Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. react after a thrilling conclusion in Phoenix.
RELATED: Darlington's throwback paint schemes Some people might call it sky blue or even Carolina blue, but in racing it's Petty Blue, and with Day-Glo Red and white it creates the iconic No. 43 paint scheme that will dress up Aric Almirola 's No. 43 STP Ford for the Sept. 6 Bojangles' Southern 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Almirola's throwback paint scheme honors Richard Petty's 1972 Plymouth Roadrunner, the first time The King's car featured sponsor STP with the Petty Blue and Day-Glo Red on the quarter panels. "STP has been a proud partner of Richard Petty for nearly 44 years now, and all of that started with this 1972 paint scheme," said Jamie Kistner, vice president of marketing for STP. "To be able to bring that first year back to the track through this paint scheme and with Aric Almirola has been a lot of fun and has brought back some great memories of STP's storied history in NASCAR for our fans. Darlington Raceway is hosting a great throwback event that's produced a lot of excitement and we're honored to be a part of it." STP Racing announced the throwback paint scheme on Twitter with a video honoring the No. 43's history and showing the painting of the Darlington car. Petty, a seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, raced with the STP logo on the hood of his No. 43 car for 21 years. The King has 200 career wins, and 60 of them came with STP aboard. "It will be neat to see the car that started our partnership with STP 43 years ago back on track at Darlington," said Petty. "It will be fun to see all the throwback schemes racing at Darlington and on Labor Day Weekend. It just feels right to have the Southern 500 back to Labor Day Weekend and is fitting that we celebrate tradition there with throwback paint schemes." Several members of the 1972 championship-winning team will be with Richard Petty Motorsports at Darlington: crew chief Dale Inman, as well as crew members Richie Barsz, fabricator; Tex Powell, mechanic and jackman; Les Barsz, mechanic and transporter driver; Billy Biscoe, mechanic and gas man; Jimmy "Zoomer" Kovalchik, fabricator and tire carrier; and Barry Dodson, painter. MORE: Hall of Fame driver Labonte to be grand marshal for race
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 17, 2015) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee going into the IRWIN Tools Night Race on August 22 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). BRISTOL-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 CHEEZ-It Ford) · Six top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.667, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 13.535, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 92.3, eighth-best · 334 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.708, ninth-fastest · 7246 Laps in the Top 15 (68.8), fourth-most · 588 Quality Passes, fifth-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 SKITTLES Toyota) · Five wins, eight top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.150, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 13.724, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 100.0, third-best · 610 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.791, fifth-fastest · 6344 Laps in the Top 15 (63.3), ninth-most · 498 Quality Passes, eighth-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Five wins, eight top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.952, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 13.572, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 92.6, sixth-best · 408 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.765, sixth-fastest · 6859 Laps in the Top 15 (65.2), seventh-most · 633 Quality Passes, third-most Dale Earnhardt Jr (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) · One win, seven top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 12.095, third-best · Average Running Position of 14.977, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 87.2, 13th-best · 249 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.720, eighth-fastest · 6071 Laps in the Top 15 (57.7), 11th-most · 539 Quality Passes, sixth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 STANLEY Toyota) · Three wins, five top fives, nine top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 14.333, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 13.977, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 90.6, 10th-best · 443 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.690, 10th-fastest · 7012 Laps in the Top 15 (66.6), sixth-most · 489 Quality Passes, 10th-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet) · Five wins, 17 top fives, 25 top 10s; five poles · Average finish of 12.333, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 9.954, second-best · Driver Rating of 100.3, second-best · 455 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.905, third-fastest · 8324 Laps in the Top 15 (79.1), second-most · 662 Quality Passes, second-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) · One win, four top fives, eight top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.368, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 16.077, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 87.9, 12th-best · 399 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.675, 11th-fastest · 5373 Laps in the Top 15 (56.4), 13th-most · 461 Quality Passes, 11th-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet) · One win, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.143, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 13.038, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 92.5, seventh-best · 460 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.874, fourth-fastest · 6742 Laps in the Top 15 (64.0), eighth-most · 527 Quality Passes, seventh-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet) · One win, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.143, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 13.356, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 92.3, ninth-best · 549 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.634, 12th-fastest · 7069 Laps in the Top 15 (67.2), fifth-most · 496 Quality Passes, ninth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet) · One win, five top fives, ten top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.476, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 16.578, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 88.1, 11th-best · 474 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.618, 13th-fastest · 5948 Laps in the Top 15 (56.5), 12th-most · 616 Quality Passes, fourth-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Four wins, 13 top fives, 20 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 11.333, second-best · Average Running Position of 9.821, series-best · Driver Rating of 104.6, series-best · 582 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.981, second-fastest · 8699 Laps in the Top 15 (82.6), series-most · 678 Quality Passes, series-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · Two wins, four top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 15.091, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 14.249, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 93.3, fifth-best · 212 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.721, seventh-fastest · 3323 Laps in the Top 15 (60.3), 10th-most · 393 Quality Passes, 12th-most Kyle Larson (No. 42 Target Chevrolet) · Two top 10s · Average finish of 9.667, series-best · Average Running Position of 11.383, third-best · Driver Rating of 99.0, fourth-best · 77 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 116.278, series-fastest · 1169 Laps in the Top 15 (77.2), third-most · 144 Quality Passes, 13th-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 10 at Bristol Motor Speedway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 21 1 1 5 6 3 17.1 92.5 2 Joey Logano 13 1 1 2 3 1 20.0 80.1 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 21 0 0 4 10 1 12.1 87.2 4 Martin Truex Jr . 19 0 0 2 2 2 20.7 80.0 5 Brad Keselowski 11 0 2 4 4 0 15.1 93.3 6 Jimmie Johnson 21 1 1 7 11 1 15.1 92.3 7 Matt Kenseth 21 2 4 9 14 2 11.3 104.6 8 Kurt Busch 21 1 1 4 9 1 16.0 92.6 9 Denny Hamlin 19 2 1 4 8 2 17.4 87.9 10 Jamie McMurray 21 0 0 2 7 1 19.1 79.5 * – Based on last 21 races at Bristol Motor Speedway (2005 – 2015). Bristol Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 24 of 36 (08-22-15) Track Size : 0.533-miles Banking/Turns 1 & 2 : 24-28 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4 : 24-28 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 4-8 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 4-8 degrees Frontstretch Length : 650 feet Backstretch Length : 650 feet Race Length : 500 laps / 266.5 miles Top 10 Active Driver Ratings at Bristol Matt Kenseth ............................. 104.6 Jeff Gordon .............................. 100.3 Kyle Busch ............................... 100.0 Kyle Larson ................................ 99.0 Brad Keselowski ......................... 93.3 Kurt Busch .................................. 92.6 Kevin Harvick .............................. 92.5 Jimmie Johnson .......................... 92.3 Greg Biffle .................................. 92.3 Carl Edwards . ............................. 90.6 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2015 races (21 total) among active drivers at Bristol Motor Speedway Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Kevin Harvick , Chevrolet 131.362 mph, 14.607 secs. 08-22-14 2014 race winner : Joey Logano , Ford 92.965 mph, (2:52:00), 08-23-14 Track qualifying record: Kevin Harvick , Chevrolet 131.362 mph, 14.607 secs. 08-22-14 Track race record: Charlie Glotzbach, Chevrolet 101.074 mph, (2:38:12), 07-11-71 At Bristol Motor Speedway: History · Groundbreaking for Bristol International Speedway, as Bristol Motor Speedway was originally known, took place in 1960. The track was an exact half-mile. · First NASCAR Sprint Cup race was July 30, 1961; Jack Smith won the event (with relief from Johnny Allen ). · All of the NSCS races have been scheduled for 500 laps, except for both races in 1976 and the second in 1977, which were 400 laps. · In the fall of 1969, the track was reshaped and re-measured to .533-miles. · The name changed to Bristol International Raceway in 1978. · The first night race was held in the fall of 1978. · The surface was changed from asphalt to concrete in 1992. · The name changed to Bristol Motor Speedway in May 1996. · The track was resurfaced between races in 2007, and the turns were ground down in 2012 to eliminate part of the progressive banking. Starts · There have been 109 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Bristol Motor Speedway since the first race in 1961, two races each season. · 436 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol; 304 in more than one. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Bristol with 60. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 45 starts. · Jeff Gordon leads (active drivers) the series in average starting position at Bristol with a 7.667. · Ryan Newman leads the series (active drivers) with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Bristol without visiting Victory Lane at 27. · Paul Menard (16 starts) leads the series in starts with the fewest DNFs (0) at Bristol. · AJ Allmendinger made his first NASCAR Sprint Cup career start at Bristol (03/25/2007). Poles · Fred Lorenzen won the inaugural Coors Light pole with a speed of 79.225 mph in a Ford. · 48 different drivers have poles at Bristol, led by Mark Martin and Cale Yarborough with nine each. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with five. · 10 different drivers have posted consecutive poles at Bristol Motor Speedway; Mark Martin is the only of the 10 to win four consecutive poles at Bristol: Fireball Roberts (swept 1962), Fred Lorenzen (swept 1963), Richard Petty (1967-’68), Bobby Allison (swept 1972), Cale Yarborough (swept 1973; swept 1977; swept 1980), Darrell Waltrip (swept 1981), Geoff Bodine (swept 1986), Mark Martin (swept 1995-1996– all four races; and swept 2009); Rusty Wallace (swept 1998), Jeff Gordon (swept 2002) and Denny Hamlin (fall 2013, spring 2014). · Youngest Bristol pole winner: Joey Logano (3/21/2010 – 19 years, 9 months, 25 days) – his first series career pole. · Oldest Bristol pole winner: Harry Gant (8/27/1994 – 54 years, 7 months, 17 days). · Seven different drivers have posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career pole at Bristol. Joey Logano is the only active driver to win his first NSCS career pole at Bristol (03/21/2010). Wins · 42 different drivers have won at Bristol, led by Darrell Waltrip (12). Kurt Busch , Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch each have five wins, the most among active drivers. · 12 drivers have won consecutive races at Bristol led by Darrell Waltrip with seven consecutive victories from 1981-1984. The other 11 are Fred Lorenzen (1963-1964 sweep), David Pearson (1968 sweep), Bobby Allison (1972 sweep), Cale Yarborough did it twice (1974 sweep and four straight from 1976-1977), Richard Petty (1975 sweep), Dale Earnhardt also did twice (1985 sweep and 1987 sweep), Alan Kulwicki (1992 sweep), Rusty Wallace (2000 sweep), Kurt Busch (2003 sweep and 2004 spring race), Kyle Busch (2009 sweep), and Brad Keselowski (2011 fall-2012 spring). · Youngest Bristol winner: Kyle Busch (03/25/2007 – 21 years, 10 months, 23 days). · Oldest Bristol winner: Dale Earnhardt (08/28/1999 – 48 years, 3 months, 30 days). · Five drivers have posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career win at Bristol Motor Speedway: Dale Earnhardt (04/01/1979), Rusty Wallace (04/06/1986), Ernie Irvan (03/25/1990), Elliott Sadler (03/25/2001) and Kurt Busch (03/24/2002). · Junior Johnson leads the series in car owner wins at Bristol with 16; Roger Penske and Jack Roush are tied among active car owners for the most wins at Bristol with 11 each. · The race winner has started from the pole 23 times (21.1%) - the most productive starting position. The last driver to win from the pole was Matt Kenseth earlier this season. · Five drivers have won from the pole position multiple times: Bobby Allison (1972 twice), Cale Yarborough (1973, 1977 twice, 1980), Darrell Waltrip (1981 twice, 1982), Rusty Wallace (1991, 1993, 1999, 2000) and Matt Kenseth (2005 and 2015). · 36 of the 109 (33%) races at Bristol have been won from the front row: Pole position (23 wins); second-place (13 wins). · 87 of the 109 (79.8%) races have been won from a top-10 starting position; including 54 from the first four spots. · Five of the 109 (4.5%) races have been won from a starting position outside the top 20; most recent was Dale Earnhardt Jr . in 2004 – he started 30th. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started is 38th, by Elliott Sadler in 2001. · Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Bristol; led by Chevrolet with 43 victories; followed by Ford (35), Dodge (8), Pontiac (8), Toyota (7), Buick (4), Plymouth (3) and Oldsmobile (1). · Four car numbers have produced eight or more Bristol NSCS wins: Car Number – (Number of Wins) – Most Recent Win o No. 11 - (19 wins) – Denny Hamlin , 2012 o No. 2 – (12 wins) – Brad Keselowski , 2012 o No. 17 – (eight wins) – Matt Kenseth , 2006 o No. 3 – (eight wins) – Dale Earnhardt, 1999 Additional Finishing Position Stats · Richard Petty leads the series in runner-up finishes at Bristol with 10; Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers with four. · Darrell Waltrip and Richard Petty lead the series in top-five finishes at Bristol with 26 each. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 17; followed by Matt Kenseth (13). · Richard Petty has leads the series in top-10 finishes at Bristol with 37. Jeff Gordon leads the series among active drivers in top-10 finishes with 25; followed by Matt Kenseth (20). · Ricky Stenhouse Jr . leads the series (active drivers) in average finishing position at Bristol with an 9. 200 . Track/Event Specific Stats · Nine of the last 11 races have ended with a Margi
Much like their fellow NASCAR drivers who are deservedly spending the season's final off-week relaxing on a beach or jet-setting to some exotic location, Landon Cassill and Josh Wise are using the rare downtime to travel and enjoy the scenic Austrian Alps. The difference, however, is that these two Sprint Cup drivers won't be sightseeing or taking leisurely day hikes. They will be experiencing one of the world's most beautiful regions while competing in the elite Ironman 70.3 World Championships at Zell am See-Kaprun outside Salzburg, Austria on Sunday. Their breathtaking views will be just that as they swim 1.2-miles in Lake Zell, bike 56 miles through the glacier-tipped Alps and then finish with a 13.1-mile run along the lakeshore and through the area's small villages in one of the world's most grueling and prestigious physical competitions. "When we looked at the schedule both of us had aspirations to qualify for the 70.3 or Kona (Ironman 140.6 in Hawaii)," explained Wise. "The Worlds happened to fall on our last off weekend and there was a qualifier on the next to last off weekend. "It looked like this is a once in a lifetime chance. It's a bucket list goal just to qualify, but to have opportunity to do Austria was super special and it just felt like it was meant to be." But not without a lot of work. Anyone who still dismisses the athletic ability of NASCAR drivers would have a losing argument when it comes to the training regimen of Cassill, 26, and Wise, 32, who have taken their dedication to fitness and competition to a new level. RELATED: Johnson: 'If you want to be fast, you've got to suffer' More often than not, these two drivers show up at the race track having already swam, biked or run for miles and hours before some of their competitors have even rolled out of bed. Their dedication and commitment means a 5 a.m. wake-up call even on race weekends and using a special "Swim Radar" app to find a public pool near the race track that's open early enough and will allow them to swim. They've done their laps everywhere from the small town YMCA to the pool at Ohio State University. They strategically place their long bike rides as well and that can be tricky -- both finding a safe route close to the track and "not getting lost," Wise joked. They did a 60-mile bike ride after qualifying at Indianapolis this summer and squeezed in a 20-miler between practices at Pocono. Last week at Bristol, the two swam a mile and a half and ran five miles before the night race. Cassill did his World Cup qualifier in Muncie, Ind. during NASCAR's Kentucky Speedway race weekend, flying to Muncie after the Friday night XFINITY race, competing in the 70.3-mile triathalon Saturday morning then returning to Kentucky Speedway for the Cup race that night. "That was a little test of endurance," Cassill said. "Saturday morning I got my qualifying slot and flew back and raced Saturday night (at Bristol). I felt pretty good." Both Cassill and Wise say that competitive spirit lift is an important motivation for both. Driving for small, lower-funded Sprint Cup Series teams, they are admittedly not contending for wins every week. Success in the triathalons not only is a huge fitness benefit to them both, but gives them a sense of accomplishment and success. "I think a big part of the inspiration to do this has to do with obviously with the benefit of what it does for us in the car, but for us, we drive for small teams and we don't have a chance to win every race in a car and when you're doing that for 38 weeks in a row, it can get taxing," said Cassill, the 2008 XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year who now drives the No. 40 Hillman-Smith Chevrolet in the Cup Series and the No. 01 JD Motorsports Chevy in the XFINITY Series. "This is something for us, we can control and it really just helps that confidence in the garage just to know what we're capable of with our bodies and pushing ourselves to the limit. To me, it's a confidence builder." Wise, who scored a career-best 10th at Talladega in May driving the No. 98 Ford, agreed. "It's an amazing competitive outlet," he said. "There's not a lot of things that you can do that you have so much control over. It goes back to the alarm clock. Are you going to get up and get the swim in and the running before you go to work? It's your choice. With the sport we're in, people don't realize all the external factors there are that you can't control." "When our cars aren't driving right or we're communicating with our crew in the midst of battling with someone, I feel the mental gain from the type of work we do off the track even beyond the physical. "I'm far beyond physically where I need to be, but mentally I can still continue to push myself, my body and my brain to dig deeper. When you can overcome every cell in your body shutting you down and you have to mentally force your legs to pick up and move in a run, there is a mental strength that comes from that. "I feel there's a real specificity to what we do that applies to our type of racing." The benefits go beyond just them personally. "My team has so much confidence in me that although they may not see me during the week, they don't have a doubt in their mind that I'm still working; that I’m trying to make myself the fittest race car driver, the best race car driver I can be, focused and prepared," Cassill said. "It's important because when teams are fighting for sponsorship, tough finishes the wheels can come off and you want to instill in your team that you're doing everything you can." Their pursuit is not only recognized by their team members but in the garage and bigger NASCAR community as well. While these two drivers don’t typically generate the same racing headlines as their good friend and frequent training partner, six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson , they do have his great respect -- especially with this weekend's Ironman in Austria. "My hat is off to Josh and Landon," Johnson said. "They've put in the hard work. I've watched them get very serious about it. They are both faster than me (smiling) and I'm so proud of them." All three drivers are confident that this kind of extreme cross training will be more prevalent on the starting grid in coming years. It's a visibly growing group of cyclists that join Johnson, Wise and Cassill on the bike rides during race weekend downtime or meet up at a nearby public pool for some laps. " Jimmie Johnson , in my opinion, sparked that fire by winning six championships and being the fittest driver the sport has ever seen," Cassill said. "We are in some ways just copycatting what he did. Eventually, a lot of the drivers that have the skill -- and have had the success in the past -- but aren't consistently getting the success now are going to start getting pressure from their owners and sponsors that will say they're sick of getting of their butts kicked from these fit drivers, you need to do something. "I think in the next five to 10 years you're going to see a lot more of our drivers getting fitter and fitter," Cassill continued. "I think our sport is going to go through similar transition that golf saw and I compare our sport to golf because it's a skill sport. It takes a certain skill and technique to swing a golf club and it takes a certain skill and technique to drive a race car. It doesn't necessarily take athleticism to drive a race car or hit a golf ball, but athleticism enhances that skill." This weekend Cassill and Wise will be representing their sport on a world platform and just qualifying for the world championship in the midst of a busy and demanding NASCAR season is already a huge accomplishment. "There are a lot of cyclists in the garage and people that know what's going on. I had a lot of people asking me about this weekend at the Bristol race and crew members wishing me good luck," Cassill said. "Obviously a lot of text messages from my team wishing me good luck." "I'd love to set a new PR (personal record), I feel like I try to do that at every race. But just another finish would be a win. This is a very challenging event and this is a world championship event so the competition is a lot tougher than I've competed against."
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- With 14 turns and high-speed sections, it's easy to find trouble at Road America . Journeyman driver Stanton Barrett did during Friday's opening day for the NASCAR XFINITY Series, but from an unexpected source and without ever turning a lap. Barrett, preparing for his fourth XFINITY start of the season for car owner Rick Ware, was unable to get on the track for Friday practice ahead of Saturday's Road America 180 Fired up by Johnsonville (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). There were no issues with the car; instead, a faulty lift-gate motor left the No. 17 entry trapped in the team's hauler while the crew searched for a solution. "It's one of those things, man. It's a bummer," Barrett said. "We'll get it going. We won't be out on the track, so we just have to get the car through tech (inspection) now. There's a lot of work to do." Barrett said the team spent approximately four hours wrangling with circuitry, switches and wiring in an effort to override the system. When all else failed, Barrett checked the manufacturer's label to discover that the company -- Dings Dynamics Group -- was located in Milwaukee, 60 miles south of the 4.048-mile track. The 42-year-old driver dialed the manufacturer up, saying, "It's Stanton Barrett . I drive and need some help!" From there, the company helped the team sort out the problem with the assistance of a local electrician. "Thank God, it worked great ," Barrett said. "An electrician came out and helped us bypass all the systems, too. It was really nice that we found all the resources we needed." Coors Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday at 12:15 p.m. ET (NBCSN/Live Extra).
Photo credit -- Chase Elliott 's Instagram @chaseelliott9 RELATED: Series standings At only 19 years old, Chase Elliott already has a NASCAR XFINITY Series championship, is currently contending for a second one and has a pretty sweet job lined up next year taking over the iconic No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for retiring four-time Sprint Cup Series champ Jeff Gordon . Not only has Elliott's racing career taken off, he has too -- literally -- having just earned his private pilot license on July 23. And the view from above is something he's wanted his whole life. It seems Elliott got more than the racing gene from his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott , as he has inherited the flying bug from his dad, an accomplished and avid aviator. "He's been flying a long time so I've always been around it since I was little," Elliott said of his father. "I've watched him fly for years and years and been fortunate enough to have access to his planes and sit up front and watch him fly them so I've always definitely interested in it. "It's one of those things where the more you do it, the more you become interested in it. And the more you get into it, the more intriguing it becomes. I learn something new every time I fly. "It's definitely tough to (master all the necessary lessons). A lot of things come along with it. But flying is a privilege and something you can't take lightly ever." A lot of the same traits -- discipline, smarts and dedication -- Elliott put into his burgeoning racing career he used to earn the pilot license. He actually started taking lessons while still in high school but it was such a busy time between school, racing and flying lessons that Elliott put off finishing his license until a few months ago with the support of his dad. "It's something you work hard for to achieve," Bill Elliott said. "I see so many people who have gone through a lot of the flying part and the learning curve but never went on and got their pilot licenses and they always regretted it. I told Chase, 'You need to go on and get this done.' "I'm glad he did. That's something he'll carry with him regardless of where racing takes him." The Elliotts join an impressive list of NASCAR drivers who have secured private pilot licenses including Carl Edwards , Greg Biffle , Matt Kenseth and retired drivers Mark Martin , Rusty Wallace, Cale Yarborough and Ricky Rudd. Ryan Newman 's wife Krissie flies helicopters. Similarly, Elliott figures having the ability to pilot an airplane can be as much a practicality as it is a luxury. His father helped secure him a Cessna 182 single-engine, four-seater to use and Elliott is eager to start flying to races closer than home. Last week, he flew to Bristol. He has also posted a photo of himself practicing grass landings on Instagram. "Absolutely, it's a major convenience if you need to go somewhere, you can turn a four-hour drive into an hour-and-a-half flight," Elliott said. "Time is valuable for anybody and any chance to make up time like that is great ." Elliott wasn't sure if he would fly himself to this weekend's XFINITY Series race at Road America , but he is looking forward to the stand-alone road race regardless. It's the third road course race in the last four weeks for the series and Elliott is one of the series regulars who embraces the opportunity to turn right. He is on a six-race run of top-10 finishes in his No. 9 NAPA Chevy and currently trails championship leader Chris Buescher by 23 points in the standings. He has finishes of seventh (Watkins Glen) and fifth (Mid-Ohio) in the two road races this year and finished fourth at Road America last season. "I thought last year was a good learning experience," Elliott said. "I was really pleased with Watkins Glen. I'm still learning on my end, but thought we had good cars this year and that's a big step in right direction." For Elliott, that direction is up.
Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott and Boris Said talk about their finishes in the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International.
With two laps remaining in the Great Clips 200 , points co-leader Elliott Sadler, Cole Whitt and Brendan Gaughan collide.
Money raised through innovative partnership benefits paralyzed veterans BROOKLYN, Mich. (May 29, 2015) -- Michigan International Speedway is proud to announce a partnership with Great Clips and Paralyzed Veterans of America to sponsor the June 13 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at the track, the Great Clips 250 Benefiting Paralyzed Veterans of America. This innovative partnership continues beyond race weekend. From July 1 through August 8, Great Clips patrons throughout Michigan, Northern Ohio and Northern Indiana will receive a $2 coupon toward a haircut with every $4 donated to Paralyzed Veterans of America. Patrons receive $1 voucher for a haircut with every $2 donation to Paralyzed Veterans of America. While Great Clips has had a presence in NASCAR for years, this marks the first time the organization has sponsored a race at NASCAR's fastest track. As title sponsor, Great Clips will market its brand through television, radio, print and social mediums on a nationwide scale, all while benefiting paralyzed veterans. "It's special to work with two organizations who tirelessly support our nation's precious veterans," speedway President Roger Curtis said. "We're thrilled to help promote Great Clips and the work Paralyzed Veterans of America does by welcoming them by introducing them to the most brand loyal and giving fans in all of sports." Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For nearly 70 years, Paralyzed veterans of America has ensured veterans receive the benefits earned through their service to our nation, monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis. As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation, and advocates for veterans and all people with disabilities. With more than 70 offices and 34 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families, and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. "We are excited to expand our involvement in motorsports as the beneficiary of the Great Clips 250," Paralyzed Veterans National President Al Kovach, Jr. said. "Paralyzed Veterans has a rich history in Motorsports and partnering with Great Clips allows us to continue sharing our mission with so many loyal race fans, donors and veterans. We offer a special thanks to Great Clips Racing and Michigan International Speedway for supporting our ongoing fight for disabled veterans and their families." " Great Clips is proud to contribute our time, talents and resources to a variety of great causes including this partnership with Michigan International Speedway for the Great Clips 250 benefiting Paralyzed Veterans of America ," Great Clips Senior Manager of Marketing Strategy and Analysis Dave Randall. "We look forward to an exciting weekend of racing. It's gonna be great !" Great Clips , Inc. was established in 1982 in Minneapolis. Today, Great Clips has more than 3,700 salons throughout the United States and Canada, making it the world's largest salon brand. Great Clips salons employ nearly 35,000 stylists who receive ongoing training to learn the Great Clips system and advanced technical skills. Make Great Clips your choice for value-priced, high-quality haircare for men, women and children. No appointments are needed, and salons are open nights and weekends. And it's more convenient than ever with Great Clips' Online Check-In and Clip Notes®. To check in online, visit GreatClips.com or download the app for Android and iPhone. For more information about Great Clips , Inc. or to find a location near you, visit GreatClips.com . Nestled in the lush Irish Hills of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan International Speedway is the Great Escape, a venerable NASCAR national park where fans can get away and enjoy the very best in racing and camaraderie. It's the love of racing and the thrill of a great time for race fans and drivers alike. Tickets are on sale at http://www.MISpeedway.com or by phone at 800-354-1010. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
MORE: Buy tickets for Darlington SHOP: Darlington gear " Dale Jr. Valvoline gear DARLINGTON, S.C. -- One of the former drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr . has said he respected as a youngster was NASCAR Hall of Fame member and three-time premier series champion Cale Yarborough. When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Darlington for this year’s Bojangles' Southern 500 , scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 6 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), Earnhardt and his Hendrick Motorsports team will pay homage to the five-time winner of the series’ oldest superspeedway event. Earnhardt's No. 88 Chevrolet will feature a paint scheme reminiscent of the Valvoline look run by Yarborough in 1981-82 while competing for car owner M.C. Anderson. It will also honor others who ran the familiar red, blue and white colors such as Buddy Baker and Neil Bonnett. The endeavor is part of Darlington Raceway's throwback celebration surrounding the return of the Bojangles' Southern 500 to the Labor Day weekend race date, as well as a kick-off for Valvoline's upcoming Legacy celebration of the brand's 150th anniversary next season. RELATED: See more throwback paint schemes for Darlington "I've always been a fan of Cale's and the car that we run on the Sprint Cup side right now with the Nationwide colors is sort of inspired by his 1977 paint scheme," Earnhardt Jr. said during a recent video shoot at the legendary facility. "I admired his style and how he approached driving, definitely admired the accomplishments he had in the sport." Earnhardt, Yarborough and former championship-winning crew chief Ray Evernham took part in the day-long process at the 1.366-mile track. Yarborough, inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2012, was the first driver to win three consecutive premier series titles. He is sixth on the all-time win list with 83 career victories. Earnhardt was involved in the development of the car's paint scheme as well as his fire suit, which also pays tribute to the former drivers that sported Valvoline colors. Even the shoes to be worn by Earnhardt have a throwback tie-in, specifically to those used by Yarborough. "The suit is just like his," said Earnhardt. "And he had this (blue) color shoes. There's a picture of him with his car at Daytona in the grass before the 500 and he's wearing Carolina blue (shoes) -- he doesn't call 'em Carolina blue, being from Timmonsville -- but they sort of match this part of the V (in the Valvoline logo); I think that's what they were going for." RELATED: Junior shares influence on Michigan look Valvoline has been a major associate sponsor of Hendrick Motorsports , which fields four full-time entries in the Sprint Cup Series, since 2014. Next month's race will be its first as a primary sponsor since aligning with Hendrick, but it has a deep history in auto racing. "A lot of it came together, actually, at the urging of Dale," Jamal Muashsher, Director Brand Marketing for Valvoline, said of the program. "He obviously knows the history of the brand and the legacy that Valvoline has had in the sport. He approached us about trying to come back with a paint scheme, especially with this special race that Darlington has coming up next month. "Obviously we were very interested. It was a great opportunity … as we get ready for our 150th anniversary. It's a great way to celebrate our history as well as pay homage to the legacy of the brand over that time." According to Muashsher, the special paint scheme will be just one part of the program celebrating the company’s rich auto racing history. A series of videos featuring Earnhardt, Yarborough and three-time championship winning crew chief Ray Evernham will be located on the Valvoline YouTube channel. Limited-edition die-casts of the No. 88 Chevrolet entry featuring the paint scheme will be available in participating Walmart stores beginning Aug. 31. "There is a lot of great history there," Muashsher said, "and a lot of great imagery from an amazing group of drivers that Valvoline has had the opportunity to work with." Yarborough said his association with Valvoline actually began in 1966, when he competed in the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. RELATED: Learn more about Cale Yarborough "When I came back to NASCAR, I brought them with me," he said. "They were a part of my career for almost the entire time. They were a good company to work with, good people and a good product and I just enjoyed my association with them. "It's an honor to have Dale Jr. driving the Valvoline car." Earnhardt said initial talks about Valvoline coming on board as a primary sponsor began late last season. The announcement of the Darlington throwback program was a bonus that helped put the idea on the fast track. "The car looks great and it's awesome to be able to include Cale," Earnhardt said. "I hope that he is enjoying being a part of it. "It's good to have Ray here. He's sort of the glue that holds it all together. … It's been fun. I've been really surprised that this came together so well." Photo credit: Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s Twitter account, @DaleJr