Tough night for Kansas native Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray on home track

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Last night, Clint Bowyer was hoping to cap off what had been a stellar week for him off the track with a victory in front of his fellow Kansans.

In the days leading into the 5-Hour Energy 400, the Emporia, Kansas native not only earned himself a multi-year extension with Michael Waltrip Racing but also found out that he and his wife, Lorra, were to become parents in the fall.

And it seemed that he had another good omen for Saturday as his mother was brought in to wave the green flag for the race.

But things went poorly instead for Bowyer, who finished three laps down in 23rd place.

“Well, that was disappointing and certainly not how I wanted to finish the race at my home track,” Bowyer said in a brief post-race statement.

“We just couldn’t seem to get the handling right tonight on our No.15 Cherry 5-hour Energy Toyota. Just a disappointing end to a great week.”

Starting 23rd, Bowyer made early headway and moved into the Top 15. But while battling Marcos Ambrose on Lap 47, Bowyer got loose off of Turn 2 and spun out down the backstretch.

Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were able to evade Bowyer, who came to a stop without hitting anything. However, that incident would put him two laps down to the leaders and he was rendered a non-factor for the rest of the 267-lap event.

Bowyer will now shift focus to the Sprint Showdown on Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The top two finishers in the Showdown will move on the Sprint All-Star Race the next night.

Another “local” driver, Jamie McMurray, will also look to bounce back on All-Star Weekend after a tough night in the Heartland.

McMurray, who hails from Joplin, Missouri and considers Kansas his home track on the Sprint Cup circuit, went into the Turn 3 wall hard on Lap 149.

Running fourth at the time, McMurray’s car quickly caught on fire after the impact. When it came to a stop on pit road, some of his crewmates on the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing team helped their driver get out of the smoking Chevrolet.

“I’m not 100% sure what happened,” said McMurray, who was credited with 39th place. “I entered Turn 3 and heard a small pop, then just lost all the steering and got into the fence and knocked the oil-lines off and had a little fire.

“Not sure, because we didn’t have any tire issues all weekend.  So, not sure if it was a bad tire or if we ran over something, but a disappointing end to a really strong run for our McDonald’s Chevy.”

Meyer Shank Racing wins second consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona to begin GTP era

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Grand Touring Prototype era began just as the previous one ended as Meyer Shank Racing’s Acura captured its second consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona with star Tom Blomqvist emphatically starting and finishing the race.

The No. 60 ARX-06 won the 24-hour endurance classic at Daytona International Speedway by 4.190 seconds over Filipe Albuquerque of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport, giving Acura a sweep of the top two spots.

The Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-LMDh cars took the next two spots with Renger van der Zande (the No. 01) and Earl Bamber (No. 02) as four of the nine new GTP cars finished on the lead lap within 12 seconds of each other and four more finished the race – quashing the prerace hand-wringing of mass failures for the highly technical cars in the debut of the hybrid prototype premier category.

“Amazed is the right word,” Honda Performance Development president David Salters said when asked about reliability. “These are sophisticated cars. It’s not easy. It’s a testament to each group that they did a really good job. It was a fight all the way through the race. I didn’t expect that at all.”

There were major problems for the manufacturer newcomers Porsche Penske Motorsport and BMW M Team RLL, whose two pairs of cars all finished at least a dozen laps down or more because of major mechanical problems in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener.

But there were no such failures for Acura despite the manufacturer skipping any endurance testing with the new LMDh car. Salters said his

It’s the third Rolex 24 at Daytona victory for co-owner Mike Shank, who won his first in 2012.

Just as he capped the 2022 season by winning the Petit Le Mans season finale in the No. 60 Acura to clinch the final championship of the DPi division for MSR, Blomqvist was behind the wheel again for his third overall victory in IMSA.

“That was crazy,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “I knew we had a fantastic car. I’ve been working hard. Unbelievable. Massive, well done, everyone being part of this project and worked together on this project. What a car we’ve built.

“I was just a bit nervous. The 10 was definitely second fastest car, but we held them off.”

It was the second consecutive Rolex 24 victory for MSR’s trio of Blomqvist, Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves, who were joined this year by Colin Braun (winning his first Rolex 24 overall).

Castroneves joined select company in winning the Rolex 24 in three consecutive years (his first win was with Wayne Taylor Racing in 2021 — also in an Acura, which now has three consecutive Rolex 24s). Peter Gregg won the Rolex 24 in 1973, ’75 and ’76 (the 1974 race wasn’t held because of the oil crisis).

Castroneves and Pagenaud are entering their second consecutive year as teammates for Meyer Shank Racing’s Dallara-Hondas in the NTT IndyCar Series.

“Can you believe that?” Castroneves told Lee. “Big props to everyone. Everyone did an amazing job. Everybody worked so hard together. We got it! Another one. I can’t believe it. This is absolutely a dream come true.”

The four-time Indy 500 winner led the team in his signature fence-climbing celebration afterward — just as he had when he finished MSR’s victory in last year’s Rolex 24 and when he won the 2021 Indy 500 for the team.

“It’s always fun to climb the fence with Helio,” said Pagenaud, who drove the second-to-last stint before Blomqvist closed it out: “The competition as amazing. It was tough out there. So much fun. Hope you had as much fun as we had. I’m going to savor this one.”

Winners in other classes were the No. 55 ORECA 07 of Proton Competition (which triumphed on a last-lap pass by James Allen on Ben Hanley), WeatherTech Racing’s No. 79 Mercedes in GTD Pro, Heart of Racing’s No. 27 Aston Martin in GTD and AWA’s No. 17 in LMP3.