Race Weekend Central

Pace Laps: Kyle Larson, Ross Chastain Come Up Short at Darlington

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: Kyle Larson Dominates, But Brad Keselowski Wins

Brad Keselowski‘s pit crew stepped up when it mattered on Sunday night’s (Sept. 2) Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, getting the No. 2 out first ahead of Kyle Larson on the final pit stop. Keselowski then held off Larson on the final restart with 19 laps to go to win his first Southern 500 and first NASCAR crown jewel race.

“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my pit crew,” Keselowski said. “We were running second, and that last stop, they nailed it and got us out in the lead… Then it was all about me hitting my marks and not screwing it up.”

The race was a part of NASCAR’s Throwback Weekend, and Keselowski won driving a Rusty Wallace throwback scheme.

“How cool is this winning in Rusty Wallace’s throwback car, the Southern 500, Throwback Weekend?” Keselowski said.

The win was owner Roger Penske’s first at Darlington since 1975 with Bobby Allison.

Larson was the dominant car until the final run. He led 284 laps and won two stages en route to his third-place finish. But once Keselowski got in the clean air, Larson had nothing for him.

“I’m really happy with the car they brought to the track this weekend,” Larson said. “I’m happy about it, just wish we could’ve gotten a win… [I] needed to be the control car on that restart.”

Kyle Busch lost a few points to Kevin Harvick (fourth) after finishing seventh Sunday night, but Busch still leads the standings by 39 heading into the cutoff race. Next week, the Cup Series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the regular season finale. – Michael Massie

XFINITY Series: Ross Chastain Proves Worth, Crashes Out Late

For years, people have seen Ross Chastain‘s talent, outperforming subpar equipment. In Saturday’s race at Darlington, he proved he deserves more opportunities.

It was almost a perfect weekend for Chastain, who scored his first-career pole in his first opportunity in elite equipment for Chip Ganassi Racing. The No. 42 car led all 45 laps in stage one and also notched a playoff point for winning stage two. Meanwhile, the action picked up in stage three.

Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski closed the gap on Chastain late in the going, and with 35 laps to go, the No. 98 car got loose underneath the No. 42 car, slamming Chastain in the wall. Chastain wouldn’t let Harvick get away with ease and turned him into the outside the wall.

Following the incident, Harvick had some unnecessary remarks toward Chastain.

“You’ve got a really inexperienced guy in a really fast car and made a really bad move, and then wrecked me down the back straightaway and hooked me to the right,” he said. “That’s probably the reason that he’ll never get to drive many of them again.”

By winning the pole, leading 90 laps, winning a pair of stages and outrunning top Cup drivers, Chastain proves he belongs in top-notch equipment. Next week, he will return to an underfunded JD Motorsports, where he will likely score a top 15, though he likely won’t have a shot at the victory. But the following two weeks at Las Vegas and the playoff-opener at Richmond, he will be back behind the wheel of the No. 42, and book it now, he wins one of those races.

Keselowski won the race — his first victory of any kind at Darlington. Cole Custer finished second but lost four points on Justin Allgaier, who picked up his 12th consecutive top-10 finish. He leads Elliott Sadler by 16 points for the regular season championship. – Dustin Albino

Camping World Truck Series: Brett Moffitt Almost Fully Funded

It’s hard to believe that a four-time winner this season who’s currently racing for the championship could have any unsold races, but that’s exactly the case for Brett Moffitt. The No. 16 team has struggled for sponsorship throughout the year and has managed to piece together enough funding to remain on track, though there were still a couple of unknowns remaining throughout the playoffs.

According to a Catchfence.com report, AISIN, a company that has backed the team multiple times throughout the season, has signed on to sponsor Moffitt for the second race in the Round of 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.

“AISIN has been such a huge supporter of ours this season, and it’s huge to have them step up at Texas later this fall,” said Moffitt. “We got off to a good start in the playoffs last week at Canada, so hopefully we’ll be in the mix by the time we get to Texas. They’ve done so much for this team this year, and really since Shige started this program.

“It’s a good feeling to have given them two wins this year. We had a big group from AISIN with us in Victory Lane at Michigan, so that was really special to celebrate with them. Hopefully, we can repay the favor again because it means so much to have had their support this year.”

That leaves just one race, the final one in this first round, at Talladega Superspeedway open for Moffitt. Following a third-place finish at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, the driver of the No. 16 Toyota currently sits second in the championship standings, just six markers behind leader Johnny Sauter. – Beth Lunkenheimer

Formula One: Lewis Hamilton Capitalizes on Sebastian Vettel’s Stumble

Ferrari had it all to play for in Italy. They locked out the front row in Monza, but the Ferrari bad luck reared its ugly head yet again as Lewis Hamilton‘s main threat to win in Sebastian Vettel spun off the side pod of Hamilton in the second chicane.

Throughout the race, Kimi Raikkonen led, but it was clear that Hamilton was not giving 100 percent and was waiting for the end of the race to take the lead and speed into the distance. This race was a crucial one in the championship for Vettel. The Ferrari engine power made him the favorite Monza, and it took a mistake like he made on lap one for the win to slip through his grasp.

Now Hamilton is 30 points ahead of Vettel as we hit the final stretch of the 2018 season. All Hamilton needs to do is stay consistent and wait for a mistake from Ferrari, which has happened on multiple occasions this season, to run away with his fifth title.

The next two races do favor Ferrari. Singapore is Vettel’s best track and Mercedes’ worst. A tight street circuit makes overtaking very difficult so if Vettel can win the pole and take the lead he can speed away for a victory. Its a difficult spot for Vettel, who needs Hamilton to run into bad luck just to get back into the Championship battle, let alone win it. After Singapore, we go to Russia, which is another power circuit that favors Ferrari. If Vettel is to win his fifth title, it is going to be an epic end of the season. – Drew Mongiello

Sports Cars: Watkins Glen Touring Car Classes Round-up

Last weekend, Pirelli World Challenge finished up its 2018 schedule.  While GMG Racing and R. Ferri Motorsport wrapped up the upper-level titles, the lower classes had plenty to fight for.

In TCR, the battle was on between RealTime Racing’s Ryan Eversley and Bryan Herta Autosport’s Michael Lewis.  In Race No. 1 Saturday, Eversley led flag-to-flag from the pole to win with Lewis right on his tail.  Sunday saw Lewis have a mechanical problem early and drop from the lead to out of the top 10.  He would recover to fifth, but that was not enough as Eversley swept the weekend to win his first title.

Tom O’Gorman had clinched the TCA championship at Utah Motorsports Campus, so he just wanted to win.  And he did on Saturday in dominant fashion.  Then, he was disqualified for a parts homologation issue, giving the win to Tech Sport Racing’s Spencer Patterson.  Sunday saw Indian Summer Racing’s Travis Washay win from pole in his Volkswagen while O’Gorman finished fourth.

Finally, Rearden Racing’s Vesko Kozarov had a 20-point lead in TC entering the final weekend over Classic BMW’s Karl Wittmer.  Watkins Glen belonged to the BMW M235iRs.  Wittmer won on Saturday and finished second to Rooster Hall Racing’s Johan Schwartz Sunday morning.  Kozarov finished fourth and sixth, good enough to take the TC title by four points. – Phil Allaway

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The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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