Ty Majeski shakes off late-race contact to win Friday Night Thunder

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Ty Majeski once again showed why he’s one of the best iRacing drivers in the world, dominating from the pole en route to the win under the lights in Friday Night Thunder at a virtual Martinsville Speedway.

“I was able to control the race starting up front and was able to control all those restarts,” Majeski said on  the  eNASCAR broadcast. “Thankfully, I was just able to really stay in control the entire race, not make any mistakes and we were able to bring it home.

“Definitely, I feel like it was long overdue. I’ve always had speed but just never could put a whole race together.

“I don’t run these big cars a ton, so it took me a bit to find my rhythm with them and get the strategies right. I hurt myself so many times on strategy on the Pro Invitational races and Saturday Night Thunder races, so I just learned each and every week and we were finally able to put it all together tonight.

“It certainly helps being on a short track, which is what I primarily do on iRacing. So it was right in my wheelhouse and thankfully I was able to hold those guys off on all those restarts ad put a whole race together as well.”

Alex Labbe finished second, followed by Stefan Parsons, Donny Lia and Josh Berry.

Sixth through 10th were Chase Cabre, Derek Krause, Anthony Alfredo, Noah Gragson and Drew Herring.

Even after contact with Stephen Leicht with 14 laps to go didn’t keep Majeski from taking the checkered flag in the 125-lap race in Xfinity Series virtual cars.

Leicht had been involved in a solo incident and tried to spin his car back into traffic on the frontstretch, only to make contact with the cars of both Majeski and Lia.

Leicht was parked by race officials after turning into Majeski and Lia on Lap 111. The cars of both Majeski and Lia suffered only minor damage.

Majeski, a native of Seymour, Wisconsin, becomes the fifth and final different winner of the Friday or Saturday Night Thunder series.

Friday night’s race was a prelude to the final scheduled NASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series even, which takes place at 3 p.m. ET Saturday at a virtual North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Results

Feature

1. Ty Majeski
2. Alex Labbe
3. Stefan Parsons
4. Donny Lia
5. Josh Berry
6. Chase Cabre
7. Derek Kraus
8. Anthony Alfredo
9. Noah Gragson
10. Drew Herring
11. Ty Gibbs
12. Myatt Snider
13. Bayley Currey
14. Grant Enfinger
15. Christian Eckes
16. Ryan Ellis
17. Josh Bilicki
18. Landon Huffman
19. Kaz Grala
20. Ryan Truex
21. Brett Moffitt
22. Justin Allgaier
23. Kyle Weatherman
24. Harrison Burton
25. Jesse Iwuji
26. Logan Seavey
27. Jeb Burton
28. Todd Gilliland
29. Stephen Leicht
30. Drew Dollar

Heat 1 (10 laps – top 6 drivers advance to main event)

1. Ty Majeski
2.
Chase Cabre
3. Todd Gilliland
4. Brett Moffitt
5. Drew Dollar
6. Ryan Truex
7. Grant Enfinger
8. Ryan Truex
9. Chase Briscoe
10. Ty Gibbs

Heat 2 (10 laps – top 6 drivers advance to main event)

1. Anthony Alfredo
2. Stephen Leicht
3. Harrison Burton
4. Josh Bilicki
5. Landon Huffman
6. Myatt Snider
7. Drew Herring
8. CJ McLaughlin
9. Ryan Vargas
10. Ruben Garcia Jr.

Heat 3 (10 laps – top 6 drivers advance to main event)

1. Donny Lia
2. Josh Berry
3. Justin Allgaier
4. Derek Kraus
5. Kyle Weatherman
6. Kaz Grala
7. Brandon Brown
8. Jeffrey Earnhardt
9. Spencer Boyd
10. Scott Stenzel

Heat 4 (10 laps – top 6 drivers advance to main event)

1. Alex Labbe
2. Stefan Parsons
3. Bayley Currey
4. Logan Seavey
5. Noah Gragson
6. Christian Eckes
7. Ryan Ellis
8. Austin Cindric
9. Will Rodgers
10. Matt Mills

Last Chance qualifying race (15 laps – top six drivers advance to main event)

1. Grant Enfinger
2. Drew Herring
3. Jesse Iwuji
4. Ryan Ellis
5. Ty Gibbs
6. Jeb Burton
7. Scott Stenzel
8. Jeffrey Earnhardt
9. Chase Briscoe
10. Austin Cindric
11. Ruben Garcia Jr.
12. Will Rodgers
13. CJ McLaughlin
14. Brandon Brown
15. Ryan Vargas
16. Spencer Boyd
17. Matt Mills

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NASCAR weekend schedule for Talladega Superspeedway

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The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs roll into Talladega Superspeedway, a center of uncertainty, for the second race in the Round of 12 this weekend.

Sunday’s race (2 p.m. ET, NBC) could place the first driver in the Round of 8. Any playoff driver who wins the race automatically advances to the next round.

Through the playoffs to date, playoff drivers are batting zero in the race-win category. Non-playoff drivers — Tyler Reddick, Chris Buescher, Bubba Wallace and Erik Jones — have scored wins in the first four playoff races.

Joey Logano leads the playoff points entering the race. Ross Chastain, who won at Talladega earlier this year, is second.

The four drivers below the cutline are Austin Cindric, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman. Byron was above the line earlier this week but was penalized 25 points for spinning Denny Hamlin under caution last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. That move lifted Chase Briscoe above the cutline.

Playoff races also are scheduled for the Xfinity Series (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, USA Network) and the Camping World Truck Series (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., FS1) at Talladega.

Here’s a look at the Talladega weekend schedule:

Talladega Superspeedway (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Friday: Sunny. High of 78.

Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 74.

Sunday: Intervals of clouds and sun. High of 75.

Friday, Sept. 30

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. — Truck Series
  • 10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. — Xfinity Series
  • 2 – 7 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 3:30 – 5 p.m. — Truck Series qualifying
  • 5:30 – 7 p.m. — Xfinity Series qualifying (USA Network)

Saturday, Oct. 1

Garage open

  • 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 9:30 a.m. — Truck Series
  • 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 2

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 2 p.m. — Cup Series race (188 laps, 500 miles; NBC, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Short-track ace Sam Ard shares Xfinity record with Noah Gragson

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Former two-time Xfinity Series champion Sam Ard’s name returned to the forefront in the past week as Noah Gragson tied Ard’s series record for consecutive victories at four.

Although Ard has been nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, his exploits generally aren’t well-known among many who follow the modern sport of stock car racing. He was on the Hall voting list for the 2023 class but was not elected.

In the 1970s and ’80s, Ard was a short-track master in the vein of stars like Jack Ingram, Harry Gant and Butch Lindley, drivers who could show up at virtually any half-mile track across the country and take home the trophy.

He won the NASCAR Late Model (now the Xfinity Series) championship in 1983 and 1984, scoring 18 wins across those two seasons. He put together four victories in a row late in the 1983 season, winning at South Boston, Virginia; Martinsville, Virginia; Rougemont, North Carolina and Charlotte.

Ard was so dominant in 1984 that he had wrapped up the seasonal championship with two races remaining. In 28 series starts that year, he had 24 top-five finishes and 26 top-10 runs. He won eight times.

In the next-to-last race of the 1984 season, at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, Ard suffered critical head injuries when his car slid in fluid from another vehicle and hit the track’s outside wall.

That crash effectively ended Ard’s career and impacted the rest of his life. Ard often talked of learning to walk again as part of his recovery. He said he would use a walker in a pile of sawdust in his backyard so that the landing would be softer when he fell.

Ard eventually was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. In 2006, responding to Ard’s financial problems, drivers Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr., among others, launched a drive to raise funds for his family.

Ard, a native of Scranton, S.C., died in April 2017. He was 78.

 

 

 

 

 

Drivers to watch in Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway

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The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs will reach a critical point Sunday in a 500-mile chase at treacherous Talladega Superspeedway.

The overriding factor in any race at Talladega, NASCAR’s biggest track, is the unknown. With cars running so fast and so close together, multi-car accidents are not only possible but expected, and it’s easy to become the innocent victim of someone else’s mistake.

MORE: NASCAR penalizes William Byron for spinning Denny Hamlin

The tension is doubled for the 12 playoff drivers. A bad finish at Talladega could open the door for a probable playoff exit at the end of the round Oct. 9 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

The playoffs to date have seen four wins by non-playoff drivers, an unprecedented result. Tyler Reddick was the most recent to join that list with a win last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

A look at drivers to watch at Talladega:

FRONTRUNNERS

Denny Hamlin

  • Points position: 6th
  • Last three races: 10th at Texas, 9th at Bristol, 2nd at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 2 career wins

Although he hasn’t won, Hamlin has finished in the top 10 in all four playoff races. In the past six races at Talladega, he has four finishes of seventh or better. Now if he can just keep people from running into him…

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Last three races: 7th at Texas, 3rd at Bristol, 6th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: Best career finish is a second

Byron stands alone as the only playoff driver who has been able to avoid major crashes and trouble in the pits, and he has finished in the top 10 in all four playoff races. After Tuesday’s penalty for his incident with Denny Hamlin at Texas, he sits below the cutline entering Sunday’s race.

Brad Keselowski

  • Points position: 24th
  • Last three races: 8th at Texas, 13th at Bristol, 25th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 6 wins, the active leader

Even in trying times, Keselowski is a threat at Talladega, where he last won in April 2021 (his last Cup victory). He has led 268 laps there in the past 13 races.

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Kyle Busch

  • Points position: 15th
  • Last three races: 36th at Texas, 34th at Bristol, 26th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 1 career win, in 2008

Is Busch going to steadily disappear into the mist as he rides out the final weeks of his final year with Joe Gibbs Racing? His best finish in the past four races is 26th. On the positive side this week, he’s the only driver to finish in the top 10 in this year’s three races at Daytona and Talladega.

Chase Elliott

  • Points position: 8th
  • Last three races: 32nd at Texas, 2nd at Bristol, 11th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 1 career win, in 2019

Can Elliott rebound from a fiery finish and a 32nd-place run at Texas? Playoff points give him some comfort, but a second career win at Talladega would be greatly appreciated in the Hendrick camp.

Martin Truex Jr.

  • Points position: 17th
  • Last three races: 31st at Texas, 36th at Bristol, 5th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: Best career finish is 5th

Will one of the sport’s most enduring mysteries continue at Talladega? In 70 career starts at Daytona and Talladega, Truex, a former champion and a smooth driver, has zero wins. At Talladega, he has only three top-five finishes in 35 starts.

 

 

 

NBC will broadcast final six NASCAR Cup Series playoff races

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The final six races in the chase for the NASCAR Cup Series championship will be televised by NBC.

The races remaining on the schedule are at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2), the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 16), Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 23), Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 30) and Phoenix Raceway (Nov. 6).

NBC’s broadcasting team will be on hand Sunday for what is typically a seasonal highlight — a 500-mile race at Talladega Superspeedway. The next week the playoffs move on to Charlotte for a cutoff race. The lowest four drivers in the playoff point standings will be eliminated from championship competition.

The Round of 8 is scheduled at Las Vegas, Homestead and Martinsville, with the tiny Martinsville track serving as the final cutoff race. The four drivers who advance from Martinsville will race for the title at Phoenix Nov. 6.

The high drama of the Phoenix race, in which the championship will go to the highest finisher of the four competing drivers, will be carried by both NBC and Peacock.

Post-race commentary and analysis for all six remaining Cup races will be carried on Peacock.

Kyle Larson is the series defending champion. Joey Logano carries the point lead into Sunday’s race at Talladega.