8th Running of the New Hampshire 301 Sprint Cup Series Race

Last Year’s Race: Kyle Busch’s mid-season march toward a post-season berth continued with his third victory in four races.  The win lifted him from thirty-fifth to thirty-third in the point standings with seven races left in the regular season that would ultimately lead to a championship for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.  Busch led ninety-five laps, including the final forty-nine trips around the one-mile oval.  The race ended under caution for Alex Bowman’s single-car accident that took place in Turn-2 after Busch took the white flag.  Brad Keselowski led a race-high 101 laps and finished second with Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano (Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate) and Dale Earnhardt Junior completing the top five … Pole sitter Carl Edwards led just nineteen laps and finished seventh … Busch was the ninth different winner in the last nine summertime races contested in New Hampshire dating back to 2007 … Denny Hamlin was going for a weekend sweep after winning the X-FINITY Series race twenty-four hours earlier but finished fourteenth on the Cup side.  He was one of twenty drivers running on the lead lap with Busch at the checkered flag.

Track Position at Loudon: Twenty-three of the forty-two Sprint Cup Series races run have been won from a starting position of tenth or better.  Ten winners have come from a starting position of twentieth or worse … Winning From the Pole in Loudon: Just five of forty-two Cup Series races have been won from the pole position, most recently by Ryan Newman in 2011 … Track Qualifying Record: Keselowski (Ford) … 140.598 miles per hour … 27.090 seconds … September 2014 … Track Record, Race Speed: Jeff Burton (Ford) … 117.134 mph … 2 hours, 42 minutes, 35 seconds … July 1997.

Practice Schedule: Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:55 p.m. (ET) … Saturday from 10 to 10:55 a.m. and 12:30 to 1:25 p.m. (ET) … Qualifying: TODAY at 4:45 p.m. (ET).

21st Running of the Auto Lotto 200 X-FINITY Series Race

Last Year’s Race: On paper, it looked like Denny Hamlin had an easy time of it in winning at New Hampshire – leading 145 of the two hundred laps to post his second X-FINITY Series win of the season.  But on the track, it was quite a different story.  Hamlin and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch leaned hard on each other twice during the course of the afternoon while racing for position.  In one instance, contact early in the race sent Hamlin – the pole sitter – spinning and forced him to restart at the rear of the field.  But the Number-20 Toyota was strong, Hamlin charged back toward the front and took the lead at Lap-43.  With less than thirty laps to go, Austin Dillon jumped past Hamlin on the day’s final restart and led briefly.  But Hamlin pulled alongside Dillon a short time later and nudged him out of the way to reclaim the lead and drive off to his thirteenth career victory.  Dillon was critical of Hamlin’s bump-and-run tactic after the race as he had to settle for second place.  Brad Keselowski finished third and Busch was fourth, giving Sprint Cup Series drivers the top four finishing positions.  Rookie Daniel Suarez was fifth, the highest-placed X-FINITY Series regular.

Friday’s Practice Schedule: From 1 to 1:55 p.m. and 3 to 4:25 p.m. (ET) … Qualifying: Saturday at 11:15 a.m. (ET).

6th Running Of The Quaker State 400 Sprint Cup Series Race At Sparta, Kentucky

Recap of Last Year’s Race: Kyle Busch’s climb toward the top thirty – and a berth in the Chase – continued with his second win of the season in just seven starts. Busch led a race-high 163 laps, including the final twenty trips around the mile-and-a-half oval. The victory lifted him from thirty-seventh to thirty-fifth in the standings with eight races left in the regular season. After missing the first eleven races of the year while recovering from injuries suffered in February at Daytona, Busch’s average finish in seven starts was seventeenth. He led a parade of Joe Gibbs Racing cars into the top five at Kentucky. Denny Hamlin finished third, Carl Edwards fourth and Matt Kenseth fifth. Team Penske’s Joey Logano ran second, one-point-five seconds behind Busch at the checkered flag .With an eighth-place finish, regular-season points leader Kevin Harvick became the first driver to officially clinch his spot on the 2015 Chase Grid.

Track Position in Kentucky: Winners of the first five Sprint Cup Series races run have started first and ninth (Busch), first and eighth (Brad Keselowski), and sixteenth (Kenseth) …

Track Qualifying Record: Keselowski (Ford) … 188.791 miles per hour … 28.603 seconds … June 2014

Track Record, Race Speed: Keselowski (Dodge) … 145.607 mph … 2 hours, 45 minutes, 2 seconds … June 2012

Friday’s Practice Schedule: From 11 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. and 1:30 to 2:50 p.m. (ET) … Qualifying: TODAY at 6:45 p.m. (ET).

Tony Stewart Survives Fierce Last-Lap Duel With Denny Hamlin To Take The Toyota/Save Mart 350

Tony Stewart survived a fierce last-lap duel with former teammate Denny Hamlin, nosing past Hamlin under braking in the next-to-last corner of the final lap at Sonoma Raceway and driving on to his forty-ninth career Cup Series victory. It ended an eighty-four-race winless streak for the three-time champion that dated back to June 2013.

Before Sunday, Stewart’s last trip to Victory Lane had come at Dover International Speedway. He took the white flag yesterday with Hamlin in hot pursuit and briefly lost the lead to his Joe Gibbs Racing rival. But Stewart calmly measured his opponent as they navigated the final turns on the Northern California road course and made his winning pass with the checkered flag in sight. The margin of victory was six-tenths of a second.

Joey Logano, pole sitter Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Junior completed the top five.

Stewart sat out the early weeks of the season while recovering from back surgery after he was injured in late January while driving dune buggies on vacation in California. Despite missing eight races, he’s eligible for the post-season Chase provided he’s among the top thirty in the standings at the end of the regular season.

With Sunday’s victory, Stewart’s nine points shy of that with 10 races left before the sixteen-driver title field is set … Stewart started tenth and led the final twenty-two laps of Sunday’s race in his Number-14 Chevrolet. Runner-up Hamlin led a race-high thirty-three laps around the two-mile natural road course …Sunday’s race included twelve lead changes among eight drivers. There were four cautions for ten laps.

Next Stop, Charlotte Motor Speedway

Next stop, Charlotte Motor Speedway for Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600, which marks the halfway point of the 2016 regular season. Martin Truex Junior will start the four hundred-lap marathon from the pole position after topping Thursday night’s qualifying session with a lap of 192.328 miles per hour in the Number-78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota. He’ll share the front row with Joey Logano, who was second-quick at 192.007 miles per hour. Ricky Stenhouse Junior qualified third with Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski – Logano’s Team Penske teammate – rounding out the top five. Defending race winner Carl Edwards will start ninth. It’s Truex’s ninth career pole and second this season. He qualified Number-1 at Kansas Speedway earlier this month and finished fourteenth in the Go Bowling 400.

The pole sitter has won the “Six Hundred” just twice over the last seventeen years, both times by Jimmie Johnson – in 2004 and 2014 … Earlier on Thursday, Kurt Busch led opening practice with Johnson, Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson filling positions two through five. Kyle Busch had the best average speed over ten consecutive laps at 185.465 miles per hour … Logano is hoping to complete a sweep of the May events in Charlotte. He won last weekend’s All-Star Race.

The last driver to win both in the same season is Kurt Busch in 2010.

NASCAR X-Finity Head To Charlotte For The Hisense 300

The NASCAR X-Finity Series  also is running in Charlotte this weekend, with Saturday’s Hisense 300. Elliott Sadler of Junior Motorsports leads the standings by three points over Daniel Suarez. Teams got two practice sessions on Thursday with Ty Dillon posting the fastest overall speed, 181.342 miles per hour in the Number-3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Rookie Erik Jones, Suarez, Denny Hamlin and Austin Dillon – Ty’s older brother – completed the top five. Suarez had the best average speed over ten consecutive laps at 175.708 miles per hour.

Austin Dillon swept both races at C-M-S last season and goes for three in a row on Saturday. The last driver to do that in Charlotte is Mark Martin in 1995 and 1996 … There is no on-track activity at C-M-S on Friday. The schedule resumes Saturday with X-FINITY Series qualifying at 11:15 a.m. (ET) and a pair of Sprint Cup Series practice sessions … THE CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES … is idle this weekend and will return to action Friday night, June 10th, in Fort Worth, Texas. Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – will have live coverage of the Rattlesnake 400, beginning at 8:30 p.m. (ET).

Next Stop Talladega Superspeedway

Next stop Talladega Superspeedway for Sunday’s GEICO 500, tenth race of the 2016 Sprint Cup Series. The last two races have been run on short tracks in Bristol, Tennessee, and Richmond, Virginia – with Carl Edwards winning both to climb to the top of the regular-season point standings. The last driver to win three straight Sprint Cup races was Joey Logano, who swept the Contender Round of last year’s post-season Chase with victories at Kansas Speedway, Charlotte and Talladega … Edwards finished fifth and thirty-second in last year’s two trips to the Alabama oval … Joe Gibbs Racing has four wins at Talladega, most recently in 2014 with Denny Hamlin.

Busch Goes Truckin’ At Martinsville

Defending Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch will make the first of four scheduled Camping World Truck Series starts this season on Saturday afternoon in the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville Speedway. Busch’s last race in the Truck Series was last fall in New Hampshire, where he finished eleventh. His most recent start at Martinsville came in October 2011, when he ran second to Denny Hamlin – who was also driving a Busch-owned entry.

In addition to this coming Saturday’s race on the Virginia half-mile, Busch will drive the Number-18 Toyota in Charlotte on May 20th, Kentucky on July 7th and Bristol on August 17th personally won a Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway, Kyle Busch Motorsports has four victories there … two apiece for Hamlin and Darrell Wallace Junior.

Jimmie Johnson Takes Auto Club 400

Jimmie Johnson charged past Kevin Harvick coming out of an overtime restart and pulled away from the field Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, becoming the first repeat winner of the 2016 season. Johnson’s margin of victory was three-quarters of a second over Harvick, giving Chevrolet a sweep of the top two spots. Denny Hamlin came home third with Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Junior completing the top five. Johnson started nineteenth and led just twenty-five laps, including the final two trips around the two- mile Southern California oval. Sunday’s race was extended five laps beyond its scheduled distance due to a late caution brought about when Kyle Busch shredded a right-front tire. That was the last thing Harvick wanted to see.

He had led nearly three-quarters of the laps run to that point and seemed well on his way to a second straight victory on NASCAR’s three-race swing through the western United States, having won last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. Instead, Harvick settled for second place behind Johnson – who notched his seventy-seventh Cup Series win and sixth at Auto Club Speedway.

For Harvick, all was not lost as he claimed sole possession of the points lead. He entered the weekend tied for first place with Busch and exits with an eleven-point advantage over Johnson, who advances from third to second.

Busch finished twenty-fifth on Sunday, the first time in five races this year that he’s been outside the top five, and slipped to fifth in the regular-season standings … Sunday’s race included twenty-six lead changes among eight drivers. There were six cautions for thirty-three laps.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400

Next Stop… Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Kobalt 400 the third race of the 2016 Sprint Cup Series and the second weekend for NASCAR’s new low-downforce rules package. Teams had a pair of practice sessions on Thursday with Jimmie Johnson posting the fastest overall speed of 192.981 miles per hour. Aric Almirola, Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon and Matt Kenseth completed the top five. Joey Logano had the fastest average speed over ten consecutive laps, 187.604 miles per hour.

Kevin Harvick, the defending race winner, failed to crack the top ten in either of Thursday’s two sessions. In last year’sKobalt 400, Harvick started eighteenth and finished first. Jeff Gordon started first and finished eighteenth.

Hamlin hit the wall during Thursday afternoon’s test session. His Number-11 Joe Gibbs Racing team will use a back-up Toyota this weekend. Teams will get ninety more minutes of practice today before qualifying late this afternoon. Kasey Kahne has the track record for poles with three, one ahead of Kyle Busch – who’s the only Cup Series driver to win a race in Vegas after starting from the pole position. That victory came in 2009.

Johnson leads all drivers with four wins at L-V-M-S, including a run of three straight from 2005 through 2007.

He’s coming off his seventy-sixth career win last weekend in Atlanta, which tied the late Dale Earnhardt for seventh place on NASCAR’s all-time list. The last driver with back-to-back wins in the Sprint Cup Series is Logano, who put three victories in a row together during last year’s post-season Chase.


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