Breaking down the numbers ahead of the season-opening race Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.-- Below is a statistical look at some of the top performers at Daytona International Speedway, including both the Daytona 500 and the annual July race. Daytona International Speedway Data Race #: 1 of 36 (2-22-15) Track Size : 2.5 miles Race Length: 500 miles (200 laps) Banking/Corners : 31 degrees Banking/Straights : 3 degrees Banking/Tri-Oval : 18 degrees Top 10 Driver Ratings at Daytona Kyle Busch 96.2 Matt Kenseth 91.6 Kurt Busch 90.5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 90.3 Tony Stewart 87.9 Jeff Gordon 87.1 Jimmie Johnson 87.0 Denny Hamlin 86.4 Clint Bowyer 83.7 Joey Logano 82.5 Note: Driver Ratings are compiled from 2005-2014 races (18 total) at Daytona (active drivers only). Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Austin Dillon (196.019 mph, 45.914 seconds) 2014 race winner : Dale Earnhardt Jr. (145.290 mph , 2-23-14) Qualifying record : Bill Elliott (210.364 mph, 42.783 secs. 2-9-87) Race record : Buddy Baker (177.602 mph, 2-17-80) Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota) · Three top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 15.9 · Driver Rating of 83.7, ninth-best · 78 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.828 mph, second-fastest Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · 11 top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 17.5 · Average Running Position of 15.8, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 90.5, third-best · 3,864 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · 2,161 Laps in the Top 15 (60.9%), fifth-most · 2,724 Quality Passes, third-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Crispy Toyota) · One win, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 19.1 · Series-best Average Running Position of 12.8 · Series-best Driver Rating of 96.2 · 85 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.827 mph, third-fastest · Series-high 2,488 Laps in the Top 15 (70.1%) · Series-high 2,869 Quality Passes Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) · Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.4 · Average Running Position of 14.6, third-best · Driver Rating of 90.3, fourth-best · Series-high 87 Fastest Laps Run · 4,108 Green Flag Passes, second-most · 2,279 Laps in the Top 15 (64.2%), second-most · 2,772 Quality Passes, second-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet) · Six wins, 13 top fives, 20 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 16.2 · Average Running Position of 14.8, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 87.1, sixth-best · 3,818 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · 2,074 Laps in the Top 15 (58.4%), sixth-most · 2,407 Quality Passes, ninth-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) · Three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 19.6 · Average Running Position of 15.8, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 86.4, eighth-best · 81 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.765 mph, sixth-fastest · 1,703 Laps in the Top 15 (53.5%), 12th-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Three wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 18.0 · Average Running Position of 14.9, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 87.0, seventh-best · 2,214 Laps in the Top 15 (62.4%), fourth-most · 2,425 Quality Passes, eighth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet) · Two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 19.9 · Average Running Position of 17.0, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 82.2, 12th-best · 71 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · 4,093 Green Flag Passes, third-most · 1,818 Laps in the Top 15 (51.2%), 10th-most · 2,446 Quality Passes, seventh-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Two wins, six top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.2 · Average Running Position of 14.4, second-best · Driver Rating of 91.6, second-best · 78 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 2,247 Laps in the Top 15 (63.3%), third-most · 2,473 Quality Passes, sixth-most Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Two top fives, three top 10s · Average finish of 19.8 · Average Running Position of 17.5, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 82.5, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.750 mph, seventh-fastest Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) · Four wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.8 · Average Running Position of 17.4, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 87.9, fifth-best · 76 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 1,917 Laps in the Top 15 (54.0%), seventh-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final 2014 Top 16 at Daytona International Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 27 1 2 6 11 3 16.7 79.9 2 Ryan Newman 26 0 1 4 6 5 20.3 79.6 3 Denny Hamlin 18 0 0 3 4 1 19.6 86.4 4 Joey Logano 12 0 0 2 3 2 19.8 82.5 5 Brad Keselowski 11 0 0 2 3 3 20.0 75.4 6 Jeff Gordon 44 3 6 13 20 6 16.2 87.1 7 Matt Kenseth 30 1 2 6 14 5 17.2 91.6 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 30 1 3 11 17 3 13.4 90.3 9 Carl Edwards 20 1 0 4 8 2 19.1 79.8 10 Kyle Busch 20 1 1 5 6 5 19.1 96.2 11 Jimmie Johnson 26 2 3 9 12 6 18.0 87.0 12 Kurt Busch 28 0 0 11 14 1 17.5 90.5 13 AJ Allmendinger 11 0 0 1 2 2 26.3 61.1 14 Greg Biffle 24 1 1 3 7 3 19.6 81.3 15 Kasey Kahne 22 0 0 2 7 5 19.9 82.2 16 Aric Almirola 7 0 1 1 1 3 24.7 72.9 Note: Driver Rating from races at Daytona International Speedway from 2005-2014. Daytona 500 Tidbits · The 2015 edition will be the 57th running of the Daytona 500. · Although the first Daytona 500 was held in 1959, it has been the season-opener only since 1982. · 530 drivers have competed in at least one Daytona 500; 314 in more than one. · 35 drivers have won a Daytona 500. · Youngest Daytona 500 winner: Trevor Bayne (02/20/2011 - 20 years, 0 months, 1 days) · Oldest Daytona 500 winner: Bobby Allison (02/14/1988 - 50 years, 2 months, 11 days) · 11 drivers have won more than one Daytona 500, led by Richard Petty with seven victories. · The 11 drivers who have won the Daytona 500 more than once: Richard Petty (seven), Cale Yarborough (four), Bobby Allison (three), Dale Jarrett (three), Jeff Gordon (three), Bill Elliott (two), Matt Kenseth (two), Jimmie Johnson (two), Sterling Marlin (two), Michael Waltrip (two) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (two). · A driver has won back-to-back Daytona 500s three times. Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95). · Seven drivers posted their career-first victory with a win in the Daytona 500: Tiny Lund (1963), Mario Andretti (1967), Pete Hamilton (1970), Derrike Cope (1990), Sterling Marlin (1994), Michael Waltrip (2001) and Trevor Bayne (2011). · Three other drivers posted their career-first victory in (points-paying) qualifying races: Johnny Rutherford (1963), Bobby Isaac (1964) and Earl Balmer (1966). · Lee Petty, who won the inaugural Daytona 500, and Trevor Bayne, 2011 Daytona 500 champion, are the only two drivers to win the Daytona 500 in their first appearance. · Active Daytona 500 winners and the number of NSCS starts in their careers when they won: o Jeff Gordon won his first Daytona 500 on his 125 th career start (1997). His second Daytona 500 win was on his 190 th career start (1999) and the third Daytona 500 was on his 402 nd career start (2005). o Jimmie Johnson won his first on his 148 th (2006) start and posted his second Daytona 500 win on his 400 th career start (2013). o Matt Kenseth won his first on his 329 th start (2009) and his second Daytona 500 on his 437 th career start (2012). o Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his first Daytona 500 on 148 th start (2004) and his second on his 506 th (2014). o Kevin Harvick posted his Daytona 500 win on his 215 th career start (2007). o Ryan Newman posted his Daytona 500 win on his 225 th career start (2008). o Jamie McMurray posted his Daytona 500 win on his 259 th career start (2011). o Michael Waltrip won his first on his 463 rd start (2001) and posted his second Daytona 500 win on his 535 th career start (2003). · Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes in the Daytona 500 with five; Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers with four (Earnhardt Jr. is tied with NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough for second all-time with four). · Dale Earnhardt had 12 top fives in his 23 Daytona 500 starts, more than any other driver. Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers in Daytona 500 top-five finishes with seven (eighth most all-time). · Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty each posted a series leading 16 top 10s in the Daytona 500. · Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip lead all active drivers in Daytona 500 top-10 finishes with nine. · Only 10 drivers have an average finish of 10th or better in the Daytona 500, five of those competed in the Daytona 500 only once. · Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a 12.7 average finish in 15 appearances, the best of the active drivers who have competed in more than one Daytona 500. · 28 of the 35 drivers, who have won, participated in at least two Daytona 500s before visiting Victory Lane. · Six drivers made 10 or more attempts before their first Daytona 500 victory: Dale Earnhardt (19), Buddy Baker (18), Darrell Waltrip (16), Bobby Allison (14), Michael Waltrip (14) and Sterling Marlin (12). · The driver with the all-time most Daytona 500 starts without a victory is Dave Marcis with 33 races; the active drivers with the most starts without a Daytona 500 win is Joe Nemechek (19) and Tony Stewart (16). · Kevin Harvick’s 0.020-second margin of victory over Mark Martin in the 2007 Daytona 500 is the 12th-closest overall since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993, and the closest in a Daytona 500. · Nine of the 56 Daytona 500s (16.3%) have been won from the Coors Light pole. The last to do so was Dale Jarrett in 2000. Jeff Gordon is the only active driver to accomplish the feat (1999). · Cale Yarborough (1968, 1984) and Bill Elliott (1985, 1987) are the only two drivers to win the Daytona 500 from the Coors Light pole more than once. · 16 of the 56 Daytona 500s (28.5%) have been won from the front row. · 27 of the 56 Daytona 500s (48.2%) have been won from a top-five starting position. · 41 of the 56 Daytona 500s (73.2%) have been won from a top 10 starting position · Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 from the 39th starting position in 2009, the deepest a race winner has started. · Five reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions have gone on to win the Daytona 500 the following season: Lee Petty (1959), Richard Petty (1973), Cale Yarborough (1977), Jeff Gordon (1999) and Dale Jarrett (2000). · Five drivers have won the Daytona 500 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in the same season, Richard Petty has done it four times: Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2013), Jeff Gordon (1997), Richard Petty (1964, 1971, 1974, 1979), Cale Yarborough (1977) and Lee Petty (1959). · Danica Patrick on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2013 became the first female in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history to win a Coors Light pole for the Daytona 500 posting a speed of 196.434 mph. · Janet Guthrie previously held the record for top starting position by a female NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, starting ninth twice in 1977 - at Talladega Superspeedway on Aug. 7, 1977 and at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 28, 1977. · In 2012, Danica Patrick became the third female driver to compete in a Daytona 500 joining Janet Guthrie and Shawna Robinson. Below are the previous female driver performances in the Daytona 500. Race Season Driver Start Finish Daytona 500 1977 Janet Guthrie 39 12 Daytona 500 1980 Janet Guthrie 18 11 Daytona 500 2002 Shawna Robinson 36 24 Daytona 500 2012 Danica Patrick 29 38 Daytona 500 2013 Danica Patrick 1 8 Daytona 500 2014 Danica Patrick 27 40 · Driver Ratings for Winners – Pre-Race Daytona 500 Driver Ratings heading into 2014 for past Daytona 500 winners (past 7 years) Driver – Year – Driver Rating o Dale Earnhardt Jr – 2014 – 89.7 o Jimmie Johnson – 2013 – 82.8 o Matt Kenseth – 2012 – 89.0 o Trevor Bayne – 2011 – 68.9 o Jamie McMurray – 2010 – 80.2 o Matt Kenseth – 2009 – 89.0 o Ryan Newman – 2008 – 82.9 o Kevin Harvick – 2007 – 86.3 o Jimmie Johnson – 2006 – 87.5 · Drivers who have won the Daytona 500 in more than one car manufacturer: Driver – Manufacturer (Number of wins in that manufacturer) o Richard Petty – Plymouth (3), Dodge (2), Oldsmobile (1) and Buick (1) o Cale Yarborough – Chevrolet (2), Mercury (1) and Pontiac (1) o Bobby Allison – Buick (2) and Ford (1) o Dale Jarrett – Ford (2) and Chevrolet (1) · Drivers who have won The Sprint Unlimited and the Daytona 500 in the same season: Driver – (Year) o Bobby Allison (1982) o Bill Elliott (1987) o Dale Jarrett (1996 and 2000) o Jeff Gordon (1997) Car Numbers that have produced three or more Daytona 500 victories: Car Number – Drivers – (Years) o No. 43 – Richard Petty (1964, ’66, ’71, ’73, ’74, ’79, ‘81) o No. 21 – Tiny Lund (1963), Cale Yarborough (1968), A.J. Foyt (1972), David Pearson (1976) and Trevor Bayne (2011) o No. 28 – Fred Lorenzen (1965), Buddy Baker (1980), Cale Yarborough (1983 and 1984) and Davey Allison (1992) o No. 4 – Ernie Irvan (1991), Sterling Marlin (1994 and 1995) o No. 15 – Bobby Allison (1978), Michael Waltrip (2001 and 2003) o No. 17 – Darrell Waltrip (1989), Matt Kenseth (2009 and 2012) o No. 88 – Bobby Allison (1982), Dale Jarrett (1996 and 2000) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2014) o No. 24 – Jeff Gordon (1997, 1999 and 2005) At Daytona International Speedway History · Groundbreaking for Daytona International Speedway was Nov. 25, 1957. The soil underneath the banked corners was dug from the infield of the track and the hole filled with water. It is now known as Lake Lloyd. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona was a 100-mile qualifying race for
Pittsboro, Indiana welcomes emotional four-time NASCAR champion PHOTOS: Hometown honors Gordon with parade PITTSBORO, Ind. -- There's a sign on the Subway storefront proclaiming "Chicken Salad is Back" and the Cork & Cap package liquor establishment is nearby. Across the street, there's the Dollar General with the sign "You Make Us Proud Jeff" out front. Next door is the Pittsboro Veterinary Clinic and Big Tuck's Feed & More sits on the corner of Main and Maple Streets. A single traffic light is all that's required in this tiny town of 3,000 residents. A helicopter buzzes overhead as hundreds of folks crane their necks, looking down the street. It's high noon and the parade has begun. Jeff Gordon , five times a winner of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a four-time NASCAR champion, is being honored here. The town's most popular son, by way of California, has come home. RELATED: Photos, recaps of Gordon's 21 Brickyard 400s The Hendrick Motorsports driver is winding up an incredible career in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, and this weekend's Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM) will be his last at the legendary facility as a driver. His 92 career wins is most among active drivers and third on NASCAR's all-time win list. At season's end, he'll be Jeff Gordon the racer no more. The procession slowly makes its way down Main Street, led by a Pittsboro Police Department cruiser. Members of the Tri-West Marching Band are close behind, with a Boy Scout troop, members representing American Legion Post 426, various dignitaries, Little League players, soccer players (state finalists, the banner proclaims), representatives from IMS and state officials parade past the crowd. Eventually, the white Chevrolet convertible eases down the street, with Gordon seated in back, smiling and waving to the crowd. Less than 20 minutes after it starts, the parade ends. But Jeff Gordon Day in Pittsboro is only beginning. • • • Fans are seen carrying die-casts, pieces of sheet metal and one even has a racing tire in tow. Most here at Scamahorn Park have their attention turned to the stage, where various dignitaries are speaking on behalf of Gordon. It's Jeff Gordon Day "not just here in Pittsboro," Indiana Gov. Mike Pence tells the crowd, "but ... I declare (it) in all 92 counties." Pence presents Gordon with the Sagamore of the Wabash award, the highest honorary award given by the state. There were proclamations, plaques and a badge -- Gordon is now an honorary member of the Pittsboro Police Dept. -- as well. "My parents had a lot of reasons why we came here," Gordon told the crowd, "but racing was a big, big part of it; maybe the primary reason. "But they found this nice home ... in Pittsboro. They wanted to be here. They found that home, and we lived there for a very long time and just loved being here in Indiana. I've got some of my best friends that I've ever had in life that I still stay in touch with that are still living here in Pittsboro or right around here." Gordon was honored. He was also emotional. "This to me today has been one of the best days of my life," he said as the crowd cheered. "I say that sincerely ... because I get to see what Pittsboro not only meant to me but what it means to you guys. And it's an awesome town and the way you guys came out and supported me and what I've done in racing, what the Brickyard has meant to me and what this town has meant to me ... thank you guys, this means the world to me, it really does." • • • They could have lived anywhere. In fact, Pittsboro wasn't the first stop for Gordon and his parents, John and Carol Bickford, when the family looked to move from Vallejo, California. "In 1985 when we came back to race (in the Midwest), we lived in Findlay, Ohio," John Bickford said. "We knew a guy in quarter midget racing that lived in Findlay ... He said, 'Hey you can work out of my shop if you want, I've got an apartment here with two rooms I don't use, you can stay in here this summer.' So we lived in Findlay, Ohio for the summer of '85." But Findlay proved too problematic. It wasn't centrally located, it wasn't close to those that built Gordon's sprint cars and it wasn't close to the tracks where he competed each weekend. If one were to draw a line at a 45-degree angle or so, beginning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the line heading northwest would go through Brownsburg, Pittsboro, Lizton (where Gordon attended Tri-West High School) and eventually Jamestown. Pittsboro was perfect. "It was close to the car manufacturers, close to the people we know, close to the school he's got to go to," Bickford said. "We've got a piece of property that's five acres so we can build a shop with no restrictions. ... So all the boxes were checked." It made perfect sense to Gordon, who said he was "100 percent all in" for the move. His racing career "really only became a serious reality because of Lee Osborne out in Jamestown who built our first sprint car," Gordon said. "And also the Stanley family that lived out in Brownsburg and used to build my quarter midgets, that are now building my kids' quarter midgets. "Those two families really were responsible for us first coming to Indiana and recognizing that we needed to be here if we wanted to take racing seriously." • • • Northwest of the famed speedway, out past Clermont and Brownsburg, the cornstalks are tall and green. Just down County Road 100, the brick ranch sits back off the highway. "It picks up quite a bit when the race is in town," Michael Lang says. Folks stop by, unannounced and uninvited, but Lang says he's used to it. Jeff Gordon grew up here. Raced out of here. Laid the foundation for his legacy here. The race shop out back is now home of Fluid Transfer Products, a company that Lang says "builds hoses and fittings" and similar products. He and his wife, Sherry, have been the owners of home and business here since 2000. Before that, Lang raced. He won seven consecutive Midget titles at Indianapolis Speedrome. He raced with and against Gordon, Tony Stewart and a host of others. "Just about anybody that's been down there and tried to run, maybe not in the last 10 years, but a little longer, I raced against them. Raced against them all," Lang says. Eventually, his car owner began to scale back and Lang "took a year and a half off. "I came back, ran an indoor show, won the race and then got bit (by the racing bug) again. But then we had some problems and I thought 'this is exactly why I got out before.' "I had young kids at the time, had just moved in here. I had a good run, won 76 midget races and had a lot of fun. I had ambitions just like anyone, but unfortunately didn't have the money." He had already decided to move away from the city -- he previously lived near the speedway -- when "I picked the USAC newsletter up one day," he says. "And there was an ad for this place." • • • "You have no idea how deep here it goes for us," Gordon says. "We're very proud to call Pittsboro our home. "I tell everybody it really started here in Pittsboro and I would never be where I am today if it weren't for Pittsboro, this town and what it meant to me." The two-lane road leads past the fields of corn and across the railroad tracks. Up ahead, the highway sign indicates the end of Mitchell Avenue and the start of Wall Street. A turn, out of Pittsboro, leads back to the Interstate. The name of the road is fitting -- Jeff Gordon Boulevard. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Bobby Pierce finishes second in first Truck Series start RELATED: Complete race results ROSSBURG, Ohio -- The pit crew swarmed the truck; the driver climbed out and threw his hands high into the night air; the owner ran around screaming and handing out hugs. In the background of this scene, as fireworks exploded over Eldora Speedway's half-mile dirt oval, race winner Christopher Bell turned victory donuts that sent plumes of dust skyward. The fact that Bobby Pierce finished second didn't dampen the celebration on pit road. In fact, it heightened it. In his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut, Pierce chased Bell all over the track in a thrilling conclusion to the third annual event at the Tony Stewart -owned facility in western Ohio. He did so in a battered No. 63 MB Motorsports Chevrolet that, by the end, looked like something from a nearby junkyard. The decklid was drooping, the back right fender was covered in dents and discoloration and tiny chunks of the body were scattered somewhere along the hard clay. "I knew these trucks could take a lot before they started falling apart," Pierce said with a grin after hopping out of his truck. "It was a lot of fun out there. I'm out of breath, but so happy." The 18-year-old had to spend a few moments composing himself inside the cockpit following the checkered flag, a piece of time that included third-place finisher Tyler Reddick strolling over, leaning into the window and patting him on the helmet. A member of his pit crew walked in circles, screaming "(Expletive) yeah! Can you believe it?" They couldn't. Pierce led 39 of 154 laps after starting from the pole. He was in the top five throughout the entirety of the 1-800-Car-Cash Mud Summer Classic, including the frenzied finish that saw four cautions -- and thus four harrowing restarts -- over a 42–lap span and resulted in a green-white-checkered finish. Bell, 20 years old, and Pierce put on another Eldora classic. They went high into the wall, sending both sparks and dirt spraying from their trucks. They went low, dodging Reddick, Austin Dillon , Ty Dillon and Matt Crafton , among others. It was reminiscent of last year's frenzied finish, when Kyle Larson used all his truck would give him, careening into walls while attempting to chase down eventual winner Darrell Wallace Jr . "I know a lot of people before the race were thinking I was going to be the Kyle Larson this year, probably," Pierce said. "I didn't want to be the guy in second, but that's how it goes." Team owner Mike Mittler was fine with second. A team owner in the Truck Series since its inception in 1995, Wednesday was his best finish. His only other career top 10 in 213 starts was an eighth-place showing with Carl Edwards in 2002. It was a wait of 13 years for a man well-regarded in the NASCAR community, one who helped drivers such as Brad Keselowski (who finished 28th Wednesday), Edwards, Jamie McMurray and Justin Allgaier start their careers. After celebrating with Pierce and the crew, Mittler took a congratulatory phone call and helped wheel the truck across the infield for inspection before pausing to consider what the runner-up result meant. "I thought if it stayed green, we'd have every opportunity to work (Bell) and get by him, but it just didn't go that way," Mittler told NASCAR.com. "I just thought, 'Wow, what a phenomenal opportunity after 20 years, to be in position to finally have an opportunity to win a race.' " The opportunity came with a driver Mittler has known for years -- he is friends with Pierce's father outside of racing -- and one who watched the inaugural Eldora race on television at home, and took in last year's event from the grandstands. "The whole thing is pretty cool," Bell said, "because I remember we were at a local show in Illinois a year ago, and I had never heard of Bobby Pierce and I'm sure he'd never heard of me. He kicked their butt in the late model race. I never dreamed we'd be racing neck and neck at Eldora." But they were. And on a night in which Bell cemented his place in NASCAR, Pierce's possible NASCAR career also took flight. "That's why you're in this sport, to be in contention to win," Mittler said. "It wasn't a fluke. We were there all day. It was no fluke at all. The kid's the real deal. He said this is a dream come true for him, and it is for me, too." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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Several teams cut the timing close to get through qualifying inspection RELATED: Could potential rules package changes be coming soon? BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s flashy new paint scheme on his No. 88 Chevrolet had already made an impression during Friday's opening practice at Michigan International Speedway . But the effect wasn't as flattering just before Coors Light Pole Qualifying at the 2-mile track as his Chevy sat backed up in a line trying to make it through inspection. "I don't know anything about it," Earnhardt said after qualifying 14th for Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). "I'm just the driver and I don't even help 'em go through inspection, so I don't even know how the process works." Teams' struggles to get through the laser-inspection process produced another backlog Friday, particularly because of issues with the amount of skew in the rear-end alignment. Several teams cut the timing close, with Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports No. 88, the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 of Kyle Busch and the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 of last week's winner Martin Truex Jr . among the final cars to make it through the line and present their entries on the qualifying grid. The process has come under more scrutiny in the wake of longtime team owner Jack Roush's remarks Wednesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about inconsistencies in the laser inspection system. Several crew chiefs for teams who were forced to go through inspection multiple times echoed Roush's comments with varying degrees of gusto. "Don't push the limits, I guess. That's what they say," said Greg Ives, Earnhardt's crew chief. "The system sometimes has its flaws but it's not all on the system itself. We understand that these are machines, that whether it's the car or the LIS (laser inspection) system, they're not going to be perfect. Things don't always go your way. Things bend, things move that sometimes you don't expect, either on the race car or the LIS system and a lot of cars go over those every day. "It's not a perfect vacuum system. There's going to be things that are flawed. As far as the amount that we were off was very small, but NASCAR's doing its job to make sure everyone is held to the same tolerance and that's all I can ask." Cole Pearn, a first-time winner as a Sprint Cup crew chief last weekend at Pocono Raceway , said Truex's No. 78 required an additional trip through the inspection line after its skew was off by approximately 20 thousandths of an inch. Truex eventually secured the ninth starting spot for Sunday's 400-miler, but only after Pearn and his Furniture Row crew made the necessary adjustments. "It's terribly inaccurate," Pearn said with a shrug. "It's just a crapshoot when you go across. You're trying to get every little bit and it's the measurement and lack of repeatability of the machine. It's just kind of tough … It's what we've got to deal with." NASCAR officials declined comment Friday. Roush's refrain to SiriusXM broached the possibility that the laser system -- which debuted for the 2013 season -- was potentially sensitive to atmospheric conditions. Other small differences in calibration could be attributed to the cars themselves, factoring in the wear and tear of turning high-speed laps in between inspections -- which occur before first practice, before qualifying and before the race. The delays boiled over in the series' second race this season at Atlanta Motor Speedway , where 13 drivers missed Coors Light Pole Qualifying because of extra trips through the inspection process. Friday's additional inspections in the Michigan garage didn't approach that dire level, but still cut into the opening 20-minute round of knockout qualifying for a handful of teams. RELATED: Inspection woes at Atlanta prevent several from qualifying "Sometimes you roll up there and you get a number and you're working with that number; the next time you roll up, you don't change anything, it could be just a little tiny bit different," said Adam Stevens, crew chief for Busch's JGR No. 18 Toyota. "Everybody's working in the margins. It's nothing crazy or out of the ordinary from my view. We made an adjustment and the adjustment fixed it. It's just another day at the track." Stevens said it was just the second time this season that his team had been through inspection multiple times. Even with Friday's hiccup, he wasn't among those casting aspersions at the laser system's accuracy. "It's a mechanical device, and every mechanical device has a tolerance," Stevens said. "Anything in the whole world that's mechanical has a tolerance, so that's all there is to it. I don't think it's a big problem. I feel like any given weekend you show up, it's pretty repeatable. At least in my experience, it hasn't been a major issue." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule