Drivers debate aero rules while at open test at Bristol Motor Speedway Maybe they aren’t completely sold on the high drag package that debuted this past weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway , but after a couple of days to chew on the results, drivers seemed a bit less vocal in their level of disappointment with the platform. "I applaud NASCAR for trying, doing everything they can," Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards said during a break in Wednesday's open test at Bristol Motor Speedway . "They're trying all these different things to produce the best racing they can." Not exactly an endorsement for the Indy package, which will also be used in August when the Sprint Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway , but an understanding of what NASCAR officials are hoping to develop. However, Edwards, who finished 13th at Indy after winning the pole, remains steadfast in his belief that the continued reduction in downforce is the best route. "I believe the racing as we lose aero dependency, as they take downforce away, you're just going to see better and better racing," he said. "… I really think the more we go back toward that, the better off we're going to be." The high drag package featured a 9-inch spoiler (a 3-inch increase) as well as other aero changes. Downforce was impacted, but only slightly. Instead, the taller spoiler created a larger wake of air behind the cars. Ryan Blaney , 12th at Indy, said he thought the high drag package "showed promise." "There are good things and bad things you can take away from each package," the Wood Brothers Racing driver said. "That's what it's always going to be no matter what package you bring; there's always going to be positives and negatives and drivers are going to have different feedback about every one. "I thought the high drag package really helped us get big runs down the straightaways behind other cars and you could make a move getting in the corner. But Indy being a single-lane race track it was hard to kind of make a move in the corner. You had to kind of set yourself up for the straightaway." Michael Waltrip Racing driver David Ragan agreed that the taller spoiler and other configurations made for a better closing rate on others when coming off the corners and onto the long straightaways at Indy. "But once you got to their back bumper, once you pulled out, you really couldn't do anything with that run," Ragan, who finished 21st, said. "It was real easy to stall out. I'm not an aero specialist so I don't know if we could tweak on that … I thought the cars changed balance a lot behind other cars. … When I could run by myself, my car would be a little on the tight side and when I would catch a car, or if I caught two cars side-by-side in front of me, my car would shift to really, really loose really quick. "I think just all the air off of their cars was disruptive and I didn't have any consistent air on mine. You had to be on the wheel and on top of it making adjustments certainly when you were in traffic or by yourself." While Indy's 2.5-mile course is tight, one-groove and without much banking, Michigan should be a better barometer for the package. "I think you will see some bigger packs at Michigan ," Ragan said. "You’ve got a little more grip in the race track, you've got a little more banking, definitely more grooves so I think you've got more options to run two- and three-wide in the corners. "But I think my big concern is the handling for those guys that are in the middle of the pack. The cars in the top four or five are going to have a very good advantage just from the fact of having clean air. Those guys running 20th are going to have to fight a different fight because of handling. "It will definitely be, in my opinion, a little better going to Michigan just because the race track will promote a little better racing." Tire Chatter Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series teams competing at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway this weekend will run the same Goodyear tire codes and a combination that's been used at the 2.5-mile, three-turn track since 2012. According to Goodyear, the tire combination is used only at Pocono. Meanwhile, XFINITY Series teams competing this weekend at Iowa Speedway will use the same combination used there earlier this season. Indy Violations There were 31 pit-road penalties handed down during Sunday's Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard, nearly half of which were due to team pitting before pit road was open. NASCAR officials announced a P3-level penalty Wednesday levied against the No. 98 Premium Motorsports team for an unattached weight that fell of the car during practice at IMS. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Matthew Strickert and Kenny Bruce discuss the fast speed of Michigan International Speedway and pick which drivers could possibly hoist the trophy in the Quicken Loans 400.
No. 18 driver gives Toyota its first victory at the Brickyard RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings " SHOP: Busch gear INDIANAPOLIS -- "This is awesome!" Kyle Busch screamed as he crossed the start/finish line at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and continued a run that has grown from extraordinary to downright other-worldly. Holding off Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano during three late-race restarts, Busch beat Logano to the finish line by .332 seconds to win Sunday's Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at The Brickyard. The victory was Busch’s fourth in the last five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, all coming after an 11-event absence to start the season, the result of a broken right leg and left foot suffered in a crash during the Feb. 21 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway . "I guess Kyle's back," a disappointed Logano said after the race, uttering perhaps the biggest understatement in the modern era of stock car racing. Harvick finished third, followed by Martin Truex Jr . and Denny Hamlin . Clint Bowyer , Matt Kenseth , Kurt Busch , Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski completed the top 10. To the suggestion that the accident may have provided additional impetus to his comeback, Kyle Busch replied, "I just think that maybe I've found my happy place. "Happy Gilmore (a movie character) – he found his happy place and he just dominated at the end, so maybe I've found that, too. Nothing better than being in Victory Lane. Nothing better than being in Victory Lane for one of the biggest wins of my career. "I just want to celebrate with my team, my wife and my family." A quick inventory of Busch's accomplishments shows that the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota: -- He is the first to sweep both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races at Indianapolis. Busch won the Lilly Diabetes 250 XFINITY race on Saturday with a last-lap pass of Ryan Blaney . -- He gave Toyota its first victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway , breaking a string of 12 straight wins by Chevrolet at the 2.5-mile track. -- He won the 33rd NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of his career. -- He continued his relentless advance toward the top 30 in the standings and consequent eligibility for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. In what now seems a foregone conclusion, Busch has six races to overcome a 23-point deficit to 30th-place Justin Allgaier . "We're a championship contending team," Busch asserted. "We just have to be championship eligible. Thank the good Lord for bringing me back when he did. Obviously, thanking him for all the success I've had in my life, where I'm at and all my blessings. "To get me back as quick as he did, to persevere through that and that deficit. We're still continuing on. We can't have bad days. I don't know that any of that matters—we're going to bask in this moment here." Perhaps most astounding is Busch's ability to win three straight races at three different race tracks using three different competition packages: low-downforce at Kentucky with a 3.5-inch spoiler; standard 2015 rules at New Hampshire with a six-inch spoiler; and high-drag at Indianapolis with a nine-inch spoiler and one-inch wicker. Logano fell just short of giving team owner Roger Penske, a 16-time Indianapolis 500 winner, his first Sprint Cup victory at The Brickyard. RELATED: Logano says, 'I'm glad he's back, but geez' "You come to Indy, and it's all about the win," said Logano, who took the checkered flag in the season-opening Daytona 500 this year. "You either win or finish last. It doesn't really matter anywhere in-between. At least that's the way I race when I come to a track like this. I feel like, at Daytona and Indy, it's all about getting trophies and rings and making out with bricks. "Overall, it was a good day, but second hurts. It always does." Jeff Gordon 's last race at The Brickyard as a full-time Cup driver—and his hopes for an unprecedented sixth victory at the 2.5-mile track—suffered an irreparable blow on Lap 50. Racing to the inside of Harvick, Bowyer's Toyota got loose and spun. Gordon checked up, trying to avoid Bowyer's car, but the No. 24 Chevrolet swerved out of control into the outside wall in Turn 3. The resulting damage ended any hope of another Brickyard trophy for the four-time Sprint Cup champion. "I was underneath Kasey Kahne and we were just racing for position," Gordon said as his crew worked feverishly in the garage to repair the car. "I saw Bowyer get sideways. I don't know what caused it. Me and Kasey were trying to check up to avoid it. I don't know if he got loose or we just both got loose together. Then I just lost control and got in the wall." Gordon finished 42nd and lost one spot to 11th in the series standings. Without a win this season, Gordon is in jeopardy of missing the Chase and can ill-afford another day like Sunday. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Wally Dallenbach takes the Toyota Camry Test Car for a lap around Michigan International Speedway .
Teams will hit track with a high drag platform, tall spoilers Two weeks after debuting a new lower downforce aerodynamic package at Kentucky Speedway , NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams will hit the track with a high drag platform when they roll into Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this weekend’s Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard. Chief among the changes will be the use of a nine-inch spoiler -- three inches taller than what was used this past weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and nearly six inches taller than those used at Kentucky. NASCAR officials hope the alterations will lessen the aero impact on the trailing car and promote more passing and side-by-side racing throughout the field on the 2.5-mile track. "In the end, it's all about that 9-inch spoiler," Dave Wilson, President & General Manager, Toyota Racing Development, USA, told NASCAR.com. "Everything else about the package is really about balancing the car." Wilson said he believes the changes are intended to "create this bigger pocket of air behind the car and allow for the cars behind to draft up and slingshot, go 3-4 wide, (promote more) passing and all that." "The question that we all have," he said, "is what is it going to do once you get up to the car through the corners? There is so much air coming off that spoiler now ... how does that impact the cars next to it. We don't know." Spoiler Alert: Compare the spoiler we will run at Indy (left) to the one we ran at Kentucky (right). #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/mkrc9dIkfu — Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) July 21, 2015 The high drag package is also scheduled for use next month when the Sprint Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway . A similar version of the lower downforce rules package used at Kentucky is earmarked for Darlington in September, and could potentially be implemented for races in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Five of the 10 Chase races will be contested on tracks 1.5 miles in length. There are no tracks, however, to which the high drag package would relate in the Chase. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch won at Kentucky, and Toyota teams swept four of the top five spots with the lower downforce package. Wilson said that was due in part to the strength of the JGR organization, particularly at the 1.5-mile track, and because of the work done by Toyota to prepare for the aero changes. The Indy/ Michigan changes are more of an unknown. "We tried to optimize everything we could based upon what NASCAR gave us at Kentucky," Wilson said. "We're doing the same thing (for) Indy. But we can only run one (car) in the wind tunnel, right? "We can do some simulation. Typically we do a lot of drafting simulation to try and understand what happens to the cars behind, but you really rely on correlating that to real world, on-track experience. That's when it all comes together. The low downforce package, we had some experience with it ... we had some idea. But this is unchartered territory for everybody." Cole Pearn, crew chief for Martin Truex Jr . and the No. 78 Chevrolet team, said while the effect of the package at Indy is still an unknown, it could produce "a full-on pack race" when the series returns to Michigan next month. "It's going to be close to that because we were borderline wide open in practice at least through (Turns) 1 and 2, not 3 and 4 in the first race (at MIS)," Pearn said. "Now, hands down we're going to be wide-open. It'll be interesting. "It's created a big scramble for us because it's just all the aero-mapping that needs to be done and the amount of wind-tunnel time. It's a good business for being in the wind-tunnel business right now." The changes will likely lead to a greater amount of off-throttle time for drivers, according to Dave Rogers, crew chief for JGR driver Denny Hamlin . "You're really going to use more brake to slow down to negotiate the corner," he said. "You're going to be off the gas a lot, so it's really going to reward the teams that hit their setup the best, and it's going to reward the drivers that can manage their tires the best. "I think the aim is to create pack racing and see if that creates more excitement at those big ovals. I'm speculating here, but I'm speculating that we'll be probing our fans to see what they want to see. Do they want to see the off-throttle time and cars slipping and sliding, or do they want to see a pack race and slingshot moves and all that? Some of the fans are going to like some, and some are going to like the other, just like us racers. Some of us like the pack and some of us like to see these drivers out there earning their paycheck. "I'm one of those -- I want to see them slipping and sliding." In addition to the 9-inch spoiler, the Indy/MIS package will also feature a 1-inch wicker bill; a rear fascia extension panel similar to that currently used for superspeedway events; a 2-inch leading edge on the splitter; and a 43-inch splitter extension panel. "Probably the biggest spoiler is when we had the 8-inch spoiler on these cars," Roush Fenway Racing driver Greg Biffle said. "… I'm a fan of the low downforce. Every time we've had shorter spoiler or less spoiler, and less side force and whatever else and the cars get sliding around a little bit and they're not as fast in the corner, it's just better racing and better passing, and it allows you to pass." In addition to the aero changes, the following will also be in effect for this weekend's Spring Cup race: • Engine change: teams will be allowed an engine change before Saturday's qualifying • Data acquisition will be allowed during Friday's three scheduled practices. • Teams have been asked to bring four different rear-end gears; a determination of which will be used with the package will be made after Friday's final practice. Teams are expected to start with a 3.70 gear. No Tow, Just a Tire When Martin Truex Jr . and Ryan Newman suffered flat tires during the first two practice sessions at NHMS this past weekend, both cars remained on the track until the tires could be replaced. According to NASCAR officials, concern over potential damage to the cars was the reason given for not having each towed back to pit road. Truex Jr. ( Furniture Row Racing ) experienced a flat during Friday's opening practice; Newman ( Richard Childress Racing ) cut a left rear during Saturday's first session. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Team owner won at the Brickyard in 2010 with driver Jamie McMurray Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds a special spot in Chip Ganassi's heart, as a backdrop to his five starts as an IndyCar driver to his five wins as a car owner -- one in NASCAR and four in the Indianapolis 500. The track's rich history, the sense of place -- all are palpable when his team sets up camp in Gasoline Alley for a race weekend in either series. But despite his fondness for Indy, Ganassi insists there's not a Target-red marker to circle the Speedway's place on the NASCAR calendar for emphasis. With seven races left to get his drivers Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson in position for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, the 57-year-old team owner said each event carries its own importance. "I don't think there's any extra pressure. If there's any pressure at all, it's every race," Ganassi says. "There's a certain amount that goes with every event, but I mean, Indy is in some sense a big event and I know our guys like big events. In another sense, it's just another race and we want to approach it the same way, but we're certainly excited about going there." The sense of time and place is also meaningful for McMurray heading into Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM), an event he won as part of his banner season of 2010, his first with the team that is now known as Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. In some ways, McMurray says, his Brickyard victory seems like a distant memory but in other ways not as much. Ganassi's longest-tenured driver said he often frames events now in relation to his children's ages. At the time of his Indy win, his wife, Christy, was pregnant with the couple's first child, Carter -- now 4 1/2 years old. Their status as happy parents-to-be comes through in all the photos from Victory Lane and the traditional kiss of the yard of bricks at the start-finish line, but so is the joy shared by Ganassi and Sabates savoring their first stock-car triumph at the birthplace of Indianapolis-style racing. The venerable Speedway certainly remains cherished, but McMurray said the approach doesn't change for this weekend. "I don't remember Chip ever mentioning anything about this race being more important to him than any other race, even though he has the background with the IndyCar team and has the shop based there," McMurray said. "It was a really big deal for us to be able to win there in 2010 -- the pictures, the memories … I loved getting to watch the TV footage afterward of how excited Chip was with Felix being able to win there. But honestly, I don't remember him ever mentioning anything about we need to put more effort into this weekend over any other." Some extra effort will be necessary this weekend, if only because a new, high-drag aero package awaits Sprint Cup teams. To help teams adjust to the rules changes, Friday practice has been expanded to three sessions totaling four hours and 40 minutes, an increase of one hour, 25 minutes from 2014. The extra time might be welcome for crew chiefs such as Matt McCall , in his first year overseeing McMurray's No. 1 Chevrolet. A raised rear spoiler and other aero devices are expected to produce closer, almost pack-style racing at Indianapolis this weekend and at Michigan International Speedway next month but McCall said he's reserving judgment on how cars will react until his team can log track time. "Obviously, you've got wind tunnel data to think you know what it's going to be like, but until they actually make some laps …," McCall said, trailing off with a slight shrug. "I think a couple of cars put the package on at the Chicago test (last week), so with a little bit of feedback, we'll be able to pay attention to that. Still, once you get most of the cars on the race track, you'll get a better idea of what will happen. "It's different, so that's sort of good. Any type of change that'll get your mind thinking a different way, I'm all about it. Sometimes the setup gets so repetitive that it's the same every single week, so pretty cool to have a chance to play on something different." NASCAR officials instituted a low-downforce package two weeks ago at Kentucky Speedway , producing a harder-to-handle car that placed greater emphasis on driver input. The result was the most competitive Sprint Cup race -- measured in green-flag passes -- in the series' five-year run in the Bluegrass State. The widely different trim of the Indianapolis package may be signaling a shift toward track-specific setups, all in the hope of promoting better racing with tailor-made aerodynamics. With that concept just beginning to take root, Ganassi said it's still too early to weigh potential benefits against possible drawbacks. "I have mixed feelings about it and what I've found, I had some feelings about the Kentucky package that really were unfounded concerns, I realized later," Ganassi said. "So I want to be careful what I say about Indianapolis and kind of go in with an open mind. I think in one sense, it's a bit of an equalizer in that no one's tested that package there. So it's going to be interesting to see what happens and it could be an advantage for us." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Second start in the No. 25 for Tommy Baldwin Racing Sprint Cup driver Athenian Motorsports announced Thursday that Alex Bowman will replace John Wes Townley in the team's No. 25 Chevrolet for Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . According to a release provided by the team, Townley aggravated a non-racing-related injury during Wednesday night's Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway . The team said Townley was treated and released from the infield care center after finishing 14th in the 1-800-Car-Cash Mud Summer Classic, the truck tour's third annual race on dirt. Bowman, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular, is scheduled to make his second XFINITY start this season in Athenian's No. 25 in Saturday's Lilly Diabetes 250 (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC, IMS Radio, SiriusXM). The 22-year-old driver also took a fill-in role in June at Michigan International Speedway , when Townley was competing in the Truck Series' event at Iowa Speedway . Townley, 25, has entered 12 of the XFINITY Series' 17 events this season. He ranks fifth in the driver standings in the Camping World Truck Series, where he competes full-time. Athenian said in its release that Townley expects to recuperate in time for the series' next race, the Pocono Mountains 150 (Aug. 1, 1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM) at Pocono Raceway. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Earnhardt describes how hot it was at Loudon en route to fifth-place finish RELATED: Junior reacts to his finish right after the race " Scanner Sounds: Junior heated The hot weather at New Hampshire Motor Speedway had an affect on several drivers in the 5-hour ENERGY 301 with a few drivers needing to go to the infield care center after the race for heat-related issues. On "The Dale Jr. Download on Dirty Mo Radio, Dale Earnhardt Jr . said he was feeling the effects of the heat later that night. "It was a real hot race," Earnhardt said. "Seen a lot of drivers wore out. I was hot, my face was hot. Rest of me was fine, just my face. It was kind of weird. Even later at night trying to go to bed, my face felt like it was sunburnt." Earnhardt scored a fifth-place finish in the 5-hour ENERGY 301 for his 10th top-10 finish of 2015 and his fourth straight top-10 showing at the Magic Mile. But to get that top five wasn't easy. "We had a bad gauge. Oil pressure gauge was showing 120 pounds and that's not good." And then there was some contact with Kurt Busch around the two-thirds mark of the race took Earnhardt outside the top five and down to 24th when he pitted under caution before a Lap 204 restart. "We got on the outside of the 41, racing with Kurt a lot during the day. I don't think he knew I was out there. We got on the outside of him in 1 and 2 and coming off of Turn 2, he just came up like his spotter didn't tell him I was there and I torn his bumper up. His bumper got stuck in my bumper. It was causing us a lot of problems so we ended up having to come down pit road and pull his bumper out of my bumper and patch a hole. Fix this and fix that. I didn't know if we were going to be as competitive with all that trouble but we ended up driving back up through there. Had a pretty good car, that helps us out in a situation like that." However, Earnhardt was able to work his way up through the field and was racing Matt Kenseth late for fifth-place. The two drivers competed for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in 2000 and have come through the Sprint Cup ranks together, dating back to when Kenseth finished second in the then Busch Grand National Series (now the XFINITY Series) to Earnhardt in 1998. "Right at the end I got to race pretty good with my buddy Matt Kenseth . Me and him have raced each other all our careers. It's always fun to sort of work together on the race track and race each other. He wanted that top-five finish and so did I. He was struggling pretty bad and I was having a hard time getting around him. I ended up finally getting around him so that was pretty cool." Now, the series shifts to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, IMS Radio, SiriusXM) where a new high-drag package will be run at the 2.5-mile track. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet has just one top-five finish in 15 starts at the Brickyard and is looking forward to running this new rules package for Indianapolis. The same type of package will also be run at Michigan International Speedway in August. "Got new rules, big spoilers, lot of drag. There's not more downforce. From what I am told there is a piece that they put on the bottom of the rear bumper that actually makes this package have less downforce in the back then what we have ran all year. I don't know how true that is. That's what Jeff Gordon 's been telling me. So can't really call this the high downforce package, it's just a high drag. We'll see how the racing is and looking forward to it. Should be an interesting weekend for everybody." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Drivers give feedback on new rules package at Indy SPEEDWAY , Ind. -- There was the unexpected stall on track by six-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the opening session and the hood on the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin that disintegrated just as the second practice got underway, but neither were related to the new high drag aerodynamic package that debuted Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams began preparations for Sunday's Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard with a taller spoiler (9-inches), a 1-inch wicker bill, as well as changes to the splitter and splitter extension panel. The move could improve passing on the narrow, 2.5-mile track. But the jury was still out after nearly five hours of on-track activity Friday. "Passing will be tough to say the least," Hamlin, fastest in the first of three sessions, said. "We're trying something new. I can't fault (NASCAR) for trying – they tried what we wanted to try and I thought we had a pretty successful race (at Kentucky) and now we're trying something different. "We'll see if it's better or not. Still, here is a very tough race track. This is a one-groove race track where it's definitely been tough to pass here for 15 years or as long as I've been here. It's just going to be one of those tough tracks." Johnson's troubles were the result of a faulty fuel pump. Hamlin's miscue came as a result of hood pins that weren't properly secured. Other than a spin here, a brush with the wall there, it was a day most spent trying to find the balance between speed and drivability. Some found it; some are still searching. NASCAR rolled out a low downforce setup for the Kentucky race, and while the tire provided wasn't built specifically for the package, the results were generally favorable. A version of the Indy package, which will also be in play next month when the series returns to Michigan International Speedway , was tested briefly last year. Because of the uncertainties, teams were allowed one engine change prior to Saturday's qualifying and also ran their practices with on-board data acquisition systems. Teams were instructed to bring four different gears to Indy for possible use, starting with a 3.70 before giving option of 3.70 or 3.75 gear for the second session. By the final practice, the options were 3.75 and 3.80. "I honestly think until we get into the race on Sunday that it's hard to get anyone's true opinion on what we are going to have," Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) said. "… I really don't. To me on Sunday when you get two cars side-by-side with this package the guy in third is going to have an extra engine. It's going to be crazy the amount of speed that he is going to have. I don't know, the restarts are going to be pretty wild, I think." Teams did take part in an open test here in April, following a two-day Goodyear tire test. But the high drag package was not a part of those tests. The data gathered months ago isn't completely useless, Team Penske driver Joey Logano said, but much of it no longer relates. "I think a lot of that transfers over, but there is still quite a bit of difference," he said. "When you look at your wedge or your track bar or nose weight -- those three things for sure, maybe rear springs -- those changed probably the most when you have a package that's so different than what they tested here or what we ran last year even. "We're just trying to find a balance for those three and those … are a challenge enough, but obviously there's a lot more to that package than just that." A day that began for teams at 6:30 a.m. ended with most sifting through data, changing engines, and "basically totally re-prep your car," Team Penske competition director Travis Geisler said. "This was a hell of a day." What, if anything, was learned? "I think it's definitely going to take guys being forced into situations, which is what the race does, to make things happen," he said. "Something that just never happens in practice. You can't force guys to do that. … It is, he said, "a lot of the reason why NASCAR has gone in the direction of ‘hey, we're going to go to the race track and see what happens.' "We've all spent a lot time, energy, resources on going to large scale tests and you still just never generate the motivation for guys to put themselves in uncomfortable positions. "There has to be something on the line and I think kissing the bricks is as much on the line as guys can get." Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ) led the final practice. Coors Light Pole qualifying (NBCSN) to set the 43-car field is scheduled to being at 1:10 p.m. ET Saturday. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Catch up before Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) What: 47th annual Quicken Loans 400 Where: Michigan International Speedway , 2-mile D-shaped oval in Brooklyn, Michigan When: Sunday, June 14, 2015 TV/Radio: FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Distance: 200 laps (400 miles) Green Flag: 1:16.30 p.m. ET Pit Road Speed: 55 mph Caution Car Speed: 65 mph Fuel Window: 40 laps On The Front Row " Complete lineup 1. Kasey Kahne , Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet (201.992 mph) 2. Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (201.613 mph) Failed to Qualify Brendan Gaughan , Premium Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet Fastest In Practice First Practice: Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (202.492 mph) " Results Second Practice: Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (201.084 mph) " Results Third Practice: Jeff Gordon , Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet (198.604 mph) " Results Kahne's pole streak ends Kasey Kahne will start first in Sunday's 400-miler, thanks to his first Coors Light Pole Award since October 2012 at Kansas Speedway , a span of 90 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. "I think the competition is much closer," Kahne said of the qualifying dry spell. "I think the drivers, the teams are better than what they used to be. A lot of times a tenth (of a second) separates 15 cars. I don't remember it being quite like that when I first came into the sport when poles seemed to be easier to win at that time." Manufacturer mix With the automotive hub of Detroit not far from the 2-mile speedway , NASCAR's manufacturers place an extra emphasis on winning in their own backyard. Among current automakers in the sport, Ford has 34 wins, Chevrolet has 22 and Toyota four. Angling for a triple Hendrick Motorsports holds a modest two-race win streak at Michigan after sweeping the track's events last year with Jimmie Johnson prevailing in June and Jeff Gordon coming home first in August. History lesson NASCAR's premier series began racing at Michigan International Speedway in 1969, with Cale Yarborough winning the Motor State 500. Longtime team owner Roger Penske rescued the track from bankruptcy in 1973 and managed the facility until International Speedway Corp., took over in July 1999. While the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte remains NASCAR's longest race, Michigan once scheduled its own 600-miler for its second event. But rain shortened the race after 165 of 300 laps for an abbreviated distance of 330 miles. Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Michigan based on past 10 years: 1. Greg Biffle , 107.1 2. Jimmie Johnson , 102.5 3. Matt Kenseth , 101.3 Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet Former Michigan winners in the field Greg Biffle (4); Jeff Gordon (3); Kurt Busch , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Carl Edwards , Denny Hamlin , Matt Kenseth , Ryan Newman (2); Kyle Busch , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Joey Logano , Tony Stewart (1). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule