Chase Elliott And Jimmie Johnson Wreck Primary Cars In Louden Practice

Chase Elliott
A bad week quickly got worse for Chase Elliott!

Shortly after his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, clobbered the Turn 3 wall at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Friday’s opening practice session, Elliott did the same when he carried too much speed into the corner.

Accordingly, both Elliott and Johnson will start Sunday’s ISM Connect 300, the second race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, in backup cars.

Elliott finished second in last Sunday’s Round of 16 opener at Chicagoland, but NASCAR penalized the No. 24 team when the sanctioning body discovered unauthorized modifications designed to improve the aerodynamics of the car.

Docked 15 points for the infraction, Elliott is racing at The Magic Mile without the services of crew chief Alan Gustafson and car chief Joshua Kirk, who earned one-race suspensions. Veteran Kenny Francis is calling the shots from the pit box this week, and early in Friday’s first practice, he had a backup car to prepare.

“Just got kind of loose into Turn 3 and got up the track and ran out of room,” Elliott said after the accident. “I hate it. That’s not what we needed. We’re behind this weekend now, so that’s never good, but it’s Friday, so we’ve got another day and a half to get things turned around and try to get it fixed.”

Johnson said he was overly ambitious with his second lap and paid the price when he lost contact with the traction compound (PJ1) applied to the track to provide more grip in the first and third lanes.

“I had a good first lap, and entering Turn 3 for my second lap, just got in there with a lot of speed anticipated it sticking,” Johnson said. “It didn’t quite stick, and then once I got out of the PJ1, there was just really no slowing down or directing it off the wall at that point.

“Came around and it got the fence. Definitely not the way we wanted to start. Frustrating, but we will take it and go figure it out.”


Kyle Busch Grabs The Pole For The ISM Connect 300

Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch went from the top of the chart to near disaster and back to the top again in winning the pole position for Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the second race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff.

After posting the fastest lap in the first round of knockout qualifying at the 1.058-mile track, Busch missed his mark entering Turn 1 in the second round and narrowly averted a session-ending crash into the outside wall.

But Busch recovered on his second lap in the round, cracked the top 12 and saved his best effort for last in the final round, navigating the Magic Mile in 20. 203 seconds (135.049 mph) to edge Kyle Larson (134.911 mph) for the top starting spot.

The Coors Light Pole Award was Busch’s third at New Hampshire, his eighth of the season and the 27th of his career. Busch also started first on the grid for last Sunday’s Playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway.

“I didn’t think I hit it very well, actually,” Busch said of his lap in the money round. “I was going to go out and run my second lap and try for a little bit more, but I slipped off of (Turn) 2 really bad, so I just had to abort. It definitely wasn’t going to be any faster.”

Busch acknowledged he was fortunate to keep his car intact after the slip in Round 2 that resulted from trying to keep his left-side tires in contact with the PJ1 traction compound that had been applied to the track.

“I gave myself too much room on my left sides, trying to keep ‘em in the black on entry, and it was like half a car too wide to the right,” Busch said. “I was nervous.

“I thought I was 48 and 24-ing there for a second (a reference to crashes in first practice by Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott), but I was able to hang onto it, surprisingly, and battle through on the backstretch and ease her off into (Turn) 3 and build my lap back up heading to the start/finish line.”

Busch and Larson were two of 11 Playoff drivers who advanced to the final round of time trials. Denny Hamlin qualified third, Ryan Blaney fourth and series leader Martin Truex Jr, fifth. Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch were sixth and seventh.

Erik Jones in eighth was the only non-Playoff driver to crack the top 12.

Larson was .029 seconds off Busch’s pole-winning pace.

“I felt like maybe I got in the corner a little hot and got myself a little bit too loose and to the brakes too hard,” said Larson, who enters Sunday’s race second in the Playoff standings. “But I feel like overall my lap was pretty good. The No. 18 (Busch) has been really fast recently, and especially in qualifying all year.

“So for us to be second to him is not bad. We had the pole here earlier in the year and got encumbered (Larson’s time was disallowed because his rear decklid fin was outside specifications), but we had to back it up with a front row start. It feels good. We’ll have a nice pit stall selection. Hopefully we can have another smooth day.”

After a rough outing at Chicagoland and a subsequent crew chief change to veteran Darian Grubb, Kasey Kahne qualified ninth.

“Yeah, it was really nice,” Kahne said. “The car was balanced really well the entire day. We made gains every time out, and that final run I was just a tick tight and then gave up about a tenth that I thought I could run better.

“I gave up about a tenth, which I thought we could have been top five, and that would have been pretty cool, but, still, a really solid Friday.”


The Furniture Row Racing Drivers Qualified Good At Louden

Martin Truex, Jr and Erik Jones
Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. qualified fifth and teammate Erik Jones qualified eighth for Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Truex will start the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota from the inside of Row 3 after a pole-round lap of 28.384 seconds at 134.188 mph. It was the 18th top-five qualifying effort of the season for Truex, who leads the NASCAR point standings after one race of the 10-race playoffs.

Truex, who was fourth fastest in the earlier practice, wanted to do one more lap in the final qualifying session, but time ran out.

“I thought we were close but we only got one lap in the final round and I definitely felt we could have picked up in the second lap,” explained Truex Jr. “Fifth is still a good starting spot here and we’ll be fine. We’ve unlocked the keys to this track and have come close to winning here recently. We just need to close it out on Sunday.”

Jones will start the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota from the outside of Row 4 after a final-round lap of 28.430 at 133.971. It was the 13th top-10 qualifying effort of the season for the NASCAR Cup Series rookie.

“The 5-hour ENERGY Toyota was tight in both the second and third rounds so we just didn’t have the speed we needed,” said Jones. “We never got quite where we wanted but it was a decent effort we can race from for sure on Sunday.”

Kyle Busch won the pole with a lap of 28.203 at 135.049. The balance of the top-12 qualifiers were: Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Truex, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Jones, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, and Jimmie Johnson.


Ryan Blaney Starts Fourth In The ISM Connect 300 At Louden

Ryan Blaney
In one of the most important qualifying sessions of their 2017 season, Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team rose to the occasion and earned the fourth starting spot for Sunday’s 300-miler at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The flat, one-mile oval at New Hampshire makes passing difficult. That combined with the relative shortness of the race puts track position at a premium, and the No. 21 will be on the outside row for the start of the race. That puts the team in a better position to earn stage points in the first half of the race, and it sets them up for better track position later on as well due to the opportunity to pick a more advantageous pit stall.

Every point is of the utmost importance as Blaney and the team work to make the cut for the second round of the playoffs, which begin after next weekend’s race at Dover International Speedway. Blaney enters this weekend 10th in the standings but just eight points ahead of 13th-place Kurt Busch. The bottom four of the 16 playoff drivers will be eliminated after Dover.

On Friday, the near future looked promising. The Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion was fast from the start of practice at New Hampshire. Blaney was fifth fastest with a best lap at 135.030 miles per hour.

In the three rounds of knock-out qualifying, he was 11th in the first round with a speed of 133.212 mph then won the second round with a lap at 134.753 mph. In the final round he posted a speed of 134.720 mph to earn the fourth starting spot.

“I thought we made good gains through the rounds and that’s something to be proud of for sure,” said Blaney, who led the way all day for the Ford contingent. “We just didn’t pick up speed in the last round.

“We had good speed in the second one and some other guys went faster the last round, and we kind of stayed the same.”

Still, Friday’s performance showed a significant improvement over the team’s recent appearances at New Hampshire.

“We made some good adjustments,” Blaney said. “I think that’s the best we’ve ever qualified here, so that’s something to look forward to and we have a good spot for Sunday.”

Among those closely following the events of the day at New Hampshire was the team’s long-time crew chief, NASCAR Hall of Famer Leonard Wood, who was back home in Stuart, Va., celebrating his 83rd birthday.

Wood was most impressed with Blaney’s dominance of the second round of qualifying.

“Wow!” he said, adding that the birthday weekend festivities will keep him at home instead of in the pit area at New Hampshire on Sunday.


Vinnie Miller Is Set To Make His First Kentucky ARCA Start

Vinny Miller
Vinnie Miller set to make his first start at Kentucky Speedway in the running of the General Tire Super Weekend: Crosley Brands 150 ARCA Racing Series (ARS) presented by Menards Friday night.

The 20-year-old made his first laps on the 1.5-mile Sparta, KY track Wednesday during the ARS open test.   He posted the fourth fastest time in the morning session while piloting the No. 41 Master Mfg., Inc MDM Motorsports Toyota Camry.

Miller returns to MDM Motorsports after making his NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) debut last weekend at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway scoring a solid 29th place finish.

The Michigan native has scored four top-10s in five ARS starts this season. He has also scored two top-10 finishes and one top-five finish in six NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts.

Miller on Kentucky: “I am excited to get back in a MDM Motorsports car this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. I have really enjoyed the speedway races this year and think we have a great shot at getting a win this weekend. This will be my first start at Kentucky, and from the film that I’ve watched and the studying that I’ve done it looks like a very cool race track with lots of room to race. I really like the track.  I can go wide open and able to run off the bottom where most of the other teams were driving.  It is a super smooth track.  After running in the test I know that Friday’s race will be a great learning experience and a lot of fun.”


Strategy Is Key For Blaney At Louden

Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the thick of a tight battle to advance to the second round of the Monster Energy Cup playoffs.

Blaney enters Sunday’s 300-mile race 10th in the standings, eight points ahead of 13th-place Kurt Busch. The bottom four of the 16 drivers in the playoffs will be eliminated from the title hunt after next week’s race at Dover International Speedway.

Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team have shown speed at New Hampshire in recent races, but the nature of the races on the flat, one-mile oval put a premium on decisions made by crew chief Jeremy Bullins and others who help him determine the timing of the team’s pit stops and the work that will be done on those stops.

“Races at New Hampshire are strategy-driven, like road-course races,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “Track position is really important. It’s hard to pass, and the race is short compared to most of the ones we run.”

New this year at all tracks are stage points, and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team generally has been able to consistently finish among the top 10 in the first two stages and thereby earn bonus points. In July at New Hampshire, Blaney scored six stage points.. “Maybe we can play the right strategy and win the thing. The most important factor is where you are in the pack after making your final pit stop.” Wood said.

Qualifying at New Hampshire is set for Friday at 5:15 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.


Sadler Wants To Start Off The Playoffs With A Win

Elliott Sadler
Elliott Sadler won the NASCAR XFINITY Series regular season championship, but only has one goal on his mind now – capturing the overall series crown.

He starts his quest in Saturday’s 300 at Kentucky Speedway where he won the Playoff opener last year.

“Our OneMain Financial team has been gearing up for the playoffs ever since Daytona in February,” Sadler said. “Our strong regular season and Kentucky win last year helps our confidence heading into this weekend.”

In 12 career starts at Kentucky, Sadler claims one win, five top fives, eight top 10s and a 7.8 average finish.

Although Sadler earned the regular season championship, he starts the Playoffs third in the standings. He sits five points behind leader William Byron and trails second-place Justin Allgaier by three points.

Byron and Allgaier are ahead of Sadler because they accumulated more playoff points during the regular season. Byron won three races and two stages to earn 17 playoff points in addition to his eight for finishing third in the standings. Allgaier recorded two victories and three stage wins for 13 playoff points to supplement his 10 for placing second in the standings. Sadler earned 15 playoff points for his regular season championship and logged five for his five stage wins.

“We’re still a long way from Homestead and that’s where we ultimately want to be – racing in the final four for the championship. Kevin (Meendering, crew chief), myself, and the guys are going to take it one race at a time, starting with this weekend’s race. We’re confident in our strategy and we’re ready.”


Christopher Bell Has His Sights On The CWTS Championship

Christopher Bell
Christopher Bell has his sights set on greater accomplishments than the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular season title he captured at Chicagoland.

“The regular season championship is nice,” said Bell, who leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with four wins, 10 top fives and 14 top 10s. “But now it’s time to get the playoffs started and win another championship for Kyle Busch Motorsports.”

He’ll begin his run at the series crown when the Camping World Truck Playoffs open with Saturday’s UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

In his one career start at New Hampshire last year, Bell finished third after leading 11 laps.

As a Sunoco Rookie last season, Bell placed runner-up in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship standings.

“New Hampshire is a great place for the Playoffs to get started because Kyle Busch Motorsports has been really successful there – including a one-two finish last year. I’m excited to go there with Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) and have a shot at winning another race. Our tactic as the playoffs start is to go out and win races. Ultimately, if you go out and win races you are going to make it all the way to Homestead and that’s our No. 1 goal.”


Kurt Busch Hopes To Rebound At New Hampshire

Kurt Busch
Daytona 500 champion Kurt Busch got off to a slow start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with a 19th-place finish at Chicagoland – the second-lowest showing among postseason drivers.

Right now, Busch sits 13th on the Playoff Grid. He’s even with Austin Dillon in points, but Dillon holds the tiebreaker for the 12th and final advancement spot.

Busch will try to move up the Playoff Grid as the series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for Sunday’s ISM Connect 300. The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford driver is tied for the active series lead with three New Hampshire wins. In 33 career starts at The Magic Mile, he also has three wins, eight top fives, 14 top 10s and a 15.6 average finish.

“It’s a track that has been pretty good to me since I started racing in the top series of this sport,” Busch said. “I raced there for the first time in the [Camping World] Truck Series and won that race. Then, it’s a track where I have three wins in the [Monster Energy Series] cars and, when you’re able to go to a track where you’ve had that kind of success, it just gives you confidence.”

A win by Busch on Sunday would advance him to the second round of the Playoffs and tie him with Jeff Burton for the all-time wins record at New Hampshire.

Busch explained what he needs his car to do to put him in position to take the checkered flag.

“It depends upon the circumstances but, yes, usually you’re trying to keep your eye on the main prize, which is Victory Lane at the end of the day,” Busch said. “If you have a run-in early in the race, that guy is going to be trying to find you or you’re looking over your shoulder. So if you can sort of hit a reset button and right a mistake, you do that, but not at the expense of taking yourself out of position for the win.”


Donny Schatz Returns To Some Familiar Grounds At Eldora

Image result for donny schatz and arctic cat

Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz and the TSR Textron Off Road/Arctic Cat/Ford Performance team will find themselves on familiar soil this weekend when they return to Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio and Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pennsylvania for a World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series doubleheader.

Having already completed 72 Outlaw races at dirt tracks all across the United States this season, the eight-time and reigning champion leads the traveling Sprint car stars back into action with only 16 races remaining in the 2017 campaign, beginning with Friday’s #BeFourTheCrowns race at Eldora, followed by the Commonwealth Clash Saturday night at Lernerville.

Schatz is not only the series’ most recent winner after driving his TSR No. 15 Textron Off Road/Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J into victory lane at last Saturday’s Wine Country Outlaw Showdown at Calistoga (Calif.) Speedway, he also is the most recent Outlaw winner at both Eldora and Lernerville. In late July, the team was victorious in the prestigious Kings Royal at Eldora and Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville.

The stakes may not be as high this weekend as they were during that four-day stretch in the heat of summer, when the winner’s share was $50,000 and $25,000, respectively, but every night is important when a championship is on the line. During the past four seasons, Schatz and his team of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti have closed Outlaw campaigns surging by winning seven, six, seven and five WoO A-Features during the final 18 races of those seasons. Last Friday’s opener at Calistoga marked the 18th event remaining in 2017 and Schatz raced from 22nd to fourth. His victory Saturday at Calistoga was his 18th WoO win of the season.

The team is looking to add a #BeFourTheCrowns victory to its list of accomplishments this season in its third visit of 2017 to the high-banked, half-mile dirt oval at Eldora, and Schatz has been stellar at “The Big E” this season. He won the Outlaws’ #LetsRaceTwo finale in May and finished second in the #KnightBeforeTheKingsRoyal event prior to becoming the first driver to win back-to-back Kings Royals to give him nine career WoO A-Feature wins at Eldora. His first career win at the track was the 2002 $100,000-to-win Historical Big One. The Fargo, North Dakota racer has yet to pick up an Eldora WoO A-Feature win in September. Since 2007, the Outlaws have staged a Friday-night race as part of Four-Crown weekend. In all eight of those races, Schatz has finished seventh or better with his best finish of second coming in 2014.

Schatz and crew will return to Lernerville Saturday with a two-race winning streak at the 4/10-mile, clay oval. Last September, Schatz led the final 21 laps to pick up his 23rd triumph of the season and seventh career win at Lernerville. His victory in July was his fifth Don Martin Memorial triumph, the most by any driver. Schatz won at Lernerville for the first time in his career on May 21, 2003 and, in the previous five late-season WoO races at Lernerville, Schatz has won twice and finished second twice.

With his victory at Calistoga, Schatz extended his lead in the 2017 WoO championship standings to 88 points over Brad Sweet. Last season, Schatz became the first driver in the 39-year history of the WoO to win 20 or more WoO A-Features in four consecutive seasons. He needs two more wins to extend that streak to five seasons in a row.


Prior to taking to the track Friday night, Schatz and his car owner Tony Stewart will participate in an event with Textron Off Road’s Mark Miller from Eldora Speedway. The discussion will be broadcast via Facebook Live on TSR’s Facebook page beginning at 2:30 p.m. EDT. The trio will be talking about the team’s relationship with Textron Off Road and the company’s products, as well as the 2017 season. Fans are encouraged to go to and submit questions.


The run for a World of Outlaws championship is down to only a few more weeks for TSR, Arctic Cat and Donny Schatz. Time is also running out to win one of the coolest giveaways. Fans are encouraged to join the ultimate limitless ride entering to win a customized, one-of-a-kind Donny Schatz-themed Arctic Cat HDX 700 through October 1 at online at for the chance to win the customized all-terrain vehicle by random draw.

The grand prize winner will receive a trip for two to the Outlaws’ season-ending World Finals in Charlotte, including participation in a prerace ceremony. The winners will receive tickets to the World Finals and receive the keys to their Donny Schatz-themed HDX from the eight-time champion during pre-event ceremonies.


Friday at Eldora, the pit and grandstand gates will open at 1:30 p.m. EDT. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30. More details are available by calling Eldora Speedway at (937) 338-3815, or by visiting

Saturday at Lernerville, the pit and grandstand gates will open at 4 p.m. EDT. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30. More details are available by calling Lernerville Speedway at (724) 353-1350, or by visiting

Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all of the action on Live video is available on a pay-per-view basis for Saturday’s race at Lernerville and free audio coverage is available both nights as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO Craftsman Sprint Car Series events at Visit for more information.


Fans are encouraged to follow the progress of Schatz, TSR and the No. 15 Textron Off Road/Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J during the final weeks of the 2017 season on the web and social media. More information can be found at,

Tony Stewart Racing: Facebook at or on Twitter and Instagram @TonyStewart_Rcg.

Donny Schatz: Facebook at or on Twitter and Instagram @DonnySchatz.

Arctic Cat: Facebook at or on Twitter and Instagram @ArcticCat_atv @ArcticCat_Snow

Curb: Facebook at or on Twitter and Instagram @CurbRecords.

Ford Performance: Facebook at or on Twitter and Instagram @FordPerformance.

Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR Textron Off Road/Arctic Cat/Ford Performance J&J:

Following the annual West Coast swing, you return to a pair of tracks where you’ve already made several laps and had success this season. What do you look forward to most about returning to Eldora and Lernerville this weekend?

“We’re excited to get back to both of those places. We’re fortunate to be able to race at facilities that really have a passion for dirt racing. Earl Baltes built a masterpiece in the middle of corn fields in Western Ohio and created a destination for the biggest races of the year – for Sprint cars, Late Models, Modifieds, you name it – and they have a big race there. The Four-Crown weekend was always a big deal for USAC and, when the Outlaws became part of it, I was excited. We have a lot of friends who race in USAC and, obviously, our schedules don’t mesh up with theirs too often. Tony (Stewart) and his staff at Eldora have continued to make improvements and the place is just an awesome facility. And the biggest thing is they didn’t forget about the track. Fans come to see good racing. You look at the Kings Royal weekend where there was action all over the place, we were fortunate to be up there in the front battling it out in the A-Feature Friday and Saturday night of the Kings Royal weekend. I have to thank my guys – Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti – for that. They’ve given me a really good car at Eldora the last few years. We’ve had a great shot just about every time out and that’s what it’s all about. We’re happy to have the chance to chase a win there in September. We’ve been close but haven’t quite gotten it done. And as far as Lernerville goes, it’s always been one of the best tracks we’ve raced at during my Outlaw career. You can usually count on a couple of racing grooves and a race that plays out in lapped traffic. It’s another place where my guys have really done their homework and put a good car under me. I’m looking forward to getting back there on Saturday night.”

Since joining TSR following the 2007 season, you’ve worked with a number of marketing partners and carried their brand to victory lane quite a bit. This year, you have worked with Arcitc Cat and now Textron. What’s this season been like working with a new partner?  

“It’s been a great first year carrying the Arctic Cat brand on the 15. I just love the green. I’ve been an Arctic Cat guy since I was kid riding snowmobiles for as long as I can remember. We have worked with a number of great marketing partners over the years. Starting with the Armor All brand and that transitioned into STP. Bad Boy Buggies came on board in 2015 and some of those same people are now part of Textron Off Road, so it’s kind of come full circle. Textron has great products and really aligns with a lot the short-track race fans. The off-road stuff for both dirt and snow are a perfect match. It’s been a lot of fun. Tony and I will be talking more about it Friday afternoon before the race on Facebook Live with Mark Miller from Textron. We hope a lot of fans can tune in and let us know if there are any questions about their products.”