Home cooking: Paul Menard wins Xfinity race at Road America

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Wisconsin native Paul Menard held off a surge by Ryan Blaney in the closing laps to win Saturday’s Road America 180 Fired Up By Johnsonville NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Menard didn’t let a last lap tap by runnerup Blaney to get past shake him and then pulled away to beat his opponent by about a five-car length margin.

Brian Scott finished third, followed by Chase Elliott and Darrell Wallace Jr.

Boris Said finished sixth, followed by Justin Marks, Regan Smith, Chris Buescher and Ty Dillon.

Menard becomes the sixth different winner in as many Xfinity races at Road America. It adds to his biggest career wins, including the Brickyard 400, at Milwaukee and now, Road America.

There have now been different winners in the last eight road course races in the Xfinity Series.

MORE: Results and winnings from Road America 180 Fired Up By Johnsonville Xfinity Series race

MORE: Chris Buescher remains atop tight Xfinity standings after Road America race

How Menard won: Menard led just nine laps over two separate times. He took the lead for good on Lap 40 and held on to the checkered flag despite a strong last-lap run by Ryan Blaney. Blaney tried to move Menard out of the way on the last lap, but the Wisconsin native would not let Blaney past and motored to a .572 second winning margin.

Who else had a good race: Chase Elliott dominated the first half of the race, leading 23 laps, but struggled in the second half of the event. That included making an uncharacteristic mistake on Lap 28 by running off the track and into the grass, costing him several seconds and dropping him to seventh place and eventually to 17th before rallying back to fourth in the final nine laps. Elliott also closed in to just 16 points behind Chris Buescher in the Xfinity driver standings. … Brian Scott had a strong race, finishing third. … In a pre-race interview, Boris Said indicated that Saturday’s race may be his last in NASCAR. Said finished sixth.

Who had a bad race: The race wasn’t even one lap old when the first caution flag came out when Tommy Drisi slid off turn five and became stuck in a gravel pit. Drissi had another issue on Lap 24 when he ran out of fuel at the furthest point from pit road. The caution came out again and Drissi had to have his car pushed all the way back to the pits. He finished 36th. … Pole-sitter Ben Rhodes had to head to the pits on Lap 7 when he flat-spotted a tire. Rhodes then spun out and got stuck in the gravel on Lap 35, bringing out the caution. Rhodes finished 32nd in his seventh career Xfinity start. … Regan Smith’s championship hopes took a hit when the battery in his car quit with eight laps to go due to a dead battery and he had to be pushed by a wrecker to pit road. But it could have been worse: Smith finished eighth. Still, he’s just 50 points behind Buescher in the standings.

Notable: Rain washed out qualifying, but other than a few minor sprinkles, the race was rain-free. … This was the sixth straight year that the Xfinity Series has raced at Road America. NASCAR’s top series has raced just once at the track, back in 1956 when Tim Flock won in what was then known as the NASCAR Grand National Series (now Sprint Cup Series).

Quote of the day: “Not at all. Zero percent. I absolutely failed today. Way too many mistakes on my part. I screwed it up for my guys. Absolutely unacceptable, cannot have that. I apologize to them. I had a great car. I just 100 percent screwed it up. I just fell out of sync, didn’t drive right. You name it, I did it.” – Chase Elliott, when asked how satisfying it was to rally back to finish fourth.

What’s next: VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200, Saturday, Sept. 5, 3:30 pm ET at Darlington Raceway.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Kaulig Racing hauler involved in accident on way to Kansas Speedway

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Kaulig Racing announced Wednesday night the hauler for its No. 10 team was involved in an accident on the way to Kansas Speedway for Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.

Team president Chris Rice said in a statement released on social media that Kaulig’s two drivers for the hauler were alert and had been transported to a hospital for evaluation.

According to 13 WLOS, the accident occurred around 5 p.m. ET, and a state trooper said the truck’s driver and passenger were taken to Mission Hospital by ambulance with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

According to told Fox Carolina, the North Carolina Highway Patrol said the hauler was traveling westbound on I-40 in McDowell County when it went off the right side of the road near mile marker 93. It went through a guard rail and down an embankment before stopping in the woods.

Rice said the team still planned to field two cars in Saturday’s race.

Ross Chastain is entered in the No. 10 Chevrolet this weekend for his fifth start of the year with the team. Chastain was announced Tuesday as the full-time driver of the car next season.

Kaulig also will field the No. 11 Chevy of Justin Haley in Saturday’s race.

Silly Season scorecard: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finds new home in JTG Daugherty Racing

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was without a 2020 Cup ride for less than 25 days.

Only a few weeks after Roush Fenway Racing announced it was parting ways with Stenhouse in favor of Chris Buescher, Stenhouse has landed in Buescher’s old ride at JTG Daugherty Racing in a multi-year deal.

Stenhouse will have Ryan Preece as a teammate in his first full-time year with a new team in a decade.

Here are where things stand with Silly Season:

OPEN RIDES ANNOUNCED FOR 2020

No. 38: Front Row Motorsports must replace David Ragan, who stated Aug. 14 that 2019 would be his final season running a full schedule.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2020

No. 8: Richard Childress Racing made it official Oct. 2 that Tyler Reddick will move to Cup in 2020 and drive the No. 8 car.

No. 10: Aric Almirola confirmed Oct. 11 he signed an extension to race for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon posted a video Sept. 6 on Instagram refuting rumors that he would retire after this season. He has a contract with Germain Racing through 2020.

No. 17: Chris Buescher will take over the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 ride in 2020 after the team announced Sept. 25 that it would part ways with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after this season.

No. 20: Joe Gibbs Racing announced Sept. 6 that it had signed Erik Jones to an extension. It is a one-year extension for the 2020 season.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto replaces Paul Menard at Wood Brothers Racing (announcement made Sept. 10). DiBenedetto’s deal is for 2020 only.

No. 95: Christopher Bell moves to Cup in 2020 and will drive for Leavine Family Racing (announcement made Sept. 24).

JTG Daugherty Racing: It was announced Oct. 16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will join Ryan Reece at the two-car team, essentially swapping seats with Chris Buescher.

AMONG THOSE YET TO ANNOUNCE DEALS FOR 2020

Clint Bowyer His contract expires after this season with the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team. Take it whatever way you want but Bowyer stated Sept. 20 that he did a commercial shoot in September with Kevin Harvick for next season.

Kurt Busch His contract expires after this season. Car owner Chip Ganassi has suggested in media reports that a deal will be done. Busch declined to discuss much about his contract status before the Sept. 29 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, stating: “We haven’t really started talks. I felt like it was good to get the playoffs underway and go as far as we could comfortably. Man, there’s a lot going on and we’ll see how things play out. Again, it’s all about all the stars lining up with Chevrolet, Monster Energy, myself, Chip. For me, I feel like things haven’t progressed because of the focus on the playoffs.”

Daniel Suarez He has said that both he and the team have an option on his contract for next year. He has remained confident that he will return to Stewart-Haas Racing to drive the No. 41 car.

Xfinity Series

Ross Chastain – Kaulig Racing announced Oct. 15 he would compete full-time for the team in 2020 driving the No. 10 Chevrolet.

NASCAR America presents MotorMouths at 5 p.m. ET with Jimmie Johnson

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Seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is the guest of honor on this week’s episode of NASCAR America presents MotorMouths, which airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Johnson joins Marty Snider and Kyle Petty. Together they’ll discuss this week’s storylines and take fan phone calls.

You can call in at 844-NASCAR-NBC or reach out on Twitter via #LetMeSayThis.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Tanner Gray to make Truck Series debut at Martinsville

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Former NHRA Pro Stock champion Tanner Gray will make his Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut in the Oct. 26 race at Martinsville Speedway, DGR-Crosley announced Wednesday.

Gray, 20, will drive the No. 15 Toyota in the final three Truck Series races of the season.

This is Gray’s first season in NASCAR competition after also racing in super late models.

Gray competed full-time in the K&N Pro Series East this season for DGR-Crosley, where he earned one win, six top fives and nine top-10 finishes. He also claimed one pole on his way to finishing third in the point standings. He made three starts in the K&N West Series and earned two poles and three top fives.

MORE: Tanner Gray embracing NASCAR after drag racing career

“I’m excited to make the step up to the Truck Series,” Gray said in a press release. “I think it’s going to be challenging, but I’m ready to take the next step with my DGR-Crosley guys. We’ve been preparing for this all season, and I think the best way to learn is to go out and do it. Between testing and spending time in the Toyota simulator, I think I have a good feel for Martinsville and will be able to adapt quickly. We will have three practice sessions to get acclimated and get the truck where it needs to be. We just need to keep our nose clean in the race and have a solid day on pit road.”

Gray’s K&N team will make the transition to the Truck Series with him for the remainder of the season. Seth Smith will serve as crew chief duties while veteran Eddie D’Hondt will be his spotter.

“I’m really looking forward to Tanner’s Truck debut after the building season that he’s had,” Smith said in a press release. “He’s learned a lot from where he started at the beginning of the season to where he’s at now. We tested at Martinsville and I feel like we had a really successful test session.”