Leavine Family Racing

New Hampshire winners and losers

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WINNERS

Kevin HarvickHe no longer has to answer the question of when is he going to win (same for Stewart-Haas Racing). Now the question is if this will lead to a string of wins for the No. 4 team, which has shown speed but not been able to capitalize on it.

Parity — Kevin Harvick marked the seventh different winner in the last seven Cup races, the longest streak of the season.

Ryan Newman First, he was in a backup car and had to start at the rear on a track where passing is difficult. Then, he had a broken coil wire that sapped his engine’s power with about 100 laps to go. His team recovered and he finished seventh for his fifth top 10 in the last six races. Also, he climbed into a playoff spot.

Matt DiBenedetto His fifth-place finish was his third top-10 result in the last five races. Good progress for Leavine Family Racing.

LOSERS

Jimmie JohnsonBack-to-back 30th-place finishes have dropped the seven-time champion out of a playoff spot. He’s never missed NASCAR’s postseason — and is the only driver who can say that he’s been in the Chase/playoffs every year since its inception in 2004. Will that streak continue? Or will it end this year?

Richard Childress Racing — RCR cars finished 37th (Daniel Hemric) and 32nd (Austin Dillon). Hemric’s day ended after contact from Daniel Suarez. Dillon blew a right front tire early and that damaged his car.

Hendrick Motorsports — Alex Bowman’s team went through two cars before Sunday’s race. William Byron had to go to a backup because of an incident in practice. Mechanical issues caused Jimmie Johnson to finish 30th and Chase Elliott to place 29th. Bowman placed 14th and Byron led the way with a 12th-place finish. The best thing about the weekend for Hendrick Motorsports is it is over.

Kyle Larson — Two crashes within the last 100 laps made for a bad day Sunday.

JTG Daugherty Racing, Leavine Family Racing win Round 5 of eNASCAR Pro League

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The eSports teams of JTG Daugherty Racing and Leavine Family Racing were the winners Wednesday night in the fifth round of eNASCAR Heat Pro League.

The races were held on a digital Chicagoland Speedway. Justin Brooks (mrTRACKBAR33) won for JTG Daugherty in the Xbox One race. Josh Harbin (ThAbEaR_95) won for Leavine Family Racing in the Playstation 4 race.

Brooks’ win is his second of the season after he won Round 3 on a digital Bristol Motor Speedway.

There are three rounds left until the playoffs begin. The sixth round will be held July 24 on a digital Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The regular season will be rounded out at Michigan International Speedway (Aug. 7) and Daytona International Speedway (Aug. 24).

Here are the point standings after five rounds:

You can watch the full races in the video below.

Joe Gibbs Racing picks up option on Christopher Bell’s contract

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
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JOLIET, Ill. — Joe Gibbs Racing has picked up the option on Christopher Bell‘s contract for the 2020 season, but Bell admits that he doesn’t know where he’ll be racing next year.

“I’m good for another year,” Bell said Friday at Chicagoland Speedway. “I don’t know what I’m going to be racing, but I will be somewhere.”

Bell has won a series-high four Xfinity races this season and is second in the points to Tyler Reddick going into Saturday’s race (3:30 p.m., NBCSN).

Bell won the most recent Xfinity race, two weeks ago at Iowa Speedway. His other victories this season have been at Atlanta, Bristol and Dover.

His success has led to questions about where he’ll race next season. This is his second full season in the Xfinity Series. He’s won 12 of 55 career series starts (21.8%).

With a limit of four cars per team, Joe Gibbs Racing could face a quandary on where Bell will race next year.

This is Martin Truex Jr.‘s first year with the team. Joe Gibbs Racing announced a contract extension with Kyle Busch in February. Denny Hamlin signed a contract extension in 2017. Erik Jones said last month that he was “pretty close” to a contract extension with JGR.

Leavine Family Racing has an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing and has Matt DiBenedetto in the No. 95 car. Team owner Bob Leavine has expressed an interest in having a two-car team but needs sponsorship to make that happen.

Sonoma/Gateway winners and losers

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WINNERS

Joe Gibbs Racing — Martin Truex Jr. wins at Sonoma Raceway and Kyle Busch finishes second, giving the organization its 10th victory in 16 Cup races this season. For car owner Joe Gibbs, it capped off a weekend that included his grandson Ty winning his first ARCA race on Saturday at Gateway.

Matt DiBenedetto Finished a career-best fourth and was his first top 10 for Leavine Family Racing. DiBenedetto celebrated by thanking those who have given him a chance to run in Cup.

Ross Chastain A week after his win was taken away when his truck failed inspection, Chastain simply came back and won at Gateway after a call by crew chief Phil Gould to pit for fuel only late. Chastain only needs to be in the top 20 in points to be headed to the Truck playoffs and that will happen soon.

Ryan BlaneyHis third-place finish tied for his best finish of the year, matching what he did at Phoenix in March.

LOSERS

Daniel Suarez Had to start at the rear because of an engine change. He was running fourth when he made his last scheduled pit stop. However, the team was called for an uncontrolled tire. The penalty dropped Suarez to 27th with 24 laps to go. He finished 17th. The bigger issue, though, was that although he finished two spots ahead of William Byron, Suarez actually lost 16 points to Byron based on the difference in stage points. That’s important because Byron is now two points behind Suarez for 13th in the season standings.

Clint Bowyer Was running fifth on Lap 27 when he came in to pit because of a loose wheel. He fell to 37th and went on to finish 11th, a nice recovery but losing all that track position made his day longer. What might have been had he not had that loose wheel?

Chase ElliottEngine failure ended what looked like would be a top-five day, if not better. Instead, he finished 37th.

Matt DiBenedetto celebrates career-high fourth-place finish

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Matt DiBenedetto celebrated his career-best fourth-place finish Sunday at Sonoma Raceway by thanking those who had given him the opportunity to run Cup and helped him with the road course.

DiBenedetto’s previous best in Cup was sixth at Bristol in April 2016.

“Proud of you man,” crew chief Mike Wheeler said to DiBenedetto on the team’s radio after the race.

The result also was DiBenedetto’s first top-10 finish of the season with Leavine Family Racing.

“This is a team effort,” DiBenedetto told FS1. “I’m so lucky to be doing this. My path to get here has been so out of the ordinary and old school, I’m so thankful. I can’t tell you how many people took a chance on me.”

DiBenedetto noted the team’s sponsors, Toyota Racing Development, Leavine Family Racing, and others.

“All those people had to say yes and … take the chance on me,” he said. “I can’t explain how thankful I am.”

After thanking wife Taylor for her support, DiBenedetto also thanked NASCAR on NBC analyst AJ Allmendinger, saying: “This one is for my buddy AJ Allmendinger for helping me so much (with the road course).”

DiBenedetto started 19th and did not go for stage points. Instead, Wheeler had DiBenedetto pit before each of the first two stages to set the team up for the finish. DiBenedetto was sixth when the final stage began.

DiBenedetto pitted for the final time on Lap 65 of the 90-lap race, later than most. That put him outside the top 10 but gave him tires that were a few laps fresher than many of his competitors.

DiBenedetto used that to his advantage. He returned to the top 10 on Lap 70 after passing William Byron. Ten laps later, DiBenedetto moved into the top five by passing Jimmie Johnson. DiBenedetto passed Kevin Harvick for fourth on Lap 86 and stayed there to the finish for his best Cup result in 156 starts.