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William Byron wins seventh race as Johnny Sauter clinches first Truck Series title

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While William Byron won his seventh Camping World Truck Series race, Johnny Sauter finished third in the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to claim his first NASCAR title in 14 full-time seasons across all three series.

Byron led 31 laps, including the final 10, to close out his season with the rookie record for wins in the Truck series.

Sauter had to do the most work of the Championship 4 drivers, starting 19th and charging his way toward the front where he delivered GMS Racing its first NASCAR title. GMS Racing debuted in 2013 with Spencer Gallagher.

Sauter’s title comes in his eighth year of full-time competition in the series.

“We qualified terribly today and I was kind of worried about it,” Sauter told Fox Sports 1. “Just proud of these guys. Flawless execution on pit road. (Crew chief) Joe (Shear Jr.) made the right kind of adjustments to where I could just kind of hang on. I’m not really a high line guy. Just elected to keep doing my deal and actually found some real good grip around the bottom of the race track.”

That led to Sauter passing Matt Crafton, his former teammate at GMS Racing, after the final restart with 20 to go.

Filling out the top five was Tyler Reddick, Sauter, Kyle Larson and Daniel Hemric.

A week after Byron was eliminated from the Chase at Phoenix thanks to a blown engine, the 18-year-old driver helped give Kyle Busch Motorsports its fifth owners title and fourth in a row.

“Feels awesome, it’s incredible,” Byron told FS1. “This team has worked so hard all year. We just had that unfortunate situation last week that we couldn’t control. But man they brought a good truck … I just hate this team not being together next year. It’s just insane how good they are.”

Byron, who was named Rookie of the Year, moves up to the Xfinity Series next year to drive for JR Motorsports.

Among the other Chasers, Matt Crafton finished seventh, followed by Christopher Bell in eighth and Timothy Peters in ninth.

Larson led a race-high 76 laps while Crafton led 10, the only laps led by a Chase driver.

MORE: Truck Series point standing

MORE: Race Results

HOW WILLIAM BYRON WON: After a three-wide pass of Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter for second with 17 to go, Byron took the lead from Tyler Reddick with 10 laps left and won.

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Kyle Larson started third and led the most laps in the race before losing eight spots on the final pit stop. He fought back to finish fourth … In their last starts for Brad Keselowski Racing, Tyler Reddick and Daniel Hemric each finished in the top five … Cole Custer finished 10th in his last race before moving up to the Xfinity Series.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Patrick Staropoli caused cautions on Laps 43 and 84 and 111. He finished 31st, nine laps down … Ryan Truex was the only DNF of the night, finishing last after losing an engine.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “Before this race, we knew we had a lifelong bond between all of us. I mean, it’s just been an incredible season. I’ve learned so much. They didn’t know what to expect I think with a rookie driver. They were like, ‘What’s this kid going to do,’ so I just tried to prove them right all year and we just had an awesome year, so no better way to finish it off at Homestead like this.” – William Byron after winning the Ford EcoBoost 200.

NASCAR America: Tony Stewart on Stewart-Haas Racing, Danica Patrick’s future, Cole Custer (video)

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Tony Stewart was our special in-studio guest during Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America.

The former three-time NASCAR Cup champ spent the entire hour with Carolyn Manno, Kyle Petty and Jeff Burton, giving his unique take on all things NASCAR.

Among the things Stewart talked about were:

The future of Stewart-Haas Racing: “We don’t know exactly who’s going to be in the 10 car, but we’re working on it. We’re excited about the partnership with Smithfield. The 41 car is still up in the air. We fully intend on having (Kurt Busch) there next year, but it’s dictated on sponsorship. We need to make sponsorship for that car before we commit to him next year.”

What will Danica Patrick do after she leaves SHR: “I see a lot of options, really. Danica is one of the few people that has the ability to stay in NASCAR if she wants, go back to IndyCar, or go road racing. There’s not a lot of drivers that have been released this year that have the option to go do so many things. It shows how versatile and talented she is, to have that many options. It’s a matter of  what does she want to do, where her heart and mind is and what does she want to do for the next five, 10, 15 years.”

The potential of SHR Xfinity Series driver Cole Custer: “I’m really proud of Cole. For the first two years I knew Cole, he never spoke to me. For about 75 percent of the time he was in front of me, he couldn’t look me in the eyes, that’s how shy of a kid he is. When he puts that helmet on, it’s amazing the transformation. This kid is a talented race car driver.”

Check out the full video above to get more of Stewart’s observations.

 

 

 

NASCAR America: Josef Newgarden celebrates IndyCar championship (video)

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On Tuesday’s NASCAR America, we checked in with the new king of IndyCar racing, 2017 season Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden.

Among the things the Knoxville, Tennessee native spoke about was the help he got in his amazing first season with Team Penske from all his teammates.

“My teammates were great, letting me just being part of that group right from the beginning and trying to contribute and help me learn so I could contribute and help us be stronger overall,” Newgarden said.

He also talked about the surge in U.S. drivers in the series, much like NASCAR is enjoying with several young drivers including another teammate, Ryan Blaney, who texted Newgarden at length to offer him congratulations and compared the youth movement in both racing series.

“We’ve got a lot of young talent that’s trying to show the way and prove themselves against the already proven people in the sport,” Newgarden said. “It’s a fascinating thing to watch.”

NASCAR America: Tony Stewart on state of NASCAR, stage racing and more (video)

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It was Tony Stewart Day at the NBC Sports Group headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut on Tuesday.

The former three-time NASCAR Cup champ made the rounds of the complex, starting in the morning with an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, and wrapping up things with an hour-long visit on NASCAR America.

One of the first things Stewart talked about with Carolyn Manno, Kyle Petty and Jeff Burton was how busy he is in “retirement.” He may not be racing in the Cup series anymore, but he’s still plenty busy, including racing sprint cars, taking a bigger managerial role over the four Cup teams and one Xfinity team at Stewart-Haas Racing and even how he’s breeding white tail deer at his farm in Indiana.

“To be honest, I have more fun doing that (things like signing autographs and making appearances) now than when I was a driver,” Stewart said. “Now, walking through the garage, you’re still busy because you’ve got to get to where you go. The best part is you can kind of enjoy walking around more and have time to visit with people you don’t get a chance to see all the time.”

Stewart also sat down with the “Mayor” of NASCAR, NBC analyst Jeff Burton, to talk about the state of the sport. One thing that some may find surprising is that the old school Stewart likes some of the new things the sport has, including stage racing.

“I like the stage racing,” Stewart said. “It’s added something that’s unique, especially a third of the way through the race. Before, in the first half of the race, we didn’t worry so much about racing each other. … I like it, I think we’ve seen some unique strategies. … It’s been pretty exciting. I’m a big fan of the stage part.”

Stewart also talked with Burton about keeping up with technology, aerodynamics, track position, rules and more.

Check out the following video to hear Stewart out:

Brendan Gaughan among Xfinity playoff drivers unsure of 2018 plans

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — There’s seven races left in the NASCAR Xfinity season and Brendan Gaughan hasn’t “started thinking about it too much yet” if he’ll continue competing full-time next year.

That’s OK with Gaughan, who went on to say “I hope I’m still racing full-time.”

The 42-year-old driver for Richard Childress Racing is one of the 12 in the Xfinity playoffs, which begin at 8 p.m. ET Saturday at Kentucky Speedway on NBCSN.

“Normally we know what we’re doing by now,” Gaughan said Tuesday. “This year we probably don’t, which is a little odd for us. I told you last year, if I don’t come back, I’m happy. If I do come back, it’ll because I’m happy. It’s more just are we still having fun, are we still competitive? We’re in the playoffs, so we’re still competitive.”

Gaughan is in his fourth year with RCR since returning to the Xfinity Series full-time in 2014. He said he’s once again committed to competing in the four Cup Series restrictor-plate races next year for Beard Motorsports.

“When someone uses the word ‘retirement,’ people love to throw that out with me,” Gaughan said. “You can say that all you want. I will never be done racing. My father still races one race a year. We race because we love to race. If I don’t race full-time, I promise you’ll still find me behind the wheel.”

Gaughan’s No. 62 Chevrolet is one of five cars RCR has fielded this year, including the No. 21 driven by fellow playoff driver Daniel Hemric and the No. 33 of Brandon Jones.

“I have a feeling (Richard Childress) is not going to do five Xfinity cars probably ever again,” Gaughan said.

That possibility was further backed by Hemric, who said he’s not sure where he’ll be racing in 2018 following his rookie season.

“I don’t know how exactly it’s all going to shake out,” Hemric said. “Everybody’s constantly trying to evolve and make sure you’re making progress day-to-day and I can say that we’ve done that. It looks like I will be racing, I’m just not sure in what yet and where along those lines.”

Brennan Poole, who is nearing the end of his second full-time season with Chip Ganassi Racing, said he has some sort of indication of where he’ll be come February.

“So I don’t know what I’m going to do yet next year,” Poole said. “I have an idea of what I’m going to do. Really excited about my future and where I’m at. I’m in good spirits, I’m not worried about anything. Definitely just want to get through these playoffs and do a good job and prove that I’m capable of being a Sunday (Cup) guy.

Matt Tifft, Joe Gibbs Racing’s only full-time driver in the Xfinity Series and a rookie, also addressed his situation for 2018.

“You’re always trying to work on things for the future,” Tifft said. “We’re trying to figure those things out now. But at the same time, I’m absolutely trying to prove that I belong here. That first win is still looming. Everybody knows this sport is performance driven and I understand that. I know what we need to do. It’s just figuring out the ways of how to do that and how to get myself better. ”

When would the 21-year-old driver like to know what’s in store for him?

“I would have liked to yesterday,” Tifft said. “We’re working on that. It’ll all fall into place when it needs to. That’s not my main concern right now. My main concern is what’s coming up this weekend.”

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