Erik Jones Had A Very Strong 4th Place Finish At Phoenix

Erik Jones
Erik Jones continued his rock solid performance at Phoenix Raceway by taking Furniture Row’s No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota to a fourth-place finish in the NASCAR Cup Series Can-Am 500.

The 21-year-old series rookie kept alive a streak of now 12 consecutive top-10 finishes in as many starts on the one-mile oval, including two victories in the Camping World Truck Series. He finished eighth in the Cup race in March.

Jones also moved up on spot, to 18th, in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after 35 races. His 847 points is 47 points behind Joey Logano for 17th, two ahead of Clint Bowyer for 19th and 73 points ahead of Daniel Suarez in 20th.

“Today was a good day for us,” said Jones. “The 5-hour ENERGY Camry was good. Definitely had the speed to run up front and contend for the win – so thanks to TRD for that – but I just didn’t really execute 100 percent on the last restart to really give myself the shot I needed. Kind of a bummer, but overall really strong day for us – another day we needed. It had been a minute since we had really ran in the top-five competitively and had a shot and that is what we did today. Nice to get back on track. Nice momentum for next week and hopefully being able to close the season out with a win.”

Jones was a mainstay in the top 10 throughout the 312-lap race. After starting 11th, he finished seventh in Stage 1 and third in Stage 2 despite chasing the handling of the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota from tight to loose and back again.

Crew chief Chris Gayle called for a 2-tire stop under caution on Lap 256 while running fifth. Most of the leaders stayed out so Jones restarted 11th with just more than 50 laps remaining. He was back to fifth by Lap 273 and into fourth on Lap 275. He crossed the finish line just behind Furniture Row Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr.

Matt Kenseth won the race. The balance of the top-10 finishers were: Chase Elliott, Truex, Jones, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Aric Almirola and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The race had seven cautions for 41 laps and one red flag for five minutes. There were nine lead changes among five drivers.

The final race of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series is Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Team Penske Ran Mid Pack All Day At Phoenix

Joey Logano and Daniel Suarez
Track:                  Phoenix International Raceway

Race:                   Can-Am 500

Date:                   November 12, 2017

 

No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 16th

Finish: 16th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 312/312

Laps Led: 0

Point Standing (behind leader): 4th (-0)

 

Recap:  It may not have been the performance they wanted, but with a 16th-place finish in Sunday’s Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion team will head to Ford Championship Weekend next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (HMS) with an opportunity to race for their second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) championship. Keselowski began the race from the 16th position and early on in the event Keselowski radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that he was struggling on the one-mile desert oval. Wolfe made big adjustments to the Ford following the team’s 18th-place finish in the first, 75-lap stage to help the loose in and tight in the center handling condition. While the condition was slightly improved during the second, 75-lap stage, Keselowski was only able to muster a 13th-place finish, meaning the team had scored no stage points during the event as found themselves on the outside looking in to the Championship 4 at that point in the race. However, the driver and team never gave up on the day and would be rewarded for their efforts when the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin – one of their main competitors for the final playoff spot at HMS – cut down a tire on lap 276 to send him into the garage and place the No. 2 Ford team back into the Championship 4. The team still needed to run well and when the No. 20 of Matt Kenseth passed the No. 24 of Chase Elliott – another contender for the final playoff spot – on lap 303 to score the win, the Miller Lite crew was able to celebrate their opportunity to win a second MENCS title to go along with the one they captured in 2012. Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr and Kyle Busch will compete next weekend in a winner-takes-all duel on the 1.5-mile oval in south Florida. This will be Keselowski’s first appearance in the final race of the season in the elimination-style format that was introduced in 2014, but the third-consecutive year that Team Penske has been represented in the championship race.

 

Quote: “We overcame a lot of obstacles and jumped a lot of hurdles today. I am glad I don’t have to relive this day, that is for sure. I am just looking forward to going to Homestead with this Miller Lite Ford team. This feels a little bit like Christmas. Sometimes you need a little luck on your side. Today we had that. It wasn’t by any means where we wanted to run. We wanted to run up front and have a shot for the win. That wasn’t in the cards. We tried to run the smartest race we could and survive and it ended up paying off in the end. We probably should have been locked in after Martinsville with the effort we put in that weekend so if this is a little bit of redemption then I am happy for all these guys. We’ve had a good year and they deserve a shot at another championship. We have that now and we will make the most of it.”

 

 

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 9th

Finish: 12th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 312/312

Laps Led: 0

Point Standing (behind leader):  17th

 

Recap: Joey Logano started ninth and finished 12th in Sunday afternoon’s Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. From the drop of the green flag, Logano reported that the handling on his No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion was extremely tight in the center of turns three and four, resulting in the loss of six positions through the opening 20 laps. Logano reported that the handling of his Ford Fusion started to come to him around lap 40. Crew chief Todd Gordon began devising a plan for a adjustments settling on air pressure and tape for the first stop of the afternoon which came at the conclusion of stage one with Logano running in the 15th position. Quick pit work by the Shell-Pennzoil crew netted a gain of five positions for the team on the first stop, positioning Logano to restart in the 10th position to begin the second stage of the event. Through the second stage, the handling was still too tight in the center of turns three and four, resulting in Logano dropping back to the 14th position by lap 110. Logano concluded the second stage in the 14th position, reporting that the car had developed a loose condition on throttle, but maintained the tight handling issues in the center of the turns. Gordon elected to adjust with wedge and air pressure on the second stop of the day, unfortunately, a lugnut jammed in the gun on the stop, resulting in the loss of four positions. Logano would move forward from the 18th position, climbing as high as 14th in the opening portion of the final stage. However, by lap 178 he had dropped back to the 19th position, reporting that the Shell-Pennzoil Ford was handling worse than it had all afternoon. On the third pit stop at lap 231, Gordon elected to go back on all the previous changes, making a bigger swing at wedge and air pressure adjustments. Logano restarted in the 17th position with 77 laps remaining, moving to the 16th position on the initial start before a quick debris caution flew. Logano reported that he was finally rotating the center of the corner and was only slightly free off. Running as one of the last cars on the lead lap, Gordon elected to bring Logano to pit road for four fresh tires. On the restart, Logano moved to the 15th position, reporting the car was better directionally despite taking off on the splitter. The team pitted one additional time for four tires and air pressure, and Logano finished the race in the 12th position.

 

Quote: “We really struggled today. We didn’t have enough center turn and that hurt our lap times pretty bad. In the third stage we started making some progress on it but it took some really big changes to do that. We’ll move forward and go to Homestead and try to put our Shell-Pennzoil Ford in victory lane one more time in 2017. Happy for Brad and the No. 2 team to have made the championship four.”

TIL NEX TITME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Danica Was Hampered By Handling Issues At Phoenix

Danica Patrick
Date: Nov. 12, 2017

Event: Can-Am 500k (Round 35 of 36)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Phoenix Raceway (mile oval)

Format: 312 laps, broken into three segments (75 laps/75 laps/162 laps)

Start/Finish: 24th/25th (Running, completed 309 of 312 laps)

Point Standings: 27th (510 points)

 

Race Winner: Matt Kenseth of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):

● Danica Patrick started 24th and finished 33rd.

● The No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford Fusion team struggled from the drop of the green flag, and Patrick was scored 33rd at lap 50.

● Crew chief Billy Scott called for wholesale changes when the team pitted between stages at lap 80. The crew changed four tires, added fuel and made wedge, air pressure and packer adjustments.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150):

● Started 33rd and finished 30th.

● The Code 3 Associates Ford fired off better in Stage 2, and Patrick was able to gain several positions.

● The team pitted between stages at lap 154 for tires, fuel and adjustments.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 151-312):

● Started 28th and finished 25th.

● Patrick ran as high as 26th before making contact with the outside retaining wall just after lap 200. The team pitted under green-flag conditions at lap 223 for tires, fuel, adjustments and repairs, which put the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford back to the 31st position. Scott called for Patrick to wave around when the caution flag came out at lap 228.

● The team pitted under caution at laps 240, 256 and 277 for tires, fuel and adjustments. In the closing laps, Patrick was able to gain several positions and took the checkered flag in 25th.

 

Notes:              

● This was Patrick’s 11th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Phoenix Raceway and her 189th career NASCAR Cup Series start.

● Patrick earned 12 points in Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway, which puts her at 510 total points for the season thus far. She is ranked 27th in the driver point standings.

● There were seven caution periods for a total of 41 laps.

● A total of 18 of the 40 drivers in the Can-Am 500k finished on the lead lap.

● Matt Kenseth won the Can-Am 500k to score his 39th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his second at Phoenix Raceway. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was 1.207 seconds.

● The Championship 4 contenders, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., enter the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with 5,000 points each.

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Nov. 19 Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Late Damage Hurt Bowyer’s Phoenix Results

Clint Bowyer
Date: Nov. 12, 2017

Event: Can-Am 500k (Round 35 of 36)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Phoenix Raceway (1-mile oval)

Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/162 laps)

Start/Finish: 20th/13th (Running, completed 312 of 312 laps)

Point Standing: 19th with 845 points

 

Race Winner:  Matt Kenseth of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):

Clint Bowyer started 20th and finished 12th.

● Bowyer started fast, climbing to 15th by lap 10.

● Bowyer said No. 14 needed “a little bit of turn” in turns one and two.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150):

● Started 11th and finished 10th to earn one race point.

● Climbed into the top-10 for the first time in the opening laps of the stage.

● Said his car was loose into the corners and tight off.

 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 151-312):

● Started seventh and finished 13th.

● Moved from 10th to seventh on the pit stop before the final stage started.

● Drifted back to 10th in the opening laps because he “couldn’t turn” and had no rear grip.

● With 80 laps remaining Bowyer pitted under caution from ninth for fuel, tires and adjustments to loosen the handling of his No. 14.

● A penalty for speeding seconds after exiting his pit stall dropped him to 19th for the restart.

● Bowyer took four new tires when he pitted under caution with 55 laps remaining and restarted the race in 15th.

● The No. 14 suffered damage when another driver missed a shift at the front of the field on the final restart with 30 laps remaining.

● Bowyer had climbed to 13th when the checkered flag fell.

 

Notes:

● There were seven caution periods for a total of 41 laps.

● Eighteen of the 39 drivers in the Can-Am 500k finished on the lead lap.

● Matt Kenseth won the Can-Am 500k to score his 39th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his second at Phoenix.

● The Championship 4 contenders, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. enter the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with 5,000 points each.

 

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 USA Network DAMNATION Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We weren’t very good on Friday, and my guys worked hard overnight and came up with some changes that made us a heck of a lot better Saturday, and that carried over to today. We had a good car and good pit stops. The speeding penalty hurt us. Dropped us back to 19th, but we fought back. I thought we were going to get a really good finish, but we got messed up with a lot of cars on that restart near the end.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday, Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Martin Truex, Jr. Had Another Very Strong Race At Phoenix

Martin Truex, Jr.
Martin Truex Jr. had another strong playoff run, finishing third in Sunday’s Can-Am 500 NASCAR Cup Series race. The result was a career best for the Furniture Row Racing driver at Phoenix Raceway.

“We go into each race with the same attitude and that is to be a contender for the win,” said Truex. “You can’t turn it off and on in this sport. We’ve had trouble at this track in the past but had a good game plan coming in.

“We stuck with the plan all weekend and we were right there all day. It was a good day for Furniture Row Racing (teammate Erik Jones finished fourth) and I hope this put a smile on the face of our owner Barney Visser. We’re all thinking of him during his recovery.”

Truex will close out the 2017 season next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway as one of the Championship 4 drivers vying for the season title. He will be joined by Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski. The driver who scores the best finish among the four finalists will be crowned the NASCAR Cup Series champion.

“We’re all excited about going to Homestead with the opportunity of winning the championship,” stated Truex. “This is what we set out to do at the beginning of the year.”

Truex, who started the Phoenix race fifth in the blue No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry, powered by a TRD engine, basically ran in the top-five for the entire race.

“We were right there all day long,” said Truex. “Had a sniff at the lead a couple times – just couldn’t quite get it – but I’ve got to say I’m so proud of (race winner) Matt (Kenseth) and his team and the year they’ve had and really the position they’re in right now. To go out and win that race was unbelievable, so I was really, really happy for him. He did an awesome job.”

With one race remaining, Truex has garnered seven wins, 18 top fives, 25 top 10s and 2175 laps led — all series leading numbers.

Take away the Talladega wreckfest race, Truex’s average finish in the other eight playoff races is 2.37.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Ryan Blaney Came Up Just A Little Short At Phoenix

Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 SKF/Quick Lane Ford team came up short of being among the four drivers and their teams that will compete for the Monster Energy Cup Series championship at Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway next week.

But despite fading to 17th place at the finish of Sunday’s Can-Am 500 and coming 23 points shy of advancing, they left Phoenix Raceway with their heads held high after a season full of amazing accomplishments.

“It’s disappointing, but at the same time we have a lot to be proud of for sure,” Blaney said in his post-race comments. “The nine weeks that we had [in the playoffs] is something to be proud of.

“It’s a shame we’re not racing for the championship, but we can still try to win the race.”

Blaney started Sunday’s 312-mile race from the pole and led the first 11 laps, but it was soon apparent that his SKF/Quick Lane Fusion wasn’t fast enough to win the race, which was his most realistic option for advancing to the championship round at Homestead.

Still, he and the team battled hard throughout the race and found themselves in the top five as the laps wound down. But to keep that track position meant staying on the track during late-race cautions, and staying on the track ended up putting him at a disadvantage to drivers behind him with fresher tires.

“We were debating whether to pit or not there and just didn’t, so that made us fall back,” he said. “I thought we could have stayed up and you never know what could have happened, but we just never had the car all day to compete up front.”

That’s not to say Blaney and the team didn’t put forth a 100-percent effort.

“We did a good job on restarts,” Blaney said. “I thought we were decent on restarts all day. We were able to start up towards the front and just didn’t work out for us.

“We still have one more race to go with the Wood Brothers group, so hopefully we can go and have a good run at Miami.”

Team co-owner Len Wood echoed Blaney’s comments about the team having a lot to be proud of, including a win at Pocono, poles at Kansas and Phoenix and a nine-week run in the playoffs.

“We came within one race of making the championship round,” Wood said. “It’s been an amazing season, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the alliance we have with Team Penske.”

Wood also said he’s proud to have two Ford teammates among the four competing for the title in Ford Championship Weekend.

“We’re proud to have Team Penske’s No. 2 team and their driver Brad Keselowski among the final four along with Kevin Harvick from Stewart-Haas Racing,” Wood said. “It’s good to see half the championship contenders carrying the colors of Ford Motor Company, and we hope to have a great run ourselves in the Ford 400 as we say goodbye to Ryan Blaney and Jeremy Bullins, who have made major contributions to Wood Brothers history in their three seasons with us.

The No. 21 Fusion will carry its familiar Motorcraft/Quick Lane colors in the season-ending Ford 400 on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

TIL NEX TTIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kevin Harvick Was “In The Hunt” All Day At Phoenix

Kevin Harvick

Date: Nov. 12, 2017

Event: Can-Am 500k (Round 35 of 36)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway (mile oval)

Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/162 laps)

Start/Finish: 6th/5th (Running, completed 312 of 312 laps)

Point Standing: 1st with 5,000 points (Advances to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway)

 

Race Winner: Matt Kenseth of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75)

● Kevin Harvick started sixth, finished fifth and earned six bonus points.

● Busch Light Ford Fusion raced up to fourth by lap 19 while fighting a loose-off handling condition.

● Harvick fell to the fifth position just before the end of Stage 1.

● The No. 4 teampitted at the end of the stage for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150):

● Started sixth, finished sixth and earned five bonus points.

 Harvick advanced as high as the fourth position, but the car started to get tight in the center of the corner and loose off.

● The No. 4 team came to pit road at the conclusion of Stage 2 for four tires, fuel and air pressure and wedge adjustments.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 151-312):

● Started fifth and finished fifth.

● The No. 4 Ford came to pit road under caution on lap 231 for four tires, fuel and air pressure and chassis adjustments.

● The team gained a position on pit road during the lap-231 pit stop and restarted in the fourth position.

 Harvick elected to stay out under caution in the third position on lap 240, but he fell to sixth following the restart.

● The team came to pit road under caution on lap 255 for tires, fuel and adjustments, but several cars opted to stay out, and the No. 4 Ford restarted in the 13th position.

● The Busch Light Ford came to pit road under caution on lap 277 for four tires and fuel, while most cars opted to stay out. He restarted with fresh tires in the 12th position.

● Harvick raced his way from 12th to fifth  in the closing laps.

 

Notes:

● This was Harvick’s 13th top-five and 22nd top-10 of  the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season.

● This was Harvick’s 14th top-five and 19th top-10 finish in 30 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Phoenix.

● The Championship 4 contenders are Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Brad Keselowski. Each enters the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with 5,000 points.

● Harvick will compete for a championship for the third time in the last four years. He won the championship in 2014.

● Harvick finished fifth in Stage 1 to earn six bonus points and sixth in Stage 2 to earn an additional five bonus points.

● There were seven caution periods for a total of 41 laps.

● Eighteen of the 40 drivers in the Can-Am 500k finished on the lead lap.

 

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

What does it mean to move on with a chance to win another title?

“It means a lot, especially this year switching everything from our manufacturer to Ford and just seeing the steady climb of performance and peaking as the playoffs started and running good on really every racetrack that we’ve been to; and this has by far been our best round – all three top-fives and a win. It’s the right time of the year to be peaking. I feel really good about our mile-and-a-half program. Homestead has been a great racetrack for us through the years, and hopefully we can go down there and contend. I think, for us, you’re really happy with where you are just for the fact that as a company we know what we went through and kind of playing on house money at this point. So we’re gonna go down there and wing it and see what happens.”

 

Team owner Tony Stewart said earlier that he’s seen this script before with you, and you are going to go down to Homestead and win. Is it that easy for you?

“We have every intention of doing that. Our intention is to go down there and win the championship. I think if you’re one of those four and you don’t have that mentality, you’re not prepared for what you’re getting into, because I feel like you’re gonna have to win the race, you’re gonna have to not make mistakes. We’ve seen it year after year, mistakes and circumstances and things happen and you have to be there first, you have to have a chance, and you have to think you can do it. We know we can do it, and I think there are three past champions and a guy that has run well all year and won a lot of races, so it’s not like it’s gonna be just check the box and send the check. It’s guys that have done this before and won races, but for us we’re confident in our team and feel like we should have a chance.”

 

From the mental toughness aspect that is required to win a title, is this maybe the strongest field?

“I wouldn’t say it’s the strongest field, because I think as you look at the past, and if I’m not mistaken, I know the 78 has been there before, the 18 (of Kyle Busch) has been there before obviously. I don’t know if Brad (Keselowski) has been there before or not in this particular format, but it’s not something that these guys are just gonna cave in and give up on what they’re doing. Three of us have won championships, and Martin (Truex Jr.) has won a lot of races this year, so the pressure is really on the 78 and the 18. Those guys have dominated the year, and I feel like if they don’t win at this point they would probably feel like they’ve had a letdown. So it’s a lot of fun coming from behind and playing catch-up. And kind of playing that underdog role is much easier than being expected to go down there and win. We expect to win.”

 

Championship 4 Drivers at Homestead-Miami Speedway:

1.  Kevin Harvick (5,000 points)

2.  Kyle Busch (5,000 points)

3.  Martin Truex Jr. (5,000 points)

4.  Brad Keselowski (5,000 points)

 

Failed to Advance to the Championship 4:

5.  Chase Elliott (2,338 points, -2,662)

6.  Denny Hamlin (2,321 points, -2,679)

8.  Ryan Blaney (2,297 points, -2,703)

10. Jimmie Johnson (2,250 points, -2,750)

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday, Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

TIL NEXT  TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kurt Busch Dealt With Handling Issues At Phoenix

Kurt Busch
Date: Nov. 12, 2017

Event: Can-Am 500k (Round 35 of 36)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Phoenix Raceway (1-mile oval)

Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/162 laps)

Start/Finish: 15th/21st (Running, completed 310 of 312 laps)

Point Standing: 15th with 2,193 points

 

Race Winner: Matt Kenseth of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):

● Kurt Busch started 15th, finished 16th.

● Busch noted loose-handling conditions in addition to low right-rear grip during the opening laps.

● He continued to battle balance issues for the duration of the stage.

● Busch pitted for four fresh tires, fuel and air pressure and chassis adjustments at the conclusion of the stage.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150):

● Started 17th, finished 15th.

● Loose handling continued to hinder the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford’s speed throughout the stage.

● Busch pitted for four fresh tires, fuel and adjustments at the end of the stage.

● Due to a broken jack during the stop, Busch lost two positions on pit road.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 151-312):

● Started 17th, finished 21st.

● Busch pitted during a lap-239 caution to counter loose-handling conditions. He restarted in the 15th position.

● He opted to stay out during a lap-250 caution to restart ninth.

● Busch battled the Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford in and around the top-10 until a lap-280 caution.

● During the final restart, Busch was caught in traffic, and his car sustained front-end damage that limited driver visibility.

 

Notes:

● There were seven caution periods for a total of 41 laps.

● Eighteen of the 40 drivers in the Can-Am 500k finished on the lead lap.

● Matt Kenseth won the Can-Am 500k to score his 39th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his second at Phoenix. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was 1.207 seconds.

● The Championship 4 contenders are Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Brad Keselowski. Each enters the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with 5,000 points.

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday, Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kenseth Pulls Out A Dramatic Win At Phoenix

Matt Kenseth
The middle-aged man without a ride for 2018 drove a dagger through the heart of the youngster expected to shine in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for years to come.

With nine laps left in Sunday’s Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway, 45-year-old Matt Kenseth passed 21-year-old Chase Elliott for the lead and pulled away to win for the first time since the July 2016 New Hampshire race, breaking a 51-event winless string.

Kenseth’s victory, the 39th of his career, deprived Elliott of a chance to run for the series championship next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway and kept Chevrolet out of the title race. The win also was a gift to Brad Keselowski, who survived a lackluster afternoon with enough points to advance to the Championship 4 event.

Resigned to a hiatus from NASCAR racing after Erik Jones takes his seat in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at the end of the year, Kenseth won at Phoenix for the second time and provided a rare show of emotion in Victory Lane.

“Yeah, it’s really not describable,” Kenseth said. “With only two (races) left, I didn’t think we probably had a good chance of getting back to Victory Lane. It’s been, I don’t know how many races – somebody’s probably going to tell me tonight – but it’s been at least 50 or 60, so it’s been a long time.

“We’ve had a lot of close ones. Just felt like it was never meant to be, and today it was meant to be…. I’ve got to be honest with you, I never dreamed I’d win one of these races, so obviously I’ve been so incredibly blessed throughout my whole career.”

Elliott has had some painful runner-up finishes this season—running second five times in his quest for a first career victory—but the sting of this one was especially severe. After squeezing Playoff contender Denny Hamlin into the outside wall on Lap 270, Elliott grabbed third place before Hamlin blew a tire and shot into the Turn 3 wall on Lap 275, his race and his championship run were over.

One lap after the final restart on Lap 282, Elliott passed Martin Truex Jr. for second. One circuit later, he shot past Kenseth through Turns 3 and 4 for the lead and began to pull away. As the run continued, however, Kenseth closed the gap. On Lap 303 of 312, he cleared Elliott off Turn 2 and stretched his advantage to 1.207 seconds at the finish.

“We were so close to having another shot next week,” Elliott said. “But, man, I can’t say enough for our team and our Hooter’s Chevrolet this weekend. We fought really hard today and gave ourselves a chance. Our car was really fast on those short runs after a caution and after pit cycles on tires. It fired off really good, and we did pretty good on the short run all day and got really tight as the run went long.

“And once the rubber laid back down, I was just hanging on and hoping I could get to traffic before (the car) started going away. It’s just such a bummer. I was telling my guys we’ll get it right someday, or I’ll get it right someday. We’ve had so many good opportunities, and at some point, we’ve just got to close.”

Hamlin had led 193 laps before his run-in with Elliott. The two drivers had a recent history, with Hamlin depriving Elliott of a possible victory and a Championship 4 berth by knocking him into the Turn 3 wall with fewer than four laps left two weeks ago at Martinsville.

“Oh, well, I’m going to race guys how they race me and keep a smile on my face regardless,” Elliott said of the incident. “I’m happy to race guys how they choose to race me, and that’s the way I see it.”

Keselowski, who muscled an ill-handling car to a 16th-place finish and beat polesitter Ryan Blaney (17th Sunday) for the final berth in the championship race, moves on to Homestead to battle Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch for the series title. Truex, the series leader, finished third on Sunday in front of Jones and Harvick.

Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Aric Almirola and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the top 10.

Jimmie Johnson, who like Elliott needed a victory to advance to Homestead, blew his right front tire and crashed out of the event on Lap 150, ending the day in 39th place.

Check out the unofficial results of the Can-Am 500k.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Chase Elliott: Win Or Bust

Chase Elliott
Unlike Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney or Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott doesn’t have a realistic chance to advance to the Championship 4 on points—and he knows it.

“Our task at hand is pretty simple,” said the driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, who trails Keselowski by 49 points for the final spot at Homestead. “We have to win the race to move on next week. Everybody in here knows that. We know that and we are going to try to attack the weekend as best we can.

“Hopefully, give ourselves a chance to do that Sunday afternoon and see what happens. That’s pretty straightforward what we have to do with the situation we’re in now. It’s not the most ideal situation, but if you were able to pull it off, it would be a lot of momentum moving into next week. We’ll give it our best shot and see what happens.”

Elliott got off to a strong start on Friday afternoon with a fourth-place qualifying effort. He was second fastest behind Kevin Harvick in Saturday’s first practice session but dropped to 17th in Happy Hour when the one-mile track at Phoenix Raceway got hotter and slicker—closer to the conditions he’ll face in Sunday’s Can-Am 500.

Elliott was within four laps of winning the opening race in the Playoff’s Round of 8 at Martinsville when Hamlin drove him into the Turn 3 wall. But Elliott would prefer not to dwell on what might have been.

“You can play the game of ‘what if’s,’ but unfortunately for our circumstances, this is a sport of do’s and don’ts and we have not,” Elliott said. “I’ve said that before. It’s just the facts. What happened last week or a month ago or the beginning of the season or having an opportunity to win and not—it’s nothing you can change now.

“I think you just have to understand whatever position that you’re in and hope that you learn something from that experience to know that, if you’re ever in that position again, you can change the outcome.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!