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Moffitt hopes third-place run opens more doors
RELATED: Full race results LONG POND, Pa. -- Brett Moffitt finished the 2015 season as the Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year. He started the 2016 season without a ride -- in any national series. After completing his rookie campaign behind the wheel of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports ride currently inhabited by reigning XFINITY Series champion Chris Buescher, Moffitt found himself seatless heading into this season with more questions than answers regarding his career trajectory. Fill-in duty came calling earlier this month as Red Horse Racing needed a driver for its No. 11 Toyota at Kentucky, with Matt Tifft sidelined following surgery to remove a low-grade brain tumor. After starting second, an engine failure while running in the top five relegated Moffitt to a 31st-place finish. RELATED: Tifft tweets upbeat video post-surgery The 23-year-old was again behind the wheel at Pocono Raceway for Saturday's Pocono Mountains 150, carving his way through the field -- and a wreck-heavy, race-record nine cautions -- to finish third after starting 15th. Despite the lack of seat time this season, it appears Moffitt hasn't forgotten what to do when his team gives him a machine capable of competing. "We didn't make a single adjustment on it during the race; we really had a good truck. (Crew chief) Scott (Zipadelli) called a great race; great strategy. Got us up front when it mattered," Moffitt said. " … We were actually really lucky (to stay out of the wrecks). It seemed like when it happened, it would happen right in front of us, so we were able to duck to the bottom and avoid before cars get stacked up three and four-wide trying to avoid it and you get forced into a lane. "It worked out alright for us, we just saw a lot of attrition right in front of us. Part of qualifying getting rained out was that we started mid-pack and we had to do what the leaders didn't. So that's why we went with that strategy and it ended up working out, but it was a little bit nerve-wracking through the middle section of the race there." With the finish -- his best across all NASCAR national series in 43 starts -- Moffitt is hoping it results in keeping his name fresh in people's minds, as he has no other opportunities lined up at the current moment. Regardless, he'll be ready at the drop of a hat should any team, Red Horse Racing included, call him up for a spot start or more. "(Red Horse) like to keep it last minute, so I found out about a week ago Friday," he said. "It's a little stressful during that week to get everything ready and it's hard on the guys at the shop, but they do a great job adjusting to multiple drivers this year and they continue to prove that. "I don't think I've had a clear path my whole career. I've kind of been riding each opportunity I get, you know? Last year it was in the 55 car when Brian (Vickers) was out and this year it's in the 11 truck with Matt Tifft being out. Not the way I want to get opportunities, by someone else's hard fortune, but it's good to make the most of them. "Hopefully this opens the door for some more races."
Front Row Motorsports
The full history of Front Row Motorsports plus full driver and crew member rosters
Cassill joins Front Row Motorsports for 2016
RELATED: See the big moves for 2016 " Driver lineup for all teams STATESVILLE, N.C. (Jan. 20, 2016) -- Six-year NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran Landon Cassill will join the Front Row Motorsports line-up to drive the No. 38 Ford for the 2016 season. The 26-year-old Cassill has 187 Sprint Cup starts under his belt, most recently competing for Hillman Racing in 2015. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native has raced in all three of NASCAR’s national series, earning XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year honors in 2008. Cassill will join rookie teammate Chris Buescher at Front Row Motorsports , which will field two full-time Sprint Cup entries in 2016. "I feel like Front Row Motorsports is a great fit for me," Cassill said. "I've got several years of experience in the series now, and being a part of this team will help me take the next step in my career. I'm grateful to Bob Jenkins and Ford Motor Company for the opportunity and can’t wait to get in the car." Cassill's Sprint Cup career-best finish is a fourth-place run at Talladega Superspeedway (2014), a track where Front Row Motorsports has also excelled. "We've always been impressed with Landon and what he can do behind the wheel," said team owner Bob Jenkins. "He's got a lot of natural talent. You could see that at every level of racing he’s competed in throughout his career. We’re happy to have that talent in one of our race cars this year." Sponsorship programs for the No. 38 team will be announced soon. Get more information about Front Row Motorsports and follow updates about the team at teamfrm.com, on Twitter at @Team_FRM and on Facebook at facebook.com/FrontRowMotorsports .
Donnie Wingo moves to Front Row Motorsports
Veteran pit boss to serve as crew chief for David Gilliland and the No. 38 team MORE: Find out who else is on the move in 2015 Donnie Wingo has joined Front Row Motorsports for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season as crew chief for the No. 38 Ford and driver David Gilliland . Several news organizations reported the news Monday afternoon, and a spokesperson for the Statesville, North Carolina-based team confirmed the reports independently to NASCAR.com. Wingo, 54, has worked with the venerable Wood Brothers Racing team for the past four seasons, a span that produced his biggest win -- the 2011 Daytona 500 with Trevor Bayne at the wheel. Wingo has seven victories during his 25-year tenure as a crew chief in NASCAR's premier series. Gilliland tweeted his excitement over the news on Monday afternoon. Super excited to have @donniewingo for my crew chief. Going to be a great addition to @FrontRowNASCAR #cantwait — David Gilliland (@DavidGilliland) January 5, 2015 Gilliland, 38, worked with crew chief Frank Kerr for the first 30 races last year, then closed out 2014 with Jay Guy atop the pit box. Gilliland, a teammate to David Ragan on the Bob Jenkins-owned Front Row team, wound up 30th in the final Sprint Cup standings with a best finish of 17th place at Pocono Raceway in August. Gilliland, who joined the Sprint Cup circuit in 2006, spent the holidays driving cross-country to his home state of California. On social media, he has documented visits to at least 20 Love's Travel Stops -- one of his primary sponsors -- along the way. As previously announced, Wingo will be replaced by Jeremy Bullins as crew chief for the Wood Brothers' famed No. 21 Ford and the team's new driver, Ryan Blaney . Last season, Bullins helped guide the Team Penske No. 22 to six victories and the team owner championship in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, now the XFINITY Series.
Hard tires, reworked curbing present challenges at repaved Watkins Glen
RELATED: Before and after: Watkins Glen repave WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams wrapped up a two-day organizational test Wednesday at newly repaved Watkins Glen International, emerging with better ideas of the challenges they'll face when the series returns for the Aug. 4-7 race weekend. Among those challenges: reworked curbing, a fast circuit and a harder-compound tire that has made grip elusive. A total of 16 Sprint Cup teams -- one permitted from each organization -- tried to unlock the novelty of the $12 million resurfacing project, using a Goodyear tire that emphasizes durability at the expense of traction and wear. The rubber compound chosen is similar to that used July 9 at Kentucky Speedway, site of the Sprint Cup Series' most recent race on a repaved track. At Kentucky, the tire selection made for treacherous conditions in certain spots and made passing a delicate process. Though road courses don't lend themselves to the multi-groove racing seen at several well-aged oval tracks, Watkins Glen might still be a tricky place to maneuver when the series reconvenes for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen. "The main thing we've learned so far is how hard the tire is," said Jamie McMurray, driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet. "It just seems to be no wear at all or lap time fall-off right now. This place didn't ever wear tires like Sonoma, but it seems like the tire is pretty hard." Sonoma, the other road course where the Sprint Cup Series races, is a much more intricate circuit with qualifying speeds roughly 30 mph slower than at Watkins Glen's open, free-wheeling layout. The Goodyear tire compound designated for both the Watkins Glen test and the race weekend is the same used for right-side tires in XFINITY Series competition at Iowa Speedway. Those Iowa right-sides will be used at all four corners for the Sprint Cup event at the 2.45-mile road course. Racing with a softer tire with more adhesion would potentially introduce the threat of excessive wear or blistering. It's a trade-off that Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Chase Elliott says he's willing to accept. "I think a lot of it is just having a fresh surface like this, you've got to have a tire that's pretty hard," said Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports' driver representative for the two-day test. "It's fast, and to ask a tire to hold up, you've got to bring something that's durable. It puts Goodyear in a tough spot, but I think they do a good job of trying to make the most of tough situations. There's been a lot of repaves here lately and I know they're working hard." David Groseclose, NASCAR's lead tire engineer, said Wednesday that the benefits of competing with a more rigid rubber compound outweighed the potential drawbacks. "As with all repaves -- same thing as Kentucky -- if you don't have a hard tire, you're going to blister them up," Groseclose said. "The way that works is if you've got a soft compound and you use it, the soft compounds tend to retain heat. It's just the nature of a soft compound. But on a repave, it's not going to wear so that heat's not going to be dissipated out of the tire. It has nowhere to go, so it stays in the tire, so that's why it blisters up. That's what we saw at Kentucky with the XFINITY and Truck Series." In addition to the surface itself, the track features new concrete for the rumble strips that border the circuit's turns and run-off areas. Some drivers found the differences barely noticeable, but Kurt Busch discovered a distinction the hard way with an early Tuesday spin as he bounded over the apex points in the backstretch chicane on one of his initial laps. "It's a lot different," said Tony Gibson, Busch's crew chief on the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet. "Kurt's like, 'I've got to learn all the curbs again.' The curbs over in the bus stop (chicane) are probably the biggest change. They're way more aggressive, and they've tightened up, so it's a lot tighter lane through there." Said Elliott, who will race here in Sprint Cup for the first time next weekend: "Some of the curbs may be a little different here or there, some a little rougher, a little smoother just depending on how they laid the asphalt in or however it worked. It's as close as you could make a track from an old surface to a repave, for sure." Five Sprint Cup teams participated in a Goodyear tire test May 10-11, and another 16 were present for this week's organizational test. For the remaining half of the field, the work toward finding the proper handle begins with opening practice on Friday, Aug. 5. "If you get your balance right, it'll be a no-drama," Gibson said. "Man, I told Kurt earlier, 'I'd hate to know I had to come here next Friday and hit the track for the first time and try to figure out these curbs and how much the race track has changed.' It'll be a handful in the short amount of time we get to practice. "It'll be interesting to see when we come back who has issues and who doesn't. But it's definitely going to be a plus to come and learn the race track, even if your car is not right or whatever, just getting here and getting behind the wheel and getting time on the race track is going to mean more." Pit notes: -- The full roster (in alphabetical order) of drivers and teams participating in the test: AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing), Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing), Clint Bowyer (HScott Motorsports ), Chris Buescher ( Front Row Motorsports ), Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing), Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing), Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing), Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports ), Brad Keselowski (Team Penske), Michael McDowell (Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing), Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing), Casey Mears (Germain Racing), Brian Scott (Richard Petty Motorsports ), Regan Smith (Tommy Baldwin Racing), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing), Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing). -- Casey Mears turned the fastest lap in the two-day test, which was divided into four sessions of four hours apiece. Mears pushed the Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet in the closing session to a best lap of 126.7 mph, a good bit slower than the track qualifying record of 129.491 mph set by Marcos Ambrose in August 2014. -- Brad Keselowski returned to the track Wednesday, one day after his severe, nearly head-on crash in Turn 1. He turned 74 laps over both sessions in a reserve Team Penske No. 2 Ford. -- Two teams -- Furniture Row Racing (driver Martin Truex Jr.) and Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing (driver Michael McDowell) -- were absent from testing's opening day, arriving in the Watkins Glen garage Wednesday in time for the two closing sessions. -- Wednesday's final session was extended 30 minutes to a 5:30 p.m. ET close because of a nearly hour-long clean-up for fluid on the track. After Chase Elliott's No. 24 Chevrolet suffered a broken axle, Clint Bowyer's No. 15 Chevy ran over the part, damaging the car's transmission. -- NASCAR XFINITY Series teams are scheduled to turn their first laps on the new Watkins Glen surface next Thursday. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will stage a support race the following day on the 2.45-mile course.
Josh Wise leaving Front Row Motorsports
Wise had spent two seasons at Front Row Motorsports
Josh Wise parts ways with Premium Motorsports
Driver takes to Twitter to announce news of his departure from No. 98 team Josh Wise will no longer be driving the No. 98 car for Premium Motorsports in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, he announced on Twitter Monday morning. I have parted ways with Premium Motorsports . The team and I did not share the same goals moving forward. — Josh Wise (@Josh_Wise) July 13, 2015 I wish them the best and look forward to what the future holds. — Josh Wise (@Josh_Wise) July 13, 2015 Wise has 121 starts in the Sprint Cup Series and he scored his first career top 10 this season at Talladega Superspeedway in May. Currently 36th in the point standings, Wise has run every Cup race this except for the season-opening Daytona 500 . Wise made his way into the 2014 Sprint All-Star Race via the Sprint Fan Vote thanks in large part to the Reddit.com community backing him. The 32-year-old California native spent 2012 and 2013 driving for Front Row Motorsports before moving over to Phil Parsons Racing for the 2014 season. He remained with the team as the No. 98 car was sold to Premium Motorsports during the 2015 season. There was no immediate word on Wise's future plans. Timmy Hill will drive the No. 98 Ford this weekend at New Hampshire in the 5-hour ENERGY 301 (Sunday, 1:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, PRN, SiriusXM). Looking forward to piloting the #98 for @PremiumMSNASCAR ! Glad to be back behind the wheel of a Sprint Cup car! — Timmy Hill (@TimmyHillRacer) July 14, 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender and driver of the No. 26 BK Racing Toyota, Jeb Burton , took to Twitter to offer his support for Wise. @Josh_Wise Your a good driver you will find something bro. — Jeb Burton (@JebBurtonRacing) July 13, 2015 FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Love's extends sponsorship with Front Row
Front Row Motorsports announced Wednesday that Love's Travel Stops has renewed its sponsorship, joining the No. 34 Ford team with Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Chris Buescher . Love's, an Oklahoma City-based travel plaza company, will be the primary sponsor for 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, including the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 21 and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 20. Love's joined the Bob Jenkins-owned organization in 2013 with the No. 38 Ford driven by David Gilliland . The company has expanded its sponsorship in previous years, jumping from two Sprint Cup races in 2013, 15 events in 2014 and last year's 18-race deal. Buescher, 23, enters his first full Sprint Cup season after claiming the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship with Roush Fenway Racing last year. Buescher competed in six premier series races last year for Front Row , which has entered into a technical alliance with the Roush Fenway team this season. RELATED: Five young drivers to watch in 2016 Dave Frankenfield, Love's director of marketing, indicated in a release provided by Front Row that the company was "jazzed" about the alliance and the sponsorship renewal. Buescher echoed those sentiments. "I can't wait to work with Love's," Buescher said in the team's release. "They've been a great partner with Front Row Motorsports over the years and have really embraced the sport." Here's a look at his paint scheme for 2016. Love’s extends @Team_FRM partnership, introduces @Chris_Buescher in the No. 34 Ford Fusion. https://t.co/qdpOT6FEC6 pic.twitter.com/dw3eLvGvTa — Love's Travel Stops (@LovesTravelStop) January 13, 2016
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Owner Standings
After Race 20 of the 2016 season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Pos Owner Car # Points Ldr Nxt PPos G/L Attempts 1 Stewart-Haas Racing 4 671 0 -- 1 0 20 2 Team Penske 2 647 -24 -24 2 0 20 3 Stewart-Haas Racing 41 627 -44 -20 3 0 20 4 Team Penske 22 606 -65 -21 5 1 20 5 Joe Gibbs Racing 18 601 -70 -5 6 1 20 6 Joe Gibbs Racing 19 593 -78 -8 4 -2 20 7 Furniture Row Racing 78 573 -98 -20 7 0 20 8 Hendrick Motorsports 48 552 -119 -21 8 0 20 9 Joe Gibbs Racing 20 545 -126 -7 9 0 20 10 Joe Gibbs Racing 11 542 -129 -3 10 0 20 11 Hendrick Motorsports 24 525 -146 -17 11 0 20 12 Richard Childress Racing 3 520 -151 -5 13 1 20 13 Richard Childress Racing 31 507 -164 -13 12 -1 20 14 Hendrick Motorsports 88 504 -167 -3 14 0 20 15 Chip Ganassi Racing 1 496 -175 -8 15 0 20 16 Chip Ganassi Racing 42 472 -199 -24 20 4 20 17 Stewart-Haas Racing 14 469 -202 -3 18 1 20 18 Hendrick Motorsports 5 462 -209 -7 19 1 20 19 Roush Fenway Racing 6 458 -213 -4 16 -3 20 20 Wood Brothers Racing 21 450 -221 -8 17 -3 20 21 Roush Fenway Racing 17 449 -222 -1 21 0 20 22 JTG Daugherty Racing 47 421 -250 -28 22 0 20 23 Roush Fenway Racing 16 397 -274 -24 23 0 20 24 Richard Childress Racing 27 397 -274 0 24 0 20 25 Stewart-Haas Racing 10 373 -298 -24 25 0 20 26 Richard Petty Motorsports 43 363 -308 -10 26 0 20 27 HScott Motorsports 15 359 -312 -4 27 0 20 28 Germain Racing 13 310 -361 -49 28 0 20 29 Front Row Motorsports 38 305 -366 -5 29 0 20 30 Circle Sport-Leavine Family 95 280 -391 -25 31 1 20 31 BK Racing 23 278 -393 -2 30 -1 20 32 Front Row Motorsports 34 237 -434 -41 34 2 20 33 Tommy Baldwin Racing 7 234 -437 -3 33 0 20 34 Richard Petty Motorsports 44 234 -437 0 32 -2 20 35 Premium Motorsports 98 204 -467 -30 36 1 20 36 BK Racing 83 201 -470 -3 35 -1 20 37 HScott Motorsports 46 186 -485 -15 37 0 20 38 GO FAS Racing 32 161 -510 -25 38 0 20 39 Premium Motorsports 55 125 -546 -36 39 0 15 40 The Motorsports Group 30 93 -578 -32 40 0 20 41 Front Row Motorsports 35 46 -625 -47 41 0 3 42 Circle Sport - Leavine Family 59 26 -645 -20 42 0 1 43 BK Racing 93 11 -660 -15 43 0 4 44 BK Racing 26 3 -668 -8 44 0 1 45 Hillman Racing 40 0 -671 -3 45 0 1
The Rundown: Indianapolis driver grades
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Crown Royal Presents The Combat Wounded Coalition 400 At The Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway: 1. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Total domination. Busch won Saturday's and Sunday's races from the pole and led a record 149 laps Sunday. His average running position Sunday was 1.2, and his lowest position was third. Seriously? Busch's hammerlock on the field was on par with what Martin Truex Jr. did in the Coca-Cola 600 . Thus the same mark. Grade: AAA+ 2. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth is still winless at the Brickyard but has now finished second three times. More numbers: In Kenseth's first four starts at Indianapolis for JGR, his finishes are 5th, 4th, 7th and 2nd. Grade: A 3. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson had to do a pass-through on Lap 86 for a pit-road speeding penalty, dropping him to 23rd. Attrition and persistence led to Johnson's first top 10 since he finished third at Charlotte two months ago. Nice finish, but this team still needs to clean up its mistakes. Grade: A- 4. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Ditto the No. 11 team. Hamlin was assessed his seventh pit-road speeding penalty of the season one lap after Jimmie Johnson (same round of green-flag stops). Hamlin was running third at the time and fell back to 18th. Nice recovery, but … Grade: A- 5. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. Larson was the second-biggest winner of the afternoon, moving up four spots in the standings to 15th. Grade: A 6. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick upped his points lead to 24. Two races ago it was down to four. If you don't think that's important, remember this: If qualifying is rained out, the field is set by the standings -- as is the order of selecting a pit stall. So, yes, the standings still matter. Grade: A 7. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. Logano restarted second on the final restart but couldn't hold the position or make a run at Kyle Busch. Logano, by the way, finished second to Busch in last year's Brickyard. Grade: A 8. Martin Truex Jr. , No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing. Truex was strong all afternoon – his 5.6 average running position was second to Kyle Busch's – but he was no match for the winner. Grade: A 9. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Sunday's top 10 was Dillon's ninth of the season (20 starts), equaling his total for the first 85 starts of his Sprint Cup career. Grade: A 10. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Menard benefited from accidents in front of him that he was able to avoid to score his second top 10 of the season. Grade: A- 11. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart started third and was running with the leaders when he was caught speeding on pit road just before the third caution and had to restart at the tail end of the field, one lap down. He was still back in the pack (20th) with 25 laps to go in regulation. But then came all the cautions. "Smoke" finally got his lap back with a free pass on the fifth caution, survived contact with Jamie McMurray on Lap 166 and salvaged a decent finish on his last go-round at Indy. Grade: B 12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse survived the big Carl Edwards - Ryan Newman wreck that brought out the red flag to get a finish that belied his day. He turned 14 laps in the top 15 and had an average running positon of 20.1. Grade: B- 13. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Despite problems with restarts, Gordon was able to post his best finish of the season and overcome the incredible pressure of replacing Alex Bowman in the No. 88. ... Yes, I'm kidding. Except for the restarts part. Vive Monsieur Gordon! Grade: A 14. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Buescher recorded the best finish of his Sprint Cup career on a day in which he turned all of two laps in the top 15 and had a 23.7 average running position. Grade: B 15. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott registered his best finish since a second-place finish at Michigan more than a month ago. Grade: B 16. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. For only the second time this season, Busch failed to finish in the top 10 in back-to-back races. Grade: B- 17. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. Keselowski was the rage early on with his team's bold pit strategy, but the second half of the race bore zero resemblance to the first half. Getting caught up in the Carl Edwards - Ryan Newman wreck didn't help, either. Grade: B 18. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Despite a fourth-straight finish outside the top 10, Kahne moved up two spots in the standings to 16th, 10 points behind Kyle Larson . He jumped one driver who missed the race ( Dale Earnhardt Jr. ) and one who didn't use the best judgment and crashed with 10 laps to go ( Trevor Bayne ). Grade: C 19. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. McMurray's nice run came to a screeching halt on the restart on Lap 165 when he moved down in front of Tony Stewart but hadn't cleared the No. 14. Stewart wasn't about to lift, and the No. 1 went for a slide onto the access road before returning to the track and smacking Ryan Newman . Worse, the caution gave the free pass to Chase-cutoff competitor Kasey Kahne . Grade: B- 20. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Cassill avoided calamity to get his fourth-best finish of the season. Grade: B 21. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer contributed to the caution-fest at the end of the race when he got into the back of Trevor Bayne , who inexplicably went for the block with so much on the line (Chase standings) and running so far back in the field. Grade: C 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Wrong place, wrong time. Again. Patrick had nothing to do with the Carl Edwards - Ryan Newman wreck but still ended up a part of it. On the other hand, she finished right where she spent most of the race. Grade: C 23. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport-Leavine Family. McDowell posted his best finish at the Brickyard in seven starts. Grade: B- 24. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Mears finished in the top 25 for the 10th time this season. Grade: C 25. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola, who is still looking for his first top 10 of the year, is on pace to have his worst season with RPM, for which he has been driving full time since 2010. Grade: C 26. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Smith posted his best finish since a 22nd at Pocono in early June. Grade: C 27. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Despite being collected in the last wreck of the day, Scott picked up his best finish in his past eight starts. Grade: C 28. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . After posting four top-30 finishes in his first 14 starts, Annett has four in his past six. Grade: C 29. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports . Since a 37.3 average finish in his first three starts of the season, Whitt has an average finish of 27.5 over his next 14 races. Grade: C 30. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Bayne's move to block Clint Bowyer on the backstretch on Lap 158 was as costly as it was ill-advised. Bayne spun all the way to his worst finish of the season and to 18th in the standings, 14 points behind 15th-place Kyle Larson . Grade: D 31. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman's day began to unravel on the restart on Lap 154. He restarted sixth, outside of Carl Edwards . On the first turn, Edwards drifted up into Newman and the No. 31 suffered major damage. With Newman sitting near the Chase cut-off line, it was important for him to coax the car home. He returned to the track but couldn't make it to the finish when Jamie McMurray ran up the track into him on the Lap 165 restart after contact with Tony Stewart . Bottom line: Valiant effort but a DNF and 10-point day. Grade: C 32. Ryan Ellis , No. 93 Toyota, BK Racing. Ellis picked up a career-best finish in his fourth Sprint Cup Series start. Grade: C 33. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports . Sorenson ran to form, and his 33.8 average finish is third-worst in the Sprint Cup Series among drivers with at least 10 starts. Grade: D 34. Patrick Carpentier, No. 32 Ford, GO FAS Racing . After not starting a Sprint Cup Series race since 2011, Carpentier made his second start of 2016. He finished 37th last month at Sonoma. Grade: D 35. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards was part of the strong JGR contingent all afternoon – 6.6 averaging running position – until his mishap on Lap 154. Whether it was a tight car or dirty tires, the outcome was costly as he dropped two spots in the standings. Grade: F 36. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney was collected and knocked out of the race in the Carl Edwards -initiated wreckage that resulted in a red flag. Blaney dropped two spots in the standings to 19th, and is now 22 points behind 15th-place Kyle Larson . Blaney began the day nine points ahead of Larson. Grade: C 37. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Ragan brought out the third caution on Lap 120 when his left-rear tire went down and he slammed the wall. It was his third DNF and second-worst finish of the season. Grade: F 38. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger was running 11th when his car lost water pressure. Moments later it overheated with less than 100 laps to go. It was Allmendinger's second DNF in the past three races. Grade: F 39. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Biffle's day ended after 53 laps when his right- front tire went down and he slammed into the outside wall. His streak of top 10s – three – ended as well. Grade: F 40. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. His engine didn't even make through five laps, leaving DiBenedetto with his seventh DNF of the season. "How is that even possible?" DiBenedetto tweeted. "Who has the voodoo doll of me that severely dislikes me?" Grade: F