NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Cup Series News Wire
  • NASCAR notebook: Kyle Busch unable to win third straight
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 24, 2019

    MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Kyle Busch was close in Sunday's STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway -- just not close enough.

    • Trying for his third straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, Busch was second off pit road under caution for a restart on Lap 456 of 500, but he couldn't get past eventual race winner Brad Keselowski.

      On Lap 457, Chase Elliott drove around Busch to the outside to take second, and that's the way the race finished. Busch's third-place run actually hurt his average finish for the season, knocking it down to 2.7 through six races.

      Busch qualified 14th on Saturday and struggled through the middle portion of the race, but sound adjustments to his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and excellent work in the pits helped him gain spots on every stop. But those factors weren't enough to overcome a slight deficiency in speed.

      "Even when we unloaded here in practice, we just weren't quite up on the speed charts like we expected to be," said Busch, who had won the previous two Cup races at ISM Raceway in Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. "First run off the truck was really good, but as the track took rubber, our car just kind of slowed down, and we just didn't have what we needed there.

      "Overall, though, today the midpoint day of today's race was a bit ugly for us, and then we turned it around, and thankful to have (crew chief) Adam Stevens and all my guys that give me everything that I need to kind of go out there and work with, and we were able to turn our day around. Fast pit stops got us a lot of track position today. It was hard to pass, besides rooting a guy off the bottom, and even when you tried to do that, they just cut your nose off and you lose a spot.

      "But overall, we fought hard for today's finish. Not a finish that we wanted to get. Thought we had a chance to win, actually, but could have been a whole lot worse."

      TWO SPEEDING PENALTIES DOOM CLINT BOWYER'S WINNING CHANCES

      Clint Bowyer had one of the fastest cars in Sunday's STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, but he didn't get a chance to prove how strong the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford could be.

      The defending race winner came off pit road fourth after stops under caution on Lap 314, but he was flagged for speeding in Sector 10 and had to restart from the rear of the field on Lap 320. Bowyer quickly worked his way forward and was ninth off pit road on Lap 374 during the sixth caution.

      Another speeding infraction in the same sector, however, sent him to the rear once more. Bowyer charged forward again and was seventh when Brad Keselowski took the checkered flag after 500 laps.

      "I guess we need to get our stuff together on being on the same page with that pit road speed," Bowyer said after the race. It's such an important thing and such a big part of this style of racing, where track position is everything. We push it to the limit, but it's so hard to practice pit road speed.

      "You've got trucks on pit road when you're trying to practice that. I'm not making any excuses, it's just when you're trying to pinch every little thing out of it, it was hard this week to practice pit road speed because of all the stuff on pit road...

      "It is what it is -- we just have to quit beating ourselves."

      UNCONTROLLED TIRE COSTS DENNY HAMLIN -- BUT NOT SEVERELY

      Denny Hamlin was philosophical about the uncontrolled tire penalty that sent him to the back of the field for a Lap 272 restart in Sunday's STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

      Up to that point, Hamlin had run consistently in the top five, but as good as the cars of race winner Brad Keselowski and runner-up Chase Elliott were, Hamlin didn't think the infraction cost him a chance to win the race. The most recent Daytona 500 winner worked his way back to fifth at the finish and wasn't overly disappointed with the result.

      "We've got to get better," Hamlin said. "We know that. We're struggling a little bit right now, for sure, but certainly it's a team thing. Last week I had a speeding penalty, so it all equals out. If you're not going to be the best car, you have to execute perfectly.

      "The best car (Keselowski) didn't falter, so it wouldn't have made a difference either way, but certainly cost us maybe one or two spots today. Nothing to hang our heads about. Overall, a good day."

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media

  • Keselowski dominates at Martinsville for win No. 29
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 24, 2019

    One month ago, Brad Keselowski drove to victory in Atlanta despite being caught in the nauseating grip of the flu. On Sunday it was the rest of the drivers in the field who were left feeling queasy as Keselowski was absolutely dominating in winning the STP 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.

    • How dominating was the Michigan native on Sunday? He led 446 of 500 laps, including the final 127, and collected victories in all three stages.

      "Just one of those days you dream of as a race car driver," Keselowski said.

      The victory in the first short track race of the season was the second of the season for Keselowski and the third for Team Penske.

      "The car was really good," Keselowski said, stating the obvious. "Ford worked really hard in the offseason to build these (Mustangs) and make them really strong. And so far, so good."

      It was the 29th victory of Keselowski's Cup career and his second at NASCAR's shortest and oldest track. He beat Kyle Busch over the closing laps for the win in 2017.

      Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports, who had not led a single lap in 2019, led 49 on Sunday and finished second. The margin of victory was .59 seconds.

      "I don't know if we were as good as the 9 car (Elliott)," Keselowski said. "He was really strong. He passed me with about 200 to go, and I watched him and studied him and kind of broke it down and knew what I had to do to hold him off with that fast of a car."

      Elliott left no doubt about what he would have done had he caught the leader in the final laps.

      "I thought we're about as even with him as we could be," Elliott said. "I thought when they got the lead there was a little advantage to being out front, being able to work traffic your way.

      "I tried to get to him there at the end and was pretty well content to move him out of the way but, maybe next time."

      Finishing third was Joe Gibbs Racing's Busch, who was attempting to win his third straight Cup race.

      Team Penske's Ryan Blaney finished fourth while Denny Hamlin of JGR rounded out the top five.

      Joey Logano, whose victory at Martinsville last October set up his Cup championship run, started from the pole and led five laps before he was bumped out of the lead by Team Penske teammate Keselowski. Once out front, Keselowski stayed out front as he led the next 319 laps.

      Elliott became just the third driver to lead the race when he squeezed past Keselowski on the low side with 176 laps to go.

      Keselowski re-captured the lead during yellow flag pit stops and never trailed again.

      While Busch's two-race Cup winning streak came to an end, he was able to leave Martinsville with his 201st win across NASCAR's top three series as he won Saturday's Truck Series race.

      The winner of last year's race, Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing, twice was penalized for speeding on pit road but still wound up finishing seventh.

      --Field Level Media

  • Logano claims pole at Martinsville for fifth time
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, March 23, 2019

    MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- With surgical efficiency, Joey Logano continued his domination of knockout qualifying at Martinsville Speedway.

    • Saving his car and his tires for the final round of Saturday's time trials at the .526-mile short track, Logano won the pole for Sunday's STP 500 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) with a lap at 97.830 mph (19.356 seconds).

      Driving the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, Logano edged Stewart-Haas Racing Ford driver Aric Almirola (97.643 mph) for the top starting spot by .037 seconds. Brad Keselowski (97.458 mph) qualified third, followed by Kevin Harvick (97.382 mph), as Ford drivers captured the top four positions on the grid.

      The Busch Pole Award was Logano's first of the season, his fifth at Martinsville and the 21st of his career. Logano ran only three laps total in the first two rounds, allowing him to save his tires for a four-lap run in the final round. His last lap was his fastest.

      "It's awesome to get another pole and hopefully we can top it off with another win," said Logano, who used a victory in last year's Playoff race at Martinsville as a springboard to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. "This is a fun race. I always look forward to coming up here."

      Logano has earned his five of the last seven contested poles at Martinsville over a nine-race span, with two of the qualifying sessions canceled because of adverse weather.

      All told, Fords claimed six of the top 12 starting positions, including Team Penske drivers Logano and Keselowski and all four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers -- Almirola, Harvick, Daniel Suarez (10th) and Clint Bowyer (11th). In contrast to Logano's economical runs, Bowyer had 16 laps on his tires at the end of the final round.

      Five-time Martinsville winner Denny Hamlin paced the first two rounds but had to settle for fifth when the starting order for the top 12 drivers was decided. Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. (ninth) were the only Toyota drivers to make the final round.

      William Byron was sixth fastest in the money round to lead four Chevrolets in the final 12. He was joined by Chip Ganassi Racing's Kyle Larson (seventh) and fellow Hendrick Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott (eighth) and Jimmie Johnson (12th), who leads active drivers with nine victories at the paper-clip-shaped track.

      Trying for his third straight Cup win on Sunday -- not to mention a weekend sweep of the Martinsville races -- Saturday's NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victor Kyle Busch will start 14th in the STP 500.

      "Too loose. Just didn't have it with track conditions today," said Busch, who opted not to make a mock qualifying run during practice.

      For Byron, the sixth-place run was a welcome end to a frustrating day. Early in Saturday's opening practice, his No. 24 Chevrolet bounced off the outside wall. His crew spent the rest of the session -- and then some -- repairing the car.

      "I'm kind of optimistic, but we've had a rough day," Byron said after qualifying. "These two-day shows are tough, and we started out with a flat right front (tire) and hit the wall. Then in second practice, we were way behind because we didn't have enough practice time.

      "The guys made a lot of great changes to get it right going into qualifying. We were really struggling over the bumps over both ends, really, and getting on the concrete (in the corners). We'll see what happens -- should be fun."

      Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying -- 70th Annual STP 500

      Martinsville Speedway

      Martinsville, Virginia

      1. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 97.830 mph.

      2. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 97.643 mph.

      3. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 97.458 mph.

      4. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 97.382 mph.

      5. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 97.362 mph.

      6. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 97.202 mph.

      7. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 97.098 mph.

      8. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 97.053 mph.

      9. (19) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 97.018 mph.

      10. (41) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 96.830 mph.

      11. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 96.706 mph.

      12. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 96.573 mph.

      13. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 96.755 mph.

      14. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 96.716 mph.

      15. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 96.696 mph.

      16. (47) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 96.671 mph.

      17. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 96.647 mph.

      18. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 96.602 mph.

      19. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 96.602 mph.

      20. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 96.499 mph.

      21. (6) Ryan Newman, Ford, 96.484 mph.

      22. (95) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 96.465 mph.

      23. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 96.357 mph.

      24. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 96.146 mph.

      25. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 96.298 mph.

      26. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 96.107 mph.

      27. (43) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 95.917 mph.

      28. (00) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 95.709 mph.

      29. (8) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 95.603 mph.

      30. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 95.569 mph.

      31. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 95.415 mph.

      32. (36) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 95.415 mph.

      33. (52) Jeb Burton(i), Chevrolet, 94.689 mph.

      34. (77) DJ Kennington(i), Chevrolet, 94.618 mph.

      35. (32) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 0.000 mph.

      36. (51) Cody Ware #, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

      --Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service, Special to Field Level Media

  • Questions about bump-and-run hound Logano at Martinsville
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, March 23, 2019

    MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Joey Logano offers understanding, but no apologies.

    • After he applied the bumper to Martin Truex Jr.'s Toyota in the final corner of last year's fall race at Martinsville Speedway, Logano edged past Truex for the race victory and a guaranteed berth in the Championship 4 event at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

      In that season finale, Logano went on to win his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title.

      Logano understood why Truex was upset at being denied his first short-track win on the final lap. But Logano wasn't sorry.

      Given that the series is returning to Martinsville this weekend for the first time since last November's memorable race, it was inevitable that the subject of the bump-and-run would come up.

      "I mean, it's in the past at this point," Logano said. "But I think at that point Martin texted me and, like I told you guys, he was pretty clear that he was frustrated with the move. I understood, and I think he understood why I had to do it, and it kind of played out and worked out, but my move to him was that I didn't wreck you. I gave the old bump-and-run.

      "That happened 15 times a race here at Martinsville, and that one was just a little more popular. I think there's a fine line. You don't want to straight out bump somebody on purpose, but you also, when it comes down to the end of the race like that and there's that much on the line, ... that was our shot to win a championship.

      "So I think every driver has a line that they are OK with and that you can go to sleep at the end of the night and say, ‘I did what I had to do and I'm all right with it,' and if it happened to me, you have to be OK with that as well. I think that was the situation for me that I was trying to explain to him."

      COREY LAJOIE SUFFERS BRAKE FAILURE, HARD CRASH IN PRACTICE

      Perhaps the most uncomfortable feeling at any race track comes from stabbing the brakes and feeling the pedal sink to the floorboard.

      That's what happened to Corey LaJoie, whose No. 32 GoFas Racing Ford crashed hard into the Turn 1 wall after his brakes failed in Saturday's opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Martinsville Speedway.

      The car suffered extensive front-end damage, leaving the right front tire barely rolling at a cockeyed angle as LaJoie nursed the car back to pit road.

      "I'll tell you, there is no coffee strong enough that will wake you up like losing brakes into Turn 1 at Martinsville," LaJoie said after the crash. "It's not a good feeling losing brakes. It had like a half-pedal, and then it felt like it blew through the seal or something.

      "It's unfortunate, because small teams like ours, we don't really bring a backup (car) that's fully ready to go, so my guys have a lot of work ahead of them. I'll probably pitch in and help a little bit, but, obviously, our backup is not going to be as good as the car that we choose and bring as our primary."

      MARTINSVILLE CUP PRACTICES PRODUCE MIXED BAG OF LEADERS

      With teams toggling back and forth between race trim and qualifying trim, Saturday's two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice sessions at Martinsville Speedway produced radically different groups of cars at the top of the leaderboard.

      Clint Bowyer, defending race winner in Sunday's STP 500 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), paced the opening session with a lap at 97.674 mph. Daniel Suarez and Aric Almirola, Bowyer's teammates at Stewart-Haas racing, were second and third fastest, respectively.

      Happy Hour was a completely different story. With Chase Elliott leading the way at 97.542 mph, Hendrick Motorsports drivers claimed the top three spots on the leaderboard. Alex Bowman was second fastest, followed by nine-time Martinsville winner Jimmie Johnson, who is looking for a turnaround after four straight finishes of 12th or worse at the .526-mile short track.

      Martin Truex Jr., the victim of a last-lap bump-and-run in last year's Playoff race at Martinsville, figures to be a contender again Sunday, after leading consecutive-lap averages over runs of five, 10 and 20 laps.

      Near the end of final practice, Cody Ware wheel-hopped into the outside wall. His No. 51 Chevrolet sustained heavy damage in the accident.

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR wire service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Hamlin eager for shot at Martinsville's shorter track
    By Field Level Media / Friday, March 22, 2019

    MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Denny Hamlin, who won the most recent Daytona 500 on a 2.5-mile track, is happy to be visiting NASCAR's oldest and shortest Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series speedway this weekend.

    • In Hamlin's view, the 0.526-mile Martinsville Speedway features something else that's short -- the list of potential winners.

      "There's really five guys that are kind of up front in those races," Hamlin says. "It doesn't really change much from that."

      In fact, there are only eight active drivers who have won at Martinsville since 2011: Jimmie Johnson three times; Kyle Busch twice; and Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano once each.

      Cup drivers will be using the new competition package at Martinsville with roughly 750 horsepower and increased downforce through the implementation of a larger spoiler, leading Hamlin to predict a possible track record due to higher cornering speeds.

      But Hamlin doesn't expect the new rules to change the list of contenders for the coveted grandfather clock trophy.

      "It doesn't really matter what the package is," Hamlin said. "You always continue to kind of race against the same guys. I think there's a technique there. Sometimes somebody different will hit it and be in contention, but ultimately, it seems like the race winners are all the same group."

      All told, Hamlin has five victories at the track. Johnson has nine wins, most among active drivers, but he hasn't finished better than 12th since picking up his ninth victory in the fall race of 2016.

      JOHNNY SAUTER: THE SECRET TO MARTINSVILLE IS HARD TO EXPLAIN

      Like Denny Hamlin, Johnny Sauter has an exceptional record at Martinsville Speedway, with four victories and a pole in 22 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts at the short track.

      Sauter and Hamlin feature similar backgrounds, learning their craft on asphalt short tracks, but beyond that, Sauter is at a loss to explain why certain drivers excel at Martinsville and others never solve the mystery of one of NASCAR's most enigmatic venues.

      "I think for a lot of us, it's similar to what we grew up doing," Sauter said on Friday during a question-and-answer session with reporters at the speedway. "Our background has been around this kind of racing, or this type of atmosphere or whatever you want to call it.

      "I know it is for me. I've always been partial to short tracks. It's fun. I've been fortunate to win at mile-and-a-half's and Daytona and all those places, but when you win here, you feel like it's a big feather in your cap.

      "But to answer your question, I don't know. Me, personally, I think it's about equipment and that feel you're looking for as a driver -- and I seem to get it sometimes."

      Sauter was eighth fastest in Friday's final Truck Series practice, but his strength at the speedway typically manifests itself in long-run speed.

      CLINT BOWYER LOOKS FOR ANOTHER JUMP-START AT MARTINSVILLE

      When Clint Bowyer won last year's spring race at Martinsville Speedway, it was the perfect antidote to a disappointing debut season at Stewart-Haas Racing.

      Five races into the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, Bowyer is looking for another rally, after an overheating issue at Auto Club Speedway (Fontana, Calif.) left him 38th in the Auto Club 400 and 15th in the series standings.

      NASCAR's shortest track may be the ideal venue for Bowyer, whose win last year followed several impressive at the 0.526-mile speedway.

      "I've felt like I'm someone that's capable of winning at Martinsville for several years," Bowyer said. "It felt good to finally check that box. When I look at race tracks, that was always one that I said, ‘Damn it. I can win at that place.' And we finally did."

      With another victory at Martinsville, Bowyer would earn another grandfather clock trophy to go with the last year's prize, but the way the driver of the No. 14 Ford sees it, that might be a mixed blessing.

      "It's super cool," Bowyer added. "But it's a pain in the ass. I'm not lying. It dings and chimes and stuff, but it's a good reminder of that day and what we accomplished that day."

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Preece primed to show short-track talent
    By Field Level Media / Friday, March 22, 2019

    By Holly Cain

    • NASCAR Wire Service

      DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Even JTG Daugherty Racing's Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate, Ryan Preece, can appreciate the irony. For a young talented driver renowned for his short track background and expertise, his best showing so far this year is a top-10 in the Daytona 500 on the sport's most famous superspeedway.

      Preece, 28, is genuinely optimistic, however, to feature those skills that helped him rise in the stock car ranks when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races Sunday in the STP 500 (at 2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at the Martinsville Speedway half-miler.

      This is Preece's wheelhouse, as they say.

      He already owns a Martinsville grandfather clock trophy from a win there in 2008 - the first of 22 victories in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour - a series the Connecticut native won the championship in (2013).

      "It's what most of us that come through the ranks grow up doing," Preece said of short track racing. "Heavy braking, getting the car turned, being able to drive off the corner, pick the throttle up as quick as possible. It's something that I'm used to doing."

      "These mile-and-a-halves, that's just a different package where you're on the throttle so much, it's kind of outside the nature of what I'm used to doing. Kind of going to a place like Martinsville, and I would say even the next few races, it's going to be very familiar to what my background is.

      "It makes me very optimistic. Obviously if you look back at JTG's runs with AJ [Allmendinger] and even Chris [Buescher] last year, they ran really well. It makes me very excited to go there this weekend."

      Allmendinger, who previously drove the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet Camaro that Preece now drives, had five top-10 finishes in 10 Martinsville races with the team between 2014-2018, including a best showing of runner-up in the spring of 2016.

      Six of Preece's 17 career top-10 finishes in the Xfinity Series have come on tracks one-mile or shorter, including wins at Iowa Speedway (2017) and Bristol Motor Speedway (2018).

      Even with his particular background and place atop the current Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, he insisted this week he is at best cautiously optimistic about his Martinsville Monster Energy Series debut. It's a careful balance of managing expectations and carrying confidence.

      "Man, the expectations?" he said. "It's hard to say without being there or running there with the team. I mean, my expectations when I go to a short track are to be a contender. Really at this point, it's to have a really smooth weekend, run top-10 most of the day. If we can get a top-five, that would be fantastic.

      "Definitely short tracks like Martinsville, Bristol, New Hampshire, those are kind of in my wheelhouse. It's something I've been doing for a long time. When it comes to the restarts and all those moments of being aggressive, it's something that I enjoy doing.

      "As far as what I expect, I expect that we should show really well and at least be running top-10 and hopefully get a top-five by the end of the weekend."

      There should certainly be a good vibe at Martinsville for Preece. His success there initially put him on the map for NASCAR teams searching for young, untapped talent.

      He acknowledged, however, his short track debut in NASCAR's big leagues will be a definitive new test. The hard-nosed, bumper-on-you style that has long characterized this form of exciting full-contact racing will be a brand new arc on Preece's learning curve. But, he said this week, he feels absolutely ready for it.

      "I've never been anybody who really wants to put a bumper to someone," Preece said. "I always try to find a way around them without doing that.

      "At the end of the day, I think we all just look for respect. You're going to race somebody the way they race you. I'm going to fully intend on going into the weekend just like I would a Modified [race], that's finding a way around without using them up.

      "At the end of the day, as long as we're respectful to others, I believe you get respect back. That's kind of how I'm going to approach it. I don't fully intend on going there and smashing people."

      The style and philosophy has certainly worked for Preece, who leads the Sunoco Rookie standings for the fourth time in the season's opening five weeks. He's ranked 25th overall, tops among the four-driver 2019 rookie class with one top-10 (his Daytona 500 debut). He was involved in wrecks at both Atlanta and Phoenix but responded last week with a solid 23rd-place effort at Fontana, Calif.

      In six years, Preece has made 67 starts in either the Xfinity or Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, but had the chance previously to run only a single full season - the 2016 Xfinity Series schedule for team JD Motorsports.

      So the encouraging start to 2019 says a lot about Preece's natural ability, but also about his huge drive to make good on this opportunity.

      "It's nice," Preece said of leading the rookie standings. "It's showing that we're right there. But Daniel [Hemric], he's shown a lot of speed, especially during the West Coast Swing. That's something we addressed in the meetings yesterday.

      "Our goal at the beginning of the year was to make the Playoffs. We're kind of in a hole right now because of Atlanta and because of Phoenix. It's really put us behind.

      "We just really need to turn it around and get to where the 37 is running and hopefully sneak in some top-10s and be up front. It's definitely not from a lack of effort. Hopefully we can turn things around and really fight these guys."

      --Field Level Media

  • Weekend preview: Time for short track thrills at Martinsville
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, March 21, 2019

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The NASCAR short track season is officially upon us -- huge grins, high spirits, bumpers and intensity all around.

    • Sunday's STP 500 at the half-mile Martinsville Speedway (at 2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) opens the test of gumption, patience and short track mastery for the season.

      Certainly the last time the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series visited Martinsville it met all expectations of drama and excitement. With a 2018 championship spot on the line, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. went door-to-door and bumper-to-bumper for the win in an epic duel in the final laps.

      The two made contact multiple times. Ultimately Logano moved leader Truex out of the way in a "bump and run" move, winning the race and earning his spot to ultimately be in the Championship Four at Homestead-Miami. Logano answered with his first Monster Energy Series championship three weeks later with a victory in South Florida.

      The final lap intensity that Logano and Truex showed last year is every bit what NASCAR fans have come to expect in short track racing -- that particular chapter came complete with a post-race promise from Truex that he would not soon forget the way Logano raced him.

      The defending winner of Sunday's race, Stewart-Haas Racing's Clint Bowyer earned his first win at the track in a less dramatic, however equally stellar fashion, leading a race best 215 laps. He was one of three drivers who led at least 100 laps on the afternoon (Ryan Blaney, 145, and Denny Hamlin, 111).

      Over the course of their careers, it's been Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch leading the short track (Martinsville and Bristol, Tenn.) statistics among active drivers.

      Johnson has nine wins at Martinsville and two at Bristol. Kyle Busch has seven victories at Bristol and two at Martinsville. His brother Kurt has six wins at Bristol and a pair at Martinsville, including the longest span between wins there (22 races) between his first win in 2002 and last in 2014.

      And Denny Hamlin is always a favorite at Martinsville, where he's won five times -- second only to Johnson's nine among active drivers. This year's Daytona 500 winner has four top-10s in the opening five races and won this race last in 2015.

      Interestingly, over the last 10 races at Martinsville and Bristol, there have been only two drivers to win multiple times at the tracks. Logano has a pair of wins at Bristol (2014-15). And Kyle Busch is the only one to do so at both tracks -- winning twice in that time frame at Martinsville (2016-17) and also at Bristol (2017-18).

      There have been nine different winners in the last 10 Martinsville races, and eight different winners in the last 10 Bristol races.

      Three of the last four Martinsville winners -- Logano, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski -- already have wins this season.

      Busch, who scored his 200th NASCAR national series win last week at California's Auto Club Speedway, is looking to earn his third consecutive win and top that magic number. So far he's won on Phoenix's ISM Raceway one-miler and the Auto Club Speedway two-miler and he's eager to see if he can retain his magic in the epic 500-miler at Martinsville's historic half-mile "paperclip."

      "I think just being able to get comfortable, get settled and make sure that you're good to go for those hauls," Busch said about the demands of racing at Martinsville. "Don't worry about what lap it is ,ever, during a race. That's the worst thing that could happen to you.

      "You just try to not ever worry about what lap you're on or what's going on around you. You just keep battling, keep driving, keep your focus forward on what you're doing. That's the best way to go about those long, long races."

      GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES

      The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series returns to competition this week in the Martinsville 250 at Martinsville Speedway (at 2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) after a two-week break.

      Grant Enfinger leads the series driver championship standings with a six-point advantage over Sunoco rookie Harrison Burton, but history has proven Martinsville remains a race very much up for grabs. There have been eight different winners in the last 10 races.

      The exception to that is veteran Johnny Sauter, who has won two of the last five. His four career wins are most in series history at the track. He's still looking for his first win of 2019 and ranked sixth in the championship since changing teams this season and returning to ThorSport Racing where he raced from 2009-16.

      Defending race winner John Hunter Nemechek is not entered this weekend, however one of the track's most high-profile former winners, Bubba Wallace, will be competing. The Richard Petty Motorsports fulltime Monster Energy NASCAR Cup driver is very partial to Martinsville as that's where he scored his first career victory (2013) in one of NASCAR's three national series. He added another in 2014, making Martinsville the only track on the circuit where he's been a repeat winner.

      Other fulltime Monster Energy and Xfinity Series drivers entered this week include Kyle Busch, a two-time Gander Outdoors Truck Series winner already this year, along with Austin Dillon, Ross Chastain and Timmy Hill, who will debut an entry for his new family-owned team -- Hill Motorsports.

      Coming into the race, points leader Enfinger and defending series champion Brett Moffitt are the only drivers with two top-five finishes in the opening three races. Neither has won at Martinsville, however. The top-10 in the standings are separated by only 26 points heading into the weekend and show a very diversified points battle with four Fords, three Chevrolets and three Toyotas represented.

      MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES

      Next Race: STP 500

      Defending race winner: Clint Bowyer

      The Place: Martinsville Speedway

      The Date: Sunday, March 24

      The Time: 2 p.m. ET

      TV: FS1

      Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

      Distance: 263 miles (500 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 130),

      Stage 2 (Ends on lap 260), and Final Stage (Ends on lap 500)

      What to watch for: Ford drivers Clint Bowyer (Stewart-Haas Racing) and Joey Logano (Team Penske) won the two Martinsville races in 2018. The last time Ford won back-to-back races at the track was 2001 when Dale Jarrett and Ricky Craven brought home the season wins for the manufacturer. ... Hendrick Motorsports has won a record 24 Martinsville races. Geoff Bodine (1984) was Hendrick's first winner at the track and Jimmie Johnson (2016) was the last. ...There have been nine different winners in the last 10 Martinsville races and the manufacturer parity is equally as impressive -- four for Chevrolet, three for Ford and three for Toyota. ... There were 11 lead changes in both the spring and fall races at Martinsville last year. ... Johnson is the last pole sitter to win at the track. He did it back-to-back in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. ... Johnson, a nine-time Martinsville winner, boasts the top driving rating (113.3) and five-time winner Denny Hamlin is second best at 107.0. ... Johnson leads all active drivers in average running position (6.871), laps run in the top-15 (84.1 percent) and average finish (8.0). ... Kurt Busch has the most career starts (37) among active drivers, with one win (Spring 2014) and six top-10s. .... Grey Gaulding (October 2016), Chase Elliott (March 2015) and Michael McDowell (March 2008) all made their Cup debuts at Martinsville. .... Logano has won the most pole positions (four) among active drivers. Darrell Waltrip owns the all-time record of eight. ... Nearly half the Martinsville winners (25 of 52) have multiple wins at the track. ... The pole position is the winningest starting position on the grid (21 victories). .... A victory Sunday for Johnson would make him only the third driver to have 10 wins or more at multiple tracks, joining Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip. .... The late Dale Earnhardt has the most runner-up finishes at Martinsville (seven). Johnson has the most (four) among active drivers.

      NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES

      Next Race: Martinsville 250

      Defending Race Winner: John Hunter Nemechek

      The Place: Martinsville Speedway

      The Date: Saturday, March 23

      The Time: 2 p.m. ET

      TV: FOX

      Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

      Distance: 131.5 miles (250 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 70),

      Stage 2 (Ends on lap 140), and Final Stage (Ends on lap 250)

      What to watch for: Defending race winner John Hunter Nemechek has three finishes of runner-up or better in 11 races at Martinsville. ... Johnny Sauter won the race in November. The last time a driver won back-to-back races was Mike Skinner who swept the 2007 season. ... Sauter has a series-best four wins at Martinsville. He is the only repeat winner in the last 10 races, winning in November of both 2016 and 2018. ... In five of the last six years, the Gander Outdoors Truck Series champion scored a win in the opening four races of the season. So far only Daytona winner Austin Hill is eligible. Kyle Busch won the Atlanta and Las Vegas races but the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship contender is ineligible for the Truck title. ... Veteran Grant Enfinger leads the series driver championship standings. He holds a six-point edge over rookie Harrison Burton. ... Three teen drivers will make their series debuts this weekend, including 17-year-olds Derek Kraus of Wisconsin and Canadian Raphael Lessard along with 18-year-old Juan Manuel Gonzalez, of Mexico. ... Popular driver Bubba Wallace, now a fulltime Monster Energy NASCAR Cup competitor, will be competing in the Truck race. He has two wins at Martinsville including his first ever national series victory in 2013. He is a perfect 4-for-4 in scoring top-five finishes at the half-mile track. ... Sauter is the only Martinsville winner in the last five races to lead the most laps and earn the victory. He led 148 en route to the November win at the track. Previously Ben Rhodes (134 laps in Spring 2018), Matt Crafton (102 laps, Fall 2017), Christopher Bell (96 laps, Spring 2017) and Chase Elliott (109 laps, Fall 2016) led the most laps in a race and did not hoist the trophy. ... Burton leads Sheldon Creed in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.

      --Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Auto Racing Glance
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, March 20, 2019

    MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES: STP 500 (500 laps, 263 miles around a .526-mile paperclip oval), Martinsville Speedway; Martinsville, Va.

    • TV: Sunday, 2 p.m. ET (Green flag approx. 2:13 p.m. ET) -- FS1 (Radio: Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

      THIS WEEK: In the sixth of 36 races on the season, Kyle Busch won his 200th race in NASCAR's top three series last week by taking home the checkers at Fontana, Calif. It ties him with Richard Petty for most all-time wins in the top three series, but all of Petty's came at the Cup level. ... This will be the 141st Cup race at Martinsville, the most of any track in the history of the series when you exclude the qualifying races at Daytona. ... Martinsville hosted its first race in 1949. ... Clint Bowyer won this race last year, with Joey Logano winning in the fall. ... Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with nine wins at Martinsville, and that means nine of the grandfather clock trophies in his house. ... Denny Hamlin has won five times at what the Chesterfield, Va., native considers to be a home track. ... Hall of Fame member Petty won 14 times at Martinsville, the most in history. ... Busch led 134 of the 200 laps at Auto Club last week and collected all seven of the playoff points available by winning both stages and the race itself. ... *Kyle Busch leads the Cup standings with 237 points, followed by *Logano (222), Kevin Harvick (213), *Hamlin (205), *Brad Keselowski (176), Aric Almirola (174), Martin Truex Jr. (169), Kyle Larson (163), Kurt Busch (160) and Ryan Blaney (155) rounding out the top 10.

      *Denotes race winner and playoff berth. Standings per NASCAR.com.

      BEST BETS: Kyle Busch is the favorite again at 9/2 followed by Harvick at 5/1 with Truex, Larson and Keselowski at 7/1. Defending winner Bowyer at 20/1 is nice value, with Austin Dillon at 60/1 a good long shot.

      NASCAR XFINITY SERIES

      THIS WEEK: The series is taking the week off after running five straight to open the season. ... The series returns March 30 at Texas Motor Speedway for the My Bariatric Solutions 300. ... Cole Custer edged Kyle Busch to win last week at Fontana, Calif., but Tyler Reddick leads the standings with 220 points, followed by *Custer (213), *Christopher Bell (206), Brandon Jones (183), Austin Cindric (179), *Michael Annett (178), Justin Allgaier (171), Noah Gragson (161), Ryan Sieg (153) and John Hunter Nemechek (149).

      *Denotes race winner and playoff berth. Standings per NASCAR.com.

      NASCAR GANDER MOUNTAIN TRUCK SERIES: NASCAR GANDER MOUNTAIN TRUCK SERIES RACE AT MARTINSVILLE (250 laps, 131.5 miles around a .526-mile paperclip oval), Martinsville Speedway; Martinsville, Va.

      TV: Saturday, 2 p.m. ET (Green flag approx. 2:13 p.m. ET) -- Fox (Radio: Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

      THIS WEEK: The trucks are back in action after a two-week layoff, and after Saturday's race, they will be headed to Texas for a race just six days later. Then comes a four-week layoff. ... This will be the 41st Truck Series race at Martinsville, the first being in the series' inaugural season in 1995. ... John Hunter Nemechek won this race last year with Johnny Sauter winning in the fall. ... Grant Enfinger leads the Truck standings (117 points), followed by Harrison Burton (111), *Austin Hill (108), Stewart Friesen (103), Brett Moffitt (102), Sauter (102), Matt Crafton (96), Ben Rhodes (96), Todd Gilliland (96) and Sheldon Creed (91).

      *Denotes race winner and playoff berth. Standings per NASCAR.com.

      VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES: INDYCAR CLASSIC (60 laps, 204.6 miles around a 3.410-mile 20-turn permanent road course), Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas.

      TV: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Green flag approx. 1:10 p.m. ET) -- NBCSN (Radio: Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 214, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app).

      THIS WEEK: The series is back in action for one of the most anticipated events of the season, at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. ... This is first American-based major racing series to run the track, though Formula One and MotoGP have made it a fixture on their calendars. ... Josef Newgarden won the season's first race at St. Petersburg, holding off Scott Dixon, Will Power and touted rookie Felix Rosenqvist. ... Newgarden leads the standings (53 points), followed by Dixon (40), Power (37), Rosenqvist (33), and Alexander Rossi (31).

      FORMULA ONE

      THIS WEEK: The series takes a week off after a surprising season-opener in Australia, won by Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas in a runaway over teammate and defending series champion Lewis Hamilton. ... The Ferraris faded late in the race and missed the podium entirely, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen stepping up to finish third. ... Next up for F1 is the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 31. ... Finland's Bottas leads the standings in his Mercedes (26 points), followed by Great Britain's Hamilton, Mercedes (18); Belgium's Verstappen, Red Bull (15); Germany's Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari (12); and Monaco's Charles Leclerc, Ferrari (10).

      NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION

      THIS WEEK: It's time for a two-week break after the just-concluded Gatornationals. ... Winners in Gainesville, Fla., were Richie Crampton in Top Fuel, Robert Hight in Funny Car, Bo Butner in Pro Stock and Andrew Hines in the season debut of Pro Stock Motorcycle. ... The NHRA is back in action April 5-7 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. ... Doug Kalitta leads the Top Fuel standings (246 points), followed by Leah Pritchett (204), Steve Torrence (197), Billy Torrence (178) and Crampton (178) rounding out the top five. ... Hight leads Funny Car (330), followed by Jack Beckman (225), Matt Hagan (215), John Force (200) and Tommy Johnson Jr. (191). ... Butner is on top in Pro Stock (301), followed by Alex Laughlin (229), Jason Line (189), Erica Enders (186) and Matt Hartford (185). ... Hines leads Pro Stock Motorcycle (124), followed by Eddie Krawiec (106), Hector Arana Jr. (76) Joey Gladstone (72) and Matt Smith (63).

      *Stats and standings per NHRA.com.

      --K. Lee Davis, Field Level Media

  • Danica Patrick joins Indy 500 broadcast team
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, March 20, 2019

    Retired driver Danica Patrick will be a studio analyst during NBC's coverage of the 103rd Indianapolis 500.

    • This is the first year NBC will air the race, set for May 26, which was televised for 54 years on ABC.

      Patrick will join host Mike Tirico for pre-race, in-race and post-race coverage. She also will take part as NBC airs Indy 500 Pole Day on May 19.

      "Danica has a perspective unlike any other driver in the history of motorsports and will be a great addition to our first-ever coverage of the Indy 500," said Sam Flood, executive producer and president of production for NBC Sports and NBCSN in a statement. "She has proven to be as fearless with her opinions and analysis as she was in breaking barriers while racing in the most competitive motorsports circuits in the world."

      "The Indianapolis 500 holds a very special place in my heart," Patrick said. "The moment I drive into the facility, I'm flooded with positive emotions. I have no doubt it'll be the same this year when I come back as an analyst."

      Patrick, who turns 37 this week, retired after driving in the Indy 500 last year.

      She joined the Indy circuit in 2005, and as a rookie she was the first woman ever to lead a lap in the race. She went on to win Rookie of the Year, and three years later she won the Indy Japan 300 - her only victory in 116 races on the circuit.

      Patrick began racing on the NASCAR circuit in 2013 and became the first woman to win the Daytona 500 pole. In 2018, she raced in both the Daytona 500 and Indy 500.

      Before her retirement, Patrick worked for Fox Sports as a guest analyst during NASCAR Xfinity races in Michigan, Pocono and Talladega.

      --Field Level Media

  • Auto Racing Glance
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, March 13, 2019

    MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES: AUTO CLUB 400 (200 laps, 400 miles around a 2-mile tri-oval), Auto Club Speedway; Fontana, Calif.

    • TV: Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Green flag approx.. 3:46 p.m. ET) -- Fox (Radio: Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

      THIS WEEK: Four races so far this season, four different winners shared by just two teams. Toyota driver Denny Hamlin won at Daytona and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch won last week at Phoenix. Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano won at Atlanta and Las Vegas, respectively, driving Fords. ... Notably missing from Victory Lane so far is Chevrolet. ... This is the fifth of 36 races on the season, and will be the 30th run at Auto Club, which opened in 1997. ... Martin Truex Jr. won this race last year after starting from the pole. ... Five Fords are in the top 10 in the standings, with three Toyotas and two Chevrolets. ... *Busch leads the Cup standings with 177 points, followed by *Logano (171), Kevin Harvick (168), Hamlin (165), Truex (140), Kyle Larson (138), Aric Almirola (134), *Keselowski (133), Kurt Busch (126) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (123) rounding out the top 10.

      *Denotes race winner and playoff berth. Standings per NASCAR.com.

      BEST BETS: Harvick and Kyle Busch enter Sunday at 5/1 with Keselowski and Logano at 6/1. The first Chevy driver, Larson, is 7/1, but of his five Cup victories, four have come at Auto Club (1) and sister track Michigan (3). It's hard not to like Chase Elliott at 20/1 and Jimmie Johnson at 50/1.

      NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: PRODUCTION ALLIANCE GROUP 300 (150 laps, 300 miles around a 2-mile tri-oval), Auto Club Speedway; Fontana, Calif.

      TV: Saturday, 5 p.m. ET (Green flag approx.. 5:16 p.m. ET) - FS1 (Radio: Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

      THIS WEEK: This is the fifth of 33 races this season and the 30th Xfinity race at Auto Club Speedway. ... Joey Logano won this race last year. ... Full-time Xfinity Series racers are 2-for-4 this year, with full-time Cup driver Kyle Busch winning the past two weeks. ... Chevrolet is performing well in the series, with Chevy drivers holding six of the top 10 spots, with two Ford's and two Toyotas mixed in. ... Tyler Reddick leads the Xfinity standings with 169 points, followed by *Christopher Bell (165), Cole Custer (158), *Michael Annett (147), Brandon Jones (147), Austin Cindric (141), John Hunter Nemechek (140), Noah Gragson (130), Justin Allgaier (128) and Ryan Seig (126).

      *Denotes race winner and playoff berth. Standings per NASCAR.com.

      BEST BETS: Busch is the heavy favorite at 2/3 followed by Bell at 7/2 with Custer and Allgaier at 7/1. Gragson and Nemechek are bargains at 40/1.

      NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

      THIS WEEK: The Trucks are on their final week of a two-week layoff and will return at Martinsville Speedway on March 24.... *Johnny Sauter leads the Truck standings (148 points), followed by *Brett Moffitt (109), Grant Enfinger (108), Noah Gragson (107), Ben Rhodes (103), Stewart Friesen (101), Spencer Davis (94), Dalton Sargeant (92), Matt Crafton (84) and Matt Snider (84).

      *Denotes race winner and playoff berth. Standings per NASCAR.com.

      VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES

      THIS WEEK: After an exciting race to open the 17-race season at St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sunday, the IndyCar Series takes a week off before its inaugural race at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on March 24. ... Josef Newgarden at St. Petersburg, holding off Scott Dixon, Will Power and touted rookie Felix Rosenqvist. ... Newgarden leads the standings (53 points), followed by Dixon (40), Power (37), Rosenqvist (33), and Alexander Rossi (31).

      FORMULA ONE: AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX (58 laps, 191.118 miles around a 3.295-mile 16-turn temporary street circuit), Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia.

      TV: Sunday, 1 a.m. ET (Green flag approx. 1:10 a.m. ET) - ESPN (Radio: SiriusXM Radio Channel 132).

      THIS WEEK: This is the season opener, the first of 21 races. ... Germany's Sebastian Vettel won the race last year in a Ferrari, but ultimately finished second in the championship to the United Kingdom's Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes. ... Vettel is a four-time world champion and Hamilton has five, and both are considered top contenders again. Vettel is chasing the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio, who held the record of five for 45 years before Michael Schumacher came along and ultimately won seven. Schumacher is the only target left for Hamilton. ... This will be the 83rd Australian Grand Prix, the first being contested in 1928.

      NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION: AMALIE MOTOR OIL NHRA GATORNATIONALS, Thursday-Sunday, at Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, Fla.

      TV: Eliminations, Sunday, 7:30-10:30 p.m. ET (Delayed) FS1

      THIS WEEK: The hot rods are back after two of 24 events this season, headed to Gainesville, Fla. for the Gatornationals on March 14-17. ... In the most recent event in Arizona, Billy Torrence won in Top Fuel, Matt Hagan in Funny Car and Jeg Coughlin Jr. winning Pro Stock. Pro Stock Motorcycle debuts at the Gatornationals. ... Torrence leads the Top Fuel points with 178, followed by Doug Kalitta (172), Leah Pritchett (145), Steve Torrence (137) and Terry McMillen (132) rounding out the top five. ... Robert Hight leads Funny Car (205), with Hagan (160), Jack Beckman (151), Tommy Johnson Jr. (132) and Bob Tasca III (129) giving chase. ... Bo Butner is on top of Pro Stock (181), followed by Jason Line (157), Erica Enders (152), Matt Hartford (147) and Coughlin (145).

      *Stats and standings per NHRA.com.

      --K. Lee Davis, Field Level Media

  • Kyle Busch chasing milestone 200th win
    By Field Level Media / Monday, March 11, 2019

    By Holly Cain

    • NASCAR Wire Service

      DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Having swept the two NASCAR races at Phoenix's ISM Raceway over the weekend and now standing one victory away from one of the most remarkable statistical achievements in his sport - 200 NASCAR national series victories - Kyle Busch smiled and conceded Sunday afternoon, that he looks forward to a time when he won't be asked so many questions about reaching the 200-win milestone.

      And when he scores that next national series victory - possibly this weekend at California's Auto Club Speedway - it will likely be a marker on the way to a career victory total never to be seen again.

      At only 33-years old in the prime of his racing career driving for the championship winning Joe Gibbs Racing organization, the questions seem fated to ultimately turn to his 250th or maybe even 300th win before the 2015 Monster Energy Series champion retires one day. So those big numbers still to come are more the sort of historic achievements he can reflect and pontificate on during his induction speech to the NASCAR Hall of Fame immediately after his driving days are complete.

      "We've been talking about it for a long, long time," Busch acknowledged in his race winner's news conference Sunday afternoon in Phoenix. "I mean, I don't know what else to say that I've not already said. It's just a goal that I set out a long, long time ago.

      "Just having the opportunities that I have, to go out there and try to win. Each and every time we're in a race car, that's what my job is. We just keep winning, the stats will keep piling up."

      Busch's 94 NASCAR Xfinity Series and 53 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series wins are the most all-time in both series.

      And the 52nd Cup trophy he hoisted Sunday at ISM Raceway already makes him the 11th most prolific winner in that series' history. And it's absolutely worth saying again - he's only 33 years old.

      Sunday's victory puts him now only two wins behind 10th place Lee Petty (Richard Petty's father) and three wins shy of ninth place Rusty Wallace on the all-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins list. Every single Cup driver ranked ahead of Busch at this point has already been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Only seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson's 83-win mark is ahead of Busch among active drivers.

      Breaking down Busch's winning percentage in each series - he has won 10.4 percent of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, 27.1 percent of his NASCAR Xfinity Series races and 36.1 percent of his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series races. Busch's combined NASCAR national series winning percentage is a stout 19.9%.

      Richard Petty won 200 races in 1,184 Cup starts for a winning percentage of 16.9%. The late seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt won 76 races in 676 Cup starts and 21 Xfinity races in 136 starts. His combined total of 97 wins in 812 NASCAR national series races equals 11.9 percent.

      Jeff Gordon won 93 Cup races and five Xfinity Series races in a combined total of 878 starts. His winning percentage is 11.1 percent.

      Comparing only Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories and starts - the late NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson set the mark winning 105 times in 574 starts or an incredible winning percentage of 18.2 percent.

      Busch has won at least one Cup race in the last 15 seasons, including a career-high mark of eight victories in 2008 and 2018.

      He won his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2015 despite missing the first 11 races recovering from injuries he suffered in the Xfinity race - the day before the season-opening Daytona 500. He won five of the 25 races he competed in that year and since coming back from the injury has won 23 races - nearly half of his career victory total.

      Busch's first NASCAR national series win came in an Xfinity Series race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in 2004 when he was 19 years old. He won the pole position and led 236 of the race's 250 laps to earn his first trophy.

      Since 2005 - Busch has won a race in all three series - every season except 2012, when he did not match his Cup victory with a win in the Xfinity or Truck series.

      As for Busch's current run of excellence, he has not finished outside of the top-10 in a race since Texas (17th) during the 2018 Playoff run. He has a six-race streak of top-10 finishes, including four this season. He is the only driver to score top-10 finishes in every race this year.

      Busch has two Truck Series and two Xfinity wins as well as the Phoenix Cup victory for a total of five national series wins through the first four weeks of the 2019 season. His weekend sweep at ISM Raceway was his 12th - most all-time.

      And statistically speaking, there is no sign of a slowdown in California, where he is entered in both the Monster Energy and Xfinity series races.

      Busch has three Cup wins at Auto Club Speedway, including back-to-back victories in 2013-14. He's led laps in 16 of the last 18 races. He finished third last year. Plus, he has a track-best six Xfinity Series wins at California, including three in a row from 2010-11.

      And just for good measure, Busch is two-for-two in NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts on the two-mile oval - winning in 2008 and 2009. Plus, he swept Auto Club Speedway's NASCAR national series races in 2013; grabbing both Cup and Xfinity Series wins that weekend.

      "It's not for me to worry about," Busch said of that 200-win mark. "It's for everybody else to discuss and talk about and argue over and debate.

      "But for myself and the career that I've had, I've been fortunate to be with a lot of great people, a lot of great sponsors, those that stick around me - like Joe Gibbs, M&M'S, Skittles, Snickers, Interstate Batteries - who have always been behind me, is what it's all about for me. To work with my guys, take them to Victory Lane, is what it's all about."

      --Field Level Media

  • TicketGuardian 500 results
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 10, 2019

    Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race - 15th Annual TicketGuardian 500

    • ISM Raceway

      Avondale, Arizona

      Sunday, March 10, 2019

      1. (4) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 312.

      2. (9) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 312.

      3. (1) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 312.

      4. (14) Aric Almirola, Ford, 312.

      5. (3) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 312.

      6. (31) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 312.

      7. (16) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 312.

      8. (15) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 312.

      9. (8) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 312.

      10. (12) Joey Logano, Ford, 312.

      11. (26) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 312.

      12. (18) Ryan Newman, Ford, 312.

      13. (19) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 312.

      14. (2) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 312.

      15. (20) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 312.

      16. (22) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 312.

      17. (17) Paul Menard, Ford, 311.

      18. (11) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 311.

      19. (5) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 311.

      20. (30) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 311.

      21. (13) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 311.

      22. (23) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 311.

      23. (28) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 311.

      24. (7) William Byron, Chevrolet, 310.

      25. (29) David Ragan, Ford, 310.

      26. (24) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 310.

      27. (33) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 308.

      28. (25) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 308.

      29. (10) Erik Jones, Toyota, 304.

      30. (35) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 302.

      31. (36) Bayley Currey(i), Ford, 301.

      32. (34) Cody Ware #, Chevrolet, 300.

      33. (32) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 267.

      34. (21) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, Accident, 229.

      35. (6) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, Accident, 191.

      36. (27) Michael McDowell, Ford, Accident, 157.

      Average Speed of Race Winner: 101.693 mph.

      Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 4 Mins, 5 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.259 Seconds.

      Caution Flags: 9 for 57 laps.

      Lead Changes: 17 among 6 drivers.

      Lap Leaders: R. Blaney 1-35;K. Busch 36-40;R. Blaney 41;D. Hamlin 42-45;K. Busch 46-65;D. Hamlin 66;R. Blaney 67-79;K. Busch 80-152;D. Hamlin 153;K. Busch 154-195;R. Blaney 196;J. Johnson 197-200;K. Busch 201-220;D. Hamlin 221;D. Hemric # 222-225;A. Almirola 226-251;R. Blaney 252-295;K. Busch 296-312.

      Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kyle Busch 6 times for 177 laps; Ryan Blaney 5 times for 94 laps; Aric Almirola 1 time for 26 laps; Denny Hamlin 4 times for 7 laps; Jimmie Johnson 1 time for 4 laps; Daniel Hemric # 1 time for 4 laps.

      Stage #1 Top Ten: 12,10,22,88,18,42,3,24,9,4

      Stage #2 Top Ten: 18,14,4,19,11,6,48,22,9,1

      --By NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Daniel Hemric is up for the challenge of his rookie season
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, March 9, 2019

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Daniel Hemric will concede that the start to his official rookie season hasn't resulted in jaw-dropping, headline-earning finishes -- yet.

    • But the driver of the Richard Childress Racing No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 remained upbeat and optimistic talking about his chances in Sunday's TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway (at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

      The former NASCAR Xfinity Series championship contender has endured a rather "rookie" start with finishes of 34th, 20th and 23rd as he shows up in Phoenix. But his optimism about the season comes with good reason.

      With new technical packages on the cars -- a different variation in three of the opening four races this season -- and the natural adjustment of competing in a higher series, Hemric still manages to smile about his outlook and expectations.

      "Well, it's been a bit of a whirlwind of emotions, I feel like," Hemric said. "First off, to take part in my first Daytona 500 with Richard Childress Racing at the Cup level and have all the things that happened throughout that event, and then be running inside the top 10 inside of 25 to go and obviously get caught up in it all.

      "And we had glimmers of hope and the biggest things I took out of the first race was knowing our communication was where it needed to be. All the things we had done throughout the offseason to prepare as a group and try to get over the hurdles that you face throughout the first two to three months of a year, I feel like we had already overcome a lot of that stuff before we got to Daytona. That was a positive and that showed when we got to Atlanta."

      Hemric, 28, finished in the top five in the two Xfinity Series championships (2017-18) he competed in -- including third place last year. And the North Carolina native had top-10 title runs (2015 and 2016) in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series, too. He conceded, however, that it has been a brand-new game in the elite Monster Energy NASCAR Cup level. As he expected.

      "Honestly, I don't think the challenge of the driving has been the biggest challenge," Hemric said. "I think it's been processing all the people and data and outlets you have for resources. That is the biggest thing from any level I've ever been a part of to the Cup level.

      "And then knowing that because you have those avenues you can take a lot off of yourself and lean on those guys, lean on the data and stuff that you have to kind of decipher through throughout any given race week. I think I will just get better at that whole process as this whole deal goes because it's just something that is new and you've got to get comfortable with.

      "The challenge of the cars themselves, everybody is gouging and trying to do the best they can with what they've got. It's all the little details that make or break you. Hopefully, we are homing in on what we need."

      With a strong fifth-place qualifying run last week at Las Vegas, Hemric was insistent on Friday afternoon in Phoenix that speed is definitely not a problem for this team.

      "It is more frustrating when your car drives great and you have no speed. We have been on both sides of it, I have, at certain points in my career, so that point I feel fortunate to have. The guys at ECR, Chevrolet and everyone back home are doing the things we need to get to that point. We've just got to figure out for a balance what we have to have to race better.

      Hemric certainly can be encouraged about his history at Phoenix. He was runner-up in the most recent Xfinity race there last November and scored another top five in 2017.

      And the finish statistics in his first three Cup races this year do not reflect the effort, he reminded.

      "I think we have been put through a lot of different things already as a group, but we have been able to overcome and continue to smile and put our heads down and work, and that is what is going to keep us moving forward," Hemric said.

      --By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Rising talents Deegan, Daniels carry torch for women in motorsports
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, March 9, 2019

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of Hailie Deegan's season-opening victory in NASCAR's K&N Pro Series West at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend was that she doesn't consider the victory big news just because she's a young woman.

    • To Deegan, the achievement is important because of the strong statement it makes about the season to come. She's there to win. And she's already shown she can.

      Today marks International Women's Day -- and in the sporting world, in particular, it's appropriate to look at how women's roles have changed with a concept so basic as opportunity.

      Deegan, and many women involved in the competition side of NASCAR, continue to carry the torch forward.

      "I think that's the great thing about NASCAR," Deegan said. "There's so much room for a girl to come in and take over the sport, do things no one else has done. In the world now, there's not a lot of areas to do that and I think NASCAR presents a lot of opportunities for a girl to come in and to really do that."

      Certainly that's been the case in ways both ordinary and high profile. The NASCAR industry has women in major leadership positions -- from Lesa France Kennedy, who is CEO of the International Speedway Corporation and vice chairperson of the NASCAR board of directors, to Julie Giese, who oversees this week's race venue, ISM Raceway in Phoenix, to Jill Gregory, who serves as NASCAR's executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

      But the sport also has women working hard on race day in other varied and innovative ways -- driving cars like Deegan, working on pit crews like Brehanna Daniels and Breanna O'Leary and serving as race engineers such as Angela Ashmore and Andrea Mueller -- all roles even recent generations didn't necessarily foresee. Ashley Parlett Malec was among the pioneers who worked in the garage for Chip Ganassi Racing.

      Both Deegan and Giese were just named to Forbes Magazine's prestigious "Women in Sports to Watch in 2019" list.

      "Everything I've worked for and everything I've planned to accomplish, I've wanted this all to happen," Deegan said of her increasing success in NASCAR.

      "I think I just put the most pressure on myself. There is other pressure, but mostly from me wanting to perform the best I can, not just going out there and being the best of a couple girls, I want to be the best driver out there."

      Both Daniels and O'Leary share the same kind of sentiment in terms of working hard. However, they were both college athletes and neither says they had even considered working in the NASCAR industry until rather unlikely paths were established.

      Daniels still laughs telling the story of when the game announcer for her Norfolk State University basketball team stopped her one day at lunch -- mid-bite -- to encourage her to attend an on-campus tryout for the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew development program.

      "She told me, ‘I feel like you'll do a really good job because you do good at anything you put your mind to,'" she recalled. "She pulled out her phone and showed me a video of a pit stop and my reaction was, ‘Dang that's fast.' ... I was just fascinated by it all."

      Daniels vividly remembers an unlikely source of motivation during the tryout. She was the only woman among four men at this particular stop, and one of them told her, "Girls don't really make it in this."

      "That just gave me that extra motivation to make this happen," Daniels said. "I'm going to score, I'm going to be that change, that difference."

      The rest of the story is both "history" as the saying goes, but also the future.

      Like Daniels, O'Leary hadn't been a particularly robust racing fan. She played softball at Alcorn State University in Mississippi and worked as a graduate assistant in the school's strength and training program.

      She tried out for NASCAR Drive for Diversity in 2016 and, following a national combine, was selected for the program and began working with race teams. O'Leary credits the hard work and mental strength she developed as a college athlete to help her in this completely new venture.

      "I never would have imagined the impact that has come from this," O'Leary says. "And that's the most rewarding part of it, being a role model for younger girls who thought this was something they couldn't do or maybe were scared to do.

      "I hope I make them proud and set a good example, so it's always looked at in a positive manner. Looking at the bigger picture, they would see my whole story -- of working hard to learn something brand new that can get you somewhere regardless of gender."

      Last month Daniels and O'Leary pitted together on Rick Ware Racing's No. 52 car in the Daytona 500 -- the first time that female graduates of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program went over the wall in the Great American Race. This weekend, Daniels will once again be on the No. 52 car in the Cup Series and O'Leary will be pitting the No. 77 car in the ARCA Menards Series race.

      "I receive messages, pictures and videos on a daily basis of parents showing me their little girls trying to change a tire," Daniels said. "Young people, old people, everyone reaching out."

      --By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Blaney wins Phoenix pole, his first of season
    By Field Level Media / Friday, March 8, 2019

    AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan Blaney ended the day the way he started it -- with the fastest car at ISM Raceway.

    • After leading opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice with the quickest lap of the day (141.716 mph), Blaney put his No. 12 Team Penske Ford on the pole for Sunday's TicketGuardian 500 at the one-mile track.

      Blaney covered the distance in 25.480 seconds (141.287 mph) in the final round of knockout qualifying to outpace Chase Elliott (140.045 mph) by a comfortable .203 seconds.

      The pole was Blaney's first of the season, his second at Phoenix and the sixth of his career, putting Blaney in good position to follow teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano to Victory Lane, after their respective wins at Atlanta (Feb. 24) and Las Vegas (March 3).

      "We've just got to clean some stuff up," said Blaney, who had a fast car at both Atlanta and Las Vegas, only to be done in by pit road snafus. "While it's nice to have Penske winning, I'm selfish -- I want to win. It's good to have our cars really fast, and our finishes definitely don't reflect how we've been running."

      "We've been really fast at all three places so far. If you keep bringing fast cars to the race track, ultimately, it'll work out for you one of these times. I want to be part of the winning club here in the Penske group. It's nice to have the whole team really fast right now. We fired out of the box really good this year, so hopefully we can just keep it going."

      DAYTONA 500 winner Denny Hamlin qualified third at 140.007 mph, followed by Joe Gibbs racing teammate Kyle Busch (139.855 mph) Keselowski, Alex Bowman, William Byron, nine-time winner Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Daniel Hemric, and Logano.

      Elliott had mixed feelings about his front-row starting position.

      "I hate qualifying second," Elliott said. "We've qualified second out here last fall and then this one. But I guess he (Blaney) isn't a bad one to qualify second to. But I look forward to Sunday."

      "I think our Hooters Camaro at least has a good place to start, and we can have a good pit selection. That's important. We have a long race ahead. But I'd really like to get a pole outside of a (super)speedway track. We'll try again next week."

      The first round of qualifying ended with a fracas between Ford drivers Michael McDowell and Daniel Suárez, neither of whom made the top 24. Suarez accused McDowell of holding up the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Mustang on his crucial hot lap at the end of the session.

      Suárez returned the favor by trying to wreck McDowell's No. 34 Front Row Racing Ford after the fact.

      After exiting his car, Suárez stepped over pit wall and advanced toward McDowell, who made a preemptive strike and shoved Suárez. The two grappled, and Suárez body-slammed McDowell to the pavement before the two combatants were separated.

      "I was just trying to get in his way like he did to me," Suárez said. "I'm the kind of driver that I'm going to give a lot of respect to you always, if you give me respect back. If you don't give me respect, I'm going to go kick your ass."

      McDowell said that, with most drivers waiting to post laps until time was running out on the first round, heavy traffic was inevitable.

      "It was just miscommunication on the race track," McDowell said. "We all kind of waited till the end, and then you just had a lot of traffic. Just unfortunate. He was upset that I held him up on his good lap, and then he tried to crash us. I just didn't appreciate it."

      "It's heat of the moment stuff. Just racing. Shorter practice session. Shorter qualifying. Getting late going through tech. The intensity ramps up. It's all a part of it."

      Coincidentally, McDowell (27th) and Suárez (28th) will start side-by-side from the 14th row on Sunday.

      Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying -- 15th Annual TicketGuardian 500

      ISM Raceway

      Avondale, Arizona

      1. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 141.287 mph.

      2. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 140.171 mph.

      3. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 140.007 mph.

      4. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 139.855 mph.

      5. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 139.849 mph.

      6. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 139.768 mph.

      7. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 139.567 mph.

      8. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 139.411 mph.

      9. (19) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 139.206 mph.

      10. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 138.991 mph.

      11. (8) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 138.846 mph.

      12. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 138.664 mph.

      13. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 138.867 mph.

      14. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 138.803 mph.

      15. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 138.803 mph.

      16. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 138.766 mph.

      17. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 138.739 mph.

      18. (6) Ryan Newman, Ford, 138.696 mph.

      19. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 138.520 mph.

      20. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 138.435 mph.

      21. (47) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 138.329 mph.

      22. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 137.452 mph.

      23. (43) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 136.939 mph.

      24. (32) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 136.830 mph.

      25. (95) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 136.804 mph.

      26. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 136.560 mph.

      27. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 136.514 mph.

      28. (41) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 136.472 mph.

      29. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 136.457 mph.

      30. (36) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 136.307 mph.

      31. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 134.786 mph.

      32. (00) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 134.444 mph.

      33. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 133.388 mph.

      34. (51) Cody Ware #, Chevrolet, 129.636 mph.

      35. (77) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 125.672 mph.

      36. (52) Bayley Currey(i), Ford, 0.000 mph.

      --Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service, Special to Field Level Media

  • Auto Racing Glance
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, March 6, 2019

    MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES: TICKETGUARDIAN 500 (312 laps, 312 miles (500 kilometers) around a 1-mile tri-oval), ISM Raceway; Avondale, Arizona.

    • TV: Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Green flag approx. 4 p.m. ET) -- Fox (Radio: Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

      THIS WEEK: The fourth of 36 races on the season, this one comes to a "new" old track. ... ISM Raceway has been reconfigured and overhauled, with the start-finish line being moved to just before the dogleg, which used to be the backstretch. Many fan attractions have been updated as well. ... Three different drivers have won the first three races of the season, but in the last two weeks two drivers for Team Penske have taken home the trophy. ... 2018 champion Joey Logano won last weekend in Las Vegas in his Ford Mustang, with Brad Keselowski winning the week before in Atlanta. ... Kevin Harvick won this race last year and Phoenix has been his personal playground, with seven wins in the last 13 races at the track. ... Denny Hamlin took the season-opening Daytona 500 in a Toyota Camry. ... This is the 46th Cup race at ISM Raceway. ... *Logano leads the Cup standings with 133 points, followed closely by Harvick (131), *Hamlin (127), Kyle Busch (121), *Keselowski (115), Kyle Larson (102), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (99), Martin Truex Jr. (98), Erik Jones (98) and Kurt Busch (95).

      *Denotes race winner and playoff berth. Standings per NASCAR.com

      BEST BETS: At 7/2, Harvick and Kyle Busch are the obvious favorites, and the top of the standings and the best odds match up pretty well. Keselowski is 8/1, Logano 9/1. Value pick? Jimmie Johnson, who once dominated at Phoenix, is 30/1

      NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: NASCAR XFINITY SERIES RACE AT ISM RACEWAY (200 laps, 200 miles around a 1-mile tri-oval), ISM Raceway; Avondale, Arizona.

      TV: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET (Green flag approx. 4:16 p.m. ET) -- FS1 (Radio: Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

      THIS WEEK: This is the fourth of 33 races this season. This is the 35th Xfinity race at ISM. ... Brad Keselowski won this race last spring while Christopher Bell won in the fall. ... Full-time Xfinity Series racers are 2-for-3 this year, with full-time Cup driver Kyle Busch winning last week at Las Vegas. ... *Bell leads the Xfinity standings with 139 points, followed by Cole Custer (121), Tyler Reddick (121), Brandon Jones (117), *Michael Annett (111), John Hunter Nemechek (107), Justin Allgaier (96), Ryan Sieg (96), Ross Chastain (96), Noah Gragson (94) and Austin Cindric (94).

      *Denotes race winner and playoff berth. Standings per NASCAR.com

      NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES

      THIS WEEK: The Trucks are beginning a two-week layoff after three of 23 races this season and will return at Martinsville Speedway on March 23. ... Kyle Busch won last week's race at Las Vegas. ... Grant Enfinger leads the Truck standings (117 points), followed by Harrison Burton (111), *Austin Hill (108), Stewart Friesen (103), Brett Moffitt (102), Johnny Sauter (102), Matt Crafton (96), Ben Rhodes (96), Todd Gilliland (96) and Sheldon Creed (91).

      *Denotes race winner and playoff berth. Standings per NASCAR.com

      VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES

      THIS WEEK: The 2019 season starts March 10 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

      FORMULA ONE

      THIS WEEK: The 2019 season starts March 17 in Melbourne, Australia

      NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION

      THIS WEEK: The hot rods are off after two of 24 events this season before heading to Gainesville, Fla., for the famed Gatornationals on March 14-17. ... In Arizona two weeks ago, Billy Torrence won in Top Fuel, Matt Hagan in Funny Car and Jeg Coughlin Jr. winning Pro Stock. Pro Stock Motorcycle debuts at the Gatornationals. ... Torrence leads the Top Fuel points with 178, followed by Doug Kalitta (172), Leah Pritchett (145), Steve Torrence (137) and Terry McMillen (132) rounding out the top five. ... Robert Hight leads Funny Car (205), with Hagan (160), Jack Beckman (151), Tommy Johnson Jr. (132) and Bob Tasca III (129) giving chase. ... Bo Butner is on top of Pro Stock (181), followed by Jason Line (157), Erica Enders (152), Matt Hartford (147) and Coughlin (145).

      *Stats and standings per NHRA.com.

      --By K. Lee Davis, Field Level Media

  • NASCAR notebook: Speeding penalty costs Kyle Busch
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 3, 2019

    LAS VEGAS -- It was Lap 129 of Sunday's Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Kyle Busch had his car dialed in.

    • In the wake of Friday's victory in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and Saturday's win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race, a three-event weekend sweep at his home track was well within his grasp.

      Nine laps earlier, Busch had wrested the lead from eventual race winner Joey Logano, before heading pit road on Lap 129. Busch came in hot, diving off the Turn 4 banking toward the curved entrance to pit road.

      Sensing that his speed might be excessive, Busch hammered the brakes in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and lit up his tires, which screamed as he slid past the commitment line. But the braking wasn't enough, and Busch was flagged for speeding in Sector 1.

      The infraction earned a pass-through penalty, but Busch managed to stay on the lead lap through the end of the race's second stage. Restarting 16th after the final caution, Busch worked his way forward, running the fastest lap times on the track.

      But Busch ran out of time after passing Kevin Harvick for third place five laps from the finish. Closing on Logano and runner-up Brad Keselowski with fewer than three laps left, Busch was held up by the lapped car of Corey Lajoie, and his winning chances -- however remote at that point -- were gone.

      "I certainly screwed up our day," Busch lamented. "Coming to pit road there, we tried a different brake package for us this weekend, and trying to make up time, and in order to get a bigger jump on the guys behind me coming to pit road there, just ruined it for us.

      "And we had to come from the back, and I think we passed the most cars today, so I think we were the most impressive today, but doesn't matter because we don't have a trophy. Whatever. Next week."

      KEVIN HARVICK'S TEAM STILL TRYING TO DECIPHER NEW PACKAGE

      For the second straight week, Kevin Harvick looked dominant in the early stages of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

      Harvick was the class of the field in the first stage of the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, leading Laps 1-43 from the pole and closing out the stage after green-flag pit stops by leading Laps 62-80.

      In the second half of the race, however, Harvick lost the handle on his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford and fell to fourth at the finish. The arc of the Las Vegas event mirrored that of the Atlanta Cup race a week earlier, when Harvick won the second stage before fading to fourth.

      "The second half of the race, it's happened to us two weeks in a row," Harvick said. "The last two weeks, we've just been way off to start practice, based on where everybody thought we should start. And we just weren't even in the ballpark, making huge changes to get in the ballpark.

      "They've done a great job of getting the car close. When we get some baseline stuff here, we can start working on the details and not scrambling so much. But they're doing a great job, and we knew that was going to be a possibility, and we didn't know where we'd be with our cars.

      "We qualified decent and had a good first half of the race two weeks in a row, but just got tighter as the race went on."

      KURT BUSCH RIDES CONTRARIAN STRATEGY TO TOP-FIVE FINISH

      Kurt Busch was struggling in dirty air early in Sunday's Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

      The solution? Trade the dirty air for clean air at the front of the pack.

      Busch and crew chief Matt McCall opted to stay on track as long as possible during the second stage of the race, pitting for tires and fuel with 15 laps left in the segment. That enable Busch to keep his No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet on the track while others came to pit road for the stage break.

      Busch led the field to green on Lap 168 and held the top spot on older tires despite huge pressure from Kevin Harvick. It took 20 laps for Harvick to grab the lead from Busch, who held on for a fifth-place finish in his third race with his new team.

      "We got really tight in traffic, and our pit strategist was saying that, if we stayed long in the second stage, then we could stay out," Busch said. "It played out to where we got clean air, and it completely changed the complexion of the car...

      "It gave us a lot to learn from today, and I'm really proud of everybody to get a top five. Now we've got two top fives to year, but we know we've got some more work to do."

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 results
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, February 24, 2019

    Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race - 60th Annual Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

    • Atlanta Motor Speedway

      Hampton, Georgia

      Sunday, February 24, 2019

      1. (19) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 325.

      2. (9) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 325.

      3. (8) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 325.

      4. (18) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 325.

      5. (3) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 325.

      6. (6) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 325.

      7. (15) Erik Jones, Toyota, 325.

      8. (1) Aric Almirola, Ford, 325.

      9. (30) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 325.

      10. (5) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 325.

      11. (4) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 325.

      12. (7) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 325.

      13. (13) Ryan Newman, Ford, 325.

      14. (14) Paul Menard, Ford, 325.

      15. (16) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 325.

      16. (23) David Ragan, Ford, 325.

      17. (17) William Byron, Chevrolet, 325.

      18. (2) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 324.

      19. (22) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 324.

      20. (28) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 324.

      21. (10) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 324.

      22. (26) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 324.

      23. (27) Joey Logano, Ford, 324.

      24. (11) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 323.

      25. (21) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 323.

      26. (20) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 322.

      27. (29) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 322.

      28. (31) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 319.

      29. (24) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 319.

      30. (34) Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, 318.

      31. (32) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 313.

      32. (37) BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 313.

      33. (36) Cody Ware #, Ford, 303.

      34. (33) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 284.

      35. (25) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, Accident, 271.

      36. (35) Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 254.

      37. (12) Michael McDowell, Ford, 222.

      Average Speed of Race Winner: 142.626 mph.

      Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 30 Mins, 33 Secs. Margin of Victory: .218 Seconds.

      Caution Flags: 5 for 30 laps.

      Lead Changes: 26 among 9 drivers.

      Lap Leaders: A. Almirola 0;R. Stenhouse Jr. 1;A. Almirola 2-37;K. Larson 38-87;M. Truex Jr. 88;K. Harvick 89-91;K. Larson 92;K. Harvick 93-111;K. Larson 112-125;K. Harvick 126;J. Logano 127-128;K. Larson 129-152;K. Harvick 153;K. Larson 154-161;K. Harvick 162-172;M. Truex Jr. 173;K. Harvick 174-177;K. Larson 178-220;M. Truex Jr. 221;K. Larson 222-223;M. Truex Jr. 224;K. Harvick 225-230;R. Blaney 231-271;J. Logano 272-282;K. Busch 283;J. Logano 284-292;B. Keselowski 293-325.

      Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kyle Larson 7 times for 142 laps; Kevin Harvick 7 times for 45 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 41 laps; Aric Almirola 1 time for 36 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 33 laps; Joey Logano 3 times for 22 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 4 times for 4 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 1 lap; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 1 lap.

      Stage #1 Top Ten: 42,4,10,1,19,12,22,11,17,14

      Stage #2 Top Ten: 4,42,19,12,11,22,1,20,18,14

      --By NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Auto Racing Glance
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 20, 2019

    MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES: FOLDS OF HONOR QUIKTRIP 500 (325 laps, 500.5 miles around a 1.54-mile D-shaped oval), Atlanta Motor Speedway; Hampton, Ga.

    • TV: Sunday, 2 p.m. ET (Green flag approx.. 2:16 p.m. ET) -- Fox (Radio: Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

      THIS WEEK: The second of 36 races on the season, it is often said that the real season starts now since the mammoth 2-5-mile Daytona International speedway -- the site of the first race - is such an outlier compared to the tracks that make up the bulk of the schedule. ... And this is the first real reveal of the new rules package, with new aerodynamic rules and less horsepower, making this race one to watch. ... Atlanta Motor Speedway is a so-called "cookie-cutter track," a 1.5-mile D-shaped oval similar to the most popular style in NASCAR, which includes Texas, Charlotte, Kansas, Chicagoland, Kentucky, Las Vegas and Homestead, though each is lightly different from one another. ...Teams will get their first chance to unveil they're intermediate-track cars and packages this week and see what they have towards making the playoffs in September. ... This will be the 112th Cup race held at Atlanta, which opened in 1960 and now hosts one race a year. ... Denny Hamlin won last week at Daytona. ... Kevin Harvick won this race last year. ... Hamlin* leads the points standings (52), with the tie-breaker over Joey Logano (52), followed by Kyle Busch (45), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (39), Erik Jones (35), Alex Bowman (35), Kyle Larson (33), Jimmie Johnson (33), Michael McDowell (32), Ty Dillon (32) and Brad Keselowski (32) rounding out the top 10 (11 with ties).

      *Denotes race winner and playoff berth. Standings per NASCAR.com

      BEST BETS: Harvick is a 4-1 shot to repeat in his Ford, the favorite over Busch and his Toyota (6-1) and Logano (6-1) and his Ford.

      For value shoppers, take a gander at Ryan Blaney: He's 20/1 with Ford power under the hood, and Fords have had a horsepower advantage in recent seasons.

      Less value, perhaps, but history is also on the side of Brad Keselowski (8-1), who has finished in the top five each of the past two stops in Atlanta.

      And don't dismiss oldie but goodie Jimmie Johnson (25-1). He's won two of his past three starts here with a running position that implies he'll still be around when the leaders emerge Sunday afternoon.

      NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: RINNAI 250 (163 laps, 251 miles around a 1.54-mile oval), Atlanta Motor Speedway; Hampton, Ga.

      TV: Saturday, 2 p.m. ET (Green flag approx.. 2:16 p.m. ET) - FS1 (Radio: Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

      THIS WEEK: The series also gets to see who has what on the intermediate tracks. ... This is the 28th Xfinity race at AMS. ... Kevin Harvick won this race last spring. ... Michael Annett won the Xfinity race last week at Daytona, but Brandon Jones (49) leads the standings, followed by Ross Chastain (43), Annett* (43), Austin Cindric (41), Justin Allgaier (39), Christopher Bell (39), Ryan Seig (37), John Hunter Nemechek (37), Jeffrey Earnhardt (35) and Tyler Reddick (33).

      *Denotes race winner and playoff berth. Standings per NASCAR.com

      BEST BETS: Bell (2-1) and Cole Custer (9-2) don't offer a ton of value, but Ryan Preece (7-1) does, and he's a proven winner with a small sample size. Annett at 80-1 might look like a risk, but has a legit chance to cash here.

      NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES: ULTIMATE TAILGATING 200 (130 laps, 200 miles around a 1.54-mile oval), Atlanta Motor Speedway; Hampton, Ga.

      TV: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (race start is approx.. 4:52 p.m. ET) Radio: Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

      THIS WEEK: This is the 18th time the Trucks will race at Atlanta and is the second of 23 races for the season. ... Brett Moffitt won this race last year. ... This is the middle race of three straight weekends for the Trucks before a two-week layoff after next week's race in Las Vegas. ... Austin Hill won last week's race at Daytona and leads the Truck standings (49 points), followed by Grant Enfinger (46), Spencer Boyd (39), Stewart Friesen (36), Austin Wayne Self (34), Matt Crafton (32), Josh Reaume (31), David Gilliland (31), Ben Rhodes (31), Timothy Peters (30) and Sheldon Creed (30) rounding out the top 10 (11 with ties).

      *Denotes race winner and playoff berth. Standings per NASCAR.com

      BEST BETS: Kyle Busch (1-2) eats Truck victories for breakfast, but Moffitt (6-1) and Johnny Sauter (10-1) are solid bets. Gilliland (30-1) drives for Busch and a Kyle Busch Motorsports truck is likely to win. Peters at 200-1 is too good to pass up for those who like a dash of risk in their investments.

      VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES

      THIS WEEK: The 2019 season starts March 10 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

      FORMULA ONE

      THIS WEEK: The 2019 season starts March 17 in Melbourne, Australia

      NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION

      MAGIC DRY ORGANIC ABSORBENT NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS, Friday-Sunday, at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park; Chandler, Ariz.

      TV: Eliminations, Sunday, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. ET (live) FS1

      THIS WEEK: The hot rod set is back in action for the NHRA Arizona Nationals for the second of 24 events this season. ... The series started up two weeks ago in Pomona, Calif., where Doug Kalitta won in Top Fuel, Robert Hight taking home the Wally in Funny Car and Bo Butner winning Pro Stock. Pro Stock Motorcycle debuts at the Gatornationals on March 14-17. Winners at Arizona last winter were Steve Torrence in Top Fuel, Courtney Force in Funny Car and Chris McGaha in Pro Stock. ... Kalitta leads the Top Fuel points with 117, followed by Torrence (106), Terry McMillen (72), Mike Salinas (70) and Billy Torrence (56) rounding out the top five. ... Hight leads Funny Car (121), with Jack Beckman (100), Tommy Johnson Jr. (81), John Force (71) and Shawn Langdon (58) giving chase. ... Butner is on top of Pro Stock (120), followed by Jason Line (97), Erica Enders (80), Alex Laughlin (76) and Matt Hartford (52).

      *Stats and standings per NHRA.com.

      --K. Lee Davis, Field Level Media

  • Daytona 500 results
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, February 17, 2019

    Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race - 61st Annual Daytona 500

    • Daytona International Speedway

      Daytona Beach, Florida

      Sunday

      1. (10) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 207.

      2. (31) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 207.

      3. (28) Erik Jones, Toyota, 207.

      4. (4) Joey Logano, Ford, 207.

      5. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 207.

      6. (22) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 207.

      7. (26) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 207.

      8. (21) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 207.

      9. (17) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 207.

      10. (36) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 207.

      11. (2) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 207.

      12. (35) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 207.

      13. (5) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 207.

      14. (19) Ryan Newman, Ford, 207.

      15. (25) Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, 205.

      16. (20) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 205.

      17. (18) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, Accident, 200.

      18. (32) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 200.

      19. (38) BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 200.

      20. (6) Clint Bowyer, Ford, Accident, 199.

      21. (1) William Byron, Chevrolet, Accident, 198.

      22. (16) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, Accident, 198.

      23. (30) Brendan Gaughan(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 197.

      24. (27) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Accident, 196.

      25. (12) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 196.

      26. (3) Kevin Harvick, Ford, Accident, 194.

      27. (39) Tyler Reddick(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 191.

      28. (9) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, Accident, 190.

      29. (7) Paul Menard, Ford, Accident, 190.

      30. (24) David Ragan, Ford, Accident, 190.

      31. (14) Ryan Blaney, Ford, Accident, 190.

      32. (8) Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 190.

      33. (23) Daniel Suarez, Ford, Accident, 190.

      34. (29) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, Accident, 190.

      35. (11) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, Accident, 190.

      36. (33) Matt Tifft #, Ford, Accident, 190.

      37. (15) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, Accident, 190.

      38. (13) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, Accident, 169.

      39. (37) Cody Ware #, Chevrolet, Accident, 155.

      40. (40) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, Accident, 104.

      Average Speed of Race Winner: 137.44 mph.

      Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 45 Mins, 55 Secs. Margin of Victory: .138 Seconds.

      Caution Flags: 12 for 47 laps.

      Lead Changes: 15 among 9 drivers.

      Lap Leaders: W. Byron 1-2;R. Stenhouse Jr. 3-6;M. DiBenedetto 7-21;K. Busch 22;R. Stenhouse Jr. 23-34;K. Busch 35-61;J. Logano 62-72;D. Hemric # 73;M. DiBenedetto 74-107;K. Busch 108;R. Blaney 109-121;W. Byron 122-163;J. McMurray 164-169;D. Hamlin 170-190;K. Busch 191-198;D. Hamlin 199-207.

      Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Matt DiBenedetto 2 times for 49 laps; William Byron 2 times for 44 laps; Kyle Busch 4 times for 37 laps; Denny Hamlin 2 times for 30 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2 times for 16 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 13 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 11 laps; Jamie McMurray 1 time for 6 laps; Daniel Hemric # 1 time for 1 lap.

      Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,88,22,41,12,11,9,42,4,20

      Stage #2 Top Ten: 12,24,10,2,17,95,4,41,48,22

      --By NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • France reaffirms family's commitment to NASCAR
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, February 17, 2019

    NASCAR chairman Jim France reaffirmed his family's commitment to NASCAR on Sunday as he spoke briefly at the beginning of the drivers' meeting Sunday prior to the start of the Daytona 500.

    • "This sport was built by families and we're just a part of it," said France, who addressed competitors with niece Lesa France Kennedy, NASCAR executive vice president and the CEO of International Speedway Corp., standing beside him.

      "It's so important that we remember that this is still a family business. Our family is committed to it. It's a tough, tough sport, tough business. It's hard, but we've got a soft family side and that's what makes NASCAR special. So, on behalf of us and all of us in this room, we appreciate the great drivers, the great teams and the great sponsors that are here today making this happen."

      France's statement comes a year after reports suggested the France family was looking to sell NASCAR. The family has not specifically addressed the reports, but NASCAR announced in November that it had made an offer to purchase all outstanding shares of Class A and Class B common stock in International Speedway Corp., which owns a majority of the NASCAR-sanctioned tracks including Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

      In November, France indicated that the intent was to combine ISC and NASCAR into one privately run group of companies led by the France family. He said the need for "a unified approach for growth" was in response to falling attendance numbers and television ratings as well as teams' struggles to find high-dollar sponsorship.

      France, the youngest son of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., replaced nephew Brian France as chairman last August when Brian was arrested for aggravated driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of a controlled substance. While he has attended nearly every race since taking over, Jim France has not yet granted an interview.

      --Field Level Media

  • Gander RV Duel at Daytona results
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, February 14, 2019

    Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race -- Gander RV Duel 1

    • Daytona International Speedway

      Daytona Beach, Florida

      Thursday, February 14, 2019

      1. (8) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 60.

      2. (10) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 60.

      3. (6) Paul Menard, Ford, 60.

      4. (16) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 60.

      5. (4) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 60.

      6. (17) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 60.

      7. (12) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 60.

      8. (2) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 60.

      9. (13) Ryan Newman, Ford, 60.

      10. (15) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 60.

      11. (11) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 60.

      12. (19) Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, 60.

      13. (9) Tyler Reddick(i), Chevrolet, 60.

      14. (14) Ryan Truex(i), Chevrolet, 60.

      15. (20) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 60.

      16. (1) William Byron, Chevrolet, 60.

      17. (3) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 59.

      18. (7) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 59.

      19. (18) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 59.

      20. (5) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 58.

      21. (21) Cody Ware, Chevrolet, 58.

      Average Speed of Race Winner: 177.749 mph.

      Time of Race: 0 Hrs, 50 Mins, 38 Secs. Margin of Victory: .165 Seconds.

      Caution Flags: 1 for 3 laps.

      Lead Changes: 2 among 3 drivers.

      Lap Leaders: W. Byron 1-15;L. Cassill 16;K. Harvick 17-60.

      Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kevin Harvick 1 time for 44 laps; William Byron 1 time for 15 laps; Landon Cassill 1 time for 1 lap.

      ------

      Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race -- Gander RV Duel 2

      Daytona International Speedway

      Daytona Beach, Florida

      Thursday, February 14, 2019

      1. (3) Joey Logano, Ford, 60.

      2. (4) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 60.

      3. (9) Aric Almirola, Ford, 60.

      4. (6) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 60.

      5. (10) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 60.

      6. (8) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 60.

      7. (14) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 60.

      8. (2) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 60.

      9. (5) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 60.

      10. (17) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 60.

      11. (11) David Ragan, Ford, 60.

      12. (16) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 60.

      13. (1) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 59.

      14. (7) Erik Jones, Toyota, 59.

      15. (15) Brendan Gaughan(i), Chevrolet, 59.

      16. (19) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 59.

      17. (13) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 59.

      18. (12) Michael McDowell, Ford, 58.

      19. (18) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 57.

      20. (21) Joey Gase(i), Toyota, 57.

      21. (20) BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 57.

      Average Speed of Race Winner: 193.133 mph.

      Time of Race: 0 Hrs, 46 Mins, 36 Secs. Margin of Victory: .126 Seconds.

      Caution Flags: 0 for laps.

      Lead Changes: 4 among 4 drivers.

      Lap Leaders: A. Bowman 1-11;C. Bowyer 12-13;*. Gaughan(i) 14-20;C. Bowyer 21-59;J. Logano 60.

      Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Clint Bowyer 2 times for 41 laps; Alex Bowman 1 time for 11 laps; * Brendan Gaughan(i) 1 time for 7 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 1 lap.

      --By NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Hamlin has must-win mindset at Daytona 500
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Denny Hamlin readily acknowledges that when he shows up at Daytona International Speedway, he is a race favorite. He's earned that distinction as a former Daytona 500 winner.

    • But this year a victory in the sport's biggest race wouldn't only be of historical significance of but put an end to the longest winless streak in the 38-year-old Virginian's decorated Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career. Last year, he did not win a race for the first time since his 2006 rookie season.

      "I feel pretty optimistic,'' Hamlin said, sitting down to meet with reporters during the annual Daytona 500 Media Day. "I would say about the same as usual to be honest with you.

      "I thought The Clash (last Sunday afternoon) kind of gave us an indication that we were able to kind of get up front even starting last. We got up front in a timely manner. No surprises really from that, so there's no reason to think otherwise that we can't win."

      This year, his showing in the Feb. 17 Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusNASCAR Radio) will be especially important and, frankly, sentimental as he has dedicated his season to one of his biggest supporters. J.D. Gibbs passed away last month at age 49 after a long illness.

      Gibbs, son of Joe Gibbs Racing founder Joe Gibbs, died on Jan. 11 from degenerative neurological disease. J.D. was not only president of the NASCAR championship organization but he was the person who signed a 23-year-old Hamlin to the team in 2005. It was a relationship established on talent but built on equal parts friendship and business. And this week, Hamlin still looked pained and sentimental thinking of the loss.

      "It'll be super-important [to do well],'' Hamlin said. "Everyone knows how important he was for me and my career and everything he did for us, so certainly having success on track will be crucial for that. Now that I pledged $111 for every lap that we lead, it's going to be important for me to get up front and get up front often."

      Up front is a reasonable and likely place to find Hamlin at Daytona International Speedway. His work in the Daytona 500 -- specifically -- and Speedweeks in general, is undoubtedly a career highlight reel. He is the 2016 Daytona 500 winner, earned three victories in the Duel at Daytona qualifying races and three wins in the Advance Auto Parts Clash -- including his career first Cup-level victory as a rookie in the 2006 Clash non-points race.

      His total of 267 laps led in the Daytona 500 is most in this year's field as are his 407 total laps led at Daytona International Speedway (also including the summer Coke Zero 400).

      Hamlin is also among the sport's most elite company, winning both the Clash and the Daytona 500 in the same year -- something that's occurred only six times.

      This season Hamlin's No. 11 FedEx Toyota will have a new crew chief in Chris Gabehart, who moved up from JGR's NASCAR Xfinity Series stable. Interestingly, as much pressure as there is in the sport's most celebrated race, Hamlin thinks the Daytona 500 restrictor plate race may well be the best kind of transition for a new crew chief.

      "I think it's actually a good race to start with a new crew chief because you're not really talking about handling that much,'' Hamlin said. "It's a good one to just kind of get your feet wet on the communication side of things. What his lingo is on the radio versus mine, so I think it's actually a good start to the year.

      "Even for the drivers that are in new situations to start a year on a superspeedway where you're not really having to fix the car much. It's kind of more about the driver and how he strategically makes his way through the pack."

      A win or even a good showing in the 500 would certainly continue the kind of positive energy Hamlin showed in the end of last year.

      He finished a season-best runner-up twice (at Dover, Del. and Martinsville, Va.) during the 10-race 2018 Playoffs to end the season, and finished 11th in the overall standings. He earned four pole positions and sat on pole for the season finale at Homestead, Fla.

      It's all eyes ahead.

      "I'm looking forward to this one more than looking back on the last one simply because there's just nothing I can change from this past year,'' Hamlin said. "I couldn't help the bad breaks that we had or the things that went wrong. All you can do is just figure out how can that not happen again.

      "With a new crew chief, you're obviously also working on what do we need to do to communicate better? What do you need from me and what do I need from you, and that's the most important thing that we really worked on.

      "You always feel like you have something to prove, but certainly this year in particular, I'm very fired up to go out there and win. Not one race, not two races, not even three -- just like multiple races and show that we are a contender each and every week just like I know that we are.

      "You can always talk about the ones that got away last year, but that was last year. So what, now what? We've got to figure out what we're going to do to change the narrative of our team that we're on the decline."

      --By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media

  • Auto Racing Glance
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES: Daytona 500 (200 laps, 500 miles around a 2.5-mile oval), Daytona International Speedway; Daytona Beach, Florida.

    • TV: Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET (approximate green flag 2:49 p.m. ET) -- Fox (Radio: Motorsports Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

      THIS WEEK: The 61st running of the Daytona 500 - the season's first of 36 points races - sees new faces in new places, welcomes a new first-time series champion in Joey Logano and packs all the drama that comes with pack racing at 200 mph. ... Austin Dillon was the surprise winner of this race last year, his only victory of the season. ... Erik Jones won the summer race at Daytona. ... William Byron will start on the pole, with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman joining him on the outside of the front row. ... The rest of the field of 40 cars will be set Thursday night by the Daytona 500's unique qualifying races, called Duels, where drivers who have not already won a starting spot on the front row will be placed on the grid based on their finish in one of the two 150-mile Duel races. There are 42 drivers on the entry list and 40 total spots available, so two drivers will miss the race after the Duels.

      NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: NASCAR RACING EXPERIENCE 300 (120 laps, 300 miles around a 2.5-mile oval), Daytona International Speedway; Daytona Beach, Florida.

      TV: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET (approximate green flag 2:49 p.m. ET) - FS1 (Radio: Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

      THIS WEEK: The series returns to action after the offseason for the first of 33 races. ... Tyler Reddick won this race last season, the first of two wins in 2018 that led to a championship. ... Reddick is back to defend his title, running for Richard Childress Racing after winning with JR Motorsports last season. ... This will be the 55th series race at the track.

      NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES: NEXT ERA ENERGY 250 (100 laps, 250 miles around a 2.5-mile oval), Daytona International Speedway; Daytona Beach, Florida.

      TV: Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET (approximate green flag 7:49 p.m. ET) -- FS1 (Radio: Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

      THIS WEEK: Also back to start 2019, the Trucks are running their first of 23 races and with a new series sponsor in tow. ... Johnny Sauter won the race last year, the first of his six victories on the season. ... Brett Moffitt is the defending series champion and is back to defend his title. ... This will be the 20th series race at Daytona.

      VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES

      THIS WEEK: The 2019 season starts March 10 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

      FORMULA ONE

      THIS WEEK: The 2019 season starts March 17 in Melbourne, Australia

      NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION

      THIS WEEK: The NHRA kicked off last week in Pomona, Calif., with the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, the first of 24 events this season. ... Doug Kalitta won in Top Fuel, with Robert Hight taking home the Wally in Funny Car and Bo Butner winning Pro Stock. Pro Stock Motorcycle debuts at the Gatornationals on March 14-17. ... Next up is the NHRA Arizona Nationals Feb. 22-24 in Chandler, Ariz. ... Kalitta leads the Top Fuel points with 117, followed by Steve Torrence (106, Terry McMillen (72), Mike Salinas (70) and Billy Torrence (56) rounding out the top five. ... Hight leads Funny Car (121), with Jack Beckman (100), Tommy Johnson Jr. (81), John Force (71) and Shawn Langdon (58) giving chase. ... Butner is on top of Pro Stock (120), followed by Jason Line (97), Erica Enders (80), Alex Laughlin (76) and Matt Hartford (52).

      --K. Lee Davis, Field Level Media

  • Busch, Larson give Ganassi rolling opposites
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    By Reid Spencer

    • NASCAR Wire Service

      Mutt and Jeff. Oil and water. Yin and Yang.

      In a host of ways, Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson are polar opposites.

      Busch is lanky at 5-foot-11, 160 pounds.

      Larson is more compact at 5-foot-6, 135 pounds.

      Busch is a 40-year-old champion in the twilight of a likely NASCAR Hall of Fame career. He has accumulated 30 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories, winning at least one race in 15 different seasons.

      Busch also won the 2004 series championship in the first year of a postseason playoff format and added the Daytona 500 to his resume in 2017.

      Larson is a 26-year-old who has yet to realize what most observers see as virtually unlimited upside. But after a breakout 2017 season in which he won four Cup races, Larson was skunked last year, finishing second six times but failing to put his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet in Victory Lane.

      Busch knows intimately the mechanics of the cars he drives, a characteristic he shares with brother Kyle Busch. Kurt was weaned on the construction and setups of cars driven by his father, Tom Busch, and carried that knowledge to his own equipment.

      Larson knows almost nothing about the way his Cup car works and wants to keep it that way.

      Busch learned his trade on asphalt, driving modifieds, street stocks and late models.

      Larson is a world-class dirt racer, still competing and winning in midgets and sprint cars.

      Though he has mellowed in recent years, Busch hasn't shed fully his reputation as a mercurial personality. Seven years ago, a series of outbursts cost Busch his job at Team Penske and set him on a difficult path to rebuild his career. To his credit, Busch has done so.

      Larson is the epitome of Zen, gracious in defeat-too gracious, some would say. Even after a crushing loss in the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in January, Larson maintained an outward calm and kept the hurt inside.

      Nevertheless, the hope at Chip Ganassi Racing is that these two vastly different drivers -- with their vastly different personalities -- can combine to lift the organization out of the doldrums of a winless 2018 season.

      After five years at Stewart-Haas Racing, Busch replaces Jamie McMurray in the No. 1 Chevrolet owned by Chip Ganassi, teaming with crew chief Matt McCall. The veteran driver expressed willingness to help his younger teammate in any way he can.

      "Once we get to Atlanta and Vegas-and Phoenix, where we have all the horsepower and all the downforce-I'm very curious on how his style will play out versus mine," Busch said during a question-and-answer session with reporters at the Ganassi Racing shop in late January.

      "Right now, my gut instinct is I'm a guy who drives off the right front tire from all the late model experience I have, and he's a guy that drives off the right rear tire with all the dirt track experience that he has. And it shows that there are two ways to skin the same cat."

      For Busch, it's an opportunity to teach, but he doesn't see it as a one-way relationship.

      "That gets me excited to learn things, and I think he's feeling that same thing, as far as having my experience come to him-and then there's going to be the friendship that develops from it, too. All kinds of things are ahead of us. We have a learning curve-teammate, crew chief, even with (crew chief) Chad Johnston on the 42-everybody just getting in the same room and getting going.

      "Hopefully, we can just get that behind us by the end of February, and that way we're rolling out to the West Coast for the West Coast Swing ready to go with all questions answered."

      To Larson, working with a driver with Busch's championship resume and status as one of the sport's elite performers is an appealing prospect.

      "Getting someone with Kurt's experience is probably what I'm most excited about," Larson said. "You're always anticipating and excited about getting to Atlanta (Feb. 24) and seeing where you stack up, but I would say I'm more excited about working with Kurt and trying to learn as much as I can off of him and grow as a driver."

      That doesn't mean Larson will seek to expand his knowledge with respect to the way his car works.

      "No, I don't think Chad wants me to," Larson said with a wry smile. "I think I'm too old to learn about that stuff. Honestly, I don't care about learning about the car. I say it all the time, but I think Kurt could probably admit that there are even times when he's been very certain that this is what we need in the setup, and it's wrong-where I put the blame on them (the crew).

      "I get paid to race. They get paid to work on it."

      That doesn't mean Larson doesn't welcome Busch's customary assertiveness.

      "He's got no filters," Larson said. "If there's something he doesn't like, he's going to point it out, where I'm not that brave of a person to tell Chip, ‘This is wrong, and it needs to be changed.'

      "I don't think Kurt's afraid to break down walls to make his point clear."

      --Field Level Media