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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Fans headed to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for this weekend’s Sprint Cup-Camping World Truck Series twin bill will be treated to a pair of post-season races as the title “Chase” picks up steam for twenty-four drivers. Martin Truex Junior won the opening race of the Sprint Cup Chase last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway while some familiar faces are at the bottom of the sixteen-driver field with just two weeks left to stave off elimination. Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson and rookie Chris Buescher – all race winners during the regular season – hold the last three spots on The Chase Grid … In the Truck Series, eight drivers are poised to embark on the inaugural post-season Chase – with Kyle Busch Motorsports rookie William Byron the top seed. The title field will be trimmed to six following the third race of the opening round on October 22nd at Talladega Superspeedway.
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 NASCAR X-FINITY SERIES … also competes in “Thunder Valley” with tonight’s Food City 300. Daniel Suarez set the pace in Thursday’s opening practice and the second session was rained out … There was news off the track as Hendrick Motorsports announced that it has signed Camping World Truck Series points leader William Byron to a multi-year agreement. He’ll race full-time in the 2017 X-FINITY Series for Hendrick affiliate Junior Motorsports. Byron is now competing for Kyle Busch Motorsports and leads the Truck Series with five wins heading into the final ten races of the season.
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.
After last week’s races, here are the updated facts for the Iowa Speedway.
► With his victory in Sunday’s X-FINITY Series race, Sam Hornish Junior and the Number-18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota snapped Ford’s three-race winning streak at Iowa Speedway. Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher and Brad Keselowski had won the last three events on the seven-eighths-mile Newton oval.
► It’s Joe Gibbs Racing’s third victory at Iowa, which ties the organization for second place on the track’s win list –matching Roger Penske. Jack Roush leads with five.
► William Byron’s win Saturday night in the Camping World Truck Series race and Hornish’s victory on Sunday afternoon gave Toyota a weekend sweep at Iowa Speedway.
► Byron’s victory extends Toyota’s Truck Series domination at Iowa in recent years. The manufacturer has now won five of the last seven races – two by Timothy Peters, two by Erik Jones and now Byron’s victory 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.
The first- and second-place teams in last week’s season-ending Casino Arizona 100 NASCAR K-and-N Pro Series West race at Phoenix International Raceway have been penalized. During post-race inspection on November 12th, it was discovered that the cover on the oil reservoir on Todd Gilliland’s race-winning Toyota was not properly bolted shut.
Gilliland and car owner Bill McAnally were each docked thirty championship points. Crew chief Seth Smith was fined thirty-five thousand dollars, suspended for three races and placed on probation for six months.
Also during post-race inspection, a shock absorber on William Byron’s second-place Chevrolet didn’t extend six inches in the allowable time span of ninety seconds. Byron and car owner Justin Marks were each docked twelve championship points.
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