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Ben Kennedy with GMS Racing, gets new sponsor
Ben Kennedy has signed a multi-race deal to drive the No. 33 Chevrolet of GMS Racing in the Camping World Truck Series, the organization announced Monday. A minimum of 10 races have been secured, starting May 6 at Kansas Speedway with sponsorship from Weber. Kennedy joins a stable of full- and part-time drivers at GMS that includes Johnny Sauter , Spencer Gallagher , Grant Enfinger and Kaz Grala. "I am very excited to join GMS Racing for the remainder of the 2016 season," Kennedy said in a team release. "I have watched the organization grow into a powerhouse team over the last year. All of their teams show up to the track each weekend with fast Chevrolets and I have total confidence that GMS will provide me with a solid truck each weekend. It's a great privilege to join Johnny (Sauter), Spencer (Gallagher), Kaz (Grala) and Grant (Enfinger) in the driver lineup. I am looking forward to the accomplishments we will achieve together as a team." Jacob Companies will sponsor Kennedy's ride. Kennedy also picked up another sponsor in Weber, the grill manufacturer, for a select number of races beginning at Kansas Speedway . "I am honored and privileged to work with a company like Weber," Kennedy said in a team release. "Their products have been in our home as long as I can remember. So this partnership means a lot, and I have confidence that the entire GMS team is determined to make their entry into NASCAR successful. I look forward to much success this season and to winning on and off the track." Kennedy, 24, parted ways with Red Horse Racing earlier this month. In three Truck races with Red Horse this season, Kennedy recorded finishes of 23rd, 15th and 11th. He had joined that organization in 2015, one year after claiming Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the series. He landed four top-five finishes in 23 races last season, and the pole position at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Kennedy is the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.
Logano earns Coors Light Pole at Martinsville
RELATED: Full starting lineup MARTINSVILLE, Va. – The third time was the charm for Joey Logano . Then again, so were the first and second. The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford dominated qualifying for Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET on FS1), topping the speed chart in all three sessions of Friday's knockout qualifying at Martinsville Speedway . The Coors Light Pole Award was the third straight for Logano at the .526-mile paperclip-shaped short track, marking the first time a driver has won three consecutive poles at Martinsville since Jeff Gordon accomplished the feat in 2003-2004. Navigating the speedway in 19.513 seconds (97.043 mph), Logano claimed the top starting in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race for the 15th time in his career. Logano, who was taken out of last year's Chase race when Matt Kenseth drove him into the Turn 1 wall, also is the third driver to sweep all three rounds in time trials since the group qualifying format was instituted at the start of the 2014 season. "I couldn't be more proud of these guys," Logano said of his team. "I say all the time that Martinsville is the most important track to start up front, and that's when you've got to come here and really show what you've got. "This is a nice little fire for us to get going. We've had a good season so far, but you want to break through and get some wins, and this pole is definitely going to help with some momentum." Logano edged outside front-row starter Kasey Kahne (97.033 mph) by .002 seconds. The driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet hadn't enjoyed a top-five position on the grid since last October's Chase race at Talladega. "It feels good," Kahne said. "The car was really fast, this Great Clips Chevrolet. The guys did a nice job in practice and in qualifying. I just kept getting better with my laps. We didn't make any adjustments. The car is fine. Just let me get my laps a little better. So we did that, and it was close. "Joey just barely got us. But it is definitely a good starting spot. That was one of my goals today was to help out on pit road (by earning second pit selection). Pit road is huge here. We have the best pit crew for stops, than anyone, in my opinion. And if I can help them on pit road, myself, and get a better spot, I think all that will be beneficial on Sunday." Brian Vickers , who led Friday's opening practice at Martinsville, qualified third at 96.864 mph. Paul Menard (96.854 mph) was fourth, followed by Ryan Newman (96.736 mph) and AJ Allmendinger (96.676 mph). Vickers was the only Stewart-Haas Racing driver to advance past the first round. Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch , both former winners at the track, will start 19th and 23rd, respectively. Denny Hamlin -- reigning race winner and one of the pre-race favorites -- earned the eighth starting spot, but eight-time Martinsville winner Jimmie Johnson wasn't as fortunate. The six-time Sprint Cup champion squeaked into the second round by .007 seconds over Carl Edwards but couldn't improve beyond the 24th-place starting position. The two leading drivers in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year battle, however, both made the top 12. Chase Elliott will take the green flag from in 10th, with Ryan Blaney right behind him in 12th, as the Wood Brothers Racing team returns to Martinsville for the first time since 2011. Dale Earnhardt Jr . experienced brake issues and qualified 21st.
RECAP: Talladega turmoil well timed for Sadler
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman recaps the Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway, which included a fantastic finish that had to be reviewed by NASCAR.
Reed goes for a ride
Ryan Reed gets loose after getting a slight push from Erik Jones coming through the tri oval at Talladega Superspeedway.
Results from Richmond heat races
Heat 1 Finish Start Car Driver 1 3 20 Erik Jones * 2 2 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 3 1 18 Matt Tifft 4 7 48 Brennan Poole * 5 4 1 Elliott Sadler 6 8 6 Darrell Wallace Jr . 7 5 33 Brandon Jones 8 6 62 Brendan Gaughan 9 15 5 Cole Custer 10 12 44 J.J. Yeley 11 9 43 Jeb Burton 12 11 51 Jeremy Clements 13 10 28 Dakoda Armstrong 14 14 14 Jeff Green 15 13 07 Ray Black Jr . 16 16 25 Harrison Rhodes 17 17 97 Ryan Ellis 18 19 40 Carl Long 19 18 70 Derrike Cope 20 20 89 Morgan Shepherd * Erik Jones and Brennan Poole are Dash 4 Cash-eligible for the main race. Heat 2 Finish Start Car Driver 1 5 3 Ty Dillon* 2 3 7 Justin Allgaier* 3 2 19 Daniel Suarez 4 4 22 Brad Keselowski (i) 5 1 2 Austin Dillon (i) 6 6 42 Justin Marks 7 9 4 Ross Chastain 8 10 11 Blake Koch 9 7 16 Ryan Reed 10 8 39 Ryan Sieg 11 20 21 Spencer Gallagher (i) 12 11 01 Ryan Preece # 13 12 0 Garrett Smithley # 14 13 78 BJ McLeod # 15 16 15 Travis Kvapil (i) 16 15 52 Joey Gase 17 17 74 Mike Harmon 18 14 90 Todd Peck 19 18 13 Timmy Hill (i) 20 19 93 Josh Wise (i) * Ty Dillon and Justin Allgaier are Dash 4 Cash-eligible for the main race.
John Hunter Nemechek wins wild Atlanta Truck race
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings HAMPTON, Ga. – In a wild race that saw some of the best trucks in the field destroyed before the finish, John Hunter Nemechek held off Cameron Hayley in a two-lap dash to the checkers to win Saturday's Great Clips 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway . But it was a skull session with 2014 Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick the night before that was instrumental in guiding Nemechek to victory in his unsponsored No. 8 Chevrolet. "I've got to give a shout-out," said Nemechek, who was racing at AMS for the first time. "I can't thank Kevin Harvick enough. I went and sat with him for about 30 minutes to an hour last night, trying to learn everything I could." Obviously, the lesson paid off. After extensive cleanup from Christopher Bell 's hard crash into the Turn 4 wall, Nemechek chose the inside line for a restart on Lap 199 of 200. When John Wes Townley spun his tires in the outside lane, Nemechek pulled away to beat Hayley to the stripe by .305 seconds. The victory was Nemechek's second in 32 Truck Series starts and his second on a 1.5-mile intermediate speedway, the first coming last year at Chicagoland Speedway . At 18 years, 8 months and 16 days, Nemechek is the youngest NASCAR national series winner at Atlanta. Before the family-owned team with a shoestring budget could get to Victory Lane, however, attrition took care of the drivers who led the majority of laps leading up to the finish. Two corners after a restart on Lap 112 — following the race's second expiration of the 20-minute caution clock — Bell lost the nose of his No. 4 Toyota, hooked Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Daniel Suarez 's No. 51 Tundra and turned Suarez into race leader Matt Crafton , who had spent 76 circuits at the front of the field. MORE: Caution Clock expires for first time in CWTS " Bell triggers big wreck The trucks of Crafton and Suarez were damaged beyond repair, leaving Bell, who lead 42 of the 130 laps, to grab the top spot after the subsequent restart on Lap 116. Bell pulled away, but on Lap 123, a tire rub resulting from the earlier contact finally popped the right front, and Bell’s Toyota swerved straight into the outside wall in Turn 4. Behind Nemechek and Hayley, Timothy Peters came home third, followed by Daniel Hemric and Grant Enfinger, respectively. Nemechek was circumspect about the circumstances surrounding his conversation with Harvick, but the information he received was clearly valuable. "That's kind of a secret," said Nemechek, who got pit crew help from Jimmie Johnson 's No. 48 Sprint Cup team. "But Kevin's one of the best racers here in Atlanta, so I had to ask him. He's very good at conserving tires, very good at winning races here, so to go and talk to him was very special." Nemechek also got advice from his father and team owner Joe Nemechek , who won a NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Atlanta in 2001. Eighth-place finisher Parker Kligerman took the lead in the series standings by one point over Hemric and three over Nemechek. The afternoon proved expensive for Kyle Busch , who as a driver won the first leg of the Saturday doubleheader in the XFINITY Series race, only to lose three trucks as an owner in the nightcap. In addition to the wrecked trucks of Bell and Suarez, Busch also had to write off the engine of William Byron, which blew on lap 59, with Byron running second.
Chase Elliott wins Daytona 500 pole
RELATED: Full qualifying speeds " From tardy note to Daytona pole winner DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Chase Elliott 's rookie campaign just got a jump-start. Faced with the daunting prospect of succeeding Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, the 20-year-old Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate drove the same chassis to the same result Gordon accomplished last year—the pole position for the Feb. 21 Daytona 500 (on FOX at 1 p.m. ET). In the money round of qualifying for the Great American Race, Elliott toured 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway in 45.845 seconds (196.314 mph), edging Matt Kenseth (196.036 mph) by .065 seconds for the top starting spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series opener. Elliott and Kenseth are the only drivers whose positions for the Daytona 500 are now locked in. The balance of the field will be filled and ordered in Thursday night’s 150-mile Can-Am Duel qualifying races. "I've never qualified on the front row here before, so that certainly takes off some pressure for later in the week," Kenseth said. "This is a very, very cool day," Elliott said after Earnhardt, the last qualifier, failed to knock him off the pole. "I don't know that this opportunity has sunk in yet, much less sitting on the pole for the Daytona 500 . "So this is very cool. I think the big thing is just the team and the Daytona 500 qualifying is about the team guys and the effort they put into these cars and it's nothing special I did. It's really what kind of work they did this offseason to make it happen. "Jeff (Gordon) knows all about that and I just wanted to give a big thanks to NAPA Auto Parts and all of our partners at HMS on this No. 24 car. This is very special and a great way to start the season." Elliott's first Sprint Cup pole was a milestone in many other respects. At 20 years, 2 months and 17 days, he is the youngest-ever winner of a Daytona 500 pole, supplanting Austin Dillon (23 years, 9 months 27 days in 2014). Should Elliott win the race next Sunday, he would displace Trevor Bayne as the youngest winner of the event often referred to as NASCAR's Super Bowl. This was the 10th Daytona 500 pole for Hendrick Motorsports and the third for the No. 24 Chevrolet, with Gordon winning the previous two in 1999 and 2015. Elliott completed the fourth father/son combination to win poles for the 500, joining Richard and Kyle Petty, Bobby and Davey Allison and Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr . In fact, Earnhardt Jr. was fastest in the first round of Sunday's qualifying session, posting a lap at 195.788 mph, but he slipped to third in the final round and will start on the outside of the front row in the first Can-Am Duel. Kyle Busch posted the fourth fastest lap in the final round and will start from the second spot in the second Duel. Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and Jimmie Johnson were fifth and sixth, respectively, in the final round. The qualifying times of the Nos. 4 and 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolets, driven by Kevin Harvick and Brian Vickers , were disallowed after NASCAR discovered track bar infractions during post-qualifying inspection. Those cars will start from the rear in their respective Duels. RELATED: Nos. 4, 14 fail post-Daytona qualifying inspection Ryan Blaney powered the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford to a seventh in Sunday's time trials. As the fastest "open" car (required to qualify on speed), he is locked into the Daytona 500 . Matt DiBenedetto , the second fastest of the open cars (and 24th overall) also is locked into the field. Related: Blaney, DiBenedetto lock up Daytona spots The No. 78 Furniture Row Toyota of Martin Truex Jr . failed to post a time after NASCAR inspectors noticed that one of the roof flaps was out of compliance. The car was on the five-minute clock at the time and the problem could not be corrected in time to make a qualifying run. As a consequence, Truex will start from the rear of the field in the second Can-Am Duel. RELATED: Roof flap keeps Truex parked in qualifying
Johnson: Hendrick will adjust to SHR loss
Stewart-Haas Racing 's blockbuster announcement of its impending move from Chevrolet to Ford in 2017 affects another NASCAR powerhouse -- Hendrick Motorsports . Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is confident team owner Rick Hendrick will make the adjustment in the 10 months between Tuesday's announcement and SHR’s departure from the engine and chassis deal that has been in place since Tony Stewart partnered with Gene Haas in 2009. "It was certainly a shock," Johnson said on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway . "We have contracts in place with Stewart-Haas Racing that Hendrick has to honor and will honor and honor with integrity the way we always do. We have a lot of employees whose jobs count on that and rely on that. "Nothing is different this year. Fortunately, we have a year to figure out if we service some other teams and provide engines and chassis or how we handle it. I know Rick's goal is to keep the staff where it is. That gets me excited, because, if we maintain the staff, I think we'll be able to develop much more cool stuff for our race cars."
Keselowski holds off Kyle Busch, wins at Las Vegas
RELATED: Full results " Standings " Shop Keselowski merchandise LAS VEGAS – Overcoming a pit road speeding penalty with daring late-race strategy, Brad Keselowski broke a 33-race drought with a victory in Sunday's Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Keselowski passed Las Vegas native Kyle Busch with five laps left to win for the first time since the fifth race of 2015 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion beat Team Penske shopmate Joey Logano to the finish line by .675 seconds, as Busch lost ground over the closing laps. Rain delayed the start of the race, and high winds and a late-race dust storm made visibility a challenge, but the bizarre conditions left Keselowski undeterred. Nor did a pit road speeding penalty under caution on Lap 180 prove catastrophic, thanks to a series of astute pit calls by crew chief Paul Wolfe. "This is really, really great," said Keselowski, who lauded the lower-downforce aerodynamic package in place for the 2016 season. "It seemed like there were plenty of challenges, whether it was pit road or the weather or cautions. "They threw everything they had at us today but this Miller Lite Ford team was too strong, and we were able to fight them off and get to Victory Lane.” Relative to the field, Keselowski picked up speed toward the end of a run with a car that was eminently maneuverable. Busch's car took off early but couldn't maintain its pace late in a fuel run. "He (Busch) had a really good short-run car, but it fell off on the long run," Keselowski said. "That's part of this new package. Some are good on short runs and some are good on long runs, and we had a really good long-run car today." Six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson beat Busch to the finish line by .016 seconds to secure third place. Austin Dillon ran fifth, and rookie Ryan Blaney came home sixth, posting a career-best finish on an open-motor race track. The victory was Keselowski's second at Las Vegas and the 18th of his career, but it wouldn't have been possible if Wolfe hadn't elected to keep the No. 2 Ford on the track on Lap 217 when all but Keselowski, Logano and Dillon pitted for tires and fuel under the fifth caution of the race. It took 38 laps, however, for the benefits of the strategy to become apparent — thanks to Busch's remarkable restart on Lap 224. From the sixth position, Busch powered his No. 18 Toyota to the outside of Johnson's Chevrolet, picked up huge momentum off the second corner, dived to the inside and shot past both Logano and Keselowski entering Turn 3. One lap later, a multi-car wreck in Turn 1 ended strong runs by Matt Kenseth and rookie Chase Elliott , but the seven laps run under the resulting sixth and final caution enabled Keselowski, Logano and Dillon to stretch their fuel supplies to the end of the race. Busch streaked away on the Lap 233 restart but developed a pronounced vibration in the right front of this car, and the chase group of Keselowski, Logano and Johnson closed in. Keselowski passed Logano for the second spot on Lap 259 of 267 and steaked past Busch three laps later. "I tried to hold him off as long as I could, but he showed how fast he was getting by me and Kyle and checking out," Logano said after the 1-2 finish. "Congratulations to Team Penske . It's something to be very proud of for our team. "We have a lot of second-place finishes already this year. I know we're only three races in, but I'm getting antsy. We have good speed in our cars — we'll be all right." The call to stay out on Lap 217 proved decisive for the Penske Fords, but the decision to sacrifice track position for four tires on Lap 199 (when most others opted for right sides only), made the strategy possible. "The way I look at it, if you're going to do two tires, you got to get that clean air," Wolfe said. "Otherwise, we'll take four all day long. It gives you opportunities at the end to do some different strategies to get that track position back. "Obviously we knew when the caution fell there, we were still short on fuel. At that point it was worth the risk to take the gamble and hope for the cautions. Obviously, we got those and were able to get to Victory Lane." Busch retained the top spot in the series standings and leads Johnson by six points and seventh-place finisher Kevin Harvick by seven. Logano is fourth, 12 points back.
Busch thrills youth at local Las Vegas high school
PHOTOS: 'Rowdy' takes Las Vegas LAS VEGAS— Kyle Busch returned to his Las Vegas roots on Tuesday afternoon—but not his racing roots. Busch kicked off NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion's Week with a visit to a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) class in room 709 at Clifford J. Lawrence Junior High School on the west side of the city, less than a 20-minute drive from the middle school he attended as a boy, Hyde Park. Champion's Week, NASCAR's annual postseason celebration, brings together the "who's who" of the racing industry, celebrities and fans for a robust schedule of events and appearances by the 16 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup participants. The week culminates with Friday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards, which will be televised by NBCSN (8 p.m. ET). A fast-tracked science and math student in his own formative years, Busch had dreamed of following his childhood hero, Jeff Gordon , into NASCAR racing and ultimately beating his idol for a Sprint Cup Series championship on Nov. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway . As Busch fielded questions from the class, it was clear that both his words and his stature as a series champion sparked keen interest from the young listeners. One boy in particular, named Ronan, appeared to have his sights set on a racing career. "He was pretty excited," Busch said. "He had his camera going, and he was the one who wanted to be the race car driver, and it seemed like he was the most attentive and interested in the conversation we were having." Interestingly, NASCAR had begun exploring the possibility of a school visit by the Sprint Cup champion eight weeks before the season ended, and the STEM class founded and taught by Stacy Schaumburg was chosen for the honor. It was a fortuitous coincidence that the series champion happened to be a Las Vegas native who had grown up in the Clark County School district. Busch was a good student, good enough to graduate from Durango High School a year early. "Mostly As and Bs," Busch said of his academic performance. But he had a strong incentive to crack the books. "Those were the grades I had to make for my mom to let me race," Busch said. If there was pressure on Busch to perform well in school so he could pursue his passion on the race track, the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota said his 2015 championship lifted a huge weight off his shoulders and may make future titles less stressful to achieve. "I was actually pretty surprised by, not necessarily how easy it was, but how I felt through the whole situation, not being too nervous or this or that or other things," Busch said of his drive for the crown. "I've been racing for XFINITY wins or Cup Series wins, and I feel like I've let some slip away because of my internal feeling, maybe and not being able to get the most out of the car. "But this whole experience was far different from any of that. I'm not sure if number two will make me feel nervous or what, but it certainly makes it easier to think, going down the road, that those championships hopefully that we can achieve would be easier."