After prior misses, Truex earns a strike with Go Bowling 400 win at Kansas

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Martin Truex Jr.’s win in Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway was a means to an end.

After meaning to win – and coming close several times to actually doing so – at the 1.5-mile track over the last few years, Truex finally sealed the deal. He led a race-high 104 of 267 laps – including the final 19 laps – to earn his second win of 2017.

In a way, it was vindication for falling short at Kansas one year ago in the spring race, where he dominated by leading a race-high 172 laps and appeared headed to a win – only to endure a broken bolt that forced him back to pit road and end up 14th.

Saturday night’s win under the lights marked the fifth time Truex has finished in the top-5 at Kansas, including runner-up finishes in both 2012 races, as well as fourth-place finishes in spring 2013 and fall 2014.

But all that – in addition to last year’s disappointing finish – is all in the past. He’s finally kicked the Kansas curse.

“I can’t even tell you,” Truex said when asked how he felt after the win. “It feels amazing to be here. It’s been a long time coming to this racetrack for sure.

“The close calls, the laps led, the heartbreaks that we’ve been through here.  Definitely proud tonight to finally cross that checkered flag first and bring it home for the guys.”

To finally win at a place that had vexed him so many times – some might even call it being robbed for coming up short in several instances – was yet another reason Truex said Saturday’s win was more meaningful than some of his other NASCAR Cup triumphs.

It does, I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “You know, as a racer, you don’t forget.  You don’t forget those days that ones got away or you screwed up and gave one away or anything like that.

“You never forget those things. They always stick with you. Definitely last year was probably the biggest heart breaker to have the craziest thing happen that you could ever imagine, an eight-second lead just gone and … it was so heartbreaking.

“It’s definitely sweet redemption tonight. Definitely feels good to be here, and I feel like it’s been a long time coming, and we definitely earned it, that’s for sure.”

But for a few moments late in the race, Truex wondered if maybe the win would once again be taken away from him by none other than his teammate, Erik Jones.

Jones spun on Lap 260 – seven laps from the scheduled finish – after making contact with Ty Dillon’s Chevrolet. While Truex maintained the lead on the ensuing restart and held on for the final two laps, he wondered if Jones’ spin would be yet another downfall for himself at Kansas.

Yeah, I’m like, damn, Erik, come on now, your teammate is leading the race, don’t be causing cautions,” Truex said. “I’ve been in that boat before. Lucky for Erik, I didn’t screw up the last couple restarts.”

But no matter what, Truex – who remains in second place in the NASCAR Cup standings behind Kyle Larson after his win in Kansas – was a man bound and determined to avenge the past and finally achieve his destiny at a track that vexed him almost as much as the Wizard of Oz vexed Dorothy.

“You know, tonight we did everything right,” Truex said. “When the pressure was on, when the money was on the line, we made the right moves, and everything worked out.”

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NASCAR: Will Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch advance in playoffs?

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The last two drivers to win NASCAR Cup titles are in precarious positions ahead of the Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.

Kyle Busch, the 2015 champion, is outside the top eight in ninth. He sits seven points behind defending champion Jimmie Johnson.

NASCAR America analysts Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman debated who they think had the best chance to advance to the Third round after Sunday.

Petty put his money behind Busch, who has finished in the top five in each of his last five starts at the 1.5-mile track.

“He’s one of the big three: Truex, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson,” Petty said. “I don’t see where these (last) two races (Charlotte, Talladega) have changed anything. The one thing Kyle Busch brings into Kansas City … he brings speed. These guys have had speed all year-long.”

Johnson on the other hand has produced only four top fives all season and just one since he won at Dover in June.

But Kligerman explained why he thinks the seven-time champion will prevail on Sunday.

“Jimmie Johnson knows how to pass and that is what has become evident throughout this season,” Kligerman said. “No, they have not had the fastest cars at Hendrick Motorsports. No, they have not qualified well. They’ve actually been sort of abysmal at qualifying of late.

“… He has three wins this year. Two of those he started at the back.”

Watch the video for more.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Daniel Hemric, Daniel Suarez’ racing roots

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America begins at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to preview the Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut.

On the show:

  • We’ll debate which past Cup Series champion will advance to the Round of 8. Defending champion Jimmie Johnson currently leads 2015 champ Kyle Busch by only seven points for the final transfer spot. Who has the edge going into Kansas this Sunday? This elimination race will be a heated competition just to finish above the cut line. Log on to NBCSports.com/NASCARVote and weigh in!
  • Xfinity Series playoff driver Daniel Hemric calls into the show to talk about his chances of advancing to the championship four in Miami. He’ll also describe his experience being one of the four drivers to participate in the recent tire test at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “Roval.”
  • We take a look at the Daniel Suarez’s Racing Roots and discuss his transition from Xfinity Series champion to Monster Energy Cup Series rookie.
  • Parker Kligerman hops into the iRacing simulator to preview Sunday’s elimination race at Kansas, as well as the Formula 1 race in Austin, Texas.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. 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.

Daniel Hemric gets unexpected introduction to Cup car at Charlotte road course test (video)

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Being a native of Kannapolis, North Carolina, a lot of Daniel Hemric‘s racing firsts are connected to Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The 26-year-old Xfinity Series driver got another one this week when an unexpected call shortened a vacation to Mexico and put him in a Cup car for the first time.

Hemric, who drives Richard Childress Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet in his rookie season, was visiting the country as part of a birthday vacation for his wife, Kenzie.

“As soon as the wheels touched down I got a call from some guys a RCR asking ‘Hey, would you mind driving a Cup car Tuesday at a test?'” Hemric said Wednesday.

“Do I need to fly home right now or what?” Hemric responded.

Come Tuesday morning, Hemric was sitting in the cockpit of Ryan Newman‘s No. 31 Chevrolet as one of four drivers taking part in the first Goodyear tire test on the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course, a 2.42-mile, 18-turn circuit made up of most of the original 1.5-mile track and the infield road course.

MORE: Cup drivers share thoughts on Charlotte road course

The two-day test could give Hemric a step up on his Xfinity competition as the series also will run on the road course next year.

“The first two or three runs was about getting me acclimated (to the car) but since then I think we’ve done a good job of communicating with Goodyear and trying to figure what we need to be able to make sure fans will be able to see racing and side-by-side racing and a lot of action, which I think you’re going to see.”

Added Hemric: “These Cup cars get up to speed so quick compared to the Xfinity car, with such low downforce and high horsepower. It’s been fun to figure out how to get that laid down here around the roval.”

Luckily, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Jamie McMurray were all experiencing the road course for the first time.

“Obviously, being my first time in (a Cup car), you’re trying to be aware of what you’re doing yourself,” Hemric said. “But to be able to lean on those guys, have the same thoughts as them, really collaborate with NASCAR and the race track to figure out where we should place those chicanes and all that stuff. I feel like we’ve made a lot of progress working as a group.”

MORE: Daniel Hemric returning to RCR in 2018

 

Spencer Boyd will compete in Xfinity full-time in 2018 for SS Green Light Racing

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SS Green Light Racing announced Thursday Spencer Boyd will compete full-time for it next season in the Xfinity Series.

Boyd will drive the No. 76 Chevrolet sponsored by Grunt Style, a veteran-owned lifestyle brand.

Boyd, 22, has made four starts for the team this year in the No. 07 Chevrolet, which has primarily been driven by Ray Black Jr.

“This is the day I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” Boyd said in a press release.  “I’ve been racing something since I was 5 years old with the dream of making racing my career. Grunt Style has made my dreams come true.”

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Boyd has 12 starts between the Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series. In six Xfinity starts, including the four this year, his best result is 27th at New Hampshire.

Jason Miller will serve as the crew chief on the car that is owned by Bobby Dotter. Dotter has fielded cars in 116 races in the Xfinity Series since 1995 and 305 Truck Series entries since 2004.

“(Spencer) is one of the hardest working drivers I’ve seen,” Dotter said in the press release. “He is at the shop everyday helping with the cars and making the guys laugh.  Our organization is better because the team believes it when he says this is a team sport.  We are looking forward to a great 2018 season.”