Paul Menard and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang are set to start Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway from 15th place, although no starting positions are official until after inspection is completed Sunday morning.
Menard toured the tricky, paper-clip-shaped half-mile at 96.884 miles per hour on his fourth lap in the opening round of qualifying Saturday afternoon. That put him 11th fastest and allowed him to advance to Round Two.
In the second round he posted a best lap of 96.699 miles per hour on his fifth lap, which was just .025 seconds per lap shy of being good enough to advance to the final round but left him 15th.
“It’s about where we expected,” Menard said. “We weren’t really strong in qualifying trim in practice, and our first run I thought that we could have picked up for the second round.
“We didn’t do any adjustments and just got pretty tight, so it kept getting faster as I ran, so stayed out a little bit too long probably for brakes, but it was pretty much where we were.”
Eddie Wood said he was encouraged that Menard’s Mustang was just a tick or two of the stopwatch away from a top-12 run in the second qualifying round and that the car performed well in the final practice session. Both practices were held on Saturday prior to qualifying.
Menard’s best lap in “Happy Hour” practice was at 96.538 miles per hour, which was fifth best on the speed chart.
“The car was good in race trim,” Wood said.
The STP 500 is set to get the green flag just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on Fox Sports 1.
With surgical efficiency, Joey Logano continued his domination of knockout qualifying at Martinsville Speedway.
Saving his car and his tires for the final round of Saturday’s time trials at the .526-mile short track, Logano won the pole for Sunday’s STP 500 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) with a lap at 97.830 mph (19.356 seconds).
Driving the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, Logano edged Stewart-Haas Racing Ford driver Aric Almirola (97.643 mph) for the top starting spot by .037 seconds. Brad Keselowski (97.458 mph) qualified third, followed by Kevin Harvick (97.382 mph), as Ford drivers captured the top four positions on the grid.
The Busch Pole Award was Logano’s first of the season, his fifth at Martinsville and the 21st of his career. Logano ran only three laps total in the first two rounds, allowing him to save his tires for a four-lap run in the final round. His last lap was his fastest.
“It’s awesome to get another pole and hopefully we can top it off with another win,” said Logano, who used a victory in last year’s Playoff race at Martinsville as a springboard to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. “This is a fun race. I always look forward to coming up here.”
Logano has earned his five of the last seven contested poles at Martinsville over a nine-race span, with two of the qualifying sessions canceled because of adverse weather.
All told, Fords claimed six of the top 12 starting positions, including Team Penske drivers Logano and Keselowski and all four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers—Almirola, Harvick, Daniel Suarez (10th) and Clint Bowyer (11th). In contrast to Logano’s economical runs, Bowyer had 16 laps on his tires at the end of the final round.
Five-time Martinsville winner Denny Hamlin paced the first two rounds but had to settle for fifth when the starting order for the top 12 drivers was decided. Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. (ninth) were the only Toyota drivers to make the final round.
William Byron was sixth fastest in the money round to lead four Chevrolets in the final 12. He was joined by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson (seventh) and fellow Hendrick Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott (eighth) and Jimmie Johnson (12th), who leads active drivers with nine victories at the paper-clip-shaped track.
Trying for his third straight Cup win on Sunday—not to mention a weekend sweep of the Martinsville races—Saturday’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victor Kyle Busch will start 14th in the STP 500.
“Too loose—just didn’t have it with track conditions today,” said Busch, who opted not to make a mock qualifying run during practice.
For Byron, the sixth-place run was a welcome end to a frustrating day. Early in Saturday’s opening practice, his No. 24 Chevrolet bounced off the outside wall. Byron’s crew spent the rest of the session—and then some—repairing the car.
“I’m kind of optimistic, but we’ve had a rough day,” Byron said after qualifying. “These two-day shows are tough, and we started out with a flat right front (tire) and hit the wall. Then in second practice, we were way behind because we didn’t have enough practice time.
“The guys made a lot of great changes to get it right going into qualifying. We were really struggling over the bumps over both ends, really, and getting on the concrete (in the corners). We’ll see what happens—should be fun.”
- Burton started the 250-lap event from the 18th position but once the green flag dropped began to methodically maneuver towards the front of the field. The second-generation driver had gained five spots by lap six and when the first caution of the race occurred on lap 64 was scored in the 11th position. A lengthy cleanup would bring Stage One to end under caution.
- Burton communicated to crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. that his Safelite Tundra was "tight center and free off" before hitting pit road for four fresh tires, with an air pressure adjustment, and fuel.
- A speedy stop by the over-the-wall crew put Burton in the sixth position when Stage Two went green on lap 79. He had fallen three spots to the ninth position when a one-truck spin slowed the field for the second time on lap 119.
- Hillman Jr. summoned his young driver to pit road for four tires and fuel. Another solid stop placed him eighth for the lap-128 restart.
- He gained two spots once the field went back green and would end Stage Two in the sixth position.
- With two competitors pitting between stages, Burton moved up to the fourth position for the start of the Final Stage on lap 151. In the opening laps of the Final Stage, he communicated that the Safelite Tundra was "tight center" as he settled into the fifth position.
- When the fourth caution of the day slowed the file on lap 189, Hillman Jr. and his crew took the opportunity to put on the final set of sticker tires and make a chassis adjustment to try and improve the handling of their Toyota Tundra.
- The Safelite Tundra was scored in the 12th spot when the field when back green on lap 198. He advanced two spots on the restart and was scored in the 10th spot when the next caution occurred with 40 laps remaining.
- After getting shuffled out of the low lane and losing several spots, Burton was scored in the 14th position when the field was slowed for the sixth time with eight to go.
- The talented teenager was able to muscle his way up three spots to 11th before a caution on the final lap brought and end to the race.
- KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch collected the 54nd win of his NGOTS career and his 201st in NASCAR's top three divisions. Ben Rhodes came home in the runner-up spot while Brett Moffit, Ross Chastain and Stewart Friesen rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured seven cautions for a total of 50 laps. There were eight lead changes among four drivers.
- Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished first
- Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 46 Toyota, finished 14th
- Todd Gilliland, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 15th
Logan Seavey took the lead on lap 12 and led the final 19 laps on the way to his second consecutive victory at the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League’s Turnpike Challenge event at I-44 Riverside Speedway, Saturday night. Tyler Thomas finished second and Christopher Bell was third in a Toyota one-two-three finish.
After winning the past two nights in POWRi competition, Seavey now has three national midget car victories this season, while Toyota-powered drivers have registered nine national midget feature wins in 2019.
The night began with Jerry Coons Jr. driving his Petry Motorsports Toyota into the lead on the green flag, followed by Tucker Klaasmeyer, Seavey, Jake Neuman, Cannon McIntosh and Thomas.
Coons continued to run up front, while Seavey moved past his Keith Kunz Motorsports (KKM) teammate Klaasmeyer on lap seven as Toyota-powered entries held down the top-five running positions with Klaasmeyer in third, McIntosh in fourth and Thomas climbing into fifth.
The race would see a major shake-up on lap 12 as Seavey drove under Coons in turns one and two to take the lead. Things quickly became worse for Coons. Just after giving up the lead, he would get collected in a spin by a lapped car that left Coons with no place to go. After coming to a stop, he was able to re-fire, but forced to go to the back of the pack.
The cars would restart on lap 12 with Seavey leading Klaasmeyer, McIntosh, Thomas and Alex Bright. The car on the move, though, was sitting not far behind as Christopher Bell had climbed from the 22nd starting position to eighth in just 11 laps. After a lap 16 caution closed the field up, Bell continued his rise through the field as he moved past his 14-year-old KKM teammate Daison Pursley for fifth.
By lap 24, Seavey had pulled away to a full straightaway lead as Bell moved past Klaasmeyer for third place and then began to close on Thomas for second. A late caution would then set up a three-lap shootout between Seavey, Thomas and Bell.
Seavey got a strong restart to maintain the lead, while Thomas went low and Bell stayed high in the battle for second. By the white flag Seavey had pulled out to a comfortable lead on the way to the victory, while Thomas was able to hold off Bell for second. It marked the third consecutive night that both Seavey and Bell had earned podium finishes with Bell winning Thursday’s opener at Creek County Speedway on Thursday.
Klaasmeyer would place fourth, with Bright in sixth, Pursley in seventh, Jesse Colwell in eighth and Tanner Carrick finishing ninth as Toyota-powered drivers captured eight of the top-10 finishing positions. Overall, Toyota drivers earned 16 berths in Saturday’s A Main out of 52 cars entered.
POWRi’s four-race Turnpike Challenge will conclude Sunday night at Port City Raceway in Tulsa.
- After three rounds of group qualifying, Gilliland earned the third starting position.
- The 18-year-old battled a tight handling condition but held on to finish fourth in the first stage.
- Following the first stage, Richmond brought Gilliland to pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and adjustments to address the handling condition, but trouble on the stop lost the No. 4 team several positions.
- The start of the second stage saw Gilliland in the eighth position.
- With 22 laps remaining in the stage, Gilliland narrowly avoided a spinning truck, then visited pit road for four fresh tires and fuel.
- The young driver battled traffic on the restart, falling to 13th, but worked his way back up to finish the second stage in the 10th position, contributing to a total of eight stage points earned.
- Gilliland began the final stage in seventh and worked his way toward the front.
- After navigating his way through several late race cautions, Gilliland looked to be in a solid sixth place, but as the white flag flew, the No. 4 Tundra ran out of real estate and made contact with the outside wall. Gilliland lost positions, resulting in a 15th-place finish.
- Kyle Busch won the race, with Ben Rhodes, Brett Moffitt, Ross Chastain and Stewart Friesen rounding out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured seven cautions for 50 laps and eight lead changes among four drivers.
Overnight and Sunday morning rainfall has forced the cancellation of the first Lincoln Speedway test and tune of 2019.
Rainfall moved into Central Illinois late Saturday evening, with several waves of precipitation. As of early Sunday morning, on track activities were still possible, however more rainfall hit shortly thereafter, saturating the grounds.
One more preseason test and tune is scheduled for the facility on Saturday, March 30. The event will be held from 12:00-4:00 PM with pits opening at 11:00 AM. Pit admission will be $20 with grandstands free.
Lincoln Speedway’s sister track, Macon Speedway, had its first test and tune on Saturday with a strong 32 participants on track. Two additional Macon tests remain on Sunday, March 31 and Saturday, April 6.
Season opening weekend is just a few weeks away, Friday, April 12 at Lincoln Speedway and Saturday, April 13 at Macon Speedway.
Lincoln Speedway PR
The Nascar Gander Outdoor Truck Series returned to action today with a short track brawl at the iconic Martinsviller Speedway.
Stewart Freisen started on the pole, but it was Kyle Busch who would soon take the lead and drive away from the field.
The first stage of 70 laps would end eight laps early with a caution. Oil and debris on track would not allow NASCAR to open pit road or have a late stage restart. Busch would win the stage with only 15 cars on the lead lap.
Busch would find himself leading for the majority of the 70 lap stage two when another cation flew with 23 to go. Friesen found himself in the lead on the restart, but with ten to go he was overtaken by Ross Chastain who would go on to win the stage.
The racing was exciting throughout the field with cars side by side through the corners and the outside lane even had a chance as rubber was laid down by the trucks. The bumpers were used as impatient driver pushed their way to the front and the laps wound down.
With exciting racing throughout the field the lead for the race was not exciting and I say that with an odd sort of content. There was however an exciting battle for the race in the earlier laps of stage three when Busch was able to take the lead form Chastain.
After a few corners back and forth it was Busch out front and then he pulled away never to be seen again. Even with two cautions in the last 40 laps there was not a challenge to be seen.
Kyle Busch went on to win his 54th NASCAR truck race.
The trucks will be back at it next Saturday night, March 29th, at 9PM ET for the Longhorn 350 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Circuit of The Americas may be a new track to the NTT IndyCar Series, but the NTT P1 Award winner for the first race there isn't.
Will Power continued his climb up the Indy car history charts, winning his 56th career pole position Saturday in NTT P1 Award qualifying for the inaugural INDYCAR Classic. The Team Penske driver will lead the 24-car field to the green flag in Sunday's first NTT IndyCar Series race at Circuit of The Americas.
INDYCAR CLASSIC: Qualifying results
In the Firestone Fast Six, the last of three knockout qualifying rounds, Power pushed the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske around the 3.41-mile, 20-turn permanent road course in 1 minute, 46.0177 seconds (115.792 mph). It earned the 2014 NTT IndyCar Series champion a second straight pole position to open the 2019 season and pole No. 56 of his 15-year career. It leaves the reigning Indianapolis 500 winner within 11 of tying Mario Andretti for the most all time.
"When I looked at the Firestone Fast Six and where we stacked up, I thought the only chance we have at getting pole is if we do one lap of fuel (in the car) and do a lap and then next set (of used Firestone alternate tires), one lap of fuel and do a lap," Power said. "That's what we did, so it paid off."
"That last lap was very neat, and I finally breathed by the time I got to the alternate start/finish line."
Power, the only Chevrolet-powered driver to reach the final round of qualifications on Saturday, is now eligible to collect a $100,000 bonus from COTA if he can win the 60-lap race from the pole position. Live coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN, NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
Alexander Rossi will join Power on the front row for Sunday's race after qualifying second Saturday. The Andretti Autosport driver turned a Firestone Fast Six lap of 1:46.1761 (115.619 mph) in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda. Rossi's teammate, Ryan Hunter-Reay, was third in the No. 28 DHL Honda (1:46.3228, 115.460 mph).
"The thing that's bothersome is it was a good lap," Rossi said. "It's just, he (Power) has almost 60 poles for a reason, right? I missed it a bit in (Turn 19) to open the lap, so I knew it was an uphill battle from there. A front-row start is good; it's a big turnaround for us from St. Pete, where we were not that competitive."
NTT IndyCar Series rookie Colton Herta continued his strong performance at COTA by qualifying fourth in the No. 88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing Honda (1:46.3594, 115.420 mph).
"Today was awesome," the 18-year-old Herta said. "After Practice 3 (in the morning), we all had a feeling that we could go for the pole today because the No. 88 Latitude Vacation Club car was so fast. I'm just so happy the Harding Steinbrenner Racing boys were able to get the car ready yesterday for warmup (following an engine change). I have to thank everyone on the team and Honda for working so hard this weekend."
Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Felix Rosenqvist and Scott Dixon will start the race from Row 3. After setting the NTT IndyCar Series track record in second-round qualifying in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda, Rosenqvist posted the fifth-fastest lap in the Firestone Fast Six (1:46.5680, 115.194 mph). Dixon, the reigning and five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, was sixth at 1:46.9375 (114.796 mph) in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.
Josef Newgarden, the 2019 points leader after winning the season-opening race two weeks ago at St. Petersburg, Florida, just missed reaching the Firestone Fast Six and will start seventh in the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet.
Rosenqvist set the best lap of the weekend thus far in the second round of qualifying, a circuit timed at 1:45.4542 (116.411 mph).
Jack Harvey and Tony Kanaan each slid off track into the gravel in Turn 19, bringing premature ends to each group of qualifying in Round 1. While those two drivers will start from the last row in the race, the red-flag stoppages prevented other notable drivers from logging a lap fast enough to advance to the next round - including James Hinchcliffe (who will start 15th), Sebastien Bourdais (17th) and Simon Pagenaud (22nd).
Askew drives away to Indy Lights victory in first race of weekend
Oliver Askew rolled away from the pole position and on to a comfortable victory in the first Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race of a doubleheader weekend at Circuit of The Americas. The Andretti Autosport driver won the 20-lap race by a sizable margin of 24.6800 seconds.
Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing) finished second after an exciting battle with Robert Megennis (Andretti Autosport), who wound up third.
The second Indy Lights race from COTA starts at 10:10 a.m. ET Sunday and will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold.