Wallace holds off boss, title contenders to win at Kansas
Bubba Wallace won his second career NASCAR Cup Series race and denied the playoff field of an automatic spot in the next round for the second straight week when he held off championship contenders Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell to win at Kansas Speedway.
Rain swamps Bristol dirt track; NASCAR to try again Monday
NASCAR canceled all Sunday activity because even if Bristol's converted dirt track could eventually be readied for night racing, the entire facility was a swampy mess. The first Cup Series race on dirt since 1970 was rescheduled for 4 p.m. Monday; trucks were set to run at noon. He openly fretted that a bad show at Bristol would damage the future of NASCAR dirt racing — and NASCAR itself seemed to admit it was a valid concern. Stewart, who has insisted Eldora can successfully host the Cup Series, declined to comment Sunday when reached by The Associated Press. “People need to understand this is not how dirt racing is and I think they need to try and appreciate how hard this is to pull off.
What a Mess: NASCAR worried about first Bristol dirt race
AdBristol also made a bold change this year by converting its facility into a dirt race as part of radical changes to the 2021 schedule. NASCAR needed a major shakeup and the dirt race joined an influx of road courses and new venues for the most adventurous schedule in sport history. So when NASCAR broadcast partner Fox pushed for a dirt race on the Cup schedule, Speedway Motorsports said Bristol would be the guinea pig. “That's probably the most uncomfortable I've ever been in a race car,” said Kevin Harvick, running his first Truck Series race since 2015. The first NASCAR Cup Series points-paying sanctioned race in the inaugural 1949 season was on dirt at Charlotte (Old) Speedway.
NASCAR's 'unique' winners already altering playoff landscape
Christopher Bell celebrates at the finish line after winning the NASCAR Cup Series road course auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)HOMESTEAD, Fla. – NASCAR’s postseason landscape has been altered after just two Cup Series races. “The number of unique winners is really going to change how many cars get in on points, right? Although Bell drives for powerhouse Joe Gibbs Racing, he was a rookie for that top team and in his second full season in the Cup series. The Cup Series opened on a superspeedway, then raced on a road course, and now heads to an intermediate track. Whether that’s different markets, different racetracks, it has to be different from year to year.
Allmendinger back at Daytona in 1st Cup race since 2018
Allmendinger will run his first Cup race since the 2018 season finale in Kaulig's first Cup race not at a superspeedway. The longshot Daytona 500 win earned McDowell his first playoff berth and FRM now is positioned to build a once unthinkable cushion. This road course race was added to NASCAR's schedule in December because COVID-19 restrictions would not allow a stop at Fontana, California. AdThe Daytona road course was wedged into the open slot, creating two weekends of very different racing that very much suits Furniture Row. Dillon missed the Cup race in August because he'd received a positive COVID-19 test.
McDowell beats 100-1 odds for upset Daytona 500 victory
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Michael McDowell was glued to Brad Keselowski's bumper, watching and waiting for his chance to win the Daytona 500. Denny Hamlin was trying for a record third-consecutive Daytona 500 victory, and the team he started with Michael Jordan was debuting with driver Bubba Wallace. Kyle Larson was back after nearly a year in exile for using a racial slur, and reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott was going for his first Daytona 500 win. And all the way at the back of the field, 1990 Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope made what he said would be his final NASCAR start. “I wanted to make the pass to win the Daytona 500 and it ended up really bad,” Keselowski said.
Cindric starts new season with big Xfinity win at Daytona
Austin Cindric celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Austin Cindric launched his bid for a second consecutive Xfinity Series title with a victory in Saturday night's season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Cindric makes his Cup Series debut Sunday in the Daytona 500. “What a way to start the season,” Cindric said. Cindric won the Xfinity Series debut on Daytona’s road course last August as well as a rallycross event early in his career. The 22-year-old has this final season in Xfinity before moving next year to Cup to drive for Penske-supported Wood Brothers Racing.
Hiccup for Hendrick Motorsports ahead of Daytona 500
Alex Bowman and William Byron were slated to lead the Daytona 500 field to green but that's in danger following Thursday night's qualifying races. Byron was collected in a crash in the second Duel and it ruined his Chevrolet. AdAustin Cindric and Kaz Grala both earned their first berths into the Daytona 500 by claiming the two available transfer positions in the Duels. He was the leader on the final lap of the second Duel until Dillon crossed to Wallace’s inside and inched ahead. “We’ve got an incredible race car and I can’t wait for the Daytona 500.”
Elliott wins at Roval as champ Busch bounced from playoffs
Chase Elliott won on the hybrid road course-oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Busch and three others were trimmed from title contention. Elliott, meanwhile, won for the second consecutive year at “The Roval” and third time this season. “Best way to get into the next round is to win,” Elliott said. Bowman battled anxiety through the race as he worried Kyle Busch would win and bump him from the playoffs. When Busch didn't pit, Bowman nervously asked his Hendrick Motorsports team if he was about to be eliminated.
NASCAR champion Busch tries to stave off elimination
Busch doesn't need to win on the “Roval” to advance, but there's only five races remaining for him to improve his season. The Sunday forecast calls for an 80% chance for rain and the road course portion of the Roval permits NASCAR to race in wet conditions. The Cup drivers have never before used rain tires in competition. NASCAR stopped the Xfinity Series race for about 40 minutes Saturday so its track dryers could push water off the racing surface. "What is the drainage like at that racetrack through the infield road course?
Talladega briefly stopped after 13-car crash and wall damage
TALLADEGA, Ala. – NASCAR's playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway was briefly red-flagged so a wall could be repaired after Kurt Busch went airborne in a 13-car crash. The melee Sunday required a welding truck go onto the track to repair a damaged section of the wall. Busch smashed into the outside wall, was hit from behind and his car launched over the car of Cole Custer. Busch, winner of last week's playoff race at his home track of Las Vegas, is the only driver already locked into the third round of the playoffs. “That's the nature of the sport — you are on top one week and the next week you are at Talladega,” Busch said.
Kurt Busch ends 0-for-21 skid to finally win at home track
LAS VEGAS – Two decades of heartbreak at his home track finally ended for Kurt Busch when a little bit of luck fell his way at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Busch then took the checkered flag to the finish line and smacked it on each of the letters in Las Vegas. Kyle Busch appreciated the milestone his older brother achieved in finally winning at Las Vegas. Not only had Kurt Busch never won before at Las Vegas, but he had just five top-10 finishes before the win. “It was pretty cool to finally see him get a victory here in Las Vegas and score a hometown win.
NASCAR: Keselowski dominates in playoff win at Richmond
RICHMOND, Va. – Brad Keselowski entered NASCAR's playoffs certain he has as good a chance at the Cup championship as favorites Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. His confidence was correct as Keselowski indeed won Saturday night at Richmond, the second playoff race, and advanced into the second next round. Harvick, the title favorite, won last week’s opener to earn the automatic berth into the second round. Harvick, Hamlin and Keselowski are the only drivers locked into the next round of the playoffs. Harvick finished seventh.
Harvick takes Southern 500 after leaders Elliott, Truex bump
Harvick didnt dominate the Southern 500 in his series-best eighth victory of the season. The leaders got tangled up there and the next thing you know we were racing for the win, Harvick said. PLAYOFF PUSHAlmiorola is now squarely on the bubble ranked 12th among the 16 drivers after the first playoff race. BLANEY PENALTYBlaney's title chances took a hit just hours before the first playoff race began. UP NEXTThe second playoff race is at Richmond Raceway on Saturday night.
Playoffs begin with 14 drivers chasing Harvick and Hamlin
Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin are expected to race head-to-head for the NASCAR Cup title when the 10-week playoff series begin Sunday at Darlington Raceway. That theoretically leaves the 14 other drivers racing for just two spots in the winner-take-all race. Busch joins his older brother, Kurt, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer and DiBenedetto as drivers without a win as the playoffs begin. Logano won twice in the first four weeks of the season, while Elliott scored his two wins after racing resumed. Others have been labeled dark horses, but Truex has very quietly made himself a strong challenger to Harvick and Hamlin.
NASCAR drivers cautious of COVID-19 as playoffs begin
CHARLOTTE, N.C. NASCAR has decided it will not grant COVID-19 relief during the playoffs, meaning a positive coronavirus test will end a driver's championship bid. The playoffs begin Sunday at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina without a safety net for the 16 participants during the pandemic. Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon both missed one race during the season following a positive COVID-19 test and earned zero points. NASCAR made no changes for the 10-race playoff series, so missing a race would would effectively end a driver's championship chances. Johnson was not suffering symptoms but was tested after his wife received a positive test; Dillon was experiencing mild symptoms.
Higher stakes at Daytona mean 'crazy things will happen'
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Racing at Daytona International Speedway always comes with a hefty dose of drama. Nearly half the field is looking to clinch a postseason berth with a victory, including seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson. Crazy things will happen.Thats exactly what NASCAR envisioned when it moved Daytonas summertime extravaganza to the regular-season finale. Cup races at Daytona already were considered wild-card events in which just about anyone could end up in victory lane. Throw in the raised stakes, and it's sure to create an ultra-intense couple of hours on the track.
Hamlin holds off Keselowski for fifth Cup victory of season
KANSAS CITY, Kan. Denny Hamlin raced to his his series-leading fifth NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season Thursday night, passing Kevin Harvick in the closing laps and holding off Brad Keselowski to make it back-to-back victories at Kansas Speedway. Joey Logano led early before his night went sideways and took some playoff contenders with him. His problems began when a tire got loose on pit road during the first stage, sending him to the back. He was working his way forward early in the final stage when his left front tire went down, sending Logano into the outside wall. Weve had some really bad weeks, Stenhouse said.
Dillon leads 1-2 RCR finish in Cup race before fans at Texas
Dillon raced to his third career win and first since Daytona at the start of the 2018 season. On the final restart, Dillon got a good jump and raced to the checkered flag ahead of his rookie teammate and some veteran drivers. After leading six times for 150 laps, both highs for the race, Blaney finished seventh. It was 30 degrees warmer than it was on March 29, when the race had been scheduled before the pandemic. The spectators were spread out along the frontstretch, which was fully shaded late in the race, and there were also people in about 40 suites.
Denny Hamlin wins on a long day at Homestead
HOMESTEAD, Fla. Denny Hamlin found the magic at Homestead-Miami Speedway, once again. Hamlin went to the lead for the final time with 30 laps left and held off Chase Elliott for his record-tying NASCAR Cup Series victory at Homestead. At Homestead, he led 137 of 267 laps on the 1 1/2-mile track in Joe Gibbs Racing's No. Most of those fans were gone when Hamlin drove under the checkered flag at 10:46 p.m., ending the marathon day. Austin Dillon had a day hell never forget, though his seventh-place finish wasnt even close to the most significant development.