Photo by Dustin Long

Engine woes keep William Byron from racing for title despite most wins

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AVONDALE, Ariz. — They came to offer condolences, a driver, crew chief and competing car owner.

Despite a broken heart, he managed brief smiles in return.

William Byron is 18 years old, has had success throughout his short driving career and entered Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race having won a series-high six races.

He’s never had a night at the track like this.

On the way to a dominating victory that would make him the favorite to win the series title, Byron saw it go away when his engine blew. After leading 112 of 150 laps, Byron left the track with a 27th-place finish.

Now, he won’t race for a championship next weekend in Miami.

Such is the whim of the Chase format where there’s no guarantee that the winningest driver will compete for a crown in the series finale.

“It just stinks that we can’t go on to Homestead and at least have a shot,’’ Byron said of a title.

“I’m trying to smile it off. The only satisfaction is that we had the best truck.’’

While Christopher Bell, Matt Crafton and Timothy Peters advanced to the title race — giving Toyota three of the four drivers eligible for the championship— David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development, could not enjoy the night after seeing Byron’s engine fail.

“All you can say is I’m sorry,’’ Wilson said he told Byron. “What I really wanted to tell him was how proud of him I was and how proud of how he handled tonight.

“William is a young man with a lot of success in front of him. For him to go to Miami, six wins under his belt — should have been seven — and not be able to transfer to the championship is very hard to comprehend. For this young kid to handle it with grace and maturity is impressive.’’

Byron, who turns 19 on Nov. 29, will seek to win next week’s season finale and then focus on the Xfinity Series. Signed by Rick Hendrick, Byron will drive for JR Motorsports next season.

But Friday night his focus was on handling the biggest disappointment of his racing career.

“Just unforuntate but some things you can’t control,’’ he said.

Jimmie Johnson to start in the rear after gear change

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INDIANAPOLIS – Jimmie Johnson‘s bid for a record-tying fifth Brickyard 400 will have to begin at the back of the 40-car field.

Johnson qualified fourth Saturday but stated on Twitter that he’ll have to go to the rear of the field because they had to change the rear gear.

Although track position is pivotal at Indianapolis Motor Speedway because passing is difficult, optimists can view Johnson’s woes as a good sign. He has scored two of his three wins this season – Texas and Dover – after starting in the rear.

Also starting at the rear today is Cole Whitt (rear gear change) and Joey Gase (engine change). Whitt qualified 34th. Gase qualified 38th.

Today’s race is on NBC. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with Countdown to Green.

 

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Today’s Cup race at Indianapolis: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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The NASCAR Cup Series takes part in the 24th annual Brickyard 400 today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It marks one year since Kyle Busch earned his last Cup win, when he claimed his second Brickyard 400 in a row. Busch starts from the pole for the second year in a row.

Here’s all the important info you need ahead of the race, which airs on NBC.

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 2:32 p.m. Green flag is set for 2:44 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 160 laps (400 miles) around the 2.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 50. Stage 2 ends on Lap 100.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Cup garage opens at 9 a.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 1:55 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Carly Pearce will perform the Anthem at 2:26 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. with Countdown to Green. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network will broadcast on radio and the Performance Racing Network at 1:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the IMSRN/PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 89 degrees at race time with a 15 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Kyle Busch started from the pole and led 149 of the race’s 170 total laps. It was his second win in a row in the race. Matt Kenseth finished second, Jimmie Johnson finished third.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the full starting lineup.

Get a humorous look at life in the pits in, what else, ‘The Pits’ on NBC livestream

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Life in the pits can sometimes, well … really be the pits.

But it can also be a hilarious look at life in NASCAR, as well.

That’s the premise behind “The Pits,” a three-part “mockumentary-style series” that spoofs the life of the fictitious SONIC pit crew in NASCAR.

“The Pits” debuts Sunday on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. After each 2-3 minute episode airs, replays will be available on NBCSports.com and also the NASCAR on NBC Facebook page.

The first episode airs during this Sunday’s live stream of the Brickyard 400, which will be televised on NBC.

Episode 1 follows pit pro Rita, who falls for tire specialist Max, but Max’s only affection is for SONIC Pretzel Dogs.

The other two episodes of The Pits will livestream Saturday night, August 19, during the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and during the Sunday, October 15 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“The Pits” is produced for NBC Sports Group and SONIC Drive-In by The Kicker, with shareable content running across NBC Sports Digital assets.

Starting lineup for 24th annual Brickyard 400

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Kyle Busch will lead the Brickyard 400 to the green flag Sunday for the second year in a row.

He earned his fourth pole of the year and is seeking his first Cup win since the 2016 Brickyard 400.

Following Busch in the starting lineup is Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin is the only driver in the top five who hasn’t won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Click here for the full starting lineup.