Chad Knaus accepts Crew Chief of the Year Award
Chad Knaus, crew chief of the No. 48 team, accepts the Crew Chief of the Year Award at the 2016 Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon.
Secret weapon? Grubb's JGR past could help Hendrick
MORE: Buy tickets for Homestead-Miami Championship Weekend Darian Grubb, who spent the past four years as a crew chief at Joe Gibbs Racing , says his time there could be beneficial as Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson attempts to win a record-tying seventh Sprint Cup Series title this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "I hope so," said Grubb, now the vehicle production manager at HMS. "If nothing else, it helps me to understand a little bit more about how their mentality was and how they approached races and what they did to prepare. Some of the strategies and the choices you would make going into a championship race, I know what they had done in the past." Johnson is the lone HMS representative in this year's Championship 4 and is going into battle against a pair of JGR drivers in defending series champion Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards , as well as Team Penske representative Joey Logano . "The sport changes so much day to day, year to year; I don't know that it's a huge advantage but hopefully it's something I can help Jimmie and Chad (Knaus, crew chief) a little bit with," Grubb told NASCAR.com on Tuesday. "Just 'Here's what their old mindset was and how they would approach things in the past.' Just so they can think about it." Since the beginning of 2016, chassis production and body hanging programs have been under Grubb's watch at HMS. He also provides engineering consultation and support to all four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams fielded by the organization. He understands the race-day pressure, having weathered the storm from atop the pit box. Grubb was the lead engineer for the 48 of Johnson and the 24 of then-driver Jeff Gordon in 2006 when he was pressed into service after Knaus received a four-race suspension for violations before the Daytona 500 . Grubb helped guide Johnson to the Daytona 500 win as well as a win three weeks later in Las Vegas. Johnson went on to capture the first of five consecutive championships that season. RELATED: Why Johnson will win the 2016 championship He moved to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009, and two years later Grubb was a part of one of the biggest comebacks in series history as driver Tony Stewart won five of 10 Chase races, including the season-ending event at Homestead. Stewart beat Edwards to win his third series crown. In an unusual turn of events, Grubb was released by SHR following the '11 season, a move that had been determined before the start of the 10-race playoff. During his four-year tenure at JGR, Grubb led Denny Hamlin to seven victories; paired with Edwards last year, the No. 19 team won twice and finished fifth in the overall standings. Monday evening, Grubb got the chance to relive the 2011 championship as NBCSN replayed the race and Stewart chimed in via Twitter throughout the event. "Watching it on TV, it all came back to me," Grubb said. "I felt like I was living in the moment again. There was just so much drama that happened. "It was so much fun to be there, honestly. We had nothing to lose; we could not finish worse than second no matter what happened. And we knew if we won, there was no way that Carl could win the championship regardless of leading the most laps and all those other things. We just had to win and that was our mindset. "We went to the back I think three times. Had some bad pit stops and all kinds of damage to the car that we overcame -- then the rain two times. It was just fun. We could smile and laugh about it the whole weekend and just never get really stressed out. That's what made it so much more enjoyable when it was all done." At one point Monday evening, Grubb tweeted that he hoped Johnson was watching the replay "to get fired up." "Because I got so fired up watching that to go to Homestead now," he said. "That track is so awesome; to be able to run so many different lines and three- and four-wide passes. Just knowing what Jimmie is capable of, I think it's going to be hard for anybody to count him out. We just have to make sure we don't do anything to take ourselves out and let Jimmie go out there and earn it." Can Johnson win No. 7 at Homestead, one of four tracks where he has yet to visit Victory Lane? The No. 48 entry will be one that's been run elsewhere with good results. "It's been back to the wind tunnel and had some more love applied to it," Grubb said. "We're hoping it goes out there and unloads fast. "We've got Jimmie Johnson so that'll put us a leg up on anybody at any given time." The season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 is scheduled for Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC, MRN, SiriusXN NASCAR). MORE: Johnson has never had to win at Miami
@nascarcasm: 2016 Twitter Awards
At the end of every NASCAR season, we like to honor those who went the extra mile on social media. Twitter is a powerful tool -- it allows you to do everything from blaming Jimmie Johnson for things that he has no bearing on, to fart-shaming your dog (Hi Dale.). So without further ado, we give you this year’s winners by category. THE KEVIN HARVICK AWARD FOR INSTIGATION: DALE EARNHARDT JR. Carl Edwards texted me to say thanks for giving him room and he said @joeylogano was a "poop face" #LiesAllLies pic.twitter.com/NeURxwlxG6 — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) June 27, 2016 Dale Earnhardt Jr . manages to not only stoke the raging feud between Carl Edwards and Joey Logano , but also manages to give us a glimpse into the blazing hot takes Carl Edwards would bring should he ever join Twitter. I mean, Carl played the “poop face” card. Checkmate, fool. BEST TWEET THAT HAD TO BE DELETED BECAUSE PR PEOPLE HATE FUN: COLE PEARN Furniture Row Racing crew chief Cole Pearn took great exception to Joey Logano ’s driving at Auto Club Speedway this year, and responded with a tweet that you probably took a screenshot of. While we can’t reveal the exact wording of said tweet, we can say that it referenced Logano’s perceived lack of vision. It read like a polite guy from Canada trying to sound mad and intimidating. Cole really brought his “Eh” game! ACHIEVEMENTS IN HILLBILLY ENGINEERING: JIMMIE JOHNSON Yep pic.twitter.com/vtoJpP56D0 — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) May 30, 2016 The day after the Coca-Cola 600 , Jimmie Johnson posted this gem, featuring an innovative amalgam of a Lowe’s beverage dispenser and PVC pipe. It invokes imagery of Junior Johnson in coveralls, working tirelessly on a moonshine still somewhere in the deep woods, trying to work up a fresh batch while avoiding the watchful eye of Johnny Law. Except instead of Junior Johnson, it’s Jimmie Johnson . But instead of coveralls, he’s likely in a form-fitting Gap v-neck, Tommy Bahama bathing suit and Sperry topsiders. Think Water Cooler Dale is fun to talk to? We guarantee Margarita Cooler Jimmie much more talkative. RISING STAR AWARD: DALE EARNHARDT JR. Nephew Wyatt's first day on the go kart. #NextGeneration #HereWeGoAgain pic.twitter.com/9BvRPGs3A2 — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) July 29, 2016 Imagine being Dale Earnhardt Jr .’s nephew. It is impossible to have a cooler uncle. You can go by his house to play in a Wild West town, see old wrecked race cars, and hang out in a dope treehouse. You also get to turn laps in a go-kart, as Wyatt did in this tweet. Dale himself took a few laps later. They were as slow as you’d expect from a grown adult on a kart with about four horsepower. But he still outran the Premium Motorsports No. 55 car. BEST INSPIRATIONAL TWEET THAT ALSO MADE FANS AFRAID TO SIT IN THE FIRST FEW ROWS OF THE GRANDSTANDS: KEVIN HARVICK My mood for the next 11 weeks. pic.twitter.com/ewssWFvL7G — Kevin Harvick (@KevinHarvick) September 6, 2016 A good tweet and a good animated GIF. But there was confusion as to whether it was metaphorical (As in Kevin Harvick ’s approach in the Chase would be like that of a raging bull) or literal (Before every race, Kevin Harvick will run up in the stands and rip off your pants and boxer shorts with his horns). Regardless, it earned him the nickname "El Toro," which by our count is nickname No. 56. SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN "......HAY GURL….": RYAN BLANEY Who needs coffeee, when you can just look at this... pic.twitter.com/qayVpRwxLZ — Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) April 8, 2016 "‘Hay gurl. 'Sup. My name's Ryan. Find me on Tinder. I turn left. U gonna swipe right." "WELL THEN JUST MAINTAIN A CRUISING ALTITUDE OF 4,999 FEET INSTEAD OF FART-SHAMING YOUR DOG” AWARD: DALE EARNHARDT JR. When he gets above 5000 feet he drops an air bagel every 3 minutes. It's awful. I claim mine. #noShame https://t.co/M00AphWFsn — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) April 24, 2016 Gus has quickly learned there’s a price to fame. Sure, you have acres and acres on which to cavort, relieve yourself and hump a live buffalo’s leg, but you also have to accept your Twitter-happy owner oversharing your digestive shortcomings. Maybe it’s not the altitude --maybe you shouldn’t feed him bananas and mayonnaise. Ever think of that? "WEIRD -- THESE M&M’S TASTE LIKE SMALL-KIBBLE BEEF AND CHICKEN FOR PETITE BREEDS" AWARD: BREXTON BUSCH Turned around for .2 seconds pic.twitter.com/WkA1tDIgVj — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) March 31, 2016 No explanation needed. SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN NOT KNOWING WHERE YOUR GINGER BEARD ENDS AND THE DOG BEGINS: DALE EARNHARDT JR. . @Amy_Reimann driving all us dogs to the groomer. Little one freezin his tail off this cold mornin. We makin due. pic.twitter.com/S9ehO9FF6u — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) April 6, 2016 We realize this is like his 30th Twitter award. Deal with it. When it comes to Twitter, Dale is our own personal Meryl Streep. "WOW -- SO THAT ISN’T ACTUALLY A JOKE" AWARD: CLINT BOWYER Dear @YETICoolers . Good news..these keep a beer crazy cold. BAD news.. I lost my Father's Day present.. Don't float pic.twitter.com/6pL8THO8Fs — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) June 21, 2016 So he DOES actually get distracted by shiny objects. Cray. SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN VANDALIZING YOUR OFFSPRING: LANDON CASSILL No one is safe in our house. Poor helpless lil babe @landoncassill pic.twitter.com/50PlhySXpk — kaitlan cassill (@kaitlancassill) April 26, 2016 Landon spares no one when it comes to distributing the most ubiquitous sticker of 2016 (Aside from that "I Voted" one). Even his own son. Imagine the party when this kid turns 38. "THEY SEE ME ROLLIN’ / THEY HATIN’ / PATROLLIN’ BECAUSE THEY KNOW MY DIAPER’S DIRTY" AWARD: BREXTON BUSCH "Yo, what's up my homie?" pic.twitter.com/YIRX9sXZVq — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) April 20, 2016 He probably pulled alongside Kyle and offered to sign his hat. "OH HEY -- HELLO AGAIN, LUNCH. SO GREAT TO SEE YOU" AWARD: KEVIN HARVICK Today's pre draining foot status... #nasty pic.twitter.com/E9RSfOpbtd — Kevin Harvick (@KevinHarvick) June 29, 2016 After Sonoma , Kevin Harvick felt it would be prudent to share this picture. Very few free Bloomin’ Onions were handed out that week, because, well, turns out a grotesque, close-up image of a bulbous water-balloon of a blister squashes appetites like a bug. "DO WE TELL HIM THAT'S ACTUALLY A BAT" AWARD: JOEY LOGANO We got Frankie a new friend...meet Luigi Logano pic.twitter.com/dEIBGBTbxj — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) July 6, 2016 Yes, Luigi is cute. But look at those ears. That’s a bat. A damn bat. WIth four legs. Likely the result of some bizarre genetic-splicing experiment that took place deep in the cavernous underground of the Team Penske race shop. It probably sleeps during the day and awakens at night and hangs from the ceiling. And barks in a deep, gruff tone like Christian Bale. That’s a bat. RECOGNITION FOR FAILING TO CONVINCE US THAT IT’S ACTUALLY CALLED A SATCHEL AND THAT INDIANA JONES HAD ONE: TY DILLON @tydillon I love your man bag pic.twitter.com/UO0shRqikb — Haley Dillon (@HaleyKDillon) July 12, 2016 Imagine Ty Dillon getting into a fight like his grandfather. "HOLD MY FASHIONABLE MAN PURSE." "LEAVIN’ THE 'G' OFF GERUNDS BECAUSE THE LADIES BE LOVIN' THAT" AWARD: DALE EARNHARDT JR. Every time @DaleJr says "weddin" it warms my heart #socute — Amy Reimann (@Amy_Reimann) August 2, 2016 Dale Earnhardt Jr . talks like a Cracker Barrel menu. “WE FINALLY FOUND SOMETHING THAT JIMMIE JOHNSON MAY ACTUALLY NOT BE VERY GOOD AT" AWARD: JIMMIE JOHNSON One of those liquid courage moments. I have no skills, this didn't end well. #TBT #2001 @SteveParkee pic.twitter.com/AsOG4FOrL0 — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) August 11, 2016 Jimmie (Who sort of looked like Dave Matthews back in the day) finally confessed to not being absolutely perfect at something! Who knew? Apparently he can’t sing or play guitar. But this is probably before Chad Knaus made a few adjustments on the guitar and Jimmie went back out and performed "Fire And Rain" better than James Taylor ever has. THE "KIDS ARE SO CUTE WHEN THEY COMMIT TREASON" AWARD: JIMMIE JOHNSON @mattkenseth pic.twitter.com/NUhGbdePHq — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) August 10, 2016 Jimmie’s daughter declaring her unwavering support for Matt Kenseth is the surprising part of this tweet. The unsurprising part? That Johnsons can even win at those completely unwinnable claw games. THE "HEY PERSON WHO JUST CAUGHT THAT VERY BIG FISH -- PLEASE LET ME HOLD IT AND TAKE A PICTURE WITH IT THAT I PROMISE I WON’T TWEET OUT AND TELL PEOPLE THAT I ACTUALLY CAUGHT IT. EWWWW THESE THINGS ARE SLIMY AND GROSS" AWARD: JAMIE MCMURRAY Here is a pic of my big fish. BC is one of the most beautiful places I have been in the world. pic.twitter.com/8OxZIE62tX — Jamie McMurray (@jamiemcmurray) August 11, 201 EDITOR’S NOTE: We have no evidence of this. Only hearsay and assump tion. THE " WELL NOW YOU KNOW HOW DANICA FEELS WHENEVER YOU TAKE A TEAM PHOTO" AWARD: KURT BUSCH One man short of a Lithuanian Allstar Basketball team. #waterboy #ballers pic.twitter.com/TSf99KlhvL — Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) June 16, 2016 Next time you post a picture like this, please provide caption information, as we didn’t know which one you were, Kurt. THE "WE JUST HOPE HE DIDN’T ASK YOU TO HOLD ONTO THE RING BEFORE HE POPPED THE QUESTION" AWARD: JOEY LOGANO Congrats to Jordan & Megan! #SheSaidYes pic.twitter.com/Tjy67k88MR — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) September 4, 2016 "Megan...you are the love of my life. And I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you...um...Joey?” (LOGANO CHECKS POCKETS) “MAN I JUST had it, I promise…” THE "OH I SEE SO Y’ALL PEE IN YOUR FIRESUITS EVERY SUNDAY BUT I SOIL THE INFIELD GRASS AND SUDDENLY I’M THE BAD GUY” AWARD: GUS THE DOG Gus fertilized the lawn @CLTMotorSpdwy tonight. pic.twitter.com/hkdfxdhwH1 — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) October 5, 2016 Gus: "Oh wait -- you said 'SIT'? My bad."
Could Jimmie, Chad have been split up before the Chase?
Rick Hendrick speaks with the media at Homestead-Miami Speedway about the possibility of Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus being split up during the summer months when Hendrick Motorsports was struggling.
Meet Tim Fedewa, Kevin Harvick's spotter
RELATED: Meet Denny Hamlin's spotter, Chris Lambert Editor's note: This is the fifth in a series of interviews with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series spotters. Tim Fedewa, Spotter for Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet How did you get started spotting in NASCAR? I was running a Busch car, kind of at the back end of my career, so I knew I needed to figure out something to keep food on the table. It just came about that Bill Elliott needed some help on Sundays. Kristine Curley (PR) was working for Evernham at the time, we were friends. That's kind of how I got going. Just kind of did it part time for different teams. Like I said, I knew my driving career was going down so I knew I better do something and that evolved into a job spotting. Do you have any other duties with the team? Not really. I help out and do what I can but in today's world there are a lot of people that just have their specialty. I spot for Stewart-Haas but at the track on the weekends I also will do an XFINITY , Truck, ARCA, K&N race. Whatever is on the track, I'm spotting for that as well. I work with JR Motorsports, the 88 car for (Alex) Bowman when he drives it; sometimes for Josh Berry . But when the other Sprint Cup drivers get in it, they have their spotters. And that makes sense. I'll spot for Spencer Gallagher in the Truck Series, Noah Gragson in the K&N Series, Chad Finley in ARCA. We do whatever is here. That's how we make our living. The more races the better, actually. How long have you been spotting for Kevin? Since he started with the 4 car in 2014, so this is my third year. I was with (Marcos) Ambrose before at Richard Petty Motorsports . When they started this deal at SHR, I came over. You mentioned working with Bill Elliott earlier, was that the first time as a spotter? I might have done a little bit before then but I don't think I did a whole lot because I was still driving. I might have helped a few guys up on the roof a couple of times. But I was kind of thrown into it in Sprint Cup . It couldn't have worked out better for me because Bill, he didn’t need a spotter. He was so seasoned and good that I was just up there making noise in his ear, probably. But for me it was a good experience that I had a guy like him. If I had a rookie that really needed my assistance at the time I probably wouldn't have been much help. But for me it worked out well because Bill … he was awesome. What's been the most bizarre thing you've witnessed from the spotters' stand? Probably the (Juan Pablo) Montoya deal (at Daytona). That was … with it being a night race and flaming up like that, it was pretty surreal. What's been your most memorable experience as a spotter? Miami when we won the race and won the championship. There was a lot of stress that day for everybody. The Chase brings a lot of stress, each race you move on and advance the stress level for the team advances, as well. I just remember thinking that day, "Everybody has to do their own thing and do it right." To have Kevin win the race and the championship, it was (great). What's one thing fans might not realize about your job duties? I guess being away from your family. For anybody in racing, that's the hardest part. You have different struggles from day to day in your job but as far as being on the roof and working the races, restarts are tough. You can't predict what's going to happen. You try to predict it in your head and you get in trouble. So I just go into every restart with an open mind. You think you know the tendencies of the other drivers but that's where you get in trouble. You think, "OK, this guy doesn't like going to the bottom (of the track); guys like Kyle (Busch) or Kurt (Busch), if they can get to the top and go, they're going to go." But you think that and it's in your head but if that doesn't happen, you stumble on your words … I just kind of try to go in there and tell 'em what's happening. Just give them the best picture you can. Which driver would make a good spotter and why? I can tell you that Kevin has owned his own team; he's watched it from above and he is just really smart. I always tell everybody that if I had had somebody like Kevin helping me when I drove, I'd probably still be driving or would have had a longer career anyway because he's so smart. Not only as a driver. Usually when I tell him something, he already knows it. He's already got it figured out. I'm Captain Obvious, that's what I call myself. Between him and Bill, as far as knowing everything about not just driving but who has what tires, what strategy they're thinking, he's already thinking ahead and got that figured out. Do you have a favorite track? I like Bristol. Because everything happens so quick, you're talking all the time. It is what it is. Clear is clear and you can't take it back. If you get them in a hole you better hope that it's there. We stand down in Turn 1 and I can see the whole track. I don't have to move my head back and forth like I would if I'm at the start/finish line, so I've got a good view of it. You can still get in trouble there and I have as a spotter – a couple of years ago we were coming off (Turn) 4 and there was a wreck in 1 and by the time you see it and say it, we still got in it. It's a tough race track when wrecks happen. But as far as when you’re running good and passing cars, it's a blast. Superspeedway racing is fun, it's different. You're talking a lot, always trying to figure out the best input to give your driver. It's a challenge, there's a lot going on. What is one thing the average fan might not realize about your job? Probably just how serious we take it. It's stressful for sure. Yeah, we're here racing but we put our heart and souls into it. It's like I'm driving the car every weekend. I take it that serious. Nowadays, spotters are thought of as a competitive advantage – what can we do for the team to make it better? In all reality, we're there to keep Kevin or whoever safe. That's the bottom line so that's the stressful part. That's why we’re up there, to keep everybody safe. So whatever we do to get a competitive advantage, keeping your driver, and the other drivers, safe is still the priority.
Jesse Little teams with ThorSport for Truck debut
NASCAR Next driver to make first national series start at Dover Team Little Racing announced Friday afternoon that it has reached an agreement with ThorSport Racing for a part-time schedule for NASCAR Next driver Jesse Little in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season. Little , 18, had previously announced that he would make his truck tour debut May 29 at Dover International Speedway . Friday's announcement provided extra detail on his 2015 plans, including the partnership with ThorSport -- winner of the last two Camping World Truck Series championships with veteran Matt Crafton . "To have this alliance and support from ThorSport Racing for my Truck Series Events is a huge step forward for me, Team Little Racing and our partners," Little said in a release provided by his team. "Our goals are to put together solid finishes and represent ThorSport Racing, Duke Thorson and our sponsors including NASCAR Technical Institute and Performance Friction Brakes in a first-class manner." Thorson has fielded trucks in the series since 1996. His three-truck effort this season includes rides for Crafton, Johnny Sauter and rookie Cameron Hayley . "We look forward to supporting Jesse as he makes his transition into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series," Thorson said. "We feel that this alliance with ( Little ) will assist him in reaching his ultimate goal in NASCAR." Little will have a familiar face atop the pit box in Harold Holly, a 19-time winner as a crew chief in what is now called the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The veteran wrench spent two seasons as crew chief for Little's father, Chad , in both XFINITY and Sprint Cup competition. "Jesse is an impressive young man in so many aspects of life," Holly said. "He's a strong student, treats everyone with respect and is eager to learn new things. From a racing perspective Jesse has won at every level he's competed on, takes care of his equipment, provides his team with good feedback and knows how to pace himself during a race. This partnership with ThorSport Racing will give us a chance to compete at one of the sport's top levels where Jesse can show his skills. "We have solid goals, will work to be a good teammate and always be respectful on the track. As a team we're excited to get to Dover and see what our team can do in our Camping World Truck Series debut." Jesse Little is in his fourth season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, where he was the rookie of the year in 2013. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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.
Watch NASCAR's Victory Lap on the Vegas Strip
Watch the full replay of NASCAR's Victory Lap on the Las Vegas Strip as all 16 drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup take to the streets with their best burnouts.
Johnson: 'I will never be the King or the Intimidator'
Jimmie Johnson recaps a victorious season and acknowledges the great Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt as he joins them with seven NSCS Championships.
Jesse Little looks ahead to Truck debut
NASCAR Next driver set to take on Monster Mile DOVER, Del. -- Sporting a grin from ear to ear, Jesse Little walked into the media center on Thursday at Dover International Speedway ready to take on the weekend. Piloting the No. 97 Carolina Nut Company Toyota for ThorSport Racing, the 18-year-old K&N Pro Series East regular and NASCAR Next driver will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at the Monster Mile on Friday. "I've been looking forward to this weekend for a long time," Little said. "I know this is a family-owned team and we've put a lot of hard work and preparation into this weekend and I think my Camping World Truck Series start at Dover is something that still hasn't hit me yet. But I'm certainly excited and I love coming to this place. I enjoy it very much and I'm looking forward to a great weekend." Sitting side-by-side to Little during the press conference were two of the Truck Series' youngest drivers, 17-year-olds Cole Custer and John Hunter Nemechek . With just a total of 23 starts shared between the two drivers, they offered Little any bit of advice they could give for his first Truck start. "I'd say take it easy, especially the first lap of the race," Custer advised Little . "It's amazing how much the air affects these things. I was honestly scared for my life the first time I did it." In Custer's first start at Dover last season he finished 14th. "Just finish the race," Nemechek told Little with a chuckle. "Run as many laps as you can to get the experience." In Nemechek's first start at Dover last season he finished sixth. Little , Custer and Nemechek are all on this season's NASCAR Next roster and agree that the program has brought the young drivers together. "It makes it enjoyable for us as drivers when we know we have someone we can go to and talk to and they'll understand," Little said. "It makes it easier and at the same time it makes it fun." Manning Little's pit box is another familiar face to the young driver. Harold Holly, a 19-time winning crew chief in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and former pit boss for Little's father, Chad , who is currently NASCAR's managing director, technical inspection/officiating. Holly will be calling the shots during Friday's Lucas Oil 200 (5:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). "Harold and I go way back ... He's always been a great family friend," Little said" "Him and I have great chemistry and that goes the same for the ThorSport guys. It's been great to have their help. I have the ability to lean on (ThorSport teammates) Matt (Crafton) and Johnny (Sauter) and those guys and their knowledge is amazing and I'm definitely going to use that for my advantage and lean on those guys quite a bit this weekend." Lucky for Little , ThorSport Racing teammate Crafton just so happens to be a two-time Camping World Truck Series champion. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule