Nine-time Monster Mile winner edges Hamlin in early session RELATED: Practice 1 results Jimmie Johnson zoomed to the top of the heap Friday in opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Dover International Speedway . Johnson, aiming for his 10th Dover victory this weekend, piloted the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet to a best lap of 163.867 mph on the Monster Mile in preparation for Sunday's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). His lap was just shy of the track qualifying record of 164.444 mph set by Brad Keselowski in May. Denny Hamlin was second-fastest at 163.532 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., a teammate to Johnson in the Hendrick No. 88 Chevrolet, was third-best at 163.473 mph. David Ragan , making his third start in the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 Toyota, was fourth-fastest at 163.339 mph. Kyle Busch , ready for his third race in his return from severe leg injuries in a February crash at Daytona, was fifth-fastest at 162.808 mph in the Gibbs No. 18 Toyota. Series leader and defending champion Kevin Harvick posted the eighth-fastest lap in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Harvick will carry a 41-point lead over Martin Truex Jr ., 10th-fastest in first practice, into Sunday's 400-miler. Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the 13th race of the season is scheduled Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 1). Two practice sessions Saturday (10-10:55 a.m. ET and 1-1:55 p.m. ET, FS1) will mark the final on-track activity for Sprint Cup drivers before Sunday's main event. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Johnson on P1: 'We don't agree with what has happened' RELATED: 3 teams penalized after Charlotte " Hendrick appeals P1 penalty on No. 48 MORE: No. 48 appeal avoids repeat of 2006 pit pick DOVER, Del. -- Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson calmly and strongly reiterated his team's position to appeal the P1 penalty NASCAR handed down to the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team this week. An hour before posting the fastest speed in Friday's opening practice at Dover International Speedway , Johnson spoke to reporters for the first time since the penalty was announced Wednesday and since his team filed an appeal Thursday. Johnson spoke to reporters Friday for the first time since the penalty was announced Wednesday and since his team filed an appeal Thursday. "Definitely we don't agree with what has happened and getting the letters and that's why the appeal has taken place," Johnson said from Dover International Speedway before opening practice. "I look forward to the appeal process running its course, and respect it and certainly hope for a different outcome once everything has run its course." Johnson's No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet team was penalized this week after receiving multiple written warnings from NASCAR for violations found during the May 16 Sprint All-Star Race and May 24 Coca-Cola 600 weekends at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Multiple warnings warranted a P1-level infraction that would have given Johnson one of the last pit stall selections this weekend at Dover. By appealing the penalty, Johnson will still have the ability to pick a pit stall based on his qualifying position, which is important on the small and tight pit road at the 1-mile Dover concrete oval. "I guess there is that part of it," Johnson said. "My qualifying record as of late hasn't been so stellar, so we won't know implication of that (appealing the penalty) until after qualifying. "Then," he said, pausing, " the stories can run rampant then." Johnson was fastest in practice with a speed of 163.867 mph followed by Denny Hamlin , Hendrick teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr . and David Ragan . A victory Sunday in the FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM) would be Johnson's 10th at Dover and make him one of only five drivers (Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson, and Dale Earnhardt) in NASCAR history to score double-digit wins on a track. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
David Ragan talks about filling in for an injured Kyle Busch and his new deal to drive for Michael Waltrip Racing.
Veteran to drive for JGR starting with Atlanta Sprint Cup race Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Joe Gibbs Racing announced Tuesday that David Ragan will serve as interim driver in place of injured Kyle Busch for the next several weeks beginning this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The team said in a statement that Ragan , a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran, will run JGR's No. 18 Toyota as Busch recovers from multiple lower-leg injuries suffered in a crash Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Matt Crafton, champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series the last two seasons, finished 18th as a last-minute fill-in for the season-opening Daytona 500. Front Row Motorsports and sponsor CSX accommodated Ragan's move, according to JGR. Ragan is expected to return to the team later this season. A spokesperson for Front Row Motorsports said there was "no announcement yet" regarding their plans for the No. 34 Ford at Atlanta. Erik Jones will pilot the No. 54 Toyota at Atlanta in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for JGR. Busch was expected to compete in the XFINITY Series' Hisense 250 (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) at Atlanta in JGR's No. 54 Toyota. An announcement on who will drive the No. 54 following the Atlanta race will be made at a later date, according to the team. "We appreciate being able to work with Front Row Motorsports and CSX for David's ( Ragan ) availability," said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. "We are fortunate to be able to have someone of David's caliber behind the wheel while Kyle recovers. Erik is a big part of our future at JGR and we will be increasing his schedule in the XFINITY Series beginning this weekend in Atlanta and seeking the earliest opportunity to provide him Cup experience. We appreciate all the support we have received from the NASCAR community including our fans and we look forward to getting Kyle back in the car as soon as possible." Kyle Busch's wife, Samantha, wished David Ragan luck on Twitter after the news was announced. Thx to David 4 filling in for Kyle. @JacquelynRagan is 1 of my best friends n they r the nicest ppl in the world,wishing them much success! — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) February 24, 2015 Ragan , 29, drove the Front Row Motorsports' No. 34 Ford in Sunday's Daytona 500 and has competed in the last three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series seasons, bringing the Statesville, North Carolina-based team its only premier series victory in May 2013 at Talladega Superspeedway. Before his tenure at Front Row, Ragan raced for Roush Fenway Racing from 2007-2011. Interesting enough, Ragan was teammates with current JGR drivers Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards as recently as the 2011 Sprint Cup Series season, while all three were at Roush Fenway. Jones, a three-time winner in Truck Series competition last year and a four-time winner in his career, was in consideration for the ride in Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX), which would have made him the first active NASCAR Next driver to make a Sprint Cup start. Ultimately, JGR went with Ragan , a driver with eight full seasons of top-division experience and home-state ties, having grown up in Unadilla, Georgia, roughly 100 miles south of the Atlanta track. Busch, also 29, was released from a Florida hospital Tuesday for further treatment at a facility near his North Carolina home. The move came three days after the NASCAR XFINITY Series opener at Daytona, where Busch suffered a compound fracture of his lower right leg and a broken left foot, indefinitely placing him on the sidelines. Ragan's transition to the Gibbs team marks an abrupt shift in manufacturers, as his 291 career starts in the Sprint Cup Series have all come in Fords. It also creates a domino-effect vacancy at the Bob Jenkins-owned Front Row organization, which expanded to three full-time teams in the offseason with David Gilliland and Cole Whitt filling the other two seats. Ragan finished 17th in Sunday's Daytona 500, placing him 16th and in the final spot in the provisional Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason grid after the season's first race. Per NASCAR rules, if one driver switches teams during the 26-race regular season, the driver remains eligible for Chase consideration as long as he remains in the top 30 in points. Jones ranks second in the Camping World Truck Series points after his runner-up finish in the Daytona opener. He's scheduled to compete in the full truck season for Kyle Busch Motorsports, and was expected to race in 10 XFINITY events for Joe Gibbs Racing. NASCAR.com's Zack Albert contributed to this report 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
Drivers give their takes on California dustup Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Jeff Gordon said he felt he had run out of options. David Ragan said he thought he could hold Gordon off. The result was a spin by Ragan during last weekend's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway that brought out the day's first caution less than 25 laps into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Ragan , filling in for the fourth consecutive week for the injured Kyle Busch in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota, said Friday at Martinsville Speedway that "at the end of the day, I certainly got the bad end of the deal." "I was in the preferred line but Jeff was a little faster than me at the time," Ragan said before heading out to take part in the day’s lone practice at the 0.526-mile track. "Looking back at it, I probably would have just let him by knowing that I was going to be the one that was coming off Turn 4 backwards." The two were battling for seventh place when Gordon's Chevrolet drew close enough to the left-rear of Ragan's car to send it into a spin. The move came after Gordon had shot underneath, only to see the JGR driver flash back by on the high side of the 2-mile track. "We were moving forward at that time – both me and (teammate) Jimmie (Johnson)," the four-time Sprint Cup champion said. "We caught David . He was definitely struggling and trying to hang on until the pit stop where they could make some adjustments. He was letting off real early in the corner." Johnson cleared Ragan and had driven away when Gordon made his initial move to the inside. While he could have moved up the track and in front of Ragan , Gordon said he thought "I'm not going to do a slide job on the guy this early in the race. We'll see if he wants to race me hard or not.” And that, Gordon said, is what transpired. "He raced me hard on the outside," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. "A couple laps later I got inside him again, and this time I crowded him a little bit more. He got all over my door; got me loose and so I basically said at that point that I was going to have to do it the hard way. "I know on the radio I said I may have to use the bumper, and I would have if I could have gotten to him and tapped him a little. But I didn't have to. I just got up to him and he was already pretty loose. I just took the air off of him to just get him to lift, but he didn't lift. He stayed in the gas and spun out." Ragan said he didn't give Gordon the spot because he felt "maybe once I got my track bar adjusted a little bit and kind of got my rhythm I felt like I might could pull away from him. "I did feel like once I could get my car going in the top lane that I could be a little better. Jeff was a little impatient. He didn't do anything wrong, he just didn't give me a break. And I didn't give him a break either. "What I can learn from that is it was early in the race, that one spot didn't matter. I could have had a little bit of give and take and the 24 could have had a little bit of give and take. It's one of those things that at the end of the day I got the bad end of the deal and that's sucked. I learned from it and moved on." The two spoke briefly after the race, the fifth of 36 that make up the 2015 Sprint Cup Series schedule and the final stop of a three-race West Coast swing that began in Las Vegas and moved to Phoenix before wrapping up at Auto Club "I don't expect somebody to just let me go by them, but when you're that much faster than somebody else, you have to make a choice: 'How do I want to race at this point and this stage in the race? Is it worth it to me?'" Gordon said Friday. "In my opinion and on a track that was that difficult to pass on, I was going to get up behind him. I never touched him, but I definitely took the air off of him." "Jeff's obviously a champion and a smart racer and you've got to give him some respect," Ragan said. "I raced him like I would anybody else. But at the beginning of a race we both have to have some give and take; he's lucky that he didn't get collected somehow. If I would have spun a little earlier in the corner and he couldn't turn down, he very well could have been collected too and it would have been a bad deal for both of us." Gordon eventually finished 10th while Ragan was 18th. He finished 17th in the season-opening Daytona 500 while driving for Front Row Motorsports , and has finished 18th, 22nd, 21st and 18th since taking over for Busch. "I feel like the last couple of weeks have been good," Ragan said. "I'm disappointed that we haven't gotten a good finish to show for (it), I think we've had some pretty good cars. "I think we've had a top-10 car every week besides Phoenix, and that's disappointing when you don't finish where you think you should – for several reasons, from mistakes on my behalf to just poor racing luck to situations like we had last week. "We could win one of these things, break off with two or three top-fives in a row and it wouldn't surprise me. But we've just got to put a whole weekend together." 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
KFC will be on the No. 34 Ford in the Daytona 500 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Front Row Motorsports announced Friday that David Ragan will return to its No. 34 Ford team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with sponsorship from KFC for the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 22 (1 p.m. ET, FOX). Ragan -- entering his fourth year with team owner Bob Jenkins and his ninth full season at NASCAR's top level -- is a two-time Sprint Cup winner, including a victory in July 2011 at Daytona International Speedway. Nearly two years later, he gave Front Row its only premier series win at Talladega Superspeedway. That success prompted a one-race deal with KFC last May at Talladega, a pairing that will be renewed Feb. 22 in the Daytona 500. "It's great to have KFC back on our No. 34 for another superspeedway race," Ragan said in a release provided by the team. "We had fun with the partnership last year, we got them lots of attention running up front, and we look forward to doing that again in Daytona." Ragan struggled last season, logging just one top-10 finish as the No. 34 team limped to a tie for 32nd place in the final Sprint Cup standings. But the Statesville, North Carolina-based team has solidified its driver roster in the offseason by re-signing veteran David Gilliland and adding 23-year-old Cole Whitt to a full-time third team. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Complete news and notes about all 43 drivers and their Coca-Cola 600 results RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid after Charlotte 1. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Sticky feet didn't slow down Edwards, who stretched his fuel window to claim his first Charlotte 600 victory while pretty much locking up a spot in the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . " NASCAR.com goes 1-on-1 with Edwards in Victory Lane 2. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle turned in his best showing of the year, starting fourth and earning runner-up honors in the season's longest race. " Biffle reflects on runner-up finish 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native overcame an early-race pit miscue to resume running in the top 10 by Lap 100 and earn his seventh top-five of the year. He now ranks fourth in the points. " Dale Jr. looks at top-five finish at Charlotte 4. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The pole winner closed 12 spots in the final 40 laps after making an unscheduled pit stop with less than 100 laps to go for a loose wheel. " Kenseth talks about late gamble 5. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Before a late-race fuel gamble didn't work out, Truex led a race-high 131 laps and radioed to his team, "I'm feeling like Superman for a few laps anyway." " Truex: 'It hurts to come home fifth' 6. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman earned the beneficiary of the free pass during the final caution period and closed 11 places in the final 40 laps. 7. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . New father Keselowski told his team early that his "ride quality is on par with Kentucky." He won at Kentucky last year, but had to settle for a top 10 (his eighth of the season) due to the fuel mileage game. " To hear more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView Premium today 8. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin, winner of the recent Sprint All-Star race, was pacing the 600 field with a migraine when a loose wheel prompted an unscheduled pit stop with 38 laps to go. " Hamlin visits media center after trip to infield care center 9. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick recorded his 11th top-10 result in 12 appearances this season to extend his grip on the points lead 10. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch lined up 14th and posted the fastest lap of the race on Lap 143 (188.153 mph), which was one of the 118 laps he led on Sunday. 11. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . In his first points race since the Daytona crash, Busch reassured his team he could run the full 600 miles. "Tell Erik (Jones, replacement driver) I feel good," Busch radioed his team. "10-4," crew chief Adam Stevens responded. "His bedtime's in about 20 minutes anyhow." " Busch passes big test at Charlotte 12. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne was tagged near the halfway point for speeding on pit road, but rallied to earn the beneficiary of the free pass and run inside the top 10 with 50 laps to go. 13. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . The birthday boy shook off debris in the first 24 laps to lead twice for 17 circuits on Sunday. 14. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard quietly toured Charlotte’s 1.5-mile oval en route to his eighth top-15 result of the season. 15. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . After pacing the field to green in the Indy 500, Gordon lined up 18th in his Coca-Cola 600 finale and had a decent run until a loose wheel impacted his day. " Gordon leads Indy field to green 16. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon drove a new chassis to his best 1.5-mile result of the season. 17. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola earned the beneficiary of the free pass on the Lap 230 caution and found himself in position again for the free pass in the closing laps. 18. Chase Elliott , No. 25 Chevrolet. Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott, in his third Cup outing and first at a 1.5-miler, qualified 28th and mostly ran inside the top 25, despite dealing with a radio communication issue during the race. 19. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The two-time Charlotte winner had a ho hum day, running middle of the pack in his 26th appearance at the 1.5-mile track. 20. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer's frustration sparked a late-race decision to gamble on fuel mileage. "Might as well (gamble)," Bowyer radioed crew chief Brian Pattie. "Nothing to lose." " To hear more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView Premium today 21. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart was running a lap down when he got into the back of Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., who slid up the track ahead of him on Lap 302. 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick had to make two pit stops during the third caution flag after receiving damage from a dust-up with Clint Bowyer and Chase Elliott on pit road. 23. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears battled a lack of air conditioning and tried to stay cool during the season's longest race by taking ice bags during pit stops. 24. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish couldn't climb back from an early handling issue although he later ran lap times comparable to those inside the top 15. 25. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson qualified ninth, marking his first top-10 start at Charlotte, and ran as high as eighth before quietly fading. 26. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Encouraged early by crew chief Tommy Baldwin Jr. not to overdrive it, Bowman went on to post his best intermediate track finish of the year. 27. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne's tough night was further impacted when he hit the wall on Lap 230 to bring out the fourth caution flag and halt 89 laps of green-flag racing. 28. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt liked his car during practice and ultimately turned in his best 2015 result on a 1.5-mile track. 29. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger required an unscheduled pit stop around Lap 160 when a hot dog wrapper stuck to his grille and raised temps. 30. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing . McDowell spent the night looking for speed as he worked with his team on the handling of the No. 95 Ford. 31. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Spotter Tony Raines told Moffitt his car was faster than those ahead of him, but grip was a persistent problem. 32. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett, who dealt with a tight-handling condition early on Sunday, spun on the backstretch on Lap 328 to bring out the caution flag. 33. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland, who honored The Unknown Soldier with his car, led Lap 28 after choosing not to pit during the competition caution. 34. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto, making his third 1.5-mile start and his first at Charlotte, complained early of a loose-handling condition. 35. Josh Wise , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Wise lined up 38th and got behind early, but still held on to post his best Charlotte result in his last four outings at the 1.5-mile track. 36. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport. Making his Charlotte debut, Kennedy improved upon his earlier intermediate result this season at Texas Motor Speedway . 37. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse cracked the top 10 with 70 laps to go, but watched his second top-10 of the season slip through his fingers after he hit the wall eight laps later 38. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley was mired in traffic after being penalized during the competition caution when a crew member went over the wall too early. 3 9. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill followed the race on Sunday by physically running 14 miles to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in support of the Folds of Honor Foundation. " Cassill completes unique Memorial Day weekend double 40. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson spun on Lap 90 and saved his car in a move reminiscent of Kansas Speedway , where he was victorious. But he wasn't able to save it a second time after he spun on Lap 274 and collided with the inside pit wall. " Second spin crunches Johnson's No. 48 41. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . In the final third of the race, Ragan cited his water temperatures were fluctuating and ultimately was sidelined by an engine issue. 42. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney cracked the top 11 on Sunday, but his strong run was halted on Lap 282 when his engine blew up. 43. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier, in his third Charlotte start, retreated to the garage after getting into the wall between Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 136. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Jeff Gordon spins David Ragan after battling for the 7th position at Auto Club Speedway.
Jeff Gordon goes into detail about why he helped spin-out David Ragan at Auto Club Speedway.
Joe Nemechek taking over at Atlanta while Ragan subs for Kyle Busch