Fans headed to southern Virginia for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series races at Martinsville Speedway will see a post-season twin bill as the 2016 schedule enters its final month. Six title contenders remain in the inaugural Truck Series Chase heading into Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200 led by top-seeded rookie William Byron. Also still on The Chase Grid are Christopher Bell, Timothy Peters, Ben Kennedy, Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton … In the Sprint Cup Series, the title field is down to eight for the final short-track race of the 2016 season, Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500. Kyle Busch, the Number-1 seed in this year’s Chase, is looking for a season sweep on the Virginia half-mile after winning the year’s first stop there in early April. Denny Hamlin’s the last driver to win both races in a single season, doing so in 2010.
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The 2016 season marks the first time the “Chase” format that’s been used by the Sprint Cup Series the past two seasons will also be implemented in the Camping World Truck Series and there are just three races remaining before the eight-driver field is set, including Saturday’s Careers for Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway. If the post-season began today, The Chase Grid would include rookies Christopher Bell and William Byron, who are teammates at Kyle Busch Motorsports … two-time champion Matt Crafton, John Hunter Nemechek, Johnny Sauter, Ben Kennedy, Daniel Hemric and Timothy Peters, who leads rookie Cole Custer by twenty-nine points for what would be the final “playoff” spot. After Saturday’s stop at M-I-S, remaining races in the regular season will be run at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Chicagoland Speedway. The Chase will open September 24th in Loudon, New Hampshire.
The 2016 season marks the first time the “Chase” format that’s been used by the Sprint Cup Series the past two seasons will also be implemented in the Camping World Truck Series, with the final month of the regular season set to open next week in Bristol, Tennessee. Eight drivers will qualify and if the post-season began today, the field would include rookies Christopher Bell and William Byron, who are teammates at Kyle Busch Motorsports … two-time champion Matt Crafton, John Hunter Nemechek, Johnny Sauter, Timothy Peters and Daniel Hemric. The battle for the eighth and final “playoff” spot is fierce with four drivers within five points of each other: Cameron Hayley, Ben Kennedy, Tyler Reddick and rookie Cole Custer. After Bristol on August 17th, remaining races in the regular season will be run at Michigan International Speedway, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Chicagoland Speedway. The Chase will open September 24th in Loudon, New Hampshire.
The Camping World Truck Series will stage its first “stand-alone” race of the year, Saturday night’s Drivin’ for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois. The race kicks off the second half of the regular season. It’s the first year for the elimination-style Chase format to be used in the Truck Series.
There are presently thirteen drivers in the mix for eight berths in the seven-race title series that opens September 24th in Loudon, New Hampshire. Rookie William Byron, two-time series champion Matt Crafton, John Hunter Nemechek and Johnny Sauter have won races this season. Ben Kennedy leads Spencer Gallagher by a mere three points in the battle for the final “playoff” spot with eight races left in the regular season. Prospects are good for those two to take that battle to the track come Saturday night since last year – with Gallagher finishing second and Kennedy seventh.
A fire broke out early last Monday morning damaging about forty percent of the ThorSport Racing Shop in Sandusky, Ohio. The shop houses four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams including two-time series champion and current series point leader Matt Crafton, Cameron Hayley, Rico Abreu, and Ben Rhodes.
According to ThorSport Racing Tea Manager David Pepper, the portion of the building destroyed by the fire housed the company’s car fabrication shop, however the entire 100,000 square foot facility is currently unusable. For all that was lost, some items were rescued.
Firemen helped push race trucks out, allowing the team to salvage 15 of the 18 race trucks in its fleet, and assisted team members getting the haulers out of the building so the teams would be able to compete this past weekend at Iowa Speedway. Competitors and local Sandusky residents have offered assistance, everything from food for the teams, parts and pieces for the trucks and even bringing equipment to the tracks for the team to use.
Despite preparing their race trucks in a nearby Kroger grocery store parking lot in the shadow of the damaged race shop, the team placed three trucks in the top ten at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night and all four trucks in the top twenty.
Despite being currently homeless, the team is focusing on continuing to race the entire schedule, including the upcoming race at Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday.
Next stop Iowa Speedway for an X-FINITY/Camping World Truck Series doubleheader. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is idle this weekend and will return to action June 26 th in Sonoma, California … so the spotlight will shine brightly this weekend on the seven-eighths- mile Newton oval. First up is Saturday night’s Speediatrics 200 Benefitting the NASCAR Foundation as the Truck Series hits the halfway mark of its regular season. This year marks the first time the elimination-style “Chase” format that’s been used by the Sprint Cup Series the past two seasons will also be implemented in the Truck Series. Eight drivers will qualify and if the post-season began today, the field would consist of rookie William Byron, two-time champion Matt Crafton, JohnHunter Nemechek, Johnny Sauter, Timothy Peters, Daniel Hemric, Tyler Reddick and Spencer Gallagher –who leads Ben Kennedy by just three points in the battle for the final “playoff” spot. The Chase will openSeptember 24th in New Hampshire.
The X-FINITY Series will also stage its first post-season “playoffs” in 2016. Sunday afternoon’s American Ethanol E-15 250 Presented by Enogen opens the second half of the regular season. There are currently sixteen drivers in the mix for twelve spots on the Chase Grid – led by points leader Daniel Suarez, who’s coming off his first career win last weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Ryan Sieg leads Ross Chastain by sixteen points in the battle for the final provisional post-season spot … The X-FINITY Series Chase will open September 24th at Kentucky Speedway.
Last Year’s Race: Erik Jones ended the night the same way he started it – at the front of the field. The then-19-year- old Kyle Busch Motorsports rookie led a race-high 112 laps, including the final forty-four trips around Iowa Speedway’s seven-eighths- mile oval. Jones’ margin of victory over runner-up – and fellow rookie – Brandon Jones was nearly six full seconds. Tyler Reddick finished third with points leader Matt Crafton fourth. Christopher Bell, one of Jones’ K-B- M teammates, came home fifth in his first Truck Series start. With the win, Jones became the first driver with back-to- back victories on the Newton oval since the track first hosted the Truck Series in 2009. He and Timothy Peters are now tied at the top of the track’s win list with two apiece. Peters rallied from his Number-16 starting spot to finish sixth, helping Toyota grab four of the top six finishing positions.
Crafton’s fourth-place finish kept him atop the series standings in his bid for a third straight title … The race included six lead changes among five drivers: Crafton, rookie Cameron Hayley, Johnny Sauter, Erik and Brandon Jones … There were six cautions for thirty-eight laps.
Track Position in Iowa: All nine of the Camping World Truck Series races run have been won from a starting position of eleventh or better … Winning From the Pole at Iowa: Four of nine races have been won from the pole, most recently by Jones in 2015 … Track Qualifying Record: German (air-MONN) Quiroga Junior (Toyota) … 138.620 miles per hour … 22.724 seconds … July 2013 … Track Record, Race Speed: Jones (Toyota) … 110.429 mph … 1 hour, 35 minutes, 5 seconds … July 2014 … Friday’s Practice Schedule: From 2 to 3:25 p.m. and 5 to 5:55 p.m. … Qualifying: Saturday at 3:45 p.m.
Marcus Richmond will take over the duties of crew chief on Cole Custer’s Number-00 Junior Motorsports Chevrolet for the remainder of the 2016 Camping World Truck Series, beginning with Saturday night’s race at Iowa Speedway. He replaces Joe Shear Junior, who resigned earlier this month. Richmond has 205 starts as a crew chief in the Truck Series with nine victories. He helped steer Ty Dillon to a runner-up finish in the 2013 championship standings, behind only Matt Crafton. Richmond has most recently served as a crew chief at G-M-S Racing. Custer is currently fourteenth in the standings after seven races, twenty-three points shy of a Chase berth with nine races remaining in the regular season. His best finish this year is fifth place last month at Dover International Speedway.
Matt Kenseth held off a late charge from Kyle Larson on Sunday afternoon at Dover International Speedway to claim his first victory of the season, capping Toyota’s weekend sweep of all three races at “The Monster Mile.” Matt Crafton won Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race and Erik Jones followed with a victory in Saturday’s X-FINITY Series event. Kenseth led the final forty-seven laps on Sunday, nipping Larson at the checkered flag by eighteen one-hundredths of a second. It’s his thirty-seventh career victory and third at Dover. Kenseth’s last Cup Series win had come in New Hampshire last fall, twenty races ago. He started tenth on Sunday and led briefly during the first half of the race before taking control down the stretch.
The race was red-flagged for more than eleven minutes after Jimmie Johnson’s transmission failure triggered an eighteen-car accident along the frontstretch less than fifty laps from the finish. Johnson, at the front of the field on a restart, could not get his car into third gear and up to speed. Martin Truex Junior drove into the rear of Johnson’s Chevrolet and the contact sent cars spinning across the track. Attrition left just fourteen cars running on the lead lap at the finish, a season low in the Sprint Cup Series. Larson led eighty-five laps en route to his second-place finish.
Rookie Chase Elliott ran third with Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch completing the top five. Pole sitter Kevin Harvick led a race-high 117 laps, all in the first half, before fading to fifteenth place – enough to keep him atop the regular-season point standings.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, idle since April 2nd night’s Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway. There are thirty-one drivers on the preliminary entry list led by defending race winner Matt Crafton … Just three races have been run to date in 2016 – won by Kyle Busch, John Hunter Nemechek and Johnny Sauter.
Nemechek leads the standings by three points over Parker Kligerman with Timothy Peters, Tyler Young and Cameron Hayley completing the top five. Ben Rhodes, who drives the Number-41 Toyota for ThorSport Racing, leads the rookie standings by four points over William Byron with Rico Abreu (A-brew) third, thirteen points off the pace, swings back into action this week with Friday
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