Erik Jones completes weekend sweep, wins Owens Corning AttiCat 300 Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland

Leave a comment

JOLIET, Ill. – Erik Jones passed Ryan Blaney with 10 laps to go and held on to complete a weekend sweep, winning Sunday’s Owens Corning AttiCat 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Jones won from the pole in Friday’s Camping World Truck Series at Iowa Speedway, and then doubled up in Sunday’s race, which had been postponed by rain from its originally scheduled time on Saturday night.

Just like he did at Iowa, Jones dominated once again, leading a race-high 94 laps of the 200-lap event, earning his second Xfinity win of the season.

It was a year ago at Chicagoland that Jones made his Xfinity Series debut, finishing seventh.

Blaney finished second, followed by pole-sitter Austin Dillon, Brendan Gaughan and Chris Buescher.

Ross Kenseth, son of NASCAR veteran Matt Kenseth, started on the outside pole and finished a very strong sixth, followed by Daniel Suarez, Brian Scott, Ty Dillon and Darrell Wallace Jr.

MORE: Owens Corning AttiCat 300 race results at Chicagoland

MORE: Chris Buescher remains atop Xfinity standings after Chicagoland

How Erik Jones won: It wasn’t like Jones stole the win away from Ryan Blaney. Jones led nearly half the race, a total of 94 of 200 laps. But it was with 10 laps to go that he made his winning move, getting past Blaney and sailing away to victory. In a sense, Jones completed what he started in last year’s race at Chicagoland, finishing seventh in his Xfinity Series debut.

Others who had a good day: Even though he lost the lead with 10 laps to go, Ryan Blaney still had an outstanding run, finishing second. “We were just too tight to run with the 54 (Erik Jones),” Blaney said. “I hurt us real bad by wrecking my primary yesterday.” Still, Blaney was able to mount a strong run with his back-up car, leading 43 laps. … Ross Kenseth had a very successful Xfinity Series debut, starting on the outside pole and finished sixth. “For a one-off deal like this, I was happy,” Kenseth said. “Hopefully, we can do it again.”

Who had a bad day: Having won at Chicagoland last season, Chase Elliott was hoping for a repeat Sunday. As it turned out, he finished 14th, leaving him winless through the first 14 races this season. It was Elliott’s third-worst finish of the season (worst was 37th at Talladega), but he remains third in the Xfinity Series points standings. … Even though NASCAR officials radioed that pit road was open on Lap 152, the indicator light at the entrance to pit road was still red. A total of 22 cars came onto pit road nevertheless and all were penalized for pitting when pit road was closed by being sent to the rear of the lead lap.

Notable: Richard Childress Racing put all four of its drivers in the top 10: Austin Dillon (third), Brendan Gaughan (fourth), Brian Scott (eighth) and Ty Dillon (ninth). … This was the 14th race of the Xfinity Series season. With next weekend off, the series will then begin a stretch of 16 straight weeks of racing at Daytona on July 4. The series has two consecutive weekends off (Oct. 24 and 31) late in the season before finishing with the final three races of 2015. … Daniel Suarez recovered from the car fire he experienced in Saturday’s ARCA race at Chicagoland to finish seventh. It was a big bounce back after finishing 31st, 18th, 6th, 19th and 20th in the previous five races. … 2014 K&N Pro Series East champ Ben Rhodes made his second career Xfinity Series Sunday, finishing 21st.

Quote of the day: “That’s three wins for me this week. That’s pretty awesome.” – Race winner Erik Jones, who won a Late Model race this past Tuesday at Berlin Raceway in his native Michigan, followed by Friday’s Truck Series win at Iowa and Sunday’s win at Chicagoland.

What’s next: The Xfinity Series is off next weekend before starting a string of 16 consecutive races. The next race on the schedule is the Subway Firecracker 250 on July 4 at Daytona International Speedway.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Circuit of the Americas to host Cup for first time in 2021

Circuit of the Americas
Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Cup Series will do more road course racing in 2021 with the addition of the Circuit of the Americas to the schedule, the track announced Wednesday.

The Cup race will be held May 23.

The complete 2021 schedule will be announced this afternoon by NASCAR.

The 3.41-mile road course in Austin, Texas, has hosted Formula One and IndyCar races, among others since its debut in 2012.

A NASCAR event has never been held at Circuit of the Americas, but Tony Stewart piloted a Stewart-Haas Racing car there last year in a demonstration run.

COTA is located roughly 220 miles south of Texas Motor Speedway. 

“Our company is proud to have a 60-year history of fabulous firsts in motorsports entertainment, and we are honored to bring America’s premier racing series to one of the world’s most renowned entertainment venues and cities for the very first time,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith. “I’d like to thank COTA CEO Bobby Epstein as well as NASCAR’s executive leadership for supporting us in an endeavor to do something that we believe will be spectacular for race fans, not only in Texas but around the world. We work and challenge ourselves every day at Speedway Motorsports to create amazing experiences that will last a lifetime, and we know NASCAR at COTA will deliver in 2021.” 

“I’m grateful for Marcus Smith’s vision and determination to make this event possible,” said Circuit of the Americas CEO and Chairman, Bobby Epstein. “His teams in Charlotte and at Texas Motor Speedway have created a spirit of partnership that will make for a spectacular weekend of fun and competition. Speedway Motorsports, along with the leadership at NASCAR, have a ‘Fans First’ attitude and have responded to everyone who has long desired to see a Cup Series race at COTA. Fans who’ve been here before will witness stock car racing at its finest for the first time, and first-time visitors will be amazed at the views and friendly experience. It will be our pleasure to write another chapter of motorsports history alongside Speedway Motorsports and NASCAR in 2021.” 

 

Cup to run on Indy road course in 2021

Leave a comment

The NASCAR Cup Series will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2021 but will race on the road course for the first time instead of the oval, track officials announced Wednesday.

Cup will race on the road course on Aug. 15. That race will be held a day after the NTT IndyCar Series races on the Indy road course.

“Our first NASCAR-IndyCar weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants involved,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and IndyCar together during this exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

MORE: Atlanta to have two Cup dates in 2021

MORE: Darlington to run Cup races on Mother’s Day, Labor Day weekend in 2021

The Cup Series has raced at Indy since 1994. But as the racing there has been questioned and the sport has made a push for more road course races, NASCAR moved the Xfinity Series to the road course this year as a trial. The event was well received, creating the opportunity to move next year’s Cup race to the road course as well.

“Indy is Indy, no matter if you’re on the road course or you’re on the oval,” Joey Logano said of what a win there would mean. “It doesn’t matter. If you’re on the dirt track, I don’t care, it’s Indy. It’s that big deal to win there. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a Cup car, IndyCar or a tricycle, you want to win at that race track.”

Indy’s road course is 2.439 miles and features 14 turns. Chase Briscoe won the Xfinity race there after a four-car battle for the lead in the final laps.

The full Cup schedule will be announced Wednesday afternoon. The Xfinity schedule will be announced at a later date. Boles said on a media Zoom he was unsure of the Xfinity plans but talked with Logano about an interest Logano would have in running in a Xfinity race there to get more track time for the Cup race.

 

Darlington Raceway gets second Cup race for 2021

Leave a comment

Darlington Raceway will have two races in 2021, marking the first time since 2004 that the track has been scheduled to hold multiple Cup races in a season. The track announced its schedule Wednesday with South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster at the Governor’s mansion.

“Congratulations. Thank you. Hallelujah,” Gov. McMaster said after the dates were announced.

Darlington was scheduled to host one race in 2020 but added two more in NASCAR’s return to racing after the season was suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

MORE: Atlanta to host two Cup races in 2021 for first time since 2010

The track will hold its first Cup race next season on May 9. That is Mother’s Day. It marks only the third time in the last 40 years the series will have run on Mother’s Day. The series last raced on Mother’s Day in 2007 when rain forced the Darlington race to be held that afternoon. The only other time NASCAR raced on Mother’s Day in the last 40 years was 1986 when the All-Star Race was held at Atlanta.

Darlington’s second date will be its Southern 500 event on Sept. 5, Labor Day weekend. That race will again open the  Cup playoffs.

NASCAR will announce the 2021 Cup schedule on Wednesday afternoon.

Darlington hosted two Cup races a season from 1960-2004. It held one Cup race from 2005-19.

The track stated that 2021 schedules for the NASCAR Xfinity and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be announced at a later date.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, tweeted that the Darlington races would be run with the low downforce package.

 

 

Atlanta to host two Cup races in 2021

1 Comment

Atlanta Motor Speedway will host two Cup races in 2021, marking the first time since 2010 that the 1.5-mile speedway will have multiple Cup events in the same season.

Atlanta will host Cup races on March 21 and July 11.

The July 11 race will be the Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart, moving sponsorship that had been with Kentucky Speedway. Kentucky Speedway will not be on the 2021 schedule. Its date becomes the second Atlanta date. The March race will be known at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

The July race marks the first 400-mile race at Atlanta since 1966.

The track announced its dates Wednesday morning. The full 2021 Cup schedule will be released Wednesday afternoon.

Atlanta Motor Speedway stated on its website that it plans to host fans in its stands and camping areas in socially distanced, limited capacity for each of its Cup races in 2021.

“We’re beyond excited to deliver what our fans have been yearning for: a second weekend of NASCAR action in Atlanta once again,” AMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Brandon Hutchison said in a statement. “Folds of Honor and QuikTrip continue to be phenomenal partners for our spring weekend of racing and we’re thrilled to have Quaker State and Walmart on board this summer as we put together two weekends of entertainment and excitement for race fans.”