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Kenseth wins first pole of year for Hollywood Casino 400

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Matt Kenseth will start from the pole for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Kenseth qualified first for the first time this season with a lap at 192.089 mph for the 18th pole of his career.

“It’s nice to get a pole, I feel like our qualifying hasn’t been nearly as good this year, as consistent as it has been in the years since I’ve been at JGR,” Kenseth told NBCSN. “We barely got it … obviously our Camry’s have been fast, our DeWalt Flexvolt Camry’s being driving good. Jason Ratcliff made all the right adjustments. Round One we were pretty decent, Round Two it was off a little bit off, and Round Three it was just right.”

Joe Gibbs Racing-affiliated Toyotas captured the top four starting spots with Kenseth followed by Kyle Busch (192.084), Carl Edwards (191.015) and Martin Truex Jr. (190.786). Alex Bowman (190.315) will start fifth in the No. 88 Chevrolet.

Kenseth’s pole is the 10th of the year for JGR. All four of its drivers have won a pole. Kenseth had four in 2015.

The only three Chase drivers who didn’t reach the third round were Chase Elliott (13th), Kurt Busch (15th) and Jimmie Johnson (21st).

“From round one to round two the car was much tighter,” Johnson told NBCSN. “We attempted to free it up, and I’m not sure if some of those adjustments might have changed the ride height of the car, affected the splitter’s orientation to the ground. A ton tighter than what we had in the opening round.”

This will be Johnson’s fifth start of 20th or worse this season. Johnson, who won last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway to secure a spot in the Round of 8, never has made the final round of group qualifying at Kansas.

“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing,” Johnson said. “I’m not accustomed to qualifying well all the time. I’m used to racing through traffic.”

The first round briefly was red-flagged after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made contact with the wall exiting Turn 4. Stenhouse advanced to the second round and qualified 18th.

Click here to see full qualifying results.

NASCAR America: Kyle Busch questions Xfinity rules package at Indy

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Kyle Busch isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and he certainly did so after Saturday’s  Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NASCAR implemented a number of changes to make the racing closer, tighter and more exciting — including restrictor plates, a larger rear spoiler, aero ducts, and a smaller splitter — and achieved all that on many fronts.

But not for the younger Busch brother, who wasn’t pleased with the rules package. Was it actually designed to specifically slow him down rather than to even out things for the entire field?

Or was he just simply upset because he didn’t win a third Xfinity race in a row at IMS?

Check out how our NASCAR America analysts gauged the Xfinity changes in the above video.

 

TriStar Motorsports team owner Mark Smith passes away

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Mark Smith, owner of TriStar Motorsports, died Saturday at his home, after a long battle with cancer, the team announced Monday. He was 63.

He began his racing career building engines for his brother Jack’s drag car in the 1970s. He moved his family from the West Coast in the early 1990s to pursue a career in NASCAR. He was the owner of TriStar Motorsports and Pro Motor Engines.

TriStar Motorsports fields the No. 14 in the Xfinty Series with JJ Yeley and the No. 72 in the Cup Series with Cole Whitt. The team stated the team will continue operations under the management of Bryan Smith, son of Mark Smith.

“It was dad’s dream to own and operate a NASCAR team,” Bryan Smith said. “He devoted his life to that dream and his family plans to honor his wishes by continuing our efforts in his memory.”

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Victory Junction Gang victoryjunction.org or NOVA (National Organization for Vehicle Access, part of the BraunAbility) novafunding.org.

The family will receive friends from 5-8 p.m. ET, Aug. 1 at Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, Mooresville, North Carolina. They have created a Facebook page where you are encouraged to leave a story for the family to enjoy. (facebook.com/Remembering-Mark-Smith-301261653675224)

NASCAR America: Analysts break down Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. wreck (video)

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Given how wild the Brickyard 400 played out, the big wreck between race leaders Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. wasn’t exactly surprising.

Rather, with the way the race transpired from the opening lap, was the Busch/Truex wreck almost inevitable?

Truex got loose and washed up into the left rear of Busch’s car, sending both drivers and their respective cars into the outside retaining walls, hitting hard and ending their respective days.

Check out what our NASCAR America analysts had to say about the wreck from Monday’s show in the above video.

NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr. recaps wild Brickyard 400 (video)

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, Dale Earnhardt Jr. — who will become part of our NBC Sports Group in 2018 — looked back on a wild and intense Brickyard 400.

Earnhardt was one of several drivers whose day came to an early ending — in Junior’s case when he ran into the back of Trevor Bayne‘s car, destroying his radiator in the process.

All the mayhem and mishaps could be linked to over-aggressive driving, Earnhardt said, saying that every driver was in “attack mode,” especially on restarts.

Check out Junior in the video above.