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Hemric looks to overcome early Chase setback
RELATED: Truck Chase Grid Daniel Hemric clinched his spot in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase playoffs with remarkable consistency and a sizable nest egg of points. Now facing a significant deficit after a perilous postseason opener, stockpiling points may not be enough to keep his championship hopes intact. Hemric enters Saturday night's DC Solar 350 (8:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a much firmer focus on scoring his first victory of the season. "At the end of the day, this deal rewards winning," Hemric said last weekend after finishing a season-worst 28th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . "Yeah, we did it the other way to get here, but I don't know if with the day we had here, we'll be able to salvage it on just points. We've got to go win." The 25-year-old driver for Brad Keselowski Racing spun early in last Saturday's Chase opener, saying he believed he ran over a piece of debris that punctured his left-rear tire. The spent rubber became entangled in the brake assembly, triggering a small flash fire on pit road and eventually forcing his No. 19 Ford behind the wall for extended repairs. The deficit Hemric faces is even more daunting based on the fact that his fellow Chase competitors enjoyed relatively trouble-free days at New Hampshire. Aside from Hemric, the remaining seven Chasers all finished in the top 11. Two races -- this weekend at Vegas and Oct. 22 at Talladega Superspeedway -- remain before two of the eight drivers are eliminated from the playoff picture. Just 27 points separate New Hampshire winner and points leader William Byron and seventh-place Ben Kennedy , but Hemric sits another 20 points behind Kennedy and 21 points behind sixth-place Johnny Sauter . Hemric's regular-season run of reliability -- with top-fives in half of the 16 races -- had earned him a share of the top spot with Byron in the series standings before the points were reset for the postseason. The task of escaping the Chase's bottom two on the basis of points isn't mathematically impossible, but Hemric would rather convert an automatic transfer with a win. "I believe we can," said Hemric, who has come close with seven finishes in the top three this season. "Especially our mile and a half program's been really solid and we've shown that time and time again. That's it. We know what we have to do." While Hemric knows he has two opportunities to regain lost ground, there may extra urgency to find momentum at Las Vegas this weekend rather than roll the dice in the opening round's elimination race at Talladega, where large crashes and wild-card winners are much more probable. "That's the thought," Hemric said. "Nobody wants to go to Talladega knowing they've got to win when everybody has that mentality. The past has shown what happens. Now with the new format, we feel a lot more confident we can just go do our jobs at Vegas and not have to worry about it."
Thunder in the hills: North Wilkesboro, 20 years later
NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. -- Paint peels and memories fade but the echoes of the past still ring off the hillsides here. Twenty years ago today, the checkered flag fell on the final NASCAR premier series race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Bob Flock won the first race, in 1949 and on dirt. Jeff Gordon won the last, in 1996 and on asphalt. The two races serve as bookends for a track that even after 20 years of silence serves as a reminder of the sport's colorful past. For 48 years and 93 races, NASCAR teams made the trek to the secluded .625-mile track in the Brushy Mountains of northwestern North Carolina. "It's one of the sport's most historic tracks, one that really helped put NASCAR on the map," car owner Richard Childress said. "A lot of people overlook that. But a lot of great things happened there. (Former series sponsor) R.J. Reynolds really supported it; Holly Farms back in the day … all those things were important to building our sport to what it is today." Built by Wilkes County resident Enoch Staley and partners Lawson Curry and Jack and Charlie Combs, North Wilkesboro Speedway was a venue unlike any other -- in part because the front straightaway ran slightly downhill and the backstretch uphill. It opened in 1947, two years before the debut of NASCAR's Strictly Stock Series, and hosted its first NASCAR premier series event in October of '49. The Wilkes 200 featured a 22-car field and was the final race of the inaugural season for NASCAR's new featured series. Flock won the race but it was Red Byron, finishing 16th, who captured the series' first championship. RELATED: Veterans share fond memories of track
Ryan Reed to attempt Sprint Cup debut at Talladega
XFINITY Series regular Ryan Reed will attempt to make his Sprint Cup Series debut at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 23 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the team announced Wednesday afternoon. BREAKING: @driverRyanReed will attempt his Sprint Cup debut at @TalladegaSuperS in the @LillyDiabetes No. 99 Fusion https://t.co/vM2ogVNYsH pic.twitter.com/ETls7WJeFt — Roush Fenway Racing (@roushfenway) September 28, 2016 Reed, who pilots the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford in the XFINITY Series, will drive the No. 99 Lilly Diabetes Ford in his debut. Pretty unbelievable. 5 years ago thought I was done racing. Now getting ready to run my first Cup race. Thanks all for the support. — Ryan Reed (@driverRyanReed) September 28, 2016 The 2015 XFINITY Daytona winner has been racing in the XFINITY Series for three full seasons and has yet to attempt a Sprint Cup start in his racing career. He is currently one of the eight XFINITY drivers vying for the series championship in the inaugural Chase.
Logano's win brings milestones for Penske, Ford , Roush Yates
RELATED: Results " Post-Michigan standings " Chase Grid " Day in photos With each race it hosts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Michigan International Speedway offers extra incentives to the three manufacturers, given the track's proximity to the automaker hub of Detroit. With Joey Logano 's victory Sunday, Ford earned bragging rights and savored multiple historic milestones as a bonus. Ford took home the track's Heritage Trophy thanks to Logano's first Sprint Cup victory of the season in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford . His triumph in the FireKeepers Casino 400 marked the 50th win for team owner Roger Penske during his association with Ford . In fact, 23 of Penske's 50 wins have come since 2013 -- a nod to the dynamic duo that is Logano and teammate Brad Keselowski . Walt Czarnecki -- vice chairman of Team Penske , which is celebrating its 50th year in motorsports -- said he spoke by phone in Victory Lane with the organization's founder, who was watching his IndyCar operation participate in a rain-delayed event at Texas Motor Speedway . "MIS has such a special meaning and such a special place in the history of our company," Czarnecki said, "so to win here, it means a lot, and (Penske) was pretty excited, and in fact I told him, I really think the performance today was flawless by the team, and he absolutely agreed." The race also resulted in the 100th premier-series win for Roush Yates Engines, the engine-building powerhouse formed after the 2003 season with deep-rooted ties to Ford . "The win here in Michigan, to make these guys proud of what we do, is something that really means a lot to us," said Doug Yates, the chief engine builder and son of NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Robert Yates. "We take a lot of pride in that, and it's something that is really, really special. As you can tell, I'm pretty emotional and pretty excited about it, and I'm sure my dad and I will go over it. But Ford Motor Company has been a huge part of his career and my career, and we want to keep it going for a long time for now." Logano led 138 of the 200 laps in Sunday's 400-mile race. Of his 15 career victories in the Sprint Cup Series, 13 have come in Team Penske Fords with Roush Yates Engines since the 2013 season. "This is where I got -- (crew chief) Todd (Gordon) and I got our first Cup win together with Team Penske , so it's been a special place for us," Logano said. "It's been a good race track for us ever since then, but it's nice to be able to break through once again." Ford has registered 642 victories all-time in NASCAR's premier series. Of those wins, 74 have come with the Fusion, which became the manufacturer's model of choice for NASCAR in 2006.
Erik Jones holds off Larson to win at Chicagoland
RELATED: Complete race results " Series standings " Chase Grid JOLIET, Ill. – Kyle Busch opened the door, and that was all the invitation Erik Jones needed. When Busch, the polesitter for Saturday's Drive for Safety 300 at Chicagoland Speedway , spun with a tire down while leading on Lap 182 of 200 , Jones took full advantage of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate's misfortune. The driver of the No. 20 JGR Toyota restarted sixth on Lap 187 after Busch brought out the eighth caution of the afternoon and quickly closed the gap on Elliott Sadler , who restarted second and grabbed the lead from JR Motorsports teammate Clint Bowyer , who had stayed out on old tires like Sadler. Jones caught and passed Sadler on Lap 192. Race runner-up Kyle Larson followed four laps later but couldn't catch Jones before the finish. In the final four laps, Jones moved up the track to take Larson's preferred racing line and crossed the finish line .392 seconds ahead of Larson, who brushed the outside wall on the final lap while trying to close in on the race winner. "It was tough," said Jones, who won for the second time at the 1.5-mile track and the fourth time in his rookie year. "I knew we were in a good spot on tires, but we pretty far back – think we restarted sixth there. "I didn't know if my Hisense Camry was going to have enough time to get back up to the front, but we had a really good restart and got clear to third and then just had to go chase Elliott down. It was a matter of time before we got around him. What an awesome day!" With four victories this season, Jones enters the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase as the No. 1 seed heading to the Chase opener next Saturday at Kentucky Speedway . "It's a lot of momentum," Jones said. "I wish this was our first round right here. We'll go into Kentucky definitely with a full head of steam and are due for another win there. Our mile-and-a-half program is great – it's been great all year. "To finally get a first mile-and-a-half win of the year – just looking forward to getting to Kentucky next weekend and try to chase down another one." Saturday's event finalized the 12-driver Chase field, as Blake Koch and Ryan Sieg clinched the final two spots with finishes of 15th and 12th, respectively. The full Chase field, in order of seeding, consists of Erik Jones , Sadler, Daniel Suarez , Ty Dillon , Justin Allgaier , Darrell Wallace Jr ., Brendan Gaughan , Brennan Poole , Sieg, Ryan Reed , Brandon Jones and Koch. Sadler finished third on Saturday, followed by Suarez and Allgaier. Larson recovered from a pit road speeding penalty to record his eighth top-five finish in 12 starts this year. "I knew I could get the top (lane) going, but I knew when I got the top going, Erik would move up just when I got to him," Larson said. "He did, and I tried to carry a lot of throttle off of (Turn) 2 and maybe get a run on him, but I got into the wall." Busch led 154 laps and recovered from his spin to finish 13th. All told, 11 different drivers led at least one lap, including the top eight drivers in the finishing order. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Ford drivers exchange bbq sauce banter
At the Ready. Set. Chase launch event in Chicago, Chris Buescher, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano cover a wide range of interesting topics including crashing cars and classic tunes.
Bruce: XFINITY Chase intensity ratchets up aggression
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid SPARTA, Ky. -- Was Saturday night's opening Chase race for NASCAR’s XFINITY Series an example of good, hard racing or a case of folks driving over their heads? That depends on who one asked afterward. Race winner Elliott Sadler wasn’t pointing fingers, and race winners have rarely been heard to utter a discouraging word. But the JR Motorsports driver said he did notice an uptick in intensity during the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway . "About halfway through the race, it was 'note to self; you can tell it's the Chase because it was caution after caution after caution," Sadler said afterward. "People were tense, eager, frustrated, nervous. A lot of different things going on with drivers right now ... trying to make it to the second (round). "I think people are giving each other less room. Restarts are crazy in the back." They were crazy up front, too. The race, which kicked off a seven-race, two-round elimination playoff for the series, saw the caution flag fly a track record 12 times. More than one-fourth of the race (64 laps) was run under the yellow. Yes, there was even a brief (5 min., 34 sec.) red-flag period. Erik Jones , the top seed and regular-season leader in race wins, got crossed up while racing with Ty Dillon and both the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota and the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet ended up in the wall. RELATED: See the wreck the caught two title contenders Each is now outside eighth place in points with two races to try and improve their standing; only the top eight (with the exception of a Chase race winner that might be 9th-12th ) advance to the second round. Not surprisingly, Jones wasn't particularly pleased with the early ending to his night and said later that the aggressive driving does cause one to approach the race differently. "Yeah, it makes me try to stay out of trouble," he said. "I didn't want to have something like that happen. ... You try to play defense some. I was for sure." Of course, there was the matter of a reconfigured track that sports new asphalt and distinctly different turns. That, too, played a role in the difficulties for some. And that was to be expected, said Brendan Gaughan , driver of the No. 62 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing . "It didn't seem like it was any more aggressive than normal," Gaughan said after finishing sixth. "It's a very narrow race track here right now. That Turn 3 is treacherous, man. There's no grip on the entry, there's no width on the entry. It's a treacherous, treacherous place at the moment. ... "It's still Kentucky. I love it." The fight to advance into the next round began early, but it's not the only battle going on and Saturday night's race brought some of that to light. In addition to the driver's championship, there's an owners title at stake and a couple of teams didn’t forget about that. At the end of the regular season, the No. 2 team of RCR was atop the owners' standings, followed by the No. 18 of Joe Gibbs Racing , the No. 1 of JRM with Sadler behind the wheel, and the No. 22 of Team Penske . Chevy, Toyota, Chevy and Ford . You think those folks aren't paying close attention? RCR brought in Sam Hornish Jr . to keep the No. 2 team in the hunt; Penske handed the reins to Sprint Cup driver Ryan Blaney . Sadler got the win, but a solid fifth-place run by Matt Tifft put the JGR No. 18 atop the owners' standings. JRM (No. 1) now sits second thanks to the victory while Hornish, who finished fourth, kept the RCR entry in the mix -- it's now third. Blaney did not fare badly but the way it all shook out left him third on the track and the team now fifth in the owners' battle. Dover, a fast, unforgiving mile of concrete, is up next. Some folks will be looking to rebound, some looking to continue to ride a hot start. If Kentucky was any indication, they better hope they can just hang on.
Team Penske celebrates milestone with with Ford , Roush Yates Engines
Doug Yates and Team Penske's Walt Czarnecki speak to Joey Logano's win at Michigan International Speedway which was Roush Yates Engines 100th victory with Ford .
Keselowski hits home with Careers for Veterans
RELATED: Reddick tops final practice at Michigan BROOKLYN, Mich. -- As the owner of a two-truck organization, Brad Keselowski has more than a passing interest in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. That interest increased exponentially this weekend as the series visits Michigan International Speedway . The 2-mile track hosts Saturday's Careers for Veterans 200 , a collaborative sponsorship effort between Cooper Standard and Keselowski's own Checkered Flag Foundation. Cooper Standard, which has been affiliated with Keselowski since 2011, is also the primary sponsor for the organization's No. 29 Ford driven by Tyler Reddick , one of two entries fielded by Brad Keselowski Racing. Teammate Daniel Hemric competes in the No. 19 Ford . The Careers for Veterans program, run by Cooper Standard, provides career opportunities for military veterans as well as those transitioning from active service. It's an endeavor embraced by Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation as well. "It started through my foundation, which has some similar efforts helping members of the community," Keselowski said of the sponsorship association. "Careers for Veterans is one of those examples. It kind of grew into this relationship -- 'Hey, we're both from Michigan, we both have the same goals and initiatives. What can we put together?' " Keselowski, the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, hails from Rochester Hills, Michigan. Cooper Standard, based in Novi, Michigan, specializes in the production and marketing of various automotive components and systems. Keselowski competes for Team Penske and is used to dealing with a variety of sponsors and understands their various goals. The connection between Cooper Standard and his foundation, "is not your typical pact," he said. "Usually there are B-to-B (business-to-business) plays, marketing plays, but usually it's not foundation-related," he said. "The way Cooper Standard allows me to give back to the sport is two-fold. One, it's with the race team, the people that are on it that have a spot to work and hopefully grow and prosper whether it be for their families or their future career which is something I enjoy immensely. "But also I get the chance to connect the foundation to what I do which is very difficult. I think it's very important to show to others that we have a commitment to looking out to others who are less fortunate or have had some tough times. "I think that's an important part of the sport, the ability to realize and acknowledge how well off we have it and to try to ... be an example of that realization and efforts to do something with it." The race sponsorship at MIS has been in place since 2014. Keselowski said 3,000 guests of Cooper Standard will be on hand this weekend for the event. Reddick, 10th in points, said everyone in the organization understands the added importance of this weekend's race. "This is my first year of driving (with Cooper Standard sponsorship), but I've been a part of this team long enough to know how important it is to everybody," he said. "It goes unsaid. "Everyone understands and knows what this race means to Brad and Cooper Standard, all the veterans that will be here and all the ones watching at home. "We all understand what we have to do and hopefully we can go do just that."
Last-lap pass leads Moffitt to victory at Michigan
RELATED: Full race results " Standings BROOKLYN, Mich. -- In five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts, Brett Moffitt had never led a lap. But in Saturday's Careers for Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway , Moffitt picked the perfect time to take the point for the first time. Powering around Red Horse Racing teammate Timothy Peters and five-time series winner William Byron off the second corner of the final lap at the two-mile track, Moffitt held off Peters by .098 seconds to win a NASCAR national series race for the first time. Moffitt's victory, however, left Shane Huffman, Peters' crew chief, slapping his seat on the pit box in frustration. Peters, who led a race-high 42 laps, could have locked himself into the inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase with a victory. Running a limited schedule this season, Moffitt is ineligible for the championship this year. But Moffitt made no apologies for taking advantage of the opportunity that presented itself when Byron pushed Peters into Turn 3 on the white-flag lap, cut to the inside and slowed both trucks down. Moffitt cruised around the outside off Turn 2 on the final lap and kept Peters behind him. "I'm here to win," Moffitt said. "I said it earlier and I'll say it again. I'm not going to wreck him (Peters) for it. I'm going to race him clean because I know he needs to get in the Chase, but this team needs to win and these guys deserve to win. "That's what we come to do, and our partners at Toyota want to do the same, and we got it." Daniel Hemric passed Byron on the last lap to come home third, with Byron following in fourth and Cameron Hayley in fifth. The good news for both Peters and Hemric was the wide margin both drivers opened over their closest pursuers in the race to make the Chase. Though winless this year, Hemric and Peters lead Cameron Hayley by 55 and 47 points, respectively, in the battle for the last two Chase spots. If no new winner surfaces in the final two regular-season races, both Hemric and Peters are highly likely to qualify on points. "It's a good day for Red Horse Racing," Peters said. "Congrats to Brett Moffitt . One-two finish. I wish we were 'one,' but all in all, the company brings the trophy back. The 9 (Byron) locked onto our bumper there in Turn 2 and pushed us really hard down into Turn 3. "We had to do all we had to do to stay in front. ... Tough to swallow right there, but it felt good to run the way we did all day." Both Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick entered the race needing to win to make the Chase. Reddick's Ford bounced off the side of Johhny Sauter's Chevrolet on Lap 70 and sustained heavy damage during contact with the Turn 3 wall. Custer, however, had the lead for a restart on Lap 84, only to lose control and spin into the Turn 4 wall, grazing the left rear of Moffitt's No. 11 Toyota in the process. "We didn't have the raw speed of the guys up front, but it drove pretty well, and it was hard to keep those guys off of me," Custer said. "The 11 (Moffitt) stopped pushing me -- which it's his right to do that. "We were kind of losing the 17 (Peters) there. He (Moffitt) went to the outside and I started getting tight. Once he got on my door, I got loose and over-corrected it. I just hate it for my guys that brought a great truck." Like Hayley, Custer and Reddick will have two more chances to force their way into the Chase by winning one of the final two regular-season races.