RELATED: Complete race lineup CONCORD, N.C. -- For a driver who keeps insisting that qualifying isn’t his strong suit, Matt Kenseth continues to excel on NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole days. Touring the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway in a blistering 27.759 seconds (194.532 mph) on Thursday night, the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota earned the top starting spot for Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM), the first race in the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Kenseth was .198 seconds quicker than JGR teammate Kyle Busch (193.154 mph), who put the No. 18 Toyota on the outside of the front row. Busch's car is sporting a pink paint scheme this weekend to bring attention to the work of his foundation in fighting breast cancer. The Coors Light Pole Award was Kenseth's fourth this year -- a personal best for a single season -- his second at Charlotte (and second consecutive) and the 17th of his career. Kenseth didn't have a perfect lap, but as he crossed the start/finish to complete the circuit, he knew he had a shot at the pole. "It was a heck of a lap," Kenseth said. "I knew I had a lot of speed. I kind of changed it up in (Turns) 1 and 2 a little bit, and I just got a little tight in the middle of (Turns) 3 and 4. I knew the car was fast. Our Dollar General Camry has been fast all day, and it was a lot of fun to drive." Kenseth gave the car and crew chief Jason Ratcliff's setup much of the credit for his pole-winning effort. "I knew it was going to be real fast," Kenseth said. "I didn't know we were going to sit on the pole by any means, but it had the feel and everything that I wanted. It's funny, this place, if you can get it to drive just like you want, you can really perform well here, but it's so hard to get that feel ... "But today he (Ratcliff) got it to drive that way. I was going to have to mess it up to not get it, as good as he had it there." Joey Logano (193.023 mph) qualified third, followed by Greg Biffle (192.947 mph) and Denny Hamlin (192.912 mph). With Carl Edwards claiming the eighth starting spot, JGR put all four of its drivers, all of whom are Chase contenders, in the top eight. All told, Chase drivers grabbed nine of the top 12 positions on the grid, with Biffle, Jimmie Johnson (seventh) and Aric Almirola (ninth) the only non-Chase drivers able to advance to the final round of knockout qualifying. Busch, who fought his way back into the Chase with a second-place finish last Sunday at Dover, was pleased with his effort in time trials. "I don't know -- Matt Kenseth , he was better than me, that's for sure," Busch said. "He got more out of it than me, but our pink M&M's Camry is awesome. We were able to post some good speed there. I'm real happy with it ... and I'm looking forward to the race on Saturday night." All 12 Chase contenders advanced through the first round, but Brad Keselowski (13th), Martin Truex Jr . (15th) and Jeff Gordon (22nd) weren't fast enough to make the final elimination session, which is restricted to the top 12. Keselowski ran an identical lap to 12th-place Carl Edwards but lost the final spot in the third round on an owner points tiebreaker. Josh Wise and Timmy Hill failed to make the 43-car field. The Sprint Cup Series is back on track on Friday for practice at 3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN/Live Extra).
RELATED: Learn more about Watkins Glen " Course breakdown by turn WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Now that Watkins Glen has started repaving its racing surface, running "the Boot" may be back on the table for NASCAR races. The current configuration of the Glen for NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races eliminates the Boot, which contains Turns 6 through 9, and shortens the course from 3.40 miles to 2.45 miles. But with repaving already having taken place in the Boot, smoothing the bumps in that portion of the track, NASCAR is considering running the full Grand Prix Course, which currently is used for the Tudor United Sports Car Championship. "We could," NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell told the NASCAR Wire Service before Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen. "We're discussing it with the track. It's something we're looking at down the road." Even with the addition of the Boot, Watkins Glen wouldn't be the longest road course on the NASCAR rotation. Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, which hosts the XFINITY Series, measures 4.048 miles.
NASCAR CMO Phelps: 'Technology is incredibly important for us' RELATED: NASCAR news release Technology, in the form of Fortune 500 investment, is reinforcing the notion that NASCAR makes good business sense. For the third consecutive year, the number of Fortune 500 companies utilizing NASCAR as part of their marketing mix has increased. In fact, nearly half of America’s Fortune 100 companies invest with NASCAR to help drive their business and more than one in four Fortune 500 companies are on board. The new analysis, conducted and released by NASCAR on Wednesday, indicated a 7 percent increase in Fortune 500 corporate involvement since the 2014 study. The 130 Fortune 500 companies now involved in the sport reflect a 20 percent increase since 2008. Now, investment is back in a big way, led by high tech involvement in the sport. "Technology is incredibly important for us," says Steve Phelps, NASCAR chief marketing officer. "It’s not only about helping us grow, financially, but how technology helps change people’s perception of NASCAR . Technology helps us on the race track with things like safety initiatives and brings fans closer to the sport they love in many ways." Phelps said the sport began to notice tech’s impact with Hewlett-Packard’s involvement three years ago. Now, NASCAR ’s partnership with Microsoft has other tech companies taking note. Tech corporation involvement is up 66 percent since 2013. "No question, this is great news for us," Phelps says. "We want our fan base to become younger and more diverse. Technology brings those fans. It’s important for us to be there, working with these companies." Phelps sees Microsoft’s collaboration with NASCAR as a true win-win that other tech firms might seek to emulate. "Microsoft, which signed deals with NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports , has used NASCAR as a validator of their technology," Phelps said. "One existing piece is an app they developed that helps us with the inspection process prior to the race. We’re doing things in half the time we used to, using a mobile inspection app as opposed to collecting information manually. This helps with data collection and storage." Phelps is quick to point out that investment in NASCAR ’s sanctioning body, its tracks and its teams extends far beyond the Fortune 500 list. " NASCAR continues to be a great place for all companies to get their marketing message across," Phelps said. "When you look at NASCAR ’s recovery over the past three years, I think it speaks volumes about how NASCAR continues to do very well in attracting businesses of all sizes. "It’s a way for business to reach the most loyal fans in all of sport who vote with their wallets. This continues to be the case in every research report we’ve done: NASCAR fans support brands that support their favorite sport. We think this is a major point of differentiation for us." Brand exposure in NASCAR is especially valuable given the loyalty of its fans. Repucom’s SponsorLink tracker shows seven out of 10 NASCAR fans are loyal to a brand when it sponsors their sport, higher than all other major sports properties. NASCAR CEO Brent Dewar echoed Phelps’ assessment in analyzing the most recent study. "We are gratified that NASCAR continues to be a place where best-in-class corporations choose our sport to drive brand awareness, preference and purchase behavior," Dewar said. "Our fans are fiercely loyal to our sport and the Fortune 500 brands that are an integral part of the NASCAR eco-system. We collaborate with partners across the industry each and every day to grow the sport and help advance sponsors’ objectives." It hasn’t hurt that NASCAR has taken a proactive approach in attracting and discussing its business environment with its investors. An example is NASCAR ’s Fuel for Business Council, which meets quarterly, and gets business leaders talking about opportunities in NASCAR , including branding and business-to-business opportunities. This month’s meeting in San Francisco featured presentations by Microsoft and by Fanatics, which is in the process of revolutionizing the sport’s at-track merchandising operations. "It’s an opportunity for companies to talk to each other, and that’s really important," Phelps said. "Microsoft’s presentation answered the question: 'Why are we in NASCAR ?’ In the end, we do business-to-business better than any sport on the planet – an important point of differentiation for investors." Phelps points out that investment extends far beyond the scope of Fortune 500 corporations and does not include dozens of companies advertising with NASCAR ’s media partners or the hundreds of small- and mid-sized businesses with direct ties to the sport. To be eligible for the Fortune 500, a company must be based in the U.S. and be publicly traded. Though many more Fortune 500 companies advertise on NASCAR -related television programming, only those that are partners or licensees with the sanctioning body, teams and / or tracks were counted in the analysis. Although being a Fortune 500 company is the "gold standard" of success for publicly-traded companies in the U.S., several global corporations currently involved in NASCAR were not included in the analysis because they do not meet Fortune 500 criteria. Those include Ingersoll Rand, MillerCoors, Mars, McLaren and Toyota. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 7, 2015) -- Twenty-two drivers have three days to compete for a spot in the motorsport industry's top driver development program, the NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D), set to commence at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va., Oct. 19-21, 2015. Now in its 12th year, the annual Combine invites promising ethnically diverse and female drivers, ages 14 to 26, from across North America to test their skills over a three-day period in order to identify members of the NASCAR D4D Class of 2016. "Finding and developing diverse athletes who will represent the future of NASCAR is at the core of our organization's mission," said NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Jim Cassidy. "Every year, the bar is raised with talented applicants who have the potential and determination to succeed. We're proud to watch our graduates in the national series and develop more diverse talent to join them in the years to come." In partnership with Rev Racing, the Max Siegel-owned race team, D4D offers racing opportunities in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKPSE) and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) for one full season, providing drivers with equipment, mentoring, and competition experience. "We could not be more excited about this year's NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine to select the 2016 Class of Rev Racing drivers," said team CEO Max Siegel. "Coming off of our sixth consecutive multiple race winning season, we are focused on continuing to make our program and approach world class, as we prepare these young drivers to advance into the national series." The NASCAR D4D Combine has proven successful in identifying and developing future stars of the sport. Current D4D member Collin Cabre secured Rev Racing's second win of 2015 with a victory at the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season finale at Dover International Speedway . In addition, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson and NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers Darrell Wallace Jr . and Daniel Suárez, leaders in the series' Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, are among the graduates of the program. This year's athletes include 13 women, notably the youngest combine participant ever at 14 years old, Macy Causey. Also participating are four stars from the NASCAR Mexico Series: Abraham Calderón, Enrique Contreras, Rubén García Jr. and Santiago Tovar. Returning to defend their spots in the program are current NASCAR Whelen All-American Series drivers Dylan Smith and Natalie Decker. Driver combine participants will be evaluated on their driving skills and will also be tested on a series of strength and agility exercises at Hampton University. Fans can follow the Combine on Twitter at @NASCARDiversity and @RevRacing. Below are invitees to the 12th annual NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine: First Name Last Name Age City State/Country Hannah Adair 21 Tulsa Okla. Jairo Avila 20 Alhambra Calif. Kayli Barker 18 Las Vegas Nev. Nicole Behar 17 Otis Orchards Wash. Abraham Calderon 26 Monterrey Mexico Macy Causey 14 Yorktown Va. Enrique Contreras 22 San Antonio Texas Madeline Crane 17 Meansville Ga. Claire Decker 20 Eagle River Wis. Natalie Decker 18 Eagle River Wis. Juan Garcia 17 Bogota Colombia Ruben Garcia Jr. 19 Mexico City Mexico Ali Kern 22 Fremont Ohio Enrique Limon 17 Mexico City Mexico Mariah McGriff 20 Vail Ariz. Becca Monopoli 26 Lakeland Fla. Erika Newcome 20 Pickerington Ohio Hannah Newhouse 18 Twin Falls Idaho Vanessa Robinson 25 Las Cruces N.M. Dylan Smith 23 Concord N.C. Walter Thomas 16 Indianapolis Ind. Santiago Tovar 22 Mexico City Mexico In addition to drivers, NASCAR Drive for Diversity has successfully identified and developed pit crew members to find employment opportunities within the sport. The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Challenge Tour will host its final Combine of the year at the NASCAR Research and Development Center on October 9, 2015 in Concord, North Carolina.
NASCAR officials will return to Michigan International Speedway on Tuesday, Oct. 20 to test a low downforce package similar to what was used in competition last month at Darlington Raceway . Drivers scheduled to take part in the test are defending NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 25 Chevrolet, current XFINITY Series points leader Chris Buescher ( Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford) and Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup contender Denny Hamlin ( Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota). According to information provided to the teams on Wednesday, the test is to verify max and corner speeds with three different grip levels of tires. The schedule calls for individual 10- and 25-lap runs in the morning and afternoon sessions. The lower downforce package debuted at Kentucky Speedway this season before also being put into play at Darlington, where it featured a 3.5-inch spoiler, 25-inch splitter extension panel (radiator pan) and 6.63-inch by 25-inch splitter. The only change for the MIS test will be an increase in the splitter extension panel to 33 inches. Drivers and teams were pleased with the initial results of the package, particularly at Darlington where Goodyear was able to provide a specific tire based on data gained from testing there prior to the race. The MIS test will take place approximately two months after the Sprint Cup Series competed at the 2-mile facility with a high-drag aerodynamic configuration. A high-drag package was also used at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . JGR driver Matt Kenseth called the high-drag package "terrible." "You just can't pass," he said after finishing seventh in the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard. "Yeah, you can run up on the straightaway a little bit, but you can't run though the corner with anything." A month later, after his driver dominated at Michigan with the same rules package, Kenseth's crew chief Jason Ratcliff said "at the end of the straightaway (cars could) gain on others two or three car-lengths. But they just couldn't do much once they got there and they got down in the corner, they were kind of helpless." The high-drag rules included a 9-inch spoiler with a 1-inch wicker bill, a rear fascia extension panel (similar to those used for superspeedway events at Daytona and Talladega), a 2-inch leading edge on the splitter and a 43-inch splitter extension panel. "We know that high drag package is awful," four-time premier series champion Jeff Gordon said following the Darlington race. "We know that this (lower downforce) is definitely in the right direction. … I think when you look at the less horsepower we had coming in this year it's the package that should have been with this car that we have now. You can't take that kind of power away and not do something significant to the downforce as well." Homestead Test Slated for December NASCAR and Goodyear officials have added a post-season test scheduled for Dec. 14-15 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to continue preparations for the 2016 rules package. Organizations scheduled to participate in the test are Stewart-Haas Racing (Chevrolet), Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet), Richard Petty Motorsports (Ford) and Furniture Row Racing (Toyota). It is expected to be the first on-track testing for Furniture Row and driver Martin Truex Jr . with a Toyota entry. The Denver-based team is making the switch from Chevrolet to Toyota for '16. Because of the change, SHR was added to the test to replace Furniture Row for Chevrolet. "I think '16, we're not really even thinking about right now," Truex said earlier this week. "We know what we're doing next year, we'll worry about that after (the final race at) Homestead. "I think everybody in the Chase is probably in the same position -- you're worried about today and tomorrow and this coming weekend. No further ahead. Once you set your plans, it's real easy." Lineup Change for Atlanta Test The Toyota teams of Michael Waltrip Racing and BK Racing have declined to take part in the Goodyear tire test slated for Oct. 27-28 at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Joe Gibbs Racing has been added to the lineup to represent Toyota teams at the 1.54-mile track. MWR will not field a full-time Sprint Cup Series team next season. The two-day program is a confirmation test for Goodyear; an open team test is scheduled for Oct. 29 following the completion of the tire test. CMS Tire Info Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series teams will be running the same tire codes this weekend at Charlotte, according to Goodyear officials, and is unchanged from what was provided for the 1.5 mile track's May races. The left-side tire code has been used at CMS since 2012; the right side, which features a multi-zone tread, was used there for the first time in May.
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said Thursday that meetings about a potential franchise system for participation in its upper series have already taken place, sparking ongoing talks with its team owners about the direction of stock car racing competition. France made the remarks during an afternoon appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's "Tradin' Paint" program, telling hosts Jim Noble and Chocolate Myers that improving the current framework was crucial to the overall health of the sport. "Any time we can improve the structure for our team owners, that's a good thing," France told SiriusXM. "If we can improve their business model, we can improve their overall structure, then what's going to happen is new owners will be more inclined to look at wanting to participate in NASCAR ; that's a good thing. The other good thing is, the level of competition goes up because the more healthy the team owners are, the better we're going to be. "We're working alongside of all the team owners to see what's possible, and we're going to have to go down the road and keep working at it. That's very important to us." France also discussed the soon-to-be-released schedules for all three NASCAR national series, saying that teams and fans alike should not expect a dramatic overhaul to the 2016 racing calendar. "I can tell you that the schedule is not going to change materially at all," France said. "There are things in the sanction agreements with the tracks that are unrelated to the dates that have to be worked out, and that's really what we're doing now. That's taking a little longer than normal. The schedule will look very similar." With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Myers pressed France for an accelerated release of the 2016 schedules on behalf of Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who has expressed his wishes for a prompt announcement so that he might better plan his wedding to Amy Reimann. "I understand," said France, biting on the joke. "That does take precedence, so we'll make sure to put those dates right in front of him so he knows when they are." France also took time to assess the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after the Challenger Round, the opening three-round series of the postseason. In doing so, France lauded last weekend's clutch victory by Kevin Harvick at Dover International Speedway that kept his repeat title hopes intact. "What you really are seeing is, this is the era of big moments and big performances," France said. "Being consistent and steady, that's important but that's getting pushed to the wayside. It's whoever can step up their performance."
Ray Alfalla ( Slip Angle Motorsports ) punctuated yet another stellar season in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Powered by iRacing by earning his fourth victory of the 2015 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Alfalla, who started a lap down because of technical trouble, sliced through the field in the early going and drove every bit like a driver with nothing to lose. Last Row Motorsports ' Jake Stergios finished second, followed by brother PJ. The Stergios brothers had the cars to beat on the short run, but could not match Alfalla's speed as the laps added-up on their virtual Goodyears. Bryan Blackford was fourth, just edging Chris Overland and mirroring their places in the final standings. Alfalla and Jake Stergios dominated for most of the evening, leading a combined 146 of 167 laps. Stergios was one of the first sim racers to experiment with the high line in Turns One and Two and the change in line brought his car to life. Polesitter Cody Byus ( The TEAM ) had no answer and was passed by Stergios just nine laps in. As halfway approached, Jake still led but PJ had cut the margin and began to plan his move. On Lap 83 PJ drove to the bottom in Turn Three and cleared his brother off of Turn 4. A lap later, a caution stopped the battle and sent the leaders to the pits for tires and fuel. PJ won the race off pit road but his time at the front was short-lived as Jake used the outside lane in Turns Three and Four to regain the lead. However, Alfalla was now within striking distance and began picking his way through the top five. On Lap 112, Alfalla took the lead for the first time and started to pull away, but a caution for Brad Davies ( Drill Aisle ) erased Alfalla's lead and brought the leaders to pit road for the final time. Alfalla won the race off pit road and looked set to drive away to victory, but Jake was strong and stayed right in Alfalla's tire tracks. Stergios gave it a valiant effort, even getting alongside Alfalla at one point, but did not have the speed on the bottom to clear the race leader. He finally burned off his tires and had to settle for second, just over one second behind at the checkers. Kenny Humpe, the 2015 series champion, did not have the result he was hoping for. Although he qualified fourth, Humpe lacked speed in race trim to compete for the win. Still, a strong finish looked possible until his chance to record a twelfth top five of the season ended when he got loose off Turn Two on Lap 44 and pounded the inside wall. Humpe wound up forty-second, dead-last. As Alfalla and Jake Stergios battled for the lead over the last 40 laps, PJ Stergios, Blackford, and Overland were locked in an intense battle for third on track, and third through fifth in the championship. PJ came away with third on both counts, a rather comfortable 19 points ahead of fourth place Blackford. Overland and Blackford fought side-by-side multiple times during the last fuel run, each needing to finish in front of the other to claim the $1,000 fourth place prize. Blackford's long run speed was too much for Overland, who settled for fifth in the championship, a single point behind Blackford, and collected $500 for his efforts. Further back in the standings, Nathan Wise was the last driver to secure his 2016 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series license by finishing twentieth in the standings. He beat Michael J Johnson ( Gale Force Racing ) by seven points despite limping a damaged car home to a thirty-seventh place finish at Homestead. As the sixth NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series comes to a close, the story of the year has to be Humpe's complete dominance through the first three quarters of the season. Though he faded a bit at the end, Humpe's consistency was nothing like this series has ever seen. As he looks to become just the second repeat champion, Alfalla -- already a two timer himself -- looks to be his biggest competition. Nobody was stronger the last few races than Alfalla and he will carry that momentum into the off-season and, he hopes, to the start of 2016. The NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series is off until February, giving drivers and teams some much-needed time off. What does next season have in store? With the NASCAR iRacing Pro Series bringing-in new talent, drivers undoubtedly changing teams, and iRacing build changes, it is always possible that different and unexpected drivers will challenge for wins. However, Humpe and Alfalla will be on their games, and likely ready for any new challengers.
RELATED: No. 78 team penalized for infractions at Dover · The No. 78 team has been penalized for an infraction that occurred during pre-race inspection on Oct. 4. This is a P2 level penalty (Sections 12.1; 20.4b; 20.4.2a; 220.127.116.11.2). Crew chief Cole Pearn has been placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31, 2015.
RELATED: Full results from New Hampshire " Updated standings MORE: See the new Chase Grid LOUDON, N.H. -- Kevin Harvick clarified his championship status on Sunday -- but not the way he had planned. After dominating the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for most of the afternoon, Harvick ran out of fuel while leading on Lap 298 of 300, handing the top spot and the victory to Matt Kenseth , who joined teammate Denny Hamlin as an automatic qualifier for the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Despite leading 216 laps on Sunday, Harvick, the defending series champion, heads to next Sunday's Chase race at Dover almost certainly needing a victory at a track where he has never won in order to escape the Challenger Round of the Chase and keep his title hopes alive. Kenseth, who came to pit road for fuel and tires on Lap 239, triumphed for the fifth time this season (tops in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series), for the second time at the Magic Mile and for the 36th time in his career. He finished 8.941 seconds ahead of Hamlin, who nursed his car to a runner-up finish despite a late-race issue with the right front wheel. "It feels great to win here -- a lot of great race fans here at New Hampshire," Kenseth said. "We had a great car today -- Kevin definitely had the field covered and (Kenseth's crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) did a great job on pit strategy there, and those new tires paid off better than we thought to get up through the field. "And I was able to keep the pressure on enough and he came up a little short." The victory was the 13th of the season for Joe Gibbs Racing , which has won 10 of the last 13 Sprint Cup events. Joey Logano ran third, followed by Greg Biffle , Carl Edwards , Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr . The only non-Chase driver of that group, Biffle posted his third top-five result of the season. Dale Earnhardt Jr . had a consistent top-10 car all afternoon, until he, too, ran short of fuel with two laps left and finished 25th. Earnhardt goes to Dover with no margin for error. He’s 12th in the standings, the final position that will survive elimination next Sunday, and just one point ahead of both Kyle Busch and Paul Menard . Busch blew a right front tire on Sunday, pounded the Turn 3 wall on Lap 159 and was credited with a 37th-place finish. Harvick, who finished 21st and declined comment after the race, came to pit road for the last time on Lap 212 and couldn't squeeze the last 88 laps at the 1.058-mile track out of his fuel cell. Restarting third on Lap 243 after the ninth and final caution (for Justin Allgaier 's wreck in Turn 3), Harvick passed Biffle for the lead on Lap 252. Twenty laps later, Kenseth got past Hamlin for second and tried to pressure Harvick, who left Loudon in 15th place, 23 points behind Earnhardt in 12th. "Jason kept saying he (Harvick) was low on fuel, but you never know unless they really run out," Kenseth said. "I was trying to run hard, but I was trying to save a little bit. I got racing Denny pretty hard, and I wanted to save the tires a little bit, but I also know I needed to get by him to pressure the 4 (Harvick). "That was as hard as I could run. I was planning on running up there and trying to pass him. I just couldn't get there. Kind of resigned to finish second with about four or five (laps) to go there. I couldn't get much closer, and he ran out with a couple to go." Second to Kenseth in the standings, six points out of the Chase lead, Hamlin also acknowledged JGR's good fortune on Sunday. "Really, I don't feel like we were dominant today by any means," Hamlin said. "Yeah, our cars finished 1-2, but I'm not sure that we had 1-2 cars most of the day. "So I think we've been very fortunate with some strategies and things that we've played that's worked out in our favor. You've got to just keep working. That's the only way you can stay on top is to not rest."
RELATED: Race results " Updated standings SPARTA, Ky. – Ryan Blaney would not be denied Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway . In fact, Blaney may owe a pushing Regan Smith dinner after a green-white-checkered restart proved to be the saving grace for the driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang, who won his second NASCAR XFINITY Series win of the season in Saturday night's VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 . Blaney appeared to be heading towards Victory Lane, but an attack from Ty Dillon on a restart with eight laps to go sent him from first to third. Then, a caution waved with four laps remaining and reset the field into overtime. "We were just even with the 3 (Dillon), and the 7 (Smith) gave us a good push [on the final restart]," said Blaney who captured his fourth career XFINITY Series win. "Luckily we were able to get a good [push] and just get a little bit of position on the 3 to kind of use up the race track and get in front of him. I knew once we were clear we had a really good shot at it. "A great Discount Tire Ford Mustang. We were great all night. It was just a matter getting up the front. Clean air was so important." As for the next-to-last restart, which saw Blaney's winning chances temporarily fall, momentum worked against him. "Kentucky is such a great race track because you can see three or four wide racing in the first corner and as the leader you have to protect and I didn't know where the 7 (Smith) was going, he kind of faked me out going to the top and that was able to open up the middle and it just lost all of our momentum," Blaney said. For Dillon, he was frustrated with his runner-up performance. "First of all, I am disappointed for second, and that's a good thing," Dillon said. "I'm proud to be sitting here saying that. Earlier this year, we didn't have that opportunity to say that very often. Man, it hurts when you've got a big lead with four to go - I don't even know what the caution was for - but, that's a stinger." Just before halfway Brennan Poole spun in Turn 1 collecting Harrison Rhodes and spewing liquid from Poole's car putting the field under the red flag for cleanup. The race was halted for 18 minutes and 27 seconds, with the field returning to idle conditions and the race resuming with 95 laps remaining. Brandon Jones grabbed the lead on a busy restart and held it through the next caution. With rain in the area, Jones stayed out, while others pitted. MORE: Poole spins and get slammed When racing resumed, Jones controlled the field for 16 laps until Blaney made the pass to retake the lead on Lap 128 and through green flag pit stops, set the tone for the finish of the final standalone race of the season. Chris Buescher , who finished seventh, now leads Dillon by 19 points in the standings with six races remaining. Chase Elliott , who finished fourth, is third, 25 points out.