Robert Laberge /Allsport

Matt Kenseth to drive rookie paint scheme in Cup season finale

1 Comment

In likely their last NASCAR starts together, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will get to race like it’s 2000.

Joe Gibbs Racing revealed Tuesday that Kenseth, who is making his last start for the team Sunday in the Ford EcoBoost 400 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC), will sport his rookie paint scheme.

The No. 20 DeWalt Toyota will look like the N0. 17 Ford Kenseth drove 17 years ago when he competed for Roush Fenway Racing and won the Cup Rookie of the Year Award in a DeWalt-sponsored car.

He joins Earnhardt in driving his rookie paint scheme in the race.

Earnhardt’s No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet will look like the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet he drove in the 2000 Cup season.

MORE: Budweiser pays tribute to Dale Jr.

Kenseth enters the race after earning his 39th Cup win at Phoenix Raceway.

Earnhardt tweeted after Sunday’s race that when he went to congratulate Kenseth on his win, his friend said “one for the old guys!”

Kenseth and Earnhardt’s NASCAR careers began in tandem. They competed against each other in the Xfinity Series from 1998-99 before making the jump to Cup full-time in 2000.

“We did a lot of things, together,” Earnhardt said last Friday. “We supported each other and enjoyed seeing each other have success.  Matt, I love his sense of humor, I love the person he is and the person he has become, the father he is. … Since the very beginning have always been at most race tracks, probably 80 or 90 percent of them we have been neighbors in the bus lot.

“And so, you know he has always had an influence on me as far as how I race or the person I want to be or become.  It’s just been a great friendship … this year he rides and I ride (bicycles), so we cycle a lot on Friday’s together and he jokes all the time when we found out about the news about (wife) Amy’s pregnancy he joked that he was angry he didn’t get a text from me before he read about it on social media.  So, that is the kind of friend he is.  He expects to be one of those guys that you text when you have that kind of news and I love that about Matt and I love that he thinks that is our friendship that we have.

“Because that will be with us long after we are done driving.  And I hate to think that he if finished knowing that he wants to continue to compete.  I know that he wants to race and I think he can obviously still be competitive and I hope that he gets the opportunity he wants to be able to continue.  It’s going to make Homestead even more emotional because we came in together.”

Earnhardt and Kenseth are the only drivers from the 2000 rookie class still competing in NASCAR. Xfinity Series driver Elliott Sadler is the only other full-time driver from that season still competing full-time in NASCAR.

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