Red-hot Kevin Harvick burns up Phoenix International Raceway with first career pole there


The red-hot Happy Harvick Freaky Fast Express rolls on.

Kevin Harvick, who has won the last three races and four of the last five at Phoenix International Raceway, continued his dominance there Friday by capturing the pole position for Sunday’s 500 Sprint Cup race.

Harvick, who has six career wins at PIR, earned his first career pole at the one-mile flat track with a speed of 140.751 mph.

Over his last six Sprint Cup starts, including the last three races of 2014, the defending Sprint Cup champion has three wins and three runner-up finishes. He’s going for a second straight win Sunday, having won last Sunday at Las Vegas.

“Everything can always be better, but I think everyone’s doing a great job and continuing to get better as we go from week to week, and never sitting on what you did last week, and always communicating on the little things and what you can do better,” Harvick said. “I’m just fortunate to be a part of this team and what they do.”

Joey Logano was second fastest in Friday’s qualifying (140.543), followed by Jamie McMurray (140.422), Matt Kenseth (140.072) and Ryan Newman (139.833).

“That’s three straight front row starts, so we’re proud of that,” Logano said. “We still have only one pole, which we’re not proud of. We need to find more speed there, but obviously it’s a good starting spot. … We’re going to race hard and try to win this thing.”

Kurt Busch, who is making his first start of the season after being suspended by NASCAR for the first three races, qualified eighth.

“It was fun to get back out there and feel the car in the three sessions out there,” Busch said. “Overall, it was just a pleasant day, overwhelming support from the team and the garage area. ‘Glad you’re back’ is what I hear a lot of, and I’m thankful to be back and to have this competitive car that I can put in the top 10 on the first day out.”

Also of note, the No. 83 car of Matt DiBenedetto was the only car to fail pre-qualifying inspection more than two times.

As a result, DiBenedetto will be penalized 15 minutes of practice time, which will be assessed during the first practice session next week at Auto Club Speedway. The penalty is the result of new rules set forth by NASCAR this week.

Qualifying results for the 500:

1. Kevin Harvick … 140.751 mph
2. Joey Logano … 140.543
3. Jamie McMurray … 140.422
4. Matt Kenseth … 140.072
5. Ryan Newman … 139.833
6. Brad Keselowski … 139.817
7. Carl Edwards … 139.779
8. Kurt Busch … 139.665
9. Kasey Kahne … 139.643
10. Jeff Gordon … 139.535
11. Austin Dillon … 138.969
12. Kyle Larson … 138.755
13. David Ragan … 139.157
14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. … 139.141
15. Martin Truex Jr. … 138.884
16. Dale Earnhardt Jr. … 138.814
17. Tony Stewart … 138.718
18. Brian Vickers … 138.654
19. Greg Biffle … 138.515
20. Jimmie Johnson … 138.483
21. Paul Menard … 138.478
22. AJ Allmendinger … 138.430
23. Danica Patrick … 138.297
24. Casey Mears … 137.862
25. Denny Hamlin … 137.562
26. Alex Bowman … 137.363
27. Sam Hornish Jr. … 137.211
28. Justin Allgaier … 136.674
29. David Gilliland … 136.586
30. Clint Bowyer … 136.550
31. Michael Annett … 136.467
32. Aric Almirola … 136.405
33. Landon Cassill … 136.266
34. Josh Wise … 136.245
35. Matt DiBenedetto … 135.834
36. Trevor Bayne … 135.675
37. Mike Bliss … Owner Points
38. Brett Moffitt … Owner Points
39. Cole Whitt … Owner Points
40. JJ Yeley … Owner Points
41. Jeb Burton … Owner Points
42. Brendan Gaughan … Owner Points
43. Alex Kennedy … Owner Points

Did not qualify: Tanner Berryhill and Travis Kvapil.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Nashville Fair Board votes to terminate contract with operator of Fairgrounds Speedway

Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway
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The Nashville Metro Fair Board voted Tuesday to terminate its contract with the operator of Fairgrounds Speedway, a track being eyed for a possible NASCAR race, according to The Tennessean.

Last December, Formosa Productions and Bristol Motor Speedway announced “an agreement to explore bringing major NASCAR racing events” back to the .596-mile track. The earliest Nashville could potentially be added to the schedule is 2021, though the schedule for that season is expected to be revealed in April.

Bristol Motor Speedway released a statement Tuesday night saying it is still interested in pursuing future involvement with the Fairgrounds Speedway.

“We appreciate all that Tony and Claire Formosa have done to sustain local racing in Nashville over the years,” said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager for Bristol Motor Speedway. “Today’s news does not change our interest or belief that Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway can be returned to prominence to help create a true renovation of the Fairgrounds. There is huge local, regional and national interest in the future of the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. As Mayor (John) Cooper, the Fair Board and Council determine what’s next for the historic race track, we are ready to engage with them on the vision that we believe can deliver a bright future for the Fairgrounds.”

The vote to terminate the contract with Formosa Productions, operated by Tony and Claire Formosa, is in response to a claimed breach of contract, which was first raised by the city in April and includes unpaid concessions commissions and rent payments.

A fairgrounds spokesperson told The Tennessean that the Formosas would owe the city nearly $180,000 by the end of the year. The Tennessean reports the Formosas have 90 days to vacate the premises.

According to The Tennessean, Nashville Fairgrounds Director Laura Womack said she and another board member met Oct. 14 with the Formosas and asked that they provide specific contract changes and documents regarding attendance and revenue records from this year’s racing season.

A meeting where those documents were due to be delivered was rescheduled to Nov. 6 before it was canceled by the Formosas.

“This shows little to no faith that we will be paid by the end of the year,” said Fair Board member Caleb Hemmer, according to The Tennessean. “Which begs the issue that we need to start looking to the future and what we need to do as a board to ensure there’s racing next year if the (Formosas) can’t fulfill their obligations as put forth by (the contract).”

Jim Roberts, an attorney representing the Formosas, attended the meeting according to The Tennessean. Roberts believed the meeting, which was delayed two hours due to winter weather, was in violation of the opens meeting act due to it not being properly noticed.

The Formosas have operated the track since 2010 and entered into a five-year agreement in 2017 after the city chose its bid over one from Bristol Motor Speedway

The deal between Formosa Productions and Bristol Motor Speedway, which would need to be approved by the Fair Board, would focus “on a long-range plan of significant track improvements and high-profile race events that could include NASCAR events upon the facility meeting standards.”

In May, Bristol officials revealed a $60 million proposal to renovate the track.

The plan would increase seating capacity of the .596-mile short track from its current size of 15,000 to 30,000, as well as include an expanded concourse, premium seating, pedestrian tunnels and sound barriers.


Penalty report from ISM Raceway

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NASCAR has fined five crew chiefs for unsecured lug nuts on their cars after last weekend’s playoff races at ISM Raceway.

Each fine was for having a single unsecured lug nut.

In the Cup Series:

Paul Wolfe, crew chief on Brad Keselowski‘s No. 2 Ford, and Mike Hillman Sr., crew chief on J.J. Yeley‘s No. 53 Chevrolet, were each fined $10,000.

In the Xfinity Series:

Taylor Moyer, crew chief on Zane Smith‘s No. 8 Chevrolet, was fined $5,000.

In the Truck Series:

Joe Shear, Jr., crew chief on Johnny Suater’s No. 13 Chevrolet, and Trip Bruce lll, crew chief on race winner Stewart Friesen‘s No. 52 Chevrolet, were fined $2,500.

Preliminary entry lists for Championship Weekend in Miami

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NASCAR’s final race weekend of the year has arrived with the championship races for all three of its national series at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for all three races.

Cup – Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC)

A full field of 40 cars are entered into the race.

Drew Herring is entered in Gaunt Brothers Racing’s No. 96 Toyota for his Cup debut.

John Hunter Nemechek will make his third start in Front Row Motorsports’ No. 36 Ford in relief of Matt Tifft.

Joe Nemechek is entered in Premium Motorsports’ No. 15 Chevrolet.

Joey Logano won this race last year over Martin Truex Jr. to claim his first Cup title.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity – Ford EcoBoost 300 (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

There are 39 cars entered. One car will not qualify for the race.

Jeb Burton is entered in JR Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet.

Harrison Burton is entered in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota.

Tyler Reddick won this race last year over Cole Custer to claim the championship.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Ford EcoBoost 200 (8 p.m. ET Friday on FS1)

There are 37 trucks entered. Five trucks will not qualify for the event.

K&N Pro Series West champion Derek Kraus is entered in Bill McAnally Racing’s No. 19 Toyota for his fifth start of the season.

Angela Ruch is entered in Niece Motorsports’ No. 44 Chevrolet.

Christian Eckes is entered in Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 51 Toyota.

NBC Sports analyst Parker Kligerman is entered in Henderson Motorsports’ No. 75 Chevrolet.

No drivers are listed for NEMCO Motorsports’ No. 87 Chevrolet and Reaume Brothers Racing’s No. 33 and No. 34 Toyotas.

Brett Moffitt won this race last year to claim the championship.

Click here for the entry list.

JJL Motorsports announces new team owner

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JJL Motorsports, Jesse Little‘s Gander Outdoors Truck Series team, announced Tuesday it has sold its assets to Logan Puckett, president of Diversified Utility Group, a turnkey general contractor specializing in fiber optic telecommunications construction.

The company will sponsor Little in Friday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (8 p.m. ET on FS1).

Puckett will re-brand the team as Diversified Motorsports Enterprises in 2020 with plans to compete part-time with Little as its primary driver.

Little, 22, has made eight starts in the Truck Series this year in his No. 97 Ford.

More: Jesse Little to compete full-time for JD Motorsports in 2020

The team announced in early September that its assets were up for sale.

“I’m honored to represent Diversified Utility Group this weekend at Homestead,” Little said in a press release. “Logan has been so excited about the opportunity to enter the Truck Series as an owner in 2020, but to have his company be a part of our last race under the JJL Motorsports banner as a sponsor is even more awesome.

“Hopefully we can have a good performance for him on Friday night before looking ahead to 2020.”

Said Puckett: “I am really looking forward to taking over an outstanding program that JJL has put together as it provides a great foundation to build on and hopefully grow. I think the growth potential is what excites me the most.

“I am certainly looking forward to the challenge that this provides, and I hope that I can bring some value to the team and ultimately it would be awesome if I can bring value to the sport as a young owner with a fresh outlook.”