Bayne honors Martin with Darlington throwback
RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes " SHOP: Bayne gear Trevor Bayne and Roush Fenway Racing have unveiled the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford that will take the track at Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles' Southern 500 (Sept. 4, 6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) on Labor Day weekend. Bayne's car will carry the same red, white and blue design that Mark Martin 's Ford did during the 1996 and 1997 seasons in the sport's top series. Martin won four races with the look in the two years. "It's an honor any time you are mentioned alongside Mark Martin ," Bayne said in a team release. "He obviously contributed a lot to Roush Fenway and this organization, so to carry a paint scheme that he ran for the second year in a row is really cool. Our team has been working really hard and running well this season, so I'm hopeful that we can make Mark proud." Last year at Darlington, Bayne honored a different paint scheme that Martin drove in 1998. You can see that paint scheme here . "It's going to be really cool to see that car on the track again at Darlington," Martin said in a team release. "It's always been one of my favorite paint schemes and we had a lot of good times taking that car to Victory Lane and leading a lot of laps during that time. I look at it as a tribute to all the guys that put the hard work in on those cars and gave us the opportunity to go out and compete each week." Check out the original look driven by Martin below.
McClure, Martin form K&N Pro Series team
Single-car team to debut at Iowa Speedway this weekend RELATED: Get more NASCAR K&N Pro Series East coverage with Home Tracks NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers Eric McClure and Hal Martin announced Tuesday that they have joined forces to field a single-car team for developmental drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Martin -McClure Racing is scheduled to debut with Chad Finchum at the wheel of the No. 39 entry this weekend at Iowa Speedway, which plays host to Friday's #ThanksKenny 150, a combination race for the K&N Pro Series' East and West tours. "This team is something Eric and I have discussed in great depth over the past few months and the timing is right for us to enter competition and lay the foundation for an organization that will meet the long-term goals we’ve laid out," Martin said in a release provided by the team. "It's an opportunity for us to give back to the sport we love, while providing a competitive and professional environment for young drivers as they transition from their respective backgrounds to the NASCAR national series." Finchum, 20, has 10 K&N starts spread over a part-time schedule since 2011. He also claimed two track championships (at Kingsport Speedway in Tennessee and Lonesome Pine Raceway in Virginia) in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition last season. "Since I started driving go-karts at age 6, I've always wanted to compete as a driver in the top levels of NASCAR," Finchum said. "This is a step forward in achieving that goal. It's hard to put into words what this opportunity means to me, but I think competing for MMR is a great fit. I've never been to Iowa Speedway, but I'm looking forward to getting there and getting on track." The Martin -McClure team also plans to compete in the season-ending race for the K&N East Series on Oct. 2 at Dover International Speedway. McClure, 36, currently ranks 20th in the NASCAR XFINITY Series driver standings. Martin , 29, competed in 17 XFINITY events from 2012-14.
Martin upset after run in with Teague
Hal Martin is taken out by Brad Teague soon after getting back on the lead lap.
Full schedule for Talladega
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series will head to Talladega Superspeedway this week while the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is off. Check out the full weekend schedule below. Note: All times are ET FRIDAY, APRIL 29: ON TRACK -- 11:30 a.m.-12:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 1:30-2:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 2:30-3:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 4:30-5:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) GARAGECAM ( Watch live ) -- 11 a.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series -- 2 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 10:45 a.m.: Ty Dillon -- 11 a.m.: Darrell Wallace Jr . -- 1:10 p.m.: Talladega Superspeedway announcement with Tony Stewart -- 1:30 p.m.: Martin Truex Jr . -- 2 p.m.: Carl Edwards -- 3:45 p.m.: Bobby Labonte -- 4 p.m.: Dale Earnhardt Jr . SATURDAY, APRIL 30: ON TRACK -- 10:30 a.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 12:30 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FOX ( Follow live ) -- 3 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Sparks Energy 300 (113 laps, 300.58 miles), FOX ( Follow live ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 2:30 p.m. (approx.): Post-NSCS qualifying -- 5:30 p.m. (approx.): Post-NXS race SUNDAY, MAY 1: ON TRACK -- 1 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 (188 laps, 500.08 miles), FOX ( Follow live ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 11:20 a.m.: Casey Mears with USS Montgomery crew -- 5 p.m. (approx.): Post-NSCS race
The Rundown: Bristol driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings " Chase Grid MORE: Peyton's day at the track " Before and after of damaged cars Breaking down the full field for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway : 1. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards was the class of the field Sunday at Bristol and the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver not to have an issue. Starting from the pole Edwards dominated the race and made it pay off, earning his first victory of the season and all but punching his ticket to the Chase. Grade: A+ 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt's day got off to a terrible start when his car did not have power at the drop of the green flag and he fell two laps down just as the race got under way. Never giving up, he got his lap back by taking the wave around on the third caution of the day and fought hard to climb his way to the front. On the final restart of the day he powered to second and held off Kurt Busch and teammate Chase Elliott . Grade: A+ 3. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . The Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet came to life late in the race and took the lead for the first time with 145 laps to go. Despite a left rear tire rub in the closing stages Busch fought hard and ended the day inside the top five. Grade: A 4. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Running inside the top 10 on Lap 179, the rookie contender had to hit pit road with a loose wheel and fell back. With less than 100 laps to go he was inside the top five and charging forward. With 32 laps to go Elliott got a huge restart and jumped to second and put pressure on Carl Edwards for the lead. He slipped to fourth in the end, but recorded the best finish of his young career. Grade: A 5. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Could Roush Fenway Racing be on the upswing? Bayne started 10th and had another strong run until he had a pit road commitment line violation on the fourth caution of the day. He rallied back, beat and banged his way to the front and finished fifth. Grade: A 6. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto had a solid, quiet day going at Bristol, racing his way into the top 10 with less than 20 laps to go. The BK Racing driver was far from content, though. He knocked on the door of the top five in the closing laps and earned a career-best finish. It was the feel good story of the weekend for sure. Grade: A+ 7. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . As the race approached the halfway mark, Harvick's car came to life and charged to the front of the field. Harvick hit the wall with 16 laps to go while chasing Chase Elliott for second, but the contact caused little damage to the No. 4 Chevy. He kept restarting on the bottom lane and was unable to challenge for the win. Grade : A 8. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Off to one of the worst starts of his career, Bowyer and the HScott Motorsports team came to life Sunday at Bristol. Starting 36th, Bowyer stayed out of trouble and gained 28 spots to earn his first top 10 of the season. Grade: A+ 9. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Crew chief Luke Lambert called for two tires on the first stop of the day, putting the No. 31 into the top 10. A pit road speeding penalty under the eighth caution sent Newman to the rear of the field with less than 165 laps to go. Newman fought hard after the setback and climbed back to ninth when the checkered flag flew. Grade: B+ 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . One of the fastest cars early in the race, Logano had to pit with a vibration under green and was then hit with a tire violation. The No. 22 fell two laps down, but fought back. With 32 laps to go Logano was fifth, but lost power and dropped like a rock on the late-race restart. Grade: B 11. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . The rookie contender worked his way into the top five throughout Sunday's race, but the No. 21 Ford slipped just outside the top 10 at the end of the day. Grade: B 12. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle was penalized for speeding on pit road under the sixth caution of the day and sent to the rear of the longest line for the restart. Despite the setback, Biffle quietly worked his way back to the top 10. When the checkered flag flew, Biffle had dropped to 12th. Grade: B 13. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray started 13th and finished 13th. He avoided trouble and tied his season-best finish. Grade: B 14. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . The No. 78 was fast once again, but issues on pit road continued to slow the team throughout the day. Running second with roughly 75 laps to go Truex reported a loose wheel and was forced to pit road under green. The team just could not find a rhythm. Grade: C 15. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard took two tires on the third caution of the day and restarted second. The No. 27 fell back when the green flag flew, but the move looked to pay off in the long run. Later in the going he had to pit a second time to check for loose lug nuts, suffered damage on the car, but climbed back to 15th at the end of the day. Grade: B- 16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse got loose in the corner and spun off Turn 2 to bring out the second caution of the day. The RFR driver fought his way into the top 10 with 25 laps to go, but fell just outside the top 15 in the closing laps. Grade: B 17. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The driver of the No. 5 raced his way into the top five with 150 laps to go and shows signs of strength. Unable to maintain that spot, he dropped to 17th when the checkered flag flew. Grade: B- 18. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski worked his way into the top five after 55 laps, but was hit with a pit road speeding penalty under the first caution. Racing his way through the field took its toll on the No. 2, which was beaten up all around. Running fourth with 115 laps to go Keselowski broke a valve stem after contact and had to pit under green. He could only climb his way back to 18th. Grade: B 19. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger had another great run going, as he started in the top 10 and was racing at the front of the field in the opening stages of the day. However, just before the halfway mark Allmendinger hit pit road with a loose wheel under green. While he got his lap back, he was never able to rally back. Grade: B- 20. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . After getting into Danica Patrick in practice, Hamlin got into Brian Scott on pit road during the fifth caution of the day. The contact caused significant damage to to the right front of the No. 11 Toyota. Hamlin then hit the wall while running 15th with 92 laps to go to bring out the 11th caution of the day. Grade: C- 21. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . The rookie contender started 21st, sent Kyle Busch spinning on Lap 115 when the field stacked up, finished 21st and earned his best finish of the 2016 season. Grade: C 22. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . After running mid-pack for much of the day, Cassill stayed out on the seventh caution of the day to take the lead. Cassill held onto the lead for 20 laps and was able to stay in the top five when the eighth caution of the day flew. Cassill was forced to pit road with 38 laps to go after contact with Ty Dillon late in the race. Grade: A- 23. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . A pit road speeding penalty under the first caution of the day sent Johnson to the rear of the field, but by the 200-lap mark Johnson was inside the top five. Johnson was forced to pit with a vibration while running third at the 300-lap mark, falling back to 31st, two laps down. The former champ fought back to 23rd, but was the first car one lap down. Grade: C 24. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . The No. 13 Chevy was hit by AJ Allmendinger on a restart with less than 165 laps to go and Mears made a great save avoiding any damage to the car. While he broke into the top 15 just past the halfway mark, he fell through the field in the closing part of the race. Grade: C 25. Ty Dillon , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . After having issues in qualifying, the younger Dillon brother used strategy to make his way to the front of the field and was able to maintain a solid top-10 position. Earnhardt Jr. used up the No. 14 with less than 50 laps to go, causing a significant left rear tire rub. The problems weren’t over, as Landon Cassill did the same thing just a handful of laps later. Grade: C+ 26. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon used up the right side of the No. 3 Chevrolet after getting into the wall multiple times. He was also hit with a pit road speeding penalty under the sixth caution of the day. The older Dillon brother definitely had a rough outing at the Last Great Colosseum. Grade: C- 27. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Running mid-pack, Patrick stayed out on the seventh caution of the day and jumped into the top five. Once the race went back to green, the No. 10 Chevy faded and Patrick slipped back in the pack. The team was hit with two separate pit road penalties with less than 90 laps to go. Grade: C- 28. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Whitt had a quiet run at the half-mile short track, but gained 11 spots on the day. Grade: C+ 29. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell raced his way as high as 17th just past the halfway mark, but dropped to 29th at the end of the day. After starting 31st, it was still a gain. Grade: C 30. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott made contact with Denny Hamlin on pit road, causing damage to both cars. He was running the top 30 when he got loose in the corner and spun to bring out the 10th caution of the day. Grade: C- 31. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Starting last, Annett spent much of the day racing around 35th, but he was sent spinning late in the race after contact with front-runner Kevin Harvick . Grade: C 32. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . The fourth-generation driver started 37th, stayed out of trouble and finished the day 32nd. Not too bad for his first Bristol start. Grade: C 33. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group . Wise's No. 30 Chevrolet had a tire issue and hit the outside wall to bring out the eighth caution of the day. Grade: C- 34. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Stuck behind Dale Jr. to start the day, Almirola suffered damage to the nose of the car just as the green flag flew. He was running 19th when he was hit by Martin Truex Jr . and sent spinning into the outside wall, causing significant damage to the No. 43 Ford. He didn’t want to get out of the car, but NASCAR said he had to and a post-race meeting in the hauler was the end result. Grade: C- 35. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. After giving a win away on Saturday in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Larson charged from his 25th starting spot and was in the top 10 before the 90-lap mark. Running third, a trackbar issue forced Larson and team to take the car behind the wall. Grade: D 36. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Dominating the race in the early stages, Kenseth blew a right front tire and hit the wall to bring out the fifth caution of the day while leading on Lap 186. After racing back in the top 10, Kenseth had another tire issue late in the race and was forced to pit road. With no caution thrown, the No. 20 team’s chances at victory were gone and the car went behind the wall. Grade: D 37. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith was a non-factor throughout the day until he was hit by Danica Patrick and made hard contact with the wall with just nine laps to go. Grade: D 38. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Running third on Lap 52, Busch lost a right front tire and hit the outside wall to bring out the first caution of the day. Busch made his way into the top 20, but was spun on Lap 115 after contact with Chris Buescher . After working into the top five, he was hit with a speeding penalty on the fifth caution of the day. While racing back to the front again, Busch made heavy contact with the wall on Lap 258 and took the car behind the wall. Grade: D 39. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan was stuck behind Dale Jr. when he had his issue on the initial start of the day, and things did not get much better. With smoke billowing out of the exhaust, Ragan took the car behind the wall with an engine issue on Lap 217. Grade: F 40. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson started 38th, but pulled the car behind the wall after completing just 169 of the 500 laps. Grade: F
Pocono hosting Goodyear tire test
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams representing Richard Childress Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Team Penske and Furniture Row Racing are scheduled to participate in a two-day Goodyear tire test Tuesday and Wednesday, April 19-20 at Pocono Raceway . The Sprint Cup Series visits the 2.5-mile track for the first of two annual stops June 3-5 for the Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 . Drivers expected to take part in the test are Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota), Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske No. 2 Ford), Kyle Larson (CGR No. 42 Chevrolet) and Ryan Newman (RCR No. 31 Chevrolet). "It's kind of in line with what we've done at the other tests," Greg Stucker, director of race tire sales for Goodyear said Sunday morning at Bristol Motor Speedway . "Looking at the 2016 package for Pocono and looking to increase grip." The Pocono track was repaved in 2012, and Stucker said even before that project "it had grown to be on the conservative side (tire-wise), so we're looking to try and increase grip levels." With only three corners and each one drastically different, Pocono presents its own set of unique challenges both to teams and Goodyear. While teams often compared it to Indianapolis Motor Speedway where the series will visit later this summer, those similarities, such as from a tire-wear standpoint, had begun to lessen. Now, though, Stucker said "It's getting to be more like Indy was -- the two used to be lined up and that's one of the things we're actually looking to see, if maybe we can align those two," Stucker said. "But it's still not heavy wear by any stretch of the imagination. It's just lost some grip; it's not overly abrasive. The grip is starting to go away since the repave." In addition to the June race weekend, Pocono also hosts a second Sprint Cup event at the end of July.
Cain: Remembering Steve Byrnes one year later
Karen Goins-Byrnes certainly wasn't anticipating this autograph request as she and her teenage son Bryson walked out of the Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway infield before last Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track. It wasn't so much "the ask" she received but the canvas she was offered that really stood out. A race fan asked them to sign a flag right next to the signature of her late husband and Bryson's father, Steve, a NASCAR on FOX broadcaster who died on this day, April 21, one year ago after a courageous and well-fought battle with cancer. "You know that on Father's Day and Christmas and Steve's birthday (just last week) those moments are going to be intense, emotional and sad, but then there's these other moments that you completely do not expect that suddenly take your breath away, like the flag on Sunday," Karen Goins-Byrnes shared this week. "I just wasn't expecting that, and all of a sudden it made you realize, 'Oh my goodness, this person is gone from our life.' "I was walking with Bryson and had not anticipated that when we looked down at this flag, wow, there was his signature. And it was just surreal knowing that at some point he had touched that same piece of material; now we we're touching it. Steve's touched everything in this house, so I don't know why that hit me so hard but it was … I don't know, it was out-of-context, unexpected. "I don't think it was a coincidence. It was very impactful for Bryson and I both to see that." RELATED: Steve Byrnes remembered, 1959-2015 In the past year, the Byrnes family has been "adopted" by those close to Steve and also those who never met the longtime NASCAR broadcaster but were touched by his story of courage and strength battling cancer not once but twice. In the time since he passed away Byrnes, then 56, has been honored at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and received the prestigious Squier-Hall Award for media excellence. His likeness and another tribute hang on a large plaque at the Charlotte FOX studios. "Steve was not a person who sought out a lot of attention, he was not the look-at-me type of person," Goins-Byrnes said. "I know he's up in heaven going, 'I had no idea.' He is completely surprised at all the different things that have happened to remember him and honor him. I'm shocked, I know he's shocked too." Drivers, fellow broadcasters and FOX personnel have joined the broader NASCAR community supporting this family in ways both obvious and subtle. Their "new" way of life is still so greatly influenced by the one they miss so dearly. "We're persevering," Goins-Byrnes said, after pausing to select the most accurate description. She and her son don't know quite what to anticipate today -- their feelings and emotions. It will be a very busy schedule of things to do and that was purposeful. On Wednesday, she and Bryson attended a luncheon hosted by FOX Sports in Charlotte, where they posed for photos alongside close family friends Michael Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. There is a wonderful shot of Bryson standing next to a memorial for his father on the studio's wall. Goins-Byrnes, who is now doing part-time work for Charlotte-based Speedway Motorsports Inc., has a professional commitment for part of the day Thursday and will be escorting champion NHRA racer Erica Enders to a Speedway Children's Charities event at Charlotte's Levine Children's Hospital. "It just happened to be the day she's available," Goins-Byrnes said of the timing. "It was funny, when Erica said the 21st, I was like that's the day, but I decided that's the way it's supposed to be, then. Every single month on the 21st will never be just another day for me. Every 21st of the month, I know it's been nine months, 10 months, 11 months. "But honestly, I feel like not continuing to live dishonors Steve. Somebody was asking me about Bryson and I doing a lot of activities. I feel like if we had stopped doing things, that would have dishonored him (Steve). Living and doing things honors him. I certainly know he would not have wanted us to say, 'Oh, I can't do something because it was the 21st of the month.' He would have scolded us and said, 'It's just a date; go and do.' " And actually, Goins-Byrnes concedes, it's the times alone or void of activity that have been most challenging. "People will say, 'It looks like ya'll are doing well, doing good.' But I don't post on social media when we're lying on the floor crying," she said. "There are days that are gut-wrenching and those days you have to keep pushing through, pushing on." Pushing on for Bryson Byrnes has been quite literal. His days, nights and most weekends are filled with sports -- football and lacrosse are favorites. And Bryson isn't only succeeding on the field -- he was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society this week. "People talk about what an amazing young man he is, and I'll be honest," Goins-Byrnes said adding with a laugh. "He makes straight-As and Steve and I never did that in school. Steve and I used to look at his report cards and go, 'Wow. This must be the nurture part,' because the nature part, we're not responsible for this level of achievement. I can promise you. "We have been blessed with a really good kid. I think God knew what path he was going to ask us to walk and so he gave us a child that was well-equipped." "He still battles, sometimes, the unexpected moments," she said, pausing. "You just hadn't anticipated that even if it's a good thing, it's void of Steve being here." As Goins-Byrnes and I were saying our goodbyes we discussed the cancer battles so deeply affecting so many in NASCAR -- family members and extended family. We weren't sure if it was unusually prevalent among our sport or if circumstances made us more aware. Driver Martin Truex Jr .'s longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, finished up her chemotherapy in January, and remains such a positive force travelling around the country to educate others and bring awareness of ovarian cancer. The couple's Catwalk for a Cause event next month -- which raises money for childhood cancers -- is sold out again this year. While the potential for raising funds is high, it will be the most difficult of programs considering four of last year's models and inspirations have passed away -- a first for Truex and Pollex. Among them is my longtime friend Becky's son, Elijah Aschbrenner, 10, who fought a rare Epitheliod Sarcoma diagnosis and passed away on Nov. 11. His family has started the Prayers for Elijah Foundation to raise money and awareness of the disease. RELATED: Cain: Gratitude for Elijah Aschbrenner's inspiration Torie Costa, Scott Zipadelli’s 20-year old step-daughter, died on Christmas day on her second fight with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. Grace, 14, passed away after fighting Osteosarcoma. Clint Bowyer 's wife, Lorra, carried an inspirational sign for her at last year's Catwalk because she was too ill to participate. Jeramiah, 8, passed away after battling leukemia, not once but twice. His passing in August was the first of Truex and Pollex's "Catwalk" kids. The great Buddy Baker died in August after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Erik Jones shared last Saturday after his XFINITY Series win at Bristol that his father was recently diagnosed with cancer. Tabitha Burton, Daytona 500 winner Ward’s wife and XFINITY Series racer Jeb's mom, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and is recovering from the surgeries and treatment. Former NASCAR racer Shawna Robinson continues to recover from her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment as well. And I'm still fighting breast cancer myself, with multiple surgeries ahead this year. My hair is -- slowly -- growing, I've regained the weight I lost in chemo and radiation, and many of the NASCAR drivers I deal with now are completely unaware of my medical situation -- which can feel like an achievement. Those that do know have been incredibly kind and encouraging. Cancer is, at the very least, a maddening disease, and its impact on NASCAR is similar to its impact in general. We have lost influential souls such as Byrnes and Baker and the promises of so many so young, like Aschbrenner and Costa. Perhaps the brightest and most lasting legacy left by my friend Byrnes was a feeling of "never give up," and the firm knowledge that this is a community that cares greatly and perpetually. Today will be challenging for the Byrnes family and all those who cared deeply for Steve. There will be times of sadness, of laughter, of gratitude for the time shared, and unquestionably a sense of knowing that he would want us to carry on and prevail. "He was a very humble person," Goins-Byrnes said. "He never looked at himself as being exceptional, just a normal guy, a husband and a father and a guy with a job he enjoys. "I think the way people have responded in remembering him really has shown what type of a person he is. They comment, 'What a great guy he is.' You wouldn't believe how many pictures I've received from race fans with him stopping for a picture or to sign an autograph. "I don't think he realized the kind of influence he had. I certainly didn't. I don't think he had any idea how many people he touched and what kind of influence he had.' " I still have text messages from Steve on my phone -- we exchanged many while going through our treatments. One in particular makes my heart happiest and I will most likely glance at it often today. On the Monday after last year's Bristol spring race -- named in Steve's honor -- I texted him to make sure he had watched the race, seen all the tributes and enjoyed the love. He responded: "Still smilin."
Bruce: JGR on top now, but advantages can disappear
RELATED: See all the 2016 winners BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The reign of Kyle Busch may have momentarily subsided now that the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion went 0-for-2 this past weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway , but Joe Gibbs Racing teams still wound up in Victory Lane twice. Carl Edwards , Busch's Sprint Cup teammate, scored the win for JGR in Sunday's Food City 500 . Erik Jones earned the victory a day earlier for the organization, capturing the XFINITY Series race. So JGR teams haven't been beaten in a few weeks now, mid-March actually. And the organization doesn't appear to be headed for any sort of letdown. All four Sprint Cup teams ran well at Bristol -- with drivers Busch and teammate Matt Kenseth rallying on separate occasions after tire issues occured. Denny Hamlin ran in the top five, or nearly so, for the first 200 laps before a similar incident struck the No. 11 team. But Bristol, about as unique of a track as one will find on the NASCAR schedule, won't come around again for another four months. The "in-between" is littered with Dover and Charlotte, Pocono and Indy, Daytona and Loudon and many more ... as well as this weekend's stop at Richmond International Raceway . RELATED: Recap all of Busch's Cup wins " See all of Edwards' Cup wins It's a track where all four JGR drivers have excelled. Busch is a four-time winner on the .75-mile layout and Kenseth beat 'em all the last time the series visited RIR last fall. But advantages come and go quickly in NASCAR, and nowhere do they disappear as quickly as at the Sprint Cup level. Before Busch went on his mini-tear, folks were talking about Jimmie Johnson and how the six-time series champion already had two wins this season and boy it sure looked like this new lower downforce package played right into his hands. Things change. Advantages come and go. Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski don't drive for JGR and yet they’ve managed to win this season. And chances are they'll win again. No one will be caught off guard if Joey Logano , Kurt Busch or Martin Truex winds up in the winners' circle. It would be more surprising, in fact, if that doesn't happen. RELATED: See the Chase Grid picture The bigger question isn't can anyone beat Joe Gibbs Racing today. Instead, it's how much does having a win change what a team does between victory and the start of the Chase? For some, it probably does change things somewhat. That win-and-you're-in mentality gives crew chiefs and engineers and even drivers the freedom to make changes and take chances without the concern of how it could affect them in the points standings. It does not mean that after a win, teams will virtually disappear until the Chase. But it opens up the playbook considerably. The need to win might not be as urgent, but the desire to doesn't change.
Martin Truex Jr. details girlfriend's cancer fight
Martin Truex Jr . detailed his girlfriend Sherry Pollex's 17-month fight with ovarian cancer in a raw and emotional piece posted Monday on The Players' Tribune . Pollex announced Jan. 11 she had completed her final chemotherapy treatment. Among the specifics revealed in the story was the fact that Furniture Row Racing owner Barney Visser offered to let Truex sit out the remainder of the 2014 season after Pollex was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer on Aug. 7, 2014. "But Sherry and I never considered it," Truex wrote . "We both needed to get back to our normal. And normal for us is racing." Truex wrote about first meeting Pollex more than 10 years ago, and how "being with her was one of those things where you were all-in right from the start. You never really questioned it, you never really thought about it. You just did it because it felt right." Pollex first began experiencing abdomen pain in April 2014, Truex wrote, but because ovarian cancer often is difficult to diagnose, she did not have a CT scan until August. The following week, Pollex had surgery. Wrote Truex: "The surgery was performed on August 15, just a short week after we first heard those words. We arrived at the hospital at 5:30 a.m., and Sherry was prepped for what we thought was going to be a four-hour procedure. Instead, after seven hours of surgery, which included a radical hysterectomy and the removal of tumors all the way up to her spleen and appendix, the doctor was finally confident that he had removed all “visible” signs of cancer. It was only four months from the time Sherry had initially told me she was having abdominal pain, and the cancer had literally spread everywhere." Worse than the surgery was the chemotherapy that followed, Truex wrote. "Watching Sherry go through the grueling eight-hour chemotherapy sessions every couple of weeks for six months was almost unbearable. She lost her hair and lost 27 pounds from her healthy weight of 120 pounds. She could barely walk from the living room to the kitchen in our home. It was one of the darkest times in our lives." Truex has expanded his Martin Truex Jr . Foundation to focus on both pediatric and ovarian cancer since Pollex's diagnosis. You can read the full story here
Mark Martin addresses 'Smoke' fill-in rumors
Inside Groove: Racing with an attitude After news broke on Thursday that Tony Stewart would miss the beginning of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season -- his final full-time run before retirement -- due to severe back injuries, chatter began about who might pilot his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in the interim. At least we know one driver who won't be putting on a No. 14 firesuit anytime soon -- or any firesuit, really. After giving his fans the subtle hint that he won't be returning to the Daytona 500 , Martin had to firmly clarify what he meant exactly by that confusing two-letter word "no". I don't drive race cars anymore. — Mark Martin (@markmartin) February 4, 2016 But do not fret racing fans, hands are going up for the job.