March 23 in NASCAR History: The Kyle and Kyle Show at Auto Club Speedway

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If your name was Kyle, you had a good weekend in Fontana, California, in March 2014.

On Saturday, March 22, Kyle Larson got it rolling by pulling off an upset win in the Xfinity Series race over Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.

Larson passed Busch for the lead with five laps to go and then held off four straight dive-bomb pass attempts by Harvick in Turn 4 to take the checkered flag.

On Sunday, March, 23, it came down to Larson and Busch.

In an overtime finish, Busch and Larson navigated their way through a wild restart and passed the Stewart-Haas Racing teammates of Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart on the last lap.

Kyle Busch held off Larson’s pass attempt in the final turn and cruised to his second straight Auto Club 400 win.

A rookie that year, the runner-up finish was Larson’s first career top five. He wouldn’t earn his first win until 2016 at Auto Club’s sister track, Michigan International Speedway.

Also on this date:

1969: Bobby Allison won the Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway. He led the final eight laps after David Pearson dropped out with an expired engine. Allison won over LeeRoy Yarbrough by four laps.

1975: Richard Petty beat Buddy Baker in a one-lap dash to win at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was Petty’s third win in six races to start the season and he’d win the following race at North Wilkesboro for his third consecutive victory. Dale Earnhardt Jr. revisited the race on his old show “Back in the Day.”

2003: In a two-lap shootout, Dennis Setzer beat Jon Wood in a Truck Series race at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, California. It would be the final visit to the half-mile track by the Truck Series after holding nine races there.

Top 5 moments at Homestead-Miami Speedway

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Today the NASCAR Cup Series was supposed to run a race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

But like six other Cup races, it has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To get you by today and the remaining Sunday’s without a Cup racing, each weekend we’re going to bring you a look at five memorable moments from each track.

So let’s get started with a look at some memorable moments at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 1. Smoke clinches third Cup title (2011)

When the 2011 postseason began, two-time champion Tony Stewart had no wins and wasn’t expecting to contribute much to the 10-race spectacle.

Then he became the spectacle.

Stewart reeled off five wins in 10 races, including the season finale in Miami, where he beat Carl Edwards and clinched the title in a tiebreaker over Edwards.

Stewart remains the only Cup driver to earn their first win of the season in the playoffs and go on to win the championship.

 2. Jimmie Johnson earns seventh championship (2016)

Jimmie Johnson’s record-tying seventh Cup Series title did not come easily.

After starting the season finale from the rear of the field due to a pre-race inspection failure, the Hendrick Motorsports driver did not lead until an overtime restart to finish the race.

He led the final three laps and solidified his name as one of the greatest to drive a stock car, alongside Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. Johnson’s seven titles are spread out over 11 years and multiple playoff formats.

3) Joey Logano wins the “damn war” (2018)

Three weeks before the season finale, last-lap contact between Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano resulted in a win for Logano at Martinsville Speedway.

A displeased Truex declared afterward that Logano “may have won the battle but he ain’t winning the damn war”

When the sun set on the season in Miami, Logano proved Truex wrong. Logano passed him for the lead with 12 laps to go, navigating around Truex’s No. 78 Toyota on the outside in commanding fashion.

Logano cruised to the win and his first Cup title.

4) Kevin Harvick kicks off the elimination era with championship (2014)

The 2014 Cup title came down to a three-lap shootout, with Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman leading the way.

Newman entered the race having not won any of the previous 35 races. But he wouldn’t get to break NASCAR’s brand new elimination format designed to emphasize wins (Matt Crafton would do that in 2019).

Instead, Harvick held off Newman in the shootout to win the race and his first Cup title.

5) Kurt Busch loses tire mid-race, bounces back to win championship (2004)

The playoff era of NASCAR got off to an interesting start thanks to Kurt Busch.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver entered the season finale with an 18-pointy advantage over Jimmie Johnson, who had won four times in the previous five races.

Busch’s championship hopes almost came apart on Lap 250. As Busch attempted to enter pit road, the right-front tire came off his No. 97 Ford and Busch barely avoided hitting the pit wall.  Busch made it to pit road and the tire rolled down the track, creating a caution.

Luckily, he was able to stay on the lead lap. While teammate Greg Biffle won the race and Johnson finished second, Busch placed fifth and clinched his first championship with an eight-point advantage over Johnson.

Tony Stewart coming back to run Indy Xfinity race

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Hall of Famer Tony Stewart will make his first NASCAR start since 2016 when he competes in the July 4 Xfinity race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Stewart-Haas Racing announced Wednesday morning.

“Everyone knows what Indy means to me, so I can’t think of a better place to race on Fourth of July weekend,” said Stewart, who grew up 45 minutes from Indianapolis, in a statement. “It’s going to be cool making history by turning left and right in a stock car at the Brickyard, and the racing will be full of action and contact. Any time you can drive any racecar at the speedway is special, and you know I’m going for the win. The date is already circled on my calendar.”

The Xfinity race at Indy will be broadcast on NBC.

This will be the first time the Xfinity Series races on Indianapolis’ 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course.

The 62-lap race will mark the first Xfinity start for Stewart since 2013 and 95th series race in his career.

Stewart made 18 Brickyard 400 starts in Cup, winning twice (2005 and ’07). He also has competed in five Indianapolis 500s and four IROC races at the historic track.

Stewart has eight career Cup road course wins: five at Watkins Glen International and three at Sonoma Raceway.

Stewart’s most recent road course outing came in a demonstration run last October at Circuit of the Americas when he took a Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang outfitted with a passenger seat and drove Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen around the track.

“It was a lot of fun for me to get in one of our Ford Mustangs and do that exhibition run at COTA,” Stewart said in a statement. “It kind of got my juices flowing to get back in a car again, and what better place to come back than Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

Details about Stewart’s car number and sponsor will be announced later.

“People sometimes say, ‘We miss seeing you behind the wheel,” and I’m like, ‘Well, you’ve just got to go to different places now,’ ” Stewart said in a statement. “I’m racing 100 times a year in a sprint car, but seeing some of these road-course races – especially the Roval at Charlotte – piqued my interest a bit, and running the stock car at COTA, it kind of fed my hunger. All of it has led me back to the place I’ve always called home – Indy.”

Jimmie Johnson never missed a lap in 26 Cup starts at Auto Club Speedway

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Jimmie Johnson was really good at Auto Club Speedway.

In fact, he was the best.

It would be easy to just cite his record six wins in 26 starts on the 2-mile track. But here’s another number.

5,906.

That’s the amount of laps Johnson successfully completed in all 26 of his starts on his home rack, from his first Cup win there in 2002 to the seventh-place finish Sunday in his final Auto Club 400.

That’s every lap. Johnson never failed to finish on the lead lap at Auto Club Speedway

It’s far and away a Cup Series record.

According to Racing Insights, the closest a Cup driver has come to that is Tony Stewart.

Like Johnson, he did it at his home track. From 1999-2016, Stewart made 18 starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He completed all 2,895 laps he was eligible for.

The next four drivers in this category all earned their numbers at the same track: Watkins Glen International.

Martin Truex Jr: 14 starts/1,262 laps
Darrell Waltrip: 14 starts/1,221 laps
Carl Edwards: 12 starts/1,084 laps
A.J. Allmendinger: 10 starts/902 laps

President Trump, Cup drivers offer prayers, support for Ryan Newman

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Concern about Ryan Newman’s condition flooded in Monday night from around the globe and the White House about the driver’s condition after his last-lap wreck in the Daytona 500.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter almost immediately after his No. 6 Ford hit the wall at 7:55 p.m. ET while battling for the lead with race winner Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney.

Newman was transported from Daytona International Speedway to nearby Halifax Medical Center, where he was in serious condition with injuries that were described by his team as not life threatening.

President Trump, who gave the command to start engines Sunday for the 62nd running of the Daytona 500 before the race was postponed a day after 20 laps because of rain, tweeted just after NASCAR provided its first update on Newman’s condition at 10:03 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of Newman’s hometown of South Bend, Indiana, also tweeted his prayers.

 

The official word on Newman’s injuries brought tweets of relief from several drivers, including Brad Keselowski, Matt DiBenedetto, Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace and Kyle Busch.

 

It was a change in tone from the immediate aftermath of the crash when many drivers tweeted their prayers and thoughts for Newman.

Among the first to express concern was Hamlin, who began his Fox interview in victory lane by mentioning Newman and later clarified he was unaware of the severity of his injuries during his initial burnout celebration.