NASCAR America: Lapped traffic contributes to exciting Overton’s 400 finish

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The thrilling end of the Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway was made all the more exhilarating because of heavy traffic in the closing laps.

When Kyle Busch ran into a three-way scrum for 15th between Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kurt Busch, he had a decision to make. Should he allow those drivers to sort it out before going around them – a move that would allow second place Kyle Larson to get to his back bumper – or should he thread the needle and become part of their battle.

Busch chose the latter.

Newman fought hard to stay on the lead lap – a trait for which Newman is famously known – and that slowed Kyle Busch enough to force him to race in close proximity to Stenhouse and Kurt Busch. Stenhouse bumped the No. 18 in the right rear and slowed him enough to allow the No. 42 of Larson to close – and create the last-lap fireworks that have been part the highlight reel ever since.

On Monday, NASCAR America analysts Parker Kligerman and Jeff Burton discussed how much should be expected from drivers who are in the process of getting lapped.

“Towards the end of the race, when it really makes a difference, that’s when you’re supposed to be hard to pass,” Newman told NASCAR America last year.

Newman’s attitude was infectious.

“In Stenhouse’s position especially, he had every right to race Newman as hard as he could and Kurt Busch was in that group there. And he actually beat Kurt Busch, so that was one point – more valuable to him in making the playoffs,” Parker Kligerman said.

Stenhouse is currently 23 points below the cutline for making the playoffs.

“I’m conflicted on this,” Jeff Burton said. “I think the leaders deserve a chance to get – this late in the race – a chance to get themselves a little bit of a free pathway, but at the same time these guys are racing for position. The thing that gets me is … Stenhouse gets into the quarterpanel of the leader of the race.”

Stenhouse also held up Larson as he tried to navigate traffic, but they did not make contact.

“I’ve been in Kyle’s position too and when you’re in his position,” Kligerman said, “you are screaming, do whatever you can to get those guys out of your way because whatever they are racing for is not nearly worth as much as what you’re racing for.”

In the end, Burton summed up the experience best. “Selfishly, as a race fan? It was awesome.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

NASCAR America: NASCAR’s best finishes

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Where does the Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway fit among NASCAR’s best finishes?

Somewhere close to the top of the list, according to NASCAR America’s analysts. But it is not the only exciting finish seen in the past couple of decades.

Richard Petty and David Pearson’s accident coming to the finish line in the 1976 Daytona 500 ranks at the top.

“They both blamed each other for this wreck. Imagine that, things never change,” Jeff Burton said of the incident.

Pearson won over Petty.

The 2001 Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 featured a win by Kevin Harvick “in a photo finish over Jeff Gordon in a very emotional victory for everyone in NASCAR,” according to Parker Kligerman.

Burton described a race in which he watched the finish from the cockpit: the 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway in which Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch wrecked as they took the checkers.

“These guys, off turn 4 at Darlington. Just unbelievable contact, side-by-side,” Burton said. “And they kept wrecking. The race is over and they’re still wrecking. What I love about this race is the same thing we saw this past week. Both of these guys recognized they were part of an unbelievable experience.”

Kyle Busch factored into the last lap of the 2012 Finger Lakes 355 at the Glen, but he would not be part of the race to the checkers. With oil on the track from a blown engine by Bobby Labonte, Brad Keselowski ran into the back of Busch and sent him spinning. Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose battled to the checkers with Ambrose scoring his second Cup win.

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

NASCAR America: Chris Buescher, Matt DiBenedetto run well in the pack

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While most eyes are focused at the front of the pack, some incredible performances often go unnoticed outside of the top 10. On Tuesday, NASCAR America showcased three drivers who had outstanding runs in the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Sonoma Raceway that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

“I’m going to go with Chris Buescher and his 12th-place finish,” Landon Cassill said. “I thought he had a solid day. You know, his teammate is AJ Allmendinger … is an animal at these road courses, but Chris just put together a solid day and he’s a good driver at Sonoma. I worked with Chris when we both drove for Front Row Motorsports and I can tell you that I’m pretty sure he still holds the record in the Ford simulator for the fastest lap at Sonoma. … I used to use his car as a Chase car in the sim to help my laps at Sonoma.”

That was Buescher’s third consecutive top 20 on a road course and it comes on the heels of an 11th last August at Watkins Glen International.

Matt DiBenedetto has never been known as a road racer. In six previous starts on this type of track, he had never cracked the top 20 – until Sunday’s race at Sonoma when he scored a career-best 17th.

“My ‘Running with the Pack’ guy’s also not a road course guy: Matt DiBenedetto finished 17th at Sonoma after starting 30th and that is the ninth time in 16 races that he’s outperformed where he qualified,” Nate Ryan said. “I think that’s significant, I think that tells you how good GoFas Racing is, making the most of what they have.”

Dale Jarrett went a little deeper in the field.

“I’m going with somebody, who his team has only ran their seventh race at Sonoma and that’s our colleague Parker Kligerman. … He’s an outstanding road racer. He has that background, but he’s a good racer everywhere he goes. He ran inside the top 20 most of the day.”

For more, watch the video above.

NASCAR America Scan All: Parker Kligerman makes the most of opportunities

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In a special edition of Scan All, Parker Kligerman takes the fan through a guided tour of his 2018 season.

“(I am) hoping to give you guys a better idea of what a small team like mine goes through on a weekly basis,” Kligerman said. “We focus on quality over quantity.”

While NASCAR America’s Kligerman has not had many chances to race this year, he has made the most of those opportunities. An accident at Daytona International Speedway in the Camping World Truck Series season opener kept him from contending for a good finish, but he almost cracked the top 10 at Atlanta Motor Speedway the following week – finishing 11th in the 32-truck field.

“Our goal: we show up, we feel like it’s a race we can win.”

“You’re doing a great job man” spotter Earl Barban told him during the opening laps at Dover International Speedway as Kligerman marched toward the lead. “Move that corner back a little bit, your drive off is a lot better than most.”

The advice was productive. Kligerman went on to lead 11 laps in the Jegs 200. He was still running with the leaders in second when the No. 75 broke an oil cooler and retired on lap 86.

He went to Charlotte Motor Speedway two races later and finished seventh – his first and so far only top 10 in Trucks this year.

Strong runs in the Truck series opened up another opportunity to race the Coke 600 in the Gaunt Brothers’ No. 96.

Battling brake issues and after a trip into the wall, he brought the car home 27th in his first Cup series race since 2014.

“It wasn’t pretty, but we made it to the end,” Kligerman said over the radio after the race.

Kligerman earned a second Cup race in the No. 96 this weekend at Sonoma Raceway.

For more, watch the video above.

NASCAR America: Sport needs more races like Iowa Speedway

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With the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series taking Father’s Day weekend off, the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series took center stage at Iowa Speedway and put on a pair of shows that had drivers and NASCAR America analysts asking for more.

Late-race battles for the lead with Noah Gragson‘s unsuccessful last-lap pass on Brett Moffitt and Christopher Bell’s near miss at closing the distance on Justin Allgaier is something that has been missing from the Cup series for much of the season, and the action had a lot to do with the configuration of the speedway.

“That’s why this racetrack has become so popular,” Parker Kligerman said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “Because it’s allowing this multi-groove racing like we’ve seen. And it’s got everyone discussing – kind of like Brad Keselowski was saying – why don’t we bring the Cup cars there? It would be awesome.”

Iowa Speedway was built with inspiration from Richmond Raceway and both tracks have characteristics of a short track and a speedway. It is something that Jeff Burton believes the sports needs to embrace.

“There is no doubt that this style of racetrack is what we need more of,” Burton said. “The sport needs more of it. And all this effort we’ve been talking about with the All-Star package. All that is an effort to try and create races like we saw on Saturday and on Sunday.”

For more, watch the video above.