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Chase Elliott gives Hendrick Motorsports first top five of season

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It took four races, but Hendrick Motorsports showed signs of competitiveness Sunday at ISM Raceway.

Chase Elliott became the first Hendrick driver to earn a top five in 2018 as he finished third in the TicketGuardian 500.

The result comes after pit strategy late in the race put Elliott in position to take the lead after a swift-green-flag pit stop.

But Elliott was passed by race winner Kevin Harvick well before leader Ryan Newman pitted with 23 laps to go. Elliott then fell behind runner-up Kyle Busch.

“We had a good car, solid,” Elliott told Fox. “(Crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) made a good call there at the end. We had a good pit stop there to give us the lead and just felt I needed a little bit more forward drive there to put the power down in front of (Harvick). I had pretty good turn those last two runs, before that I wasn’t turning good enough and had too good of forward bite. (Harvick) was definitely the car to beat. … There was a lot of laps left and I tried my best to hold him off as long as I could. I felt like him and Kyle (Busch) had just a little bit on us.”

The previous best finish for the No. 9 Chevrolet in the first three races this season was 10th at Atlanta. Elliott wrecked at Daytona and Las Vegas.

Sunday’s result was Elliott best since Cup’s last visit to the 1-mile track in November when he finished second to Matt Kenseth.

Hendrick’s other three Chevys finished in the top 15, with rookie William Byron placing a career-best 12th, was followed by Alex Bowman (13th) and Jimmie Johnson (14th).

Byron also led 15 laps, the first of his Cup career. He took the lead with a two-tire stop under caution on Lap 195.

“I think it just showed myself that I can do it; that I can do those restarts up there,” the 2017 Xfinity Series champion said. “I know I have the pace up there to run until our handling kind of took over, but I felt like if we can really start to hone in on what we need a little better we are going to be right there.  It’s going to take a little bit of work, but it was fun to at least be up there a little bit.”

Bowman started the day in fourth, but his race started to unravel during his first pit stop when he came out 15th. Then the driver cooling systems on the No. 88 Chevrolet failed.

Bowman was called for a speeding penalty on Lap 147.

“It was a frustrating day,” Bowman said. “I don’t know if we had brake fans or not because we didn’t have any other fans, everything inside the car quit.  My helmet blower quit, everything quit.  It was hot.  I burnt my feet pretty good, but the race car wasn’t bad.  Just my track bar quit when everything else quit, so I had no adjustment all day too.  We overcame a lot.  I sped on pit road, when I swerved to miss some debris.  Had some bad pit stops and rebounded from it.  We will take 13th for as rough as today was.”

Bowman and Johnson have yet to finish in the top 10 through four races.

“We got up to eighth and then had some pit strategy kind of work against us and fell back into the teens again, and it’s just so stinking hard to pass,” Johnson said. “I think if we could have stayed up there in that top 10 where we were, we would have finished there, but once we got mired back and had to start all over again, it was just a long grind.”

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)

BK Racing court filing reveals expenses, revenue for each race

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Court documents filed Thursday show that BK Racing made a net income of $359,619 through the Phoenix Cup race.

The documents are part of BK Racing’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. The team filed Chapter bankruptcy Feb. 15.

COURT DOCUMENTS: Click here to view the BK Racing filing

MORE: Peek into race purses under charter system

A hearing Thursday afternoon in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of North Carolina, on a motion by Union Bank & Trust to have a trustee take over the team’s operations was continued until Wednesday. BK Racing car owner Ron Devine was on the stand for more than two hours.

The bank claims it is owned more than $8 million in loan payments and seeks to have a trustee oversee BK Racing’s finances “to an end to the Debtor’s years of mismanagement,’’ according to court documents from the bank.

In its motion to appoint a trustee, Union Bank filed documents stating that the team lost nearly $30 million from 2014-16.

The updated budget filed Thursday on behalf of BK Racing breaks down income and expense for each of the first four points races and anticipated income and expenses the rest of the season.

The document shows that BK Racing had $50,000 sponsorship for the Daytona 500, $10,000 sponsorship each for the Atlanta and Las Vegas races and $30,000 sponsorship for the Phoenix race.

BK Racing listed prize money as:

$29,946 for its qualifying race at Daytona

$428,794 for finishing 20th in the Daytona 500

$91,528 for finishing 36th at Atlanta

$98,754 for finishing 33rd at Las Vegas

$82,000 for finishing 34th at Phoenix

The high payout for the Daytona 500 has given BK Racing more than $350,000 in net income. For other races, though, the team’s net income has been small.

At Phoenix, the team listed a net income of $790.

The team had $120,250 in revenue for the Phoenix weekend. It was broken down this way:

$82,000 in prize money

$30,000 in sponsorship

$8,250 in other revenue

The team listed $119,460 in expenses that weekend. Among the team’s expenses for Phoenix:

$35,000 for its engine lease

$21,000 for salary and wages

$10,525 for airfare for team personnel

$9,000 for tires

$9,000 for contract payroll

Those expenses alone totaled $84,525, exceeding what the team made in prize money and showing how important sponsorship is in the sport.

BK Racing provided a budget for the remaining races. The team’s budgeted expense was more than $103,000 for every race. That included everything from engine lease and tire bills to hotels, meals, salary and wages, entry fees, insurance, payroll taxes and more.

The most expensive race is the Daytona 500 at $135,502, which included an engine lease of $50,000. Next listed was Auto Club Speedway at $125,606, which included $9,500 in airfare and $10,000 in tires.

BK Racing’s prize money estimates on remaining races is based on a 30th-place finish in each event.

BK Racing lists its sponsorship budget for future races as $50,000 per race, progressing to $100,000 and to $150,000 for the final 13 races. That would give the team a sponsorship budget of $3.505 million.

Court documents filed by Union Bank & Trust show that BK Racing collected $1.5 million in sponsorship in 2016 and $1.05 million in sponsorship in 2015.

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