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Stewart talks special moment with Gordon post-Indy
RELATED: Race results " Standings " Chase Grid " See the moment SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- With the field lined up for the first of what turned out to be two overtime restarts Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Tony Stewart clicked his radio and made a request. "Tell (the 88) after this is over let's go around the track one more time together," Stewart, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing and driver of the organization's No. 14 Chevrolet, said. Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and twice a winner of the The Combat Wounded Coalition 400, wanted to slow down instead of go fast, and soak in the moment with a familiar foe and friend, regardless of how his final race at IMS ended. Jeff Gordon , driving the Hendrick Motorsports entry in relief of Dale Earnhardt Jr. , was more than willing to oblige. Hours earlier, Gordon had paid tribute to Stewart, acknowledging him and what he has meant to NASCAR during the morning drivers' meeting. RELATED: Gordon talks return, Dale Jr. " WATCH: Gordon climbs in No. 88 So before race winner Kyle Busch made it to Victory Lane, prior to he and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates gathering to kiss the bricks on the finish line, Stewart and Gordon, two old warhorses with a combined seven championships and 142 Sprint Cup Series wins between them, slowly circled the 2.5-mile track one final time to the cheers of the fans and many of those still on pit road. MORE: Relive 'Smoke's' 49 career victories Afterward, Gordon climbed from his car and approached Stewart; the two hugged on pit road amid a throng of reporters. "I can say that just ranks in the top-three coolest moments of my 18 years in this series," said Stewart, who will retire from Sprint Cup racing at season's end. "To share that moment with Jeff here at Indianapolis, I don't know. I don't even have the words for it. That is a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life." For the record, Stewart finished 11th in his final Sprint Cup start at the famed Brickyard. It was a hard-fought 11th with the 45-year-old rallying from a lap down after running strong in the first half of the 170-lap race. Gordon, scheduled to make at least one more start next week at Pocono's Pennsylvania 400 in relief of Earnhardt Jr., rallied, too, to finish 13th. "Tony and I have gone through a lot over the years," he said. "But he and I have become really good friends. ... I'm just so proud that I was able to be here and race with him in his final race (at Indy)." Stewart ran as high as second early, moving up from his No. 3 starting position in spite of a slow takeoff when the race went green . Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz and the pit crew continued to make adjustments throughout the first half of the race, keeping Stewart inside the top 10, but at one point admitted to his driver, "We're just barely keeping up with the track." Stewart hit pit road at Lap 119 under green , and when the caution came out for an incident involving David Ragan , it appeared the move might work in the team’s favor -- others that hadn't pitted would come to pit road, allowing Stewart to gain track position. But a speeding penalty negated any advantage, and Stewart instead found himself in 31st and one lap down. By then, it was too late to change game plans, according to Bugarewicz. "Normally you would say yes when it's early in the race," he said. "When it's late in the race like that, your fate's almost ... you just have to race for the (free pass) and hope you get it like we did. That's all you've got. "Nobody was going to pit again if it stayed green because they're already in the last fuel window so at that point it was just ... banking on getting a caution and being the best car out of the cars that were a lap down to get the lucky dog, which is what we did. "We got fortunate with a few more cautions to let us line back up at the tail of the field and start picking them off." On Lap 140, Stewart passed Kasey Kahne (Hendrick Motorsports) to be in positon for the free pass, and when the caution flag waved for debris moments later, he was back on the lead lap. Three more cautions unfolded before the finish, including one that involved Stewart, Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing), Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing) and Brian Scott (Richard Petty Motorsports). WATCH: Big wreck claims multiple cars at Indy "That last one probably hurt us in one sense -- with the nose damage we had, the car was really tight," Bugarewicz said. "But ... we're not going to complain, we're just going to take what we've got and be happy for it." The finish moved Stewart up one spot, to 27th, in points. With a win earlier at California's Sonoma Raceway, he continues to improve his chances at earning a berth in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. But with Indy in his rearview, Stewart wasn't in a hurry to look too far down the road. "It was an awesome weekend," he said. "Everything went the way we wanted it to, we just came up short today. "I had fun all day and had fun all weekend. ... Everybody tried to make my weekend as easy as possible. It really gave me the opportunity to savor the moment and enjoy it." MORE: 'Smoke' receives unique gift from Indy
The Rundown: Indianapolis driver grades
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Crown Royal Presents The Combat Wounded Coalition 400 At The Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway: 1. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Total domination. Busch won Saturday's and Sunday's races from the pole and led a record 149 laps Sunday. His average running position Sunday was 1.2, and his lowest position was third. Seriously? Busch's hammerlock on the field was on par with what Martin Truex Jr. did in the Coca-Cola 600 . Thus the same mark. Grade: AAA+ 2. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth is still winless at the Brickyard but has now finished second three times. More numbers: In Kenseth's first four starts at Indianapolis for JGR, his finishes are 5th, 4th, 7th and 2nd. Grade: A 3. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson had to do a pass-through on Lap 86 for a pit-road speeding penalty, dropping him to 23rd. Attrition and persistence led to Johnson's first top 10 since he finished third at Charlotte two months ago. Nice finish, but this team still needs to clean up its mistakes. Grade: A- 4. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Ditto the No. 11 team. Hamlin was assessed his seventh pit-road speeding penalty of the season one lap after Jimmie Johnson (same round of green -flag stops). Hamlin was running third at the time and fell back to 18th. Nice recovery, but … Grade: A- 5. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. Larson was the second-biggest winner of the afternoon, moving up four spots in the standings to 15th. Grade: A 6. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick upped his points lead to 24. Two races ago it was down to four. If you don't think that's important, remember this: If qualifying is rained out, the field is set by the standings -- as is the order of selecting a pit stall. So, yes, the standings still matter. Grade: A 7. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. Logano restarted second on the final restart but couldn't hold the position or make a run at Kyle Busch. Logano, by the way, finished second to Busch in last year's Brickyard. Grade: A 8. Martin Truex Jr. , No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing. Truex was strong all afternoon – his 5.6 average running position was second to Kyle Busch's – but he was no match for the winner. Grade: A 9. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Sunday's top 10 was Dillon's ninth of the season (20 starts), equaling his total for the first 85 starts of his Sprint Cup career. Grade: A 10. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Menard benefited from accidents in front of him that he was able to avoid to score his second top 10 of the season. Grade: A- 11. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart started third and was running with the leaders when he was caught speeding on pit road just before the third caution and had to restart at the tail end of the field, one lap down. He was still back in the pack (20th) with 25 laps to go in regulation. But then came all the cautions. "Smoke" finally got his lap back with a free pass on the fifth caution, survived contact with Jamie McMurray on Lap 166 and salvaged a decent finish on his last go-round at Indy. Grade: B 12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse survived the big Carl Edwards - Ryan Newman wreck that brought out the red flag to get a finish that belied his day. He turned 14 laps in the top 15 and had an average running positon of 20.1. Grade: B- 13. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Despite problems with restarts, Gordon was able to post his best finish of the season and overcome the incredible pressure of replacing Alex Bowman in the No. 88. ... Yes, I'm kidding. Except for the restarts part. Vive Monsieur Gordon! Grade: A 14. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Buescher recorded the best finish of his Sprint Cup career on a day in which he turned all of two laps in the top 15 and had a 23.7 average running position. Grade: B 15. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott registered his best finish since a second-place finish at Michigan more than a month ago. Grade: B 16. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. For only the second time this season, Busch failed to finish in the top 10 in back-to-back races. Grade: B- 17. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. Keselowski was the rage early on with his team's bold pit strategy, but the second half of the race bore zero resemblance to the first half. Getting caught up in the Carl Edwards - Ryan Newman wreck didn't help, either. Grade: B 18. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Despite a fourth-straight finish outside the top 10, Kahne moved up two spots in the standings to 16th, 10 points behind Kyle Larson . He jumped one driver who missed the race ( Dale Earnhardt Jr. ) and one who didn't use the best judgment and crashed with 10 laps to go ( Trevor Bayne ). Grade: C 19. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. McMurray's nice run came to a screeching halt on the restart on Lap 165 when he moved down in front of Tony Stewart but hadn't cleared the No. 14. Stewart wasn't about to lift, and the No. 1 went for a slide onto the access road before returning to the track and smacking Ryan Newman . Worse, the caution gave the free pass to Chase-cutoff competitor Kasey Kahne . Grade: B- 20. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Cassill avoided calamity to get his fourth-best finish of the season. Grade: B 21. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Bowyer contributed to the caution-fest at the end of the race when he got into the back of Trevor Bayne , who inexplicably went for the block with so much on the line (Chase standings) and running so far back in the field. Grade: C 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Wrong place, wrong time. Again. Patrick had nothing to do with the Carl Edwards - Ryan Newman wreck but still ended up a part of it. On the other hand, she finished right where she spent most of the race. Grade: C 23. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport-Leavine Family. McDowell posted his best finish at the Brickyard in seven starts. Grade: B- 24. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Mears finished in the top 25 for the 10th time this season. Grade: C 25. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Almirola, who is still looking for his first top 10 of the year, is on pace to have his worst season with RPM, for which he has been driving full time since 2010. Grade: C 26. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Smith posted his best finish since a 22nd at Pocono in early June. Grade: C 27. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Despite being collected in the last wreck of the day, Scott picked up his best finish in his past eight starts. Grade: C 28. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . After posting four top-30 finishes in his first 14 starts, Annett has four in his past six. Grade: C 29. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Since a 37.3 average finish in his first three starts of the season, Whitt has an average finish of 27.5 over his next 14 races. Grade: C 30. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Bayne's move to block Clint Bowyer on the backstretch on Lap 158 was as costly as it was ill-advised. Bayne spun all the way to his worst finish of the season and to 18th in the standings, 14 points behind 15th-place Kyle Larson . Grade: D 31. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman's day began to unravel on the restart on Lap 154. He restarted sixth, outside of Carl Edwards . On the first turn, Edwards drifted up into Newman and the No. 31 suffered major damage. With Newman sitting near the Chase cut-off line, it was important for him to coax the car home. He returned to the track but couldn't make it to the finish when Jamie McMurray ran up the track into him on the Lap 165 restart after contact with Tony Stewart . Bottom line: Valiant effort but a DNF and 10-point day. Grade: C 32. Ryan Ellis , No. 93 Toyota, BK Racing. Ellis picked up a career-best finish in his fourth Sprint Cup Series start. Grade: C 33. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson ran to form, and his 33.8 average finish is third-worst in the Sprint Cup Series among drivers with at least 10 starts. Grade: D 34. Patrick Carpentier, No. 32 Ford, GO FAS Racing . After not starting a Sprint Cup Series race since 2011, Carpentier made his second start of 2016. He finished 37th last month at Sonoma. Grade: D 35. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards was part of the strong JGR contingent all afternoon – 6.6 averaging running position – until his mishap on Lap 154. Whether it was a tight car or dirty tires, the outcome was costly as he dropped two spots in the standings. Grade: F 36. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney was collected and knocked out of the race in the Carl Edwards -initiated wreckage that resulted in a red flag. Blaney dropped two spots in the standings to 19th, and is now 22 points behind 15th-place Kyle Larson . Blaney began the day nine points ahead of Larson. Grade: C 37. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Ragan brought out the third caution on Lap 120 when his left-rear tire went down and he slammed the wall. It was his third DNF and second-worst finish of the season. Grade: F 38. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger was running 11th when his car lost water pressure. Moments later it overheated with less than 100 laps to go. It was Allmendinger's second DNF in the past three races. Grade: F 39. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Biffle's day ended after 53 laps when his right-front tire went down and he slammed into the outside wall. His streak of top 10s – three – ended as well. Grade: F 40. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. His engine didn't even make through five laps, leaving DiBenedetto with his seventh DNF of the season. "How is that even possible?" DiBenedetto tweeted. "Who has the voodoo doll of me that severely dislikes me?" Grade: F
Kyle Busch dominates for back-to-back Indianapolis sweep
RELATED: Results " Standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Busch gear SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Mission accomplished, a record set, and a torch passed to the next generation. Kyle Busch set a Brickyard record for laps led and became the first driver to sweep both a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series race from the pole in the same weekend, but the real symbolism of Sunday's Crown Royal 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway didn't come until the event was over. As Busch spun his No. 18 Toyota in a celebratory burnout and took his customary bows near the yard of bricks, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon slowly circled the track, driving side by side, waving to fans acknowledging their career accomplishments after what is expected to be their respective last appearances at the Brickyard. In heat that reached 130 degrees on the asphalt, Stewart recovered from a pit road speeding penalty to finish 11th in his retirement year, and Gordon ran 13th in what was an unanticipated substitute role for ailing Dale Earnhardt Jr. But Busch received his share of the applause, too, as fans have begun to acknowledge his ascent, at age 31, to the small group of elite drivers in NASCAR's history. To say he accomplished his second straight weekend sweep of the Indy races emphatically is to understate the case. In a race that went 25 miles beyond its scheduled distance, thanks to a rash of late cautions, Busch led 149 of 170 laps, a record for the event. In the two-lap overtime shootout that decided the issue, Busch crossed the finish line an astounding 2.126 seconds ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth , who ran second. "This Toyota was awesome today," said Busch, who won his second Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis, his fourth of the season and the 38th of his career. "It was just so fast and able to get out front and stay out front. Not even some of my teammates could challenge. This was hooked up and on rails. "Adam Stevens (crew chief) and these guys are a phenomenal group, and I'm proud to be with them. It's fun to come out here and have such a dominant piece at Indy. They don't come along often, so I was just hoping I didn't screw it up." Busch is acutely aware of the history of the sport, and completing a weekend sweep by winning both races from the pole was high on his bucket list. "It's so cool because it hasn't been done before," said the defending Sprint Cup champion, who is the second driver to win back-to-back races at the Brickyard -- the other being Jimmie Johnson in 2008 and 2009. "I've tried and been successful at being able to do a lot of things that others haven't been able to do before. I guess I give myself more chances than others because I run more of those (XFINITY) races. "It helps you, and when it helps you win on Sunday, that's what makes everything so worthwhile on those Saturday races. The guys on Saturday do a good job, too, helping prepare me and being able to do this stuff on Sunday." Busch was on cruise control, heading toward an easy victory, when NASCAR called a debris caution on Lap 150 to remove a piece of sheet metal near the exit from Turn 2. One of six drivers who stayed out on older tires, Busch led the field to green on Lap 154. Moments later, the No. 19 Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards tightened up in the inside lane, twitched out of control and ignited a five-car wreck that necessitated a stoppage that lasted 7 minutes, 25 seconds. "It felt like I just got tight down there," Edwards said. "I had a little trouble there on the starts, and I got down there, we were fighting really hard for the bottom, and it felt like I got tight with whoever was on the outside of me. "If indeed that is what happened, I apologize. That's pretty frustrating. ... It felt like I got in there and just scrubbed that right front." The following two restarts also brought cautions, the eighth and final one coming when Jamie McMurray made an ill-advised lane change in front of Stewart near the end of pit road and spun sideways off the front bumper of Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet, also collecting Ryan Newman and Brian Scott . When the race restarted on Lap 169, Busch cleared Joey Logano and Kenseth off Turn 1 and pulled away relentlessly until the finish. Johnson overcame a pass-through penalty for speeding on pit road to run third, followed by Denny Hamlin , another speeding penalty victim and the third JGR driver in the top four. Kyle Larson came home fifth, posting his fourth top five of the season. But the story of the day was the long good-bye from Stewart and Gordon, juxtaposed against the backdrop of Busch's emphatic hello to greatness at the flag stand. </p>
Results from Indianapolis heat races
Heat 1 Finish Car Driver Team 1 18 Kyle Busch (i) NOS Energy Drink Toyota 2 42 Kyle Larson (i) ParkerStore Chevrolet 3 22 Joey Logano (i) Discount Tire Ford 4 19 Daniel Suarez Juniper Networks Toyota 5 1 Elliott Sadler OneMain Chevrolet 6 98 Jeb Burton Estes Ford 7 33 Brandon Jones # Jeld-Wen/Menards Chevrolet 8 16 Ryan Reed Lilly Diabetes/American Diabetes Association Ford 9 11 Blake Koch LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet 10 51 Jeremy Clements RepairableVehicles.com/SDD Chevrolet 11 44 J.J. Yeley Zachry Toyota 12 14 Jeff Green Toyota 13 0 Garrett Smithley # teamjdmotorsports.com Chevrolet 14 01 Ryan Preece # teamjdmotorsports.com Chevrolet 15 13 Harrison Rhodes TredWear.com/Masters Properties Toyota 16 25 Stanton Barrett KeensBuildings.com Chevrolet 17 74 Mike Harmon truckersfinalmile.org Dodge 18 89 Morgan Shepherd Chevrolet 19 40 Timmy Hill (i) CrashClaimsR.Us/Icard Merrill Dodge 20 10 Matt DiBenedetto (i) Toyota * -- Daniel Suarez and Elliott Sadler are eligible to run for the Dash 4 Cash in the main race. Heat 2 Finish Car Driver Team 1 20 Erik Jones # Hisense USA Toyota 2 88 Kevin Harvick (i) Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet 3 7 Justin Allgaier BRANDT Chevrolet 4 2 Paul Menard (i) Richmond/Menards Chevrolet 5 48 Brennan Poole # DC Solar Chevrolet 6 3 Ty Dillon Rheem/Nidec/US Motors Chevrolet 7 6 Darrell Wallace Jr. Ford EcoBoost Ford 8 62 Brendan Gaughan South Point Chevrolet 9 39 Ryan Sieg NiceTargets Chevrolet 10 28 Dakoda Armstrong WinField Toyota 11 4 Ross Chastain Dream Water Chevrolet 12 07 Ray Black Jr. # Scuba Life Chevrolet 13 46 Brandon Gdovic TCC Culture of Good Chevrolet 14 78 BJ McLeod # Safecraft Safety Equipment Ford 15 93 David Starr Massimo Motors Chevrolet 16 90 Mario Gosselin BuckedUp Apparel Chevrolet 17 97 Ryan Ellis VroomBrands Chevrolet 18 70 Derrike Cope E-hydrate/Circle Track Warehouse Chevrolet 19 52 Joey Gase Donate Life Chevrolet 20 15 Todd Peck Carport Empire/Lilly Trucking Ford * -- Erik Jones and Justin Allgaier are eligible to run for the Dash 4 Cash in the main race.
Race Rewind: Indianapolis in 15
Relive all of the highlights and key moments from the Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard as Kyle Busch sweeps the weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Rundown: New Hampshire driver grades
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: 1. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Not even a hiccup on pit road during the second caution could derail the No. 20 team. Remember this for when the Sprint Cup Series returns to Loudon for the second Chase race: Kenseth has won two in a row at New Hampshire and three of the past six. Grade: A 2. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Smoke's third top five in the past four races gives him 185 for his career, tying Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett for 16th all time. And to think that just a few weeks ago the discussion was whether Stewart would crack the top 30. Grade: A+ 3. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. The No. 22 team used the race as a test for the September race at Loudon and still finished in the top five for the fifth time in the past six weeks. Grade: A 4. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Great finish, but the continued woes on pit road are troubling -- especially this late into the season. Grade: A- 5. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Fact 1: Taking a wave around followed by another caution enabled Biffle (and others, as you will see) to post a great finish, despite running only 20 laps in the top 15. Fact 2: In racing, you're ultimately judged by where you finish. And Biffle has his first top five since last September at Loudon. Grade: B+ 6. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. McMurray said his goal was to minimize mistakes to keep alive his Chase chances, yet he found himself jousting side-by-side with Denny Hamlin with 21 laps to go. Fortunately for McMurray, they traded only paint, and McMurray was able to post his second-consecutive top 10 and take advantage of Dale Earnhardt Jr. 's absence to move up a spot to 14th in the standings. Grade: A 7. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman was part of the wave-around gang and left Loudon a solid 12th in the standings. Sometimes, timing is everything: Newman's average running position for the day, 21.0, was the worst among top-10 finishers, just below Greg Biffle's 20.4. Grade: B 8. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch led a race-high 133 laps, the first time since last September at Chicagoland he has led the most laps and not won. Grade: A 9. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin ran with the leaders all afternoon. He stayed out on the fourth caution and restarted with the lead on Lap 269. He held it one more lap before Matt Kenseth passed him. But his dust-up with Jamie McMurray caused a tire rub on the No. 11 and a pit stop on the sixth caution. Grade: A 10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse spent all of 30 laps in the top 15 but was one of the drivers who parlayed the wave around on the fifth caution into a good finish. Grade: B 11. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney fell from 11th to 25th after serving a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 184. He was able to avoid a points calamity with a wave around on the fifth caution. He's 17th in the standings, two points behind Trevor Bayne and 16 behind 15th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. Grade: B- 12. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The polesitter led the first lap, and that was it. He did, however, post his best finish since coming home third at Charlotte in May. Grade: B 13. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. A solid finish enabled Dillon to take advantage of Dale Earnhardt Jr. 's absence and move up a spot to 13th in the standings. Grade: B 14. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Danica also was a wave-around winner Sunday, finishing well ahead of her 23.7 average running position. It was her second-best finish of the season. Grade: B- 15. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. Keselowski was having a great day until he found himself sandwiched between teammate Joey Logano low and Kurt Busch high with fewer than 20 laps to go. Keselowski made contact with both and cut a tire, ending any chances for a better finish. Grade: B 16. Martin Truex Jr. , No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing. Truex had a great car and led 123 laps until ... his gear shift broke with fewer than 50 laps to go and then his clutch went, meaning he had trouble leaving pit road and trouble on restarts. Pit road was Truex's problem, restarts was everyone else's. Grade: C 17. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. Running seventh, Larson's fate was sealed with 15 laps to go when Ryan Newman got into the back of Carl Edwards , who hit Larson and sent him spinning. It could have been a lot worse. Grade: B 18. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Menard finished 18th for the second week in a row and fifth time this season. If you think I'm counting, you're right. Grade: C 19. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Almirola's streak without a top-10 finish hit 20 races. Grade: C 20. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. It was unintentional, but Ryan Newman got into the back of Edwards with 15 laps to go, touching off the final caution. Edwards had a top-10 car and was running eighth when it happened. Grade: B 21. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger rolled off the grid 10th but couldn't convert his best start at Loudon since September 2010 into a quality finish. A penalty for his crew over the wall too soon on Lap 222 didn't help. Grade: C 22. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Running in the top 10, Busch was up top on a three-wide with Joey Logano low and Brad Keselowski in the middle. Contact with Keselowski resulted in a tire rub and a couple of laps later a blown left-rear tire. It is only the fourth time this season Busch has finished outside the top 10. Even with the blowout, he still had an average running position of 7.0. Grade: B 23. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. 'Twas not Bayne's day. He completed zero laps in the top 15, and if it weren't for the lucky dog on Lap 277, his finish would have been worse. He also benefitted from Dale Earnhardt Jr. absence. Bayne is 16th in points, 14 behind Junior. Grade: C- 24. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. This was not the same Clint Bowyer who has two wins and seven top 10s at New Hampshire. Maybe next year. Grade: C 25. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne was one of the bigger losers Sunday. He had a solid top-15 car and was vying for a top-10 finish when he was collected in the Ryan Newman - Carl Edwards - Kyle Larson wreck and his promising day went south with 15 laps to go. He dropped a spot to 18th in the standings. Grade: B- 26. Alex Bowman , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Bowman was the story of the day, subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. , who missed the race because of concussion-like symptoms. He was staring at the best finish of his young Sprint Cup career when a tire went down and he hit the wall on Lap 273 while running eighth. Grade: B 27. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Mears improved his finish a handful of spots thanks to the lucky dog on the final caution. Grade: C- 28. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Cassill posted his second-best finish at New Hampshire in his past seven starts at the track. Grade: C 29. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Buescher brought out the second caution when he spun on Lap 100 trying to avoid Josh Wise , who had slowed just ahead of him. He finished two laps down. Grade: C 30. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. An unscheduled pit stop under green on Lap 130 for a vibration costs Ragan a better finish. He was running in the top 25 at the time. Grade: C 31. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. DiBenedetto's finish tied for his best since a 30th-place run at Kansas in May. Grade: D 32. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Smith was making his first start at New Hampshire since September 2012 when he finished 16th. Grade: D 33. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Annett's run of top-30 finishes ended at two (20th at Daytona, 26th at Kentucky). Grade: D 34. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott sustained a tire rub as cars made contact behind the hobbled car of Martin Truex Jr. on the restart on Lap 269. Four laps later, while running in the top 10, the tire blew. Even with the poor finish, Elliott still had an average running position of 10.2. Grade: C 35. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Just like Michael Annett , Sorenson's run of top-30 finishes ended at two (22nd at Daytona, 27th at Kentucky). Grade: D 36. Eddie MacDonald , No. 32 Ford, GO FAS Racing. MacDonald, a K&N Pro Series East veteran from Massachusetts, made his third Sprint Cup Series start, all in the No. 32 Ford at New Hampshire. Last July he finished 37th and the year before 35th. Grade: C- 37. Ryan Ellis , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Ellis also made his third Sprint Cup Series start but first at New Hampshire. He finished nine laps back Sunday. Grade C- 38. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. A fluid leak caused Scott's brakes to fail. He finished 23 laps back. Grade: F 39. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport-Leavine Family. Electrical issues doomed McDowell to his second DNF of the season, all in his past three starts. Grade: F 40. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. One week after his best finish of the season (24th at Kentucky), Wise got his fifth DNF (accident). Grade: F &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
David McGrath looks to make mark at New Hampshire
RELATED: Buy tickets for New Hampshire If you happen to be a track promoter or a race fan, there is a pretty good chance you believe there is no such thing as too much racing. At least that's the case for New Hampshire Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager David McGrath and the fan base that fills the grandstands two weekends a year at the 1-mile track located in Loudon, New Hampshire. "The crowds tell you no," McGrath told NASCAR.com. "Those stands don't empty. "They get it twice a year (at our facility) and they live for it. Like any other part of the country, the Northeast race fan is a rabid fan of our sport. They love it; they can't wait to get up to New Hampshire. They plan their summers and early fall around those races." McGrath, a native New Englander, understands the region's race fans, the bulk of whom arrive from in-state, with nearby Massachusetts and those making the trek from across the Canadian border making up a sizable chunk as well. Named to oversee the Speedway Motorsports Inc. track in October of '15, McGrath has quickly become acquainted with the intricacies and aspects of running such a facility. "Yeah, jack of all trades, master of none," he said. "You have to work at state level, local level, know your governor, senators, representatives and local selectmen. ... We care a great deal about our municipalities and our towns we work with, because we are all in the same boat together. We are the largest driver of economic revenue (in the state), but we don't do that with a swagger. "You are always trying to be understanding, tolerable and work together to figure out solutions. But make no mistake, the vision of the speedway is to be able to utilize that 1,100 acres with the team we've got and find new, cool events, create things for fans to come and experience." The typical race weekend at New Hampshire will see anywhere from three to four series competing during the course of three days. A Sprint Cup/XFINITY Series doubleheader in the summer and a Sprint Cup/Camping World Truck Series doubleheader in the fall headline programs that also include events from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Whelen Modified Tour and American Canadian Tour. It's rare to wander into the facility during a race weekend and not hear cars of one sort or another on the track, either practicing, qualifying or racing. Competing at New Hampshire is a big, big deal, especially for the grassroots circuits. "Certainly in the case of the Modifieds it is, no question," McGrath said. "They are a touring series that travels all over the Northeast and they look at New Hampshire as their big, big event. Their Daytona, if you will." The track has played host to the Whelen Modified Series since 1990, three years before Sprint Cup came calling, and the list of previous winners includes such standouts as Mike McLaughlin, Steve Park, Reggie Ruggiero, Mike Stefanik, Tony Hirschman and Ted Christopher. "Saturday on either race weekend at our track, whether it's July or September, I think is one of the best deals in all of motorsports as far as for the race fans," McGrath said. "Absolutely. You get three great races. In July you've got the K&N race to end the day, you've got XFINITY and then you've got Modifieds. And then in September, you've got Modifieds, Trucks, and the ACT. That's just a great day." In addition to hosting two Sprint Cup Series races, including one that falls in the Round of 16 of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the fall Truck Series race will serve as that series' opener for its inaugural seven-race Chase. Off the track, McGrath said his vision is to continue to develop those things that track ownership -- the facility is one of eight operated by Speedway Motorsports Inc. -- has already undertaken. "We work for the fans," he said. "One of my visions is to continually improve the facility to make it more fan friendly than it already is. Our company has invested a lot of money since we purchased the track back in 2007 going into 2008. We're going to continue to do those things as it makes sense. "We will continue to evaluate areas where we can improve the fan experience. We've built bath/shower houses, increased and improved site drainage ... and have new paving areas all over the campgrounds and the facility. "But the vision would really be to evolve and improve the track and think about new ways to increase the fan experience."
Steer Clear: Danica, Dale, David and Tony avoid Kentucky cautions
Watch as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick, David Ragan and Tony Stewart steer clear of some big cautions in Kentucky.
The Rundown: Kentucky driver grades
Breaking down the full field for the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway: 1. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. Keselowski won on pure speed last week at Daytona and did the opposite Saturday night, stretching his last tank of fuel for 71 laps. Wonder what he's going to do next week at Loudon, where he finished second last July? Grade: A+ 2. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards almost won the fuel-mileage game. Instead he finished in the top five for the seventh time this season, equaling his top fives in each of the past two seasons -- with half a season to go. Grade: A 3. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman snagged his first top five since last September at Chicagoland. Equally important, he moved up two spots to 12th in the standings and is now 40 points ahead of 17th-place Kasey Kahne . Grade: A 4. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. What a night for Busch. He had to start in the rear of the field because he was in a backup car and navigated his way to his 14th consecutive top 10 at a 1.5-mile track. It also gave him top-five finishes at every Cup track. Impressive. Grade: A 5. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Big night for Stewart, too. Besides scoring a top five in his 600th start, he just missed the big wreck on Lap 93 and caught a big break when his three nearest competitors for 30th in the standings all wrecked and had DNFs. Stewart is still 30th, but he's now 31 points to the good, a pickup of a whopping 28 points. Grade: A 6. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Biffle told NBC Sports before the race his team was an 11th- to 16th-place team and needed to figure out how to get better. That didn't take long. He has consecutive top 10s for the first time in nearly two years. Grade: A 7. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. The top 10 moved McMurray up a spot in the standings to 15th, 16 points ahead of Kasey Kahne in 17th. Grade: A 8. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth's fuel didn't stretch as far as Brad Keselowski 's, but he contributed to the excitement at the end. Grade: A 9. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick overshot his pit box on his final pit stop (under green ) with 16 laps to go, but as it turned out, it only cost him a higher finish. He led a race-high 128 laps. Grade: A 10. Martin Truex Jr. , No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing. Truex was penalized for passing on entry to pit road and restarted 23rd on Lap 200 -- after he was first off pit road for the race's final restart. He wasn't happy. "Say what? I do that every week," he said when told of the penalty. He flew through the field and moved into the top five, but despite having packed his tank with fuel two laps after the leaders, he had to pit with 10 to go. What was unfortunate for Truex made for great theater. His blitz through the field was awesome. Grade: A- 11. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Bayne just avoided the big wreck on Lap 93 and moved back into the top 16 (16th) for the second time this season. Grade: B+ 12. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch ran among the leaders all night -- his average running position was 6.4 -- he just didn't have a finish that reflected it. Grade: B 13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Jimmie Johnson spun right in front of Earnhardt on Lap 32, and Junior emerged unscathed. Then he just missed getting collected in the big wreck on Lap 93. Considering what could have been, a top 15 wasn't bad. Grade: B 14. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne moved up a spot in the standings to 17th, but Trevor Bayne (16th) finished three spots better Saturday night. Inconsequential? Kahne missed the Chase last year by 16 points. Grade: B 15. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin finished a very quiet 15th. In the first six races on 1.5-mile tracks, Hamlin has one top 10 (fourth at Charlotte) and a 17.2 average finish. Five of the 10 Chase races are on 1.5-mile tracks. Grade: B 16. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Dillon dropped two spots in the standings to 14th but has a 37-point cushion on 17th-place Kasey Kahne . Grade: B 17. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Danica drove through the big wreck on Lap 93 and later just avoided getting hit by Clint Bowyer when he got loose to bring out the ninth caution -- which made Patrick the beneficiary. She parlayed those events into her third-best finish of the season. Grade B 18. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Obscure fact of the night: In the 18th race of the season, Menard finished 18th for the fourth time in 2016. Grade: C 19. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. Larson ran among the leaders early, but his car became very loose late and then fuel mileage took care of the rest. It was his worst finish since Kansas, two months ago. Grade: C 20. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. The No. 43 team tried a little pit strategy, but the result was the same -- another mediocre finish. Almirola is one of eight drivers to start all 18 races who has yet to finish in the top 10. Grade: C 21. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Whitt squirted though the big wreck on Lap 93 and was rewarded with his third-best finish of the season. Grade: B 22. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Ragan was right there with Cole Whitt in avoiding the Lap 93 mess. Later he escaped being collected when Clint Bowyer got loose. Grade: B- 23. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Speaking of Bowyer … he was running 26th, one lap down, when the air was taken off his car and he got loose, bringing out the ninth caution. He finished two laps back. Grade: C 24. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsport Group. Wise posted his best finish of the season. In fact, his best three finishes of the season have come in his past four starts. Grade: B+ 25. Ty Dillon , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport-Leavine Family. Dillon was collected in the night's biggest wreck but sustained minimal damage after having nowhere to go and running into the back of AJ Allmendinger. The result: Dillon keeps his RAF streak alive. He's 15-for-15 in Cup races. Grade: B 26. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Annett followed up a season-best 20th at Daytona with his second-best finish of 2016. Grade: B 27. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Something must be in the water. Sorenson does the same as Annett. Sorenson finished 22nd at Daytona. Grade: B 28. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, GO FAS Racing. Hats off to Earnhardt, who posted the best finish of his Cup career (12 starts). Grade: B+ 29. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Moments after making a great save, Cassill was running 19th when he hit the outside wall on Lap 194 to bring out the final caution. Ruined a pretty good night. Grade: C 30. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Mears went to the garage on Lap 29 with a brake issue. He returned to the track and finished 21 laps back. Grade: D 31. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott was on the outside of a three-wide after the restart on Lap 88 when Ryan Blaney got loose and collected the No. 24, causing extensive damage. That's two wrecks in two weeks. Grade: C- 32. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson lost the car on Lap 32 and slapped the wall, forcing him into the garage for repairs. Johnson returned to log 208 laps but still suffered his third DNF because of crashes in the past five races. Grade: F 33. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Scott set off the biggest wreck in the race when he got loose on Lap 93, saved the car but was hit from behind by Kyle Larson . Scott swooped wide but turned back to the middle of the track, right in front of Chris Buescher who T-boned him. It was Scott's third DNF for crashes in the past four races Grade: F 34. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Smith's night ended in an instant on Lap 152 when he crashed hard into the outside wall. Smith put his night into perspective on Twitter after the race: "Kentucky... I love your people, whiskey, horses, hell basically ur whole state. Your racetrack though, we're gonna have to work on that." Note to Regan: In Kentucky, it's bourbon. Grade: F 35. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney's night began to go south during the fifth caution when he was leaving his pit stall as Cole Witt was entering his. They made contact, and Blaney's car suffered damage to the right front. He still restarted fifth on Lap 88, but moments later he was in the middle of a three-wide, got loose and collected Chase Elliott on the way to hitting the wall. Blaney lost three spots in the standings to 18th. Grade: F 36. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger got caught up in the Lap 93 wreck, running into the back of Chris Buescher . Allmendinger was 68 laps down when he returned to the track, but he crashed hard, ending his night and injuring his thumb. He was 16 points below the Chase cut line coming into the race. He's 31 back now. Grade: D 37. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Buescher was in the wrong place at the wrong time. His night was showing promise when his car was destroyed on impact with Brian Scott . Grade: C- 38. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. DiBenedetto was running 29th when he hit the wall, bringing out the fifth caution and ending his night. Grade: F 39. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. Logano got loose on Lap 42 and hit the wall, damaging the right-rear quarter panel and deck lid. On Lap 54 he hit it even harder, ending his night. Logano was one of a number of drivers with brake and tire issues. Grade: F 40. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse completed all of nine laps before he smacked the wall twice. His Chase hopes also took a big hit; he went from 17 points behind 16th to 40. Stenhouse tweeted the culprit was his mishandling of low downforce. He had plenty of company Saturday. Grade: F
GarageCam keeps its head on a swivel in Indy
GarageCam host Matthew Dillner takes you through the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as drivers gear up for the Lily Diabetes 250.