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Daniel Suarez has ‘very productive race’ in Advance Auto Parts Clash

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For most of the Advance Auto Parts Clash, Daniel Suarez didn’t look out-of-place.

The 25-year-old driver didn’t look like someone making their first start in a NASCAR Cup Series race. Competing in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 19 Cup car for the first time, Suarez started 16th but was in second place for a majority of the second segment of the 75-lap exhibition.

The replacement for Carl Edwards, Suarez finished eighth after running behind teammate Denny Hamlin until the closing laps. That’s when the Team Penske cars of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano began breaking up JGR’s four-car monopoly of the lead.

MORE: Joey Logano wins The Clash

MORE: Keselowski sends a message with last-lap move for lead

“I think the plan worked out perfect,” Suarez said. “Five laps to go we were exactly where we wanted to be. All four or five of us were in the front and were in a perfect spot to try to win this thing. But, I don’t know. There were some other cars and they have plans and they were pretty strong as well so I guess we have to shake what happened exactly here in this race and try to sort it out a little bit and we’ll come back better next week.”

The Clash is a different beast compared to the next Sunday’s Daytona 500. Instead of a 200-lap event with 40 cars, Suarez’ induction into Cup action came in a 75-lap race with just 17 cars. Of those 17 cars, Suarez was the only rookie.

“Those guys are aggressive and they race hard as soon as they see the green flag,” Suarez said. “I felt like I learned a lot. I felt like it was a very productive race for me and for my team and hopefully we can put everything we learned on the table for next week.”

Suarez, the defending Xfinity Series champion, said he “felt like he went to school” in the race, which had been postponed from Saturday night because of rain.

“Racing with all of these guys and learning about the aero of the car and how the tires fall off. The fall off is not even close to the Xfinity cars and I learned that today. And how the car works – it works really, really different. There’s nothing similar in a race like this with 75 laps in a pack of 17 cars that I can practice. I think my team did an amazing job. They put me in the front and gave me the opportunity to finish in the top five and we just came a little short I guess.”

Suarez has made six restrictor-plate starts in the Xfinity Series. His best result in four races at Daytona was eighth in the 2016 opener. Sunday wasn’t Suarez’ first time in the No. 19. He was part of a two-day at Phoenix Raceway at the end of January.

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NASCAR America: Kyle Busch questions Xfinity rules package at Indy

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Kyle Busch isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and he certainly did so after Saturday’s  Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NASCAR implemented a number of changes to make the racing closer, tighter and more exciting — including restrictor plates, a larger rear spoiler, aero ducts, and a smaller splitter — and achieved all that on many fronts.

But not for the younger Busch brother, who wasn’t pleased with the rules package. Was it actually designed to specifically slow him down rather than to even out things for the entire field?

Or was he just simply upset because he didn’t win a third Xfinity race in a row at IMS?

Check out how our NASCAR America analysts gauged the Xfinity changes in the above video.

 

TriStar Motorsports team owner Mark Smith passes away

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Mark Smith, owner of TriStar Motorsports, died Saturday at his home, after a long battle with cancer, the team announced Monday. He was 63.

He began his racing career building engines for his brother Jack’s drag car in the 1970s. He moved his family from the West Coast in the early 1990s to pursue a career in NASCAR. He was the owner of TriStar Motorsports and Pro Motor Engines.

TriStar Motorsports fields the No. 14 in the Xfinty Series with JJ Yeley and the No. 72 in the Cup Series with Cole Whitt. The team stated the team will continue operations under the management of Bryan Smith, son of Mark Smith.

“It was dad’s dream to own and operate a NASCAR team,” Bryan Smith said. “He devoted his life to that dream and his family plans to honor his wishes by continuing our efforts in his memory.”

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Victory Junction Gang victoryjunction.org or NOVA (National Organization for Vehicle Access, part of the BraunAbility) novafunding.org.

The family will receive friends from 5-8 p.m. ET, Aug. 1 at Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, Mooresville, North Carolina. They have created a Facebook page where you are encouraged to leave a story for the family to enjoy. (facebook.com/Remembering-Mark-Smith-301261653675224)

NASCAR America: Analysts break down Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. wreck (video)

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Given how wild the Brickyard 400 played out, the big wreck between race leaders Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. wasn’t exactly surprising.

Rather, with the way the race transpired from the opening lap, was the Busch/Truex wreck almost inevitable?

Truex got loose and washed up into the left rear of Busch’s car, sending both drivers and their respective cars into the outside retaining walls, hitting hard and ending their respective days.

Check out what our NASCAR America analysts had to say about the wreck from Monday’s show in the above video.

NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr. recaps wild Brickyard 400 (video)

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, Dale Earnhardt Jr. — who will become part of our NBC Sports Group in 2018 — looked back on a wild and intense Brickyard 400.

Earnhardt was one of several drivers whose day came to an early ending — in Junior’s case when he ran into the back of Trevor Bayne‘s car, destroying his radiator in the process.

All the mayhem and mishaps could be linked to over-aggressive driving, Earnhardt said, saying that every driver was in “attack mode,” especially on restarts.

Check out Junior in the video above.