Ben Kennedy leads both XFINITY Series practices in Iowa
Practice 1 results " Practice 2 results Ben Kennedy topped the leaderboard in Friday’s final XFINITY Series practice at Iowa Speedway at 133.809 mph in the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Kennedy , who is making his XFINITY Series debut in Sunday’s American Ethanol E15 250 (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), also led Friday’s first practice, for a practice-session sweep. RELATED: Decker sisters attempting NXS debut In the final practice, Brendan Gaughan was second-fastest in the No. 62 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet at 132.542 mph. Rounding out the top five were Sam Hornish Jr . in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Erik Jones in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, and Alex Bowman in the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. Teammates Suarez and Jones made contact about midway through the second practice, causing some damage to both the front bumper of Suarez’s No. 19 Toyota and to the rear bumper of Jones’s No. 20 Toyota. Both were able to continue. Just a couple hours earlier, Kennedy led the first practice at 132.448 mph, followed by Hornish Jr. at 131.772 mph. Rounding out the top five in that session were Jones , Elliott Sadler in the No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, and XFINITY Series points leader and recent race winner Daniel Suarez in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Ben Kennedy makes special visit to Michigan elementary school
Bristol NCWTS winner, Ben Kennedy , along with Michigan International Speedway and NASCAR Acceleration Nation pay a visit to Ezra Eby Elementary School near MIS to educate fourth and fifth graders about the science behind racing.
Alex Tagliani wins XFINITY pole at Road America
RELATED: Starting lineup Alex Tagliani won the Coors Light Pole Award at Road America on Friday in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Tagliani wheeled his No. 22 Team Penske Ford around the 4.05-mile road course at a top speed of 109.866 mph. That was better than Michael McDowell l, who finished second in his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet at 109.561 mph. For Tagliani, it was his fourth pole win in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and his second at Road America . Justin Marks (No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet), Owen Kelly (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) and Daniel Suarez (No. 19 JGR Toyota) rounded out the top five qualifiers. Alon Day, who hails from Israel, is a NASCAR Next driver and is driving the MBM Motorsports No. 13 Dodge, found trouble in Round 1 of qualifying when he went into the sand trap off Turn 12 (of 14) with just over 16 minutes remaining in the opening session. The incident brought out a red flag. Another red flag came out during Round 1 when Josh Bilicki, who was driving the No. 77 Obaika Racing Chevrolet, spun coming off Turn 1, slid through the sand trap and impacted the tire barrier. The Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville gets underway at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and marks the third road-course race in four events for the series.
Harraka and Kennedy rough first start
Paulie Harraka and Alex Kennedy get together before rolling off for the warm up laps in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.
The Rundown: Watkins Glen driver grades
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International : 1. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Six weeks after making a mistake on the final turn at Sonoma that cost him his first road-course victory, Hamlin triumphs at Watkins Glen. This time, he capitalized on the mistakes of others and led the final 10 laps for his second victory of the season. Grade: A+ 2. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Despite a pit-road speeding penalty on Lap 34 and right-front damage, Logano worked his way back through the field for his fourth consecutive top 10 at Watkins Glen. Grade: A 3. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski and Kyle Busch restarted in the front row with 10 laps to go, but both overshot Turn 1 opening the door for Denny Hamlin . That wasn't Keselowski's final mistake. Running third entering the final turn, he turned second-place Martin Truex Jr . when a crossover move went awry. Grade: B 4. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Sunday was a day of extreme highs and lows for Allmendinger. A pit-road speeding penalty on Lap 26 cost him terrific track position. Then he just missed getting collected in the big wreck on Lap 54. But instead of being elated for tying a personal best with his second top five of the season, he was disconsolate after punting Kyle Larson just before the finish line. "I turned him," said Allmendinger, searching for words. "Not on purpose. ... I'm not very happy with myself on that. I don't want to do that, especially for fourth place at the end. … I just cost Kyle a good finish. I'm just pissed off at myself." More on Larson's 29th-place finish later. Grade: B 5. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart posted his eighth top-five finish in his 16th and final start at Watkins Glen. It also was his fifth top five in his past seven starts. Stewart is smokin'. Grade: A 6. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch was in prime position to vie for his third victory at Watkins Glen when he restarted from the front row with 10 laps to go. Instead, he overshot the first turn along with race leader Brad Keselowski , handing an opportunity to Hamlin. Grade: A- 7. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Truex was running second coming to the final turn when he was turned by Brad Keselowski . The two talked after the race. "He said it was his fault," Truex said. "I said, 'I knew that.' Simple as that." Pretty much sums up Truex's sixth top 10 in 11 starts at Watkins Glen. Grade: A 8. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Big, big day for McMurray, whose finish -- his first top 10 at the Glen since 2010 -- was ahead of all his competition on the Chase bubble. Grade: A 9. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne was another bubble winner. He climbed a spot in the Chase standings to 17th, but more important, he picked up 20 points on 16th-place Kyle Larson and now trails Larson by eight points with four races to go before the Chase field is set. Grade: A 10. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . How's this for tidy? Making his 600th start, Kenseth posted his 300th top 10. Grade: A 11. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch had a solid finish, but it was no match for his Olympic Team USA-inspired shoes. Grade: US-B 12. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears weaved his way through the carnage of the big wreck on Lap 54 to tie his best finish of the season (12th last month at Daytona). Grade: A 13. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott stemmed his recent string of bad finishes with his best finish since coming in second at Michigan two months ago. Grade: B 14. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon overcame heavy damage to the nose of the No. 88 on Lap 4 and later just missed getting collected by Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s spinning car in the big wreck on Lap 54 to post his second top 15 in three starts since coming out of retirement to sub for Dale Earnhardt Jr . Grade: B 15. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards started from the pole and led the first 25 laps but was hit with a penalty on his first pit stop for a wayward tire. Being deep in the field with a fast car is not where you want to be on a road course, and Edwards paid for it when he was collected in a wreck with 34 laps to go. Grade: B- 16. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman was running 20th on the restart after the sixth caution when the No. 31 got loose and spun out. Attrition helped Newman record his sixth top-16 finish in his past seven starts at Watkins Glen. Grade: B- 17. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell recorded his best finish in eight starts at Watkins Glen and his third-best finish this season. Grade: A 18. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer suffered front-end damage in a wreck with 34 laps to go but still posted one of his better finishes of the season. Grade: B 19. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney remained in the thick of the Chase race despite a pit-road speeding penalty on Lap 22 and running off the track into the grass 20 laps later. Grade: C 20. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne simply was not competitive, and a penalty because the No. 5 crew was over the wall too soon on the first caution didn't help. But the numbers don't lie: Kahne spent a grand total of three laps in the top 15. Still, Kahne is only 10 points behind Kyle Larson for 16th in the Chase standings. Grade: C- 21. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick led a career-high 11 laps (previous best was seven at Talladega in October 2014), but she was running in her normal midpack position when she was caught up in Paul Menard 's dirt storm on Lap 84 and sustained heavy damage. Grade: B- 22. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Speaking of Menard ... the No. 27 team was penalized for throwing its fuel can on Lap 49, but the team's biggest faux pas came when its driver ran off the course on Lap 84 and spewed dirt onto the track, forcing enough cars behind him to drive blindly and lose grip to cause a seven-car wreck, bringing out the eighth caution and second red flag of the day. Grade: D 23. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Despite spinning out in the grass in the bus stop and bringing out the fifth caution for the debris he left on the track, Cassill tied his best finish at Watkins Glen. Grade: C 24. Boris Said , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . It wouldn't be Watkins Glen without Boris Said in the field. Making his 16th start at The Glen, Said posted his 10th top-25 finish. Grade: C 25. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott's first Sprint Cup start at Watkins Glen produced a better finish than the first Glen starts of Kyle Busch (33rd), Jeff Gordon (31st), Kurt Busch (29th) and Martin Truex Jr . (28th). That's something to hang your helmet on. Grade: B 26. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise got his best finish in three starts at Watkins Glen. He finished 38th in the previous two (2012, 2014). Grade: B 27. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . A pit-road penalty on the No. 43 team for being over the wall too soon on the first pit stop and the wreck on Paul Menard 's dirt spray contributed to Almirola's worst finish at Watkins Glen since 2013. Grade: C- 28. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Witt could not improve on his 21st-place finish last year at Watkins Glen despite starting 22nd. Grade: C 29. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson was easily the biggest loser Sunday. He had a fourth-place finish in the bag until he was punted by AJ Allmendinger short of the finish line. Instead his car hit the wall and was destroyed. The 24-point difference between fifth and 29th has huge Chase implications. As it stands, Larson is 16th in the Chase standings but by a mere eight points over Trevor Bayne . And as far as moving up, Larson is 30 points behind Jamie McMurray instead of five. (Larson would have finished ahead of McMurray, dropping him to ninth Sunday.) As for the apologetic Allmendinger, he "has got a few coming," Larson said. Grade: A 30. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . A big mistake (pit-road penalty for tossing a fuel can) and bad luck (getting caught up in Paul Menard 's dirt storm) were tempered because the driver he's competing with for 30th in the points standings, David Ragan , also was collected in the Lap 84 wreck. At one point Sunday, Buescher was 13 points behind Ragan. Because of the wreck, he finished the day three back with four races remaining to get into the top 30 and qualify for the Chase. Grade: C 31. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon was involved in two wrecks (Lap 4 and Lap 54), with the latter bringing out the first red flag and being a difference maker for the No. 3 team. When Dillon returned to the track, all the sheet metal from the front of the car was gone, but with a spot in the Chase on the line, every point matters. He dropped two spots to 14th in the Chase standings but caught a big break when Kyle Larson was wrecked. Dillon leads 16th-place Larson by 39 points. Grade: C- 32. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick was running third with 30 laps to go when he went to pit road because of a flat-spotted tire. He came out 33rd, the last car on the lead lap. The extra pit stop made him vulnerable to midpack mishaps, and that's exactly what happened when his car was destroyed in the wake of the Paul Menard dirt storm. Grade: C 33. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan was collected in two wrecks, with the final melee delivering a knockout blow. Ragan's welfare is of great importance to drivers on the Chase bubble. If Chris Buescher , with one win, replaces Ragan in 30th in the standings, the winless driver 16th in the Chase standings will need a win to qualify for the postseason. Grade: C 34. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . Sunday wasn't one of DiBenedetto's better days. He sustained a pit-road penalty, went for a spin on the Lap 81 restart and then absorbed his sixth DNF of the season because of a crash when he was caught up in the Lap 84 mess. On the other hand, he spent the fourth-most laps running in the top 15 of the drivers who finished 21st through 40th. Grade: D 35. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Car woes limited Smith to 77 laps. Grade: D 36. Alex Kennedy , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Kennedy was caught up in the wreck that caused the fourth caution, and he brought out the sixth caution when his engine blew 20 laps later. Grade: F 37. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett was running at the finish, but brake issues limited him to 77 laps. Grade: F 38. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse was driving aggressively after the restart following the second caution and touched off the big crash on Lap 53 when he lost control of his car coming out of the carrousel heading into Turn 6. The No. 17 hit the inside wall straight on and then took another big hit when Jimmie Johnson T-boned the car when it ricocheted back onto the track. Grade: F 39. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle's day ended in the big crash on Lap 53. He said he thought he had cleared Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s car but was hit from behind by Austin Dillon . Wrong place, wrong time. Grade: D 40. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson paid dearly for an early pit-road speeding penalty that put him in the back of the field when he was collected in the big wreck on Lap 53. It was Johnson's fourth DNF for a crash in the past nine races. Grade: F
NASCAR Nation congratulates Ben Kennedy on first win
MORE: Race results " Standings " Chase Grid Ben Kennedy , great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France and son of Lesa France Kennedy , CEO of International Speedway Corporation and Vice Chairperson of NASCAR, won his first career NASCAR national series race on Wednesday night, picking up the victory in the Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway . The GMS Racing driver received a flood of attention on Twitter, where NASCAR Nation was quick to congratulate him on the momentous occasion. SO excited for @BenKennedy33 ! Wins Bristol and off to the Chase! pic.twitter.com/2rOWdmYStW — Lesa Kennedy (@LesaISC) August 18, 2016 @BenKennedy33 congrats — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) August 18, 2016 So happy for you @BenKennedy33 Big win @BMSupdates buddy! Great driving under intense pressure from @Brett_Moffitt Awesome job boys. — Michael Waltrip (@MW55) August 18, 2016 Good for you @BenKennedy33 ! — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) August 18, 2016 Hell yea so happy for @BenKennedy33 great dude awesome win! — Ty Dillon (@tydillon) August 18, 2016 Congrats @BenKennedy33 ! — Chase Elliott (@chaseelliott) August 18, 2016 All in all...nice win @BenKennedy33 !Nice job @BMSupdates with the track! Gonna be interesting Friday n Saturday night! — Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) August 18, 2016 Well that got the ol ticker beating kinda fast. Congrats @BenKennedy33 .... great job @Brett_Moffitt and @DanielHemric — Corey LaJoie (@CoreyLaJoie) August 18, 2016 Pretty impressive job @BenKennedy33 to hold on for the win. Nice work @Brett_Moffitt — Ryan Truex (@Ryan_Truex) August 18, 2016 Congrats @BenKennedy33 nice win! you are in the Chase. Great racing way to be smooth. Great spotting and coaching @jimmyk146 — Todd Bodine (@Team_Onion) August 18, 2016 Awesome job @BenKennedy33 !!! @NASCAR_Trucks — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) August 18, 2016 Congrats @BenKennedy33 , enjoy it bud! Props to @Brett_Moffitt , made the most out of tonight's opportunity. — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) August 18, 2016 Congrats on the win @BenKennedy33 well deserved! @NASCAR — Austin Dillon (@austindillon3) August 18, 2016 Congrats @BenKennedy33 ...Victory Lane at @BMSupdates is hard to beat. @NASCAR_Trucks — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) August 18, 2016
Betty Jane France passes away
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2016) -- Betty Jane France, a philanthropist in support of children's health causes, passed away Monday evening. France is the mother of NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy . A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the former Betty Jane Zachary was the widow of the late NASCAR Chairman and CEO William C. France, who passed away in 2007. Betty Jane France was executive vice president and assistant treasurer of NASCAR and the chairwoman emeritus of the NASCAR Foundation. "Last night, the NASCAR family lost a mother, a grandmother, a friend and the light that guided the sport's charitable arm," said Brian France. "My mother taught us incredible values, that of love, patience, compassion and joy. She embraced life every day, and nothing fueled her passion more than children. Her unmatched efforts in building The NASCAR Foundation improved the lives of millions of children throughout this country. And because of that, her legacy will live forever. "My father leaned on my mother throughout his life, relying on her wisdom and calming demeanor to help grow the sport of NASCAR. She was there, every step of the way. When we lost my father, her positive presence remained, as she used her immense skill to grow NASCAR's heart and soul, The NASCAR Foundation. "Our family thanks you for all of your thoughts, prayers and well wishes. My mother was a special woman, and an impressive person, and she will be dearly missed." France became chairwoman of The NASCAR Foundation upon the foundation's inception in 2006. Headquartered in Daytona Beach, the foundation is an entity that embodies the compassion of the NASCAR Family and its commitment to serving communities. MORE: Learn more about the NASCAR Foundation The Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide, recognizing outstanding charitable and volunteer efforts of NASCAR fans, was created in her honor in 2011. France was a longtime community leader in Daytona Beach, Florida and best known as a steadfast champion of health care for children. She assisted in the establishment of "Speediatrics" children's care unit at Halifax Health in Daytona Beach and at Homestead Hospital in Homestead, Florida. In 2003, France was presented the Halifax Medical Center Foundation’s Humanitarian Award in recognition of her advocacy, commitment, support and advancement of numerous area community service organizations including the Volusia/Flagler chapter of the American Red Cross. She was a member of the Junior League of Daytona Beach serving on boards of numerous area community service organizations. In July 2008, she was named as an honorary co-chairperson for the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma, a project headed by longtime NASCAR team owner Richard Childress in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.
The Rundown: Michigan driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway : 1. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Twice, Larson had to overcome problems on pit road. Twice, Larson beat Chase Elliott on restarts from the front row. The second one, with 10 laps to go, was the difference. Larson gets his first Sprint Cup win in his 99th start and his ticket punched to the Chase. Well done. Grade: A 2. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Restarts, restarts, restarts. Elliott lost the first race at Michigan because of poor restarts and it happened again Sunday. And just like in June, Elliott finished second. Grade : A- 3. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . The native of Michigan posted his sixth straight top 10 at his home track but to his chagrin remained winless in the Irish Hills. Grade: A 4. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney needs a win to make the Chase, and he drove like it Sunday, posting his first top 10 in 10 races. Grade: A 5. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick led 33 laps, and his 3.56 averaging running position topped the field. Grade: A 6. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson was a factor -- and the leader -- until his green-flag pit stop on Lap 109. But his gas man had trouble refueling the No. 48, and from that point forward Johnson was playing catchup. His 37 laps led were second to Kyle Larson ’s 41. Grade: A- 7. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards now has two wins, seven top fives and 15 top 10s in 2016. That’s what he had all of last season. Grade: A 8. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray finished eighth for the third consecutive week. He holds the last spot in the Chase standings by 15 points over Ryan Newman with two races to go before the field is set. Grade: A 9. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin’s sixth straight top-10 finish is the longest active streak. Grade: A 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . All of the polesitter’s strength came at the start of the race. A slow final pit stop left him 17th on the last restart. Grade: A- 11. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle had a nice finish, but he was never a factor. Only Kyle Busch ’s 26 laps in the top 15 were fewer than Biffle’s 44 among drivers who finished in the top 20. Grade: B 12. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Borrowing a page from Greg Biffle … Busch was not a factor, either, and only his brother’s 24.84 average running position was worse than his 17.34 among drivers who finished in the top 20. Grade: B 13. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . In the first 12 races of the season, Kenseth led 398 laps. In the next 12, 79 laps, including eight Sunday, his first laps led since his victory last month at New Hampshire. Grade: B 14. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne is going to need a win -- or a miracle -- to make the Chase field. He trails Jamie McMurray by 52 points for the final Chase-eligible spot after finishing outside the top 10 for the eighth straight race. Grade: B 15. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger finished in the top 15 in four consecutive races for the first time since the end of the 2011 season. Grade: B 16. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon is 15th in the Chase standings with a 21-point cushion over Ryan Newman in 17th. Grade: B 17. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman should consider himself fortunate to be only 15 points out of 16th with two races to go for the Chase field is set -- he hasn’t had a top-10 finish in his past five races. Grade: B- 18. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Regular readers of The Rundown know we have been enthralled by Menard’s propensity to finish 18th. He racked up his sixth of the season Sunday. Grade: C 19. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch's troubles at Michigan continued when he got loose in Turn 4 on the 26th lap and went for a spin. His average finish in his past seven starts at Michigan is 32.0 with one finish on the lead lap -- and it wasn't Sunday. Grade: C 20. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Truex's shot at winning or having a top finish ended on Lap 66 when the jack man lowered the car before the left rear tire was changed. The damaged left-rear quarter panel was an issue the rest of the day. Grade: C- 21. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . The driver with a win and five top fives in a seven-race stretch has finished 30th and 21st in his past two races. Is the mojo gone? Grade: C 22. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears finished outside the top 10 at Michigan for the 13th consecutive race. Grade: C 23. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . This marks the first time in Patrick's four full-time Sprint Cup seasons she has not finished in the top 20 in at least one of the two Michigan races. She finished 21st in June. Grade: C 24. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne went into last week's race at Bristol eight points out of the final Chase spot. He leaves Michigan 58 points back. Grade: C 25. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Michigan is one of two tracks on which Almirola has made at least 10 starts and has yet to post a top 10. (The other is Pocono.) Grade: C- 26. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith posted his best finish at Michigan since a career-best 13th in August of 2011. Grade: C 27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Since scoring a career-best 15th at Michigan in August 2014, Stenhouse's finishes at the 2-mile track are 25th, 26th, 29th and 27th. Grade: C- 28. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Sunday’s race was something to build on: In his first race at Michigan in June, Scott left with a 36th-place finish and a DNF (crash). Grade: C 29. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Because of Ragan's proximity to Chris Buescher in the standings, he will continue to be one of the most-watched drivers through Richmond. On Sunday, Ragan took a nibble out of Buescher's points lead and is now seven points behind Buescher for 30th in the standings. Grade: C 30. Alex Bowman , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Bowman started sixth and was running in the top five when the car’s ignition failed. A day of promise ended right there, and Dale Earnhardt Jr .’s replacement finished five laps back. Grade: D 31. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell won Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Road America , but his string of top-20 Sprint Cup finishes ended at a season-best two. Grade: D 32. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto battled brake issues all day. Grade: D 33. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . A blown tire brought out the fourth and final caution, and Annett finished five laps back. Grade: D 34. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Whitt produced his worst finish in six starts at Michigan. Grade: D 35. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . With so much at stake, the No. 34 team could not afford the engine woes that dumped Buescher to 35th -- he finished 20th at Michigan in June -- but at least he didn’t finish last. Those extra five points might make the difference between making the Chase and major disappointment. Another positive takeaway: David Ragan could muster only a 29th-place finish. Grade: F 36. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson finished seven laps off the pace. Grade: D 37. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . Earnhardt had an accident in practice and was in a backup car. He finished eight laps back. Grade: D 38. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise's finish was his worst at Michigan since a 39th-place run in August 2013. Grade: F 39. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Suspension woes limited Cassill to 174 laps and left him with his first DNF of the season. Grade: F 40. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer said before the race he had his best car of the year. Yikes! Vibrations sent the No. 15 behind the wall, but Bowyer avoided a DNF, although he did finish 40 laps off the pace. Grade: F
Ben Kennedy picks up first career win in Bristol thriller
MORE: Race results " Standings " Chase Grid BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Ben Kennedy took the lead from William Byron with 20 laps to go in Wednesday night's UNOH 200 and later withstood an intense six-lap shootout with Brett Moffitt to earn his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Bristol Motor Speedway . With his triumph in his 63rd career series start, Kennedy , the great-grandson of NASCAR Founder Bill France Sr. and son of Lesa France Kennedy , CEO of International Speedway Corporation and Vice Chairperson of NASCAR, became the first France family member to win a NASCAR national series race. "I can't put it into words," Kennedy said. "Someone asked me earlier today what it's like going to Bristol for your first time, and to win here is just so cool. I'm speechless. The guys gave me an awesome truck. Everyone at GMS Racing, Jacob Companies, the fans in the stands, everybody watching on TV, gosh this is just the coolest day of my life." With two laps to go, Moffitt, driving the No. 11 Toyota Tundra -- the truck piloted earlier this season by Kennedy -- gave the Daytona Beach, Florida, native a shot in the bumper, but Kennedy refused to be rattled and stretched his lead to 0.274 seconds at the checkered flag. "I was just thinking, 'Go as fast as possible on this last lap,' " Kennedy said. "I knew Brett was putting pressure on me from behind. I appreciate him racing me clean. This is just so cool." Moffitt, who earned a career-best second-place finish, didn't have quite enough for Kennedy's No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado when it counted most. RELATED: First NCWTS win still a blur for Kennedy "We had a good truck, a strong truck all day," Moffitt said. "We ran top-five, top-10 most of it. He had just enough to get away from us on that last restart. After that, we got to him once but couldn't get around." Although Bristol has been widely known for its bump-and-run racing, Moffitt, continuing to fill in for the recovering Matt Tifft , said he tried once, but couldn't get to Kennedy to try again. "I'm going to race people the way I want to be raced," he said. "It is Bristol, so if you need to move someone, you got to move them. I just wasn't quite good enough in the center to get to him. He slipped up a few times and I was able to get to his bumper once, but didn't get to him hard enough. I was really waiting for him to make a mistake so I could shove my nose in there, but he executed when he needed to. He hit his marks and I just wasn't able to get to him." With the victory, Kennedy virtually secures a spot in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase with three races remaining in the regular season. "We put this deal together (with GMS Racing) a couple months ago and I never imagined -- I never would have imagined going into this race that we would be here today," Kennedy said. "I thought we were a top-15 truck or a top-10 truck, but to actually be here in Victory Lane means the world to me." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Engine issue hinders Bowman, No. 88 early
RELATED: Michigan results The Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet team encountered early trouble Sunday at Michigan International Speedway , going to the garage with engine issues that would ruin any chance at victory. Alex Bowman , subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr . this weekend as he recovers from concussion-related symptoms, radioed his crew just short of the 50-lap mark of the Pure Michigan 400 to report a sour engine. Bowman -- who started sixth in the 40-car field -- steadily lost ground, eventually falling off the lead lap on the 54th of 200 laps. Bowman made the hard turn toward the garage for repairs, returning to the race five laps down. Crew chief Greg Ives told Bowman that the malady was "just a wire," and the car returned to a competitive pace despite the deficit. Bowman finished 30th, five laps down. Bowman -- a NASCAR XFINITY Series regular for JR Motorsports -- made his second fill-in start for Earnhardt, who has missed the last six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Jeff Gordon , an Earnhardt substitute for four races this season, will return to the wheel of the No. 88 for this weekend's Bojangles' Southern 500 (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM) at Darlington Raceway . Gordon, a four-time premier series champ who emerged from retirement to fill in, is a seven-time winner at the historic 1.366-mile track. The Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 will carry a "Gray Ghost" throwback paint scheme at Darlington in a tribute to NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Buddy Baker.