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Chase Bubble Watch: Analyzing the playoff picture ahead of Dover
RELATED: Full race results " Updated Chase Grid SHOP: Chase gear Two races into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and several drivers are in jeopardy of not advancing past the Round of 16, which ends next Sunday at Dover International Speedway (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Let's find out which drivers are resting comfortably following Sunday's Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Who's hot: Kevin Harvick . Harvick came into Loudon one point shy of advancement after a dismal showing (20th) in the Chase opener in Chicago. The 2014 champion and the man nicknamed " The Closer" came on strong on the final restart to take the lead on Lap 295 and nab a win and a locked-in spot in the Round of 12. The victory, in which he only led eight laps, has to erase a little bit of the bitter taste from last fall's race at New Hampshire, where Harvick led 216 laps but ran out of fuel with two to go. Matt Kenseth . Kenseth came into this race with two straight wins at the "Magic Mile" and looked to be closing in on his third-straight win before Harvick surged on a late restart. The 2003 champion led 105 laps en route to a runner-up finish and moved up to fourth in the standings, 25 points to the good of transferring into the next round. Kyle Larson . A top-10 finish at Loudon moved Larson from 15th in the standings (two points back of the last transfer spot) to 12th and five points to the good. It was an up-and-down weekend for the third-year driver, who didn't show the same speed in the race he had shown in practice. Still, he is on the right side of the bubble heading to Dover, where the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver has an average finish of 6.2 and led 85 laps in the spring en route to a runner-up finish. Who's not: Tony Stewart : The three-time champion was stuck a lap down for much of the second half of the race and finished 23rd, the second-lowest finish among the Chase field. The result had to be disappointing for "Smoke" after a runner-up showing at New Hampshire in July. Following a summer surge thanks to his Sonoma win, Stewart has not notched a top-10 finish in six races and is on the wrong side of the Chase cut line heading to Dover. Austin Dillon . The weekend started rough when a wreck in the latter stages of the opening practice forced the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 team to pull out a backup car. Dillon's 16th-place finish was aided by a few late cautions to get him back on the lead lap, but he is still five points behind the cutoff line. On top of that, his overall numbers at Dover (see below) have the Chase rookie in a very tough spot to advance. Four in, four out: Here's a look at the Chase bubble, with four drivers being eliminated after the third race of this round, at Dover International Speedway .
Post-Race Reactions: Feed the Children 300
The top-five finishers and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. comment on a challenging race at Kentucky.
How the 'tire war' was won -- at North Wilkesboro
RELATED: North Wilkesboro, 20 years later MORE: Classic Dale Jr. story: Angry dad, purple gas jug In the late 1980s, NASCAR's twofold quest for speed and success took a sharp turn as tire supplier Goodyear introduced the radial tire to the sanctioning body's premier series. Bias-ply tires had been the standard for stock car competition from the very beginning. But radial tire technology had vastly improved, and major open-wheel series had already made the swap to radials. Off the track, radials had also begun replacing bias-ply as the tires of choice for passenger vehicles. But the bias-ply tires still used in NASCAR provided teams with another tool in the toolbox, a way to "tune" the car's setup through the use of air pressures and tire stagger ( the variation in the circumference of the car's tires), something radial tire technology couldn't duplicate at the time. Goodyear officials were working toward implementing radials in NASCAR when the company got an unexpected push from Hoosier Tire Company in 1988. The competition between the two was fierce, and not without consequences. "Softer" tires produced by both brands generated higher speeds, but durability faltered. The "fall-off" in the product led to numerous tire failures and hard crashes. The following year, Goodyear officials rolled out radial race tires in an effort to provide both speed and durability. It was an ongoing project -- problems before the season-opening Daytona 500 forced the company to withdraw its product for that event. It wasn't until the spring race of 1989 at North Wilkesboro that Goodyear debuted the radial tire that officials felt was far more durable and could provide the necessary consistency and speed. "We were going to step through it," said Greg Stucker, head of race tire sales for Goodyear. "We were going to introduce them at the short tracks and then slowly step into the other race tracks." Rusty Wallace, driving for team owner Raymond Beadle, won the pole after the Blue Max team made the switch to Hoosiers. "We knew the Hoosiers were quick," Stucker said. "We also knew that the radials were extremely good over the long run. We went the first 100-some odd laps under green, which you don't do at North Wilkesboro very often. And Rusty got lapped, I think, about Lap 70." Dale Earnhardt won the race, thanks in part to the Richard Childress team's use of the Goodyear radials. "I still have that car," Childress said. "That's one of my favorite cars I have on display because I didn't re-do the body on it. I made the rest of them look real nice, but that car is still beat up; it has the Dale Earnhardt look still left on it. All the fenders beat in, the sides, and a set of the very first radial tires. "That's why we kept that one. It was the first win anybody had on radial tires. And everybody said 'That's going to be the end of Dale Earnhardt; he won't be able to run on them radial tires.' Well, we went out there and won the first race on them." The tire war eventually ended – Hoosier pulled out of the sport in mid-1989, returned for the ’94 season with its own radial tire, but departed at year's end due to a lack of sales. "It couldn't have worked out better for us to demonstrate how strong and how consistent the radial was," Stucker said. " The race really played into our hands pretty well. I think it was a good demonstration to everybody that this was a good package. "You know they say you have good days and bad days in racing? That was definitely one of the best days I've had at the race track. It was a good one." &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Thunder in the hills: North Wilkesboro, 20 years later
NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. -- Paint peels and memories fade but the echoes of the past still ring off the hillsides here. Twenty years ago today, the checkered flag fell on the final NASCAR premier series race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Bob Flock won the first race, in 1949 and on dirt. Jeff Gordon won the last, in 1996 and on asphalt. The two races serve as bookends for a track that even after 20 years of silence serves as a reminder of the sport's colorful past. For 48 years and 93 races, NASCAR teams made the trek to the secluded .625-mile track in the Brushy Mountains of northwestern North Carolina. "It's one of the sport's most historic tracks, one that really helped put NASCAR on the map," car owner Richard Childress said. "A lot of people overlook that. But a lot of great things happened there. (Former series sponsor) R.J. Reynolds really supported it; Holly Farms back in the day … all those things were important to building our sport to what it is today." Built by Wilkes County resident Enoch Staley and partners Lawson Curry and Jack and Charlie Combs, North Wilkesboro Speedway was a venue unlike any other -- in part because the front straightaway ran slightly downhill and the backstretch uphill. It opened in 1947, two years before the debut of NASCAR's Strictly Stock Series, and hosted its first NASCAR premier series event in October of '49. The Wilkes 200 featured a 22-car field and was the final race of the inaugural season for NASCAR's new featured series. Flock won the race but it was Red Byron, finishing 16th, who captured the series' first championship. RELATED: Veterans share fond memories of track
Relive the last NSCS race at the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway
Take a look back as Jeff Gordon wins the last race at North Wilkesboro Speedway in the Sprint Cup Series on September 29th, 1996.
Busch family, No. 18 team visit the White House
As part of his Sprint Cup championship duties, Kyle Busch had one more thing left on his to-do list: visit the White House. So that's exactly what he did on Wednesday with the entire No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team and wife, Samantha. And no, Brexton wasn't in attendance, but President Obama gave him a nice, little shout-out. Follow along on the crew's trip to Washington, D.C. Thank you @POTUS for having the @mmschocolate team visit the @WhiteHouse today. pic.twitter.com/2Np9tGTSF1 — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) September 28, 2016 Snapchatting my way thru the White House if u wanna follow along! Samantha.Busch — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) September 28, 2016 The No.18 crew is on the ground in DC! Next stop: The @WhiteHouse . #NASCAR #CHAMP18NS pic.twitter.com/32HzSof8ob — Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) September 28, 2016 We're at the @WhiteHouse with @KyleBusch @samanthabusch and the No.18 team! #NASCAR #CHAMP18N pic.twitter.com/k6zaRI6GWL — Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) September 28, 2016 Tune in at 11am ET as @POTUS honors @NASCAR champion @KyleBusch : https://t.co/rOls3Sio1L — The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 28, 2016 . RT @SaraBarnes8 : @SamanthaBusch what does one wear to the White House? pic.twitter.com/Y2JHJGMIaP — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) September 28, 2016 . @POTUS welcomes @KyleBusch , @SamanthaBusch and the @JoeGibbsRacing family to the @WhiteHouse ! pic.twitter.com/O0kqbP848C — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 28, 2016 "Tell Brexton I said hello." - @POTUS https://t.co/ptDTddyaES — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 28, 2016 Crispy lid! @KyleBusch gives @POTUS one of his helmets as a gift at today's visit to the @WhiteHouse . pic.twitter.com/NnUu6nEQyV — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 28, 2016 . @POTUS honors @NASCAR champion @KyleBusch and the whole Number 18 team: https://t.co/MRvt4wLGCe — The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 28, 2016
Streak to the Finish picks for the Monster Mile
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman and analyst Chris Rice give you the best Streak to the Finish picks heading into the NASCAR triple header weekend at Dover International Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Chase by the Numbers: Dover
Here's all the info you need to know for the first cutoff race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, including some surprising statistics for two of the first-time Chase competitors.
From the Vault: Stewart conquers the Monster Mile
Relive Tony Stewart's amazing win at Dover International Speedway back in 2000 as he conquers the Monster Mile.
Matt Kenseth: 'The last restart is my fault'
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Chase gear Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth put the blame squarely on his own shoulders after his second-place finish Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Kenseth -- who led 105 of 300 laps, including from Laps 243-294 -- ceded the lead on the final restart to eventual race winner Kevin Harvick . Kenseth held on for second place, .442 seconds behind at the checkered flag, but expressed regret as he emerged from his No. 20 Toyota post-race. " The last restart was my fault," said Kenseth, who had his modest win streak at the 1.058-mile track snapped at two. " The one before that I thought I did right and we heard from the (race control) tower down that they thought I slowed up before I restarted or something. So the last one I let Kevin lay back on me, which we're supposed to be side-by-side. "I should have known better. I should have just went really late in the (restart) zone and waited until he had to get up to my nose because he anticipated it just right and laid back. Plus, I spun the tires and I got beat through (Turns) 1 and 2 and then it was over." The late-race slip-up paralleled a restart miscue by Martin Truex Jr ., last week's winner and the driver of the JGR-affiliated Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota. Truex lost ground with a sluggish jump on the next-to-last restart after leading a race-high 141 laps. He wound up seventh. Kenseth sits fourth in the 16-driver Chase standings with one race remaining until the Round of 12 is set. A New Hampshire win would have removed any guesswork for the 44-year-old driver ahead of next Sunday's Citizen Soldier 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Dover International Speedway . "You always want to win," Kenseth said. "I thought we had a top-two or -three car today, but we didn't win. They put me in position to do that and I let them down there so I feel bad about that. We ran good last week and we ran decent today, too, so we'll just go to Dover and try to race them there."