart for career victories at Joe Gibbs Racing with 33.

That ranks sixth among current teams in most wins with the same organization. Jeff Gordon is first with all 93 of his Sprint Cup victories at Hendrick Motorsports.

Stewart is the only driver who either has or is tied for the most wins at more than one organization. He also has the most wins at Stewart-Haas Racing with 15.

Here’s a look at the current Sprint Cup teams and the driver with the most wins at that organization.

Chip Ganassi Racing — Jamie McMurray … 5 wins

Front Row Motorsports — David Ragan … 1 win

Furniture Row Racing — Regan Smith and Martin Truex Jr. … 1 win

Hendrick Motorsports — Jeff Gordon … 93 wins

Joe Gibbs Racing — Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch … 33 wins

JTG Daugherty — A.J. Allmendinger … 1 win

Richard Childress Racing — Dale Earnhardt … 67 wins

Richard Petty Motorsports — Marcos Ambrose and Kasey Kahne … 2 wins

Roush Fenway Racing — Mark Martin … 35 wins

Stewart-Haas Racing — Tony Stewart … 15 wins

Team Penske — Rusty Wallace … 37 wins

Wood Brothers Racing — David Pearson … 43 wins

Denny Hamlin nearly has equaled the number of speeding penalties he had last year with 25 races remaining in the Sprint Cup season.

Hamlin’s two speeding penalties Saturday at Kansas give him six for the season. He had seven last year.

While Brad Keselowski rallied from a speeding penalty to win at Las Vegas, 15.2 percent of drivers assessed a speeding penalty came back to finish in the top 10 this season. Only 6.1 percent of those assessed a speeding penalty this year scored a top-five finish. Keselowski has done it twice with his Vegas win and a fifth-place finish at Martinsville.

Drivers with the most speeding penalties this year:

6 – Denny Hamlin

5 – Kyle Larson

4 – Greg Biffle

4 – Austin Dillon

3 – Brad Keselowski

3 – Casey Mears

3 – David Ragan

3 – Brian Scott

3 – Regan Smith

3 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

— Only three drivers have scored top-10 finishes in each of the four races on 1.5-mile tracks this season.

Kansas winner Kyle Busch also won at Texas, the most recent 1.5-mile race before Kansas, and was third at Atlanta and fourth at Las Vegas. His average finish at 1.5-mile tracks this season is 2.3.

Kevin Harvick, who finished second at Kansas, placed sixth at Atlanta, seventh at Las Vegas and 10th at Texas for an average finish of 6.3 at those tracks.

Kurt Busch, who finished third at Kansas, was fourth at Atlanta, ninth at Las Vegas and ninth at Texas. His average finish at those tracks is 6.3.

— There have been six different winners in the first 11 races of the season. That’s the fewest number of different winners at this point in a season since 2007 when there also were six winners.

In 2007, Jimmie Johnson (four wins), Kevin Harvick (one) and Kyle Busch (one) combined for six of those 11 wins. In 2016, Johnson (two), Harvick (one) and Busch (three) also combined for six wins.

Cole Pearn to honor late friend with fundraiser for family next month in Toronto

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A testimonial to Cole Pearn’s best friend, who unexpectedly passed away in early August, as well as a fundraiser for his family will be held Friday, Jan. 5, at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Pearn’s lifelong friend, Jacob Damen, died unexpectedly after contracting a fast-moving bacterial infection on August 3.

Pearn, crew chief for the 2017 NASCAR Cup championship for Furniture Row Racing, will oversee the gala event, which will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. ET.

The evening will also include an appearance by 2017 NASCAR Cup champion Martin Truex Jr., silent and live auctions, the opportunity to meet both Pearn and Truex and other events.

All net proceeds from the evening will be given to the Damen Family Fund.

“We miss our buddy Jacob dearly,” Pearn said in a media release. “We all have family and friends that fill a space in our hearts that is irreplaceable.

“Jacob filled the hearts of his wife Carolyn, his sons Lucas and Nolan, his parents Jerry and Kim Damen, twin brother Tyler, sister Julia and countless friends.

“We are going to celebrate his life at the perfect spot, the Hockey Hall of Fame, to support his beautiful wife Carolyn and the two boys, Lucas and Nolan. I can’t wait to get home to celebrate with everyone.”

Click here for more details and to purchase tickets to the ‘Jacob Damen Friend and Fan Remembered’ event.

NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day scheduled for Jan. 20

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The annual NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day will return to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, next month.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 20, the day after the 2018 Hall of Fame class is inducted.

Fans will be able to take part in an autograph session with current national series drivers, Hall of Famers and members of the NASCAR Next class, as well photo opportunities and question-and-answer sessions with a number of NASCAR legends.

Admission to Hall of Fame will be free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis

Admission to driver autograph sessions is free but will require a ticket for participation. Fans can register for the driver autograph sessions at nascarhall.com beginning Saturday, Jan. 13 at 10 a.m. ET. A full driver autograph session schedule will be announced at a later date.

 and on Facebook

Ryan Blaney to guest star on NBC’s ‘Taken’ next year

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Ryan Blaney has a particular set of skills; skills that he’s developed through years of professional auto racing.

The Team Penske driver will get to display those skills next year on NBC’s “Taken” TV Series.

The show serves as a prequel to the 2008 Liam Neeson film of the same name.

Blaney, 23, will guest start on the second season of the series, which premieres Jan. 12. He will appear in an episode titled “Imperium” as a special agent who knows his way around a car.

Here’s the plot synopsis for the episode.

“When a dangerous weapons dealer smuggles his wares into New York City, Bryan Mills (Clive Standen) teams up with the FBI in a race to stop him before he reaches the safety of international waters.”

This won’t be Blaney’s first time in front of a camera playing someone else. He had two movie cameos this year in Logan Lucky and Cars 3.

Blaney was filming his role in “Taken” on Tuesday in Ontario. See his tweets from the set below.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram update: Leaves ICU, moves to acute care facility

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram’s condition continues to improve following a serious car crash in his native Asheville, North Carolina on Dec. 3.

According to an online post by his daughter, Ingram was taken out of Intensive Care on Tuesday and moved into an Acute Care facility, which is not as serious as ICU is.

Ingram did suffer a small setback in his recovery, developing a slight infection that is being treated with antibiotics.

Added the note from Ingrid Jones, Jack’s daughter, “The acute care facility will work to start decreasing his pain meds, over time, and put him on less narcotics and more simple analgesics (like really strong Tylenol, but without narcotics).

“Also they will continue his therapies, physical and occupational, as he’s able. It is still hard to know what his long-term health future will be, but we think his color looks really good, and we have no doubts that he has the will and determination to see this through.

“So if it is humanly possible for him to overcome, he will.”

We’ll continue to have periodic updates on Ingram’s condition as they become available.