Martin Truex Jr. heads to Miami looking to cap off career-best year with Cup title

Leave a comment

The 35-race preamble is over for the Cup Series and Martin Truex Jr.

After dominating all season in almost every statistical category, Truex now knows who he has to fend off to win the Cup title .

The Furniture Row Racing driver will face Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

The 37-year-old driver stands out among the group. He’s the only one without a Cup title.

“That means it’s my turn,” Truex said.

The No. 78 team heads into the race after finishing third at Phoenix.

Truex placed in the top three in all three Round of 8 races. Those three top fives give him a season-high 18. Keselowski is tied with Denny Hamlin for second with 15.

Among those top fives for Truex are a series- and career-best seven wins.

“Definitely excited about the position we’re in, to go to Homestead,” Truex said “Feel like we’ve got a lot of momentum, we’ve got a lot of consistency in our team, and doing all the right things right now. ”

With a series-best 19 stage wins and 2,175 laps led, Truex is the statistical favorite heading into the Ford EcoBoost 400. The season finale is held at a 1.5-mile track. Truex has earned six of his seven wins on similar tracks.

“If I’m the favorite, perfect, I like that,” Truex said. “I think it’s a better position to be in.  I was the underdog before (in 2015) and I finished fourth, so yeah, bring it on.”

Truex will try to capture his first Cup title in his 12th full-time season. Keselowski’s title (2012) was in his third season, Busch’s in his 11th season (2015) and Harvick’s title came in his 14th (2014).

“I don’t think it’s any extra pressure at all,” Truex said. “I have a lot of respect for all three of these guys. Two of them were in the Final Four when I made it in 2015 (Busch and Harvick). Definitely have a little bit of experience in this position, but you know, honestly just excited about the opportunity. I feel like we’re in a whole lot better spot as a team than we were the first time we had a shot at it, and we’re going to go out there and just do the best job we can do.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in our team right now and what we’re doing, and I think today was a perfect example of that for us, so just keep doing what we’re doing, go down to Miami and just have fun and do what we know how to do. Do the best job we possibly can and hopefully come out on top.”

If Truex does take the title, he will do it without the presence of team owner Barney Visser at the track.

Visser is recovering from bypass surgery on Nov. 6, two days after he suffered a heart attack. Truex said he had been home since Friday.

“It’s definitely a bummer,” Truex said. “For a long time he thought he was bad luck because we only won when he was not here. So if we do win it next weekend and he’s not there, he may never show up again.”

 

Watch: Championship 4 drivers share thoughts on Miami outcome

Leave a comment

After 200 laps Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, William Byron claimed the Xfinity Series championship in his rookie year by finishing third in the Ford EcoBoost 300.

He finished ahead of his JR Motorsports teammates, Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier, and Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric.

Watch the above video for Byron’s first interview as a NASCAR champion.

Below are interviews with the remaining Championship 4 drivers.

Elliott Sadler

Sadler placed eighth in the race after contact with Ryan Preece with less than 10 laps to go cut a tire on his No. 1 Chevrolet. It Sadler’s fourth runner-up result in the points in his Xfinity career.

Justin Allgaier

Allgaier finished 12th in the race after struggling for most 300-mile event. He was competing without his primary crew chief, who had been suspended for the race. Chad Knaus, the seven-time champion crew chief in the Cup Series with Jimmie Johnson, helped out on the pit box for the No. 7 Chevrolet.

Daniel Hemric

Hemric finished last among the Championship 4 drivers in 34th after his No. 21 Chevrolet experienced battery problems early in Stage 2. Hemric spent 12 laps on pit road before returning to the race.

JR Motorsports sweeps top three in final Xfinity Series standings

Leave a comment

William Byron finished third in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 to give JR Motorsports its second Xfinity title.

The team, co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., swept the top-three spots in the final standings with Elliott Sadler placing second and Justin Allgaier in third.

Daniel Hemric placed fourth after finishing last among the Championship 4 drivers in the race.

Race-winner Cole Custer ends the season in fifth.

Click here for the points results.

Results, stats for Xfinity season finale at Miami

Leave a comment

Cole Custer led 182 laps to win the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It’s his first Xfinity win and the first series win for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Custer swept all three stages of the race and beat Sam Hornish Jr., William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Ryan Preece.

Byron clinched the Xfinity title with his third-place finish.

Click here for results.

Devastated Elliott Sadler watches another title chance go away

1 Comment

HOMESTEAD, Florida — Elliott Sadler’s fourth runner-up finish for the Xfinity title in the last seven years was a pain he had not felt before.

“I’d say tonight is the most devastating and down and out I’ve ever felt in my career,’’ Sadler said after finishing second to JR Motorsports teammate William Byron for the championship.

Sadler’s anger was directed at Ryan Preece, who slowed Sadler by challenging him for position and stalling Sadler’s momentum as Sadler tried to hold off Byron for the championship in the final 10 laps.

“We were in position to win this championship,’’ Sadler said. “We were there. He raced me hard and held me down and (Byron) got a run on us and he let (Byron) go. Very frustrating.’’

Byron took advantage by diving under Sadler and passing him. Sadler tried to get by Preece but made contact that caused his right front tire to go down. Sadler finished eighth, losing the championship to Byron, who placed third.

“To be that close and not win a championship is frustrating,’’ said the 42-year-old Sadler, who has not won a title in any of NASCAR’s top three national series. “I don’t have many years left, and I wanted to try to fulfill a childhood dream. I didn’t know it was going to come down to a guy that’s not even racing for anything to hold us down like that. No respect at all.’’

Preece said he was racing for something. He was in the No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing to compete for the car owner’s title.

“I’m just doing what I’m doing for Joe ,’’ Preece said. “They told me to race for the owners championship.’’

Sadler didn’t buy it when told what Preece said..

“He wasn’t because (Sam Hornish Jr.) was half a lap ahead of him,’’ Sadler said, referring to the Team Penske car that won the car owners title. “He wasn’t racing anybody.’’

 and on Facebook