Talladega run gives Brian Scott best day of Sprint Cup career

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Sunday was Brian Scott’s greatest day in Sprint Cup racing — no ifs, ands or buts about it.

When Sunday’s green flag dropped, Scott had never earned a top-10 finish in NASCAR’s premier series. His best finishes to date were 12th place showings earlier this year at Fontana and last year at Kansas. And in three previous starts at Talladega Superspeedway, his finishes were 42nd, 43rd and 30th.

But Sunday was different. He scored a second at Talladega Superspeedway — his best career Sprint Cup finish (By comparison, Scott had 208 career starts in the Xfinity Series and hasn’t won in NASCAR’s junior league, but did have four runner-up finishes.)

In addition, Scott’s teammate Aric Almirola had his first top-10 and best finish of the season (eighth).

It marked the best overall finish for RPM team this season and the team’s best Talladega finish since Kasey Kahne was second in 2009.

We had a team meeting before the race,” Scott said after the race. “We knew that we were going to have to be perfect.

“We were going to have to have no mistakes on pit road, going to have to have a fast Ford, keep good track position all day and try to make friends throughout the race so they would work with us at the end, and our game plan was really just executed really well.

“The guys did a great job on pit road.  We had a really solid car. Roush Yates Engines were amazing today and we were able to show our speed to a lot of the field, and when it came down to the finish or the restart there at the end, lucky enough to have Denny Hamlin and some guys work with us to give us an opportunity at the win.”

Scott’s and Almirola’s respective finishes were a boost to the RPM, which has struggled all season.

“A good finish always helps,” Scott said. “It helps with the team, it helps with the guys at the shop – the morale – just trying to get any bit of a bright spot in this year has been difficult, and I think that this is by far the brightest spot that we’ve had in a really challenging year for Richard Petty Motorsports.

“I guess the results and what this does for us going forward is yet to be determined, but I’m just proud.  The guys have worked hard all year.  They’ve deserved a lot better finishes than we’ve given them, and I’m just proud to deliver a good, solid top five, to do my job behind the wheel to give us a shot at the win, just have a good day for Richard Petty Motorsports.”

Scott’s runner-up finish was helped by a late push from Hamlin, who finished third and advanced to the Round of 8.

“I was thankful to have Denny,” Scott said, adding with a laugh, “I don’t know if playing golf with him occasionally helps or not, but, yeah, that’s always a fear of mine.

“When you have a yellow sticker (indicating a rookie Cup driver) on your bumper normally people avoid you like the plague. They go elsewhere, and there was a lot of opportunities where I felt guys tried to do it, but I had a great spotter in Stevie Reeves and was able to block and do the right things to keep our Goody’s Ford with good track position towards the front.

“I don’t know, maybe because this is an elimination race it changed the way Denny raced at the end, but he gave me a great push and gave me an opportunity to get a run at (race winner Joey Logano).

“I just probably didn’t do everything I was supposed to get a strong enough run or back away from him as much as I could have, and just couldn’t get to his quarter panel, but it was exciting there at the end.”

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NASCAR America: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. talks Phoenix finish, racing roots

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. joins NASCAR America to go over his fourth-place finish at Phoenix Raceway.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver also shares his racing origins in Mississippi and the hobbies he and girlfriend Danica Patrick share with each other.

Stenhouse is in his fifth full-time year competing in the NASCAR Cup Series with Roush Fenway Racing.

NASCAR America: 50 States in 50 Shows: Alaska

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NASCAR America continues its journey through the United States with the second chapter in “50 States in 50 Shows.”

Following South Alabama Speedway, the show features Capitol Speedway and Alaska Raceway Park in Alaska.

Owned by Nancy and Wes Wallace, Capitol Speedway is a 3/8th-mile oval and features sprint car racing and demolition derbies.

 

Kevin Harvick crew chief fined, suspended one race for encumbered finish

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Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief, Rodney Childers, has been suspended for one NASCAR Cup Series race and fined $25,000 for an unapproved track bar slider assembly last weekend at Phoenix Raceway.

The penalty, a L1 infraction, results in an encumbered finish. Harvick placed sixth in the Camping World 500.

The No. 4 team has also been docked 10 driver and owner points. Harvick was seventh in the standings after four races. He trailed leader Kyle Larson by 61 points. The loss of points drops Harvick one spot to eighth behind Jamie McMurray.

Harvick has not won a race yet, which would qualify him for the playoffs.

MORE: Brad Keselowski closes crew chief for three races, team docked 35 driver points

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NASCAR docks Brad Keselowski, Team Penske 35 points; suspends crew chief Paul Wolfe

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NASCAR docked Brad Keselowski 35 points, suspended crew chief Paul Wolfe three races and fined Wolfe $65,000 because Keselowski’s car failed inspection after finishing fifth in last weekend’s race at Phoenix Raceway.

NASCAR also docked the team 35 owner points for the L1 infraction. NASCAR stated that Keselowski’s result is an encumbered finish.

NASCAR cited Keselowski’s car for failing weights and measurements on the laser platform. NASCAR stated in Wednesday’s penalty report that the team failed the rear wheel steer on the Laser Inspection Station. 

MORE: NASCAR suspends crew chief Rodney Childers one race

Team Penske issued a statement Wednesday:

“We have acknowledged the penalties levied against the No. 2 team following last weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.  The race cars returned to the race shop today and we are in the process of evaluating the area in question. In the meantime, we have decided Brian Wilson will serve as Brad Keselowski’s crew chief at Auto Club Speedway while we evaluate our approach relative to today’s penalties.”

The penalty drops Keselowski from second in the standings to fourth heading into this weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway.

The more significant issue is how this could impact Keselowski, who already has a win, in the playoffs.

The top 10 in points before the playoffs begin earn additional points. The points leader earns 15 playoff points. The driver second in the standings earns 10 playoff points, the driver third in the standings earns eight playoff points, the driver fourth in the standings earns seven playoff points. It goes down to the driver 10th in the standings earning one playoff point.

Those playoff points carry through the first three rounds, which is different from last year. Falling behind in the regular season – or losing points because of a penalty – could have ramifications in the playoffs. 

“I think it’s real important to explain why points matter this year,” Keselowski said on Fox Sports 1’s “Race Hub” on Wednesday night. “Last year, you got a win and you locked in and you got to the next round. This year with points, you still lock in with wins. The difference is there’s a huge points bonus for having the most points at the end of the season that carries all the way through the playoffs, and you only get that bonus if you’re one of the best cars and leading up front at the end of the regular season, which requires having a lot of points. Thirty-five points is a pretty big deal, and so is 10 points for Kevin (Harvick) and his team.”

 

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