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Kyle Busch Wins Bristol Cup Race

Bristol Motor Speedway was no match for Kyle Busch this past week as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver collected three wins in a four-day stretch including Saturday’s Monster Energy Series race.  After winning Wednesday in the Camping World Truck Series, Busch returned to “Thunder Valley” to claim victory in Friday night’s X-finity Series race.  Then on Saturday, he got the best of rookie Erik Jones as well as the half-mile Tennessee oval, keeping the Number-18 Toyota in front over the final fifty-six laps and beating Jones to the checkered flag by nearly a second-and-a-half.  It’s the second time in eight years that Busch has won all three races across NASCAR’s three national series in the same week at the same track.  He first accomplished the feat in 2010, also at Bristol.  Jones did his best to deny Busch his “Tennessee Trifecta” on Saturday night, starting from the pole and leading a race-high 260 laps.  They exchanged the lead three times during the final stage before Busch asserted himself down the stretch.  After laboring through much of the regular season without a Cup Series victory, the 2015 champion now seems to be building momentum for another title run.  Busch has two wins in his last four starts and has climbed to second in the point standings … Denny Hamlin finished third on Saturday and Matt Kenseth was fourth, giving Toyota a sweep of the top four spots.  Kurt Busch completed the top five in his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford … With just two races left in the regular season, Jamie McMurray leads Clint Bowyer by fifty-eight points in the fight for the final playoff spot … Paul Menard finished sixteenth on Saturday night, just two days before his 37th birthday.

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Cup Series Win List Grows to 11

With Kevin Harvick’s win Sunday in Sonoma, California, the list of Monster Energy Series winners this season now stands at eleven.  But remember … Joey Logano’s victory at Richmond International Raceway does not qualify him for the playoffs due to post-event penalties.  If there are seven new names in Victory Lane over the final ten regular-season races (or six if Logano wins again with no penalties), then there’ll be one driver with a victory to his credit that will not get a spot in the 2017 playoffs – which will include only the top sixteen eligible drivers based primarily on race wins.  The list of notable drivers still looking for their first Cup Series win of 2017 includes Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Junior, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Matt Kenseth.  Of those five drivers, all are former winners at Daytona International Speedway – site of Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola – except Elliott, who’s won two Cup Series poles at “The World Center of Racing” but is still looking for his first race win there.  He was victorious in the X-finity Series in 2016 … If the NASCAR playoffs began today, Logano would qualify based on points despite his problems at Richmond.  He’s tenth in the regular-season standings, seven points ahead of Clint Bowyer – who leads Kenseth by just four points in the fight for what would be the final playoff spot.

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Matt Kenseth Museum Closing

The Matt Kenseth museum and retail store located at 210 W. Main Street in Cambridge, Wis., will close on Sunday June 11, 2017, after more than 13 years in business.

The family owned and operated museum broke ground at the original location just west of downtown in 2003, the same year Kenseth won the NASCAR Cup Series championship. Since the beginning, the museum has offered a place for Kenseth’s fans to enjoy the many trophies, race cars, and other unique items the Cambridge native has accumulated over his illustrious NASCAR career.

“Cambridge has always been and will always be my hometown,” said Kenseth. “I have a lot of pride in where I come from, and I am thankful I have been able to share not only my racing career but also where I grew up with so many fans through the years. The museum had a great run, 13 years, which is probably more than we ever dreamed of when we first opened the doors.”

Kenseth’s online store, MattKensethStore.com, and the Matt Kenseth Fan Club, now in its 22nd year, will continue to operate with the oversight of Kenseth’s sister, Kelley Busse, who has managed the store and the fan club since their inception.

“We have made a ton of memories through the years with fans who have come from all over the nation, and even other countries, to visit us in Cambridge,” said Busse. “I have been working in the family business since I was 14 years old, and will continue to do so with our online store and fan club. Like Matt, I’m not thinking about retirement, but I am excited to take some weekends off to see him race.”

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Recap of Last Year’s Bristol Cup Race

Carl Edwards led 276 laps to pick up his first win of the 2016 season and fourth victory at Bristol Motor Speedway.  Starting from the pole, Edwards maintained good track position throughout the race, piloting his Number-19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to victory on a day that saw several drivers experience trouble at the always-difficult Tennessee half-mile.  Dale Earnhardt Junior rebounded from falling two laps down at the start of the race to finish second.  At the drop of the green flag, Earnhardt’s stuck-throttle safety system activated, causing him to retreat to pit road for repairs on the first lap.  Kurt Busch led forty-one laps and was in position to challenge Edwards on the final restart with five laps to go but settled for third place.  Chase Elliott and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top five. Bayne, who started tenth, fell back as far as twenty-eighth place but rallied to score his first top-five finish in ninety-nine races.  Edwards escaped tire trouble that plagued his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin.

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Circle K to Sponsor Matt Kenseth’s Car

Joe Gibbs Racing welcomes Circle K to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with the company’s first primary sponsorship in the sport aboard the No. 20 Toyota Camry with Matt Kenseth.  Circle K is one of the largest fuel and convenience retailers in the US and has stores located in 41 states throughout the country.

Circle K has had branding on cars within NASCAR through vendor programs over the years. This is the first time the company has served as a primary sponsor within the sport. Circle K is pleased to serve as the primary sponsor for Kenseth and the No. 20 Toyota Camry at Richmond 1, Talladega 1, Charlotte 1, Kentucky, Texas 2 and Phoenix 2.  The company will also have associate branding on the No. 20 Toyota in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series whenever they are not already serving as the primary sponsor.

“This is an exciting day for us at Joe Gibbs Racing, and really, for our sport,” said Joe Gibbs, owner and founder of Joe Gibbs Racing. “Circle K is growing rapidly across the country and it’s a thrill for us to have them as a primary sponsor for Matt and the No. 20 team.  We’re looking forward to developing our partnership with them.”

“With the launch of our new global Circle K brand, our team is always on the lookout for ways to connect more and more with its community. We feel this partnership is a great fit for us,” stated Alex Miller, Senior Vice-President, Global Fuels at Circle K .  “By growing our presence in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with our company’s first primary sponsorship in the sport aboard the No. 20 Toyota Camry with Matt Kenseth, we aim to continue to position ourselves as the preferred destination for fuel and convenience. We are quite proud to be partnering up with the Joe Gibbs Racing team and truly believe this is the beginning of a long and strong collaboration.”

“It’s always great to be able to welcome a new primary sponsor to the sport,” said, Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry.  “I’m excited to welcome Circle K to JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) on our No. 20 Camry this season, and look forward to representing them.  They are a growing company, with locations all over the country, so it’s a great fit to have them involved in the sport.”

The 2003 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion and two-time DAYTONA 500 Champion Kenseth entered 2017 marking his 20th year competing in the series.  Currently in his fifth season at Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth and his No. 20 team have collected 14 wins, 46 top-5’s, 84 top-10’s, and 10 pole awards together.  Kenseth has qualified for the playoffs each season while driving the No. 20 Toyota Camry.

Kenseth is currently 22nd in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series point standings heading into this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

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Recap of Last Year’s Daytona 500#

Denny Hamlin charged from fourth to first on the final lap, passing teammate Matt Kenseth for the lead and then surviving a dramatic side-by-side duel down the stretch with Martin Truex Junior that ended with Hamlin scratching out the victory by a mere one one-hundredths of a second.  It’s the closest finish in the fifty-eight-year history of the Daytona 500.  After taking the white flag, race leader Kenseth went to the high side to block a fast-closing Hamlin and when he did, the Number-11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota darted into the middle lane and into the lead.  Truex briefly got a nose in front before Hamlin reclaimed the lead to win by an estimated four inches … Kyle Busch finished third and Carl Edwards was fifth, giving Joe Gibbs Racing three of the top five finishing positions.  Kevin Harvick rode home in fourth place.  After losing the lead to Hamlin on the final lap, Kenseth slipped back in the field and finished fourteenth … Pole sitter Chase Elliott suffered damage to his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in an early-race spin and lost a number of laps while repairs were made.  He finished thirty-seventh.

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Truex Jr Wins at Dover

Martin Truex Junior dominated Dover’s “Monster Mile” on Sunday, storming into the second round of the Chase with his fourth win of the year and second in three weeks of post-season competition. Truex started second and led a race-high 187 laps in notching his seventh career victory and second at Dover International Speedway. His lead grew to nearly ten seconds during the second half of the race and the final margin of victory over runner-up Kyle Busch was seven-point-five seconds. Rookie Chase Elliott finished third with pole sitter Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth completing the top five. Chase contenders grabbed nine of the top ten finishing positions with Jeff Gordon riding home in tenth place subbing for Dale Earnhardt Junior. There were just five drivers running on the lead lap with Truex at the checkered flag … Sunday’s race was the final stop in the opening round of the post-season Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Three-time champion Tony Stewart finished thirteenth, but it wasn’t enough to prevent elimination. He joined Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray, and rookie Chris Buescher in being dropped from title contention. Buescher finished twenty-third on Sunday, Larson twenty-fifth and McMurray fortieth. Larson, at Number-10, was the highest-seeded driver in that quartet … In finishing second on Sunday, Busch – the top seed in the post-season Chase – led three times for 102 laps … Kenseth was looking for a season sweep at Dover after winning there in mid-May but fell short, settling for fifth place.

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Kenseth Blames Himself for Blowing Restart

Wisconsin’s Matt Kenseth blames himself for not winning Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase event in Loudon, New Hampshire. The Cambridge native led for 105 of the 300 laps, but he gave up first place to Kevin Harvick in the final restart. Kenseth — who finished second — says he should have known better for letting Harvick lay back on him, and he spun his tires and got beat in his first two turns. Still, Kenseth still rose from seventh place to fourth with one race to go before the Chase reduces its title qualifiers from 16 drivers to 12 — but had Kenseth won, he would have automatically advanced. Beloit born Danica Patrick placed 18th Sunday, and Paul Menard of Eau Claire 25th.

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On to Loudon

The 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup now moves from the Midwest to New Hampshire for Sunday’s New England 300. Chase drivers have won this race all twelve years the current post-season structure has been in place. Matt Kenseth, the Number-7 seed in this year’s Challenger Round, is the defending winner and also won this season’s first stop at “The Magic Mile” on July 17th. No Cup Series driver has won three in a row at New Hampshire Motor Speedway since the track began hosting the series in 1993 … Just twice in the Chase era (2004 to the present) has the winner of the fall race in New Hampshire gone on to win the title that same year: Kurt Busch in 2004 and Tony Stewart in 2011 … Nine of the sixteen drivers in the Challenger Round are past winners on the one-mile Loudon oval: Kenseth, Stewart, Kurt and Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski … There are forty drivers on the preliminary entry list for Sunday’s New England 300, the fourth of six races to be contested on one-mile ovals this year. Harvick won at Phoenix International Raceway back in mid-March, with Kenseth winning at Dover and New Hampshire.

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