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Matt Kenseth can’t forget the Daytona 500 win that got away in 2016

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Matt Kenseth has won two Daytona 500s: 2009 and 2012.

But Kenseth’s memory of the Great American Race seems to go back only to last year’s race, when teammate Denny Hamlin won, depriving Kenseth of a third career 500 win.

Instead, Kenseth finished a disappointing 14th.

In a recent interview with NBC Sports, it’s clear from both Kenseth’s answer and demeanor that he’s still upset at letting last year’s race get away from him.

You’d be too: Kenseth was leading the race with one lap to go (he had led from Lap 160-199). He lost the lead in Turn 3 on the final lap when he moved up to block Hamlin. His teammate ducked underneath Kenseth and they made contact, almost causing Kenseth to wreck.

While Kenseth was able to save his wayward car, Hamlin motored past and then had a drag race to the checkered flag with Martin Truex Jr., in what would be the closest finish in Daytona 500 history.

End result, Hamlin won his first Daytona 500 and Kenseth missed out on his third season-opening win.

“I’ve got to be honest, all I can remember right now is losing one last year, and that stinks,” Kenseth said. “Winning ‘em is way better. Ask Denny what it’s like to win one of them.”

But even though he claims to only remember last year’s loss, Kenseth’s memory of Daytona and its legacy are forever etched in his mind.

“It’s the biggest stock car race in the world, right?” he told NBC Sports. “As a kid growing up, with your love being stock car racing, winning the Daytona 500 is in the top of your mind. Or being in the Daytona 500, that’s the big race you turn on and watch on TV, and you feel those guys racing.

“One of my Daytona 500 career highlights is starting my first one. I remember walking down pit road with (former crew chief Robbie Reiser) and looking out in the stands and all the people we’re going to race against and couldn’t believe we were actually there and going to compete with those guys.

“That was real neat, and to be able to win a couple of them was definitely one of my career highlights.”

Kenseth returns to Daytona next week, one of four active drivers to have won the 500 twice, along with Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip (who hopes to make his 30th and final career start in the 500 this year).

After coming so close in last year’s race, maybe Kenseth will get that elusive third 500 win this year – and prevent Hamlin from getting his second.

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NASCAR’s preliminary entry lists for Richmond International Raceway

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NASCAR makes its first visit of the year to Richmond International Raceway this weekend as the Cup and Xfinity Series compete on the .75-mile track.

Cup teams will hold the Toyota Owners 400 while Xfinity teams gear up for the ToyotaCares 250.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for both races.

Cup Series – Toyota Owners 400

There are 38 cars on the entry list for the Cup race.

Last year, Carl Edwards won this race with a bump-and-run on teammate Kyle Busch on the final turn. Busch had led 78 laps in the race before Edwards, who led 151 laps, powered his way to the victory.

Denny Hamlin won the fall race from the pole after leading 189 laps.

Click here for the full entry list.

Xfinity Series – ToyotaCares 250

Five Cup drivers are among the 42 cars entered into the race, including: Ty Dillon, Austin Dillon, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson.

The race is the third Dash 4 Cash race of the year, meaning Cup drivers with five years or more experience are not eligible to compete in the race.

Last year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won this race after leading 128 of 149 laps. Kyle Busch won the fall race after leading 197 of 250 laps.

Click here for the entry list.

NASCAR, sports world reacts to Dale Earnhardt Jr. retirement announcement

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Tuesday morning’s news that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will retire from NASCAR at the end of the 2017 season has sent earthquake-like shock waves throughout the sports world, as well as the social media universe.

Earnhardt will formally announce his retirement at a press conference later this afternoon, which will be covered thoroughly by us at NASCAR Talk.

Here’s some of the top posts from social media on Junior’s bombshell announcement (we’ll be updating throughout the day, so please check back):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. retiring from NASCAR after 2017 season

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced Tuesday morning that he is retiring from NASCAR after this season.

In a release from Hendrick Motorsports, the team said the 14-time most popular driver will discuss the decision at a news conference today at 3 p.m.

Here is the release from the team.

CONCORD, N.C. (April 25, 2017) – After 18 seasons and more than 600 races behind the wheel, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will bring his NASCAR Cup Series driving career to a close at the conclusion of 2017. Today, he shared the news with members of his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team.

The fan favorite and two-time Daytona 500 champion will discuss his decision in a press conference this afternoon. He will be joined by Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, for whom Earnhardt has driven since 2008. The two first met about the driver’s decision on March 29.

Earnhardt, who will turn 43 in October, made his first career Cup Series start on May 30, 1999, at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Since then, the Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has captured 26 points-paying Cup race wins and been voted by fans as NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver a record 14 consecutive years. He has qualified for the NASCAR playoffs eight times.

Now in the midst of his 18th full-time season at the elite Cup level, Earnhardt made his 600th career series start on March 26 at Fontana, California. He will compete in his final NASCAR Cup Series race on Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Hendrick Motorsports will announce plans for its 2018 team alignment at a later date.

After missing the last 18 races of the 2016 season while recovering from concussion symptoms, Earnhardt returned for the season-opening Daytona 500. He repeatedly has said he would take about two months to decide if he wanted to continue driving beyond 2017, the final year of his contract at Hendrick Motorsports.

Earnhardt finished 38th Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway, his fourth finish of 30th or worse in the first eight races of the 2017 season. He fell to 24th in the Cup points standings.

The 14-time most popular driver finished 38th in Monday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, crashing on a Lap 218 restart after an apparent problem with his oil cooler under caution. He lost four spots in the rankings and is 50 points behind the current cutoff for qualiyfing for the 16-driver playoff on points.

Earnhardt hinted the news was coming in an early morning tweet Tuesday.

NASCAR America: Jimmie Johnson’s patience propels him to victory lane in Food City 500

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Jimmie Johnson is known for his patience behind the wheel. Where other drivers may get too hot under the collar and over-react, Johnson is typically cool as a cucumber — and that’s helped lead him to many of his 82 career NASCAR Cup wins.

That patience once again played out in Johnson’s win Monday in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, only his second career triumph (and first in seven years) at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”

On Monday’s NASCAR America, Greg Biffle and Kyle Petty discussed Johnson’s patience throughout Monday’s race.