RELATED: NASCAR official: We believe we did our job today LOUDON, N.H. -- Race restarts have been a hot-button issue in NASCAR this season and ironically, one of the teams most vocal about restart officiating was penalized for an illegal start Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Team Penske driver -- and Chase contender -- Brad Keselowski was ruled to have jumped the restart on Lap 242 and penalized with a pass-through penalty that dropped him from second place at the time to 25th. NASCAR officials say that video shows Keselowski's Ford accelerating through the marked restart area ahead of then race leader Greg Biffle 's Ford and called the decision to penalize Keselowski "very clear cut in our mind.'' "We did get 100 percent confirmation from our official that was on the ground as well as by all the data that was available to us,'' said Richard Buck, NASCAR's managing director of the Sprint Cup Series. The 2012 Cup champ Keselowski said he felt like NASCAR was making an example of him saying he was "the first person to ever be penalized for jumping a restart when I don't pass anyone, so that's a new one." "But we moved on and we made the most of a good day with the Miller Lite Ford and got a solid finish that hopefully will make our Dover (race) a little bit easier, so that was good," said Keselowski , who rallied to a 12th place finish. Biffle, for his part after the race, seemed a little puzzled by the call as well. "To be perfectly honest with you, I didn't notice," Biffle said. "I saw Brad kind of going a little bit and I waited until about the middle of the zone maybe. I didn't go right at the two marker, but I maintained my speed and I didn't speed up or slow down and I took off when I felt like it was time for me to go. "I wasn't really paying that close attention to the 2 ( Keselowski ) or what he was doing. We were pretty even getting down into (Turn) 1. I don't knew what they called him for, but I'll have to take a look back I guess. "I feel bad for Brad. I wasn't playing any games. I wasn't doing anything. I just went in between those two marks like we're supposed to.'' Keselowski recovered well from the penalty and is ranked eighth of the 16 Chase drivers with next week's elimination round after Dover cutting the field to 12. Still his team owner Roger Penske wondered what might have been on Sunday as Keselowski ran up front most of the afternoon. "I didn't see it, but his car was ahead of the 16 (Biffle) at the second line and I guess that's how they called it,'' Penske said. "He ( Keselowski ) didn't pass him, so I thought he was all right. I've got to go back and look at it. The race is over; there's nothing we can do about it. "I don't think he tried to jump it all. The way it looked in the box and they're going to call it when the first car doesn't cross the second line ahead. We'll just have to deal with it. Brad did a great job. The car ran well. We were running second at the time, with the 4 ( Kevin Harvick ) running out of fuel it would have been interesting. We're still in decent shape going into the next phase.'' WATCH: Keselowski black-flagged after restart Buck spoke with reporters after the race to further explain NASCAR's position on the restarts. He said there has been a lot of communication about the standard and the punishment. He said officials even warned teams on the radio during the race when it looked like the start was in position to be compromised. "We have made the rules very clear to everybody in the last couple drivers meetings and made sure everyone was informed,'' Buck said. "In fact today during the race, we reminded them before the race and during each restart of the rules. "If we saw something creeping toward the end we informed the spotter and crew chief so they knew what we were seeing and that's what brought us to the decision. "We're very clear and the drivers agree. The language is: there is a double red mark on the wall and a single red mark on the wall. The leader is the control car and has the right to restart the race and he must restart the race in that zone. The 16 was the leader at that point. The 2 car restarted before the 16 did." While NASCAR felt confident in its decision, it took some criticism from others on social media during the race. Ricky Craven, a NASCAR analyst for ESPN and a former Cup driver called the ruling "a horrible decision" because Keselowski did not ultimately pass Biffle on the start. A precedent was set today black flagging the highest running Chase driver @ keselowski For gaining nothing ? 6:15p @SportsCenter — Ricky Craven (@RickyCravenESPN) September 27, 2015 Keselowski actually brought up the subject of restarts two weeks ago in the pre-Chase media availability. "I have said it before but I still view restarts as rock-paper-scissors and you have to counter the moves of the person next to you,'' Keselowski said prior to the Chicagoland Chase opener last week. "As has happened it starts with the leader and the zone not being allowed to dictate it. If the guy in second place is lagging back then the only defense to that is to go early, both of which are illegal by the definition. Neither of which have been consistently called as an infraction. If one guy lags back and beats you when you do everything legal, then you have to defend it. That is your job. "I felt like as the leader at Darlington, I probably had half a dozen or more attempts at controlling the restart and I kept the lead the majority but not 100 percent of the time. The few times where I lost the lead it was very obvious that the car next to me had lagged back significantly and there was no call made. That forces your hand the next time you have the lead to do something to react to it. In a sense it is kind of vigilante justice. That is just how you have to play it." This time, however, Keselowski overcame the penalty and is still in good shape for the postseason. "I'm really proud of my guys to come back and get a top-12 out of that without getting another yellow or catching any other breaks after the black flag,'' Keselowski said. "I'm really proud of my guys.''
RELATED: Hear what Kes had to say " Watch the restart Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, said Monday that he disagreed with criticism lobbied by Brad Keselowski , who became the first driver penalized by the sanctioning body's renewed emphasis on restart management Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . O'Donnell's remarks came in a Monday morning debrief with NASCAR.com the day after the second event in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. NASCAR issued Keselowski a pass-through penalty on Lap 242 of Sunday's Sylvania 300 after series officials ruled he had inched ahead of leader Greg Biffle on the final restart. Keselowski dropped from second place to 25th after the penalty but rallied to finish 12th. In a post-race interview with NBCSN, Keselowski voiced his displeasure, saying, "It's a pretty basic understanding. It's an entertainment sport, not a fair sport," comments that O'Donnell later dismissed. "I think that was a heat of the moment comment from Brad," O'Donnell said. "I would look at what we've said in the past, is drivers are certainly going to disagree with the calls we make and that's OK. I disagree with Brad's comments. I think we make this as fair as possible each and every race. We've got to make calls, and no one's going to agree with every call we make. … We'll certainly have a conversation just about where we want to go and what are some of his thoughts. That's our job to listen as well, but we've got to make calls. "I'd expect drivers to have some passion. That's what they do. This is world-class racing and there's a lot on the line. Passion is something that really drives us overall." RELATED: No. 2 black-flagged after restart Keselowski's No. 2 Ford was ahead of Biffle's No. 16 Ford at the start/finish line when green-flag racing resumed on the final restart, but Keselowski was unable to complete the pass once the field shuffled out. Replays showed Keselowski gaining an advantage, but also showed Biffle maintaining a slower pace in the restart zone, causing three cars behind him in the outside lane to stack up and make slight contact. O'Donnell explained NASCAR's judgment, referring to the series' repeated reminders leading up to and during the race. "It really starts in the drivers' meeting where we talk about restart rules repeatedly, and it's the leader's prerogative to restart the race in the restart zone," O'Donnell said. "We repeat that to the drivers, we reiterate that over the radio during any caution or restart to tighten the field, and what we saw in this case was Greg Biffle had the option to start the race and really wasn't given the opportunity to do so within that restart zone and in our opinion, utilizing the additional technology we've put forth with cameras and personnel on the ground, we made the call and believed the 2 jumped the restart and went ahead of the 16 in this case." Restarts have come into greater focus in recent weeks, with Matt Kenseth 's unpenalized jump of Joey Logano in the regular-season finale at Richmond becoming a turning point in NASCAR's governance of the procedure. After that event, NASCAR dedicated a camera and a senior official to monitor the restart zone for the duration of the Chase playoffs. O'Donnell has said in the past that he would like to leave restarts in drivers' hands, but that the sanctioning body would step in if it needed to make a ruling. He said he planned to speak with Keselowski later Monday to discuss the procedure and solicit his feedback. "It's our job to utilize all the technology we have available to us and make the call," O'Donnell said. "Not everyone is going to agree with that. There's a ton on the line each and every race, and so ultimately we've got to make a call. It's difficult to do, but that's our job. We'll certainly seek feedback from the drivers. We'll talk to Brad obviously today, get his feedback, which I'm sure we'll disagree but that's part of it, and then we'll head into Dover."
RELATED: Cup drivers in the Truck Series " Timeline of the Truck Series Born to modest beginnings in the American Southwest, NASCAR's launching pad, otherwise known as the Camping World Truck Series, will celebrate a major milestone on Saturday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . There, shortly after 1 p.m. ET (on FS1), the green flag will signal the start of the 500th race in a series that has provided indispensable impetus to the careers of some of NASCAR's top stars. Carl Edwards , for one, recognizes the debt he owes to the series and to longtime owners such as Mike Mittler, who gave Edwards his start in trucks. "The Truck Series means a lot to me, and it means a lot to my career, for the fact that Mike Mittler has owned a truck since the beginning of the Truck Series," Edwards said. "If it weren't for that opportunity from Mike Mittler, and Jack Roush hiring me to drive his trucks, I would not be here today. "So I'm really grateful for the Truck Series, and I had a lot of fun driving those trucks." Edwards won the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title in the Truck Series in 2003 before graduating to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Austin Dillon and Ryan Blaney are other former Truck Series Rookie of the Year winners currently racing at NASCAR's highest level. The Truck Series has changed markedly since its debut on the national stage in 1995 at Phoenix International Raceway , where Mike Skinner, already 38 years old at the time, won the Skoal Bandit Copper World Classic by .09 seconds over Terry Labonte . In its formative years, the Truck Series was a repository for veteran drivers. Skinner won the first series championship. Ron Hornaday Jr ., perhaps the most identifiable name in series history, claimed the title in 1996, the first of his record four championships. Veterans Hornaday and Jack Sprague were kings of the series from 1996 through 1999 before Biffle won the title in 2000 to advance another rung up the ladder that would take him to the Cup series in short order. The periodic appearances of Kyle Busch notwithstanding, it's fair to say that older, more experienced drivers dominated the Truck Series until 2011. Hornaday won his third championship in 2007 and his fourth in 2009, amassing a series-record 51 victories along the way. Todd Bodine won the second of his two titles in 2010, at age 46, before Dillon and James Buescher notched back-to-back championships in 2011 and 2012 at ages 21 and 22, respectively. Dillon and Buescher are emblematic of the changing face of the Truck Series, which now features more teenagers and 20-somethings than drivers in their 30s and 40s. For one thing, team owners like Kyle Busch , Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr ., have embraced the Truck Series as an affordable way to give back to the sport by launching the careers of young drivers. Erik Jones , 19, who drives for Kyle Busch Motorsports, is the current series leader. Tyler Reddick , also 19 and a Brad Keselowski Racing protégé, is second. "I think the Truck Series is a great division," Busch said. "It's certainly a lot of fun. I enjoy it. It's a level at which I can be competitive owning a race team. ... "This level ... I feel it gives us a great chance to bring up the (young) talent to the upper level of NASCAR racing." Owning his own team also gives Busch a chance to compete in the occasional race. With 44 victories in the series, he is second only to Hornaday, and he'll have a chance to move one win closer this weekend at New Hampshire. "Having its 500th race and being in that race is going to be special for me," Busch said. Keselowski is part of the Truck Series' present and future, but his love for the trucks is rooted in the past. His father, Bob Keselowski , raced in the series debut at Phoenix. Bob Keselowski took his only checkered flag in the series in 1997, and he and Brad remain the only father/son combination to win races in the trucks. "The Truck Series for me has been a huge part of my career and a huge part of my family from the get-go," Keselowski said. "My dad ran in the first-ever truck race at Phoenix, and I still remember that day. "I still remember watching that race, and I remember how big a deal the Truck Series was when it started and how big a deal it is now to young drivers and the future of our sport." Two-time defending Truck Series champion Matt Crafton once would have been typical of the series. Now, at 39, he's a throwback to an earlier era. But Crafton is content to race for wins and titles in the Truck Series, as opposed to driving less competitive equipment at a higher level. "If I stay here for the rest of my driving career, I'll definitely be happy with that," Crafton said. "I know each and every week I can go win races. I have no desire to go somewhere where I'm going to run 15th to 25th and be happy with that." A nine-time winner in the Truck Series, Crafton is seeking his first New Hampshire victory this weekend, as he tries to stave off the growing youth movement in the Camping World Truck Series for yet another season.
Brad Keselowski is shown the black flag after a restart with Greg Biffle.
Brad Keselowski stays out after the first competition caution and makes a daring move to stay in the top five.
Below is a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared at Dover International Speedway . 1. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick scored his spot in the Round of 12 in dramatic fashion by leading a career-best 355 laps and notching the 750th victory for manufacturer Chevrolet. 2. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Post-race, Busch said he was pleased with where his team finished, citing it had a second-place car, but also adding it had quite a bit of ground to make up to catch the "lightning-fast" No. 4 team. 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The final caution flag was a lucky break for Earnhardt, who took the opportunity to address a loose wheel. He then used a solid restart to slip past fellow Chase contender Jamie McMurray and punch his ticket to the next round. 4. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . "Nice work guys. Nothing to be ashamed of," McMurray radioed his team after just missing the cut for Round 2. For more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView . 5. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola was posting top-five lap times with 55 laps to go, but needed those remaining circuits to pick up seven spots and match his best Dover result. 6. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The decision to stop twice during the fifth caution period to ensure the No. 5 was full of fuel didn't hurt Kahne, who earned his seventh Dover top 10. 7. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth, already a Round 2 contender thanks to his Loudon victory, spent the remaining 125 laps on Sunday looking for more corner speed. 8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse restarted 10th after the fifth caution flag, and he held on for his best Dover finish. 9 . Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . Larson looked to play the spoiler when he moved into the top three in the final 100 laps, but a decision to stay out during the final caution flag hurt his chances. 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano advances to the next round of the Chase with his ninth Dover top 10. 11. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Truex, a Round 2 contender, climbed through the field after starting from the rear when NASCAR had a post-inspection issue with the flare on his side skirt. 12. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . " Man, it's never easy," Gordon told his team after a rough final restart. "I know that wasn't easy," spotter Eddie D'Hondt said. "But we did what we needed to" (to advance). For more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView . 13. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush-Fenway Racing. Biffle got sideways with 11 laps to go, but saved his car while running 15th . 14. Clint Bowyer , No. 15, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer recovered after dropping from eighth to 25th when he made an unscheduled stop on Lap 175 for a loose wheel. 15. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Crew chief Darian Grubb didn't want to risk the No. 19's spot in the next round of the Chase so he called his driver back down pit road during the sixth caution flag for a right-front tire issue. 16. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Around Lap 60, Keselowski was running 16th when he reported that his engine temperatures were dropping. He maintained and will compete in the second round of the Chase. 17. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . An issue with the left-front jack bolt caused Busch to lose ride height late in the race. The team corrected the issue but still had to make additional repairs during the Lap 374 stop under caution. 18. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin won the race off pit road after a four-tire stop during the competition caution, but his forward momentum was stalled because he was tagged for speeding. A second penalty sealed the deal, but he still advanced because he won Chicagoland. 19. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman earned the beneficiary pass after the third caution flag and managed to stay only one lap down as the race progressed. He advanced to the second round of the Chase. 20. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish and his team chased the handling of his No. 9 Ford all day, even as the track took on rubber. 21. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick worked with her team to help her No. 10 Chevy take off better around Dover's 1-mile oval. 22. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan, who fell off the lead lap by Lap 105, had previously told his team he was "too free on exit and pretty snug in the center." 23. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon's team made several chassis adjustments during the second half of the race to help him get into the corner better. 24. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears was running 25th during the first half of Sunday's race when he was hooked in the right rear and saved his car from spinning on-track. 25. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard rolled off the grid 14th and almost immediately went backward as he watched his first Chase run fade. 26. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart recently announced he'd retire from driving after 2016 to focus on ownership. But on Sunday, the driver of the No. 14 focused on pit strategy to improve his track position. 27. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier received the beneficiary pass during the competition caution, but spent much of the race looking for mid-corner grip. 28. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Like his teammate Brett Moffitt , Whitt discovered that his car improved around Dover as the 1-mile concrete oval took on rubber. 29. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG-Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger was going too fast trying to get onto pit road when he spun up the track on Lap 311. 30. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland reported a tight-handling condition during the final 60 laps of Sunday's race, which his team worked to address. 31. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Halfway through a fuel run when the fifth caution flag was waved, Bayne elected to take the wave-around like most cars one or more laps down. 32. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman and his team continually made adjustments on the No. 7 Chevy throughout Sunday's race trying to find balance. 33. Reed Sorenson , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Already three laps down and in 36th, Sorenson told his team that he was "just racing the track right now" when they informed him leader Kevin Harvick was bearing down. 34. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . "Holy crap," DiBenedetto said while running 37th on Lap 101 when he learned leader Kevin Harvick was on his bumper -- again. 35. J.J. Yeley, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . Long green-flag runs were a struggle Sunday for Yeley. 36. Josh Wise , No. 32 Ford, Go FAS Racing. Wise sustained minimal nose damage after making contact with Jeb Burton on Lap 3. 37. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . During the fifth caution flag, Annett reported that his entry was neutral and he couldn't pick up the gas when he wanted to. 38. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport . Kennedy rolled off the grid 36th in his Dover debut. 39. Timmy Hill , No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports . Starting 43rd at the fast 1-mile oval made forward progress an immediate issue for Hill in his fourth Dover appearance. 40. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill's fear that his engine was "letting go" was realized on Lap 372 and prompted the eighth caution flag. 41. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . A torn rear axle seal sidelined Johnson in his 500th Cup start and ended his quest for a seventh championship. 42. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Moffitt's lap times were improving as the track picked up rubber, but his car was "killed" when he blew a right-front and made hard contact with the wall to bring out the seventh caution flag. 43. Jeb Burton , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Burton spun on Lap 3 and cut a tire on Lap 192 to bring out the caution flag twice on Sunday.
RELATED: Full race results " Updated Chase grid " Series standings SHOP: Harvick gear DOVER, Del. -- By Jove, he's done it again! Forced to win at Dover International Speedway to keep his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship hopes alive Sunday, Kevin Harvick did just that, dominating Sunday's AAA 400 to stave off elimination from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . In a virtual carbon copy of last year's Chase race at Phoenix, where the 2014 premier series champion had to win to advance to the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway , Harvick led 355 of 400 laps (a career best at any track) in winning for the third time this year and the 31st time in his career. "I think we're better than we were last year, just because of the experiences and things that we've had," Harvick said after the race. "I think when we look at everything that’s gone on over the last couple of years, it's just been a lot of fun. "So, it's just that never-quit attitude. That's what (team co-owner) Tony Stewart said when we went to Homestead last year. He said, 'Whatever you do, do not quit until they throw that checkered flag.' " Harvick won the race and secured his first Sprint Cup title by a half-second over Ryan Newman in the 2014 race. But there was one major difference between last year's must-win race and the one on Sunday. Phoenix is Harvick's best track. At Dover, on the other hand, he had never won before and had posted just four top-five finishes in 29 previous starts. As fast as Harvick's No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet was, however, none of the statistics mattered. After a restart with 24 laps left, he pulled away to a 2.639-second victory over Kyle Busch , who, likewise, secured a berth in the 12-driver Contender Round with his second-place finish. Nor did the stats help Jimmie Johnson , whose shocking ouster from the playoffs took place at the Monster Mile where he holds a record 10 victories. The six-time series champion pitted his No. 48 Chevrolet at Lap 104 and brought it to the garage shortly thereafter, with a failed rear axle seal. Johnson lost 36 laps while his team replaced the rear end housing and was credited with a 41st-place finish, leaving him 12 points shy of the Chase cutoff, which came down to a tiebreaker for the 12th and final spot between third-place finisher Dale Earnhardt Jr . and fourth-place Jamie McMurray . Joining Johnson and McMurray on the Chase sidelines were Paul Menard (25th Sunday) and Clint Bowyer (14th), who, like Harvick, faced a win-or-bust scenario at the one-mile oval track. Narrowed to 12, the field for the Contender Round now includes Challenger Round winners Matt Kenseth (Chicago), Denny Hamlin (New Hampshire) and Harvick, as well as Carl Edwards , Martin Truex Jr ., Kurt Busch , Jeff Gordon , Brad Keselowski , Kyle Busch , Newman and Earnhardt Jr. But on Sunday, Harvick showed his hand as the speed horse in the Chase, just as he was last year. Harvick's car was fast last week at New Hampshire, but he ran out of fuel while leading with three laps left to create the must-win scenario at Dover. "Anytime you can go through moments like this and gain some momentum and prove to yourself that you can do things like this, there's no way you can't be stronger," Harvick said. "I'm just so proud of those guys and so proud of our fans and everybody for all their support all week. There it is -- stay the course." Kyle Busch conceded Harvick's victory was bad news for everyone else still in the Chase. "The way he ran today -- hell, yeah," Busch said. "That was a guy that we wanted to knock out. That's a guy that can win all these races, and you don't want to have to compete against a guy like that. "But that's why they're as good as they are, and they were last year's champion, so they're going to have an opportunity to continue on. We'll see what happens. There's still two more rounds to figure out who's going to make it to Homestead."
After the third race of the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway , PitTalks.com ranks the 16 Chase teams' pit crews. For more pit crew news provided by PitTalks.com come back throughout the Chase . No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Carl Edwards Rank: 1 Wins: 2 -- Charlotte and Darlington Notes: This crew had an exceptional race in the pits. We usually wouldn't send a seventh-place team last week to first this week, but these guys laid down some very fast stops. They had an issue late in the race that brought the No. 19 down pit road, but we're hearing it was a car issue, not a crew misstep. No. 22 Team Penske Ford pit crew for Joey Logano Rank: 2 Wins: 3 -- Daytona, Watkins Glen, Bristol Notes: After a struggle last week on a few stops, this crew was on fire at Dover. It gained spots on five of the six pit sequences and helped keep the No. 22 up front all day. No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Kevin Harvick Rank: 3 Wins: 2 -- Las Vegas and Phoenix Notes: This team did everything it needed to do to advance to the Contender Round of the Chase. The pressure this crew was under was huge, and team members were in a situation where mistakes weren't tolerated. They had fast stops all day and have earned the third spot. No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Kurt Busch Rank: 4 Wins: 2 -- Richmond and Michigan Notes: This has been a top team all year and it continued to put up good times at Dover. The stops weren't as fast as the top two teams in Dover, but they were still very good. Late in the race the car entered pit road with problems on the left front, but that wasn't on the crew. No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Denny Hamlin Rank: 5 Wins: 2 -- Martinsville, (Sprint All-Star Race), Chicago Notes: The first stop of the day was blistering for this crew: sub 11 seconds. But after two speeding penalties it seemed the wind was taken out of the team's sails. We still wouldn't bet against them when the race is on the line ... it just wasn't this weekend. No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Matt Kenseth Rank: 6 Wins: 5 -- Bristol, Pocono, Michigan, Richmond, New Hampshire Notes: Dover wasn't a great race for the No. 20 nor was it a bad one. The crew made adjustments on the back of the car during the second stop and lost a few spots, but after that it was solid for most of the day. This team wasn't as dominant as last week but was still fast. No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Kyle Busch Rank: 7 Wins: 4 -- Sonoma , Kentucky, New Hampshire, Indianapolis Notes: Landing in the seventh spot this week is the good ol' No. 18 car. What a drama-filled two weeks for these guys! They seem to be handling it well. Their stops looked fast, and Josh Leslie has stepped in nicely for Nick Odell. We see this team only getting faster during the next round. No. 2 Team Penske Ford pit crew for Brad Keselowski Rank: 8 Wins: 1 -- Fontana Notes: This crew didn't do enough to gain on the top seven, but was good enough to hold onto eighth. Even with a change in the rear changers three weeks ago, this team keeps getting better. In order to help the No. 2 car advance to the next round, they must continue to improve. No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Ryan Newman Rank: 9 Wins: 0 Notes: Newman is in the Contender Round of the Chase, and he had no problems on pit road that would have kept him out. Sometimes that is what is asked of the pit crew: don't make mistakes. We can't fairly say how fast their stops were. So with that, they stay hunkered down at No. 9. No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet pit crew for Jeff Gordon Rank: 10 Wins: 0 Notes: Nick Odell joined the No. 24 this week only one week after being released from JGR. The crew seemed to be OK, but we didn't see much that would push us to move it up from the past two weeks. No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Martin Truex Jr . Rank: 11 Wins: 1 - Pocono Notes: The No. 78 has seen better days but did what it took to advance. On the fourth sequence, it lost a spot and lost two more on pit stop No. 6. They're a scary crew because they can put up very low times, but the inconsistency is what keeps them near the bottom of the power rankings. No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet pit crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr . Rank: 12 Wins: 2 -- Talladega and Daytona Notes: This crew can't seem to catch a break. Toward the end of last week a change was announced and front changer Scott Brzozowski was taken off the No. 24 and put on the No. 88. They had a loose wheel on Stop 2 and had another potential wheel coming loose before the last caution. For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Jimmie exits Chase early The AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway represented the final race of the Challenger Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , and Kevin Harvick was able to stave off elimination with a victory. See who advanced to the Contender Round and whose title dreams have come to an end. Advancing: Matt Kenseth Joey Logano Denny Hamlin Carl Edwards Martin Truex Jr . Kurt Busch Jeff Gordon Brad Keselowski Kyle Busch Ryan Newman Dale Earnhardt Jr . Kevin Harvick Eliminated: Jamie McMurray Jimmie Johnson Paul Menard Clint Bowyer Up next: Bank of America 500 , 7 p.m. ET, Oct. 10 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). This will be the opening race of the Contender Round, and the advancing drivers will see their point totals reset to 3,000. Who it favors Most wins: 5— Jeff Gordon Best driver rating: 106.6— Kyle Busch Best average finish: 10.2— Joey Logano Who it hurts Fewest top 10s: 4— Brad Keselowski (in 12 starts) Worst driver rating: 79.0— Ryan Newman Worst average finish: 19.1— Kurt Busch
RELATED: See all 43 cars for Darlington " Full starting lineup DARLINGTON, S.C. – With two races left before the start of the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , Brad Keselowski got the momentum builder he needed with Saturday's pole-winning effort at Darlington Raceway . "Boy, this feels good," said Keselowski , who toured the treacherous 1.366-mile Lady in Black in 27.492 seconds (178.874 mph) to edge Kurt Busch for the top starting spot in Sunday's Bojangles’ Southern 500 (7 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The Coors Light Pole Award was Keselowski's first of the season, his first at Darlington and the ninth of his career. The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion has but one top five to his credit in six previous starts at the track "Too Tough to Tame," but NASCAR’s switch to a low-downforce configuration for this race seemed to suit the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford. "For my team, we haven't had, to date I would say, as strong of a year as what we had last year, and I think that kind of wears on everybody a little bit, including myself," Keselowski said. "But I feel like we have positive momentum, and you always want to see results that showcase that, and this is one of those results that I feel like we can carry for the next 12 weeks. "I'm just really pleased with today's qualifying effort and the momentum we're carrying." With tire fall-off a clear reality at Darlington, Busch set the fast speed of the time trials in the first round, running 179.501 mph to edge Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (179.389 mph) by .017 seconds. Through each subsequent round, the top speeds declined as tires accumulated wear, with Keselowski leading both the second and final sessions, the latter of which determines the pole winner. Kevin Harvick , last year’s winner from the pole, qualified third at 177.415 mph, followed by Joey Logano (177.319 mph) and Jeff Gordon (177.192 mph). Harvick, though, didn't seem particular worried. "I feel a lot better about it in race trim than I did in qualifying trim," said the reigning Sprint Cup champion. "We try to concentrate on that the most, because there is so much falloff. The cars are going to slide around so much that I really feel like the cars need to be as manageable as you can make them throughout the night. "It's really not about the first two or three laps. You've got to be able to stay in there and be able to maneuver your car and be comfortable and keep it off the wall for at least 400 miles so that you can be around at the end. So, we'll try to take care of our car and make sure we do everything right and get our car adjusted so that we're ready for the last 100 miles of the race." There was plenty of suspense throughout the three rounds of knockout qualifying. Denny Hamlin , pole winner for Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series race at the Lady in Black, had to bump his way into the top 24 late in the opening round. Three-time Darlington winner Jimmie Johnson was the last driver to punch a ticket to the second round, bumping Matt DiBenedetto by .009 seconds for the 24th spot. But Johnson's run ended with a 19th-place run in the second session. Trying to squeeze enough speed out of her No. 10 Chevrolet, Danica Patrick tagged the outside wall during her final run in the first round, forcing the team to roll out a backup car. Accordingly, Patrick will start from the rear of the field on Sunday. RELATED: See Danica hit the wall in qualifying Fast in Friday's practice, Greg Biffle also sustained damage to his No. 16 Ford after contact with the wall in the second round. Biffle was credited with a 24th-place qualifying effort, and his team opted to try to repair the car, rather than resorting to a backup. Note: Josh Wise , Timmy Hill and Travis Kvapil failed to make the 43-car field.