Get the content from the wild wreck at Daytona to future safety measures July 5: Austin Dillon crashes at the Coke Zero 400 The dramatic final lap in the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola ended with a dangerous wreck involving Austin Dillon . The No. 3 was caught in a massive multi-car accident just after the field was taking the checkered flag. Dillon, surprisingly, walked away just fine but said he was prepared to "be really sore.'' " Read the full story July 5: Austin Dillon in his own words on Daytona crash After much talk about Dillon’s wreck at Daytona , he finally was able to give a firsthand account of the accident and let everyone know that he was going to be just fine, physically and mentally. Austin was more concerned about the fans in the stands who were affected by the wreck. " Read the full story July 5: Daytona president responds to wreck: 'The fence worked' Daytona International Speedway president, Joie Chitwood III, told reporters that following the Austin Dillon wreck, 13 spectators had to be seen by medical personnel. Chitwood said that, in terms of safety procedures, "we'll learn from it, we'll analyze it, and we'll round up our engineering team and see if there's any additional things we can learn to get better the next time." " Read the full story July 6: Johnson: 'I'm shocked [he's] even alive' See Jimmie Johnson talk about being surprised Austin Dillon wasn’t seriously injured during a big wreck at Daytona . " Watch the video July 6: Drivers react to dramatic wreck in Daytona finish Watch Denny Hamlin , Jimmie Johnson and Landon Cassill talk about the big crash on the final lap of the Coke Zero 400 . " Watch their reactions July 6: France responds to Daytona wreck: 'Working to make racing safer and better' Brian France spoke to SiriusXM Radio the Monday following the Daytona wreck stating that NASCAR is taking all precautionary measures possible. He said that NASCAR is working on solutions to avoid similar crashes in the future, at the organization's R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina. " Read the full story July 6: Ives breaks down moments after Dillon's wreck See exclusive footage of Austin Dillon ’s scary crash and listen to Greg Ives break down the moments following, as as the No. 88 crew rushed to the No. 3 car's aid. " Watch his interview July 7: Ty Dillon 's reaction to his brother's wild wreck Austin Dillon discusses his brother, Ty’s, reaction to the last-lap wreck at Daytona . " Hear what he said July 7: Austin Dillon : 'You feel like Superman' Two days after the crash, Austin Dillon said that he was holding up well and feeling good. He said that he had seen the video multiple times and seen the replays. "It’s a wicked crash," he said. " Read the full story July 7: No Bull: Dillion explains post-wreck gesture Austin Dillon had quite the grand entrance upon exiting his car after his emotional Daytona wreck and it left the public puzzled. He later explained his questionable gesture as a tribute to Lane Frost, who Dillon described as "one of the best bull riders of all time." " Read the full story July 7: O'Donnell: NASCAR looking at Dillon's car NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's "The Morning Drive" and said that Dillon’s car and parts were at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, where they were under investigation. " Read the full story July 8: Junior responds to Austin's crash: 'It's an awful feeling' Despite winning the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola, Dale Earnhardt Jr . was more concerned about Austin Dillon than he was about celebrating in Vctory Lane. Junior admitted to being on the verge of tears the night of the wreck and wanted to make sure that everyone affected was OK. " Read the full story July 8: 88 crew recalls frenzy to check on Dillon Not only was Dale Earnhardt Jr . preoccupied with making sure that Austin was OK after the wreck but the entire No. 88 team was, as well. Junior’s team didn’t hold the typical post-race win celebration, but reacted with concern and worried emotions. " Read the full story
Michigan International Speedway employee for 27 years dies at 55 RELATED: Response to fire allowed NASCAR to finish race Duane Barnes, who drove the jet dryer that caught fire after contact with Juan Pablo Montoya during the 2012 Daytona 500 , passed away on Tuesday at age 55. For the past 27 years, Barnes worked at Michigan International Speedway, serving as chief "UNO 1" jet dryer operator, fabricator and heavy equipment operator. He also served as a jet dryer operator at other International Speedway Corporation tracks. With 40 laps to go in the Great American Race three years ago, Barnes was drying the track against the Turn 3 wall during a caution period when a mechanical malfunction on the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing (now known as Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet) saw Montoya veer into the rear of the dryer. Following evaluation at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida, Barnes was released. Two days after the 2012 accident, MIS issued a statement on his behalf. "I appreciate everyone for taking the time to write, call and ask how I am," Barnes said. "I am OK and I am amazed at how many people have wished me well. I am also glad Juan Montoya is OK, and thank him for his concern." An avid NASCAR fan and hunter, Barnes also enjoyed farming and gardening. He is survived by his wife, two children, four step-children, 14 grandchildren, his mother, two brothers, one sister, two nephews and one niece. On Barnes' passing, Michigan International Speedway President Roger Curtis issued the following statement: "Our condolences are with Duane's family and friends. Duane was a trusted, respected and most important part of our MIS family and the NASCAR community for almost 30 years, and we will miss him tremendously. We're a tight group, and I can only hope the wonderful memories of Duane will help comfort us and his family during this difficult time."
Hendrick driver gives honest assessment of where organization is right now RELATED: Complete lineup for Sunday's race " See all 43 paint schemes LONG POND, Pa. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . is the only driver other than Kyle Busch to win one of the past five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. However, the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is aware that the four-team organization he calls home has been a bit off in recent weeks, especially compared to that of Joe Gibbs Racing , in its first year of fielding four cars. "I think you got to be honest with yourself," Earnhardt Jr. said Friday at Pocono. "The Gibbs guys have found more speed. They look like over the last couple of weeks to be a lot stronger and that we're not on top of the mountain anymore, by ourselves anymore at least. They found some speed and we need to combat that with speed of our own." In the past five races, JGR has four wins (all by Busch) and nine top fives. During that same stretch, Hendrick has just one win and three top fives (Earnhardt won at Daytona and has another top-five finish). And since that win at Daytona , Hendrick Motorsports as an organization has led just two laps in the past three races, while JGR has led 330. "It's business as usual as far as I can see," Earnhardt said. "We definitely understand when we don't perform well. Last week was frustrating. I don't think we've been too thrilled over the last month about how things have gone for us. From Rick (Hendrick) on down, you get the impression that things need to be better and everyone needs to work harder. "We have meetings every Tuesday. We had that meeting with the team and then we have a meeting that all the drivers and the crew chiefs are together, Rick's there. We have that meeting every Tuesday and everybody, whether we are all running great, we talk about how to get better. And if we aren't running well at all, we talk about how to get better. Even when things are going good, you see areas where you need to keep working. Because you know it cycles in this sport." Things do indeed cycle around. Last season, Hendrick won 13 races to JGR's two. And this season both organizations have six wins. As things stand now, if Busch can get into the top 30 in points by the regular-season finale at Richmond, JGR will likely send all four of its drivers into the Chase. And while Jimmie Johnson and Earnhardt have clinched spots in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne are still looking for that elusive win, although each hold spots in the provisional Chase Grid based on their point positions. "It's a never-ending pursuit to build the fastest race car week in, week out," Earnhardt said. "And it looks like right now it's a mad scramble to get ready for the Chase. I'd love to be sitting here three-tenths faster than everybody and fighting only my teammates for the win. We need to work a little harder to get a little more and be ready for the Chase to be able to get out there and compete. "It definitely looks like our competition has improved and so I think we can be honest with ourselves. We definitely aren't where we want to be. But I've seen it before. These guys are working on it every single day trying to find that speed and make that difference back up and put ourselves back to have the advantage on the straightaways and in the corners. I'm not too worried about it. We got the best resources. We got the best bossman, and he doesn't quit and he doesn't settle for second. He's in there pushing everybody everyday." The sport's most popular driver will look to turn the recent fortunes of the organization around on Sunday in the Windows 10 400 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) at Pocono Raceway where he qualified 15th. Junior has a favorable history in recent years at Pocono, completing the season sweep of both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events last year, and has four top fives in his past five races here. In June, he finished 11th in a race won by Martin Truex Jr , which snapped a five-race win streak at Pocono for Hendrick. After finishing the opening practice session in 14th place, Earnhardt was a bit disappointed but said the team learned what was needed for race trim. "We will see what we have (Saturday)," said Earnhardt. "I'm really anxious to get ourselves back into race trim for those practices (Saturday) and see how we can sort our stuff out and see where we really are. We've always run good here, there shouldn't be any issues. We showed up with some issues. I'm anxious to get to work on the car and see where we can figure out where we are going to be and be competitive." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
New at-track shopping experience begins at Pocono RELATED: See photos of the new merchandise experience LONG POND, Pa. -- A new era in NASCAR shopping has officially launched with the new "Trackside Superstore." A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday at Pocono Raceway officially ushered in the new retail model as the sport moves away from merchandise haulers and into an at-track shopping experience that is faster and features more selections for fans. Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick , Pocono June race winner Martin Truex Jr ., Ross Tannenbaum, president of Fanatics Authentic, Brandon Igdalsky, president of Pocono Raceway, and Blake Davidson, vice president of Licensing and Consumer Products for NASCAR, spoke before fans rushed in to experience the store. Vice Chairman of NASCAR Mike Helton also checked out the "Trackside Superstore." The "Trackside Superstore," which is run by Fanatics, totals 60,000 square feet, has specific sections for most drivers and carries $2.5 million in retail inventory, while also carrying a 50 percent increase in product assortment for most of the drivers. There also are dedicated specialty shops for ladies, kids, collectibles and tailgate. There are still some select haulers, most notably for Team Penske and Brad Keselowski merchandise. "This NASCAR superstore is like nothing I've ever seen," Igdalsky told the crowd. "I'm so excited that we were able to launch this year at Pocono. NASCAR has done a great job of enhancing the fan experience, and this is just the next level." The ease of the shopper experience at the "Trackside Superstore" was something that immediately struck Truex. "I'm super excited about this," Truex said. "I can't tell you how many questions I've had this year on Twitter just about, 'Hey, where do I get that hat? Where do I get that shirt?' This makes it easy. Everybody goes in there, finds their favorite driver, finds what they're looking for very easily." He later jokingly added that, "I feel like it's welcome to 2015 everybody." Harvick echoed Truex's thoughts, while also adding his own perspective from when Kevin Harvick Incorporated handled his merchandise. "You come in and walk through your section and you realize how simple the process is to go about finding your driver and checkout," Harvick said. "The thing I noticed the most was just how easily you can see everything and how there might have been a whole bunch of products before that you didn't know where on the trailers. It's definitely like Martin said, it's welcome to 2015. ... It's a huge step for everybody. "Having the experience that we had running our own merchandise stuff for several years at KHI and now seeing this, it's really something that's really neat. You understand the undertaking it takes to get to this point." Davidson indicated this has been a year-long project, from seeking proposals to revealing Fanatics as the selection to running the business in January to today's opening. "We've been working on this a long time," Davidson said. "And we walked in and saw what they put together. Fanatics has done a tremendous job. It's really blown us away, the breadth of product. The ability of the fans to touch and feel the product, which we knew they would be able to do. There's so much here, there's so much new product here that we've never had a track before. I think people are really going to be excited when they get here." Cayce and Mark Votek have been coming to Pocono for the past 10 years. Cayce, a fan of Denny Hamlin , liked that even with the new setup there was still a feel of familiarity. "I was a little skeptical at first," Cayce said. "I do like that I can touch the stuff first. That's actually really cool, probably dangerous for me because now I just grab it all. I know all of the people from Denny's hauler because I go there all the time and I actually ran into one, so I like that they're still here. There's still some familiarity. So far, so good." In addition to being able to touch and feel the products, Tannenbaum touted the reduced wait times fans will have to buy merchandise. The Fanatics executive estimated that in peak times the wait at a hauler was between 45 minutes and an hour. However, he acknowledged that this new model wasn't without his challenges when compared to running merchandise at other events like the NHL Winter Classic or the SEC Championship Game. "From a process, this is absolutely the most challenging one we've had and I think will ever have," Tannenbaum said. "When you think about it, go set up the Super Bowl and then break it down 38 times and set up again the next week. That's what makes it the most challenging. At Fanatics, it was an exciting challenge. It was 'go for a solution to this and make this work.' And what we presented to NASCAR and where we ended up today is very different because we learned so much." Tannenbaum added that Fanatics has three different tent structures, two different sets of fixtures to hold merchandise and one set of inventory for the trackside superstore. Next weekend's race at Watkins Glen will have a slightly different setup and a team is already up there to set it up. A team from Pocono will drive to Watkins Glen when the Tricky Triangle race weekend ends to build the setup out with the inventory. "What you are seeing here is going to be the standard superstore for all tracks," Tannenbaum said. "What is going to happen is there will be more locations and satellite locations at tracks that do either more revenue or less revenue, wider tracks. I use Richmond as the example. This store at Richmond, everybody walks into that front, it's pretty straightforward. At Daytona or the really big tracks, you are going to have to have multiple locations to meet the consumers' demand. We are going to look at what revenues are at the track, what the flow of traffic is and make sure that we can manage all of that. But this will be the central point for all of the stores." And while the new setup may take some time for fans to get used to, Truex said this was a good change for the long run. "I know a lot of NASCAR fans are worried about things changing, but I assure them this is a change for the better and I think it looks great." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
KBM trucks close behind in P2, P3 RELATED: Full practice results Defending race winner Austin Dillon snuck up the leaderboard late Friday afternoon to top Pocono Raceway's sole Camping World Truck Series practice ahaead of Saturday's Pocono Mountains 150 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Dillon's best speed was a blistering 166.482 mph. Rookie Erik Jones was off Dillon's pace at 165.612 mph, followed closely by his boss and mentor, Kyle Busch , at 165.023 mph. Saturday's race will be Busch's first Truck Series start of the season, after a crash in the XFINITY Series opener at Daytona left him with injuries that sidelined him for several months. Timothy Peters (164.087 mph) was next on the leaderboard, followed by Johnny Sauter (164.045 mph) to round out the top five. Reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick failed to enter the top 10, placing 12th on the charts at 163.245 mph. The practice was halted and the red flag displayed with a little more than 30 minutes left in the 2-hour, 25-minute session when Jennifer Jo Cobb 's No. 10 truck lost an engine and started billowing smoke. The green flag for Keystone Light Pole Qualifying drops at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday on FOX Sports 1. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver acknowledges challenges involved with one-car organization LONG POND, Pa. -- Eight weeks ago, Martin Truex Jr . snapped his 69-race winless streak in very convincing fashion, leading 97 laps at Pocono Raceway on his way to winning the Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 for his third career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win. Now, he is back at the "Tricky Triangle" for Sunday's Windows 10 400 (NBCSN/Live Extra, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and the driver of No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet is looking for the season sweep at Pocono. "It feels a little different coming back this time for sure. It feels good. It was definitely a huge weekend for us, for all of us; for me, my team, for Barney (Visser, team owner) and just everybody that has put so much effort into Furniture Row Racing and the No. 78 car. "Hopefully, we can repeat on what we did last time. Obviously, it’s not going to be easy, but I feel like we are up for the challenge." Truex is looking to become the eighth driver to sweep both events in the same season. His good friend, Dale Earnhardt Jr ., became the seventh driver to sweep at Pocono last year. He will not be going for the sweep in the same car he took to Victory Lane in June as he has a new Chevrolet for this race. The New Jersey native indicated there is a little more pressure on this return trip just because they were so dialed in during the previous race at the 2.5-mile track. "You definitely feel a little more pressure just because we were so good here last time that you don’t want to screw it up. But at the same time, again, the track is a little bit different and everybody is getting better. I think the Gibbs Racing cars have proven that in a couple of weeks’ time you can make some really big gains. I think those guys are really the cars to beat right now. We’ve got to continue to work hard and try to get our stuff better and try to again get up front and start leading laps again and put ourselves in position to win again." Truex followed the June win with a third-place finish in the rain-shortened race at Michigan, but wrecks took Truex out of Sonoma (42nd-place) and Daytona (38th). He followed that up with a pair of top-20 finishes at Kentucky (17th) and Loudon (12th) before notching his sixth top-five result of the season with a fourth-place finish at Indianapolis last week. "It's been a little bit up and down here lately, but I feel like we still have speed in our racecars. We really haven’t been to any tracks where we feel like we have really performed well at. No 1.5-miles, a place like Dover where we led the most laps, places that I tend to run really well at. I think we have some more good tracks coming up. I feel like we still have that momentum, we just kind of had some bad luck along the way." Truex acknowledged that the different rules packages unveiled in the middle of the season were not favorable to a single-car team like Furniture Row. A low downforce package was run at Kentucky last month and will be used again at Darlington in September, while a high-drag package was used at Indianapolis last week and will be used again at Michigan in two weeks. The team started 2015 strong due to its quick grasp on the 2015 rules package as Truex became the first driver since Richard Petty (in 1969) with 14 top 10s in his first 15 races of the season. "We really geared up this season and put a lot of emphasis on building our cars and focusing on the rules package we thought we were going to have. A small team like ours can't make those big changes and go after a new rules package quite as fast as, say, the bigger teams. "We really put all our eggs in that basket of 'hey these are the '15 rules.' We developed our whole car around it over the winter and going into the start of the season. We really hope that it continues down that path. At this point we are not really sure what is going to happen. It’s definitely a difficult time for the teams for sure. "A lot of money being spent on wind tunnel time and aero stuff and just trying to figure those things out, but at the end of the day we don’t even know what we are going to have yet," Truex said. "So, it's definitely difficult, especially for the smaller teams to be able to do that." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Tyler Reddick emerges as new Truck Series points leader RELATED: Full race results " Series standings LONG POND, Pa. -- As Kyle Busch sat sidelined with a broken right leg and left foot from February until May, the prevailing question was "When will he win again?" Now it's "Will he ever lose?" In a race that began with major drama and ended with three overtime periods, Busch took the checkered flag in Saturday's Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono Raceway, winning in his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start since returning from the Feb. 21 accident at Daytona that kept him out of action. It was the fourth straight NASCAR national series victory for the driver of his own No. 51 Toyota. Busch won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on July 19 at New Hampshire and swept last weekend's XFINITY and Sprint Cup events at Indianapolis. On Sunday he will try for his fourth straight Cup victory in the Windows 10 400 at Pocono (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). With his fuel cell running low, Busch had to survive three straight attempts at green-white-checkered-flag finishes, with accidents interrupting the first two. Finally, on Lap 69 -- 22.5 miles beyond the scheduled distance of 150 miles -- Busch crossed the finish line 1.225 seconds ahead of runner-up Kevin Harvick . The victory was Busch's first at Pocono in any series, and it marked the 10th straight year he has one at least one race in each of NASCAR's top three touring series. "It's great to win and put Toyota in Victory Lane," Busch said. "It's my first Pocono win as well, so that was cool." Busch was happy he got to watch the last few restarts in his rear view mirror, rather than through his windshield. "They weren't too bad from my seat, but it looked like, beyond me, it was crazy back there," Busch said. "I'm glad we were in a really good position." Behind Harvick, Tyler Reddick ran third and snatched the series lead from two-time defending champion Matt Crafton , who was embroiled in the early drama. Crafton and Brad Keselowski , Reddick's teammate and truck owner, were racing in close quarters on Lap 5 when Harvick took them three-wide to the inside. In what appeared to be a no-fault accident, the left-front of Keselowski's Ford snagged the right rear quarter of Crafton's Toyota. Both trucks smacked the outside wall. After repairs, Crafton finished 28th, 56 laps in arrears. While his crew was working on the Tundra, Crafton fumed, blaming Keselowski for the wreck to the point of accusing the 2012 Sprint Cup champion of deliberately trying to help Reddick win the Truck Series title. "I guess maybe he wants to win a championship with that 19 truck (Reddick)," Crafton said, vowing to prevent a Reddick championship from happening. "That's your Cup champion? That's pretty much an idiot." Keselowski dismissed Crafton's comments, asserting he wouldn’t want to win a title by wrecking an opponent. "I don’t know if I came down (the track) or he came up," Keselowski said. "It’s unfortunate ...These trucks are expensive, and they cost a lot to fix. I feel badly for Matt and his team, but I don't really know what (I could have done) differently." RELATED: Keselowski, Crafton lock horns Reddick leaves Pocono with an 11-point lead over Crafton. Polesitter Erik Jones , who battled Busch, his team owner, for most of the afternoon but was the victim of late contact that caused the fourth of five cautions, rallied to finish 10th and is third in the standings, 16 points behind Reddick. Cameron Hayley posted a career-best fourth-place finish, one spot ahead of last year's Pocono winner, Austin Dillon . Johnny Sauter , Timothy Peters , Matt Tifft , Daniel Hemric and Jones completed the top 10. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Adjustments made for Coke Zero 400 weekend during $400 million makeover RELATED: Spotters relocated at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Consider it a sneak preview. When NASCAR teams and fans show up for this weekend's Coke Zero 400 at the sport's most iconic track, they will see a Daytona International Speedway in the final and crucial stages of its $400 million makeover, called Daytona Rising. From impressive new grandstands and modern amenities for fans to improved SAFER barriers for the competitors, it's all full throttle ahead. "People will notice just how immense it is,'' Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood said of the remodeled and redesigned outer façade and entry that will greet fans. "It's gigantic, and it's cool. The changes are so visible and people can see it and that's what's going to excite everybody, that the opening is just around the corner, a short seven months to get there." Fans will notice what's been made over, and what's in the process. Three of the five massive new entryways called "fan injectors" will be up and running with new escalators, elevators, concession stands and restrooms. While there will be only 50,000 grandstand seats for Sunday's Coke Zero 400 , they are all the new wider, more comfy versions. And 10,000 of those -- located in Turn 4 -- have never been used before. Drivers such as Jamie McMurray , Austin Dillon and Joey Logano , who have previewed the various stages of construction and sampled the view from the grandstands, have all impressively declared, "there is no bad seat." RELATED: Logano visits Daytona Rising, honors military The press box and spotters stand will be smaller, temporary versions of themselves as work continues on a new tower. Timing and scoring will move across the track to the Daytona 500 Club in the infield. And the green flag will wave from a spotters stand at the start/finish line that stands alone against a backdrop of grandstand construction. "It won't be the most pretty Daytona International Speedway that we've ever had, but it's just a step in the process to get us to the finished project in January of 2016,'' Chitwood said. "So I know our fans will work with us. They understand this was the most critical window to get things done. "So the Coke Zero will be a little bit of 'pardon our dust' opportunity, but it also shows just how much work we've gotten done so far." 2016 Daytona 500: Buy tickets now Equally as significant as the improved fan experience is the work completed for the competitors. While the famed 2.5-mile superspeedway surface remains the same, DIS has installed additional SAFER barriers, as promised, following Kyle Busch 's bad crash in February's season-opening XFINITY Series race at Daytona . Specifically the barriers were installed on the inside of Turn 1 and an additional 20,000 square feet of asphalt was added to extend the skid pad. "I can say really for all tracks, this is starting that cycle of repeat visits so Daytona has really stepped up and talked to all of the competitors about where you'll see changes heading in for this year with the goal of '16, it'll be SAFER everywhere,'' NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday. "We feel really good about the progress that's been made and the changes you'll see at each track going forward where there will be some solutions in place. And then in '16, you'll see more and more of it. "The dialogue with the competitors has been terrific in this regard and certainly something that we said needed to happen, and we're happy to see what's taken place, especially at Daytona , leading into this weekend." The Coke Zero 400 marks the traditional mid-point of the NASCAR season, the first time teams return to tracks for the second half of the schedule. And this year, that means a return of NBC as a broadcast partner with Sunday's race marking the first race telecast for the network in a 10-year deal (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). RELATED: All you need to know about NBC Chitwood says DAYTONA Rising in on schedule and on budget for completion in time for Daytona Speedweeks 2016 and promises that while the facility has been transformed, the history of the speedway is intact and the intense excitement produced on the track remains unchanged. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Catch up quickly for the Coke Zero 400 (Sunday, NBC) RELATED: Full lineup for Sunday's race " See all 43 cars that will be on track What: Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola Where: Daytona International Speedway, 2.5-mile oval in Daytona Beach, Florida When: Sunday, July 5, 11 p.m. ET TV/Radio: NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Distance: 160 laps, 400 miles Pit road speed: 55 mph Caution car speed: 70 mph Fuel window: 36 laps Competition caution: Lap 25 On the front row: Two-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr . will start from the pole at Daytona for only the second time in his career (he won the pole for the 2011 Daytona 500 ) after bad weather cancelled qualifying Saturday night and the field was set by first practice speeds, per the NASCAR rule book. Austin Dillon , who won the 2014 Daytona 500 pole position, will start alongside Earnhardt. RELATED: Dale Jr. wins Coors Light Pole at Daytona Fastest in practice: Earnhardt's pace-setting 202.284-mph lap in Friday's opening practice was good enough to put his No. 88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet on the pole. Dillon, Clint Bowyer , Paul Menard and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top five. Danica Patrick was fastest in the second practice, but will start 28th -- her best effort in the first practice. Last year's winner: Aric Almirola gave team owner Richard Petty's famous No. 43 its first win on the Daytona high banks since 1984 after rain forced the event to be called 48 laps short of its 160-lap scheduled finish. On the line: With only 10 races remaining to set the 16-car Chase field, several top-shelf drivers are still trying to earn their first win of the season and automatic entry into the Chase playoff. Preseason favorites such as Clint Bowyer , three-time Cup champ Tony Stewart , Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Jamie McMuray and Kyle Larson and Hendrick drivers Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne are among the A-list names still looking for a victory. RELATED: Which winless driver has best Daytona stats? Farewell: This will be the last Sprint Cup Series start at Daytona for three-time Daytona 500 winner Gordon, who is retiring at the end of the season from his famed No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Daytona International Speedway is home to Gordon's very first NASCAR victory -- a win in the 1993 Daytona 500 qualifying race in his first start. Gordon's track record here is among the all-time bests with three wins in the summer Coke Zero 400 to go with his three Daytona 500 wins, five Budweiser Duel victories, two wins in the Sprint Unlimited and a victory in the 1998 IROC race. He will start his No. 24 Axalta Chevy 23rd in his final start. Overdue: Stewart may be enduring the toughest season start of his storied career, but Daytona has been a good place for Stewart with the exception of the Daytona 500 . He has 19 career wins here -- multiple victories in every race he's entered outside the 500. He leads all active drivers with four wins in the Coke Zero 400 and is the only active driver to score back-to-back wins in the race (2005-06). And he has led more laps (369) in this race than any other active driver. Although he will start the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops Chevy from the 31st position, he was fourth-fastest in the second practice session Friday. He won this race in 2012 after starting 42nd. Stewart is ranked 26th in the championship standings with only one top-10 finish on the season. RELATED: Stewart has a shot at Daytona Nuts and Bolts: A whopping 73 percent of all Daytona summer races have been won from a top-10 starting position. ... If pole sitter Earnhardt Jr. stays in front of the field for 46 laps Sunday he will have led 8,000 laps in his Sprint Cup career. ... Kurt Busch has the longest Daytona winless streak on the starting grid with an 0-for-28 record here. He said it: "I come into restrictor plate races feeling like we have very fast race cars and that we have a chance to come out of here with a great finish, if not a win, as much or more so as the field. And at the same time, that thought and confidence is followed right up with, 'When was the last time I finished one of these races?'" -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet) MORE: Gordon, Earnhardt Jr. on the drivers' council FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Project completion set for 2016; Chevrolet official partner of Daytona 500 2016 Daytona 500: Buy tickets now DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Two American racing icons have further cemented a long relationship with one another as Daytona International Speedway formally welcomed Chevrolet as a long-term partner in the Daytona Rising redevelopment project. The announcement was made Wednesday at the speedway, which is undergoing a $400 million makeover. The partnership includes naming rights for Chevrolet on one of the speedway's five fan "injectors" -- a massive 20,000 square foot entry area spanning four concourse levels where Chevrolet will be able to place fan engagement activities, and new vehicle displays. Additionally Chevrolet will have branding rights on one of the track's new football field-sized "neighborhoods" adjacent to the injector. The neighborhoods -- located throughout the new front stretch -- will feature multiple large video screens, WiFi access and retail and dining areas. "Chevrolet's commitment to racing originated more than a century ago with Louis Chevrolet and remains strong today as we solidify our presence at the 'The World Center of Racing' by partnering with International Speedway Corporation, Daytona International Speedway and the Daytona Rising project," said the President of General Motors North America Alan Batey. International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy spoke at the announcement, also stressing the strong history-rich bond between the companies. "Chevrolet has been an integral part of the ISC family for many years, and we look forward to continuing our strong relationship,'' Kennedy said. In addition to the naming rights on the speedway, Chevrolet will receive official pace car rights in select years and serve as an official partner of the Daytona 500 . This week's news comes as the facility prepares to host the July 5 Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race. The Daytona Rising project is on scheduled to be completed in time for the 2016 Daytona Speedweeks.