Kenseth Spins, Logano Wins Can-Am 500
The finish of the Can-Am 500K at Phoenix International Raceway had an assortment of different frontrunners and pit strategies, along with a conclusion you didn’t see coming in the final race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase of 8.
The race was in the first overtime period when, on the restart, then-leader Matt Kenseth was struck on his left rear by Alex Bowman, sending him and his Chase chances spinning into the turn two wall.
Emerging as the beneficiary in front was Joey Logano, holding off Kyle Busch and claiming his berth into the Championship 4 in Miami, bringing along with him Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and, on points, Kyle Busch for next Sunday’s showdown.
“This feels so good,” said Logano, earning his third win of the year and 17th of his career. He took the lead from the fourth position on the restart. “I’ve never felt this good about a win before. There was so much on the line and everyone brings their A-game when it comes to winning championships, and this team did it.
“Man, this feels so good. I had a good restart there at the end (in the second overtime) and holding off Kyle to try to get this thing into Miami. We’re racing for a championship now. We did exactly what we had to do. We’ve get to go to Homestead and do the same thing. I’m speechless right now. I feel like I just won the Daytona 500 again.”
Runner-up Kyle Busch knows his outcome was in peril of fading away until his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kenseth was knocked out, leaving Busch in a bittersweet mood, knowing how hard Kenseth had battled to hold the lead only to see everything evaporate right in front of him.
“Well, right now it feels pretty (lousy), but tomorrow it might feel a lot better,” Busch said. “I’m not sure; depends on what Matt’s interpretation is, and whether or not he can forgive. You know, I just feel really bad about what happened there on that last restart. It just wasn’t what I anticipated having happen, and I just feel bad. The 20 (Kenseth) should have been the Gibbs car to go through, and I was just trying to make a position there on the 88, felt like I was to his inside and had the position.
“It translated into the 20 crashing. That’s not how at all I foresaw that going. I was hoping I could get underneath the 88, force him up, and have him kind of block the 22 and check up the outside row and then I could have a position between the 22 and me and get myself and the 20 in. Math just didn’t quite work out that way today.”
In a race that went 12 overtime laps beyond its scheduled distance of 312 laps, Kyle Larson ran third, followed by Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Bowman and Denny Hamlin. Like Kenseth, who finished 21st after the late wreck, Harvick, Hamlin and Kurt Busch all were eliminated from the Chase.
Rookie Pole-sitter Bowman, substituting for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as he recovers from concussion symptoms, led for a race, leading 194 laps and finishing a career best sixth. He left the race with mixed feelings, caught up by the confusion of what happened.
“We’re all here to win races and doing everything we can to win races,” said Bowman, who grew up in nearby Tucson. “I don’t think Kyle wrecked Matt. I don’t think I wrecked Matt. I think the situation – it just all, it all happened like that.
“It’s unfortunate. But I don’t think you can really place the blame on one person. It just sucks for Matt. I don’t know Matt. He’s probably really mad at me right now, I’d imagine, but hopefully we can move past it and race clean at Homestead.”
Now the points advance to 5,000 for each of the four contestants going into the Sprint Cup Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the running of the EcoBoost 400 next Sunday, Nov. 20. The start time is 2:30 p.m. ET, airing on NBC.
Kyle Busch Wins; Xfinity Championship 4 Set for Miami
Although Kyle Busch won the Ticket Galaxy 200 in a runaway victory on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway, everyone’s attention quickly focused on how the NASCAR Xfinity series Chase of 8 would turn out. This, being the last event of three Chase races, would determine the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway next week.
The drivers who will vie for the inaugural Xfinity Championship 4 are Daniel Suarez, Elliott Sadler, Erik Jones and Justin Allgaier. Those below the cut were Blake Koch, missing the mark by four points, Ryan Reed, Darrell Wallace, Jr. and Brendon Gaughan.
In post race inspection, NASCAR officials discovered two of Sadler’s lug nuts were attached but not secured, giving him plenty of post race anxiety waiting for the infraction call from the sanctioning body. At the closing of the race, NASCAR decided to fine JR Motorsports crew chief for the No. 1 Chevrolet, Kevin Meedering, $10,000 and suspension from the EcoBoost 300 next Saturday in Miami after suffering the same problem two weeks in a row.
“The emotions of the last 30 minutes have been tough,” said Sadler, who hinted that having Dale Earnhardt, Jr. heading his pit box in Florida would be a good idea. “We knew one was loose, and one was in question. Kevin’s pretty much become my best friend, and he’s made me a race car driver again this year.
“We’ve saved our Darlington car – our best car – for Homestead. We’ve put all our eggs in that car. We’ve done everything right as a race team to go to Homestead with a legitimate shot of walking away a champion. Now that we know he’s going to be suspended, it’s going to be tough.”
Despite the quick decision, NASCAR Xfinity series Managing Director Wayne Auton assured the media there was never a possibility of Sadler losing his position in the standings.
“At the end of the race, we bring all the cars down to the entrance of pit road for inspection of the wheels and the lug nuts,” Auton said, addressing the press. “We observed that the No. 1 car had two lug nuts not secured to the wheel. With that being said, all the teams were very much aware at the start of the Chase of the violations that could come about. We’ve advised the team that they’re going to be looking for a crew chief for next week and a monetary fine of about $10,000. It’s clearly in the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series rule book.”
For race winner Kyle Busch, he drove a near perfect race, leading for 190 of the 200 circuits and beating Austin Dillon, Rickie Stenhouse, Justin Allgaier, and Daniel Suarez to round out the top five. The victory signified his 86th record-breaking Xfinity win, 10th at Phoenix and 10th this season.
“It means a lot,” said Busch, who won his 170th race across NASCAR’s top three touring series. “That’s what we set out to do tonight, and we’ve been really fast here at Phoenix.
“We’ve had some great race cars, and Chris Gayle (crew chief) and all these guys do such a great job each and every week preparing these things – and it’s fun to win here.”
It all comes down to the EcoBoost 300 next Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Xfinity Championship being decided at 3:30 p.m. on NBCSN.
Suarez Speeds to Lucas Oil 150 Win at Phoenix International Raceway
The NASCAR Camping World Truck series Championship 4 are set heading to Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend after seeing Daniel Suarez inherit the lead from a dominating William Byron to win the Lucas Oil 150 on Friday night at Phoenix International Raceway.
Byron led for 112 laps before smoke started trailing from his tailpipe with only 10 laps to go, transferring his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Daniel Suarez to victory lane to hoist the trophy.
“He was running a perfect race, and things like this happen,” Suarez said his teammate, who had led 112 of the first 137 laps before his engine began to fail. “The first victory in any series is always the most difficult to get.
“I’m just very proud of this team for their effort. They’ve done a really good job all year. I’m very happy that we were able to get the win for KBM and Toyota.”
Byron looked like he was on cruise control, setting the pace after winning the pole, and was looking so good that the only thing that was going to stop him was himself.
“We had been running hot a little bit the last run – kind of all night,” Byron said. “It stayed within 10 (degree) range, but it started to vibrate, maybe the lap before, but it didn’t seem like a big deal, then it sputtered and flames came out from underneath the truck.”
Up to that point, there was a three-way tie with only two drivers making it into the championship. When Byron blew, that moved two-time champion Matt Crafton, Christian Bell and Timothy Peters into the remaining three spots, joining two-time Chase of 6 winner Johnny Sauter as the final four to vie for the Camping World Truck series championship.,
Christopher Bell, who claimed the last berth in the Championship 4 with a seventh-place finish, joins second-place finisher Johnny Sauter, third-place Matt Crafton and fifth-place Timothy Peters with a chance to win the title next Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
In a unique situation, four different teams will be represented in the Championship 4, with Johnny Sauter taking GMS Racing to their first title bout in a Chevrolet Silverado. There are three Toyota Tundra teams headed to the championship battle, with Crafton leading the ThorSport Racing contingent, while Christopher Bell drives in Kyle Busch Motorsports’ livery and Timothy Peters is riding in on Red Horse Racing.
The top 10 in Phoenix were Suarez, Sauter, Matt Crafton, Cameron Hayley, Timothy Peters, John Hunter Nemechek, Christopher Bell, Matt Tifft, Ben Kennedy and Cole Custer.
In addition to Suarez’s win for Kyle Busch Motorsports, Toyota clinched the NCWTS manufacturers’ championship for the ninth time, winning 13 out of 23 races.
The NASCAR Truck championship is up for grabs next Friday night, Nov. 18 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway for the running of the EcoBoost 200 airing on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET.