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Keep track of Silly Season with this scorecard

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Chris Buescher is the latest driver to make his plans for 2018 known, but many questions remain. Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Danica Patrick are among drivers who have not announced plans for 2018 or have questions about their future.

Here’s a look at where Silly Season stands with the Cup series at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend.

ANNOUNCED RIDES FOR 2018

Erik Jones will drive the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing, replacing Matt Kenseth (announcement made July 11)

Alex Bowman will drive the No. 88 at Hendrick Motorsports, replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. (announcement made July 20)

Brad Keselowski agrees to contract extension to drive the No. 2 car for Team Penske (announcement made July 25

Ryan Blaney moves to Team Penske to drive No. 12 car and signs a multi-year contract extension (announcement made July 26)

Paul Menard moves to Wood Brothers Racing to drive No. 21 car (announcement made July 26)

William Byron will drive the No. 5 at Hendrick Motorsports, replacing Kasey Kahne (announcement made Aug. 9)

Matt DiBenedetto will remain with Go Fas Racing in the team’s No. 32 car (announcement made Aug. 12)

Chris Buescher signs a multi-year contract to remain at JTG Daugherty driving the No. 37 car. (announcement made Aug. 18)

OPEN/POSSIBLY OPEN RIDES

— No. 10: Sponsorship has yet to be announced for next season, and Danica Patrick could be out. Patrick told USA Today on Aug. 5 that there’s “no buyout needed. I don’t have a sponsor. It’s contingent on the sponsor.’’  

— No. 27: Richard Childress Racing states it will announce its plans for a third Cup team at a later date with Paul Menard joining the Wood Brothers for next season.

— No. 41: Stewart-Haas Racing declined to pick up the option on Kurt Busch’s contract for next year on Aug. 1. Even so, the team tweeted that it expected Busch back with sponsor Monster Energy for next year. Busch told reporters Aug. 5 at Watkins Glen that “there are a couple of offers already, so we’ll see how things work out.’’  

— No. 77: With Erik Jones returning to JGR, team owner Barney Visser is looking to fill that seat. The first concern, though, is sponsorship. Visser told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Aug. 9: “We’ve got no sponsorship right now for the 77,” for next season. “So we’ve got to find something. We don’t want to give up that car, but if we don’t get sponsorship, we’ll have to.” Sponsor 5-Hour Energy has an option to return. The company can’t go to any other Cup team with Monster Energy as series sponsor.

AVAILABLE DRIVERS

Matt Kenseth: Out of the No. 20 after this season. Doesn’t have anything for next year at this point. At Bristol, Kenseth was asked about his plans for 2018. He said: “I’ll be honest with you … I’m not worried about (2018) even really one percent anymore to be honest with you. I’m just not concerned about it.’’  

Kurt Busch: With Stewart-Haas Racing declining to pick up his option for next year, Busch is a free agent. Even with Stewart-Haas Racing’s action, there’s still a chance Busch could sign a new deal to remain with the organization.

Kasey Kahne: The 2017 Brickyard 400 winner is available after Hendrick Motorsports announced it had released him from the final year of his contract. Rick Hendrick said Aug. 9 that he’s working to help Kahne land a ride for next season and hinted it could through an alliance with Hendrick Motorsports. 

Danica Patrick: Sponsorship uncertainty leaves her status murky for next year. She’s not looking for a ride in the Xfinity Series. “Cup only,’’ she said.  

Aric Almirola: Hasn’t been announced yet as returning to Richard Petty Motorsports next season. He’s tied closely to sponsor Smithfield, which also is in its final year with the team, but Richard Petty has said he’s confident Smithfield will return.

GMS Racing/Spencer Gallagher: This could be one of the wildcards. This Xfinity team is exploring a move to Cup if it makes financial sense. Some in the garage believe this team will move and could be a two-car team with Spencer Gallagher and a veteran driver. GMS already has an engine deal in the Xfinity Series with Hendrick Motorsports but would need to upgrade that for a Cup effort and possibly add a technical alliance (it has one with JR Motorsports). It also would need to get at least one charter, if not two.

Darrell Wallace Jr.He continues to look for an opportunity after his Xfinity ride with Roush Fenway Racing went away in June because of lack of sponsorship and Aric Almirola returned from injury to the No. 43 in July after Wallace filled in for a few races. Wallace showed well in Almirola’s ride. Key is to find sponsorship. Wallace said Aug. 4 that he’s focused on finding a ride for next year with so few options left for this year.

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NASCAR penalizes winning Truck team from Michigan

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NASCAR suspended crew chief Shane Huffman one race and fined him $5,000 after an issue with the bed cover on Darrell Wallace Jr.‘s winning truck last weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

NASCAR also docked MDM Motorsports 10 owner points for the L1 infraction, and the finish is encumbered. NASCAR stated that vent holes at the bed top must be configured for air intake only. The issue was discovered at the R&D Center.

MDM Motorsports will appeal the penalty, allowing Huffman to work through Wednesday night’s Truck race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

NASCAR also announced Wednesday that crew chief Jeff Hensley had been suspended one race and fined $5,000 because Grant Enfinger‘s eighth-place truck failed post-race front body inspection heights at Michigan. NASCAR also docked Enfinger 10 points and ThorSport Racing 10 owner points for the L1 infraction. Enfinger’s finish is encumbered.

Hensley has been suspended two additional races because the weights on Enfinger’s truck were affixed improperly. NASCAR also suspended truck chief Josh Hankish two races for the same safety issue. That violation was discovered in pre-qualifying inspection.

NASCAR states that Hensley can serve both suspensions at the same time, so he will only miss two races total. By sitting out tonight’s Bristol race, he will fulfill his one-race suspension for the heights infraction and one of the two races he’s suspended for the safety violation. Hensley then will have to miss the Sept. 3 race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. He’ll be able to return for the Sept. 15 race at Chicagoland Speedway.

ThorSport Racing will not appeal the penalties.

Bud Haefele will serve as the crew chief for the next two races for Enfinger’s team. Rich Riley will ser as the truck chief in that same span.

With the penalty, Enfinger is 24 points out of the final playoff spot.

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Results from Saturday’s Truck race at Michigan

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Darrell Wallace Jr. made a late charge and held off the pack Saturday at Michigan International Speedway to score his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory since 2014.

Wallace, making his first series start since 2014, led the final 11 laps to win.

Points leader Christopher Bell finished second. He was followed by Kyle Busch, Ryan Truex and Austin Cindric.

Click here for full results

 

 

Bubba Wallace roars to win in first Truck race since 2014 at Michigan

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Making his first start in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race since 2014, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. didn’t forget how to win.

Wallace held off late charges by Austin Cindric, Christopher Bell and Kyle Busch to win Saturday’s LTI Printing 200 at Michigan International Speedway.

Whether Saturday’s win will bring Wallace a regular ride in any of NASCAR’s three series remains to be seen.

He lost his Xfinity Series ride earlier this year after 12 races due to lack of sponsorship, then filled in for Aric Almirola in four Cup races while Almirola healed from crash injuries, and had not raced since mid-July until Saturday’s event.

MORE: Results from Saturday’s Truck race at Michigan

MORE: Christopher Bell remains first in Truck Series after Michigan

Wallace earned five wins in 44 Truck races in 2013 and 2014 for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Saturday’s win was his second consecutive Truck win, as he won the season finale in 2014.

“It’s been so long since I’ve been in victory lane,” Wallace told Fox Sports 1. “This is a sweet victory, so I’ll take it and cherish it, for sure.”

Wallace is the seventh different driver to compete in the Matthew Miller-owned No. 99 MDM Motorsports Chevrolet this season. He took the lead for the first time in the race with 11 laps to go and held on to take the checkered flag in the 100-lap event.

Wallace had to bounce back from a penalty on Lap 53 when a crewman prematurely jumped off the wall before a pit stop.

Bell finished second. He was followed by Busch, Ryan Truex and Cindric.

“That was a lot of fun,” Bell said. “That’s awesome for Bubba, man. It’s cool to see him come back and win like that.”

STAGE WINNERS: Kyle Busch won both Stage 1 and Stage 2. This marks the fourth time this season that Busch has swept the first two stages in a race. He has nine stage wins this year.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Austin Cindric appeared as if he would win, but when he and Christopher Bell got side-by-side late in the race, Darrell Wallace Jr. went low to pass both and held on for victory.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Both John Hunter Nemechek (finished 29th) and Cody Coughlin (21st) were involved in wrecks that ended their days. … Johnny Sauter also had a rough day, finishing an uncharacteristic 18th.

NOTABLE: NASCAR announced that Grant Enfinger‘s truck failed heights after the race. Enfinger finished eighth.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “At least Bubba doesn’t take a playoff spot away.” – Fifth-place finisher Austin Cindric, who is still hoping to make the Truck playoffs.

WHAT’S NEXT: Teams race Wednesday, August 16, in the UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Wallace was congratulated by a number of fellow drivers and fans on social media after the race:

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John Hunter Nemechek leads final Truck practice at Michigan

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John Hunter Nemechek was the fastest in the final Camping World Truck Series practice Friday at Michigan International Speedway with a lap of 186.795 mph.

He was followed by Johnny Sauter (186.669 mph), Matt Crafton (186.229), Darrell Wallace Jr. (185.835) and Kyle Busch (185.711).

Qualifying will be at 9:30 a.m. ET Saturday. The series races at 1 p.m ET Saturday.