Race Weekend Update
- Denny Hamlin won the Bojangles' Southern 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway for his 2nd win of 2017, 2nd win at Darlington, and 31st career win.
- #18-Busch finished 2nd. #41-Busch was third, followed by #3-Dillon, #77-Jones, #20-Kenseth, #31-Newman, #78-Truex, Jr., pole sitter #4-Harvick, and #1-McMurray.
- #78-Truex, Jr. won the first and second stages and was leading with 2 laps to go when he cut down and tire and got into the outside wall. Hamlin had been closing on Truex for the lead after making his final pit stop later that most of the field and running on fresher tires.
- #78-Truex Jr's. driver points lead increased to 107 points over #18-Busch. He has now clinched the regular season championship and will get an extra 15 playoff points for the start of the playoffs.
- There were 20 lead changes among 8 drivers and 8 cautions for 38 yellow flag laps.
2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Driver Standings:
[after Darlington, race 25 of 36]
1) #78-Martin Truex Jr [4 wins], 1000
2) #18-Kyle Busch , 893, -107
3) #42-Kyle Larson , 884, -116
4) #4-Kevin Harvick , 867, -133
5) #11-Denny Hamlin , 810, -190
NEXT RACE: This Saturday night at Richmond Raceway; live race coverage on NBCSN at 4:30 p.m. PT
TORRENCE, TODD, SKILLMAN AND KRAWIEC WINNERS AT PRESTIGIOUS CHEVROLET PERFORMANCE U.S. NATIONALS
Steve Torrence piloted his Capco Contractors dragster to the Top Fuel victory Monday at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the world's biggest drag race, at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. J.R. Todd (Funny Car), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also victorious at the 18th event of 24 on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Series Drag Racing Series schedule.
Torrence raced to a 3.757-second pass at 322.96 mph to defeat Kebin Kinsley who lost traction in his Road Rage Fuel Booster dragster at the start of the final. It is Torrence's first win at the Chevy Performance U.S. Nationals, seventh of the season and 15th of his career.
Torrence also won the Top Fuel Traxxas Nitro Shootout, the lucrative race-within-a-race with a $100,000 cash prize. He defeated rookie Ashley Sanford, reigning and three-time world champion Antron Brown and Leah Pritchett en route to the finals. With his semifinal win over Pritchett, Torrence clinched the No. 1 seed heading into the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA's six race playoff.
Kinsley's final round appearance was the first of his career. He defeated No. 1 qualifier Clay Millican, Shawn Langdon and the winningest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history, Tony Schumacher, before falling to Torrence.
Todd, an Indianapolis native, powered past Funny Car reigning world champion Ron Capps with a 3.949 pass at 325.53 in his DHL Toyota Camry to better Capps' 3.923 at 325.61 in his NAPA Dodge Charger. It is Todd's first career win at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, his second of the season and of his Funny Car Career.
"This was where it all started for me in Jr. Dragsters," Todd said. "I remember watching Capps as a kid and now I raced him in the final round of Indy. It's too surreal. Like Torrence said, you win Indy and you know you've beaten the best in the sport. Ron Capps and those guys out there are the best in the sport."
In Pro Stock, Drew Skillman ran a 6.676 pass at 206.61 in his Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro to defeat Greg Anderson's 6.660 at 208.01 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro on a holeshot for his first Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victory, fourth win of the season and seventh of his career. His four victories have come in the last six races.
Krawiec rode to the Pro Stock Motorcycle win with his 6.858 pass at 196.90 on his Screamin' Eagle / Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to defeat Hector Arana Jr. and his Lucas Oil Buell's 6.886 pass at 195.48. This was Krawiec's second Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victory, his third win of the season and 39th of his career.
NEXT RACE: Sept. 15-17 at zMAX Dragway with the 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals and the kickoff to the Countdown to the Championship.
Rossi wins at Watkins Glen as Championship Tightens
Alexander Rossi completed a dream weekend with a win in the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen. Josef Newgarden endured a nightmare incident in the race that leaves the Verizon IndyCar Series championship battle wide open for the 12th straight year heading to the season finale.
Rossi won the 60-lap race at iconic Watkins Glen International from the pole position on the same weekend it was announced he would return to Andretti Autosport next season in a multiyear deal along with sponsor NAPA Auto Parts. The 25-year-old Californian led a race-high 32 laps and drove the No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda across the finish line 0.9514 of a second ahead of four-time Watkins Glen winner Scott Dixon.
Points leader Josef Newgarden finished 18th after his car sustained damage in a collision leaving the pits. The Team Penske driver saw his championship lead slip to three points over Dixon with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, offering double race points on Sept. 17, remaining. Seven drivers are still mathematically alive in the title hunt. The Verizon IndyCar Series champion has been determined in the season's final race every year dating to 2006.
Rossi overcame a malfunctioning fuel probe on his second pit stop that left him short of Sunoco E85 ethanol and forced an earlier third stop than scheduled. From there, Rossi laid down laps at near-qualifying pace, regaining the lead on Lap 29 and building an advantage of more than 12 seconds. The full-course caution for Newgarden's incident on Lap 46 bunched the field, but Rossi kept Dixon, in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, at bay over the 11-lap dash to the finish.
The victory was the second for Rossi in the Verizon IndyCar Series and first since his memorable triumph as a rookie in the 2016 Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
Dixon, in search of a fifth season championship that would leave the 37-year-old New Zealander behind only A.J. Foyt (with seven) on the all-time list, had his own eventual day but was rewarded in points with the second-place finish.
Newgarden had just assumed the lead in the No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet when he made his final stop on Lap 46 under green-flag conditions. Will Power - whose pit stall was directly in front of Newgarden's - barely beat his teammate out of the pits and onto the narrow, curving, downhill pit exit lane.
Newgarden locked his brakes avoiding Power and slid into the guardrail separating the pit exit from the track in Turn 1 of the 3.37-mile, 11-turn permanent road course. Sebastien Bourdais, also leaving the pits in the No. 18 UNIFIN Honda, hit Newgarden from behind. Newgarden continued but sustained front wing and right rear tire ramp damage. The 26-year-old Tennessean finished two laps off the pace and saw 28 points shaved from his championship lead.
Ryan Hunter-Reay finished third in the No. 28 DHL Honda to give Andretti Autosport two podium finishers. Helio Castroneves placed fourth in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet and retained third in the championship, 22 points behind Newgarden.
Other drivers with a chance of winning the title at the Sonoma finale are: 2016 champion Simon Pagenaud, fourth in the standings (-34 points to Newgarden) after a ninth-place finish today in the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet; Power, fifth in the standings (-68 points) after finishing sixth in the race in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet; Rossi, sixth in the standings (-84 points); and Graham Rahal, seventh in the standings (-94 points) after a fifth-place race finish in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.
The race at Sonoma Raceway offers 100 points to the winner, 80 for second place, 70 for third and down from there. Live race coverage of the epic finale begins at 6:30 p.m. ET Sept. 17 on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
VIDEO: Fast Forward: IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen: http://www.indycar.com/Videos/2017/09/09-04-Fast-Forward-Watkins-Glen
STANDINGS: Check out the standings here: http://www.indycar.com/Drivers.
NEXT RACE: The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway, Sept. 15-17.
- LOTS of testing this week - expecting more than 100 cars on Friday, Sept. 8 for the pre-NASA test session.
- NASA hits the track this weekend: https://www.nasaproracing.com/events/2528
- Track will be closed next week for IndyCar preparation
- Full-field IndyCar test on Thursday, Sept. 14.