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Race Weekend Review: November 8-9-10, 2019

Race Weekend Review: November 8-9-10, 2019 

NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway
□ Denny Hamlin seals title bid with clinching Phoenix victory

Phoenix, AZ, Nov 10/19 (NASCAR Wire Service) : Out, demon! Denny Hamlin’s exorcism is complete. At ISM Raceway, the site of one of his biggest disappointments, Hamlin barged back into the Championship 4 with a dominating victory in Sunday’s Bluegreen Vacations 500.

Hamlin joins Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch, Sunday’s runner-up, in the Nov. 17 race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The three JGR drivers will battle Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing for the trophy.

After losing control of his car and sliding off Turn 4 last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, Hamlin fell 20 points below the cut line for the Championship 4 entering the Phoenix race. But with his victory, Hamlin knocked defending champion Joey Logano out of title contention. “I can’t believe it,” exulted Hamlin, who picked up his sixth victory of the season, his second at ISM Raceway and the 27th of his career. “This race team worked so hard this whole year. They deserve to be there. I put them in a bad hole last week. I told them today in the meeting, I said, ‘I’m going to give everything I’ve got to make up for the mistake I made last week.’ That’s all I got.’

Logano finished ninth on Sunday and ended the Round of 8 fifth in the standings and seven points behind Busch, who grabbed the last berth in the title race.

Hamlin led a race-high 143 laps, including 142 of the last 146, and built a lead of more than 12 seconds before surrendering the top spot for four laps during a cycle of green-flag pit stops. Hamlin’s advantage was more than nine seconds when John Hunter Nemechek’s Ford slapped the Turn 1 to cause the fifth and final caution.

PHOTO MENCS ISM2 MENCS VLCelebration 111019 resizeDenny Hamlin celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Bluegreen Vacations 500 (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

“One of the best cars of my career, I can tell you that,” said Hamlin, who came to Phoenix as the championship favorite in 2010, only to lose 18 points of his 33-point lead on a misguided pit call. “Fast car. But, yeah, I pushed for all I had. I mean, that’s all I got. Once we got the big lead there, a little over 10 seconds, I just kind of sat there. I got to thinking about if the caution does come out, I want to lap as many (cars) as I can.”

A week after his 2010 misfortune at Phoenix, a shell-shocked Hamlin spun early and lost the title to Jimmie Johnson. In contrast, it was a focused and determined Hamlin who showed up at Phoenix on Sunday.

Busch led the first 69 laps of the race but lost the first stage to Hamlin after Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s collision with the Turn 4 wall caused the first caution of the afternoon. When the race came down to a restart with three laps left, Busch couldn’t keep up with his teammate and finished .377 seconds behind the No. 11 Toyota Camry. “Just didn’t quite have enough,” Busch said. “I knew the 11 was the best car in practice. I knew we were going to be about third to fifth. We were second. Guys did a great job, this M&M Toyota Camry was good. It’s cool to have a chance to go race for a championship. Just keep coming up short.”

Logano led 93 laps, won the second stage and was out front until Hamlin passed him for the lead on Lap 177. From that point, Logano dropped like a rock to 11th and fell a lap down to Hamlin before third-place finisher Ryan Blaney started a cycle of green-flag stops on Lap 243 of 312. Kyle Larson ran fourth and failed to advance to the Championship 4, as did Blaney and Chase Elliott, who rocketed into the Turn 1 wall with a flat left rear tire on Lap 166 and finished 39th.

Click HERE for the results of the MENCS race at Phoenix.

The final race of the season -- which will determine the winner of the 2019 MENCS championship, will be held next Sunday, November 17, at Homestead.

PHOTO NXS ISM2 NXS AllgaierCuster 110919 resizeJustin Allgaier, driver of the #7 Chevrolet, leads Cole Custer during the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

NASCAR Xfinity Series Desert Diamond West Valley Casino 200 at ISM Raceway
□ Justin Allgaier charges into Championship 4 with Xfinity win at Phoenix

Phoenix, AZ, Nov 9/19 (NASCAR Wire Service): After a pit road speeding penalty and a subsequent spin KO’d the winning chances of pole-sitter Christopher Bell, Allgaier took full advantage, leading the final 66 laps of Saturday’s Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 to win for the first time this season and advance to next week’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship 4 event at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Allgaier joins the so-called Big Three of Bell, Saturday’s runner-up Cole Custer and third-place finisher Tyler Reddick in the title race. Custer clinched his spot after running third in the second 45-lap stage. Reddick, the defending series champion, earned his spot on points after saving fuel over the final 79-lap green-flag run.

Allgaier won the race wearing a helmet designed by his 6-year-old daughter, Harper. “This is the first time I’ve won with Harper’s helmet in the car, and it means a lot,” said Allgaier, who notched his second win at the 1-mile track and the 11th of his Xfinity career. “To have the speed that we’ve had (this year) and not be able to pull it off has been disappointing. These guys have rallied behind it. We said when we came here that we need to come here and get a win so we could go to Homestead, and we did that …

“We had a hot rod today. I don’t think we could have beaten the 20 (Bell), but when he made his mistake, we capitalized on it. That’s what it’s all about. … No question (not winning) is a weight on your shoulders, man. You can’t even begin to describe it.”

Custer was closing fast at the finish and cut Allgaier’s lead of more than three seconds to .810 seconds at the checkered flag on Lap 200. “I was giving it all I had,” Custer said. “I was really struggling with the brake pedal. I kind of lost it at the start of the run. I had to save the whole run until like 15 laps to go, and then I just let it happen. I just came up a little bit short, but I think that was the best run we’ve had at Phoenix in a long time. I’m looking forward to Homestead, and hopefully we can do one spot better.”

The top four drivers in the playoff standings entering Saturday’s race were the four who will compete for the championship at Homestead. Missing out on points were sixth-place finisher Austin Cindric, eighth-place Chase Briscoe, ninth-place Michael Annett and 10th-place Noah Gragson.

John Hunter Nemechek ran fourth behind Reddick followed by an impressive Zane Smith, who tied his career-best result in his 10th Xfinity Series start.

Bell led a race-high 92 laps and won the first two stages, bringing his total of stage victories for the season to 22, but was flagged for speeding .03 mph over tolerance under caution at the end of Stage 2. After restarting from the rear, Bell climbed to eighth before spinning out while trying to cut the apron off Turn 2. “I feel like I gave up a winner,” said Bell, whose focus nevertheless has been on next weekend’s race at Homestead, where he turned in a disappointing performance in the title event last year. This is what it’s all about, It all comes down to this one next week. I’m ready for it. I feel really good about where we’re at, and our car is going to be extremely strong next week. We’ve prepared a ton for this. Ever since we left Homestead last year, we knew that this race was where we needed to improve. Pretty much all year long, we’ve been focused on Homestead.”

Annett had a close call early on when rookie Riley Herbst made contact with his No. 1 Chevrolet on Lap 13. Annett righted his car and drove away, but Herbst’s Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota skidded and backed into the Turn 3 retaining wall. Annett finished ninth. Reddick will be aiming for his second straight Xfinity Series crown. Both he and Bell are signed to drive in the Monster Energy Series next season.

Click HERE for the results of the NXS race at Phoenix.

The final race of the season -- which will determine the winner of the 2019 NXS championship, will be held next Saturday, November 16, at Homestead.

PHOTO NGOTS FRIESEN resizeStewart Friesen, driver of the #52 Halmar International Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the Lucas Oil 150 (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) 

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 at ISM Raceway
□ Friesen charges from back to front to take the win; will transfer

Phoenix, AZ, Nov 8/19 (NASCAR Wire Service): Stewart Friesen thought he had led the first lap of Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150 at ISM Raceway in Phoenix. He was wrong. After suffering a penalty for jumping the start of the race, however, Friesen rallied to lead the lap that counted most — the last one — and secured a spot in next weekend’s Championship 4 race with the second NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victory of the season and his career.

“We’ve got a badass piece for next week, too,” promised Friesen, who will try for the title next Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Friesen will have to contend with defending series champion Brett Moffitt, who locked himself into the Championship 4 after finishing ninth in the second stage of Friday night’s race. Ross Chastain also gained a berth in the title race with a 14-place finish, and two-time series champion Matt Crafton claimed the final spot after finishing sixth — and edging pole winner Austin Hill (13th) — by six points for the final spot.

After the fifth and final caution of the evening for a wreck in Turn 3 involving Sam Mayer and John Hunter Nemechek, Friesen charged into the lead before past Brandon Jones and Ben Rhodes and led the final 44 circuits. It was no cakewalk, though. With five laps left, Jones made a last-ditch run to the inside of Friesen but couldn’t get past the No. 52 Chevrolet. Friesen pulled away on the last two laps to beat Jones to the finish line by .860 seconds.

“It was a great race car,” said Friesen, who was sent to the rear of the field after getting to the stripe ahead of Hill, who spun his tires on the initial start. “We were able to pass ‘em all, pass ‘em all clean,” said Friesen. “Great race car, great race team. We’ll all celebrate tomorrow, and then it’s game on.”

Moffitt came to Phoenix with the series lead and was first to clinch a spot in the final race. But the driver of the No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet, who won last year’s championship driving for Hattori Racing Enterprises, had two objectives on Friday. My main concern for the day was getting us locked into the owner points as well,” Moffitt said. “We got both jobs done today.”

Chastain finished with a 13-point margin over Hill, who lost ground to Crafton on the Lap 107 restart and never recovered. Chastain didn’t declare for the Truck Series championship until nine races into the season but qualified for the Championship 4 nevertheless. “Man, this is crazy — a dream come true though,” Chastain said.

Crafton came to Phoenix nine points behind Hill but made up most of the deficit with 17 points combined in the first two stages. “I didn’t have anything to lose and everything to gain,” Crafton said. “And that’s the way I drove it from the green flag to the checkered flag.”

Hill joined fellow Toyota driver Tyler Ankrum on the sidelines for the final race. Ankrum suffered early damage and finished 26th, six laps down. Hill simply didn’t have any juice on the restarts.

Chandler Smith finished third, followed by Rhodes and Grant Enfinger. Crafton, Harrison Burton, Johnny Sauter, Chastain and Moffitt completed the top 10.

Click HERE for the results of the NGOTS race at Phoenix.

The final race of the season -- which will determine the winner of the 2019 NGOTS championship, will be held next Friday, November 15 at the Homestead speedway.

PHOTO WEC SHANGHAI REBELLION#1 REBELLION RACING / CHE / Rebellion R-13 -Gibson - - 4 Hours of Shanghai - Shanghai International Circuit (Joao Filipe / AdrenalMedia)

FIA World Endurance Championship ‘4 Hours of Shanghai’
□ Rebellion Racing takes memorable win at 4 Hours of Shanghai

Shanghai, China, Nov 10/19 (FIAWEC): Rebellion Racing dominated the LMP1 category at today’s 4 Hours of Shanghai – round 3 of the FIA WEC – with their Rebellion R13–Gibson.

It marks only the fourth time in the WEC’s eight-year history that a non-Hybrid car has been classified as overall winner, after what was an interesting and intense battle throughout thanks to the LMP Success Handicap system introduced this season to ensure closer competition. Today marked the second WEC victory in the books for the Swiss Rebellion Racing team with Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato finishing more than one minute ahead of World Championship leaders Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley in the No.8 Toyota TS050 HYBRID car. It was Senna's 10th win in the series and is notable as he has now taken victory in all four classes of competition, the only driver to achieve this distinction.

The third podium spot was taken by the No.7 Toyota Gazoo Racing entry driven by José María López, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway – the trio’s race having been compromised following a drive-through penalty for a jump start. Britain’s Team LNT ended the race in fourth and fifth position as the No.5 Ginetta G60-LT-P1 AER reached the chequered flag one spot ahead of the No.6 sister car, these two also having had to serve a drive-through penalty for the same infringement as the No.7.

The highly-competitive LMP2 category saw British-based squad JOTA take its first victory of Season 8 in the No.37 ORECA 07 Gibson of Antonio Felix da Costa, Roberto Gonzalez and Anthony Davidson. It marked the first WEC win for JOTA since Spa in 2015 and also the first win for Goodyear tyres – a remarkable achievement considering it is only the third event since the American tyre company joined the WEC with its new range of LMP2 tyres.

Meanwhile, it was a home celebration for Jackie Chan DC Racing today as its trio of Gabriel Aubry, Ho-Pin Tung and Will Stevens claimed the runner-up position after a strong outing in another ORECA. Today’s result promotes Jackie Chan DC Racing to second in the LMP2 standings, just two points behind category leaders Racing Team Nederland who finished today’s race fifth following a drive-through penalty for contact with another car.

Porsche have been promoted to winners of the LMGTE Pro category at today’s FIA WEC 4 Hours of Shanghai after the No. 51 AF Corse 488 GTE Evo was disqualified following post-race technical checks. Ferrari was set to take its first ever LMGTE Pro victory on Chinese soil but the No. 51 car was in breach of the WEC Technical Regulations after the minimum ground clearance was found lower than 50mm. Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen’s victory in the Porsche 911 RSR sees Porsche GT Team extend its points lead over Aston Martin by 17 points in the standings.

The class runner-up in Shanghai was the No.91 Porsche 911 RSR with Gimmi Bruni and Richard Lietz at the wheel. The No.97 and No. 95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage AMR cars finished third and fourth respectively while the No. 71 AF Corse entry rounded out the top five.

In LMGTE Am, it was another dream race weekend for British team TF Sport as Jonny Adam, Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc stormed to their second consecutive LMGTE Am race victory in the No.90 Aston Martin Vantage AMR. TF Sport’s dominant win sees the team take the lead in the overall LMGTE Am standings – three points ahead of AF Corse.

The No.98 Aston Martin trio of Darren Turner, Paul Dalla Lana and Ross Gunn made an incredible comeback from lap one contact to take the third podium spot.

Next up in the FIA WEC calendar is the 8 Hours of Bahrain (12-14 December).

For the full results from Shanghai click HERE.

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