After earning his first pole since 2019, another 2019 stat comes back to life for Kyle Busch. For the first time since 2019, Kyle Busch has three wins in a single season. “Definitely learned how to take on these overtime restarts after this race from last year,” stated Busch in the Media Center, talking about his second place finish in the 2023 race at Gateway. “Racing against Larson, Hamlin, and Blaney at the end there. Larson raced me with a lot of respect there at the end, and that will definitely be repaid in the future for sure.”
Two things were big factors in the second running of the Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway. First was lightning strikes, as it delayed the race for nearly one hour and 45 minutes after completing only five laps of 240.
The other thing would be Brake Rotors, as they took out several contenders throughout the event. Five of the 11 cautions that took place Sunday afternoon were due to Brake Rotor’s exploding. Coincidentally, all of them took place entering turn one. Tyler Reddick (twice), Carson Hocevar, Noah Gragson, and Bubba Wallace all felt like their brakes were falling off a bit sometime during the race, and then slammed into the turn one wall moments later. It even caused NASCAR to red flag the event for the third time to weld parts of the safer barrier back together.
Hocevar was doing well in his first NASCAR Cup Series start when he ran in the top 20 for the first 90 laps, but was then collected in a scary hit that ended his day. “Our No. 7 Chevrolet was doing a great job, and I’m so thankful to be standing here,” Hocevar stated to Kim Coon of the Motor Racing Network. “I just want to prove that I can race here on Sunday’s like I’ve been dreaming about forever. Hopefully we caught a lot of people's attention.
One driver the folks in the NASCAR industry had an eye on this race was Corey LaJoie, who filled in for the suspended Chase Elliott this weekend in St. Louis. LaJoie, like most of the Hendrick Motorsport cars Sunday, struggled throughout the event. On the first lap while shifting gears, LaJoie accidentally flipped the killswitch inside his No. 9 Chevy, causing him an early pit stop to make sure everything was okay. LaJoie finished his first big opportunity with a winning race organization in the 21st position.
Next week, the NASCAR Cup Series will make the trip out west once again, this time to the Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., the second of six road courses on the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Calendar.
Busch scores the pole at World Wide Technology Raceway
Kyle Busch, who drives the No. 8 Chevy Camaro for Richard Childress Racing, is on the pole for Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway, with a speed of 137.187 mph. This comes as a surprise, as this has been considered one of Ford’s best tracks on the schedule, with four of the 10 drivers in the final round of qualifying driving Ford Mustangs.
“It was a really good lap for us,” stated Busch in the Media Center. “Being able to qualify number one and get the first pit selection is going to hopefully pay good dividends for us.”
Here is the top 10 starters for the Enjoy Illinois 300
1. Kyle Busch: 137.187 mph
2. Ryan Blaney: 137:153 mph
3. Denny Hamlin: 136.903 mph
4. Kevin Harvick: 136.766 mph
5. Martin Truex Jr.: 136.360 mph
6. Joey Logano: 136.339 mph
7. William Byron: 136.240 mph
8. Ross Chastain: 135.993 mph
9. Tyler Reddick: 135.788 mph
10. Austin Cindric: 135.530 mph
The NASCAR Cup Series race at World WIde Technology Raceway will start at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Enfinger scores big win at Kansas
Grant Enfinger and his No. 23 GMS Chevy Silverado survived 200 miles of chaos to score first win since Indianapolis Raceway Park in 2022. Enfinger led 65 of 134 laps, and finished fourth in stage one as well as second in stage two.
“A huge night for us,” stated Enfinger in the Media Center. “From the drop of the green flag, we had a really good Chevy Silverado that just started out really tight. Honestly, the first stage was the only time I didn't think we were capable of contending for this race. Jeff made one adjustment on the truck to come and end that first stage as soon as we put on tires the first time. I felt like from that point forward, we were potentially the best truck out there. There were some other guys that were really good, but I definitely feel like we had the truck to beat tonight. You never know how these mile and a half races are going to play out.”
Some other notes about Saturday night’s truck race in the Heartland.
- Ty Majeski and Rajah Caruth collide on lap 74 on the frontstretch after Caruth blocks Majeski aggressively for third. Caruth and Majeski met up after the race on pit road and talked for nearly 10 minutes, before ‘agreeing to disagree’ on what happened during the race.
- Toni Breidinger finished 15th tonight in her first ever NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start, the Heart of America 200 at Kansas Speedway.
- The 2023 Heart of America 200 had sweven cautions (including a five truck pile up on a restart in turn one) and lasted 2:01:56 hours, and had nine different leaders.
The tough trucks of NASCAR will next compete at Darlington Raceway next Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on FS1.
Eckes sweeps practice and qualifying at Kansas
Christian Eckes is setting himself for a great weekend at Kansas Speedway. Not only did the driver of the No. 19 McAnally Hilgemann Chevy Silverado score the fastest time in practices (30.084 seconds), but he also found himself on the pole for Saturday night’s Heart Of America 200, with a time of 30.932 seconds around the 1.5 mile facility.
“I feel pretty good, man,” Eckes said to Josh Sims of FOX Sports. “Every time I come out there to race with these guys, I have a blast. It’s really fun to race these fast trucks. It's probably been four years since I sat on a pole, so that's pretty cool and I'm more looking forward to the race.”
The Heart Of America 200 at Kansas Speedway will kick off at 8 p.m. Eastern on FS1.
Monday for Martin: Truex Jr., snags big win at Dover
It's been a big weekend for the Truex family at the Monster Mile. Not only did Ryan Truex pick up his first career win on Saturday afternoon, but his older brother Martin Truex Jr., snagged his first win since the fall Richmond weekend in 2021, and his first in the Next Gen car.
“Unbelievable weekend. I love coming up here to Dover. It’s been an awesome track for us over the years, for me and our team. It’s amazing to get back to Victory Lane at my first home track.”
Truex Jr., also was happy to see his younger brother Ryan win the Xfinity race on Saturday, making it the 13th time in NASCAR history that brothers have swept the NASCAR weekend.
Obviously a special weekend for the family with Ryan winning Saturday in his first Xfinity win, so pretty cool to do that and get added to that list of brothers that have swept the weekend. Super special, and definitely really happy, thankful to my team and all of our sponsors, Bass Pro Shops and Auto Owners and Reser’s and Toyota and TRD and everybody that makes this happen. Feels good just to finally, finally put one all together. We’ve had some real heartbreakers in the past year or so, and feel like we gave away seven, eight, nine races in that time.”
The race was supposed to be run on Sunday afternoon, but due to the persistent rain in Delaware, NASCAR made the call at 10 a.m. Eastern to pull the plug on Sunday, and to fire the engines on Monday. Truex Jr., actually scored his fourth career win at Dover Motor Speedway, three of those victories (including this year’s) being run on a Monday due to rain.
While Truex Jr., won the race and had a strong car, several other names like William Byron and Ross Chastain showed that they could compete with the fast Toyota’s. But one name who did not have a great trip to the Monster Mile was ‘22 NASCAR champion Joey Logano, who ended up finishing the race in the garage due to a crash with 13 to go, after being down nine laps due to issues.
Overall, the 2023 Wurth 400 at Dover Motor Speedway had seven cautions for 46 laps, 19 lead changes, and lasted 3:27:47 hours for an average speed of 115.505 mph. This Sunday, the NASCAR Cup Series makes its way to the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., for the 13th annual AdventHealth 400. The last time NASCAR came to Kansas, Bubba Wallace won the race for his second career victory, and the Toyota’s look to score their third straight victory at the Kansas Speedway, after having a slow start to the 2023 season. The AdventHealth 400 can be seen/heard at 3 p.m. Eastern (2 p.m. Central) on FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Even with only two cars on the lead lap, IndyCar at Texas Motor Speedway proves that they produce great racing on 1.5 mile tracks. After leading 123 laps of the 250, Josef Newgarden in the No. 2 Chevy for Team Penske scored his second straight win at Texas Motor Speedway.
“It was a group effort this weekend,” stated Newgarden in victory lane. “Pato (O’Ward) gave me the most respect in the world there. It was just really hard to fight them guys there. There were no give me’s today. It was very difficult to get away from the other drivers. After what happened at St. Pete, I was rethinking everything. I’m just so happy to get this done for Team Penske.”
Pato O’Ward looked to have had this race in the b ag during the middle portion of the 250 laps, when he lapped up to third place leaving him and Newgarden on the lead lap. After a couple of late cautions that lead to a restart with 12 to go, he, Newgarden, and No. 10 Alex Palou battled it out for the win. Unfortunately with two laps to go, Romain Grosjean spun and went into the wall just entering the backstretch, bringing out the yellow flag and ending the race while Newgarden was in the lead.
O’Ward spoke with NBC Sports after the race and said, “It’s been a hell of a start to the year. The guys gave me an absolute rocketship. It’s been an absolute joy to drive this Arrow McLaren Chevrolet. We’ve had two straight second place finishes to start off the year, but we’re still looking for that win. This is a great start for getting a championship, and that's what we needed.”
This was the first of five oval races on the 17 race schedule of the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series, with the next oval race being the 107th Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend. When asked if IndyCar should add more ovals, Palou and O’Ward had their thoughts.
“I think the ones we have on the schedule do a great job,” stated Palou. “I don’t know if we should add more to the schedule.” O’Ward stated, “I haven’t had the opportunity to race at Richmond or Milwaukee, but I have seen that it provides great racing. I would love for the schedule to be longer than it is.”
Eight guys led at least one lap in the 2023 running of the PPG 375, after 27 lead changes (most since the 2001 Texas race with 33). Here are the leaders/laps led count of the race.
No. 2 Josef Newgarden: 123 laps
No. 5 Pato O’Ward: 91 laps
No. 10 Alex Palou: 22 laps
No. 26 Colton Herta: 4 laps
No. 6 Felix Rosenquist: 4 laps
No. 9 Scott Dixon: 3 laps
No. 28 Romain Grosjean: 2 laps
No. 51 Sting Ray Robb: 1 lap
Here are the top 10 finishers of the PPG 375
1st: No. 2 Josef Newgarden
2nd: No. 5 Pato O’Ward
3rd: No. 10 Alex Palou
4th: No. 18 David Malukas
5th: No. 9 Scott Dixon
6th: No. 3 Scott McLaughin
7th: No. 26 Colton Herta
8th: No. 8 Marcus Ericsson
9th: No. 77 Callum Illott
10th: No. 06 Helio Castroneves
In two weeks on April 16th, the NTT IndyCar Series will take on the Long Beach Grand Prix in Long Beach, Calif.
Hocevar steals first victory after last lap chaos
There are two sides of the story from Texas Saturday afternoon. On one hand, a future star of the sport finally got the monkey off of his back after 59 starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series being winless, and won his first race with only leading one lap.
On the other hand, a top notch rookie felt true pain this afternoon, after leading 168 of 172 laps the entire day, just to be involved in yet another overtime-filled wreckfest.
Carson Hocevar, driver of the No. 42 Chevy Silverado, was the victor in the craziness that occurred at Texas Motor Speedway. On the other hand, Nick Sanchez, who drives the No. 2 Chevy Silverado for Rev Racing and led 168 of 172 laps, was wrecked on the final lap in route to his first win in four starts.
“It feels really good that this thing's coming home with me and gets to sit there,” stated Hocevar in the Media Center. “Finally, every media outlet and every friend and family can finally stop saying, ‘Today's your day.’ So today was finally our day, and I can finally stop getting asked that.”
On the final lap, Sanchez and defending Truck Series champion Zane Smith were racing hard in turn one, before they both lost control of their trucks. Hocevar kept his foot on the gas, which led to some contact with Sanchez before he slammed against the SAFER barrier. Hocevar said the contact was not intentional.
“You don't want to ever wreck a guy, especially with the speeds here in Texas. I don't want to play the hurt card, but I've gotten hurt before. I know what it feels like, and I don't wanna do that intentionally.”
But now, Hocevar is one of 123 drivers to win in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Even as a 20 year old, Carson said he will celebrate this big win. “Tonight, I will watch a lot of people get drunk. That's what I'm doing.”
Scott Dixon fastest in final practice
Scott Dixon, who pilots the No. 9 Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, scored the fastest lap time in final practice after posting a speed of 222.378 mph at the Texas Motor Speedway Saturday afternoon. In a practice where Team Penske had all three of their cars in the top five with Josef Newgarden earning the top spot, Dixon ended up posting a faster lap time late in the session.
Here are the top 10 fastest cars in final practice.
1: Scott Dixon - 222.378 mph
2: Josef Newgarden - 221.792 mph
3: Takuma Sato - 220.992 mph
4: Scott McLaughlin - 220.866 mph
5: Colton Herta - 220.807 mph
6: Will Power - 220.583 mph
7: Callum Ilott - 220.462 mph
8: Felix Rosenquist - 220.115 mph
9: Alex Palou - 219.868 mph
10: Marcus Ericsson - 219.674 mph
Sanchez captures pole at Texas Motor Speedway
Nick Sanchez, who drives the No. 2 Chevy Silverado for REV Racing, scored his first ever pole in his NASCAR career, with a top speed of 185.51 mph (29.109 seconds) around the 1.5 mile Texas Motor Speedway for this evening’s SpeedyCash.com 250.
“Practice was just about understanding the balance of the truck and what I needed to do differently,” stated Sanchez. “There were a lot of question marks coming into this weekend;. the way the track was and what kind of a grip it would have. I'd never driven here in a truck, but I drove in an Xfinity car, so I kind of knew what I did then. I got to go through trial and error of that. I think that will help me for the race and then qualify.”
Sanchez went into detail on what the differences were when he drove here last fall in the No. 48 Chevy Camaro in the Xfinity Series, and driving his No. 2 Chevy Silverado this afternoon.
“The Xfinity car is way more edgy. It's a little harder, and I really didn't really know what I was looking for as a car when I ran the sim and when I talked to the team. I think that hurts me with how edgy they are. I think the swing is a little bit more than the trucks, as you could drive a little bit more edgy. I would say, trucks are definitely easier to qualify here than an Xfinity car, just because you are wide open.”
Sanchez will start alongside Jack Wood (No. 51 Chevy SIlverado) this afternoon, to run 167 laps in the SpeedyCash.com 250, starting at 4 p.m. Eastern on FS1.
Rosenquist on pole for Texas
Felix Rosenquist (No. 6 Arrow McLaren) set down two great laps at the 1.5 mile Texas Motor Speedway, averaging a speed of 220.264 mph, landing him the number one spot for Sunday’s PPG 375, with Chip Ganassi’s Scott Dixon starting in second. Scott McLaughlin (No. 6), who was fastest in the first practice session, was only able to qualify 18th, the last of the three Team Penske Chevrolet’s (Newgarden in fourth, Power in eighth). Rosenquist was the only IndyCar driver to reach the 220’s mph speed range on Saturday afternoon in qualifying, but he has a chance to make his fast Chevrolet even better, as IndyCar will have another practice session later this afternoon.