The top-five finishers and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. comment on a challenging race at Kentucky.
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated series standings ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- All the positives -- the determined late-race comeback, leading the most laps, moving up a rung in the standings -- meant little to Chase Elliott in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's matinee at Road America . His own harshest critic, Elliott didn't hold back in giving his performance a scathing review. "Absolutely terrible job on my part," Elliott said after a fourth-place finish in the Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville. "That was the worst race, just beyond way too many mistakes. Just absolutely screwed that up, so terrible day for me. I hate it for my guys. I had such a good car and I let 'em down." The clouds that hung over the 4.048-mile road course were missing the silver linings, according to the defending NASCAR XFINITY Series champion, who guided the JR Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet from 11th place over the final four-lap stretch to the checkered flag in the 45-lap event. That span was part of an even bigger rally, from 23rd place after his final pit stop on Lap 30, just two laps after an off-course excursion at Turn 11 that cost him plenty of momentum. Both comebacks left him with little consolation. "Top five's not a win," Elliott said. "Have to be honest with yourself. I screwed it up." The negative side of Elliott's day didn't resonate as strongly with crew chief Ernie Cope, who discussed the race at length with the 19-year-old driver in the XFINITY garage. "He is hard on himself. He expects to win and he doesn't want to let us down, which he didn't," Cope said. "He came back in three laps and went from (11th) to fourth, so I look at that. I mean, we were pinned back there and then passing about seven cars in three laps. I mean, you're going to have altercations during it." The ending was a sharp contrast to how Elliott's day started. The youngster started on the front row after Coors Light Pole Qualifying was scratched by rain, then jumped out to lead the opening 12 laps. After briefly giving up the top spot on an early exchange of pit stops for fuel strategy, Elliott reassumed the lead, stretching it to more than 12 seconds during the dominant first half. "It was as good as it looked and by far I feel like the best road race car I've ever had," said Elliott, who led 23 of the 45 laps. "I was beyond pleased with the race car. It wasn't the race car's fault, I can tell you that." Elliott pitted after putting all four tires into the grass off the 14-turn circuit's kink, apologizing to his JRM crew over the radio after leaving pit road back in the pack. From there, though, his comeback trail began, only to be stemmed by a six-lap caution period -- a seeming eternity on the lengthy course -- after multiple breakages and fluid leaks in the pack delayed the final restart. "They're going caution after caution after caution, but I still feel like we would've had time to get back up there and have a shot at winning as good as the car was," Cope said. "You just don't know how they're going to fall. It was just a bad storm." Once the clouds lifted, Cope took solace in the big-picture plusses. With 10 races left in the season, Elliott now sits in second place in the standings, supplanting Ty Dillon , who took 10th Saturday. Elliott's top-five result, combined with series leader Chris Buescher 's ninth-place run, chopped his deficit to just 16 points heading to next weekend's event at Darlington Raceway . "Looking at the positives, we gained seven, but it was a day we could've gotten 15," Cope said of the points tally. "But it's all good. We're right where we need to be. That puts us back (to) second, we're only 16 out of it and we're going to go stomp their asses at Darlington."
See who is on the Nationwide Series entry list for Atlanta
In the painful initial minutes after hearing Monday night's news that his good friend and former teammate Justin Wilson had died of injuries suffered in an IndyCar Series racing accident, NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger shared his raw and emotional reaction on social media . "Life isn't fair. We lost one of the great ones today.'' Allmendinger said on Twitter. He accompanied his tribute with a wonderfully telling old photo of himself -- at 5-feet, 6-inches -- standing on a racing tire alongside a smiling 6-foot-4 Wilson. It was so appropriate because Wilson, 37, was a person that Allmendinger -- and so many others -- looked up to figuratively, literally, on-track and off. "Justin was such a quiet guy, and the general public probably doesn't know much about him, so I want to let them know he was such an amazing person,'' Allmendinger said. "I want people to know he was a badass race car driver that, I felt, never got the credit he deserved. But the most important thing is as good as he was on the race track, he was so much better off it." "I truly looked up to him,'' Allmendinger added, acknowledging the pun. While the quiet Brit may not be a super familiar personality to many NASCAR fans, there are plenty of stock car connections to Wilson. Sprint Cup drivers Danica Patrick and Allmendinger competed alongside Wilson in Champ Car and later the IndyCar Series, where Wilson was a seven-time winner. RELATED: Drivers mourn the loss of Justin Wilson Cup driver Michael McDowell and former Cup racer Marcos Ambrose teamed with Wilson in Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car races as did former Camping World Truck Series competitor Max Papis , who also raced against Wilson in the open-wheel ranks. Allmendinger shared a seat with Wilson in five Rolex 24 races, and they were teammates as the long-shot small team Michael Shank Racing won the 50th anniversary edition of the Rolex 24. Wilson finished runner-up in Daytona's 24-hour race in 2010 driving for Cup owner Chip Ganassi. Of course, you didn't have to have know Wilson to appreciate the kind of racer and the kind of person he was. That's evident in the racing community with all the supportive social media tributes and well wishes sent by NASCAR drivers past and present many who never even met Wilson. In the hours immediately after Sunday's accident, three-time Cup champ Tony Stewart sent his plane to transport Wilson's younger brother Stefan to be at his brother's side in the hospital. RELATED: Stewart lends support to Wilson's family In many ways, Wilson's racing career -- and the way he went about it -- spoke much more loudly than the reserved Wilson ever needed to. Allmendinger recalls that he and Wilson were rookies together in Champ Car, except that Wilson was four years older than the young Californian at the time and fresh off a season in Formula One. "I was intimidated by him,'' Allmendinger said. "This guy was badass. It messed me up because I was so intimidated by it that all I wanted to do was beat him, because I knew if I beat him I was doing something pretty special." And Allmendinger considers his first major race win (2006 at Portland, Ore.) all the more special because it came after an intense duel with Wilson. "Here he had just finished second place and yet he was the first to come into Victory Lane and hug me,'' Allmendinger said. "It happened to come down to me and him battling for the win. I had just beat him and as I'm getting out of the car, he runs up and hugs me. That's the type of guy he was.'' It's a recurring theme when people speak of Wilson. He was one of those rare and exceptional individuals whom you never heard a harsh word spoken about. He was well respected as a person and a competitor, the latter sometimes under-appreciated. Despite the impressive resume Wilson brought to America, he mostly drove for underfunded, smaller teams. But he succeeded against the odds and always provided the underdog a legitimate shot. His win in 2012 at Texas Motor Speedway came for the small Dale Coyne Racing team. And just a few weeks ago -- in the midst of a part-time ride with Andretti Autosport with little to no testing in the cars -- he finished runner-up to Graham Rahal at Mid-Ohio. It was vintage Wilson. "He was a guy that never got a great opportunity especially late in his career, I always hoped Penske or Ganassi would pick him up,'' Allmendinger reflected Tuesday. "He was one of the best out there. But you know what, he always made the most out of it and never complained about it." I was always struck by what a strong family man he was -- a doting husband, devoted dad to his two girls and a proud big brother to Stefan, a promising young racer in his own right. "Justin was so good and always made me want to be at my best because I respect him so much,'' Allmendinger said. "He always made sure you were happy, you were OK. Always pumped me up. It drove me to be the best I could." And now Allmendinger and so many others in the racing community will honor their friend by doing the same for Wilson's family.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series will head to Road America while the Camping World Truck Series will be racing at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park this week. The Sprint Cup Series is off for the week. RACES XFINITY Series: Road America 180 Fired by Johnsonville (Saturday Aug. 29, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra, MRN Radio, SiriusXM) Camping World Truck Series: Chevrolet Silverado 250 (Sunday Aug. 30, 1:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN Radio, SiriusXM) WEEKEND SCHEDULE Click here for on-track times and leaderboards. RACE DAY • NXS leaderboard • NCWTS leaderboard • NXS Lap-by-Lap • NCWTS Lap-by-Lap PRODUCTS • Scanner: In-car audio only. • Mobile Apps: Follow the leaderboards live from your device. NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA Web stream: NBC Sports Live Extra Mobile app: iOS/Android NBC Sports Live Extra will stream NASCAR coverage on NBC and NBCSN via "TV Everywhere", giving consumers additional value to for their subscription service, and making high quality content available to MVPD customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms. The NBC Sports Live Extra app is available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store and Apple TV. For desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at NBCSports.com/liveextra . FOX SPORTS GO The Camping World Truck Series race will also be available through FOX Sports GO; which is an online and mobile streaming product that allows subscribers of participating TV providers to watch live sports and shows from FOX, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2 and FOX Deportes. FOX Sports GO is currently available for download on iTunes for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices or can be accessed online at FOXSportsGO.com . The app is also available via Google Play, Kindle Fire and from the Windows Store. Access to programming in FOX Sports GO requires a pay TV subscription of FOX Sports 1 with a participating TV provider. Login credentials are the same username and password used to access online accounts with your TV provider. FANTASY • NASCAR Fantasy Live: Catch up on how you have fared this season, check your progress • Streak to the Finish: Play in all the national series that are in action this week Stay tuned to NASCAR.com throughout the weekend for the latest news.
Check out the best in-car audio from the IRWIN Tools Night Race as Joey Logano holds off Kevin Harvick to grab the checkers for the third time in the 2015 season at Bristol Motor Speedway.
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Chris Buescher ’s Roush Fenway Racing team gambled twice during Friday night’s Food City 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Staying out under caution put the series points leader in front of the field, where he stayed for 106 laps around the high-banked, 0.533-mile track. But the decision to remain on the track also meant Buescher would need to manage his fuel mileage. And when the caution flag appeared for the eighth time, sending the race two laps beyond its scheduled distance, Buescher’s good fortune ended. On a race-ending green, white, checkered restart, Buescher’s No. 60 Ford sputtered on the backstretch shortly after the green flag appeared, handing the lead and the victory to Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch while leaving Buescher with an 11th-place result. “Honestly, we were really good on fuel mileage,” Buescher said afterward. “We felt like we were good to the end, especially if that caution didn’t come out. (It’s) just a matter of getting fuel into the pickup. Once I shook it around enough we got fuel back in it and ran to the end, but as much banking as we have here at Bristol it’s hard to keep fuel in the pickup. “It’s my fault. I needed to do better.” Ty Dillon ’s fourth-place finish, combined with Buescher’s 11th place ending, allowed Dillon to close to within 19 points in the battle for the series championship. Defending series champion Chase Elliott (seventh) is third, 23 points behind the points leader. While disappointed, Buescher said he would make the same decision under similar circumstances if the opportunity presented itself. “I wouldn’t change the call if we could do it all over again,” he said. “I’m all for taking chances and winning these races. If it would have worked out, we’d have won this thing and we’d be talking about how good of a call it was for our points situation.” Buescher was able to pull away from the field on three of the four restarts that took place after his move to the front. And he appeared on his way to doing so a fourth time before his car began to slow. “We were faster than a lot of guys we were racing around all day and once we got track position we showed we could run away from these guys,” he said. “We had the speed, but it wasn’t meant to be. “I’m glad we took the chance. I wouldn’t change it if we could do it over again, but unfortunately it knocked us right out of a top-10 and out of a win.” Buescher is a two-time winner this season, with victories at Iowa Speedway and Dover International Raceway.
RELATED: Updated standings Chris Buescher gambled at Bristol and almost came up big. The key word in the previous sentence: 'Almost.' The 22-year-old Roush Fenway Racing driver took the lead at the .533-mile track after electing not to pit on Lap 192 of 300 . Buescher paced the field for the next 106 laps, but a fuel pick-up issue on the penultimate go-around of the race ended any hopes of triumph. Buescher was relegated to 11th, while Ty Dillon finished third, cutting Buescher's NASCAR XFINITY Series points lead to 19. If Buescher didn't go for the win, he wouldn't have lost as many points to Dillon. "We had the speed, but it wasn't meant to be," Buescher said. "I'm glad we took the chance. I wouldn't change it if we could do it over again, but unfortunately it knocked us right out of a top-10 and out of a win." RELATED: Buescher: 'I'm glad we took the chance' Buescher and Dillon will continue to battle for the points lead in Saturday's Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin (3 p.m. on NBCSN) -- the third and final XFINITY Series road course race of the season. The two drivers are the only competitors who finished in the top five of the previous two road course races. A natural on road courses, Buescher won at Mid-Ohio last year in addition to his two top fives while turning left and right this year. He placed 18th in his lone start at Road America last season. " Road America is a very difficult and unique road course," Buescher said. "I love road racing and look forward to the challenge." Dillon finished 19th in his first-ever series start at Road America last year. He enters Saturday's race riding a streak of four top-five finishes. "Our team is looking at the big picture and sometimes we have to take a step back and realize that this is a long season; to take it little by little," Dillon said. "This past weekend in Bristol was a perfect example -- we struggled the first part of practice but (Crew Chief) Nick (Harrison), (Race Engineer) Danny (Efland) and the team just took a step back and reevaluated. We have a championship to win here and it won't be easy. "We have 11 races to go and we're not going to let up."
RELATED: Full series standings " Chase Grid BRISTOL, Tenn. -- In postseason terms, Aric Almirola is still an outsider, but not by much -- just 23 points behind Clint Bowyer , the final driver on the provisional Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff grid. It would be easy, if not exactly sporting, for Almirola to rejoice about Bowyer's short-term woes -- a 41st-place finish last week at Michigan -- and wider-scope issues -- the impending breakup of Bowyer's Michael Waltrip Racing team at season's end. While opportunities exist for Almirola to capitalize, he's not expecting his would-be Chase rivals to merely play out the string. "There are two ways to look at it," Almirola said after Friday's final Sprint Cup practice at Bristol Motor Speedway. "One is, yeah, they may be vulnerable and guys are kind of distracted and they're scrambling looking for jobs, but the other way to look at that is they don't have anything to lose, so they can push all the gray areas as hard as they can and be really aggressive and what's the worst that's going to happen? They're not going to lose their jobs because they're already looking for work. "There are a couple different ways to look at that and I think as hardcore racers as all those guys that he has on his team are, they're not gonna lay down; they're not gonna give up; they're gonna fight hard; they're gonna try and make the Chase. It's about pride. Everybody in this garage area has egos and we all want to beat our competitors and I doubt any of those guys, Clint included, are going to lay down." Almirola aims to gain more Chase ground, starting with Saturday night's Irwin Tools Night Race (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM), the third-to-last race of the Sprint Cup regular season. Besides Bowyer in front of him, he also has Kasey Kahne just three points off his heels with three unpredictable races -- Bristol, Darlington, Richmond -- looming on the schedule. The fickle nature of all three tracks presents the opportunity for wild points swings, but Almirola would prefer to get to the Chase on the merits of performance. Richard Petty Motorsports ' season-long search for speed in Almirola's No. 43 and teammate Sam Hornish Jr .'s No. 9 has made that a more difficult prospect. "We've had a few setbacks that were costly to us, but all in all we've had 15th-place cars and we've been running top-15 with them," Almirola said. "That's really all we can do. The guys back at the shop are working extremely hard and so is everybody else in the garage area to bring better cars to the race track every weekend. We've just been playing catch-up all year long. I'm really proud of everybody at RPM, but the moral of the story is we just need more speed in our cars and as we work harder and harder and continue to get more speed in our cars, our results will reflect that." One factor that has made matters trickier -- opening-day pitfalls in back-to-back race weekends. This Friday, Almirola made contact with the outside retaining wall in opening practice, forcing his RPM crew into repair mode to keep his primary car intact. But it hardly compares with last weekend's adversity, which left him ailing and infirm in Michigan's infield care center. After missing portions of practice last weekend, Almirola rallied for a 14th-place finish in the Pure Michigan 400 . This weekend, he's happy to leave his ailment several states away. "I'm back to 100 percent but my goodness was that rough," Almirola said. "I never felt so bad in a long time. I had some sort of 24-hour stomach virus and it was maybe a little longer than 24 hours, maybe 36 hours, and I was down for the count. I was laying in the infield care center on Thursday night from 11 to maybe 2:30 in the morning getting IVs and went back to the bus and got a little bit of sleep, but woke up every half-hour with throwing up or whatever and you know what the other is, so it was a long night. "I got back up the next morning and went back to get some more IVs and I watched the first hour of practice laying on my couch in my motorhome and it was all I could do to gather myself up and get over to the garage and make a couple laps at practice."
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The SWM-NEMCO Motorsports crew checked out the light damage on the corners of its No. 8 truck, finding nothing more than cosmetic scrapes in the aftermath at Bristol Motor Speedway, a track known for chewing up fenders and young drivers alike. "That'll buff out" seemed to be the happy consensus. Few were happier about that development Wednesday night than all-smiles John Hunter Nemechek , who turned his second Bristol start into his career-best finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. His third-place result was just behind race winner Ryan Blaney and runner-up Kyle Busch , two drivers with the benefit of far fresher tires down the stretch in the UNOH 200 . "It was one of those deals … don't do anything stupid. Just, you had to let them go," Nemechek said of ceding late-race positions to the front two. "You couldn't race them hard just because of tires. One way or another, he's going to get around you, if he has to move you, dump you, whatever. Decided to play it smart and we know what we need for next time." Nemechek had more to withstand in the late going after the fifth and final caution flag with five laps left extended the race distance by an extra two laps. Though the green-white-checkered attempt was completed on the first try, the frantic competition among the front-runners made Nemechek's feat of finishing where he restarted no easy task. "I spun the tires there on that last restart and I was kind of beating myself up about it going into Turn 1," Nemechek said, "and then they all stacked up and I had a chance to get underneath of them so I took it. We got under them and made the pass." Nemechek's growth as a driver -- three top-10s in just eight starts this year -- has been measured in progress that goes well beyond his 18 years of age. The veteran poise doesn't fall far from the family tree, owing at least a nod to his father, Joe Nemechek . "He's had a good teacher, his dad," said Gere Kennon, crew chief of the SWM-NEMCO No. 8. "… I'm proud to help him because I've raced just like Joe -- his whole life, my whole life. He listens. He's doing good and he's adapted to this very, very well. We help on the Late Model car, too, and he's consistent there. Haven't seen that in a long time. He's the real deal, I think." The younger Nemechek, who took over full-time driving duties for the team after his 18th birthday in June, has nine races ahead of him to close out the 2015 season. He's improved upon his career-best with each of his top-five finishes thus far, but said more improvement in the results column -- or even the win column -- is a reachable goal. "I hope we can have a couple more top-fives, but hopefully we can get a win under our belt," Nemechek said. "I feel like we have the potential to do so. We've just got to have Lady Luck on our side."