Denny Hamlin takes pole for Sunday’s start of second round of Cup playoffs

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Denny Hamlin on Saturday earned the pole for Sunday’s first race of the second round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs at Dover International Speedway.

Hamlin covered the 1-mile oval at 166.984 mph. It’s Hamlin’s second pole of the season, the fourth of his career at Dover and the overall 32nd pole of his Cup career. Even with his pole success at the Monster Mile, Hamlin has yet to earn a win there in 27 previous career starts.

“I got him (Kyle Larson, who will start second), I’m so happy I beat him,” a smiling Hamlin told NBCSN. “To have that lap there, it was a really good lap for us. I knew when I ran it that it was solid. … This is probably as optimistic as I’ve been going into a Dover race because we’ve really dedicated so much time working on my technique around this race track and figuring out what I need to do to be successful. I’m still learning, even for start No. 500.”

Sunday will be Hamlin’s 500th career NASCAR Cup start. He’s in good company: NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty and Matt Kenseth also won in their 500th career starts.

“I really do (feel like he can win Sunday),” Hamlin told NBCSN. “It just seems like in practice I was really comfortable in the car. Usually, my emote here is usually very uncomfortable, but this FedEx team really has given me something this weekend that’s been driving good and I’ve been happy with it. We definitely did not expect that type of lap in qualifying.”

Larson will start alongside Hamlin on the front row with a speed of 166.960 mph.

Even though his car failed all pre-qualifying inspection attempts and his chief engineer was ejected from the track as a result, Martin Truex Jr. was still able to rally back to take the third starting spot (166.205 mph).

Kevin Harvick was fourth-fastest (165.998 mph), followed by Roval winner Chase Elliott (165.937 mph), William Byron (165.738), Aric Almirola (165.670), Erik Jones (165.616), Kurt Busch (165.388) and Ryan Blaney (165.282).

Click here for the full qualifying results.

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Sioux Chief to sponsor ARCA Showdown, East Series to race at Nashville Fairgrounds

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ARCA announced Saturday that Sioux Chief Manufacturing will be the entitlement sponsor of its 10-race ARCA Menards Series Showdown in 2020.

Sioux Chief Manufacturing is a Missouri company that designs and manufactures rough plumbing products, parts, and accessories for residential, commercial, industrial and government applications

Sioux Chief has been involved in ARCA since 2015 as a race event sponsor and special awards program sponsor and sponsored ARCA’s former Short Track Challenge.

As part of the deal, a newly increased point fund, combined with race purses, owner plan, and contingency awards, will offer teams a chance to compete for a share of over $920,000 in posted awards throughout the series.

The Sioux Chief Showdown will bring together the best drivers from the ARCA Menards Series, the ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West, formerly known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Those events, held on oval tracks 1.25-miles in length and under and road courses, offer drivers who may not be able or eligible to run the full 20-race ARCA Menards Series schedule the opportunity to run for a championship. Combined with the overall ARCA Menards Series championship, and the East and West championships, drivers will have four separate championships to compete for in 2020.

The announcement was made at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Indianapolis. Also present was promoter Bob Sargent of Track Enterprises, who announced that the ARCA Menards Series East would compete at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on May 2.

The Tennessean reported this week that the Nashville Fairgrounds was negotiating with Sargent to promote at least three races at the short track in 2020. Sargent’s involvement in the track comes after Nashville’s Fair Board voted to terminate its agreement with Formosa Productions to run the track over outstanding debt.

The ARCA Menards Series has competed at the Fairgrounds the last five seasons. The ARCA Menards Series East, formerly known as the K&N Pro Series East, competed there from 2007-08.

GMS Racing reveals full-time driver-crew chief lineup, number assignments

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GMS Racing has announced its full-time driver-crew chief lineup for the 2020 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season and number assignments for its trucks:

– Chad Norris has been named crew chief for Brett Moffitt and the No. 23 Chevrolet team. Moffitt drove the No. 24 in his first season with the team. Norris has been with GMS Racing for two years and directed the effort that delivered the team its 2018 Xfinity Series win at Talladega.

– Chad Walter will lead Tyler Ankrum and the No. 26 team. 2020 will be Ankrum’s first season with GMS Racing. Walter served as an engineer for Ankrum this season at DGR-Crosley. Walter has five wins and 42 top fives in 208 Xfinity Series starts as crew chief.

– Kevin “Bono” Manion is paired with Zane Smith on the No. 21 Chevrolet. 2020 will be Smith’s first full-time Trucks season after competing part-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. Manion has 24 wins as crew chief across all three national series since 2003. He led Martin Truex Jr. to his two Xfinity Series titles.

– Jeff Stankiewicz will remain as the crew chief for the No. 2 team piloted by Sheldon Creed.

Social Roundup: How NASCAR drivers are spending their offseason

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NASCAR’s Champion’s week is now behind us and we are firmly in the offseason.

Well, sort of.

The NASCAR world never really stops, which is evident simply due to the continued announcements for the 2020 season.

But with Joey Logano testing the Next Gen car at Phoenix earlier this week and Dale Earnhardt Jr. helping clean up North Wilkesboro Speedway for iRacing, it’s been anything but quiet.

Here’s a look at what else happened in the NASCAR community this week.

Someone needs to check in on Jimmie Johnson, he could be in his own version of Mr. Mom.

Chris Buescher is home again.

The 2015 Xfinity Series champion is back at Roush Fenway Racing for the 2020 Cup season and he’s got the firesuits and cars to prove it.

Brad Keselowski recently became father to a second daughter.

He’s now learning some important life lessons.

Former Front Row Motorsports driver Matt Tifft is now off the market after getting married to his fiance, Jordan. Now they’re on their honeymoon.

 

Matt DiBenedetto showed off one of the perks of being a Wood Brothers Racing employee.

Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace went somewhere warm to start their holiday.

Joey and Caitlin Gase welcome twin sons

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Joey Gase Twitter
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Xfinity Series driver Joey Gase and his wife Caitlin are now parents to twin boys

The babies were born on Wednesday. Their names are Jace and Carson.

More: Brad and Paige Keselowski welcome second daughter