Kurt Busch slam dunks his way to first Kansas victory!

Kurt Busch battled hard with Kyle Larson and younger brother Kyle Busch in the final half of stage three going from third to first, passing Kyle Larson in turn two with eight to go, to slam dunk his way to his first ever win at Kansas Speedway after 33 tries and score his first win with 23XI Racing.

Kurt Busch, the No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kurt Busch would lead the most laps, 116 in total, and win stage two before earning his 34th NASCAR Cup Series career victory.

Kurt Busch was appropriately sporting a sharp looking Jordan brand primary paint scheme for the race, winning for the first time for co-team owners NBA legend Michael Jordan and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin.

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota, racing in the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Speaking to FOX’s Jamie Little Kurt Busch said: “With the Jordan brand on the hood, I felt like I had to play like the goat, race like the goat, and I had to beat the Kyles, I had to beat both.” Busch said he was sporting Michael Jordan’s colours, when Jordan won the Slam Dunk Contest in 1988.

With 86 laps to go, Larson had attempted the slide job on Kurt Busch for the lead but after getting by on the inside he got loose and began spinning sideways and slid into the wall before saving it as Kurt Busch got back around him.

On the next restart, after a caution came out for Chase Elliott losing a tyre and wildly spinning down the race track, Kurt Busch and Larson battled side by side for the lead for two laps before Larson tagged the turn four wall, allowing Kurt Busch to hold the lead.

Kurt Busch, the No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota, and Kyle Larson, the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, race side by side during the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch, after a speeding penalty at the start of stage three that had sent him to the rear, had worked all his way up to second and was three seconds behind his older brother. Another caution with less than 40 to go, this time for what NASCAR said was fluid on the front straightaway, saw the field bunch up again and the following laps saw a three-way battle for the lead with Kurt Busch and Larson leading the charge with Kyle Busch closely following the pair.

Larson and Kyle Busch would both get past Kurt Busch but with 22 laps to go, with Kyle Busch unable to find a way past Larson, Kurt Busch would sail past on the back straightaway and quickly close down Larson.

Kyle Larson (front), the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, Kyle Busch (middle), the No. 18 M&M’s Crunchy Cookie Toyota, and Kurt Busch (back), the No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota, racing in the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

With eight to go, Kurt Busch would run Larson tight but fair up against the turn two wall. Larson slid briefly into the wall allowing Kurt Busch to take back the lead and win.

Kyle Larson would finish second and Kyle Busch would finish third. After having an up and down day, Denny Hamlin would finish fourth. Kurt Busch’s 23XI teammate Bubba Wallace would finish 10th.

It was a very successful day for Toyota overall, with four Toyota’s making up the top five finishing positions with Bell finishing fifth and six Toyota’s making up the top-10 with Martin Truex Jr. finishing sixth.

Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch would both congratulate Kurt Busch on pit road as he drove to victory lane.

This was also Kurt Busch’s first win with Toyota in the Cup Series, now making him a NASCAR Cup driver to have won with four different manufacturers; them being Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet and now Toyota.

Kansas week also marked the 22nd anniversary of the tragic passing of NASCAR driver Adam Petty, who was just 19. Before the start of the 2022 season, Adam Petty’s father Kyle Petty had given his blessing to 23XI Racing for the use the No. 45 number, the number that Adam Petty raced with. After the race Kurt Busch said: “It’s a small spiritual connection.”

The start of the race saw a green race track due to rain the previous night and that morning, with pole sitter Christopher Bell leading the opening nine laps before Tyler Reddick would get by on the next restart as Bell slid up the race track.

Christopher Bell, the No. 20 Rheem Toyota, leads the field to green in the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

As the track rubbered in, the top lane became the preferred lane as the bottom and middle lanes lost grip due to the rubber build up.

Larson took the lead away from Reddick on lap 34 but on the next restart after losing positions on pit road, Larson got fender damage in traffic and fell outside the top 10. Bell led the middle half of stage one before discovering under caution that he had a flat left rear tyre.

Bell was not the only driver to have flat left rear tyre issues, as B. J. McLeod and Daniel Suárez would bring out cautions for spinning out with flats. Suárez was running fourth on lap 62 at the time when he hit the turn four wall and spun.

Daniel Suárez hits the turn four wall and spins onto the infield during stage 1 of the race at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Jennifer Fisher/NASCAR Digital Media)

With 13 laps to go, Kyle Busch would take the lead and fend off Ross Chastain for the final seven laps to win stage one.

Kyle Busch, the No. 18 M&M’s Crunchy Cookie Toyota, racing in AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The start of stage two saw the No. 43 Petty GMS Racing team relentlessly try to get Erik Jones’s right rear tyre off. Saws, hammers and drills were used to try to get the tyre off with FOX’s Mike Joy saying: “That’s truck stop torture right there.” They settled on cutting away the wheel to get access to the lug nut which they eventually did and free the tyre from the car. Jones would return to the track seven laps down.

Stage two continued the theme of flat right rear tyres, as now leader William Byron who had recently taken the lead over from Chastain and Truex Jr. at the start of stage two, had to take to the apron and give up the lead due to one. Tyler Reddick got a flat after slapping the wall too many times. Truex Jr. would also get a flat left rear tyre at the end of stage two and be forced to give up fourth position.

Bubba Wallace (right), the No. 23 McDonald’s Toyota, and Tyler Reddick (left), the No. 8 BetMGM Chevrolet, race side by side in the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Chastain would lead the following laps until Kurt Busch, who had only managed 12th in stage one, would take the lead for the final 50 laps to win stage two. Kurt Busch was the first driver this season to win both stage two and the race, ending the curse.

The Busch brothers continue their recent dominance at Kansas Speedway. Kyle Busch appropriately won last spring’s fan named “Buschy McBusch 400” at Kansas despite the race being named after the Busch beer company that primarily sponsor Kevin Harvick. Kyle Larson nearly went back to back as he won last fall’s Kansas race.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Mix Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Buschy McBusch Race 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 02,(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

It was special race week all around for the Busch family as Kyle and Samantha Busch welcomed their second child, Lennix Key Busch into their life on May 10th.

Full race results: (1st) Kurt Busch, (2nd) Kyle Larson, (3rd) Kyle Busch, (4th) Denny Hamlin, (5th) Christopher Bell, (6th) Martin Truex Jr., (7th) Ross Chastain, (8th) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., (9th) Alex Bowman, (10th) Bubba Wallace, (11th) Austin Cindric, (12th) Ryan Blaney, (13th) Austin Dillon, (14th) Brad Keselowski, (15th) Kevin Harvick, (16th) William Byron, (17th) Joey Logano, (18th) Noah Gragson, (19th) Corey Lajoie, (20th) Ty Dillon, (21st) Harrison Burton, (22nd) Cole Custer, (23rd) Michael McDowell, (24th) Chase Briscoe, (25th) Todd Gilliland, (26th) Aric Almirola, (27th) Chris Buescher, (28th) Josh Bilicki, (29th) Chase Elliott, (30th) Tyler Reddick, (31st) JJ Yeley, (32nd) Erik Jones, (33rd) Daniel Suárez, (34th) Cody Ware, (35th) Justin Haley, (36th) B. J. McLeod.

Top 10 in stage 1: (1st) Kyle Busch, (2nd) Ross Chastain, (3rd) Chase Elliott, (4th) Tyler Reddick, (5th) William Byron, (6th) Martin Truex Jr., (7th) Bubba Wallace, (8th) Erik Jones, (9th) Ryan Blaney, (10th) Alex Bowman.

Top 10 in stage  2: (1st) Kurt Busch, (2nd) Kyle Busch, (3rd) Ryan Blaney, (4th) Austin Cindric, (5th) Chase Elliott, (6th) Kyle Larson, (7th) Ross Chastain, (8th) Denny Hamlin, (9th) Joey Logano, (10th) Bubba Wallace.

Top 10 in points standings: 1st Chase Elliott (475), 2nd Ryan Blaney (423), 3rd Kyle Busch (417), 4th William Byron (415), 5th Ross Chastain (407), 6th Martin Truex Jr, (400), 7th Joey Logano (396), 8th Alex Bowman (386), 9th Kyle Larson (376), 10th Christopher Bell (359).

Featured Image: Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway( Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Colton Herta wins wild rain-soaked Indy Grand Prix

Colton Herta thundered to the front from 14th place after pitting early for slick tyres on a drying race track, to go on to lead the majority of the race in changing weather conditions to win his first Indy Grand Prix. Herta had to keep the likes of Pato O’Ward and Simon Pagenaud behind and fight to stay on the soaked race track in the final laps as the heavens opened once again.

Colton Herta (left) and Pato O’Ward (right) racing in the Indy Grand Prix (Photo by Lisa Hurley/IndyCar Media)

The race saw numerous crashes and spins including under the safety car as the track began to get wetter with only 13 of 27 cars on the lead lap at one point in the race.

Herta started off his race by power-drifting round turn eight in an unbelievable save as he attempted to warm up his alternate Firestone red tyres on a damp race track and close down Pato O’Ward for what would be the race lead. Herta would get past O’Ward on the next lap before taking the overall lead of the race before 10 laps were complete.

O’Ward would keep Herta honest for the next 20 laps before they dived for the pits once again for Firestone reds but more rain was reported to be less than 15 minutes away. Herta would go wheel to wheel with O’Ward’s McLaren SP teammate Felix Rosenqvist but Rosenqvist being on cold tyres would lose out to taking the lead away from Herta.

Colton Herta ahead of Felix Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

Due to several full course yellows, the race became a timed event. With less than 20 minutes to go, after multiple pit stops and strategy calls including Herta being the first of the drivers on the wet tyres in fourth a few laps earlier, he would get by O’Ward who was still on the dry tyre, again in turn one on a restart to retake the lead for the final time.

On a late race restart with the track getting soaked by arrival of the rain, Herta would now pull a six second gap over now second place Simon Pagenaud. This would be halved after Herta went wide at turn 12 and took to the grass to make the corner but would then maintain a healthy gap over Pagenaud until a full course yellow came out with less than two laps to go to end the race.

Simon Pagenaud racing in the wet (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

Over the team radio Herta said that this was his favourite win yet and did a burnout in the rain to celebrate.

Talking to NBC’s Marty Snider in victory lane, Herta said: “That was the hardest race I have ever done.”

Colton Herta celebrating in victory lane (Photo by Chris Owens/IndyCar Media)

A dramatic turning point was over 50 laps into the race, with the belief that the race might end early due to a severe weather threat, for the next few laps, the race strategies went wild with the entire field flip flopping on their tyre choice due to the changing weather.

The worsening weather conditions on the front straightaway (Photo by James Black/IndyCar Media)

After Jimmie Johnson brought out a full course yellow after spinning and stalling in turns nine and 10 due to the tricky weather conditions, nearly everyone dived for the pits but only to take another set of the dry Firestone alternate tyres due to the belief that the track was not wet enough despite it continuing to rain. Scott McLaughlin, who had been running second on the track at this point won the race off pit road beating Herta.

It then began to rain harder under caution, causing Rinus VeeKay to spin out. Dixon, who had just taken the wave around was the first along with Rossi to dive for the pits for a set of wet tyres. The following lap saw the majority of the pack do the same including Herta.

McLaughlin, O’Ward and Romain Grosjean were now the top three, all deciding not to pit and stay out on the alternate tyre. Grosjean then spun under caution in turn two and fell to sixth.

More chaos ensued as race leader McLaughlin spun around just before coming back to green in turn 10 forcing IndyCar to halt the restart.

Scott McLaughlin (front) racing in the Indy Grand Prix (Photo by Chris Owens/IndyCar Media)

With O’Ward being the only one left at the front on the dry alternate tyre, he would get overtaken immediately on the restart by Herta into turn one. McLaughlin would bring out the next full course yellow after spinning again on the alternate tyre.

O’Ward would fall to fourth under that caution after spinning before bringing the car down pit road for a set of wet tyres as Herta brought the field back to green. O’Ward would finish 19th one lap down.

The opening 50 laps of the race were also highly entertaining. With all drivers starting the race on the wet tyre, it would be five time Indy GP winner Will Power who would take the green flag but on the backstretch on lap one, Álex Palou would come sailing past before O’Ward would do the same to Palou entering turn 12. Rosenqvist would make it a Arrow McLaren SP one-two again, just like in Friday’s Firestone fast six after completing their banker laps, by getting past Palou. Power would remain in the top 10 for most of the race and had a strong final stint in the wet to come home third.

Will Power leads the field into turn one at the start of the race (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

Palou’s day would turn into a disaster after pitting for the alternate tyre a few laps in, as he would spin and stall his car in turn 11 after having gone off in the grass and would go a lap down. Palou would finish 18th.

A few laps later, 2022 two-time winner Josef Newgarden’s race would turn into an even worse disaster after he spun wildly across the track in turn 11 after being sandwiched between Alexander Rossi and Jack Harvey, who were fighting over sixth place. Harvey failed to make an evasive manoeuvre when Rossi pulled down the race track slightly and instead clipped Newgarden’s left rear tyre sending him around.

Newgarden would pull up on the track with two flat rear tyres and significant damage that saw him go straight to the garage. Later on, IndyCar allowed him to rejoin the race but was now many laps down. He had joined in last place but due to crashes later on, he would finish 25th, 15 laps down.

The GMR Safety Team attending to Josef Newgarden following the wild spin (Photo by James Black/IndyCar Media)

On lap 20, Devlin DeFrancesco was unable to avoid a spinning VeeKay who had just re-entered the track after getting knocked off by rookie Callum Ilott in turn two, bringing out another full course yellow.

After 30 laps, Takuma Sato had powered his way up to fourth place while Power had fallen down to fifth. Sato would finish the race in seventh.

Takuma Sato racing in the Indy Grand Prix (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

On the second round of pit stops, Scott Dixon would limp to pit road after uncharacteristically running out of fuel, but would be able to get refuelled and continue, only losing a lap to the leaders.

On lap 34, Dalton Kellett would bring out the fourth full course yellow and end his day on the back straightaway after going off in the grass after coming out of the turn six chicane and parking next to the barrier.

Marcus Ericsson and Kyle Kirkwood would now run one-two under yellow due to not having pitted for a second time. Kirkwood had spun off in turn 10 earlier in the race and had found himself at the back of the pack as a result. Unfortunately, Kirkwood would have more incidents and would finish 26th after retiring.

On the next restart, the two Arrow McLaren SP teammates of O’Ward and Rosenqvist would crash into each other in turn one after O’Ward had spun around on his own leaving Rosenqvist behind nowhere to go and would drive into a backwards facing O’Ward, braking his front wing and bringing out the yellow. Rosenqvist would recover in the second half of the race to finish sixth.

Felix Rosenqvist missing his front wing after crashing into Pato O’Ward (Photo by James Black/IndyCar Media)

Rossi was also the first to take wet tyres before the heavy rain came but did so when the track was still too dry and burned up his tyres forcing him to pit for dry tyres again laps later.

On the lap 46 restart, Ericsson would lead the pack back to green on much older tyres before both Dixon who put himself back on the lead lap, and Herta would get by him in turn four. A few laps later Dixon would be put back down a lap by now race leader Herta. Ericsson would plummet down the order to 12th but would make a late race charge on the wet tyres to finish an impressive fourth place while Dixon would finish 10th on the lead lap.

Marcus Ericsson (right) ahead of Colton Herta (left) in turn two (Photo by Chris Owens/IndyCar Media)

A few laps into the run saw Harvey take out Grosjean in turn seven by knocking him off into the grass before scrambling back onto the track in 12th position.

Ed Carpenter Racing’s Conor Daly had started the race in fifth but in the first stint would drop back to 15th on a fuel saving strategy. Once it was clear the race would not end early, the strategy was scrapped and Daly would return to finish the race in fifth.

At the end of the race, Arrow McLaren SP’s Juan Pablo Montoya would bring out the race ending full course yellow after receiving heavy damage after losing control in turn 11. He had been running 7th after starting the race in 24th. This was some warm up for the Colombian’s Month of May and his third Indy 500 win attempt.

Juan Pablo Montoya (left) battling with Felix Rosenqvist (right) in the rain (Photo by Karl Zemlin)

Fellow Colombian Tatiana Calderón would finish in a record 15th place in what appeared to be a quiet race for the AJ Foyt Enterprises’s rookie.

The rookies of Ilott and Christian Lundgaard finished eighth and ninth but Lundgaard, on the soaking wet race track, managed to crash his race car after the race was over on the front straightaway.

Tatiana Calderón (left) battling with Christian Lundgaard (right) into turn one (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

Full race results: (1st) Colton Herta, (2nd) Simon Pagenaud, (3rd) Will Power, (4th) Marcus Ericsson, (5th) Conor Daly, (6th) Felix Rosenqvist, (7th) Takuma Sato, (8th) Callum Ilott, (9th) Christian Lundgaard, (10th) Scott Dixon, (11th) Alexander Rossi, (12th) David Malukas, (13th) Jack Harvey, (14th) Hélio Castroneves, (15th) Tatiana Calderón, (16th) Graham Rahal, (17th) Romain Grosjean, (18th) Álex Palou, (19th) Pato O’Ward, (20th) Scott McLaughlin, (21st) Devlin DeFrancesco, (22nd) Jimmie Johnson, (23rd) Rinus VeeKay, (24th) Juan Pablo Montoya, (25th) Josef Newgarden, (26th) Kyle Kirkwood, (27th) Dalton Kellett.

Top 10 in points standings: 1st Will Power (170), 2nd Álex Palou (156), 3rd Scott McLaughlin (152), 4th Josef Newgarden (140), 5th Scott Dixon (133), 6th Colton Herta (132), 7th Pato O’Ward (126), 8th Marcus Ericsson (117), Romain Grosjean (114), 10th Rinus VeeKay (113).

Featured Image: Colton Herta takes the checkered flag under yellow to win the 2022 Indy Grand Prix (Photo by Travis Hinkle/IndyCar Media)

Logano bump and runs his way to first Darlington victory!

Joey Logano bumped William Byron out of the way to take his first victory at Darlington Raceway in NASCAR’s Goodyear 400 on Sunday. With Byron getting ready to take the white flag heading into turn three, a faster Logano gave him a sizable shot in the rear shooting him up the race track and into the wall resulting in Logano flying past to take the win. Byron finished 13th.

With 26 to go, Byron had fended off Logano for the lead by squeezing him into the wall coming off turn two forcing Logano to lift off the gas.

Joey Logano (left), the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and William Byron (right), the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet, battling for the lead (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Facing a hostile crowd, Logano explained to FOX’s Regan Smith that the move was retaliation for it saying “You’re not going to put me in the wall and not get anything back, that’s how that works.”

Joey Logano facing the crowd at the start finish line and celebrating his first Darlington Cup win (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Logano ends his 40 winless streak in terms of championship points paying races, last winning the 2021 inaugural Bristol Dirt Race. The polesitter had either led or been at the front of the pack for the entire race, leading over 100 laps and had won stage one.

Logano was sporting a 1995 throwback paint scheme to his original quarter midget that had got him racing as a kid. In victory lane Logano said “This is the car where it all started for me back in ’95 in a quarter midget. Really, honestly, all the young kids racing out there right now, this could be you.”

Joey Logano celebrating in the Ruoff Mortgage victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Byron was upset with Logano’s driving saying to FOX’s Jamie Little: “He’s just an idiot. He slammed me so hard he knocked the whole right side off the car, and I couldn’t even make the corner. He didn’t even make it a contest. He’s just a moron.”

William Byron storms down pit road after a frustrating end to the race (Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/NASCAR Digital Media)

In honour of NASCAR’s annual throwback weekend for the race, Byron was sporting a Jeff Gordon 2007 Axalta paint scheme. The incident with Logano saw Jeff Gordon himself shaking his head in disbelief on pit road.

Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon (left) comforts William Byron (right) post-race on pit road (Photo by Jennifer Fisher/NASCAR Digital Media)

Tyler Reddick came up one place short of a win for a second time this season, but was under a second behind Logano when they crossed the finish line. With 15 to go, Reddick was attempting to make a late race charge for the win but was unable to find a way past Logano before Logano pulled away and began to close down Byron inside of five to go.

Tyler Reddick, the No. 8 3CHI Chevrolet, racing in the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Reddick had been one of few drivers who had broken the final stage up into thirds, instead of in half. Due to pitting early on in the final stage and being on fresher rubber for a while when everybody else had made their first pit stop, he cycled to the front of the pack to lead for a few laps. He would get overtaken on pit road by Logano under caution which had come out for Alex Bowman, who’s car was on fire that had to be put out on pit road.

Justin Haley earned an impressive first top-five of the season with a third place finish for him and Kaulig Racing. Haley’s strong performances at Talladega, Dover and now Darlington is making him quite the feel-good story of 2022.

Justin Haley climbing out of his No. 31 Chevrolet on pit road after his third place finish (Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/NASCAR Digital Media)

Kevin Harvick would finish fourth and grow his consecutive top-10 finishes at Darlington to 13, beating Bill Elliott’s record who was commentating in the FOX booth for the final part of the race. Harvick ran a special Rheem Chasing a Cure paint scheme for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Kevin Harvick, the No. 4 Rheem Chasing a Cure Ford, racing in the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott who started from the rear, came home to finish a well earned fifth place after battling hard with Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, and Erik Jones throughout much of the final part of the race.

The race proved to be one of attrition with race contenders Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. all falling out of contention or out of the race due to crashing during stage’s two and three.

Kyle Busch got collected by an out of control Brad Keselowski in the closing laps of stage two. Keselowski had wrecked after colliding with the turn two wall before coming back down the race track and spinning back across into Kyle Busch who was trying to keep out of his way running next to the backstretch wall. The impact buckled Kyle Busch’s wheel and suspension forcing him to retire. Busch had led laps in stage one after wrestling the lead away from Logano after a two lap duel. He had remained in the top five for much of the first half of the race.

Kyle Busch, the No.18 M&M’s Toyota, racing in the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Ross Chastain had been upfront for the first half of the race and had won stage two before spinning out by himself on the next restart after getting loose under Denny Hamlin for the lead coming out of turn two and consequently collided with the inside wall, ending his day.

Ross Chastain, the No. 1 Coca-Cola Chevrolet limps back to the garage area after heavy contact with the wall (Photo by Zack Albert/NASCAR Digital Media)

On lap 260 of 293, Martin Truex Jr. was the cause of a big multi-car crash on a restart involving eight cars including Kurt Busch, Bubba Wallace, Cole Custer, Erik Jones and Hamlin, after getting loose in the middle of three wide in turn two and backing up the field as he spun sideways across the track.

Hamlin, who restarted stage two with the lead and had recently retaken the lead of the race in stage three after getting by Logano before falling back into the field after a mistake on pit road, piled into the back of Jones who was caught up in the accident, ending his day.

Denny Hamlin, the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota, racing in the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

On lap 112, reigning champion Kyle Larson, who started second, had to retire due to an engine failure.

Full finishing order: (1st) Joey Logano, (2nd) Tyler Reddick, (3rd) Justin Haley, (4th) Kevin Harvick, (5th) Chase Elliott, (6th) Christopher Bell, (7th) Michael McDowell, (8th) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., (9th) Austin Dillon, (10th) Daniel Suárez, (11th) Aric Almirola, (12th) Ty Dillon, (13th) William Byron, (14th) Harrison Burton, (15th) Todd Gilliland, (16th) Chris Buescher, (17th) Ryan Blaney, (18th) Austin Cindric, (19th) Cody Ware, (20th) Chase Briscoe, (21st) Denny Hamlin, (22nd) Landon Cassill, (23rd) JJ Yeley, (24th) Martin Truex Jr., (25th) Erik Jones, (26th) Cole Custer, (27th) Bubba Wallace, (28th) Kurt Busch, (29th) Alex Bowman, (30th) Ross Chastain, (31st) Daniel Hemric, (32nd) BJ McLeod, (33rd) Kyle Busch, (34th) Brad Keselowski, (35th) Corey Lajoie, (36th) Kyle Larson.

Top 10 in points standings: 1st Chase Elliott (453), 2nd William Byron (388), 3rd Ryan Blaney (388), 4th Joey Logano (374), 5th Ross Chastain (364), 6th Kyle Busch (364), 7th Martin Truex Jr. (364), 8th Alex Bowman (357), 9th Kyle Larson (336), 10th Christopher Bell (327).

Featured Image: Joey Logano, the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Elliott outduels Chastain to win at Dover

Chase Elliott, after outdueling Ross Chastain, led the final 53 laps of the DuraMAX Drydene 400 at Dover Motor Speedway on Monday to get his first NASCAR Cup win of the season and end his 26 winless streak. It had been 46 races since Elliott’s last oval win; that being at Phoenix in 2020 when he won his first Cup championship.

Chase Elliott, the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

The final stage of the race had been led by Kyle Busch and Elliott’s Hendrick teammate Alex Bowman but an ill-timed caution with 77 laps to go when both were making their final green flag pit stops of the race, saw them both go a lap down and be forced to take the wave around under caution and start at the tail of the longest line. Bowman would bring the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet home in fifth with Kyle Busch finishing seventh.

2022 two-time winner Ross Chastain had assumed the lead of the race after the ill-timed caution but with 60 to go on a restart, he dueled side by side with Chase Elliott for three laps with neither giving an inch before another caution came out. The next restart saw Elliott power past Chastain on the inside and would lead from then on to take the checkered flag.

Talking to FOX’s Jamie Little, Elliott said they “had some good circumstances finally. We’ve had some tough races over the last four or five months” and also said it was great to get NAPA and Hendrick Motorsports back to victory lane.

Chase Elliott celebrates with pit crew/team (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Elliott joins the rest of his Hendrick teammates in being a 2022 Cup winner and comes out of Dover retaining the points lead in the regular season championship.

Elliott’s win has made history for Hendrick Motorsports by making them the first team to have four different drivers win a Cup race in the first 11 races of the season. Hendrick also had a one-two-three-four finish at Dover in the 2021 Cup race, which made it the fourth time in NASCAR history that the same organization swept the first four positions in a Cup race.

Chase Elliott (left) and crew crew chief Alan Gustafson (right) celebrate in victory lane with Miles the Monster trophy (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch led the most laps of the day, leading 133 of the 400 laps, but the ill-timed caution for a loose tyre out on the race track and loss of track position was too much for the birthday boy to overcome. It also ended Busch’s two for two streak of winning when a Cup race fell on his birthday.

Kyle Busch, the No. 18 M&M’s Crunchy Cookie Toyota, racing in the DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The race had originally got under way on Sunday afternoon, with pole sitter Chris Buescher leading the first 18 laps before being overtaken by Denny Hamlin. The caution came out on lap 68 for rain and ten laps later the red flag was brought out and the cars were parked on pit road. With the rain intensifying and Dover Motor Speedway not having any floodlights, NASCAR postponed the continuation of the race until Monday at noon.

The NASCAR Track Drying team (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

When they got going again after pit stops, Kyle Larson would take the lead of the race for a few laps before a caution would come out for a spinning Austin Cindric who lost the back end of his car coming out of turn two and would make contact with the outside wall. His day ultimately ended due to the team going over the six minute repair vehicle damage policy on pit road.

Elliott would take over the lead from Larson on the restart and would hold the lead until there were 10 laps to go in stage one when Hamlin would pass him on the inside and go on to win the stage.

Chase Elliott (front), the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and Denny Hamlin (behind), the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota, battling for position (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Hamlin would lose the lead during the stage break as Hamlin’s team made a costly mistake on pit road of not getting the lug nut on Hamlin’s left front tyre resulting in Hamlin having a race off pit road with his own tyre rolling alongside him and was consequently penalized and sent to the back of the field for the restart.

Stage two saw a roller-coaster of events. Ross Chastain would lead the first part of stage two before Kyle Larson spun in turn four and ended up backwards on the front straightaway, also blowing a tyre in the process.  Over halfway through stage two, with Chastain still leading, Kurt Busch would get tagged from behind by AJ Allmendinger out of turn two that would send him spinning on the back straightaway, making minor contact with the inside wall.

Kurt Busch, the No. 45 Monster Energy Toyota, spinning after the contact with AJ Allmendinger (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Under caution, Justin Haley, who had been legitimately been running inside the top five earlier in the stage, would stay out. A lap after the restart, Joey Logano would bring out the next caution after getting shoulder barged out of the way by Erik Jones heading into turn one, and ending up colliding with the turn one outside wall.

A few laps after the next restart, 2021 winner Bowman would relinquish the lead from Haley. With less than 40 to go Kyle Busch would take over the lead but a caution later inside of 15 to go saw his Joe Gibbs teammate Hamlin getting collected on the front straightaway by a spinning Cody Ware in front of him. Ryan Blaney would stay out on tyres when the rest of the field pitted and with three laps to go, was able to hold off Kyle Busch for the stage two win.

Ryan Blaney, the No. 12 Menards/Jack Links Ford, racing in the DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

In the final stage Kyle Busch would lead until the ill-timed caution sending him tumbling down the order. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would run inside the top five for the final stage and did so well as to bring home the No. 47 Frozen Farmer Chevrolet in second place, a huge day for JTG Daugherty Racing . He overtook Chastain for second place after Chastain had lost the lead to Elliott but was unable to get to Elliott, only closing the gap to 1.6 seconds within 30 to go after Elliott came upon lap traffic.

Kevin Harvick (front left), the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (front middle), the No. 47 Kroger/The Frozen Farmer Chevrolet, Christopher Bell (front right), the No. 20 DeWalt Toyota, Alex Bowman (back left), the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, and Justin Haley (back right), the No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet, racing in the DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

On the final lap, Ross Chastain find himself in trouble with Truex Jr., who he had been racing around for much of the race, when he came up to block him out of turn two. Truex Jr. made contact with Chastain’s rear before getting loose and spinning out, falling from fourth to 12th. On Chastain’s post-race interview with FOX’s Jamie Little, Chastain jokingly said “We were just talking about fishing there”.

Ross Chastain (left), the No. 1 Pitbull Tour 2022 Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr. (right), the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, racing side by side (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Full finishing order: (1st) Chase Elliott, (2nd) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., (3rd) Ross Chastain, (4th) Christopher Bell, (5th) Alex Bowman, (6th) Kyle Larson, (7th) Kyle Busch, (8th) Chris Buescher, (9th) Kevin Harvick, (10th) Erik Jones, (11th) Justin Haley, (12th) Martin Truex Jr., (13th) Chase Briscoe, (14th) Daniel Suárez, (15th) Cole Custer, (16th) Bubba Wallace, (17th) Michael McDowell, (18th) Corey Lajoie, (19th) Aric Almirola, (20th) Brad Keselowski, (21st) Denny Hamlin, (22nd) William Byron, (23rd) Austin Dillon, (24th) Harrison Burton, (25th) Ryan Preece, (26th) Ryan Blaney, (27th) Ty Dillon, (28th) Todd Gilliland, (29th) Joey Logano, (30th) Tyler Reddick, (31st) Kurt Busch, (32nd) Josh Bilicki, (33rd) AJ Allmendinger, (34th) Cody Ware, (35th) BJ McLeod, (36th) Austin Cindric.

Top 10 in points standings: 1st Chase Elliott (418), 2nd Ryan Blaney (368), 3rd William Byron (353), 4th Kyle Busch (353), 5th Alex Bowman (349), 6th Ross Chastain (338), 7th Martin Truex Jr. (336), 8th Kyle Larson (335), 9th Joey Logano (316), 10th Christopher Bell (284).

Featured Image: (Right) Chase Elliott, the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet and (left) Ross Chastain, the No. 1 Pitbull Tour 2022 Chevrolet, dueling for the lead (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

O’Ward has final say in Barber and wins the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Pato O’Ward on his out lap from his final pit stop, lap 62 of 90, sent it down the outside of leader Rinus VeeKay going into the turn four hairpin, who had led the entire race so far, and drove around the outside of him coming out of the hairpin to go on to win the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

O’Ward sending it down the outside to take lead away from VeeKay (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

VeeKay had led the first two thirds of the race, with O’Ward following closely behind the entire way and closed up to VeeKay on their final in-lap on lap 61, to bring the gap down to under a second entering the pits. O’Ward had the final say of the weekend, as while VeeKay had took the pole away from O’Ward in qualifying on Saturday, a fast final pit stop allowed O’Ward to close up to VeeKay on track and use push to pass on him going into turn five and get past on the inside. O’Ward would lead the rest of the race.

Álex Palou sneaked into second place via the final pit stop cycle and would hang onto O’Ward for the remainder of the race, only being less than two seconds behind, but would never close up to O’Ward. VeeKay would fall off the leaders pace falling back to 11 seconds but would hold off Will Power to claim the final podium stop.

Pato O’Ward running 1st, Álex Palou running 2nd, Rinus VeeKay running 3rd (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

O’Ward talking in victory lane about his move on Palou said: “I knew if I had the opportunity, it would have been right then and there. Once we did that, it was cruise to Victory Lane.” O’Ward is also trying to negotiate a better contract deal with Arrow McLaren SP. The race victory is sure to help O’Ward in doing so.

The 5 team celebrating in victory lane (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

Will Power had a remarkable recovery of a race after qualifying 19th to bring the Verizon Chevy home in fourth place. Power had been playing the long game and had taken good care of his tyres, allowing him to methodically work his way through the field. Scott Dixon as expected, quietly worked his from 13th all the way to fifth place by the end of the race.

Will Power racing in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

The race like previous editions, was a battle between the two stop and the three stop strategies. Josef Newgarden, Colton Herta, Romain Grosjean and Marcus Ericsson were the front runners trying to make the three stop strategy work, pitting as early as lap 11 compared to the race leaders on the two stop strategy pitting around lap 30.

The viability of the three stop strategy would end on lap 33 however when Callum Ilott, battling with Helio Castroneves for 13th place, on the outside overshot turn seven and went for a spin, ending up stuck in the gravel trap, bringing out the full course yellow.

Callum Ilott racing in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

The three stoppers were forced to pit under the caution to stay competitive with the two stoppers and would have to come from the back to try to gain as many positions as possible by the end. Herta and Newgarden were the fast chargers for the first few laps until Herta would leave Newgarden behind who was getting stuck in traffic while Herta would work his way inside the top 10. The final pit stop cycle saw Herta find a new gear. While Newgarden stagnated in the midfield in 14th place, Herta made a hard charge all the way up to 7th, often by divebombing down the inside of cars in turn 16.

Josef Newgarden and Colton Herta on a charge both getting past Tatiana Calderón (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

Being overly ambitious, Herta on lap 74, came from far back and sent it down the inside of McLaughlin in the turn four hairpin only to run out of space due to a turning McLaughlin, and ended up spinning out off McLaughlin’s left rear tyre and went for a full 360 degree spin before getting it going again. Herta would fall back to 10th place as a result.

On lap 40, Helio Castroneves took out Jimmie Johnson in turn nine, after getting way too hot into the sequence of corners and collected and spun out an unsuspecting Johnson. Castroneves was only told to give the place back by race control.

Romain Grosjean would get into a scrap with Graham Rahal in the closing laps. After reporting that Rahal was cutting him off in the turn four and five hairpin, he went down the inside of Rahal again, and side swiped Rahal aggressively twice coming out of turn five while failing to take the position.

Rahal immediately came on the radio and said “This guy is a punk. He hit me on purpose”. On the final lap, Rahal would begin running out of fuel, allowing Grosjean to slip past him for 7th place in turn five after all. Rahal would finish 8th.

Heading into turn four hairpin. Left hand side front Jimmie Johnson, behind Colton Herta, behind Simon Pagenaud, right hand side front Graham Rahal, behind Alexander Rossi (Photo by Chris Owens/IndyCar Media)

The race results see O’Ward move from ninth to fifth in the championship standings while Palou takes over the championship lead from Newgarden who dropped to third in the standings, with his Penske teammate McLaughlin holding down second.

The upcoming races sees the Month of May really get under way for the NTT IndyCar Series with the GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the 14th May and the double-points paying 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 on the 29th May.

Full race results: (1st) Pato O’Ward, (2nd) Álex Palou, (3rd) Rinus VeeKay, (4th) Will Power, (5th) Scott Dixon, (6th) Scott McLaughlin, (7th) Romain Grosjean, (8th) Graham Rahal, (9th) Alexander Rossi, (10th) Colton Herta, (11th) Simon Pagenaud, (12th) Marcus Ericsson, (13th) Takuma Sato, (14th) Josef Newgarden, (15th) Christian Lundgaard, (16th) Felix Rosenqvist, (17th) Devlin DeFrancesco, (18th) Jack Harvey, (19th) Conor Daly, (20th) David Malukas, (21st) Hélio Castroneves, (22nd) Kyle Kirkwood, (23rd) Dalton Kellett, (24th) Jimmie Johnson, (25th) Callum Ilott, (26th) Tatiana Calderón.

Top 10 in points standings: 1st Álex Palou (144), 2nd Scott McLaughlin (141), 3rd Josef Newgarden (135), 4th Will Power (134), 5th Pato O’Ward (114), 6th Scott Dixon (113), 7th Rinus VeeKay (106), 8th Romain Grosjean (101), 9th Marcus Ericsson (84), 10th Graham Rahal (84).

Featured Image: Pato O’Ward celebrating his first Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama win (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

VeeKay outperforms O’Ward to score second career pole at Barber Motorsports Park

Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus Veekay followed up topping practice two by bagging his second career pole at Barber Motorsports Park out doing Arrow McLaren SP, Ganassi, Penske and Andretti. VeeKay’s blistering final lap of a 1:06.2507 prevented Pato O’Ward from going back to back for pole position. O’Ward qualified second with a 1:06.4003 but said to NBC that a mistake in one corner cost him pole.

Pato O’Ward out on track (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

VeeKay speaking to NBC about his feelings towards tomorrow’s race said his “confidence is high”. The last time VeeKay put his ECR Chevrolet on pole, was at the Indianapolis Road Course in 2020, a race track he won at in 2021 after managing to pass Romain Grosjean, scoring his first IndyCar Series win.

Rinus VeeKay heading into turn nine (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

Álex Palou and Scott McLaughlin qualified third and fourth respectively, both of whom were consistently the fastest drivers out of their respective team camps heading into qualifying after two practice sessions.

From a smashed up Andretti Honda in practice only three hours before after overcorrecting and colliding with the turn 17 guard rail, Alexander Rossi made the Firestone fast six and qualified an impressive fifth place. Rossi’s car had been pushed hurriedly out of the paddock with him already in the car to even make qualifying. Felix Rosenqvist qualified sixth making McLaren SP the only team to have more than one car in the fast six on a day where Andretti and Ganassi were expected to make up the majority of the field in the session.

Alexander Rossi out on track (Photo by Chris Owens/IndyCar Media)

What contributed to the shuffling up of drivers who made up the fast 12 and the fast six, was a series of red flags that ended the earlier qualifying sessions with time to spare, cancelling out any hot laps drivers were currently on. In round one, group two rookie David Malukas brought out the red flag with less than a minute to go after getting loose coming over the hill into turn 15 and instead went off the track and collided with the outside guard rail.

Even more unfortunate was when Marcus Ericsson got beached in the turn nine gravel trap at the very end of the fast 12 session, ending many driver’s flying laps. Colton Herta who had been at the top of the board for much of the session until late on, instead had to settle for 10th place after having gone out for his final hot lap later than he expected it. Talking to NBC, Herta said “Ericsson ruined it for us”. Ericsson was 9th before being relegated to 12th in the session for bringing out the red flag.

Colton Herta standing by his pit box (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

Newgarden and Grosjean faced the same fate, instead qualifying seventh and eighth. Grosjean was expected to be making a run for pole for tomorrow’s race and had been hitting the top of the board throughout qualifying, while it was anticipated that Newgarden, the three-time Barber winner, would make the top five.

British rookie Callum Ilott and Juncos Hollinger Racing would have a breakout day qualifying 11th. Ilott had also been on a quicker lap when the red flag came out but said to NBC that he was very happy to have qualified as well as they had.

Callum Ilott out on track (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

A major upset in round one, group one saw Scott Dixon only manage seventh in the session and Will Power, the four-time Barber pole sitter who was fighting understeer in the car, only manage an 11th place. Dixon and Power will start 13th and 19th for tomorrow’s race.

Meyer Shank Racing had a challenging qualifying session. Hélio Castroneves while not making it out of round one, group two, finishing in eighth place, would also go for a spin coming out of turn nine after lighting up the rears on a flying lap at the end of the session, and ended up facing backwards on the inside grass patch. Teammate Simon Pagenaud only managed 12th in the session. Castroneves and Pagenaud will start 16th and 24th respectively.

The full qualifying order: Rinus VeeKay (1st), Pato O’Ward (2nd), Álex Palou (3rd), Scott McLaughlin (4th), Alexander Rossi (5th), Felix Rosenqvist (6th), Josef Newgarden (7th), Romain Grosjean (8th), Graham Rahal (9th), Colton Herta (10th), Callum Ilott (11th), Marcus Ericsson (12th), Scott Dixon (13th), Christian Lundgaard (14th), Jack Harvey (15th), Hélio Castroneves (16th), Takuma Sato (17th), David Malukas (18th), Will Power (19th), Devlin DeFrancesco (20th), Kyle Kirkwood (21st), Conor Daly (22nd), Dalton Kellett (23rd), Simon Pagenaud (24th), Tatiana Calderón (25th), and Jimmie Johnson (26th).

ECR’s Rinus Veekay and McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward will lead the field to green at 12:15 Central Time tomorrow for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. 

Featured Image: Rinus VeeKay celebrating with the NTT P1 Award (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media) 

IndyCar Race Weekend Preview: Barber Motorsports Park

After a three week break, the IndyCar series are back for the fourth round of the NTT IndyCar Series Championship, at the fast-flowing and twisty Barber Motorsports Park, the racing circuit located in Birmingham, Alabama.

The IndyCar series will race around the 2.3-mile, 17-turn circuit for 90 laps, a total of 207 miles. This will be the 12th edition of the event, with Chip Ganassi’s Álex Palou winning the 2021 race, his first career win on his debut for Chip Ganassi Racing which made it the perfect start to his 2021 championship-winning campaign.

Álex Palou racing in the 2021 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

This the final race before the month of May and the Indy Grand Prix (14th May) and the double points paying Indy 500 (29th May), but technically the Alabama race is being held on Sunday 1st May this time around.

The race weekend schedule is as follows. The first practice session of the weekend took place on Friday, which saw Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta, top the charts with a lap time of 1:06.5149. Meanwhile, it appeared Josef Newgarden, a three-time winner of the race, had issues, managing only 18th in practice one.

Colton Herta in Friday’s practice session (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

Saturday sees a 45-minute practice session at 9am Central Time (CT), followed by the traditional knockout qualifying session at 12pm CT. There will be a final 30-minute practice session at 4:20pm CT.

While IndyCar have provided the teams and drivers with a healthy amount of practice for the race, it may not be as useful as first thought, as the state of Alabama are due scattered rain showers and storms on Sunday which may reach the track during the race. This has the making for it to be one of the most exciting and unpredictable races of the season yet.

Sunday sees the 12th edition of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama go green at 12:15pm CT.

Going into the race weekend, Josef Newgarden leads the championship by five points, after winning his first Long Beach Grand Prix, over Team Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin. Despite winning three times at Barber, Josef Newgarden had a nightmarish 2021 race when he got loose coming over the hill after turn four, before getting onto the grass and spinning wildly across the track, ending his day and taking out Colton Herta and Ryan Hunter-Reay in the process.

First lap crash triggered by Newgarden in the 2021 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (Photo by Chris Owens/IndyCar Media)

If Josef Newgarden does win the race this weekend, he will claim the PeopleReady Force For Good Challenge’s $1 million prize. This challenge tasks drivers to win on each type of track during the 2022 season; that being an oval, a street course and a road course/circuit. After consecutive wins at Texas Motor Speedway and Long Beach, Newgarden is just left with a circuit to tick off to win the grand prize. The win on a circuit such as Barber this weekend would earn him a $500,000 bonus and a matching $500,000 donation for his charities, Wags and Walks Nashville and SeriousFun Children’s Network.

Fifth place in the standings Scott Dixon, will be hoping to finally go one place higher on the podium and capture his first victory at Barber Motorsports Park, having been runner up in the race six times, and finishing third or better in nine of the last 11 races there, including third in 2021.

Scott Dixon celebrating with race winner and teammate Álex Palou on the podium after the 2021 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (Photo by Chris Owens/IndyCar Media)

In qualifying, Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward will be looking to repeat last years feat of not only taking the pole position but beating the track record with a lap time of 1:05.5019. Four-time Barber pole sitter Will Power will be looking to make it five poles, last doing so in 2017.

Pato O’Ward taking the NTT P1 pole award for the 2021 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (Photo by Chris Owens/IndyCar Media)

Twenty-six drivers are entered for the race weekend, the same roster of drivers from Long Beach, with all six rookies, Calderon, DeFrancesco, Ilott, who went eighth fastest in Friday’s practice session, Kirkwood, Lundgaard and Malukas who won the second Indy Light’s race at Barber last year, set to compete in their first Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

Callum Ilott in Friday’s practice session (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

Aside from three-time winner Josef Newgarden who won in 2018, 2017, and 2015, and reigning race winner Álex Palou, active race winners include two-time winner Will Power who won in 2011 and 2012, Takuma Sato in 2019, Simon Pagenaud in 2016 and Helio Castroneves in 2010.

Don’t miss the potentially rain-filled action thriller on Sunday. The green flag flies at 12:15pm CT.

Featured Image: The start of the 2021 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

 

Josef Newgarden outsmarts competitors to win his first Long Beach Grand Prix

Josef Newgarden, after leapfrogging the leaders during the final pit cycle, held off Romain Grosjean and Álex Palou for the final 15 laps to finally win his first Long Beach Grand Prix after two previous runner-up finishes.

A three car battle for the lead, Newgarden, Grosjean and Palou, inside 15 to go (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

On lap 59 Newgarden who had ran inside the top three all race long, came out of pit road squeezing just ahead of Palou, holding onto the lead after staying out an extra lap. Palou went side by side with Newgarden in turns four and five, but Newgarden prevailed on the inside.

Simon Pagenaud attempted some mid-race landscaping when he drove into the dolphin fountain garden and got stuck facing the wrong way, bringing out the caution inside of 25 to go 

Grosjean then joined the battle for the lead overtaking Palou inside of 20 laps to down the front straightaway. Newgarden had to fend off Grosjean again on another restart with five to go going two-wide on the inside into turn one. Newgarden led Grosjean single file into the fountain turn and despite Grosjean sticking with Newgarden on the softer red tyre, he would not find a way past running out of push to pass while Newgarden had four seconds to spare and would finish the race in first after a yellow ended the race early with half a lap to go due to Takuma Sato crashing into the turn eight tyre wall.

From left to right: Romain Grosjean, Josef Newgarden, and Alex Palou on the podium (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

Talking to NBC in victory lane, Newgarden said “I’ve been trying to win here for 11 years so I’m so glad to finally get it done.”

From hometown hero to hometown horror, it was Colton Herta who should have been up at the front and had been leading the first half of the race comfortably over Newgarden and Palou.

Instead while pushing hard on what appeared to be his in-lap for his final pit stop, Herta bounced over the turn nine curb and under-steered into the wall breaking his front wing and suspension putting an immediate end to his quest for consecutive Long Beach Grand Prix wins.

The terminal damage to Colton Herta’s Andretti Honda (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

Herta had led the first 30 laps or so controlling the pace of the race, maintaining a consistent two second gap over Newgarden and Palou, the three of which had checked out from the rest of the field. Palou did the overcut during the first cycle of pit stops, going from third to first after his Chip Ganassi Racing pit crew did a fast pit stop of 7.5 seconds compared with Herta’s 9.1 and Newgarden’s eight.

Colton Herta leading the field to green (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

Palou came out with a 2.7 second lead over Newgarden who had successfully done the overcut on Herta. Herta’s crash at the end of his second stint, after a determined effort to gain time on his in-lap like Palou did over Newgarden, was reminiscent of his crash at last year’s Nashville race where he was trying to hunt down leader Marcus Ericsson in the closing laps, before carrying too much speed off the bridge and ended up slamming into the tyre wall.

Second place Romain Grosjean had a phenomenal race weekend and was laps away from potentially winning his first IndyCar race. Grosjean had been on course to take pole away from Andretti teammate Herta on Saturday before overdriving the car into the turn five tyre wall.

Starting from sixth on the grid, he had battled through the field and joined the leaders inside the final 20 lap but Jimmie Johnson’s crash with eight to go put a huge dent in his plans to overtake Newgarden and would instead only have five laps left to do so on worn softer tyres with no push to pass. Grosjean came to the checkered flag in Newgarden’s mirrors.

Romain Grosjean racing in the Long Beach Grand Prix (Photo by Chris Owens/IndyCar Media)

Some early front runners faced issues that saw them end up around the bottom end of the top 10. Felix Rosenqvist started fourth but on lap 21 Alexander Rossi came steaming into turn one and hip checked Rosenqvist. Both appeared to have just gotten away with the collision but Rosenqvist’s fast pace would drop off following the coming together and would drop to as low to 14th place but ended up finishing 11th. Rossi would also quickly lose places to Marcus Ericsson and Grosjean and would finish eighth.

From right to left: Felix Rosenqvist, Alexander Rossi, Marcus Ericsson and Romain Grosjean racing around the dolphin fountain (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

Will Power along with Rosenqvist’s teammate Pato O’Ward while having no answer for the top three, would quietly make their way up the field to finish fourth and fifth due to a consistently fast race pace and staying out of trouble. Scott Dixon through the use of an aggressive undercut pit-stop strategy, would work his way to sixth after starting 16th. Dixon would be the first to pit on lap 22 as well as for his second stop, spending the most time in clean air during the race, and cycled to fifth after the first set of pit stops.

A.J. Foyt Enterprises’ cars would prove to have a very respectable race through consistency and staying out of trouble. Kyle Kirkwood would finish 10th, making him the highest finishing rookie, while Tatiana Calderón would finish an impressive 16th after starting 26th in just her second IndyCar start.

Tatiana Calderón racing in the Long Beach Grand Prix (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

For much of the field, the race proved to be a race of attrition, with spins and collisions on a track that had the largest marbles seen at an IndyCar race for years. This was believed to be down to the significantly softer tyre that Firestone had brought to the IndyCar series this year compared with previous seasons that the street course devoured as the laps went by.

Dalton Kellett would retire early from the race after ending up in the turn one tyre wall on lap six. On lap 34, championship points leader Scott McLaughlin would clip the inside wall of turn 11 with his sidepod but completed an amazing spin around in front of the blind corner. He continued on to finish 14th but consequently lost the points lead to Newgarden.

Scott McLaughlin racing in the Long Beach Grand Prix (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

Devlin DeFrancesco would not be so fortunate as he too like Herta would drive into the turn nine wall but on his out-lap at the end of his second stint before spinning in turn 11 with terminal damage after attempting to get back to pit road. With 19 to go, Ericsson would collide with the turn four wall and spin across the track, getting collected by teammate Dixon who had nowhere to go. Ericsson would be forced to retire immediately while Dixon managed to keep going with no repairs needed.

Full finishing order: (1st) Josef Newgarden, (2nd) Romain Grosjean, (3rd) Álex Palou, (4th) Will Power, (5th) Pato O’Ward, (6th) Scott Dixon, (7th) Graham Rahal, (8th) Alexander Rossi, (9th) Hélio Castroneves, (10th) Kyle Kirkwood, (11th) Felix Rosenqvist, (12th) Conor Daly, (13th) Rinus Veekay, (14th) Scott McLaughlin, (15th) Jack Harvey, (16th) Tatiana Calderón, (17th) Takuma Sato, (18th) Christian Lundgaard, (19th) Simon Pagenaud, (20th) Jimmie Johnson, (21st) David Malukas, (22nd) Marcus Ericsson, (23rd) Colton Herta, (24th) Callum Ilott, (25th) Devlin DeFrancesco, (26th) Dalton Kellett.

Top 10 in points standings: 1st Josef Newgarden (118), 2nd Scott McLaughlin (113), 3rd Álex Palou (103), 4th Will Power (102), 5th Scott Dixon (83), 6th Romain Grosjean (75), 7th Rinus VeeKay (67), 8th Marcus Ericsson (66), 9th Pato O’Ward (63), 10th Graham Rahal (60).

Featured Image: Josef Newgarden celebrating in victory lane (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

Colton Herta smashes track record and claims pole at Long Beach

Hometown driver Colton Herta smashed the track record this afternoon, held by Hélio Castroneves, by nearly a second with a 1:05.3095 securing pole position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Long Beach. Herta is starting where he finished off last year’s event, where he won the 2021 Grand Prix of Long Beach and is now set to go back to back.

Herta had been flying for all of qualifying. The Andretti Autosport driver, born just 60 miles away from the track, topped the round one, group one session with a 1:05.73, and then replicated this in round two with a 1:05.41. Talking to NBC, Herta said “The car was so fast. Honda have been spectacular.”

Colton Herta racing around the fountain (Photo by Chris Owens/IndyCar Media)

Herta’s teammates were also blisteringly fast. In both of Herta’s sessions, Alexander Rossi had finished second while Romain Grosjean had topped the round 1, group 2 session with a 1:05.75.

Alexander Rossi racing around the fountain (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

Going into the Firestone Fast Six, it looked like it was Andretti Autosport’s destiny to lock out the top three positions for tomorrow’s race but while Grosjean was on a flying lap and on course to go quicker than Herta, he tagged the wall coming out of turn four, broke a suspension tow link, and with a loss in steering crashed the Honda into the turn five tyre wall, bringing out the red flag.

After the red flag was lifted with just two seconds of the session left, IndyCar followed the rulebook and allowed the drivers to complete one flying lap but Rossi did not go out again and would settle for fifth after Grosjean got demoted to sixth for having brought out the red flag. Talking to NBC regarding the incident, Grosjean said “Worst case scenario is sixth so just send it right?” Grosjean had been fastest in practice two earlier in the day.

Through all the chaos towards the end of the Firestone Fast Six, Josef Newgarden found himself having qualifying second. Álex Palou qualified third, and Felix Rosenqvist fourth. Palou won the IndyCar championship last year at Long Beach who hosted the final race of the season, after finishing fourth.

Josef Newgarden out qualifying (Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media)

Team Penske had been the challenger to Andretti Autosport over the race weekend, but it had appeared that championship leader Scott McLaughlin had the edge over teammate Newgarden, going third fastest in practice one and eigth fastest in practice two however he was affected by a build up of traffic at the turn 11 hairpin where drivers had been backing up the field somewhat throughout qualifying.

During the round two session, McLaughlin had let Marcus Ericsson past but Ericsson felt his lap was compromised and backed off before going side by side with McLaughlin around turn 10 heading to the hairpin compromising McLaughlin’s next flying lap. McLaughlin would qualify ninth.

Scott McLaughlin out qualifying (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

A similar incident occurred for Will Power where he felt he had also been impeded and missed out on the fast six and instead will have to start seventh for tomorrow’s race. It was even more painful for Pato O’Ward who was more than on course for making the fast six before going wide at the turn 11 hairpin and missed out by 0.005 of a second.

A big name of the weekend missing from the top six was Simon Pagenaud, who had been fastest in practice one and fifth in practice two. He had gone second fastest in round one, group two with a 1:05.89 but in round two, Pagenaud would only manage 10th.

Scott Dixon would only manage 16th while Kyle Kirkwood was the highest qualifying rookie in 12th and had been mixing it up in the top 10 during practice and qualifying.

The two round one group sessions some saw some close shaves as well as crashes. Jimmie Johnson, who was nursing a broken bone in his right hand from yesterday’s practice crash, crashed into the turn one tyre wall after missing the apex of the corner. The frustrated Californian yelled “Dammit, dammit, dammit!” on the radio. Before this, Johnson had been penalized for interference with Graham Rahal in turn one and would not advance to the next session.

Jimmie Johnson in the turn one tyre wall (Photo by Chris Owens/IndyCar Media)

Rookie David Malukas would slide into the tyre wall opposite the fountain bringing out the red flag, but would continue and qualify 19th.

David Malukas sliding into the tyre wall opposite the fountain (Photo by Chris Jones/IndyCar Media)

Conor Daly’s car was damaged after tagging the turn eight wall and would have to come down pit road.

Rosenqvist locked up over the bump heading into turn nine and had to take the escape road while Ericsson nearly flung his Huski Chocolate Honda into the turn five tyre wall while on his flying lap.

The green flag for the Grand Prix of Long Beach flies at 3pm ET on Sunday.

The full qualifying results are as follows: Colton Herta (1st), Josef Newgarden (2nd), Álex Palou (3rd), Felix Rosenqvist (4th), Alexander Rossi (5th), Romain Grosjean (6th), Will Power (7th), Marcus Ericsson (8th), Scott McLaughlin (9th), Simon Pagenaud (10th), Pato O’Ward (11th), Kyle Kirkwood (12th), Graham Rahal (13th), Hélio Castroneves (14th), Rinus VeeKay (15th), Scott Dixon (16th), Devlin DeFrancesco (17th), Conor Daly (18th), David Malukas (19th), Christian Lundgaard (20th), Jack Harvey (21st), Callum Ilott (22nd), Takuma Sato (23rd), Dalton Kellett (24th), Jimmie Johnson (25th), Tatiana Calderón (26th).

Virginia native Denny Hamlin captures fourth Richmond victory

Denny Hamlin took the lead with five laps to go and held off Kevin Harvick to win his fourth Richmond Cup race in his native state of Virginia.

NASCAR’s Toyota Owners 400 race came down to a split strategy showdown in the closing laps. Third place Denny Hamlin and fourth place Kevin Harvick were on a two stop strategy for the final stage of the race while leaders William Byron and Martin Truex Jr. had split the final stage in half.

As sun began to set and the laps got down to single digits, Hamlin was catching Byron by a second a lap, with Byron being on much older tyres. Byron had held a four second gap over Truex Jr with 25 to go but this began shrinking significantly inside 15 to go. Hamlin flew by Truex with six to go and sped by Byron on the inside on lap 396 of 400 to take the lead away. Harvick did appear to be catching Hamlin with two to go but after Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola got out of the way on the back straightaway on the final lap, Hamlin set sail for the checkered flag.

Denny Hamlin passes William Byron for the lead inside of five to go (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

After a roller-coaster start to the season, this was not just Hamlin’s first win of the year but his first top-10 finish of the season after seven races. This was also Toyota’s first Cup win of the season and was rather appropriate being the title sponsor of the race.

Denny Hamlin celebrating in victory lane (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

There were nearly more green flag pit stop cycles completed today than the first six races combined. Long green flag runs is often the way with Richmond and Sunday’s race was no exception. This gave extra weight to the two stop versus one stop strategies that played out during stage two and the final stage of the race but ultimately fresher tyres came out on top; partly due to Truex Jr. and Byron wearing each other out and faster lap down cars on fresher tyres taking away the inside lane that they wanted to run, allowing Hamlin and Harvick to gain more time on them.

It was a stellar day for the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota’s overall with all four running in the top seven at one point. Truex Jr. had worked his way to the front from the drop of the green flag and won stage two on the one stop strategy, the same strategy that arguably cost him the win in addition to getting stuck behind the wake of Byron’s Hendrick Chevrolet for the last 100 laps. This is despite being on 10 lap fresher tyres.

Martin Truex Jr. leading at Richmond (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch had worked his way to fourth but was black flagged with 50 laps to go for having tape over his grille that cost him a top-5 finish. Kyle Busch’s crew chief claimed the tape had been on there for 200 laps and were frustrated with NASCAR’s call in forcing them down pit road to remove it. Christopher Bell had led the field in the second quarter of the race and came home sixth.

The first quarter of the race was the Ryan Blaney show however. After securing the pole he led the first 100 laps and won stage one with Byron finishing second, before losing the lead in stage two. Last week’s winner Ross Chastain did not make friends with Blaney during the race. While fighting inside the top five towards the end of stage two, Blaney drove up alongside Chastain and pushed the watermelon man up the race track in turns three and four. Chastain returned the favour and pushed Blaney into turn one before Blaney veered to the right to a loss of grip and Chastain retook the position. Blaney had the final laugh as he gave Chastain a little shot into turn three late on in the race in and got by.

Ryan Blaney leading the field at the start of the race (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Team Penske teammate Joey Logano had made it up to second halfway through the race but the team’s jack became jammed underneath his car and would lose track position and only manage to recover to a top-20 finish.

The Roush Fenway Keselowski racing car’s of Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher had a good outing and were fighting for a top-10 spot for much of the race.

There would be a couple of crashes during the race. Lap 245 would see an caution a few laps after the start of the final stage due to a crash between Cody Ware, Erik Jones and Ricky Stenhouse Jr that left all parties upset. On lap 260 there would be another caution after contact between Austin Cindric and Cole Custer, causing Cindric to spin out. This was triggered after Ty Dillon had washed up into Custer in turn two as he came slightly down.

Part two of the Virginia tour takes place at Martinsville Speedway under the lights this Saturday night; another track that Hamlin has had great success at, winning five Cup series races at the half mile paperclip.

Top 10 finishing order of the Toyota Owners 400 

  1. Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  2. Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing Ford)
  3. William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
  4. Martin Truex Jr (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  5. Kyle Larson (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
  6. Christopher Bell (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  7. Ryan Blaney (Team Penske Ford)
  8. Alex Bowman (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
  9. Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  10. Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet)  

Featured Image: Denny Hamlin celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

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