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.

Kevin Harvick penalized time in final Cup practice

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HOMESTEAD, Florida — Title contender Kevin Harvick will miss 15 minutes of Saturday’s final practice because of inspection issues last weekend at Phoenix.

Harvick is the only one among the four title contenders who will miss practice time Saturday.

Final practice is from 1 – 1:50 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

David Starr is the only driver who missed time in Saturday’s first practice. He missed 15 minutes because his team was late to qualifying inspection Friday.

Jimmie Johnson, David Ragan and Michael McDowell will each miss 30 minutes of final practice because their cars failed qualifying inspection three times Friday.

Harvick, Chase Elliott, Cole Whitt and Starr each will miss 15 minutes of final practice because their cars failed inspection twice before last weekend’s Phoenix race.

Austin Dillon and Matt DiBenedetto each will miss 15 minutes of final practice because their cars failed inspection before qualifying twice Friday.

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Justin Allgaier ‘in the best place mentally’ a year after disappointing title finish

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The biggest disappointment of Justin Allgaier‘s NASCAR career has turned into “the best thing that’s ever happened” to it.

It only took “about a week” for the 31-year-old driver to accept that.

The JR Motorsports’ driver is one of the four competing for the Xfinity Series title in today’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

It was in this race a year ago that Allgaier was within arm’s reach of a possible championship, his first in NASCAR.

But it was snatched away on the final restart.

With three laps to go, Allgaier restarted in the third row on the outside. In front of him was fellow championship driver Erik Jones. In front of Jones was Cole Whitt in a car normally found toward the back of the pack. Whitt had not pit under the caution because his team had used up its tire allotment.

Elliott Sadler (far right) and Daniel Suarez pull away on the final restart of last year’s Xfinity race at Homestead as Justin Allgaier (red car, middle) boxed in. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

At the green flag, Whitt spun his tires and backed-up the outside lane. That allowed Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez to get separation from Allgaier and Jones and race each other for the win and championship, which Suarez claimed.

“We’re sitting here and not standing on that (championship) stage over there like I think all of us would have liked to have been,” Allgaier said after he finished sixth.

Before Allgaier could come to terms with anything positive from the experience, he spent the following week just wanting to be left alone.

“If I could have locked myself in a dark room and not talk(ed) to anyone, I’d have been perfectly okay with that,” Allgaier said Thursday during the NASCAR championship media day in Miami Beach, Florida.

Allgaier got back in touch with those year-old feelings this week when he watched a replay of the race while flying to Florida.

“It still bugs me that we didn’t have a shot because of somebody else’s decision,” Allgaier said.

But Allgaier views the end of the 2016 race through a wiser lens. One where he accepts there’s only so much he can do in a 200-lap race against 39 other drivers.

“What if I had broken a transmission or run into the wall a little bit too hard on one of those times that I got (into) the wall like 37 times in the race last year and cut a tire?” Allgaier said. “What if a meteor fell out of the sky? … There’s so many things that, when you have 40 competitors on the racetrack every week, there’s so many things that can happen that are out of your control.”

His attitude has been helped by the best year of his career. Allgaier enters the championship race with a career-best two wins – including at his home track Chicagoland Speedway.

Allgaier also leads all Xfinity regulars with 497 laps led.

 “I look at 2017 as we have done everything we can do up to this point,” Allgaier said. “We’ve had the best race cars I’ve ever had. We’ve had great pit stops. We’ve got guys that work together on the race team that are incredible. I feel like for me personally I’m in the best shape of my life, on and off the track. I’m in the best place mentally.

“And at the end of the day, no matter what happens on Saturday night, I know that we have the best product on the racetrack and we’re in the best position we can be. And if it doesn’t work, it’s not because we weren’t in the right spot or because we didn’t do things right. It’s because circumstances are out of our control. And that’s taken so much pressure off of me this year.”

MORE: Previewing the Xfinity championship drivers

 

Goodyear signs extension with NASCAR

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HOMESTEAD, Florida — NASCAR announced Saturday a multi-year renewal with Goodyear for the company to be the series’ sole tire supplier. The deal goes through the 2022 season.

The move wasn’t in doubt with NASCAR and Goodyear having previously done tests for the 2018 season. Goodyear has been the exclusive tire supplier for all three of NASCAR’s top series since 1997. Goodyear has been a race tire supplier for NASCAR since 1954.

“We proudly join Goodyear in celebrating our renewed and longstanding partnership,” said Brent Dewar, NASCAR president, in a statement. “For more than half a century, NASCAR and our teams have trusted Goodyear tires. Our partners’ commitment to innovation and excellence plays a key role in our unyielding pursuit to deliver the best racing product in the world.”

Goodyear’s current five-year deal was set to expire after this season.

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Today’s Xfinity race at Miami: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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The Xfinity season comes to an end this afternoon with the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric and William Byron will race for title in the 200-lap race, which concludes the 33-race season that began in February at Daytona.

Below is all the vital info you need prior to the race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: Wild Bill Wichrowski from Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” will give the command to start engines at 3:37 p.m. Green flag is scheduled for 3:45 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile oval.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 45. Stage 2 ends at Lap 90.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 7:30 a.m. Qualifying is slated for 11:15 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is 12:45 p.m. Driver introductions are at 3:05 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Jacqie Rivers wil perform the anthem at 3:31 p.m.

TV/RADIO:  Countdown to Green begins at 3 p.m. on NBCSN. NBCSN will air the race at 3:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at mrn.com, starting with its pre-race show at 3 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts a temperature of 79 degrees and a four percent chance of rain at race time.

LAST TIME: Daniel Suarez won the race and clinched the series title, beating Ty Dillon and Elliott Sadler. Suarez led 133 laps from the pole to become the first foreign-born driver to win a national NASCAR title.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying is scheduled for 11:15 a.m.