Late cautions, lack of pace lead to ho-hum day for JGR

Leave a comment

Denny Hamlin’s solid Daytona Speedweeks – a win in the Sprint Unlimited, a win in the Budweiser Duels, and a runner-up in the Daytona 500 – had many observers believing the Joe Gibbs Racing driver could keep it up at Phoenix, a place that has been good to him in recent years.

But instead, Hamlin’s struggles on restarts plagued him late during Sunday’s The Profit on CNBC 500 and the Virginia native faded to a 19th-place result after running in the Top 10 with around 60 laps to go.

Altogether, it was a so-so day for JGR, who was led by Kyle Busch (pictured) in ninth and had Matt Kenseth finish 12th in his return to PIR following the fall 2013 race that effectively finished his championship hopes.

Bearing a colorful Skittles livery on his car, the “rainbow-powered” Busch was one of many that were unable to hang on speed-wise to the likes of winner Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and the Team Penske tandem of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.

“[We] just didn’t have the speed that we were looking for, especially getting off the corner,” Busch said afterwards. “[Crew chief] Dave [Rogers] and the guys made the car better during the day, but we just didn’t have the handle to run with the leaders.

“We had a seventh to 10th-place car today and brought it home in ninth. Looking forward to Vegas next weekend.”

Rogers himself echoed his driver’s comments, saying that Harvick and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team “put on a clinic” in Sunday’s event.

“We just didn’t have the speed to run with them,” he said. “We just couldn’t get our car balanced as well as they could.”

Kenseth was looking good for a Top-10 finish after making a green-flag stop with 71 laps remaining, but a few laps later, the caution came out and he was put a lap down.

He would get the wave-around to return to the lead lap but was 14th on the restart with 61 laps to go. In the remaining laps, Kenseth could only do so much.

“We had everything going okay and looked like we were maybe going to sneak out a fifth or sixth or seventh – somewhere in there – then the caution fell right after we pitted and put us a lap down,” he said.

“We [got the free pass] and then we were in traffic the rest of the day. I just couldn’t negotiate traffic. My car would be so aero-tight, I couldn’t really do anything. Just couldn’t really go forward.”

The scene now shifts to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where Kenseth is the defending champion. Kenseth claimed four of his seven wins last season on 1.5-mile tracks such as LVMS.

Get your motor running: American Flat Track’s new season premieres Sunday on NBCSN

Photos courtesy American Flat Track
Leave a comment

If you like racing two-wheel style, make sure you catch the debut of a new multi-year TV broadcast deal featuring the American Flat Track motorcycle racing series on NBCSN.

The 18-round series debuts this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN with the season-opening race that was held at Daytona International Speedway on March 15.

Going forward, all 18 rounds of the series will be televised on NBCSN in highly-coveted weekend afternoon programming slots without two weeks of each event.

Last season, AFT drew nearly two million viewers on NBCSN with regular primetime coverage on Thursday nights.

This season, the one-hour, tape-delayed telecasts will be part of NBCSN’s regular weekend programing, following or preceding coverage of NASCAR, INDYCAR and Pro Motocross.

AFT is now in its 65th season, with two distinct classes: powerful, twin-cylinder rides in the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines division, and the competition in the 450cc AFT Singles division.

“We are very excited to kick-off our second season of AFT on NBCSN,” NBC Sports Group Senior Director of Programming Jeff Macaluso. “The 2017 season provided us with some incredible racing and showed us how passionate the riders and fans are of this historic sport.

“The move to weekends this year, around other marquis motorsports properties, is sure to raise the level even higher.”

Here’s the 2018 AFT schedule on NBCSN:

Round Track, Location Track Type Premiere Time (ET) Time (PT)
1 Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL TT Sun, 3/25 2:00 PM 11:00 AM
2 Dixie Speedway, Woodstock, GA Short Track Sat, 4/14 5:30 PM 2:30 PM
3 Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, TX Half-Mile Sun, 5/06 4:00 PM 1:00 PM
4 Calistoga Speedway, Calistoga, CA Half-Mile Sun, 5/20 12:00 PM 9:00 AM
5 Turf Paradise, Phoenix, AZ Mile Sat, 5/26 3:00 PM 12:00 PM
6 Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA Mile Sun, 6/03 2:00 PM 11:00 AM
7 Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, IL Mile Sat, 6/09 5:00 PM 2:00 PM
8 Red Mile, Lexington, KY Mile Sat, 6/16 12:00 PM 9:00 AM
9 Remington Park, Oklahoma City, OK Mile Sat, 6/23 5:00 PM 2:00 PM
10 Allen County Fairgrounds, Lima, OH Half-Mile Sat, 7/07 2:30 PM 11:30 AM
11 Weedsport Speedway, Weedsport, NY Short Track Sun, 7/15 6:00 PM 3:00 PM
12 Buffalo Chip Campgrounds, Sturgis, SD TT Sat, 8/11 12:30 PM 9:30 AM
13 Black Hills Speedway, Rapid City, SD Half-Mile Sat, 8/18 2:00 PM 11:00 AM
14 Peoria Motorcycle Club, Peoria, IL TT Sat, 9/01 3:00 PM 12:00 PM
15 Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, IL Mile Sat, 9/22 2:30 PM 11:30 AM
16 Williams Grove Speedway, Mechanicsburg, PA Half-Mile Sun, 9/23 5:00 PM 2:00 PM
17 Canterbury Park, Shakopee, MN Mile Sun, 10/14 5:00 PM 2:00 PM
18 Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, NJ Mile Sun, 10/21 2:00 PM 11:00 AM


Follow @JerryBonkowski