Ray Black Jr.

Kyle Busch wins pole for Cup playoff opener at Chicagoland

1 Comment

Kyle Busch won the pole for the Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday, which is the opening race of the playoffs.

It is the seventh pole of the season for Busch, who claimed the spot with a speed of 187.963 mph.

The starting top five for the race is Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.

“It’s because I’m in a Toyota, that’s why, right?” Busch joked with NBCSN, referring to the Twitter exchange between him and Keselowski earlier in the day. “Just great adjustments right there. We were kind of a little bit free those first couple of runs and just trying to get the balance right and obviously the last round the balance was way better. Really able to attack and get the most out of it and that’s all she had.”

Also starting in the top 10 will be Kyle Larson (sixth), Chase Elliott (eighth), Austin Dillon (ninth) and Matt Kenseth (10th).

Ryan Blaney did not make a lap in the final round after he ran out of gas and will start 12th.

Five other playoff drivers made it to the second round.

Jimmie Johnson (14th), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (15th), Ryan Newman (16th), Kurt Busch (17th)  and Jamie McMurray (19th).

“A step in the right direction,” Johnson told NBCSN. “Starting in the seventh row is a lot better than where we’ve started here recently. If we can move forward like we typically do in the race, get in the top 10, top five, it can completely change the outcome of the race and get momentum going the right way for us. We’re digging deep. I think we’ve improved some. … It’s time for this 48 to get hot.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 20th in his last Chicagoland start.

Erik Jones did not make a lap in the second round after he spun exiting Turn 4 with about six minutes left in the round.

Kasey Kahne was the only playoff driver who failed to advance out of the first round. He will start 25th in the postseason opener.

“We were missing rear grip, we didn’t have any,” Kahne told NBCSN. “We were terrible in practice. We were terrible in qualifying. Tomorrow’s a new day and we’ll do everything we can to be much better. But today was awful.”

Ray Black Jr. qualified 39th for his Cup Series debut. He is driving the No. 51 for Rick Ware.

Click here for qualifying results.

Yes, there is NASCAR racing Sunday: Xfinity entry list for Road America

Getty Images
1 Comment

Who says there’s no NASCAR racing this weekend?

Sure, the NASCAR Cup and Camping World Truck Series will enjoy the weekend off, but not the Xfinity Series.

Drivers in that series will be competing Sunday at what has become one of the most challenging and popular road courses on the Xfinity schedule: the twisting 4.048-mile road course at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

A total of 42 cars are listed on the preliminary entry list released Monday.

Only 40 cars will qualify to race in Sunday’s Johnsonville 180 (3 p.m. ET on NBC). This will be the third road course the series has raced on in the last four races.

Ryan Ellis announced Tuesday he will drive the No. 07 Chevrolet for SS Greenlight Racing, which is normally driven by Ray Black Jr. It will be Ellis’ first NASCAR start of the year.

In 2016, Ellis made four Cup starts, 16 Xfinity starts and four Truck Series starts.

One driver position and one crew chief position remain to be filled.

  • Team JD Motorsports has not named a driver for the No. 15 Chevrolet.
  • And the No. 72 Chevrolet, driven by John Jackson and owned by James Carter, has yet to name a crew chief for the race.

This will be the eighth Xfinity race at Road America since the series first visited there in 2010.

The winners since then have been Carl Edwards (2010), Reed Sorenson (2011), Nelson Piquet Jr. (2012), A.J. Allmendinger (2013), Brendan Gaughan (2014), Paul Menard (2015) and Michael McDowell last year.

Click here for the preliminary entry list for Sunday’s Xfinity race at Road America.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

 

Kyle Busch wins Xfinity race at Kentucky

1 Comment

Kyle Busch used pit strategy to take the lead and pulled away from the field to score his record-extending 88th career Xfinity race Saturday afternoon at Kentucky Speedway.

The 200-lap race was postponed a day by rain.

Busch started on the pole before earning his second win of the season.

Ryan Blaney finished second. Erik Jones placed third. He was followed by Kevin Harvick and Ty Dillon. William Byron was the top-finishing series regular, placing seventh.

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points report 

MORE: Four cars collected in crash at start

Blaney’s chances of winning ended on a pit stop on Lap 168. He was second when he pitted but penalized for having his right front tire on the outside half of the pit box. He restarted 21st.

STAGES: Erik Jones won Stage 1. Ryan Blaney won Stage 2

HOW DID KYLE BUSCH WIN: Pit strategy. The key was a pit stop on Lap 132. Busch’s team changed four tires while many took two tires. That allowed Busch to stay out and take the lead on Lap 168 after a spin by Ray Black Jr. Busch pulled away, taking advantage of track position.

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ryan Blaney left disappointed after a pit road penalty dropped him to 21st with less than 35 laps left, but he rallied to finish second — his sixth top-two finish of the year. … Ty Dillon’s fifth-place finish was his first top-five result of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Richard Childress Racing. Brandon Jones was eliminated on the crash at the start and finished 40th. Brendan Gaughan, who was involved in a crash at the start, crashed a few laps later after a tire rub sent him into the wall. He finished 39th. Paul Menard spun while running on the high side in the corner and crashed. Menard placed 34th.

NOTABLE: William Byron was the top-finishing Xfinity regular for the fourth consecutive race. He placed seventh.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It is a disappointing day of not getting the win with what I thought was the fastest car,’’ runner-up Ryan Blaney said.

WHAT’S NEXT: Overton’s 200, 4 p.m. ET July 15 on NBCSN, New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

William Byron, 19, becomes youngest winner at Daytona; wins 2nd straight Xfinity race

1 Comment

William Byron earned his second consecutive NASCAR Xfinity Series race, winning the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

Driving the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, Byron won under caution, needing four laps past the scheduled 100. The final caution was due to a five-car wreck that occurred behind Byron as he passed the overtime line.

At 19, Byron becomes the youngest winner at Daytona. He also won last week at Iowa Speedway and finished second a week before that at Michigan.

“We’re extremely blessed to be here and just a lot of hard work from all these guys to get here,” Byron told NBCSN in victory lane. “As a team, we’re getting more and more confident. Coming into this week (after the win at Iowa), I could tell everyone was confident.

“I never thought I’d win one of these. It’s so hard to win it.”

MORE: Xfinity race results from Daytona

MORE: Elliott Sadler remains No. 1 in the Xfinity standings after Daytona race

Byron’s JR Motorsports teammate, Elliott Sadler, finished second, followed by Dakoda Armstrong, Jeb Burton and David Starr.

“Really happy for William, but man, I didn’t want to see that (last) caution come out,” Sadler said.

With eight laps left in regulation, Brennan Poole got loose, abruptly cut to his left near the front of the pack and collected Ty Dillon.

The race resumed with four laps to go. Joey Logano was in the lead with three laps left, got shuffled back and almost wrecked, but regained control even though he dropped back to 16th.

Then, with just over a lap to go, the first multi-car wreck occurred on the backstretch, bringing out a red flag and sending the event into overtime.

The race originally started Friday night, but was red-flagged after 11 laps due to rain.

It resumed Saturday shortly after Noon ET following a red flag delay of 16 hours, 15 minutes, 51 seconds.

Then, after running an additional 26 laps, the race was stopped again for rain for two hours, 29 minutes and 37 seconds.

STAGES: Blake Koch won Stage 1, while Elliott Sadler won Stage 2.

HOW BYRON WON: The JR Motorsports driver led 29 laps. When the final restart began with four laps to go, he kept pushing toward the front and got to the point with two laps left, holding on for his second straight Xfinity Series win.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Elliott Sadler had a strong run throughout the race and appeared poised to win his first race of the season. But his JRM teammate was just a bit stronger, leaving Sadler to finish runner-up. Even so, Sadler remains No. 1 in the Xfinity standings.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Wrecks are synonymous with Daytona, and several drivers saw their days end early, including Daniel Suarez, Blake Koch, Ryan Sieg, Casey Mears, Michael Annett, Ryan Reed and Daniel Hemric.

NOTABLE: Dakoda Armstrong (third), Jeb Burton (fourth) and David Starr (fifth) each earned career-best Xfinity finishes.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We’ve had a great last three weeks. I just can’t believe this. .. I never thought I’d win one of these.” – Race winner William Byron

WHAT’S NEXT: Alsco 300, Friday July 7, 8 p.m. ET, Kentucky Speedway.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Two multi-car wrecks involving 30 cars bring out red flags early in Xfinity race at Daytona

Getty Images
3 Comments

Saturday’s Xfinity Series season-opening Powershares QQQ 300 has been red-flagged twice in less than the first 30 laps.

The first red flag was the result of a major wreck that involved 18 cars. The pack was on Lap 23 of the scheduled 120-lap event when several drivers made contact, setting off a chain reaction crash.

Among those involved in the wreck were Cole Custer, Garrett Smithley, Austin Dillon, Michael Annett, Ray Black Jr., Jeff Green, William Byron, Blake Koch, J.J. Yeley, Ryan Reed, Brad Keselowski, Spencer Gallagher, Ryan Sieg, Tyler Reddick, Anthony Kumpen, Benny Gordon, Scott Lagasse Jr., Jeremy Clements, Clint King and Aric Almirola.

The first red flag lasted 18 minutes, 20 seconds.

The race went back to green flag racing on Lap 28 when yet another multi-car wreck – this time 12 cars – took place one lap later on the back straightaway, bringing out the red flag once again.

The second wreck occurred one lap before the scheduled end of the first of two stages in the race.

Drivers involved in the second wreck included Darrell Wallace Jr., Daniel Suarez, Brandon Jones, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, Erik Jones, Chris Cockrum, Harrison Rhodes, Brandon Hightower, Matt Tifft, Blake Koch and Ryan Reed.

The second red flag lasted 27 minutes, 51 seconds.

When the racing resumed following the second wreck, of the 40 cars that began the race, only Elliott Sadler, Ty Dillon, Ross Chastain, Dakoda Armstrong, Brennan Poole, Joey Gase, Brendan Gaughan, Kasey Kahne, Mario Gosselin and David Starr had not been involved in wrecks.

Follow @JerryBonkowski