Get the history of Germain Racing and full crew of Casey Mears
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 .
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
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Owner Standings
After Race 19 of the 2016 season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Pos Team No. Points Attempts Races Wins 1 Stewart-Haas Racing 4 636 19 19 1 2 Team Penske 2 622 19 19 4 3 Stewart-Haas Racing 41 602 19 19 1 4 Joe Gibbs Racing 19 587 19 19 2 5 Team Penske 22 571 19 19 1 6 Joe Gibbs Racing 18 556 19 19 3 7 Furniture Row Racing 78 540 19 19 1 8 Hendrick Motorsports 48 514 19 19 2 9 Joe Gibbs Racing 20 506 19 19 2 10 Joe Gibbs Racing 11 505 19 19 1 11 Hendrick Motorsports 24 499 19 19 0 12 Richard Childress Racing 31 497 19 19 0 13 Richard Childress Racing 3 488 19 19 0 14 Hendrick Motorsports 88 476 19 19 0 15 Chip Ganassi Racing 1 474 19 19 0 16 Roush Fenway Racing 6 447 19 19 0 17 Wood Brothers Racing 21 445 19 19 0 18 Stewart-Haas Racing 14 439 19 19 1 19 Hendrick Motorsports 5 439 19 19 0 20 Chip Ganassi Racing 42 436 19 19 0 21 Roush Fenway Racing 17 420 19 19 0 22 JTG Daugherty Racing 47 418 19 19 0 23 Roush Fenway Racing 16 395 19 19 0 24 Richard Childress Racing 27 366 19 19 0 25 Stewart-Haas Racing 10 354 19 19 0 26 Richard Petty Motorsports 43 347 19 19 0 27 HScott Motorsports 15 339 19 19 0 28 Germain Racing 13 293 19 19 0 29 Front Row Motorsports 38 284 19 19 0 30 BK Racing 23 274 19 19 0 31 Circle Sports-Leavine Family 95 262 19 19 0 32 Richard Petty Motorsports 44 220 19 19 0 33 Tommy Baldwin Racing 7 219 19 19 0 34 Front Row Motorsports 34 210 19 19 0 35 BK Racing 83 200 19 19 0 36 Premium Motorsports 98 192 19 17 0 37 HScott Motorsports 46 173 19 19 0 38 Go FAS Racing 32 154 19 19 0 39 Premium Motorsports 55 117 14 13 0 40 The Motorsports Group 30 93 19 16 0 41 Front Row Motorsports 35 46 3 2 0 42 Circle Sport-Leavine Family 59 26 1 1 0 43 BK Racing 93 11 3 3 0 44 BK Racing 26 3 1 1 0 45 Hillman Racing 40 0 1 0 0
Childress forms alliance with Germain Racing
Richard Childress Racing will offer technical insight as Germain shifts to Chevrolet in 2014
The Rundown: New Hampshire driver grades
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: 1. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Not even a hiccup on pit road during the second caution could derail the No. 20 team. Remember this for when the Sprint Cup Series returns to Loudon for the second Chase race: Kenseth has won two in a row at New Hampshire and three of the past six. Grade: A 2. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Smoke's third top five in the past four races gives him 185 for his career, tying Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett for 16th all time. And to think that just a few weeks ago the discussion was whether Stewart would crack the top 30. Grade: A+ 3. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. The No. 22 team used the race as a test for the September race at Loudon and still finished in the top five for the fifth time in the past six weeks. Grade: A 4. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Great finish, but the continued woes on pit road are troubling -- especially this late into the season. Grade: A- 5. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Fact 1: Taking a wave around followed by another caution enabled Biffle (and others, as you will see) to post a great finish, despite running only 20 laps in the top 15. Fact 2: In racing , you're ultimately judged by where you finish. And Biffle has his first top five since last September at Loudon. Grade: B+ 6. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . McMurray said his goal was to minimize mistakes to keep alive his Chase chances, yet he found himself jousting side-by-side with Denny Hamlin with 21 laps to go. Fortunately for McMurray, they traded only paint, and McMurray was able to post his second-consecutive top 10 and take advantage of Dale Earnhardt Jr. 's absence to move up a spot to 14th in the standings. Grade: A 7. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman was part of the wave-around gang and left Loudon a solid 12th in the standings. Sometimes, timing is everything: Newman's average running position for the day, 21.0, was the worst among top-10 finishers, just below Greg Biffle's 20.4. Grade: B 8. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch led a race-high 133 laps, the first time since last September at Chicagoland he has led the most laps and not won. Grade: A 9. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin ran with the leaders all afternoon. He stayed out on the fourth caution and restarted with the lead on Lap 269. He held it one more lap before Matt Kenseth passed him. But his dust-up with Jamie McMurray caused a tire rub on the No. 11 and a pit stop on the sixth caution. Grade: A 10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse spent all of 30 laps in the top 15 but was one of the drivers who parlayed the wave around on the fifth caution into a good finish. Grade: B 11. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney fell from 11th to 25th after serving a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 184. He was able to avoid a points calamity with a wave around on the fifth caution. He's 17th in the standings, two points behind Trevor Bayne and 16 behind 15th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. Grade: B- 12. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The polesitter led the first lap, and that was it. He did, however, post his best finish since coming home third at Charlotte in May. Grade: B 13. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . A solid finish enabled Dillon to take advantage of Dale Earnhardt Jr. 's absence and move up a spot to 13th in the standings. Grade: B 14. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Danica also was a wave-around winner Sunday, finishing well ahead of her 23.7 average running position. It was her second-best finish of the season. Grade: B- 15. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. Keselowski was having a great day until he found himself sandwiched between teammate Joey Logano low and Kurt Busch high with fewer than 20 laps to go. Keselowski made contact with both and cut a tire, ending any chances for a better finish. Grade: B 16. Martin Truex Jr. , No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Truex had a great car and led 123 laps until ... his gear shift broke with fewer than 50 laps to go and then his clutch went, meaning he had trouble leaving pit road and trouble on restarts. Pit road was Truex's problem, restarts was everyone else's. Grade: C 17. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . Running seventh, Larson's fate was sealed with 15 laps to go when Ryan Newman got into the back of Carl Edwards , who hit Larson and sent him spinning. It could have been a lot worse. Grade: B 18. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard finished 18th for the second week in a row and fifth time this season. If you think I'm counting, you're right. Grade: C 19. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Almirola's streak without a top-10 finish hit 20 races. Grade: C 20. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . It was unintentional, but Ryan Newman got into the back of Edwards with 15 laps to go, touching off the final caution. Edwards had a top-10 car and was running eighth when it happened. Grade: B 21. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger rolled off the grid 10th but couldn't convert his best start at Loudon since September 2010 into a quality finish. A penalty for his crew over the wall too soon on Lap 222 didn't help. Grade: C 22. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Running in the top 10, Busch was up top on a three-wide with Joey Logano low and Brad Keselowski in the middle. Contact with Keselowski resulted in a tire rub and a couple of laps later a blown left-rear tire. It is only the fourth time this season Busch has finished outside the top 10. Even with the blowout, he still had an average running position of 7.0. Grade: B 23. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . 'Twas not Bayne's day. He completed zero laps in the top 15, and if it weren't for the lucky dog on Lap 277, his finish would have been worse. He also benefitted from Dale Earnhardt Jr. absence. Bayne is 16th in points, 14 behind Junior. Grade: C- 24. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. This was not the same Clint Bowyer who has two wins and seven top 10s at New Hampshire. Maybe next year. Grade: C 25. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne was one of the bigger losers Sunday. He had a solid top-15 car and was vying for a top-10 finish when he was collected in the Ryan Newman - Carl Edwards - Kyle Larson wreck and his promising day went south with 15 laps to go. He dropped a spot to 18th in the standings. Grade: B- 26. Alex Bowman , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Bowman was the story of the day, subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. , who missed the race because of concussion-like symptoms. He was staring at the best finish of his young Sprint Cup career when a tire went down and he hit the wall on Lap 273 while running eighth. Grade: B 27. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears improved his finish a handful of spots thanks to the lucky dog on the final caution. Grade: C- 28. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Cassill posted his second-best finish at New Hampshire in his past seven starts at the track. Grade: C 29. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Buescher brought out the second caution when he spun on Lap 100 trying to avoid Josh Wise , who had slowed just ahead of him. He finished two laps down. Grade: C 30. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . An unscheduled pit stop under green on Lap 130 for a vibration costs Ragan a better finish. He was running in the top 25 at the time. Grade: C 31. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto's finish tied for his best since a 30th-place run at Kansas in May. Grade: D 32. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith was making his first start at New Hampshire since September 2012 when he finished 16th. Grade: D 33. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Annett's run of top-30 finishes ended at two (20th at Daytona, 26th at Kentucky). Grade: D 34. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott sustained a tire rub as cars made contact behind the hobbled car of Martin Truex Jr. on the restart on Lap 269. Four laps later, while running in the top 10, the tire blew. Even with the poor finish, Elliott still had an average running position of 10.2. Grade: C 35. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Just like Michael Annett , Sorenson's run of top-30 finishes ended at two (22nd at Daytona, 27th at Kentucky). Grade: D 36. Eddie MacDonald , No. 32 Ford, GO FAS Racing . MacDonald, a K&N Pro Series East veteran from Massachusetts, made his third Sprint Cup Series start, all in the No. 32 Ford at New Hampshire. Last July he finished 37th and the year before 35th. Grade: C- 37. Ryan Ellis , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Ellis also made his third Sprint Cup Series start but first at New Hampshire. He finished nine laps back Sunday. Grade C- 38. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. A fluid leak caused Scott's brakes to fail. He finished 23 laps back. Grade: F 39. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport-Leavine Family. Electrical issues doomed McDowell to his second DNF of the season, all in his past three starts. Grade: F 40. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. One week after his best finish of the season (24th at Kentucky), Wise got his fifth DNF (accident). Grade: F &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
The Rundown: Kentucky driver grades
Breaking down the full field for the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway: 1. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. Keselowski won on pure speed last week at Daytona and did the opposite Saturday night, stretching his last tank of fuel for 71 laps. Wonder what he's going to do next week at Loudon, where he finished second last July? Grade: A+ 2. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards almost won the fuel-mileage game. Instead he finished in the top five for the seventh time this season, equaling his top fives in each of the past two seasons -- with half a season to go. Grade: A 3. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman snagged his first top five since last September at Chicagoland. Equally important, he moved up two spots to 12th in the standings and is now 40 points ahead of 17th-place Kasey Kahne . Grade: A 4. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . What a night for Busch. He had to start in the rear of the field because he was in a backup car and navigated his way to his 14th consecutive top 10 at a 1.5-mile track. It also gave him top-five finishes at every Cup track. Impressive. Grade: A 5. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Big night for Stewart, too. Besides scoring a top five in his 600th start, he just missed the big wreck on Lap 93 and caught a big break when his three nearest competitors for 30th in the standings all wrecked and had DNFs. Stewart is still 30th, but he's now 31 points to the good, a pickup of a whopping 28 points. Grade: A 6. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle told NBC Sports before the race his team was an 11th- to 16th-place team and needed to figure out how to get better. That didn't take long. He has consecutive top 10s for the first time in nearly two years. Grade: A 7. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . The top 10 moved McMurray up a spot in the standings to 15th, 16 points ahead of Kasey Kahne in 17th. Grade: A 8. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth's fuel didn't stretch as far as Brad Keselowski 's, but he contributed to the excitement at the end. Grade: A 9. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick overshot his pit box on his final pit stop (under green) with 16 laps to go, but as it turned out, it only cost him a higher finish. He led a race-high 128 laps. Grade: A 10. Martin Truex Jr. , No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Truex was penalized for passing on entry to pit road and restarted 23rd on Lap 200 -- after he was first off pit road for the race's final restart. He wasn't happy. "Say what? I do that every week," he said when told of the penalty. He flew through the field and moved into the top five, but despite having packed his tank with fuel two laps after the leaders, he had to pit with 10 to go. What was unfortunate for Truex made for great theater. His blitz through the field was awesome. Grade: A- 11. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne just avoided the big wreck on Lap 93 and moved back into the top 16 (16th) for the second time this season. Grade: B+ 12. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch ran among the leaders all night -- his average running position was 6.4 -- he just didn't have a finish that reflected it. Grade: B 13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Jimmie Johnson spun right in front of Earnhardt on Lap 32, and Junior emerged unscathed. Then he just missed getting collected in the big wreck on Lap 93. Considering what could have been, a top 15 wasn't bad. Grade: B 14. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne moved up a spot in the standings to 17th, but Trevor Bayne (16th) finished three spots better Saturday night. Inconsequential? Kahne missed the Chase last year by 16 points. Grade: B 15. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin finished a very quiet 15th. In the first six races on 1.5-mile tracks, Hamlin has one top 10 (fourth at Charlotte) and a 17.2 average finish. Five of the 10 Chase races are on 1.5-mile tracks. Grade: B 16. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon dropped two spots in the standings to 14th but has a 37-point cushion on 17th-place Kasey Kahne . Grade: B 17. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Danica drove through the big wreck on Lap 93 and later just avoided getting hit by Clint Bowyer when he got loose to bring out the ninth caution -- which made Patrick the beneficiary. She parlayed those events into her third-best finish of the season. Grade B 18. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Obscure fact of the night: In the 18th race of the season, Menard finished 18th for the fourth time in 2016. Grade: C 19. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . Larson ran among the leaders early, but his car became very loose late and then fuel mileage took care of the rest. It was his worst finish since Kansas, two months ago. Grade: C 20. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. The No. 43 team tried a little pit strategy, but the result was the same -- another mediocre finish. Almirola is one of eight drivers to start all 18 races who has yet to finish in the top 10. Grade: C 21. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Whitt squirted though the big wreck on Lap 93 and was rewarded with his third-best finish of the season. Grade: B 22. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan was right there with Cole Whitt in avoiding the Lap 93 mess. Later he escaped being collected when Clint Bowyer got loose. Grade: B- 23. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Speaking of Bowyer … he was running 26th, one lap down, when the air was taken off his car and he got loose, bringing out the ninth caution. He finished two laps back. Grade: C 24. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsport Group. Wise posted his best finish of the season. In fact, his best three finishes of the season have come in his past four starts. Grade: B+ 25. Ty Dillon , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport-Leavine Family. Dillon was collected in the night's biggest wreck but sustained minimal damage after having nowhere to go and running into the back of AJ Allmendinger. The result: Dillon keeps his RAF streak alive. He's 15-for-15 in Cup races. Grade: B 26. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Annett followed up a season-best 20th at Daytona with his second-best finish of 2016. Grade: B 27. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Something must be in the water. Sorenson does the same as Annett. Sorenson finished 22nd at Daytona. Grade: B 28. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, GO FAS Racing . Hats off to Earnhardt, who posted the best finish of his Cup career (12 starts). Grade: B+ 29. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Moments after making a great save, Cassill was running 19th when he hit the outside wall on Lap 194 to bring out the final caution. Ruined a pretty good night. Grade: C 30. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears went to the garage on Lap 29 with a brake issue. He returned to the track and finished 21 laps back. Grade: D 31. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott was on the outside of a three-wide after the restart on Lap 88 when Ryan Blaney got loose and collected the No. 24, causing extensive damage. That's two wrecks in two weeks. Grade: C- 32. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson lost the car on Lap 32 and slapped the wall, forcing him into the garage for repairs. Johnson returned to log 208 laps but still suffered his third DNF because of crashes in the past five races. Grade: F 33. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Scott set off the biggest wreck in the race when he got loose on Lap 93, saved the car but was hit from behind by Kyle Larson . Scott swooped wide but turned back to the middle of the track, right in front of Chris Buescher who T-boned him. It was Scott's third DNF for crashes in the past four races Grade: F 34. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith's night ended in an instant on Lap 152 when he crashed hard into the outside wall. Smith put his night into perspective on Twitter after the race: "Kentucky... I love your people, whiskey, horses, hell basically ur whole state. Your racetrack though, we're gonna have to work on that." Note to Regan: In Kentucky, it's bourbon. Grade: F 35. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney's night began to go south during the fifth caution when he was leaving his pit stall as Cole Witt was entering his. They made contact, and Blaney's car suffered damage to the right front. He still restarted fifth on Lap 88, but moments later he was in the middle of a three-wide, got loose and collected Chase Elliott on the way to hitting the wall. Blaney lost three spots in the standings to 18th. Grade: F 36. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger got caught up in the Lap 93 wreck, running into the back of Chris Buescher . Allmendinger was 68 laps down when he returned to the track, but he crashed hard, ending his night and injuring his thumb. He was 16 points below the Chase cut line coming into the race. He's 31 back now. Grade: D 37. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Buescher was in the wrong place at the wrong time. His night was showing promise when his car was destroyed on impact with Brian Scott . Grade: C- 38. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto was running 29th when he hit the wall, bringing out the fifth caution and ending his night. Grade: F 39. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. Logano got loose on Lap 42 and hit the wall, damaging the right-rear quarter panel and deck lid. On Lap 54 he hit it even harder, ending his night. Logano was one of a number of drivers with brake and tire issues. Grade: F 40. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse completed all of nine laps before he smacked the wall twice. His Chase hopes also took a big hit; he went from 17 points behind 16th to 40. Stenhouse tweeted the culprit was his mishandling of low downforce. He had plenty of company Saturday. Grade: F
The Rundown: Daytona driver grades
Breaking down the full field for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway : 1. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . What a night for Keselowski and Team Penske . Total domination by Keselowski, who led 115 of 161 laps for his fifth restrictor-plate win but first at Daytona. Grade: A+ 2. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch recovers from yet another hard crash at Daytona to score his series-best 10th top five of the season. Grade: A 3. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne avoided being collected in Tony Stewart 's wreck to finish in the top five for the second time this season and third time in his career. You haven't forgotten the first, have you? Grade: A 4. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . It was a tale of two pushes for Logano. Teammate Brad Keselowski loved his on the final restart; Kurt Busch had no love for Logano after he went from 2nd to sliding across the start-finish line in 23rd. Grade: A- 5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse came into the year with three career top-five finishes, one in each of the past three seasons. Now he has two in 2016. This also was his third top 10, equaling his total for all of 2015. Well done. Grade: A 6. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . Larson's finishes at Daytona this year: 7th and 6th. In his first four starts: 38th, 36th, 34th and 39th with three DNFs for crashes. Grade: A 7. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . In seven starts at Daytona, Dillon has five top-10 finishes. It's only a matter of time before he puts the No. 3 in Victory Lane. Grade: A 8. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle started from the pole for the first time since 2012 and picked up his first top 10 since last September at New Hampshire. Nicely done. Grade: A 9. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . After his quick exit last week at Sonoma (five laps), Bowyer got his third top 10 of the season and led a lap for the first time in 2016. Grade: A+ 10. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport-Leavine Family. McDowell scored the third top 10 of his career (196 starts) and first since 2014. Oh … all three top 10s are at Daytona. Grade: A+ 11. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Witt just missed the first top 10 of his career (101 starts) but still posted his best finish. Grade: A+ 12. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Despite being collected in Tony Stewart 's wreck on Lap 149, Mears recovered for his best finish since finishing 11th in last year's Coke Zero 400 . Grade: A 13. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger restarted 10th on Lap 155 and was running ninth when Kyle Larson and Clint Bowyer came together, pinching Allmendinger high and he brushed the wall. That could have been disaster. Instead he cut his deficit to 16th place from 20 points to 12. Grade: A 14. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney was involved in the incidents that brought out the final two cautions but prevailed to post his best finish in three starts at Daytona. Grade: A- 15. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . One day after winning the Xfinity Series race, Almirola gets his best Cup finish since the second week of the season. Grade: A 16. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Yet another driver to post his best finish of the season. Grade: A 17. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin was penalized for driving through too many pit boxes on the last caution, costing him a better finish. Grade: B- 18. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman's car sustained damage in the Big One on Lap 90, but his crew fixed the nose of the No. 31 and Newman increased his cushion over 17th place to 26 points despite dropping a spot to 14th in the standings. Grade: B 19. David Gilliland , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland avoided trouble and has now finished 17th (Talladega) and 19th in his only two starts of the season. Grade: A 20. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett was one of 22 drivers officially caught up in the big wreck. He also was one of the drivers to post his best finish of the season. Grade: A 21. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt sustained damage in the big wreck but survived and just missed the Carl Edwards wreck on Lap 155. Despite that good fortune, he was not happy with his car. We can't print what said about it over the radio. You'll have to trust us on this one. Grade: C 22. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. A familiar refrain: Sorenson posted his best finish of the season. In fact, it's Sorenson's best finish since Talladega in October 2014 (14th). Grade: A 23. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Not that Busch would have caught Brad Keselowski , but he was running second when Joey Logano turned Busch as the field approached the finish line. Busch's 0-fer continues in restrictor plate races, but we give him some love on his grade. Grade: A 24. Bobby Labonte , No. 32 Ford, GO FAS Racing . Labonte was in line for an even better finish until he was collected in Carl Edwards ' crash on Lap 155. Grade: B 25. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards checked up when AJ Allmendinger touched the wall on Lap 155. Unfortunately Ryan Blaney couldn't do the same and Edwards was turned into the wall. His eight laps led were third most in the race. Grade: B- 26. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . By design, Stewart ran in the back for most of the race and looked golden as he totally avoided the big wreck -- he was running 34th -- and found himself running sixth on Lap 149 and staring at a big points jump in the standings. Instead, he got loose in Turn 1, overcorrected and smacked the wall, ending his day. "Definitely my fault," he said after the race. Still, because of the big wreck, he could finish no worse than 26th. And a 26th-place finish with a DNF was a gift. Grade: C 27. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Danica was caught up in the big wreck but returned to the track and finished 31 laps back. Grade: C 28. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Temptation got the better of Kenseth on Saturday night. A bad pit stop put the No. 20 in the back of the field, and he said that should have been a sign to stay back there. But when it appeared the racing had "settled down," temptation wooed him forward. Right into the jaws of the Big One. Kenseth returned to the track and finished 34 laps back. Grade: C- 29. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Truex also sustained damage in the Big One, and like his Toyota brethren Matt Kenseth , also returned to the track and finished 34 laps back. Grade: C 30. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The Big One made Kahne a big loser. He went from 16th in the standings, with a three-point cushion over Ryan Blaney , to 18th in the standings, nine points behind 16th-place Jamie McMurray . It could have been worse, but the No. 5 team worked hard to get Kahne back on the track. Grade: C 31. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . An early electrical issue cost Cassill 42 laps in the garage, but to the team's credit the car returned to the track and Cassill finished 31st rather than 40th. Grade: C- 32. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The rookie is now 2-for-2 at Daytona. Two races, two wrecks. This one wasn't his fault. The Big One did him in. Grade: C 33. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto also was collected in the Big One. He returned to the track and avoided a fifth DNF in his past eight starts. Grade: C 34. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . McMurray was at the epicenter of the Big One. He was running eighth when he came down the track and made just enough contact with the side of teammate Kyle Larson 's No. 42 to cut his left tire. McMurray said that caused him to lose control of his car. Jimmie Johnson then tapped McMurray from behind, and just like that, half the field was in pieces. Grade: D 35. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . If you're not skipping around, you just read Jamie McMurray and know what happened to Johnson. Saturday's race was Jimmie's second DNF 35th-place finish in the past four races (Pocono). Grade: C- 36. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Three words: The Big One. Grade: C 37. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott had the wildest ride of drivers caught up in the big wreck. His car ended up atop Kevin Harvick 's Chevrolet. Grade: C 38. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Three words: See Paul Menard . Grade: C 39. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick spent a lot of time running in the back, looking to avoid the Big One. Turned out he didn't stay back there long enough. Grade: C 40. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Buescher has three DNFs this season -- in each of the three restrictor-plate races. Grade: C
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.
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).