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Zion Williamson / Courtesy SCPA News Exchange Gwinn Davis

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson / Courtesy SCPA News Exchange Gwinn Davis

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson / Courtesy SCPA News Exchange Gwinn Davis

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Spartanburg Day’s, Zion Williamson, continues to set, South Carolina High School basketball records.
GWINN DAVIS / SCPA News Exchange

Please remember to include the writer’s name and the name of the newspaper.

Zion Williamson / Photos Included, Courtesy, SCPA

Spartanburg Day’s Williamson Building Legacy

By Jacob Wilson

Record setting junior Zion Williamson and the Spartanburg Day School Griffins are in the hunt for a second consecutive South Carolina Independent School Association State Championship. 
Williamson, who needed just 34 points to grab the South Carolina High School single season scoring record, scored 38 points against Northside Christian Academy (Lexington, SC) at Sumter Civic Center in the South Carolina Independent School Association State Tournament last Saturday to set a new state high school record for scoring. 
The Griffins square off against Pee Dee in the second round of the Class 2A SCISA Tournament at Sumter Civic Center. With a victory, Spartanburg Day advances to a third round matchup on Thursday.
If the Griffins can collect a victory on Thursday, they will compete for the SCISA championship on Saturday at the Sumter Civic Center. Williamson led Spartanburg-Day to an 80-57 victory over Bethesda-Academy in last year’s title game. 
Williamson is looking to add another trophy to his long list of accomplishments. The junior chalked a record breaking 27th 30-point game of the season with his 37 point effort against Oakbrook Prep on Valentine’s Day. 
Denmark-Olar’s Larry Davis, who also held the single-season scoring record, chalked up 26 30-point games in 1991. 
“Zion is a basketball player that plays the game the right way,” said Spartanburg Day coach Lee Sartor. “Even though he can do some amazing things with the basketball, he shares the ball with his teammates.
He has a chance to do what a lot of us dream we could do. He understands that. He is a tremendous basketball player, but he is an even better person.”
“I have a strong love and passion for the game,” Williamson said. “I am just happy to be able to play basketball. 
I thank God for the athleticism that he gave me. I just love the game of basketball and love to make the crowd smile.”
The 6’7’’, 220 pound junior, who is currently ranked No. 2 overall in his class by ESPN, has chalked up ove gained national attention for his highlight reel dunks.  
NBA All-Stars like Jermaine O’Neal (Eau Claire), Ray Allen (Hillcrest), Kevin Garnett (Mauldin) , Alex English (Dreher), and Pete Maravich (D.W. Daniel) all played high school ball in South Carolina. 
However, those great players did not grow up in the era of social media or YouTube. 
“Social media has changed the whole feel of play,” said Williamson’s step-father Lee Anderson. “We purposely kept him out of major events.
He was in training and we knew that this day would eventually come. We saw kids that were ranked really high in the country his age. I told him that ‘You are better than these kids. When you get into ninth grade, we will show the world that you’re better than those kids.’”
Anderson said that Williamson showed out in a tournament in Atlanta the summer before his ninth grade year. 
“From that moment, his name has been in the spotlight,” Anderson said. “When we were growing up, we didn’t have social media. 
A reporter posted that he was the best ninth grader in the country. Social media has played a big role in getting his name out there.”
One of WIlliamson’s highlight clips has eclipsed the 1 million view mark. 
His Instagram account has exploded. In August of 2016, the junior had 3,500 followers. As of February 10, Williamson has over 235,000 followers. 
One of his followers Drake, Williamson’s favorite rapper, even sported a Spartanburg Day School number 12 jersey on instagram on January 15. Williamson has also received phone calls from several NBA players including James Harden and Dwight Howard. 
The junior also earned No. 1 in ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 Plays for his dunk on Friday, December 10 against Ben Lippen.
The junior’s meteoric rise to fame has been well documented. Williamson started working for this fame when he was five years old. 
“He came to me when he was five years old and told me that he wanted to play college basketball,” said Anderson, who played basketball at Clemson University. “I said son ‘I played at the Division 1 level and it is tough. If that is what you want to do, I will teach you how to play the game. But only if that is what you want to do.’ He said ‘Yes sir.’ “
“We would wake up at 5 am in the morning and go to the park,” Anderson said. “There were a couple of mornings where I’d get lazy and wouldn’t want to get up. 
He would be in my room at 5 am and say ‘Dad, I thought we were supposed to go to the gym.’ And I thought woah, this kid is serious. I realized at that time that he was serious so I needed to be serious.” 
Williamson spent his summers in the gym playing the game he loved.
“In the summer, he would be in the gym from 9 am to 5 pm,” said Anderson. “Every single day.” 
“Zion is a well-rounded player,” Sartor said. “He has worked hard on his strengths and weaknesses.”
With a rare combination of size and ball handling ability, Williamson has drawn interest from the national media, scouts, and the most prominent college coaches in the country. 
Two basketball hall of fame coaches Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski have made the trek from Chapel Hill and Durham, respectively, to see Williamson play live.
In a game against Shannon Forest on February 10, Williamson grabbed a steal, dribbled down the court, and nailed a reverse 360 dunk. 
“He has the size of a post player and the agility of a guard,” said Sartor. “That is just unusual. 
People are surprised that he is so big, strong, and quick and fast.”

Trent Owens Joins JTG Daugherty Racing To Serve As Crew Chief For Chris Buescher

By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

Trent Owens will call the shots atop the pit box for Chris Buescher and JTG Daugherty Racing’s No. 37 team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series during the 2017 season.

Owens began the new job on Monday, just two days before his 42nd birthday. He’s making the move to JTG Daugherty Racing after spending the last three seasons at Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM). The opportunity at JTG Daugherty Racing marks the Darlington, South Carolina native’s second opportunity in NASCAR’s premier series.

“I was just really looking for another opportunity to get back onto the pit box at the Cup level, and JTG (Daugherty Racing) expanded to a second team with Chris Buescher, and fortunately for me, they called,” Owens said. “I did the interview process, and I got the job and started yesterday. I’m really looking forward to getting in here and seeing what this place is about, learning their system, trying to adapt and then working with the alliance with Richard Childress Racing, which they have. Everything looks promising, and I’m ready to get to Daytona, but I’m probably going to do some preparation before we start that.”

Since 2014, Owens has served as the crew chief for Aric Almirola and Richard Petty Motorsports’ No 43 entry. Owens earned a win at Daytona International Speedway, as well as five top-five and 14 top-10 finishes while working with Almirola.

“I felt like when I started at RPM in ’14, we had an up and down season,” Owens said. “We did get the victory, and we had some great runs, but we didn’t have the consistency that we needed. Going into ’15, I felt like we gained and found that consistency and just had a really, really – if you look at the stats, a really solid season for the size of the race team that it is. Again in ’16, we decided to try and take more on our own and do our chassis. We just got a little behind, and we couldn’t really catch back up.”

Owens’ last race on top of the pit box during the 2016 season was at Richmond International Raceway’s Federated Auto Parts 400 in September. After capturing a 17th place finish in the last race before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Owens was replaced by Drew Blickensderfer. The team finished out the year 26th in the point standings. Back in December, Richard Petty Motorsports announced that the team was downsizing from a two-car team to just a single-car effort in 2017.

“When performance is down and things are suffering, I understand that my job position is one they take a look at, and the change happened, and it’s in the past,” Owens said. “I’ll take what I learned from that experience, which is a great experience, and take some of the mistakes that I feel like I may have made too and improve on that here at JTG and just move forward.”

On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, JTG Daugherty Racing announced that the single-car team would be adding an additional team with driver, Chris Buescher. The Texas native will be a teammate with AJ Allmendinger, who pilots the No. 47 Chevrolet. The good news for Owens and Buescher is that their new team will be using a charter that was vacated by Roush Fenway Racing’s (RFR) No. 16 team. That means JTG Daugherty Racing will have a guaranteed spot in every race this upcoming season for both of their teams.

“It always feels good to be guaranteed in the race,” Owens said. “That pressure having to qualify for these races at this level is pretty intense. I didn’t want to go through what those guys at the Wood Brothers (Racing) had to go through most of the time. It’s not always just about speed, you know rain-outs and so forth, and things like that can get you out of the race. Definitely having the charter is a plus. It’s just weight off your shoulders when you go to any race.”

Trent Owens has a lot to look forward to in 2017. Chris Buescher is coming off the best season of his career. The 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion earned his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win with Front Row Motorsports in 2016 during the rain-shortened Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway in August. The win and a top-30 spot in the standings following Richmond International Raceway’s September race, catapulted Buescher into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He finished out the year 16th in the point standings with a win, two top-five and two top-10 finishes.

“I’ve spent some time with Chris, just because we were somewhat allianced with the RFR organization,” Owens said. “I’ll spend a little bit more time with him, because he’s going to be my driver, but yea, I think he ran very well, probably better than some anticipated last year. I think that towards the end of the season, he drove as competitive as anyone. I think getting into these race cars, you know AJ and the 47 crowd, they had an excellent finish to the season and a lot of speed in their race cars. I think that Chris is going to really excel behind the seat, and I can’t wait to work with him and to work on these race cars.”

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

Joey Logano Joins Championship 4 With Phoenix Win; Kyle Busch Advances With Runner-Up Finish

By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

AVONDALE, Ariz. – In a wild NASCAR Overtime finish on Sunday, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch raced their way into the Championship 4 after claiming the top-two spots in the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Heading into this weekend’s race in Phoenix, the only drivers who knew they were going to compete for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway were Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards. As for the other six drivers remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, they’d have to race their way in on Sunday.

Matt Kenseth was about to seal the deal and race his way into the Chase, but with just two laps to go, Michael McDowell brought out the caution after blowing a tire and crashing in Turn 3. With the entire season on the line, the field restarted, and it was Kenseth hard into the outside wall in Turn 1 after contact with Alex Bowman. When the field dove into Turn 1, Kyle Busch got into the back of Bowman, sending him deeper into the first corner and into Kenseth.

After the race, Busch said, “I got a little bit better restart than the 88 (Alex Bowman) did and I felt like I had a run on him and had enough that I got to the inside and if he chopped me he was going to get wrecked and that’s what happened, but it carried on into the 20 (Matt Kenseth) and essentially I guess I wrecked a teammate. It’s so frustrating and aggravating and I feel horrible about it. It’s a shame to see it come down like that.”

At the time of entry into Turn 1, Kenseth’s spotter, Chris Osborne cleared Kenseth to move to the bottom, but with Bowman having the extra speed from the contact with Busch, the door closed very quickly. As a result, Kenseth went from possibly winning and advancing, to finishing 21st and losing out on the 2016 championship.

Kenseth said, “I don’t know, the 88 was laying way, way back for that restart, more than a car would so I got going early on purpose and I looked at him at the start-finish line and I thought we were doing okay and I looked back and it looked like he had a little run on me, maybe not and shortly thereafter Chris cleared me so with the glare I started looking to the corner to approach the corner and I got turned out of the way. He hollered ‘inside’ at the same time I got turned towards the fence so I really don’t know what happened. I was just going off the information I had to try to get the best corner I could and lead more laps.”

Following the race, Alex Bowman, who piloted the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS to a sixth place finish said, “Restarts with three to go at the Cup level. I mean, that’s what happens. We’re all here to win races and doing everything we can to win races. I don’t think Kyle wrecked Matt. I don’t think I wrecked Matt. I think the situation, it just all ‑‑ it all happened like that. It’s unfortunate. But I don’t think you can really place the blame on one person. It just sucks for Matt.

“I don’t know Matt. He’s probably really mad at me right now I’d imagine, but hopefully we can move past it and race clean at Homestead.”

On the final restart of the day, Kyle Busch lined up on the inside with Joey Logano on his outside. Logano was able to clear Busch as they entered Turn 1, and the driver of the Team Penske No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion never looked back to earn his third win of the season and his 17th career victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“This feels so good,” said Logano in Victory Lane. “I’ve never felt this good about a win before. There was so much on the line and everyone brings their A-game when it comes to winning championships and this team did it. Man, this feels so good. I had a good restart there at the end and holding off Kyle to try to get this thing into Miami. We’re racing for a championship now.  We did exactly what we had to do. We’ve got to go to Homestead and do the same thing. I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”

Kyle Busch had to hold off Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick, who was also trying to race his way into the Chase. The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry was able to do so and hold on for a solid runner-up finish. Busch will now head to Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend trying to defend the series championship. Last year, Busch won the season finale to earn his first series title.

“We haven’t showed our strength here in a few weeks, but we’ve showed consistency,” Busch said. “I’m hoping that this consistency is what shows our strength next week. We always talk about in this sport how top-10s lead to top-fives and top-fives lead to wins. Eventually we’re going to keep finishing in the top-five and we just had three top-fives in a row. It could be more than that, that’s what it was in this round – a fifth, a fifth and a second was as sporty as we could do and we move on. Hopefully Homestead is a little better.”

Joey Logano and Kyle Busch will now join Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards in the Championship 4. The drivers, who were eliminated from the Chase on Sunday were Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr.

As for Sunday’s finishing order, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 was Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Paul Menard.

Throughout the Can-Am 500, there were eight lead changes among five drivers. Bowman led a race high of 194 laps. Logano led the second most after being out in front of the field for 58 laps. The race also saw nine cautions for 53 laps.

The final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the 2016 season will be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, November 20. The Ford EcoBoost 400 will broadcast live on NBC and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2:30 p.m. ET.

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

Kyle Busch Dominates To Win At Phoenix; Sadler, Suarez, Allgaier And Jones Advance To Championship 4

By: Camille Jones/TheFourthTurn.com

AVONDALE, Ariz.– Kyle Busch claimed the victory in the Ticket Galaxy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night, and four drivers punched their ticket to the Championship 4 round of the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase.

Busch, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry, started on the pole for Saturday night’s 200-lap event and led 190 laps before capturing his 86th career series victory and 10th win of the season.

“It means a lot (to win). That’s what we set out to do tonight and we’ve been really fast here at Phoenix,” said Busch in Victory Lane. “We’ve had some great race cars and Chris Gayle (crew chief) and all these guys do such a great job each and every week preparing these things and it’s fun to win here. We appreciate XFINITY and everything that they do for the NASCAR Series here and all the fans and all their support, but this NOS Energy Drink Camry was awesome tonight. I mean, I just can’t say enough. We adjusted on it on some pit stops and tried to make it a little bit better there, but this Toyota Camry was really, really fast, so we didn’t have to do much to it and great Joe Gibbs Racing power under the hood.”

Austin Dillon finished in the second position in his No. 2 Rheem Chevrolet Camaro. He earned his 15th top-10 finish of the season and his seventh top-10 finish in nine races at Phoenix International Raceway.

While making his only start of the season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove his No. 60 SunnyD Ford Mustang to a third place finish. In seven races in the series at the one-mile oval, he has finished in the top-10 every time.

Having to give up position in the final laps as he battled to save fuel, Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 Suave Men Chevrolet, knew his only goal was to secure his spot in the Championship 4 round of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase. After successfully saving enough fuel to eventually finish in the fourth position, Allgaier became the highest-finishing Chase contender and will advance, where he will have the chance to race for a NASCAR XFINITY Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Joining Allgaier in his fight for the championship trophy will be the fifth place finisher on Saturday night, Daniel Suarez. Suarez, driver of the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota, carries two victories of the season with him into the series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and he currently leads the point standings.

“I think we can win for sure,” Suarez said. “We’re strong everywhere we go. We just need to be a little bit stronger. That’s it. This weekend we were good, but I feel like we were maybe one step behind in the last couple rounds. In the first part of the race, we were a little better. We go home, we learn from today and tonight and move to the next one.”

Also making it into the Championship 4 includes Erik Jones, driver of the No. 20 Hisense Toyota, who has four victories in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series. Jones finished in the 10th position on Saturday, but he looks to return to his winning ways in the most important race of the season.

“I like Homestead,” Jones said. “It’s nice. I have one race under my belt there in a XFINITY car there last year and I’ll take that hopefully into this race, so we’ll see how it all plays out, but it’s definitely a tough race. It’s a tough track running right up against the wall all night. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

The final spot in the Championship 4 was earned by Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 1 OneMain Chevrolet. Sadler was able to finish in the 13th position, enough to secure his spot in the Chase; However, following the race it was found that his crew did not have all of the lugnuts on his car secure. NASCAR followed up on the infraction with by suspending his crew chief for the final race of the season.

Failing to advance to the final round of the Chase were Blake Koch, Ryan Reed, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Brendan Gaughan.

Gaughan’s chances at racing for the championship were crushed on lap 136 when a tire blew out and his No. 62 South Point Chevrolet took a hard hit into the outside wall. Gaughan’s team was stretching his fuel to the end in the hopes of capturing the victory and move on to the final round of the Chase, but due to the tire failure, he will have to wait until the 2017 season to race for a series title.

Also suffering a similar fate, Darrell Wallace Jr., will not have a chance to race for the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship in his No. 6 Leidos Ford. On lap 150, Wallace went diving to the bottom lane beneath fellow Chase contender Blake Koch, who made a sudden dive to the inside and sent Wallace sailing into the inside wall on the frontstretch with a heavy impact. The red flag was waved for about 10 minutes and 34 seconds before the drivers fired up their cars again.

Wallace had been racing with a heavy heart after the loss of his grandmother earlier in the week and was emotional in his post-incident interview. Koch offered his genuine apology following the event, saying that he did not know Wallace had moved to the inside of his car.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series races into their final event of the 2016 season next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, November 19. The entire field will battle for the race victory, but only the Championship 4 will have a chance at taking home the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship trophy. Live race coverage will broadcast on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 3:30 p.m. ET.

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

Daniel Suarez Wins First Truck Race In Phoenix; Championship 4 Field Set For Homestead-Miami Speedway

By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Daniel Suarez won his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday night after taking the checkered flag in the Lucas Oil 150. The field for the Championship 4 was also set following Friday’s race.

Suarez only led 34 laps in his Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 ARRIS Toyota Tundra en route to the victory. Suarez now has five top-10 finishes this season. With the win, Toyota locked up the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series manufacturer’s championship. It’s the ninth title in 13 seasons for the manufacturer.

“I guess it was about time to get a little bit of luck,” Suarez said. “We had a lot of second-place finishes and this team, KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) works very hard. What a better way to clinch the Toyota manufacturer’s championship with this victory. I’m very proud of my team, proud of Toyota and proud to be a part of this family. Very proud to be talking to you right now.”

Pole-sitter William Byron looked as if he was going to run away for his seventh career win; however, his championship hopes went up in smoke after experiencing engine issues late in the race. The caution came out for Byron on lap 142. Byron led 112 laps throughout the race. With six wins, 10 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes this season, the driver of the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 9 Liberty University Toyota Tundra will not advance to the Championship 4 next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, due to the 27th place finish on Friday night in Phoenix.

Byron said, “We had been running hot a little bit the last run and kind of all night but it stayed within temp range and just started to vibrate maybe the lap before and I thought it was the tires and didn’t think it was a big deal, it just sputtered and had flames coming out the cowl right there. Just stinks for this team, they’ve worked so hard. It just happens I guess. Great Liberty University Tundra – thanks to all the guys at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports). We’ll go to Homestead and try to get a win.”

With a non-Chase driver winning the race and Byron having engine issues, the door opened for another driver to race their way into the Championship 4. Finishing second in Friday’s race was Johnny Sauter in the GMS Racing No 21 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet Silverado. He was already locked into the final round of the Chase after winning the two opening race of the Round of 6. Rounding out the top-three on Friday was Sauter’s former teammate, Matt Crafton, who raced his way into the Chase in the Lucas Oil 150. Crafton, the driver of the ThorSport Racing No. 88 Slim Jim/Menards Toyota Tundra will now enter the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway looking to battle for his fourth series championship.

“It should be good,” Crafton said. “I don’t have any pressure to be honest. I’ve won a couple of them and it feels good. We’ll just go there and have a shot at it. At the end of the day we had a little shot last year and we threw a Hail Mary and came up a little bit short and got in a wreck at the end. It’s straight up whoever wins, we’re taking off the gloves, I promise you that.”

Timothy Peters in the Red Horse Racing No. 17 Toyota Tundra will also compete for the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. Friday night’s fifth place finish marked his eighth top-five and 15th top-10 of the season. The 12-year series veteran has never won a championship. The closest that he came to the title was back in 2012, when he finished out the season in second.

Peters said, “Homestead has been a great track for me and we’ve been able to finish in the top-five the last three years there and I love that – worn out race track and ride right up by the fence and if that doesn’t work then you can go to the bottom. Just a lot of different characteristics of that race track that can help your balance and I’m ready.”

Christopher Bell will join Sauter, Crafton and Peters in the Championship 4 after crossing the finish line in the seventh position on Friday night. Bell has nine top-five finishes and 16 top-10 finishes in 2016. This season is only the first full-time effort for Bell, so next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the driver of the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 4 Toyota Tundra will be competing for his first series title.

“Obviously I don’t have the experience that these guys do, but I went to Homestead last year and I ran the whole race and I was able to get some seat time there compared to coming to a place like this where I don’t have any experience,” Bell said. “Homestead is a really neat place and really worn out and it’s really fun to race on. I’m really excited to get there and I know I’m going to have a really fast Tundra underneath me. It’s going to be fun to be able to race for a championship?”

Throughout the night on Friday, there were five lead changes among three drivers. There were also nine cautions for 49 laps.

The entire top-10 consisted of Daniel Suarez, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Cameron Hayley, Timothy Peters, John Hunter Nemechek, Christopher Bell, Matt Tifft , Ben Kennedy and Cole Custer.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season finale will be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday, November 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Live broadcast of the Ford EcoBoost 300 will air on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN).

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

Carl Edwards Wins Rain-Shortened AAA Texas 500 To Join Jimmie Johnson In Championship 4

By: Camille Jones/TheFourthTurn.com

FORT WORTH, Texas – Carl Edwards punched his ticket into the Championship 4 round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in the rain-shortened AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday night.

The scheduled day race was postponed to Sunday night after rain moved through the area just after pre-race ceremonies, forcing a lengthy delay for track drying. The planned 334-lap event saw all but 40 laps ran before rain entered the picture for a second time, and NASCAR made the call to end the event after bringing out the red flag.

Carl Edwards, the driver of the No. 19 Sport Clips Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing went into Sunday’s race with the mindset that he must win in the final two races of the Round of 8, or he would not have a spot in the Championship 4. Coming off of a 36th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway, Edwards was able to rebound as he went on to win his 28th career race and clinch his guaranteed ticket to race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. Edwards led only 36 laps throughout Sunday’s race.

“This is huge. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” said Edwards after capturing the win. “This is cool. This team is really worked hard all year and man it’s just really cool. That’s all we said we needed was a shot and now we’re going to go to Homestead and we’re going to do what we have to do. This was a great test. We came here and knew what we had to do, we performed the way we needed to and I really believe we can do that at Homestead.”

Joey Logano led 178 laps in his No. 22 AAA Ford at Texas Motor Speedway before having to settle for a second-place finish. Logano expressed his disappointment for not being able to capture the victory after the race.

“We had a good AAA Fusion that was capable of winning the race,” Logano said. “We just lost our track position on a green-flag cycle and got our balance off a little bit. We got it fixed and got it going and had a good restart at the end to get back to second but it seemed like we needed maybe five or 10 more laps to try to catch the 19 (car of Edwards) there. We were making up about three-tenths a lap when the caution came out. It is what it is. We are disappointed with second which is a good thing.”

Edwards trailed Martin Truex, Jr. before an 11-second pit stop propelled him to the lead. Truex Jr., who finished third in his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boat Toyota, led 66 laps, but was never able to recover the lost position on pit road.

“We battled hard, Truex Jr. said. “We fought. Had a great racecar at times. Looked like we were in position to have a shot at winning. Then the last pit stop, we had a little bit of an issue. Then inside restarts after that are just really tough. The leader on the outside has a big advantage. I guess all in all, happy with third, but wish we could have won tonight.”

Chase Elliott finished fourth and Chase contender, Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five. Busch doesn’t have a win to guarantee him a spot in the final round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but he’s ahead of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin for the fourth and final transfer spot. With Johnson and Edwards each having a victories, Busch sits in the final transfer spot and is tied with Joey Logano in the points. Kenseth is only one point behind them. Hamlin trails Busch by two points.

“Yeah, that’s the key right there is we’ve worked a ton about everywhere but especially at Phoenix and getting better there,” Busch said. “Carl (Edwards) almost won that race in spring so good job to the 19 bunch getting themselves back in the game here tonight. That gives one (Joe) Gibbs (Racing) car for sure going to Homestead. We’d like to make it two more but all in all we’ve had a good season this season. Good to see Carl win here, get himself back in. We want to be one of the other Gibbs cars that get to go there at Homestead to battle this out.”

Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch find themselves deep in the Round of 8 standings as they are the final two drivers who haven’t secured their chances to race for the championship. Harvick sits slightly ahead of Kurt Busch, but even his sixth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway couldn’t propel him to a higher position in the point standings. Kurt Busch struggled the most of all eight drivers in Chase contention with a 20th-place finish, one lap down.

“We just missed the set-up,” Busch said. It’s a Chase race, it’s kind of important and we missed it again.”

With just one race remaining in the Round of 8 as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway next weekend, Jimmie Johnson currently tops the Chase standings after winning at Martinsville Speedway last weekend and finishing 11th in Sunday’s race. With Edwards’ win, he joins Johnson as the only other driver with a secured spot in the Championship 4 at the season finale for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series the following weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The only Chase driver that was involved in any incidents on the track Sunday night was Harvick making minor contact with Austin Dillon. The driver of the No. 3 Realtree/Bad Boy Chevrolet moved up in front of Havick, sending Dillon into the outside wall on lap 264. The wreck escalated as the No. 13 of Casey Mears and No. 44 of Brian Scott slid through the grass, damaging both cars.

Dillon felt as though the incident was avoidable and noted a former remark from previous tensions between the two drivers.

“No, he (Harvick) sucked down on my door all the way, like on it,” Dillon said. “I get it, you’ve got to hold a guy down, but he sucked down on my door and got me tight. That is the reason I slid up in front of him and then he didn’t lift he just turned me. There are two more weeks left.”

Dillon added, “I mean, he is tucked down to my door tighter than anybody did all night. He knew how tight he was on my door and that is why I got tight and slid up in front of him. He didn’t check (up), but he had the opportunity to. He didn’t like it that the silver spoon kid was out-running him tonight. So we will be alright, we have two weeks left and we just want to come out and win a race.”

Harvick dispelled any claims that the contact was intentional in his post-race interview as apologized for the incident.

“I just want to apologize to the 3 (Austin Dillon),” Harvick said. “He kind of came up there and he slid in front of me and got loose and when he checked up I hit him again. That was not anything I wanted to see.”

The AAA Texas 500 may have started hours later than scheduled and ended 40 laps short of the planned distance, but the 293 laps raced clearly shook up the standings for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

The Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, November 13 will be the final race of the Round of 8. Live coverage will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC and the Motor Racing Network (MRN).

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

From The Deadline Room To The Driver’s Seat, Jason Beck Is A Competitor

By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

Jason Beck has attended races since he was 3 years old, and when he’s not interviewing drivers for a news story, he’s behind the wheel battling for the checkered flag.

The Thomasville, North Carolina native, who now resides in Fayetteville went to his first race at Caraway Speedway. His grandparents took him on the trip that would change his life forever. With a stout field of cars competing for the win, Beck instantly fell in love with the lifestyle.

“I went to my first race at Caraway Speedway when I was three,” Beck said. “It was my grandparents idea. Believe it or not, their first date was to a race track. The first race I attended was an enduro event with more than 80 cars starting the feature. As a 3-year-old, I didn’t understand why Richard Petty wasn’t there.”

Fast forward to Beck’s teenage years, he was at the racetrack nearly every Friday and Saturday night to watch the local heroes compete head-to-head in the bullrings around the Carolinas. Beck bought his first race car when he was 15-years old, but he quickly realized the funding just wasn’t there; however, he wasn’t deterred. Beck became friends with Street Stock driver, Darren Free and began helping his crew out in the pits at Caraway Speedway. The friendship eventually led to Beck’s first taste of speed, when he was offered an opportunity to pilot Darren Free’s UCAR.

“Darren had built a UCAR that he was letting family members race, and he asked if I wanted to drive it,” Beck said. “Of course I couldn’t wait. My grandpa was and is my biggest supporter. He towed the car to the track for me, and the first time I ran it, I blew the engine on the last lap coming across the finish line. I think I outran two cars and was on the lead lap. It was the first time anyone had driven the pathetic little car to a lead lap finish.”

In 2003, Beck stepped away from the driver’s seat for short period of time while he studied Mass Communications at Campbell University. Darren Free and his father, Billy Joe built another UCAR, one that was much more competitive. The family approached Beck to see if he would drive the car during the 2004 season, and of course, Beck jumped on the opportunity. Beck found success and won his first race that August; however, the engine blew a few weeks later, and the season was over. He ended up finishing out the season seventh in the championship standings at Caraway Speedway. The effort was absolutely incredible, especially considering that there were more than 70 drivers who made at least one start that season.

“I was hooked at that point,” Beck said. “I won my first race that August and my grandpa was there with me in victory lane. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. I thought, man, this is easy – I’m going to win all kinds of races. When the engine blew I was out of a ride, and didn’t get behind the wheel again for two years.”

The 2006 season presented new opportunities for Beck. He bought his own car that was only worth about $500. Even though Beck spent a lot of time battling towards the back of the pack, he was having fun doing so. He ended up winning a race at Wake County Speedway in 2007. As the years went on, Beck was able to accumulate better equipment, and in 2010, he built his first race car from scratch. He also hired championship driver, Keith Brame Jr. to race for him in 2012. The chemistry between the two formed instant success, and they won the UCAR Clash championship.

“We won the UCAR Clash touring series championship and had the fastest car all season – that was such a big moment for me, to see a car I built run so competitively,” Beck said. “Also, Keith taught me so much about car setup.”

With momentum, Beck returned to the driver’s seat and began competing at Dillon Motor Speedway in 2013. That season, he won one race, three poles and finished no lower than third in the four UCAR races in which he competed. The following season, Beck fulfilled his lifelong dream of racing in a Late Model-style race car. He ran the Charger division at Dillon Motor Speedway and competed in 11 races. His best finish in the Charger car was a third.

“Really, at that point, if I had stopped racing I would have been happy just to have said I was able to drive the types of cars all my heroes had driven.” Beck said. “Some people are in awe of NASCAR drivers, but all my heroes drove pavement Late Models. My best finish in the Charger car was third, but just staying on the lead lap most weeks was a huge accomplishment on my tiny budget.”

Today, Beck competes in a home-built Pro Four Cylinder car in the Carolinas.

Aside from the cockpit of a race car, Beck has also been a journalist his entire adult life, working for The Fayetteville Observer, The Daily Record, The Angier Independent, The News Journal and most recently, www.TheFourthTurn.com and Speedway Illustrated.

Beck had taken a break from motorsports journalism, and he made his return in 2015, when he joined www.TheFourthTurn.com. Reporting primarily on Carolina grassroots racing, Beck also assisted the website with covering the 2015 Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, as well as the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. In 2016, he began his dream job in motorsports journalism, when he began writing for Dick Berggren’s Speedway Illustrated.

“As a journalist in the motorsports industry I attend probably 60 races a year,” Beck said. “I’ve done everything at the racetrack from pace car driver to track photographer. I just love the sport of auto racing and would do anything I could to give back to it. I’m happy with everything I’ve accomplished, and my dream at this point isn’t to win another race, it’s to somehow be able to give back to the sport I love. I daydream about having enough money to lease a track or run a facility of my own – not because I have a big ego, but because I just hope to help a struggling track stay open another year.”

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

Joey Logano Wins The Hellmann’s 500 At Talladega To Advance In The Chase

By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Joey Logano held off the field in NASCAR Overtime to win Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

The win marks Logano’s second of the 2016 season. The driver of the Team Penske No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford has now also won the last two Chase races at Talladega Superspeedway. On Sunday, Logano led the final 45 laps en route to the victory; however, his dominance was challenged during a NASCAR Overtime restart, following a caution involving Alex Bowman that came out on lap 187. In the end, Logano outran Brian Scott and Denny Hamlin to capture his 16th career win.

“Todd (Gordon, crew chief) made some good adjustments during the race and found some speed in the car, so that was pretty neat to see some of that,” Logano said. “We got that track position and just hung onto it.  I was able to stay on the bottom and try to run the bottom and keep everyone in line, and that worked out really well.”

Richard Petty Motorsports’ Brian Scott finished second in the No. 44 Goody’s Ford. The runner-up finish marks Scott’s first top-five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He earned the impressive result in his 49th career start. On the final lap, Scott was in the draft behind Logano, but in the end, he just couldn’t make a strong enough move to get out in front of the field.

“I gave it everything I had,” Scott said. “I mean, if I could have stuck my feet through the floorboard and ran to try and get a little more horsepower, I would have done it. Joey just did all the right moves up front. I’ve got to thank Denny Hamlin and everybody that worked with me and tried to push me up there. I probably wasn’t their first choice, but I gave them no choice but to work with me and I’m just proud of these guys. It was a solid day with no mistakes. We capitalized on every opportunity we had and brought home a good finish.”

Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 was Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon and AJ Allmendinger.

Following the race, Stewart-Haas Racing teammates, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick had a few words. After the conclusion of the race, Busch and Harvick banged doors on the cool down lap. Once on pit road, Harvick walked over to Busch, who was still in his car and jabbed through the window.

“Yeah, the final laps everybody is just pushing and shoving and then he (Kurt Busch) cleaned the side of our car out after the checkered flag,” Harvick said. “I don’t really understand that, but all-in-all the Jimmy John’s Chevrolet team did a great job and didn’t have a scratch on it until then.  That is pretty good for Talladega.”

During post-race, Kurt Busch said, “He has a misunderstanding of the call at the end of the race. He will understand it and I’m sure he will clear it up in his interview. For us, we are great teammates.  We are doing good together. We have to work together to beat all these other teams out there and he knows that.”

Throughout the afternoon, there were six cautions for 25 laps; however there were only two yellow flags for multi-car accidents.

The second caution of the day came on lap 115, when Casey Mears, Greg Biffle and Matt DiBenedetto crashed on the frontstretch. As the field exited Turn 4, Biffle and DiBenedetto made contact. Biffle slid across the nose of DiBenedetto’s car and collected Casey Mears. The three drivers pounded the inside wall at pit entrance and ricocheted into the frontstretch grass, where they eventually came to a rest.

“We were just on the bottom,” Mears said. “I think we were probably about five (laps) away from pitting I think it was. At that point we just kind of move down to the bottom and were waiting for the cycle of pit stops to come around and something happen with the No. 16 (Greg Biffle). I couldn’t tell out of the corner of my eye, I thought maybe he got clipped on the outside and then it swung him back into whoever was below him. We were just cruising along there and all of a sudden just got taken out; a pretty hard hit to the inside wall. I felt like I had a car that had pretty good speed. It was a matter of kind of being up there inside that top 10 or 15 when it really counted to make a move.”

On lap 183, the final multi-car accident occurred during the fifth caution of the afternoon. Kasey Kahne spun in Turn 3 and collected Jamie McMurray and Trevor Bayne.

Sunday’s race was the final event of the Round of 12. The drivers, who aren’t transferring to the Round of 8 include: Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott.

Truex Jr. started on the pole, but he blew an engine on lap 41 and finished 40th. Keselowski led 90 laps, more than any other driver on Sunday, but he retired from the event on lap 144 after a possible engine failure as well. Keselowski finished 38th. Dillon had a strong top-10 finish, but it wasn’t enough to catapult him into the Round of 8. Elliott crossed the finish line in the 12th position, but he also didn’t earn enough points to transfer.

The drivers that will make up the Round of 8 include: Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch.

The first Round of 8 race will be the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, October 30. Live coverage of the race will broadcast on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 1 p.m. ET.

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

Michael McDowell Visits Trident Technical College And Helps Build Homes In Charleston

By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Although Hurricane Matthew is threatening the coast of South Carolina, Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing’s Michael McDowell visited Charleston on Tuesday to speak at Trident Technical College and help build houses in the community.

McDowell kicked off his visit to the Lowcountry as the keynote speaker at the HopeBuilders Breakfast that took place at Trident Technical College. During the breakfast, the driver of the No. 95 Thrivent Financial Chevrolet SS helped raise awareness of what Habitat for Humanity and Thrivent Financial are doing within Berkeley County and the Charleston community.

“The morning started out, we had a breakfast and just tried to raise awareness for what Habitat (for Humanity) is doing in the local community and the need for volunteers and support and you know, just the impact that Habitat and Thrivent (Financial) has made in a lot of communities but that community in particular,” McDowell said.

Following the breakfast at Trident Technical College, McDowell stopped by a Habitat for Humanity build site in Charleston, and he began assisting with the construction of houses. McDowell met with the families and helped Thrivent Financial volunteers install installation and place siding on the walls of homes.

“Then we went over to the job site and there are homes, new homes that are being built and so we got to do a little work and install some installation and put some siding on the house.” McDowell said. “The homes are getting really close to being completed, and that means that there will be two families that will have a safe and secure home to live in and to raise their families. It was pretty awesome to see.”

McDowell added, “To be a part of someone’s forever home and to know that you had a small part in it, and they allowed you to experience that with them is really special.”

McDowell’s final stop was at a Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in the area. While at the ReStore, McDowell met with the local community, posed for photographs and signed autographs. The No. 95 Chevrolet SS was also on display for the community to get a first-hand look at a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race car.

On Wednesday afternoon, Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing announced that veteran crew chief Todd Parrott will be atop the pit box for the reaming races this season. With more than 20 years of experience, Parrott is a great addition to the small team that is continuing to build and move forward. As for Dave Winston who previously held the crew chief position, he will now fill the role of a race engineer for the team.

“Todd Parrott obviously has a lot of experience,” McDowell said. “He has won races on the box, and he’s a great asset that we’ve added to our race team. With our alliance with RCR (Richard Childress Racing), it’s really what allowed that to happen. He has been working with RCR for the last couple of years. He has been working with Ty Dillon, when Ty is in the car, and so it’s just a great way for us to strengthen our growing program and our growing race team and add another additional key player that can really help propel our team to the next level.”

Thursday’s on-track action at Charlotte Motor Speedway will be the first time that McDowell and Parrott have worked together. McDowell’s best finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway came with the team in 2014, when he finished 29th. Back in May during the Coca-Cola 600, McDowell finished 34th. The Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing team is riding on a little bit of momentum right now. They finished 12th at Richmond International Raceway and two races later, the team earned a 26th place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. With the addition of Todd Parrott, McDowell believes that the team will have a great opportunity to earn a solid finish this weekend in the Bank of America 500.

“Mile-and-a-halves have definitely been our Achilles heel for our program,” McDowell said. “We ran mid to low 20s at the short tracks and places like that, and that would be the goal for this weekend, to run in the low 20s and put ourselves in a position to get another solid finish and grow for next year. Obviously working with Todd for the first time is part of the growing of figuring out how we communicate and what we each need to make improvements and moving on.”

 

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

Martin Truex Jr. Dominates At The Monster Mile To Earn Second Chase Victory

By: Camille Jones/TheFourthTurn.com

DOVER, Del. – Martin Truex, Jr. lapped all but six cars on his way to his fourth victory of the season in Sunday’s Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway.

Truex, Jr., driver of the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota, started second and led 187 laps in Sunday afternoon’s 400-lap race. Throughout the Round of 16, Truex Jr. won two out of the three races. He’ll be the No. 1 seed when the Round of 12 kicks off at Charlotte Motor Speedway next weekend.

“We are here to get it done and golly I’m telling you just the best bunch of guys you could ever ask for,” Truex Jr. said. “It’s just amazing to drive their race cars and do what we were able to do. I’m just ecstatic. So many people to thank again. I mean, this is just unbelievable. Especially here I love this race track. It’s been considered a home track for me for a long time. It’s been since ’07 since I won here.”

During the first 188 laps of the race, Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch traded the lead back and forth. After leading 102 laps, Busch claimed the second place finishing position. The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Core Toyota scored his 19th top-10 of the season. He successfully advances to the Round of 12 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with the runner-up finish.

“We’re not bad,” Busch said. “I mean, obviously our cars are really fast, we just haven’t been able to find all of it that the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) had so far. Those guys are doing a phenomenal job, but can’t say enough about everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing, TRD (Toyota Racing Development). This M&M’s Camry today was really, really good and class of my field, my zip code, my area code. But, we just kept working on it all day long. We had loose, tight, both and it was just better to be on the looser side and just try to maintain the rear tires and keep them underneath you for the long haul and see what you could get.”

Following the battle upfront between Truex Jr. and Busch, Jimmie Johnson was able to take over the on lap 189. He was out in front of the field for 89 laps before receiving a penalty on pit road for having too many crew members over the wall. On lap 282, Johnson, the driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet served his pass through penalty under green flag conditions. He went on to finish seventh.

“Well I think today was a different set of circumstances on pit road,” Johnson said. “It was certainly, I think Chad (Knaus, crew chief) still questions exactly what happened, but when I was coming into my pit box the No. 18 and the No. 43 (Aric Almirola) were just leaving theirs and they were directly behind my box. I had to slam on the brakes and get turned and get underneath those guys to come in and I was pretty close to my box so I assume that just threw the rhythm off the pit stop and somebody came off the wall early. Certainly a mistake, but it’s not one that I’ve ever had happen on the No. 48 team. Thankfully, we had a strong car that we were only a lap down and still ended up seventh.”

Truex, Jr. led the way for most of last half of the event before securing his victory over Busch and rookie Chase Elliott, driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Mountain Dew Chevrolet. Elliott also secures his spot in the second round of the Chase after finishing third in Sunday’s race. In two career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at the Monster Mile, Elliott has finished in the top-10 both times.

“We’ve been working on our car throughout the weekend and I feel like we got it the best we had had it there two runs before the end, which I guess was a good time to try to get it with that long green flag run things kind of worked out for us to get a couple of extra spots that would have been hard to get otherwise,” Elliott said. “I’m proud of the effort. Really really cool to move on this weekend, I’m proud of that like I said, this group has been doing a really good job. I’m proud of all these guys and we are excited to get on to Charlotte.”

Rounding out the top-five was pole sitter Brad Keselowski in fourth and Matt Kenseth in the fifth position. Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon completed the top-10.

Over the course of the 400-lap race, there were four cautions for a total of 22 laps.

The most notable caution came out on lap 35, when the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick, suffered a mechanical failure, bringing out the caution. Harvick was able to return to the race, where he eventually finished 37th. Due to winning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last weekend, Harvick will advance to the next Round of 12.

The complete list of drivers advancing to the Round of 12 include: Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon.

Drivers not advancing to the Round of 12 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup are Tony Stewart, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray and Chris Buescher.

Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Larson and McMurray, both suffered mechanical failures in the Citizen Soldier 400. Larson’s No. 42 Target Chevrolet experienced electrical issues early in the race, followed by a pit penalty for having too many crew members over the wall. On lap 183, Larson made hard contact with the wall and finished 25th.

“There wasn’t much we could do,” Larson said. “I cut the right front tire down and got in the wall and still had good speed in the race car after that but it just didn’t work out. Our team has come a long way this season from where we started the year. We were pretty awful at the start of the season but then got a win at Michigan to lock ourselves in the Chase. That was good. I know we have the speed to have made it past a couple of rounds but it’s my typical luck I guess, where it just doesn’t work out.”

McMurray, driver of the No. 1 Credit One Chevrolet, reported issues before his engine failed, bringing out the caution on lap 194. McMurray finished the race in the 40th position.

“It vibrated earlier in the race and it went away,” McMurray said. “And it’s weird because engine issues usually don’t go away. It felt like it had power and then I don’t know about 40 laps before it finally blew up, it just started vibrating real bad. They (the team) said what broke, but I couldn’t hear them over all the cars on the track. I’m not sure. Very unfortunate. It is just the way it goes.”

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Nature’s Bakery Brownie/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, battled into the top-15, fighting for each positionhe could to try to advance, but ultimately came up short with a 13th place finish. In his final season racing fulltime in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the three-time champion will not have a chance to win a fourth title before retiring.

“I’m pretty excited about our day,” Stewart said. “We were much better than we were yesterday. Really proud of our team. We kept making it better all day. That is good as we had.”

Chris Buescher, who secured his spot in the Chase after taking his No. 34 CSX-Play it Safe Ford to Victory Lane in a rain-shortened event at Pocono Raceway, was eliminated from the Chase after failing to collect enough points over the first round. Buescher needed to win on Sunday to secure a spot but was forced to settle for a 23rd-place finish.

“Now we go back to racing the same way we did this weekend,” Buescher said. “Nothing really changes. We’ve got the opportunity to test a little bit more and we still have the opportunity to take chances for the rest of the season, but I’m really proud of the guys for all the work this year. To even be in the Chase was a really big deal for Front Row Motorsports and this 34 team. My hat’s off to everybody who has worked so hard this season.”

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to competition on Saturday, October 8, for the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The only night race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will broadcast live on FOX and Performance Racing Network (PRN) at 7 p.m. ET.

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