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Top pit crews of 2016 as voted on by coaches
RELATED: Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew When we decided to start the All Pit Road Team five years ago we wanted to make it as legit as possible. In the past, we had crew members vote on who they thought were the best of the best. This year we changed it up a bit and sent out a ballot to each organization and had one coach's ballot turned back in from each organization. We had a great response from the coaches, and below are the crewmen who were selected. Just like last year, only members of the 16 Chase pit crews were eligible for the awards. If there was a tie in voting, the crewman whose team finished highest in the points won. Front Tire Changer First Team: No. 41 Shane Pipala (5) Second Team: No. 2 Hunter Masling (5) Third Team: No. 11 Dustin Necaise (4) Honorable Mention: No. 19 Clay Robinson (3) Front Tire Carrier First Team: No. 19 Kevin Harris (4) Second Team: No. 22 Dylan Dowell (3) Third Team: No. 11 Brandon Pegram (3) Honorable Mention: No. 2 Jeremy Ogles (3) Jackman First Team: No. 22 Ray Gallahan (4) Second Team: No. 11 Nate Bolling (4) Third Team: No. 42 Graham Molatch (4) Honorable Mention: No. 41 Sean Cotten (3) Rear Tire Changer First Team: No. 11 Mike Hicks (7) Second Team: No. 22 Zach Price (4) Third Team: No. 18 Jake Seminara (4) Honorable Mention: No. 19 Kip Wolfmeir (3) Rear Tire Carrier First Team: No. 11 Heath Cherry (4) Second Team: No. 19 Matt Ver Meer (3) Third Team: No. 20 Blake Haugland (3) Honorable Mention: No. 41 Dwayne Moore (3) Gasman First Team: No. 11 Caleb Hurd (4) Second Team: No. 22 Kellen Mills (2) Third Team: No. 18 Tom Lampe (2) Honorable Mention: No. 41 Justin Wilson (2) Pit Crew of the year (Voted on by pit crew coaches) Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 (5) Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 (4) Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 (4) Mechanix Wear Pit Crew of the Year (Voted on by crew chiefs) Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com.
Buescher and Raymer get together
Rookie Blake Feese gets loose in front of new points leader James Buescher and brings out the caution.
Post-Race Reactions: Good Sam Club 200
Clint Bowyer, Blake Feese , Kyle Busch, James Buescher and Ryan Newman comment on their Atlanta finishes.
Drivers get real at NASCAR After the Lap
All 16 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers let loose during NASCAR's After the Lap in Las Vegas and a surprise guest shows up to help send Tony Stewart off in style.
Blake Koch ecstatic after advancing to Round of 8
Blake Koch expressed his excitement after a 12th-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway advanced him into the Round of 8 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase.
NBC, Blake Shelton bring back the sunshine
RELATED: Full schedule for 2016 Blake Shelton and his NASCAR friends are "Bringing Back the Sunshine" for NBC's second season of NASCAR coverage under its new television deal. The country singer is once again performing the song -- with slightly new lyrics -- that will serve as the introduction ahead of each race televised on the NBC family of networks. The spot was filmed during the spring race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in April. Watch the video below to see a host of your favorite Sprint Cup drivers barbecuing, including an awkward "bro hug" attempt by Aric Almirola and interesting air guitar by Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr . Who plays it better? You be the judge! NBC's NASCAR race coverage kicks off this weekend at Daytona International Speedway with the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola on Saturday, July 2. Pre-race coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBC.
Phoenix offers all four XFINITY championship spots for the taking
RELATED: Championship 4 scenarios for Phoenix " Chase Grid The inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Chase still has some business to settle, namely determining which four drivers will square off Nov. 19 for the championship in the Homestead-Miami Speedway finale. With all four berths available heading toward the season's penultimate event, it's a wide-open race. The XFINITY Series will figure out its Championship 4 contenders in Saturday's Round of 8 finale, the Ticket Galaxy 200 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) at Phoenix International Raceway . Put simply, four drivers will advance and four will be eliminated from the postseason field. Since Sprint Cup Series regulars won the first two events in the three-race round, no XFINITY Series contender has a free pass to the final before Saturday's 200-miler. Daniel Suarez -- driver of Joe Gibbs Racing 's No. 19 Arris Toyota -- has the favorable perch as the leader in series standings, 17 points clear of the cut-off line. But even with the momentum of nine straight top-10 finishes on his side, last season's Sunoco Rookie of the Year said he knows it's a delicate grip. "With this Chase format you are never in a real comfortable place," Suarez said, "but if we continue to do what we've been doing the last few weeks as a team, I feel like we will be OK. I really enjoy racing at Phoenix and think the track really suits my driving style. We always have such tremendous fan support when we go out there, it's really great to see." Elliott Sadler , Erik Jones and Blake Koch sit behind Suarez in the Chase pecking order, in position to transfer should they maintain their standing in the points. The remaining four -- (in order) Justin Allgaier , Ryan Reed , Darrell Wallace Jr . and Brendan Gaughan -- have ground to make up. Allgaier sits the closest, just one point behind Koch at the cut-off line. It's four more points back to Reed, another 15 back to Wallace and 13 more back to Gaughan. With a certain degree of spacing among the bottom four, any points gains would have to come in sizable chunks. The other, more preferred method of advancing involves a trip to Victory Lane to nix any number-crunching. "I'm not going to worry about the points situation," said Wallace, driver of Roush Fenway Racing 's Leidos No. 6 Ford, repeating a familiar personal refrain. "We just need to go out there and go after the win and then hopefully have a chance at that championship at Homestead. Either way, we are going to have some fun this weekend and give it everything we have." Sealing a Championship 4 spot in style with a win will mean denying one of seven Sprint Cup regulars in the field. Kyle Busch is a nine-time Phoenix winner who has won five of the last seven XFINITY events on the 1-mile track. And Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., a two-time XFINITY champ, will make his first start in the series since 2013, driving Roush Fenway's No. 60 Ford.
Wallace Jr., Gaughan, Reed, Koch miss Championship 4
RELATED: Full race results " Updated Chase Grid AVONDALE, Ariz. -- A tearful Darrell Wallace Jr . left the infield care center at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night, disappointed after a crash took him out of Chase contention and distraught over the loss of a cherished grandmother only days earlier. The Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR XFINITY Series driver had honored his grandmother by placing "Granny Jan" above the door of his No. 6 Ford. One of eight drivers vying for a berth in next week's Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and seventh in points, Wallace needed a victory to secure a spot in the final. He was running inside the top 10 when contact from fellow Chase driver Blake Koch on Lap 149 of the 200-lap event sent his car hard into the wall, erasing any hopes of a victory. "My grandmother was giving me the ride of my life," an emotional Wallace said after exiting the care center. "That was the most fun I've had all year. Just circumstances took us out. ... We will go to Homestead and let her ride again." Wallace, teammate Ryan Reed , Koch (Kaulig Racing) and Brendan Gaughan ( Richard Childress Racing ) failed to transfer into the final round. Daniel Suarez and teammate Erik Jones ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) will make up half the field batting for the title as will JR Motorsports drivers Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier .
Kyle Busch wins at Phoenix; XFINITY title field set
RELATED: Race results " Chase Grid AVONDALE, Ariz. -- It was just another routine Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway for Kyle Busch . But nothing else in the Ticket Galaxy 200 was at all ordinary. All the drama unfolded behind Busch, as eight drivers scrambled for four positions in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase's Championship 4 Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Busch led 190 of 200 laps on the way to his 10th NASCAR XFINITY Series victory of the season, his 10th at the 1-mile track and the 86th of his career, extending his own series record. Busch beat runner-up Austin Dillon to the finish line by 6.115 seconds. Ricky Stenhouse Jr . ran third in his first XFINITY Series start since 2013. "It means a lot," said Busch, who won his 170th race across NASCAR's top three touring series. "That's what we set out to do tonight, and we've been really fast here at Phoenix. We've had some great race cars and Chris Gayle (crew chief) and all these guys do such a great job each and every week preparing these things -- and it's fun to win here." Justin Allgaier and Daniel Suarez secured spots in the Championship 4 with respective fourth and fifth-place finishes, as did Erik Jones , who recovered from a pit road mistake on Lap 93 to finish 10th. But the real tension waited until after the race, when Elliott Sadler sat anxiously on pit road as NASCAR officials decided whether loose lug nuts would cost Sadler, the 13th-place finisher, the services of his crew chief, Kevin Meendering, in the season finale. NASCAR found two loose lug nuts, and that means Meendering will serve a suspension next week. Sadler did not know who his crew chief will be at Homestead -- though he was lobbying, somewhat facetiously, for team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr . to take over the pit box. "The emotions of the last 30 minutes have been tough," Sadler said. "We knew one was loose, and one was in question. Kevin's pretty much become my best friend, and Kevin's made me a race car driver again this year." NASCAR XFINITY Series Managing Director Wayne Auton said there was never a possibility of Sadler losing his spot in the Championship 4. "At the end of the race, we bring all the cars down to the entrance of pit road for inspection of the wheels and the lug nuts," Auton said. "We observed that the No. 1 car had two lug nuts not secured to the wheel. With that being said, all the teams were very much aware at the start of the Chase of the violations that could come about. "We've advised the team that they're going to be looking for a crew chief for next week and a monetary fine of about $10,000. It's clearly in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Rule Book." Blake Koch finished eighth and lost the final Championship 4 position to Sadler by four points. Joining Koch on the Chase sidelines were Ryan Reed , who finished sixth, and Brendan Gaughan and Darrell Wallace Jr ., who were wrecked and eliminated before the race was 150 laps old. Wallace's grandmother passed away during the week before the race, and the No. 6 Ford carried her name, "Granny Jan," above the driver's door. On Lap 148, Koch ducked to the inside off Turn 4 and knocked Wallace's Mustang into the inside frontstretch wall. "My grandmother was giving me the ride of my life," Wallace said, his voice breaking with emotion. "That was the most fun I have had all year. Just circumstances took us out. It's just hard. Thanks, Granny, I love you. We will go on to Homestead and let her ride again." &lt;/p&gt;
Blake Koch, Austin Dillon lead XFINITY practices at Bristol
RELATED: Practice 2 results Blake Koch topped the leaderboard in Friday's second NASCAR XFINITY Series practice at Bristol Motor Speedway , clocking in at 123.666 mph in his No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Right behind him was Kyle Busch in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota after posting a fastest lap of 123.364 mph. Rounding out the top five were Austin Dillon in the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet (123.356 mph), Jeb Burton in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford (123.166 mph) and Erik Jones in the No. 20 JGR Toyota (122.905 mph). Series points leader Daniel Suarez was eighth-fastest with a speed of 122.131 mph in the No. 19 JGR Toyota while the defending race winner Joey Logano was 10th on the leaderboard in his No. 22 Team Penske Ford (122.092 mph). With approximately five minutes remaining in the 55-minute session, Darrell Wallace Jr . made some contact with the wall, causing slight damage to the right-rear fender of his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford (18th-fastest, 121.366 mph). Saturday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying is set for a 9:30 a.m. ET green flag (FS1). PRACTICE 1 RECAP RELATED: Practice 1 results Austin Dillon topped the leaderboard in Friday's opening NASCAR XFINITY Series practice at Bristol Motor Speedway , turning a fast lap of 123.237 mph in his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Kyle Larson clocked in second, wheeling his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet at 123.095 mph around the short track. Richard Childress Racing teammates Brandon Jones in the No. 33 Chevrolet (123.016 mph) and Brendan Gaughan in the No. 62 Chevrolet (122.866 mph) came up third and fourth, respectively, while Texas winner Kyle Busch completed the top five with a fast lap of 122.819 mph in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Defending race winner Joey Logano was eighth-fastest in the field (122.357 mph), driving the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske . Series points leader Daniel Suarez was 11th-fastest with a speed of 121.906 mph in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.