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Ben-Hur's Jack Huston to drive pace car at The Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (July 29, 2016) -- Jack Huston, star of the upcoming epic action adventure "BEN-HUR" from Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, will drive a 2016 Toyota Camry pace car to kick off the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It™ 355 at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, August 7. This will be Huston’s first time serving as an Official Pace Car drive at a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. He will also be recognized during pre-race ceremonies and will greet each NASCAR driver on stage during driver introductions. "I am excited to join NASCAR and get behind the wheel of today’s modern chariot," said Huston. "BEN-HUR" is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves (Nazanin Boniadi), Judah is forced into slavery. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption. Based on Lew Wallace's timeless novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The film also stars Rodrigo Santoro, Nazanin Boniadi, Ayelet Zurer, Pilou Asbaek, Sofia Black D’Elia and Morgan Freeman. Timur Bekmambetov directed the film from a screenplay by Keith Clarke and John Ridley. Sean Daniel, Joni Levin, and Duncan Henderson served as producers, with Mark Burnett, Roma Downey, Keith Clarke, John Ridley, and Jason F. Brown serving as executive producers. "BEN-HUR" will be released in theaters on August 19, 2016. Huston previously starred for four seasons in HBO's hit series, Boardwalk Empire, as the sniper with the horribly disfigured face, 'Richard Harrow.' In 2013, Huston appeared in the critically acclaimed and award-winning film American Hustle, where he played mobster 'Pete Musane.' Additionally, he starred as 'Young Ira' in George Tillman Jr.'s film adaption of the Nicholas Sparks novel, The Longest Ride. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Watkins Glen International August 4-7 for the Cheez-It™ 355 race weekend, which also features the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Bully Hill Vineyards 100, and the NASCAR XFINITY Series Zippo 200 at The Glen. Tickets for all of the action are available by calling 1-866-461-RACE or by logging on to www.theglen.com . Fans can also watch the Cheez-It™ 355 live on USA at 2:30 p.m. ET or listen on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Located within five (5) hours (~300 miles) of 25 percent of the US population, Watkins Glen International is the premier road racing facility in North America, voted "Best NASCAR Track" by readers of USA Today. Keep up with The Glen on Facebook and Twitter. For tickets, call 866-461-RACE or visit www.theglen.com.
Almirola reflects on career, heritage as he makes 200th start
Aric Almirola insists he was absolutely prepared to climb into his No. 43 Smithfield Ford this Sunday for the Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway completely focused on nothing other than scoring a victory and working toward earning a position in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. But his public relations team brought up an important milestone that even he conceded was definitely worth noting, if not celebrating. This Sunday's race marks the 32-year old Almirola's 200th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start -- a significant measure of his staying power and a testament to how far he's come. Literally. He is the son of a Cuban immigrant on his dad's side of the family and the grandson of one of Florida's most celebrated and accomplished racers -- Sam Rodriguez -- on his mom's side. That has created a unique background dynamic that gives Almirola motivation and pride. And makes this weekend a heartfelt measure of success. "I think here I am and my dad came over from Cuba and 50 years later I'm making my 200th start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Richard Petty," Almirola said. "It's so crazy to me, what living in this country affords you and allows you to be able to do, and my grandparents made that decision to come over here and take this chance." The sheer number of starts represents a mark of opportunity for Almirola. Making it into NASCAR's big league was always the harder path, the road less travelled. But he has made it. And that's only the beginning. "I don't think anybody dreams about running two hundred races, they dream about 'a' race," Almirola said. "So as a kid I dreamed about driving 'a' Cup car, running 'a' race. So, now the fact I've had the opportunity to do it two hundred times, when you realize that, and the marketing department brings to your attention that, 'Hey, Pocono is going to be your 200th start,' it really makes you kind of reflect on everything that's led up to this. "From being a kid racing go-karts all the way up to all the opportunities I've had. I realize by reflecting on all that stuff how fortunate and blessed I am." The thing is, Almirola could have just as easily been a star baseball player as a winning NASCAR driver. His native city of Tampa, Florida is a ballplayer's town. It produced Wade Boggs and Lou Piniella. Both Dwight Gooden and Gary Sheffield graduated from Almirola's Hillsborough High School. A calendar year in this part of the country has traditionally been delineated by baseball and football seasons. That just makes Almirola's success climbing the NASCAR ranks even more impressive. "I was in somewhat of a hot bed there for athletes," Almirola said smiling. "But I had a really strong passion for racing and I know that made me somewhat of an outsider at school growing up. When friends would ask, 'Hey what are you doing this weekend?' I'd say, I was going racing. "That kind of separated me from a lot of kids at school -- not in a bad way, I wasn't an outcast in a negative way, but I didn't have as close a relationship with kids at school because I didn't go parties at their house Friday night after football games. I was always working on my race cars or go-karts and racing on the weekends. "I wasn't looking for something to do on the weekend. I already had it." "I was always going to be a NASCAR guy. My grandfather raced sprint cars, so obviously the open wheel path was there, too. He'd race at East Bay every Saturday night and occasionally travel around the country going to races. But every Sunday it was normal, to get up, eat breakfast, hang around the house and then watch the Cup race. That was routine around my parents and my grandparents. We love NASCAR." The result for Almirola has been a starring role driving his sport's most iconic car -- the No. 43 -- for the sport's biggest legend, Petty. NASCAR's crown jewel, Daytona International Speedway, is also Almirola's "home track" and fittingly the venue he won his first Sprint Cup Series race in 2014, the Coke Zero 400 -- exactly 30 years after his boss Petty scored his historic 200th victory at the track. Consider this: Petty's win total would be equivalent to Almirola winning every start he's made. RELATED: Almirola's Darlington scheme honors Petty " Darlington schemes Though that remains the only Cup victory so far for Almirola, it was enough to propel him into the 2014 Chase and make him only more eager to return. His team's best finish this year is a 12th-place in the season-opening Daytona 500. He's had four top-15 showings -- three in the season's opening four races. He ranks 25th in points entering Pocono, hopeful to score a win in one of the remaining six races to set the 16-driver Chase field. "I think the reality is we have struggled this season and you can tell by watching the race and looking at our results," Almirola said. "This year has been a struggle and we can't really put our finger on what's wrong. People often ask what's wrong and it sounds like a smart-aleck answer, but if I knew, we'd fix it. "There are a couple places looking ahead that have been strong for us. Bristol comes to top of mind. We had a chance to win there a couple years ago battling with Carl Edwards. And then there's (regular season finale) Richmond. Last year we went there kinda do or die to make the Chase and finished fourth, but had a really strong car and a legitimate chance to win that race, too. Those are kind of top of mind to me where we might go in and get a win." Listening to Almirola reflect on his first 200 races, there is both a fond memory of what it took to get to this point and a distinct urgency in his voice to succeed in a way worthy of the hard work already put in. "Making my 200th start really forces me to reflect and when I do that and think about doing it for Richard Petty, who is very much an American icon. And I can't help but reflect on my family, which has done so much and sacrificed so much to get me where I'm at," Almirola said. "It really is amazing."
Full schedule for New Hampshire
RELATED: Find NBCSN in your area " Watch live online at NBCSports.com The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series will gather for a doubleheader weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this week. Check out the full weekend schedule below. Note: All times are ET SUNDAY, JULY 17: PRE-RACE SCHEDULE 11:30:00 a.m.: NSCS Driver/Crew Chief Meeting (NXS Garage) 12:55:00 p.m.: NSCS Drivers Introductions with NASCAR Special Awards 1:23:15 p.m.: Canadian National Anthem by: Kirk Young, Tilton, NH Resident 1:25:00 p.m.: Moment of Silence 1:25:15 p.m.: Presentation of Colors by: Combined Services Color Guard 1:25:35 p.m.: Invocation by: Joshua Johnson 1:26:15 p.m.: National Anthem: Caroline Burns, NBC's The Voice Contestant 1:32:15 p.m.: "Drivers, Start Your Engines" by: New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan 1:39:45 p.m.: Start of the New Hampshire 301 (301 laps, 318.46 miles) ON TRACK -- 1:30 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series New Hampshire 301 (301 laps, 318.46 miles), NBCSN ( Results ) PRESS CONFERENCE ( Watch live ) -- 4:30 p.m. (approx.): Post-NSCS race DAILY ROUNDUP -- Bowman keeps missing Dale's call -- NASCAR offers review of pit-road rule -- Report: Lorenzen joins brain pledge -- Bowman gains confidence behind wheel of No. 88 -- Kenseth surges late for New Hampshire win -- Ky. Busch, Edwards sew up Chase berths -- Kenseth's No. 20 Toyota fails post-race inspection -- Stewart proves what 'Smoke will rise' means FRIDAY, JULY 15: -- 11:30 a.m.-12:55 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series first practice, NBCSN ( Results ) -- 1-1:55 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series first practice, NBCSN ( Results ) -- 3-4:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series second practice, NBCSN ( Results ) -- 4:45 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN ( Results ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 9:30 a.m.: Hendrick Motorsports general manager Doug Duchardt, Sprint Cup Series No. 88 crew chief Greg Ives and driver Alex Bowman (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) -- 10:15 a.m.: Ty Dillon -- 10:30 a.m.: Ryan Newman -- 10:45 a.m.: Kyle Busch -- 1 p.m.: Carl Edwards -- 1:20 p.m.: Kyle Larson -- 1:50 p.m.: Joey Logano -- 6 p.m. (approx.): Brad Keselowski , Post-NSCS qualifying GARAGECAM ( Watch live ) -- 11 a.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series -- 2:30 p.m: NASCAR XFINITY Series DAILY ROUNDUP -- Dale Jr. to miss New Hampshire race, Bowman filling in -- Reaction to Junior's concussion news -- What drivers are saying about Dale Jr. missing race -- Gordon to drive No. 88 at Indy if Junior can't -- Chase clinching scenarios for New Hampshire -- See Bowman in the No. 88 Chevrolet -- Bowman looks to make most of opportunity -- Junior's health news unexpected, Hendrick official says -- Truex fastest in Friday's first practice -- At-track photos from Friday at New Hampshire SATURDAY, JULY 16: -- 10-10:55 a.m: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series second practice, CNBC ( Results ) -- 11:15 a.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, CNBC (NBCSN will pick up coverage at noon ET) ( Results ) -- 12:30-1:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, NBCSN ( Results ) -- 4 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series AutoLotto 200 ( 200 laps, 211.6 miles), NBCSN ( Results ) PRESS CONFERENCE ( Watch live ) -- 6 p.m. (approx.): Post-NXS race DAILY ROUNDUP -- Cain: Junior's decision to sit out is absolutely right -- Elliott, Edwards top Saturday practices -- What was the secret to Jimmie's pole-winning run? -- At-track photos from New Hampshire -- Ky. Busch wins XFINITY race at New Hampshire -- Dillon calls wreck by Bowman 'on purpose' -- Watch Busch hold off Jones in final laps &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;lt;/p&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;gt;
Kyle Busch dominates New Hampshire to snag sixth win of 2016
RELATED: Results " Standings LOUDON, N.H. -- Another NASCAR XFINITY Series race, another set of milestones for Kyle Busch. Leading 190 of 200 laps in Saturday's AutoLotto 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Busch held off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones in the closing laps to claim his 82nd career victory, extending his own series record. In the process, Busch raised his total of XFINITY laps led to 17,064, once again extending his own record. Busch won for the fifth time in 11 races at the Magic Mile and the sixth time in 10 starts this season. "I guess they're big numbers," said Busch, who ran the entire race on one set of left-side tires and arrived at the finish line 1.499 seconds ahead of Jones, who had taken four tires on his final pit stop under caution on Lap 178. "I really don't know what big numbers are, and records are made to be broken. "There may be somebody like me that comes along down the road that does the same thing that I've been fortunate enough to do … Running in this series is something fun for me to do, cool for me to do, and it also helps me out and gets me a little more experience." Brad Keselowski ran third but didn't have an answer for the top two JGR cars. Daniel Suarez came home fourth, followed by Austin Dillon . "We had a decent day," Keselowski said. "A little better than where we have been, which was something to be proud of, but of course we want to get to Victory Lane with the (No. 22 Team Penske) Ford. We aren't quite there, but we'll keep pushing. "That was a step in the right direction overall for sure." Busch may have been dominant up front, but there were compelling subplots behind him, the most noteworthy between Ty Dillon and Alex Bowman . Bowman, who will sub for ailing Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, turned left into Dillon's No. 3 Chevrolet off Turn 2 on Lap 76, sending Dillon's car into the outside wall. Dillon was convinced Bowman wrecked him on purpose. Bowman asserted his car was forced wide, and the contact was unintentional. Dillon returned to action 55 laps down after repairs in the garage and twice tried to impede Bowman's progress on the track. "He tried to wreck me about four times after (the accident)," Bowman said after the race. "I don't blame him for being upset. He has every right to be upset… "He drove me way up the race track (right before the contact). He obviously got tight underneath me. I had a ton of wheel in it, and it finally caught. I barely came off the wall. You come off the wall six inches and you tag somebody in the right rear. I hate that for the 3 car, but I definitely didn't do it intentionally. He can think what he wants." Bowman was able to continue despite damage to the left front of his No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet and posted an eighth-place finish. Dillon, on the other hand, was scored 33rd and held third place in the XFINITY standings but fell to 48 points behind Suarez, who also expanded his series lead to 15 points over second-place Elliott Sadler , who ran 10th on Saturday.
Like with his beloved drums, Bubba seeks proper rhythm
RELATED: Race Center for AutoLotto 200 There's a cadence to a lap at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Gas, lift, brake, turn the wheel. Gas, lift, brake, turn the wheel. Gas, lift, brake, turn the wheel. The best drivers do each of those things in the same place at the same time on every lap, a mad-dash meets a metronome at more than 100 mph. Because it has short straightaways, tight corners and little banking, New Hampshire demands mistake-free rhythm, and the drivers who succeed at Loudon coax all four of their limbs to work in concert from the green flag until the checkered. NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr . has found a unique way off the track to fine-tune his rhythm on the track: He plays the drums. "My mom says I was beating on pots and pans since I was 2 years old. So I guess I had something for it," he says. RELATED: Growing NASCAR one tweet at a time He got his first drum set when he was 11 or 12, and he played the bass drum in the seventh and eighth grade band. He gave the instrument up for a while, and then last year, when he bought a house, he bought a new kit. Since then, he says, he has practiced the drums daily, often for two hours at a time. "The drums help with hand-eye coordination," he says, which next to patience is the most important attribute a driver needs. "You're doing something different with each arm and each leg on your body. It's something to keep a good rhythm with -- which is what you need. You need a good rhythm with hitting your marks every time. I think that helps out a lot." New Hampshire, site of this weekend's AutoLotto 200 , requires more rhythm and timing than most tracks. ( AutoLotto , a new mobile application that allows users to play the Powerball from their smartphones, is also the sponsor on Wallace's No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang.) Intermediate tracks with wide surfaces and ample banking, like Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway , allow drivers to move up and down the race track searching for the fastest line. At the restrictor-plate tracks of Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway , the draft means no two laps are ever exactly the same. The difference between places like that and places like New Hampshire is the difference between a jam session and a recording session, the difference between going with the flow and being precise. At New Hampshire, if drivers miss the beat, even by a fraction of a second, it could mean the difference between getting booed off stage and being hailed for an encore. "That place is pretty tough if you can't get around there," Wallace says "You've got to be able to learn how the car will handle under heavy braking. You've got to have a lot of patience through the center of the corner, letting the car rotate and turn. You've got to have good forward drive off the corner. You can't spin the tires coming off the corner. So it's all about rhythm -- where your lifting points are, where your marks are." The way Wallace prepares to play a song is similar to the way he prepares to race at a track. He listens to the song, and if there is video available, he watches that. Before the New Hampshire race, he plans to watch last year's TV coverage and whatever in-car cameras he can find, including his own, which he will examine to see where on the track he was fast and where he wasn't. For other drivers, he will watch the steering wheel/attitude of the car and listen to the throttle for clues about when and where they hit their marks. "It's a quick process leading up to the point to play (a song), but then it's going back and recording yourselves thousands of times going back and watching where you're messing up," he says. "It takes time, and it takes patience. There's a lot of tough parts about a certain race track. There's a lot of tough parts about learning a song." MORE: Blaney-Wallace the next death metal duo?
Dillon on Bowman: 'He wrecked me on purpose'
RELATED: Best at-track photos Saturday at New Hampshire LOUDON, N.H. -- Alex Bowman gained a lot of new fans this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway -- but he may have earned an on-track enemy, as well. Bowman, the 23-year-old tapped to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. (concussion-like symptoms) in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series New Hampshire 301 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), got into an on-track incident with full-time XFINITY Series driver Ty Dillon shortly before the midway point in Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series Auto Lotto 200 race. The No. 88 JR Motorsports driver appeared to clip the right rear of Dillon's No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet on the straightaway, sending the title hopeful into the outside wall and out of race contention. Bowman indicated over his team radio that it was not intentional and that his Camaro was battling tight handling, but Dillon wasn't buying it. "Just watching the replay, he wrecked me on purpose," Dillon said in the garage as his No. 3 crew worked to repair his ride. " ... You can ask everybody that was around the 88 today. I'm sure after the race they'll say that he was the toughest one to pass for whatever reason. " ... He felt like he needed to turn me down the straightaway. Obviously I'm not very happy. I'll just try and be the cooler head right now because I'm glad he's still out there on the track and not here (in the garage) with me." Bowman maintained after the race that while he "wasn't really thrilled with how (Dillon) drove (him) prior to the wreck" that "it wasn't, by any means, intentional," but he'll probably wait a bit to offer a face-to-face apology to Dillon. "I'll talk to him, probably let him cool down a little bit," said Bowman, set for his first Sprint Cup Series start of the season on Sunday. "Kid tried to wreck me like four times but he couldn't get it done after that. Probably let him calm down without it turning into just him yelling at me. That's probably what he's going to do. That's probably what I'd do, too. I'd be upset, too. He has every right to be upset. " ... He'll get over it someday." Dillon was able to get back out on the track after the midway mark, but came out more than 50 laps off the pace. He finished 33rd. The championship hopeful came into the race 19 points behind leader Daniel Suarez, in third place. That gap widened to 48 points, just six ahead of second-place finisher Erik Jones . "Pretty upset right now. It's not how you race," Dillon said. "You don't turn me when we're going down the straightaway. I don't know what to say, because I don't have anything good to say, except for I'm glad he's not around right now. "Seemed like (his car) turned pretty good down the straightaway when I was passed him, so maybe he needs to figure out what loose and tight mean. Maybe I can explain it to him."
Late miscues cost Truex, Harvick at Kentucky
RELATED: Full Kentucky race results SPARTA, Ky. -- It was the Kevin Harvick - Martin Truex Jr. show for approximately 200 laps on Saturday at Kentucky Speedway as the pair battled back-and-forth inside the top two until a couple of unrelated miscues stole their limelight. Misfortune began first for Martin Truex Jr. after Landon Cassill brought out the night's 11th and final yellow flag on Lap 195 -- matching Kentucky's caution record. During the cycle of pit stops that followed, Truex was penalized for passing on pit road entry, forcing him to line up 22nd for the Lap 200 restart. "Everybody does it," a visibly disappointed Truex said on pit road. "I've had people pass me the same way at Bristol and Martinsville. They'll drive right by you through the pit. Everybody does it, so I don't know why all of a sudden they're making an example out of me. "It's frustrating when you don't win. I feel like I've had a lot not go the right way the last couple years, especially. It is what it is. We'll move on." The Furniture Row Racing wheelman entered pit road second, behind Harvick, and won the race off pit road before receiving the infraction. Harvick's downfall came during the same restart where he lined up first and quickly fell to third as eventual race winner Brad Keselowski took first and Joe Gibbs Racing's Matt Kenseth went around him for second. At the time, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver told his crew, "I'm just trying not to wreck it's so loose." As the Quaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto Parts hit its waning laps, Harvick was then forced to pit with 16 laps to go. "We just had to put left-side tires on there," the 2014 Sprint Cup champion explained. "(We) couldn't put rights on and then the car went away really bad. That was really kind of the straw that broke the camel's back. "All in all it just came down to fuel mileage and we couldn't make it till the end and some guys could and that's just part of it." Following Harvick's lead, Truex pitted -- for right-side tires and fuel -- with 10 laps to go. Truex had bounced back from 22nd to climb inside the top three before pitting. Harvick and Truex collectively led the Quaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto Parts for 174 laps in the 267-lap event, but walked away ninth and 10th, respectively, with the SHR driver leading the series in points. Truex, meanwhile, is seventh in points.
Kyle Busch wins at Kentucky in overtime finish
RELATED: Results " Standings SPARTA, Ky. – It was a race Kyle Busch won with a dramatic run around the outside lane at Kentucky Speedway. It was a race Erik Jones lost when he hit the wrong switch on his dashboard, killed the engine and slowed under caution late in the race. But, interestingly, it was a race where Jones showed Busch, the pole winner, the key to victory, demonstrating to his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate that the outside line was viable when racing side-by-side with an opponent. Clearing Austin Dillon off Turn 4 in the first lap in overtime in Friday night’s Alsco 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race, after caution slowed the race for the fifth time, Busch pulled away to beat the Richard Childress Racing scion to the finish line by .455 seconds. Daniel Suarez finished third after chasing Busch to the final yellow flag, then losing the runner-up spot to Dillon on the last restart. Jones came home a disappointing fourth after outdueling Busch for the lead on Lap 175, only to give it up when his car wouldn’t refire under caution and failed to keep up with the pace car, costing Jones two positions. Busch led 185 of the 201 laps in winning for the fifth time in nine starts this season, the second time at Kentucky and the 81st time in his career, extending his own series record. But it was the run around the outside lane, after Dillon pulled even on the backstretch on lap 200 , that proved decisive. And that’s exactly how Jones had passed Busch for the lead on Lap 175. “I didn’t think he’d be able to hold it through (Turns) 3 and 4 like that,” said Dillon, who thought he had the preferred position on the inside. “But he did a great job of holding me down. I wish we could have got it done for (sponsor) Rheem, but it was a really close race.” Busch was roughly a half-second ahead of Suarez and appeared to have the race in hand when caution flew on Lap 195 with smoke billowing from Mike Harmon ’s car. “We always get the Kyle Busch cautions,” Busch said. “Apparently this time it was true. There was some problems with another car smoking. You always have to make your money’s worth, I guess. Always have to give the show to the fans and their money’s worth. “Certainly means a lot to us to win here and bring our Camry home to Victory Lane again at Kentucky Speedway.” Jones said he hit the wrong button when he was rolling under caution and fell behind the pace car, allowing Busch to pass him. NASCAR rules require a driver to maintain pace car speed in order to keep his or her running position. “I think we had the fastest car here once we got out front,” Jones lamented. “It’s just hard to get back up to the front when you get back in traffic.” But before he fell back, Jones had already given Busch the road map to victory. “When Erik drove into Turn 3 with me, I started to roll out just a little bit, because I knew I needed to in order to run the bottom,” Busch said. “And he drove right on past me, and I was like, ‘Well, all righty then.’ “I was waiting for him to slip and to not be able to control his car in the black, in the rubber. And it stuck for him and he made it work. I definitely learned that there was a little bit of speed up there, at least for one lap, for one corner.” And that one corner made all the difference on Friday night.
RECAP: Rowdy reigns supreme at the 'Magic Mile'
NASCAR.com's Costner Merrifield recaps the AutoLotto 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as Alex Bowman and Ty Dillon tussle, Bubba bounces back from a wreck, and Kyle Busch claims his 82nd NASCAR Xfinity Series victory.
The Rundown: Kentucky driver grades
Breaking down the full field for the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway: 1. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. Keselowski won on pure speed last week at Daytona and did the opposite Saturday night, stretching his last tank of fuel for 71 laps. Wonder what he's going to do next week at Loudon, where he finished second last July? Grade: A+ 2. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards almost won the fuel-mileage game. Instead he finished in the top five for the seventh time this season, equaling his top fives in each of the past two seasons -- with half a season to go. Grade: A 3. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman snagged his first top five since last September at Chicagoland. Equally important, he moved up two spots to 12th in the standings and is now 40 points ahead of 17th-place Kasey Kahne . Grade: A 4. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. What a night for Busch. He had to start in the rear of the field because he was in a backup car and navigated his way to his 14th consecutive top 10 at a 1.5-mile track. It also gave him top-five finishes at every Cup track. Impressive. Grade: A 5. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Big night for Stewart, too. Besides scoring a top five in his 600th start, he just missed the big wreck on Lap 93 and caught a big break when his three nearest competitors for 30th in the standings all wrecked and had DNFs. Stewart is still 30th, but he's now 31 points to the good, a pickup of a whopping 28 points. Grade: A 6. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Biffle told NBC Sports before the race his team was an 11th- to 16th-place team and needed to figure out how to get better. That didn't take long. He has consecutive top 10s for the first time in nearly two years. Grade: A 7. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. The top 10 moved McMurray up a spot in the standings to 15th, 16 points ahead of Kasey Kahne in 17th. Grade: A 8. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth's fuel didn't stretch as far as Brad Keselowski 's, but he contributed to the excitement at the end. Grade: A 9. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick overshot his pit box on his final pit stop (under green) with 16 laps to go, but as it turned out, it only cost him a higher finish. He led a race-high 128 laps. Grade: A 10. Martin Truex Jr. , No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing. Truex was penalized for passing on entry to pit road and restarted 23rd on Lap 200 -- after he was first off pit road for the race's final restart. He wasn't happy. "Say what? I do that every week," he said when told of the penalty. He flew through the field and moved into the top five, but despite having packed his tank with fuel two laps after the leaders, he had to pit with 10 to go. What was unfortunate for Truex made for great theater. His blitz through the field was awesome. Grade: A- 11. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Bayne just avoided the big wreck on Lap 93 and moved back into the top 16 (16th) for the second time this season. Grade: B+ 12. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch ran among the leaders all night -- his average running position was 6.4 -- he just didn't have a finish that reflected it. Grade: B 13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Jimmie Johnson spun right in front of Earnhardt on Lap 32, and Junior emerged unscathed. Then he just missed getting collected in the big wreck on Lap 93. Considering what could have been, a top 15 wasn't bad. Grade: B 14. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne moved up a spot in the standings to 17th, but Trevor Bayne (16th) finished three spots better Saturday night. Inconsequential? Kahne missed the Chase last year by 16 points. Grade: B 15. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin finished a very quiet 15th. In the first six races on 1.5-mile tracks, Hamlin has one top 10 (fourth at Charlotte) and a 17.2 average finish. Five of the 10 Chase races are on 1.5-mile tracks. Grade: B 16. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Dillon dropped two spots in the standings to 14th but has a 37-point cushion on 17th-place Kasey Kahne . Grade: B 17. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Danica drove through the big wreck on Lap 93 and later just avoided getting hit by Clint Bowyer when he got loose to bring out the ninth caution -- which made Patrick the beneficiary. She parlayed those events into her third-best finish of the season. Grade B 18. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Obscure fact of the night: In the 18th race of the season, Menard finished 18th for the fourth time in 2016. Grade: C 19. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. Larson ran among the leaders early, but his car became very loose late and then fuel mileage took care of the rest. It was his worst finish since Kansas, two months ago. Grade: C 20. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. The No. 43 team tried a little pit strategy, but the result was the same -- another mediocre finish. Almirola is one of eight drivers to start all 18 races who has yet to finish in the top 10. Grade: C 21. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Whitt squirted though the big wreck on Lap 93 and was rewarded with his third-best finish of the season. Grade: B 22. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Ragan was right there with Cole Whitt in avoiding the Lap 93 mess. Later he escaped being collected when Clint Bowyer got loose. Grade: B- 23. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Speaking of Bowyer … he was running 26th, one lap down, when the air was taken off his car and he got loose, bringing out the ninth caution. He finished two laps back. Grade: C 24. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsport Group. Wise posted his best finish of the season. In fact, his best three finishes of the season have come in his past four starts. Grade: B+ 25. Ty Dillon , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport-Leavine Family. Dillon was collected in the night's biggest wreck but sustained minimal damage after having nowhere to go and running into the back of AJ Allmendinger. The result: Dillon keeps his RAF streak alive. He's 15-for-15 in Cup races. Grade: B 26. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Annett followed up a season-best 20th at Daytona with his second-best finish of 2016. Grade: B 27. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Something must be in the water. Sorenson does the same as Annett. Sorenson finished 22nd at Daytona. Grade: B 28. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, GO FAS Racing. Hats off to Earnhardt, who posted the best finish of his Cup career (12 starts). Grade: B+ 29. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Moments after making a great save, Cassill was running 19th when he hit the outside wall on Lap 194 to bring out the final caution. Ruined a pretty good night. Grade: C 30. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Mears went to the garage on Lap 29 with a brake issue. He returned to the track and finished 21 laps back. Grade: D 31. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott was on the outside of a three-wide after the restart on Lap 88 when Ryan Blaney got loose and collected the No. 24, causing extensive damage. That's two wrecks in two weeks. Grade: C- 32. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson lost the car on Lap 32 and slapped the wall, forcing him into the garage for repairs. Johnson returned to log 208 laps but still suffered his third DNF because of crashes in the past five races. Grade: F 33. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Scott set off the biggest wreck in the race when he got loose on Lap 93, saved the car but was hit from behind by Kyle Larson . Scott swooped wide but turned back to the middle of the track, right in front of Chris Buescher who T-boned him. It was Scott's third DNF for crashes in the past four races Grade: F 34. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Smith's night ended in an instant on Lap 152 when he crashed hard into the outside wall. Smith put his night into perspective on Twitter after the race: "Kentucky... I love your people, whiskey, horses, hell basically ur whole state. Your racetrack though, we're gonna have to work on that." Note to Regan: In Kentucky, it's bourbon. Grade: F 35. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney's night began to go south during the fifth caution when he was leaving his pit stall as Cole Witt was entering his. They made contact, and Blaney's car suffered damage to the right front. He still restarted fifth on Lap 88, but moments later he was in the middle of a three-wide, got loose and collected Chase Elliott on the way to hitting the wall. Blaney lost three spots in the standings to 18th. Grade: F 36. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger got caught up in the Lap 93 wreck, running into the back of Chris Buescher . Allmendinger was 68 laps down when he returned to the track, but he crashed hard, ending his night and injuring his thumb. He was 16 points below the Chase cut line coming into the race. He's 31 back now. Grade: D 37. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Buescher was in the wrong place at the wrong time. His night was showing promise when his car was destroyed on impact with Brian Scott . Grade: C- 38. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. DiBenedetto was running 29th when he hit the wall, bringing out the fifth caution and ending his night. Grade: F 39. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. Logano got loose on Lap 42 and hit the wall, damaging the right-rear quarter panel and deck lid. On Lap 54 he hit it even harder, ending his night. Logano was one of a number of drivers with brake and tire issues. Grade: F 40. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse completed all of nine laps before he smacked the wall twice. His Chase hopes also took a big hit; he went from 17 points behind 16th to 40. Stenhouse tweeted the culprit was his mishandling of low downforce. He had plenty of company Saturday. Grade: F