RELATED: Darlington's throwback paint schemes In keeping with NASCAR's throwback-themed Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, here's a nod to Kevin Harvick and his No. 4 Budweiser Chevy team's historic run this season. You have to go back to the days of lava lamps, bell-bottoms and the GMC Gremlin to find the last time a NASCAR Cup driver (Bobby Allison, 1972) has reeled off double-digit runner-up finishes as Harvick now has. The reigning Sprint Cup Series champ's two wins -- back-to-back trophies at Las Vegas and Phoenix -- punched his title defense ticket into the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . But it's his 10 second-place efforts and career-high 17 top-fives that keep him a favorite for his second Cup championship. It's the kind of superior consistency that creates confidence, maintains momentum and ultimately makes the team more likely to deliver in the clutch. There's two ways this many near-misses can be viewed -- either as encouraging "almosts" or discouraging "not-enoughs" -- but Harvick and his crew chief Rodney Childers are glass-half-full kind of guys. "It's a really fine balance and getting yourself frustrated over the success we're having would be really, really silly,'' Harvick offered with a smile as he waited out a rain delay during a test at Homestead-Miami Speedway last week. "I'm proud of what we've done and what we've accomplished. "We're all really confident with the way the year has gone. I think if you look at on a piece of paper it's definitely the best year I've ever had from a career standpoint. "I've been around this deal long enough to know those 10 second-place finishes could have swung to wins just as easily and they could have swung to 25th-place finishes just as easily. I'm really proud of the things we've done and feel like we're a better team than we were last year and having better results up to this point." The second-place finishes have contributed to a series-best 7.5 average finish through the first 24 races -- better than three-time winner Joey Logano (9.0 average finish) and four-time winners Jimmie Johnson (12.0) and Kyle Busch (12.5). So while Harvick may not have been visiting Victory Lane as often as those others, no one's been in close proximity more often -- heartening news for his Stewart-Haas Racing team and worrisome for everyone else. " The whole point of coming here (to SHR) was to have a chance of winning races week in and week out and we've done that; you can't force winning, when things are going your way they are and when they aren't, they're not,'' Harvick said. "It's a lot of fun to be a part of it and see the intensity and enthusiasm this team brings week in and week out because it's such a calm confidence around here. " The way we've run I think we could win the championship with everything we've done so far. I don't think we need to do anything any different because the cars are running great and we know what we're up against when the Chase starts and the grind of what that is. And I think we'll do that better than we did last year. " The best for us is in front of us." Runner-up finishes in a season Number Driver Year 18 David Pearson 1969 15 Bobby Allison 1970 14 Richard Petty 1964 13 Ned Jarrett 1965 12 Bobby Allison 1972 12 David Pearson 1968 12 Joe Weatherly 1962 12 Dick Rathmann 1953 10 Kevin Harvick 2015 10 Buck Baker 1958
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 3, 2015) -- NASCAR fans have the opportunity to showcase their race prediction skills again this year with The Chase Grid Battle Powered by Bing. Back for the second season, the game allows players to make Round-by-Round picks and compete for prizes throughout the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , which kicks-off Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway . New in 2015, the race-by-race scoring format awards points after each of the 10 races in The Chase and for predicting the drivers who will advance through each round up until the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 22. Picks can also be made with the help of Bing Predicts, which relies on relevant data to make intelligent recommendations about upcoming events and is fully integrated into the game. "We're excited to work with NASCAR to bring the power of Bing's intelligent predictions to The Chase Grid Battle Game to help players up their chances of winning," said Ryan Gavin, general manager of search at Microsoft Corp. "Bing Predicts is quickly becoming the resource for both avid sports fans and casual players to get an edge on the game and impress their friends -- and we're excited to bring it to NASCAR's passionate fan base." Prizes for the highest overall scores include a VIP trip to a 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, tickets to a NASCAR Driving Experience and an autographed driver helmet. The highest-scoring participant after each of the four Rounds in The Chase will also receive $100 to use in the NASCAR .com Superstore. Players can form leagues to compete against friends and other fans, with the option to create up to three entries per user. "Participating in The Chase Grid Battle Game allows fans to maximize their Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup experience, and this year we've improved upon it even further with the new scoring format and integration of Bing Predicts to help players increase their odds of winning by making the most informed picks each round," said Colin Smith, vice president, NASCAR Digital Media. "Establishing new, innovative ways for fans to engage with our sport is and always will be a critical objective for NASCAR ." Fans can visit here to create a free account and register to play. Registration is open now through Nov. 1, closing before the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , The Eliminator Round. Tune in this Sunday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. ET on NBC to watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway .
LEARN MORE: Bing: Chase predictions " About Bing RELATED: Play the Chase Grid Battle Game here Let the battle begin. The Chase Grid Battle Game Powered by Bing, a game in which players make round-by-round picks in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , returns for the second consecutive season. Registration is open now. Go here to sign up and start thinking about your strategy before the first postseason race Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway . New this year is the presence of Bing -- and more specifically Bing Predicts, a methodology that uses algorithms to make predictions. Gamers can consider the Bing Predicts tool when playing the Chase Grid Battle Game and have a leg up on the competition. Throughout the summer, Bing Predicts has made accurate forecasts for events such as the Women's World Cup and the Tour de France. Bing will make predictions for drivers advancing to each round throughout the Chase . Right now, the algorithm predicts Kevin Harvick will repeat as Sprint Cup Series champion, besting Kyle Busch , Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski in the Championship Round at Homestead. "We're excited to work with NASCAR to bring the power of Bing's intelligent predictions to The Chase Grid Battle Game to help players up their chances of winning," said Ryan Gavin, general manager of search at Microsoft Corp. "Bing Predicts is quickly becoming the resource for both avid sports fans and casual players to get an edge on the game and impress their friends -- and we're excited to bring it to NASCAR's passionate fan base." Also new in 2015 is a race-by-race scoring format that awards points after each of the 10 Chase races. Prizes for the overall highest score includes a VIP trip to a 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, tickets to a NASCAR driving experience and an autographed driver helmet. The highest-scoring participant after each of the four Rounds in The Chase will also receive $100 to use in the NASCAR .com Superstore. Players can form leagues to compete against friends and other fans, with the option to create up to three entries per user.
RELATED: Updated standings " Chase grid Only two races remain before the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set. Here are the scenarios for clinching a Chase berth at Darlington Raceway : Below is the complete list of drivers currently in the Chase Grid. Drivers with wins who have clinched a spot in the Chase as long as they attempt to qualify for the remaining two races: 1. Jimmie Johnson 3. Joey Logano 4. Matt Kenseth 5. Kevin Harvick 6. Dale Earnhardt Jr . 7. Kurt Busch 8. Brad Keselowski 9. Martin Truex Jr . 10. Denny Hamlin 11. Carl Edwards Note: Kyle Busch is currently second in the Chase Grid, but has not clinched a spot in the top 30 of the points standings. Drivers currently in the top 16: 12. Jamie McMurray 13. Ryan Newman 14. Paul Menard 15. Jeff Gordon 16. Clint Bowyer At Darlington, a winless driver can clinch a spot in the Chase . If a repeat driver wins at Darlington, a winless driver would need to have a 45 point lead on the fifth-highest of the winless drivers (or 44 points, depending on tie-breakers). If there is a new winner, a winless driver would need to lead the fourth-highest winless driver by 45 points (or, again, 44, depending on tie-breakers)
Fans join the battle for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in this promotional video.
RELATED: Updated Chase Grid Ain't no party like a NASCAR party! As the regular season nears its end and The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup rapidly approaches, so too does the annual fan celebration to mark its beginning -- NASCAR Chase Fest. Taking place, once again, in Chicago on Sept. 17 ahead of the first Challenger Round race at Chicagoland Speedway , Chase Fest sponsored by Toyota and Sprint provides a free outdoor fan fest featuring appearances and autograph sessions with all 16 Chase drivers and other NASCAR personalities. Grammy-nominated 3 Doors Down will help keep the party flowing with a concert, as well as a performance by Chicago's popular country cover band, the Suburban Cowboys. Fans in attendance also will have a plethora of meal and drink options, with food being provided by Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and beverages by Coors Light. Additional entertainment will include the Toyota Ferris Wheel and the NASCAR on NBC Sports Bumper Cars. The events of the day will be covered by NBCSN, including Krista Voda, Kyle Petty, Marty Snider and Rutledge Wood, for the network's live broadcast of " NASCAR America." Chase Fest will take place on Weed Street between Fremont and Kingsbury streets from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. local time. For full details on this year's Chase Fest, click here .
RELATED: Homestead-Miami hosting Goodyear tire test HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Waiting out a morning shower in the Homestead-Miami Speedway garage on Wednesday, reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick was dressed casually but clearly at work, talking with his Stewart-Haas Racing crew as they hovered over laptop computers and gestured toward his plain gray No. 4 Chevrolet SS. The last time this group was at this track, they were getting showered in champagne, not rain, celebrating Harvick's 2014 Sprint Cup Series championship title, thanks to a victory in the season finale here. But it was all business for Harvick Wednesday as he and nine other drivers came to the 1.5-mile track for a one-day open test for Sprint Cup teams, attended by three of last year's four championship contenders, also including last week's winner Joey Logano ( Team Penske ) and Denny Hamlin ( Joe Gibbs Racing ). RELATED: Anheuser-Busch to change look of SHR's No. 4 car in 2016 "You know, I actually hadn't even thought about it to tell you the truth," a smiling Harvick said of his first time back at Homestead since his title-winning performance last November. "I know that doesn't make for a great story, but no one [on the team] has even mentioned it. Everything happens so fast in this sport from a week-to-week basis and you get so caught up in what you need to do the next week. "We're always trying to look forward so I really hadn't thought about everything that happened last year. We're so focused on being in position, to hopefully have a chance to do that again and get back here." Harvick's primary championship challengers were of similar mindset. And like all of the 10 drivers here -- also including Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kyle Larson , Martin Truex Jr ., Ty Dillon , Ryan Blaney , Clint Bowyer and Trevor Bayne -- the lone opportunity to turn some extra test laps at Homestead is something not to be missed, even if track time boiled down to a couple late morning hours before heavier rains interrupted the schedule. With the elimination-style format of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs heading into its second year, the importance of the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway has increased exponentially. When the Sprint Cup Series arrives in South Florida in three months, four drivers will be eligible for the title – the highest finisher in this race will be crowned champion. Last year, Harvick won the race and therefore, the season trophy. Logano, who collected his third win in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford last weekend at Bristol, also spoke about the emphasis teams now place specifically on being prepared for Homestead. MORE: Logano victorious in Bristol night race "Hopefully this test is very important for us," Logano said with a slight laugh. "You hope it is [because that means you're in the championship hunt.] Just getting to here (season finale) is a challenge. "If we do, then this test today will be the most important test of the year. So we definitely want to put a lot into it and make sure we get a lot out of it and really understand what we learned out of it." Logano's three wins would rank him right behind the season's four-time winners Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch for the start of the Chase on Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway and like Harvick, Logano believes his team is right where it needs to be at this point in the season. "Right now, we're peaking at the right spot, and getting a couple wins in the last three weeks is what we need to do heading into the Chase ," said Logano, who finished 16th in the 2014 Homestead race. "Winning the Bristol night race last year kind of propelled us into the Chase , I thought, and gave us good momentum into the Chase . Getting all the way to here [Homestead] was a heck of an accomplishment. And we just need to focus on what we need to do. I feel like as a team we learned a lot in terms of how to execute a championship weekend." RELATED: Harvick scores another runner-up finish It looks like everyone will have to raise their game to dethrone Harvick, however, who has a pair of wins and a series-best 17 top-five finishes highlighted by 10 runner-up showings already this season. "We've struck a pretty good course in terms of being able to have a plan in place for the Chase , and everyone has done a good job in terms of being prepared when it comes time for Chicago," Harvick said. "We've been ready every week. We've just got to keep doing those things. ... No different than last year when we made it happen when it counted." WATCH: Harvick chases Logano in the closing laps at Bristol
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell announced Friday at Michigan International Speedway that the rules package for the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will not include either the low-downforce package or the high-drag package. The low-downforce package was used in June at Kentucky Speedway, and will be in use next month at Darlington Raceway. The high-drag package is being used this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, and O'Donnell spent time with drivers, teams and manufacturers following Friday's qualifying to gather feedback. " The specific topic we wanted to cover with the industry was regarding the Chase , and our decision to keep the 2015 rules package as it is for the Chase and a lot of discussions we had with the industry, that includes a number of folks: The tracks, the drivers, the race teams, the OEMs, all believe that that was in the best interest of the sport," O'Donnell said. "Excited about the Chase , excited about the package and what's to come in the Chase , especially when you look back to last year. So that was really the main point we wanted to talk about." RELATED: See the Chase Grid as it stands O'Donnell said the intention all along was to keep the Chase where it was with the 2015 rules package, but some teams wanted to push forward after getting a look at the packages used at Kentucky and Indianapolis. But instead the sanctioning body will gather information from Sunday's race at Michigan and the Labor Day weekend race at Darlington and use that when formulating the 2016 rules package. The Kentucky race in particular garnered positive feedback, with Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards saying at the time that he was sold on it even after just one look in the Quaker State 400. That wasn't lost on NASCAR . "So absolutely a lot of great things happened during that race, but that was one race and one that we want to learn from and take forward and apply what we can to Darlington and do the same thing," O'Donnell said. "So I would say a ton of positives we saw from Kentucky, but we've got to take the time to dial those things in and make sure that everybody is on the same page. We've got the best package to put forth, especially as we look to '16, so that does have a lot of momentum and lot of positives that we can apply to Darlington and then make some calls post Darlington as well." RELATED: Drivers praise Kentucky package As far as using more races or tests in the future to try out new rules packages, O'Donnell said he didn't anticipate that would be necessary, that after Michigan and Darlington and more simulation tests and discussions with the major players that the sanctioning body would be in position to make a decision fairly quickly during the offseason. That in turn would give teams the needed time to make adjustments for 2016. "I think the intent would be that we see what happens during the race here Sunday, talk to all of our partners, do the same in Darlington, and then take that information, have a direction, which we feel pretty good about where we may head based on what we'll see on the racetrack, and then go in and do some sim work with all of our partners directionally on those packages to see if we can fine-tune that," O'Donnell said. Earlier this week, O'Donnell issued a pair of timelines for a pair of important decisions. One was the Chase rules package; the second was the 2016 schedule, which he said should be announced in three to four weeks. O'Donnell said he did not anticipate major changes with the schedule. He cited the West Coast swing as a positive development in the 2015 schedule, along with attendance at Watkins Glen and Michigan. He said NASCAR would work on striving for consistency going forward. O'Donnell also was asked whether there'd be changes for the October race at Talladega based on the wreck involving Austin Dillon at the July race at Daytona. "We're still having some discussion with the industry heading into Talladega," O'Donnell said. "Have not settled on anything yet, but I think you can anticipate something."
RELATED: Official NASCAR release Good news race fans -- NASCAR After The Lap, presented by Ford and Sprint , is headed back to Las Vegas for its seventh straight year. The event, which features all 16 drivers competing in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , has become one of the major highlights of Champions Week, as well as an opportunity for fans to engage with the season's best drivers in a most unique and fun atmosphere. The event, which will take place at the Pearl Palms Concert Theater inside the Palms Casino Hotel, has been known as the time where drivers let loose on the season celebration in a tell-all panel. From Jeff Gordon showing off his break-dancing skills, to Tony Stewart 's push-up contest victory and many other signature moments, you never know what you might get at NASCAR After The Lap. Also starting today, NASCAR Nation has the opportunity to participate in the NASCAR After The Lap Sweepstakes, and with that comes the chance for fans to win some truly once-in-a-lifetime prizes. Starting today through November 22, fans can enter to win a 2016 Ford F-150 or an all-inclusive trip for two to Las Vegas to attend the NASCAR After The Lap event, among other great prizes. Tickets for NASCAR After The Lap are priced at $20 and will go on sale September 21, but fans not able to attend can also tune in to the live stream of the event on NASCAR .com. To enter the NASCAR After The Lap sweepstakes or learn more about December's event, visit www.NASCARafterthelap.com .
RELATED: Chase Grid " Chase bubble watch " Chase Fest details A year ago, it was Kasey Kahne . Only two races remained before the start of the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , and the Hendrick Motorsports driver was 13th in points. Unfortunately, he was outside the top 16 in the Chase standings. Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin , AJ Allmendinger , Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola trailed Kahne in points. But they were among those that had wins. They had invitations to the dance. At the time, Kahne had managed only two top-five finishes. His average finishing position was 16.8. He hadn't been to the victory lane since midway through the previous season. So he and his team went out and won at Atlanta Motor Speedway . It earned Kahne one of the final Chase spots and the No. 5 team a second chance. It wasn't quite as easy as it sounds. Kevin Harvick , as was often the case, was dominant at AMS. Kahne fell a lap down early. The team battled back. He didn't take the lead for the first time until Lap 303 of the scheduled 325-lap race. Suddenly, he seemed to be on his way to the win. Then cautions appeared, forcing two late restarts. Green, white, checkered late. Kahne's lead was lost on pit road. Yet somehow he muscled his way past Matt Kenseth coming to the white flag, holding on for the win and a spot in the Chase . It's a similar position for the 35-year-old this year. Two races remain -- stops at Darlington Raceway and Richmond International Raceway -- before the field is finalized for this year's 10-race run to determine the Sprint Cup champion. Kahne is once again winless. He is not alone. Teammate Jeff Gordon has finished inside the top five only three times this year. The four-time champion is ahead of Clint Bowyer in the playoff picture, with a wider margin back to folks such as Aric Almirola and Greg Biffle . A year ago Gordon had three wins and a vise-like grip on first place in the points. Bowyer's got a pair of top-fives, but much of the attention around the No. 15 team of Michael Waltrip Racing centers on where Bowyer will call home next season. Paul Menard has a razor-thin lead on Gordon in points, but taking nothing for granted. Can anyone? Matt Kenseth 's blown engine at Bristol last week, leaving the Joe Gibbs driver 42nd in the final rundown, didn't go unnoticed. Things not only can happen, they often do. With 10 drivers already secure -- 11 if you go ahead and give Kyle Busch one of the spots although he's close enough to the fault line that a misstep could make things interesting -- and two races remaining, at least three of this year's Chase spots will be filled based on the points standings after Richmond. It could be five, if no new winner emerges in the next two weeks. Few on the fringes, though, have shown signs of contending for wins. Almirola? One top five and only three laps led this season. Biffle? It's shaping up to be the wrong type of career year for the Roush Fenway Racing driver, with just two top-fives and an average finish of 20th. Austin Dillon ? Kyle Larson ? Both have shown potential. Both are winless. Kahne? Well, who knows? The question isn't can it be done. Kahne's already proven that it's possible. The question is who among those can pull it off?