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Race Weekend Review: November 16-17-18, 2018

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford Ecoboost 400 AT Homestead-Miami Speedway
Logano beats the Big Three contenders to win the race and the championship

Homestead, FL, Nov 18/18 (GRW): Joey Logano had seemingly been overconfident when he declared before the championship finale here that he was the favourite to win the title – despite the fact that he was facing the Big Three of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex who had collectively won 19 of the 35 races run beforehand this year — while Logano had only won twice before this year. But, in the end, his confidence turned out to be well-founded and he beat out the other three championship contenders, leading the final 12 laps of the 267-lap race and winning by a margin of nearly two seconds.

“We did it! We won the championship! I can’t believe it,” said Logano. “I don't know what to say. This team, Roger Penske, Todd Gordon, the pit crew. Oh my God. They gave me the car I needed at the end to do my job. Put me in position to do my job. I couldn’t be more proud of them. We won the championship Marty! Oh my God!”

Photo MENCS crowdThe field races past the green flag to start the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The Big Three drivers, who were the other championship contenders in this final race of the championship season finished in the order Truex, Harvick and Busch.

In the early running of the race, Harvick won the first Stage which ended on lap 80 and Kyle Larson win the second Stage on lap 160 but after the pit stops during the turn-around at the end of Stage 2, the championship contenders came out one-two-three-four – Logano, Harvick, Truex and Busch.

In the 107-lap final stage the drivers were going to have to make at least one more pit stop for fuel. This chance came when Larson slid up into the wall and damaged his car bringing out the fourth yellow on lap 194. Everyone pitted and Logano and Truex came out of the pits one-two, while Harvick was fourth and Busch was eighth. On the restart Truex was able to catch and pass Logano within a few laps and they ran this way until the teams started calling their cars in for another pit stop beginning on lap 229 – the earlier yellow-flag pit stop having come too soon to let them run the rest of the way without stopping again for more fuel. Harvick pitted as did Truex and Logano on the next lap. Busch did not pit at this time. Nor did Matt Kenseth or Jimmie Johnson, leaving these three running in the lead ahead of the pack of the other three championship contenders.

Johnson soon fell back behind these three but it was apparent that Busch’s crew chief had opted for the only alternate strategy available to him – to keep Busch out as long as possible hoping that another yellow would fly letting him pit with the others under yellow and hope to get out of the pits at or near the lead.

This last hope strategy worked out when Daniel Suarez got together with Brad Keselowski and he hit the wall, bringing out the fifth caution on lap 248. Busch pitted – as did the other three contenders – and, given the advantage of the No. 1 pit stall, he beat them all out of pit lane – with Truex, Logano and Harvick behind him.

However, on the restart, Busch did not have the pace to hold off the others. Truex and Logano passed him on the first lap. Four laps later, Logano caught and passed Truex easily – and then he pulled out ahead. Twelve laps later he took the checker by a 1.7-second margin over Truex. Harvick was third and Busch fourth.

Keselowski finished fifth while Matt Kenseth, who had been called out of retirement to drive the No 6 Roush car, was sixth.

This was the final race of the 2018 MENCS season.

Click HERE for the full results of the MENCS race from Homestead.

 

 Photo NXS Reddick HemricDaniel Hemric, driver of the #21 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet, races Tyler Reddick, driver of the #9 BurgerFi Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

NASCAR Xfinity Series Ford Ecoboost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway
Reddick wins the race – and the title

Homestead, FL, Nov 17/18 (GRW): Tyler Reddick came into Homestead as the underdog, the least likely of the four playoff contenders to win the championship – but he turned his ability to rim ride into a championship-winning strategy leading the final 37 laps of the 200-lap race and taking the checker seven seconds ahead of the pre-race favourite, Cole Custer.

This was only the second Xfinity win for Reddick this year, his first coming at Daytona in February where he beat Elliott Sadler to the line by mere inches. Reddick was driving a Dale Earnhardt Jr’s JR Motorsports entry this year.

John Hunter Nemechek was third, Daniel Hemric fourth and Austin Cindric fifth. Of the four playoff contenders who came into the Homestead race, Reddick was the race winner and the champion, Custer was second, Hemric fourth and Christopher Bell was 11th. As had been the case in the truck race the evening before, the race ran with only two cautions, the ones that fell at the end of the first and second stages.

In the early going it was all going Custer’s way. Starting from the pole he led the first 93 laps, winning both of the first two Stages. But things went sour for Custer after that. During that second caution he came out of the pits behind Nemechek and Bell. He quickly passed Bell to take over second but he could not get past Nemechek who held the lead for the next 52 laps.

Everyone was going to have to make at least one more pit stop before the end to top up with fuel. On lap 142, a round of green-flag stops began with Bell and Reddick pitting. Custer stayed out and did not pit until about four laps later. This gave the other two time to run out ahead on their fresh tires and left Custer in a bind. When things settled out after this round of pit stops he was three seconds behind Reddick, who was once again the race leader.

Bell ran down Reddick and passed him for the lead on lap 155 but Custer was unable to catch up. Nine laps later Reddick got back past Bell to regain the lead, Now Custer began to press forward, passing Bell and closing on Reddick. Reddick had been running up close to the outer wall most of the race and he kept on working this line which seemed to give him a speed advantage over Custer. Custer tried to copy Reddick’s line but, given that he had not practised running up so close to the wall before or during the race, he could not match Reddick’s speed and he fell back. Accepting the inevitable, he took his more familiar lower line and maintained position about six seconds behind Reddick – and that’s where he finished.

While this was going on Bell was also trying to run up against the wall but he paid the price with a right-rear tire failure which forced him to pit for a replacement tire, losing all hope of winning the race.

“I just knew we had to execute,” Reddick said. “I thought we had a chance if we just made it to Homestead. I like this track — it rewards my aggression. Tonight, we hit the wall a lot, but the car kept in one piece, enough for me to get to the end.”

This is the final race in the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series season.

Click HERE for the full results of this week’s Xfinity race from Homestead.

 

Photo NCWTS MoffittBrett Moffitt, driver of the #16 AISIN Group Toyota, celebrates in victory lane with the trophy after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 and the NCWTS Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway
Hattori Racing driver Moffitt wins the title

Homestead, FL, Nov 16/18 (GRW): In what seemed to be a Cinderella ending, Brett Moffitt led the final 29 laps of the 134-lap truck race to win the race and the 2018 championship. This underfunded single-truck Hattori team with a driver who had never ever had a full-season ride in any NASCAR series, bested the big truck teams – Kyle Busch Motorsport and GMS – to take the title.

Coming into the seven-race playoff series, GMS’ Johnny Sauter had looked like a shoo-in. The 2016 truck champion had already won five times and he scored another win in the playoffs, at Martinsville. But Moffitt had won four races in the regular season himself and in the three-race playoff round preceding the shootout finale, he had finished second, third, and first.

There has been some controversy over the engines used in this series this year. Most trucks were using the spec Ilmor ‘crate engine’ while a few were still using the manufacturer OEM engines. In the final two races, Moffitt had used one of each – and despite the claimed disadvantages of one or the other he managed to win both those races

KBM driver Noah Gragson, who finished second to Moffitt at Phoenix the week before, seemed to be the one favoured to win at Homestead – despite having only won one race (Kansas) all season.

Gragson started from the second row, the fastest of all the playoff contenders and he took the lead from Moffitt on the restart after the second Stage. He led for the next 32 laps until Moffitt dove under him to regain the lead. This was a race which saw only two cautions – at the end of each of the two Stages – so there had to be a round of green-flag pit stops in the third 74-lap Stage. When Moffitt pitted he gave up the lead but he soon cycled back around into the lead on lap 106 – with Gragson nearly four seconds back in third place behind the pole-sitter Grand Enfinger. Moffitt was now the fastest and he slowly pulled away from Enfinger while Gragson slid further back. The checker flew and Moffitt was the winner by a margin of two seconds over Enfinger and about six seconds ahead of Gragson.

The other playoff contenders, Justin Haley and Johnny Sauter finished eighth and 12th respectively.

“(Crew chief Scott) “Zippy” (Zipadelli) and everybody at HRE (Hattori Racing Enterprises) gave me a really fast Tundra and I think we made the bottom work a hell of a lot better than anybody, so that gave me the opportunity to get down there, but doing that it’s really harsh on the tires,” said Moffitt. “I knew we were faster than him. It was just about getting him and getting momentum off (Turn) 2 and being able to dive bomb into (Turn) 3. The first attempt I did at it, I just wasn’t aggressive enough and got the tires hot and had to go back up to the top and cool them down a few laps and then make another charge. I just can’t speak enough about everybody on this race team and how hard they work. Our pit crew tonight did an amazing job. Man, those were a long last 20 laps.

The Hattori team had only ten crew members in all and the team owner had spent much of the season chasing up funding to keep going but it had all worked out in the end for them.

“It’s unreal. We all know the story by now where we didn’t know if we were going to race the full year, said Moffitt. “I didn’t know if I was going to have the opportunity to compete for a championship even after we got our first win. Everyone pulled together hard here. Back at Chicago we didn’t know if we were going to make it to the race track and Marcus (Barela) with Fr8Auctions stepped us and got us there. We’ve had many partners like that and iRacing all year long that came in at clutch moments and got us to the race track when we needed to.”

This was the final race in the NCWTS season.

Click HERE for the full results of this truck race from Homestead.

 

Photo WEC Shanghai winners#7 TOYOTA GAZOO RACING / JPN / Toyota TS050 - Hybrid - Hybrid / Mike Conway (GBR) / Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) / Jose Maria Lopez (ARG) - 6 hours of Shanghai (Photo Credit Joao Filipe/AdrenalMedia.com)

FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Shanghai
Toyota Hybrids finish one-two yet again

Shanghai, China, Nov 18/18, (PRN Staff): The No. 7 Toyota TS050-Hybrid LMP1 car driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose-Maria Lopez won the Shanghai round of the WEC by a 1.1-second margin over the No. 8 sister car driven by Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi. The No. 8 car, with Alonso at the wheel, had lost about 25 seconds midway in the race during one of the five Safety Car periods, allowing Kobayashi to build what turned out to be a race defining lead. The race was stopped twice in the early going due to the heavy rain that fell.

The best of the rest, finishing third a lap down was the No. 11 SMP racing non-hybrid LMP1 BR1-AER of Jenson Button, Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin. This was said to have been the most competitive weekend for the non-hybrid privateers so far this season after more adjustment to the EoT (performance equalization rules) which were made prior to the Shanghai weekend. Given the one-lap winning margin for the two hybrid Toyotas, the most -recent adjustment did not seem to have actually ‘equalized’ the performance differential between the hybrid and non-hybrid LMP1 cars.

In the LMP2 class it was a home victory for the No.38 Jackie Chan DC Racing crew of Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry and Stephane Richelmi.

The No. 95 Aston-Martin Vantage AMR of Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim won the LMGTE-Pro class with a seventh-place finish, four laps down on the leading Toyotas.

In LMGTE-Am, the class winner was the No 77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR driven by Christian Ried, Julien Andlauer and Matt Campbell.

The current WEC will continue this season to its finale at next year’s Le Mans 24-Hour race. The next race in this 2018-2019 season will be the 1000 Miles of Sebring which will be run on March 15, 2019, the Friday before the traditional 12-Hours of Sebring race which is run as part of the IMSA WeatherTech series.

Click HERE for the full results of this week’s Shanghai WEC race.

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