Hamlin returns to site of Daytona 500 win, eyes sweep
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Since Denny Hamlin first arrived in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full time in 2006 he had an immediate positive relationship with Daytona International Speedway winning his first-ever Budweiser Shootout as a rookie in the days leading up to the season-opening Daytona 500 . Since then, Hamlin has won that event two more times including this February -- just 8 days before he pulled off an amazing last lap pass to claim his maiden Daytona 500 victory in the closest finish in the race's great 58-year history. A win in Saturday's Coke Zero 400 would give Hamlin another unique claim to Daytona fame -- a season sweep of the Sprint Cup events plus a win in the Shootout giving him three victories (including both points races) at the track in a single season. Only Bobby Allison (1982) and Fireball Roberts (1962) have swept both Daytona premier series races and won an exhibition event too. Jimmie Johnson (2013), Cale Yarborough (1968) and LeeRoy Yarbrough (1969) are the other drivers to win both Sprint Cup races in a year. "It was about five years ago that something happened on the restrictor plate race tracks where I just -- it clicked and I got it," Hamlin said Thursday. "I can name a few instances it's really helped me, but I don't want to necessarily say that, but I just feel comfortable. I feel like I know what I'm doing and the results have showed it." The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota hasn't finished worse than sixth in his last five Daytona starts, including a runner-up in the 2014 Daytona 500 and a third place showing in last year's Coke Zero 400 -- a streak of success even better than one of the track's true superstars, Dale Earnhardt Jr . Earnhardt has a pair of Cup race wins during that same five-race span -- including the 2014 Daytona 500 and this race last year -- but finished 36th in this year's Daytona 500 and 14th in this race in 2014. Despite the impressive numbers, Hamlin is well aware that his current success streak is a rare outcome at a restrictor plate track. "Eventually, we're going to get in a wreck," Hamlin allowed with a slight smile. "I think we did at -- yeah, we did at Talladega, but I've just been very fortunate on superspeedways and the bad finishes that I've had it's not because something I feel like I did. It was something that I could caught up in, so I've been fortunate. "It's been a great battle with the 88 ( Dale Earnhardt Jr .) probably the last four years with me and him. There's been a lot of one-two finishes with us and hopefully I'd love to complete the sweep winning the Unlimited, the 500 and the July race. I feel like I gift basket-ed him that dual win on Thursday this year, so I'd like to get him back here in July." A win this weekend would be key not just in Daytona historical context. Other than a fantastic runner-up finish to Tony Stewart on the Sonoma Raceway road course last week, Hamlin hasn't posted the kind of consistently good showings he might have liked. Especially with the way the season began. In the last seven races, Hamlin has three top-10s and three finishes of 30th or worse -- two of those sub-par finishes, a result of crashes. But just looking at Hamlin's face and his demeanor, it's easy to tell he brings an unmistakable confidence to Daytona Beach. And he's earned it honestly. He'll start ninth in the Coke Zero 400 -- surrounded by all his three Joe Gibbs Racing teammates who qualified second ( Carl Edwards ), third ( Kyle Busch ) and seventh ( Matt Kenseth ). Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr ., who Hamlin edged for the Daytona win in February, will start 15th. "Anytime we can work together, I try for sure," Hamlin said of his Toyota teammates. "I don't know that it was a plot to take out one car by any means. I thought we showed a lot of speed with just our cars in practice looking at lap times with what we would run as a group of five. Simple math says what the pack was going to run and I knew that if we could stay in a line and commit to each other, it would be tough for others to pass us. It worked out well. "Legitimately there were five Toyotas out to win on the final lap and that's really all we could have asked for. It was something that was in the works for a long time and it was executed perfectly by our whole organization and it worked out. Obviously any time you are successful like that you try to repeat it, but the competitors have a lot of say in that, so there are others who are going to have issue with what our plan is." "Really this track has been very good to me throughout my career," Hamlin said. "We hope to complete the sweep this weekend."
Elliott plans limited schedule with Phoenix Racing
Bill Elliott will drive in at least 18 Sprint Cup races for Phoenix Racing, starting with the Daytona 500, a team spokesman confirmed Monday. Elliott, 55, has driven a part-time schedule for Wood Brothers Racing the past four years, but the Wood Brothers are working to put together a deal for Trevor Bayne, leaving Elliott to look for another Cup ride. Elliott, the 1988 Cup champion, won the Daytona 500 in 1985 and '87. Phoenix Racing qualified for 28 of the 36 Cup events last year to finish 39th in the owners' standings. Because it did not finish in the top 35 in owners' points, Elliott will need to make the Daytona 500 on speed, through his qualifying race finish or a past champion's provisional. Although Elliott is eligible for the Budweiser Shootout , the team is not currently planning on competing in that event. Elliott started 40th and finished 27th in the 2010 Daytona 500, the first of 12 races he drove with the Wood Brothers last year. His best finish was 15th in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. With 821 career starts, Elliott ranks 15th all time with 44 career victories. His last full-time season was 2003.
Ben Kennedy picks up first career win in Bristol thriller
MORE: Race results " Standings " Chase Grid BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Ben Kennedy took the lead from William Byron with 20 laps to go in Wednesday night's UNOH 200 and later withstood an intense six-lap shootout with Brett Moffitt to earn his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Bristol Motor Speedway . With his triumph in his 63rd career series start, Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR Founder Bill France Sr. and son of Lesa France Kennedy, CEO of International Speedway Corporation and Vice Chairperson of NASCAR, became the first France family member to win a NASCAR national series race. "I can't put it into words," Kennedy said. "Someone asked me earlier today what it's like going to Bristol for your first time, and to win here is just so cool. I'm speechless. The guys gave me an awesome truck. Everyone at GMS Racing, Jacob Companies, the fans in the stands, everybody watching on TV, gosh this is just the coolest day of my life." With two laps to go, Moffitt, driving the No. 11 Toyota Tundra -- the truck piloted earlier this season by Kennedy -- gave the Daytona Beach, Florida, native a shot in the bumper, but Kennedy refused to be rattled and stretched his lead to 0.274 seconds at the checkered flag. "I was just thinking, 'Go as fast as possible on this last lap,' " Kennedy said. "I knew Brett was putting pressure on me from behind. I appreciate him racing me clean. This is just so cool." Moffitt, who earned a career-best second-place finish, didn't have quite enough for Kennedy's No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado when it counted most. RELATED: First NCWTS win still a blur for Kennedy "We had a good truck, a strong truck all day," Moffitt said. "We ran top-five, top-10 most of it. He had just enough to get away from us on that last restart. After that, we got to him once but couldn't get around." Although Bristol has been widely known for its bump-and-run racing, Moffitt, continuing to fill in for the recovering Matt Tifft , said he tried once, but couldn't get to Kennedy to try again. "I'm going to race people the way I want to be raced," he said. "It is Bristol, so if you need to move someone, you got to move them. I just wasn't quite good enough in the center to get to him. He slipped up a few times and I was able to get to his bumper once, but didn't get to him hard enough. I was really waiting for him to make a mistake so I could shove my nose in there, but he executed when he needed to. He hit his marks and I just wasn't able to get to him." With the victory, Kennedy virtually secures a spot in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase with three races remaining in the regular season. "We put this deal together (with GMS Racing) a couple months ago and I never imagined -- I never would have imagined going into this race that we would be here today," Kennedy said. "I thought we were a top-15 truck or a top-10 truck, but to actually be here in Victory Lane means the world to me." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Moffitt on close-but-no-cigar finish: 'It sucks'
RELATED: Race results BRISTOL, Tenn. -- With only a handful of starts on his schedule, Brett Moffitt competes as if every race is a tryout. And in many ways, that's indeed the case. Called into service by Red Horse Racing to fill the seat of the organization's No. 11 Toyota earlier this year, Moffitt responded with a strong performance at Kentucky before an engine issue left him 31st, and Pocono, where he finished third. Earlier this month, Red Horse officials announced Moffitt would return for three more starts -- at Bristol, Michigan and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park . Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway , Moffitt continued to impress with a career-best runner-up finish to first-time race winner Ben Kennedy (GMS Racing) in the UNOH 200 . MORE: Kennedy: 'This is the coolest day of my life' "It's really fun running like this and being super competitive two weeks in a row now," Moffitt, 24, said. "But second place sucks. We're here to win. I'm happy but I'm not. It sucks being that close." Moffitt has Sprint Cup experience, making a handful of starts a year ago with the now-defunct Michael Waltrip Racing group before closing the season behind the wheel of the No. 34 for Front Row Motorsports . His performance was good enough to earn him Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. It wasn't, however, enough to secure him a ride for '16. Until he was called on to drive the No. 11 for Red Horse earlier this year, subbing for Matt Tifft , his NASCAR career was in a holding pattern. While his future remains uncertain -- he said there have been no conversations beyond his next two starts -- Moffitt is hoping his results lead to more opportunities. The team will carry the same truck to Michigan next week that was used at Kentucky and Pocono. "And they actually did some more work to it," he furthered, "so hopefully it's even better. "We're showing really strong, got a third place and a second place here; we just need one more. That would be a good place to win and hopefully at the road course as well." Moffitt had an opportunity at Bristol, restarting second to Kennedy for a six-lap shootout following the ninth and final caution. But Kennedy, who went from third to first with 20 laps remaining, didn't falter with the win on the line. While he closed on Kennedy's bumper, Moffitt said he couldn't get close enough to either make the pass or move the leader out of the way. Both were options he considered. "I'm going to race people the way I want to be raced," he said. "It is Bristol so if you need to move someone, you've got to move them. "I just wasn't quite good enough through the center (of the turn) to get to him. He slipped up a few times and I was able to get to his bumper once but didn't get to him hard enough. I was really waiting for him to make a mistake so I could shove my nose in there but he executed when he needed to and he hit his marks. I just wasn't able to get to him there." Daniel Hemric ( Brad Keselowski Racing), William Byron ( Kyle Busch Motorsports) and Johnny Sauter (GMS) rounded out the top five.
Post-Race Reactions: Budweiser Duel #1
Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne comment on their runs in the the first Budweiser Duel of the night.
Up to Speed: Budweiser Duel
Alan Cavanna recaps the Budweiser Duel at Daytona International Speedway.
Harvick Talks About Winning The First Budweiser Duel at Daytona
Kevin Harvick talks about winning the first Budweiser Duel at the Daytona International Speedway
Final Laps: Follow the yellow brick road
Kurt Busch gets a shove from McMurray and takes the win after controversy over Hamlin's pass.
Defending iRacing champ Humpe claims Kentucky triumph
Kenny Humpe ( The TEAM ) kept his hot streak going at Kentucky Speedway by winning his third NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series race of the 2016 season. The defending series champion led 50 of 167 laps, the most of any driver, in what turned out to be one of the most competitive events of the season thus far. Humpe closed the deal on a three-lap shootout that was punctuated by a caution on the penultimate lap with Humpe well in the clear. Michael Conti ( Team Conti ) finished second for his first top-five finish of the season. Conti was strong from the drop of the green and led 10 laps, flashing some of the speed that made him NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series champion in 2014. Dylan Duval followed Conti across the line in third, just in front of point leaders Ray Alfalla ( Slip Angle Motorsports ) and PJ Stergios ( ineX Racing ). Duval looked to have a car capable of winning the race the last 50 laps, but cautions held him back from challenging for the win; he started 34th. Alfalla looked poised to battle Humpe for the win but contact with Conti under caution with a handful of laps to go damaged the rear of Alfalla's car and dashed any chance he had of keeping up with Humpe on the last restart. The race was one of the more unpredictable of the season, as several drivers looked like they had a legitimate shot to win. Alfalla started on pole and led until pitting under green on Lap 35, where he lost the lead to Conti after the cycle of stops due to Conti pitting a lap earlier for tires. Alfalla methodically reeled him in, using his superior speed on the long run to take the lead back on Lap 55. Alfalla pitted for the second time on Lap 68 and again lost the lead on the exchange -- this time to Justin Bolton and Humpe, along with Conti for a second time. Humpe went to the point on Lap 81 with Alfalla looking to keep pace, but Conti held Alfalla at bay, using the outside lane to keep his momentum off the corners. Alfalla was persistent though, and after four laps of working the bottom lane he cleared Conti, but could not run down Humpe before the leaders hit pit road for a third time. Humpe maintained his lead after stops but a caution shortly after the round of stops changed the outlook of the race. While most of the leaders pitted for fresh tires, nine drivers decided to stay out with their slightly worn tires in hopes that track position would make a difference. Tyler Hudson ( One Up Motorsports ) inherited the race lead as the field took the green flag on Lap 109. Hudson held the lead for the next eight laps before another caution bunched the field and drew everyone to pit road for fresh rubber. Humpe went from 12th to seventh on the run, but now did not have a tire advantage. After a crash on the restart, the race restarted on Lap 126 and Humpe started to make his move back to the front. In 10 laps, Humpe was in third and had his sights set on Hudson in the lead. On Lap 140, Humpe drew alongside Hudson and completed the pass on the outside off Turn 4. Another caution with 17 laps to go could have derailed Humpe's chances, but a solid final pit stop and two stellar restarts let him hold the lead uncontested to the checkered flag. Alfalla's fourth-place result combined with Stergios' fifth-place effort saw Alfalla build his championship lead slightly. His margin over Stergios is 13 points, with Humpe a distant third, 78 points back. Teammates Jake Stergios and Chris Overland hold fourth and fifth, 91 and 96 points adrift, respectively. After four-straight races on 1.5 mile tracks, the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series shifts gears for Week 11 as the SIM racing series visits the Indianapolis Motor Speedway . Overtaking at the one-groove IMS is notoriously difficult; thus, qualifying is more important than usual. Alfalla's average start of seventh makes him the clear favorite, but a dark horse could be Cody Byus, whose eighth-place average starting position is second-best in the series. Can Humpe or Stergios topple Alfalla, or will the two-time champ cross the yard of bricks for his second victory of 2016? Find out in two weeks on iRacingLive !
NASCAR TV schedule: July 25-Aug. 1
RELATED: Find NBCSN in your area All times ET Monday, July 25 6 a.m., WeatherTech SportsCar Championship: Lime Rock (re-air), FS1 7 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lap (re-air), NBCSN 8 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lap (re-air), NBCSN 9 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lane (re-air), FS1 Noon, NASCAR Victory Lap (re-air), NBCSN 3 p.m., NASCAR 120, NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 6 p.m., NASCAR America, NBCSN Tuesday, July 26 7 a.m., NASCAR The List: Dale Earnhardt St. Moments (re-air), NBCSN 7:30 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 8 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 5:30 p.m., NASCAR The List: Daytona Memories (re-air), NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR America, NBCSN 7 p.m., NASCAR Whelen Series: All-Star Shootout , New Hampshire (taped), NBCSN 7:30 p.m., NASCAR The List: Dale Earnhardt Sr. Memories (re-air), NBCSN Wednesday, July 27 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 8 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR RaceHub, FS1 5 p.m., NASCAR The List: Greatest Finishes (re-air), NBCSN 5:30 p.m., NASCAR The List: Memorable Moments (re-air), NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR America, NBCSN Thursday, July 28 7:30 a.m., WeatherTech SportsCar Championship: Lime Rock (re-air), FS1 5 p.m., NASCAR RaceHub, FS1 6 p.m., NASCAR America, NBCSN Friday, July 29 11 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, NBCSN 12:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice, FS1 3 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1 4 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, NBC Sports App 5:30 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series practice (re-air), NBCSN 7 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice, NBCSN 8:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice (re-air), NBCSN 10 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying (re-air), NBCSN Saturday, July 30 9 a.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 10:30 a.m., NASCAR Whelen Series: All-Star Shootout , New Hampshire (re-air), NBCSN 11 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, NBCSN 12:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series SetUp, FS1 1 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 , FS1 2:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Post-Race, FS1 4 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying (re-air), NBCSN 7:30 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Countdown, NBCSN 8 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series U.S. Cellular 250, NBCSN 11 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 (re-air), FS1 Sunday, July 31 6:30 a.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 (re-air), FS2 9 a.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 (re-air), FS1 10:30 a.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FS1 10:30 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying (re-air), NBCSN Noon, Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge: Lime Rock Park (taped), FS1 Noon, NASCAR America Sunday, NBCSN 1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Countdown, NBCSN 1:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400, NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Post-Race Show, NBCSN 9 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1 11 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN Monday, August 1 10:30 a.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Countdown, NBCSN 12:07:00 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Series Pennsylvania 400, NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;nbsp;