Kyle Busch earns best finish in Daytona 500 a year after missing race


A year ago, Kyle Busch was forced to watch the Daytona 500 from a hospital bed near Daytona International Speedway, one day after injuring both legs in a crash in the Xfinity Series season opener.

Sunday, Busch made his 11th start in the Sprint Cup Series’ season-opening event, and wound up with a third-place finish, the closest he’s ever been to winning the Great American Race.

“It’s definitely a lot better being in the race where I’m supposed to be rather than on the sidelines watching across the street,” Busch said. “Three hundred and sixty-five days later, this could have gone two spots better and it would have been crazy to think of where we were. But we finished third. It’s my best finish in the Daytona 500 thus far. We’ll take that.”

The defending Sprint Cup champion’s best previous finish in the 500 was fourth in 2008.

Busch addressed the game plan that had all five Joe Gibbs Racing associated cars, including Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr., in the top five in the closing laps.

“I would just say it was more willingness of working together than it was dominance of our race cars,” Busch said. “I think us working together was the biggest motivating factor of us being up front most of the day.”

Joe Gibbs Racing’s cars led 154 of the 200 laps with winner Denny Hamlin leading 95. Busch led 19 laps three days after winning the second Can-Am Duel qualifying race.

Busch was the third car in line as the field filed into Turns 3 and 4 for the last time. Matt Kenseth led, followed by Truex, Busch and the beat-up car of Carl Edwards. Hamlin led the outside line with Kevin Harvick on his bumper.

That the JGR army was still intact at such a late point surprised Busch.

“I figured it was five to go that it was every man for himself,” Busch said. “So I still stuck in line there and was trying to continue to stay on the bottom. I didn’t know if the outside was ever going to get going. They haven’t in a long time throughout the day. There were some things that were kind of transpiring on the bottom.”

The outside finally got going in the middle of the Turn 4. As Hamlin neared Kenseth darted out to block the No.11. It didn’t work out. Hamlin moved to the left to split Kenseth and Truex, then Kenseth nearly lost control in his effort to keep his teammate behind him.

“I wasn’t sure we were all going to make it through there with as dicey as it got,” Busch said.

But Busch and the rest of the field survived unscathed to jockey for position over the final 500 yards of the race, giving Busch little time to make a move.

“Once (Hamlin) did it, I swore I thought about doing it,” Busch said. “Once I thought about doing it and didn’t do it, it was too late. That was it. You can’t think that long and not make the move at the same time.”

He was left to watch Hamlin, who was also making his 11th start in the Daytona 500 and was also just months removed from offseason surgery, claim his first Daytona 500 win.

“So I missed my opportunity,” Busch said.

NASCAR Cup playoff standings after Coca-Cola 600


The severe penalty to Chase Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team Wednesday for a counterfeit part dropped Briscoe from 17th to 31st in the season standings. Briscoe now must win a race to have a chance at the playoffs.

The penalty came a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for his retaliation in wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott is 28th in the points. The 2020 Cup champion also needs to win to have a chance to make the playoffs.

Ten drivers have won races, including Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney. That leaves six playoff spots to be determined by points at this time. With 12 races left in the regular season, including unpredictable superspeedway races at Atlanta (July 9) and Daytona (Aug. 26), the playoff standings will change during the summer.

Among those without a win this season are points leader Ross Chastain and former champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Elliott.

Here’s a look at the Cup playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Drivers in yellow have won a race and are in a playoff position. Those below the red line after 16th place are outside a playoff spot in the graphic below.

NASCAR issues major penalties to Chase Briscoe team for Charlotte infraction


NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for a counterfeit part on the car.

The issue was a counterfeit engine NACA duct, said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on Wednesday. That is a single-source part.

MORE: Updated Cup playoff standings

The team stated that it accepts the L3 penalty.

“We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte,” said Greg Zipadelli in a statement from the team. “We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”

Asked how then piece could have aided performance, Sawyer said Wednesday: “Knowing the race team mentality, they don’t do things that would not be a benefit to them in some way, shape or form from a performance advantage.”

The penalty drops Briscoe from 17th in the season standings to 31st in the standings. Briscoe goes from having 292 points to having 172 points. He’ll have to win to make the playoffs. Briscoe has no playoff points at this time, so the penalty puts him at -25 playoff points should he make it.

Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.

The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.



Drivers to watch at World Wide Technology Raceway


After the fireworks from the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR heads to World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile speedway just outside of St. Louis. Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1) marks the second time the Cup Series has raced at this track.

Much is at stake. The race to win the regular season championship has intensified. Tempers are high. The pressure to make the playoffs builds. Ten drivers have wins this season. Twelve races remain in the regular season.


Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 11th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Richmond, Martinsville)
  • Past at WWTR: 12th last year

While a driver coming off back-to-back finishes of 20th or worse might not seem like a frontrunner, it actually does make Larson one. His topsy-turvy season has seen him place outside the top 10 in back-to-back races four times. In the three previous times he had consecutive finishes outside the top 10, he came back to finish second, first and second. Can he keep that streak going this weekend?

Bubba Wallace

  • Points position: 15th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Las Vegas I, Kansas I, Coca-Cola 600)
  • Past at WWTR: 26th last year

Wallace has scored three consecutive top-five finishes, his best streak in his Cup career. He has climbed from 21st to 15th in the standings during this run.

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Darlington I)
  • Past at WWTR: 19th last year

Byron has finished no worse than seventh in the last five races. He’s led nearly 20% of the laps run during that time. Byron has averaged nearly 47 points a race during that streak.


Corey LaJoie

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Atlanta I)
  • Past at WWTR: 36th last season

NASCAR’s one-race suspension to Chase Elliott gives LaJoie the chance to drive a Hendrick Motorsports car for the first time. This will be the best car LaJoie has driven in his career. Many eyes will be on him to see how he does.

Ross Chastain

Chastain has finished 29th and 22nd in the last two points races. He’s not gone more than three races without a top-10 finish this season. After his struggles last weekend at Charlotte, Chastain saw his lead cut to one point over Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney in the standings. Five drivers are within 17 points of Chastain in the season standings.

Aric Almirola

  • Points position: 26th
  • Best finish this season: 6th (Martinsville I)
  • Past at WWTR: 5th last year

Almirola has finished 13th or worse in all but one race this season for Stewart-Haas Racing. In the five races since placing sixth at Martinsville, Almirola has finished an average of 21.0.