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Upon Further Review: Was Richmond a sign of things to come in Chase?

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Was Saturday night merely a reaffirmation of what the next 10 weeks could be like?

You know, Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing dominating.

Denny Hamlin’s win at Richmond International Raceway marked the 13th victory for Toyota in 26 regular-season races. While Toyotas led 385 of 407 laps Saturday night, other teams can feel better that Richmond isn’t similar to any of the Chase tracks.

That doesn’t hide the fact that Toyota won six of the eight races this season held at tracks that will host playoff events.

Those wins were:

Martinsville – Kyle Busch

Texas – Kyle Busch

Kansas – Kyle Busch

Dover – Matt Kenseth

Charlotte – Martin Truex Jr.

New Hampshire – Matt Kenseth

Asked if Toyota will be the manufacturer to beat in the Chase, Hamlin said:

“I think that any one of these guys can get going. You don’t know what they’ve got at the shop waiting to come to the race track. I think it’s really hard to predict what happens from this point on. I mean, is it a continuation of the regular season or has somebody been laying in the weeds?

“I think obviously (Kyle) Larson has really stepped up his game over the last month or so, so I don’t know. I mean, obviously the 4 (Kevin Harvick) car’s got great speed week in, week out, so he’s definitely going to be a challenge no doubt about it. You just don’t know. The 24 (Chase Elliott) went on a run for about a month as well, so, like I say, until you get to Chicago, look at practice, look at how the first race goes, that’s to me the barometer of where we’re really at.”

The two tracks in the Chase that Toyota didn’t win earlier this year?

Phoenix — Kevin Harvick won

Talladega — Brad Keselowski won

Last year, Chevrolet and Toyota each had 11 wins entering the Chase, which ended with Kyle Busch scoring his first title and giving Toyota its first Cup crown. Chevrolet teams won seven of the first 26 races this year, and Ford teams won six.

SPEED TRAP

In the seven races since NASCAR placed additional timing lines on pit road, speeding penalties are up 86 percent compared to the seven races before the extra timing lines were implemented.

Of the 42 speeding penalties that have been called by NASCAR since Indianapolis, 18 have been called against Chase drivers.

Jimmie Johnson’s three speeding penalties since the extra timing lines were enforced are the most among Chase drivers.

Other Chase drivers with multiple speeding penalties during that time are Denny Hamlin (two), Jamie McMurray (two), Martin Truex Jr. (two) and Chase Elliott (two). With one speeding penalty during that time are Chase drivers Tony Stewart, Chris Buescher, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, and Brad Keselowski.

TEST PASSED

Kevin Harvick’s pit crew was solid Saturday night at Richmond. No doubt there was pressure on the unit after the front tire changer and tire carrier were swapped with Danica Patrick’s team, but that won’t be like the pressure they’ll face in the coming weeks of the playoffs.

Still, it was a good night for the unit, which included a final pit stop of 10.8 seconds, its best of the race.

“I am probably most excited about tonight because pit road was awesome,’’ Harvick said after the race, a week after he blasted his crew when their struggles were too much to overcome in the Southern 500. “They did a great job on pit road.’’ 

PIT STOPS

— Chase Elliott and Chris Buescher are the first rookies to make the Chase since Denny Hamlin in 2006. Hamlin finished third that season.

— Runner-up Kyle Larson has finished in the top three in each of the last three races.

Kasey Kahne’s sixth-place finish marked the first time he’s scored back-to-back top-10 results in the last 33 races.

Michael McDowell’s 12th-place finish marked his best result at a track other than a restrictor-plate speedway this season.

— What does it take to make the Chase? Jamie McMurray was the last driver to make it on points. His average finish for the regular season was 15.0. Chris Buescher, who had a win, had the worst average finish among all Chase drivers. His average finish was 26.7.

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.”