Kyle Larson says heavy crashes led him to hit the brakes on running the Indianapolis 500 for now

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INDIANAPOLIS – It’s only a matter of time until Kyle Larson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be at the Indianapolis 500 – perhaps with the latter watching the former behind the wheel.

Larson said he has approval from team owner Chip Ganassi, who fields cars in IndyCar and NASCAR, to run the Greatest Spectacle in Racing when he’s ready.

“They are all waiting on me to say I want to do it,” Larson said Saturday between Cup practices at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “I do, but when I see Scott Dixon’s and (Sebastien) Bourdais crash, it makes me think twice about it a little bit. I’ll get the courage up to do it someday.”

Dixon walked away from a terrifying airborne crash during the Indianapolis 500 while Bourdais was sidelined by a fractured hip and pelvis in a qualifying wreck.

Larson might consult with Dixon (“the best in racing,” he said of his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate) but was even more interested with talking to Kurt Busch (who finished sixth in the 2014 Indy 500 as the most recent NASCAR driver to attempt the race and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day).

“Maybe next year or the year after,” Larson said of attempting the Indy 500 (which Kyle Busch said Friday he nearly attempted in 2017). “I want to do it at the right time. I feel like the way IndyCar is, and the politics is of it, it seems like one manufacturer is good one year, and then the next one is good the next year, then the next one the next year…so I want to time it so at the right time to where whatever manufacturer Chip is with is the best at that time (Ganassi switched this season from Chevrolet to Honda).”

Whenever Larson tries an Indy car here, Earnhardt might be watching from the luxury suites of Gasoline Alley. The 14-time most popular driver is making his final start Sunday in the Brickyard, but he hopes to return for the first time in May.

“What I’ll miss the most is the feeling you get when you come into this racetrack,” Earnhardt said of his last start. “The feeling you get when you know what’s happened here, who’s raced here, who’s been here. I was thinking about that in practice going down the back straightaway of all the names that have gone down that straightaway. It’s so overwhelming. I don’t know how you explain it or put that into words. There’s not a lot of tracks that give you that feeling. Daytona, maybe.

(Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

“I’d like to be able to come here after my retirement, especially for the Indy race. I’ve never been to the Indy 500 obviously, so that would be a great experience. It’s an impressive place.”

IMS president Doug Boles presented Earnhardt with a farewell gift Saturday, the No. 8 from the track’s former scoring pylon. Earnhardt drove either the No. 8 or 88 in every start at Indy, and his late father (who won NASCAR’s second race at Indianapolis in 1995) started and finished eighth in his final start here in 2000.

Earnhardt Jr.’s best finish in 16 Indy starts was fourth in 2012, his only top five on the 2.5-mile oval.

It would be awesome to win one of the big, key races in the season,” he said. “It’s a race that I think all the drivers feel is very important to our series and a big milestone in your career. Ranks right up there close to the Daytona 500 in importance and pride to be able to come away with a win at this place. Considering how our season has gone, it’d right all the wrongs. We’d forget all the struggles we had to get a big win like that.”

 

Results, statistics from Ford EcoBoost 200 Truck season finale

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Chase Briscoe earned his first Camping World Truck Series victory in Friday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

And while finishing second is supposed to be the first loser, it wasn’t for Christopher Bell, whose runner-up showing clinched the 2017 Truck Series championship for him.

Click here for the full results from Friday’s race.

MORE: Christopher Bell wins Truck Series championship, Chase Briscoe earns first career Truck win

MORE: Here’s the final 2017 Camping World Truck Series driver standings

 

Here’s the final 2017 Camping World Truck Series driver standings

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Christopher Bell won the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in Friday’s Ford EcoBoost 200, with all four Championship 4 drivers finishing within four points of each other.

Bell finished with 4,035 points, 2016 Truck champ Johnny Sauter finished second in the standings with 4,034 points, rookie Austin Cindric finished third (4,032) and two-time series champ Matt Crafton finished fourth (4,031).

Click here for the final 2017 season driver standings.

MORE: Christopher Bell wins Truck Series championship, Chase Briscoe earns first career Truck win

MORE: Results, statistics from Ford EcoBoost 200 Truck season finale

Christopher Bell wins Truck title, Chase Briscoe earns first career series win

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The first champion of the NASCAR Championship Weekend was crowned Friday night as Christopher Bell earned his first Camping World Truck Series title.

Chase Briscoe won the race, the Ford EcoBoost 200, leading a race-high 77 laps in the 134-lap event, while Bell captured the championship by finishing second.

“It’s a dream come true,” Bell told FS1. “These trucks are so good and they pay so much attention to all the detail that goes into these things, and that’s what makes these Tundras so fast. I’m just speechless.”

MORE: Results, statistics from Ford EcoBoost 200 Truck season finale

MORE: Here’s the final 2017 Camping World Truck Series driver standings

Bell, an Oklahoma native who turns 23 on Dec. 16, has already been announced to drive next season in the Xfinity Series for Joe Gibbs Racing. He ends the 2017 Truck campaign with five wins and 21 top-10s in 23 Truck races.

“To be see Christopher be able to mature and grow … it just goes to show these guys develop and we do a good job of developing these guys,” team owner Kyle Busch told FS1. “Erik Jones won our first driver’s championship and now with Christopher Bell bringing home our second, it just continues to solidify our legacy.”

Briscoe, who also turns 23 one day before his good friend Bell, helped send Brad Keselowski Racing out on a high note. BKR is closing after this season.

“This is a long time coming,” Briscoe told FS1. “I’m so proud of these guys to know they’re not going to have job next year, yet they continue to bring real good trucks even though we were outside of the playoffs. … For those guys to continue to believe in me, I’m so blessed and thankful.”

Briscoe was also named Truck Series Rookie of the Year.

Team owner Brad Keselowski, who will be vying for the NASCAR Cup championship on Sunday, told FS1 about Briscoe: “He has a big, bright future ahead of him and along with (BKR teammate) Austin Cindric and I’m just happy to play a role and help him out.”

The other Championship 4 contestants that came up short were 2016 Truck champ Johnny Sauter (finished third), Austin Cindric (fifth) and Matt Crafton (sixth).

STAGE WINNERS: Stage 1 (Christopher Bell), Stage 2 (Ben Rhodes)

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Cindric showed a lot of mettle while running near the front much of the race. Not bad for a 19-year-old rookie. … Bell did exactly what he needed to do to win the title: finish ahead of his other three challengers.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Noah Gragson had a rough night, finishing 18th, three laps behind the leaders.

NOTABLE: Toyota earned its fifth consecutive Truck Manufacturers Championship, and 10th overall in the last 14 seasons. … With the exception of the two cautions between stages, there were no other cautions caused from on-track action.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “This whole organization, this whole team has been so good for so many years, you just don’t want to be that guy to let them down – and I’m really glad I didn’t let them down tonight.” – 2017 Truck Series champ Christopher Bell (via FS1).

WHAT’S NEXT: The 2017 season has concluded. The next race is the 2018 NextEra Energy Resources 250, Friday February 16, Daytona International Speedway.

Starting lineup for Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR Cup title race

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After making contact with both the outside wall and Chase Elliott last Sunday at Phoenix, Denny Hamlin failed to advance to Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

But that didn’t stop Hamlin — who has two career wins at the South Florida 1.5-mile track — from earning his second career pole for Sunday’s race.

Martin Truex Jr. — who has six wins on 1.5-mile tracks in his seven overall victories this season — was the highest qualifying Championship 4, starting on the front row alongside Hamlin.

The other Championship 4 drivers qualified third (Kyle Busch), fifth (Brad Keselowski) and ninth (Kevin Harvick).

Click here for the starting lineup for Sunday’s race.