Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: Kyle Larson Does it Again at Michigan- Kyle Larson proved on Friday he had the fastest car at Michigan International Raceway, putting his No. 42 team on the pole for the 400-mile event. This time, the California kid had to hold off a pack of hounds in the waning laps.
Larson led much of the opening stage before Martin Truex Jr. got by, picking up the stage victory. The second stage saw much of the same. The No. 42 machine was out front until making a pit stop with roughly 15 laps to go. But when he came out of the pits, he had to hold off the No. 78 car, in which Truex got by, recording his season-high 10th stage triumph of 2017.
A caution with 50 laps remaining put teams on the edge of their fuel window. Four teams elected to go with two tires, putting Kyle Busch out front not knowing if the No. 18 car could go the distance on fuel.
Busch held the lead until a restart with 15 laps to go when Larson got by. Over the final two restarts of the event, the No. 18 team fell to seventh, letting another victory slip away. It’s the fifth time this season Busch was passed for the final lead change of the race.
Heading to the twist and turns of Sonoma Raceway next weekend, Busch is a two-time winner, most recently coming in 2015. It’s not a matter of if the No. 18 team is going to pick up a victory, the question is when. – Dustin Albino
XFINITY Series: What a Finish – For the second consecutive week, the XFINITY Series race had a thrilling finish with a last-lap pass. This time, Denny Hamlin was ousting rookie sensation William Byron.
Hamlin had the race in hand until NASCAR threw a debris caution with 14 laps to go. On the resuming restart, Byron pushed hometown hero Brad Keselowski past Hamlin, but made a quick dive to the inside of the No. 22 car off Turn 2, taking the lead for the first time since leading 17 laps en route to a stage victory at Texas Motor Speedway in early April.
Byron looked as though he was on track to win his first-career XFINITY Series race until Matt Tifft went for a slide through the grass with five laps remaining, bringing out the caution. On the restart, the No. 9 Chevrolet held off Hamlin until the final corner of the last lap, when the No. 20 car edged to the victory by .012 seconds, the closest finish in Michigan history for NASCAR’s second-tier series.
The victory is Hamlin’s first in his last four XFINITY Series races, dating back to last season at Darlington Raceway, when he finished runner-up. The more important story is this could be the breakout race Byron needs as the series heads to its first stand-alone event of the season at Iowa Speedway. – Dustin Albino
Camping World Truck Series: Money Rears Its Ugly Head – The field for Saturday night’s Drivin’ for Linemen 200 featured 30 starters, which, on the surface, appears to be a good thing since it was a full field. But if you were to look a little deeper into the finishing results, you’d see that seven of those trucks didn’t even make it to the end of the first stage, which was only 35 laps.
It’s a sad story about the state the series is in right now, where purses don’t even come close to covering costs, and NASCAR doesn’t seem terribly interested in fixing the issue.
In fact, John Hunter Nemechek, who won at Gateway Saturday night, has himself locked into the playoffs, but there are questions as to whether the team can afford to be on track by the time the championship battle comes around.
“We’ve had some great partners come on board, but we only have half our season sold,” NEMCO Motorsports owner Joe Nemechek said. “We didn’t know if we were going to go next week or when. It’s just tough because John Hunter has so much talent. He’s going to be a Cup champion one of these days. Right now, we’re just trying to get to the next race.”
It’s a huge problem that NASCAR needs to address. Costs outweigh the benefits of racing, and teams are barely scraping by unless they have partnerships with others elsewhere in the sport. And even then, I’ve heard rumblings that there are other trucks in danger of dropping out of the battle, which is tough since Red Horse Racing, an established operation, shut its doors three weeks back. In a series where the truck counts continue to dwindle, something has to give soon before the series drops away altogether. – Beth Lunkenheimer
Sports Cars: Panoz Announces Electric Sports Car Concept – On Thursday in Le Mans, Dr. Don Panoz’s Green4U Technologies announced a new all-electric race car concept that is ultimately designed to race at an unspecified point in the future at Le Mans. The Green4U Panoz Racing GT-EV is currently being developed at Panoz Technologies in Braselton, Ga. near Road Atlanta.
The concept is one of, if not the first electric race car concept that would allow for battery swapping technology. This would be a crucial development in an electric car being able to race for more than 50-100 miles at a time.
When ultimately produced, Panoz is hoping that the Green4U Panoz Racing GT-EV will produce 400-450 kilowatts (536-603 horsepower) and be capable of a top speed of 180 mph. The desired battery range for the car is estimated at 90-110 miles. At Le Mans, that is roughly 10-13 laps, in line with current LMP2 prototypes.
Likely the most radical aspect of the presented concept was an offset cockpit that would see the driver on the far left side of the chassis, next to the batteries. This would be the case not just for the racecar, but also for a potential street version.
Green4U Technologies ultimately wants to race the Green4U Panoz Racing GT-EV at some point. On paper, it sounds like it could be a future Garage 56 entry at Le Mans. However, it is unclear as to when that might happen. – Phil Allaway