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Race Report: Sonoma

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The road course of Sonoma Raceway didn’t prove hospitable to Joe Gibbs Racing this afternoon with all three cars getting contact from other competitors to spoil any hopes of competing for a win. When the checkered flag waved Kyle Busch’s 25th-place finish led JGR, while Denny Hamlin was one spot behind in 26th and bad wreck left Matt Kenseth back in 42nd.

Busch qualified his No. 18 M&Ms Pretzel Toyota in the 20th position and battled tight handling conditions for much of the afternoon on the tricky road course. With various pit strategies at play throughout the afternoon Busch would ultimately fall a lap down but he got the lucky dog and was back on the lead lap for a restart on lap 75. From there the M&Ms Pretzel Camry patiently worked his way toward the front managing to climb all the way back into the top ten. Busch was battling for a top ten finish late when he was spun by the 41 car. He would recover to take the checkered flag but was left with a disappointing 25th-place finish.

Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota in the 16th position and like his teammates he would battle a race car that was tight through this 10-turn road course. Hamlin would come down pit road and benefited from a timely caution that helped his track position. The FedEx Freight Camry would line up sixth for a restart on lap 75. Hamlin would manage to maintain a position in the top ten despite running on older tires, but contact from behind by the 31 car would send the No. 11 Camry spinning. Hamlin was able to keep the car on the track, but the loss of track position late in the race proved costly and he would go on to finish 26th.

Kenseth started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in 14th and was able to battle through tight handling conditions to race for a spot in the top ten through the first half of the race. He was running 10th when a caution came out on lap 72. Kenseth brought his Dollar General Camry down pit road and with various pit stops at play he restarted 20th on lap 75. He was hit in the right rear by the No. 88 car sending him hard into the tire barrier and resulting in major damage to the front of his car. The damage to the Dollar General Camry would be too great for repairs and Kenseth’s afternoon was over. He would be scored in 42nd.

Carl Edwards won the race followed by Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jamie McMurray, and Paul Menard rounded out the top five. There were six cautions for a total of 19 laps and 11 lead changes among nine different drivers.

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Darrell Wallace, Jr. Wins Inaugural Drivin’ for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park

RACE: Drivin’ for Linemen 200
TRACK: Gateway Motorsports Park
DRIVER: Darrell Wallace, Jr.
TRUCK: No. 54 Made In America Toyota Tundra
START: 2nd
LAPS: 160/160
LAPS LED: 3 Times for 85 Laps
POINTS POSITION: 8th (43 points out of 1st)

Post-Race Highlights:

  • Darrell Wallace, Jr. and the No. 54 Made In America Toyota Tundra team earned their first win of the 2014 season Saturday night under the lights at Gateway Motorsports Park in the inaugural Drivin’ for Linemen 200.
  • Starting the race from the second position behind rookie Cole Custer, Wallace quickly took the lead on lap one and with a strong Toyota Tundra, led the next 62 laps before making a green-flag pit stop on lap 63. Giving up the lead to make a scheduled stop, Wallace entered pit road for a routine stop, but issues on pit road extended the stop and dropped the team through the field and ultimately, one lap down to the leaders. The caution was displayed immediately after Wallace’s pit stop for an on-track incident and the team made the decision to take the wave around and return to the lead lap. Wallace restarted the race on lap 72 from the 12th position.
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Matt Kenseth led Joe Gibbs Racing with a 14th-place finish in this afternoon’s Quicken Loans 400 from Michigan International Speedway. Meanwhile Denny Hamlin finished 29th and a broken left rear hub left Kyle Busch back in 41st.

Kenseth started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota 21st and was able to race his way into the top 15 where he spent much of the afternoon. With clean air so important on the two-mile track the Dollar General team would use various pit strategies in an attempt to put the No. 20 Camry up front with the leaders, but the cautions didn’t fall exactly as needed to allow Kenseth to remain in the top five. He would use fuel strategy late in the race to grab a brief lead as the field cycled through stops on laps 189 and 190, but Kenseth would have to come down pit road eventually for a final splash of gas to make it to the checkered flag. He would go on to finish in 14th.
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Race Report: Pocono

Denny Hamlin started on the pole and led Joe Gibbs Racing with a fourth-place finish in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway. Meanwhile an eventful day for his teammates left Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth to finish 12th and 26th respectively.

Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota on the pole after winning Friday’s knockout qualifying session. Unfortunately he wouldn’t have the opportunity to hold the early lead when the 2 car bumped him from behind and sent him up the track. Hamlin would recover however and remain in the top five through the early going. He would eventually take his first lead of the day on lap 59 and was able to battle in the top five much of the afternoon. Hamlin would restart fifth with 13 laps remaining and was able to gain an additional spot to finish fourth and give the FedEx team consecutive top-five finishes.
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Race Report: Dover

Matt Kenseth led Joe Gibbs Racing with a third-place finish in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway. Teammate Denny Hamlin joined Kenseth in the top five with a fifth-place finish while Kyle Busch was involved in an accident that left him in 42nd despite leading the first 81 laps of the race.

Kenseth started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota 21st, but proved strong from the outset as he drove his way into the top 10 by lap 60 and entered the top five by lap 80. The Dollar General Camry would take its first lead on lap 159 and Kenseth would lead five different times on this day including a 13 lap stretch just prior to the halfway mark. He would race the remainder of the afternoon inside the top five. Kenseth would restart on the outside of race leader Jimmie Johnson with four to go, but didn’t get the restart he hoped for and dropped back to third. He would hold that spot to the finish and the third-place effort makes Kenseth and the Dollar General team the current leaders in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.
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