Todd Gilliland

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Jagger Jones earns K&N West Rookie of the Year honors

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Like grandfather, like father and now like son. Racing success is definitely a tradition in the Jones family.

Jagger Jones has followed in the shoes of his legendary grandfather Parnelli and father P.J., capturing the 2019 Sunoco K&N Pro Series West Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, it was announced Wednesday.

“(Winning Rookie of the Year) and to win races, those were our two main goals,” the youngest Jones, of Scottsdale, Arizona, said in a statement. “I think the whole season we’ve led the Rookie of the Year standings, which is pretty cool, and separated ourselves from the other rookies and got it done.”

Driving for Sunrise Ford and team owner Bob Bruncati, the 17-year-old Jones earned one win, eight top fives and 11 top 10s in the 14-race season. He also earned one pole, led 248 laps and had an average finish of 5.4. He finished second in the overall standings behind champion Derek Krause and three points ahead of third-ranked Hailie Deegan.

MORE: Parnelli Jones’ grandson Jagger set to make own racing mark in K&N debut

Brittney Zamora, driving for Bill McAnally Racing, finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting.

“McAnally versus Sunrise was definitely the race in the West competition wise,” Jones said. “To get that and finish second in the points in my rookie season, I was pretty pleased with that.”

Jones becomes the sixth Sunrise Ford Racing driver in the last 13 years to win the top rookie honors, joining Jason Bowles (2007), Luis Martinez Jr. (2010), Austin Dyne (2012), Dylan Lupton (2013) and James Bickford (2014). Bill McAnally Racing won the top rookie award in each of the last three seasons: Todd Gilliland (2016), Derek Kraus (2017) and Hailie Deegan (2018).

Sam Mayer previously won the K&N Pro Series East Sunoco Rookie of the Year award for 2019.

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Austin Hill takes pole for tonight’s Truck race at ISM Raceway

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Austin Hill bumped Stewart Friesen late in qualifying to take the pole for tonight’s Lucas Oil 150 Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at ISM Raceway in suburban Phoenix.

Hill took the pole with a speed of 133.230 mph. Friesen will start alongside Hill on the front row with a qualifying run of 133.126 mph.

“I tried to hit my marks as best as I could,” Hill told FS1. “I didn’t think it was a great lap. … That’s the best it finished all day. Now we’re starting on the pole. Now we just have to go and finish this thing off.”

Hill and Friesen were the only drivers to exceed 133 mph in the session.

Qualifying third through 10th in the 34-truck field were Sheldon Creed (132.989 mph), Ben Rhodes (132.949), Ty Majeski (132.876), Chandler Smith (132.836), Brandon Jones (132.738), Grant Enfinger (132.704), Todd Gilliland (132.694) and Matt Crafton (132.528).

One incident of note occurred to the No 18 Toyota Tundra of Harrison Burton. He was unable to get his truck started to make a qualifying attempt and, as a result, will start tonight’s race from the back of the field.

Tonight’s race will take the green flag shortly after 8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised on FS1.

Click here for the full qualifying results.

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NASCAR America: Kyle Busch has a ‘hell of a lot more’ to worry about than Aric Almirola

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Aric Almirola vowed last weekend to make the final three races of the Cup Series season “hell” for Kyle Busch after they were involved in a wreck at Martinsville that eliminated Almirola from the race.

A big difference between the two drivers is that Busch is still in the playoffs, while Almirola was eliminated after the first round.

While appearing on Wednesday’s episode of NASCAR America presents MotorMouths, Busch brushed off Almirola’s threat when asked if he was concerned about retaliation from Almirola.

“Look, I got a hell of a lot more than Aric Almirola to worry about every single week, OK?” said Busch, who is trying to win his second Cup title. “There’s 40 other guys that would probably love to get the action in on the 18 car as well, too. Because you’re a fan favorite as soon as you do. Aric’s not the only guy. There’s others that are out there. We’ll race them as we need to race them and what happens happens.”

His run-in with Almirola wasn’t the only story Busch was part of in Martinsville.

On Saturday, one of Busch’s drivers in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, Todd Gilliland, broke through with his first career Truck Series win after 46 starts.

Gilliland, who has been the subject of criticism from Busch over his struggles to win, let his frustrations be known over his team radio after taking the checkered flag.

“Kyle Busch you can stay in your (expletive) motorhome,” Gilliland said.

Busch, who had been in his Cup team’s hauler during the race, said he “may or may not have known” about Gilliland’s comments when he went to congratulate the driver on his win.

“I just walked up to him and said ‘Hey man, congratulations. Good job. You got it done, won your race. You and the team. Keep it going,” Busch said. “Just handled it the way I did in the instance.”

While Gilliland later publicly apologized for his comment, Busch said the two of them “talked it out” over the phone on Tuesday.

“He went to apologize, kind of the same thing that he said on Twitter,” Busch said. “I’m like, ‘OK, it’s all fine. Not really sure that’s the first time you’ve thought of that because it came so easily.'”

Busch made sure to mention that Gilliland’s job security is still intact for the final two races of the season.

“Everybody’s wondering, ‘Is he fired?’ No, he’s going to finish out the season,” Busch said.

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Martin Truex Jr. pulls ahead of Denny Hamlin

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After two weeks atop the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings, Denny Hamlin is out and Martinsville winner Martin Truex Jr. is back in the No. 1 spot.

But fear not Hamlin fans. Your driver didn’t fall far. He drops to second place, three points behind his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate in the weekly voting of NBC Sports’ NASCAR writers.

As for the other JGR driver still in the playoffs, Kyle Busch, he plummets from second to 10th this week. But at least he’s not like Chase Elliott, who fell out of this week’s rankings after being third last week.

The biggest gainer is William Byron (eighth last week to third this week).

Here are the power rankings ahead of Sunday’s Round of 8 playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN):

1. Martin Truex Jr. (39 points). Had never won a short track race in Cup before this year. Now has three wins. And also has three wins in the playoffs. 3 + 3 = No. 1 in the rankings. Last week: Fourth.

2. Denny Hamlin (36 points). Could the championship come down to a battle between the two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates? It’s sure starting to look like that. Last week: First.

3. William Byron (30 points). If he had just a couple more laps or a slightly faster car, Byron might have earned his first Cup career win at Martinsville. Don’t be surprised if he wins one of the three remaining races this season – he’s ready. Last week: Eighth.

4. Ryan Blaney (24 points). Fifth-place finish gave him three top fives at short tracks this season. Last week: Ninth (tied).

5. Kevin Harvick (23 points). Has been kind of quiet of late but could generate a lot of noise in the next two races at two of his favorite race tracks. Last week: Fifth.

6. Joey Logano (14 points). Given the number of confrontations with other drivers he’s had this season – as well as with Denny Hamlin throughout his career – karma may be harder to beat than all his rivals. Last week: Ninth (tied).

7. Brad Keselowski (13 points). Showed he still has a lot of gas left in his tank despite no longer being in contention for the championship. Could still be a dangerous spoiler for remaining title contenders. Last week: Unranked.

(tie) 8. Kurt Busch (11 points). Who would have thought he’d be ranked higher in this week’s rankings than his little brother? Even though he’s no longer in the playoffs, he’s driving like he still is. Like Keselowski, could be a dark horse in the remaining three races. Last week: Unranked.

(tie) 9. Kyle Larson (11 points). Scoring nine points in Stage 2 at Martinsville helped take the sting away from a rough race and ninth-place finish. Last week: Seventh.

10. Kyle Busch (8 points). Has he smiled once since the playoffs began? An even better question: Could anyone have expected that the regular season champ would fall this far? Last week: Second.

Others receiving votes: Chase Elliott (6 points), Ryan Newman (2 points), Todd Gilliland (2 points), Bubba Wallace (1 point).

  • Kyle Busch is scheduled to be on NASCAR America’s MotorMouths from 5-6 p.m. ET today on NBCSN.

Kyle Busch a man of few words after rough Martinsville race

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Kyle Busch is more concerned about his team than any threat from Aric Almirola after Sunday’s Cup playoff race at Martinsville Speedway.

Busch finished 14th after contact with Almirola with about 125 laps left that damaged Busch’s car and left him scrambling to score a top-15 finish.

Sunday continued a trend in these playoffs where Busch and his team have struggled or had issues during the race. The result is that he is third in the standings heading into next weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

His biggest issue Sunday was with Almirola, who was upset with how Busch drove him after he repaid Busch for contact in the spring Martinsville race. Almirola vowed that “we’ve got three more weeks and I’m going to make it hell for him.”

Busch said of the incident with Almirola: “He ran over me, so I chopped him and then we got hooked together.”

Told of Almirola’s vow, Busch said: “Sounds good.”

Busch said he had “a lot of concern” about Sunday’s performance.

What in particular, Busch said: “Everywhere.”

What did Busch not have? He said: “Everything.”

Asked if anything went right for him Sunday, he said: “Nope.”

Car owner Joe Gibbs remained upbeat about Busch even if Busch wasn’t so after the race.

“I think one of the things about Kyle, for instance, today, what I really admire about him, it doesn’t matter what happens,” Gibbs said. “That car got beat up. He got spun around, everything in the world happened to him, and he still finished … 14th.

“I think he’s going to fight no matter what. Now, you’d like for it to be a lot smoother than that and you do go through — we all know that you can go through something where you struggle for a few weeks and certainly he hasn’t been winning races like he expects. He’s really — I know he and Adam (Stevens, the team’s crew chief) have spent a lot of time together trying to work their way through everything. So I think it’s part of being in a real tough sport. It’s the best people in the world that are racing in NASCAR. 

“You’ve got the best owners, the best drivers, and it’s a tough deal. And you can see somebody as good as Kyle is, and right now we’ve had a situation where we’ve not been able to win races here.”

Cole Pearn, crew chief for winner Martin Truex Jr., also was high on his teammate: “They could have easily won last week (at Kansas) to be fair. I thought they probably had one of the best cars.”

Instead, Busch’s winless streak grows to 19 races.

Busch also declined to comment on Todd Gilliland’s comment about him after Saturday’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series race. Gilliland, who drives for Kyle Busch Motorsports in that series, scored his first series win Saturday. After he crossed the finish line, Gilliland said on the team’s radio: “Kyle Busch you can stay in your (expletive) motorhome.”