Repeat hopes more reasonable after Daytona, heading into Kentucky Fresh off his best ever NASCAR XFINITY Series finish at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday night's third-place driver Chase Elliott humbly and repeatedly insisted his result was as much about good fortune as it was strategy or maneuvering. "It was completely, just luck of the draw as to where I was running when those wrecks happened, that's the reason we missed it, absolutely nothing I did," Elliott said. "We lucked into it. "The thing about it is this race rewards the same points as the others and that can be really good or really bad. For us unfortunately it was really bad the first two times this season (at speedways), so really happy to finish today and getting a top five was really big." The 19-year-old should give himself more credit, but he'll gladly take that third place and move on to Kentucky Speedway, where he hopes to launch a real run for his second straight XFINITY Series championship. Elliott's work Saturday night in Daytona Beach moved him into second place in the championship standings, 34 points behind leader Chris Buescher entering Friday night's race in Kentucky. It equals the JR Motorsports driver's highest ranking of the season and puts him in good position to defend his title as he prepares to move up into the Sprint Cup Series in 2016, taking Jeff Gordon 's seat in the No. 24 Chevrolet with Hendrick Motorsports . It's actually a familiar title scenario for Elliott . Last year, he arrived in Kentucky ranked third, 11 points out of the championship lead. He cut that to four points with a 12th-place finish (and rough nights for his closest competitors) then took over the points lead three races later with a victory in Chicago. Although Elliott has an impressive seven top-five and 12 top-10 efforts in 15 starts in the No. 9 NAPA Chevy, he is still looking for his first win of the season. The series is two races into a challenging 16-week run of competition, and Elliott has five top-eight finishes in the last six races. Buescher's best finish at Kentucky is seventh. "The best way to gain points is to win races," Elliott said. "I am confident we can do that. We have to get after it and really do our job the second half of the season. If there's any part that counts, this is it. So we need to get it done and capitalize. That starts this weekend at Kentucky where we had one pretty solid run the last time we were there. "You're coming into a long stretch, the second half of the season and it's a lot of racing, a lot of hard weekends, a lot of traveling for your guys. But a lot of your luck is created before you leave (the shop) and we need to make sure we stay on top of that side before we leave and go out there and try to win some races." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Chase Elliott talks about how suprised he was to hear that Jeff Gordon was retiring and how he never expected to be the one to take over the No.24 car.
Smith, Sadler, Blaney and Suarez advance to Dash 4 Cash at Bristol SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Regan Smith 's eighth place finish in Saturday's Lilly Diabetes 250 XFINITY Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway wasn't the victory he'd hoped for, but Smith and his JR Motorsports team was still able to celebrate having gotten one step closer to winning a million dollars in the series' Dash 4 Cash incentive program. While race winner Kyle Busch was hoisting trophies nearby in victory lane, Smith accepted a check for $100,000 as the second round winner of the Dash4Cash program. He also collected $100,000 on May 30, after winning the first round at Dover, Delaware. Any driver who wins the first three Dash 4 Cash awards then wins the final round race outright -- Sept. 5 at Darlington -- would total $1 million for the effort. Smith bettered championship leader Chris Buescher , Chase Elliott and Brendan Gaughan to claim Saturday's portion of the winnings. Smith, along with Indianapolis' runner-up Ryan Blaney , third place finisher Daniel Suarez and fifth place finisher Elliott Sadler now advance and are eligible for the third round of competition Aug. 21 at Bristol Motor Speedway. "We had three battles we were fighting today,'' Smith said standing alongside his No. 7 AmericasPower.org Chevy covered in pretend dollar bills. "First and foremost we wanted to win the race and we weren't capable of doing that today. We knew that so then we wanted to win the money and gain points on the 60-car and we did both of those things today and that's what we've got to keep doing every week. "I know as a company we're working hard to get going further forward. "I thought we could have been anywhere from 6th to 10th . We'll take that and we're going to bust our ass the rest of the year." Smith, last year's championship runner-up sits fourth in the rankings entering next week's XFINITY Series race at Iowa Speedway. He trails Buescher by 51 points. In the meantime, Smith joked that he already had an idea how to spend at least a portion of his now $200,000 Dash 4 Cash effort. "I'd like to buy a cool box, I'm really hot right now," he joked with a big smile. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver will lead field to green in Lilly Diabetes 250 (4 p.m. ET, NBC) RELATED: Full NXS Indy lineup Kyle Busch set a record for NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, pacing the field at a clip of 180.527 mph to pick up his first pole of the season. Busch will start the Lilly Diabetes 250 (4 p.m. ET, NBC, IMS, SiriusXM) on the front row alongside teammate Daniel Suarez (180.415 mph). Fellow Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones was third on the docket at 179.928 mph and will start next to Richard Childress Racing ’s Brendan Gaughan (179.087 mph). The record 'Rowdy' broke was his own, set last year at 179.888 mph. Former Brickyard 400 winner Paul Menard paced the first session at 180.411 mph but slipped to 178.873 mph in the second session to qualify fifth. All three JR Motorsports cars did not advance to the second and final round. Chase Elliott , Regan Smith and Kevin Harvick will start 13th, 14th and 16th, respectively. Alex Bowman , filling in for an ailing John Wes Townley in the No. 25, will start in between Smith and Harvick at 15th. Tune in Saturday afternoon for the Lilly Diabetes 250 from Indy. Coverage begins on NBC at 3 p.m. ET. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
JGR driver claims back-to-back poles at Loudon, Indy RELATED: Full Indy lineup INDIANAPOLIS -- If Toyota and Ford are to break the Chevrolet stranglehold on Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the two manufacturers took a positive step in that direction during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series time trials on Saturday. Underscoring the recent resurgence of Joe Gibbs Racing , Carl Edwards toured the 2.5-mile track in 49.056 seconds (183.464 mph) to put his No. 19 Toyota on the pole for Sunday's Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at The Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM), edging Joey Logano 's Team Penske Ford (183.139 mph) by .087 seconds. David Ragan (182.886 mph) qualified third in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. Fourth-place qualifier Tony Stewart (182.823 mph) had the fastest Chevrolet in the final round. Chevrolets have won the last 12 Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis. Stewart, though, had the fastest lap of the afternoon (185.547 mph) in the first round of time trials, which trimmed the number of drivers eligible for the pole from 46 to 12. The Coors Light Pole Award was Edwards' first at the Brickyard, his second of the season, his second in a row and the 15th of his career. "After yesterday, this is amazing," Edwards said. "We started so slow yesterday and we struggled. I think at one point (crew chief) Darian (Grubb) and I were looking at each other going, 'What are we going to do here?' "It was a struggle, and everybody buckled down, worked hard -- I'm so proud of my guys. TRD and Toyota have been putting so much effort into this whole program. Stanley has been behind us 100 percent -- not just me, but Matt Kenseth and our whole team. This is big. It will be neat to start up front." Kyle Busch , Edwards' JGR teammate, will start ninth on Sunday in search of his third consecutive victory in the Sprint Cup Series. Sidelined for the first 11 events of the season by injuries sustained in an accident at Daytona in February, Busch has won three of the last four races and has seven races left in which to regain eligibility for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by finishing the regular season in the top 30 in the series standings. Entering Sunday's race, Busch is 33rd in points, 58 behind David Gilliland in 30th place. Behind Stewart, Kyle Larson , Kevin Harvick , Clint Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr . will line up fifth through eighth on the grid. After qualifying, Logano and Ragan were quick to point out an unusual coincidence. Edwards, Logano and Ragan started 1-2-3, in that order, a week before at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a one-mile flat track. The Sprint Cup cars are running a completely different high-drag aerodynamic package this week, with a nine-inch-tall rear spoiler and a one-inch wicker. Last week at Loudon, the cars featured the regular 2015 rules package with a six-inch spoiler. "David and I were just laughing up here that these are the same three race cars that started up front at Loudon," Logano said. "A completely different race track, different package and the same cars are fast. It's good for us. We're close. Second always hurts, but it's nice to be up toward the front, especially here." Jeff Gordon 's final run at Indianapolis as a full-time driver didn't start the way the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet would have hoped. "I really think our 3M Chevrolet is really good," said Gordon, who qualified 19th. "It's been good all weekend. I feel like I underestimated the grip. I had a little wiggle out of three coming to the green and that concerned me slightly. The grip was there in Turn 4, and I was aggressive into Turn 1, but not aggressive enough. "That's what's disappointing; it wasn't a balance issue or a speed issue. I didn't get enough speed through (Turn) 1. It adds up with this new package. Yeah, I'm pretty disappointed to start back there." Notes: Josh Wise , Jeb Burton and Reed Sorenson failed to make the 43-car field. ... Ryan Newman ’s time was disallowed because he ran his lap without the mandatory right-side window in his car. Newman will start 43rd on Sunday on a provisional.
Late pass by Busch leaves Elliott with runner-up finish at Michigan RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings BROOKLYN, Mich. -- There wasn't so much of a silver lining Saturday afternoon for Chase Elliott , not after a surprise spring into the late-race lead and slight fade to second place, matching his best finish of the NASCAR XFINITY Series season. "I'll be honest," Elliott said. "Second does not feel good -- to me, at least." A win remains an elusive thing for the defending series champion, 13 races into the XFINITY season. Elliott led four laps -- his first since another runner-up finish at Iowa Speedway last month -- but was unable to hold off eventual Great Clips 250 winner Kyle Busch , who drove past him with four laps remaining to make his return to the series a victorious one. Though Busch was coming in with some XFINITY Series rust, idle since February as he recuperated from severe leg injuries in the season-opening race at Daytona, Elliott said he was by no means green in his second XFINITY start of the year. "He's obviously really good at what he does," Elliott said of Busch. "I really don't have an excuse for you. Yeah, he outran me." Elliott opened at a slight deficit after a miscalculation during qualifying kept him from making a lap in the last round, leaving him with the 12th and final starting spot among the final group. From there, the 19-year-old JR Motorsports driver pushed his No. 9 Chevrolet to the fringes of the top five in the first 20 laps. With the good fortune of an even-numbered running position during a handful of late-race caution periods, Elliott found himself in the more advantageous outside lane to make up even more ground on restarts during the race's second half. Elliott was lined up in the second row for the final restart with 10 laps left. When front-runners Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick tangled and sailed up out of the groove in a battle for the lead during the 117th of 125 laps, the teenager -- with a front-row seat for the fracas -- took advantage to grasp the lead for the first time all race. "It can happen at any given point. We see that every week," Elliott said of the contact in front of him. "When you have a car on your outside, the car on the inside is at a large disadvantage, especially depending on how much he crowds you so that can happen. I didn't really foresee it happening, not with those two, but you're racing hard for a win and people make mistakes. They made a mistake, but they didn't wreck and that's the difference there." After the parting of the Logano-Harvick seas, Elliott had clear sailing in front but a fast-closing Busch making headway toward the front. Once the Sprint Cup regular placed the youngster in his mirrors, Elliott radioed crew chief Ernie Cope to say he was wide-open on the throttle but powerless to keep Busch at bay. With the benefit of hindsight, Cope said post-race on pit road that he second-guessed the amount of downforce he had in the JRM No. 9, saying he needed a slightly smoother race trim to keep pace. "We just need a little bit," Cope said. "We've kind of changed our philosophy with how we've been running the car, and this is a step in the right direction. We just need to keep going that direction." That direction heads next weekend to Chicagoland Speedway , site of an XFINITY stand-alone event. Since next weekend's 300-miler won't be held in conjunction with the Sprint Cup Series, the amount of top-level double-dippers traveling to the Illinois track will likely be greatly reduced, potentially providing more opportunity for an XFINITY Series regular to visit Victory Lane. Rather than seeing Chicagoland as a ripe race to pick, Elliott said he would rather welcome the competition from Sprint Cup moonlighters. "I would much rather outrun people who are here at a companion event, to be honest with you, just so I don't have to listen to questions like that after a race up there," Elliott said. "That's just me. I enjoy racing companion weekends. I think it's good for everybody and definitely makes you feel better if you are able to outrun all the guys at those races." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
XFINITY Series champ will look to race his way into Sprint All-Star Race Chase Elliott will attempt to make next weekend's Sprint All-Star Race by running in the Sprint Showdown on May 15 (7 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), Hendrick Motorsports announced on Tuesday. Elliott must win one of the two 20-lap segments in the No. 25 Chevrolet SS to make the Sprint All-Star Race on May 16. "I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to run the Showdown," Elliott said in a release provided by the team. "It allows me to gain more experience with my NAPA Auto Parts team before we race again at Charlotte a week later." The 19-year-old will be busy the weekend of the Sprint Showdown as the NASCAR XFINITY Series will be at Iowa Speedway that weekend as well. Elliott will go back-and-forth between Iowa and North Carolina that weekend. "I'm grateful to Mr. Hendrick and everyone at NAPA for the chance to do it," he said. Elliott has made two Sprint Cup Series starts already with a third coming the week after the All-Star Race in the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24. "Those additional laps will be a tremendous benefit when it's time to run 600 miles," Elliott said. The defending XFINITY Series champion is also slated to make starts this summer at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway . Hendrick's four full-time drivers: Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon , Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Kasey Kahne are already locked into participating in the Sprint All-Star Race. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Dale Jr., Hamlin also topped Friday's practice leaderboards RELATED: See the new spoiler at Indy this weekend Practice 3: Full results Kurt Busch led the final Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network/Live Extra, SiriusXM). The Stewart-Haas Racing driver jumped to the lead near the end of the final session, putting up a high speed of 181.987 mph. Coming up short in speed to the No. 41 driver was Kevin Harvick (181.763 mph). Kyle Larson (181.357 mph), Jimmie Johnson (180.697 mph) and Martin Truex Jr . (180.672 mph) rounded out the top-five fastest on the leaderboard. Denny Hamlin led the series’ first practice at the Brickyard, but fell to 31st-fastest in the final round. Dale Earnhardt Jr . also led a practice session, but was 32nd-fastest, right behind Hamlin, in the closing run. Jeff Gordon , the defending race winner, finished 23rd-fastest in the final session. The Sprint Cup Series takes the track at the Brickyard for the Coors Light Pole Qualifying session tomorrow at 1:10 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network/Live Extra). Practice 2: Full results A fast lap of 181.466 mph sent Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s No. 88 soaring to the top of the leaderboard early during Friday's second practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Hendrick Motorsports driver found more speed in this session, having posted a high speed of 181.046 mph (ranked seventh) in the opening session this morning at the Brickyard. Team Penske 's Brad Keselowski came up just behind Earnhardt, scoring a fast lap of 181.448 mph in his No. 2 Ford to snag the second spot. Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne ranked third (181.408 mph), while Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates' Kyle Larson (181.378 mph) and Michael Waltrip Racing 's Clint Bowyer (181.331 mph) rounded out the top five. Last year's Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon showed speed again in this session, propelling around the famed speedway at 181.189 mph to earn the sixth spot. Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick was 14th-fastest, rounding the Indiana track at 179.583 mph in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Reigning XFINITY champion Chase Elliott -- who will be making his fourth Sprint Cup Series start in Sunday's 400-mile event -- clocked a fast lap of 178.798 mph in his No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, giving him the 17th-fastest speed in the field. After topping the opening practice, Denny Hamlin ran into trouble early in the second session when the hood of his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota flew up and hit the windshield. The bizarre occurance -- which NASCAR determined was caused by the hood not being properly pinned down -- brought out the caution for debris. His No. 11 team replaced the hood and the windshield and Hamlin returned to the race track to score the 12th-fastest speed. Paul Menard 's No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet returned to the track after hitting the wall during opening practice. The 2011 Brickyard 400 winner ranked 22nd on the leaderboard. Practice 1: Full results Denny Hamlin rose to the top of the leaderboard Friday morning in opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice as teams got their first taste of a new aerodynamic package at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hamlin drove the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota to a fast lap of 182.208 mph on the 2.5-mile track. The 34-year-old driver won the Coors Light Pole Award at the Brickyard in 2012. Jimmie Johnson , a four-time Brickyard winner, managed the second-fastest lap at 181.796 mph in the 85-minute session, but the show of speed was tempered by a fuel-pressure issue that brought the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet to a halt on the track at the 50-minute mark of practice. He was pushed back to the garage with help from the No. 14 Chevy of Tony Stewart . Defending Sprint Cup Series champion and current points leader Kevin Harvick was third-fastest at 181.756 mph in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet in preparation for Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM). Five-time Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon was fourth-fastest at 181.444 mph in preparation for his final race at the historic speedway. Gordon prevailed in the inaugural NASCAR race at Indy in 1994 and triumphed last season to top the series' all-time win list at the 2.5-mile track. Stewart, a two-time Brickyard winner, completed the top five on the leaderboard. With new aero devices in place to make the cars less smooth through the air, Hamlin's speed was significantly slower than Matt Kenseth 's 186.285 mph lap that led first practice at the Brickyard last year. The lap was also off the 188.470-mph pace set by Kevin Harvick in Coors Light Pole Qualifying at Indianapolis in 2014. The new high-drag rules package was designed with the hopes of promoting more side-by-side racing at the rectangular track, where passing has typically been difficult. The biggest aerodynamic change was to the rear spoiler, which was raised to a 9-inch height and capped by a new wicker bill on top. Though a portion of the larger spoiler is made of clear, hard Lexan plastic, a handful of drivers -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano among them -- complained of some visibility issues in their rear view. Chase Elliott , set to replace Gordon as a Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet next season, was 15th-fastest in preparation for the fourth Sprint Cup start of his career. His No. 25 Chevy from the Hendrick stables clocked a best lap of 179.939 mph. Former Indianapolis winner Paul Menard scraped the outside retaining wall at approximately the 30-minute mark, causing slight damage to the right side of the Richard Childress Racing No. 27 Chevrolet. After repairs, Menard was able to return to the track, setting the 21st-fastest lap. Two more practices are scheduled Friday for the Sprint Cup Series -- 1-2:25 p.m. ET and 4-5:55 p.m. ET, with both broadcast on NBC Sports Network. Coors Light Pole Qualifying, which will use single-car runs to set the 43-car field, is scheduled Saturday at 1:10 p.m. ET. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Chase Elliott talks about being happy with a top-five finish in the Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
Defending series champion comes to Fontana with three straight top-10s Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live After starting the season with a disappointing 28th-place showing at Daytona International Speedway , Chase Elliott looks like he's back in his 2014 form. The same form that allowed the 19-year-old JR Motorsports driver to run away with the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship. Since Daytona, Elliott has registered two fifth-place finishes and a seventh-place showing. He will attempt to run for his fourth consecutive top 10 in Saturday's Drive4Clots.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (4 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1). Elliott remains fond of the two-mile track where he finished sixth last season in his first-ever start there. "It's such a blast to race at Auto Club," he said. "There are so many different grooves drivers run, and that's what makes it so exciting. You may see four-wide as we fan out on restarts during Saturday's race. "If you're a race fan, this is a must watch, no question about it." Next weekend, Elliott will make his long-awaited NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at Martinsville Speedway , but first he must focus on defending his XFINITY Series title. The No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet driver ranks fourth in the standings, 25 points behind leader Ty Dillon . He hopes to close in on Dillon with a visit to Victory Lane. "The West Coast swing has been a good two weeks," Elliott said. "We are looking to close on a high note this weekend in California. A win would do that." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule