Kurt Busch overtakes Kasey Kahne to lead Sprint Cup Happy Hour at Bristol

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Kurt Busch kept Kasey Kahne from sweeping all three practice sessions in preparation for Sunday’s Food City 500 In Support of Steve Byrnes at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kahne won Friday’s session as well as the first of two Sprint Cup practices Saturday morning.

But Busch, who ran 100 laps, rallied to take the top spot in the Happy Hour final practice with a very stout run of 127.554 mph, well over one mph more than Kahne, who was second-fastest (126.537 mph).

David Ragan was third-fastest (126.503), followed by Jeff Gordon (126.420) and Brad Keselowski (126.378).

The top 10 drivers all exceeded 126 mph.

Here’s how Saturday’s final practice session played out:

1 Kurt Busch … 127.554 mph … 100 laps

2 Kasey Kahne … 126.537 … 71 laps

3 David Ragan … 126.503 … 102 laps

4 Jeff Gordon … 126.420 … 76 laps

5 Brad Keselowski … 126.378 … 74 laps

6 Joey Logano … 126.287 … 88 laps

7 Kevin Harvick … 126.245 … 71 laps

8 Denny Hamlin … 126.220 … 66 laps

9 Jimmie Johnson … 126.204 … 104 laps

10 Carl Edwards … 126.129 … 69 laps

11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. … 125.988 … 109 laps

12 Jamie McMurray … 125.897 … 105 laps

13 Kyle Larson … 125.823 … 76 laps

14 Ryan Newman … 125.346 … 77 laps

15 Brett Moffitt … 125.256 … 82 laps

16 Tony Stewart … 125.256 … 83 laps

17 Clint Bowyer … 125.207 … 86 laps

18 Sam Hornish Jr. … 125.158 … 65 laps

19 Matt Kenseth … 125.085 … 66 laps

20 Austin Dillon … 124.995 … 76 laps

21 Justin Allgaier … 124.987 … 101 laps

22 Paul Menard … 124.963 … 64 laps

23 Casey Mears … 124.922 … 71 laps

24 Aric Almirola … 124.889 … 73 laps

25 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. … 124.759 … 45 laps

26 Martin Truex Jr. … 124.565 … 49 laps

27 Matt DiBenedetto … 124.525 … 66 laps

28 AJ Allmendinger … 124.525 … 53 laps

29 Michael Annett … 124.363 … 126 laps

30 Jeb Burton … 124.283 … 67 laps

31 Alex Bowman … 124.242 … 57 laps

32 Trevor Bayne … 124.146 … 57 laps

33 Chris Buescher … 124.130 … 84 laps

34 Landon Cassill … 124.114 … 57 laps

35 Cole Whitt …. 124.090 … 37 laps

36 Greg Biffle … 124.090 … 69 laps

37 Danica Patrick … 124.058 … 77 laps

38 David Gilliland … 123.970 … 83 laps

39 Josh Wise … 123.937 … 81 laps

40 Michael McDowell … 123.174 … 77 laps

41 Mike Bliss … 123.063 … 52 laps

42 JJ Yeley … 122.733 … 48 laps

43 Alex Kennedy … 121.305 … 87 laps
Best Consecutive 10 Lap Average

1 Kevin Harvick … 125.934 mph

2 Kasey Kahne … 125.396

3 Joey Logano … 125.273

4 David Ragan … 125.224

5 Brad Keselowski … 125.161

6 Kurt Busch … 125.107

7  Kyle Larson … 124.749

8 Matt Kenseth … 124.631

9 Carl Edwards … 124.603

10 Jimmie Johnson … 124.482

11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. … 124.477

12 Clint Bowyer … 124.362

13 Tony Stewart … 124.338

14 AJ Allmendinger … 124.208

15 Ryan Newman … 124.131

16 Justin Allgaier … 124.061

17 Austin Dillon … 124.056

18 Sam Hornish Jr. … 124.014

19 Jamie McMurray … 123.911

20 Jeff Gordon … 123.890

21 Denny Hamlin … 123.836

22 Martin Truex Jr. … 123.760

23 Brett Moffitt 123.743

24 Alex Bowman … 123.719

25 Aric Almirola … 123.713

26 Matt DiBenedetto … 123.580

27 David Gilliland … 123.540

28 Michael Annett … 123.165

29 Jeb Burton … 123.049

30 Danica Patrick … 123.048

31  Trevor Bayne 122.923

32 Greg Biffle … 122.733

33 Landon Cassill … 122.639

34 Chris Buescher … 122.614

35 Michael McDowell … 122.470

36 Paul Menard … 122.460

37 Josh Wise … 122.350

38 Mike Bliss … 122.133

39 Casey Mears … 121.780

40 JJ Yeley … 121.379

41 Alex Kennedy … 120.270

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Tony Stewart: Clint Bowyer ‘has got to take his helmet off’ for a fight

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tony Stewart was in a “virtual black hole of cell signal” in Waverly, Ohio, last Saturday when Clint Bowyer ran to Ryan Newman‘s car after the All-Star Race and threw punches in his driver-side window.

Stewart, who was competing in and won a sprint car race at Atomic Speedway, was ignorant of this fact until he was miles away from the track and had a better cell signal.

“I got five miles down the road and all of a sudden I’m getting all these texts,” Stewart said Wednesday after being elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “I’m going, ‘How do all these people know we won that fast?’ It wasn’t about us, it was about Clint’s deal. Finally got another five miles down the road, had a real signal. Somebody goes ‘Look at Twitter.”

That’s when the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing saw the video of Bowyer, still wearing his helmet, furiously throwing both fists at Newman, who still sat in his car.

Bowyer was angry with Newman after contact between them on the cool-down lap after the race had sent Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford nose-first into the wall.

“That kid has got to take his helmet off if he’s going to fight,” Stewart said. “Kids leave their helmets on to fight. Men take their helmets off and they fight. If you’re going to fight, fight.”

While still on the highway Saturday night, Stewart let Bowyer know his thoughts on his fighting form.

“Listen, take your helmet off if you’re going to get into a fight,” Stewart texted Bowyer.

Bowyer responded by saying “I didn’t have time.”

Stewart, who has a long history of driver altercations and arguments, then offered his driver more encouraging wisdom.

“Don’t lose that passion to fight for what you believe in,” Stewart said.

Social media salutes NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020

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Social media quickly rose to congratulate the five men named Wednesday to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020: Tony Stewart, Buddy Baker, Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte and Waddell Wilson.

Here are some of the more noteworthy posts from Twitter:

 

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Nate Ryan’s ballot for the 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame class

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Nate Ryan cast a ballot Wednesday for the NASCAR Hall of Fame as NBC Sports’ digital representative.

It’s the 11th consecutive year of voting for Ryan, who is one of 59 members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting panel (including one online vote determined by fans; two voters, Ricky Rudd and Waddell Wilson, recused themselves because they were on the ballot).

A maximum of five votes may be cast from a list of 20 nominees (this was the first year in which Ryan voted for fewer than five)

His ballot for the 11th class (followed by his ballot for each of the preceding 10 years, which included six at USA TODAY Sports):

  1. Tony Stewart: Three Cup championships, 49 victories and two Brickyard 400s (plus an IndyCar championship) are a testament to his boundless talent, but “Smoke” also has left a mark as an alluring and highly quotable superstar and a respected team owner. His irascible personality and tenacious grit provided some of NASCAR’s best moments of the past two decades.
  2. Buddy Baker: The winner of the 1980 Daytona 500 and 1970 Southern 500 was one of NASCAR’s home run hitters, counting several major wins among his 19 career victories on the premier circuit. One of NASCAR’s greatest ambassadors Baker also became a beloved broadcaster on TV and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
  3. Waddell Wilson: Perhaps the greatest across-the-board garage resume on this year’s ballot with three championships and 109 victories as an engine builder and 19 wins (including three Daytona 500s) as a crew chief.
  4. Joe Gibbs: Nine NASCAR titles (four in Cup; five in Xfinity) and his four-car team remains the class of the premier circuit. Deserves to be elected in the wake of contemporaries Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress, Jack Roush and Roger Penske being elected the last few years.

2020 Landmark Award: Ralph Seagraves

Ryan’s previous NASCAR Hall of Fame ballots:

2010: Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, David Pearson, Bill France Jr.

2011: Pearson, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Lee Petty

2012: Waltrip, Yarborough, Dale Inman, Raymond Parks, Curtis Turner

2013: Fireball Roberts, Turner, Fred Lorenzen, Herb Thomas, Tim Flock

2014: Roberts, Turner, Lorenzen, Flock, Joe Weatherly

2015: Lorenzen, Turner, Weatherly, O. Bruton Smith, Rick Hendrick

2016: Turner, Smith, Hendrick, Ray Evernham, Bobby Isaac

2017: Hendrick, Evernham, Benny Parsons, Parks, Red Byron

2018: Evernham, Byron, Robert Yates, Alan Kulwicki, Buddy Baker

2019: Jeff Gordon, Kulwicki, Baker, Davey Allison, Jack Roush

2020: Tony Stewart, Baker, Waddell Wilson, Joe Gibbs

LANDMARK

2015: Raymond Parks

2016: Raymond Parks

2017: Raymond Parks

2018: Ralph Seagraves

2019: Jim Hunter

Tony Stewart leads 2020 Hall of Fame Class

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tony Stewart, the three-time Cup champion who took NASCAR by storm after transitioning from open-wheel racing, was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 on Wednesday.

Stewart’s election comes two days after his 48th birthday.

Joining Stewart in the Class of 2020 are: Joe Gibbs, Waddell Wilson, Buddy Baker and Bobby Labonte.

The class, the eleventh elected to the Hall of Fame, will be inducted on Jan. 31, 2020.

Edsel Ford won the Landmark Award.

Stewart was selected on 88% of the 57 ballots cast. Gibbs and Wilson were selected on 72%, Baker was on 70% and Labonte was on 67%.

The next three top vote-getters were Mike Stefanik, Ray Fox and Hershel McGriff.

Results for the NASCAR.com Fan Vote, in alphabetical order, were Baker, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Labonte and Stewart.

MORE: Nate Ryan reveals his Hall of Fame ballot.

“It’s very humbling, to be honest,” Stewart said on NASCAR America presents MotorMouths. “There are so many great people in this sport. … to be part of it and have all the great names that are in and the people that were going to be in in the future we’re going to be with, it’s an unbelievable feeling. But it is extremely humbling.

“A lot of it is really mixed emotions because I’m still in race car driver mode and car owner mode. I’m not even thinking about hall of fames. To be inducted earlier this year into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and now going into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, it’s just a very humbling experience.”

When asked what he would say to voters who didn’t select him, Stewart gave a typical Stewart answer.

“I don’t know but when I find out, I’m going to throw eggs at their front door tonight,” Stewart joked.

A native of Columbus, Indiana, Stewart’s election comes in his first year on the ballot. He retired from NASCAR competition at the end of 2016 with 49 Cup Series wins and three titles as a driver (2002, ’05 and ’11).

In 2014 he earned a fourth title in his role as co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing.

After being crowned the 1997 Indy Racing League champion, Stewart split time in 1998 between the IRL and the Xfinity Series, competing for Joe Gibbs Racing. He moved up to Cup in 1999 and claimed the Rookie of the Year title after earning three wins. He was the first rookie to win a race since Davey Allison in 1987.

Stewart won two Brickyard 400s, four July Daytona races and eight road course races, including his final Cup win in June 2016 at Sonoma Raceway.

Stewart is one of the most prolific Cup drivers to never win the Daytona 500, joining fellow Hall of Famer Mark Martin in that category.

Nicknamed “Smoke,” Stewart is also one of four drivers to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day. He did it twice, in 1999 and 2001.

Stewart’s election also comes 27 years after he attended his first NASCAR race, the 1992 Cup finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway, as a 21-year-old wearing a $2,000 suit and trying to “impress people.”

“I thought like I was wasting my time being down there,” Stewart said in 2016. “I thought there was no way I was going to get an opportunity to come do this.”

Stewart will be joined in the Hall of Fame by Gibbs. Stewart raced for Gibbs in Cup from 1999-2009, and Labonte, his teammate at JGR until 2005.

“I couldn’t think of a better day than my boss, Joe Gibbs, or my teammate, Bobby Labonte, that was the one responsible to get me in to Joe Gibbs Racing to go in with those guys,” Stewart said on MotorMouths. “And Waddell Wilson, who was part of Ranier-Walsh Racing, who I drove for in ’96 before I drove for Joe. It really is a cool day, a cool day to be in with these guys.”

Gibbs, a NFL Hall of Fame head coach, entered NASCAR as an owner in 1992. Since then he has accumulated four Cup titles, five Xfinity titles and 157 wins. He was elected in his third year on the ballot.

Labonte was also elected in his third year on the ballot. The younger brother of Hall of Famer Terry Labonte, Bobby is a Cup (2000) and Xfinity champion (1991). He earned 21 Cup wins, including two Brickyard 400s and one Southern 500. His first win came in the 1995 Coca-Cola 600.

Wilson was three-time championship engine builder. He crafted the engines that won titles in 1968, ’69 and ’73. He also won the Daytona 500 three times as a crew chief winning with Baker in 1980 and Cale Yarborough in 1983-84.

Baker, known as the “Gentle Giant,” was elected in his sixth year on the ballot. Baker made 699 starts from 1959-92 and claimed 19 Cup wins, including one Southern 500 and two Coke 600s. After retiring he transitioned into TV, where he worked for TNN and CBS and later SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Baker died in 2015 at the age of 74 after a battle with cancer.