Joey Logano throws blocks at right time, holds on to win Xfinity race at Talladega

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Joey Logano made a picture-perfect move on the final lap, blocking to hold off late surges by Brian Scott, Chris Buescher and Austin Dillon, to win Saturday’s Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway.

“That was intense,” Logano said over his team radio after taking the checkered flag.

It was Logano’s second career Xfinity win at Talladega (also won in 2012), his second victory in NASCAR’s junior league this season and 24th career triumph.

“It’s a combination of the old school draft and cars hooking up and bumping,” Logano said. “It’s so intense out there and your mind is looking at everything in the mirror the whole time. It’s just so cool to get to Victory Lane.”

Brian Scott rallied to finish second, followed by Dillon, JJ Yeley and Joey Gase. Buescher placed sixth,

There were six cautions, and four involved multiple cars.

On Lap 39, defending Xfinity champion Chase Elliott cut a right front tire while leading, and his car slammed into the outside wall. Elliott’s car suffered significant damage and finished 37th.

On Lap 73, a 10-car wreck occurred as several cars tried to reach pit road, bringing out a red flag for cleanup.

Among those involved were Daniel Suarez, Ryan Reed, Ryan Sieg, Kenny Wallace, Gase, Brendan Gaughan and Ty Dillon. Gaughan lost control after the wreck and slammed hard into the pit wall after bouncing off teammate Ty Dillon.

Gaughan’s car struck the pit sign for Aric Almirola’s team when he hit the wall, whipping the sign into the crew. Two crew members were injured. One was treated and released from the infield care center, while the other was sent to a local hospital by ambulance for evaluation and treatment.

UPDATE: Troy Ward, was released from Trinity Medical Center, a team spokesman confirmed Saturday night.

How Logano won: Logano actually made three different moves on the final lap to keep Elliott Sadler at bay, as well as to make a couple of late blocks to hold off the late surge by Buescher and Ty Dillon.

Who else had a good day: Scott was just one position from earning his first career Xfinity Series win after 184 starts. Scott rallied from sixth to second on the last lap. “I wanted it so bad,” Scott told FOX Sports. “These things always seem to kind of snakebite me, so I’ll take it.”

Who had a bad day: Because of wrecks, several drivers saw what appeared to be promising days end prematurely. Among those: Brendan Gaughan (finished 39th), Chase Elliott (37th), Kasey Kahne (33rd), Daniel Suarez (31st) and Erik Jones (30th).

Notables: Also having a good day was JJ Yeley, who finished fourth, and Joey Gase, who recorded a career-best fifth-place finish. … Aric Almirola also had a strong day, consistently in the top 10 before finishing 10th.

Quote of the day: “I don’t know if they don’t pay attention or don’t realize it, but when you’re pitting and start sliding up, get the hell out of the way and get down. Talladega’s easy to get down on to pit road, just get out of the way. People don’t get out of the way or try to come from the outside and chaos happens. … It just pisses me off, it’s not that tough to get onto pit road here, and for some reason, guys can’t figure it out.” – Brendan Gaughan, who got caught up in a multi-car wreck on Lap 73.

Standings: Ty Dillon remains in first in the Xfinity Series point standings, Chris Buescher (nine points out of the lead) gained one place to once again take over second place, Chase Elliott (-37) dropped one position to third place, Darrell Wallace Jr. (-37) and Regan Smith (-43) remained unchanged in fourth and fifth place respectively, Brian Scott (-44) gained three spots up to sixth, Elliott Sadler (-48) and Ryan Reed (-75) remained in seventh and eighth respectively, Daniel Suarez (-760 moved up one spot to ninth, and Brendan Gaughan (-81) dropped four spots to 10th.

Next race: Sunday, May 17, Iowa Speedway.

FINAL RESULTS:

1 Joey Logano … 113 laps

2 Brian Scott … 113 laps

3 Austin Dillon … 113 laps

4 JJ Yeley … 113 laps

5 Joey Gase … 113 laps

6 Chris Buescher … 113 laps

7 Elliott Sadler … 113 laps

8 Ty Dillon … 113 laps

9 Regan Smith … 113 laps

10 Aric Almirola … 113 laps

11 Landon Cassill … 113 laps

12 Jeffrey Earnhardt … 113 laps

13 Benny Gordon … 113 laps

14 David Starr … 113 laps

15 John Wes Townley … 113 laps

16 Boris Said … 113 laps

17 Jeremy Clements … 113 laps

18 Peyton Sellers … 113 laps

19 Mario Gosselin … 113 laps

20 Darrell Wallace Jr. … 113 laps

21 Eric McClure … 113 laps

22 Dakoda Armstrong … 113 laps

23 Blake Koch … 113 laps

24 Cale Conley … 113 laps

25 Ross Chastain … 111 laps

26 Derek White … 111 laps

27 Mark Thompson … 111 laps

28 Brennan Poole … 110 laps

29 Ryan Sieg … 107 laps

30 Erik Jones … 105 laps

31 Daniel Suarez … 101 laps

32 Ryan Reed … 99 laps

33 Kasey Kahne … 98 laps

34 Mike Bliss … 98 laps

35 Chad Boat … 97 laps

36 Harrison Rhodes … 84 laps

37 Chase Elliott … 84 laps

38 Kenny Wallace … 72 laps

39 Brendan Gaughan … 72 laps

40 Charles Lewandoski … 3 laps

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Roger Penske was ready for his close-up in popular commercial

Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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MONTEREY, California – Roger Penske is the only team owner in auto racing history who has 18 “Baby Borg” Trophies in his possession for his team’s record 18 wins in the Indianapolis 500.

Perhaps his next trophy should be an Emmy.

Penske took part in a commercial along with 103rd Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud and one of his NASCAR Cup drivers, Ryan Blaney. The commercial was shot at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sept. 7 while NASCAR was in town for the Brickyard 400.

The premise of the commercials is a takeoff on the 2006 comedy, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” with Blaney playing the Ricky Bobby role and Pagenaud playing the Jean Girard role.

The commercial was shot by NBC to promote its coverage of the NTT IndyCar Series and NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series and concludes with Penske stepping in between the two drivers, demanding them to, “Go out there and win races.”

Penske delivered the line perfectly and in just three takes.

“It took me about five minutes,” Penske told NBCSports.com. “They made it very easy for me. We let the guys do all of the hard work. It was fun for me to do. I saw it, and I didn’t make a fool out of myself.

“I’m ready for the next commercial.”

Penske’s ability to deliver his lines perfectly impressed NBC Sports Group President of Programing Jon Miller.

“I assume he’s got his SAG card,” Miller told NBCSports.com. “He has certainly been in front of the camera enough, and he’s quite an ambassador for the sport, so we were not at all surprised by that.”

NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood was also highly impressed with Penske’s ability to turn into an actor in front of the camera.

“We were thrilled that he agreed to do it,” Flood told NBC Sports.com. “It’s one of those special things and the kind of guy he is to jump on board and make it even bigger because we had a ‘Plan B’ if Roger couldn’t do it, and when we got the confirmation, we knew we had something special that was going to happen.

“Roger Penske did the ad with two of his drivers that we shot at the Brickyard last week that got out there. A lot of fun, a lot of great response to it, and that’s things we couldn’t have done in the past. I think that’s part of us leaning in as NBC in trying to grow all of motorsports, and it’s important that every form of racing gets attention, and that’s what we’re pushing, as you know all too well.”

Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden, who will take a 41-point lead over Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi into Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix, also was complimentary of his team owner.

“Wow, I was impressed,” Newgarden told NBCSports.com. “First of all, how did they get him to do a cameo? That was cool. And he nailed it.

“The pressure on Simon and Blaney to nail it, after Roger does it in only three takes? Wow, the pressure was really on them to deliver their lines.”

Pagenaud thought Penske’s first take was the best.

“It didn’t take long for Roger to deliver his line, he was on top of it,” Pagenaud told NBCSports.com. “NBCSN was very excited about the idea. IndyCar CEO Mark Miles made sure we were able to get into Gasoline Alley early that day. It was the Saturday of the Brickyard 400 and it was early, but Roger was probably up since 2 a.m. I’m sure, so it wasn’t early for him.

“It was good, the script was fun and well done. I forced my French and Blaney being the perfect American NASCAR driver and Roger just being himself was just perfect. It shows personality between NASCAR and INDYCAR. NBC is doing such a great job showing both fans on both sides what is going in and it helps everybody get interested in both sports.”

Penske was asked if that is how he normally talks to his drivers in a prerace situation to fire them up.

“That’s not the normal, daily message, but that’s how it helped those two guys get going,” Penske said. “I think NBC has done a great job in all cases on IndyCar. The continuity of having the same partner has made a huge difference. The talent knows the drivers. They know the situation. Guys like Paul Tracy and the experience of Leigh Diffey and the whole group has done a great job.

“It’s about good racing. We have good teams. Lots of competition, new drivers and date equity. And it’s attracting young people.”

Penske believes the addition of NBC Sports to the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series schedule, including the season’s final race on the NBC, has been a big boost to the series.

“Any time you are on network is great,” Penske said. “It’s great for the sponsors, the notoriety for the team and the drivers is very important for all of us as we finish up the season. It’s going to be a great weekend, and I hope we can continue the movement we’ve had and the momentum we’ve had coming up to the last weekend.”

Richmond winners and losers

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WINNERS

Joe Gibbs Racing — It was a 1-2-3-4 finish until Erik Jones’ car failed inspection. Still the team scored a 1-2-3 finish and claimed its fourth consecutive win on a short track with Martin Truex Jr.’s triumph. Don’t forget, the organization also won Friday’s Xfinity race with Christopher Bell.

Ryan Newman His fifth-place finish tied his best result of the year and was his third consecutive top-10 showing. He was encouraged by the team running toward the front and noted: “You take away those four Gibbs cars, we were racing for the win. I know it doesn’t work that way, but if they would have had one bad meeting (incident) we would’ve been in the hunt.” Still, Newman moved into a transfer spot heading into this coming weekend’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

Brad KeselowskiHe finished fourth and was the only driver outside of Joe Gibbs Racing to lead Saturday’s race.

Bubba Wallace His 12th-place finish was his third top-15 result in the last five races. He had one top-15 finish in the first 23 races of the season.

Front Row Motorsports — All three of its cars placed 21st or better, the first time the team has accomplished that feat this season. David Ragan was 19th, rookie Matt Tifft placed 20th and Michael McDowell was 21st.

LOSERS

Erik Jones He was feeling good about his fourth-place finish that put him within three points of the final transfer spot to the next round only to later find out that his car was disqualified for failing inspection after the race. Now he’s 45 points out of the final transfer spot and is essentially in a must-win situation. He faces being eliminated from the first round of the playoffs for a second year in a row.

William Byron Got lapped in the final circuits before the end of each stage and also had a pit road speeding penalty. That led to a season-worst 25th-place finish. He holds the final transfer spot to the second round by two points on Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman heading to the Roval.

Brad Keselowski bumped up to fourth, but JGR domination still ‘not good news’

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Brad Keselowski ended Saturday’s NASCAR Cup playoff race at Richmond Raceway with what he thought was a fifth-place finish.

About an hour later though, Keselowski was moved up one position to fourth place after original fourth-place finisher Erik Jones was disqualified after his car failed post-race inspection.

Still, gaining one extra finishing position didn’t make the 2012 NASCAR Cup champion happy because of Joe Gibbs Racing’s domination in the second race of the playoffs – even with Jones’ DQ.

(How JGR finished is) definitely not good news,” Keselowski said. “We’ve got work to do. (JGR is) really strong and we’re not where we need to be to be able to beat them heads-up, but we threw everything we had at them.

We put down a great qualifying lap, got the first pit stall, had great pit stops and got to the lead, but just didn’t have the raw speed to keep it.”

MORE: Martin Truex Jr. completes Richmond sweep with playoff win

MORE: Results, points after 2nd race of Cup playoffs at Richmond

MORE: NASCAR disqualifies Erik Jones’ car for failing inspection

Keselowski tweeted a few hours after the race that he didn’t “take no pleasure & seek no treasure from another man’s loss,” referring to Jones’ DQ.


Even so, Keselowski took some consolation from his overall performance.

We led 80-some laps, so it’s not a bad day but just not nearly fast enough to dominate the race and win,” he said.

Keselowski mistakenly said in a post-race interview that he had joined Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick in advancing to the Round of 12 two weeks from now due to his points in the standings.

Yeah, we’re locked into the next round,” Keselowski said. “That feels good. I’m proud of that effort.”

Actually, Keselowski left Richmond two points shy of being locked into the next playoff round. That will have to come next Sunday at Charlotte’s Roval.

There’s still work to do not only for Keselowski’s car, but also those of his teammates — Joey Logano finished 11th and Ryan Blaney 17th — to counter JGR’s domination.

But what exactly has to be done is a question mark, Keselowski said.

Honestly, I don’t know,” Keselowski said. “They’ve got all the secrets so we need to find some more secrets.”

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Kyle Busch sees progress in runner-up finish at Richmond

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RICHMOND, Va. — After his fiery comments last week led some to be critical of his attitude toward slower drivers, Kyle Busch was calmer after his runner-up performance to Martin Truex Jr. on Saturday night at Richmond Raceway.

Busch led a race-high 202 of 400 laps but lost the lead to his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate with 26 laps to go and had to settle for second place.

“We put up a valiant effort,” Busch said.

MORE: NASCAR disqualifies Erik Jones’ fourth-place finishing car

While his winless drought starched to 14 races, Busch noted that the performance was a step forward for the No. 18 Toyota team.

“I know we’re capable of it, the team is capable of it,” said Busch, who clinched a spot in the second round with his 54-point night. “Just stupid things have been biting us this year and we put it all together tonight. I didn’t speed on pit road, pit crew did a good job, our car was fast and we made the most of our effort.”

Whether it was Busch hitting the wall (or another car) at Las Vegas, an engine failure at Indianapolis, the pit crew losing the lead at Darlington or a speeding penalty at Watkins Glen (and hitting cars), Busch and the team have been off in recent races despite often having the speed to challenge for wins. In the process, Busch has lost the chance to collect many more playoff points.

He was strong enough Saturday night to win the second stage, giving him his third stage win in the last seven races.

But Busch didn’t have enough at the end to keep Truex behind him.

“We ran OK,” Busch said. “(Truex) could follow closer than I could, and he was better on the long run than I was. Why? Maybe I pushed my tires too hard there at the last stint at the beginning trying to stay ahead of (Denny Hamlin), which gave (Truex) the opportunity to kind of save his stuff and roll around and attack later.”