Upon Further Review: Kansas

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Ryan Blaney’s fifth-place finish Saturday night at Kansas Speedway marked the fourth time in the last five races that a rookie has placed in the top five.

The streak started at Texas with Chase Elliott finishing fifth. Elliott was fourth at Bristol. No rookie was in the top five at Richmond (Elliott was the top rookie, placing 12th). Elliott placed fifth at Talladega, while Blaney was ninth. And then Kansas.

“When you can run with the best guys, you learn a lot,’’ Blaney said. “That was a great learning experience.”

Elliott has seven top-10 finishes to lead all Hendrick Motorsports drivers. He also has three top-five finishes. Blaney has one top-five and four top-10 finishes for the Wood Brothers this season.

Kyle Busch’s victory not only was his series-high third win of the year but also tied him with Tony Stewart for career victories at Joe Gibbs Racing with 33.

That ranks sixth among current teams in most wins with the same organization. Jeff Gordon is first with all 93 of his Sprint Cup victories at Hendrick Motorsports.

Stewart is the only driver who either has or is tied for the most wins at more than one organization. He also has the most wins at Stewart-Haas Racing with 15.

Here’s a look at the current Sprint Cup teams and the driver with the most wins at that organization.

Chip Ganassi Racing — Jamie McMurray … 5 wins

Front Row Motorsports — David Ragan … 1 win

Furniture Row Racing — Regan Smith and Martin Truex Jr. … 1 win

Hendrick Motorsports — Jeff Gordon … 93 wins

Joe Gibbs Racing — Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch … 33 wins

JTG Daugherty — A.J. Allmendinger … 1 win

Richard Childress Racing — Dale Earnhardt … 67 wins

Richard Petty Motorsports — Marcos Ambrose and Kasey Kahne … 2 wins

Roush Fenway Racing — Mark Martin … 35 wins

Stewart-Haas Racing — Tony Stewart … 15 wins

Team Penske — Rusty Wallace … 37 wins

Wood Brothers Racing — David Pearson … 43 wins

Denny Hamlin nearly has equaled the number of speeding penalties he had last year with 25 races remaining in the Sprint Cup season.

Hamlin’s two speeding penalties Saturday at Kansas give him six for the season. He had seven last year.

While Brad Keselowski rallied from a speeding penalty to win at Las Vegas, 15.2 percent of drivers assessed a speeding penalty came back to finish in the top 10 this season. Only 6.1 percent of those assessed a speeding penalty this year scored a top-five finish. Keselowski has done it twice with his Vegas win and a fifth-place finish at Martinsville.

Drivers with the most speeding penalties this year:

6 – Denny Hamlin

5 – Kyle Larson

4 – Greg Biffle

4 – Austin Dillon

3 – Brad Keselowski

3 – Casey Mears

3 – David Ragan

3 – Brian Scott

3 – Regan Smith

3 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

— Only three drivers have scored top-10 finishes in each of the four races on 1.5-mile tracks this season.

Kansas winner Kyle Busch also won at Texas, the most recent 1.5-mile race before Kansas, and was third at Atlanta and fourth at Las Vegas. His average finish at 1.5-mile tracks this season is 2.3.

Kevin Harvick, who finished second at Kansas, placed sixth at Atlanta, seventh at Las Vegas and 10th at Texas for an average finish of 6.3 at those tracks.

Kurt Busch, who finished third at Kansas, was fourth at Atlanta, ninth at Las Vegas and ninth at Texas. His average finish at those tracks is 6.3.

— There have been six different winners in the first 11 races of the season. That’s the fewest number of different winners at this point in a season since 2007 when there also were six winners.

In 2007, Jimmie Johnson (four wins), Kevin Harvick (one) and Kyle Busch (one) combined for six of those 11 wins. In 2016, Johnson (two), Harvick (one) and Busch (three) also combined for six wins.

NASCAR America: Assessing Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus’ historic tenure

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After 17 years, seven Cup championships and 81 wins, the checkered flag will wave on Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus this weekend.

Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway will mark the final time Johnson and Knaus will work together as driver and crew chief.

In 2019, Johnson will be paired with Kevin Meendering while Knaus will work with William Byron on the No. 24 team.

On NASCAR America, three-time Cup champion and Hall of Fame crew chief Ray Evernham and Kyle Petty discussed the legacy of the Johnson-Knaus pairing and how it compares to what was accomplished by Richard Petty and crew chief Dale Inman and Jeff Gordon and Evernham.

“The most underrated record in this sport is five (championships) in a row,” Petty said, referring to the No. 48 team’s title run from 2006-10. “Nobody gives them enough credit, I just don’t think so. … The crew chief job that Ray did is a completely different job than what Chad does. The crew chief job that Chad does, Dale Inman wouldn’t even recognize it in 1967, ’68.”

Said Evernham: “Jimmie and Chad are right there with those guys. Without a doubt it’s Petty-Inman, Johnson-Knaus. What Jeff I did together was great, but we weren’t together that long. … To me it’s incredible to win that many championships, not just mechanically, but what it takes emotionally to do that. To hold those teams together and be that good for that many years is to me incredible. That’s longer than most marriages.”

Watch the above video for more.

 

NASCAR penalty report from Phoenix

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NASCAR has fined two crew chiefs for unsecured lug nuts last weekend at ISM Raceway.

In the Cup Series, Luke Lambert was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut on Ryan Newman‘s No. 31 Chevrolet.

In the Xfinity Series, David Elenz was fined $5,000 for one unsecured lug nut on Tyler Reddick‘s No. 9 Chevrolet.

There were no other penalties announced.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Miami preview, Richard Petty and Dale Inman

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to set up the final race weekend of the year in Miami.

Marty Snider hosts with Kyle Petty and Ray Evernham from Charlotte.

On today’s show:

  • We’ll discuss the final race together for Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus, and their lasting impact on NASCAR. Another legendary driver/crew chief combo, Richard Petty and Dale Inman, give their take on the success of their fellow seven-time champions.

  • It’s the final NASCAR race for Elliott Sadler. The panel, including Sadler’s former boss Ray Evernham, share their fondest memories of the 24-year NASCAR veteran.

  • Plus, we’ll reveal the final three members of this season’s Pit Crew All-Stars.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

‘A lot of tears shed’ as Furniture Row Racing departs for last Cup race

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The final chapter in Furniture Row Racing’s history began overnight as the team’s hauler embarked on its journey from Denver, Colorado, to Miami for Sunday’s Cup season finale (3 p.m ET on NBC).

The race, where Martin Truex Jr. will compete in the Championship 4, will mark the 451st and final Cup race for the team that owner Barney Visser started in 2005. The team announced Sept. 4 that it would cease operations at the end of the year due to a lack of sponsorship.

Truex will try to deliver the team’s second consecutive Cup title.

The team’s farewell at the Denver shop was marked by a large gathering of team members.

“I don’t think any of us were prepared for how emotional it was (Tuesday) night when we loaded up,” crew chief Cole Pearn said Wednesday in a teleconference. “I think we’ve just been head down, kind of pushing super hard, trying to do everything we can to get ready for this weekend, and once it was in the truck and saw the lift gate up, there was a lot of tears shed and a lot of sad faces, and I think all of us really realized that that was the last time we were going to do it together as a group.  … A lot of relationships have been built from that shop, and it’s a weird feeling for sure.”

Pearn said the occasion was marked with team members sharing “a few beverages” while they “told old stories and kind of reminisced.”

Visser said Furniture Row Racing “remained a team” in the months since the announcement of its impending closure.

“I am proud of the way they handled this difficult and emotional situation,” Visser said in a media release. “I think everybody who has had an opportunity to work in our shop is probably better for it. I believe they’re better craftsmen and have known or have learned what it takes to be a winner. On the flip side, I do feel a responsibility for moving the guys out here and want to see them get placed. That is very important to me.”

Visser said it will be “hard to give up” a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.

“It’s so rare to get a group of people you like being with, and who accomplish things that other people can’t seem to do,” Visser said. “Pretty special to find that chemistry and the success that comes with it. It’s hard to give it up, but sometimes it’s taken away from you without having any recourse. I just couldn’t keep borrowing money over here to feed it over there. Just had to give it up.”

When it comes to how involved Visser will be in NASCAR going forward, the 69-year-old Vietnam veteran said he hopes to attend some races next season.

“I am a huge racing fan,” Visser said. “I love the cars, love the smell, love the sound and love the people. I will be coming as a guest and fan next year and hope to sit in the stands for a few races. Never did that. My wife and I are looking forward to taking weekend trips to races next year.”