RELATED: Darlington throwback schemes " Fired up for throwback race It's 1.366 miles of character-testing asphalt; a track so demanding it required not one nickname, but two. The Lady in Black. Too Tough to Tame. Welcome to Darlington Raceway , host for six and a half decades of one of the most anticipated, most difficult events on the NASCAR schedule. The Bojangles' Southern 500 returns to what many believe is its rightful place on the Sprint Cup Series schedule, Labor Day weekend, with history in tow. That history will be on display as the track and various teams adhere to a throwback theme, part of a five-year program that launches this weekend. "I remember that 1968 Southern win that was on the old (layout); I wouldn't take anything for that win and then went on to win five Southern 500s," NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Cale Yarborough said recently. "I just have so many fond memories of racing here. Even though I had rather win here than anywhere else -- because it's home, it's the first superspeedway -- I absolutely hated to drive this place. It was just so tough to drive. But I still would rather win here than anywhere." Yarborough, a three-time champion and member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, hails from nearby Timmonsville, South Carolina. He made his first Darlington start in 1957 as a teenager. More than 20 years later, he became the first driver to win five Southern 500 titles. "I was definitely in over my head," Yarborough said of that first start, which came with car owner Bob Weatherly. "But I came back and won five times and that record stood for 30 years. When Jeff Gordon tied my record (in 2002), I told him, 'Jeff, you've got a long way to go son. Because you never won one on that old Darlington race track.' "This is a unique place. There's not another one like it. I think any driver would love to have a win at Darlington on his resume." • • • Fast Fact I: In 1965, Ned Jarrett won the Southern 500 by a whopping 14 laps, the largest margin of victory ever recorded in NASCAR's premier series. • • • The story goes that after purchasing the land for the track, owner Harold Brasington was instructed that he wasn't to disturb a nearby minnow pond when constructing NASCAR's first paved speedway. What resulted was a layout that features two vastly different ends of the facility, giving the track a somewhat egg-shaped appearance. The unique design, along with the application of what was known as "bear grease," resulted in yet another piece of NASCAR terminology -- the Darlington stripe. Cars would often ricochet off the wall as they skirted along the very edge of the outside racing groove. Because of laws that restricted certain types of commerce on Sunday, the Southern 500 was contested on Labor Day, the first Monday of September, annually from 1950 through 1983. "I guess what they had in South Carolina at the time were what they called Blue laws. We couldn't run on Sunday," Dale Inman, winner of seven championships as a crew chief for Richard Petty and eight championships overall, said. "We'd practice three or four days, practice on Saturday and then we didn't do anything on Sunday. Then we'd come back and run Labor Day. "Golly, while we were gone they'd paint the track in bear grease, so when we started the race it was just a different world for awhile." The appeal was obvious. Not only was Darlington the first big paved track in NASCAR's realm, but the purse in the early years was equally impressive as well. "The first time I went there I think was 1951," Inman said. "Lord, in those years they started them three abreast. They didn't use the banking, or very few used it. It was just unheard of at that time." Petty won three times at Darlington, including the 1967 Southern 500. But the race that stands out in Inman's mind came three years later in the spring event. The track, already known as one of the most treacherous on the circuit, lived up to its billing when Petty's blue No. 43 Plymouth came off Turn 4, broke loose and struck the inside pit wall with such force that it destroyed the concrete barrier. Petty's car flipped violently before coming to rest on its roof. "When we got to him, (the car) was ... in the middle of the race track and cars were still going by on both sides," Inman said. "We unhooked the seatbelt, he kind of came down pretty hard on the roof because he was laying upside down. "Until he groaned we didn't think he was still with us. But he did groan so we knew he was OK. The big thing was his shoulder was out of place. It knocked him out." Darlington favored no one. Not even NASCAR's soon to be King. • • • Fast Fact II: In 1976, David Pearson won NASCAR's version of the Triple Crown by capturing the Daytona 500 , the World 600 and Southern 500. • • • "Bear grease" is no longer a part of track preparation, but the Darlington stripe remains very much in evidence. When track officials moved the start/finish line to what had previously been the backstretch in 1997, the difficulty in navigating the cantankerous old circuit remained unchanged. Turn 1 didn't become any easier simply because it was now Turn 3. "You don't go to race tracks ... going, 'Man, I've got to beat this track,' " Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr . said. "The track's not even a factor, not even a part of the conversation. ... But when you go to Darlington, the track is a competitor. The track becomes as big of a challenge as trying to beat the next guy in front of you or outrunning your peers. "Darlington is one of the few ovals that can reach out and grab you if you're not paying attention or being careful. Most of the tracks we go to you won't really run into the wall or spin out unless you have a failure on the car. Here, if you don't watch every corner, every little thing you do ... that challenge of it, how hard it is and the odds are so bad to come here and get a win, you're up against so much more. I think that's what adds to the appreciation for what it means to win here." • • • Fast Fact III: The movie "Days of Thunder" starring Tom Cruise debuts in 1990. Cruise's character, Cole Trickle, scores his first NASCAR win at Darlington Raceway . Naturally. • • • At the close of the 1984 season, then series sponsor RJ Reynolds, through its Winston brand, unveiled what was known as the Winston Million, a program that offered a $1 million bonus to any driver winning three of the series "Big Four" events -- the Daytona 500 , the Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway , the Coca-Cola 600 and the Southern 500. Previously, only two drivers had won three of the four races in a single season -- LeeRoy Yarbrough (1969) and Pearson (1976). In the first year of the Winston Million program, Bill Elliott came to Darlington having won two of the first three, at Daytona and Talladega. In the Southern 500, the future Hall of Famer had to nimbly avoid a spin by Dale Earnhardt and a smoking Yarborough entry in the latter stages of the race to seal the victory. It was a career-defining moment for the Dawsonville, Georgia native, earning him the nickname "Million Dollar Bill." It wasn't until 1997 before another driver collected the bonus, again with a victory in the Southern 500. Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon held off a tremendous charge by Jeff Burton in the final two laps to pocket the bonus in the final year of the program. • • • Fast Fact IV : Johnny Mantz won only one NASCAR premier series event -- the inaugural Southern 500 held Sept. 4, 1950. The race featured a 75-car starting lineup and took more than six hours to complete. • • • Former crew chief Ray Evernham guided Gordon to four consecutive Southern 500 wins from 1995 through 1998. The most memorable win? "The million dollar win," Evernham said without hesitation. "Because we did not have a car to win that day. "We won that as a team and driver; we kept working on the car. I think we made 16 pit stops that day. "The car was basically destroyed -- front clip bent, rear clip bent, door bars ... we just stayed after it and won that race and we really shouldn't have. But we did." Evernham won 47 races as a crew chief for Gordon, with victories coming at nearly every stop on the schedule, including Daytona , Charlotte and Indianapolis. But Darlington, he said, holds a special place. "I love this place," he said. "It's still my favorite track. It challenged me. I could make a difference as a chassis person -- that's different from being a crew chief. "I loved making the car handle. The springs, the shocks, getting all that stuff right. You could make changes here. This is like a damn dirt track. You have to chase it. You chase it all day long -- 500 miles, five hours sometimes, you chase this race track. "You had to have a tough driver and a great pit crew. Our wins here to me are some of our best wins because we really won those races as a group. Jeff had to be the best, I had to be the best, the crew had to be the best. This place, to run as hard and as long as you do here, everything had to be just right. And when I look back at Darlington, they're some of the most satisfying wins that I had as a crew chief." MORE: Photos, facts about Darlington
Meet Todd, Official NASCAR Fan Council member of the month Name: Todd Current City: Fayetteville, North Carolina Member since: 2010 Getting to know Todd Q. Why did you join the Official NASCAR Fan Council? "I am very passionate about NASCAR and have been a fan for over 30 years. I joined the NASCAR Fan Council to have a voice and help improve this sport in any way I can." Q. What comes to mind when you think of NASCAR? What's your favorite NASCAR memory? "I am a fan of several sports and I think that NASCAR, by far, is the best sport in the world. It is filled with passionate fans and drivers. I like the fact that drivers, whether good or bad, show their passion and emotions and NASCAR allows them to. "I have attended many races over the years and have many great memories but my greatest memory was my very first Daytona 500 in 2007. It is a day I will never forget. I have continued to go every year since." Q: Do you have a favorite in any of the following categories? Driver: " Austin Dillon " Track: " Daytona " Memorabilia: "I have a ton of memorabilia but my two favorite items are a Dale Jarrett autographed diecast and an autographed Austin Dillon hat (I met him last year). My picture even made the NASCAR website from that one." Q: If you could go to any NASCAR race/track, where would you go? "A night race at Bristol" Q: What do you like to do in your free time? "I like to hunt, fish, watch NASCAR racing, and spend time with my family. We love to travel." Q: Tell us about your family. Do you have children and/or pets? "I am happily married and have two children." Q: What's your dream car? "I would have to say a Corvette." From all of us at NASCAR, we thank todd for His continued support and look forward to hearing from him in 2015! Look for Todd on the Official NASCAR Fan Council page on NASCAR.COM.
Jennifer Jo Cobb wrecked during Friday's final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park , and FOX's TV cameras caught her pulling a cell phone out of her mangled No. 10 Chevrolet. NASCAR hasn't allowed drivers to have cell phones in their vehicles since 2012 -- when Brad Keselowski tweeted during a red flag in the Daytona 500 . The sanctioning body typically announces penalties on Tuesday, so we could learn if Cobb will face sanctions at that time. Cobb was fined and placed on probation earlier this year when she walked onto the racing surface at Dover International Speedway following an on-track incident.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 31, 2015) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina going into the Bojangles’ Southern 500 on September 6 (7 p.m. ET on NBC). DARLINGTON-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ortho Ford) · Two wins, three top fives, six top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 12.800, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 10.597, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 105.7, fifth-best · 296 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 160.175, fifth-fastest · 2642 Laps in the Top 15 (71.7), seventh-most · 326 Quality Passes, second-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota) · One win, two top fives, six top 10s · Average finish of 13.600, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 8.995, third-best · Driver Rating of 106.1, fourth-best · 236 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 160.348, third-fastest · 3134 Laps in the Top 15 (85.1), third-most · 374 Quality Passes, series-most Dale Earnhardt Jr (No. 88 Valvoline Chevrolet) · Four top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 11.200, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 11.404, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 94.3, eighth-best · 110 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 159.954, ninth-fastest · 2650 Laps in the Top 15 (71.9), sixth-most · 312 Quality Passes, fourth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 ARRIS Toyota) · Three top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 13.100, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 13.732, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 91.0, 12th-best · 151 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 159.807, 12th-fastest · 2262 Laps in the Top 15 (61.4), 12th-most · 287 Quality Passes, eighth-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 3M Chevrolet) · Seven wins, 19 top fives, 23 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 7.400, second-best · Average Running Position of 7.629, series-best · Driver Rating of 112.7, series-best · 262 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 160.593, series-fastest · 3356 Laps in the Top 15 (91.1), series-most · 314 Quality Passes, third-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota) · One win, four top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 6.889, series-best · Average Running Position of 8.644, second-best · Driver Rating of 107.1, second-best · 186 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 160.315, fourth-fastest · 2849 Laps in the Top 15 (86.0), second-most · 303 Quality Passes, sixth-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/ Budweiser Chevrolet) · One win, four top fives, seven top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 16.300, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 14.772, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 93.1, 10th-best · 167 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 159.885, 10th-fastest · 2531 Laps in the Top 15 (68.7), ninth-most · 267 Quality Passes, 10th-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Three wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 8.800, third-best · Average Running Position of 9.992, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 106.8, third-best · 256 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 160.443, second-fastest · 2789 Laps in the Top 15 (75.7), fourth-most · 291 Quality Passes, seventh-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 HendrickRideAlong.com Chevrolet) · Three top fives, four top 10s; four poles · Average finish of 17.500, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 10.665, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 97.9, sixth-best · 230 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 160.069, seventh-fastest · 2597 Laps in the Top 15 (70.5), eighth-most · 233 Quality Passes, 13th-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · One win, three top fives, ten top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 10.100, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 13.487, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 93.2, ninth-best · 123 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 159.814, 11th-fastest · 2382 Laps in the Top 15 (64.7), 11th-most · 264 Quality Passes, 11th-most Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) · Seven top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.300, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 11.409, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 95.8, seventh-best · 64 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 160.086, sixth-fastest · 2778 Laps in the Top 15 (75.4), fifth-most · 259 Quality Passes, 12th-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Four top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 10.900, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 14.805, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 88.1, 13th-best · 105 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 159.791, 13th-fastest · 2153 Laps in the Top 15 (58.4), 13th-most · 311 Quality Passes, fifth-most Martin Truex Jr (No. 78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet) · One top five, three top 10s · Average finish of 13.111, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 13.116, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 92.1, 11th-best · 127 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 159.992, eighth-fastest · 2153 Laps in the Top 15 (65.0), 10th-most · 278 Quality Passes, ninth-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 10 at D arlington Raceway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 18 1 1 4 7 1 17 93.1 2 Joey Logano 6 0 0 0 2 1 23 77.9 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr 20 0 0 4 9 1 14.3 94.3 4 Brad Keselowski 6 0 0 1 2 0 14.3 84.7 5 Jimmie Johnson 16 0 3 9 12 1 8.4 106.8 6 Martin Truex Jr 9 0 0 1 3 0 13.1 92.1 7 Matt Kenseth 21 1 1 3 10 1 16 93.2 8 Kurt Busch 18 2 0 2 5 1 17.9 81.6 9 Denny Hamlin 9 0 1 4 7 0 6.9 107.1 10 Jamie McMurray 14 1 0 3 5 1 16.1 82.6 * – Based on last 10 races at Darlington Raceway (2005 – 2014). Darlington Three Year Average Finishes Of Drivers Currently 17th – 30th In The Standings Points Pos. Driver 3 Yr. Average Finish (2012 - 2014) 17 Aric Almirola 21.0 18 Kasey Kahne 20.7 19 Greg Biffle 10.0 20 Austin Dillon 11.0 21 Kyle Larson 8.0 22 Danica Patrick 27.0 23 Casey Mears 25.7 24 AJ Allmendinger 24.0 25 David Ragan 33.0 26 Sam Hornish Jr . * 0.0 27 Tony Stewart 9.0 28 Trevor Bayne * 0.0 29 Ricky Stenhouse Jr . 19.0 30 Justin Allgaier 23.0 * Sam Hornish Jr . and Trevor Bayne have not made starts in the last three seasons at Darlington in the NSCS. Statistical Advance At Darlington Raceway : History · Darlington Raceway was built as a 1.25-mile paved superspeedway in 1949-1950. · Darlington Raceway hosted the first 500-mile race in NASCAR history and the first on asphalt on Sept. 4, 1950 – 75 cars competed in the event - Curtis Turner won the pole at 82.034 mph, and the race was won by Johnny Mantz (Plymouth, 75.250 mph, 6:38:40) . · The track was re-measured to 1.375 miles in 1953. · The track was re-configured to 1.366 miles following the spring race in 1970. · The track was repaved in 1995. · The 2005 race was the first Saturday night race at Darlington. · The track was repaved again prior to the 2008 season. Starts · There have been 111 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Darlington Raceway . The 1.366-mile track has hosted the fifth most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points paying races. · 709 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway ; 428 in more than one. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Darlington with 65. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 34 starts; followed by Tony Stewart with 22. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Darlington with a 6.824. · Jeff Gordon (6.8), Ryan Newman (8.6) and Kasey Kahne (9.1) are the only active three drivers with an average starting position in the top 10. · 125 different drivers have made NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career debut at Darlington Raceway . Poles · Curtis Turner won the inaugural Coors Light Pole Award at Darlington in 1950 in an Oldsmobile with a speed of 82.034 mph. · 48 drivers have Coors Light poles at Darlington, led by David Pearson with 12. Kasey Kahne leads all active drivers with four. · Nine drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Darlington. Kasey Kahne is the only active driver with consecutive Coors Light poles (2005-2006). · David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Darlington with five (1975 - 1977). · Youngest Darlington pole winner: Kurt Busch (09/02/2001 – 23 years, 0 months, 29 days). · Oldest Darlington pole winner: David Pearson (09/06/1982 – 47 years, 8 months, 15 days). · Eight drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup pole at Darlington Raceway : Cotton Owens (1957), Fred Lorenzen (1961), Bill Elliott (1981), Ken Schrader (1987), John Andretti (1995), Kurt Busch (2001), Elliott Sadler (2003) and Clint Bowyer (2007). Wins · 47 different drivers have won at Darlington Raceway , led by David Pearson with 10. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven wins; followed by his HMS teammate Jimmie Johnson with three. · Six drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Darlington Raceway : Johnny Mantz (1950), Nelson Stacy (1961), Larry Frank (1962), Terry Labonte (1980), Lake Speed (1988) and Regan Smith (2011). · Youngest Darlington winner: Kyle Busch (05/10/2008 – 23 years, 0 months, 8 days). · Oldest Darlington winner: Harry Gant (09/01/1991 – 51 years, 7 months, 22 days). · Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Darlington in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 14. Manufacturer Wins Chevrolet 41 Ford 28 Mercury 10 Oldsmobile 6 Dodge 5 Pontiac 5 Buick 4 Plymouth 4 Hudson 3 Toyota 3 American Motors Company 2 · 11 different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Darlington; led by Chevrolet with 41 victories; followed by Ford with 28 and Toyota has three. · 20 of the 111 (18.02%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Darlington have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Kevin Harvick in last season’s event. · NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson has won from the pole four times at Darlington – the series’ most. · The Coors Light pole starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting position at Darlington. The outside front row (second-place) has produced the second-most wins (17). Wins · 37 of the 111 (33.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Darlington have been won from the front row: 20 from first-place and 17 from second-place. · 96 of the 111 (86.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Darlington have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Six of the 111 (5.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Darlington have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Darlington is 43rd by Johnny Mantz in 1950 – the inaugural NSCS event. · 13 drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series have posted consecutive wins at Darlington; Dale Earnhardt (1989-1990) and Jeff Gordon (1995-1996) are tied for the series-most in consecutive wins at Darlington with three each. · All seven active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Darlington Raceway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Among active drivers, Kyle Busch won at Darlington in the fewest previous appearances (three). · Matt Kenseth competed at Darlington Raceway 19 times before winning last season; the longest span of any the six active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Tony Stewart leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Darlington without visiting Victory Lane at 22. Additional Finishing Position Stats · Darrell Waltrip and Richard Petty are tied for the series most runner-up finishes at Darlington with eight each. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in second-place finishes at Darlington with four. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-five finishes at Darlington with 25. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 19; followed by Jimmie Johnson with nine. · Bill Elliott leads the series in top-10 finishes at Darlington with 35. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 23; followed by Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart with 12 each. · Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Darlington with a 6.889. · Three active NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers have an average finish in the top 10 at Darlington: Denny Hamlin (6.8), Kyle Larson (8.0) and Jimmie Johnson (8.4). Track/Event Specific Stats · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Darlington Raceway is the (03/16/2003) race won by Ricky Craven with a MOV of 0.002 second over Kurt Busch . The MOV is tied with the 2011 Talladega race as the closest finish in the NSCS since the inception using electronic timing and scoring. · There have been four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting in a green-white-checkered finish at Darlington Raceway : 2005 (367/370), 2011 (367/370), 2012 (367/368) and 2014 (367/374). Additional Finishing Position Stats · Eight of the 111 races at Darlington Raceway have been shortened du
Buddy Baker suffered from many heartbreaks in the DAYTONA 500, but finally in 1980 Baker took the nicknamed 'Grey Ghost' to Victory Lane at Daytona .
RELATED: See the full weekend schedule " NBC Sports Live Extra All times ET Monday, August 31 3 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250 (re-air), FOX Sports 1 5 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1 2 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2 Tuesday, Sept. 1 6 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 2:30 p.m., Empty Cup: Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Title (re-air), FOX Sports 1 3 p.m., A Perfect Storm: The 1979 Daytona 500 (re-air), FOX Sports 1 4 p.m., Being: Stewart-Haas Racing (re-air), FOX Sports 1 5 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1 Wednesday, Sept. 2 6 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1 Thursday, Sept. 3 6 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 2:30 p.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series East: Virginia International Raceway (tape), NBCSN 4:30 p.m., NASCAR America: The States of NASCAR (re-air), NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1 Friday, Sept. 4 6 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 11 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, NBCSN 1 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, NBCSN 3 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice, NBCSN 4:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, NBCSN 6:30 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 9:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice (re-air), NBCSN Saturday, Sept. 5 10 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice (re-air), NBCSN 11:30 a.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN 1 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 1:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN 3 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Countdown to Green, NBC 3:30 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200, NBC Sunday, Sept. 6 1 p.m., Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge: Virginia International Raceway (tape), FOX Sports 1 5 p.m., NASCAR America Sunday, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Countdown to Green, NBCSN 7 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 , NBC 11 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN Midnight, NASCAR Victory Lane, FOX Sports 1 2:30 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lane (re-air), FOX Sports 1 &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;nbsp;
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- News of Richard Childress Racing 's crew chief switcheroo for its Nos. 3 and 33 Chevrolet teams in the NASCAR XFINITY Series might've seemed like a rash measure back in June. With Ty Dillon sitting second in the driver standings, the swap resembled an overhaul more than a tweak. Eight races later, the early returns are promising for both RCR outfits, with momentum aligning for Dillon's championship push heading into Saturday's Road America 180 Fired up by Johnsonville (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Dillon remains second in the standings with a 19-point deficit heading into the 23rd of 33 races this season, but he also has a streak of four straight top-five finishes built up for the final road course event of 2015. The Richard Childress-owned team announced its move June 24, moving Nick Harrison over to call the shots for Dillon's No. 3 operation. Danny Stockman shifted over to RCR's No. 33, a full-time team but with three part-time drivers -- Austin Dillon , Brandon Jones and Paul Menard -- sharing the seat. The younger Dillon said the change has gone smoothly so far, but that the more encouraging byproduct has been the team's ability to compete for top-five finishes rather than settle for top-10s. "It's going really good. We're all figuring it out and we've made sure we've had our communication down the last couple weeks," Ty Dillon said. "Every week, we've gotten stronger and stronger and had really good race cars. It makes it easier to finish top-five when you have such good race cars. Nick's been calling good races and we just have a lot of momentum right now, heading in the right direction. We keep finishing in the top five like we are, we're going to get some wins and really put the heat on them." The move paid some immediate dividends for Austin Dillon , who prevailed at Daytona International Speedway in the team's first event since the personnel change. The Dillon-Stockman pairing reunited the driver-crew chief combination that netted the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in 2011, then the XFINITY crown two years later. Menard will participate in his fourth race under Stockman's watch this weekend, making his first XFINITY start in his home state of Wisconsin since 2010. The Sprint Cup Series regular said he understood the reasons for altering the team dynamic. "It was more for Ty, honestly," Menard said. "They called me to see if I was OK with making the switch and I said whatever is better for the company is fine with me. I know we'll run good with both those guys." Ty Dillon has methodically made up ground -- or at least held serve -- in the weeks following the change. After crashing out at Daytona and slipping to 43 points in arrears, he's chopped the deficit in half and then some, helping him apply pressure to Roush Fenway Racing 's Chris Buescher , the points leader since May. It's resulted in additional spring in the step for Dillon, noticeably so according to Harrison. "We've had a string of top-fives here, so we've got some kind of mojo rolling and we've been having fun doing it," Harrison said. "The pressure and intensity level's getting higher as we creep down toward the end of the year. Having some momentum is definitely showing to be a strength, and you can tell it's helping everybody's spirit going into the closing part of the year. "We've had two top-fives at Mid-Ohio and Watkins Glen, so coming here, I think confidence is up for not only us but especially Ty. I feel like that's real important. You can just tell his attitude and charisma is where it needs to be right now and I feel like that's going to help tremendously." The poise may come in handy this weekend on the blazing fast 4.048-mile circuit, where off-course pitfalls and the prospect of fender-bending conflicts await. Dillon has managed to steer clear of the former if not quite the latter in this month's other two road-course events, gathering top-five finishes at both. The potential for trouble -- mixed in with the uncertainty of possible racing in the rain -- hasn't done much to deter Dillon's outlook as the final third of the season begins. "We're going for it. This is definitely an opportunity," Dillon said. "We're not sitting back and trying to let things happen for us. We're going for it. You never know what can happen with rain and the way a road course races anyway, so we've got to be on the attack and try to win this race."
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.