NASCAR America: Talladega strategy pays off for Joe Gibbs Racing teammates

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Aside from Joey Logano‘s win and Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch‘s tiff Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, one of the biggest stories to come out of the Hellmann’s 500 was Joe Gibbs Racing’s plan for three of its cars to avoid dangerous entanglements.

Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth spent the majority of the 192-lap race riding together a good distance back from the main pack. The trio of drivers, who transferred into the Round of 8, never engaged in the main action of the race.

“Situational awareness is really important,” NBC Sports analyst Jeff Burton said on NASCAR America. “As a race fan, which by the way I am, it sucks. I hate to watch people ride around in the back. But they did what they had to do in order to advance. Remember the goal is to win the championship.”

Analyst Steve Letarte agreed that watching the Gibbs cars drive in the back wasn’t fun to watch but approved of the plan.

“I understand why it’s unpopular, I didn’t enjoy watching it, but if I’m Adam Stevens (crew chief for Busch), if I’m Jason Ratcliff (crew chief for Kenseth), that is the exact strategy I would have (executed in Talladega),” Letarte said.

The former crew chief also addressed whether the JGR’s plan violated NASCAR’s “100 percent” rule that was introduced following the Michael Waltrip Racing scandal at Richmond in 2013.

“The 100 percent rule means you cannot throw your race way to try and change someone else’s day,” Letarte said. “They employed a strategy to earn the finish that those three Joe Gibbs cars needed. Not the one everyone wanted. The one they needed.”

Kyle Larson fastest in final practice for Coca-Cola 600

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CONCORD, N.C. — Kyle Larson topped the final practice session for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 with a speed at 186.400 mph.

The Cup points leader, Larson will start 39th in the race because his No. 42 Chevrolet didn’t clear inspection in time to qualify.

Ryan Blaney (185.861), Matt Kenseth (185.046), Kurt Busch (184.856) and Erik Jones (184.818) rounded out the top five.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was seventh fastest at 184.433 mph. Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick was 20th fastest at 182.648 mph.

Jimmie Johnson recorded the most laps in the session with 47.

Jamie McMurray had the best 10-lap average at 180.914 mph.

The session was stopped for a caution once after Brad Keselowski spun exiting Turn 4.

Click here for the full practice report.

Justin Allgaier wins pole for Charlotte Xfinity race

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CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won the pole for the Xfinity Series’ Hisense 4K TV 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

With a speed at 182.488 mph, Allgaier earned his fifth Xfinity pole and his first since the March 2013 race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Allgaier is joined on the front row by Austin Dillon (181.519).

The top five was completed by Ryan Blaney (181.378), Daniel Hemric (181.324) and Kevin Harvick (181.245).

Christopher Bell will start seventh in his first Xfinity race.

Brad Keselowski and Dakoda Armstrong will start from the rear after not passing inspection in time to qualify.

Click here for full qualifying results.

Ryan Blaney leads second Coke 600 practice

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CONCORD, N.C. — Ryan Blaney posted the top speed in the second practice session for the Coca-Cola 600.

Blaney’s No. 21 Ford produced a speed of 188.055 mph Saturday morning around Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The top five was filled out by Erik Jones (187.598 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (187.084), Daniel Suarez (186.838) and Trevor Bayne (186.239).

Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick was ninth fastest at 185.567 mph. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 14th quickest at 185.141 mph.

Kyle Busch recorded the most laps in the session with 48.

Click here for the full practice report.

Eight teams lose 15 minutes of Coke 600 practice for failing pre-qualifying inspection

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CONCORD, N.C. — Eight Cup teams were held 15 minutes during Coca-Cola 600 practice today for failing pre-qualifying inspection on Thursday

Drivers include Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Corey LaJoie and Chris Buescher.

Buescher’s team also loses pit selection for Sunday’s race because it failed inspection three times.

Larson and LaJoie’s loss of practice time comes after neither qualified Thuraday because their cars didn’t clear inspection in time.