Fort Worth, Texas – Three Xfinity Series races, three different drivers and three consecutive wins for the No. 22 car.
Ryan Blaney became the third different Cup Series regular in a row to win an Xfinity race in the Team Penske Ford. He was the pole sitter and led 132 of 200 laps on an unseasonably chilly Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.
“You never want to be the person who breaks the streak of wins, especially when a car’s been so fast,” Blaney said. “There was that reminder in the back of my head to try to get this one.”
Especially from the drivers that won the previous two before the Xfinity Series had a two-week break. Joey Logano won in the No. 22 car at California, a week after Brad Keselowski went to Victory Lane in Phoenix.
“Brad and Joey, they definitely reminded me that this week,” Blaney said.
Joe Gibbs Racing is the only other team in the series to win three straight races with the same car and different drivers. Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin won consecutive races in their team’s No. 20 Toyota in 2008. That car actually made it four victories in a row when Stewart won again.
Christopher Bell finished 2.327 seconds behind Blaney in second place. Bell led twice for 10 laps, but isn’t sure if a pit penalty that put him at the tail end on a restart after a caution had a big impact on his outcome.
“I don’t know. There’s been a lot of people that have run second to the 22 here recently, so they obviously have something figured out,” Bell said. “It doesn’t matter who’s driving that thing, it goes really fast.”
It was the seventh career Xfinity victory for Blaney, who qualified fourth for Sunday’s Cup Series race at the 1½-mile Texas track.
Blaney had finished in the top eight in each of his first five Xfinity starts at Texas, where he was a three-time runner-up – including both races last year.
Some other things to know about the Xfinity Series race in Texas:
When the green flag waved, it was 34 degrees and cloudy.
Texas Motor Speedway officials said it was the coldest start for a NASCAR race at the track. The previous low was 47 degrees for an Xfinity race on April 14, 2007.
The temperature was about 50 degrees cooler than Friday, when it was near the mid-80s during the day for practice. Cold weather and misty conditions earlier Saturday cut qualifying to one round, instead of the usual three.
Newgarden wins IndyCar race
Josef Newgarden used four new tires to catch rookie Robert Wickens and win the IndyCar race night at ISM Raceway.
Newgarden started fourth on a restart with eight laps left, and got around Wickens with three laps to go on the 1.022-mile oval. The defending series champion raced to his eighth IndyCar victory and third on an oval, finishing 2.994 seconds ahead of Wickens.
Wickens was making his first second career start — and first on an oval — for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Alexander Rossi was third, followed by Scott Dixon and James Hinchcliffe as Honda swept the first five spots in the first oval race of the season. Ed Jones, running second when he hit the wall in Turn 4 with 20 laps left to bring out the final caution, finished 20th.
Newgarden gave owner Roger Penske his record ninth series victory at the track and 198th overall.
Sebastien Bourdais finished a lap down in 13th after starting from the pole. He led the first 43 laps, then slid in his pit box and struck a crew member on the first caution for Pietro Fittipaldi’s brush with the wall. Bourdais dropped two laps down after a drive-through penalty for hitting the crew member.
Will Power took over after that, keeping the lead until a green-flag stop on Lap 124. The Australian made light contact with the wall in Turn 2 on Lap 154, ending his night. He was 22nd.
During the green-flag stops halfway through the race, Matheus Leist left his pit box before the crew replaced the left rear tire. Leist nearly hit an IndyCar official when he purposely spun to turn the car around. The loose tire rolled out of the way in the pit exit lane, and IndyCar didn’t throw the caution flag.
The 250-lap race was the first oval event for the sleek new car designed to improve competition and cut costs.
Vettel takes pole for Bahrain
Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix followed by Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen under desert floodlights.
The evening got even better for Ferrari, with Lewis Hamilton managing only fourth. But he will start from ninth on Sunday after incurring a grid penalty for an unauthorized gearbox change on his Mercedes.
“I’ll try and eke out every last bit of power and strength from this car,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know what we are going to be able to achieve tomorrow, but I hope I can do something.”
This setback follows Hamilton’s bitter disappointment in Australia two weeks ago, when he led the season-opening grand prix from pole position only to finish second behind Vettel.
Although it is very early, Mercedes is not looking the unshakeable, supremely reliable force it was when winning the drivers’ and constructors’ double in the past four seasons.
In a further boost for Ferrari, the aging Kimi Raikkonen has looked sharp all weekend, leading the second and third practice.
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