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Member of the Month: September
Name: Eric Hometown: Lakeland, Florida Current City: South Riding, Virginia (currently deployed in Afghanistan) Member since: 2016 Getting to know ERIC Q. Why did you join the Official NASCAR Fan Council? "I wanted to participate in the NASCAR Fan Council since it provides the fans an active voice and engagement directly with the sanctioning body, as they try to ensure the quality of competition is always top-notch." Q. How did you first become interested in NASCAR? "My grandfather raced in the 1950s at short tracks throughout South Florida, and I was the first-born grandson. Naturally, when I was old enough, it was straight to karts and we would spend Saturday nights at our local tracks, and Sunday was watching or attending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races." Q. What makes NASCAR special for you? "To me, it's the camaraderie and competition in the garage among the teams. There is nothing greater than cars racing into Turn 1 every week. The personalities, and being able to relate to them, is what makes NASCAR great -- the never-give-up attitudes, and the underdog story we all pull for every week." Q: Do you have any favorite NASCAR memories or traditions? "I have many fond memories at the racetrack. The 1998 Pepsi 400 at Daytona, which was delayed due to the wildfires. I had the opportunity to meet Dave Marcis and spend several minutes talking with him about how far the sport had come at that time. The 2012 spring race at Bristol Motor Speedway , I had the opportunity to stand in the bed of the truck during the parade lap at driver introductions with Kyle Busch and Marcos Ambrose . By far, my most favorite memory was being able to talk with NASCAR Hall of Fame Driver Bobby Allison about races in the 1950s at Medley Speedway, Key West and other locations in South Florida. My wife (who wasn't a fan until her first race at Bristol in 2012) and I make a point to attend Richmond and Martinsville for both races every year, because of the hospitality Dennis Bickmeier and Clay Campbell provide to the fans!" Q: Do you have a favorite in any of the following categories? Tracks: "Martinsville and Watkins Glen" Q: If you could go to any NASCAR race/track, where would you go? " Sonoma and Talladega" Q: What do you like to do in your free time? "I love spending my time at racetracks. I race Legend cars on ovals and road courses throughout the mid-Atlantic, and when I'm not doing that I'm a spotter in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for David Polenz at Dominion Raceway in Virginia." Q: Tell us about your family. Do you have children and/or pets? "My wife, Christine, and I have been married for two years. We don't have kids yet, but we do have a beagle, Max, and a basset hound, Sadie Belle." Q: What’s your dream car? "A McLaren 650S, but I'm trying to convince my wife the new Corvettes are practical." From all of us at NASCAR, we thank Eric for his continued support and look forward to hearing from him in 2016.
Part 3: The Intimidator's Day at Talladega
MORE: READ PART 1 HERE " READ PART 2 HERE The Race "Historically, just the mere mention of the word 'Talladega' has been enough to give the drivers chills and the fans thrills." -- Dr. Jerry Punch, ESPN pre-race, Oct. 15, 2001. ESPN's pre-race show wrapped, having covered the major stories entering the race: the restrictor-plate change, Hamlin's injury and the championship race. Once the green flag flew, few clear favorites emerged. Pole winner Joe Nemechek was shuffled back at the start and failed to lead any of the 188 laps; 59-year-old Dave Marcis jumped up to lead Lap 2, the final lap that he led in his 35-year career; and 21 drivers set the pace for at least one lap. But four drivers -- Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Bill Elliott and Jeff Gordon -- spent the most time out front, each leading more than 25 laps. The thrills lived up to their billing, even as drivers became more familiar with the race's aerodynamic traits. Dale Jarrett: We were all learning as we went along and it made for great racing, entertaining. I really quite honestly don't know why we didn't do more of it. Helton: It's a typical 500-mile superspeedway race where early in the day, particularly with something new like that package, you'd see drivers -- I wouldn't call it experimenting -- but getting used to it and figuring out what they could do later in the day. And then in the middle, it settles down and then toward the end, it picks back up and everybody starts moving around, but the best I remember from that race that year, it never stopped. Punch: I think I made some comment, 'I don't know why they sold tickets, sold seats that day at Talladega because no one has used them. They've been standing since they waved the green flag. That's how good it is.' Dave Marcis (owner/driver, Marcis Auto Racing No. 71 Chevrolet): I remember running up front that day a little bit. I think I remember Tony Stewart was running second at that one time when I got the lead. I got by Tony and really was clear. I should have gone down and blocked that inside lane when I got by him, but I didn't and then he got a push from some other people and he got back by me. Elliott: My biggest goal was to get to the end of the race, regardless of what you had to do. The problem back then was you had so many guys that were like the bull in the china closet syndrome that thought it was the last lap just 10 laps into the race. You just had to deal with it. Lawrence: I remember that day, (Earnhardt) said, 'My car's really fast, it just won't lead.' So I think his whole plan was the whole time to do exactly what he did, to kind of ride around then and then take the lead right at the last. … He had a plan, I guess you could say. With the jumble for positions in full swing, several drivers spent the early stages trying to steer clear of the fray up front. It marked one of the earliest uses of a strategy that's now fairly common at Talladega -- running at the back. Jeff Burton: I remember having that conversation with Rusty saying, 'Hey look, I think I'm gonna go ride around in the back,' and Rusty saying, 'Hell no. You can't do that. That's crazy.' But, again, the whole thing about the closing rate was so fast. There were a lot of things going on that me and many other people believed there was gonna be a big wreck and just try to stay the hell out of it. Rusty Wallace: I'm not the type of guy nowadays and late in my career where I would want to go to the back. I don't like that. I've watched it many times and seen 'em wreck in the back, the middle and up front. And so going to the back, to me, doesn't make a lot of sense. McReynolds: That's one thing (Earnhardt and Skinner) did have in common -- they never believed in laying back. Their goal was to go up there and lead every lap that they possibly could. I know when I worked with Dale I would always try to encourage him in practice at Daytona or Talladega, 'Hey, how about getting back in the pack a little bit. Let's see what this car will do in a pack.' And his response was, 'Nope, because I don't plan on being back there.'
NASCAR.com's Holly Cain wins NMPA Spirit Award
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Veteran motorsports writer Holly Cain has been chosen as the recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association’s annual Spirit Award for 2015. A resident of Lakeland, Fla., Cain has covered motorsports for more than 25 years during which time she has worked for numerous publications, including the Tampa Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer as well as AOL.com and FOXSports.com. Currently a senior writer for NASCAR.com, she has been recognized for her reporting on multiple occasions, earning awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) as well as the NMPA. Diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2014, Cain has shown tremendous courage and an incredibly positive attitude while engaged in her difficult battle. She has been a long-time supporter of the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and continues to participate in fundraising and other efforts to bring awareness to the fight against breast cancer. The NMPA Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Each year, the NMPA membership selects four quarterly winners, with an overall winner chosen from the four candidates. Cain was the second quarter recipient of the award. Others recognized with quarterly awards this past year were NASCAR television broadcaster Steve Byrnes (first quarter), IndyCar driver Justin Wilson (third quarter) and four-time premier series champion Jeff Gordon . Cain was presented the award Jan. 17 during the NMPA’s annual convention and awards dinner in Concord, N.C. Overall winners of the NMPA Spirit Award: Year – Recipient 2015 – Holly Cain 2014 – Lynda Petty 2013 – Marcy Scott 2012 – Andy Hillenburg 2011 – Jeff Gordon 2010 – Jim Hunter 2009 – David Poole 2008 – T. Taylor Warren 2007 – Bill France Jr. 2006 – Benny Parsons 2005 – Morgan Shepherd 2004 – Kyle and Pattie Petty 2003 – Bob Latford 2002 – Larry Hicks 2001 – Ricky Craven 2000 – Kyle Petty 1999 – Clay Earles 1998 – Mark Martin 1997 – Dave Marcis 1996 – Dale Earnhardt 1995 – Ernie Irvan 1994 – Ernie Irvan 1993 – Davey Allison and Alan Kulwicki 1992 – Davey Allison Family
Get caught up quickly before the GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize What: 46th annual GEICO 500 Where: Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, Alabama When: Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014 TV/Radio: ESPN, Motor Racing Network Time: 2:00 p.m. ET Distance: 188 laps (500.08 miles) Pit road speed: 55 mph Caution car speed: 70 mph On the front row " Starting lineup 1. Brian Vickers , Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 Toyota (196.129 mph) 2. Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (195.732 mph) Failed to qualify Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ( Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford); Justin Allgaier (HScott Motorsports No. 51 Chevrolet); Joe Nemechek (RAB Racing No. 29 Toyota) To the rear Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski will drop to the rear of the field prior to the start of today's race. Kenseth's Joe Gibbs Racing team changed engines in the No. 20 Toyota Saturday morning while Keselowski's Team Penske group made an alternator change before qualifying. Kenseth qualified 13th while Keselowski was fifth fastest. Going out in style Two-time NASCAR premier series champion Terry Labonte will make his final Sprint Cup start today, driving the No. 32 Ford fielded by Go FAS Racing. It will be the 61st start at Talladega for Labonte, tying the mark currently held by Dave Marcis , and Labonte’s 890th career Cup start. The decklid of the car features artwork depicting his first Cup entry, as well as the two in which he won championships in '84 and '96. Fastest in practice First Practice: Clint Bowyer , Michael Waltrip Racing No. 15 Toyota (200.385 mph) Final Practice: Kyle Busch , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (195.205 mph) Defending GEICO 500 Champion Jamie McMurray , Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet Driver rating (Best driver rating average at Talladega Superspeedway based on past nine years) Kyle Larson , Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet (94.8*) Matt Kenseth , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota (90.9) Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Hendrick Motorsports No 88 Chevrolet (90.3) *Based on one career start Former Talladega winners in the field Jeff Gordon (6); Dale Earnhardt Jr . (5); Clint Bowyer , Jimmie Johnson , Terry Labonte , Jamie McMurray , Brad Keselowski (2); David Ragan , Tony Stewart , Brian Vickers , Michael Waltrip , Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin (1). MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Stats advance: Analyzing the Daytona 500
Breaking down the numbers ahead of the season-opening race Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.-- Below is a statistical look at some of the top performers at Daytona International Speedway, including both the Daytona 500 and the annual July race. Daytona International Speedway Data Race #: 1 of 36 (2-22-15) Track Size : 2.5 miles Race Length: 500 miles (200 laps) Banking/Corners : 31 degrees Banking/Straights : 3 degrees Banking/Tri-Oval : 18 degrees Top 10 Driver Ratings at Daytona Kyle Busch 96.2 Matt Kenseth 91.6 Kurt Busch 90.5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 90.3 Tony Stewart 87.9 Jeff Gordon 87.1 Jimmie Johnson 87.0 Denny Hamlin 86.4 Clint Bowyer 83.7 Joey Logano 82.5 Note: Driver Ratings are compiled from 2005-2014 races (18 total) at Daytona (active drivers only). Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Austin Dillon (196.019 mph, 45.914 seconds) 2014 race winner : Dale Earnhardt Jr. (145.290 mph , 2-23-14) Qualifying record : Bill Elliott (210.364 mph, 42.783 secs. 2-9-87) Race record : Buddy Baker (177.602 mph, 2-17-80) Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota) · Three top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 15.9 · Driver Rating of 83.7, ninth-best · 78 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.828 mph, second-fastest Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · 11 top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 17.5 · Average Running Position of 15.8, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 90.5, third-best · 3,864 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · 2,161 Laps in the Top 15 (60.9%), fifth-most · 2,724 Quality Passes, third-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Crispy Toyota) · One win, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 19.1 · Series-best Average Running Position of 12.8 · Series-best Driver Rating of 96.2 · 85 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.827 mph, third-fastest · Series-high 2,488 Laps in the Top 15 (70.1%) · Series-high 2,869 Quality Passes Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) · Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.4 · Average Running Position of 14.6, third-best · Driver Rating of 90.3, fourth-best · Series-high 87 Fastest Laps Run · 4,108 Green Flag Passes, second-most · 2,279 Laps in the Top 15 (64.2%), second-most · 2,772 Quality Passes, second-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet) · Six wins, 13 top fives, 20 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 16.2 · Average Running Position of 14.8, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 87.1, sixth-best · 3,818 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · 2,074 Laps in the Top 15 (58.4%), sixth-most · 2,407 Quality Passes, ninth-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) · Three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 19.6 · Average Running Position of 15.8, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 86.4, eighth-best · 81 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.765 mph, sixth-fastest · 1,703 Laps in the Top 15 (53.5%), 12th-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Three wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 18.0 · Average Running Position of 14.9, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 87.0, seventh-best · 2,214 Laps in the Top 15 (62.4%), fourth-most · 2,425 Quality Passes, eighth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet) · Two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 19.9 · Average Running Position of 17.0, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 82.2, 12th-best · 71 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · 4,093 Green Flag Passes, third-most · 1,818 Laps in the Top 15 (51.2%), 10th-most · 2,446 Quality Passes, seventh-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Two wins, six top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.2 · Average Running Position of 14.4, second-best · Driver Rating of 91.6, second-best · 78 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 2,247 Laps in the Top 15 (63.3%), third-most · 2,473 Quality Passes, sixth-most Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Two top fives, three top 10s · Average finish of 19.8 · Average Running Position of 17.5, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 82.5, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.750 mph, seventh-fastest Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) · Four wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.8 · Average Running Position of 17.4, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 87.9, fifth-best · 76 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 1,917 Laps in the Top 15 (54.0%), seventh-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final 2014 Top 16 at Daytona International Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 27 1 2 6 11 3 16.7 79.9 2 Ryan Newman 26 0 1 4 6 5 20.3 79.6 3 Denny Hamlin 18 0 0 3 4 1 19.6 86.4 4 Joey Logano 12 0 0 2 3 2 19.8 82.5 5 Brad Keselowski 11 0 0 2 3 3 20.0 75.4 6 Jeff Gordon 44 3 6 13 20 6 16.2 87.1 7 Matt Kenseth 30 1 2 6 14 5 17.2 91.6 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 30 1 3 11 17 3 13.4 90.3 9 Carl Edwards 20 1 0 4 8 2 19.1 79.8 10 Kyle Busch 20 1 1 5 6 5 19.1 96.2 11 Jimmie Johnson 26 2 3 9 12 6 18.0 87.0 12 Kurt Busch 28 0 0 11 14 1 17.5 90.5 13 AJ Allmendinger 11 0 0 1 2 2 26.3 61.1 14 Greg Biffle 24 1 1 3 7 3 19.6 81.3 15 Kasey Kahne 22 0 0 2 7 5 19.9 82.2 16 Aric Almirola 7 0 1 1 1 3 24.7 72.9 Note: Driver Rating from races at Daytona International Speedway from 2005-2014. Daytona 500 Tidbits · The 2015 edition will be the 57th running of the Daytona 500. · Although the first Daytona 500 was held in 1959, it has been the season-opener only since 1982. · 530 drivers have competed in at least one Daytona 500; 314 in more than one. · 35 drivers have won a Daytona 500. · Youngest Daytona 500 winner: Trevor Bayne (02/20/2011 - 20 years, 0 months, 1 days) · Oldest Daytona 500 winner: Bobby Allison (02/14/1988 - 50 years, 2 months, 11 days) · 11 drivers have won more than one Daytona 500, led by Richard Petty with seven victories. · The 11 drivers who have won the Daytona 500 more than once: Richard Petty (seven), Cale Yarborough (four), Bobby Allison (three), Dale Jarrett (three), Jeff Gordon (three), Bill Elliott (two), Matt Kenseth (two), Jimmie Johnson (two), Sterling Marlin (two), Michael Waltrip (two) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (two). · A driver has won back-to-back Daytona 500s three times. Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95). · Seven drivers posted their career-first victory with a win in the Daytona 500: Tiny Lund (1963), Mario Andretti (1967), Pete Hamilton (1970), Derrike Cope (1990), Sterling Marlin (1994), Michael Waltrip (2001) and Trevor Bayne (2011). · Three other drivers posted their career-first victory in (points-paying) qualifying races: Johnny Rutherford (1963), Bobby Isaac (1964) and Earl Balmer (1966). · Lee Petty, who won the inaugural Daytona 500, and Trevor Bayne, 2011 Daytona 500 champion, are the only two drivers to win the Daytona 500 in their first appearance. · Active Daytona 500 winners and the number of NSCS starts in their careers when they won: o Jeff Gordon won his first Daytona 500 on his 125 th career start (1997). His second Daytona 500 win was on his 190 th career start (1999) and the third Daytona 500 was on his 402 nd career start (2005). o Jimmie Johnson won his first on his 148 th (2006) start and posted his second Daytona 500 win on his 400 th career start (2013). o Matt Kenseth won his first on his 329 th start (2009) and his second Daytona 500 on his 437 th career start (2012). o Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his first Daytona 500 on 148 th start (2004) and his second on his 506 th (2014). o Kevin Harvick posted his Daytona 500 win on his 215 th career start (2007). o Ryan Newman posted his Daytona 500 win on his 225 th career start (2008). o Jamie McMurray posted his Daytona 500 win on his 259 th career start (2011). o Michael Waltrip won his first on his 463 rd start (2001) and posted his second Daytona 500 win on his 535 th career start (2003). · Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes in the Daytona 500 with five; Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers with four (Earnhardt Jr. is tied with NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough for second all-time with four). · Dale Earnhardt had 12 top fives in his 23 Daytona 500 starts, more than any other driver. Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers in Daytona 500 top-five finishes with seven (eighth most all-time). · Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty each posted a series leading 16 top 10s in the Daytona 500. · Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip lead all active drivers in Daytona 500 top-10 finishes with nine. · Only 10 drivers have an average finish of 10th or better in the Daytona 500, five of those competed in the Daytona 500 only once. · Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a 12.7 average finish in 15 appearances, the best of the active drivers who have competed in more than one Daytona 500. · 28 of the 35 drivers, who have won, participated in at least two Daytona 500s before visiting Victory Lane. · Six drivers made 10 or more attempts before their first Daytona 500 victory: Dale Earnhardt (19), Buddy Baker (18), Darrell Waltrip (16), Bobby Allison (14), Michael Waltrip (14) and Sterling Marlin (12). · The driver with the all-time most Daytona 500 starts without a victory is Dave Marcis with 33 races; the active drivers with the most starts without a Daytona 500 win is Joe Nemechek (19) and Tony Stewart (16). · Kevin Harvick’s 0.020-second margin of victory over Mark Martin in the 2007 Daytona 500 is the 12th-closest overall since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993, and the closest in a Daytona 500. · Nine of the 56 Daytona 500s (16.3%) have been won from the Coors Light pole. The last to do so was Dale Jarrett in 2000. Jeff Gordon is the only active driver to accomplish the feat (1999). · Cale Yarborough (1968, 1984) and Bill Elliott (1985, 1987) are the only two drivers to win the Daytona 500 from the Coors Light pole more than once. · 16 of the 56 Daytona 500s (28.5%) have been won from the front row. · 27 of the 56 Daytona 500s (48.2%) have been won from a top-five starting position. · 41 of the 56 Daytona 500s (73.2%) have been won from a top 10 starting position · Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 from the 39th starting position in 2009, the deepest a race winner has started. · Five reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions have gone on to win the Daytona 500 the following season: Lee Petty (1959), Richard Petty (1973), Cale Yarborough (1977), Jeff Gordon (1999) and Dale Jarrett (2000). · Five drivers have won the Daytona 500 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in the same season, Richard Petty has done it four times: Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2013), Jeff Gordon (1997), Richard Petty (1964, 1971, 1974, 1979), Cale Yarborough (1977) and Lee Petty (1959). · Danica Patrick on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2013 became the first female in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history to win a Coors Light pole for the Daytona 500 posting a speed of 196.434 mph. · Janet Guthrie previously held the record for top starting position by a female NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, starting ninth twice in 1977 - at Talladega Superspeedway on Aug. 7, 1977 and at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 28, 1977. · In 2012, Danica Patrick became the third female driver to compete in a Daytona 500 joining Janet Guthrie and Shawna Robinson. Below are the previous female driver performances in the Daytona 500. Race Season Driver Start Finish Daytona 500 1977 Janet Guthrie 39 12 Daytona 500 1980 Janet Guthrie 18 11 Daytona 500 2002 Shawna Robinson 36 24 Daytona 500 2012 Danica Patrick 29 38 Daytona 500 2013 Danica Patrick 1 8 Daytona 500 2014 Danica Patrick 27 40 · Driver Ratings for Winners – Pre-Race Daytona 500 Driver Ratings heading into 2014 for past Daytona 500 winners (past 7 years) Driver – Year – Driver Rating o Dale Earnhardt Jr – 2014 – 89.7 o Jimmie Johnson – 2013 – 82.8 o Matt Kenseth – 2012 – 89.0 o Trevor Bayne – 2011 – 68.9 o Jamie McMurray – 2010 – 80.2 o Matt Kenseth – 2009 – 89.0 o Ryan Newman – 2008 – 82.9 o Kevin Harvick – 2007 – 86.3 o Jimmie Johnson – 2006 – 87.5 · Drivers who have won the Daytona 500 in more than one car manufacturer: Driver – Manufacturer (Number of wins in that manufacturer) o Richard Petty – Plymouth (3), Dodge (2), Oldsmobile (1) and Buick (1) o Cale Yarborough – Chevrolet (2), Mercury (1) and Pontiac (1) o Bobby Allison – Buick (2) and Ford (1) o Dale Jarrett – Ford (2) and Chevrolet (1) · Drivers who have won The Sprint Unlimited and the Daytona 500 in the same season: Driver – (Year) o Bobby Allison (1982) o Bill Elliott (1987) o Dale Jarrett (1996 and 2000) o Jeff Gordon (1997) Car Numbers that have produced three or more Daytona 500 victories: Car Number – Drivers – (Years) o No. 43 – Richard Petty (1964, ’66, ’71, ’73, ’74, ’79, ‘81) o No. 21 – Tiny Lund (1963), Cale Yarborough (1968), A.J. Foyt (1972), David Pearson (1976) and Trevor Bayne (2011) o No. 28 – Fred Lorenzen (1965), Buddy Baker (1980), Cale Yarborough (1983 and 1984) and Davey Allison (1992) o No. 4 – Ernie Irvan (1991), Sterling Marlin (1994 and 1995) o No. 15 – Bobby Allison (1978), Michael Waltrip (2001 and 2003) o No. 17 – Darrell Waltrip (1989), Matt Kenseth (2009 and 2012) o No. 88 – Bobby Allison (1982), Dale Jarrett (1996 and 2000) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2014) o No. 24 – Jeff Gordon (1997, 1999 and 2005) At Daytona International Speedway History · Groundbreaking for Daytona International Speedway was Nov. 25, 1957. The soil underneath the banked corners was dug from the infield of the track and the hole filled with water. It is now known as Lake Lloyd. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona was a 100-mile qualifying race for
Former NASCAR driver Jim Sauter dies at 71
Father of Johnny Sauter made 76 career starts in premier series Jim Sauter, a racer and father of four drivers including NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Johnny Sauter , died on Friday night shortly before the conclusion of the Truck event at Texas Motor Speedway , according to ThorSport Racing. He was 71. Sauter competed in 82 NASCAR national series races from 1980 to 2004, including 76 premier series starts. The native of Necedah, Wisconsin, made his final NASCAR Nationwide Series start at the Milwaukee Mile in 2002, racing against his sons Jay, Johnny and Tim. Jim Jr. followed in his father's footsteps as well. In addition to these four sons, Sauter is survived by his wife, Debbie, eight additional children, 51 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and two sisters. A two-time champion in the ARTGO Racing Series in the Midwest, Sauter tested International Race of Champions cars with fellow Wisconsin racers Dave Marcis and Dick Trickle. His son, Johnny, learned of his father's passing following Friday's Winstar World Casino & Resort 350. His lone win of 2014 came at Michigan International Speedway , and he acknowledged it was a special victory in his post-race comments that recalled his dad's recollections of the track. "I'm just going to relish in this win because this has been a tough, tough race track for me throughout my career," Johnny said. "My Dad always said, 'That place is easy.' But, I never felt that way. Until today, I mean when you have a truck like this -- it was just awesome." NASCAR issued the following statement on Jim Sauter's passing: "NASCAR offers its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jim Sauter. A true racer, Jim passed on his passion and competitive spirit to his children and grandchildren. A driver himself with roots in the Midwest, his reach and impact extend across the entire sport." The racing community expressed condolences on social media with a sample included below from Sauter's former competitor Mark Martin ; fellow Wisconsin racer Roy Kenseth, father of Matt; crew chief and former IROC chassis specialist Ray Evernham and NASCAR Senior Vice President, Racing Operations Jim Cassidy. Sorry to hear Jim Sauter died. He was a really good man and a great racer. — Mark Martin (@markmartin) November 1, 2014 Thoughts and prayers go out to the Jim Sauter family today. pic.twitter.com/ydHNAQcXQT — Roy Kenseth (@roykenseth) November 1, 2014 Really sorry to hear about passing of Jim Sauter. Worked with him for many years at IROC. Crew chiefed for him at Pocono 1990 #RIP — ray evernham (@RayEvernham) November 1, 2014 Thinking about the Sauter family. Jim Sauter's contribution to stock car racing and NASCAR will be felt for many generations. Good man. — Jim Cassidy (@jfcassidy) November 1, 2014 MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Stats advance: Analyzing the GEICO 500
A statistical look ahead to the final race of the Contender Round RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Below is a look at the 12 Chase Contenders – and beyond – at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama going into the GEICO 500 on October 19 (2 p.m. ET on ESPN). TALLADEGA-SPECIFIC STATISTICS 1 - Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 107.2 2014 Rundown · Five wins, 15 top fives, 20 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.5 · Led 20 races for 916 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · Two top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 20.7 in 11 races · Average Running Position of 16.5, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 81.7, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 193.205 mph, 10th-fastest 2 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 91.9 2014 Rundown · One win, eight top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 16.3 · Led 15 races for 453 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · One win, four top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 21.4 in 19 races · Average Running Position of 18.8, 19th-best · Driver Rating of 81.1, 13th-best · 88 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 6,094 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · 1,782 Laps in the Top 15 (49.3%), sixth-most · 3,705 Quality Passes, sixth-most 3 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 110.2 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 11 top fives, 16 top 10s; eight poles · Average finish of 13.5 · Led 23 races for 1,815 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · One win, six top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.9 in 27 races · Average Running Position of 18.9, 21st-best · Driver Rating of 78.0, 21st-best · 80 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · 6,423 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most · 1,594 Laps in the Top 15 (44.1%), 10th-most · 3,382 Quality Passes, ninth-most 4 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.9 2014 Rundown · Two top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 13.5 · Led 6 races for 31 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · Four top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 21.5 in 25 races · Average Running Position of 22.2, 34th-best · Driver Rating of 69.1, 30th-best 5 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Subway Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 82.8 2014 Rundown · Two wins, seven top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 14.3 · Led 11 races for 135 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · Two top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 21.1 in 20 races · Average Running Position of 23.7, 40th-best · Driver Rating of 67.3, 32nd-best · 77 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most 6 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 110.3 2014 Rundown · Four wins, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 9.8 · Led 22 races for 740 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · Six wins, 15 top fives, 19 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 16.7 in 43 races · Average Running Position of 18.9, 20th-best · Driver Rating of 80.6, 15th-best · 1,644 Laps in the Top 15 (45.5%), ninth-most 7 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx One Rate/Deliverminator Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.9 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 15.0 · Led 13 races for 217 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · One win, four top fives, six top 10s · Average finish of 19.1 in 17 races · Average Running Position of 17.7, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 83.1, ninth-best · 70 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 5,604 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most · 1,543 Laps in the Top 15 (47.8%), 11th-most · 3,443 Quality Passes, eighth-most 8 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.6 2014 Rundown · One win, three top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 16.5 · Led 11 races for 206 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · Three top fives, five top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 21.5 in 21 races · Average Running Position of 21.7, 32nd-best · Driver Rating of 70.0, 29th-best · 5,877 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · 3,170 Quality Passes, 12th-most 9 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 92.2 2014 Rundown · 11 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.9 · Led 17 races for 467 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · One win, five top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 18.3 in 29 races · Series-best Average Running Position of 14.0 · Driver Rating of 90.9, second-best · 6,129 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · Series-high 2,361 Laps in the Top 15 (65.4%) · 4,531 Quality Passes, third-most 10 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Wicked Apple Ale Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 103.9 2014 Rundown · Five wins, 13 top fives, 16 top 10s; five poles · Average finish of 13.3 · Led 25 races for 1,506 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · Two wins, three top fives, six top 10s · Average finish of 16.4 in 11 races · Average Running Position of 20.1, 24th-best · Driver Rating of 79.7, 17th-best 11 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 98.6 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14.4 · Led 15 races for 1,035 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · Two wins, six top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.2 in 25 races · Average Running Position of 16.6, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 85.9, seventh-best · 1,881 Laps in the Top 15 (52.1%), fifth-most · 3,768 Quality Passes, fifth-most 12 - Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 96.6 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s · Average finish of 12.2 · Led 14 races for 269 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · Five wins, 10 top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 15.0 in 29 races · Average Running Position of 14.8, third-best · Driver Rating of 90.3, third-best · 78 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 6,487 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 193.225 mph, ninth-fastest · 2,155 Laps in the Top 15 (59.7%), third-most · 4,160 Quality Passes, fourth-most 13 - AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.8 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 20.1 · Led 5 races for 68 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · One top five, one top 10 · Average finish of 23.4 in nine races · Average Running Position of 24.1, 44th-best · Driver Rating of 61.5, 42nd-best 14 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 79.0 2014 Rundown · Three top fives, 10 top 10s · Average finish of 15.8 · Led 6 races for 109 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · Three top fives, six top 10s · Average finish of 18.7 in 23 races · Average Running Position of 20.3, 25th-best · Driver Rating of 76.8, 22nd-best · 74 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most 15 - Kurt Busch (No. 41 HAAS Automation Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.7 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 19.8 · Led 12 races for 183 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · Six top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 17.3 in 27 races · Average Running Position of 14.9, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 87.1, fifth-best · 7,181 Green Flag Passes, second-most · 2,262 Laps in the Top 15 (62.6%), second-most · Series-high 4,905 Quality Passes 16 - Aric Almirola (No. 43 Smithfield Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 72.9 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 21.0 · Led 5 races for 23 laps Talladega Superspeedway Outlook: · One top 10 · Average finish of 19.1 in nine races · Average Running Position of 18.6, 17th-best · Driver Rating of 81.7, 12th-best The 12 Contenders at Talladega Superspeedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Joey Logano 11 0 0 2 4 4 20.7 81.7 2 Kyle Busch 19 0 1 4 5 5 21.4 81.1 3 Kevin Harvick 27 1 1 6 11 2 15.9 78.0 4 Ryan Newman 25 0 0 4 9 8 21.5 69.1 5 Carl Edwards 20 0 0 2 5 6 21.1 67.3 6 Jeff Gordon 43 3 6 15 19 9 16.7 80.6 7 Denny Hamlin 17 0 1 4 6 3 19.1 83.1 8 Kasey Kahne 21 1 0 3 5 3 21.5 70.0 9 Matt Kenseth 29 0 1 5 9 4 18.3 90.9 10 Brad Keselowski 11 0 2 3 6 1 16.4 79.7 11 Jimmie Johnson 25 1 2 6 10 8 17.2 85.9 12 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 29 0 5 10 14 5 15.0 90.3 * – Based on last 19 races at Talladega Superspeedway (2005 – 2014). Talladega Superspeedway: History · Construction began on what was then known as the Alabama International Motor Speedway on May 23, 1968. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on Sept. 14, 1969 – won by Richard Brickhouse . · The name changed to Talladega Superspeedway in 1989. · Fourth repaving completed on Sept. 19, 2006. Notebook · There have been 90 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway , one NSCS event in 1969 and two races per year since 1970. · Talladega Superspeedway is tied with Michigan International Speedway for holding the ninth most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points paying races (90). · 438 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega; 299 in more than one. · Dave Marcis leads the series in starts at Talladega with 61. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 43 starts; followed by Joe Nemechek with 38. · Bobby Isaac won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Talladega in 1969 with a speed of 199.466 mph. Isaac won the first three poles at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. · 37 drivers have Coors Light poles at Talladega, led by Bill Elliott with eight. Joe Nemechek leads all active drivers with four; followed by Jeff Gordon with three. · 10 drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Talladega. Bill Elliott holds the record for most consecutive poles at Talladega with six (1985 - 1987). · Youngest Talladega pole winner: Brian Scott (05/04/2014 – 26 years, 3 months, 22 days). · Oldest Talladega pole winner: Mark Martin (10/23/2011 – 52 years, 9 months, 14 days). · 44 different drivers have won at Talladega Superspeedway , led by Dale Earnhardt with 10. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with six. · Richard Childress Racing has the most wins at Talladega in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 12; followed by Hendrick Motorsports with 11. · Nine different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Talladega; led by Chevrolet with 39 victories; followed by Ford with 20 and Toyota with three. · 13 of the 90 (14.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega have been won from the Coors Light pole. Jeff Gordon (2007) is the only active driver to be able to accomplish the feat. · The outside front row (second-place) starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting position at Talladega. · 33 of the 90 (36.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega have been won from the front row: 13 from the pole and 20 from second-place. · 62 of the 90 (68.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Talladega have been won from a top-10 starting position. · 8 of the 90 (8.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Talladega was 36th, by Jeff Gordon in the spring of 2000. · Youngest Talladega winner: Bobby Hillin Jr. (07/27/1986 – 22 years, 1 month, 22 days). · Oldest Talladega winner: Harry Gant (05/06/1991 – 51 years, 3 months, 26 days). · Buddy Baker and Tony Stewart are tied for the series’ most runner-up finishes at Talladega with six each. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in top-five finishes at Talladega with 23. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 15. · Dale Earnhardt leads the series in top-10 finishes at Talladega with 27. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 19. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Talladega with a 10.520. · Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Talladega with a 15.000. · There have been seven NSCS races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Talladega Superspeedway : spring of 2005 (188/194), fall of 2005 (188/190), spring of 2007 (188/192), fall of 2008 (188/190) spring of 2010 (188/200), fall of 2012 (188/189) and spring of 2013 (188/192). · Only two of the 90 races at Talladega Superspeedway have been shortened due to weather conditions: spring of 1987 and fall of 1996. · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway five times; most recently fall of 2013. · Jamie McMurray (10/06/2002) made his series debut at Talladega Superspeedway . · Brian Scott (05/04/2014), David Gilliland (10/08/2006) and Travis Kvapil (10/05/2008) posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Talladega. · 2012 series champion Brad Keselowski (04/26/2009) and Brian Vickers (10/08/2006) posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins at Talladega. · Nine drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series have posted consecutive wins at Talladega; Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the series in consecutive wins at Talladega after posting four straight from the fall of 2001 – 2003. · Brad Keselowski is the only active series driver to win at Talladega in his first appearance. · Matt Kenseth competed at Talladega Superspeedway 25 times before winning the fall of 2012; the longest span of any the 12 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Matt Kenseth (25), Tony Stewart (19), Kevin Harvick (18), and David Ragan (12) all made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Talladega. · Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Talladega without visiting Victory Lane at 38; followed by Kurt Busch with 27. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway was the (04/17/2011) race won by Jimmie Johnson with a MOV of 0.002 second – the MOV is tied with the 2003 Darlington race as the closest finishes in the NSCS using electronic scoring. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Talladega with 844 laps led in 43 starts. · Three female drivers have competed at Talladega in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie, Patty Moise and Danica Patrick. Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 7 22 5/4/2014 Danica Patrick 23 33 10/20/2013 Danica Patrick 23 33 5/5/2013 Patty Moise 36 33 7/30/1989 Janet Guthrie 12 29 8/6/1978 Janet Guthrie 9 34 8/7/1977 Janet Guthrie 13 32 5/1/1977 NASCAR in Alabama · There have been 109 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among seven different tracks in Alabama. Track Name City NSCS Talladega Superspeedway Talladega 90 Birmingham International Raceway Birmingham 8 Montgomery Motor Speedway Montgomery 6 Lakeview Speedway Mobile 2 Chisholm Speedway Montgomery 1 Dixie Speedway Birmingham 1 Huntsville Speedway Huntsville 1 · 70 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Alabama. · Nine drivers from Alabama have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series; five have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Bobby Allison 84 2 0 Davey Allison 19 0 0 Neil Bonnett 18 1 0 Donnie Allison 10 0 0 Red Byron 2 0 0 Steve Grissom 0 11 0 Rick Crawford 0 0 5 Darrell Wallace Jr 0 0 3 Cale Gale 0 0 1 MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceVie FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Johnson reflects on first career win at home track
Jimmie Johnson reflects on his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win, which came at his home track of Auto Club Speedway in 2002.
Dave Rogers says no 'team orders' at JGR
Dave Rogers, crew chief for the No. 19 Toyota, says on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there have never been 'team orders' given at Joe Gibbs Racing.
Erik Jones on late father: 'I definitely think he's proud'
BUY TICKETS: See the races in Las Vegas LAS VEGAS -- Erik Jones stood on pit road at Daytona International Speedway in February with his family. The warm Florida sun shone brightly as Jordin Sparks sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and drivers prepped for the "Great American Race" with hugs from loved ones and well wishes. It was a special moment for Jones, making his debut as full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver. But he was missing someone. His late father, Dave Jones. "I definitely thought about him out at Daytona, standing out at pit road," Jones shared at a roundtable discussion with media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday. "I wish he could have been there to take it all in. It was a pretty cool moment for my family and I, but (we) definitely knew that he was watching down." Jones' father passed away on June 7, 2016, after a battle with lung cancer that had spread to his brain. He was 53 years old. The loss understandably stung the younger Jones, and was something he hadn't been able to discuss up until recently. His father's diagnosis was unexpected, a trip to the doctor that went south very quickly. Jones vividly remembers receiving that phone call that no one ever wants to answer. "He had lost feeling in his arm one day and went to the doctor and thought he had a pinched nerve or something," Jones recalled. "And they found the cancer and gave him around a year to live with treatment. "That's pretty hard news to take any time, but by April (2016), we'd seen some X-Rays and they'd really never seen it progress that quickly. It went from being, he was fine and we weren't going to be able to cure it but we were going to be able to maintain it and manage life with treatment, and all of a sudden that kind of deteriorated and he was in and out of the hospital." But Dave Jones' passing in June was more than the loss of his father for Erik. It was the loss of an adviser, a supporter. His best friend. "I was pretty holed up in my house," Jones said. "Didn't go anywhere, I didn't want to talk about it to anybody. Most of my friends for a month didn't even know he was sick. Slowly started to tell more people and kind of talk about it as time went on. But it wasn't something I shared with many people or talked about it at all." Today is the first time he's talked about his father in length with others outside his family. It feels good, he says. That it's important to tell his story. "I looked up to him so much for so many years," Jones said. "He was really my best friend, I didn't think of anybody that I felt closer with or felt that I could share more with at any time, so it's nice to talk about him." • • • Days after his father's passing, Jones was scheduled to visit his home track -- Michigan International Speedway -- to compete in the XFINITY Series' Menards 250. He could have sat out. His crew would have understood, and he likely would have been OK in the points standings. But Jones felt like he had to race. For his father. "It almost seemed so surreal at the time it happens, you're almost numb at that point," Jones said. "I felt like that was somewhere I should be and felt like I had no reason not to be there … But it was definitely tough, it was a tough weekend. "Honestly the one (thing) I wanted to do, I wanted to have a good run for him and felt like that would just kind of make everybody feel better." The Byron, Michigan, native finished fourth in the Irish Hills that day, a finish his dad likely would have been proud of. But that was just the beginning of what is a long process of grief, uncertainty and struggle for the 20-year-old driver, especially when it came to his career. "The first few months after he was gone were tough going to the race track," Jones said. "Not necessarily something I wanted to do right away was go back to the race track, but felt like it would get my mind off it at least, and knew it was something he would have wanted me to do. "Honestly (I) worried about, funny enough, if I'd ever even win again. I didn't know if I'd even be the same person after going through something like that." He did win again -- and soon. His first win after his father's passing came in July at Iowa Speedway, and then another at Chicagoland to kick off the playoffs. Soon after that, Furniture Row Racing announced that it would expand its operation to field two cars and that Jones would pilot the No. 77 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Toyota in 2017. But Jones' father knew his son's future before most of the world knew. All thanks to a visit from Coach Joe Gibbs. "He was starting to get pretty ill and Joe Gibbs stopped by our house kind of out of the blue," Jones said. "… We chatted together -- him, me and my dad -- and then I stepped out, just let them have some time together. "I came back after Joe had left and kind of talked to him and said, 'How was it?' … and he said 'I think you're going to be well off … I was talking to Joe and it looks like next year you're going to be with Furniture Row and you're going to do this deal and I'm just really happy for you. It will be a great year.' "I was glad at that point that Joe sat down and told him that. It wasn't something we had fully engaged with at that point and weren't sure exactly what was going to happen. Joe took the time to sit down and explain to him that everything was going to be OK and I was going to be competing at this level next year." It's been a fast process in Jones' rise in the racing ranks, as he just started full time in the XFINITY Series in 2015. It's a process where he wishes he had his father alongside him. "He always had the answer, I felt like," Jones said. "And all of sudden, you lose that. In three, four months I went from having that to it was gone. I kind of felt like I was on my own. And trying to figure all that out myself at 20 years old -- I don't have a ton of experience in the world -- and trying to figure that all out and trying to figure out how to do these things was challenging. "At the end of it all, especially today, I feel like I'm more solid and knowing what's going on more than ever. But it took a long time to get there. All of last year, I felt like some things were not in my control, like I didn’t know what was going on. I probably ignored a lot of things through the middle and later part of the year. Just didn't deal with it. If there was an issue, I would sometimes throw it to the side and not worry about it. "And now, I feel like this year in the offseason, I got a lot of things in order like I need to and I definitely feel like I have it under control." • • • A 1965 Corvette and a leather and silver-faced Shinola watch are two pieces that remind Jones of his father. He keeps the watch close with him, everywhere he goes on the NASCAR circuit. A Michigan native, Jones said his father treasured the Detroit-made watch for its roots to his beloved home state. Sometime after his diagnosis, Dave Jones thought his son should have it. "He took it to a jeweler and had it engraved for me," Jones said. "… It's kind of the one thing that I have that connects me back to him." The Corvette is a little different -- it's more of a repayment to his father. "He had it when I was a little kid," Jones said. "He sold it when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old to fund my racing and I always wanted to buy it back for him. I finally got the point a year ago where I was like, 'I can finally start thinking about buying this car back for him.' Then he got sick. But I finally got the car back." But even with these objects aside, Jones' father remains a presence in his life, even after his passing. He's in his dreams, in his thoughts every day, beside him as he stands at the race track ready to take on another race, a dream of Erik's that his father loved and supported. "I always think about it," Jones said. "And a lot of the things that I still do are with him in mind, and thinking about what he would think or what he'd want to do. I always feel like he's there in some way. "… There's definitely been times over the last few weeks that I would have loved to call him and just talk to him … talk to him about racing in general, about life, everything that’s going on. "I definitely think he's proud and would be proud." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;