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Penalties hamper Nemechek, NEMCO team in Chase
NASCAR issued penalties Thursday to the No. 8 NEMCO Motorsports team and Camping World Truck Series driver John Hunter Nemechek for P2 infractions found last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Nemechek's No. 8 Chevrolet failed to meet the minimum ride height during an inspection after last Saturday's UNOH 175 , the opening race of the Camping World Truck Series Chase playoffs. Competition officials docked the team 10 championship points in both the owners' and drivers' standings. The penalty dropped Nemechek, who rallied from an early spin to finish ninth last weekend, from fourth to seventh on the Chase Grid with two races remaining before cuts are made to the championship-eligible field. NASCAR officials also fined crew chief Gere Kennon $6,000 and NASCAR probation for the crew chief continues through Dec. 31, 2016. It's the second such violation this season for the NEMCO team, which also failed the ride-height minimum at Iowa Speedway in June for a P2-grade infraction. NASCAR abandoned ride-height rules for its Sprint Cup Series ahead of the 2014 season. Those restrictions remain in effect for its other two national series. This week's penalty report for the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series was marked by written warnings and lesser violations. From the Sprint Cup Series race weekend in New Hampshire, the following teams were cited: -- The No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing team of driver Regan Smith received written warnings for failing pre-race LIS twice and pre-qualifying LIS twice. -- The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team of driver Kevin Harvick , No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team of driver Kasey Kahne , No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing team of driver Greg Biffle and No. 83 BK Racing team of driver Matt DiBenedetto all received written warnings for failing pre-qualifying LIS twice. -- The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team for driver Denny Hamlin received a written warning for failing pre-qualifying template inspection twice. The pre-qualifying LIS failures of Nos. 4, 5, 7 and 16 teams were each their third infractions, meaning the next such infraction will see those teams penalized with the last selection of a pit stall on the weekend that violation occurs. Of those cars, only the 4 of Harvick is in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Warnings from the XFINITY Series' event at Kentucky Speedway : -- The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team and No. 51 Jeremy Clements Racing team of driver Jeremy Clements received written warnings for failing pre-race LIS twice. Warnings from the Camping World Truck Series' event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway : -- The No. 50 MAKE Motorsports team of driver Travis Kvapil received a written warning for failing pre-race template inspection four times and also a loss of 15 minutes of practice time this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway .
Proud of his win, John Hunter Nemechek defends Truck race finish
MORE: Custer: 'He wanted to ruin our day' John Hunter Nemechek made the media rounds Wednesday to promote NASCAR's upcoming Camping World Truck Series race in Chicago and to talk about the series' inaugural Chase, which starts later this month in New Hampshire. But there was this one "other thing" everyone was more eager to discuss with last weekend's winner: Nemechek's bump of Cole Custer in the final corner and the ensuing pass-in-the-grass to edge Custer for the win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday. It was a dramatic finish, and Nemechek acknowledges, it was also controversial. So much so that a frustrated Custer, 18, ran across the track and tackled Nemechek, 19, as the second-generation driver waited near the officials' stand to receive the checkered flag. "There's been a lot of attention toward the finish and towards me on social media but like we said, we're happy that we got the win and we won't take that away from anything," Nemechek said. "But if the circumstances of us going in the grass hadn't happened, they wouldn't be talking about the finish. That's the only thing you'd like to go back and change, is not ending up in the grass." As he did on Sunday, Nemechek did not back down from his elation at winning even under contentious conditions. "I'm definitely proud to get the win, to get our second win of the year checked off our list and have some momentum going into the Chase," Nemechek said. "It was a great day for our whole team. I hate the circumstances it ended under with us in the grass, and that definitely wasn't what we were trying to do in making the pass. "If we could go back and change the circumstances we would, but a win is a win and we'll take it." It was actually the second win this season for the No. 8 Chevrolet truck, owned by Nemechek's father, Joe, a former NASCAR Busch Grand National (now called the XFINITY Series) champion. And John Hunter said his father -- along with many others -- offered support following the race. Nemechek did note, however, that his father had not seen the race ending live and did not see a replay until after the Victory Lane celebration. "He said congrats on the win and that I did everything right all day and we executed our strategy well, having to save fuel there at the end," Nemechek said. "I actually ran out of gas on the cool-down lap so we stretched it as far as we could. But he ( Joe Nemechek ) said, 'You were smart all day, and you were there at the end. That's what made the victory.' " Custer is not high enough in points to earn a Chase berth and will now have one more shot to score a victory at Chicagoland on Sept. 16 and earn his position in the Chase. In addition to the tackle at the race track, Custer has candidly shared his displeasure about the ending with the national media this week. There have even been suggestions that Custer may try to even the score by wrecking Nemechek during the championship Chase although Custer never directly said such. Nemechek did acknowledge the possibility himself. "You can't be paranoid, you can't worry," Nemechek said. "If it happens, it happens. "I definitely think it would be a whole different story and you'd expect payback if it ended like the Ty Dillon incident a couple years ago where he ended up in the tire barriers and didn't finish the race. "We raced back to the line and finished first and second. So who knows what's going to happen. You can't worry about it." As for Custer and Nemechek racing together at Chicago in the final race before the Camping World Truck Series Chase grid is set, Nemechek is hopeful that time and maybe some effort on his part will ease the tension. "I haven't spoken to him yet, but I expect to in the future," Nemechek said.
In his own words: John Oates on racing, NASCAR
Editor's note: John Oates, part of legendary musical duo Hall & Oates, grew up racing and watching NASCAR. He still follows closely to this day. Below is his first-person account of his life behind the wheel, and his fandom. Follow John on Facebook here. I became a racing fan in general as a young kid. Growing up in Pennsylvania, I didn't know much about it, but at the same time one of my best friend's father ran the hot dog concession at Hatfield Speedway, which was a quarter-mile dirt track. I saw Mario Andretti and Aldo Andretti when they were racing jalopies, basically, and midgets and sprint cars, so I used to go on Friday and Saturday nights under the lights for the dirt track racing. As I got older and finally had some money to spend on it, I got myself a go-kart and joined the go-kart club in West Hampton, Long Island, did some national races, moved in to Formula Fords, SCCA racing and eventually some professional racing. Raced at Daytona in IMSA, the endurance series, back in the 80s. I was on the track with some of the great legendary drivers. The fact that I got to race at Daytona was an incredible experience. One of the highlights of my life, I was the grand marshal at Talladega when Bill Elliot qualified at over 210 miles per hour. It was the fastest NASCAR qualifying in history. And I'll never forget this as long as I live. They came down on the starting lap and the wave of air that they were pushing, that field of cars at that speed was pushing, hit me about 200 yards before the cars even got close. They were pushing this incredible dirty hot air and it hit me and I never expected it. But I had a death grip on that green flag, so of course I waved the flag and the race went on. Over the years I've taken my son and many friends to several NASCAR races. I actually went to the Buck Baker stock car school at Atlanta. I had come from sports car racing and in the class there was a bunch of guys with oval track experience, and I didn't have that. So I got in the car, and I was really slow. So finally after a couple sessions I asked Buck if I could get a ride along with Randy (Baker). He took me around for a couple laps, and it was really instructional. And then I went out and I did real well. Later, Buck took me out for lunch at a barbecue joint and he told me that he could make a real race car driver out of me. And I thought that was a pretty cool compliment. John Oates, right, attended a driving school put on by Buck Baker and received quite the compliment. (Photo courtesy of John Oates) Over the years as NASCAR's become more popular and modernized, the racing now is so competitive. I follow all kinds of racing, there's not a racing series on the planet that's more competitive than NASCAR. When you look at the field and how a few tenths of a second separate 20 cars, it's incredible. I have a great appreciation for it because I've been behind the wheel, I've competed and I understand what it means. The drivers are good, they all have talent and have great equipment, so it really comes down to a mental game late in the season. I love the idea that the pressure ratchets up on every race. With the Chase format, it's a unique situation because the pressure continues to build -- handling pressure, that's what racing is all about.
Heads up: Dover and Las Vegas weekend
Here are the hot topics, trending news and key story lines to get you ready for this weekend's races at Dover International Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway . WEATHER The weekend forecast for Dover, Delaware, looks like there's a chance for rain. Friday for Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole qualifying there is a 60 percent chance for precipitation. For the XFINITY Series race on Saturday, there is an 50 percent chance for precipitation with a high of 76 degrees. And for the Sprint Cup race on Sunday, there's a 30 percent chance for precipitation and a high of 76 degrees. For Las Vegas, site of this weekend's Camping World Truck Series events, it will be clear and 70 degrees for the start of Saturday's practices. And on Saturday it will be clear and 90 degrees for the start of the race. KEY TIMES Sprint Cup Series: The Sprint Cup Series holds its first practice Friday at 10 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App) followed by Coors Light Pole qualifying at 3:40 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App). The Citizen Soldier 400 is at 2 p.m. ET Sunday (NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). XFINITY Series: The XFINITY Series opens practice on Friday at 11:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App) and qualifies Saturday at 11:45 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App). The Drive Sober 300 is on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Camping World Truck Series: The Camping World Truck Series is scheduled for a Keystone Light Pole qualifying session Saturday at 6:10 p.m. ET on FS2, followed by the DC Solar 350 race at 8:30 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). CATCH DRIVERS LIVE We'll stream every driver press conference in the Dover media center at NASCAR.com/presspass. Click here for a full schedule. Click here to tune into the live stream . LAST TIME In September of 2015, Kevin Harvick punched his ticket to advance to the next round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by leading 355 of 400 laps at Dover International Speedway , a career-best at any track. Harvick beat out eventual 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch by 2.639 seconds for the victory. YOU SHOULD KNOW • Chris Buescher (-30 from 12th place), Tony Stewart (-11), Austin Dillon (-5) and Jamie McMurray (-5) are all on the outside looking in as far as the Chase Grid standings are concerned. Of those drivers, Stewart is the only one who has won at the "Monster Mile" -- three times to be exact. Stewart's most recent win came in 2013. • With 10 wins, six-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has been to Dover's Victory Lane more times than any NASCAR driver. Johnson is looking to punch his ticket to the next Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup round and a win at his best track could be in the cards. • Winning the opening XFINITY Series Chase race at Kentucky, Elliott Sadler continues his momentum to Dover where he has earned three top five and 10 top-10 finishes, two of which came in the last two XFINITY Series races at the 1-mile track. Sadler's experience in 17 starts at Dover could shine through on Saturday compared to the young guns he's competing against for the championship. • Of the Camping World Truck Series Chase drivers, only Johnny Sauter and Timothy Peters have wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Canadian Tire Motorsport Park winner John Hunter Nemechek has the best average finish of 4.0 out of the Truck Series Chase drivers. Behind Nemechek is Ben Kennedy with 5.0. Nemechek has run just one Truck Series race at Dover, while Kennedy has experienced two. In 15 starts, two-time Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton has an average finish of 11.9, but is still seeking a win.
John Hunter Nemechek talks controversial finish
John Hunter Nemechek talks on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio about his controversial finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with Cole Custer.
Stats advance: Analyzing the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500
A statistical look ahead to the opening race of the Eliminator Round RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Below is a look at the eight Eliminators – and beyond – at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia going into the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 on October 26. MARTINSVILLE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS 1 - Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 106.6 2014 Rundown · Five wins, 15 top fives, 20 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.5 · Led 20 races for 916 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Two top fives, three top 10s · Average finish of 14.8 in 11 races · Average Running Position of 16.0, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 82.3, 14th-best 2 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.7 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; eight poles · Average finish of 13.4 · Led 24 races for 1,817 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One win, three top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 15.8 in 26 races · Average Running Position of 13.7, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 93.2, eighth-best · 956 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.163 mph, eighth-fastest · 6,348 Laps in the Top 15 (66.6%), sixth-most · 578 Quality Passes, sixth-most 3 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.1 2014 Rundown · Three top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 13.3 · Led 7 races for 41 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One win, seven top fives, 11 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 15.5 in 25 races · Average Running Position of 15.1, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 86.9, 10th-best · 1,008 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most · 5,419 Laps in the Top 15 (56.8%), ninth-most · 528 Quality Passes, ninth-most 4 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.0 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 15.1 · Led 14 races for 218 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Four wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 8.8 in 17 races · Average Running Position of 9.0, third-best · Driver Rating of 109.6, third-best · 580 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.467 mph, third-fastest · 7,007 Laps in the Top 15 (82.1%), fourth-most · 609 Quality Passes, fifth-most 5 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 91.6 2014 Rundown · 12 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.6 · Led 18 races for 468 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Four top fives, 10 top 10s · Average finish of 15.0 in 29 races · Average Running Position of 16.0, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 84.2, 12th-best · 173 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 1,023 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.042 mph, 11th-fastest 6 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Ford Ecoboost Fusion Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 81.7 2014 Rundown · Two wins, seven top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 14.5 · Led 11 races for 135 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One top five, five top 10s · Average finish of 15.7 in 20 races · Average Running Position of 15.9, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 81.4, 15th-best · 1,036 Green Flag Passes, third-most · 5,181 Laps in the Top 15 (54.3%), 11th-most · 555 Quality Passes, eighth-most 7 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 108.4 2014 Rundown · Four wins, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 10.3 · Led 23 races for 743 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Eight wins, 27 top fives, 34 top 10s; seven poles · Average finish of 7.0 in 43 races · Average Running Position of 6.7, second-best · Driver Rating of 119.0, second-best · Series-high 1,034 Fastest Laps Run · 933 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.684 mph, second-fastest · 8,375 Laps in the Top 15 (87.8%), second-most · Series-high 691 Quality Passes 8 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 104.3 2014 Rundown · Six wins, 14 top fives, 17 top 10s; five poles · Average finish of 12.9 · Led 26 races for 1,518 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One top five, five top 10s · Average finish of 13.4 in nine races · Average Running Position of 16.2, 14th-best · Driver Rating of 84.5, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.102 mph, 10th-fastest 9 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Halloween Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.0 2014 Rundown · One win, eight top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 17.0 · Led 15 races for 453 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Eight top fives, nine top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.9 in 19 races · Average Running Position of 13.3, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 96.1, sixth-best · 409 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 952 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.342 mph, fifth-fastest · 6,587 Laps in the Top 15 (69.1%), fifth-most · 616 Quality Passes, fourth-most 10 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 99.2 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14.7 · Led 16 races for 1,119 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Eight wins, 18 top fives, 22 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 5.2 in 25 races · Series-best Average Running Position of 5.6 · Series-best Driver Rating of 124.8 · 1,010 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 91.737 mph · Series-high 8,833 Laps in the Top 15 (92.6%) · 680 Quality Passes, second-most 11 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 89.1 2014 Rundown · One win, three top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 16.3 · Led 12 races for 218 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Three top fives, four top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 20.2 in 21 races · Average Running Position of 20.4, 20th-best · Driver Rating of 77.7, 19th-best · 255 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most 12 - AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Clorox Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.2 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 20.2 · Led 5 races for 68 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One top five, two top 10s · Average finish of 20.6 in 12 races · Average Running Position of 21.3, 23rd-best · Driver Rating of 70.8, 22nd-best 13 - Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 96.6 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s · Average finish of 12.8 · Led 15 races for 300 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · 11 top fives, 16 top 10s · Average finish of 12.8 in 29 races · Average Running Position of 10.8, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 99.9, fourth-best · 471 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Series-high 1,111 Green Flag Passes · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.374 mph, fourth-fastest · 7,393 Laps in the Top 15 (77.5%), third-most · 668 Quality Passes, third-most 14 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 78.6 2014 Rundown · Three top fives, 10 top 10s · Average finish of 16.1 · Led 7 races for 110 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Five top 10s · Average finish of 20.1 in 23 races · Average Running Position of 20.6, 21st-best · Driver Rating of 70.5, 23rd-best · 1,068 Green Flag Passes, second-most 15 - Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 86.5 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 19.4 · Led 12 races for 183 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Two wins, three top fives, five top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 20.8 in 28 races · Average Running Position of 18.2, 18th-best · Driver Rating of 79.0, 18th-best · 987 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most 16 - Aric Almirola (No. 43 Smithfield Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 72.4 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 21.6 · Led 5 races for 23 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One top five, three top 10s · Average finish of 24.0 in 11 races · Average Running Position of 23.9, 30th-best · Driver Rating of 64.8, 27th-best The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2014 Eliminator Eight at Martinsville Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Joey Logano 11 0 0 2 3 0 14.8 82.3 2 Kevin Harvick 26 0 1 3 12 1 15.8 93.2 3 Ryan Newman 25 3 1 7 11 2 15.5 86.9 4 Denny Hamlin 17 3 4 9 13 1 8.8 109.6 5 Matt Kenseth 29 0 0 4 10 2 15.0 84.2 6 Carl Edwards 20 0 0 1 5 0 15.7 81.4 7 Jeff Gordon 43 7 8 27 34 0 7.0 119.0 8 Brad Keselowski 9 0 0 1 5 0 13.4 84.5 * – Based on last 19 races at Martinsville Speedway (2005 – 2014). Martinsville Speedway: History · Opened in September 1947 by H. Clay Earles , Martinsville, originally a dirt track, is one of the oldest continuously-operating race tracks in the United States. · The first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville was on July 4, 1948. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was Sept. 25, 1949. · The track was paved in 1955. · The first 500-lap event at Martinsville was in 1956. · Concrete corners were added atop asphalt in 1976. Notebook · There have been 131 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway , one in the inaugural year and two races per year since 1950. · 599 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville; 376 in more than one. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty has the all-time most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville with 67 starts; Jeff Gordon has the most among active drivers with 43. · Curtis Turner won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Martinsville Speedway in 1949. · 58 drivers have Coors Light poles at Martinsville, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with eight; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven. · 12 drivers have won two or more consecutive Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway . Four of the 12 have won three consecutive poles at Martinsville: Glen Wood (Fall of 1959 and 1960 sweep); Darrell Waltrip (1979 sweep and spring 1980); Mark Martin (fall of 1990 and 1991 sweep); Jeff Gordon (2003 sweep and spring 2004). · Youngest Martinsville pole winner: Ricky Rudd (4/26/1981 – 24 years, 7 months, 14 days). · Oldest Martinsville pole winner: Morgan Shepherd (4/26/1987 – 45 years, 6 months, 14 days). · 47 different drivers have won at Martinsville Speedway , led by Richard Petty with 15; Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon lead the series among active drivers with eight wins each. · 24 drivers have multiple wins at Martinsville Speedway only five active drivers have multiple wins: Jimmie Johnson (eight), Jeff Gordon (eight), Denny Hamlin (four), Tony Stewart (three) and Kurt Busch (two). · Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 21. · 21 of 131 races (16.0%) at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; seven of those 21 wins came from active drivers: Tony Stewart (2000), Jeff Gordon (2003 twice), Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2012, spring 2013) and Denny Hamlin (2010). · The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Martinsville producing more wins (21) than any other starting position. · 36 of the 131 (27.4 %) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the front row: 21 from the pole and 15 from second-place. · 95 of the 131 (72.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Six of the 131 (4.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 36th, by Kurt Busch in the fall of 2002. · Youngest Martinsville winner: Richard Petty (04/10/1960 – 22 years, 9 months, 8 days). · Oldest Martinsville winner: Harry Gant (09/22/1991 – 51 years, 8 months, 12 days). · NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes at Martinsville Speedway with seven; Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson lead all active drivers with four each. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-five finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 30; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 27, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 18. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 37; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 34, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 22. · Jeff Gordon leads active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Martinsville Speedway with a 7.186. Ryan Newman (9.680) and Denny Hamlin (9.765) are the only two other active drivers with an average starting position at Martinsville inside the top-10. · Three active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top-10 at Martinsville: Jimmie Johnson (5.200), Jeff Gordon (6.953) and Denny Hamlin (8.765). · There have been five NSCS green-white-checkered finishes at Martinsville Speedway : fall 2007 (500/506), fall 2008 (500/504), fall 2009 (500/501), spring 2010 (500/508), and spring 2012 (500/515). · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions eight times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway ; the most recent was the fall race of 2011. · Jeff Gordon has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway without a DNF (43). · Tony Stewart (4/18/1999) and Scott Riggs (4/10/2005) won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway . · Mike Bliss (09/27/1998), Travis Kvapil (10/24/2004), Michael McDowell (3/30/2008) and Scott Speed (10/19/2008) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Martinsville Speedway . · 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted consecutive wins at Martinsville Speedway . Fred Lorenzen won four NSCS races straight (the most) from the fall of 1963 through the spring of 1965. · All eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Martinsville Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Tony Stewart won at Martinsville with the fewest previous appearances (three). · Ryan Newman competed at Martinsville Speedway 20 times before winning in the spring of 2012; the longest span of any the eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Four drivers have made eight or more attempts before their first win at Martinsville Speedway : Kevin Harvick (19) and Ryan Newman (20). · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway is the 4/1/2007 race won by Jimmie Johnson with a MOV of 0.065 second. · Danica Patrick is the only female driver to compete at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 10 32 3/30/2014 Danica Patrick 41 17 10/27/2013 Danica Patrick 32 12 4/7/2013 · Seven car numbers have produced five or more Martinsville Speedway NSCS wins: Car Number – Drivers – (Years) o No. 43 – Richard Petty (1960, ’62, ’63, ’67 sweep, ’68, ’69 sweep, ’70, ’71, ’72 sweep, ’73, ’75 and ’79); John Andretti (1999) o No. 11 – Cale Yarborough (1974, ’76, ’77 sweep, ‘78); Darrell Waltrip (1981, ’82, ’83, ’84); Geoff Bodine (1990 sweep); Denny Hamlin (2008, ’09, ’10 sweep) o No . 28 – Fred Lorenzen (1961, ’63, ’64 sweep, ‘65 and ‘66); Buddy Baker (1979); Ernie Irvan (1993). o No . 2 – Dale Earnhardt (1980); Rusty Wallace (1993, ‘94 sweep, ’95, ’96 and ‘04) o No . 48 – Jimmie Johnson (2004, ’06, ’07 sweep, ’08, ’09, ’12, ‘13) o No . 24 – Jeff Gordon (1996, ’97, ’99, ’03 sweep and ’05 sweep, fall 2013) o No . 3 – Ricky Rudd (1983); Dale Earnhardt (1985, ’87, ’88, ’91, ’95) NASCAR in Virginia · There have been 285 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among nine tracks in Virginia. Track Name City NSCS Martinsville Speedway Martinsville 131 Richmond International Raceway Richmond 117 South Boston Speedway South Boston 10 Langley Field Speedway Hampton 9 Old Dominion Speedway Manassas 7 Southside Speedway Richmond 4 Starkey Speedway Roanoke 4 Norfolk Speedway Norfolk 2 Princess Anne Speedway Norfolk 1 · 172 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Virginia. · 19 drivers from Virginia have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series. 11 of the 19 Virginia native NASCAR winners have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Joe Weatherly 25 0 0 Denny Hamlin 24 11 2 Ricky Rudd 23 1 0 Jeff Burton 21 27 0 Curtis Turner 17 0 0 Ward Burton 5 4 0 Glen Wood 4 0 0 Elliott Sadler 3 10 1 Emanuel Zervakis 2 0 0 Lennie Pond 1 0 0 Wendell Scott 1 0 0 Tommy Ellis 0 22 0 Jimmy Hensley 0 9 2 Rick Mast 0 9 0 Hermie Sadler 0 2 0 Elton Sawyer 0 2 0 Stacy Compton 0 0 2 Jon Wood 0 0 2 Jeb Burton 0 0 1 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
No. 8 of Nemechek fails post-race inspection
RELATED: Full race results " Current Truck Series Chase Grid LOUDON, N.H. – Following the conclusion of Saturday's UNOH 175 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series inaugural Chase race, NASCAR officials announced that the No. 8 Chevrolet of John Hunter Nemechek failed the post-race heights inspection. Nemechek brought out the fourth caution of the day, spinning on Lap 53 after slight contact with Kaz Grala, but rallied to finish ninth. The driver currently sits fourth on the Chase Grid. Any penalties would be announced later in the week. MORE: Full driver standings
William Byron wins at Loudon in Chase opener
RELATED: Race results " Series standings " Updated Chase Grid LOUDON, N. H. – William Byron stole a page from his mentor and team owner, Kyle Busch . Leading 161 of 175 laps in Saturday’s UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – the first race in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase – Byron cruised to victory, the way Busch has done so many times before, and punched his ticket into the Chase's Round of 6. Not that runner-up Christopher Bell , Byron’s stablemate at Kyle Busch Motorsports, didn’t make it interesting in the closing laps. As Byron worked traffic in the late going, Bell closed from 1.325 seconds behind with five laps left to .430 seconds down on the next-to-last lap. But Bell ran out of time and crossed the finish line .446 seconds behind his No. 1-seeded teammate, who won for a series-best sixth time. "I wore myself out passing some lappers," Byron said. "But with the amount of laps we had left, I thought I'd be OK. I was afraid the 4 (Bell) was going to catch us there at the end. We started to get tight, but that's what happens sometimes when you get out front. "It was really good – just a great race for us. I can't thank these guys enough. Everyone at KBM, (sponsor) Liberty University – it's just really cool to get a win here in the Chase. It feels awesome." Two-time series champion Matt Crafton came home third, followed by Tyler Reddick and Timothy Peters . With the Chase field to be trimmed from eight to six drivers two races hence at Talladega Superspeedway , Ben Kennedy and Daniel Hemric fell below the provisional cut line. Kennedy finished 11th and trails Johnny Sauter (10th on Saturday and sixth in the standings) by one point. If Kennedy's result was only mildly disappointing, Hemric's was a catastrophe. With his left rear tire cut down to the rim, Hemric spun in Turn 1 on Lap 25 to bring out the third caution of the race. His truck suffered a cut brake line and consequent fire in the left rear wheel well. Hemric lost 33 laps under repairs, finished 28th and fell to last in the Chase standings, 21 points behind Sauter with two races left in the Round of 8. In all probability, Hemric will have to win one of those two events, at Las Vegas and Talladega, to advance to the Round of 6. After leading the first 54 laps, Byron lost the top spot briefly when Cody Coughlin stayed out under the fourth caution and Bell, Kennedy, Crafton and Spencer Gallagher leap-frogged ahead of Byron with two-tire and fuel-only calls in the pits. But Byron regained the lead from Bell on Lap 69 and held it the rest of the way. As Bell gained ground in the final laps, Byron was trying to save his equipment to prepare for a possible late caution. "I was expecting it, so I didn't push too hard," Byron said. "I was expecting to get a caution, hopefully save something, but we gave it all we had there the whole race, and I just can’t thank these guys enough." Byron leaves New Hampshire with a 16-point lead in the standings and guaranteed admission to the next round of the Chase. Crafton (+11 points above the cutoff line) is second in the Chase standings, followed by Bell (+10), John Hunter Nemechek (ninth on Saturday, +5), Peters (+3), Sauter (+1), Kennedy (-1) and Hemric (-21). Note: Nemechek's No. 8 Chevrolet failed the post-race heights inspection. Any potential pnelaties will be announced next week. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
How Matt Kenseth helped John Krasinski land role of 'Jim' on 'The Office'
It's nearly impossible to think an actor besides John Krasinski playing the role of 'Jim Halpert' on the American version of "The Office," but it may not have happened without the help of Matt Kenseth . Did that just blow your mind? It should have. Back in 2002 -- a full three years before the NBC premiere of inarguably the greatest comedy series of all time, in my opinion, at least -- a fresh-faced Krasinski appeared in a commercial with Kenseth that caught the eye of future "Office" executive producer, Greg Daniels. The back-and-forth dialogue between last fall's grand marshal at Texas Motor Speedway and Kenseth (more back than forth, knowing the stoic Joe Gibbs Racing driver) and wild antics by the now-36-year-old led to an audition and before long, "Jim" was born. Krasinski recently spoke about it on NPR's Fresh Air podcast with Dave Davies . "I haven't seen or heard that since the time I did it. That is a real send back to memory lane," Krasinski said. " … That was a huge performance and I remember we had a little bit of script and Matt Kenseth had said he doesn't want to have a line in the script. He was very shy and he didn't want ... he just wanted to walk through the commercial. "At the end of the day, they just asked 'Would you just improv and have fun? Let's see what we get' and we just kept going and I think they just watched the dog go off the leash, just improving all this stuff. By the end, Matt said 'Well, now I do want to say some stuff.' So he came in and we were joking around all day. It was probably one of the more fun times I've had, certainly before I got 'The Office . ' " The commercial worked wonders for both men, as Krasinski is now a household name and Kenseth won five races that year, following it up with his only premier series title the following season. Watch the full commercial below.
Nemechek, Byron ready for anything in Truck Chase
RELATED: Truck Chase Grid " Learn more about the drivers in the Truck Chase LOUDON, N.H. -- The inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase is upon us, which means the pressure, nerves and action that come along with it are set to rise to unparalleled levels over the next eight weeks. So is the tension. After John Hunter Nemechek and Cole Custer fought, quite literally, to the finish and beyond at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last month -- rguably costing the JR Motorsports his spot in the Chase, as the driver of the No. 8 Chevrolet came away victorious in that one -- the consensus is that Custer will find a way to repay the favor to Nemechek at some point during the series' first playoff season. RELATED: Custer, Nemechek get physical at Canada The two-time 2016 winner doesn't see it that way. "I wouldn't say we have a target on our back; we're all racers," Nemechek said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , site of Saturday's Chase-opening UNOH 175 (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). " … You can't really worry about it. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't. You just kind of have to take it race by race, lap by lap. And we're going to go out there and focus on our race and do everything we have to do to get another win." Custer narrowly missed out on the Chase cut, ending up tied with Cameron Hayley as the first drivers on the wrong side of the standings bubble. Taking that into consideration, along with how the future Stewart-Haas Racing XFINITY Series driver charged at Nemechek following the Mosport checkered flag, it may be a stretch to think that Nemechek won't be targeted for payback at some point during the Chase. William Byron didn’t cross too many drivers on his way to notching the top spot for the landmark CWTS Chase, but he did cross plenty of finish lines ahead of them -- five, in fact. RELATED: Byron checks off boxes one milestone at a time Unlike Nemechek, the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver sees the level of competitiveness rising -- potentially along with the tempers. "I think the competition and intensity is going to ramp up here in the last seven races," Byron said Friday at the "Magic Mile." "We've seen that in the (Sprint) Cup Series and so now we're going to be able to experience that here in the Truck Series, so I'm looking forward to it." Regardless of whether the threat of payback looms large or not, there's an incumbent sense of pressure and nerves that comes along with being among the youngest drivers -- not to mention title favorites -- in the first-ever Chase format for the series. The nerves haven't fully crept in yet, but that could change in a hurry. "We're going to take it race by race and we're not going to let the pressure or nerves get to us unless it's a pressure situation where we have a bad race," Nemechek said. "We're going to go out and do what we do best and that's to run our race, try and lead laps and run up front and hopefully get another win. If you can't do that, salvage a bad day into a good day. You just can't make mistakes. You have to make every day the best you possibly can. In reality, nobody really knows what to expect come Saturday. "I think a little bit of nerves just with the unexpected of what this format is going to be like for us, but honestly it's exciting and it's something new and it’s the new era of the playoff-type format, so I'm looking forward to it," said Byron. "It's something that we've been preparing for and I think we’re going to see what happens here in the next seven races."