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Race Report: Daytona

Rain delayed the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 for 3 ½ hours, but the green flag for the start of the race managed to drop at Daytona International Speedway a little before midnight creating an exciting late-night battle on the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

When it finally ended in thrilling fashion just before 3 AM ET it was Denny Hamlin leading Joe Gibbs Racing with a third-place finish despite being turned from behind and setting off a massive wreck at the finish line. Both Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth would be collected in the wreck after recovering from earlier incidents and finished 17th and 23rd respectively. Meanwhile Carl Edwards was collected in an earlier accident and had his night ended early to finish 41st.

Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota from the 35th position and was up to 22nd when the first caution of the night came out for a wreck on lap 4. He would connect with his teammate Matt Kenseth to run in the top five prior to a competition on lap 27. The two would work together well on the ensuing green flag run to remain in the top five. Hamlin would take his first lead of the night on lap 55 and then returned to run point on lap 94. He would continue to run at the front of the field all night and restarted third for a green-white-checker finish. Hamlin positioned himself behind the leader on the final lap but the 88 managed to block him to the finish line. As the field approached the finish line the 4 car hit Hamlin from behind setting off a massive chain reaction that collected nearly every car in the top 30. Fortunately everyone appeared okay and Hamlin would be scored in third.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 Interstate All Battery Center Toyota from the 13th position and was content running toward the middle of the pack through the opening laps of the race. He was running near the top 10 while racing the high line when his No. 18 Camry got loose and hit hard into the outside wall. Unfortunately for Busch and the Interstate Batteries team a caution was not called and he would have to drive to pit road for repairs under the green flag. He would go two laps down while the team made the necessary repairs prior to a competition caution on lap 27. With no cars a lap down and as the only car two laps off the pace Busch would get one of his laps back courtesy the lucky dog when that competition caution was displayed. He would get another lucky dog designation when another caution came out on lap 54 and that would put him on the lead lap. Crew chief Adam Stevens and Interstate Batteries crew would continue to make repairs on his car at every opportunity while managing to maintain his position on the lead lap. Incredibly after 12 trips down pit road on the night the 18 team would manage to work their way back into the main pack to race to the finish. Busch would finish 17th despite being collected in the massive wreck at the finish. He is currently 37th in the point standings, 128 points out of 30th.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 DEWALT Made in the USA Toyota in the 19th and would connect with teammate Denny Hamlin just prior to a lap 27 competition caution to make a run to the top five. The two would continue to work together on the next green flag run to remain in the top five. Kenseth would lead his first lap on lap 79 as he moved into the high line and carried the momentum to the front. He would make a four-tire change on the next stop under caution giving up some of his track position, but he was quickly back into the top five by lap 100. Unfortunately Kenseth would be involved in the race’s next “big one.” The 5 car would take the air off his left rear bumper and although the two cars never made contact, the air was enough to cause the 20 to spin. He would go a lap down while the DEWALT crew made the necessary repairs, but Kenseth earned the lucky dog to get back on the lead lap following a caution with 30 laps remaining. He was back in the top 20 with 20 laps to go. He would race in the main pack to the finish but like nearly everyone in the top 30 he was collected in the final wreck. Kenseth would finish 23rd.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 Subway Toyota 24th but as often the case with superspeedway racing track position can change rapidly and he was seventh when a caution came out early for the night’s first wreck on lap 4. He would race in the top 10 over the next two green flag runs. He was running 13th on lap 54 when he would get loose while running in the middle of the pack and spin down the track. Edwards nearly managed to keep his Subway Camry off the wall, but the rear of his car would hit the inside wall causing damage that required repairs on pit road. He would fall a lap down but a quick caution following the ensuing restart would give him his lap right back courtesy of the lucky dog designation. Edwards was racing patiently in the middle of the pack when the 42 got loose on lap 86 and spun up the track and into the Subway Camry. That set off a chain of events that pushed Edwards into the outside wall and then his No. 19 Toyota was hit from behind and lifted off the ground momentarily. The damage would be too severe to continue and his night was over early. He would be scored in 41st.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. captured the win and was followed by Jimmie Johnson, Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five. There were nine cautions on the night for a total of 43 laps and 22 lead changes among 12 different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Kentucky Speedway next Saturday night. NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will provide live coverage starting at 7 PM ET (race scheduled to start at 7:45 PM ET).

Kyle Busch Wins Sonoma!

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Kyle Busch continued his incredible comeback from an early season injury with an impressive victory in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. The win is crucial to Busch’s hopes of qualifying for the Chase for the NASCAR Championship. He now has the necessary victory and will be seeking a spot in the top-30 over the final 10 races leading up to the Chase field being set. He is currently 37th in the standings and 136 points out of first.

Meanwhile teammates Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth finished 18th and 21st respectively, while an accident left Carl Edwards back in 40th.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Crispy Toyota from the 11th position and was able to work his way to the front for his first lead of the day on lap 28. He would lead the next 12 laps. He would eventually relinquish the lead but the 18 team would continue to run inside the top five for much of the afternoon. Busch would run third with 25 laps to go and move into second with 22 laps remaining. The 15 car would get around the M&Ms Crispy Camry with 16 laps remaining to drop the 18 back to third once again. A caution with 12 laps remaining would create a strategic decision for every team on the lead lap. Crew chief Adam Stevens would make the call for a four-tire pit stop and Busch lined up seventh for the restart with seven laps to go. He would jump to fourth on the opening lap of the restart and was second with six to go with only the 48 to catch. Busch would do that with five laps remaining and then held off his brother in the 41 car as well as Clint Bowyer in the 15 to earn the win.

Denny Hamlin, started 15th and had to make an unscheduled pit stop early on lap 17 for a suspected tire issue on his No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota. That would put him towards the back of the field and he would run 39th for a restart on lap 33 following a red flag caution. Hamlin was hoping to make a comeback after that setback and raced his way back inside the top 30 by lap 40. With different pit strategies playing out on the track the No. 11 FedEx Camry would try to gain crucial track position but with 25 laps left he was back in 26th once again. He was 21st when a caution came out with 12 laps remaining. He would come to pit road for fresh tires and restarted 22nd with seven laps to go. He would finish 18th.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the third position and would drop back to run seventh after the opening 15 laps of this afternoon’s race. A problem with his left rear tire would send him back down pit road for an unscheduled stop on lap 44 dropping Kenseth a lap down in 41st position. The Dollar General team would continue to battle and Kenseth would work his way back to the lead lap and was racing back inside the top 30 by lap 85. He was running 26th when a caution came out with 12 laps left. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff would make the call for Kenseth to remain out on the track instead of pitting and that allowed him to line up fifth for the restart with seven laps to go. He would get contact on the restart causing him to fall back out of the top ten and without fresh tires he drop back to finish 21st.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 STANLEY Toyota 14th and was able to drive his way toward the top ten through the early going. With several pit strategies at play the 19 car’s track position would change several times throughout the course of the afternoon, but he was seventh on a restart with 31 laps remaining. Unfortunately trouble would hit Edwards as he raced on the inside of the 55 car during the restart when the two came together while trying to navigate the esses on the road course. The two cars slid off the track together and hit hard into a concrete barrier. The damage sent Edwards to the garage and his day was over. He would finish 40th.

Kyle Busch captured the win and was followed by Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano rounded out the top five. There were five cautions on the afternoon for a total of 21 laps and nine lead changes among five different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will return to Daytona International Speedway next Sunday, July 5. It will be the first race for NBC Sports, which will handle the broadcast duties for the remainder of the 2015 NASCAR season. The Coke Zero 400 will begin Sunday, July 5 with pre-race coverage on NBC starting at 7 PM ET.

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Race Report: Chicagoland XFINITY Series

Daniel Suarez

Rain pushed Saturday night’s Owens Corning AttiCat 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series event to Sunday morning, but not even Mother Nature could keep Daniel Suárez from recording his fifth top-10 finish of the 2015 season. The 23-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing rookie drove his No. 18 ARRIS Toyota Camry to a career-best finish at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, on an afternoon that saw him battle back from a near collision on pit road and lead the field for one lap.

Looking to bounce back from disappointing finishes his last two races – 19th at Dover International Speedway and 20th at Michigan International Speedway – Suárez began Sunday’s event from the seventh spot on the starting grid after another strong showing in Coors Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday. As soon as the green flag flew to start the event, the Monterrey, Mexico, driver was hard at work trying to improve his position. Through the first 25 laps, Suárez tried driving the same racing lines as the fastest cars on the track, but informed his team that his Camry felt too loose to run up top.

Crew Chief Eric Phillips decided to make some adjustments to the No. 18 ARRIS Toyota when it came down pit road during the competition caution on Lap 25 for Sunoco fuel and four Goodyear tires, giving his young driver a tighter machine for the Lap 31 restart. The adjustments paid off quickly for Suárez as he moved up from the 10th spot on the restart to eighth within one lap. As the green-flag laps piled up, Suárez continued his assault on the race leaders. He made his way to the sixth spot by Lap 73, and on Lap 77, as the leaders began to pit under green-flag conditions, the young driver found himself in the top spot for his first lap led in his last three starts.

Suárez faced his first challenge of the afternoon on Lap 78. As he brought his Camry down pit road under green, the NASCAR Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next program alum had to slam on the breaks in order to avoid a collision on pit road. The delay dropped Suárez to the 19th spot after the pit stop for fresh tires and fuel. After a caution on Lap 96, the rookie brought his No. 18 ARRIS Toyota back down pit road on Lap 100 for another adjustment, a fresh set of Goodyear tires and Sunoco fuel.

With 97 laps remaining after the Lap 103 restart, veteran spotter Chris Osborne told Suárez it was time to begin making his move and the driver wasted no time in getting to work. He moved up to the 12th spot by Lap 105. By Lap 110, Suárez was back in the top 10 and looking to keeping advancing. He was in the sixth spot when he brought his Camry down pit road on Lap 150 for what would turn out to be the final pit stop of the afternoon. After stopping for fresh tires and fuel, Suárez and the rest of the leaders were penalized for pitting while pit road was closed. That, however, did not stop the rookie from his quest to record a good result in the event. He battled back from the setback, running as high as sixth with 10 laps remaining, before ultimately settling for a sixth-place finish, his fifth top five of the season.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones won the Owens Corning AttiCat 300, his second NASCAR XFINITY Series checkered flag of the season. It was also the eighth top-10 series finish for the 19-year-old and came less than 48 hours after he won the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway. Ryan Blaney crossed the finish line 1.958 seconds behind Jones for his third top five in five starts this year. Austin Dillon finished third, followed by Brendan Gaughan and series’ points leader Chris Buescher. The event was slowed by seven cautions for 39 laps and saw 23 lead changes among 11 drivers.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series will have a week off before returning to action on July 4 for the Subway Firecracker 250 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway. Suárez and the No. 18 ARRIS Toyota Camry Joe Gibbs Racing team will look for the sixth top-10 finish of the season when the series visits the 2.5-mile superspeedway for the second time this year. Coverage begins at 7:30 pm ET on NBC Sports Network.

Daniel Suárez’s Post-Race Thoughts:
How was your race?

“It was a hard-fought top-10 finish in today’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race. We had some trouble on pit road where there was almost a collision, but we were able to avoid it and fought hard to score a seventh-place result. Overall, it was an OK weekend. We didn’t have the result we wanted on Saturday in the ARCA Series event, but on Sunday we worked really hard during the race to get better and better as the race went on. We were very competitive today and spent most of the event in the top 10. We learned a lot today and we just have to take that to our next race in two weeks and keep working on being consistent and getting better. I can’t thank my crew, ARRIS, Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing enough for all the effort and support.”

Ross Kenseth

It was a special Father’s Day weekend for Matt Kenseth as his 22-year old son Ross Kenseth made his NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) debut at Chicagoland Speedway in the same No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry that his dad is known for. After two solid practice sessions, Ross scored the yellow and black Camry a front-row starting position for the Owens Corning AttiCat 300.

Shortly after the green flag waved, Ross told crew chief Mike Wheeler [Wheels] that his Camry was tight on throttle. NASCAR’s competition caution took place on lap 25 and Ross brought the Dollar General Camry down pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. On lap 76, the JGR crew made a green-flag pit stop for four tires, fuel and a small adjustment to give Ross more front grip through the corners. Shortly after rejoining the field, the yellow flag waved and the No. 20 car went a lap down. Fortunately, the lead-lap cars made their way to pit road, placing Ross in the 13th position after taking the wave around.

As another caution arose with 51 laps to go, the No. 20 Dollar General Camry was one of the fastest cars on the track. Wheels called Ross to pit road for a quick fuel-only pit stop and his strategy paid off when the No. 20 car rejoined the field as the leader. Soon after, however, chaos ensued as NASCAR ruled that pit road was not officially open, ultimately forcing 20+ cars to the back of the field after pitting too early. Despite the dismay, Ross restarted in 11th position and quickly worked his way back into the top 10.

With less that 25 laps remaining, strategy worked in the No. 20 team’s favor once again. When the caution flag waved, Wheels called Ross to pit road for four brand-new sticker tires, making the No. 20 Dollar General Camry the only car on the track with four fresh tires.

Restarting 15th after the final caution, Ross took advantage of his new tires and worked through the field like a true professional. The young rookie managed to gain nine spots in the final portion of the race, crossing the finish line in 6th position.

Ross Kenseth’s Post-Race Thoughts:
“This entire experience was great. I wanted that top-five finish so bad at the end, but sixth place is something we can all be proud of. Wheels, Chirs (Osborne, spotter) and the entire No. 20 team did a fantastic job all weekend. We battled a tight-handling Toyota Camry throughout the day, but Wheels made some positive adjustments and his strategy played out well at the end. I can’t thank everyone at Dollar General enough for this opportunity. To come out here on a one-off deal and get the results we did speaks wonders about our team. I hope we made everyone proud and I hope we get to do it again in the future.”

Erik Jones

NASCAR’s XFINITY Series entered week fourteen of the 2015 season at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday for the Owens Corning Atticat 300 race event. After celebrating Tuesday with his first ARCA Series win at Berlin Raceway in Michigan, Jones went to to win his first 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win on Friday night in Iowa then traveled to Joliet, Illinois to qualify and race with the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Although heavy rain postponed the event until Sunday morning, and with limited track time from only a few qualifying laps, Jones took charge of his destiny and from an 11th-place starting spot he turned today’s Chicagoland race start into his second-career XFINITY Series win – accomplishing a SWEEP of sorts winning three of three motorsports events entered consecutively in one race week.

Two drivers drove the No. 54 Monster Energy Camry this weekend, contributing to the team’s win. While Erik Jones was in Iowa competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Friday, fellow Joe Gibbs Racing driver Drew Herring practiced the Monster Energy Toyota in two Friday sessions. Ranked as high as third-quick on the speed chart, Herring and spotter confirmed “we’ve got ourselves one hell of a car.” After Jones completed the Truck Series race Friday night, by capturing his first Truck Series WIN of 2015, he flew to Chicago to debrief with the team about their fast Camry. In Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session on the two-mile oval, Jones quickly assimilated to the No. 54 car but determined a few adjustments would be needed once the race would start. Unfortunately, the race teams never had that opportunity to race Saturday night, as heavy thunderstorms rolled into the ‘windy city’ suburb of Joliet and caused the Chicagoland race to be postponed until Sunday morning.

Sunday’s start was only Jones’ 16th career XFINITY Series race over two seasons and his second attempt at Chicagoland Speedway where he achieved his first series start here one year ago. To date, as a part-time XFINITY series driver in 2015 Jones has now earned two wins, seven top-five finishes, eight top-10 finishes, three poles and 254 laps led. Jones currently averages a 4.5 start and 9.8 finish. While he runs a partial XFINITY Series schedule with Joe Gibbs Racing, Jones also competes full time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with team owner Kyle Busch and the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 4 Toyota team. During Friday night’s Iowa Speedway NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race action Jones earned his first season victory of the year in that series, one he has targeted to win the annual driver’s points championship in.

Finally able to hit the track Sunday morning, with clear skies overhead, everyone on the No. 54 team was excited for the race with Jones after coming off the Joe Gibbs Racing team’s first victory of the XFINITY Series season at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, one week before. While the Michigan victory came at the hand of veteran Monster Energy driver Kyle Busch, the team looked forward to and was confidant the young driver Busch had been mentoring, Jones, could achieve the same goal. At green-flag drop, Jones proved what many had seen, quickly making his way from 11th place at race start to second place by lap 24 when the field saw it’s first caution flag.

A visit to pit road included a small adjustment to the No. 54 Camry and service for fresh Goodyear tires and Sunoco Racing fuel. While Jones parked long in his pit box, there was difficulty maneuvering his pit road exit and Jones dropped to fifth place for race restart but didn’t stay there long. Jones reached the race lead at lap 39, what would ultimately contribute to his 3M Lap Leader Award at race end when he accomplished a race-high 94 laps led. Across five total pit road visits during the race, the team only made small adjustments back and forth, to maintain a good balance for Jones. At one point spotter Al Dirusso confirmed over the radio, “the only place they are making any ground on you Erik is the bottom of turn 3, everywhere else you are the best.” Jones would later reiterate, “my entry into turns 1-2 are so good right now, I have a lot of security in the car.”

The race didn’t come without hurdles, however, for the 19-year old XFINITY Series rookie. The most controversial moment occurred past the race halfway mark, when a yellow-flag caution waved and Jones, among most other competitors, brought his No. 54 Camry down pit road for service. NASCAR penalized the No. 54 team for visiting pit road when it wasn’t actually open, although there was a lot of ‘discussion’ by several teams to the contrary. Although the spotter heard from NASCAR “pit road open,” in the end NASCAR confirmed the red flag had not exhibited. So in fact 19 teams had incurred the penalty and would be placed further back in the field. While Jones was re-positioned into 9th place from the race lead, the setback didn’t deter him from working back towards the front. There were several on-track battles with fellow competitor Ryan Blaney in the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford. The No. 22 and No. 54 swapped lead positions several times through the race, including one pivotal swap at the end of the race, when Jones maneuvered past Blaney in the final eight laps of competition, allowing Jones to catch the checkered flag, a 1.98 second margin of victory.

Sunday’s XFINITY Series event recorded an average speed of 118.812mph and saw 23 lead changes across 11 drivers. There were seven caution periods over 39 laps of the 300-mile event.

With Sunday’s top-10 result the No. 54 Monster Energy team moves up to 8th-place in NASCAR’s Owner Championship Points Standings, now 88 markers behind the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford.

Next week the NASCAR XFINITY Series takes a hiatus then resumes competition on Saturday, July 4 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway which will be broadcast on NBC Sports at 7:30pm EST.

Erik’s Post-Race Thoughts:
“It’s pretty awesome to get this Monster Energy Toyota back to victory lane. It’s two weeks in a row for these guys. That’s three wins this week for me – that’s pretty awesome. It was a rough go for awhile, but we came back at it now. It’s just cool to be back here – thanks to Kyle Busch Motorsports for Friday, Joe Gibbs Racing for today and Port City Race Cars for Tuesday, XFINITY for doing this for us, the fans and – man, what a day, what a day. Thanks to Drew Herring who shook this thing down for us two days ago (in practice) and got it right and we took it to victory lane today. We’ll bask in this and take it in and get ready for the next one. Just an awesome week and I’m pretty proud of everyone involved.”

Chris Gayle (crew chief) Post-Race Thoughts:
“Two back to back victories is really cool, I think I talked last week about how this No. 54 team itself over the last couple of weeks is getting better. It’s assumed the No. 54 car will win with Kyle, and I understand that, Kyle’s great, there’s no comparison of him to most drivers out there. But that’s why I wanted to win one without Kyle to be able to say, guess what, the No. 54 can win with Kyle and without Kyle. It might win more with Kyle than some of the guys but Erik showed you today he can dominate the race and win with the same car.”

Race Report: Michigan International Speedway

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Rain played havoc with today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway causing several delays and contributing to an accident that took Kyle Busch out of the race early and left him to finish 43rd. When it finally ended it was Matt Kenseth leading Joe Gibbs Racing with a fourth-place finish, while Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards took the checkered flag in 11th and 12th respectively.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the 12th position but quickly jumped into the top ten and was running seventh just seven laps into the 400-mile race. The race would go through several delays and red flag stoppages for rain. Kenseth would restart third on lap 59. He would quickly pass his teammate Edwards for second shortly after the restart and proved to have one of the fastest cars on the track. He would take the lead on lap 84 during a round of green flag stops but settled back into second behind only the 4 car once again after the field cycled through. He would pit at lap 120 just before a caution and with the threat of rain once again upon the two-mile track. Kenseth would restart seventh and managed to gain three spots before the rain fell one final time on lap 138. He would finish fourth on the day.

Denny Hamlin, started the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota from the 13th position and would settle in to run 15th through the opening 10 laps of the race. The race would go through several delays and three separate red flag stoppages. Various pit strategies would leave Hamlin back outside the top 20 for a restart on lap 59. He would cycle back toward the top 10 but another four-tire stop put him back to 20th once again on lap 100. He would race 18th at lap 115. With rain threatening and a caution out many teams used a variety of pit strategies. Hamlin would run 12th when the race went back to green and would go on to finish 11th when the rain finally fell one final time on lap 138.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota in the fourth position but jumped right to the front to take the lead on the opening lap. He would momentarily give way to Kasey Kahne on the second lap but then settled in on the lead lap for the next 39 circuits around the two-mile speedway of Michigan. The race would go through several delays and three separate red flag stoppages. He would run second when the race went back to green on lap 59 following a big wreck by his teammate in the 18 car. He ran third at lap 100 but began to drop back a bit while dealing with loose handling conditions on his No. 19 Camry. With rain threatening once again crew chief Darian Grubb would ask Edwards to remain on the track following a caution for the 4 car. Unfortunately the rain would not come soon enough and Edwards was forced to bring his ARRIS Camry back down pit road for fuel before the restart. That restart proved to be a short one however as rain came once again and this time NASCAR would rule the race complete. The need for the final stop would leave Edwards just outside the top ten and he would be scored with a 12th-place finish.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Crispy Toyota from the 10th position and was running ninth when the opening caution for rain fell on lap 12. The race would get delayed multiple times with three red flag stoppages and many laps having to be run under caution. Busch came out of the pits on lap 45 running in the top five following a two-tire pit stop. Despite having to run several more caution laps during another brief bout of rain the green flag would drop again on lap 52. As the field raced off turn 4, Busch would get loose on what many reported to be a still damp track. The M&Ms Camry would slide up the track and hit hard into the outside SAFER barrier. The damage forced the 18 team the garage and he would finish in last place on the day.

Kurt Busch captured the rain shortened win and was followed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Martin Truex, Kenseth, and Joey Logano rounded out the top five. There were five cautions on the afternoon for a total of 38 laps and 17 lead changes among 11 different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take a week off before heading out west for the first road course test of the 2015 season at Sonoma (CA) Raceway on June 28. Fox Sports 1 will have live coverage starting at 3 PM ET.

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Fuel Pump Issue Starves Coughlin From a Strong Run in Irish Hills

Confidence was high at Michigan Int’l Speedway this weekend for Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Cody Coughlin. Coughlin was fast in “race-runs” during practice on Thursday and that led the Venturini Motorsports team to believe the 19 year-old had a great shot at victory when the Corrigan Oil 200 took the green flag Friday in Brooklyn, MI for the ARCA Racing Series. Unfortunately for Coughlin and the team, a fuel pump issue relegated the teen to a 14th place finish.

While charging to the front of the field, the issue began near the midpoint of the race. Coughlin was forced to relinquish his sixth place spot and make a pitstop for the team to change the fuel pump during a green flag run. The time to make the change put Coughlin seven laps down. It was the second time in as many days that the number-55 car suffered the same fuel pump problem.

“Things didn’t go as we’d hoped they would, but there were still positives,” said Coughlin, who has six top-10, and four top-five finishes with a pole award in the last eight ARCA races. “I learned a lot about how to run this race track and I should be better here the next time I come back. My spotter, Scott Wimmer, and I worked hard throughout the weekend and the race to learn the right line to take, as well as how to set someone up for a pass, which are both things that will help me in the future.”

After the pitstop, Coughlin continued to run hard for the remainder of Friday’s race to help his race team add to their notebook moving forward.

“My crew chief, Dave Leiner, said he gained a lot of information on this chassis and what to do when we get to Chicago next weekend, so I’m really happy about that,” Coughlin said.

Coughlin had his parents, John and Di, at the racetrack on Friday to cheer him on, as well as many friends and family since Michigan is only a few hours away from his hometown of Delaware, OH.

“I love racing in front of friends and family, but I just wish we could have had a better result,” said Coughlin. “But the big thing is the Lord kept us safe today. I’m fortunate to have people like Kevin Hamlin (Team Manager) and Dave Holt (crewmember), so now we’ll all move on to Chicago and look for a strong there.”

Coughlin finished fifth at Chicagoland Speedway in his one start at the 1.5-mile track last year, so now he’s hoping he can find similar success in the Windy City when the ARCA Racing Series visits it next Saturday, June 20th.

For more information on Cody Coughlin and Team JEGS, visit and follow Cody on Twitter, @cody_coughlin. You can also follow Team JEGS on Twitter, @TeamJEGS and “Like” < a href="" target="_blank">JEGS Performance on Facebook.