Edwards tops Sprint Cup session, C. Buescher and Kenseth pace NNS practices RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice 1 " Results Carl Edwards topped the opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Edwards posted a speed of 192.855 mph on his first lap at the Georgia track. The Roush Fenway Racing driver has earned three wins at the track, the most recent coming in 2008. Ryan Newman had the second-fastest speed at 191.628 mph. Marcos Ambrose (191.417 mph), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (191.199 mph) and rookie Kyle Larson (191.113 mph) rounded out the top five on the leaderboard. Defending race champion Kyle Busch circled the track at a top speed of 186.297 mph putting him at 31st on the speed chart. Tony Stewart , who returned to his No. 14 Chevrolet for the first time since the tragic sprint car accident that claimed the life of Kevin Ward Jr., posted a speed of 189.642 mph for 10th place. Stewart hasn't run at Atlanta since 2012 due to missing last year's race with a broken leg. There will be two more practice sessions for the Sprint Cup Series on Saturday. A 50-minute session will start at 3 p.m. ET and final practice will also run 50 minutes and begin at 6 p.m. ET. Both sessions will be televised on FOX Sports 2. NASCAR Nationwide Series practice 1 " Results Chris Buescher set the pace in opening practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway . The Roush Fenway Racing driver posted a top speed of 177.880 mph on his first lap of the first session. Buescher finished 13th last year in his only start at Atlanta. Buescher earned his first Nationwide Series win earlier this season at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course . Coming in second-fastest was Sprint Cup Series veteran Matt Kenseth at 177.357 mph. Rookie Ty Dillon , (176.313 mph), Sprint Cup regular Kyle Busch (175.927 mph) and Joey Logano (175.743 mph) completed the top five on the leaderboard. Defending race champion and Sprint Cup Series veteran Kevin Harvick came in as eighth-fastest, as he rounded the track at 175.354 mph. The practice had one caution flag in the closing minutes for debris in Turn 4. NASCAR Nationwide Series practice 2 " Results Matt Kenseth closed out Friday's Nationwide Series practices for Saturday's Great Clips 300 benefitting Feed the Children with the fastest lap of 177.738 mph. The Sprint Cup Series veteran was second-fastest in the opening practice earlier in the day. Ty Dillon came in as second-fastest at 176.201 mph. Dillon will make his Sprint Cup Series debut on Sunday at Atlanta for the Oral-B USA 500. Completing the top five on the leaderboard was Joey Logano (176.173 mph), Nationwide Series points leader and rookie Chase Elliott (175.755 mph) and Chris Buescher, who led opening practice (175.171 mph). There was just one caution that came at the start of practice for debris in Turn 4. The Nationwide Series returns to the track on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. ET for the Coors Light Pole Qualifying with TV coverage on FOX Sports 2. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
RELATED: See how Blaney won at Kentucky On the surface, it's a bit of an unorthodox NASCAR schedule for Ryan Blaney . The 21-year-old is running part-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Wood Brothers Racing in the No. 21 Ford and the NASCAR XFINITY Series with Team Penske in the No. 22 Ford, all while making a handful of starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Brad Keselowski Racing in the No. 29 Ford. "By the time all the races are added up, it's almost a full schedule," Blaney told NASCAR.com last weekend at Kentucky Speedway . "It has its positives and negatives to be running part-time in everything. The great thing is I get to run three great series with amazing race teams that I know will go out and have a fast car or truck every weekend or every time I get in them. Those are big positives that I can drive different things every single week." And the negatives? "It's hard to get in a rhythm of running the same car, so that's kind of tough," Blaney said. "That takes myself and the team time to get back acclimated to the driver and me to the race car. It has its ups and downs, but I'm fortunate to be with three great race teams and be able to do what we love and be competitive." Blaney did not have trouble finding a rhythm as he wheeled the No. 22 Ford to Victory Lane in the XFINITY Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway . He led a race-high 81 laps and used a strong restart on a green-white-checkered finish to take home the win. The victory was the second time in three years that Team Penske has swept the season's two Kentucky XFINITY races. "Honestly, I've never seen a team be so dominant at a race track," Blaney said after the win. "It feels like every time we come here, the 22 car is one of the favorites to win and usually does it." Greg Erwin, the No. 22 team's crew chief, has noticed Blaney's growth firsthand since seeing him in 2013. In addition to the Kentucky win, Erwin and Blaney teamed up for a win in August at Iowa Speedway . "He's certainly a little more polished," Erwin noted of Blaney's development as a driver. "I think his communication is a little more precise. I think his confidence is certainly high and I think he's got the talent, certainly that it takes, and the rest of that will come with time behind a steering wheel. That's the hardest thing right now I think, is jumping in, running in all three series and getting as much time on the race track as he can." In his young career, Blaney has four wins each in the XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series. And in his first part-time Sprint Cup Series season, he scored his best Sprint Cup finish in May at Talladega with a fourth-place result. His Wood Brothers No. 21 team has had speed, but qualifying rainouts have been the bugaboo. RELATED: Blaney discusses 'very frustrating' Cup qualifying rainouts Along the way to becoming a rising young talent in the sport, Blaney has had some guidance, namely from his dad, Dave, as well as 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski . "Brad's been one of the biggest mentors for me right after my dad," Blaney said of Keselowski's impact on his career. "He gave me an opportunity in 2012 to drive his trucks for him and I did that for a couple years, which opened the doors at Penske and it opened the doors at the Wood Brothers. He's kind of been the main guy that’s started me off in my career getting racing in the top three series and I can't thank him enough for that. He's taught me so much on the race track, off the race track. He's been really helpful to me. "Brad's a unique teacher. To be able to drive for him has been really cool too, because you can kind of see the owner in him. And then when he would drive the other truck sometimes and I could race against him that was really, really neat. ... You'd ask him a question and he'd give you part of an answer and then you would kind of have to figure the rest of it out, and I really liked that. It's kind of the way my dad did it. "He's obviously one of the smartest racers out there, I feel like, when it comes to strategy and always thinking inside the car. That's something I've tried to take from him. ... Not only on the racing side, just thinking of other things too, whether it's underneath the car to try to make it faster, things like that." Dave Blaney , a veteran of 473 Sprint Cup Series starts and the 1995 World of Outlaws Champion, has impacted his son's career as well. Ryan credits his dad with teaching him a lesson that has become invaluable to him with extended seat time and longer races in the Sprint Cup Series. "Patience is one of the biggest things in racing, especially now that I've gotten started doing some Cup stuff," Ryan Blaney said. "Five-hundred-mile races, one 600-miler that we do ... those are long races. A lot longer than Truck and XFINITY races and that's really been a big learning curve for me of how you have so many opportunities to work on your race car and you have to be really precise with how you change things. "That was the biggest change to me. Running Trucks for a couple of years, the races are so short. You only have a couple of chances to work on your truck, so you take huge swings. In the Cup car, you can't really do that, you have to take littler steps and kind of fine-tune things. That was one of the biggest things he taught me early and now I'm kind of figuring it out for myself." And with silly season talk running rampant throughout the garage and in the media, Blaney remains focused on finishing out 2015 strong. With a Kentucky win in his pocket, Blaney is on the entry list for Saturday's XFINITY Series Hisense 200 at Dover International Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "Honestly, we'd like to do more races but that's a lot easier said than done," he said. "I think the best thing we can do is try to focus on winning races in this 22 car, try to bring home a (owner's) championship (in XFINITY ) and finishing out the season strong with the Wood Brothers is going to be really big for our cause. We're working on it. Hopefully, we will know something soon."
Meet Kim, Official NASCAR Fan Council member of the month Name: Kim Current City: Hayward, California Member since: 2012 Getting to know Kim Q. Why did you join the Official NASCAR Fan Council? "I was impressed that NASCAR wanted to hear the opinions of the fans. Can't think of another sport that cares so much about their fan base." Q. What comes to mind when you think of NASCAR? What's your favorite NASCAR memory? "Anticipation! I start getting excited two days before the race. My favorite memory is reaching the top of the grandstands at Charlotte in May of 2008 and seeing, hearing and feeling my first Cup car as it flew past me. It. Was. AWESOME! It cemented my love of the sport right then and there -- the 2008 All-Star race was my very first race!" Q: Do you have a favorite in any of the following categories? Driver: " Kasey Kahne " Track: " Sonoma " Memorabilia: "I have an entire room devoted to NASCAR. As Kasey Kahne won the first two races I attended (2008 All-Star Race, 2009 Sonoma race), my favorite memorabilia are the framed photos from those events. Not to mention the photos I have with both Kasey and Kenny Francis (who I adore!)." Q: If you could go to any NASCAR race/track, where would you go? "I've been to Charlotte, Talladega and Sonoma . I'd like to make it to the Daytona 500 one day!" Q: What do you like to do in your free time? "I read, crochet and keep up on NASCAR gossip. I'm also a HUGE Doctor Who fan." Q: Tell us about your family. Do you have children and/or pets? "I've been married to my husband, John, for 37 years. I have three adult children -- Lillian is a teacher, Kendall is an attorney and my youngest, Rebecca, is an RN. Right now we have 6 cats and an elderly dog!" Q: What's your dream car? "A Chevy truck!" From all of us at NASCAR, we thank Kim for Her continued support and look forward to hearing from her in 2015! Look for Kim on the Official NASCAR Fan Council page on NASCAR.COM.
RELATED: Stewart through the years Watching Tony Stewart as he announced his plans to step out of full-time NASCAR competition in 2017 reminded me a whole lot of the Tony Stewart I first met in 1996 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway , a driver who always made the racing beat a little more interesting and lot more entertaining for the last two decades. On the track and off it. Stewart, 44, was cutting up, smiling and relaxed Wednesday afternoon sharing his news and holding court in front of a room of reporters -- easing at times, but sincere and authentic. His larger-than-life persona has always been in proportion with his talent. Like a lot of people, I have mixed emotions about not watching him race every week, but they are trumped by the idea that Stewart could now exhale and be at peace. He seems very much so. And he deserves it. I'd spoken with him in previous months about the possibility of his "don't call it retirement." He bounced the idea off plenty of people and admitted that most tried to talk him out of it. I noticed that Stewart was especially chipper last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , and after the race was feisty like I had long known him to be. He was smiling a lot more. There was a definite good vibe. Clearly, he was ready to make this career-impacting announcement -- to move on, not aside. RELATED: Stewart: 'Deep down you know when it's time' It's the rare exception that a racing driver possesses the talent of his heroes, and in Stewart's case, he also shares a good bit of their personality. He loved racing against Dale Earnhardt, who loved racing against Tony Stewart . And he took A.J. Foyt's famed No. 14 for his own Chevy when he moved to Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart is deservedly and fittingly compared to those two legends in his racing accomplishments, and in what has become a time of polish, politeness and political correctness, there will probably not be another so similar out of the driver's seat, either. Sometimes, Stewart's temperament -- the sarcastic interviews or the pit road confrontations -- diverted our appreciation for what a remarkable racer he is. RELATED: Statement from Brian France on Stewart Stewart is still the only driver to win an IndyCar championship (1997) and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series titles (2002, 2005, 2011). He was the first to win three USAC national titles (Midget, Sprint Car and Silver Crown) in one season (1996) and his results in racing's Memorial Day "Double" (ninth in Indy 500 and fourth in Coca-Cola 600 ) are unmatched. Everything you need to know about Stewart's drive was evident in his 2011 Sprint Cup championship run when after going winless during the regular season he won five of the last 10 races -- including the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway -- to claim his third title trophy in a tiebreaker over Carl Edwards . He promises a similarly motivated final season in 2016 with a Daytona 500 and Southern 500 trophy still on his to-do list. "I've been very fortunate to do what I've loved to do for 37 years up to this point, and next year it will be 38 and there's no period on it at the end of next year," Stewart said this week. "It's just a little change. I still plan on adding stats for years to come after 2016." Asked about his legacy, which surely includes a NASCAR Hall of Fame induction, Stewart was more reflective, even philosophic. RELATED: Quotes from Stewart's retirement announcement "I really haven't thought about it, to be honest because to me at the end of the day I'm happy with who I am,'' he said. "I look at myself in the mirror and I'm comfortable with who I am and what I've done and the path that I've been down." And who could ask for more than that? "I think everything that's happened in my life has happened for a reason,'' Stewart said. "I think there's things that I would have skipped in my life and things that have not happened, but I think everything in the big picture has happened for a reason and is part of something that's a lot bigger than what we are this room."
Regan Smith stretches his fuel mileage to beat Joe Gibbs Racing and the rest of the field and earn his second victory of the season.
Get the on-track times for all three NASCAR national series
From Danica Patrick’s mid-race crash to Matt Kenseth passing Kevin Harvick for the win, check out the best scanner sounds from the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
See who is on the Nationwide Series entry list for Atlanta
MORE: Revisiting one night in Richmond In the movie " The Replacements," quarterback Shane Falco discusses his biggest fear: quicksand. Basically, a snowball effect, where one thing goes wrong, then another and another until it's completely out of control. Well, that is what has happened with Michael Waltrip Racing over the past two years. The latest event: A P4 penalty that saw Clint Bowyer lose 25 driver championship points, Rob Kauffman lose 25 owner championship points and Bowyer's crew chief, Billy Scott, suspended for three races. This comes on top of last month's news that MWR would no longer field a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team and that the organization was allowing Clint Bowyer to pursue other opportunities for 2016. However, everything with the fall of MWR can be traced back to one fateful night in Richmond. NASCAR ruled that Michael Waltrip Racing manipulated the outcome of the final regular-season race at Richmond in 2013. Drivers were docked points, a penalty which took Martin Truex Jr . out of the Chase and put Ryan Newman in. The aftermath saw the sponsor of Truex's car, NAPA, leave MWR. NAPA would eventually end up sponsoring the JR Motorsports' NASCAR XFINITY Series ride for Chase Elliott in 2014 and 2015. Elliott instantly became a star in the series and won the XFINITY championship in '14. NAPA has committed to go with him as a primary sponsor as he moves to Cup ranks in 2016 with Hendrick Motorsports and will be wheeling Jeff Gordon 's No. 24 Chevrolet. With NAPA out, MWR elected to downsize to two full-time teams, leaving Truex as the odd man out. He landed at single-car Furniture Row Racing , which was fresh off making the Chase with Kurt Busch behind the wheel. Truex struggled in his first season with the team, but he has been solid in 2015, winning at Pocono and making the postseason. In 2012, Bowyer's best season, he had 10 top fives to go with his three wins. Since the Richmond incident in 2013, he has just nine top fives in 74 races. He also has a winless drought that is now at 105 races after New Hampshire. RELATED: MWR through the years This is not the first time that one decision has caused a ripple effect throughout a sport's landscape. One of the most famous examples of this is " The Curse of the Bambino." Legendary baseball player and Hall of Famer Babe Ruth had led the Boston Red Sox to three World Series titles. Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees in 1920, which would go on to become a heated rival for Boston. As legend has it, the owner of the Red Sox Harry Frazee used the money from the sale to finance a play, "No, No, Nanette." The deal reversed the fortunes of both teams. The Yankees became a powerhouse, winning the first four of their 27 World Series championships in club history. The Red Sox would go through a title drought of 86 years with misfortunate finding them in different ways, most notably the Bill Buckner misplay in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Boston did eventually win a World Series title in 2004 and won three titles in 10 years. ... In the 1984 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers selected big man Sam Bowie with the No. 2 pick, while passing up the chance to draft shooting guard Michael Jordan. The Chicago Bulls grabbed Jordan with the No. 3 pick and the rest is NBA history. Jordan went on to become of the best players, if not the best player, in NBA history and led the Bulls to six championships, which consisted of two three-peats. Bowie battled a number of injuries to his knees that didn't allow him to live up to the promise and potential Portland thought it had drafted. While Portland remained a consistent playoff presence up until 2004, the organization is still searching for its first title since 1977. Jordan even led the Bulls past Portland in the 1992 NBA Finals. Similar luck struck Portland when it selected big man Greg Oden with the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft over Kevin Durant. Oden's professional career has been marred by knee issues, while Durant is one of the league's top talents. ... A neck injury to NFL superstar quarterback Peyton Manning sent a big ripple thoughout the league. The then-Indianapolis Colts quarterback wound up missing the entire 2011 season and the Colts suffered through a miserable year, ultimately landing the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Quarterback Andrew Luck was considered to be the top player available in that year's draft, but the Colts still had a rehabbing Manning, although he was owed a whopping $28 million roster bonus. Indianapolis made the decision to cut Manning and drafted Luck to be its new franchise quarterback. Luck has led the Colts to the playoffs in the first three seasons of his career. RELATED: NFL quarterback picks Dale Jr. to win the Chase Manning would go on to land in Denver, where he would make the Broncos instant Super Bowl contenders and power the Broncos to the playoffs the past three seasons. Manning's arrival in Denver paved the way for the team to trade Tim Tebow. The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner guided the Broncos guiding to a Wild Card Round win but he was dealt to the New York Jets months later. The Jets struggled to find ways to use him and he was released in April of 2013. With some of these cases, the fallout still continues and is subject to much debate. How would the Colts have been if they had held on to Manning? Would Tebow's career have turned out differently if Denver hadn't brought in Manning? How different would the past few years at MWR had been without the Richmond incident? Would a sponsor have backed Elliott so quickly and as a result, would his meteoric rise have happened? Those debates are part of the reason we talk about sports, to dream up the fantasy and hypothetical scenarios. But in the end it's those events that have a lasting effect on the sports we love.
NASCAR.com's Matt Strickert talks with the winner of the Sylvania 300 , Matt Kenseth, following his fifth win of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.