Speedway Digest Staff
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Race Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):
● Aric Almirola started 14th and finished 12th.
● Almirola pitted during the lap-25 competition caution for four tires, fuel and air pressure and chassis adjustments, and gained three spots on pit road.
● He noted that the Smithfield Ford had trouble turning after the adjustments were made.
● He pitted the No. 10 Ford at the end of the stage for four tires, fuel and adjustments to correct the handling issues.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):
● Started 12th and finished 11th.
● Almirola aggressively drove to the middle of three cars and advanced back to the top-10.
● He pitted under green on lap 120 from 11th for four fresh tires, fuel and adjustments. He said his Smithfield Ford’s front tires needed more grip.
● Almirola was scored 11th after pit stops cycled through.
● He pitted at the conclusion of the stage for four tires, fuel and more adjustments.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161-267):
● Started 11th and finished 21st.
● Almirola pitted on lap 177 under caution for four fresh tires and fuel.
● He restarted 21st and quickly made his way back to the top-15.
● Almirola radioed to crew chief Mike Bugarewicz that he was contacted by the No. 6 car under caution.
● After noting tight-handling conditions, he cut a tire on lap 208, then pitted for four tires and damage repair.
● He returned to pit road two laps down in 28th before the caution was called on lap 221, where Almirola gained a lap back.
● Almirola returned back on the lead lap on lap 262.
● During the final restart, Almirola avoided a multicar accident and gained multiple spots before crossing the finish line.
● Joey Logano won the Las Vegas 400 to score his 24th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his second at Las Vegas. He beat second-place Matt DiBenedetto as the race ended under caution.
● This was Ford’s series-leading 13th NASCAR Cup Series victory at Las Vegas and its 687th all-time NASCAR Cup Series win.
● There were nine caution periods for a total of 37 laps.
● Twenty-four of the 38 drivers in the Las Vegas 400 finished on the lead lap.
● Ryan Blaney leaves Las Vegas as the championship leader with a three-point advantage over second-place Logano.
Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We had a car capable of running in and around the top-10 today. We tried a lot of adjustments to hang in there, then the No. 6 car hit us under caution and we cut a tire with about 60 to go that put us a few laps down. That’s not the way we wanted to start the West Coast swing, but we’ll head to Fontana with our heads held high and brush it off.”
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 1, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
STEVE NEWMARK, President, Roush Fenway Racing – “I appreciate all you guys being here today. Ryan apologizes for not being able to be here, but he did prepare a statement:
RYAN NEWMAN STATEMENT:
“I’m sorry that I can’t be at the track in person, but I asked Steve to take a moment to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for all the support that was shown last week to both me and my family. The outpouring of emotion from not only the NASCAR community, but across the country has been truly humbling.
“I want to personally thank everyone, including the man upstairs, for their support, encouragement and the numerous offers of assistance. We always say that the NASCAR community is one big family and never has that been more evident to me than after seeing this family rally together and provide the comfort and support that has been shown to my family and me over the past few days. The calls and visits from the NASCAR executives and my friends and competitors has been truly uplifting.
“I want to thank everyone involved in my care, especially the staff at Halifax Medical Center, where I am convinced I received the best care available. I’m confident the efforts of each of those trained professionals played a major role in where I’m sitting today. And to the entire NASCAR organization, led by Jim France, thanks for being by my side the entire time. You truly stepped up to support me unconditionally when it mattered most.
“Most importantly, I have to thank the guys back at the Roush Fenway Racing shop that built me a car not only fast enough to lead the final seconds of the Daytona 500, but strong enough to do its job under great distress, allowing me to survive such an accident. I am truly indebted to each of you and it is unlikely I will ever be able to properly express to you how much the diligent effort with which you conduct your craftmanship has affected me and my family. I hope you took pride in the photograph of me walking out of the hospital hand-in-hand with my daughters on Wednesday. Thank you. I can’t wait to get back in your race car.
“I was fortunate to avoid any internal organ damage or broken bones. I did sustain a head injury for which I’m currently being treated. The doctors have been pleased with my progression over the last few days.
“Again, I want to thank each of you, from my partners, teammates and competitors and each and every fan across the country. Thank you everyone for the unparalleled concern and unwavering support. And to the media, who has acted with such respect and class during this time.
“I have spoken with Jack Roush and he has assured me that the number six car will be waiting and ready for my return. I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel and battling for another race win in the Roush Fenway Ford.”
Ford Performance PR
Bridgeport Speedway Micro Sprint regular Jon Keller of Salem, NJ raced to a thrilling victory Saturday night in the East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals 600 Sprint race held inside Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton, NJ. The race was a 50-lap event and paid $5,000 to win.
“I can’t believe I even made it into the A-Main all the way from the E-Main let alone win the race,” Keller, 33, said. “I got run into the wall during the feature and rode along it and flipped in Saturday afternoon practice. On Friday, I got black flagged for spinning out three times in my heat and that put me in the back of the E-Main,” Keller related.
“I was discouraged enough after Friday that I actually went home. But as the crew told me the next morning, we’ve come all this way, now’s not the time to give up. They were right, and here we are.”
Keller started the feature dead last, from the thirteenth row, sidestepped several multi-car crashes, and took the lead with two laps to go, bringing Kenny Miller, III, who had started from the twelfth row, with him.
Billy Pauch, Jr., finished third. He led the first ten laps, then was involved in a six-car crash that affected several other front runners including Eddie Strada and Tim Buckwalter. All restarted, but at the back of the field.
Brenden Bright picked up the lead after the big tangle with the remarkable run of Keller first becoming apparent when he moved into the top three on lap 20.
Erick Rudolph, defending race winner, took the lead with 11 laps left as Bright faded. Keller grabbed second, closed on Rudolph and then, on the final restart of the race, shot by Rudolph on the high side of the multi-groove course to complete his shocking ride.
Miller was second, Pauch third, Rudolph fourth and Strada fifth.
“I don’t believe any of this. Winning this race against these top guys from the back of the field,” Keller said. “I don’t belong here, but here I am.”
Larry Wight, who worked his way through from the D Main into the A was sixth after running as high as third at one point. Kyle Spence, Mike Bednar, Bright and Jesse Maurer completed the top ten.
Two B Mains, from which the top six transferred to the A Main, were won by Joey Amantea and Pat Bealer.
C Main race winners were Brandon Pavel and Kyle Spence. Sammy Martz, Jr. and James Morris captured the pair of D Mains. Mike Mahaney and Matt Warner won the two E Mains.
The Indoor Auto Racing Series Fueled By VP Race Fuels concludes its 2020 season with the final ‘Concrete Series’ event at the New York State Fairgrounds Expo Center in Syracuse, NY on March 13-14, 2020 at which time the Series 2020 champion will be crowned.
For more information, visit indoorautoracing.com.
East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals Feature Finish (50 Laps): 1. Jon Keller, 2. Kenny Miller III, 3. Billy Pauch Jr., 4. Erick Rudolph, 5. Eddie Strada, 6. Larry Wight, 7. Kyle Spence, 8. Mike Bednar, 9. Brenden Bright, 10. Jesse Maurer, 11. Mike Thompson, 12. Gary Bozowski, 13. Pat Bealer, 14. Christian Bruno, 15. Tyler Lindsay, 16. Doug Snyder, 17. Whitey Kidd, 18. Tim Buckwalter, 19. Brian Carber, 20. Alex Bright, 21. Joey Amantea, 22. Brett Altemose, 23. Jim Radney, 24. Aiden Bordan, 25. Wayne Scott.
Rain has postponed the Boyd Gaming 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after the completion of Stage 1.
All Saturday tickets will be honored on Sunday, and seating priority will go to those with Pennzoil 400 tickets. Saturday ticket holders will have access to standing room only areas for the Pennzoil 400.
The race is scheduled for completion on Sunday, and will be run after the conclusion of the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube. The Boyd Gaming 300 will resume approximately one hour after the Cup race concludes.
Club and suite ticket holders for the Boyd Gaming 300 will be admitted to the grandstands for the Pennzoil 400 – which begins at 12:30 p.m. – on Sunday, but will not be allowed to access the premium areas until 30 minutes after the Cup Series race concludes.
The Pennzoil 400 will air live on FOX at 12:30 p.m., and the Boyd Gaming 300 will follow with live coverage on FS1.
What seemed like an eternity was actually 19 seconds.
After Ryan Newman’s battered race car came to rest last Monday at the end of the tri-oval in a brutal wreck at the finish of the Daytona 500, it took only 19 seconds for the first emergency vehicle to arrive, according to a chronology provided by NASCAR officials during a question-and-answer session with reporters on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“The tool truck arrived at the vehicle 19 seconds after it came to rest,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “The fireman that you saw with the extinguisher was in that vehicle. One of the three trauma doctors assigned to the safety team for the race arrived at the car at the 33‑second mark, and a paramedic entered the vehicle at the 35‑second mark.
“For the next three and a half minutes, two doctors and paramedics attended to Ryan. At the 4:05 mark, the decision was then made to roll the car over while continuing to help aid the driver. At the 6:56 mark, the car was upright. The extrication team then began cutting the car, and a doctor continued to provide treatment.
“The roof was removed at the 11:10 mark, and the extrication was completed at 15:40, and the driver was then moved to the ambulance for transport. During this entire time, doctors and paramedics were attending to Ryan, except at the moment of the car rollover.”
Newman, who was taken directly to the Halifax Medical Center and released from the hospital on Wednesday, may well have benefitted from the so-called “Newman bar,” reinforcement for the roll cage that strengthened the roof and the windshield that was implemented after a wreck involving Newman in 2013.
“So when we look at the cars and look back at what we've been able to do with the cars as an industry, we've been able to make improvements,” said Dr. John Patalak, NASCAR’s senior director of safety engineering. “The one you've referenced in 2013 with the additional roll bars and the roof and the windshield area… we were also able to do things with the laminate windshield in 2013 and improved window net mounting in 2013.
“All of those things really contribute and work together as an assembly to improve the overall outcomes to what we saw in Daytona.”
“I think, just to add to that, John and I were talking earlier about the fact that Ryan Newman was involved in this accident, with his engineering background, has been someone who we have turned to in many times talking about safety enhancements,” rejoined O’Donnell.
“One of the reasons you won't hear as many details today is we still haven't had the chance to go through this with Ryan and his team, with the other drivers in the garage, but Ryan's feedback as we go through this will be key, and I think that'll be a key component as it's always been throughout the process when he's been racing.”
Both Newman’s car and the No. 32 of Corey LaJoie, which collided with Newman’s Ford as it flipped upside-down, were destroyed in the wreck, and both were taken to NASCAR’s R&D Center in Concord, N.C., for further inspection and evaluation.
MARTIN TRUEX JR. ELATED TO SEE CLOSE FRIEND RYAN NEWMAN AFTER WRECK
Driver Martin Truex Jr. and long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex were among the first to see Ryan Newman after he was released from Halifax Medical Center on Wednesday.
The relief and elation were still evident when Truex stopped by the media center on Saturday, after rain washed our NASCAR Cup Series qualifying and put Truex on the outside of the front row, based on final 2019 owner points.
“It was cool to just go down there and see him and make sure he was OK,” Truex said. “Really, Sherry and I just wanted him to know we were there for him if he needed anything. It was cool. It was good to see the good shape he was in. It was a little surprising as well.
“We’re planning fishing trips already, so it was a fun visit to hang out. I’ve been talking to him throughout the week, obviously. He’s doing real good. I feel like he’ll be back before anybody thinks he could. He’s a tough son of a gun. He’s in good spirits and hanging out with his family, so he’s doing well.”
Truex didn’t have any qualms, though, about some playful ribbing of his friend.
“He’s got no neck and a big hard head, so that helps for sure,” Truex said. “I told him this week he’s lucky he’s such a hard-headed son of a gun. All those things, and God was riding with him. What else can you say? It was a scary wreck, for sure. Hopefully, we don’t have to worry about things like that, for sure. We just have to figure out ways to keep the cars on the ground.”
KEVIN HARVICK ISSUES CHALLENGE TO KYLE BUSCH’S DOMINATION IN TRUCKS
With seeming ease, Kyle Busch won Friday night’s Strat 200 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was Busch’s seventh straight victory in as many starts in his own trucks.
But when fans on Twitter decried the reigning NASCAR Cup champion’s moonlighting in the Gander Truck Series, fellow Cup champ Kevin Harvick came to his defense, offering a $50,000 bounty if any driver could beat Busch in any of his four remaining truck races this year (Atlanta, Homestead, Texas and Kansas).
The rules are simple. The Cup driver has to beat Busch fair and square, without wrecking him.
Marcus Lemonis, owner of the series sponsor, chimed in with an offer to match Harvick’s $50,000. Naturally enough, Busch wanted to know what he would get if he kept the competition at bay for all four races.
“If you put money on a bounty on somebody, then bad things tend to happen,” Busch said. “Make it whatever you want. It doesn’t matter to me. I’ve got great stuff, I’m a good driver—bring it.”
Harvick later tweeted that, if Busch wins the challenge, he would donate the $50,000 to the Bundle of Joy Fund founded by Busch and his wife Samantha to help couples who are having difficulty conceiving children.