Posted: 10:45 pm Saturday, March 4th, 2017
By Doug "Fireball" Turnbull
Kyle Busch wins, car sins in Xfinity race
After Cup drivers Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick won the first two stages of the Rinnai 250, Kyle Busch won the race on pit road after the final stops and easily won this race for the second year in a row. His No. 18 Toyota struggled with rear grip most of the race, but crew chief Scott Graves, working with Busch for the first time, made a final adjustment that kept Busch out front.
But the NOS Toyota failed post-race inspection, as NASCAR said the front right and left heights were too low. They will announce penalties later in the week. Busch’s win – his 87th in the NXS – is enough to draw the ire of fans sick of Cup drivers dominating NASCAR’s AAA series. The winning car’s illegality will fan the flames even more.
The Georgia drivers struggled in the event. Brandon Jones piloted his backup car from the 30th spot to 14th. Ryan Sieg had a very pedestrian 22nd-place run. Garrett Smithley ran as high as 20th, but an unscheduled stop for a cut tire pushed him back to 27th. Chris Cockrum struggled mightily to 34th, scraping the wall at one point and drawing post-race ire from Keselowski, who was chasing down Busch, for being in the way as a lapped car. AMS is a tough track and it showed for the hometown gang.
The track’s trickiness also showed for Blake Koch, who got caught up in Ty Dillon’s lap 2 spin and wrecked out to a last-place finish. That’s two wrecks in two weeks for the 2016 playoff driver. And Justin Allgaier also wrecked for the second week in a row, getting a piece of the Dillon wreck, cutting a tire later on, and finishing laps down in 30th.
Dirt racer Bell dominates Camping World Truck Series day cap
Drivers from dirt backgrounds like Christopher Bell thrive at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Bell won the pole and led 99 of 130 laps, ceding the lead at one point to team owner Busch. Bell fell back late in the race, but late cautions caught him up and the 22-year-old held off veteran Matt Crafton for his third-career win.
Dawsonville’s Chase Elliott cut a tire early in the race, but came back to finish 5th. However, the truck was too low in post-race inspection, so there is a chance the finish could be encumbered. His status as a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup driver will probably draw even more attention and ire to the situation.
Cedartown’s Korbin Forrister got damage in an early wreck, but the No. 5 team repaired it. Then late in the race, he turned Jordan Anderson on the front straightaway and the No. 12 truck wrecked in the grass. Forrister was 22nd. Wendell Chavous finished a decent 20th and Austin Hill recovered from an unscheduled stop for a loose wheel to finish 18th in his first start of the year.
Last year’s winner John Hunter Nemechek cut a tire and retired from the damage on lap 79, finishing 29th.
Moffitt on race-to-race basis with Red Horse Racing
Brett Moffitt has shown he can be competitive in NASCAR, having won in the NCWTS a year ago. But he does not know how long he will be able to drive Red Horse Racing’s No. 7 Toyota. The team lacks sponsorship for both his and Timothy Peters’ No. 17. Peters has driven for the team for years and is RHR’s primary driver.
Moffitt tells WSB that he is unsure how long RHR can run him on the track without a sponsor. He sat on the sidelines most of 2016, after running a large chunk of the 2015 Cup Series schedule for Michael Waltrip Racing and Front Row Motorsports.
Elliott leads Cup Happy Hour
Chase Elliott may only start 11th in his second-career MENCS race at AMS, but he does have speed in his No. 24 Chevy. Elliott was a tick faster in Saturday morning’s final Cup practice, barely besting Keselowski and Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch.
Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick was only 27th, though the No. 4 team may have been experimenting with setups. They ran 63 laps in practice. Austin Dillon led all drivers with 75 laps run and he drove the No. 3 to 17th-quick. Jimmie Johnson, the AMS winner the last two years, was 23rd.
Unadilla’s David Ragan hit the wall and damaged the No. 38 Ford in qualifying. He was 28th-fastest in Happy Hour. Peachtree City’s Reed Sorenson was 34th.
Hear me on pit road for PRN
I am working for Performance Racing Network this weekend, having covered pit road already for Friday qualifying and Saturday’s NXS race. I’ll also be there for the MENCS race. Our WIX Filters pre-race show is at 1:30 and the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 sees a 2:30 green flag. You can listen on GoPRN.com, the new PRN app, on Sirius/XM channel 90, or on your local affiliate. Enjoy the race!