AVONDALE, Ariz.-- With a gutsy call to stay out on old tires, Ryan Newman went to claim victory in the Camping World 500 at Phoenix Raceway to snap a 127 race winless streak. This is his first win since 2013 at Indianapolis and Richard Childress Racing’s first victory since Phoenix in 2013 with Kevin Harvick.
“I’ve lost count; that’s how long it’s been. I’ve got to thank Grainger, Caterpillar, Coca-Cola, Monster Energy, for supporting our series, and Chevrolet. The list goes on and on. What a gutsy call by (crew chief) Luke (Lambert). I called for two tires and he called for none. I’ve won more races no tires than I have with four. I’m just proud of these guys. We had a good car all day. We kept it out of trouble and collected in the end,” said Newman post-race.
The first stage of the race was dominated by Logano. Logano continued to stay up in the front through much of the first stage. As he entered into lapped traffic, Kyle Larson inched closer and closer. But Logano was able to win the stage with Larson in second, Brad Keselowski third, Chase Elliott fourth, and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-five.
The second stage saw the dominance of Logano fade away. Logano was passed by Elliott and Larson on lap 84, but it was Elliott who would take the lead and dominate the stage. Logano stayed in the top-five, but was caught speeding on pit road and had to start at the tail end of the field after the caution flew on lap 117. On the restart, Elliott and Larson battled for the lead, but Elliott prevailed to win the stage. Larson finished second, Kyle Busch finished third, Jimmie Johnson finished fourth, and Keselowski rounded out the top-five.
Elliott started the stage as the race leader. As the caution came out for a hard hit coming off of the fourth turn by Matt Kenseth, the leaders pitted. Ky. Busch won the race off pit road and went on to lead the most laps in the round. The caution flew three more times. The final caution of the day was caused by Logano who blew a tire on the frontstretch with four laps remaining, sending the race into NASCAR Overtime. Ky. Busch and the other leaders pitted, but Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Martin Truex Jr. stayed out on older tires while many guys behind them had two. On the final restart, Larson tried to make a move on Newman, but went sideways stacking up the field behind him giving Newman the advantage and the ultimate victory. Larson finished second, Ky Busch finished third, Stenhouse Jr. finished fourth, and Keselowski rounded out the top-five.
For Larson, this was the fourth time finishing in the second position since Homestead last year. Larson talked about his move on the final restart post-race.
“Yeah, my spotter said ‘clear’ and I started turning down. I guess I just didn’t anticipate him driving in as far as he did. Maybe I should have just run the middle lane there just to be safe. But all in all, it was a good effort for our Credit One Bank Chevy. And dang it, I wish I wouldn’t have gotten sideways there in (Turns) 1 and 2; and I would have stayed close enough to Newman and I probably would have got him down in (Turns) 3 and 4 coming to the white,” said Larson. “You never know though. That’s how the races play out. Maybe I made a mistake there. This one stings because I feel like I was in the best spot out of anybody there to line up fourth on two tires. But, it’s really, really cool to be the point leader right now. That was a goal of mine going into today. So, thanks to everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing for all your hard work. We’ll hopefully continue to have this speed in our race cars and maybe close some of these races out.”
It was all but Ky. Busch’s race to lose, but the last caution and pitting cost him five playoff points.
“Everything’s great, we got a top five and that’s what we set out to do today and we got a third so we should be pumped about that and how good this Skittles Camry ran today. It was awesome there at the end and the guys made some really good calls there at the end – Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys did a good job being able to make some good adjustments and make it feel better once we got out front,” said Busch. “Thanks to my pit crew – the car really liked clean air. We just got caught up in traffic a little bit early in the race, but we were mindful of that and just kind of bided our time and got up to the front when we did, but we had a little miscue there on pit road with Kurt (Busch) and from there it was just too many cars that stayed out. If it was just two that stayed out maybe, but we really needed the outside like (Kyle) Larson had. Overall we should be proud of our run today and we will move on.”
The caution flew eight times for 45 laps. There were 15 different lead changes among eight different drivers.
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the final installment of the West Coast Swing with a trip to Auto Club Speedway for the Auto Club 400. FOX and Motor Racing Network will have live coverage next Sunday beginning at 3:30 p.m. EST.
AVONDALE. A.Z.— Joey Logano will start from the pole in Sunday’s Camping World 500 from Phoenix International Raceway. This is Logano’s first pole of the season, and his 18th career pole.
“I thought I had a pretty good (Turns) 1 and 2, I was able to hook the bottom. (Turns) 3 and 4 is where nothing went right. I didn’t think it was going to be quite good enough,” Logano said. “I pushed as hard as I could. Sometimes you overdrive it a little bit and you can still make some speed. Proud of this team and proud of the all-Ford front row. That’s a pretty special deal.
Logano sees this as a potential momentum builder for his team.
“This has been a good track for us and we were finally able to break through and win here last fall. I feel like we had a good car in race trim today. Our car was very fast,” said Logano.
The first round of qualifying started out silently. However, many drivers were still in inspection after the green flag flew. Jamie McMurray was the first driver to hit the track. All cars passed through tech at the halfway point of the opening round. Many drivers took two laps. All drivers made a lap in the first round. Kyle Larson was fastest at 136.695 mph, McMurray was second fastest at 136.467 mph, Ryan Blaney was third at 135.731 mph, Logano was fourth fastest at 135.583 mph, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five at 135.542 mph. No drivers will be heading home. Notable drivers who did not move on to the next round include Daniel Suarez, who will start 27th, and Aric Almirola, who will start 28th.
The middle round saw drivers hit the track quickly with Kyle Busch being the first one out. However, the caution flew in the round for debris. The team of Earnhardt Jr. believed the tire chalk was on the track, but it was still on the car. Logano was the fastest in this round at 137.065 mph, Blaney was tsecond fastest at 136.731 mph, Chase Elliott was third fastest at 136.565 mph, McMurray was fourth fastest at 136.297 mph, and Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five at 136.199 mph. Notable drivers who did not advance to the third round included Clint Bowyer, who will start 13th, Jimmie Johnson, who will start 14th, Martin Truex Jr., who will start 16th, and Kevin Harvick, who will start 23rd.
The final round saw nobody hop onto the track very quickly. Earnhardt Jr. was the first onto the track. Many drivers began to hit the track with one minute remaining. Logano posted the fastest time at 137.321 mph, Blaney posted the second fastest time at 136.877 mph, Earnhardt Jr. posted the third fastest time at 136.783 mph, Larson posted the fourth fastest time at 136.654 mph, and McMurray posted the fifth fastest time at 136.302 mph.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series teams will have two practice sessions on Friday on Motor Racing Network and Fox Sports 2 at 12:00 p.m. EST and 2:30 p.m. EST.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) rolls out of Las Vegas and heads to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) for the Camping World 500. The first two stages will be 75 laps while the final stage will be a 162 lap shootout.
39 drivers are scheduled to compete on Sunday. No drivers will be sent home after qualifying on Friday.
This will be the 42nd race from PIR. 22 drivers have won the pole, while 24 drivers have won a race. Five races have been won from the pole position. Tony Stewart set the race record at 118.132 mph in 1999. Jimmie Johnson holds the qualifying record set back in 2015 at 143.158 mph.
MENCS drivers are excited to return to Phoenix for the fourth race of the season.
“We’ve started off on a really positive note with this AdvoCare team so far in 2017 and I’m confident that we can continue that this weekend in Phoenix. Phoenix is a challenging track that races a lot like a short track. I’m ready to get there this weekend and hopefully we can have another solid run on Sunday,” says Trevor Bayne.
"We don’t go to any other place like it.So, that is what makes it sort of unique. There are certain racetracks that you can kind of judge off of and say ‘Oh we run well here’ and it’s going to be like ‘this’ place, so that is the kind of set-up we are going to go to. At Phoenix, you don’t go to a lot of places like it and then on top of it, you kind of start the season there and you basically end the season there. Everything that you’ve done in a nine-month span changes so much. Even if you run well at the first race you don’t guarantee yourself that you are going to run well the second race. There's a lot that goes on during the season and it’s just unique because the races are so split apart and we just don’t go to really any racetracks like it,” said AJ Allmendinger.
“Sometimes you just go to tracks where things click right away and Phoenix is definitely one of those tracks for me,” said Erik Jones. “I felt really comfortable right off the bat and I’ve always had great cars and trucks there. Some of the tendencies of the track relate back to what I was used to racing short tracks and Late Models. It has a short track feel to it even as fast as it is.”
MENCS will have one practice session on Friday at 2:00 p.m. EST on Motor Racing Network (MRN) and Fox Sports 1 (FS1). Qualifying will also be on FS1 and MRN beginning at 7:30 p.m. EST. There will be two practice sessions at 12:00 p.m. EST and 2:30 p.m. EST on MRN and Fox Sports 2. The Camping World 500 will air on FOX and MRN beginning at 3:30 p.m. EST.
Late Wednesday evening, BK Racing announced that SunFrog, an apparel printing company, would hop on board with Gray Gaulding in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS), beginning this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.
SunFrog was currently in a partnership in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Brandon Brown and Brandonbilt Motorsports. This sponsorship began this season at Daytona International Speedway with SunFrog having the option to sponsor more races, if they so choose.
The announcement was a shot to the heart for Brandon Brown and Tommy Joe Martins, who is involved with Brandonbilt Motorsports through a partnership announced over the offseason with Martins Motorsports. Both drivers went to social media to express their frustrations with the announcement.
Oh for crying out loud https://t.co/Eb5xDXaADw— Tommy Joe Martins (@TommyJoeMartins) March 16, 2017
Who needs to find sponsorship when you can just walk through the garage and steal it from other people ?— Tommy Joe Martins (@TommyJoeMartins) March 16, 2017
Leave driving out of it. We all drive for small teams.— Tommy Joe Martins (@TommyJoeMartins) March 16, 2017
It's SLEAZY business. This industry is hard enough w/o this type of garbage behavior https://t.co/YVqCwAR3mx
Speedway Digest (SD) reached out to Martins, but was declined comment due to the concerns already expressed on Twitter.
Brown exclusively told Speedway Digest that there was no indication to him that SunFrog would be jumping over to Gaulding. "This means a limited schedule and a lot of hard work to find some more funding and partners, but I'm really bummed out they left a team that they could have built a long lasting relationship and we could have built on each others success both on and off the track," said Brown to SD. "For me I really look to my partners as people to help grow as they help me both on and off the track, allowing us to make progress at an accelerated pace. But I do hope they find success with gray. I just wish I had family funding to put me at the level he is to try and gain partners but I'm very blessed with what I have to work with and I will always be thankful for my opportunities, I just really want to make the most of every single chance because in this sport there's always a chance it could be the last"
Speedway Digest also reached out to BK Racing for comment about the frustration on Twitter, but was declined comment.
Brandonbilt Motorsports continue their search for more sponsorship following the announcement.
We have lost one of our partners for 2017, so that means more opportunities for YOUR company to be on our car!— Brandonbilt Mtrsprts (@BiltMotorsports) March 16, 2017
Contact for opportunities‼️
Finding a sponsor is hard to come by for many drivers in the top ranks of NASCAR.
It's the ones that get up after falling that find success. In a cut throat sport you can't get hung up on single events— Brandon Brown (@BrandonBrownRac) March 16, 2017
However, it is the grind many drivers have to face when it comes to racing.
Petty v. Pearson, Yarborough v. Allison, Earnhardt v. Wallace, Rudd v. Harvick
What do all those have in common? They were some of the rivalries that brewed from some of NASCAR’s greatest drivers. Rivalries are what caught the attention of many fans to bring the sport to where it is. However, that is not the case now.
There are no rivalries brewing among the top drivers of NASCAR, at this moment.
On Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch went at it on pit-road after an altercation on the final lap in the Kobalt 400. Busch went down on Logano after trying to avoid the slower car of Brad Keselowski on the backstretch then Busch went down on Logano in the fourth turn, getting Logano loose, and sending Busch for a spin. Both drivers were in the top-5 at the time of the accident.
Busch felt that he was wronged by the accident and went to talk to Logano after the cars stopped on pit road post-race that resulted in an altercation between Logano’s crew and Busch.
NASCAR announced earlier today that neither Logano, Busch, and the crew members would not be penalized. This decision was hinted on Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio with Steve O’Donnell and Brian France.
NASCAR made the right call to not penalize the drivers for their post-race altercation.
In my opinion, the sport needs rivalries in an effort to gain more footing in the national sports market in the United States.
Does there need to be a fight every weekend? Absolutely not!
The first question each of the drivers will be asked come this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway is, “Have you guys talked it out?”
When that question is asked to drivers who have had an incident with another driver, it irks me to my bones. Why? It squanders the possible of a potential rivalry among the best.
NASCAR was built on rivalries. The rivalries mentioned above were ones that stayed on the track, but sometimes did get physical. Fans would always turn their heads to the battle between rivals because neither driver would give an inch to the other person.
“Boys, have at it” was a term coined by Robin Pemberton that was used to describe a new “hands off” approach that allowed drivers to self-police and show their true selves without any repercussions from NASCAR.
“Boys, have at it” is a very grey area among the NASCAR garage. NASCAR has the right to step in when it feels that the policy has been violated. This situation is no different than Ambrose v. Mears or Keselowski v. Gordon. Ambrose and Mears were both fined, while Keselowski and Gordon were not fined for fighting.
All I ask is that NASCAR remain consistent with its rulings. My hope is that NASCAR and other media members let this “rivalry” play out naturally before asking if they are cool with each other.