Upon Further Review: Dramatic finishes common occurrence at Auto Club Speedway

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After late-race passes for the win in each of the first four races this year, and six if you go back to last season, can it get any better for the NASCAR Cup Series?

Yes. Auto Club Speedway is next.

This is home to NASCAR’s buzzer-beaters in this time of March Madness.

While the last six Cup races have seen the final pass for the lead take place in the last eight laps — Kurt Busch won the Daytona 500 with a last-lap pass — Auto Club Speedway has been the home of even more thrilling finishes.

The last four races at the 2-mile track in Southern California have seen the winning pass made in the final two laps. Go back a little further, and it is five of the last six races. Restarts, pit strategy, multiple lanes and good old-fashioned horsepower have combined to give fans some of the most exciting finishes in recent years. 

Consider all the late-race excitement:

In 2016, Kyle Busch caused a caution with a blown tire that sent him into the wall and the race into overtime. Kevin Harvick led. Jimmie Johnson, his car adorned in the Superman paint scheme, passed Harvick in Turn 3 on the way to the white flag and pulled away for the win.

In 2015, a debris caution sent the race to its second overtime attempt with Kurt Busch leading. Brad Keselowski restarted sixth with four fresh tires and was second to begin the final lap. Keselowski charged by Busch to win.

In 2014, Kurt Busch led on the overtime restart and was challenged by teammate Tony Stewart. As Busch and Stewart raced side-by-side for the lead to begin the final lap, Kyle Busch closed. Stewart took the lead off Turn 2, and Kyle Busch soon motored past him and held off Kyle Larson to win.

In 2013, Kyle Busch emerged the winner after Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin dueled for the win on the last lap and made contact, sending Hamlin’s car into an inside concrete wall. Hamlin would miss four races after suffering an L1 compression fracture. 

The string of late-race passes for the win at Auto Club Speedway was broken in 2012 when Tony Stewart led the final 22 laps.

Auto Club Speedway doesn’t have a monopoly on such finishes. In the last 148 Cup races (dating back to the start of the 2013 season), 37.1 percent saw the final lead change take place within the final 10 laps. Yet, of the 12 races since 2013 that were determined on the final lap, three of those (25 percent) were at Auto Club Speedway, most of any track.

Johnson has scored more victories taking the lead within the final 10 laps than any other driver since 2013. Eight of his 20 wins (40 percent) during that span came after he took the lead within the final 10 laps. 

Logano and Keselowski are next.

Seven of Logano’s 15 wins (46.7 percent) since 2013 came after taking the lead in the final 10 laps.

Seven of Keselowski’s 13 wins (53.8 percent) since 2013 came after taking the lead in the final 10 laps.

While all of this is no guarantee of what Sunday will be like, if this weekend’s finish can match what has taken place there in recent years, it should be quite an ending.

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BK Racing court filing reveals expenses, revenue for each race

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Court documents filed Thursday show that BK Racing made a net income of $359,619 through the Phoenix Cup race.

The documents are part of BK Racing’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. The team filed Chapter bankruptcy Feb. 15.

COURT DOCUMENTS: Click here to view the BK Racing filing

MORE: Peek into race purses under charter system

A hearing is scheduled this afternoon in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of North Carolina, on a motion by Union Bank & Trust. The bank claims it is owned more than $8 million in loan payments and seeks to have a trustee oversee BK Racing’s finances “to an end to the Debtor’s years of mismanagement,’’ according to court documents from the bank.

In its motion to appoint a trustee, Union Bank filed documents stating that the team lost nearly $30 million from 2014-16.

The updated budget filed Thursday on behalf of BK Racing breaks down income and expense for each of the first four points races and anticipated income and expenses the rest of the season.

The document shows that BK Racing had $50,000 sponsorship for the Daytona 500, $10,000 sponsorship each for the Atlanta and Las Vegas races and $30,000 sponsorship for the Phoenix race.

BK Racing listed prize money as:

$29,946 for its qualifying race at Daytona

$428,794 for finishing 20th in the Daytona 500

$91,528 for finishing 36th at Atlanta

$98,754 for finishing 33rd at Las Vegas

$82,000 for finishing 34th at Phoenix

The high payout for the Daytona 500 has given BK Racing more than $350,000 in net income. For other races, though, the team’s net income has been small.

At Phoenix, the team listed a net income of $790.

The team had $120,250 in revenue for the Phoenix weekend. It was broken down this way:

$82,000 in prize money

$30,000 in sponsorship

$8,250 in other revenue

The team listed $119,460 in expenses that weekend. Among the team’s expenses for Phoenix:

$35,000 for its engine lease

$21,000 for salary and wages

$10,525 for airfare for team personnel

$9,000 for tires

$9,000 for contract payroll

Those expenses alone totaled $84,525, exceeding what the team made in prize money and showing how important sponsorship is in the sport.

BK Racing provided a budget for the remaining races. The team’s budgeted expense was more than $103,000 for every race. That included everything from engine lease and tire bills to hotels, meals, salary and wages, entry fees, insurance, payroll taxes and more.

The most expensive race is the Daytona 500 at $135,502, which included an engine lease of $50,000. Next listed was Auto Club Speedway at $125,606, which included $9,500 in airfare and $10,000 in tires.

BK Racing’s prize money estimates on remaining races is based on a 30th-place finish in each event.

BK Racing lists its sponsorship budget for future races as $50,000 per race, progressing to $100,000 and to $150,000 for the final 13 races. That would give the team a sponsorship budget of $3.505 million.

Court documents filed by Union Bank & Trust show that BK Racing collected $1.5 million in sponsorship in 2016 and $1.05 million in sponsorship in 2015.

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A rare peek into race purses, payouts under the charter system

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A new filing before a Thursday bankruptcy court hearing for BK Racing provided a window into the payouts of NASCAR’s charter structure.

The system, which went into effect two years ago, guaranteed revenues and race attendance for 36 cars. Funding was based on four categories: entering a race, historical performance over the past three seasons, the traditional points fund (with extra cash) and race results. It was partly intended to help teams by providing more predictable revenue guarantees for budget projections.

MORE: Court filing reveals expenses, revenue for each race

Prior to the 2016 season, each race had a purse that paid out for finishing position and contingency awards (which rewarded the most competitive teams). Under the new system, money paid for results was based solely on finishing position, and NASCAR abolished publishing purse totals and race winnings in box scores.

The BK Racing document, which was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of North Carolina, sheds some light on those now shielded numbers. It lists the total purse for every race during the 2018 season and also lists BK Racing’s prize money for each of the first four races in the No. 23 Toyota with driver Gray Gaulding.

–Daytona 500 (total purse $15.466 million): The team earned $428,794 for finishing 20th.

–Atlanta Motor Speedway (total purse $2.477 million): The team earned $91,528 for 36th.

–Las Vegas Motor Speedway (total purse $2.647 million): The team earned $98,754 for 33rd.

–ISM Raceway near Phoenix (total purse: $1.459 million): The team earned $82,000 for 34th.

Though the formula was different for structuring the purse and race payouts, here were the total purses and payouts for those positions in 2015, the last year that earnings were publicly made available.

–Daytona 500: Total purse $19.8 million; $348,803 for 20th

–Atlanta: Total purse $6.3 million; $101,370 for 36th

–Las Vegas: Total purse $6.5 million; $118,724 for 33rd

–Phoenix: Total purse $5.1 million; $74,805 for 34th

A hearing on the BK Racing bankruptcy case will be held in Charlotte at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Click here to view the BK Racing filing.

Carl Edwards says he’s ‘enjoying life’ on the farm

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Former driver Carl Edwards says he’s “having fun, enjoying life” and doesn’t have plans to return to racing.

Edwards talked with host Claire B. Lang on “Dialed In” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Wednesday night.

Edwards shocked the sport when he announced in January 2017 that he was leaving. He returned to his home in Columbia, Missouri.

“I’m basically just doing what I told everybody I was doing, spent a lot of time with friends and family and traveling a lot, farming a lot and really enjoying it,’’ Edwards told Lang.

Asked about any return to racing, Edwards said: “I don’t have any plans to come back. I do miss a lot of people.’’

Asked about any potential political ambitions, Edwards said: “You never know. I think like probably almost every person listening to this channel right now, I really believe in, I believe in America, I believe the Constitution is the set of rules that let us have all this success and freedom. I care about that being there for generations to come. If sometime in the future there is a chance for me to help that cause, try to lend some assistance to not letting us get off track, then heck yeah, I would consider, but, no, there is not some campaign started. I’m not going to be doing anything anytime soon.’’

Edwards made his Cup debut in August 2004 at Michigan International Speedway, finishing 10th in a race won by Greg Biffle.

Edwards won 28 Cup races in 445 starts. Every retired driver who has at least as many wins and is eligible for the Hall of Fame has been inducted. Jeff Gordon is eligible for the first time this year. Edwards and Tony Stewart will be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration next year.

Edwards’ 28 wins includes the 2015 Coca-Cola 600 and 2015 Southern 500. He won four Cup races at Bristol and Texas, his highest victory total at any track. Edwards also won 38 Xfinity races in 245 starts.

At the end of the interview Wednesday, Edwards was asked if he had any final words for fans.

“I think I would just say thank you to everybody,’’ he said. “Thank you to the fans, the competitors and everyone, the tracks and NASCAR. That part of my life was just spectacular. I wouldn’t trade one second of it for anything. And then I would say, I just hope everybody out there is enjoying what they’re doing and you’re getting the most out of every day and really having fun.’’

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NASCAR America: Favorite upsets in NASCAR history

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Last week, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County made history when it became the first No. 16 seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament to beat a No. 1 seed.

In the spirit of the historic event, NASCAR America’s analysts discussed the greatest sporting event they’ve witnessed and their favorite NASCAR upsets.

Dale Jarrett picked Dale Earnhardt’s 1998 victory in the Daytona 500 as his greatest sports moment.

“He’d done everything, I’m not talking about once, but multiple times,” Jarrett said of Earnhardt’s record at Daytona. “That drive down the pit lane after he won and seeing every single crew member, owner, everybody that was there that could get on pit road to show that respect to Dale Earnhardt, all of us going to victory lane to congratulate him, what that mean, to me that’s the greatest even I’ve ever seen.”

BUMP & RUN: Biggest upsets in NASCAR 

When it comes to favorite upsets in NASCAR history, Letarte chose what happened in the Daytona 500 13 years later when Trevor Bayne won in just his second Cup start.

“Everything was different about that week, practice was different, the way the cars drafted was different,” Letarte said. “But none of that could really build up to the fact that nobody that you ever heard of or dreamt of won the Daytona 500 in one of the most iconic car numbers to ever race, the 21 for the Wood Brothers. You add those two together and I think that’s the biggest upset I’ve ever seen.”

Watch the above video for more.