Kyle Busch wins First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway

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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.

Watkins Glen, Michigan announce multi-year sponsor deals

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Watkins Glen International and Michigan International Speedway announced multi-year sponsorship deals for their Cup Series races Thursday.

WGI announced the Aug. 5 race at the road course will be sponsored by GoBowling.com. The 90-lap race will be called “Go Bowling at the Glen.”

This is not the first time the bowling brand has sponsored a Cup event. It sponsored the spring race at Kansas Speedway from 2016-17 and the August event at Pocono Raceway from 2013-14.

As part of the deal, Go Bowling will have two bowling lanes at the track for the race weekend.

Michigan has renewed its sponsorship deal with FireKeepers Casino Hotel for its June Cup race for “many years.”

The hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan, began its relationship with MIS by sponsoring pole day in 2014. It began sponsoring the June race in 2016.

TheFireKeepers Casino 400 is scheduled for June 10.

ISM Raceway (Phoenix) also announced the title sponsor for its March 11 Cup race.

The event will called the TicketGuardian 500.

TicketGuardian is a mobile ticketing insurance provider. When fans purchase tickets to events at ISM Raceway, they will be given the option to add TicketGuardian’s ticket protection coverage. This allows fans to have insurance on the tickets they’ve purchased in advance.

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Hendrick, Kelley Blue Book extend relationship through 2020

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Hendrick Motorsports and Kelley Blue Book have extended their sponsorship deal three years through 2020, the team announced Thursday.

The car pricing, research and valuation guide will be a primary sponsor on Chase Elliott‘s N0. 9 Chevrolet in two races each year.

This season it will be on the No. 9 for the Aug. 18 race at Bristol Motor Speedway and the November playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Kelley Blue Book has been partnered with Hendrick since 2014 when it had a one-race deal to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr.

It went to a two-race deal beginning in 2016.

MORE: Driving the No. 9 feels like going home for Chase Elliott

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Danica Patrick has Daytona 500, Indy 500 sponsor; now needs ride

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GoDaddy will return to be Danica Patrick‘s sponsor for the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, the company announced Thursday.

Patrick said in November that she would retire from racing after competing in those two events. She has yet to secure a ride for either race but that was slowed by the lack of sponsorship until Thursday’s announcement.

A Chip Ganassi Racing executive said last week that the team was no longer in discussions with Patrick for her to drive for the team in either race. Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the team would stay focused on its current operations instead of adding another car for those races: “We’re going to stay focused on that rather than put another temporary effort together and not doing it up to the standards that we would want to, so I don’t think you’ll see that happening with us in 2018.”

MORE: Danica Patrick confirms she is dating NFL quarterback

GoDaddy signed Patrick in 2006 when she was in IndyCar and followed her to NASCAR, ending its sponsorship after the 2015 season. While together, Patrick was the face of the company, appearing in 13 GoDaddy Super Bowl ads – the most Super Bowl commercial appearances by a celebrity.

“You could say, ‘we’re getting the band back together,” said GoDaddy Chief Marketing Officer Barb Rechterman. “It makes sense in that our goals are so well-aligned – she’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the Internet and turn their ‘side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers. We love it.”

Said Patrick in a statement: “This is definitely the way I want to finish my racing career – at these two iconic races, backed by my iconic, long-time sponsor. GoDaddy was there for me when my career was just really starting so it’s exciting to be getting back in the GoDaddy ‘green’ for my final two races. Our brands have always been powerful together, and I think it’s awesome to have them at my side when I go ‘all in’ with my businesses after racing.”

Patrick has made six starts in the Daytona 500. She won the pole for the 2013 race. She finished eighth that year, her best finish in the season-opening Cup race. She finished fourth in last year’s Advance Auto Parts Clash. She is eligible for that race this year. Patrick has made seven starts in the Indianapolis 500 from 2005-11. She finished a career-best fourth in her first race there, leading 19 laps. She has two top-five and five top-10 finishes in the Indy 500.

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Atlanta Motor Speedway accepting lucky charms to help Chase Elliott earn first Cup win

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The president of Atlanta Motor Speedway is hoping history will repeat.

Ed Clark is doing whatever he can to get Georgia-native Chase Elliott to Victory Lane for the first time in the Cup Series.

To do that, he’s using the same marketing scheme he executed in 1983 in the weeks before Bill Elliott’s first Cup victory.

AMS is asking for fans to send lucky charms to the track, which will be presented to Chase Elliott during a special event there Feb. 13.

There’s no restrictions on what can be sent.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver is winless after 77 starts in NASCAR’s premier series.

Bill Elliott in 1983. (Atlanta Motor Speedway).

His father went winless in his first 155 starts from 1976-83.

Clark put together the original lucky charm drive ahead of the October race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he served as public relations director.

“The promotion we came up with for Bill in ’83 created an amazing amount of interest and support from fans all over the country,” said Clark in a press release. “We received package after package full of good-luck charms, and it seemed like everybody was pulling for him to get that first win.”

Three races later, in the season finale at Riverside International Raceway, the 28-year-old Bill Elliott claimed his first of 44 Cup victories.

Fans can send their lucky charms to Elliott by shipping them to AMS at 1500 Highway 19/41, Hampton, GA 30228, with attention to “Good Luck, Chase.” Fans can also participate by using the hashtag #GoodLuckChase across the various social media platforms with pictures and messages to Elliott.

The Cup season begins Feb. 18 with the 60th Daytona 500. The following weekend, the series visits Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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