Martin Truex Jr. wins caution-filled Clash at the Coliseum

Martin Truex Jr. led the final 25 laps holding off the chasing Richard Childress Racing duo of Austin Dillon and former teammate Kyle Busch to win the 150-lap Clash at the LA Coliseum under the lights.

Truex Jr. spent most of the race up front alongside Toyota teammate Bubba Wallace who led 40 laps including leading going into the halftime break after a two-lap shootout holding off Dillon. With seven laps to go Dillon dumped Wallace in turn one fighting over second place as Truex pulled away. Wallace ended up finishing 22nd.

 

Truex stated that there was a “lot of fire in my belly to change what we did last year” in reference to going winless in the 2022 season and just missing making the playoffs.

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, celebrates after winning the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

It’s a complete reversal of last year’s inaugural clash at the LA Coliseum where the 2017 Cup champion barely made the main event, was unable to pass and spun on his own on the final lap. Truex said Sunday’s race day from winning heat two before the main race onwards has been “a huge confidence booster” now going into Daytona.

A new and unexpected addition for NASCAR fans to this year’s Clash at the LA Coliseum was the top three drivers receiving honorary “Clash” medals post-race, in what was a nod to the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games previously held at the Coliseum, as opposed to just the race winner receiving a trophy. Truex additionally was awarded with a separate Clash trophy.

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, (centre) winner, Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Get Bioethanol Chevrolet, (right) second place and Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 8 BetMGM Chevrolet, (left) third place pose for photos on the podium after the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Dillon’s new teammate and two-time champion Kyle Busch experienced getting moved himself when with 65 laps to go, reigning champion Joey Logano drove deep into turn three and tagging Busch, spinning him around. Not at all pleased with the Team Penske driver’s actions Busch said post-race “Logano didn’t get hit by nobody. He just flat-out drove through me, so he’s got another one coming. I owe him a few.” Busch then impressively drove back up through the field from 25th to second before relinquishing the position to Dillon with four laps to go.

Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 BetMGM Chevrolet, spins after an on-track incident as Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Ross Chastain, driver of the #1 Worldwide Express Chevrolet, pass during the NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Busch’s climb back through the field was all the more impressive given that this year’s race at the Coliseum dealt out 16 cautions, over three times as many compared with last year’s five, including being bombarded with yellows during the middle third of the race with many cars spinning out including AJ Allmendinger, Denny Hamlin, Ty Gibbs, and Kevin Harvick after being tagged, attempting to race around the extremely tight quarters arena.

Busch post-race said “we were spoiled” by last year’s race with Dillon adding there was “much more parody” this time around with the teams and drivers being more familiar with the track. Most of the race was also ran under the lights increasing the overall grip for the drivers compared to last year’s daytime running of the event.

A general view of confetti after the conclusion of the NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Busch went on to say that if they had used the old generation car in Sunday’s race, half of the radiators would have been knocked out with Hendrick Motorsport’s Kyle Larson adding that the current generation car is much stiffer and stronger in comparison.

It was actually New England’s Ryan Preece “Lightning” who led the most laps with 43 but shortly after getting bumped out of the way for the lead by Truex Jr. with 25 to go, his car experienced a temporary electrical problem and quickly fell back to fifth; Preece finished seventh. Preece had been Stewart-Haas Racing’s reserve driver in 2022 after competing full-time for three seasons for JTG Daugherty Racing.

Ryan Preece, driver of the #41 United Rentals Ford, drives during the NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Preece climbed through the stock car ranks by dominating on the short tracks in the New England region so Truex was “not shocked at all” to see him leading at the quarter-mile mile track despite being out of a full-time Cup ride last year.

Pole-sitter Aric Almirola led the opening 16 laps before being overtaken by Denny Hamlin. By lap 67 however he found himself being lapped by then leader Bubba Wallace.

It was a short lived race for Legacy Motor Club’s Erik Jones, previously known as Petty GMS Racing in 2022, after he made contact with Kevin Harvick, damaging the toe link, forcing him to retire.

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, and Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford, race during the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Photo by Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images)

Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney had a rough ride of a race after being spun out twice, the first time in turn one in the opening stage of the race, with the second incident seeing him end up backwards in the turn two wall while running ninth.

Ty Gibbs and Todd Gilliland crossed swords for several laps knocking into each other’s fenders before on lap 43 AJ Allmendinger, an innocent bystander, would get wiped out by Gilliland after Gibbs ran into the back of him. Gilliland would then spin out Harvick on lap 72 before having the favour returned with 69 laps to go. Gibbs would retire with suspension damage.

Another draw for fans attending the Clash was the pre-race entertainment as well as the Clash’s halftime show. Cypress Hill performed ahead of pre-race ceremonies that had many bobbing their heads to the multi-platinum hip hop group.

The halftime show lived up to expectations with Wiz Khalifa performing a selection of his best hits including “Black and Yellow.”

As NASCAR celebrates its 75th anniversary, the biggest race of the season, the 65th running of the Daytona 500 is less than two weeks away, with the Daytona Duels taking place on February 16th starting at 7pm ET and the green flag for the Daytona 500 flying on February 19th at 2:30pm ET. You don’t wanna miss it!

Full race results  

  1. Martin Truex Jr.
  2. Austin Dillon
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Alex Bowman
  5. Kyle Larson
  6. Tyler Reddick
  7. Ryan Preece
  8. Ross Chastain
  9. Denny Hamlin
  10. William Byron
  11. Justin Haley
  12. Kevin Harvick
  13. Christopher Bell
  14. Noah Gragson
  15. Chase Briscoe
  16. Joey Logano
  17. Ryan Blaney
  18. Aric Almirola
  19. Daniel Suárez
  20. AJ Allmendinger
  21. Chase Elliott
  22. Bubba Wallace
  23. Todd Gilliland
  24. Michael McDowell
  25. Austin Cindric
  26. Ty Gibbs
  27. Erik Jones

Heat Winners

Heat 1 winner – Aric Almirola

Heat 2 winner – Martin Truex Jr.

Heat 3 winner – Denny Hamlin

Heat 4 winner – William Byron

First last chance qualifying race – Michael McDowell

Second last chance qualifying race – Chase Elliott

Featured Image: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, celebrates with the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Clash at The Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Erik Jones stuns playoff field by winning second Southern 500

Erik Jones inherited the lead with just over 20 laps to go after Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch both dropped out of the race due to engine issues. Jones then defiantly held off three-time Southern 500 winner Denny Hamlin to win his second Southern 500.

This is Jones’ third career win, last winning the 2019 Southern 500 when he himself raced for Joe Gibbs Racing. This is the first win for the Maury Gallagher group who partnered with Richard Petty in the 2021 offseason to form Petty GMS Racing.

Erik Jones, driver of the No. 43 FOCUSfactor Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 04, 2022. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

It was exactly 55 years to the day for when the last time the 43 car won the Southern 500 which was with Richard Petty himself on September 4th 1967. 

Ironically, it was the two JGR cars and former teammates of Truex Jr. and Busch that handed the lead to Jones in what Jones described as a “gift from above” and had to hold off JGR’s Denny Hamlin to win the race in what felt like a flashback to the 2019 race for Jones.

With 18 laps to go as Denny Hamlin came up on Jones, Jones changed his line to take away Hamlin’s clean air and then laid down a set of blistering laps that kept Hamlin from mounting a charge.

Erik Jones, driver of the No. 43 FOCUSfactor Chevrolet, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Sport Clips Haircuts Toyota, race for the Southern 500 win at Darlington Raceway on (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Hamlin came close on the final lap when he attempted to send it in turn three but was unable to get side by side with Jones or reach his rear and had to settle for the runner up spot. Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick finished third.

Erik Jones, driver of the No. 43 FOCUSfactor Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Jones said he was “very happy to have won the race, but was more proud of the group around him who are apart of this win.” 

Erik Jones, driver of the No. 43 FOCUSfactor Chevrolet, and crew chief David Elenz celebrate in victory lane together for the first time after winning the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Jones had ran inside the top five for part of the night on raw pace, and earned eighth and ninth place finishes in stages one and two respectively. It was near disaster though when he came close to wrecking on lap 80 as he got sent up the race track after losing grip on the apron, nearly collecting Ryan Blaney in the process.

The Michigan driver had come close to winning with the 43 car for the first time since joining Richard Petty Motorsports in 2021 at Fontana at the beginning of the season but failed to seal the deal.

The last time Richard Petty had won a Cup race as an owner was with now Stewart-Haas Racing driver Aric Almirola in the 2014 summer Daytona race. It was also the 200th win for the 43 car.

Jones’ win also means it’s the first time a non-playoff driver has won the opening race of the playoffs since the playoffs began in 2004. Jones was two places short of making the 2022 NASCAR playoffs after the conclusion of the regular season last week at Daytona.

Erik Jones, driver of the No. 43 FOCUSfactor Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Jones taking the chequered flag was not just an upset win in that it seemed almost certain it would be a JGR car in victory lane. Kyle Busch finished third in stage one and had pressured stage one winner William Byron for the lead in the closing laps before going on to lead nearly all of stage two including taking the stage two win.

Stage three saw JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr, who had briefly taken the lead away from Busch in stage two, reclaim the top spot on lap 293, but following his final green flag pit stop Truex Jr, lost power steering due to the engine suddenly overheating with Kyle Busch taking the lead back with 32 laps to go. Truex Jr, who was two points short of making place of making this year’s playoffs, then was forced to retire the car.

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

After a caution came out for a stopped Cody Ware, Kyle Busch’s car, after pitting under yellow, began puffing out smoke while following the pace car before the engine blew up taking him out of the race. Erik Jones who had just gained two spots on pit road, inherited the lead and led the final 20 green flag laps. Busch led the most laps with 155 whilst Truex led 48.

Kyle Busch responded to the tragic late race retirement saying: “the sun will come up tomorrow.”

Playoff contender Kevin Harvick had a scary moment when his car began to fill with fire from his dash for two laps before being forced to stop the car on the apron and quickly evacuated himself before the car violently burst into flames. Harvick put it down to “crappy-ass parts.”

It was a rollercoaster Southern 500 for the Hendrick Motorsports camp. Regular season champ Chase Elliott crashed out in stage one after he “greedily” dived into turn one and made contact with the wall before spinning down the race track and getting collected by fellow playoff contender Chase Briscoe. Elliott was unable to continue after the 10-minute Damage Vehicle Repair clock expired for the No. 9 team on pit road.

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA/Children’s Chevrolet, spins after hitting the turn one wall during the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Reigning NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Larson began losing engine power 78 laps into stage one in what was a near repeat of last week and went three laps down. Miraculously despite the engine issues not being fully resolved, Larson worked his way back onto the lead lap upon completion of stage two and came home to finish 12th. This wasn’t before Larson brought out the caution on lap 190 in stage two after spinning out in turn four when he was still two laps down.

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, spins into the wall after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Hendrick teammate William Byron took the lead away from polesitter Joey Logano in stage 1 who led the first 66 laps, and went on to win stage one. Byron then fell to fourth in stage two after reporting that his engine was “flat and loud.” Byron came home eighth.

Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Christopher Bell, driver of the No. 20 Yahoo! Toyota, lead the field to start the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

It was also a rough day for playoff contenders Trackhouse Racing with Daniel Suárez serving a drive-through penalty at the start of the race for failing pre-race inspection three times and immediately went a lap down. Then with five laps to go in stage two Bell squeezed Suárez into the turn one wall nearly wrecking both of them as Logano and Byron slipped past.

Daniel Suárez, driver of the No. 99 Jockey Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Trackhouse teammate Ross Chastain had worked his way up third in stage two but was then forced to come down pit road after having suspension issues in the left rear. Suárez found himself in fifth at the start of stage three and came home 18th while Chastain finished 20th.

The second race of round one of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs is the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway this Sunday at 3pm ET.

Full Race Results

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

Stage 1 results

1st William Byron, 2nd Denny Hamlin, 3rd Kyle Busch, 4th Christopher Bell, 5th Martin Truex Jr., 6th Ross Chastain, 7th Tyler Reddick, 8th Erik Jones, 9th Ryan Blaney, 10th Bubba Wallace.

Stage 2 results

1st Kyle Busch, 2nd Martin Truex Jr., 3rd Ryan Blaney, 4th Joey Logano, 5th William Byron, 6th Christopher Bell, 7th Alex Bowman, 8th Daniel Suárez, 9th Erik Jones, 10th Michael McDowell.

Playoff Standings

1st Joey Logano (+38), 2nd William Byron (+32), 3rd Denny Hamlin (+30), 4th Christopher Bell (+28), 5th Tyler Reddick (+23), 6th Ryan Blaney (+20), 7th Kyle Larson (+17), 8th Ross Chastain (+15), 9th Chase Elliott (+14), 10th Alex Bowman (+10), 11th Kyle Busch (+8), 12th Daniel Suárez (+2), 13th Austin Cindric (-2), 14th Austin Dillon (-4), 15th Chase Briscoe (-10), 16th Kevin Harvick (-13).

Featured Image: Erik Jones, driver of the No. 43 FOCUSfactor Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 04, 2022 in Darlington, South Carolina (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

Daniel Suárez becomes first Mexican driver to win a NASCAR Cup race

After running inside the top five for the first two stages, Daniel Suárez controlled the race at the front for the final stage, holding off challenges from Chris Buescher and Kevin Harvick for the final 40 laps before pulling a four second lead heading to the chequered flag to get his first NASCAR Cup Series victory by winning the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the Sonoma Raceway road course on Sunday.

Daniel Suárez, driver of the No. 99 Onx Homes/Renu Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

This was Suárez’s 195th career start in the Cup Series and his sixth season since joining the top division in 2017. Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Suárez becomes the first Mexican driver to win a NASCAR Cup race and joins the likes of Juan Pablo Montoya, who won the 2007 Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in his rookie year, in being the fifth foreign driver to win a Cup race.

Daniel Suárez celebrates with a Mexican flag after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Suárez also joins Austin Cindric, Ross Chastain and Chase Briscoe in becoming the fourth first-time winner in the Cup Series in 2022.

Daniel Suárez celebrates by drinking wine in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 12, 2022 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Speaking to FOX’s Jamie Little Suárez said: “A lot of people in Mexico, my family, they never gave up on me, a lot of people did but they didn’t. This is the first one of many.” Suárez was Trackhouse Racing’s first driver in the Cup Series when they entered in 2021 after buying Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR operation.

For Chris Buescher and Kevin Harvick, both had opportunities in the final stage to take the lead away but were unable to find a way past the No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet. Buescher, who was unable to race last week at WWT Raceway due to testing positive for Covid, had initially led the start of stage three but went wide at both turns four and seven and would drop back to fourth, handing the lead to Suárez.

Harvick moved up to second and was pressuring Suárez in what was a three-car battle for the lead for two laps before Buescher dived down the inside of Harvick in turn 11 to retake second.

On a restart with 23 laps to go, Suárez got a great launch over Buescher, but four laps later had to go defensive into turn 11 to cover Buescher off. With Buescher appearing unwilling to use the bumper with over 15 laps to go, Buescher would then proceed to slip back reporting he had weak forward drive and with five laps to go, Suárez had built a five second lead over him.

Daniel Suárez, driver of the No. 99 Onx Homes/Renu Chevrolet, leads Chris Buescher, driver of the No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford, during the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Talking to FOX, Buescher said: “I’m just disappointed with myself, didn’t get the job done there when it counted.” Both Buescher and Harvick were looking for their first win of the season.

Suárez smashed a taco piñata in celebration.

Suárez was not looking to be the race favourite as that went to Hendrick drivers Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott, as Larson and Elliott have dominated the road courses in recent years, but due to poor execution on pit road resulting in penalties, Larson would only manage 15th while Elliott finished eighth.

Kyle Larson was the reigning race winner and led the field to green before leading all 25 laps of stage one. Larson chose to go for the stage win instead of pitting for tyres and fuel prior to the end of stage one and would consequently start 24th. In the 2021 race, Larson was able to work his way to the front in stage two, but was only up to 14th when he and everyone pitted again.

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, leads the field to start the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 12, 2022 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

On the final pit stop with 28 laps to go, Larson’s crew would fail to get the front right tyre secured and instead Larson’s tyre came off the car in turn two after exiting the pits bringing out the caution and ending any hopes of a race win. His crew chief Cliff Daniels, and two crew members were all given a four-race suspension for the incident.

Elliott had ran inside the top three in stage one, only getting overtaken by Buescher for second with four laps to go in the stage before giving up stage points and pitting in exchange for a good starting spot for stage two. Elliott led most of stage two with Buescher following him and at one point had an eight second lead over then third place Suárez.

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, nears the wall exiting Turn 4A and heads down the short chute to turn 7 with Buescher, Chastain and Suarez behind (Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/NASCAR Digital Media)

In Elliott’s pit stop sequence at the end of stage two, disaster struck when Elliott was called back to the pit box by crew chief Alan Gustafson for having a loose left rear wheel but failed to get his car fully inside the box and instead the team serviced his car resulting in a costly penalty that saw Elliott start from the rear of the field for the final stage.

Elliott however was successful in delivering Hendrick Motorsports its 100,000 mile in leading Cup races during stage two. They are the first organization to reach the milestone.

Road course veteran Michael McDowell would finish third in the end after qualifying fourth and moving up to third in the opening laps before fighting amongst the top ten for the majority of the race.

Michael McDowell, driver of the No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford, racing in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 with Chris Buescher, Daniel Suárez and Tyler Reddick behind (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Apart from Larson’s loose wheel, the only other cause for caution came on lap 10 when Bubba Wallace’s engine let go.

After already spinning out in stage one, Erik Jones during stage two spun out trying to pass on the inside entering turn seven. Suárez’s Trackhouse Racing teammate Ross Chastain then performed a carbon copy of it a few laps trying to pass Suárez and fell back from fourth to seventh. Chastain had ran ahead of Suárez in third earlier in the stage.

Daniel Suárez (front) paces Trackhouse Racing teammate Ross Chastain (behind), driver of the No. 1 Worldwide Express Chevrolet during the Toyota/Save Mart 350 (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Joey Logano, after concluding they didn’t have a race winning car, decided to stay out at the end of stage two to bag a stage win and a playoff point. Logano fired off 24th at the start of stage three and finished 17th.

AJ Allmendinger had an incredible afternoon as despite having lost power steering early on in the race, he broke into the top 10 inside of 20 laps to go. Allmendinger risked bringing out the caution with two laps to go when he went off in turn three, the sight visible to “Daniel’s Amigos” who had been cheering Suárez on every lap, but Allmendinger got going, and the race stayed green until Suárez took the chequered flag.

FOX’s Mike Joy said: “You’ve got to love it when nice guys finish first.”

The FOX Deportes broadcast team enjoyed the win too!

The NASCAR Cup Series returns in two weeks time when they race at Nashville Superspeedway in the Ally 400.

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

Stage 1 results: 1st Kyle Larson, 2nd Joey Logano, 3rd Kyle Busch, 4th Justin Haley, 5th Aric Almirola, 6th Harrison Burton, 7th Josh Bilicki, 8th Kurt Busch, 9th Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 10th Cody Ware.

Stage 2 results: 1st Joey Logano, 2nd Aric Almirola, 3rd Chris Buescher, 4th Daniel Suárez, 5th Kevin Harvick, 6th Todd Gilliland, 7th Harrison Burton, 8th Michael McDowell, 9th Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 10th Ryan Blaney.

Featured Image: Daniel Suárez , driver of the #99 Onx Homes/Renu Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 12, 2022 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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)

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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