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Kyle Busch takes pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Pocono Raceway

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Kyle Busch earned his second straight pole of the season and 28th of his NASCAR Cup career during Friday’s qualifying for Sunday’s Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway.

Busch topped the speed charts with a best lap of 179.151 mph, faster than outside polesitter Martin Truex Jr. (178.543 mph). Busch did so without crew chief Adam Stevens, who started a four-race suspension today for last week’s tire mishap at Dover.

“Any week that you’re able to qualify first and get the No. 1 pit selection is hopefully a good omen,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “It’s all about the speed that our guys have bringing to the racetrack. We’ve been really fast. Our cars have been showing good speed the last few weeks, so it’d be nice to show speed through 400 miles on Sunday.”

Truex, who for the second straight week also qualified alongside Busch at Dover, joked about the outcome, telling FS1, “Damn him. What else can you say? It was a good day for us. We had a lot of issues with the car. … Just one of those days that really tested us and we came out with second. It was a good day.”

Third through 12th were Matt Kenseth (178.108 mph), Ryan Blaney (177.897), Kurt Busch (177.799), Brad Keselowski (177.792), Kyle Larson (177.557), Jamie McMurray (177.368), Joey Logano (177.256), Ryan Newman (177.026), Michael McDowell (176.918) and Kevin Harvick (176.561).

McDowell’s effort was impressive, his highest start ever at Pocono (previous best was 27th in 2013).

“That’s a big jump, going from 27th to 11th,” McDowell told FS1. “We unloaded with a good car and just made it better every run. We haven’t been great in qualifying, but we’re coming off three straight top-20s, so we’ve had good cars and good speed and today we put it all together.”

It was also his best qualifying effort this season and equaled his 11th qualifying spot last summer at Watkins Glen.

Hendrick Motorsports struggled during the session, with Dover winner Jimmie Johnson being the highest qualifier – albeit 19th.

Chase Elliott qualified 25th, Kasey Kahne 26th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. 28th.

However, Earnhardt’s run will essentially not count as he blew an engine in practice earlier in the day and then had to replace it, meaning he will start Sunday’s race from the back of the 39-car field.

Earnhardt tweeted that even though he’ll start at the back of the pack, NASCAR preferred that he make at least one qualifying attempt.

This is the second time this season that Hendrick Motorsports failed to place one of its four cars in the final round of qualifying. The other time was Texas, when the cars of Earnhardt, Elliott and Kahne did not make an attempt because they couldn’t get their cars through pre-qualifying inspection in time.

Jimmie Johnson was the only car to get through inspection then, qualified 24th and then won the race.

Click here for full qualifying results.

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Virginia’s Motor Mile Speedway to end short track racing, drops NASCAR sanction

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Motor Mile Speedway has decided to not renew its NASCAR sanction for 2018, ending its reign as a circle track.

The .416-mile paved oval track in Fairlawn, Virginia, will undergo a significant transformation starting next year which does not include short track racing. A NASCAR Home Track, it has hosted the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for a number of years and hosted a number of then-Busch Series races nearly 30 years ago.

While it may return to host some select racing events in the future, track officials in a news release announced it will soon host “a variety of entertainment and sporting events.”

“We have tried to make the speedway successful, but with a downturn in interest, it’s increasingly difficult to make it work,” Speedway co-owner David Hagan said in a media release. “We are looking at a variety of events to bring new life and excitement to the property.

“The schedule could include everything from concerts, mud runs, festivals, camping, and even new racing events at some point.  You name it and it’s probably come up at our table.”

Located about an hour southwest of Roanoke, Virginia, the speedway sits on a 170-acre parcel of land. While the speedway will cease holding races, it’s adjacent drag strip will continue to operate for sportsman racing.

Click here for the full media release from the speedway.

NASCAR issues three lug nut penalties in final penalty report of season

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NASCAR has issued three penalties to crew chiefs for unsecured lug nuts following the championship weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Jason Ratcliff, crew chief on the No. 20 Toyota driven by Matt Kenseth, has been fined $20,000 and suspended one Cup points race for two unsecured lug nuts.

Ratcliff will be moving to the Xfinity Series to serve as Christopher Bell’s crew chief next season. The suspension is series specific. So he will be available to crew chief Bell in the season-opening race at Daytona.

Paul Wolfe, crew chief on Brad Keselowski‘s No. 2 Ford, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.

In the Camping World Truck Series, Phil Gould, crew chief on Ryan Truex‘s No. 16 Toyota, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.

Watch: Denver-area fans celebrate Martin Truex Jr.’s championship

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Barney Visser’s Furniture Row Racing is the only Cup team headquartered west of the Mississippi River, claiming Denver, Colorado, as its home.

Since the team began competing in NASCAR in 2005, the team has built up a dedicated fanbase in the city.

Those fans were rewarded when Martin Truex Jr. won Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 and claimed the team’s first Cup championship.

One watch party in the area took place the Quaker Steak & Lube in Westminster, just north of Denver.

A fan has shared video of the moment Truex captured the championship.

Above, you can watch the Furniture Row Racing fans in attendance celebrate during the final lap of the race.

NASCAR America: Elliott Sadler shouldn’t blame Ryan Preece for losing Xfinity title

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It was arguably one of the most difficult pills Elliott Sadler has ever had to swallow.

Just when it appeared he might finally capture his first career NASCAR championship in Saturday’s Xfinity Series title race, Sadler found himself held up by Ryan Preece, who was racing for the car owner’s title for Joe Gibbs Racing but was not involved in the race for the driver championship.

Preece was running the high line and kept Sadler from getting by him. Sadler tried everything he could to pass Preece, even putting his bumper into the back of Preece’s Toyota to get him to move over.

But that contact ultimately wound up costing Sadler one last chance to catch William Byron, who went on to win the Xfinity championship in his first year in the series.

Sadler, meanwhile, finished second for the second consecutive year — and the fourth time in the last seven seasons.

On Monday’s NASCAR America, analysts Dale Jarrett and Parker Kligerman broke down what happened to Sadler and whether Preece played a part in preventing Sadler from winning the title.

Here’s how Jarrett looked at it:

“I understand the frustration from Elliott Sadler with a driver that really’s not involved in anything. Ryan Preece is an outstanding young driver that made a name for himself. … I think they gave him bad information and put this young man in a very difficult situation. He wasn’t going to catch the 22 car at that point in time. It was really time for him to get out of the way of the two drivers battling for the championship.

“Unfortunately, his name is going to be associated with affecting the championship in this way. It’s part of it, he doesn’t have to pull out of the way, it’s up to Elliott to figure out a way to get around him.”

And here’s how Kligerman analyzed things:

“I completely understand Elliott Sadler’s frustrations. He had a chance to win the championship, he was in the front and felt like not being able to accomplish that pass on Ryan Preece and maybe get a little help there.

“But it’s not like Ryan stuck it out there, he was beside him and it just didn’t work out. And as they got together, I felt Ryan was running the same line he had been running, and that was Elliott trying to make a last-ditch effort.

“… He’s racing to have a job, to have a career in this sport, like Elliott Sadler. He told me after the race he was upset because he was an Elliott Sadler fan his whole life. He grew up watching Elliott Sadler. He did not want to be part of the championship discussion but was trying to do his job, doing what Joe Gibbs Racing told him to do, which was to try to beat the 22 for the owner’s title.

“I know why Elliott is upset, it’s the fourth time he’s finished second, but I don’t think Ryan did anything wrong.”

Catch more of what Parker and DJ had to say in the video above.

And speaking of William Byron, check out what our two analysts had to say about his championship in the video below.