Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Duane Howard, the defending Grandview Speedway NASCAR T.P.Trailers Modified point champion, sidelined early in the Forrest Rogers Memorial race the previous Saturday night with shock problems, was back with a vengeance this time and became the seventh different feature winner this season by taking home the checkered in the 30-lap T.P. Trailers NASCAR Modified Advance Auto Parts feature. It was Howard’s first win of the year at the 1/3-mile oval moving his career win total to 78.

Another defending point champion struggling had been Brad Brightbill. He finally had a change of luck to become the seventh different 25-lap T.P. Truck Equipment NASCAR Sportsman feature winner which was also his first win of the season and 11th career triumph.

Providing the feature winners met the necessary requirements, they received monetary awards from T.P. Trailers and a certificate from VP Fuels for product awards. The Dan’s Deli ½-way hoagie award recipients were Howard and Brightbill. Decker Swinehart earned an extra $100 bonus from the track for being the highest crate engine Sportsman racer to finish.

Polesitter and rookie Darrin Schuler set the pace for seven laps while Mark Kratz, Kenny and Brett Gilmore and Ron Haring Jr. juggled positions behind him. Howard joined the mix with five laps in the books as he advanced from 12th to fifth.

Ron Myers brought out the seventh lap caution when he slowed in the second turn. On the restart Howard, who by this time was running second, put the Norm Hansell owned No. 357 at the head of the pack.

Swapping paint behind him were Doug Manmiller, Craig Von Dohren, Schuler and K. Gilmore which allowed him to open some daylight.

The pack regrouped on the 14th lap when Jared Umbenhauer and Mike Lisowski tangled in the second turn as a result of the cars ahead of them dicing for positions giving no margin to error creating the situation. Despite Manmiller’s attempts to overtake Howard on the restart Howard was still in front.

Mike Gular, on the move from his 21st starting grid after winning the consi and running fifth, brought out the caution. Sparks were coming from his car previously bringing him to a stop in turn two and the yellow to be thrown. As action resumed Howard was off and running with Manmiller, Von Dohren, Briggs Danner and Kevin Hirthler right behind waiting for a Howard false move in hopes of advancement.

Brett Kressley, last week’s feature winner, set up a one lap shoot out when he stopped in the first turn with mechanical problems. Kressley, who went pit side earlier in the event, one of the previous caution periods and rejoined the pack in last, was running a solid fifth when misfortune struck. That didn’t deter Howard as he kept the momentum going and went on to the winner’s circle. Chasing him across the line were Manmiller, Von Dohren, Danner and Ryan Grim. Sixth through tenth were Hirthler, who was the Hard Charger coming from 22nd; K. Gilmore, Umbenhauer, Dillon Steuer, a rookie racer in his first outing; and Justin Grim.

Ray Swinehart, Schuler, Haring Jr. and Eric Biehn won the heats. The consies went to Gular and Hirthler.

Sportsman action saw B.J. Joly finally have a change of luck and show the way for two laps before Brad Arnold spun in the fourth turn for the yellow. Decker Swinehart became the new leader on the restart while Joly, Mike Mammana, Jesse Landis and Brid Brightbill tousled for positions.

By the 11th lap Brightbill advanced to second in pursuit of getting past Swinehart for first.

The red was thrown on the 13th lap after Mark Gaugler rode the second turn wall. When action went green again Brightbill shot past Swinehart on the outside and into the lead.

The battle for second through fifth was now between Swinehart, Mammana, Joly and Jack Butler.

On the 14th lap Mark Kemmerer got into Joly, had him sideways, but Joly somehow saved the car and kept going without an accident, but it cost him several positions as the field went by without incident on their part.

Butler took over second on the 16th lap and set his sights on Brightbill, but his quest ended on the 23rd lap when he pulled into the infield out of competition.

Brightbill never faltered and went on to score the win. Finishing second was Mammana followed by Kemmerer, Swinehart and Brian Hirthler. Rounding out the top ten were Landis, Kyle Smith, Cole Stangle, Joly and Nate Brinker.

Heats were won by Tom Miller, Landis and Nate Mohr. Brinker won the consi.

The 3-lap Diamond Disposal Cash Dash sponsored by Sportsman driver John Mc Govern worth $100 to the winner went to Ryan Beltz. Kemmerer received $75 with Brad Arnold getting $50. Rather than it being heat winners, it was the sixth place finishers competing. Scott Kohler actually finished sixth in the third heat, but opted out which put Kemmerer in the field.

Coming up on Saturday, August 15th, is a tripleheader show featuring the T.P.Trailers NASCAR Modifieds, T.P.Truck Equipment Sportsman and Blast From the Past Vintage racers. Spectator gates open at 5:30 pm. With the first racing event getting the green flag at 7:30 p.m. The weekly Meet & Greet takes place in the main gate area starting at 5 p.m. Adult admission for the tripleheader is $15 while youngsters under 12 are admitted free.

On Saturday, August 22, another exciting doubleheader with Modifieds and Sportsman. And then on Saturday, August 29, Excel 600 Modifieds are combined with the Mods and Sportsman for another exciting tripleheader.

Lap sponsorships, $20 each, for the 50th annual Freedom 76 remain available by contacting Tommy Kramer or Tina Rogers at the track. Several laps have already been claimed for the 50th Annual Classic.

RACE RESULTS

  1. P. Trailers Modified Feature (30-laps): 1. Duane Howard, 2. Doug Manmiller, 3. Craig Von Dohren, 4. Briggs Danner, 5. Ryan Grim, 6. Kevin Hirthler, 7. Kenny Gilmore, 8. Jared Umbenhauer, 9. Dillon Steuer, 10. Justin Grim, 11. Dan Waisempacher, 12. Louden Reimert, 13. Darrin Schuler, 14. Bobby Gunther-Walsh (alternate), 15. Carroll Hine III, 16. Ron Haring Jr., 17. Ron Myers, 18. Mark Kratz, 19. Brett Kressley, 20. Mike Gular, 21. Jeff Strunk, 22. Mike Lisowski, 23. Brad Grim, 24. Ryan Lilick, 25. Brett Gilmore, 26. Kyle Weiss, 27. Richie Hitzler, 28. Eric Biehn. DNS: Ray Swinehart. DNQ: Mark Levy, John Willman, Colt Harris and Dylan Swinehart.

T.P. Trailers Truck Equipment Sportsman Feature (25-laps): 1. Brad Brightbill, 2. Mike Mammana, 3. Mark Kemmerer, 4. Decker Swinehart, 5. Brian Hirthler, 6. Jesse Landis, 7. Kyle Smith, 8. Cole Stangle, 9. B.J. Joly, 10. Nate Brinker, 11. Kyle Lilick, 12. Ryan Beltz, 13. Jimmy Leiby, 14. Brad Arnold, 15. Dakota Kohler, 16. Nathan Mohr, 17. John McGovern, 18. Lex Shive, 19. Jesse Leiby, 20. Chris Esposito, 21. Jack Butler, 22. Kenny Bock, 23. Mark Gaugler, 24. Scott Kohler, 25. Tom Miller. DNQ: Beau Drobot, Chuck Eckert, Nick Faust, Parker Guldin, Ryan Laise, Bryan Rhoads, Steve Young and Jesse Leiby.

Grandview Speedway PR

In front of his hometown crowd, Jonathan Findley earned the biggest victory of his career by capturing his first CARS Late Model Stock Tour triumph Saturday night at Dominion Raceway.

Findley, who grew up in nearby Bristow, Va., had a fast No. 4 Lee Faulk Racing and Development late model throughout the race at the Virginia four-tenths-mile oval.
 
Starting from the 13th position after making a mistake in qualifying, Findley worked his way through the field. By the time the field prepared for a restart on lap 75 Findley was up to third, only to move up to second when one of the cars in front of him hit the pits with a tire problem.
 
After another quick caution for an incident on the restart, the green flag waved again and Findley went right to work battling for the race lead with fellow local driver Mini Tyrrell. Findley emerged with the lead on lap 80 and began to build a gap.
 
A caution on lap 99 erased Findley’s gap, but during the ensuing restart he was able to hold his position as the field battled behind him. Just as Findley was about to lock up the victory, the caution flag waved again with two laps left.
 
Not to be denied, Findley launched from the front row during the restart and pulled away to collect the victory.
 
“I can’t tell you how amazing this feels,” Findley said. “We’ve struggled a bit this year, but tonight we showed everyone what we’re made of. These Lee Faulk Racing guys brought me an amazing race car. Michael and Lee Faulk have a great program and I think this is the first of several wins. Thanks to my parents, my grandparents and everyone that makes this happen, MPM Marketing, Sparrow Ranch on the Island, Solid Rock Carriers, GXS Wraps and Wiley X.”
 
Lee Faulk Racing and Development’s Michael Faulk gave high marks to Findley following the team’s first CARS Late Model Stock Tour victory.
 
“We’re so proud of how hard Jonathan has worked these last few months,” Michael Faulk said. “We’ve been working overtime trying to make sure we give Jonathan the best race car possible and he’s been working just as hard trying to get better in the car. We’ve built a lot of trust in each other these last few weeks it all came together tonight for us. He took care of his equipment and raced hard when he needed to. He made all the right decisions. This is a big victory for him and a big victory for our race team.”
 
MPM PR
Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) announced today that Alex Tagliani will be returning to the organization in a one-race deal to drive the No. 51 Tundra at in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway Road Course on Aug. 16. Tagliani's Toyota will carry co-primary sponsorship from RONA - one of Canada's leading home improvement companies, and VIAGRA. - a personal care product that is available on subscription.
 
The Canadian driver has two poles, 15 laps led, two top-five and three top-10 finishes across five career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series starts, all which have come at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) in Bowmanville, Ont., including a runner-up finish for KBM in last year's event.
Tagliani has competed in two Rolex 24 events on the Daytona Road Course: the 2007 event in the GT class and in 2014 in the Prototype Challenge division.
 
"We finished second last year with the No. 51 Tundra at Mosport (CTMP) and now Kyle and everyone at KBM has provided me with an amazing opportunity to go to the road course at Daytona and try to finish one position better and add another banner to the rafters in their shop," Tagliani said. "There are a lot of guys in the Truck Series that have been able to make a lot of laps around Mosport (CTMP) the last few years, which is a challenging road course, so the laps they've made there in practice and the race are going to pay dividends at a track like Daytona and it's not going to be a walk in the park. I love the track and it's going to be a good battle and exciting for the fans in attendance and watching on television.
 
With everything we have going on with our shortened Pinty's Series season, it's very cool that we are able to bring over our partners from that program - RONA, VIAGRA, CanTorque, St. Hubert and Andy Transport - and add a race to our schedule and get them more exposure. It's kind of interesting that we launched a new partnership with VIAGRA this year and the first race that I will be doing for them is in the states. Also, I want to say a special thanks to Groupe Mach for handling the logistics and allowing me to travel safely to and from United States with the situation that we are in." 
 
In addition to his four Gander Truck Series starts, Tagliani has compiled four poles, 92 laps led, four top-five and five top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 13.0 across eight NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, all on road courses. A full-time competitor in the NASCAR Pinty's Series the last several seasons, the veteran driver has collected nine wins, 10 poles, 36 top-five and 56 top-10 finishes across 81 career starts. He finished second in the championship standings in 2018 and third in 2016.
 
The NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series will be racing for the first time on the 3.57-mile Daytona International Speedway Road Course. The event will be broadcast live on FS1 in the United States and in Canada on RDS at 12:00 p.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 16, prior to the NASCAR Cup Series race that will take place at 3 p.m. ET.
 
KBM PR

Two-time Nut Up Pro Late Model champion Buddy Shepherd of Bakersfield led all 80-laps for his third victory of the 2020 season and twelfth MAVTV-televised Late Model win at Madera Speedway. The victory gives Shepherd nearly 200 laps led through four rounds this season and boosts his points lead to nearly 40 markers over Ross Strmiska.

Shepherd set fast-time in time trials then drew the pole over the 20-car field on hand. Outside polesitter Tyler Herzog, the 2019 Madera Late Model non-televised champion, fell back to third. The first caution flew on lap two followed by Shepherd picking the outside for his first of many restarts against Strmiska. Herzog drifted back to sixth on this restart.

A major multi-car skirmish into turn one involved numerous cars, calling for a red flag on lap five. Tyler Herzog, Austin Herzog, Pete Soto, Glen Cook, Shelden Cooper, Blaine Rocha, Mike Beeler, and Rick Thompson were among the many cars involved. Tyler Herzog, Thompson and Beeler were unable to continue.

Pete Soto lost fluid from his radiator to bring out a caution on lap 22 costing the rookie sixth place. Dylan Zampa used the restart to drive around Ryan Philpott to take third. Iest had an incident with Tim Skoglund that brought out the caution on lap 35 in turn three. Austin Herzog stopped on the front stretch with a mechanical failure on the restart, ending the evening for the 2019 Nut Up Pro Late Model champion.

Coming out of the lap 50 break for adjustments and MAVTV interviews, it was Shepherd continuing to lead Strmiska, Philpott, Dylan and Logan Zampa. Dylan Zampa passed Strmiska for second while Cooper battled with Logan Zampa for sixth. Strmiska grabbed second back on lap 58 and followed that with his best lap of the main event on lap 60.

Rocha came through the field despite significant earlier damage, challenging Philpott for fourth several times over the closing stages of the race. Shepherd won by nearly two seconds over Strmiska, Dylan Zampa, Philpott, and Logan Zampa.

Bradley Erickson claimed his third fast-time of the season and his second consecutive win in the 51FIFTY Jr. Late Models. The 14-year-old from Phoenix, Ariz. started third in the 70-lap feature. Washington’s Kasey Kleyn had a transmission failure coming to the green flag which necessitated a delay for cleanup. Cole Brown led lap one from the outside of polesitter Jake Bollman. Bollman edged forward to lead lap three, however, before Brown took the top spot back on lap five. Bollman then took over on lap seven and cleared Brown.

Bakersfield drivers Seth Wise and Kercie Jung collided for fifth, sending Jung spinning to require a caution on lap 16. Bollman restarted inside of Erickson on the ensuing restart, allowing Erickson to charge past him for the lead. 2019 All American Speedway champion Brody Armtrout challenged Colorado’s Cassidy Hinds for the fifth position up until the lap 40 break. 

Erickson emerged with the lead after the break for adjustments and MAVTV interviews. Kabe McClenny and Hinds tangled for a caution period on lap 43. Brown used the outside line to pass Bollman for second on the restart. Brown attempted to fend off Cody Kiemele before they had an incident in turn two which brought out the caution and relegated both to the rear of the field.

Erickson paced Bollman, Armtrout, a resurgent Jung, and Kale McClenny as the top-five finishers at the conclusion of the feature.

Jeffrey Erickson added to his Phoenix-based family’s trophy case by taking his fourth consecutive Bandolero feature as well. Erickson led the way in the 25-lap feature after a brief challenge on lap four from Wyatt Sansom. Sansom eventually spun into the infield and failed to finish. Erickson led Bakersfield rookie Caden Cordova and Nathaniel Edwards as the top-three finishers. Rebecca Dubie of Tracy won her fourth Mini Cup feature as well, taking the win over Harley Kennealy and Evan Laires in his debut appearance.

Carson City, Nev.’s Nick Halen won the 35-lap INEX Legends of the Pacific, coming from behind after an incident on lap 19. Carlee Austin led the first lap while her brother Cameron Austin was up to second by lap five. A big incident on lap six ended the evening for both Blake Borchers and Wyatt Sansom, with both cars hitting the inside wall on the front stretch.

Cameron Austin took over the lead on lap seven while Carlee fell to sixth. A caution on lap 17 placed Halen on Cameron Austin. Halen took over the lead exiting turn four on lap 19. Cameron Austin crossed him over into turn one and they collided, bringing out the caution and sending both cars to the rear of the field.

Lakeport winner Cody Winchel took over the top position, but Halen made quick work of the field. Halen took over the lead on lap 29, then led the final six laps for victory. Winchel, Bakersfield’s Eddie Garone, Cameron Austin, and Brendan Ruzbarsky rounded out the top-five.

For information about Madera Speedway, visit www.RaceMadera.com  The 2020 season would not be possible without the support of Nut Up Industries, 51FIFTY LTM, Race 2B Drug Free, Competition Carburetion, Hoosier Tires, and Sunoco Race Fuel. 

Madera Speedway PR

Leading start to finish on Saturday night, Australia's Kerry Madsen pocked $15,000 and etched his name into history with his first career victory in the 30th annual My Place Hotels 360 Knoxville Nationals presented by Great Southern Bank.
 
Madsen's first win in 360cid competition at the famed half-mile, the triumph is his first with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by the MAVTV Motorsports Network, making him the 155th winner in series history.
 
"Cody just gave me a fantastic racecar. It was a pleasure to drive," stated Madsen.
 
"Pretty smooth, just a couple minor mistakes, but it seemed like everywhere we went, it would respond, so it was a lot of fun to drive. I just want to thank Tod Quiring and Big Game Motorsports so much. We've been knocking on the door so much this year and couldn't get it over the edge, so it's great to get it for these guys."
 
Battling with Joey Saldana on the initial start, a red for Matt Juhl brought the field back to a complete restart. Bolting to the lead on the restart, the field was under caution on Lap 3 as Lynton Jeffrey slowed.
 
Into the first and second turns with Shane Golobic running next to the No. 2 for a moment, Madsen was able to power away off the cushion. Finding slower traffic as the race progressed to Lap 10, the slower cars did little to slow Madsen, while the race for second through fifth saw positions changing hands. On the move from seventh, Brian Brown worked the show position until Lap 19. Getting by Golobic off the second turn, the No. 17 was stalked by Cory Eliason, who has wheeled the Rudeen Racing No. 26 from 15th to fourth.
 
Making up time on Madsen as the race moved into the closing laps, the runner-up spot looked like the position Brian Brown would have to settle for, but as Madsen steered to the checkered flag, a massive cloud of smoke billowed out of the FVP/Casey's General Stores No. 21, allowing Shane Golobic to race by for second. Cory Eliason's 12 position gain to third earned him the title of Hard Charger. Brock Zearfoss made it to fourth and won an extra $200 as the 2020 Knoxville 360 Nationals JetCo Rookie of the Year. Austin McCarl posted his best career finish in fifth.
 
Joey Saldana ended up sixth with Tim Shaffer in seventh. Tearing through the field from 20th, Aaron Reutzel made it to eighth. Dominic Scelzi crossed ninth with Carson McCarl completing the top-ten.
 
Lynton Jeffrey earned the best appearing car, earning an extra $360 from GDRD. The highest finishing Knoxville Regular was Austin McCarl. He netted $1,000 from the Knoxville 360 Booster Club.
 
A field of 96 drivers took part in the 30th annual My Place Hotels 360 Knoxville Nationals presented by Great Southern Bank from 23 States and three countries (USA, Can., Aust.). Dropping into the Alphabet on Saturday night, the E-Feature went to Lance Norick with Jamie Ball topping the D-Feature. Harli White topped the C-Feature with Matt Juhl winning the B-Feature.
 
The Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by the MAVTV Motorsports Network races next at the Sage Fruit Ultimate Challenge presented by Searsboro Telephone Co. at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa on Sunday, August 9. Gates open at 3:00 P.M. for fans to begin pulling into the infield. Grandstand open at 5:00 P.M. with Hot Laps at 7:00 P.M. and Racing at 7:30 P.M. (C.T.).
 
Southern Iowa Speedway is located at the Southern Iowa Fairgrounds in Oskaloosa, Iowa. For more information, detailed directions, and even history, log onto http://www.oskychallenges.com.
 
For other news, notes, and information on the American Sprint Car Series, from the National Tour to any of the Regional Tours that make up ASCS Nation in 2020, log onto http://www.ascsracing.com, follow on Facebook, on Instagram, and Twitter (@LucasOilASCS).
 
ASCS PR

Gracie Trotter grabbed a career-best runner-up finish in the ARCA Menards Series West on Saturday, leading three Bill McAnally Racing rookies who finished in the top five in the ENEOS / NAPA AUTO PARTS 150 at Douglas County Speedway.

The 18-year-old from Denver, N.C. – making just her sixth series start in the No. 99 ENEOS Toyota Camry – had a previous best finish of third last month at Irwindale.

Trotter, who started fourth on the grid, charged to second early in the race and held onto the spot – despite numerous challenges on multiple restarts following cautions. She was followed across the finish line by Jesse Love, who was third in BMR’s No. 19 NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Camry; and Giovanni Scelzi, who won his first career pole in qualifying, led 15 laps and finished fourth in the BMR No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS/ Curb Records Toyota Camry. Their teammate, Holley Hollan, came home seventh in the No. 50 JBL / NAPA Filters/ NAPA Belts & Hoses Toyota Camry.

“We had a really good Toyota today,” Trotter said. “It was a bit too much on the tight side for me. I wish we could have loosened it up a bit more in practice, but the crew gave me a really good car and we made it work.”

The tight 3/8-mile oval at the Roseburg, Ore., fairgrounds is the kind of track where she does well, Trotter said.

“I’m not really sure, but I do love the shorter bullring type tracks,” she said. “I always seem to figure out these places. I’m not sure why.”

Love, meanwhile, had more of an adventurous day – coming home with some body damage to the front of his Camry.

“We broke a shock mount in qualifying,” he said. “We had to come from seventh to third. The restarts were tricky, because if you got hung up on the top you had to make something happen. It was pretty tough doing that.

“You’ve got to be real aggressive at this place,” he said. “You can gain and lose a lot of momentum in the span of two laps. So, you have to take whatever you can get.

“I want to thank my team, all the guys at Bill McAnally Racing and NAPA Power Premium Plus and Toyota,” he said.

Love was able to retain his lead in the championship standings by a point. Trotter is third in points, with Scelzi fifth and Hollan seventh.

BMR treated a group of guests from the NAPA Distribution Center in Portland to a VIP experience that included garage access and dinner with the team. An NGK VIP crew member was also honored at the race. In addition, ENEOS, BBB Industries, NAPA Filters and Gates Corp., - who were instrumental in their support of the races at Roseburg and Monroe, Wash. – had guests in attendance.

In keeping with state and county regulations, a limited number of fans were allowed to attend Saturday’s race in Roseburg.

Saturday’s race in Roseburg was the second of two consecutive nights of ARCA West racing, following an event at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash., on Friday evening.

BMR PR

Buddy Kofoid placed second, followed by Keith Kunz Motorsports (KKM) teammate Cannon McIntosh in third and Tanner Carrick in fourth as Toyotas captured three of the top four finishing positions at the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Championship feature at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway on the final night of Eastern Midget Week. 

In the early going, it was Petry Motorsports’ Carrick who would take the lead on the opening lap, with Chase Johnson, Tyler Courtney, Chris Windom and Kofoid rounding out the top five.

Despite a number of yellow flags, Carrick was able to hold the lead for the first 13 laps of the 40-lap contest before Courtney would eventually move past him for the lead. Just two laps later, Kofoid would also overtake Carrick for second with Carrick in third. Behind them a hard-charging McIntosh had climbed from the 15th starting position up to fourth by the midway point.

While Courtney and Kofoid began to pull away from the field an intense battle began between Carrick and McIntosh for third. By lap 24, McIntosh had taken the position, only to see Carrick battle back and pass him back on lap 26. The two would trade the position back and forth five times overall before McIntosh would finally take control of the position on lap 32.

After a series of yellow laps slowed the action, one final yellow set up a shootout to the finish between Courtney and Kofoid, with Courtney holding off Kofoid’s late charge to win by 1.074 seconds. McIntosh finished third, followed by Carrick in fourth. Just two spots behind them, 15-year old KKM driver Daison Pursley placed sixth to give Toyota four of the top-six finishers – all teenagers.

Two additional Toyota-powered drivers also earned top-10 finishes with Justin Grant placing seventh and Chase Johnson bringing home an eighth-place finish.

The USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Championship returns to the track for the Night Before the 500 at Lucas Oil Raceway, August 22.  

TRD PR

Matt DiBenedetto and the No. 21 NewFordTech.com Ford team came away from Saturday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway with a 15th-place finish that allowed them to remain in contention for a Playoff berth.

DiBenedetto enters Sunday’s second half of a double-header at Michigan 15th in the Playoff standings with a 40-point cushion. The top 16 teams will start the 10-race, season-ending, championship-deciding Playoffs after five more regular season races.

DiBenedetto and the NewFordTech.com Mustang started Saturday’s 312-mile race from 15th place but struggled early with a loose handling condition. 

Crew chief Greg Erwin and the No. 21 crew made adjustments on early pit stops, then had to deal with tight handling conditions.
 
But as the race, a relatively short one by Cup Series standards, reached the latter stages, DiBenedetto began to work his way forward, moving from outside the top 20 to 15th at the finish.
 
Eddie Wood said the team was able to make the most of a day that didn’t look promising at the beginning.
 
“They struggled with a really loose car at the start but got it better towards the end,” he said. “Track position is important at Michigan, and we never had any all day.
 
“But in the end, Matt, Greg and the team did a good job of competing with the drivers we’re battling for a Playoff spot.”

DiBenedetto and the NewFordTech.com team moved to within one point of Clint Bowyer, who holds the 14th spot in the Playoff standings and are 24 points ahead of William Byron, now in the 16th spot.
 
With the line-up for Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 set by an inversion of the top 20 finishing positions from Saturday’s race, DiBenedetto will start the race from sixth place.
 
The green flag is set to fly just after 4:30 p.m. with TV coverage on NBCSN.

WBR PR

Race Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-40):             

● Cole Custer started 16th and finished 14th.

● On lap eight, Custer reported his Ford Mustang was tight.

● On the lap-16 competition caution, Custer pitted for service from 13th and restarted 22nd. Several cars stayed on the track.

● The rookie driver reported he was a little too free on entry and exit while running 16th on lap 33.

● The California native worked his way up to 14th where he ultimately finished the stage. During the break Custer pitted for fuel, four tires and adjustments.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 41-85):

● Custer started in 15th and finished 11th.

● Halfway through Stage 2, Custer reached the top-10 in the HaasTooling.com/Jacob Construction Mustang.

● On lap 72 Custer reported his Mustang was “starting to get a little tight” and he remained in 10th.

● Late in the stage, Custer slipped to 11th.  

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 86-148):

● Custer started 11th, finished 34th.

● “Too tight in the center,” Custer told the No. 41 crew during the lap-93 caution while in the 14th position.

● Custer pitted to work on his tight handling car during a lap 106 caution. He restarted 22nd after varying pit strategies.

● Another caution on lap 130 and Custer stayed out to restart 17th. He was 20th when the next caution was displayed on lap 143 and didn’t pit.

● On lap 148, spotter Andy Houston reported tire smoke coming from the No. 41 machine. Shortly thereafter, Custer made contact with the wall and took the HaasTooling.com/Jacob Construction Mustang to the garage with severe damage. The accident relegated him to 34th-place finish.

 

Notes:

● Custer made his 24th career NASCAR Cup Series start and his first at Michigan.

● Custer made three career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Michigan prior to moving to the NASCAR Cup Series this year. He finished among the top-12 each time with a best finish of third in 2018.

● Kevin Harvick’s margin of victory over second-place Brad Keselowski was .284 of a second.

● There were nine caution periods for a total of 43 laps.

● Thirty-two of the 39 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.

● Harvick remains the championship leader after the FireKeepers Casino 400 with a 94-point advantage over second-place Keselowski.

● Harvick’s victory in the FireKeepers Casino 400 marked the 82nd overall win for SHR. It was the organization’s 61st points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victory, its sixth of the season and its fifth at Michigan.

● SHR has now won four of the past five races at Michigan. Harvick won at the track in August 2018 and August 2019, and Clint Bowyer won in June 2018. SHR scored its first Michigan win via former driver Kurt Busch in June 2015.

● This was SHR’s milestone 25th NASCAR Cup Series victory with Ford. The team won its first race with Ford when former driver Busch captured the 2017 Daytona 500.

● This was Ford’s series-leading 12th NASCAR Cup Series win of the season and its 698th all-time Cup Series victory.

● This was Ford’s 40th NASCAR Cup Series victory at Michigan and its fifth straight. Harvick won in August 2018 and August 2019, Bowyer won in June 2018, and Joey Logano won in June 2019. The last time Ford won five straight Cup races at Michigan was when Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett combined to sweep in 1996 and then Ernie Irvan and Mark Martin did the same in 1997. Martin capped the streak with his second straight Michigan win in June 1998.

 

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com/Jacob Construction Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“It was a tough end to the day for us. We had a pretty good car and made good adjustments throughout the day. There at the end we just got in dirty air and it was hard to pass. Our HaasTooling.com/Jacob Construction Ford Mustang was good but track position and clean air were so important.”

 

Next Up:

The second event of the NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader at Michigan is the Consumers Energy 400 on Sunday. The race starts at 4:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

 

TSC PR

No. 34 Love's Travel Stops | Martin Transportation Systems Ford Mustang
Started: 21st
Finished: 29th
  • Stage One: 25th
  • Stage Two: 25th
  • Stage Three: 29th
 
  • The No. 34 Love's Travel Stops | MTS (Martin Transportation Systems) Ford Mustang of Michael McDowell took the green flag from the 21st position in race one of the doubleheader weekend at Michigan International Speedway. During the Competition Caution, McDowell told his team that his Ford Mustang was tight in traffic, but loose on its own. Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer would call the No. 34 to pit road for 4 tires and a packer adjustment and McDowell would go on to finish Stage 1 from the 25th position. Under the Stage 1 caution, the No. 34 Love's Travel Stops | MTS Ford Mustang would receive 4 tires, fuel and a trackbar adjustment.
 
  • Stage 2 would run caution-less as McDowell and his No. 34 Love's Travel Stops | MTS Ford Mustang would not gain or lose on positions and finish the second stage, P25. Under caution, McDowell noted that his race car was still a touch loose by itself and a little tight in traffic. He would bring his No. 34 Love's Travel Stops | MTS Ford Mustang to pit road for 4 tires, fuel, a wedge adjustment, pulled packer and added grille tape.
 
  • The final stage of Saturday's 312-mile NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway would see a total of 6 cautions. On Lap 130, the 6th caution of the race would occur and McDowell radioed to tell Blickensderfer that his No. 34 Love's Travel Stops | MTS Ford Mustang was getting better in traffic and "not losing as much behind other cars." He would pit for 4 tires, an air pressure adjustment and fuel before a late-race incident would collect the No. 34, causing heavy right front damage. McDowell would pit for repairs and go on to take the checkered flag in race one of the doubleheader weekend from the 29th position.
 
McDowell on Michigan:
 
  • “It was a difficult day for our No. 34 Love's Travel Stops, Martin Transportation Systems (MTS) Ford Mustang. We didn't fire off like we had hoped, but Drew and the team did a nice job of working on the car all race long and I felt like we had a pretty decent run starting towards the end. Unfortunately we got collected in that last wreck and sustained heavy right front damage and we had to pit for repairs and ultimately brought the car home 29th. But tomorrow's another day and that's what we're focused on. I'm ready to get back behind the wheel for race two of the Michigan doubleheader weekend and score Love's Travel Stops and MTS a solid finish."

FRM PR

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