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Race Report: Talladega

It was a battle for survival in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

When it was over Kyle Busch was the only Joe Gibbs Racing to survive without major damage. He would lead the four-car team with a second-place finish, while separate accidents collected Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards at various times resulting in finishes of 23rd, 31st, and 35th respectively.

Busch started the No. 18 Skittles/Marvel from the 17th position and was able to race his way toward the front of the field to race with his teammates through the early portion of the race. He would take his first lead of the day on lap 40 and would lead 12 laps before a caution would bring the leaders down pit road. Busch continued to race patiently and continued to avoid being caught up in several big wrecks. He maneuvered his Skittles/Marvel Camry to the outside following the final restart of the afternoon with four to go and managed to slide up into second behind the 2 car. He was hoping to make one final push to the front when an accident behind the leaders brought out the checkered flag a few hundred yards prior to the line. Busch was scored officially in second.

Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the fourth position and spent the majority of the afternoon toward the front of the field racing in the pack with the leaders. Kenseth would take his first lead of the day on lap 14. At the halfway point he was the lap leader with 30 total laps at that point. He would continue to keep his Dollar General Camry at the front of the field and made his way back to the lead with just over 40 laps remaining. Kenseth continued to ride up front with the leaders as the race neared its conclusion. He was third in line on the bottom of the track behind his teammate Busch with less than 10 laps to go when a car from the outside came down the track and into his right side resulting in the No. 20 Camry going airborne. Fortunately the Dollar General Camry would come to rest on its tires and Kenseth was okay. He would go on to be scored in 23rd at the finish.

Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota from the eighth position and chose to join the majority of his teammates running at the front of the field. He would come down pit road following a lap 49 caution and contact with the 16 car while attempting to exit his pit stall would force him to back up into his box once again for repairs. That would put Hamlin to the back of the leaders on the restart, but he would find his way through the pack once again to race with the leaders. In fact, he would lead several laps starting at lap 83. More trouble on pit road would occur during a round of stops following a caution with 60 laps remaining. This time Hamlin was spun by the 38 car while entering the pits and once again he would restart at the back of the pack. Another accident with 28 laps to go would set off a major chain reaction and although he managed to avoid most of the cars that were spinning around him he would have to come down the track and into the grass. The damage resulted in a trip to the garage. He would return with nine laps to go but was scored 18 laps down and ultimately finished 31st.

Edwards started the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota from the ninth position seeking a third straight win. Edwards ran much of the first half of the race toward the back of the pack. In fact, he would race toward the back of the main pack for much of the first half of the race managing to avoid several accidents. He would find trouble however when several cars wrecked in front of him on lap 96 and contact with the 46 car as it came down the track resulted in damage to the right front of his ARRIS Camry. Edwards would bring it down pit road for repairs and was able to remain on the lead lap. Trouble would strike again however on lap 111 when it appeared his right front tire went down causing him to swing up into the 88 car and the outside wall. This time the damage was major ending the day for the ARRIS team. He would be scored in 35th.

Keselowski captured the win, followed by Kyle Busch in second, Austin Dillon third, Jamie McMurray fourth Chase Elliott rounded out the top five. There were 10 cautions for a total of 41 laps and 37 lead changes among 17 different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway next Saturday night. Live coverage on Fox Sports 1 will start Saturday, May 7 at 7 PM (race starts at 7:30 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.

Carl Edwards Wins at Richmond!

It was another strong day for Joe Gibbs Racing with teammates battling it out for the win down to the final lap before Carl Edwards managed to edge Kyle Busch for the win in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Toyota Owner’s 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

It was back-to-back wins for Edwards who won a week ago at Bristol Motor Speedway. Meanwhile Busch held on to finish second. Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth both joined their teammates in the top ten with sixth and seventh-place finishes respectively despite each having to overcome adversity in the first half of the race.

Edwards started the No. 19 XFINITY Toyota from the fourth position and was fast all afternoon racing his way to the front of the field by lap 64. For the second straight week Edwards was the lap leader on the afternoon. This time he led the pack seven different times for 151 total laps on the afternoon. It was a move on the final lap and final turn of the day however that earned him a trip to victory lane. Edwards settled in to run behind his teammate Busch following the final restart of the afternoon and patiently waited for an opportunity. That opportunity would come into to turn three on the final lap when Edwards got to the bumper of Busch and used a small bump to create the space needed to make the pass for the win. The win was Edwards’ second of the season after winning just a week ago in Bristol.

Busch started the No. 18 Banfield Pet Hospital Toyota from the ninth position and was fast throughout the afternoon. He entered the top five just 50 laps into the race running third at lap 53 and took his first lead of the day on lap 158. Great work by the Banfield Pet Hospital crew on pit road put Busch back out front for the final restart of the day with 35 laps to go. He would go to the front of the field and managed to hold off his teammate Edwards for several laps. Edwards finally made it to Busch’s bumper entering turn three of the final lap and used just enough of a bump to slide the 18 up the track. Busch would come home with a strong second-place finish.

Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota from the fifth position and the Richmond, Va. area native and was content running just inside the top five through the opening green flag run of the race. He would settle in to run third behind his teammates Edwards and Busch prior to the lap 100 mark. An uncontrolled tire on the FedEx team’s second round of stops would result in a penalty and left Hamlin to restart at the back of the lead lap cars. The FedEx crew delivered a fast stop the next time down pit road gaining five spots which allowed Hamlin to restart in 12th just before halfway. He would drive his way back into the top ten and was running seventh with 150 laps remaining. Hamlin would go on to finish the race in sixth.

Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the 13th position and showed early speed as he drove his way into the top ten. An electrical problem would force the Dollar General team to change out the battery prior to the halfway mark of the race. Amazingly the 20 crew was able to make the change and keep Kenseth on the lead lap allowing him to restart in 19th. He would patiently work his way back to the top ten while battling a mostly loose handling race car the remainder of the afternoon. Kenseth was back in the top ten with 100 laps remaining and was able to battle to a seventh-place finish.

Edwards captured the win, followed by Kyle Busch in second, Jimmie Johnson third, Kasey Kahne fourth and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 49 laps and 23 lead changes among eight different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway next Sunday afternoon. Live coverage on Fox will start Sunday, May 1 at 12:30 PM (race starts at 1 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.

Carl Edwards Wins Bristol

Carl Edwards dominated from start to finish and picked up his first win of the season in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Edwards led a race-high 276 laps today after starting from the pole.

Meanwhile it was a day of frustration for his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates who battled through several setbacks including a series of blown right front tires. When it was over Hamlin would be scored 20th, while Kenseth was 36th and Busch 38th.

Edwards started the No. 19 Comcast Business Toyota on the pole position and led the opening 36 laps. Edwards would remain solidly in the top five for much of the first third of the race and was back at the front of the field by lap 200. He would continue to hold the top spot through a series of cautions and by lap 250 he had led a total of 100 laps. Edwards would continue to lead the field through a series of cautions over the next 100 laps. The 41 car would get around Edwards on lap 365 on a restart, but he would regain the lead prior to another caution with 90 laps to go. The Comcast Business crew would keep him on the lead following pit stops and the 19 car shot to the front once again with 85 laps remaining. Edwards would hold the lead through several late race restarts to earn the win. The victory virtually ensures his place in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Series Championship.

Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota from the fourth position and was able to remain inside the top ten through the first third of the race. Hamlin, who had suffered some right front damage to his FedEx Camry during Saturday’s practice session, would find the situation aggravated after contact with the 44 car on pit road. He would bring the 11 car back down pit road for additional repairs which forced him to restart outside the top 20 just prior to the 200 lap mark. The FedEx crew would make additional repairs under the next caution on lap 222 and Hamlin would restart as the last car on the lead lap in 30th on lap 227. Hamlin was running 24th at lap 250 and was back inside the top 20 by lap 325. A pit road penalty for improper fueling would add to the setbacks and Hamlin would restart 20th on lap 345. A flat right front tire would send the FedEx Camry into the outside wall with 90 laps remaining. Hamlin was able to come down pit road under caution for repairs, but would restart a lap down on lap 415. He would go on to finish 20th.

Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the second position but was able to make the pass of his teammate Edwards for the lead on lap 36. Kenseth would lead 142 laps before a blown right front tire sent him into the outside wall. The Dollar General crew would make the necessary repairs on pit road allowing him to remain on the lead lap and restart just outside the top 20. He would restart 20th on lap 227 and was up to 15th by lap 240 and 14th at the halfway point. Kenseth would work his way back inside the top ten and was back inside the top five by lap 300. He was running third when another blown right front tire would force him into the outside wall once again on lap 323. This time the damage was too great to fix on pit road and the Dollar General team would have to take it to the garage for repair. He would make it back out to finish the race but was 40 laps down to the leaders and would go on to finish 36th.

Busch started the No. 18 M&M’S 75th Anniversary Toyota from the fifth position and was able to race his way up to third over the course of the opening green flag run. Unfortunately the M&M’S Camry would blow a right front tire resulting in contact with the outside wall to bring out the day’s first caution on lap 50. The crew would keep the 18 on the lead lap and Busch slowly began to fight his way back to the front of the field. However contact from the 34 car on lap 117 would cause Busch to spin. He would keep the car out of any additional damage and was once again able to remain on the lead lap. Busch would start the comeback climbing his way back inside the top 20 and back into the top 10 by lap 170. In fact, he was running eighth on lap 175. Busch would face another setback when NASCAR ruled he was too fast on pit road. That sent the 18 to the back of the lead lap cars. Once again Busch would fight back however and he was back inside the top 15 to restart 13th on lap 227. After an eventful first half of the race Busch was running 10th at lap 250. Just 10 laps later Busch would blow another right front tire and this time his hit to the outside wall would cause major damage. Despite the team’s best effort to recover from the setbacks his day would be over and he would officially be scored 38th.

Edwards captured the win, followed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in second, Kurt Busch third, Chase Elliott fourth and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top five. There were 15 cautions for a total of 102 laps and 16 lead changes among seven different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Richmond International Raceway next Sunday for an afternoon race. Live coverage on Fox will start Sunday, April 24 at 12:30 PM (race starts at 1 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.

Cody Coughlin Scores Huge Home State Victory at Toledo

Cody Coughlin returned home to Ohio and returned to victory lane in the same day. The Joe Gibbs Racing Development Driver started third in the 7-Up 100 Saturday for the ARCA / CRA Super Series at Toledo Speedway and won the race in convincing fashion while driving the Team JEGS No. 1 Toyota Camry.

“This feels great, especially because we struggled at the beginning of the year,” said the 20 year-old Coughlin. “We made a change and brought Jack (Smith) in to be the crew chief. He and Kevin Hamlin have really clicked so well. They gave me a great race car and that makes my job easier for sure.”

Coughlin did his job to the best of his abilities Saturday afternoon. He fell back to fourth in the early stages of the race, but he stayed patient. The Delaware, Ohio native worked his way back into third and then set his sights on the top-two drivers.

When the leaders encountered lapped traffic, Coughlin pounced. He made an aggressive three-wide move in turn four to take over second place.

“You have to be careful on your tires at this place,” explained Coughlin, who is also racing part-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. “When you do get an opportunity to take a spot, you have to take it and that’s what I did with that aggressive move.”

Coughlin took the lead off of turn two with 35 laps to go and started to drive away until a crash brought out the red flag with about 28 laps to go.

After the lengthy cleanup, Coughlin was able to drive away from the field on the restart to claim the checkered flag at Toledo in just his second race with his new crew chief.

Kyle Busch Sweeps Texas!

Kyle Busch swept back to back weekends with a win in tonight’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The race was delayed nearly two hours by rain but once it started Carl Edwards proved to have the dominate car early leading 124 laps. He would have to battle back from a loose wheel at the end to finish seventh. A loose wheel would also impact Matt Kenseth, who lost a certain top ten finish but still managed to take the checkered flag in 11th. Denny Hamlin also raced inside the top ten much of the night before finishing 12th.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota from the 15th position and was able to drive his way into the top ten prior to a lap 30 competition caution. A traffic jam leaving pit road would result in contact by the 48 car to the right rear bumper of the Interstate Batteries Camry. Although the contact wasn’t severe it appeared to affect the handling on Busch’s car as he battled tight handling over the course of the next run. He would run fifth following a round of green flag pit stops on lap 74 and was seventh once the field cycled through a round of stops on lap 113. Despite running well, Crew chief Adam Stevens made the call for bigger changes to help the handling on the Interstate Batteries Toyota and Busch would restart fourth on lap 222. He was up to third with 100 laps to go and managed to move into second just a few laps later. He would line up fourth on a restart with 42 laps remaining and after a big multi-car wreck behind him he was able to restart second with 33 laps remaining. Busch would go to the lead following the restart and held on to the finish to claim the win. It is Busch’s second win in a row in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after winning at Martinsville last week and he has now swept the previous four national NASCAR touring series races to include the Truck Series in Martinsville last week and XFINITY Series here in Texas last night.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 STANLEY Toyota on the pole position and held that top spot for the opening 59 laps of the race. Edwards would drop to third following a round of green flag pit stops on lap 74, but raced his way back into second which is where he ran at lap 100. He would run third once the field cycled through on the next round of green flag pit stops on lap 113. A caution would bring the leaders down pit road on lap 137 and the STANLEY crew would put Edwards back out as the leader for the restart. Edwards would pit under caution and lined up second behind his teammate Kenseth for a restart on lap 222. A loose wheel would cause him to drop back and return to pit road for fresh tires resulting in the No. 19 Camry falling a lap down in 19th position. Edwards would get back on the lead lap for a restart with 50 laps remaining. Another restart with 42 laps to go would lead to a big wreck and Edwards would have to come to a complete stop to avoid the multi-car accident. He would line up seventh for a restart with 33 to go and managed to hold that position to the finish.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the ninth position and was able to hold a spot in the top ten through the opening green flag run prior to the competition caution on lap 30. The Dollar General crew would put Kenseth out fifth for the restart and he was able to drive his way up to third by lap 50. Kenseth would lead a lap during the day’s first round of green flag pit stops and was running fifth once the field cycled through. He was running fourth at lap 100 and went to second during a round of green flag pit stops on lap 113. He would restart second to his teammate Edwards following a round of stops under caution on lap 137. Kenseth would report that his Camry had turned extremely loose on the next run and he would drop back outside the top five. Kenseth would come down for a green flag pit stop just prior to a caution. He would remain out when the leaders came down pit road allowing him to restart as the leader no lap 222. Kenseth would hold the top spot for the next 19 laps before giving way to the 78. He would drop back to run fourth on the next run before caution brought the leaders back down pit road. The Dollar General Camry was third off pit road but the left rear tire was loose forcing Kenseth back down pit road. That put him back to 13th for the restart with 50 laps remaining. He would restart again from 13th with 33 laps to go and managed to gain two spots to finish 11th.

Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota from the sixth position and raced inside the top ten prior to a competition caution on lap 30. Hamlin would slow to avoid a traffic jam exiting pit road causing him to restart in 11th. He would battle tight handling conditions on his FedEx Camry over the course of the next green flag run but was able to re-enter the top ten following the night’s first round of green flag stops on lap 74. Hamlin was up to ninth following the next round of green flag pit stops on lap 113 and that is where he continued to run with 100 laps to go. Hamlin would line up seventh for a restart with 42 laps to go. Hamlin would avoid a multi-car wreck following the restart and lined up fourth for another restart with 33 laps remaining. He would have to check up on the restart causing him to lose his momentum and dropping him back to ninth. He would go on to finish 12th.

Kyle Busch captured the win, followed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in second, Joey Logano third, Jimmie Johnson fourth and Chase Elliott rounded out the top five. There were seven cautions for a total of 41 laps and 17 lead changes among eight different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to short track confines of Bristol Motor Speedway next Sunday. Live coverage on Fox will start Sunday, April 17 at Noon (race starts at 1 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.