Denny Hamlin

NASCAR penalizes No. 18 team for loose lug nuts, Busch to have 3rd crew chief in a month

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Kyle Busch will have to get used to another crew chief atop his pit box this weekend at Daytona International Speedway.

NASCAR penalized Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 team Wednesday for having two unsecured lug nuts at the conclusion of Sunday’s race at Sonoma Raceway.

Section 12.5.2.6.3.b of the NASCAR Rule Book lists the minimum penalty for lug nut violations. The penalty for having two unsecured lug nuts is a one-race suspension for the crew chief and a $20,000 fine.

As a result, engineer and interim crew chief Ben Beshore will be suspended for this weekend’s race.

JGR has named another team engineer, Jacob Canter, as interim crew chief for this weekend. Canter served as interim crew chief for JGR’s No. 20 Xfinity team last weekend at Iowa after Chris Gabehart was suspended two races for a splitter violation found in post-race inspection after Denny Hamlin‘s Xfinity win at Michigan.

To complete the two-race Xfinity penalty, yet another JGR engineer, Matt Lucas, will replace Canter atop JGR’s No. 20 Xfinity Series team pit box at Daytona.

With the penalty, Busch will be working with his third different crew chief in the last month. Crew chief Adam Stevens will miss his fourth and final race this weekend for a tire rolling off Busch’s car at Dover. He returns next weekend at Kentucky.

Beshore, meanwhile, had served as Busch’s interim crew chief in Stevens’ absence.

The No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Xfinity Series team was also penalized for loose lug nuts. Crew chief Danny Stockman was fined $5,000 but will not miss any races.

NASCAR America teaming up with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

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Wednesday will mark the beginning of a new relationship between NASCAR America and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Every Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. ET, a NASCAR on NBC personality will appear on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive,” which is hosted by Pete Pistone and Mike Bagley.

Analyst Steve Letarte will be the first guest.

Pistone will also make regular appearances on NASCAR America.

Pistone joined NASCAR America Tuesday night to preview the new relationship and the storylines heading into the second half of the NASCAR season.

The main theme of the discussion was the building frustration for Joe Gibbs Racing, which is winless through 16 races. Though the driver getting the most attention has been Kyle Busch, there’s three other drivers who are looking to win, including Denny Hamlin.

“We had his crew chief Mike Wheeler on the ‘Morning Drive’ last week and the frustration, you can feel it there,” Pistone said. “They also felt a bit optimistic, especially going to Sonoma because he runs so well there, he ran so well and almost won the race last year until Tony Stewart got him on the last lap. … I still think there’s optimism there in the 11 camp, they’re finding the speed they’ve been missing so far in the first half of the year. The next race at Daytona could be the place you see Denny Hamlin bust down the door to victory lane.”

Watch the above video for more from Pete Pistone.

Kevin Harvick wins Cup race at Sonoma, ends 20-race winless streak

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Kevin Harvick led the final 22 laps and managed to save enough fuel to win Sunday’s Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

The top five were Harvick, Clint Bower, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch.

It was Harvick’s first win of the season and ends a 20-race winless streak dating back to last October at Kansas Speedway. It is also Harvick’s first win since Stewart-Haas Racing switched from Chevrolet to Ford.

“It’s been a lot of work, a lot of the guys have put in a lot of hours” Harvick told Fox Sports 1. “It’s paying off. I feel like we’ve got a lot of room to grow.

“For us, it’s been okay. We’ve been competitive, we just haven’t gotten to victory lane. I felt like we’ve had a couple of opportunities to get there but just came up a little bit short. This is worth the wait, to come to Sonoma so many years.”

The 1.99-mile road course was one of four tracks on the Cup circuit Harvick had not won at. The win comes in his 17th start at the track. It came after Harvick placed 25th in Stage 1 and 20th in Stage 2

Harvick, who grew up about 300 miles south of Sonoma in Bakersfield, California, completed a weekend sweep after winning Saturday’s K&N Pro Series race the track.

“I guess we’ll have to do that again because it worked out pretty good,” Harvick said.

Stage 1 winner: Martin Truex Jr.

Stage 2 winner: Jimmie Johnson

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Brad Keselowski successfully used pit strategy to earn his first top five at Sonoma. Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the only other track he does not have a top five … Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished sixth in his final Sonoma start after being involved in two accidents early in the race. It’s his fourth top 10 of the year … Paul Menard finished 11th, his best result since placing ninth at Talladega.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: After winning Stage 1 and leading 25 laps, Martin Truex Jr. left the race with 24 laps to go with an engine problem. He finished 37th in his second DNF of the year. …. Kasey Kahne crashed on the frontstretch on the last lap of the race. He finished 24th. … Danica Patrick salvaged her day by finishing 17th after being in two accidents early in the race, the second a wreck in Turn 4 early in Stage 2 that took out Ricky Stenhouse Jr.AJ Allmendinger finished 35th, six laps down after suffering battery problems mid-race. … Pole-sitter Kyle Larson finished 26th, one lap down. It’s his worst finish of the year outside his DNF in the Coke 600.

NOTABLE: Harvick is now four wins away from having 100 total among all three of NASCAR’s national series … Harvick’s win over Bowyer was the third time Stewart-Haas Racing has finished 1-2 in a Cup race … Alon Day, the first Israeli-born driver to compete in the Cup series, finished 32nd in his series debut.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I had no earthly idea what was going on. I passed so many cars. I don’t even know what strategy won. It was very difficult to know what was going on from inside the car. I would assume that caused a lot of great viewing and entertainment that was fun to watch, but I had no clue what was going on out there.” – Jimmie Johnson after finishing 13th.

WHAT’S NEXT: Coke Zero 400 at Dayton International Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 1 on NBC.

Results from Cup race at Sonoma Raceway

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Kevin Harvick scored his first victory of the 2017 season and his first at Sonoma Raceway, easily winning the Toyota/Save Mart 350.

Harvick’s No. 14 Ford qualified for the playoffs with his 36th career victory in Cup and second on a road course. Harvick also won in 2006 at Watkins Glen International.

Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer finished second, followed by Brad Keselowski Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sixth, the highest-finishing Chevrolet driver. Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. won the first stage for his series-leading 11th stage victory of the season but finished 37thth because of an engine failure.

Jimmie Johnson was victorious in the second stage, the first stage win of his career.

Click here for the results of Sunday’s race at Sonoma.

Clint Bowyer moves into last playoff transfer spot in points standings

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A runner-up finish at Sonoma by Clint Bowyer moved the Stewart-Haas Racing driver into the critical transfer spot for the Cup with 10 races left in the regular season.

Bowyer moved up to 11th in the points standings as teammate Kevin Harvick became the 11th driver to qualify for the playoffs with a win in 2017.

Winless drivers who provisionally are qualified for 16-driver playoffs on points: Kyle Busch (fourth), Chase Elliott (sixth), Jamie McMurray (eighth), Denny Hamlin (ninth) and Bowyer (11th). Joey Logano (10th in points) also is qualified despite having a Richmond win that doesn’t count for playoff eligibility because of a penalty.

Bowyer moved four points ahead of Matt Kenseth for the final spot on points.

Kyle Larson remained the regular-season points leader with a 13-point lead on Martin Truex Jr., who missed an opportunity to regain first in the rankings because of an engine failure. Truex did win his series-leading 11th stage, extending his playoff points total to 21 points, tops in the series.

Click here for the points standings after Sunday’s race at Sonoma Raceway.