Kyle Busch wins Cup playoff race at Phoenix

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Kyle Busch won Sunday’s Cup playoff elimination race at ISM Raceway to clinch a spot in the Championship 4 at Miami.

Busch claimed the victory in a 12-lap shootout to the finish, beating Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Aric Almirola and Kevin Harvick.

The Championship 4 will consist of Busch, Joey Logano, Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.

Busch led 117 laps on the way to his eighth win of the season, tying his career-best total.

“We had a rough start to the early part of this weekend,” Busch told NBC at the start-finish line. “It’s cool to put it where we need to right here right now in Victory Lane. … Man, what a day, what a race.”

The win is Busch’s first in Phoenix since 2005.

The race saw two red flags in the last 50 laps.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Chase Elliott

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch

MORE: Point standings

MORE: Race results

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Kevin Harvick placed in the top five after a flat tire with three laps left in Stage 1 sent him to pit road. He started Stage 2 a lap down … Aric Almirola earned his first top five in 16 Phoenix starts … Matt Kenseth placed seventh for his first top 10 in 14 starts this season with Roush Fenway Racing … Bubba Wallace placed 10th for his third top 10 of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Joey Logano finished 37th after he wrecked from a flat tire on Lap 96 … Clint Bowyer wrecked after he lost his left-rear tire on Lap 134. He finished 35th …. Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott’s chances to reach the Championship 4 ended in a four-car wreck out of Turn 2 on a restart with 44 laps to go .. Tanner Berryhill finished 31st in his Cup debut after causing two cautions.

NOTABLE: William Byron clinched the Rookie of the Year with his ninth-place finish … Kyle Busch tied Kevin Harvick with eight wins. This is the first time since 2008 (Carl Edwards – nine; Busch – eight) two drivers have won at least eight races. It’s just the second time since 1982 … Kyle Busch has now won on every track but the Charlotte Roval in a Toyota.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You look at all the teams we’re racing and they’ve got four, five, six, seven years working together, so what we’ve accomplished in one year is a hell of a lot, but right now all I can think about is being inside of Kyle (Busch) down there in the new (Turns) 1 and 2 and just not being able to get the power down to get up beside him.  It’s bittersweet.” – Aric Almirola on being eliminated from title contention

WHAT’S NEXT: Season finale in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway at 2:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 18 on NBC

Saturday’s schedule at Daytona, including Xfinity season opener

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Here’s the schedule for today’s action at Daytona International Speedway, highlighted by the Xfinity Series season opener, the NASCAR Racing Experience 300:

(All times are Eastern)

8 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

9:40 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying; single car/two rounds (Fox Sports 1)

10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Cup garage open

11:30 a.m. – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting

12:05 – 12:55 p.m. – Final Cup practice (FS1)

2 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

2:30 p.m. – Xfinity NASCAR Racing Experience 300; 120 laps/300 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Austin Hill wins Truck Series opener at Daytona in overtime finish

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Austin Hill won Friday’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series season opener at Daytona in an overtime finish, claiming his first career Truck Series win.

The win comes in Hill’s 52nd series start and his first with Hattori Racing Enterprises. Hill, a former member of the NASCAR Next driver program, took over for defending champion Brett Moffitt in the No. 16 Toyota.

Hill, 24, beat Grant Enfinger, Ross Chastain, Spencer Boyd and Matt Crafton in the second attempt at an overtime finish.

Hill, who is from Winston, Georgia, led 39 laps and survived a race that saw 11 cautions and 26 of 32 trucks involved in accidents.

“Man, this truck was fast,” Hill told Fox Sports 1. “I knew we had a truck that could compete. Got a little scared there at the end. I thought (Enfinger) was going to get me, he got a big run. We were able to protect it. I can’t believe my first win came at Daytona. It’s so surreal, I can’t wait to party with these guys.”

Hill’s win is the third in a row for Hattori after Moffitt won the last two races of 2018.

The overtime period was created by a wreck with two laps left in the scheduled 100-lap distance that involved 10 trucks and nearly every remaining frontrunner. The final restart was setup by a two-car incident on the first overtime attempt.

Only nine of the field’s 32 trucks took the final green flag.

“It was a crazy night … carnage everywhere,” Enfinger said. “We tore up a lot of crap tonight.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Johnny Sauter

Click here for the race results.

Click here for the point standings.

NOTABLE: Billy Rock, the jackman on the No. 28 of Bryan Dauzat, was awake and alert after he was hit on pit road early in the race by Dauzat, who had lost his brakes. Rock was transported to a local hospital … Angela Ruch, the niece of Derrike Cope, placed eighth in NEMCO Motorsports No. 8 truck. She is just the second woman to earn a top 10 in the Truck Series. Jennifer Jo Cobb placed sixth at Daytona in 2011.

NEXT: Active Pest Control 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway at 4:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 23 on Fox Sports 1

Christian Eckes wins Truck Series pole at Daytona

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Christian Eckes won the pole for tonight’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series season opener at Daytona.

Driving the No. 51 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports, Eckes posted a top speed of 182.604 mph.

It is the first career pole for 18-year-old Eckes in his fifth career start.

“I felt way more confident in our car in the draft yesterday,” Eckes told Fox Sports 1. “I really wasn’t sure where we would qualify but here we are on the pole.”

He will be joined on the front row by David Gilliland (182.556 mph).

The top five is completed by Todd Gilliland (181.686), Harrison Burton (181.357) and Grant Enfinger (181.349).

Burton will start from the rear after an engine change was made on his No. 18 Toyota on Thursday.

The race is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Meet the ‘Gen 7 for NASCAR’ that could include shorter races and capped costs

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Are shorter races better? That’s a discussion taking place in NASCAR, along with the length of the season and other key topics.

“We have to keep (fans) engaged,” car owner Jack Roush said Friday at Daytona International Speedway. “We have to think about their attention spans. The races may need to get shorter.  That could be cost savings all the way around. Probably need to get shorter. 

“People say we need to race fewer times. I’m not sure that’s true. I used to tell (NASCAR Vice Chairman) Mike Helton, if he had three or four races a week, I’d be there for him. I don’t know if I’d say that today.”

Already this week, Kevin Harvick has advocated eliminating the Clash, and Denny Hamlin has noted one of the most popular events in the Olympics is the 100-meter dash instead of the marathon, a hint to shorter races

These comments have been made as the sport looks to cut costs for teams and energize fans who can become weary over a 38-race season that goes from February to November. NASCAR President Steve Phelps said last year that various ideas would be considered for the 2020 schedule and beyond. 

Car owner Roger Penske, whose organization is coming off Joey Logano’s Cup championship season, likens the sport’s look at race lengths to its focus on the next car, which is targeted to debut in 2021.

“I think we’re really talking about Gen 7 for NASCAR,” Penske said, using the term for the next car. “It’s not just the car or the engine. I think it’s the show, it’s the length of the races, it’s where we’re going to run, are we going to run more at night, short tracks. Let’s call it Gen 7 for NASCAR, not just the car.”

A shorter season could limit how many weekends NASCAR goes head-to-head against the NFL in the fall. Shorter races could provide the opportunity for midweek races. The belief from those advocating shorter races is that it would create a better show for fans.

“I think it’s an exciting time for us really in the sport,” car owner Joe Gibbs said. “You know, there’s times that you struggle, and I think we have struggled some, but I honestly think (NASCAR Chairman) Jim France is on board and after it.  I think we, having constant meetings with everybody has kind of put everything on the table. 

“We’ve got a great fan base, but I think everything is really out there, scheduling, everything that you’re talking about, cost savings, everything is on the table. And so sometimes when you go through a tough time, those wind up being the best times because it causes you to really think your way through things.”

Just as important to teams are the costs, which NASCAR continues to look to cut. There’s also been talk of some type of spending limitation for teams.

“You’re going to see other things happen with the cars, engine packages, that’s going to reduce the cost,” car owner Rick Hendrick said. “So NASCAR is really on it. When you look at it, we talk about a spending cap. I don’t know how you regulate that with all we have going on. I mean, everything is on the table.”

Bob Jenkins, car owner for Front Row Motorsports, said cost containment can make an impact for his three-car organization.

“The ultimate goal has always got to be how can we do more with less with any team,” he said. “I think some of the larger teams have felt the financial pinch maybe more so than we have. When you’re in a constant evolution mode, it’s hard for us to keep up. We can make suspension changes a few times a year. Like Roger said, we can’t change cars every week.

“In previous years, we were always a generation or two behind and it shows on our performance. I think now when they come with these common parts that are produced by a third-party manufacturer that can’t be tweaked or re-engineered it only helps a team like us.”