The NASCAR Cup Series will make history today by racing around the 12-turn 2.2-mile street course around and in Grant Park in downtown Chicago in what will be NASCAR’s first ever street course race, the Grant Park 220, with the Chicago city skyline and Lake Michigan as the backdrop.
Drivers to watch
The Grant Park 220 will consist of 100 laps (220 miles), and will have three stages of 20, 25, and 55 laps but like road course races this season, there will be no stage ending cautions, giving crew chiefs more options with strategy.
The green flag has been moved up from 5:30pm ET to 5pm due to downtown Chicago receiving a month’s worth of rainfall in the last 24 hours with the intention of avoiding further weather however it will be a very wet start to the race at least.
Drivers on Saturday prior to qualifying did get some practice in light rain conditions but will possibly have to relearn the track in the anticipated tricky conditions.
Check NASCAR and the @PitCrew_Online on Twitter for updates.
Denny Hamlin knocked three-time Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen off provisional pole, to secure his third pole of the season with a 1.28.435.
Hamlin said: “The course is actually very very good and raceable. I think there will be a ton of passing zones [in Sunday’s race].”
Shane van Gisbergen, who is making his NASCAR Cup Series debut with the Trackhouse Racing Project 91 team, ended up third fastest in the top-10 shootout with a 1.28.588.
23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick, who Hamlin is the team co-owner of, qualified second with a 1.28.479.
Jenson Button, in his second Cup Series start with Rick Ware Racing, also made the top-10 shootout, qualifying eighth with a 1.29.571.
Mexico’s Daniel Suarez topped the Round 1 Group A qualifying session with a 1.28.755, with Larson, Button, Reddick, and Allmendinger joining him for the top-10 shootout.
Group B’s qualifying session was not so smooth with Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick crashing and bringing out two red flags in the session.
Elliott, while following Shane van Gisbergen, clipped the right hand wall going into turn eight and the hit the wall opposite head on. Harvick made the same mistake in turn one, hitting the wall hard.
Polesitter Hamlin topped Group B with a 1.28.369, while van Gisbergen was second with a 1.28.509. Bell, McDowell, and Logano also joined them for the top-10 shootout.
Drivers to watch
In terms of one-lap pace, Hamlin, Reddick, and van Gisbergen were nearly a whole second quicker than the rest of the top-10 shootout contenders.
Van Gisbergen is a three-time and reigning Supercars champion in Australia and topped the practice charts on Saturday in what has been a mighty impressive performance so far from the New Zealander.
With the Gen 3 Supercars sharing many similarities with NASCAR’s Gen 7 car, Gisbergen who drives for the Red Bull Ampol Racing Chevrolet Camaro team in the series, is accustomed to racing heavy V8-powered muscle cars around street courses, with the Supercars series competing on several street courses each season such as in Newcastle, and Townsville, Australia.
Shane van Gisbergen could very well take the chequered flag today, if he can carry over his experience, patience, and sensational car control and placement that he has shown in the Supercars series.
The NASCAR Cup Series regulars could come out on top by the end in Hamlin or Reddick, with Hamlin having one road course win at Watkins Glen, and Reddick winning three of the last six road course races, at Indianapolis Road Course, COTA, and Road America.
Martin Truex Jr. has been on fire lately, including winning the Sonoma road course race three weeks ago for a second consecutive year and has five road course wins to his name.
Chase Elliott, while not having been at his best this weekend, should not be dismissed, as he holds the highest number of road course wins amongst active drivers with seven, coming at five different road courses.
2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button finished 18th at NASCAR’s Cup Series race at COTA earlier this year. With improved pace on the field this weekend, and extensive experience driving in the wet, we could see Button dueling it out for a top-five finish or better today.
Shane van Gisbergen
Martin Truex Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Featured Image: A general view of the setup for the Chicago Street Race frontstretch (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
William Byron won Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway by avoiding two huge pile-ups and keeping his car inside the top 10 all race long, to secure his seventh career win and third win of the season while lots of drivers’ good days, including teammate Kyle Larson, were ruined by being caught up in multi-car pile-ups caused by Ross Chastain and Martin Truex Jr.
Another Blow to Larson’s Quest for Darlington Cup Win
Chastain Overdrives into Truex
Truex wrecks Logano
Bubba Wallace Comeback
Rest of Race Recap
Full Race Results
Byron snuck past the carnage caused by Truex Jr. and Joey Logano wrecking in turn one on a late race restart that created a pile-up behind them, moving Byron up into third place, where he had spent much of the race until a slow pit stop with less than 40 laps to go saw him fall back to ninth.
He found himself taking the lead via another pile-up on the very next restart with six laps to go as Chastain and Larson wrecked in turn one much like Truex Jr. and Logano had.
Byron easily fought off Harvick in the two-lap overtime shootout as Harvick’s car had suffered front-end damage from the first pile-up, to take the chequered flag in what was a moment of redemption for Byron as he had lost last year’s Spring Darlington race to Joey Logano via a bump and run in turns three and four on the final lap.
Byron said: “My grandad passed away on Thursday, and just, man, I wish my family could be here. Just things have a way of working out, honestly. It just worked out that way today. We didn’t have the best third stage. We just kept battling, and things just kind of come back around.”
As part of NASCAR’s Throwback Weekend at Darlington’s Raceway on its 75th anniversary, William Byron’s No. 24 team was running a throwback paint scheme to four-time Cup champion and Hendrick Motorsports Vice Chairman, Jeff Gordon’s shiny 1998 All-Star Race DuPont (now AXALTA) Chromalusion/NASCAR 50th anniversary car.
On this day in 1998, Jeff Gordon's "Illusion Car" paint scheme for that year's All-Star Race was unveiled. It was painted in ChromaLusion Pure Fire Prizm, DuPont's new paint that changed color from red to gold depending on the light. The expensive paint cost $17 an ounce. pic.twitter.com/h7qW3gSBYw
Byron’s redemption Darlington victory appropriately secures the No. 24 car it’s 100th win in NASCAR, with Jeff Gordon having scored 93 of them.
Another Blow to Larson’s Quest for Darlington Cup Win
Kyle Larson fell short of a Darlington Cup Series win once again, after marching through the field and appearing to have the best car, only to be taken out by Ross Chastain who while also having one of the strongest cars in the race, failed to stop himself from causing multiple pileups from asking too much out of his race car.
Larson, Saturday’s Darlington Xfinity race winner, became buried back in traffic after having a slow pit on lap 39 in stage one but went from 29th to 12th by the end of the stage.
Larson impressively cut through the field all the way up to third by the end of stage two and was a threat for the win as he jumped race leader Ross Chastain during the final green flag pit stop on lap 246, and led over 20 laps until a caution for returning Cup Series veteran Ryan Newman saw the field be restacked with Larson and Chastain lined up together for the lap 281 restart.
As Truex and Logano wrecked behind them, Larson lost the lead as Chastain had inched ahead on the inside from the last scoring loop the two had past prior to the caution.
The next restart saw the pair race tightly side-by-side into turn one before Chastain sailed up into Larson and spun off Larson’s nose causing a pile-up behind with Larson pushing Chastain sideways out of turn two, dashing both their hopes for a Darlington win with Larson and Chastain ending up 20th and 29th.
Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and Kyle Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet post-race said regarding Chastain’s aggressive driving: “It’s hard to win a championship when you got a lot of paybacks out there. Dale Earnhardt Sr. said ‘he got all the talent. He just doesn’t know how to race. [Chastain] is making a lot of enemies out there.”
Chastain said: “I got really tight and drove up and turned myself. I wanted to squeeze him. I wanted to push him up. We’d been racing back and forth all day. But I definitely didn’t want to turn myself.”
Larson did make contact with Chastain prior to the incident as they battled over the race lead as Truex Jr. and Logano wrecked behind them on the previous restart.
It’s yet another one that got away for Larson’s Darlington Raceway quest for a Cup Series win at The Lady In Black after previously amassing three runner up finishes, in 2019 and in both 2021 races as well as finishing third in the 2016 and 2018 Darlington races.
It’s the third time this season that Chastain has had a coming together with Larson that cost them the chance at a win, previously at Dover and Talladega.
Chastain Overdrives into Truex
Chastain had ran inside the top-five for much of the race and led over 100 laps before crashing into Larson. After finishing fourth in stage one, Chastain drove like he had been shot out of a cannon following the green flag pit stop halfway through stage two that saw him fly by Byron for second on lap 147 and race leader Truex Jr. four laps later as was able to hold off a late charging Truex for the final 11 laps to win stage two but not without controversy.
In turn three on the final lap Chastain broke hard behind a lapped car and bounced off the wall and into Truex who was sent spinning down the track and would finish 10th while Chastain would win stage two.
Truex’s car remained tight for the remainder of the race, with Truex putting it down to a bent toe link in the right front as a result of the contact.
All this comes just days after Chastain’s fighting incident with Legacy Motor Club driver Noah Gragson following the Kansas Cup race where he decided to land the first punch on pit road post-race after Gragson was displaying his displeasure towards him for running him into the turn four wall during the race.
Martin Truex Jr. started on the inside of Logano on row two for the lap 281 restart but got tight underneath him in turn one and ran Logano into the wall, and spun off of Logano’s Ford Mustang causing an eight-car pile-up and all but ended what had a been a strong day for the polesitter having led 145 laps.
Truex said: “Like I said, knocked the toe out in the right front. Pretty crappy from there, and then on that restart, I guess I just got real tight and I don’t even know who I squeezed into the wall, but I apologize to them. Probably my fault, just got real tight and couldn’t stay down the track.”
Logano and Truex Jr. would finish 18th and 31st respectively. Logano was running a distinctive 1973 Mark Donohue throwback scheme for the race that had got Team Penske their first NASCAR Cup Series win at Riverside.
Bubba Wallace came back to a fifth place finish after plummeting to 18th from third during the stage one break following a slow pit stop due to a lug nut issue.
Wallace had qualified second and dominated stage one with Truex until Byron passed Wallace for second with 10 laps to go in stage one.
Wallace found himself stuck during stage two unable to move forward much as only managed 15th at the end of stage two.
Avoiding being caught up in the late race drama saw Wallace earn valuable points with the fifth place finish.
Rest of Race Recap
The drivers to give command for Sunday’s race were none other than the drivers from NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers list, all of which had been selected and revealed throughout the year up until the throwback weekend with drivers who could attend it in person such as Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, Dale Jr., and Kevin Harvick giving the command to start engines.
Truex Jr. following the last lap spin in stage one, led the first half of stage two keeping ahead of Byron, despite Byron pitting lap earlier for fresh tyres, bringing the gap down from over four seconds to 1.4.
Lap 194 saw Erik Jones crash into the pack off turn two on a restart due a loose wheel coming away from under him, causing a nine-car crash that took Austin Dillon, and Daniel Suarez out of the race.
Jones, who was running a 1968 Richard Petty Daytona 500 throwback scheme, had worked his way up inside the top 15 from a 28th starting position.
A few laps into the final stage saw Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who had ran as high as sixth throughout stage one, spin out in turn three bringing out another caution.
With 78 laps to go on the next restart, Chastain and Kyle Busch, who had been inside the top ten all race, led the field back to green but Busch slid up into the turn two wall dropping down to fourth.
There was a three car battle in Chastain, Byron and Larson inside of 50 laps to go that saw Larson come out on top following the final green flag pit stop.
Three time Darlington Southern 500 winner Denny Hamlin stayed out for several laps during the final green flag pit cycle in a hope for a caution that would drag the field down pit road with him but did not come in time before Larson took the lead back from Hamlin on fresher tyres.
Christopher Bell was running second to Larson inside of 20 to go but a loose wheel from the pit stop forced him back down pit road under caution following Newman’s spin, which saw him start from the rear.
Due in part to the two late race pile-ups, the final top 10 was somewhat new compared to the rest of the race with Chase Elliott finishing third after a steady march through the field, Harrison Burton sixth, Justin Haley eighth, and Chris Buescher tenth.
The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series sees them return to the legendary and freshly renovated North Wilkesboro Speedway in Wilkes County, North Carolina this Sunday for this season’s All-Star Race with the All-Star Open last chance qualifying starting 5:30pm ET and the All-Star Race starting at 8pm ET.
Full Race Results
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Martin Truex Jr.
Stage 1 Top 10
Martin Truex Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Stage 2 Top 10
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Martin Truex Jr.
Ross Chastain – 429
Christopher Bell – 402
Kevin Harvick – 400
Denny Hamlin – 393
William Byron – 387
Martin Truex Jr. – 385
Ryan Blaney – 381
Tyler Reddick – 371
Brad Keselowski – 365
Kyle Larson – 363
Kyle Busch – 353
Joey Logano – 334
Chris Buescher – 329
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 325
Bubba Wallace – 293
Chase Briscoe – 275
Daniel Suarez – 262
Ty Gibbs – 260
Austin Cindric – 248
Michael McDowell – 241
Todd Gilliland – 240
Corey LaJoie – 238
Justin Haley – 225
Erik Jones – 221
Aric Almirola – 221
AJ Allmendinger – 214
Chase Elliott – 212
Ryan Preece – 201
Harrison Burton – 176
Austin Dillon – 166
Noah Gragson – 138
Ty Dillon – 110
BJ McLeod – 70
Featured Image: DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 14: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Throwback Chevrolet, reacts after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 14, 2023 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
William Byron dominated Sunday’s Pennzoil 400, leading 176 of the 267 laps, sweeping all three stages, and passing Martin Truex Jr. in overtime to take his first Cup win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Byron had battled hard with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson all race long for control of the lead and just pipped the Larson to the pit road exit line, seeing him line-up alongside Truex Jr. for the overtime restart, who gambled to stay out on old tyres.
Byron said: “Yeah, just happy with getting the first win of the year. It’s been a while since we’ve won. It’s been almost a year, and it’s nice to kind of just get back to what I feel like we’re capable of.”
Byron was part of Hendrick Motorsports’ third one-two-three finish in the teams Cup Series career with Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman finishing second and third respectively, finishing the race how they ended stage two. Hendrick’s previous one-two-three finish came in the 2021 spring Dover race where it was also Hendrick’s first one-two-three-four finish with Byron finishing fourth and Alex Bowman taking the spoils that day.
Byron first took the lead on lap 10 from pole-sitter Joey Logano. From then on it was mostly smooth sailing for the first stage with Larson keeping tabs on the Charlotte, North Carolinian finishing just under a second behind him.
Stage two was a carbon copy for both drivers with Larson once again finishing second in stage two under a second behind Byron. The final stage saw the roles reversed with Byron losing places on pit road under caution on lap 184, and starting fourth on the restart with Larson in third.
Larson was all over Denny Hamlin, who had stayed out on older tyres, for the lead and finally claimed top spot in the running order with 71 laps to go. Larson pulled out a five second-plus gap to Byron over the course of the final stage but this was eradicated when the caution came out with four to go in response to Aric Almirola sliding into a spin against the turn four wall.
At the time of caution Byron had halved the gap down to 2.4 seconds but it looked like a tall-order to have caught Larson without the Californian making a mistake or traffic getting in the way before they yellow flags waved.
Larson was only able to clear Truex Jr. with half a lap to go on the backstretch to finish runner-up.
Larson commented: “It seems like kind of laps down, lap by lap, and then, sure enough, the yellow lights come on. I had a gap to William behind me, and their pit crew must have just done a really good job and got out in front of us, and that gave up the front row. I knew I was in trouble with the 19 staying out.”
A dominant display by Hendrick comes on the week of teammate and 2020 NASCAR Cup champion Chase Elliott being forced to sit out indefinitely after fracturing his tibia in a snowboarding accident in Colorado last Friday.
Team owner Rick Hendrick speaking on Friday about NASCAR’s most popular driver said: “Chase’s health is our primary concern. He’s understandably disappointed to miss time in the car.”
JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry stood in for Elliott on Sunday, finishing 29th, two laps down, in his first race in the Next Gen car.
Bubba Wallace had a stand-out day running inside the top ten for most of the race, taking sixth in stage two and eighth in stage one, and coming home fourth. After not finishing either of the first two races of the season, it’s a much needed boost of confidence and points for the No. 23 team.
Wallace said: “Never stop fighting. You never give up. I almost come over the radio and said, hey, good job, we finished sixth, then the caution came out, and I perked up again and got some.”
Wallace’s teammate Tyler Reddick had a wild day after marching up to 19th, just 11 laps after starting the race in the rear. Reddick nearly let a good points day get away when inside of 65 laps to go, he ripped the turns three and four wall running sixth, sending him back to tenth. Reddick would finish 15th, after coming into the weekend with just four points after being wrecked out of the first two races.
Sunday’s pole-sitter Joey Logano and last week’s Auto Club finale winner Kyle Busch both difficult races.
After losing the lead on lap 10 to Byron, Logano fought a tight handling race car for the first half of the race, clinging onto the top 15.
The two-time Pennzoil 400 winner asked a little too much of his No. 22 Pennzoil Ford Mustang on lap 182, when while he was battling three-wide on the outside with Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch coming off turn four over 14th place, he ran out of real estate, colliding with the wall before spinning across the track into the infield grass. Logano’s team were not able to fix the car under the damage vehicle policy in time, forcing him to retire.
Kyle Busch made contact with the yellow outside walls several times during the race including twice in stage one, once clattering the turn two wall hard, bending the steering angle whilst challenging Hamlin for ninth place, but was able to continue.
Kyle Busch's hard hit into the turn two wall during stage 1. He's currently challenging Hamlin for 9th place!pic.twitter.com/srnHvC3ntK
The Las Vegas native wound up 14th in a weekend where he had attempted to sweep all three national series races taking place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, trying to replicate his Bristol Motor Speedway’s 2010 and 2017 weekend sweeps.
Busch won the Craftsman Truck Series race on Friday driving for his own Kyle Busch Motorsports team but could only manage fourth in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race driving for Kaulig Racing.
The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series is the United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway this Sunday, with the race starting at 3:30pm ET.
Featured Image: William Byron, driver of the #24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 05, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Martin Truex Jr.
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 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.
It wasexactly 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Denny Hamlin(Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
Kevin Harvick(Stewart-Haas Racing Ford)
William Byron(Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
Martin Truex Jr(Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
Kyle Larson(Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
Christopher Bell(Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
Ryan Blaney(Team Penske Ford)
Alex Bowman(Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
Kyle Busch(Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
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)