Aric Almirola laments lost opportunity at Dover win

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DOVER, Del. — Aric Almirola stood against his car after he parked it on pit road Sunday and bowed his head.

When he looked up, he saw Chase Elliott drive into Victory Lane Sunday at Dover International Speedway. Moments later, Almriola saw Elliott’s celebration on a nearby video screen.

Then Almirola gazed back down at the ground.

“We’ve had so many opportunities and been so close and had the car to win and been in position,” Almirola said. “It just seems to not come through. I don’t know.

“Frustrated. Mad. Angry.”

Almirola was seven laps from winning his second career Cup race when a caution for Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer’s incident brought out the caution.

Then the decision became if to pit.

Almirola gave up his lead to do so. Not everybody joined him. Elliott, who was third, stayed out. Brad Keselowski, who was fourth, stayed out and restarted alongside Elliott on the front row. Martin Truex Jr., who was ninth, also didn’t pit and restarted third.

“That’s one of the situations where you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” Almirola said of crew chief Johnny Klausmeier’s decision to pit. “I feel like Johnny made the right call. We had a great car, it was really firing off on the restarts really fast and to come get four tires and be on offense; we’ve talked about that a lot this year about putting ourselves in situations to be on offense and we were. We put ourselves in position and it didn’t work out.”

Almirola restarted sixth. Trouble ensued shortly after the green waved.

Almirola bounced off the backstretch wall and hit Keselowski, triggering a crash that collected four other playoff drivers.

“I tried to at least go to where they weren’t, the top,” said Almirola, who led 64 laps, second only to teammate Kevin Harvick‘s 286 laps led. “(Hamlin) moved up to block me, and I just got really tight off of (Turn) 2. I bounced off the fence and got into Brad and we tore up a bunch of race cars on the back straightaway. I hate that for everybody that was involved. Kind of killed our day, too.

“I feel like we should be over there in Victory Lane celebrating and we’re not.”

Almirola finished 13th. Instead of qualifying for the next round and not having to worry about how he finishes next week at Talladega Superspeedway, Almirola is ninth in the standings. He trails Ryan Blaney by 10 points for the final transfer spot.

But that didn’t matter to Almirola as much immediately after the race as Elliott celebrated his second career Cup win.

“I want that for our team,” Almirola said. “I want that for our sponsors. I want to go to Victory Lane. That’s what I get paid to do, to try to win races. I’m frustrated that’s not us over there. That’s a hard one to swallow.

“That one is going to be a tough one.”

Today’s Las Vegas Cup race: Start time, lineup and more

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One down and only 35 to go.

With the Daytona 500 now in the record books, the NASCAR Cup Series moves on to its second race of the season – and the start of the three-race western swing.

Can Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin make it back-to-back wins to start the 2020 season?

How about defending Cup Series champ Kyle Busch, looking for his second career Cup win in his hometown? What about older brother Kurt Busch, still searching for his first career hometown Cup triumph?

Here is all the info for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The 1980 U.S. Men’s Olympic “Miracle” hockey team will give the command to start engines at 3:37 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:46 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage opens at 11:30 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 1:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 3 p.m. The invocation will be given by Motor Racing Outreach chaplain Billy Mauldin at 3:30 p.m. The National Anthem will be performed by Carnell Johnson at 3:31 p.m., followed by a flyover by four F-16 “Vipers” from the 57th Wing Adversary Tactics Group from Nellis Air Force Base at 3:32 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 267 laps (400.5 miles) around the 1.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 80. Stage 2 ends on Lap 160.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race with coverage beginning at 3:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s broadcast begins at 2:30 p.m. and can also be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: The Wunderground.com forecast calls for sunny skies with a high of 68 degrees and a 0% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Joey Logano won this race last year, followed by teammate Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. Martin Truex Jr. won last September’s playoff race, followed by Kevin Harvick and Keselowski.

TO THE REAR: Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell will start from the rear after L1 level infractions in qualifying inspection. Garrett Smithley will also start from the rear due to three inspections failures.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

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Rain postpones Las Vegas Xfinity race to 7:30 p.m. ET Sunday

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Rain has forced the conclusion of today’s Xfinity Series race in Las Vegas to be postponed until Sunday after the Cup Series race at approximately 7:30 p.m. ET. The race will resume on FS2.

The race had been red flagged since late Saturday afternoon, with the race paused on Lap 51 of 200, only six laps after Chase Briscoe won Stage 1.

The top 10 is currently scored as:

  1. Joe Graf Jr. (stayed out of pits)
  2. Chase Briscoe
  3. Austin Cindric
  4. Ross Chastain
  5. Brandon Jones
  6. Justin Allgaier
  7. Michael Annett
  8. Justin Haley
  9. Harrison Burton
  10. Brett Moffitt

Kevin Harvick, Gander RV CEO put up $100K bounty to beat Kyle Busch in trucks

Kyle Busch
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Kevin Harvick and Gander RV & Outdoors CEO Marcus Lemonis issued a bounty poster in tweet form Saturday.

WANTED: A full-time Cup Series driver to beat Kyle Busch in any of his remaining four Truck Series starts this year (without wrecking him).

REWARD: $50,000 each from Harvick and Lemonis.

The bounty comes the night after Busch won his seventh consecutive Truck Series race, which includes all five starts he made in 2019.

Saturday’s race was his first of five in the trucks this season. He’ll be back in the series March 14 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, March 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, March 27 at Texas Motor Speedway and May 30 at Kansas Speedway.

Busch won at Atlanta and Texas last year.

Busch himself didn’t seem too impressed with the bounty when told about it in the media center.

So what is in it for Busch?

If no full-time Cup driver is able to beat Busch in those four races, the bounty will be given to the Bundle of Joy Fund, the organization founded by Kyle and Samantha Busch that helps couples who require fertility treatments to conceive.

Lemonis wasn’t done there. Later Saturday night, he put another proposition out into the Twitterverse. If Fox Sports moved any of the races to prime time, he’d increase the purse among the top-five finishers to $250,000.

Needless to say, the original bounty got the attention of a few drivers, including Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Denny Hamlin.

Disclaimer on the following tweet by Hamlin: As noted above, none of Busch’s remaining four truck races are at Richmond Raceway. But…..Richmond is the site of the first Triple Truck Challenge race on April 18.

Richmond’s track president, Dennis Bickmeier chimed in with his thoughts.

Las Vegas Xfinity race under red flag for rain on Lap 51

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Today’s Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is under its second rain delay and its first since the start of race.

The race was paused by a red flag on Lap 51, shortly after the end of Stage 1.

The race is official after the end of Stage 2 on Lap 90.

Joe Graf Jr is listed as the leader after he stayed out during pit stops.

The top five is completed by Stage 1 winner Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Ross Chastain and Brandon Jones.

The green flag for the race was originally scheduled for 4:16 p.m. ET. The finally waved at 5:48 p.m. ET.

The rain forced the cancellation of qualifying for Cup and Xfinity. The field was set by last year’s owner’s points.

If the race resumes tonight, coverage will be on FS2.

Check back for more.