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Kyle Busch finds runner-up finish in Daytona 500 ‘bittersweet’

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In his 14th attempt to conquer it, Kyle Busch had “probably the best chance” to win the Daytona 500.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver did earn his best finish in the event, but he was one spot shy of sending his No. 18 Toyota to victory lane.

Busch placed second in the middle of a Joe Gibbs Racing sandwich led by Denny Hamlin and completed by Erik Jones.

It is the first 1-2-3 finish for JGR since it began competing in Cup in 1992.

Busch’s previous best finish in the 500 was third in 2016.

The moment was made more “bittersweet” for Busch with it being the first race since the passing of J.D. Gibbs, the son of Joe Gibbs and co-founder of JGR.

“I’d have much rather have been the one to win the race and be in victory lane and celebrating with my team and with everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing and being a part of the J.D. celebration,” Busch said. “But overall, you know, you couldn’t be more thrilled for all the 500 people back at Joe Gibbs Racing that knew and respected and obviously looked up to J.D. for the person that he was and for the relationships that he gave all of us.”

Entering the only attempt at an overtime finish, Busch restarted second to Hamlin on the inside lane. Busch had agreed to let Hamlin in front of him at the drop of the green flag.

“It’s first and foremost to try to make sure that we at least get a JGR car to victory lane,” Busch said of the decision. “They didn’t want to do it the previous restart, but then since (Hamlin) got the lead, he wanted to do it again.”

Over the final two laps Busch had to find a way around his teammate at the right moment while he fended off charges from Jones, Joey Logano, Ryan Preece and Michael McDowell.

The opening never came.

With Hamlin out to a healthy lead exiting Turn 4 on the last lap, Busch had to sidedraft Logano on the outside to sweep around him to second place.

A winner of 51 Cup races, Busch will wait until his 15th Daytona 500 to get another shot at the “Great American Race.”

The race’s final run capped off a stretch where Hamlin and Busch led the final 38 laps.

“There at the end I think it was just track position, how we came off pit road,” Busch said. “The 11 and the 18 kind of kept the front of the field at bay for the rest of the day after … 30 to go.

“I think it was pretty evenly matched as the day went on, and we kind of saw that some of the Toyotas and ‑‑ I don’t know if it was just coincidence or what, but some of the Chevys were kind of working, and the speed was there in those situations to keep up with the Fords.”

Busch led four times for 47 of the race’s 207 laps and won the first stage of the race. He held the point position from Laps 191 – 198, which coincided with two of the three major wrecks in the final 20 laps.

“Brains come unglued. That’s all it is,” Busch said. “The brain connection from right up here to the gas pedal foot doesn’t quite work the same anymore. … I think I’ve been caught up in plenty of those.  It was nice to be in front of all of that tonight.”

 

Penalty report from Bristol Motor Speedway

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NASCAR has issued three fines to Cup Series crew chiefs for unsecured lug nuts following Saturday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Paul Wolfe, crew chief on Brad Keselowski‘s No. 2 Ford, Alan Gustafson, crew chief on Chase Elliott‘s No. 9 Chevrolet and Michael Bugarewicz, crew chief on Clint Bowyer‘s No. 14 Ford, have each been fined $10,000 for having one unsecured lug nut.

Those fines are in addition to the points penalties against Tyler Reddick‘s Xfinity Series team (10 driver and owner points) for failing pre-qualifying inspection four times.

NASCAR also indefinitely suspended Bayley Currey for violating its substance abuse policy.

Michael McDowell to honor Jimmy Means with Darlington scheme

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Front Row Motorsports is changing things up on its No. 34 Ford for the Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway next week (6 p.m. Sept 1 on NBCSN).

After three years of using the same retro Love’s Travel Stops paint scheme, the team will show up in Darlington next weekend with Dockside Logistics as Michael McDowell‘s primary sponsor. With that sponsor comes a tribute to long-time NASCAR owner and former driver Jimmy Means.

McDowell’s car will be made to look like the No. 52 Alka-Seltzer Pontiac Means owned and drove part-time from 1989-91 in the Cup Series.

One of Means’ cars, which was driven by Mike Wallace, is located in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car graveyard.

More: Retro Rundown of Southern 500 paint schemes

Front Row Motorsports was originally known as Means-Jenkins Motorsports, based on a partnership between Means and current FRM team owner Bob Jenkins. Their relationship began with Jenkins sponsoring Means at Bristol with his local Taco Bell franchise, which led Jenkins to a partial ownership of Means’ race team. The team was active for one year before Jenkins separated and founded Front Row Motorsports.

“Throwback weekend at Darlington is one of my favorites of the whole year,” McDowell said in a press release. “It’s fun to recreate some of the most well-known paint schemes throughout the history of our sport. Our owner, Bob Jenkins, has always admired Jimmy Means, and the Alka-Seltzer car is definitely a favorite of his. I’m really excited that we can honor their friendship with our No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford.”

Corey LaJoie to carry ‘Scooby Doo’ paint scheme at Martinsville

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Rut-roh.

Popular cartoon character Scooby Doo will be featured as the theme on Corey LaJoie’s No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford Mustang for the First Data 500 on Oct. 27 at Martinsville Speedway.

Long-time team sponsor Keen Parts/CorvetteParts.net will transform the team’s usual paint scheme to what it’s calling “the Mystery Machine” for the Martinsville race, which will be four days before Halloween.

“Scooby Doo was my favorite cartoon growing up, so when Tom and TJ (team co-sponsors Tom and TJ Keen) asked what I wanted to do for Martinsville, there was no doubt that I wanted to be driving the Mystery Machine,” LaJoie said in a media release. “They always have really cool themes behind their Halloween-weekend schemes and I’m excited to be part of this one and thankful for all that they do for our team.”

For last year’s fall race at Martinsville the team and sponsor combined for a purple and black Peanuts scheme that featured Snoopy and quickly became a much-talked about fan favorite.

“We are super excited to present this paint scheme to Corey to run at Martinsville,” said lTJ Keen. “This cartoon was his favorite as a kid and I bet it still is today. We cannot thank the team enough for letting us do these schemes and we hope you fans will enjoy it.”

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Richard Childress resigns from National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors

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On Monday, Richard Childress submitted his resignation letter as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Rifle Association and a handful of the organization’s committees, NBC Sports has confirmed.

The resignation came two days after the owner of Richard Childress Racing helped give the command to start engines  for the Cup Series night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, which was co-sponsored by Bass Pro Shops and the NRA.

“At this time, it is necessary for me to fully focus on my businesses,” Childress said in his letter. “I owe that to my employees, our partners, my family, and myself. Since proudly agreeing to serve on the NRA Board, I have supported the organization and its important mission to preserve and protect our Constitutional rights. But when, as now, I am no longer able to be fully engaged in any commitment I have made, it becomes time for me to step down. I have reached that point in my ability to continue to serve the NRA. As such, I must resign.”

According to the Washington Post, Childress is the sixth member of the Board of Directors to resign since May. The Board of Directors totals more than 70 members.

Childress was elected as the NRA’s second vice president in 2015 and had also served as the first vice president until he stepped down in April of this year.

Childress will retain his NRA membership moving forward.