HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- The two Most Popular Drivers were absolutely suited for NASCAR's big awards. Second-generation NASCAR mega-talents, both Chase Elliott ( XFINITY Series) and John Hunter Nemechek ( Camping World Truck Series) absolutely earned the distinction and the nod in Monday awards presentation. Elliott, who will drive the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevy next year in the Sprint Cup Series -- replacing the retiring Jeff Gordon -- was typically low-key and humble about the whole NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series awards evening. But he was eager to get going in his Cup career after a championship and second place finish (2015) in the XFINITY Series. Earning the Most Popular Driver Award for the recent season must have felt very appropriate for the son of Bill Elliott , who took the Cup Series vote a record 16 times. Dale Earnhardt Jr . has won it the past 12 years. "I think we have definitely a lot of work to do to catch Dale in that sense," a smiling Elliott said. "But I'm very appreciative of the support I've had, especially the past two years and I've noticed it. I don't think people realize how much that means to a driver when they see you wearing their T-shirt. It goes a long way for me. Seeing them do that means a lot." Elliott conceded he and his father, a NASCAR Hall of Famer, haven't discussed this honor's impact even though he is touched to receive it. "We really haven't talked about that," Elliott said. "Fortunately he (his dad) had a big following and some of those people are following me. Can't look past that. Dale has an obviously great following and I'm a Dale fan too." Nemechek, 18, was equally as excited to be recognized on the Camping World Truck Series side. A second-generation racer who won his first major race this season, Nemechek was obviously moved by the honor. "It definitely can't hurt to win the Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, " Nemechek said. "It's definitely an honor for me and my family, but more importantly, hopefully it'll help us gain some reputation on selling some sponsorship for the seasons tocome. Can't thank all of the supporters enough that voted, and all the friends and family as well." Nemechek is the second family member to be honored with the award. His father, Joe Nemecheck -- a former XFINITY Series champion and four-time Cup winner. "Yeah, he won I think in 1992 and '93, so it's awesome to be able to win an award that he's won," Nemechek said. "I beat him to something. "I wish he wouldn't have won most popular so I could've beat him to that. We're very competitive, but to get my first truck win when he didn't was very special as well. He wants one bad." With Elliott moving into the Cup series and Nemechek hoping to continue his rise in the NASCAR ranks in 2016. "It definitely is special to hear how good you're doing with the equipment that you have," Nemechek said. "We utilize our resources to the absolute max that we possibly can. We try and get our trucks as good as we can. There's a lot of late nights and hard work put in with just a few people. Finding the funding to get a few more people and not have to work as late and getting some free time to work on some other projects could even make us better, but it was definitely a good year. Getting our first win and finishing in the top five so many times, all the hard work did pay off. "We're still working on trying to find funding. Nothing is set in stone yet. It's all kind of up in the air right now, so still trying to find those possible partners to sit down, sign a deal with, hopefully for years to come."
As the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup turns 10, get the history, format and more
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: Full coverage of Gordon's last race Ray Evernham does more than just hope Jeff Gordon can close out his career by capturing a fifth NASCAR premier series title Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). He expects it. "Absolutely. No question," Evernham said in a telephone interview with NASCAR.com earlier this week. "All he has to do is be Jeff Gordon one more time. If he can take the 23 years of who he's been and be that one more time, those guys are in trouble." Who Gordon has been is one of the sport's most dominating drivers, with four championships -- fourth most in series history -- and 93 victories (third overall and tops among active drivers). Evernham speaks from experience. From 1992, when Gordon made his premier series debut in the season-ending race at Atlanta Motor Speedway , through 1999, Evernham was the team’s crew chief, orchestrating a game plan that took the Hendrick Motorsports team, and Gordon, to the very top of the sport. Standing between Gordon and a fifth title are three other drivers -- defending series champion Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), four-time race winner Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ). RELATED: Road to Homestead for the Championship 4 Gordon is the only driver to advance to the final round by winning one of the previous round's three races -- scoring a ninth career victory at Martinsville Speedway . The winners of the remaining two Eliminator Round races were Gordon's teammates, six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr . "I know (crew chief) Alan Gustafson and that group have worked incredibly hard on that car for him and I've always said you're only limited by how much time you have to prepare," Evernham said. "And I really believe that those guys have had more time to focus on that car than the other teams. "Everybody else said they could (focus on Homestead) but they couldn't." Harvick has been in this situation before, having survived the pressure cooker of a one-race championship battle last season. His results this season have been no less impressive. Busch missed the season's first 11 Sprint Cup races while recovering from a broken right leg and left foot suffered in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race to win four races in a five-race span. A winner at Pocono, Truex has Chase experience and finished 10th or better in 14 of the season’s first 15 races with his single-car team based in Denver, Colorado. A title by any of the four would be big. A win by Gordon, according to Evernham, would be huge. RELATED: Gordon's drive for five "If he pulls this off this weekend, this is just not a motorsports thing," Evernham said. "This is a major sports story, one of the greatest sports stories of our lifetime. "If you look at somebody who’s been able to be that competitive over 23 years, different cars, different rules, different things. It's not like playing football or baseball. I get what (John) Elway and those guys did and that's fantastic. But if you look at the changes he has had to deal with over the past 23 years, from the time that we rolled into Atlanta in November of 1992, our very first race, he's never missed a race. And here he’s going into his last race to battle for the championship. "To me, that's not just a motorsports story, that’s an incredible sports story overall."
When it comes to big NASCAR fun, it's hard to beat Talladega Superspeedway , the 2.66-mile-long track that is the longest oval on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit. Making it even larger than life for a select few NASCAR fans was being on hand as a DraftKings VIP for the October CampingWorld.com 500 during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . "Thanks to DraftKings for an unforgettable weekend at Talladega," wrote DraftKings VIP Crystalbil. "The VIP experience was just that, VIP. My father and I had infield parking, all access to the pits and garages, we even sat on the pit wall during Sprint Cup qualifiers. We got to talk with pit crews about tires and pit box setup. ... The people were great at DraftKings putting together a weekend my father and I will never forget. They made it easy to feel like the king of the track." Besides behind-the-scenes access to pit road, DraftKings VIPs also got a chance to experience Talladega like never before. "From doing laps at 130 mph-plus on the banks of Talladega, in a pace car, to sitting up front in the drivers' meeting, DraftKings has you covered," wrote VIP lgbowling2. "They will show you how cars go through inspection, a tour of the garage and up close for driver introductions. Keep your eyes out, as you never know who will be in attendance that day." Terry Morris and his wife Cricket were especially impressed by the attention paid to them by DraftKings hosts. "I have been a NASCAR fan for many years and we were treated like VIPs," Morris said. "We were picked up at the parking lot by your team and escorted from each event. We had a hoot. We loved the pace car ride at Talladega. I have a greater respect for all NASCAR drivers. ... Then, we were there for driver introductions with a special opportunity to take pictures with Martin Truex Jr ." You too could share a similar experience at an upcoming NASCAR race by playing DraftKings. Not familiar with DraftKings? It's a daily fantasy sports game that allows players to experience a one-of-kind event experience as DraftKings has access to a direct data feed from NASCAR Digital Media that contains real-time stats. In each game, participants are assigned a fixed salary cap they can use to draft their entire roster, comprised of five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. Scoring categories in DraftKings NASCAR daily fantasy sports games include finishing position, fastest laps, laps led and place differential. NASCAR games on DraftKings provides fans the opportunity to win one-of-a-kind NASCAR prizes and VIP experiences. More information on DraftKings NASCAR daily fantasy sports games is available at www.draftkings.com . Editor's note: The views expressed in this story pertaining to the DrafttKings VIP experience are solely those of previous winners.
Editor's Note: Clinching scenarios courtesy of NASCAR statistical services RELATED: Updated standings " See the Chase Grid This weekend marks the final Sprint Cup Series race in the eight-driver Eliminator Round before the Chase field dwindles to four. Here are the scenarios for clinching a spot in the Championship 4 this Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway during the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). Jeff Gordon has already clinched a spot in the Championship 4. Regardless of the finish of any other drivers Kyle Busch will clinch with a finish of 3rd or better; 4th and at least one lap led; or 5th and most laps led. Kevin Harvick will clinch with a finish of 2nd or better; 3rd and at least one lap led; or 4th and most laps led. Martin Truex Jr ., Carl Edwards , Brad Keselowski , Kurt Busch and Joey Logano only control their own destiny with a victory. Logano can ONLY make it to the Championship Round with a win at Phoenix.
FORT WORTH, Texas -- NASCAR officials confiscated the front-end splitters of Joe Gibbs Racing 's Nos. 11, 18 and 19 Toyotas during pre-race technical inspection prior to Sunday's AAA Texas 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM) at Texas Motor Speedway . The Nos. 18 and 19 Camrys are driven by Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards , respectively. The No. 11 is driven by Denny Hamlin , eliminated from the Chase following the Contender Round. JGR's No. 20 entry, driven this weekend by Erik Jones in place of suspended Matt Kenseth , was cleared through tech inspection with no issues. Crews hastily worked to replace the splitters in the garage area before sending the cars back through inspection. The issue is similar to what happened with Team Penske at Michigan in August. The organization was not penalized by NASCAR following the events, but the splitters were taken back to the sanctioning body's Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. RELATED: Penske splitters confiscated at Michigan The three JGR cars eventually made it through inspection and took their places on the grid.
RELATED: Full race results " Update series standings FORT WORTH, Texas -- In order to advance to his second straight Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway , Joey Logano all but needed to win one of the two remaining races of the Eliminator Round of NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup . The Team Penske driver's chances were cut in half a mere 10 laps into Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway -- by a cut tire. Running fourth on Lap 10, Logano had a left-rear tire go down in Turn 2, spinning to the bottom of the track and suffering major damage to the left-rear quarter panel of his No. 22 Ford Fusion. The wreck "shredded everything inside the car," according to Logano, and although he was able to get back out on track, he was saddled with a 40th-place finish. With one race remaining in the Eliminator Round and 63 points separating him from the cutoff line, Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) at Phoenix International Raceway is a must-win situation. "(Today's race is) not what we needed, we need to win. But we're not out of it -- this team's not quitting," Logano said. "... It was just part of it. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. We will be ready for Phoenix. This team is strong. We didn't take any wind out of our sails today, and we showed how fast this thing was even after we crashed." The 25-year-old driver has yet to add a trophy from Phoenix to his quickly-growing collection, but if anyone on the circuit can unseat Kevin Harvick as the "Desert King" it's a motivated Logano. The Team Penske driver swept the Contender Round races of the Chase , has six wins on the season and has a consecutive run of four straight top-10 finishes at Phoenix -- all of which were Harvick wins. So how does he feel going into next week, knowing his entire season -- which started in February with his first Daytona 500 win -- is riding on it? "Same as this week, right? This was a must-win situation as well," Logano said. "If we finished second today we would be in the same boat going into Phoenix. I feel great about our chances at Phoenix. It has been a great race track for us in the past. I felt like this track was a great one for us as well. It is unfortunate that we finished how we did."
RELATED: Results " Blown tire puts Logano in hole No advancement: Jimmie Johnson passed Brad Keselowski with four laps to go, ruining a dominant day for the No. 2 Ford and denying an automatic berth into the Championship 4. Johnson won for the sixth time at Texas and for the 75th time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. Four in, four out: Here's the bubble picture following Texas. The four drivers below the line would not advance to the next round (Championship) if the Eliminator Round ended today. (Note: The Eliminator Round ends Nov. 15 at Phoenix International Raceway ) 1. Jeff Gordon -- Martinsville winner 2. Kyle Busch (+4) 3. Kevin Harvick (+3) 4. Martin Truex Jr . (--) ----------- 5. Carl Edwards (-6) 6. Brad Keselowski (-19) 7. Kurt Busch (-28) 8. Joey Logano (-63) Reason for hope: Kyle Busch is one step away from taking his comeback story to the Championship 4. If he can continue to avoid the big problems that have plagued him in past Chase runs, he could be in position for his first championship at Homestead. Reason for worry: Logano has never won in 13 career Sprint Cup Series starts at Phoenix, but he'll need to end that drought in the desert if he's to advance to the Championship 4. A flat left-rear tire on Lap 10 at Texas ended his hopes of bouncing back from Martinsville. Up next: Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 , 2:30 p.m. ET, Nov. 15 at Phoenix International Raceway (NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) Who it favors Most wins: Kevin Harvick , 7 Best driver rating: Harvick, 108.3 Best average finish: Harvick, 11.0 Who it hurts Fewest top 10s: Brad Keselowski 6 Worst driver rating: Martin Truex Jr ., 84.3 Worst average finish: Truex Jr., 17.1