Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch take critical hits to Chase hopes

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Carl Edwards’ chances of winning this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup may be done for after he suffered a broken wheel hub on his No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford late during Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.

Edwards was relegated to a 35th place finish as a result, but even more damaging was a drop from fourth in the standings to 11th, 65 points behind Chase leader Matt Kenseth. With seven races remaining in the post-season, he would appear to be pretty much out of the title picture.

“We struggled all day,” said Edwards. “Our plan was to get off-sequence at the end and I thought we might have a shot at making a top-three or four out of it, but something broke in the left-rear.

“I don’t know what it was, but I don’t think it was any fault of my guys. They did a great job. [Crew chief] Jimmy [Fennig] did a great job working hard on it all day, but we just weren’t fast. We needed to hang on for a solid finish and something broke, so that’s tough.”

Also joining him in the hard-luck club at Dover was Kurt Busch, who had a sub-par result for the second weekend in a row after finishing 21st on Sunday.

Busch’s pit crew received an overhaul going into Sunday’s race as four crewmen from Richard Childress Racing’s NASCAR Nationwide Series camp joined the Furniture Row Racing team. But on Lap 156, “The Outlaw” radioed his team to say that he felt a wheel coming loose on his No. 78 Chevrolet.

“A loose wheel did us in,” Busch said. “We were way off at the start, but after the first pit stop, we made some good changes to the car and started to make a move. But once again we had an issue with a loose wheel and that put us a couple of laps down. And with the lack of cautions we couldn’t make it up.”

Busch is in almost as big a hole as Edwards now as the Chase moves to Kansas; Busch sits 55 points off of Kenseth in ninth place in the standings.

Power, Newgarden, Dixon fastest in first of 2 IndyCar practices today at Barber Motorsports Park

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Will Power was fastest in Friday’s first of two IndyCar practice sessions at Barber Motorsports Park.

Power covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in 1:07.5987 minutes at 122.488 mph in the 45-minute practice session.

Even though he spun off the course during his session, Phoenix winner Josef Newgarden still managed to be second-fastest (121.919 mph at 1:07.9141 minutes), followed by Scott Dixon (121.296 mph/1:082627), Max Chilton (121.251 mph/1:08.2882) and Ed Jones (121.215 mph/1:09.5692).

Sixth through 10th were Simon Pagenaud (121.208 mph/1:08.3122), Jordan King (121.113 mph/1:083661), Graham Rahal (121.059 mph/1:08.3964), St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais (121.029 mph/1:08.4131) and rookie Zach Veach (121.014 mph/1:08.4216).

Here’s the full speed chart:

Incidents:

* Early in the session, Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi ran off the track and into the grass, striking a small sign, but was able to get back on-track. However, Rossi was only able to complete 10 laps, relegating him to 20th-fastest in the 23-car field.

* Moments later, it appeared the rear brakes locked up on Newgarden heading into Turn 5, spinning him into the gravel trap. He was able to get going and returned to the pits for service and was back on-track with less than four minutes remaining in the session.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The second practice session of the day will begin at 3:50 p.m. ET. A third practice will take part Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET. The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

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