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Race Report: Michigan

Carl Edwards led Joe Gibbs Racing with a seventh-place finish in this afternoon’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Meanwhile teammates Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch finished ninth, 13th and 19th respectively.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 ARRIS Surfboard Toyota from the ninth position but battled loose handling conditions as he dropped outside the top ten to run 13th prior to a lap 20 competition caution. Edwards would patiently work his way back toward the top ten and was running 11th at lap 50. He would make a green flag pit stop on lap 66 and cycled through to run 14th at lap 70. Edwards was running 13th at lap 100 would restart 12th on lap 125 after a round of pit stops under the day’s third caution. He would lead briefly for just one lap during a round of green flag pit stops. Crew chief Dave Rogers would make the call to have the ARRIS Camry remain out under a final caution that allowed Edwards to line up fifth for a restart with nine laps to go. He would go on to finish the day in seventh.

Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota from the third position and would drop back outside the top five prior to a competition caution after lap 20. Hamlin would restart in fourth on lap 25 and following another quick caution he would make his way into second. Hamlin would make a green flag pit stop on lap 67 and cycled through to run seventh at lap 70. He would continue to run seventh at lap 100 and would restart fifth on lap 125 after electing to stay out and not pit under caution. Hamlin was running seventh at lap 150 and held that position on lap 175 following a cycle of green flag pit stops. Crew chief Mike Wheeler would make the call for the FedEx Camry to come down pit road one final time and Hamlin lined up seventh for the final restart with nine laps to go. He would go on to finish in ninth.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the 13th position and held that spot through the opening 20 laps prior to a competition caution. He was able to enter the top ten on lap 37 and was running ninth at lap 50 while battling a loose handling race car. He would make a green flag pit stop on lap 66 and cycled through to run 12th. Kenseth was running 11th at lap 100 and would pit for tires under the day’s third caution allowing him to restart 11th at lap 125. He would take the lead on lap 157 and held it for eight laps during a cycle of green flag pit stops. A final caution would come out on lap 188 and crew chief Jason Ratcliff would bring the Dollar General Camry down pit road one final time. He would line up ninth for the final restart with nine laps to go and went on to finish the race in 13th.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota from 16th position and was able to gain two positions on the opening green flag run prior to a lap 20 competition caution. He would line up 10th for a restart on lap 25, but was loose and spun down the track and into the grass. Busch managed to limit the damage to his Interstate Batteries Camry and he would restart the race just one lap down in 39th on lap 31. He would pit under green on lap 71 hoping to earn the lucky dog spot as the first car one lap down. Unfortunately, that opportunity would never come and the Interstate Batteries Camry would get locked a lap down the remainder of the race. Kyle would finish as the first car a lap down in 19th.

Kyle Larson captured the win, followed by Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five. There were four cautions for a total of 17 laps and 20 lead changes among 13 different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head south to Darlington Raceway for throwback weekend next Sunday. All four JGR cars will carry a special throwback paint scheme. Live coverage of the race will be carried by NBC on Sunday, September 4 starting with its pre-race show at 5 PM ET (race starts at 6 PM ET). Live coverage will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.

Sprint Cup Race Report: Bristol

The night race at Bristol ended nearly 24 hours after it was scheduled to start.

What was supposed to be a night race suddenly became a day race again as rain became the dominating story line at NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The start of the race was delayed an hour from its scheduled start time on Saturday night and then the field would race for less than 50 laps before the rain returned forcing a red flag. After another lengthy delay the field began to roll again, but before the green flag could drop a heavy downpour would follow once again and NASCAR officials made the call to suspend the race until Sunday afternoon. The wet story line would continue into Sunday afternoon delaying the restart of the race nearly four hours until just before 5 PM.

When it was over Denny Hamlin would lead Joe Gibbs Racing with a third-place finish after rebounding from being two-laps down, while Carl Edwards finished sixth and separate accidents left Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch back in 37th and 39th respectively.

Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota from the second position and was able to jump to the lead for the opening eight laps. He would run fourth when the rain ended racing for Saturday night. When racing finally restarted late Sunday afternoon, Hamlin would restart fourth but quickly jumped into second. He would drop back again a bit during the ensuing green flag run and restarted fifth following a lap 86 competition caution. Hamlin would drop back to 10th battling a tight handling FedEx Camry when a caution on a lap 158 brought the field back down pit road once again. He would restart sixth on lap 165 and made his way into third behind only his teammates Edwards and Busch. Hamlin would continue to battle tight handling conditions but was able to get a good restart on lap 262 to run third at lap 275. He was running sixth when a caution came out on lap 308 bringing the leaders down pit road. NASCAR would rule that Hamlin was speeding on pit road resulting in a penalty and leaving the FedEx Camry to restart 22nd on lap 317. He would report a loose wheel a few laps into the next green flag run forcing him to come to pit road under the green flag for an unscheduled stop. That would drop the 11 two laps down back in 25th. A series of cautions would allow Hamlin to get back to the lead lap and crew chief Mike Wheeler would make the call for a two-tire stop on the final trip down pit road that allowed him restart first on lap 423. The strategy would prove a success as Hamlin would manage to remain in the top three over the final green flag run to the finish.

Edwards started the No. 19 STANLEY Toyota on the pole position but dropped outside the top five during the opening green flag laps of the race. He was running seventh when the rain returned to end racing for Saturday night. He would restart seventh when the race resumed late Sunday afternoon but would drop back just outside the top ten. He would restart ninth following a competition caution and quickly maneuvered his way back to the front of the field. Edwards was funning second at lap 150. He would restart first on lap 165 following a round of pit stops under caution. Edwards continued to run second and lined up for a restart on the inside of his teammate Busch on lap 262. The inside lane was not the preferred lane however once the top of the track had enough tire rubber built up and the 19 would fall back to run fifth. Edwards was running eighth at lap 300 and would restart seventh on lap 317. He would restart fifth on lap 372. Edwards would race inside the top ten over the course of the final 100 laps before taking the checkered flag in sixth.

Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the fifth position and was able to hold that spot when rain ended the racing for Saturday night. He would restart fifth when the race resumed on lap 49 late Sunday afternoon. The Dollar General Camry was loose into the turns and tight coming out of them over the next portion of the race and Kenseth dropped back outside the top ten prior to a caution on lap 158. He would restart 10th on lap 165 but the handling conditions would continue and the No. 20 dropped back to run 15th. Kenseth would line up 20th for a restart on lap 317 following a round of pit stops and climbed back up into the top 15 on the next green flag run. He was running 13th with 150 laps to go. Kenseth would be collected in a multi-car accident on lap 373 that caused major damage forcing the Dollar General Camry to the garage. He would officially finish 37th.

Busch started the No. 18 M&M’S 75th Anniversary Toyota from the third position and was able to work his way to the lead on lap 23 before the rains would officially ended the racing for Saturday night. When the race restarted late Sunday afternoon he remained on point. He held the lead until a competition caution on lap 86. Busch would restart third after two cars made the decision to remain out on the track, but the M&M’s Camry was back on point just a few laps later. He would restart second on lap 165 to his teammate Edwards, but once again put the 18 back in the lead at lap 191. He would continue to lead when a lap 256 caution would bring the leaders back down pit road. He would restart first alongside his teammate Edwards on lap 262 and held the lead until giving way to the 4 car on lap 290. The M&M’s crew would put him back on point with a great pit stop Busch lined up first for the restart on lap 317. Busch would report that he felt something had broken shortly after the restart but still managed to lead for the next 30 laps. He was in second when something in the back of the car finally gave way causing the 18 to spin across the track. As the M&M’S Camry came to a stop in the center of the track the 46 car would make contact with the right front causing major damage to the 18. Busch would take his car to the garage and his day would be over. Despite leading a race-high 256 laps he would finish 39th.
Kevin Harvick captured the win, followed by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in second, Hamlin third, Austin Dillon fourth and Chris Buescher rounded out the top five. There were nine cautions for a total of 106 laps and 20 lead changes among eight different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway next Sunday for an afternoon race. Live coverage on NBCSN will start Sunday, August 28 at 1:30 PM (race starts at 2 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.

Xfinity Race Report: Bristol

The NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) returned to action on Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) for their second and final stop of the 2016 season at the half-mile speedway. Daniel Suárez, driver of the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, finished 30th during the 300-lap event after a late-race accident severely damaged his ARRIS Camry.

Earning his seventh pole of the season, Erik Jones and the No. 20 Reser’s Main St. Bistro team led the field to green on Friday night under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 300. Jones led 31 laps and looked poised for a solid finish before a late-race accident relegated the team to a 33rd-place finish.

Kyle Busch and the No. 18 Tunity Toyota team, qualified in row one, intended to be a second-place start when a post qualifying part failed, and with repair, the team would start from the back of the 40-person field. Busch grabbed spots quickly and drove towards the front of the field, despite a few hindered pit stops. After aggressively passing frontrunners, the No. 18 team did see the race lead at one point, before a late-race pass caused the Tunity Toyota to be involved in a an accident, and forced veteran Busch to drive back to the garage early. The nine-time JGR XFINITY Series team’s hopes of grabbing another 2016 season victory ended early with a 24th-place result.

Austin Dillon won the race followed by Justin Allgaier, Kyle Larson, Elliott Sadler and Brendan Gaughan.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series now heads to Road America on Saturday, August 27, for the Road America 180. The race can be viewed on NBCSN at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Rain Washes Out Coughlin’s Last Race at Columbus

Cody Coughlin went to his home track on Saturday knowing it would be his last chance to score a win at Columbus Motor Speedway. Unfortunately, Coughlin never even got the chance to go for the victory on Saturday night because Mother Nature spoiled the party once again.

Coughlin proved that he’d definitely be a contender for the win in the 30 minutes of practice he and his fellow drivers were given. Coughlin shot to second on the speed charts before the first rain shower came and brought a premature end to the practice session.

With this race being the makeup date for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Memorial 100 from its originally scheduled Memorial Day weekend slot, Coughlin and his team had an abbreviated schedule for the event. Qualifying was completed back in May, so all he had was practice and the race.

The track was eventually dried after the first shower, but a second storm came through and soaked the track once again. The decision to cancel the event was made soon after.

“It’s a real shame, because I know we had a car that could win,” Coughlin said. “We qualified well back in May and we were fast in practice today. I know we could have moved from our seventh starting spot (due to an invert) to the front of the field fast, but unfortunately we won’t get a chance to prove that. I would have loved to score a win here at Columbus, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.

“Even though we didn’t get to race, I have to thank my team for all of their hard work and for giving me another fast car. Jack (Smith, crew chief), Kevin (Hamlin, team manager), Scott (Wimmer, spotter) and Dave (Holt, crew member) work so hard to give me race winning cars and I appreciate that so much. I also have to thank my family for always supporting me; God has blessed me with a terrific family.”

Coughlin’s next race weekend is a busy one. He will be back in the Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra for next week’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the Michigan International Speedway. Right after that race ends he will hustle over to Flat Rock Speedway for the ARCA/CRA Super Series race where he will look to extend his points lead.

TIDE RETURNS TO NASCAR AT BOJANGLES’ SOUTHERN 500

Tide and Joe Gibbs Racing announced today they will bring back one of the most iconic brands in the history of NASCAR for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, September 4. Tide’s unforgettable orange and yellow paint scheme has been reborn as a more powerful Tide PODS Toyota Camry, and will be driven by Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth. This potent combination of the new Tide PODS entry and Kenseth will pay homage to the rich history of Tide while exemplifying the strength and evolution of the brand.

For 20 years, an entire generation of racing fans cheered for the iconic “Tide Ride.” Driven by some of the sport’s legendary figures, including Darrell Waltrip, Ricky Rudd and Ricky Craven, the car amassed 20 total wins from 1987 to 2006. Each driver contributed a fabled chapter to the Tide Ride story—Waltrip’s famous victory lane dance following his Daytona 500 win in 1989; Rudd gutting out a win at the 1997 Brickyard 400; and Craven capturing the closest win in the sport’s history (.002 seconds) at Darlington in 2003.

“With Tide celebrating its 70th anniversary as a brand, there’s no better time to return to our roots in NASCAR for the Southern 500, and introduce a new generation of fans to the powerful new Tide PODS car,” said Amy Krehbiel, Brand Manager for Tide. “Matt Kenseth’s track record has proven him to be the type of commanding talent that we’re proud to align with the Tide PODS brand.”
As the newest driver to compete for Tide, Matt Kenseth brings nearly 20 years of experience in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, including 38 wins and the 2003 series championship.

“Tide has such a rich history in this sport,” said Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry. “I can’t think of a better race to make their return to NASCAR than for the Southern 500. I’m looking forward to being a part of the second annual throwback weekend, and am proud to represent such an iconic brand. There have been many great moments associated with Tide and its former talented drivers; I’m honored to continue the legacy with Tide PODS at Darlington.”

Tide will also serve as an associate sponsor on the remaining three Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards for the Labor Day weekend event. Additionally, the Nos. 18, 19 and 20 entries will carry Tide as an associate for the following two events at Chicagoland Speedway and Richmond International Raceway.

Both Tide and Joe Gibbs Racing are also celebrating substantial company anniversaries this year, further strengthening the significance of the partnership and return of the iconic brand to NASCAR for these select events.

“This is a thrill for us,” said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. “Not only is this a throwback paint scheme that we know the fans will be excited for, but it is with a sponsor that has a tremendous history in our sport. This is our 25th Anniversary season at Joe Gibbs Racing and I know it is the 70th Anniversary of Tide. They really are a historic brand in our country and their new partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing for Darlington is a real honor.”

Fans can follow @JoeGibbsRacing and @MattKenseth on Twitter for exclusive content featuring Matt Kenseth and much more, as well as live updates during the Bojangles’ Southern 500. Kenseth and the No. 20 Tide PODS Toyota Camry will hit the Darlington Raceway track surface on Sunday, September 4, with live coverage on NBC beginning at 6:00 pm ET.