Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Author’s Note: Hey readers! As the 2012 season is winding to a close, we’re already planning for next year. Please click here to send me an e-mail or let me know in the comments below what you’d like to see in Tracking the Trucks that currently isn’t in there. Is there something you don’t like about this format? I want to know that too! I’ll collect your comments throughout the rest of the year and the offseason and debut the new and improved Tracking the Trucks in February for the season opener at Daytona. Thank you for your dedicated readership! —Beth
In a Nutshell: Brian Scott took the checkered flag 0.666 seconds ahead of Kyle Larson to win the Lucas Oil 150 Friday night at Phoenix International Raceway. Scott took advantage of a green-white-checkered finish, pulling ahead on the restart to become the 15th different winner this season. Joey Coulter, Timothy Peters, and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-5 finishers.
Who Should Have Won: Kyle Larson. Sure, Brian Scott took the checkered flag first; however, if it weren’t for the caution that set the field up for a green-white-checkered finish, it would have been the newly-crowned K&N Pro Series East champion celebrating in victory lane. After dropping like a rock on the initial start, Larson worked his way back into the top 5 before making a bold three-wide move on the restart with 42 laps remaining to take the lead. He ended up losing that lead on the green-white-checkered finish, but he still held on for a spectacular runner-up result.
Cautions Breed Cautions: After going caution-free for the first 36 laps, the Lucas Oil 150 was slowed by six yellows in the following 37 circuits. In fact, the longest green flag run in between cautions at that point came in the form of a three lap sprint between the first and second yellows. At the end of the night, the race had been slowed by nine cautions for 46 laps (30.7% of the race), still well short of the record of 13 set in the 2007 Casino Arizona 150.
Tempers Flare / Red Flag Flies:
And that brings us to the eighth caution, where German Quiroga dove inside Brendan Gaughan heading into turn one and clipped the No. 2 Chevrolet, sending both drivers spinning. When the duo came to a rest on the track, Gaughan wasted little time getting out of his truck, heading over to Quiroga’s and having an animated “conversation” with the NASCAR Mexico driver before heading into the ambulance for the mandatory trip to the infield care center. Because of the amount of fluid left on the track, NASCAR was forced to throw a red flag for cleanup before allowing teams to continue in their trek to the finish.
Quiroga was immediately apologetic in his interview.
“I think I braked too late and he [Brendan Gaughan] braked too early, and that’s what took us out there,” Quiroga said. “I want to apologize first of all. I did not want to wreck anybody here. I’m learning. I just saw the replay and I could not avoid him—I tried. I’m very disappointed for my sponsorship—for Net10 Wireless—they have been supporting me for these four races. We’ll catch up next time.”
By the time SPEED got to Gaughan following his trip to the infield care center, he had a smile on his face, even if it was a pretty sarcastic one.
“He overdrove the corner, and he screwed up,” Gaughan said. “At least he was smart enough to know that he made a mistake, so that’s a start.”
And while Quiroga’s decision to dive inside the driver of the No. 2 the way he did was definitely questionable judgment, he deserves a huge amount of credit for admitting he made a mistake. It’s not uncommon for a young driver learning his way around a new series to find himself in a tough spot every now and then, and as long as he learns from his mistakes, Quiroga will continue his NASCAR career while trying to earn the respect of his fellow competitors.
But as far as Brendan Gaughan goes, it’s really hard to blame him for being upset. He was clearly wrecked by a mistake another driver made. And to make matters worse, it was his last start behind the wheel of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet—one where he was on track for a solid top-5 result. Frankly, I’m quite surprised he managed to keep his cool as well as he did while talking to SPEED.
Green-White-Checkered Finish: Just when it looked like Kyle Larson was home free and all set to grab his first career victory in just his third start, points leader James Buescher suffered a blown right front tire that brought out the ninth yellow of the night, setting the field up for a green-white-checkered finish. Once the race restarted, Brian Scott used momentum and a little of a loose condition for Larson to take off and leave the rest of the field in his dust in an uneventful two lap sprint to the checkered flag. Buescher’s team worked furiously to repair the damage to his No. 31 Chevrolet and managed to keep him just one lap down; he finished 17th and now leads Timothy Peters and Ty Dillon by 11 and 12 points, respectively.
Truck Rookie Report
No. of Rookies in the Race: 16 (add Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, David Mayhew, Ryan Truex, Matt Merrell, German Quiroga, Todd Peck, Brian Weber, Jeff Choquette, Stephen Leicht, and Blake Koch)
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 4; Kyle Larson, finished second; Ryan Blaney, finished fifth; Cale Gale, finished seventh; Ryan Truex, finished tenth
Rookie of the Race: Cale Gale
Note: Only drivers who have officially declared for the Rookie of the Year battle are eligible to be the Rookie of the Race. Otherwise, it would have been Kyle Larson with his runner-up finish.
“On that restart there, [Brian Scott] took the air off me going into [turn] one, and I got loose. He just worked momentum around me. But second is not bad in just my third truck start.” Kyle Larson
“We had a really fast Draw-Tite RAM tonight. The hole in the nose hurt us a big, but this BKR team never gave up, and I appreciate their effort. I’m really looking forward to Homestead next weekend. I’m not ready for this season to be over!” Ryan Blaney, finished fifth
“The Rheem team built me a great Chevrolet for tonight’s race. Up until this weekend, I had never raced at Phoenix International Raceway. It’s a really fun track and my team built me one of the best trucks that we’ve had all season. We were definitely a top-5 truck, and with how everything was playing out, I think we had a shot at the win. We got a little bit behind when we spun near the halfway point, but I’m really proud of how hard my team worked to get our truck repaired and back in contention. These guys have done such a great job all season. I can’t wait to get to Homestead-Miami Speedway with them next weekend.” Cale Gale, finished seventh
“Fun night. Proud of the Hillman racing guys. Thought we had a truck to win, just got too tight at the end.” Ryan Truex via his Twitter page, finished ninth
“I would like to thank Steak and Grape / MMI Services and Brad Keselowski for the opportunity. We came up a bit short of what we had hoped this weekend, but many thanks to Jeff Stankiewicz and the BKR team for their efforts. I’m looking forward to the future and appreciate the chance to compete with Brad Keselowski Racing.” David Mayhew, finished 12th
“It’s frustrating to have such a good truck and get caught up in a wreck like that. I’m proud of the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops team for working so hard this weekend and getting us back on track after the incident. We’re not out of this championship hunt yet. We’ll do our best next weekend in Miami.” Ty Dillon, finished 15th
Biggest Winner: “Timothy Peters*, who led the standings for much of the middle part of the year, came into Phoenix with a 25-point deficit to leader James Buescher. But a solid fourth-place finish allowed him to close that gap. Now, with just one race remaining, Peters is just 11 markers behind with a pretty good shot at having a chance to snag the championship from under Buescher’s nose. After all, remember that Johnny Sauter managed to gain 14 points on Austin Dillon in the season finale last year. And even though it wasn’t enough for Sauter to come out on top, that kind of a gain would hand the Red Horse Racing driver his first career championship.
“It was a crazy night and I’m just glad we finished because it was a big points night for us. But it’s sort of bittersweet for me, because I know we had a better Tundra than the fourth-place finish shows. This Red Horse Racing team worked really hard all day to give me a fast truck and they did just that. Butch Hylton [Crew Chief] made a great strategy call in the middle of the race to put us in position for this finish, and now we have a legitimate shot at this championship heading into Homestead. That’s all we can really ask for.” Timothy Peters
Biggest Loser: Ironically, the biggest loser in the championship battle at Phoenix was Peters’ RHR teammate Parker Kligerman. He came into the one-mile oval with a shot to close within striking distance of points leader James Buescher, and for a while it looked like he may have been able to do just that. But a loose truck on the restart following the third caution saw the driver of the No. 7 Toyota head straight to the outside wall, collecting Matt Crafton in the process. Though the team repaired the truck and he headed back out on track, they were forced to pack it in before the checkered flag flew for a disappointing 27th-place finish. He now sits 37 points behind after dropping to fifth heading into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend.
“Our Toyota Tundra was really loose all night, and I was trying everything I could inside the truck to tighten it up but it just wasn’t enough. On that last restart, I thought we were going to be ok, but when another truck passed by us, it just changed the air and being so loose, just sent me spinning and into the wall. At the end of the day, it was a mistake on my part because I could catch it, but that’s racing. We’re going to Homestead with a brand new Tundra and just one goal in mind—and that’s to win.” Parker Kligerman
Standings After the Lucas Oil 150
“This means a lot to get Dollar General to victory lane—they’ve been with me all year. I told Rick Drelling, the CEO of Dollar General, that I was going to get him to victory lane and I was going to get him some trophies and I’m glad I could deliver. Just thanks to everybody. Thanks to Kyle and Samantha [Busch] for letting me run their truck. This is awesome. Isn’t this cool? It means a lot to win at Phoenix. This is pretty much a home race for me being from Idaho. It’s just surreal. It’s awesome.” Brian Scott
“Overall, it was a great job by everyone on the No. 22 American Eurocopter team tonight. I don’t know what was going on with some of the drivers out there, but there seemed to be a lot of cautions throughout the night. I’m glad we stayed out of trouble and kept our hopes alive for a championship.” Joey Coulter, finished third
“I feel like I learned a lot this weekend. It was definitely not the finish I was hoping for, but it’s difficult to be upset with a top-10 finish at a track I have only been to once before. My team worked hard and I was happy to get them their fourth pole of the season as well as the new qualifying lap record for NCWTS at Phoenix. We’ll try again next weekend.” Nelson Piquet, Jr., finished eighth
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t win the race, but all in all considering how our weekend started, I’m pleased with finishing in tenth. I had over 20 guests from my home in the Imperial Valley of California and I wanted to give them all a great show. The crew really worked hard to get the truck back together after the practice session incidents.” Justin Lofton, finished tenth
“Sometimes I think that this team has nothing but bad luck. We work so hard, but it seems like every time we have a really good truck capable of winning, something gets in our way. I’m so proud of this team and I appreciate my guys sticking with me through this frustrating race. We have one final race to earn ourselves a win this season. I like Homestead and we’ve been so strong at the intermediate tracks; hopefully we can end this season on a high note and go out with a win.” Miguel Paludo, finished 14th in his 50th career start
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season finale. Last season, Johnny Sauter won the rain-shortened event and Austin Dillon came out on top in the championship battle. The Ford EcoBoost 200 will be broadcast live on SPEED beginning at 7:30 PM ET; it can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM Channel 90.
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Entertaining race as always, and the Truck series again brings us a nailbiter of a championship fight without the use of a BS playoff format. Have to feel bad for Beuscher, wonder if that R/F tire will seal his fate.