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Staff picks for Talladega Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race
RELATED: See all the cars lined up for Sunday's race Denny Hamlin : The Daytona 500 winner has experience in getting to Victory Lane at restrictor-plate tracks. If his tendency for sour luck in the Chase -- see last year's odd roof flap issue in this race -- doesn't bite him, Hamlin has a strong shot at advancing with a Talladega win. -- Zack Albert Brad Keselowski : He was backed against a wall in 2014 and came through with a dramatic win to advance in the Chase , and he'll do it again on the heels of winning at Talladega this spring. -- George Winkler Brad Keselowski : Seems like an obvious pick because of Keselowski's two restrictor-plate wins this season coming into Talladega. But the former Cup champ is so good at this form of racing, particularly at Talladega where he got his first career Cup win and three more including this spring. And most importantly ... he needs a good showing to advance in the Chase . This is his race. -- Holly Cain Jimmie Johnson : The man who doesn't need the win -- thanks to his Charlotte victory -- gets the W to lock some strong competition out of the Round of 8. -- RJ Kraft Joey Logano : The talented Team Penske driver hasn't had exceptional results this season, but he's been lurking. We saw what he can do in this round last year, and I think he turns it on when it counts and takes Talladega for the second year in a row. -- Pat DeCola Matt Kenseth : One year after a Round of 12 he'd rather forget, the Joe Gibbs Racing veteran leaves no doubt and secures his second career win at Talladega. -- Brad Norman Make your picks in Streak to the Finish !
NASCAR updates driver participation guidelines
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In an announcement that will put an even brighter spotlight on the next generation of stars and bolster the identity of all three of its national series, NASCAR announced on Wednesday driver participation guidelines for the 2017 season. The new guidelines limit the number of events a premier series driver can race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Starting next season, premier series drivers with more than five years of full-time experience will be eligible to compete in a maximum of 10 races in the XFINITY Series and seven races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Additionally, drivers with more than five years of full-time premier series experience will be ineligible to compete in the final eight races in each series, as well as the Dash 4 Cash races in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The final eight races are comprised of the regular-season finale and the entirety of the Chase in each series. Drivers earning premier series points in 2017 also are not eligible to compete in the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship Races at Homestead-Miami Speedway . " The updated guidelines will elevate the stature of our future stars, while also providing them the opportunity to compete against the best in professional motorsports," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. "These updated guidelines are the result of a collaborative effort involving the entire industry, and will ultimately better showcase the emerging stars of NASCAR ." Drivers with more than five years of full-time experience in the premier series still can run for an XFINITY Series or Camping World Truck Series championship, provided they have declared for championship points in the respective series. Wednesday's announcement signals the next step in NASCAR's driver participation guideline evolution. Prior to the 2016 season, NASCAR announced that members of the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field would be ineligible to compete in the 2016 Championship Race in both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In 2011, NASCAR implemented a rule requiring drivers to select one of the three national series in which to collect championship points.
H2H: Chase's Round of 12 set to stir at Charlotte
RELATED: See the Chase Grid Story lines abound, and NASCAR .com's Holly Cain and Zack Albert tackle three pressing topics as the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup enters the Round of 12 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . 1. What surprised you most from Dover weekend in terms of who advanced in the Chase elimination race and who did not? Cain: I was surprised by the results in several areas, but more so by drivers who did not advance as expected. Like many, I believed Chip Ganassi Racing driver Kyle Larson would advance well beyond the Round of 16. In fact, I had him in my Championship 4. I do believe he will win another race before the season is over. And perhaps I was being sentimental in expecting Tony Stewart to advance, but I still remember the amazing Chase charge in 2011 and saw the motivation in the three-time champion's eyes after he won at Sonoma this summer. Albert: Austin Dillon 's advancement on the basis of pure consistency didn't send shock waves through the ol' surprise meter, but fate's cruel hand for Chip Ganassi Racing did. To see both Larson and teammate Jamie McMurray ejected from the Chase field at least qualified as a mild stunner. It's a solid dozen that remain, but Dover showed again how exacting this postseason format can be. RELATED: Larson, McMurray ousted from Chase after Dover woes 2. With the points standings reset for the Chase Round of 12, all drivers resume with a clean slate. Are there any incentives you would add to enhance the current format? Cain: A case could be made to give drivers who have won in the Chase a small points bonus in the ensuing round. But the equal reset given to all 12 drivers in the current format certainly increases the drama in a very different way from the Chase start, when regular-season wins are factored in. It's the first time since the Daytona 500 green flag that the top-tier drivers are ranked evenly, and it should make the next three races even more dramatic. Albert: It may not rate highly on the drama scale, but I've always maintained that the top points-earner during the regular season should be rewarded -- nominally if not handsomely. A first-round bye might be a stretch, but a bigger bounty of points would offer a larger incentive for consistent performance over the opening 26 events. Offering bonus points through each elimination round would be an inviting enhancement, but keeping them out of the championship race -- leaving the calculators at home -- has valuable merits. RELATED: Are added incentives for regular-season winners on horizon? 3. Among the remaining 12 Chase drivers, who's your pick to win this weekend at Charlotte and lock in early in the Round of 8? Cain: There's a certain six-time champion who I believe will collect his eighth win at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend. Jimmie Johnson has been close to wins already in the Chase only to fall victim to pit-road miscues -- something uncharacteristic of his Hendrick Motorsports organization. You've got to think that will be cleaned up, and I believe there's no one more motivated to remind naysayers why he is the modern era's very best. Albert: Is there any stopping the Truexpress? Wins in two of the first three Chase races have established the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota as a strong title favorite, and the team returns to the site of Truex's crushing victory in the Coca-Cola 600 in May. Placing former Charlotte winners Kevin Harvick , Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson under the heading of "sleepers" ranks as a testament to Truex's formidable stature this season. Upcoming wild-card races at Talladega and Martinsville have the potential to derail the No. 78's march; don't count on that happening this weekend at Charlotte.
H2H: Chase tension hits a rapid clip at Martinsville
RELATED: Meet the Chase's final 8 " Martinsville entry list The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs grinds on, with four races to go and one more elimination before the Championship 4 is determined for next month's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . With Talladega Superspeedway behind us and the final three-race series staged and ready for the Sprint Cup Series' return this weekend to Martinsville Speedway , our Holly Cain and Zack Albert tackle three pressing topics for the season's homestretch: 1. After a hectic day at Talladega, the Chase's Round of 8 is finally set. Any surprises at who's in, who's out? Cain: I think obviously not having this season's winningest drivers in the final eight is a major upset. I would have expected Martin Truex Jr . and Brad Keselowski to easily advance and frankly felt either might have visited Talladega's Victory Lane, not end their day in the track's garage. The four-car Joe Gibbs Racing sweep into the next round also defies odds, but more power to the team. They will have their hands full, however, with Chevy's Kevin Harvick and a certain six-time series champion, Jimmie Johnson . Albert: Agreed, the omissions of Truex and Keselowski counted as at least mild jolts, but at this phase of the process, there's only so much water that can go into the funnel. All of the final eight drivers have visited Victory Lane at some point this season, with all but one -- Kurt Busch -- making multiple trips. The only thing we're missing is a true underdog (see: winless Ryan Newman in 2014, a much more lightly regarded Truex in 2015), and that also qualifies as a subtle surprise. 2. NASCAR announced rules Wednesday designed to limit Sprint Cup drivers' participation in other national series starting in 2017. What's the net effect? Cain: The obvious upside to this is improved opportunity for up-and-coming drivers to truly show their wares against similar talent as they ascend the NASCAR ladder. More trophies, more winner's checks, more attention. They also will have to showcase their personalities more, however, to keep the story lines interesting in absence of the popular Cup drivers that more naturally fill newsfeeds. This is great opportunity, but it will require great work, too. Albert: Besides the increased opportunity overall, I believe the greatest impact will be felt once the playoffs roll around. With both XFINITY and the Camping World Truck Series just now dabbling in their first ventures into Chase waters, those series now have a greater chance to establish their regular drivers' stardom when it counts -- in the postseason. 3. Four races remain in the championship battle, with Martinsville Speedway next up on the schedule. Whether it's a Chaser aiming for a free pass to the Homestead finale or a non-Chaser hoping to play spoiler, who's your winning pick for the weekend? Cain: This is truly shaping up to be one of the most compelling Martinsville races in a long line of fantastic Martinsville races. Denny Hamlin is buoyed by the dramatic entry into this round of the Chase and has an enviable and proven track record here. But my pick is Jimmie Johnson , who will remind everyone of his massive talent and determination in pursuit of a record-tying seventh Cup in 2016. Albert: Record-tying seventh championship? Sounds like a storybook tale. But how about the chances of a Jeff Gordon sunset-riding repeat of his Martinsville victory in 2015? How about Denny Hamlin finally getting another shot at making good on his childhood promise to Coach Joe Gibbs that he'd drive to a title for him someday? The heart's pick at Martinsville goes with Gordon; the brain's vote takes Hamlin on the tricky sliver of a race track that still packs 'em in.
NBCSN, NASCAR Productions Present 'NASCAR Seasons: 2001'
RELATED: Oral history of first race after 9-11 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Immediately following this Sunday's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage at Martinsville Speedway , NBCSN presents " NASCAR Seasons: 2001," a new 60-minute documentary that chronicles a NASCAR season and a year that will never be forgotten. Unfolding through Dale Earnhardt's tragic death at the 2001 Daytona 500 , the enormous outpouring of emotions that followed, and Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s stirring victory at the July Daytona race, " NASCAR Seasons: 2001" also covers the sport's passionate reaction to the tragic events of the September 11th attacks. The story of this unforgettable year illustrates how NASCAR's legion of supporters came together at times of sorrow and jubilation to exhibit a tremendous sense of unity, and how the experiences of 2001 generated several advancements in safety that continue to evolve today. Produced in partnership with NASCAR Productions, the documentary candidly presents the events through rarely seen archival footage and new interviews with those who experienced the season firsthand. " NASCAR Seasons: 2001" premieres Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Dale Earnhardt Jr . contributes, openly discussing his memories from the year he lost his father and NASCAR lost a racing icon. The special features interviews with winner of the 2001 Sprint Cup Championship, Jeff Gordon , and fellow drivers Dale Jarrett, Jeff Burton , Kyle Petty, Tony Stewart and Elliott Sadler . In addition, the documentary includes interviews with former NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol, and longtime NASCAR senior executive Mike Helton, as they recall the challenges, healing and ultimately the pride that surrounded the sport and its millions of fans. Below are excerpts from " NASCAR Seasons: 2001": Dale Earnhardt Jr . on his father's impact: "When mainstream media was covering the death of my dad, how much attention that got kind of blew me away. Because I don't even know if dad had an idea of what he was to the world, or what he was to this country." Kyle Petty on Dale Jr. returning to Daytona in July for the first race after his father's passing: " The way he handled himself and didn't shy away from it. 'It is part of who I am and who I am going to be for the rest of my life.' He became, in a lot of ways, a leader in the garage that day." Mike Helton on delaying the first race after September 11, 2001: "Sports and entertainment are good complements to a healing process. But there is a time and a place. I think we landed on you simply have to be aware of the fact that the magnitude of that day was one that deserved peace and quiet." Tune-in to watch the Goody's Fast Relief 500 this Sunday, Oct. 30, at 1 p.m. ET on NBCSN, or listen live on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Fans can also purchase tickets to catch all the on-track action in person by visiting www. nascar .com/tickets .
Chase by the Numbers: Martinsville
As drivers head into the Round of 8 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , here are some statistics to keep in mind at NASCAR's shortest track.
Ready. Set. Chase ! NASCAR launches Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup campaign
RELATED: Breaking down the Chase field DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 13, 2016) -- NASCAR is bringing to life the drama and excitement of The Chase ® for fans online and on their mobile devices with Ready. Set. Chase , a new, integrated marketing campaign leading with digital and social media to promote the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ™. This year, to complement a robust, multi-platform social media push, NASCAR will engage and entertain fans with a heart-pounding action film series, starring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ drivers re-enacting the action and intensity of The Chase . The first digital video in the five-part series debuted today and can be viewed on NASCAR .com/TheChase . Inspired by the iconic chase scenes in classic Hollywood action films, the creative features reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch , on foot and being pursued by his Chase competitors. An original television spot, titled " The Chase is On," officially launched Ready. Set. Chase on Saturday during the regular season finale at Richmond International Raceway . "All season long NASCAR fans have been treated to some incredible racing on the track, but even still there’s nothing quite like The Chase ," said NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jill Gregory. "Ready. Set. Chase plays off the passion, drama and tension that underscores these next 10 weeks, while creating multiple ways for fans to engage and be part of the fun." For the first time, all three NASCAR OEMs are inviting fans to get in on the action by participating in Chase sweepstakes on NASCAR .com . Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota will each award one grand prize winner a new vehicle and VIP trip for two to NASCAR Champion's Week in Las Vegas in December. Fans can register for a chance to win a Chevrolet SS, Ford Fusion Sport and Toyota Camry XSE by visiting the Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota sweepstake sites, or after making their weekly picks in the Chase Grid Game on NASCAR .com . "We're thrilled to have all three manufacturers activating around Ready. Set. Chase and creating unique content that elevates the overall Chase experience for our loyal and dedicated fans," said Gregory. In the Chase Grid Game, fans that correctly pick drivers to advance to each Chase round will be entered for a chance to win real gear from the drivers and race tracks, including firesuits, helmets and sheet metal from the race cars. NASCAR will promote #TheChase heavily across all platforms during the sport’s most social postseason ever, leveraging Twitter, Vine, Periscope, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to engage fans throughout the 10-week Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . For each round leading up to Championship Weekend, NASCAR will execute unique activations on specific platforms in an effort to highlight its broad and extensive reach across the social media landscape. Beginning with the Round of 16, NASCAR fans will have access to a custom emoji for anytime they use #TheChase on Twitter. In addition, NASCAR will highlight its presence on Twitter, Vine and Periscope via a continued focus on compelling content and behind- the -scenes experiences. The Round of 12 will feature a Snapchat Live Story from the October 8 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway , and as The Chase field gets narrowed down to eight, NASCAR will go all in with social storytelling across all platforms, highlighted by innovations on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, freelance designers and original production will tell the story of the most epic championship battle in sports. The Ready. Set. Chase digital films, developed with Ogilvy & Mather New York, will be shot after each Chase round and recreate the on-track highlights as part of dramatic chases. Last month, Chase drivers began hitting the road for social and traditional media blitzes to promote the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Kyle Busch kicked off Chase Across America in Boston and each week different drivers will crisscross the nation to make special appearances and build excitement for The Chase . NASCAR will crown its 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion at the Ford Ecoboost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the fourth and final round of The Chase on Nov. 20 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Tickets for all Chase events in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series are available at NASCAR .com/tickets . The 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup kicks off with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 2:30 p.m. ET. The race will be broadcast live on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, with additional coverage on NASCAR .com.
Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup timeline: 2016
With the Sprint Cup Series postseason in full swing, stay on top of all news concerning the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup .
Blown engine ends Truex Jr.'s Chase hopes prematurely
RELATED: Race results " Chase Grid TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Martin Truex Jr .'s Sprint Cup Series championship hopes ended abruptly only 41 laps into Sunday's Hellmann's 500 at Talladega Superspeedway . His pole-winning No. 78 Bass Pro Shops Toyota suddenly lost power while running on the high banks, leaving the title hopeful to slowly create a smoke trail through the track garage, where his Furniture Row Racing team awaited to start analyzing the problem. It was the team's first engine failure in two years. As the team surveyed the car, one crew member picked up Truex's helmet and slowly walked it back to the team trailer, essentially spelling the end of his day and his 2016 title hopes. "It's definitely disappointing; what else can you say?" Truex said. "We had a team capable of competing for the championship. And unfortunately we aren't going to be able to show that. I guess there's still a chance of a miracle, but I don't see it happening. We'll just have to wait and see how it all plays out today." RELATED: No. 78 team works on car, more Talladega photos Truex, who is in the midst of a career-best, four-win season -- including two victories in the opening round of Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup -- will instead now be watching others vie for the title many figured Truex might well hoist. As his Denver-based team hurried around the Talladega garage area examining his car, he looked over his shoulder, obviously feeling badly for them as well. "I'm sure they're devastated," Truex said. "They've worked so hard this year to put us in a position to challenge for a championship. You know, we felt like we could do it. But this sport is tough. "We didn't perform at Kansas and Charlotte the way we are capable of and had some issues that bit us and put us in the hole. We could have gone there and done better and gotten a win and we wouldn't be talking about this right now. "At the end of the day, we didn't get the job done. But we've got a great team. We've got four more races to try and win and I know we could win all four of them." RELATED: How Furniture Row was built in Colorado For all the disappointment Truex felt and displayed, he still spoke to reporters, demonstrating great perspective and promising a solid end to the year. Just not the end he and his team had hoped. "It's part of life, it's part of racing," Truex said. "You take it one week at a time. Enjoy the good days and try to get past the bad ones, that's what you do no matter where you're at. "Just, damn. It just hurts to go out like that. We could have raced all day and gotten in a big wreck and still not made it, so there's no telling. But it sure would have been nice to have at least found out, played the whole game so to speak and see what happened instead of barely making it to the first pit stop. That stings. But all in all, we can't hang our heads. We've got a lot to be proud of," said Truex. "This will make us stronger.''
Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup clinching scenarios for Round of 12 spots
The Citizen Soldier 400 (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Dover International Speedway marks the first elimination of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as the field shrinks from 16 drivers to 12. How can drivers advance to the Round of 12? Martin Truex Jr . and Kevin Harvick are already locked into the next round with victories at Chicagoland and New Hampshire, respectively. Here's a look at how drivers can clinch spots in the next round. Possible to Clinch: — Brad Keselowski (0 Wins, 2087 Points) - Would clinch on points with 12 Points (29th and no laps led, 30th and led at least one lap, 31st and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 7 Points (34th and no laps led, 35th and led at least one lap, 36th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Kyle Busch (0 Wins, 2085 Points) - Would clinch on points with 14 Points (27th and no laps led, 28th and led at least one lap, 29th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 9 Points (32nd and no laps led, 33rd and led at least one lap, 34th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Matt Kenseth (0 Wins, 2078 Points) - Would clinch on points with 20 Points (21st and no laps led, 22nd and led at least one lap, 23rd and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 15 Points (26th and no laps led, 27th and led at least one lap, 28th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Joey Logano (0 Wins, 2073 Points) - Would clinch on points with 26 Points (15th and no laps led, 16th and led at least one lap, 17th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 21 Points (20th and no laps led, 21st and led at least one lap, 22nd and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Denny Hamlin (0 Wins, 2071 Points) - Would clinch on points with 28 Points (13th and no laps led, 14th and led at least one lap, 15th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 23 Points (18th and no laps led, 19th and led at least one lap, 20th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Jimmie Johnson (0 Wins, 2070 Points) - Would clinch on points with 29 Points (12th and no laps led, 13th and led at least one lap, 14th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 24 Points (17th and no laps led, 18th and led at least one lap, 19th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Chase Elliott (0 Wins, 2068 Points) - Would clinch on points with 31 Points (10th and no laps led, 11th and led at least one lap, 12th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 26 Points (15th and no laps led, 16th and led at least one lap, 17th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Carl Edwards (0 Wins, 2068 Points) - Would clinch on points with 31 Points (10th and no laps led, 11th and led at least one lap, 12th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 26 Points (15th and no laps led, 16th and led at least one lap, 17th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Kurt Busch (0 Wins, 2067 Points) - Would clinch on points with 32 Points (9th and no laps led, 10th and led at least one lap, 11th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 27 Points (14th and no laps led, 15th and led at least one lap, 16th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Kyle Larson (0 Wins, 2057 Points) - If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 37 Points (4th and no laps led, 5th and led at least one lap, 6th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. Could clinch on points with a new winner and help. For the following, the only guaranteed clinch would be with a win. Each could clinch without a win, but would need varying levels of help, however: — Jamie McMurray (0 Wins, 2052 Points) — Austin Dillon (0 Wins, 2052 Points) — Tony Stewart (0 Wins, 2046 Points) — Chris Buescher (0 Wins, 2027 Points)