Staff picks for GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
RELATED: See all the cars lined up for Sunday's race Denny Hamlin : If Joe Gibbs Racing can get organized in the same way it did at Daytona in February, the No. 11 could be the winning ticket at Talladega. -- Zack Albert Dale Earnhardt Jr .: Series' best plate racer has had three runner-up finishes this season. He's due. -- Kenny Bruce Jimmie Johnson : This will mark the 10th Talladega race since Johnson last won here and, quite simply, it's time. While his teammates will grab the lion's share of the attention, "Six-Time" will ultimately hold the winner's trophy -- his third. -- Holly Cain Joey Logano : Entering the weekend, I'd already pegged Joey Logano as the favorite -- then he went out and topped final practice. Seemingly due for a win and with a pair of restrictor-plate victories in his back pocket from last year, what more are you looking for? -- Pat DeCola Ryan Blaney : His best Cup finish came in this race last year and Penske, with whom Wood Brothers is affiliated, has taken two of the last three 'Dega races. -- RJ Kraft Dale Earnhardt Jr .: I'm jumping on the Junior bandwagon. He's always the one to beat at the 2.66-mile track and he'll make it difficult for the rest of the field en route to his seventh Cup win here. -- Maggie MacKenzie Brad Keselowski : The 2012 premier series champion spoils the recent Hendrick-JGR show of power, thanks to his own racing ingenuity and plenty of fast Fords with which to partner. -- Brad Norman Brad Keselowski : The Team Penske driver earned his first Cup win in 2009 at Talladega and has won twice more since. Couple that with he and teammate Joey Logano 's history of working closely together on-track -- a crucial element to plate racing -- and 'Dega Victory Lane could be calling Keselowski's name. -- Jessica Ruffin Matt Kenseth : All the bad luck that the No. 20 team has had this year has masked impressive speed. Talladega is about both luck and speed. With the former in hand as shown by his fourth-place qualifying effort, Kenseth is due for a more auspicious turn of his fortune. -- Kathy Sheldon Denny Hamlin : Hamlin saw Victory Lane two years ago at Talladega and with his 2016 Daytona 500 win under his belt, the JGR driver seems ready to dominate another superspeedway this season. -- Taylor Starer Chase Elliott : His dad won here twice and the man who drove the No. 24 before him won here six times. Talladega has been known to produce dramatic moments, so let's root for another one to happen Sunday. -- George Winkler Make your picks in Streak to the Finish !
Best in-car audio from the GEICO 500
Go beyond the broadcast and inside the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars as teams discuss the wild wrecks and thrilling finish at Talladega Superspeedway.
Stats advance: Analyzing the 5-hour Energy 301
A statistical look ahead to the 19th race of the 2015 Sprint Cup season DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 13, 2015) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire going into the 5-hour ENERGY 301 on July 19 (1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). NEW HAMPSHIRE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota) · Two wins, four top fives, seven top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14. 500 , 10th-best · Average Running Position of 12.335, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 95.0, eighth-best · 245 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 124.934, seventh-fastest · 3760 Laps in the Top 15 (69.9), eighth-most · 498 Quality Passes, 10th-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota) · One win, seven top fives, ten top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 14.050, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 13.375, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 94.7, ninth-best · 232 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 124.801, 11th-fastest · 3975 Laps in the Top 15 (66.5), 10th-most · 532 Quality Passes, eighth-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Three wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 17. 500 , 12th-best · Average Running Position of 14.294, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 88.1, 13th-best · 187 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · 3529 Laps in the Top 15 (59.0), 13th-most · 548 Quality Passes, sixth-most Dale Earnhardt Jr (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) · Seven top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 13.350, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 11.743, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 97.1, sixth-best · 251 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 125.100, fifth-fastest · 4435 Laps in the Top 15 (74.2), fourth-most · 625 Quality Passes, third-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AARP Member Advantages Chevrolet) · Three wins, 16 top fives, 22 top 10s; four poles · Average finish of 10.700, third-best · Average Running Position of 7.680, series-best · Driver Rating of 107.3, series-best · 457 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 125.292, series-fastest · 5266 Laps in the Top 15 (88.1), series-most · 676 Quality Passes, series-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota) · Two wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 10. 500 , second-best · Average Running Position of 11.406, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 103.2, third-best · 320 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 125.064, sixth-fastest · 3936 Laps in the Top 15 (73.2), fifth-most · 570 Quality Passes, fourth-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/ Budweiser Chevrolet) · One win, six top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.750, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 12.288, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 93.1, 10th-best · 219 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 124.890, ninth-fastest · 4002 Laps in the Top 15 (66.9), ninth-most · 465 Quality Passes, 11th-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Three wins, ten top fives, 18 top 10s · Average finish of 10.950, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 11.144, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 102.1, fourth-best · 432 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 125.193, third-fastest · 4758 Laps in the Top 15 (79.6), second-most · 626 Quality Passes, second-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet) · One win, three top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 18.050, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 14.160, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 91.3, 12th-best · 340 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 124.891, eighth-fastest · 3781 Laps in the Top 15 (63.2), 12th-most · 534 Quality Passes, seventh-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · One win, four top fives, seven top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 11.000, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 12.985, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 95.6, seventh-best · 229 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 124.866, 10th-fastest · 2147 Laps in the Top 15 (65.3), 11th-most · 336 Quality Passes, 12th-most Kyle Larson (No. 42 Target Chevrolet) · Two top fives, two top 10s · Average finish of 2. 500 , series-best · Average Running Position of 10.730, third-best · Driver Rating of 99.1, fifth-best · 14 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 125.217, second-fastest · 443 Laps in the Top 15 (72.9), sixth-most · 51 Quality Passes, 13th-most Ryan Newman (No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet) · Three wins, seven top fives, 16 top 10s; seven poles · Average finish of 15.150, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 13.142, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 91.8, 11th-best · 169 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 124.770, 12th-fastest · 4342 Laps in the Top 15 (72.6), seventh-most · 504 Quality Passes, ninth-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Three wins, 14 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 10.947, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 10.290, second-best · Driver Rating of 106.9, second-best · 412 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 125.104, fourth-fastest · 4347 Laps in the Top 15 (76.6), third-most · 557 Quality Passes, fifth-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 28 1 1 6 14 0 13.9 93.1 2 Jimmie Johnson 26 0 3 10 18 1 10.3 102.1 3 Joey Logano 13 0 2 3 5 2 17.9 77.2 4 Dale Earnhardt Jr 31 0 0 7 14 4 15.3 97.1 5 Martin Truex Jr 18 0 0 3 6 1 14.4 86.3 6 Brad Keselowski 11 3 1 4 7 0 11 95.6 7 Jamie McMurray 24 0 0 4 6 3 20.5 70.4 8 Kurt Busch 28 0 3 7 11 1 16.1 88.1 9 Matt Kenseth 30 0 1 7 15 1 13.3 85.7 10 Jeff Gordon 40 4 3 16 22 2 11.4 107.3 11 Denny Hamlin 18 0 2 7 11 0 10.5 103.2 12 Kasey Kahne 22 0 1 3 8 3 17 91.3 13 Paul Menard 16 0 0 0 0 0 23.7 61.4 14 Ryan Newman 26 7 3 7 16 3 13.8 91.8 15 Clint Bowyer 18 1 2 4 7 1 14.5 95.0 16 Aric Almirola 9 0 0 1 2 0 19.6 64.8 New Hampshire Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 19 of 36 (07-19-15) Track Size : 1.058-mile Banking/Turn 1 & 2 : 2 to 7 degrees Banking/Turn 3 & 4 : 2 to 7 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 1 degree Banking/Backstretch : 1 degree Frontstretch Length : 1, 500 feet Backstretch Length : 1, 500 feet Race Length : 301 laps / 318.46 miles Top 10 Driver Rating at New Hampshire Jeff Gordon .............................. 107.3 Tony Stewart ............................. 106.9 Denny Hamlin ............................ 103.2 Jimmie Johnson ........................ 102.1 Kyle Larson . ............................... 99.1 Dale Earnhardt Jr . ....................... 97.1 Brad Keselowski ......................... 95.6 Clint Bowyer ............................... 95.0 Kyle Busch ................................. 94.7 Kevin Harvick .............................. 93.1 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (20 total) among active drivers at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Kyle Busch , Toyota 138.130 mph, 27.574 secs. 07-11-14 2014 race winner : Brad Keselowski , Ford 108.741 mph, (02:58:03), 07-13-14 Track qualifying record: Brad Keselowski , Ford 140.598 mph, 27.090 secs. 09-21-14 Track race record: Jeff Burton , Ford 117.134 mph, (02:42:35), 07-13-97 New Hampshire Motor Speedway: History · Groundbreaking for New Hampshire International Speedway, as New Hampshire Motor Speedway was originally named, was Aug. 13, 1989. · The 1.058-mile oval is located on approximately 1,200 acres; the multi-use complex is the largest sports facility in New England. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was on July 11, 1993 – won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace . · Speedway Motorsports, Inc. agreed to purchase New Hampshire International Speedway from Bob and Gary Bahre on January 11, 2008 and then renamed the track New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Starts · There have been 40 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway; one per year from 1993 through 1996 and two per year since. · 160 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire; 129 in more than one. · Jeff Gordon has competed in all 40 races at New Hampshire – the only driver to accomplish the feat. · Only one active championship contending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has made their first career start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Joey Logano (9/14/08). · Three drivers will attempt to make their series debuts at New Hampshire this weekend: Trevor Bayne , Matt DiBenedetto and Brett Moffitt . · Ryan Newman leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at New Hampshire with an 8.692. Poles · Mark Martin won the inaugural Coors Light pole at New Hampshire in 1993 with a speed of 126.871 mph. · 18 drivers have Coors Light poles at New Hampshire, led by Ryan Newman with seven. · Four active drivers have multiple poles at New Hampshire: Ryan Newman (seven), Jeff Gordon (four), Brad Keselowski (three) and Kyle Busch (two). · Five drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at New Hampshire: Ken Schrader (1997 sweep); Jeff Gordon (1998-1999); Rusty Wallace (1999-2000); Ryan Newman (twice – 2003-2004 and 2011 sweep); Juan Pablo Montoya (2009-2010). · Youngest New Hampshire Coors Light pole winner: Brian Vickers (07/17/2005 – 21 years, 8 months, 23 days). · Oldest New Hampshire Coors Light pole winner: Bill Elliott (07/21/2002 – 46 years, 9 months, 13 days). · Brad Keselowski (9/19/10) is the only active driver to post his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Wins · 24 different drivers have won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, led by Jeff Burton with four. · Eight active drivers have multiple wins at NHMS: Kurt Busch , Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Ryan Newman , Tony Stewart (each have three); Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano (each have two) · Two drivers have posted consecutive wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Jimmie Johnson (2003 sweep) and Kurt Busch (2004 sweep). · Youngest New Hampshire winner: Joey Logano (06/28/2009 – 19 years, 1 month, 4 days). · Oldest New Hampshire winner: Mark Martin (09/20/2009 – 50 years, 8 months, 11 days). · Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at New Hampshire in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with nine; followed by Roush Fenway Racing (seven), Team Penske (six), Joe Gibbs Racing (six) and Richard Childress Racing (four). · Five different manufacturers have won at New Hampshire; led by Chevrolet with 18 victories; followed by Ford (13), Toyota (four), Dodge (three) and Pontiac (two). · Jeff Burton is the only driver to win the July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway three consecutive years in a row (1997, ’98 and ’99) · Five of the 40 (12.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Ryan Newman in 2011. · The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (five) than any other starting position at New Hampshire. · Eight of the 40 (20%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from the front row: five from the pole and three from second-place. · 22 of the 40 (55%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at New Hampshire have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Nine of the 40 (22.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at New Hampshire is 38th, by Jeff Burton in 1999. · The deepest in the field that an active race winner has started at New Hampshire is 32nd, by Kurt Busch in the summer of 2003. · Dale Earnhardt Jr . leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at New Hampshire without visiting Victory Lane at 31; followed by Jamie McMurray and Casey Mears (24 starts each). · Three active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Ryan Newman (9/15/02), Clint Bowyer (9/16/07) and Joey Logano (6/28/09). Additional Finishing Position Stats · Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are tied for the series lead in runner-up finishes at New Hampshire with five each. · Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at New Hampshire with 16; followed by Tony Stewart with 14 and Jimmie Johnson with 10. · Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-10 finishes at New Hampshire with 22; followed by Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson with 18 each. · Jimmie Johnson leads NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at New Hampshire with an 10.269. · All 14 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners at New Hampshire Motor Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Ryan Newman and Joey Logano won at New Hampshire in their second appearance. Track Specific Stats · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was the July 1, 2007 race won by Denny Hamlin over Jeff Gordon with a MOV of 0.068 second. · 17 of the 33 (51.5%) NSCS races scored by el
Sights and Sounds: 5-Hour Energy 500
Take a dramatic look back at the Jeff Gordon's victory along with the sights and sounds from Pocono.
Sprint Cup qualifying order for Daytona 500
RELATED: Sprint Unlimited results # Car Driver Team 1 30 * Josh Wise Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 2 40 * Reed Sorenson CRC Brakleen Chevrolet 3 26 * Robert Richardson Jr. Stalk It Toyota 4 35 * David Gilliland Ford 5 23 David Ragan Dr Pepper Toyota 6 98 * Cole Whitt Toyota 7 32 Bobby Labonte C&J Energy Services Ford 8 38 Landon Cassill Florida Lottery Ford 9 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Chevrolet 10 34 Chris Buescher Love's Travel Stops Ford 11 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger/Scott Products Chevrolet 12 59 * Michael McDowell Thrivent Financial Chevrolet 13 46 Michael Annett Pilot/Flying J Chevrolet 14 83 Michael Waltrip Maxwell House Toyota 15 93 * Matt DiBenedetto Dustless Blasting Toyota 16 7 Regan Smith Nikko RC/Golden Corral Chevrolet 17 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 18 42 Kyle Larson Target Chevrolet 19 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's/Cessna Chevrolet 20 10 Danica Patrick Nature's Bakery Chevrolet 21 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 22 27 Paul Menard Peak Antifreeze/Menards Chevrolet 23 14 Brian Vickers Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet 24 95 Ty Dillon (i) Cheerios Chevrolet 25 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 26 44 Brian Scott # Albertsons Co./Shore Lodge Ford 27 31 Ryan Newman CAT Chevrolet 28 78 Martin Truex Jr . Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota 29 3 Austin Dillon DOW Chevrolet 30 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr . Fastenal Ford 31 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 32 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet 33 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 34 16 Greg Biffle KFC Nashville Hot Ford 35 19 Carl Edwards ARRIS Toyota 36 24 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 37 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Chevrolet 38 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr . Nationwide Chevrolet 39 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 40 18 Kyle Busch M&M's 75 Toyota 41 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet 42 21 * Ryan Blaney # Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 43 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 44 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford * Required to qualify on time, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Best in-car audio from the 5-hour ENERGY 301
Check out the best in-car audio from the 5-hour ENERGY 301 as Kyle Busch grabs his third win in four races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Sprint Cup practice results from Bristol
Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed 1 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Freight Toyota 14.913 128.666 2 78 Martin Truex Jr . Furniture Row Toyota 14.944 128.399 3 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 14.947 128.374 4 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 14.970 128.176 5 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 15.018 127.767 6 4 Kevin Harvick ditech Chevrolet 15.023 127.724 7 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr . Nationwide Chevrolet 15.052 127.478 8 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota 15.052 127.478 9 47 AJ Allmendinger Bush's Beans Chevrolet 15.056 127.444 10 19 Carl Edwards Comcast Business Toyota 15.064 127.377 11 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 15.070 127.326 12 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet 15.072 127.309 13 31 Ryan Newman WIX Chevrolet 15.093 127.132 14 42 Kyle Larson Target Chevrolet 15.093 127.132 15 95 Michael McDowell KLove Radio Chevrolet 15.093 127.132 16 *21 Ryan Blaney # Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 15.098 127.090 17 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 15.105 127.031 18 24 Chase Elliott # Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet 15.114 126.955 19 22 Joey Logano Autotrader Ford 15.117 126.930 20 5 Kasey Kahne Great Clips Chevrolet 15.128 126.838 21 27 Paul Menard Tarkett/Menards Chevrolet 15.132 126.804 22 38 Landon Cassill Snap Fitness Ford 15.160 126.570 23 16 Greg Biffle Roush Performance Ford 15.168 126.503 24 7 Regan Smith APC Chevrolet 15.178 126.420 25 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 15.179 126.411 26 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr . Zest Ford 15.186 126.353 27 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 15.188 126.337 28 23 David Ragan Dr Pepper Toyota 15.208 126.170 29 34 Chris Buescher # Love's Travel Stops Ford 15.212 126.137 30 44 Brian Scott # Shore Lodge Ford 15.218 126.088 31 3 Austin Dillon Bass Pro Shops/Ranger Boats Chevrolet 15.231 125.980 32 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Chevrolet 15.253 125.798 33 83 Matt DiBenedetto Cosmo Motors Toyota 15.310 125.330 34 14 Ty Dillon (i) Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats 15.344 125.052 35 32 Jeffrey Earnhardt # Keen Parts/Visone RV Ford 15.430 124.355 36 10 Danica Patrick Nature's Bakery Chevrolet 15.458 124.130 37 *30 Josh Wise Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 15.649 122.615 38 *55 Reed Sorenson ChampionMachinery.com Chevrolet 15.791 121.512 39 46 Michael Annett Pilot Flying J Chevrolet 15.914 120.573 40 *98 Cole Whitt Chevrolet 16.113 119.084
Coming home: Wile prepares for new role as Daytona president
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Chip Wile has flown into the Daytona Beach, Florida, airport dozens of times during his nearly two decades in NASCAR, working in racing public relations or for Motor Racing Network or more recently as the president of Darlington Raceway . But NASCAR's most famous track -- Daytona International Speedway -- looked different to Wile this past weekend as he landed at the airport next door. It's home now. "The 'aha moment' for me was flying in from Talladega Sunday night and landing right alongside the race track," said Wile, who started his tenure as Daytona International Speedway president on Monday. "I've flown in 50 times over the past 15 years but it felt different this time. You fly in and look over and get excited because you're going to Daytona, but knowing I have a different role now here and this is now my home was the 'aha moment.' "I'm trying to take a deep breath and really appreciate this opportunity. This is a game-changer for me and for my family. I understand how important (Daytona) is and what it means to our sport, and I'm looking forward to the challenge." For sure, the 36-year-old Wile knows a little something about challenges. For the past three years he has led the iconic Darlington Raceway into a modern era, ironically, by celebrating its storied past. Under his leadership, the "throwback" theme he created for Darlington's Southern 500 has been something praised and celebrated by fans, media and drivers alike. One of the most historic weekends of competition has also positioned itself as one of the most popular weekends in NASCAR -- a feat not lost by those International Speedway Corporation executives who tabbed Wile to run the facility as Joie Chitwood III takes a new role as ISC's Chief Operating Officer. Chitwood oversaw the recently completed $400 million Daytona Rising project that has propelled the speedway into one of sport's greatest modern facilities. And now Wile will shepherd the project and expand the opportunities. The Darlington experience is all fantastic background for Wile, who follows Chitwood in a place Chitwood aptly steered into the top level of innovation. "When I got the opportunity to go work at Darlington, I knew how important Darlington was to NASCAR and what it meant to lead that team," Wile said. "The obligation to hold people to a high standard because of its history and nostalgia, and certainly over the past three years, we've been able to do that with the community. Making sure we hold the Bojangles' Southern 500 to a high standard and make it a unique event with the throwback. So, that certainly is something I'm really proud of. "This is an even more prestigious brand. The Daytona 500 , I would argue, is the most prestigious brand in our sport and we have to hold it to a higher standard. And this race track, and what it means to our community and our sport, transcends really anything else that is out there." That race in particular has always held a special place in Wile's heart. He remembers working at Penske Racing, where he was reminded of the iconic Daytona track on a near daily basis. "I remember Roger Penske, who I worked for, he won 16 Indy 500s, but when you walk into his shop, the first trophy you see is that 50th running of the Daytona 500 trophy," Wile recalled. "And he's won just about everything you can win, but I'd argue that was, at the time, the biggest win in his motorsports career." Wile's extensive background working in so many facets of the sport will undoubtedly be useful for him. He spent almost a decade working with teams such as Bill Davis Racing and Penske Racing before joining ISC as director of business development with its radio network, MRN. He served as a liaison between the network and the tracks in that role before moving to Darlington. All of that is why he was the logical choice for the Daytona position and why he is confident and excited in leading the charge. "I think certainly what I bring is relationships," Wile said. "The only jobs I've ever had are in this sport. And I've been fortunate over the years. People have taken a vested interest in me and helped me be successful. I feel like I have relationships in the garage and with people that are true. I value those relationships and those are the reasons I'm getting the opportunity to come here and lead this team in Daytona. "Understanding how NASCAR works and how the race teams operate and certainly on the media side with my short time with MRN, I know what makes them tick, how their business runs and now, obviously, on the race track side. "It does give you a little bit of perspective on how you view things and look at things. I think that has helped me be successful so far. And certainly the relationships, in my opinion, are the most important thing in the sport and I will continue to lean on those."
Dale Jr.: 'I didn't check' steering wheel at 'Dega
RELATED: Junior explains steering wheel mistake MOORESVILLE -- Barely 50 laps had been completed when Dale Earnhardt Jr ., his team and his No. 88 Chevrolet were found in the garage Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway . Repairs to fix the damaged entry, which had unexpectedly swung around and collected Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne , took time. Rain was threatening to shorten the 188-lap GEICO 500 , which was nearing the halfway point when the car was deemed ready to return to action. But in a rush to get back out on the track and avoid a potential DNF (Did Not Finish), the series' Most Popular driver didn't notice that his steering wheel was not fully engaged as he rolled back out onto the 2.66-mile track. Until it came off in his hands. "I put the wheel on and never grabbed the coupler and made sure it was locked," Earnhardt said Tuesday. "… You're out of your element because you've crashed, you're in the garage, they're fixing the car, it's starting to rain, the caution's coming out, you're going to climb back in." Before the race went back green, crew chief Greg Ives asked his driver to check his safety belts and steering wheel. When Earnhardt pulled back on the wheel, it came off the column. Earnhardt quickly grabbed the column to momentarily steer the car before reattaching the steering wheel. "I was out of my element," he said. "Just scrambling, trying to get going and I didn't check it. We always put the wheel on and pull it and I didn't do it." RELATED: What grade did Junior get for the day? While his chances at victory were non-existent, to be still running whenever the race ended was important. "There are these little things that people don't think about that are a source of pride for drivers, teams, crew chiefs," Earnhardt said. "You don't want a DNF. Even if that means get back out and run the last lap. That counts; you finished. … "Anytime you crash a car, you load it up and you know you might, could have fixed it, it's a feeling you just can't get over. Because you didn't do everything you could have. And if you take that home with you, it's just an empty feeling. "You go there to run all the laps. When you get kicked and beat down and knocked off the top or you're having a bad day … the best thing you can do to go home with a clear conscience is to work as hard as you can to do everything you can before the checkered flag. You run every lap you can run, even if it's pointless." This time, it was just that as the Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards collected Earnhardt just a short time after his return. "Literally, it was pointless for us to be back out there," Earnhardt said. "We might have gotten one point. "That's what you do. You get out there and you fix it. You've got all that crash-cart (equipment) there for a reason. You make your guys go through the process of fixing the car because next time they fix it, they might do it 15 minutes quicker because they find some shortcuts and that might be important in the Chase." The car, now-famously nicknamed "Amelia" by Earnhardt won't be making any more starts. The combination of damage from the two incidents was too severe. Instead, it'll eventually be added to Earnhardt's "graveyard" of crashed vehicles on his private property. "I'll put it in the dirt, in the woods, and let the weeds take it," he said. "We'll build a new one and it will be good at Daytona. "I hate that that car ran those two races and had those two awful finishes because it did have such a good 2015. We should have parked it and built a new one and said that's the end of the deal with that one." Earnhardt drove the car to victory last season at both Daytona (in July) and Talladega (in May), and finished second (at Talladega in fall Chase race) and third ( Daytona 500 ) in '15 as well. RELATED: Edwards finishes off Junior's bad day This year, he crashed at Daytona and the car was repaired in time for Talladega. But there'll be no more fixing for this one. "We need to build a new car and we probably should have done that in the offseason," he said. "We got attached to this thing and really liked what it did last year. We were hoping we could keep having success with it; it was still a pretty good car."
Allmendinger's Darlington look to honor 1975 Rookie of the Year
RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes " SHOP: 'Dinger gear AJ Allmendinger ’s Darlington throwback paint scheme will honor Kansas native Bruce Hill's 1970s-era No. 47 with a Kroger/Kingsford red, white and blue theme, JTG Daugherty Racing announced today. Allmendinger will drive the car in the Bojangles' Southern 500 on Sept. 4 (6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Allmendinger and Hill, the 1975 Cup series Rookie of the Year, will meet for the first time on Friday at Kansas Speedway . "It is an honor, quite honestly," Hill said in a release. "Being remembered for something is always an honor, especially as big as the sport has gotten." Hill made starts in NASCAR's premier series in eight seasons with his best coming in his rookie year, 1975. He earned three top fives and 11 top 10s on his way to finishing 16th in driver points. He continued racing in the then-Winston Cup series through 1981. Hill now lives in his hometown of Topeka, Kansas, where he raises show horses on a ranch. "I'm really looking forward to meeting Bruce on Friday," Allmendinger said in the release. "I think what Darlington Raceway does to recognize former NASCAR drivers and the heritage of the sport is unprecedented. It's a great way to celebrate our sport and the people who made it what it is today. It's pretty neat to see all the sponsors and teams really get into it."