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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Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth to start at rear at Kentucky

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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Martin Truex Jr. and Matt Kenseth each will start at the rear in Sunday’s Cup race at Kentucky Speedway after their cars failed pre-race inspection twice.

Truex was to have started ninth. Kenseth was to have started 17th in the 38-car field.

Truex has won two of the last three races at Kentucky. Kenseth is coming off a runner-up finish last weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Sunday’s Cup race at Kentucky: Start time, lineup and more

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The final 10-race stretch of the regular season begins for the Cup Series Sunday at Kentucky Speedway.

After years of mostly only racing under the lights there, the series will race in the daytime.

Can Kyle Busch, who starts from the pole, earn his first Cup win of 2020?

Here’s all the info you need for Sunday’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START:  The command to start engines is at 2:43 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:54 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage access health screening begins at 7:30 a.m. (teams are assigned specific times). Engine prime and final adjustments at 12:30 p.m. Drivers report to their cars at 2:20 p.m. The invocation will be given at 2:35 p.m by Darrell and Stevie Waltrip. The national anthem will be performed at 2:36 p.m. by Robert Randolph.

DISTANCE: The race is 267 laps (400.5 miles) around the 1.5-mile speedway.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 25

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 80. Stage 2 ends on Lap 160.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will televise the race. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at 1:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms with a high of 79 degrees and a 58% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Kevin Harvick beat Matt Kenseth to win the Brickyard 400.

LAST RACE AT KENTUCKY: Kurt Busch defeated younger brother Kyle Busch for the win.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

Catch up on NBC Sports’ coverage:

Front Row Motorsports reaching new heights without practice

NASCAR to team: Address “complacency” toward COVID-19 protocols

Jimmie Johnson: ‘I’m smarter, stronger’ after COVID-19 episode

Stage is set for Cup teams in race for points

Glow in the dark: Cup cars get new look for All-Star Race

Here is what upcoming NASCAR Cup races fans can attend

NASCAR reveals schedule through end of Cup regular season

Harvick takes hot streak to Kentucky, one of his last winless tracks

Power Rankings after Indianapolis: Kevin Harvick back to No. 1

Zach Price, Ryan Blaney’s injured tire changer, to miss Kentucky

 

Racing community mourns driver killed after crash at Langley Speedway

Photo: Mark Wertz
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Shawn Balluzzo, an 11-time track champion at Langley Speedway, died after a crash in a modified race Saturday night, the track confirmed. Balluzzo was 64.

Balluzzo, who won 16 of the Hampton, Virginia track’s 17 modified races in 2019, died after his car went over the hood of another and hit the Turn 2 wall at about 70 mph, according to The Virginian-Pilot. The newspaper reported that safety personnel cut the roof of Balluzzo’s car off to extricate him.

Saturday’s twin modified races were the first of the season for that series at the track. Belluzzo finished second in the opening race.

Balluzzo and his daughter Bryce were featured last year by WAVY TV 10, which chronicled Bryce’s battle with leukemia.

 

Tributes to Shawn Balluzzo were abundant Sunday morning and came from throughout the racing community.

 

Cole Custer ready for encore of first career Cup top-5 finish

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Sunday’s Cup race at Kentucky Speedway will be a night and day difference.

In recent years, the Cup race at the 1.5-mile Sparta, Kentucky track has primarily been a nighttime affair. Teams have compiled big notebooks of data from racing under the lights.

That won’t be the case Sunday, as the green flag is slated to drop at 2:54 p.m. ET.

While this will be his first career Cup start at Kentucky, rookie Cole Custer is no stranger to the track, having won last summer’s Xfinity race there – and scored consecutive fifth-place finishes in the two preceding races in 2017 and 2018.

“It’s something that you definitely see a difference in the track, I feel like, when it’s day and when it goes to night,” Custer said in a media teleconference. “So trying to figure out how you want to adjust your car to kind of a slicker track is gonna be pretty important.

“And also the biggest difference is we don’t have all the practice sessions before the race to work in the track. You saw that Thursday night with the Xfinity race, there was dust all over. The bottom lane was not worked in very well, so it’s gonna take a little while for that bottom lane to work in. We’re gonna see how worked in it is by the time we get to our race.

“There’s a lot of differences, honestly, but, at the same time it’s still the same track. It’s a really edgy racetrack because it’s new pavement, it’s a repave, so the tires are a little bit harder. The track takes a little bit of time to get worked in and you have that PJ1 (traction compound), so you’re able to take things from the Xfinity car – what lines kind of worked there and how it changed throughout the weekend – so basic characteristics with the track you’re able to kind of carry over. But at the same time, the feel in the car is completely different and how you work traffic and things like that.”

Custer enters Sunday’s race ranked 25th in the Cup standings, the lowest position of the four major drivers in this year’s Cup rookie class (Tyler Reddick is 18th, John Hunter Nemechek is 22nd and Christopher Bell is 24th).

“There’s definitely been a lot of learning, for sure,” Custer said. “Obviously, these cars are a lot different than what the Xfinity cars were, so trying to wrap your head around that and figure out how to effect every little thing, whether it’s passing or restarts or how to work traffic or pit road, just anything about it, you’re trying to make sure you’re getting 100 percent out of it.

“It’s always going to be challenging being a rookie, but at the same time it’s probably been a little bit more challenging this year because you don’t have practice, we didn’t have rookie testing, and these cars are a big difference from the Xfinity Series. It’s hard to do that without the practice time.

“I think it pushes all of us to be better because we all want to compete against each other and make sure we’re not falling behind too much. I think it’s just a matter of you still have to focus on yourself most of the time. If you’re focused on other people, you’re not gonna be making yourself better and working on your own problems. But at the same time it does push you to make sure you’re pushing yourself as much as you can.”

Custer is coming off his first top-five finish of the season at Indianapolis last weekend. He  has just one other top 10 in the first 16 races.

Still, Custer’s finish at Indy, which included pushing Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick to the win, leaves Custer optimistic heading into this weekend.

“At that point, my best shot was to push Kevin and that might have got me in a better position to try and maybe make a move to try to win the race also,” Custer said. “It’s definitely nerve-wracking. I mean, you’re coming to that line and you’re like, ‘I’ve got to do this right. This is important right here. We need this.’

“So I’ve been in those situations before where you’ve got to push people if you’re running up front in the Xfinity cars or the Truck Series or whatever it is, so you have experience doing that kind of stuff, but doing it at this level puts that much more pressure on it and you’re at the Brickyard 400 so you want to make it happen. It was definitely nerve-wracking, but it was something that we were able to kind of control those nerves and make sure that we do our jobs right.

“Now I feel like we’re at a good point where we’re putting it all together and get close to affect all those little things. But you have to do it on a consistent basis and I think we’re gaining on that.”

The driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang has his work cut out for himself Sunday, starting 29th.

“I feel like I’ve already spent hours trying to figure that out,” Custer quipped. “It’s definitely gonna be a tough race.

“It looks like it’s gonna be a really dominant top lane kind of race, so that makes it a little bit tough to pass. But at the same time, the track is gonna be changing throughout the whole weekend, so it’s hard to tell exactly what our race is gonna be like yet.

“You’re trying to work through all the different possibilities in your mind of what our race might look like. But overall I feel like it’s gonna be a track position race. You’re gonna want to try to get towards the front on restarts and on pit road, and from there you’re just trying to run a solid race without having mistakes.”

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