Kyle Busch wins Nationwide race at Dover, goes for weekend sweep Sunday

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In the spirit of the casino that abuts the backstretch of Dover International Speedway, Kyle Busch rolled the dice and doubled up with a win in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Buckle Up 200 Presented by Click It Or Ticket.

Busch’s win Saturday made him 2-for-2 for the weekend, having dominated in his victory Friday night in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

It was Busch’s 134th career win across all three NASCAR pro series, and his 66th in the Nationwide circuit (Friday’s win was his 39th in the Truck series).

It was also Busch’s third win of the season in the NNS.

“The last 30, 40 laps there, I was just holding on, trying to hold those guys at bay,” Busch told ESPN after the race. “This car was pretty awesome. I didn’t think it was (in practice), but it was.”

Busch will go for a weekend sweep and his 30th Sprint Cup win in Sunday’s FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks. Busch is the only driver to have ever accomplished a weekend sweep in NASCAR history, having done so at Bristol in August 2010.

“We’ll see how it goes tomorrow, but we unloaded fast and I think we’ll be alright (Sunday),” Busch said.

Busch’s victory prevented former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano from earning a record-tying fifth consecutive NNS race win at the all-concrete Monster Mile – in his Monster Energy-sponsored Toyota Camry, coincidentally.

“I felt if we had clean air, we would have won the race today,” Logano said. “We just weren’t able to get up there, so we got beat. It’s kinda frustrating. It’s going to take me another couple years to get back in this position again, so we’ll have to start again in the fall (race at Dover). … Unfortunately, we didn’t get into victory lane this time, but we’ll try again next time.”

Trevor Bayne finished a season-best second, followed by Logano, Matt Kenseth and Chase Elliott in fifth.

“This Nationwide Series is so tough this season that you have to be on your game every single lap, and I felt we did that this weekend, but it stinks to be that close,” Bayne said. “You want to get greedy and just ask for that much more.”

Sixth through 10th were Kyle Larson, Brian Scott, Ty Dillon, Elliott Sadler and Regan Smith, who is still atop the Nationwide Series season points standings.

Elliott Sadler is second in the standings, four points behind Smith, followed by former points leader Chase Elliott (-22), Bayne (-27) and Dillon (-27).

 

Here’s the unofficial result of Saturday’s Buckle Up 200 Presented By Click It Or Ticket:

1 Kyle Busch

2 Trevor Bayne

3 Joey Logano

4 Matt Kenseth

5 Chase Elliott

6 Kyle Larson

7 Brian Scott

8 Ty Dillon

9 Elliott Sadler

10 Regan Smith

 

11 Chris Buescher

12 Brendan Gaughan

13 Ryan Sieg

14 Landon Cassill

15 James Buescher

16 Dakoda Armstrong

17 Joe Nemechek

18 Jeff Green

19 Paulie Harraka

20 Jeremy Clements

 

21 Timmy Hill

22 Mike Bliss

23 Joey Gase

24 Derrike Cope

25 Josh Reaume

26 Dylan Kwasniewski

27 Ryan Reed

28 J.J. Yeley

29 Tanner Berryhill

30 Jeffrey Earnhardt

 

31 Cale Conley

32 Mike Harmon

33 Josh Wise

34 Matt Carter

35 Tommy Joe Martins

36 Todd Bodine

37 Morgan Shepherd

38 Ryan Ellis

39 Matt Dibenedetto

40 Blake Koch

 

We’ll be back with more updates shortly.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Ricky Brabec wins 2017 Sonora Rally (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Ricky Brabec wins Sonora Rally. Photo: Sonora Rally
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Honda rider Ricky Brabec, who won a stage at this year’s Dakar Rally, has captured the victory in last week’s Sonora Rally, held March 21-24 in Sonora, Mexico.

He led all four of the special stages in a start-to-finish romp for victory.

Despite Joan Barreda and Steve Hengeveld’s injuries that ruled them out of the rally, Brabec still had to focus on the job at hand.

“You are really racing against yourself out here, against the terrain,” he said in a release.  “I’m much more familiar now with open up a course than I was back in January at Dakar when I had to do it for the first time.”

Fellow Honda riders Mark Samuels and Andrew Short completed the podium. Samuels won the Sonora Rally’s Dakar Challenge, which presents a free opportunity for a rider to enter the 2018 Dakar Rally.

“The hard work of getting to Dakar is still ahead of me, but I will do everything in my power to make America proud,” Samuels said.

Polaris ATR rider Dave Sykes won the UTV class, with Eric Pucelik and Mike Shirley winning the Cars class.

On background, the Sonora Rally is the only event of its kind in North America. The rally raid format requires street legal vehicles to transit along untimed “liaison” sections and timed “special stages” over multiple days, with the lowest combined time winning the event. Now in its third year, the Sonora Rally realizes the vision of founders Scott Whitney and Darren Skilton to bring a world class rally raid event to these shores (2016 recap).

Brabec’s winning ride is captured in the below video, via Race-Dezert.

Meanwhile, because photos do this event more justice than words do, those are below (All Photos: Sonora Rally)

Webber: Alonso may not see out the season with McLaren

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Mark Webber never had the easiest time in Formula 1, particularly his latter years as the number two driver at Red Bull Racing to Sebastian Vettel.

That being said, he was never on the verge of leaving it directly until he announced his plans to move to Porsche’s LMP1 Team, where he raced for three years from 2014 to 2016 before retiring at the end of last season.

But the Australian pondered whether Fernando Alonso might not be able to see out the season with McLaren Honda, if the team and manufacturer’s woes continue.

“Alonso may not stay with the team,” Webber told Belgian outlet Sporza. “Maybe Stoffel (Vandoorne) soon will have a new teammate.”

“I could see it happen that Alonso does not drive out the season. He is very frustrated. Fernando doesn’t start for a sixth or seventh place; he wants to fight for the podium.”

Webber added that for Vandoorne’s sake, starting in a team with lower expectations might not be the worst thing for him. It may allow the Belgian rookie to learn without extra pressure, since the onus is focused on the team.

For Alonso though, time is of the essence for what’s left of his career in F1. This is his last season under contract with McLaren Honda and he made no secret of his frustration for how well he drove at Melbourne, yet the car wasn’t up for it.

“Well the race was good, one of my best races driving like that,” Alonso told NBCSN post-race. “The car’s uncompetitive and to be close for a point was a nice surprise. It was good fuel saving as well. I was surprised to keep it in the points. A suspension (issue) stopped us from getting this point.

“I feel very well prepared, driving at the best of my career, and I’m fighting for one point. That’s disappointing and frustrating. But so long as I’m driving at my best, it’s a problem for the team… not me.”

Rosberg, Button soak up their first weekends out of F1 (PHOTOS)

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Since 2008, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have won seven World Championships. The two drivers that won titles in that period not named Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel – Nico Rosberg (2016) and Jenson Button (2009) – were both enjoying their first weekends not on a Formula 1 grid as full-time drivers for the first time in more than a decade this weekend as the 2017 season commenced at Melbourne’s Albert Park.

Rosberg made a visit to preseason testing in Barcelona a few weeks ago for his first appearance as spectator since winning the World Championship. But he watched from home this weekend with his family and posted a few thoughts during both qualifying and the race:

We’re now quite familiar with Rosberg’s home TV set and coffee table. This is the first time Rosberg has been out of an F1 race since 2005, the year he won the first GP2 championship.

Button meanwhile paid a visit to California for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana… once he got off his couch. He checked in with seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson at Fontana.

Do you guys know if there's anything good to watch on tele this weekend? @storm_and_rogue_pomskies

A post shared by Jenson Button (@jensonbutton_22) on

Given McLaren Honda’s struggles, Button is probably smart to have got out when he did. He’d been on the grid since 2000, save for a couple races out in 2005 when BAR-Honda was barred from competing after being disqualified from the San Marino Grand Prix.

Meanwhile for Rosberg, he watched as Mercedes was unable to win the season opener for the first time since 2013.

DJR Team Penske wins three of four Supercars races at Melbourne

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DJR Team Penske has won its first Virgin Australia Supercars Championship races over the weekend during the Australian Grand Prix, with Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard taking the first three wins in the four-race, non-championship race weekend.

While Penske’s teams have long succeeded in North America and have had some international success, notably a Formula 1 win at the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix with John Watson, success has thus far eluded them since arriving in Supercars two years ago as majority shareholders of Dick Johnson Racing.

McLaughlin had the honor of beating Coulthard to the first win in race one of the weekend, before Coulthard doubled up with wins in races two and three. The first two races were one-two finishes, though, and McLaughlin said he’d received a text from Roger Penske in the wake of the victory.

“I got a text from Roger straight away and they’re all pretty happy,” McLaughlin told Supercars.com.

“They’re thanking me but I should be thanking them for giving me the opportunity.”

The first race was marred by this incident between Nick Percat and Lee Holdsworth, Percat having lost his brakes entering Turn 1 and crashing into Holdsworth, who was an innocent bystander.

But once the race resumed, McLaughlin held off Coulthard for the victory.

Coulthard led from start-to-finish in race two after his second straight pole position. He did the same in race three, albeit not in a Penske 1-2 as Jamie Whincup came second for Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodore. McLaughlin was third.

A left-front puncture stopped Coulthard making it three in a row in the fourth race, and with steering damage, McLaughlin was resigned to 17th. Chaz Mostert took the win his Supercheap Ford, ending his own winless spell that dated to August of 2015.

Also of note from the weekend, ex-IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro in her Team Harvey Norman Nissan Altima finished 13th in race one, her best finish yet in her first full season in the series.

The Supercars series is back in action at Symmons Plains Raceway on April 7-9.  Coulthard sits second in the series championship, 51 points back of Whincup’s teammate, Shane van Gisbergen.