Race Weekend Review- August 20, 2017

Written by George Webster on .

VICS Pocono Power 17-08-20

Verizon IndyCar Series ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway
Power comes back from a lap down to score a convincing win

Long Pond, PA, August 20, 2017: When Will Power was running a lap down at the back of the field after pitting on lap 66 to replace a damaged rear win few observers would have given him much chance of winning the 200-lap race - but win he did, after a masterful display of driving prowess to hold off a charging Josef Newgarden in the closing laps. It was Power’s third win of the 2017 season.

"What a crazy day for us. I mean, we had a really strong car”, said Power. “The Verizon Chevrolet was getting back to the front, and then suddenly, boom, the wing broke. Lucky I didn't hit the wall. We went a lap down, and then I was thinking to be smart and anything can happen. You get your lap back and get through the field, and that's exactly what we did.”

With the race only having three cautions and with the pit stop cycles coming about every 25 laps, most of the pit stops were made under green and this shuffled the order because the cars came into the pits on different laps over a five-lap or so period. Many, many lead changes as a result.

Scott Dixon was strong early on and led the most laps in the race, 51. Alexander Rossi, who finished close behind Newgarden for third, led for 44 laps and Power for 34 laps – but Power led the important ones, the final 12 laps of the race. Simon Pagenaud was fourth ahead of Tony Kanaan and Dixon who finished fifth and sixth respectively.

Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe ran well early in the race, even taking the lead for three laps at lap 84 but he made a couple of mistakes – sliding too far past the limits of his pit box – which put him back in the field and, later, tapping the wall in Turn 1 and losing more positions. This left him mired back in the middle of the pack and then, coming into the first turn he and JR Hildebrand touched wheels and both crashed out of the race.

After this race, Newgarden continues to lead the championship points standings – by 18 points over Dixon (494 to 476) with Helio Castroneves in third place with 472 points.

The next Verizon IndyCar race will be held next Saturday evening, August 26th, at the revitalized Gateway Motorsports Park which is located alongside the Mississippi River opposite St. Louis, MO. The last Indy car race was held there in 2003 under the auspices of the CART series.

MENCS BMS VictoryLane 08192017

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway
Hat Trick win #3: Kyle Busch completes his Bristol hat trick by winning the Cup race

Bristol, TN, Saturday, August 19, 2017: Kyle Busch topped off his Bristol weekend with a solid win in the Cup race, making it a hat trick with his wins in the Camping World Truck Series race on Wednesday and in the Xfinity Series race on Friday evening. After he took the checker, Busch jumped up onto the roof of his car (a no-no) and waved a broom at the crowd to metaphorically symbolize his ‘sweep’ of all three Bristol race.

This was his second triple win here, having won all three races back in 2010. Like him or hate him, you have to acknowledge that Busch is a phenomenon in modern-day NASCAR racing.

Erik Jones turned out to be his main opposition and this young Cup rookie led much of the early going and he came close to winning the race, being forced to settle for second, 1.4 seconds behind Busch at the finish. Jones has been a protege of Busch and of Joe Gibbs Racing. Last year he was driving in the Xfinity Series in a JGR Toyota. This year he moved up to the Cup in a second Furniture Row Toyota – Furniture Row being a satellite team associated with JGR. Once it became known that Matt Kenseth wold not be back with the JGR team next year, it was no surprise when they announced that Jones would be retuning to JGR to drive the No. 20 car next year. So, while Jones is not, technically, a teammate of Busch’s, he is in a way – and Busch more or less acknowledged this teammate status when interviewed after the race. Jones won four Xfinity races last year but he faded a bit in the playoffs; this year he continues to be one of the most promising of the new batch of young drivers. Had he won here – and he may yet win one of the two remaining races before the end of the regular season – we would be talking about his chances of winning the Cup championship in his rookie year.

Jones started from the pole and he led 49 of the first 125 laps before he was passed by Busch for the lead. Busch had not qualified very well for this race, starting back in 18th place but, once the race started, he was moving forward and he took the lead on lap 115 of the 500-lap race.

After that, Jones and Busch duelled for the lead but, in the final run, Jones was able to keep up with Busch but he could not get past him. Busch led the final 56 laps to win the race. Jones had led 260 laps to Busch’s 156.

Denny Hamlin finished in third place ahead of Matt Kenseth who had looked like a contender for the win, leading for 11 laps mid-race. Kurt Busch had a good run late in the race, finishing in fifth after running back in about tenth place most of the way. Kyle Larson had qualified on the front row and, for the first half of the race, he was a strong challenger for Jones, leading for 70 laps in the first quarter of the race. After that he faded back a bit and he ended up finishing in ninth place.

The 2017 Cup season got off to a slow start for Busch. Prior to his win at Pocono in July he had not won since the 2016 Indianapolis race last summer and pundits were talking about the possibility of Busch not even qualifying for the season-end playoffs, In reality, he has had a lot of good results this year and his accumulation of points should have been good enough for him to make it into the playoffs – and, once there, what had gone before is of little importance regardless of all the excited speculation from the commentators. Now that he has two wins – and with his dominant weekend at Bristol – his status has to have changed from a championship hopeful to one of the drivers most likely to win the championship. And if he does win a second Cup championship this year, don’t expect him to be humble about it.

For many years this August night race at Bristol was an absolute sell-out but now, in the era of declining fan support, there were a few empty seats – perhaps 80-90 percent of the seats were filled by race fans on Saturday night.

Next weekend is an off weekend for the Cup series. The next MENCS race will be the traditional Southern 500 held on Sunday, September 3rd at Darlington Raceway.

NXS VictoryLane BMS 08182017

NASCAR XFINITY Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway
Hat Trick win #2: Kyle Busch wins from the pole despite speeding penalty

Bristol, TN, Friday, August 18, 2017: Kyle Busch was obviously the dominant force in this week’s Xfinity race, starting from the pole, leading 186 of the race’s 300 laps and winning despite having to drop to the back of the field when he was penalized and sent to the back of the field on lap 89 for speeding in pit lane. Despite the penalty, he won both of the first two Stages as well as the race win. Busch holds the record for most wins in this series and this was his 91st win on his quest to round out his statistics to 100 wins. It was his fifth win so far this year – in a series where he is limited to ten starts all season long.

Daniel Suarez, another Cup driver, was second and he gave his JGR teammate a good run for the win, finishing 1.2 seconds behind Busch and leading 24 laps during the race. Elliott Sadler started from the pole and he finished in third place in a JR Motorsports Chevrolet, the highest-placed Xfinity championship eligible driver. Cup driver Ty Dillon was fourth while Justin Allgaier was fifth in another JRM entry.

Allgaier had qualified in the second row and he ran very strongly in the first half of the race, leading for 75 laps and finishing second to Busch in each of the first two Stages.

William Byron who drives in this series for JRM, won five times in the truck series last year and he is slated to take over the No. 5 Hendrick Cup car from Kasey Kahne next year. He has scored three wins so far this year but here at Bristol he had a tough weekend, qualifying 19th and finishing in 22nd place. Don’t rule him out of the race for the championship just yet - those three wins will stand him in good stead in the playoffs.

The next Xfinity Series race will be held next Sunday, August 27th at Road America.

NCWTS VictoryLane 08162017

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway
Hat Trick win #1: Kyle Busch wins from the pole despite speeding penalty

Bristol, TN, Wednesday, August 16, 2017: Kyle Busch started off his wining weekend at Bristol by winning the pole for the truck race and then dominating the first half of the race, winning both Stages. But, when he pitted during the caution after the end of the second Stage at lap 110 of the 200-lap race, he was penalized and sent to the back of the field before the restart. For any other ordinary mortal this would have been a crushing blow costing him the race win but Busch was able to rebound and clamber his way back up towards the front, using a high line that no one else dared attempt – he was back in the lead by lap 167 – and he led the rest of the way to the checker.

At the start of the race, Busch led the first 61 laps past the end of the first Stage before Austin Cindric took the lead coming off the Stage 1 restart and led for three laps. He, in turn was overhauled by Matt Crafton who led for the next 40 laps, Cindric and Crafton having pitted before the end of the Stage to gain this illusory advantage – but, just before the second Stage ended at the 110-lap mark, Busch regained the lead. Mind you, given that he is a Cup carpetbagger who cannot run for the championship in this series, winning a Stage is only good for bragging rights. But who ever said that little Kyle did not value bragging rights?

After Busch was sent to the back after the second Stage pit stops, Crafton regained the lead for another 50 laps until Busch was able to work his way from the back to the front and pass Crafton for the lead and the win.

Crafton did finish second, less that a second behind Busch. John H. Nemechek was third, Grant Enfinger fourth and Ben Rhodes fifth. As for the budding stars in this series, Christopher Bell finished seventh, Cindric was ninth and Chase Briscoe was 12th. Stewart Friesen, who hails from Niagara-on-the-Lake ran well early on but, in the end, after getting caught up in a crash early in the race, he had to retire with overheating after completing 103 laps.

This was Busch’s third win in the truck series this year and, cumulatively, his 49th victory in 140 starts.

The start of the race was delayed by rain but it was run later that same evening.

The next NCWTS race will be held in two week’s time at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park road course on Sunday, September 3rd.

Pintys Riverside-17-08-20

NASCAR Pinty’s Series Bumper to Bumper 300 at Riverside International Speedway
Labbé’s Bump and Run gives him the win over Lacroix

Antigonish, NS, Sunday, August 20, 2017: Kevin Lacroix was dominant in this race, leading the most laps (251 of 300) , but, on the final corner of the final lap on this high-banked, third-mile oval, Alex Labbé nudged him aside and he stole the win. Lacroix was left having to settle for second place.

It was no surprise when Lacroix returned the favour, ramming into Labbé and sending him spinning on the cool-down lap – and afterwards storming away without further comment. Perhaps we will hear of some consequences for this fit of pique on Lacroix’ part – or for the bump that started it – after the NASCAR officials ‘review the tapes’.

On Saturday, rain washed out qualifying and forced NASCAR to postpone the running of the race until Sunday. D.J. Kennington started from the pole after the starting lineup was decided on the basis of practice times. He finished third behind the two combatants. Mark Dilley was fourth and Andrew Ranger was fifth.

Labbé extended his lead in the championship standings (at least for now), with 432 points to Lacroix’ 406. Cayden Lapcevich, who finished in ninth place here is in third place with 388 points while Kennington is just two points further back in fourth place.

The next NPS race will be held on Sunday, August 3rd at the Canadian Motorsport Park road course.

Photo Credits

Verizon IndyCar: Chris Jones/VICS
MENCS: Sean Gardner/Getty Images/NASCAR
NXS: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images/NASCAR
NCWTS: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images/NASCAR
NPS: Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR

Box Score Results

Results of VICS at Pocono
Results of MENCS at Bristol
Results of NXS at Bristol
Results of NCWTS at Bristol
Results of NPS at Riverside

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