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Kyle Busch overcomes penalties to win Miami Truck race

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Kyle Busch came back from being assessed pre-race penalties to win Saturday night’s Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Busch shook off a pre-race inspection infraction that cost him 10 owner points and likely will result in additional penalties in the next few days, was forced to start from the back of the field (after he had been slated to start from the second position) and had to serve a pass-through penalty after the green flag fell.

The L1 violation assessed against Busch’s truck and team, per the NASCAR Rule Book, is: 20.3.2.3 Rear Sub-Frame Assembly I-4 Track Bar Supports a. A maximum of one track bar mount frame support and a maximum of one track bar mount lateral support must be used.

It took Busch just 39 laps to roar through the 38-truck field to take the lead and led 82 laps in the 134-lap race. He wrapped things up following the last caution and restart, sailing away from the field in the final seven laps to earn the 58th Truck Series win of his career.

“The deal with the infraction was a fluke deal,” Busch told FS1. “That’s how these trucks were allowed to run last time here at Homestead. This thing has just been sitting on the side waiting for me to get back behind the wheel. It didn’t go to the fab shop, so it didn’t get a bar cut out that was legal here last year but not legal here this year. So, not sure if there was a performance advantage to it, just something we’ve been running but not allowed to do it anymore.”

Tyler Ankrum finished second, followed by Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott and Johnny Sauter.

More: Results, standings after Miami Truck race

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ross Chastain

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch

Who had a good race: Tyler Ankrum ran solid much of the night to earn his first top-10 finish of the season. … Christian Eckes (eighth) was the highest finishing rookie.

Who had a bad race: It was a rough night for GMS Racing. Shortly after a restart on Lap 20, three of its trucks – Chase Elliott, Brett Moffitt and Zane Smith – were involved in a wreck. Only Elliott was able to continue and finished fourth. Moffitt finished 36th and Smith finished 37th.

Notable: This was Busch’s second win and third top-10 finish in a Truck this season. He also said that he expects his final Truck Series start this year will be at Texas on July 18. … There was a red flag of almost 16 minutes late in the race when Sheldon Creed ran into sand barrels at the entrance to pit road.

What’s next: The series is off next weekend and returns to action on Saturday, June 27, at Pocono Raceway (12:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Grant Enfinger wins Atlanta Truck race with last-lap pass of Austin Hill

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Grant Enfinger passed Austin Hill with one lap to go to win Saturday’s Vet Tix Camping World 200 Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The green-white-checker finish gave Enfinger his fourth career win and second this season (he also won the 2020 opener at Daytona). It also was Ford’s first-ever Truck Series win at the 1.54-mile track in Hampton, Georgia.

Kyle Busch won the first two stages and appeared to have the truck to win. But midway through the final segment, he was forced to pit after he skimmed the outside wall trying to avoid the slow-moving ride of Jordan Anderson.

To add insult to injury, Busch was penalized twice for speeding on pit road, ultimately dropping him three laps behind the leaders and ending his hopes of rebounding for the win. Busch came into the race having won nine times, plus three runner-ups and a third-place showing in his last 14 Truck Series starts dating back to Michigan in mid-2017.

MORE: Results, standings after Atlanta Trucks race

Hill finished second in Saturday’s race, followed by Christian Eckes, Todd Gilliland and Zane Smith. Sixth through 10th were Ross Chastain, Derek Kraus, Brett Moffitt, Ben Rhodes and Stewart Friesen.

Enfinger’s win was set up when Chase Elliott spun with three laps left in regulation time, bringing out the caution. Hill, who hails from Winston, Georgia, about 55 miles from Atlanta Motor Speedway, had a 4.5 second lead at the time.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Busch

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch

Who had a good race: Even though he failed to win, Hill still had a strong run nonetheless. Also kudos to Eckes for rallying to finish third, followed by a late surge by Gilliland.

Who had a bad race: Rookie Bryan Dauzat had two incidents in the first four laps of Stage 1. He parked his Truck after the second incident and finished last in the 40-truck field. … Matt Crafton got caught up in an accordion-type wreck on pit road after Stage 1 that caused significant damage to his front end. Still, Crafton managed to rally back to finish 12th.

Notable: A pair of teenagers started the race on the front row: series rookie Christian Eckes and Tyler Ankrum, both 19 years old. Eckes finished third, while Ankrum was 15th.

What’s next: The next Truck Series race is Saturday, June 13, at Homestead-Miami Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

Also: A fox hopped across pit wall and ran across the track before exiting on the other side. No caution was called.

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Call him the bounty hunter: Chase Elliott beats Kyle Busch to win $100K

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Chase Elliott may have earned a new nickname Tuesday night: the Bounty Hunter.

By winning the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Elliott won a $100,000 “bounty” put up by Kevin Harvick and Gander RV & Outdoors CEO Marcus Lemonis to be a full-time Cup driver to beat Kyle Busch to the finish line, snapping Busch’s streak of seven consecutive Truck Series wins.

The money goes to a charity of Elliott’s choosing, benefitting COVID-19 relief.

“It was a lot of fun,” Elliott told FS1. “It’d been a long time. It doesn’t make up for Sunday (finished second in the Coca-Cola 600) but it was still a really good night. I’m glad to win and do some good for the relief efforts for this virus.”

Busch gave Elliott all he could handle in the last 15 laps, drawing closer seemingly on every lap, but ultimately couldn’t catch Elliott before the finish line.

“He was a little better than I was there at the end; I had gotten a little tight and I don’t think we adjusted enough on the last pit stop,” Elliott said of Busch. “Luckily, the right front stayed on it long enough to get to the end.

“To be able to come out and out-run him and him finish second, I’d rather have him finish second than wreck or something, so I feel like I did something right.”

MORE: Results, standings after Truck race at Charlotte

It was Elliott’s third win in 13 career Truck Series races.

Busch was frustrated with his truck all night.

“(The truck) just never was right, so we were out in left field the whole night, never had a real great feel for the truck, a great driving truck, so I just salvaged what I could,” Busch said in a post-race Zoom media conference call. “It was self-inflicted, threw it away. We had six months to prepare and screwed it all up.”

Chase Elliott celebrates after winning the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Busch chuckled when told that Elliott imitated Busch’s usual bow after each win he amasses.

“No, this is the first I’m hearing of it,” Busch said. “Imitation is the strongest form of flattery or I don’t know what it is. But that’s cute.”

Elliott

“It was just a spur of the moment thing,” Elliott said with a smile. “I thought we’ve had so much fun with it with Kevin (Harvick) and putting up the money, Kyle was a good sport about it.

“It was not a dig at anybody, just having fun with it. It was about beating him, so why not have some fun with it.”

Zane Smith finished third, followed by Brett Moffitt and Sheldon Creed.

John Hunter Nemechek finished sixth followed by Johnny Sauter, Ty Majeski, Austin Hill and Ben Rhodes.

Tuesday’s race was the first for the Truck Series since Busch won Feb. 21 at Las Vegas, just a couple of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down NASCAR racing for more than two months.

It was Elliott’s first Truck race since 2017.

“It was about beating Kyle and we did that, so I guess I can quit now,” Elliott laughed.

Busch, meanwhile, saw his streak of winning the last seven Truck races he entered fall short of an eighth consecutive start and win.

Busch finished fourth in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, won Monday’s Xfinity race and was runner-up in Tuesday’s race. He goes for another win in Wednesday’s Alsco Uniforms 500, which wraps up four races in as many days at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ross Chastain (first stage win of season)

STAGE 2 WINNER: Chase Elliott

Who had a good race: Zane Smith was the highest finishing rookie driver, earning a career-best third-place finish. Smith has made just four starts in a Truck in his career but gave the front runners a formidable challenge, particularly in the final 15 laps. “I was so determined to get third,” the 20-year-old Smith said. “It was an awesome night.”

Who had a bad race: Brennan Poole was involved in two last segment incidents that prevented him from making his bid to collect the Harvick/Lemonis bounty. Poole finished 38th. … Matt Crafton suffered a broken track bar late in the race, ending his night prematurely. Crafton finished 35th.

Notable: Brett Moffitt continues to impress in his ongoing recovery from suffering two broken legs in mid-March. In the last five days, Moffitt has earned strong 11th (Darlington) and 6th (Charlotte) place finishes with a fourth-place finish in the Truck race.

What’s next: Vet Tix Camping World 200, Saturday June 6 at 1 p.m. ET, Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

How Jordan Anderson discovered his race hauler is a ‘time capsule’

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If not for the COVID-19 pandemic that’s brought NASCAR and much of the country to a stop, it might have taken Jordan Anderson a while to discover his race team’s hauler was a “time capsule.”

When you’re not expecting to race until at least May, there’s not too much you can do around your race shop.

What you can do is clean your hauler, which would be a “bottom of the totem pole” chore for his Truck Series team in more normal times.

That’s what Anderson was doing today when he learned that the hauler his team has used since 2019 once pulled into the Cup Series garage … 18 years ago.

“Underneath the seat cushions it had ‘Hooters Racing / No. 11’ on it. …. handwritten in sharpie,” Anderson told NBC Sports.

The No. 11 and Hooters were a combo associated with Cup Series driver Brett Bodine from 2002-03 when Bodine owned his own team.

As for the inscribed cushion?

“Somebody pointed this out on Twitter that’s a common thing that Featherlite did when they manufactured these haulers,” Anderson said. “All the seats were made in a common area and the way they marked what hauler they were going in was somebody would just take a sharpie on the bottom board of the cushions and write what hauler it was going in.”

There were more relics from the early 2000s found underneath the hauler’s drawers.

“We found a couple of … setup sheets and stuff like that that had Brett Bodine, the 11 logo on it,” Anderson said. “Then we found one note that I think had practice times from like Phoenix in 2002 in there.”

Anderson, who finished second in the season-opening race at Daytona for his first career top five, purchased the hauler from Premium Motorsports at the end of the 2018 season. Before Premium, it was owned by Stewart Friesen when he began competing in the Truck Series in 2017. Before that, it hauled Tommy Baldwin Racing’s No. 7 Cup car driven by Alex Bowman in 2015.

Using equipment that’s survived through multiple racing generations is not a new experience for Anderson’s self-owned team.

“Honestly, it’s been my entire career,” said Jordan, who currently owns chassis once used by GMS Racing. “With us being a smaller team, we don’t actually manufacturer the chassis. We may do body work, things like that. Most chassis and parts that we buy come from smaller teams and there’s a lot of people that are here in Mooresville that sell used parts.”

Jordan said he has brake calipers that are engraved with “KHI,” the initials for Kevin Harvick Inc., the Truck and Xfinity Series team Harvick operated that closed in 2011.

“It’s pretty crazy to go back and find some of the parts and pieces that we got that have been recycled from bigger teams,” Anderson said. “The fact that stuff gets recycled and reused is how teams like myself stay alive. Because for us to go out and buy all brand new stuff, you’d run out of money pretty quickly.”

As for his hauler, Anderson views its journey through the auto racing community as having come “full circle.”

“That hauler started its life with Brett Bodine, but he owned his team back then and now (it’s) with me owning our team in the Truck Series,” Anderson said. “Most stuff in racing has got a pretty long story. You don’t often get too fortunate to find stuff like what we found today to be able to trace it all the way back.”

Long: A sigh of relief punctuates the end of Daytona Speedweeks

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — When it was over, when a Daytona Speedweeks that featured outrage and exhilaration saw its final checkered flag, there was little euphoria, many anxious moments and eventually a sigh of relief.

Confusion and concern reigned on pit road after Ryan Newman’s horrific crash at the end of Monday night’s Daytona 500. Racing for the win, Newman’s car slammed into the wall before the start/finish line, was struck while upside down by Corey LaJoie’s car and slid down the track, a shower of sparks trailing, before coming to rest beyond the exit of pit road.

A conversation on one team’s radio said Newman was out of the car, but others on pit road said he was not. With drivers and teams parked closer to pit entrance after the race, no one could tell what was happening at the other end of pit road.

Safety crews needed more than 10 minutes to roll Newman’s car over, attend to him and cut the crumpled roof off to extricate the 42-year-old father of two.

Moments earlier, Ryan Blaney pushed Newman past Denny Hamlin into the lead on the backstretch of the final lap. Blaney attempted to pass on the frontstretch, but Newman blocked. Blaney realized he was going to finish second and wanted to ensure a Ford won, so he pushed Newman. But one bump unsettled Newman’s car, triggering the incident.

Afterward, Blaney stood with his crew by his car on pit road for several minutes but little was said. They waited to hear about Newman’s condition. As many did.

When he talked to the media, Blaney’s face was ashen and his eyes blank as he recounted a last lap he’d like to forget but likely never will.

“I hope he’s alright,” Blaney said. “That looked really bad. Definitely unintentional. … Just waiting to see if he’s OK.”

As he spoke, an ambulance sped past, taking Newman to Halifax Health Medical Center.

Until the end of the Daytona 500, Speedweeks had provided its fill of drama, intrigue and bliss.

It started with the Busch Clash the week before where all 18 cars were involved in an at least one accident and winner Erik Jones was collected in three incidents. The main story that day, though, was Brad Keselowski’s  anger toward teammate Joey Logano for an accident that collected both and Kyle Busch.

A few days later the focus returned to racing. Logano won his qualifying race and William Byron won his qualifying race, his first Cup victory at Daytona. But Daniel Suarez suffered heartbreak when he was involved in a crash and failed to qualify for the 500.

The following night saw Jordan Anderson finish second by one-hundredth of a second, but he celebrated as if he won. The 28-year-old has raced in the Truck series most of the past five years but it hasn’t been easy. He has often pulled his truck in a dually and struggled to find funding. He sold equipment to help keep his team going in the offseason and purchase the truck he ran at Daytona.

After finishing second, Anderson couldn’t stop smiling.

“This finish tonight … is for every underdog in America, every kid that stays up late and works on his dirt late model or legends car and dreams of coming to Daytona,” Anderson said. “Hopefully, this finish tonight encourages them to never give up on their dreams.”

Less than 24 hours later, Noah Gragson was burning up the track. Literally.

Gragson celebrated his first Xfinity win with an extended burnout that had some rubber burning on the track.

“I caught the track on fire,” the 21-year-old driver for JR Motorsports said. “I thought that always would be really, really cool to catch the track on fire from doing a burnout, and I was able to do that.”

A Sunday filled with sunshine started with Air Force One delivering President Donald J. Trump. He spoke briefly to fans. They serenaded him with chants of “U-S-A!” He gave the command to start engines and his motorcade led the field on a pace lap, something never before done in a race. But rain delayed the start and the electricity that had built faded when the field only got 20 laps in before a second rain delay postponed the race to Monday.

Sunday’s energy grew through a late Monday afternoon under sunny and warm conditions. Crashes reduced the field but still left enough cars to create a dramatic win for Hamlin.

But that was overshadowed by Newman’s wreck.

And all the waiting.

Fans left the track without knowing Newman’s condition. Those at the track stood around. Nobody knew.

Informed of the severity of Newman’s crash, Hamlin and Joe Gibbs Racing muted their victory lane activities. A somber atmosphere hung over the track.

It was a stark reminder of how dangerous racing can be, something many have overlooked as they’ve applauded countless drivers who emerged with no serious injuries from high-flying cars that tumbled and rolled. It also showed how far safety has come in NASCAR since Dale Earnhardt’s fatal crash in 2001.

Two hours after Newman’s ambulance ride, the news came.

He was alive.

And a sigh of relief filled a silent racetrack.

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