Bowyer, Blaney, Suarez win in Monster Energy Open to advance to All-Star Race, Elliott wins Fan Vote

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CONCORD, N.C. — Clint Bowyer, Ryan Blaney and Daniel Suarez won stages in the Monster Energy Open to advance to the Monster Energy All-Star Race.

They will be joined there by Chase Elliott, who won the fan vote and will start in his second All-Star Race.

Bowyer started from the pole and led every lap of the first 20-lap stage. He had over a two-second lead at the end of the stage.

Blaney then followed Bowyer by leading all 20 laps in the second stage to advance.

The final 10-lap stage started with a caution as Landon Cassill, who only took two tires, got a slow start and was turned by Elliott. Cassill slid through the infield grass before lightly impacting the inside wall. He didn’t suffer any major damage.

When the segment finally got underway, Daniel Suarez controlled the first four laps. Then Elliott caught him and began pressuring Suarez, which allowed Erik Jones to catch the duo. With four laps left, all three cars were together as they exited Turn 4.

Jones got to Elliott’s bumper as they entered the tri-oval and moved to the inside. Jones quickly ran out of room and caught the edge of the infield, bringing back memories of the “Pass in the Grass” from the 1987 All-Star Race.

But this version didn’t end well, as the contact damaged the No. 77, which began smoking and spun in Turn 1 to bring out the caution.

“I got a good run and tried to go to the top and there wasn’t any room on the top so I went to the bottom and couldn’t really see behind the 24 (Chase Elliott) where the grass began,” Jones said. “So just hoped there was enough pavement down there to make a move and get clear, but unfortunately there wasn’t and that was the end of our day.”

Suarez got a great jump on the final restart and wasn’t challenged over the final three laps.

NASCAR America: Navigating Sonoma means plenty of twists and turns

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You turn left and turn right, what’s the big deal, right?

Actually, wrong.

Sonoma Raceway is an extremely technical racetrack full of winding turns both to the left and right.

On Thursday’s NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman took to the iRacing Simulator to show what drivers might expect on the nearly two-mile roadcourse north of San Francisco this weekend.

NASCAR America: Which NASCAR driver is ready for zombie apocalypse?

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Now there’s something you don’t hear NASCAR drivers talk about every day: how to prepare — and potentially survive — a zombie apocalypse.

Our intrepid reporter, Rutledge Wood, threw a number of NASCAR drivers for a loop when he asked them that very question.

The reactions range from incredulousness to seriousness.  Among those Rut talked with included Martin Truex Jr., Elliott Sadler, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones and Kyle Larson.

And here’s a few surprises:

  • Brad Keselowski wants to buy a tank for the apocalypse, and supposedly Dale Earnhardt Jr. is waiting to take delivery on his own tank — both to kill zombies, of course!
  • Several drivers also talked about one of their former own who reportedly has already made big plans to take on any zombies that come across his path. As Wood said, that former driver’s name rhymes with Schmarl Schmedwards.

Check out the hysterical video — trust us, it WILL make you laugh — if for nothing else the outlandish responses from some of the drivers.

But it also makes one wonder: what if a zombie is among us and he’s disguised as a zombie? What then — and who might it be?

NASCAR America: John Hunter Nemechek looks to overcome small team, funding

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The good news for John Hunter Nemechek was with his win last weekend at Gateway, he and Nemco Motorports qualified for this season’s Camping World Truck Series playoffs.

But there is potential bad news, as well: because of having one of the smallest teams in the truck series and limited funding, Nemechek and his team are going to need more financial help, lest they potentially can’t afford to race for the championship in the playoffs.

Nemechek talked about that with NASCAR America on Thursday’s show. See the above video.

NASCAR America: Papis teaching next generation of NASCAR champions

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Even though much of his racing career was spent in open-wheel competition, it may surprise some to know Como, Italy native Max Papis has a combined 95 career starts in NASCAR across its three racing series: Cup, Xfinity and Trucks.

Papis’ versatility has proven invaluable in mentoring a number of young drivers with the potential of some day becoming NASCAR champions, including current student William Byron.

Papis spent Thursday on NASCAR America talking about what makes a good young driver and how he enjoys his role as a mentor and teacher.