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Chase by the Numbers: Dover
Here's all the info you need to know for the first cutoff race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, including some surprising statistics for two of the first-time Chase competitors.
Thunder in the hills: North Wilkesboro, 20 years later
NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. -- Paint peels and memories fade but the echoes of the past still ring off the hillsides here. Twenty years ago today, the checkered flag fell on the final NASCAR premier series race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Bob Flock won the first race, in 1949 and on dirt. Jeff Gordon won the last, in 1996 and on asphalt. The two races serve as bookends for a track that even after 20 years of silence serves as a reminder of the sport's colorful past. For 48 years and 93 races, NASCAR teams made the trek to the secluded .625-mile track in the Brushy Mountains of northwestern North Carolina. "It's one of the sport's most historic tracks, one that really helped put NASCAR on the map," car owner Richard Childress said. "A lot of people overlook that. But a lot of great things happened there. (Former series sponsor) R.J. Reynolds really supported it; Holly Farms back in the day … all those things were important to building our sport to what it is today." Built by Wilkes County resident Enoch Staley and partners Lawson Curry and Jack and Charlie Combs, North Wilkesboro Speedway was a venue unlike any other -- in part because the front straightaway ran slightly downhill and the backstretch uphill. It opened in 1947, two years before the debut of NASCAR's Strictly Stock Series, and hosted its first NASCAR premier series event in October of '49. The Wilkes 200 featured a 22-car field and was the final race of the inaugural season for NASCAR's new featured series. Flock won the race but it was Red Byron, finishing 16th, who captured the series' first championship. RELATED: Veterans share fond memories of track
Heads up: Dover and Las Vegas weekend
Here are the hot topics, trending news and key story lines to get you ready for this weekend's races at Dover International Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway . WEATHER The weekend forecast for Dover, Delaware, looks like there's a chance for rain. Friday for Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole qualifying there is a 60 percent chance for precipitation. For the XFINITY Series race on Saturday, there is an 50 percent chance for precipitation with a high of 76 degrees. And for the Sprint Cup race on Sunday, there's a 30 percent chance for precipitation and a high of 76 degrees. For Las Vegas, site of this weekend's Camping World Truck Series events, it will be clear and 70 degrees for the start of Saturday's practices. And on Saturday it will be clear and 90 degrees for the start of the race. KEY TIMES Sprint Cup Series: The Sprint Cup Series holds its first practice Friday at 10 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App) followed by Coors Light Pole qualifying at 3:40 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App). The Citizen Soldier 400 is at 2 p.m. ET Sunday (NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). XFINITY Series: The XFINITY Series opens practice on Friday at 11:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App) and qualifies Saturday at 11:45 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App). The Drive Sober 300 is on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Camping World Truck Series: The Camping World Truck Series is scheduled for a Keystone Light Pole qualifying session Saturday at 6:10 p.m. ET on FS2, followed by the DC Solar 350 race at 8:30 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). CATCH DRIVERS LIVE We'll stream every driver press conference in the Dover media center at NASCAR.com/presspass. Click here for a full schedule. Click here to tune into the live stream . LAST TIME In September of 2015, Kevin Harvick punched his ticket to advance to the next round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by leading 355 of 400 laps at Dover International Speedway , a career-best at any track. Harvick beat out eventual 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch by 2.639 seconds for the victory. YOU SHOULD KNOW • Chris Buescher (-30 from 12th place), Tony Stewart (-11), Austin Dillon (-5) and Jamie McMurray (-5) are all on the outside looking in as far as the Chase Grid standings are concerned. Of those drivers, Stewart is the only one who has won at the "Monster Mile" -- three times to be exact. Stewart's most recent win came in 2013. • With 10 wins, six-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has been to Dover's Victory Lane more times than any NASCAR driver. Johnson is looking to punch his ticket to the next Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup round and a win at his best track could be in the cards. • Winning the opening XFINITY Series Chase race at Kentucky, Elliott Sadler continues his momentum to Dover where he has earned three top five and 10 top-10 finishes, two of which came in the last two XFINITY Series races at the 1-mile track. Sadler's experience in 17 starts at Dover could shine through on Saturday compared to the young guns he's competing against for the championship. • Of the Camping World Truck Series Chase drivers, only Johnny Sauter and Timothy Peters have wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Canadian Tire Motorsport Park winner John Hunter Nemechek has the best average finish of 4.0 out of the Truck Series Chase drivers. Behind Nemechek is Ben Kennedy with 5.0. Nemechek has run just one Truck Series race at Dover, while Kennedy has experienced two. In 15 starts, two-time Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton has an average finish of 11.9, but is still seeking a win.
Sprint Cup qualifying canceled at Dover; Keselowski on pole
RELATED: Complete Dover lineup " See the field " Updated Chase Grid Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session at Dover International Speedway was canceled because of rain. The lineup was set according to the NASCAR rule book, putting Brad Keselowski on the pole for Sunday's Citizen Solider 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Martin Truex Jr ., in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota, will start on the front row alongside the No. 2 Team Penske Ford. "We earned it because, obviously, we've been having a great season, maybe not with what we've done on track today, but with what we've done throughout the course of the year in scoring a lot of points and winning races," Keselowski said. "But it's certainly still something to be very proud of, to be this far into the season and be in the points lead. These are the perks you get when you're in that position. We'll take it, and of course, being up front gives us a very advantageous pit road selection for this race, which I think is very critical." The three-round, group qualifying effort at the 1-mile concrete oval was scheduled to begin at 3:40 p.m. ET, but wet weather delayed that schedule. This marks the third straight Sprint Cup event at Dover that qualifying has been washed out by rain. Kevin Harvick , Paul Menard , Michael Annett , AJ Allmendinger and Jeff Gordon will select pit stalls for Sunday's race last as their respective teams received a fourth written warning from NASCAR. Sunday's Citizen Soldier 400 is the final event in the 10-race Chase's opening Round of 16. The results will determine which 12 drivers remain championship-eligible and which four fail to advance in the postseason. Kyle Larson holds the final transfer spot entering the Dover race with a five-point lead over Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates teammate Jamie McMurray and Richard Childress Racing 's Austin Dillon . Larson will start 12th, with McMurray and Dillon directly behind him in 13th and 14th, respectively. The second of two NASCAR XFINITY Series practices was cut short by rain. The practice lasted about nearly half of its scheduled 85 minutes before being put on hold and eventually called due to rain. Contributing: NASCAR Wire Service &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Full schedule for Chicagoland
RELATED: Find NBCSN in your area " Watch live online at NBCSports.com The NASCAR Sprint Cup , XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series will gather for a tripleheader showing at Chicagoland Speedway this weekend. Check out the full schedule below. Note: All times are ET SUNDAY, SEPT. 18: 2:00 p.m.: NSCS Driver Introductions. 2:30 p.m.: Intro Presentation of Colors: 347 th Fighter Squadron Honor Guard. 2:30 p.m.: Invocation by : Michael McDowell , Driver of the No. 95 Thrivent Financial Chevrolet. 2:31 p.m.: National Anthem: Jim Cornelison. 2:37 p.m.: "Driver's, Start Your Engines" by : Greg Cipes, Voice of Michelangelo, TMNT and The Kids of NASCAR 2:46 p.m.: Start of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 (267 Laps, 400.5 Miles), NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Results ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 5:15 p.m.: Post-NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race DAILY ROUND-UP -- Late pit stop propels Truex Jr. to victory -- Chase bubble after Chicagoland -- Truex, Johnson fail post-race inspection -- Speeding penalty plagues "Six-Time" -- Bridesmaid baton to Elliott at Chicago -- Unfortunate timing for Harvick at Chicago -- Smith, wife welcome baby girl -- Harvick, Larson to start race from the rear -- At-track photos: Sunday at Chicagoland -- Dillon to sub for Smith in No. 7 at Chicago THURSDAY, SEPT. 15: ON TRACK -- 4-4:55 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series first practice ( Results ) -- 6:30-7:25 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final practice ( Results ) LIVE EVENTS ( Watch live ) -- 3:05 p.m.: Live driver interviews at Ready. Set. Chase. launch events DAILY ROUNDUP -- What to watch for at Chicago -- Key fantasy advice for the Chase opener -- NASCAR updates rules for Chase -- Cain: Don't forget about Larson in the Chase -- Twitter handles to replace driver names on windshields in the Chase -- Harvick explains bull tweet during media day -- Stewart reveals he can't tie a tie -- Gordon texted apology to Elliott after incident -- Stewart on Newman's fiery comments: 'I don't blame him' -- Best quotes from Chase Media Day -- As sun sets on Stewart, Elliott's time to shine brightening -- Townley tops opening Trucks practice at Chicago -- Hemric holds the power in final practice FRIDAY, SEPT. 16: ON TRACK -- 12:30-1:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series first practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER -- 3:15-4:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, NBC Sports App ( Results ) -- 4:45 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 ( Results ) -- 6:45 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN/NBC Sports App CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER ( Results ) -- 6:45-7:45 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, NBCSN ( Results ) -- 8:30 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series American Ethanol E15 225 (150 laps, 225 miles), FS1 ( Results ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 11 a.m.: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles race team introduction -- 11:15 a.m.: Blake Koch , Ryan Sieg and Dakoda Armstrong -- 11:30 a.m.: Daniel Hemric , Timothy Peters and Cole Custer -- 11:45 a.m.: Justin Allgaier -- 12:30 p.m.: Matt Tifft -- 1:15 p.m.: Joliet Township announcement -- 10:15 p.m.: Post-NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race GARAGECAM ( Watch live ) -- Noon: XFINITY Series -- 1 p.m.: Sprint Cup Series DAILY ROUNDUP -- SHR names Custer as driver for 2017 XFINITY team -- Rain shortens on-track activity at Chicagoland -- Stewart, Newman meet with NASCAR at Chicagoland -- See photos from Friday at Chicago -- Busch on pole for Sunday's race -- Johnson leads opening practice at Chicagoland -- See lineup, team info. for Sunday's race -- 2016 Truck Series Chase field set -- 'Rowdy' wins at Truck race at Chicagoland -- Peters perserveres to make Chase, Hayley misses out -- Meet all eight of the Truck Series Chase drivers SATURDAY, SEPT. 17: -- 10:30-11:25 a.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series second practice, CNBC/NBC Sports App ( Results ) -- 11:45 a.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Results ) -- 1:30-2:20 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Results ) -- 3 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive for Safety 300 ( 200 laps, 300 miles), NBC/NBC Sports App ( Results ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 5 p.m.: Post-NASCAR XFINITY Series race DAILY ROUNDUP -- NXS Chase field set at Chicagoland -- Meet the 2016 NXS Chase field -- Jones holds off Larson for NXS Chicagoland win -- NASCAR.com staff picks for Cup Chase -- Larson sweeps Cup Chicagoland Saturday practices -- Busch's winning Truck fails post-race inspection -- Busch on the pole for NXS race -- RCR names Hemric to full-time NXS ride -- At-track photos: Saturday at Chicagoland -- Bandaged hand won't keep Kennedy from Chase -- 2016 Cup Chase timeline &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Multicultural, female drivers eye spot in diversity developmental program
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 29, 2016) -- Seventeen drivers from across the country will compete for spots in the top driver development program in motorsports, NASCAR Drive for Diversity, during a national tryout at Florida's New Smyrna Speedway from Oct. 10-12. The 13th annual NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine invites promising ethnically diverse and female drivers from across North and South America to test their skills over a three-day period as NASCAR evaluates talent for the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Class of 2017. "This year's NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine will feature some incredible talent and we’re excited to watch these young drivers compete," said Dawn Harris, NASCAR director, multicultural development. "NASCAR's first-class development program has produced the likes of Kyle Larson , Daniel Suárez and Darrell Wallace Jr ., so it will be fun to see who rises to the top at New Smyrna." In partnership with Rev Racing, NASCAR Drive for Diversity offers racing opportunities in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All- American Series for one full season, providing drivers with equipment, mentoring, and competition experience. "This is an unbelievable opportunity for these up-and-coming drivers; something I am very proud to be a part of for the sixth-consecutive year," said Jefferson Hodges, Rev Racing director of competition. "To see past Drive for Diversity participants compete across all three NASCAR national series speaks volumes for the solid foundation Rev Racing provides these drivers in their budding careers." This year, there are 13 female drivers competing for spots with Rev Racing. Returning this fall is Macy Causey, who at 14 years old was the youngest combine participant in NASCAR Drive for Diversity history in 2015. Also participating is Hailie Deegan, daughter of Brian Deegan, the most decorated athlete in freestyle motocross history, and Hope Hornish, the niece of 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner and current NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Sam Hornish Jr . Drivers under consideration to return to the team in 2017, but who will not compete at the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine, include current NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All- American Series drivers: Jairo Avila, Enrique Baca, Collin Cabre, Madeline Crane, Ruben Garcia Jr, and Ali Kern. Collin’s brother, Chase Cabre, is also among the drivers selected to compete in this year's combine. Driver combine participants will be evaluated on their driving skills and take part in a physical fitness assessment and receive additional training at Bethune-Cookman University. The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine has proven successful in identifying and developing future stars of the sport. Current NASCAR Driver for Diversity members have garnered four Top-5's and 13 Top-10's combined in the NASCAR K&N East and NASCAR Whelen All- American Series this season and are looking to repeat last year’s season ending victory at Dover International Speedway . Program graduate, Kyle Larson , earned his first victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this year at Michigan International Speedway . Fellow graduate and NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Daniel Suárez this year became the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR national series race. Suárez and fellow NASCAR XFINITY driver Darrell Wallace Jr ., another NASCAR Drive for Diversity alumnus, are currently competing in the first NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase. Fans can follow the Combine live on Twitter at @NASCARDiversity and @RevRacing. Below are the invitees to the 2016 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine: First Last Age City State/Country Ali Kern* 23 Fremont Ohio Amber Balcaen 24 Winnipeg Canada Ariel Biggs 22 Castaic California Armani Williams 16 Grosse Point Michigan Chase Cabre 19 Tampa Florida Collin Cabre* 23 Tampa Florida Enrique Baca* 25 Monterrey Mexico Hailie Deegan 15 Temecula California Hannah Newhouse 19 Twin Falls Idaho Hope Hornish 19 Defiance Ohio Jairo Avila* 21 Alhambra California Jay Beasley 24 Las Vegas Nevada Kayli Barker 19 Las Vegas Nevada Luis Rodriguez 22 Miami Florida Macy Causey 15 Yorktown Virginia Madeline Crane* 18 Meansville Georgia McKenna Haase 19 Carlisle Iowa Nicole Behar 18 Otis Orchards Washington Reegan May 22 De Pere Wisconsin Ruben Garcia Jr.* 20 Mexico City Mexico Santiago Tovar 23 Mexico City Mexico Taylor Jorgensen 20 Stockbridge Georgia Walter Thomas III 18 Indianapolis Indiana * Current NASCAR Drive for Diversity drivers eligible for 2017 program; will attend but not compete in Combine
Dale Jr. watches dad's Monte Carlo take a lap; more from 'Dega trip
RELATED: See Dale Jr.'s day at Talladega Six-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Dale Earnhardt Jr . visited one of his favorite tracks Thursday for an action-packed day of greeting fans, mingling with the Alabama Gang, assisting the track with its landscaping duties and watching his father's No. 2 Chevrolet take a lap around the superspeedway. The Hendrick Motorsports wheelman, sidelined for the rest of the season by concussion-like symptoms, was welcomed by Alabama Gang members Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison and short-track legend Red Farmer as an honorary member of the group. The Alabama Gang, with deep roots in stock-car racing's early days, was the nickname earned by a group of notable NASCAR drivers -- the Allisons, Neil Bonnett, and Farmer among them -- with ties to the state. Talladega's back straightaway was named "The Alabama Gang Superstretch" in their honor in the spring of 2014. Although Dale Earnhardt was not a part of the group, he remained great friends with the drivers -- especially Bonnett, a fellow outdoorsman. The group paid tribute to the first-ballot NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee as Donnie Allison wheeled Earnhardt's famous No. 2 Monte Carlo around the 2.66-mile track. See glimpses from Dale Jr.'s day. We have a VERY special guest with us today surprising some awesome fans! Welcome back to 'Dega, @DaleJr ! pic.twitter.com/ibtEQnnAJ6 — TalladegaSuperspdwy (@TalladegaSuperS) September 29, 2016 . @DaleJr doing some track landscaping and surprising fans at @TalladegaSuperS . #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/ptrIfuXW8y — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) September 29, 2016 We have some REALLY cool stuff coming up with @DaleJr and the famed #AlabamaGang ! Keep an eye on Periscope & Facebook Live! pic.twitter.com/fT05pKOgrN — TalladegaSuperspdwy (@TalladegaSuperS) September 29, 2016 Donnie, Bobby and Red welcome @DaleJr as an OFFICIAL Honorary Member of the #AlabamaGang ! pic.twitter.com/JjCPAt99FJ — TalladegaSuperspdwy (@TalladegaSuperS) September 29, 2016 Dale Sr.'s No. 2 Monte Carlo rides again with Donnie Allison at the wheel! #AlabamaGang https://t.co/HeBNAtQWh8 — TalladegaSuperspdwy (@TalladegaSuperS) September 29, 2016 Good times today @TalladegaSuperS promoting the race with the Alabama Gang. Tickets are on sale for the race on October 23rd. pic.twitter.com/vm6OZFTslx — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 29, 2016 I remember this old thing. @TalladegaSuperS Hall of Fame. The carpet is teal, I kid you not. Great choice pops. pic.twitter.com/UMn4RAe34L — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 29, 2016 How cool to rename the MRN booth @TalladegaSuperS in honor of Barney Hall! pic.twitter.com/7u24pIDUnM — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 29, 2016 </p>
Stewart not interested in playing numbers game
RELATED: Updated Chase Grid " Who's on the bubble? " Series standings CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Crunch the numbers. Do the math. But don't bother telling Tony Stewart the potential scenarios required for him to advance to the Round of 12 in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . You'd be wasting your time and his time, too. The only scenario Stewart, 45 and three times a Sprint Cup Series champion, cares about is the one that ends with him and his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team celebrating in Victory Lane this weekend at Dover International Speedway . "All we can do is go out and do the best we can this weekend," Stewart said Wednesday during a daylong media stop in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. "It still amazes me how people can take something that's so simple and make it so complicated. 'Will we be watching where everybody else is?' "Well yeah, I can waste my time and do that but … I've got to focus on winning the race. Because if I win the race I don't have to worry about where they're at. But if I go and do everything I can to try and win the race and I finish second, then wherever they are is wherever they are. I can't control those guys on the race track so why focus your attention on it? It's a waste of time." The 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is the final one for Stewart. He'll remain involved in the series as co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing , which fields four Sprint Cup teams and one that will debut a NASCAR XFINITY Series entry next year. He's a track owner, team owner and competitor in other series -- some NASCAR-affiliated, some not -- as well. But his quest for a fourth title rests solely on the outcome of Sunday's Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). A 16-driver field that began the Chase two weeks ago will be trimmed to 12 after Dover, and Stewart will arrive Friday 15th on the Chase Grid. His approach to what could be his final race as a title contender will be no different than any other weekend. "There is no mindset to it," he said. "The most realistic mindset to go into it with is the same approach you go into it with every weekend of the year and that's to go try to win the race. If you don't, get the best finish you can get out of it. That's not glamorous and that's not what you want to hear … but it's literally that simple. Go try to win the race. Do everything you can to win the race. If you can't win the race, try to finish second. If you can't finish second, try to finish third. It is as simple as it can possibly get." That Stewart is in this predicament is something of a surprise, given the strong summer run that saw him collect six top-10 finishes, including a win at Sonoma , in eight races. The No. 14 team, headed up by crew chief Mike Bugarewicz, seemed primed for a possible run at yet another title. RELATED: See all of Stewart's victories But the results of the most recent six races weren't nearly as impressive, with no finish higher than 16th. "These things are such science projects," Stewart said of today's cars, "and pretty much the whole (SHR) organization fights the same thing. It's whichever one can find the solution first." Teammate Kevin Harvick has guaranteed himself a spot in the Round of 12 with a win this past weekend at New Hampshire and Kurt Busch can advance either by points, depending on his finish, or with a victory. Teammate Danica Patrick is the only SHR entry not in the Chase field. RELATED: Harvick surges late for Loudon win "We're going to have to rely on Kevin and Rodney (Childers, crew chief), Kurt and (Tony) Gibson (crew chief) for sure and do the best we can," Stewart said. "We weren't totally terrible at the spring race but definitely have to be better than we were to get done what we need to get done." Scenarios? Talk to Stewart at Homestead, if he happens to be one of the championship four. That's when he'll be more aware of such things. "When you get to the last race of the year and you're racing for a championship and you've got enough of a lead that no matter what, if you finish from here on up, then yeah, you think about that," he said. "But that’s not the scenario we're in." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Heads Up: Chicagoland weekend
Here are the hot topics, trending news and key story lines to get you ready for this weekend's races -- and Sprint Cup Series Chase opener -- at Chicagoland Speedway . WEATHER The weekend forecast for Joliet, Illinois, looks relatively clear. Friday night -- when the Camping World Truck Series will take the track -- there is a 90 percent chance of rain and expected evening thunderstorms. For the XFINITY race, Saturday looks promising for the afternoon XFINITY race, with partly cloudy skies, a high near 78 degrees and a 20 percent chance of rain. Sunday looks to be ideal race day weather, with sunny skies and a high of 75 degrees. KEY TIMES Sprint Cup Series: The Sprint Cup Series holds its first practice Friday at 1:30 p.m. ET (NBC Sports App) followed by Coors Light Pole qualifying at 6:45 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App). XFINITY Series: The XFINITY Series qualifies Saturday morning at 11:45 ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App), turning around to race that day at 3 p.m. ET (NBC/NBC Sports App). Camping World Truck Series: The Camping World Truck Series is scheduled for a Keystone Light Pole qualifying session at 4:45 p.m. ET on FS1 Friday followed by the American Ethanol E15 225 race at 8:30 p.m. ET (FS1). CATCH DRIVERS LIVE We'll stream every driver press conference in the Chicagoland media center at NASCAR.com/presspass . Click here for a full XFINITY Series/ Camping World Truck Series press schedule. With this weekend being the first race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , NASCAR.com will also live stream a Ready. Set. Chase. launch event, which includes interviews with all 16 competitors, on Thursday at 3:05 p.m. ET. Click here to tune into the live stream . LAST TIME Denny Hamlin notched his second win of the 2015 season at Chicagoland, beating Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards across the finish line by .962 seconds to advance to the next round of the Chase. YOU SHOULD KNOW • Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman 's conflict on track last weekend at Richmond could be far from over. Stewart made the 16-car Chase field, while Newman missed out and was noticeably frustrated with "Smoke" post-race, saying it was "just disappointing that you have somebody old like that that should be retired the way he drives." Will that spill over into the opening Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race? We'll find out Sunday. • Alex Bowman will be wheeling the No. 88 Chevrolet for sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr . this weekend at Chicagoland. Bowman has made two starts in the Hendrick Motorsports ride and will make seven more starts for the team this season, splitting seat time with veteran driver Jeff Gordon . Click here for the 2016 No. 88 driver schedule . • Given Chicagoland's relatively young age, there have only been nine Sprint Cup winners at the Illinois track. "Smoke" leads the pack with three trips to Victory Lane, with Brad Keselowski on his heels with two wins. Six of the nine winners are current Chase competitors. • A win at Chicagoland would guarantee a Chase competitor entrance into the next round of the Chase, beginning on Oct. 8 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . One thing to watch though, NASCAR announced rules updates for the Chase regarding post-race laser inspection and lug nuts and the penalties associated with those. Read more on those updates here .
How the 'tire war' was won -- at North Wilkesboro
RELATED: North Wilkesboro, 20 years later MORE: Classic Dale Jr. story: Angry dad, purple gas jug In the late 1980s, NASCAR's twofold quest for speed and success took a sharp turn as tire supplier Goodyear introduced the radial tire to the sanctioning body's premier series. Bias-ply tires had been the standard for stock car competition from the very beginning. But radial tire technology had vastly improved, and major open-wheel series had already made the swap to radials. Off the track, radials had also begun replacing bias-ply as the tires of choice for passenger vehicles. But the bias-ply tires still used in NASCAR provided teams with another tool in the toolbox, a way to "tune" the car's setup through the use of air pressures and tire stagger (the variation in the circumference of the car's tires), something radial tire technology couldn't duplicate at the time. Goodyear officials were working toward implementing radials in NASCAR when the company got an unexpected push from Hoosier Tire Company in 1988. The competition between the two was fierce, and not without consequences. "Softer" tires produced by both brands generated higher speeds, but durability faltered. The "fall-off" in the product led to numerous tire failures and hard crashes. The following year, Goodyear officials rolled out radial race tires in an effort to provide both speed and durability. It was an ongoing project -- problems before the season-opening Daytona 500 forced the company to withdraw its product for that event. It wasn't until the spring race of 1989 at North Wilkesboro that Goodyear debuted the radial tire that officials felt was far more durable and could provide the necessary consistency and speed. "We were going to step through it," said Greg Stucker, head of race tire sales for Goodyear. "We were going to introduce them at the short tracks and then slowly step into the other race tracks." Rusty Wallace, driving for team owner Raymond Beadle, won the pole after the Blue Max team made the switch to Hoosiers. "We knew the Hoosiers were quick," Stucker said. "We also knew that the radials were extremely good over the long run. We went the first 100-some odd laps under green, which you don't do at North Wilkesboro very often. And Rusty got lapped, I think, about Lap 70." Dale Earnhardt won the race, thanks in part to the Richard Childress team's use of the Goodyear radials. "I still have that car," Childress said. "That's one of my favorite cars I have on display because I didn't re-do the body on it. I made the rest of them look real nice, but that car is still beat up; it has the Dale Earnhardt look still left on it. All the fenders beat in, the sides, and a set of the very first radial tires. "That's why we kept that one. It was the first win anybody had on radial tires. And everybody said 'That's going to be the end of Dale Earnhardt; he won't be able to run on them radial tires.' Well, we went out there and won the first race on them." The tire war eventually ended – Hoosier pulled out of the sport in mid-1989, returned for the ’94 season with its own radial tire, but departed at year's end due to a lack of sales. "It couldn't have worked out better for us to demonstrate how strong and how consistent the radial was," Stucker said. "The race really played into our hands pretty well. I think it was a good demonstration to everybody that this was a good package. "You know they say you have good days and bad days in racing? That was definitely one of the best days I've had at the race track. It was a good one." &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;