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Dusenberry Martin Racing to sponsor DiBenedetto with 'NASCAR Heat' car
Following the release of NASCAR Heat Evolution , BK Racing announced Monday that it has teamed with game developer Dusenberry Martin Racing to sponsor Matt DiBenedetto 's No. 83 Toyota Camry at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. "We are proud to showcase the NASCAR Heat Evolution game on Matt's car this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway ," said BK Racing CMO Doug Fritz in a team release. "Dusenberry Martin Racing is a great partner for everyone in NASCAR and we’re excited to feature three BK Racing cars in the game." NASCAR Heat Evolution will adorn DiBenedetto's ride for Sunday's New England 300 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at the "Magic Mile." NASCAR Heat Evolution connects fans more than ever before. A new online competitive multiplayer feature supports a full field of up to 40 racers, a NASCAR video game first. Gamers can race as and against the top drivers and teams of today. Users can enter their rookie season and race for a spot in The Chase, relive classic NASCAR moments, or make new ones. "Dusenberry Martin Racing is proud to partner with Toyota Racing and BK Racing with our brand new NASCAR Heat Evolution video game," said Tom Dusenberry, DMR Chief Executive Officer. " Matt DiBenedetto is an authentic gamer, talented driver, and we are excited to have him represent the NASCAR Heat Evolution game on track at Loudon. Fans can race the with the No. 83 Toyota Camry in NASCAR Heat Evolution on Xbox One, PlayStation®4, and PC. Pick up your copy today!" . @dmrnascarheat to sponsor @mattdracing @NHMS --> https://t.co/l6F4fIMHiQ pic.twitter.com/6lDjIIMhH5 — BK Racing (@BKRacing_2383) September 19, 2016 NASCAR Heat Evolution is now available in North American stores for $59.99 as a retail and digital release on the PlayStation®4 system, Xbox One and Windows PC. This title is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Owner Standings
After Race 28 of the 2016 season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Pos Owner Car # Points Ldr Nxt PPos G/L Wins Attempts 1 Team Penske 2 2,087 0 0 2 1 4 28 2 Furniture Row Racing 78 2,086 -1 -1 1 -1 3 28 3 Joe Gibbs Racing 18 2,085 -2 -1 3 0 4 28 4 Joe Gibbs Racing 20 2,078 -9 -7 7 3 2 28 5 Team Penske 22 2,073 -14 -5 5 0 1 28 6 Stewart-Haas Racing 4 2,071 -16 -2 14 8 3 28 7 Joe Gibbs Racing 11 2,071 -16 0 4 -3 3 28 8 Hendrick Motorsports 48 2,070 -17 -1 8 0 2 28 9 Hendrick Motorsports 24 2,068 -19 -2 6 -3 0 28 10 Joe Gibbs Racing 19 2,068 -19 0 9 -1 2 28 11 Stewart-Haas Racing 41 2,067 -20 -1 10 -1 1 28 12 Chip Ganassi Racing 42 2,057 -30 -10 15 3 1 28 13 Chip Ganassi Racing 1 2,052 -35 -5 11 -2 0 28 14 Richard Childress Racing 3 2,052 -35 0 13 -1 0 28 15 Stewart-Haas Racing 14 2,046 -41 -6 12 -3 1 28 16 Front Row Motorsports 34 2,027 -60 -19 16 0 1 28 17 Hendrick Motorsports 5 699 -1,388 -1,328 18 1 0 28 18 Hendrick Motorsports 88 697 -1,390 -2 17 -1 0 28 19 Richard Childress Racing 31 676 -1,411 -21 19 0 0 28 20 Wood Brothers Racing 21 642 -1,445 -34 20 0 0 28 21 JTG Daugherty Racing 47 627 -1,460 -15 21 0 0 28 22 Roush Fenway Racing 17 607 -1,480 -20 23 1 0 28 23 Roush Fenway Racing 6 607 -1,480 0 22 -1 0 28 24 Stewart-Haas Racing 10 534 -1,553 -73 25 1 0 28 25 Roush Fenway Racing 16 518 -1,569 -16 24 -1 0 28 26 Richard Childress Racing 27 516 -1,571 -2 26 0 0 28 27 Richard Petty Motorsports 43 488 -1,599 -28 28 1 0 28 28 HScott Motorsports 15 484 -1,603 -4 27 -1 0 28 29 Germain Racing 13 451 -1,636 -33 29 0 0 28 30 Circle Sport-Leavine Family 95 416 -1,671 -35 30 0 0 28 31 Front Row Motorsports 38 397 -1,690 -19 31 0 0 28 32 BK Racing 23 369 -1,718 -28 32 0 0 28 33 Tommy Baldwin Racing 7 364 -1,723 -5 33 0 0 28 34 Richard Petty Motorsports 44 332 -1,755 -32 34 0 0 28 35 BK Racing 83 309 -1,778 -23 35 0 0 28 36 Premium Motorsports 98 256 -1,831 -53 36 0 0 28 37 HScott Motorsports 46 243 -1,844 -13 37 0 0 28 38 GO FAS Racing 32 222 -1,865 -21 38 0 0 28 39 Premium Motorsports 55 182 -1,905 -40 39 0 0 23 40 The Motorsports Group 30 151 -1,936 -31 40 0 0 28 41 Front Row Motorsports 35 46 -2,041 -105 41 0 0 3 42 Circle Sport - Leavine Family 59 26 -2,061 -20 42 0 0 1 43 BK Racing 93 15 -2,072 -11 43 0 0 5 44 BK Racing 26 3 -2,084 -12 44 0 0 1 45 Hillman Racing 40 0 -2,087 -3 45 0 0 1
BK Racing unveils Darlington schemes for Ragan, DiBenedetto
RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes SHOP: No. 23 gear A NASCAR 'Throwback' weekend at Darlington Raceway and two Toyota Camrys serve as the perfect canvas for Dr Pepper and Orange Crush to pay homage to their history. David Ragan's No. 23 Dr Pepper paint scheme will echo the iconic "I'm a Pepper" look that we grew up with. Matt DiBenedetto's No. 83 is going to stand out in the Orange Crush paint scheme from the 70s. "We're proud to have both Dr Pepper and Orange Crush featured on our cars for the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway," said BK Racing owner Ron Devine. "Dr Pepper has been such a loyal partner of ours and we are thrilled to have them bring Orange Crush along for such an iconic race." "We're thrilled to partner with NASCAR and BK Racing in remembering our heritage," says Derek Dabrowski, Senior Director of Brand Marketing for Crush and Dr Pepper. " 'I'm a Pepper' remains one of the most iconic slogans and jingles in U.S. advertising history, and it's a great source of pride for 'Peppers' everywhere. We're looking forward to honoring it with NASCAR fans during this throwback weekend." "We're also excited to pay tribute to the rich heritage of Orange Crush," continues Dabrowski. "We hope by showing off the brand's throwback creative we can tap into the nostalgic feelings race spectators and our longtime Crush fans have for the brand." During the weeks leading up to the race, BK Racing's social media will throwback to the history of the Dr Pepper brand. Fans can participate by using the hashtag #ImAPepper. Fans who participate will be entered to win autographed merchandise. The contest will run from August 18 through the Darlington race weekend.
Bristol was 'sixth-place victory' for DiBenedetto, BK Racing
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Matt DiBenedetto 's best day in NASCAR's top series nearly ended with the ultimate buzzkill. Driving back Sunday from Bristol Motor Speedway after salting away a career-best sixth-place finish and becoming the provisional leader for feel-good story of the season, the 24-year-old driver saw flashing blue lights not far from his home in Hickory, North Carolina. "Ah, dang, that sucks after a good day,' " DiBenedetto recalled thinking as he pulled to the side of the road. But DiBenedetto didn't think he was over the posted speed limit, a notion that was confirmed when law enforcement approached him. "The cop comes up to me and says, 'Hey, I have one question for you: I just want to know why you were going so darn slow?'" DiBenedetto said. "So then I realized it was a prank." The best of pranks as it turns out. The second-year driver for BK Racing drove the rest of the way with a police escort and with his parents following him home, where he expected a small, muted observance of his stirring Sunday drive. That didn't happen, either, not with the secretive planning of sponsor and close chum Constantine "Cosmo" Kogan, who rallied DiBenedetto's circle of friends into a boisterous welcoming committee, complete with party favors and uncorked bubbly. "There were probably 30-40 people out in our neighborhood," DiBenedetto said with a smile Monday from his BK Racing shop in north Charlotte. "Silly string everywhere. My car was covered. Champagne, the little party popper things -- it was out of control. It was absolutely hilarious. Only my friends, that's just cool to see how much they care and they were all so excited." DiBenedetto's hard-fought sixth-place finish made its own viral turn Sunday, thanks not only to the underdog rooting interest for one of the circuit's smaller teams but also for the unabashed emotion that the driver showed in post-race interviews. As he watched his family wipe away tears off camera, the tremble in his voice became more pronounced. "I couldn't quite hold back the emotion," DiBenedetto said. "I would be lying if I said that I was fighting off the tears, but unfortunately just couldn't hold it back. That was a dream come true for me. I know it wasn't a first-place finish, but for us that was like a win to finish up there in sixth in the Cup Series, which I've dreamed of racing in since I was 5 years old. Just to be here in the first place is a dream come true." Living dreams Making it to the sport's big leagues seemed like destiny, but so often fate takes the curvier road. DiBenedetto seemed earmarked for stock-car racing glory early on as part of the first NASCAR Next class in 2011, then called the NASCAR Next 9. What followed after a successful first season in the K&N Pro Series was a hodgepodge of spot duty in the XFINITY Series, sitting in the driver's seat one week and out the next. "It seem like it's all kind of gone by in a blur," DiBenedetto said. "I was racing K&N, part of the NASCAR Next and then thought my career was done five times in between then and now. It's been so up and down so many times. For me to be here, it's still surreal to think back." Opportunity for DiBenedetto meant pounding the phones and knocking on doors. His big break came shortly before the 2015 season in the form of a race-to-race agreement with BK Racing owner Ron Devine. DiBenedetto said Devine took a substantial chance in hiring a driver without Sprint Cup experience, but the risk was modestly rewarded -- the week-to-week deal turned into a full season with just one DNF and a return invitation for 2016. "Being a rookie in Sprint Cup is way tougher than I gave it credit for," DiBenedetto said of the learning experience. "It's just a whole different level of racing . You have to be so perfect at every single thing you do, down to the level of not losing a half-second on pit road. You have to drive your tail off every single lap of the race to make sure you stay on the lead lap -- everything." Driving his tail off makes for a suitable description of Sunday's spirited drive at Bristol. Carl Edwards captured the checkered flag and punctuated his celebration with his trademark backflip, but he was also head over heels about DiBenedetto's accomplishments, saying, "They finished sixth? Man, that's unbelievable. That's probably tougher than what we did." The driver of the No. 83 Toyota wasn't about to draw a direct comparison with Edwards' feat, but was quick to spread the credit for a banner day among his BK Racing shopmates. "To win in the Sprint Cup Series among the 40 best is incredibly difficult and that takes an amazing amount of talent like Carl Edwards has," DiBenedetto said. "I don't know if I want to say it was harder than what he did, but we're definitely proud of what we did. I'm more proud of all the guys that work on the team, proud of my crew chief … I'm just more proud of my guys, not myself. They're the ones that deserve that good of a finish. They're the ones that are working late nights and dedicating their lives to doing best job they can and putting a good race car underneath me. "It is lot of hard work like Carl did say. That's a total team effort. That's a lot of hard work by my guys. I was just happy to be the one holding the steering wheel and able to drive it up there for them." The camaraderie among the tight-knit group is what made BK Racing 's post-race cheer all the more jubilant with hugs all around. That celebration spread to the shop Monday, with DiBenedetto springing for pizza during the team's lunch break. "A lot of that emotion is shared by this whole team," said Ryan "Frenchie" Dubois, in his second year as BK Racing 's general manager. "We work really hard here and face a lot of obstacles that a lot of other teams aren't faced with. For us to overcome those obstacles and come out of there with a sixth-place victor-, er, sixth-place finish, it's like a victory for the team right now and what we're trying to do for the future." Dubois caught himself, but "sixth-place victory" has a certain ring to it. "To jump to sixth was great," he added. "If we can back that up next week, that'll be a Cinderella story for sure. We just want to be consistent, do everything right. We've got fast cars this year, that's the positive thing. We've got the right people in place, and it's about putting everything together. Once we do all that, we'll get those outcomes more often than not." It's an opinion shared by veteran crew chief Gene Nead, who began working with DiBenedetto in the second half of last season and was atop the pit box for nine Camping World Truck Series victories with Ted Musgrave at the wheel from 2002-05. "It's a definite David and Goliath story, you know what I mean, for a team this small without enough proper funding," Nead said. "You walk out in the shop, there's 60 people. You go into Gibbs', there's 600. It's pretty hard to do what you did with 10 percent of their people." Basking in Bristol Fittingly enough, DiBenedetto was savoring the moment before ever turning a lap Sunday. The California native decided to have some fun with Bristol Motor Speedway 's unique system of drivers selecting their own music for pre-race introductions, taking a page from his wedding reception last August. During his reception, each member of the wedding party selected their own entrance music. His father's comedic take, entering to ZZ Top's "Sharp-Dressed Man" in full beard, hat, sunglasses and guitar, clearly resonated. With his dad's permission, DiBenedetto reprised the role Sunday with gusto, donning the full costume and earning some of the biggest pre-race laughs. "You've got to enjoy it every step of the way, you've got to do fun stuff," DiBenedetto said. "That's what the fans want to see and to get them riled up before the race. That's what it's about." That spirit has been contagious, one that's extended to all corners of the BK Racing shop and that's helped boost the team's morale. "With Matt, for one his attitude is always positive," Dubois said. "He's a very humble driver and very appreciative of the opportunity that he has. We've seen from the beginning with him that he's constantly improved. He's not plateaued like some other drivers have and so we're constantly building with him. We think he's the future of our team and yesterday was a perfect example of what we see, and hopefully everybody else was able to see that, too." Plenty did, based on the outpouring of support on social media and the congratulations he's received privately from well-wishers. DiBenedetto pulled out his phone to show 202 text messages he hadn't had time to respond to, part of the 300-plus pings he estimated he'd accumulated in less than 24 hours. This season's most improbable finish at one of the series' toughest tracks gave DiBenedetto more than TV time, a police escort and a silly-string serenade. It also gave him the rewarding feeling that comes with taking a dark-horse team into the stratosphere usually reserved for the sport's heavyweights. That's why sixth on Sunday meant so much. "Just because we've worked so hard to get here," DiBenedetto said. "To do this without any major funding behind me or family money or anything of that nature, to do it just based on hard work and what teams thought I could do behind the wheel, that's nearly unheard of. To fight that hard and to get here makes you appreciate it that much more."
Maxim Magazine partners with BK Racing
Deal also includes a partnership with Maxim Fantasy Sports Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge Maxim Inc. and Maxim Fantasy Sports have partnered with BK Racing for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, the team announced Friday. "We couldn’t have a better sponsor for the Daytona 500 and the 2015 season," said BK Racing co-owner Anthony Marlowe. "Maxim Magazine and Maxim Fantasy Sports App are leading the pack in sports media along with other entertainment, and delivering a truly new and exciting experience." Maxim is one of the most recognizable magazines internationally, reaching millions of readers every month across print and digital platforms. The agreement includes several races during the 2015 Cup season, with Maxim branding displayed on various BK Racing cars. J.J. Yeley's No. 23 Toyota Camry will feature them as primary sponsors at the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. The Maxim branding will then debut on the BK Racing ’s No. 26 Toyota Camry with Sunoco Rookie of the Year hopeful Jeb Burton behind the wheel for the Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “We are thrilled to sponsor the BK racing team and look forward to an exciting 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season," said Maxim COO Robert Price. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
The Rundown: Darlington driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway : 1. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Truex’s two victories this season are the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte and now the Southern 500 ... and he finished second in the Daytona 500 . Even with all the bad luck he has had, Truex is having a monster year. Grade: A+ 2. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . This is word-for-word -- except for the number of laps led Sunday night -- from the race at Dover in May when Harvick finished 15th: Harvick led a race-high 214 laps, and who knows how well he would have done if his pit crew had done its job. Harvick’s grade is an average of his A and his crew’s F. Grade: C 3. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson led 45 laps and was in contention to win for the second week in a row. Larson and his team are hitting their stride at the exact right time. Grade: A 4. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Breaking news: No pit-road penalties for Hamlin or his crew ... just their seventh consecutive top-10 finish (5.3 average finish in the streak). Grade: A 5. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano doesn’t have a streak to rival Hamlin's, but he now has top-10 finishes in 11 of his past 13 starts. Grade: A 6. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth was running 14th when he stayed out during the sixth caution and restarted with the lead. He was a fixture in the top 10 the rest of the night. Grade: A 7. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne’s first top-10 finish since Sonoma in June is too little too late. Unless he wins at Richmond, he likely won’t make the Chase. Grade: A 8. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Huge night for Newman. Despite having to start from the back of the field (unapproved adjustments), Newman scored a must-have top 10 and is sitting seven points behind Jamie McMurray for the final spot in the Chase. He came into the race 15 points back. Grade: A+ 9. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . An early vibration and two loose wheels couldn’t keep Keselowski from his 16th top 10 of the season, tying him with Kurt Busch for third most behind Kevin Harvick (20) and Joey Logano (17). Grade: A 10. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott did much better on restarts Sunday night, but he lost spots on pit road. Another good run at Richmond should net him a spot in the Chase. He is 24 points ahead of Ryan Newman and 17 ahead of Jamie McMurray . Grade: A- 11. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch missed a top-10 finish at Darlington for the first time since 2011 (also an 11th-place finish). Grade: B 12. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . An early pit-road speeding penalty had no bearing on his finish. He is nine points ahead of Jamie McMurray and 16 ahead of Ryan Newman . A good finish at Richmond should clinch a spot in the Chase. But ... in five starts at Richmond, Dillion has finished 27th three times and 20th twice. If he runs to form, that might not be good enough. Grade: B - 13. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney had multiple visits with the wall, had to pit under green for a flat and had a pit-road penalty (for a crew violation) ... and still finished 13th. Busy night. Grade: B- 14. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon scored his fourth top-15 finish in five starts for Dale Earnhardt Jr . Grade: B- 15. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. If McMurray misses the Chase by a handful of points, an extra pit stop Sunday night might turn out to be the difference. McMurray had to pit for a second time under caution on Lap 354 for a loose lug nut. Instead of restarting 13th, 13 points to the good on Ryan Newman , McMurray restarted 18th, the last car on the lead lap. Newman finished seven spots better than McMurray and trails McMurray by seven points for the final Chase-eligible spot. Grade: B- 16. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard did a nice job of moving through the field after starting from the back for unapproved adjustments. But a tire rub late in the race resulted in a flat left rear and Menard losing control of the No. 27 and wiping out Kurt Busch on Lap 327. Still, Menard’s 16th-place finish was his second best in his past nine starts. Grade: B- 17. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Buescher is not out of the woods yet. He is 11 points ahead of David Ragan for 30th in the points standings and a spot in the Chase. His task at Richmond is simple: Stay ahead of Ragan or close to him all night. It didn’t happen in the April race at Richmond, however, when Ragan finished 23rd and Buescher 34th, an 11-point difference. How’s that for coincidence? Saturday night should be fun. Grade: B 18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse was the final car on the lead lap. Grade: B 19. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards finished 19th in the JGR No. 19 Toyota for the third time, the first time this season. That’s three more times than Edwards finished 99th in No. 99 Ford in 11 seasons driving for Jack Roush. Grade: B- 20. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith scored his third-best finish of the season. The other two are top 10s (eighth in the Daytona 500 , third last month at Pocono). Grade: B 21. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Despite having to start from the rear of the field because of an engine change, Ragan equaled his third-best finish of the season. Grade: B 22. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Contact with Aric Almirola brought out the 10th and final caution. Fortunately for Bowyer, Almirola’s car got the worst of the encounter. Grade: C 23. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger’s run of top-15 finishes ended at four on a night when he completed no laps in the top 15 for the second time this season (Week 4 at Phoenix). Grade: C 24. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . For the third time this season, and second time in three weeks, Patrick had the second-best finish among the four Stewart-Haas Racing cars. Grade: C 25. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . GEICO's "It’s What You Do" fact of the night: RAF, as in "running at the finish." Did you know only two Sprint Cup drivers who have started all 25 races this season have been running at the finish of each race this season? One is Brad Keselowski . The other is GEICO’s very own Casey Mears . It's what he does. Grade: C 26. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto scored his fourth-best finish of the season, his best at a track more than a mile long. Grade: B+ 27. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . Despite an early pit-road speeding penalty on his first stop, McDowell posted his best finish at Darlington in five starts. Grade: C 28. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett equaled his fourth-best finish of the season. Grade: C 29. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. The theme of the backmarkers continues: Wise also equaled his fourth-best finish of the season. Grade: C 30. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Cassill matched his lowest finish at Darlington in six starts. Grade: C 31. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson finished nine laps off the pace. Grade: C 32. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola was running 20th with 18 laps to go when he got into Clint Bowyer and then Bowyer hit Almirola, sending the No. 43 hard into the wall. Grade: C- 33. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The lowlight of Johnson’s night came when he lost control off of Turn 4 on Lap 214 and went for a spin. He ultimately finished 39 laps off the pace and with his 77th finish of 30th of worse in his illustrious Sprint Cup career -- which also equals his Cup wins. Who knew? Well, you do now. Grade: F 34. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch called it a "tough, tough night." We call it being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Paul Menard was nursing a tire going down, and Busch was next to him when it finally did. The No. 41 suffered major damage, and Busch was left with his second DNF for crashes in three weeks. Grade: C 35. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Score one for karma in Stewart’s final race at "The Lady in Black". In a move few will dispute, Stewart wrecked Brian Scott to bring out the third caution. Then, after battling a cooling issue for a good chunk of the night, Stewart’s engine expired a shade more than 100 laps later. Grade: F 36. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle got loose in Turns 3 and 4 and hit the wall to bring out the sixth caution. The No. 16 returned to the track but was through after 295 laps run, giving Biffle his sixth DNF, tying a season high with 11 races remaining in 2016. Grade: F 37. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Electrical issues cut short Whitt’s night after 250 laps run. Grade: F 38. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . Earnhardt hit the wall literally and figuratively on Lap 250. Grade: F 39. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott was running 24th on Lap 204 when Tony Stewart took exception to something Scott did or was doing and turned the No. 44, sending it crashing into the inside wall. Maybe Scott wasn’t handling his car as well as 'Smoke' thought he should. But no one will dispute how well Scott handled himself in his interview on NBC afterward. Grade: B 40. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne brought out the first caution when he went for a spin trying to get to pit road on Lap 95. But it was his engine that ended his night after 161 laps, leaving Bayne with his first DNF of the season. Grade: F
Hamlin holds on for Coors Light Pole at Richmond
RELATED: Starting lineup " See every car in the field RICHMOND, Va. – Don't tell Denny Hamlin his first pole of the season isn't significant. In the money round of Friday's knockout qualifying session, the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota toured .75-mile Richmond International Raceway in 22.069 seconds (122.344 mph) to earn the top starting spot for Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the final race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular season. "I thought for sure we had too many laps on our tires," said Hamlin, who qualified in the top 10 for the 24th consecutive race. "A lot of the guys that we were challenging only had one lap per session, but my car didn't really come in that quick, so I had to run multiple laps. "And on a short track that wears out tires, I thought we were at a huge disadvantage. Just proud of the effort. ... And, obviously, running that fast for that many laps tells us we have a really good car for the long runs. So pretty optimistic, and we'll see if we can't get a win." Though Hamlin edged Kyle Larson by .010 seconds to earn his first Coors Light Pole Award of 2016, his third at Richmond and the 24th of his career, the real drama of Friday afternoon involved drivers who qualified deeper in the field—in some cases, much deeper. Pocono winner Chris Buescher , who is fighting to stay in the top 30 in the standings and thereby earn a Chase spot, qualified a disappointing 31st. Adding to the stress of the driver of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford was the qualifying performance of David Ragan , who is 31st in points and immediately behind Buescher. Ragan was 19th fastest in the first round of knockout qualifying, 12 positions better than Buescher. The problem? Buescher is just 11 points ahead of Ragan entering Saturday’s race, with each position worth one point. Ragan slipped to 21st in the second round and failed to advance, meaning he'll start the No. 23 BK Racing Toyota 10 spots on the grid ahead of Buescher—too far for the rookie driver to enjoy a comfortable night's sleep. Buescher also can stay in the top 30 if he finishes 10 spots ahead of Landon Cassill , his teammate. "That's not where we wanted to be in qualifying with our CSX Ford Fusion," Buescher said. "We were a little better than we were last time here, so there is a little bit of positive to it, believe it or not. We'll be able to work our way up. "At the end of the day, this weekend is about something bigger. We're trying to stay out of trouble and be there at the end. It won't be an easy walk from where we are at right now, but we'll be able to work our way up." RELATED: How bubble drivers fare at Richmond Jamie McMurray (122.189 mph) took control of another important head-to-head matchup, making the final round of qualifying and earning the fourth starting spot. The last driver currently in a Chase-eligible position on points, McMurray enters Saturday’s race with a 22-point advantage over Ryan Newman , whose effort stalled in the second round. Hit with a 15-point penalty on Wednesday after his No. 31 Chevrolet failed the laser inspection station after Sunday's race at Darlington, Newman will start 15th, likely needing a victory to advance to the Chase. "Well, it's a really big weekend for us, but more than that, I'm just thrilled how both of our cars are running," said McMurray, Larson's teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing . "We've just made such big improvements. "We ran good at a two-mile track at Michigan. We ran good at Darlington with a different rules package, and we've run good at a short track. As an organization, it's been really good, and the next 10 races, if we can get in, it's going to be pretty awesome, because our cars have peaked at the right time." Austin Dillon , who starts on Saturday nine points ahead of McMurray, took a significant step toward his first-ever Chase spot with an eighth-place qualifying effort at 121.638 mph. At the other end of the spectrum, another driver likely to experience a sleepless night is Chase Elliott , who qualified 34th in his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Elliott starts the night eight points ahead of Dillon and 17 ahead of McMurray. All three drivers share one hope, however—that there's not a new 2016 winner currently outside the Chase grid to reduce the number of Chase spots available on points from three to two (assuming Buescher remains in the top 30). RELATED: Elliott positive despite career-worst starting spot "We're just not going fast enough, for sure," Elliott said after failing to reach the second round. "I really don't know what our problem is, but we struggled in our mock runs earlier today, too. So, we just need to think about it, I guess, and try to go to work tonight. "We're giving it our best effort. It just hasn't been where we need to be. The bad news is that it's a terrible starting spot; but the good news is that it's a long race tomorrow night. We have some teammates that are fast, so hopefully we can lean on them and try to get our Chevrolet a little better." Matt Kenseth , Hamlin's teammate, qualified third. Kurt Busch , who paced the first two rounds, slipped to fifth in the session that decided the starting order of the top 12. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Intense restart leads to wild racing among Chase drivers
The NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase drivers go three and almost four-wide on a restart just before halfway, creating some great racing at Kentucky Speedway.
The Rundown: Richmond driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway : 1. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin was awesome on restarts and just plain fast Saturday night at his home track. He now has four top-five finishes in his past five starts, including two wins. What’s more, he heads into the Chase with a series-best eight consecutive top-10 finishes. Hamlin is smokin’. Grade: A++ 2. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson enters his first Chase riding finishes of first, third and second in the past three races. The No. 42 team is oozing confidence. Grade: A 3. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Not even a pit-road speeding penalty could hold back Truex, who led a race-high 193 laps. Surprising fact No. 1: This is the first time Truex has had back-to-back top-five finishes in more than a year. Grade: A+ 4. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski had a pit-road speeding penalty, missed a shift on a late restart that resulted in Matt Kenseth wrecking out of the race ... and still finished in the top five for the ninth time in the past 14 races. Top fives, by the way, are dynamite in the Chase. Grade: A- 5. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick’s pit-road speeding penalty came on the sixth caution. Notice how it didn’t torpedo his night? Or Truex’s, Keselowski’s or (as you’ll read next) Kasey Kahne ’s? That’s what happens when a race has a record 16 cautions. Also worth noting: The top-five finish was Harvick’s fourth in a row. Grade: A 6. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne’s only ticket into the Chase was with a win, and he fell short. Kahne finished seventh last week at Darlington and has put together back-to-back top 10s for the first time in almost a year. And to close the book on speeding penalties (for now), Kahne’s came during the second caution. Grade: A 7. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Ryan Newman ’s 15-point penalty after last week’s race made life a lot easier for McMurray, as did Newman's run-in late with Tony Stewart . Bottom line: McMurray turned in his fourth top-10 finish in the past five races and raced his way into the Chase with room to spare. Grade A 8. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch didn’t get a speeding penalty, but penalized himself making sure he didn’t speed. How? He missed his pit stall during the second caution because he was looking down at his instruments to ensure he didn’t speed and had to come down pit road a second time for service. By Lap 229 he was back in the lead. Grade: A- 9. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch’s 6.0 average running position trailed only Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr ., but a final pit stop before overtime didn’t bear fruit. Grade: A 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano heads into the Chase with 12 top-10 finishes in the past 14 races. Last year, it was 11 of 14 and he began the Chase with six top 10s, including three wins. Grade: A 11. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Let’s see … two pit-road penalties and one meeting with the wall. Not exactly heading into the Chase with any momentum, are we? Surprising fact No. 2: Johnson has 10 top 10s this season. Unless he finishes in the top 10 in each of the final 10 races, he will fall short of at least 20 top 10s in a season for the first time in his career. Grade: C 12. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . In his 204th Cup start, McDowell produced the fourth-best finish of his career and his best finish on a non-restrictor plate track. All three of his career top 10s have come at Daytona. Grade: A 13. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . On a night filled with mistakes, drama and a track-record for cautions, you won’t find Dillon’s name associated with any of it. Mission accomplished. Welcome to the Chase. Grade: A 14. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne is making progress, albeit incrementally. Saturday’s finish was his 11th top 15 in his past 20 starts. He had nine top 15s in his first 100 starts. Grade: B 15. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick almost was collected in the wreck that caused the eighth caution. Instead, her night ended with her third-best finish of the season. Grade: B 16. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon was involved in the third caution that resulted in Chase Elliott hitting the wall. Later, he somehow made it through the big Tony Stewart - Ryan Newman carnage unscathed. Gordon also spent some quality time in the top 10. Pretty eventful night for a retired guy. Grade: B 17. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . A flat tire and a pit-road penalty contributed to Almirola’s 26.1 average running position. To his credit, though, that’s nowhere near where he finished. Grade: B 18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse was party to the seventh caution, and the No. 17 team got in on the pit-road penalty action en route to Stenhouse’s second straight 18th-place finish. Grade: B- 19. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Problems and penalties on pit road plus a brush with the wall are footnotes on a night Elliott where was one of two rookies to make the Chase ( Chris Buescher was the other). Grade: B- 20. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Two words that seemingly were attached Saturday night: "caution" and "Allmendinger." We also could add "spins," "penalties," and "damage to the 47." And somehow, despite all that, AJ finished 20th. Must be the Mr. Tickles Effect. Grade: C 21. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Without his great save from the contact that brought out the eighth caution, there is no 21st-place finish. Grade: C+ 22. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer picked up only his 12th lead-lap finish of the season and is in jeopardy of having his fewest LLFs since his rookie season in 2006 (19). Grade: C 23. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle’s 500th career start might be remembered for what didn’t happen. Biffle spun in overtime, but because he was able to save his car and not hit anything, there was no caution. Would the outcome have been different? We’ll never know but Denny Hamlin should thank Biffle. Grade: C 24. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Buescher was in and out of dangerous situations all night -- situations he never should have been in. All he had to do was protect his spot in the top 30 and instead he was getting "racy." Yes, he finished 24th. Yes, David Ragan ’s crash cemented Buescher’s spot in the Chase. But Buescher’s night easily -- and needlessly -- could have ended earlier. Thus, his low mark. Grade: D 25. Dylan Lupton , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . In only his second Sprint Cup start, Lupton ended up on top of Ryan Newman ’s car in the big wreck on Lap 363 -- and still finished 25th. Grade: A 26. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. With four laps to go in regulation, Sorenson was hit by Kyle Larson and made a great save to keep from going into the wall. He was rewarded with his second-best finish over the past two seasons. Grade: A- 27. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . Two Sprint Cup milestones for Earnhardt: His first laps led (two, during the first caution) and his best finish (in 16 starts over two seasons). Congrats. Grade: A 28. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman needed a Hail Mary to make the Chase. It didn’t happen. Instead, his incident with Tony Stewart will become part of NASCAR lore. Not because of the wreck itself, but because of what Newman said afterward. When he looked right into the NBC camera and called out Stewart, it was like watching professional wrestling on Saturday mornings when I was in junior high. Great stuff. Grade: WWE 29. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Despite losing a tire and crashing out of the race with two laps to go in regulation, Smith scored a top-30 finish for the fourth straight week. Grade: C- 30. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise put together back-to-back top-30 finishes for the second time this season. Grade: C 31. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett brought out the ninth caution when a flat tire sent him right into the wall on Lap 291. He finished 17 laps back. Grade: D 32. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards was involved in two incidents, including the big wreck on Lap 363. The result was his career-worst fifth DNF of the season. Grade: D 33. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . For the second race in a row, Stewart wrecked an opponent. Although you have to admire his candor for admitting it, the collateral damage from the incident with Ryan Newman was unacceptable. Grade: F 34. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan and his destroyed car easily qualified as collateral damage from the Stewart-Newman incident. Until that point, the Ragan- Chris Buescher points battle was a key element of the evening. Grade: D 35. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott, who was the subject of Tony Stewart ’s wrath at Darlington, got the short end of a Stewart revenge run again when his No. 44 plowed into David Ragan ’s car and then was hit from behind by AJ Allmendinger . Grade: D 36. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . A brakes issue sent the No. 38 to the garage early. Cassill finished the race 49 laps back. Grade: F 37. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 93 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto’s night ended when a tire went down and he hit the wall hard with less than 50 laps to go in regulation. Grade: F 38. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Brad Keselowski ’s missed shift on a late restart set off a chain of events that left Kenseth in the wall and through for the night. Kenseth was not pleased with Keselowski, who took responsibility for the mishap after the race. Grade: C 39. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney’s shot at a good night ended right after the flyover. Well, almost. In the first five laps Blaney suffered tire damage while battling with Trevor Bayne . On Lap 11 the tire went down, and Blaney went into the wall. "Two guys going for the same spot. It was a shame it happened so early. … Maybe a little stubborn-headed on both of our parts, but I should know better than that." Yes, you should. To get into a bad spot in the first five laps of a 400-lap race? Even a rookie knows better than that. Grade: F 40. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard was running in the top 15 on Lap 265 when a tire rub turned into a blowout, contact with the wall and then Ricky Stenhouse Jr . He finished last for the second time in the past 16 races, which equals his last-place finishes in his first 337 Cup starts. Grade: F
Furniture Row Racing issues statement on failed post-race inspection
Furniture Row Racing said in a team release Monday that it accepts NASCAR's failed post-race inspection ruling, while also citing on-track contact with the No. 4 Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick as the likely reason for being out of compliance. "The right rear of our car was well within the tolerance margin, which showed that we were trying to be conservative," the statement read. "However, the left rear wheel alignment was off by approximately ten-thousandths of an inch, which in high probability was due to damage in that area as a result of being hit by the No. 4 car. "We believe the laser inspection numbers were correct and accept NASCAR's decision that was made following Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway ." Truex Jr.'s race-winning No. 78 Toyota, along with the No. 48 Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson , failed post-race inspection after Sunday's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series opener at Chicagoland Speedway . NASCAR recently updated its rules for "encumbered" victory penalties during the postseason, but those are not be in effect for Truex Jr. because it was the lowest grade of failure for the LIS platform. Any penalties will be announced later in the week, according to NASCAR.