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Cain: Don't expect these guys to lay off in the postseason RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota As Kyle Larson juked and jived his No. 42 Target Chevrolet to a near victory at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday afternoon, his ultra-determined effort served as NASCAR's ultimate spoiler alert. Even in a season featuring 16 title contenders -- the largest Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship field ever -- it should surprise no one if one of the super talented, highly motivated non-Chase drivers hoists a trophy in the remaining nine races, stealing a Chaser's fast pass to the title round. After all, non-Chase drivers have won races in four of the last five postseasons. And not only is the rookie Larson a leading candidate to win before the season winds down, his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray has earned his late season television time, too. His No. 1 McDonald's Chevrolet has led 180 total laps in the last four races and is keeping the Chasers honest. A couple other veterans, Clint Bowyer and three-time Cup champ Tony Stewart , boast resumes that absolutely make them favorites in the season's final races as well. For the 22-year-old Larson, it's been simply about "when" he'll score his maiden Sprint Cup victory. His third-place effort in a back-up car that started last in the Chicago field is proof of how driven he and that team are to win. Far from backing off and letting the Chase drivers settle the checkered flag in Chicago, Larson demonstrated exactly the kind of grit and gumption that makes this Chase portion of the season so exciting and potentially the most competitive in history. Nearly half the field has something to prove, whether it be a championship run or scoring a season- or career-first victory. There are sponsors to attract and scores to settle. No one is backing off or playing it safe. It's go time from the front to back of the grid. "(People might think) those guys might be a little bit more cautious, won't race you as hard,'' Larson said. "I didn't feel that way at all. I felt everybody was racing as hard as they do all season long. "We definitely have to be a little bit more careful around those guys, too, because we don't want to hurt their chances of advancing. "(But) like I said, I had a lot of fun racing Kev (Harvick), Jeff (Gordon), Brad (Keselowski) and Junior (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) at some points in the race. I didn't feel like anybody was holding back at all." As good as Larson was Sunday, his teammate McMurray also furthered his case as someone who will have to be dealt with each week. In fact, McMurray is definitively the champion Chase spoiler of the last five years -- winning more Chase races (three) than any non-Chase eligible driver during that time. Four of McMurray's seven career Cup wins have come at Chase tracks. He's won twice at Charlotte and twice at Talladega, where he is the defending winner of the upcoming Oct. 19 race at NASCAR's biggest track. Bowyer, a preseason Chase favorite who like Larson just missed making the field, is another driver who has proven himself a contender at the 10 Chase tracks, venues where he has recorded five of his eight career Cup victories. He has a pair of wins at this week's stop, New Hampshire Motor Speedway , a pair of wins at Talladega and also a victory at Charlotte . Perhaps the biggest unknown in all this is the most accomplished racer not to earn a Chase berth -- three-time champ Stewart, who may view the race track as a focus for his off-track distractions and heavy heart. He has won in all 15 previous seasons competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but is still looking for his first in 2014. He has victories at all nine of the remaining Chase venues and 19 of his 48 career wins have come at these venues. He has three victories apiece at New Hampshire, Dover , Martinsville, and Homestead. Certainly this week's venue -- the notoriously tight and tough 1.058-mile Loudon oval -- is a prime opportunity to shake up the Chase order. But it's not just the championship contenders that see the opportunity, which makes the 2014 version of the Chase that much more compelling in ways that weren't even anticipated. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Chase standings leader wins pole at New Hampshire RELATED: Qualifying results LOUDON, N.H. -- You couldn't script a better beginning to Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for Brad Keselowski , who showed no sign of stopping his relentless run toward a second championship on Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Fresh from a dramatic victory in last Sunday's first Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway , Keselowski blew away the track record in winning the pole for Sunday's Sylvania 300 at the Magic Mile (2 p.m. ET on ESPN). The Coors Light Pole Award was Keselowski's fifth of the season, the eight of his career and his third in 11 starts at the 1.058-mile flat track. In the second and final round of knockout qualifying, Keselowski covered the distance in 27.090 seconds (140.598 mph) to edge Jamie McMurray (140.437 mph) for the top starting spot by .031 seconds. Kevin Harvick qualified third for the second Chase race at 140.065 mph. "The kind of track is kind of right in my wheelhouse, right in our team’s wheelhouse," said Keselowski, who won the July race at New Hampshire in dominating fashion. "We had this race circled before the Chase started, and we felt decent about Chicago, but we really felt like this was a race of emphasis for us to get a win and get out of the first bracket (three-race elimination round). "It's good, right? We just want to keep it going." Despite the excellent performances of the first two weeks, Keselowski isn't ready to claim ownership of the title just yet. "With the resets (after each round), the success of today really means nothing come Homestead (where the four remaining eligible drivers will race for the title, with the highest finisher among the four claiming the prize)," Keselowski said. "It's great. It's positive momentum. It's everything you want to do, and it’s everything you think you should do. "But when it resets, it resets, and nothing that you've done in the past really matters, as long as you're eligible for the bracket. I'm a long, long way from using the word favorite or feeling overly confident." McMurray , who did not make the Chase field, was pleased with his effort in qualifying. "I felt like, in my first run, I didn't get everything out of the car and maybe left a little bit on the table," McMurray said. "The first run I didn't think I got it all, but the second run out (in the final round), the second lap was really good. "Honestly, I came off Turn 4 and tried to run three laps and tried to just drive a little bit harder, but the tires just wouldn’t hold up for another quick lap." Chase drivers who will start in the top 12 on Sunday include Denny Hamlin (fourth), Kyle Busch (fifth), Jimmie Johnson (sixth), Joey Logano (seventh), Carl Edwards (eighth), Ryan Newman (ninth) and Dale Earnhardt Jr . (11th) Keselowski led the first of the two qualifying sessions with a lap at 139.614 mph (27.281 seconds), a scant .005 seconds faster than the No. 99 of fellow Ford driver Edwards. All told, 26 drivers in the 30-minute first round broke the track qualifying record of 138.130 mph (27.574 seconds) set by Kyle Busch on July 11, 2014. Earnhardt Jr. was the 12th and last driver to advance to the second session with a lap at 138.987 mph (27.404 mph). Chase drivers Jeff Gordon (13th), Kurt Busch (15th), Matt Kenseth (16th), Kasey Kahne (17th), Aric Almirola (21st), Greg Biffle (26th) and AJ Allmendinger (27th) failed to advance to the 10-minute final round. Notes: The track qualifying record was the 19th set this year in Sprint Cup Series time trials, in the first year of the knockout format. ... Keselowski has accounted for four of those records. ... The last two times Keselowski has won a pole for a Sprint Cup race (at Kentucky and Richmond), he has also won the race. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
See where your favorite driver will line up on pit road MORE: Starting lineup RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Brad Keselowski , who seeks a sweep of both New Hampshire Motor Speedway NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season and a sweep of the first two Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup events, will start on the Coors Light Pole in the Sylvania 300 (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN). The first driver to advance to the Contender Round of the Chase Grid also earned the first pit pick on pit road, chose the first stall at pit exit toward Turn 1. Jamie McMurray , who qualified second, selected the 32nd stall on the Turn 4 side of pit road with an opening in front of him. The third-place qualifier, Kevin Harvick , picked the 29th pit stall with an opening ahead of him as well. The other Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, joining Keselowski and Harvick, picked the following pits: Joey Logano : Stall 3 Matt Kenseth : Stall 5 Kasey Kahne : Stall 7 Dale Earnhardt Jr. : Stall 9 Greg Biffle : Stall 15 Kyle Busch : Stall 19 AJ Allmendinger : Stall 21 Kurt Busch : Stall 26 Ryan Newman : Stall 28 Denny Hamlin : Stall 31 Aric Almirola : Stall 34 Jimmie Johnson : Stall 41 Jeff Gordon : Stall 42 Carl Edwards : Stall 43 MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Driver of No. 1 leads race-high 148 laps but can't get back out front RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Jamie McMurray has won some of the biggest races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver is a former Daytona 500 winner. He has won the Brickyard 400. He's won the Sprint All-Star Race. He's also won the fall race at Charlotte (twice), the summer race at Daytona and has a pair of wins at Talladega. He has not won the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway . Saturday night, he came close. "It's tough because I've gotten to win all the big races so far and this is the one race that's on my bucket list," McMurray said after leading 148 laps before finishing eighth. "If I could win one more race in my career, the night race at Bristol is it." McMurray , 38, was able to hold off the advances of Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Joey Logano (Team Penske) for much of the second half of the 500-lap event. He put four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon a lap down with less than 150 laps remaining. "Dude, that 1 is the leader?" Gordon asked crew chief Alan Gustafson over the radio. "... He's just flying on the bottom (of the track)." McMurray was still leading at Lap 432 when the caution appeared for debris. Because four teams stayed out under the yellow flag, McMurray , who pitted, restarted fifth. He was unable to work his way back to the front in the closing laps. "It really didn't have anything to do with the pit call as much as my car just got really tight the last 100 laps and I was really hanging on for 40 of those laps just staying ahead of Matt and Joey," McMurray said. "It seemed like I could get through lapped traffic a little bit better. But as the top rubbered in the last time I just couldn't rotate the middle like I could early in the race." McMurray jumped three spots in the points standings, to 16th, with the finish. A win would go a long way to securing a bid in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which will consist of 16 teams. "Getting to make the Chase, you just want to go run well every week," he said. "It's pretty awesome to lead all those laps tonight and have that good of a car." Much of the credit, he said, goes to crew chief Keith Rodden, the former engineer who took over the helm of the No. 1 team this season. Even if Rodden has a tendency to make wholesale changes the night before a race. "We talked last night in the motorhome lot and we changed everything on our car," McMurray said. "I laughed because I'm not real sure why we practice, because on Saturday night he tends to change a lot of stuff. He does an amazing job to come up with a really nice setup. "That was definitely the best car I've had all year long. It's just about putting the race together all at the right time. And we had the best car, I felt like for the first three quarters of the race." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Keselowski tops Cup practice; Crafton, Jones, Custer top Truck sessions RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Sprint Cup Series Practice 1 " RESULTS Already in the hunt for his second straight win and a sweep of New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the season, Brad Keselowski topped opening Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday morning in Loudon, New Hampshire. The Team Penske driver ran just 12 laps, but found enough speed in his No. 2 Ford on his final run around the Magic Mile to best the field with a speed of 138.421 mph. The top 10 was chock-full of Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, save for Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Jamie McMurray (137.890 mph) and Kyle Larson (137.631 mph), who both ran well at Chicagoland last week and placed second and fifth, respectively, in Friday's opening session. After McMurray , 12 of the next 14 drivers on the chart were all postseason contenders, with the top five rounded out by Dale Earnhardt Jr . (3rd, 137.825 mph) and Kasey Kahne (4th, 137.661 mph). Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson was the slowest Chase driver, pulling in 29th with a speed of 135.699 mph. Just over 50 minutes into the session, practice was halted for debris on the track. Nationwide Series final practice " RESULTS A Richard Childress Racing driver led final NASCAR Nationwide Series practice at Kentucky Speedway , just not the one most would have expected. Rookie Cale Conley , on a part-time schedule this season, circled the 1.5-mile speedway at a clip of 175.404 mph to take top honors in the final 60-minute session. He also led the field with most laps run at 53. RCR's Brian Scott (175.075 mph), who drives the No. 2 Chevrolet, finished third in the standings after coming in second in the opening session. Scott is fifth in the standings, 56 points behind leader Chase Elliott . A late push from Trevor Bayne put his No. 6 Ford into second on the speed chart (175.239 mph). Sam Hornish Jr . (174.944 mph) and Chris Buescher (174.419) rounded out the top five, with RCR's Ty Dillon (174.323 mph) coming in sixth. Elliott finished eighth (174.087 mph) with his JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith in 16th. Smith trails Elliott in the standings by 18 points. Next up is Coors Light Pole Qualifying, scheduled for 4:10 p.m. ET. The VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 follows at 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPNEWS). Nationwide Series practice 1 " RESULTS Richard Childress Racing opened up the weekend strong, placing all three of its cars in the top four placers in opening Nationwide Series practice for the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNEWS) at Kentucky Speedway in Lexington, Kentucky. Brian Scott was at the helm, leading the charge with a best speed of 173.980 mph to finish second fiddle to practice topper Chris Buescher (174.701). Brendan Gaughan (173.210) and RCR rookie Ty Dillon (173.205) were right behind Scott. Sam Hornish Jr. , filling in for Kyle Busch in the No. 54 this weekend, placed fifth on the charts at 173.082. Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott was eighth overall at 172.629, while Michael McDowell , driving the defending race-winning No. 22 Ford, was 11th overall at 172.348. Camping World Truck Series Practice 1 " RESULTS Rookie driver Erik Jones paced the first of three Camping World Truck Series practices at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday morning in Loudon, New Hampshire. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver posted a best speed of 131.925 mph on his 35th of 36 laps around the Magic Mile. Jones ousted reigning champion Matt Crafton from the top of the leaderboard in the closing seconds of practice, besting the ThorSport driver's speed of 131.035 mph. Sixteen-year-old Cole Custer , set to make just his seventh NASCAR National Series start in Saturday's UNOH 175 (1 p.m. ET, FS1), was third on the leaderboard with a speed of 131.031 mph -- 0.001 seconds off Crafton's pace. Joey Coulter (130.999 mph) and Ryan Blaney (130.864 mph) rounded out the top five. Positions six through nine were occupied by Toyota drivers in Darrell Wallace Jr . (130.846 mph), Johnny Sauter (130.260 mph) and Red Horse Racing teammates Timothy Peters (129.754 mph) and German Quiroga (129.648 mph). Camping World Truck Series practice 2 " RESULTS In the second of three scheduled Camping World Truck Series practices, reigning champion Matt Crafton topped the leaderboard on Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Crafton's late-session best speed of 132.347 mph shot him past Cameron Hayley , who placed second with a best speed of 131.433. Gray Gaulding (131.180 mph), Joey Coulter (131.044 mph) and Timothy Peters (130.815 mph) rounded out the top five. First session leader Erik Jones was ninth at 130.385 mph. Camping World Truck Series final practice " RESULTS LOUDON, N.H. -- NASCAR Next driver Cole Custer cruised to the top of the speed charts in final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice Friday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Custer, 16, turned a lap of 133.226 mph in the Haas Racing Development No. 00 Chevrolet in preparation for Saturday's UNOH 175 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Custer, who is scheduled to make just the seventh Truck Series start of his career here, also won the pole position in June at Gateway Motorsports Park, a track of similar length with similar short-track characteristics. Ryan Blaney, 20 years old and third in the series standings, was second-fastest in the Brad Keselowski Racing No. 29 Ford at 133.007 mph. Erik Jones , another NASCAR Next class member at age 18, ran the most laps (63) and was third-best at 132.924 mph, just ahead of Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Darrell Wallace Jr ., a two-time winner this season. Tyler Reddick completed the top five in another Keselowski-owned truck. Points leader Matt Crafton , the defending series champion, was ninth-fastest of the 26 drivers who participated in the 85-minute finalsession. Saturday's Keystone Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled for a 10:10 a.m. ET start, broadcast on FOX Sports 1. The race is the 17th Truck Series event hosted by New Hampshire, but the first for the 1.058-mile track since 2011. -- Zack Albert MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Jamie McMurray describes his plan for the ice-bucket challenge, and Jeff Burton fills in for the Cup race in Michigan. All that, and more, on this episode of GarageCam.
See the order the Sprint Cup drivers will roll off (Friday, 4:40 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota # Car Driver Team 1 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford 2 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota 3 77 Corey Lajoie(i) Fochler Veterans Law Ford 4 32 Timmy Hill US Chrome Ford 5 36 Reed Sorenson American Muscle Driving Experience Chevrolet 6 66 Mike Wallace(i) Royal Teak Collection Toyota 7 13 Casey Mears Geico Chevrolet 8 42 Kyle Larson # Target Chevrolet 9 4 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Designate a Driver Chevrolet 10 55 Brian Vickers Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 11 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 12 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 13 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet 14 27 Paul Menard Sylvania/Menards Chevrolet 15 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet 16 47 AJ Allmendinger Bush's Beans Chevrolet 17 14 Tony Stewart Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet 18 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford 19 78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Chevrolet 20 38 David Gilliland Clean Harbors Ford 21 31 Ryan Newman Quicken Loans Chevrolet 22 40 Landon Cassill(i) Snap Fitness Chevrolet 23 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. EcoPower Oil Ford 24 51 Justin Allgaier # PlanBSales.com Chevrolet 25 5 Kasey Kahne Time Warner Cable Chevrolet 26 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet 27 83 Travis Kvapil Burger King Toyota 28 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota 29 34 David Ragan Taco Bell Ford 30 23 Alex Bowman # Dr Pepper Toyota 31 15 Clint Bowyer 5-Hour Energy Toyota 32 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet 33 98 Josh Wise Phil Parsons Racing Chevrolet 34 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 35 26 Cole Whitt # Rinnai Toyota 36 3 Austin Dillon # Cheerios Chevrolet 37 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 38 33 David Stremme Little Joe's Autos Chevrolet 39 16 Greg Biffle Ortho Ford 40 1 Jamie McMurray Belkin/WEMO Chevrolet 41 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 42 7 Michael Annett # Feed the Children/Golden Corral Chevrolet 43 93 Clay Rogers Iowa City Capital Partners Toyota MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Top finishers, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, and Jamie McMurray had victory in their grasp but are left searching for more with only two races left until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.