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Monday Racing Roundup: Newgarden Scores First Win at Barber

Josef Newgarden wasn't nervous with three-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon and a hard-charging Graham Rahal within striking distance in the closing laps of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. The 24-year-old Tennessee native held off both competitors and pulled away for his first Verizon IndyCar Series victory in his 55th start.

Newgarden, driving the No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet, is the fourth different winner in as many races this season. This was the first victory since the merger of Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and the team's sixth win overall.

"This is the way I wanted to do it. I didn't want to win on some crazy incident, or on luck," Newgarden said. "This team deserves it. They gave me an incredible car and let me get out there and rip with the thing and pass people on pure merit. And that's due to CFH Racing - they were just incredible today. We're going up against the giants, but I think this team can be a giant one day."

Rahal, who charged from fifth in the final 10 laps on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park road course, overtook Dixon on the final lap to claim his first podium finish since Belle Isle 1 last May. Rahal, driving the No. 15 Steak 'n Shake Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, finished 2.2061 seconds behind Newgarden.

"The Honda did a great job for me today," Rahal said. "I passed a lot of guys and I hope everyone enjoyed the race because we were pushing to the last seconds. A few more laps and I think we would have had (Newgarden)."

Dixon, who won a week earlier on the streets of Long Beach, California, finished third in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. He has finished on the podium in all six races at Barber Motorsports Park (four second-place finishes and third in each of the past two seasons).

Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power, who won at Barber in 2011 and 2012, placed fourth in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won the past two races at Barber, finished fifth in the No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda.

Helio Castroneves was running fourth in the final laps but had to pit with one lap remaining for a splash of fuel. The unplanned stop dropped the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner to 15th place in the waning laps - one position behind Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who maintained the series championship lead by three points over Castroneves.

The Verizon IndyCar Series next heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a full Month of May. On May 9, the series will be on the road course for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and then the famed oval on May 24 for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500.

NASCAR Sprint Cup: Kurt Busch the best at Richmond

Suspension to redemption.

After being suspended for three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races earlier this season after an alleged domestic violence incident, Kurt Busch won Sunday’s postponed Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway in a dominating performance, virtually locking up a spot in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

"It’s an incredible feeling," said Busch, who was reinstated March 11 and granted a waiver into the Chase. "It’s a total team effort. And the way that everything came together, it just seemed like we were building, building and building towards a great finish like this.

"I have this opportunity because of Gene Haas and everybody that’s a part of our family at Stewart-Haas. It’s an unbelievable feeling when you pull deep from within, you go through troubles and you know when you’re accused of something and things go sideways. Your personal life doesn’t need to affect your business life and I’m here in Victory Lane. It feels great to do it at Richmond."

Kevin Harvick finished second, Johnson was third followed by McMurray, Logano, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. to round out the top 10.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will race on July 26 at IMS in the Crown Royal presents “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard.

NASCAR XFINITY Series: Hamlin leads all but two laps in win

Domination must be contagious.

Six days after Joey Logano led all 300 laps in a NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Bristol, Denny Hamlin led 248 of 250 circuits in winning Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway.

The only two laps that spoiled a Hamlin no-hitter were Brian Scott’s dive bomb off Turn 4 to lead Lap 154 by inches and Elliott Sadler’s contrarian fuel strategy, which allowed him to lead Lap 226 during a cycle of green-flag pit stops before Hamlin, on fresh tires, roared back past him on Lap 227.

Aside from those fleeting moments, however, it was no contest.

In winning the 12th NASCAR XFINITY Series race of his career, his first of the season and his third at Richmond, Hamlin held leads as large as 6.5 seconds and crossed the finish line 3.719 seconds ahead of Logano, with just eight cars on the lead lap.

Regan Smith was third, followed by Erik Jones, Chase Elliott and rookie Daniel Suarez, as Joe Gibbs Racing placed three drivers in the top six (Hamlin, Jones and Suarez).

The victory was the 100th for Toyota in the XFINITY Series.

The XFINITY Series comes to IMS on July 25 for the Lilly Diabetes 250.


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