Kevin Harvick wins at Dover; Jimmie Johnson eliminated from Chase

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Facing likely elimination, Kevin Harvick did what he had to: he won Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway to advance to the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The defending Sprint Cup champion dominated, leading 355 of the event’s 400 laps. Kyle Busch finished second, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray and Aric Almirola.

“That guy in the seat brings us together and makes it happen,” winning crew chief Rodney Childers said of Harvick.

Sixth through 10th were Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson and Joey Logano.

The news was not so good for four other drivers, who became the first to be eliminated from further advancement in the Chase: six-time champ Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer

Johnson suffered a broken rear axle seal on Lap 104, requiring a complete repair of the rear axle assembly, costing him to miss 36 laps in the garage. He ultimately finished 41st in the race and missed advancing in the Chase by 12 points.

MORE: Results and stats for Sprint Cup’s AAA 400 at Dover

MORE: Driver points: Harvick, Earnhardt advance; Johnson, McMurray eliminated

How Harvick won: Sheer determination and unwavering confidence that he could get the job done led to Harvick’s first career win at Dover. After rough finishes at Chicagoland (42nd) and Loudon (21st), Harvick was focused on just one thing: winning – and he was not going to let anyone deny him. Pole-sitter Matt Kenseth led 24 laps before Harvick took over with unquestionably the best car in the field. Harvick did everything right, from restarts to quick pit stops to saving fuel when he needed it at times. It was Harvick’s first win since March at Phoenix. Now that he’s advanced to the second round of the Chase, don’t be surprised if there are more wins to come in the remaining seven races for the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.

Who else had a good day: Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third, which was a good day in and of itself. But in doing so, and keeping fourth-place finisher Jamie McMurray at bay, Earnhardt advanced to the second round by one point, while McMurray failed to advance. … Kyle Busch, who came into the race on the Chase bubble, also did what he needed to do by finishing second, thus advancing to the second round. Busch didn’t have a car to match Harvick for the win, but in this case, finishing runner-up didn’t necessarily make Busch the first loser, as Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights would say. … Aric Almirola earned his fourth top-11 finish in his last five races. … It was a good day overall for non-Chase drivers, with four finishing in the top-10: Almirola, Kahne, Stenhouse and Larson.

Who had a bad day: Obviously, Jimmie Johnson and the other three drivers who were eliminated from further advancement in the Chase — Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer — had among the worst days of all. … Jeb Burton wrecked on Lap 192 and had to make a quick exit after bringing the car to pit road after it caught fire. Burton was uninjured. … Paul Menard finished three laps out and was eliminated from the Chase. Menard and Jamie McMurray both made the Chase for the first time in their respective careers this season, and both were eliminated after the first round.

Notable: This is the first time in the last 12 races that neither a Joe Gibbs Racing nor a Penske Racing driver did not win. … Harvick’s team broke into a chant of “I believe that we can win” in victory lane. … Jimmie Johnson, who was eliminated from advancement in the Chase: “I’ve lost championships this way and I’ve won championships this way. It’s not the way we want to end this season, it’s unfortunate it turned out this way, but that’s racing, there’s not much we can do about it.” … Jamie McMurray tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the points, but because Earnhardt finished ahead of him in the race, McMurray was eliminated from advancing to the second round. “I’m thrilled with our performance today,” McMurray said. “It’s frustrating that we weren’t able to make it to the next round. We just needed one more point.”

Quote of the day, No. 1: “Obviously, we weren’t in a great position (coming into) today. But that’s what these guys are made of and what teamwork is all about.” – Race-winner Kevin Harvick.

Quote of the day, No. 2: “I think we’re better than we were last year just because of the experiences and things that we’ve had.” – Kevin Harvick, which could be a bad omen for his fellow Chase competitors going forward.

What’s next: After the first four drivers were eliminated at Dover, the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins the second round Saturday night Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Daytona road course entry lists

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NASCAR’s national series will make their debuts on the Daytona road course this weekend. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck events will be held without any practice or qualifying.

NASCAR is prohibiting drivers from competing in more than one series this weekend on the Daytona road course in an effort to get extra track time. NASCAR states that is to make the event fair for everyone.

Sunday’s Cup race will be broadcast on NBC.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for the races at the Daytona road course 

Cup – Go Bowling 235 (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC)

Thirty-nine drivers are entered for the race at the Daytona road course.

JJ Yeley is in the No. 27 for Rick Ware Racing.

Joey Gase is in the No. 51 for Petty Ware Racing.

Gray Gaulding is in the No. 53 for Rick Ware Racing.

Brendan Gaughan is in the No. 62 for Beard Motorsports.

Timmy Hill is in the No. 66 for Motorsports Business Management.

Reed Sorenson is in the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports.

Click here for Cup entry list

 

Xfinity – UNOH 188 (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-eight cars are entered.

Andy Lally is back in the No. 02 Our Motorsports car after finishing fifth last week at Road America.

AJ Allmendinger, who finished second last week at Road America, is in the No. 16 for Kaulig Racing.

IMSA driver Earl Bamber will make his Xfinity debut this weekend in the No. 21 for Richard Childress Racing.

Brandon Gdovic will make his second start of the season, driving the No. 26 for Sam Hunt Racing.

Click here for Xfinity entry list

 

Truck – Sunoco 159 (Noon ET Sunday on FS1)

Thirty-nine trucks are entered in the race that will be held before the Cup event on Sunday on the Daytona road course.

Alex Tagliani will drive the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Click here for Truck entry list

Silly Season Scorecard: Christopher Bell moves back to JGR

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No surprise that Christopher Bell moves over to the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing next season with Leavine Family Racing being sold and Erik Jones not remaining with JGR beyond this season. Joe Gibbs Racing made the announcement Monday.

While JGR lets the 24-year-old Jones, who has 133 Cup starts go, it brings in the 25-year-old Bell who has made 22 career Cup starts. Jones said before Sunday’s race he was “blindsided a little bit” by JGR’s move.

It’s part of the building momentum of Silly Season. In the last week, Team Penske signed Brad Keselowski to a reported one-year extension and Bubba Wallace said he has an offer for next year not only from Richard Petty Motorsports but also Chip Ganassi Racing.

Here’s how the Cup Silly Season scorecard looks as of Aug. 10.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2021

No. 00: Quin Houff enters the second year of his two-year deal with StarCom Racing.

No. 1: Kurt Busch enters the second year of a multi-year contract that Chip Ganassi Racing announced last season.

No. 2: Brad Keselowski and Team Penske announced a contract extension Aug. 3.

No. 4: Kevin Harvick signed a contract extension in February that will keep him at Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2023 season.

No. 8: Tyler Reddick said in a press conference Aug. 7 that he will be back with Richard Childress Racing next season.

No. 9: Chase Elliott is under contract with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2022 season.

No. 11: Denny Hamlin is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 12: Ryan Blaney and Team Penske announced a multi-year extension earlier this season.

No. 18: Kyle Busch is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell moves from Leavine Family Racing to take over this ride in 2021.

No. 22: Joey Logano is tied to Team Penske “through the 2022 season and beyond.”

No. 24: William Byron is under contact with Hendrick Motorsports through at least 2021.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. enters the second year of a multi-year deal with JTG Daugherty Racing.

No. 88: Alex Bowman will race for Hendrick Motorsports under a one-year contract extension announced earlier this year.

 

Available/possibly available rides

No. 10: Aric Almirola is in a contract year at Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon is in a contract year at Germain Racing.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer is in a contract year to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto is in a contract year at Wood Brothers Racing. He said after the Aug. 9 Michigan race: “I haven’t really talked about that stuff for next year yet, but we’ve just been so focused and head down on digging and trying to make the playoffs and run well. We haven’t even really talked about it, so, hopefully, I stay here for a very long time to come and that’s what they had expressed to me when I came over here.”

No. 32: Corey LaJoie is in a contract year at Go Fas Racing.

No. 42: Matt Kenseth told NBC Sports on Aug. 8 in regards to talks with Chip Ganassi Racing for next year: “We really haven’t had any very meaningful discussions really about any of that to be honest with you.

No. 43: Bubba Wallace said Aug. 9 he has an offer from Richard Petty Motorsports and an offer from Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the No. 42 car next season.

No. 48: With Jimmie Johnson retiring from full-time competition, Hendrick Motorsports has this seat to fill.

No. 95: Leavine Family Racing announced it was selling its assets earlier this week. The buyer has not been announced. Christopher Bell will move to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team for 2021.

Christopher Bell to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2021

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Christopher Bell will drive for the No. 20 next season for Joe Gibbs Racing, the team announced Monday, a decision that was expected with Erik Jones’ contract expiring after this season and it not being renewed. 

“I’m so appreciative of the opportunity I have this year with LFR and I want to finish this season strong for Bob (Leavine) and everyone there,” Bell said in a statement from the team. “At the same time, I’m extremely excited to return to Joe Gibbs Racing starting in 2021. It’s an organization I’m very comfortable with and have had a lot of success with.”

Said car owner Joe Gibbs: “We are excited to bring Christopher into our Cup Series program starting in 2021. He obviously had tremendous success in the Xfinity Series with us and we look forward to his return to JGR.”

Bell drove for JGR in in the Xfinity Series in 2018 and 2019, winning 15 races, before moving to the Cup Series and Leavine Family Racing this season. Leavine Family Racing announced last week that it has been sold.

Entering Sunday’s race at the Daytona International Speedway road course (3 p.m. ET on NBC), Bell is 19th in points. His best finish this season is fourth at the first Pocono race in late June.

Xfinity playoff grid after Road America

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Brandon Brown extended his hold on the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid last weekend at Road America after struggles early in the race.

Brown needed to be pushed back to pit road before the field took the green because of a mechanical issue. He fell a lap down as his crew diagnosed the issue, got his lap back, scored four stage points in the second stage and finished 12th, one spot off his best career finish on a road course.

MORE: Brandon Brown wants to reward father with a special celebration

MORE: Austin Cindric wins at Road America 

Brown’s effort and Jeremy Clements misfortune in being collected in a crash to finish 29th led to Brown extending his lead on Clements for the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid to 53 points. Myatt Snider is 73 points behind Brown. Eight races remain until the Xfinity playoffs begin Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Here is a look at the playoff grid. Drivers shaded in green are locked in the playoffs. Those shaded in yellow are in a playoff spot based on their point total. Drivers shaded in red are outside a spot in the Xfinity playoff grid.