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NASCAR Discussion
Clint Bowyer won a rain shortened race at Michigan (133 of 200 laps). His 2nd win of the season. Outdueled Kevin Harvick (who won Stage 2) on the final restart, despite not being in the preferred lane.

Kurt Busch finished 3rd, first 1-2-3 finish in Stewart-Haas history. Ford's were very strong in Ford country. 7 of top 8 were Fords. Kyle Busch in 4th was only non-Ford. Kyle Larson who had won the last 3 races at Michigan, and was strong early, finishing an impressive 2nd in Stage 1 (Ryan Blaney won Stage 1 and finshed 8th) after starting 26th, finished 28th after spinning out.

Canadian D.J. Kennington finished 34th, 1 lap down.

And if you haven't watched a Clint Bowyer interview, you're missing out.
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Sonoma was today, first road course of the season. Cole Pearn (Canadian crew chief for Martin Truex Jr.) with a masterful pit strategy today, faking out Rodney Childers on the radio (crew chief for Kevin Harvick), leading Harvick to believe they were pitting (Harvick was running 1st, Truex 2nd), which made Harvick pit, and then Truex didn't. Truex stayed out for another 9 laps or so, and then had much more fresher tires during a crucial part of the race, that eventually led to Truex getting a 29 second lead after pit stops cycled through and he took it easy the rest of the way and won by 11 seconds. His 3rd win of the season and 18th of his career. He's actually ahead of his pace for race wins compared to his championship winning season last year now when he won 8 races.

Harvick finished 2nd, Bowyer 3rd, Chase Elliott 4th, Kyle and Kurt Busch were 5th and 6th respectively, Jones, Almirola, Bowman and Hamlin rounded out the Top 10. Hamlin actually won Stage 2, sacrificing overall race strategy for stage points, A.J. Allmendinger did the same to win Stage 1, and then missed a shift and blew up his motor early in Stage 2. Pole sitter Kyle Larson was never really a factor in the race after the first 25 laps or so, finishing 14th.
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Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson went down to the wire for the win at Chicagoland yesterday. Busch got caught up in lapped traffic which allowed Larson to close in, and Larson put a slide job on Busch out of Turn 2 to take the lead on the last lap, and then going into turn 3, Busch promptly ran right into the back of Larson and spun him out for the win. Larson made an amazing save to still manage to finish 2nd. Busch's car for most of the day was not very good, as he didn't run near the front much, and didn't finish either of the first 2 stages in the Top 10. But near the end the car was flying as he ended up leading the final 59 laps, for his 5th win of the season (ties Harvick for the most this year so far).

Stewart-Haas was strong again as Harvick finished 3rd, led 39 laps and passed teammate Kurt Busch on the final lap of Stage 2 for the Stage win. Clint Bowyer may have had the fastest car, he led 21 laps and finished 5th, but 2 penalties on pit road dropped him back in the pack twice. I don't think anyone passed more cars than Bowyer did during the race. Aric Almirola led the most laps (70) and won Stage 1 (first stage win of his career) but came home 25th 1 lap down after issues hampered his day. Kurt Busch who nearly won Stage 2 and finished in the Top 4 in both stages (while leading 20 laps), also dropped back late in the race and came home 17th, 1 lap down. Between the 4 Stewart-Haas cars they led 150 of the 267 laps.

Other Top 10 finishers: Truex Jr. 4th, Jones 6th, Hamlin 7th, Logano 8th, Keselowski 9th, Bowman 10th. Surprise pole winner Paul Menard (his 2nd career pole, first in 10 years), was never a factor, never led a lap, didn't collect any Stage points, and finished 13th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was part of his first race with NBC, post retirement as well. A big part of the storyline was how well drivers were dealing with the temperatures inside the cars. Some were handling it better than others. Temperatures reached as high as 155 degrees inside the cars yesterday (that's 68 Celsius). Kyle Weatherman who finished 33rd, 12 laps down, tweeted after the race a picture of a scale showing he'd lost 10 pounds during the race.

With 9 races left until the Chase, here's who the Top 16 are:

1. Kyle Busch
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Joey Logano
6. Austin Dillon
7. Brad Keselowski
8. Kurt Busch
9. Denny Hamlin
10.Kyle Larson
11.Ryan Blaney
12.Aric Almirola
13.Jimmie Johnson
14.Chase Elliott
15.Erik Jones
16.Alex Bowman

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Paul Menard are within striking distance for points. But anybody who is in the Top 30 in points, that wins a race and is racing full-time, will qualify for the Chase. So guys like Ty Dillon and Matt DiBenedetto in 29th and 30th in points respectively, are still technically alive too.
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Saturday night at Daytona was exciting. Last lap pass by Erik Jones over Martin Truex Jr. for the win, the 1st Cup win of Jones' career. The win locks him into the Chase, which is huge as he was by no means a sure bet to point himself in, even though he was in position to do so. Jones earlier in the race sustained damage in a wreck just before the halfway point, that put him a lap down. Impressive showing for Jones, the last lap was the only lap Jones led the entire race.

The race had a high rate of attrition, as only 13 cars finished the race on the lead lap. Canadian D.J. Kennington, being one of them, finishing 13th, which is a career best finish for him.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the first 2 stages, and led a race high 51 laps, but ended up a lap down in 17th place. Pole sitter Chase Elliott was strong and led 11 laps early, but was involved in a wreck on lap 55 and finished 34th.

A lot of different names in the Top 10 in this one: A.J. Allmendinger finished 3rd, Kasey Kahne 4th, Chris Buescher 5th, Ty Dillion 6th, Matt DiBenedetto 7th, Ryan Newman 8th, Austin Dillon 9th, and Alex Bowman 10th.

Jeffrey Earnhardt also had a career best finish of 11th, and Ray Black Jr. 16th.
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Martin Truex Jr. had a clean sweep at Kentucky tonight, winning both stages and the race, leading 174 of 267 laps and crossing the finish line 1.9 seconds ahead of Ryan Blaney. That's the 4th win this season for Truex Jr. and 19th of his career, was also his first win at a 1.5 mile race track this year, tracks that he dominated last year.

Tire strategy was a big part of the race. Late in the race Kurt Busch (led 45 laps) and Brad Keselowski led a decent amount of laps while only taking 2 tires, while everyone else took 4, but each time Truex Jr. eventually ran them down. Keselowski was 2 laps down at one point and ended up leading 38 laps and finishing 3rd, very impressive rebound. Truex Jr. made the pass for the win over Kurt Busch with 44 laps to go.

Kyle Busch was 4th, Harvick 5th, Kurt Busch 6th, rest of the Top 10 were Jones, Almirola, Larson, Logano.
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Kevin Harvick wins an eventful race at Loudon, New Hampshire. Passes Kyle Busch with 7 laps to go, using his bumper to move him up the track. Unlike when Busch hit Larson at Chicagoland, Harvick didn't nearly wreck Busch, but Busch still whined a bit post race. Busch was no higher than 3rd all day and ran 5th or 6th most of the day, but his pit crew nailed the final stop to give him the lead (he led 36 laps), but his car was really not race winning caliber. For Harvick that is his series leading 6th win this season, and 43rd of his career, which puts him 1 behind Bill Elliott on the all-time list.

Kurt Busch won the pole and led the most laps (94 of 301), but a pit stop mishap between him and Ryan Blaney dropped him from the lead to 5th place, and Kurt eventually fell back to 8th.

Martin Truex Jr. won Stage 1 and led 83 laps. he had a strong short run car, that fell back a bit during longer runs. He ended up finishing 4th.

Chase Elliott won Stage 2 (led 23 laps) and had a strong car early (finished 2nd in Stage 2), but fell back a bit and the end to finish 5th.

Aric Almirola may have had the strongest car in the race, he made up a lot of ground during long runs and had the lead going into final green flag pit stops with 44 to go (led 42 laps), but a bad stop put him 2nd, and then a bad restart after a caution shortly after that dropped him to 6th, and he only managed to get back up to 3rd.

Top 10: Harvick, Ky. Busch, Almirola, Truex Jr., Elliott, Newman, Blaney, Ku. Busch, Logano, Johnson.

With 6 races to go until the Chase (Pocono, Watkins Glen, Michigan, Bristol, Darlington, Indy), here are the points standings:

1. Kevin Harvick
2. Kyle Busch
3. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Joey Logano
6. Erik Jones
7. Austin Dillon
8. Kurt Busch
9. Brad Keselowski
10.Kyle Larson
11.Ryan Blaney
12.Denny Hamlin
13.Aric Almirola
14.Jimmie Johnson
15.Chase Elliott
16.Alex Bowman

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is 28 points back of Bowman, Paul Menard 29. 59 is the most you can gain in a race. Though anyone who is in the Top 30 that wins a race, automatically qualifies.
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Some interesting developments after qualifying at Pocono today. Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch posted the two fastest times in final qualifying, but Daniel Suarez actually ends up with his 1st career pole. Harvick, Busch, and 11 others all failed post qualifying inspection, including 5 of the 6 fastest drivers in qualifying.

Timmy Hill, slowest in qualifying who qualified nearly 4 seconds slower than Suarez, will now start 27th. The 13 who failed will start 28th-40th.
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Kyle Busch wins Pocono for his 6th win of the season, and 49th of his career, tying Tony Stewart for 13th on the all-time wins list. He led the most laps (52) including the last 42, to win by 1.8 seconds.

Daniel Suarez and Alex Bowman both had career best finishes of 2nd and 3rd respectively. William Byron also had a career best finish in 6th.

Stage 2 winner Kevin Harvick sounds like had the fastest car, but problems in the pits relegated him to a 4th place finish. Erik Jones rounded out the Top 5.

Stage 1 winner Chase Elliott finished 7th, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, and Denny Hamlin were the rest of the Top 10.

Bubba Wallace had a very scary crash, suffering brake failure at the fastest part of the track, and actually drove through the grass trying to scrub as much speed off as he could and turned the car sideways before impact. HUGE hit, and some uneasy moments waiting for him to put his window net down as safety crews made there way to the crash. He eventually did thankfully, and it sounds like all he really got out of the deal is he bit down on his cheek, and his one foot is banged up. Very fortunate. He actually broke the concrete wall behind the safer barrier, that's how hard he hit.

5 races to go until the Chase, with Bowman's Top 3 finish, and collecting stage points each stage, combined with mediocre runs by Stenhouse Jr. and Menard, Bowman has a 56 point cushion right now. Could change next week with the road course though. Prime candidate for a different winner to shake things up.
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It was announced today, Bill Elliott will run the Xfinity series race at Road America in the #23 car for GMS Racing on Aug 26th.

Elliott is now 62 years old, and hasn't competed in a NASCAR race since 2012, but has recently competed in some TransAm races for Ray Evernham.

Elliott hasn't competed in a NASCAR road course race since 2007, and has never raced Road America before.

Despite being a former Cup series champion, and winner of 44 Cup Races, he will have to attend the rookie meeting prior to Road America because of his lack of recent experience and having never raced on the track before.

His son Chase has raced a few times for GMS this year, and Elliott will be teaming up with a former crew chief of his Mike Beam, who he won 2 Cup races with in the early 90's.

GMS started the year with Spencer Gallagher in the car, and he was planning on running full time for the championship, and actually won the Spring Talladega race that all but clinched him a spot in the Chase. But a few days after his win, he failed a drug test, and was indefinitely banned from NASCAR until he completed a rehab program. He's completed it since, and returned to competition last month, but GMS already had contracts signed for fill in drivers, because they didn't know the length of the suspension, and have since decided that Gallagher will only run certain races the remainder of the season.

The owner of GMS, is Gallagher's father as well. It's actually a pretty decent team, not on par with JR Motorsports, Gibbs, or Penske, but still a team quite capable of running in the Top 10, as the #23 car is 11th in owner points. Elliott should have a good car in his hands.

Elliott will also be the first NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, to compete in a NASCAR race post induction.
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Wow...Wild Bill, back behind the wheel.

Should be fun to watch
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Then Chase goes and one ups this news by winning his first Cup race of his career, at Watkins Glen yesterday.

Held off Martin Truex Jr. who got to his bumper on the last lap and was hounding him, but then ran out of fuel about 3/4's of the way through the lap. Still managed to coast to 2nd place though. Truex won Stage 1 despite leading just 4 laps, and Elliott won Stage 2 while leading a race high 52 laps. Kyle Busch led 31 laps and finished 3rd. The rest of the Top 10 were Suarez, Jones, Larson, McMurray, Byron, Ku. Busch, and Harvick.

Pole sitter Denny Hamlin led just 2 laps and finished 13th.

The win locks Chase, into the Chase. Alex Bowman extended his points lead for the final spot to 62 points now over Stenhouse Jr. But again, a win by someone not in a Chase position can change that.
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Kevin Harvick dominated Michigan today, sweeping the stages and leading 108 of 200 laps for his 7th win of the season, and 44th of his career, tying Bill Elliott on the all-time list.

Didn't catch the race, but it sounds like Harvick was the class of the field, and the only cars close to him were the 18 and 78 again. Austin Dillon had a nice day, ran out of fuel on the last lap running 2nd, but coasted across the line in 4th still as Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch drove by for 2nd and 3rd.

Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin (who won the pole for the 2nd straight week), Chase Elliott, and Joey Logano were the rest of the Top 10.

Ty Dillon had a hard wreck at the fastest part of the race track but was thankfully ok. He ran over something on the track that broke an oil line, which covered his tires and made it so he didn't have any grip to be able to turn and he hit the wall at a real bad angle.

With 3 races to go until the Chase, here are the points standings:

1. Kevin Harvick
2. Kyle Busch
3. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Joey Logano
6. Chase Elliott
7. Erik Jones
8. Austin Dillon
9. Kurt Busch
10.Brad Keselowski
11.Ryan Blaney
12.Denny Hamlin
13.Kyle Larson
14.Aric Almirola
15.Jimmie Johnson
16.Alex Bowman

Stenhouse Jr. remains 17th, 62 points back. He's almost at the point where he needs a win to get in.
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Hm...Kasey Kahne retiring...

Guess he has been having a rough go of it of late
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Yup. A lot of the drivers aren't too pleased with the rules package NASCAR is thinking of implementing next year either, and rumour is that was a bit of a factor for Kahne as well. Apparently Stewart-Haas was interested in having Kahne drive for them next year as well, which would be elite equipment and would be a tough opportunity to turn down but he did.

It's rumoured Kurt Busch won't be back with Stewart-Haas, and that he'll be replacing Jamie McMurray at Chip Ganassi Racing next year. So Stewart-Haas may have an opening if they can find sponsorship.
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Kurt Busch won at Bristol last night for his 1st win of the season, and 30th of his career. Very exciting race with a bit of drama. Kyle Busch didn't make any more friends last night, wrecking Martin Truex Jr. as Truex was about to pass him for 2nd with roughly 65 laps to go (which isn't a lot at Bristol). 4 different drivers led most of the race, Ryan Blaney led the most laps with 121, and won Stage 1 but ended up finishing 7th, Clint Bowyer looked like he had the race in the bag until a late caution, he led 120 laps and ended up 6th after a couple bad restarts. Chase Elliott led 112 laps and was coming on strong late to finish 3rd, and Joey Logano led 95 laps and won Stage 2, but finished 4th.

Kyle Larson actually finished 2nd and was closing in ever so slightly on Kurt a bit at the end but ran out of laps. The cars seemed to be pretty close to equal. Erik Jones (5th), Alex Bowman (8th), Jimmie Johnson (9th), and Kevin Harvick (10th) were the rest of the Top 10.

Kyle Busch had a fast car at times, and actually posted the fastest lap of the race, but never did lead a lap, and ended up finishing 20th after late race contact led to a tire rub that eventually went flat and caused him to spin and lose 3 laps.

With Kurt getting his 30th win, the Busch brothers are the first brothers to both win at least 30 Cup races. The Labonte brothers are next with Terry and Bobby both having at least 20 wins.

With the win Kurt is locked into the Chase, Larson, Blaney, and Brad Keselowski also are locked in on points now as well.

2 races to go until the Chase:


1. Kevin Harvick
2. Kyle Busch
3. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Kurt Busch
6. Joey Logano
7. Chase Elliott
8. Erik Jones
9. Austin Dillon
10.Ryan Blaney
11.Brad Keselowski
12.Kyle Larson


13.Denny Hamlin
14.Aric Almirola
15.Jimmie Johnson
16.Alex Bowman


17.Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
18.Ryan Newman
19.Daniel Suarez
20.Paul Menard
21.William Byron
22.Jamie McMurray
23.Chris Buescher
24.A.J. Allmendinger
25.David Ragan
26.Bubba Wallace
27.Kasey Kahne
28.Michael McDowell
29.Ty Dillon
30.Matt DiBenedetto
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Disappointed to see some decent convo in here (finally!) only for it to disappear.

Keselowski wins an exciting Brickyard 400. For the 2nd week in a row, he doesn't have the best car, but is good enough to be opportunistic.

Jamie McMurray made it interesting near the end, battled for 2nd place and a chance to go after the leader late in the race but faded on older tires. Made Alex Bowman nervous for awhile anyways. Johnson and Bowman end up taking the last 2 Chase spots.

Today's Top 10

1. Brad Keselowski
2. Erik Jones
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Clint Bowyer
6. Kurt Busch
7. Jamie McMurray
8. Kyle Busch
9. Paul Menard
10.Ryan Newman
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Brad Keselowski wins for a 3rd week in a row! It's the first time in NASCAR history, that 3 different drivers, have won 3 straight races in the same season. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick did the same earlier this year.

It's Keselowski's 27th career Cup win, which passes his former boss Dale Jr. on the all-time wins list.

The win guarantees him a spot in the Round of 12, but he was likely going to make that anyways. Martin Truex Jr. was coming on strong and arguably had the best car (led the most laps and won Stage 1) but on short runs wasn't as good, which cost him at the end. 5 cautions in the last 25 laps or so.

Top 10 for the race were:

Brad Keselowski
Kyle Larson
Martin Truex Jr.
Joey Logano
Ryan Blaney
Aric Almirola
Kyle Busch
Daniel Suarez
Ryan Newman
Paul Menard

A lot of the Chase drivers had trouble today, a lot more than usual. Even Kyle Busch had trouble but he rebounded incredibly. I got home and turned the race on with 27 laps to go, and he was 26th 1 lap down, and he finished 7th.

Half of the 16 Chase drivers finished 19th or worse.

Alex Bowman 19th
Kurt Busch 21st
Jimmie Johnson 22nd
Clint Bowyer 23rd
Denny Hamlin 32nd
Chase Elliott 36th
Kevin Harvick 39th
Erik Jones 40th

Truex Jr. and Logano were the only drivers to finish in the Top 10 in both stages, as well as the race. An unsually low number, mostly due to attrition late in the race.

The 4 drivers on the outside looking in right now are Johnson (6 points back), Elliott (9), Jones (19), and Hamlin (20). Alex Bowman is the bubble driver, with Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon, and Aric Almirola not very far ahead of him.

Next week they are in Richmond, Dale Jr. is running the Xfinity race, his first race (and possibly only race, based on recent comments) since he retired from full-time racing.
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Dale Jr. ran in the Xfinity race (I didn't get to watch it unfortunately), but it sounds like he possibly had the best car, as he won Stage 2 and led the most laps. He gave up the lead with 30 to go, and I haven't read or watched highlights to see what happened. He ended up finishing 4th.

Christopher Bell, who is probably the most exciting up and coming driver in NASCAR IMO, won the race, his 5th win of the season, he takes over the points lead, and has booked himself a spot in the Round of 8 for the Xfinity Championship.

Tomorrrow night is the Cup race, Kevin Harvick won the pole, just barely edging out Denny Hamlin by just .006 seconds. Hamlin needs a good run to get back into this thing, and Richmond (his home track) where he has 3 Cup wins, is the place for him to do it.

Cole Custer, who runs full time in Xfinity and has only made a handful of Cup starts, was a bit of a surprise in qualifying today. He was fast in practice, but he backed it up in qualifying too, making the final round of 12, and will start 11th tomorrow night.
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Forgot to mention, rumour is Ryan Newman (who had already announced he was leaving Childress at the end of this season) is reportedly set to join Roush next year and drive the #6 car that Trevor Bayne and Matt Kenseth have been sharing lately.

I was kinda hoping Kenseth would run full-time again next year, but he's at the point in his career I think that unless he thinks he's got a shot to win every week, he's not going to run full-time anymore. He wants to race still, but he's not going to do the grind of a full-time season for a 20th place team every week at his age. He's got a young family at home. So this part time gig with Roush, to try to get them back on track, was a good fit for him. Maybe they'll even run a part time 3rd car for him next year if he's got the sponsorship. They weren't seeing results right away with him, but you can tell lately, Roush seems to be on a bit of an uptick.
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Kyle Busch holds off Kevin Harvick to win at Richmond last night, his 7th win of the season (ties Harvick for the season lead), and the 50th Cup win of Kyle's career, which ties him for 11th with Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson on the all-time list.

Martin Truex Jr. won both stages and led the most laps (163 of 400) and finished 3rd. Chase Elliott seemed to have a 4th place car all night, as he finished both stages, and the race, in 4th place. Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, and Clint Bowyer rounded out the Top 10 last night.

Among the chasers, Denny Hamlin had issues early, was almost spun by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. but Hamlin made a great save and managed to only go 1 lap down. He ended up 16th after looking like he had a Top 10 car early. Kurt Busch finished 18th 2 laps down, but was very strong early, finishing 5th in Stage 1, and running the fastest lap of anyone in the race. Ryan Blaney finished 19th, also 2 laps down, and was the last Chase driver to cross the finish line.

The next race is the first Cup race being held at the ROVAL in Charlotte, it's also the cut off race to see who makes the Round of 12.

Drivers on the outside looking in now are: Bowyer 4 points back, Johnson 6, Erik Jones 21, and Hamlin 29. The driver on the bubble currently is Blaney, though Alex Bowman is only 1 point ahead of him, and Dillon and Elliott are only 6 ahead.
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