Race debuted in 2013 on temporary oval layout of backstretch Daytona International Speedway will discontinue the UNOH Battle at the Beach in 2015. The event, an invitational showcase for NASCAR's regional touring and weekly series, enjoyed a successful two-year run using a temporary oval layout on the 2.5-mile speedway's backstretch. This year, a mix of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, Whelen Modified Tour and Whelen All-American Series will focus on near-nightly racing at nearby New Smyrna Speedway. In a statement, DIS track president Joie Chitwood III said the decision came "after much consideration." "It was necessary for us to make this difficult decision given that we will open 40,000 new seats during Budweiser Speedweeks 2015 as part of the Daytona Rising redevelopment project and will remove the backstretch grandstands prior to 2016 racing season," Chitwood said. "We are pleased to see the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series will remain in Central Florida during Budweiser Speedweeks at New Smyrna Speedway and encourage fans to attend those exciting races." Track officials broke ground on the $400 million Daytona Rising project in July 2013. The redevelopment, which will feature a modernized 101,000-seat grandstand as the centerpiece, is scheduled for completion by the season-opening Speedweeks in February 2016. The Battle at the Beach debuted in 2013 with close-quarters racing and last-lap contact deciding the outcome of all three events in its opening year. The inaugural running was noteworthy not only for Kyle Larson 's victory in the Whelen All-American Series race, but for Mike Stefanik's grumpy post-race interview with Ray Dunlap, a video that went viral after Steve Park bumped aside the seven-time modified champion on the final lap. Daniel Suarez (K&N) and Doug Coby (Modified) prevailed in the Battle at the Beach in 2014. Chitwood said the track looked forward to continuing its relationship with the University of Northwestern Ohio, which sponsored the event in each year of its existence. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce and Chris Rice break down a multitude of situations and scenarios for some of the sports best as they prepare to chase down the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 trophy.
Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano battle up front all day for the win at Atlanta Motor Speedway while a pit road penalty proves costly for Brian Scott.
Young challengers exist, but can they match veteran's consistency? Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH , Fla. -- The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series boasts a thriving community of talented young drivers ready for the chance to make their names known. But for the last two years, an unflappable veteran has made the next wave of talent wait its turn. Matt Crafton takes the first steps toward a championship three-peat Friday night at Daytona International Speedway, kicking off the 23-race schedule with the NextEra Energy Resources 250 (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). The 38-year-old driver had to wait until his 13th season to wear the series crown; now he has two in a two-year span. In 2013, Crafton virtually clinched the title with one race remaining. Last year, the points battle was a much closer contest, but the California native said his laid-back approach minimized any late-season pressure. "Two was actually a lot easier to be totally honest," Crafton said. " The points gap was closer, but for me personally and internally and in my head, definitely two was a lot easier. Three, I'm just going to go with the same mindset I did for two -- just go out here and race and have fun. I get paid to do what I love to do, so not put any pressure on yourself and just go out there and try to lead laps and win races." No surprise, ThorSport Racing left the core of his No. 88 Toyota team unchanged heading into 2015. But while the organization has stayed the course, the series' competition environment has changed. Gone from the Camping World Truck Series are 2014 runner-up Ryan Blaney, as well as third-place Darrell Wallace Jr., a four-time winner on the circuit last year. Fourth-place Johnny Sauter, his ThorSport teammate, and veteran fifth-place finisher Timothy Peters return for 2015, but several young drivers -- Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick and Ben Kennedy among them -- aim to assume the mantle of title contenders. It's a path that has been blazed already by reigning NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott, who clinched his first national series title at age 18. Reddick, ready for a full season in Brad Keselowski Racing's No. 19 Ford, says the Truck Series should be no different. "I feel like a lot of young drivers feel like we can challenge the veterans in any series. … Just look at Elliott and Blaney," said Reddick, 19. "I feel like the younger guys have a lot of confidence right now." Confidence, though, hasn't necessarily translated to consistency, which has become Crafton's calling card through his championship campaigns. "Something that Crafton has really figured out with the trucks is, he may not be lightning-fast, but over the long run, he is probably the most consistent guy out there," said Kennedy, the series' Sunoco Rookie of the Year last season. "He can run the same lap time over and over and over again. Once he gets on a long run, that's where he kind of prevails. A lot of these guys will just go out there and burn their tires off, and five or 10 laps later will start falling back a little bit." Besides Crafton's performance over the long haul, the organization's chemistry has made the bright yellow No. 88 the team to beat the last two seasons. Carl "Junior" Joiner returns as the team's crew chief, continuing a combination with friendship ties that run deeper than a working relationship. Any other changes in the ThorSport camp, Crafton said, amount to mere fine-tuning for 2015. While the defending champion may have plenty of challengers lining up to stake their claim to the throne, any serious threat must pass the season-long test. "There's going to be some very fast trucks, without a doubt," Crafton said, "but it's one thing to be fast for one weekend or five weekends out of the year. Just trying to put it together throughout the whole 23 races that we run." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Joe Gibbs Racing ride could be the start of something big Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH , Fla. -- Daniel Suarez seems to have a sense of how big a leap he's about to make up the NASCAR ladder, but even then, it's still a jump that's difficult for him to grasp. One year ago, Suarez was competing on a makeshift 0.4-mile oval on the backstretch of Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. This year, the 23-year-old driver will be stretching his legs on the full 2.5-mile layout as he opens his first full season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. "Everything is new," Suarez said last Thursday during NASCAR Media Day. "Sometimes I don't even know the level of what I'm getting into, but it's great to be learning about the best drivers, the best race teams, the best brands. It's just a great opportunity of life. I believe this kind of opportunity you get just once in life, and maybe this is mine. I need to try to work 100 percent to make something good happen from this." Suarez's superspeedway debut comes Saturday in the XFINITY season-opening Alert Today Florida 300 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), but he already has Daytona to thank in part for helping him get his big break. Last February, Suarez prevailed in the Battle at the Beach on the temporary backstretch circuit, right on the heels of a victory at nearby New Smyrna Speedway -- his second K&N win in a span of three days. Those consecutive wins -- combined with his portfolio of 10 victories in three seasons in the NASCAR Toyota Mexico Series -- helped attract the eye of Joe Gibbs Racing, which backed Suarez's XFINITY debut in April at Richmond International Raceway and will field the No. 18 Toyota for him in all 33 races this season. "I think winning is everything," said Suarez, a product of the NASCAR Next youth initiative. "I think if you win races, your name starts getting around and people start knowing more about you and people start getting interested. When I got those two wins at the start of the season, I started getting more opportunities and we started thinking and talking more about 2015. I believe that definitely was a good step to being where we are right now." Suarez moved from his native Mexico to North Carolina three years ago, not just to be closer to the hub of stock-car racing teams but to learn English as a second language. All the while, he continued to compete full time in the Mexico Series, creating a travel and logistics high-wire act with frequent trips between the United States and his homeland. His 2015 slate doesn't include any Mexico Series events, meaning visits to his hometown of Monterrey will come at a far less frequent rate. Instead, Suarez hopes his family will be able to make the trip stateside to see him race. "They're so happy and proud of all this," Suarez said. "My family doesn't come from racing, so this is kind of new for everyone. This is something new that we're exploring, so definitely it's a good experience." To help accelerate his learning process, Suarez plans to compete in 13 races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in Kyle Busch Motorsports' No. 51 Toyota, primarily to gain experience at tracks where he's yet to turn a wheel. It's a hefty increase in his workload, which to date consists of just three career starts at the NASCAR national series level. Should the sharp trajectory up the NASCAR ranks continue on its current arc, the top-tier Sprint Cup Series might not be that far off. But Suarez demurs at the suggestion, saying it's too early to forecast such a plan. "I wish," Suarez said with a grin. "We can talk about that right now, but maybe it's not the time. The XFINITY Series is the most important thing right now. Definitely after we progress, after we can be competitive and win some races in the XFINITY Series, that is going to come to our team. For now, it's not in the conversations, but I believe it will come in the timing of the moment." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Suarez has two wins to start the K&N Pro Series East season
Get a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live 1. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Finding his way to clear air on the race's final restart, Johnson got all the encouragement he needed over the team's in-car radio: "Leg it, baby. Leg it." The six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion did, pulling away to his fourth victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the 71st of his career in NASCAR's top series. Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio. " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 2. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. The defending Sprint Cup champion had to carve his way from the back of the field after suffering engine failure during Saturday practice, but was perched atop the leaderboard by the 87th lap in the 325-lap distance. Harvick wound up leading a race-high 116 laps in recording his second runner-up finish in two races thus far in 2015. " WATCH: Johnson holds off Harvick for the win 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Junior has opened the season by going 2-for-2 in posting third-place finishes despite sustaining front-end damage Sunday when he ran into a piece of debris in the late going. Though he consistently was near the front of the pack, Earnhardt led just one lap all afternoon. " WATCH: Dale Jr.: Crew chief Ives is 'a pretty good cheerleader' 4. Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. The Daytona 500 champ continued his hot streak by winning the Coors Light Pole Award on Friday. Though he lacked the power to mount a challenge over the final green-flag run, Logano will enter next Sunday's Kobalt 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the Sprint Cup points leader. " WATCH: Out Front with Miss Coors Light 5. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. The JGR driver -- who led 10 laps Sunday and lined up second for the final restart -- watched his losing skid stretch to 46 races (dating back to 2013) after a slight fade just before the checkered flag. 6. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing. The modest rejuvenation continues for Truex and the Colorado-based team owned by Barney Visser. The Furniture Row bunch registered just five top-10 finishes in all 36 races last year; two races into 2015, Truex and Co. already have a pair of single-digit results. " MORE: Truex looks to put 2014 woes behind him 7. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG-Daugherty Racing. A strong finish on an intermediate track helped lift the spirits of the single-car organization, which qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs for the first time last year. After just two races, Allmendinger is slotted in a tie for eighth in the series standings. " MORE: Chase Grid after two races 8. Brett Moffitt, No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. The former NASCAR Next driver needed to receive the free pass two times to do it, but Moffitt closed the deal on the lead lap on a day of firsts for his career-best finish in just his eighth Sprint Cup start. Brian Vickers is scheduled to return to MWR's No. 55 ride next weekend at Las Vegas. 9. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. The 2012 champion had hopes for a top-five finish, but his aspirations were also tempered with temporary resignation over what he thought could have been a subpar 15th-place result. "We were just kind of up and down and floating all day long," Keselowski said after settling for somewhere in the middle of his expectations in ninth place. 10. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman appeared sunk after absorbing significant damage in a four-car crash on Lap 257, but hard work from his RCR crew in making repairs buoyed Newman to a surprising top-10. 11. Aric Almirola, No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. After opening up 2014 with patchwork finishes of 39th, 15th, 25th, third and 43rd, Almirola has some consistency to crow about this season. "That's a big head start from last year!" Almirola tweeted after his second straight top-15 finish pushed him into a tie for eighth in Sprint Cup points. " MORE: Follow drivers on Social Drive 12. Carl Edwards, No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards was the beneficiary of the race's next-to-last yellow flag, helping him recover from a seemingly disastrous flat tire in the 274th lap for a lead-lap finish. 13. Paul Menard, No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. The Wisconsin native couldn't shake the unluckiest of numbers, starting and finishing 13th as the final driver on the lead lap. 14. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The track that produced Kahne's last-ditch clincher into the Chase field last September wasn't so kind this time around. A pit-road penalty for a rolling-tire infraction in the 293rd lap forced the Hendrick Motorsports driver to make a pass-through on pit lane during green-flag conditions. 15. Casey Mears, No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Sunday's top-15 finish wasn't quite the windfall the Germain team received from Mears' sixth-place run in the Daytona 500, but the solid day kept its driver in the same position in Sprint Cup points -- sixth. 16. Danica Patrick, No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Atlanta provided the backdrop for Patrick's career-best Sprint Cup finish of sixth place last season. While 16th place marked a slip in performance, the effort -- coupled with 21st place the previous week at Daytona -- launched Patrick into the final spot on the provisional Chase grid. 17. Regan Smith, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Smith's second start as a substitute for suspended Kurt Busch had nearly the same result as the first, just one spot lower than his 16th place in the Daytona 500. The degree of difficulty may have been greater at Atlanta, though, after Smith's No. 41 was crumpled in a multicar fracas 20 laps from the end. " WATCH: Big wreck brings out the red flag 18. David Ragan, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Ragan pushed the No. 18 car up into the top five in the early stages of his first start as a fill-in for injured Kyle Busch, but said he was "a little timid" in making needed adjustments as the 500-miler went on. "I felt like we had a good, solid top-10 car and things just didn't shake out," Ragan said. 19. Trevor Bayne, No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Bayne was at the head of the Roush Fenway class at Atlanta, but frustrated in finishing two laps down. The midpack result left him hoping to see the team's determination rewarded soon. "I see a lot of people trying to work together and that's where it starts," Bayne said. "We obviously haven't seen any results as far as speed is concerned." 20. Justin Allgaier, No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Allgaier made the most of his survival instinct after two instances of evasive action in the race's late stages. The second-year driver brushed the wall avoiding the Lap 257 pile-up that snared four cars, then dipped to the apron to dodge the Lap 305 snarl that grabbed seven more competitors. 21. Sam Hornish Jr., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Inopportune timing put Hornish in the path of debris from Austin Dillon's blown tire in the 60th lap. Damage to the front end jolted the grille and left the RPM No. 9 crew fighting an uphill battle for most of the race; his own flat tire and a later brush with the wall only compounded the trouble. 22. David Gilliland, No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Gilliland pressed on after a bump from behind in the four-car crash on the 257th lap. He also stayed on the track during the race's fourth yellow flag to lead a lap for the first time at Atlanta since March 2010. 23. Alex Bowman, No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. After failing to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500, Bowman opened his season at Atlanta as one of the biggest movers in a race filled with them. The second-year Sprint Cup driver gained 19 spots from his starting position. 24. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. Bowyer gained track position by staying on the track late in the race, but his day went from sour to downright acidic in a hurry. An engine issue developed with around 35 laps left, just before the race's final crash engulfed him with 20 to go. 25. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. The Biff fought an ill-handling car most of the day, but lost the most ground when he overcooked his entry into Turn 3 on the race's next-to-last restart, igniting the race's biggest crash. 26. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. The site of an eighth-place finish last season held much higher promise for 2014's Sunoco Rookie of the Year, but sustaining plenty of contact in the race's biggest crash near the finish prompted Larson to tweet afterward: "Such a frustrating race. Top 5 car but had no luck." " MORE: Follow drivers on Social Drive 27. Michael McDowell, No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing. The small, family-owned team found some solace in McDowell's best result in five career starts at Atlanta, marking the first time he was running at the finish at the 1.54-mile venue. 28. Brendan Gaughan, No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. The Jay Robinson-owned start-up team recovered after failing to qualify for the Daytona 500 with Brian Scott. It marked the occasion of Gaughan's first Sprint Cup start since August 2013. 29. Michael Annett, No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport Racing. Annett and Co. struck an 11th-hour deal to jump in the Joe Falk-owned ride after his regular HScott Motorsports No. 46 ride missed out on Coors Light Pole Qualifying. The last-minute move kept his goal of a complete Sprint Cup season alive. 30. Tony Stewart, No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart was one of several drivers who started near the back of the pack after issues clearing Friday's pre-qualifying inspection. Smoke grappled with handling woes for much of the race, but matters got worse with involvement in the event's final multicar crash. 31. Mike Bliss, No. 32 Ford, GoFAS Racing. The 49-year-old veteran stayed on the track during a pair of early caution periods to pace two laps, marking his first lap led in the Sprint Cup Series since March 4, 2012 (Phoenix). It also was the first time since August 27, 2005 (Bristol) that Bliss has led multiple laps in a Sprint Cup race. 32. Josh Wise, No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Wise was among the first bitten by the new pit road officiating system, incurring a Lap 28 penalty for crew members coming over the wall too soon. Though seven laps down, Wise managed his best finish in three career starts at Atlanta. 33. Joe Nemechek, No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. The man with the Front Row nickname made his first appearance in Front Row Motorsports equipment, but contact from Greg Biffle's spin left his car and hopes dented for his first Sprint Cup event of the year. 34. JJ Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Slight damage from debris early in the race slowed Yeley, who managed to improve upon the 40th-place result from the season-opening Daytona 500. 35. Jeb Burton, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing. As the only rookie in the 43-car field, Burton made his Sprint Cup debut, forging on after a mid-race scrape with the wall. 36. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse played the role of pinball in the race's biggest crash; though several cars were involved, the No. 17 was the only one unable to continue. 37. Cole Whitt, No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. An engine that would've made a 400-mile distance couldn't quite withstand the full 500, first dropping a cylinder before expiring altogether, dumping fluid on the track and causing the race's next-to-last caution period. 38. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin led twice for 14 laps, but found himself sideways in the middle of the track when he lost control on a late-race restart. Three more cars piled in, prompting Hamlin to offer sympathies: "I apologize to all those cars involved, but it's tough." " WATCH: Hamlin spins and collects several drivers 39. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. A pair of rear tire troubles in rapid succession, both of which sprayed debris on the 1.54-mile track, derailed Dillon's day. The second instance, with the car already laboring from earlier damage, sent the RCR No. 3 off into the muddy infield and later behind the wall for extensive repairs. " WATCH: Dillon spins after cutting a tire 40. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. After starting third, Jamie Mac didn't have visions of finishing in the bottom five Sunday at Atlanta. The tangle that also thwarted three others when Denny Hamlin lost control took him by surprise: "I didn't see any of that coming," McMurray said. "That was kind of out of the blue." 41. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The four-time champion drew a Lap 24 tribute from the track with his car number blanketing the main scoring pylon early on, but enduring a crash for the second straight week has his final full Sprint Cup season off to a ragged start. Finishes of 33rd at Daytona and 41st at Atlanta have relegated Gordon to a tie for 35th place in the points standings. " WATCH: Big wreck brings out red flag 42. Ron Hornaday Jr., No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. After failing to qualify for the Daytona 500, the four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion made his first Sprint Cup start since 2003 on Sunday. The Curtis Key-owned start-up team parked just past the halfway point at Atlanta with a rear gearing malfunction. 43. Landon Cassill, No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Starting last, Cassill seemingly had nowhere to go but up at Atlanta. Instead, the 25-year-old driver stayed level as the race's first retiree for the second straight week, posting consecutive 43rd-place finishes after two engine failures to start the season. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Gary, Burt and Jason Myers talk about their family legacy and hopes going in the first ever UNOH Battle At The Beach .
Danny Bohn Rides on Roof at UNOH Battle At the Beach .
Steve Park Wins UNOH Battle at the Beach in Last Lap Pass.