Kyle Busch made NASCAR history with his dominating performance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway winning the Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard Sunday afternoon. Busch’s bid for history started Saturday when he won the NASCAR Xfinity Series Lilly Diabetes 250 from the pole leading all but one lap in the sixty-lap main event. Taking the green flag on the pole Sunday afternoon was the next step. History would be made three hours later when Kyle Busch took the checkered flag and became the first driver in NASCAR history to sweep a weekend’s races from the pole position. However, the win was not without a little late race drama as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver had to survive several late race restarts including the first double overtime since NASCAR’s new rules went into effect this year. Matt Kenseth restarted on the outside of Busch on the final restart but quickly settled into the runner-up position to give JGR a one-two finish. Jimmie Johnson battled back from an early speeding penalty to finish third. Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-5. In his final race at the speedway, Tony Stewart raced up front in the early portion of the race. A pit road speeding penalty that put him a lap down looked to spoil the Columbus, Indiana native’s last race at his “home track.” Stewart battled back to finish eleventh and took a special lap around the track with Jeff Gordon, who finished thirteenth filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr., saluting the fans on their final race at the famed speedway together. The race featured four lead changes among three drivers and eight cautions for thirty-four laps.
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NASCAR has suspended Matt Kenseth, driver of the Number-20 Joe Gibbs Racing Sprint Cup Series Toyota, for two races after he intentionally wrecked Joey Logano late in Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway. In addition, Kenseth has been placed on NASCAR probation for six months that’ll carry well into the first half of next season. He was nine laps down to race leader Logano less than fifty laps from the finish when he drove into the back of the Number-22 Team Penske Ford and sent it into the wall. In a statement released Tuesday evening, Joe Gibbs Racing said Kenseth would appeal the penalty.
He wasn’t the only driver slapped with sanctions for bad behavior at Martinsville. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Danica Patrick was fined fifty thousand dollars and docked twenty-five championship points after purposely crashing into David Gilliland in the closing laps of Sunday’s race.
Next stop Bristol Motor Speeday for Saturday’s IRWIN Tools Night Race, the fourth short-track event of the 2015 Sprint Cup Series. Matt Kenseth, the hottest driver on the circuit, returns as the favorite having won two of the last four races, including the spring race at the track earlier this season. Kyle Busch, who needs solid finishes to maintain his spot in the top-30 in points and in The Chase Grid, has not had the best luck at the Tennessee track, finishing 29th and 36th in his last two attempts. Despite the recent record, he remains a favorite to compete for the win having four victories since the resurfacing of the track in 2007.
Jeff Gordon will make his 46th and final start at the speedway on Saturday night driving his iconic rainbow colored throwback paint scheme. As part of the celebration of Gordon’s career at Bristol, artist Sam Bass has designed a special program cover and the track will hold a salute to the five time winner on lap 24 with specially designed rally towels.
The X-finity Series also visits “Thunder Valley,” for tonight’s Food City 300. Regan Smith will look to win his second straight series race, after a dramatic win last week at the road course at Mid-Ohio. He will be battling for the win not only with series regulars, but also with Sprint Cup Series drivers Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch.
Smith currently sits fourth in points behind Chris Buescher, Ty Dillon and Chase Elliott. Notably absent from the entry list is spring race winner Joey Logano.
The Camping World Truck Series has the weekend off after running Wednesday night in Bristol, where Ryan Blaney claimed the victory. There was news on Thursday with the announcement that veteran racer Alex Tagliani will rejoin Brad Keselowski Racing to drive the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150 in the August 30 Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. Tagliani made his NCWTS debut in 2014 for BKR at the Canadian road course capturing the pole and finishing 16th in his first and only start in the series.
Matt Kenseth made it look easy Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. Starting from the pole, leading 146 of the race’s two hundred laps, and marching to his third win of the season and second in the last three weeks. The margin of victory was one-point-seven seconds over Kevin Harvick. Martin Truex Junior finished third and Austin Dillon came home with a career-best fourth-place finish. Denny Hamlin, one of Kenseth’s teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing, completed the top five with another J-G-R entry.
Carl Edwards … finishing sixth, one day after celebrating his 36th birthday. Kenseth kept his Number-20 Toyota in front over the final twenty-five laps, holding the field at bay through the day’s final restart to notch his thirty-fourth career victory … The race featured NASCAR’s “high-drag” aerodynamic rules package that debuted last month at Indianapolis, with the higher downforce intended to create more competitive racing with increased lead changes.
Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 was the second event for the new package and produced just sixteen lead changes, one fewer than the track’s June race had with standard 2015 rules … Kyle Busch, a four-time winner this year, solidified his eligibility for a post-season Chase berth with an eleventh-place finish that lifted him into twenty-ninth place in the standings.
Busch now enjoys a twenty-three point cushion over Cole Whitt in his bid to remain among the top thirty with just three races left in the regular season … Kurt Busch finished twentieth on Sunday afternoon in his bid for a season sweep on the Irish Hills oval.
Matt Kenseth played the fuel-mileage game to perfection Sunday at Pocono Raceway, outlasting Joey Logano and Kyle Busch to record his second victory of the season – snapping Busch’s three-race winning streak but at the same time, extending Joe Gibbs Racing’s run of summertime success. Dating back to NASCAR’s All-Star Race in mid-May, J-G-R has now won seven of the last eleven Sprint Cup Series races.
Kenseth led just two laps Sunday, one at mid-race and the other at the end of the day in notching career win Number-33. Logano led a race-high ninety-seven laps but his fuel tank ran dry less than three laps from the finish.
He yielded the lead to Busch, who took the white flag in first place but the checkered flag in twenty-first place after running out of gas on his final trip around “The Tricky Triangle” and coasting to a stop. Busch was attempting to become the first driver to win four straight Cup Series races since Jimmie Johnson in 2007 and carried a sixteen-second lead over Kenseth into Sunday’s final lap.
Jeff Gordon rode home in third place with Dale Earnhardt Junior and Greg Biffle completing the top five. Johnson’s sixth-place finish gave Hendrick Motorsports three of the top six spots. Busch started from the pole and led three times for nineteen laps.
Despite his late-race misfortune, he is now just thirteen points outside the top thirty – where Busch needs to be in order to become eligible for a berth in the post-season Chase. He remains in thirty-second place. Sunday’s race included eighteen lead changes, six more than in this year’s first stop at Pocono on June 7th.
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