Cool Down Laps: NASCAR News for July

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returned to Daytona International Speedway for the summer event during Fourth of July weekend, where Justin Haley earned his first career victory after continuous rain and lightning shortened the Coke Zero Sugar 400.

Haley, who was racing the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports, earned the victory after gaining the lead from former champion Kurt Busch. 

Busch pitted with one to go before NASCAR Officials were forced to red-flag the event for lightning in the area.

 “It’s absolutely a blessing,” Haley said, “Pretty incredible that I have so many people around me who have given me this opportunity.”

Hendrick Motorsports drivers William Byron and Jimmie Johnson finished second and third, respectively, while Ty Dillon and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-five finishers.

Corey LaJoie finished sixth, Aric Almirola seventh, Matt DiBenedetto eighth, Matt Tifft ninth, and Busch finished 10th.

A multi-car wreck collected six cars on Lap 84, including Kevin Harvick, Daniel Suarez, and Brad Keselowski, who could not continue the race after sustaining significant damage. He finished 39th out of 40 cars.

“The Big One” happened on Lap 120 of the scheduled 160 laps after Austin Dillon and Clint Bowyer made contact going into Turn 1. A total of 18 cars were involved, including pole sitter Joey Logano and all four drivers for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

Busch gained redemption one week later at Kentucky Speedway, where he earned his first victory of the season as well as his first with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Busch led 41 laps and held off his brother, Kyle Busch, for the victory. He won by a .076 second margin in overtime, the closest finish at a 1.5-mile track this season.

“What an awesome run,” Busch said. “Whatever last week was, we got the ‘W’ now! That was epic. I was hopeful that we would get a shot, just one more restart. We got that yellow … with my little brother — it’s the best guy in the world to go race against.”

Busch was running fourth when Bubba Wallace spun to bring out the seventh and final caution of the night. Busch had the fresher tires against Logano, Erik Jones, Kyle Busch, and Denny Hamlin-who all elected to stay out on older tires for the finish.

Jones finished third, Kyle Larson finished fourth, and Hamlin finished fifth.

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Harvick fought off Hamlin for his first victory of the season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Harvick led three times for 41 laps to earn his 46th MENCS victory of his career.

Hamlin led 113 laps before claiming second, Jones finished third after early contact with Alex Bowman on pit road, while Ryan Blaney and DiBenedetto rounded out the top five.

Martin Truex Jr. overcame a mid-race crash on Lap 146 to finish sixth. Newman, Kyle Busch, Logano, and Keselowski earned seventh through 10th, respectively.

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Denny Hamlin earned his third win of the season at Pocono Raceway, holding off teammates Erik Jones and Martin Truex Jr. in overtime.

Hamlin led the final 32 laps of the Gander RV 400 before claiming his fifth victory at the 2.5-mile track.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kurt Busch, and Michael McDowell all made contact with each other to bring out the seventh and final caution, sending the race into overtime as teams were trying to save fuel for the finish.

Jones finished second, Truex Jr. third, while Byron and Larson rounded out the top five.

Blaney recovered from a mid-race spin to finish 10th, earning him his ninth top-10 finish of the season.

Chase Elliott finished last after an early hard hit in Turn 3. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has failed to score a top five or top 10 since Pocono in June.

Xfinity Series:

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Ross Chastain earned his first victory of the season at Daytona International Speedway, holding off Kaulig Racing teammates Justin Haley and AJ Allmendinger for the victory.

However, the No. 10 failed to pass post-race inspection and was not credited with the third place finish. He was scored in last place as a result.

Chastain took the lead from defending champion Tyler Reddick with seven laps to go, allowing Haley to follow behind his teammate.

“Oh, my god, we did it — Daytona!” Chastain said, “I watched these races in July as a kid, and I never could come (to the track) because we were growing watermelons.

The Circle K Firecracker 250 saw seven cautions throughout the day, five of which were multi-car accidents.

The first happened on Lap 9 in Turn 4 of the track and collected eight cars, including the No. 22 of Austin Cindric, Caesar Bacarella, Ray Black Jr., Brandon Jones, and Cole Custer.

Custer was involved in two more incidents, one on Lap 24 and then again on Lap 87, which effectively ended his day and resulted in a red flag that lasted 17 minutes and 45 seconds.

“That was terrible,” Custer said. “It’s just speedway racing. I just have never been good at it, I guess. I always get caught up in the wrecks.”

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Custer found redemption on Friday, July 12th at Kentucky Speedway, where he earned his fifth victory of the season and seventh of his Xfinity Series career.

Custer led three times for 88 laps. He took the lead for the first time on Lap 93 and later passed teammate Chase Briscoe on Lap 111 of 200, only relinquishing the lead during green flag pit stops the rest of the race.

“It’s been unbelievable,” Custer said. “This one just goes to my team. That car was just unbelievable, and they knew exactly what to do with it when the track changed, and I was just lucky to drive it there at the end.”

Christopher Bell was the runner-up after dominating the first half of the race, winning Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the Alsco 300.

Reddick finished third, Michael Annett fourth, and Briscoe fifth.

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The following week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway saw Bell dominating again, leading 186 of 200 laps to earn his fifth victory of the season.

Bell won by more than four seconds over Custer. Justin Allgaier earned his eighth top-five finish with his third place, Reddick finished fourth and Paul Menard ended the day in the fifth position.

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Briscoe overcame an early pit road penalty at Iowa Speedway, holding off Bell to earn his second career series victory.

Briscoe threw a slide job on Bell, who led 234 of 250 laps, in the closing laps to win at the 0.875-mile track.

John Hunter Nemechek finished third, Noah Gragson overcame Lap 44 contact with Cindric for fourth, and Reddick rounded out the top five.

Custer ended up 29th after competing in the top five until a pit road speeding penalty dropped the Stewart-Haas Racing driver to the back of the pack. He hit the wall on Lap 160 and took his No. 00 Ford to the garage.

Truck Series:

Credit: Brian Lawdermilk

Tyler Ankrum earned his first career victory at Kentucky Speedway on Thursday, July, 11th.

After missing the first the first three races of the season because he was not 18, Ankrum was running second when leader Brett Moffitt ran out of fuel.

Ankrum led 40 of 150 laps and won by a 7.373 margin-of-victory over Stewart Friesen.

Harrison Burton, Chastain and Dylan Lupton rounded out the top five.

Johnny Sauter rebounded to 10th after being involved in a multi-car wreck on Lap 60.

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

Chastain dominated to earn his third victory of the season at Pocono Raceway. He led 54 of 60 laps during the Gander RV 150.

Ankrum finished second, Burton third, Christian Eckes fourth, and Brett Moffitt came home fifth.

Matt Crafton finished sixth, Todd Gilliland seventh, Sauter eighth, while Ben Rhodes and Grant Enfinger rounded out the top 10.

Cool Down Laps: NASCAR News for July Cool Down Laps: NASCAR News for July Reviewed by Anonymous on Monday, July 29, 2019 Rating: 5