tj bell

Kyle Busch overcomes penalties to win Miami Truck race

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

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

Leave a comment

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

Travis Pastrana looks to ‘figure out’ NASCAR with Truck Series return

Travis Pastrana
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Leave a comment

CONCORD, N.C — On a warm day at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Travis Pastana received similar greetings from old friends and competitors.

“I’m glad you’re back in the game!” yelled one burly Red Horse Racing crew member over the constant roar of the Camping World Truck Series garage Tuesday afternoon.

A few hours later, the action sports star would climb back into a NASCAR vehicle for the first time in two years.

Photo by Daniel McFadin

At 33, Pastrana plans to compete in the Sept. 30 Truck race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the same track he made his last start at in 2015. He’ll be driving the No. 45 truck owned by Niece Motorsports that’s also been driven by T.J. Bell this season.

Pastrana was in Charlotte for a one-day test despite being a very busy man. He has his popular Nitro Cirus stunt tour and is competing full-time in world rally for the first time since 2010 and leads the points. He also has a family with two daughters to raise.

So why dip back into NASCAR? Why spend six hours in May testing for a race in September?

Four years after his lone full-time Xfinity campaign with Roush Fenway Racing, Pastrana has an itch. A question that he needs to find the answer to.

“I’ve been able to figure most racing things out and be competitive,” Pastrana told NBC Sports. “Everyday at some point, I go ‘why couldn’t I figure out NASCAR? What do I need to do?’ I haven’t had the time to do it right.”

It helps that truck races are a viewing priority on TV for Pastrana’s 3-year-old daughter.

“She’ll watch an entire race,” Pastrana said. “Which is shocking because she doesn’t sit and watch anything. She’s always kind of bouncing off the walls. She likes the Trucks, especially Matt Crafton because she knows Matt a little and (Crafton’s daughter) Elladee is around her age. … We went down to Florida last year to see the finals and the truck race.”

Pastrana showed spurts of potential in 2013 in the Xfinity Series. Driving a colorful No. 60 Ford for Roush, he earned a pole at Talladega and qualified on the front row three times. In 33 starts, he collected four top 10s.

After a career filled with various action sports championships, Pastrana had viewed NASCAR as the next mountain to conquer.

“NASCAR’s been challenging because I’ve made a career and a living out of being able to take risks that no one else was willing to take,” Pastrana said. “I never cared about motorcycle set up. I just go out there and I ride. Your body is the setup. Even in rally, the course has so many different corners and different jumps, you’ll never have the perfect set up, so it comes down more to the driver.

“In NASCAR, it comes down to what you know about the truck. We’ve been working a lot, learning about the truck, learning about the cars. When I came into NASCAR, I didn’t know a lot about NASCAR. I thought it was a cool sport. Now, since then, I’ve learned a lot more about the sport, not to say I’m going to be great by any means, but I feel like I’ve got a much bigger appreciation and understanding for what it takes.”

Before his Xfinity tour, Pastrana had made a handful of K&N Pro Series starts. His competitors at the time included Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Darrell Wallace Jr.

Now those twenty-something drivers are rising stars in the Xfinity and Cup Series. Unlike Pastrana, they were raised on and have mastered this discipline their entire lives.

“I know I wouldn’t have made it (to Cup),” Pastrana admits. “With the time that I had, I know what it takes to get to the top of the sport. I was hoping that my other sports would translate better. They didn’t. Ok, that means we’re doing this seven days a week. Every minute of every day is thinking about NASCAR. Without a wife, kids, a business in Nitro Circus, that would have been an awesome challenge. But for me, at the point I was at in my life, I can race with my money and other people’s money, but I don’t have the time with my own equipment to do this. We’re doing the rally championship. It’s six rounds, so I can be 100 percent committed for those six rounds.”

Two weeks ago, the Annapolis, Maryland, native used a viral video made with his friends and family to announce his intentions to compete in the Las Vegas race.

Come Tuesday, Niece Motorsports’ small operation, along with some of Pastrana’s friends and former Roush crew members, scrambled around their garage stall to prepare the truck for what could be Pastrana’s only on-track action before September.

But as The Nitro Circus’ schedule slows down, there may the opportunity for another race, possibly at Chicagoland.

“We’re trying to drive as much as I can this year,” Pastrana said. “I’m doing the first full rally championship since 2010. For me, I’m doing a lot more pavement stuff, lots of go-kart stuff. Just trying to figure this stuff out a little bit, every chance that I can to come out.”

Optimism can’t produce horsepower, though. At the end of the marathon test, the combined effort of Pastrana and Bell and their rag-tag team could only muster a top speed of 174.396 mph, the slowest of the session by six mph.

But unlike the other 19 teams present at the test, Pastrana was the only driver there not taking part in their “day job.” He was just having fun, while studying up for the real test on Sept. 30.

“I’m not saying, ‘hey, I’m coming back in full-time,’ Pastrana said. “I’m racing one race, mostly to help my rally, but also to keep my foot in the door and say, ‘look, eventually I’d like to figure this stuff out because I haven’t figured it out and it bugs me.'”

 and on Facebook