Suarez Makes NASCAR History
Daniel Suarez will win the Ford EcoBoost 300 and the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Suarez becomes the first international driver to win a championship in one of NASCAR’s top three series. He is the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program to win a Xfinity Series championship.
With the victory at Homestead-Miami, Joe Gibbs will also win the owner’s championship. Erik Jones will be the 2016 Rookie of the Year for the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
“I’m just so proud of this team and everyone who has helped me get to this point. I just can’t believe this,” said Suarez, surrounded by family and crew members in victory lane.
The first half of the race began with a quick pull away from Suarez. Erik Jones began to drop as he tried to find his way to the top lane. However, the caution flew on lap five due to a spin by Brandon Hightower. On the restart, the outside lane proved to be the strongest. The field began to spread out and run the high line in the early part of the race. However, Larson was able to get up to Suarez and pass him for the lead. However, the caution flag flew again for a spin by Ryan Reed. During pit stops, the hose gun for Suarez got caught and caused him to lose two spots on pit road. On the restart, Larson was able to clear Justin Allgaier to keep the lead. Suarez was able to clear Larson a couple laps later to gain the lead. As the run progressed, drivers were moving closer to the wall, and Allgaier began to reel in Suarez. Allgaier was unable to pass Suarez for the lead. As the field moved closer to the wall, Larson and Allgaier were kissing the wall. Ty Dillon was able to pass Allgaier after his car turned tight after he kissed the wall. As green flag pit stops occurred, an uncontrolled tire from Brandon Jones made its way onto the pit lane. As pit stops cycled through, Larson was able to retain the lead. After pit stops cycled through, the caution flew for fluid on the speedway. On the restart, Ty Dillon was able to gain the lead, but Suarez was able to gain the lead at the halfway point. Dillon moved to second, Allfaier was third, Aric Almirola was fourth, and Larson rounded out the top five.
At the beginning of the second half, E. Jones scraped the outside wall, but continued. As the green flag run progressed, Suarez was beginning to fade in the run as T. Dillon was able to gain the lead. E. Jones and tea began to report that there was a hole in the nose. The caution flew for Brennan Poole who had tires going down after hitting the wall. As the sun began to set, the track began to change. Suarez was able to gain the lead on the restart. The caution flew for a spin by Reed that caught Jordan Anderson, who caught on fire, and Jeremy Clements. NASCAR red-flagged the field for cleanup. On the restart, Suarez was able to gain the lead as the field went four wide into turn one. The championship four were able to get together and separate themselves from the field. However, Sadler hit the wall and Allgaier was able to grab the lead. However, E. Jones was able to pass Allgaier for the race lead. However, the caution flew debris. However, Suarez was able to win the race off pit road as Jones had a slow stop. With under 10 laps remaining, the caution flew for a spin on the front stretch by Ray Black Jr. On the resatart, Cole Whitt was the control car, but held up the field and gave Suarez the lead and the race win. T. Dillon finished second, Sadler finished third, Blaney finished fourth, and A. Dillon finished fifth.
Sadler finished second in the championship with Allgaier and E. Jones rounding out the top-four in the championship standings.
The race saw 21 lead changes among 11 different drivers. Suarez led the most laps at 133. The caution flew seven times for 39 laps. The race went on for 2 hours, 39 minutes, and two seconds.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will have a 98 day off season before their season begins next year at Daytona International Speedway to kick off the 2017 season.
Opinion: It is On!
Joe Gibbs Racing did what they had to do over the past two race weekends at Talladega and Martinsville to ensure the shot to be crowned the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway later this month.
At Talladega Superspeedway, Joe Gibbs Racing was criticized for playing it safe by having three of their four cars ride around in the back in an effort to avoid the potential of the “Big One”. There efforts and strategy at Talladega was able to get all four of the cars into the next round in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
However, that strategy was deemed as a violation of NASCAR’s 100 percent rule that was implemented in 2013 after the Michael Waltrip Racing debacle at Richmond International Raceway.
At Talladega, JGR did what they had to do in an effort to get all four cars into the next round and a shot at a championship. Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, and Matt Kenseth came into Talladega above the cutline while teammate Denny Hamlin was below the cutoff. Hamlin stayed near the front and was able to advance to the next round. Edwards, Busch, and Kenseth stayed out of the way in an effort to avoid trouble in order to keep their spots in the next round. They did not violate the 100 percent rule because they did 100 percent of what they had to do in order to move to the next round.
However, at Martinsville, the JGR drivers were furious with each other about the lack of teamwork used in the closing laps in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500.
“You can’t wreck each other and that’s all there is to it I guess. We worked so good together that we gave the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) car the win today. That’s how good JGR is. We had a great M&M’s Camry and we could have been a little farther up front, but we were held up there and we couldn’t pass and if I did try to make moves or try to make a pass, I got cutoff,” said Busch post-race.
At this point in the Chase, it is time for “every man to fend for himself.”
Just because you are racing your teammate does not mean that they have to give up their position to help you, especially if they are in the fight for the championship. Everyone has the same goals when they have the chance to win a championship: win and you are in at Homestead.
I believe that team orders should no longer be in play when it comes to teammates in the battle for the championship. Drivers have commitments to sponsors and their owner to have a shot at the championship.
Should they have worked together to catch Johnson and give him one last chance to make the final four?
The Chase for the Sprint Cup is on. Drivers must do what is best for them when it comes to vying for a spot in the Championship Four at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Miller Addresses Qualifying Issues
Before NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying began at Talladega Superspeedway, inspection issues occurred for Hellman’s 500 pole winner Martin Truex Jr.
During inspection, NASCAR saw fit to confiscation parts from Martin Truex Jr.’s team before inspection began. NASCAR confiscated the jack screws from the No. 78 Toyota. Cole Pearn went to Twitter after the news broke to explain the situation. “A 5.5" LF jackscrew was replaced for a 8" that was mistakenly recessed to where a 5.5" is. Common sense/CG doesn't matter at a superspeedway,” said Pearn.
The story broke after a report by Motorsport.com. Pearn also tweeted, “Perhaps some fact checking should be done before releasing stories like this. It’s called journalism.” However, the tweet was deleted shortly after.
While qualifying was taking place, NASCAR sent back the teams of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Matt Kenseth. The drivers were about to qualify when NASCAR saw something “unusual”, and sent them back to be re-inspected. All drivers were able to pass inspection and beat the five minute clock imposed by NASCAR for jumping out of the qualifying line.
NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller addressed the media shortly after qualifying was complete.
When asked about Trull’s situation, Miller stated, “It’s not a real competitive advantage. What we will do with that one is take it back to the R&D Center and go through our normal processes like we do. Analyze everything and decide what we are going to do.”
Miller stated that it was “unlikely” to see a penalty for the No. 78 team. “It has to go through our process. We don’t technically do that on the weekend. Because it is the playoffs, everyone has a heightened sense of everything, but this is no different than things we’ve done all year. We will treat this one like we do all year long,” stated Miller.
“It’s no different than the JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) cars that failed the templates and had to go through. It’s our job to officiate the sport and make sure everything is right,” said Miller.
Miller accredited the processes NASCAR has in place stating, “Today’s activities are no different than we do every weekend.”
On the Joe Gibbs Racing cars, Miller stated, “That has happened before when our inspectors suspect something was manipulated after inspection was over. Before we have pulled cars off the grid and sent them back to inspection and rectified the problem.
Miller stated that the problem was not “big”, but that it had to be fair for everybody.
Johnson Claims Charlotte Victory
Jimmie Johnson scored the victory in the rain-delayed Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to advance to the “Round of 8” in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, his first time as championship contender. This is his third win of 2016.
“Really we just fell back on what we are made of at Hendrick Motorsports. There is a culture there and a belief. It was not fun to experience after all that we have been through but we have seen the cars get stronger, better and faster. We were able to execute all day long here. You were asking about that restart at the end and the track got so slick that I actually found that restarting on the bottom was a little bit better than what I had up top. I was able to throw it down to the inside of the 20 in turn three and make the pass, but restarts were really tricky today. I just really can’t thank everyone enough that supports us and for all the fans that were tuned in today,” said Johnson in a post-race interview about getting back into victory lane.
“Yeah, it was a great second. I think this is one of the toughest tracks there is on the circuit to pass at. It was better during the day than it is at night and that’s a good thing, because we had to go to the back twice, so we were able to make up some ground and finish okay,” said second place finisher, Matt Kenseth.
The first half of the race started with drivers trying to get to the bottom of the track in an effort to feel out their cars. Before the competition caution, many drivers were complaining about ill-handling vehicles. After the competition caution fell, Chase Elliott set sail as the race leader. As the field hit lap 62, Alex Bowman, who was running top-five, but was in an accident with Casey Mears. Kyle Busch had a vibration on the right front tire; he was running second at the time. As a long green flag run became the norm, drivers were becoming more concerned with tires. As green flag stops were underway, Joey Logano hit the wall in the second turn to bring out the caution. As Elliott got caught under the last caution, Denny Hamlin prevailed as the race leader, and set sail in clean air. Kevin Harvick fell off the pace due to losing power bringing out the caution while Logano hit the wall again as the caution flew. Hamlin held the lead at the halfway point with Johnson, Keselowski, Elliott, and Jamie McMurray rounding out the top-five.
As the second half of the race began, Johnson tried to take the lead from Hamlin, but failed. The second half saw a dominate Johnson hold the lead. The caution came out for debris off of the fourth turn. On the restart, Johnson held the lead, but Elliott lost the lead to Martin Truex Jr. The caution flew for a hard hit into the wall by AJ Allmendinger as Elliott was trying to retake second from Truex Jr. On the restart, a huge crash occurred involving Elliott, Austin Dillon, and Menard. As the final pit stops were about to begin, the engine for Hamlin blew up. After the field hit pit road for the final time, Kenseth gained the lead. Truex Jr. stalled on pit road. Kenseth got loose on the restart giving Johnson the lead. However, Johnson was able to set sail on the field to win the race. Hamlin finished second, Kasey Kahne finished third, Newman finished fourth, and Larson rounded out the top-five.
In the first time since 2007 at Kansas, five chase drivers finished 30th or worse. Hamlin, Austin Dillon, Elliott, Logano, and Harvick all has issues in the race. Truex Jr. and Hamlin are the two drivers who are in the good in the Chase Grid heading into Kansas. Austin Dillon and Elliott are three points away from the cut off line, Logano is six points away from the line, and Harvick is eight points away from the line. All drivers were involved in accidents in Charlotte.
Johnson led the most laps in the Bank of America 500 at 155 laps. Elliott led 103 laps, Hamlin led 52 laps, Harvick led 12 laps, Logano led three laps, Bowyer led two laps, and Newman and Busch led one lap. There were a total of 17 lead changes among these nine drivers.
The average speed of the race was 134.929 mph. The time of the race was 3 hours, 42 minutes,, and 47 seconds. The caution flag flew eight times for 51 laps. The margin of victory was 1.474 seconds.
Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the “Round of 12” will be Kansas Speedway for the Hollywood Casino 400. Motor Racing Network and NBCSN will have the call.
Suarez Conquers the Monster Mile
In a race that was supposed to have some Sprint Cup Driver, Daniel Suarez outlasts Xfinity Series regulars to win the Drive Sober 200 from Dover International Speedway. This is his second win of 2016. This win will send Suarez into the “Round of 8” in the Xfinity Series Chase.
“I’m very proud of this team – the 19 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry. They did a really good job today and the guys just brought an amazing car. We had a ton of speed. This is one of those races that you would feel bad to lose the race. ARRIS, Juniper, Toyota – everyone that supports this program together, it’s pretty unbelievable to win.”
Suarez was able to pass third place finisher Justin Allgaier on the final restart.
“He (Justin Allgaier) was racing aggressive because clean air was everything. He got me right there on the restart and I was a little faster than him and I knew if I was close to his rear bumper that I was going to make him loose. I don’t think I ever touched him, but I just wanted to make him loose to be able to complete the pass. Like I said, very proud of everyone and I want to apologize to the 42 (Justin Marks), it wasn’t my intention to wreck him that way. I felt like I had the inside line and he went to the bottom and I apologize for that. Norm Miller (Interstate Batteries), thank you for this run today. Very proud of everyone on this team.”
Ty Dillon finished second, Allgaier finished third, Ryan Blaney, who replace Joey Logano, finished fourth, and Alex Bowman rounded out
The caution flag flew four times for a total of 35 laps. The first caution was brought out due to fluid on the speedway. The other three cautions were brought out due to accidents on the speedway.
Suarez led the most laps at 123, Erik Jones led 54 laps, Blake Koch led 15 laps, Allgaier and Elliott Sadler led three laps, and Ray Black Jr. and Corey LaJoie led one lap.
The time of the race was 1 hour, 55 minutes, and 18 seconds. The average speed of the race was 104.076 mph.
Suarez and Sadler are the two Chase drivers who will automatically advance due to their wins at Kentucky and Dover. Dillion, who recovered from Kentucky at Dover is the first driver out of advancement only three points behind Brennan Poole, Erik Jones is four points away from the cutout line, Ryan Seig is 10 points from the cutoff line, and Brandon Jones is 18 points from the cutoff line.
Next up for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is the Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the elimination race in the “Round of 12. Performance Racing Network and NBCSN will have all the coverage for the Xfintiy Series beginning at 8:00PM EST on October 7.