NASCAR Hall of Fame: Benny Parsons
Nominee for the NASCAR Hall of Fame
RELATED: Darlington throwback paint schemes Darlington's throwback theme for Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 already is a hit with racers and fans alike, bringing out the creativity in the industry with special paint schemes and providing opportunities to honor great racers who have gone before. But what if along with those throwback paint schemes, like Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s Valvoline No. 88 nod to Cale Yarborough and Clint Bowyer 's No. 15 salute to recently passed Buddy Baker, we could actually bring back the NASCAR legends themselves for this one race. Who would you pick? Hall of Fame crew chief Dale Inman could fill the whole 43-car field with legendary race car drivers. He won seven premier series championships with Richard Petty and an eighth with Terry Labonte , competing against some of the most storied personalities in the sport. "Damn, I've seen 'em all. I don't know …" Inman said of trying to choose just one driver to place in a throwback ride. "Earnhardt Sr. was good there you know." Bowyer, too, wished Earnhardt Sr. could join the field at the 2015 Southern 500. "Obviously for me it would be Earnhardt for me because we lost him, you know. That's first and foremost. Anyone you ever lost is who you'd want to bring back." But Bowyer said bringing back the man with the most wins (47) and most poles (47) at Darlington, David Pearson, would be the ultimate measuring stick for today's Sprint Cup drivers. "Pearson … man, what a character and just a genuine badass and an aggressive and successful racer. Anytime you have someone who's successful in the sport you make a living in, you want to be able to see what he had, what he's made of and see how you stack up." Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing , fondly remembers those days with Pearson driving the No. 21 Purolator Mercury. Pearson drove for the Woods Brothers from 1972-79 and won seven times at "The Lady in Black" during that span with two runner-up finishes. "That was his place," Wood said of Pearson's dominance at the South Carolina track. "The hotter the better for David. He liked it HOT, so we'd have to run in the daytime for him." RELATED: Drivers, officials, fans pumped for throwback weekend Inman attributed some of Pearson's success at the track also called "Too Tough To Tame" to his ability to take care of his equipment. This was extra difficult, as Inman recalled, because the track promoter sometimes would put bear's grease on the track between Saturday's practice and Monday's race. Blue laws prevented NASCAR from running on Sundays in South Carolina then. "Pearson just had a knack for taking care of the car. He always had a good car too," Inman said. "At least most of the time. For Darlington we put bars under the fenders. You knew you were gonna hit the wall, so we just put bars in and just bolted them to the right side. But the guard rail wasn't smooth like it is now. And they'll wear the sides out this time with the low downforce package." Aside from the drivers who racked up at the track, including Richard Petty and Buck Baker, Inman said Parnelli Jones' performance at Darlington had lasting impact on the racing there. "Parnelli Jones came out here in maybe 1956 or 57 was the first one to really use the high bank to what it is now. I remember him just sliding up to the fence. He didn't finish, of course." Jones crashed at Darlington in both 1956 and 1957. He finished 50th in a field of 70 cars in 1956 in the No. 1 Torrance Motors Ford and 34th in the No. 11 Ford owned by Oscar Maples in 1957. In 1958, Jones did finish the Southern 500 running, coming in 18th in a field of 48 cars during his last race there. The list of great performances at Darlington is nothing short of epic. Just the list of winners sends any racing fan on a long ride down memory lane: Curtis Turner, Fireball Roberts, Fred Lorenzen, Bobby Allison, Fonty Flock, Neil Bonnett, Benny Parsons , Harry Gant. How would they stack up against Jeff Gordon , the active driver with the most wins at Darlington (seven)? "Herb Thomas and Buck Baker were both really good," Inman added to the list. "But Herb had it as good as anyone in those old Hudson Hornets that Marshall Teague built, and I think he won in a Chevrolet, too." Now that would be an entirely different kind of throwback idea. Run at Darlington again in restored Chevrolets, Fords, Hornets, Plymouths, Pontiacs and Dodges.
2001 Pepsi 400 was also first race that NBC televised Note: NBC Sports Network is reairing this race on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET as part of its NASCAR Classics series. The 2001 season was far from an easy year for the NASCAR world. The sport was shaken to its core by a crash on the closing lap at Daytona International Speedway during the Daytona 500 that led to the passing of NASCAR Hall of Famer and seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt. The races in the weeks after were filled with emotion as Dale Earnhardt, Inc. driver Steve Park won the week after the Daytona 500 at Rockingham. Two weeks later, Kevin Harvick , in just his third career Cup start, scored his first career win in the re-numbered No. 29 car for Richard Childress Racing . Harvick had been tapped after the Daytona crash to take over the car, which had been Earnhardt's No. 3. Many wondered what would happen when the sport returned to Daytona that summer for the Pepsi 400 as an emotional scene was sure to unfold. The 2001 Pepsi 400 also marked NBC's initial foray into NASCAR race coverage as it was the first race the network televised as part of a six-year pact with the sport. An interesting coincidence is that this year's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona will be NBC's first premier series race under its new TV contract that kicks in this season. The booth for that first race featured play-by-play man Allen Bestwick with analysts Wally Dallenbach and Benny Parsons . Britney Spears gave the command to start the race. Here is the intro NBC used for races in 2001 featuring the song "Fuel" by Metallica. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/center&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; At the time, Dale Earnhardt Jr . was 26 years old and in his second full-time season in the sport's top series. He came to Daytona that summer on a 39-race winless streak. After experiencing the loss of his father, his 2001 season was very much up-and-down as you might imagine. He came into Daytona the sentimental and emotional favorite. The race had plenty of emotion in the air as Sterling Marlin led the field to the green flag. Starting 13th, it took Earnhardt 26 laps to get his No. 8 Chevrolet to the front and from there it was his show for most of the night. Dale Jr. led 116 circuits in the 160-lap race en route to his third career premier series win and his first at Daytona. The win was anything but certain though, as Junior had to hold off DEI teammate Michael Waltrip (who held off Junior to win the 2001 Daytona 500 ), Elliott Sadler and Ward Burton to win by 0.123 seconds. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/center&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; When the checkered flag dropped, the crowd at Daytona roared with approval as Dale Jr. took the victory under the lights. There were tears and jubilation among the crew members and one heck of a burnout, not to mention a big embrace with Chocolate Myers, the fuel man with RCR on his dad's team. The celebration spilled over to the infield with Dale Jr. and Waltrip, who never got to truly celebrate the Daytona 500 win that year, embracing. In Victory Lane, an emotionally drained Dale Jr. told NBC's Bill Weber, "Man, I just don't know what to say. I am worn out. I got to thank my buddy Tony (Eury Jr.), my crew chief for hanging in there with me. All my friends, all the guys on the crew. "I had a great car. It was all car, 100 percent. I was just holding on." On his father he said, "he was with me tonight. I don't know how I did it. He was there and Michael helped me. I guess we're even now." He also predicted that he would be "crying sooner or later." "I dedicate this win to him. There ain't nobody else I could dedicate this win to that it would mean more to me." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/center&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; Waltrip said of his role reversal with Dale Jr. from the last Daytona race, "I just wanted Dale Jr. to win so bad and I wanted to be a part of it. …I was committed to Dale Jr. just like he was to me in February." The victory would be the first of three Junior recorded that season as he later added victories at Dover and Talladega in the fall. NBC returns to NASCAR premier series coverage after a nearly nine-year absence, with Sunday night's Coke Zero 400 (7:45 p.m. ET). Rick Allen will handle the play-by-play duties alongside analysts Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte.
Evernham, Kulwicki, Martin added to ballot; Landmark Award nominees named Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— Legendary engine builders, crew chiefs, owners and drivers. Their roles and responsibilities may have differed, but they all have one trait in common – each made an everlasting mark on NASCAR history. NASCAR today announced the 20 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016, as well as the five nominees for the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Included among the list are five first-time nominees – legends all – who exceled in various disciplines, at various levels. RELATED: Photo gallery of the Class of 2016 nominees Among them are three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief Ray Evernham; 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief Harry Hyde; 1992 NASCAR premier series champion Alan Kulwicki; winner of a combined 96 NASCAR national series races, Mark Martin; and 1986 NASCAR west series champion Hershel McGriff. For a full list of nominees, please see below. The nominees were selected by a nominating committee consisting of representatives from NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from both major facilities and historic short tracks and the media. The committee's votes were tabulated by accounting firm Ernst & Young. From the list of 20 NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees, five inductees will be elected by the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel, which includes a nationwide fan vote on NASCAR.com. Voting Day for the 2016 class will be Wednesday, May 20. The five nominees for the Landmark Award are Harold Brasington, H. Clay Earles, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Ken Squier (more on each below). Potential Landmark Award recipients include competitors or those working in the sport as a member of a racing organization, track facility, race team, sponsor, media partner or being a general ambassador for the sport through a professional or non-professional role. Award winners remain eligible for NHOF enshrinement. Following are the 20 nominees for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, listed alphabetically: Buddy Baker, won 19 times in NASCAR's premier (now Sprint Cup) series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500 Red Byron , first NASCAR premier series champion, in 1949 Richard Childress, 11-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series Jerry Cook , six-time NASCAR Modified champion Ray Evernham , three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief Ray Fox , legendary engine builder and owner of cars driven by Buck Baker, Junior Johnson and others Rick Hendrick, 14-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series Harry Hyde , 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief Bobby Isaac , 1970 NASCAR premier series champion Alan Kulwicki , 1992 NASCAR premier series champion Terry Labonte , two-time NASCAR premier series champion Mark Martin , 96-time race winner in NASCAR national series competition Hershel McGriff, 1986 NASCAR west series champion Raymond Parks , NASCAR's first champion car owner Benny Parsons , 1973 NASCAR premier series champion Larry Phillips , only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion O. Bruton Smith , builder of Charlotte Motor Speedway and architect of Speedway Motorsports Inc. Mike Stefanik , winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships Curtis Turner, early personality, called the "Babe Ruth of stock car racing" Robert Yates , won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner The five nominees for the Landmark Award are as follows… Harold Brasington , founder of Darlington Speedway H. Clay Earles , founder of Martinsville Speedway Raymond Parks , NASCAR's first champion car owner Ralph Seagraves , formed groundbreaking Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Ken Squier , legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner/namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence The 22-person Nominating Committee are as follows... NOMINATION COMMITTEE NASCAR Hall of Fame: Executive Director Winston Kelley; Historian Buz McKim. NASCAR Officials: Chairman / CEO Brian France; Vice Chairman Jim France; Vice Chairman of NASCAR Mike Helton; Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar; Executive Vice President / Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell; Executive Vice President / Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps; Senior Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton; Competition Administrator Jerry Cook (Note: Due to Jerry Cook's inclusion on the ballot for the NHOF Class of 2015, he was recused from voting for the Class of 2016 nominees.) Track Owners/Operators: International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa Kennedy; Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell; Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage; Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark; former Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George; Dover Motorsports CEO Denis McGlynn; Pocono Raceway board of directors member Looie McNally; Bowman Gray Stadium operator Dale Pinilis; Holland Motorsports Complex operator Ron Bennett; Rockford Speedway operator Jody Deery; West Coast representative Ken Clapp. Media: Mike Joy, FOX. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
Learn more about the crew chief of the No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated March 2, 1971 Robert "Bootie" Barker, Born in Scottsburg, Virginia. "I'm from the woods, I guess you'd say. My family farmed." 1989 Graduated from Halifax County High School. 1994 Graduated from Old Dominion University. "I figured that being an engineer would give me a great opportunity to get a job. I listened to a radio show Benny Parsons had every Thursday and he was speaking about — I don't remember exactly — Felix Sabates was upset at Ricky Rudd or vice versa about one had stolen the other's shock engineer, so I was like, 'Oh, OK.' I enjoy competing. That was a way to combine both." 1995-96 Bill Elliott Racing. "Harold Holly [crew chief] picked up the phone and called Mike Beam, who was Bill Elliott 's crew chief at the time. I went to see Mike. He listened to me at least — I did have some credentials — and he said, 'All right, but you're going to clean toilets for a while.' " 1997 Mechanic, Roehrig Motorsports. "I noticed that the crew chief, other than a driver, to me, made the most difference. He got to do the c oolest things. He had the most input." 1998 Shock Builder, Bill Davis Racing. 1999-2000 Shock Builder, Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 team. "You know that if you're working for Jeff Gordon , you have a shot at winning. "I wanted to be Jeff Gordon 's crew chief. I didn't want to be Jeff's shock guy. I did ask Jeff, I said, 'You're not going to make me your crew chief are you?' And he said, 'No, not right now.' " 2001-02 Crew Chief, Bill Davis Racing Nationwide team. Won four races with Scott Wimmer at the end of the 2002 season. "We had a good group. We were killing it." 2003 Crew Chief, Jasper Motorsports, No. 77 with Dave Blaney . "I took the opportunity to jump to Cup for various reasons. It went well in the beginning but I thought it should go a certain way, ownership thought it should go another. … I was a little foolish in my decisions at that time. But I learned." 2004 Crew Chief, Haas CNC Racing, No. 00 Nationwide Chevrolet. 2005-08 Crew Chief, Haas CNC Racing. 2009 Crew Chief, No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. "I was Michael’s crew chief for about three-quarters of a year, which is really good considering how long most crew chiefs hang with Michael. Make sure you print that. [Laughing]" 2010-Present Crew Chief, Germain Racing . SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Our experts address this week's hot topics in NASCAR RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize 1. Were the penalties for the post-race turmoil at Charlotte appropriate for all parties involved? Alan Cavanna: I think not issuing a points penalty was the proper call. The incidents in question were not competition-related, and I don't feel the penalty should have been. That said, I do think the fine for Brad Keselowski could've been higher to send more of a message. The garage is crowded after a race, and it needs to be respected. Kes is among the best drivers in the world, but one small slip while trying to do even a small burnout could be disastrous. Zack Albert: I don't know that if I were in any sort of ruling position that I'd have gone to the lengths of issuing a suspension, but I felt like the punishment could've been stiffer -- especially for Keselowski as instigator and Hamlin for that cut-through in the garage. Stewart's fine seemed about right. A Kenseth probation could've at least put him on notice, but making a no-call there was OK by me, too. Kenny Bruce: I know the big kickback from the fans is that taking away money isn't much of a penalty for these guys. And probation? A slap on the wrist. But I think taking away points should be left for technical infractions, because those incidents can impact the results of the race. Taking away points for bad behavior doesn't make sense. The money might not seem all that much, but keep in mind, it would escalate for a future offense. Albert: And even if you do penalize with points deductions, a victory this weekend would advance a penalized driver to the Chase's next round, no matter how many points you take away. Bruce: Good point, Zack. It could impact a driver trying to advance without a win, but if they take points away and the guy wins, where's the penalty? … I was surprised that Kenseth wasn't at least fined for his role in the altercation with Brad. Would have liked to have had a better explanation of how they came to that determination. C avanna : No punches thrown, Kenny. I think Matt inched up to the line, but didn't cross it. The Ambrose/Mears conflict at Richmond in the spring featured a direct punch and left another competitor with a black eye. Once Kenseth got a hold of Kez, I think he just wanted to talk. Albert: Is giving a noogie a P1 violation? If we'd had a Kermit Washington impersonation by Kenseth, maybe there's more to it, but I think it falls under the heading of a shoving match with no blood spilt. Bruce: Oh, he wanted to talk, all right. But Mears threw no punches and was fined. Of course, he was deemed "the instigator." Should have a T-shirt made up with that on it. Albert: I know we dealt with a good amount of unhappy fans Tuesday, but had there been a suspension, the howls would've been about NASCAR officials hand-picking a champion whose name doesn't rhyme with Reselowski. C avanna : Gad Reselowski? I think he raced in the '50s. 2. Brad Keselowski , Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr . rank as the bottom three in the Sprint Cup standings. Who has the best chance of staving off elimination in the Contender Round finale at Talladega? C avanna : Tough question to answer. I picked Dale Jr. to win the race in this week's NASCAR.com Preview Show . So by that logic, he has the best shot. Albert: By that logic, he's jinxed beyond all hope. Cavanna: But in terms of points, Kes can at least see a light at the end of the tunnel. If he avoids a big wreck that takes out someone like Kenseth or Kahne, Brad advances. Kenny Bruce: I think Mr. Reselowski, I mean Keselowski, has the best shot. Johnson and Earnhardt Jr. are tied, and eight points or so behind Brad, so that's eight positions they need just to finish ahead of him -- not including all those ahead. Plus, teammate Joey Logano made no bones about helping his teammate this weekend. Also, Ryan Blaney , who will be in a third Team Penske car, mentioned helping BK out. Cavanna: Hey! I've picked a few winners, Zack! Bruce: Isn't that our version of the SI cover jinx, Alan? C avanna : I don't need the Nation mad at me. ... I like your point about the Penske cars, Kenny. Logano and Blaney need no other agenda than helping out the 2 car. Albert: That said, I think Brad is going to need all the aero help and/or reinforcements he can get after last weekend. But to your point, Alan, I think Dale Jr. finds some of that 'Dega magic from days of old. Bruce: Correct, Alan. Hendrick guys and the Joe Gibbs Racing bunch have enough on their own plates without worrying about a teammate; Harvick, Edwards, Newman ... they're lone wolves out there. C avanna : This format is so odd. Who's more nervous on Sunday? Kes/Junior/Jimmie or Hamlin/Edwards/Newman, etc.? Albert: It's going to be crazy. The live standings might resemble a roulette wheel. ... Funny that there's this guy we haven't been talking about -- Johnson. How does a six-time champ fly under the radar like this? In years past, I don't know that I'd have bet against the 48 camp come Chase time. Now? Just not seeing the bulletproof aura around them. C avanna : Radar only extends so far. Jimmie is barely within striking distance. Bruce: Right about the 48, Zack. Who would have thought we could have described them as average? But truthfully, that's where they're at right now. They need to change the Lowe's slogan from "Never Stop Improving" to "Improve Faster." Albert: Maybe they surprise us, but there's room for (home) improvement. Bruce: Nice. 3. The last few Talladega races have given us surprise winners, major multi-car crashes and stunning finishes. Will we see more intensity in Sunday's Chase elimination race? Is that possible? Bruce: I think so. The racing there has gotten so crazy the last few years. If they come across the start/finish line six-wide with half of them upside-down, I wouldn't be surprised. C avanna : It'll all depend on the situation and who is running where and when. If the "bottom 3" are in the back half of the top 10 with two to go, I predict chaos. Albert: The only two drivers sitting pretty right now are Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick , who have already punched their tickets to the next round. The rest? Who knows. C avanna : If it's a guy like Edwards/Newman/Hamlin, etc., I think they do all they can to bring it home in one piece and advance. Bruce: I've wondered all week if there was a chance that we "over-sell" the race, but honestly I just don't see that being the case. Heard someone say the other day that even with the multicar incidents in the spring race, there were still 20 or 21 cars on lead lap at the end of the race. So more than half the field still had a shot. How often do we see that? C avanna : It'll be interesting to see if someone advances because his team makes quick repairs from an early wreck. Every position is going to matter. Bruce: I don't think we'll see shades of Benny Parsons' team rebuilding his car to get him back out and win the title, but you're close, Alan. Albert: Not only that, all the alliances and grudges will come into play. And even if crews tell you they won't pay attention to the standings as they run, here's betting they'll have it in view out of the corner of their eye. Bruce: I more expect pit-stop calls of "So and so stops for four fresh Goodyear tires, two cans of Sunoco fuel and a shot of Mylanta ..." Albert: Will officials allow an extra crewmember over the wall for antacid relief. Cavanna: What would Gad Reselowski do? Kenny Bruce: Drive it like he stole it? Zack Albert: Someone stole the pace car during pre-race at Talladega several years back. He also drove it like he stole it (fans, don't get any bright ideas). MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Bruce: Consistency has put RCR driver in position to win a championship RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota HOMESTEAD, Fla. – When Ryan Newman qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup earlier this year, along with 15 other drivers, his inclusion in the field caused nary a ripple. The fact that he had failed to win a race wasn't a sore spot for most fans. He was one of three Chase drivers, along with Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle , who were winless through this year's first 26 races. No one said he or Kenseth or Biffle didn't deserve to make the Chase. But a funny thing happened on the way to Sunday's Championship 4 and the Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN), the title-determining race scheduled for here at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Newman and his Richard Childress Racing No. 31 team continued to advance without making it to Victory Lane. Biffle fell by the wayside early, failing to finish any higher than 16th in the opening Challenger Round. Kenseth made it all the way to the Eliminator Round, but couldn't overcome a 25th-place finish at Texas. Others that had won, either during the first 26 races or once the Chase began, eventually fell by the wayside as well. In the meantime, Newman clicked off just enough top-10 finishes (five) in the nine Chase races to keep himself in the title picture. Now, he stands one finish away from potentially being crowned 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. Without winning a race. And some folks think that's absurd.His competition has won races this season – Joey Logano five times, Kevin Harvick four. Even Denny Hamlin can claim one victory. NASCAR has never crowned a premier series champion that failed to win at least one race along the way, although the possibility has always existed. Four former champions won only once on the way to the title – Bill Rexford (1950), Ned Jarrett ('61), Benny Parsons ('73) and Kenseth ('03). Likewise, winning the most races in a given season hasn't guaranteed a championship trophy. Since 2004, six champions failed to win the most races in a season, but still won the championship. But, as others are quick to point out, they did win "some" races. Perhaps it's notable that following Kenseth’s title, officials rolled out the first Chase format in 2004. Winning had its privileges even then – each checkered flag during the regular season earning the winner bonus points used to determine how those in the Chase field would be seeded. Never were they "as important" as this year, though. Win a race, earn a spot in the Chase (as long as the driver met all other criteria). Win a race in the Chase, and move on to the next round. Points weren't tossed to the side, but they were no longer the golden ticket they had been for so many decades. Or so it seemed. Absurd? Or an unexpected turn of events? No one had any idea how this year's new format would play out. The only sure thing was win and advance. But what if you didn't? We saw Chase drivers win all three of Challenger Round races; we saw two drivers escape elimination with last-chance victories; and we saw non-Chase drivers, shut out in the first two rounds, win two of three races in the Eliminator Round. No two rounds were the same. Uncertainty was everywhere. Sunday, four drivers will have an opportunity to capture the sport's top honor. None faces a must-win situation -- finishing ahead of the other three will suffice, although that's a tall order on any given weekend, no doubt even more so with so much on the line. All four have earned the right, including Newman. His lack of wins this season wasn't an issue when the Chase got underway back in September. And it shouldn't be an issue now. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceVie FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
A statistical look ahead to the second race of the Contender Round RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Below is a look at the 12 Contenders and beyond, at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina going into the Bank of America 500 on Saturday night October 11. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on ABC, with the race start scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. CHARLOTTE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS 1 - Joey Logano (No. 22 Pennzoil Platinum Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 107.7 2014 Rundown • Five wins, 14 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 11.8 • Led 20 races for 916 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Three top fives, six top 10s • Average finish of 10.5 in 11 races • Average Running Position of 14.1, sixth- best • Driver Rating of 88.0, ninth-best 2 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 Doublemint Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 91.1 2014 Rundown • One win, seven top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 16.7 • Led 14 races for 412 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Nine top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 15.6 in 21 races • Average Running Position of 10.0, second- best • Driver Rating of 106.3, second-best • 460 Fastest Laps Run, third-most • 5,291 Laps in the Top 15 (77.4%), second- most • Series-high 973 Quality Passes 3 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 82.8 2014 Rundown • Two wins, seven top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 14.5 • Led 10 races for 134 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Six top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 11.4 in 19 races • Average Running Position of 14.6, seventh-best • Driver Rating of 89.8, seventh-best • 1,592 Green Flag Passes, second-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.106 mph, 11th-fastest • 4,280 Laps in the Top 15 (62.6%), sixth-most • 806 Quality Passes, fifth-most 4 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.6 2014 Rundown • Two top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 13.8 • Led 5 races for 30 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Four top fives, 10 top 10s; nine poles • Average finish of 19.0 in 27 races • Average Running Position of 17.5, 18th-best • Driver Rating of 78.1, 19th-best • 1,379 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most 5 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.7 2014 Rundown • One win, six top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 15.2 • Led 12 races for 195 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Four top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 13.7 in 18 races • Average Running Position of 12.7, fourth-best • Driver Rating of 92.6, fifth-best • 235 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.222 mph, seventh-fastest • 4,586 Laps in the Top 15 (71.2%), fourth-most • 749 Quality Passes, seventh-most 6 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.0 2014 Rundown • Two wins, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s; eight poles • Average finish of 13.9 • Led 22 races for 1,653 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, four top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 16.3 in 27 races • Average Running Position of 17.2, 16th-best • Driver Rating of 81.5, 15th-best • 1,534 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most • 3,923 Laps in the Top 15 (57.4%), eighth-most • 699 Quality Passes, eighth-most 7 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 93.1 2014 Rundown • 11 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 13.8 • Led 17 races for 467 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, nine top fives, 16 top 10s • Average finish of 13.5 in 30 races • Average Running Position of 13.5, fifth-best • Driver Rating of 97.1, fourth-best • 376 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most • 1,448 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.413 mph, fourth-fastest • 4,649 Laps in the Top 15 (68.0%), third-most • 842 Quality Passes, third-most 8 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.7 2014 Rundown • Four wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 10.1 • Led 21 races for 666 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Five wins, 16 top fives, 23 top 10s; nine poles • Average finish of 15.8 in 43 races • Average Running Position of 14.7, eighth-best • Driver Rating of 89.7, eighth-best • 243 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most • 4,228 Laps in the Top 15 (61.8%), seventh-most • 777 Quality Passes, sixth-most 9 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Pepsi Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.7 2014 Rundown • One win, three top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 16.7 • Led 11 races for 206 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Four wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 11.5 in 21 races • Average Running Position of 11.6, third-best • Driver Rating of 101.7, third-best • 665 Fastest Laps Run, second-most • 1,549 Green Flag Passes, third-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.430 mph, third-fastest • 4,564 Laps in the Top 15 (66.7%), fifth-most • 833 Quality Passes, fourth-most 10 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 104.1 2014 Rundown • Five wins, 13 top fives, 16 top 10s; five poles • Average finish of 13.2 • Led 24 races for 1,498 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One win, two top fives, three top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 15.7 in 10 races • Average Running Position of 15.2, 10th-best • Driver Rating of 85.4, 10th-best • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.125 mph, 10th-fastest 11 - Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 96.9 2014 Rundown • Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s • Average finish of 12.0 • Led 13 races for 265 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Five top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 19.4 in 29 races • Average Running Position of 19.0, 22nd-best • Driver Rating of 80.9, 16th-best • 183 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most • 1,435 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most • 623 Quality Passes, 11th-most 12 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 98.8 2014 Rundown • Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 14.3 • Led 15 races for 1,035 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Seven wins, 13 top fives, 17 top 10s; four poles • Average finish of 11.2 in 26 races • Series-best Average Running Position of 7.5 • Series-best Driver Rating of 112.7 • Series-high 683 Fastest Laps Run • Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 177.132 mph • Series-high 5,988 Laps in the Top 15 (87.5%) • 968 Quality Passes, second-most 13 - AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Scott Products Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.5 2014 Rundown • One win, two top fives, four top 10s • Average finish of 20.4 • Led 5 races for 68 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One top five, two top 10s • Average finish of 22.7 in 13 races • Average Running Position of 23.2, 31st-best • Driver Rating of 65.8, 31st-best 14 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Bondo Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 79.4 2014 Rundown • Three top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 15.8 • Led 6 races for 109 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Five top fives, eight top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 17.2 in 23 races • Average Running Position of 15.0, ninth-best • Driver Rating of 89.9, sixth-best • 303 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most • 1,393 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.250 mph, sixth-fastest • 3,891 Laps in the Top 15 (56.9%), ninth-most • 690 Quality Passes, ninth-most 15 - Kurt Busch (No. 41 State Water Heaters Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 84.8 2014 Rundown • One win, six top fives, eight top 10s • Average finish of 20.1 • Led 11 races for 181 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One win, six top fives, seven top 10s • Average finish of 19.7 in 28 races • Average Running Position of 17.4, 17th-best • Driver Rating of 83.0, 13th-best • 204 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most • 3,502 Laps in the Top 15 (51.2%), 10th-most 16 - Aric Almirola (No. 43 Smithfield / Waffle House Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 73.3 2014 Rundown • One win, two top fives, seven top 10s • Average finish of 21.0 • Led 5 races for 23 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One pole • Average finish of 19.0 in five races • Average Running Position of 16.6, 14th-best • Driver Rating of 76.5, 21st-best The 12 Contenders at Charlotte Motor Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Joey Logano 11 0 0 3 6 0 10.5 88.0 2 Kyle Busch 21 1 0 9 13 5 15.6 106.3 3 Carl Edwards 19 0 0 6 12 1 11.4 89.8 4 Ryan Newman 27 9 0 4 10 5 19.0 78.1 5 Denny Hamlin 18 1 0 4 10 1 13.7 92.6 6 Kevin Harvick 27 0 2 4 10 1 16.3 81.5 7 Matt Kenseth 30 0 2 9 16 5 13.5 97.1 8 Jeff Gordon 43 9 5 16 23 10 15.8 89.7 9 Kasey Kahne 21 0 4 9 12 1 11.5 101.7 10 Brad Keselowski 10 1 1 2 3 1 15.7 85.4 11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 29 1 0 5 11 4 19.4 80.9 12 Jimmie Johnson 26 4 7 13 17 4 11.2 112.7 History • Construction began on Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) in 1959. • The track’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on June 19, 1960 – won by Joe Lee Johnson. • The track was repaved midseason in 1994. • The track name changed from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1999. It changed back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 2010 season. • The track was re-paved again before the 2006 season. Notebook • There have been 111 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races at Charlotte Motor Speedway , two races per year since the track opened in 1960. In 1961, there were two 100-mile qualifying points races held the week before the May race. The first six fall races at Charlotte were 400-mile events (1960-65). • 525 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points paying race at Charlotte Motor Speedway ; 374 in more than one. • NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Charlotte with 64. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 43 starts; followed by Joe Nemechek with 36. • Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway (World 600) in 1960 with a speed of 133.904 mph. • 42 drivers have Coors Light poles at Charlotte, led by David Pearson with 14. Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon lead all active drivers in poles at CMS with nine. • 12 drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Charlotte. David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Charlotte with 11; from the fall of 1973 through 1978. • Youngest Charlotte pole winner: Jeff Gordon (10/10/1993 – 22 years, 2 months, 6 days). • Oldest Charlotte pole winner: Bobby Allison (10/11/1987 – 49 years, 10 months, 8 days). Charlotte Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 31 of 36 (10-11-14) Track Size: 1.5-miles Banking/Turns 1 & 2: 24 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4: 24 degrees Banking/Frontstretch: 5 degrees Banking/Backstretch: 5 degrees Frontstretch Length: 1,980 feet Backstretch Length: 1,500 feet Race Length: 334 laps / 500 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Charlotte Jimmie Johnson ..........................112.7 Kyle Busch ..................................106.3 Kasey Kahne ...............................101.7 Matt Kenseth .................................97.1 Denny Hamlin................................92.6 Greg Biffle .....................................89.9 Carl Edwards.................................89.8 Jeff Gordon ...................................89.7 Joey Logano..................................88.0 Brad Keselowski............................85.4 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (19 total) among active drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Qualifying/Race Data 2013 pole winner: Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet 194.308 mph, 27.791 secs. 10-10-13 2013 race winner: Brad Keselowski , Ford 158.308 mph, (03:09:53), 10-12-13 Track qualifying record: Denny Hamlin , Toyota 195.624 mph, 27.604 secs. 05-24-13 Track race (500 miles) record: Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 160.306 mph, (03:07:31), 10-11-99 STATISTICAL ADVANCE • 46 different drivers have won at Charlotte Motor Speedway , led by Jimmie Johnson with seven wins. • Nine drivers have posted consecutive wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway , including three consecutive by Fred Lorenzen (fall 1964 and both 1965) and four straight by Jimmie Johnson (both in 2004 and 2005). • A season sweep at Charlotte has occurred eight times, including each season from 2004-2007. • Youngest Charlotte winner: Jeff Gordon (05/29/1994 – 22 years, 9 months, 25 days). • Oldest Charlotte winner: Cale Yarborough (10/06/1985 – 46 years, 6 months, 9 days). • Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Charlotte in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 18: Jimmie Johnson (seven), Jeff Gordon (five), Darrell Waltrip (two), Ken Schrader (one), Terry Labonte (one), Casey Mears (one) and Kasey Kahne (one). • Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Charlotte; led by Chevrolet with 42 victories; followed by Ford with 29. Toyota has two wins at CMS. • 15 of the 111 (13.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the Coors Light pole; the three most recent were Jimmie Johnson in 2014 (Coca-Cola 600), 2009 (Chase race event) and 2004 (Coca-Cola 600). • The second-place starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (17) than any other starting position at Charlotte Motor Speedway (15.3% winning percentage). • 32 of the 111 (28.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the front row: 15 from the pole and 17 from second-place. • 84 of the 111 (75.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Charlotte have been won from a top-10 starting position. • Nine of the 111 (8.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. • The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Charlotte is 37th, by Jimmie Johnson in the Coca-Cola 600 of 2003. • Richard Petty leads the series in runner-up finishes at Charlotte with nine. Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers with three. • NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison are tied for the series most top-five finishes at Charlotte with 23. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 16. • Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Charlotte with 31. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 23. • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Charlotte with a 7.115. • Joey Logano leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Charlotte with a 10.545. • Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Charlotte without visiting Victory Lane at 36; followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr . with 29. • Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the May 29, 2005 race won by Jimmie Johnson over Bobby Labonte with a MOV of 0.027 second. • There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a Green-White-Checkered finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway , but only once for the Coca-Cola 600 (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): Chase race of 2005 (334/336), Chase race of 2007 (334/337) and the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 (400/402). • Five of the 111 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 won by David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip Racing. Four of the five races shortened were the 600-mile events (1968, 1997, 2003 and 2009). • Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway twice; the fall race of 2002 and the fall race of 2008. • Five active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have made their first career start at Charlotte Motor Speedway : Dale Earnhardt Jr . (5/30/99), Jimmie Johnson (10/7/01), Brian Vickers (10/11/03), Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (5/29/11) and Kyle Larson (10/12/2013). • Four active drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway : Jeff Gordon (10/10/93), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (5/28/00), Ryan Newman (5/27/01) and Aric Almirola (5/27/12). • Four active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Charlotte Motor Speedway : Jeff Gordon (5/29/94), Matt Kenseth (5/28/00), Jamie McMurray (10/13/02) and Casey Mears (5/27/07). • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Charlotte with 1,733 laps led in 26 starts. • Two female drivers have competed at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick . Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date of race Danica Patrick 4 39 5/25/2014 Danica Patrick 35 20 10/12/2013 Danica Patrick 24 29 5/26/2013 Danica Patrick 40 30 5/27/2012 Janet Guthrie 31 35 10/8/1978 Janet Guthrie 27 9 10/9/1977 Janet Guthrie 26 22 10/10/1976 Janet Guthrie 27 15 5/30/1976 NASCAR in North Carolina • There have been 519 NASCAR Sprint Cup races among 28 tracks in North Carolina. Track Name/City/NSCS Charlotte Motor Speedway/Concord/111 North Wilkesboro Speedway/North/93 Rockingham Speedway/Rockingham/78 Hickory Speedway/Hickory/35 Asheville-Weaverville Speedway/Weaverville/34 Occoneechee Speedway/Hillsboro/32 Bowman-Gray Stadium/Winston-Salem/29 Southern States Fairgrounds/Charlotte/17 Charlotte Speedway/Charlotte/12 Concord Speedway/Concord/12 Wilson Speedway/Wilson/12 New Asheville Speedway/Asheville/8 Dog Track Speedway/Moyock/7 Raleigh Speedway/Raleigh/7 Cleveland County Fairgrounds/Shelby/6 Champion Speedway/Fayetteville/4 Greensboro Agriculture Fairgrounds/Greensboro/3 North Carolina State Fairgrounds/Raleigh/3 Tar Heel Speedway/Randleman/3 Forsyth County Fairgrounds/Winston-Salem/2 Harris Speedway/Harris/2 Jacksonville Speedway/Jacksonville/2 Tri-City Speedway/High Point/2 Gastonia Fairgrounds/Gastonia/1 Harnett Speedway/Spring Lake/1 McCormick Field/Asheville/1 Salisbury Super Speedway/Salisbury/1 Star Lite Speedway/Monroe/1 NASCAR in North Carolina • 433 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as North Carolina. • 46 drivers from North Carolina have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series; 29 have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Richard Petty 200 0 0 Dale Earnhardt 76 21 0 Lee Petty 54 0 0 Ned Jarrett 50 0 0 Junior Johnson 50 0 0 Herb Thomas 48 0 0 Buck Baker 46 0 0 Bobby Isaac 37 0 0 Dale Jarrett 32 11 0 Rex White 28 0 0 Jim Paschal 25 0 0 Dale Earnhardt Jr 22 23 0 Benny Parsons 21 0 0 Speedy Thompson 20 0 0 Buddy Baker 19 0 0 Harry Gant 18 21 0 Bob Welborn 9 0 0 Kyle Petty 8 0 0 Morgan Shepherd 4 15 0 Bill Blair 3 0 0 Gwyn Staley 3 0 0 Brian Vickers 3 3 0 Billy Myers 2 0 0 Jimmy Pardue 2 0 0 Richard Brickhouse 1 0 0 Phil Parsons 1 2 0 Leon Sales 1 0 0 Buddy Shuman 1 0 0 Donald Thomas 1 0 0 Jack Ingram 0 31 0 Tommy Houston 0 24 0 Sam Ard 0 22 0 Robert Pressley 0 10 2 Scott Riggs 0 4 5 Ryan Blaney 0 2 3 Austin Dillon 0 2 6 Hank Parker Jr 0 2 0 Johnny Rumley 0 2 0 Dennis Setzer 0 2 18 Ed Berrier 0 1 0 Ty Dillon 0 1 3 Justin Labonte 0 1 0 Stephen Leicht 0 1 0 Timothy Peters 0 0 7 Andy Houston 0 0 3 Ricky Hendrick 0 0 1 Shane Hmiel 0 0 1 MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation