Elkins Raceway finale set for Sept. 29
First of all, there will be no racing this weekend at Elkins Raceway. There has been an announcement that the final race of the 2018 season will be Saturday, Sept. 29.
The season-ending Festival 40 Race will feature the Jenkins Ford Super Late Models running for $2,000 to win. The Budweiser FasTrack Crate Late Models will pay $1,200 to win and there will be increased purses in all the divisions. Special note, gates will open at 5 p.m. and races will start at 7 p.m. This is an hour earlier than usual. Admission will remain $15, with kids under 12 with a paying adult free. Make plans and load up the neighbors, friends and family and let’s make this the biggest event of the year before the engines once again go quiet for the winter.
Rain played havoc with all the racing for NASCAR teams at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past weekend. All practice and qualifying was a total wash out and the Xfinity and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series races were postponed till Monday. Clear skies were a welcome sight for the teams as the Xfinity cars took to the track for the Lilly Diabetes 250 at 10 a.m. The handling/aero package that NASCAR mandates for the Xfinity cars provides some of the best racing all season. There was 2-, 3- and 4- wide racing all day. The end of the first stage literally had cars four wide at the yard of bricks which makes up the start finish line at this historic racing facility. John Hunter Nemechek pulled off the first stage win. The second stage was calmer only two cars were side by side with Daniel Hemric taking the win. The checkered flag flew over Justin Allgaier for the overall race win. Tyler Reddick finished a close second but could not steal the win. Ryan Blaney finished third. Chase Elliott and Daniel Hemric rounded out the top five.
The BrickYard 400 rolled off next with the Monster Energy Cup cars. Clint Bowyer showed that his SHR Ford was going to be a threat to win by taking the first stage win. The second stage was won by Rousch Racing’s Matt Kenseth who took advantage of pit stops and strategy. Late race restarts set the stage for a thrilling finish. Denny Hamlin had positioned himself ahead of Clint Bowyer and it appeared it would be decided among them. On the final restart Bowyer spun his tires and Hamlin pulled ahead however it was Brad Keselowski who was the spoiler grabbing the lead and the win. There was a little rubbing in those final laps but in the end it was just hard racing. Erik Jones came on strong and also passed Hamlin and finished second. Hamlin was able to hang on to third. SHR teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five.
This race brought to end the regular- season point’s championship. Kyle Busch was named regular-series champion and will lead 16 drivers into the playoff battle. All three traveling NASCAR series take the action to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend. The Round of 16 will battle out over the next four weeks to see who will make it to the Round of 12 with four drivers being eliminated after the wild card race at the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This will be the first time the Oval and road course at Charlotte will be used in this configuration for the NASCAR stock cars. The 16 drivers moving into the playoffs are, in order, Kyle Busch, Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Keselowski, Bowyer, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Jones, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Hamlin, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson, and Alex Bowman. Truex Jr. was in the news last week as his team owner Barney Visser announced that defending series Champion Furniture Row Racing will close its doors at the end of the season and released the team members from their contracts to seek other jobs. Speculation is that Truex Jr. and his crew chief Cole Pern will move to Joe Gibbs Racing taking over the number 19 car which means Daniel Suarez may be out of a ride. It was also announced that Lavine Family Racing’s car number 95 will become affiliated with JGR and switch from Chevrolets to Toyota and Suarez may take over for their driver Kasey Kahne who is retiring at the end of the year.
Silly season is in full swing as teams align themselves for the 2019 season. I’ll be right here to bring you all the playoff action from Las Vegas and beyond as we name Series champions at Homestead Miami Speedway in November.
There is lots of racing action ahead and remember, at the end of the straightaway there’s another left turn!