A statistical look ahead to the 17th race of the Sprint Cup season DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 29, 2015) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida going into the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola on July 5 (7:45 p.m. ET on NBC). DAYTONA-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 CHEEZ-IT Ford) · One win, three top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 19.2 · Average Running Position of 17.1, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 81.8, 12th-best · 85 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 4,132 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.161 mph, sixth-fastest · 1,978 Laps in the Top 15 (52.7%), ninth-most · 2,382 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 12th-most Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota) · Three top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 15.5 · Average Running Position of 17.5, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 84.0, 10th-best · 82 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 3,939 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.212 mph, second-fastest Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · 11 top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 17.5 · Average Running Position of 15.8, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 90.5, third-best · 71 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 3,864 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most · 2,161 Laps in the Top 15 (60.9%), sixth-most · 2,724 Quality Passes, seventh-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota) · One win, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 19.1 · Series-best Average Running Position of 12.8 · Series-best Driver Rating of 96.2 · 85 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 4,023 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.207 mph, third-fastest · Series-high 2,488 Laps in the Top 15 (70.1%) · 2,869 Quality Passes, fourth-most Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet) · Three wins, 12 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.1 · Average Running Position of 14.1, second-best · Driver Rating of 91.9, second-best · 89 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · 4,353 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.086 mph, 10th-fastest · 2,475 Laps in the Top 15 (66.0%), second-most · 2,968 Quality Passes, second-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet) · Six wins, 13 top fives, 20 top 10s; four poles · Average finish of 16.6 · Average Running Position of 14.3, third-best · Driver Rating of 88.0, fifth-best · 4,157 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · 2,274 Laps in the Top 15 (60.6%), fifth-most · 2,709 Quality Passes, eighth-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) · Four top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 18.7 · Average Running Position of 15.4, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 87.7, seventh-best · 82 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 4,018 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.154 mph, seventh-fastest · 1,901 Laps in the Top 15 (56.1%), 12th-most · 2,444 Quality Passes, 11th-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet) · Three wins, 10 top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.5 · Average Running Position of 14.6, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 87.9, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.067 mph, 12th-fastest · 2,378 Laps in the Top 15 (63.4%), third-most · 2,753 Quality Passes, sixth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips-Shark Week Chevrolet) · Two top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 19.4 · Average Running Position of 16.6, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 83.3, 11th-best · 71 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 4,572 Green Flag Passes, second-most · 2,001 Laps in the Top 15 (53.3%), seventh-most · 2,825 Quality Passes, fifth-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 DeWalt Made In The USA Toyota) · Two wins, six top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.8 · Average Running Position of 15.3, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 89.9, fourth-best · 80 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · 2,277 Laps in the Top 15 (60.7%), fourth-most · 2,556 Quality Passes, ninth-most Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · One win, three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 18.3 · Average Running Position of 16.5, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 85.8, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.144 mph, eighth-fastest Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) · Four wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 18.5 · Driver Rating of 86.6, eighth-best · 76 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · 1,958 Laps in the Top 15 (52.2%), 10th-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 10 at Daytona International Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 28 1 2 7 12 3 16.2 81.6 2 Martin Truex Jr. 20 1 0 0 2 4 22.5 76.7 3 Joey Logano 13 0 1 3 4 2 18.3 85.8 4 Jimmie Johnson 27 2 3 10 13 6 17.5 87.9 5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 31 1 3 12 18 3 13.1 91.9 6 Brad Keselowski 12 0 0 2 3 4 21.8 75.5 7 Jamie McMurray 25 0 2 3 5 8 23.7 79.5 8 Kasey Kahne 23 0 0 2 8 5 19.4 83.3 9 Matt Kenseth 31 1 2 6 14 5 17.8 89.9 10 Kurt Busch 28 0 0 11 14 1 17.5 90.5 * – Based on last 21 races at Daytona International Speedway. Daytona International Speedway Data Season Race #: 17 of 36 (07-05-15) Track Size : 2.5-mile Banking/Turns 1 & 2 : 31 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4 : 31 degrees Banking/Straights : 3 degrees Banking/Tri-Oval : 18 degrees Frontstretch Length : 3,800 feet Backstretch Length : 3,000 feet Race Length : 160 laps / 400 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Daytona Kyle Busch ................................. 96.2 Dale Earnhardt Jr ........................ 91.9 Kurt Busch. ................................. 90.5 Matt Kenseth .............................. 89.9 Jeff Gordon ................................ 88.0 Jimmie Johnson .......................... 87.9 Denny Hamlin ............................. 87.7 Tony Stewart ............................... 86.6 Joey Logano .............................. 85.8 Clint Bowyer ............................... 84.0 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2015 races (21 total) among active drivers at Daytona International Speedway. Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : David Gilliland, Ford 199.322 mph, 45.153 secs 07-04-14 2014 race winner : Aric Almirola, Ford 130.014 mph, (02:09:13), 07-06-14 Track qualifying record (July race): Cale Yarborough, Ford 203.519 mph, 44.222 secs 07-02-86 Track race record (July race): Bobby Allison, Mercury 173.473 mph, (02:18:21), 07-04-80 AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY: History · Groundbreaking for Daytona International Speedway was Nov. 25, 1957. The soil underneath the banked corners was dug from the infield of the track and the hole filled with water. It is now known as Lake Lloyd. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona was a 100-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, 1959 – won by Bob Welborn . · The first summer race at Daytona International Speedway was held on July 4, 1959 – won by Fireball Roberts (140.581 mph). · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty won his 200th career race on July 4, 1984 at Daytona. · Lights were installed in the spring of 1998. However, the July race was delayed until October that year due to thick smoke from wildfires. The second Daytona race has been held under the lights ever since. · The track underwent a repave in 2010. Starts · There have been 136 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona International Speedway since the track hosted its first race in 1959: 57 have been 500 miles, 52 were 400 miles and four 250 miles. There were also 23 qualifier races that were point races. · 445 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series July race at Daytona International Speedway; 277 in more than one. · Richard Petty leads the series in July race starts at Daytona with 32. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 22 starts – this weekend will be Gordon’s final start at Daytona. · Four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series active drivers have made their first career start at Daytona International Speedway, though none were during the July race: Tony Stewart (2/14/99), Casey Mears (2/16/03), Kasey Kahne (2/15/04), Brendan Gaughan (2/15/04) Danica Patrick (2/27/12), Alex Bowman (2/23/14), Michael Annett (2/23/14). Poles · Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole for the July race at Daytona in 1959 with a speed of 144.997 mph. · 38 drivers have Coors Light poles at Daytona for the July event, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough with eight. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in Daytona July race poles, with two. Gordon started first in 2007 due to qualifying being cancelled as well. · Three drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles for the July race at Daytona: Cale Yarborough (1970-’71; 1980-’81, 1983-’84), Sterling Marlin (1991-’92) and Dale Earnhardt (1994-’95). · Youngest Daytona July race pole winner: Jeff Gordon (07/06/1996 - 24 years, 11 months, 2 days); all-time track record belongs to Austin Dillon (02/23/2014 – 23 years, 9 months, 27 days). · Oldest Daytona pole winner: Mark Martin (07/02/2011 – 52 years, 5 months, 23 days). · Six active drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Daytona International Speedway: Greg Biffle (2/15/04), Kevin Harvick (7/6/02), Jimmie Johnson (2/17/02), Paul Menard (7/5/08), Danica Patrick (2/24/13) and Austin Dillon (2/23/2014). Wins Drivers who have swept both races (Daytona 500 and the July race) at Daytona: Fireball Roberts – 1962 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 250) Cale Yarborough – 1968 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 400) LeeRoy Yarborough – 1969 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 400) Bobbie Allison – 1982 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 400) Jimmie Johnson – 2013 (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola) 35 different drivers have won the July race at Daytona International Speedway, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson with five wins. Tony Stewart leads all active drivers with four; followed by Jeff Gordon with three. · Five drivers have posted consecutive wins in the July race at Daytona International Speedway, including three consecutive by David Pearson (1972 - 1974). · Tony Stewart (2005-’06) is the only active driver to win consecutive July races at Daytona. · Youngest Daytona July race winner: Kyle Busch (07/01/2008 – 23 years, 2 months, 3 days); all-time track record - Trevor Bayne (02/20/2011 – 20 years, 0 months, 1 day). · Oldest Daytona July race winner: Bobby Allison (07/04/1987 – 49 years, 7 months, 1 day); all-time track record - Bobby Allison (02/14/1988 – 50 years, 5 months, 23 days). · The Wood Brothers have the most wins at Daytona in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 15; followed by Hendrick Motorsports with 13. · Seven different manufacturers have won the July NSCS race at Daytona: Manufacturer Daytona July Race Wins Chevrolet 18 Ford 17 Mercury 7 Dodge 5 Pontiac 5 Buick 3 Toyota 1 Eight of the 56 (14.2%) July NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Kevin Harvick in 2010. · The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (eight) than any other starting position in the July race at Daytona International Speedway. · 15 of the 56 (26.7%) July NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona have been won from the front row: eight from the pole and seven from second-place. · 41 of the 56 (73.2%) July NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Daytona have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Four of the 56 (7.1%) July NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Daytona is 42nd, by Tony Stewart in the 2012 July race. · Four active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Daytona International Speedway; two were during the July race: Trevor Bayne (2/20/11), Greg Biffle (7/5/03), David Ragan (7/2/11) and Michael Waltrip (2/18/01). · Greg Biffle won the July race at Daytona in his first appearance. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Daytona with 710 laps led in 45 starts. · Tony Stewart leads the series among active drivers in laps led in the July race at Daytona with 369; followed by Jeff Gordon with 318 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 243. · Fewest laps led by a July race winner at Daytona are one lap led by Jimmy Spencer in 1994. The fewest laps led by an active July race winner at Daytona are three laps led by Jamie McMurray in 2007. Additional Finishing Position Stats · Buddy Baker leads the series in runner-up finishes in the July race at Daytona with five; followed by Richard Petty and Sterling Marlin with four. Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch lead all active drivers with two each. · NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson leads the series in top-five finishes in the July race at Daytona with 13; followed by Richard Petty with 12. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven. Additional Finishing Position Stats · David Pearson leads the series in top-10 finishes in the July race at Daytona with 19; followed by Dale Earnhardt with 18. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 11. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Daytona with a 9.926. · Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Daytona with a 13.065. · Kurt Busch leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Daytona without visiting Victory Lane at 28. Female Competitor Stats · Five female drivers have competed in the July event at Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie, Christine Beckers, Lella Lombardi, Patty Moise and Shawna Robinson. Below they are ordered by best finish: Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 29 8 7/6/2014 Danica Patrick 11 14 7/6/2013 Shawna Robinson 27 40 7/6/2002 Patty Moise 35 39 7/1/1989 Patty Moise 33 26 7/2/1988 Janet Guthrie 36 11 7/4/1978 Christine Beckers 37 37 7/4/1977 Janet Guthrie 20 40 7/4/1977 Lella Lombardi 29 31 7/4/1977 Janet Guthrie 33 15 7/4/1976 Track Event Stats · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway for the July race was the July 7, 2007 race won by Jamie McMurray over
RELATED: NASCAR, RISE team up with eye on equality HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France held his annual year-ending question-and-answer session with the NASCAR media on Friday, sharing his thoughts on the Matt Kenseth suspension, the high quality of competition in 2015 and his expectations for what's to come. France began the discussion by reiterating the remarkable season-ending run for the sport, which will conclude in Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 with Kevin Harvick defending his 2014 title against impending retiree, four-time champ Jeff Gordon and new championship challengers Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr . While France was candid and sincere when answering questions from the assembled national and local media, he was prepared for questions about NASCAR's handling of the two-race Matt Kenseth suspension for intentionally wrecking Joey Logano at Martinsville, Virginia. It was the first question from the floor. Asked whether he should have perhaps spoken to Logano and Kenseth to discuss the escalated situation, France said that at the time, he didn't think it necessary. Kenseth was suspended for two races after NASCAR ruled he intentionally crashed Logano out in the Martinsville race. "Obviously, if I thought that would have helped we would have definitely sat down," France said. He said he met with Kenseth and team owner Joe Gibbs to talk earlier in the week and make sure everyone was on the same level with Kenseth returning to competition this week. "We were very disappointed, as you know, with what happened in Martinsville, we reacted to that," France said. "What we were coming down here to a championship weekend, and I wanted to make sure that that matter was behind us with Matt, with Joe Gibbs and so on. I'm assured that it is. We had a good conversation about what had happened and what the thinking was or whatever you want to call Matt's actions, and we talked about that. And it was a good conversation. "Those kind of conversations happen with us more frequently than not, so that's not a surprising thing. I felt good coming out of those meetings." France was also asked where "the line" was in accessing whether a penalty should come down. He smiled broadly and told the room he was "glad" someone asked. "Do you know how many drivers have come to see ( Sprint Cup Series Managing Director) Richard Buck in the last two weeks, three weeks, four weeks? Zero,'' France said. "Zero drivers have asked us for a clarification on the so-called line. And the reason that they don't ask is they know. And they know that circumstances late in a race, blocking, although I'm not a fan of blocking, that's part of racing. Blocking, contact, the short end of some of those exchanges that happen, are all part of it and do not look to NASCAR to deal with that, they are part of racing. "So the line is ... if somebody is just intentionally banzaiing into some situation with the sole purpose of taking somebody out, we'll deal with that. We dealt with that in Martinsville, as a matter of fact. We'll deal with that at all times." RELATED: Riding the fine 'line' to a championship Again, France said he has nothing but good feelings about the new elimination-style Chase format that was introduced last year and will feature three new title-contenders among the accomplished group of four and give Harvick an opportunity to be the first driver since Jimmie Johnson to win Cup titles in consecutive years. "I am excited we've got four drivers , including Jeff Gordon that are storybook endings in their own right," France said. "The level of competition the Chase format has delivered has exceeded everything we have envisioned. "The stakes are higher on any given weekend ... and you're seeing the drivers and teams react to that." France spoke about the possibility, however, that the 2015 Chase could end in a controversial way -- hard-racing and high contact. In acknowledging the possibility existed, he reminded the room that NASCAR has developed a good reputation for the tussle form of competitiveness, too. "Gentlemen drivers exist," France said. "I don't see one in those four guys remaining. And if there's contact and they're going for position ... it's not always that somebody just turns somebody around. "I don't know what will happen. But contact late in the race, that's just part of it and we got to have an understanding of that and not be so surprised when that happens in a NASCAR race." Certainly the new format has created an even higher level of excitement. Asked if NASCAR is considering implementing the Chase format in the Camping World Truck and XFINITY series, France was non-committal, yet not opposed. "It has been successful," France said. "Our partners in XFINITY and Camping World would like for us to explore what's possible to have a, their own version of it. And we're going to look at that. We're going to look at that in the off-season. We have looked at that before, haven't quite found the perfect thing for each one of those divisions. But we'll work at it. It's worth looking at." France did concede there is a chance of rain on all three days of scheduled championship-crowning racing at Homestead, but he assured the room and the readers that there are a "record number" of Air Titan dryers on site in case. "We are going to go through the weekend as we traditionally would, looking at all of our options trying to get all of the laps in a given race on a certain race day,'' France said. "That's been our policy and philosophy. We go further and try harder, I think, than any other motor sport division to accomplish that because we want it to be settled on track."
RELATED: Full coverage of Gordon's final start HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- NASCAR drivers , crew chiefs, officials and dignitaries toasted retiring four-time champion Jeff Gordon with a standing ovation in the drivers' and crew chiefs' meeting before Sunday's season finale. But they also received a stern warning from NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton to let 2015's last race play out naturally. Gordon, just hours before making his 797th start in NASCAR's premier series, was singled out by Helton and NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France during his final drivers' meeting as a full-time competitor at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Attendees were also treated to a commemorative video that captured moments from his nearly lifelong career in motorsports. "Jeff, congratulations on an outstanding career," Helton said after the video presentation. "Thank you for all you've done for NASCAR, and will do, but certainly what all you've done throughout that career. You're a true champion and cross over in a lot of venues as a top-shelf guy, so thank you." Several drivers paid tribute by wearing Jeff Gordon hats to the meeting, including Kyle Larson , Danica Patrick and all of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . , Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne . RELATED: Danica pays tribute to Gordon " Larson sports retro Gordon hat Gordon will compete for a Sprint Cup championship in Sunday's season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM), battling Kyle Busch , defending champ Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr . as the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs draw to a close. Helton urged all participants to let the title contest unfold without any underhanded tactics over the course of the 400 miles. "So this is our last race and this'll be the last time you hear this from anybody at the podium up here, but drivers and crew chiefs, crewmembers, spotters, everybody let the race play out in its natural course," Helton said. "No one needs to interfere with the natural unfolding of this event. This is our last opportunity, it's a great opportunity for four drivers . There's 39 others that are participating in this race, but crew chiefs -- and pass this on to your spotters -- and drivers , be sure that this day concludes on a high note with no interference of a naturally progressed race." Helton also gave priority recognition to country music entertainer Tim McGraw, excusing him early so that he could perform a pre-race concert on the 1.5-mile track's frontstretch.
Vice Chairman: XFINITY race 'example of unintended consequences' NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton warned drivers about blocking in Sunday's Coke Zero 400 (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM), addressing the 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pilots during the drivers' meeting at Daytona International Speedway. Following a video highlighting the rules for the 160-lap, 400-mile race, Helton discussed the evolution of the double yellow stripe, which is in place at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway. "The rationale behind that came from the evolution of actions and the equipment on the race track gave you the ability to move around," Helton said. "It got to a point where the drivers , you, were comfortable enough to make moves that ended up putting the rest of the field or many other cars in jeopardy. "So those actions, over time, we tried to figure out how NASCAR would respond to that, and we created that double yellow line that's only in Daytona and Talladega. "And I point to that because blocking is kind of creeping that way here and in Talladega. Last night's race, I think, was an example of the unintended consequences that can come from a blocking move." Late in Saturday's Subway Firecracker 250 , leader Brian Scott moved down the track to block Elliott Sadler , sending both cars into the outside wall on the backstretch and leading to a 10-car pileup. "We were definitely in the catbird seat there going down the back straightaway there; we had Joey Logano pushing us and had a lot of momentum coming off Turn 2 and were making our way to the front," Sadler said. "I think either Brian or his spotter made the block too late; I was already up to his right rear tire. He made the block to late and wrecked us. It was nothing intentional, it's just racing." RELATED: Scott blocks Sadler in Saturday's race Ryan Newman asked Sprint Cup Series Managing Director Richard Buck what constituted going below the double yellow line, and Buck responded left-side tires on the inside of the inside line. Helton noted he was "not telling you how to drive the race cars ... but drivers , be conscious about the moves that you're making on the race track, particularly when it comes to what we call blocking. So just think about that tonight in the race." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Check out the best in-car audio from a wild Coke Zero 400 including in-car audio from cars involved in the crazy last-lap wreck.
Annett, DiBenedetto helped to care center after 5-hour ENERGY 301 RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings LOUDON, N.H. – Following Sunday's race, a pair of drivers were taken to the infield care center to receive treatment for heat-related issues. No, this wasn't the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in the middle of July, it was ... New Hampshire? MORE: Dale Jr. 'had to drive real hard all day long' After relatively cool -- but somewhat expected -- temperatures for practice and qualifying sessions Friday and Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sunday's 5-hour ENERGY 301 was run under steamy, Daytona-like conditions. Humidity spiked, thermometers rose and drivers drooped. Michael Annett and Matt DiBenedetto each had to be helped to the care center after the checkered flag dropped, spending about an hour and a half receiving treatment before being released. AJ Allmendinger also needed to be tended to in his hauler before leaving the track. I'm fine. Had strep throat all weekend. Was warm in the car. Nothing a little water and ice after couldn't fix afterwards. All good here. — AJ Allmendinger (@AJDinger) July 19, 2015 Brad Keselowski , Sunday's runner-up, looked paler than his white No. 2 Team Penske Ford when he was in the media center and all but needed to cut his press conference short just to regain his breath. "Ready to go home," Keselowski said. "Ready to go home." "It was hot out there," Dale Earnhardt Jr . agreed. DiBenedetto was feeling better after being treated later tweeting "Thanks for the concern everyone ... I got dehydrated and sick but the infield care center gave me fluids and I'm a little better. It was hot!" It was abundantly clear that heat was the overlying theme of the race, as several drivers made a point to say how much the temperatures affected them and their race cars. Hottest race of the year so far today. I drank 100oz of electrolyte fluids in the car (5 bottles), and another 60oz after. Still behind. — landon cassill (@landoncassill) July 19, 2015 "That was a tough one for sure. It was hot out there. We worked hard," said Austin Dillon . "The heat of the day kind of threw us for a loop and we just weren't very good," explained Ryan Blaney . Even super-athlete Jimmie Johnson , who has battled heat exhaustion before, noted that, "It was toasty for sure. It's weird how much hotter we are in the cars at Dover and Loudon." An added condition that Allmendinger was battling was the dreaded mid-summer cold, too. "I wasn't as my best today either," said Allmendinger, who finished 13th. "I've been battling strep throat. It was very hot today and I got frustrated at times because I wasn't feeling good." One driver who was able to brave the elements and come out on the other side healthy -- and in Victory Lane -- was race-winner Kyle Busch . "I'm definitely warm," said Busch, who needed to fill up his water bottle and take long sips from it before answering questions in his post-race press conference. "I'm still trying to cool down right now, as cold as it is in (the media center). You get that brisk when you walk through the door but then after that you're like ‘OK, I need more.' "It's warm. This is one of the warmest days I think I've ever remembered up here in this part of the country. Fortunately for me, I was all good. I've got a really good team of guys that work on my seat for me and I've really been nitpicking them this year to try and get more comfortable each week and it's really paying off. Hopefully now that they see us winning some races and I'm thankful to them for giving me the right cooling and everything." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Debate raised after Austin Dillon's crash at Daytona RELATED: NASCAR poring over data from Dillon's Daytona wreck SPARTA, Ky. -- Jamie McMurray couldn't see much. His No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet propelled wildly across the start-finish line under a shower of debris after being collected in the last-lap wreck that sent Austin Dillon ’s airborne No. 3 into the catch fence in Sunday's midnight Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Judging by restrictor plate track history, McMurray expected that the steady rhythm of drafting was about to hit a sharp note in the race's final whirl around the superspeedway. "When we came off Turn 2, there was a huge pack of cars and you're gently pushing the guy in front of you and pushing him into the guy in front of him," McMurray recalled at Kentucky Speedway on Thursday. "And I think all of us knew heading into Turn 3 that when we came into Turn 4, it would not be gentle anymore. You're just going to mash the gas and shove the guy as hard as you can and hope that you make it through the wreck because all of us knew there was going to be a wreck either before the finish line or afterwards." But this wreck's severity may have been a tad more than McMurray and the rest of the field anticipated. Brad Keselowski experienced a firsthand look at the scene outside his window net, as his spinning No. 2 ride smacked hard into Dillon's upside-down vehicle seconds after the rest of cars cleared. It's a difficult subject to talk about for the 31-year-old driver, as his Team Penske Ford slipped in oil around 200 mph, allowing driver control to fall to the wayside. "Kind of the sad part is that I was honestly embarrassed that I hit Austin that long after the wreck," Keselowski said at Kentucky Speedway Thursday. "… There was just so much debris that even being as far behind as I was, you couldn't slow down at 200 mph. And that was frustrating. I felt very, very lucky when I got out of the car, went to Austin, saw that he was OK. "… Race cars are very, very well-designed and built for high impacts. They're not ever going to be very well-designed for multiple high impacts. So, when I hit Austin the second time, yeah I saw his first impact and when I knew I was going to hit the second time, his odds were a lot lower walking away." With the cars' tight drafting and high speeds, the "Big One" has become synonymous with restrictor plate racing at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway. And with the startling images of the wreck emblazoned in the minds of spectators and drivers alike, Dillon's wild ride resurfaced the ongoing question: are restrictor plate races' speeds safe enough? For fellow Sprint Cup Series driver Greg Biffle , whose No. 16 ride was also caught up in the final lap frenzy, driver/spectator welfare is -- and has been -- the first priority. Despite Keselowski's testimony that he wasn't able to slow down in time to avoid hitting Dillon, Biffle doesn't believe that slowing down the cars will mitigate the wrecks. Rather, he raises the point that the style of restrictor plate racing itself is what manifests into multicar melees. "Your first reaction is that these cars are really safe," Biffle said on Thursday at Kentucky Speedway. "… These cars, when you get bunched up and one guy gets jammed underneath the other guy and you're pushing these cars, they're gonna get upside-down or flip up in the air no matter what speed we're going. If we're going 125 miles an hour when you jam a wedge underneath another one, it's gonna pick it up in the air." MORE: Dillon discusses how he is feeling " Exclusive video of wreck, 88 crew reacts To Biffle, Dillon's mangled No. 3 Chevrolet and smashed catch fence serve as proof of safety rather than a cause for alarm. Rather than shaking a finger in disapproval, the Roush Fenway Racing driver applauded the efforts of the industry and its strides to making the sport safer. "It's just a testament to how safe our sport is," Biffle said. "NASCAR has done an unbelievable job with SAFER barriers, and run-off areas, and paving areas. I think about how dangerous Pocono was and how safe of a race track it is now with all of the paving and the SAFER barriers they've done on the inside. "I know it takes time for these tracks to react to these situations, but it just goes to show you that the engineering and what-not on that fence is what it needs to be and what it's supposed to be and it did its job. The safety equipment did the job inside the car and the good thing is we can learn from that and try to make improvements if we can." The incident still serves as a call to action for many drivers , as the sport continues to learn from past wrecks and on-track instances. "… You hope that you can learn from it and figure out a way to keep the cars on the ground, contain them from the fans even better than what we have." McMurray said. "You look back in the years in the sport and everything that we have has evolved from something like that. NASCAR has done a really nice job of learning from their mistakes and learning from accidents on the track and hopefully we'll learn from this one as well." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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NASCAR drivers joined people across the nation on Wednesday in sharing thanks on social media to U.S. military service members on Veterans Day. Thanks to all those who have served this great country. #VeteransDay . — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) November 11, 2015 Thank you to our Veterans for your sacrifices and for fighting for our freedoms. #VeteransDay — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) November 11, 2015 Veterans, thank you. — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) November 11, 2015 Thank you to every man and woman who has ever served our country. What you do is inspiring & humbling and I'm grateful beyond words. — Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) November 11, 2015 Happy Veterans Day! This day marked the end of hostilities of World War I that occurred at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month — Matthew DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) November 11, 2015 Thank you to all of the courageous men and women who have served and continue to serve our great country. #VeteransDay — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) November 11, 2015 Land of the free, because of the brave. #VeteransDay #TeamMA pic.twitter.com/dYgZGEw71K — Michael Annett (@MichaelAnnett) November 11, 2015 Thank you to all the brave women and men that have served to give us our freedom! #VeteransDay — Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) November 11, 2015 Thank you Veterans. — Regan Smith (@ReganSmith) November 11, 2015 Thank you, Veterans — Josh Wise (@Josh_Wise) November 11, 2015 Thank you to all of the Veterans out there. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 — Rodney Childers (@RodneyChilders4) November 11, 2015 Today and every day, thank you Veterans! — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) November 11, 2015 Great picture! Thank you to all the veterans for their service. https://t.co/jID1Be2xYC — Ryan Blaney (@Blaney) November 11, 2015 Thanks to all our men and women who fight for our freedom every day! — Ty Dillon (@tydillon) November 11, 2015 Happy Veterans Day and Thank You to all those who have served and are currently serving! — Ryan Newman (@RyanJNewman) November 11, 2015 Want to thank all of our military for keeping this country free, and allowing all of us to do what we… https://t.co/rr4b0mDYNK — Austin Dillon (@austindillon3) November 11, 2015
RELATED: Logano speaks about Kenseth penalty FORT WORTH, Texas – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers arrived at Texas Motor Speedway Friday still grappling with the fallout from last weekend's crash involving Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano , two of this season's most successful competitors. Kenseth ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), was suspended for two races for crashing into Logano ( Team Penske ) with less than 50 laps remaining in Sunday's Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway . Logano was the race leader at the time of the crash; Kenseth was nine laps down. Logano, who swept all three races in the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , was going for a fourth consecutive victory. Kenseth had been eliminated from Chase contention the previous weekend. "I guess the implications aren't really clear on how things work and what kind of trouble you can get yourself into," fellow Chase competitor Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ) said Friday at Texas. "Racing is racing. Guys have wrecked each other since racing started, OK? That's not going to change. Guys get mad all the time. "I think people will go about it differently now because of what happened this week, for sure. How far that goes, I'm not real sure. We'll have to wait and see." Logano leads the series in wins this season with six; Kenseth has five victories. The Martinsville incident dropped Logano to last among the eight drivers trying to qualify for the four who will compete for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway later this month. To earn a Championship Round spot for the second consecutive year, Logano will likely have to win either this weekend's AAA Texas 500 or next week's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway . Logano said he didn't know if NASCAR's actions could change how some drivers react in certain situations, but added that it likely won't alter his own. "Probably not," the 25-year-old said. "Does it change the way other people would handle a situation? I can't answer that. I don't know. "I think we all did learn what NASCAR's stance is on this and that is something we will all put in our memory bank and know that going into the future." MORE: Kenseth's two-race suspension upheld Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon , winner of the Martinsville race and for now the only driver qualified to compete for the Championship 4, said he understood the reasoning behind the severity of the penalty. "NASCAR wanted there to be a line and I like it when they draw a line," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. "... We don't like judgment calls. We like things to be clear. And I think we're all pretty clear now. "Yeah, it's gotten the people talking. It's gotten the media talking and the fans talking and it's created only more build-up to what's already a very exciting Chase format and close to the season. I don't want to say I look at it as a positive, I just think that it does bring more eyes to the sport and then they can choose and decide how they go from there." Kenseth will return to the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in the season-finale at Homestead. In his absence, Erik Jones will handle the driving duties for the team. Jones will start sixth in Sunday's race. Carl Edwards , who joined JGR prior to the start of the 2015 season, said he'd spoken to Kenseth briefly. That his teammate was suspended, he said, "was a shock." "I think everyone will be on pretty decent behavior because of that," Edwards said. "If that's how it's going to be, we definitely have to be careful."