Brandon Jones

Kentucky winners and losers

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WINNERS

Matt McCall — Kurt Busch deserves much credit for winning at Kentucky Speedway but let’s not forget his crew chief, who was roasted on social media last week for having Busch pit before the field went back to green at Daytona only to see lightning cost them a chance at the win. At Kentucky, McCall went for fuel only on the team’s first stop, a key move in a race where track position was critical, and made the right calls throughout the night, including a four-tire change on the last stop, to give Busch a chance to win his first race of the season and earn a playoff spot.

Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch While many would have preferred a “Days of Thunder” last-lap crash that led to someone else winning, these two had a dramatic battle for the win that pushed both to the edge but not over it. 

NASCAR — Remember when series officials used to keep drivers from standing on the roof of their car or anything like that during victory celebrations? Alex Bowman did it after his Chicago win and Kurt Busch did it after his Kentucky victory. Then, some of Busch’s crew members climbed atop the car and rode it to Victory Lane. Nice to see spontaneous celebrations are allowed.

Tyler AnkrumTook the lead with two laps to go when Brett Moffitt ran out of fuel to score the victory in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Kentucky. It was the 18-year-old Ankrum’s first series win, putting him in a playoff spot.

 

LOSERS

Daniel SuarezWhile his eighth-place finish was his best result in the last four races, it was unfulfilling. If Suarez goes on to make the playoffs, this night will be forgotten. If he fails to make the playoffs, this race might be a key reason why. He started on the pole but failed to score any stage points after a pit call backfired in the first stage and a flat tire forced a green-flag stop in the second stage. He entered the race three points behind Ryan Newman for the final playoff spot. Newman started last because of an inspection failure and finished ninth, losing only one point Suarez. Erik Jones’ third-place finish moved him past Newman and Suarez into a playoff spot.

Denny Hamlin’s pit crew — For the fifth time this season, Hamlin’s team was called for an uncontrolled penalty. While Hamlin has been a critic of how NASCAR has called such penalties this season, he said that crew chief Chris Gabehart told him that the infraction was “pretty obvious.” Said Hamlin: “It’s on us to tighten it up, know the rules and try not to have these penalties, especially on a two-tire stop. We’ve got to be better.”

Jimmie Johnson Rough night ends in a 30th-place finish. He falls to 15th in the season standings. Ryan Newman, the first driver outside a playoff spot is only 10 points behind Johnson. Seven races remain until the playoff field is set but will this be the year Johnson misses the playoffs?

Brandon Jones Rough weekend at Kentucky. He was leading the Truck race when Grant Enfinger lost control as they raced for position and wrecked them both. Jones finished 23rd. The next night, Jones’ Xfinity car was fast before an engine failure ended his night in 30th.

Cole Custer cruises to Xfinity victory at Kentucky

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SPARTA, Ky. – Cole Custer scored his series-high fifth Xfinity victory of the season Friday night, winning at Kentucky Speedway.

The series’ three dominant drivers this season all finished in the top three. Christopher Bell, who won the first two stages, finished second. Tyler Reddick was third.

Michael Annett and Chase Briscoe completed the top five. Only the top five cars finished on the lead lap. Custer led 88 of the 200 laps.

MORE: Click here for race results

MORE: Click here for driver points

This is Custer’s second consecutive victory on a 1.5-mile track. He won at Chicagoland Speedway two weeks ago. This also is Custer’s third victory in the last six races.

“This one just goes to my team,” Custer said. “The car was unbelievable at the end. They knew exactly what to do with it when the track changed and I was just lucky to drive it there at the end.”

Stage 1 winner: Christopher Bell

Stage 2 winner: Christopher Bell

Who had a bad race: Austin Cindric started on the pole and was running in the top five when he got loose underneath Justin Haley‘s car and backed into the wall in Turn 3 on Lap 55. Cindric went on to finish 14th. … Brandon Jones ran in the top five much of the race until an engine issue on Lap 106 ended his race. Jones finished 30th.

Who had a good race: The Big 3 (Cole Custer, Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick) went 1-2-3. Michael Annett’s fourth-place finish was his third top-five in the last five races. … Ryan Truex finished eighth in just his second start of the season. … Ryan Sieg‘s ninth-place run was his first top 10 in the last six races.

Notable: All five of Cole Custer’s wins this season have come in the last 13 races. He had two wins in his first 75 series starts.

Next: July 20 at New Hampshire at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Tyler Ankrum scores first career Truck Series victory

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SPARTA, Ky. – Brett Moffitt ran out fuel while leading with less than two laps left, allowing Tyler Ankrum to score his first career Gander Outdoors Truck Series win Thursday at Kentucky Speedway.

The 18-year-old Ankrum won in his 12th career series start.

“I think this goes to show that the youngsters and underdogs can still win,” said Ankrum, who drives for DGR-Crosley, in Victory Lane. “I don’t think DGR has been viewed as a GMS (Racing) or a KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) or a ThorSport (Racing) team, but I think they will be now. I’m honestly so proud of that. That’s really what I’ve been wanting to do. I’m just all about improvement. Improve every single week and try and get better and I think that’s what we did. We finished it.”

Ankrum was not eligible to compete in the first three races of the season because he did not turn 18 until March 6. Ankrum is eligible for the playoffs with the victory because NASCAR has granted a waiver since he missed races because of an age restriction.

MORE: Click here for race results 

MORE: Click here for driver points

Stewart Friesen finished second in a backup car. NASCAR confiscated his primary truck during inspection at the beginning of the day for an issue with the firewall. Harrison Burton placed third.

Ross Chastain finished fourth and climbed into the top 20 in points, making him playoff eligible with his recent victory at Gateway.

Ben Rhodes hit the wall late while running second with less than 20 laps left and had a tire go down.

Points leader Grant Enfinger and Brandon Jones crashed while racing for the lead on Lap 65. Both were eliminated. Enfinger told his team on the radio that he was sorry and that he lost control of the truck underneath Jones’ truck.

Stage 1 winner: Sheldon Creed

Stage 2 winner: Matt Crafton

Next: July 27 at Pocono Raceway.

Truck Series practice report from Kentucky

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Brett Moffitt was fastest in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series final practice session Thursday at Kentucky Speedway.

Moffitt posted a top speed of 181.861 mph around the 1.5-mile track.

The top five was completed by Grant Enfinger (181.104 mph), Sheldon Creed (180.819), Brandon Jones (180.270) and Johnny Sauter (180.114).

Creed recorded the most laps in the session with 32.

Harrison Burton had the best 10-lap average at 177.273 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.

First practice

Harrison Burton was fastest with a top speed of 180.481 mph around the 1.5-mile track.

The top five was completed by Creed (179.432 mph), Sauter (179.336), Tyler Ankrum (177.702) and Moffitt (176.985).

Stewart Friesen was seventh fastest in his backup truck after his primary truck was confiscated by NASCAR due to a firewall issue.

Spencer Boyd, who was 28th on the speed chart, recorded the most laps with 33.

The session was stopped once for a spin by Tyler Hill.

Click here for the practice report.

Preliminary entry lists for NASCAR at Kentucky Speedway

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NASCAR makes its annual trip to Kentucky Speedway this weekend with all three of it national series.

The weekend is capped off by the Cup Series’ Quaker State 400 Saturday night.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for the weekend.

Cup – Quaker State 400 (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

There are 36 cars entered into the race.

Quin Houff is entered in Spire Motorsports’ No. 77 Chevrolet a week after Justin Haley earned the team’s first Cup win.

There are no drivers listed for Rick Ware Racing’s No. 51 and No. 52 cars.

Last year Martin Truex Jr. swept both stages and won over Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski for his second straight win at Kentucky.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity – Alsco 300 (7:30 p.m. ET Friday on NBCSN)

There are 38 cars on the entry list.

Ryan Truex is entered in JR Motorsports No. 8 Chevrolet for the second time this year.

BJ McLeod is entered in JD Motorsports’ No. 4 Chevrolet.

Riley Herbst is entered in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota.

There is no driver listed for MBM Motorsports’ No. 13 Toyota.

Last year, Christopher Bell won over Daniel Hemric and Kyle Busch.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 (7:30 p.m. ET Thursday on FS1)

There are 34 trucks entered. Two trucks will not make the race.

Dylan Lupton is entered in his second race in DGR-Crosley’s No. 15 Toyota.

Jeb Burton is entered in Niece Motorsports’ No. 44 Chevrolet.

Brandon Jones is entered in Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 51 Toyota.

Last year, Ben Rhodes won over Stewart Friesen and Matt Crafton.

Click here for the entry list.