RELATED: CMS plans '24-day salute' for Gordon There will be a slightly different look to the frontstretch when NASCAR teams travel to Charlotte Motor Speedway in October for Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series events. Track engineers and turf specialists began the process this week of installing a 6-foot wide "transition barrier" between the pavement and the grass area that separates the racing surface from pit road. The border, which consists of a sand/soil mix with rye grass and will be the same level as the asphalt, is expected to decrease the likelihood of damage to a car should it travel off the racing surface and onto the infield grass. "The goal is to create something similar to a fairway to rough transition you might see on a golf course," Scott Cooper, Vice President of Communications for CMS, told NASCAR.com. "If a driver gets pinched down, he or she should have a good opportunity to get back on the track without suffering too much damage to the car." Current ride-height rules have Sprint Cup cars much lower than in previous years, and damage to splitters and other front-end pieces of the cars often occur after nothing more than a spin through the grass at some facilities. Crews will put down approximately 140 tons of the sand/soil mix to complete the project. Only the grass transition barrier will be lower – the infield grass beyond the 6-foot area where sponsor and track logos normally appear -- will be unchanged. "Hopefully, this will create another 'Pass in the Grass' opportunity," Cooper said, referencing Dale Earnhardt's brief run through the infield grass en route to winning the series' 1997 All-Star Race. Contact between Earnhardt and Bill Elliott as the two battled for the lead sent Earnhardt's blue-and-yellow No. 3 briefly off-track; Earnhardt maintained control of his car and remained the leader as he shot back up onto the racing surface. CMS will host the Bank of America Sprint Cup Series race Saturday, Oct. 10. It is the first race of the Contender Round in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup . The Drive for the Cure 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 9.
Watch a condensed version of the Bank of America 500 as the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup kicks off, leaving several title threats under pressure after a long afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway .
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . hasn't spoken with NASCAR officials about fluid on the track last weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway , and he hasn't talked with fellow driver Carl Edwards about contact early in the Bank of America 500 . Both events ended with the No. 88 Chevrolet making contact with the outside wall and were factors in his 28th-place finish. For now, the Hendrick Motorsports driver said, the focus is "on the next two races to try to win so I can advance. "If we don't advance," he said, "we can change our focus." First up is Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway (2:15 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). Earnhardt will start 15th in the 43-car field. "No, I didn't talk with either one of them," Earnhardt said prior to qualifying Friday at Kansas. The oil likely went unnoticed because of "shade or whatever it was that the billboards cast across the track. I don't know why (NASCAR officials) didn't see it or didn't know it was there or didn't understand it was there." "I think we were in good shape to rebound and get a top-10 finish before we hit the oil and the wall," Earnhardt said. "That definitely hurt our opportunity." As for the incident with Edwards, which occurred earlier in the race, Earnhardt said it was impatience on the part of the Joe Gibbs Racing driver that led to the contact. "He didn't hit me in the quarter panel, he hit me in the back of the car," he said. "I think he was just impatient there." Less than 15 laps later, Earnhardt Jr. brought out the caution when a right-side tire went down, a result of the contact with the wall. He restarted 37th, one lap down, but was able to work his way back onto the lead lap he hit the wall again. The finish left Earnhardt 11th out of the 12 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders. Only the top eight advance into the Eliminator Round, which will be determined following the Kansas and Talladega Superspeedway events. "Right now, it is so difficult at some of these mile and a halves," Edwards said, "everyone is so protective of their position and … aggressive and trying to get every spot you can. It's racing and you just have to do the best you can. "You have to make decisions in the heat of the moment and every once in a while stuff happens. I'm definitely glad we didn't suffer any damage from it (at Charlotte ) and I wish it wouldn’t have turned out the way it did to end up ruining the 88's ( Dale Earnhardt Jr .) day, but it was just tough racing."
RELATED: Full race results " Race recap SHOP: Champion gear In a season fit for the silver screen, Kyle Busch completed his emotional comeback from a devastating season-opening injury to capture his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. Busch took home the 2015 championship by being the top finisher among the Championship 4 drivers, which also included Kevin Harvick , Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr ., in the Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Busch led 41 laps on the day and the last seven of the 267-lap event for his first career postseason win as a member of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field. "Rowdy" spent much of the race running in the top two and took the lead from Brad Keselowski for good shortly after the Lap 261 restart. Busch then distanced himself from Harvick, the series' 2014 champion, who finished as the runner-up in the race and final standings. Gordon finished sixth in his final race, while Truex finished 12th. "This is just so unbelievable, so amazing and means so much right here, right now and probably will for a long, long time to come," Busch said on the championship stage at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "The opportunity that the amount of people that have poured their life and soul into everything that Kyle Busch does and is about -- from M&M's to Toyota to Snickers and Twix and Skittles, Joe Gibbs (team owner) and his family and all of Joe Gibbs Racing , everyone that gave me such a fast race car here tonight to drive. It was so much fun. "This is just a dream come true and my family, my wife, my son -- to have him this year and to have everything we've gone through this year to be in this moment -- I don't know what else to say, but this is so special." The title makes the Busch brothers -- Kurt won the 2004 championship -- the second pair of brothers in NASCAR to win premier series championships. The Labonte brothers also have accomplished that with Terry winning titles in 1984 and 1996 and Bobby winning in 2000. RELATED: See all the premier series champions The 2015 season started off in a frightening fashion for Busch. A crash in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway left him with a broken right leg and a broken left foot. Busch missed the first 11 points races of the season before returning in the middle of May for the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Matt Crafton , David Ragan and Erik Jones each took turns behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing . NASCAR granted Busch a waiver to make the Chase provided he was able to win a race and crack the top 30 in points before the end of the 26-race regular season at Richmond International Raceway . It took Busch just over a month to find Victory Lane and he did so at Sonoma Raceway, holding off his brother. That sparked a stretch of four wins in five races for the 30-year-old, including three straight wins at Kentucky Speedway , New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway . He nearly pulled off a fourth straight win at Pocono Raceway but ran out of gas on the final lap. RELATED: See all the 2015 winners For the second half of the waiver requirement, Busch cracked the top 30 in points after the race at Watkins Glen International in August and secured his spot in the Chase after the Darlington race, which was the second-to-last race of the regular season. The Chase provided an early test for Busch as a wreck at New Hampshire and a 37th-place finish left him on the outside looking in of advancing to the Contender Round heading to Dover International Speedway . However, he was able to rally to advance with a runner-up finish at the "Monster Mile." Contact with Kyle Larson near the entrance of pit road at Charlotte in the Contender Round opener derailed a promising day for Busch and left him needing strong performances at Kansas Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway to make the Eliminator Round. Busch delivered at both, gaining the spots he needed late at Talladega, which was where he was involved in a wreck the previous year that took him out of the Chase. Busch was a model of consistency in the Eliminator Round with three top-five finishes to advance on points to the Championship 4. The title season was also a big one off the track for Busch as he and wife Samantha welcomed son Brexton in May, just days after Busch's return to competition. During Championship 4 Media Day, Busch and Joe Gibbs revealed that Busch had inked a contract extension days after the news of Mars extension as sponsor on the No. 18 Toyota was announced. The Sprint Cup championship is the first for crew chief Adam Stevens, who was in his first year as a pit boss in the Sprint Cup Series, and the fourth (and first since 2005) for Gibbs. It was also the first Sprint Cup championship for manufacturer Toyota. "We are extremely proud of Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing on winning the Sprint Cup Series driver's championship," said Ed Laukes, vice president of marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. "It's an incredible accomplishment for Kyle, to overcome the adversity he faced this year and come back with the focus and determination he has had to win races, qualify for the Chase and then earn the ultimate prize, his first Sprint Cup Series championship. "Winning this NASCAR championship has been a huge aspiration for Toyota since joining NASCAR in 2004. We are honored to finally be on this stage and join Kyle and Joe Gibbs for our first Sprint Cup Series title." Championship weekend was a banner one for the 30-year-old Busch. In addition to his Sprint Cup championship, Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Erik Jones won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship on Friday night and KBM won the owner's championship in that series.
• 2014 Season In Review Also Features Year In Photos, Video Highlights Package FORT WORTH, Texas (December 16, 2014) - The year at Texas Motor Speedway opened with pyrotechnics celebrating the unveiling of the world's largest, high-definition LED video board in March and culminated in November with additional fireworks courtesy of the post-race melee involving combatants Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 Eliminator 8 Chase race. There also was plenty of action and excitement in between as Texas Motor Speedway played host to its annual Duck Commander 500 NASCAR doubleheader in April, Firestone 600 INDYCAR/NASCAR twin bill in June and played host to its inaugural Red Bull Air Race World Championship event in September. The Texas Motor Speedway 2014 Season In Review recaps those major event weekends, in addition to the momentous "Big Hoss TV" unveiling, while the accompanying Texas Motor Speedway Year in Photos captures all those key moments in addition to other noteworthy speedway -related events throughout the year. The Texas Motor Speedway Year in Photos features 90 images - primarily from the speedway's official photo agency Getty Images - that were chosen for their significance and/or artistic value and are presented in chronological order. A three-minute video recap of the top on-track moments, including the AAA Texas 500 post-race skirmish, also is available in HD by clicking here. All photos and video are free for media outlets to utilize, especially for their year-end, wrap-ups and can be previewed by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com or downloaded by visiting www.image.net/tmsinreview2014 . Let's take a look back: "Big Hoss TV" Unveiling / Wednesday, March 19 The Skinny: The world's largest, high-definition LED video board is unveiled amid fanfare and will be one of the most impactful fan enhancements in the history of Texas Motor Speedway and the world of motorsports. The Recap: Texas Motor Speedway unveiled the world's largest, high-definition LED video board in grand fashion as the evening featured fireworks, motorsports stars, reality television celebrities, dignitaries and the showing of an episode from A&E's hit reality show "Duck Dynasty" for more than 8,000 fans situated in the infield of the world-class sports facility. The official debut of the Panasonic-built "Big Hoss TV" was part of a star-studded evening that included appearances by Duck Commander CEO and "Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson and his wife, Korie, along with the heralded racing duo of NASCAR's Kyle Busch and INDYCAR's Helio Castroneves. Also in attendance were dignitaries such as NASCAR President Mike Helton, Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, Panasonic Eco Solutions North America Vice President Richard Ballard, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Chairman Bruton Smith, SMI President and COO Marcus Smith and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. Positioned in the middle of the backstretch and stretching 218 feet wide by 94.6 feet tall, "Big Hoss TV" features 20,633.64 square feet of HD LED imagery that contains 281 trillion colors. The video board, constructed in just four months, surpassed fellow Speedway Motorsports, Inc. facility Charlotte Motor Speedway (16,000 square feet) as the Guinness World Record holder for the world's largest HD LED video board. The size of "Big Hoss TV" is staggering as it is 79 percent larger than the video board at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, which is 11,520 square feet. "It is the ultimate fan amenity," Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. "To have the biggest one in the world, that's just one of those 'Everything is Bigger in Texas' stories that we are really proud to be a part of." NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 / Monday, April 7 The Skinny: Rain forces a Monday matinee for only the third time in speedway history and Joey Logano wins the Duck Commander 500 for an automatic berth in the reformatted Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . The Recap: With Duck Commander on board as the title sponsor and the "Duck Dynasty" stars on hand en masse, the weather was more conducive for duck hunting that NASCAR racing. The Duck Commander 500 , moved from its Saturday night slot to Sunday afternoon to avoid a conflict with the NCAA Final Four men's college basketball tourney being in Arlington, was washed out due to continual rain showers and rescheduled for a Monday matinee. It was just the third time in Texas Motor Speedway 's 18-year history that a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was run on Monday due to inclement weather, the most recent coming in 2010 when both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races were run on the same day. Penske Racing's Joey Logano punched his ticket for a berth in the restructured Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format after surviving a green/white-checkered finish to win the Duck Commander 500 . Logano was cruising to victory with a two-second lead over teammate Brad Keselowski with just over one lap remaining in the scheduled 334-lap event, but a caution for debris forced a two-lap overtime shootout. Logano restarted third after pitting for four tires while Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers opted for two tires and restarted first and second, respectively. Gordon held off Logano on the first lap, but Logano got a strong run inside on the frontstretch and was able to overtake him in Turn 1 and pull away to a 0.476 of a second margin of victory in the race that was extended to 340 laps. The victory was Logano's first since August of 2013 at Michigan and the fourth of his career. It also was his first Sprint Cup win at Texas Motor Speedway , which was highlighted by him becoming the youngest Cup winner in TMS history at 23 years, 10 months and 14 days. NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 / Friday, April 4 The Skinny: Rookie Chase Elliott , the 18-year-old son of NASCAR great Bill Elliott , lands his first career Nationwide Series victory in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 to become the second-youngest winner in series history. The Recap: Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 provided a historic milestone for a second-generation NASCAR driver and a glimpse into the talent that would flourish and lead to a series championship. Rookie Chase Elliott , the 18-year-old high school senior and son of NASCAR great Bill Elliott , needed just six starts in the Nationwide Series for his first career win that came in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 . Elliott made a bold move on the high side of Kevin Harvick in the elbow of the frontstretch to take the lead on Lap 185 and then held on for a 2.251-second victory over Kyle Busch in the 200-lap event. Elliott became the second-youngest winner in series history at 18 years, 4 months and 8 days. Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600 / Saturday, June 7 The Skinny: Will Power's late pit lane penalty opens the door for Ed Carpenter to capture the Firestone 600 and become the first American winner at TMS since Sam Hornish Jr . in 2007. The Recap: The annual INDYCAR/NASCAR summer doubleheader yielded two first-time Texas Motor Speedway winners as Matt Crafton won the Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino 350 and Ed Carpenter was victorious in the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600. Carpenter took advantage of a strong second-half race performance and a critical late pit lane penalty by Will Power to record his first series victory since 2012 in the Firestone 600. The victory was the third of Carpenter's career and his first since winning the 2012 season finale at Fontana. In his previous 12 starts at Texas Motor Speedway , he had just one top-five finish and led one lap (2009) before breaking through to become the first American to win at Texas since Sam Hornish Jr . in 2007. Carpenter led 66 of the final 67 laps of the 248-lap event and avoided a potential shootout for the win with Power, who was running second when he was caught speeding in pit lane on his final green-flag pit stop. With 36 to go, Carpenter and Power pitted together and came out 1-2, but Power received a drive-thru penalty for speeding and fell a lap down. Carpenter suddenly had a nine-plus second cushion over second-place Tony Kanaan and was coasting to victory with an 18.5-second lead before a final caution came out with seven laps remaining. The race became a two-lap shootout and Carpenter was able to stave off Juan Pablo Montoya and the hard-charging Power, who moved from sixth to second and finished 0.52 of a second behind Carpenter. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 400 / Friday, June 6 The Skinny: Defending Camping World Truck Series champ Matt Crafton snaps a 26-race winless streak at TMS with a dominant victory in the WinStar World Casino & Resort 400. The Recap: Defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton had it easy compared to Verizon IndyCar Series driver Ed Carpenter in earning his first career win at Texas Motor Speedway . He led a career-best 118 laps en route to the victory in the WinStar World Casino & Resort 400 that snapped a 26-race winless streak at the speedway . Crafton led 118 of the 167 laps - the most he led in a single race in his 14-year career - and cruised to a 13.302-second victory over runner-up Justin Lofton . It was the fifth win of Crafton's career and second of the season, marking the first time in his career that he had recorded multiple wins in a season. His dominant performance established a track record for largest margin of victory in that series, eclipsing the previous mark of 11.817 seconds set by Dennis Setzer in this event in 2004. Red Bull Air Race World Championship / Saturday, Sept. 6, & Sunday, Sept. 7 The Skinny: Texas Motor Speedway plays host to the first race in the United States since 2010 for the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, which returned to competition after a three-year hiatus. The Recap: The Red Bull Air Race World Championship made its return to the United States for the first time since 2010 as Texas Motor Speedway played host to the sixth stage of the eight-event international plane racing series. Before a crowd of more than 20,000 for the first of two U.S. stops, Frenchman Nicolas Ivanoff captured his first victory of the season in the elite Master Class on the challenging, seven air gate, 3.7-mile course that was built in the infield of the motorsports venue. Ivanoff posted an individual two-lap run of 54.118 seconds to defeat Great Britain's Nigel Lamb, Canada's Pete McLeod and Germany's Matthias Dolderer in the Final 4 showdown on Sunday. Ivanoff gave his country a sweep of the weekend competition as fellow Frenchman Mikael Brageot won the Challenger Cup race the day prior. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 / Sunday, Nov. 2 The Skinny: A post-race confrontation between Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski and ensuing melee steals national headlines from six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson winning the AAA Texas 500 for a third year in a row. The Recap : With the remaining eight Chase for NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers looking to win the AAA Texas 500 and automatically advance to the championship round, six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson played the role of spoiler as he won the Eliminator 8 race in a dramatic second green/white-checkered overtime finish. Johnson, eliminated from championship contention in the previous round, won the AAA Texas 500 for a record third consecutive year, but it was the post-race scuffle that made national headlines the following day. While Johnson was celebrating his track-record fourth Cup win with burnouts on the frontstretch, chaos ensued on pit lane after an angry Jeff Gordon confronted Brad Keselowski and a fray quickly developed between the Chase contenders. Fellow Chase competitor Kevin Harvick pushed Keselowski while Gordon was jawing with him and the situation quickly escalated as the crews got involved and transformed into a melee. The disagreement stemmed from the first GWC finish, where Gordon took the restart with the lead and Johnson beside him on the front row. Johnson grabbed the lead when a bold move by Keselowski resulted in contact with Gordon, which ultimately led to a flat tire, contact with the wall and a 29th-place finish that would derail his title aspirations. The caution flew for Gordon that set up the second GWC finish, where Keselowski found himself lining up front against the leader Johnson on the restart. Johnson, on the inside, maintained the lead on the restart while Keselowski found himself also trying to fend off a charging Harvick. Harvick got past Keselowski on that lap but didn't have enough time to chase down Johnson, who won by 0.513 of a second for his fourth victory of the season and 70th of his career. Johnson led nine times for 191 laps, but a record 13 cautions continually bunched the field as well as changed race strategies to give a number of drivers a shot at the victory.Johnson, Harvick and Keselowski took the top three positions, respectively, while Kyle Busch , who was looking to sweep all three NASCAR races after truck and Nationwide wins earlier, finished fourth. NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge / Saturday, Nov. 1 The Skinny: Kyle Busch gives Joe Gibbs Racing its 100th career Nationwide Series win and sets his sights on rare NASCAR tripleheader weekend sweep after winning the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge . The Recap: Kyle Busch added to the weekend drama and intrigue when he secured the second leg of a rare NASCAR tripleheader weekend sweep with a win in the Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge . Busch completed the Nationwide Series/ Camping World Truck Series sweep for the second time in his career at Texas Motor Speedway , with the first coming in the fall of 2009. That only left Sunday's AAA Texas 500 as the missing prize for the triple, which had only been accomplished by Busch (Bristol 2010) in the history of NASCAR. Busch extended his record for career Nationwide Series victories at Texas Motor Speedway by adding his seventh with a 1.562-second win over Joey Logano . Busch, who led six times for a race-high 116 laps, and Logano, who led five times for 59 laps, exchanged the lead six times over the final 85 laps in the 200-lap event before Busch took control late. It also was his seventh NNS victory of the season, 70th in his career and a milestone 100th for Joe Gibbs Racing . NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 / Friday, Oct. 31 The Skinny: Kyle Busch wins the WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 as Kyle Busch Motorsports ties the Camping World Truck Series record for most victories in a season. The Recap: Kyle Busch , competing in all three NASCAR races during the weekend and chasing a rare sweep, endured a green/white-checkered overtime finish to secure the first leg with a victory in the WinStar World Casino & Resort 350. Busch, who led a race-high 80 of 152 laps, was cruising to victory when two late cautions put a scare into his bid to secure his seventh win in just nine NCWTS starts this season. Following the final caution that led to the two-lap shootout, Busch got a strong restart on the outside of leader German Quiroga and took command of the lead coming out of Turn 2. He was pulling away with one lap to go when Quiroga hit the wall in Turn 2 to force the conclusion of the final lap to finish under caution. Busch's series-leading seventh win was his third truck victory at Texas Motor Speedway that pushed his career total in the series to 42. It also was the 12th victory overall for Kyle Busch Motorsports in 20 starts this season, tying the series record for season victories set by Ultra Motorsports in 2001. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
RELATED: See the full Chase Grid Entering the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , something looms over the remaining 12 drivers in the sport's championship battle -- massive Talladega Superspeedway . Yes, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Saturday's Bank of America 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and from there the series moves to Kansas Speedway for the Hollywood Casino 400 . Yet the 2.66-mile track, which hosts the CampingWorld.com 500 on Oct. 25, is firmly on the minds of all the competitors even though it's two weeks away. "I think this round is probably the most stressful because of Talladega," Martin Truex Jr . told reporters earlier this week at Contender Round Media Day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "I think everybody is really putting a lot of pressure on themselves to do good in these first two and try to get a win so you don't have to worry about Talladega." And Truex is not the only driver who feels that way. "Yeah, nobody wants to go to Talladega ‑‑ even if you're Dale Earnhardt Jr . and you feel like you're the most dominant car on those restrictor-plate tracks, and we've been, I think, as dominant as he has been just without the victories, I still don't want to go there and have to be in the top 10," four-time series champion Jeff Gordon said during media day. "You know, it's just one of those tracks where there's too many variables that can reach out and grab you." Carl Edwards simplified the approach even more, saying that he looked at the Contender Round as a "two-race series" instead of three races because of the uncertainty with Talladega. The two-time 2015 winner predicted drivers would be going even harder to try to get a win at Charlotte or Kansas to secure a spot in the Eliminator Round of eight drivers. "If you have a shot, if you can see the win at one of these next two races, you are going to see just some really tough racing for that win because nobody wants to go to Talladega with the uncertainty," Edwards said on Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "There's going to be a lot of nerves at Talladega." Last year Kansas hosted the opening race of the Contender Round. That event saw Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr . find trouble they ultimately could not recover from, while Brad Keselowski had to score a walk-off win at 'Dega to overcome his Kansas trouble. But simply navigating the opening two races of the Contender Round doesn't make drivers immune to Talladega trouble, either. Kyle Busch scored top-five finishes at Kansas and Charlotte in 2014 before being caught up in a 10-car wreck at the Alabama track that sent him to a 40th-place finish and ultimately knocked him out of the Chase -- something that wasn't lost on the Joe Gibbs Racing driver this week. "Last year we played it right, we were the top point total scorer of the first two rounds and we were seeded the highest guy without a win and we went to Talladega and we sure learned how to throw that away," Busch said. "I think what we can do a better job of instead of being one of the only guys to race at the back of the pack and get ourselves caught up in something that none of the other Chasers were involved in, is race with all the rest of the Chasers and if they all get caught up in a wreck and we do too then hopefully our point total will all be lower, but all the same instead of me just being the only guy down at the bottom of the totem pole." The value of winning early in a round of the Chase is raised to an even higher level in the Contender Round with the uncertainty of Talladega on the horizon. "When you look at Charlotte and Kansas -- the first two races of this round -- they're super-important," Joey Logano said. "If you can win, you're going to be sleeping a lot better at night."
RELATED: Live weather updates from Charlotte " See the starting lineup CONCORD, N.C. -- Saturday night's scheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway , the Bank of America 500 , has been postponed due to rain. Originally scheduled for a 7:16 p.m. ET start on Saturday, the race will now go green at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon. NBCSN will televise the 334-lap race, with radio coverage on PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio -- NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM will go live with pre-race coverage at noon ET. The race at Charlotte is the first event of the three-race Contender Round in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Prior to this race, six races had a weather delay of some kind during the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season: The Atlanta race in March, the Bristol race in April, the Richmond race in April, the Kansas race in May, the Michigan race in June and the summer race at Daytona. Only the Richmond race was postponed from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, while the Michigan race was shortened by rain. Matt Kenseth won the Coors Light Pole Award at Charlotte and will start out front. Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch joins him on the front row. Kevin Harvick , who scored a win at Dover International Speedway last weekend to advance in the Chase, is the defending race winner at Charlotte . Twelve drivers remain in play for the championship: Kenseth, Joey Logano , Denny Hamlin , Carl Edwards , Martin Truex Jr . , Kurt Busch , Jeff Gordon , Brad Keselowski , Kyle Busch , Ryan Newman , Dale Earnhardt Jr . and the defending series champion, Harvick. Races at Kansas Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway are also part of the Contender Round. This story will be updated.
RELATED: Practice 2 results " Final practice results Kyle Busch led the way in a brotherly 1-2 punch atop final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Busch landed a fast lap of 189.354 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota in the 50-minute session, the final tune-up for Saturday night's Bank of America 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM). He'll start second to JGR teammate Matt Kenseth , the Coors Light Pole Award winner, in the fourth race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Brother Kurt Busch was second-fastest at 188.996 mph in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet, backing up his fast time from second practice. The elder Busch was also fastest in the 10-lap average category, edging Jimmie Johnson over the longer run. Joey Logano wound up third-fastest, turning a lap at 188.508 mph in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford. Chevrolet drivers Ryan Newman (188.488 mph) and Dale Earnhardt Jr . (188.311) completed the top five. Much like Friday's earlier practice, the leaderboard was dominated by Chase-eligible drivers, who swept the top six spots. Kenseth was the furthest down the speed chart in 25th, battling through a tire rub after a slight scrape of the outside retaining wall. Defending series champ and defending race winner Kevin Harvick managed the 12th-fastest lap, improving upon his 25th-best lap in the Friday's earlier session. Kurt Busch shows way in Friday's first practice Kurt Busch rocketed to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaderboard Friday, topping second practice Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Busch, driving the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet, clocked a fast lap of 188.772 mph on the 1.5-mile track. He also logged the third-most laps (45) of any driver in the 55-minute session in preparation for Saturday night's Bank of America 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM), the fourth event in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Only teammate Tony Stewart (49) and Kyle Busch (48) turned more laps. Carl Edwards , the winner of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte in May, was second-fastest at 18.620 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota. Ryan Newman claimed the third-best lap (187.630 mph) in the Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet. Martin Truex Jr . and Joey Logano completed the top five as Chase drivers swept the first eight spots on the practice leaderboard. Jimmie Johnson , eliminated from title contention in last weekend's Challenger Round finale at Dover, was fastest of the non-Chasers at ninth overall on the speed charts. His Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet was fastest in the five-lap average and 10-lap average categories, offering optimism for Johnson & Co. in terms of long-term speed. Kevin Harvick , defending Sprint Cup Series champion and defending race winner, was 26th-fastest overall with the second-slowest lap among the remaining 12 Chase-eligible drivers. Jeff Gordon , prepping for what likely will be his final Charlotte Motor Speedway start, was slowest of the Chase drivers, 32nd overall. Matt Kenseth , the Coors Light Pole Award winner in Thursday qualifying, was also well down the leaderboard in 22nd overall.
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid Below is a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the rain-delayed Bank of America 500 : 1. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano led a career-high 227 laps on Sunday en route to his first Charlotte victory. He advances to the next round of the Chase. " 1-on-1: Logano discusses victory, locking in Eliminator Round spot 2. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick was quiet on the radio with 22 laps to go Sunday as he continually tried to chip away at Logano's lead. 3. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Truex held on to notch his best Charlotte result despite brushing the wall and developing a front-end handling issue with 52 laps to go. " RELATED: Truex discusses Charlotte run 4. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin flipped to his backup battery with about 100 laps left in Sunday's race and outran concern that even his backup battery was experiencing issues. 5. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Kurt Busch spent most of Sunday quietly running inside the top 10 and keeping himself in contention for the next round of the Chase. 6. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards started eighth and was a steady presence in the top 10 en route to his 12th top-10 of the season. 7. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon won Friday's XFINITY race at Charlotte and then on Sunday posted his best Cup performance at the 1.5-mile track. 8. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon held steady in his final race at Charlotte , site of his first career Cup victory in 1994. 9. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski held ninth during the last 19 laps despite a loose wheel. 10. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola used his best Charlotte finish to score his fifth top-10 of the year. 11. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer stayed out during green-flag stops to lead Lap 234 before settling back into the top 15. 12. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Under caution on Lap 195, McMurray told his team that his car was pretty good until it got into oil and he lost position on a track where passing was difficult. 13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse earned the beneficiary pass during the final caution period and rolled on to match his second-best finish at Charlotte . 14. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford. Wood Brothers Racing . A native of nearby High Point, North Carolina, Blaney scored his best Charlotte result and third top-15 of the year. 15. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Just prior to the sixth caution flag, Newman sustained right-side damage after Matt Kenseth cut across his nose on his way into the wall. " RELATED: Is Newman in bubble trouble? 16. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger overcame early damage sustained when he made contact with another car on Lap 193 and knocked in his right-side fenders. 17. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish stretched his pit window in the closing 100 laps when he stayed out during green-flag stops to lead twice for 22 laps around Charlotte . 18. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears held on after a tight-handling condition developed late in Sunday’s race and sent him into the fence. 19. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick worked with her team on the handling of her car and benefited from long green-flag runs en route to her best Charlotte finish. 20. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . "He was never going to make the commitment cone anyway," Busch said said after making contact with Kyle Larson near the entrance of pit road. Busch, then running in the top five, made a late decision to skip pit road, while Larson did just the opposite. " RELATED: Busch disappointed after rough day at Charlotte 21. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. "Please apologize as much as you can," Larson radioed his crew after making a late decision to hit pit road during the eighth caution period and collecting Chase contender Kyle Busch in the process. " For more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView and/or Scanner today 22. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne made an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 71 just prior to the fourth caution flag for a right-front wheel vibration. 23. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill held out during green-flag stops and ran as high as third on Lap 131 before finally making his green-flag stop. 24. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle struggled to recover track position after making an unscheduled stop on Lap 90 for a loose wheel. 25. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . In his fourth Charlotte outing, Annett picked up his best finish at the 1.5-mile speedway . 26. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart grazed the wall on Lap 115 and had to pit 12 laps later with a flat tire. 27. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Carrying the #SCStrong on his decklid in support of the recent flooding in South Carolina, Gilliland did his best to avoid trouble on Sunday. 28. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt lost his right-front tire and faded through the field before hitting the wall to bring out the fourth caution period. " RELATED: Junior says 'it ain't over' for the 88 team 29. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . It was a promising day for DiBenedetto who turned in his best Charlotte result. 30. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Moffitt recorded his best Charlotte finish after lining up 37th Sunday. 31. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing . McDowell bounced off the wall in the closing third of Sunday’s race, but survived without picking up a tire rub. 32. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . A puncture in the left-rear tire prompted Bowman to make an unscheduled stop during the first 115 laps, but a subsequent tire rub put the No. 7 Chevy back on pit road for repairs. 33. J.J. Yeley, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley was black-flagged on Lap 35 after one of his crew members kneed-in his right-rear quarter panel. 34. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport Racing. Kennedy survived a messy start to Sunday’s race, but very quickly found himself fighting for the beneficiary pass. 35. Reed Sorenson , No. 98 Ford, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson earned the beneficiary pass during the competition caution, but struggled to stay on the lead lap. 36. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard brushed the wall on Lap 133 but held on to keep the caution flag from coming out and made his scheduled stop three laps later. 37. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . On Lap 291, Ragan told his team the engine was out of water and he brought his car to pit road. 38. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Stacked up on the first green flag, Whitt received contact from behind and had to spend an extended amount of time on pit road during the first caution flag to patch his bumper. 39. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson's strong day was stalled by an engine issue (oil pump) that sent him to the garage with 77 laps to go on Sunday. " RELATED: Silver lining to early exit 40. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier radioed that he just "killed the radiator" after he made contact with Michael McDowell on the Lap 182 restart. " For more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView and/or Scanner today 41. Jeb Burton , No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . As he took the green flag at the start, Burton ran into the back of slowing competitors, incurring significant left-front damage and bringing out the caution flag on Lap 1. 42. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth's day "snowballed" after a couple pit road mistakes combined with tire rub and then on-track contact with Ryan Newman . Kenseth ultimately broke something on the right-front of his car and retreated to the garage. " RELATED: Multiple incidents ruin Kenseth's day 43. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne cut a tire twice inside the first 61 laps on Sunday; the second one sent him hard into the wall and brought out the third caution flag.
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings Joey Logano surged to a dominant victory Sunday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway , landing an automatic berth in the next round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Logano, driving the Team Penske No. 22 Ford, led 227 of 334 laps in the Bank of America 500 , which was postponed by heavy Saturday night rain. He held off defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick to record his fourth win of the season, his first at the 1.5-mile track and 12th of his Sprint Cup Series career. The victory gives Logano immunity from elimination in the three-race Contender Round, making him one of the final eight title-eligible drivers in the Eliminator Round. His road to last year's championship round took a similar path; Logano also won 2014's Contender Round opener, which was hosted last year at Kansas Speedway . "This makes Talladega way easier," Logano said, pointing toward the always dicey Contender Round finale at the 2.66-mile Alabama track. "I know that's on everyone's mind when this round starts and last year we won Kansas when it was the first race of this round and now we were able to get it this time at Charlotte . We'll get lots of sleep here the next couple of weeks." Logano notched his victory a week after Harvick triumphed at Dover to claw his way back into the Chase. "I think everyone saw how fast he was last week and it probably made a lot of people nervous, but our team kept their heads up and stayed confident," Logano said. "We know we can beat them. We know we've got what we need over here, and our team is as tight-knit as they get. "I'm proud of them. I couldn't be more proud of them. We had a lot of money stops today to keep us out front. The pit stops were great and I couldn't be more proud of what they’re doing right now." Harvick's Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet finished .704 seconds behind Logano at the end of his 11th runner-up finish this year. Martin Truex Jr ., Denny Hamlin , Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards completed the top six as Chase drivers swept the first half-dozen positions. Seventh-finishing Austin Dillon was the top non-Chase driver. Early trouble made for a difficult day for Chase drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch , all of whom failed to finish on the lead lap. Earnhardt spent much of the race's middle section one lap down after brushing the wall twice, on Lap 69 and 74. He continued after repairs, then scraped the wall again after hitting oil on the track on a Lap 190 restart. Kenseth, the Coors Light Pole Award winner in Thursday qualifying, led 72 laps early before running into his own pitfalls. A pair of errors on pit stops pushed him back in the running order, then things got worse when he made contact with fellow Chaser Ryan Newman on Lap 176, sending his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 entry into the outside wall. After numerous stops for repairs, Kenseth scraped the wall again on Lap 204 and then hammered it on Lap 241, sending him behind the wall. "These are never the kind of days you want to have for sure, but it's just one of those days," Kenseth said. "We're real fast up front and we're real tight in traffic. We got behind on that first pit deal and then didn't catch the cautions right and it went green, overshot my pit and put us in the back so it’s just like one thing led to another and led to another. "We shouldn't have ever been back there to start with. My mistakes and they cost us today so we'll just move on from this and get ready for Kansas." Busch, Kenseth's JGR teammate, suffered damage and lost headway when he collided with Kyle Larson in a quirky collision at the pit-road entrance. Both drivers made moves to fake and entry onto pit road, but when Busch tried to return to the track in third place, he made sizable contact with second-place Larson. Busch wound up with a 20th-place finish, Earnhardt 28th and Kenseth 42nd, leaving all three with plenty of ground to make up in the next two Contender Round races -- next weekend at Kansas Speedway and the following week at Talladega Superspeedway . RELATED: Where Chase bubble drivers stand after Charlotte The race was originally scheduled for Saturday night, but rain forced its postponement to a sunny Sunday. "Well, we definitely had to make some bigger swings at the handling of the car than what we were prepared for last night," said Harvick. "I like racing in the day, and especially here at Charlotte , because it seems like the cars move around more and it's harder to get a hold of your car. "But we never were able to get the balance right on our car all weekend and just never really got comfortable in the car -- but kept grinding away, and it got better throughout the day today, and that's a good thing on race day." Contributing: NASCAR Wire Service