HAMPTON, Ga.—  Kyle Busch will start from the pole in today’s Rinnai 250 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. This is his sixth pole at Atlanta.

The opening round saw Carl Long stopped the clock after a spin and hitting the wall in the second turn. Brendan Gaughan was on a flyer lap, but was slowed coming off of turn four by a slower vehicle.  The red flew again because of a fire underneath the hood of Mike Harmon. Elliott Sadler was able to post a time in this round, but did not post a time in the second round due to a flat tire. Sadler will start 21st. Long, Harmon, and Morgan Shepard will not start the race

Ross Chastain and Dakota Armstrong did not make times in the second round.

At the end of qualifying, Ky. Busch had the fastest speed of 183.862 mph. William Byron qualified second at 183.777 mph, Brad Keselowski qualified third at 183.661 mph, Kyle Larson qualified fourth at 183.327 mph, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five at 183.103 mph.

Busch Rips Goodyear

Sunday, Feb 26

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch had some strong words for Goodyear following his accident on lap 129 that collected 17 cars.

Busch had a tire going down when he went towards the wall going into the third turn. There was no indication that the tire was going down:

“No. I wished I would’ve. If I would’ve, I would’ve tried to wave off as many guys behind me as I could, but it happened just as soon as we started picking up load into turn three. Just spun around and you know it actually felt like I hung onto it for a long ways and then finally it went. I don’t know if it was a left rear that went down or the right that went down but man, tore up three JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) cars in one hit and also Jr. (Dale Earnhardt Jr.),” said Busch.

As Goodyear enters into the final year of their current contract as NASCAR’s Tire Supplier, Busch talked about the frustration caused by the tires.

“You know obviously Goodyear tires just aren’t very good at holding air. It’s very frustrating when we have that down here every single year we’ve been here. Last year we had it as well too. It wrecked us in practice and tore up a car – a few cars actually were in that as well.”

In response, Goodyear was adamant that their tires do hold air. Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s Racing Director, saw that there was evidence of impact on the right rear tire, which they will investigate.

"There's also damage on the left rear, which we feel could have contributed, but again, until you know exactly what it looks like inside [the tire], it's tough to say for sure," Stucker said. "But certainly, both tires were completely intact with regard to components or any obvious issues that we feel could have led to any sort of premature air loss. It was obviously an outside impact or source that created it; we just don't know exactly what yet and which tire."

Goodyear did not see any tire issues throughout Daytona Speedweeks, and believes that Busch reacted in the heat of the moment.

 

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.

After a couple late race cautions, Kyle Busch holds off Daniel Hemric and Cameron Hayley in overtime to win the American Ethanol E15 225 at Chicagoland Speedway. This is Busch’s 46th career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win; his fifth at Chicago.

 

“This has been a really good place for us at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) over the years. We’ve been really fast here. It was nice to be able to come out here and keep that speed going with this SiriusXM Tundra. I really appreciate Erik Jones being here yesterday, working it in for me a bit, all the work the guys at the shop do a great job. I can’t say enough about Toyota, TRD and JGR Engines – this engine ran really well today. Thank Camping World and of course the fans, too. It seems as though it was perfect timing as it just started spitting a little bit here. All in all good day but really important to see the 9 (William Byron) and 4 (Christopher Bell) make the Chase this year for KBM. Two opportunities there to go after a championship. Also the 13 (Cameron Hayley) right there at the end, that’s a brand new KBM truck out of our stables, so that thing was fast – it was hard to hold him off at the end, he was really quick. Good job to those guys and finding speed in our stuff,”  said Kyle Busch in a post-race victory lane interview.

 

Hemric, who finished second to Busch, was able to lock himself into the chase on points, stated post race, “You’re trying to be smart knowing the situation you’re in, but Kyle and I were able to work good together. I just couldn’t get the air enough like I needed to get the run on him, but when I got there, I stalled out. We just have to work on that aero area on our trucks, and figure out what we need to do on that next step.”

 

Hayley, who needed a win to get into the chase, was unable to point his way into the chase finished third. “We did not have a winning truck at the beginning of that race. They gave me a great Tundra there at the end. That’s why he (Busch) is a Cup driver, I’m the Truck driver. I have a lot to learn from that guy. We’re not in the chase, but you couldn’t say we didn’t try.”

 

With a full moon on hand the American Ethanol E15 225 began shortly after 8:45PM EST. On the initial start, John Wes Townley, who qualified second, did not get up to speed and quickly fell towards the back of the field. After only four laps of competition, William Byron shot into the wall bringing out the first caution. The high lane was the preferred lane on restarts and during the race. Matt Tifft made an unscheduled pit stop under green for a loose left rear wheel. The caution clock expired on lap 46 as Suarez was leading over Ky. Busch and Townley. Cameron Hayley and Timothy Peters endured penalties on the first round of pit stops. Hayley for removing equipment from the box, and Peters for an uncontrolled tire. After hitting the wall, Peters made a couple unscheduled pit stops to try to fix the issues. At the halfway point, Busch led Sauter, Reddick, Custer, and Townley.

 

In the second half of the race, Tyler Reddick was on the charge to the front in order to get a win to put him in the chase in the beginning. Just before the caution clock expired for the second time of the night, the caution flag flew for Byron who hit the wall for the second time after repairing damage.  Cole Custer, who needed a win to get in, was caught on pit road for being too fast on pit exit. On restarts, the high line continued to get the better start compared to the inside line. When the caution flew out for a spin by Josh Berry, teams were debating on making two and four tire stops for the remaining 40 laps of the race. The red flag was displayed after a wreck involving Ben Kennedy, Matt Crafton, Sauter, and Ben Rhodes to repair the SAFER barrier. The red flag was lifted after 14 minutes. Crafton went to the garage in an effort to save the truck from tonight for a race later on in the chase. Grant Enfinger brought out the caution shortly after the restart after contact with Gallagher and Custer. Late race spins by Ben Rhodes and Tommy Joe Martins shortened the chance for other drivers to get the much needed win to get into the chase. However, Busch prevailed to win over Hemric, Hayley, Christopher Bell, and Sauter, who rounded out the top-five.

 

The Chase Grid is officially set for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Byron holds the top seed going into New Hampshire with his five wins in the regular season. Crafton and John Hunter Nemechek will be seeded after Byron for scoring two wins. Sauter, Bell, and Kennedy are seeded fourth, fifth, and sixth. Hemric and Peters will fill the final two positions in the chase due to their points position. Hayley and Custer barely missed the chance to compete in the Chase, but are tied for the ninth position going into New Hampshire.

 

The American Ethanol E15 225 saw 10 lead changes among five different drivers. Busch led the most laps at 95 with Suarez leading 43, Gallagher leading eight, Kennedy leading four, and Tommy Joe Martins leading one lap. The caution flew 10 times for a total of 41 laps. The average speed of the race was 108.648 mph. The time of the race was 2 hours, 5 minutes, and 5 seconds. The margin of victory was 0.139 seconds.

 

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway to kick off the Round of Eight for the UNOH 175. The race will be on September 24th at 1:00PM EST on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network.

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.