Matt Crafton grabs fifth win of year at Martinsville

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Starting 13th in a race that featured 12 cautions didn’t keep Matt Crafton from winning the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway for his fifth victory of the season.

Crafton held off John Hunter Nemechek, teammate Cameron Hayley and Cole Custer in the final 63 laps to secure his second career win at the short track and his 10th Truck win overall.

It’s Crafton’s first win since July at Kentucky Speedway and comes after he ran out of gas in the final laps at Las Vegas while leading and crashed multiple times at Talladega.

“It’s been a very trying last two months,” Crafton told Fox Sports 1. “We weren’t that great on the short run and like I said I never give up on these guys, they just keep fine tuning and fine tuning.”

Crafton led the most laps at both Las Vegas and Talladega but couldn’t win. The two-time defending champion believes his truck wasn’t as good as the one that also started 13th in the spring race at Martinsville and led 100 laps before finishing second.

“I have no idea (how many) laps we led today but we led enough and led the right one,” Crafton said. “Finally we got to finish off what we started the last two weeks.”

Crafton trails Erik Jones by 10 points in the championship standings.

More: Race results

More: Point standings

HOW MATT CRAFTON WON: Crafton battled his way to the front after starting 13th and led the final 63 laps.

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Cole Custer started from the pole and led 96 laps before being called for speeding on pit road. The JR Motorsports drivers fought his way from the back of the pack to finish third … John Hunter Nemechek started third and led twice for 32 laps before finishing second for his sixth top five of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: It started early for Timothy Peters. The Talladega winner spun on his own in Turn 4 on Lap 8. On Lap 85, Peters fell off the pace on the frontstretch after accidentally hitting his kill switch and was spun by Dalton Sargeant in Turn 1. Sargeant again spun Peters on Lap 155 in Turn 4. Peters finished sixth … The second caution of the day came when Gray Gaulding spun Paige Decker in Turn 3 on Lap 61 … Lap 73 saw Erik Jones spin teammate Daniel Suarez in Turn 4 while running in seventh. Suarez would finish 16th … JJ Haley lost the brakes on his truck on Lap 121 and slammed into the Turn 1 wall. Haley finished last … On Lap 132, John Wes Townley lost his left-rear tire exiting Turn 2. The Las Vegas winner didn’t have any notable damage but finished 11th… Ray Black Jr. brought out the ninth caution with 29 laps left when he spun into the outside wall out of Turn 2 … Austin Cindric’s Truck debut ended in the wall with seven laps to go after he got stuck between two trucks, including points leader Erik Jones. Cindric finished 25th, the last driver on the lead lap.

NOTABLE: 12 cautions over 69 laps means more than 1/4th of the race was run under caution.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I knew I had to pace myself and save enough tires there at the end of the race so I could have some green-white-checkered speed there at the end, because we know that’s what it’s going to be about here.” Matt Crafton after leading the final 63 laps to win at Martinsville.

WHAT’S NEXT: WinStar World Casino 350k at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 6 at 8:30 pm ET on Fox Sports 1.

 

Kyle Busch feeling like ‘the new guy’ during his Rolex 24 debut at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch was looking forward to his first stint at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The two-time Cup champion was less enthused about his second turn behind the wheel in the IMSA season opener. Busch will climb back into the No. 14 Lexus RCF GT3 at 2 a.m. Sunday, just past the midpoint of the endurance race classic at Daytona International Speedway.

“That’s going to suck, yeah,” Busch deadpanned. “That’s exactly when I told them I did not want to run, and I got it.  Thank you very much.

“(I’m) the new guy.  I pulled the short straw.”

Click here to read more about how Busch felt about his AIM Vasser Sullivan car.

Kyle Larson has one last chance to rally for Australia title

Photo: Robert Lake Photography via Kyle Larson's official Twitter page
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The last week has been like the old Wide World of Sports slogan for Kyle Larson: namely, the thrill of victory followed by the agony of defeat.

After his triumphant win in the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Oklahoma last Saturday, it has been nothing but agony for the NASCAR Cup star since he flew across the Pacific Ocean to compete in several sprint car races in Australia.

Larson’s first race on Wednesday in the King’s Challenge at Borderline Speedway was rained out.

That agony continued for Larson Friday in the first of the three nights of the Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic in Warrnambool, Australia, the biggest race of the year down under.

First, he wrecked heavily, including flipping, in a heat race (he was uninjured). After making repairs, he went back out on-track in another heat race, only to suffer a blown engine that knocked him out of contention to race in that evening’s feature event.

In Night 2 of the Classic on Saturday, Larson did not compete, leaving him to serve as a cheerleader for fellow American and teammate Carson Macedo, who finished 14th out of 20 drivers in the 30-lap main event.

Not being able to compete was a disappointment for Larson, who was one of the top-billed drivers taking part in the overall three-day Classic.

Larson will have one last chance to make Sunday’s featured championship event — but he’ll need a lot of luck and good fortune on his side. There will be several heat races that will whittle the top 48 drivers from each qualifying event to determine the top 16 in points who will compete in the A Main championship event.

There are 80 other drivers — including Larson — still left to compete in the B, C and D Mains who will also try to race their way into the A Main.

Larson currently sits tied for 77th place in the combined point standings in the 107-car field. Meanwhile, sitting 19th in the combined points, Macedo is the highest-ranked American driver heading into Sunday’s finale.

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Hailie Deegan on IMSA debut: ‘I’m not mad. I’m gaining experience’

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The first day of Hailie Deegan’s foray into sports car racing was one with mixed results.

Deegan and teammate, NASCAR Xfinity driver Chase Briscoe, finished 43rd of 51 teams that were entered in Friday’s Michelin Pilot Challenge at Daytona International Speedway.

Deegan ran as high as 15th before the car experienced mechanical issues roughly three hours into the four-hour event, and it was brought in to be worked on for the remaining time.

Deegan and Briscoe were in the No. 22 Multimatic Motorsports Inc. Ford GT4, which ran a total of 86 laps. One other NASCAR driver, Xfinity pilot Austin Cindric, was teamed with Seb Priaulx in the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Inc. Ford Mustang GT4, and together they finished 45th, completing 78 laps.

One other name of note was IndyCar driver Gabby Chaves, who finished 28th (completed 107 laps).

The fastest team in the field was Dylan Murry, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Jim Cox, who collectively ran the entire 110 laps.

While her team continued to work on the car in the garage, Deegan visited the infield media center to speak about her first race experience in an IMSA sports car.

I feel like I just gained a lot of experience,” Deegan said. “I’m here to gain experience after that three-day road test, coming here and practicing for two days.

“I just feel like I know a lot more about racing than I did before. And that’s why I’m here and supposed to be doing.”

The biggest challenge, Deegan said, was the large number of cars she had to compete against.

“The traffic is a little difficult to deal with; it’s not bad, though,” Deegan said. “It makes it fun. It makes it interesting. You constantly have to be on your toes.

“What I like about sports car racing is how many of the points you have to remember in your head. You get a little distracted for a second, and the next thing you know, you overdrive the corner that kind of laps into the next corner.

“So there’s constantly so much going on, you have to be on top of your game.”

While she would have liked to have more time on track had it not been for the mechanical issue, Deegan was philosophical about how the day played out.

“I’m not mad, I’m gaining experience,” she said. “That’s what I’m here to do.”

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DC Solar founders to plead guilty to charges related to $1 billion Ponzi scheme

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Thirteen months after the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service raided the headquarters of DC Solar and the home of its founders, Jeff and Paulette Carpoff, the couple has entered plea agreements related to a $1 billion Ponzi scheme, the impact of which saw Chip Ganassi Racing close its Xfinity Series program in 2019.

Jeff Carpoff has agreed to plead guilty to one count each of wire fraud and money laundering while Paulette Carpoff will plead guilty to one count each of conspiracy and money laundering.

According to the plea agreements filed with the Eastern District of California, the government will recommend an initial sentence of 30 years in prison for Jeff Carpoff and 15 years for Paulette Carpoff prior to any co-operation they provide with the case.

The agreement outlines a Ponzi scheme that operated from March 2011 to December 2018, ending with the raids on the Carpoff’s residence in Martinez, California, and DC Solar’s headquarters in Benicia, California.

DC Solar was a company that built and leased solar energy equipment and also sponsored Chip Ganassi Racing in the Cup and Xfinity Series. It was the primary or co-primary sponsor for Kyle Larson in 16 Cup races and for three races with Jamie McMurray in 2018. It also sponsored 10 Xfinity races with Ganassi and announced in November 2018 it would sponsor Ross Chastain’s full-time ride in 2019.

It also sponsored Xfinity Series races in 2018 at Phoenix Raceway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the infield “FanGrounds” at Richmond Raceway.

In the wake of the raids and the company filing for bankruptcy in January 2019, CGR was forced to close its Xfinity operation.

During the nearly eight-year scheme, the plea agreement says the Carpoffs used the money generated from it to buy their NASCAR sponsorships, 150 luxury and collectible vehicles and luxury real estate in Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, the Caribbean and Mexico.

They also purchased a suite at a professional football stadium, a subscription private jet service, the Martinez (California) Clippers minor league baseball team and a 2018 performance by an internationally known rapper at a company holiday party.

Funds were also used to make illicit payments to their co-conspirators and others.

As part of their respective plea agreements, the Carpoffs have agreed to pay restitution to their victims, totaling between $800 million and $1.6 billion.