Kyle Larson Assumes Sole Ownership Of Sprint Car Team

Shane Stewart and crew
NASCAR star and dirt racing veteran “Young Money”,  Kyle Larson, will shift into the sole owner of Larson Marks Racing starting in 2018. The team will be run under the Kyle Larson Racing banner and Justin Marks will assume an advisory role with KLR moving forward.

“I couldn’t be more proud of what LMR has accomplished the past few years,” said Marks. “I was always hopeful that Kyle would learn about team ownership and operation to the point where he could be comfortable taking this project on himself. He’s ready for it and I’m looking forward to supporting him and KLR in the future.”

Kyle Larson Racing will continue with Shane Stewart of Bixby, Okla., as the pilot of the No. 2. KLR will be led by crew chief Lee Stauffer, with the support of fellow Pennsylvanians Heath Moyle and Dennis Christ rounding out the team.

“I am excited to make this change and take over the reins of the sprint car team,” said Larson. “We have been very successful the past four seasons and it has been great working with Justin, Shane and all of the guys at LMR. It was always the plan for me to move to the forefront of our ownership group and the time is right to make this a natural step. Justin has taught me a lot about what it takes to be an owner. He has displayed great leadership and made this team to what it is today. I look forward to his continued involvement in our team.”

While the core of the Larson Marks Racing team will stay intact, Larson has also added Paul Silva of Sacramento, Calif., to the KLR lineup as General Manager. Larson and Silva have previously worked together as driver and crew chief. Last year, they won eight of the 16 events they competed in together, including a runner-up finish at the 5-Hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals.

Silva will also continue his crew chief role with Larson when the young NASCAR star is able to get back to his racing roots at the local dirt tracks.

“I have had long relationships with both Kyle and Shane, both with a lot of success in racing,” said Silva. “I hope to carry that over into my new role at Kyle Larson Racing. I’m really looking forward to getting to work with these guys and starting the season off on the right foot in Florida.”

Silva and Stewart also raced together on and off for years, including competing full time for three seasons. They won two American Sprint Car Series National Championships, several World of Outlaw wins, a podium finish at the 2011 410 Knoxville Nationals and an impressive five 360 Knoxville Nationals, four of them in a row from 2010 to 2013.

“Adding Paul to the group we already have established will only bring more success to our team,” said Stewart. “I think everyone having a history together will make this transition extremely smooth. I am excited to see Kyle stepping up into this role. Justin has become a great friend and I am happy he will still be supporting the team.”

Since its inception, the former Larson Marks Racing team has amassed 35 wins, including the famed Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, the Front Row Challenge at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa, preliminary night victories at the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals, two Capitani Classic wins at Knoxville Raceway and the Winter Heat Championship at Cocopah Speedway in Somerton, Ariz.

KLR will kick-off the 2018 season at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., during the DIRTcar Nationals in February. The team will be vying for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series Championship. Sponsorship details will be released after the new year.

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

Credit One Bank Partners With Chip Ganassi Racing For 2018

Kyle Larson

After a successful first season with Kyle Larson and the No. 42 team, Credit One Bank, the Official Credit Card of NASCAR, will expand the relationship with Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) by becoming the largest sponsor of the No. 42 for the 2018 season.

Credit One Bank’s multi-year deal will kick off with the 2018 season-opening Daytona 500, which will be the 60th running of the Great American Race. In addition to the Daytona 500, Credit One Bank will serve as the primary sponsor for Larson, who will be in his fifth full-time season in NASCAR’s premier series, and the No. 42 team throughout the 2018 season.

Credit One Bank, who first partnered with CGR in 2016 for several races with the No. 1 team, will also continue as an associate sponsor with Jamie McMurray and the No. 1 team in 2018.

For video of the 2018 Credit One Bank paint scheme, visit https://youtu.be/gNEGKv6yZ5c.

NOTES OF INTEREST:

 

·         NASCAR and Beyond: Credit One Bank is entering its third season as a partner with CGR, debuting in 2016 as a primary sponsor on the No. 1 team for multiple races and an associate sponsor for the duration of 2016. Credit One Bank joined the sport in 2016 with the launch of a multi-year partnership with the sanctioning body to offer the “Official Credit Card of NASCAR”. The Credit One Bank NASCAR credit card offers 1 percent cash back on eligible purchases and 2 percent cash back on purchases made at the NASCAR.com Superstore. Credit One Bank offers full spectrum credit card products, and is among the top 10 largest Visa credit card issuers in the United States.

 

·         In the Bank: Larson wasted no time earlier this season taking advantage of the new stage point structure implemented by NASCAR. Larson earned points in each stage of the first five races, and was the first driver to reach the 100-point mark from stage finishes. On the year, Larson scored stage points in all but 16 stages, and won a total of eight stages.

 

·         Second to None: With four victories in 2017, Larson greatly added to his career win total in the MENCS, and with eight runner-up finishes he has also bested his previous high in that category (three), which he achieved in 2014 and 2016. Two of those runner-up finishes came while driving the Credit One Bank Chevrolet. Larson rounded out the year with 15 top-five finishes, with only three of those finishes not being a first or second-place result. Larson’s strong season netted him a career-best eighth-place finish in the final point standings.

 

·         25 Going on 30: Behind a growing fan base and greater success on the track in 2017, including his second straight trip to the playoffs, Kyle Larson was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 in Sports 2018 list. Larson was the only motorsports athlete on the list, which also included Jose Altuve, Julio Jones, and Kawhi Leonard to name a few.

 

QUOTEBOARD:

 

Laura Faulkner, Vice President of Marketing Communications, Credit One Bank: “Credit One Bank is thrilled to continue our partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing, the No. 42 team and Kyle Larson by becoming the leading team sponsor. Through this relationship, we are able share the Credit One Bank NASCAR credit card benefits with millions of race fans. We look forward to seeing the No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet Camaro during the Daytona 500 and other additional races in 2018.”

 

·         Steve Lauletta, President, Chip Ganassi Racing: “We are very excited to yet again grow our relationship with Credit One Bank. We have enjoyed an exciting first year with them on the No. 42 car up to this point, and look forward to seeing their paint scheme on the track much more in 2018.”

 

·         Kyle Larson, Driver No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet: “It’s great that Credit One Bank will be expanding their partnership with our team next season. It’s been cool to see their excitement and interest in our team and NASCAR grow throughout this year. We’ve had some exciting races with them on board, and hopefully there’s more to come next year.” 

 

About Credit One Bank:

Credit One Bank, N.A. is a U.S.-based national bank that specializes in credit cards. Credit One Bank focuses on providing a full range of credit card products with cash back rewards that suit consumers’ everyday needs. Credit One Bank is one of the top Visa issuers in the U.S. as well as the Official Credit Card of NASCAR and the Vegas Golden Knights. For more information, please visit CreditOneBank.com.

About Chip Ganassi Racing:

Chip Ganassi has been a fixture in the auto racing industry for over 30 years and is considered one of the most successful as well as innovative owners the sport has anywhere in the world. Today his teams include four cars in the Verizon IndyCar Series, two cars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, two cars in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, two factory Ford GT’s in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and two factory Ford GT’s in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Overall his teams have 18 championships and more than 190 victories, including four Indianapolis 500s, a Daytona 500, a Brickyard 400, six Rolex 24 At Daytonas, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ganassi boasts state-of-the-art race shop facilities in Indianapolis and Concord, N.C., with a corporate office in Pittsburgh, Pa.

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

Bell Outduels Larson For The Turkey Classic At Ventura

Christopher Bell

Thanksgiving is the day each year when we take a little extra time to realize how fortunate we are and to give thanks.

For those in attendance at Thursday’s “Turkey Night Grand Prix,” the realization quickly came to how thankful we are to have witnessed Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson duking it out against each other for 98 laps in USAC Midgets at Ventura Raceway.

The three official lead changes listed in the box score aren’t indicative of the back-and-forth battle these two titans waged with sliders being exchanged like currency on both ends of the racetrack!

On the 54th lap, Bell ultimately made the winning pass on Larson with a daring outside move on the front straightaway, but would have to endure the relentless persistence of Larson all the way down to turn one of the final lap when he stifled Larson’s slider before it even had time to develop.

Bell, of Norman, Oklahoma, joined the ranks of two-time “Turkey Night” winners just six days after wrapping up his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title at Homestead (Fla.) Speedway.  Though he and Larson have reached success in the NASCAR ranks in recent years, their home lies in the dirt tracks, just like old times when they were regulars on the USAC trail.

“Oh my god, it’s so much fun,” Bell exclaimed.  “I just told Kyle that if he would’ve beat me, I would’ve been, maybe not just as happy, but still happy because it was just that much fun.  That race was one of the most fun races I’ve run in a long time.”

Straight from the outset, polesitter Larson had the upper hand as inside second row starter Bell followed in his wake on the bottom.

As Larson ringed around the berm lining the bottom of the racing surface, Bell became the first in line to venture to the top on the 12th lap, using a big bite off turn four to pull to a dead-heat at the line alongside Larson before nudging into the lead by a sliver into the first turn.

Bell never wavered in his decision to go “high, wide, and handsome”, and it would pay off one lap later when he slipped by Larson off turn four to secure the lead.

“I could tell that the top was going to be good,” Bell theorized.  “Watching the sprint car feature, we saw that it got pretty good.  They tilled the bottom and I could tell it was going to be really good at the beginning.  Once it started going away, I tried the top and it was right there.”

On lap 40, Brayton Lynch got sideways in a shuffle for position at the exit of turn four.  Facing oncoming traffic, Chad Boat met front-bumper to front-bumper with Lynch, melding the noses of each car together as Boat attempted to peel away to no avail.  Courtney Crone and newly-crowned five-time USAC Light Up the World Beverages Western States Midget champ Ronnie Gardner were also involved, but would restart.

When racing resumed on lap 52, Larson went to the bottom and slid his teammate Bell to snare the lead.  One lap later, Bell returned the favor and slithered by Larson with just inches to spare as he tunneled between Larson’s right-side wheels and the front straightaway wall.  Larson attacked again into turn one with a slider, but the motion was denied, and Bell cleared away the Tryptophan after the wake-up call and sprinted back into the lead.

Following a lap 57 tangle between the two most recent USAC National Midget feature winners – Brady Bacon and series champion Spencer Bayston – Larson harassed Bell, putting it all on the line in the prestigious race in an attempt to become just the third driver to win the event three times.  On lap 66, Larson got on the bike, lifting the left side wheels as he ripped the edge of the turn three cushion in his tireless pursuit.

With three-quarters of the race in the rearview mirror, it was time to turn up the wick!  The bottom became just a distant memory as the two were now inside the barrel, riding the wave in turns three and four above the cushion.  On lap 80, Larson slid Bell into turn one momentarily.  Bell retaliated by crossing underneath Larson off the second turn to recapture the point.  In turn three, the second verse played out the same as the first as Larson slid to the lead and Bell, so Allen Iverson-esque, used a killer crossover to bolt back to the front.

“The majority of drivers understand you have to be good at the end of the race to win the race,” Bell said.  “At the beginning, you’re just cruising and making sure you make It to the end of the race.  That’s the biggest thing.  Kyle and I were both rolling around there about quarter-throttle at the beginning, trying to save our tires and kill some laps.  It worked out and we were racing our butts off at the end.”

Larson, the five-time NASCAR Monster Energy Cup winner, set up another Hail Mary that was denied as Bell wheelied away off the top of turn two to remain in front.  Tyler Courtney, the USAC West Coast/VRA Sprint Car feature winner earlier in the night, slowed to a stop in turn one to bring out the yellow and provide a breather for both the drivers and fans alike.

On the ensuing restart, Bell jetted away from Larson and, with ten to go, held a lead of over one second with a full nest of lappers resting in the distance.  Just prior to lapped traffic possibly becoming a factor with a mere four laps to go, Holly Shelton and Bacon performed a synchronized spin between turns one and two that brought out the final yellow and one more stanza that Bell had to deal with Larson.

“The track was so technical,” Bell explained.  “It was all about hitting your marks and minimizing mistakes because you weren’t going to make a mistake-free lap tonight.  You just had to make sure when you made a mistake that you could recover from it.  Once I got going on those green flag runs, I could get my momentum built up and make good, competitive laps.  But after the yellow flags, it was tough to pick your rhythm back up.  I knew I was a sitting duck their leading on the restarts.  On the final one, Kyle got one last bomb on me and I was able to get him back.”

Larson’s first lob of a bomb was a success in turn one on the lap 95 restart as he scraped across the surface to snag the race lead from Bell.  Bell counter-punched and ripped away the lead back away from Larson with a slider into turn three.  Entering turn one with two laps remaining, wheels banged and nerf bars clanged as Larson shot to the lead past Bell once again.

As a uncertain as a game of tug-of-war teetering on a see-saw, Bell launched like a missile on a hell-bound train to slide across the nose of Larson and into the lead between turns three and four to capture the lead for good.  Larson threw a haymaker entering turn three coming to the white flag, pulling side-by-side with Bell at the exit of four where it momentarily became three-wide with Shane Golobic arriving seemingly out of the clear blue sky to mount a challenge for the lead.

Larson tried once more on the final lap, but Bell savagely, and wisely, took a lower entrance into turn one, thus preventing a final pull of the pin from Larson.  Bell carried on with a 0.193 second lead across the finish line as Larson blasted off the top of the final corner to nip Golobic by a wheel at the line for the runner-up spot.  Past “Turkey Night” winner Tanner Thorson was fourth and Don Basile “Rookie of the Race” Zeb Wise was fifth in his second-career USAC National Midget start.

Bell was 4 for 7 in USAC National Midget feature appearances in 2017 for a .571 batting average.  His 21st career series victory tied him with Steve Cannon, Jimmy Caruthers, Rex Easton and Ken Schrader for 27th all-time.

The fourth-straight “Turkey Night” win for the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports team began with Bell’s victory in 2014. Firsts are always special in any circumstance, but this one has even more meaning for the 22-year-old, 2013 USAC National Midget titlist.

“I definitely had to work harder for this one.  This one was even more fun and more special.”

Contingency award winners Thursday night at Ventura Raceway were Kyle Larson (ProSource/Woodland Auto Display Fast Qualifier), Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Simpson Race Products/Extreme Mufflers 1st Qualifier Winner & Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Chad Boat (Competition Suspension, Inc./Brown & Miller Racing Solutions 2nd Qualifier Winner), Zeb Wise (Chalk Stix/Keizer Aluminum Wheels/Saldana Racing Products/Indy Race Parts Last Chance Winner) and Ryan Robinson (KSE Racing Products/Esslinger Engineering Hard Charger).

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

Young Money Finishes 10th But He Raced Much Better

Kyle Larson
Kyle Larson scored a top-10 in Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but the driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet left the first race in the Round of 12 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff knowing he should have done better with one of the fastest cars on the track.

Larson ran in the top five early on but missed his pit stall on the first pass down pit road, requiring a return trip and a resulting loss of track position. He recovered and climbed back toward the front.

Larson subsequently led Laps 268 through 279, but he lost 10 spots on pit road when his rear tire carrier tripped over the hose to an air gun during a stop under caution on Lap 327, and the tire changer had difficulty removing the lugs from the left rear.

A pair of less-than-stellar restarts late in the race—not to mention contact from Kurt Busch’s spinning car on Lap 335—relegated Larson to a 10th-place result that could and should have been better.

“I felt like I had a car to win,” Larson said. “I made a mistake on pit road early. We rebounded from that. And then we had a costly mistake late and somewhat rebounded; but then those last two restarts didn’t go my way…

“Disappointing, but we fought hard.”

Larson enters next Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway second in the series standings, but he’s 34 points behind points leader and Charlotte race winner Martin Truex Jr.

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

The Intensity Level Ratchets Up In The Round Of 12

Kyle Larson & Owen Larson
Kyle Larson was satisfied with his Round of 16 performance, but knows he has plenty of work left in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

“Even though we started the playoffs with a pretty nice cushion, and looked good to make the next round, I was glad to see our Chevys were strong throughout the first round and we had three solid finishes,” said Larson, who enters the Round of 12 third on the Playoff Grid, 24 points ahead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on the cutoff line. “It’s great to have both me and (Chip Ganassi Racing teammate) Jamie (McMurray) through to the second round, but I know things are going to get more intense for us in this round.”

The intensity he mentioned starts with the Round of 12 opener – Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

In eight career starts at Charlotte, Larson has one top five, two top 10s and a 19.8 average finish. He placed a career-track-best fifth in last season’s Charlotte fall race. Larson finished 33rd in this year’s May race after wrecking out of the competition.

“Charlotte has been kind of a hit or miss track for me, but I’m usually pretty good during the day there, so hopefully a day race will favor me,” Larson said.

The No. 42 Chevrolet driver has a 3.2 average finish when he’s finished the race at 1.5-mile tracks this year. He’s in the midst of a breakout season where he’s posted career bests in wins (4), top fives (14), top 10s (18) and laps led (1,109) with seven races remaining.

“We obviously want to win in each round and not have to worry about the points, but if we can continue to be consistent and finish around the top-five, we should put ourselves in a good position to move on.” We just need to stay focused and work to be mistake free this weekend.”

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

Interesting New Hampshire Notes

Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin will go for the season sweep of New Hampshire on Sunday. He led 54 laps on his way to the checkered flag there in July, beating out second-place Kyle Larson by .509 seconds. Martin Truex Jr. finished third, followed by Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick.

The No. 11 Toyota driver enters Sunday’s race carrying a ton of momentum. He has finished in the top five in 10 of his last 13 races and has scored four consecutive top fives.

In 23 career New Hampshire starts, Hamlin owns three wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s and a 10.0 average finish (second best among active drivers). His 104.0 New Hampshire driver rating tops the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Another driver performing well right now with little fanfare is Kevin Harvick – last year’s fall New Hampshire winner. The No. 4 Ford driver has eight top-10 finishes in his last 12 starts, including a third place showing at Chicagoland last weekend where he led 59 laps.

In 33 career starts at New Hampshire, Harvick claims two wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s and a 12.8 average finish. He has produced a top-five result in five of his last six starts at The Magic Mile. His 10.9 average running position at New Hampshire ranks third among active drivers.

Nine of the 16 playoff drivers have previously visited Victory Lane at New Hampshire. They’ll try to channel their experience to do it again and earn an automatic bid to the second round. Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson lead active drivers with three wins apiece at The Magic Mile. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick have won at New Hampshire twice. Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski have each lifted the lobster in Victory Lane once at the New England track.

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

Dale Jr. Thinks He’s Leaving NASCAR Racing In Good Hands

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
There’s no debating that the highest level of NASCAR racing is witnessing a changing of the guard.

Jeff Gordon retired from full-time racing at the end of the 2015 season. Tony Stewart followed a year later. Earnhardt is playing out his final year in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Danica Patrick has announced she won’t return to Stewart-Haas Racing next year. And veterans Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne are out of their current rides, with no concrete plans to announce yet for 2018.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is short on star power. With neophyte young guns like Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez, Austin Dillon and Erik Jones leading a parade of talented 20-somethings, Earnhardt believes he’s leading the competition in firm hands.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Earnhardt affirmed. “I think that these young guys are really crafty with social media and I think that’s a great direction for them to interact with not only current fans, but to find new fans. I think they do a great job at that.

“I had to learn what Twitter was and how to use it. These guys grew up in this generation, and they are sort of already masters of it. There’s a lot of great things going on on Instagram and Twitter, and I think that there’s a lot of opportunity there to capture an audience and make new fans and create new fans.”

Earnhardt also believes the drivers who will carry the sport for the next generation must accept the necessity of outreach—even if it’s an inconvenience.

“They need to push themselves, which is hard to do. I didn’t want to do any of this when I was young. But when NASCAR says we need somebody in New York to do morning shows this week to promote the playoffs, these guys need to jump on that wagon and go.

“It’s not a ton of fun, but once you’re in the middle of it, doing it, it’s really enjoyable meeting these people and these personalities and making these connections and networking with these people.”

So here comes the next generation of NASCAR super stars to carry the sport for the next decade or so!

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

Keselowski Continues His Twitter “War” With Kyle Busch And The Toyotas

Kyle Busch
Fresh from a Twitter war with Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch proved a point with his pole run at Chicagoland Speedway—and may just have proved Keselowski’s.

“We are all in for a rude awakening,” Keselowski tweeted two hours before Friday’s knockout qualifying session at the 1.5-mile track, site of Sunday’s Tales of the Turtles 400, the first event in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff.

“Haven’t let a manufacturer get this far ahead since the ‘70s.”

The tweet was a reference to Toyota’s recent dominance in NASCAR’s foremost series, and after a snarky social media exchange with Keselowski, Busch let his No. 18 Camry do the talking, leading all three rounds of qualifying and capping the session with a blistering 28.792-second circuit at 187.963 mph in the money round.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin (186.168 mph) was second in the final round, 0.277 seconds off Busch’s pace.

The Coors Light Pole Award was Busch’s first at Chicagoland Speedway, his seventh of the season and the 26th of his career.

“You’d like to be doing your talking on the race track, and they (Keselowski and Team Penske) were earlier in the year,” Busch said. “They were doing their talking on the race track and again, we kept our head down and went to work and did our job to make our stuff faster.

“Now he’s doing the opposite. As far as having Twitter wars or whatever else, I don’t know. I’d like to not have to. I guess somebody needs to take it off my phone.”

Ten of the 16 Playoff drivers advanced to the final round, with regular-season champion Martin Truex Jr. qualifying third in the No. 78 Toyota. Kevin Harvick was the top Ford driver in fourth, followed by Keselowski in fifth. Kyle Larson in sixth had the fastest Chevrolet.

Joey Logano in seventh and Clint Bowyer in 11th were the only two non-playoff drivers to crack the top 12.

Kasey Kahne was bumped out of the top 24 in the final minute of the first round and was the only Playoff driver who failed to advance beyond that point.

The disparity between the third-round runs of Busch and Hamlin had the latter wondering where his teammate found such blazing speed when it counted.

“It wasn’t because his car was that much faster,” Hamlin said. “He must have done something inside the car better than I did, so I’ll have to look at the data and see what line he took and how much throttle he used, because I know there’s not three tenths between our cars, for sure.”

Busch had a ready answer.

“It’s because I’m in a Toyota—that’s why right?” he said, taking another not-so-subtle dig at Keselowski. “Just great adjustments there, because we were kind of free there the first couple of runs and were trying to get the balance there.

“And the last run, our balance was way better, and we were able to attack it and get the most out of it. That’s all she had.”

Note: Ryan Blaney qualified 12th, failing to make a qualifying run in the final round. The reason? His No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford was out of fuel. Trying to keep the car as light as possible, the team filled the car with just enough fuel to complete three rounds.

But a red flag for Erik Jones’ spin in the second round canceled one of Blaney’s laps in progress and forced him to run extra laps—and to run the car out of gas.

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

Harvick: Playoff Points Will Gather More Importance As Playoff Rounds Proceed

Kevin Harvick
No one knows precisely how the current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff format will unfold this season.

Two innovations have injected considerable uncertainty into the stage-based racing, under which drivers can accumulate points at the end of defined segments of an event; and playoff points, which can give drivers a cushion that could help a driver survive a disastrous race in one of the rounds leading up to the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

With four race victories, 18 stage wins and a regular-season championship, Martin Truex Jr. has accumulated 53 playoff points he can carry forward into the first three playoff rounds. Kyle Larson has 33 playoff points and Kyle Busch 29.

On the low end of the scale, Jamie McMurray has three. But how the playoff points will translate into advancement through the playoff rounds is still a matter for conjecture.

“I think as you look at the points, in the first round I don’t think you’re going to notice it as much,” said 2014 champion Kevin Harvick. “I think it’s when you see those points start to roll in the second and third rounds and how they affect everything is going to be much more noticeable.”

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

Young Money Takes It To the Bank In Overtime

Kyle Larson
A caution on Lap 397 of a scheduled 400 in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 turned what looked like a coronation for Martin Truex Jr. into an unexpected overtime victory for Kyle Larson, as the field of 16 drivers was set for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

Truex, the regular season winner, had a comfortable lead over Larson when Derrike Cope brushed the outside wall with three laps left in regulation. Larson won the race off pit road after the lead-lap cars pitted for tires, and the driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing pulled away from a restart on Lap 403.

One lap later, contact between the Toyotas of Truex and Denny Hamlin sent Truex’s No. 78 Camry rocketing into the Turn 1 wall, and the race ended under caution with Larson in the lead and Joey Logano, who needed a win to qualify for the postseason, rolling home in second place after making the most of a restart from the ninth position.

“I’ve got the greatest team out here and definitely the best pit crew,” Larson said. “That showed tonight. I can’t thank those guys enough. They were money all night long to gain spots. This win is a huge congrats to them. The Target Chevy was pretty good all night. The No. 78 (Truex) was definitely the best, but I thought I was second best for most of the runs.

“It came down to the last restart there, and I got a good start. I spun my tires pretty bad, and I was a little nervous, but we cleared him (Truex) into (Turn) 1, and I was pretty excited about that. I’m really pumped for the playoffs. We’ve got a great shot at the championship, I feel like, this year. So I’m looking forward to it.”

Larson’s victory ensured playoff spots for three drivers fighting for berths on points – Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth. The night was particularly tense for Kenseth, who damaged the nose and radiator of his car beyond repair coming to pit road on Lap 255.

An ambulance stopped on the apron near the pit road entrance forced drivers to take evasive action, and Kenseth’s car plowed into the rear of Clint Bowyer’s Ford, doing irreparable damage. Kenseth fell out of the race after 257 laps and had to wait until Larson’s victory eliminated the possibility of another unique winner – a circumstance that would’ve eliminated Kenseth from the playoff.

Logano ran one spot short of the victory he needed to make the playoff, after his April win was encumbered because of a penalty for a rear suspension infraction.

“Yeah, you said it, came up a little bit short overall,” Logano said. “Yeah, it stings a little bit. Last time we were sitting here after a race, it was after a win, and this time it’s after a second, which overall if you look at our Richmond (record) for a season with the two races, you’d say, that’s pretty good, a first and a second.

“But just overall, obviously it stings to come up one spot short and not be able to get into the playoffs. It is what it is. It’s reality, and we will move on.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran consistently in the top 10 throughout his final run at Richmond in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet but fell to 13th in the melee of the final restart.

Ryan Newman came home third, followed by Kurt Busch, Hamlin and Erik Jones, who was trying to force his way into the playoff with a victory. Jones ran as high as third but lost positions on pit road on his last two stops and didn’t have the speed to make up the difference.

Elliott finished 10th and McMurray 14th. Based on those runs, both drivers would’ve secured playoff berths after Kenseth fell out, even if the race had produced a new winner.

Note: Truex won the second stage of the race and increased his playoff point total to a series-leading 53… Larson passed ninth-place finisher Kyle Busch for second place in the final regular-season standings and earned a 10-point bonus to bring his playoff point total to 33. Busch gets an eight-playoff-point bonus for finishing third in the regular season and enters the postseason with 29 playoff points.

Check out the unofficial results of the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond.

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