UPDATED — Kyle Busch sweeps Bristol weekend

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BRISTOL, Tenn. — Get out the brooms, Rowdy did it again.

For the second time in history, a NASCAR driver has swept all three races in a weekend at a track, and for the second time that driver was Kyle Busch.

Busch won the Camping World Truck Series race Wednesday night, the NASCAR Xfinity race Saturday and finished it off with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Cup win was Busch’s 40th career victory in NASCAR’s premier series. It was also Busch’s sixth win at the half mile track.

“That one was a lot harder,” Busch said after climbing from the car on the frontstretch to cheers and boos. “That was all I had. I was running with my tongue hanging out, arms are jello, my throat hurts.”

Busch led 156 of the 500 laps Saturday night. Erik Jones led the most laps with 260, coming home second after chasing Busch late in the race. Denny Hamlin finished third, Matt Kenseth fourth and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five.

Busch said Jones was strong racing him, but raced him clean.

“Erik Jones put up a whale of a fight,” Busch said. “I just can’t say enough about that young man. He’s a great kid, and I have a lot of respect for him. He raced me awesome out there like a great teammate and gave me the room when necessary, and raced me hard when necessary.”

Busch said the key was keeping up with adjustments.

“Adam Stevens and these guys never quit working on it,” he said. “Every single pit stop, we kept working on it, kept adjusting on it.”

When asked about the boos he heard when getting out of his car, Busch shrugged it off.

“I don’t care,” he said. “Make the noise, who cares?”

He expounded on that in victory lane, saying the win was for his fans.

“This is for Rowdy Nation,” Busch said. “Rowdy Nation is what fuels us to get around and get along. All the noise is good noise, that’s how I feel about it.”

He had even more to say when questioned about it in the post-race press conference.

“It don’t matter what I do or what I say or how much I try to change, you don’t change perception,” Busch told media after the race.

He said he received some motivation from a “fan” earlier in the day.

“There was this guy that was at one of my hospitality appearances today and he was giving me the bird the whole time, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I know I’m number one. I’ve been number one the past two nights,'” Busch said. “So then he gave me two and I was like, ‘Whelp, you know what? All you’re doing is solidifying that I already know.’ So it’s pretty awesome to be able to go out there, and I’m sure they’re still booing and whining and crying all the way home tonight. So they’re driving home mad, so people be careful.”

Michigan winner Kyle Larson looked strong early, leading 70 laps on the night before coming home ninth.

Jones said following the race the car tightened up at the end, and the lack of a late-race caution made it to where the team couldn’t get back ahead of it.

“It’s fun to have a night where you’ve got a really fast racecar and you’re up front leading laps,” Jones said. “It’s also a burden at the same time, because you’re letting all those guys be behind you and get better and better and improve on their cars to gain up on you. It’s hard to get your car better when you’re out front. You don’t really know what you need.”

“We had gotten a bit snug on the last run, and unfortunately didn’t have another stop to work on it,” Jones continued. “So I think that’s kind of what put us behind the eight ball at the end of the day.”

Jones said he was disappointed coming up one spot short.

“You don’t want to sound like you’re whining or being a sore loser by saying it sucks to run second, but it’s a bummer,” Jones said. “It hurts. You know, you want to win every race you’re in. This was the first shot that I really had to come really close to it in the Cup Series. Bristol is a really good racetrack for myself. Thought we had a shot at it all night. Led a ton of laps.”

“That good of a car, that’s Kyle Busch,” Jones said. “He won all three races here this weekend. So I feel like I’m close to him here, just trying to find that last little bit.”

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Nascar to live-stream in-car cameras on Twitter

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DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. — NASCAR is planning to live-stream in-car cameras on Twitter during the 10 Monster Energy Cup Series playoff races in 2017.

Starting at Chicago, the feeds can be accessed via NASCAR’s official Twitter feed @NASCAR or NASCAR.twitter.com, according to a release issued Thursday. There will also be a real-time curated timeline of tweets that capture the best of the NASCAR live conversatio, the release reads.

“Through the in-car camera live stream on Twitter, our fans will have another compelling vantage point of the NASCAR Playoffs, where the energy and intensity of stage racing will be elevated to a whole new level,” said Steve Phelps, executive vice president and chief global sales and marketing officer for NASCAR. “To provide this level of access on Twitter throughout the 10-week playoffs is a fantastic way to complement the viewing experience on NBC Sports and the NBC Sports app.”

The live stream will be accessible for free for all users in the U.S.

Wallace’s MIS victory encumbered after failing post-race inspection

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Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #99 Maestro’s Classic Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series LTi Printing 200 at Michigan International Speedway on August 12, 2017 in Brooklyn, Michigan. Sean Gardner/Getty Images

BROOKLYN, MI — He still gets to keep the trophy, but Darrell Wallace Jr.’s victory at Michigan International Speedway in Saturday’s LTi Printing 200 has been deemed encumbered after his No. 99 truck failed post-race inspection.

Wallace received an L1 penalty because “vent holes at the bed top must be configured for air intake only” according to the penalty report issued by NASCAR Wednesday. As a result of the penalty, Crew Chief Shane Huffman has been fined $5,000 and suspended for one race and the team has lost 10 owner points.

The No. 98 team of Grant Enfinger also received a couple of penalties issued Wednesday, including an L1 penalty because post-race heights did not match NASCAR tolerances and a safety violation for weight affixed improperly. Crew Chief Jeff Hensley and Truck Chief Josh Hankish have been suspended from the next two truck series post events, and the team was assessed with a 10-point penalty in both the drivers’ and owners’ championships.

The playoff points bubble bursts in Michigan

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Joey Logano makes his way down pit road with a flat tire late in the Pure Michigan 400. He finished 28th. Eric Young — The SuperSpeedway

BROOKLYN – The battle for the final spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series took another wild turn Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

The final spot in the playoffs was up for grabs with four races remaining but by the time the checkered flag flew, all of the drivers battling for those precious final positions all stumbled.

Late in the race, Michigan native, Erik Jones and a batch of other contenders came into Sunday’s race needing a win to secure a playoff spot. Late in the race Jones was battling his teammate and points leader, Martin Truex Jr. for the win. It appeared the Furniture Row cars would finish one-two until two late restarts jumbled the field, allowing Kyle Larson to steal a precious win.

“I just couldn’t get going,” Jones said about the last restart. “The 20 (car) got to the bottom of me and the 42 (car) was to the right of me. I saw them getting runs and had to pick one or the other.I wish it would have worked out a little better”

Truex ended up finishing third after dominating the majority of the late part of the race, followed by Jones. Jones now sits 130 points out of the playoffs 19th in the standings.

The rest of the bubble drivers did not fair so well.

The day looked like it would be a step in the right direction for Joey Logano who eventually tumbled even further down in the standings after finishing 28th. Logano started second and came into the Pure Michigan 400 needing a win to qualify for the playoffs. He began the race sitting 18th in the standings, 95 points behind the behind Matt Kenseth in 16th. After the race Logano currently sits 119 points out of the playoff picture and remains 18th in the playoff picture.

Que Kenseth, who found himself in the top 5 in each of the final two restarts only to stumble with an issue on the final restart. Kenseth finished 24th and sits 31 points ahead of Boyer who struggled as well with two pit road speeding penalties and suffered damage on lap 148, resulting in a flat tire on lap 151. He ended up 23rd, one spot ahead of Kenseth.

The biggest loser of the day was Daniel Suarez who was battling Brad Keslowski for the lead early in the race but ended up tangling with Kasey Kahne on lap 139 when Kahne came across his nose.

“I was just trying to hold my line,” Suarez said.  “He (Kahne) went up a little bit too soon for me. This is going to be damaging to our (playoff) chances.”

The finish was Suarez’s first DNF since Daytona in July.

Truex built on his overall points lead, earning the most points of any driver (52) and winning stage 2, adding to his impressive playoff points total of 35 with 15 stage wins.

“We go beat fair and square,” Truex said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes. There was no distinctive move. If a guy screws up in front of you, you take advantage. He (Larson) took advantage.”

Brad Keslowski looked like the driver to beat for the first 100 laps of the race before falling back late with pit road gambles and trouble on late restarts. Keslowski won Stage 1, his fourth of the year. He now has 14 playoff points.

“It just didn’t come together at the end, but it was nice to lead a bunch of laps,” Keslowski said. “I was really proud of us. We just didn’t have enough to really run with the 77 and 78.”

To read more about Kyle Larson’s win at the Pure Michigan 400, click here.

Finishing Order

1  Kyle Larson

2  Martin Truex, Jr.

3 Erik Jones

4 Ryan Newman

5 Trevor Bayne

6 Chris Buscher

7 Austin Dillon

8 Chase Elliott

9 Jamie McMurray

10 Kyle Busch

Larson wins third Michigan race in a row

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Kyle Larson celebrates in victory lane after winning the Pure Michigan 400. Eric Young — The SuperSpeedway

BROOKLYN, MI — Kyle Larson joined some elite company when he took the checkered flag in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400, becoming only the third driver in history to win three in a row at Michigan International Speedway, joining David Pearson and Bill Elliott.

“That’s some awesome company for sure,” Larson said. “We kind of struggled all day. I felt like I was good when I could find clean air on my car. But any time I would get any dirty air or wake from the car in front of me I’d get extremely loose.”

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Kyle Larson crosses the line to win the Pure Michigan 400. Eric Young — The SuperSpeedway

Larson took the lead on an overtime restart, starting on the outside second row and diving to the middle, taking the field four-wide to get the win. Martin Truex Jr. was the lead car on the restart, leading 57 laps of the day and dominating much of the tail end of the race, though differing pit strategies allowed Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch to lead laps late.

Brad Keselowski was the guy at the start of the race, leading 105 laps on the day.

Larson’s win was the fourth of his career out of 134 starts in the premier series. It is also his third victory in 2017, with his other wins coming in June at MIS and at Auto Club Speedway, MIS’ sister track. He led just two laps — the last two.

“It played out exactly how I’d hoped,” Larson said. “The win, it feels amazing to steal one in a way. In my other wins I had the first or second best car. Today I think we were a top-10 car.”

Larson returned to Michigan early Sunday morning after racing in the Knoxville Nationals sprint car race the night before where he finished second. He said he feels like racing in other series has helped him be successful this season.

“I think anytime I get to race any type of car, whether it be a go-kart or a sprint car, any time I’m getting laps, I feel like it’s helping me be a better racecar driver,” Larson said. “Especially when I can get in that stuff and win. It helps my confidence when I get into the Cup car. I get to race quite a bit throughout the year and this year I’ve had a really good year in everything really, especially the dirt stuff, and I feel like for sure that carries over to Sundays.”

Team Owner Chip Ganassi said when Larson was running in the middle of the pack earlier in the race, he was starting to regret his decision to allow Larson to race in Knoxville.

“We didn’t have too good of a start,” Ganassi said. “We were sort of mired in the top 10 there. I had concerns. I was getting ready to take a lot of heat in the media for that if we didn’t have a good day.”

“It’s easy to break that star athlete, easy to break them and slow them down,” Ganassi said. “It’s a lot harder to speed him up. I don’t want to do something that’s going to slow him down. You run the risk of that when you have a talent like that that wants to go out and drive other kinds of cars and things.”

So would Ganassi let Larson run in the Indianapolis 500?

“See what you do to me?” Ganassi said to Larson, laughing. “That’s a great question. Anybody else have any other questions?”

“I don’t know, we’ll see,” Larson said. “The Indy 500 is definitely on my bucket list. I just don’t know if it is right now.”

Truex wound up second, and was visibly frustrated after the race.

“I’m just angry,” Truex said.

He said Larson’s move was expected — Truex said he even held back a little bit hoping Larson would push him ahead, but he spun the tires and that cost him the race.

“I did everything right,” Truex said. “It caught me by surprise … I hadn’t spun the tires all day long, did not expect to have an issue with it, and when I did, there was nothing I could do. I was just helpless, and he had the momentum and did what everybody else would have done. It’s just my screw-up that gave him the win, basically.”

Truex won the second stage of the race, claiming yet another playoff point as the regular season winds down. It was his ninth top-10 finish in 24 races at MIS, and his 16th in 2017.

Michigan Native Erik Jones finished third, his first top-10 finish at his home track. He was the top finishing rookie on the day, and challenged for the lead late in the race.

Jones continues to improve as the season goes on, and credits returning to tracks for a second time as part of the reason for his added success. He said preparation for each weekend is what has differed the most between the truck and Xfinity series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

“In trucks and Xfinity, I didn’t really have to prepare at all,” Jones said. “It kind of worked out most of the time. You get to the Cup Series and you do that and you kind of feel a little bit out to lunch when you show up and you’re off like that.”

Truex was asked if, when he was leading and Jones was in second, if he had considered letting Jones go by since Jones needs a win to make the playoffs.

“No,” Truex said. “We don’t have team orders. Nobody lets each other win. He’s going to win some races. His turn will come.”

He said Jones will get his win in the future.

“That’s not how we race,” Truex said. “Nobody out there races that way. Nobody’s going to give a Cup win up. They’re too hard to get.”

Fourth place went to Ryan Newman, with fifth going to Trevor Bayne.

Overall the race was clean, with only five cautions for 28 laps. Two of those were for stage finishes, but on Lap 140 Kasey Kahne and Daniel Suarez got together, with both cars collecting the wall and ending their day.

The last caution of the day came on with just three laps to go after Michael McDowell and Paul Menard got together in turn two. The race was red-flagged for a five and a half minutes to clean up oil before an overtime restart. The official race distance was 202 laps after overtime.

Also leading laps on the day were Hamlin with 16, Kyle Busch with 14, Jones with five and Suarez with three.

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Kyle Larson’s crew celebrates after Larson wins the Pure Michigan 400. Eric Young — The SuperSpeedway

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Kyle Larson lights up his tires during his victory celebration. Eric Young — The SuperSpeedway

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Larson’s car is barely visible, buried in confetti after his win at Michigan Sunday. Eric Young — The SuperSpeedway

PREVIEW — Pure Michigan 400

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BROOKLYN, MI — Kyle Larson will look to defend his victory last year in the Pure Michigan 400 when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series takes to the track Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, but he’ll have to deal with some tough competition if he wants to make it three in a row at the 2-mile speedway.

Larson will start ninth Sunday.

The field will be led to the green by the Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Keselowski took the pole Friday with a speed of 203.097 miles per hour.

“Paul Wolfe and my team, they kept dialing in on the car and working on it,” Keselowski said. “I’ve got goosebumps. It feels really good to run well here at Michigan. This is my home track. A lot of fans here. I have to put my glasses on so nobody can see me. Really cool. Really special.”

Logono was knocked off to top starting spot by just .034 miles per hour, or 0.006 second. He said he was happy with how competitive he and Keselowski were, and felt it would translate over to the race as well.

“It seems like Team Penske has brought some speed, even the 21, and really most of the Fords look pretty good here,” Logano said. “That’s a good sign. I think we were really good in race trim too. I feel good about it. Obviously a good starting spot and a good pit stall is gonna be key, and hopefully we can just maintain that track position and we need to win, so this is a good start.”

Logano is fighting for a chance to contend for a championship this season. His one win was encumbered earlier this year, and he now finds himself in a must-win situation if he wants to make the playoffs.

“I love the pressure,” Logano said. “I’m all right with pressure. It’s good. I’d rather be in, but the pressure part is OK. You’ve got to get used to that, but that’s what this sport is, especially during the playoffs. We just have to turn into playoff mode a little bit earlier than everybody else to get in, but so far so good, and we’ll just get this Shell/Pennzoil Ford and do our thing. Like I said, execute our race. If we have speed, it makes it a lot easier, kind of like earlier this year, and make something happen here.”

If there was a track where Logano could turn things around, Michigan could be just the ticket. The 2-mile oval has been kind to him in the past. Logano has two wins at MIS, five top-5s and 12 top-10s. His average finish at MIS is 12.06.

Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne will need to work a little harder if they want to get a victory Sunday. Both will drop to the tail end of the field due to going to backup cars after catching the wall in final practice Saturday. Johnson will give up a 22nd-place starting spot, while Kahne will fall from 23rd.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. also hit the wall in final practice, but the crew was able to repair the car so he could finish out final practice.

Kyle Busch also hit the wall during one of the practice sessions, but the crew was able to fix that car as well. He will roll off sixth.

Wallace Wins the LTi Printing 200 at Michigan

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Darrell Wallace Jr. celebrates with his team in victory lane at Michigan International Speedway after winning the LTi Printing 200. Eric Young — The SuperSpeedway

BROOKLYN, MI — The last time Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. was behind the wheel of a NASCAR Camping World Truck, he went to victory lane for Kyle Busch. Today at Michigan International Speedway, Bubba held off his former boss in a frantic finish to win the LTi Printing 200.

Wallace passed a battling Christopher Bell and Austin Cindric with 11 laps remaining to take the lead.

“I didn’t want to make that move, I didn’t want to make that move that early,” Wallace said, “I wanted to wait till three or four laps to go. I closed my eyes and turned left and when I opened them I was in the lead.”

Wallace said he and his team had two goals coming into his one-off run Saturday.

“We had a text message about the goal(s) we had. That was winning the race and beating Kyle’s ass and we did that.”

The win comes two and a half years since his his last truck series start. A 2014 victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

It was an uphill battle for Wallace, who started ninth in the No. 99 Chevrolet for MDM Motorsports and held the position until the end of stage one. After a caution on lap 53, Wallace was penalized for having a crewmember over the wall too soon and had to drop to the tail end of the field.

Using pit strategy to save fuel allowed Wallace to gain the field position needed to make his move. He said the win will help as he continues to look for a full time NASCAR ride in 2018. Wallace lost his Xfinity Series ride 12 races into the 2017 season due to lack of funding. He spent four races substituting for Aric Almirola’s No. 43 car at Richard Petty Motorsports.  

“I don’t know what my plans are for the rest of the year.” he said. “I have a lot of things working for 2018. I’m pretty confident that this helped. Hopefully this opens up more doors with these guys.”

Wallace said his one race deal with MDM came together approximately two weeks ago. The win is the first for the first year truck series team.

“This is such a huge moment for not only myself but for everyone involved,” Wallace said. “It’s all about who you surround yourself with. When you put a great combination together, there’s a good chance you can add a little more fire and come out here and do this.”

Christopher Bell battled for the win and had help from Kyle Busch, but it wasn’t enough to pass Wallace in the last 10 laps.

“I was pretty bummed,” Bell said. “I felt like I was in position to win. I’m disappointed in myself, really.”

The finish was the latest in a busy weekend for Bell who is on his way to compete in the Knoxville Nationals for Tony Stewart Racing. He also is on standby for Denny Hamlin on Sunday as Hamlin awaits the birth of his second child. Bell had the opportunity to practice the No. 11 Cup car during final practice.

“I was honored,” Bell said about being in Hamlin’s car. “It was a dream come true.”

Kyle Busch finished third after winning the first two stages, Ryan Truex was fourth and Austin Cindric was fifth.

The Camping World Truck Series returns to Bristol Wednesday night for the UNHO 200.

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