Home sweet home: Denny Hamlin wins at Richmond, Chase field is set

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Richmond International Raceway once again proved to be home sweet home for Denny Hamlin in Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400.

Hamlin, who grew up in nearby Chesterfield, Virginia, won there for the third time in his Sprint Cup career and also for the third time this season.

The race went into overtime and was extended seven laps after Regan Smith wrecked with one lap left in the scheduled 400-lap event.

Hamlin, who started from the pole, led 189 laps, second only to Martin Truex Jr. leading 193 laps. Hamlin took over the lead for the final time on Lap 322 and held on for the remaining 85 laps.

MORE: Sprint Cup race results from Richmond

MORE: Kevin Harvick ends regular season as points leader

MORE: Chris Buescher, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray complete Chase field

“We really got it tuned in there in the last half of the race,” Hamlin told NBCSN. “The restarts, everything just kind of worked out well for us all day. … Hopefully, we’re going on another Chase run.”

 

The win was the 29th of Hamlin’s Sprint Cup career and second in the last five races (he also won at Watkins Glen).

It was also the third consecutive win for Joe Gibbs Racing at Richmond, its 12th in the series at Richmond. JGR also leads all organizations going into the Chase with wins in 11 of the first 26 races.

Kyle Larson roared from behind to finish second, followed by Truex, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick.

Saturday’s race was the final race to make the upcoming 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The biggest drama of the night came on Lap 363 when seven drivers – Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Dylan Lupton, David Ragan, Chris Buescher, Carl Edwards and A.J. Allmendinger – were involved in a wreck that brought out a race-stopping red flag. Newman blamed Stewart.

MORE: Newman blasts Tony Stewart wreck; should be retired the way he drives

How Hamlin won: Hamlin held the early lead, then let Martin Truex Jr. take the point. But it was clear Hamlin had a strong car and paced himself until he regained the lead and then didn’t let go from that point.

Who else had a good race: Martin Truex Jr. almost won his second straight race. But even with finishing third, he showed great promise heading into the Chase. … Kasey Kahne needed a win to make the Chase but just fell short and was eliminated. … If there had been another couple laps, Kyle Larson may have caught Hamlin. Still, his second-place finish bodes well for himself and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray in the Chase.

Who had a bad race: Ryan Blaney had high hopes of making the Chase, but those hopes ended on Lap 11 when he wrecked, suffering heavy damage to the rear of his Wood Brothers Ford. … Paul Menard’s night ended after a single-car wreck on Lap 265. … Matt Kenseth’s night also ended early on Lap 335. Brad Keselowski missed a shift and then drifted up the track, running into Kenseth’s car.

MORE: Kenseth on Brad Keselowski – ‘He cleaned me out’

Notable: After just three cautions in the first 200 laps, there were 13 more in the second half of the race for a total of 16 yellow flags, breaking the old RIR single race record of 15. … After changing the front tire changer and front tire carrier on Kevin Harvick’s team — they came from teammate Danica Patrick‘s crew — Harvick had strong pit stops all night. His final stop was 10.8 seconds.

Quote of the race: “It’s just disappointing that you have someone old like that that’s retiring, or should be retired the way he drives. It’s just ridiculous. I only hit him in Turn 1 when he cut across my nose. So, I don’t think there was any reason other than him being bipolar and having anger issues (leading to the second incident between them).” – Ryan Newman on his crash with former teammate Tony Stewart.

What’s next: The Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship begins Sept. 18, at Chicagoland Speedway.

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Martins Motorsports adds sponsorship to No. 44 Xfinity car

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Martins Motorsports announced Tuesday that it has renewed a partnership with Gilreath Farms Red Angus for the 2020 Xfinity Series.

Gilreath Farms and AAN Adjusters, which also is owned by Ken Gilreath, will be the primary sponsor of the No. 44 Xfinity car for 25 races this season. Gilreath Farms sponsored Martins for a race at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2018 when Martins drove for BJ McLeod Motorsports.

“Having Gilreath Farms Red Angus on the car again is special,” Martins said in a statement. “This is really where my partnership with Ken started in 2018, so to see his commitment to us this year…I mean I’ve said it before, it completely changes our entire outlook for this season. It’s really special.”

The first race for the Red Angus Chevrolet will be at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Truck Series playoffs expands to 10 teams

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The playoffs for the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series will expand from eight to 10 drivers in 2020, NASCAR announced Tuesday.

Two teams will be eliminated after the first round and four eliminated after second round.

How each round of the playoffs will unfold:

Round of 10: World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Bristol Motor Speedway

Round of 8: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Martinsville Speedway

Championship 4: Phoenix Raceway

“Expanding the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series playoff field to 10 is a win-win for drivers, teams and, most importantly, the passionate fans who support our Gander Trucks,” Truck Series Managing Director Brad Moran said in a statement from NASCAR. “This will only increase the competitive intensity this series offers, as more drivers and teams vie for one of the most coveted championships in all of racing.”

Had there been 10 drivers allowed in last year’s playoffs, ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes and Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Harrison Burton would have gotten those spots. KBM did not have any drivers in the playoffs.

The first two races of the playoffs, at Gateway and Canada, will feature the new pit road rules for standalone races in the Truck and Xfinity Series.

Reports: Daniel Suarez to drive for Gaunt Brothers Racing

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Multiple reports state that Daniel Suarez will drive the No. 96 Cup car for Gaunt Brothers Racing in 2020.

The team has not made any an announcement.

Toby Christie reported Friday at tobychristie.com that a deal was done for Suarez to drive the full Cup season for Gaunt Brothers Racing. Motorsport.com reported Monday that Suarez would join Gaunt Brothers Racing for the full season.

Suarez would replace Parker Kligerman, who confirmed to NBC Sports on Friday that he would not return to the No. 96 car this season.

This would be the fourth Cup season for Suarez. He drove for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017-18 before being replaced by Martin Truex Jr. Suarez moved to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2019 and was replaced after the season by rookie Cole Custer.

Suarez continues to seek his first Cup win. He has eight top-five and 32 top-10 finishes in 108 Cup starts. He won the 2016 Xfinity title, a year after winning rookie of the year honors in that series.

Gaunt Brothers Racing debuted in 2017, running one race with D.J. Kennington. The team ran 22 races the following year between Kligerman, D.J. KenningtonJeffrey Earnhardt and Jesse Little. The team ran 15 races last year with Drew Herring running once along with Kligerman’s 14 starts.

HighPoint to sponsor Chase Briscoe in multiple Xfinity Series races

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Chase Briscoe will have a new sponsor in 2020 in HighPoint.com, a customer service and technology solutions company, Stewart-Haas Racing announced Tuesday.

Briscoe, who returns for a second full-time Xfinity Series season with SHR, will have HighPoint as a primary sponsor on his No. 98 Ford for 10 races. The Sparta, New Jersey-based company will make its debut with the Feb. 15 season opener at Daytona.

For all other races, HighPoint will be an associate sponsor.

“Even though we race stock cars, there’s nothing stock about what we do,” Briscoe said in a press release. “The science of our cars is impressive, but the technology that goes into building our Ford Mustangs and then making them perform is even more advanced. Our IT needs are pretty complex, and we demand a lot from our technology every day, whether it’s at the shop or at the track. HighPoint is more than just a sponsor – they’re a partner that helps us perform.”

As part of the deal, HighPoint will be the team’s official IT solutions provider.

“Walk around our race shop during the week and the garage area on a race weekend and you’ll see how our race cars and our entire industry relies on technology,” Mike Verlander, SHR’s vice president of sales and marketing, said in a press release. “From engine diagnostics to fuel-mileage calculations, our business is dependent on service and technology solutions. Every company needs what HighPoint provides, and we’ll work diligently to facilitate those introductions.”