Daniel McFadin

NASCAR writer for NBCSports.com. Former Sporting News intern. Graduated from IUPUI in Indianapolis with a master in sports journalism in 2014 and from Arkansas State University in 2013 with a degree in Journalism. Originally from Lewisville, Texas, now in Fort Worth. Ask me if I like Star Wars. I dare you.
Getty Images

Ryan Blaney earns Sonoma top five after ‘smooth day’

Leave a comment

For Ryan Blaney, race winner Martin Truex Jr. and runner-up finisher Kyle Busch “were just gone” by the end of Sunday’s race in Sonoma.

“Just gone” was how Blaney described the roughly 30-second gap from Truex and Busch back to Blaney’s No. 12 Ford, which took the checkered flag in third.

That gap didn’t take away from a much-needed run for the Team Penske driver.

It was Blaney’s first top five in seven races (fourth at Bristol). It was also his second straight top five on a road course, following his win in the inaugural race on the Charlotte Roval last fall.

Blaney was the only non-Toyota car in the top five.

“Kind of a smooth day for us,” Blaney told FS1. “Qualified decent. The way the stages are, you can either choose to finish the stage out, get stage points, but you have to restart way in the middle of the pack, or pit early. That’s kind of the strategy we wanted to do.”

With the pit early strategy, Blaney restarted in the top five on both restarts and was able to briefly take second place on the second restart before losing it to Kyle Busch on a bump-and-run.

In a race that didn’t see any non-stage cautions, the race went green over the final 45 laps and saw green flag stops start with 30 to go.

Blaney never saw the leaders again.

“(A caution) would have given us a shot. I had no shot if there wasn’t a yellow,” Blaney said. “They were really good on long runs. You just give yourself a hope of restarting close to them and trying to make a move. We almost got the lead one time on a restart. I was hoping to get that shot again but it never came.”

In a season where he’s been outshone by teammates Brad Keselowski (three wins) and Joey Logano (two wins), Blaney was the only competitive Penske driver. Keselowski ran 18th and Logano placed 23rd after experiencing battery problems.

Blaney’s previous best Sonoma result in three starts was ninth.

“You come into every weekend expecting to run well, no matter if it is your best track or worst track,” Blaney said. “We had top-five speed all weekend. Not winning speed. We kind of hung around all day. We were able to hang in there and stay out of trouble and able to come home with a decent day and a race car that was intact, which is good.”

 

What drivers said after Sonoma

Leave a comment

Martin Truex Jr. – winner: “Through the years you’ve seen guys figure things out, it lasts a while. I wasn’t sure this weekend how it was going to hold up, what we’ve been doing. With the Carousel, the big left‑hand corner, it really changed things up. Took a while to figure that out in practice.

“But luckily, we were able to just make the right tweaks. I had confidence that when the track got hot and slick on the long runs, we’ve had what we needed. Just a matter if we had enough speed to get there, and we did today.”

Kyle Busch – finished second: “Any time I had to lean on the left rear (tire), I just didn’t have the drive that I needed. Actually, tried to hold on to it, trying to save it. I knew that was going to be our problem. That had been our problem all day long. You get closer, you’re like, Okay, I can get him (Truex), I better go, pounce on him fast, so then he doesn’t have the time to pick up the pace.

“But it didn’t work. He was obviously saving a lot. I knew he was going to be saving a lot, have enough to be able to most likely hold us off. I was right.”

Ryan Blaney – finished third: “I had no shot if there wasn’t a yellow. They were really good on long runs. You just give yourself a hope of restarting close to them and trying to make a move. We almost got the lead one time on a restart. I was hoping to get that shot again but it never came.”

Matt DiBenedetto – finished fourth: “I cannot explain how thankful and glad I am that we got a good run that we deserve. It has been a tough year; we just haven’t had the results that we deserve. We have had fast cars. I cannot explain how thankful I am to have this opportunity and how desperate I was to get a run like this for my team and how many people took a chance on me. I can’t explain how many people had to say yes including all of the JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) teammates, Toyota, TRD, the sponsors, Procore and Dumont Jets, team owner, everyone on the team, it took every one of those people to say yes because my path to get here is unorthodox. I didn’t have the funding to get there; we did it the old school way.”

Denny Hamlin – finished fifth: “I just drove as hard as I could drive. We restarted 26th and drove back up to fifth with no cautions. We had a very, very fast car. It was a strategy we decided to play out there to optimize stage points and get a stage win, and take the guaranteed points. It may have cost us a shot at victory, but we still had a good day. I think at the time we decided to do that strategy the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) was better than us, but I am not so sure at the end.”

Kevin Harvick – finished sixth: “We did grind one out. We didn’t have a great car this weekend. We aborted everything that we were doing and put (Clint Bowyer‘s setup) in and we still weren’t very good. We wound up grinding the right front tire off at the end and was just hanging on for dear life. That is a gritty performance. That is what we have done all year. We need to figure out how to be closer at the beginning of the weekend. We will. We have been scrapping pretty hard for 16 weeks.”

Ryan Newman – finished seventh: “I just got really light-headed when I got out. Other than that I feel alright. We had good strategy and good pit road, good everything. We just didn’t quite have the speed today to be able to get up there and pass those guys that were in the front today.”

Erik Jones – finished eighth: “It was good. We passed a lot of cars. I am just happy we were able to come out of here with a solid day. Wish we could have gotten some more stage points, but it was nice to get a good finish. The Craftsman Camry was good; we just needed track position. I think we were probably a few spots better than that, but it’s still good. It’s nice to get back on track. Hopefully this is good momentum for next week in Chicago.”

Aric Almirola – finished ninth: “I made a mistake there at the top of Turn 3A and spun out and basically we fell to the rear. We went back all the way to last. After that, I just had to work my butt off to recover. We passed a lot of cars today. My Mustang was good. I just put us behind.”

Kyle Larson – finished 10th: “It was better than normal for us. I fell back early but I was just taking care of my stuff. I seem to be a lot better on long runs than normal, so I’m happy about that. And we came away with a top 10. So it was good.

“I finished better than I ever have here, so it was an improvement.”

Clint Bowyer – finished 11th: “That was disappointing, for sure. We had a bad break with the air gun and that put us on a strategy that kind of killed our chances at getting stage points. It looked like we were going to have a shot at the top five, but we just couldn’t get our car to turn there at the end and gave up a lot of positions. We had a good Rush Truck Centers Mustang all weekend and expected a lot better finish.”

Alex Bowman – finished 14th: “We lost some front turn from where we were at in practice. Track position was really key. Obviously, we didn’t qualify very well, so that hurt us. We had great pit stops. We were sitting pretty good there towards the end and then we lost power steering. I hate losing spots like that at the end, but I’m glad we still brought home a top-15 finish. I’m glad I’ve been working on being more fit because I’m worn out and that would have been way worse.”

Daniel Hemric – finished 15th: “I thought we did a great job of making the most of our day here at Sonoma Raceway. We didn’t have track position to start the race, but (crew chief) Luke Lambert did a great job of not worrying about points and trying to get us track position instead. Every time we did it we gained four or five spots. I’m proud of everyone on this No. 8 team and this Poppy Bank Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for sticking with me all weekend. We got better every lap and that’s what our first road race as a group is all about.

Daniel Suarez – finished 17th: “We had a good Ruckus Mustang today even though we had to start in the back. My crew did great with the calls, and we were able to get track position and show that we had a good car. Unfortunately, mistakes on the last pit stop bit us and we couldn’t recover from it so late in the race.”

Austin Dillon – finished 24th: “It’s been a long weekend in the Dow Coatings Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, but the good news is we learned a lot that we can take back to Welcome, (North Carolin) and use in preparation for future trips to Sonoma Raceway. We fell behind in practice and just never recovered. During the race, I was just hanging on the best I could but it was difficult because the Dow Coatings Chevrolet was plowing tight. Who knows, maybe if we would have utilized a different strategy we could have gained a few positions at the finish, but the main issue is definitely working on our cars and on my skills as a road course racer.

Ty Dillon – finished 27th: “Sonoma is a tough racetrack. Only coming here once a year definitely makes it more challenging to learn how to get around the course, and this was only my third time racing here. The addition of the Carousel added an extra layer of difficulty. Our GEICO Military Camaro ZL1 started out pretty tight going both right and left, but my team made great changes to get our balance back to where we needed it. My rear grip just started to fade at the end. But, I have a lot of notes from this weekend to study for next year. We will keep building and getting better each time we come to Sonoma.”

Chase Elliott – finished 37th: “We lost oil pressure so we think a belt broke. We’re not exactly sure why. Our NAPA Chevy was good. I hated I gave Martin (Truex Jr.) the lead there. It was just a mistake on my part. I needed to keep control of the reins. That was an important point. It’s going to be hard to go up and pass a guy for the lead. So, that was big. I hated that happened.”

 

Martin Truex Jr. wins Cup race at Sonoma

Leave a comment

Martin Truex Jr. won Sunday’s Cup race at Sonoma Raceway to earn his fourth victory of the year and his second consecutive victory on the road course.

Truex led the final 24 laps and held off a charging Kyle Busch, with Busch having tires that were three laps fresher than Truex’s.

With the win, Truex ties Busch for most wins on the season and for the most road course wins among active drivers (four). Truex also tied Tony Stewart for the second most wins at Sonoma with three.

“Just dug down deep and tried to be smooth,” Truex told FS1. “Luckily I was able to have a big enough gap I could settle in and not feel too much pressure. It was definitely difficult. That was the longest run of the race there at the end for us on tires. It felt terrible the last 20 laps. Last 10 it was just like on ice, no grip anywhere.

The top five was completed by Ryan Blaney, Matt DiBenedetto and Denny Hamlin.

DiBenedetto earned the best result of his Cup career and his first top five in 156 starts. His previous best result was sixth at Bristol in April 2016.

The 90-lap race saw no cautions outside the two for stage breaks. It’s the fewest cautions in a Sonoma race since there were two in 2012.

Pole-sitter Kyle Larson did not lead a lap and finished 10th.

With the win by Truex, Joe Gibbs Racing has 10 wins through 16 races and has combined with Team Penske to win 15 races.

STAGE 1 WINNER: William Byron

STAGE 2 WINNER: Denny Hamlin

More: Race results and points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Clint Bowyer placed 11th after he had to pit from fifth place for a loose tire in the middle of Stage 2 … Ryan Blaney earned his first top five in seven races and his second straight on a road course … Ryan Newman placed seventh for his fifth top 10 of the year. He needs four more to tie his total from 2018.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Paul Menard finished 22nd after he spun from contact with Michael McDowell in Turn 11 with seven laps left in Stage 2 … Chase Elliott finished 37th after suffering an oil pressure issue with about 30 laps left in the race.

NOTABLE: Martin Truex Jr. earned Joe Gibbs Racing its 326th win across all three national NASCAR series, the most all-time. It breaks a tie with Roush Fenway Racing … JGR earned its 12th Cup road course win, second most behind Hendrick Motorsports (16)

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I just don’t like wine. I’m sorry, I just don’t.  It’s the best damn wine I’ve ever had, but I still don’t like it.” – Martin Truex Jr. on the wine Sonoma winners drink in victory lane.

WHAT’S NEXT: Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway at 3 p.m. ET on June 30 on NBCSN

Ross Chastain wins Truck Series race at Gateway, passes inspection

Getty Images
3 Comments

Ross Chastain beat Todd Gilliland in a seven-lap shootout to win Saturday night’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway.

The win comes a week after a post-race inspection failure resulted in Chastain’s win at Iowa Speedway being given to Brett Moffitt. He passed inspection Saturday night.

The top five was completed by Stewart Friesen, Chandler Smith and Moffitt.

Chastain led 21 laps. He took the lead during green flag pit stops when his Niece Motorsports team elected to take fuel only.

“These guys went home and we were mad,” Chastain told FS1. “Felt like we had one taken from us. Holy cow. … They believed in me. I didn’t want to take tires. Then it was up to me to freaking hold them off, I don’t know how.”

Chastain, who switched his points declaration from Xfinity to Trucks after eight races in the Truck season, must be in the top 20 in points to qualify for the playoffs. He is now 38 points behind Josh Reaume in 20th.

Chastain is also winner of the final “Triple Truck Challenge” $50,000 bonus.

“Oh, I’m going to take that money home and they’re not going to take it from us,” Chastain said.

The final restart was setup by a wreck involving Harrison Burton and Sheldon Creed.

Chastain restarted ahead of Christian Eckes, who had 57 laps. Eckes spun from contact on the last lap while racing Gilliland and Friesen. He finished 14th.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

MORE: Click here for race results

MORE: Click here for the point standings

WHAT’S NEXT: Camping World 225 at Chicagoland Speedway at 9 p.m. ET on June 28 on FS1

Ty Gibbs, grandson of Joe Gibbs, wins first career ARCA race with last-lap pass

World Wide Technology Raceway Twitter
Leave a comment

Ty Gibbs, the 16-year-old grandson of NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, won his first career ARCA Menards Series race Saturday with a last-lap pass at Sam Mayer at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Gibbs made contact with Mayer as he passed him for the lead and went on to beat Christian Eckes. Mayer finished third.

On the cool-down lap, Mayer showed his displeasure with Gibbs by bumping his car, but Gibbs was able to keep control of it.

The race ended in a six-lap shootout. During the final caution, Gibbs was among the drivers who pitted. Mayer and six others stayed out.

Gibbs restarted eighth and was in second within one lap.

The win comes in Gibbs’ sixth career ARCA start. He has finished in the top two in four of those races.

Gibbs told MAV TV his contact with Mayer was fair game after Mayer made contact with him in a race earlier this year at Salem Speedway.