Carl Edwards wins the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr, and Jeff Gordon discuss the events that took place during the Federated Auto Parts 400.
RCR driver scores fourth career XFINITY Series win RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings " Learn more about Dash 4 Cash CONCORD, N.C. – For the second straight Saturday, Denny Hamlin had the chance to hold off a race's strongest car for the victory. Unlike last Saturday's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, however, there were too many laps left after the final restart in Saturday's Hisense 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series, and polesitter Austin Dillon powered past Hamlin on Lap 186 of 200 to finish the race where he belonged—at the front of the field. By the time he crossed the finish line, Dillon was 2.692 seconds ahead of Hamlin, who had taken the lead during a restart on Lap 167 that saw Dillon fall back to fourth from the inside lane by the time the leaders exited Turn 2. One by one, Dillon picked off Regan Smith , Kahne and Hamlin on the way to his second XFINITY Series victory of the season, his first at Charlotte and the fourth of his career. Kahne ran third behind Dillon and Hamlin, followed by Smith and rookies Darrell Wallace Jr . and Daniel Suarez . Ty Dillon came home seventh and trimmed the series lead of 11th-place finisher Chris Buescher to four points. Dillon led 163 laps and held an advantage of more than six seconds during a 54-lap green-flag run that preceded the second caution of the race on Lap 110. How good was Dillon's No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet? "I didn't want to get out of this thing," Dillon said in Victory Lane. "This thing drove so good. It was a heck of a race there with Denny at the end and Kasey (Kahne). I had to go right there in lapped traffic (to make the winning pass). "I knew if I didn't hurry up and get in front of him right there, the tires might equalize (in terms of grip)." But when Dillon picked the inside lane for what proved to be the final restart—after a caution for Kyle Fowler 's wreck in Turn 1—Hamlin seized what he considered a fortuitous opportunity and surged into the lead. "I thought when the 33 gave us the outside, that was a big advantage for us if we could stay with him through Turns 1 and 2," said Hamlin, who last Saturday held off Kevin Harvick in the final 10-lap shootout to win the Sprint All-Star Race. "We (did), and it allowed us to get position on him and even get him shuffled a few spots. "That was all good, but his car was just so fast he just overcame that track position." Hamlin lost the lead when the lapped car of Peyton Sellers stayed low and forced Hamlin's No. 54 Toyota to pass on the outside. "I needed to stay on the bottom," Hamlin said. "My car was best on the bottom. His car was pinned to the bottom as well. So I needed all of the lapped cars to move up high, and all of them did, except for the 97 (Sellers). He gave us the high line. That just killed us and killed our chances from that point, once the 33 got to our inside." Dillon chose the inside line because his car had worked well on the bottom for the entire race to that point. "My spotter (Andy Houston) made the fact that we should have probably taken the top, and I had been on the bottom all day, so I chose the bottom again," Dillon said. "I just didn't want to let these guys down (his crew). The Rheem car was so fast... "I thought about it, and I probably should have used the top, just because I would have had the run down the backstretch. It seems that, as the race goes on, that the outside can stop spinning the tires, and the rubber lays down... "Andy made the point, and it all worked out, but I'll definitely learn from that, for sure." Smith, Wallace, Suarez and Ty Dillon qualified for next week's XFINITY Dash 4 Cash competition at Dover as the top four finishers among series regulars. Those drivers will compete for $100,000 in next Saturday's race at Dover, with the top finisher among them claiming the prize. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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A stats-based preview for Sunday's race (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM) DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 26, 2015) -- Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware going into the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks on May 31 (1 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1). Greg Biffle (No. 16 Safety-Kleen Ford) · Two wins, six top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.7 · Average Running Position of 12.1, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 97.4, fifth-best · 435 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · 833 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 144.050 mph, fifth-fastest · 5,555 Laps in the Top 15 (69.4%), sixth-most · 517 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), fourth-most Clint Bowyer (No. AAA Insurance Toyota) · Two top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 11.9 · Average Running Position of 12.2, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 92.5, eighth-best · 203 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 762 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 143.979 mph, eighth-fastest · 5,335 Laps in the Top 15 (74.1%), seventh-most · 434 Quality Passes, seventh-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · One win, six top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 18.2 · Average Running Position of 13.4, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 91.0, 10th-best · 297 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 861 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 143.859 mph, 10th-fastest · 4,712 Laps in the Top 15 (58.9%), 10th-most · 437 Quality Passes, sixth-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 Skittles Toyota) · Two wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 14.2 · Average Running Position of 11.5, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 105.5, third-best · 424 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 144. 300 mph, third-fastest · 6,096 Laps in the Top 15 (76.2%), fourth-most · 507 Quality Passes, fifth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 Stanley Toyota) · One win, eight top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 10.2 · Average Running Position of 11.0, third-best · Driver Rating of 99.2, fourth-best · 499 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · 838 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 144.043 mph, sixth-fastest · 5,574 Laps in the Top 15 (69.6%), fifth-most · 552 Quality Passes, second-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 3M Chevrolet) · Five wins, 18 top fives, 25 top 10s; four poles · Average finish of 11.4 · Average Running Position of 11.6, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 96.5, sixth-best · 362 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · 818 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 144.169 mph, fourth-fastest · 6,214 Laps in the Top 15 (77.6%), third-most · Series-high 555 Quality Passes Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet) · Nine wins, 14 top fives, 19 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 8.2 · Series-best Average Running Position of 6.5 · Series-best Driver Rating of 122.3 · Series-high 1,106 Fastest Laps Run · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 144.673 mph · Series-high 7,061 Laps in the Top 15 (88.2%) · 420 Quality Passes, eighth-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Two wins, 15 top fives, 21 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.8 · Average Running Position of 8.7, second-best · Driver Rating of 108.3, second-best · 471 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 762 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 144.394 mph, second-fastest · 6,624 Laps in the Top 15 (82.8%), second-most · 541 Quality Passes, third-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · One win, four top fives, four top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.2 · Average Running Position of 12.6, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 92.1, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 143.870 mph, ninth-fastest Kyle Larson (No. 42 Target Chevrolet) · One top 10 · Average finish of 8.5 · Average Running Position of 11.3, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 93.0, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 144.030 mph, seventh-fastest Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) · Three wins, six top fives, 13 top 10s; four poles · Average finish of 13.4 · Average Running Position of 12.8, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 88.2, 12th-best · 770 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most · 5,202 Laps in the Top 15 (65.0%), eighth-most · 400 Quality Passes, 11th-most Martin Truex Jr . (No. 78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet) · One win, one top five, eight top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 15.8 · Average Running Position of 15.0, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 89.1, 11th-best · 252 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 143.752 mph, 11th-fastest · 4,388 Laps in the Top 15 (60.9%), 11th-most · 411 Quality Passes, 10th-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Dover International Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 28 1 0 3 12 1 15.2 86.5 2 Martin Truex Jr . 18 2 1 1 8 2 15.8 89.1 3 Joey Logano 12 0 0 3 8 1 13.8 82.6 4 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 30 1 1 6 11 1 16.2 81.9 5 Jimmie Johnson 26 3 9 14 19 2 8.2 122.3 6 Brad Keselowski 10 1 1 4 4 0 13.2 92.1 7 Matt Kenseth 32 1 2 15 21 5 12.8 108.3 8 Jamie McMurray 24 0 0 1 5 0 18.3 78.0 9 Jeff Gordon 44 4 5 18 25 5 11.4 96.5 10 Kasey Kahne 22 0 0 1 5 6 20.9 80.9 11 Ryan Newman 26 4 3 6 13 2 13.4 88.2 12 Aric Almirola 6 0 0 0 1 0 17.5 73.7 13 Paul Menard 15 0 0 0 2 0 19.1 67.0 14 Kurt Busch 29 0 1 6 8 6 18.2 91.0 15 Denny Hamlin 18 2 0 3 6 3 19.2 84.2 16 Carl Edwards 21 0 1 8 12 0 10.2 99.2 * – Based on last 20 races at Dover International Speedway . Dover International Speedway Data Season Race #: 13 of 36 (05-31-15) Track Size : 1-mile Banking/Turn 1 & 2 : 24 degrees Banking/Turn 3 & 4 : 24 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 9 degree Banking/Backstretch : 9 degree Frontstretch Length : 1,076 feet Backstretch Length : 1,076 feet Race Length : 400 laps / 400 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Dover Jimmie Johnson ........................ 122.3 Matt Kenseth ............................. 108.3 Kyle Busch ............................... 105.5 Carl Edwards .............................. 99.2 Greg Biffle . ................................. 97.4 Jeff Gordon ................................ 96.5 Kyle Larson ................................ 93.0 Clint Bowyer ............................... 92.5 Brad Keselowski ......................... 92.1 Kurt Busch . ................................. 91.0 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (20 total) among active drivers at Dover Motor Speedway. Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Brad Keselowski , Ford 164.444 mph, 21.892 secs. 05-30-14 2014 race winner : Jimmie Johnson , Chevrolet 117.724 mph, (03:23:52), 06-01-14 Track qualifying record: Brad Keselowski , Ford 164.444 mph, 21.892 secs. 05-30-14 Track race record: Mark Martin , Ford 132.719 mph, (03:00:50), 09-21-97 Dover International Speedway : History · The official opening of Dover International Speedway , then called Dover Downs International Speedway, was in 1969. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on July 6, 1969 – won by Richard Petty. · The first two races at Dover were 300 miles. The race length was changed to 500 miles in 1971. · The track surface was changed to concrete in 1995. · The race length was changed to 400 miles beginning with the second race in 1997. · The track name was changed to Dover International Speedway in 2002. Notebook · There have been 90 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Dover International Speedway , one race in 1969 and 1970, two races per year since 1971. · 381 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway ; 278 in more than one. · Ricky Rudd leads the series in starts at Dover with 56. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 44 starts; followed by Matt Kenseth with 32. · David Pearson won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Dover in 1969 with a speed of 130.430 mph. · 39 drivers have Coors Light poles at Dover, led by David Pearson with six. Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman lead all active drivers in poles with four each. · Nine drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Dover. David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Dover with three; from 1973 to the spring race of 1974. · Two active drivers have posted consecutive Coors Light poles at Dover: Ryan Newman (fall 2005 and spring 2006), and Denny Hamlin (fall 2012 and spring 2013). · Youngest Dover pole winner: Jeff Gordon (06/04/1995 – 23 years, 10 months, 0 days). · Oldest Dover pole winner: Mark Martin (06/01/2012 – 53 years, 4 months, 23 days). · 34 different drivers have won at Dover International Speedway , led by Jimmie Johnson with nine wins (2002 sweep, fall 2005, 2009 sweep, 2010 fall, spring 2012, fall 2013 and spring 2014). · 12 drivers have posted consecutive wins at Dover International Speedway , including three consecutive by David Pearson (fall 1972 and 1973 sweep), Rusty Wallace (fall 1993 and 1994 sweep) and Jeff Gordon (fall 1995 and 1996 sweep). · Youngest Dover winner: Kyle Busch (06/01/2008 – 23 years, 0 months, 30 days). · Oldest Dover winner: Harry Gant (05/31/1992 – 52 years, 4 months, 21 days). · Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Dover in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 17: Jimmie Johnson (nine), Jeff Gordon (five), Geoff Bodine (one), Ken Schrader (one) and Ricky Rudd (one). · Nine different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Dover; led by Chevrolet with 36 victories; followed by Ford with 25. · 13 of the 90 (14.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Dover have been won from the Coors Light pole; the two most recent were Jimmie Johnson in 2009 and 2010. · The second-place starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (15) than any other starting position at Dover International Speedway . · 28 of the 90 (31.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Dover have been won from the front row: 13 from the pole and 15 from second-place. · 71 of the 90 (78.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Dover have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Five of the 90 (5.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Dover have been won from a starting position outside the top 20 – most recently: Tony Stewart , spring 2013 (22nd-place starting position) · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Dover was 37th, by Kyle Petty in the spring of 1995. · Mark Martin leads the series in runner-up finishes at Dover with eight; followed by Dale Earnhardt with five. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with four. · Mark Martin leads the series in top-five finishes at Dover with 24; followed by Dale Earnhardt with 19. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 18. · Mark Martin leads the series in top-10 finishes at Dover with 33; followed by Richard Petty and Ricky Rudd with 26 each. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 25. · Ryan Newman leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Dover with a 9.654. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Dover with an 8.154. · 11 of the 12 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Dover International Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Jimmie Johnson won at Dover in his first two appearances. · Among the 12 active NSCS Dover winners Kurt Busch (22) and Matt Kenseth (14) made 10 or more attempts before their first win. · Kevin Harvick leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Dover without visiting Victory Lane at 28. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Dover International Speedway was the September 25, 2005 race won by Jimmie Johnson over Kyle Busch with a MOV of 0.08 second. · There has been one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Dover International Speedway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): fall of 2005 (400/404). · Not one of the 90 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Dover International Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions. · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Dover International Speedway five times: fall of 1984, spring of 2001, fall of 2003, spring of 2005 and spring of 2011. · Three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series active drivers have made their first career start at Dover International Speedway : Matt Kenseth (9/20/98), Kurt Busch (9/24/00) and David Ragan (9/24/06). · Two active drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Dover International Speedway : Matt Kenseth (06/02/02) and Michael Waltrip (06/03/1991). · One active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has posted his first career win at Dover International Speedway : Martin Truex Jr . (06/04/07). · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Dover with 2,976 laps led in 26 starts. · If Jimmie Johnson leads 24 laps or more this weekend he will surpass the 3,000 laps led mark at Dover International
Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender seeks $100,000 in opener RELATED: Enter Dash 4 Cash sweepstakes Last weekend didn't start off too well for Daniel Suarez . He qualified 19th for the Hisense 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , his lowest starting position since February when he began the Atlanta race 21st. It ended pretty well though. Suarez finished sixth, clinching a spot in the NASCAR XFINITY Series' Dash 4 Cash by placing in the top four among drivers registered for XFINITY Series points. As a Dash 4 Cash participant, Suarez can win an extra $100,000 in Saturday's Buckle Up 200 presented by Click It or Ticket at Dover International Speedway (2:30 p.m. on FOX). All he has to do is place ahead of the other three contestants: Ty Dillon , Regan Smith and Darrell Wallace Jr . "It's great, last year I did not get this opportunity," Suarez said after qualifying for Dash 4 Cash at Charlotte. "Thank you to everyone in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for putting this all together. I'm looking forward to next week." Suarez has only started at Dover twice, both times in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He placed sixth in 2013 and finished 22nd last year following a wreck with 17 laps left. This weekend, he will get seat time in Friday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 200 (5:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1), which will help him prepare for the XFINITY Series event. "I always feel a bit more confident in tracks where I've competed at before in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East," Suarez said about Dover. "I know it's a very fast track, interesting and a lot of fun. It will also be fun to run two races in the same weekend again. I love being behind the wheel, so anytime I can do more of that is great for me." Suarez has the opportunity to win $1 million through the Dash 4 Cash program. He can win $100,000 in each race at Dover, Indianapolis, Bristol and Darlington by being the highest finisher among Dash 4 Cash participants. If Suarez wins the first three Dash 4 Cash awards and then wins outright at Darlington, XFINITY will award him an additional $600,000 bonus, bringing the total payout to $1 million. "We had a good run at Charlotte and qualified for the 'Dash 4 Cash' program," Suarez said. "It's a fun incentive, but it won't change the way we prepare or approach the race this weekend." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
No. 1 team assessed P2 penalty; Nos. 48, 51 teams get P1s DAYTONA BEACH , Fla. (May 27, 2015) -- Three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams have been penalized following last week's event at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The No. 1 team has been penalized for an infraction occurring during pre-qualifying inspection May 21. The right rear quarter panel wheel opening was modified after qualifying inspection. The infraction is a P2 level penalty and violates the following Sections in the 2015 NASCAR rule book: 12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. 20.4.b: Body; All approved OEM-manufactured body components must be used as supplied except as required to stiffen, or to attach to other vehicle components. Tolerances from CAD surfaces and template tolerances are provided to allow for manufacturing, fabrication, and installation variability. Approved Parts : GM R: NSCS 0786. Part Name: Quarter Panel RS, Effective date Aug. 1, 2012. 20.4.2: Surface Conformance (a). Coordinate measuring machines, scanning equipment, and templates, among other tools, will be used to inspect body surfaces for conformance to the approved OEM and NASCAR CAD files. As a result of this violation, crew chief Matt McCall has been placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31. Additionally, two teams -- the No. 48 and No. 51 -- have been assessed P1 level penalties for receiving written warnings in two consecutive events, both at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The No. 48 team received a warning from the May 16 event and also received one from pre-qualifying inspection from last week’s event. In addition to receiving a warning from the May 16 event, the No. 51 team also received one from pre-race inspection from last week's event. Per Section 220.127.116.11 of the NASCAR rule book: Warnings and P1 penalty options : b. Multiple warnings issued to the same member or team will result in one or more P1 penalties; c. If the same team receives two warnings during the same event or two warnings during two consecutive events, whether the events are championship or non-championship, then this may result in one or more ... P1 penalties at NASCAR's discretion. As a result of these infractions the No. 48 and No. 51 teams will receive the last two choices in the pit selection process, respective to qualifying results, for this weekend's event at Dover International Speedway .
Would you rather watch under the sun or stars? RELATED: Junior prefers day races over night Last week while speaking at Charlotte Motor Speedway , it came out that Dale Earnhardt Jr . thinks the daytime is the right time for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing. Junior had his reasons, and you can read them at the link above, but it got us at NASCAR.com thinking about which type of races we prefer. Some tracks shine at night, such as Bristol Motor Speedway for the annual night race there in the late summer, and fans look forward to the event months in advance. Meanwhile, other venues sparkle during the daylight. Like, how could we beat the day at Talladega earlier this season? Bright skies and that big American flag in the background. What could be better? Kathy Sheldon and George Winkler have their preferences as to which time they like races and are ready to debate. Which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments section below. Winkler: Alright, Kathy. Boogity, boogity, boogity, let's go debating. I'll start off speaking from the heart. My first live sporting event with my dad was a day baseball game in San Francisco between the Giants and Cardinals. And as a kid I remember just how bright and green that field appeared the first time I laid eyes on it. Had it been a night game, it would have been past my bedtime. So I empathize with parents who are bringing their sons and daughters to their first race. I want them to have the same bright experience I had because that is what will set them on the path to becoming a true sports fan. Sheldon: George, we share an abiding love for baseball, as well as racing. I, too, was a wee lass when my family took me to my first game at Wrigley Field -- a day game. I would argue all day long for more day baseball, but racing is different for me. Baseball fans usually spend less than 3-1/2 hours total at the ballpark. That's including player introductions, the national anthem, and buying souvenirs before or after the game. Out of 12 races so far this season, NASCAR fans have seen five events go past the 3.5-hour mark. Just the racing. The Coca-Cola 600 was 4 hours and 3 minutes -- of baking in the sun. The deeper we go into summer, the hotter those afternoon races get. Plus, remember many NASCAR fans travel to see races. Saturday night races give them a chance to get some shut-eye then make their way home on Sunday and not miss any work vs. driving late into the night Sunday or taking a day off on Monday. Winkler: Kathy, you make a great point about the travel for the fans being more convenient on Sunday after a Saturday night race. Those of us who work in the business certainly appreciate those Sundays off, too. But stepping away from the fan experience for a bit, let's talk about the actual racing. Junior thinks there's better racing during the day because the surface is hotter, the track is slicker and the groove is wider. These are some of the reasons I love watching the race at Auto Club Speedway , for example. With a racing surface that's wide open during the day, it gives drivers the chance to try different grooves and can lead to exciting moments and different strategies. Plus, those California views! Or Phoenix or Las Vegas for that matter. Can't see those at night! Sheldon: Sticking with the fan experience for one more second, what you can see at night is the fireworks on the track. Did you not think it was the coolest thing ever the first time you saw the brake rotors glowing on 43 cars going 150-plus mph? Only at night can you see the sparks flying when the exhaust or suspension pieces hit the pavement during braking in the corners or when cars make contact. As for better racing, I like seeing the strategy of which team can beat the changing conditions. Going from early evening setting sun track temperatures to cooler night temperatures is just one more facet in the battle of man vs. machine. This spring’s Texas race didn't lack excitement, with 29 lead changes among nine drivers. Winkler: OK, you're a tough cookie to crack, Kathy. So I'm pulling out the cranky old man material. I get up early in the morning and need to get on with my day. I don't have time to sit around in a parking lot waiting for these night races. I've got places to go, people to see, yards to mow, important stuff like that. These crazy kids these days getting extra time to get all "juiced up" for these races. I like to hit the ground running in the morning and I'm ready for a good, old-fashioned 1 p.m. ET start. Get 'er done, as they say! Sheldon: George, I'll hand it to you on being a family man. I've worked nights too many years. So I would still rather be hanging out in the parking lot after a race having a sandwich and one last beer (if I'm not driving) while waiting for traffic to thin out at midnight rather than getting up with the sun. Or better yet, camping! I'd say we agree you can't really go wrong when it comes to spending time at the track as a fan, but sign me up for those warm summer nights. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Sherry Pollex's cancer fight adds perspective, purpose behind charity RELATED: Catwalk for a Cause raises money for cancer research Martin Truex Jr . rolls into his "home track" Dover International Speedway this week the most dominant driver without a win this season. For the last two points races, the New Jersey native's No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy has led the most laps. He and reigning Sprint Cup Series champ Kevin Harvick have earned the most top-10 finishes (11) of any driver in the series. And, Truex sports a whopping 25-point lead on the next closest points position to qualify for the 16-driver Chase for theCup. Truex' 2014 struggles on track -- consistent bad luck and frequent car problems in his first year with the Furniture Row team -- now seem firmly in the rear-view mirror. And away from the track, Truex's girlfriend Sherry Pollex is responding well in treatment for ovarian cancer -- diagnosed last summer. By all reasonable standards, Truex is already a winner this year. He just hasn't hoisted a trophy. Yet. Perspective has come from facing great hardship and it has been evident even in disappointment for Truex. After leading a race-best 131 laps in Sunday night's grueling Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , he was interviewed on pit road and initially grimaced at yet another near-miss -- a fifth place finish. But before the camera pulled away, Truex had summoned a smile and offered perspective. MORE: #TBT: Truex earns first career Cup win After all that he and Pollex have endured in the past year, good days behind the wheel are a bonus. And Truex is collecting lots of bonus right now. "Toward the end of last year things were looking bad and the car wasn't running well and I was in front-line treatment (for cancer),'' Pollex said. "Now his team is on fire and they have the car to beat every weekend. I'm still in my maintenance chemo, but I live a normal life with it. "Even if Martin wasn't doing well on track, we're kinda winning at life. There are so many things we are thankful for." And as they have for years, Truex and Pollex have generously given back on their blessings through the Martin Truex Jr . Foundation. The foundation's marquee event, Catwalk for a Cause -- a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research and treatment at the Charlotte-based Levine Children’s Hospital -- was held May 13 and raised nearly $ 300 ,000. The awareness generated and hearts warmed were priceless. A couple dozen of the sport's biggest names showed up to bid on silent auction items and cheer the participants on as they walked the runway wearing fashions from local boutiques and Belk's. The Mooresville, N.C., facility's décor was created by former NASCAR driver Shawna Robinson, who recently completed treatment for breast cancer herself. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kasey Kahne , Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick were among those who walked the runway with young cancer patients. "Sherry (Pollex) does so much and these kids have such great spirit and they don't know any different,'' said Danica Patrick , who dazzled on stage alongside fellow NASCAR driver and boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and 6-year old, Mya, who is undergoing chemotherapy for a form of leukemia. "It shows how you can be in those situations if you don't think too far forward, and live in the moment." It's a lesson Pollex has had reinforced. Her commitment to the spring event never wavered even in the immediate days after being diagnosed with cancer herself. "God works in mysterious ways,'' Truex said. "When Sherry first got diagnosed she thought about all the kids she had in the Catwalk before and the kids to come and said, 'If they can do this, I can do this.' ' "That was honestly the first thing she thought, 'I'm going to show them I can do it, then they will do it.' And it's a constant snowball effect." Pollex is philosophical about the irony of the situation. For years she has dedicated herself to helping this cause through the foundation's resources. "I remember not long after I was diagnosed, telling my mom that God must have had a plan for me because I've spent half my life teaching kids how to beat this disease then I ended up with it,'' Pollex said. "I definitely think it's ironic. Maybe God knew I would have to teach them how to fight and then one day I'd know what they went through. I can't imagine there being any other plan for me. "If you try to just look at the positive side of it, it's an opportunity to know what they've been through and what the treatments are like. "Nobody really knows what cancer is like unless you have it. You have an empathy that no one can explain unless you're a survivor. It gives me an opportunity to teach them to beat the disease." Because it is considered a "rare" form of cancer, pediatric cancer receives only a small fraction of the funding for research and new treatment that adult forms of cancer receive, according to Dr. Javier Oesterheld, interim director of Levine's Pediatric Hematology and Oncology unit. The money raised by Truex and Pollex is extremely important. "I will tell you, NASCAR as a whole is incredible about this,'' Oesterheld said. "This event is so amazing, how much it raises and just the awareness it puts out there. "All we need (for our cause) is our one person to really push it forward. People like Martin and Jeff Gordon . They've really made a huge difference for us." Beyond the practical side of raising money, the Catwalk has a special and undeniable tangible effect. The very people benefitting get to be a part of the process. And by the end of the evening, it was genuinely hard to see who was helping whom. The kids were grinning and laughing and hamming it up despite their tough circumstances. And the adults were smiling back at them, inspired by their strength and spirit, awed by the lesson of living in the moment. It's impossible not to leave Catwalk without being moved. "Imagine the feeling these kids get when they're up here helping their peers,'' Truex said. "They have friends back in the hospital that were too sick to come here tonight. Imagine what they feel in their heart when they're up here and everyone's cheering for them and they say, 'This is for our friends back in the hospital and for kids that haven't been diagnosed yet.' "These kids raise the money. We don't. "At the end of the day, we're both blessed to be healthy enough to do it, especially Sherry with what she's been through. This year was extra special to her for that reason." Pollex agreed. "We were so humbled all those people were there, and I feel like this year was different because of my diagnosis,'' she said. "We've always wanted to help people. And now that we can't have kids of our own it takes on a new importance in our lives. Those kids become our kids. " With the way Truex has been contending, it won't be long until the couple gets to celebrate their perseverance and resolve in Victory Lane. He's a legitimate favorite this weekend. Truex scored his career first Cup win at Dover's Monster Mile in 2007 and has an impressive two pole positions and eight top-10s in 18 starts at the notoriously tough concrete oval. "I would never want our lives necessarily to turn out this way, but Martin is a completely different person (since I was diagnosed with cancer) and looks at everything differently, not just racing,'' Pollex said. "I don't know how anyone could be the same person after going through this. "I look at it like we got an opportunity to show God what we're made of." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See how the rookie meeting has evolved over the years RELATED: Labonte's crash still impacts rookies " Youngest, oldest rookie winners One by one, before the first engine has fired and the first car has hit the track, they gather in the NASCAR hauler parked inside the garage. It's a scene repeated every weekend when NASCAR rolls into town. Their levels of experience often differ quite a bit. There are champions and those with numerous starts in lower series seated alongside those with limited experience and much less success. Yet here everyone is treated the same. And everyone carries the same label -- rookie. • • • "A lot of stuff happens fast here," Richard Buck, NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series managing director, tells the group that's gathered on a cool, damp Friday morning at Martinsville Speedway . Each driver has been given several sheets of paper showing diagrams that include the placement of timing and commitment lines, pit entrance and exit and the proper route to enter and exit pit road from the garage area. It's information that is track-specific. While the basic processes that take place during any given race weekend are relatively the same, there are certain details at each venue that those with limited experience need to know. Proper procedures are explained and advice is doled out. "Use your hand signals so you don't start to slow down and get all jammed up and have somebody's radiator in your backseat," Buck tells the drivers. Each week, a veteran driver will also attend the meetings to offer pointers and answer any questions a rookie driver might have. At Martinsville, 2004 premier series champion Kurt Busch was on hand. "Those of you that have made laps around here before, you know how quick it is," Busch said of the series' shortest venue. "It's an awkward track. There's no other place that really compares to this. So the thing you have to do is to get comfortable with the surroundings." Busch said he would often walk around tracks "even if I've been here before" to reinforce the information given during the meeting. "Have your spotters communicate to you where the holes are when you pull out ... your tires will be ice cold here ... they won't help you do much turning when you get into (Turns) 3 and 4 ... but if you're consciously making an effort to warm up your tires, somebody's going to be right on your bumper and it's going to be chaos," he said. Busch also urged them to take note of the commitment and blend lines at Martinsville. "It's the same Turn 2 line that's painted at Bristol," he said later. "But at Bristol, you have two pit roads (one on the frontstretch and one on the backstretch). It's the same line in the same place and it means two different things." Drivers' left-side tires must touch the blend line near Turn 2 at Martinsville before pulling up onto the track. A similar line at Bristol signifies the pit entrance on the backstretch -- touching any portion of it without proceeding onto pit road will result in a commitment line violation. "Now they'll go to Bristol (in two weeks)," Busch said, "and they need to remember." • • • So what constitutes a rookie in the eyes of NASCAR? In most cases, it's up to the discretion of the series director and is based on the individual's prior experience. Matt DiBenedetto , 23, made his first Sprint Cup Series start this year after running the bulk of the races (29 of 33) in the XFINITY Series last season. Brett Moffitt , 22, made seven Sprint Cup Series starts in 2014. Between 2009 and 2013 he made just one XFINITY Series start and two in the Camping World Truck Series. Both are among those competing for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in Sprint Cup , along with Jeb Burton , Tanner Berryhill and Alex Kennedy . To be eligible for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, a driver must attempt to qualify in at least eight of the first 20 points races. A 10-1 point system, separate from the NASCAR championship driver points format, is used for scoring rookies in each race. The highest finishing rookie receives 10 points, second highest receives nine, etc. Only the top 17 finishes by each driver count toward his or her points total at the end of the year. Bonus points are also awarded for attempts, finishing inside the top 10 and upon the completion of the final race of the season. A panel then grades each rookie on conduct with officials, conduct and awareness on the track, personal appearance and relationship with the media. Points awarded by the panel are then averaged and added to each driver's total, and the driver with the most points is the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award recipient. Jeb Burton is one of five rookies this year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. • • • Of course, it wasn't always that way. In 1959, Darlington Raceway , in conjunction with sponsor Pure Oil (later to become Union 76), debuted the Darlington Record Club. Members were those that had qualified highest for each auto manufacturer during time trials for the annual Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway . Special recognition went to those that established track records there as well. While NASCAR had been selecting a rookie of the year for nearly a decade -- Rocky Mount, North Carolina's Blackie Pitt was the first recipient in 1954 –- the Union 76/Darlington Record Club was eventually tasked with monitoring the progress of rookie drivers on the uniquely shaped, treacherous 1.366-mile track. What began as an effort between driver Glenn "Fireball" Roberts and NASCAR official John Bruner Sr., to observe new drivers eventually evolved into a panel of Record Club members whose job was to either pass or fail those drivers attempt to make their Southern 500 debuts. (It's worth noting that the club also played a crucial role in requiring all drivers to complete a physical examination before being allowed to compete at Darlington. Today, a physical examination is mandatory for all three national series prior to the start of each season.) Before the Record Club came into existence, "you just went down there and run," said NASCAR Hall of Fame member Richard Petty, a seven-time NASCAR premier series champion and winner of the 1967 Southern 500. "(The Record Club) was good public relations. It gave those (rookies) something they had to do. Indianapolis (home of the Indianapolis 500) always had a rookie test you had to pass before you could go out and run. Well, we said if they can do it, we can do it, too. "Back then, (Darlington) was a one-groove track through (Turns) 3 and 4, which is now 1-2. We'd explain what you had to do to pass people or let people pass you. Then you just said, 'OK, now go out and run.' " To pass the test, drivers new to the series were required to run within a percentage of a pre-determined speed. "If we were running 130 mph," Petty said, "they would have to run 125 or something like that. Then they'd go out and run six or eight laps on the track by themselves." "It was a little easier to show up at Daytona with a car even though you may not have that much experience and get in the race," three-time series champion and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Darrell Waltrip said. "But they really observed you. If you were somebody new that they didn't know and you showed up at the track, they'd have some drivers that would kind of see how you did, see if you could handle the track and the speed and all that. There was always somebody watching you, but Darlington was the only official test we took." The panel would make its recommendations to NASCAR, but it was up to Bruner, a former flagman who eventually became Chief Steward for the sanctioning body, to make the final call. Richard Petty, who won the Southern 500 in 1967, used to show rookies the ropes at the iconic track. • • • In 1976, the Record Club's competition panel began overseeing the rookie program. Nearly a decade later, one of racing's greatest figures found himself labeled a rookie, and was required to go through the orientation process. Far from being a rookie, Anthony Joseph Foyt, better known simply as A.J., already had seven NASCAR premier series wins to his credit including a victory in the 1972 Daytona 500 . But Foyt, a four-time winner of the Indy 500 as well, had never raced at Darlington. "I am going to Darlington as a bonafide rookie. I don't want anything waived," Foyt told the press prior to his debut. "Why should I be different than anybody else? I know a lot of guys would have too much pride and ego to take the rookie test, but I'm not that type of person." NASCAR driver Ricky Rudd was the president of the Record Club at that time. Among the members of the competition panel were fellow drivers Waltrip and Buddy Baker. "Buddy and I and I forget who else, we observed A.J. Foyt and we flunked him his first day," Waltrip said. "Well, we told him we flunked him. "I told Buddy, I said 'Go down there and tell A.J. that we're going to have to have a meeting about his test because I'm not sure he passed.' Buddy looked at me and said 'Do you think I'm crazy? You go down there and tell him.' " Foyt passed the test, eventually finishing 25th in his only Southern 500 start. • • • Ken Schrader , a four-time race winner in NASCAR's premier series, was in that same rookie class with Foyt in 1985. Schrader posted three top-10 finishes that year en route to winning the Rookie of the Year title, beating out Eddie Bierschwale and Don Hume. Twice he served as president of the Record Club. "Yeah, I got elected president one time, then got elected president another time because at the banquet in Darlington I sat in the back and drank with the wrong group," the fun-loving Schrader said. "I was sitting with, I think, Phil Holmer and T. Wayne (Robertson) and some Unocal folks." Holmer was a Goodyear representative while Robertson headed up series sponsor R.J. Reynolds sports marketing arm. "They threw my ass right in," Schrader said of his election. "My acceptance speed, I stood up and said 'This is (expletive)!' "But the rookie meetings were neat. We'd just go in there, talk about the do's and don'ts for the tracks. Some of it was repetitious obviously but then there was so much about each individual track and it was the first time that some of those guys went to those tracks. Because back then not everybody then came through the Truck or ( XFINITY ) Series. "Now, hell, you're a rookie at a race, you've been to how many places (already)? You've probably raced there in some other series. "So it's a little different now." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule