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Press Pass: Justin Allgaier
Justin Allgaier talks about finishing third in the Dollar General 200 Fueled By AmeriGas and how this is his strongest start of any season.
Brick-by -Brick: Gordon preps for Indy
NASCAR.com’s Jonathan Merryman takes a look at the hard work Jeff Gordon has done to get ready for his substitute role in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Chevrolet at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
NASCAR, Chevrolet launch diversity scholarship contest
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 23, 2016) — NASCAR and Chevrolet today announced the launch of the second annual NASCAR Chevrolet Diversity Scholarship Contest during a press conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Through this initiative, NASCAR and Chevrolet continue their longstanding commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) education and promoting opportunities for college students pursuing technology related careers. The contest challenges students to identify a technology or innovation within NASCAR and explain how STEM professionals came to its design in 90-second videos submitted on www.chevy.nascardiversity.com . Four winners will receive a total of $20,000 in scholarships and a VIP experience at Texas Motor Speedway during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race on November 6, 2016. In what has quickly become an important component of NASCAR's diversity and inclusion platform, the scholarship program helps both organizations attract young, diverse talent to the world of motorsports. "STEM professionals are invaluable to our sport," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. "We're proud to partner again with Chevrolet in supporting talented students who we hope one day will play an important role in our industry." Video submissions will be judged on technical accuracy, creativity and production quality. Examples of science and technology in NASCAR include, but are not limited to: track banking and construction, race car design, SAFER barrier walls, drafting, gas mileage, tire wear, ethanol fuel, pit road officiating and solar energy. Ken Barrett, chief diversity officer for General Motors, announced the scholarship contest today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "At General Motors, diversity is our strength and we seek unique perspectives to infuse new ideas into all we do - keeping us on the cutting edge of technological innovation," said Barrett. "Attracting and employing the best and brightest STEM talent from around the world places GM and Chevy in the position to win in the marketplace and the race track." Winners will be awarded a scholarship and an exclusive, behind-the-scenes race experience in Texas, including a tour of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage, pace car rides and meet-and-greets with Team Chevy drivers and Chevrolet NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Program Manager, Alba Colon. "We're thrilled to once again offer this scholarship opportunity for talented students," said Colon. "NASCAR is such an innovative sport and this is a great way to get students excited about science and technology." To be eligible for the contest, students must be currently enrolled, at least part-time, in an accredited college or university within the United States, be between the ages of 18 and 25 at the time of entry and submit a YouTube link through the scholarship website. The deadline to enter is October 15, 2016. For more information on the NASCAR Chevrolet Diversity Scholarship Contest, please visit www.chevy.nascardiversity.com .
Busch picks up Coors Light Pole Award in search of Brickyard defense
RELATED: Full starting lineup " See the full field SPEEDWAY, Ind. – A sweep at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is nothing new to Kyle Busch. But this year, he started early. With a lap at 184.634 mph (48.745 seconds) in the final round of Saturday's knockout qualifying, Busch claimed the pole position for Sunday’s Crown Royal 400 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Earlier in the day, the driver who swept both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races at Indy last year earned the pole award ahead of the heat races prior to Saturday afternoon’s Lilly Diabetes 250 XFINITY race. But the Sprint Cup pole that completed the Saturday sweep was special, because it was the first for Busch at the vaunted Brickyard. "I haven't been great at qualifying here, but the guys gave me a great piece this time around, and I'm real pumped about that," said Busch, who claimed his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season and the 19th of his career. "We're starting first in both of these (races), and hopefully we can end that way. "It means a lot (to win the pole). It's definitely pretty special to be running the way that we're running and to have the success that we've had here the last couple of years at Indy, and I’d love nothing more than to try to win here again." Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was .023 seconds faster than the No. 19 of teammate Carl Edwards (184.547 mph). "I was happy with my lap," Edwards said. "I was surprised Kyle got me. That was a good lap for him – I mean, that was a good lap that he ran because I felt like my lap was pretty good – but, yeah, it's frustrating right now to be second because it's so close, and the pole position is obviously huge here. "But by tomorrow, the race gets started and I think I'll be pretty happy with that starting spot, so just good job by all my guys." Making his last appearance at Indy as a Sprint Cup Series driver, Tony Stewart earned the third starting spot with a lap at 184.328 mph and knew exactly where he had lost critical speed. "I just wish I could do lap three (final round) one more time and not clip the apron in (Turn) 4," Stewart said. "I think we could have been on the pole." RELATED: Stewart discusses his qualifying effort Denny Hamlin qualified fourth, giving JGR three of the top four spots. Brad Keselowski in fifth has the top Ford. Ryan Newman , Kevin Harvick , Martin Truex Jr. , Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson will start from positions six through 10, respectively. The time trials were a disappointment for the Hendrick Motorsports drivers, who failed to place a car in the top 12. Jimmie Johnson ran the fastest lap of the day in the first of three rounds, touring the 2.5-mile speedway in 48.435 seconds (185.816 mph). But the six-time series champion failed to advance beyond the second round, losing the 12th and final position to Kurt Busch by .008 seconds. Johnson will start 13th, Chase Elliott 15th and Jeff Gordon , subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. , who is out with concussion-like symptoms, claimed the 21st spot on the grid. "I felt really comfortable right there," said Gordon, who was 15th fastest in the first round. "I feel like today I’m much calmer than I was yesterday (in practice). Usually, my heart is beating more for qualifying than it is for practice, but that wasn't the case. "So, today I feel more relaxed and comfortable in the car. I hope to feel the same way tomorrow. Tomorrow's challenge is going to be being around traffic, and also trying to get the balance of the car right and do that when you're by yourself as well as when you're around other cars." Josh Wise failed to make the 40-car field. </p>
Strong starting spot at Indy a 'big deal' for Stewart
RELATED: Full starting lineup " See every car in the field SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Tony Stewart wrapped up day two of his final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by qualifying third-best for the 40-car field that makes up Sunday’s Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard. It will be Stewart's best starting berth at Indy since winning the pole for the annual race at the legendary 2.5-mile track in 2002. It also equaled his best qualifying effort of what’s been an abbreviated season, matching his third-place start earlier this year at Michigan International Speedway. He announced last September that the 2016 season would be his last as a competitor in the Sprint Cup Series. Stewart put up the sixth-fastest lap in Saturday's opening round, enabling him to advance to the second round where he posted the second-fastest lap overall. In the final round of 12, his 184.328 mph lap was bettered only by Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch (184.634 mph) and Carl Edwards (184.547 mph). Stewart, 45, credited crew chief Mike Bugarewicz with making the appropriate changes between Friday's two practices and Saturday’s qualifying attempts. "I just wish I could do a lap … one more time and not clip the apron in (Turn) 4; I think we could have been on the pole," Stewart said after climbing from his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. "What we learned today for qualifying, we are going to have to take some of that and try to make a car a little better for tomorrow." Starting position can be crucial -- the benefits ranging from optimum track position to a clear entry into and out of one's pit stall during the race. To start third, Stewart said, "is a big deal here. It always has been." The rules package in place for this year's race is 180 degrees from the high drag package implemented at Indy a year ago. Stewart said the difference is evident and positive. "It seems like the more downforce they take off these cars, the easier it is to race around each other," he said. "That is what you need, but it always helps when you can start up front. When you can get up there and really get working on your car in cleaner air and plan for the end of the race, that is really an advantage." Stewart sat out the first eight races of the 2016 season while recovering from injuries sustained in an off-road accident on Jan. 31. A victory last month at Sonoma Raceway and his ascension into the top-30 in points have put him in line for one of the 16 positions that will make up this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. "We just have been plugging away," he said. "Everybody thinks Sonoma was the game changer and it wasn't. I mean it was Pocono, it was Michigan -- those two races leading up to Sonoma were probably as big if not bigger than what we did at Sonoma. "Sonoma just gave us the opportunity to hopefully use what we are doing to get going in the Chase now." With his final start at Indy less than 24 hours away, Stewart, who has 49 career wins in NASCAR's premier series, was ready to turn his attention elsewhere. "Tonight I'm going to go to Kokomo Speedway for our All-Stars race and go to work there," he said. "Then come here tomorrow and have fun with our friends." Sunday’s race is scheduled to get underway at 3 p.m. ET. TV and radio coverage will be provided by NBCSN, the IMS Radio Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. </p>
Dale Jr. tweets update: 'I sensed improvement'
RELATED: Dale Jr. injury timeline " Views of Gordon behind the No. 88 SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. took to social media Friday morning, updating his fans on his condition as he sits out his second consecutive race since being diagnosed with "concussion-like symptoms." Today is the 1st day in many that I sensed improvement. Seen small gains during my physical therapy as well. Light at the end of the tunnel. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) July 22, 2016 No determination has been made concerning Earnhardt's return to competition. At Indianapolis Motor Speedway, team owner Rick Hendrick said an appearance at the team's headquarters in Concord, North Carolina, earlier this week by his driver was a good sign. "Wednesday he came by the shop, and we got to visit," Hendrick said. "He looks good; he is encouraged. … We're really excited. He is in great spirits." Hendrick, whose HMS organization fields entries for drivers Jimmie Johnson , Chase Elliott and Kasey Kahne in addition to Earnhardt Jr., said Earnhardt is eager to get back in the car, but is also following doctors' orders. "He wants to race," Hendrick said, "but he also knows the regime they have him on will get him right for a long time. He's following doctors' orders but I can tell he is getting antsy. But he is going to do what they say." Earnhardt initially visited doctors prior to this month's race at Kentucky for what he thought was a sinus infection. Eventually, however, it was determined his condition was likely the result of an impact (or impacts) in recent races. As a result, he was not cleared to return to competition. Alex Bowman , who has competed for Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports team this season in the XFINITY Series, was tabbed to fill in for the team last weekend at New Hampshire, where he finished 26th. Four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon is taking over the driving duties for this weekend's Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard at IMS (3 p.m., NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). He is also scheduled to be in the car next week when the series moves to Pocono Raceway. It is the second time Earnhardt has been sidelined for a concussion or concussion-like symptoms. He sat out two races in 2012 following a hard crash during a test at Kansas Speedway. "I really enjoyed spending time with him Wednesday," Hendrick said. "He misses this. He misses his team. He went to see his team. He saw the guys and it really lifted them. "I think between Jeff agreeing to drive the car and Junior walking in the shop, the team is really excited. Jeff's situation with our company, everybody there knows him; and when some unknown person is going to get in the car, or clearly not anyone of the talent that Jeff has here at Indy, so that excited the team. But more than anything, when (Earnhardt) walked in that building it just lifted everybody up. So, we're really excited. Everybody is there for Junior and his health is number one priority. But we feel good about where we are right now." It was also announced by HMS officials earlier this week that Earnhardt had "underwent further evaluation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program." Gordon has not competed since stepping away from driving at the conclusion of the 2015 season. He is a five-time winner of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at IMS, making him the winningest NASCAR wheelman at the track.
Gordon gets comfortable, keeps expectations 'realistic'
SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Jeff Gordon was all smiles walking on Indianapolis Motor Speedway's pit road following qualifying for Sunday's Brickyard 400. The crowd cheered its approval of his 21st-place qualifying effort. Mostly they were happy for the opportunity to see the four-time NASCAR champion at work again. Gordon advanced to the second round of qualifying driving Dale Earnhardt Jr. 's No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet. And the five-time Indy winner will start his final race here from the 11th row filling in for Earnhardt, who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms. "I felt really comfortable right there," said Gordon, 44, who was asked by team owner Rick Hendrick to come out of retirement and take the wheel for Earnhardt at Indy and at Pocono Raceway next week. "I feel like today I am much calmer than I was yesterday," Gordon said. "Usually my heart's beating more for qualifying than for practice, but that wasn't the case today. "So today, I feel more relaxed and comfortable in the car and I hope to feel the same way tomorrow. Tomorrow's challenge is going to be being around traffic and trying to get the balance of the car right and do that when you're by yourself as well as around other cars." Gordon hasn't driven a Sprint Cup Series car since retiring at the end of the 2015 season and only had a pair of practice sessions Friday to prepare for qualifying and the race. The team used his old seat and steering wheel in the car and Gordon only arrived from a family vacation in France mid-week. "For the most part, all the work is done," Gordon said. "We did our practice yesterday, we did our de-brief with drivers and crew chiefs last night and we qualified today. "Every time we're on track we're gathering information and learning. We'll continue to talk about it, but that's about all we can do moving forward. Those guys will be working hard on pit strategy for the race. But for the most part, the work is done for me other than thinking of some things I could tell Greg. "The work all begins when the green flag drops." While this will be the first time in Gordon's celebrated career he won't be steering the No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick, there was an unmistakable sense of excitement about the weekend's opportunity. In what was originally his final Indy start -- last year -- Gordon scored his worst-ever finish of 42nd. In a sense, this time filling in for his good friend and former teammate Earnhardt also affords him the chance to improve that career note, too. "My expectations are very realistic," Gordon said. "I'm approaching this the same way I've approached any race I've ever been in. I drive the car into the corner and the car gives me feedback and if it feels good, I drive it harder. If it doesn't feel good I find a way to manage it until we can make adjustments. "My goal is to make the car go as fast as it can go. Each time on track I feel like I'm getting better. This is a steep learning curve, to be off the track this long and then just jump in here. But luckily, I have a great race car and a great race team that's going to help me get through it." </p>
Justin Allgaier earns Dash 4 Cash bonus check at Indy
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " Chase Grid SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Justin Allgaier won the season's fourth and final Dash 4 Cash paycheck Saturday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Allgaier finished fifth in the XFINTY Series' Lilly Diabetes 250, which was won by Sprint Cup Series regular Kyle Busch. But the effort was one position ahead of Allgaier's JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler , and that was enough to earn the special $100,000 incentive. The race for the bonus money got intense in the final laps with Allgaier passing Elliott in Turn 4 on the last restart with two laps remaining to take the position and take the incentive money. "Under that last caution, I was thinking, 'Hey I'm racing a teammate' and that changes the game," Allgaier said. "Just knowing he was a teammate and had the same stuff I did, how do you force the pass? I was fortunate. We got behind him coming off Turn 4. ... It was the only time today I went through Turn 4 perfectly and was able to get next to him and then pass him. "Everything had to come down to that perfect moment. Just very fortunate to get up here with this check." Only full-time XFINITY Series championship competitors are eligible to collect in the four-race Dash 4 Cash incentive. Four drivers are set through two 20-lap heat races before a 60-lap main event. Allgaier, Elliott, Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones qualified to be participants at Indy. Series rookie Jones won the Dash 4 Cash money twice (at Bristol and Dover) this season while Ty Dillon (Richmond) won once. Jones' two victories would have been enough to put him in the XFINITY Series' inaugural Chase for the championship this year, but he earned a position anyway as the race winner in the Bristol race. Allgaier, who drives the No. 7 BRANDT Chevrolet, joked after the race that he absolutely planned to keep the oversized check recognizing the Dash winner. It was the first time he'd won the award. "Been trying to get up here and hold one of these checks up here and finally got to today," Allgaier said. "This one goes home with me and will go on the wall for sure. Really proud to be able to hold one of these checks up." The race result for Allgaier was also significant in the big picture, moving him up two positions in the XFINITY Series standings to fourth place, only 16 points behind third place Ty Dillon . Suarez still leads the championship by 14 points over Sadler entering the next race -- an XFINITY stand-alone event next Saturday at Iowa Speedway.
Kyle Busch tops the heap in final Indy practice
RELATED: Practice 1 results " Final practice results Kyle Busch closed out final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice atop the leaderboard Friday afternoon, recovering from a spin earlier in the day and landing the fastest speed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Busch, the defending race winner, lapped the track with a best speed of 184.619 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota as teams made mock qualifying runs ahead of Saturday's time trials. It marked an improvement over his 12th-best time during Friday's opening 85-minute session at the 2.5-mile track. During that opening session, Busch's No. 18 Camry slightly touched the car of Patrick Carpentier as they raced side- by -side in Turn 2. Busch, the defending series champion, spun out without making further contact. Former Brickyard winner Kevin Harvick registered the second-fastest lap, pushing the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet to a lap of 184.268 mph. Kyle Larson , Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards completed the top five in the final practice before Sunday's Crown Royal Presents The Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Jeff Gordon was 25th-fastest in his second stint of practice ahead of his first Sprint Cup start of the season. The four-time series champion notched a 180.375-mph lap in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet, filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. , who is sidelined for the second straight week by concussion-like symptoms. Tony Stewart , prepping for his final scheduled Sprint Cup start at his home-state track, was 24th-fastest (180.505 mph) in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet. Coors Light Pole Qualifying is set Saturday at 1:45 p.m. ET (NBCSN). Sunday's race will be the 20th of 36 points-paying races this season. Johnson sets pace in opening Indy practice Jimmie Johnson soared to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaderboard Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in an opening practice that featured the return of Jeff Gordon to competition. Johnson pushed the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet to a best lap of 184.185 mph around the 2.5-mile track. He'll seek his fifth Indianapolis win in Sunday's Crown Royal Presents The Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Former Indy pole winner Denny Hamlin was second-fastest in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota at 182.563 mph, a sizable .434 seconds off Johnson's pace. Casey Mears (180.346 mph), Kevin Harvick (179.845 mph) and Ryan Newman (179.784 mph) completed the top five in the 85-minute opening session. Gordon clocked the ninth-fastest speed, landing a 179.376 mph lap in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet. He's scheduled to make his first Sprint Cup start of the season Sunday as a replacement for Dale Earnhardt Jr. as he recovers from concussion-like symptoms. Tony Stewart , scheduled to make his final Brickyard start in what's to be his last full-time season, was eighth-fastest at 179.655 mph in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet. The native Hoosier will be vying for his third Brickyard victory in Sunday's 400-miler. Defending Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch, also the defending race winner, was 12th-fastest but recovered from a spin at the one-hour mark of the session. Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota made a prolonged slide out of Turn 2 after making contact with the Go FAS Racing No. 32 Ford of Patrick Carpentier. Carpentier, 44, walked over to Busch's garage stall later in the session to issue an apology for crowding his pass attempt. Carpentier was 39th-fastest of the 41 drivers entered during first practice. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Kraft's Korner: How stars fare the second time around
RELATED: Should you start Gordon in fantasy? When Jeff Gordon gets behind the wheel of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it will mark his first start since the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which at the time was believed to be his final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. However, recent circumstances and events have changed that. With concussion-like symptoms keeping Dale Earnhardt Jr. out of the car, Gordon will return for at least the next two races at Indianapolis (July 24) and Pocono (July 31). Seeing Gordon behind the wheel of the No. 88 -- not the No. 24 he made famous -- will undoubtedly feel a bit like watching Michael Jordan sport the No. 45 jersey instead of his legendary No. 23 jersey when he initially returned to the NBA's Chicago Bulls in 1995. Gordon's final full-time season in 2015 brought about much fanfare, many gifts from tracks and an unforgettable march to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Ultimately, Gordon did not win the title but the journey was incredible -- that Martinsville victory truly something else -- and a heck of a way for the four-time champion to go out at the time. Gordon is far from the first athlete to eventually return after walking away. Here's a look at a few others and how they fared in their returns, including one whose final chapter has yet to be fully written. M ichael Jordan After leading the Bulls to a three-peat, Jordan retired before the start of the 1993-94 season and pursued a baseball career for a brief time. He would return to the Bulls in March of 1995. MJ would lead the Bulls to another three-peat, including the iconic image of nailing a game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. Jordan again retired before returning for two seasons in 2001 with the Washington Wizards and retiring for good in 2003. The stint with the Wizards serving as a forgettable blemish on a magnificent career of a player considered, if not the greatest, one of the greatest of all-time. B rett Favre Favre was an icon with the Green Bay Packers setting numerous franchise records. After retiring in March of 2008, the quarterback began to have doubts about his retirement -- wanting to return to the Packers -- and eventually was dealt to the New York Jets about a month before the 2008 season began. The stint in New York was forgettable and he once again retired in February of 2009. That lasted until August of 2009 when Favre inked a deal with the Minnesota Vikings and helped to lead the team to the NFC Championship Game. He would retire for good after an injury-plagued 2010 season. Roger Clemens Clemens retired after the 2003 season, a season in which the New York Yankees reached the World Series but lost to the Florida Marlins in six games. However, that retirement was really short lived because by January of 2004, Clemens, who lived in Texas, inked a deal with the Houston Astros. He would pitch three seasons with the Astros and was a key piece of the 2005 team that reached the World Series (and was swept by the Chicago White Sox). In '06 with the Astros and '07 with the Yankees, Clemens would join the teams in the middle of the season. Clemens also had a short stint with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League in 2012. Michael Phelps Phelps, who holds the record for most gold medals in a single Olympic Games (2008 at Beijing, eight gold medals) had earned a record 18 gold medals over four Summer Olympic Games as a member of the U.S. Olympic Swim team. After retiring following the London games of 2012, Phelps announced in 2014 he was going back into training. The decorated swimmer could add to his gold medal count some more as he has qualified for three individual events at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio that will be held in August.