Martin Truex Jr. wins Kentucky Cup race for second straight year

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Martin Truex Jr. led the final 44 laps to win Saturday’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway and claim his fourth Cup victory of the season.

Truex, who started on the pole, repeated his performance from this race last year, sweeping the first two stages before earning the win. He led 174 laps.

The Furniture Row Racing driver passed Kurt Busch with 44 laps to go and went unchallenged, beating Ryan Blaney by just under two seconds.

The top five was completed by Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

“We made it look easy last year but it certainly wasn’t,” Truex told NBCSN. “Hats off to my guys for stickin’ with me all year. We’ve really been working hard on these race cars, trying to figure them out.”

It is the seventh time Truex has swept the first two stages and the fourth time he has gone on to win. He last did it at Auto Club Speedway in March.

Truex’s win is the 13th combined consecutive victory on a 1.5-mile track for Truex, Harvick and Busch.

Despite winning a series record seven times on mile-and-a-half tracks last year in his title campaign, this is Truex’s first this season.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr.

STAGE 2 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr.

MORE: Point standings

MORE: Race results

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Despite a speeding penalty early, Brad Keselowski finished third after he took just two tires on his last pit stop. It’s his third top five since March. … Ryan Blaney earned his best finish of the season and his best result since earning his first Cup win in June 2017. … Kevin Harvick earned his first career top five at Kentucky in eight starts. It is his 14th top five through 19 races this season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 26th after pitting twice early in Stage 1, the first time for a cut tire. … Alex Bowman brought out the first caution for an incident when he lost a tire and hit the outside wall on Lap 110. He finished last. … JJ Yeley brought out the final caution Lap 208 when the engine on his No. 23 Toyota expired.

NOTABLE: Jesse Little finished 35th in his Cup debut.

WHAT’S NEXT: Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at 2 p.m. ET on July 22 on NBCSN.

Updated entry lists for NASCAR at Daytona International Speedway

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NASCAR makes its second visit to Daytona International Speedway this weekend with the Cup and Xfinity Series.

Cup teams will hold the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday and the Xfinity Series precedes them Friday night.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for both races.

Cup – Coke Zero Sugar 400 (7 p.m. ET on Saturday on NBC)

There are 41 entries for the race. One car will not make the race.

Timothy Peters is entered in the No. 92 Ford owned by Ricky Benton Racing. It would be his second career Cup start.

Joey Gase is entered in StarCom Racing’s No. 00 Chevrolet. Landon Cassill is in the team’s No. 99 Chevrolet.

Brendan Gaughan is entered in Beard Motorsports’ No. 62 Chevrolet.

Ray Black Jr. is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 51 Ford. It would be Black’s fourth career Cup start and his first this season.

JJ Yeley is listed in the No. 23 for BK Racing. Gray Gaulding had run every race for the team this season.

Last year Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won this race over Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard. In February, Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500 over Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity – Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 (7:30 p.m. ET on Friday on NBCSN)

There are 41 cars entered for the race, meaning one team will not qualifying.

Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson are the only full-time Cup drivers entered.

Ryan Preece is entered in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota. Preece has not competed since his win at Bristol on April 14.

William Byron won this race last year over Elliott Sadler and Dakoda Armstrong. Tyler Reddick won at Daytona in February over Sadler in the closest finish in national NASCAR history.

Click here for the entry list.

Saturday’s practice holds at Charlotte Motor Speedway

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Five Cup teams will receive practice holds today during the final two practice sessions for the Coca-Cola 600.

JJ Yeley‘s team originally had a 15 minute hold in each session, the first for being late to qualifying inspection and the second for failing inspection twice.

Due to rain cancelling the first practice, Yeley will serve a 30 minute hold in final practice.

The teams of Aric Almirola, Kasey Kahne and Parker Kligerman will also receive 15 minute holds in final practice for failing inspection twice.

Kevin Harvick has a 30 minute hold in final practice for failing qualifying inspection three times.

Harvick will start from the rear Sunday and his car chief was ejected for the remainder of the race weekend.

 

Kyle Busch wins pole for Coca-Cola 600

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CONCORD, N.C. — Kyle Busch will start from his second career pole in the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday.

Busch claimed his third pole of the season Thursday with a top speed of 191.836 mph around Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Busch’s last Coke 600 pole was in 2008. His only other Charlotte pole was in 2014.

He has never won a points race at Charlotte.

“The M&M’s Camry was fast, it felt pretty good,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “The guys did an amazing job in practice, we weren’t very good in practice. … Fortunately I had extra track time, so I got my Xfinity ride to thank a little bit of that today. It’s all good, it was pure talent all the way around, this whole team.”

Busch’s “pure talent” remark was a reference to his criticism of his team following last week’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Busch will be joined on the front row by Joey Logano, who posted a speed of 191.218 mph. It ties Logano’s career-best qualifying result at Charlotte and his best for the year.

Completing the top five is Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones and Brad Keselowski.

Ryan Newman qualified sixth. It’s his best Coke 600 starting spot since winning the pole in 2010.

Of the top 11 qualifiers, none have won the Coke 600.

None of Hendrick Motorsports’ four cars will start in the top 20.

William Byron qualified 21st and he was followed by Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson. Alex Bowman qualified 27th.

“I got told that the fast guys had run the top and I tried it and it didn’t work,” Bowman said. “I mean that’s my fault, I should have stuck with what I know, but our Nationwide 88 car is not bad, we shouldn’t be the far back, but we will be okay on Sunday.”

Kevin Harvick, the defending pole-sitter for the race, will start from the rear after his No. 4 Ford failed inspection three times. His car chief, Robert Smith, has been ejected for the rest of the race weekend. Harvick will serve a 30 minute practice hold on Saturday.

Harvick is trying to win three consecutive races for the second time this season.

JJ Yeley also didn’t make a qualifying run and will start from the rear.

Ross Chastain, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Michael McDowell and AJ Allmendinger did not advance out of the first round.

Click here for the results.

Cup team’s debut stirs debate on value of smaller part-time teams

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The entry of NY Racing for this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 has stirred talk about the value of smaller teams unable to compete a full season in Cup after a comment from the chairman of the Race Team Alliance.

NY Racing is entered in its first Cup race of the year. JJ Yeley is the driver. The team announced Tuesday a multi-year deal with Steakhouse Elite as sponsor. The team is owned by John Cohen, whose previous Cup teams ran 16 races between 2012-15. His team’s best finish was 32nd in the 2015 Daytona 500 with Reed Sorenson. His teams also failed to qualify for seven races and withdrew five times.

The entry of NY Racing means one car will fail to qualify for the Coca-Cola 600. The five teams going for the four spots available for non-charter teams are those of BJ McLeod (No. 52, Rick Ware Racing), Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 55 Premium Motorsports), Timmy Hill (No. 66, Motorsports Business Management), Parker Kligerman (No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing) and Yeley.

NY Racing’s entry drew the ire of Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing and chairman of the Race Team Alliance. Kauffman tweeted about NY Racing’s entry and then responded to a few who questioned him.

Kauffman’s tweet drew a response from Xfinity driver Tommy Joe Martins, who has been vocal about the importance of smaller teams in NASCAR’s national series and the need to raise the profiles of such teams. Martins responded to Kauffman’s comments with a series of tweets.

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