Gordon wins at Martinsville; Logano last in points after Kenseth wreck

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Cast YOUR vote: What should NASCAR do with Matt Kenseth?

Jeff Gordon added to his legacy at Martinsville Speedway, winning there Sunday for the ninth time in his career by capturing the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500.

It was the first win of 2015 for Gordon and gives him an automatic berth in the final four-driver round in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway three weeks from now.

In addition to earning his 93rd career Sprint Cup win, Gordon, who also assumed the points lead in the Sprint Cup standings, is now the winningest active driver at the paper clip short track, breaking a former tie with teammate Jimmie Johnson. Richard Petty remains the all-time record holder with 15 career wins there.

Jamie McMurray finished second, followed by five-time Martinsville winner Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch.

Several of the eight remaining Chase drivers had rough days and find themselves in trouble after the first of the three races in Round 3. That list includes Penske Racing teammates Joey Logano, who is unofficially last in the eight-driver Chase standings, 38 points behind Gordon. Also taking big hits in the points were Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski (sixth place, 34 points back), as well as Kurt Busch (seventh, 36 points back).

Just as big of a story as Gordon winning was Matt Kenseth putting Logano into the wall on Lap 454. Logano was attempting to lap Kenseth when the contact occurred.

Both cars suffered heavy damage. Kenseth’s car was unable to be repaired, while Logano came back on-track with four laps remaining. Being unable to get back in the race was problematic for Kenseth, as NASCAR ruled he would be parked if he could get his car restarted.

Although Kenseth said over his team radio that he believed his right front tire blew out, an argument could be made Kenseth’s actions were payback for when Logano wrecked Kenseth at Kansas two races ago.

Kenseth, crew chief Jason Ratcliff and team owner Joe Gibbs were summoned to the NASCAR hauler after the race.

“It was just a complete coward move,” Logano, who finished 37th, said of Kenseth on NBCSN. “It’s a chicken you-know-what move to completely take the leader when your race is over. We’ll move on, we’re going to work hard.”

Kenseth replied to NBCSN, “I got outside of Joey and was going to race him for the win. Brad wiped me out for some reason. I’m not really sure why. We had so much damage on the right front, I probably should have just put it in the garage. I got into (turn) one and couldn’t get it to turn and ran Joey over. Disappointing end for sure. … Some days you’re the bat, some day’s you’re the ball. It’s never any fun when you’re the ball.”

Kenseth waved to the crowd after drawing a large round of applause when he climbed from his wrecked car. Logano, meanwhile, received some cheers as well, but not to the extent of Kenseth.

MORE: Stats and results for Sprint Cup race at Martinsville

MORE: Gordon leads Sprint Cup standings; Truex, Kyle Busch tied for second

How Gordon won: When Logano was taken out by Kenseth, Gordon had the best car for the remainder of the race. Jamie McMurray gave Gordon a strong battle in the closing laps, but Gordon was not to be denied.

Who else had a good race: This was arguably the best race of the season for McMurray. To his credit, he raced Gordon hard and clean. … Even though they were both eliminated from the Chase last week at Talladega, Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. both had late rallies to finish third and fourth, respectively. … Chase driver Carl Edwards battled overheating issues after being involved in a multi-car wreck and suffered significant front end damage, but still managed to rally late to finish 14th. … Tony Stewart had one of his best finishes of the season, rallying back with a back-up car to finish 10th.

Who had a bad race: Greg Biffle was involved in at least four incidents in the race, including three spins. He finished 26th. … Danica Patrick ran as high as the top 10 before she was involved in wrecks with Clint Bowyer and then David Gilliland. She finished 40th. … Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hit the wall hard just short of the one-fourth point of the race, suffering heavy damage to the right front end of his Ford. Stenhouse finished 39th. … Former Chaser Clint Bowyer was involved in a heavy wreck about one-third of the way through and finished 43rd. … Brad Keselowski (finished 32nd) and Kurt Busch (finished 34th) saw strong days come to an end on Lap 434 when Keselowski made contact with Kenseth, who then pushed Busch into the inside retaining wall.

Notable: Gordon celebrated in victory lane with children Ella and Leo and wife Ingrid, showing emotion that arguably hasn’t been seen since his fourth and last Sprint Cup championship in 2001. Gordon laughed, cheered and even held back tears. He even joked, “I’m coming back next year,” even though he acknowledged shortly after that he will not change his plans to retire at season’s end. … To illustrate how big of a finish this was, many of the race fans in attendance stayed after the race to watch all of the post-race celebrations. “I can’t wait to wake up from this dream I’m in and know when I stand next to that (grandfather’s clock) that it really did happen,” Gordon said.

Quote of the day: “We’re going to Homestead! What an incredible battle that was. We just stuck with it all day long. … Jamie McMurray raced me hard and clean. What a battle. We seized an opportunity there. … This has turned into a fairytale year.” – Race winner Jeff Gordon on not only winning his first victory of 2015, but also gaining an automatic berth for the season-ending and championship-deciding race at Homestead in three weeks.

What’s next: AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, Nov. 8 at Texas Motor Speedway, the eighth of 10 races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

AJ Allmendinger to return to NASCAR Cup Series in 2023

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AJ Allmendinger is getting another shot at success in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Kaulig Racing announced Wednesday that Allmendinger, currently chasing the Xfinity Series championship, will drive full-time in Kaulig entries in the Cup Series next season.

Allmendinger raced in Cup from 2007 to 2018 but won only one time — at Watkins Glen International — across those years. He moved to the Xfinity Series part-time with Kaulig in 2019, winning on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. He won twice in 2020 and five times in 2021 and is a favorite to win the Xfinity championship this year. He has won four Xfinity races this season, including last Sunday at Talladega.

MORE: Hailie Deegan to make Xfinity debut at Las Vegas

Allmendinger, 40, will drive Kaulig’s No. 16 car in Cup next year. Justin Haley will drive the team’s No. 31.

Chandler Smith will replace Allmendinger in the Xfinity Series next year.

“It’s crazy how the last five years of my life have gone,” Allmendinger said. “More than anything, I love this organization. I know the fans get tired of me talking about all the men and women of Kaulig Racing. This is not a race team. This is a huge family.

“There will be tough times and growing pains, for sure. But I love what they’re about, and they believe in me. I’ll be OK whether it’s good or bad.”

MORE: Chase Elliott atop NASCAR Power Rankings

Team owner Matt Kaulig said Allmendinger is “one of the best in the world at every type of track. He’s done so much for Kaulig Racing and our program. He’s a gigantic part of what we’re building.”

Team officials said Allmendinger has a multi-year contract.

 

 

 

 

 

NASCAR viewer’s guide for Charlotte Roval

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Sunday provides a final chance for drivers to advance to the Round of 8 and keep their Cup championship hopes alive.

Talladega winner Chase Elliott is the only driver who has advanced to the next round. That leaves seven spots available going into Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Chase Briscoe holds the final transfer spot by a tiebreaker over Austin Cindric. At least for now.

William Byron is 11 points behind both drivers, but Hendrick Motorsports will appeal Byron’s 25-point penalty from Texas on Thursday. Should Hendrick win and Byron get those points back, he would move into a transfer spot.

There’s just part of what to watch for in Sunday’s race.

Favorites to be No. 20

This season remains tied for the most different winners in series history at 19, but there are a few candidates who could become the 20th different winner this year on Sunday.

Among the favorites to do so:

Ryan Blaney, who came close to winning last week at Talladega, won the inaugural Cup race at the Roval in 2018.

Martin Truex Jr., who has four career Cup wins on road courses, still seeks his first victory of the season.

Michael McDowell, who is coming off a third-place finish at Talladega, has had a career-high 12 top-10 finishes this season, including top 10s in each of the last four road course events this year.

Will history repeat?

Last year, the four drivers eliminated after the Roval were Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell and William Byron.

Harvick was eliminated in the first round this year, but Byron (-11 to the cutline) and Bell (-33) are in jeopardy of being eliminated in this round again. Bowman stated Tuesday that he will miss his second consecutive race because of continued concussion symptoms. He will be among the four eliminated from title contention.

Bowman missed last weekend’s race because of concussion-like symptoms suffered at Texas. A decision on if he’ll be able to race at the Roval will come later this week.

Will chaos continue?

Consider what some of the former Roval winners have endured on their way to the checkered flag:

In 2019, Chase Elliott drove into the Turn 1 wall on a restart while the leader. He recovered to win.

In 2020, Elliott overcame a loose wheel to win for the second year in a row.

In 2021, Kyle Larson won after his team changed batteries and put the alternator belt back on.

Could a similar fate be in store for this year’s winner? Or will they have a cleaner day?

Entry lists

Thirty-nine drivers are entered including IndyCar driver Conor Daly, former Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat, former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller and former 24 Hours of Daytona winner Joey Hand. JJ Yeley will drive the No. 51 for Cody Ware, who stated that he would skip this event because of his ankle injury at Texas the footwork needed on a road course.

Charlotte Roval Cup entry list

The Xfinity entry list includes 41 drivers for 38 spots. Among those joining the series regulars are IndyCar driver Marco Andretti and former F1 driver Daniil Kvyat.

Charlotte Roval Xfinity entry list

This week’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Saturday, Oct. 8

Forecast: Partly cloudy with a high of 66 degrees. No chance of rain during the Xfinity race.

  • 10 – 10:30 a.m. — Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)
  • 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. — Xfinity qualifying (NBC Sports App)
  • 12 – 1 p.m. — Cup practice (NBC Sports App, USA Network coverage begins at 12:30 p.m.)
  • 1 – 2 p.m. — Cup qualifying (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
  • 3 p.m. — Xfinity race (67 laps, 155.44 miles; NBC, Peacock, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 9

Forecast: Sunny with a high of 64 degrees. No chance of rain during the race.

  • 2 p.m. — Cup race (109 laps, 252.88 miles; NBC, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

Hailie Deegan to make Xfinity debut at Las Vegas

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Hailie Deegan announced Tuesday that she will make her Xfinity Series debut Oct. 15 Las Vegas Motor Speedway on NBC and Peacock.

The 21-year-old Deegan is in her second full-time season in the Camping World Truck Series. She finished a career-high sixth in that series last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

She will drive the No. 07 car for SS Green Light Racing with Jeff Lefcourt.

 

 

Alex Bowman to miss Charlotte Roval race

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Alex Bowman announced Tuesday night on social media that he will sit out this weekend’s Cup playoff race at the Charlotte Roval.

Bowman said on social media: “I am continuing to make strides in my recovery to make sure I can return to competition at 100%.”

This will be the second consecutive race he will have missed because of concussion-like symptoms after his crash at Texas Motor Speedway.

Noah Gragson will drive the No. 48 car this weekend for Bowman.

“Alex’s health is our first priority,” said Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports, in a statement. “We’re focused on supporting his recovery and seeing him back in his race car when the time is right. Alex has a long career ahead of him, so we will invest the necessary time and take our guidance from medical experts. We’re putting no pressure on him to return before he’s 100% ready.”

Bowman will be one of the four drivers eliminated from title contention Sunday.

Also Tuesday, Cody Ware announced that he will sit out this weekend’s Cup race at the Charlotte Roval, as he continues to recover from the ankle injury he suffered at Texas.