Runner-up showing at Charlotte is first top five of season for the No. 16 Ford RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings CONCORD, N.C. -- It's been a while since Greg Biffle has felt like this -- according to him, about a year. But the driver of the Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Ford was pleased, albeit in a bittersweet way, with his second-place finish in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Biffle netted his first top five of the season in what he said has been a well-documented slow start for him and his RFR teammates. So forgive Biffle if he felt like the monkey was finally off his back -- even if it meant losing to former teammate Carl Edwards in the process. "It's kind of funny because I decided if I finished in the top 10 tonight I was gonna stand on the door top and be all excited and cheer," Biffle said, "and I finished second and I'm not happy. The thing is we ran in the top 10 all night. The car was good and had a lot of speed. That was a huge improvement." Improvement was good for a driver with an average finish of 20.5 in 2015, his worst mark since becoming a full-time driver in the Sprint Cup Series in 2003. To get Biffle's last top-five finish, you'd have to go back to the 2014 GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway . And in the 26 races between Pocono and Charlotte, Biffle managed only six top-10 finishes. Sunday was a bit of the old Biffle, the driver who has won 19 times on the premier level. He even showed some spunk while engaging in a fuel-mileage battle with Edwards in the final laps. "You know, I was putting a lot of pressure on Carl there," Biffle said. "I started going with about 10 laps to go. The crew chief (Matt Puccia) told me 'save all you can, just stay in front of the 88,' and I made a decision that I was going to try to beat Carl." With two laps to go, the fuel light came on indicating the fuel pressure was low, so Biffle said he had to preserve the rest of way. Luckily for Biffle, his desire to beat Carl didn't come back to haunt him. "Yeah, well, we knew that Carl was going to try and make it, and certainly nobody knows whether you've got enough gas," Biffle said. "I was sure hoping and praying that he would be about a lap short because, you know, we've lost a few -- everybody has lost a few -- like that." As far as whether Sunday's showing proved that the slow start was behind him, Biffle refused to go that far. But he was feeling optimistic about the road ahead. "I've got a couple of trophies from (Dover)," Biffle said. "We run good there. ... You know Michigan is kind of -- I've got it circled now on my calendar -- because if we've got speed on these kind of tracks back again, that's a good race track for us. So we'll see how we stack up." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Veteran driver set for pair of road events in No. 42 Chevrolet Justin Marks is giving up his Lamborghini to return to the wheel of a stock car, heading to the road courses of Mid-Ohio and Road America later this year to compete for HScott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi in the two NASCAR XFINITY Series races. Marks, 34, will be behind the wheel of the team’s No. 42 Chevrolet, the same entry that’s been split between Sprint Cup driver Kyle Larson and rookie Brennan Poole this season and is headed up by crew chief Mike Shiplett. While he has at least one official start in all three NASCAR national series, Marks' background is endurance sports cars, "so the road courses were always something that was circled on my calendar," he told NASCAR.com. "I've always felt like they were my best chances at winning." Marks ran the same two events last year for the team when it was branded Turner Scott Motorsports, finishing sixth at Mid-Ohio in the No. 31 Chevrolet and running in the top five late at Road America before running out of fuel. After co-owners Harry Scott and Steve Turner severed their ties at the end of the year, Scott and Sprint Cup Series team owner Chip Ganassi teamed up to continue fielding the XFINITY Series operation. "I tried to put my name in the hat as early as possible … for those road courses," Marks said. "I knew Kyle was going to be doing fewer races this year … and that Brennan was going to be coming on with his program. The gaps in the schedule just worked out perfectly." The Mid-Ohio race is scheduled for Aug. 15, when Larson, who has made four XFINITY Series starts this year, will be at Michigan International Speedway for the Sprint Cup race. The Road America race falls on an off-weekend for the Sprint Cup series. "Last year was the first time I'd been in a stock car on a road course in a little while," said Marks. "It was really the first time racing at that level since I quit racing full-time in NASCAR. So there was a little bit of an unknown going into those races. But we were a top-five car at Road America and I think we were the fastest car once it started raining. "At Mid-Ohio, we were just a solid car, fastest in final practice and in the top five or six all race long. So when I look at how we did, knowing I'm familiar with the team, going back to the exact same tracks and knowing my expectations, now having the added asset of Chip Ganassi Racing , all of their engineering and knowledge and expertise behind it will just make the cars that much better. "I think for both of those races, legitimately, we're going there to win. And I really think we can do it, if I do a good job and we make smart decisions, have a good strategy and nothing crazy happens like running out of fuel or get off (pit) sequence for some reason." As for the Lamborghini, it isn't his grocery getter -- Marks is competing full-time in the Blancpain Super Trofeo Series this season, a 12-race series for Lamborghini GT3 entries that is part of the Tudor United SportsCar program. Stops on the schedule include Laguna Seca (completed), Watkins Glen, Virginia International Raceway, Circuit of the Americas, Road Atlanta and Sebring. He and Scott co-own a five-car K&N Pro Series East organization that fields entries for William Byron, Scott Heckert, Dalton Sargeant, Rico Abreu and J.J. Haley. Ownership of the GoPro Motorsports karting complex in Mooresville, North Carolina, and an import/distribution company that supplies high-performance karting equipment also keep Marks on the go. "The K&N team was something that I sort of started talking to Harry about … if there was ever an opportunity for me to (be involved) that I was interested in it," he said. "Because it's a great series and I love trying to help the young guys, these young up-and-comers, and being involved in their careers." In his only NASCAR efforts thus far this season, Marks attempted to qualify for all three season-opening races at Daytona International Speedway with sponsorship from American Born Moonshine. He made the starting fields for the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series races, but was one of six that failed to earn a starting berth in the Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series race. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See how the rookie meeting has evolved over the years RELATED: Labonte's crash still impacts rookies " Youngest, oldest rookie winners One by one, before the first engine has fired and the first car has hit the track, they gather in the NASCAR hauler parked inside the garage. It's a scene repeated every weekend when NASCAR rolls into town. Their levels of experience often differ quite a bit. There are champions and those with numerous starts in lower series seated alongside those with limited experience and much less success. Yet here everyone is treated the same. And everyone carries the same label -- rookie. • • • "A lot of stuff happens fast here," Richard Buck, NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series managing director, tells the group that's gathered on a cool, damp Friday morning at Martinsville Speedway . Each driver has been given several sheets of paper showing diagrams that include the placement of timing and commitment lines, pit entrance and exit and the proper route to enter and exit pit road from the garage area. It's information that is track-specific. While the basic processes that take place during any given race weekend are relatively the same, there are certain details at each venue that those with limited experience need to know. Proper procedures are explained and advice is doled out. "Use your hand signals so you don't start to slow down and get all jammed up and have somebody's radiator in your backseat," Buck tells the drivers. Each week, a veteran driver will also attend the meetings to offer pointers and answer any questions a rookie driver might have. At Martinsville, 2004 premier series champion Kurt Busch was on hand. "Those of you that have made laps around here before, you know how quick it is," Busch said of the series' shortest venue. "It's an awkward track. There's no other place that really compares to this. So the thing you have to do is to get comfortable with the surroundings." Busch said he would often walk around tracks "even if I've been here before" to reinforce the information given during the meeting. "Have your spotters communicate to you where the holes are when you pull out ... your tires will be ice cold here ... they won't help you do much turning when you get into (Turns) 3 and 4 ... but if you're consciously making an effort to warm up your tires, somebody's going to be right on your bumper and it's going to be chaos," he said. Busch also urged them to take note of the commitment and blend lines at Martinsville. "It's the same Turn 2 line that's painted at Bristol," he said later. "But at Bristol, you have two pit roads (one on the frontstretch and one on the backstretch). It's the same line in the same place and it means two different things." Drivers' left-side tires must touch the blend line near Turn 2 at Martinsville before pulling up onto the track. A similar line at Bristol signifies the pit entrance on the backstretch -- touching any portion of it without proceeding onto pit road will result in a commitment line violation. "Now they'll go to Bristol (in two weeks)," Busch said, "and they need to remember." • • • So what constitutes a rookie in the eyes of NASCAR? In most cases, it's up to the discretion of the series director and is based on the individual's prior experience. Matt DiBenedetto , 23, made his first Sprint Cup Series start this year after running the bulk of the races (29 of 33) in the XFINITY Series last season. Brett Moffitt , 22, made seven Sprint Cup Series starts in 2014. Between 2009 and 2013 he made just one XFINITY Series start and two in the Camping World Truck Series. Both are among those competing for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in Sprint Cup , along with Jeb Burton , Tanner Berryhill and Alex Kennedy . To be eligible for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, a driver must attempt to qualify in at least eight of the first 20 points races. A 10-1 point system, separate from the NASCAR championship driver points format, is used for scoring rookies in each race. The highest finishing rookie receives 10 points, second highest receives nine, etc. Only the top 17 finishes by each driver count toward his or her points total at the end of the year. Bonus points are also awarded for attempts, finishing inside the top 10 and upon the completion of the final race of the season. A panel then grades each rookie on conduct with officials, conduct and awareness on the track, personal appearance and relationship with the media. Points awarded by the panel are then averaged and added to each driver's total, and the driver with the most points is the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award recipient. Jeb Burton is one of five rookies this year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. • • • Of course, it wasn't always that way. In 1959, Darlington Raceway , in conjunction with sponsor Pure Oil (later to become Union 76), debuted the Darlington Record Club. Members were those that had qualified highest for each auto manufacturer during time trials for the annual Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway . Special recognition went to those that established track records there as well. While NASCAR had been selecting a rookie of the year for nearly a decade -- Rocky Mount, North Carolina's Blackie Pitt was the first recipient in 1954 –- the Union 76/Darlington Record Club was eventually tasked with monitoring the progress of rookie drivers on the uniquely shaped, treacherous 1.366-mile track. What began as an effort between driver Glenn "Fireball" Roberts and NASCAR official John Bruner Sr., to observe new drivers eventually evolved into a panel of Record Club members whose job was to either pass or fail those drivers attempt to make their Southern 500 debuts. (It's worth noting that the club also played a crucial role in requiring all drivers to complete a physical examination before being allowed to compete at Darlington. Today, a physical examination is mandatory for all three national series prior to the start of each season.) Before the Record Club came into existence, "you just went down there and run," said NASCAR Hall of Fame member Richard Petty, a seven-time NASCAR premier series champion and winner of the 1967 Southern 500. "(The Record Club) was good public relations. It gave those (rookies) something they had to do. Indianapolis (home of the Indianapolis 500) always had a rookie test you had to pass before you could go out and run. Well, we said if they can do it, we can do it, too. "Back then, (Darlington) was a one-groove track through (Turns) 3 and 4, which is now 1-2. We'd explain what you had to do to pass people or let people pass you. Then you just said, 'OK, now go out and run.' " To pass the test, drivers new to the series were required to run within a percentage of a pre-determined speed. "If we were running 130 mph," Petty said, "they would have to run 125 or something like that. Then they'd go out and run six or eight laps on the track by themselves." "It was a little easier to show up at Daytona with a car even though you may not have that much experience and get in the race," three-time series champion and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Darrell Waltrip said. "But they really observed you. If you were somebody new that they didn't know and you showed up at the track, they'd have some drivers that would kind of see how you did, see if you could handle the track and the speed and all that. There was always somebody watching you, but Darlington was the only official test we took." The panel would make its recommendations to NASCAR, but it was up to Bruner, a former flagman who eventually became Chief Steward for the sanctioning body, to make the final call. Richard Petty, who won the Southern 500 in 1967, used to show rookies the ropes at the iconic track. • • • In 1976, the Record Club's competition panel began overseeing the rookie program. Nearly a decade later, one of racing's greatest figures found himself labeled a rookie, and was required to go through the orientation process. Far from being a rookie, Anthony Joseph Foyt, better known simply as A.J., already had seven NASCAR premier series wins to his credit including a victory in the 1972 Daytona 500 . But Foyt, a four-time winner of the Indy 500 as well, had never raced at Darlington. "I am going to Darlington as a bonafide rookie. I don't want anything waived," Foyt told the press prior to his debut. "Why should I be different than anybody else? I know a lot of guys would have too much pride and ego to take the rookie test, but I'm not that type of person." NASCAR driver Ricky Rudd was the president of the Record Club at that time. Among the members of the competition panel were fellow drivers Waltrip and Buddy Baker. "Buddy and I and I forget who else, we observed A.J. Foyt and we flunked him his first day," Waltrip said. "Well, we told him we flunked him. "I told Buddy, I said 'Go down there and tell A.J. that we're going to have to have a meeting about his test because I'm not sure he passed.' Buddy looked at me and said 'Do you think I'm crazy? You go down there and tell him.' " Foyt passed the test, eventually finishing 25th in his only Southern 500 start. • • • Ken Schrader , a four-time race winner in NASCAR's premier series, was in that same rookie class with Foyt in 1985. Schrader posted three top-10 finishes that year en route to winning the Rookie of the Year title, beating out Eddie Bierschwale and Don Hume. Twice he served as president of the Record Club. "Yeah, I got elected president one time, then got elected president another time because at the banquet in Darlington I sat in the back and drank with the wrong group," the fun-loving Schrader said. "I was sitting with, I think, Phil Holmer and T. Wayne (Robertson) and some Unocal folks." Holmer was a Goodyear representative while Robertson headed up series sponsor R.J. Reynolds sports marketing arm. "They threw my ass right in," Schrader said of his election. "My acceptance speed, I stood up and said 'This is (expletive)!' "But the rookie meetings were neat. We'd just go in there, talk about the do's and don'ts for the tracks. Some of it was repetitious obviously but then there was so much about each individual track and it was the first time that some of those guys went to those tracks. Because back then not everybody then came through the Truck or ( XFINITY ) Series. "Now, hell, you're a rookie at a race, you've been to how many places (already)? You've probably raced there in some other series. "So it's a little different now." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Crew chiefs, drivers discuss tire used at Charlotte Motor Speedway NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams continue to wrestle with a 2015 rules package for intermediate tracks, one that was expected to enhance passing but thus far has provided mixed results. It's early, one-third of the way through the 36-race schedule, and teams will no doubt make gains as the season wears on. But it wasn't the rules package that concerned Rodney Childers following Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "I'll say it in the nicest way possible, but they have completely ruined Charlotte Motor Speedway with changing tires," said Childers, crew chief of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet with defending series champion Kevin Harvick . "You just can't race anybody and whoever was in front was just (staying) in front. You ride around 600 miles and can't pass a soul." This year's tire of choice for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte included a right-side tire that featured the multi-zone technology first used two years ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway . The inside two inches was the same compound run at Texas this season while the outer portion was the same used at CMS last year. Goodyear officials held two Charlotte tests, last December and in March of this year, to determine the tire selection. Tires using similar multi-zone technology have also been used at Richmond. Childers said the multi-zone tire has adversely affected the competition at Richmond and Texas as well. "It's so aggravating," he said. Harvick finished ninth Sunday night, the 11th top-10 of the year for the series points leader and winner of two races thus far this season. Carl Edwards ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) won Sunday's race thanks in part to better fuel mileage in his No. 19 Toyota. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who finished third-place, spoke about the multi-zone tires after the All-Star race on his weekly "The Dale Jr. Download" on Dirty Mo Radio. "We've (run) it before at other tracks with sort of mixed results as far as how much we actually like the tire, how good the tire feels how good the tire drives," Earnhardt said. "I don't know … I didn't really like it that much this past race. "(The tire) is just really hard on that inside edge and as you might have seen in the All-Star Race when a lot of us tried to run the top we just were so loose and spinning out and getting into the fence, having a lot of trouble with that. So that tire really took away the top groove, I felt. I couldn't get up there and make much time." In spite of "mixed results at other tracks," Earnhardt said the tire does have at least one thing going for it. "It is safer, so you can't complain about that," he said. While there were nine lead changes in the first 100 laps of the 400-lap race, four came during an early competition caution and a later round of green-flag pit stops. The 22 lead changes for the race were the fewest (in a full 600-mile event) since 2004. "I'm happy for Carl and I'm happy for Darian (Grubb, crew chief)," said Childers. "They did what they needed to do to win the race and that's the end of the story. "More just disappointed in what we've got going on lately. We've got to work together and get the right tires on these things and make them where we can race each other. If you can't race, you're not going to put on a good show. That's just the way it is right now." Grubb said the use of the multi-zone tire gives teams "a little bit more of a margin of durability." "This used to be one of the tracks we'd come to and we'd be really nervous," he said, "especially if the rain came or something (and) the track got green. There's no way you can make a fuel run on the first set or two. You'd end up with cords on the outside and the inside of the tire." The multi-zone tire has made inside wear a non-issue. Grubb said his team saw no signs of distress on his team's tires. "So I think they've got the combination right for durability," he said. "It does give up a little bit of grip versus what the old tire did, but we'll pay that price to have some consistency and durability." Speaking of tires … Teams competing in this weekend's Camping World Truck , XFINITY and Sprint Cup Series races at Dover International Speedway will have a new left-side tire. The code is the same as what was run at Texas ( Sprint Cup and XFINITY ) earlier this year. It was also used at Texas, Chicago, Darlington and Homestead last season. Long race, few penalties For only the fourth time this season, fewer than 20 penalties were handed down during a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race with 19 being doled out in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 . The most common infractions were pitting before pit road was open (six) and excessive speed entering/exiting (four). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Sherry Pollex's cancer fight adds perspective, purpose behind charity RELATED: Catwalk for a Cause raises money for cancer research Martin Truex Jr . rolls into his "home track" Dover International Speedway this week the most dominant driver without a win this season. For the last two points races, the New Jersey native's No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy has led the most laps. He and reigning Sprint Cup Series champ Kevin Harvick have earned the most top-10 finishes (11) of any driver in the series. And, Truex sports a whopping 25-point lead on the next closest points position to qualify for the 16-driver Chase for theCup. Truex' 2014 struggles on track -- consistent bad luck and frequent car problems in his first year with the Furniture Row team -- now seem firmly in the rear-view mirror. And away from the track, Truex's girlfriend Sherry Pollex is responding well in treatment for ovarian cancer -- diagnosed last summer. By all reasonable standards, Truex is already a winner this year. He just hasn't hoisted a trophy. Yet. Perspective has come from facing great hardship and it has been evident even in disappointment for Truex. After leading a race-best 131 laps in Sunday night's grueling Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , he was interviewed on pit road and initially grimaced at yet another near-miss -- a fifth place finish. But before the camera pulled away, Truex had summoned a smile and offered perspective. MORE: #TBT: Truex earns first career Cup win After all that he and Pollex have endured in the past year, good days behind the wheel are a bonus. And Truex is collecting lots of bonus right now. "Toward the end of last year things were looking bad and the car wasn't running well and I was in front-line treatment (for cancer),'' Pollex said. "Now his team is on fire and they have the car to beat every weekend. I'm still in my maintenance chemo, but I live a normal life with it. "Even if Martin wasn't doing well on track, we're kinda winning at life. There are so many things we are thankful for." And as they have for years, Truex and Pollex have generously given back on their blessings through the Martin Truex Jr . Foundation. The foundation's marquee event, Catwalk for a Cause -- a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research and treatment at the Charlotte-based Levine Children’s Hospital -- was held May 13 and raised nearly $300,000. The awareness generated and hearts warmed were priceless. A couple dozen of the sport's biggest names showed up to bid on silent auction items and cheer the participants on as they walked the runway wearing fashions from local boutiques and Belk's. The Mooresville, N.C., facility's décor was created by former NASCAR driver Shawna Robinson, who recently completed treatment for breast cancer herself. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kasey Kahne , Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick were among those who walked the runway with young cancer patients. "Sherry (Pollex) does so much and these kids have such great spirit and they don't know any different,'' said Danica Patrick , who dazzled on stage alongside fellow NASCAR driver and boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and 6-year old, Mya, who is undergoing chemotherapy for a form of leukemia. "It shows how you can be in those situations if you don't think too far forward, and live in the moment." It's a lesson Pollex has had reinforced. Her commitment to the spring event never wavered even in the immediate days after being diagnosed with cancer herself. "God works in mysterious ways,'' Truex said. "When Sherry first got diagnosed she thought about all the kids she had in the Catwalk before and the kids to come and said, 'If they can do this, I can do this.' ' "That was honestly the first thing she thought, 'I'm going to show them I can do it, then they will do it.' And it's a constant snowball effect." Pollex is philosophical about the irony of the situation. For years she has dedicated herself to helping this cause through the foundation's resources. "I remember not long after I was diagnosed, telling my mom that God must have had a plan for me because I've spent half my life teaching kids how to beat this disease then I ended up with it,'' Pollex said. "I definitely think it's ironic. Maybe God knew I would have to teach them how to fight and then one day I'd know what they went through. I can't imagine there being any other plan for me. "If you try to just look at the positive side of it, it's an opportunity to know what they've been through and what the treatments are like. "Nobody really knows what cancer is like unless you have it. You have an empathy that no one can explain unless you're a survivor. It gives me an opportunity to teach them to beat the disease." Because it is considered a "rare" form of cancer, pediatric cancer receives only a small fraction of the funding for research and new treatment that adult forms of cancer receive, according to Dr. Javier Oesterheld, interim director of Levine's Pediatric Hematology and Oncology unit. The money raised by Truex and Pollex is extremely important. "I will tell you, NASCAR as a whole is incredible about this,'' Oesterheld said. "This event is so amazing, how much it raises and just the awareness it puts out there. "All we need (for our cause) is our one person to really push it forward. People like Martin and Jeff Gordon . They've really made a huge difference for us." Beyond the practical side of raising money, the Catwalk has a special and undeniable tangible effect. The very people benefitting get to be a part of the process. And by the end of the evening, it was genuinely hard to see who was helping whom. The kids were grinning and laughing and hamming it up despite their tough circumstances. And the adults were smiling back at them, inspired by their strength and spirit, awed by the lesson of living in the moment. It's impossible not to leave Catwalk without being moved. "Imagine the feeling these kids get when they're up here helping their peers,'' Truex said. "They have friends back in the hospital that were too sick to come here tonight. Imagine what they feel in their heart when they're up here and everyone's cheering for them and they say, 'This is for our friends back in the hospital and for kids that haven't been diagnosed yet.' "These kids raise the money. We don't. "At the end of the day, we're both blessed to be healthy enough to do it, especially Sherry with what she's been through. This year was extra special to her for that reason." Pollex agreed. "We were so humbled all those people were there, and I feel like this year was different because of my diagnosis,'' she said. "We've always wanted to help people. And now that we can't have kids of our own it takes on a new importance in our lives. Those kids become our kids. " With the way Truex has been contending, it won't be long until the couple gets to celebrate their perseverance and resolve in Victory Lane. He's a legitimate favorite this weekend. Truex scored his career first Cup win at Dover's Monster Mile in 2007 and has an impressive two pole positions and eight top-10s in 18 starts at the notoriously tough concrete oval. "I would never want our lives necessarily to turn out this way, but Martin is a completely different person (since I was diagnosed with cancer) and looks at everything differently, not just racing,'' Pollex said. "I don't know how anyone could be the same person after going through this. "I look at it like we got an opportunity to show God what we're made of." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Sgt. Brendan Marrocco is nominated for his service in the United States Army and for being the first American soldier to survive a quadruple amputation.
Despite troubles, Team Penske driver scores fifth-place finish KANSAS CITY, Kan. – If Joey Logano hopes to contend for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, the Team Penske driver and his No. 22 team will have to avoid the kind of mistakes that took them out of contention during Saturday night's rain-delayed SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway . Logano passed more cars than any other driver at Kansas, 147 according to NASCAR loop data, and came home with a not-so-terrible fifth-place finish, his sixth top-five result in this year's first 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. But missteps by the driver and team continually put the yellow Ford at the back of the field, requiring Logano to work his way through rush-hour-like traffic on at least two occasions. "We inverted the field on ourselves," Logano said sheepishly. "We got most cars passed and it was fun, but … man, we did a terrible job. That's pretty much what it comes down to." The Daytona 500 winner joins the rest of the series this week at Charlotte Motor Speedway , site of Saturday night's Sprint All-Star race (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, Sirius XM). A week later, Charlotte plays host to the Coca-Cola 600 (May 24, 6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM), the series' longest affair. He has finished as high as second in the non-points race and his average finish in points races there is better than any other facility. But he has yet to win at the 1.5-mile track. And unless they avoid problems such as those that surfaced at Kansas, he'll remain winless at Charlotte. Although he started on the pole for the fourth time this season last weekend, and led the first 29 laps of the 267-lap race, a penalty during pit stops on Lap 95 (his crew was over the wall too soon) dropped him to the tail end of the field. After working his way from 32nd back inside the top 10, Logano was flagged again on Lap 186 when he came down pit road before it was open under caution. That miscue sent him back to the rear once more, this time just outside the top 15. "I typically hear it on my radio, whether (pit road ) is open or closed," he said of the mistake. "I heard the call to pit but I never looked (at the pit entrance lights). I saw no one else was pitting and thought 'we're going to get off strategy here. I'm the only guy (pitting).'" Fortunately for the team, Logano's car had speed. He was back inside the top 10 once again by Lap 220 and fifth by the time the checkered flag finally appeared. "We got a top five out of it because we had a fast car and we were able to recover," he said. "But just on all aspects we all just did a terrible job; We know how to do it, we've done it before, we execute really well; we just kept screwing up." Logano made it to the Championship Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup a year ago, winning a career-best five times in his second season with the Penske organization. Based on his team's showing thus far this year, he's once again considered one of the favorites to battle for the title. As long as he and the team avoid putting themselves in the type of precarious positions they found themselves in last weekend. "We had a fast race car and that’s what saved us," Logano said. "But our execution was not very good . We've got to raise our game a little bit. We've got to clean it up." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
His first win at Dover was also the last for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Dover International Speedway and for Martin Truex Jr ., it's a return to a site of one of his greatest triumphs. A native of New Jersey, Truex considers Dover his home track, and in 2007, the then 26-year-old found some home cooking at the Monster Mile. Driving for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in his second full-time premier series season after winning back-to-back titles in what was then called the NASCAR Busch Series, the closest Truex had previously come to a Cup victory was a second-place showing in the 2006 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . It all came together for Truex on a Monday afternoon, June 4, 2007 at Dover. Yes, that's right a Monday afternoon, after rain washed out the planned 400-lap event on Sunday. And the extra day wait was well worth it for Truex. Starting 26th in the field, Truex worked his way up and by Lap 125 he held the lead. All told Truex led 216 of the 400 laps, including 200 of the final 243 circuits to score his first career Sprint Cup victory by a stunning 7.355-second margin. His win was the deepest a victorious driver had started in the field at Dover since Tony Stewart in 2000 and has yet to be matched. "I remember everything about it," Truex said two weeks ago at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Sprint All-Star Race weekend. "I mean it's like absolutely everything. I remember how practice went, what we did to the car, where we were. I remember the whole weekend. "It was a special day for sure. And to win there for me, that's my home track and it's like one of my favorites tracks so it was a big deal. We had a lot of friends and family there, too." Truex stayed hot in the coming weeks with a third-place finish at Pocono and a runner-up result at Michigan. He would go on to make the Chase that season as well. However, Truex's next win didn't come for 218 premier series races, until 2013 at Sonoma when he was driving for Michael Waltrip Racing . "Honestly when we won that race we thought we were going to start clicking them off," Truex said. "We had chances that year; that was a great year for us in '07. We were in position to win a bunch of races. A lot of times things went like they did last weekend (at Kansas). It was disappointing but we really felt like that season was our breakout season. Then things started to go downhill when things started to break apart (at DEI)." The win would be the last of 24 premier series victories for Dale Earnhardt, Inc., the race team founded by seven-time champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt. The month before Truex's Dover win, Dale Earnhardt Jr . announced he was leaving the race team at the end of the season. Starting with the 2009 season, DEI merged with Chip Ganassi Racing to form Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, a partnership that lasted until the end of the 2013 season. The win also came on the same day that Bill France Jr., the son NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and the father to current NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, passed away at 74. --- NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce contributed to this report FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Several cars start to check out and scatter after Daniel Suarez gets turned in the pack coming to pit road .
Nine years ago, team selected 42nd at Dover, had to share stall RELATED: Nos. 48, 51 and 1 penalized for Charlotte infractions MORE: Hendrick appeals P1 penalty The importance of a team's pit stall location isn't lost on Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team. Especially when it comes to Dover International Speedway , a fast 1-mile concrete track that has been the site of nine of Johnson's 73 wins in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. The six-time series champion has earned 19 top-10s at Dover, 15 of which came from a starting spot inside the top 10. Overall, drivers starting on the front row there have won 28 of 90 Sprint Cup races and 71 winners have come from inside the top-10 on the starting grid. A better qualifying result, and pit stall location, doesn't guarantee success, but it is one less problem for a team to deal with on race day. The order for the selection of pit stalls is based on qualifying results, with the Coors Light Pole Award winner getting first choice, and the remainder (pos. 2-43) choosing in order of their position in the starting lineup. Unless you're hit with a NASCAR penalty, which was the case this week for Johnson and the HScott Motorsports team with driver Justin Allgaier . The two teams were penalized Wednesday for receiving consecutive warnings from NASCAR for minor infractions at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 weekends. The P1-level penalty was the loss of choice in pit selection, meaning the two teams would be left with whatever pit stall locations remained after the other 41 teams had made their selections. HMS notified NASCAR officials of its intent to file an appeal on Thursday, and as a result the penalty has been deferred. No date for the appeal hearing has been announced. Now, instead of having to choose one of the last available pit stalls for Sunday's FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM), the No. 48 team's pit selection will be determined by Johnson's qualifying position in the 43-car field. Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is scheduled for Friday at the 1-mile track. Had they not appealed, it would not have been the first time Johnson and his team found themselves with a less-than-prime pit position at Dover. Before 2009, the track featured only 42 pit boxes along pit road , leaving two teams to share one pit stall. And when Johnson spun during qualifying for the spring race of 2006, his team was forced to share a pit stall with fellow driver Scott Wimmer and the Morgan-McClure Motorsports No. 4 team. Actually, they shared more than just the pit stall. Under an agreement between the two teams, Johnson's pit crew initially pitted both cars. And crew chiefs Chad Knaus (Johnson) and Chris Carrier (Wimmer) sat atop the same pit box. When pitting, whoever was higher in the running order at the time, Johnson or Wimmer, would pit first. Then the second driver would hit pit road to be serviced by the same crew. The moved ended up costing Wimmer track position when his car ran out of gas under the second caution of the race while waiting to pit. It wasn't until Hermie Sadler retired from the race after 136 laps that a pit stall opened up, allowing Wimmer and the Morgan-McClure team to move to the vacant pit box. In spite of starting at the back of the field, and going two laps down at one point in the race, Johnson was able to rebound and score a sixth-place finish. Wimmer finished 34th, four laps down. Dover added a 43rd pit stall in 2009, part of an upgrade to the facility that included widening pit road and increasing the length of each pit box by four feet. The concrete pit wall from Turn 4 to Turn 1, previously boilerplate, was also torn down and a new wall, 432 feet longer and protected by SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barrier, was installed in its place. No date has been set for the No. 48 team's appeal of the penalty for consecutive written warnings. Warnings, which are not appealable, are typically issued for minor, first-time infractions and the reason for the warnings isn't made public. Multiple warnings elevate the severity of the penalty to a P1 level and may result in one or more consequences besides the loss of choice in pit selection. Track time deduction in practice or qualifying, a delay in the order of inspection and selection for post-race inspection are among the other options NASCAR may impose. Johnson is a nine-time winner at the track and is the defending race winner. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule