Ross Chastain declares for Truck Series driver points, will race at Texas

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With eight of 23 races already complete in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series season, Ross Chastain has declared for Truck Series driver points, switching from the Xfinity Series, and will attempt to compete for the Truck championship, Niece Motorsports announced Tuesday.

Chastain won the May 10 Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway and has finished in the top 10 in every race so far.

But the Kansas win does not lock Chastain into the playoffs. After spotting his competitors eight races, he will start with zero points, will have to win again and then be in the top 20 in points to guarantee himself a spot in the playoffs.

With eight races left in the Truck Series regular season, Jesse Little, who has only made five starts, is currently 20th in the Truck standings with 91 points.

Section 17.6.d in the Truck Series rulebook states any driver who is allowed to change their points declaration “will forfeit any driver points earned up to that point (in another series) and start at zero points” in that series.

Chastain was 13th in the Xfinity Series following Saturday’s race at Pocono. Twelve drivers make it into the Xfinity playoffs. Chastain was 23 points behind the cutoff spot with 14 races left in the regular season.

Chastain has also competed in every national NASCAR series race this year across all three series, totaling 34 starts.

That streak will continue Friday night when Chastain drives the No. 38 Chevrolet for Niece Motorsports at Texas Motor Speedway. TJ Bell Jr. was originally entered in the truck.

The Texas race is the first of three consecutive races that are being labelled as the “Triple Truck Challenge,” with individual race winners being awarded $50,000. A driver could earn $500,000 if they win all three races.

Only drivers earning Truck Series points are eligible for the program.

“After much consideration and many conversations, I’ve decided to pursue championship points in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, effective immediately,” Chastain said in a press release. “This shift will allow me to be in the truck race this weekend in Texas, and I’m grateful to everyone at Niece Motorsports for giving me this opportunity.”

Chastain will continue to compete for JD Motorsports and Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series where sponsorship has been “solidified.” He is set to compete in three more races for Kaulig Racing.

“I know this is the best decision for me at this time and am thankful for everyone who has and will continue to support me moving forward into 2019 and beyond,” Chastain said.

Chastain drove the No. 45 Chevy in the first eight Truck races of the year. Kyle Benjamin will drive it this weekend.

“I know it won’t be easy, but I believe this team is capable of making the playoffs and competing for a championship with Ross,” team owner Al Niece said in a press release.  “We are proud to bring trucks capable of winning to the race track. It takes a lot of work to get there and we don’t take it lightly. We’re ready to see what the next eight races bring.”

NASCAR mourns Kobe Bryant

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Joining their brethren in other sports, the NASCAR world took to social media upon learning the tragic news of the death of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, killed Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

Bryant had met a number of NASCAR drivers in his career, including Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano. They were among a number of NASCAR notables who took to social media to mourn Bryant:

 

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Chad Knaus and wife expecting second child

Photo courtesy Brooke Knaus official Instagram account
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Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion crew chief Chad Knaus and wife Brooke are expecting their second child.

Brooke made the announcement Saturday on her Instagram account.

The couple, already parents to one-year-old son Kip, will soon be adding a daughter to their growing family.

Brooke Knaus’s Instagram post said the baby is due in July.

Kip figured prominently in the baby revelation, coming at the end of mom and dad’s ski run while vacationing in Telluride, Colorado:

 

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Kyle Larson flips, misses finals of Australia’s biggest sprint car race

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Kyle Larson’s hope of following up last week’s Chili Bowl win with a triumph in Australia’s prestigious Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic fell far short Sunday.

Larson’s bid to race his way into the 24-car finals of the three-day race at Premier Speedway in Warrnambool, Australia, ended when he flipped (uninjured) on the opening lap of a last-chance qualifying heat race earlier in the evening.

Instead of being one of the featured drivers in the Classic’s 40-lap finale – the largest and most popular sprint car race of the year in the land down under – Larson was left to watch the event from the pits and cheer on Dyson Motorsport teammate and fellow American Carson Macedo.

Even that didn’t go very well, as Macedo flipped his own sprint car on the first lap of the Classic, resulting in a last-place finish. The highest finishing American was Cory Eliason, who ended up fourth.

Meanwhile, it was an all-Australian podium, with James McFadden winning the Classic for the second time in his career, followed by James Veal and Kerry Madsen.

In eight days, Larson went from capturing what he called the biggest win ever of his racing career on all levels – the Chili Bowl in his 13th try last Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma – to nothing but bad luck and utter frustration throughout his Australian journey.

Larson’s first race on Wednesday in the King’s Challenge at Borderline Speedway was rained out.

Then, in the first night of the Classic on Friday, Larson wrecked heavily in his first heat race, including flipping (he was uninjured). After his team repaired his car, Larson went back on the track, only to suffer a blown engine that knocked him out of contention to race in that evening’s feature event.

After not being on the schedule to race in Night 2 of the Classic on Saturday, Larson had one last chance to make Sunday’s featured championship event.

A total of 80 drivers battled it out in the B, C and D Mains for the eight remaining spots in the A Main, but Larson would end up not being one of those — as can be seen in the second line of the following tweet by his team:

Larson now returns to the United States to prepare for the Daytona 500 on February 16.

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Kyle Busch feeling like ‘the new guy’ during his Rolex 24 debut at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch was looking forward to his first stint at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The two-time Cup champion was less enthused about his second turn behind the wheel in the IMSA season opener. Busch will climb back into the No. 14 Lexus RCF GT3 at 2 a.m. Sunday, just past the midpoint of the endurance race classic at Daytona International Speedway.

“That’s going to suck, yeah,” Busch deadpanned. “That’s exactly when I told them I did not want to run, and I got it.  Thank you very much.

“(I’m) the new guy.  I pulled the short straw.”

Click here to read more about how Busch felt about his AIM Vasser Sullivan car.