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No. 48 Sprint Cup team loses practice time for Kansas
The No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team of Jimmie Johnson will lose 15 minutes of practice time this week at Kansas Speedway after NASCAR posted penalties coming out of Talladega weekend. The No. 48 team failed template inspection three times during pre-race for Sunday's GEICO 500 . NASCAR also gave written warnings to the No. 44 Richard Petty Motorsports team of Brian Scott and the No. 98 Premium Motorsports team of Cole Whitt , each for two failed pre-race inspections. In the XFINITY Series, NASCAR docked the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team of Ty Dillon 15 minutes of practice time for failing laser inspection three times. The Nos. 0 ( Garrett Smithley ), 4 ( Ross Chastain ), 28 ( Dakoda Armstrong ), 43 ( Jeb Burton ), 70 ( Derrike Cope ) and 85 ( Bobby Gerhart ) teams all received written warnings for failing laser inspection twice.
Pursuing NASCAR's triple crown intrigues Bobby Labonte
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Bobby Labonte quietly bowed out of full-time Sprint Cup Series competition at the tail end of the 2013 season. No retirement tour, no gifts. Certainly no ponies. The 2000 premier series champion has selectively dabbled in the sport since, however, with a handful of unremarkable starts at Indianapolis and the restrictor-plate tracks, knowing the pack racing may be his last remaining shot at picking up his first -- and likely final -- Cup victory in more than a decade. Labonte will run in Sunday's GEICO 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Talladega Superspeedway , his second of a scheduled four-race slate in 2016. While not sure if this same type of deal will continue to be available to him in future years, the brother of NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte hinted at an interestingly hush-hush opportunity that could be coming down the pipeline later on this season. "I do have a couple other possibilities I am excited about that might come to fruition later on in the year that I didn't see coming around the corner but they are opportunities that might lead to something that I have been more excited about than anything I have done in my career," Labonte said Friday at Talladega. "Racing is still a big passion of mine and I know I am not going to go do a lot of things I used to do but there are still some opportunities out there that are still up on my radar that I would like to do." But what does he have left to prove? What racing goals remain? "That is a great question, too. Winning any race. It might be a bicycle race. Racing at the Sprint Cup level has gotten so intense that if you can't do it every weekend … (Talladega) is different as we all know. Last weekend and next weekend is different than here," Labonte said. "It is one of those things that I guess I kind of want to race more in a way but I don't want to race more in some ways. I don't want to do it every weekend but I know there are different series you can do that aren’t quite as strenuous as this. "My brother told me one time after about two years of retirement, 'You know, you will have a lot more friends later that you didn't know you had.' And that is true. I am enjoying that. As far as racing goes I am enjoying it and my opportunity is only four times right now through a little bit of what I want to do and a little bit from other people." One remaining goal is obvious: becoming NASCAR's first Triple Crown winner by notching a championship at each of its three national series levels. Labonte has the two arguably tougher feats down, winning the XFINITY Series (then Busch Grand National) title by 74 points over Kenny Wallace in 1991, then taking his first and only Sprint Cup Series (then Winston Cup) title by a wide, 265-point margin over Dale Earnhardt in 2000. It's a long shot, and Labonte admits that "everything has to line up right," but he's at least considered the prospect of running for a Camping World Truck Series title. He has 10 career starts in the series, with one win (2005 at Martinsville). "It is absolutely something that we have talked about and met with some people about," Labonte said. "I couldn't just make it happen by snapping my fingers and we couldn’t quite get it all lined up. I definitely had it in my mind that it was something I really wanted to do. I would still entertain that but there is also a point where if you can chase the championship that is one thing, and you can do it in a lot of ways. "When I started racing when I was little, the passion was to race and win and that is what you want to do. You want the chance to do that. We did it back then and I think the Truck Series is very appealing to me. I loved it when I did a few of them for a couple of guys and won a race and finished in the top five quite a bit. It is definitely a different level and the garage area is a lot calmer there than it is in the Sprint Cup Series and it kind of, at this point in time, is very appealing."
The Rundown: Talladega driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings Breaking down the full field for the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway : 1. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. Keselowski stayed out of trouble all day, and that was the difference in picking up his second win of the year and fourth at Talladega. Big pushes from Jamie McMurray and Kyle Busch helped, too. Keselowski led a race-high 46 laps, including the final 17. Grade: A+ 2. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. The No. 18 was stout all day and kept Busch ahead of the crashes, although the 18 did receive a nudge at the outset of the 21-car wreck on Lap 161. He finished second for the second consecutive week for his eighth top-five finish of the season. Grade: A+ 3. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Car chief Greg Osborne summed up Dillon's day on Twitter: "We pitted 17 times. Wrecked 4 times. Ran out of tires. We were 32nd 1 lap down. We NEVER quit." Dillon was thrilled with the finish and credited the team for not panicking: "It was wrecked, and we finished third!" Grade: A+ 4. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Despite being collected in the 21-car wreck on Lap 161, McMurray scored his first top five of the season. It was his seventh at Talladega, tying the superspeedway with Charlotte for McMurray's most top-five finishes. Grade: A 5. Chase Elliott, No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott started from the pole and led the first 13 laps and 27 overall. Even though he posted his third top-five finish in the past four races, Elliott said the No. 24 team was "pretty lucky to get where we got to." He avoided trouble -- and all the wrecks -- by running near the front most of the race. Grade: A 6. Tony Stewart /Ty Dillon, No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart made his second start of the season, but unlike last week at Richmond, he didn't finish the race. Stewart, who missed the first eight races of the season because of a back injury, gave way to Dillon -- as planned -- during the second caution. Dillon then navigated through two big, multicar accidents to bring home the No. 14 with its second top 10 of the season. Stewart gets the points and the top-10 finish, but it doesn't take away the spotlight from Dillon. Grade: A+ 7. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Bowyer survived involvement in the 12-car wreck on Lap 161 to post his best finish of the season and second top 10 in the past three races. Grade: A 8. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Busch was the catalyst for the 21-car wreck on Lap 161 when he got into the back of Jimmie Johnson while running in the top 10. Busch emerged unscathed to restart fourth. Later, he couldn't hold the lead after the last restart on Lap 186 and is now 0-for-61 in restrictor-plate races. Grade: C. 9. Ryan Blaney, No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney survived the 21-car wreck on Lap 161, and the 12-car wreck on Lap 181 happened right behind him. His good fortune resulted in his third top 10 of the season. Grade: A 10. Trevor Bayne, No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. A speeding penalty on his first pit stop was no omen. Bayne spent plenty of time in the top five on Sunday, while leading 22 laps. (He led 12 laps in the previous nine races.) His average running position was 8.6, fourth best, and that -- along with good fortune -- kept him out of every wreck Sunday. Grade: A 11. Landon Cassill, No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Cassill had an eventful day to find himself just outside the top 10 with one lap to go after surviving a pit-road penalty on his first stop and eluding big trouble in the race's two biggest multicar wrecks. But his grade drops a notch because it was Cassill who started the final multicar wreck. He was running 12th when he turned Cole Whitt into Kevin Harvick , touching off a seven-car wreck and a caution just before the leaders reached the finish line. Grade: B- 12. Michael Waltrip , No. 55 Toyota, Premium Motorsports. Making his 60th start at Talladega, Waltrip posted his best finish at the superspeedway since finishing fourth three years ago. Waltrip survived an early scare on Lap 59 when Joey Logano pushed Martin Truex Jr . into the back of Waltrip, who was running fifth at the time. Waltrip went onto the apron but came back onto the track and spun, narrowly avoiding contact. Grade: B+ 13. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing. Truex was running in the top 10 immediately behind Kurt Busch when Busch made contact with Jimmie Johnson to ignite the 21-car wreck on Lap 161. Truex's Toyota returned to the track all taped up before sustaining even more damage in the seven-car wreck that happened just before Brad Keselowski took the checkered flag. Grade: B- 14. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. The multicar wreck at the finish had Allmendinger on his knees next to his battered Chevrolet, but it couldn't overshadow his fourth top-15 finish at Talladega in 13 starts and his first lap led of the season. Grade: B 15. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick raced among the leaders for most of the afternoon and led four times for nine laps before sliding across the finish line sideways in a damaged car, one of seven cars involved in a crash leading up to the checkered flag. Grade : A 16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse was able to avoid major damage in the 21-car wreck on Lap 161 but sustained heavy damage coming to the finish line when he was collected in the seven-car pileup. Grade: B 17. David Gilliland , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Gilliland survived the late wrecks for a top-20 finish in first start of the season (he failed to qualify at Daytona). It was his best finish since an 11th in the 2015 Daytona 500 . Grade: B 18. Cole Whitt, No. 98 Toyota, Premium Motorsports. Whitt was just outside the top 10 with one lap to go but couldn't improve his position before taking a hard hit against the outside wall as he approached the finish line. It was the fifth top-20 finish of his career and first since his career-best 13th at Talladega a year ago. Grade: A 19. Bobby Labonte , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing. Making his second start of the season (he finished 31st at Daytona), Labonte avoided major damage in the 12-car wreck on Lap 181 and scored his first top 20 since the 2014 Daytona 500 . Grade: A 20. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. That Biffle finished 20th should come as little surprise. His average finish at Talladega is 19.7, and he finished 20th last October at Talladega, too. Grade: C 21. Michael McDowell, No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. McDowell produced his second-best finish of the season (he finished 15th at Daytona) despite being involved in two of the day's biggest wrecks along with drawing the ire of Danica Patrick . Grade: B- 22. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The No. 48 was caught up in two wrecks, the second the 21-car monster on Lap 161, which sent the 48 to the garage for repairs. Johnson returned and finished six laps down. Grade: C 23. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hard-luck Kenseth's eventful day didn't end when his car got airborne after contact from Danica Patrick and came down on its roof on the backstretch with eight laps to go. Well after the race, he had heated words for nemesis Joey Logano , who had forced him below the yellow line with 15 laps to go. Those two events obscure the fact Kenseth led 39 laps, second only to winner Brad Keselowski 's 46. Grade: B 24. Danica Patrick, No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Patrick's race ended with her hitting the inside wall violently with eight laps to go after contact from behind by Michael McDowell . "I've hit the inside wall of a superspeedway I think maybe like four times now and that was the worst," she said. "I know I got drilled from behind and turned sideways … and hello wall." Grade: C 25. Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. Logano was still sore from his wreck on the final lap of Saturday's XFINITY race, and his day ended in the 12-car wreck on Lap 181. His aggressive driving initiated the second caution, and there also was his contact with Matt Kenseth that resulted in an earful from Kenseth after the race. Logano didn't want to discuss what Kenseth said, instead saying, "Two days in a row, a couple big hits; can't wait to get out of this place." Grade: C- 26. Paul Menard, No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Menard was in the top 10 having a good run -- but at the wrong time. He was running beside Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson on the outside when Busch turned Johnson right into Menard's Chevrolet, setting off the 21-car wreck on Lap 161. Twenty laps later Menard's day ended in the 12-car wreck on Lap 181. Grade: C 27. Aric Almirola, No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Almirola was collected in two wrecks, with the second one, a 12-car mashup on the backstretch with eight laps to go providing the knockout blow to the No. 43. Grade: C 28. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman was running around 15th place when the 21-car wreck on Lap 161 began right in front of him. His Chevrolet sustained damage and left the scene trailing flames. He finished 10 laps back. Grade: D 29. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson led nine laps and had the lead three-quarters of the way through the race. Larson was running just outside the top 10 when Kurt Busch hit the back of Jimmie Johnson two cars in front him, touching off a 21-car accident that collected his Chevrolet. Grade: C 30. Brian Scott, No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. The rookie's promising day was derailed after the big wreck on Lap 161. He finished 16 laps back, his most off the lead this season. Grade: D 31. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin's trouble on the track extended to pit road, where he had two incidents and several penalties. He also sustained damage in the 21-car pileup on Lap 161. Grade: D- 32. Regan Smith, No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Smith was running in the top 10 with 30 laps to go but was collected the Lap 161 wreck and finished 20 laps back. Grade: D 33. Casey Mears, No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Mears spun into Aric Almirola on Lap 59 after he was hit by Michael Waltrip , sending the No. 13 to the garage for repairs. It wasn't Mears' fault, but he still finished 22 laps back. Grade: C 34. David Ragan, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Ragan was running 24th and within a second of the lead when his engine expired on Lap 151. Grade: D 35. Carl Edwards, No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards' two-race winning streak came to an abrupt halt. On Lap 110 "something let go" and the No. 19 ran up the track and pinned Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s No. 88 to the wall, ending the day for both drivers. Grade: F 36. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. The No. 83 suffered damage in the first wreck of the race. Engine issues ended his day after 98 laps run. Grade: F 37. Chris Buescher, No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Just past the halfway point, Buescher's car became the first of the day to go airborne and flip. Buescher called the wreck "miserable" and a "bummer." He was right. Grade: F 38. Michael Annett, No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Annett was collected in the same wreck that sent Chris Buescher flipping. Annett's Chevrolet smashed hard into the inside wall, ending his day. Grade: F 39. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne followed his best finish of the season (fourth at Richmond) with a two-crash dud, the second a single-car accident that brought out the fifth caution. Grade: F 40. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Terrible day for the 88. Earnhardt's first crash was similar to his crash in the Daytona 500 -- the back of his car came around. "We missed something this morning," he said. "It shouldn't have been on the splitter that hard." Then when he returned to the track after repairs, his steering wheel came off. On Lap 110, Earnhardt's day ended when Carl Edwards ran up the track and smashed into his Chevrolet. Grade: F.
Cobb, John Hunter Nemechek lead 'Dega practices
Practice 2 recap " Practice 2 results Jennifer Jo Cobb led the final Camping World Truck Series practice at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, putting up a high speed of 182.965 mph on Lap 9 out of 11. This is Cobb's fifth start at the famous 2.5-mile superspeedway and she is without a pole in her Truck Series career. Coming up short to Cobb was Austin Hill at 182.954 mph. Terry Jones, (182.954 mph), Bobby Gerhart (182.926 mph) and past Talladega winner Johnny Sauter (182.762 mph) round out the top-five fastest on the leaderboard. Timothy Peters is the defending race winner at the track and was 11th-fastest in the closing practice. The Red Horse Racing driver was third-fastest in the first session. Eighteen-year-old John Hunter Nemechek led the series' opening session on Friday, but did not come out for the second session. There was one caution brought out in the final minutes of practice for fluid on the track. The Camping World Truck Series returns to the track tomorrow for Keystone Light Pole Qualifying at 10:30 a.m. ET (FS1). The fred's 250 presented by Coca-Cola begins Saturday at 1 p.m. ET (FOX). Practice 1 recap " Practice 1 results John Hunter Nemechek led the opening Camping World Truck Series practice at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, notching a top speed of 191.608 mph on his 15th lap out of 21 total. This is the 18-year-old driver's first start at the Alabama track. John Wes Townley came up short to Nemechek, and was second-fastest at 191.604 mph. Defending race winner Timothy Peters was third-fastest at 191.528 mph. Truck Series points leader Erik Jones (190.189 mph) and Ben Kennedy (188.947 mph) round out the top-five fastest on the leaderboard. One caution came out during the 55-minute practice for debris on the track. Aside from Peters, the only other past Talladega winner in the field is Johnny Sauter who was seventh-fastest (188.907 mph) in the opening session. The Camping World Truck Series returns to the track today at 3 p.m. ET for final practice before Saturday's Keystone Light Pole Qualifying at 10:30 a.m. ET (FOX Sports 1). The series' fred's 250 presented by Coca-Cola begins Saturday at 1 p.m. ET (FOX).
XFINITY Series Subway Firecracker 250 starting lineup
See where every driver will start Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN Pos Car Driver Team Time 1 18 Daniel Suarez # ARRIS Toyota 49.929 2 2 Brian Scott Shore Lodge Chevrolet 50.048 3 20 David Ragan (i) Interstate Batteries Toyota 50.140 4 22 Joey Logano (i) Discount Tire Ford 50.164 5 54 Erik Jones (i) Monster Energy Toyota 50.193 6 3 Ty Dillon Yuengling America's Oldest Brewery Chevrolet 50.242 7 33 Austin Dillon (i) Rheem Chevrolet 50.243 8 16 Ryan Reed Lilly/American Diabetes Association Ford 50.351 9 62 Brendan Gaughan South Point Chevrolet 50.381 10 1 Elliott Sadler OneMain Financial Ford 50.398 11 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 50.446 12 15 Scott Lagasse Jr. Florida DOT Chevrolet 50.454 13 60 Chris Buescher Bit-O-Honey Ford 50.286 14 6 Darrell Wallace Jr . # Cheez-It Ford 50.302 15 7 Regan Smith Fire Alarm Services Chevrolet 50.306 16 42 Brennan Poole DC Solar Chevrolet 50.395 17 43 Dakoda Armstrong WinField Ford 50.412 18 26 Timmy Hill (i) JGL Racing Toyota 50.497 19 98 Aric Almirola (i) Fresh from Florida Ford 50.541 20 66 Benny Gordon SomersetRegionalWaterResources Chevrolet 50.599 21 88 Kasey Kahne (i) Ragu Chevrolet 50.692 22 8 Blake Koch Celsius Healthy Energy Cola Toyota 50.692 23 25 John Wes Townley (i) Zaxby's Chevrolet 50.699 24 01 Landon Cassill Flex Seal Chevrolet 50.712 25 44 David Starr Zachry Toyota 50.767 26 85 Bobby Gerhart Lucas Oil Chevrolet 50.799 27 92 Dexter Bean CrashClaimsR.us Chevrolet 50.878 28 28 JJ Yeley Texas 28 Spirits Stage Toyota 50.888 29 89 Morgan Shepherd Courtney Construction Chevrolet 51.007 30 90 Martin Roy Gamache Truck Center Chevrolet 51.038 31 74 Mike Harmon FatBobsGarage.com Dodge 51.056 32 39 Ryan Sieg Uncle Bob's Self Storage Chevrolet 51.135 33 70 Derrike Cope EvergreenFabrication&IndustrialServices Chev 51.148 34 4 Ross Chastain # Flex Shot Chevrolet Owner Points 35 0 Harrison Rhodes # Flex Seal Colors Chevrolet Owner Points 36 51 Jeremy Clements RepairableVehicles.com/BRTExtrusions Chev Owner Points 37 14 Cale Conley # IAVA Toyota Owner Points 38 52 Joey Gase FaithofourFathers/SupportMilitary.org Chev Owner Points 39 24 Eric McClure Hefty Easy Grip Cups Toyota Owner Points 40 97 Peyton Sellers # Vroom Brands Chevrolet Owner Points
Sprint Cup qualifying order for Talladega
# Car Driver Team 1 7 Regan Smith Golden Corral Chevrolet 2 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger/Hungry Jack/Crisco Chevrolet 3 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 4 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet 5 83 Matt DiBenedetto Dustless Blasting Toyota 6 46 Michael Annett Pilot Flying J Chevrolet 7 30 * Josh Wise Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 8 32 Bobby Labonte Rimrock Devlin Ford 9 23 David Ragan Schluter Systems Toyota 10 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Nationwide Chevrolet 11 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 12 43 Aric Almirola Fresh From Florida Ford 13 14 Ty Dillon (i) Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet 14 15 Clint Bowyer AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet 15 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet 16 34 Chris Buescher # Love's Travel Stops/CSX-Play it Safe Ford 17 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Fifth Third Bank Ford 18 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 19 19 Carl Edwards ARRIS Toyota 20 78 Martin Truex Jr Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota 21 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 22 44 Brian Scott # Twisted Tea Ford 23 38 Landon Cassill FR8Auctions Ford 24 3 Austin Dillon Dow - Energy & Water/Intellifresh Chevrolet 25 98 * Cole Whitt RticCoolers.com Toyota 26 27 Paul Menard Moen/Menards Chevrolet 27 18 Kyle Busch Skittles Marvel Toyota 28 35 * David Gilliland Shaw's Southern Belle Seafood Ford 29 21 * Ryan Blaney # Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 30 55 * Michael Waltrip Peak & BlueDEF Toyota 31 16 Greg Biffle Ford EcoBoost Ford 32 95 Michael McDowell Thrivent Financial Chevrolet 33 42 Kyle Larson Target Chevrolet 34 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 35 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 36 4 Kevin Harvick Busch Fishing Chevrolet 37 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 38 10 Danica Patrick Aspen Dental Chevrolet 39 41 Kurt Busch Monster Energy Chevrolet 40 24 Chase Elliott # NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 41 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet * Required to qualify on time, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Gerhart , BKR duo top Daytona NNS, Truck practices
Joe Gibbs Racing, Gerhart lead NNS practices, Reddick, Blaney fast in trucks
Being a crew chief 'the next best thing' for Kendrick
RELATED: Complete schedule " See the series standings STATESVILLE, N.C. – There's a huge difference between going fast and racing. Chad Kendrick says he was very good at the former, but the latter took some time to figure out. Today, the split-second decisions he makes come from atop the pit box, where Kendrick is crew chief for driver Daniel Hemric and the No. 19 Ford of Brad Keselowski Racing in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series. But there was a time at South Boston Speedway when the Late Models were hauling the mail around the 4/10th-mile oval … "It was the best race I was ever having," Kendrick, a native of Durham, North Carolina, said recently. "I was running fifth and Denny was leading. He spun or did something and had to go to the back." "Denny," of course, was Denny Hamlin , this year's Daytona 500 champion and winner of 27 NASCAR premier series races for Joe Gibbs Racing . "He drove right back through the field," Kendrick said. "I'm fourth now (after Hamlin went to the rear); he catches me and he's not wasting time; he just knocks me out of the way. I was so mad … my tongue's hanging out and I'm giving it everything I've got and this kid is just gone. And I can't catch him." Hamlin, Kendrick and a host of others cut their racing teeth on tracks such as South Boston, trying to race their way out of anonymity. South Boston and Langley and Orange County and Southern National have helped make stars and have just as likely crushed dreams. Hamlin might have had a better car on this particular day. But he might have had something else as well. "It kind of hit me then – 'Alright, I don’t have what they have,'" Kendrick said. "I can go run a good lap. But I can't run that lap 150 (times) in a row. I can't do some of the things they can do. "I would love to tell you if I'd had the money … but I don't think so. I maybe could have won a race here or there. But I don't have what Brad (Keselowski) has or Ryan (Blaney) or even Daniel -- I don't have what those guys have. I don't know what it is and I don't know where they get it from, but something's there that just clicks. They have it. This was the next best thing." RELATED: Sustainability goes from top to bottom with Penske, Keselowski Hamlin succeeded, eventually moving on from the small local venues to become a bona fide NASCAR star. Kendrick made his way out, too, but in a slightly different fashion. Kendrick is no anomaly. The NASCAR garage has its share of crew chiefs who raced and then, for one reason or another, eventually hung up their helmets. Crew chiefs Paul Wolfe (Keselowski) and Rodney Childers ( Kevin Harvick ) raced, as did Matt McCall ( Jamie McMurray ) and Greg Ives ( Dale Earnhardt Jr .) There were other stops along the way for most, other tasks to complete and other lessons to be learned. Kendrick's move to the pit box began innocently enough –- Timothy Peters , one of his former rivals from back in the Late Model days – offered him his first crew chief position prior to 2008. The two had worked together previously at Bobby Hamilton Racing (BHR). "I probably learned 75 percent of everything I know about racing from Bobby ," Kendrick said of the 2004 Truck Series champion. "He was really good … if you wanted to know, wanted to learn and grow, he was there for you. Very open and just an awesome guy. … "I loved working for him. I actually compare working here to working for Bobby ." Other stops followed and their paths wouldn't cross again until Peters called one day with an offer. A partial deal would put Peters on the track and Kendrick on the pit box. "He said, 'By the way, you're going to be the crew chief, the only mechanic, the only guy …" Kendrick said of Peters' proposition. How difficult could that be? Kendrick was about to find out. The two made only a handful of starts in '08 and by the next season, the team added a second truck for a few races just to start and park and stay afloat financially. When NASCAR instituted a new pit procedure rule for the Truck Series in '09, things didn't get any easier. "That was the year that you did pit stops where you couldn't do fuel and tires at the same time," he said. "We never had enough people. I was the crew chief, I would jack on the tire stop, come back, throw the helmet and apron on, and fuel (the truck) during the fuel stop." The saving grace was a midseason call from Red Horse Racing owner Tom DeLoach, who wanted both Peters and Kendrick for his organization. The payoff came a few months later, in late October at Martinsville. Peters led 84 laps en route to his first series victory. It was Kendrick's first win as a crew chief, and remains his most memorable. "One, it was at Martinsville with Timothy," he said. "He and I had been through so much. … Going through all that and to get him his first win just meant a lot. "The win last year (at Bristol Motor Speedway ) with Blaney was the most exciting. It was the most dominant truck I've ever had and special in that as soon as we unloaded for practice, it was 'OK, we’re the truck to beat.' Blaney qualified on the outside of the front row and led the first 37 circuits at Bristol before a penalty for jumping the restart send him to the rear of the field. "Then he drives all the way back through the field and wins the race," Kendrick said. "That one was just really cool. You can be the best truck and you don't win because your crew had a bad stop or something breaks or somebody gets into you … anything. The smallest things can happen. … But Ryan got determined. So that one is up there." Kendrick's six wins have come with five different drivers – Peters, Blaney (2), John King , Parker Kligerman and Joey Logano . "I wanted to give Brad his first (Truck) win," Kendrick said, adding it was a "big battle" between he and fellow Brad Keselowski Racing crew chief Doug Randolph. But it was Randolph calling the shots when the team owner/driver made it to the winner’s circle, also at Bristol in 2014 "Just a couple of weeks ago, Brad gave Joey the truck we won with last year at Martinsville. I told Joey 'Don’t ever run another truck race,'" Kendrick said. "Because I'm probably not going to be known for much of anything, but at least I can tell my grandkids I gave Joey Logano his only truck win.' Doesn’t mean a lot, but …" RELATED: Inside the new Chase format for the series Now, he'll try to add Hemric to his list of winning drivers. Hemric, 25, is in his first season with the organization and sits seventh in points after three races. Teammate Tyler Reddick , 20, is a two-time race winner and driver of the team’s No. 29 with the veteran Randolph calling the shots. He's 16th in points. Next up for the series is the Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway (Friday, May 6, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the first of a three-week swing that includes stops at Dover International Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway . Kendrick said both drivers are ready to get back on the track. Expectations remain high. "At the front end of the year I would have told you we’d have a win by now," he said. "I really thought we would. We've had brand new trucks all three races. "I know we’ll win a race, both of our guys. I don't think stretch to say we'll win 2-3 in a row, between our teams."
Joe Gibbs Racing
Manufacturer: Toyota Engine manufacturer : TRD Debut season: 1992 Owner standings Joe Gibbs Racing was launched in 1991 by former NFL head coach Joe Gibbs. As Gibbs looked to move from coaching to a new chapter in his career, his friend Don Meredith was looking for opportunities to race in NASCAR, and the team was born with its first season of premier series competition coming in 1992. In 1993, driver Dale Jarrett won the Daytona 500 for JGR's first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. Bobby Labonte took to the drivers seat, replacing Jarrett, in 1995. Since then, the team has claimed three championships in the series: in 2000 with Bobby Labonte and '02 and '05 with Tony Stewart , who became the team's second driver in 1999. The team expanded to a third full-time car in 2006 with J.J. Yeley behind the wheel. 2012 brought Joe Gibbs Racing its 100th Cup win, when Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . In 2015, JGR expanded to a fourth full-time car with Carl Edwards behind the wheel of the No. 19 Toyota. JGR is based in Huntersville, NC, with over 450 employees in a facility of 250,000 square feet. Visit the team's web site here. Follow Joe Gibbs Racing on Facebook and Twitter . Driver: Denny Hamlin Car Number: #11 Hometown: Chesterfield, VA Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie Year: 2006 Primary team members: Crew Chief: Mike Wheeler " Hometown: Southold, NY Car Chief: Leo Thorsen " Hometown: Stoughton, WI Spotter: Chris Lambert " Hometown: Kannapolis, NC Over-the-wall crew: Gasman: Caleb Hurd " Hometown: Pulaski, VA Front Tire Changer: Dustin Necaise " Hometown: Gulfport, MS Front Tire Carrier: Brandon Pegram " Hometown: Statesville, NC Jackman: Nate Bolling " Hometown: Swanton, OH Rear Tire Changer: Mike Hicks " Hometown: Salisbury, NC Rear Tire Carrier: Heath Cherry " Hometown: Belmont, NC Pit Crew Coordinator: Paul Alepa " Hometown: Vienna, VA JGR Athletic Director: Mike Lepp " Hometown: Charlotte, NC Road crew members: Truck Drivers: Frank Hodel " Hometown: High Bridge, NJ, David Ott " Hometown: St. Mary's, PA Tire Specialist: Kerry Ferris " Hometown: Perry, NY Shock Specialist: Drew Bible " Hometown: Coldwater, MI Engineer: Matt Beckman " Hometown: Glenview, IL Engineer: Sam McAuley " Hometown: Huntersville, NC Mechanic: Troy Welty " Hometown: Manchester, PA Mechanic: John Furino " Hometown: East Meadow, NY Interior Mechanic: Sean Kerlin " Hometown: Marysville, PA Driver: Kyle Busch Car Number: #18 Hometown: Las Vegas, NV Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie Year: 2005 Primary team members: Crew Chief: Adam Stevens " Hometown: Portsmouth, OH Car Chief: Nate Bellows " Hometown: Fairfax, VT Engine Specialist: Mike Johnson " Hometown: Bozeman, MT Spotter: Tony Hirschman " Hometown: Northhampton, PA Over-the-wall crew: Gasman: Tom Lampe " Hometown: Beatrice, NE Pit Support: Marcus Bonicelli " Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO Pit Support: Jeff Koons " Hometown: Greenfield, IN Front Tire Changer: Josh Leslie " Hometown: Mount Clemens, MI Front Tire Carrier: Brad Donaghy " Hometown: Orange County, VA Jackman: T.J. Ford " Hometown: Charlotte, NC Rear Tire Changer: Jake Seminara " Hometown: Steubenville, OH Rear Tire Carrier: Kenny Barber " Hometown: Hoosick Falls, NY Road crew members: Truck Drivers: Brendan “Slim” Greene " Hometown: Midland, NC, Jamie “Montana” Price " Hometown: Choteau, MT Tire Specialist: Gregory Katzke " Hometown: Wausau, WI Shock Specialist: Chris Chase " Hometown: Nichols, NY Engineer: Ben Beshore " Hometown: York, PA Engineer: Gene Watchtel " Hometown: Clearwater, FL Front End Mechanic: Brandon Griffeth " Hometown: Pittsfield, IL Rear End Mechanic: Chris Jones " Hometown: Smith Mountain Lake, VA Mechanic: Todd Foster " Hometown: Birmingham, AL Interior Mechanic: Wesley Lape " Hometown: Sinking Spring, PA Driver: Carl Edwards Car Number: #19 Hometown: Columbia, MO Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Primary team members: Crew Chief: Dave Rogers " Hometown: Marshfield, VT Car Chief: Eric Phillips " Hometown: Canton, IL Engine Specialist: James Dudley " Hometown: Porterville, CA Spotter: Jason Hedlesky " Hometown: Clinton, MI Over-the-wall crew: Gasman: Kenneth Purcell " Hometown: Savannah, GA Windshield: Zack Miller " Hometown: Vista, CA Front Tire Changer: Clay Robinson " Hometown: Simi Valley, CA Front Tire Carrier: Kevin Harris " Hometown: Sanford, FL Jackman: Trey Burklin " Hometown: Charlotte, NC Rear Tire Changer: Matt Ver Meer " Hometown: Montezuma, IA Rear Tire Carrier: Kip Wolfmeir " Hometown: Kingdom City, MO Road crew members: Truck Driver: Kyle Bazzell " Hometown: Fairbury, IL Truck Driver: Bob Hannigan " Hometown: High Bridge, NJ Tire Specialist: Jamie Turski " Hometown: Trumbull, CT Shock Specialist: Ron Denton " Hometown: Bristol, VA Engineer: Lee Hallman " Hometown: Claremont, NC Engineer: Kenny Oates " Hometown: Miami, FL Mechanic: Matt Tyrrell " Hometown: Ft. Lauderdale, FL Fuel Runner: Ben Surface " Hometown: Pulaski, VA Driver: Matt Kenseth Car Number: #20 Hometown: Cambridge, WI Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie Year: 2000 Primary team members: Crew Chief: Jason Ratcliff " Hometown: Sumter, SC Car Chief: Jeff Meendering " Hometown: Concord, NC Engine Specialist: Gregg Wilson " Hometown: Charlotte, NC Spotter: Chris Osborne " Hometown: High Point, NC Over-the-wall crew: Gasman: John Eicher " Hometown: London, KY Front Tire Changer: John Royer " Hometown: Otis, KS Front Tire Carrier: Joe Crossen " Hometown: Salisbury, NC Jackman: Jason Tate " Hometown: Statesville, NC Rear Tire Changer: Adam Hartman " Hometown: Oxford, NC Rear Tire Carrier: Blake Haugland " Hometown: My. Ayr, IA Road crew members: Truck Driver: Dennis Valverde " Hometown: Albuquerque, NM Truck Driver: Tom McCrimmon " Hometown: Mount Pleasant, NC Tire Specialist: Jerold Shires " Hometown: Waiteville, WV Shock Specialist: Scott Myers " Hometown: Modesto, CA Engineer: Michael Lorusso " Hometown: Asburn, VA Engineer: Levi Porter " Hometown: Wyben, MA Mechanic: Alan Buzze " Hometown: Onondoga, NY Mechanic: Jason Overstreet " Hometown: Clearwater, FL
Bobby Labonte to run XFINITY race at Daytona
Huntersville, N.C. (February 10, 2016) – Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announced today a partnership with NOS Energy Drink, as primary sponsor of the team's No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Camry in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch , the all-time race winning driver in the history of the XFINITY Series with 76 wins, will drive his first NOS program race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and in subsequent races that total 16 XFINITY Series events this season. To kick off the 2016 race schedule at Daytona International Speedway , Joe Gibbs Racing and NOS Energy Drink are excited to announce they are also bringing back another champion for the XFINITY series program start, longtime race winner and past Joe Gibbs Racing veteran racecar driver Bobby Labonte . "We've always sought out the most determined, fearless and committed athletes to represent our company and brands," said Vice President of Sports Marketing, Mitch Covington. He commented further, "With Kyle (Busch) in the seat most of the year and a strong Daytona start with Bobby (Labonte), we have every reason to believe our program will win." The NOS Energy Drink brand is no stranger to victory lane with Busch. A partnership between the two earlier in his career afforded them much success together. Between 2011 and 2008 (Busch's first season with Joe Gibbs Racing ) the orange and blue NOS colors were represented across 25 races in the XFINITY Series when Busch earned seven victories and three pole-position wins to further their brand exposure. Also in 2008 Busch represented the NOS Energy Drink colors with one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series entry, in which he earned a second-place result. Newly minted 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Busch remarked, "I'm pumped to be back with NOS Energy Drink, a brand that supported me initially when I came to Joe Gibbs Racing . We had a lot of success together and I can't wait to win with them again!" In 311 starts over 13 seasons, Busch has proven himself to be the winningest competitor in the history of NASCAR’s XFINITY Series. In addition to 76 career wins, the 30-year old has recorded 186 top-five finishes, 48 pole-qualifying wins and 15,766 laps led. In 2010 Busch made series history with a record 13-win race season. Past XFINITY Series Championships for Kyle include a Driver’s Championship in 2009 and Owner’s Championships in 2010 and 2008 –- all with Busch’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and XFINITY Series team owner Joe Gibbs Racing . Labonte proved to be a strong selection to kick off the NOS Energy Drink program for the first race of the season as he rejoins Joe Gibbs Racing while they celebrate their 25th year of NASCAR racing. "I'm excited about the opportunity to drive for JGR again. I didn't think this would ever happen and when Joe called me about the program, it was a 'no-brainer.' Great race team, great cars, the opportunity is a good one. There would be nothing better than to hang a flag in this building too,” Labonte said of the Daytona opportunity in front of him with the No. 18 JGR XFINITY Series team. A Texas native, Labonte was an early driver of the No. 18 with JGR and earned them 21 victories and a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship in 2000. Labonte is also a NASCAR Champion in the XFINITY Series (1991) and the IROC Series (2001) and has victories recorded in all three of NASCAR's premier racing series. 2016 marks Labonte’s 30th consecutive year as a professional racecar driver. The No. 18 team's goal will again be to capture an Owner's Championship in the XFINITY Series. With Busch and Labonte confirmed and the recent announcement of Matt Tifft as driver of the No. 18 for races later in the schedule, crew chief Chris Gayle is eager to attack that goal. Gayle remarks, "Owners points matter and it's important for us to keep striving for that team goal. Looking forward to having NOS Energy Drink back with us and hopefully we are able to give them more trips to Victory Lane." Joe Gibbs Racing and NOS Energy Drink are two brands at the top of the field in their respective industries. With this partnership, the two have positioned themselves for great success together in 2016. NOS Energy Drink will be featured on the No. 18 XFINITY Series Camry for 18 total races this season: Daytona International Speedway (February 20, Labonte); Atlanta Motor Speedway (February 27, Busch); Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 5, Busch); Phoenix International Raceway (March 12, Busch); Auto Club Speedway (March 19, Busch); Texas Motor Speedway (April 8, Busch); Bristol Motor Speedway (April 16, Busch); Talladega Superspeedway (April 30, TBD driver); Pocono Raceway (June 4, Busch); Michigan International Speedway (June 11, Busch); Kentucky Speedway (July 8, Busch); Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 23, Busch); Watkins Glen International (August 6, Busch); Richmond International Raceway (September 9, Busch); Chicagoland Speedeway (September 17, Busch); Dover International Speedway (October 1, Busch); Kansas Speedway (October 15, Busch); Phoenix International Raceway (November 12, Busch).