Get the history of Germain Racing and full crew of Casey Mears
Casey Mears inks extension with Germain Racing
Driver will return to the No. 13 Chevrolet in 2016 Casey Mears has signed a contract extension to keep him with Germain Racing for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Mears, 37, has been with Germain Racing since late in the 2010 season. During that time, he has one top-five finish and five top-10 finishes, all of which have come at restrictor-plate tracks. "I'm really happy to announce that Casey Mears is back in the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS next year," team owner Bob Germain Jr. said in a release provided by the team. "He's been an integral part of the team's growth and success over the past 5 years and I am confident he can continue to help us move forward and reach our goals. We've come a long way as a team, and assembled a group of extremely talented people who enjoy working together. As the team owner, that's really the thing I'm most proud of. And, of course, the long term support of GEICO has given us the stability we needed to make it all happen." In his fifth full-time season with Germain , Mears is currently 20th in the Sprint Cup Series point standings. "It's really exciting to drive the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS again in 2016," Mears said in a team release. "I think that it's been a long time in the making here at Germain Racing , being competitive at the Cup level. It's been a long process to get the GEICO program to where we are now. We are finally starting to see some of the benefits from all the hard work from the last four or five years. I'm very excited to carry on the GEICO relationship and to be a part of Germain Racing 's continued growth." In his 13 seasons in the sport's top series, Mears has one win, which came in 2007 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600 with Hendrick Motorsports . FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Germain Racing extends deals with Mears, GEICO
Casey Mears and Germain Racing have agreed to a three-year contract extension that will keep Mears in the No. 13 Chevrolet through 2018, the team announced Thursday. GEICO also extended its relationship with Germain Racing to be the vehicle's primary sponsor through 2018. GEICO has been a primary sponsor with the team since its inception in 2009. "This is great news for our Germain Racing team because everyone has worked so hard to build this GEICO program and people in the garage are taking notice of what we're accomplishing," Mears said in a team release. "GEICO is such a great partner and they not only support our team, but the sport in general, which makes me even prouder to have the opportunity to drive the GEICO Chevy. We appreciate their belief in us and have enjoyed our relationship with everyone at the corporate office, as well as the GEICO associates that we get to interface with each week at the race track." Mears has piloted the car full time since the 2011 season, notching one top five and five top 10s during that span. He currently sits 22nd in the points standings with two races remaining in the 2015 season. If it holds, it would be his best finish with Germain Racing .
Childress forms alliance with Germain Racing
Richard Childress Racing will offer technical insight as Germain shifts to Chevrolet in 2014
Leavine Family Racing , Circle Sport merge for full slate
RELATED: See the changes for the 2016 CONCORD, N.C. (January 21, 2016) -- Leavine Family Racing (LFR) will join forces with Circle Sport Racing to run the full 36-race schedule in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS). In addition, the race team will enter into an alliance with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and will make the switch to run Chevrolet SS race cars powered by ECR Engines this race season. Veteran driver Michael McDowell , who is entering his third season driving for Leavine Family Racing , will be the primary driver and compete in at least 26 NSCS races in 2016. RCR driver Ty Dillon , who finished third in the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship, will pilot the team's entry for the remaining NSCS races. Specific races for each driver are being determined but both drivers will enter the Daytona 500 . Leavine Family Racing team owner Bob Leavine has been preparing to take the team from a partial schedule to the full series schedule since the team’s inception. The 2016 season proved to be the perfect time to make the leap, thanks in part to the new alliance with Joe Falk's Circle Sport Racing team and technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing . "The manufacturer and alliance switch provides our team with the best opportunity to improve on-track performance and to create long-term sustainability," said Leavine. "This was the right time for us to make this change. We have been turning over every stone looking for the right plan for our team and our people in 2016, and we've finally found a great fit that's going to help us continue to grow both on the track and as an organization." Joe Falk, owner of Circle Sport Racing , had been an owner in NASCAR starting in the late 1990's. Circle Sport competed in its first race in 2012 and has been associated with Richard Childress Racing during that time. "I'm happy to be working with Bob (Leavine) and the team to combine our efforts for a successful 2016 and beyond," said Falk. "We've put together a top notch program obtaining all cars and engines from RCR." McDowell is entering his ninth season as a driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and is scheduled to make his 200th start in 2016. “This is a big step for our competition program,” said McDowell. “The technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing is a huge asset to our growing team and we’ll have access to some of the top equipment in the Cup Series. This type of alliance has worked really well for single-car teams such as JTG Racing and Germain Racing in the past and I’m excited about what we’re going to be able to do in 2016.” Primary sponsorship of the No. 95 Chevrolet SS will include Thrivent Financial, K-LOVE Radio and Cheerios Brand. Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing is seeking additional sponsorship to fill out the season. Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing will kick off their first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Daytona Speedweeks in February 2016.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Owner Standings
After Race 12 of the 2016 season at Dover International Speedway Pos Owner Car # Points Ldr Nxt PPos G/L Attempts 1 Stewart-Haas Racing 4 418 0 -- 1 0 12 2 Joe Gibbs Racing 18 397 -21 -21 2 0 12 3 Stewart-Haas Racing 41 386 -32 -11 5 2 12 4 Joe Gibbs Racing 19 381 -37 -5 3 -1 12 5 Hendrick Motorsports 48 370 -48 -11 4 -1 12 6 Team Penske 2 368 -50 -2 6 0 12 7 Hendrick Motorsports 24 341 -77 -27 11 4 12 8 Team Penske 22 340 -78 -1 7 -1 12 9 Furniture Row Racing 78 336 -82 -4 10 1 12 10 Richard Childress Racing 3 315 -103 -21 8 -2 12 11 Hendrick Motorsports 88 314 -104 -1 9 -2 12 12 Joe Gibbs Racing 20 313 -105 -1 14 2 12 13 Joe Gibbs Racing 11 308 -110 -5 13 0 12 14 Chip Ganassi Racing 1 296 -122 -12 12 -2 12 15 Wood Brothers Racing 21 288 -130 -8 16 1 12 16 JTG Daugherty Racing 47 283 -135 -5 15 -1 12 17 Richard Childress Racing 31 278 -140 -5 17 0 12 18 Roush Fenway Racing 6 275 -143 -3 20 2 12 19 Roush Fenway Racing 17 273 -145 -2 19 0 12 20 Hendrick Motorsports 5 271 -147 -2 18 -2 12 21 Stewart-Haas Racing 14 246 -172 -25 21 0 12 22 Chip Ganassi Racing 42 243 -175 -3 22 0 12 23 Richard Childress Racing 27 232 -186 -11 24 1 12 24 Stewart-Haas Racing 10 216 -202 -16 26 2 12 25 Roush Fenway Racing 16 215 -203 -1 25 0 12 26 Richard Petty Motorsports 43 213 -205 -2 23 -3 12 27 HScott Motorsports 15 211 -207 -2 27 0 12 28 Front Row Motorsports 38 202 -216 -9 28 0 12 29 Germain Racing 13 184 -234 -18 29 0 12 30 Richard Petty Motorsports 44 178 -240 -6 30 0 12 31 Circle Sport-Leavine Family 95 165 -253 -13 33 2 12 32 BK Racing 23 161 -257 -4 34 2 12 33 BK Racing 83 152 -266 -9 31 -2 12 34 Tommy Baldwin Racing 7 148 -270 -4 32 -2 12 35 Front Row Motorsports 34 141 -277 -7 35 0 12 36 HScott Motorsports 46 103 -315 -38 36 0 12 37 Premium Motorsports 98 102 -316 -1 38 1 12 38 GO FAS Racing 32 97 -321 -5 37 -1 12 39 Premium Motorsports 55 52 -366 -45 39 0 7 40 The Motorsports Group 30 44 -374 -8 40 0 12 41 Circle Sport - Leavine Family 59 26 -392 -18 41 0 1 42 Front Row Motorsports 35 24 -394 -2 42 0 2 43 BK Racing 93 5 -413 -19 43 0 2 44 BK Racing 26 3 -415 -2 44 0 1 45 Hillman Racing 40 0 -418 -3 45 0 1
The Rundown: Dover driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings Breaking down the full field for the AAA 400 Drive For Autism at Dover International Speedway : 1. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth outdueled Kyle Larson to end his hard-luck start to the season and grab his first win of 2016. All four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers now have a victory. Grade: A 2. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson did everything short of bumping Kenseth to get his first Sprint Cup victory. Instead he settled for his fourth second-place finish in 87 starts and his fourth top 10 in five starts at Dover. Grade: A 3. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott overcame radio communication issues to make a late run at Kenseth before posting his eighth top-10 finish and move up four spots in the Sprint Cup Series driver standings to seventh. Grade: A 4. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne's second top five in 2016 moved him back into the top 16 in the driver standings. He had three top fives all last season. Grade: A 5. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . A solid day for the No. 41. Busch ran among the leaders all afternoon to ring up his series-high 10th top 10. He also moved up two spots in the driver standings to third. Grade : A 6. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Disaster struck when he clipped Austin Dillon while running second on Lap 283. Then un-disaster struck when the No. 2 wasn't one of the 18 cars caught up in the big wreck. That's what you call a good day. Grade: B 7. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin was all over the place Sunday, leading 15 laps, racking up another pit-road penalty and at one point finding himself two laps back. And this was before getting collected in the big wreck. It's where you finish that counts, though. Grade: B 8. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney avoided mayhem to post a career-best third straight top 10. He also moved up to 15th in the driver standings. Grade: A 9. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . You've heard this before: Truex deserved better. Truex led 47 laps and was a fixture in the top 10. Fate came calling again, though. During the 10th caution, he purposely slowed at the exit of pit road to allow the No. 19 to pass him so his No. 78 could start fourth on the outside of the second row with less than 50 laps to go. Unfortunately that put him right behind Jimmie Johnson , who touched off the big wreck on the restart. Grade: A 10. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne spent only 46 laps in the top 15 and had an average position of 21.9. But he still netted a top-10 finish, his third of 2016, which is one more than he had all last season. Grade: B 11. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard was involved in the big wreck, but and in his highest running position. He was one of only two drivers who did not complete at least one lap in the top 10 Sunday ( Tony Stewart was the other). Grade: C 12. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer manufactured his third consecutive top-20 finish, his first since he strung together four in races 24-27 last year. Grade: C 13. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Driving a backup car, Patrick posted her best finish since her last top 10 – a ninth at Bristol more than a year ago. Maybe that's the formula. Grade: C 14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse is showing consistency: His finishes the past three races are 16th, 13th and 14th (Sunday). Grade: C 15. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick led a race-high 117 laps, and who knows how well he would have done if his pit crew had done its job? Harvick's grade is an average of his A and his crew's F. Grade: C 16. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman overcame a pit-road penalty and survived the big wreck, but he still dropped a spot in the standings to 18th, eight points out of 16th. Grade : C 17. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan posted his best finish since last September at Chicagoland (15th). And with his average running position of 30th, that kicks off a theme for the next four drivers. Grade: B 18. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Buescher probably thought his day was toast when he went spinning with a little over 50 laps to go. Instead, he gets the best finish of his Sprint Cup career despite spending most of the day in the back of the field (29.0 average running position). Grade : B 19. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Cassill's average running position was 31.1 and he was 33rd at the halfway point. He also wasn't caught up in the big wreck. Grade: B 20. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell (30.0 average running position) raced in the neighborhood of David Ragan , Chris Buescher and Landon Cassill and finished in their neighborhood, too, for his best day since finishing 15th at Daytona. Grade: B 21. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray started his day in a backup car and finished a season-high five laps off the pace. Grade: C 22. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano suffered heavy damage in the big wreck and finished the race nine laps back without a hood or any other sheet metal up front. Grade: C 23. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . The 18-car pileup cost Allmendinger more than a poor finish; it dropped him outside the top 16 in the driver standings to 17th. Grade: C 24. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . His duel with Danica provided in-race entertainment in the first 100 laps. Grade: C 25. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . When Johnson's transmission wouldn't go from second to third gear on the Lap 356 restart with the No. 48 on the outside of the front row, all the highlights of his day – moving up from starting 21st, passing 3,000 laps led at Dover – went out the window faster than it took 17 cars to pile up behind him. Grade: C 26. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . The big wreck triggered by Johnson ruined Mears' day. Grade: C 27. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Despite his third DNF of the season, Whitt posted his third-best finish of the season. Grade: C 28. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Just a handful of laps after avoiding the big wreck, Edwards was running third with 39 laps to go when a tap from behind from Kyle Larson sent the No. 19 hard into the inside wall nose first. Grade: B 29. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle stayed out during the fourth caution and led six laps – the first laps he has led this season. The big wreck left him with his third DNF of the season, the same number he had in the previous five seasons combined. Grade: B- 30. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The handling was not good on the No. 18, and the big wreck took care of the rest of Busch's car. Grade: D 31. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . After making up the two laps he lost following purposeful contact from Tony Stewart on Lap 129, Almirola took a hard hit in the big wreck that left him with a potentially broken finger. In other words, not a good day. Grade: D 32. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Junior suffered his third DNF of the season and second in three races when the No. 88 was knocked out in the big wreck. Grade: C 33. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . A day to forget. Dillon brought out the fifth caution when a rotor broke on Lap 184 and he hit the wall. His team fixed the rotor, and he turned to the race only to be hit by Brad Keselowski on Lap 283. Grade: C 34. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . The No. 14 was not competitive (15th was its high point), and with 57 laps to go, the track bar on the No. 14 broke and punctured the oil tank. End of race. Grade: F 35. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . Earnhardt was running at the finish – but a career-high 66 laps back. Grade: D 36. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Lost a cylinder early but was running at the finish. Grade: F 37. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Contact from Jamie McMurray sent Annett smashing into the inside wall on Lap 227, ending his day. Grade: D 38. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson's day ended with a spin on Lap 214. Grade: F 39. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith posted his worst finish of the season after going for a spin and hitting the wall on Lap 144. Grade: F 40. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . The Monster's outside wall devoured its first victim when the No. 83's right front tire went on Lap 120. Grade: F
RCR forms technical alliance with Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing
RELATED: See the changes for the 2016 CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ty Dillon is set to expand his Sprint Cup Series horizons, signing on to the newly-merged Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing team in 2016 for an undetermined number of races. Richard Childress Racing , owned by Dillon's grandfather and organizational namesake, and Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing have agreed to form a technical alliance in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, beginning with the 2016 season with drivers Dillon and Michael McDowell . The partnership includes technology sharing, engineering, research and development provided to Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing as they switch its No. 95 Sprint Cup Series cars to Chevrolet beginning with the 2016 season. Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing will also benefit from utilizing ECR Engines. Dillon will run select races, including the Daytona 500 , for Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing in 2016, while McDowell will be the primary driver for the team. "This is a big step for our competition program," said McDowell in a team release. "The technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing is a huge asset to our growing team and we'll have access to some of the top equipment in the Cup Series. This type of alliance has worked really well for single-car teams such as JTG-Daugherty Racing and Germain Racing in the past and I'm excited about what we're going to be able to do in 2016." For Dillon, a favorite to win his first XFINITY Series championship behind the wheel of RCR's No. 3 entry, it's a chance to expand on a brief Cup slate in 2015 in which he picked up a better finish than his starting position in each of his five appearances. At the very least, it's a chance to expand his overall racing knowledge as he looks to lock up a title he nearly had last year with an eye on a full-time Cup ride in 2017. "Every time I get an opportunity to run the Cup Series, I use it to add notes to my notebook for hopefully a full season to come," Dillon said Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. "I can't thank the Leavine family and Joe Falk and Circle Sport enough for giving me the opportunity to run some races in the Cup Series this year. I want to do the best I can with them. I want to go out there and take this team and show people what we're made of ... run with it and get some really good finishes. I know I can do it at this level and I'm ready to show people." All of Dillon's seven Cup starts (he made two in 2014) have come with Circle Sport, behind the wheel of the No. 33, so familiarity certainly won't be an issue. Sharing a ride with a fellow driver, however, may be a different story. Luckily the 23-year-old knows the value in the extra feedback that McDowell can give and thinks it can be beneficial to his overall driving ability. "Michael is a great, accomplished racer and he's been running in the Cup Series for a while now," Dillon said. "He's a really, extremely good road racer so hopefully I can lean on him for that a little bit and just grow a relationship that I have with him." According to the team, McDowell is expected to run at least 26 of the season's 36 races, with Dillon's slate expected to be anywhere from six to 16. Both drivers will be in certain races, starting with the season-opening Daytona 500 (Feb. 21, 1 p.m. ET, FOX).
Casey Mears' Darlington paint scheme revealed
RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes " SHOP: Mears gear Casey Mears revealed his throwback No. 13 paint scheme for the Bojangles' Southern 500 (6 p.m. ET Sept. 4, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Darlington Raceway on Tuesday via "NASCAR America." Mears joins the likes of Kevin Harvick , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Danica Patrick , etc., who have all unveiled throwback schemes for the Labor Day weekend event. The scheme pays tribute to the late Smokey Yunick -- a colorful and pivotal mechanic in stock car racing who served as crew chief for No. 13 drivers Curtis Thomas, Johnny Rutherford and Mario Andretti. In his 10-year career, Yunick earned 22 premier series wins as a crew chief and was crew chief to Herb Thomas' Cup series championships in 1951 and 1953. Mears said he's excited to be running the Smokey Yunick tribute scheme on his GEICO Chevrolet. "Out of all the history of NASCAR I'd have to say he’s probably one of the top five most innovative people in the sport," Mears said of Yunick. "We feel fortunate to be able to run a paint scheme that has so much meaning and cool history in NASCAR. Hopefully, we can go to Darlington and do a good job with that car in the Bojangles' Southern 500 and Smokey's family will be proud." Smokey's daughter Trish is already proud. "My dad loved racing at Darlington, tire problems and gnats alike," said Trish Yunick. "It's so special to us to have him remembered in this way. The Germain Racing car looks great. I look forward to seeing the black-and-gold 13 on the track again. I am thrilled that Smokey's legacy is getting a chance to be in front of the next generation of NASCAR fans and hope it encourages renewed interest in his story." Yunick was crew chief to many drivers with many different numbers -- but in line with his bold attitude, the No. 13 was the number he ran to be unconventional and a bit provocative. "Nobody used number 13, it had no sponsors, and it was gold and black," said Mario Andretti, who raced the Chevrolet for Yunick in 1966. "It was an attention-grabber. That car, with Curtis Turner driving, was on pole in 1967 when I won the Daytona 500 . ... The stories behind that car, including stories about Smokey and Curtis Turner are worth revisiting." Germain Racing team owner Bob Germain Jr. said Darlington's throwback weekend is becoming a highlight of the racing season, showcasing NASCAR's roots. "Smokey Yunick's famous number 13 Chevrolets are part of those roots," Germain added. "He raced many car numbers, but it's my understanding he enjoyed the mysterious or daring nature of the 13 number. Our fans have really spoken up on Twitter asking us, GEICO, Casey and Bootie to race this paint scheme." 10:36 ]
The Rundown: Bristol driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings " Chase Grid MORE: Peyton's day at the track " Before and after of damaged cars Breaking down the full field for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway : 1. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards was the class of the field Sunday at Bristol and the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver not to have an issue. Starting from the pole Edwards dominated the race and made it pay off, earning his first victory of the season and all but punching his ticket to the Chase. Grade: A+ 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt's day got off to a terrible start when his car did not have power at the drop of the green flag and he fell two laps down just as the race got under way. Never giving up, he got his lap back by taking the wave around on the third caution of the day and fought hard to climb his way to the front. On the final restart of the day he powered to second and held off Kurt Busch and teammate Chase Elliott . Grade: A+ 3. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . The Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet came to life late in the race and took the lead for the first time with 145 laps to go. Despite a left rear tire rub in the closing stages Busch fought hard and ended the day inside the top five. Grade: A 4. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Running inside the top 10 on Lap 179, the rookie contender had to hit pit road with a loose wheel and fell back. With less than 100 laps to go he was inside the top five and charging forward. With 32 laps to go Elliott got a huge restart and jumped to second and put pressure on Carl Edwards for the lead. He slipped to fourth in the end, but recorded the best finish of his young career. Grade: A 5. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Could Roush Fenway Racing be on the upswing? Bayne started 10th and had another strong run until he had a pit road commitment line violation on the fourth caution of the day. He rallied back, beat and banged his way to the front and finished fifth. Grade: A 6. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto had a solid, quiet day going at Bristol, racing his way into the top 10 with less than 20 laps to go. The BK Racing driver was far from content, though. He knocked on the door of the top five in the closing laps and earned a career-best finish. It was the feel good story of the weekend for sure. Grade: A+ 7. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . As the race approached the halfway mark, Harvick's car came to life and charged to the front of the field. Harvick hit the wall with 16 laps to go while chasing Chase Elliott for second, but the contact caused little damage to the No. 4 Chevy. He kept restarting on the bottom lane and was unable to challenge for the win. Grade : A 8. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Off to one of the worst starts of his career, Bowyer and the HScott Motorsports team came to life Sunday at Bristol. Starting 36th, Bowyer stayed out of trouble and gained 28 spots to earn his first top 10 of the season. Grade: A+ 9. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Crew chief Luke Lambert called for two tires on the first stop of the day, putting the No. 31 into the top 10. A pit road speeding penalty under the eighth caution sent Newman to the rear of the field with less than 165 laps to go. Newman fought hard after the setback and climbed back to ninth when the checkered flag flew. Grade: B+ 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . One of the fastest cars early in the race, Logano had to pit with a vibration under green and was then hit with a tire violation. The No. 22 fell two laps down, but fought back. With 32 laps to go Logano was fifth, but lost power and dropped like a rock on the late-race restart. Grade: B 11. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . The rookie contender worked his way into the top five throughout Sunday's race, but the No. 21 Ford slipped just outside the top 10 at the end of the day. Grade: B 12. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle was penalized for speeding on pit road under the sixth caution of the day and sent to the rear of the longest line for the restart. Despite the setback, Biffle quietly worked his way back to the top 10. When the checkered flag flew, Biffle had dropped to 12th. Grade: B 13. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray started 13th and finished 13th. He avoided trouble and tied his season-best finish. Grade: B 14. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . The No. 78 was fast once again, but issues on pit road continued to slow the team throughout the day. Running second with roughly 75 laps to go Truex reported a loose wheel and was forced to pit road under green. The team just could not find a rhythm. Grade: C 15. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard took two tires on the third caution of the day and restarted second. The No. 27 fell back when the green flag flew, but the move looked to pay off in the long run. Later in the going he had to pit a second time to check for loose lug nuts, suffered damage on the car, but climbed back to 15th at the end of the day. Grade: B- 16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse got loose in the corner and spun off Turn 2 to bring out the second caution of the day. The RFR driver fought his way into the top 10 with 25 laps to go, but fell just outside the top 15 in the closing laps. Grade: B 17. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The driver of the No. 5 raced his way into the top five with 150 laps to go and shows signs of strength. Unable to maintain that spot, he dropped to 17th when the checkered flag flew. Grade: B- 18. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski worked his way into the top five after 55 laps, but was hit with a pit road speeding penalty under the first caution. Racing his way through the field took its toll on the No. 2, which was beaten up all around. Running fourth with 115 laps to go Keselowski broke a valve stem after contact and had to pit under green. He could only climb his way back to 18th. Grade: B 19. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger had another great run going, as he started in the top 10 and was racing at the front of the field in the opening stages of the day. However, just before the halfway mark Allmendinger hit pit road with a loose wheel under green. While he got his lap back, he was never able to rally back. Grade: B- 20. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . After getting into Danica Patrick in practice, Hamlin got into Brian Scott on pit road during the fifth caution of the day. The contact caused significant damage to to the right front of the No. 11 Toyota. Hamlin then hit the wall while running 15th with 92 laps to go to bring out the 11th caution of the day. Grade: C- 21. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . The rookie contender started 21st, sent Kyle Busch spinning on Lap 115 when the field stacked up, finished 21st and earned his best finish of the 2016 season. Grade: C 22. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . After running mid-pack for much of the day, Cassill stayed out on the seventh caution of the day to take the lead. Cassill held onto the lead for 20 laps and was able to stay in the top five when the eighth caution of the day flew. Cassill was forced to pit road with 38 laps to go after contact with Ty Dillon late in the race. Grade: A- 23. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . A pit road speeding penalty under the first caution of the day sent Johnson to the rear of the field, but by the 200-lap mark Johnson was inside the top five. Johnson was forced to pit with a vibration while running third at the 300-lap mark, falling back to 31st, two laps down. The former champ fought back to 23rd, but was the first car one lap down. Grade: C 24. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . The No. 13 Chevy was hit by AJ Allmendinger on a restart with less than 165 laps to go and Mears made a great save avoiding any damage to the car. While he broke into the top 15 just past the halfway mark, he fell through the field in the closing part of the race. Grade: C 25. Ty Dillon , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . After having issues in qualifying, the younger Dillon brother used strategy to make his way to the front of the field and was able to maintain a solid top-10 position. Earnhardt Jr. used up the No. 14 with less than 50 laps to go, causing a significant left rear tire rub. The problems weren’t over, as Landon Cassill did the same thing just a handful of laps later. Grade: C+ 26. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon used up the right side of the No. 3 Chevrolet after getting into the wall multiple times. He was also hit with a pit road speeding penalty under the sixth caution of the day. The older Dillon brother definitely had a rough outing at the Last Great Colosseum. Grade: C- 27. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Running mid-pack, Patrick stayed out on the seventh caution of the day and jumped into the top five. Once the race went back to green, the No. 10 Chevy faded and Patrick slipped back in the pack. The team was hit with two separate pit road penalties with less than 90 laps to go. Grade: C- 28. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Whitt had a quiet run at the half-mile short track, but gained 11 spots on the day. Grade: C+ 29. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell raced his way as high as 17th just past the halfway mark, but dropped to 29th at the end of the day. After starting 31st, it was still a gain. Grade: C 30. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott made contact with Denny Hamlin on pit road, causing damage to both cars. He was running the top 30 when he got loose in the corner and spun to bring out the 10th caution of the day. Grade: C- 31. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Starting last, Annett spent much of the day racing around 35th, but he was sent spinning late in the race after contact with front-runner Kevin Harvick . Grade: C 32. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . The fourth-generation driver started 37th, stayed out of trouble and finished the day 32nd. Not too bad for his first Bristol start. Grade: C 33. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group . Wise's No. 30 Chevrolet had a tire issue and hit the outside wall to bring out the eighth caution of the day. Grade: C- 34. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Stuck behind Dale Jr. to start the day, Almirola suffered damage to the nose of the car just as the green flag flew. He was running 19th when he was hit by Martin Truex Jr . and sent spinning into the outside wall, causing significant damage to the No. 43 Ford. He didn’t want to get out of the car, but NASCAR said he had to and a post-race meeting in the hauler was the end result. Grade: C- 35. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. After giving a win away on Saturday in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Larson charged from his 25th starting spot and was in the top 10 before the 90-lap mark. Running third, a trackbar issue forced Larson and team to take the car behind the wall. Grade: D 36. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Dominating the race in the early stages, Kenseth blew a right front tire and hit the wall to bring out the fifth caution of the day while leading on Lap 186. After racing back in the top 10, Kenseth had another tire issue late in the race and was forced to pit road. With no caution thrown, the No. 20 team’s chances at victory were gone and the car went behind the wall. Grade: D 37. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith was a non-factor throughout the day until he was hit by Danica Patrick and made hard contact with the wall with just nine laps to go. Grade: D 38. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Running third on Lap 52, Busch lost a right front tire and hit the outside wall to bring out the first caution of the day. Busch made his way into the top 20, but was spun on Lap 115 after contact with Chris Buescher . After working into the top five, he was hit with a speeding penalty on the fifth caution of the day. While racing back to the front again, Busch made heavy contact with the wall on Lap 258 and took the car behind the wall. Grade: D 39. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan was stuck behind Dale Jr. when he had his issue on the initial start of the day, and things did not get much better. With smoke billowing out of the exhaust, Ragan took the car behind the wall with an engine issue on Lap 217. Grade: F 40. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson started 38th, but pulled the car behind the wall after completing just 169 of the 500 laps. Grade: F