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Glad That's Over, Dover

Kyle Busch led Joe Gibbs Racing with a fourth-place finish in today’s FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway, while Denny Hamlin finished 16th and an early spin relegated Joey Logano to 27th place.

The track known as the “Monster Mile” was certainly hard to tame today with heavy rain overnight and early in the morning taking the rubber off the concrete oval and a mix of sun and clouds adding to the challenges for teams trying to dial in the proper balance and handle on their cars.

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With qualifying rained out on Saturday, Busch’s practice time would have given the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota the seventh starting position for the green flag to start today’s race, but an engine change on Friday would force him to the back of the field. The setback hardly appeared to deter Busch and his M&Ms crew however as he began his drive toward the front of the field. An early two-tire call allowed Busch to leap inside the top 20 and amazingly the M&Ms Camry would take over the 12th position by lap 131. Busch would enter the top ten just before the midpoint of the race and spend most of the second half of the race in that position. He would climb into the top five late in the race with a great pit stop and excellent restart. When it was over Busch had earned a solid fourth-place finish despite having to overcome the last-place start.

Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Ground/Autism Speaks Toyota in the 25th position and battled changing handling conditions throughout the race. Hamlin would race his way into the top 20 early, but wasn’t able to continue the climb as he sat outside the top 10 for most of the race. Unfortunately despite several attempts from his FedEx crew to improve the handle on his FedEx Ground Camry, Hamlin just couldn’t find the balance he needed on the very slippery concrete oval in Dover. He would have to settle for a 16th-place finish.

Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the fourth position today at Dover and was hopeful for a solid top-five finish with an opportunity to compete for victory, especially following an impressive third-place finish in last year’s fall race at the “Monster Mile.” Unfortunately, the Monster would take a bite out of his Home Depot Camry early when he brought out the first caution of the day with a spin on lap 20. What made the accident even more unfortunate is that Logano appeared to have a strong car through the early going as he drove into fourth place through the early laps. But damage to the right front fender from the spin would force him to pit road for repairs and leave him a lap off the pace. Logano would later lose another lap to the field during a long green flag run as the damage adjusted the handle on the car and the splitter was making contact with the track. Logano and the Home Depot team fought throughout the day to make the car as good as it could be despite the early setback, but unfortunately they were never able to make up the lost ground and were forced to settle for a disappointing 27th-place finish.

Matt Kenseth captured the victory, while Mark Martin finished second, Marcos Ambrose was third, Busch was fourth and Brian Vickers rounded out the top five. There were six cautions for a total of 28 laps and 23 lead changes among 11 different drivers over the course of the 400-lap race.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series comes to Charlotte next weekend with the annual All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The All-Star Race, which is a non-points race, will be televised live by SPEED on Saturday, May 21 starting with the twin Showdown races for the final qualifying spots at 7 PM ET.

Monster Mash

The Monster Mile in Dover, DE took a bite out of all three Joe Gibbs Racing car on Saturday afternoon. Wet weather threatened to postpone the event, but after several track-drying operations the full distance (and then some) was able to be run. Brian Scott lost control of his No. 11 Shore Lodge Toyota early in the event and hit the inside retaining wall on the front stretch which running in the Top-10. After extensive repairs, he was able to return to the track. However, Brian eventually retired from the event in 30th position.

Joey Logano and Kyle Busch proved to be stiff competition for the other leaders throughout the race, consistently running in the Top-5. Busch would have to make a long pit stop after receiving damage to the No. 18 MAC Tools Toyota from an accordion-style incident while entering pit road. Meanwhile, Logano would battle for the lead with Carl Edwards for much of the race. A late race incident set up the second of two Green-White-Checkered finishes and saw Logano restart 2nd and Busch 6th. Off of turn for, coming to take the white flag, Logano and Edwards were side by side when Edwards’ car started to lose rear grip exiting the turn. His car slid up the track near Logano’s left-rear quarter panel. As Logano described, the front splitter from Edwards’ car packed air under the back of the No. 20 GameStop Toyota, creating an ‘aero-loose’ situation. Logano’s car veered into the outside wall, bounced off of it, and back into traffic where the No. 33 made contact and launched into the air. Busch received heavy damage while trying to avoid the mayhem. All drivers walked away from the incident without injury. Logano would end up 13th, and Busch amazingly limped home in 2nd.

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Southern 500 Recap & Photos

Race recap coming soon.  In the meantime, enjoy these photos from the Southern 500 weekend.

It was yet another eventful night on the challenging track of Darlington Raceway and when it was all over Denny Hamlin would lead Joe Gibbs Racing with a sixth place finish, while Kyle Busch crossed the line in 11th and an accident left Joey Logano in 35th.

Hamlin entered the night seeking to defend his victory from a year ago at the famed track known by many as the Lady in Black. Hamlin started his No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota in the third position after a strong qualifying effort on Friday evening. He would battle tight conditions through much of the first half of the race while racing just inside the top ten. Crew chief Mike Ford would call for changes each time down pit road and his No. 11 Camry began to free up in the corners. The team would take a bigger swing at adjustments on lap 231 and although the stop under caution would cause Hamlin to lose some track position the adjustments appeared to work and it didn’t take long for him to race his way back into the top ten. With about 100 laps remaining Hamlin would report that the car was tight, but conditions were consistent. The team made a decision to come down pit road for fresh tires when a late caution came out and Hamlin managed to race his way to a sixth-place finish. It was Hamlin’s second straight top ten finish after his second-place effort last week in Richmond.

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Busch started the No. 18 Doublemint Toyota in the 14th position but quickly proved to have one of the strongest cars in the field. He climbed into the top-10 by lap 10 and made his way into the top-five by lap 34. He would assume the lead for the first time on lap 125 following a tremendous pit stop by his Doublemint crew and spend the remainder of the first half of the race in the lead position. Unfortunately shortly after lap 200, Busch would radio in to crew chief Dave Rogers to report a vibration in his right rear tire. He would bring his No. 18 Camry down pit road on lap 207 four fresh tires, but the unscheduled stop would cause him to lose a lap to the field. Patience would be the key from there and a caution on lap 238 would give Busch the Lucky Dog and put him back on the lead lap. Busch would restart 21st on lap 242 and drive his way up into 13th by the time the next caution came on lap 281. As the race neared completion it appeared Busch would have the opportunity to earn a remarkable comeback and a top-five finish, but contact with No. 29 of Kevin Harvick forced him to come down pit road one final time for quick repairs of the damage and a new set of tires. The late loss of track position took Busch out of contention for a top-ten finish, although an impressive run over the two-lap green-white-checkered finish allowed him to salvage 11th place.

Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the 17th position and battled through the early going with changing track conditions that caused the handle on his car to move from tight to loose. Crew chief Greg Zipadelli and the Home Depot crew would make the necessary adjustments to improve the handle on the car and Logano would drive into the top ten by lap 215. Pit strategy would put Logano back in 15th place and while racing his way back into the top ten on lap 238 he would get into the side of the No. 9 car forcing him to spin across the track and into the inside retaining wall. The damage to the No. 20 Camry would be significant causing Logano to pull into the garage for repairs. By the time the crew could make the necessary repairs Logano would finish himself some 40 laps off the pace. He would go on to finish the night 35th.

Regan Smith captured his first career victory, while Carl Edwards finished second, Brad Keselowski was third, Kasey Kahne was fourth and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five. There were 11 cautions for a total of 46 laps and 21 lead changes among 12 different drivers over the course of the 370-lap race, which was extended three laps for a green-white-checkered finish.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Dover next Sunday. The FedEx 400 to benefit Autism Speaks in Dover will begin at 1 PM ET with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at Noon ET.

Kyle Busch Tames Darlington!

Kyle Busch moved within two victories of claiming the All-Time Winningest Driver record in the NASCAR Nationwide Series on Friday night by winning the 200-mile race at Darlington Raceway! Denny Hamlin finished second, bringing home a Joe Gibbs Racing 1-2. Brian Scott was involved in a mid-race incident not of his own doing while running in 9th. The violent wreck ended his night, but Brian was able to walk away uninjured.

Enjoy these photos from the event:

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Kyle Busch Wins at Richmond! JGR Sweeps Weekend

Joe Gibbs Racing continued its dominance at Richmond International Raceway tonight with Kyle Busch capturing his second victory of the season, followed closely by Denny Hamlin in second and Joey Logano in 11th.

Click Here to view photos from Richmond

Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Pretzel Candies Toyota in the 20th position and proved strong from the outset once again on the Virginia short track, wasting very little time making his way toward the front. Busch would enter the top ten by lap 31 and was inside the top five just thirty laps later. He was running second when he entered the pits for the first time and great work by the M&Ms crew on the green flag stop gave Busch his first lead on lap 91 once everyone had cycled through the stops. He would swap the top spot several times with his teammate as the race progressed but it was obvious throughout the night that he and his teammate Hamlin were the class of the field as the two battled back and forth at the front of the pack. The night’s final restart would come on lap 313 and an impressive move by Busch to the outside sent him to the front of the field one final time. From there he was able to extend his lead and conserve just enough fuel to capture the checkered flag. It was another dominating performance for Busch and JGR as he would lead a race-high four times for 235 laps en route to victory.

Hamlin entered the night seeking a weekend sweep after winning his own Late Model charity race Thursday night and then dominating the NASCAR Nationwide Series in the No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota on Friday. Hamlin wasted no time moving to the front of the field after starting the No. 11 FedEx Freight in the 11th position. He would move into the top five within the first 50 laps and claimed the top spot on lap 73. Although Hamlin would drop back into the fourth position following the race’s first round of green flag pit stops, he managed to settle into the second position behind his teammate Busch through the midpoint of the race. He would retake the top spot on lap 274. Pit sequences would shuffle the field a bit, but it never took long for Hamlin to weave his way back to the front. Hamlin would settle in behind Busch on what turned out to be the final restart of the night on lap 313 and as the two weaved their way through lapped traffic he was unable to challenge his teammate for the win. The FedEx team would settle for an impressive second-place finish after leading three times for a total of 38 laps.

Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the ninth position and struggled through the early portion of the race to find the proper handle on the car. With few cautions in the first half of the race there was limited time for The Home Depot crew to work on the car. Adjustments by the team at the midpoint of the race made The Home Depot Camry handle better on both the entry and exit of the turns, but he was still unable to drive forward through the field. Logano was running 18th on lap 255 when Jimmie Johnson slid up the track and spun his No. 20 Camry. It took four trips down pit road and outstanding work by the team, but Logano was able to remain on lead lap to restart in the 21st position. A series of cautions allowed the team to continue to work on the handle of his Camry, but a big accident in front of Logano with 100 laps remaining would cause a little further damage despite an impressive display of skills that kept the No. 20 clear of anything major that might have ended his night early. The perseverance shown by The Home Depot crew would pay off as the No. 20 was at its best on the race’s final run to earn an 11th-place finish.

Kasey Kahne finished third behind Busch and Hamlin, while David Ragan was fourth and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 60 laps and 14 lead changes among 10 different drivers over the course of the 400-lap race.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Darlington next Saturday night. The race in Darlington will begin at 7:30 PM ET with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 7 PM ET.

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