Brad Keselowski takes the Quacker State 400

Brad Keselowski stretched his final fuel load right to the finish line to notch his third career Kentucky win and second straight victory of the season. The closing laps saw several teams try to stretch the final fuel run hoping for a caution, only to be forced to pit. Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. dominated the race leading a combined 174 laps but were among those who needed to pit for fuel finishing ninth and tenth respectively. Carl Edwards was also working fuel strategy and was able to run down Keselowski in the closing laps, but was not able to pass him and was forced to settle for second. Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart rounded out the top-five. The newly repaved and reconfigured surface of Kentucky Speedway proved to be a challenge to many drivers over the course of the evening. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the first driver to struggle with the new lower downforce aero package at the speedway, wrecking on lap nine. He was not the last, as a total of nine drivers would eventually be involved in accidents that brought about a track-record tying eleven cautions for fifty-three laps on the evening. Jimmie Johnson, who crashed his primary car in practice, saw a repeat performance in the race, spinning in turn-4 and making contact with the wall.

Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott also were involved in accidents throughout the evening. By virtue of his early departure, Ryan Blaney has now dropped out of the top-sixteen in Championship points which will place a great deal of pressure on the rookie driver in the final eight races of the regular season. Jeffery Earnhardt, who finished twenty-eighth, was the highest finishing rookie, on a night when many drivers struggled with the new track conditions.

Stewart’s Sonoma Victory Bumps Cup Series Win List To Eleven

With Tony Stewart’s victory Sunday in Sonoma, California, the list of Sprint Cup Series winners this season grows to eleven. If there are six more drivers who reach Victory Lane over the final ten regular-season races, then there’ll be one driver with a victory to his credit that will not get a spot on the 2016 Chase Grid – which will include only the sixteen top eligible drivers based primarily on race wins.

The lone remaining driver who won last year but is still without a victory in 2016 is Dale Earnhardt Junior … who will arrive at Daytona International Speedway later this week as defending winner of Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola.

Stewart’s the last driver to win back-to-back July races there, in 2005 and 2006.

Kyle Busch Takes The Go Bowling 400

Kyle Busch passed Tony Stewart for his final lead of the night thirty-seven laps from the finish and kept the Number-18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in front the rest of the way Saturday at Kansas Speedway, notching his third victory of the season. Busch started sixth, took his first lead just twenty-six laps into the race and beat runner-up Kevin Harvick to the checkered flag by one-point- one seconds. It’s Busch’s thirty- seventh career Cup Series victory but his first in seventeen starts on the Kansas City oval. Kurt Busch finished third with Matt Kenseth – one of Kyle Busch’s J-G- R teammates – grabbing fourth place.

Rookie Ryan Blaney completed the top five. Pole sitter Martin Truex Junior led a race-high 172 laps and seemed headed for his first victory of the season. But with less than sixty laps remaining, Truex was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel on his Number-78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota. After returning to the track, Truex could do no better than fourteenth in the final running order.

Harvick’s second-place finish was enough to keep him atop the regular-season standings, though his lead over Busch has shrunk to four points … Through the first eleven races of the season, there have been six race winners: Busch, with a series-leading three victories … Harvick, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin … There were three drivers in the field who consider Kansas Speedway their “home track” and none cracked the top ten Saturday night. Edwards (Columbia, Missouri) finished eleventh, Clint Bowyer (Emporia, Kansas) ran nineteenth and Jamie McMurray (Joplin, Missouri) placed twenty-first.

Stewart Making Progress

Tony Stewart was evaluated by doctors on Wednesday, five weeks after undergoing surgery for a back injury sustained in an all-terrain-vehicle accident. They’re satisfied with the amount of healing that’s taken place and Stewart has been assigned a rehabilitation regimen designed to hasten his recovery. Future evaluations are necessary, however, before a timetable is set for his return to competition.

Ty Dillon is scheduled to make his second start of the season in Stewart’s Number-14 Chevrolet on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway. He finished seventeenth in his debut eleven days ago at Atlant Motor Speedway.

Brian Vickers drove the car in the season-opening Daytona 500 and again last weekend in Las Vegas. According to the Stewart-Haas Racing statement released yesterday, plans for an interim driver have not been finalized as Stewart begins his rehabilitation program.

Vickers For Stewart?

The Associated Press is reporting that Brian Vickers will soon be named to replace the injured Tony Stewart for upcoming events at Daytona International Speedway, including the season-opening Daytona 500 on February 21st. Stewart-Haas Racing would not confirm Wednesday’s report and has a press conference scheduled Friday morning. On January 31st, Stewart suffered a serious back injury in an all-terrain-vehicle accident while vacationing in California. He was driving dune buggies in a group with other NASCAR drivers and was injured as he reportedly landed hard after a jump.

Stewart is now recovering from surgery, which was performed February 3rd. There is no announced timetable for his return. Vickers made just two starts last season with Michael Waltrip Racing before being sidelined by a recurrence of blood clots and must be medically cleared by NASCAR before returning to competition.

Reports Say Stewart To Retire

Stewart-Haas Racing has scheduled a Wednesday afternoon press conference amid widespread reports that three-time Sprint Cup Series champion Tony
Stewart will announce that he is retiring as a driver after the 2016 season. The website Motor Sports- dot-com was the first to report Stewart’s plans, including a scenario in which Clint Bowyer will take the wheel of the Number-14 entry after spending next season at H-Scott Motorsports.

After winning his third NASCAR championship in 2011, Stewart has missed the post-season Chase in three of the last four years and currently carries a sixty-nine-race winless streak dating back to June 2013.


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