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Race Report: Charlotte

Rain at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night forced NASCAR to postpone the Bank of America 500 to Sunday afternoon. Denny Hamlin would lead Joe Gibbs Racing with a fourth-place finish, while Carl Edwards was sixth and separate accidents left Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth to finish 20th and 42nd respectively.

This was the first race of the Contender Round of 12 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. The current field of 12 will be reduced to just eight following the next two races at Kansas and Talladega. Today’s finish leaves Hamlin in the fourth position in points, while Edwards is now sixth. Busch is in the 10th position just 10 points out of eighth, while Kenseth is 12th and 32 points back of eighth.

Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota in the fifth position and was consistently inside the top ten all afternoon. He was running seventh at lap 100 and restarted sixth on a lap 173 restart. Hamlin would patiently work his way inside the top five and was running fourth for a lap 200 restart. He would manage to hold that fourth position all the way to the finish and is now fourth in the point standings just eight points out of the top position.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 STANLEY Toyota in the eighth position and battled some tight handling conditions in the early going. Track position would prove vital this afternoon and Edwards was running 13th at lap 100. He would have the opportunity to lead a lap during a round of green flag stops on lap 127 and then battled his way back into the top ten for a restart on lap 173. Edwards would remain in the top ten the remainder of the afternoon. He would restart fifth on lap 200 and went on to battle to a sixth-place finish.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 M&M’S/Project Pink Toyota in the second position and was able to lead the opening four laps before giving way to his teammate and pole sitter for the race, Matt Kenseth. Busch was fast throughout the first half of the race and appeared set to contend for a win. The M&M’S Camry remained in the top five and Busch was third when a caution came out on lap 195 for oil on the track. Pit road would open on lap 196 and Busch would make a move to make it appear that he was heading to pit road. When he went to come back up on the track before the commitment cone however, he would make contact with the 42 car, which was trying to make the opposite move and come onto pit road at the last second. Busch would bring his M&M’S/Project Pink Toyota down pit road for repairs and when the race restarted he was back in the pack running 22nd. With track position so important on the mile and a half track in Charlotte he would struggle to make up ground and contact with the wall would force him back down pit road for additional repairs. This time Busch would lose a lap to the leaders. He would go on to finish one lap down in 20th position.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the pole and was fast from the outset as he led all but four of the opening 76 laps. He would give up the lead to pit on lap 77 and the team made the call for a four-tire stop that pushed the 20 car outside the top ten with several other leaders taking only two tires or remaining out on the track. Kenseth would make contact with the 31 car on the ensuing restart dropping him further back in the running order. His day would only get worse from that point as he fell back outside the top 20. Fighting to regain a spot in the top 10 he would restart 13th on lap 205, but contact again with the 31 sent him hard into the wall and this time he would need extensive repairs. He would fall three laps down. The final blow would occur on lap 239 however when he would hit the outside wall hard causing severe damage to the right side of the Dollar General Camry. The team would not be able to repair the damage and his day was over. Kenseth was officially scored in 42nd.

Joey Logano captured the win, followed by Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Jr., Hamlin and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five. There were nine cautions for a total of 44 laps and 14 lead changes among 10 different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continues the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship next weekend in Kansas. NBC will provide live broadcast coverage of the race starting at 2 PM ET (race begins at 2:15 PM ET) on Sunday, October 18.

Race Report: Dover International Raceway

Joe Gibbs Racing left today’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway with all four teams secured into the Contender Round of 12 in The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.

Kyle Busch led JGR with a second-place finish this afternoon, while Matt Kenseth was seventh, Carl Edwards 15th and Denny Hamlin was 18th.

Hamlin and Kenseth entered today’s race as the only two guaranteed to advance from the round of 16 to the round of 12 courtesy of their respective wins in the first two races of this round. Edwards and Busch locked in their positions with today’s respective finishes. The field now resets with all 12 remaining contenders equal in points. The field will be reduced to eight after the next three races which are Charlotte, Kansas, and Talladega.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota in 13th position and patiently worked his way into the top ten as his Camry appeared to improve with each lap of a green flag run. Solid work on pit road following a lap-41 caution and a great restart allowed Busch to enter the top five. He was running second at lap 100. Busch would have his Interstate Batteries Camry holding steady in second at the halfway point and crew chief Adam Stevens would make the call for a two-tire stop on pit road that allowed the 18 car to take his first lead of the afternoon for a lap 236 restart. Busch would hold the lead for 12 laps following the restart before giving way to the 4 car. He managed to hold onto the second position despite a rather long green flag run on those two tires. A caution with 46 laps to go would bring the 18 back down pit road for a four-tire change. He would restart fifth with 41 laps remaining. Busch would gain a spot into fourth on the next run and held that spot through another restart with 24 laps remaining. The Interstate Batteries Camry would gain another spot into second on the ensuing restart and held that position to the end. His second-place finish secured his position into the Contender Round of the Chase. It turned out that every position was vital as the 88 and 1 cars finished directly behind Busch in third and fourth with the 88 advancing and 1 narrowly missing out.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the pole position after heavy rains washed out Friday’s qualifying session and the field was set based upon the current point standings. Kenseth would lead the opening 23 laps before giving way to the 4 car. He would maintain a spot in the top five on the next green flag run and was running fourth at lap 100. Kenseth would report that his Dollar General Camry’s handling would struggle when he got up behind other cars and limited his ability to make his way to the front. He would run sixth at the halfway point and following a round of pit stops he would restart eighth with 84 laps to go. Kenseth would move into sixth following the restart. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff would make the call keep the 20 on the track when a caution came out with 46 laps remaining. He would restart first with 41 laps remaining. Kenseth would get loose at the drop of the green flag and dropped back to run third before another caution. He would drop back to run fifth on the ensuing restart with 24 laps to go and went on to finish seventh.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota in the third position and proved to have good speed through the early portion of the race as he maintained a position in the top five. He would run fifth at lap 100. Edwards continued to show speed throughout the afternoon and was running third at the halfway mark. He would come out of the pits in the third position with just under 90 laps remaining, but was forced to bring the car back down pit road after reporting an issue on the right front of the car. He would come out of the pits running 16th for the restart with just over 80 laps to go. A caution with 46 laps remaining would bring Edwards back down pit road and he would line up 15th for the restart with 41 laps remaining. Another caution would follow and Edwards came back down pit road and lined up 11th for another restart. He would go on to finish 15th.

Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota in the second position and was fast through the early going as he maintained a spot in the top five before a competition caution on lap 41. The FedEx crew would deliver a quick first pit stop that allowed Hamlin to come out as the leader, but NASCAR ruled he was too fast on pit road. The penalty put the No. 11 Camry at the tail end of the field for the ensuing restart. Trapped behind lapped cars and having to navigate slower traffic allowed the leader to put the 11 a lap down on the long green flag run that followed. Hamlin would work to get into the lucky dog position in order to get back on the lead lap and following a great pit stop it appeared he would have that opportunity, but was unfortunately hit with yet another speeding penalty knocking him out of the lucky dog position. Hamlin would finally get back into the lucky dog position and back on the lead lap when a caution came out with just over 25 laps to go. He would go on to finish 18th.

Harvick captured the win, followed by Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jamie McMurray and Aric Almirola then rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 43 laps and 14 lead changes among three different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continues the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship next weekend in Charlotte with the opening race of the Contender Round of 12. NBCSN will provide live broadcast coverage of the race starting at 7 PM ET (race begins at 7:15 PM ET) on Saturday, October 10.

Cody Coughlin Continues to be Consistent in Indy

Cody Coughlin is one of the most consistent Super Late Model drivers in the country. The 19 year-old proved that Sunday at Lucas Oil Raceway, just outside Indianapolis, IN, by scoring his fifth-straight top 10 finish in that style of racing.

Coughlin started third, finished fifth and led a bunch of laps as well in the Fall Brawl, 100-lap race for the ARCA / CRA Super Series at LOR.

The Delaware, OH native charged to the lead a the onset of the race. Then Coughlin and veteran Brian Campbell waged war for the top spot for several laps. As the race progressed, the handling on the no. 1 JEGS.com Toyota Camry went away. The end result was a fifth place finish, his fourth top-5 and sixth top-10 finish in seven Super Late Model races this year.

“We got to lead some laps which was nice,” said Coughlin. “We’ve certainly have a lot of top fives; now we just need to find a way to contend for wins. I know we’re capable of that because we’ve done it plenty of times in the past. We’re right there. We just need a little more. The car was just a little too loose be able to keep the lead.

“My team and my family work so hard for me,” he added. “It’s always great to have my mom (Di) and dad (John) with me at the race track. They’ve shown me so much support since I decided I wanted to do this. Without them, and the good Lord that has blessed us with so much, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Coughlin will now take on his favorite track on the Midwest Super Late Model circuit, Winchester Speedway. The teenager has seen plenty of success on the 37-degree high-banks of the famed track. He finished a strong third during the race there on Labor Day weekend and won the event the prior year. In fact, if it were not for cut tires, Coughlin was in contention for the victory in the famed Winchester 400 last year as well.

“We’ll move on from today and get ready for Winchester. I know that my crew chief, Nick (Easton), Scott (Wimmer, spotter) Kevin (Hamlin, team manager) and Dave (Holt, crew member) will all work extremely hard to give me a chance to win the Winchester 400 in two weeks.

“That’s a marquee race,” continued Coughlin. “It’s one that we always mark on our calendars. It’s safe to say that there will be a lot of good cars there, but we can certainly be thrown into the mix. I definitely think we’ll contend for the win.”

For more information on Cody Coughlin and Team JEGS, visit www.teamjegs.com and follow Cody on Twitter, @Cody_Coughlin. Follow Team JEGS on Twitter, @TeamJEGS, and “Like” JEGS Performance on Facebook.

Matt Kenseth Wins at New Hampshire!

Matt Kenseth kept Joe Gibbs Racing’s momentum rolling in a positive direction with a win today in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Three JGR teams earned a spot in the top five with Denny Hamlin just behind his teammate in second and Carl Edwards in fifth, while an accident left Kyle Busch to finish back in 37th.

The win automatically advances Kenseth into the second round of the Chase with his teammate Hamlin, who won the opening round of the Chase last week in Chicago. Regardless of their finishes next week at Dover, both Kenseth and Hamlin will advance to the Contender round of 12. Edwards is currently third in the point standings behind only his two race-winning teammates. Busch, is currently 13th in points, but only one point out of 12th and two points out of 11th heading into Dover.

Today’s win continued JGR’s recent dominance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The organization has now won the last four Sprint Cup Series race and 10 of the last 13.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the 13th position but quickly raced into the top 10. Kenseth patiently moved his way to the front of the field throughout the first half of the race and was running third at the halfway mark. He would take his first lead of the day on lap 194 and crew chief Jason Ratcliff would make the call to remain out on the track following a lap 211 caution to regain his position at the front of the field. He would eventually give way to his teammate in the 11 car on lap 219 and when a final caution came out on lap 239 the Dollar General Camry would make its way back down pit road for tires and fuel. That proved to be a tremendous call as Kenseth restarted in the 11th position but was able to make his way back to the front of the field. He would manage to pass his teammate Hamlin for second with the laps winding down and pushed the leader in the 4 car hard in hopes of making him use up any remaining fuel. That strategy worked to perfection when the 4 car ran out of gas with three laps to go. Kenseth quickly moved to the front for a final time earning his fifth win of the season and automatically earning his position in the Contender Round of 12.

Hamlin qualified his No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota in seventh position and ran consistently in the top ten throughout the first half of the race. Hamlin would lead for the first time on lap 219 and held the lead for the next 21 laps before a caution came out on lap 239. Short on fuel to make it to the end, crew chief Dave Rogers would call for Hamlin to come to pit road for a final time. That decision paid off as Hamlin restarted in 10th, but had the car and fresher tires to make a run back to the front. He would get as high as second before his teammate Kenseth made the pass to put him back in third with the laps winding down. Hamlin would hold third until three laps to go when the 4 car ran out of gas from the lead. That allowed the FedEx Camry to claim an impressive second-place run.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 Sport Clips Toyota on the pole and led the opening 19 laps before giving way to the 4 car on lap 20. The Sport Clips Camry would come out fifth following the first round of stops after taking four tires. Edwards would drop back to run 10th over the next portion of the race. The 19 team would suffer a penalty on pit road on lap 160 when NASCAR ruled that equipment had left the pit box area. That caused Edwards to have to serve a stop and go penalty and he would drop back to run 25th. However the 19 team would rebound once again and Edwards was back in the top ten. He would run seventh over the course of the final run of the afternoon and then gained a couple additional spots when other leaders ran out of fuel before the checkered flag. He would earn his eighth top-five finish of the season.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 Pedigree Toyota in 17th but quickly moved his way toward the top ten and was running 12th just five laps into the race. Busch was solidly into the top ten through the halfway point of the race when he suddenly lost his right front tire on lap 160 sending him hard into the outside wall resulting in severe damage to the right side of his Camry. Busch would somehow manage to drive the car to the garage and the Pedigree team did amazing work to get the 18 back on the track just 36 laps later. That proved important as Busch returned to the track in 40th but managed to gain three additional spots to finish 37th. Despite the setback today, Busch is just one point behind 12th and two points out of 11th place in the standings heading into Dover next week. Only the top 12 teams in points will advance into the Contender Round after Dover.

Kenseth captured the win, followed by Hamlin, Joey Logano, Greg Biffle and Edwards then rounded out the top five. There were nine cautions for a total of 41 laps and 16 lead changes among seven different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continues the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship next weekend in Dover, DE. NBCSN will provide live broadcast coverage of the race starting at 2 PM ET (race begins at 3 PM ET) on Sunday, October 4.

Denny Hamlin wins at Chicago!

Joe Gibbs Racing opened the Chase for the Sprint Cup Series Championship in the same way it concluded the NASCAR regular season: with a trip to victory lane. This time it was Denny Hamlin’s turn to claim the checkered flag in today’s MyAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. All three JGR teams would join their teammate in the top ten today with Carl Edwards claiming second, Matt Kenseth fifth and Kyle Busch, who led a race-high 121 laps, finished ninth.

The win automatically advances Hamlin into the second round of the Chase regardless of his finishes the next two weeks in New Hampshire and Dover. With today’s results, JGR now holds the top four spots in the standings, with Kenseth the current leader among Chase contenders, while Hamlin is second, Edwards third and Busch fourth.

Today’s win continued JGR’s recent dominance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The organization has now won the last three Sprint Cup Series race and nine of the last 12.

With qualifying rained out the field was set based on Friday’s first practice times. That left Hamlin to start his No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota back in 29th and he would face adversity right from the beginning when he spun on the bottom of the track on just the second lap of the day. Hamlin would fall a lap down after making a trip down pit road for four fresh tires. A lap 124 caution would allow Hamlin to use the wave around to get back on the lead lap and then another quick caution on lap 130 would allow him to hit pit road again for fresh tires. From there he would drive his way to the front of the field. He would lead for the first time on lap 240 but it was a final restart with five laps to go that Hamlin made his move for the win. Despite remaining out on the track following a caution and restarting third on older tires than many of the other leaders, Hamlin was able to drive his way to the front and held on for the final few laps for the win.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 STANLEY Toyota in the 14th position. A pit road speeding penalty on lap 52 would force Edwards to serve a pass through penalty on lap 56 and eventually it would cause the 19 to go a lap down to the leaders. Fortunately a lap 124 caution would fall just at the right time and Edwards was able to use the wave around to get back on the lead lap after the leaders hit pit road. Another quick caution on lap 130 would allow Edwards to hit road once again for fresh tires. He would restart in 14th on lap 134. From there the No. 19 STANLEY Toyota began his climb back toward the front of the field as he entered the top ten. He would take his only lead of the day on lap 188 for six laps before a caution brought him down pit road once again. A late caution would leave Edwards to restart seventh with five laps remaining. Fighting for every spot in the Chase, the restart was aggressive up front and Edwards was able to go low and make it stick for an impressive second-place finish.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the 12th position and would spend much of the afternoon battling tight-handling conditions as he raced just inside the top 15 for much of the afternoon. Kenseth would manage to battle all afternoon to keep his spot on the lead lap while crew chief Jason Ratcliff and the Dollar General team made adjustments to help improve the handle on the No. 20 Camry. Kenseth would restart for a final time with five laps to go in the 13th position and managed to make it stick on the bottom of the track as he drove his way into the top ten and secured an impressive fifth-place finish.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Crispy Toyota in seventh and quickly advanced toward the front of the field taking his first lead of the day on lap 46. He would manage to hold that lead for the majority of the next 125 laps. He would lead four different times on the afternoon for a race-high 121 laps. The M&M’s Crispy Toyota would become tight and Busch would drop to third late in the race. A caution with eight laps to go would bring the No. 18 Camry back down pit road for four fresh tires and he would line up fifth for a final restart behind several cars that made the decision to remain out on the track under the caution. Aggressive racing at the front of the field would leave Busch in a four-wide situation following the restart and he would make contact with the outside wall. Busch was able to race to the finish but had to take care to do so and the result was a solid ninth-place run.

Hamlin captured the win, followed by Edwards, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, and Kenseth out the top five. There were six cautions for a total of 28 laps and 17 lead changes among 10 different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continue the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship next weekend in New Hampshire. NBCSN will provide live broadcast coverage of the race starting at 2 PM ET (race begins at 2:15 PM ET) on Sunday, September 27.