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NASCAR National Series News & Notes – Sonoma Raceway & Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Cup Series returns to California’s Sonoma Raceway

It’s been nearly two years since the NASCAR Cup Series has competed at Sonoma Raceway due to the pandemic cancelling the event last season, but with the ease of restrictions this year, NASCAR has been given the green flag and will return to the California road course this Sunday, June 6 for the Toyota / Save Mart 350 at 4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Sonoma Raceway marks the third of seven road course events on the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule this season – Daytona RC (2/21), COTA (5/23), Sonoma (6/6), Road America (7/4), Watkins Glen (8/8), Indianapolis RC (8/15) and Charlotte ROVAL (10/10). The first two road course events have garnered two different winners. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell captured his first career NASCAR Cup Series win at the Daytona Road Course and then just a few weeks ago Hendrick Motorsport’s star Chase Elliott secured his first win of 2021 in the inaugural race at the Circuit of The Americas.

NASCAR has competed on two different configurations at Sonoma Raceway. The 2018 race marked the final race for “The Chute”, which was introduced in 1998 and shortened the track to 1.949 miles and eliminated the famous Carousel. The Carousel, which will be in use again this year, returned to the track layout in 2019 and brings the length of the track to 2.52 miles. Sonoma Raceway is known for its hilly, multi-elevational layout, that provides several high-speed sections for competitors to navigate the 12-turn course. This weekend’s Cup race will be 90 laps (226.8 miles) and will be broken up into the three stages. The first two stage will be 20 laps each and the final stage will be 50 laps.

Sonoma Raceway, originally known as Infineon Raceway, has hosted 31 NASCAR Cup Series races dating back to the inaugural event on June 11, 1989. The first Cup race at Sonoma was won by Ricky Rudd driving a Buick for car owner Kenny Bernstein. Rudd dominated the race leading 61 of the 74 scheduled laps.

Sonoma Raceway’s 31 NASCAR Cup Series races have produced 18 different pole winners and 19 different race winners. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon leads the series in both poles (five: 1998, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005) and wins (five: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2006). Hendrick Motorsport’s driver and most recent Coca-Cola 600 winner, Kyle Larson, leads all active drivers in the series in poles at Sonoma with three (2017, 2018, 2019). Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. leads all active drivers in wins at Sonoma with three (2013, 2018, 2019).

With some pandemic restrictions still in place, this weekend’s starting lineup for the Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway was determined by Metric Qualifying and as a result Hendrick Motorsport’s teammates Kyle Larson will start on the pole and Chase Elliott will join him on the front row.

JGR’s Martin Truex Jr. looks for third straight Sonoma victory

This weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. has the opportunity to win his third straight NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway and tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon for the series-most consecutive wins at the famous track in California. Gordon set the record of most consecutive wins at Sonoma from 1998-2000.

“I’ve been waiting for a while to go back to Sonoma and try to get the three-peat,” Truex said. “Sonoma is such a fun track and it’s a great part of the country. It’s beautiful and always great weather. I can’t wait to get there and see all of our fans in California that we haven’t seen in quite a while.”

More impressively for Truex, is he has won the past two races on two different configurations. The 2018 race marked the final race for “The Chute”, which was introduced in 1998 and shortened the track to 1.949 miles and eliminated the famous Carousel. The Carousel, which will be in use again this year, returned to the track layout in 2019 and brings the track length to 2.52 miles. Truex and Ricky Rudd are the only two drivers to win NASCAR Cup Series races on both layouts.

In all, Truex has made 14 series starts at Sonoma posting three wins, four top fives and five top 10s. Truex leads the series in wins this season with three victories (Phoenix, Martinsville, and Darlington), but due to a 29th-place finish last weekend at Charlotte, he will start this weekend’s race at Sonoma in 19th.

Road Ace: Chase Elliott an early favorite on any road course

When it comes to road racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott is instantly mentioned as one of the favorites to watch, and with good reason. Elliott has won five of the last six road course races the NASCAR Cup Series has competed at; including the most recent at Circuit of The Americas a few weeks ago. Six of the 2020 series champion’s 12 career Cup wins have come on road courses (Watkins Glen, 2018, 2019; Charlotte ROVAL, 2019, 2020; Daytona RC, 2020; Circuit of The Americas, 2021).

With his latest foray into Victory Lane at Circuit of The Americas, Elliott has locked up his sixth NASCAR road course win and with it ties a bevy of NASCAR historic figures – Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, Ricky Rudd and Rusty Wallace – for third on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series road course wins list. If Elliott were to win this weekend and get this seventh victory, he would move solely into third all-time in Cup road course wins, just one win shy of NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart in second with eight victories.

All-Time Top Road Course Winners in the NASCAR Cup Series and the Track They Won At

Road Course Winners Total RC Wins Sonoma Watkins Glen Riverside Daytona RC Charlotte RC COTA Bridgehampton
Jeff Gordon 9 5 4 0 0 0 0 0
Tony Stewart 8 3 5 0 0 0 0 0
Bobby Allison 6 0 0 6 0 0 0 0
Chase Elliott 6 0 2 0 1 2 1 0
Richard Petty 6 0 0 5 0 0 0 1
Ricky Rudd 6 2 2 2 0 0 0 0
Rusty Wallace 6 2 2 2 0 0 0 0

Elliott has made four series starts at Sonoma posting one top five and two top 10s.

Playoff Bubble: Reddick, Buescher expand points cushion at Charlotte

Just a few weeks ago the NASCAR Cup Series driver standing’s ‘Playoff Bubble’ was red hot with drivers swapping the last few eligible postseason spots each week, but a lot has happened since then; including several big points days for Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick and Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher who are looking pretty secure on points at the moment. But residing along the Playoff cutline exposes you to the chance of a new winner bumping you out of contention.

Following the NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond in April, both Tyler Reddick and Chris Buescher were outside the top 16 in the driver standings with a mountain of points ahead of them. Since then, both of drivers have methodically placed consistent finishes each week and slowly climbed their way back into contention. By Darlington in May, both drivers had earned their way back into the top 16 in points. Then after top-10 finishes by Reddick and Buescher in the Coca-Cola 600 last weekend, Reddick sits 15th in the Playoff outlook with a stout 61 points up on the postseason cutline and Buescher is 16th with a comfortable 55 points up on the cutoff.

Just outside the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff cutoff sits Wood Brothers Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto in 17th, 55 points back from Buescher. In the NASCAR Cup Series last outing at Sonoma, DiBenedetto ran lights out; he started 19th and raced his way up to a top-five finish (fourth). The impressive finish sparked a 10-race run last season that he scored six top-10 finishes in and earned his way into the Playoffs for the first time in his career.

Sonoma could once again be the catalyst for DiBenedetto to right the ship and position himself for a run to the Playoffs. Reddick will be making his series track debut this weekend at Sonoma Raceway and Buescher’s best Sonoma finish is 12th back in 2018.

Beach Boys: Several drivers enthused to head home to California

‘I wish they all could be California’. … drivers?

As the NASCAR Cup Series heads West to California, several of the competitors are looking forward to racing in front of their home state fans. Over NASCAR’s history 450 different drivers with their home state recorded as California have competed in at least one NASCAR national series race. Of the 450 Californian drivers in NASCAR, 43 have put up at least a win in one of the three NASCAR national series. In total, there are five drivers from California entered this weekend at Sonoma Raceway in the Toyota / Save Mart 350.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick from Bakersfield, California, leads all Californians in NASCAR national series wins with 119 victories – third-most in NASCAR all-time behind Kyle Busch (217) and Richard Petty (200). Harvick is the last driver from California to win at Sonoma Raceway taking the checkered flag back in 2017.

Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Cole Custer, is from Ladera Ranch, California. Custer will be making his series track debut at Sonoma this weekend and is looking for his first win of the season.

Wood Brothers Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto is from Grass Valley, California and has had Sonoma circled on the schedule since the series last visited the track in 2019. In his last start at Sonoma, DiBenedetto showcased his skills; starting 19th and scoring a top-five finish (fourth).

Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Kyle Larson hails from Elk Grove, California and thanks to Metric Qualifying the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet will be starting from the pole for the fourth consecutive time at Sonoma Raceway. Larson has won the pole the last three times the series competed at Sonoma but has yet to translate that to a victory. His best finish at his hometown track is 10th in 2019.

Finally, Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick is from Corning, California. Reddick has been hot as of late putting up seven top-10 finishes in the last nine races of the season. Reddick will be making his series track debut at Sonoma this weekend.

Road Course Ringers worth a watch on Sunday

Road courses in NASCAR require a special set of skills that not everyone has.

A driver’s talent is constantly tested throughout each and every lap on a road course, to not only navigate the many different turns, but also wrestle the stockcar that glides underneath their fingertips. As of late, several Cup competitors have learned to master the balance of road racing competition and earn their way into Victory Lane. Nine former Cup road course winners are entered in this weekend’s Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway, led by Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott with six road course victories.

Two drivers in the Joe Gibbs Racing camp looking to not see Elliott get his seventh road course win this weekend are Martin Truex Jr., who leads the series among active drivers in wins at Sonoma with three, and Kyle Busch, who also has multiple Sonoma wins (two). Both drivers have four Cup Series road course wins to their career and are looking for their fifth win this weekend. Truex is going for his third consecutive victory at Sonoma this weekend. Busch last won at Sonoma in 2015 and finished runner-up to Truex on the 2.52-mile configuration in 2019. Also, don’t count out their Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin, who has a road course win at Watkins Glen in 2016, and Christopher Bell, who grabbed his first Cup career win earlier this season at Daytona Road Course.  Hamlin finished fifth in 2019 at Sonoma. Bell will be making his series track debut at Sonoma this weekend.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, like series driver standings leader Denny Hamlin, is still looking for his first win of the 2021 season and Sonoma could be the place he gets it. Harvick is the most recent NASCAR Cup Series winner at Sonoma not named Truex; hoisting the trophy in 2017.  And in his 19 career starts at the track, he has posted one win, six top fives and 10 top 10s (tied with Kurt Busch for most top 10s among active drivers). Harvick finished sixth at Sonoma in 2019.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch the only other former road course winner entered this weekend that has won at Sonoma Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series (2011). Busch is still looking for his first win of the season but has found success on the road courses finishing fourth at Daytona RC earlier this year. Busch finished 13th at Sonoma in 2019, the last time the series competed at the track.

Active Cup Drivers With Road Course Wins & Where

Active Drivers Road Course Wins Tracks/Seasons
Chase Elliott 6 COTA (’21), Charlotte RC (‘20, ‘19), Daytona RC (‘20), Watkins Glen (‘19, ‘18)
Martin Truex Jr 4 Sonoma (2019, 2018, 2013), Watkins Glen (2017)
Kyle Busch 4 Sonoma (2015, 2008), Kyle Busch (2013, 2008)
Kevin Harvick 2 Sonoma (2017), Watkins Glen (2006)
Christopher Bell 1 Daytona RC (2021)
Ryan Blaney 1 Charlotte RC (2018)
Denny Hamlin 1 Watkins Glen (2016)
Joey Logano 1 Watkins Glen (2015)
Kurt Busch 1 Sonoma (2011)

 

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Ben Rhodes to make Cup debut for Spire Motorsports at Sonoma – NASCAR Camping World Truck Series star and ThorSport Racing’s driver Ben Rhodes will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut this weekend at Sonoma Raceway for Spire Motorsports in the No. 77 Chevrolet. Rhodes, 24, from Louisville, Kentucky, is currently second in the Camping World Truck Series driver standings after posting two wins on the year; including the Daytona Road Course. Rhodes will be paired with crew chief Kevin Bellicourt this weekend.

Rhodes will become the fifth different driver making a start in the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet this season; joining Justin Haley (12 starts), Josh Berry (one), Stewart Friesen (one) and Jamie McMurray (one). The best finish by the No. 77 car this season was an eighth-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500 by driver Jamie McMurray.

NASCAR Championship Weekend Returns to Phoenix Raceway in 2022The Valley of the Sun and Phoenix Raceway will once again host NASCAR Championship Weekend, November 4-6, 2022. Phoenix Raceway first hosted the sport’s pinnacle events in 2020 and is scheduled to crown four champions in three days for the second consecutive season this fall, November 5-7, 2021.

The 2022 NASCAR Championship Weekend will again feature culminating events in the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the ARCA Menards Series West.

“It’s an honor to be named the host track for the NASCAR Championship Weekend for a third consecutive season,” said Phoenix Raceway President Julie Giese. “We have the greatest fans in motorsports, and they’ve rallied behind this event, showcasing to the world why the Phoenix metropolitan area and the entire state of Arizona is an elite sports and entertainment destination. We’re looking forward to an incredibly successful event this fall, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to do the same in 2022.”

FOX’s Mike Joy to go racing in Sonoma – FOX broadcaster Mike Joy will trade his microphone for a steering wheel when he competes in the Historic Trans Am Series at Sonoma Raceway, June 5-6.

Joy will take to the track in the No. 89 1966 Ford Mustang built and raced by Jim Whelan and Pete Dock.  The car is owned by Ken Epsman of Saratoga and prepared by McGee Motorsports at Sonoma Raceway; Joy raced it previously in the Monterey Historics and won a Historic Trans Am race in the rain at Lime Rock.

“While I love broadcasting the NASCAR Cup Series each week for FOX Sports, my heart is with the great Historic Trans Am racers that I followed in 1966-72,” said Joy. “That these exact cars have been so lovingly restored AND are being raced hard today is simply amazing.  This adds a great “throwback” aspect to Sonoma’s NASCAR weekend, and I’m very honored Ken has asked me to run the car.”

The Historic Trans Am Series hits the track on Saturday morning with practice beginning at 9 a.m., qualifying at 10:30 a.m. and a 30-minute timed race at 1 p.m. Sunday’s Historic Trans Am action will kick off with warm up laps at 9:15 a.m. followed by another 30-minute feature at 10:30 a.m. prior to the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup Series main event at 1 p.m.

Laps for Charity on NASCAR Friday – Speedway Children’s Charities will host Laps for Charity on Friday June 4, 2021 at Sonoma Raceway. The event allows participants to take part in the first ever Laps for Charity during NASCAR weekend. This lead-and-follow session will consist of three spirited laps across the Start/Finish line and through the Carousel on the 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course. Participants and passengers must be 18 years of age to participate. Passengers must be from the same household (limited to 3 passengers – seatbelts required for each participant/passenger). NASCAR tickets are not required to run Laps For Charity on 6/4.

The event will be held with strict COVID-19 protocols in place, including social distancing and facial coverings.

Cost is $225 per car and all proceeds benefit the Sonoma Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. There are 8 sessions available between 10:20 a.m. and 12:40 p.m.  For questions and additional information, please contact Cheri Plattner at cplattner@sonomaraceway.com.

Several Tracks Have Restrictions Lifted / Fan Capacity Increased – This week several tracks around the country announced updated restrictions and protocols.

  • Daytona International Speedway’s UNOH FANZONE/Pre-Race Access Returns. Spectator Restrictions Lifted and Event Protocols Updated; We are excited to announce that the fan experiences which make visiting DAYTONA truly unforgettable are back, beginning with our upcoming Coke Zero Sugar 400 weekend, August 27-28!
  • Phoenix Raceway to Fully Open Grandstands for NASCAR Championship Weekend; Championship Weekend to Crown 4 Series Champions in 3 Days, Nov. 5-7
  • Fully Open: Frontstretch Seating, Camping & Talladega Garage Experience Among a Host of Options Available for Fans During Talladega Superspeedway NASCAR Playoff Weekend, Oct. 3-4
  • Michigan International Speedway to Fully Open Grandstands and Camping for NASCAR FireKeepers Casino 400 Race Weekend on Aug. 20-22; New Holland Agriculture North America and Henry Ford Health System to sponsor Xfinity, ARCA races
  • Martinsville Speedway to Fully Open Grandstands for NASCAR Playoff Race Weekend on Oct. 30-31; Track Hosting Penultimate Races of NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series & NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Season
  • Richmond Raceway to Fully Open Grandstands & Fan Grounds for NASCAR Playoff Race Weekend on Sept. 10-11; 75th Anniversary Celebration of Richmond Raceway will Mark 30th Anniversary of Fall Racing “Under the Lights”
  • Iowa Speedway to Fully Open Grandstands for ARCA Menards Series Race on July 24.

 NASCAR Xfinity Series

Left and right turns at Mid-Ohio for the Xfinity Series

This weekend the NASCAR Xfinity Series will take on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio for the B&L Transport 170 on Saturday, June 5 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

The race will be 75 laps (169.35 miles) with Stage 1 ending on Lap 25 and Stage 2 ending on Lap 50.

This weekend’s starting lineup was determined by Metric Qualifying and as a result, Austin Cindric will start on the pole Saturday with rookie sensation Ty Gibbs starting with him on the front row. Harrison Burton, Jeb Burton, Justin Allgaier, Brandon Brown, Brandon Jones, Jeremy Clements, Riley Herbst and Justin Haley will make up the starting top 10. This will be the fifth time this season of 13 races that Cindric has led the field to the green.

This weekend’s race at Mid-Ohio will be the eighth Xfinity Series race at the track. The first was in 2013 and was won by AJ Allmendinger, then driving for Team Penske.

Most recently, road course ace and Team Penske driver Austin Cindric has won at Mid-Ohio from the pole position in 2019.

Of the seven races run at the 2.258-mile road course, all seven have had different winners. In 2018, Cindric became the youngest pole winner at the track at 19 years, 11 months, 9 days. Alex Tagliani is the oldest pole winner at 42 years, 9 months, 28 days in 2015.

Cindric went on to become the youngest race winner in 2019, too, at 20 years, 11 months, eight days. Sam Hornish Jr. is the oldest winner at 38 years, 1 month and 10 days.

Only two races have been won from the pole position (2017, 2019) and Allmendinger still holds the race record from the inaugural Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio in 2013 at 77.724 mph.

At the series’ most recent race at the track in 2019, there were 38 cars, 10 lead changes, eight leaders, six cautions for 17 laps and 22 cars on the lead lap at the conclusion. There were 27 cars running at the finish and Cindric led 46 laps en route to victory. The margin of victory was 3.780 seconds.

Clements has run every race at Mid-Ohio in the Xfinity Series, making him the only driver to compete in all seven events.

Kings of Road Courses

Austin Cindric has 11 career NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and four of those have come on road courses, including the last time the circuit visited Mid-Ohio in 2019.

Cindric captured his road course Xfinity wins at Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio, Daytona Road Course and Road America. But Mid-Ohio has seemed to be his playground in the last two races.

In his two career starts, Cindric has sat on the pole both times and led a combined 105-of-150 laps.  He finished second in 2018 after leading 59 laps after getting passed by Justin Allgaier during the final caution. Cindric led 46 laps two years ago to win by more than three seconds.

Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger has six career NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and four of those have come on road courses, as well, including the inaugural race at Mid-Ohio in 2013.

His first career win came at Road America in 2013 from the pole position. He led 29 laps. His other two wins were at the Charlotte Road Course in 2019 and 2020. In 2013 at Mid-Ohio, Allmendinger led a race-high 73 laps of 94 total en route to victory. Most recently, in 2019, Allmendinger finished third at Mid-Ohio.

Bubble Trouble: Who’s in, out in Xfinity Playoffs?

With Ty Gibbs’ victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, drivers fighting for their spot in the Playoffs luckily didn’t lose another chance to make their way in by a new winner.

Currently, there are five drivers locked into the postseason with wins – Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier, AJ Allmendinger, Jeb Burton and Myatt Snider.

That means there are seven spots left in the field to either make it in with a win or on points. After the race at COTA two weeks ago, Harrison Burton jumped to sixth in the standings, making him the highest ranked driver without a win this season, taking the spot from Daniel Hemric who had occupied that for the entire season.

But bad luck hasn’t stayed away from Hemric and the No. 18 team with a 29th-place finish at COTA and a 28th-place finish last week at Charlotte due to an incident late in the race. He still has a 137-point cushion between himself and the Playoff cutline. Hemric’s recent skid end this weekend, he has made two starts at Mid-Ohio posting an average finish of 2.5.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones jumped ahead of Michael Annett after Charlotte and is in 11th while Annett is in the final transfer spot right now in 12th position. Brandon Brown is right behind Annett in 13th – the two separated by 17 points. Jones has made five starts at Mid-Ohio posting a best finish of 10th in 2019. Brown made series track debut at Mid-Ohio in 2019 and finished 24th.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Driver Playoff Outlook Following Charlotte:

 

Rank Driver Points Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Austin Cindric 520 12 3 5 20 In On Wins
2 Justin Allgaier 387 12 2 1 11
3 AJ Allmendinger 412 12 1 2 7
4 Jeb Burton 383 12 1 0 5
5 Myatt Snider 309 12 1 0 5
6 Harrison Burton 436 12 0 1 1 161
7 Daniel Hemric 412 12 0 5 5 137
8 Justin Haley 348 11* 0 2 2 73
9 Jeremy Clements 329 12 0 0 0 54
10 Noah Gragson 323 12 0 2 2 48
11 Brandon Jones 298 12 0 1 1 23
12 Michael Annett 292 12 0 0 0 17
13 Brandon Brown 275 12 0 0 0 -17
14 Riley Herbst 252 12 0 0 0 -40
15 Ryan Sieg 216 12 0 0 0 -76
16 Landon Cassill 206 12 0 0 0 -86
17 Tommy Joe Martins 195 12 0 0 0 -97

 

Note: The (*) symbol by the number of Starts indicates a driver missed a race but is still eligible for the Playoffs due to receiving a waiver.

Another driver outside the Playoff cutoff to watch is Riley Herbst, in the Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 98 Ford. Last season, the No. 98 team made the Championship 4 round of the Playoffs with driver Chase Briscoe, and this season Herbst sits 14th, 40 points back from the Playoff cutoff. Herbst will be making his series track debut at Mid-Ohio this weekend.

Xfinity Sunoco Rookie Update

After another win for rookie Ty Gibbs last weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, he has once again taken the lead from JR Motorsport’s Josh Berry in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.

Gibbs has banked two wins this season at the Daytona Road Course and Charlotte and he’s only run in six of the 13 Xfinity Series events so far this season.

 

Sunoco Rookie of the Year

     
Rookies Points Awards
Ty Gibbs 238 3
Josh Berry 227 4
Ryan Vargas 110 4
Jade Buford 20 0
Jordan Anderson 0 0
Sam Mayer 0 0

 

Berry is holding onto second place in the rookie standings with the most awards won at four and 227 points, 11 points behind Gibbs.

In 10 starts so far this year, he has one win at Martinsville Speedway and three top fives and five top 10s. He’s led 151 laps and has an average start of 15.2.

JD Motorsport’s Ryan Vargas is still sitting in third in the rookie standings with 110 points. In 11 starts so far this season for JD Motorsports, Vargas got his best finish of 16th at Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend.

Jade Buford joined the rookie party in the standings with 20 points. In 12 starts so far this season, Buford has a best finish of 15th at Circuit of the Americas two weeks ago.

He still sits ahead of Jordan Anderson and Sam Mayer who have both not yet made a start in the series in 2021.

Josh Berry running for Jordan Anderson Racing

Jordan Anderson Racing announced that Josh Berry will drive the team’s No. 31 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio this weekend.

Berry, who is running a part-time schedule for JR Motorsports and got his first career win at Martinsville Speedway earlier this season, is a 10-year veteran of the JR Motorsports Super Late Model program. He is also the 2020 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series National Champion.

Berry is using this opportunity to get more road course experience and continue to improve the Jordan Anderson Racing Xfinity Series program.

“I have made 16 Xfinity starts throughout my career – all on ovals. This is a great opportunity to get in another great Chevrolet race car fielded by Jordan Anderson Racing and add a road course to my resume. After the win at Martinsville this year with JRM, I am excited to see what the rest of the season has in store, and any opportunity to gain more experience helps us build for the future,” said Berry in a team press release.

The No. 31 will carry sponsorship from Anderson’s longtime partner Bommarito Automotive Group.

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Jade Buford competed on American Ninja Warrior: NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate, Jade Buford, who is an avid climber and outdoor enthusiast was featured as a competitor on the challenging courses of the popular television show, American Ninja Warrior. The season 13 premiere aired on Monday, May 31 at 8 p.m. ET. Buford has competed on the show twice before and was eliminated after the third of four obstacles. Buford made it through to the second round of qualifiers on speed and will compete in the next round on June 7.

Preston Pardus will have dad crew chief this weekend: Preston Pardus has had his dad in his ear before in his SCCA Spec Miatas for the past eight years, which included two championships but, this weekend will mark something new for the father-son duo. For the first time, Dan, Preston’s dad, will serve as his crew chief in the Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio for DGM Racing.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

John Hunter Nemechek puts Toyota back in Victory Lane

After Toyota dominated the opening portion of the season by winning the first seven races, Chevrolet and Ford took their turns in Victory Lane at Darlington and the Circuit of the Americas. But at Charlotte last weekend, Toyota came roaring back into the winner’s circle with Kyle Busch Motorsports driver John Hunter Nemechek behind the wheel.

The win was Nemechek’s third of the year and the sixth for KBM. It gives him a solid 44-point advantage over Ben Rhodes for the points lead and a shot at the regular season championship (and the spoil of 15 additional Playoff points that come with the title).

After the off-week, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will head to Texas Motor Speedway, where Nemechek has yet to net a top five – but he also hasn’t raced there in a truck since 2017. His best finish came in his second start there (summer of 2016), when he was seventh. Overall, he has an average finish of 15.2 in five starts there between 2015 and 2017.

Ten down, five to go in regular season

With five races remaining in the regular season, not too much has changed from a week ago. John Hunter Nemechek, Ben Rhodes, Sheldon Creed and Todd Gilliland are still the only drivers to have all secured spots in the Playoffs by virtue of wins. That currently leaves six spots filled by points.

Five-time Texas winner Johnny Sauter still holds the 10th and final spot based on points, now just two points ahead of Austin Wayne Self, who is the first driver on the outside looking in.

Another previous Texas winner, Matt Crafton, dropped to seventh on the Playoff grid, but is still comfortably in position to advance to the postseason.

The remainder of the field currently in the Playoff picture (Austin Hill – moved up to third in points, Zane Smith – sixth, Stewart Friesen – eighth, Carson Hocevar – ninth on the Playoff grid) are all looking for their first win at Texas Motor Speedway.

Although Grant Enfinger is currently ninth overall in points, he’s not eligible for the Playoffs after missing the race at the Daytona Road Course early in the season.

Hill has nine starts at Charlotte with a pair of top-five finishes, including a runner-up result last year.  Smith has two starts, both last season, and finished third in his second race. Friesen has a trio of top-five and four top-10 results, including a best of second in the first race there in 2018. Sunoco Rookie points leader Hocevar will be making his track debut this weekend.

Camping World Truck Series taking weekend off before heading to Texas

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has the weekend off while the Cup Series is in Sonoma and the Xfinity Series takes on Mid-Ohio. But the trucks will return to action next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway for the SpeedyCash.com 220 on Saturday, June 12th (1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The race will be the first in a double-header that day, with the NASCAR Xfinity Series wrapping up the day at 4 p.m. ET.

Johnny Sauter and Kyle Busch are tied for five wins apiece at Texas in the trucks. Matt Crafton is the only other active driver with multiple wins there with two. In fact, only two other active drivers have wins in the trucks on the 1.5-mile track – Kevin Harvick and Sheldon Creed, who won the most recent Texas race last fall.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.

Triple Truck Challenge Presented by Womply: With his win last week, John Hunter Nemechek became the third different driver to win a Triple Truck Challenge Presented by Womply bonus this season, which ended at Charlotte. Sheldon Creed won the opening round of the Triple Truck Challenge this season at Darlington Raceway, netting a $50,000 bonus. And Todd Gilliland followed that up by winning the second leg of the bonus program last weekend at Circuit of the America.

Sunoco Rookie Update: Coming out of his second-place showing Charlotte, Carson Hocevar continued to extend his lead over Chandler Smith to stay atop the Sunoco Rookie standings, now holding a 53-point advantage (264 to 211). Smith had a very respectable showing himself, finishing sixth – but only Hocevar scored stage points between the two. Hailie Deegan is in third with 179 points after finishing 13th in Charlotte, while Chase Purdy has 106 points in fourth (he finished 34th at COTA) and Kris Wright is in fifth with 58 points. Wright has only competed in six of the 10 races this season, most recently at Charlotte where he was 23rd at the conclusion of the race.

— NASCAR —