Denny Hamlin wins Xfinity Series’ ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway

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Denny Hamlin led all but two laps on his way to winning the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway for his 12th career Xfinity Series win.

Hamlin and his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota won from the pole, the fourth time he’s done so but the first time he’s done it away from Darlington Raceway.

“There’s not much you could complain about,” Hamlin said. “The car was flawless and this reminds me a lot of the night I had in Cup a few years ago where we led every lap but one I think and we had a flat tire with 15 laps to go. So it reminded me of that and we were just thinking about all the scenarios in your head of how you’re going to lose it, but luckily all the cautions fell the way we needed them to and we were able to get a victory.”

With Hamlin’s win, Toyota now has 100 in Xfinity Series since joining the series in 2007.

Hamlin also delivered Joe Gibbs Racing its 100th win in the Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2012.

“It’s such a big weekend for everyone at Toyota and I didn’t know that they had 99 wins,” Hamlin said. “They told me before the race, ‘Hey, if things go well, it’s 100.’ I’m like, ‘Whoa, whoa. Don’t.’ I’m very superstitious when it comes to that kind of stuff. I didn’t know when it was 99 on the Cup side for JGR.”

Joey Logano finished second and was followed by Regan Smith, Erik Jones and Chase Elliott.

Friday’s win was Hamlin’s first in the Xfinity Series since winning at Richmond in 2011.

Logano started and came in second a week after leading every lap on the way to the win at Bristol Motor Speedway

“(Hamlin) was just so fast,” Logano said. “We had nothing for him. We had a second place Discount Tire Ford Mustang and that is right where we finished. We knew he was fast in practice and it transferred right over. I know what it is like to be on the other end of the butt whooping and it isn’t as much fun from this side.”

How Hamlin won: Hamlin started from the pole and only gave up the lead twice, edged by Brian Scott at the line on a mid-race restart, and Elliott Sadler led one lap during green flag pit stops.

Who else had a good day: Regan Smith was the highest finishing Xfinity regular, placing third after starting eighth. After a career best second-place finish last weekend at Bristol, Daniel Suarez followed it by finishing sixth at Richmond. Suarez stayed steady at 10th in the points standings.

Who had a bad day: Chris Buescher, who came into Friday’s race on top of the points standing, finished 20th, three laps down. He is now third, 11 points behind Ty Dillon and three points behind Chase Elliott. … Kevin Harvick’s stretch of 29 Xfinity Series races with a top-10 finish was snapped. Harvick finished in 18th, two laps down after his car experienced technical problems after a Lap 139 restart. His 29-race streak is second to Sam Ard’s stretch of 42 races from 1983-84.

Notables: Hamlin’s win was the 22nd straight at Richmond by a Sprint Cup regular and it was his third Xfinity win at the track. The victory was the seventh for the Toyota Camry in Xfinity competition at Richmond.

Quote of the Day: Joey Logano on winner Denny Hamlin: “He just toyed with me all night long. Now I know what it feels like to be on the other end of it after last weekend.”

What’s next: Winn-Dixie 300 on Saturday, May 2, at Talladega Superspeedway

Unofficial Results for ToyotaCare 250:

1. Denny Hamlin … 250 laps
2. Joey Logano … 250 laps
3. Regan Smith … 250 laps
4. Erik Jones … 250 laps
5. Chase Elliott … 250 laps
6. Daniel Suarez … 250 laps
7. Brian Scott … 250 laps
8. Austin Dillon … 250 laps
9. Ty Dillon … 249 laps
10. Landon Cassill … 249 laps
11. Brendan Gaughan … 249 laps
12. Darrell Wallace Jr. … 249 laps
13. Brennan Poole … 249 laps
14. Jeremy Clements … 249 laps
15. Aric Almirola … 249 laps
16. Elliott Sadler … 249 laps
17. Ross Chastain … 248 laps
18. Kevin Harvick … 248 laps
19. J.J. Yeley … 248 laps
20. Chris Buescher … 247 laps
21. Ryan Reed … 247 laps
22. Harrison Rhodes … 246 laps
23. Mike Bliss … 246 laps
24. Blake Koch … 246 laps
25. Cale Conley… 246 laps
26. Joey Gase … 246 laps
27. Dakoda Armstrong … 246 laps
28. Dylan Lupton … 246 laps
29. David Starr … 245 laps
30. Branadon Gdovic … 245 laps
31. Ryan Sieg … 244 laps
32. Peyton Sellers … 241 laps
33. Jimmy Weller …  240 laps
34. Carlos Contreras … 238 laps
35. Derrike Cope … 234 laps
36. Eric McClure … 205 laps
37. Carl Long … 43 laps
38. Timmy Hill … 31 laps
39. Mike Harmon … 3 laps
40. Jeff Green … 2 laps

Time of Race: 1 Hour, 50 Minutes and 47 Seconds

Average Speed:  101.550 mph

Margin of Victory: 3.719 seconds

Caution Flags: 3 for 24 laps

Lead changes: 4 among 3 drivers

2019 Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award finalists announced

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Comcast has announced the three finalists for this year’s Community Champion of the Year Award, which recognizes the philanthropic efforts of individuals within the NASCAR industry.

Through the award Comcast has donated $600,000 to 15 different NASCAR-affiliated organizations to honor their efforts and help further the impact of their causes.

The three finalists are:

  • Artie Kempner, NASCAR on FOX Coordinating Director and Co-Founder of Autism Delaware
  • David Ragan, Cup Series driver and Ambassador for Shriners Hospitals for Children
  • Mike Tatoian, President and CEO of Dover International Speedway and USO Delaware Chairman

The award winner will be selected by a panel composed of Comcast and NASCAR executives, as well as defending Cup Series champion Joey Logano, who won the award in 2018. Comcast will award $60,000 to the winner’s affiliated charity, and $30,000 to each of the two remaining finalists’ selected charities.

The winner will be announced Nov. 14 at W. South Beach Hotel in Miami in conjunction with the NASCAR Championship Weekend.

Artie Kempner (Wilmington, Delaware) – In 1998, a small group of parents got together in the living room of Marcy and Artie Kempner’s house in Wilmington, Delaware. The Kempner’s had three boys and their middle son, Ethan, had been diagnosed with autism a year earlier. All of the parents at the table had children on the autism spectrum. That gathering was the beginning of Autism Delaware and Artie became the group’s first president. The organization started as a simple support group, but 20+ years later it’s a statewide service agency, fielding more than 1,500 calls from families annually, offering lifespan services, as well as social and recreational program for families in a safe and welcoming environment.

Kempner’s work on the Drive for Autism Celebrity-Am Golf Outing, helped the group raise the necessary money to launch its critically acclaimed adult vocational and employment program known as POW&R, Productive Opportunities for Work & Recreation. Now in its 11th year, POW&R assesses an individual’s strengths and vocational goals, and matches them with community-based employment, volunteer and recreational opportunities. Today, the program serves over 150 adults with autism in paid employment.

David Ragan (Unadilla, Georgia) – Since 2012, Front Row Motorsports driver David Ragan has been dedicated to supporting Shriners Hospital for Children as a part of their ambassador program. Ragan spends much of his off-time visiting hospitals, fundraising, as well as inviting patients to the race track for once-in-a-lifetime experiences at NASCAR events. Ragan’s passion for the hospital goes beyond just the bare-minimum appearance, he makes an effort to remember each patient’s name + story and will continue to stay in touch long after he meets them. Ragan knows the children and families he meets are likely struggling and wants to do what he can to put a smile on their face. His association with the Shriners, as well as being a Shriner himself, has not only brought attention to the hospitals and the great work they are doing, but has increased donations from race fans and team partners. Many people aren’t aware of the great work that the Shriners do, but Ragan has been a strong voice for them for the past 10 years and has changed countless lives because of his great work.

Mike Tatoian (Dover, Delaware) – Mike Tatoian has been a staple of the Delaware and mid-Atlantic charitable communities, particularly with local military organizations at Dover (Del.) Air Force Base, since he began his tenure at the “Monster Mile” in 2007. One of his longest commitments has been with United Service Organizations. Established during World War II, the USO supports U.S. service members wherever they are, including on-base, deployed abroad, passing through an airport or in local communities at more than 200 locations around the world. One-particular duty that distinguishes USO Delaware is it’s the only USO in the world that shares the responsibility of bringing home fallen service members, working alongside other units such as the Air Force Mortuary Affairs, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, the Joint Personal Effects Depot and the Families of the Fallen. For 13 years, Tatoian has assisted USO Delaware with countless programs and currently serves as the Chairman of the Advisory Council for the organization.

NASCAR America’s The MotorSports Hour live at 5 p.m. ET

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This week’s episode of NASCAR America’s The Motorsports Hour airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Krista Voda is joined by Parker Kligerman and AJ Allmendinger as they discuss the major storylines in multiple racing disciplines, including NASCAR.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Clint Bowyer returning to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2020

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Stewart-Haas Racing announced Thursday afternoon that it has extended its deal with Clint Bowyer through the 2020 season.

Bowyer, 40, will drive the No. 14 Ford for a fourth season after joining the team in 2017.

Bowyer joins teammate Aric Almirola in recently renewing deals with SHR.

The news comes after Bowyer made his 500th career Cup start last weekend at Talladega and ahead of the Cup Series playoff race at Kansas Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC), which is Bowyer’s home track.

“I’m proud to be back with Stewart-Haas Racing next year and very happy to announce it the week leading into my home race,” Bowyer said in a press release. “This is a team filled with racers who love to compete, and as a racecar driver, it’s exactly where you want to be. Great equipment, great teammates, and we’re all backed by great people, which starts at the top with Tony and Gene. They know how to build some fast Ford Mustangs and I’m the lucky guy who gets to drive ‘em.”

Said team co-owner Tony Stewart: “Clint Bowyer is a racer to his core who brings passion and energy to our race team. He’s exactly who I wanted to drive my No. 14 car and we’re very happy to have him continue with Stewart-Haas Racing.”

Bowyer enter’s Sunday’s race facing elimination from the playoffs. He is 11th in the standings and 24 points behind the cutoff line to advance.

Through 31 races this year Bowyer has no wins, seven top fives and 15 top-10 finishes.

Xfinity Playoff primer for Kansas Speedway

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Did you miss the Xfinity Series last weekend?

While Cup and Truck Series teams battled it out at Talladega Superspeedway, Xfinity teams were enjoying a much deserved week off after 15 straight weekends of racing.

Now it’s time to go back to work this weekend at Kansas Speedway (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC),as the Round of 8 begins. Texas Motor Speedway and ISM Raceway complete the round.

Here’s how things looks for the eight remaining playoff drivers.

TOP GUNS

The second round begins with the “Big 3” of Christopher Bell, Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick still holding sizable points advantages over the rest of the field.

In the reseeded standings, Bell is 48 points above the cutline and leads Custer (+36 points) and Reddick (+30). Bell and Custer padded their playoff point totals (62 for Bell and 50 for Custer) with their respective first round wins at Richmond and Dover.

Reddick (44 playoff points) will try to rebound from a lackluster first round where he only had one top five (Charlotte Roval) and finishes of 10th and 12th.

Bell earned his first career Xfinity win at Kansas in 2017 but was eliminated in a wreck on the first lap of this race last year.

While Custer was also involved in the Lap 1 crash and finished 26th, he rebounded in the Texas race to earn his first win of the year. Entering this weekend he has finished 10th or better in the last seven races.

“I think we need to go in the same way we have all year and that mentality is that we will have one of the cars to beat when we unload,” Custer said in a press release. “All year we have had speed off the truck and that has shown in practice speeds along with our seven wins. If we keep our heads up at these tracks that haven’t been kind to us in the past, then our luck is sure to turn around at some point and our goal is for that to happen this weekend in Kansas.”

NEEDING A LITTLE MORE

Outside the prolific “Big 3”  – who have won 19 of 29 races so far – the most consistent drivers this season have been Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier and Chase Briscoe.

Cindric (+3 points above cutline) remains the only non-“Big 3” Xfinity regular with more than one win this season. He earned the most points in the Round of 12 with 146.

Allgaier (-3 points from cutline) is winless in his last 37 starts. He earned the second most points in the first round with 145. In this round last year, his best result was fifth at Texas, sandwiched between a 38th at Kansas (Lap 1 wreck) and a 24th at ISM Raceway.

Briscoe (-4 points) enters Kansas with tops 10s in 12 of the last 13 races. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver finished ninth or better in all three first round races.

“We’ve been running pretty well recently and have really shown a lot of speed, so hopefully we are fast right out of the box when we get to Kansas,” Briscoe said in a press release. “We have had two straight poles (Charlotte and Dover) and probably should have had two wins in those races. It’s all about sealing the deal now and capitalizing on the speed that we have shown these last few weeks. I feel like Kansas and Texas are my two best tracks in this round and we’ll look to have a couple great runs, ideally a win, and get ourselves in solid position for the championship round.”

WORK TO DO

The last two spots in the Round of 8 are occupied by JR Motorsports’ Michael Annett and Noah Gragson.

This is the deepest in the playoffs that Annett (-8 points) has reached since returning to the Xfinity Series (two visits). He had two top 10s in the first round and has not finished worse than 15th in the last 13 races.

Outside of Allgaier, Gragson (-12 points) is the only other remaining playoff driver without a win this season.

He had one top five in the first round (fifth at Charlotte Roval) and two seventh-place finishes.

Playoff standings