Ride along with Marcos Ambrose and A.J . Allmendinger as they battle it out for the win and a chance at a Chase spot.
CONCORD, N.C. -- Best Buy Co., and Richard Petty Motorsports on Tuesday announced their continued partnership for the 2011 Sprint Cup Series season that extends the consumer electronics retailer's status as primary sponsor of the No. 43 driven by A.J . Allmendinger . "Best Buy is proud to renew our relationship with Richard Petty Motorsports and driver A.J . Allmendinger for the 2011 season," said Drew Panayiotou, senior vice president, marketing, Best Buy. "Richard Petty is a motorsports icon and is well respected within the sport of NASCAR. Being a part of a team with his leadership is a privilege. We will be doing some innovative work with Richard Petty Motorsports surrounding our sponsorship, creating new and fun ways to engage the fans. We look forward to continuing our support of A.J . and the No. 43 team as they strive to make their way to Victory Lane." Best Buy will be the primary sponsor for 24 Sprint Cup Series events in 2011 and will be featured as the primary sponsor for two non-points events, the Duel and the Sprint All-Star Race. In addition, Best Buy will serve as an associate sponsor for the No. 9 driven by Marcos Ambrose. The deal marks the company's second year with Allmendinger and its seventh year in NASCAR. "It's great to have Best Buy back on board our No. 43 Ford," Allmendinger said. "They have been a great partner and I'm really excited about the opportunity to work with an organization that is as passionate about its racing program as I am. I think this is going to be a great year for this Richard Petty Motorsports team and I can't wait to get the Best Buy Ford into Victory Lane." Allmendinger is coming off a season in which he compiled two top-five finishes and eight top-10s. In addition, he scored his first career pole at Phoenix. Allmendinger finished season 19th in points, a career best.
A.J . Allmendinger saves the fuel needed to capture back-to-back Nationwide roadcourse wins.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Fully committed to earning the best possible result in the team's eighth consecutive Rolex 24 At Daytona outing, Michael Shank Racing will stage the strongest campaign in team history with three Daytona Prototype entries for the 49th running of the endurance classic on Jan. 29-30. On Friday, team owner Mike Shank announced the driver lineup for the third entry, with the No. 6 Ford-Dallara being driven Sprint Cup Series drivers A.J . Allmendinger and Michael McDowell and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson. The 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona will mark Allmendinger's sixth attempt in the Rolex 24. He has led every race that he has started, with a best result of second, which he shared with Wilson in 2006. Wilson has three starts in the event, and will look to improve his own personal best, having twice run to the checkered flag in the overall runner-up position. "I've been telling Mike that I am not going to stop trying to win this race until we get to the top, and hopefully we can do that this year," Allmendinger said. "Mike Shank runs a great team, and this race is what his entire organization is all about. I can't even describe how much I want to win this race. Getting so close the first time out, and having led it as much as we have only makes me want it that much more." McDowell has Grand-Am experience stretching back to 2004, as the Phoenix native broke through for his first Daytona Prototype victory one year later in Mexico City. While his motorsports career has seen him show speed in everything from open wheel machines to the Cup Series, his participation in the Rolex 24 has remained constant, with three top-10 finishes in four starts. "Starting the year with the Rolex 24 is a great way to kick the season off," McDowell said. "I've been fortunate to run the 24 with some strong driver lineups, but I feel like this is the best effort that I've been a part of. Mike Shank's cars are always very fast at Daytona and the team does an excellent job preparing the cars."
Allmendinger talks about the highlights of 2011 and his goals on making the Chase next year.
A.J . Allmendinger suffered a flat tire before the green flag, but battled back to finish second and transfer into the All-Star Race.
A.J . Allmendinger spins off Turn 4 and ends up tearing the front end off the No. 51.
Bruce: Never count 'Smoke' out, but he needs a win RELATED: Chase-clinching scenarios for Pocono It's been three years since Tony Stewart qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . And it's beginning to look as if the three-time series champion might miss this year's field of 16 as well. Stewart, 44, is 26th in points heading into this weekend's Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway. With only six races remaining before the field is set, it's unlikely that the co-owner/driver at Stewart-Haas Racing will qualify for one of the 16 positions based on points. To earn a chance to compete for this year's championship, Stewart needs nothing less than a victory in the coming weeks. Defending series champion Kevin Harvick , six-time champion Jimmie Johnson , '04 champ Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr . have officially clinched Chase berths. Joey Logano , Martin Truex Jr ., Brad Keselowski , Matt Kenseth , Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards are 2015 race winners and are currently 16th or higher in the points standings. Kyle Busch , riding a white-hot streak that has seen the Joe Gibbs Racing driver win three consecutive Sprint Cup events, and four of the last five, is on the doorstep of the top 30 in points (another Chase eligibility requirement). Non-winners, but those somewhat safely inside the top 16 in points include Jamie McMurray and Jeff Gordon . On less stable ground are Ryan Newman , Paul Menard and Kasey Kahne , currently 12th through 14th, respectively, in points. Unless he can advance his points position, Clint Bowyer , who sits 15th, would fall outside the Chase as soon as Kyle Busch cracks the top 30. Stewart is trying to climb into contention. Those on the periphery are likewise trying to advance -- or hold on -- to what they've earned thus far. A win in the coming weeks by anyone else, AJ Allmendinger (23rd) at Watkins Glen for example, would trump the points position of a non-winner inside the top 16. It's unlikely that someone such as Kahne, Menard or Bowyer is resting too comfortably these days. Kahne has made three consecutive appearances in the Chase, but isn't taking anything for granted; Menard's still chasing that first playoff opportunity; Bowyer, meanwhile, is attempting to return after missing the field a year ago. Aric Almirola (17th) and Greg Biffle (18th) made last year's Chase. Austin Dillon (19th) and Kyle Larson (20th) are still looking for that first career win and first Chase appearance. Would it be unwise to look past any of those drivers given the uncertain nature of racing? Rules package changes and a variety of tracks -- large, small and a road course to boot -- only serve to muddy the racing waters. Stewart's Chase absence has been well documented. A broken leg in 2013 sidelined the No. 14 driver for the season's final 15 races. A year ago, he missed three races prior to the start of the Chase, and while he was given a NASCAR exemption, Stewart failed to produce the necessary win or points position to qualify. Perhaps it would be just as unwise to look past Stewart, given what he has been able to accomplish in previous years. But the road ahead won't be an easy one for him or any of those looking to go from Chase hopeful to Chase qualifier. The calendar is starting to take an ugly turn. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
AJ Allmendinger talks about growing up watching Jeff Gordon and what NASCAR will be like without him.
No. 78 Furniture Row driver starts the year off with two top-10 finishes Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live LAS VEGAS -- Martin Truex Jr . was all smiles after climbing out of his car on Las Vegas Motor Speedway pit road, his runner-up finish in the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet his best in two seasons with the team. And as happy as he was, you got the feeling Truex wasn't satisfied. He still wanted more. "I've finished second a lot in my career," Truex said, with a grin. "But this feels good and it's better than third … or 30th." And the very fact Truex is shooting higher than a runner-up effort shows how far this single-car team has come in a year. Truex' debut with the Furniture Row Racing Team included winning the outside pole for the 2014 Daytona 500 but he finished last in the race and it proved a harbinger of things to come. He scored five top-10s but had 11 finishes of 25th or worse and led only one lap on the season after contending for a Chase bid a year earlier with Michael Waltrip Racing . This year he started 10th and finished eighth in the Daytona 500 and answered that last week at Atlanta with a sixth-place finish. His runner-up at Las Vegas equals a runner-up finish in the non-points paying Sprint Unlimited race at Daytona in February and he also finished fifth in his Daytona 500 qualifying race. And Truex is fourth in the Sprint Cup Series championship standings, only five points behind Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano entering next week's race in Phoenix. Truex could only shake his head when asked to describe the difference between the start of 2015 and the disappointment of 2014. "You can't describe it," he said. "When things aren't going good, you have to just keep on going and going, and working and working harder. "It's no different than what Sherry was going through. You find out what people are made of when they're down," Truex said, referring to his longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex, who has undergone treatment for ovarian cancer in the past year. "After seeing all that and being a part of that, its was like, a bad year in the race car, that's nothing. Caring for Pollex through her difficult treatment and watching her will to persevere and strength to overcome has affected Truex greatly and inspired him mightily. It has given him a new perspective and re-defined what it means to "never give up." "When you get a glimpse of something that could possibly change your life like that in a bad way, it makes you look at things a lot differently," Truex said. "Suddenly those bad days at the race track weren't so bad. Suddenly they were okay and I knew that if we just kept working hard, we could get through it all and certainly I feel like we have now. "But we're going to continue to work hard and try to get to that next level. We want to win races. We have got a great team. We have got good equipment right now and it's important when you're in those positions to try to take advantage of that." Truex was quick to credit some major offseason changes for the early season results. He has a new crew chief, Cole Pearn, and says the team's technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing is maturing and paying off, as is simply having a year under his belt with the FRR team. Third-place finisher Ryan Newman , a RCR driver and sixth-place finisher, JTG Daugherty Racing driver A.J . Allmendinger are part of that RCR alliance. "Just getting more experience together, getting more confidence in each other and really just having a better game plan going into the season is a big part of the reason why the cars are running better and all the teams seem to be running closer together," Truex said. Asked if the rules changes to the cars may have played a role in his reversal of fortune and lent itself more to his driving style, Truex said it was simpler than that. "I attribute it to knowing what we were doing wrong last year and fixing it over the winter time and coming out of the box kind of understanding what we're doing. "The biggest thing I was proud of today or took way from it was we were off a little bit at the beginning of the race and worked on it all day long, continued to get better and at the end of the day we were the best we've been all day." He continued, "That's what you like to see out of your team; you like to finish strong. "Got a lot of momentum on our side right now and hopefully we can keep building on that, build some more momentum and hopefully we are able to catch that 4-car (Sunday's race winner and points leader Kevin Harvick ) in a couple weeks." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule