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Five cool Dale Jr. stats in addition to 600 starts
BUY TICKETS: Celebrate Auto Club's 20th anniversary As Dale Earnhardt Jr. prepares to make start No. 600 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), we thought it'd be fun to find five other interesting stats about Junior, courtesy of RacingReference.com : 170,689 Matt Kenseth (176,372) is the only active driver with more laps than Earnhardt Jr., who ranks 21st on the all-time list with 170,689 laps. Dale Earnhardt Sr. is 15th with 202,288 laps, and Richard Petty is tops with 307,836. Earnhardt Jr. has averaged about 9,000 laps per season, so it's conceivable he could catch his dad in about three to four years. .1752 Junior is third in winning percentage in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at .1752 (17 percent). He's behind only Kyle Busch (.2636) and Mark Martin (.2076). Earnhardt Jr. has 24 wins in 137 career XFINITY Series races, with 13 of those victories coming in 1998 and '99 when he won back-to-back series championships. 94 Earnhardt Jr. has 94 podium finishes (first, second or third place) in the Monster Energy Series, which puts him 25th all-time in this category. He's four behind Matt Kenseth and five back of Kyle Busch. Richard Petty is tops with 461 on a list that reads like the head table lineup at a NASCAR Hall of Fame banquet. 412 Junior has 412 lead-lap finishes in the Monster Energy Series, which puts him in eighth place all-time. That's a testament to his longevity and consistency, and puts him just eight behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson. Former teammate Jeff Gordon sits atop this list with 588. 148 Earnhardt Jr. has 148 top- five finishes in the Monster Energy Series, tying him with Kyle Busch for 24th place all-time heading into Auto Club. Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson are the only active drivers ahead of Junior on this list. Richard Petty is on top of the mountain with 555 top- five finishes. Junior has 26 career Cup wins, but he's been in contention for wins many times. Do your own stats query on RacingReference.com . &<span _rtetemp="spchk" style="background-color: #ffffaa;" _rtespchksugg="Lt"alt"ult"flt"let"lit"lat"lot"ltd"t">am</span>p;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Post-Race Reactions: Fast Five 225
Kevin Harvick, Nelson Piquet Jr., Parker Kligerman and James Buescher comment on their solid runs at Chicagoland Speedway.
Luza strikes it rich at Las Vegas
RELATED: See the complete iRacing schedule At the onset of the 2017 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series, many of the series’ tenured drivers looked to NASCAR Pro Series Champion, Ryan Luza, as the biggest threat to dethrone 3-time and reigning champion, Ray Alfalla. After a lackluster start at Daytona, some cast doubt on the abilities of the young gun; however, after his dominant win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Round Two of the season, series rookies and veterans alike should take notice. Matt Bussa, driver of the #34 WinView Games Toyota Camry, started the race at the helm. A regular in the NASCAR iRacing Series, Bussa looked to capitalize on his superb starting position. However, he would have to wait for a few laps to show his hand as the 167-lap event was slowed before the completion of its opening lap, as Mitchell Hunt spun at the exit of Turn 2, collecting Byron Daley, Michael Johnson, and Nicholas Johnston. Hunt and Daley immediately retired after sustaining irreparable damage, while Johnson and Johnston mustered on for the remainder of the evening. Bussa led the field back to green on lap six, with Alfalla, Luza, and Marcus Richardson in tow. The #34 machine led the opening twenty-eight laps, before succumbing to an insurmountable challenge by Luza’s eventual race winning #1 Racerboost Ford Fusion. Luza held station at the top spot for the remainder of the race, only losing the lead during several green flag pit stop cycles. With the race slowed by just one additional caution period, efficiency whilst entering/exit pit road was key. Over the course of the event, cars began searching for new grooves, as grip was at a premium. Competitors ran from the top of the racing surface to the track’s white line. Front runners mimicked each other’s lines, thus trading fast laps back and forth. As one competitor found a faster groove, the rest followed and vice versa. Amid the constant search for the fastest way around LVMS, former series champion Kenny Humpe found trouble off of Turn 2, slapping the outside retaining wall. He suffered damage that would ultimately take him out of contention for a top dozen finishing position. Facing issues at the opposite end of the track, Taylor Hurst made contact with series rookie Christian Challiner, which resulted in Hurst’s #78 Chevy side-swiping the SAFER barrier. The sim racers completed their final pit stop sequence with about 35 laps remaining. Luza cycled around with a two second lead, and built on that until the race’s completion. Michael Conti, who started 30th on the evening, made a charge to second-place following the last round of pit stops only to fall victim to a pit miscue that shorted him three laps of fuel. The 2014 series champion made a stop with three to go, which resulted in a 34th place finish by the #5 Chevrolet. On a happier note, Cody Byus, 2016 championship runner-up, PJ Stergios, Alfalla, and Logan Clampitt rounded out the top five behind Luza at night’s end. With two races in the books, it remains to be seen whether Luza showed his true form with his win in Vegas . . . or his tenth place finish at Daytona. Meanwhile, although he has so far been shut-out of victory lane, with two top five finishes to his credit Alfalla is itching to notch his first W of the season. So too are former champions Humpe and Conti and a host more. Who will rise to the top in Round Three? We’ll find out in two weeks’ time when the series rolls into its second stop of its version of the West Coast Swing -Auto Club Speedway. Tune into www.iracing.com/live at 8:45 p.m. eastern time on April 4 to catch the action live!
No. 22, three other cars miss qualifying after tech holdups
BUY TICKETS: Celebrate Auto Club's 20th anniversary RELATED: No. 48 opts not to make qualifying run " Larson on pole FONTANA, Calif. -- Joey Logano will join defending Auto Club 400 race winner Jimmie Johnson near the rear of Sunday's starting grid. They are among a small group of drivers who did not turn a single qualifying lap in Friday afternoon's time trials at 2-mile Auto Club Speedway. While Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports team chose not to attempt a qualifying lap after going to a backup car, Logano's Team Penske group was unable to clear inspection in time to get his car on track. It had been fifth fastest in opening practice. MORE: Starting lineup for Sunday's race Five cars in all did not participate in qualifying. Trevor Bayne, Matt DiBenedetto and rookie Gray Gaulding joined Logano and Johnson without a qualifying attempt in the late-afternoon session. While frustrated with the turn of events, Logano remained optimistic about his chances come race day. "No sense being mad about it now," said Logano, driver of the No. 22 AAA Southern California Ford. "You have to look ahead and I think our car is fast . Tires wear out here so as everyone is making laps on their first run tires now, that's our advantage. The disadvantage is we're starting form the back. "But here we go. It'll be exciting. We'll be making big moves, I know that." Bayne, Logano, DiBenedetto and Gaulding all will lose 15 minutes of practice time because of the qualifying inspection issues. The No. 6 failed LIS twice; the Nos. 22, 23 and 32 all failed LIS the second time through. In addition, David Ragan will be on a 15-minute practice hold Saturday after his No. 38 was found to have missing seals. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Rhodes' rebirth leads to top five in Atlanta
RELATED: Race results " Standings " Detailed breakdown HAMPTON, Ga. -- The fire that forced a midseason rebuilding effort at ThorSport Racing last year impacted all of its four teams in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. From a results standpoint, ThorSport driver Ben Rhodes was not immune. That's why Saturday's showing at Atlanta Motor Speedway gave Rhodes reason for optimism as he dives into his second full season in the series. Rhodes finished fourth in the Active Pest Control 200, finishing just behind race winner Christopher Bell of Kyle Busch Motorsports, Rhodes' ThorSport teammate, runner-up Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter. RELATED: Bell takes Atlanta Truck Series race The top- five effort helped soothe some of the hardships Rhodes & Co. endured over the latter part of 2016. The strength he showed in the opening nine races of the year gave way to four DNFs and just one top-10 over the final 14 events. Saturday, things started looking up. "I had a really tough year, so it's really encouraging that we can come out here and get a good finish like this and see that we can run strong," Rhodes said after emerging from his No. 27 Toyota. "And now that the truck's all in one piece, that's an added bonus because all last year, it seemed like no matter what we did, something would happen and we would get caught up in somebody's mess. Tire would blow, engine would blow … something would happen. So it's really, really nice to put a good finish together." After a rookie season that held so much promise, Rhodes and his crew have made the earliest steps toward a rebirth. The 20-year-old driver has a new crew chief in Eddie Troconis, a new car number based on sponsor Safelite's preference, and a new, reconstructed shop in their Sandusky, Ohio, home. RELATED: ThorSport rebuilds after devastating fire "Ever since the shop's been rebuilt, these guys have worked their tails off over the wintertime, working 80 hours a week to get these trucks built and build some fast Tundras at that," Rhodes said. "I really think that we're going to be a contender for many, many, many wins throughout the season." Said Troconis: "We came here and we showed that ThorSport regrouped over the offseason and worked really hard all December and January, and now we're trying to beat the KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) trucks. They were the dominant team last year, and we're right there with them. We showed that it's not just one truck with Crafton that has a lot of experience, but also the young rookie guns. "So Ben's second year, we have a lot of work to do still, but I feel like definitely we're going to have a lot of potential. We're going to give a run at KBM." Rhodes battled back from a pair of hurdles during Saturday's 200-miler. He first made progress from a 15th-place qualifying effort that left him with a midpack start. And he also found himself at a disadvantage in a series of late-race restarts, mired in the treacherous outside lane and at a higher risk of wheel spin. The lineup shuffle for the final two restarts gave him the preferred inside lane and kept him in victory contention. Though he settled for fourth, he still managed a grin when asked about the race's possibilities. "If a couple things play out a little bit differently, I think we could be on the frontstretch doing donuts right now," Rhodes said.
NASCAR announces race package for XFINITY Series race at Indianapolis
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Indianapolis Teams competing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway later this year will do so with a race package that incorporates three major modifications aimed at one goal -- improved competition at the legendary 2.5-mile speedway. Designed specifically for the 100-lap race scheduled for July 22, the modifications consist of a taller rear spoiler and splitter package; aero ducts on the lower front bumper area; and a 7/8th-inch restrictor plate currently used for superspeedway events at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. The static ride height of the cars will remain at 4 inches, which is unchanged from the current 2017 rules package. The Indy package was crafted after much in-house simulation and development and then field-tested on Oct. 12 at IMS for verification. XFINITY Series teams from Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and Kaulig Racing participated in the test. "We (develop) the analytical package and come to some conclusions," Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR Senior Vice President, Innovation and Racing Development, told NASCAR.com. "But then we also need to go on the track and verify this. So this approach has been a two-step approach, analytical creation of the package and then on-track verification. "We race at 29 tracks (across all three national series) and they're all very special," Stefanyshyn added. "Indianapolis has a long history; it's a wonderful track. Our objective is to give our fans the best possible show we can. We are very proud of being able to participate at Indy; we want to put our best foot forward. We believe we have come up with a package that gives us the best opportunity to do that." MORE: IMS announces updated race weekend schedule Stefanyshyn said officials had teams run various packages during the test. While the use of the restrictor plates enabled the cars to run closer together, the ability to pull out and pass remained difficult. "We saw the cars were closer together, but we weren't able to create some passing until we introduced the aero ducts," he said. "That's the main purpose of the ducts, to give the trailing car more of an advantage … we always hear about clean air and how the leader has clean air. Our objective here is to try to give the trail car more benefit." Without the aero ducts, cars running down long straightaways such as those at IMS hit a wall of air, which creates "a significant horsepower deficit" when they get within approximately one car-length of the lead car, Stefanyshyn said. The aero ducts direct air in through the existing brake ducts and out through the wheelhouse on each side. The high speed air flowing out creates a larger hole or "envelope" for the trailing car. Use of the aero ducts should increase the amount of horsepower differential for the trailing car by approximately 25 percent. "We're giving the driver more momentum from four- five car lengths back, gaining coming into within half a car length; when he gets right into that bubble, he's still got to cross through it, but he's carrying momentum and he can break through it," Stefanyshyn said. Stefanyshyn said incorporation of the package isn't "a slam dunk," but studies and testing have thus far validated the changes. "Our belief is that we will create a situation where they can pass on the straightaways," he said. "That's been done analytically, it's been done with three cars. The question is when we turn 40 cars loose on the track can that still manifest itself and that's still what we’re hoping will happen." Speeds likely won't vary greatly with the new package, and the use of restrictor plates isn't expected to generate the big packs of traffic on the track similar to what typically is seen at Daytona and Talladega. Stefanyshyn said it's more likely that there will be several groups of five or six cars each, "and in each of those groupings we're hoping to see passing on the straightaways." The XFINITY Series has competed at IMS since 2012, and the lack of passing on the big, flat track has been a concern for NASCAR and speedway officials. Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing) led more than half the laps in winning the last two XFINITY Series races at Indy and he led 92 of 100 when he won the race in 2013. Dale Earnhardt Jr. addressed the racing package this week during his weekly Dale Jr. Download podcast. Earnhardt Jr. competes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for Hendrick Motorsports. He is also co-owner of JR Motorsports, which fields four full-time teams in the XFINITY Series. "I'm curious to see (the changes)," he said. "I think NASCAR sees this as an idea on how fix racing in general at Indianapolis." According to NASCAR officials, there currently are no plans in place to utilize the package at any other venue or in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Larson right at home with Coors Light Pole at Auto Club
BUY TICKETS: Qualifying results " See every car " Buy tickets for Auto Club WATCH: 1-on-1 conversation with Larson California native Kyle Larson stormed to the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Auto Club Speedway. Larson notched a best lap of 187.047 mph with the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet around the 2-mile track. He'll lead the 39-car field to the green flag in Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the series' fifth race of the season and the closing event in the three-race NASCAR Goes West swing. "Really happy though, our Target team has been amazing to start the season and to get a pole is great," the series points leader said following qualifying. "I haven't gotten a pole since my rookie season. Yeah, this is awesome. "I can't say enough about everybody at our race shop for all the hard work they have been putting in." The Coors Light Pole is Larson's first of the season, first at the home-state speedway and second of his Monster Energy Cup Series career. His other pole came at Pocono Raceway during his rookie season in 2014. MORE: Larson tops first practice, to o Denny Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota will flank Larson's car on the front row after grabbing the second starting position with a lap of 186.979 mph in the last of three qualifying sessions. Hamlin had the provisional pole until Larson knocked him off, leading the JGR driver to playfully fling water at Larson's car as it came back to pit road. Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr. and last week's winner, Ryan Newman, completed the top five in Friday's qualifying. Larson's pole run capped an eventful qualifying session, with five cars failing to make qualifying attempts for different reasons. Jimmie Johnson, a six-time Auto Club winner, crashed his primary No. 48 Chevrolet near the end of opening practice. With no laps on an untested reserve car, the Hendrick Motorsports team opted to skip the session. RELATED: Johnson sits out qualifying Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Gray Gaulding and Matt DiBenedetto failed to log speeds in the opening 20-minute round after their cars did not make it to the grid through pre-qualifying inspection. MORE: Logano, more miss qualifying after tech holdups "It happens. We're a team, right?" Logano said after missing out on the first round. "Obviously, everyone's trying to push it and get every ounce of speed out of our cars when we can. I don't even know why we didn't make it through on time. ... No big deal." Keselowski and Paul Menard both drove away after scrapes with the Turn 2 wall during the second of three rounds. Two more practice sessions are scheduled Saturday for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. &lt;/p&gt;
Getting started: Aspen Dental, NASCAR partnership expands
RELATED: Aspen Dental expands role with Patrick " Aspen Dental named 'Official Dentist of NASCAR' Five weeks ago, Aspen Dental expanded its backing of Stewart-Haas Racing and driver Danica Patrick by boosting the number of NASCAR races for its primary sponsorship into double digits. Friday, the company took another step in increasing its exposure through the sport. NASCAR and Aspen Dental announced a multiyear agreement Friday that makes the Syracuse, New York-based network of dental care providers the "Official Dentists of NASCAR." The partnership dovetails with the advent of Aspen Dental's "Get Started" initiative, a program that promotes oral health awareness with the help of Patrick and NASCAR. Michelle Vaeth, Aspen Dental Management's vice president of communications, recalled sitting at a conference table with NASCAR officials several months ago in the sanctioning body's Charlotte, North Carolina, headquarters. The lively discussion turned to the 150 million Americans who avoided dental visits last year and how the company's next initiative, a program which would eventually become "Get Started," planned to combat that treatment gap.
Larson leaps atop first practice at Auto Club
RELATED: Practice 1 results " Buy tickets for Auto Club Kyle Larson put his name atop the early speed charts at Auto Club Speedway, topping the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice. Larson powered to a best lap of 189.071 mph on the 2-mile track, setting the early pace in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet. The unofficial lap was better than the track qualifying record of 188.511 mph, set by Denny Hamlin in Coors Light Pole Qualifying last year. Hamlin continued his show of California speed, logging the second-fastest lap in the 85-minute session, posting a lap of 188.462 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota. Kevin Harvick (188.344 mph), Jamie McMurray (187.94 mph) and Joey Logano (187.588 mph) completed the top five in preparation for Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the final event of the three-race NASCAR Goes West swing. The opening practice was an eventful one with three stoppages -- including one for an incident involving seven-time series champ Jimmie Johnson, a six-time Auto Club winner. Johnson spun his Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet off Turn 4, narrowly avoiding the car of Kurt Busch on the apron before his car's body plowed into the infield grass. The damage was not major, but significant enough that the crew opted to unload and prep its reserve car for the balance of the race weekend. "We just showed up at the track swinging hard and trying to get all that we can," Johnson said, noting to FS1 that the team was focused on improving its qualifying efforts. "We crossed the line there for sure and the car came around on me." The session's other interruptions were varied. The opening of practice was delayed for sweepers and blowers to clean off the backstretch. Shortly after practice began, an owl planted itself on the race track, halting the cars until safety workers were able to remove it. RELATED: Owl disrupts opening practice Ryan Newman, last week's winner at Phoenix Raceway, was 15th-fastest at 188.921 mph in the Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet. Several drivers served penalties at the start of practice for their teams' tardiness to inspection last weekend at Phoenix. The following drivers were held 15 minutes for being late to qualifying inspection: Trevor Bayne, Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chris Buescher, David Ragan, AJ Allmendinger, Timmy Hill, Derrike Cope, Corey LaJoie and Michael McDowell. The cars for Erik Jones and Matt DiBenedetto were held 30 minutes for being late to pre-qualifying and pre-race inspection. </p>
Lambert relishes first Monster Energy Series win
BUY TICKETS: Celebrate Auto Club's 20th anniversary MORE: Race results " Post-Phoenix standings Richard Childress Racing crew chief Luke Lambert led Ryan Newman and the No. 31 Grainger Chevrolet team to one of the gutsiest and most popular wins in recent NASCAR history last Sunday at Phoenix Raceway. While most of the race field made a final pit stop with a handful of laps remaining, Lambert told Newman to stay out on track. And the veteran driver made the decision look brilliant leading the final six laps to win his first race since 2013 -- a dramatic win from the pole position at Indianapolis. It was Lambert's first ever Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory as crew chief and came in his 157th Monster Energy Cup Series race atop the box and fourth season working with Newman. Looking at the next few races, Newman has five top-10 finishes in his last seven races at this weekend's venue, the two-mile Auto Club Speedway. He scored wins at Martinsville Speedway in 2012 and Texas Motor Speedway in 2003. Lambert, 34, was understandably optimistic when NASCAR.com caught up with him on Tuesday and feels that this team certainly has the potential to win again … and again before season's end. MORE: Childress, Newman win together " Crew call with the No. 31 team HOLLY CAIN: What a memorable way to get a first win as a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series crew chief? LUKE LAMBERT: It was spectacular for sure. We are thankful for being able to put it all together. It was a good day. CAIN: Now that you've had some time to digest this great win, what has the reaction been like from others? LAMBERT: There's certainly been a lot of very gracious congratulations from a lot of people. A lot of people are giving me a lot of the credit, which I think is not completely all due. Ultimately I'm just one cog in the wheel. Everybody at the company has worked so hard to get us there. I think everyone deserves a lot of pride and exuberance for us to be able to get the victory because it certainly took every one of us." CAIN: The win meant so much to the organization as a whole. How did it feel to do something so important for not only the team but for team owner Richard Childress, whose teams haven't won since 2013 either? LAMBERT: It was almost surreal in a lot of ways. We'd been working tirelessly for so long and felt like we had been making gains and getting closer to that mark. But it's almost as if chasing a moving target because of how competitive the sport is. You hope and plan to reach your goals but you can’t be sure it will happen. It was surreal we were actually able to follow through and really enjoy that moment. I felt like the first few races of the year, we've had great cars. I felt like we've had cars that, in the right circumstances, could win the race. Our car at Atlanta was really strong. The Vegas car was strong. We just fought unforeseen circumstances at both of those races -- electrical at Atlanta and tire at Vegas. I really felt like we've had a lot of momentum with the team but the results on paper weren't really reflecting the direction we were going until Sunday. CAIN: With the change in the points structure, how different does it make your approach for the rest of the season having already secured a win only four races into the schedule? LAMBERT: Ultimately it's still a huge step towards being closer to making it into the championship. Getting our win puts us in a scenario we have not been in for the last few years. It does move our season along a lot faster than in years past. The last couple of years we've been holding onto that points position as our transfer spot into the playoffs so we really had to preserve solid finishes and couldn't take gambles for bonus points. Now, we are really racing for those bonus points, for wins and stage wins. So we can take chances that might sacrifice a solid finish in order to go after stage wins. So that's the scenario we’re in and as a team that will be really fun to race like that. As a team we will try equally as hard as we ever have, it just changes the risk-reward balance and affects some of the decisions we get to make. RELATED: Newman pumped to be back in Victory Lane CAIN: Have you spoken to Ryan post-Victory Lane and how are you two still savoring the win? LAMBERT: We hung out for a while yesterday (Monday) and neither of us had really gotten much sleep. He got like an hour and I actually never laid down Monday night (laughter). We got lunch together today and we were both kinda starting to hit that wall. He was physically exhausted and he was burnt up pretty bad from the heat in the car -- his feet and the backs of his legs actually have some pretty severe burns on them. He was kinda hurting. I was tired. More than anything else, we were elated but exhausted at the same time. We talked about how glad we were to be able to accomplish that, but we also talked about Fontana (Auto Club) and started working on our plans to have a car that could win at Fontana this weekend. CAIN: How does this early success change things going forward for your team and the whole organization? LAMBERT: It absolutely can (change things). The thing about racing, they don't give the checkered flag to the fastest race car. They give the checkered flag to the one that crosses the finish line first. You have to have a really good car to do that. Sometimes the fastest car doesn't. It takes certain circumstances to fall your way and you have to do everything right and get a little fortune along with it for most races. For everything to all come together Sunday, proved and reiterated to our group that we have what it takes. And it changes our position in the playoffs as far as having that win and gives us a little more pep in our step to be able to operate a little more aggressively. Having that early is just a big boost of excitement that I think will propel our season in a really strong direction. &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;