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No. 29 car failed post-qualifying inspection, shuffling lineup RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Joe Nemechek 's qualifying time for the GEICO 500 (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN) was disallowed, NASCAR officials said after Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series . Nemechek's No. 29 car, which had qualified 24th, failed post-qualifying inspection for an improperly sealed oil tank encasement. Reed Sorenson , who was initially thought to have missed the race, was replaced in the field based on his qualifying speed. Sorenson posted a speed of 189.305 mph in the opening round of group qualifying. The driver of the No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet will line up 36th in Sunday's field. Sorenson has one top-10 finish at the 2.66-mile track, which came in 2007. By making the GEICO 500 grid, Sorenson has now been in the starting lineup for every race this year. Nemechek has made 15 Sprint Cup Series starts this year but has failed to make it into the field in both of his tries in the No. 29 Toyota. Nemechek joined Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier as the drivers who failed to make the 43-car field at Talladega. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford fails to make GEICO 500 field MORE: Sunday's starting lineup RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Changes to NASCAR's qualifying format for the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway produced a number of surprises, not the least of which was the failure of Ricky Stenhouse Jr . to earn a starting berth in the 43-car field. The Roush Fenway Racing driver was one of three that failed to earn a starting position based on his qualifying speed -- Justin Allgaier and Reed Sorenson also failed to post times fast enough to crack the top 36 here Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway . Sorenson ( Tommy Baldwin Racing ), 36th fastest in the opening round, was eventually added to the lineup after Joe Nemechek 's No. 29 Toyota failed post-qualifying inspection. "I didn't consider the fact that our position in points would leave us in jeopardy," Roush Fenway Racing co-owner Jack Roush said afterward. "That was a blind side on my part. It's unfortunate we weren't in a better place in points, and that we had as many good cars as we did that didn't qualify based on time. It's just unbelievable that we didn't get on the race track in time to get a lap there." Stenhouse has made 72 starts in Sprint Cup competition, including 67 in a row since moving up to the series full time a year ago. He made five starts between 2011-12 while winning back-to-back championships in NASCAR's Nationwide Series . His team's DNQ was the result of several things, from Saturday's slow qualifying speed to his team's position in the owner points standings. During the first round, Stenhouse posted a speed of 176.947 mph, just 43rd overall for the round. While unfortunate, under normal circumstances, he would have been one of several slotted into the field in one of the seven remaining positions available based on owner points. But because seven drivers higher in owner points failed to crack the top 36 (Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin , Kevin Harvick , Joey Logano , Kyle Busch , Kyle Larson and Jeff Gordon ), Stenhouse Jr. wasn't able to secure one of those starting spots. NASCAR determines its 43-car lineup based on the following: positions 1-36 are awarded based solely on lap times. Positions 37-43 are awarded based on a team's rank in the owner standings, and assigned positions based on their lap times. (If a former champion fails to post a speed in the top 36, he may be assigned the 43rd position, if his team isn't high enough in the owners' points standings to receive one of those berths.) NASCAR made changes to the qualifying format for Talladega, with teams split into two groups for the first round, and limiting the time of the round to five minutes. The latter change meant teams would likely get one opportunity to post a qualifying run with no time to return to pit road, allow their cars to cool and return to the track should it be necessary. Stenhouse was last in line in a group of cars that included Gordon and Harvick making their qualifying laps in the first round. But when Gordon slowed (to create a gap between his group and another group ahead of the pack), it slowed those behind him. Because they didn't get back to the start/finish line in time, they were unable to post another lap. "I thought being the last car in line would be beneficial for us," Stenhouse said. "We had Jeff Gordon leading the pack there; I thought we would have a good shot at putting a good lap in, but my spotter was telling me '‘hey, you have 30 seconds to get across the start/finish line' as we were entering Turn 3. "I don't guess the 24’s (spotter) was giving him a lot of information. He kept slowing the pack down and we didn't get a good lap and never got across the start/finish line in time. "My spotter was giving me the information I needed and I wish the 24 would have been doing the same." Stenhouse later tweeted the following: All I got tough day pic.twitter.com/4KWEFvpmQ9 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (@StenhouseJr) October 18, 2014 Gordon said the qualifying plan "was shot before the plan started." "I messed up ultimately," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. "I just mistimed getting to the line. The whole group was going so slow I knew I had to have a gap and when I came across the line I thought I had enough (time) to be able to complete that lap and get one more, which was the only way we were going to make it. "But we came up short. It's a mess out there. It's not easy." It was the second time this season a driver from the RFR stable failed to qualify for a Sprint Cup race. A week ago at Charlotte Motor Speedway , Nationwide Series regular Trevor Bayne was unable to qualify for the Bank of America 500 in a fourth RFR entry fielded just for that race. Roush, whose organization also fields Sprint Cup entries for drivers Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards , didn't blame the qualifying format for the setback. "We just didn't get on the race track fast enough and I'm not sure who actually made that call. I'm not sure if it was left up to Ricky or the spotter or (crew chief) Mike Kelley," Roush said. "It's my responsibility to make sure we execute our program so we have a chance to qualify. We clearly didn't do it here and that's an oversight." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
New crew chief for Paul Menard prepared for Talladega RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today TALLADEGA, Ala. – Justin Alexander makes his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway as a crew chief. Alexander, 33, is replacing Richard "Slugger" Labbe atop the pit box for the Richard Childress Racing No. 27 team with driver Paul Menard . "I've been looking forward to this for a long time," Alexander said Saturday at the 2.66-mile track. "It's a special opportunity." A Charlotte native, Alexander worked in several roles at Hendrick Motorsports before making the move to RCR before the start of the 2014 season. He served as a shock specialist for the teams of drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson in 2003 before moving into the role of lead engineer for Johnson's No. 48 team in '05. He spent the '06 season as an R&D engineer at Hendrick, then was named lead engineer for Gordon’s No. 24 organization in '09. "It's all the same; just different organizations," Alexander said. "I learned a lot at Hendrick and that prepared me a lot for what I'm doing right now. It's just a really good preparation. But really, the same things apply. Nothing is really that different. It's just organizational stuff. "I've worked with Chad (Knaus) and Steve Letarte and I've learned a lot from those guys. They both have different styles in doing things. And honestly, you don't really know until you get to this position to how you're going to run things. But I have my own way and it's not like anybody else’s. But I'm learning as I go a little bit and so I'm looking forward to it." Knaus has won six championships with Johnson while Letarte served as Gordon's crew chief before taking over the same role with driver Dale Earnhardt Jr . Alexander holds a mechanical engineering degree from North Carolina State University. Although the racing can be intense at Talladega, he said it's a "good place" to make his debut. "Talladega is not too terribly intensive on the set-ups of the cars, so to speak, and changes on pit road," Alexander said. "From that standpoint, it makes it a little bit easier. "But really, anywhere, I think I'd be fine. But Talladega is a good place to start." Labbe will oversee the research and development program at RCR. The car chief for Terry Labonte 's championship-winning team in 1996, Labbe won five races as crew chief. Among those victories were the 2003 Daytona 500 with Michael Waltrip and the 2011 Brickyard 400 with Menard. Menard enters Sunday's GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Talladega 21st in points. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
'Topping out' ceremony latest marker as construction carries on RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Photo courtesy of Daytona International Speedway 's Facebook page DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In keeping with a long-held construction tradition, Daytona International Speedway participated in a "topping out" ceremony this afternoon to install the highest piece of steel in the $400 million Daytona Rising project. And in keeping with the bigger-is-better tradition of NASCAR's crown jewel race facility, Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood marked the occasion in a unique way -- enlisting the help of NASCAR's founding France family and hundreds of employees and construction workers. "When we found out about that, we said, let's 'Daytona-ize' that, let's have some fun with it,'" Chitwood said. "So I reached out to the (France) family and they definitely wanted to participate so we created a really nice activity so the family can truly put their stamp on this construction. "We've got a really nice plaque that will go on this piece of steel and have all the family members sign this piece of steel. "Then when you lift it into place, everyone blows whistles during the lift and install. "It also commemorates our halfway point so it's hard to believe we are halfway through our project and have only 15 more months to go. There's a lot of work to do but this is a great way to keep our momentum going as we cross the halfway point." International Speedway Corporation Chairman of the Board Jim France, along with ISC CEO Lesa France Kennedy and her son, Camping World Truck Series driver Ben Kennedy are among those from the family who signed the plaque to commemorate the "topping out" occasion. The $400 million construction project represents the largest infrastructure investment in ISC history. New seating is among the massive state-of-the-art improvement plan and Chitwood said 40,000 of the new seats will be in place for the 2015 Daytona 500 in February. "I think it's really important to celebrate these milestones because it's such a significant project," Chitwood said. "As we kind of walk in the footsteps of Bill [France] Sr. and reimagine this icon, these are the times to celebrate what we've done so far. And it's impressive. The steel looks great, the structure is awesome, the concourses are exactly what we thought it would be and this is another way to stay excited for what 2015 will be." The highest point steel beam will include signatures from the France family on a special plaque and it will fly a DIS flag and American flag as well as a tree, per tradition. Chitwood said the construction is top speed right now with the rainy summer season in Florida finished. The Daytona 500 is still five months away and this is the longest stretch without being "race ready." "To think a year and three months ago there was no structure above the ground or below the ground, no structure anywhere,'" Chitwood said. "We've done all this in a little more than a year and it's amazing how much work has happened. "It also gives you a sense of how enormous this will be when it's done, the magnitude of it. All the designs look great, the creative, but to see it in reality and how big it is and how much steel it is, it really makes you understand we're involved in something very special." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule