Hey everyone! My name is Kaleb Vestal from Nevada, Mo., and I love motorsports. From B Mods to IndyCars, and from Late Models to the NASCAR Cup Series, I am always watching, learning, and loving racing. I am also the Head Sports Editor/Reporter for the Nevada Daily Mail newspaper in Nevada, Mo. For business inquires if you are needing a Social Media Manager, PR rep, or an ambitious Journalist to come up with new ideas, you can contact me at (417) 321-9392, my email [email protected], or shoot me a message on Twitter @kalebvestal1. Hope to see you at a track real soon!
When you think of race car drivers, you think they have the world at their fingertips. A fancy house, a private jet, and a multi-million dollar contract to drive cars 200 miles per hour. That's how most view the life of a driver. But what about the ones who don’t have the funds to compete for wins week to week? What about the ones who don’t have the new things that some teams do? What about the ones who have other jobs to support their racing career?
Meet Alex Clubb, a 31 year old who runs A. Clubb Landscaping, a landscaping company in his hometown of Morris, Ill., located in the southwest Chicago metropolitan area. Clubb also drives the No. 03 Ford Fusion in the ARCA Menards Series for his own race team Clubb Racing Inc.
Clubb didn’t come from money or fame; he just had a dream. “I probably started watching Days of Thunder on repeat when I was three,” quoted Clubb. “Ever since then I knew I wanted to race in the Cup Series. My parents got me a go kart for the back yard when I was four. My grandpa John Clubb and my dad Brian Clubb both raced as well as my uncles Bob, Tim, and Jonathan, as well as many other cousins. We have a huge racing family.”
Clubb mainly raced at local tracks like Grundy Speedway, Lasalle Speedway, Fairbury Speedway, Farmer City Raceway, Illiana Motor Speedway, and Rockford Speedway. He also won three separate track championships in a Champ Cart in 2003 at Jules Raceway, a Hornet Championship at Lasalle, and an Ump Stock Car Championship in 2012 at Fairbury.
Racing locally wasn’t what Alex wanted to do. For the long term future. He wanted to race on a national platform, and ARCA is where he felt he could achieve his dreams. “ARCA was as close to my dream of racing on a national platform,” said Clubb. He then started to explore his options in 2014, and landed at Carter 2 Motorsports in 2015.
After three starts in the season that included two in his home state in Illinois (Duquoin State Fair and the Springfield Mile) and earning two DNF's at Duquoin Speedway and Winchester Speedway and a 17th place finish at Springfield Mile, Clubb took 2016 off and built his own race cars for the 2017 season, where he would compete under his own team known as Clubb Racing Inc. From 2017 to 2021, Clubb only ran a handful of races, but that wasn’t enough for him. In 2022, Clubb Racing Inc. made the decision to compete the full ARCA Menard Series schedule.
Clubb didn’t drive all 20 starts in 2022, but instead gave the opportunity to new up incoming drivers who wanted their name out there. Brayton Laster, Josh White, Rita Thompson, and Casey Carden all made at least one or two starts in the No. 03 Ford Fusion.
“Brayton (Laster) running for Mullins Racing in our car for his two races made the other 18 possible for us,” quoted Clubb. “For that I am very grateful. Josh (White) was supposed to run three races for us but due to his crash at Charlotte and his primary sponsor deal drying up, he only made one start. Rita (Thompson) seemed to have potential but it unfortunately didn’t work out for her or us at the end of the day.”
But one driver stood out to Clubb, one that he called his favorite one to work with. That would be the gentleman that rebounded at Mid Ohio after having brake issues on lap one to finish 15th at Watkins Glen, Casey Carden. He’s the kind of guy that you wish funding was available to put him in the car for the full season. “He listens, adapts well, and has great feedback on what the car needs,” Clubb stated. “Most racers these days don’t have that.”
Clubb plans on running the full 2023 ARCA Menard Series schedule for the second time in his career. One thing he needs to have to complete the 20 race schedule is funding. “I am excited for the 2023 race season. I know this year will be a lot better, but it has to make sense and I want to be a lot more competitive.”
But since the 2023 race season doesn’t start until the beginning of February, Clubb has been focusing on his landscaping business back home in Illinois. “I missed a lot of time this year with my business; Probably two full months of work. so I’ve been doing a lot of catching up and helping the guys. When you’re a blue-collar guy there is never an off season.”
Clubb has a wife (Ashlee) and a two year old son (Parker) that live in Morris, Ill., and do everything they can to help Alex achieve his dreams of being a professional race car driver. “She isn’t super happy with the racing, but she understands it's my passion. We met at a race track and started dating in 8th grade. I think she is ready for me to retire, but we know that isn’t going to happen.”
Clubb thinks that the racing bug has already bitten Parker. “He is picking up on things quickly and he definitely has the bug. He seems to really like racing and always wants to sit in our race cars. He even went as Lightning McQueen this year for Halloween. I hope 13 years down the road we are still in ARCA but that’s a long time from now. I do know that when he turns five in a couple years, I want to try him in the baby champ class at Kankakee Speedway.”
Talking about the future of Clubb Racing Inc. Alex made it clear that this isn’t just a throw away project for him. Clubb has goals for his teams for the future. “My goal as a team is to over time acquire better equipment and be able to run on the lead lap. In a perfect world I would love to expand to a two car team full time. For me, the 20 race schedule is perfect. Most races are close to us in Illinois, and I can still run my Landscaping business as well as be home most of the time on weekends.”
Clubb also said that he wouldn’t mind staying in ARCA. “I plan to stay put for as long as I can do it. I wouldn’t mind a NASCAR Craftsman Truck in the future, but it's not possible in the near future. If I can be an ARCA driver for life, that’s fine with me.”
If their is anything Alex Clubb proves, it's that you don’t need to come from money or fame to become a race car driver. Instead, he proves that with hard work, and passion, you can achieve your goals in life.
What started out as a bright and hopeful day for the sport of NASCAR turned dark quickly within hours before the final race of the 2022 season began. It was announced by 23XI Racing that Ty Gibbs, who won the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship nearly 12 hours before, would not be racing due to a family emergency. It was later confirmed that Coy Gibbs, part owner of his fathers NASCAR team Joe Gibbs Racing and father to Ty, had suddenly passed away early Sunday morning in his sleep. Daniel Hemric, who drove for JGR in the Xfinity Series in 2021, filled in for Ty for the NASCAR Championship race Sunday.
Joe Gibbs Racing released a statement Sunday afternoon saying, “It is with great sorrow that Joe Gibbs Racing confirms that Coy Gibbs (co-owner) went to be with the Lord in his sleep last night. The family appreciates all the thoughts and prayers and asks for privacy at this time.” Coy, who actually drove in the Xfinity and Truck Series back in the early 2000’s for his fathers team, was at Phoenix Raceway, where the top three NASCAR national touring series were hosting their championship races. Coy spoke to the media after his son Ty captured the title in the Xfinity Series Saturday evening.
On watching his son go through the tough week of trying to capture the title, Coy stated to the media, “I’m definitely proud of him. I mean, I’ve always got his back as his father. Obviously it’s heartbreaking to go through tough stuff and watch — it’s actually more heartbreaking to watch him go through it. I don’t give a rip; I’m old and don’t care. In fact, I’ve been racing with Chris since we were like 23 or something, so I’ve known him forever. We’ve kind of gone through a bunch of stuff in our life. But to see a kid hurting — and he knows he screwed up; and to go through all that, it’s tough. It’s tough as a parent for sure.”
Joey Logano would end up winning the race and the championship for the NASCAR Cup Series after leading 187 of 312 laps. Logano drove for Joe Gibbs racing from 2009 to 2012, replacing Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Toyota Camry. Now in the No. 22 Ford Mustang for Team Penske, Logano shared his thoughts on the devastating news Sunday.
“I found out before the race, and I still honestly don’t know the details of anything. It’s such an interesting spot as you sit there preparing to run a championship race and then you hear somebody that has been in your life, known for a while — and I still don’t know the details, but it’s just sad. I don’t have words to explain how that is. I feel for Ty more than anything. When you take all the championship racing stuff out, it doesn’t matter at the end of the day. It’s great that we’re up here and we won a championship, but something happens to your family, it doesn’t matter. Like that’s the difference.”
Logano continued on by stating, “For the whole sport, it’s a sad day. For me, it’s a bittersweet type of thing because here we are winning a championship, and here we are one of the people that’s a leader in our sport and someone I’ve known for a while is gone, and I don’t really know how to explain that and how hard that is. Obviously our prayers and thoughts go to the Gibbs family and everyone over at JGR. When you think they’ve had a rough run at it, I couldn’t imagine how Joe feels right now. Yeah, I don’t really know what else to say. It’s hard. I couldn’t imagine. I don’t know what it’s like. But for Ty to lose his dad, that’s just hard.”
Joe Gibbs, a former Head Coach for the Washington Redskins and the owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, has tragically been through the same situation in 2019, when he lost his other son J.D. after battling a degenerative neurological disease. No other information on the death of Coy Gibbs has been released at this time.
Joey Logano, who won the race and the championship at Phoenix Raceway, makes history as one of two currently active Cup Series drivers to have multiple NASCAR Cup Series championships. The 32 year old Team Penske driver captured his second championship after beating out Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell, and Chase Elliott for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship.
“We did it,” quoted Logano talking to NBC Sports after taking the checkered flag.”We’re champions again, yes! Oh, my God, I’m so excited. Thank you to everybody, my team. You guys are amazing. Gave me a good race car, good pit stop there at the end, got us up in front. Boy, that was just intense there at the end. It’s all about championships. That’s what it’s all about, and we worked so hard the last couple weeks trying to put ourselves in position. And everything that happened in 2020, I knew we just wanted to have a solid run and do this today. I can’t thank Ford and Shell-Pennzoil enough for supporting me over the last 10 years, getting us a couple championships today. All our partners at Team Penske, everybody that works on these cars. It’s such a big deal to win these championships. It impacts so many people’s lives.”
Logano would end up leading 187 of 312 laps around the one mile track in the Arizona desert. The 500k race would end up having six cautions for 39 laps, and would have 11 lead changes throughout the duration of the race (2 hours, 58 minutes, and 42 seconds). Logano won the race by beating teammate Ryan Blaney by 0.301 seconds.
Paul Wolfe, who served as crew chief for Logano in his third season for the No. 22 team, told the media his initial mind set after securing the 2022 title. “Probably a bit of relief, to be honest. Gosh, it’s so hard to win these things. I told a few people this before the weekend, we knew we were prepared the best we could be. We had the speed when we unloaded, and it was just — you get into this race and you just don’t want to screw it up. There’s so much work by a lot of people back at the shop and the guys on this team and our teammates. So much goes into it, and you just don’t want to make a mistake during that race.”
Team owner Roger Penske, who for the first time won an IndyCar Championship as well as a NASCAR Championship in the same year, shared his emotions. “What a special weekend for us. I guess what I want to do is say a prayer for Joe Gibbs and his family for the loss he had. That certainly is more important than a win or a championship. I just want him to know we feel that as a team, I do personally, and our family. Joey (Logano) did a great job. You’ve seen what he’s been able to do as he’s come on the team, and for us to have two championships in the same year, that’s what we’re here for. That’s the goal we have every year. I think we’ve been close, but we got it this year.”
NASCAR will be holding its annual season ending banquet in Nashville, Tenn., on Nov. 30th and Dec. 1st, where the champion of all three national touring champions will be recognized in front of the NASCAR community.
No, that isn’t the actual official name for the race, but it could have been after Sunday evening in Fort Worth, Tex. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that was surely the case with caution flags and tire failures in the Fort Worth area. A record number of 16 yellow flags flew on the one and a half mile speedway, shattering the previous record of 13 back in 2014. Brad Keselowski in his No. 6 Ford Mustang started on pole when the green flag waved at 3:49 p.m. Eastern, but Tyler Reddick in his No. 8 Chevy Camaro around 9:30 p.m. later that evening.
“I feel pretty good about this win,” stated Reddick addressing the media. “It felt like a chaotic night for us from the get go. So many things didn’t go right for us. At least two or three times I thought we were going to be crashing into the outside wall in turn one throughout the race. Our car was strong though and we caught a couple of breaks. I knew we were strong but I didn't know where we would finish. It’s great we were able to be in a great position at the end, to have two fresh tires, and to hold on to the lead.”
Tires were the problems for most teams this afternoon, with 10 of the 16 cautions being caused by the right rear tires going down. After the 56 minute lightning delay that the race had in the middle portion of the event, NASCAR allowed teams to adjust the tire pressures in tires from a recommendation from Goodyear to try to eliminate the tire problems. Unfortunately, several more yellows were brought out due to the blow outs from the Goodyear Eagles, and it is fair to say that these exact same style of tires will be used at the next 1.5 mile track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which will be in the round of 8 in the playoffs. Although Vegas doesn’t have the dreadful resin on it’s surface, tires could possibly affect the race.
Senior Vice President for NASCAR Competition Scott Miller talked about the tire failures by saying, “Obviously we saw a lot of tire problems, and we saw a lot of teams that didn’t have tire problems. We’re working through that. Goodyear is working through that with the teams, working through what the setups were, what the air pressures were, to try to get to the bottom of it. There were a lot of teams that reported no problems to us post-race, and they did admit to being a little bit on the conservative side of air pressure and being closer to the suggested minimums that Goodyear recommended.”
Another chaotic moment in the 500 mile tire fall off spectacular, a bit of controversy between Denny Hamlin and William Byron took place in turn four. When the caution came out for Truex Jr, Byron went to show his disapproval on how Hamlin was racing him. The tap Byron put on the No. 11 Toyota Camry sent Hamlin spinning into the infield grass.
Graves talked about the Hamlin/Byron incident by saying, “When we were in the tower, we were paying more attention to the actual cause of the caution up there and dispatching our equipment. The William Byron-Denny Hamlin thing we had no eyes on. We saw Denny go through the grass. By the time we got to a replay that showed the incident well enough to do anything to it, we had gone back to green.” Hamlin was unable to regain his position after the contact, and finished in 10th. Byron stated on pit road that the contact was much harder than he was wanting it to be and he regretted it.
All in all, the race had 36 lead changes with 19 different leaders, an average speed of 114.784 mph, and took four hours, 21 minutes, and 53 seconds to complete. The Cup Series will travel to Talladega Superspeedway to race 500 miles on a 2.667 mile race track of playoff horror. 12 drivers will try to stay in the hunt for the 2022 NASCAR Championship, while trying not to dig themselves into a bigger hole by being in “The Big One.”
Reddicks crew chief Randall Burnett and car owner Richard Childress talked about the mindset of being out of the playoffs and entering two chaotic races of Talladega and the Charlotte Roval, and how they will enter those races. “Win,” quoted Burnett. “That’s what we want to do. We want to try to win as many as we can before the end of the year.” Childress stated a similar comment. “Same here. We just go into Talladega to win. We’ll race just like we normally would there.”
For a driver to have been the first to win four straight Xfinity Series races since Sam Ard did back in 1983, Noah Gragson just wanted to focus on one thing only; a cowboy hat for his Cole Swindell concert he was attending to that night. The 24 year old Las Vegas native can’t party too hard on Saturday evening when rocking out on the big stage, because he will be piloting the No. 16 Chevy Camaro for Kaulig Racing for 500 miles on Sunday at Texas. “I need a cowboy hat,” quoted Gragson in the media center. “I need to dress appropriately for the culture down here. Those last couple of laps, I was thinking, ‘We need to find a strip mall that sells cowboy hats so we can look cool in this concert.’”
The race at Texas Motor Speedway wasn’t one that everyone knew Gragson was going to win, even though he put the Bass Pro Shops Chevy in the lead on three separate occasions for a total of 85 laps led. Early in the race, Truck Series championship contender and last year's winner John Hunter Nemecheck led early and often in the hot sunny track in Texas. He would end up being involved in a crash on lap 116, when a big pile up involving Brandon Jones, Justin Allgaier, and several others took race winning contenders out of the race.
In the 2 hours and 38 minutes it took to complete the 300 mile event, 17 of the 38 drivers entered were wiped out either due to a crash or mechanical problem. If Texas wasn’t in the same round as Talladega and the Charlotte Roval, some would have considered this the wildcard event. With laps winding down, AJ Almendinger, who was also involved in the same pile up as Nemecheck, looked like he was going to have a great shot of winning with the fuel mileage/tire wear kicking into effect. However, with just 17 laps to go in the event, the Dinger had to pit, which left Jeb Burton in the lead until Gragson passed him with new tires.
Saturday evening's win was Gragsons fourth straight since Darlington, seventh overall this year, and 12th overall. However, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who owns JRM, told the media center, “I don’t believe he’s afraid of the spotlight. I think he gets nervous, but he finds ways to calm their nerves down and get focused on winning. He will do great in the Cup, which is something I wouldn't have said until this year since he has matured.” The Xfinity Series will take on the wild and crazy Talladega Superspeedway next Saturday afternoon, for the second race of the Round of 12.
After an upset win as a team owner last week at Bristol with Christopher Buescher, Brad Keselowski in the No. 6 Ford Mustang for RFK Racing won the pole for Sunday's event at Texas Motor Speedway. Keselowski dropped a lap with a time of 28.573 seconds around the mile and a half speedway near Fort Worth, Tex. Keselowski’s last pole came in 2019, a three year drought until this afternoon. Keselowski told the media center, “I think it’s a little unfair that that statistic sticks because we went a whole year without qualifying due to COVID-19. I did really well with the old format of qualifying, but I am just glad the direction RFK Racing is headed in these past couple of weeks. It will be a bright future ahead.”
Brandon Jones, who pilots the No. 19 Toyota Supra for Joe Gibbs Racing will start on the pole for Saturdays running of the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. Jones was the second to last car to qualify for the 300 mile event at Texas, and would put down a 29.089 second lap, knocking off Daniel Hemric from the pole at the moment. Hemric would eventually land in third place for the race, after the last car to qualify of Noah Gragson would land in second. The 2022 Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 at Texas Motor Speedway will kick off at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on USA, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Back in May of this year leaving Kansas Speedway, Bubba Wallace, driver of the No. 23 Toyota Camry for 23XI, watched his teammate Kurt Busch win in the No. 45 after he felt like he could have sealed the deal in the event. Now in September, with Wallace in the No. 45 competing for the owners championship after Kurt is out with concussion-like symptoms, put everything together for a nearly perfect race and won the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas.
“Man, just so proud of this team, so proud of the effort that they put in each and every week,” quoted Wallace after the victory talking to NBC Sports after his victory. “Just thankful for the opportunity, right? Took this jump from an idea two years ago from a text from Denny before it all even happened. He was ready to get the deal done. Appreciate him. Appreciate MJ, Curtis, Gene. Everybody on that side of things, everybody at 23XI. Men and women there, they work their tails off.”
Wallace had to battle Toyota teammate and car owner Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, and would become victorious over his boss. Hamlin told media members on pit lane and said, “I’m really happy for our 11 Toyota team. They fought hard. They really stepped up that last half. We made the car quite a bit better. Just really happy about the outcome and really happy for that No. 45 team and Bubba Wallace and Bootie. Bubba has just really worked hard on his craft, and we've just given him fast race cars, and now he is showing what he has got.”
The race started off with Tyler Reddick, the driver of the No. 8 Chevy Camaro for Richard Childress Racing, starting on pole for the 400 mile event at Kansas City. Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Ford Mustang for Team Penske, took the lead from Reddick on lap one, and would lead until Alex Bowman in the No. 48 Chevy Camaro took lead for the first time on lap three, and wouldn’t give it up until pit stops on the competition caution on lap 25.
Reddick took back the lead after beating everyone on pit road and led the field back to green. On lap 35, playoff driver Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 Ford Mustang for Stewart Haas Racing, smacked the outside wall in turn four and brought out the first natural caution, and would eventually end his day early. Race leader Reddick shockingly ended up wrecking in turn two after a tire issue would plague him early in the race. That issue would send him out of the race, already two favorable playoff divers in trouble heading to Bristol next week.
Another playoff driver in Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 12 Ford Mustang for Team Penske, would have a loose wheel under caution after a pit stop, and would head to the tail end of the field after fixing it. An 11 lap sprint to the green and white checkered flag would have Christopher Bell in the No. 20 Toyota Camry for JGR would lead the way to the end of stage one, and secure 10 points and one playoff point to help him towards a championship hunt.
Six laps after the restart to begin stage two on lap 85, Wallaces teammate, Ty Gibbs in the No. 23 Toyota Camry, would also be another victim of a tire issue at the Kansas Speedway, and would end up taking him out of the race as well. The race would restart with Martin Truex Jr, driver of the No. 19 Toyota Camry for JGR who missed the playoffs for the first time in 2014, lead the way until lap 111.
That same lap, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, a driver who was having a good run in the No. 47 Chevy Camaro for the small team of JTG Daughtery Racing, would have a tire related issue on the back stretch and would put him several laps down in the 400 mile event. A big multi-car crash containing the driver of the No. 7 of Corey Lajoie, No. 21 Harrison Burton, and the No. 10 of Aric Almirola in turn one, brought out the 7th yellow of the event. When the race went back to green condition, the lead changed to the No. 24 of William Byron, who drives a Chevy Camaro for Hendrick Motorsports, and would lead until lap 120, when his teammate Bowman would take the lead of the field once again.
Bowman would lead once again for a while this time, and even led during the spin Kyle Busch had in the No. 18 Toyota Camry for JGR in turn four. That spin along with several other issues, would keep Busch from running well in the event, eventually finishing in the 26th position two laps down. Bowman would continue to lead to the end of stage two where he won, and would lead all the way up to lap 200.
Wallace led for the first time in a 15 lap span from lap 200-215, until Bowman chased him back down. Wallace would take the lead one final time on lap 225 after green flag pit stops, and he would be able to keep it till the checkered flag. But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for the No. 45 team. Wallace had to defend off his boss Hamlin and Bell for the final 25 laps of the event. Wallace knew if he made even the slightest mistake, his chance to win would be over. But what comes around goes around, and that was certainly the case for Wallace after a strong performance in May. Bubba Wallace would make history as being the only black multi winner in NASCAR after winning the Hollywood Casino 400.
Wallace, talking to the folks in the media center, wanted to remind them that he hasn’t forgotten about the original driver for the No. 45. First of all for Kurt, I hate the scenario that we're in with him, but he has been nothing but an advocate and a leader in these moments for us. When we get back to our Monday morning meetings, he is there giving insight on how to be better. I appreciate him for that. It's taught me how to be better off the racetrack, let alone on the racetrack. And the conversation I had with him in victory lane was really special. He just talked about believing in self, and he always believed in me, and so I thought that was pretty special.”
Hamlin, in the press conference as the owner of Wallace's race winning ride, describes the way 23XI Racing has a plan for the next five years on being a championship organization. “We've got a lot of great things in the works in a few years. Hopefully you're going to talk about this team winning on a more regular basis, but never in my wildest dreams would I imagine that we would go out there and have three wins already in just a year and three-quarters.”
Hamlin continues on by saying,” We're really trying to instill a really positive one-team mentality. So by doing that and having an eligibility in the owner's championship, we're able to just pick apart and put our best pieces in each section of a race team to go out and compete at our best. Bubba Wallace was an easy choice for us. Especially the results that he has given us over the last two to three months.”
For the first time since the NASCAR playoff/chase era started in 2004, two non playoff drivers have won the first two races of the 10 race championship hunt (Erik Jones last week at Darlington). Hamlin also mentions how he believes a non playoff driver could win at the Phoenix championship race, and stir up the championship drivers. “Just simply because we used to -- when we used to build our own cars and design our own cars, we would just kind of save the best stuff for the end of the season. Everyone would just kind of front-load a lot of their best people, best parts, best bodies, best cars for the playoffs. There's no secret that really the ones that kept advancing, cars just got faster.”
Next week, the final race of the round of 16 will have everyone on their toes if they can stay in the playoffs and win a championship. Busch, No. 3 Austin Dillon, No. 14 Chase Briscoe, and Harvick are the four drivers out of the round of 12 as of now, but since no driver is locked in, anyone could be eliminated. Saturday night is when the NASCAR Cup Series will take on the Bristol Motor Speedway for the Bass Pro Shops Night Race, and it will be one that is a chaotic, awesome, and crazy event. The race will take the green flag at 7:30 p.m. Est Saturday evening in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, and will be covered live on USA, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Even though the driver of the No. 4 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports John Hunter Nemecheck started on pole and led the race high of 88 laps out of the 134, it wasn’t a snoozefest race in the Heartland of America. Not only did he officially lock himself into the Round of 8 Truck Series playoffs, he also tied his father, Joe Nemecheck, with two wins at the Kansas Speedway.
“It’s really cool,” Nemecheck told the media center Friday evening. “He has two of these Kansas trophies in his trophy case, but he doesn’t have a Truck Series one, just Xfinity and Cup wins here. I have a Truck and Xfinity trophy, and maybe I can go out and get me a Cup Series one someday.” John Hunter also states his love for this track. “I really love this racetrack. I feel like it really suits my driving style with it being multiple grooves, slick, tire falloff. I love any racetrack you can go to and rip the fence.”
While it was a great night for the main Toyota truck team, it was a bad night for second place finisher Carson Hocevar, who barely missed the playoffs by three points below the cut line. Matt Crafton also missed the playoffs and won’t compete for a fourth title. Hocevar’s No. 42 truck team for Niece Sports decided to pit early, and ride out 70 plus laps to try to win the race on strategy. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t pan out on the final lap. “I didn't even believe in the call myself,” Hocevar told MRN post race.
”I was shaking my head on pit road. Phil Gould (Hocevar’s Crew Chief) deserved to win the race. I don't know what else I can do differently. There's no regret. There's disappointment. It's like being a bridesmaid at my own wedding."Another name in the game that looked like he would be a contender was Ty Majeski driving the No. 66 for ThorSport Racing, started in second and led 14 laps from lap 7 to lap 20. He would end up finishing eighth in the Kansas Lottery 200.
Over all, the top 10 finishers in the 200 mile race at Kansas Speedway would be Nemecheck, Hocevar, No. 17 Ryan Preece, No. 38 Zane Smith (Spring winner at Kansas), No. 23 Grant Enfinger, No. 18 Chandler Smith, No. 51 Corey Heim, Majeski, No. 91 Colby Howard, and No. 98 Christian Eckes.
This upcoming Thursday on September 15th, the tough trucks of NASCAR will take on the famous Bristol Motor Speedway for the UNOH 200 Presented by Ohio Logistics. That race will be 200 laps around the World’s Most Famous Half Mile, and will start at 9 p.m. Eastern on FS1.
Josef Newgarden came into the St Louis race weekend as one of the championship favorites, and left as five time winner in the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series and the man to beat witn two races left at Portland and Laguna Seca. Newgarden, piloting the No. 2 Chevy for Team Penske, also scored his third straight win at World Wide Technology Raceway.
“I was elated that we want back racing after the rain delay,” quoted Newgarden in the media center, talking about the two hour and nine minute rain delay that took place on lap 217. “Racing here at night is so much better. The second line on the track came in and produced great racing, and I am just happy for my team. It’s a big night for us on the PPG Chevy for Team Penske.”
Rookie of the year contender David Malukas drove his No. 18 Honda for Dale Coyne Racing, which is based in Malukas hometown of Chicago, Ill., to his best finish of his career of second place. “To do it here in my home state and with a team from my hometown is awesome. My spotter Poncho was helping me out the whole entire night and helped us get second. I was so happy that we managed to go back to the front, because I knew from practice yesterday, we had a great car.”
The race started an hour earlier than scheduled, with the green flag in the air around 6 p.m. Est due to storms looming in the St Louis area. Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevy started on the pole and led a race high of 128 laps of the 260 available. The first caution of the night didn’t come until lap 145, when Jack Harvey in his No. 45 Honda slammed into the outside wall in turn four. Green flag pit stops and strategy was the name of the game throughout the first 200 laps of the event, due to looming weather making its way towards the track. Rain finally hit Gateway on lap 214, and the 500 kilometer race was red flagged on lap 217 at 7:55 p.m. Est for two hours and nine minutes.
The track was finally ready to go around 9:50 p.m., and the engines were restarted around 10 p.m. With 43 laps remaining, time was limited for drivers to make their moves, causing chaos. Newgarden passed his teammate Scott McLaughlin on lap 225, and didn’t let go. But it wasn’t that easy, as McLaughlin and Malukas were catching him with just a few laps remaining. While Malukas did make a daring pass on McLaughlin with two to go on the high side, it wasn’t enough to catch the 2019 IndyCar Champion. Newgarden scored his 25th in the NTT IndyCar Series, tying him with pioneer racer Gordon Johncock. On September 4th, the IndyCar stars will fight it out for the second to last race of the season in Portland, Ore., at Portland International Raceway for the Grand Prix of Portland.