Getty Images

Jeffrey Earnhardt, Xfinity team have been ‘putting all of our focus’ into Atlanta

1 Comment

While last Saturday’s Xfinity Season opener at Daytona marked Jeffrey Earnhardt‘s debut with Joe Gibbs Racing, most of his team’s energy was spent preparing for another race.

The No. 18 team’s main concern entering 2019 was what awaited them in the season’s second race weekend in Atlanta.

“When we started to prepare for this season, we didn’t really focus on Daytona,” Earnhardt said in a media release. “Then we went down there and ran well. We’ve been putting all of our focus into Atlanta from the very start of this.”

In a rather uneventful Daytona race, the grandson of Dale Earnhardt Sr. started second and led the first 29 laps before losing the lead on the last lap of Stage 1 to Justin Haley and finishing fourth. He then placed outside the top 10 in Stage 2 and finished 15th in the race, three spots shy of his career-best result.

The 29 laps led were more than in his first 66 Xfinty starts combined.

Now comes Earnhardt’s second of nine Xfinity starts with JGR. He will try to really show off what he’s capable of as a driver on the abrasive 1.54-mile surface at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“Going into Atlanta, I feel like we’re going to be even better than we were last weekend,” Earnhardt said. “The Gibbs cars ran well in Atlanta last year, but it’s a track where the quality of your equipment really shows and it’s more about the driver than compared to Daytona, which can be a wildcard.”

Earnhardt has two Xfinity starts at Atlanta, but none since 2015. His best result is 25th.

JGR has two Atlanta wins in 43 combined Xfinity starts there. Both victories belong two Kyle Busch (2016-17). Last year JGR had one top five (Christopher Bell, third) and a top 10 (Kyle Benjamin, eighth) while Brandon Jones placed 17th.

“I really feel (Daytona was) just the beginning of what will turn out to be the best season I’ve had in a long time,” Earnhardt said. “As I said, we’ve been working on our Atlanta preparation for a few months now, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone when we go out and do the same this weekend. I’m looking forward to adding a few more things to the list of career firsts and career highs by the time we leave Georgia.”

Earnhardt’s crew chief, Ben Beshore, called Daytona a “positive” experience for the team but said Atlanta will present “quite a difference” when it comes to team communication.

“There’s a lot more going on,” Beshore said. “You’re not wide open all the way around and you’re not at the mercy of who is pushing you or who is in front of you. Atlanta is a lot more handling focused and Jeffrey is going to be out there by himself to where he controls his own destiny with the feedback he gives to us.

“We’ve done a lot of work on that communication ahead of time so that when we arrive there is already a comfortability level and we’re able to give him the adjustments he needs to keep the iK9 Toyota Supra up front.”

 

Johnny Sauter triumphs in truck race at Martinsville

Sean
Leave a comment

Johnny Sauter swept both stages and won Saturday at Martinsville Speedway, advancing to the championship round of the Camping World Truck Series.

It’s Sauter’s sixth victory of the season and the 23rd of his career. He is vying for his second truck championship after winning the 2016 title.

“Just so proud of everybody,” Sauter, who started eighth and led a race-high 148 of 200 laps, told FS1. “It’s a good day to be in a Chevrolet. Pit stops were awesome.

MORE: Click here for complete results

MOREClick here for points standings

“We’re going to Homestead to race for a championship. That’s what it’s all about.”

Brett Moffitt finished second, followed by Myatt Snider, Ben Rhodes and Kyle Benjamin.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Johnny Sauter

STAGE 2 WINNER: Sauter

WHAT’S NEXT: JAG Metals 350 at 8:30 p.m. ET, Nov. 2 at Texas Motor Speedway on FS1.

Todd Gilliland captures truck pole at Martinsville

Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Todd Gilliland beat Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates Harrison Burton and Noah Gragson in Camping World Truck Series qualifying Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.

Ben Rhodes and Kyle Benjamin rounded out the top five.

Click here for the results of truck qualifying Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.

UPDATED: Entry lists for playoff races at Martinsville Speedway

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s time for the last short track races of the NASCAR season as the playoffs roll on at Martinsville Speedway.

The Cup and Camping World Truck Series will be in action this weekend at the .526-mile track in Virginia.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for the weekend.

Cup – First Data 500 (2:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN)

There are 40 entries for the race.

Matt Kenseth is back in Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 Ford.

Hermie Sadler is entered in Premium Motorsports’ No. 7 Chevrolet for his first start of the year. Five of his last six Cup starts have been at Martinsville.

Jeb Burton is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 51 Ford. It will be his first Cup start since 2016 at Pocono Raceway.

Clint Bowyer won the March race at Martinsville. He beat Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney.

Busch is the defending winner of this race. He beat Martin Truex Jr. and Bowyer.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Texas Roadhouse 200 (1 p.m. ET Saturday)

There are 35 entries for the race. Three trucks will not make the field.

Kyle Benjamin, Jeb Burton and Timothy Peters are entered in the race.

Harrison Burton is entered in Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 51 Toyota.

John Hunter Nemechek won the March Martinsville race over Benjamin and Brett Moffitt. Noah Gragson won this race last year over Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter.

Click here for the entry list.

Kyle Benjamin, Jeb Burton, Timothy Peters to compete in Martinsville Truck race

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyle Benjamin, Timothy Peters and Jeb Burton will take part in Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway.

Burton, the son of former Cup driver Ward Burton, will make his first start of the season in On Point Motorsports’ No. 30 Toyota.

His last Truck start was in last October’s race at Martinsville.

The race will be the fourth for On Point Motorsports. It’s best result is eighth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Austin Theriault.

“It is always exciting for me to race at my home track of Martinsville Speedway,” Burton said in a press release. “I have always run good there and have had good success in the Truck Series at the track. I like running with a smaller new team like On Point Motorsports and focus on going out there and showing everyone what we can do. On Point Motorsports has been impressive in their first couple races and we look forward to being even more impressive at Martinsville.

Benjamin will drive DGR-Crosley’s No. 17 Toyota in his second start of the year for the team. He competed in the spring race at Martinsville in his series debut and finished second after he led 74 laps.

“I’m really thankful for the opportunity to go back to Martinsville with DGR-Crosley,” Benjamin said in a press release. “We were so close to getting the win in the spring race and I definitely think we will be a contender again. I’m really happy to get another shot at it. I know the guys will bring me a fast Toyota Tundra this weekend. We just have to keep it clean throughout the race and be there at the end.”

Peters, who won the last Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway for GMS Racing, will return to the team this weekend.

Peters, who claimed his first career win at Martinsville in 2009, will drive the No. 23 Chevrolet. It will be his fifth start of the year.