Hal Martin is taken out by Brad Teague soon after getting back on the lead lap.
After rain delays most of of on-track time, RCR driver leads wet session Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Practice 1 " Results Following a lengthy delay for rain, Ryan Newman led Friday's lone Sprint Cup Series practice at Martinsville Speedway . Practice was originally slated to begin at noon ET, but cars didn't get on the 0.526-mile track until 2:04 p.m. ET. When they did, Newman ran a session-best speed of 97.835 mph for a best time of 19.355 seconds. He was followed by four Chevrolets in AJ Allmendinger (97.679 mph), Jeff Gordon (97.664 mph), Jimmie Johnson (97.618 mph) and Martin Truex Jr . (97.558 mph) to round out the top five. Defending race-winner Kurt Busch was 14th, with a speed of 97.083 mph. There was a caution late in the session when the No. 3 of Austin Dillon endured engine issues and caused heavy smoke, effectively ending the practice session. Coors Light Pole qualifying was pushed back from 4:45 p.m. ET to 6:10 p.m. ET. Per a NASCAR bulletin sent to teams earlier this week, the opening round of qualifying will be 20 minutes instead of 15 minutes, as it had been for the past four events. Should qualifying be canceled because of weather, Newman would start Sunday's race from the pole position. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Newman to start alongside Logano on the front row RELATED: See the full 43-car field " Full race starting lineup MARTINSVILLE, Va.—For last year's spring race at Martinsville Speedway , Joey Logano set a track record during qualifying but didn't win the pole. On Friday at the paper-clip-shaped track, Logano reversed the outcome. Though he failed to match his record of 100.201 mph, he saved his best lap for the final round of knockout qualifying in claiming the top starting spot for Sunday's STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race (1 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1). Trailing Logano in the 27th starting position will be Chase Elliott , the heir apparent to Jeff Gordon 's No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, who qualified for his first Cup race, one of five starts he plans to make this year. Logano covered the .526-mile distance in 19.232 seconds (98.461 mph) to win the 10th Coors Light Pole Award of his career, his second of the season and his first at Martinsville. Logano's Team Penske Ford edged the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Ryan Newman (98.328 mph) for the right to lead the field to the green flag in the sixth Sprint Cup race of the year. Martin Truex Jr ., who has a string of five straight top 10s to start the season, qualified third at 98.048 mph, followed by Gordon (97.613 mph) and Jimmie Johnson (97.583 mph). Logano went out late in the second round and put just two laps on his tires in posting the eighth fastest time and advancing to the final round. Keeping laps off his tires was the factor Logano thought was decisive in winning the pole. "I'm pretty sure we ran less laps than anybody going into the third round," said Logano, who ran five laps combined in the first two rounds, a number matched by Gordon. "That was the advantage that we had going for us, that we were able to see how many cars had run and know what we had to run to get into the next round. "So in the second round, all we had to make was two laps, and we felt pretty confident about where we were. Keeping those laps off the tires was good." As well as Logano has run in Martinsville time trials in the past, he was elated to add a pole to his list of accomplishments. "It feels great to finally get the pole here. We've been close so many times," he said. "Throughout my career, I feel like we've always qualified well here but I've never been able to get a pole. I caught pretty much of a hard time about getting the track record here but not getting the pole here, so to have a pole to back it up feels great." If Logano was delighted, Elliott was relieved that he had made the field—and that rain that had been forecast for the area failed to materialize in the afternoon. "That was goal number one, to get in," Elliott said. "So it's definitely a big relief for us. We're excited. It's weird being excited about qualifying, wherever we qualified, 27th, but we're in the show, our first Sprint Cup Series race with (sponsor) NAPA on board. We're excited for Sunday." Brendan Gaughan and Ron Hornaday Jr . failed to make the 43-car field. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
A stats-based look ahead as the series comes back East to Martinsville Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.-- Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia going into the STP 500 on March 29 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). MARTINSVILLE-SPECIFIC STATS Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota) · Four top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 12.1 · Average Running Position of 12.1, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 95.0, seventh-best · 296 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.276 mph, sixth-fastest · 6,586 Laps in the Top 15 (72.9%), seventh-most · 613 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), sixth-most Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet) · One win, 12 top fives, 17 top 10s · Average finish of 12.4 · Average Running Position of 10.6, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 101.2, fourth-best · 523 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Series-high 1,181 Green Flag Passes · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.386 mph, fourth-fastest · 7,860 Laps in the Top 15 (78.3%), third-most · 719 Quality Passes, second-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet) · Eight wins, 28 top fives, 35 top 10s; seven poles · Average finish of 6.8 · Series-best Average Running Position of 6.6 · Driver Rating of 119.8, second-best · Series-high 1,105 Fastest Laps Run · 1,000 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.689 mph, second-fastest · 8,848 Laps in the Top 15 (88.2%), second-most · Series-high 754 Quality Passes Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) · Four wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 8.7 · Average Running Position of 8.8, third-best · Driver Rating of 110.1, third-best · 612 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.473 mph, third-fastest · 7,503 Laps in the Top 15 (83.1%), fourth-most · 659 Quality Passes, fifth-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser / Jimmy John's Chevrolet) · One win, three top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 16.4 · Average Running Position of 14.4, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 91.8, eighth-best · 255 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · 1,016 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.130 mph, eighth-fastest · 6,475 Laps in the Top 15 (64.5%), eighth-most · 593 Quality Passes, seventh-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Eight wins, 18 top fives, 22 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 6.2 · Average Running Position of 6.8, second-best · Series-best Driver Rating of 122.5 · 1,041 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 91.700 mph · Series-high 8,932 Laps in the Top 15 (89.0%) · 689 Quality Passes, third-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Four top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 14.7 · Average Running Position of 15.7, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 84.9, 12th-best · 178 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 1,097 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.043 mph, 11th-fastest · 5,235 Laps in the Top 15 (52.2%), 12th-most Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 14.0 · Average Running Position of 15.1, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 85.1, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.036 mph, 12th-fastest Jamie McMurray (No. 1 CESSNA Chevrolet) · One top five, 12 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.3 · Driver Rating of 85.1, 11th-best · 195 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.060 mph, 10th-fastest · 5,471 Laps in the Top 15 (54.5%), 10th-most · 452 Quality Passes, 12th-most Ryan Newman (No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet) · One win, eight top fives, 12 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 15.0 · Average Running Position of 15.0, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 87.4, ninth-best · 1,071 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most · 5,843 Laps in the Top 15 (58.2%), ninth-most · 568 Quality Passes, ninth-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Code 3 Associates / Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Three wins, 10 top fives, 16 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 13.6 · Average Running Position of 11.2, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 97.6, fifth-best · 397 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.253 mph, seventh-fastest · 6,711 Laps in the Top 15 (70.4%), sixth-most · 471 Quality Passes, 10th-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Martinsville Speedway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 27 0 1 3 12 1 16.4 91.8 2 Joey Logano 12 0 0 3 4 0 14.0 85.1 3 Martin Truex Jr . 18 0 0 2 4 2 23.1 68.7 4 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 30 0 1 12 17 2 12.4 101.2 5 Brad Keselowski 10 0 0 1 5 0 15.2 83.4 6 Ryan Newman 26 3 1 8 12 2 15.0 87.4 7 Jimmie Johnson 26 3 8 18 22 1 6.2 122.5 8 Kasey Kahne 22 1 0 3 4 5 21.1 76.4 9 Paul Menard 15 0 0 0 1 1 20.5 63.4 10 Aric Almirola 12 0 0 1 3 3 23.8 66.0 11 AJ Allmendinger 13 0 0 1 3 1 19.7 72.2 12 Casey Mears 23 0 0 0 3 2 23.5 64.0 13 Matt Kenseth 30 0 0 4 11 2 14.7 84.9 14 Denny Hamlin 18 3 4 9 14 1 8.7 110.1 15 David Ragan 17 0 0 0 2 1 22.0 64.5 16 Jamie McMurray 24 2 0 1 12 2 17.3 85.1 * – Based on last 20 races at Martinsville Speedway (2005 – 2014). Martinsville Speedway Data Season Race #: 6 of 36 (03-29-15) Track Size : 0.526-mile Banking/Turn 1 & 2 : 12 degrees Banking/Turn 3 & 4 : 12 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 0 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 0 degrees Frontstretch Length : 800 feet Backstretch Length : 800 feet Race Length : 500 laps / 263 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Martinsville Jimmie Johnson ........................ 122.5 Jeff Gordon .............................. 119.8 Denny Hamlin ............................ 110.1 Dale Earnhardt Jr . ..................... 101.2 Tony Stewart ............................... 97.6 Kyle Busch ................................. 96.2 Clint Bowyer ............................... 95.0 Kevin Harvick .............................. 91.8 Ryan Newman ............................. 87.4 Joey Logano .............................. 85.1 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (20 total) among active drivers at Martinsville Speedway . Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Kyle Busch , Toyota 99.674 mph, 18.998 secs. 03-28-14 2014 race winner : Kurt Busch , Chevrolet 72.176 mph, (03:38:38), 03-30-14 Track qualifying record: Jamie McMurray , Chevrolet 99.905 mph, 18.954 secs. 10-24-14 Track race record: Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 82.223 mph, (3:11:55), 09-22-96 Martinsville Speedway : History · Opened in September 1947 by H. Clay Earles , Martinsville, originally a dirt track, is one of the oldest continuously-operating race tracks in the United States. · The first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville was on July 4, 1948. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was Sept. 25, 1949. · The track was paved in 1955. · The first 500-lap event at Martinsville was in 1956. · Concrete corners were added atop asphalt in 1976. Notebook · There have been 132 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway , one in the inaugural year and two races per year since 1950. · 602 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville; 380 in more than one. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty has the all-time most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville with 67; Jeff Gordon has the most starts among active drivers with 44. · Curtis Turner won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Martinsville Speedway in 1949. · 58 drivers have Coors Light poles at Martinsville, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with eight; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven. · 12 drivers have won two or more consecutive Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway . Four of the 12 have won three consecutive poles at Martinsville: Glen Wood (Fall of 1959 and 1960 sweep); Darrell Waltrip (1979 sweep and spring 1980); Mark Martin (fall of 1990 and 1991 sweep); Jeff Gordon (2003 sweep and spring 2004). · Youngest Martinsville pole winner: Ricky Rudd (4/26/1981 – 24 years, 7 months, 14 days). · Oldest Martinsville pole winner: Morgan Shepherd (4/26/1987 – 45 years, 6 months, 14 days). · 48 different drivers have won at Martinsville Speedway , led by Richard Petty with 15; Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon lead the series among active drivers with eight wins each. · 24 drivers have multiple wins at Martinsville Speedway only five active drivers have multiple wins: Jimmie Johnson (eight), Jeff Gordon (eight), Denny Hamlin (four), Tony Stewart (three) and Kurt Busch (two). · Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 22. · 21 of 132 races (15.9%) at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; seven of those 21 wins came from active drivers: Tony Stewart (2000), Jeff Gordon (2003 twice), Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2012, spring 2013) and Denny Hamlin (2010). · The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Martinsville producing more wins (21) than any other starting position. · 36 of the 132 (27.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the front row: 21 from the pole and 15 from second-place. · 95 of the 132 (71.9%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Seven of the 132 (5.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20 – including both races last season. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 36th, by Kurt Busch in the fall of 2002. · Youngest Martinsville winner: Richard Petty (04/10/1960 – 22 years, 9 months, 8 days). · Oldest Martinsville winner: Harry Gant (09/22/1991 – 51 years, 8 months, 12 days). · NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes at Martinsville Speedway with seven; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with five, followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson with four. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-five finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 30; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 28, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 18. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 37; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 35, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 22. · Jeff Gordon leads active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Martinsville Speedway with a 7.318. Denny Hamlin (9.500) and Ryan Newman (9.654) are the only other active drivers with an average starting position at Martinsville inside the top 10. · Three active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top 10 at Martinsville: Jimmie Johnson (6.231), Jeff Gordon (6.841) and Denny Hamlin (8.722). · There have been five NSCS green-white-checkered finishes at Martinsville Speedway : fall 2007 (500/506), fall 2008 (500/504), fall 2009 (500/501), spring 2010 (500/508), and spring 2012 (500/515). · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions eight times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway ; the most recent was the fall race of 2011. · Jeff Gordon has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway without a DNF (44). · Tony Stewart (4/18/1999) and Scott Riggs (4/10/2005) won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway . · Mike Bliss (09/27/1998), Travis Kvapil (10/24/2004) and Michael McDowell (3/30/2008) are active drivers that made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Martinsville Speedway . · 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted consecutive wins at Martinsville Speedway . Fred Lorenzen won four NSCS races straight (the most) from the fall of 1963 through the spring of 1965. Jimmie Johnson is the most recent driver to win consecutive races (Fall of 2012 / Spring of 2013) at Martinsville. · All eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Martinsville Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Tony Stewart won at Martinsville (2000) with the fewest previous appearances (three). · Ryan Newman competed at Martinsville Speedway 20 times before winning in the spring of 2012; the longest span of any the eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Two active drivers have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Martinsville Speedway : Kevin Harvick (19) and Ryan Newman (20). · Chevrolet leads series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 54 victories – including the last eight consecutive races. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway is the April 1, 2007 race won by Jimmie Johnson with a MOV of 0.065 second. · Danica Patrick is the only female driver to compete at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Below are Patrick’s stats at Martinsville. Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Driver Rating Date Danica Patrick 32 12 72.6 4/7/2013 Danica Patrick 41 17 64.7 10/27/2013 Danica Patrick 10 32 52.4 3/30/2014 Danica Patrick 30 34 61.3 10/26/2014 · Seven car numbers have produced five or more Martinsville Speedway NSCS wins: Car Number – Drivers – (Years) o No. 43 – Richard Petty (1960, ’62, ’63, ’67 sweep, ’68, ’69 sweep, ’70, ’71, ’72 sweep, ’73, ’75 and ’79); John Andretti (1999) o No. 11 – Cale Yarborough (1974, ’76, ’77 sweep, ‘78); Darrell Waltrip (1981, ’82, ’83, ’84); Geoff Bodine (1990 sweep); Denny Hamlin (2008, ’09, ’10 sweep) o No . 28 – Fred Lorenzen (1961, ’63, ’64 sweep, ‘65 and ‘66); Buddy Baker (1979); Ernie Irvan (1993). o No . 2 – Dale Earnhardt (1980); Rusty Wallace (1993, ‘94 sweep, ’95, ’96 an
Tony Stewart exchanges words with Martin Truex Jr. following the race at Auto Club Speedway.
Last fall's Martinsville winner optimistic this weekend as driver, owner
Three-time champion scores best finish of season in Auto Club 400 RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings FONTANA, Calif. -- A 14th-place finish for the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet wouldn't normally feel good or elicit smiles. But it's the best showing for Tony Stewart this year, and the three-time champ was at least feeling encouraged when he climbed out his car following Sunday's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway . A late-race gamble not to pit during a caution period that came out on the last scheduled lap put him in second place just behind another race gambler, Jeff Gordon . And while they were both promptly passed on that start and again on a second green-white-checkered overtime a couple laps later -- the end result for Stewart was progress. "We just had to do the opposite of what everyone else did," Stewart said. "It wasn't the best-case scenario for us, but we had to take a chance." Two of Stewart's teammates, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch , were challenging for the win Sunday, ultimately finishing second and third, respectively. It's the eighth consecutive time Harvick has finished first or second -- dating back to the final three races of his 2014 Sprint Cup Series championship season. Harvick leads the standings by a hefty 28 points over Joey Logano , giving Stewart the official lead in the owner standings. But when it comes to his own results behind the wheel, Stewart has struggled this year. The 14th-place finish is only the second top-30 effort of the season and moves him up four positions in the standings to 32nd. He still trails Busch, despite having five starts to Busch's two. Stewart's previous best finish of the year was 30th at Atlanta three weeks ago. He finished 33rd and 39th in the last two races at Las Vegas and Phoenix, respectively. On Sunday, however, Stewart's No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet ran among the top-15 for nearly half of the race (95 of the 209 laps). And Stewart thought it would have been a legitimate top-10 car before a brush with the No. 78 Chevy driven by Martin Truex Jr . "He (Truex) had a problem with someone else and I paid the price for it," Stewart said motioning toward the middle of his front hood which sported a large area of black duct tape. "I wasn't delusional that we were going to win the race or anything but if he's got a problem with someone else and got his hand out the window changing three lanes and (he) drives back across punching a hole in my nose." But, Stewart added with a slight smile, "we're gaining on it. We got to where we were sniffing the edge of the top-10 anyway all day. We're gaining on it a little chunk at a time. We didn't need to get it all today anyway. "But this is a big gain for us for sure." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Furniture Row driver striving to build on his hot start Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Martin Truex Jr .'s fast start in 2015 can be traced back to last fall. At the end of October, the driver of the No. 78 Chevrolet for Furniture Row Racing took part in a Goodyear tire test at Auto Club Speedway . He credits that experience with his team's blistering start in the Sprint Cup Series this season. The 34-year-old has rattled off four straight top-10s to open the season with the best result being a runner-up finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . The seventh-place result in the CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway gave the Furniture Row organization four straight top-10s for the first time in the team's history and placed the driver third in the point standings. Now, the series shifts to the Auto Club 400 (March 22, 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) at the 2-mile track in Fontana, California. Auto Club has not been the kindest track to Truex in his Sprint Cup career. In 14 starts, he has three top-10s with the last one coming in 2012; his average finish there is 20.1. He has only one top-10 in Fontana in the past nine Sprint Cup events there, but with the way he's been running this season, he has a good feeling heading into the finale of the three-race West Coast swing. "Definitely looking forward to California," he said. "I feel like it's a place we should be strong. We did the Goodyear tire test there last fall. … Really liked what we saw there with the new package. We ran 2015 rules and learned a lot there that has helped us throughout this season. I feel really good about it. I had a good car at Atlanta and Vegas and that's a good indication that we should be good on the 1.5-mile, 2-mile tracks. I feel like that will be a good one for us." Truex said last year's testing is an advantage for his the team, but there are other factors. "It depends on what tire they bring back I guess," Truex said. "Any time you get track time, especially a new rules package coming in effect. We got some time on the 2015 rules, which was definitely, I think, a little bit of an advantage. I think at the end of the day we were fast out there. We felt good about what we had and we have some data to work off of for this year. It really just gave us a step up on the competition I think." The roots of his confidence-building fast start date back to last fall, but there's another major reason for his progress -- the promotion of Cole Pearn from lead race engineer to crew chief last December. "He's certainly a big part of turning the team around," Truex said of Pearn. "He's a big part of why we're running well, obviously. I don't want to give him all the credit because there are a lot of other people that deserve it as well. "He has a bright future in the sport. He is a guy you are going to talk about for a long time being a good crew chief. ... I think one of the neatest things is that there were a lot of big teams after him last year and this winter. We are very proud that he stayed with us. I'm proud that he stayed with us because he knew what we were capable of." The team struggled in Truex's first season with the organization. He came over last year from Michael Waltrip Racing , which went from three full-time teams to two due to the fallout from MWR's involvement in the Richmond race manipulation scandal that took Truex out of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff in 2013. With Todd Barrier atop the pit box last season, Truex recorded only five top-10s all season. His first top 10 of 2014 didn't come until the 13th race of the season — in June — at Dover International Speedway . With 30-plus races to go, Truex is just one top 10 away from matching last year's total. The synergy with his new chief couldn't be going much better. Pearn's transition to crew chief was part of Furniture Row's offseason plan to get the one-car organization back in the Chase. "I would say the biggest thing to start with was personnel," said Joe Garone, General Manager of Furniture Row Racing . "Advancing Cole Pearn to crew chief, which really had been planned for awhile. The last I think eight races of the season, he was a lot more heavily involved. It was just kind of a perfect fit for him. We boosted up our engineering staff around him. "We were able to go into the offseason with a good plan, and focus on our downfalls that we learned through the season and just listen to the driver. He told us the cars weren't working and went to work on them and got them better." The plan is looking good, but Truex said execution has been the key. "All the guys on the team, Joe, Barney (Visser, team owner), Cole, having a good plan and executing throughout the offseason," Truex said, referring to the setup for success. "Cars have been running good. The team has been making good decisions. The team hasn't been making mistakes. Reliability's been there, so everything we needed to work on and wanted to get better at has been there. Now it's just a matter of how much better can we get." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Coors Light Pole Award winner also topped Friday's lone practice Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Practice 2 results Kurt Busch continued his reign as the fastest at Fontana, topping Saturday's opening practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with a fast lap of 187.115 mph. Busch will be making just his second start since NASCAR reinstated him from a suspension that caused him to miss the opening three races of the 2015 season. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has shown plenty of speed out of the gate this weekend as he topped Friday's lone practice session and also scored the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX). Jimmie Johnson (184.247 mph), David Ragan (184.237 mph), Ryan Newman (183.969 mph) and Brian Scott (183.960 mph) rounded out the top five from the 55-minute practice session. Martin Truex Jr . (183.814 mph), Brad Keselowski (183.594 mph), AJ Allmendinger (183.510 mph), Kevin Harvick (183.416 mph) and Casey Mears (183.351 mph) placed sixth through 10th in the session. Harvick, who qualified for a spot on the front row next to his SHR teammate Busch, is looking to sweep the three-race West Coast swing with a win at Fontana. FINAL PRACTICE " Results Another Auto Club Speedway practice produced the same result we have seen at the top all weekend with Kurt Busch once again leading the way with a fast lap of 184.971 mph. The 36-year-old driver topped all three practice sessions at the 2-mile track leading into Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX). The veteran driver scored a third-place finish at the California track last year, but has just one win at the venue, which came in 2003. Paul Menard (183.885 mph), Kevin Harvick (183.220 mph), Casey Mears (183.146 mph) and Jimmie Johnson (182.992 mph) placed second through fifth in the 55-minute final practice session. The Chevrolet dominance of the practice leaderboard extended to spots six and seven, with Martin Truex Jr . (182.783 mph) and Ryan Newman (182.699 mph) occupying those slots. Team Penske teammates Joey Logano (182.348 mph) and Brad Keselowski (182.292 mph) were the top Fords on the board, placing eighth and ninth for the session, respectively. Dale Earnhardt Jr . rounded out the top 10 with a lap of 182.099 mph. David Ragan , who qualified fourth and is making his fourth start filling in for the injured Kyle Busch , was the highest-placing Toyota in the final practice, coming in 12th. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver credits RCR alliance with early 2015 gains Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live FONTANA, Calif. -- It's not hard to get lost in the long roster of drivers when you're on a single-car team. But when a single-car team driver like AJ Allmendinger is racing up front with NASCAR champions, he's on everyone's radar. The California native comes to Auto Club Speedway for Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) sitting in the top five in driver standings with two top-10s already under his belt and looking to score another this weekend. But the No. 47 team isn't paving the way to single-car success on its own. Martin Truex Jr . and Casey Mears join Allmendinger's company. Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, sits third in the driver standings and has started his 2015 season scoring nothing but top-10s. Mears, the driver of the No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet, is currently 12th in the standings with a top-10 finish in the Daytona 500 . All three are in a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing and from last year to now the gains the organizations have made are astounding. For Mears, the refining of the alliance has mostly come from understanding the specifics of what goes into a successful race car. "Just improving communication, it is one thing to get a sheet of paper that says, 'Hey, here is the setup,' " Mears said on Saturday. "But when you actually go up and put your arm around the guy that is actually setting that car up and looking at his procedure and understanding how he does it there are a lot nuances. The devil is in the details. I think that we have paid closer attention to a lot of those details, and it is starting to pay off." "I think we're working well together," Allmendinger said. "It's hard when you make an alliance, trying to fit in and see where you fit in and see how much data you truly get ... I think a lot last year we were just behind because we did the alliance basically right before 2014. So we were trying to catch up on cars and everything. We didn't maximize the tools we had, which RCR really allowed us to have pretty much everything we needed." After a slow churn in the alliance, Allmendinger and the No. 47 team are finally getting their footing and it shows. "Going into this year, we just looked at 'OK, how do we make ourselves better,' " Allmendinger said. "We just started a lot further ahead this year than we were last year. This weekend and last weekend we have a brand new car. It's one of the first brand new cars from top to bottom we've had since the team was with Toyota. Just being ahead has really helped us." Allmendinger might have gotten a slow start last year before making the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field, but he scored his first top-10 of the season at the Fontana track. Looking ahead, Allmendinger recognizes that hard work equals success. "I'm happy with our team and where it's going," Allmendinger said. "We've got a lot of work to go to be one of those No. 48s and No. 4s and all those teams every weekend, but I can see the hard work is paying off and that's what's great from inside the race car and outside of it." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule