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INDIANAPOLIS – Kevin Harvick turned up the heat on Denny Hamlin late in the Brickyard 400.
INDIANAPOLIS – NASCAR’s extravagant weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – where the back-and-forth battle between Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin should continue – has been rocked by its first driver testing positive for the coronavirus.
Weather washed out qualifying for NASCAR’s first stop this season at a short track and Martin Truex Jr. will start Sunday from the pole at Martinsville Speedway. There was no qualifying session because of a wintry mix that moved through the Virginia area and halted the Truck Series race after just 23 laps. Truex is the defending Cup Series champion and is coming off his first victory of the season last week in California. He led both of Saturday’s practice sessions.
Jimmie Johnson’s start to the NASCAR season is not worthy of a seven-time champion. How bad is it? He has just one top-10 finish in five races and goes to Martinsville Speedway mired in a career-worst 28-race losing streak. But Johnson can take heart in this: He has nine victories at Martinsville, most among active drivers, and despite his slump must be considered a favorite for Sunday’s race at the Virginia short track.
Martin Truex Jr. won the pole for the NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday at ISM Raceway. The defending series champion turned a lap at 136.945 mph in the No. 78 Toyota. Kyle Larson was second and Chase Elliott was third.
Kevin Harvick has been stripped of the playoff points he earned for winning at Las Vegas because of a violation discovered on his Ford. NASCAR ruled Wednesday that Harvick’s car violated the rule requiring rear window support braces holding the rear window glass rigid, as well as a rule requiring the right side rocker panel extension to be aluminum. The penalty is the loss of the seven playoff points Harvick earned for winning Sunday’s race.
Ryan Blaney has won the pole for the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup race in Las Vegas. Blaney earned his third career pole with a lap at 191.489 mph in his Team Penske Ford at a windy Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Kevin Harvick kept up his outstanding start to the season and secured a front-row Ford lockout with a second-place finish in qualifying.
Kyle Busch won the pole for the second race of the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup season, edging Ryan Newman in a close battle at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Rookie Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., who finished second last week in the Daytona 500, is still in the spotlight after he qualified 19th.
The oldest driver in the Daytona 500 is truly a race veteran. Mark Thompson did a tour of duty in Vietnam that wrapped up two decades before he made his NASCAR debut. The 66-year-old Thompson is old enough to be a grandfather to a nice chunk of the Daytona 500 field. He says it will be his final race in any series.
Never before has one race displayed NASCAR’s rapidly changing look more than this year’s Daytona 500. Three drivers under age 25 start in the first two rows. New rules have made the cars difficult to drive. And NASCAR’s longtime most popular driver will watch from the sidelines. Roger Penske has three cars capable of winning. Chase Elliott, meanwhile, would be thrilled to score his first career Cup victory in the Daytona 500.
Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and seven other teams are switching to backup cars for the Daytona 500. All of the teams sustained damaged in qualifying races Thursday. The group includes Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron, 2012 Cup champion Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, Aric Almirola, Matt DiBenedetto and David Gilliland. NASCAR also says Johnson, Keselowski, Almirola and DiBenedetto will swap engines.
Dale Earnhardt ended a 0-for-19 streak in the Daytona 500 in 1998. The 46-year-old Earnhardt was the sentimental choice and finally won “The Great American Race” in his 20th try. It’s a NASCAR moment that has stood the test of time. The victory includes a lucky penny and a pit-road processional never before seen in auto racing.
Danica Patrick’s NASCAR success never matched the attention she received for standing out in a male-dominated sport. But her six-year stint in the Cup Series seemingly set the groundwork for other women to follow. ARCA Series driver Natalie Decker the next wave of young women is coming. “They’re coming up and they’re going to be here faster than you know it.” It might not be in time to avoid having an all-male Cup lineup in 2019.
Peyton Manning is leading one more drive on a huge stage. The two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback will serve as honorary pace car driver for the 60th running of the Daytona 500. Manning will be behind the wheel of the Toyota pace car and lead the 40-car field to the green flag to start “The Great American Race.” Manning joins a list of Daytona 500 celebrities that includes Academy Award winner Charlize Theron, retired NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. and country-music group Rascal Flatts.
Danica Patrick has arrived at Daytona International Speedway to begin preparations for her final NASCAR race. She will run the Feb. 18 season-opening Daytona 500 and then turn her focus to the Indianapolis 500. She will retire as a driver after the “Danica Double.” Patrick is expected to be the center of attention at Daytona and expects new boyfriend Aaron Rodgers to attend the race.
The NASCAR season begins with Martin Truex Jr. reigning and the Cup Series rebuilding. Truex returns to the No. 78 Toyota at Daytona this week and will race in an exhibition all-star event Sunday. It will be the first look at Truex since he manhandled the competition most of last year. It also will be the first event without Dale Earnhardt Jr., the latest star to retire and leave the top series to deal with an identity crisis that comes in the midst of more sponsorship woes.
Martin Truex Jr. was the fastest of the four NASCAR Cup series championship contenders in qualifying and starts second in Sunday’s finale. Denny Hamlin stole the pole from Truex on the last lap of qualifying
Danica Patrick plans to run two races next year and then end her full-time racing career. She plans to run the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500. She is calling it the “Danica Double” and it gives her the chance to close her career at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Patrick is the only woman to lead laps in both the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500.
Aric Almirola has been officially named Danica Patrick’s replacement at Stewart-Haas Racing. The move was expected after Smithfield Foods moved its sponsorship from Richard Petty Motorsports to SHR for 2018.
Joey Logano’s crew chief has taken blame for not pitting Logano with a tire rub. The call may have cost Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski a spot in NASCAR’s championship. Logano was third with 12 laps remaining in Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway when contact with Kyle Busch created a tire rub on Logano’s car. Keselowski was leading and seemed to have the victory in hand. A win would have earned Keselowski a slot in the season finale championship race.