Martin Truex Jr.

Top 5 moments at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Leave a comment

Today the NASCAR Cup Series was supposed to run a race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

But like six other Cup races, it has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To get you by today and the remaining Sunday’s without a Cup racing, each weekend we’re going to bring you a look at five memorable moments from each track.

So let’s get started with a look at some memorable moments at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 1. Smoke clinches third Cup title (2011)

When the 2011 postseason began, two-time champion Tony Stewart had no wins and wasn’t expecting to contribute much to the 10-race spectacle.

Then he became the spectacle.

Stewart reeled off five wins in 10 races, including the season finale in Miami, where he beat Carl Edwards and clinched the title in a tiebreaker over Edwards.

Stewart remains the only Cup driver to earn their first win of the season in the playoffs and go on to win the championship.

 2. Jimmie Johnson earns seventh championship (2016)

Jimmie Johnson’s record-tying seventh Cup Series title did not come easily.

After starting the season finale from the rear of the field due to a pre-race inspection failure, the Hendrick Motorsports driver did not lead until an overtime restart to finish the race.

He led the final three laps and solidified his name as one of the greatest to drive a stock car, alongside Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. Johnson’s seven titles are spread out over 11 years and multiple playoff formats.

3) Joey Logano wins the “damn war” (2018)

Three weeks before the season finale, last-lap contact between Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano resulted in a win for Logano at Martinsville Speedway.

A displeased Truex declared afterward that Logano “may have won the battle but he ain’t winning the damn war”

When the sun set on the season in Miami, Logano proved Truex wrong. Logano passed him for the lead with 12 laps to go, navigating around Truex’s No. 78 Toyota on the outside in commanding fashion.

Logano cruised to the win and his first Cup title.

4) Kevin Harvick kicks off the elimination era with championship (2014)

The 2014 Cup title came down to a three-lap shootout, with Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman leading the way.

Newman entered the race having not won any of the previous 35 races. But he wouldn’t get to break NASCAR’s brand new elimination format designed to emphasize wins (Matt Crafton would do that in 2019).

Instead, Harvick held off Newman in the shootout to win the race and his first Cup title.

5) Kurt Busch loses tire mid-race, bounces back to win championship (2004)

The playoff era of NASCAR got off to an interesting start thanks to Kurt Busch.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver entered the season finale with an 18-pointy advantage over Jimmie Johnson, who had won four times in the previous five races.

Busch’s championship hopes almost came apart on Lap 250. As Busch attempted to enter pit road, the right-front tire came off his No. 97 Ford and Busch barely avoided hitting the pit wall.  Busch made it to pit road and the tire rolled down the track, creating a caution.

Luckily, he was able to stay on the lead lap. While teammate Greg Biffle won the race and Johnson finished second, Busch placed fifth and clinched his first championship with an eight-point advantage over Johnson.

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Joey Logano is unanimous No. 1

Leave a comment

Phoenix and Las Vegas winner Joey Logano rockets to the No. 1 spot in this week’s NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

Logano was a unanimous choice among NBC Sports’ writers, while Kevin Harvick was a close second in both the race and this week’s poll.

MORE: Ryan Newman tells Today show he wants to race “as soon as I possibly can”

Biggest drops from last week to this week: Fontana winner Alex Bowman (1st to 9th), Ryan Blaney (2nd to 8th) and Jimmie Johnson (3rd to unranked).

Fifteen drivers earned votes this week.

Here’s how this week’s power rankings look:

1. Joey Logano (40 points out of 40): Four races, two wins. May not have the fastest car but he keeps finding a way to win. Last week: 6th (tied).

2. Kevin Harvick (35 points): Has had a top 10 in each of the first four races this season – but he’s still looking for a win. Last week: 4th.

3. Kyle Busch (31 points): After a rough first two races, the defending series champ now has back-to-back top-five finishes. Last week: 6th (tied).

4. Chase Elliott (25 points): Has had excellent speed the last two races. Now he heads to his home track, where he’s never won a Cup, Xfinity or Truck race. Could this be the weekend to do so? And could he kick things off by winning the Kyle Busch bounty in Saturday’s Truck race? Last week: 6th (tied).

(tie) 5. Kyle Larson (19 points): Has been on a solid roll with three top 10s in first four races. Finally had a joint strong effort with teammate Kurt Busch for the first time this season. Last week: Unranked.

(tie) 5. Kurt Busch (19 points): After struggles in first two races, was third at Fontana and sixth at Phoenix. Not the fastest but making the most of the opportunities and finishing higher than the car runs in a race. Last week: 10th.

7. Brad Keselowski (15 points): With Logano and Ryan Blaney’s success, Keselowski may have been overlooked so far, but still has strong numbers: He has finished seventh, fifth and 11th in last three races. He’s likely licking his chops for Atlanta, where he has two wins and a runner-up in last three races. Last week: 5th.

8. Ryan Blaney (10 points): Even though he finished runner-up at Daytona, he’s had rough outings since with finishes of 11th (at Las Vegas due to pit call), 19th (tire issue with three laps to go at Fontana) and 37th at Phoenix due to a crash not of his making. Last week: 2nd.

9. Alex Bowman (6 points): Had a tough weekend with a car that was bad in practice, although it qualified eighth. In the race, finished 14th after winning the week before in Fontana. Last week: 1st.

10. Brandon Jones (5 points): It’s not every day you pass Kyle Busch to score a win in the Xfinity Series. Last week: Unranked.

Others receiving votes: Aric Almirola (4 points), Clint Bowyer (4), Jimmie Johnson (2), Martin Truex Jr. (1), Denny Hamlin (1).

Bump and Run: West Coast swing takeaways

Leave a comment

What are your takeaways from the West Coast swing?

Nate Ryan: Hendrick Motorsports is back. Paul Wolfe and Joey Logano are a winning combination. Joe Gibbs Racing needs to regroup but isn’t out of the ballgame by any stretch.

Dustin Long: How Goodyear’s ability to bring a tire that wears more is changing the game. Hendrick Motorsports’ performance. The speed of Martin Truex Jr.’s car and how he’ll be a factor once he avoids the various issues that plagued him. Harrison Burton’s performance in Xfinity, which included a win and three top fives during this swing.

Daniel McFadin: Despite Ford and Joey Logano winning two of the three races, it doesn’t feel like any team or manufacturer has an outright advantage over everyone else. The races at Phoenix and Auto Club had a distinct energy to them that they’ve lacked in general over the years. The season has a some momentum behind it, let’s hope it stays on track in Atlanta.

Jerry Bonkowski: First, we’re seeing Chevrolet teams starting to shake off the struggles of the new Camaro at Daytona and Las Vegas and are coming back to prominence quickly if Fontana and Phoenix are any indication. Second, Ford continues to show its mastery over Toyota and Chevy. This could be a huge season for Fords if the current trend continues. Lastly, Toyota is uncharacteristically struggling with little consistency between teams (other than perhaps Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin). 

 

Who scores their first career Cup win next: Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, Cole Custer or someone else?

Nate Ryan: William Byron.

Dustin Long: Matt DiBenedetto. He will give the Wood Brothers their 100th Cup victory.

Daniel McFadin: William Byron. While DiBenedetto is the most experienced in Cup of the group, Byron has more time in quality equipment, from the Truck Series up through Cup. DiBenedetto hasn’t shown us a complete race in the No. 21 yet as he re-calibrates his talent and knowledge to what he has to work with.

Jerry Bonkowski: This is a tough question because all of the drivers listed have the ability, they just need some luck. But if I had to pick one, it would probably be Tyler Reddick. Even though he had a disappointing outing at Phoenix, he still has been the best-performing rookie in Cup this season and has even outshined his veteran teammate, Austin Dillon, at times. 

Do you think anyone will beat Kyle Busch to collect any of the bounties in the Truck Series this weekend at Atlanta?

Nate Ryan: No. Kyle Busch knows best when he says Kyle Larson is his main threat at Homestead-Miami Speedway a week later.

Dustin Long: No. Kyle Busch wins this weekend.

Daniel McFadin: My heart says yes, but my gut says no. Chase Elliott will be the primary challenger, but this will be his first Truck Series start since 2017. Meanwhile, Busch has won in five of his 11 Truck Series starts at Atlanta since 2005. Regardless, this is the most excited I’ve been for a Truck Series race not held on dirt or a road course since … let me get back to you on that.

Jerry Bonkowski: Unless Busch wrecks or suffers mechanical problems, I don’t believe anyone takes the bounty in Atlanta. Rather, I believe Kyle Larson has the best chance to do so the following week in Miami.

Preliminary entry lists for NASCAR at Atlanta

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After three weekends on the West Coast, NASCAR returns to the Southeast this weekend to race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

All three national series will be in action, with the Gander RV & Outdoors Series racing for the first time since Las Vegas.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for all three series.

Cup – Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (2 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox)

Thirty-eight cars are entered in the race.

Ross Chastain is entered in his fourth race in Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 Ford as Ryan Newman continues to recover from a head injury.

Brad Keselowski won this race last year over Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity – EchoPark 250 (4 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1)

Thirty-six cars are entered for the race.

Myatt Snider is entered in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet.

Jeffrey Earnhardt is entered in JD Motorsports’ No. 15 Chevrolet for his first start of the year.

Christopher Bell won this race last year over Cole Custer and Justin Allgaier.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Vet Tix Camping World 200 (1:30 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1)

It’s officially bounty week in Truck Series.

Among the 38 trucks entered into the event (only 32 will qualify for it) are three full-time Cup Series drivers who will attempt to earn the $100,000 bounty placed against Kyle Busch by Kevin Harvick and Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of the series sponsor.

The trio of bounty hunters include:

Chase Elliott, who is entered in GMS Racing’s No. 24 Chevrolet.

John Hunter Nemechek, entered in NEMCO Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet

Brennan Poole, entered in On Point Motorsports’ No. 29 Toyota.

If any of the drivers are able to finish ahead of Busch in the race, he will claim the bounty. If none of them do, Kyle Larson and Erik Jones will get a shot a Busch and the $100,000 next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Also entered in the race is Ryan Truex in Niece Motorsports’ No. 40 Chevrolet.

Busch won this race last year over Johnny Sauter and Grant Enfinger.

Click here for the entry list.

Kyle Busch gets second straight top five with Phoenix finish

Leave a comment

Sunday saw Kyle Busch claim his second consecutive top-five finish of the year.

And for the second week in a row, Busch lamented how much better his Joe Gibbs Racing team needs to be.

“Learned that we have to be a hell of a lot better than we were,” Busch said after his third-place finish. “We weren’t very good when we unloaded, we made a lot of ground, but still not enough ground as I would have wanted to race with some of the top guys.

“I felt like we were a fifth or sixth-place car probably and we were able to come out with a third. Good for us with that effort. We need some points right now. We have to climb the ladder back and get back where we need to be.”

Busch was among a group of drivers who pit with 33 laps to go in the scheduled distance, with Busch getting four new tires. The fresh tires and three cautions, including one that created overtime, helped Busch chase down the leaders, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick.

But Busch, the defending winner of the race, didn’t think his No. 18 Toyota had enough in it to have a crack at the win in overtime.

“I wouldn’t say we had a shot, we never had fire-off speed today,” Busch said. “We were really slow to fire-off and later in the going we were getting better with longevity, but still we were a ways off. Felt like that when we unloaded and we made some ground on it and got it a heck of a lot better, but just couldn’t get it where we needed it there throughout the race. The 2 (Brad Keselowski) was probably the fastest car. The 22 (Joey Logano) was pretty quick and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) was pretty quick.”

Busch was the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver to get through the race unscathed.

Denny Hamlin placed 20th after he was involved in a wreck with Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski in Stage 1. Erik Jones finished 28th after he spun and backed into the wall on Lap 252. Martin Truex Jr. was eliminated and finished 32nd following a wreck on a Lap 283 restart.

Truex was hit from behind by Aric Almirola and pancaked the outside wall in Turn 1.

Despite having race-winning speed in the last three races, on-track incidents and pit road miscues have prevented Truex from placing better than 14th in those races.

“I just got ran over,” Truex told Fox. “(Almirola) ran into the back of me earlier getting into (Turn) 1. I hung on to it. These restarts are crazy, it’s fanned out. The 48 (Jimmie Johnson) was in front of me. I wasn’t sure if he was going to come up in front of me on the short chute or not. Then the 10 (Aric Almirola) ran into us. Can’t finish a race, it sucks.”