As the seasons change, the racing season begins to come to a close. This has left several NASCAR drivers scrambling to make a mark in the 2017 Chase to the Championship history books. Three of these hard-working drivers proved they would do anything and everything to keep their Playoff hopes alive at both Dover and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Use Your Melon: Drive Sober 200
After Playoff driver William Byron earned the pole for Saturday’s Use Your Melon: Drive Sober 200, the JR Motorsports driver led every lap of the first stage of this race to earn yet another Playoff point. Although things were looking up for the 19-year-old driver, a faulty pit stop gave Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, the chance to take the lead on Lap 64.
After taking the lead, Blaney both won Stage 2 and picked up the checkered flag in this 200-lap race for his sixth victory of the series, his second win of the 2017 season and his first at the Monster Mile.
“It’s really hard to get a car like that, and to be honest, we didn’t have it in the first run,” said Blaney. “We were a little bit off on the first run, but my team made some great changes to get the No. 22 where it needed to be. As a driver, that’s all you can ask for. It is awesome to get to Victory Lane at this track. We were so close earlier this year and just didn’t quite get it, and now that has all changed.”
Despite losing his chance at the win, third place finisher and race pole sitter William Byron continues to lead the 2017 XFINITY Series points battle going into Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Las Vegas 350
As the confetti flew on Saturday afternoon in Dover, the engines began churning for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at another famous track, in a location that is sure to be in the hearts of each of us today: Las Vegas Motor Speedway. While Ryan Truex led the 29-car field to the wave of the green flag, the pole sitter was unable to lead the opening lap.
After, both second and third place starter Johnny Sauter and Chase Briscoe battled for the lead – giving the No. 29 the chance to take the lead and the first stage win in this 146-lap race. This victory was short-lived, however, as the No. 4 of Christopher Bell eventually took over to dominate much of this race for 64 laps.
Despite this dominance, Bell was unable to grab a Playoff victory after ThorSport Racing driver Ben Rhodes took the lead on the final restart to keep Bell from his sixth season victory, while capturing his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win and joining Bell in round six of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs.
“This is the biggest high of my life,” said Rhodes. “So many things have gone wrong and now I here in Victory Lane thanks to using every play in my playbook.”
While both Rhodes and Bell are guaranteed to move into the sixth round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs, the final four spots remain up for grabs at Talladega Superspeedway on October 14.
Apache Warrior 400
Rhodes wasn’t the only driver to take away the win from another dominating driver. While points leader Martin Truex, Jr. drove to the pole for Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400 at Dover International Speedway, two other Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers would lead the Playoff story of this race.
Despite Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson taking the Stage 1 and 2 wins, it was the No. 18 of Kyle Busch and No. 24 of Chase Elliott running head to head in the last 40 laps of Sunday afternoon’s Apache Warrior 400 at Dover’s Monster Mile.
While it appeared that young gun Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott would pull off his first Playoff Series win, he would have to hold off last week’s winner Kyle Busch. Running more than four seconds behind Elliott, Busch eventually powered his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota around the outside of Elliott’s Chevrolet as the two drivers approached the white flag for this 400-lap race to take his second Playoff win in two weeks.
“I hate that I had to take this win away from Elliott, but it was overall a great day for this team,” said Busch. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been in Victory Lane here, and it’s hard to come by wins here because 11-time Dover winner Jimmie Johnson takes up all the darn Monster trophies. It is so nice to have a third or fourth in my collection now.”
Although he had already clinched spots in the 2017 Playoffs before arriving in Dover, Elliott, Johnson, Jamie McMurray (ninth on Sunday), Matt Kenseth (11th), Kevin Harvick (17th), Ryan Blaney (23rd), Denny Hamlin (35th) and Stenhouse (19th) joined them on Sunday.
Stay tuned to RacingJunk.com as the Countdown to the NASCAR Championship continues.