Denny Hamlin wins final playoff elimination race, clinches spot in title round

2 Comments

Denny Hamlin won Sunday’s final Cup Series playoff elimination race at ISM Raceway in a three-lap shootout, fending off teammate Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney and clinching a spot in the championship round in Miami (3 p.m. ET Nov. 17 on NBC).

Hamlin entered the final playoff elimination race as the first driver outside the final four by 20 points. He led 143 of 312 laps and torched the field over the final stage, lapping up to seventh place at one point.

“I can’t believe it,” Hamlin told NBC at the start-finish line. “This race team worked so hard this whole year. They deserve it. I put them in a bad hole last week (when he wrecked at Texas). I told them today … I’m going to give them everything I’ve got to make up for the mistake I made last week. That’s all I got.”

The final sprint to the finish was set up by a caution for John Hunter Nemechek with nine laps to go. Hamlin had an eight-second lead on Busch at the time. When the leaders pit, Hamlin’s team elected to take two tires along with Ryan Blaney, while Busch and the rest of the leaders took four tires.

“One of the best cars of my career, I can tell you that,” Hamlin said in victory lane. “I pushed for all I had. I mean, that’s all I got. Once we got the big lead there, a little over 10 seconds, I just kind of sat there. I got to thinking about if the caution does come out, I want to lap as many as I can.”

The top five was completed by Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick.

Hamlin will join Busch, Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. in the championship round, pitting three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers against Stewart-Haas Racing’s Harvick. Of the four, Hamlin is the only driver without a Cup title.

Defending champion Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Blaney and Chase Elliott were eliminated from contention.

With the win, Hamlin joins Harvick as the second driver to win at Phoenix in order to advance to the title round (2014). Harvick went on win in Miami to claim the title.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Denny Hamlin won the stage in a three-lap shootout after restarting fourth following pit stops.

STAGE 2 WINNER: Joey Logano led every green flag lap in the stage to win it over Hamlin and Chase Elliott

More: Race results, points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ryan Blaney finished third for the second straight race at ISM Raceway. He ended the Round of 8 with two top fives and an eight-place finish … Kyle Larson has finished sixth or better in his last three starts at ISM Raceway … Martin Truex Jr. (sixth) earned his eighth top-10 finish in the nine playoff races so far.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: After running in the top five most of the day, Chase Elliott lost a tire and backed into the Turn 2 wall on Lap 166, ending his day with a last-place finish in 39th. He finished 32nd or worst in all three Round of 8 races … After Joey Logano won Stage 2, he quickly dropped through the field and was lapped by Denny Hamlin with 75 laps to go. He finished ninth.

“I went from a car that could lead and win a stage and run really well, and from what they told me, it was an air pressure adjustment made it go from a winning car to can’t stay on the lead lap,” Logano told NBC. “One of the tightest things I’ve ever driven.  I don’t really understand it.  It doesn’t make any sense.”

NOTABLE: Hamlin delivered Joe Gibbs Racing its 18th Cup win of the year. That is tied with Hendrick Motorsports for the most in a single season in the modern era. Toyota claimed its third manufacturer’s title in four years with the win … This the third straight season a Chevrolet driver has failed to make the championship round.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “I was definitely not wanting to see that last caution. I would have been great with a nice, boring walk-off home run. But it did not turn out that way and forced to make a really tough decision.” — Denny Hamlin’s crew chief, Chris Gabehart, on the late-race caution the resulted in the No. 11 team taking two tires instead of four.

WHAT’S NEXT: Ford EcoBoost 400 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway at 3 p.m. ET Nov. 17  on NBC.

 

Former NASCAR Chairman Brian France defends leadership style in interview

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
1 Comment

Former NASCAR Chairman Brian France defended his leadership style when running the stock-car series and said in an interview with Sports Business Journal that he was working on leaving the sport before he was ousted after his DWI arrest in August 2018.

The interview with Sports Business Journal marked France’s first public comments since his arrest.

France became NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in September 2003, assuming the position from his father, Bill France Jr.

Brian France held that position until Aug. 6, 2018, when he took a leave of absence after his arrest for driving while intoxicated in Sag Harbor, New York. He was replaced by Jim France and did not return to NASCAR.

Brian France pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in June 2019. As part of the agreement, he was required to complete 100 hours of community service and undergo alcohol counseling. If he completes those and does not run afoul of the law, his misdemeanor charge will be reduced to a non-criminal infraction in June 2020.

France told Sports Business Journal that he was actively talking to and identifying potential replacements before his arrest but did not go into detail.

France, who oversaw the TV deal with NBC and Fox that goes through 2024 and created what the Chase/playoff format, defended his absence from the track during his reign. France did not attend every race and that became an issue in the garage, raising questions about how involved he was with the sport.

“I understand that kind of criticism, but there is no other sports league that gets any criticism like that,” France told Sports Business Journal of the time he spent at the track. “I’ve always found that a bit interesting that no one else asks another commissioner how many football games or practices he made.”

Jim France is at the track nearly every weekend. Brian France told Sports Business Journal that while his uncle attends more races to match his objective, “(it) didn’t match up with mine, so I had to take the criticism on my way to managing the commercial side.”

France, who endorsed Donald Trump for president at a Feb. 29, 2016 rally at Valdosta State University in Georgia, accompanied President Trump on Air Force One to Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, according to the pool media report.

Monday’s Daytona 500: Restart time, weather and more

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
Leave a comment

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Let’s try this again.

After rain postponed Sunday’s race, Cup drivers will get back on track Monday at Daytona International Speedway to complete the Daytona 500. And the forecast looks very good for Monday’s race.

The race was halted after 20 of 180 laps with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leading.

Here are today’s details:

(All times are Eastern)

RESTART: Command to fire engines at 4:05 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:12 p.m. 

DISTANCE: 180 of the scheduled 200 laps remain to be run on the 2.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 65. Stage 2 ends on Lap 130.

TV/RADIO: Fox’s broadcast begins at 4 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s broadcast begins at 4 p.m. and also can be heard on mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 73 degrees and a 3% chance of rain when the race resumes.

RUNNING ORDER:

  1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Aric Almirola
  4. Ryan Newman
  5. Kevin Harvick
  6. Brad Keselowski
  7. William Byron
  8. Jimmie Johnson
  9. Ty Dillon
  10. Timmy Hill
  11. David Ragan
  12. Chris Buescher
  13. Matt DiBenedetto
  14. Chase Elliott
  15. Ross Chastain
  16. Alex Bowman
  17. Kyle Larson
  18. Kurt Busch
  19. Austin Dillon
  20. Cole Custer
  21. Michael McDowell
  22. Tyler Reddick
  23. Ryan Blaney
  24. Bubba Wallace
  25. Reed Sorenson
  26. BJ McLeod
  27. Corey LaJoie
  28. Brendan Gaughan
  29. Ryan Preece
  30. Justin Haley
  31. Martin Truex Jr.
  32. Kyle Busch
  33. Erik Jones
  34. Christopher Bell
  35. Denny Hamlin
  36. Clint Bowyer
  37. John Hunter Nemechek
  38. Quin Houff
  39. Joey Gase
  40. Brennan Poole

Daytona 500 postponed to Monday

AP Photo/Terry Renna
Leave a comment

The Daytona 500 has been postponed until Monday, NASCAR announced Sunday evening.

The race is scheduled to take the green flag at 4:05 p.m. ET Monday. The garage will open at 1:30 p.m. The race will air on Fox.

The wunderground.com forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 72 degrees and an 11% chance of rain when the race is scheduled to resume.

The race was scheduled to take the green flag Sunday at 3:18 p.m. ET but that was pushed back because of President Donald Trump’s participation in ceremonies before the race. He gave the command to start engines and his motorcade led the field on a pace lap. An extra pace lap was done to honor Jimmie Johnson, who is making his final Daytona 500 start.

As the field was set to take the green flag at 3:29 p.m. ET, rain in Turns 1 and 2 prevented the start. Rain fell throughout the track and led to a 51-minute delay.

When the race resumed, the field completed 20 laps before rain led to a caution at 4:36 p.m. ET. The field again was brought to pit road and the race was stopped. NASCAR told teams they could uncover cars on pit road at 6:18 p.m. ET but almost immediately there were reports of rain drops around the track. Drivers were called to their cars but never got in them. It began to pour around 6:44 p.m. ET. The race was called at 6:50 p.m. ET

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led the opening 20 laps. He is followed by Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick.

Sixth through 10th is Brad Keselowski, William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, Ty Dillon and Timmy Hill.

This is the second time the Daytona 500 has been postponed by rain. It happened in 2012.

Daytona 500 once again under rain delay

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rain has once again put a damper on the 62nd Daytona 500.

The race got through the first 20 laps of the scheduled 200-lap event before the yellow flag came out, sending cars back to the pits.

Pole Sitter Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and his Chevrolet has led all laps since the green flag fell. Fords make up the next five spots (Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski), while the highest Toyota’s driver — Martin Truex Jr. — is back in 31st place.

It was the second time rain has impacted the event. After seven pace laps, the start of the race was delayed for 51 minutes due to rain. Engines were re-fired at 4:14 p.m. ET

The race is airing on Fox.

We will keep you updated on the status of the race and when it resumes.