NASCAR National Series News & Notes - New Hampshire
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
Crowded Chase Bubble Heading Into Dover
The drivers on the Chase bubble must deliver in Sunday's Citizen Soldier 400 cutoff race at Dover International Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN) or they'll be eliminated from NASCAR's playoffs.
Kyle Larson holds the final transfer spot by five points over his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray and Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon. He is also trailed by Tony Stewart (-11) and Chris Buescher (-30).
The rest of the Chase drivers without wins in the Round of 16 have cushier leads over McMurray on the cutoff, but still have not clinched: Brad Keselowski (+35), Kyle Busch (+33), Matt Kenseth (+16), Joey Logano (+21), Denny Hamlin (+19), Jimmie Johnson (+18), Chase Elliott (+16), Carl Edwards (+16) and Kurt Busch (+15).
Larson finished second at Dover in the spring and should be a contender to win on Sunday. Buescher finished 18th, McMurray placed 21st, Dillon came in 33rd and Stewart produced a showing of 34th.
In five career starts at Dover, Larson has logged two top-five and four top-10 finishes for an average showing of 6.2.
Stewart has won at the Monster Mile three times in his career. He also has 11 top fives, 17 top 10s and an average finish of 14.1 in 34 starts there. Stewart last won at Dover in Spring of 2013.
Last season, McMurray was bumped from the Chase at Dover after finishing fourth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. passed McMurray late in the race to tie him in points for the final transfer spot. Earnhardt earned advancement because his high showing of third in the Round of 16 was better than McMurray's top finish of fourth. In 27 career starts at the Monster Mile, McMurray has two top fives seven top 10s and an average finish of 17.4.
Buescher essentially needs to win to on Sunday to advance to the Round of 12. He has only made one Sprint Cup start at Dover (the 18th-place finish earlier this year), but won at the one-mile track in the NASCAR XFINITY Series last season.
Anything can happen in a cutoff race. Last year, Jimmie Johnson, who owns a Dover track-record 10 wins, came into the event with a 27-point edge above the cutoff. He broke a rear axle seal - a part that retails for $5 - forcing him to finish 41st and eliminating him from the Chase.
Dover Clinch Scenarios
Below are the clinch scenarios for Sunday's Chase cutoff race at Dover International Speedway:
Possible to Clinch:
· Brad Keselowski (0 Wins, 2087 Points) - Would clinch on points with 12 Points (29th and no laps led, 30th and led at least one lap, 31st and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 7 Points (34th and no laps led, 35th and led at least one lap, 36th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins.
· Kyle Busch (0 Wins, 2085 Points) - Would clinch on points with 14 Points (27th and no laps led, 28th and led at least one lap, 29th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 9 Points (32nd and no laps led, 33rd and led at least one lap, 34th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins.
· Matt Kenseth (0 Wins, 2078 Points) - Would clinch on points with 20 Points (21st and no laps led, 22nd and led at least one lap, 23rd and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 15 Points (26th and no laps led, 27th and led at least one lap, 28th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins.
· Joey Logano (0 Wins, 2073 Points) - Would clinch on points with 26 Points (15th and no laps led, 16th and led at least one lap, 17th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 21 Points (20th and no laps led, 21st and led at least one lap, 22nd and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins.
· Denny Hamlin (0 Wins, 2071 Points) - Would clinch on points with 28 Points (13th and no laps led, 14th and led at least one lap, 15th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 23 Points (18th and no laps led, 19th and led at least one lap, 20th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins.
· Jimmie Johnson (0 Wins, 2070 Points) - Would clinch on points with 29 Points (12th and no laps led, 13th and led at least one lap, 14th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 24 Points (17th and no laps led, 18th and led at least one lap, 19th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins.
· Chase Elliott (0 Wins, 2068 Points) - Would clinch on points with 31 Points (10th and no laps led, 11th and led at least one lap, 12th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 26 Points (15th and no laps led, 16th and led at least one lap, 17th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins.
· Carl Edwards (0 Wins, 2068 Points) - Would clinch on points with 31 Points (10th and no laps led, 11th and led at least one lap, 12th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 26 Points (15th and no laps led, 16th and led at least one lap, 17th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins.
· Kurt Busch (0 Wins, 2067 Points) - Would clinch on points with 32 Points (9th and no laps led, 10th and led at least one lap, 11th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 27 Points (14th and no laps led, 15th and led at least one lap, 16th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins.
· Kyle Larson (0 Wins, 2057 Points) - If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 37 Points (4th and no laps led, 5th and led at least one lap, 6th and most laps led). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. Could clinch on points with a new winner and help.
For the following, the only guaranteed clinch would be with a win. Each could clinch without a win, but would need varying levels of help, however:
· Jamie McMurray (0 Wins, 2052 Points)
· Austin Dillon (0 Wins, 2052 Points)
· Tony Stewart (0 Wins, 2046 Points)
· Chris Buescher (0 Wins, 2027 Points)
Harvick Advances To Round Of 12 For Third Straight Season
Performing under pressure has become routine for Kevin Harvick.
After digging himself into a hole for the third consecutive Chase by running poorly at Chicagoland, Harvick climbed out of it once again by winning Sunday's Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The No. 4 Chevrolet driver charged to the front from the 20th starting spot at an oval notorious for rewarding track position. He blazed by leader Matt Kenseth on the final restart of the race and led the last three laps for his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series-best-tying (Joey Logano) fifth victory under the new "win and you're in" Chase format implemented in 2014.
The triumph was Harvick's 11th for Stewart-Haas Racing in his 100th start with the organization he joined in 2014 when he won his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.
Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. are the two drivers who have transferred to the Round of 12 so far via victories.
Truex hitting groove at right time
Martin Truex Jr. picked the right time of the season to up his performance.
Since finishing 20th at Michigan, the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing driver has logged four consecutive top-seven finishes, including two wins (Darlington, Chicago) and a third-place result (Richmond).
Truex, who led a race-high 141 laps at New Hampshire, was unable to pass the leader Matt Kenseth in the late stages of the race, wore out his tires, and finished seventh. Still, he transferred to the Chase via his victory at Chicagoland, so he was only racing for a win to block another driver's advancement.
The Mayetta, New Jersey native heads next to his home track - Dover International Speedway - the site of his first career win and place where he finished ninth in the spring.
Kenseth Hopes To Slay Monster Mile For Second Straight Race
Matt Kenseth failed to win his third straight race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, following a valiant effort that produced a runner-up showing. He'll get a chance at redemption in Sunday's Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway where he won in the spring.
At 16 points ahead of Jamie McMurray on the cutoff line, Kenseth can clinch a berth in the Round of 12 without help by finishing 27th with no laps led, 28th with at least one lap led, and 29th with the most laps led if there's a new winner. If there's no new winner, Kenseth can clinch by earning 15 points (26th and no laps led, 27th and led at least one lap, 28th and led most laps).
In 34 starts at Dover, Kenseth claims two wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s and a 14.0 average finish.
Dover Domination: Jimmie Johnson Is The Real Monster In Delaware's Capital
Are we sure Dover International Speedway mascot "Miles The Monster" really isn't Jimmie Johnson in disguise?
The No. 48 Chevrolet driver terrorizes the competition on the track like no other, holding its records in wins (10). He also boasts 15 top fives, 20 top 10s and an average finish of 9.6 in 29 starts there.
Johnson has upped his performance since the Chase started. He placed eighth last weekend at New Hampshire and finished 12th at Chicagoland after leading a race-high 118 laps.
Johnson is attempting to tie NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships record with seven.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Etc.:
Edwards Grabs Six Pack - With his sixth pole of the year at New Hampshire last weekend, Edwards won the Coors Light 6-Pack Award, worth $25,000 to the charity of the driver's choice. "Half of it's going to Speedway Children's Charities and half to the NASCAR Foundation in honor of Betty Jane France," Edwards said. "It's really cool of MillerCoors to do that. It's going to help a lot of people."
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES
Locked In: Sadler's Opening Chase Race Win Guarantees Him A Spot In The Round Of 8
Elliott Sadler cemented his name in racing history this past weekend by winning the very first NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase race at Kentucky Speedway. Not only does Sadler now hold the Chase standings lead, he is also guaranteed a spot in the Round of Eight, which is approaching quickly.
"I think anytime you can put a win on the board it is special, make it the first ever NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase race is special, and it kind of gives us a break the next two weeks so we can go out and race and have fun and be aggressive if we need to," said 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase standings leader Elliott Sadler.
With two tracks left in the Round of 12, Elliott Sadler and his No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro team can find solace in knowing they are moving on to the next round, but they shouldn't let their momentum stagnate. In 27 races this season they have produced three wins, 11 top fives, 24 top 10s and an average finish of 7.0.
The next two tracks of the Round of 12 are Dover International Speedway (Oct. 1 at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN) and Charlotte Motor Speedway (Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN). Sadler has made 17 series starts at Dover posting three top fives, 10 top 10s and an average finish of 12.5. He rallied from a 32nd-place starting position to finish sixth on the 1-mile track earlier this season. Sadler has also made 19 starts at Charlotte posting four top fives and eight top 10s.
Chasers From Second To Eighth Look To Solidify Their Positions To Advance
With the first race of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase in the review mirror, the Chase contenders turn their attention to Dover International Speedway for the Drive Sober 200 on Saturday, Oct. 1 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN). Below is a look at the drivers not locked into the Round of Eight and currently seeded second through eighth in points.
2. Daniel Suarez (2,042 pts.) - No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry - opened the Chase with a second-place finish at Kentucky and is now eight points behind Elliott Sadler in the series lead. Suarez jumped one spot in the Chase standings from third to second after the opening race, placing him 15 points ahead of ninth-place Erik Jones heading into this weekend. Suarez has made three starts at Dover, posting two top 10s and an average finish of 12.7.
3. Brendan Gaughan (2,036 pts.) - No. 61 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro - is one of three drivers this past weekend to make big moves in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase standings, bouncing up four spots from seventh to third on the heels of his sixth-place finish at Kentucky. While Gaughan is in a favorable position, currently inside the top eight in the Chase standings to advance to the next round, he is only nine points ahead of ninth-place Erik Jones. Gaughan has made nine starts at Dover, posting one top 10 and an average finish of 15.3.
4. Ryan Reed (2,034 pts.) - No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang - has become the biggest surprise of the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase after he entered the playoffs seeded 10th in the standings. He posted one of his best finishes of the season (seventh) at Kentucky to jump six spots to fourth in points. Reed has positioned himself nicely to advance to the next round if he can hold onto his current seven-point advantage over ninth-place Erik Jones over these next two races. Reed has made five starts at Dover posting an average finish of 18.8. He finished 14th in this event last season.
5. Darrell Wallace Jr. (2,034 pts.) - No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang - has moved up one spot in the points to fifth following his eighth-place finish at Kentucky last weekend. Wallace is tied in points with his teammate Ryan Reed, but Reed holds the tie breaker - higher finish - over Wallace with his seventh-place finish to Wallace's eighth last weekend. Wallace is seven points ahead of ninth-place Erik Jones heading into Dover this weekend. Wallace has made four starts at Dover posting two poles, one top five and an average finish of 10.5 - including a runner-up finish earlier this season.
6. Justin Allgaier (2,032 pts) - No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro - drops one spot in the Chase standings following a solid run at Kentucky where he finished ninth, proving how competitive this inaugural Chase already is. Allgaier will have his work cut out for him in the next two races of the Round of 12 because he is only five points ahead ninth-place Erik Jones. Watch for Allgaier to excel at Dover this weekend. In 11 starts at the famed 1-mile speedway, he has posted two top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 14.7. Earlier this season he sat on the pole and finished fourth at Dover.
7. Brennan Poole (2,031) - No. 48 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro - hurdled one spot in the Chase standings to seventh following his 10th-place finish in the opening race of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase. Now with a four-point advantage over ninth-place Erik Jones, Poole will need to keep the solid finishes coming if he wants to advance to the next round. Poole has made two starts at Dover posting one top 10 and an average finish of 11.0. Poole is currently the only one of three Sunoco rookies entered in the Chase scheduled to move on to the next round.
8. Blake Koch (2,030) - No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro - leaped from the very last seeding position (12th) to eighth in the Chase standings after he wheeled a solid 11th-place finish at Kentucky last weekend. His four-position jump in the standings has him sitting just inside the cutoff to make it to the next round with a three-point advantage over ninth-place Erik Jones. Koch has made 11 starts at Dover, posting an average finish of 29.5, but don't let that fool you, he posted his career-best finish at Dover (12th) earlier this season.
Desperate Times: Four Drivers Only Have Two Races Before Elimination
The Round of 12 consists of three races (Kentucky, Dover and Charlotte) and following the third race at Charlotte the drivers in positions ninth through 12th without a win will be eliminated from the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase. Below is a look at the four drivers currently facing elimination in the Round of 12 as the series heads to Dover.
9. Erik Jones (2,027 pts.) - No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry - headed into the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase as the all-out favorite to win the title this season with four wins (series-most) and the No. 1 seed, but all that changed this past weekend at Kentucky. After starting on the pole on the 1.5-mile speedway and leading 100 laps, Jones was caught in an accident that relegated him to a 28th-place finish. The result sank his position in the Chase standings eight spots from first to ninth, moving him just outside the cutoff to get to the next round. Now Jones sits three points behind Blake Koch in eighth place in the Chase standings. Luckily for Jones the series heads to Dover International Speedway this weekend, where he won earlier this season. Jones has made two starts at Dover posting one win, two top 10s and an average finish of 5.0. Erik Jones will need to win or move inside the top eight in points to advance to the next round.
10. Ryan Sieg (2,025 pts.) - No. 39 RSS Racing Chevrolet Camaro - dropped one spot in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase standings to 10th following his 16th-place finish at Kentucky. Sieg is currently five points behind eighth-place Blake Koch. Sieg has made five starts at Dover positing an average finish of 16.0. Sieg will need to win or move inside the top eight in the Chase standings to advance to the next round following Charlotte.
11. Brandon Jones (2,015) - No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro - opened race last weekend started with a solid 14th-place starting position and had worked his way inside the top 10 until about halfway through the race he was caught in an accident. The incident didn't take him out of the race, but definitely took him out of contention. Jones ultimately finished 26th and now sits 11th in Chase standings, 15 points behind eighth-place Blake Koch. A win would be a guarantee for Jones to move on to the next round, but he can also point his way into the Round of Eight. However, overcoming the large deficit will be tough to do in just two races. Jones' series debut at Dover earlier this season saw him start 10th and finish 25th.
12. Ty Dillon (2,015) - No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro - resides in last place in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase standings following Kentucky, 15 points behind eighth-place Blake Koch. Dillon was poised to win at Kentucky last weekend after leading 47 laps, but his fortunes turned quickly and with four laps to go, was caught in an accident with fellow Chase contender Erik Jones. Dillon closed out the first race in the 2016 Chase with a 27th-place finish. Now Dillon rolls into Dover looking to rebound. In seven starts on the 1-mile speedway he has posted one top five, five top 10s and an average finish of 12.9. Overcoming the 15-point deficit and moving inside the top eight in the Chase standings is possible for Dillon, but his best bet to move on to the next round would be to win in the next two weeks.
NASCAR XFINITY Series Etc.:
Chase Drivers Dillon, Allgaier Visit Philadelphia - This past Tuesday, NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase drivers Ty Dillon and Justin Allgaier visited the Philadelphia Boy and Girls Club and did some media availabilities leading into this weekend at Dover International Speedway. Content assets from the event can be found on NASCARMedia.com. .
Morgan Shepherd's 400th XFINITY Start - The only active driver who participated in the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series season in 1982, Morgan Shepherd will attempt to become the seventh driver in series history to make 400 or more series starts joining Kenny Wallace (547), Jason Keller (520), Mike Wallace (494), Jeff Green (443), Joe Nemechek (427) and David Green (404). Shepherd's career has amassed 15 wins, 44 top fives, 67 top 10s and six poles in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Shepherd has made 29 series starts at Dover, posting one win (1986), three top fives and an average finish of 27.4. .
Sprint Cup Driver Spoiler Alert - Austin Dillon, Matt DiBenedetto, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano are the four full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers entered this weekend in the NXS Chase race at Dover. Kyle Busch (five - series most) and Joey Logano (four - second-most) are the only two of the four NSCS drivers entered this weekend that have won at Dover.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase Barrels Into Las Vegas
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase heads to Las Vegas on Saturday for its second race and penultimate contest of the Round of 8 - the DC Solar 350 (8:30 ET on FS1).
William Byron enters the race with Chase security, having already advanced to the Round of 6, which begins at Martinsville, by winning last weekend's contest at New Hampshire.
Every Chase driver except for Byron competed in last year's race at Las Vegas. The highest finishing Chaser was Peters (second), followed by Kennedy (third), Nemechek (fourth), Hemric (sixth), Crafton (eighth) and Bell (14th).
Byron Blazes To Sixth Victory, Advances In Chase Following 1-2 KBM Finish
William Byron led a race-high 161-of-175 laps on his way to victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase opener at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He advances to the Round of Six with the win.
Byron's Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate followed him across the line at New Hampshire in second. The 21-year-old Oklahoman has one win, eight top five and 12 top 10s on the season.
Byron, 18, has had a short learning curve in his Sunoco Rookie season. He leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in wins (6), top fives (9), average finish (tied, 9.1), laps led (572) and driver rating (107.0).
Saturday's race will be his Las Vegas debut.
Hemric In Need Of A Win
Arguably the most consistent NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver all season with a series-best 13 top-10 finishes, Daniel Hemric ran into trouble last Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The No. 19 Brad Keselowski racing driver logged his lowest finish of the season (28th), which dropped him to 21 points behind Johnny Sauter on the cutoff line for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase Round of 6.
With two races left until the Round of 6, Hemric pretty much has to win a race, or hope multiple Chase drivers run into trouble. Hemric has never won a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, but does have the talent to do it, evidenced by his six top-three finishes in the last nine races, including a career-best runner-up in the regular season finale at Chicagoland Speedway.
Hemric finished sixth in his lone start at Las Vegas last year and is now running far superior equipment for Brad Keselowski racing.
Homecoming For Spencer Gallagher
Las Vegas native Spencer Gallagher gets to return to Sin City for Saturday's DC Solar 350.
Gallagher began his career racing at the famous Bulling Ring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which also produced Kyle and Kurt Busch.
This season, Gallagher ranks 12th in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points on the strength of six top-10 finishes. His six top 10s tie his total from his Sunoco Rookie year of 2015.
Fun fact: Gallagher is an ordained minister who can marry couples. On Aug. 25, he performed a wedding ceremony at Michigan International Speedway.
In two starts at LVMS, Gallagher has finished 13th and 15th.
Mighty Chicken: Townley Returns To Site Of First Win
John Wes Townley earned the first win of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career when he wheeled his No. 05 Zaxboy's Chevrolet to Victory Lane in last year's DC Solar 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The victory was part of a career season for Townley, who set personal bests with three top fives, nine top 10s and an eighth-place championship finish.
This year, Townley claims just two top 10s and has an average finish of 18.6. He is 15th in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points standings.
GMS Racing Supporting Domestic Violence Awareness
During the month of October, the GMS Racing drivers and teams will show their support for domestic violence awareness in various ways.
Spencer Gallagher will pilot the No. 23 Shade Tree / Noah's Animal House Chevrolet Silverado for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) DC Solar 350 on October 1 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Gallagher's teammates, Johnny Sauter, Ben Kennedy and Grant Enfinger, will all run a purple ribbon decal and all crew members will wear purple ribbons in support of the cause.
"The Shade Tree and Noah's Animal House are both really great organizations and to have them on the truck for the Las Vegas race is a honor," said Spencer Gallagher. "Las Vegas is always a big race for me since it's my home track and to show support to local charities is really rewarding. It's awesome to see the whole GMS Racing team play a role in supporting the cause and raising awareness for domestic violence."
The Shade Tree and Noah's Animal House are two local non-profits that serve families and their pets that are victims of domestic violence in Southern Nevada.
"We are very pleased to spotlight October as Domestic Violence Awareness month with this message on Spencer's truck. What a great way to spread the word to the NASCAR fans, to our Las Vegas community, and to the entire country," says Marlene Richter, Executive Director of The Shade Tree. "Thank you to Spencer and his GMS crew and to all our local supporters for making this happen -- you are performing an important public service and maybe even saving lives. We are also extremely pleased to join with the National Domestic Violence Hotline on this project."