Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup participants Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr ., along with Aric Almirola and J.J. Yeley, are taking part in a two-day Goodyear tire test today and Tuesday at Kansas Speedway . The Hollywood Casino 400 , scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 18 (2:15 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Kansas , marks the halfway point in this year’s 10-race Chase. It is also the second stop in the Contender Round of the elimination-style playoff. An open team test is scheduled at Kansas on Wednesday following the two-day Goodyear test. Johnson ( Hendrick Motorsports ) is a six-time Sprint Cup champion and enters this weekend's Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway as the top-seeded driver in the 16-car field. Truex (Furniture Row) is making his third Chase appearance and his first since 2012. Almirola ( Richard Petty Motorsports ) is the Ford representative for the Goodyear portion of the test while Yeley and his BK Racing group is on hand as the Toyota-affiliated team. Almirola finished just outside the cutoff for making this year's Chase, failing to win a race and finishing 17 points behind Paul Menard ( Richard Childress Racing ) for the final spot. Only one more open test is currently on tap for teams this season under the NASCAR National Series Unified Testing Policy Schedule – October 14 at Phoenix International Raceway . It will take place following a two-day Goodyear tire test at Phoenix slated for Oct 12-13. Auto Club Speedway was scheduled to host the season's final test on Oct. 27-29, but that has been canceled.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Part of what Goodyear officials, along with four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams, did here at Kansas Speedway Monday and Tuesday was verify the tire combination to be used in next month's Chase for the Sprint Cup race at the 1.5-mile track. On Wednesday, 12 teams did a little verifying of their own, taking part in an open team test before heading to Chicago for this weekend's opening race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup . "It seems like at this point in the year with the (rules) package and program that we're under with the car, you're kind of just verifying things," Michael Waltrip Racing driver Clint Bowyer said during a break in testing. "There are a very specific, few items that we're making sure that we have verified to when we go to Chicago starting the Chase this weekend that we know that's going to be the right way to go." In addition to Bowyer, other Chase drivers testing Wednesday were Jimmie Johnson ( Hendrick Motorsports ), Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske ), Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) and Paul Menard ( Richard Childress Racing ). Also testing but not in the Chase were Aric Almirola ( Richard Petty Motorsports ), Greg Biffle ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Alex Bowman ( Tommy Baldwin Racing ), J.J. Yeley ( BK Racing ) and Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing ). That Kansas and Chicagoland Speedway are somewhat similar perhaps made Wednesday's opportunity a bit more beneficial. "(Testing here) is an advantage, this track being similar (to Chicago); you can learn some stuff," Bowyer said. "Obviously the grip level and the asphalt and stuff like that's different. And it's an important track when we come back here (in October). "The circumstance we are under, given the fact we got ourselves in the Chase last weekend, it's kind of just a verification day for us." Rodney Childers, crew chief for defending series champ Harvick, said there were some things that could be gleaned from Wednesday's test that could be beneficial this weekend, "but not a lot. "I felt like our test went well, we got to try all kinds of crazy stuff the first half of the day. We really haven't found anything that was all that great compared to what we had in the past. "So we ended up kind of going back to what we thought was right at the end of the day and the car drove good and had good speed." Johnson was one of four drivers taking part in the 2-day Goodyear test, and the six-time series champion said he was ready for a change of scenery. "I've run almost two races now," he said during a break. Much time during the Goodyear test, he said was working with the potential 2016 rules package, a platform that features less downforce and was used twice this year -- at Kentucky and Darlington. "I found myself behind a few cars and felt like the car drove really well in traffic," he said. "I think we found and identified a few sets of tires worked really well, started off fast and had a lot of falloff. So I feel like the last two days of the tire test were very productive. "Today … we worked through a busy morning trying some things off our list. We've got a long list of stuff to try; we don't test all that often. Really just working through this systematically, seeing what might be faster and just collecting data." Sunday's myAFibRisk.com 400 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) is the opening race of the 10-race Chase. Kansas will play host to the Chase Sunday, Oct. 18 with the Hollywood Casino 400 .
RELATED: Bowyer falls in manure, smells like roses DOVER, Del. -- Clint Bowyer , introduced as the newest driver in the Stewart-Haas Racing stable for 2017 just two days ago, ended speculation about his 2016 plans Friday, announcing he will join HScott Motorsports for the upcoming season. The single-season move will keep Bowyer, 36, in the Chevrolet family while three-time premier series champion Tony Stewart wraps up his final season as driver of the No. 14 entry. RELATED: Bowyer, SHR a perfect fit HScott Motorsports , located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, currently fields Sprint Cup Series entries for drivers Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett . The organization works closely with both SHR and Hendrick Motorsports in NASCAR's premier series, purchasing its chassis from SHR and engines from Hendrick. "What a whirlwind year, to say the least," Bowyer said. "… It's kind of weird, as we've gone through this together, there's always been that door, the one that opens the easiest, and Harry Scott was definitely that. Looking forward to the marriage that he has with Hendrick, with Stewart-Haas, (those are) very strong. … "Harry is a young, very aggressive owner that we need in this sport; to have this together and tie my name to HScott Motorsports is something I'm looking forward to and get back to my winning ways." Scott said the addition of Bowyer "will help us long term because he's basically going to be able to help us reset our program and set the bar higher going forward. "With his experience, his leadership and his enthusiasm, I think it will be contagious amongst all the team members. Going forward he will help us form an even stronger relationship with Stewart-Haas and that will obviously be beneficial to us." RELATED: Bowyer to join SHR in 2017 5-Hour Energy will be the primary sponsor of Bowyer's entry for 24 of next season's 36 races. Scott started HScott Motorsports in 2013, running Allgaier, Ryan Truex , Michael McDowell and Kyle Larson in 11 of the season's 36 races. Allgaier was named the team's full-time driver in '14; Annett was brought on board prior to the start of the '15 season as the group added a second team. Allgaier is currently 30th in the points standings while Annett is 36th with eight races remaining. Scott said it was too soon to speculate on how the organization's roster would look for 2016, neither confirming nor denying speculation that Bowyer would replace one of the group's two current drivers. "We really haven't ruled out anything for 2016 or beyond," he said. "I'm not prepared to give you an answer for that because I simply don't know at this point." Friday's announcement closed the books on what has been a tumultuous season for the Emporia, Kansas , native. A little more than a year after announcing a multi-year contract extension with its driver, Michael Waltrip Racing announced in mid-August that Bowyer and the organization had "mutually agreed to separate" at the conclusion of the 2015 season as the team closes its doors. After slipping into this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field as the final driver in the 16-team field, Bowyer's No. 15 team was hit with penalties in the opening Chase race, at Chicagoland Speedway , for suspension irregularities. The P4-level infractions resulted in the loss of 25 driver points for Bowyer and owner points for co-owner Rob Kauffman. Crew chief Billy Scott was fined $75,000 and suspended for three races. RELATED: Drivers on the move for 2016 MWR appealed the penalties, but on Wednesday the National Motorsports Appeals Panel heard the appeal and upheld the sanctions against the team. Bowyer is an eight-time winner at the Sprint Cup level but enters this weekend's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR), riding a 105-race winless streak. He is making his sixth Chase appearance and has a best points finish of second (2012). The specifics of the move, as far as car number and team personnel, have yet to be determined. "It's going to take hard work and dedication, it's going to take funding. We have to have all these and we (do) at HScott Motorsports ," Bowyer said. "I've got the best of the best; when you talk about equipment we've got Hendrick engines, we've got ties to the Stewart-Haas organization. These are the guys that are winning races and I now have that bond, that connection to this kind of equipment. For me as a race car driver, that's huge."
Royals' Manager Ned Yost gives the command to start engines at Kansas Speedway .
Take a look back at all the action from the first race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as Denny Hamlin goes from being a lap down to ending up in Victory Lane at Chicagoland Speedway .
Camping World Truck Series driver says track can be a 'cruel teacher' Even after crashing out of his two previous Kansas Speedway starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Spencer Gallagher still sees the intermediate-sized track in the Midwest plains as a favorable venue. It's a love-hate relationship that could understandably veer toward hate, but for Gallagher, the love side of the spectrum still wins out. "I've had some ridiculous things happen to me at my career at Kansas , but I still love the place," Gallagher says. "She can be a cruel teacher, but it really is a great race track." Gallagher and the rest of the Truck Series regulars get their chance to learn more Kansas lessons, shaking off a five-week layoff in Friday night's Toyota Tundra 250 (8:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), the fourth of 23 races this season for the tailgate tour. Spins, wrecks, and other heartaches tell only part of the tale of Gallagher's backstory with the 1.5-mile speedway . The 25-year-old Las Vegas native also claims Kansas as the site of his first win in the ARCA stock-car series last season, but also as the home to his truck series debut in 2013. Though that first Truck race was marked by a dead-last starting spot and a crash-abbreviated 22nd-place finish, it still serves as a reminder for how far Gallagher has come from his partial-schedule beginnings to his full-time role with GMS Racing in the No. 23 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet this season. "What a disaster that race was," Gallagher said, pointing out a photo on the wall of his race shop that shows him making a pit stop during his debut. "It's funny, if you go back and look at my record at Kansas , I have had some of the dumbest stuff I've every had happen to me in my entire race car driving career happen at Kansas , but I still love the place. By all rights, I really shouldn't be because it hasn't been kind to me all that much. I still love going around it. "It feels like a whole lifetime ago. That was a different team really with a completely different way of doing things than we are now. We've come so far. We're so much better than the team we were a couple of years ago. I really catch myself thinking and feeling that a lot, that wow, all that stuff feels like a lifetime ago." Fast forward two years later and Gallagher has reason for optimism in his first full season in a NASCAR national series. Though he notes that the results haven't reflected the team's performance so far, Gallagher still ranks eighth in the truck standings with plenty of racing left -- just three races into a season-long contest. Gallagher hasn't lacked for motivation, identifying himself as "the goal-setting type." This season's aim is a finish in the top five in the Camping World Truck Series standings, a feat he sees as achievable. "We have made leaps-and-bounds improvements over the stuff that we were running even last year. It's been nothing short of a revolution for us in the offseason," he says. "So I try to be a goal-oriented person. I find that helps me get things done a lot better. If you have a clear goal in mind, that keeps your mind from wandering and it keep you on focus." The other factor that's helped him sharpen both his focus and his driving skills has been a newfound interest in dirt-track racing, where he's a self-described "new convert to the gospel" of slinging a late model around clay bullrings as an extracurricular diversion. Gallagher said he's enamored with the compact time frame of dirt-track racing, which allows him to shoehorn an event into his schedule with relative ease. After Friday night's Truck race, he plans to compete at Friendship Speedway in Elkin, North Carolina, in an effort to fit in more seat time. Though the Kansas high banks are paved and contain a decent amount of grip, Gallagher said he sees some parallels with dirt-track racing, comparing the two styles of running on the ragged edge. Friday night, he'll see if the hobby translates to success in his full-time ride. "We're going to get to find that out at Kansas ," Gallagher said. "That's going to be the first real test I'm going to have since I started. I totally see what people mean when they say it helps a driver's feel so much because you're so out of control constantly in those things. You have to develop a good 'butt feel,' as it were to just be able to get around the race track." In just 15 career Truck Series races, Gallagher has a best finish of third place, secured last fall in a mad scramble of a finish at Talladega Superspeedway . This season, he's still in search of his first top-10 run, but he's emphasized making the focus about his team's fortunes and not his personal aspirations. "I kind of come secondary. If I'm having a great day, wonderful, but I want to make sure GMS Racing's having a great day," Gallagher said. "... Week in, week out, we've taken cars to the race track that have had great speed with them, and that's the important bit. If we can keep that consistency going through the rest of the season, good things happen, man. Good things are all about consistency, and that's what's important. That's what I like about it." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get caught up for the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 (Sat., 7:30 p.m. ET, FS1) SHOP: NASCAR gear of all your favorite drivers What: 5th Annual SpongeBob SquarePants 400 When: Saturday, May 9, 2015 Where: Kansas Speedway , Kansas City, Kansas TV/Radio: FOX Sports 1, MRN/SiriusXM Distance: 267 laps (400.5 miles) Time: 7:30 p.m. ET Pit Road Speed: 45 mph Caution Car Speed: 55 mph Competition Caution: Lap 25 On The Front Row " Full starting lineup " See all 43 cars 1. Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 Ford (192.397 mph) 2. Kasey Kahne , Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet (191.911 mph) Failed To Qualify Brendan Gaughan , Premium Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet Fastest In Practice First Practice: Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (190.772 mph) " Results Final Practice: Erik Jones , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (191.306 mph) " Results Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Kansas based on past 14 races: Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (112.1) Matt Kenseth , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota (105.6) Kyle Larson , Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates No. 42 Chevrolet (103.9) Greg Biffle , Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Ford (102.8) Jeff Gordon , Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet (100.5) Defending SpongeBob SquarePants 400 Champion Jeff Gordon , Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet Former Kansas Winners In Field Jeff Gordon (3); Greg Biffle , Jimmie Johnson , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart (2), Denny Hamlin , Kevin Harvick , Brad Keselowski , Joey Logano , Ryan Newman (1) Happy and Sad Former Kansas winner Kevin Harvick had an interesting Friday at Kansas Speedway , topping the first practice session with a speed of 190.722 mph, then inexplicably placed 35th in the final session at 185.471 mph. The Mentee Teaches Carl Edwards has a new teammate this weekend in 18-year-old Erik Jones , filling in for the injured Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota. Jones just happened to top final practice — heading into what will be his first Sprint Cup Series start. "I haven't talked with Erik (Jones) much. I talked to him a little bit today. As fast as he is … the advice will be going the other direction it seems like. He's very good and it's really exciting to see someone that fast. A Racetrack Under the Sea? Saturday’s forecast calls for heavy rain, putting the status of throwing the green flag into question. Thankfully, SpongeBob SquarePants – whom the race is named after – is, you know, a sponge, so hopefully he can aid the Air Titans in drying the track if it's necessary. RELATED: Live weather updates from Kansas Coming From the Back Brad Keselowski holds the distinction of winning after qualifying deepest in the field, winding up in Victory Lane after starting 25th in 2011. The race has been won from the pole four times ( Joe Nemechek , 2004; Johnson, 2008; Kenseth, 2013; Harvick 2013). Home Sweet Home? Three Sprint Cup Series drivers consider Kansas /Missouri home, but not all three consider Kansas Speedway their home track. Here's what Clint Bowyer (Emporia, Kansas ), Carl Edwards (Columbia, Missouri) and Jamie McMurray (Joplin, Missouri) said what a win would mean for them. Bowyer: "It would be awesome to win here. We're going to need a hospital if we win here. … If we win, there could be a flamethrower in Victory Lane." Edwards: "The thought of winning here, winning that ( Camping World Truck Series) race here, I could hear the crowd over the engine – I'd never heard that before. I never had anything like that happen. There's so many people from my hometown and so many people that I've raced with that are going to be here, to run well here would be special." McMurray: "This isn't a home track because we've all raced here the same amount of times. It's not like we grew up racing here. It would be special to win here, but it would be special to win anywhere." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Greg Biffle, David Ragan and more to run special schemes In honor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway (May 9, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), drivers will be sporting characters from the Nickelodeon show for their paint schemes. Joining in on the fun is David Ragan (in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota), Greg Biffle (in the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford) Casey Mears (in the No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet) and Michael McDowell (in the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford). "It's really fun to be part of the Nickelodeon lineup for the Kansas race and get to feature Patrick Star and Cheez-It on our No. 16 Ford," Biffle said in a press release. "Nickelodeon does a lot to bring sports to kids, which is something that is important and I'm glad to be a part of it. Kansas is a good track for us and Saturday night races are always exciting. Hopefully we can get another Kansas win." NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr .'s No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford will also feature a SpongeBob-themed scheme, along with Ben Kennedy 's No. 11 Truck Series ride. Along with the special schemes, Kansas Speedway will offer a Nickelodeon Kids Zone, which will be located in the Kansas Speedway Fan Zone. The area will feature appearances from the "SpongeBob SquarePants" costumed characters, a "SpongeBob SquarePants" photo station and more. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
18-year-old will make first official Sprint Cup start on Saturday KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Erik Jones will make his first official start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series here this weekend, filling in for the injured Kyle Busch in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota. Beyond this weekend's race, however, his status as a Sprint Cup driver is less certain. The organization, which fields four full-time Sprint Cup teams, hasn't indicated when Busch will return from injuries sustained in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway . Jones, who competes part time for JGR in the XFINITY Series and full time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, said Friday at Kansas Speedway the focus is on this weekend's race and nothing more. "Honestly, we haven't really thought much past this weekend," Jones said. "We're all hoping Kyle can come back; I know he's ready to come back. "Right now, it's just Kansas and going out and seeing what we can do this weekend." Saturday night's SpongeBob SquarePants 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM) will be Jones' second Sprint Cup race. The 18-year-old stepped into the No. 11 of JGR driver Denny Hamlin in relief last month at Bristol Motor Speedway , finishing 26th. "That was a tough situation to be put in, and I felt like if we could have started farther up front ... that we could have possibly finished a little better than we did," he said. "I felt pretty comfortable in the car by the end of the day, which was nice especially at Bristol -- that's a place that I've never really feel 100 percent like I've got that place figured out." That comfort makes this weekend's start a little less stressful. In addition to his Sprint Cup duties, he's also competing in Friday night's Toyota Tundra 250 (8:30 p.m. ET) Truck Series event. "I feel really good about it honestly," he said. "Bristol was kind of a big test session for me, letting me get laps and knock some of that new-car, new-team rust off and get a good feel for it." Jones is the third driver to fill in for Busch during his recovery. Fellow Toyota driver Matt Crafton , a two-time NCWTS champion, drove the No. 18 in the season-opening Daytona 500 while David Ragan , formerly with Front Row Motorsports , has been the driver of record for the team in the previous nine races. Jones, third in points in the Truck Series, scored his first XFINITY Series win last month at Texas Motor Speedway . FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Despite troubles, Team Penske driver scores fifth-place finish KANSAS CITY, Kan. – If Joey Logano hopes to contend for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, the Team Penske driver and his No. 22 team will have to avoid the kind of mistakes that took them out of contention during Saturday night's rain-delayed SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway . Logano passed more cars than any other driver at Kansas , 147 according to NASCAR loop data, and came home with a not-so-terrible fifth-place finish, his sixth top-five result in this year's first 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. But missteps by the driver and team continually put the yellow Ford at the back of the field, requiring Logano to work his way through rush-hour-like traffic on at least two occasions. "We inverted the field on ourselves," Logano said sheepishly. "We got most cars passed and it was fun, but … man, we did a terrible job. That's pretty much what it comes down to." The Daytona 500 winner joins the rest of the series this week at Charlotte Motor Speedway , site of Saturday night's Sprint All-Star race (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, Sirius XM). A week later, Charlotte plays host to the Coca-Cola 600 (May 24, 6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM), the series' longest affair. He has finished as high as second in the non-points race and his average finish in points races there is better than any other facility. But he has yet to win at the 1.5-mile track. And unless they avoid problems such as those that surfaced at Kansas , he'll remain winless at Charlotte. Although he started on the pole for the fourth time this season last weekend, and led the first 29 laps of the 267-lap race, a penalty during pit stops on Lap 95 (his crew was over the wall too soon) dropped him to the tail end of the field. After working his way from 32nd back inside the top 10, Logano was flagged again on Lap 186 when he came down pit road before it was open under caution. That miscue sent him back to the rear once more, this time just outside the top 15. "I typically hear it on my radio, whether (pit road) is open or closed," he said of the mistake. "I heard the call to pit but I never looked (at the pit entrance lights). I saw no one else was pitting and thought 'we're going to get off strategy here. I'm the only guy (pitting).'" Fortunately for the team, Logano's car had speed. He was back inside the top 10 once again by Lap 220 and fifth by the time the checkered flag finally appeared. "We got a top five out of it because we had a fast car and we were able to recover," he said. "But just on all aspects we all just did a terrible job; We know how to do it, we've done it before, we execute really well; we just kept screwing up." Logano made it to the Championship Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup a year ago, winning a career-best five times in his second season with the Penske organization. Based on his team's showing thus far this year, he's once again considered one of the favorites to battle for the title. As long as he and the team avoid putting themselves in the type of precarious positions they found themselves in last weekend. "We had a fast race car and that’s what saved us," Logano said. "But our execution was not very good. We've got to raise our game a little bit. We've got to clean it up." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule