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CRAFTSMAN truck seriesarca menards series NTERNATIONAL RACE OF CHAMPIONS

CRAFTSMAM truck series 

 

www.nascar.com

Celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2023, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series™, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour™), one local grassroots series (NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series™) and three international series (NASCAR Pinty’s Series™, NASCAR Mexico Series™, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series™). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).


 

Justin Casterline/Getty Images

July 19, 2024

 

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

 

INDIANAPOLIS — Ty Majeski’s victory in Friday night’s TSport 200 at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park wasn’t the sort of dominating performance he enjoyed last year—until the final stage of the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race.

 

Majeski overcame a restart violation on Lap 50 that sent him to the rear of the field but rallied to defend his 2023 victory at the 0.686-mile short track. The driver of the No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford earned his first victory of the season and the fourth of his career.

 

Majeski, who swept the stages and led 179 laps in last year's win, was penalized for jumping the restart after the first caution of the race for Ty Dillon’s spin in Turn 3 on Lap 43. He scored no points in Stage 1, but by the time the second stage ended, Majeski had charged to third.

 

Sixteen laps after the restart for the final stage, Majeski took the lead for the first time, using the lapped truck of Thad Moffitt as a pick and charging past Eckes through Turns 1 and 2.

 

The Seymour, Wisconsin, driver led the final 56 of 200 laps and took the checkered flag 4.129 seconds ahead of Eckes.

 

“It’s huge,” Majeski said. “Obviously, I made a little bit of a mistake. It was probably a little bit of a close call on that restart. I had to pony up and get it back. Obviously, when you make a mistake as a driver, you drive a little bit harder to make up for it, but these guys had my back—awesome pit stops.

 

“It’s been an up-and-down year. We’ve had the speed to win. Just haven’t been able to put it together, had some bad luck along the way, some of it self-inflicted. But, man, so proud of this Road Ranger group.”

 

Grant Enfinger finished third after leading 71 laps. Tyler Ankrum was fourth, followed by Layne Riggs, Sammy Smith, Luke Fenhaus, pole winner Rajah Caruth, Dean Thompson and Nick Sanchez.

 

Fenhaus’ seventh-place result was his best in three Truck Series starts.

 

By the time he took the checkered flag, Majeski already had clinched a Playoff spot on points, leaving three berths still available in the postseason, with the Aug. 10 race at Richmond left to decide the final Playoff grid.

 

With a 20th-place finish on Friday, Tanner Gray took over the 10th and final Playoff-eligible position from Daniel Dye, who came home 27th after an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 81. Dye trails Gray by five points entering the last regular-season race.

 

Five-time race winner Corey Heim finished 17th, a lap down, after contact from Eckes’ No. 19 Chevrolet cut his left-front tire and forced him to the pits under caution on Lap 88. Forced to use his last set of tires prematurely, Heim finished second in Stage 2 on the fresh rubber but faded in the final stage.

 

“I just misjudged the straightaway,” said Eckes, who led a race-high 73 laps. “He’s got every right to be mad.”

 

Eckes retained the series lead by 50 points over second-place Heim.

 

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Race - TSport 200

Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park

Indianapolis, Indiana

Friday, July 19, 2024

 

                1. (4)  Ty Majeski, Ford, 200.

                2. (6)  Christian Eckes, Chevrolet, 200.

                3. (2)  Grant Enfinger, Chevrolet, 200.

                4. (3)  Tyler Ankrum, Chevrolet, 200.

                5. (17)  Layne Riggs #, Ford, 200.

                6. (12)  Sammy Smith(i), Chevrolet, 200.

                7. (14)  Luke Fenhaus, Ford, 200.

                8. (1)  Rajah Caruth, Chevrolet, 200.

                9. (19)  Dean Thompson, Toyota, 200.

                10. (11)  Nick Sanchez, Chevrolet, 200.

                11. (16)  Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 200.

                12. (26)  William Sawalich, Toyota, 200.

                13. (10)  Chase Purdy, Chevrolet, 200.

                14. (22)  Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 199.

                15. (23)  Jack Wood, Chevrolet, 199.

                16. (13)  Taylor Gray, Toyota, 199.

                17. (9)  Corey Heim, Toyota, 199.

                18. (20)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 199.

                19. (25)  Timmy Hill, Toyota, 199.

                20. (21)  Tanner Gray, Toyota, 199.

                21. (15)  Ben Rhodes, Ford, 199.

                22. (34)  Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 199.

                23. (28)  Johnny Sauter, Toyota, 199.

                24. (5)  Matt Crafton, Ford, 199.

                25. (29)  Marco Andretti, Chevrolet, 199.

                26. (30)  Bret Holmes, Chevrolet, 199.

                27. (7)  Daniel Dye, Chevrolet, 198.

                28. (24)  Lawless Alan, Ford, 198.

                29. (35)  Conor Daly(i), Chevrolet, 197.

                30. (18)  Jake Garcia, Ford, 197.

                31. (31)  Tyler Tomassi, Ford, 197.

                32. (33)  Thad Moffitt #, Chevrolet, 195.

                33. (8)  Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 194.

                34. (32)  Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 164.

                35. (27)  Mason Massey, Chevrolet, Accident, 44.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  82.238 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 40 Mins, 6 Secs. Margin of Victory:  4.129 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  4 for 27 laps.

Lead Changes:  5 among 3 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   R. Caruth 0;G. Enfinger 1-55;C. Eckes 56-68;G. Enfinger 69-84;C. Eckes 85-144;T. Majeski 145-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Christian Eckes 2 times for 73 laps; Grant Enfinger 2 times for 71 laps; Ty Majeski 1 time for 56 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 19,9,11,18,71,45,2,5,7,43

Stage #2 Top Ten: 19,11,98,88,18,45,38,5,71,2

 

 


 

Corey Heim earns his fifth win this season at Pocono Raceway

 

 James Gilbert/Getty Images

Corey Heim earns his fifth win this season at Pocono Raceway

 

July 12, 2024

 

By Holly Cain

NASCAR Wire Service

 

Long Pond, PA – Corey Heim earned his series’ best fifth victory of the season in Friday evening’s rain-interrupted CRC Brakleen 175 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The 21-year old swept both stages and led 55 of the 70 laps to add to his trophy total.

 

But, he had to battle competitors and climate for this win.

 

The Georgian’s No. 11 TRICON Garage Toyota led Grant Enfinger’s Chevrolet across the finish line by .867-second to take his 10th career victory – quickly re-establishing himself as the race leader – again – on the final re-start with three laps remaining.

 

“It started from the very beginning, we’ve had such a close bond,’’ Heim said of his strong working relationship with crew chief Scott Zippidelli and the career-best single season win mark.

 

“Week in and week out, so proud of these guys, can’t say enough about them,’’ Heim said.

 

Rain drops covered the windshields of the trucks – particularly in Turn 2 of the 2.5-mile Pocono track – and eventually brought out a caution flag for weather with only nine laps remaining in the race. But after parking on pit road for just over 10 minutes of red-flag stoppage, the field returned to the track for a lap only to come back down pit road again as the rain got heavier with seven laps remaining.

 

Not surprisingly Heim immediately told his crew the rain was substantial. Enfinger, who was 2.2-seconds behind Heim at the time of the initial red flag, was optimistic it was going to be a brief shower. NASCAR had already determined before the green flag that the race would be official no matter the circumstance at 8:20 p.m. ET – approximately one hour and 10 minutes after the first red flag waved Friday evening.

 

But the sun shone on the re-start allowing enough laps to complete the race –  a light rain beginning again during driver’s post-race interviews.

 

Enfinger’s second-place finish equals his best mark of the year – also at North Wilkesboro, N.C. – and certainly helped solidify the CR7 Motorsports driver’s position in the Playoff standings. He is seventh place with only two races remaining before the 2024 Playoffs begin Aug. 25 at the Milwaukee Mile Speedway. 

 

McAnally Hilgemann’s Christian Eckes finished third, followed by TRICON Garage’s Taylor Gray and NASCAR Cup Series regular Ross Chastain, driving for Niece Motorsports.

 

The closing laps featured close racing up front with many among the lead pack having to be conscious about saving fuel – a variable then made moot with the rain stoppage. Heim was trying to hold off the hard-charging, highly-motivated veteran Enfinger, who was racing for his first win of the season while Eckes had to hold off Chastain for third place.

 

The pole-winner Eckes led the race’s opening 11 laps in the No. 19 McAnally Hilgemann Chevy and finished second to race-winner Heim in both stages. But a slow pit stop during the secong stage break forced Eckes to play catch-up. He restarted 10th but was up to fourth place within five laps and continued to move forward. 

 

He rallied to that ultimate third-place showing giving him a series best 12-race streak of Top-10 finishes and he still holds a 32-point edge on Heim for the regular season championship.

 

The first caution flag for a race incident came out with 26 laps remaining when Rajah Caruth spun on track. At the time Heim led Chastain by almost 3-seconds. As the trucks drove under caution, drivers were alerted that rain was imminent, so the front-runners did not pit.

 

Chase Purdy, Stewart Friesen, Matt Crafton, Dean Thompson and Caruth rounded out the Top-10.

 

With only two races remaining to set the 10-driver Playoff field, Daniel Dye holds a single-point edge on Tanner Gray in that 10th position and a slight four-point advantage over Friesen.

 

Only four fulltime series drivers have won this season to claim automatic Playoff berths including Heim, Eckes, Friday’s 13th place finisher Nick Sanchez and Caruth.

 

The Craftsman Truck Series moves to Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park for Friday’s TSport 200 (8:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Ty Majeski won last year’s race by more than 3-seconds over Eckes. Championship leader Heim was eighth.

 

--30--

 

 

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Race - CRC Brakleen 175

Pocono Raceway

Long Pond, Pennsylvania

Friday, July 12, 2024

 

          1. (2)  Corey Heim, Toyota, 70.

          2. (8)  Grant Enfinger, Chevrolet, 70.

          3. (1)  Christian Eckes, Chevrolet, 70.

          4. (19)  Taylor Gray, Toyota, 70.

          5. (27)  Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 70.

          6. (16)  Chase Purdy, Chevrolet, 70.

          7. (10)  Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 70.

          8. (15)  Matt Crafton, Ford, 70.

          9. (22)  Dean Thompson, Toyota, 70.

          10. (3)  Rajah Caruth, Chevrolet, 70.

          11. (13)  Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 70.

          12. (30)  Bret Holmes, Chevrolet, 70.

          13. (9)  Nick Sanchez, Chevrolet, 70.

          14. (4)  Tyler Ankrum, Chevrolet, 70.

          15. (18)  Connor Mosack, Chevrolet, 70.

          16. (5)  Daniel Dye, Chevrolet, 70.

          17. (20)  Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 70.

          18. (7)  Ben Rhodes, Ford, 70.

          19. (11)  Tanner Gray, Toyota, 70.

          20. (21)  Zane Smith(i), Chevrolet, 70.

          21. (12)  Jake Garcia, Ford, 70.

          22. (28)  Luke Fenhaus, Ford, 70.

          23. (25)  Timmy Hill, Toyota, 70.

          24. (29)  Mason Massey, Chevrolet, 70.

          25. (14)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 70.

          26. (26)  Kris Wright, Toyota, 70.

          27. (32)  Mason Maggio, Ford, 70.

          28. (36)  Justin Carroll, Toyota, 70.

          29. (31)  Thad Moffitt #, Chevrolet, 70.

          30. (17)  Layne Riggs #, Ford, 69.

          31. (6)  Ty Majeski, Ford, 68.

          32. (24)  Lawless Alan, Ford, 68.

          33. (33)  Sage Karam(i), Ford, 67.

          34. (34)  Bryan Dauzat, Chevrolet, 65.

          35. (35)  Stephen Mallozzi, Ford, Transmission, 22.

          36. (23)  Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, Hub, 5.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  113.269 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 32 Mins, 42 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .867 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  4 for 17 laps.

Lead Changes:  3 among 3 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Eckes 1-11;C. Heim 12-32;J. Garcia 33-36;C. Heim 37-70.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Corey Heim 2 times for 55 laps; Christian Eckes 1 time for 11 laps; Jake Garcia 1 time for 4 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 11,19,18,43,9,98,2,17,52,15

Stage #2 Top Ten: 11,19,43,9,18,98,45,52,15,42

 


 

 

Christian Eckes dominates at Nashville Superspeedway

James Gilbert/Getty Images

Christian Eckes dominates at Nashville Superspeedway

 

June 28, 2024

 

By Holly Cain

NASCAR Wire Service

 

LEBANON, Tenn. – Christian Eckes absolutely dominated Friday night’s NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series’ Rackley Roofing 200 at Nashville Superspeedway, the 23-year old leading all 150 laps – the first time a driver has led every race lap in 12 years.

 

Eckes, driver of the No. 19 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet raced forward from a third place starting position to take the lead from pole winner Stewart Friesen by Turn 2 of the opening lap at the 1.333-mile oval and essentially never looked back. He led by more than three-seconds in the closing laps and ultimately crossed the finish line 2.028-seconds ahead of his teammate Daniel Dye – the runner-up showing a career best effort for the 20-year-old Floridian.

 

It is the third win of the season for Eckes and extends his championship lead to 40 points over TRICON Garage’s Corey Heim, who finished third after passing Spire Motorsports’ Rajah Caruth on the final lap. McAnally-Hilgermann Racing’s Tyler Ankrum was fifth.

 

“Can’t say enough about these guys,’’ said Eckes, who has three wins on the season and now eight in his seven seasons in the series. It’s the second time this season (also at Martinsville, Va.) that he has swept both stage wins and claimed the winner’s trophy.

 

“We were really motivated to get this truck out there. Nice job for the day,’’ added Eckes who says he can’t ever remember leading every lap in any race he’s competed in.

 

The win also earned Eckes a $50,000 bonus check for claiming the final leg of the series’ Triple Truck Challenge – Nick Sanchez and Heim are the other winners in the incentive program.

 

“I saw the 11 (Heim) has four of them [wins] so got a little upset walking in [to Nashville Superspeedway], so now another one to go catch another one,’’ Eckes said.

 

Grant Enfinger, Ben Rhodes, Matt Mills, Ty Majeski and Jake Garcia rounded out the top 10 in the finishing order. Rhodes rally was especially impressive considering how he started.

 

And while Eckes spent the day up front – mastering every restart on an evening that saw seven caution flags for 42 laps – there was plenty of action behind him as the caution count would indicate.  

 

On the other hand, Sanchez, who started his No. 2 Rev Racing Chevy from the rear of the 36-car field after hitting the wall in qualifying, rallied to finish 13th and sits third in the championship 89 points behind Eckes.

 

NASCAR Cup Series star and current FOX Sports NASCAR broadcaster Clint Bowyer finished 17th after his No. 7 Spire truck suffered damage when the field stacked up on the Stage 1 restart. In his typically colorful manner, Bowyer was frank about his night – the first NASCAR national series race he’s competed in since retiring from fulltime competition in 2020.

 

“We fought loose-in the whole time from the word go, but I know from a lot of years of experience that’s hard to overcome,’’ said Bowyer, a 10-time NASCAR Cup Series winner and the 2012 championship runner-up.

 

“I don’t know what happened on the [Stage 1] restart, they all checked up in front of me and I crashed,’’ Bowyer said, adding, “I will be back. I promise you there’s no way I’m ending on that.” 

 

Three races remain to set the 10-driver Playoff field. Currently Tanner Gray, who finished 14th Friday night sits in the 10th place position, 14 points ahead of Dye.

 

The CRAFTSMAN Truck Series returns to competition for the CRC Brakleen 175 at Pocono Raceway on July 12 (5:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Kyle Busch is the defending race winner.

 

---30--

 

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Race - Rackley Roofing 200

Nashville Superspeedway

Nashville, Tennessee

Friday, June 28, 2024

 

                   1. (3)  Christian Eckes, Chevrolet, 150.

                   2. (9)  Daniel Dye, Chevrolet, 150.

                   3. (7)  Corey Heim, Toyota, 150.

                   4. (5)  Rajah Caruth, Chevrolet, 150.

                   5. (14)  Tyler Ankrum, Chevrolet, 150.

                   6. (2)  Grant Enfinger, Chevrolet, 150.

                   7. (26)  Ben Rhodes, Ford, 150.

                   8. (36)  Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 150.

                   9. (4)  Ty Majeski, Ford, 150.

                   10. (17)  Jake Garcia, Ford, 150.

                   11. (1)  Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 150.

                   12. (21)  Conner Jones, Ford, 150.

                   13. (33)  Nick Sanchez, Chevrolet, 150.

                   14. (34)  Tanner Gray, Toyota, 150.

                   15. (35)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 150.

                   16. (15)  Jack Wood, Chevrolet, 150.

                   17. (11)  Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 150.

                   18. (16)  Dawson Sutton, Chevrolet, 150.

                   19. (12)  Brenden Queen, Toyota, 150.

                   20. (24)  Dawson Cram, Chevrolet, 150.

                   21. (10)  Chase Purdy, Chevrolet, 149.

                   22. (23)  Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 149.

                   23. (19)  Matt Crafton, Ford, 148.

                   24. (22)  Lawless Alan, Ford, 148.

                   25. (6)  Layne Riggs #, Ford, 148.

                   26. (13)  Stefan Parsons, Chevrolet, 148.

                   27. (25)  Timmy Hill, Toyota, 147.

                   28. (29)  Dean Thompson, Toyota, 146.

                   29. (20)  Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 146.

                   30. (31)  Akinori Ogata, Chevrolet, 144.

                   31. (32)  Frankie Muniz, Ford, 130.

                   32. (27)  Mason Massey, Chevrolet, Brakes, 94.

                   33. (8)  Kaden Honeycutt, Chevrolet, 84.

                   34. (18)  Taylor Gray, Toyota, Accident, 53.

                   35. (28)  Mason Maggio, Ford, Mechanical, 40.

                   36. (30)  Bret Holmes, Chevrolet, Accident, 10.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  101.829 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 57 Mins, 33 Secs. Margin of Victory:  2.028 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  7 for 42 laps.

Lead Changes:  1 among 1 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   S. Friesen 0;C. Eckes 1-150.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Christian Eckes 1 time for 150 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 19,38,11,9,43,71,52,98,7,18

Stage #2 Top Ten: 19,11,71,43,9,99,52,88,18,98

 


 

 iNTERNATIONAL RACE OF CHAMPIONS

 

Known as IROC (International Race of Champions), a series of races was held annually from 1973 to 2006. IROC brought together the greatest drivers from all forms of motorsport to compete against each other in iconic cars on historic tracks. Although the annual events ended in 2006, the legacy and recognition of the IROC brand has continued throughout the years. IROC Holdings plans to bring the historic brand back to life. In 2024, NASCAR Hall of Fame member Ray Evernham and former NASCAR Cup Team Owner and venture capitalist Rob Kauffman, announced their acquisition of the rights to the IROC brand and plans to bring the historic brand back to life.

www.iroc-racing.com


 

 

arca menards series 

 

www.arcaracing.com

Celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2023, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series™, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour™), one local grassroots series (NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series™) and three international series (NASCAR Pinty’s Series™, NASCAR Mexico Series™, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series™). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).


 

 

National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing

www.nascar.com

Celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2023, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series™, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour™), one local grassroots series (NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series™) and three international series (NASCAR Pinty’s Series™, NASCAR Mexico Series™, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series™). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).

 


Ryan Blaney rues the victory that slipped away at the Indianapolis oval

 

July 21, 2024

 

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

 

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Ryan Blaney was so close to winning Sunday’s Brickyard 400 — twice — he could almost feel the cold metal of one of the NASCAR Cup Series’ most desirable trophies.

 

Blaney was running second in NASCAR’s return to the oval track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, trailing Brad Keselowski on Lap 159 of a scheduled 160. Keselowski was so short on fuel that he was all but certain to run out before the finish.

 

Blaney, who drives for IMS and Team Penske owner Roger Penske, was biding his time behind his fellow Ford driver when Kyle Busch’s Chevrolet pushed up the track into Denny Hamlin’s Toyota, slamming Hamlin’s car into the outside wall and causing the eighth caution of the race.

 

For the ensuing restart, Keselowski chose the inside lane and Blaney the top. But as the cars approached the restart zone, Keselowski followed the pace car to pit road, out of fuel.

 

Eventual race winner Kyle Larson, who had lined up third behind Keselowski in the bottom lane, move up beside Blaney for the restart and pulled ahead into Turn 1 before a multicar wreck in the corner stopped the action again.

 

As the new race leader, Larson had control of the final restart, chose the inside lane and cleared Blaney into Turn 1 in the second overtime.

 

Pole winner Tyler Reddick followed Larson into second place, and that’s the way the race ended when NASCAR called the 10th caution for Ryan Preece’s spin on the backstretch—after Larson had taken the white flag.

 

“It's no fun,” Blaney said of his disappointing third-place finish. “Had a really good shot to win today. Our car was fast. Thought we had really good strategy. Kind of was the front guy having to save a little bit of gas. I thought we put ourselves in a great spot.

 

“I know the 6 (Keselowski) was probably going to run out if it went green. Came to the restart, I couldn't believe they stayed out. I knew there was no way they were going to make it. So, I obviously chose the top because he might run out in the restart zone. He runs out coming to the green, so he has to go to pit road, and the 5 (Larson) gets promoted.”

 

Even though Larson moved up to the front of the bottom row, Blaney’s No. 12 Ford was the control car as the second-place vehicle to Keselowski. But Keselowski’s exit from the track and the subsequent restart happened so fast it made processing the situation difficult.

 

“Luck of the day right there, I guess,” Blaney said. “I don't know. I don't know what to be mad about. Mad at losing this race, because I thought we were in the perfect position. Once I lost control of the race, obviously I would have been on the bottom (for the final restart), but I thought the 6 would run out in the restart zone or down the back… I don't know. Stinks to lose in that way.

 

“Appreciate the effort. I hate we don't get to celebrate with Mr. Penske and everyone at Penske here. That stings a lot. Just try to keep going. That's all you can do.”

 

Blaney, the defending Cup Series champion, lost his chance at a third win this season, but he’s firmly locked into the Playoffs. Still, a victory would have been a perfect sendoff to a two-week break in the schedule to allow for the Summer Olympics in Paris.

 

“I'm just upset,” Blaney said. “That's a heartbreaker. We did everything right today. I mean, was in prime position to win and just didn't work out for us. Just got unlucky.

 

“Gosh, not going to sleep very good tonight, I can tell you that. Like I said, I appreciate Team Penske and everybody for the fast car. Gosh, we've been super-fast. It definitely showed again today. Just wasn't meant to be.”


 

 

Saturday Indianapolis Notebook

 

Notebook Items:

  • Cole Custer will return to NASCAR Cup Series with Haas Factory Team
  • Denny Hamlin longs to add Brickyard 400 trophy to his collection
  • Martin Truex Jr. reflects on the Indianapolis win that got away
  • Chase Briscoe in pursuit of memorable victory on his home track

 

July 20, 2024

 

By Reid Spencer and Holly Cain

NASCAR Wire Service

 

Cole Custer will return to NASCAR Cup Series with Haas Factory Team

 

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — In 2025, reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Cole Custer will get a second chance in the sport’s top division.

 

Custer will drive the No. 41 Ford for the Haas Factory Team in 2025 after the dissolution of Stewart-Haas Racing’s four-car NASCAR Cup Series operation at the end of the season.

 

The Haas Factory Team also will maintain a technical alliance with Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, with additional support from Ford Performance.

 

Custer spent three full seasons in the Cup Series from 2020 through 2022, winning one race at Kentucky Speedway and posting one other top five in 108 starts during that period.

 

Returning to the Xfinity Series last season, Custer won three races, including the Championship 4 season finale at Phoenix Raceway.

 

The 26-year-old driver from Ladera Ranch, Calif., welcomes the chance to return to NASCAR’s top level for owner Gene Haas, who also operates the Haas F1 Team.

 

“To get an opportunity back in Cup was the biggest goal,” said Custer, who won last Saturday’s Xfinity race at Pocono and leads the series standings by 51 points over second-place Justin Allgaier.

 

“To have this opportunity to get to drive for Haas Factory Team next year is huge for me, and I think we can do some really special things with the resources we have as a team. We’re ready to get work and get some great people, and I think we’ll be able to compete with the best.”

 

Haas Factory Team also will continue to maintain the Xfinity Series program started under the Stewart-Haas banner. Haas Factory Team president Joe Custer, Cole’s father, says the new organization has made an offer to current driver Riley Herbst, but no deal has been finalized.

 

Custer also said Haas Factory Team explore other possibilities before settling on the technical alliance with RFK.

 

“Along with Ford as a partner, we’re lacing no resource going into next year,” Custer said.

 

Denny Hamlin longs to add Brickyard 400 trophy to his collection

 

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin has fashioned a celebrated career—54 NASCAR Cup Series wins, including three Daytona 500 victories, three Southern 500 wins and a Coca-Cola 600 trophy.

 

But the 43-year old veteran still has that one cherished trophy he’d love to add to the collection: a Brickyard 400 win on the historic oval track.

 

Hamlin has eight top-10 finishes in 15 starts on the oval and scored a career-best third-place finish three times, in 2008, 2014 and 2018.

 

“To me the Southern 500 and the Brickyard 400 (are) kind of equal in prestige," said Hamlin, who added that he’s glad NASCAR moved its big event from the road course back to the 2.5-mile oval.

 

“I always felt that we were going to come back here one day,” said the driver of the No. 11 JGR Toyota. “I was never resigned to the fact that the road course was going to be a permanent thing.

 

“But I just didn’t know how long my career would go at that point. I don’t have that many chances left. It’s less than what’s on my hand I would think, so just going to take advantage of every opportunity.

 

“Overall, I feel like I’ve always been in contention here, just never gotten it done.”

 

Hamlin was one of three drivers who participated in a test at Indianapolis earlier this season and was third quickest in practice on Friday.

 

Martin Truex Jr. reflects on the Indianapolis win that got away

 

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. will be the first to tell you that his record on the 2.5-mile oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is far from exemplary.

 

In 16 starts on the big track, Truex has one top five and three top 10s to his credit. His average finish is a lackluster 22.4.

 

But the Brickyard 400 Truex remembers most vividly is the race in 2017, when he had a car capable of winning.

 

Kyle Busch had the dominant car that day, having led 87 of the first 102 laps, but Truex had taken the top spot from his fellow Toyota driver on Lap 103, before Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jimmie Johnson crashed on the backstretch to cause the eighth caution of the afternoon.

 

As the leader, Truex chose the inside lane for the restart on Lap 111, with Busch to his outside. Their cars raced side-by-side toward Turn 1, with Busch pulling slightly ahead entering the corner.

 

That’s when Truex’s car lost grip and slid up the track into Busch’s Camry, wrecking both cars beyond repair.

 

“Yeah, that one definitely hurt,” Truex acknowledged. "This has never been what I’d consider one of my best tracks, and that year we had what we needed to win, and I made a dumb move.

 

“I wish I could redo that one, for sure, and see how the day would have played out.”

 

Sunday’s race may be Truex’s last chance for a victory at Indianapolis. In June, he announced his retirement from full-time, effective at the end of the season.

 

Chase Briscoe in pursuit of memorable victory on his home track

 

Chase Briscoe has a lot to look forward to—his wife is pregnant with twins, and he recently signed a contract with the championship Joe Gibbs Racing organization to continue competing in the NASCAR Cup Series after his current team, Stewart-Haas Racing, closes shop at the end of the season.

 

Before all those other important events commence, however, the proud Hoosier most wants to earn a win at his home track, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in his racing idol Tony Stewart’s iconic No. 14 Ford.

 

Briscoe won a NASCAR Xfinity Series race on the road course configuration in 2020. He competed in a pair of Xfinity Series races on the 2.5-mile oval in 2018 and 2019, scoring top-10 finishes both times. All three of his NASCAR Cup Series starts in the No. 14 have been on the road course, however.

 

“It certainly means a little bit more when it’s on the oval," Briscoe allowed. “When you think about the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the history is on the oval, it’s not on the road course.

 

“But still, winning here in general is very, very special. So, for me, if I was able to win on the oval, it would mean a little bit more, but it’s going to mean more than any other race track I could win at regardless."

 

Briscoe conceded it will be emotional for him driving for fellow Indiana-native Stewart one last time at The Speedway.

 

“Full transparency, I cry every year just on the ride-around deal," Briscoe said. “With it being on the oval and doing it in the 14, all that, it’s going to definitely be emotional for me. It’s something that I honestly hadn’t even thought about until a couple weeks ago.

 

“For seven- or 10-year-old Chase, if you would have told him that he was going to get around one Brickyard 400 in the 14 car for Tony Stewart, I don’t think I would have ever believed you.”

 


 

Friday Indianapolis Notebook

 

July 19, 2024

 

By Holly Cain

NASCAR Wire Service

 

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick set the pace in NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 practice Friday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, turning a lap of 182.582 mph in the No. 45 Toyota – out-pacing Ryan Blaney’s No. 12 Team Penske Ford by .177-second. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin was third quickest in the No. 11 Toyota.

 

Reddick also posted the best 10-lap average speed, followed by Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson and Hamlin.

 

“It seemed pretty solid," Reddick said of his car. “When you come to a place like this, that’s always something you hope for. I’ve been fortunate we’ve run the road course here and we’ve been really, really strong. Obviously it seemed like [fellow Toyota driver] Denny [Hamlin] had a really good test and we were able to get some good data from him."

 

“Tracks like this, it’s always a question mark to some degree, you know? How close is your sim preparation going to be? But it seemed like everyone did a pretty good job. Pretty happy with how the car drives."

 

The 55-minute session had a brief caution period for debris midway through, but was otherwise uneventful in the series’ return to the historic 2.5-mile Indianapolis oval for Sunday’s race (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

JGR’s Christopher Bell and Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman rounded out the top-five in practice for Sunday’s race – the first time the series has raced on the oval since 2020.

 

Series championship leader Chase Elliott was 12th quickest in Friday’s practice, his teammate Larson – who trails Elliott by a mere three-points in the standings – was sixth quickest.

 

Larson, who competed in May’s Indianapolis 500, is driving the No. 5 Chevrolet with the same paint scheme he was scheduled to drive later that that day in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. After a rain delay at Indy, Larson didn’t arrive in time to race it before rain showers ended the Charlotte race early.

 

There are three former Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval-race winners entered this weekend – including four-time Brickyard champion Jimmie Johnson, two-time winner Kyle Busch and 2018 winner Brad Keselowski.

 

Qualifying for the Brickyard 400 is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET Saturday (USA Network, NBC Sports App, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

Chandler Smith led the NASCAR Xfinity Series 55-minute practice early Friday afternoon posting a lap of 166.756 mph in the No. 81 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota - .060-second better than Parker Kligerman in the No. 48 Big Machine Racing Chevrolet.

 

IndyCar veteran Conor Daly was third fastest, followed by Brandon Jones and Riley Herbst. Current championship leader, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer was 11th on the speed chart.

 

The NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Pennzoil 250 is Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET (USA Network, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

NOTEBOOK:

 

*Hendrick Motorsports’ Elliott holds a slim three-point edge over his teammate Larson atop the NASCAR Cup Series championship with five races remaining to settle the regular season title. Reddick is only 15 points back and Hamlin is only 20 points off the pace entering Sunday’s Brickyard 400.

 

Asked about the close title race, Elliott reiterated Friday afternoon the importance of winning that Regular Season Championship is not so much to claim the “title” but because of the valuable 15 bonus points it rewards the driver; a bonus that is carried throughout each round of the Playoffs.

 

“We’re trying to win it," Elliott said emphatically. “We’re trying to run as good as we can to accumulate as many points as possible to win the 15-points. I mean, that’s all that matters. The Regular Season Championship is really meaningless, it’s just [about] the points."

 

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champ certainly knows first-hand how crucial that guaranteed bonus is for each Playoff round. It was an incredible help for him in 2022, even though he didn’t ultimately take the title.

 

“We just had a really good first half of the year and then we ran really bad those last eight-and-a-half weeks," Elliott recalled. Without those points, we would have been long out of it, in my view. Mathematically, I’m not exactly sure where we would have been. Just going off the way we ran, we needed to be a lot better and that certainly helped to have some points to lean on because it would have been really, really tough without that. So, they can man a lot.

 

“You hope that you’re running good enough that you don’t need them is the goal that everyone has."

 

*Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion and last week’s Pocono (Pa.) Raceway winner Ryan Blaney reiterated his strong motivation to win Sunday’s Brickyard 400 – at a track owned by his boss Roger Penske and for a team that’s IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden won the Indianapolis 500 in May.

 

In fact, Blaney, smiled, and promised, “Kissing the bricks is like a dream come true, I’ll lick the bricks if I win, that’s for sure. It’s going be nasty but it’s going to happen.

 

“Kissing the bricks, that’s just what everyone wants to do. … to be able to do that with RP (Penske), that would be like the coolest moment in my life.

 

“We know how special this place is, it’s not even talked about in our camp," the driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford continued. “You just know what it means. It’s meant the world even since I got there in 2012 before he [Penske] owned the race track.

 

“We have a unique opportunity to sweep Indy this year with Josef winning the 500 and us coming here and having a good shot on the NASCAR side, so there’s a cool opportunity to do something special. That’s what you want to do for our team, you want to make memories and do well by his race team and do well by him. Big weekend and a lot of pressure on us, but this race team likes pressure."

 

Blaney’s best showing in six Indianapolis oval starts is seventh place in 2019.

 

*Before taking his place on the podium to answer reporters’ questions Friday, Josh Berry stood off by himself in the Media Center looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway front-straight below.

 

The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford is one of 10 fulltime NASCAR Cup Series drivers entered for Sunday’s Brickyard 400 that has never competed on the historic 2.5-oval before. During his time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, races were held on the track’s infield road course.

 

“It definitely feels different coming here to run the oval than it did the road course," Berry said. “I think just getting to take in the oval and just the history behind it, is something that’s going to be really fun. This is my first time up here, so just checking things out a little bit."

 

Berry conceded he has an advantage in his back pocket – crew chief Rodney Childers led the former driver of the SHR No. 4, Kevin Harvick, to back-to-back wins the last two races on the big oval.

 

“I think obviously he’s really excited to get back here because they won the last two Brickyard 400s," Berry said. “I feel like we’re leaning on each other and communicating like we always do. … The team’s got a little extra confidence this week for sure."

 

A victory this weekend would be crucial for Berry’s team with only five races remaining to set the 16-driver Playoff field, Berry – a series rookie - is currently ranked 21st in the Playoff standings, 144 points out of the final points transfer position.