Ryan: Three thoughts on Sunday’s race at Pocono

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1 — Pocono’s pit problem: After Kasey Kahne eerily mimicked Jeb Burton’s practice crash Saturday – sliding precisely through the same tire tracks off Turn 3 – it readily became apparent there were multiple issues in need of addressing.

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The first was the sturdiness of a pit wall that needed repair after heavy impacts on consecutive days (the latter necessitating a 15-minute red flag Sunday). The second was the placement of helmets on pit wall that went flying 25 feet (but thankfully didn’t hit anything) after Kahne’s impact. The third was the positioning of three spectators standing in front of A.J. Allmendinger’s pit box and a few feet from where the wall was struck. The fourth was whether this season’s reduction in horsepower and the subsequent increase in corner speeds might be contributing to a more dangerous trajectory for cars losing control off Turn 3.

That’s a lot for NASCAR and the track to digest and dissect, but it’s essential given that all of it involves safety.

2 — The results belied the takeaways: Sometimes it’s hard to glean much from a race in which contenders’ fuel cells run dry en masse in the closing laps, and Pocono was no exception.

If you were looking for evidence of Martin Truex Jr.’s team finding its groove, Brad Keselowski continuing to make unusual mistakes with a fast car, and Hendrick Motorsports still seeming to be in a minor slump, the box score wasn’t much help. Truex (19th) ran extremely well before being one of several contenders to miscalculate on mileage, Keselowski took advantage of others’ misfortune to grind out a runner-up finish after hitting a few of his team members on an errant pit stop, and Jeff Gordon (third) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fourth) both salvaged solid finishes for Hendrick during a race in which the team weathered a crash with major Chase implications for Kasey Kahne and an engine failure for Kevin Harvick.

There won’t be as much dwelling on Sunday’s finishing order because it fell far short of telling the full story of 400 miles.

3 — The race to the Chase is emerging as a thriller: Kyle Busch’s dramatic swing in fortunes – from inside the top 30 requirement to be eligible for the Chase to still 13 points short – might have been the least significant among those trying to sew up championship bids. Busch still seems a foregone conclusion to surpass Cole Whitt and David Gilliland over the next five races and break into the top 30 in points. For winless drivers trying to point their way into the championship playoff, Sunday’s results could have much larger implications.

Gordon, who was reeling from a 42nd at Indianapolis last week, seemed headed for a midpack finish at Pocono before strategies unfolded perfectly and put him nearly two full races’ worth of points ahead of the cutoff. After a tumultuous week at Michael Waltrip Racing, Clint Bowyer (eighth) rebounded with his second straight top 10 and improved a spot in the standings to 15th. Bowyer now clings to what is expected to be the last provisional berth on the Chase grid (provided Busch makes the top 30, and there isn’t another new winner) because of Kahne dropping two spots in the standings because of a last-place finish Sunday.

There still are five races remaining in the regular season – which could allows for more major shifts in momentum – but the way Pocono ended had the feel of a turning point.

Bristol Truck race results, driver points

Bristol Truck race results
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Sam Mayer scored his first career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series win Thursday night. The 17-year-old finished ahead of GMS Racing teammate Brett Moffitt.

Mayer is the youngest driver to win a Truck race at Bristol.

Tanner Gray placed third and was followed by Parker Kligerman and Chandler Smith.

Gray’s finished tied a career high. Kligerman’s finish was his best this season.

Trevor Bayne crossed the finish line fifth but his truck was disqualified for failing post-race heights in inspection.

The next race in the playoffs is Sept. 25 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Click here for race results


Brett Moffitt leads the points after the opening race in the first round of the playoffs. He leads Sheldon Creed by nine points. Zane Smith trails Moffitt by 12 points.

Click here for points report

17-year-old Sam Mayer wins first NASCAR Truck race

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Sam Mayer passed GMS Racing teammate Brett Moffitt with 30 laps to go and went on to score his first career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series win Thursday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The victory came in the seventh career Truck start for the 17-year-old Mayer. The win also came a few days after JR Motorsports announced that Mayer would drive for the team in the second half of the 2021 Xfinity Series, once he turns 18.

“I love this place,” Mayer told FS1 after the 200-lap race. “I don’t know what to say.”

Mayer was helped by having tires that were 52 laps fresher than Moffitt’s tires.

MORE: Race results 

Mayer is not competing in the playoffs and does not advance to the second round. He said he has two more Truck races left to run this season.

Mayer followed his Truck win by taking the checkered flag in the ARCA Menards Series race that followed Thursday night.

Moffitt, who is competing in the playoffs, finished second. He was followed by Tanner Gray and Parker Kligerman.

Trevor Bayne finished fifth but his Truck was disqualified after the race for failing inspection. His truck failed post-race heights. Chandler Smith finished fifth after Bayne’s disqualification.

Moffitt was one of only four playoff drivers to finish in the top 10. Grant Enfinger was sixth. Tyler Ankrum placed seventh. Matt Crafton was 10th.

Mayer is the second youngest winner in series history. Cole Custer is the youngest winner in series history. Custer was 16 years, 7 months, 28 days when he won in Sept. 2014 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Mayer becomes the youngest Truck winner at Bristol at 17 years, 2 months, 22 days. Ryan Blaney had held that record, winning a 2015 race there at age 21 years, 4 months, 19 days.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Brett Moffitt

STAGE 2 WINNER: Tyler Ankrum

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Tanner Gray’s third-place finish tied his career best. He finished third at Michigan earlier this season. … Parker Kligerman’s fourth-place finish is his best of the season while running a limited schedule.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Austin Hill finished 26th, worst among the playoff drivers. He had contact on Lap 2 with Stewart Friesen.

NOTABLE: Trevor Bayne said that four weeks ago he didn’t know if he would be racing again at Bristol. He crossed the finish line fifth but his truck failed inspection after the race and was disqualified.

NEXT: The second race of the opening round of the playoffs is at 9 p.m. ET Sept. 25 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Texas Motor Speedway to host polling site for election

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Residents and race fans in parts of North Texas will be able to cast their vote in the upcoming election at their local NASCAR track.

Texas Motor Speedway will be a polling site for the Nov. 3 election.

The track, owned by Speedway Motorsports, will serve as a polling site for the residents of Precinct 4048. That precinct includes a large portion of Denton County and Forth Worth, Texas.

The polling site will be in the Lone Star Tower Condominium Clubhouse just outside Turn 2. It will be open from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET on election day.

More: Upcoming Cup playoffs races can fans attend

“In anticipation of a very high voter turnout for the presidential election, we have been working for months to acquire polling sites throughout the county,” Frank Phillips, Denton County Elections Administrator, said in a press release. “We are excited that Texas Motor Speedway has offered the use of the Lone Star Tower Clubhouse as a polling site.”

Local, state and CDC guidelines will be followed to ensure a sanitized, safe and socially distanced voter experience.

TMS is the first track that hosts NASCAR Cup races to announce its plans for use as a polling site. It joins sporting venues for other major sports in doing so.

A number of NBA arenas and practice facilities will be voting locations, as well as select NFL stadiums and NHL arenas.

Travis Pastrana, Conor Daly set for Las Vegas Truck Series race

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Action sports star Travis Pastrana and IndyCar driver Conor Daly are teaming up with Niece Motorsports to compete in the upcoming Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

With the backing of iRacing, who made the announcement Thursday, the duo will drive the No. 42 and No. 45 Chevrolets in the Sept. 25 race.

Pastrana and Daly’s involvement is a continuation of their rivalry in the LCQ League, a private iRacing league featuring motorsports and action sports legends having fun in cars from all disciplines.

For Pastrana, a former Roush Fenway Racing driver, it will be his fifth career Truck start and his second of the year after he competed in the July 25 race at Kansas Speedway. He finished 22nd.

“I’m really looking forward to bringing our rivalry from the LCQ League to the real world,” Pastrana said in a press release. “We’ve been getting lots of advice and iRacing on-track coaching from fellow LCQ member Parker Kligerman. I’m looking forward to seeing how the hours in iRacing pay off on the track, especially for Conor who has never driven a NASCAR truck in real life. He might be the first person in history to jump into a professional racing series and take the green flag without so much as a single practice lap in real life! Conor is a phenomenal IndyCar driver and a quick learner so I think he will surprise a lot of people.”

It will be the first Truck Series start for Daly, who has 61 IndyCar starts since 2013. Daly made his NASCAR debut in 2018 at Road America driving for Roush in the Xfinity Series.

“I could not be more excited to jump in a Gander Outdoor Series truck for the first time ever in Las Vegas!” Daly said in a press release “This will be one of the greatest challenges I’ve ever faced in my career as it will be the first event I’ve ever done where I’ve never driven a single lap in the Chevy Silverado before taking the green flag for the race. Travis and I have been going head to head on iRacing getting as much practice as possible since that’s the best possible form of preparation we have!