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NASCAR Trucks visit Eldora; XFINITY, Monster Energy Series head to Indianapolis this week

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400

The Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Date: Sunday, July 23

The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET

Radio: IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400 miles (160 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 50),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 100), Final Stage (Ends on lap 160)

NASCAR XFINITY Series

Next Race: Lilly Diabetes 250

The Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Date: Saturday, July 22

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET

Radio: IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 250 miles (100 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 30),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on lap 100)

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Next Race: Eldora Dirt Derby

The Place: Eldora Speedway

The Date: Wednesday, July 19

The Time: 9:30 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Business, 9 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 75 miles (150 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 40),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 150)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Denny Delivers: Hamlin Sends Joe Gibbs Racing To Victory Lane For First Time This Season

Denny Hamlin led 54 laps in his backup car, beating second-place Kyle Larson to the start/finish line by .509 seconds to deliver Joe Gibbs Racing its first visit to Victory Lane this season in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

 

The win was the 30th of Hamlin’s career and his third at New Hampshire. He had not won a race in 28 starts since taking the checkered flag in last year’s season finale at Richmond International Raceway. The No. 11 Toyota driver becomes the 25th driver to win 30 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. Of note: All non-active drivers with more than 30 Monster Energy Series wins who have been eligible for enshrinement are in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

 

JGR’s struggle to get a win was perplexing considering the organization racked up a series-best 12 victories in 2016, and Martin Truex Jr. from JGR technical partner Furniture Row Racing has tallied three checkered flags and 14 stage wins this season.

 

Hamlin will attempt to continue the momentum for JGR in Sunday’s Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). In 11 starts at Indy, Hamlin has four top fives, six top 10s and a 13.4 average finish. He placed fourth at The Brickyard last year and claims three consecutive top-five finishes there.

Triple Threat: Kyle Busch Tries For Third Straight Brickyard Win

Kyle Busch will try to capture the second straight win for Joe Gibbs Racing when he goes for his third consecutive victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday.

 

In addition to winning the last two races at the Brickyard, Busch has placed in the top-two there in four of the last five races. In 12 career Indy starts, Busch has two wins, five top fives, 10 top 10s and a 9.0 average finish (second-best).

 

Among active drivers at Indianapolis, Busch has the second-best average running position (10.8) and driver rating (105.5).

Busch has won at least one race every season since he began running in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series full-time in 2005.

Hometown Hoosier: South Bend’s Ryan Newman Hopes For Another Indy Win

South Bend, Indiana’s own Ryan Newman returns to his home track for Sunday’s Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400. In 16 starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Newman has one win, two top fives and three top 10s.

 

The No. 31 Richard Childress Racing driver virtually secured a spot in the Monster Energy Series playoffs by winning at Phoenix earlier this season.

Larson Dazzles With Ability To Mow Through The Field

Starting from the back the last two races hasn’t been a problem for Kyle Larson. At Kentucky, he began the race 40th and finished runner-up. A week later, Larson placed runner-up again after starting 39th. In the two races, he completed a combined 177 green flag passes (90, Kentucky; 87, New Hampshire).

 

The No. 42 Chevrolet driver is enjoying a breakout fourth full-time season. Through 20 races, he boasts two wins, seven runner-ups, nine top fives and 12 top 10s. Larson sits second in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings, 38 markers behind leader Martin Truex Jr. He also ranks second in average running position (8.8), driver rating (106.2).

 

Larson has finished in the top 10 in all three of his starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including a career track-best fifth-place showing last season.

Johnson Hopes To Pick Up Another Indy Win

Not many drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series are better than Jimmie Johnson, period. Not many drivers are better than Johnson at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, either.

 

The No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet pilot leads active competitors at the 2.5-mile track with four wins. He also has six top fives, seven top 10s and a 14.6 average finish in 15 career starts at The Brickyard.

 

Johnson’s performance has trailed off lately with only two top-10 finishes (both 10th) since winning at Dover six races ago, but he still is tied for the series lead with three wins and ranks second with 16 playoff points.

 

He is one win away from tying Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for fourth on the all-time list with 84 victories.

 

7 Races Left Until Playoffs

Seven races remain for drivers to earn berths in NASCAR’s playoffs.

 

The following drivers would get in if the season ended today: Martin Truex Jr. (three wins, 28 playoff points), Jimmie Johnson (three, 16), Kyle Larson (two, 13), Brad Keselowski (two, 13), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (two, 10), Kevin Harvick (one, eight), Ryan Blaney (one, eight), Denny Hamlin (one, seven), Kurt Busch (one, five), Ryan Newman (one, five), Austin Dillon (one, five), Kyle Busch (178 points above Joey Logano on the cutoff line, five playoff points), Chase Elliott (+115, two), Jamie McMurray (+100), Clint Bowyer (+54), Matt Kenseth (+42, two).

 

The first four out would be: Logano (42 below Matt Kenseth on the cutoff line), Erik Jones (-97), Daniel Suarez (-120) and Trevor Bayne (-155).

 

Remember, a win gets a driver into the playoffs. Below is a list of winless drivers who have visited Victory Lane at upcoming tracks:

Indianapolis: Ky. Busch, McMurray, Paul Menard

Pocono: Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Chris Buescher

Watkins Glen: Ky. Busch, AJ Allmendinger

Michigan: Ky. Busch, Earnhardt Jr., Kenseth, Kahne

Bristol: Ky. Busch, Kenseth, Earnhardt Jr., Kahne

Darlington: Ky. Busch, Kenseth

Richmond: Ky. Busch, Kenseth, Bowyer, Earnhardt Jr., Kahne

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Indy Set For NASCAR Fan Fest: The annual IMS Hauler Parade returns, featuring a special “NASCAR Fan Fest” that will bring the stars of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to Speedway’s Main Street for an afternoon of fun and engaging events this Friday. Nine drivers will participate in interactive fan activities including, but not limited to, the Hauler Parade, pit-stop contests and a relay challenge with young fans.

 

Jeff Gordon To Drive Pace Car For Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400: Four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon will serve as the honorary pace car driver for Sunday’s Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gordon is third on the all-time Monster Energy Series wins list with 93 victories.

 

 

NASCAR XFINITY Series

New Competition Package Highlights The Return To Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The NASCAR XFINITY Series returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the sixth annual running of the Lily Diabetes 250 this Saturday, July 22 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), but this time the teams and competitors will be working with a new competition package specific for this event.

Designed specifically for the 100-lap race at Indianapolis the modifications are as follows:

  • The 2016 spoiler and splitter will be reimplemented (teams must run the ear flaps on both sides)
  • New aero ducts will be supplied by NASCAR at the track, and will be attached to the front bumper
  • A 7/8-inch restrictor plate will be used.

The new package is designed to create close racing and passing opportunities for competitors. The key to the package are the aero ducts, which will move air out of the front wheel wells and create a larger wake (punch a bigger hole in the air behind the vehicle). This will increase the draft envelope by approximately 25%, which will allow the trailing car to race closer to the leading car.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Is A Record Breaking Playground For Kyle Busch

The list of accolades that follow Kyle Busch’s name in the NASCAR XFINITY Series is quite long, and this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway the Las Vegas, Nevada, native looks to add a couple more records to the list.  First off, he will attempt to become the first driver in series history to win five consecutive poles (he has four: 2013-2016) at a single track. Then, if he accomplishes that feat, he will try his hand at becoming the first driver in series history to win three consecutive races from the pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kyle Busch already leads the series in wins at Indianapolis with three (2013, ’15 and ’16); Brad Keselowski (2012) and Ty Dillon (2014) are the only drivers to win in the series at IMS.

Busch has been dominant at IMS in his five starts. He leads the series in poles (four), wins (three), top fives (four), average starting position (1.2), average finishing position (5.4) and laps led (268).

Keep in mind, Busch became the first driver to sweep both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at IMS from the pole last season.

Playoff Bubble: Who Is In And Who Is Out Following New Hampshire

With just nine races left until the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs, time is running out for drivers and teams to lock themselves into the post-season.

Three drivers are locked in on wins (William Byron, Justin Allgaier and Ryan Reed), leaving nine spots up for grabs.

Five of the nine winless championship contending drivers currently in on points have built such large point leads over the 13th-place driver in the standings it would take a major collapse for them not to make it into the post-season – Elliott Sadler (+331 points ahead of 13th), Brennan Poole (+139), Daniel Hemric (+132), Cole Custer (+107) and Matt Tifft (+98).

The next two drivers, Michael Annett (+66) and Dakoda Armstrong (+62) have also put a sizable difference between themselves and 13th place, but are not out of the woods yet.

The two drivers sitting right on top of the playoff bubble following New Hampshire are Blake Koch (+35) and Brendan Gaughan (+9) as both are currently in on points but a poor finish could change that.

Ryan Sieg is sitting in the first spot outside of the playoffs in 13th, just nine points back from Gaughan. JJ Yeley is also in the hunt for the final playoff spot as he is just 15 points behind Gaughan.

Of the nine drivers currently in the playoffs on points but without a win, three will be making their series track debut at Indianapolis this weekend – Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer and Matt Tifft.

Of the aforementioned drivers, who has the best chance to break through and get their first win of the season this weekend? Here are their average finishing positions at IMS – Michael Annett (7.5), Elliott Sadler (10.8), Brennan Poole (11.0), Brendan Gaughan (16.0), Ryan Sieg (18.0), Dakoda Armstrong (18.7), JJ Yeley (24.5) and Blake Koch (30.7).

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

The House That Tony Stewart Built

Eldora Speedway is a half-mile dirt racing facility located in western Ohio. The facility is owned by three-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, Tony Stewart. Stewart, an Indiana native, purchased the neighboring state dirt track from Earl Baltes in 2004.

 

Eldora Speedway has hosted four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series since the 2013 season.

 

In those four races, there have been four different winners.

 

Starting with the most recent, below are the four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winners at Eldora Speedway:

 

Winner                       Date

Kyle Larson                 07/20/2016

Christopher Bell          07/22/2015

Darrell Wallace Jr.       07/23/2014

Austin Dillon                07/24/2013

 

Three of the four Eldora Speedway winners are currently full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers or have made starts in the series this season. Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing) and Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing) both have Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins this season and have qualified for the playoffs, while Darrell Wallace Jr. spent time in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford filling in for the injured Aric Almirola.

 

Christopher Bell, who won at Eldora in 2015, is a rising NASCAR star with five career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins. He has also made two NASCAR XFINITY Series starts this season.

 

One thing to watch this week at Eldora? The finish. Over the last two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Eldora, the margin of victory has been nearly identical.

In 2016, Larson beat out Bell by 0.767 of a second.

 

In 2015, Bell edged out Bobby Pierce by 0.761 of a second in the closest margin of victory in track history in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

A Guide To Eldora
Eldora’s qualifying and race formats differ from the knockout qualifying seen weekly in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series. Below is a guide to how it works.

At Eldora, a random draw determines the qualifying order for two-lap, single-truck qualifying that determines the starting positions for the qualifying races (five races in total). The fastest qualifier earns the Keystone Light Pole Award.

Each of the five qualifying races consist of 10 laps, with only green-flag laps counting. The top five trucks in the two-lap qualifying will start on the pole for their respective qualifying races. The lineups for the qualifying races are filled based on qualifying speeds (sixth competes in the first qualifying race, seventh in the second, eighth in the third, etc.)

The top-five trucks from each qualifying race will transfer to the race. Upon completion of the qualifying races, 25 trucks will earn spots in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.

When the five qualifying races are completed, there will be a last-chance qualifying race. The lineup will be based on finishing position from the qualifying races and the race will be 15 laps with only green flag laps counting. The top two finishers transfer to the race, where they will start in positions 26-27.

The 28th-31st starting positions go to the highest-ranking eligible trucks in owner points that have not already earned a starting position through qualifying.

The 32nd starting position goes to the most recent eligible past series champion; if that position is not filled by an eligible champion, it will be assigned based upon owner points.

The race will be 150 laps divided into three stages: Stage 1 ends on lap 40, Stage 2 ends on lap 90, and the Final Stage ends on lap 150. During the competition cautions at the stage breaks on Lap 40 and Lap 90, caution laps will not count and positions cannot be improved on pit road.

 

Teams are not required to pit during the competition cautions. Those teams that do not elect to pit may remain on the track and start in front of the pitting teams.

Bell Looking To Ring In Pay Dirt At Eldora

Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Christopher Bell is widely considered a dirt dynamo. He grew up in Oklahoma and got his start in racing with sprint cars in 2011. In 2013, Bell won the USAC National Midget Championship and in 2014, he won 24 Quarter Midget races and 26 total dirt races, including the Turkey Night Grand Prix.

 

In 2015, Bell appeared in seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races with Kyle Busch Motorsports and won his first career race at … Eldora Speedway.

 

Bell got a full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series ride with Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2016 and would prove how good he is on dirt tracks as he finished second at Eldora to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson.

 

During the 2016 NASCAR off-season, in what’s highly regarded as the “Super Bowl of midget racing,” Bell won the 2017 Chili Bowl Nationals.

 

When asked about his career thus far after winning his third NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race this season last Thursday at Kentucky, Bell was proud that he’s been able to race cars at all levels and be successful.

“Being successful in multiple cars is something I’ve felt like I’ve done my entire career and I want to continue that. It’s why Kyle Larson is where is he is today, because he’s won in everything he’s got in. I want to continue that for my personal goals – to continue to win in everything I drive.”

 

When asked if he has an advantage at Eldora in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series truck, Bell was not shy in his answer.

 

“Eldora is different. The trucks are hard to drive. I enjoy it because I have an advantage whenever I go there over the other guys. I call it the week of Eldora now because I’ve been able to run the Kings Royal before the truck race. The week of Eldora is my second favorite week of the year besides the Chili Bowl.”

 

You can find the audio from that post-race media availability here.

 

Bell will be looking for his second career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Eldora Speedway this Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET on FOX Business Network, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and his third-consecutive top-two finish.

Briscoe Hoping To Dig Deep At Eldora

Brad Keselowski Racing driver Chase Briscoe will be racing close to home this week at Eldora Speedway. Briscoe, a native of Mitchell, Indiana, is looking for his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win when he makes his series debut at Eldora Wednesday night (9:30 p.m. ET on FOX Business Network, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

In a NASCAR teleconference with fellow NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Christopher Bell, Briscoe was eager to make his debut at a dirt track he visited frequently as a kid.

 

“This is the one track I have been looking forward to racing at more than any. I have been going there ever since I was little. Eldora is a Daytona or Indianapolis for us dirt guys, it will definitely be an honor for us come Wednesday.”

 

You can find the audio from that teleconference here.

 

Briscoe is a co-leader in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points standings with ThorSport Racing driver Grant Enfinger. The two are tied at 125 points apiece heading into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora.

 

Briscoe has had a strong Sunoco Rookie campaign through 10 races this season. He has four top fives, five top 10s, two Keystone Light Poles and has led 105 laps. Briscoe has yet to finish outside the top-25 this season.

 

He currently sits third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points standings.

 

Reigning Champion Looking To Enjoy Eldora

Defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter is having another championship-like run through 10 races this season.

 

Sauter has one win (Dover), seven top fives, nine top 10s and 316 laps led. He has yet to finish outside the top-15 this season.

 

But there’s one thing that the champ has yet to master… dirt.

 

In his four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Eldora Speedway, Sauter has finished 13th (2016), 22nd (2015), eighth (2014) and 29th (2013).

 

This year, Sauter is looking to have fun at the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ only stop at a dirt track. When asked about his mindset going into Eldora, he responded:

 

“Eldora is a little bit of a different situation for me. I have fun at Eldora, it’s a great atmosphere with a lot of good fans. My mindset there is to have fun. If we can stay out of trouble, we could be there in the end.”

 

But just because he’s looking to have fun at Eldora, doesn’t mean he’s not going to compete and is preparing for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the dirt track. Sauter was preparing by going to a local dirt-track near his home in Wisconsin.

 

“This week for the first time ever, I have taken it upon myself to try and gear up a dirt car, it’s a street stock. I live in Wisconsin so there’s a dirt track called Beaver Dam Raceway that’s a half-mile track. I want to go over there for four of five hours on Sunday. I can honestly say this is my way of getting prepared on my own.”

 

Sauter will be looking for his first-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Eldora Speedway when he takes his Chevrolet Silverado to the dirt Wednesday night (9:30 p.m. ET on FOX Business Network, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Eldora Speedway Quick Facts

As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Eldora Speedway Wednesday, July 19 (9:30 p.m. ET on FOX Business Network, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), below are some series quick facts at the dirt track:

Races: 4

Pole Winners: 4

Youngest Pole Winner: Erik Jones (07/23/2014 – 18 years, 1 month, 23 days)

Oldest Pole Winner: Ken Schrader (07/24/2013 – 58 years, 1 months, 25 days)

Race Winners: 4

Youngest Winner: Christopher Bell (07/22/2015 – 20 years, 7 months, 6 days)

Oldest Winner: Kyle Larson (07/20/2016 – 23 years, 6 months, 50 days)

Races Won from Pole (or 1st Starting Position): 0

Race Record: Austin Dillon 67.401 mph (07/24/2013)

Qualifying Record: Ken Schrader 91.329 mph (07/24/2013)

 

First Time Diggers At Eldora

There are nine Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders making their track debut at Eldora Speedway in Wednesday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race (9:30 p.m. ET on FOX Business Network, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). They include: Chase Briscoe, Wendell Chavous, Austin Cindric, Cody Coughlin, Grant Enfinger, Stewart Friesen, Noah Gragson, Kaz Grala and Justin Haley.

 

One current NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver won his first career win at Eldora – Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Christopher Bell (07/22/2015).

 

Over the last three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Eldora Speedway, there have been three drivers who have won their first career pole at Eldora.

 

They include Caleb Holman (07/20/2016), Bobby Pierce (07/22/2015) and current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver and former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion (2015) Erik Jones (07/23/2014).

 

Familiar Faces Running Eldora

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Ty Dillon headlines a group of non-NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regulars making starts this week at Eldora Speedway.

 

Dillon will be running in the No. 99 K&L Ready Mix Chevrolet for Matthew Miller at Eldora and will be looking for his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win there. Dillon has three career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Eldora and has one top five and two top 10s.

 

Bobby Pierce will be making his third career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Eldora and has been successful in his last two runs there.

 

He finished a career-best second at Eldora Speedway in 2015 in his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start there.

 

Dirt ace Rico Abreu will make his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start this season at Eldora. Abreu made his track debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Eldora last season and finished third after starting 27th.

Blast From The Past

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series racing at Eldora Speedway remains a popular and special race on the calendar each season for multiple reasons.

 

It’s the only NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race run at dirt track and its unique qualifying format makes it’s a must-watch for racing fans.

 

Both of those reasons combined for a big one in 2013 thanks to Norm Benning when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series made its inaugural trip to Eldora Speedway.

 

In 2013 at Eldora Speedway, Benning had to race his way into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series main event by finishing in the top five during the qualifying races to earn a transfer spot.

 

Benning took fifth in the last chance heat race and provided fans and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitors alike with excitement as he battled Clay Greenfield in the final laps. Both drivers raced hard, but Benning was able to use the outside wall on the final lap to get around and beat Greenfield. Click here to see a video of the moment.

 

With his truck receiving some damage due to his battle in the qualifying race, crew members from other teams assisted Benning in repairing the truck for the main NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event.

 

Benning would go on to finish 26th in the race, but the thrill of an underdog racing his way into the main NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Eldora proved to be true in the first NASCAR national series event at the dirt track.

 

RACE PREVIEWS WRITTEN BY & A COURTESY OF NASCAR COMMUNICATIONS