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Race Report: Kansas

Joe Gibbs Racing had a strong showing in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 from Kansas Speedway, but it would end with frustration, when Matt Kenseth was hit from behind while leading with just three laps remaining. Kenseth would be left to finish back in 14th, while his three teammates all earned top ten finishes. Denny Hamlin would lead JGR with a second-place finish, while Kyle Busch was fifth and Carl Edwards eighth.

This was the second 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 next week’s race at Talladega. Today’s finish leaves Hamlin as the leader in points behind Joey Logano, who won both of the races to open this round of the Chase and thus is the only driver entering Talladega assured of advancing into the round of eight. Hamlin is 18 points in front of the ninth place, while Edwards is currently fourth in the point standings and 12 points in front of ninth. Busch is in the ninth position, but just six points out of eighth.

Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota in the fifth position but dropped back to run eighth prior to the first round of pit stops. He would restart ninth on lap 39 and fell back outside the top ten on the ensuing green flag run. The handling of his FedEx Camry would need adjustments and the No. 11 team would take the time to make those during the second round of stops. Hamlin would drop back to run just inside the top 20. However the adjustments appeared to work as he began to drive back toward the front of the field. He was back inside the top ten by the halfway point and battled there the remainder of the race. Hamlin would re-enter the top five and a great pit stop put him on the second row for a restart on lap 248. He would line up second for a green-white-checkered restart but was unable to get past the 22 car over the final two laps and settled for a strong second-place run.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 M&M’S Halloween Toyota in the third position and dropped back to run seventh prior to the first caution of the race. He would restart eighth on lap 39. Busch would drop outside the top ten on the next green flag run, but crew chief Adam Stevens would make the call for the necessary adjustments to help the M&M’S Camry turn better in the corners. He would re-enter the top ten by lap 90 and remained in the top ten the remainder of the afternoon. Busch would manage to drive his way to a fifth-place finish.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 Sport Clips Toyota in the second position but fell back to run fifth prior to the first caution of the afternoon. He would restart third on lap 39 following the first round of pit stops. The No. 19 Camry would struggle to find the proper handling on the difficult mile and a half track in Kansas and Edwards would find himself outside the top ten. He would continue to battle however and managed to work his way back toward the front. He would manage to lead twice on the afternoon during rounds of green flag pit stops and patiently worked his way back toward the top ten. Edwards would go on to earn an eighth-place finish.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the 11th position but quickly advanced into the top ten. He would enter the top five for a lap 39 restart following the first round of pit stops. He would hold steady inside the top five for the rest of the afternoon. In fact, Kenseth dominated much of the race, taking his first lead of the afternoon on lap 72. He would lead a race-high seven times for 153 total laps. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff would bring the Dollar General Camry down pit road for a final time following a lap 244 caution and he would restart second behind the 48, who made the call to remain out on the track. Kenseth immediately took the lead once again on the restart and was working hard to hold off the 22 car of Logano. Unfortunately as the two approached lapped traffic with three laps remaining, the 22 made contact with the left rear corner of the No. 20 and sent Kenseth spinning down the track. He would bring the car down pit road for four fresh tires, but had to restart 15th. Despite a strong performance throughout the afternoon he would go on to finish 14th.

Joey Logano captured the win, followed by Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five. There were seven cautions for a total of 39 laps and 21 lead changes among nine different drivers. The race was extended two laps for a green-white-checkered finish.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continues the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship next weekend in Talladega. NBCSN will provide live broadcast coverage of the race starting at 2:30 PM ET (race begins at 2:45 PM ET) on Sunday, October 25.

Cody Coughlin Scores Strong Second-Place Finish in Winchester 400

At the end of 400 laps around the 37-degree banking of Indiana’s Winchester Speedway, Cody Coughlin crossed the finish line in the second-place spot after a hard-fought race from his fifth-place starting spot.

Coughlin and the team stuck to their game-plan throughout the race. Nick Easton devised a strategy for survival and it worked. That strategy saw Coughlin battle for the lead and run a little further back to conserve his car for the entire distance.

The 19-year-old Delaware, Ohio driver ran in the second-place spot early in the afternoon as he tried to chase down leader Christopher Bell. Coughlin dropped back a few spots as he started to save his equipment for the latter stages of the marathon event.

As he worked his way back through the field in his Team JEGS Toyota, Coughlin brought his machine down pit road under caution. The car shut off and had to be pushed to be re-fired, but Coughlin didn’t lose too many spots.

Coughlin muscled his way back through the field and moved back into second. He put pressure on Erik Jones for the win, but the rising stars of our sport would finish in that order.

“I’m pretty happy overall,” said Coughlin. “Obviously I’d really like to be celebrating a win right now, but this is still a good day. I’m really happy with our pit stops today. My crew chief (Nick Easton) had a great strategy for today. My spotter (Scott Wimmer) did a great job in my ear today, and Kevin (Hamlin, Team Manager) and Dave (Holt, crew-member) helped guide this team to a shot at the victory.

“I’m just so thankful for a day like today. I’ve got so much love and support from my mom and dad (Di and John) and I’m so thankful that our good Lord gave us a safe race.”

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.