Four-time Truck Series champion will be back in action at Las Vegas and Texas NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Ron Hornaday Jr. will return to competition later this year in a deal put together by sponsor Rheem and NTS Motorsports with technical support from Richard Childress Racing . In a release posted on its web site, Rheem said the Atlanta, Georgia, based company would sponsor an entry for Hornaday for two of the final seven races in the series –- the Sept. 27 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as well as the Oct. 31 event at Texas Motor Speedway . According to the company, Rheem "has been working to find the best available truck equipment, crew and technical expertise in an effort to return Hornaday to the truck series before the end of the 2014 season." Hornaday, with funding provided in part by Rheem, was fourth in points when Turner Scott Motorsports officials ceased operations for the No. 30 team earlier this month. He did not compete at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park , dropping to sixth in points, and is not in Saturday night's Lucas Oil 225 at Chicagoland Speedway . NTS currently fields two Truck Series teams with Brennan Newberry and Gray Gaulding as the primary drivers for those teams and the organization has also had Michael Annett, Austin Dillon , John King , Justin Lofton , Chase Pistone and Jason White drive trucks for them this year. It is expected that the Hornaday team will be in addition to those two teams. "Rheem is pleased to play a part in bringing Ron Hornaday back to where he belongs … racing trucks to win and bringing excitement and enjoyment to Camping World Truck Series fans," Ed Raniszeski, managing director for Rheem Motorsports, said. "None of this would have been possible without the solid support of NTS Motorsports and RCR. "We all welcome Ron back and can't wait to see him back in the saddle." Hornaday is a four-time series champion, winning Truck Series titles in 1996, '98, 2007 and '09. He has 51 career wins in the series. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Pistone will make season debut at Martinsville
Win puts 2012 champion into Contender Round MORE: Full race results " Updated series standings RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota JOILET, Ill. -- For Brad Keselowski , this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup started the same way it did in 2012 -- with a victory at Chicagoland Speedway . Clearly, Keselowski would love to see the Chase end the same way it did two years ago -- with a series championship. Needing an extra pit stop to tighten a loose wheel under caution on Lap 183 of 267 in Sunday’s MyAFibStory.com 400 at the 1.5-mile track, Keselowski restarted 16th on Lap 187, mired in traffic behind a gaggle of lapped cars. But with a determined charge through the field and a couple of opportune cautions in the final 35 laps, Keselowski regained lost track position and put himself in position to make a dramatic race-winning move after a restart on Lap 250. With third-place finisher Kyle Larson battling Kevin Harvick for the lead on Lap 252, Keselowski powered between the two cars off Turn 2 and grabbed the lead. "I just saw a hole, and I went for it," Keselowski said. He held the top spot for a restart on Lap 262, after an accident involving the cars of Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , and pulled away to win his fifth race of the year and the 15th of his career by 1.759 seconds over Jeff Gordon , who passed Larson for the second spot in the closing laps. Joey Logano ran fourth and Harvick fifth, as Chase drivers took eight of the top 10 finishing positions. With his second victory at Chicagoland, Keselowski ensured he would advance to the next round of the Chase under a new format that features a trio of three-race elimination rounds and a final race at Homestead to settle the championship between the last four eligible drivers. With the starting order set according to speeds in opening Sprint Cup practice because of a qualifying rainout, Keselowski started 25th and worked his way to the front, only to fall back again when he brought the No. 2 Team Penske Ford to pit road to have the loose wheel tightened. "I'm not really sure what to say," said Keselowski, who can race for the next two weeks without fear of falling out of the Chase . "I don't really know what happened. I just know we got to the lead. There was traffic and I was just digging and in the zone. The recorder was turned off, so I don't remember what happened. "I had my head down doing all I could do. We had a great Miller Lite Ford Fusion that I knew from the start would be good, but, man, it was really awesome the last few runs. We really dialed it in and the 2 crew did an excellent job. What a day! Man, I am still pumped!" Larson, driving a backup car after a brush with the outside wall in Saturday morning practice, appeared headed for the first victory of his Cup career, before Carl Edwards ' cut tire brought out the fourth caution on Lap 231. That yellow, which interrupted a cycle of green-flag pit stops, leap-frogged Keselowski to the fourth spot for a restart on Lap 238. Seven laps later, caution for Clint Bowyer ’s contact with the Turn 1 wall set up Keselowski's opportunity to make the winning move. "Man, I was so close," a rueful Larson said of his lost opportunity. "I didn't need that caution there. I was just cruising out front, and then we got that yellow, and I had to battle Harvick really hard then. That allowed Brad to get by both of us. It really ended our shot at a win there. We had one more shot there at the last restart, but just didn't have enough for Brad. "He was really good around the bottom. He was about the only car that I thought could get around the bottom all race long. I had a lot of fun gripping the wall. I ran inches off of it the whole race and finally got into it there battling Jeff. Man, for a back-up car, that was amazing… I just hate it that we came up short." If Larson had speed, Chase drivers Edwards, AJ Allmendinger and Greg Biffle did not. None of the three drivers was quick enough to stay on the lead lap, and with respective finishes of 20th, 22nd and 23rd, all are in jeopardy of elimination after the third race of the Chase at Dover. The real casualty of Sunday’s race, however, was Aric Almirola , who was running sixth just before the engine in his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford failed as he was coming to pit road for a green-flag stop on Lap 231. Almirola finished 41st and is in grave danger of missing the cut two races hence. Up next for the Sprint Cup Series is the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway next Sunday (2 p.m. ET on ESPN). It is the second of three races in the Challenger Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Edwards, Kenseth and more experience Chase woes RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota JOLIET, Ill. -- His broken No. 43 Ford parked in front of the team hauler, Aric Almirola climbed out of the window net with his afternoon finished 37 laps before he wanted it to. Team owner Richard Petty was there to great his driver, and 'The King' wore a smile. Almirola did not. At least not at first. After Petty put his arm around the driver's shoulders and pulled him in for a brief hug, Almirola was able to flash some whites. Meanwhile, his No. 43 team popped the hood and tried to diagnose a busted engine that had previously shown no problematic signs, and was in fact healthy enough for Almirola to be in sixth place when it suddenly let go following a pit stop. It all contributed to an aura that was equal parts desolation and optimism, with one of the biggest underdogs in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup balancing the feeling of knowing he was one of the best cars on the track with the reality that was his 41st-place finish. "Heartbroken I think is the easiest way to describe it," Almirola said, before saying in the next breath the team had "nothing to hang our heads about. We drove from 23rd up to the top 10, running sixth with just over 30 to go and it just wasn't meant to be. We will regroup and go to Loudon and Dover and try to be spectacular." The team will have to be. Following his four-point day, Almirola is last on the 16-driver Chase Grid with 2,007 points. He is 23 points behind 12th-place Carl Edwards . New Hampshire and Dover are the final two races of the Challenger Round, before the Chase field gets trimmed to 12 for the Contender Round. "We know we are capable of running in the top-10," Almirola said. "Everyone else might not think so, the rest of the world thinks we are underdogs and we will gladly accept that tag, but what we've shown today and these last two weeks is exactly what we are capable of. "We have to win. That is it. There is no other option. We have to go and figure out how we can win one of the next two races." Almirola and crew aren't the only ones looking for a win -- or the very least, to be in contention for a win -- following Sunday's postseason opener at Chicagoland Speedway . Here's who else ran into trouble, and what it meant for them: • Ryan Newman . Two laps down late in the race, Newman somehow rallied for a lead-lap finish and crossed the start/finish line in 15th place. A blown tire on Lap 99 necessitated two stops down pit road and put Newman 23rd as the final car on the lead lap. A tire rub on Lap 155 brought him down pit road again and put the No. 31 two laps down. "Find out why that tire started rubbing again and make sure it doesn't happen again, please," Newman said tersely over the radio. Three cautions in the final 35 laps were enough to get Newman back on the lead lap by virtue of being the beneficiary. He restarted 19th on Lap 259 and finished 15th. He is 13th in the standings, one point behind Edwards. • Carl Edwards. Edwards started third but finished 20th, thanks in part to a shredded tire that brought out the yellow flag on Lap 232. Even before that incident, though, Edwards simply had a slow No. 99 Ford. He consistently fell throughout the race and finished 20th, one lap down. "We had a flat tire and got fortunate that didn't hurt us," Edwards said. "Our day was not good. We've got to be a little faster and we have to continue to have good luck. For us to advance we are going to have to rely on other people making some mistakes." • Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch . Both of these drivers had the exact same error, and both recovered. On Lap 46, Busch spun entering pit road and lost lots of position. He also knocked over the commitment cone and had to serve a pass-through penalty, but later got back on the lead lap and finished eighth. Kenseth, too, took a solo spin when coming fast into pit road. His snafu was on Lap 148, but he rallied to finish 10th. "I'll never fault you for being aggressive," crew chief Jason Ratcliff said over the radio. Busch is ninth in the standings (2,039 points) and Kenseth is 10th (2,034 points). • Greg Biffle , AJ Allmendinger . Like Kenseth and Busch, these two had related issues. Unlike Kenseth and Busch, neither driver recovered. The problem? Being slow. Allmendinger continually used the word "hate" to describe his No. 47 Chevrolet over the radio, and Biffle's No. 16 Ford underscored that Roush Fenway Racing is still off on speed. Allmendinger finished 22nd and Biffle was 23rd, both two laps down. Allmendinger is 14th in the standings (2,025 points) and Biffle is 15th, four points behind him. No. Chase driver Issue 41 Kurt Busch Lap 46: Spun entering pit road 5 Kasey Kahne Two pit-road speeding penalties 4 Kevin Harvick Lap 70: Loose left rear tire 31 Ryan Newman Lap 99: Blown left rear tire 20 Matt Kenseth Lap 148: Spun entering pit road 2 Brad Keselowski Lap 183: Right front loose tire 99 Carl Edwards Lap 231: Blown left rear tire 43 Aric Almirola Lap 231: Blown engine MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Lesley Robins recaps Chase Across North America and Chase Grid Live as teams gear up for the first round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in Chicago.
Brad Keselowski battles Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson in the closing laps to win the first race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase at Chicagoland Speedway.
Lofton -- filling in for Gaulding -- scored the fastest speed in the second session
2014 format means teams 'go fast, or go home' RELATED: Play Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Brad Keselowski has won the most races and enters this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with the points lead. But does that mean the Team Penske driver and 2012 champion is the most likely to win it all for a second time in three years? Does anyone discount the chances of Jimmie Johnson ? The winner of more Chase races (24) and championships (six) than anyone in the field, Johnson is the only driver to appear in every Chase he's attempted, regardless of format. With the quest for a record-tying seventh championship beginning in earnest this weekend, what are the chances we won't see the Hendrick Motorsports driver among the final four in Homestead? Or Jeff Gordon , looking more and more like the driver who had four titles in his pocket before his 30th birthday? Kevin Harvick , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Joey Logano ? Each has won multiple races this year. And, at times, each has looked invincible. What about Matt Kenseth , Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman , in the Chase yet still looking for that first win of the season? The first lap hasn't been completed and those three already find themselves 12 points down to the leader. Will we see an early exit for one or more, or is the consistency that carried them into the 10-race playoff more beneficial than most realize? It's a healthy mix of former champions, veterans still searching for that first title and a couple of newcomers making their Chase debuts, and it adds up to a 16-team field, the largest since the championship-determining format was first rolled out in 2004. But a little more than a month from now, when the Challenger Round gives way to the Contender Round, four of them will be gone. From the beginning, the Chase has always included teams that were "eliminated" from title contention. Have a bad couple of races to start the Chase , and your group can begin preparing for next year. But the new format brings finality to the process. Go fast or go home. There are favorites and there are underdogs as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolls into Chicago this weekend for the MyAFibStory.com 400 (ESPN, Sunday at 2 p.m. ET). It's the fourth time the 1.5-mile track has hosted the kickoff to the Chase , and twice the race winner has gone on to clinch the championship. There are no pretenders. Each has arrived at this stage of the season deserving of the opportunity. From Aric Almirola and AJ Allmendinger , brushed aside by some before the field was completed, to Keselowski and Johnson. The formula to get here was simple: win and remain inside the top 30 in points, and you're in. Win in the Chase , or accumulate the necessary amount of points, and you'll advance. And advance. And advance. Until only one is crowned champion at Homestead. In any competition, someone always holds an advantage of one sort or another. Maybe it's under the hood; maybe it's the personnel. Sometimes, though, it's a single decision that ultimately changes the outcome and allows the unexpected to become reality. You can go through any number of scenarios in an effort to see what lies in store only to discover that numbers don't drive race cars. Best average finish for the season, fewest results outside the top 20? Best mile-and-a-half program? Restrictor-plate success? Add them all up and you get a glimpse of a team's strengths and weaknesses, but you don't get the entire picture. You don't see the guys flying over pit wall. You don't see the call for two tires instead of four with the race on the line, or the decision to stay out rather than come to pit road. Statistics provide a glimpse of what has happened. They don't guarantee what will take place tomorrow, next week or next month. The human element can't be overlooked. It played a major role in determining who made this year's Chase . And it will play just as big of a role in who continues to advance. Until in the end, only one remains. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation