Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Austin Dillon and the Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Off Road/E-Z-Go Chevrolet Team's Gamble in Las Vegas Pays Off with Solid Top-Five Finish 
 

4th
 
 
 21st
   7th
"Our Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Off Road/E-Z-GO Chevrolet was strong all day, but we needed track position. Thankfully we were able to make some moves at the end of the race to earn a fourth-place finish. It's just really hard because everybody is really close, and you can tell how close we all are by how many cars are on the lead lap at the end of these races. NASCAR did a great job of getting these cars to where they are now. The race really came down to restarts. You had to get what you could on the start. It is crazy racing out there. On the second-to-last restart we started on the inside and lost a ton of positions, so at the end of the race when the caution came out, we knew it would be to our benefit to be on the outside. The leaders hit pit road and we were strategic. We had been running the same lap times at the beginning of a run with fresh tires as we were at the end of a run, so staying out was our best move if most of the other cars were pitting. Luckily, we were lined up on the outside on that final restart and were able to fight our way to fourth. It's a great start to the season. This has been fun."

-Austin Dillon 

Tyler Reddick and the No. 8 TAME the BEAST Team Kick Off 1.5-Mile Speedway Program with Strong Showing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
 

18th
 
 
 25th
   26th
"Overall, we had a solid day with our No. 8 TAME the BEAST Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. I was loose for the majority of the day when I tried to run the bottom, but the adjustments my team made through the race helped a lot. I was able to get the top to work fairly well, especially on the long runs. I just needed a little more to fire off with, but we'll work on that. It was great to be able to run inside the top 10 today. That's momentum we can build on. When that final yellow came out, we decided to gamble in Las Vegas and stay out to go for the win. Unfortunately, we lined up fifth, which meant we were on the bottom for the restart. The bottom hadn't restarted well all day, so that wasn't in our favor and we fell backwards but ultimately had a shot at it. We'll get back after it at Auto Club Speedway next weekend."
 
-Tyler Reddick

RCR PR

Race Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Kevin Harvick started third and finished third and earned eight bonus points.

● The Busch Light Ford Mustang led twice for 59 laps but faded back at the end of the stage.

● Harvick pitted on lap 27 under caution for four tires, fuel and track bar and tire pressure adjustment, saying the car was quite loose.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

Started third and finished sixth and earned five bonus points.

● The Busch Light Ford Mustang pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment on lap 83.

● On the restart, Harvick moved from third to first on the restart and held the point until he was passed by Chase Elliott.

● On lap 121, Harvick was fifth and pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.

 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161-267):

Started fifth and finished eighth.

● The Busch Light Ford Mustang pitted on lap 164 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.

● On lap 217, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.

● With less than 40 laps to go, Harvick was in second and was stalking Joey Logano for the lead.

● A caution came out with six laps to go with Harvick in fifth place. He decided to pit for four tires and fuel, but several cars stayed out or took on two tires.

● Despite restarting outside the top-10 with two laps to go, Harvick was working his way up and making moves until a caution came out just after the white flag. Harvick finished eighth.

 

Notes:

● Harvick earned his second top-10 of the season and his 11th top-10 in 22 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Las Vegas.

● This is Harvick’s second straight top-10. He finished fifth in the season-opening Daytona 500 last Sunday.

● Harvick’s 11 top-10s at Las Vegas are the most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers.

● This is Harvick’s third straight top-10 at Las Vegas. He was the runner-up in the series’ most recent visit to the track last September.

● Harvick has finished in the top-10 at Las Vegas all but three times since joining SHR in 2014.

● Harvick led five times for a race-high 92 laps to increase his laps-led total at Las Vegas to 679, the most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers.

● Joey Logano won the Las Vegas 400 to score his 24th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his second at Las Vegas. He beat second-place Matt DiBenedetto as the race ended under caution.

● This was Ford’s series-leading 13th NASCAR Cup Series victory at Las Vegas and its 687th all-time NASCAR Cup Series win.

● There were nine caution periods for a total of 37 laps.

● Twenty-four of the 38 drivers in the Las Vegas 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Ryan Blaney leaves Las Vegas as the championship leader with a three-point advantage over second-place Logano.

 

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“The caution really decided that. I think there would have been some of us that got back close to the lead by the time we got off of turn four. I don’t even know where we restarted, but we were seventh or so going into turn one on the last lap with a big head of steam, and the caution came out. Our Busch Light Ford was really good on the short runs. We just kind of lost the handling as we would get deep in those runs and that kind of hurt us. It came down to what we wanted there at the end, but we just got too far back.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 1, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

 

TSC PR

In his second ride in the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang, Matt DiBenedetto finished second in the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, tying his best career Cup finish and posting his first-ever top-10 on an intermediate track.

“This is all just too surreal,” a beaming DiBenedetto said in a televised post-race interview.

“Tough to be that close, but, hey, this is only the second race of the season.”
 
“It was the strength of this team. It's so cool to have the backing of all the people that allow me to drive this thing. It took so many people, Motorcraft, Quick Lane.”
 
DiBenedetto also gave a shout out to Paul Menard, who drove the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 for the past two seasons and selected DiBenedetto to be his replacement when he decided to retire.
 
“Paul, I know you're watching at home and proud and I can't thank everyone in that whole family for this opportunity.”

DiBenedetto also expressed his appreciation to the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew and to the people who supply his horsepower.
 
 “I'm proud to have that Roush Yates power under the hood,” he said. “This whole team, [crew chief] Greg Erwin, all of them, we were covered. It wasn't pretty at the start, but, man, they did an excellent job.  
 
“So happy to be working with this team, the fans. Thank you all so much. The journey has been pretty cool.”
 
DiBenedetto started 19th, with the line-up set by 2019 car owner points after qualifying was rained out Saturday afternoon. He steadily worked his way forward, his No. 21 Mustang driving progressively better after each adjustment on pit road.
 
He broke into the top 10 for the first time with 87 laps remaining, and steadily moved forward.

 DiBenedetto made his final pit stop on Lap 163, but a caution flag before the cycle of pit stops could be concluded put him a lap down. Running in 11th place, he took the wave-around to rejoin the leaders and then resumed his march forward.

He took seventh place with 35 laps remaining and was running there when the caution flag flew for a spin by Ross Chastain.
 
Erwin elected to stay on the track when most of the leaders pitted, a decision that put the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang in third place when the green flag flew with two laps remaining.
 
DiBenedetto, despite having older tires than many of the drivers behind him, moved into second place and was running there when the caution flag flew just after the leaders took the white flag, freezing the field at that point.  He said his team’s speed and improvement as the race went along came as no surprise.
  
“I knew the team has every bit of that capability,” he said. “They’re so good with Greg Erwin leading these guys. This team is phenomenal. There’s no doubt about that.”
 
DiBenedetto did acknowledge having a few worries early in the 400.
 
“It wasn’t a picture-perfect day,” he said. “We had to make huge adjustments and our communication was great from me screaming really loose and us being off to start and then dialing it in little by little every pit stop, and then getting it there at the end where I was comfortable staying out because I knew the car had great speed.” 
 
“It was best on the long runs and we just needed a little track position because we were a little stuck in the dirty air.”
 
He said the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team’s performance at Las Vegas gives him optimism moving forward.
 
 “We didn’t start off great,” he said. “But it’s good to know that we can close, make the right adjustments, do all the right things, my pit crew can do an excellent job – all the things that tie a race together.”
 
DiBenedetto and the No. 21 team now move to Auto Club Speedway in California for next Sunday’s Auto Club 400.  

WBR PR

Race Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):             

● Cole Custer started 17th and ended the stage 29th.

● The Ford driver pitted on lap 26 during the competition caution for fuel, four tires and adjustments to address a loose condition.

● Custer restarted 27th and reported his Production Alliance Group/Haas Automation Mustang had tightened up.

● He ended the stage 29th, then pitted for fuel, four tires and adjustments.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

● Custer started Stage 2 in 27th and completed it 28th.

● He made a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 129 for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help his tight-handling Mustang while in the 29th position.

● Custer ended the stage 28th.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267):

● Custer began the final stage from 28th and ended the race 19th.

● Shortly after the green flag dropped on the final stage, a caution occurred on lap 169, which allowed Custer to be the beneficiary of the free pass and gain one lap back.

● When the next caution was displayed on lap 177, Custer was once again the beneficiary of the free pass, putting him back on the lead lap in 28th.

● On lap 217, he was 27th and made a scheduled green-flag stop for fuel, four tires and adjustments.

● The California native was 26th when the next caution was displayed on lap 221 and crew chief Mike Shiplett made the call to stay out.

● After returning to green, Custer was in the 23rd position on lap 228.

● With six laps remaining, the final caution of the race was displayed. The Ford driver pitted for fresh tires and restarted 20th, before ending the day in 19th.

 

Notes:

● Custer’s 19th-place result bettered his previous best finish at Las Vegas – 25th, earned in March 2018.

● Joey Logano won the Las Vegas 400 to score his 24th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his second at Las Vegas. His beat second-place Matt DiBenedetto as the race ended under caution.

● This was Ford’s series-leading 13th NASCAR Cup Series victory at Las Vegas and its 687th all-time NASCAR Cup Series win.

● There were nine caution periods for a total of 37 laps.

● Twenty-four of the 38 drivers in the Las Vegas 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Ryan Blaney leaves Las Vegas as the championship leader with a three-point advantage over second-place Logano.

 

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Production Alliance Group/Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“It’s not the result we wanted today with the Production Alliance Group/Haas Automation Mustang, but the guys worked hard on the car all day. I’m still learning a lot with the Cup car and wanted a better result. We came back from two laps down, and (crew chief) Mike Shiplett did a good job continuing to adjust on the car. I know I need to be better at restarts and some things like that, but I’m looking forward to next week and excited about working with the No. 41 team this year.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 1 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

 

TSC PR

Race Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

● Aric Almirola started 14th and finished 12th.

● Almirola pitted during the lap-25 competition caution for four tires, fuel and air pressure and chassis adjustments, and gained three spots on pit road.

● He noted that the Smithfield Ford had trouble turning after the adjustments were made.

● He pitted the No. 10 Ford at the end of the stage for four tires, fuel and adjustments to correct the handling issues.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):

● Started 12th and finished 11th.

● Almirola aggressively drove to the middle of three cars and advanced back to the top-10.

● He pitted under green on lap 120 from 11th for four fresh tires, fuel and adjustments. He said his Smithfield Ford’s front tires needed more grip.

● Almirola was scored 11th after pit stops cycled through.

● He pitted at the conclusion of the stage for four tires, fuel and more adjustments.

 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161-267):

● Started 11th and finished 21st.

● Almirola pitted on lap 177 under caution for four fresh tires and fuel.

● He restarted 21st and quickly made his way back to the top-15.

● Almirola radioed to crew chief Mike Bugarewicz that he was contacted by the No. 6 car under caution.

● After noting tight-handling conditions, he cut a tire on lap 208, then pitted for four tires and damage repair.

● He returned to pit road two laps down in 28th before the caution was called on lap 221, where Almirola gained a lap back.

● Almirola returned back on the lead lap on lap 262.

● During the final restart, Almirola avoided a multicar accident and gained multiple spots before crossing the finish line.

 

Notes:

● Joey Logano won the Las Vegas 400 to score his 24th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his second at Las Vegas. He beat second-place Matt DiBenedetto as the race ended under caution.

● This was Ford’s series-leading 13th NASCAR Cup Series victory at Las Vegas and its 687th all-time NASCAR Cup Series win.

● There were nine caution periods for a total of 37 laps.

● Twenty-four of the 38 drivers in the Las Vegas 400 finished on the lead lap.

● Ryan Blaney leaves Las Vegas as the championship leader with a three-point advantage over second-place Logano.

 

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We had a car capable of running in and around the top-10 today. We tried a lot of adjustments to hang in there, then the No. 6 car hit us under caution and we cut a tire with about 60 to go that put us a few laps down. That’s not the way we wanted to start the West Coast swing, but we’ll head to Fontana with our heads held high and brush it off.”  

 

Next Up: 

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 1, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

 

TSC PR

STEVE NEWMARK, President, Roush Fenway Racing – “I appreciate all you guys being here today.  Ryan apologizes for not being able to be here, but he did prepare a statement:

RYAN NEWMAN STATEMENT:

“I’m sorry that I can’t be at the track in person, but I asked Steve to take a moment to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for all the support that was shown last week to both me and my family.  The outpouring of emotion from not only the NASCAR community, but across the country has been truly humbling.

“I want to personally thank everyone, including the man upstairs, for their support, encouragement and the numerous offers of assistance.  We always say that the NASCAR community is one big family and never has that been more evident to me than after seeing this family rally together and provide the comfort and support that has been shown to my family and me over the past few days.  The calls and visits from the NASCAR executives and my friends and competitors has been truly uplifting.

“I want to thank everyone involved in my care, especially the staff at Halifax Medical Center, where I am convinced I received the best care available.  I’m confident the efforts of each of those trained professionals played a major role in where I’m sitting today.  And to the entire NASCAR organization, led by Jim France, thanks for being by my side the entire time.  You truly stepped up to support me unconditionally when it mattered most.

“Most importantly, I have to thank the guys back at the Roush Fenway Racing shop that built me a car not only fast enough to lead the final seconds of the Daytona 500, but strong enough to do its job under great distress, allowing me to survive such an accident.  I am truly indebted to each of you and it is unlikely I will ever be able to properly express to you how much the diligent effort with which you conduct your craftmanship has affected me and my family.  I hope you took pride in the photograph of me walking out of the hospital hand-in-hand with my daughters on Wednesday.  Thank you.  I can’t wait to get back in your race car.

“I was fortunate to avoid any internal organ damage or broken bones.  I did sustain a head injury for which I’m currently being treated.  The doctors have been pleased with my progression over the last few days.

“Again, I want to thank each of you, from my partners, teammates and competitors and each and every fan across the country.  Thank you everyone for the unparalleled concern and unwavering support.  And to the media, who has acted with such respect and class during this time.

“I have spoken with Jack Roush and he has assured me that the number six car will be waiting and ready for my return.  I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel and battling for another race win in the Roush Fenway Ford.”

Ford Performance PR

Bridgeport Speedway Micro Sprint regular Jon Keller of Salem, NJ raced to a thrilling victory Saturday night in the East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals 600 Sprint race held inside Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton, NJ. The race was a 50-lap event and paid $5,000 to win.

“I can’t believe I even made it into the A-Main all the way from the E-Main let alone win the race,” Keller, 33, said. “I got run into the wall during the feature and rode along it and flipped in Saturday afternoon practice. On Friday, I got black flagged for spinning out three times in my heat and that put me in the back of the E-Main,” Keller related.

“I was discouraged enough after Friday that I actually went home.  But as the crew told me the next morning, we’ve come all this way, now’s not the time to give up. They were right, and here we are.”

Keller started the feature dead last, from the thirteenth row, sidestepped several multi-car crashes, and took the lead with two laps to go, bringing Kenny Miller, III, who had started from the twelfth row, with him.

Billy Pauch, Jr., finished third. He led the first ten laps, then was involved in a six-car crash that affected several other front runners including Eddie Strada and Tim Buckwalter. All restarted, but at the back of the field.

Brenden Bright picked up the lead after the big tangle with the remarkable run of Keller first becoming apparent when he moved into the top three on lap 20.

Erick Rudolph, defending race winner, took the lead with 11 laps left as Bright faded. Keller grabbed second, closed on Rudolph and then, on the final restart of the race, shot by Rudolph on the high side of the multi-groove course to complete his shocking ride.

Miller was second, Pauch third, Rudolph fourth and Strada fifth.

“I don’t believe any of this. Winning this race against these top guys from the back of the field,” Keller said. “I don’t belong here, but here I am.”

Larry Wight, who worked his way through from the D Main into the A was sixth after running as high as third at one point. Kyle Spence, Mike Bednar, Bright and Jesse Maurer completed the top ten.

Two B Mains, from which the top six transferred to the A Main, were won by Joey Amantea and Pat Bealer.

C Main race winners were Brandon Pavel and Kyle Spence. Sammy Martz, Jr. and James Morris captured the pair of D Mains. Mike Mahaney and Matt Warner won the two E Mains.

The Indoor Auto Racing Series Fueled By VP Race Fuels concludes its 2020 season with the final ‘Concrete Series’ event at the New York State Fairgrounds Expo Center in Syracuse, NY on March 13-14, 2020 at which time the Series 2020 champion will be crowned.

For more information, visit indoorautoracing.com.

East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals Feature Finish (50 Laps): 1. Jon Keller, 2. Kenny Miller III, 3. Billy Pauch Jr., 4. Erick Rudolph, 5. Eddie Strada, 6. Larry Wight, 7. Kyle Spence, 8. Mike Bednar, 9. Brenden Bright, 10. Jesse Maurer, 11. Mike Thompson, 12. Gary Bozowski, 13. Pat Bealer, 14. Christian Bruno, 15. Tyler Lindsay, 16. Doug Snyder, 17. Whitey Kidd, 18. Tim Buckwalter, 19. Brian Carber, 20. Alex Bright, 21. Joey Amantea, 22. Brett Altemose, 23. Jim Radney, 24. Aiden Bordan, 25. Wayne Scott.

AARN PR

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