Denny Hamlin wins pole for Bank of America 500

1 Comment

CONCORD, North Carolina — Denny Hamlin won the pole for Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Hamlin won his first pole of the year and his first since the 2016 regular-season finale with a speed of 191.598 mph.

He will be joined one the front row by his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth (191.489).

It is Hamlin’s 25th Cup pole.

“You always like keeping streaks alive and I hadn’t had a pole this year,” Hamlin told NBCSN. “Had one every other year (except 2011) . It’s good. We’ve been so close and we’ve made so many final rounds, been in the top five but not as fast as our other teammates. Today we adjusted on it, got it a little bit better each round and had some good results.”

Completing the top five for Sunday’s race (2 p.m. ET on NBC) are Kevin Harvick (191.394), Kyle Busch (190.941) and Clint Bowyer (190.584).

Brad Keselowski (sixth), Chase Elliott (seventh) and Kyle Larson (10th) are the other playoffs drivers who will start in the top 10.

Danica Patrick qualified 12th. It is the fourth time she has qualified in the top 12 this year (Daytona 500, Sonoma, Daytona II).

Four playoff drivers only made it to the second round: Ryan Blaney (15th), Martin Truex Jr. (17th), Jamie McMurray (18th) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (22nd).

Truex’s start is his worst since he started 25th at Daytona in July.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 23rd in his final Cup start at Charlotte. In the first round Earnhardt knocked teammate Jimmie Johnson out of the top 24. The eight-time winner at Charlotte will start 25th.

“Multiple trips through the inspection line doesn’t help by any stretch,” Johnson told NBCSN. “We just missed it. Another frustrating Friday, unfortunately. … It sucks getting behind, starting the weekend behind like this. It is what it is and we’re going to have to go to work on Sunday.”

Johnson is the only playoff driver who will start outside the top 24.

Erik Jones was unable to make a qualifying lap after his No. 77 Toyota made it through inspection but not in time for him to get on track. He will start 38th Sunday. BK Racing’s two entries of Brett Moffitt and Corey LaJoie also did not make qualifying runs.

Click here for the full qualifying results.

New Hampshire to add traction compound to racing surface

Photo: Dustin Long
Leave a comment

New Hampshire Motor Speedway officials will add the PJ1 traction compound to the racing surface before this weekend’s racing, a track spokesperson confirmed to NBC Sports.

Track officials are scheduled to put the traction compound on the track today and are expected to do so again Saturday and Sunday, pending NASCAR approval. The track reapplied the traction compound the morning of last July’s race.

The traction compound is to be applied to the first groove (lowest groove) and third grove (just outside the main groove) in all four corners. A track spokesperson said the traction compound would be applied on the 12 feet at the bottom of the track from the yellow line on up. Then there will be a 12-foot section that will not be applied (the main groove) and the traction compound is to be applied on another 12 feet above the main grove

The track used the PJ1 compound for both Cup weekends last year to help enhance the passing.

 and on Facebook

 

Weekend schedule for Cup, Xfinity at New Hampshire

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NASCAR Cup and Xfinity teams will make their lone visit of the year to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch combined to win 14 of the first 19 races. Will their dominance continue? In Xfinity, there have been six different winners in the last seven races. Will that streak continue.

Here’s a look at the track schedule for the weekend:

(ALL TIMES ARE EASTERN)

FRIDAY, JULY 20

8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. — Cup garage open

10 a.m. – 6 p.m. — Xfinity garage open

Noon – 12:50 p.m. — Cup practice (NBCSN)

1:05 – 1:55 p.m. — Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

3:05 – 3:55 p.m. — Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

4:45 p.m. — Cup qualifying; multi-vehicle/three rounds (NBCSN, Performance Racing Network)

SATURDAY, JULY 21

7 a.m. — Xfinity garage opens

8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. — Cup garage open

10:05 – 10:55 a.m. — Cup practice (CNBC)

11:05 a.m. — Xfinity qualifying; multi-vehicle/three rounds (CNBC)

12:35 – 1:25 p.m. — Final Cup practice (NBCSN)

1:30 p.m. — Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

3:30 p.m. — Xfinity driver introductions

4 p.m. — Lakes Region 200 Xfinity race; 200 laps/211.6 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

SUNDAY, JULY 22

8:30 a.m. — Cup garage opens

Noon — Cup driver/crew chief meeting

1:20 p.m. — Cup driver introductions

2 p.m. — Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 Cup race; 301 laps/318.46 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

NASCAR America: Kyle Busch believes Martin Truex Jr. is his biggest competition

1 Comment

Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have been so strong in 2018 that many believe the championship will come down to them – and only them.

Busch has five wins, Harvick matches him with five and Truex earned his fourth win last week on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.

Who is Busch’s greatest competition? Busch does not think the other five-time winner will be the driver to beat. Instead, he picked Truex as the top contender at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Wednesday’s NASCAR America.

“If you had to choose just one, I’d have to say Martin,” Busch said. “Just with the successes that they’ve had on mile-and-a-halves. Even though Harvick’s been just as good at mile-and-halves.”

Last year, Truex dominated the 1.5-milers – including a win in the final race that crowned him champion.

“Overall, the 78’s just so strong and they certainly know how to turn up the wick when it matters most,“ Busch said.

Busch is not ready to concede the title to Truex, however.

“I think you’ve seen the 78’s dominance of last year toned back,” he said. “They’re third, they’re fourth, they’re fifth – they’re still competitive, They’re still right there, but they’re not nine seconds out front. So I think the field has been closed up. … But they still have that little bit of edge when they need it.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

NASCAR America: Kyle Busch would have accepted Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s call on Friday

Leave a comment

If Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had called Kyle Busch as late as Friday morning before the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, none of last week’s verbal conflict between the two would have happened.

At least that is Busch’s opinion of the situation.

“If he would have made the call: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – even Friday morning still counts,” Busch said. “He could have talked about how I hurt his feeling for the things I said over the radio when I blasted him because I was mad over knocking a wall down.

“He could have said, ‘Hey man I’m sorry I got into you – you know I pushed up,’ or whatever happened … and ‘Hey, by the way, those things that you said after the crash were pretty rough.’ And I would have been, like ‘Ricky, you’re totally right. That was over the top.’

Then, when the question was posed about whether they the two had talked, the answer would have been “yeah, we’re all fine.”

And that would have been the end of the story.

“I learned, after making that mistake a few times that it’s just easier to make the call,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “Sometimes you don’t even think you’re in the wrong. … But it’s just easier to go ahead and make the call, because that guy’s annoyed. It goes into the next week – and then, like (happened with) you guys, y’all had it play out in front of everybody at Kentucky.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.