Brett Winningham

Brett Winningham

Brett has been following the sport of NASCAR since the beginning of the 2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Since Brett was 13, he has had a passion of chasing a job in sports that not many get the opportunity of doing. He has been in the NASCAR media since the middle of the 2010 season. Since then, he has been a part of many racing podcast shows to improve his talents. You can find him on twitter @NASCAR_Brett.

Cole Custer will end 2017 with his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series victory on Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Custer, who started in second, led the field for 182 circuits in his No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford with Haas Automation on the side.

The season marked the first year of racing full-time in the series as he ran a full-time Camping World Truck Series slate with JR Motorsports in 2016. Custer, a 19-year old from California, closed out 2017 with seven top five and 19 top 10 finishes and an average finish of 13.3.

“We were so close to making it last weekend and really wanted to end strong.  We knew we were gonna be really good this weekend, but our Haas Automation Mustang was unreal,” said Custer after the win. “We really wanted to have a good showing at Ford Championship Weekend. Even though we weren’t in it we wanted to win.  Hopefully, we can sweep it tomorrow.”

In addition to that, Custer became the only driver in 2017 to have a perfect driver rating of 150.0 at the end of a race. The No. 00 also swept all three stages enroute to victory lane in the Ford EcoBoost 300.

“I don’t know.  I’ve had some good cars before, but that was pretty impressive,” added Custer when asked if he ever had a car this strong. “ I can’t say enough about this group, too.  They’ve worked so hard all year getting it up and going and it’s just unbelievable.  There’s no better team I’ve worked with before and I can’t thank them enough.”

William Byron will walk away with the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series driver championship. Byron entered his first full-time season in the series after racing full-time in the Camping World Truck Series with Kyle Busch Motorsports last year.

The championship did not come easy for Byron in the closing laps. The battle came down to he and Elliott Sadler for the spot when things went south for Sadler. While racing Ryan Preece, Sadler and Preece made contact, causing both cars to either hit the wall or nearly spin. The two drivers got out of the car and expressed their displeasures with NASCAR officials keeping them away following the race.

“I don’t know that I took a breath the last 20 laps,” said Byron when asked about the battle with Sadler at the end. “That was incredible.  I just have to thank this team.  This is awesome. Elliott (Sadler, teammate) raced me clean and we just raced hard for it.  I just can’t believe this.  I’ve just got to thank God for giving me this platform to perform.  I can’t believe this.  I’m tired, whew.  Thanks to all the fans here this evening, this is an unbelievable crowd, I just can’t believe it.”

Meanwhile -- Elliott Sadler and Ryan Preece expressed their thoughts on the incident after the race.

“Tonight is the closest I've ever been to winning a championship,” Sadler said after the race. "Having the lead against [Byron], the race is in my hands to win the championship, and when I dove down into Turn 1, we'd been running behind [Preece] for 10 laps. When I dove down into [Turn] 1, I thought he was going to give it to me, and I was going to slide in front of him, and he just gassed it and pinched me down, and that was it.

“I mean, really I got hired to race this race for the owner championship. We weren’t anywhere near the 22 (Sam Hornish Jr.), but we were racing the 9 (William Byron),” said Preece regarding the incident with Sadler. “It’s pretty much what I said. If it was the 7 (Justin Allgaier) and the 1 (Elliott Sadler) or anyone else that wasn’t in for that owner championship, probably, I definitely would have just laid right over. I’ve been an Elliott Sadler fan growing up, so if I wanted somebody to win that owner championship, or driver championship, it would have been him. Just, I can’t not listen to my owner. I can’t not listen to my, the guy who’s paying you in the end, so it’s just a tough deal. It’s crappy in the end - but I hate controversy.”

Sadler slid back to finish in the eighth spot. Preece, who made a spectacular save in the ordeal, went on to finish fifth.

Byron will graduate from the NASCAR XFINITY Series and move into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018. The driver will take over the No. 24 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports. Chase Elliott will move from the No. 24 Chevrolet and into the No. 9 Chevrolet. Alex Bowman will join the team to pilot the No. 88 ride.

Justin Allgaier was the third highest finishing Championship 4 driver in 12th. Allgaier started the day in 16th and couldn’t make a charge for the championship in his No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. He’ll finish the year with two wins, 10 top five and 17 top 10 finishes.

Daniel Hemric was looking strong as one of the Championship 4 drivers through stage one. Hemric ended stage one as the highest Championship 4 driver in seventh. Shortly after that, Hemric, driving the No. 21 Poppy Bank Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, had a battery issue that forced Hemric down pit road.

The costly issue kept the team on pit road for 11 circuits as they diagnosed the problem. The young racer will leave Homestead with a 34th-place finish and 13 laps down.

Team Penske’s No. 22 team will end the season with the owner's championship on Saturday. The No. 22 Ford team finished one-point ahead of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet team.

“Great day. It didn’t look really good after the first stint. I didn’t have any brakes left. Not sure what happened. We’ve been having a little bit of a brake issue,” said Hornish. “I may have rode them too hard trying to get the car to do what  I wanted it to do. The Ford Mustang came to life after we were able to make some changes on it on the first stop. I basically didn’t use any brakes on the last 155 laps. It was great that we didn’t have a bunch of restarts. I felt that if we did we might have had to makes some adjustment to run with Cole.”

“I guess when you look at the guys that drove the car and certainly Sam today with all the pressure on him. The 9, the 18 and 20, there were four of us that could win this championship and obviously the way they ran the race, the strategy was perfect and Cole Custer had a great car so congratulations to him,” said owner Roger Penske. “More importantly is when you think about Austin (Cindric), Ryan Blaney, Brad (Keselowski) and Joey (Logano) all driving this car during the season. We have to take our hat off to Greg Erwin and the guys on the 22 team because they did a teriffic job. We are happy with it. Obviously I hope I am sitting here tomorrow but at the end of the day this is Saturday and we had a great run.”

The car featured numerous drivers throughout 2017 -- including MENCS drivers Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski. The list also included Sam Hornish Jr., and Austin Cindric.

The five drivers scored a combined total of four victories throughout the season.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series will head into the long offseason before returning to action on February 17, 2018 at Daytona International Speedway. Stay tuned to all offseason for news and notes regarding the upcoming season!

Tyler Reddick will start on the pole at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Ford EcoBoost 300. Reddick, driving the No. 42 BBR / Granger Smith Chevrolet, posted a 32.604, 165.624 mph in the final round of qualifying to earn the pole for the NASCAR XFINITY Series season finale.

Reddick scored his second career XFINITY Series pole. Through 17 starts in 2017, Reddick holds a victory, three top five, and five top 10 finishes.

Cole Custer sat 0.141 seconds behind Reddick when the final round concluded. Custer posted a 32.745, 164.911 mph in the final round piloting his No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.

The 19-year old racer enters the weekend looking to score his first ever win in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Through 32 races, Custer holds five top five and 14 top 10 finishes this season.

Christopher Bell, who won the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series just one day ago, will start third on the leaderboard. Bell, who surprised everyone by winning at Kansas Speedway in October, posted a 32.810, 164.584 mph. in the final round.  

Daniel Hemric will be the highest starting Championship 4 driver at Homestead. Hemric will start fourth on the leaderboard when the Ford EcoBoost 300 goes green. William Byron will be the next highest Playoff driver in sixth. Other Playoff contenders of Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier will start 14th and 16th.

43 drivers appeared on the weekend entry list at Homestead. The three drivers that did not make the race will be Quin Houff, Matt Mills, and Morgan Shepherd.

On Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Aric Almirola will strap into the famous No. 43 Ford for one last time before moving to Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2018 season. While quiet, Almirola and Richard Petty Motorsports broke many droughts surrounding the iconic No. 43 during their time together.

While racing for the team in 2014, Almirola took the famous No. 43 to victory lane at Daytona in the Coke-Zero 400. The trip to victory lane was the first since 1999 for one of the most iconic numbers in all of NASCAR with driver John Andretti at Martinsville Speedway.

With the win in 2014, Richard Petty Motorsports punched their ticket into the NASCAR Playoffs for just their second time in team history. In the opening race of the playoffs at Chicagoland Speedway that year, Almirola had an engine let go and that ultimately ended their playoff hopes.

In addition to scoring his first career win with one of the most well-known teams in NASCAR, Almirola also scored his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole with them in 2012 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The pole was the first for the No. 43 Ford since John Andretti at Phoenix Raceway in 1999.

"It's been a great time racing for Richard Petty Motorsports," said Almirola in a team release. "Richard and the Petty family gave me the opportunity to get into Cup racing full-time, and I appreciate that.  I wish them nothing but the best."

Almirola holds the most starts of any driver at Richard Petty Motorsports since their inception in 2009. Team owner Richard Petty described what it was like to work with Almirola since joining the small car operation in 2009.

"Aric always did everything we asked him to do," said team owner Richard Petty in a release. "He brought the '43' back to Victory Lane for us, and that was just as special for me as it was for him.  We really thank him for everything he has done."

While Almirola moves on to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018, Richard Petty Motorsports will welcome a new driver behind the wheel of the iconic No. 43. That new driver will be Darrell Wallace Jr.

Wallace filled-in for Almirola for four races after sustaining a heavy crash that resulted in a back injury at Kansas Speedway in May. The crash sidelined Almirola for eight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races as he recovered.

The 33-year old racer from Florida holds one victory, 11 top five and 32 top 10 finishes in NASCAR’s premier series. Through 28 races in 2017, Almirola has taken the No. 43 Ford to three top five and six top 10 finishes through 28 starts and takes an average finish of 18.8 into the season finale.

Matt Kenseth spoiled the field at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday afternoon by taking his No. 20 Toyota to victory lane in an exciting late-race pass for the lead. Kenseth, driving the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, picked up his first win of the season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

“Yeah, it’s really not describable. With only two left, I didn’t think we were probably had a good chance of getting back to victory lane,” said an emotional Kenseth after the race. “It’s been I don’t know how many races – somebody’s probably going to tell me tonight – but it’s been at least 50 or 60, so it’s been a long time. We’ve had a lot of close ones. Just felt like it was never meant to be and today it was meant to be.”

The 39th career win did not come easy for the series veteran. Kenseth passed the strong car of Denny Hamlin on lap 232 and held the spot until being passed by Chase Elliott on lap 284. With 10 laps remaining, Kenseth re-took the lead from Elliott and was gone from there.

“Well, kept doing them cycles and short runs and we were a little too tight all day, but we were really pretty happy with it and when we got in front, we were just too loose and I got loose on that restart and Chase (Elliott) got by me and as soon as he got by me, it actually made my car better and I saw him get loose and starting to slip, so I knew we were going to have a heck of a race,” Kenseth added.

Elliott came 1.207 seconds why of scoring his first career win in the series and clinching a spot in the Final Four at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Since the inception of the Playoffs in 2004, it’ll be the first time ever that a Chevrolet will not have a shot at the championship. Elliott will leave Phoenix with a second-place finish.

‘Yeah, for sure. We were so close to having another shot next week. But man, I can’t say enough for our team and our Hooter’s Chevrolet this weekend,” said Elliott after the 312-lap event. “We fought really hard today and gave ourselves a chance. Our car was really fast on those short runs after a caution and after pit cycles on tires. It fired off really good and we did pretty good on the short run all day and got really tight as the run went long. And once the rubber laid back down I was just hanging on and hop I could get to traffic before I started going away. It’s just such a bummer. I was telling my guys we’ll get it right someday, or I’ll get it right someday. We’ve had so many good opportunities and at some point, we’ve just got to close.”

In addition to today’s victory, Kenseth goes into the season finale next Sunday, possibly his last ever premier series start, with 10 top five and 17 top 10 finishes through 35 races.

Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top three finishers in Sunday’s Can-Am 500K. Truex started the day in fifth and finished eighth in stage one and fourth in stage two. Having seven wins and 69 Playoff points, Truex came into the weekend already locked into the Final Four at Homestead and just needed a smooth Sunday drive.

Truex will be the only driver racing for their first ever Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship next week.

In addition to Truex, Brad Keselowski, who finished 16th, Kevin Harvick, who finished fifth, and Kyle Busch, who finished seventh, will all be racing for the series championship at Homestead.

“We overcame a lot of obstacles and jumped a lot of hurdles today. I am glad I don’t have to relive this day, that is for sure,” said 2012 champion Keselowski. “I am just looking forward to going to Homestead. This feels a little bit like Christmas. Sometimes you need a little luck on your side. Today we had that. It wasn’t by any means where we wanted to run. We wanted to run up front and have a shot for the win. That wasn’t in the cards. We tried to run the smartest race we could and survive and it ended up paying off in the end.”  

Erik Jones, the highest finishing rookie at Phoenix Raceway, held a top 10 spot throughout the three stages and will leave the track with a fourth-place finish.

On-track drama occurred as the laps clicked off for a spot into the Final Four at Homestead. Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott raced door-to-door for the victory when Hamlin made contact with the wall. The No. 11 Toyota showed some smoke and lost numerous positions before a tire finally let go on lap 274.

The incident in turn three ended the day for Hamlin and his shot at racing for the title next week.

“We got ran into the fence by the 24 (Chase Elliott) when we running up front all day,” said Hamlin. “We had a bad pit stop and then we didn’t really make any adjustments. Our car got really tight and we were just battling all we could to keep our track position. We weren’t and we allowed out competition to get close to us.”

Hamlin wasn’t the only driver looking to get into the Final Four at Homestead with a win that had issues. The day for Jimmie Johnson ended on lap 149 in turn three due to a right-front tire failure because of a melted bead. The incident ended their day and the seven-time champion finished 39th.

“No, I really didn’t have any warning. I knew I was hard on the brakes, but the run before we didn’t have any issues reported back,” said Johnson after the incident. “So, I felt like I was kind of doing the same thing. Unfortunately, with so few laps to go to the end of the Stage, as soon as I went in the corner and touched the brakes, the right front just blew. So, I hate it for this team. They’ve worked so hard all year long and I’m very proud of their efforts. It’s obviously not the result that we want, but we’re Hendrick strong and I’m proud of my Team 48 and very thankful for this sport that Lowe’s and Kobalt gives us, and Chevrolet. Unfortunately, we won’t have a chance to make eight (championship titles) this year, but we’ll come back next year and try real hard.”

Ryan Blaney will also not advance into the Final Four at Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend. Blaney started on the pole and led the field for 11 circuits before being passed by eventual second-place finisher Chase Elliott. The young racer finished the afternoon in 17th.

Non-Playoff driver Kyle Larson recorded his fourth-consecutive DNF on Sunday. The California native, one of the fan-favorites going into the NASCAR Playoffs, developed an engine issue around lap 106. The team came down pit road and went under the hood before parking the car in the garage. The DNF will be will be the second of the season for the team as a result of an engine.

The series will move onto Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season finale. Coverage of the event will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET. on NBC. The Motor Racing Network will carry the live radio broadcast.

Ryan Blaney will start on the pole at Phoenix Raceway for the Can-Am 500 on Sunday. Blaney, piloting the No. 21 Ford for Wood Brothers Racing, posted a 26.098, 137.942 mph to score his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole.

Blaney enters the weekend in a must-win situation in order to make the Final Four at Homestead-Miami Speedway next week. The young racer sits 17 Playoff points behind Brad Keselowski for that final spot.

Blaney’s earlier pole came in May at Kansas Speedway. The No. 21 Ford led the field for 83 of the 267 circuits and went on to finish fourth. In addition to his win at Pocono Raceway, Blaney holds four top five and 14 top 10 finishes through 34 races in 2017.

Denny Hamlin, another driver looking to get into the Final Four at Homestead-Miami Speedway, will start beside Blaney in the No. 11 FedEx Toyota. Hamlin posted a 26.099, 137.936 mph lap in the final round of knockout qualifying.

The Virginia native enters the weekend sitting 12 Playoff points behind Brad Keselowski.

Hamlin comes into Phoenix with two victories, 15 top five and 21 top 10 finishes.

Kyle Larson will round out the top-three starters on Sunday. Larson, the highest qualifying non-playoff driver, posted a 26.101, 137.926 mph to earn the third-place starting spot.

Playoff drivers Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott will round out the top-five drivers on Sunday.

Playoff drivers further back inside the top 10 include Kevin Harvick in sixth and Kyle Busch in eighth. Jimmie Johnson, who will be starting 12th, and Brad Keselowski, in 16th, are the only two Playoff contenders that will start the Can-Am 500 outside the top 10.

There were no on-track incidents throughout the three rounds of knockout qualifying.

With 40 drivers appearing on the weekend entry list, there were no DNQs.

NASCAR announced a pair of penalties found over the weekend in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garage at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday. The penalties included one lug nut violation and an encumbered finish following the Jag Metals 350K at the 1.5-mile Texas oval.

Ryan Fugle, crew chief of the No. 4 Toyota driven by Christopher Bell, has been fined $2,500 for lug nut(s) not properly installed.

The most severe penalty was issued to the No. 24 team driven by Justin Haley. The No. 24 Chevrolet violated sections and (Post-Race Front and Rear Body Inspection Heights Note: Post-Race height measurements were outside NASCAR allowed tolerances.)

Kevin Bellicourt, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet driven by Justin Haley, has been fined $5,000 and suspended for the next NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points event. As a result of the L1 penalty, the team will also lose 10 owner and driver points.

The fifth-place finish by Haley at Texas will be encumbered.

There were no penalties issued at Texas in the NASCAR XFINITY or Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Erik Jones will end the night celebrating in victory lane at Texas Motor Speedway after starting the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 on the pole. Jones, driving the No. 20 GameStop Call of Duty WII Toyota, led the field for 142 circuits to score his third win of the season for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“Yeah, we did. I thought starting the race off, man we’re really fast, we’re really good, this is going to be a mostly dominant race for us and didn’t turn out that way,” said Jones after the race. “We led a lot of laps, but it seemed like we were really working for it, but you know that’s kind of the way it is. The XFINITY Series has really gotten tighter and tighter year by year and it’s been really close all year long, so just happy to get the GameStop Camry back in victory lane again. It’s been a few months since I’ve gotten a win, since they’ve gotten a win, so happy to come back to Texas again and grab another one.”

Jones made his 17th start of the season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and holds eight top five and nine top 10 finishes. The Michigan native has an average start of 5.2 and an average finish of 13.4.

Ryan Blaney nearly passed eventual race-winner Jones in the closing laps. However, with about four laps remaining, Blaney had to deal with some lap cars that stalled his run for the lead. The driver from North Carolina will leave Texas with a runner-up finish.

“I thought the track took another swing free with maybe 60 to go and got our car looser again but we were still able to run down the 20 and get to him but we just couldn’t pass him. Couldn’t pass anybody,” said Blaney. “Lap cars were all over the place. I thought it was a good night for us. It just stinks we couldn’t get around him. I thought we had a shot after the green-flag stop. I thought we were way better but we got held up a couple times by traffic. I thought we had the car to win, just a matter of trying to get in front of him and I couldn’t pass anybody. I tried to get him loose a couple times and couldn’t do it. I about wrecked myself trying to get him loose. It is really hard to get around anybody. Hopefully that gets a little better for tomorrow.”

The driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford for Team Penske Racing will leave with his 11th top five and 11th top 10 finish through 12 races.

Kyle Larson rounded out the top three finishers on Saturday evening. Larson led the field for four laps and had numerous issues throughout the event. At the end of stage two, Larson hit pit road while pit road was still closed. They realized what had happened and did not make a pit stop in their box. Since they didn’t stop in their pit box, and instead of having a tail of the field penalty, NASCAR allowed Larson to blend into the field where he came off of pit road.

The driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet from California has nine top five and 10 top 10 finishes this season. Through those 11 starts, Larson has a total of three victories.

Elliott Sadler and Cole Custer rounded out the top five.

Christopher Bell made his sixth NASCAR XFINITY Series start of the season on Saturday. Bell, from Oklahoma, entered Texas with momentum after going to victory lane the last time out at Kansas Speedway two weekends ago.

The young star in the Camping World Truck Series scored a sixth-place finish at Texas. In addition to his victory at Kansas, Bell now has two top five and four top 10 finishes.

Bell rebounded after spinning in turn two on lap 81.

Daniel Hemric started the day with a backup car after crashing hard late in final practice on Friday. Hemric, driving the No. 21 Blue Gate Bank Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, started sixth and finished one-lap down in 14th.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series will head to Phoenix International Raceway for the Ticket Galaxy 200. Coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET. on NBC. The Motor Racing Network will handle the live radio broadcast of the race.

Erik Jones will start on the pole on Saturday evening at Texas Motor Speedway. Jones, driving the No. 20 GameStop Call of Duty WII Toyota, posted a 28.232, 191.272 mph in the final round of qualifying. The Michigan native earned his 14th career XFINITY Series pole as a result.

The rising star finished fourth in round one and sat atop the leaderboard in round two of qualifying. Jones goes into the 1.5-mile oval with two victories, seven top five and eight top 10 finishes through 16 races in 2017.

Cole Custer was the highest XFINITY Series regular in qualifying and will start second. Custer, driving the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford, posted a 28.406, 190.101 mph in the last five-minute round of qualifying. The young driver comes into Texas Motor Speedway looking to score his first career XFINITY Series win.

Matt Tifft will round out the top-three starters on Saturday at Texas. Tifft, a teammate to pole-sitter Erik Jones, posted a 28.428, 189.954 mph to earn the third starting spot in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. Tifft, like Custer, enters the night looking to score his first career win in the series.

Ryan Blaney and Elliott Sadler will round out the top-five starters.

40 cars appeared on the weekend entry list at Texas. That means there were no DNQ’s after round one of qualifying.

NASCAR announced infractions found over the weekend at Martinsville Speedway on Wednesday. The penalties involved a pair of improperly secured lug nut fines and an L1 penalty in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage. There were no infractions found over the weekend in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garage area.

Scott Graves, crew chief of the No. 19 Toyota of Daniel Suarez, and Robert Barker, crew chief of the No. 13 Chevrolet of Ty Dillon, were each fined $10,000 for a lug nut not properly installed.

The most major penalty was an L1 penalty handed down to the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford of Clint Bowyer. The team violated section (TV Video Package Notes: TV Video Package simulated weight did not meet NASCAR specifications.)

As a result, crew chief Michael Bugarewicz has been fined $25,000 and suspended from the next Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Points event. The team will also lose 10 driver and owner points.

The third-place finish by Clint Bowyer in Sunday’s First Data 500 will also be encumbered.

There were some post-race fireworks on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway at the conclusion of the First Data 500. The two drivers involved were Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin that sent the race into a NASCAR Overtime finish.

Coming to the white flag, Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin were battling for the win heading into turn three. Hamlin made contact with race leader Chase Elliott that sent him around into the outside wall. Hamlin, from Virginia, resumed with the race lead as the caution came out.

Elliott, one of eight drivers racing for a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship, continued and finished 27th on the leaderboard. However, when the First Data 500 race ended, both drivers traded some paint and stopped on the backstretch to share their displeasures with one another. Neither driver threw a punch as they talked the incident out with NASCAR officials standing near.

What Elliott observed from his perspective:

“Yeah, just like I said on TV, I got punted from behind and wrecked in Turn 3 leading the race.  I don’t know what his problem was,” said. “It was unnecessary I hadn’t raced him dirty all-day long.  There was no reason for that and he comes over and talks to me a second ago and tells me he had somebody pushing him into Turn 3.  I thought that was funny because there was nobody within two car lengths of him into Turn 3 behind myself.  I don’t know what the deal was, but it is so disappointing.  We had the best car I’ve ever had here at Martinsville.  And had an opportunity to go straight to Homestead and because of him we don’t.”

From Hamlin’s perspective:

“I got into the back of him (Chase Elliott) and he spun out. Trying to get a race win, everyone wrecked everybody there at the end,” said Hamlin after the race. “It was complete bullsh-- chaos. I got in the back of him and he spun out. Somebody got into the back of me and I wrecked too. It was just a mess at the end. I mean, you know everybody is doing the exact same thing. I hate it for his team, I understand they had a win for a long time coming, but this is a ticket to Homestead. Not sure you know – I’m not sitting here saying I wrecked him on purpose and I tried to move him out of the way and spun out.”

Hamlin, a NASCAR Playoff driver who led the field for seven circuits at Martinsville, left his home track with a seventh-place finish.

Hamlin’s teammate Kyle Busch ended the night victorious at Martinsville Speedway. Busch, a driver from Las Vegas and 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, scored his fifth win of the year and locks himself into the Championship Four at Homestead-Miami Speedway.