Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Martin Truex Jr. has score to settle with Texas Motor Speedway

Leave a comment

Martin Truex Jr. feels he has a score to settle at Texas Motor Speedway.

After winning races last year on the 1.5-mile tracks of Las Vegas, Kansas, Kentucky, Chicagoland, Charlotte, and Homestead, his second-place finish in the AAA Texas 500 last fall was disappointing.

“We’ve settled one score in California and it’s time to settle another in Texas,” Truex said in a press release. “We’ve definitely had the cars to win at Texas, but haven’t been able to close the deal. We’ve led a bunch of laps there and came close last fall. Hopefully we’ll have the same result in Texas this weekend as we did in California.”

The second-place finish last fall was only his fourth top five at Texas, but Truex has finished in the top 10 often enough to make this his sixth-best track in terms of average finish. With 14 top 10s to his credit, he has an average of 13.1 in 25 races. By comparison, Truex’s average at Auto Club is just 18.2 in 18 starts despite his win in March.

Truex’s career stats tell only one part of the story though. Since Cole Pearn assumed the crew chief duties of the No. 78 in 2015, Truex has swept the top 10 in six Texas starts and earned two of his four top fives on this track. On two occasions, he led the most laps – in spring 2016 with 141 and last fall with 107.

“It sure would be nice to get that Texas monkey off our back,” Pearn said in the press release. “The competition is fierce, and in order to have a chance to win, you have to have maximum performance in all aspects of the race team.”

Last year’s runner-up finish was even more disappointing because Truex lost the lead to Kevin Harvick with only 10 laps remaining.

“It seems that something has always come up to bite us late in the race at Texas,” Truex said. “There’s not much you can do but just keep plugging away and hope that the chips will fall in our favor this weekend.”

And while top fives are still relatively rare for Truex at Texas, they have been commonplace in 2018. He enters this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 with five consecutive results of fifth or better.

“The mile-and-a-half tracks have been good to us and that’s why we go into a race like Texas with plenty of confidence,” Truex said. “But at the same time, you can’t depend on what you had or did in the past at these tracks. Rules and track conditions continue to change and you have to be ready to make the right adjustments to offset the changes.”

Kyle Larson wins Bristol Xfinity race in overtime

Leave a comment

Kyle Larson held off Christopher Bell and Justin Allgaier in an overtime finish Friday night to win the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Larson led 202 of 310 laps and swept both stages on the way to his fourth Xfinity win of the season and 12th of his career.

The top five was completed by Cole Custer and Joey Logano.

The win was Larson’s first at Bristol in 18 Cup and Xfinity starts (including six top-five finishes in his previous eight Xfinity races at the track). Larson has won in four of his six starts this year (and didn’t finish the other two).

Larson dominated after pole-sitter Kyle Busch wrecked from first after leading the first 69 laps.

“It feels really good, I just wish Kyle Busch wouldn’t have had his troubles so I could have raced him,” Larson told NBCSN. “It still feels really good to win a race here at Bristol finally. I’ve been close so many times. This is my best track by far, this and Homestead.”

The overtime finish was set up by a Daniel Hemric wreck with two laps to go in the original 300-lap distance.

“We had that yellow there coming to two to go, I was like, ‘Man, again. Again I’m going to lose one here late,” Larson said. “We were able to get an average restart and get the win.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Larson

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Larson

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Justin Allgaier earned his career-best 10th consecutive top 10 … Cole Custer placed fourth for his best Bristol finish in four starts … Michael Annett placed seventh for his first top 10 of the season …  JA Junior Avila placed 20th in his series debut.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Kyle Busch was having a good night until he tagged the wall around Lap 66 while leading. On Lap 70, he lost a tire and got into the wall, causing enough damage to end his night. He finished 36th … Spencer Boyd and Vinnie Miller wrecked to bring out the second caution on Lap 105. Miller caused another caution on Lap 160 … Chase Briscoe was eliminated when he spun and hit the inside wall on Lap 142. He placed 34th.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I’d love to race him on dirt. I ain’t done much of that. ” – Kyle Larson on Christopher Bell

WHAT’S NEXT: Johnsonville 180 at Road America at 3:30 p.m. ET on Aug. 25 on NBCSN.

Starting lineup for Cup Bristol night race

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott will lead the field to the green flag in Saturday night’s Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway (6:46 p.m. ET).

Larson starts from the pole position for the third time this year.

Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and William Byron rounded out the top five.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Kyle Larson on pole for Cup race at Bristol

Leave a comment

Kyle Larson won the pole position for Saturday’s Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway (6:46 p.m. ET on NBCSN) with a top speed of 127.792 mph around the half-mile track.

Larson bested Chase Elliott (127.665) and Kyle Busch (127.639) to earn his third pole of the season and the seventh of his career.

Paul Menard and William Byron rounded out the top five. Menard matched his best Bristol start from 2011 while Byron earned his career-best qualifying result in 24 starts.

“The top five there was tight,” Larson told NBCSN. “I saw William run his .04 there before I went out. ‘That’s going to be hard to beat.’ I would never have thought three other guys would squeeze between him and I for first and second. That shows how tough our sport is and our series is.”

Larson’s previous poles this year were at Dover and Sonoma. He has started on the front row in three of the last four Bristol races.

The top 10 was rounded out by Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney.

Jimmie Johnson qualified 13th. He was followed by Erik Jones, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. and Austin Dillon.

“We were really fast in the first round, it just didn’t really transfer over to the second round,” Jones, who won his first career pole in this race last year, told NBCSN. “Lost a lot of grip, lost a lot of speed. I think going early, the track was still a little bit hot, and we didn’t have quite a car that was ready for that.”

AJ Allmendinger qualified 25th and was followed by Kasey Kahne and Bubba Wallace.

B.J. McLeod failed to qualify.

Click here for qualifying results.

Kyle Busch wins Bristol Xfinity pole

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyle Busch will start first in tonight’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:28 p.m. ET on NBCSN) after posting a top speed of 124.686 mph in qualifying.

It is Busch’s first pole in seven starts this season. It is his sixth Xfinity pole at Bristol.

The top five is completed by Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Matt Tifft.

Logano’s fourth-place start is the worst of his five Xfinity starts this year.

Elliott Sadler will start sixth, his best start at Bristol since 2014.

Chase Briscoe, Tyler Reddick, Chase Elliott, Ryan Reed, Austin Cindric and Ross Chastain were among those who did not advance to the final round.

Michael Annett will start 22nd after he spun and made light contact with the wall late in Round 1. He advanced to Round 2 but did not make a qualifying attempt.

Click here for qualifying results.