Kyle Busch completes weekend sweep at Bristol

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Photo by: Sean Gardner

Rowdy Nation rejoiced while everyone else showed their displeasure as Kyle Busch done his signature bow after winning the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Busch led 156 laps and held off a charging Erik Jones for his third win of the weekend. Busch competed in, and won, both the Truck Series and Xfinity Series races at the half-mile track.

“Man, Erik Jones put up a whale of a fight,” Busch said of the 21-year-old Furniture Row Racing driver. Jones led the most laps and battled with Busch through lapped traffic, before falling into second place. Jones held onto the position while charging to get closer to the No. 18 Toyota Camry.

But Jones was left with the best finish of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.

“You don’t want to sound like you’re whining or being a sore loser by saying it sucks to run second, but it’s a bummer,” said Jones, who started on the pole and led 260 of 500 laps before posting a career-best finish. “It hurts. You know, you want to win every race you’re in. This was the first shot that I really had to come really close to it in the Cup Series.”

Busch regained the lead on Lap 445 as Jones and Kenseth got behind lapped traffic. The win is Busch’s second victory this season and 40th of his career, tying NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Mark Martin. Busch is also the only active driver to win six races at Bristol.

“Can’t say enough about everybody on my Joe Gibbs Racing team. Adam Stevens (crew chief) and the guys are phenomenal. Car might not have been perfect, but I’m never perfect. I never feel like we’re perfect, but this Caramel Camry was fast. So proud of these guys, so proud of my team, so proud of Joe Gibbs Racing. So proud of Rowdy Nation, this one’s for you.”

Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth finished third and fourth, respectively, earning Toyota the first four finishing positions. Kurt Busch finished fifth to round out the top-five.

Trevor Bayne finished sixth for his fourth top-10 finish of 2017.

Chase Elliott remains 14th in the playoff standings, 69 points to the good, after finishing in the 18th position. Elliott was involved in a crash on Lap 396 with Kevin Harvick, Ty Dillon, and Aric Almirola.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series head to Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 on September 3, 2017 for the third annual throwback weekend. 

Multiple drivers including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, and Danica Patrick are set to race paint schemes to honor drivers of seasons past. The celebrated time period of the 2017 season is 1985-1989.

Don’t miss the thriller in two weeks on September 3rd at 6 p.m ET on NBC Sports.

Kyle Larson wins Pure Michigan 400

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Photo by: Jonathan Ferrey

Kyle Larson boldly took advantage of a late-race restart to secure his third consecutive win in the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Larson restarted fourth in overtime after Michael McDowell and Paul Menard spun, but gained the lead after taking it four wide in his No. 42 Target Chevrolet with Matt Kenseth, Erik Jones, and Martin Truex Jr. Larson led just the final two laps to earn the fourth win of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.

“Awesome finish for us” Larson said, “We definitely didn’t have the car that we had here the last two times we won, but we kept fighting. Probably even harder than we did in those other two wins.”

Larson joins NASCAR Hall of Fame members David Pearson and Bill Elliott to win three consecutive races at the two-mile track.

Truex finished second .310 seconds behind Larson after leading 57 laps.

“We got beat fair and square,” Truex said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes. Double‑file restarts are tricky, and I had good restarts all day I felt like, and we had that red flag for the first time and really just sat there while I got the tires cold and then only had one lap to come to the green and get some heat back in them, and I just struggled getting going, just spun the tires. I didn’t really expect it because I hadn’t had any trouble with that all day.”

Erik Jones finished third, followed by Ryan Newman and Trevor Bayne. Chris Buescher finished sixth, his third top-10 finish within four weeks.

The race remained quiet, with Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. earning the stage victories, until Lap 139 when the No. 5 of Kasey Kahne slid up the race track and collected Joe Gibb Racing’s Daniel Suarez.

Suarez and Kahne finished 37th and 38th, respectively.

The MENCS head to Bristol, Tennessee on Saturday, July 19th for the 24th race of the season with three races remaining in the regular season. Truex leads Larson over a hundred points in the standings.

Don’t miss the Last Great Colosseum under the lights on July 19th at 7:30 p.m ET on NBC.

Martin Truex Jr. wins at the Glen

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Photo by: Jeff Zelevansky

Martin Truex Jr’s hatred for fuel mileage races may have drifted due to his win in Sunday’s I Love New York 355 at Watkins Glen International.

Truex began saving fuel early, letting Brad Keselowski pass him with less than 15 laps to go, in hopes he would have enough to make it to the end for a chance at the second road course victory of his MENCS career.

The driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota did.

“I’m a little bit lost for words at the moment,” Truex said “Just because I’ve been thinking about this one a long time – all weekend, all day,”

The strategy paid off for Truex because both Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney had to pit for a splash of fuel. Truex regained the lead with three laps remaining and held off a charging Matt Kenseth to earn his fourth win in 2017.

“At the end there, just it’s so hard there to let guys pass you for the lead. You’ve just got to listen to your crew chief and, luckily for me, I’ve got the best one in the business, and I just believe in him so much, and I just do what he says and it seems to work out.”

Kenseth finished second to earn his sixth top-5 finish this season. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is still looking for a win to secure his ticket to the playoffs with four races remaining in the regular season.

“I felt like we had a top-five car. Obviously, we had good fortune there at the end with our track position and our fuel mileage and all that to stay in it and have a shot at it, but man, when it’s that close and you see him saving and you’re saving and then you go after him there on that last lap, it’s disappointing not to get it. Especially when I saw him miss Turn 6, I was like, ‘Man, I’m going to have a shot,’ and he was so fast I still couldn’t get to him getting into (Turn) 7.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished last after an early exit due to a valve train issue. Earnhardt took his Chevrolet to the garage after falling off pace at the end of the first stage.

“We can’t fix it, but it’s just been a really difficult week,” Earnhardt said. “We’ve been way down on speed and we had a pretty good car for Sonoma, so I was kind of looking forward to coming here.”

Kyle Busch battled back from early pit stop problems to finish inside the top-10. Busch was forced to pit a second time under caution at the end of Stage 1 for a loose wheel.

Busch restarted in the back of the field, but made his way back inside the top-10 before making contact with Keselowski within the bus stop. Busch finished seventh while Keselowski finished in the 15th position.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Michigan on August 13th for the Pure Michigan 400 at 3 p.m ET on NBC Sports.

Kasey Kahne Excels at the Brickyard

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Photo by: Sean Gardner

A long day in Indianapolis, which included a red flag delay for rain and two others for incidents, ended with Hendrick Motorsports’ Kasey Kahne in Victory Lane.

Kahne snapped over a hundred race winless streak for the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 in overtime after battling with Brad Keselowski for his 18th career MENCS victory.

“The career is big, for sure—but the win and the history here,” Kahne said. “To win at this track is unreal. We used to always be really close. We lost to Jeff (Gordon) and we lost to Tony (Stewart); just some fast cars back then.”

Kahne may not have had the fastest car, but he delivered through a series of crashes that left the driver of the Farmers Insurance Chevrolet with exhaustion and some cramps at the conclusion of the extended event.

“Today, strategy got us here. This Farmers Insurance Chevrolet was great once I got out front. I just had to get there. I’m exhausted. But, an unbelievable win. The team just kept working. We had great pit stops.”

Kahne received the lead after a multi-car crash involving Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, and Erik Jones brought out the tenth caution of the evening. Kahne, who pitted one lap earlier, had fresh tires and opted to stay out for track position.

Keselowski acquired the lead on the restart, but his run was cut short when the No. 6 of Trevor Bayne spun on the frontstrech and collected a half dozen cars along with him.

Keselowski elected for the top on the restart, but Kahne persevered through the dry oil to get ahead of the Team Penske driver.

“Well, the one before just didn’t work,” Kahne said, “Everything went wrong. On the final one, everything went right. And once I got to Turn 1, I had good power and was able to clear him off (Turn) 1. I’m exhausted. And, it’s pretty crazy.”

Two-time Brickyard 400 winner Kyle Busch finished 34th after securing Stage 1 and Stage 2 wins. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was involved in a Lap 111 wreck with Martin Truex Jr. that put their chance at history to an end.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was eliminated after contact with Bayne on Lap 77 left him with damage to his radiator.

“There was just a bunch of cars slowing down, starting a chain reaction. We got into the back of (Bayne),” he said. “It just knocked the radiator out of us. We had a great car. We had a top-10 car. I thought we could finish there.”

Only four playoff spots remain open with six races to go in the 2017 regular season. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series head back to Pocono, where Chris Buescher is the defending race winner.

Denny Hamlin earns New Hampshire victory

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Photo by: Sean Gardner

Denny Hamlin held off a charging Kyle Larson in the closing laps of the Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to earn his first victory of the season.

Hamlin led 54 laps toward his first win since last September at Richmond Raceway. Hamlin regained the lead on Lap 267 after passing Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth.

“It’s a great feeling,” Hamlin said in Victory Lane. “I know we’ve been getting better and better as the year goes on, but definitely needed a win for the organization and for myself and just kind of get some momentum going with the playoffs coming up, so we’ve got to get going. Really, this is awesome.”

Hamlin snapped a winless streak of 28 races in a backup car after spinning in Friday’s first practice.

Larson finished second for the seventh time this season after having to start in the 39th position after his pole winning time was disallowed by NASCAR for having unapproved parts on the No. 42 Target Chevrolet.

That didn’t slow Larson down from making up ground. He charged to the front of the field and finished .509-seconds behind Hamlin.

“Finished second, but another hard fought race,” Larson said. “You know, this is the third time we’ve had to start last and drove up to second. I wish we could have been a spot better again, but really proud of my team and proud of the cars that they’re bringing for me to drive each and every week.”

Stage 1 winner Martin Truex Jr. finished third after leading a race-high of 137 laps, followed by Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick.

Kyle Busch recovered from two pit road speeding penalties to finish in the 12th position. Busch 95 laps and secured the Stage 2 win.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series head to Indianapolis, Indiana for the 24th running of the Brickyard 400 on Sunday, July 23, 2017 at 2:30 p.m ET on NBC.

Martin Truex Jr. Dominates at Kentucky

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Photo by: Sarah Crabill

Martin Truex Jr. dominated Saturday night’s Quaker State 400, leading more than 150 laps and securing both Stage 1 and Stage 2 wins, before earning his third win of the season.

Truex held a 15 second lead on the final lap, but that diminished when the No. 41 of Kurt Busch blew an engine. The caution allowed the leaders to pit, but the No. 78 team elected not to.

“I thought we were dead,” Truex said. “I thought we were done.”

Truex could not be denied however, and with a push from Kyle Larson, he got by Kyle Busch and quickly extended his lead during the overtime finish.

“Fortunately (I was) able to hold them off. This thing was just so stout tonight. A good push from Larson (on the final restart) helped us a bunch.”

Larson finished second after starting in the rear of the field and overcoming a speeding penalty on Lap 88. Larson retains the series regular points standings lead, but only by one point over Truex.

A multi-car crash ended the day for seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson as well as and Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski, which also collected Clint Bowyer. 

Keselowski’s car got loose right after the start of Stage 2 that also sent the No. 14 spinning and Johnson in the wall. Johnson ultimately didn’t have anywhere else to go and sustained heavy damage to his Lowe’s Chevrolet.

Chase Elliott earned his sixth top-5 this season with a finish of third, followed by Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch.

Bubba Wallace earned a career best finish of 11th in his fourth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup start. Wallace has been substituting for the injured Aric Almirola, who is expected to return next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The MENCS head to New Hampshire on Sunday, July 16, 2017 at 3 p.m ET on NBC Sports Network.

A change for NASCAR – and how it would be beneficial 


Photo by: Chris Trotman

When it comes to comparing sports, NASCAR may seem like the least comparable to the likings of the NBA, NFL, or MLB. But it isn’t just about how each sport is alike in how they are played. It’s about the dynamics of how they are run and how each one can progress in making themselves better.

That is why it is time for NASCAR to embrace another factor that separates it from others: trades.

When it comes to trades within other sports, each team is given something in return of one of their own. In NASCAR we call it “Silly Season” and rumors fly just like every other sport in the country, but they don’t play out like them. NASCAR teams do not get anything in return when a driver’s contract is up and they and/or the driver choose not to sign an extension.

Prior to the start of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, several top stars were at the end of their current contract: Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Chase Elliott are just a few of the drivers this season who have already signed to stay with their current team for 2018 and beyond.

Would trades have impacted their decision? Probably not, but it can impact others.

When it comes to trades teams sometimes take a huge gamble to acquire a player that fits their wants and needs for their team. When they receive a key player it often adds depth to their game and what they can do, but they aren’t always going to receive a key player. Sometimes they receive prospects, or what NASCAR calls developmental drivers.

In today’s NASCAR where the youth movement is gaining a ton of momentum and drive, trades can become a significant element that allows each team to gain something in what they would normally lose.

For teams like Roush Fenway Racing, where they have the youth but lack a veteran driver, trades can become a valuable way to even the scale.

Now is the perfect time to make NASCAR Trades a reality