Post-Race Reactions: Good Sam Club 200
Clint Bowyer, Blake Feese, Kyle Busch, James Buescher and Ryan Newman comment on their Atlanta finishes.
Final Laps: Hornaday holds on in Atlanta
Ron Hornaday uses pit strategy to hold off a hard-charging Clint Bowyer and win the Good Sam Club 200 .
Victory Lane: Ron Hornaday
Ron Hornaday celebrates his 49th career NCWTS victory after the Good Sam Club 200 .
Stewart settling in among Ford ownership greats Penske, Roush
RELATED: Daytona 500 quick info DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Wearing eyeglasses, a black shirt with the Stewart-Haas Racing logo and black jeans, Tony Stewart very calmly sat on the stage alongside Ford executive Raj Nair and fellow Ford owners Roger Penske and Jack Roush ready to address reporters about the upcoming NASCAR season. It's a new gig for the newly retired three-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion -- new in his role solely as team owner at the track and also new in representing Ford's blue oval. Ironically, it was the legendary Penske who cut up first, reminding Stewart he was in the wrong color attire -- black for his team instead of white for Ford. "We'll get him in gear here before long," Penske joked. "My white one (shirt) may be too big, though.’’ Stewart grinned and insisted he had "no answer" for the tease. Roush took a good -natured shot at Stewart a few minutes later -- a welcome-to-the- club rite of passage. The popular driving champion, however, smiled a lot and looked absolutely comfortable answering questions on stage as an owner only for the first time in 18 years of full-time NASCAR competition. RELATED: Stewart's career highlights "To be honest, it's kind of nice," Stewart said, smiling at his more-narrowly defined role. "If I'm late to practice, nobody yells at me. If I leave practice early, nobody yells at me. And if I don't show up for practice at all, nobody yells at me. That side has been kind of nice. Really, the only drama I've had so far is Roger picking on me about the color of shirt I wear." In fact, after Stewart answered questions on stage alongside his fellow Ford owners, he lingered in the media room for nearly an hour doing one-on-one interviews and just generally catching up with reporters. It all had a first day of school feel to it. Stewart was optimistic about his four-car team's chances in Sunday's Daytona 500, particularly noting the promise and enthusiasm he sees in Clint Bowyer taking over the No. 14 Mobil 1 Ford for Stewart. RELATED: Go Behind the Wall with Bowyer as he preps for Daytona A Ford driven by Penske driver Joey Logano won The Clash exhibition race last weekend. Kevin Harvick and Bowyer will start alongside one another in the 500 on the third row and Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch will start on row four. Roush's Trevor Bayne will line up next to Danica Patrick on row six. "We'll need to check about halfway through the race and see how happy they are, but up to this point, they're really really excited," Stewart said. "Kevin, Kurt, Clint and Danica, they've all been really happy and pleased with what we've got this year. "Working with Jack's team and Roger's team, it's good to have some good allies out there on race day and I think we've already seen with Roger's bunch how good that relationship is working out so far on the race track. "So we're looking forward to a great weekend." RELATED: All of Stewart's career Monster Energy Series wins &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
At place of peace, Dale Jr. still 'craves' racing
DAYTONA 500 : Starting lineup " Race-day schedule " Key info RELATED: Junior fulfilled with his career numbers DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- He tested at Phoenix earlier this year, qualified on the outside of the front row for Sunday's Daytona 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and on Thursday he led the bulk of his Can-Am Duel qualifying race before finishing fifth. Dale Earnhardt Jr . is officially back. Today marks his return to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , and no one is more pleased about it than the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports . "I really had fun," Earnhardt said Thursday evening after a strong return at a track where he's typically one of a handful of drivers expected to run well. "I hated to lose but still we have to be aware of how far we've come to get back here. To go out there and lead all those laps and be able to make some good smart moves, it felt great." The road back has been a long one for the 42-year-old Earnhardt, who missed the final 18 races of 2016 while recovering from a concussion. It marked the second time he had been sidelined by such an injury, and he admitted there were times he questioned what his racing future held. RELATED: Junior emerges from injury stronger, centered and ready to win "There was a lot of time during the recovery where there were days I was 90 percent sure I wasn't going to drive again," he said. "There were days when it was 50 percent. It was just moving all over the place depending on what I felt that day. Your recovery is up and down, you have good days and bad days. … "When it came down to it, I had to decide for myself if I wanted to drive anymore. I'm not going to race because of any other reason than I want to be out there." Earnhardt will roll off second alongside Elliott, the pole winner, for the 59th running of the Daytona 500. He is a two-time winner of the "Great American Race" and one of the favorites based on past success and this year's efforts thus far. RELATED: Chronicling Junior's return to racing " Dale Jr. in the 500 Restrictor-plate races are breeding grounds for multi-car crashes, with cars running two-, three- and sometimes four-wide, a dozen or more rows deep at 200 -plus mph. Earnhardt doesn't dwell on the possibility of another accident and what might result. "I don't want to wreck to sort of quantify my recovery," he said. "I think should that happen and I come out the other side of it feeling great, that will add a ton of confidence. I can't sit here and say that I know exactly how I'm going to react in those situations with confidence. So yeah, when I go through that process, there's a box or two to check that aren't checked yet." Three-time series champion Tony Stewart hung up his NASCAR uniform at the end of the '16 season. Two of Stewart's final four years driving for Stewart-Haas Racing were cut short due to injuries the Columbus, Indiana, native suffered in non-NASCAR events. But there was no apprehension about climbing back in the car following lengthy recovery periods, he said. "Never. It was more excitement to get back because you have to remember, we're drivers," Stewart, the winner of 49 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, said. "That's what we want to do, drive. "When you have an injury, all it is is a pain in the ass. It's keeping you from doing what you want to do. That's why you heard so many drivers praise Junior last year (when) he chose not to run. And that's hard." Fellow driver Martin Truex Jr . has a close relationship with Earnhardt -- the two were teammates from 2004-07 at Dale Earnhardt Inc. and spend time away from the track each fall on hunting trips. "I know he's got a lot on his shoulders," Truex said. "A lot of people put a lot of pressure on him, obviously. I think in a lot of ways he sometimes feels like he needs to be here for other people. But hopefully he made the decision based on what's best for him. I think he did. I know he's excited about racing still. He obviously still loves it and wants to do it and hopefully things will all work out for him." It has been 20 races since Earnhardt won his last race and just five -- due to his shortened '16 season -- since his last top five. Sunday affords the opportunity to reset both those streaks. After that? He's yet to win a championship at NASCAR's top level, but has finished as high as third. And, yes, he did say if he wins the title in '17 "it would be hard to not call it a career." RELATED: Earnhardt Jr. would consider walking away as champion He has a new outlook and seems to be at peace with the road he's traveled. For the longest time, he said "I let racing be who I was instead of what I did. "Like Richard Petty said, I've got a whole other life beyond driving and I really believe that," Earnhardt said. "I've got a lot of things I'd love to do. Even outside of having a family, there are a lot of things in business that I'd love to see if I could succeed at. I think we got a glimpse of what that would be like; it looks pretty awesome." For now, though, the Daytona 500 and another season of crisscrossing the country await. And Earnhardt is more than OK with that. "Like I said, I crave to drive the car," he said. "I love the position I'm in with the team I'm with, (crew chief) Greg (Ives) and the guys, and until that feeling … and that 'want' to be there is gone, I want to keep going." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Bowyer: 'It feels good to be competitive again'
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- It wasn't quite the Daytona 500 pole position -- although for a while it looked like it might be -- but Clint Bowyer 's fourth-place qualifying effort Sunday afternoon on the Daytona International Speedway high banks was a huge confidence boost for him and for his Stewart-Haas Racing team. Bowyer took over the No. 14 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for retired great Tony Stewart this season and his first official outing in the car Sunday certainly was noteworthy. And assuring. The 2012 Cup championship runner-up looked stout taking over driving duties for the three-time series champion Stewart -- and held the lead spot on the timing pylon for a good portion of the qualifying session before Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr . topped the mark. Even so, Bowyer was smiling and enthusiastic when qualifying closed. "It's a great effort, considering everything these guys have gone through all season long, switching manufacturers and everything that goes with that,’" Bowyer said of his SHR team. "It was right where they left off and we gained on it." Bowyer, who was signed by the Stewart-Haas organization in 2015 to replace the retiring Stewart, drove for HScott Motorsports last year while "on deck" for the seat. And he suffered through the worst season of his career with not a single top-five finish. The promising start in his first official outing for SHR was exactly the kind of beginning both Bowyer and his team could appreciate. "It's a nice first time out with him and more importantly, I think it's a big progression for Stewart-Haas," crew chief Mike Bugarewicz said. "It says a lot about this company and how hard everybody has worked -- our R&D group, everyone in the body shop, the aero engineers, everybody. "Having two cars in the top 12 (also seventh place Kevin Harvick ) we had a reasonable shot at it. We're happy. This team has been through a lot the past two years and now meeting up with Clint, we're excited and looking forward to working with him. I think we're going to have a lot of fun this year. "When the organization that's been working so hard, sees speed in the car, that's a good thing. And him climbing in for the first time … this gets him pumped up and everyone in the car excited and ready to go." Bowyer has four top-10 finishes in the Daytona 500 , including back-to-back fourth-place efforts in 2009-10. He says this restrictor-plate style of racing is something he said he looks forward to. This opportunity with SHR is something he's ready to seize. 'It's Daytona," Bowyer said of the importance of his efforts. "It feels good to be competitive again. I was down here last year and we were way off the pace. It was crushing because you know deep down you don't even have a chance and when you've got a car like this -- a hot rod like this and a team like this -- I've got a chance.’’ &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Full schedule for Atlanta
RELATED: See Atlanta races live Fresh off the season-opening races at Daytona, all three NASCAR Series will head to Atlanta Motor Speedway for a tripleheader. Check out the full weekend schedule below. Note: All times are ET FRIDAY, MARCH 3: ON TRACK -- 10-10:55 a.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 11-11:55 a.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- noon-1:25 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 1:30-2:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 2:30-3:25 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 3:30-4:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 4:30-5:25 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 5:45 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 ( Follow live ) SATURDAY, MARCH 4: ON TRACK -- 9:15 a.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 10:40 a.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- noon-1:20 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 2 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Rinnai 250 (163 laps, 251.02 miles), FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 4:30 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Active Pest Control 200 (130 laps, 200 .02 miles), FS1 ( Follow live ) SUNDAY, MARCH 5: ON TRACK -- 2:30 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (325 laps, 500.05 miles), FOX ( Follow live )
Snapshot: Daytona 500
RELATED: NASCAR 101: Format fast facts " Complete starting lineup At a Glanc e Where: Daytona International Speedway , 2.5-mile tri-oval in Daytona Green flag: 2:30 p.m. ET Stage lengths: Stage 1 ends on Lap 60, Stage 2 ends on Lap 120, Stage 3/race slated to end on Lap 200 TV/Radio: FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Forecast: Sunny with a high temperature of 68 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. North-northeast winds of 10 to 15 mph, with gusts up to 20 mph National anthem: Jordin Sparks, starring in "God Bless the Broken Road," DAV Ambassador Grand Marshal: Actor Owen Wilson Race distance: 200 laps, 500 miles Pit road speed: 55 mph Caution car speed: 70 mph &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
FAQ for NASCAR's 2017 race format enhancements
RELATED: Full coverage of announcement " Official NASCAR press release Editor's note: Stage 1 for the Daytona 500 will end on Lap 60, Stage 2 will end on Lap 120 and Stage 3/race conclusion is slated to end on Lap 200 . NASCAR's race enhancements announced Monday detailed how and why races will be run in stages in 2017. Below are answers to some of the potential questions. How many stages are in a race? Three -- Stage 1, Stage 2 and the Final Stage. Stage 1 and Stage 2 will reward drivers who are leading, or in the top 10, at the conclusion of each stage. The Final Stage will determine the race winner. What is Stage 1? The green flag begins the race, and therefore Stage 1. Its length is approximately 25-30 percent of the event's total length -- it is different for each race, dependent on track size and race length -- with the ending marked via a stage checkered flag (the stage can end under caution, if necessary). Who benefits most? Drivers who are running first through 10th at the conclusion of Stage 1 will receive stage bonus points, starting with 10 points for first place, nine points for second place, down to one point for 10th place. Additionally, the driver who finishes Stage 1 first will receive one playoff point to carry into the postseason, should that driver qualify. Those can add up quickly over the course of a season. What about Stage 2? At the conclusion of Stage 1, there is a caution period for drivers to come down pit road (innovative strategies will be crucial under these enhancements.) Stage 2 will then begin with a drop of the green flag for the restart. Its length is approximately 25-30 percent of the event's total length -- it is different for each race, dependent on track size and race length -- with the ending marked via a stage checkered flag (the stage can end under caution, if necessary). What about Stage 2 bonus points? Same as Stage 1: Drivers who are running first through 10th at the conclusion of Stage 2 will receive stage bonus points, starting with 10 points for first place, nine points for second place, down to one point for 10th place. Additionally, the driver who finishes Stage 2 first will receive one playoff point to carry into the postseason. What about the final stage? Following another caution period, which gives fans another natural break in the action, the final stage begins with another green flag drop and restart. Drivers then race for the event win ... and the five bonus points that come with it. How are points distributed? The final stage produces the race results, so the end of the final stage is the end of the race. Whoever crosses the start/finish line first at the checkered flag is the race winner. Race points are then awarded to the entire field based on finishing order. The winner receives 40 points. Second place receives 35 points, third place receives 34 points, fourth place receives 33 points ... down to one point for drivers who finish 36th-40th. The maximum points a driver can earn in a race is 60 (40 for the race win plus 20 points for winning both stages). There no longer will be a bonus point for leading a lap, or a bonus point for leading the most laps. And the winner? The race winner receives five bonus points toward the postseason (this is up from three last year under the new enhancements), plus postseason eligibility. If a driver leads at the end of both Stage 1 and Stage 2, and then wins the race, then he or she would receive seven bonus points to carry into the postseason. For which series were these enhancements designed? The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , the NASCAR XFINITY Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will all use this enhanced format. By rewarding hard racing through the duration of the season, will there be an official regular-season champion? Yes, there formally will be a regular-season champion. That driver will earn 15 additional playoff points to carry into the postseason. Any more bonus points for points standings at the end of the regular season? Yes. In addition to the regular-season champion, drivers who finish in the top 10 of the regular season all receive some measure of playoff points to take into the postseason. Here's the breakdown: First place in regular season points earns a driver 15 playoff bonus points in addition to the points earned with race or stage wins; second place earns 10 playoff points; third place, 8; fourth place, 7; fifth place, 6; sixth place, 5; seventh place, 4; eighth place, 3; ninth place, 2; 10th place, 1. In this enhanced format, when is a race official? At the conclusion of Stage 2. How does the postseason work? Once the postseason begins, points will be reset to 2,000 for the opening round, with each driver's accrued bonus points tacked onto that total. Four drivers still will be eliminated in each round of the postseason, setting up a final four in Miami for all three national series. What is the tweak for playoff points? Playoff points earned for race wins or for leading at the end of Stage 1 or Stage 2 now will carry over round-by-round if a driver continues advancing. It's not just for the first round any more. Additionally, drivers can build off and add to those bonus points. So if a driver has 70 playoff points heading into the postseason, and then wins the playoff opener (five-point bonus), he or she would advance to the next round and carry 75 additional points -- or more, depending on his or her results over the next two races in the round. Does winning a race in the postseason still automatically qualify that driver for the next round, regardless of points? Yes. Winning trumps all. Will bonus points still carry over to Miami? No. Miami is the exception. All four drivers competing for the championship will start with the same amount of points. There will be no bonus points for this race for those final four drivers. First to the line wins the title.
Larson disappointed with finish, satisfied he 'could pass cars'
RELATED: Race results " Standings " Detailed breakdown DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Kyle Larson could only shrug his shoulders and muster a smile standing on the far end of pit road following a heart-breakingly close effort at winning the Daytona 500 on Sunday. His No. 42 Target Chevrolet led Lap 199 of the 200 -lap race but he ran out of gas on the final half circuit, gliding around to finish 12th in NASCAR's "Great American Race." The 24-year-old Californian was both disappointed not to collect the trophy, but also quite encouraged to have run so well on his sport's biggest stage. "We had pitted on our window and thought I had saved enough (fuel)," Larson said. "We got single file there at the end but I knew we had to make a move and I had my fingers crossed I had saved enough. But we were half a lap short and lost the race. "Disappointing way to lose the 500, but satisfying to know we could pass cars and get to the lead and have fun. I tried my best to stay out of trouble and almost had a shot to win." Larson's Ganassi team looked strong leading into the sport's biggest race. His teammate Jamie McMurray was runner-up in Thursday's first Duel qualifier and he ran up front for significant time Sunday, too -- leading 13 laps and earning four points for his Stage 1 effort. He ultimately was caught up in a multicar accident on Lap 142 and finished 28th. Larson also picked up points in both stages -- enough to put him one point below fourth-place Daytona 500 finisher Aric Almirola in the overall standings at seventh. Larson earned five points for finishing sixth in Stage 1, and four points for finishing seventh in Stage 2. It shows great progress -- and promise -- at Daytona International Speedway giving him three straight top-12 showings. He was seventh in last year's Daytona 500 and sixth in the summer's Coke Zero 400 -- after finishing 34th or worse in his first four Cup starts at the track.
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