Racing inside the box: Officiating pit road entry at various tracks
NASCAR.com's Chris Rice explains how NASCAR officiates pit road entry with commitment cones, and at a few tracks, commitment boxes to keep competitors safe entering pit road .
Humpe back on track at Richmond
Defending NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series champion Kenny Humpe ( The TEAM ) found the winner's circle for the first time in 2016, taking the checkered flag at Richmond International Raceway after leading a race-high 88 of 200 laps. Humpe comfortably held-off Allen Boes ( Deadzone ) by 2.8 seconds, while Boes narrowly beat Ray Alfalla ( Slip Angle Motorsports ) for second. Corey Vincent followed the pair in fourth, 4.4 seconds behind the winner, with Matt Bussa rounding-out the top five. Humpe started from the outside of the front row and took the lead from pole sitter Nick Ottinger on Lap 26, shortly after the second caution flag of the race. He continued to lead until Lap 83 when the field headed to pit road for service under caution. Alfalla and Cody Byus had better pit stops than Humpe, relegating him to third on the restart. After the race went back to green Humpe struggled to close on Alfalla and Byus and, instead, settled into third spot. However, as the run wore on Humpe began gaining on Byus and finally passed him on Lap 138. Alfalla had begun to slow by this point and Humpe made his move for the lead on Lap 145 and nearly had a race-ending moment. As the two raced side-by-side through Turn Three, Humpe suddenly decided to pit for tires but overshot pit entry and narrowly avoided the safety barrels protecting the end of pit wall. Although the mistake cost him time, Humpe kept his car in one piece and safely made it to pit road next time around while Alfalla waited another lap before making his final stop. That extra lap proved costly to Alfalla, as he re-entered the track behind Humpe in spite of the defending champion's botched pit entry a couple laps prior. Although Bussa and Boes were ahead of Humpe and Alfalla, Humpe had no trouble dispatching them. The pass on Bussa only put Humpe in eighth, but the seven cars in front of him had yet to make their final stops and were no match for Humpe on fresh tires. He took the lead for the final time on Lap 168 and never looked back. Unsurprisingly, track position was of the highest importance at Richmond as none of the top five finishers started lower than twelfth and none of the top ten worse than fifteenth. Several sim racers in the running for the championship encountered trouble at Richmond, including both of the Stergios siblings. Jake Stergios ( ineX Racing ) was caught up in a crash and finished thirty-eighth while brother PJ sustained damage of his own but was able to continue and salvage a fourteenth place result. Chris Overland also went laps down early but took wave-arounds to get back into contention, finishing a respectable tenth. PJ Stergios' issues enabled Alfalla to leave Richmond with a nine-point cushion at the top of the standings with Boes an additional ten points back. Jake Stergios slipped to fourth, 54 points back after his troubles. Humpe's victory vaulted him to fifth in a dead heat with Overland but, trailing Alfalla by 62 points, he will need more runs like his Richmond win to get himself back into contention. Week Seven takes the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series to Las Vegas Motor Speedway , the first of four consecutive 1.5 mile tracks on the sim racing schedule. Vegas should play-out similarly to the Week Five race at Texas, so look for the Stergios brothers and Alfalla to be at the front. Can Humpe go back-to-back or will Slip Angle and ineX continue their dominance at the downforce tracks? Find out in two weeks on iRacingLive .
Stergios outduels Alfalla in Texas
PJ Stergios (ineX Racing Team) became the first multiple-race winner in the 2016 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Powered by iRacing by passing Slip Angle Motorsports' Ray Alfalla for the lead with 15 laps to go at Texas Motor Speedway . The two were clearly the class of the field, leading a combined 148 of 167 laps, but Stergios got the best of Alfalla on the long run to the checkers. The battle for third came down to the wire with Nicholas Johnston (HPM) holding-off Jake Stergios by less than two-tenths of a second. Logan Clampitt, making his series debut, finished an impressive fifth. Stergios trailed Alfalla by around half a second after the two made their final pit stops under green but quickly closed to the leader's bumper in only a handful of laps. Stergios hounded the former series champion for nearly 20 laps, waiting for a rare mistake. His chance finally materialized when a lapped car on fresher tires passed Alfalla on the outside entering Turn Three. The pass forced Alfalla to compromise his entry, enabling Stergios to draw alongside down the front straightaway. The pair battled side-by-side for a couple of laps before Stergios cleared Alfalla and began pulling away. "The last stint was pretty crazy with guys on all sorts of different strategies, so well done by everyone for keeping it going for so long despite some very close moments," Stergios said. Alfalla took control of the race early on, needing just six laps to assume the lead from his outside pole grid position. However, the race was not without incident for Alfalla. On Lap 82 he brought his car to pit road for routine service and, since he pitted early in the window, found himself in heavy traffic after returning to the track. Not even a lap later, Dylan Duval got loose and slammed the wall off Turn 4, forcing Alfalla to dive to the grass in avoidance. Fortunately for Alfalla the off- road excursion did not damage his car, but a caution for another crash four laps later robbed him of valuable track position. While Alfalla had unlapped himself after his green-flag stop, having fresh tires was so critical he pitted again under the caution and restarted eleventh on Lap 92. Alfalla had little trouble with traffic and by Lap 126 he was already back in the runner-up spot behind Stergios. Knowing passing Stergios on track would prove difficult, Alfalla chose to pit a lap earlier than his rival. While that enabled Alfalla to take the lead, in the end he could not hold it. Stergios' win broke the tie with Alfalla atop the championship standings. Stergios now leads by three points over Alfalla as the two have begun distancing themselves from the rest of the field. Jake Stergios is third, 21 points back of his brother. He is followed closely by Allen Boes, who is only a single point back in fourth after an eighth place effort at Texas. Chris Overland still holds fifth despite finishing 37th in the Lone Star state, but he is now 58 points behind and just two in front of Andrew Fayash III, who is in the running for "biggest surprise" of the sim racing season thus far. Next up on the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series schedule are the tight confines of Richmond International Raceway . The .75-mile short track is the only venue on the schedule less than a mile in length and will force teams to build a much different setup than the last two races. With the 2016 season quickly turning into the PJ Stergios vs. Alfalla show at the front, can any other sim racers challenge their dominance? The uniqueness of Richmond may play into the field's hands but Stergios and Alfalla will be bringing their A-games to the virtual Virginia track -- as usual. Who will find their way to Victory Lane? Find out in two weeks on iRacingLive!
Cain: Edwards' move is what racing's all about
RELATED: Re-watch Edwards' bump-and-run from Richmond Carl Edwards was still smiling when he walked into the Richmond International Raceway media center to talk about his thrilling Sprint Cup Series win an hour earlier Sunday afternoon. He surveyed the room of reporters and had a little small talk with his crew chief Dave Rogers and team owner Joe Gibbs. Then, to his credit, he got right to it. "First off, if my cat ever gets sick, I don't care how much it costs, I will take it to the Banfield Pet Hospital if that helps," Edwards said allowing a wide smile after immediately plugging his teammate Kyle Busch 's race sponsor even before his own, XFINITY . Earlier, Edwards landed his trademark victory back flip after the checkered flag. But what happened on the white flag lap with Busch may require some additional cordial contortions as well. And that's OK. That's racing. The kind that pumps hearts and generates excitement. Edwards' bump-and-run pass -- importantly not bump-and-wreck -- of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Busch on the last lap of Sunday's race capped off an intriguing day of competition and amazingly marked the first time in the Richmond track's long and storied history that a race was won with a final-lap pass. The crowd was thrilled with the finish. The media was abuzz with the drama. And somewhere in heaven, Dale Earnhardt was having a good "attaboy" moment too. Lug nuts, schmug nuts. There was no talk of that Sunday afternoon. The week's earlier dramatic obsession with pit stops was completely overshadowed by what makes this sport so good : actual close and dramatic racing on track. And daring last lap passes as Edwards had just executed. It probably wouldn't have mattered if it were Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski , Greg Biffle versus Ricky Stenhouse Jr . or Jimmie Johnson blowing by Dale Earnhardt Jr . -- well, OK maybe on that one. It was good stuff. The reason people like this sport. So, while Edwards was grinning after the race, his JGR teammate Busch was understandably not, his Toyota having been carefully rearranged by Edwards last charge for a victory. Busch, clearly and understandably unhappy with his "adjusted" finish went into a bit of the NFL' s Marshawn Lynch mode in the media center afterward – repeating the same answer to all the questions about the last lap contact with Edwards. It was the second time in the season's nine races that team owner, Joe Gibbs has had to address this kind of situation -- which, if you think about it, isn't a super bad thing. Denny Hamlin 's win in the season-opening Daytona 500 came on a last lap blow by of JGR teammate Matt Kenseth . Gibbs was honest when asked about the team dynamics after such dramatic finishes between teammates. "It's a tough thing because it's certainly painful for one side," Gibbs said. "You're on such a high with the other side. It's tough. You kind of know what we'll do is kind of go to work and work our way through it." Edwards said he and Busch did not speak after the race, but also anticipated some discussion before this week's stop at Talladega Superspeedway , which interestingly enough so often relies on drafting "partners." "I wish it was anybody but my teammate that we had to race like that with,'" Edwards said. "Big picture to me, we both got wins (already) and we're both in the Chase and it’s fun to race your teammate for the win.'" Edwards' crew chief Dave Rogers -- who is also Busch's former crew chief -- was direct with his assessment. And he said what most race fans feel. "If we look at the big picture, today was a great day for NASCAR," Rogers said, reiterating that he and Busch are still close friends. "Our fans don't want to see teammate orders. They don't deserve teammates to fall in line. They deserve good , hard racing. "So, I think today was a great day for the sport. It stinks that we had to move a teammate. I'm sure (Busch's crew chief) Adam (Stevens) and I will talk about it and Carl and Kyle will talk about it. "But I think it would be very disappointing to our fans if Joe imposed a team order and told us, 'Hey, have a parade instead of a race.'" If Edwards hadn't have made the move, we'd be having a whole different, much more difficult conversation. Instead, NASCAR has another shining example of what draws people to this sport: close racing, dramatic finishes and lots of "can-you-believe-that?" instances. Truly last lap passes are what people want to talk about. Not lug nuts, driver councils or pit road penalties. That's not where the authentic action is. Busch will have a chance to "equal the score." It's called intense competition. Would Busch have done the same thing on Sunday? Of course he would. Will he if some opportunity presents itself in the future? You bet. And Edwards knows its coming. And so do we. That's why people love this sport.
How qualifying works at Talladega
Qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway has undergone a few different formats over the past five years. The rules for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series races are the same as last year, but different from the procedures at intermediate and short tracks or road courses. There will be two rounds of qualifying with drivers turning one timed lap. The top 12 will advance to the final round. Each driver will take a warm-up lap, the timed lap and a cool-down lap before returning to pit road . Based on a random draw, vehicles will line up on pit road for the first round -- rather than nose in or nose out in a pit stall -- and NASCAR will release drivers at a predetermined interval. The sanctioning body reserves the right to have more than one vehicle on track at a time. It's likely that two vehicles will be on track at the same time, but the second vehicle won't impede or help the one it follows on track. Following each lap, NASCAR will impound vehicles, and there will be a 10-minute break between rounds. Only during that break may teams make adjustments, and they will only be allowed to adjust tape and use a cool-down unit at that time. The final round qualifying order will be set from slowest to fastest speeds in the first round with starting positions 1-12 determined by the fastest laps in that second session.
Rule reminder: How Stewart will be scored at Talladega
RELATED: Stewart eager for more " See current Chase Grid When he announced his return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing, Stewart-Haas Racing driver and co-owner Tony Stewart said he would qualify his No. 14 Chevrolet this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway and start Sunday's race, but ultimately give his seat to standby driver Ty Dillon at some point during the GEICO 500 (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). However, Dillon told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Wednesday that he would qualify the car and that both he and Stewart would practice the car on Friday. Stewart's first race since injuring his back in an offseason all-terrain vehicle accident came last Sunday at Richmond, and Talladega -- a 2.66-mile track where peril exists in every moment -- was enough of a risk for doctors to ask Stewart to step out of the seat at some point Sunday. "Smoke" has been granted a waiver that makes him eligible to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He initially was ineligible due to not meeting the requirement of attempting to start every race. Now, he can attempt to qualify for the postseason -- the most simple road into the Chase is to win one of the remaining regular-season races and climb into the top 30 in the points standings. All of which leads to these questions: Does Tony Stewart earn points at Talladega? What would happen if Ty Dillon won? The answer from NASCAR: If Stewart begins the race, he is the driver of record. The points accrued from whatever place Dillon finishes go into the standings under Stewart's name. If Dillon finishes the race in the No. 14 and winds up in Victory Lane, it will go down as a victory for Stewart and would count toward his Chase eligibility.
Being a crew chief 'the next best thing' for Kendrick
RELATED: Complete schedule " See the series standings STATESVILLE, N.C. – There's a huge difference between going fast and racing. Chad Kendrick says he was very good at the former, but the latter took some time to figure out. Today, the split-second decisions he makes come from atop the pit box, where Kendrick is crew chief for driver Daniel Hemric and the No. 19 Ford of Brad Keselowski Racing in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series. But there was a time at South Boston Speedway when the Late Models were hauling the mail around the 4/10th-mile oval … "It was the best race I was ever having," Kendrick, a native of Durham, North Carolina, said recently. "I was running fifth and Denny was leading. He spun or did something and had to go to the back." "Denny," of course, was Denny Hamlin , this year's Daytona 500 champion and winner of 27 NASCAR premier series races for Joe Gibbs Racing . "He drove right back through the field," Kendrick said. "I'm fourth now (after Hamlin went to the rear); he catches me and he's not wasting time; he just knocks me out of the way. I was so mad … my tongue's hanging out and I'm giving it everything I've got and this kid is just gone. And I can't catch him." Hamlin, Kendrick and a host of others cut their racing teeth on tracks such as South Boston, trying to race their way out of anonymity. South Boston and Langley and Orange County and Southern National have helped make stars and have just as likely crushed dreams. Hamlin might have had a better car on this particular day. But he might have had something else as well. "It kind of hit me then – 'Alright, I don’t have what they have,'" Kendrick said. "I can go run a good lap. But I can't run that lap 150 (times) in a row. I can't do some of the things they can do. "I would love to tell you if I'd had the money … but I don't think so. I maybe could have won a race here or there. But I don't have what Brad (Keselowski) has or Ryan (Blaney) or even Daniel -- I don't have what those guys have. I don't know what it is and I don't know where they get it from, but something's there that just clicks. They have it. This was the next best thing." RELATED: Sustainability goes from top to bottom with Penske, Keselowski Hamlin succeeded, eventually moving on from the small local venues to become a bona fide NASCAR star. Kendrick made his way out, too, but in a slightly different fashion. Kendrick is no anomaly. The NASCAR garage has its share of crew chiefs who raced and then, for one reason or another, eventually hung up their helmets. Crew chiefs Paul Wolfe (Keselowski) and Rodney Childers ( Kevin Harvick ) raced, as did Matt McCall ( Jamie McMurray ) and Greg Ives ( Dale Earnhardt Jr .) There were other stops along the way for most, other tasks to complete and other lessons to be learned. Kendrick's move to the pit box began innocently enough –- Timothy Peters , one of his former rivals from back in the Late Model days – offered him his first crew chief position prior to 2008. The two had worked together previously at Bobby Hamilton Racing (BHR). "I probably learned 75 percent of everything I know about racing from Bobby," Kendrick said of the 2004 Truck Series champion. "He was really good … if you wanted to know, wanted to learn and grow, he was there for you. Very open and just an awesome guy. … "I loved working for him. I actually compare working here to working for Bobby." Other stops followed and their paths wouldn't cross again until Peters called one day with an offer. A partial deal would put Peters on the track and Kendrick on the pit box. "He said, 'By the way, you're going to be the crew chief, the only mechanic, the only guy …" Kendrick said of Peters' proposition. How difficult could that be? Kendrick was about to find out. The two made only a handful of starts in '08 and by the next season, the team added a second truck for a few races just to start and park and stay afloat financially. When NASCAR instituted a new pit procedure rule for the Truck Series in '09, things didn't get any easier. "That was the year that you did pit stops where you couldn't do fuel and tires at the same time," he said. "We never had enough people. I was the crew chief, I would jack on the tire stop, come back, throw the helmet and apron on, and fuel (the truck) during the fuel stop." The saving grace was a midseason call from Red Horse Racing owner Tom DeLoach, who wanted both Peters and Kendrick for his organization. The payoff came a few months later, in late October at Martinsville. Peters led 84 laps en route to his first series victory. It was Kendrick's first win as a crew chief, and remains his most memorable. "One, it was at Martinsville with Timothy," he said. "He and I had been through so much. … Going through all that and to get him his first win just meant a lot. "The win last year (at Bristol Motor Speedway ) with Blaney was the most exciting. It was the most dominant truck I've ever had and special in that as soon as we unloaded for practice, it was 'OK, we’re the truck to beat.' Blaney qualified on the outside of the front row and led the first 37 circuits at Bristol before a penalty for jumping the restart send him to the rear of the field. "Then he drives all the way back through the field and wins the race," Kendrick said. "That one was just really cool. You can be the best truck and you don't win because your crew had a bad stop or something breaks or somebody gets into you … anything. The smallest things can happen. … But Ryan got determined. So that one is up there." Kendrick's six wins have come with five different drivers – Peters, Blaney (2), John King , Parker Kligerman and Joey Logano . "I wanted to give Brad his first (Truck) win," Kendrick said, adding it was a "big battle" between he and fellow Brad Keselowski Racing crew chief Doug Randolph. But it was Randolph calling the shots when the team owner/driver made it to the winner’s circle, also at Bristol in 2014 "Just a couple of weeks ago, Brad gave Joey the truck we won with last year at Martinsville. I told Joey 'Don’t ever run another truck race,'" Kendrick said. "Because I'm probably not going to be known for much of anything, but at least I can tell my grandkids I gave Joey Logano his only truck win.' Doesn’t mean a lot, but …" RELATED: Inside the new Chase format for the series Now, he'll try to add Hemric to his list of winning drivers. Hemric, 25, is in his first season with the organization and sits seventh in points after three races. Teammate Tyler Reddick , 20, is a two-time race winner and driver of the team’s No. 29 with the veteran Randolph calling the shots. He's 16th in points. Next up for the series is the Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway (Friday, May 6, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the first of a three-week swing that includes stops at Dover International Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway . Kendrick said both drivers are ready to get back on the track. Expectations remain high. "At the front end of the year I would have told you we’d have a win by now," he said. "I really thought we would. We've had brand new trucks all three races. "I know we’ll win a race, both of our guys. I don't think stretch to say we'll win 2-3 in a row, between our teams."
H2H: Will Hendrick or JGR win at Talladega?
This weekend's race at Talladega Superspeedway will bring new excitement, drama and possibly a surprising race winner. Hendrick Motorsports is typically known as the organization to beat at the 2.66-mile track, but the recent domination of Joe Gibbs Racing 's four-car team may threaten the HMS quartet in the battle to top the leaderboard. In the latest Head-to-Head, NASCAR.com's Taylor Starer and Maggie MacKenzie debate which team is more likely to prevail at Talladega. Read their thoughts and vote in the poll below with your opinion. MACKENZIE: Let's get the Talladega weekend going. There's something about 'Dega that makes it so intriguing, from big wrecks to big wins. Now, if there's one thing certain, it's that Hendrick Motorsports and the superspeedway go together perfectly. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., for example, goes into every 'Dega race as the clear favorite thanks to his six wins there -- his winningest track to date. And let's not forget his 12 top fives and 16 top 10s, either. Junior has led multiple laps during each of the last five Sprint Cup races at the Alabama track, so expect the No. 88 to be up front once again and lead. STARER: Dale Jr. always brings it at Talladega, that's no secret. But the success Joe Gibbs Racing has seen this season is proving to be unmatchable. For starters, the four-car Toyota team just swept the month of April, with Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards dominating races at Martinsville, Texas, Bristol and Richmond. Junior and the rest of the Hendrick Motorsports wheelhouse have a strong history at 'Dega, but JGR has some serious momentum this season. I'd be interested to see if Junior's Talladega knowledge is enough to outsmart everything JGR has learned so far this season. MACKENZIE: There's no doubt that the JGR foursome has been on fire lately and whatever ingredients it has been mixing up make for one sweet concoction. With that being said, don't forget that Hendrick has been having success thus far, too. "Six-Time" added two wins to his resume this year at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway , while Kasey Kahne earned a season-best, fourth-place result at last week's Richmond race. And let's not count out rookie Chase Elliott . Elliott is the best newcomer in the Cup field and his back-to-back top-five finishes at Texas and Bristol proved he can outrace the veterans. It's only a matter of time before the 20-year-old wheels that iconic No. 24 to Victory Lane. STARER: All valid points, Maggie. But let's not forget who won this year's Daytona 500 , the only other restrictor-plate race that the Sprint Cup Series has run this season. That's right, Denny Hamlin . And it wasn't Hamlin's first show of superspeedway success. The No. 11 JGR driver saw Victory Lane at the Talladega spring race in 2014, and his teammate Matt Kenseth won there in 2012. You make a good argument with Elliott, but this will be the rookie's first Sprint Cup Series attempt at Talladega, a track known to eat newbies alive. Let's just hope the No. 24 Chevrolet makes it till the end of the 188-lap event with few scratches. MACKENZIE: You make a good point there about Hamlin and the Daytona 500 , Taylor. My mind, however, keeps going back to this race last year. Hamlin earned a respectable ninth-place finish, but who got the 1-2? That would be Junior and Johnson, who led a combined 117 of the 188 laps run that day. Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards finished 25th and 32nd, respectively. Talladega is quite unpredictable, but my money is on a similar finish to 2015. STARER: Ah yes, I was at this race last year and the No. 88's dominance was tough to beat. There's no doubt that Junior's chances of running up front are strong -- I just think JGR's are stronger, especially since Busch is back after missing this race last year. Despite what went down last week at Richmond, the Toyota team seems to be learning as a unit, hence why this team has compiled multiple wins, top-fives and top-10 finishes in 2016. There's not just one superspeedway star at JGR, which improves its odds, and that's what matters most. But, we'll just have to see where the cards fall. After all, it's 'Dega, baby.
Stewart completes tire test at Indy; Edwards, more join
Four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers concluded a two-day Goodyear tire test Wednesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . For three-time series champion Tony Stewart , it wrapped up what he said would be the final tire test of his career. Stewart joined last weekend's winner Carl Edwards , Aric Almirola and rookie Chase Elliott among drivers involved at the Brickyard, helping Goodyear officials determine the proper tire compound for the Sprint Cup Series' annual visit on July 24. Stewart was fresh from his season debut at Richmond International Raceway , where he placed 19th after missing eight races with a broken back suffered in an all-terrain vehicle incident Jan. 31. As was the case Sunday at Richmond, Stewart was in good spirits as he eased back into full-time racing in what is scheduled to be his final NASCAR season as a driver. RELATED: Stewart eager for more after Richmond return "I'm actually having fun up here," said Stewart, an Indiana native. "This is my last tire test as a driver, so I've been having fun working with the Goodyear guys and it's been kind of fun because three of the main guys here when I started here are at this test, which they don't always get to come to the same test together. It's kind of nice to be working with them one last time. "It's nice to be home and I think any chance, any time that we've had an opportunity to go test here, I always jumped on it. I don't like to go test -- it's boring to me -- but I've always liked any chance I got to come up to Indy and test. That's something I always wanted to do." Stewart's next NASCAR appearance at the venerable Speedway is scheduled this summer, when he'll compete in what will likely be his final Indianapolis race. The 44-year-old Stewart said he's had less chance to reminisce about his memories of the home-state track than to get accustomed to the reduced-downforce aerodynamics package that made its debut this year. "It's probably more just fresh on my mind of being back in the car. I haven't driven with this low-downforce package other than just Richmond last weekend, which you aren't really going to see a big effect of it. Being here and seeing how much different it feels, it's fun to kind of get acclimated again and that's the big thing that I wanted to leave here with was just feeling like that I was up to speed with what the aero package was and knowing what the feel is like." Edwards has won the last two Sprint Cup races, including last Sunday's bump-and-run past Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch to prevail at Richmond. Edwards said he hadn't had a chance to speak with Busch about the incident with his quick transition from the Virginia short track to Indianapolis before heading to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. RELATED: JGR orders? Edwards-Busch bump say it isn't so Edwards' more immediate focus was to provide feedback to Goodyear engineers after a battery of tests at the historic 2.5-mile track. "There's a lot of stuff to learn here," Edwards said. "This track, it's difficult for a number of reasons, but really for me, just the weather today versus yesterday, it's hard to determine how much of it is the weather. As the track changes, the Goodyear rubber lays down, it changes. The challenge for us is as we make these changes with the car to try to separate the track changes and the temperature changes from the actual changes to the car. "So it's a pretty difficult place to test and to figure things out, but that kind of makes it fun. We've got my crew chief and my team of engineers over there, and I mean they are going through every … I mean, they're really over there thinking and working hard, and those kind of challenges are fun."
Bayne honors Martin with Darlington throwback
RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes " SHOP: Bayne gear Trevor Bayne and Roush Fenway Racing have unveiled the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford that will take the track at Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles' Southern 500 (Sept. 4, 6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) on Labor Day weekend. Bayne's car will carry the same red, white and blue design that Mark Martin 's Ford did during the 1996 and 1997 seasons in the sport's top series. Martin won four races with the look in the two years. "It's an honor any time you are mentioned alongside Mark Martin ," Bayne said in a team release. "He obviously contributed a lot to Roush Fenway and this organization, so to carry a paint scheme that he ran for the second year in a row is really cool. Our team has been working really hard and running well this season, so I'm hopeful that we can make Mark proud." Last year at Darlington, Bayne honored a different paint scheme that Martin drove in 1998. You can see that paint scheme here . "It's going to be really cool to see that car on the track again at Darlington," Martin said in a team release. "It's always been one of my favorite paint schemes and we had a lot of good times taking that car to Victory Lane and leading a lot of laps during that time. I look at it as a tribute to all the guys that put the hard work in on those cars and gave us the opportunity to go out and compete each week." Check out the original look driven by Martin below.