DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— Daytona 500 pole sitter, Chase Elliott, and Denny Hamlin won their Can-Am Duel and now hold 10 championship points heading into Sunday’s Daytona 500.

 

This is Elliott’s first career win in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, albeit in a non-points race.  This is Hamlin’s third career win in the Can-Am Duel.

 

“Oh, man we had such a fast NAPA Chevy tonight. I didn’t think anybody was going to help us there at the first part of the race and I had a couple good pushes to get us out front and our spotter did a great job on the roof making sure he was calling the lanes correctly and we were able to get back in front,” said Elliott.

 

“Yeah, it was great. Great car. Got a great push there for Austin (Dillon). We worked really well together that entire race. I’ll keep that in mind in the 500. It looked like our cars were really good together. I can’t thank this team enough for a great job by Wheels (Mike Wheeler, crew chief). FedEx announced their renewal today so that’s a great sign of a great year hopefully to come,” said Hamlin.

 

For Elliott, he started the race from the pole position. After leading the first lap, Elliott was shuffled back, but stayed towards the front of the field.

 

When the field went back to green after the competition caution, Elliott was towards the front and was able to gain the lead after Brad Keselowski got loose, stacking the field on lap 37. Elliott was able to hold off the pack blocking both lanes to go towards victory. Jamie McMurray finished second, Kevin Harvick finished third, Keselowski finished fourth, and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five.

 

Corey LaJoie was able to race his way into Sunday’s Daytona 500. LaJoie made contact with Reed Sorenson, who was also racing for a spot in the 500 in the tri-oval. Sorenson went high and LaJoie filled the spot as Sorenson went back down sending Sorenson hard into the inside wall, collecting Paul Menard.

 

“Every kid in a race car dreams of racing in a Daytona 500 and I get to do that on Sunday. I really do feel bad about Reed (Sorenson). I just tried to fill a hole and it was getting down to it and I probably did have position on him but man when I’m trying to get into the Daytona 500 if my mom was in that spot I’d probably wreck her too. I’m racing on Sunday. Chase (Elliott) is in victory lane – good job to him and I’ll see you guys on Sunday in the Dustless Blasting Camry,” said LaJoie.

 

In the second duel, Hamlin started in the third position and battled Dale Earnhardt Jr. early on to gain the lead.

 

When Hamlin tried to block Earnhardt Jr., Hamlin went for the block, but Jr. went the opposite to regain the lead from Hamlin. Hamlin attempted to regain the lead, but had no drafting partner and was shuffled backwards and the field went single file. Hamlin tried to get the bottom lane to work, but drivers continued to ride single-file, but as the competition caution approached, the field broke from single file formation.

 

When Hamlin went down pit road, he was busted for driving through too many pit stalls and had to start at the rear of the field.

 

Despite the penalty, Hamlin crept his way towards the front. Hamlin was able to get up to the second position in the closing moments of the race. With the help of Austin Dillon on the second to last lap, Hamlin was able to pass Jr. in turn three to score the victory. Bowyer finished second, Kurt Busch finished third, AJ Allmendinger finished fourth, and A. Dillon rounded out the top-five.

 

DJ Kennington was able to race his way in by finishing ahead of Sadler by .039 seconds to race in the Daytona 500.

 

“Man does that sound good. Castrol and Lordco, everybody that’s made this happen for me, Dwight Kennedy’s done a lot in my racing career. My dad, my whole family, my wife, my kids. It’s a huge moment for us. Marty Gaunt, Gaunt Brothers Racing, Toyota, everybody that has helped us get here today, I don’t even know how to explain it. I feel like I won the Daytona 500. The 7 (Elliott Sadler) car there, it was locked in on time. I thought he was going to be a little more cautious than that. But we had to race him right to the line and I wouldn’t want it any other way. That was awesome,” said Kennington.


Timmy Hill and Reed Sorenson were unable to make the 500 based on qualifying times and performance in the Can-Am Duel. Brendan Gaughan and Sadler will also join Kennington and LaJoie on Sunday in the Daytona 500.

 

The Daytona 500 will consist of drives from Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— Daytona 500 pole sitter, Chase Elliott, and Denny Hamlin won their Can-Am Duel and now hold 10 championship points heading into Sunday’s Daytona 500.

 

This is Elliott’s first career win in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, albeit in a non-points race.  This is Hamlin’s third career win in the Can-Am Duel.

 

“Oh, man we had such a fast NAPA Chevy tonight. I didn’t think anybody was going to help us there at the first part of the race and I had a couple good pushes to get us out front and our spotter did a great job on the roof making sure he was calling the lanes correctly and we were able to get back in front,” said Elliott.

 

“Yeah, it was great. Great car. Got a great push there for Austin (Dillon). We worked really well together that entire race. I’ll keep that in mind in the 500. It looked like our cars were really good together. I can’t thank this team enough for a great job by Wheels (Mike Wheeler, crew chief). FedEx announced their renewal today so that’s a great sign of a great year hopefully to come,” said Hamlin.

 

For Elliott, he started the race from the pole position. After leading the first lap, Elliott was shuffled back, but stayed towards the front of the field.

 

When the field went back to green after the competition caution, Elliott was towards the front and was able to gain the lead after Brad Keselowski got loose, stacking the field on lap 37. Elliott was able to hold off the pack blocking both lanes to go towards victory. Jamie McMurray finished second, Kevin Harvick finished third, Keselowski finished fourth, and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five.

 

Corey LaJoie was able to race his way into Sunday’s Daytona 500. LaJoie made contact with Reed Sorenson, who was also racing for a spot in the 500 in the tri-oval. Sorenson went high and LaJoie filled the spot as Sorenson went back down sending Sorenson hard into the inside wall, collecting Paul Menard.

 

“Every kid in a race car dreams of racing in a Daytona 500 and I get to do that on Sunday. I really do feel bad about Reed (Sorenson). I just tried to fill a hole and it was getting down to it and I probably did have position on him but man when I’m trying to get into the Daytona 500 if my mom was in that spot I’d probably wreck her too. I’m racing on Sunday. Chase (Elliott) is in victory lane – good job to him and I’ll see you guys on Sunday in the Dustless Blasting Camry,” said LaJoie.

 

In the second duel, Hamlin started in the third position and battled Dale Earnhardt Jr. early on to gain the lead.

 

When Hamlin tried to block Earnhardt Jr., Hamlin went for the block, but Jr. went the opposite to regain the lead from Hamlin. Hamlin attempted to regain the lead, but had no drafting partner and was shuffled backwards and the field went single file. Hamlin tried to get the bottom lane to work, but drivers continued to ride single-file, but as the competition caution approached, the field broke from single file formation.

 

When Hamlin went down pit road, he was busted for driving through too many pit stalls and had to start at the rear of the field.

 

Despite the penalty, Hamlin crept his way towards the front. Hamlin was able to get up to the second position in the closing moments of the race. With the help of Austin Dillon on the second to last lap, Hamlin was able to pass Jr. in turn three to score the victory. Bowyer finished second, Kurt Busch finished third, AJ Allmendinger finished fourth, and A. Dillon rounded out the top-five.

 

DJ Kennington was able to race his way in by finishing ahead of Sadler by .039 seconds to race in the Daytona 500.

 

“Man does that sound good. Castrol and Lordco, everybody that’s made this happen for me, Dwight Kennedy’s done a lot in my racing career. My dad, my whole family, my wife, my kids. It’s a huge moment for us. Marty Gaunt, Gaunt Brothers Racing, Toyota, everybody that has helped us get here today, I don’t even know how to explain it. I feel like I won the Daytona 500. The 7 (Elliott Sadler) car there, it was locked in on time. I thought he was going to be a little more cautious than that. But we had to race him right to the line and I wouldn’t want it any other way. That was awesome,” said Kennington.


Timmy Hill and Reed Sorenson were unable to make the 500 based on qualifying times and performance in the Can-Am Duel. Brendan Gaughan and Sadler will also join Kennington and LaJoie on Sunday in the Daytona 500.

 

The Daytona 500 will consist of drives from Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America.

After a race dominated by Toyota and Denny Hamlin — who led 48 of 75 laps— and a last lap pass attempt by Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano wound up with victory in the Advanced Auto Parts Clash at Daytona to kick off the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Season on a high note.

 

This is Logano’s first win in the Clash. Logano joins Kurt Busch and Rusty Wallace in the hall of Clash victories for Team Penske.

 

“It’s cool to win the Clash. We came so close last year and it’s really neat to be in Victory Lane and a good start to our day,” said Logano post race.

 

Logano started the race in the ninth position, but quickly saw his way to the front of the field quickly with Keselowski and Ford teammate, Kevin Harvick. The Ford contingent kept strong to hold off the Toyota contingent of Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Daniel Suarez.

 

Logano quickly lost his drafting partner when Keselowski was busted on pit road for driving through too many pit boxes.

 

When the race restarted, Logano held his own while trying to battle with the Joe Gibbs Racing contingent. With one lap remaining in the first segment, Joe Gibbs Racing teammates and Alex Bowman dived onto pit road leaving Logano with the lead as the first segment ended.

 

That move by Toyota gave them the upper hand when it came to the second segment as they lead the top-four positions for majority of the second segment.

 

Logano went quiet for most of the second segment awaiting Keselowski, but when the time was right Keselowski worked his way through the field to Logano. Logano began pushing Keselowski towards the lead, helping to side-draft the Joe Gibbs Racing contingent.

 

When the white flag flew, Logano and Keselowski made their way to the second and third position. Logano was third as Keselowski, made contact with Hamlin spinning him. Logano quickly moved to the outside of the turn to the lead gaining a huge advantage over Ky. Busch.

 

“I had to make the move.  I know all the other drivers are back watching and they know not to make that block on me again,” said Keselowski about the move he had to make.

 

“There’s really not much I can do differently at the end. Perhaps staying in the middle lane there through one and two and trying to side draft. He (Brad Keselowski) had help from the 22 (Joey Logano). I was in a bad spot there. He was just coming so much faster than what I was,” said Hamlin. “There’s not much that I could have done to defend. We lined up so well as Toyota teammates throughout the race that once those guys started breaking that up and leap frogging, he (Keselowski) had commitment from the 22 and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and when they were able to back up there that really put us at a speed differential.”

 

Hamlin ended up finishing 13th, while Keselowski finished sixth after their collision on the exit of turn two.

 

Logano scored Ford Performance’s first victory in the Clash since 2004 when Dale Jarrett won the race.

 

Ky. Busch finished second, Bowman finished third, Danica Patrick finishes fourth, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five.

he 2016 season for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series was one for the record books. The team kicked of their 25th season with winning the Daytona 500 to winning a second consecutive championship. The team formed a technical alliance with Furniture Row Racing, but that did not stop the success of the organization. Drivers for the organization were Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, and Matt Kenseth.

 

Hamlin kicked off the season at Daytona with a close finish in the Daytona 500 edging out Martin Truex Jr. by .008 seconds. Hamlin’s season was plagued with numerous penalties on pit road. Hamlin was in contention to win numerous races over the season. Hamlin had four DNF’s throughout the season with three resulting from accidents and one engine issue. After winning the season opening race, Hamlin scored victory at Watkins Glen and Richmond, where he started on the pole. With his three wins, Hamlin was able to make the playoffs. Hamlin made it to the third round by the skin of his teeth edging out Austin Dillon by .006 seconds at Talladega. In the third round, Hamlin scored three top-10 finishes, but was able to advance to the final round at Homestead Miami Speedway.

 

Busch picked up in 2016 where he left off after his championship in 2015. His season started out with a third place finish at Daytona. In the following week, Busch won the pole but had to forfeit the pole after his time was disallowed due to failing post-qualifying inspection. Despite losing the pole, Busch captured the pole at Phoenix. Busch captured his first victory of the season and first victory at Martinsville leaving Charlotte and Pocono as the only tracks where he hasn’t won at.  He followed up the victory in Martinsville with a win at Texas Motor Speedway. However, Busch was in an accident at Bristol which resulted in his first DNF on the season. However, the rebound came quickly with second place finishes at Richmond and Talladega, and a victory at Kansas Speedway. However, that comeback was short lived with DNF’s at Dover and Charlotte, a 31st place finish at Pocono, and engine issues at Michigan. Busch stayed consistent over the next seven races with a victory at Indianapolis. Bristol was another DNF for Busch as he suffered a crash. Going into the playoffs, Busch started off strong with a win at Chicago that moved him into the next round. In the second round, Busch had strong finishes at Charlotte and Kansas, but was conservative with Kenseth and Edwards to secure a spot in the “Round of 8”. Busch made his way through that round with three top-five finishes in a move to return to the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami. However, Busch came up short on a back-to-back championship, but left the season with strong momentum going into 2017.

 

For Edwards, 2016 would be his last as a driver in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition. His 2016 season started strong with two top-five finishes at Daytona and Atlanta. After an 18th place finish at Las Vegas, Edwards scored two poles at Texas and Bristol as well as two wins at Bristol and Richmond. His first DNF of the season came at Talladega. His second DNF came two weeks alter at Dover. Edwards was able to recover after Charlotte with three top-10 finishes and a pole at Sonoma. His third DNF came at Daytona, but came into Kentucky with a  second place finish. After terrible finishes at New Hampshire and Indianapolis, Edwards posted five top-20 finishes including two poles at Watkins Glen and Bristol. Going into the playoffs, Edwards did not have the momentum, but had the consistency. He scored the pole at New Hampshire in the first round, but no wins. He made it into the second round with finishes of 12th and second at Charlotte and Kansas, and went conservative at Talladega to keep his hopes going into the “Round of 8”. With a win at Texas, Edwards clinched his spot into the Championship Four at Homestead-Miami. Edwards was less than 10 laps away for clinching his first championshi, but greed for position ensued from behind leaving Edwards with a wrecked vehicle.

 

Kenseth rode in 2016 very quietly. In the first few races of 2016, he was without his veteran spotter, Chris Osborne, after he suffered injury from an accident in the offseason. Kenseth was about a half a mile away from winning another Daytona 500, but a gutsy move pushed him out of the draft and resulted in a 14th place finish. The season did not start off strong for Kenseth; His first top-10 finish in the first eight races came at Phoenix. His second top-10 came at Richmond. His first DNF came at Talladega after an accident on the backstretch. However, the next four races resulted in a top-10 finish including a win at Dover. His next run of top-10 finishes began at Kentuck with three top-10 finishes including a win at New Hampshire. After Indianapolis, Kenseth only had two top finishes before the playoff began. When the playoffs began, Kenseth became more consistent with his top-10 finishes. In the opening round of the playoffs, Kenseth had three top-10 finishes. In the second round, Kenseth won at Kansas to move to the third round. Kenseth came just short in the third round to move to the Championship Round. Kenseth ended the season at Homestead with a seventh place finish.

 

2017 will be a year of change at Joe Gibbs Racing. With Edwards going into retirement, Daniel Suarez will move on up and have his chance in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Despite not having Edwards, JGR will continue to be the dominate powerhouse in the Cup Series. It will be interesting to see how Hamlin, Busch, and Kenseth will lean on Suarez and vice versa. JGR is the team to watch going into 2017.

As NASCAR hits the twist and turns of Watkins Glen International, Carl Edwards is confident in the direction that Toyota is going.

2015 marked Edwards’ first season with Joe Gibbs Racing, and the first time since coming into the Cup Series in 2004, he wasn’t driving a Ford. Through the struggles of 2015, it made the No. 19 team stronger.

This season, Edwards says his confidence is at an all-time high. Arguably, he will have to beat his JGR teammates for the championship as Toyota has won 10 of the 21 races. For the No. 19 team, it’s all about maintaining momentum going into the Chase.

“Right now, we’re just gearing up for the Chase and making sure that we are ready for those final 10 races,” Edwards told Speedway Digest. “That’s what we’re here to do. I feel like I’ve got the best team and the best shot of winning a championship that I’ve ever had and I just want to make the most of it.”

Through the first 21 races this season, Edwards has two wins, coming at Bristol and at Richmond, where he moved his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and reigning Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch out of the way on Turn 4 of the final lap. The No. 19 car has 13 top-10 finishes this season, two shy of his 2015 total and one fewer than his total from his final year with Roush Fenway Racing in 2014.  

In his second year at Joe Gibbs Racing, getting used to the system that Joe Gibbs has implemented within JGR has been an adjustment for Edwards. This season, he is working with veteran crew chief Dave Rogers, who replaced Darian Grubb atop the pit box. Since the pairing was announced over the offseason, his confidence level has skyrocketed.  

“Everyone is different,” Edwards said on the differences between Rogers and Grubb. “Dave and I communicate the same way. Dave and I were joking that we don’t get along with everybody, but we get along with each other really well. I think that’ the best way to put it. The communication is effortless and I think that’s just the way sometimes it works out for people.”

Over the last five seasons of competition, Edwards has worked with five different crew chiefs. Bob Osborne was a guy who he had worked with for nine years, and the guy that might be most similar to Rogers.

Edwards wants Rogers to be the last crew chief of his Cup Series career. In year one, the duo sits fifth in the standings, eight points behind Busch. They both credit each other’s success on one another. Based on the way last year finished and this year has gone, the duo is confident heading into the Chase.

“I was new to the system and I was trying to prove myself,” Edwards said of 2015. “It was tough. I thought last year everybody pulled together really well, and we almost had a shot at the championship. I’m really proud of everyone’s performance. Looking back on it, it was really spectacular what we were able to do.”

Edwards’ No. 19 team finished fifth in the standings last year, satisfying the organization in his first year with the crew.

Self-admittedly, Edwards had a lot to learn coming over to a new organization last season. The Missouri native had new primary sponsors in ARRIS and Stanley, after working with Aflac and Fastenal for the majority of his Cup Series career. He is known as being a marketable guy, always thanking the sponsors, so working with new ones was a transition.

 He had new faces to learn after being at Roush Fenway Racing for 12 seasons. But a key variable was working with Matt Kenseth, someone that he knew well from RFR.

“I think Matt has really been the person that I’ve leaned on the most,” Edwards said. “He really facilitated all of the initial talks when I first signed up. He was in charge of the initial meetings. We had lunch last together week and he’s just someone that always tells me what he thinks and he’s helped me a lot.”

With five races remaining before the Chase begins at Chicagoland Speedway, Edwards believes his team is where it needs to be. The 36-year-old believes that the field will need to go through JGR to win the championship.

“I would like to win a couple of these races,” Edwards said of his goals before the Chase begins. “Our main goal is to be prepared for the Chase. I’ve won plenty of races, now I want to win a championship. That’s our mission.”

Leading up to the Chase, Edwards has won on four of the five tracks. He is the defending winner of the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, and most recently, he won the aforementioned races at Bristol and Richmond this year. At Michigan, he has two victories, with the last one coming in 2008.

A victory between now and Chicago would give Edwards three extra bonus points for the first round of the Chase. With 12 winners this season thus far, every point is critical as last year, Busch’s four victories prior to the Chase edged him into the second round of the Chase by a few points.

 “If the fans like it, it’s good,” Edwards said. “It is difficult to pace yourself and to figure out when to give your best effort. This is the point of the season where what happens right now doesn’t really affect the outcome of the season, but you still put all of this pressure on yourself and so it’s a balance of going racing every week and preparing for the Chase.” 

While Toyota has ruled the sport this season, Edwards has remained one of the most consistent drivers at JGR. This season, he has outperformed Kenseth and Denny Hamlin, who has yet to win since the Daytona 500.

The JGR alliance with Furniture Row Racing seems to be beneficial throughout the Toyota camp, as Martin Truex, Jr. has led 1005 laps this season, the most of all drivers in the series. Edwards feels as though he is in the right position and that his No. 19 team is the best team in the garage.