Cool Down Laps: NASCAR News for October

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

The month of October brought the start of the second round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, where Kyle Larson snapped a 75-race winless streak to clinch a spot in the Round of 8.

Larson led 154 of 400 laps at Dover International Speedway, winning by a 1.578-second margin over Martin Truex Jr.

The victory earned Larson a spot in the third round of the Playoffs, which is a first for his Chip Ganassi Racing team.

Alex Bowman finished third, while Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five. 

Kyle Busch, Matt DiBenedetto, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer finished sixth through 10th, respectively. 

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The 500 at Talladega Super Speedway saw another dark-horse team clinch their place inside the post season playoffs for the 2019 championship.

Ryan Blaney’s chances at the 2.66-mile track were slim at the start of the race on Sunday, after the Team Penske driver spun entering pit road during Stage 1.

Blaney’s hopes were stalled momentarily, after rain began at the end of the first stage. The remainder of the race was held on Monday, October 14th.

A multi-car crash occurred on Lap 107 when the No. 88 of Bowman attempted to secure his leading position by blocking Joey Logano.

Bowman was unsuccessful and turned by Logano, causing an 11-car pileup involving Larson, Johnson, Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, and Hamlin.

Bowman, Johnson, and Larson sustained heavy damage and were unable to continue. They finished 37th, 38th, and 39th, respectively.

Clint Bowyer finished 23rd after spinning on Lap 153.

William Byron was leading on Lap 164 when a tap from Kurt Busch sent the 21-year old Hendrick Motorsports driver into the outside wall of Turn 3. The incident collected Erik Jones and Ryan Preece, among others.

The “Big One” on Lap 182 sent Brendan Gaughan airborne with six laps remaining and ended the winning chances of Brad Keselowski, DiBenedetto, Harvick, and Kyle Busch.

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

Hamlin earned his fifth win of the season at Kansas Speedway, holding off the No. 9 Chevrolet by .128 seconds.

Kyle Busch finished third, Kurt Busch finished fourth, while Byron finished fifth. 

Truex finished sixth, Jones seventh, while Bowyer, Harvick, and Johnson rounded out the top-10 finishers. 

The elimination race at the 1.5-mile track ended in a three-way battle for the remaining two spots into the Round of 8. 

Keselowski and Elliott restarted up front in double overtime, while Joey Logano restarted in the 20th position.

It was Keselowski that was left without a place in the next round, after the Team Penske driver fell from 13th to 19th in the running order, three playoff points away from Hendrick Motorsports’ Elliott.

Bowman, Byron, and Bowyer all saw their championship chances come to an end at Kansas. 

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

Truex earned his seventh victory this season and 26th MENCS victory after leading a career-best 464 laps out of 500 laps at Martinsville Speedway.

The victory garnered the Joe Gibbs Racing driver a ticket to the championship race at Homestead-Miami in three weeks.

“I can’t believe we just won Martinsville, man,” Truex said, “Miami is awesome, but we’ve wanted to win here for a long time.”

Byron earned his fifth top-five finish of 2019 with second. The Hendrick Motorsports driver ran up front throughout the day, but was unable to reach Truex to make a move for the win.

Keselowski finished third, Hamlin fourth, and Blaney rounded out the top five. 

Hamlin was confronted by Logano after the race because of contact made in the final laps at the half-mile short track, but the discussion escalated to a fight when Logano pushed Hamlin before walking away.

“We were having a discussion,” Hamlin said. “Everything was civil, and then, like Joey does, he does a little push and then runs away. So that’s Joey. Scared. He said, ‘Do you want to go?’ I said, ‘Yes, I’m here.’ But then he runs away.”

“I just wanted to see what his thoughts were,” said Logano, who hit the wall and spun in Turn 4 after being hit by the JGR driver, “and it wasn’t quite the answer I was looking for,”

NASCAR announced on Monday, October 28, 2019 that Dave Nichols Jr., the tire specialist for Joey Logano, would be suspended for one race after Nichols threw Hamlin to the ground while trying to break up the drivers.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, November 3rd at 3 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.

Xfinity Series:

The first round of the Xfinity Series Playoffs came to a close at Dover International Speedway on Saturday, October 5th.

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Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer earned his seventh win of the season in his 100th series start, holding off Justin Allgaier by one second in the Drive Sober 200.

Custer led 31 laps and scored the Stage 1 victory. He became the fifth series driver to win in their 100th start.

Austin Cindric finished third, Justin Haley fourth, and Chase Briscoe came in fifth. 

Noah Gragson rallied to finish seventh after being involved in a multi-car crash on Lap 2.

John Hunter Nemechek finished eighth after spinning Mike Harmon early in the race. Harmon finished 34th.

The seven drivers advancing into the Round of 8 with Custer are: Annett, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Cindric, Gragson, Briscoe, and Allgaier.

The first-time series winner of the Kansas Lottery 300 was overshadowed by a pit road scuffle between Custer and Reddick at the conclusion of the race on October 19th at Kansas Speedway.

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Brandon Jones led 10 laps and held off Reddick by .272 seconds to earn his first Xfinity Series victory.

“My foot was literally shaking on the accelerator on that last lap,” Jones said, “I’m not even sure if I was wide open at the time that I was doing it. There was a lot of nerves and a lot of emotion going through my mind, but I saw it coming, and I was pretty pumped.”

Reddick forced the No. 00 of Custer into the outside wall on the final restart, which resulted in Custer finishing in the 11th position.

Custer approached the Richard Childress Racing driver on pit road after the race, placing his right hand on the defending champion’s shoulder.

I put my hand on him, and he just went berserk,” said Custer, who led a race-high 85 laps and won the second stage. “I thought we had a good car. I thought we had a chance to win.”

Reddick responded by placing both his hands on Custer’s collar before they each fell to the pavement.

“If he puts a hand on me, I’m going to put a hand on him back,” Reddick said. “That’s just how it’s going to be if we’re having a conversation that way…It was just the heat of the moment — we’re pissed off. I’m sure we’ll talk about it here soon, maybe today, tomorrow.”

“I obviously didn’t want to get into his quarter panel, but if I lift, I get passed. I hate that it happened to him, but we’ll try to move forward.”

Briscoe was leading on Lap 184 when he tangled with Bell and the No. 0 of Garrett Smithley. Briscoe and Smithley made contact after Smithley moved up the track into the top lane of the racetrack that the leaders were using. The contact sent Bell, who had nowhere to go, spinning through the grass and onto pit road.

Briscoe recovered to finish third, while Bell finished 12th and Smithley finished in the 33rd position. 

The Xfinity Series championship run continues with the "O'Reilly Auto Parts 300" at Texas Motor Speedway, Saturday, November 2 at 8:30 p.m. on NBCSN.

Truck Series:

Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs

Spencer Boyd earned his first career Gander Outdoors Truck Series victory on Saturday, October 12th at Talladega Super Speedway. 

Boyd, who drives the No. 20 for Young Motorsports, was credited with leading the final lap of the Sugarlands Shine 250 after NASCAR Officials determined that Johnny Sauter forced Riley Herbst below the yellow line.

Todd Gilliland finished in the runner-up position, while Herbst came in third, Brett Moffitt fourth, and Stewart Friesen fifth. 

Austin Hill finished sixth, Tyler Ankrum seventh, and Matt Crafton ended up in eighth. Sheldon Creed earned ninth after leading 20 laps, while Grant Enfinger rounded out the top 10.

Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs

Gilliland earned his first NGOTS victory on October 26th at Martinsville Speedway, passing playoff contender Ross Chastain with nine laps to go and holding him off by .879 seconds.

Gilliland won in his 46th start racing for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

 “I wish we had won two years ago, just like everyone else thought we would,” Gilliland said. “I thought we would, too. We went through some growing pains. (Marcus) Richmond was my crew chief, and we got rid of him, and then he came back and was helping us again. He’s really great here at Martinsville.

“I’m just so proud of these guys. Man, this is a long time coming. Hopefully, this will get some momentum rolling and open up some doors for next year.”

John Hunter Nemechek and Ben Rhodes spun on the backstretch on Lap 90 of the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200. Nemechek recovered to finish seventh, while Rhodes wound up 16th.

A multi-truck wreck occurred on Lap 123 when Harrison Burton, Hill, Sam Mayer, and Enfinger went four-wide. Enfinger was turned by Mayer, which resulted in the nine-truck pileup.

Moffitt, Hill, and Ankrum sustained heavy damage which effectively ended their day. Ankrum and Hill finished 25th and 26th, while Moffitt ended up 29th out of a 32-truck field.

Moffitt is the current leader in the standings, 10 points ahead of Friesen. Crafton is fifth, nine points behind the cutoff, while Ankrum is sixth, 15 points behind Hill.

The Gander Outdoors Truck Series head to ISM (Phoenix) Raceway on Friday, November 8th, where the Championship 4 will be set. 
Cool Down Laps: NASCAR News for October Cool Down Laps: NASCAR News for October Reviewed by Anonymous on Monday, October 28, 2019 Rating: 5