After falling short 30 times, Kyle Busch wins for first time at Martinsville

(Getty Images)

After 30 combined starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (21), Xfinity Series (1) and Camping World Truck Series (8), Kyle Busch finally reached victory lane at Martinsville Speedway.

Making his first start of the 2016 season in the Truck series, Busch dominated by leading 123 laps of the 255-lap event (five laps past the scheduled 250) to win Saturday’s Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville Speedway.

After earning his first grandfather clock for winning at Martinsville, Busch now sets his sights for a second clock and a weekend sweep in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race, the STP 500.

Despite not having pitted since Lap 135, Busch got a great jump on the final restart, pulling away from John Hunter Nemechek and coasted to the victory.

The race was red-flagged for more than 8 minutes with 14 laps remaining following a multi-truck crash that involved Christopher Bell and Cole Custer and several others whose trucks suffered damage but were able to continue.

Just a few laps after the restart, another big wreck occurred that involved Tyler Reddick, Justin Haley, Ben Rhodes, Ben Kennedy, Daniel Suarez and others, once again bringing out the red flag on Lap 246.

That would wind up extending the race past its scheduled 250 laps, ultimately becoming an event that went five laps into overtime.

It was Busch’s 45th career win in the Truck Series. He’s also the third different winner in the series this year, following Johnny Sauter’s win at Daytona and Nemechek’s win three weeks ago at Atlanta.

“We were so on way old tires than he (Busch) was,” Nemechek said. “We had one one more set of stickers in the pits and were hoping for a caution, but we had to stay out for track position.

“We brought it home P2, one short, but we’ll get ‘em (in the next race) at Kansas.”

MORE: Results from Alpha Energy Solutions 200

MORE: Nemechek takes over top spot in Truck standings

HOW BUSCH WON: Dominance, plain and simple. Would you expect anything else from Busch and Kyle Busch Motorsports/Joe Gibbs Racing? While it was a concern that Busch had 117 laps on his tires when the final restart began, the defending Sprint Cup champion drove as if he had fresh rubber, pulling away from runner-up John Hunter Nemechek.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Rookie and Busch’s teammate, William Byron, finished third, followed by Kyle Larson and Timothy Peters. … Rookie Rico Abreu, who got some prerace advice in person and some in-race advice over the team radio from three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, finished 10th. … Parker Kligerman continues to have a good season, finishing eighth.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: On Lap 42, Johnny Sauter wrecked, doing serious damage to the right front of his truck. Sauter was running second at the time when it appeared his right-front tire blew out, sending him crashing into the outside wall. His truck was unable to be repaired, leaving Sauter in last with an uncharacteristic 32nd-place finish. … Another GMS Racing truck wrecked on Lap 92 when Kaz Grala spun and hit the Turn 4 wall hard and did not return to the race. … Spencer Gallagher got spun by Ryan Truex on Lap 134 but sustained only minor damage. Gallagher was spun again on Lap 172 in a crash that collected Spencer Boyd and Cole Custer, whose truck suffered moderate front-end damage. … Christopher Bell spun Cole Custer, whose truck was destroyed in a multi-vehicle wreck. Bell was able to continue on despite the damage.

NOTABLE: With the exception of Watkins Glen, Busch has won at every track that the Truck Series visits. … This was the first Truck race after a three-week layoff. The series is off again for more than a month before its next race on May 6. … Sisters Paige Decker, making her second career Truck start, and Claire Decker, making her Truck series debut, finished 25th and 27th Cousin Natalie failed to qualify for her first Truck series start.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “This is a day we’ve been looking for a long, long time. … We just dumbed into this, and it all worked out. It’s neat to win here at Martinsville.” – Kyle Busch

WHAT’S NEXT: The next Truck Series race is Friday, May 6, under the lights (8:30 p.m. ET start) at Kansas Speedway in the Toyota Tundra 250.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Helio Castroneves rules out Daytona 500

Helio Castroneves Daytona 500
Robert Scheer/Indy Star/USA TODAY NETWORK

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Helio Castroneves might be at the 2023 Daytona 500, but the four-time Indy 500 winner won’t be in a race car.

During a news conference Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, Castroneves confirmed in response to a question from NBC Sports that he essentially has ruled out attempting to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the Feb. 19 season opener.

As recently as last Thursday at Rolex 24 Media Day, Castroneves, 47, said he still was working on trying to piece together a deal.

The Brazilian had been negotiating with the Cup team co-owned by boxer Floyd Mayweather and would have been in an “open” entry that lacked guaranteed entry to the Great American Race. That potentially would leave him in the precarious position of needing to make the race on qualifying speed or a qualifying race finish (as action sports star Travis Pastrana likely might need in his Cup debut).

DETAILS FOR THE 61ST ROLEX 24How to watch, entry lists, schedules for the IMSA season opener

HELIO’S ‘DAYS OF THUNDER’ MOMENT: Recalling a memorable 2022 victory drive through the smoke

“Unfortunately for me, lack of experience, no testing,” Castroneves said. “A lot of things. I believe it would be a little bit tough throwing myself in such a short notice, and to go in a place that you’ve got to race yourself into it. So as of right now, yes, it’s not going to happen.

“But we did have an opportunity. We just got to elaborate a little bit more to give me a little more experience on that. So there is more things to come ahead of us, but as of right now, I want to focus on the IndyCar program as well and (the Rolex 24 at Daytona).”

Castroneves, who has a residence in Key Biscayne, said he still might attend the Daytona 500

“I might just come and see and watch it and continue to take a look and see what’s going to be in the future,” he said.

Castroneves enters Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona having won the event the past two years. He made his signature fence-climb after winning last year with Meyer Shank Racing, which he will be driving for full time in the NTT IndyCar Series this year. He became the fourth four-time Indy 500 winner in history in his 2021 debut with Meyer Shank Racing.

The 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champion also has indicated an interest in Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 car that aims to place international drivers in a Cup ride (such as Kimi Raikkonen at Watkins Glen International last year). Team co-owner Justin Marks recently tweeted Trackhouse wouldn’t field the Project 91 car at the Daytona 500.

After winning the 2022 Superstar Racing Experience opener, SRX CEO Don Hawk had promised he would help secure a Daytona 500 ride for Castroneves.

Castroneves has been angling for a NASCAR ride for years, dating to when he drove for Team Penske from 2000-20. After winning the Rolex 24 last year, he said he had been lobbying Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart for help with getting in a Cup car.

Though Castroneves is out, Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern reported that Mayweather’s The Money Team Racing still is considering IndyCar driver Conor Daly for its seat.

Fire at Reaume Brothers Racing shop injures three


A Thursday fire at the Reaume Brothers Racing shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, injured three individuals, according to Mooresville (North Carolina) Fire-Rescue.

Firefighters were dispatched to the shop, which is scheduled to field entries for driver Mason Massey in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this season, at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

The fire department extinguished the blaze quickly. The department stated on its Facebook page that one individual was transported to Lake Norman Regional hospital for smoke inhalation, and another was transported to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. with burn injuries. A third was treated and released.

The team stated Thursday night on social media that Taylor Collier and Devin Fokin had been treated and released. The team stated that Taylor was treated for smoke inhalation and Fokin was treated “for serious burns.”

The Mooresville Fire Marshall’s office is investigating the cause of the fire. The fire department said the shop sustained “significant fire damage.”

In a tweet, the team said it is determining the extent of damage to the building. “More importantly,” it said, “a few of our team members did sustain injuries during the fire and are being transported for medical treatment.”


Trackhouse, RFK Racing, Front Row Motorsports sign sponsorship deals


Trackhouse Racing, RFK Racing and Front Row Motorsports announced sponsorship deals Thursday morning.

Trackhouse said WWEX, a Dallas-based global logistics group, will increase its sponsorship presence with the team this year, serving as the primary sponsor in 21 races for drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez.

WWEX will appear on Chastain’s Chevrolets in 19 races and will sponsor Suarez twice. The organization was a Trackhouse sponsor in 11 events in 2022, which was a breakout season for both Chastain and Suarez.

RFK announced that Solomon Plumbing, which joined the team last season, will expand its presence this season and in future years. The Michigan-based company will serve as the primary sponsor for several races on driver Brad Keselowski‘s No. 6 Ford.

MORE: Chase Briscoe signs contract extension with Stewart-Haas

Solomon specializes in plumbing and fire services for new development and construction. It initially sponsored Keselowski last season in the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Front Row Motorsports has signed Quincy Compressor, a Bay Minette, Ala.-based compressor manufacturer, as a sponsor for four races.

Quincy will sponsor Todd Gilliland‘s No. 38 team in three events and Michael McDowell‘s No. 34 team in one race.



Stewart-Haas Racing signs Chase Briscoe to contract extension


Chase Briscoe has signed a multiyear contract extension to remain at Stewart-Haas Racing, the team announced Thursday.

The length of the deal was not announced.

MORE: A better way to determine the Cup champion?

Briscoe is entering his third Cup season with the team. He won his first series race last year, taking the checkered flag at Phoenix last March. That victory put him in the playoffs. He finished the season ninth in the standings. 

“It’s huge to have stability, with my team and my partner,” Briscoe said in a statement from the team. “It just gives you more confidence. Stewart-Haas Racing is where I want to be for a long time. It’s the place I’ve known longer than anywhere else in my NASCAR career.

“I remember getting signed by Ford in 2017 and I told people, ‘You know, if I could pick one place to be, it would be Stewart- Haas Racing. And if I could drive one car, it would be the 14 car. That would be the ultimate dream.’ And now, here I am.

“SHR has such a great group of people, from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series, and they’ve all just guided me in the right direction. From drivers to crew chiefs to crew members, they’ve always had my back, and that’s been a huge help – just having people believe in you.”

The 28-year-old Briscoe has been with SHR since 2018. He split a limited Xfinity schedule that season between what is now RFK Racing and SHR. He ran full time with SHR in the Xfinity Series in 2019 and ’20 before moving to Cup in 2021.

“Chase has made the most of every opportunity and the proof is in the results. Keeping him at SHR was a priority and we’re proud to have him in our racecars for many more years to come,” said Tony Stewart, who co-owns SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, in a statement from the team. 

Briscoe’s signing comes two weeks after teammate Kevin Harvick announced that this will be his final season in Cup. 

The Cup season begins Feb. 5 with the Busch Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before going to Daytona for the Feb. 19 Daytona 500.