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Penalty report from Miami

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NASCAR issued a $10,000 fine against Aric Almirola‘s crew chief, John Klausmeier, for an unsecured lug nut after Sunday’s Cup season finale.

Almirola finished ninth in the race.

No other penalties were announced.

 

Joey Meier’s tenure as Brad Keselowski’s spotter ends

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Joey Meier announced on Twitter Monday that his time as spotter on Brad Keselowski‘s No. 2 Ford has come to an end after Sunday’s season finale.

Meier has spotted for Keselowski since 2006.

Joey Meier

“Ive (sic) been told my time as the 2 Car spotter has come to the checkered flag,” Meier said in the Twitter post. “I will miss spotting but there will be more Chapters in my life as I continue to be a pilot.”

After he won at Talladega in 2016, Keselowski called Meier an “all-star” for his work as a spotter.

“His communication, his way of kind of verbalizing what he sees, is the key for me to be able to make the right moves on the racetrack,” Keselowski said. “It’s a good 1‑2 punch … He’s been part of three of the four Talladega wins, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”

Keselowski would win at Talladega again in 2017.

Keselowski won three times in 2018 and finished the season eighth in the standings.

Brad Keselowski: Late-race incident with Daniel Suarez ‘a racing deal’

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Brad Keselowski took to Twitter late Sunday to dismiss the notion that a late-race incident with Daniel Suarez in the Cup season finale was an intentional act to help teammate Joey Logano win the championship.

The incident occurred with 20 laps to go when Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, David Ragan and Suarez were four-wide entering Turn 1.

Ragan was beneath Keselowski when he got loose and washed up into him, who then made contact with Suarez.

That sent Suarez into a slide, which cut a tire and put enough debris on the track to create a caution.

After the field pitted, Logano was third on the final restart with 15 laps to go. Three laps later he took the lead from Martin Truex Jr.

“Just a racing deal,” Keselowski said on Twitter. “@ClintBowyer and I were racing hard for position with 5th place points battle on the line.

“We Came up on 2 lap cars and neither of us 4 gave an inch. Hate that it caused a yellow but the racing was legit.”

The Team Penske driver added that he thought he had “screwed the 22 team” as a result of the incident and benefitted Kyle Busch, who led the race after not making a green flag pit stop.

Keselowski went on to finish fifth.

Truex finished second in a failed attempt to defend his 2017 title. His No. 78 Toyota lacked the short-run speed needed over the final run.

His fortunes were the opposite from 2017 when he capitalized on a late caution that involved Suarez and won the title.

“(Suarez) brought the caution out last year which won us the championship,” Truex’s crew chief Cole Pearn said after the race. “This year it cost us the championship. You’ve got to be good, but you’ve got to have a bit of luck. At the end of the day, it just didn’t quite shake out.”

 

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With careers likely ending Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray are all smiles

Adrian Parker
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While Joey Logano celebrated his first Cup Series title Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, two friends posed for a picture on pit road.

Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray were all smiles.

Roush Fenway Racing’s Kenseth had just finished sixth in his 665th and likely last Cup start.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s McMurray placed 18th in possibly his last start as a full-time driver.

Kenseth, who returned to Roush this season for 15 starts in the No. 6 Ford after losing his ride at Joe Gibbs Racing, hasn’t announced any plans for 2019 season.

The 2003 Cup champion told NBC Sports in September he wasn’t looking for a ride, but that he was “looking forward to still being a part” of Roush, which he raced for in Cup from 1999 – 2012 before moving to JGR.

“I think it’s cool to end it there” Kenseth said. “You never know what’s going to pop up. Maybe something will pop up where you need to run a few races and there’s some opportunities.”

Should his career be over, Kenseth provided a nice bookend to it. As a 26-year-old in 1998, Kenseth made his Cup debut at Dover International Speedway, driving in place of Bill Elliott in his No. 94 McDonald’s Ford. Elliott missed that race to attend his father’s funeral.

Kenseth started that race 19th and placed sixth.

McMurray is still deciding on what’s in store for him next year.

The seven-time Cup winner has an offer from Chip Ganassi to compete in the Daytona 500 in a third car before transitioning into a management role for the team he competed for from 2002-05 and ’10-18.

The 2010 Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 winner said over the weekend there’s “a lot of other things that I’m going through trying to figure out that I can’t say, but I hope I can soon.”

But the 42-year-old said he is at peace with the likely end of his NASCAR career after talking with former drivers like Casey Mears and former teammates Greg Biffle and Kenseth.

“I’ve talked to a lot of drivers that have recently went through it, and everyone’s story is exactly the same,” McMurray said. “And so if I feel the way that they do, I’m looking forward to three to four races into next year.”

Should McMurray’s career end with the Daytona 500, he would exit the cockpit after 583 Cup starts.

 

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2018 Cup season by the numbers

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Somewhere Joey Logano is waking up to his first sunrise as a Cup champion.

Logano clinched his first Cup title Sunday with his win in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, beating Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.

Logano is the 33rd different driver to win a Cup title in the series’ 70 seasons.

The 28-year-old is the second driver to win a Cup title for Team Penske.

With the 2018 season complete and 36 races added to the record book, here’s a look at some of the interesting stats that made up the year courtesy of Racing Insights.

– The Cup Series competed for 10,250 laps over 13,741 miles

– Cup saw 73 different drivers compete in 36 races

– Eleven drivers made their Cup debut

– Thirteen drivers won at least one pole. Kurt Busch led the series with five poles.

Daniel Suarez was the only driver to earn his first pole (Pocono II)

– Two drivers, Chase Elliott (Watkins Glen) and Erik Jones (Daytona II) earned their first Cup wins.

– Joe Gibbs Racing led all teams with 10 poles

– Three cautions at Sonoma, Richmond and Kansas were the fewest in a race.

– 13 cautions in the spring at Bristol were the most in a race.

– Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski each won three races in a row. It’s the first time three drivers have done that in a season.

– Five drivers ended a winless streak of 36 or more races: Clint Bowyer (190 races), Aric Almirola (149 races), Kurt Busch (58 races), Ryan Blaney (50 races) and Joey Logano (36 races)

– Seven times a driver won both stages and the race
.

– Harvick led all drivers with 19 stage wins.

 

Most Laps Led in a season without a win:

Driver                      Laps Led           Season

Harry Gant              1169                     1981

Jeff Gordon            919                       2010

Kyle Larson           782                      2018

Buddy Baker          766                       1969

Larson led the most laps in four races but failed to win all four.

 

Best Average Finish on 1.5-Mile tracks in a season:

Driver                             Avg Fin        Season               Starts

Bobby Labonte            2.43              1999                    7

Martin Truex Jr.           2.55               2017                    11

Bobby Labonte            3.14              2000                    7

Carl Edwards               4.64              2011                    11

Kyle Busch                   5.1                 2018                     11

 

Consecutive Seasons with at least one win: Active Drivers

Driver                                  No.         Years

Jimmie Johnson              16          2002-2017

Kyle Busch                       14           2005-2018

Denny Hamlin                 12           2006-2017

Kevin Harvick                 9              2010-2018

Brad Keselowski            8              2011-2018

Bold drivers won this season