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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Team Penske’s Joey Logano stormed into the semifinal round of the 2016 Chase on Sunday with another victory at Talladega Superspeedway. He put the Number-22 Ford in front for good late in the race and kept it there over the final forty-five laps to notch his sixteenth career victory and second this season. Logano also won last fall’s race on the sprawling two-point-six-six-mile Alabama oval and is just the second driver in fourteen years with back-to-back victories in this event. Clint Bowyer is the last one to do it, in 2010 and 2011. Richard Petty Motorsports rookie Brian Scott challenged Logano down the stretch but fell twelve one-hundredths of a second short at the checkered flag. Denny Hamlin finished third to lead a parade of four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers into the Round of Eight. Kurt Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Junior completed the top five. Pole sitter Martin Truex Junior led only two laps before retiring with engine failure midway through the first half of the race. His fortieth-place finish eliminated Truex from the post-season Chase. He’s joined on the sidelines by Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski – who also was knocked out by engine failure on Sunday, after leading a race-high ninety laps. Dillon finished the Round of Twelve tied with Hamlin for the eighth and final transfer spot but lost the tiebreaker, based on a driver’s best finish in the current round of the post-season. Dillon’s was sixth last weekend at Kansas Speedway, Hamlin’s was third on Sunday … Yesterday’s race went four laps past its scheduled distance because of a late caution for Alex Bowman’s spin.
On the track, it’s on to Talladega Superspeedway, as the second half of the post-season Chase kicks off with Sunday’s Hellmann’s 400. The twelve remaining title contenders are traveling along a path that will ultimately lead to a championship for one with 1,576.08 “Miles-2-Miami” left before Ford Championship Weekend in November … and elimination for four others after Sunday’s race. Recent wins by Chevrolet drivers Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick have moved them into the next round. Joey Logano and Austin Dillon are presently tied for the final transfer spot into the Round of Eight that opens October 30th at Martinsville Speedway.
Talladega Superspeedway announced Tuesday that Hellmann’s mayonnaise has been named title sponsor of Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race. The Hellman’s 500 will kick off the second half of the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Hellmann’s is a brand of New Jersey-based Unilever – one of the world’s leading suppliers of food, home- and personal-care products, and refreshments. Hellman’s has been involved in a variety of NASCAR sponsorships since 2004 … This coming weekend will see a pair of elimination races at Talladega as the post-season rolls on. In the Sprint Cup Series, four drivers will be trimmed from title contention after Sunday’s race … The inaugural Truck Series Chase will see its first cuts of the post-season as two drivers will be dropped from title contention after Saturday’s fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola.
For 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, this year’s post-season has been an up-and-down experience. Sunday afternoon at Kansas Speedway, Harvick was “UP” … charging past race leader Carl Edwards on the day’s final restart and driving off to victory – securing one of the eight spots in the next round of the 2016 Chase. Harvick opened the post-season with a twentieth-place finish last month at Chicagoland Speedway, followed by a victory in New Hampshire. But then, he was slowed by finishes of thirty-seventh and thirty-eighth before Sunday’s return to glory. Harvick now joins Jimmie Johnson as the only two drivers with guaranteed spots in the Round of Eight that opens in two weeks at Martinsville Speedway. Sunday’s margin of victory over runner-up Edwards was one-point-one seconds. Joey Logano … gunning for his second straight victory in the track’s fall Cup Series race … ran third. Johnson, last week’s winner in Charlotte, placed fourth. Kyle Busch, this year’s Number-1 seed in the post-season Chase, completed the top five in his bid for a season sweep on the Kansas City oval, having won there in early May … Pole sitter Matt Kenseth led a race-high 116 laps and finished ninth … Sunday’s race included sixteen lead changes among ten drivers … There were eight cautions for thirty-eight laps … With the 2016 Chase now at its halfway point, three different drivers have won the first five races. Harvick and Martin Truex Junior have two victories apiece with one for Johnson.
Next Stop Kansas Speedway as the post-season Chase hits the halfway mark with Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400. The twelve remaining title contenders are traveling along a path that will ultimately lead to a championship for one with 1,976.58 “Miles-2-Miami” left before Ford Championship Weekend in November. Chase drivers have won the fall race at Kansas Speedway eight straight years. The last non-title contender to win there was Greg Biffle in 2007. Among full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers, Jimmie Johnson – the Number-8 seed who’s coming off a victory last weekend in Charlotte – tops Kansas Speedway’s win list with three victories, most recently in May 2015 … Entering this weekend, fourth-seeded Kevin Harvick finds himself last in post-season points. If he doesn’t win one of the next two races or climb in the standings, Harvick’s title hopes will end in nine days. He’s currently eight points below the eighth-place cutoff … Martin Truex Junior, the Number-6 seed entering the post-season, has won two of the four Chase races run so far and will be making his four hundredth Cup Series start on Sunday.
Cole Swindell will serve as the honorary starter for the Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR race in Kansas City, Kansas, this weekend. Cole will wave the green flag to start the race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday (10/16) at 2:30 PM ET. The Hollywood Casino 400 is the fifth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Martinsville Speedway announced Wednesday that it will add an L-E-D lighting system to the historic half-mile oval for the 2017 season. Starting the day after the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 Sprint Cup Series race at the end of this month, installation of permanent lights will begin with a project the track is calling “Light Up Martinsville.” It will be the first major motor sports facility with L-E-D lights. Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell says he expects the project to be completed by the end of this year, adding that there are no plans to stage a night race in the near future. Campbell calls the lighting project an insurance policy to extend race days in the event of inclement weather … And in an effort to give fans more flexibility in purchasing their seats for the October 30th Goody’s Fast Relief 500, Martinsville Speedway has opened its ticket office on Saturdays with special hours running from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (local time). The late-season doubleheader on the Virginia half-mile will include the Camping World Truck Series and feature the opening race in the Round of Eight of the post-season Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The ticket office will also be open on Sunday, October 23rd, in advance of the fall race weekend – with discounted tickets available for children 12 and under.
The 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup rolls on from North Carolina to the Midwest for Sunday afternoon’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. It’s the second race in the Round of Twelve, which opened this past weekend with Jimmie Johnson’s victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway that guaranteed the Hendrick Motorsports driver a spot in the eight-man semifinal round that opens October 30th at Martinsville Speedway … Chase drivers have won the fall race at Kansas Speedway eight straight years and nine of the twelve years the post-season format has been in place. The three non-title contenders who have won there are Joe Nemechek in 2004, Tony Stewart in 2006 and Greg Biffle in 2007 … Among full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers, Johnson – the Number-8 seed – tops Kansas Speedway’s win list with three victories, most recently in May 2015 … Three different manufacturers have won the last three Cup Series races at Kansas: Toyota (Kyle Busch), Ford (Joey Logano) and Chevrolet (Johnson).
Jimmie Johnson returned to familiar ground on Sunday afternoon – Victory Lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He entered the weekend as the track’s all-time leader with seven Cup Series wins. He exits with his eighth career victory on the mile-and-a-half North Carolina oval, punching his ticket into the next round of the post-season Chase. As successful as Johnson has been at C-M-S, his last win there before Sunday came more than two years ago. Johnson got the best of race leader Matt Kenseth on the day’s final restart and drove away to his third win of the season but first since March 20th at Auto Club Speedway, in the fifth race of the year! The six-time champion started eleventh and led a race-high 155 laps in notching his seventy-eighth career victory – beating runner-up Kenseth to the checkered flag by a second-and-a-half. Kasey Kahne finished third, giving Hendrick Motorsports two of the top three spots. Ryan Newman and Kyle Larson completed the top five … Kevin Harvick started from the pole but led just twelve laps before retiring with engine failure late in the first half of the race. Harvick wasn’t the only Chase driver finishing near the bottom of the running order in Charlotte. Denny Hamlin placed thirtieth, also suffering engine failure. Austin Dillon ran thirty-second, rookie Chase Elliott thirty-third and Joey Logano was thirty-sixth in the forty-car field … Kyle Busch, the Number-1 seed in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, started sixth and finished fourth on Sunday. He’s third in the post-season standings, nine points behind leader Johnson.
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