Chase Elliott wins in wild finish at Dover

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DOVER, Del. – Chase Elliott fended off Denny Hamlin on a restart in overtime, winning the Round of 12 opener Sunday at Dover International Speedway.

Joey Logano finished third, followed by Erik Jones and Kurt Busch.

Elliott took the lead by staying out of the pits during a late yellow and hung on for his second career victory through two late restarts on the 1-mile oval.

It was a redemptive win for the Hendrick Motorsports driver, who lost the lead to Kyle Busch with a lap remaining a year earlier at Dover.

“Definitely makes it sweeter for sure,” said Elliott, who also rebounded Sunday from an uncontrolled tire penalty on his No. 9 Chevrolet.

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points standings

A mostly tame race turned wild with three cautions in the final 60 laps as seemingly surefire bids for wins by Stewart-Haas Racing drivers faded, first for Kevin Harvick and then Aric Almirola.

Almirola’s lead evaporated with less than 10 laps remaining when teammate Clint Bowyer slammed the SAFER barrier after suffering a mechanical failure.

The resulting yellow jumbled the field as Elliott, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. stayed out to take the top three spots, followed by Denny Hamlin and Alex Bowman on two tires.

Almirola was the first driver out of the pits on four tires in sixth. His No. 10 Ford slipped up off the second turn after the green, causing him to tap Keselowski into a multicar crash that also collected Truex and Bowman.

“We’ve had so many opportunities and been so close and had the car to win and been in position and I don’t know, it just seems to not come through,” said Almirola, who was a half-lap from winning the Daytona 500 and also nearly triumphed at Chicagoland and New Hampshire. “I don’t know. I’m frustrated and mad and angry.”

Seven of the 12 playoff drivers finished outside the top 10: Ryan Blaney (11th), Kyle Larson (12th), Almirola (13th), Keselowski (14th), Truex (15th), Bowman (28th) and Bowyer (35th).

Bowyer had been running in the top five for much of the race, including a stretch when all four Stewart-Haas cars occupied the top four spots.

“I guess we had another loose wheel, this sucks,” Bowyer said. “I’m so sick for Aric, that was his race to win.”

Seeking a clean sweep of 2018 at Dover (where he also won both stages and won in May), Harvick led a race-high 286 laps and was in control until a pit stop under green with 80 laps remaining. A valve stem on a left-side tire was knocked off, necessitating another pit stop under green to fix a flat.

Harvick returned to the track a lap down in 13th but caught a break when the first non-stage caution flag flew 20 laps later and put him back on the lead lap. He rebounded for sixth after narrowly missing the last pileup.

“We were just lucky there and wound up dodging and weaving and being in the right place,” Harvick told NBCSN’s Kelli Stavast. “I guess that makes up for the bad luck of losing the race with an absolute dominant car.”

The error by Harvick’s team came during a race in which all of the Big Three championship contenders made late mistakes. Kyle Busch and Truex also were hit with speeding penalties in the pits during the final 100 laps. Busch rallied for eighth.

Harvick’s dominance was evident early as only 14 cars remained on the lead lap after the first stage.

After falling out of the playoffs a week earlier because of a spin while gunning for a last-lap win at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson failed to take the green flag at the track where has a record number of victories.

The 11-time winner at Dover suffered a ball joint failure on the right front of his No. 48 Chevrolet on the pace laps and went to the garage for repairs. He returned on Lap 11 and finished 36th.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Harvick

STAGE 2 WINNER: Harvick

NOTABLE: The last two winners of the Round of 12 opener went on to capture the championship. Jimmie Johnson (2016) and Martin Truex Jr. (last year) each won at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which moved into the cutoff race of the Round of 16 this season.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “After last fall, I was really making sure I didn’t make any contact, to be honest with you.” — Denny Hamlin on being outside of Chase Elliott for the final restart. Hamlin crashed Elliott while racing for the lead at Martinsville Speedway on an overtime restart in October 2017.

WHAT’S NEXT: 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, 2 p.m., Oct. 14 on NBC.

Results, point standings after Kansas Xfinity race

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John Hunter Nemechek led the final 30 laps to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Kansas Speedway for his first Xfinity win.

Nemechek beat Daniel Hemric, Elliott Sadler, Shane Lee and Tyler Reddick.

Nemechek is the third first-time winner this season.

Hemric finished second after leading 128 laps. He is winless this year and has finished in the top three 11 times.

Click here for the results.

Points

After earning his best finish since the July race at Daytona, Elliott Sadler trails Daniel Hemric by nine points.

The top four – which will advance to the championship round – is rounded out by Tyler Reddick (-12) and Christopher Bell (-22).

The eight driver playoff field is completed by Matt Tifft (one point back from Bell), Justin Allgaier (five points from Bell), Cole Custer (23 points back from Bell) and Austin Cindric (43 points back from Bell).

Hemric’s car was found to be too low in post-race inspection, which is a L1 penalty. L1 penalties can include the loss of 10-40 points (in the past has been a 10 point penalty) and can include the suspension of crew chief and/or other team members and a fine between $10,000- $40,000.

Click here for the point standings.

 

John Hunter Nemechek earns first Xfinity Series win

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John Hunter Nemechek bounced back from two pit stop miscues in the last 50 laps to earn his first Xfinity Series win Saturday at Kansas Speedway.

Nemechek, 21, led the final 30 laps. That was after he went from fifth to first on the final restart with 32 laps to go.

The son of former Cup driver Joe Nemechek earned the win in his 15th start.

Nemechek had to pass Daniel Hemric, who finished second after leading 128 laps.

“It means a lot, especially at Kansas,” Nemechek told NBC. “(In) 2004, I forget how old I was. But dad swept the weekend in the Xfinity Series and the Cup Series. It’s pretty special.”

The top five was completed by Elliott Sadler, Shane Lee and Tyler Reddick.

Nemechek pitted with Hemric with 50 laps to go and slid through his pit box. He left pit road three seconds behind Hemric.

When the final caution waved with 36 laps to go, Nemechek had to pit twice to tighten lug nuts.

“When that caution came I knew we had a chance,” Nemechek told NBC. “Luckily Daniel and I raced each other hard and clean all day. We got the track position and this thing was unreal to the end.”

When Nemechek took the checkered flag, he led Hemric by roughly five seconds. Hemric said he had a vibration over the last 15 laps.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Daniel Hemric

STAGE 2 WINNER: John Hunter Nemechek

MORE: Results, point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Elliott Sadler earned his best finish since the July Daytona race (second) … Shane Lee placed fourth for his career-best finish … Tyler Reddick earned his first top five of the playoffs … Ryan Sieg placed ninth for his second top 10 of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Playoff contenders Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier, Austin Cindric and Christopher Bell were all involved in a nine-car wreck on Lap 1. Only Custer finished the race (26th) … Brandon Jones was eliminated via a one-car incident on the ensuing restart … After being involved in the Lap 1 crash, Spencer Gallagher was eliminated in one-car incident on Lap 26 … After Bell and Jones, Ryan Preece completed the Joe Gibbs Racing trifecta. He was involved in an incident on the last lap of Stage 2 when he was turned from contact with Joey Gase. Preece finished 21st.

NOTABLE: John Hunter Nemechek is the third driver to earn his first Xfinity win of the season (Ross Chastain, Spencer Gallagher).

POST-RACE INSPECTION: Daniel Hemric’s No. 21 Chevy was found to too low, which is a L1 penalty. L1 penalties can include the loss of 10-40 points (in the past it has been 10-point penalty) and suspension of crew chief and/or other team members and a fine between $10,000 – $40,000.

WHAT’S NEXT: O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway at 3:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 3. on NBCSN.

Video: Xfinity playoff contenders out after Lap 1 crash at Kansas

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Three of the eight playoff contenders were eliminated in a crash on the first lap of Saturday’s Xfinity race at Kansas Speedway, which opens the Round of 8.

Justin Allgaier, Christopher Bell, Austin Cindric and Cole Custer were involved in a nine-car wreck as the field raced through Turn 2. Allgaier, Bell and Cindric were eliminated while Custer’s team was able to make repairs to his No. 00 Ford.

It began when Allgaier got loose and made contact with Bell.

“Just hate it for everybody that we took out on Lap 1. It’s uncalled for, ” Allgaier told NBC. “That one’s on me.”

Bell, who won this race last year, told NBC he “didn’t really see much of anything” as the wreck developed. “Just heartbroken. This is one of my favorite race tracks we go to. Especially after the run I had last year. This was the race I was really looking forward to when we started the year back in February.”

Allgaier earned his second DNF of the playoffs while Bell and Cindric earned their first.

“It was just a racing incident,” Cindric said. “You don’t really expect something that big to happen in front of you on the first lap. … It is unfortunate that it happened that early. Huge points implications on my end and the owners championship end. I have to put my head down the next couple weeks and figure it out.”

Non-playoff drivers Michael Annett, Ryan Truex, Spencer Gallagher and Chase Briscoe were also involved.

The race restarted on Lap 12. The field was immediately slowed by a one-car incident involving Brandon Jones on the backstretch.

Kurt Busch fastest in final Cup practice at Kansas

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Kurt Busch led the way in the final practice session for Sunday’s Cup race at Kansas Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver posted a top speed of 186.226 mph.

The top five was completed by Erik Jones (186.104 mph), Aric Almirola (185.842), Kyle Busch (185.471) and Paul Menard (185.446).

MORE: Aric Almirola fastest in Saturday’s early practice

There were no incidents in the session.

Joey Logano, who was 12th fastest, recorded the most laps with 67.

Kyle Busch had the best 10-lap average at 183.094 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.