XFINITY Series regular has served as sub for first two Sprint Cup races of '15 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Regan Smith will remain interim driver of Stewart-Haas Racing's No. 41 Chevrolet this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in place of suspended driver Kurt Busch. Sunday's Kobalt 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) will mark the third straight race that Smith has filled in for Busch, who was suspended indefinitely Feb. 20 -- two days ahead of the season-opening Daytona 500. Smith finished 16th (Daytona) and 17th (Atlanta) in his two previous NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts for Stewart-Haas this season. According to the release provided by SHR, the team has not decided on an interim driver for the following weekend's race, March 15 at Phoenix International Speedway , or beyond. Busch was suspended after a Delaware family court ruled that a "preponderance of the evidence" indicated that Busch "committed an act of domestic violence" last September. Busch agreed last Friday to NASCAR's terms and conditions to pursue reinstatement. Smith has four career victories in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, where he competes for championship points for JR Motorsports. The 31-year-old driver also has one Sprint Cup victory, bringing Furniture Row Racing its only win in 2011 at Darlington Raceway. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get the on-track times for everything at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series head to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for a doubleheader of NASCAR action, while the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series takes the week off. Check out the full schedule below. All times are ET THURSDAY, MARCH 5: LIVE EVENT -- 9 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series hauler parade on Las Vegas Blvd. ( Watch live ) FRIDAY, MARCH 6: ON TRACK -- 3-4:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, FOX Sports 1 ( Follow live ) -- 4:30-5:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, FOX Sports 1 ( Follow live ) -- 6-7:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice, FOX Sports 1 ( Follow live ) -- 7:45 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 1 ( Follow live ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- Post-NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying GARAGECAM ( Watch live ) -- 2:30 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series -- 4 p.m. ET: NASCAR XFINITY Series SATURDAY, MARCH 7: ON TRACK -- 11:30 a.m.-12:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, FOX Sports 2 ( Follow live ) -- 12:45 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 2 ( Follow live ) -- 2:30-3:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, FOX Sports 1 ( Follow live ) -- 4 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Boyd Gaming 300, FOX Sports 1 (200 laps, 300 miles) ( Follow live ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- Post-NASCAR XFINITY Series race SUNDAY, MARCH 8: ON TRACK --3:30 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400, FOX (267 laps, 400.5 miles) ( Follow live ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- Post-NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
Four-race partnership begins this week in Las Vegas Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Carl Edwards and Joe Gibbs Racing have added Comcast to their sponsorship lineup for the 2015 season. Comcast will serve as the primary sponsor for four races on the No. 19 Toyota Camry. The partnership begins this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Kobalt 400 (March 8, 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX) with Comcast Business as the primary paint scheme for Edwards. This marks the first major sponsorship deal i n NASCAR for the company's business services unit that provides data, Internet, TV and other communication services to businesses of all sizes. Comcast Business will also adorn the No. 19 Toyota at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500 (April 19, 1 p.m. ET, FOX). XFINITY, Comcast's residential brand for Internet, TV and other bundled communication, will have the primary paint scheme for Edwards in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sept. 27, 2 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) and the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway (Nov. 1, 1:15 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network). XFINITY also serves as the entitlement sponsor of the NASCAR XFINITY Series. "We're excited about this partnership with Comcast as they continue to grow in the sport, and I've had a great time so far working with them in preparation for Las Vegas ," Edwards said in a release. "I'm excited to continue to build the relationship with them this year and hopefully we can put them into Victory Lane." In addition to Comcast, ARRIS and Stanley serve as primary sponsors this season on the No. 19 Toyota. Through two races in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Edwards is 14th in the point standings. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Furniture Row Racing driver looks to have put 2014 woes behind him Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live HAMPTON, Ga. -- Last season was the worst of Martin Truex Jr.'s career. Go ahead and ask him; he'll own it. 2015 is shaping up to be his best. After showing speed in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet throughout Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway (second in the Sprint Unlimited, fifth in his Budweiser Duel, eighth in the Daytona 500), Truex Jr. backed up his hot start by finishing sixth in Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway . When did his second top-10 finish of the season come last year? At Dover, in June. He only managed three more on top of that the rest of the season. Now he's got two in two races. "Yeah it was good, another good weekend. That is two-for-two on good weekends," Truex Jr. said on pit road following the race. "I just really wanted a top-five there. I just wasn't really quite as good as those guys on the short run. And in dirty air I needed a little bit longer runs and to be able to kind of pick and choose my lanes where I needed to be. "All in all, what can I say? All the guys at Furniture Row are doing a great job. This beats where we were last year by about 35 spots at this time of the year. Excited about what everybody is doing and really pumped up to get the rest of the year going." To say that Truex needed to come out in 2015 and get off to a hot start is an understatement. But it wasn't close to being something to count on. In his first year with the organization in 2014 after his departure from Michael Waltrip Racing, the team never quite put things together and the New Jersey-native finished a career-worst 24th in the final standings. A crew chief change from Todd Berrier to Cole Pearn is certainly a piece of how Truex has come out strong, but it also may have something to do with the new technical package NASCAR rolled out for the 2015 season. "We ran it once last year at California, testing, and I just like the feel of it a lot better," Truex said of the package, which lowered the rear spoiler two inches. "In the past, I've always had my most success with the least amount of downforce we've ever had, so it kind of plays into my hands a little and I think the feel of the car a lot better." It's clearly working, as Truex sits in fifth place after the season's first two races, the highest the one-car Colorado-based Furniture Row has ever been in the Sprint Cup Series standings in its 10-year history. The series now heads to another 1.5-mile track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway , where we'll get to see if Truex and the 78 team are able to continue the fast speeds they've been showing. With another five points-paying races at intermediate tracks left before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup cutoff, strength at the 1.5-milers could pay dividends for Truex to make his return to the sport's playoffs for the first time since 2012. Atlanta was a good start. "We had a good plan going into the offseason of knowing what we had to do to turn the program around," said Truex. "Hats off to Cole Pearn and (owner) Joe Garone and everybody that has been pushing all the buttons and making the right decision over the winter. "It is fun to drive race cars that are fast and to be running good again." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live 1. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Finding his way to clear air on the race's final restart, Johnson got all the encouragement he needed over the team's in-car radio: "Leg it, baby. Leg it." The six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion did, pulling away to his fourth victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the 71st of his career in NASCAR's top series. Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio. " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 2. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. The defending Sprint Cup champion had to carve his way from the back of the field after suffering engine failure during Saturday practice, but was perched atop the leaderboard by the 87th lap in the 325-lap distance. Harvick wound up leading a race-high 116 laps in recording his second runner-up finish in two races thus far in 2015. " WATCH: Johnson holds off Harvick for the win 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Junior has opened the season by going 2-for-2 in posting third-place finishes despite sustaining front-end damage Sunday when he ran into a piece of debris in the late going. Though he consistently was near the front of the pack, Earnhardt led just one lap all afternoon. " WATCH: Dale Jr.: Crew chief Ives is 'a pretty good cheerleader' 4. Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. The Daytona 500 champ continued his hot streak by winning the Coors Light Pole Award on Friday. Though he lacked the power to mount a challenge over the final green-flag run, Logano will enter next Sunday's Kobalt 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the Sprint Cup points leader. " WATCH: Out Front with Miss Coors Light 5. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. The JGR driver -- who led 10 laps Sunday and lined up second for the final restart -- watched his losing skid stretch to 46 races (dating back to 2013) after a slight fade just before the checkered flag. 6. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing. The modest rejuvenation continues for Truex and the Colorado-based team owned by Barney Visser. The Furniture Row bunch registered just five top-10 finishes in all 36 races last year; two races into 2015, Truex and Co. already have a pair of single-digit results. " MORE: Truex looks to put 2014 woes behind him 7. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG-Daugherty Racing. A strong finish on an intermediate track helped lift the spirits of the single-car organization, which qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs for the first time last year. After just two races, Allmendinger is slotted in a tie for eighth in the series standings. " MORE: Chase Grid after two races 8. Brett Moffitt, No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. The former NASCAR Next driver needed to receive the free pass two times to do it, but Moffitt closed the deal on the lead lap on a day of firsts for his career-best finish in just his eighth Sprint Cup start. Brian Vickers is scheduled to return to MWR's No. 55 ride next weekend at Las Vegas . 9. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. The 2012 champion had hopes for a top-five finish, but his aspirations were also tempered with temporary resignation over what he thought could have been a subpar 15th-place result. "We were just kind of up and down and floating all day long," Keselowski said after settling for somewhere in the middle of his expectations in ninth place. 10. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman appeared sunk after absorbing significant damage in a four-car crash on Lap 257, but hard work from his RCR crew in making repairs buoyed Newman to a surprising top-10. 11. Aric Almirola, No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. After opening up 2014 with patchwork finishes of 39th, 15th, 25th, third and 43rd, Almirola has some consistency to crow about this season. "That's a big head start from last year!" Almirola tweeted after his second straight top-15 finish pushed him into a tie for eighth in Sprint Cup points. " MORE: Follow drivers on Social Drive 12. Carl Edwards, No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards was the beneficiary of the race's next-to-last yellow flag, helping him recover from a seemingly disastrous flat tire in the 274th lap for a lead-lap finish. 13. Paul Menard, No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. The Wisconsin native couldn't shake the unluckiest of numbers, starting and finishing 13th as the final driver on the lead lap. 14. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The track that produced Kahne's last-ditch clincher into the Chase field last September wasn't so kind this time around. A pit-road penalty for a rolling-tire infraction in the 293rd lap forced the Hendrick Motorsports driver to make a pass-through on pit lane during green-flag conditions. 15. Casey Mears, No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Sunday's top-15 finish wasn't quite the windfall the Germain team received from Mears' sixth-place run in the Daytona 500, but the solid day kept its driver in the same position in Sprint Cup points -- sixth. 16. Danica Patrick, No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Atlanta provided the backdrop for Patrick's career-best Sprint Cup finish of sixth place last season. While 16th place marked a slip in performance, the effort -- coupled with 21st place the previous week at Daytona -- launched Patrick into the final spot on the provisional Chase grid. 17. Regan Smith, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Smith's second start as a substitute for suspended Kurt Busch had nearly the same result as the first, just one spot lower than his 16th place in the Daytona 500. The degree of difficulty may have been greater at Atlanta, though, after Smith's No. 41 was crumpled in a multicar fracas 20 laps from the end. " WATCH: Big wreck brings out the red flag 18. David Ragan, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Ragan pushed the No. 18 car up into the top five in the early stages of his first start as a fill-in for injured Kyle Busch, but said he was "a little timid" in making needed adjustments as the 500-miler went on. "I felt like we had a good, solid top-10 car and things just didn't shake out," Ragan said. 19. Trevor Bayne, No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Bayne was at the head of the Roush Fenway class at Atlanta, but frustrated in finishing two laps down. The midpack result left him hoping to see the team's determination rewarded soon. "I see a lot of people trying to work together and that's where it starts," Bayne said. "We obviously haven't seen any results as far as speed is concerned." 20. Justin Allgaier, No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Allgaier made the most of his survival instinct after two instances of evasive action in the race's late stages. The second-year driver brushed the wall avoiding the Lap 257 pile-up that snared four cars, then dipped to the apron to dodge the Lap 305 snarl that grabbed seven more competitors. 21. Sam Hornish Jr., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Inopportune timing put Hornish in the path of debris from Austin Dillon's blown tire in the 60th lap. Damage to the front end jolted the grille and left the RPM No. 9 crew fighting an uphill battle for most of the race; his own flat tire and a later brush with the wall only compounded the trouble. 22. David Gilliland, No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Gilliland pressed on after a bump from behind in the four-car crash on the 257th lap. He also stayed on the track during the race's fourth yellow flag to lead a lap for the first time at Atlanta since March 2010. 23. Alex Bowman, No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. After failing to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500, Bowman opened his season at Atlanta as one of the biggest movers in a race filled with them. The second-year Sprint Cup driver gained 19 spots from his starting position. 24. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. Bowyer gained track position by staying on the track late in the race, but his day went from sour to downright acidic in a hurry. An engine issue developed with around 35 laps left, just before the race's final crash engulfed him with 20 to go. 25. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. The Biff fought an ill-handling car most of the day, but lost the most ground when he overcooked his entry into Turn 3 on the race's next-to-last restart, igniting the race's biggest crash. 26. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. The site of an eighth-place finish last season held much higher promise for 2014's Sunoco Rookie of the Year, but sustaining plenty of contact in the race's biggest crash near the finish prompted Larson to tweet afterward: "Such a frustrating race. Top 5 car but had no luck." " MORE: Follow drivers on Social Drive 27. Michael McDowell, No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing. The small, family-owned team found some solace in McDowell's best result in five career starts at Atlanta, marking the first time he was running at the finish at the 1.54-mile venue. 28. Brendan Gaughan, No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. The Jay Robinson-owned start-up team recovered after failing to qualify for the Daytona 500 with Brian Scott. It marked the occasion of Gaughan's first Sprint Cup start since August 2013. 29. Michael Annett, No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport Racing. Annett and Co. struck an 11th-hour deal to jump in the Joe Falk-owned ride after his regular HScott Motorsports No. 46 ride missed out on Coors Light Pole Qualifying. The last-minute move kept his goal of a complete Sprint Cup season alive. 30. Tony Stewart, No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart was one of several drivers who started near the back of the pack after issues clearing Friday's pre-qualifying inspection. Smoke grappled with handling woes for much of the race, but matters got worse with involvement in the event's final multicar crash. 31. Mike Bliss, No. 32 Ford, GoFAS Racing. The 49-year-old veteran stayed on the track during a pair of early caution periods to pace two laps, marking his first lap led in the Sprint Cup Series since March 4, 2012 (Phoenix). It also was the first time since August 27, 2005 (Bristol) that Bliss has led multiple laps in a Sprint Cup race. 32. Josh Wise, No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Wise was among the first bitten by the new pit road officiating system, incurring a Lap 28 penalty for crew members coming over the wall too soon. Though seven laps down, Wise managed his best finish in three career starts at Atlanta. 33. Joe Nemechek, No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. The man with the Front Row nickname made his first appearance in Front Row Motorsports equipment, but contact from Greg Biffle's spin left his car and hopes dented for his first Sprint Cup event of the year. 34. JJ Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Slight damage from debris early in the race slowed Yeley, who managed to improve upon the 40th-place result from the season-opening Daytona 500. 35. Jeb Burton, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing. As the only rookie in the 43-car field, Burton made his Sprint Cup debut, forging on after a mid-race scrape with the wall. 36. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse played the role of pinball in the race's biggest crash; though several cars were involved, the No. 17 was the only one unable to continue. 37. Cole Whitt, No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. An engine that would've made a 400-mile distance couldn't quite withstand the full 500, first dropping a cylinder before expiring altogether, dumping fluid on the track and causing the race's next-to-last caution period. 38. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin led twice for 14 laps, but found himself sideways in the middle of the track when he lost control on a late-race restart. Three more cars piled in, prompting Hamlin to offer sympathies: "I apologize to all those cars involved, but it's tough." " WATCH: Hamlin spins and collects several drivers 39. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. A pair of rear tire troubles in rapid succession, both of which sprayed debris on the 1.54-mile track, derailed Dillon's day. The second instance, with the car already laboring from earlier damage, sent the RCR No. 3 off into the muddy infield and later behind the wall for extensive repairs. " WATCH: Dillon spins after cutting a tire 40. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. After starting third, Jamie Mac didn't have visions of finishing in the bottom five Sunday at Atlanta. The tangle that also thwarted three others when Denny Hamlin lost control took him by surprise: "I didn't see any of that coming," McMurray said. "That was kind of out of the blue." 41. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The four-time champion drew a Lap 24 tribute from the track with his car number blanketing the main scoring pylon early on, but enduring a crash for the second straight week has his final full Sprint Cup season off to a ragged start. Finishes of 33rd at Daytona and 41st at Atlanta have relegated Gordon to a tie for 35th place in the points standings. " WATCH: Big wreck brings out red flag 42. Ron Hornaday Jr., No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. After failing to qualify for the Daytona 500, the four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion made his first Sprint Cup start since 2003 on Sunday. The Curtis Key-owned start-up team parked just past the halfway point at Atlanta with a rear gearing malfunction. 43. Landon Cassill, No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Starting last, Cassill seemingly had nowhere to go but up at Atlanta. Instead, the 25-year-old driver stayed level as the race's first retiree for the second straight week, posting consecutive 43rd-place finishes after two engine failures to start the season. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Martin Truex Jr. has had an awful recent streak of bad luck on and off the track -- it's why he's celebrating a good start to 2015. TUESDAY: Logano ... Johnson ... Earnhardt Jr. ... Harvick. Just who is No. 1 in our Power Rankings? Plus our weekly video of the best sounds from the scanner. WEDNESDAY: Check out the new paint schemes for this weekend's action at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . THURSDAY: Who's best at Las Vegas ? It might surprise you. Driver Reports will have the full story. FRIDAY: Can't be on social media all week? No worries. We'll give you the eight best NASCAR-related tweets of the week. Also coming this week: From @nascarcasm -- Why the safety workers were the (hilarious) stars at Atlanta ... senior writer Holly Cain has a story on the Las Vegas race, which won't have either of the hometown Busch brothers entered ... senior writer Kenny Bruce will analyze the new rules package, which has drivers and crew chiefs thrilled with the racing.
NASCAR spokesman: There is 'no timetable whatsoever' Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Suspended driver Kurt Busch has agreed to NASCAR's terms and conditions to pursue reinstatement last Friday, starting the process toward regaining his competition license. NASCAR issued an indefinite suspension Feb. 20, barring Busch from all NASCAR-related activity after a Delaware family court commissioner found a "preponderance of the evidence" indicated that Busch "committed an act of domestic violence" against former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll last September at Dover International Speedway . NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said Monday morning that the sanctioning body consulted with an outside expert to personalize the terms and conditions that Busch will need to meet, adding that there is not a target date in place for his potential return to Sprint Cup Series competition. "No timetable whatsoever. That's what the experts tell us," Higdon said. "There are certain things that need to happen within a certain period of time, but there's no timetable in terms of a return perspective. Secondly, before we put this in place when we worked with the experts on it, they were very adamant about saying the most important thing if you pursue any type of action in this area that you need to have a return-back program. That was why this was atop of our list as soon as the penalty was assessed, our next course of action was to clearly get in front of him the terms and conditions for the reinstatement of the license." Higdon said that Busch's path toward possible reinstatement is separate from the terms of the report filed by Kent County (Del.) Commissioner David Jones, who required that Busch "be evaluated by a licensed mental health professional" and to complete any prescribed plan of treatment. "It's very much tailored to each individual case," Higdon said of NASCAR's requirements, drawing comparisons to programs it has previously created for substance abuse and diversity sensitivity issues. "Ultimately, we've tried to get among the best in the class to execute the program, and we let them do that externally and then let them come back to us with their recommendations." The former Sprint Cup Series champion made two appeals Feb. 21, the day after the penalty was announced and the day before the season-opening Daytona 500, but both challenges to the ruling were denied. In both hearings, the two infractions in the NASCAR Rule Book -- Section 12.1.a: Actions detrimental to stock car racing; and 12.8: Behavioral penalty -- were upheld, first by a three-person National Motorsports Appeals Panel and lastly by National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss. Regan Smith, last year's runner-up in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, has filled in for Busch in the first two Sprint Cup events of the season as driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet. He will again pilot the car this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Host Matthew Strickert takes you through the Sprint Cup Series garage and gives you the latest news about what’s going on at Atlanta Motor Speedway .
MWR driver will be Chase eligible even as he misses opening two races Michael Waltrip Racing announced Wednesday that Brian Vickers has received medical clearance to return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition in early March. Vickers, a three-time winner in NASCAR's top division, is scheduled to return to MWR's No. 55 Toyota in time for the third race of the season, March 8 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Vickers underwent heart surgery in mid-December, terming the procedure "a temporary setback" that would force him to miss the start of the season. "The doctors gave me a clean bill of health and said I will be better than before," Vickers said Wednesday in a release provided by the team. "The advancements in modern medicine and surgical procedures are amazing and I have to thank my doctors at the Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute and Carolinas Medical Center for their extraordinary care. I have literally put my life in their hands twice and I cannot begin to express my level of gratitude." In the interim, MWR announced that team owner Michael Waltrip will drive the No. 55 in the season-opening Daytona 500 . The team said it would announce a substitute driver for the second race of the season -- March 1 at Atlanta Motor Speedway -- at a later date. Moments after the MWR announcement, Steve O'Donnell -- NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer -- announced that despite the two-race absence Vickers would remain eligible for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason if he meets all other playoff requirements. It's the same exemption that was extended to drivers Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart when they missed regular-season events in 2014, the first year of the new Chase format. Hamlin won at Talladega in the spring to make the Chase. "With the clearance from his physicians, Brian Vickers has satisfied all necessary NASCAR requirements to resume racing on March 5," O'Donnell said in a statement released by NASCAR. "Further, NASCAR has reviewed the circumstances surrounding his situation and has determined that he will maintain Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup eligibility despite neither entering nor attempting to qualify in the first two championship events, provided he meets all other necessary eligibility requirements." The medical leave is the third that Vickers, 31, has endured since joining the Sprint Cup circuit full-time in 2004. He missed the final 25 races of the 2010 season after treatment for blood clots and surgery to repair a hole in his heart. A recurrence of clots in his right calf forced him back on blood thinners and caused him to end his part-time 2013 campaign with five races left in the season. Last December, Vickers said he was feeling ill and went to his team of doctors for an evaluation. He underwent surgery Dec. 13 after tests revealed that his body was rejecting the artificial patch placed over the hole in his heart in 2010. Vickers, who joined the Waltrip organization in 2012, said two days after surgery that he would need "plenty of time, rest and rehab," before returning to competition. The time frame wound up being roughly three months. "Now all of my focus is getting ready so when I return we are prepared to win races and the championship in my Aaron's Dream Machine," Vickers said. All three of Vickers' wins at the sport's highest level have come with different teams. Vickers recorded his first victory in the fall of 2006 at Talladega Superspeedway with Hendrick Motorsports , infamously clearing Dale Earnhardt Jr . and teammate Jimmie Johnson out of first and second place to take the checkers. Vickers, the 2003 champion of what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series, also won from the pole position in August 2009 at Michigan International Speedway for the former Red Bull Racing team. In July 2013, he scored his first Sprint Cup victory since his lengthy medical leave and his only victory for MWR at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Waltrip, a two-time winner of NASCAR's most prestigious race, has dialed back his competition schedule in recent years to mostly accommodate restrictor-plate races (Daytona, Talladega) and competitive dancing. Waltrip, 51, is a veteran of 778 starts in NASCAR's premier series and also a fixture in FOX broadcasts of stock-car events. He won the Daytona 500 in 2001 and 2003. So thankful @BrianLVickers is going to be back soon. I'll keep your seat warm bud. @DISupdates #DAYTONA500 @AaronsSports @ToyotaRacing — Michael Waltrip (@mw55) January 21, 2015 FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Team withdraws from Atlanta race; car later found Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the car being found. Team Xtreme confirmed Friday that its No. 44 entry for this weekend's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway was stolen in the morning hours outside the team's hotel. Travis Kvapil, who was scheduled to drive the team's Chevrolet this weekend at the 1.54-mile track, offered details through his Twitter account, saying the car was inside an enclosed, white 26-foot trailer attached to a black Ford dually truck, both with New Jersey license plates. The truck and trailer were parked overnight at a hotel in Morrow, Georgia, approximately 16 miles north of the speedway . "What a crazy story," Kvapil told FOX Sports 1. "I got some voicemails and some texts this morning, and I kind of thought the guys were just screwing with me, said they had problems with the car and I guess they had big problems with the car -- it was stolen." By Thursday, the team's hauler was already at the Atlanta track, leaving early to escape the wintry weather forecast for the greater Charlotte area on Wednesday evening. The primary car was brought separately from the organization's North Carolina shop, arriving Thursday at approximately 11 p.m. ET. The team said hotel surveillance video showed that the alleged theft happened Friday at 5:32 a.m. ET. Wow. Anyone near Atlanta find my stolen Cup car let me know! Unreal — Travis Kvapil (@TravisKvapil) February 27, 2015 NASCAR confirmed Friday after that Team Xtreme had withdrawn from Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX). Team officials said the operation hoped to regroup in time for the third race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, March 8 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . "Real setback for Team Xtreme, (team owner) John Cohen and all the guys that worked so hard to get us here coming off a decent Daytona race," Kvapil said. "This is a big setback for this little team." Reed Sorenson drove the No. 44 entry to a 32nd-place finish in last weekend's season-opening Daytona 500, capping a week of hard work to prepare a backup car after a crash during Coors Light Pole Qualifying. "While this is obviously a setback for this weekend, our plans remain to compete in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season," Cohen said. "We are working closely with the Morrow police in hopes that our truck, trailer and race car are safely returned." Sunday's race was scheduled to be the first Sprint Cup start of the season for Kvapil, who finished 15th last weekend in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series opener at Daytona International Speedway . The car was later found, dumped off the side of the road, the team announced via Twitter early Saturday morning. Lost and Found section of the road. pic.twitter.com/L3cEdi9o0R — Team XTREME Racing (@Teamxtreme44) February 28, 2015 Official Teamxtreme44 @TravisKvapil @NASCAR car found by @Gwinnettcounty police officers Tonelli, Wolfson Digby pic.twitter.com/SkUkHyCxft — Team XTREME Racing (@Teamxtreme44) February 28, 2015 MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule