Eddie MacDonald

Bubba Wallace celebrates ‘unforgettable day at Indy’

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INDIANAPOLIS — In a season where Bubba Wallace has been tearful, despondent and frustrated, Sunday saw the engaging 25-year-old beaming, joking and excited after a season-best third-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“What a helluva day, helluva day for my team,” Wallace said after finishing behind winner Kevin Harvick and runner-up Joey Logano. “We needed this. We needed this weekend. We unloaded with speed and I was bragging to everybody.

“An unforgettable day at Indy.”

Wallace’s run was his second career top-five finish. He placed second in last year’s Daytona 500.

It didn’t seem as if Wallace — whose best finish this season was 14th at Bristol last month — would have a chance for a strong finish for Richard Petty Motorsports early in the race.

Wallace was involved in a pit road accident that included Chase Elliott and impacted Jimmie Johnson’s stop.

“I had no idea,” Wallace said of what happened. “I knew I was supposed to come around (Chris Buescher) and go long. I saw (Buescher) pull in, and I lifted and went to turn in and next thing you know I’m heading for Jimmie Johnson’s guys and I couldn’t stop. What I should have done, going back on it, is get off the brakes and turn and get away from them.

“Thank God we missed their pit crew and didn’t crush them because I couldn’t stop.”

Wallace said he asked his crew what happened and was told that Elliott “just ran you over.” Wallace admitted he was upset with Elliott for a while “and then I see (Elliott’s) car had damage and I’m like, ‘Nah, that had to be an accordion effect. I thought our day was over with. I thought that was how our luck was summed up all year, having really fast cars and some dumb luck takes us out. And it didn’t.”

Wallace had said earlier this weekend how excited he was and how fast his car was.

He showed how good it was Sunday working his way toward the front. He never was worse than 11th in the final 50 laps.

“It’s incredible to think about where the season started and where we were at the first 10 races in,” Wallace said on pit road after the race. “Ever since Charlotte, we’ve still been bringing some heat. It’s just the passion and the drive my team has and it’s a frickin’ blast coming to the race track and being away from the race track with my guys.”

Wallace knows the challenge a single-car team faces in Cup but left Indy encouraged.

“If we can just have moments like this and weekends like that, we can start to put together runs and generate more funding and resources and get our cars better,” he said. 

When Wallace was third on the final restart, he admits he flashed back to a race nearly a decade ago.

“Nine years ago we won at Lee (New Hampshire) Speedway when I restarted third and Ryan Truex and Eddie MacDonald were on the front row. I said on the pace laps these guys are going to overdrive Turn 1 and I’m going to take the lead and that happened.

“I started game-planning (Sunday when he was third). Now this is different plan because it was Joey and Kevin, but I started game-planning. They lined up perfectly and they went into (Turn) 3 and I’m like ‘Yes,’ and they all made it and I’m like, ‘Damn.’ ‘’

Even though he didn’t get the chance to win, it was still a good day for Wallace.

“All we do is just continue to climb up that Mt. Everest hill and we just keep kind of knocking another block off, knocking another step off,” he said.

But had he won, Wallace knew what he would have said in victory lane.

“My mom told me (Saturday), she’s like ‘When you win, tell them haters to kiss those bricks.’ ”

Harrison Burton claims K&N Pro Series East championship with Dover win

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DOVER, Delaware — Harrison Burton pulled away from Riley Herbst on an overtime restart to win Friday’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race and the series championship. 

Burton led the final 17 laps at Dover, taking the lead from Ruben Garcia Jr. in a spirited side-by-side duel that went more than two laps. Burton then held the field off in overtime, which extended the race three laps to 128 laps.

The victory marked Burton’s fifth of the season. Eddie MacDonald finished second. Tyler Dippel was third.

Burton, the 16-year-old son of NASCAR on NBC analyst Jeff Burton, is the youngest champion in series history. Joey Logano had been the youngest series champion at 17 when he won the 2007 title.

In victory lane, Burton embraced his mother, Kim, lifting her off the ground, and then hugged his father.

“We’re a racing family,” Harrison Burton said. “To share a championship with the people that love you the most is pretty cool.”

Burton entered the season finale eight points behind Todd Gilliland but Gilliland’s title hopes went away when he blew a right front tire and hit the wall on Lap 56 of the 128-lap race. He finished 13th in the 15-car field.

“It was kind of tight, but I just went in there and the right front just blew,” Gilliland said. “It just popped. I could hear it. It’s basically been our season story. Been running up front and had tires go down. It took us out of the first half of the season. In the last seven races, we finished first or second in all of them and really got us back in this thing. For it to end like this is heartbreaking. We’ll have to move on and I learned a lot this year.”

The 17-year-old son of former Cup driver David Gilliland sought the K&N Pro Series East title after winning the K&N Pro Series West championship last year. Todd Gilliland finishes the season with four wins.

Todd Gilliland’s focus turns to the Camping World Truck Series. He’s run four races this season for Kyle Busch Motorsports, finishing a season-best third at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Former K&N Pro Series East champions include William Byron (2015), Kyle Larson (2012) and Logano.

Now add Harrison Burton.

“It’s a good list to be on,” he said. “To be a champion is huge for me.”

This race will air on NBCSN at 10:30 p.m. ET on Oct. 6.

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NASCAR issues written warnings to teams of Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard after New Hamsphire

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NASCAR issued written warnings to five teams this week for multiple inspection failures last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The cars of Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin and Eddie MacDonald were warned for failing prequalifying inspection twice. Ryan Blaney’s team was warned for failing prerace inspection twice.

The Sprint Cup Rule Book states in section 12.5.3.1.c that if the same team receives two warnings during two consecutive events – whether a points event or not – then the team faces a P1 penalty that could include one or more of the following: Deduction of practice time, deduction of qualifying time, last choice in selecting pits, delay in order of inspection and/or other penalties.

NASCAR has emphasized teams getting through inspection without needing too many attempts. Teams were warned in April about formalized penalties for failing to pass inspection.

There were four teams (Greg Biffle, Casey Mears, Brett Moffitt and Alex Kennedy) that received warnings after the previous race at Kentucky but avoided a warning in consecutive events.

NASCAR also announced that the No. 23, 62 and 98 teams have been docked 15 minutes of practice at Indianapolis for infractions.

K&N rookie phenom Byron does it again, wins 4th race of 2015 at New Hampshire

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William Byron dominated from the pole en route to his fourth win of the K&N Pro Series East season, capturing Friday afternoon’s United Site Services 70 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The 17-year-old rookie won by 2.623 seconds over runner-up Scott Heckert.

“This means a lot to come to a racetrack like this and do what we did here today,” said Byron. “To come this far in one season is just amazing. I can’t thank everyone enough and it’s absolutely amazing to be here in victory lane.”

Byron’s biggest lead at one point in the race (Lap 50) was nearly 5.5 seconds. He led all but two of the 70-lap race.

Heckert earned his best career finish in three starts at the Magic Mile.

Heckert, who has now finished second in six of eight starts this season, made one last attempt to get past Byron on the restart on Lap 56, but Byron’s No. 9 was too strong and he sailed onward to victory.

“Those late race restarts were our only chance,” said Heckert. “I would have like to have a little bit more for William (Byron) at the end, but it was a good day all around for the team.”

Kaz Grala finished third, followed by Nick Drake and Austin Hill.

Sixth through 10th were Spencer Davis, Gray Gaulding, JJ Haley, Eddie MacDonald and Rico Abreu.

Here’s the final results:

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