SpongeBob, NASCAR team up for new apparel
SHOP: SpongeBob NASCAR gear Do fire suits come in size square? NASCAR and Nickelodeon launched on Monday a new line of SpongeBob SquarePants-themed fan merchandise highlighting the absorbent yellow icon and his underwater cast of characters from Bikini Bottom. The new offerings include apparel for kids of all ages (yes, adults too!) as well as lanyards, beach towels, flags, koozies and more. So whether you want to show your fandom for the Krusty Krab pit crew or fly your Bikini Bottom colors with pride, the NASCAR Superstore has got you covered. But that's not all. This summer, Nickelodeon will unveil a line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed NASCAR gear as the season heats up for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway , the kick off of the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Fans can grab the new merchandise at the Fanatics Trackside Superstore and the NASCAR .com Superstore.
Keselowski holds off field for Talladega victory
RELATED: Race results SHOP: No. 2 gear TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Taking control in the final three laps of Sunday's wreck-filled GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway , Brad Keselowski claimed his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at the 2.66-mile race track and solidified his spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Choosing the top lane for a restart on Lap 186 of 188, Keselowski powered his No. 2 Team Penske Ford past Kurt Busch with two laps left and crossed the finish line as a gaggle of cars wrecked behind him coming to the stripe. " The last three or four restarts before that, the high lane had went, and as the leader a lot of it is out of your control," Keselowski said in Victory Lane. "You need the cars behind you to push and a couple of them they did and a couple they didn't. That's just part of racing, and there was nobody at fault with that. "We actually lost the lead and got a better run. Jamie McMurray behind me gave me a great push, and then Kyle Busch gave me a push that was big to clear the 41 ( Kurt Busch ), and without those two I couldn't have made it to the front. So 'Thank you' to them. It's Talladega. This is my fourth win here. I never thought I'd win at Talladega four times, and I'm super-pumped. This is awesome." In claiming the 19th victory of his career, Keselowski became the fourth two-time winner in the Sprint Cup series this season. RELATED: Keselowski celebrates fourth 'Dega win The race ended under caution, with Kyle Busch in second place and Austin Dillon bringing his battered No. 3 Chevrolet home in third as the survivor of two early crashes. McMurray ran fourth, one spot ahead of polesitter Chase Elliott , who worked his way up from ninth to fifth after the final restart. Ty Dillon finished sixth after taking over for Tony Stewart under the first caution on Lap 51, a move that proved wise given the combination of Stewart's recent recovery from a broken back and the chaos that followed late in the race. Clint Bowyer was seventh -- his best result so far this year -- and Kurt Busch was shuffled back to eighth on the final lap. With drivers jockeying for position and making risky moves throughout the race -- with a sense of urgency exacerbated by the threat of rain that never came -- Sunday's event featured 10 cautions and more torn-up race cars than one can count on a full complement of fingers and toes. There wasn't just one "Big One." There were three massive wrecks at Talladega on Sunday, with one melee on Lap 161 involving 21 cars, more than half the field. Kurt Busch ignited that accident by tapping Jimmie Johnson 's bumper in the wrong place, turning Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet into Paul Menard 's Chevy and triggering a wreck that ended with chassis strewn across the racing surface and on the infield grass. On Lap 181, a 12-car chain-reaction incident took out hard-luck Matt Kenseth , who had led 39 laps, second only to Keselowski's 46. Earlier, on Lap 96, Chris Buescher 's No. 34 Ford took the brunt of a seven-car crash that ended with Buescher barrel-rolling three times after contact from Michael Annett 's Chevrolet. "I thought we were clear of the wreck," Buescher said after leaving the infield care center. "I saw it happening in front of us and checked up, and the next thing I knew I was upside down. "We felt we were decent this race. We were holding our own and waiting, but here we are. It's unfortunate. I really hate it for the guys." By the time Buescher flipped, Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s winning chance already had evaporated. Fighting a loose handling condition in heavy traffic, Earnhardt lost control of his No. 88 Chevrolet on Lap 50 and wiped out Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne . Earnhardt returned to the race only to be ridden into the Turn 1 wall when Carl Edwards ' damaged Toyota blew a right front tire and shot up the track into Earnhardt's path. That was a two-car incident, a small one relative to the multicar crashes that followed in the second half of the race, which, in true restrictor-plate racing fashion, produced 37 lead changes among 17 drivers. "You know, it's just Talladega,” Kyle Busch said, summing up the afternoon. "It is what it is. These cars, you try to get a little bit aggressive, start bumping people and pushing people, they're real easy to get out of control. "I really don't know why we're bumping and pushing and everything else, because these cars, they go slower when you push. Makes a lot of sense. That's how stupid we are." Keselowski might argue that point, because pushes from both McMurray and Busch got him to the front when it counted most.
Ty Dillon subs for Stewart, salvages sixth at Talladega
RELATED: Talladega results Ty Dillon subbed in for three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart on Sunday, taking over the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet and driving it to a sixth-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway . The team made the driver switch in the 52nd of a scheduled 188 laps in Sunday's GEICO 500 . The swap went according to plan, with Dillon intending to fill in during the first caution period as Stewart eases back to full-time competition after suffering a broken back in an offseason all-terrain vehicle accident. From there, Dillon managed to avoid the four multicar crashes that followed, including one that punctuated the event at the checkered flag. The result earned Stewart 35 valuable championship points as he tries to position himself for a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. "All in all I'm so glad I got a good finish for Tony," Dillon said post-race. "I know this team is so strong they're going to win a race and get in the top 30. Just glad I got to be a part of what they're going to do this year." RELATED: Ty and Tony make the switch, frame-by-frame After a pit-road speeding penalty during the first round of green-flag pit stops, Stewart was running a lap down at the time of the first caution period, triggered by a three-car crash involving Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kasey Kahne and Matt DiBenedetto . Stewart was the beneficiary of the yellow flag, putting him back on the lead lap. After regaining his lost lap, Stewart pitted separately of the main pack and Dillon resumed near the tail end of the field in 33rd place. "I think it went well; it might have been a little bit slower … but we were being patient, methodical," Dillon said of the driver swap, a change-over the team rehearsed during Friday practice. "I had my belts tight and everything was really smooth. We just made sure everything was perfect. We knew we had ample amount of time and it went well." Stewart told FOX Sports' Jamie Little after exiting the car that "it sucks" to turn over the wheel, but that he understood the reasoning. He plans to return full-time next weekend at Kansas Speedway . "If I wouldn't have broken my back in the end of January, we wouldn't have been in this situation," Stewart said. " The good news is it's the last time I've got to do it and then I'm back in the next week. Really appreciate Ty. I mean, he's been a rock star through this whole thing and especially this weekend. He's done all the heavy lifting and I just go riding around for 50 laps and turn it over to him." WATCH: Stewart talks about getting out of the car Multiple chaotic wrecks ensued in the laps that followed the driver change, further justifying Stewart's decision. Dillon, a NASCAR XFINITY Series regular with 12 Sprint Cup starts, managed to keep the SHR entry free of major involvement the rest of the way. "I don't know how I missed them, really," Dillon said. "(Spotter) Bob Jeffrey on top of the roof did a great job navigating me through. Just missed them by a narrow margin but we missed them. That was all that mattered." Dillon drove the No. 14 in Saturday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying to the 14th starting spot. Stewart started Sunday's 500-miler, dropping to the rear of the 40-car field before the green flag because of the driver change. "Guys, I know this isn't the optimal situation, but we have a kid who's done a great job for us," Stewart told his team over the radio during pace laps. "He'll do another great job today." As the driver of record at the initial start, Stewart was credited with the finish and points. The two-driver effort moved Stewart up two spots to 38th in the Sprint Cup driver standings, 71 points behind 30th-place DiBenedetto. Under the terms of the medical eligibility waiver granted by NASCAR upon his return, Stewart must win a race and finish among the top 30 in driver standings to qualify for a Chase berth. Dillon made three starts for SHR this season in place of Stewart, dividing driving duties with Brian Vickers in the eight races Stewart was sidelined. Contributing: Kenny Bruce
Kenseth, Patrick collide; JGR driver has words for Logano
RELATED: Full results " Frame-by-frame of Kenseth-Danica collisio n Danica Patrick crashed hard into the interior SAFER barrier wall, flipping Matt Kenseth airborne in the process, as the two cars sustained the brunt of the damage in a 12-car wreck with eight laps remaining in Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway . Patrick appeared to get loose when shoved from behind by the No. 95 of Michael McDowell . Her No. 10 Chevrolet veered left into Kenseth's No. 20 Toyota, sending Kenseth flying. Both drivers were up and out of their car and sent to the care center. Patrick's X-rays came back negative, and she said it was her hardest-ever hit at a superspeedway. Just before the wreck, Kenseth had been pushed below the double yellow line on the track by Joey Logano , reminding Kenseth, at least, of conflict between the two drivers at the end of last season. " The first thing that happened is the 22 ran us off the race track," he said. "I thought we were done with that, but maybe we aren't." Later, FOX cameras caught Kenseth exchanging words with Logano after both had been checked out of the infield care center. The driver of the No. 20 wagged his finger before walking away; Logano smiled throughout the exchange and shook his head. RELATED: Watch their exchange "We worked hard all day, but unfortunately didn't end up as well as we'd like to two days in a row," Logano said. "A couple big hits, so I can't wait to get out of this place.” When told Kenseth seemed upset, Logano said: "OK. He can get in line with the rest of them." The two drivers have a history dating back to last year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . On-track contact and incidents throughout the postseason eventually led to Kenseth wrecking a race-leading Logano at Martinsville Speedway in November, a move that netted Kenseth a two-race suspension. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to the track next weekend at Kansas Speedway -- coincidentally, the spot where contact between Logano and Kenseth instigated their late-season feud.
NASCAR : Tony Stewart granted Chase waiver
RELATED: Full Stewart coverage Tony Stewart , who will return to the track this weekend at Richmond International Raceway after missing the first eight races of the season, has been granted a waiver making him eligible to qualify for the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , according to NASCAR . " NASCAR received the appropriate medical clearance documentation allowing Tony Stewart to resume normal racing activities," NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell. "We also have granted the request from Stewart-Haas Racing for a waiver for Tony to be eligible to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . As he begins his final season, we wish Tony the best of luck." Because he did not attempt to qualify for every race, Stewart would not have been eligible for the 2016 postseason without the waiver. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver and co-owner is now in the same position as Kyle Busch in 2015. The clearest path to the postseason, as Busch proved last year, is for Stewart to win one race before the regular season ends at Richmond in the fall, and climb into the top 30 in the points standings. "Smoke" injured his back in an all-terrain vehicle accident in late January, and has been sidelined since. He's been prevalent at the track, though, as drivers Ty Dillon and Brian Vickers have filled his seat.
Amelia flies again: No. 88 car restored for 'Dega
Amelia is back. The No. 88 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Jr ., a car so good on superspeedway tracks that it earned its own name, has apparently been restored from a Daytona 500 wreck. According to team crew chief Greg Ives, she'll be back on the track this weekend. For all those asking, it is time. Amelia will be making her return to the track this weekend. @TeamHendrick did a great job fixing her up. — Greg Ives (@Ives_Greg) April 25, 2016 Amelia -- formally known as Chassis No. 88-872 -- has been Earnhardt Jr.'s primary car for the past five races at Daytona and Talladega. In 2015, Earnhardt Jr. won twice in four restrictor-plate events, with one win at Daytona and one at Talladega. He finished third ( Daytona 500 ) and second in the fall Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega. In the 2016 Daytona 500 , Earnhardt Jr. was charging toward the front of the field when his car whipped around on him and smashed the inside barrier, crumpling sheet metal and denting the frame. He would finish 36th in the race. “We're going to have Amelia ... I’m excited about that," Earnhardt said in this week's " The Dale Jr. Download" on Dirty Mo Radio. "We know how she ran last year. We've just got to run Talladega like we have to win it, just like we did the last time we were there. We did a good job. "If we run it like that, we'll be up front at the end." WATCH: Daytona wreck cripples car Amelia, named after Amelia Earhart, became something of a Junior Nation sensation when Dale Jr. revealed he had named the car. "A car gets named when you drive it long enough to see a personality, typically," Earnhardt said earlier in 2016. "… The fact that we're going to keep running it, I said, 'We gotta name it' and we were thinking of a woman who has accomplished something that was an awesome person that was something we could be proud of. "Amelia Earhart was the first thing that came to my mind."
With shades of 'the Intimidator,' Dillon earns third in chaotic 'Dega race
RELATED: Results " Standings post-Talladega " Relive the day in photos TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Austin Dillon , driving a Chevrolet with NASCAR's most famous number -- 3 -- on its side panels, nearly matched one of Dale Earnhardt's most extraordinary feats at the exact location it happened, mere days after what would've been the 65th birthday of the late, great "Intimidator." Instead, he still came home with a career-best finish in what was the wildest race the Sprint Cup Series has seen in some time. "We started 17th with three laps to go and finished third," Dillon said after the GEICO 500 . "So, from 17th to third, that was pretty cool. One guy came up to me in the suite (before the race), said Dale's last win here (in 2000), he came from 15th to first. Maybe if we started 15th, we could have gotten there." Looking at Dillon's Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet after the race, you'd never have thought it was a third-place car. It was as banged up as any car after 500 laps at Bristol and appeared to have more tape on its front right quarter panel than 3M has in one of its warehouses. TEAMWORK. We pitted 17 times. Wrecked 4 times. Ran out of tires. We were 32nd 1 lap down. We NEVER quit. Result = P3 pic.twitter.com/PjxAxjE893 — greg osborne (@greg_ozz) May 1, 2016 But you should've seen the rest of the field. Dillon's ride was one of a handful that actually made it to the checkered flag on the lead lap, a borderline miracle given he pitted a whopping 16 times -- a race-high, with no other driver hitting pit lane more than 13, including some of those involved in some of the several "Big One(s)." RELATED: Dillon one of 21 cars involved in 'The Big One' "We pitted (16) times. That's amazing," Dillon said. " The car was killed and we came home with a third-place finish. What a good day. "It's a testament to my guys. They never panicked today. We've panicked a lot this year on certain problems and today was smooth and calm and they handled their situations that they were put through and it was a great race for us. … We've been meeting about it the last couple weeks. We can't lose our minds because sometimes it's just not your day." The finish is Dillon's third top-five of the year, eclipsing his career total (two) since he began running Cup races in 2011. The 26-year-old finds himself in unfamiliar territory 10 races into the season -- the top 10 in points standings. Immediately after the race he was able to enjoy his showing, but he may be more thankful he made it out relatively unscathed -- his car not included -- once he watches a replay of the race. "Truthfully I don't know everything that happened yet, so I am really excited about my third‑place finish because I know what our team went through today," said Dillon, currently on pace for his first career Chase for the Sprint Cup berth. "I did see a video of AJ Allmendinger getting out, and he looked pretty shook up. I hope everybody is all right from all these crashes. I haven't got a chance to look at all of them. I pray they're all all right. " For me, I'm proud of our team. If you guys can see the car, if you go look at it, you would never expect it to get to third." Dale, undoubtedly, would be proud, too.
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