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NASCAR Discussion
Apparently the race yesterday at the ROVAL was one of the best of the year. I unfortunately missed it but have seen some highlights.

Ryan Blaney was the winner, (edging Jamie McMurray) after Jimmie Johnson tried to pass Martin Truex Jr. near the finish line for the win but ended up taking both of them out.

The move ended up having Johnson fall back to 8th, which put him into a 3 way tie for the final 2 playoff spots, and Johnson lost the tiebreaker. He was tied with Kyle Larson and Aric Almirola, and the tiebreaker is your best finish in the 3 races of that Round. So for the Round of 16, Larson's best finish was a 2nd place finish at Las Vegas, Almirola's best finish was a 5th at Richmond, and Johnson's best finish was two 8th place finishes.

Larson only got into the tiebreak by passing Jeffrey Earnhardt on the last turn of the last lap. Earnhardt was running well ahead of Larson as Larson was well back just trying to maintain minimum speed for the last 2 lap restart in a heavily damaged car, but Earnhardt spun out and stalled his car on the very last turn and could not get in re-fired in time to beat Larson to the line. That pass gave Larson the point he needed to get into the tiebreak. Larson earlier in the race before his crash with Brad Keselowski while fighting for the lead, had won Stage 1 and led the most laps.

Top 10 finishers of the inaugural Cup race at the ROVAL were: Blaney(who also won Stage 2), McMurray, Clint Bowyer, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch (who won the pole), Chase Elliott, A.J. Allmendinger, Johnson, Kevin Harvick, and Joey Logano.

The 12 drivers to advance (and the updated standings going into Round 12) and the 4 drivers eliminated from Championship contention are:

1. Kyle Busch
2. Kevin Harvick 5 pts back
3. Martin Truex Jr. 17 back
4. Brad Keselowski 30 back
5. Clint Bowyer 40 back
6. Joey Logano 41 back
7. Kurt Busch 41 back
8. Ryan Blaney 42 back
9. Chase Elliott 47 back
10.Kyle Larson 49 back
11.Aric Almirola 54 back
12.Alex Bowman 55 back

Eliminated: Jimmie Johnson, Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones.

Next race is Dover this Sunday. Kasey Kahne is expected to be back in the 95 car, pending doctors approval this week. Regan Smith had been driving the car and actually did very well, with 3 Top 20 finishes, including 2 in Top 15 in the 4 races he drove for them. Kahne has only had 2 Top 15 finishes in the 25 races he's run in that car this year.
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Kasey Kahne is not cleared by doctors this week, and will not race at Dover. Regan Smith will fill the seat again. This will be the 5th straight race he's missed. What started out as chronic heat exhaustion late in races, sounds like may be bigger than that.
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Chase Elliott wins at Dover to clinch a spot in the Round of 8. Stayed out on old tires and was able to hold off Denny Hamlin and other guys with a lot fresher tires for the win. A late race caution may have lost the race for Aric Almirola who had the lead going into the final pit stop with 10 to go or so. He ended up finishing 13th. Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Daniel Suarez rounded out the Top 10.

Harvick appeared to have the dominant car at times. Winning the first 2 stages and leading 251 of the 404 laps. Clint Bowyer was strong finishing in the Top 4 in both stages but was involved in a late race accident to finish 35th.

The bubble driver on points now is Ryan Blaney, with Almirola, Bowyer, Kyle Larson, and Alex Bowman on the outside looking in.

Talladega is next which can always be a big wild card race.
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Kasey Kahne done for the season. Sad end to what was his final full time season.

I may have been in the stands for his final Cup race.
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Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus will be splitting after this season. They've won 7 championships as a driver/crew chief tandem and are both in the conversation as best ever at what they do. With longtime sponsor Lowe's also leaving after this season, the 48 car will have a totally different look to it next year for sure.

Knaus will move to the #24 team, the team he started his days at Hendrick with as a crew member for Jeff Gordon. He was part of the Rainbow Warriors. His job will be to get William Byron into victory lane and in the Chase. He's been disappointing this year IMO.

Jimmie's new crew chief will be Kevin Meendering, who has been Elliott Sadler's crew chief in the Xfinity series for the last few years. He's arguably been the most consistent team since Meendering took over. They came sooooo close to winning the championship last year.
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Aric Almirola wins at Dega. His 2nd career win and 1st this season, which really shakes up the playoff positioning heading into next weeks elimination race at Kansas.

The win locks him in, and Chase Elliott won last week, locking himself in. Both were on the outside looking in when this round started. We actually have one of the "Big 3" now in the bubble position.

The way the points look like now

1. Chase Elliott locked in
2. Aric Almirola locked in
3. Kevin Harvick points leader
4. Kyle Busch 17 back
5. Joey Logano 24 back
6. Kurt Busch 33 back
7. Clint Bowyer 42 back
8. Martin Truex Jr. 45 back

In Position to be eliminated

9. Brad Keselowski 63 back
10.Ryan Blaney 67 back
11.Kyle Larson 71 back
12.Alex Bowman 113 back (can only advance if he wins at Kansas)
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Kyle Larson penalized 10 points for an infraction that occurred at Talladega. Apparently the way they repaired his damaged car during the race, was against the rules.

That drops him to 81 points back of Harvick, and 36 points back of the final playoff spot. That basically puts him in the position that he needs to win at Kansas this week to get into the Round of 8. It's not impossible for him to get in on points, but he'd need to have one magical horseshoe.
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Chase Elliott wins for the 2nd time in 3 races, for his 3rd win of the season. Led the final 44 laps for the win. Kyle Busch finished 2nd, 9/10th's of a second behind. Kyle Larson had a great run, started at the back of the field, in a backup car after wrecking his primary car in practice, and ended up finishing 3rd. Wasn't enough to get him into the Round of 8 though, only gaining 8 of the 36 points he needed to make up. The rest of the Top 10 today were Erik Jones, Martin Truex Jr. Brad Keselowski (also eliminated), Ryan Blaney (eliminated), Joey Logano(won Stage 1 and led the most laps), Alex Bowman (eliminated), and Aric Almirola.

The final 8 drivers are:

Kyle Busch
Kevin Harvick 1 point back (won Stage 2 today)
Martin Truex Jr. 17 back
Chase Elliott 37 back
Clint Bowyer 40 back
Joey Logano 40 back
Kurt Busch 40 back
Aric Almirola 49 back

Next week is Martinsville. Should be lots of bumping and banging.
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Kyle Busch wins the pole for tomorrows race. Times were super close for the pole today. Kyle had a 19.673, 5th was Almirola with a 19.713. Even Keselowski in 8th at 19.770 wasn't a full tenth of a second behind.

The 8 remaining Chasers will start

Ky. Busch 1st
Bowyer 2nd
Almirola 5th
Truex Jr. 6th
Ku. Busch 7th
Logano 11th
Harvick 13th
Elliott 21st

The Hendrick cars which have typically been very strong here, struggled to find speed today. Other than Byron who made the Final 12 in qualifying, the other 3 cars weren't even close. Jimmie Johnson who has 9 victories at Martinsville, was actually the slowest Hendrick car in 23rd.

Bubba Wallace wrecked another race car today too in qualifying. He sure seems to be tough on equipment lately.
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Joey Logano spun Martin Truex Jr. on the last turn of the last lap for the win, after Truex had just passed him cleanly the corner before. This will get some fireworks started for the last 3 races. Truex was pissed, and Logano even admitted to just using his bumper and not trying to pass him clean.

The win locks Logano into being in the Championship 4 at Homestead.

1. Logano Win
2. Kyle Busch points leader
3. Martin Truex Jr. 21 points back
4. Kevin Harvick 21 points back

5. Kurt Busch 46 points back
6. Chase Elliott 52 points back
7. Clint Bowyer 63 points back
8. Aric Almirola 71 points back
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Kevin Harvick wins at Texas for his 8th win of the season (plus the all-star race). He passed Ryan Blaney with 17 to go, and held him off on a late restart for the win. Harvick is now 1 of only 4 drivers to win at least 8 races at age 40 or older (Harvick is 42). Lee Petty, David Pearson and Bobby Allison are the others.

The win locks Harvick into the Championship 4 at Homestead (along with Logano who won last week). Logano made another enemy today on his way to a 3rd place finish, as Aric Almirola was not very happy with him post race and promised to make things very difficult on him at Homestead, whether Almirola is in the final 4 or not.

It was an eventful day for Martin Truex Jr who had to start the race at the back of the pack after an engine change, he raced his way up towards the front early on, then had a loose wheel on a pit stop and had to pit under green. He then got a penalty while pitting, and ended up going 2 laps down. He was able to fight his way back on to the lead lap after a caution with about 40 laps to go, and fought his way back up to a 9th place finish, and is exactly where he was in the points standings as he was before the race, 25 points ahead of Kurt Busch for the final spot.

Kyle Busch also had an eventful day, finally getting back on the lead lap on the last caution with 3 to go, and ended up finishing 17th. His cushion is now 28 points ahead of his brother, when it had been 46. Chase Elliott also brought his gap down to 39 points from 52, but is still basically in a must win situation at Phoenix next week. As are Bowyer and Almirola.

The rest of todays Top 10 were: Erik Jones 4th, Kyle Larson 5th, Chase Elliott 6th, Kurt Busch 7th, Aric Almirola 8th, and Austin Dillon 10th.

I only caught the last 35 laps, but somehow Jimmie Johnson got screwed by NASCAR today too. Even receiving a post race apology in which it says NASCAR cost the 48 team today. Trying to find out what happened but no luck so far. Johnson led 11 laps early, it sounds like he was penalized incorrectly, but what that penalty was and why I'm not sure. He ended up finishing near the tail end of the lead lap in 15th.

1. Harvick Win
2. Logano Win
3. Ky. Busch
4. Truex Jr. 3 points back of Busch

5. Ku. Busch 25 back of Truex
6. Elliott 39 back
7. Almirola 57 back
8. Bowyer 73 back
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So Harvick's winning car at Texas failed inspection at the NASCAR R&D centre this week. They've penalized him 40 points and are saying the win doesn't lock him into the final 4.

It's a pretty huge penalty that now puts him just 3 points ahead of Kurt Busch for the final spot.

Now Harvick has gone and won the pole at Phoenix this weekend and is probably the heavy favourite there. He won the race in the spring there, and has won at Phoenix 9 times in his career (most all-time), including at one point 4 in a row and 6 of 8.

Updated standings

1. Logano Win
2. Ky. Busch
3. Truex Jr. 3 back of Busch
4. Harvick 25 back

5. Ku. Busch 3 back of Harvick
6. Elliott 17 back
7. Almirola 35 back
8. Bowyer 51 back

The penalty means Chase Elliott has a chance of pointing himself in instead of having to win, same with Almirola but he'd need A LOT of help. If Harvick ends up in trouble, the guy who has probably been the best car all year, may find himself outside of the Final 4 at Homestead.
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Kyle Busch wins Phoenix! His 8th win of the season and 51st of his Cup career. Was some drama late, Aric Almirola was on Kyle's bumper with less than 20 to go but just overdrove the thing and ended up getting way loose several times and dropped back. Chase Elliott was looking great with about 90 to go, was in the lead and then sped in the pits and fell back. Kurt Busch earlier in the race was also in the lead but passed the pace car under caution getting into the pits and was also penalized.

All of these helped Harvick overcome his own issues of a flat tire early in the race while leading.

The 4 drivers advancing to Homestead with a shot at the championship, ended up being Ky. Busch, Logano, Truex Jr., and Harvick in the final spot.

Bowyer blew a tire and wrecked early, and Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott ended up wrecking late, thanks to Denny Hamlin pinning Kurt against the wall. They wrecked each other in front of Chase, and he couldn't avoid it. Kurt for once acted very maturely in the post race interview, because he really could've tore Denny a new one if he wanted too.

Brad Keselowski finished 2nd and was closing quick on Kyle Busch, he actually looked to have a shot at him until about 5 to go when he ovedrove a corner and slid up the track. If he hadn't have lost that time, he would've been on his bumper by the end of the race at the very least. Kyle Larson was 3rd, Almirola 4th, Harvick 5th, Jamie McMurray 6th, Matt Kenseth 7th in what might be his 2nd final race, Austin Dillon 8th, William Byron 9th (which clinched him rookie of the year), and Bubba Wallace 10th.
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Daytona Sunday!

Last few years, this has been the only race I really pay attention to.
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Is attendance in Nascar down?

Watched a race today (Atlanta) for the first time in a looooong time and it looked like there were lots of empty seats at what used to be (I thought) one of the top draw tracks.
"I drink to make other people interesting"
~ E. Hemmingway
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It is down yeah. Daytona was a sell out but it's one of the only these days it seems. I don't think it sold out until the day before the race either.

Bristol used to sell out every race and had a waiting list for seasons tickets. They still do well, but not what it was in the 90's and early 00's.

A lot of tracks have taken out seats, they weren't selling out and the seats were too small anyways, so they helped that problem at a lot of tracks by making the seats bigger. We used to buy extra seats at Martinsville so we'd actually have enough room for our groups. 2 extra seats per row and we'd usually have around 25 guys, we'd do 3 rows of 8, but was actually 10 for the extra space that made a huge difference considering we barely had room to move with those 2 extra seats.

Atlanta used to be a pretty well attended race for sure, but it used to be the final race of the season for a number of years as well which helped quite a bit. Homestead which is the final race now is a sell out every year I believe or close to it.

Phoenix is another track that still usually sells out or close to it. But it's the 2nd last race of the season and is a unique track that almost always has great weather.

Atlanta used to get 2 races a year as well, which does help attendance IMO. Now that it's a once a year thing, and it isn't billed as a big event like the Brickyard 400 or Southern 500 like the once a year races at Indianapolis and Darlington are, it doesn't seem to draw as well. They've had some pretty bad luck with weather in recent years as well. Last years race in Atlanta was rain delayed and I think it wasn't that long ago (in the last 5 years or so) the race in Atlanta didn't run till the Tuesday because of rain as well.
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