- Did you mean:
Chris Gayle already preparing for move to Sprint Cup
RELATED: Expansion vital for FRR, Jones " FRR adds Jones to growing team RICHMOND , Va. -- The official announcement came this past week, but that doesn't mean Chris Gayle hasn't been working behind the scenes in the Toyota camp. Gayle, who called the action from the pit box in Kyle Busch 's NASCAR XFINITY Series victory on Friday night at Richmond International Raceway , will move to Furniture Row Racing next season to guide the efforts of Sprint Cup rookie Erik Jones . MORE: Busch dominates for XFINITY win at Richmond " Full race results Though Jones won't get a head start on his transition from XFINITY to Sprint Cup by running races at NASCAR's highest level this year, Gayle already has been spending Sunday afternoons at the track, observing and learning. And though Gayle has won eight XFINITY events with Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing this season, his is not exactly a household name. In fact, the only "Chris Gayle" with a current Wikipedia entry is a Jamaican cricketer. But Furniture Row, which enjoys factory support from Toyota Racing Development and a technical partnership with JGR, expects Gayle to make a name for himself in short order as the crew chief for one of the sport's rising stars. And Gayle, 40, is using the rest of the season to get ready for the step up to Sprint Cup . "On staying on Sundays and working, that's kind of already started to happen," Gayle said Friday night after the win at Richmond , site of Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "You guys probably didn't know, but I've been around for the last couple weeks if you've been watching a little bit, so I've kind of been doing that for a little bit and we'll continue to do that for the rest of the year. "Maybe not Furniture Row per se, but it gives me kind of a unique perspective for all the Toyota teams to kind of see how everybody's doing things different and kind of mold my team how I want to, based on the goods and the bads of what I learn over the next 10, 11 races."
Drivers talk fallout from chippy Richmond race
RELATED: O'Donnell discusses contact between Newman, Stewart CHICAGO -- Sometimes putting the regular season to rest also means burying the bygone grudges, clearing the decks of any lingering hard feelings as the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs becomes the prime focus. For the 16 playoff-eligible drivers, some differences have been aired out -- and some not -- after an especially chippy regular-season finale last weekend at Richmond International Raceway that left both teammates and old rivals at odds with each other. For all concerned, it's back to business this weekend with another brand of intensity in Sunday's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM), the first event of the 10-race Chase for the championship at Chicagoland Speedway . One on-track altercation that bubbled into post-race bitterness in televised interviews will require NASCAR competition officials to mediate the disagreement to make sure it goes no further. NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said Monday that he expects to consult with Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman regarding their late-race run-in last Saturday night. RELATED: Photos of the big wreck at Richmond Stewart said Thursday from the annual Ready. Set. Chase. launch events at Chicago's Bridgeport Art Center that he expected the meeting to be preemptive in nature, to keep any animosity from festering after Newman questioned Stewart's anger management and composure in post-race interviews at Richmond . "I haven't heard anything from him," Stewart said of his former teammate as he enters the final Chase of his Sprint Cup driving career, "but it's like I said, it would be easy to take it personal. But I mean, that was the deciding factor in his season whether he was going to make the Chase or not. So we've been friends a long time, we've been teammates and I respect him a lot. "It's a high-pressure moment, and I've been in those, too, and I've said things. Whether he meant to say it or not or whether he still believes it or not, that's up to him, but that moment is a hard moment for any of us. It's tough in that scenario." Newman, who was the highest-ranking driver to miss the Chase field, also played a role in a small but curious dust-up between Hendrick Motorsports teammates. Newman forced his way into a three-wide battle early on at Richmond , nudging Jeff Gordon -- Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s substitute in the No. 88 Chevrolet -- into rookie Chase Elliott , Gordon's successor in the No. 24 Chevy. WATCH: Elliott finds the wall after contact with Gordon That slight issue, Elliott indicated, appears to be resolved. "He sent me a text after the race. I knew it wasn't his fault," Elliott said. "I wasn't concerned with it at all. It was a racing deal and you hate, of course, it had to be two teammates and it had to be myself and Jeff, but at the end of the day, we both get it and our teams get it. ... He did give me an apology, but it was not necessary whatsoever." One on-again, off-again conflict among Matt Kenseth and Team Penske 's Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano also resurfaced at Richmond . Kenseth and Keselowski have been involved in far bigger rhubarbs than the contact that flared up last weekend, but a certain testy tinge laced Kenseth's post-race interview. Each shared common ground in Thursday's pre-Chase media rounds, focusing on securing their second premier-series championship and minimizing any potential bad blood between the two. "I don't want to play the conversation game," Keselowski said. "I don't think I need to have a whole media discussion about any time there's a small bump on the race track, whether it's me or somebody else. It's just how racing's going to be. When it's egregious and there's things that happen, that's one thing. (Expletive) just happens, (expletive) just happens and we don't have to play drama queen for everything. That's kind of how I feel about it." WATCH: Kenseth frustrated with Keselowski at Richmond Kenseth offered a flat "no" when asked if Team Penske 's two-driver stable was successfully playing mind games with him. "We didn't really talk about it and I didn't really re-watch any of that, so I don't know," Kenseth said in response to Keselowski's post-race remarks. "We didn't really talk about it." RELATED: Meet all 16 Chase drivers Two more teammates -- Richard Childress Racing 's Austin Dillon and Paul Menard -- had a chance to settle their squabble by sharing a ride back to North Carolina on the team plane. Dillon, who had on-track clashes for running room with Menard in successive weeks, found an empty seat on the plane beside his teammate and took it. "Well, I'm learning a lot about relationships -- I'm engaged," said Dillon, who is prepping for his first Chase this season. "And communication is everything, and communicating with him was a good start to it. I've always had a good relationship with Paul. We both love a lot of the same things -- we love the outdoors, we love racing. "I just wanted to tell him, 'Hey, I'm not doing this on purpose or any certain way. I'm just racing hard,' and he said the same thing." The hard racing -- and potentially the tensions that accompany it -- are expected to continue over the next 10 weeks, starting this weekend in Chicagoland. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR's inaugural Fan Appreciation Weekend kicks off at Richmond
Editor's note: NASCAR.com will celebrate Fan Appreciation Weekend by making all premium features free in the NASCAR Mobile App. Those features include driver audio, in-car cameras and live, real-time telemetry. The driver who finishes first in Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 race won't be the only winner this weekend at Richmond International Raceway . As part of NASCAR's inaugural Fan Appreciation weekend, more than one lucky fan will have the opportunity to go home with prizes like an iPad Mini, or even a fire suit worn by Miss Sprint Cup . "I'm really excited about everything we have this weekend to recognize the fans. They are the heart-and-soul of this sport and the reason we're so passionate about what we do," Richmond International Raceway President Dennis Bickmeier said. "This goes far beyond Richmond International Raceway , as the entire industry has jumped on board to say 'Thank You, Fans'." The prizes have been donated from companies and teams like XFINITY , Monster, Roush Fenway Racing , Sprint, and MARS. The prizes will be awarded to both fans at the track and watching at home through the RIR mobile app, @RIRinsider on social media and www.rir.com . The prize giveaways are in addition to the fan experiences already in place, such as Gridside Live! and premium fan upgrades in the Midway at displays like Chevy, Coca-Cola and Sprint. While the bulk of fan appreciation-related activities will take place on Saturday, kids will be the ones getting the recognition on Friday, before the Virginia529 College Savings 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race. The first 50 kids 12-and-under who stop by the RIR Kids Club Tent on the Midway will have the chance to take part in the Kids' High-Five Tunnel with their favorite NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers during driver introductions for the Virginia529 College Savings 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race. In addition, one lucky kid will present the NBC12 pole award to the driver with the fastest time in qualifying. "Providing a fun and entertaining experience for all fans is a priority," Bickmeier said. "Opportunities to put young fans in the center of the sport, like we are doing with some of the kids-related activities during Fan Appreciation Weekend, provides a strong connection to NASCAR in a fun and educational environment." Kids can also visit the Virginia529 Kids Zone, where children and their parents can enjoy games, crafts and science experiments. As in years past, all children 12-and-under are admitted free to the Virginia529 College Savings 250 with a paying adult. For the latest news, weekend schedules, and behind-the-scenes exclusive content, follow @RIRInsider on social media. Searching #ThanksFans is the fastest way to stay up-to-date with latest Fan Appreciation Race news from around the sport including NASCAR, partners, media, and other fans. Tickets for the Who's Your Driver NASCAR race weekend at Richmond International Raceway are still available for purchase. The action starts Friday with US Department of Veteran Affairs Pole Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and continues with the Virgina529 College Savings 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race. On Saturday night, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes to the track for the Federated Auto Parts 400 at 7:30 p.m. The race marks the last chance for drivers to clinch a spot in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup . To purchase tickets call 866-455-RACE or visit www.rir.com .
Hamlin holds on for Coors Light Pole at Richmond
RELATED: Starting lineup " See every car in the field RICHMOND , Va. – Don't tell Denny Hamlin his first pole of the season isn't significant. In the money round of Friday's knockout qualifying session, the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota toured .75-mile Richmond International Raceway in 22.069 seconds (122.344 mph) to earn the top starting spot for Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the final race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular season. "I thought for sure we had too many laps on our tires," said Hamlin, who qualified in the top 10 for the 24th consecutive race. "A lot of the guys that we were challenging only had one lap per session, but my car didn't really come in that quick, so I had to run multiple laps. "And on a short track that wears out tires, I thought we were at a huge disadvantage. Just proud of the effort. ... And, obviously, running that fast for that many laps tells us we have a really good car for the long runs. So pretty optimistic, and we'll see if we can't get a win." Though Hamlin edged Kyle Larson by .010 seconds to earn his first Coors Light Pole Award of 2016, his third at Richmond and the 24th of his career, the real drama of Friday afternoon involved drivers who qualified deeper in the field—in some cases, much deeper. Pocono winner Chris Buescher , who is fighting to stay in the top 30 in the standings and thereby earn a Chase spot, qualified a disappointing 31st. Adding to the stress of the driver of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford was the qualifying performance of David Ragan , who is 31st in points and immediately behind Buescher. Ragan was 19th fastest in the first round of knockout qualifying, 12 positions better than Buescher. The problem? Buescher is just 11 points ahead of Ragan entering Saturday’s race, with each position worth one point. Ragan slipped to 21st in the second round and failed to advance, meaning he'll start the No. 23 BK Racing Toyota 10 spots on the grid ahead of Buescher—too far for the rookie driver to enjoy a comfortable night's sleep. Buescher also can stay in the top 30 if he finishes 10 spots ahead of Landon Cassill , his teammate. "That's not where we wanted to be in qualifying with our CSX Ford Fusion," Buescher said. "We were a little better than we were last time here, so there is a little bit of positive to it, believe it or not. We'll be able to work our way up. "At the end of the day, this weekend is about something bigger. We're trying to stay out of trouble and be there at the end. It won't be an easy walk from where we are at right now, but we'll be able to work our way up." RELATED: How bubble drivers fare at Richmond Jamie McMurray (122.189 mph) took control of another important head-to-head matchup, making the final round of qualifying and earning the fourth starting spot. The last driver currently in a Chase-eligible position on points, McMurray enters Saturday’s race with a 22-point advantage over Ryan Newman , whose effort stalled in the second round. Hit with a 15-point penalty on Wednesday after his No. 31 Chevrolet failed the laser inspection station after Sunday's race at Darlington, Newman will start 15th, likely needing a victory to advance to the Chase. "Well, it's a really big weekend for us, but more than that, I'm just thrilled how both of our cars are running," said McMurray, Larson's teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing . "We've just made such big improvements. "We ran good at a two-mile track at Michigan. We ran good at Darlington with a different rules package, and we've run good at a short track. As an organization, it's been really good, and the next 10 races, if we can get in, it's going to be pretty awesome, because our cars have peaked at the right time." Austin Dillon , who starts on Saturday nine points ahead of McMurray, took a significant step toward his first-ever Chase spot with an eighth-place qualifying effort at 121.638 mph. At the other end of the spectrum, another driver likely to experience a sleepless night is Chase Elliott , who qualified 34th in his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Elliott starts the night eight points ahead of Dillon and 17 ahead of McMurray. All three drivers share one hope, however—that there's not a new 2016 winner currently outside the Chase grid to reduce the number of Chase spots available on points from three to two (assuming Buescher remains in the top 30). RELATED: Elliott positive despite career-worst starting spot "We're just not going fast enough, for sure," Elliott said after failing to reach the second round. "I really don't know what our problem is, but we struggled in our mock runs earlier today, too. So, we just need to think about it, I guess, and try to go to work tonight. "We're giving it our best effort. It just hasn't been where we need to be. The bad news is that it's a terrible starting spot; but the good news is that it's a long race tomorrow night. We have some teammates that are fast, so hopefully we can lean on them and try to get our Chevrolet a little better." Matt Kenseth , Hamlin's teammate, qualified third. Kurt Busch , who paced the first two rounds, slipped to fifth in the session that decided the starting order of the top 12. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Denny Hamlin wins regular-season finale at Richmond
RELATED: Complete race results " Standings " Who is in the Chase? SHOP: Hamlin gear " Chase gear RICHMOND , Va. – Denny Hamlin won a wild race at his home track, and the top four Chase hopefuls entering Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 all held serve at Richmond International Raceway in an event that ended in overtime after a record 16 cautions. Jamie McMurray locked up a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a seventh-place finish, and Austin Dillon did likewise with a 13th-place run. Sunoco rookies Chase Elliott and Chris Buescher both weathered some tense moments to qualify for NASCAR's 10-race playoff, the first time two rookies have ever been included in the Chase field—and the first time any rookie has made the Chase since Hamlin accomplished the feat in 2006. Elliott brought out the third caution of the night after contact with the Turn 1 wall, but he recovered to finish 19th to earn his Chase spot with room to spare. Buescher, on the other hand, had to make a precautionary green-flag pit stop on Lap 308 of 407 because of a tire that was deflating and lost two laps in the process. But Buescher regained the lead lap during a spate of late cautions and came home 24th, his path to the Chase made easier when David Ragan , his chief rival for 30th place in the Sprint Cup standings, was eliminated in a eight-car accident on Lap 363. Hamlin took control of the race when his pit crew handed him the lead under caution on Lap 322. Six cautions followed, the last of which sent the race to overtime when Regan Smith slammed the outside wall on Lap 399 of a scheduled 400. Kyle Larson pitted for fresh tires under the yellow and streaked from 12th to second on the two-lap overtime run, but the driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet didn't have time to catch Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, which crossed the finish line with a margin of victory of .609 seconds. Hamlin, who grew up in nearby Chesterfield, was elated to win the race in front of his home crowd. "That's what’s so special about it," said Hamlin, who started from the pole and led the last 86 laps (189 total) on the way to his third victory of the season, his third at the .75-mile track and the 29th of his career. "You get to do it at home. "I see all the extra Denny Hamlin shirts and hats and everything, and it just fires me up every time I get here. This was a great car, and hopefully we can use it in the Chase." RELATED: See all of Hamlin's wins Martin Truex Jr . ran third, followed by Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick . Kasey Kahne , who needed a victory to advance to the Chase, ran sixth after a hard-fought run to the finish. McMurray, Kurt Busch , Kyle Busch and Joey Logano completed the top 10. With the exception of Kahne, all top-10 finishers on Saturday will compete in the Chase. Ryan Newman 's hopes of an eleventh-hour Chase miracle ended abruptly on Lap 363 when contact between his No. 31 Chevrolet and Tony Stewart ’s No. 14 Chevy sent both cars out of control, blocking the track at the entry to Turn 3. All told, eight cars were in the accident, but no driver was more incensed than Newman, who was racing hard with Stewart for the 10th position in a last-ditch attempt to make the Chase by winning the race. "The No. 14 (Stewart) cut across my nose into Turn 1, and I got into him after that, but he'd already chopped into me and messed up my line, and I clipped him a little bit coming off of (Turn) 2," Newman said of Stewart, who was racing at Richmond for the last time in a Sprint Cup car. ... "And then he just drove across my nose on the back straightaway. We'll keep fighting like we always do. It's just unfortunate not to end the way we wanted to. It's just disappointing that you've got somebody old like that, that should be retired the way he drives. It's just ridiculous." RELATED: Late wreck derails Newman's Chase hopes Not surprisingly, Stewart had a different perspective. "That was the third time he'd driven into me during the night, and how many times does a guy get a free pass until you've had enough of it?" said the three-time champion. "He's got to do his part racing for a championship, too, and to race to get in there, and if you're going to run into guys -- I go into (Turn) 1 and he dive bombs in there. "I'm already coming down, so it's not like I was trying to squeeze him in the infield or something. Ryan and I have been good friends. I don't do that to him. But he hits me in 1, he hits me off of 2, and it's like the third time by that time. There was once early in the race that nobody saw. Three times, that's two more times than I normally let somebody run into me." And as to Newman’s suggestion Stewart should be retired already? "He'll get his wish in 10 weeks," Stewart said. "He'll get his wish. Maybe next year without us here, he'll get his spot in the Chase that way." The Lap 363 pileup that ended Newman's Chase hopes—and ended with Dylan Lupton 's Toyota on the hood of Newman's car—also locked Buescher into NASCAR's playoff with the elimination of Ragan from the race. "It was a crazy race," said Buescher, the first driver to represent Front Row Motorsports in the Chase. "I can't believe how many cautions we had. We got involved in one of the accidents, had a tire go down, just a very eventful day. Just so proud to be here." Elliott was just relieved to shed the stress of an eventful race. "I just think we have to first off be thankful that we were able to get in tonight after the night we had," Elliott said. "I can't thank my guys for working as hard as they did. "I've never had to go through—I'm sure they haven't either—all the stuff we went through tonight, so hats off to them, fixing our car multiple times." Notes: With four victories this season, Kyle Busch starts the Chase next Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway as the top seed with 2,012 points, the same total earned by second-seeded Keselowski, also a four-time winner ... With three victories and 2,009 points, Hamlin is the No. 3 seed, followed by Harvick, Carl Edwards , Truex, Matt Kenseth , Jimmie Johnson , Joey Logano , Larson, Stewart, Kurt Busch , Buescher, Elliott, Dillon and McMurray. ... Truex's No. 78 Toyota failed the laser inspection station after the race. If penalties are warranted, they will be announced before the Chase begins. &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Richmond GarageCam preps for the Chase
Join GarageCam hosts Jonathan Merryman and Chuck Bush as they take you around the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage at Richmond International Raceway to show off paint schemes and talk to drivers.
Richmond rundown and grid-locked
NASCAR.com's Chuck Bush recaps all the action from Richmond International Raceway as the drama unfolds in the final race before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Kahne able to burst the Chase bubble at Richmond
The 'Loop Dog', Mike Forde, joins SiriusXM NASCAR Radio to give fantasy advice leading into the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond .
Who will climb through the field at Richmond ?
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman is joined by analysts Chris Rice as they take a look at who might be a solid NASCAR Fantasy Live pick for the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond .
No. 78 team penalized following race at Richmond
NASCAR.com's Chuck Bush gets you Up To Speed as Martin Truex Jr. is penalized after failing post-race inspection follwing the race at Richmond International Raceway.