NASCAR Nationwide Phoenix Auto Racing-4

NNS: Kyle Busch wins rain-shortened race at Phoenix

Most drivers want to finish a race after there is rain. Not Kyle Busch. Not at Phoenix.

Kyle Busch won his record third-straight Nationwide Series race at Phoenix by winning the Blue Jeans Go Green 200. Busch led 155 laps for his seventh in Nationwide at Phoenix and 64th Nationwide win.

Kevin Harvick finished 2nd followed by Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, and Matt Kenseth. Busch took the lead on lap 6 from Keselowski and from then, he failed to turn back.

” I think just the pure dominance we’ve shown here the last few times that we’ve come here and the amount of laps we’ve led with how fast our cars are is pretty phenomenal,” said Busch, who now has 128 victories in NASCAR’s top three series.  “All the credit goes to Adam Stevens (crew chief) and everybody back at the shop.”

Keselowski, who sat on the pole, had trouble finding comfort in the car early and brought out the first caution as he spun Daryl Harr and dropped to 27th after repairs.

After a lap 90 caution, Harvick briefly took the lead before Busch took the lead back and expanded to as big as a 4-second lead.

At lap 167, Ryan Reed crashed hard into the inside wall, taking away a 3.071-second lead for Busch. During the clean-up on the next lap, the skies opened up and rain began to pour on the track.

After a delay of just over two hours, Kyle Busch was announced the winner as the race was called.

With the finishes of 6th by Trevor Bayne and 7th by Regan Smith, Smith kept his 5 point lead over Bayne in the points.

“This is my first time winning a rain-shortened one,” said Busch. “Welcome to the tent.”

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NSCS: Dale Earnhardt Jr wins the Daytona 500

“This one is better than the first one.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. promised his fans that if he won the Daytona 500, he would join Twitter. Sunday night, the sport’s most popular driver made his first tweet.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. snapped a 55 race winless streak by winning the sport’s greatest price, the Daytona 500. He outlasted a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay, the longest in 500 history. He held off undefeated Denny Hamlin and 2012 champion Brad Keselowski to claim his second 500 victory.

Earnhardt’s teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson finished 4th and 5th. 2013 Rookie of the Year Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 6th followed by Duel winner Matt Kesneth, rookie Austin Dillon, Greg Biffle, and Casey Mears.

“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you can feel in this sport,” said Earnhardt, who had finished second three times in the previous four Daytona 500s. “Aside, obviously, from accepting the trophy for the championship. I didn’t know if I’d ever get a chance to feel that again. And it feels just as good, if not better, than the first because of how hard we tried year after year after year, running second all those years, and wondering why and what we needed to do.”

The race started with a very emotional moment as rookie Austin Dillon led the field to the green flag in the return of the No. 3 car to NASCAR’s premier series. Following the opening laps, rookie Kyle Larson and Greg Biffle ran into trouble early by cutting tires and hitting the wall.

Martin Truex Jr., who had qualified on the front row, was on a ride back to the front after starting in a back-up car. However, 31 laps in, his engine expired and made him the first victim of the 500. As the track was getting cleaned up, the rains hit Daytona and the race went into a red flag for 6 and a half hours before picking up with 162 laps left at 8:30 PM.

The rest of the first half of the race went very smooth with tight racing and lots of lead changes. However, after Paul Menard led the halfway lap, the race took a whole new path.

On lap 103, Tony Stewart, in his first points race since injuring his leg on August 5th, came to pit road with a fuel pressure problem and 15 laps later had to take his car to the garage. On lap 116, during green flag stops, Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne, who were among those in the lead, were charged with speeding on pit road and went a lap down. While coming in for a pass-through, Kahne sped up to avoid a spinning Michael Annett and NASCAR charged him with another penalty.

10 laps after Stewart went to the garage, Clint Bowyer’s engine blew up and his race came to an end. 5 laps later, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took his first lead of the race.

On lap 145, Kevin Harvick drifted up into Brian Scott and started a wreck that collected Aric Almirola, Michael Waltrip, David Gilliland, Danica Patrick and damaged Austin Dillon. Patrick slammed the outside wall but all drivers were checked and released.

Under caution, Biffle took fuel only but Earnhardt took over after the restart. After the lead change, Dillon slides into Kyle Larson on lap 161 and collected Marcos Ambrose, Michael Annett, Kasey Kahne, and Brian Vickers.

Earnhardt led the restart but two laps after, the Roush teammates of Biffle and Carl Edwards took the lead.  Briefly after the lead change, Trevor Bayne wrecked down the backstretch and brought out another caution.

With 12 to go, Earnhardt took the lead from Johnson on the restart. 3 laps later, Kurt Busch spun across the front stretch but with no caution. Following Busch’s spin, Dillon spun Ryan Newman and collected rookies Cole Whitt, Brian Scott, Parker Kligerman, and Justin Allgaier. The wreck also took out Terry Labonte, who is in his final Daytona 500.

The race was set for a green-white-checkered finish at the end. However, under caution, Earnhardt picked up a piece of bear bond on his grille. He made every effort to get it off but to no avail. He decided to race the final 2 laps with it on. He pulled away on the restart and led the final 2 laps and took the checkered flag as Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Joey Logano, Reed Sorenson, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards wrecked behind him.

Earnhardt proceeded to turn the car around and wave to the fans before picking up Rick Hendrick on pit road. In Victory Lane, he thanked and congratulated every one of his crew members who helped him win his 3rd race for Hendrick Motorsports.

The Sprint Cup heads to Phoenix Raceway next week for race 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in charge of the Sprint Cup after the most popular driver took the race he has finished second in in 3 of the last 4 years.

“It’s our time. This is our year.”

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NNS: Regan Smith gets redemption at Daytona

A year ago, Regan Smith got turned around while racing Brad Keselowski to the checkered flag in the Nationwide Series race at Daytona. The incident caused a massive crash that sent Kyle Larson’s car flying into the catchfence injuring more than 30 fans. This year, he got his time.

Regan Smith made a last turn pass on Brad Keselowski to win the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona. He beat Keselowski to the line by 0.013 seconds to claim the race that he came so close to last year.

“After last year with what happened at the start/finish line, I felt terrible,” Smith said. “It was a situation where you can’t change it and you’re thankful everybody was able to come back from the injuries and be OK. I wanted to see the checkered flag in a proper manner at Daytona and not causing a wreck there.”

Trevor Bayne finished the race third after giving Smith a shove to the front on the last lap followed by Kyle Busch and Elliott Sadler. Rookie Ty Dillon was 7th while fan favorites Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick finished 11th and 19th respectively.

Rookie Dylan Kwasniewski sat on pole and led the race before Earnhardt Jr. took over the lead. He led 28 laps before having to pit and was force to fight back from a lap down. James Buscher was in contention at the front until he was hit with the weekend’s only pushing penalty.

Busch dominated the middle of the race before Smith took the lead on Lap 77. Smith led until Keselowski drafted by him on the outside with 10 laps remaining. Keselowski had the lead until a caution on Lap 116 set up a green-white-checkered finish.

Smith and Keselowski raced side by side during the last two laps to before Smith was able to pull ahead at the line.

After the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran into a slowing Kyle Larson and triggered a 10 car wreck. The wreck included veteran Joe Nemechek who had his car completely destroyed. Earnhardt said in Victory Lane that he felt really bad about the wreck and offered to buy Nemechek a new race car.

“It’s good to come out of the box strong like this,” he said. “This is Daytona, it’s tough to win here. I thought we had one last year and it didn’t quite happen.”

The Nationwide Series now heads to Phoenix next week with Regan Smith on a hot start to the year.

“This one means a lot.”

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NextEra Energy Resources 250

NCWTS: Kyle Busch finally gets a Daytona win

Kyle Busch has won just about everything there is to win in the Camping World Truck Series except for Daytona. After all the waiting, he finally got his time.

Kyle Busch made a pass on Timothy Peters in the last turn of Daytona to win the NextEra Energy Resources 250 in a photo finish. He beat Peters to the line by 0.016 seconds, closest of the Camping World Truck Series at Daytona.

Busch becomes the first driver ever to win at Daytona in Sprint Cup, Nationwide, Trucks, and ARCA series.

“I wasn’t sure I was going to win this one at all,” Busch said. “As soon as I broke the plane, I was like, ‘Oh, boy! This might be it.’ Then I was like, ‘I hope there’s not somebody below the 17. If there’s somebody down there, they might beat us all to the line.’ Man, it worked out right.”

Johnny Sauter finished 3rd followed very closely by Ryan Truex and Ron Hornaday. 2013 Rookie of the Year Ryan Blaney finished 6th and defending champion Matt Crafton finished 13th after sliding out of contention.

The race was calm for the most part through out the first half of the race. The first half was led by rookie and pole sitter Ben Kennedy who is the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. He lost the lead on a pit stop and Kyle Busch worked to hold off the rest of the field.

In the last 27 laps, there were two very big caution periods. After Peters took the lead from Busch, a 17 truck wreck ensued. The trucks driven by John Wes Townsley, Ross Chastain, Darrell Wallace Jr., John King, Mason Mingus, Parker Kligerman, Sean Corr, Brian Ickler, Ryan Sieg, Tyler Young, Chris Fontaine, Tyler Reddick, Ben Kennedy, Joey Coulter, Brennan Newberry, Chris Cockrum and Caleb Holman received damage ranging from minimal to unfixable.

Peters lost 8 stops on the following pitstop but worked his way back to the lead with 4 laps to go before finishing 2nd.

“A lot of people’s seasons start by how well they do at Daytona,” Peters said. “Last year, we got in a wreck and finished 30th. The year before we finished second and almost won the championship. This isn’t too bad of a thing, you know?”

The Camping World Truck Series is off until April when they go racing in Martinsville, The season is underway and who knows what the Trucks Series will bring in 2014.

“He’s Kyle Busch.”

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NSCS: Joe Gibbs Racing dominates the Budweiser Duels

The Budweiser Duels are meant to set up the lineup for the Daytona 500. In addition, this year they brought uncertainty and entertainment to Speedweeks.

The Budweiser Duels went green for 119 of the 120 laps as Joe Gibbs sent two of their drivers to Victory Lane in the two races that set up the field for the Daytona 500.

The first race went the full 60 laps without a caution before finishing in a three-wide photo finish. Matt Kenseth was able to hold off the charging run of Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne to win the first race and move into the 3rd starting spot. Marocs Ambrose finished 4th with Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishing 5th.

After the race, NASCAR announced that Kevin Harvick failed post-race inspection and would start 38th. Rookies Alex Bowman and Cole Whitt qualified for the race with their runs.

In the second race, the race ran 59 laps of green before a last lap crash gave Denny Hamlin his second win of the week. He held off Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon to win the second duel and secure the 4th starting spot. Paul Menard finished 4th and Nationwide regular Brian Scott finished 5th.

The final race finished with a caution as Jimmie Johnson ran out of gas and was clipped by Jamie McMurray triggering a big wreck off of the last corner. Also involved in the wreck was Joey Logano, Michael Waltrip, David Ragan, and Martin Truex Jr. Truex was on the front row and will give up his spot because of the back-up car. Clint Bowyer was also collected in the wreck and his car took a trip through the air and flipped over before crossing the line.

Failing to make the race are the drivers of Dave Blaney, Joe Nemechek, Michael McDowell, Eric McClure, and Ryan Truex.

Now the field is set for the 56th running of the Daytona 500. Who will engrave their name in the most coveted trophy in trophy?

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