Kyle Busch wins First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway


MARTINSVILLE, Virginia — Kyle Busch won the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway, edging Martin Truex Jr. in an overtime finish as a large multi-car wreck unfolded at the start-finish line.

Busch passed teammate Denny Hamlin as they took the white flag and pulled ahead of Truex coming to the checkered flag.

The win, Busch’s fifth of the year and the second of his career at Martinsville, clinches Busch a spot in the championship race. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver led a race-high 184 laps in the 505-lap race.

“Awesome to get to victory lane here at Martinsville,” Busch told NBCSN. “You know, I wanted to win Charlotte, Martinsville and Homestead and that’ll make us this year’s champions, so we’ve got one more.

“Just wanted to say our guys did an awesome job preparing this car. We weren’t the best all day, but we put ourselves in the right spots there at the end and there was kind of chaos ensuing and none of it was our fault, we just came out on the right end of the stick.”

The top five were Busch, Truex, Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick.

The final shootout was set up when Hamlin got into the back of race leader Chase Elliott with two laps to go in the original distance, turning the No. 24 and sending it into the Turn 4 wall. Elliott led 123 laps before the accident. He finished 27th.

The wreck at the start-finish line started when Hamlin and Ryan Blaney made contact exiting Turn 4 and began a chain reaction.

During the cool down laps, Elliott forced Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota toward the outside wall. After exiting their cars, Elliott and Hamlin had a heated exchange.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Brad Keselowski

STAGE 2 WINNER: Brad Keselowski

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY:  Despite the crash at the end of the race, Denny Hamlin finished seventh after bouncing back from a pit road penalty to begin Stage 2 … Trevor Bayne finished sixth for his sixth top 10 of the year and his first at Martinsville … Clint Bowyer earned his sixth top five of the year and his first since Watkins Glen … Kevin Harvick earned his first top five at Martinsville since 2011.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: AJ Allmendinger finished last. He was disqualified from the race after 94 laps for failing to get his car fixed under the five-minute clock. He was involved in an accident with Danica Patrick on Lap 87 … Kyle Larson finished 37th after being involved in a crash early in the final stage when he made contact with a lapped car exiting Turn 2. It was Larson’s second consecutive DNF. … Jamie McMurray placed 29th, two laps down after pitting twice in Stage 2 for a tire rub. … Jimmie Johnson finished 12th, placing outside the top 10 at Martinsville for the fifth time in seven starts … Joey Logano finished 24th, a lap down after he spun with eight to go from losing a tire. His No. 22 Ford was damaged from contact with Kyle Busch.

NOTABLE: The race was the first Cup event at Martinsville to finish at night under the newly installed lights … Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 11th in his last Cup race at Martinsville Speedway. … Kyle Weatherman finished 35th in his Cup debut.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “(Denny Hamlin) came over and talked to me on the back straightaway and he said somebody was pushing him, but it wasn’t two car lengths between him and the next guy. So, my Momma always said if you don’t have anything nice, not to say anything at all. So, it’s not even worth my time. We’ll just go on to Texas.” – Chase Elliott

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT 2: “Bent fenders, hurt feelings.  I love it.” – Kevin Harvick.

NEXT: AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway at 2 p.m. ET on Nov. 5 on NBC.

NASCAR America: The challenges of Martinsville Speedway

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What Martinsville Speedway lacks in size compared to other tracks it makes up in difficulty say drivers and NASCAR America’s analysts.

Landon Cassill joined Carolyn Manno, Parker Kligerman and Jeff Burton on Thursday’s show and discussed the challenges of the half-mile paperclip track.

“It can be fun when it’s going well,’’ said Cassill, who will make his Cup season debut this weekend in the No. 00 for StarCom Racing. “That place, if you’re car is not handling well, you can end up going backwards and just by the time you’ve got some clear race track the leader is right behind you. So it can be frustration. I tend to like Martinsville.’’

Kligerman calls racing in the pack at Martinsville Speedway “the most aggressive racing I’ve ever been a part of in my life.’’

Jeff Burton said: “It’s … one of the hardest race tracks we go to period because you have to do it lap after lap after lap and it’s so easy to get, quite simply, just really, really mad at the guy you’re racing with because he’s hitting you and he’s banging on you.’’

Cup drivers have their description of the track. See what NASCAR America’s analysts and Cup drivers have to say about the track that hosts Sunday’s Cup race in the video above.

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Richard Childress Racing reinstates Xfinity crew chief Nick Harrison

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Richard Childress Racing has reinstated Nick Harrison to crew chief  of the No. 3 Xfinity team after he served a five-race suspension for a violation at Daytona International Speedway. 

Harrison’s first race back will be April 8 at Texas.

Harrison was suspended after the No. 3 car of Austin Dillon had a rear suspension violation in pre-qualifying inspection. Harrison and the team’s car chief were ejected by NASCAR after the violation. RCR imposed the suspension.

“I’m looking forward to being back with my team and winning races after my five-race suspension,” Harrison said in a statement from the team.

Brandon Thomas served as the interim crew chief while Harrison was out. Austin Dillon finished a season-best fourth for the team last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Martinsville breakdown, Aric Almirola and Bubba Wallace

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and features host Carolyn Manno and Parker Kligerman in Stamford, Connecticut, and Jeff Burton and Landon Cassill from Burton’s Garage.

Among the topics today:

  •  Prepare for paint swapping, bent fenders, and bruised egos. It’s time to go short-track racing at Martinsville Speedway! Jeff, Parker and Landon will tell you what to expect this weekend at the famous half-mile. We’ll also see what it takes to succeed there, as Parker takes us for some quick laps in the NBCSN iRacing Simulator.
  • After making the switch to Stewart-Haas Racing in the offseason, Aric Almirola is off to the best start of his Cup Series career. Currently 10th in the standings, he’ll tell Marty Snider about his early season success.
  • Since finishing second at the Daytona 500, rookie driver Bubba Wallace has cooled off. Now he faces his first Cup Series start at Martinsville in the iconic No. 43 car, and he’s feeling confident — it’s where Wallace scored his first truck series win nearly five years ago. We’ll examine the struggles he might have to work through this season and also hear his reflections on his early years of racing in the latest edition of “A Driver’s Drive.”

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

Weekend schedule for NASCAR at Martinsville Speedway

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NASCAR returns to its backyard this weekend after the three week West Coast swing.

The Cup and Camping World Truck Series visit Martinsville Speedway in Southern Virginia.

The weekend is capped off by Sunday’s STP 500. It will be the first Cup race broadcast on Fox Sports 1 this year.

Here’s the full weekend schedule complete with TV and radio info.

(All times are Eastern)

Friday, March 23

8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. — Truck garage opens

11:05 – 11:55 a.m. — Truck practice (No TV)

1:05 – 1:55 p.m. — Truck practice (Fox Sports 1)

3:05 – 3:55 p.m. — Final Truck practice (FS1)

Saturday, March 24

7 a.m. – 8 p.m. — Cup garage open

7:30 a.m. — Truck garage opens

10:05 – 10:55 a.m. — Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

11:05 a.m. — Truck qualifying; multi-truck/three rounds (FS1)

12:15 p.m. — Truck driver-crew chief meeting

12:30 – 1:20 p.m. — Final Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

1:30 p.m. — Truck driver introductions

2 p.m. — Alpha Energy Solutions 250; 250 laps/131.5 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

5:10 p.m. — Cup qualifying; multi-car/three rounds (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, March 25

9:30 a.m. — Cup garage opens

Noon — Driver-crew chief meeting

1:20 p.m. — Driver introductions

2 p.m. — STP 500; 500 laps/263 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)