Sam Hornish Jr. wants a win for RCR
RELATED: Meet the XFINITY Chase field SPARTA, Ky. – Sam Hornish may not be a threat in the NASCAR XFINITY Series inaugural Chase, but that doesn't mean the Richard Childress Racing driver isn't a concern. Saturday night's VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) officially kicks off the series' seven-race Chase. Hornish is making just his fourth start of the season, therefore he was not eligible for the 12-team Chase field. That hasn't keep him out of the winner's circle, however as he wheeled the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing to the win at Iowa. And in two subsequent starts with the No. 2 team for RCR, Hornish has finished sixth and second. He's making start No. 3 in the No. 2 Chevrolet for RCR here at Kentucky. And the 37-year-old was once again fast here Friday, clocking the third-fastest lap in each of the day's two practice sessions. Qualifying is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. ET on Saturday. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Erik Jones was quickest in both practice sessions. "It was pretty good ," Hornish said of the results at day's end. "The car started off a little bit free in the afternoon, but it was so hot. I felt like we got just a little bit behind there in the last practice but our car is good , it's got decent balance; we just need a little bit to be able to run with the JGR cars." Hornish has four top-10 finishes in five XFINITY Series starts at the 1.5-mile Kentucky track. His racing career, which includes three IndyCar championships, got a major boost here in 2000 when he finished ninth after running out of fuel late in the race. That effort opened eyes and doors, and soon his open-wheel career was off and running. His NASCAR career has included stints in Sprint Cup and the XFINITY Series; he also has one start in the Camping World Truck Series. "Right now this is the last (race) I have scheduled ... we've had a good run," he said of the RCR arrangement. "It's a good car, they've got some wins and they continue to build momentum. I'd like to go to Victory Lane for them for sure. "They're running for an owners' championship so we have to be smart about everything we do as well." JGR teammates Jones and Daniel Suarez are seeded first and third in the Chase, respectively, with veteran Elliott Sadler (JR Motorsports) wedged in between. Ty Dillon , teammate to Hornish, is seeded fourth while Justin Allgaier (JRM) is fifth. Darrell Wallace ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Brendan Gaughan (RCR), Brennan Poole ( Chip Ganassi Racing ), Ryan Sieg (RSS Racing), Ryan Reed (RFR), Brandon Jones (RCR) and Blake Koch (Kaulig Racing) round out the 12-team Chase field. "We were able to make some good gains mostly in race conditions," said Jones, who will be seeking his fifth win of the season on Saturday. "It wasn't so much that we needed the speed, we needed to find some drivability in it and I think we (did). ... "It's going to change a lot once it cools all the way down and we get into race conditions but I feel pretty good about it." Except for the number of races, the XFINITY Series Chase mirrors that of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, with three-race segments leading up to a one-race finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway .
Logano: New Hampshire win bigger than Daytona 500
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a first-person account from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano about his childhood memories attending New Hampshire Motor Speedway , as well as his successful career at his home race track. New Hampshire will host Sunday’s Sprint Cup race, the Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). I remember the first time I went to New Hampshire was in 1997, when I was seven years old. My family camped out by Turn 2, back there behind all the midway activities for the weekend. We were there for the weekend and watched the modified race, the Busch North race -- at the time that's what the K&N Pro Series East was called -- and the Sprint Cup race. My family actually still has a photo album of the trip. I got pictures of the cars when they came out and practiced. Looking back on it, I guess that really was my first memory of NASCAR racing. It's cool that I remember it, but I think everyone remembers the time you go to your first NASCAR race. One thing I remember is when I got to meet Jeff Gordon that weekend, which was awesome because I grew up a huge Jeff Gordon fan. He was leaving an appearance and I was one of those people that kind of sat there on the side, waiting for him to come out. There he was and I got a picture with him. It's funny -- I still have the picture. We talked about it and showed it on a couple of NASCAR shows last year when Jeff was doing his farewell tour. My Mom's thumb got over the lens of the camera, so it's one of those pictures with a thumb in it. My Mom got Jeff to sign the photo a couple of years back and she framed it for me with another photo of Jeff and I sitting on the pit wall before driver intros. It's a pretty cool memento and something that links one of my first memories with where I am today. To me, New Hampshire is something special. Really special. Every driver out there has their favorite track and a place that means more to them than others, even if they don’t always tell you. New Hampshire is that place for me. I guess it started when I was just a fan and I went to that race and met Jeff Gordon . Then, when I moved into driving, things still just happened there. I started my first Sprint Cup race there in the No. 96 car back in 2008. Then I won my first Sprint Cup race there the next year in the No. 20. But the most memorable moment to me was when we won there a couple of years ago in the fall race of 2014. That win was hands down the coolest win of my career. The Daytona 500 was neat. I mean who doesn't grow up wanting to be a racecar driver and not want to win the Daytona 500 ? But the New Hampshire win beats it in my opinion. I think you can start to see why. For one, it's my home track. Any win any driver gets at their home track is special. That is why my teammate Brad Keselowski wants to win at Michigan so bad. It's on every driver’s bucket list. On top of that, it was the most challenging, most difficult track I went to as a driver. I sucked there. I literally did not know how to go fast. I remember one time we unloaded there and I started complaining about how bad the car was. Then, I look up and we were P1 on the board. I said, "I don't know how to do this then. I don't know what to tell you, because to me, it drives awful and we’re fast." So over time, I started figuring out that I need this and I need that, and got the car kind of feeling the way it's supposed to. I had a lot of conversations with my crew chief Todd Gordon and we've worked together to make it better. Eventually, we conquered the hardest track for me -- and my home track -- so it's all just worked out and it showed on the track. That win in 2014 was just awesome for me personally. I don't ever get out of the car at the start finish line (after a win). I just want to get to Victory Lane and celebrate with the team. But that was one of those moments where I thought: "I'm getting out of the car, I'm standing on top of it, I'm going to enjoy this moment. It's going to be hard to have a win that’s larger than that." Something else that I love about New Hampshire is the fans. They love NASCAR racing and racing in general in the Northeast. It's what got me to be a fan of the sport. I hope they grab some tickets and come out for an amazing weekend of racing when we go back up there this weekend. You go to Loudon as a New England guy and those are your people. So we try to take advantage of every situation when we're up there to look for ways to help, especially with the "Chasing Second Chances" initiative through the Joey Logano Foundation. We did our golf tournament in Connecticut with the spring race, and a lot of people were able to come to it. To me, all of this racing stuff is great and all, but it's a platform to change people's lives. I feel like it's my calling. I'm supposed to use that. It's a privilege to have that opportunity to do what you're supposed to do in this world. So, yeah, I want to win races and I want to win championships, but I want to do something more with the platform that God’s given me. So through the Joey Logano Foundation and through the Chasing Second Chances program, we're trying to give people another shot at life in the New England area who were the victims of something out of their control or just made a bad decision and are working to make their life better. In all honesty, the whole Chasing Second Chances throughout the next nine weeks (of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ) is a big deal. A lot of cool things for the next nine weeks. For more on Chasing Second Chances, click here . As told to the NASCAR Wire Service's Reid Spencer.
Sam Hornish Jr. sets track record, earns Coors Light Pole at Mid-Ohio
RELATED: Results Sam Hornish Jr . won the Coors Light Pole Award Friday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course , setting a track speed record as well. Hornish Jr. wheeled his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet around the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course in Lexington, Ohio, at a track record-setting 96.755 mph in the opening session of qualifying. In the second and final session, with a fast lap of 96.374 mph, he sealed the first starting spot in the Mid-Ohio Challenge (3:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "The fact that we're here. We're as good as we have been really is hats off to RCR and all the people that work on the Rheem No. 2 car," the polesitter said post-qualifying. "Right off the bat, this morning I was kind of worried about it being a little bit rusty. It's been a little while since I've been on a road course." This marks Hornish's eighth career pole and first of 2016. Sharing the front row will be Owen Kelly , a road specialist who reached 95.877 mph in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Ryan Blaney , (95.739 mph in No. 22 Team Penske Ford), Elliott Sadler (95.675 mph, No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) and Daniel Suarez (95.613 mph, No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) completed the top five, respectively.
Cayden Lapcevich overcomes hurdles, hardship to break Joey Logano's record
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- At just 16 years old, NASCAR Pinty's Series driver Cayden Lapcevich has already broken a record set by Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano . In 18 starts, the Ontario (Canada) native has become the youngest driver to win a NASCAR series championship, beating out Logano's previous K&N Pro Series East record of 17 years old set in 2007. But it wasn't without trial, tribulation and a dose of his mother's trust. In 2015, Lapcevich put up one top-five and three top-10 finishes in six starts, but come 2016, he found himself down a major sponsor and in need of a team. "We lost that motivation at one point to even go down to the race shop because we just couldn't see ourselves making it out this year," Lapcevich told NASCAR.com. "But I finally was able to convince my mom that I would work on the cars and do it all myself and she was just like, 'If you and your dad can prepare it, we'll do it.' "But even once we had the car prepared, she second-guessed herself. But I don't think she's second-guessing herself anymore. I think she realizes that she made the right decision by letting me go to the first race. "It was hard to get to the first race with very minimal funding, but I'm glad we made the first race because it's led to so much." Lapcevich is a third-generation driver and the son of an electrical contractor. His dad also doubles as his crew chief for the No. 76 Dodge. "I've always looked up to my dad because he's taught me everything I know about racing," Lapcevich said. "He's made me an all-around better race car driver. "Even last year when we had the funding to pay someone (to be my crew chief), as good as it was to have someone so knowledgeable, it didn't feel comfortable not having my dad as my crew chief because he's been my crew chief my whole life. He's always been my driving coach and we just connect so well. I think it's a dream that every driver has." With his dad in his ear and his mother's faith resting on his shoulders, Lapcevich began to build a race team -- a volunteer race team, at that. "A couple of the (pit crew) guys have been around (the sport) for 25 years, plus," Lapcevich said. "They just show the same dedication and passion to the sport that I do and that my dad did and we all want to go out and win. I think that's what keeps the guys that volunteer interested. They want to see what's next and they want to be a part of that." Lapcevich and his team won three Pinty's Series races this season, clinching the 2016 title after taking the green flag on Sunday at Kawartha Speedway. With a championship -- along with a fresh driver's license -- Lapcevich looks ahead to what the future could hold for a record breaker. "Hopefully (next season) brings me down south," Lapcevich said. "I'm hoping that something big comes up and we can put together a ride in K&N or make a few ( Camping World Truck ) starts, but we'll see. I'm still trying to let the championship sink in. "I'd like to see myself in the Sprint Cup Series or racing XFINITY full-time. I've set up some quality goals and I'm trying to chase those goals." As Lapcevich continues to grow and strives to fulfill his racing dream, he keeps in mind the drivers who have also come from similar beginnings. "I look up to guys that started in quarter midgits, like me," Lapcevich said. "Guys like Joey Logano or Ryan Blaney . They've just inspired me knowing that you can come from that starting point and make it to the top. "Also breaking Joey Logano 's record as the youngest champion gives me hope that we're headed in the right direction here." While he admires Logano, ask this teenager who he has winning this 2016 Sprint Cup Series title and his answer has some roots. "I'd like to see Martin Truex Jr . win it all because he's been really consistent this year and he's got Canadian crew chief Cole Pearn who used to race with my dad, so it's really cool to see him climbing the ranks." Hear that, Logano? This kid is breaking your records and picking against you (let it be known, Lapcevich does predict the No. 22 Team Penske driver will make it to the Championship Round). Next thing you know, he could be in your rearview mirror, Joey.
Hornish spin collects Allgaier
Sam Hornish Jr. spins off Turn 2, collecting Chase driver Justin Allgaier, who had nowhere to go.
Kyle Busch surprises fan with autograph on RV
Kyle Busch and his wife Samantha are seriously doing the most good . After all, it wasn't too long ago that the couple was pulling alongside Kyle Busch fans in traffic just to make their day. Now, take a look at what the pair got themselves into on Saturday evening when a wreck ended Busch's run in the XFINITY Series race early. Samantha shared a video on Twitter of the 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion climbing the tires of an RV just to sign the No. 18 logo that was sprawled across the side. "They're not home right now, but they'll have quite a surprise when they come back," Samantha says of the RV owners in the video post. These Kyle fans are going to be pretty happy when they come back pic.twitter.com/MVl0NG8fQu — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) August 6, 2016
The Southern 500 through an 8mm camera lens
Take a look back at the 2016 Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway through the lens of a 1970s 8mm film camera.
NASCAR Foundation to donate $1 million to NYU Langone Medical Center
NEW YORK -- The NASCAR Foundation will donate $1 million to NYU Langone Medical Center, as part of a multi-year partnership to benefit hospitalized children. Through this partnership, The NASCAR Foundation will enhance the Child Life Program at the Hassenfeld Children's Hospital of New York at NYU Langone. The partnership will be commemorated at the first-ever NASCAR Foundation Honors Gala taking place at The Marriott Marquis in New York on Sept. 27. This is The NASCAR Foundation's first multi-year partnership with a New York area hospital and marks its commitment to reach more kids nationally. NASCAR’s charitable arm has donated $25 million and impacted more than one million children since its inception in 2006. "This is an important partnership for The NASCAR Foundation," said NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton. "The work being done by the NYU Langone Medical Center is changing lives, each and every day. The NASCAR Foundation is proud to have an opportunity to support that important work and expand our commitment to improving the lives of children in need." Through this partnership, the Child Life Program will ease the anxiety of children and their families during their hospital stay, which is essential to recovery. The NASCAR Foundation will support an enhanced child and family experience, fund two Child Life specialists, and provide resources, equipment and supplies to complement the wide-range of supportive and therapeutic activities currently offered at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at no charge to patients. This marks an expansion of The NASCAR Foundation's commitment to supporting children with Child Life programming as part of its signature Speediatrics program, which has provided more than 500 ,000 children with state-of-the-art medical care. "As leaders in the field of pediatrics, we're proud to partner with The NASCAR Foundation whose generous philanthropic support provides extensive and meaningful programs to help children and their families," said Catherine S. Manno, MD, the Pat and John Rosenwald Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone. "This sponsorship, in concert with our Sala Institute for Child and Family Centered Care, will strengthen our national exemplar model of care for children and their families." The NASCAR Foundation Honors Gala, which was planned to celebrate "10 Years of Giving," has taken on additional significance following the unexpected passing of its Founder and Chairwoman Emeritus Betty Jane France last month. The Gala will be a tribute to Betty Jane France's life and is being hosted by the France family including NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France (son) and his wife Amy France, International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy (daughter) and NASCAR Vice Chairman and International Speedway Corporation Chairman Jim France (brother-in-law). At the Honors Gala, various awards will be bestowed, including: -- Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award presented by Nationwide : One of four finalists will be announced as the winner following a fan vote which has taken place since July 13. The NASCAR Foundation will donate a total of $175,000 to the charities represented by the finalists -- with the winner's charity receiving a $100,000 donation. This year's finalists include Jim Giaccone of Bayville, New York, representing Tuesday's Children; Andy Hoffman of Atkinson, Nebraska, founder of the Team Jack Foundation; Logan Houptley of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a founding member of Mikayla's Voice; and Parker White of Greensboro, North Carolina, founder of BackPack Beginnings. Since the award's inception, nearly $900,000 has been contributed to charities represented by the finalists . -- Children's Champion Award: Dr. Howard B. Ginsburg : The William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Associate Professor of Pediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, and Division Chief, Pediatric Surgery at NYU Langone, will receive the award recognizing his commitment to children. -- Founder's Award: NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus will receive the award recognizing his contributions to philanthropy. The Honors Gala will be headlined by Grammy® and Tony® nominated singer Sara Bareilles . The following NASCAR champions and rising stars will be in attendance: six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson , seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Richard Petty , reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch , NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace, two-time NASCAR XFINITY Series Champions Martin Truex Jr . and Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., Danica Patrick , Kyle Larson , Kasey Kahne , Ben Kennedy and Julia Landauer. This event builds on NASCAR's long history in New York. The racing organization opened its first office in Manhattan in 1996 and is based out of the newly renovated New York headquarters at 590 Madison Avenue. This partnership also marks further collaboration between NYU and NASCAR. In March, Brian France participated in NYU's first Social Responsibility of Sports Conference where he pledged NASCAR's support to improve social responsibility in sports. For ticket information or table sponsorships, please visit www.nascarfoundation.org/honors-gala .
Kenseth: 'I feel like we can definitely get it together'
RELATED: Chase Grid CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The last two times NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series has competed at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , Matt Kenseth has come away with the win. In fact, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has won three of the last six Sprint Cup events at the 1.058-mile track located in Loudon, New Hampshire. Maybe that makes him one of the favorites heading into this weekend's race but Kenseth isn't taking anything for granted. The Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is the second race of this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the second of three in the opening Round of 16. "You never know until you get there but we ran really well in July," Kenseth, 44, told NASCAR.com Wednesday. "We ran really well last fall, too. Probably could have run second or third, ended up getting by (teammate) Denny (Hamlin) there at the end and Kevin (Harvick) ran out of gas. "We've had really good cars there since I've been (at) JGR. It used to be a track that I sort of dreaded … but the last three years it's been pretty good ." Kenseth won twice during the 26-race regular season to qualify for one of the 16 Chase positions but had to rally for a ninth-place finish a week ago in the Chase opener at Chicagoland. Misfortune struck the 2003 series champion twice, leaving him scrambling to regain lost track position. "I can't say we weren't good ," Kenseth said. "We started seventh … we pit under green and the caution came out … and that really got us behind. I had just gotten back to maybe the top 10 again … and I sped on pit road. "So that put us in the back again. Really we just fought most of the day trying to get back our track position. I really felt like we had a pretty good car … I don't know why, but for me it was just incredibly hard to pass." Kenseth has failed to qualify for only one Chase, in 2009. Six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson is the only active driver with more Chase appearances. But while all of Johnson's titles have come since the debut of the Chase in '04, Kenseth has yet to solve the riddle of the 10-race playoff. In the two years the Chase has featured an elimination format, he's failed to advance to the Championship Four. "There's not a magic formula besides beating the rest of the cars because you just don't know what the others are going to do," he said. "It's definitely different. One thing I really learned is that it's unpredictable. You don't know what’s going to happen. You've got to get that finish every week and not make mistakes." While he said he doesn’t feel as if his No. 20 team is running as good or getting the consistent finishes it was at this point a year ago, Kenseth said he's confident his group will continue to contend. "I feel like our equipment is just as good or better than it was last year," he said, "so I feel like we can definitely get it together."
Harvick knows what to do when backed into corner
RELATED: Chase bubble heading into Loudon One race into NASCAR's 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the championship standings are thoroughly scrambled and causing double-takes. Some favorites are shaking their heads and some long shots are thanking their lucky stars. But as rough as stomaching a 20th-place finish in the Chicago opener was for the regular-season points leader Kevin Harvick , there is still every reason to believe it could just provide a more dramatic backdrop for another championship run. Harvick finished 42nd in the Chicago race last year and still advanced to the final round of drivers competing for the big trophy at Miami. In fact, the 2014 Sprint Cup champion Harvick is the only driver who has advanced to the final round in both seasons of the new Chase format. Obviously, his Stewart-Haas Racing team feels urgency to get back on track this weekend in New Hampshire. Harvick is ranked 14th -- a single point behind his team owner Tony Stewart in the 12th and final position to advance in two weeks. But this group knows it can restore its title run, having crawled out of a deeper hole last fall and still finishing runner-up in the championship. It's a steely, forward-focus mindset that has served the intensely competitive Harvick well. "It's something we pride ourselves in," Harvick said this week. "I think the pressure situations have been very good for us. As you look at the past two years -- winning the championship and finishing second and getting to Homestead twice -- it kind of shows the grit and backbone of our team and how well they've dealt with those situations. "That experience definitely pays dividends every year when you go in. I think we were a little too ramped up, or at least I was, to start the Chase last year. There's definitely a strategy to how you approach situations and how you approach the end. I think, having dealt with that in the past, that it's a good thing for us." Harvick's track record at New Hampshire is impressive, if not A-plus. He won a race from the pole position in 2006, has led 698 total laps on the 1.058-mile track and never had a DNF. He's had top-four finishes in three of the last four races in New Hampshire and was fourth there in July. While some consider the track to be a unique wild card, Harvick insists it's of equal challenge as the rest of the schedule. "I don't think Loudon is really any different than any other racetrack," Harvick said. "It's just circumstances that can crop up at really any racetrack throughout the Chase. ... If you're having a bad day, you know it can result in a bad day. You just have to overcome that and try to get yourself out of the hole." That is something Harvick has done well in the past, and it's his overall standing in Sprint Cup competition that is more indicative of his potential than last week's circumstantial disappointment. He accumulated the most regular-season points of anyone. He leads the series in 11 different categories, including top fives (13), top 10s (21), driver rating (109.1) and average finish (8.9). He has four runner-up finishes this season, including Charlotte and Kansas, where the series returns during the Chase. Since 2014, Harvick and his crew chief Rodney Childers have a series-best 33 top-two finishes, 10 of those wins. That translates into 33.7 percent of all the races in that time frame. The disappointing outcome at Chicago can be viewed as both an anomaly and a motivator. There is no way Harvick's competition is writing him off. In fact, they are probably more worried when he is more driven. "You just have to be selfish," Harvick said after the Richmond regular-season finale. "You have to do what's best for your team, worry about the consequences when all the dust settles, and you have to be narrow minded, not listen to anything, and do whatever it takes to figure out how to make the best performance on that particular day because every point matters. "This is a minute-by-minute battle." And Harvick knows time is ticking for the 4-team. MORE: Is Harvick a good fantasy play this week?