NASCAR

Kyle Larson earns first career Sprint Cup victory

Photo by: Jeff Zelevansky

Kyle Larson scored his first Sprint Cup Series victory at Michigan International Speedway during Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400, the first person since Dale Jarrett to score their first Cup victory at the racetrack.

Larson, who led 41 laps, snapped a 99-race winless streak for Chip Ganassi Racing. The driver was the third first-time winner this weekend in a national series. Michael McDowell won in the XFINITY Series and Brett Moffitt in the Camping World Truck Series – the first in NASCAR history.

“I was teared-up that whole last few laps, because I could just feel it,” Larson said. “It was finally going to be it. This one is for the Clauson family. We really miss Bryan. We’re going to miss him. We parked it for him, so that’s really cool.”

Much like other races the No.42 Target Chevrolet driver looked promised to win, Larson overcame losing the lead to rookie Chase Elliott after final pit stops when a late-race caution bunched up the field for a final restart.

“We’ve been close a few times throughout my Sprint Cup career to final put it all together and get a win, it’s awesome.” Larson said, “It makes me extremely proud because we didn’t start off this year good at all. I was pretty down the first month and a half or so.”

Larson became the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program to win on the Sprint Cup Series level. He also clinches a spot inside the Chase for the first time in his career.

“It’s special because all the hard work has paid off.” Larson said.

The win comes three weeks after close friend Brian Clauson was fatally injured in a racing accident. Larson ‘Parked It’ in victory lane and dedicated the win to his family after celebrating with a thrilling burnout.

“He didn’t like people doing burnouts and stuff like that because he wanted you to act like you’ve been to Victory Lane before.” Larson said of his late friend, “But I hadn’t been to Victory Lane before. So I was going to do some burnouts.”

Denny Hamlin wins at Watkins Glen 

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355

Photo by: Chris Trotman

Denny Hamlin held onto his lead in the closing laps of the Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International to grab the first road course victory of his career.

Martin Truex Jr was charging to battle with Hamlin for the lead until Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski tapped him and sent him spinning in the final lap. Keselowski finished third while Truex survived for a top-10.

The race was packed with cautions and included two red flags during the 90 lap event on Sunday.

A multi-car wreck involving Jimmie Johnson, Austin Dillion, Greg Biffle, and Ricky Stenhouse promoted a red flag after Stenhouse lost control of his No. 17 Ford on Lap 53.

The second and final red flag came in the closing laps after last week’s winner Chris Buescher, Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick, and David Ragan made contact on a restart.

Hamlin, who scored his second victory of 2016, shared that he battled back spams throughout the day.

“I really doubted getting into the race car today,” Hamlin said “But I’m really proud of this FedEx Freight Toyota Team.”

Hamlin was all smiles in victory lane despite having to walk to celebrate his win. Hamlin blew the tires off his car in a celebratory post-race burnout.

“This means a lot.” Hamlin said.

From Penalty to Victory

Photo by: Brian Lawdermilk

Kyle Larson overcame the obstacles he faced in Wednesday night’s Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby to score his second Camping World Truck Series victory and his first series victory at Eldora Speedway.

“It means a lot, especially losing the way I did the two years I ran,” Larson said during his celebration. “Thanks to everyone on this GMS Racing team, DC Solar for coming on-board for this, this is very special for them.”

Larson was leading on lap 52 when he blew a tire and spun out, bringing out the caution. He was forced to do a pass-through penalty after NASCAR determined that he intentionally spun to bring out the caution.

Larson was not to be denied, however. After regaining his lap, he charged to the front of the field and battled with Bobby Pierce until Pierce crashed into the turn 4 wall after suffering transmission issues. Pierce, who finished second in last year’s event, led 102 of 150 laps and finished 25th.

After Larson reclaimed the lead with 30 to go, he extended his lead as the remaining laps dwindled and won by a 0.767-second margin of victory.

Last year’s winner, Christopher Bell, went home second, followed by Rico Abreu, Jake Griffin, and Tyler Reddick.

Eldora is familiar territory for Tyler Reddick

Daytona International Speedway - Day 7

Photo by: Jonathan Ferrey

When the Camping World Truck Series roll onto the track at Eldora Speedway on Tuesday to prepare for the Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby, the driver of the Brad Keselowski Racing No. 29 Cooper Standard F-150 will practically be at home.

Before making his way to the NASCAR scene, Reddick raced in the Dirt Late Model Series, breaking records as he went. The, then 15-year-old, became the youngest winner of a feature event in the series. He also holds the record for youngest driver to make the World 100 at Eldora Speedway.

So why are these two facts so important? It’s because Tyler Reddick’s average at Eldora is 7.0, given that is only from two races, but the young talent knows his way around the infamous dirt track owned by NASCAR veteran, Tony Stewart.

Every week Reddick applies his knowledge from his dirt days and puts them to the test. His truck is often described by announcers as “too loose”, but more often than not it is just the right fit for Reddick.

And when it’s not?

He makes wicked saves that are often only seen by drivers who have years and years of experience under their belts. Earlier this year at Charlotte Motor Speedway when Reddick’s truck became looser as the laps continued to advance, Reddick overcame his obstacles for a fourth-place finish.

A win at Eldora would not only qualify Reddick to run for the series championship, the chase-style format implemented for the 2016 season to bring more exciting racing and prepare the young stars for the Sprint Cup Series, but it would be a highlight victory for the California native’s resume. One that already includes a Daytona victory and a 2nd place finish in the 2015 title run.

Brad Keselowski’s win at Kentucky comes down to fuel mileage

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto Parts

Photo by: Matt Sullivan

Brad Keselowski held more than an eight second lead over Carl Edwards in the remaining laps of the Quaker State 400 Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.

That lead deteriorated as he went into fuel saving mode to make it to grab the checkers for his second win in two weeks.

“We knew the fuel mileage,” Keselowski said, “We went out and we set a really fast pace there on that restart and just using fuel, and then it became obvious that you were going to have to save fuel at the end, but I already used so much.”

The Penske driver did not have fuel to do a victory donut, needing a push to victory lane, but he made the distance that mattered to clinch his spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, where only 8 races remain before the start of the 2016 playoffs.

This was the first race at Kentucky Speedway since the repave and reconfiguration, causing top contention drivers like Hendrick Motorsports driver, Jimmie Johnson, and Joey Logano slamming into the walls and ending their day to compete for the win.

“As long as you weren’t around anybody, it was great.” Tony Stewart said after scoring a fifth place victory in his final start at the 1.5-mile track.

Keselowski, who now has three wins at Kentucky, reiterated the Stewart-Haas Racing’s statement.

“These cars were tough to drive today, but a good tough. This was a hard-fought battle, and I’m really proud of everybody on the 2 crew to get win number four and take that first place.”

Brad Keselowski scores Daytona victory

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola

Photo by: Matt Sullivan

Brad Keselowski knows his way around restrictor-plate tracks, scoring five victories since his Sprint Cup start in 2009, so it’s no surprise that he dominated his way to victory lane during the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Keselowski led 115 of 161 laps while avoiding damage from multiple wrecks Saturday night before capturing his first win at Daytona. The victory is also Penske’s 100th Cup victory.

“It’s been a kick in the you-know-what,” Keselowski said about scoring the Daytona victory, “I got down on myself here. We came down here for the 500 and quite honestly we ran like dog crap, but my team worked on it. I didn’t give up on them.

“I believe in my team and my team believes in me and we went to work and we put together a better car, and it really showed today with a great effort from the whole team. I’m really proud of everybody.”

Although Keselowski has had little to no success at Daytona, his continued effort has helped him gain more knowledge on what to expect at Daytona and its sister track, Talladega Superspeedway.

“I always thought it was one of his strengths for sure,” Paul Wolfe, crew chief of the No. 2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford said. “Brad is a thinker and he studies and he tries to understand, so I know he’s put his time in to try to understand how the draft works and how to be better at it.”

Keselowski, with the help of his teammate Joey Logano, held off Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch in NASCAR overtime for his 20th career Cup win, which happened to be during Keselowski’s 250th Cup start.

“It was a good effort for us for sure. The wins are never easy to come by, and I think this one means a lot to me for sure because looking at our past here, it hasn’t been all that rosy.” Keselowski said, “Usually I’m loading up the car and about to be to the airport, so it’s nice to be here and have a great finish.”

Joey Logano wins at Michigan

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400

Photo by: Kena Krutsinger

Joey Logano’s strong restarting skills propelled him to his first Sprint Cup victory of the 2016 season during the FireKeepers Casino 400.

Logano led 138 laps and scored his first victory since last fall at Talladega Superspeedway.

The Penske driver pulled ahead of Hendrick Motorsports rookie Chase Elliott on a final restart to become the 10th different winner this season after Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin blew a tire that brought out a caution with 12 laps to go.

“Everyone did a great job of understanding what this package was going to do,” Logano said. “They put together a great race car for me.”

A missed shift by Elliott on lap 154 gave the lead back to Logano and Elliott never recovered to battle for the win at the end. Elliott, however, finished a career-best of 2nd place.

“You can’t do dumb stuff and win these races. Completely my fault,” Elliott said. “The guys gave me a great car today. This whole NAPA group has been working so hard these past few weeks, and that one was on me.”

Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-5.

Daniel Suarez scores first Xfinity victory

NASCAR XFINITY Series Menards 250 Presented by Valvoline

Photo by Jerry Markland

Daniel Suarez clinched his first career NASCAR Xfinity victory during the Saturday afternoon Menard’s 250 at Michigan International Speedway.

Suarez passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in the closing laps of the event. Busch dominated the event, leading 88 of the 125 laps, but came up short for his fifth Xfinity Series victory this season. He finished second.

Suarez was penalized after speeding during a pitstop on lap 32, but gradually recovered to battle for the win.

“I just have no words honestly. I don’t think I can speak English or Spanish right now honestly,” Suarez said. “I can’t thank these guys enough for all the hard work.”

It was only a matter of time that Suarez would be in victory lane. Suarez was the 2015 rookie of the year and has continued his momentum this season. Suarez currently leads the Xfinity standings 18 points ahead of JR Motorsports driver Elliott Sadler.

“Honestly, I was trying as hard as possible. I was driving a little more on the edge,” Suarez said. “Honestly, I was maybe risking a little more than I should have. Everything was about the win so I was trying as hard as possible and it seemed like we were good in points, but not very good in wins. I was just very hungry and I know this team was at the same spot, we were very hungry to win races and finally we got the first one.”

Suarez dedicated the win to Erik Jones and his late father, who passed away Tuesday after battling cancer. Jones took to Twitter before the race to announce the news. Jones displayed his father’s name on the No. 20 Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota instead of his own to pay tribute. He finished fourth.

Suarez won by 0.281 seconds on his 48th start. He looks for his second win June 19th, 1:30 PM/ET on FS1.

Martin Truex Jr. makes history at Charlotte

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600

Martin Truex Jr. dominated Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600. This time it led him into victory lane.

Truex broke records while making his way to the checkered flag. Truex led 392 of 400 laps, shattering Jim Paschal’s record of 335 laps in the 1967 event.

Truex led 588 miles which is a NASCAR record for one driver in any race. He also made a record for completing the event in the shortest time. He finished from the pole position in three hours, 44 minutes and eight seconds.

It’s just kind of sinking in now that we won the 600,” Truex said “It’s a big day. We’ve got the troops on the cars. It’s a special weekend. Just a lot of emotion right now. It’s a weekend you dream about.”

Truex’s win earns him a spot in the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup, where he could very well become a favorite for the title.

“Our goal was to get to victory lane; we did that,” Truex said. “Now we can focus on hopefully getting a few more and ultimately going back to Homestead with a shot at a championship and doing a better job than we did last year.”

Matt Kenseth wins AAA 400 at Dover

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 Drive for Autism

Picture by: Matt Hazlett

Matt Kenseth held off a charging Kyle Larson to win the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver gambled on the last pit stop of the evening by taking two tires. It paid off and put him into victory lane while qualifying him for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“It feels good to get this one for sure,” Kenseth said in victory lane. “We were tight all day on restarts. And on that last one, I got so loose, I thought Kyle was gong to get by me. … Kyle gave me all I wanted that’s for sure.”

Kenseth became the seventh different winner in a chaotic second half at the Monster Mile. On lap 353, a chain reaction ensued on a restart. An 18-car pile up took place after Jimmie Johnson could not proceed because of a gear issue. The multi-car wreck, which included Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, and AJ Allmendinger, caused an 11-minute red flag.

“As soon as I went from second and tried to go third … it stopped before it ever went to third,” Johnson said

“In my career, I’ve never had a transmission do that to me. To lock out and not go across the gate and no gear available is something that has never happened to me.”

A battle for second between Kyle Larson and Carl Edwards sent Edwards spinning into the inside wall. The wall was protected by a SAFER barrier.

Kenseth held off Larson as well as rookie Chase Elliott to win his third career win at the one mile track. Kenseth battled with the young stars in the remaining laps Saturday afternoon, but was able to hold his position for his 37th Sprint Cup victory. He led 48 laps in his Dollar General Toyota Camry.

“I had gotten close to his bumper a couple times. I may have even got into him once. I didn’t want to do anything dirty,” Larson said. “I respect Matt Kenseth a lot. He’s definitely in my eyes the cleanest racer out there. He always races me with respect. I try to do the same with him.”