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NASCAR National Series News & Notes -- Charlotte

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race
The Place: Charlotte Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, May 20
The Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 6 p.m. ET (Monster Energy Open)
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 105 miles (70 laps); Stage 1 (Ends after 20 Laps), Stage 2 (Ends after 40 Laps), Stage 3 (Ends After 60 Laps), Final Stage (Ends After 70 Laps)

NASCAR XFINITY Series
Next Race: Hisense 4K TV 300
The Place: Charlotte Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, May 27
The Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: North Carolina Education Lottery 200
The Place: Charlotte Motor Speedway
The Date: Friday, May 19
The Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 201 miles (134 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 40), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 80), Final Stage (Ends on lap 134)

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES

Truex Picks Up Second Win, Extends Playoff Points Lead
Martin Truex Jr. outlasted Coors Light Pole winner Ryan Blaney to notch his second win of the season in last Saturday’s Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway.

The No. 78 Furniture Row Racing driver led a race-high 104 laps and amassed five playoff points with the win. He leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with 15 playoff points - via his two victories and series-leading five stage wins - three more than Kansas runner-up Brad Keselowski’s 12.

Truex ranks second in the overall Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings, 44 markers below leader Kyle Larson.

The New Jersey native takes the track again in Saturday’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race (8 p.m. ET on FS1).

Monster Mash: Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race Ready To Roar At Charlotte
Mid-May is an exciting time of the year for the NASCAR World. It means it’s time for the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

This year’s Monster Energy All-Star Race consists of four stages. The first three stages are 20 laps, while the final stage is 10 laps. Only green flag laps will be counted in the final stage.

The final stage consists of 10 drivers: stage winners on the lead lap at the end of the third stage, and drivers with the best average finish in the first three stages.

Pit road will be open for the final stage. Starting positions for the final stage will be determined by the exit off pit road.

Each team will receive one set of softer tires for use during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star race. Teams that use these tires for the final stages will start behind the teams that use the primary tires.

The All-Star field consists of 2016 and 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship race winners, past all-star winners, past Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champions, the NASCAR fan vote winner and the three stage winners in the Monster Energy Open.

Monster Energy Open Set For Saturday
The Monster Energy Open (6 p.m. ET on FS1) will occur prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race on Saturday. It includes three stages (20 laps/20 laps/10 laps). The winner of each stage earns a spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star race. The Monster Energy Open field will be set by two rounds of traditional knockout qualifying.

Cream Of The Crop: 10 Active Drivers Have Won The All-Star Race
Ten active Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers have won the All-Star Race and taken home the $1 million that comes with the victory.

Leading the pack is Jimmie Johnson, who boasts a record four Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race victories. The other past winners have all won once: Joey Logano (2016), Denny Hamlin (2015), Jamie McMurray (2014), Kurt Busch (2010), Kasey Kahne (2008), Kevin Harvick (2007), Matt Kenseth (2003), Ryan Newman (2002) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2000).

Six drivers who have already qualified for the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race will search for their first win in the event: Kyle Busch, Chris Buescher, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Blaney Dazzles At Another 1.5-Miler
Saturday’s Go Bowling 400 provided déjà vu for Ryan Blaney.

Similar to the previous Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at a 1.5-mile track at Texas Motor Speedway, Blaney flashed dominance for a large portion of the contest, but couldn’t close out the victory. The 23-year-old Wood Brothers Racing driver led 83 laps from the pole and won Stage 2, but was passed for the lead by Martin Truex Jr. with 18 go-arounds remaining and eventually finished fourth.

In the Texas race last month, Blaney led a race-high 148 laps and won the first two stages, but ended up finishing 12th.

Blaney, an alumnus of the NASCAR Next initiative, sits 11th in the series standings - 184 points behind leader Kyle Larson. He is tied with Kevin Harvick for second in the series with three stage wins. Martin Truex Jr. leads the series with five stage wins.

Blaney’s pole was the first of his career and the first for Wood Brothers Racing since Ricky Rudd claimed the first starting spot at Talladega on April 25, 2004.

Larson Maintains Points Lead Following Another Top-10 Finish
Kyle Larson produced his seventh top-10 finish of the season at Kansas with a sixth-place showing.

After 11 races, Larson continues to lead the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings. He is followed by Martin Truex Jr. (44 points behind Larson), Brad Keselowski (-67), Chase Elliott (-114) and Jamie McMurray (-121). Kevin Harvick (-128), Kyle Busch (-150), Jimmie Johnson (-152), Joey Logano (-155) and Clint Bowyer (-158) round out the top 10.

Larson boasts one win, five top fives, seven top 10s and a series-leading 6.9 average finish in 11 starts this season. He’s led 366 laps.

Suarez Ties Career-Best Finish
Daniel Suarez tied his career-best finish with a seventh-place showing last weekend at Kansas. The No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing driver also finished seventh at Phoenix and Auto Club earlier this year.

Suarez has jumped out to the lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. He holds a 12-point advantage over second-place Ty Dillon and a 15-point edge on his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones.

The No. 19 Toyota driver has climbed to 19th in the points standings, 33 points behind Trevor Bayne on the playoff cutoff line.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, etc.
Monster Energy To Host Bellator MMA Fights At Charlotte Motor Speedway Before All-Star Race
The Monster Energy Bellator MMA Fight Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 20 prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race. All bouts are set to take place between 3:30 and 5 p.m. ET at the Monster Energy Display in the Charlotte Motor Speedway Fan Zone.

On Friday, May 19, former UFC champion Tito Ortiz and former PRIDE and STRIKEFORCE titleholder Dan Henderson will be available to sign autographs at the Monster Energy display in the Charlotte Motor Speedway Fan Zone between 3-4 p.m. ET.

Platinum Record Artist MGK To Perform At Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race
Platinum recording artist MGK (aka Machine Gun Kelly) will perform at Charlotte Motor Speedway following the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race. The concert is free to anyone with a ticket to the race. Fans can walk down from the stands and watch the concert from the infield. MGK is best known for his single “Wild Boy” and his “Bad Things” collaboration with Camila Cabello. MGK will take the stage at approximately 11 p.m. His performance will be followed by a set from DJ MADDS, who will perform until 2 a.m.

Johnson, McMurray, Kenseth Complete Assault On Mt. Mitchell Bike Ride
On Monday, May 15, Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth completed the “Assault on Mt. Mitchell” bike ride. The Assault on Mt. Mitchell is a 102.7-mile self-paced ride, not race, from Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium in downtown Spartanburg, South Carolina, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, to the summit at Mt. Mitchell State Park in North Carolina-a total vertical ascent of more than 10,000 feet.

NASCAR XFINITY SERIES

Former Series Champs Taking On The Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race
Based on the parameters of eligibility for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race, seven of the 16 drivers (43.8%) entered this weekend are former NASCAR XFINITY Series champions - Chris Buescher (2015 series champion), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2011-12), Brad Keselowski (2010), Kyle Busch (2009), Kevin Harvick (2001, 2006), Martin Truex Jr. (2004-05) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1998-99).

Three former series champions have won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series - Carl Edwards (2011 All-Star win), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2000) and Kevin Harvick (2007).

A Statistical Dive Peering Into Q1 Of The 2017 Season
With nine races completed this season, let’s look at how the action we have seen on-track in 2017 compares to years past in the NASCAR XFINITY Series:

Average Margin of Victory Per Race - The 2017 season (nine races) currently holds the series record for the closest MOV per race through the first nine races in series history with a 0.411 second - previous record was 0.569 second in 2011 and 1998. Eight of the first nine races of the season have finished with an MOV under a second. Electronic scoring was introduced to the NXS in 1996.

Average Number of Leaders Per Race - The 2017 season (nine races) has an average number of leaders per race of 6.56 - the most since the 2013 season (9.44).

Average Number of Lead Changes Per Race - The 2017 season (nine races) has an average number of lead changes per race of 14.22 - the most since 2013 (19.00).

Percentage of Cars Finishing on The Lead Lap - The 2017 season (nine races) has a Lead Lap Finishes Percentage of 48.89% - the highest percentage since 2006 (50.65%).

Number of Winners - In 2017 there have been seven different winners through the first nine races - which is tied with 2014 (seven) for the most since 2006 (eight winners).

Number of Coors Light Pole Winners - In 2017, there have been seven different Coors Light pole winners through the first nine races - the most since 2014 (nine pole winners).

The NASCAR XFINITY Series returns to action Saturday, May 27 at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Hisense 4K TV 300 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin won the event last season.

Sunoco Rookie Of The Year Spotlight: 2017 Class
Here is a quick update on how each of the 2017 Sunoco rookies in the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage are faring thus far:

William Byron - No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro - is a 19-year old, from Charlotte, North Carolina who currently leads the NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings by six points over second-place. This season, Byron is working with veteran crew chief David Elenz. Byron has made nine starts this season posting two top fives and five top 10s. His average finish on the season is a 13.8 - best among the rookies this season. His season-to-date driver rating (87.3) is ranked third-best in the series.

Daniel Hemric - No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro - is a 26-year-old that hails from Kannapolis, North Carolina that is currently second in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings six points behind first following Talladega. Hemric has been on the rebound since the season-opener but has since started to find his groove while working with crew chief Danny Stockman Jr. Hemric has made nine starts this season, posting two top fives and four top 10s. His average finish in 2017 is a 16.6. Plus, Hemric has the sixth-best season-to-date driver rating (80.2) in the series.

Matt Tifft - No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry - is a 20-year-old from Hinckley, Ohio that is currently third in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, 19 points behind second-place. Tifft is working with crew chief Matt Beckman this season. Through the first nine races, Tifft has posted two top 10s and an average finish of 14.6. Tifft’s season-to-date driver rating of 81.9 is ranked fifth-best in the series in 2017.

Cole Custer - No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang - is a 19-year-old from Ladera Ranch, California that is currently fourth in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, two points behind third-place Matt Tifft following Talladega. Working with crew chief Jeff Meendering, Custer has made nine starts this season posting one top five and two top 10s. His average finish this season is a 21.1. Custer’s season-to-date driver rating (79.4) is eighth-best in the series this season.

Spencer Gallagher - No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet Camaro - is a 27-year-old from Las Vegas, Nevada that is currently fifth in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings following Talladega. Gallagher is 12 points back from Custer in fourth. Working with crew chief Joey Cohen, Gallagher has posted one top 10 and an average finish of 22.8 through the first nine races of the season. Gallagher also has the 17th-best season-to-date driver rating (58.1) this season.

Ben Kennedy - No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet (nine races) / No. 96 GMS Racing Chevrolet Camaro (12 races) - is the great grandson of Bill France Sr. and the grandson of Bill France Jr. that will be splitting his seat time between two organizations this season (GMS Racing and Richard Childress Racing). Kennedy, a 25-year-old from Daytona Beach, Florida, made his first of nine starts this season for Richard Childress Racing at Talladega a few weeks back. Working with crew chief Justin Alexander, the duo managed a fourth-place finish in their season debut together. Kennedy will be jumping in the No. 96 for GMS Racing next week at Charlotte. Kennedy just joined the Sunoco Rookie of the Year program at Talladega, he is currently sixth in the rookie standings.

XFINITY Drivers Jones, Chastain And Brown Are Going Truckin’ In Charlotte
Three NASCAR XFINITY Series championship contending drivers, Brandon Jones, Ross Chastain and Brandon Brown will be suiting up this weekend and attempting to compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 this Friday, May 19 at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Richard Childress Racing’s Brandon Jones, currently 15th in the series driver standings will be attempting to make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season debut this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway for truck owner Matthew Miller in the No. 99 MDM Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado with crew chief Shane Huffman. Jones has made 30 NCWTS career starts, posting five top fives and 11 top 10s.

Florida native Ross Chastain will be attempting to compete this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway for truck owner Jeff Bolen with crew chief Paul Clapprood in the No. 66 Bolen Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado. Chastain has made four starts this season for Bolen posting two top 10s and an average finish of 16.2.

Brandon Brown will be attempting to make his second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2017 start this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. His first truck start of the season was at Martinsville for Martins Motorsports but this time around he will be driving the family owned (owner Jerry Brown, Brandon’s father) in the No. 86 Brandonbilt Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado.

North Carolina Natives In The NASCAR XFINITY Series
Though the NASCAR XFINITY Series will not be competing in the great state of North Carolina until next weekend, here is a look at some of the top performers from the state with such a deep racing heritage.

A total of 113 drivers with their home state recorded as North Carolina have competed in at least one NASCAR XFINITY Series race in their careers. Morgan Shepherd, from Ferguson, North Carolina, leads all North Carolina drivers in NXS starts with 405; followed by Tommy Houston (379 starts) with the second-most and Dale Jarrett (289) with the third-most both are from Hickory, North Carolina.

A total of 23 of the 113 drivers from North Carolina have won in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, led by Jack Ingram (Asheville) with 27 wins. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Kannapolis) and Tommy Houston (Hickory) are tied for the second-most NXS wins by a North Carolina native with 24 each.

NASCAR XFINITY Series Etc.:
Driver Standings Update: JR Motorsports driver Elliott Sadler holds the standings lead by 29-points over his teammate Justin Allgaier following Talladega. William Byron (-78 points from the leader), Darrell Wallace Jr. (-95), Daniel Hemric (-101), Michael Annett (-106), Matt Tifft (-114), Ryan Reed (-124), Blake Koch (-128), Brennan Poole (-137), Dakoda Armstrong (-156) and Cole Custer (-165) make up the rest of the top 12. Sadler is looking for his first series title. ...

Owner Standings Update: Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford Mustang team has opened a sizeable lead over second-place Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Camry team following Talladega. JR Motorsport’s No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro team (-76), Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro team (-81) and JR Motorsport’s No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro team round out the top five in the owner standings.

Manufacturer Standings Update: Chevrolet currently holds the standings lead (325 points) by eight points over second-place Ford (317 points) followed by Toyota (300 points) and Dodge (50 points). Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota each have three wins.

NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News & Notes - Charlotte Motor Speedway

Kyle Busch Nets NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Win At Kansas
Kyle Busch Motorsports owner Kyle Busch won the Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway for his 47th career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory.

The win also served as Busch’s second career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Kansas, with the first coming in 2014.

Busch will run his next NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race this week at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

In 10 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Busch has been the Queen City King - winning six races and scoring eight top fives and nine top 10s.

Rhode Warrior
ThorSport Racing driver Ben Rhodes had stout performance in the Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway, leading 25 laps in the race engine issues derailed his chances at victory.

Three laps after a restart on Lap 139 of 167, Rhodes won a sustained side-by-side battle against Kyle Busch and pulled ahead. Rhodes stretched the advantage to as much as 1.4 seconds when the engine issues ended his night.

Rhodes was frustrated after the loss, saying "we ran with the best tonight," a chagrined Rhodes said after the race. "Our Safelite Tundra had speed all night long. We did everything right, but Ben Rhodes has a curse on his back or something, because something always goes wrong.”

Rhodes is 20-years-old and in 31 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts, has four top fives, nine top 10s and has led 100 laps.

In one career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Rhodes has a top-20 finish, placing 17th in last year’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

Nemechek Scores Season-Best Finish At Kansas
NEMCO Motorsports driver John Hunter Nemechek scored his best finish of the season when he placed third in the Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway.

The finish was Nemechek’s second top-five in four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this season.

Nemechek (-88) is currently 11th in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points standings and is a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs bubble driver.

In one career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Nemechek has a top-15 finish, notching a 12th-place finish in last season’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Quick Facts:
With the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series back in action this weekend for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 on Friday, May 19 (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1), below are some series quick facts at Charlotte Motor Speedway:

Races: 14
Pole Winners: 8
Youngest Pole Winner: Ty Dillon (05/18/2012 - 20 years, 2 months, 21 days)
Oldest Pole Winner: Mike Skinner (05/18/2007 - 49 years, 10 months, 20 days)
Race Winners: 7
Youngest Winner: Kyle Busch (05/20/2005 - 20 years, 0 months, 18 days)
Oldest Winner: Ron Hornaday Jr (05/15/2009 - 50 years, 10 months, 25 days)
Races Won from Pole (or 1st Starting Position): 3
Last Race Won from Pole (or 1st Starting Position): Kasey Kahne (05/15/2015)
Race Record: Matt Crafton 141.855mph (05/21/2016)
Qualifying Record: Kyle Busch 183.773mph (05/16/2014)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivers From North Carolina
There are 102 total drivers that have listed North Carolina as their home state who have registered at least one start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Dennis Setzer, an 18-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race winner, from Newton, N.C., has the most NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts from North Carolina with 314.

Timothy Peters (Providence, NC) leads all active drivers from North Carolina in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts with 233.

There are currently six NASCAR national series drivers who have registered at least 20 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts and list North Carolina as their home state:

Driver Starts Hometown
Timothy Peters 233 Providence, NC
Austin Dillon 69 Welcome, NC
John Hunter Nemechek 56 Mooresville, NC
Ty Dillon 54 Welcome, NC
Daniel Hemric 49 Kannapolis, NC
William Byron 24 Charlotte, NC

Crafton Hopes To Conquer Charlotte... Again
ThorSport Racing driver Matt Crafton is looking to go back-to-back at Charlotte Motor Speedway in this week’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

Crafton has won at Charlotte Motor Speedway twice (2016, 2008) in 14 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts there.

Crafton owns multiple track records at Charlotte Motor Speedway including:

Races: 14
Top 10s: 11
Lead Lap Finishes: 13
Laps Completed: 1,866

Crafton also owns an interesting track record at Charlotte. With a minimum of five starts, Crafton has never registered a DNF at Charlotte Motor Speedway in his 14 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts there.

First Timers At Charlotte
There are 11 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers making their track debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Friday’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

There are seven Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders: Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Grant Enfinger, Stewart Friesen, Noah Gragson, Justin Haley and Kaz Grala.

There are four other NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers making their track debut this week including Spencer Boyd, Austin Hill, Brett Moffitt, Todd Peck.

Kyle Busch Motorsports owner Kyle Busch (05/20/2005), two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton (05/16/2008) and Justin Lofton (05/18/2012) all won their first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.:
Moving & Shaking: After finishing fifth at Kansas, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie Chase Briscoe moved up three spots in the series points standings. Briscoe jumped from seventh all the way to fourth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points standings.

The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender has yet to finish outside the top-25 and has three top fives (Kansas, Daytona-spring) in four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this season.

Battle In Owner Standings Heats Up: GMS Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports are in a tight battle in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner standings after four races this season.

GMS Racing (No. 21 Chevrolet) currently leads Kyle Busch Motorsports (No. 4 Toyota) by two points. Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 51 Toyota entry is currently third, while ThorSport Racing (No. 88 Toyota) and Brad Keselowski Racing (No. 29 Ford) round out the top five.