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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
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 9 of the 2016 season at Richmond International Raceway Pos Owner Car # Points Ldr Nxt PPos G/L Attempts 1 Joe Gibbs Racing 19 331 0 -- 2 1 9 2 Stewart-Haas Racing 4 324 -7 -7 1 -1 9 3 Hendrick Motorsports 48 310 -21 -14 3 0 9 4 Joe Gibbs Racing 18 302 -29 -8 5 1 9 5 Team Penske 22 299 -32 -3 4 -1 9 6 Stewart-Haas Racing 41 279 -52 -20 7 1 9 7 Hendrick Motorsports 88 278 -53 -1 6 -1 9 8 Joe Gibbs Racing 11 258 -73 -20 9 1 9 9 Team Penske 2 255 -76 -3 8 -1 9 10 Furniture Row Racing 78 246 -85 -9 10 0 9 11 Hendrick Motorsports 24 234 -97 -12 12 1 9 12 Richard Childress Racing 3 234 -97 0 11 -1 9 13 Chip Ganassi Racing 1 224 -107 -10 13 0 9 14 Hendrick Motorsports 5 222 -109 -2 15 1 9 15 Joe Gibbs Racing 20 212 -119 -10 18 3 9 16 Richard Childress Racing 31 205 -126 -7 16 0 9 17 JTG Daugherty Racing 47 204 -127 -1 14 -3 9 18 Roush Fenway Racing 6 196 -135 -8 20 2 9 19 Roush Fenway Racing 17 193 -138 -3 17 -2 9 20 Wood Brothers Racing 21 187 -144 -6 19 -1 9 21 Richard Childress Racing 27 186 -145 -1 21 0 9 22 Chip Ganassi Racing 42 184 -147 -2 22 0 9 23 Stewart-Haas Racing 14 174 -157 -10 23 0 9 24 Roush Fenway Racing 16 167 -164 -7 25 1 9 25 Richard Petty Motorsports 43 165 -166 -2 24 -1 9 26 Stewart-Haas Racing 10 148 -183 -17 26 0 9 27 Germain Racing 13 141 -190 -7 27 0 9 28 Front Row Motorsports 38 140 -191 -1 28 0 9 29 BK Racing 83 134 -197 -6 30 1 9 30 Richard Petty Motorsports 44 131 -200 -3 29 -1 9 31 HScott Motorsports 15 126 -205 -5 31 0 9 32 Tommy Baldwin Racing 7 118 -213 -8 32 0 9 33 BK Racing 23 116 -215 -2 34 1 9 34 Circle Sport-Leavine Family 95 111 -220 -5 33 -1 9 35 Front Row Motorsports 34 97 -234 -14 35 0 9 36 HScott Motorsports 46 87 -244 -10 36 0 9 37 Premium Motorsports 98 62 -269 -25 37 0 9 38 GO FAS Racing 32 61 -270 -1 38 0 9 39 The Motorsports Group 30 34 -297 -27 39 0 9 40 Circle Sport - Leavine Family 59 26 -305 -8 40 0 1 41 Premium Motorsports 55 11 -320 -15 41 0 4 42 BK Racing 93 5 -326 -6 43 1 2 43 BK Racing 26 3 -328 -2 42 -1 1 44 Front Row Motorsports 35 0 -331 -3 44 0 1 45 Hillman Racing 40 0 -331 0 45 0 1
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
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).
The Rundown: Texas driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings " Chase Grid Below is a breakdown of how the 40-car field fared at Texas Motor Speedway . 1. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Can anyone stop the 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion? Busch didn't dominate the entire race in Texas, but leapt to the lead when it counted -- on the final restart with 33 laps remaining -- and stayed there until the checkered flag. He's won the last four national series races and seems unbeatable right now. Grade: A+ 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Junior is still lacking his first win of the season, but by passing Joey Logano with eight laps remaining and overcoming a brief pit stall fire, he earned his second runner-up finish. All that talk this week of bananas and mayonnaise didn't deter from a strong showing for a car that started 16th. Grade: A 3. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Despite starting on the front row, Logano still is searching for his first win of the season. He was solidly in the top 10 throughout most of the race, slipping to as low as 14th just before the midpoint. But he jumped from 10th on Lap 200 to sixth on a restart on Lap 220 and stayed near the front for his sixth top-five finish at Texas Motor Speedway . Grade: A- 4. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson couldn't extend his Texas winning streak to four straight races, but the fact he was able to rebound from his involvement in a 13-car crash on Lap 293 and a pit-road collision with Kyle Busch on Lap 31 showed that he's still a threat in any race. Grade: A 5. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The rookie started at the rear when he changed his transmission, but still managed his best finish of the season -- and his first top-five result in the Cup series. His decision to take four tires on the final pit stop was the difference in helping him surge into the top five. Grade: A 6. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Truex consistently had the fastest car all weekend in Texas, and led a race-high 141 laps. But the decision to stay out on four old tires -- when all other leaders pitted in the final two cautions -- pushed him back from the lead in the final 33 laps. Grade: B- 7. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The pole-sitter led 124 laps, but a loose wheel on the Lap 221 restart forced him to pit, and he never fully recovered. Still, it was Edwards' sixth top-10 finish in seven races this season. Grade: B+ 8. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . A car that has struggled all season found some late-race magic. First, Kahne was the lucky-dog beneficiary on a Lap 277 caution, then he made contact with Greg Biffle on Lap 287, which sent the No. 16 car into the wall but helped Kahne surge into the top 10 for the final restart. Grade: B+ 9. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch was without crew chief Tony Gibson for all but race day in Texas as Gibson was tending to his ill wife, and the No. 41 car struggled to find the right combination. Busch said he was loose all through practices but tight during the race. A solid final restart helped him grab his fifth top-10 finish of the season. Grade: B 10. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick is now 0-for-27 in Cup at Texas, one of the few tracks that vexes the dominant driver. This time, he had to rebound from a speeding and tire violation on Lap 217 just to make his way into the top 10. Grade: B- 11. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth's bad-luck streak continued this season. He led 20 laps, including from Lap 217-235, but a problem with a loose rear tire forced an unscheduled pit stop that knocked him out of the top 10. Grade: B- 12. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin started sixth, and made it to as high as third late in the race but slipped outside the top 10 in the final 20 laps. Grade: C+ 13. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray started 18th and worked his way up to fifth mid-race. In the end, he logged his second top-15 showing of the season. Grade: C+ 14. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson steadily worked his way up throughout the race, starting 20th and eventually finding himself in the top 15 by Lap 300. Grade: B- 15. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne led for 12 laps -- the first time he's led a race since May 4, 2014 at Talladega. He was involved in the 13-car wreck on Lap 293, however, and the best he could manage was 15th. Grade: B- 16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse equaled his best start of the season in rolling off the grid fifth but had slipped to 13th by Lap 180. He, too, was involved in the late-race wreck, which pushed him outside the top 15. Grade: C+ 17. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Another car involved in the late-race wreck, Newman had been just fair to middling throughout the race. In the end, he finished just two places higher than he started. Grade: C 18. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . He started eighth, but Keselowski had an unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel on Lap 128, and said some of the things the No. 2 team tried in preparation for the Chase race in the fall didn't work. Grade: C- 19. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Driving on worn tires, Dillon was clipped by Jimmie Johnson and spun into traffic to cause the 13-car wreck on Lap 293. After starting 10th, he had reached as high as second but was lucky to finish 19th. Grade: C- 20. Ty Dillon , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . Dillon worked his way up from starting 30th, to log his greatest place differential in four Cup races this season. Grade: C- 21. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . One race after her best finish of the season (16th in Martinsville), Patrick couldn't improve much from her 26th-place start. Grade: C- 22. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger couldn't find any of the moxie that helped him finish second in Martinsville, starting the day 23rd, hovering around 23rd to 26th for most of the race before pushing to 22nd at the finish. Grade: C- 23. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears equaled his worst starting position of the season (32nd) and worked his way up to 21st by Lap 240 but couldn't get over the hump to improve further. Grade: C 24. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . A roller coaster season continued for Almirola as he dropped to as low as 35th and as high as 10th before finishing exactly where he began. Grade: C 25. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Cassill said he couldn't figure out the right adjustments to make on his No. 38 Ford until the end of the race -- when it mattered most. He jumped from 33rd on Lap 260 to finish 25th. Grade: C 26. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . One of the 13 cars involved in the Lap 293 wreck, Menard logged his second-worst finish of the season -- after his second-worst start of the season. Grade: D+ 27. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Another car involved in the big late-race wreck, ended up finishing exactly where he began the race. Grade: C- 28. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Buescher had his second-best finish of the season, and improved six places on his start. Grade: C- 29. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . The rookie started seventh, but had to pit twice under green for reports of vibration. The No. 21 Ford never could figure out a solution, and slipped all the way to 29th. Grade: C- 30. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Starting 37th, Whitt improved little by little throughout the race until he finished 30th. Grade: C- 31. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Another car involved in the Lap 293 wreck, Smith had been running around 24th until the incident. Grade: C- 32. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Yet another car involved in the 13-car wreck near the end, Annett still managed to finish three places higher than he began. Grade: C 33. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan was dinged in the late-race wreck, and his finish was his worst of the season. Grade: D+ 34. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . The No. 83 Toyota had shown improvement from Daytona, but took a step back after starting 29th in Texas. Grade: D+ 35. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . In his fourth Cup race of the season, Earnhardt simply couldn't make up much ground after starting 38th. Grade: D 36. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Starting 40th for the second straight week, Sorenson managed to improve on his finish by one spot over last week. Grade: D. 37. Brian Vickers , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . A long day for Vickers began on a pit stop on Lap 110 when his brakes locked up as he attempted to avoid hitting Clint Bowyer . His car never felt right, and his day ended when he was involved in the Lap 293 wreck. Grade: D. 38. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer's subpar year continued, and his involvement in the 13-car wreck ended his day. His 38th was his worst finish of the season. Grade: D- 39. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle started 14th, but the contact with Kasey Kahne sent him careening into the wall for his worst finish of the season. Grade: D- 4 0. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise slammed into the Turn 3 wall on Lap 212 and finished 40th for the first time this season. Grade: D-
The Rundown: Fontana driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings " Chase Grid Below is a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared at Auto Club Speedway : 1. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . "Superman" had his cape tugged on throughout the day, but when it mattered most, the six-time champion took the lead from Kevin Harvick late to earn his 77th career win and surpass Dale Earnhardt on the all-time win list. Grade: A+ 2. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Despite an unscheduled stop on Lap 71, Harvick had the best car in the field and led a race-high 142 laps. As the race was pushed into overtime, Harvick could not keep "Superman" Jimmie Johnson at bay. Grade: A+ 3. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin was hit with two pit road penalties, had issues with his radio, but overcame it all. As the race entered overtime, Hamlin restarted in the lead on the outside lane, but did not get a great push on the green. As the action spanned out, Hamlin slipped to third. Grade: A- 4. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano led the way for Team Penske and quietly worked his way to the lead with 37 laps to go in the scheduled 200-lap event. He had a close call with Martin Truex Jr ., causing damage to the No. 78 and leading to words with Truex after the race. Grade: A- 5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . After being fast on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the first four weeks, Stenhouse and the crew finally put it together on Sunday. Stenhouse earned his first top-five finish in almost a year. Grade: A+ 6. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Another impressive outing for the rookie driver, as he was a factor at the front of the field for the majority of the afternoon. Grade: A 7. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Running toward the front of the field for much of the day, Edwards was hit with a pit road speeding penalty under the fourth caution. Edwards was a contender late in the going, but faded with worn tires in the final 10 laps. Grade: B+ 8. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . 'Dinger started 11th and was inside the top 10 early on, but had an unscheduled stop on Lap 72. Along with Harvick, this put him on a different sequence than the leaders. He recovered for his first top 10 of the season. Grade: A- 9. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . The Paul Wolfe-led team had a tire violation on the second caution of the day, but Keselowski rebounded to finish inside the top 10. Grade: B+ 10. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates . McMurray had a solid weekend all around, starting 10th, finishing 10th and earning his best finish of the year. Grade: A 11. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The "Dark Knight" ran into adversity early after contact with Kurt Busch . Earnhardt fell to 27th before the 15th lap of the race. He got back on the lead lap with the free pass on Lap 156 and worked his way almost back to the top 10. Grade: B+ 12. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . The RPM driver had a strong day after recovering from going a lap down early. Scott and the team never gave up and knocked on the door of the top 10. Grade: B+ 13. Brian Vickers , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . On Lap 25, Vickers caught the outside wall and was forced to pit road with damage. He was able to recover and earn a top-15 finish. Grade: B+ 14. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . The crew worked on the handling of the No. 31 car throughout the race, but went the wrong direction on the final stop of the day after running in the top 10. Grade: B 15. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard was too fast exiting pit road on Lap 84 and went a lap down. He took the wave around to get back on the lead lap and climbed back to 15th. Grade: B- 16. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Earning his best finish of the season, Cassill worked his way up from the 34th starting spot and nearly finished inside the top 15. Grade: B+ 17. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . A spark on the left rear tire caused a fire on the No. 13 during the fourth caution of the day, but no one was injured. The team recovered and earned its second top 20 of the season. Grade: B- 18. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Running in the top 25, Bowyer had a flat left rear under the third yellow of the day. In addition, the team was over the wall too soon dropping him to 28th on the restart on Lap 115. Still, after a rough start to 2016, Bowyer earned his best finish of the year. Grade: C+ 19. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . One of the best cars in the field early, Kenseth was in the top five and contending for the lead by Lap 60. However, Kenseth's day came apart on pit road with a speeding penalty and another penalty for an uncontrolled tire. Grade: C 20. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne hit the wall a few times and rode the blue SAFER barrier to bring out the caution at Lap 108. Grade: C 21. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola admitted Sunday's finish was "disappointing," as they fought the handling of the car much of the day. Grade: C 22. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . After starting 35th, Ragan went a lap down, but took the wave around to get back on the lead lap by the end of the day. Grade: C+ 23. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith narrowly avoided Danica Patrick ’s wildly spinning car, which would have been disastrous for the Tommy Baldwin Racing driver. Grade: C 24. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . After starting on the pole and winning the XFINITY Series race in dramatic fashion, Dillon had a lackluster day in the No. 3 Chevrolet. Grade: C- 25. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Coming off a rough finish to the day on Saturday, Busch hit pit road early on Lap 20 with a vibration after contact with the wall. He fell to 35th, one lap down, but recovered to contend for the win late. Chasing Harvick for the lead, Busch lost a tire and hit the outside wall on Lap 199 and heavily damaged the car. Grade: B- 26. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports . Whitt started 36th, but moved up throughout the day to earn the best finish of his season so far. Grade: C+ 27. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . A penalty for removing equipment brought DiBenedetto back to pit road under green. He later bounced the car off the wall. Grade: C- 28. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . A melted bead on the left rear brought Kahne to pit road early and put him a lap down. He was also called to the NASCAR hauler after the race for his contact with Danica Patrick . Grade: F 29. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Starting 38th, Annett took the wave around to get back on the lead lap and climbed to 29th by the time the checked flag flew. Grade: C 30. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . In a backup car after hitting the wall in practice, Busch suffered damage early after contact with Dale Jr., fell to 36th and pitted on Lap 17 with smoke in the car. A rough weekend for the No. 41 bunch. Grade: C 31. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell finished one spot ahead of where he started and was the last car on the lead lap. Grade: C 32. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Truex had one of the strongest cars all day, but as his tires went away with 50 laps to go he had a close call with Joey Logano , which put the No. 78 into the wall. Truex was also hit with a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 154. Grade: B- 33. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Buescher got into the wall early and damaged the right side of the car, which was disappointing after starting 16th. Grade: C- 34. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . Earnhardt started shotgun on the field and finished five laps down, but still made gains on the day. Grade: C- 35. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . After an appearance on "American Idol," Blaney ran in the top 10 early, but faded into the top 20 in the closing stages of the race. He caught the wall with late and ended the West Coast swing on a sour note. Grade: C- 36. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise gained one spot on the day, but that was in large part to the troubles of others ahead of him. Grade: D. 37. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . With less than 70 laps to go, the motor began to go sour on Biffle’s car. He brought the car to the garage with just over 50 laps to go. Grade: D 38. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick was running 18th when she was hit from the right rear by Kasey Kahne . Her car made hard contact with the outside wall, bringing out the fourth caution of the day. Grade: B 39. Kyle Larson , No 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. After struggling with the handling, the left rear tire went down and Larson took a wild ride that ended in a head-on hit hard into the inside wall, lifting the car into the air. Thankfully for the SAFER barrier, Larson walked away unharmed. Grade: C MORE: Larson goes on wild ride