Ryan Blaney led 66 laps and won the first stage of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
It is the first stage win of the season for the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford driven by Blaney, who started second for the second time this season.
The top 10 after 85 laps: Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray, pole-sitter Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Joey Logano and Kyle Busch.
Blaney took the lead on a Lap 16 restart with a power move on the outside around Harvick, who led 19 laps. Blaney retook the lead on a Lap 36 restart after a competition caution.
During pit stops following the end of Stage 1, Truex beat Blaney off pit road to take the lead.
Entering the race, Blaney had led only 33 laps in 60 Cup starts.
Kyle Larson is in the top 10 after rallying from the back twice. Larson started 32nd and had moved into the top 10 when he was penalized for driving through too many pit stalls on his stop during the competition caution.
Austin Dillon went to the garage during the pace laps for broken track bar. He finally joined the race on Lap 12 and is 39th.
The first stage was slowed by three cautions:
Lap 2 – Debris on the frontstretch
Lap 10 – Crash in Turn 2 involving Reed Sorenson, Gray Gaulding and Jeffrey Earnhardt.
Lap 30 – Competition caution
Lap 85 – End of stage
Things have been going relatively well for Denny Hamlin on the track in 2018.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver enters this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway sixth in points. Through five races, he’s finished outside the top six once (17th, Las Vegas).
NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte, Dale Jarrett and Nate Ryan discussed his season so far in addition to Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.
Letarte said Hamlin has displayed “remarkable consistency.”
“Denny Hamlin is in my mind a super star driver that I know I am guilty of leaving him out of super star conversations,” Letarte said.
Ryan pointed to mistakes on pit road that have prevented Hamlin from enjoying more success this season and in his career overall. His result at Las Vegas was the result of a speeding penalty.
“Five races this season, four pit mistakes,” Ryan said. “He overshot his box at Daytona, he did that at Fontana, he sped in the pits at Phoenix. While I think they’ve had speed, I think that team is still stumbling in the same ways it has in the past. Unless they correct that, I don’t know if they’re championship level yet.”
Hamlin heads to Martinsville where he has won a career-best five races.
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Rain washed out the second day of Goodyear tire testing Wednesday on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval. Goodyear has tentatively scheduled May 1 as a make-up test date.
Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Kyle Larson took part in the test Tuesday.
“I just took some slow pace laps and got a feel for the race track,” Bayne said in a statement from Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I was nervous, but I wasn’t anxious because I was never going to go out there and make qualifying laps. We worked our pace in and our plan, we stuck to it. I felt really good by the end of the day.
“You have to be on your game, that’s for sure. You can’t really let your guard down anywhere. There’s no room to make mistakes. If you make a mistake, you’re going to pay for it pretty quickly. If you try to do something and it doesn’t work, you’ll pay the price. It’s going to be a survival race. … If you’re smart, you take care of your car and you don’t make mistakes, you’ll have a really good shot at the end for a good finish. I enjoyed it. It was a challenge for me – something new – and I enjoyed that part of it.”
Organizational tests at Charlotte will be in July. There will be two different sessions. Each team is allowed to test at one of the two sessions, which will be July 10 (rain date of July 11) and July 17 (rain date of July 18).
The Charlotte Roval hosts the final race of the first round of the Cup playoffs on Sept. 30 on NBC.
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NASCAR announced two crew chief fines for unsecured lug nuts last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.
Adam Stevens, crew chief on Kyle Busch‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.
In the Xfinity Series, Eric Phillips, the crew chief for Ryan Preece‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.
No other penalties were announced.
Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and begins to look forward to this weekend’s racing at Martinsville Speedway.
Marty Snider hosts with Dale Jarrett, Steve Letarte and Nate Ryan from the “Big Oak Table” in Charlotte.
What to expect from today’s show.
- The same names have been dominating the headlines in the first five races in the 2018 season. We will take a look at some of the other drivers to be on the lookout for as the season rolls on.
- One of NASCAR’s most historic tracks is up this weekend – Martinsville! We’ll check out some of the recent drama “The Paperclip” has provided ahead of the race.
- In the spirit of March Madness, our panel will tell us about their most memorable sports moments, as well as some of NASCAR’s biggest upsets.
- Plus, The Indianapolis 500 will have a new home in 2019. We’ll have all the details on NASCAR America.
If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.
Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.
Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.