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Busch picks up Coors Light Pole Award in search of Brickyard defense
RELATED: Full starting lineup " See the full field SPEEDWAY, Ind. – A sweep at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is nothing new to Kyle Busch. But this year, he started early. With a lap at 184.634 mph (48.745 seconds) in the final round of Saturday's knockout qualifying, Busch claimed the pole position for Sunday’s Crown Royal 400 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Earlier in the day, the driver who swept both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races at Indy last year earned the pole award ahead of the heat races prior to Saturday afternoon’s Lilly Diabetes 250 XFINITY race. But the Sprint Cup pole that completed the Saturday sweep was special, because it was the first for Busch at the vaunted Brickyard. "I haven't been great at qualifying here, but the guys gave me a great piece this time around, and I'm real pumped about that," said Busch, who claimed his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season and the 19th of his career. "We're starting first in both of these (races), and hopefully we can end that way. "It means a lot (to win the pole). It's definitely pretty special to be running the way that we're running and to have the success that we've had here the last couple of years at Indy, and I’d love nothing more than to try to win here again." Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was .023 seconds faster than the No. 19 of teammate Carl Edwards (184.547 mph). "I was happy with my lap," Edwards said. "I was surprised Kyle got me. That was a good lap for him – I mean, that was a good lap that he ran because I felt like my lap was pretty good – but, yeah, it's frustrating right now to be second because it's so close, and the pole position is obviously huge here. "But by tomorrow, the race gets started and I think I'll be pretty happy with that starting spot, so just good job by all my guys." Making his last appearance at Indy as a Sprint Cup Series driver, Tony Stewart earned the third starting spot with a lap at 184.328 mph and knew exactly where he had lost critical speed. "I just wish I could do lap three (final round) one more time and not clip the apron in (Turn) 4," Stewart said. "I think we could have been on the pole." RELATED: Stewart discusses his qualifying effort Denny Hamlin qualified fourth, giving JGR three of the top four spots. Brad Keselowski in fifth has the top Ford. Ryan Newman , Kevin Harvick , Martin Truex Jr. , Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson will start from positions six through 10, respectively. The time trials were a disappointment for the Hendrick Motorsports drivers, who failed to place a car in the top 12. Jimmie Johnson ran the fastest lap of the day in the first of three rounds, touring the 2.5-mile speedway in 48.435 seconds (185.816 mph). But the six-time series champion failed to advance beyond the second round, losing the 12th and final position to Kurt Busch by .008 seconds. Johnson will start 13th, Chase Elliott 15th and Jeff Gordon , subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. , who is out with concussion-like symptoms, claimed the 21st spot on the grid. "I felt really comfortable right there," said Gordon, who was 15th fastest in the first round. "I feel like today I’m much calmer than I was yesterday (in practice). Usually, my heart is beating more for qualifying than it is for practice, but that wasn't the case. "So, today I feel more relaxed and comfortable in the car. I hope to feel the same way tomorrow. Tomorrow's challenge is going to be being around traffic, and also trying to get the balance of the car right and do that when you're by yourself as well as when you're around other cars." Josh Wise failed to make the 40-car field. </p>
Luke Wilson named Sonoma Sprint Cup Series pace car driver
Perhaps inspired by Darlington Raceway 's successful throwback program, Sonoma Raceway is going to be bringing a little bit of old school to its race weekend later this month. Actor Luke Wilson -- predominantly of "Old School" fame -- will drive a 2016 Toyota Camry pace car to kick off the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday, June 26. Wilson is also known for his comedic roles in films including "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," "Legally Blonde," "Idiocracy," "Rushmore" and "The Royal Tenenbaums." The Texas native currently stars in Showtime’s new series "Roadies," which also premieres on June 26. The show follows the lives of a tight-knit group of rock-n roll-roadies working on the tour for a famous rock band. The show marks the first television series created by renowned film director Cameron Crowe ("Almost Famous") and his partnership with J.J. Abrams ("Lost", "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" ) , who is executive producer. "I feel incredibly honored to be asked to lead the field of cars to the green," said Wilson in a track release. "I have never done anything like this before and I'm really excited to start off the race at the Toyota/Save Mart 350 ." This will mark the first time Wilson has served as an Official Pace Car Driver at a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. He will also be recognized during pre-race ceremonies and greet each NASCAR driver on stage during driver introductions. With Wilson on board, Sonoma is shaping up to be a nice little Sunday. Maybe after the race you can go to Lowe's. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath & Beyond. I don't know. I don't know if you'll have enough time.
Burton nets sponsor, seat for Brickyard, Richmond
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 12, 2016) -- Biagi-DenBeste Racing announced a partnership with Jeb Burton and Estes Express Lines, a full-service freight transportation provider, for two NASCAR XFINITY Series races in the 2016 season. Burton will pilot the No. 98 Estes Ford at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 23 and Richmond International Raceway September 9. This partnership will mark the second time Burton has driven the No. 98 Ford. He piloted the No. 98 Ford to a 15th-place finish at Charlotte in 2014. Most recently, Burton competed in 11 NASCAR XFINITY Series races with Richard Petty Motorsports where he scored one Top-10 and four Top-15 finishes. Burton will make his track debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and compete for the fourth time at Richmond International Raceway. "I'm really excited to get back on the track in the XFINITY Series with Biagi-DenBeste Racing," said Burton. "They've shown they have fast cars and just scored a big win at Daytona," said Burton. "I'm thrilled to again partner with Estes. They are a great company and have been big supporters of my career." Estes Express Lines is a full-service freight transportation provider, headquartered in Burton's home state of Virginia. The Richmond-based company has previously partnered with Burton in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Camping World Truck Series . Estes President and CEO Rob Estes weighed in on the sponsorship. "We're proud of our association with this Virginia native who has gone on to gain national recognition. It's exciting to once again support him as he takes to the track in the No. 98 Estes Ford in Indianapolis and Richmond. We want to thank our vendors who helped make sponsoring these two races a reality. The Estes team is very excited to be part of the 2016 season, and our 16,000 employees nationwide will definitely be rooting for him." Burton will hit the track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Lilly Diabetes 250 July 23 live on NBCSN.
Kyle Busch dominates New Hampshire to snag sixth win of 2016
RELATED: Results " Standings LOUDON, N.H. -- Another NASCAR XFINITY Series race, another set of milestones for Kyle Busch. Leading 190 of 200 laps in Saturday's AutoLotto 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Busch held off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones in the closing laps to claim his 82nd career victory, extending his own series record. In the process, Busch raised his total of XFINITY laps led to 17,064, once again extending his own record. Busch won for the fifth time in 11 races at the Magic Mile and the sixth time in 10 starts this season. "I guess they're big numbers," said Busch, who ran the entire race on one set of left-side tires and arrived at the finish line 1.499 seconds ahead of Jones, who had taken four tires on his final pit stop under caution on Lap 178. "I really don't know what big numbers are, and records are made to be broken. "There may be somebody like me that comes along down the road that does the same thing that I've been fortunate enough to do … Running in this series is something fun for me to do, cool for me to do, and it also helps me out and gets me a little more experience." Brad Keselowski ran third but didn't have an answer for the top two JGR cars. Daniel Suarez came home fourth, followed by Austin Dillon . "We had a decent day," Keselowski said. "A little better than where we have been, which was something to be proud of, but of course we want to get to Victory Lane with the (No. 22 Team Penske) Ford. We aren't quite there, but we'll keep pushing. "That was a step in the right direction overall for sure." Busch may have been dominant up front, but there were compelling subplots behind him, the most noteworthy between Ty Dillon and Alex Bowman . Bowman, who will sub for ailing Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, turned left into Dillon's No. 3 Chevrolet off Turn 2 on Lap 76, sending Dillon's car into the outside wall. Dillon was convinced Bowman wrecked him on purpose. Bowman asserted his car was forced wide, and the contact was unintentional. Dillon returned to action 55 laps down after repairs in the garage and twice tried to impede Bowman's progress on the track. "He tried to wreck me about four times after (the accident)," Bowman said after the race. "I don't blame him for being upset. He has every right to be upset… "He drove me way up the race track (right before the contact). He obviously got tight underneath me. I had a ton of wheel in it, and it finally caught. I barely came off the wall. You come off the wall six inches and you tag somebody in the right rear. I hate that for the 3 car, but I definitely didn't do it intentionally. He can think what he wants." Bowman was able to continue despite damage to the left front of his No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet and posted an eighth-place finish. Dillon, on the other hand, was scored 33rd and held third place in the XFINITY standings but fell to 48 points behind Suarez, who also expanded his series lead to 15 points over second-place Elliott Sadler , who ran 10th on Saturday.
Drivers look for clarity after Truex's pit-road passing penalty
SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- When Martin Truex Jr. was penalized for a pit-road infraction during Saturday night's Quaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway, the penalty cost him a shot at the lead and a possible victory. The penalty, for passing a car or cars on the left when on pit road, is often referred to as "pulling up to pit" and is made by NASCAR officials in the control tower. According to the post-race infraction report, the infraction on Truex was called a "safety violation" for passing on entry to pit road. It's not one of the more common infractions among NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. According to pit road statistics, Truex was the third driver in the series flagged for the infraction this season. Records show it was called only three times in the series in 2015. "I understand that it’s always been a rule, you can't pass to the left coming into the pits," 2003 series champion Matt Kenseth said Tuesday during a break in testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "You can (pass) leaving them … (that) has always been my understanding of it. I think it's always tough. Personally, I haven't seen it. … but it's just something that they haven't really called, either very much or not at all, in years and years and years. "I think it's one of those things that, probably the letter of the law … again I haven't seen it, but if you pass to the left, it's technically against the rules; it's just one that they haven't called in a long time." Truex was running second to race leader Harvick when the field pitted under the final caution flag of the race at Lap 195 of the 267-lap race. As the field made its way down pit road, Truex pulled to the inside of Harvick's Stewart-Haas Racing entry and shot forward into his pit box. After taking right-side tires and fuel, Truex was first off pit road in his No. 78 Toyota. After returning to pit road to serve the penalty, Truex restarted 22nd and made it back to 10th by the end of the race. "I think everyone knows, or think they know, the rules there," Kenseth said. "It's just that there's something not being called and you're trying to get every advantage you can and the cars are all so incredibly close to the same speed right now and the rules are so tight. Pit road is as competitive as the race track; you're always trying to get any advantage you can with speed lines or what have you." Kenseth said the size of the track likely often plays a role in the maneuver as well, with shorter venues being where drivers are more likely to try and gain an advantage. "There are some places where there have been some pretty questionable situations … like a Martinsville or somewhere like that," he said. "You've got a speed line, people pull left and pass five cars coming to their pit stall. Places like that, they probably need to get it calmed down. "Now when you have places like Kentucky … typically when you're pulling into your pit stall you just gas it up, pull in there and stop. You really don't think much of it. I didn't really think that's a track where typically you see that." Earlier this week, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that in addition to the rulebook stating it is illegal to pass to the left when pitting, the matter is "brought up in every drivers' meeting. "Has there been some driver pulling off just as they pull into their pits that kind of pull up alongside a car? Sure that's happened," he said. O’Donnell said officials saw a "trend that's getting bigger and bigger." Richard Childress Racing driver Paul Menard said the location of the pit box allowed Truex to accelerate once he passed the first of two timing lines in his section. "He had a really good pit box where he could really accelerate hard," Menard, who was also among the 12 drivers testing at Indy, said. "At some of these tracks you can't be as aggressive as that. I was surprised at the penalty for sure. I always thought you couldn't pull up … on the access road before you get to the commitment line, that's kind of what we're always told every week. But as far as on pit road, if you're within your timing lines and you're not speeding, I always thought that was fair game so I guess we need some clarification on that." &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Tony Stewart Chase Watch
RELATED: Full New Hampshire results " Standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Stewart gear Tony Stewart returned from a back injury in April and the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion is in pursuit of one of the 16 spots in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in his final season. Here's a look at where the driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet stands in his hunt after Sunday's runner-up finish in the New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the season's 19th of 26 regular-season races. WHAT JUST HAPPENED The three-time champion followed a top-five finish at Kentucky with a runner-up in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet at New Hampshire, Stewart's second-best showing of the season. That moved Stewart into 28th place in the drivers point standings. With a win locked up at Sonoma, inside the top 30 is where Stewart needs to be in order to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. As it stands now, he's in the provisional Chase Grid. He leads 29th-place Landon Cassill by three points and 31st-place driver Brian Scott by 67 points. WHAT HE NEEDS Stewart received a waiver from NASCAR for Chase eligibility. The surest way into the Chase is by winning before the end of regular season (at Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 10) -- which Stewart did at Sonoma -- and remain in the top 30 in the points standings. En route to his 2015 championship, Kyle Busch faced a similar path after missing the first 11 races with a leg injury. With the win in the bank, Stewart can focus on remaining in the top 30. He sits 28th in the standings with 287 points. He is six points beind Casey Mears , who sits at 27th place in the standings. WHAT'S NEXT "Smoke" heads to his hometrack of Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 24 at 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), where he has two victories. In his 17 starts there, Stewart has seven top fives and 11 top 10s. &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Dale Earnhardt Jr. injury timeline
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway after experiencing concussion-like symptoms that forced him to sit out at New Hampshire. Follow the driver's wrecks, injuries and recovery through the timeline of events below.
Team Penske: Back-to-back babies to go along with wins
RELATED: Where does 2 crew stack up midseason? Team Penske's No. 2 crew members had double the reason to celebrate Brad Keselowski 's back-to-back victories at Daytona and Kentucky in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series . That's because jackman Braxton Brannon and gasman Nick Hensley both added to their families during the joyous past two weeks. Anyone who has ever been involved in the waiting process understands the stress of having a baby. The due dates were only three days apart and both guys had been on wait for the past two weeks. But the babies arrived safely on opposite ends of the Kentucky weekend and the crew members didn't miss a beat. For the Brannon family it was their first child. They welcomed a baby girl on July 7. For the Hensley family, they welcomed their second boy on July 11. "It was a tough decision to go to that race while they were still in the hospital," Brannon said. "Caroline told me to go and I think it was the right decision. Caroline is doing great now and the baby." Hensley echoed his feeling of relief. "I knew the next two races (after Sonoma) were Saturday night races, and close enough to home that Team Penske would do everything they could to get me home in a hurry if something happened," Hensley said. "I was more nervous for Braxton, this was my second child and I had stayed home from the Talladega race in 2014 for the birth of my first child, and I didn't want him to miss that special moment with his family." So three weeks ago the No. 2 crew had two wins on the season and a total of one kid between the six over-the-wall guys. Now, two weeks later, the team has two more wins and two more family members. For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com .
Nationwide Series pit stall assignments
See where drivers will pit for the Ford EcoBoost 300 (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today The NASCAR Nationwide Series pit stall assignments are out for Saturday's Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Coors Light Pole Award winner Brad Keselowski chose the first pit stall off pit road with an empty space in front of him for an easy departure. Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney , Kyle Busch and Brendan Gaughan also have open stalls in front of them. Chase Elliott, who clinched the 2014 series title last week, chose the first pit stall onto pit road for an easy entrance. The Nationwide Series will take the track at 4:30 p.m. ET with TV coverage on ESPN2. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Harvick wins Nationwide Series race at Atlanta
JR Motorsports shows strength in all three cars RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings HAMPTON, Ga. -- No wonder they call Kevin Harvick the "Closer." From the moment Harvick's No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet took the lead from polesitter Chase Elliott on Lap 37, Saturday night's Great Clips 300 to benefit Feed The Children at Atlanta Motor Speedway was an open-and-shut case. In posting his third NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season and the 43rd of his career, Harvick led the last 159 laps and finished 0.567 seconds ahead of runner-up Joey Logano . "This thing was bad fast from the drop of the green flag," Harvick said after finishing off a spectacular victory burnout and exiting the car. "This is just one of those race tracks where I like the challenge of everything you get to do here." The only factors preventing Harvick from lapping the field -- or so it seemed -- were a pair of debris cautions, the first of which erased a four-second lead after Harvick had paced the field from Laps 37 through 72. The second caution flag, which flew on Lap 120, wiped out a Harvick advantage that was close to seven seconds. A light rain extended that second caution to 13 laps, but after a restart on Lap 134, it was more of the same. Harvick quickly pulled out to a lead of more than four seconds before a cycle of green-flag pit stops trimmed his advantage to two seconds over Logano, the only driver able to keep pace with Harvick throughout the closing laps. Kyle Larson ran third, followed by Kyle Busch and Elliott, who extended his series lead to 15 points over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith , who finished sixth. Logano's car came to life in the closing laps but not soon enough for him to catch Harvick. "I took off that last run and started to catch Kevin a little bit and then started to get too tight," Logano said. "He started driving away a little bit, and then the last six or seven laps, all of a sudden the light switch turned on and I started catching him. "I just ran out of time. I wish there were five or seven more laps, and I could have got to him and tried to do something with him. We were catching him two or three tenths (of a second) a lap there at the end and having some fun with it, but it was too little, too late." In Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series time trials, Harvick won the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday's Oral-B USA 500 at the 1.54-mile speedway. Though there are vast differences in the behavior of NNS versus Cup cars, Harvick's ability to run the bottom at Atlanta might be an indication of good things to come on Sunday. "I'm really happy with our car," Harvick said. "It's been good in every practice and obviously qualified well. You just have to have it all go your way. These races are hard to win, so we'll just enjoy this one tonight and go from there." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceVie FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule