Top three racers dominating Monster Cup
BROOKLYN, Mich. — NASCAR’s Big 3 has essentially lapped the competition.
Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have combined to win 16 of 22 races and haven’t allowed the field to win consecutive races with points at stake this year. Of the other 56 drivers who have started a race, only Clint Bowyer has won twice.
That could potentially change today in the Consumers Energy 400 because Chase Elliott won last week at Watkins Glen.
Chances are, though, one of the series’ top three drivers will finish first.
Busch and Truex drive a Toyota while Harvick is in a Ford. Clearly, it helps to have one of those manufacturers on your side this season.
Toyota drivers have won 11 races and Ford has nine first-place finishes.
“They got everything together,” Ryan Newman, who drives the No. 31 Chevy, said on Saturday after practice. “They’ve got great downforce, horsepower, tires. Drivers are doing their job and collectively their organizations are strong.
“Stewart-Haas Racing as well as the Toyota camp seems to be strong right now and have been all year.”
Chevrolet, meanwhile, has won just two races and Kyle Larson, who is eighth in points, is its only driver among the top 10 in the standings.
“We’re trying to catch up,” said Newman, who will start sixth. We were prepared as well as we thought we needed to be.
“As it turns out, we needed to be more prepared and you can see the results across the Chevrolet camp.”
Some other things to know for the Cup race:
Best of the rest
Bowyer, who will start 16th, has a chance to get closer to the Big 3 and create more separation from the pack. He won his second race at the series’ previous stop at Michigan International Speedway in June. Four other drivers have won one race this year.
“It is always exciting to go to any race track for the second time, especially when you have had some success to see how you will stack up when you load again,” Bowyer said.
Hamlin hopes to finish where he’ll start — first — to earn a victory for a 13th straight year. He is on the pole for a second straight week.
“We’re starting to turn back the other way and be pretty fast again,” Hamlin said. “We’ve really worked on the right things to get us to this point and nothing is more frustrating than working as hard as I have and the team has over the last two months and not getting any results.”
Hamlin won at Michigan in 2010 and 2011.
Elliott won his first Cup race last week, in his 99th start, to put him in the playoffs.
“I’ve been on the other end of the stick these past two years and it’s such a nice feeling to come into these last few races and know that you’re locked-in to the deal,” he said.
Elliott has had three runner-up finishes at MIS.
Many drivers have been mentioned as possible free agents after the season. Chip Ganassi insisted he wants Jamie McMurray back on his team next year after Motorsport.com reported he would be replaced by Kurt Busch.
Does Newman have a deal for 2019?
“Working on it,” he said.
Allgaeir wins Xfiinity
LEXINGTON, Ohio — Justin Allgaier used fresh tires to pass rookie Austin Cindric with four laps left and win the NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Allgaier used the sixth restart of the race to squeeze by Cindric on Turn 1, then held off his challenge on the 72nd lap for his third series win of the year. He also won at Dover and Iowa for JR Motorsport.
He was seventh for the last restart on Lap 69 but had used the caution to replace all four tires.
“We needed to get up front,” Allgaier said. “We know the last restart was going to be pivotal.”
Cindric, the pole-sitter for Team Penske, finished 2.05 seconds back after leading 59 of the 75 laps on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course.
“It’s NASCAR racing. We knew there would be a late-race restart,” Cindric said. “Great driver on new tires, great restart. We finished second. It’s frustrating. This place means a lot to me. We just came up short.”
Daniel Hemric was third, followed by Matt Tifft and Ryan Truex. Series leader Christopher Bell was 11th.
“Justin did a great job moving through traffic,” Hemric said. “When you have new tires at some point during the run it tends to equal but he did a good job getting as far in front as he did.
“I was sitting there watching (Allgaier and Cindric) go at it. It was a heck of a race from my viewpoint.”
Cindric built a seven-second lead before the fifth caution on the 60th lap. Cole Custer rubbed tires with Tyler Reddick, spinning him and causing a rear right flat tire for Reddick, who could not get his car off the course.
Custer also spun Allgaier during the same incident and Allgaier dropped to eighth with laps and hopes of winning quickly fading.
“I really thought that was as far as we could get,” he said.
Allgaier won the 20-lap first stage after Cindric led the first 17 laps before pitting, yielding the lead to him. Cindric won the second stage, also 20 laps.
He is the grandson of the late Jim Trueman, who once owned the track and was the car owner when Bobby Rahal won the 1986 Indianapolis 500. Trueman, the founder of Red Roof Inn, died of cancer 11 days later. Cindric’s mother was Trueman’s daughter and his father is the president of Team Penske.