Todd Bodine

Denny Hamlin beats William Byron in Michigan Xfinity race in narrow finish

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Denny Hamlin edged William Byron by 12-thousandths of a second in the closest Xfinity Series finish at Michigan International Speedway.

Byron had led at the white flag of the Irish Hills 250 after a restart with two laps to go. Hamlin caught Byron on the backstretch and the two battled all the way to the finish line.

The previous closest margin of victory – 0.192  – was in in August 2000 when Todd Bodine beat Michael Waltrip.

It is Hamlin’s 16th Xfinity win. The finish was setup by a Matt Tifft spin with five laps to go.

“(Byron) did a great job,” Hamlin told Fox Sports 1. “I knew he had a really good car during that last long run we had, he was about to pass me. He’s done a great job. … I wanted to race him clean. I wasn’t going to turn him or anything like that. I stayed below him and it got him a little bit loose through (Turn) 1 and 2. That allowed me to get into position. Then into Turn 3, we both got sideways. He slid up enough to let just let me get to the right rear. It was just enough to drag race by him.”

For Byron, it’s the best career finish for the JR Motorsports rookie and his third top five of the season.

“We were so close, it really hurts to be that close and not win,” Byron told Fox Sports 1. “(Hamlin) got the side-draft off of me off of (Turn) 4 and that’s the run he need to the line. Just couldn’t quite get enough to get back to him … It hurts, but we’ll get one soon.”

Filling out the top five was Byron, Elliott Sadler, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch.

Stage 1 winner: Brad Keselowski

Stage 2 winner: Elliot Sadler

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Pole-sitter Kyle Busch bounced back from a Lap 1 accident to finish fifth in his fourth Xfinity of the year … Elliott Sadler finished third for his best result at Michigan in 13 starts … Ty Dillon finished sixth to tie his best result of the year … Paul Menard finished seventh for his first top-10 finish in three Xfinity starts this season.

WHO HAD A BAD DAYMichael Annett, Ben Kennedy, JJ Yeley and Brandon Jones were in a Lap 38 wreck at the start of Stage 2 that began when Jones got loose on the backstretch. Annett, Kennedy and Yeley were eliminated from the race. Jones bounced back to finish ninth … Justin Allgaier finished 16th in his first finish outside the top 15 since Atlanta.

NOTABLE: Denny Hamlin is the 10th different driver to win a Xfinity race this season … Joe Gibbs Racing has four wins with three different drivers.

WHAT’S NEXT: American Ethanol E15 250 at Iowa Speedway at 8:30 p.m. ET on June 24 on Fox Sports 1

Red Horse Racing suspends operations

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Red Horse Racing, which has competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series since 2005, has suspended operations.

The organization, which reached the championship race last year with Timothy Peters, had 16 career victories. The team laid off 30 employees along with Peters and driver Brett Moffitt, a team official told NBC Sports. The team has kept a core group of employees as it seeks funding to resume operations.

Peters finished fifth in Friday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Moffitt placed 18th. Peters is sixth in the points and Moffitt is 10th. Neither truck has had a primary sponsor listed in all five races this season. 

Peters won at least one race for the organization from 2009-15. In 2012, the organization finished second in the owner points with four drivers scoring wins: Peters (two wins), Todd Bodine (one), John King (one) and Parker Kligerman (one).

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesn’t fight because everyone, including momma, is watching

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Everyone and their mother is talking about the post-race fight Sunday between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.

That’s exactly why you’ll never see Dale Earnhardt Jr. throw a punch, at least not in public.

“I would not have done the same thing,” Earnhardt said on the latest episode of the “Dale Jr. Download.” “I know, maybe more than Kyle, there’s a lot of cameras. There’s a lot of people watching. You’ve got social media. You’ve got people getting this content a whole bunch of different ways. If you go up and punch a guy in the face, that’s going to be on TV all week.”

The most noteworthy video of the fight came not from TV cameras, but from NASCAR journalist Jeff Gluck. The original video has been viewed on YouTube 1.8 million times as of Tuesday afternoon.

“You’re going to show up at the racetrack on Friday or Thursday next week and you’re going to be asked about it everyday,” Earnhardt continued. “This will probably go on for a couple of weeks. NASCAR will take this content and it will be on every show that they do, every commercial. So you’ll see it over and over and over. NASCAR will take this fight and use it as an advertisement. ‘You got to come out see what happens at the next race.’ They will wear it out.”

MORE: NASCAR on NBC podcast: Kyle Busch vs Joey Logano.

Earnhardt questioned whether Busch wants to be in the position of having to be constantly be asked by the media – and family – about the fight.

“Momma’s watching, you don’t want to upset your momma,” Earnhardt teased. “She’s just a phone call away.”

Earnhardt went on to share some stories of the “few altercations” he’s had in racing career.

“I’ve never been in a fight like that,” Earnhardt said. “I’m not trying to play out my stuff on the main stage.”

The Hendrick Motorsports driver told the story of him and crew chief Tony Eury Sr. getting into it with Tony Stewart‘s crew chief after some rough driving between the two at Pikes Peak International Raceway in the Xfinity Series in the late ’90s.

“We got called to the hauler after the race,” Earnhardt said. “Tony Sr., he’s really fiery, got a bad temper. He was very upset. Tony Stewart comes in there. Tony’s fine. I could tell from the moment he walked in he wasn’t going to be a problem. But his crew chief … this guy comes walking in and the minute the door opens I can hear this guy talking and yapping. And he’s talking about me being a daddy’s boy and riding my daddy’s coat tails. I went over to Tony Stewart to get to this guy and Tony Sr. went under Tony Stewart;s (arm) to get to the guy.

“I got a hold of the guy, grabbed his shirt, swung and as I swung, he came out of his shirt. It ripped off. Tony Stewart’s just kind of there, kind of tangled up in this unwittingly. Nobody punched anybody.”

Later, after a story about calling Todd Bodine “a cue-ball headed fool” and wielding a jack handle, Earnhardt recalled a story from his late-model days, which resulted in his co-host calling him the “Kyle Busch of Hickory Motor Speedway.”

“We had the entire grandstands at Hickory Motor Speedway pissed off at us one week,” Earnhardt said. “We started last in this race called the Bobby Isaac Memorial. We were running third with about 20 to 30 laps to go. I got black flagged for passing a lapped car under caution. The guy was waving me by, which was totally legit. I didn’t think it was fair. The guy who was my crew chief-owner, says ‘pull in, this is bulls—. We’re getting out.’ So I pull in with a few laps left in the race. The whole grandstand is booing me at me. … Hickory is little bit 50-50 for Earnhardts. There’s a lot of Jarrett fans up there.

“We had ripped our fender off in the race, so it’s in the pits now. My crew chief or one of my crew members throws the fender onto the track, so they’re red flagged at this moment. Cleaning up a wreck. We throw a fender on the track. More boos. I flipped the bird from the pits to the booth. I know the scorer because I changed his oil at Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet. It obviously now looks like I’m flipping off the fans. Now the boos are turning into objects, cans and bottles.

“The guy comes to the dealership like a week later to get his oil changed and me and him have words. That kind of led to my firing from the dealership.”

Listen to the rest of Earnhardt’s stories and the podcast here.

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NASCAR heads to Houston, takes to Twitter to prep for Super Bowl 51

Photo courtesy Denny Hamlin official Twitter account
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Three weeks before their own version of the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26, lots of NASCAR folks are headed to Houston this weekend for Super Bowl 51 on Sunday.

And some are even putting their money where their mouths are, as can be seen by the wager between New England Patriots fan Joey Logano and Atlanta Falcons fan and Georgia native David Ragan.

We scoured the Twitter-verse for some day-before-the-big-game posts from the likes of Denny Hamlin, Steve Letarte, Todd Bodine, Samantha Busch, Jeff Gordon, Parker Kligerman and others.

Check them out:

Follow @JerryBonkowski

 

Brad Keselowski Racing announces crew chief assignments

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Brad Keselowski Racing has announced the crew chiefs that will be paired with both of its full-time rookie drivers this season in the Camping World Truck Series.

Austin Cindric, driving the No. 19 Draw-Tite Ford, will work with Doug Randolph. Randolph has been a crew chief for BKR since 2012 and has six wins, including three with Tyler Reddick in the last two seasons. Randolph also has four Xfinity Series wins.

Mike Hillman Jr. will be the crew chief for Chase Briscoe in the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford. Hillman is a two-time Truck series champion as crew chief for Todd Bodine (2006, 2010). He has 20 Truck Series wins, the last coming in 2013 with Jeb Burton.

“Austin Cindric has already had success in various forms of racing, and has shown a lot of potential in our Ford F-150 race trucks,” said Keselowski in a press release. “I certainly believe that Chase is ready to take the next step in his career, and we’re excited to have him join the BKR family. He won the ARCA championship in his first full-time season, and he’s proven to have the ability to learn quickly and win races. We’re pleased to give both Austin and Chase the opportunity to compete full-time at a high level in NASCAR.”

Briscoe, 22, enters his rookie season after winning the ARCA Racing Series title behind six race wins.

“It’s an absolutely huge opportunity and such an honor to drive for Brad,” said Briscoe in a press release. “The competition level in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is so high, but I’m going to be in the best equipment out there. It’s really cool to once again be working with the Keselowski family. When I moved to North Carolina three years ago, I was helping Brian and Bob in their shop, so things have come full circle. I’m truly blessed with this opportunity, and I hope to make the most of it. At the end of the day, it’s all about winning races and championships, and that’s what I plan to do.”

Cindric, 18, is the son of Team Penske president Tim Cindric. He has six starts with BKR over the last two seasons. His best result is 15th last November at Phoenix International Raceway.

“This is a massive opportunity from Brad and everyone at BKR who trusts me and believes in my abilities as a driver to move on to the next level for a full season,” said Cindric in a press release. “2017 gets more and more exciting for me with every day that goes by. I’ve only done a handful of one-off races in my brief stock car career, so I’m really looking forward to having the same guys by my side week in and week out. I’ve spent a lot of time at the shop the last few weeks and I know everyone is really excited to get back racing.”

The Truck Series season begins Feb. 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

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