Hendrick Motorsports’ domination of Pocono ends

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As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end – and that was the case for Hendrick Motorsports’ recent domination at Pocono Raceway.

Coming into Sunday’s Axalta We Paint Winners 400, the last five races at Pocono had been won by HMS drivers: Jeff Gordon in Aug. 2012, Jimmie Johnson in June 2013, Kasey Kahne in Aug. 2013 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. capturing both races last season.

Aa sixth win in a row was not to be Sunday, as a Chevrolet still won, it just wasn’t a HMS driver behind the wheel.

Still, the Hendrick clan fared fairly well, with Johnson finishing third, Earnhardt 11th, Kahne 13th and Gordon 14th.

That Johnson was able to finish as well as he did once again showed the ability of he and his team to bounce back from adversity.

Johnson overcame a blown tire and getting into the wall but still scored a top-five finish.

“I’ve never given up, I guess,” Johnson said. “This is a great race team and a great race car. I think (Martin Truex Jr.) and (Kevin Harvick) had more pace than anyone else.

“But to be leading that next group of cars with a car with its right-side knocked off and splitter missing up front, it was a good result. There were plenty of challenges today for our Lowe’s team.

“Third is not the end of the world and so, we’ll take it and go on to the next one.”

As for the other three HMS drivers, Gordon continues to struggle in his final season as a Sprint Cup driver. His so-called “Victory Tour” continues to miss the biggest key element – he has yet to win a race in 2015.

What’s more, Gordon dropped from ninth to 10th in the Cup standings after Sunday’s race.

If the Chase for the Sprint Cup were to start today, Gordon would make it on points as the 13th of 16 drivers (based upon 10 different drivers already having earned at least one victory thus far).

Gordon is 43 points ahead of 16th-ranked Carl Edwards, which is the points equivalent of one full race win.

He needs to make some strong runs in the remaining 12 races before the Chase field is set or he could risk missing a chance to run for the title.

Earnhardt also had his struggles.

“We had a lot of fun out there passing a lot of cars,” Earnhardt said. “I made a mistake or, I don’t know what really happened on the back straightaway. (Brad Keselowski) came off the wall like he almost hit it.

“I yanked it to the left and I run into him and hit (Kahne). Just racing hard. You’ve got to get everything you can get. You can’t give up anything. I had a lot of race car and I was trying to use it.”

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Brandon Jones wins Xfinity pole at Texas Motor Speedway

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Playoff driver Brandon Jones won the pole position Saturday morning for Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Jones was clocked at 185.637 miles per hour.

MORE: Texas Xfinity qualifying results

MORE: Texas Xfinity starting lineup

Scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on the USA Network, the race is the opening event of the Xfinity playoffs.

Following Jones in the top five were Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, John Hunter Nemechek and Sam Mayer.

MORE: Post-race celebration? Try the Waffle House

The race is 200 laps (300 miles) on the 1.5-mile track. Drivers will be battling heat in the mid-to-high 90s.

 

NASCAR Saturday schedule at Texas Motor Speedway

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NASCAR Cup and Xfinity teams will be busy Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Cup Series enters the second round of the playoffs with 12 drivers remaining for the title. Cup teams will practice and qualify today.

The Xfinity Series begins its playoffs Saturday with 12 drivers in championship contention. Xfinity teams will practice and qualify before racing.

All track activity will be broadcast on USA Network. The temperature will climb into the mid-90s Saturday, according to Weather Underground.

Saturday, Sept. 24

Garage open

  • 8:30 a.m. — Xfinity Series
  • 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 10:30 – 11:05 a.m. — Xfinity Series practice (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
  • 11:05 a.m. – noon — Xfinity Series qualifying (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
  • 12:35 – 1:20 p.m. — Cup Series practice (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
  • 1:20 – 2:30 p.m. — Cup Series qualifying (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
  • 3:30 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (200 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, NBC Sports App, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Saturday Texas Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The Xfinity Series playoffs begin this weekend. Noah Gragson and Ty Gibbs enter as the favorites. They’ve combined to win 11 of the 26 races this season.

Gragson, who has six wins this season, seeks to win his fourth consecutive victory.

MORE: Noah Gragson’s special celebrations at Waffle House

Gibbs, who has five victories this year, is one of four drivers in the Xfinity playoffs for the first time. The other three are Josh Berry, Austin Hill and Sam Mayer.

Also in the playoffs are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric, Justin Allgaier, AJ Allmendinger, Brandon Jones, Jeremy Clements, Riley Herbst and Ryan Sieg.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Texas Motor Speedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given by Andy’s Frozen Custard executives Andy Kuntz, Dana Kuntz and Carol Kuntz at 3:38 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 8:30 a.m. … Practice begins at 10:30 a.m. … Qualifying begins at 11:05 a.m. … Driver introductions are at 3 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Bret Shisler of Texas Alliance Raceway Ministries at 3:30 p.m. … Janie Balderas will perform the anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 200 laps (300 miles) on the 1.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 45. Stage 2 ends at Lap 90.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3 p.m. on USA Network. The post-race show will air on USA Network. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 3 p.m. and also will stream at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 96 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Tyler Reddick gave Big Machine Racing its first series win in May. William Byron was second and Sam Mayer was third.

 

Ryan Blaney’s team to appeal Bristol penalty

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Team Penske will appeal the penalty to Ryan Blaney‘s team from last weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the organization confirmed Friday.

NASCAR suspended crew chief Jonathan Hassler, jackman Graham Stoddard and rear tire changer Zachary Price four races each after a wheel came off Blaney’s car during a pit stop. His left rear wheel rolled off when he exited his stall and the tire bounced down pit road through before it was captured.

The penalty would have caused Hassler and the pit crew members to miss all of the second round and the first race in the third round. With the appeal. Hassler, Stoddard and Price will be able to participate in Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on USA Network.).

Blaney enters the second round holding the final transfer spot. He, Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell are tied with 3,013 points. He won the All-Star Race in May at Texas.

Chase Briscoe is the first driver below the cutline. He’s four points behind Blaney. Alex Bowman and Daniel Suarez are each six points behind Blaney. Austin Cindric is seven points behind Blaney.