Heads up: Richmond weekend
Here are the hot topics, trending news and key story lines to get you ready for this weekend's races at Richmond International Raceway . WEATHER The weekend looks clear and hot in Richmond. The National Weather Service says Friday will be mostly sunny with a high of 94 degrees Fahrenheit. Saturday is expected to be more of the same with a mostly sunny skies and a high of 95 degrees, before cooling down to 73 degrees Fahrenheit for the night race at Richmond International Raceway . KEY TIMES Sprint Cup Series: A pair of practices will be held Friday starting at 10 a.m. ET, with qualifying at 5:45 p.m. ET. The race is on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday. XFINITY Series: The XFINITY Series has an early Friday, with practice at 8 a.m. ET. Qualifying follows at 4:15 p.m. ET, with a quick turnaround for the race at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. CATCH DRIVERS LIVE We'll stream every driver press conference in the Richmond media center at NASCAR.com/presspass . Tune in Friday at 11 a.m. ET to hear Carl Edwards , then check out Austin Dillon at 2 p.m. ET followed by what Chris Buescher has to say about his Chase chances at 2:15 p.m. ET. LAST TIME Matt Kenseth dominated this race a year ago, leading 352 of 400 laps to secure his first victory at Richmond International Raceway since 2002. Kenseth still needed a top-notch restart with 18 laps remaining to pull away from Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch to secure the victory by .951 seconds. YOU SHOULD KNOW ... • This is the final race before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , so expect some desperate racing from a few folks still trying to secure one of four open spots in the 16-driver field. Notably, rookie Chris Buescher can control his own destiny if he totals 34 points in this race -- meaning a seventh-place finish or better with no laps led. Most of all, Buescher needs to stay ahead of David Ragan in the driver standings to remain in the top 30; he currently has an 11-point lead over 31st-place Ragan. • This is Jeff Gordon 's last time driving the No. 88 Chevrolet in place of injured Dale Earnhardt Jr . before a two-week break. After Richmond, the retired Gordon will drive only two more times -- at Dover on Oct. 2 and at Martinsville on Oct. 30. Alex Bowman will drive the No. 88 the remaining eight races as Earnhardt Jr. sits out the rest of the season while he recovers from a concussion. • Anything can happen. The last nine races at Richmond International Raceway have yielded eight different winners (only Carl Edwards was a repeat winner, with a victory in April and in September 2013). This is also the penultimate night race of the season, with the 7 p.m. ET start at Charlotte's Bank of America 500 on Oct. 8 the only remaining evening start. • This is Denny Hamlin 's favorite place since the driver grew up just south of the track. He has two wins here, but none since September 2010. Will he end his drought? On his side is the fact that Toyota/ Joe Gibbs Racing has won the last two races in Richmond (Edwards and Kenseth).
Kurt Busch uses Richmond as tune-up for Chase
CONCORD, N.C. -- This week's race at Richmond will be a final shakedown of sorts for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch , one last dry run before the championship-determining Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup gets underway a week later in Chicago. A winner earlier this season at Pocono Raceway , Busch will head into Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway (7:30 p.m. ET, MSNBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) without the pressure of securing one of the final positions. "Overall, it's a great way just to do a tune-up, to pretend that this is a Chase race, there are no consequences," Busch said Wednesday during an appearance at zMAX Dragway. " Of course we want to win for our sponsors, but most importantly the Chase is on the horizon. "We're just going back to the basics now, give our best effort at Richmond, see how it plays out and then get everything dialed in for Chicago." Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup champion, is a former winner at Richmond (2005, '15). He is currently 10th on the Chase grid. SHR teammates Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart have also earned Chase berths for 2016. Stewart missed the season's first eight races due to injury, but returned to win at Sonoma and put himself in line for the Chase. "It was fantastic to have that moment from Tony at Sonoma , it really changed the direction of the team overall at SHR, and for us on the 41 car it really defined what we need to do the next couple of months," Busch said. "... We just have to go back and define what we did at Chicago last year, what we did at New Hampshire the first race this year, Dover the first race this year ... just go into more detail." Looking beyond Richmond, Busch said it would be "business as usual" once the 10-race playoff gets underway. "As we move through like Kansas, Charlotte, that's when you see how things play out," he said. "You hope you have good runs there, that way you're not relying on Talladega to get a solid finish. If you have to go into Talladega and get a top 10, that's the worst possible scenario ... but Kyle (Busch) was able to do it last year and he went on to win the championship." Charlotte Motor Speedway will host the only night race in this year's Chase, the Bank of America 500 scheduled for Oct. 28. Likewise, zMAX will host the National Hot Rod Association's Carolina Nationals Sept. 16-18. It is the opening round of the drag racing series' Countdown to the Championship. Wednesday, Busch joined Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, winner of this year's Four Wide Nationals at zMAX. After a friendly battle on the drag strip in a pair of street-legal Chevrolet Camaros, the pair headed over to CMS where Busch took Force for a ride-along on the 1.5-mile track. "Charlotte ... all the facilities (here) are first-class," Busch said. "The big oval, the drag strip, the dirt track, you name it. ... It's a pride factor when you race here in Charlotte. When you get a win ... you know you've done something special."
Out Front With Miss Coors Light: Bank of America 500
Miss Coors Light, Amanda Mertz, catches up with Matt Kenseth, the Coors Light Pole Award winner for the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Best in-car audio from the Bank of America 500
Go inside the headset to hear the best in-car audio from the Bank of America 500 from Kevin Harvick's pass on the final restart to secure the win to Brad Keselowski's post-race drama.
Sights and Sounds: Bank of America 500
Relive all of the actions from Saturday's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Race Rewind: Bank of America 500
Relive all the moments from the Bank of America 500 in Charlotte as Brad Keselowski steals a win in the fifth race of The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Out Front with Miss Coors Light: Bank of America 500
Rachel Rupert catches up with Kyle Busch after he collects his third Coors Light Pole Award of the season.
Daniel Suarez teams up with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
NEW YORK – Nickelodeon today announced that NASCAR XFINITY Series star Daniel Suárez has signed on to drive a custom Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle paint scheme during the Drive for Safety 300 at Chicagoland Speedway . Nickelodeon is the entitlement sponsor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Sept. 18, dubbed the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400. The track will feature a weekend of action, activities and fun for the entire family with the iconic Heroes in a Half Shell. Suárez, competing in his second full year in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for Joe Gibbs Racing , will pilot the No. 19 ARRIS/TMNT Michelangelo Toyota Camry. The pizza-loving "Mikey" is ready to take on the Foot Clan in his orange mask with his signature nunchucks, while Suárez looks to repeat his winning performance at Michigan Speedway earlier this year with a victory at Chicagoland Speedway . Suárez will join the already announced Darrell Wallace, driving the No. 6 Shredder Ford Mustang, in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race for an epic battle between #TeamTurtle and #TeamFoot. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Danica Patrick is set to drive the No. 10 April O'Neil/Nature's Bakery Chevrolet SS in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400. Additional drivers will be announced to compete with Patrick in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. This Sept. 15-18 marks the sixth consecutive year that Chicagoland Speedway will kick off the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . The Nickelodeon partnership will include sponsorship of the 2017 kickoff race, as well. "We are excited to partner with Daniel Suárez, he's a proven winner in the NASCAR XFINITY Series," said Anthony DiCosmo, Senior Vice President, Sports Marketing and Development, Nickelodeon. "Just as we did with last season's SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway , the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 will continue to expand our relationship with NASCAR, while working with another best-in-class ISC track to give fans a unique and engaging race experience that the whole family can enjoy. And, we're excited to work with Joe Gibbs Racing and our long-term partner Toyota to share the excitement of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with NASCAR fans." During the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 race weekend, attendees will be able to enjoy fun family activities in the Nickelodeon Kids Zone, located in Champion's Park. The area will feature appearances from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costumed characters, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles photo station and more. Nickelodeon has a long-standing relationship with NASCAR, teaming up with the motorsports giant on several programming and racing events. On the track, the network has sponsored the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway in 2015; brought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2014; participated in the Bank of America 500 week in 2012; and the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC in 2004. NASCAR has also contributed talent and content to Nickelodeon programming such as the Kids' Choice Awards ( Danica Patrick , 2012 and 2013), Kids' Choice Sports Awards ( Danica Patrick , 2014, Ben Kennedy , 2015), Team Umizoomi ( Jeff Gordon , 2012), Hammer Down (2014), which aired on Nicktoon's NickSports block, and an upcoming Bubble Guppies episode ( Jimmie Johnson , 2015). Currently in its fourth season, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is seen in over 170 countries and territories and translated in 50-plus languages. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles follows four mutant turtles — Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo — trained in the art of ninjutsu by their mutant rat sensei, Master Splinter, who teaches the turtles to battle evil from the New York City sewers. Executive produced by Ciro Nieli and Brandon Auman, the series is created at Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, California.
Post-Race Reactions: Bank of America 500
The top Chase contenders discuss their late-race fuel strategy while the rest of the top five comment on strong finishes at Charlotte.
Out Front with Miss Coors LIght: Bank of America 500
Rachel talks with Greg Biffle as he grabs a new track record and his 3rd Sprint Cup Pole of 2012.