Logano wins at Talladega; Keselowski, Truex, Elliott, Dillon out of Chase

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With teammate Brad Keselowski’s day done early due to a blown engine, Joey Logano roared back to carry the torch for Team Penske, winning Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Logano earned the 16th win of his career and second of 2016. It also was Logano’s second straight Chase win at the 2.66-mile superspeedway, having won there last October.

The race, which went four laps into overtime, four more than the scheduled 188, was the elimination race of the Round of 12.

Drivers who were eliminated from the Round of 8 in the Chase that begins next week at Martinsville Speedway are Martin Truex Jr. (engine blew up on Lap 41) and Brad Keselowski (engine failure, Lap 144), while Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott fell short on points.

“It’s definitely disappointing, but what else can you say,” Truex told NBCSN. “We had a team capable of competing for the championship and unfortunately we’re not going to be able to show that.”

Moving on to the Round of 8 are Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards.

MORE: Race results of Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega

MORE: Chase for Sprint Cup points after Sunday’s race

After race winner Logano, Brian Scott finished second (his best career Sprint Cup showing), followed by Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson, Harvick, Aric Almirola, Dillon and AJ Allmendinger.

Surprisingly, there was no “Big One” in the race, although there were a few minor mishaps:

  • On Lap 114, Greg Biffle, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Casey Mears were involved in the first wreck of the race. Biffle and Earnhardt suffered minor damage to their cars and were able to return to the track, but damage was heavier on Mears’ car and he never returned to the race.
  • With six laps remaining in the race, Kasey Kahne spun in front of Jamie McMurray and Trevor Bayne, bringing out the caution.
  • Then, Alex Bowman, driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr., spun into the grass with two laps left in regulation, sending the event into overtime.

HOW LOGANO WON: When teammate Brad Keselowski went out with an engine failure, Logano moved to the front, took over the lead for good on Lap 148 and held on for the remaining 44 laps. Logano, who led a total of 45 laps, overcame an earlier issue when the jack became stuck underneath his car and he went one whole lap around the track with it attached before returning to pit road to have it detached.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Denny Hamlin needed a finish of at least fifth place and did so by finishing third, tying Austin Dillon but advanced to the Round of 8 over Dillon because of a better overall round performance.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Martin Truex Jr. saw the best season of his career and his championship hopes go up in smoke when his engine expired on Lap 41, ending his chances to advance to the Round of 8 in the Chase … Brad Keselowski led a race-high 90 laps, but like Truex, saw his day and Chase advancement hopes come to an end due to an engine failure. It marked the second straight DNF in the Chase (he finished 38th last week at Kansas) for the first time in Keselowski’s career.

NOTABLE: It’s probably not much consolation, but this was the third consecutive restrictor plate race that Keselowski has led the most laps in … A Joe Gibbs Racing pre-race strategy call to have Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and defending series champion Kyle Busch drop to the back of the field protected all three as they advanced to the Round of 8. Kenseth finished 28th, Edwards 29th and Busch 30th.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We came here to win, we’re doing what we needed to do, but it didn’t play out. It’s a frustrating way to go out. I want to finish the season with the most wins and we have a great shot at that.” – Brad Keselowski on NBCSN after his day and Chase hopes ended early due to engine failure.

WHAT’S NEXT: The start of the Round of 8 begins on Sunday, Oct. 30, in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway (green flag 1 pm ET on NBCSN).

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eNASCAR Pro Invitational Qualifier to be streamed online

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The qualifying race for Sunday’s eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series event at a virtual Texas Motor Speedway will be streamed on enascar.com/live, NASCAR announced.

The qualifier features Xfinity, Truck and regional series drivers looking to advance to the eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series race that will be at 1 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox, FS1 and the Fox Sports App. At this time, four drivers from the qualifier will advance. That number could change depending on any late additions or drops to the race featuring Cup drivers.

MORE: Roush, Greg Biffle reunite for eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series race

MORE: North Wilkesboro to make its comeback on iRacing 

MORE: eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series reminds Clint Bowyer of being a rookie

The qualifier is scheduled to take place at 11:02 a.m. ET and have 34 drivers battling for those four transfer spots.

The qualifier will be 30 laps at a virtual Texas Motor Speedway. The race will have no cautions.

Practice begins at 10:30 a.m. ET. Qualifying begins at 10:55 a.m., lasting five minutes, followed by the race.

Last week, six drivers advanced from the qualifier to the main event. They were: Anthony Alfredo, Justin Allgaier, Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Ty Majeski and Ryan Truex.

Drivers scheduled to compete in Sunday’s qualifier at a virtual Texas Motor Speedway are (with car number):

02 – Spencer Boyd

7 – Justin Allgaier

08 – Jeb Burton

15 – Brennan Poole

16 – Justin Haley

22 – Austin Cindric

23 – Sam Mayer

26 – Tyler Ankrum

27 – Ruben Garcia

29  – Kaz Grala

29a – Trevor Bayne

33 – Anthony Alfredo

35 – Todd Gilliland

36 – Jesse Iwuji

40 – Ryan Truex

45 – Ty Majeski

46 – Chandler Smith

50 – Jeffrey Earnhardt

52 – Stewart Friesen

53 – Joey Gase

54 – Kyle Weatherman

63 – Scott Stenzel

68 – Brandon Brown

74 – Sheldon Creed

78 – Ryan Ellis

80 – Joe Graf Jr.

81 – Christian Eckes

90 – Alex Labbe

93 – Myatt Snider

98 – Chase Briscoe

99 – Harrison Burton

TBD – Derek Kraus

TBD – Drew Dollar

TBD – JJ Yeley

March 28 in NASCAR history: Texas Terry Labonte gets a home win

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Terry Labonte’s last two Cup Series wins were anything but forgettable.

The last one, in 2003, came in the Southern 500. That was the same race he earned his first Cup win in way back in 1980.

But four years earlier, the two-time champion got a home win.

A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, the driver nicknamed “Texas Terry” claimed a victory in the 1999 race at Texas Motor Speedway. It was just the third Cup race held at the facility after it opened in 1997.

Labonte started fourth and would lead 124 of 334 laps around the 1.5-mile track, including the final 12 after he passed Dale Jarrett on the outside going into Turn 1 for the lead.

Jarrett wouldn’t get a chance to fight for the lead again. With four laps to go, Jimmy Spencer crashed on the frontstretch to bring out the caution. Labonte took the checkered and yellow flags together for his 21st Cup win.

“We picked places to go test this year and I said ‘I want to go here cause this is a race I want to win,” Labonte told CBS. “Besides Daytona, coming here to Texas is awesome.”

Making the day even better for the Labonte family was Terry’s younger brother, Bobby, placing third.

Also on this day:

1954: The premier series held two races on different sides of the country. Dick Rathmann won a 125-mile race at Oakland Speedway in California after starting last. In Georgia, Al Keller won his first career race at Savannah’s Oglethorpe Speedway.

1982: Sam Ard claimed his first career Xfinity Series win in a race at Martinsville Speedway. Ard would go on to win 22 Xfinity races and the championships in 1983 and 1984.

1992: Robert Pressley passed Harry Gant on the last lap to win the Xfinity Series race at Darlington Raceway.

1993: Dale Earnhardt came back from a lap down to win at Darlington Raceway. It was his first win since the Coca-Cola 600 10 months earlier. Alan Kulwicki finished sixth in what would be his last race before his death in a plane crash on April 1.

2004: Kurt Busch won at Bristol for his third consecutive victory on the half-mile track.

Roush, Biffle reunite for eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series race

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After four years, Roush Fenway Racing and Greg Biffle are getting the band back together … digitally.

Roush Fenway Racing announced its former driver will compete in Sunday’s eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series event on a digital Texas Motor Speedway.

Like he did in the Cup Series from 2003-2016, Biffle will pilot a No. 16 Ford in the race (1 p.m. ET on Fox and FS1).

“How exciting is it to get back behind the wheel of the No. 16,” Biffle said in a press release. “I watched the iRace last week on TV and I was really impressed with the overall quality of the broadcast and the racing. It was just a lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to being a part of the show this weekend.

“We are running a really cool Castrol scheme on the car. I think it’s going to show up really well. My plan is to log a ton of practice time leading up to the race, so hopefully we can have a strong showing and you’ll see a lot of the Castrol green and red on the broadcast.”

This will be Biffle’s iRacing event debut.

After parting ways with Roush Fenway Racing after the 2016 season, Biffle returned to NASCAR last year for a one-off Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway with Kyle Busch Motorsports, which he won.

NASCAR teams impacted by North Carolina stay at home order

Robert Willett/The News & Observer via AP
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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced a stay at home order for the entire state of North Carolina, beginning at 5 p.m. ET Monday because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The order is for 30 days.

The move impacts all NASCAR teams based in North Carolina.

“These are tough directives, but I need you to take them seriously,” Gov. Cooper said in afternoon news briefing.

MORE: N.C. Governor enlists Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson for COVID-19 PSA

MORE: North Carolina stay at home order

The order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to stay at least six feet away from each other. The order requires all residents to stay at home except for essential activities. The order states: “non-essential business and operations must cease.”

The order also states that among the definitions for an essential business and operation is “Businesses that meet Social Distancing Requirements. Businesses, not-for-profit organizations or educational institutions that conduct operations while maintaining Social Distancing Requirements:

a. Between and among its employees; and

b. Between and among employees and customers except at the point of sale or purchase.”

Mecklenburg County and Cabarrus County, which are home to such race teams as Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and JTG Daugherty Racing, were already under a stay at home order through April 16.

By the end of the week, more than 20 states will have issued stay at home orders, including California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Ohio.