In a day that arose with smoke, it ended with Smoke in victory lane as Tony Stewart does a bump and run to Denny Hamlin coming off the final turn at Sonoma Raceway to win the Toyota Save Mart 350. Hamlin finished second, followed by, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, and Martin Truex Jr. This win by Stewart snaps a three year winless streak.
Stewart talks about the final couple of laps that led to him losing the lead, but regaining it in the final turn. "I made mistakes the last two laps. I had just a little bit too much rear brake for Turn 7, and wheel-hopped it two laps in a row. But, I felt a nudge when I got down there and he knew where it was and he did the right thing doing it there; but if I could get to him, he knew what was coming. He told me he was proud of me. He knows what it means. We were teammates for a long time and we respect each other a lot.”
Denny Hamlin recalls the final laps from his perspective. “Tony (Stewart) was doing a good job maintaining his tires, a good job of running consistent laps there. Really he gave me an opportunity to get close. On the second to last lap he wheel hopped into (turn) seven, allowed us to get close and I just did a poor job of getting through 11. I was expecting to really drive in deep and I really thought that was going to happen and he did, but I also left the bottom open and that was a bad mistake on my part.”
The Toyota Save Mart 350 saw 12 lead changes among eight drivers. Hamlin led the most laps with a total of 33, followed by Carl Edwards (24), Tony Stewart (22), AJ Allmendinger (20), Danica Patrick, Paul Menard, and Kevin Harvick led three, and Kyle Busch led two.
The caution flag flew four times for 10 laps. The flag flew twice for accidents and for debris.
Kevin Harvick maintains a 34 point lead over Kurt Busch, followed by Carl Edwards (-52), Brad Keselowski (-56), and Joey Logano (-69).
The Chase Grid is now a battle to be in thhe top-15 in points. Despite his win today, Stewart is nine points away from 30th to be considered in the Chase. When Stewart gets in the top-30, Kasey Kahne would be on the outside looking in, and Jamie McMurray would have the final spot.
The Toyota Save Mart 350 lasted 2 hours, 42 minutes, and 43 seconds. The average speed was 80.966 mph. The margin of victory was .625 seconds.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Daytona International Speedway for the annual Fourth of July spectacle. Coverage from Daytona will begin on Thursday, June 30, on the NBC Sports Network for the first practice at 3 pm Eastern.
Carl Edwards will start from the pole in tomorrow’s Toyota Save Mart 350 from Sonoma Raceway with a speed of 95.777 mph. followed by, AJ Allmendinger (95.676 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (95.672 mph), Kurt Busch (95.654 mph), and Kyle Larson (95.362 mph). This was Edward’s third pole of the season.
“I just can’t say enough about my guys. This car is fast,” Edwards said. “This place is so much fun, it’s just so cool. After that first lap, I thought ‘Man, I could really screw this up’ because the first one was so good.
In the first round of qualifying, teams were talking about waiting for a few minutes to see how the track was since the NASCAR K&N West Series laid down different rubber in their qualifying session earlier in the day. Tony Stewart went off track in the first round, but qualified P5 to advance to the second and final round. Carl Edwards was fastest with a speed of 96.201 mph, followed by, Martin Truex Jr. (95.823 mph), Kyle Busch (95.806 mph), Joey Logano (95.765 mph), and Tony Stewart (95.621 mph). Some notable drivers who did not advance are Dale Earnhardt Jr. (P13), Jimmie Johnson (P15), and Kevin Harvick (P25). Cody Ware failed to qualify, and will not make his Sprint Cup debut this weekend.
The second round of qualifying went clean and green throughout the 10 minute session. Brad Keselowski was the bottom marker in the second round with a speed of 94.967 mph.
All on track activity for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is complete for the day. Coverage from Sonoma Raceway begins tomorrow, June 26, on Fox Sports 1 at 1:30 pm Eastern with NASCAR RaceDay. Performance Racing Network will be on the air starting at 2 pm Eastern.
At the beginning of the second and final practice at Sonoma Raceway, the red flag flew early in the session due to an unsuspected killing of a rabbit by Kyle Busch, leaving a bloody smear on the left front. At the time of the incident, Busch was second on the charts.
“That [explextive] came out of nowhere”, said Busch in an interview with Fox Sports 1, “I seen it for a second, then i moved a little bit right. I said ‘keep going, keep going’, but then he stopped and turned, we looked eye to eye, and then it was over."
The team will have to replace the brake duct at the point of impact from the rabbit. However, the team was able to make repairs, and returned to the track for practice.
Busch was 14th in the first practice with a speed of 93.702 mph. In the final practice session, Busch ended up P5 with a speed of 95.144 mph.
After a speeding penalty in the beginning of the race, Daniel Suarez surprises Kyle Busch for his first career victory followed by Paul Menard, Erik Jones, and Elliott Sadler round out the top five. This is Joe Gibbs Racing’s eighth win of the 2016 season. Suarez made the charge to the lead on the final restart to pass Kyle Busch on the last lap of the Menards 250. Suarez also locks himself into the 2016 Chase for the Xfinity Series Championship. Suarez is credited for leading the last two laps. The driver from Mexico is the sixth foreign born winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and the second on an oval. Suarez is also a graduate of the NASCAR Next and Drive for Diversity programs.
In victory lane, Suarez was elated about his first victory. “I don’t think I can speak English or Spanish right now. I don’t have the words to describe what I’m feeling right now.”
Suarez dedicated this victory to his teammate, Erik Jones. Jones lost his father in a battle to cancer on Tuesday.
“You never want to get beat, but it’s cool when you get beat fair and square. He ran me down and had a really fast car at the end. He had some speed and a really good car,” said Kyle Busch post-race.
The Menards 250 from Michigan International Speedway saw eight lead changes among seven drivers. Kyle Busch led the most laps at 59. followed by Erik Jones (18 laps), Alex Bowman (11 laps), Daniel Suarez ( two laps), and Elliott Sadler, Paul Menard, and JJ Yeley leading only one lap.
The caution flag flew for three times for a total of 14 Laps. There were two cautions for debris at lap 29 and 82. The third caution involved an incident with the car of Chris Cockrum, where he backed it into the fence on lap 88.
The average speed of the race was 155.952 mph. Time of the race was one hour, 35 minutes, and 11 seconds. Suarez beat Busch by a margin of victory of .280 seconds.
Suarez extends his points lead to 18 over Elliott Sadler, followed by, Ty Dillon (-36), Erik Jones (-55), and Justin Allgaier (-64). Jones, Sadler, and Suarez have locked themselves into the Chase with a win.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will join the Camping World Truck Series at the Iowa Speedway for a Father’s Day special in the American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen. The first practice session at Iowa will begin at 4:30 pm Eastern.
Alex Bowman edges Erik Jones to win the pole at Michigan by one hundredth of a second. JR Motorsports takes three of the top five. This is Bowman’s third career pole, and his first pole at Michigan. Bowman edges Jones with a speed of 191.59 mph, Jones qualified second with a speed of 191.535 mph, followed by Elliott Sadler (191.342 mph), Justin Allgaier (191.210 mph), and Kyle Busch (190.779 mph).
At Michigan, Joe Gibbs Racing was going for their 11th Xfinity Series pole. At the start of the qualifying session, the air temperature at Michigan was 80 degrees and was warming rather quickly. Two rounds of single car qualifying took place for the Menards 250.
In the first round of qualifying, teams were battling a hot and slick racetrack. Alex Bowman was fastest in this round with a speed of 191.821 mph. followed by Erik Jones (191.286 mph), Elliott Sadler (191.047 mph), Kyle Busch (190.668 mph), and Blake Koch (190.653). Wind played a major factor towards the end of the qualifying session. All three Joe Gibbs Racing and JR Motorsports cars advanced to the second round. Wind played a major factor towards the end of this round. Notables drivers not advancing include Darrell Wallace Jr. (17), Brendan Gaughan (14), Ty Dillon(13). All drivers will race this afternoon.
In the second round of qualifying, track temperature was at 121 degrees with the air temperature being 84 degrees. Round two was stopped for a moment by debris, a trash bag. The top 12 teams were separated by less than a half a second.
Xfinity teams will have their cars impounded before the start of today’s race. The Menards 250 will be on Fox Sports 1 starting at 1 p.m with Raceday.