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Chase Elliott gives Hendrick Motorsports first top five of season

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It took four races, but Hendrick Motorsports showed signs of competitiveness Sunday at ISM Raceway.

Chase Elliott became the first Hendrick driver to earn a top five in 2018 as he finished third in the TicketGuardian 500.

The result comes after pit strategy late in the race put Elliott in position to take the lead after a swift-green-flag pit stop.

But Elliott was passed by race winner Kevin Harvick well before leader Ryan Newman pitted with 23 laps to go. Elliott then fell behind runner-up Kyle Busch.

“We had a good car, solid,” Elliott told Fox. “(Crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) made a good call there at the end. We had a good pit stop there to give us the lead and just felt I needed a little bit more forward drive there to put the power down in front of (Harvick). I had pretty good turn those last two runs, before that I wasn’t turning good enough and had too good of forward bite. (Harvick) was definitely the car to beat. … There was a lot of laps left and I tried my best to hold him off as long as I could. I felt like him and Kyle (Busch) had just a little bit on us.”

The previous best finish for the No. 9 Chevrolet in the first three races this season was 10th at Atlanta. Elliott wrecked at Daytona and Las Vegas.

Sunday’s result was Elliott best since Cup’s last visit to the 1-mile track in November when he finished second to Matt Kenseth.

Hendrick’s other three Chevys finished in the top 15, with rookie William Byron placing a career-best 12th, was followed by Alex Bowman (13th) and Jimmie Johnson (14th).

Byron also led 15 laps, the first of his Cup career. He took the lead with a two-tire stop under caution on Lap 195.

“I think it just showed myself that I can do it; that I can do those restarts up there,” the 2017 Xfinity Series champion said. “I know I have the pace up there to run until our handling kind of took over, but I felt like if we can really start to hone in on what we need a little better we are going to be right there.  It’s going to take a little bit of work, but it was fun to at least be up there a little bit.”

Bowman started the day in fourth, but his race started to unravel during his first pit stop when he came out 15th. Then the driver cooling systems on the No. 88 Chevrolet failed.

Bowman was called for a speeding penalty on Lap 147.

“It was a frustrating day,” Bowman said. “I don’t know if we had brake fans or not because we didn’t have any other fans, everything inside the car quit.  My helmet blower quit, everything quit.  It was hot.  I burnt my feet pretty good, but the race car wasn’t bad.  Just my track bar quit when everything else quit, so I had no adjustment all day too.  We overcame a lot.  I sped on pit road, when I swerved to miss some debris.  Had some bad pit stops and rebounded from it.  We will take 13th for as rough as today was.”

Bowman and Johnson have yet to finish in the top 10 through four races.

“We got up to eighth and then had some pit strategy kind of work against us and fell back into the teens again, and it’s just so stinking hard to pass,” Johnson said. “I think if we could have stayed up there in that top 10 where we were, we would have finished there, but once we got mired back and had to start all over again, it was just a long grind.”

Race results, Truck Series point standings after Gateway

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Justin Haley survived two late-race restarts to win his first career Camping World Truck Series race in the Eaton 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park.

His victory was aided by a push into turn one by rookie Todd Gilliland, who finished second.

Johnny Sauter finished third to score his 10th top-five finish in 10 races.

Myatt Snider and Zane Smith rounded out the top five. Smith was making his first career Truck start.

Click here for complete results.

Johnny Sauter maintained his points lead with a third-place finish, extending the advantage to 73 points over Noah Gragson, who finished 10th.

Brett Moffitt is third in the standings and has two wins to his credit.

Grant Enfinger and Stewart Friesen round out the top five

Hayley climbed from eighth to sixth in the standings with his win, but more importantly that victory gets him a berth into the playoffs.

Click here for the complete points standings.

 

Justin Haley wins first Truck race at Gateway

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Justin Haley won his first career Camping World Truck Series in a three-lap shootout at the end of the Eaton 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park.

With seven laps remaining, then-leader Noah Gragson took the bottom line on a restart. That lined Todd Gilliland up behind Haley and proved to be the difference for both drivers on the front row. Gilliland pushed Haley hard into turn one, but contact between Gragson and Gilliland allowed Haley to gain the advantage.

A quick caution for debris forced Haley to survive one more restart – this time with Johnny Sauter lined up beside him. In a three-lap shootout to the end, Haley held onto the top spot.

Gilliland got around Sauter for second. Sauter finished third.

Myatt Snider finished fourth with Zane Smith rounding out the top five in his first career Truck start.

The race was red flagged on lap 119 to clean up fluid from John Hunter Nemechek. He ran over a piece of debris that punctured an oil line. Justin Fontaine spun in the oil with Tate Fogleman sliding in as well.

The incident had lasting ramifications. On lap 132, Brett Moffitt and Ben Rhodes were battling for fifth. Neither driver wanted to go high into turn one because of the speedy dry. Rhodes crowded Moffitt and both made contact with the wall. Rhodes stayed on track. Moffitt pitted, but was able to climb back into contention for a top 10.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Christian Eckes

HOW JUSTIN HALEY WON: Haley lined up in the outside groove with seven laps to go and got a bump from Todd Gilliland that pushed him to the lead. From there, it was simply a matter of surviving one more restart with the veteran Johnny Sauter lined up to his inside as Haley led the final laps.

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: In his Truck debut, Riley Herbst scored a top-10 finish in eighth. … Jesse Little finished seventh, which was his fourth top-10 finish in the last five races. … In just his third Truck start and first since 2015, Chad Finley managed to stay out of trouble and finished a career-best sixth.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Dalton Sargeant cut a left front tire and pounded the wall with two laps remaining in stage one after contact from Todd Gilliland. … Matt Crafton developed an alternator issue at the end of stage two; they changed a battery and resumed racing, four laps off the pace. … On lap 76, Stewart Friesen got loose underneath Christian Eckes and spun him into the wall. … Battling for sixth on lap 98, Friesen and Johnny Sauter made contact on exiting turn two and Friesen spun into the inside wall. … Grant Enfinger started on the pole, led every lap of the first stage, but cut a tire in the closing laps and finished seven laps off the pace in 21st.

NOTABLE: It was a difficult night for Young Guns. In his second career Truck start, 17-year-old Eckes was wrecked during segment two after contact with Friesen. Making his first start in the Tuck series, 18-year-old Fogleman was collected in an accident triggered by Nemechek’s blown engine.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “We had to change the battery. The alternator’s done. I don’t know; they’re still trying to science it out I guess. You know, it’s a big cost for something we spend a lot of money on – and there’s just no excuse for it. Our day is pretty much over. We’ll use it as a test, go to Chicago and try to kick their ass there.” – Matt Crafton’s crew chief Junior Joiner after an electrical problem plagued them at the end of stage two.

WHAT’S NEXT: Overton’s 225 at Chicagoland Speedway at 9 p.m. ET on June 29 on FS1.

NASCAR broadcaster struck by car while jogging, suffers skull fracture

Photo: Performance Racing Network
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Performance Racing Network broadcaster Wendy Venturini is recovering in a hospital after she was struck by a car while jogging Saturday morning in Novato, California.

Venturini suffered a skull fracture and a concussion, Doug Rice, president and general manager of PRN, told NBC Sports on Saturday night.

Rice told NBC Sports that Venturini’s prognosis “is very good. I was there (at Marin General Hospital) and heard the doctor tell her that.”

Rice also said: “She’s completely coherent and conversational, and I have talked to her on two occasions today. They told her she would have a really good headache for a couple of days.”

Rice said that Venturini is expected to be hospitalized for a day or two.

Venturini became the first female to serve as a co-anchor for a NASCAR Cup race in September 2014 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. She was in California to be a pit reporter for PRN’s radio broadcast of Sunday’s Cup race at Sonoma Raceway. She also has served as a booth analyst for PRN broadcasts this season.

Venturini became the first female broadcaster to call an entire race on a national level during the July 2007 Cup race at Sonoma Raceway for DirecTV. She also has reported on NASCAR for Speed Channel and Fox Sports 1.

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Grant Enfinger wins Truck pole at Gateway

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With a speed of 138.867 mph, Grant Enfinger scored his second career Camping World Truck Series pole and will lead the field to green tonight for the Eaton 200. His first pole came on the restrictor plate Daytona International Speedway in February 2016.

Noah Gragson set a track record in round two of qualification with a speed of 139.035 mph. He slipped to third in the running order during round three.

Enfinger beat Christian Eckes (138.594 mph) by .064 seconds. Eckes is making only his second start in the Truck series. Last week he started ninth and finished eighth at Iowa Speedway.

Gragson (138.402), Justin Haley (138.325) and Ben Rhodes (138.211) rounded out the top five.

Johnny Sauter (137.358) failed to advance to the final round of qualification and will start 13th.

Camden Murphy and BJ McLeod failed to qualify.

Click here for the complete lineup.