See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Kenny Bruce writes on Furniture Row Racing , which is rumored to be considering a manufacturer switch to Toyota ... Kyle Busch won for the third time in four races; see exactly what he has to do to clinch a Chase berth ... The Rundown analyzes how every driver fared at New Hampshire. TUESDAY: This week's Power Rankings presented by Outback has a new No. 1 driver ; who is it? Could Kyle Busch climb that high? ... @nascarcasm has his weekly winner's Facebook page, so get ready Kyle Busch ... For the second week in a row, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske were the cars to beat, as Pat DeCola reports ... Want to know how Eldora works? We'll tell you. WEDNESDAY: New paint schemes will be on display at Indianapolis and Eldora, and we'll have them all in Paint Scheme Preview ... Speaking of Eldora, there's plenty of action on the dirt track, and it begins at 10:30 a.m. ET. The race itself starts at 9 p.m. ET. We'll have live leaderboards of it all ... While you're watching the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, vote on who you think will win at Indy. THURSDAY: Driver Reports highlights the 16 drivers currently on the Chase Grid, and how they fare at Indianapolis ... Senior writer Kenny Bruce will look back at Jeff Gordon 's top Brickyard moments ... Jessica Ruffin, for #TBT, throws it back to Tony Stewart 's first win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. FRIDAY: The Sprint Cup Series gets on track at 9 a.m. ET, and we'll have full coverage from a busy day at the track ... 8 Tweets You Might Have Missed highlights the best from social media over the past week ... Kissing the bricks? @nascarcasm has a take on that. Also coming this week: High Five, which drops Wednesday, highlights the best NASCAR content from around the internet ... the Major League Baseball trade deadline is coming up, which got RJ Kraft thinking about some possible NASCAR driver trades.
Bruce: New Hampshire has a long history of varied winners RELATED: Driver reports for New Hampshire MANCHESTER, N.H. -- It was a streak interrupted, and another begun. Blame, or credit, Joey Logano . The Team Penske driver ’s first win in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series in 2009 kept alive the streak of what would eventually become 13 different winners in victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It’s the most for any track, a mark shared with Texas Motor Speedway. Career win No. 1 for Logano came on a rainy day in Loudon in ’09 – the race was shortened from 301 laps to 273 due to a late afternoon storm. He was 19 at the time, driving the No. 20 for Joe Gibbs Racing and suddenly the series’ youngest winner. Five years later, last September in fact, Logano, now driving for Team Penske , returned to the winner’s circle at the 1.058-mile track. Career win No. 7 halted the streak at 13. And re-set it at 11. Two of the winners on the current list won’t be around to contend for the title in Sunday’s 5-Hour Energy 301 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). Mark Martin ’s retired and Brian Vickers remains on indefinite leave due to health issues. The remaining drivers on the list have the credentials to contend and the talent to scuttle the streak -- Logano, teammate Brad Keselowski , Jimmie Johnson , Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth have already won at least once this year. Tony Stewart , Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne have, obviously, won here before. But the lineup of those not among the recent NHMS winners is equally impressive. It includes defending series champion Kevin Harvick , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Martin Truex Jr ., Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards . Each has won this year. Toss in Jamie McMurray , seventh in points and having a solid season. Jeff Gordon ? He’s only won here three times, his average finishing position (11.4) is top-five material and the four-time series champ sports the best driver rating among active drivers at NHMS (107.3). Overlook another youngster, Kyle Larson , at your own risk. The Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver made his first two starts at New Hampshire last season, but his finishes were third and second. Also worth noting -- in 2012, Larson won the K&N Pro Series East race at NHMS. Ask the drivers, and most will tell you track position is crucial because passing often proves to be difficult. Much like Martinsville in design with slightly banked corners, New Hampshire features straighaways twice as long. Driver Ryan Newman described it as "just two dragstrips and a hairpin turn." Winners have come from a variety of starting spots -- from the front row to as deep as 38th. Johnson describes races there as "scrappy," and part of that might be due to their length. One of the series’ shorter races, the 301-mile event offers limited opportunities to pit and make adjustments. The names of winning drivers might be varied, but it’s been something of a streaky track for the automakers. Chevrolet drivers won six in a row during the most recent run before Toyota drivers won three straight. Ford teams took both races last year. Those with Chase plans already booked -- and the list continues to grow -- could spend the weekend tinkering in hopes of having the right setup in place when the series returns later this year. For others, it’s one more opportunity to join that club. And those opportunities are dwindling. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Earnhardt Jr. eyes sweep; can winless driver jumble Chase field?
17-year-old Gray Gaulding set to run in three NCWTS races Kyle Busch Motorsports announced on Thursday that 17-year-old Gray Gaulding will drive the No. 54 Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Toyota Tundra for three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this season. Gaulding, who ia a NASCAR Next alumni, will gear up for his first race on August 30 for the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Ontario. "I'm very excited to be a part of KBM," said Gaulding. "It's a dream as a driver because I remember growing up watching Kyle and how much I wanted to drive for him when he started his own team. I know his mentality is to go out every weekend and win races. It's a championship organization with great people and I know I'll be able to go to the race track and have an opportunity to win at each race. "I can't thank Krispy Kreme and the over 40,000 world-wide team members enough for believing in me and taking a chance on a 17-year-old kid. Driving a KBM Toyota Tundra is my dream opportunity." The Virginia native will also participate in the upcoming NCWTS races in Loudon Sept. 26 and Martinsville Oct. 31. Gaulding has made 10 starts in the series since 2014 with his best place finish being at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, where he finished fourth. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Companies will continue to compete against each other in 2015 RELATED: Toyota 'not sure what MWR is going to do' Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman has agreed to purchase an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, according to statements from the two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organizations. According to a statement from MWR, the "companies will continue to operate separately and compete against each other for the remainder of the 2015 season. They are also currently evaluating ways to field the most competitive race teams possible to provide an excellent platform for their partners and employees for the 2016 season and beyond." How the move will impact the number of teams involved has yet to be determined, although it appears likely that the re-tooled CGR will be a three-team effort in 2016. What that means for co-owner Michael Waltrip and MWR going forward is also unknown at this time. Sponsorship agreements with Aaron's and manufacturer support with Toyota are scheduled to conclude at the end of '15. "My focus is on 2015 and fulfilling the commitment we have made to our partners and Toyota, which is placing our teams in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ," Michael Waltrip said in a statement Thursday. "There are a lot of details yet to be sorted regarding 2016. I will work closely with Rob Kauffman and our sponsors to formulate the best way forward." Ed Laukes, vice president marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales, issued a statement Friday morning with a similar sentiment. "We've spoken with Rob Kauffman and understand he has agreed to buy an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates," the statement read. "Rob has not disclosed the plans for Michael Waltrip Racing past the 2015 racing season. Toyota and TRD remain focused on winning races and championships with our team partners this year." MWR, founded by Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 winner as a driver , fields two Sprint Cup teams for drivers Clint Bowyer and David Ragan . It has been affiliated with Toyota since the automaker made the move into Sprint Cup in 2007, the same year Kauffman came aboard to provide financial stability. Recent years have seen the organization, located in Cornelius, North Carolina, struggle; it downsized from three teams to two following the 2013 season when penalties before the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup knocked one of its teams out of the Chase field. That led to the decision by primary sponsor NAPA to part ways with the organization, and without funding, driver Martin Truex Jr . was left to seek employment elsewhere ( Furniture Row Racing ). Bowyer, driver of the No. 15 Toyota, hasn't been to Victory Lane since his debut season with the group in 2012. He is currently 15th in points and trying to earn one of this year's 16 Chase berths. Teammate David Ragan joined the organization this season, replacing Brian Vickers in the No. 55 ride when Vickers had to step aside for health reasons. Ragan is 24th in the points standings. On Wednesday, he told NASCAR.com that he would like to remain with the organization. "I like everyone at MWR and the Aaron's folks have been great to work with," he said. "We've got a good thing going so hopefully we can keep it going." Aaron's is the primary sponsor of the No. 55 team. CGR, which is currently affiliated with Chevrolet, also fields two Sprint Cup teams, featuring drivers Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson . The organization also has XFINITY Series interests as part of an alliance with HScott Motorsports . A statement from CGR on Thursday confirmed the agreement between Kauffman and Ganassi. Both McMurray and Larson are looking to make their first Chase appearance this season; McMurray is ninth in points and likely one of this year's 16 participants. Larson is currently 20th in points and could qualify should he win one of the next six races. Sabates, owner of the team from 1989 through 2000 before becoming a minority partner in '01, issued a statement to SiriusXM NASCAR on Wednesday, saying that the move "is about making our team stronger; a three-car team is stronger than a two-car (team)." Sabates also discounted reports that Kauffman's involvement meant he was out as a partner. "I'm not going anywhere," Sabates said. "... The rumors that Rob is buying me out are not true." Ganassi became majority owner of the team in 2000; he partnered with Dale Earnhardt Inc. from 2009-13 and the organization was known as Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. Since '14, the group has been known as Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Former owner Ray Evernham: '... There’s a championship driver in there' RELATED: Kahne swims with the sharks In the beginning, it came easy for Kasey Kahne . Fast cars and a great team and all of a sudden there's a new young gun for the established stars to deal with each weekend in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. "Yeah, everything was pretty simple back then," Kahne, 35, says. "Every time I got in the car we were fast -- practice, qualifying, race. "Today it's a little different; it's more difficult to be on top. I think part of it is the competition, it's so close today that it makes it tougher." The competition's tough, certainly, but finding that feeling behind the wheel, the one that often separates the winners from the losers, can be just as difficult. That's what Kahne enjoyed in those early years, back in 2004 and '05 and '06, and it's what he is searching for today. It's also what crew chief Keith Rodden is trying to find for his driver each and every day when he shows up for work. "If you hit on something that really suits your driving, you can be on top and you can be there for a period of time," Kahne says. "That's what we're looking for, that's what we hope to hit on eventually." The quest continues this weekend at Daytona International Speedway, site of Sunday night's Coke Zero 400 (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). Kasey Kahne has won 17 times at NASCAR’s top level. He has never won a restrictor-plate points race. • • • He was just 23 when he made his Sprint Cup Series debut, finishing near the bottom of the order in the 2004 Daytona 500 after the engine soured just 42 laps into the season-opening race. But any questions about team owner Ray Evernham's decision to hire the youngster were quickly put to rest. A week after his disappointing Daytona debut, Kahne finished second at Rockingham, North Carolina. After an early-season off-week, Kahne was second again, this time at Las Vegas. All told, Kahne finished second five times as a rookie, then added a sixth early the following season. By the season's 11th stop, at Richmond, he was no longer second -- he was in Victory Lane. A year later, he won six times, more than any other driver in the series, including champion Jimmie Johnson . By the time Evernham Motorsports became Gillett Evernham Motorsports in the latter stages of ’07, Kahne had seven wins and the look of a future champion. And then it slowly began to unravel. The wins haven't ceased -- he's won 10 times since that memorable '06 season -- but the championships have thus far failed to materialize. The Gillett Evernham partnership eventually dismantled and by '09, the Enumclaw, Washington, native had moved on to Richard Petty Motorsports for a two-year stint. A stint with Red Bull Racing followed, before team owner Rick Hendrick came calling, looking for a suitable replacement for veteran Mark Martin . In 2012, Kahne settled in as the newest member of one of the most successful organizations in NASCAR. While he's qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup all three years he's been at HMS, he's slowly been trending in the wrong direction, finishing fourth, 12th and 15th in points since his arrival. RELATED: Kahne to become a father Where did the kid with so much talent and promise go? "I don't know," says Evernham, now back at HMS as a member of the organization's executive management team. "I really pushed Mr. Hendrick to hire him because I really feel like Kasey Kahne is a guy that should win a championship. "We've not been able to get him over that hump. I certainly still believe in him. I think Keith Rodden has helped Kasey's confidence. They're still kind of sorting out their cars and things like that. I don't know. I will be disappointed if Kasey Kahne ends his career without winning a championship. "He's got the talent, he's got the ability, and he's got the cars and equipment. I don't know -- communication, changes, where he's at … again, I can't answer that. It's something we talk about a lot." • • • Kahne, who has six top-10 finishes through this year's first 16 races, arrives in Daytona eighth in points. His last win came in Atlanta last season, and it was his only win of the year. Still, he says, he believes his team is making gains. Driver Reports : How will Kahne fare at Daytona? "I think our cars are super close, our engines and our packages are right there," Kahne says. "I feel good about that. "It's just a matter of keep trying to find that little bit of feel. That's what Martin Truex has right now; that's what Kevin Harvick has had for a year and a half. Just that feel. They have it and they know how to find it each week. Their teams do a really nice job with that and the drivers do a great job with it. That's what I'm looking for. I just hope I can find that feel that gives me just … you just floor it a touch sooner every lap and you go as fast as they do." Kahne knows the feel, although he jokes that "it's been a while since I've had it, so it's hard to remember. "I know it feels good," he says. "It gives you confidence; you feel like you can run (with anyone), you feel like you can win and you can battle at any time. You're better on restarts, you're better in traffic and you're better when you're on your own. "When you do have that feel, you just always seem to be a tenth or two better and it helps every part of the race weekend." Every driver that's been around for the past decade has had to deal with tremendous changes in the cars as one generation was pushed aside for newer, safer vehicles. Some have had to alter their driving styles, adapting to cars that suddenly had more downforce but could be a handful around others. A fortunate few found the changes worked in their favor and no changes were necessary. "The interesting thing is today we run so much throttle compared to what we used to run," says Kahne. "When I first came in (to the series) you were off the throttle for a good period of time, you'd ease back to it and then floor it. "Today it's on and off. It's like a light switch. And the percentage of the time that you're wide open today compared to then is much higher. I think some of those things haven't fit my driving style as well as I would have liked. As a driver , I need to keep working on that stuff and figure out how to make it fit my driving style. "I think when I first came into the sport, it was all about getting off the brake as fast as you could and getting back to throttle as soon as possible. If you weren't wide open that was OK, you were still part throttle and still gaining speed. "Today, it's like push the brake hard for a split second, get off it and hammer the throttle hard. Your off-throttle time is very small. It’s just so much different driving these cars today. I'm up for the challenge, but I think as we’ve gone through the changes (to the cars), it's been a little more difficult for the way I learned to race." • • • For the majority of his career, Kahne was paired with crew chief Kenny Francis. That changed during the most recent off-season when Hendrick officials put former lead engineer Keith Rodden in charge. Rodden is one of the new breed, an engineer that has transitioned into the role of crew chief. But carrying a degree, he said, doesn't mean an engineer will make a successful crew chief. “Absolutely not. It just doesn’t matter,” Rodden says. “When you’re the crew chief, you’ve got to be the leader of the team, you have to work well with all the NASCAR people, you’ve got to be able to take all the information from all the people you have working whether it’s the engineer, the tire guy or literally the janitor sweeping the shop … you have to use everyone's input." Rodney Childers, crew chief for defending series champion Kevin Harvick "is very methodical," he says. "He's a great racer. He probably could have gone to engineering school. He didn't, he went to race. Whereas Matt McCall (crew chief for driver Jamie McMurray ), he's a great racer. He went to engineering school at home and kept racing. "I think there are examples where it's easy to say it works and others where it doesn’t. Just like (Tony Gibson) on the 41, he’s got (Johnny) Klausmeier he relies on a lot." Gibson is crew chief of the Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet with driver Kurt Busch . "I think the biggest thing is just using all the input from all your guys," Rodden said. "It's too big for one person." His cars have had speed this year, although Rodden takes no credit for that. Part of the reason, he says, may be the current rules package, one that features less downforce and less horsepower. "We don't really worry about the speed as much as trying to get the car to driving good because that always seems to race a little bit better," he says. "You get sad maybe if you're not quite as fast as another car but we work on trying to get our car to drive good and have good speed, instead of just maybe being on the verge of spinning out every lap and being fast. Being smart about it, too." • • • NASCAR is a team sport, but Kahne knows his role is vital. As he goes, the fortunes of the No. 5 team follow. Teams have gotten smarter and worked harder through the various changes in the cars in recent years. "That's where as a driver you need to be able to adapt and be able to do your part," Kahne says. "I feel like I'm always close but I don't feel like I’m ever that guy on top. "There were times in '05 and '06 for sure when I felt I was as fast as anyone in this garage on a lot of occasions. And there have been times like that since, but just not as many. It's the way it goes. "I still have a lot of drive, I still want to race cars. I want to win races. I think if you have all that and you have that passion that eventually you’ll get it figured out and get back on top." No one would be more pleased to see that happen than Evernham, the former championship-winning crew chief with driver Jeff Gordon . "We're still searching for that key to unlock because I know there's a big part of Kasey Kahne in there," Evernham says. "He's 35 years old; we've got to unlock that but I believe that there's a championship driver in there." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Zack Albert follows up on Jeff Gordon 's final Sprint Cup race as a driver at his home track, Sonoma Raceway. ... Find out everything you need to know about NBC's NASCAR coverage as the network returns to racing this weekend at Daytona ... @nascarcasm shares fake photo captions from the weekend that was at Sonoma Raceway. TUESDAY: Kyle Busch won his way into a provisional Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berth on Sunday, and senior writer Kenny Bruce has reaction from the driver and his team on how they plan to crack the top 30 in points. ... Power Rankings is back after a weekend off. ... @nascarcasm has Busch's Facebook page. WEDNESDAY: It's 10 races until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , and Kathy Sheldon and Jessica Ruffin debate whether Jimmie Johnson or Kevin Harvick is the favorite to win the 2015 title. ... Check out the Sprint Cup Series and XFINITY Series patriotic paint schemes that will be on track this Fourth of July weekend. ...The Dirty Air podcast makes its debut. ... Senior writer Kenny Bruce gets you caught up on all competition aspects of the sport with his weekly Tech Talk story as NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell weighs in on Sonoma weekend on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. THURSDAY: Driver Reports welcomes Kyle Busch to the fold. Senior writer Holly Cain tells you want to expect at Daytona this weekend as it stages a race in the middle of DAYTONA Rising, the reimagining of an American icon ... Take a #TBT look at NBC's first race and Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s first Daytona Sprint Cup win in 2001. ... "From the Vault" looks back as Jeff Gordon beats Dale Earnhardt for his first restrictor plate win 20 years ago at Daytona. FRIDAY: The Sprint Cup Series and XFINITY Series have two practices apiece, starting at 2 p.m. ET. ... We'll also have eight of the best tweets that you may have missed from the previous week. ... Mobil 1 presents GarageCam, which takes you inside the Sprint Cup and XFINITY garages. Also coming this week: Patriotism is on parade and see the best photos in our special gallery. ... Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series is on Saturday afternoon. Get the live leaderboard at 4:35 p.m. ET and follow Sunday's race on NBC with a live leaderboard, RaceBuddy and RaceView.
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: With the Daytona race ending at nearly 3 a.m. ET, catch up on Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s win and Austin Dillon 's last-lap wreck ... Plus recap the race in GIFs with our Weekend in GIFs ... @nascarcasm recaps the race in photos as only he can. TUESDAY: This week's Power Rankings, presented by Outback, is sure to get a shakeup. Who will be No. 1? ... Kenny Bruce hits the high notes from the garage in this week's Tech Talk ... @nascarcasm delivers what Dale Jr.'s winning Facebook page might look like ... Wonder what drivers' first-ever tweets were? We've got that, too. WEDNESDAY: New paint schemes will be on display at Kentucky, and we'll have them all in Paint Scheme Preview ... Should NASCAR tweak the rules package at midseason? It's a debate in which Kenny Bruce and RJ Kraft will engage ... The Kentucky rules package will see its debut, too, with two testing sessions at the 1.5-mile track. Zack Albert and Jessica Ruffin will provide coverage, and NASCAR.com will have live leaderboards. THURSDAY: There are five on-track events Thursday, and we'll have every one covered -- from the 8 a.m. ET Truck Series practice to the 7:30 p.m. Truck Series race ... Driver Reports highlights which drivers currently in the Chase Grid do well (or poorly) at Kentucky ... It's Jeff Gordon Day in Pittsboro, Indiana, and @nascarcasm will be there. Seriously. FRIDAY: The second race of the weekend tripleheader is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET when the NASCAR XFINITY Series cars go under the lights ... Eight Tweets You May Have Missed highlights some of the best social media chatter from the past week. Also coming this week: Want to hear the best sounds from the scanner? That's coming Tuesday ... Holly Cain will follow up on Chase Elliott 's third-place finish at Daytona.
Catch up before Sunday's Windows 10 400 (1:30 p.m ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) What: 42nd annual Windows 10 400 Where: Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pennsylvania When: Sunday, August 2, 2015 TV/Radio: NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Distance: 160 laps (400 miles) Green Flag: 1:46 p.m. ET Pit Road Speed: 55 mph Caution Car Speed: 70 mph Fuel Window: 32 laps On The Front Row ( Full lineup ) 1. Kyle Busch , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (178.416 mph) 2. Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (178.168 mph) To the rear Jeb Burton , BK Racing No. 26 Toyota (going to backup car) Failed to Qualify None Fastest in Practice ( Full practice results ) First Practice: Brad Keselowski , Team Penske No. 2 Ford (176.606 mph) Second Practice: Carl Edwards , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota (175.812 mph) Third Practice: Kyle Busch , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (175.240 mph) Bumps be gone Two months ago, drivers complained about bumps in Turn 2 over Pocono's new waterfall entrance. The track paved over the section, and the racers have recognized the work done. " They did a great job repairing or improving the bumps and issues they had over in the Tunnel (Turn) especially on the apron," said an appreciative Dale Earnhardt Jr . But June winner Martin Truex Jr . may have lost an advantage, saying, "A few differences in the race track with the Tunnel Turn being smooth again, I think that certainly makes it a little bit easier on everybody else." Second consecutive sweep? Earnhardt won both races in 2014, and Truex will attempt to become the eighth driver to complete the season sweep at the Tricky Triangle. In addition to the two Juniors, the six other drivers who have achieved the Pocono sweep are Bobby Allison (1982), Bill Elliott (1985), Tim Richmond (1986), Bobby Labonte (1999), Jimmie Johnson (2004) and Denny Hamlin (2006). Four-Time's last time The all-time wins leader at Pocono, Jeff Gordon , will attempt to make his seventh trip to Richard Petty Victory Lane in his last start at the track. Gordon's last win at the Tricky Triangle came three years ago in this race when he snapped a tie with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott for lead. The facility incorporated "GORDON" into the start/finish line, and it has a "Thank you Jeff 24" sign greeting patrons and race teams as they drive out of the track under the Tunnel Turn. Birthday bonanza A win would be an early birthday present for Gordon, who turns 44 next Tuesday, as well as his crew chief, Alan Gustafson, who turns 40 next Wednesday when fellow Hendrick crew chief, Chad Knaus, turns 44 as well. Last year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year winner, Kyle Larson , celebrated his 23rd birthday on Friday, and 38th-place qualifier Jeb Burton will join him at that age next Thursday. A two-time Pocono winner, Kurt Busch , turns 37 next Tuesday. Four in a row Coors Light Pole Award winner Kyle Busch will attempt to become the first driver to win four consecutive Sprint Cup Series races since Jimmie Johnson won four Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup races in a row in the fall of 2007. Other drivers with wins across a month of consecutive Sundays include NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott , David Pearson, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough. Others to turn the trick have been Harry Gant, Jeff Gordon , Mark Martin and Billy Wade. If Busch wins, he'll go for five in a row at Watkins Glen and try to become the first driver to accomplish the feat since another NASCAR Hall of Famer, Bobby Allison, did it in 1971. Richard Petty holds the record with 10. Taking the fifth Kyle Busch and Harvick haven't won on five of 23 Sprint Cup Series tracks, and Pocono is one they have in common. In addition to the Tricky Triangle, Harvick is winless at Dover, Kentucky, Sonoma and Texas while Busch hasn't gone to Victory Lane at Charlotte, Homestead-Miami, Kansas and Martinsville. Chevy seeks milestone The Bowtie Brigade has won six consecutive races at the track, and if it wins on Sunday, it will make the 750th victory for the manufacturer. Seventy-six different drivers have won in a Chevy, which has claimed 38 manufacturer titles including the last 12. Gordon boasts the most wins with 92, followed by Johnson with 74, Earnhardt (73), Waltrip (60) and Yarborough (48). Next new winner? Through 20 races, 10 drivers have won their way into the Chase with Kyle Busch on the cusp of making the top 30 and becoming the 11th driver to make the playoffs, leaving five spots with six events until the field is set. Of top 30 drivers without a win in 2015, Larson has the best average finish of eighth. The second-best driver in that group is two-time Pocono winner, Stewart, with a 12.1 average finish. Another former winner, Ryan Newman , is third with a 12.4 average finish. Double-duty dudes JJ Yeley skipped Saturday's practices to head to Iowa and run the XFINITY race. Four drivers competed in Saturday's Camping World Truck Series race at Pocono: Kyle Busch , Austin Dillon , Harvick and Brad Keselowski . Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Pocono based on races since 2005: 1. Denny Hamlin , 108.3 2. Jimmie Johnson , 106.9 3. Kurt Busch , 105.9 Defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet Former Pocono winners in the field Jeff Gordon (6); Denny Hamlin (4); Jimmie Johnson (3); Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards (2); Ryan Newman , Joey Logano , Brad Keselowski , Greg Biffle , Martin Truex Jr . (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