Dylan Kwasniewski will also get behind wheel of No. 42 Team owners Chip Ganassi and Harry Scott Jr. announced a formal merger of their partnership in the NASCAR XFINITY Series on Thursday, forging a single-car team under the new name of HScott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi for 2015. The team announced that Kyle Larson , the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year, and NASCAR Next alumnus Dylan Kwasniewski will be among the drivers of the No. 42 Chevrolet. Mike Shiplett -- who has worked as a crew chief and car chief for Richard Petty Motorsports , Turner Scott Motorsports and Gillett Evernham Motorsports -- will be the team's crew chief. Larson, 22, scored two wins for the team last season under its former Turner Scott Motorsports umbrella, breaking through at Auto Club Speedway in his home state of California for his first victory in the Nationwide Series, which will be backed by XFINITY in 2015. Larson prevailed again at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. Kwasniewski competed in a full rookie season on the Nationwide Series circuit last year, driving 28 of 33 races in Turner Scott's No. 31 Chevy and the rest in the No. 42. The 19-year-old Las Vegas native won the pole position for the season opener at Daytona International Speedway and wound up 11th in the final 2014 standings. Ganassi , a former IndyCar driver who became a team owner in the premier NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2001, fielded teams in what is now the XFINITY Series from 2004-08, netting six wins among four drivers -- Reed Sorenson , Jamie McMurray , Casey Mears and Juan Pablo Montoya . The team will operate out of the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates race shop in Concord, North Carolina. Scott also announced a partnership with road racer Justin Marks for a four-car operation in the developmental NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks will field entries for returning driver Scott Heckert and three rookie contenders -- William Byron, 17; J.J. Haley, 15; and Dalton Sargeant, 16. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Last-minute sub for Kyle Larson finishes 16th at Martinsville Speedway Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Kyle Larson was hours away from Martinsville Speedway on Sunday afternoon, staying in a Charlotte medical facility while Regan Smith filled in as an 11th-hour substitute in the No. 42 Chevrolet he usually drives. That doesn't mean he wasn't tuned in to how his Chip Ganassi Racing outfit was doing, leading to an entertaining back-and-forth over the team radio communications during pace laps. "We know you're listening, Kyle. We're going to get one for you." "He just texted me to say 'I'm listening.' " "We can't get away with anything." With their talented driver eavesdropping the day after he fainted at an autograph session, Smith wheeled Ganassi's No. 42 to a solid 16th-place finish in the STP 500 , rallying from a mid-race spin and a last-place starting spot. Ganassi officials contacted the NASCAR XFINITY Series regular on Saturday night, shortly after Larson was transported to a local hospital for tests, to inquire about his availability. When Smith awoke at 5:30 a.m. ET, he was already tapped for substitute detail. "I definitely appreciated them calling me in that situation," Smith said. "I hate it for Kyle -- he's a friend and a competitor, so you don't ever want to see that happen. I know it probably tore him up today." On such short notice, the makeshift accommodations -- Smith was fitted using CGR teammate Jamie McMurray 's seat as a model, and he borrowed a crew member uniform for his firesuit -- took some getting used to. He was forced to drop to the rear of the field from the seventh starting position that Larson earned in Friday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying because of the driver change, making his battle an uphill one before the green flag ever unfurled. But Smith made progress, getting to the fringes of the top 10 until he spun after a nudge from Kurt Busch in the 286th of 500 laps during a traffic jam. "It was just a check-up, a chain-reaction deal and by the time it got back to me, I hit the car in front of me and whoever was behind me hit me even harder," Smith said. "It's typical Martinsville. We saw it happening all day. Sometimes it's such a big check-up that you can't do anything about it. It's just a racing deal." The contact dropped him from 17th to 27th, last on the lead lap, for the next restart, but Smith still found momentum that kept him on the leader's pace. "We just fought hard all day long, stayed on the lead lap. That was a big goal, starting where we did," Smith said. "It's tough sometimes to stay on that lead lap here. I thought the car was a little better than where we finished at the end. I got hung on the last restart on the outside and then couldn't get through some of the traffic as quick as I needed to. But nonetheless, good day for sitting at the house last night, thinking I wasn't going to be doing anything." In the span of the last 21 Sprint Cup races dating back to last August, Smith has subbed in for three teams -- the No. 14 and 41 cars from Stewart-Haas Racing and Sunday's ride in the No. 42. The effort wasn't lost on crew chief Chris Heroy, who applauded Smith's versatility in running a largely clean race at one of the sport's roughest tracks. "I was really impressed," Heroy said. "To jump in cold like that and be able to run solid in the top 15 is a real credit. We struggled from time to time with Kyle here, with Juan here, so it's a nice run for our program, and I can't say enough about what a great job he did." Heroy said he spoke to Larson on Sunday morning, saying that his evaluations were going well thus far. "He's in good spirits," Heroy said. "He's passing all his tests. He's an incredible student down there, so I'm going to go check on him right now and drive back to Charlotte." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Rookie Larson, veteran McMurray aim to help Ganassi regroup
Catch up quickly before Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live What: 66th annual STP 500 Where: Martinsville Speedway , Martinsville, Virginia When: Sunday, March 29, 2015 TV/Radio: FOX Sports 1, Motor Racing Network Time: 1:13 p.m. ET Distance: 500 laps (263 miles) Pit Road Speed: 30 mph Caution Car Speed: 35 mph Estimated Pit Window: 125-135 laps, based on fuel mileage On The Front Row " Full starting lineup " See all 43 cars 1. Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 Ford (98.461 mph) 2. Ryan Newman , Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet (98.328 mph) To The Rear Casey Mears , Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet (transmission); Regan Smith , Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet (driver change, subbing for Kyle Larson ); Justin Allgaier , HScott Motorsports No. 51 Chevrolet (backup) Failed To Qualify Brendan Gaughan , Premium Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet; Ron Hornaday Jr ., TMG No. 30 Chevrolet. Fastest In Practice First practice: Ryan Newman , Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet (97.835 mph) " Full results Second practice: Denny Hamlin , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota (97.113 mph) " Full results Final Practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (97.098 mph) " Full results It's Not Where You Start After qualifying first or second in two of the last three races, defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick will roll off from the No. 17 position at Martinsville. He's qualified worse this season, starting 18th at Las Vegas. For the record, he won Las Vegas. Remember When? A Ford team has not finished first or second at Martinsville since 2002, going 0-for 24 since Kurt Busch won the fall race here while driving for Roush Fenway Racing . Chevrolet teams have won the last eight races at the 0.526-mile track. Hey Buddy, Move It "There is a lot of blocking that goes on (at Martinsville) and nobody wants go give up the inside, but the guy behind can control that a little bit. You can just get to their bumper and move them. … The guy that chops your nose off a lot going into say, Turn 3, you are just going to move him. … It is frustrating at times, but you definitely want to be on the offensive here rather than the defensive." – Paul Menard , RCR No. 27 Chevrolet He Can See The Front Tony Stewart will start sixth at Martinsville, his best starting spot since the fall race at Texas last year. He's also coming off his best finish of the season, a 14th-place result last week at Auto Club Speedway . The three-time Martinsville winner says earning a good starting spot "is half the battle" on the tiny track. "If you can just get a good pit spot and … a decent starting spot to where you do not have to beat the thing to death trying to get to the front, that's half the battle," he said. Pole or Bust Pole winners have won two of the last five Martinsville races, which might be good news for No. 1 qualifier Joey Logano . But drivers starting outside the top-20 have won the last two – Kurt Busch won from 22nd last spring while Dale Earnhardt Jr . won from 23rd in the fall race. Winless and counting Yes, it's been quite a while since a Toyota team won a Sprint Cup Series points races, 31 races in fact, and while Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin says a victory at Martinsville would be a big boost, it wouldn't be a cure-all. "It's been tough and it's been a hard year for the organization and the manufacturer," he said. "Not that a win here would just satisfy all those needs -- we still know that realistically we've got a lot of work to do, but it definitely would take a lot of pressure off because right now we're all in that hornets' nest of the bubble spot if this thing comes down to points." An Off-Weekend? Let's Go Racing Chase Elliott , the defending XFINITY Series champion and the son of NASCAR Hall of Fame member Bill Elliott , is making his Sprint Cup Series debut today. Elliott will start 27th in the No. 25 Chevrolet fielded by Hendrick Motorsports . "You just want to put together 500 solid laps on Sunday and try to run all the laps and hope we can have a good day," Elliott, 19, said. The XFINITY Series has the weekend off, returning to action Friday, April 10 at Texas Motor Speedway . Defending STP 500 Champion Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Martinsville Speedway based on past 10 years: Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (122.5) Jeff Gordon , Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet (119.8) Denny Hamlin , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota (110.1) Former Martinsville Speedway Winners In Field Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson 8; Denny Hamlin 4; Tony Stewart 3; Kurt Busch 2; Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kevin Harvick , Ryan Newman 1 MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Wrapping up the week that was and look forward to the week ahead Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Hendrick Motorsports will have five teams vying for starting positions in Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway , but HMS officials aren't skirting the rules. Since 2006, NASCAR has limited Sprint Cup organizations to no more than four full-time teams. However, officials allow a fifth entry for a maximum of seven starts "for the purpose of enabling a rookie driver … to become familiar with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition." In addition to full-time teams for drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne , HMS will field a fifth entry for defending XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott at Martinsville. It will be Elliott's first attempt in the Sprint Cup Series, one of five scheduled for the 19-year-old this season. Elliott will also be entered in Sprint Cup races at Richmond (April 25), Charlotte (May 24), Indianapolis (July 26) and Darlington (Sept. 6). The No. 25 Chevrolet will carry sponsorship from NAPA and will be led by crew chief Kenny Francis. Elliott is slated to replace Gordon in the team's No. 24 Chevrolet beginning in 2016. It will be the first time an organization has fielded five Sprint Cup teams in one race since 2009 provided Elliott qualifies for the 43-car field. HMS fielded a fifth team on a part-time basis that season for driver Brad Keselowski -- his final start with HMS came at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October. Roush Fenway Racing was allowed to field five full-time teams through the end of '09 due to sponsorship agreements that were in place when the cap was announced three years earlier. MORE INSPECTION TIME ADDED • NASCAR will continue to incorporate additional time into the pre-qualifying inspection process as the Sprint Cup Series returns from a three-week West Coast swing and heads to Martinsville. Schedule adjustments at Las Vegas, Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway resulted in an additional 15 minutes of off-track time at each venue to allow teams to prepare and present their cars for pre-qualifying inspection and for officials to complete the inspection process. The move came in the wake of inspection delays at the season's second event, the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Thirteen cars were unable to complete the pre-qualifying inspection process in time to post an official first-round qualifying lap at Atlanta. Friday's schedule at Martinsville indicates changes from '14 that will provide an additional 10 minutes of time between the end of opening practice and the start of qualifying. Compared to last year's Martinsville spring race schedule, opening practice is now five minutes shorter (12-1:25 p.m. ET) and qualifying will being later (4:45 p.m. instead of 4:40 p.m.). In addition, in a NASCAR bulletin distributed to teams, the first round of Sprint Cup Series qualifying will now be 20 minutes at short tracks and intermediate tracks. This takes affect at Martinsville this weekend. NO PRACTICE PENALTIES • No teams required more than three attempts to pass pre-qualifying inspection at Auto Club Speedway , meaning none will be docked 15 minutes at the beginning of practice Friday at Martinsville. NASCAR notified teams earlier this year that any vehicle that fails qualifying inspection more than twice will be subject to a 15-minute practice penalty that will be applied during the opening practice of the next scheduled event. TIRES IMPOUNDED • NASCAR impounded the tires from four teams following Sunday's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway . Tires from the teams of Kevin Harvick and teammate Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), as well as teammates Ryan Newman and Paul Menard ( Richard Childress Racing ) went back to the NASCAR R&D Center for evaluation. Harvick and Busch finished second and third, respectively, while Menard finished fourth and Newman fifth. It marked the second time this season that NASCAR had impounded tires following a Sprint Cup Series event. The sanctioning body took tires from the teams of race winner Harvick and eighth-place finisher Joey Logano after this month’s Phoenix race. No issues with the Phoenix tires were found, according to NASCAR officials. Sunday's race was the first for teams with the new left-side tire code at Auto Club. There was no change in the right-side tires. • According to Goodyear, Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series teams will run the same Goodyear tire codes this weekend at Martinsville used when the two series visited the half-mile track last October. This particular tire is not used for any other events by the two series. PIT ROAD PENALTIES • Officials in NASCAR's Pit Road Officiating (PRO) trailer called 12 of the 22 penalties issued during Sunday’s Auto Club 400 , the second fewest through this year’s first five races. Six of the 12 were for tire violations -- failure to control an outside tire. Only Phoenix saw fewer total violations (19) and those made by officials in the PRO trailer (nine). There have been 158 penalties thus far this season, including 60 that were called by the PRO group. Officials in the tower continue to call infractions for speeding when entering/exiting pit road, pitting before pit road is open and various safety-related violations. Officials in the PRO trailer use video to respond to potential infractions such as too many crewmen in contact with the pit service area, crewmen over the wall too soon and pit box tire violations. PENALTIES FOR FONTANA INFRACTIONS • On Wednesday, NASCAR issued penalities for infractions during race weekend at Auto Club Speedway . Click here for penalties on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series No. 33 team, and click here for penalties on the NASCAR XFINITY Series No. 8 team. POST-RACE INSPECTIONS • Because of the schedule that saw teams competing at Las Vegas, Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway in consecutive weeks, final post-race inspection for entries from both Phoenix and Auto Club will be conducted Wednesday at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina. Both Stewart-Haas Racing entries of driver Kevin Harvick , which finished first and second at Phoenix and Auto Club, respectively, were sent back to the R&D Center as well as the cars of Auto Club winner Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske ) and Phoenix runner-up Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates). MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Dylan Kwasniewski and Chip Ganassi Racing sign development deal at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Larson, McMurray prep for Rolex 24 at World Center of Racing
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates organization's Christmas card sent out last month was a keeper. Lining up for a group photo were drivers Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Juan Montoya, Jamie McMurray -- and team owner Chip Ganassi . Grand-Am Road Racing got one of those cards. On Tuesday, Grand-Am - and its fans -- got a belated Christmas gift from Ganassi's group, in the form of a star-studded lineup for the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona (Jan. 29-30), one encompassing two cars, eight drivers, three racing disciplines and a return appearance by McMurray, the reigning Daytona 500 champion. Pruett and Rojas, the reigning Rolex Series Daytona Prototype co-champions, will be joined in the No. 01 Target/Telmex BMW/Riley prototype by Grand-Am veteran Joey Hand and Graham Rahal, the latter recently announced as a new Ganassi driver in the IndyCar Series. In the No. 02 Telmex/Target BMW/Riley, last year's Daytona team returns intact: McMurray, two-time Rolex 24 champion Montoya and two IndyCar vets -- two-time series titlist Dixon and the series' reigning champ, Franchitti. Collectively, those two teams have won 12 series championships, eight Rolex 24s, one Daytona 500 and four Indianapolis 500s. Happy Holidays indeed, belated or not. Ganassi clearly is pulling out all the stops to get a fast start on the 2011 season -- and a fast follow-up to a memorable 2010. Last season arguably was the greatest by any race car owner in any series: Pruett and Rojas dominated the Grand-Am Rolex Series season en route to winning the DP championship for a second time; McMurray won the marquee event in the Sprint Cup Series, plus the Brickyard 400; and Franchitti won the Indy 500 for a second time and the IndyCar series title for a third time. "The Rolex 24 at Daytona is always exciting for our team, especially because it involves so many of our drivers from all different series," Ganassi said. "There are so many elements out of the drivers' hands that need to come together, in order to have a shot at winning this event. That's what I love about it. You have to not only be good, but you also have to have a little bit of luck on your side to succeed in a race that lasts 24 hours." Ganassi's No. 02 DP team dominated the race's first eight hours last year before mechanical problems forced an early retirement of the car. Pruett and Rojas went on to finish second, teamed with two other drivers. McMurray was involved in a recent test session at Daytona International Speedway; both NASCAR stock cars and Grand-Am sports cars turned laps on the new DIS pavement for the first time. "They did a really nice job with the paving project, so I expect the racing to be really good for the 24-hour race," McMurray said. "I'm certain that we'll bring good cars for the race, as Chip and his Grand-Am guys do each and every year. It's great to have the opportunity to once again drive for Chip in one of the most prestigious motorsports events out there." Testing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona -- the Roar Before the Rolex 24 -- is Friday-Sunday at Daytona. The 49th running of the endurance classic is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 29.
CGR duo scores top-10 finishes with McMurray challenging Harvick late RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings AVONDALE, Ariz. -- The CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway brought the two-car Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates organization something that became very familiar in the latter part of the season: two top-10 finishes. Strategy plays to stay out on older tires led Jamie McMurray to a runner-up finish and Kyle Larson to a 10th-place finish. McMurray gave race winner and Phoenix dominator Kevin Harvick a late challenge on the final restart on Lap 301, but he couldn't quite get ahead of the defending Sprint Cup Series champion. The late restart was something in particular that McMurray lamented after the race. "If I could do my restart over again right now, I would have done something a little different," McMurray said. What exactly would he have done? "It was really hard on the last two restarts to get any drive," McMurray said. "When you would get to the corner, it didn't want to turn and it was loose. No grip. Sliding around a lot. Honestly, when I went through one and two I felt like I totally missed the corner and I was waiting to hear, three-wide, you're in the middle. I heard, clear. I wish I would have moved up immediately. He had momentum on the outside. "I didn't feel like I was clear. The cars are kind of like what we have at Daytona. When you're clear of someone or when someone gets to your quarter panel, you can feel it bog the car down. I didn't feel like I was clear. Hindsight, I would have listened to my spotter a little bit and just moved up. I felt like I missed the corner so I didn't have any idea how I could be clear." Still, McMurray was pleased with the day overall and praised crew chief Matt McCall 's late-race call to stay out on older tires in just his fourth race as the crew chief for the No. 1 team. "I'm really happy with second. It would be nice to be in Victory Lane and know you were locked into the Chase the way the point format works. "Matt did a great job calling the race. That's hard in your first four or five races to make that decision in the end to stay out on old tires. In hindsight, it was the right one. "When you're in the car, you run that many laps, you know how bad the car feels, when he asks me, 'what do you want to do?' I'm like, you're the crew chief. I'm going to do whatever you think is right.' He did a great job today." The two drivers carry their mojo forward at Phoenix and used quick stops on pit road to do so. McMurray spent the least amount of time on pit road (160.584 total seconds) and Larson spent the third-least amount of time on pit road (163.666 total seconds). Last season, despite not being in the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff, McMurray and Larson were arguably two of the strongest cars during that 10-race stretch, combining for 11 top-10 finishes (Larson had 6, McMurray had 5). The first races of 2015 did not see that strong late-season showing carry over as the organization's Daytona and Atlanta results drew finishes of 26th-or-worse in both races. The team seemed to regain its footing with last weekend at Las Vegas with Larson finishing eighth and McMurray finishing 11th. For Larson, the second straight top-10 was a welcomed sight and he gained four spots in the point standings to move up to 17th. "I'm happy to get a second top-10," Larson said on pit road after the race. "Wish we could have been a little bit better. Wish it would have stayed green there a little bit more without getting those last couple cautions because we were all good on fuel." Now, the California native is preparing to head back home for the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX). The reigning Sunoco Rookie of the Year scored his first career top-five finish there last year with a runner-up showing. "Last year, we finished second but we weren't racing up front the whole time," Larson said. "We just had a good restart. But we've learned a lot with our intermediate cars so we should be a lot better when we go back. We'll just have to wait and see when it comes to practice on Friday." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Breaking down how the full 43-car field fared at Phoenix International Raceway Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings 1. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet , Stewart-Haas Racing . The desert domination continued for Harvick and the No. 4 bunch, which led 224 of 312 laps in the team's fourth straight Phoenix victory. Harvick's second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win increased his streak of top-two finishes to seven, the first driver to accomplish it since Richard Petty in 1975. "That gives me chills," said the defending Sprint Cup champ. 2. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet , Chip Ganassi Racing . Though he voiced concerns about a tire going down to crew chief Matt McCall in the final 50 laps, McMurray persevered for his best Sprint Cup finish since winning at Talladega Superspeedway in October 2013. McCall's decision to keep the No. 1 on the track over the final fuel run gave McMurray a chance to battle hard with Harvick in the late stages. 3. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet , Richard Childress Racing . Newman went all the way into late June last year before he notched his first top-five finish of the season. Four races into the 2015 campaign, Newman already has two top-fives -- his 99th and 100th of his career -- thanks to his second straight third-place finish. 4. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet , Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne saved his best finish of the season for his 400th start in NASCAR's premier series, moving up two spots to fourth place in the Sprint Cup standings in the process. "I hope I get 400 more," said the 34-year-old driver. 5. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet , Stewart-Haas Racing . The driver formerly known as "The Outlaw" ran second to his SHR teammate Harvick for much of the waning stages, but lost ground when he pitted for fresh tires with 22 laps left. In his first race of the season since NASCAR lifted his suspension, Busch was all business, telling his crew on the radio on the cool-down lap that he thought he had "enough good will saved up, but top five is exactly where we need to be." " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 6. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford , Team Penske . The 2012 Sprint Cup champ led the second-most laps (52) and landed his best finish of the season, but remains on the hunt for his first top-five. "We just didn't quite have enough speed," said Keselowski, who drove the top-finishing Ford. "I thought we were about a third- or fourth-place car and got shuffled to finish where we did." 7. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet , Furniture Row Racing . The scrappy Colorado-based team continued its upswing, moving to third in the early Sprint Cup standings. Truex rose to as high as second place Sunday, gaining two spots on a 126th-lap restart and leading his spotter to exclaim, "All clear, you are the man!" Truex joins points leader Kevin Harvick and Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano as the only three drivers with top-10 finishes in all four races thus far. " Sign up for RaceView to see in-car video on race days 8. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford , Team Penske . Logano led twice (the only driver other than Harvick to lead more than once) for 35 laps, benefitting from some fleet-footed pit work from his No. 22 crew. He rallied back after a pit stop during the next-to-last caution period, saying afterward, "getting a top-10 is great but we want to win some more." 9. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet , Hendrick Motorsports . The first top-10 finish of Gordon's final full season in NASCAR's top division couldn't come soon enough, helping him jump five spots to 25th in the Sprint Cup standings. He gave up third place by pitting during the ninth of 10 yellow flags, but threaded his way back for his fourth top-10 in his last five Phoenix races. 10. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet , Chip Ganassi Racing . Larson survived a dicey moment shortly after a restart in the 126th lap when Kevin Harvick pushed on his back bumper, getting the No. 42 askew off Turn 4. Larson kept headed in the right direction, securing his second straight top-10 finish. 11. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet , Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson's adventures came early and late in the 312-lapper at Phoenix: He collided with Brian Vickers at the end of the first lap, leading Johnson to tell crew chief Chad Knaus on the radio, "It's so weird, he left me a lane and came over on the straight." Johnson pressed on after more contact with Carl Edwards on pit road during the race's seventh caution. 12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford , Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse was at the head of the Roush Fenway class Sunday, marking his best Sprint Cup finish since a sixth-place effort at Bristol Motor Speedway last August. The effort wasn't without some drama, an 81st-lap nudge from Tony Stewart that sent him out of the groove and cost him a handful of spots early on. 13. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota , Joe Gibbs Racing . Over his radio in the final stages, Edwards -- who withstood a collision with Jimmie Johnson 's No. 48 on pit road -- radioed his crew that the No. 19 was "shaking like hell," but he was assured that a flapping piece of sheet metal at the rear was upsetting the car's balance. His JGR entry was the highest-finishing Toyota in the 43-car field. " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 14. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet , Richard Childress Racing . Menard's third straight finish on the outskirts of the top 10 didn't come without some excitement as he just missed Tony Stewart 's spinning car in the 238th lap. "I may have just kissed it, but nothing major," he told his RCR crew. 15. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet , Richard Childress Racing . Another RCR driver having a more definitive brush with Tony Stewart was Dillon, who sustained a 143rd-lap bump off the fourth turn. Displeased team owner Richard Childress, Dillon's grandfather, gave him some stern instruction for dealing with Stewart over the team radio: "You know what to do when you get back there." 16. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota , Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth spent his fair share of the day mixing it up among the top 10, but an 188th-lap penalty for speeding exiting the pits cost the No. 20 group precious track position. 17. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet , JTG-Daugherty Racing . The 'Dinger overcame a pair of Phoenix setbacks -- starting at the rear of the field because of a Saturday engine change, then seeing his jack man sidelined by injury on an early pit stop. The solid finish kept Allmendinger firmly in the provisional Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff grid, fifth in the series standings. 18. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet , HScott Motorsports . Allgaier sewed up his best finish of the season, but also drew some initial criticism from Tony Stewart after their 238th-lap battle sent Smoke spinning. "I don't think I crowded him, but you know how it is," Allgaier told his crew, noting the difficulties in judging his line through the third and fourth turns. " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 19. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford , Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola lamented his car's struggles with handling, especially in traffic, but was hopeful for a rebound next Sunday at Auto Club Speedway , site of the third and final leg of NASCAR's West Coast Swing. "Our intermediate program has been good this year, so we'll look to getting up front next week in California," Almirola said. 20. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet , Germain Racing . Handling woes kept the No. 13 from making progress during the 500-kilometer race, but Mears tweeted hours after the checkered flag that the team found a problem in the right-rear that was the culprit. Despite the midpack finish, he still held a tenuous grip on the 12th of 16 spots in the provisional Chase grid. 21. David Ragan , No. 18 Toyota , Joe Gibbs Racing . Ragan's stint as a substitute for the injured Kyle Busch has yet to produce a finish better than his interim car number. Sunday, it produced an irate Danica Patrick after their late-race run-in. Ragan's JGR team celebrated as last year's winner at Auto Club Speedway , where Busch scored his only Sprint Cup victory of the season. 22. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet , Hillman Smith Motorsports. The Iowa native posted his best finish of the Sprint Cup season by a wide margin, finishing on the lead lap for the first time in 2015. He was the recipient of the free pass back onto the lead lap three times in the early going. 23. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Finishing last among the JGR contingent didn't sit well with Hamlin, who hopes to bounce back into form at Auto Club Speedway , a track that has been a house of horrors, injury-wise, for him the last two years. "We have to go to California and offset this," he told his No. 11 team on the cool-down lap. " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 24. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota , Michael Waltrip Racing . An unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel in the 143rd lap left Bowyer shouting a stream of profanities over his team radio near the race's midpoint. He received the free pass back onto the lead lap during the sixth of 10 caution periods. 25. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford , Front Row Motorsports . Whitt matched his best performance in five career Sprint Cup starts at Phoenix International Raceway , but also held the distinction Sunday as the race's biggest gainer, finishing 14 spots up from his starting position. 26. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet , Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick found herself at the tail of the field after drawing a 201st-lap penalty for her crew's failure to control a tire on pit road, then spun through turns 3 and 4 after a significant nudge from David Ragan 's No. 18. "Nice try, Mr. Nice Guy Ragan," she told her crew under caution. " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 27. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford , Roush Fenway Racing . A loose wheel with roughly 75 laps to go cost Biffle dearly when he was forced to make an unscheduled green-flag pit stop. He was the beneficiary of the race's next caution flag, but wound up as the final driver on the lead lap in his worst finish of the season. 28. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford , Roush Fenway Racing . After going a lap down to leader Kevin Harvick in the race's first half, Bayne said, "I about flipped over trying to keep up with him. Loose in, about to wreck every lap. Just terrible." Bayne matched both his result from the previous week and the number of laps down at the finish (3). 29. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford , Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland illustrated the tooth-and-nail nature of racing back in the pack when he traded paint with Mike Bliss down the backstretch early on, trying to avoid going a lap down. He eventually did, winding up three laps back at the checkered flag in his worst result so far in 2015. 30. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet , Tommy Baldwin Racing . The second-year driver made the most of an ill-handling car, telling his TBR crew over the radio about feeling "brake shake" as the race entered its second half. It marked a modest improvement over Bowman's last-place finish the previous weekend in Las Vegas. 31. J.J. Yeley , No. 23 Toyota , BK Racing . High hopes for a solid day in his Arizona hometown went for naught with his worst finish at the 1-mile track since spring 2011. The performance left him 0-for-13 in the top-10 column over his Sprint Cup career at Phoenix. 32. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford , Front Row Motorsports . In two starts thus far as David Ragan 's sub in the No. 34, Moffitt has been unable to replicate the magic from his eighth-place outing earlier in the season as Brian Vickers ' fill-in at MWR. He'll get another shot this Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in the last of his three scheduled drives for the Front Row team. 33. Mike Bliss , No. 32 Ford , GoFAS Racing . After Bliss failed to qualify the previous weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway , the No. 32 was back on track Sunday at Phoenix. The veteran won a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Phoenix in 1998, but has been no better than 20th in the desert in his Sprint Cup career. 34. Jeb Burton , No. 26 Toyota , BK Racing . The rocky start to Burton's Sprint Cup tenure continued Sunday at Phoenix, but the 22-year-old can take some solace in wrapping up a career-best finish. "We made big gains this weekend had a better car then (sic) where we finished," Burton tweeted after the race. "Proud of the effort all weekend." 35. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota , BK Racing . After failing to qualify the previous two weeks at Atlanta and Las Vegas, DiBenedetto's Sprint Cup debut finally came. He drove home in the same position that he started -- 35th. 36. Josh Wise , No. 98 Ford , Phil Parsons Racing . Wise lagged to his lowest finish of the season, continuing a trend of finishing 35th or worse in all six of his Sprint Cup starts at Phoenix International Raceway . 37. Brendan Gaughan , No. 62 Chevrolet , Premium Motorsports. Gaughan sits sixth in the standings in his regular circuit, the NASCAR XFINITY Series, but the results haven't been there on the Sprint Cup side. His third start of the season in the Jay Robinson-owned ride marked his 45th career start in NASCAR's top series. 38. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet , Circle Sport Racing . Kennedy started last in the Joe Falk-owned Chevy and recovered from a Turn 3 spin during the 16th lap. He wound up eight laps down in making his first Sprint Cup start of the year. 39. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet , Stewart-Haas Racing . Smoke used brute force to complete two passes earlier in the race, but found close-quarters racing with Justin Allgaier to be his undoing in the 238th lap. Stewart scraped the wall again 52 laps later, ending his day. The three-time series champ has just 32 points, lowest among drivers who have run all four Sprint Cup events this year. 40. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford , Richard Petty Motorsports . Involvement in the fourth yellow flag (for a solo spin) and the ninth caution period (for catching a piece of Tony Stewart 's second crash of the day) doomed any chances at Phoenix, the site of his first NASCAR XFINITY Series victory. The Petty No. 9 spent plenty of time behind the wall for repairs, finishing 35 laps down at the end. 41. Brian Vickers , No. 55 Toyota , Michael Waltrip Racing . Vickers' second start of the year went awry as he crossed the stripe to complete Lap 1, when he collided with Jimmie Johnson 's car on the frontstretch. "What happened to all clear?" Vickers exclaimed, raising the possibility of miscommunication with his MWR spotter. 42. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet , HScott Motorsports . Annett's car sputtered down on the apron in the 63rd lap, leading him to radio his crew: "Something rattling around in the drivetrain. … It's in gear and nothing gets power to it." Once in the garage, crew chief Jay Guy issued a warning to the No. 46 crew: "The gear is burned up. Do not expose it to air, it will catch on fire." Annett eventually returned to the track, finishing 110 laps down. " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 43. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet , Hendrick Motorsports . A blown right-rear tire sent Earnhardt's car careening into the Turn 2 wall, severely damaging the rear end and snapping his streak of three top-five finishes to start the season. Earnhardt was uninjured and was at least able to joke about the situation, which happened suddenly in the 182nd lap. "They never tell you they are going to blow out, never," he said with a laugh. "You don't ever have a warning." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule