Every week, NASCAR writer Joseph Passero presents This Week In NASCAR, which briefs the biggest stories from the last week.
Chase Briscoe Wins Ford EcoBoost 200, Christopher Bell Wins Camping World Truck Series Championship
On Friday night, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2017 season concluded. Austin Cindric, one of the championship-eligible drivers started in third and for most of stage one, held the position to take the grand prize. Christopher Bell, who started farther back, also one of the Championship 4 in the truck series, rocketed around other drivers and chased down Chase Briscoe for the lead late in the stage to take stage one for himself. Ben Rhodes took the lead shortly into stage two and he ran away with the stage win, no competition there. When the race restarted, Chase Briscoe and Rhodes battled intensely for the lead, with Briscoe prevailing over the no. 27 of Rhodes. Behind them, The Championship 4 found themselves running nose-to-tail, and as Chase Briscoe took his first career checkered flag, Christopher Bell held off Johnny Sauter, Austin Cindric, and Matt Crafton to win his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship.
Cole Custer Scores First Win, William Byron Wins Xfinity Series Championship In Intense Battle With Teammate
On Saturday, NASCAR’s Xfinity Series raced their final race of the season. The first stage was dominated by Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer, who swapped the lead back and forth for a number of laps, while Daniel Hemric led the Championship 4. Cole Custer won the first stage, and Hemric held off Elliott Sadler to keep that championship lead. However, when stage two started, William Byron passed Hemric for the championship lead and Hemric lost power in his no. 21 Chevy. He lost 11 laps before he got back on track, but by then, Elliott Sadler was chasing down William Byron. It stayed that way through stage two, seeing Coke Custer win again while Byron held the championship lead with Sadler again closeby in second. In the waning laps of the race, Cole Custer ran away to capture the race win, but the battle for the championship was behind him. Sadler and Byron traded the championship lead multiple times and things got hairy between the two in the closing laps, there was contact a few times, and William Byron finished third to win the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship, while Elliott Sadler will have to settle for second for the fourth time in six years in the championship standings.
Danica Patrick To Step Away From Full-Time Racing after 2017
On Friday following a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice, Danica Patrick addressed the media, stating that she will step away from NASCAR following the conclusion of the 2017 season. She did, however, say that she will race in the 2018 Daytona 500 and the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Indianapolis 500, a topic which she has supposedly addressed with Chip Ganassi Racing, according to NASCAR.com.
Danica Patrick has driven full-time in NASCAR’s Cup Series since 2013. She’s driven the no. 10 for Stewart-Haas Racing since then, and has scored seven top-10 finishes and a single pole, coming in the 2013 Daytona 500. Patrick has been a huge influence in motorsports, as she holds the best finish by a female in the Daytona 500 as well as being the only female to win an IndyCar race.
Patrick becomes the sixth major driver to step away from NASCAR in the last three seasons, following Jeff Gordon in 2015, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards in 2016, and joins Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Matt Kenseth for departure after 2017.
Brendan Gaughan to Step Away From NASCAR Xfinity Series
Following Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300, 42-year-old Brendan Gaughan announced his retirement from the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Gaughan, a long-time NASCAR driver, has been racing in various NASCAR series since 1999 when he started driving in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Gaughan won the 2000 and 2001 K&N Pro Series West championships and moved into NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, where Gaughan scored eight wins.
In 2014, Gaughan began driving for Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he would score two more victories. Gaughan was always known for his passion for racing, as well as his goofy and fun-loving demeanor, as well as a great driver.
Brad Keselowski Racing Shuts Down, Drivers Hired for Roush in 2018
For 10 seasons, Brad Keselowski Racing has entered in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races across the country. When Chase Briscoe won on Friday, It was BKR’s final race.
Team owner and NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski announced earlier this year that due to funding, he would shut down his truck team following the conclusion of 2017. BKR has won 11 times, with a list of drivers that includes Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, and Brad Keselowski himself.
The drivers for Keselowski – Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe – have been picked up by Roush Fenway Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for 2018. Cindric and Briscoe will each drive part-time, sharing the no. 60 Ford Mustang with each other and Ty Majeski.
Furniture Row Racing, Erik Jones Wins Rookie of the Year Award
While NASCAR crowned the no. 78 Furniture Row Racing team of Martin Truex, Jr. as the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion, there was another reason for celebration at Furniture Row Racing. Truex’s teammate, Erik Jones, won the 2017 Rookie of the Year award for NASCAR’s premier series. Jones finished the year with five top-five finished, 14 top-10s, a pole and 310 laps led. Jones put up the best rookie campaign this season and continued to learn and improve in the series. In late August, Jones won the pole at Bristol Motor Speedway, where he led 260 laps, but eventually lost to Kyle Busch. Jones will join Kyle Busch, as well as Daniel Suarez and Denny Hamlin at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018, where he will drive the no. 20 Toyota.