The top 5 drivers along with an upset Dale Earnhardt Jr. give post-race comments.
Kevin Harvick finishes second for eighth straight top-two finish RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings FONTANA, Calif. -- After Sunday's Auto Club 400 , there may be a warrant issued for Brad Keselowski . After all, the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford committed his own version of "Grand Theft Auto" at Auto Club Speedway -- he stole an entire race. Benefitting from a four-tire call on the last lap of regulation and two opportune cautions that extended the event nine laps beyond its scheduled distance, Keselowski passed polesitter Kurt Busch on the final lap (209) and pulled away to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season. Trying to make one last desperation run at Keselowski, Busch scraped the wall in the final corner at the two-mile track, allowing Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick to pass him for the runner-up spot. Keselowski arrived at the finish line .711 seconds ahead of Harvick, simultaneously taking the checkered flag and leading his first lap of the day. The 2012 champion, who led the series with six victories last year, recorded his first victory at Fontana -- and his first finish higher than 18th -- and the 17th of his career. "At the end, we caught some breaks, made the most of the breaks we caught," Keselowski said. "That was kind of the story of our race. It looked like we were probably going to finish sixth or seventh. That yellow came out (on Lap 185 for debris). We came in and pitted and drove up a little bit, then caught another yellow. Now what do we do? "So (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) made the call to come down pit road and put four tires on. When he said that, I said, 'This can either go really good or really bad.' Didn't know which one it was going to be. Some guys stayed out, some guys took two tires, all different types of strategies on the restart. "We were able to find our way through the lanes and get to the front there, somehow end up in Victory Lane leading the last lap. Kind of a race car driver's dream. This is one we're going to sit back and go 'Wow!' for a while." Keselowski can call it a break, but it was theft, pure and simple. Aside from a stretch before the halfway point where Denny Hamlin got out front in clean air and led 56 laps, the cars of Busch and Harvick dominated the race, leading 65 and 34 laps, respectively. But Keselowski’s Wolfe made what turned out to be the winning call on Lap 200, after NASCAR called the sixth caution of the race because of debris in Turn 4. Opting for four new tires, where the vast majority of the field took right sides only for track position, Keselowski restarted 18th on the first attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish on Lap 203. The No. 2 Fusion quickly moved forward. When Kyle Larson lost his bumper cover during a melee on the restart, NASCAR threw caution No. 7, and by then, Keselowski was already up to seventh place. Using the new tires to full advantage, Keselowski shot into second place like a lightning bolt after a green-white-checkered restart on Lap 208. As Greg Biffle crashed on the frontstretch on the white-flag lap, Keselowski rocketed past Busch off Turn 2 and pulled away for the win. Busch came home third, followed by Richard Childress Racing teammates Paul Menard and Ryan Newman . Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Joey Logano , Martin Truex Jr ., Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon completed the top 10. Having won at Las Vegas and Phoenix in the previous two races, Harvick fell one position shy of completing a sweep of NASCAR's three-race West Coast swing, but he could commiserate with Busch, who was trying to win for the first time this season after serving a three-race suspension. "I hate that the 41 (Busch) wasn't able to hold on for the win there," said Harvick, who posted his eighth straight top-two finish, dating to last year, and extended his series lead over Logano to 28 points. "I would have loved to see those guys get their first win. "But you never know how the strategy is going to play out here. There's so many cars on the lead lap, you didn't want to get buried in there (by taking four tires). One little bad move for Brad, he would have been stuck in the middle of that traffic. But it all worked out for him. The second restart, he was in prime position up on the outside with fresh tires." Busch was disappointed but philosophical about the result. "It was a solid day," Busch said. "I don't know what we could have done different. We just got pinned in by the yellows and the sequence at the end on which tires we needed to have to optimize how many laps were left. "We had two tires; Keselowski had four. We didn't need that extra yellow at the end. That last restart, I just didn't get the job done, and I just got out muscled by Keselowski." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today All-time consecutive top-two finishes Streak Driver Year 11 Richard Petty 1975 10 Richard Petty 1971 10 Richard Petty 1967 9 Richard Petty 1964 8 Kevin Harvick 2014-15 8 David Pearson 1968
From hot tempers to sitting on the hot seat, check out the in-car audio highlights from the Auto Club 400 .
A stats-based look ahead to the fifth race of the 2015 Sprint Cup season Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California going into the Auto Club 400 on FOX at 3:30 p.m. ET on March 24. AUTO CLUB-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 Clean Harbors Ford) · One win, four top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 17.8 · Average Running Position of 13.5, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 93.7, eighth-best · 217 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 1,243 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.601 mph, seventh-fastest · 2,484 Laps in the Top 15 (67.3%), eighth-most · 676 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 10th-most Clint Bowyer (No. 15 BlueDEF Toyota) · Two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 12.9 · Average Running Position of 12.9, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 92.1, ninth-best · 74 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 1,211 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.347 mph, 11th-fastest · 1,918 Laps in the Top 15 (60.2%), 12th-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · One win, six top fives, 11 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 11.9 · Average Running Position of 14.6, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 90.6, 12th-best · 94 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 1,368 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.271 mph, 12th-fastest · 2,401 Laps in the Top 15 (65.1%), ninth-most · 762 Quality Passes, fourth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 Subway Toyota) · One win, eight top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 8.5 · Average Running Position of 12.5, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 97.8, fifth-best · 154 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.692 mph, fifth-fastest · 2,773 Laps in the Top 15 (75.1%), fourth-most · 754 Quality Passes, fifth-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet) · Three wins, 10 top fives, 11 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 11.8 · Average Running Position of 10.2, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 97.3, sixth-best · 252 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · 1,391 Green Flag Passes, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.729 mph, fourth-fastest · 2,756 Laps in the Top 15 (74.7%), sixth-most · Series-high 831 Quality Passes Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota) · One top five, four top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 19.0 · Average Running Position of 13.9, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 90.7, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.376 mph, 10th-fastest · 1,926 Laps in the Top 15 (64.6%), 11th-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/Budweiser Chevrolet) · One win, four top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 16.4 · Average Running Position of 12.5, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 94.7, seventh-best · 126 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 1,277 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.559 mph, eighth-fastest · 2,662 Laps in the Top 15 (72.1%), seventh-most · 742 Quality Passes, seventh-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet) · Five wins, 12 top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 6.7 · Series-best Average Running Position of 6.0 · Series-best Driver Rating of 120.1 · Series-high 504 Fastest Laps Run · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 172.393 mph · Series-high 3,432 Laps in the Top 15 (93.0%) · 767 Quality Passes, third-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet) · One win, four top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 16.0 · Driver Rating of 91.5, 10th-best · 109 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · 1,264 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · 2,315 Laps in the Top 15 (62.7%), 10th-most · 738 Quality Passes, eighth-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 DeWalt Toyota) · Three wins, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 9.8 · Average Running Position of 9.1, third-best · Driver Rating of 106.2, third-best · 137 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.784 mph, third-fastest · 3,066 Laps in the Top 15 (83.1%), second-most · 735 Quality Passes, ninth-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Chevrolet) · Two wins, seven top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 13.5 · Average Running Position of 10.5, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 100.7, fourth-best · 226 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.657 mph, sixth-fastest · 2,773 Laps in the Top 15 (75.1%), fourth-most · 752 Quality Passes, sixth-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Auto Club Speedway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 21 0 1 4 9 2 16.4 94.7 2 Joey Logano 8 0 0 2 2 0 18.4 78.1 3 Martin Truex Jr . 14 0 0 0 3 2 20.1 75.7 4 Kasey Kahne 18 1 1 4 10 3 16.0 91.5 5 AJ Allmendinger 10 0 0 0 1 1 19.1 71.5 6 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 22 0 0 5 6 5 19.5 78.1 7 Jimmie Johnson 20 1 5 12 14 0 6.7 120.1 8 Ryan Newman 20 1 0 4 8 3 17.4 81.4 9 Brad Keselowski 6 0 0 0 0 0 23.3 71.6 10 Matt Kenseth 22 1 3 9 15 0 9.8 106.2 11 Paul Menard 12 0 0 0 2 0 22.0 62.3 12 Casey Mears 18 0 0 0 2 1 22.3 65.8 13 Denny Hamlin 13 3 0 1 4 3 19.0 90.7 14 Aric Almirola 7 0 0 0 0 3 31.6 49.3 15 Clint Bowyer 14 0 0 2 7 1 12.9 92.1 16 Greg Biffle 20 0 1 4 7 3 17.8 93.7 * – Based on last 16 races at Auto Club Speedway (2005 – 2014). Auto Club Speedway Data Season Race #: 5 of 36 (03-22-15) Track Size : 2-miles Banking/Turns 1 & 2 : 14 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4 : 14 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 11 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 3 degrees Frontstretch Length : 3,100 feet Backstretch Length : 2,500 feet Race Length : 200 laps / 400 miles Top 10 Driver Rating at Auto Club Jimmie Johnson ........................ 119.6 Kyle Busch ............................... 109.2 Matt Kenseth ............................. 105.5 Tony Stewart ............................. 102.0 Carl Edwards .............................. 98.5 Jeff Gordon ................................ 96.2 Kevin Harvick .............................. 95.8 Greg Biffle .................................. 95.5 Clint Bowyer ............................... 92.9 Kasey Kahne .............................. 91.4 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (16 total) among active drivers at Auto Club Speedway Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Matt Kenseth , Toyota 187.315 mph, 38.438 secs. 03-25-14 2014 race winner : Kyle Busch , Toyota 132.987 mph, (3:05:53), 03-27-14 Track qualifying record: Kyle Busch , Chevrolet 188.245 mph, 38.248 secs. 02-25-05 Track race record: Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet, 155.012 mph (3:13:32); 6-22-97 Tony Stewart , Chevrolet, 160.166 mph, (1:36:39; rain shortened), 03-25-12 At Auto Club Speedway : History · Groundbreaking for California Speedway, as Auto Club Speedway was originally known, took place in November 1995. · The first race at Auto Club Speedway was a NASCAR K&N Pro Series, West race won by Ken Schrader on June 21, 1997. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on June 22, 1997 and won by Jeff Gordon . · September 2004 was the first night race at Auto Club Speedway and that also was the first year both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series ran two races in a season there. · The track name was changed to Auto Club Speedway (ACS) in February 2008. Notebook · There have been 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Auto Club Speedway , the track hosted one NSCS race a season from 1997-2003, then two races per season from 2004-2010. In 2011 Auto Club Speedway returned to a single race season. · 137 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club; 108 in more than one. · Jeff Gordon leads the series in starts at Auto Club Speedway with 25. · Joe Nemechek won the inaugural Coors Light pole (1997) with a speed of 183.015 mph (39.341 secs.). · 16 drivers have poles at Auto Club Speedway , led by Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch with three each. · Denny Hamlin (2011, 2012), Kurt Busch (2006 sweep) and Jamie McMurray (2010 sweep) are the three drivers to win consecutive poles at Auto Club Speedway . · Youngest ACS pole winner: Kyle Busch (2/27/2005 – 19 years, 9 months, 25 days). · Oldest ACS pole winner: Mike Skinner (4/30/2000 – 42 years, 10 months, 2 days). · 14 different drivers have won at ACS, led by Jimmie Johnson (five). Three other drivers have multiple wins at Auto Club Speedway : Jeff Gordon , Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth each have three wins, Tony Stewart has two. · Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Auto Club Speedway with nine, followed by Roush Fenway Racing with seven and Stewart Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing each have two. · California-native Jimmie Johnson became the first and only driver to win from the pole at Auto Club Speedway in 2008. · Only two ACS races have been won from the front row both by six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson , fall of 2008 (pole); and the fall of 2007 (second-place). · Nine of the 25 (36%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Auto Club Speedway have been won from a top-five starting position. · 13 of the 25 (52%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Auto Club Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Seven of the 24 (28%) races have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 31st, by Matt Kenseth in the spring of 2006. · The most proficient starting position at ACS is pretty random. Three starting positions (third, ninth and 24 th ) have produced three winners each. · Youngest ACS winner: Kyle Busch (09/04/2005 – 20 years, 4 months, 2 days). · Oldest ACS winner: Rusty Wallace (04/29/2001 – 44 years, 8 months, 15 days). · Jimmie Johnson leads the series in runner-up finishes at Auto Club Speedway with five; followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon with four. · Jimmie Johnson leads the series in top-five finishes at Auto Club Speedway with 12; followed by Jeff Gordon (10), Matt Kenseth (nine), Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch (eight each). · Matt Kenseth leads the series in top-10 finishes with 15; followed by Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards (14 each) and Tony Stewart (13). · Jimmie Johnson leads the series in average finish at ACS with a 6.650. · Jimmie Johnson (6.6) , Carl Edwards (8.5) and Matt Kenseth (9.8) are the only three active drivers with an average finish in the top 10 at Auto Club Speedway . · There have been three green-white-checkered finishes at Auto Club Speedway : 2005 (250/254), 2006 (250/251) and 2014 (200/206). · Three active drivers have posted their first NSCS Coors Light pole at Auto Club Speedway : Carl Edwards (9/4/2005) and Joe Nemechek (6/22/1997). Kyle Busch won his first pole (2/27/05) and first series win (9/4/05) at ACS in 2005. · Greg Biffle (4/28/02) and J.J. Yeley (9/5/04) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Auto Club Speedway . · Jimmie Johnson posted his first series career win at Auto Club Speedway on April 28, 2002. · Jimmie Johnson (fall of 2009 – spring of 2010) and Kyle Busch (2013, 2014) are the only drivers to win consecutive races at Auto Club Speedway . · 12 of the 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Auto Club Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Jeff Gordon (1997 – inaugural event) and Jimmie Johnson (2002) are the only drivers to win at ACS in their first appearance. · Tony Stewart competed at Auto Club Speedway 18 times before winning in the fall of 2010; the longest span of any the 14 winners. Only Stewart (18) and Kevin Harvick (17) have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Auto Club Speedway . · Dale Earnhardt Jr . leads all active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Auto Club Speedway without visiting Victory Lane at 22. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Auto Club Speedway was the (3/27/2011) race won by Kevin Harvick with a MOV of 0.144 second over Jimmie Johnson . · Three reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions have gone on to win at Auto Club Speedway the following season: Tony Stewart (2012), Jeff Gordon (1999) and Jimmie Johnson - the only one to do it multiple times (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010). · Two drivers have won at Auto Club Speedway and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in the same season: Jeff Gordon (1997) and Jimmie Johnson (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010). · Two female drivers have competed at Auto Club Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Shawna Robinson and Danica Patrick . ** Note: Robinson first attempted to qualify for the race at ACS on 4/29/2001 but failed to make the event. Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Shawna Robinson 43 42 4/28/2002 Danica Patrick 40 26 3/24/2013 Danica Patrick 27 14 3/23/2014 · Only three car numbers have produced three or more Auto Club Speedway NSCS wins: Car Number – Drivers – (Years) o No. 48 – Jimmie Johnson (2002, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010) o No. 17 – Matt Kenseth (2006, 2007 and 2009) o No . 24 – Jeff Gordon (1997, 1999 and 2004) NASCAR in California · There have been 137 NASCAR Sprint Cup races among 15 different tracks in California. · Auto Club Speedway has hosted the second most NSCS events among active California tracks. Track Name City NSCS Riverside International Raceway Riverside 48 Sonoma Raceway Sonoma 26 Auto Club Speedway Fontana
Drivers give their takes on California dustup Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Jeff Gordon said he felt he had run out of options. David Ragan said he thought he could hold Gordon off. The result was a spin by Ragan during last weekend's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway that brought out the day's first caution less than 25 laps into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Ragan, filling in for the fourth consecutive week for the injured Kyle Busch in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota, said Friday at Martinsville Speedway that "at the end of the day, I certainly got the bad end of the deal." "I was in the preferred line but Jeff was a little faster than me at the time," Ragan said before heading out to take part in the day’s lone practice at the 0.526-mile track. "Looking back at it, I probably would have just let him by knowing that I was going to be the one that was coming off Turn 4 backwards." The two were battling for seventh place when Gordon's Chevrolet drew close enough to the left-rear of Ragan's car to send it into a spin. The move came after Gordon had shot underneath, only to see the JGR driver flash back by on the high side of the 2-mile track. "We were moving forward at that time – both me and (teammate) Jimmie (Johnson)," the four-time Sprint Cup champion said. "We caught David. He was definitely struggling and trying to hang on until the pit stop where they could make some adjustments. He was letting off real early in the corner." Johnson cleared Ragan and had driven away when Gordon made his initial move to the inside. While he could have moved up the track and in front of Ragan, Gordon said he thought "I'm not going to do a slide job on the guy this early in the race. We'll see if he wants to race me hard or not.” And that, Gordon said, is what transpired. "He raced me hard on the outside," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. "A couple laps later I got inside him again, and this time I crowded him a little bit more. He got all over my door; got me loose and so I basically said at that point that I was going to have to do it the hard way. "I know on the radio I said I may have to use the bumper, and I would have if I could have gotten to him and tapped him a little. But I didn't have to. I just got up to him and he was already pretty loose. I just took the air off of him to just get him to lift, but he didn't lift. He stayed in the gas and spun out." Ragan said he didn't give Gordon the spot because he felt "maybe once I got my track bar adjusted a little bit and kind of got my rhythm I felt like I might could pull away from him. "I did feel like once I could get my car going in the top lane that I could be a little better. Jeff was a little impatient. He didn't do anything wrong, he just didn't give me a break. And I didn't give him a break either. "What I can learn from that is it was early in the race, that one spot didn't matter. I could have had a little bit of give and take and the 24 could have had a little bit of give and take. It's one of those things that at the end of the day I got the bad end of the deal and that's sucked. I learned from it and moved on." The two spoke briefly after the race, the fifth of 36 that make up the 2015 Sprint Cup Series schedule and the final stop of a three-race West Coast swing that began in Las Vegas and moved to Phoenix before wrapping up at Auto Club "I don't expect somebody to just let me go by them, but when you're that much faster than somebody else, you have to make a choice: 'How do I want to race at this point and this stage in the race? Is it worth it to me?'" Gordon said Friday. "In my opinion and on a track that was that difficult to pass on, I was going to get up behind him. I never touched him, but I definitely took the air off of him." "Jeff's obviously a champion and a smart racer and you've got to give him some respect," Ragan said. "I raced him like I would anybody else. But at the beginning of a race we both have to have some give and take; he's lucky that he didn't get collected somehow. If I would have spun a little earlier in the corner and he couldn't turn down, he very well could have been collected too and it would have been a bad deal for both of us." Gordon eventually finished 10th while Ragan was 18th. He finished 17th in the season-opening Daytona 500 while driving for Front Row Motorsports , and has finished 18th, 22nd, 21st and 18th since taking over for Busch. "I feel like the last couple of weeks have been good ," Ragan said. "I'm disappointed that we haven't gotten a good finish to show for (it), I think we've had some pretty good cars. "I think we've had a top-10 car every week besides Phoenix, and that's disappointing when you don't finish where you think you should – for several reasons, from mistakes on my behalf to just poor racing luck to situations like we had last week. "We could win one of these things, break off with two or three top-fives in a row and it wouldn't surprise me. But we've just got to put a whole weekend together." 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
Drivers' cars come together late in Las Vegas race Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Related: Full Kobalt 400 results LAS VEGAS -- Carl Edwards apologized publicly and then again in a more intimate setting to Kasey Kahne , but the Hendrick Motorsports driver was still smarting after a shot into the wall ruined both his fast car and his good day at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Kahne's No. 5 Chevrolet was a constant force in the top five Sunday in the Kobalt 400 , and that's where it was on Lap 195 attempting to make a pass on the outside when Edwards drove him into the wall. As Kahne bounced off the barrier, he maintained his line, caught back up to Edwards and sent the No. 19 spinning -- and eventually into the garage -- with a subtle, meticulous shot. "It's completely my fault," Edwards said from inside his car, in the garage, while his crew repaired damage. "Kasey did a good job. I just got sucked up into him there. That's definitely my fault and I feel bad for Kasey." Edwards followed those remarks with a post-race discussion on pit road, strolling over to the No. 5 car as Kahne and crew chief Keith Rodden debriefed. The conversation was short and direct, with Edwards again apologizing to a curt Kahne, who was fast all weekend but settled for 17th on Sunday. "Carl just came down and apologized," Kahne said after Edwards went on his way. "He said he hadn't done that before to anyone. We basically needed just about a full car length more there in order to make it, and he just never lifted and put us right into the wall. It ruined his day as well." Edwards was all too aware of the implications to his own car -- and finish -- as well. That much was clear when his No. 19 Toyota Camry, which had run in the top 10 all day prior to the wreck, was scored 42nd when the checkered flag dropped. "It's not just frustrating -- it's pretty stupid," Edwards said. "I just should have been a little calmer, but it's kind of fun racing up front like that and it got me going. … I was being too aggressive on that restart. I started to slide up and I should have backed out of it way earlier." For Kahne, it was a missed opportunity. His cars have been swift in all three races this year, but his third-place starting spot Sunday gave him the ability to chase leaders Kevin Harvick , Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson all day prior to the damage. "We had a second-place car the first 30 laps of a run and a winning car the last 15-20 laps of a run," Kahne said. "The way it went down, I feel like we would have been able to race (winner Kevin) Harvick. He was unreal throughout the entire race, but I think our car was unreal, too." 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
From Brad Keselowski’s costly tire penalty to on-track collisions between Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne, hear and see the best moments from the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Storied paperclip oval was one of original tracks on NASCAR circuit Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series heads to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway this weekend, one of two annual treks to the legendary half-mile that have taken place for more than 65 years. Before Charlotte, Bristol, Texas or Talladega. Before Daytona or Darlington even, there was Martinsville. They were racing at Martinsville before NASCAR grew from an idea into reality. “Stock car racing makes its debut at the new Martinsville Speedway next Sunday afternoon when more than 35 of the nation’s leading drivers risk their necks and cars for over $2,000 in prize money. … The new track boasts the largest grandstand of any speedway in the South, a huge affair which will seat 10,000 spectators. The total capacity of the speedway is 20,000 people. Built at a cost of $85,000, the Martinsville Speedway is regarded as one of the finest half-mile dirt tracks in the United States.” The item appeared in one of the region’s daily newspapers. The date was Monday, Sept. 1, 1947. NASCAR was officially incorporated in February 1948. Built by local businessman H. Clay Earles, Martinsville hosted one of the eight original stops on the NASCAR Strictly Stock schedule in 1949. Before that, drivers who would become some of stock car racing’s earliest stars could be found hustling their way around the paperclip-shaped track. Red Byron, winner of the inaugural ’49 race, won the track’s first official event two years earlier, a 50-lap affair for Modified stock cars. Fonty Flock won there in ’48 just as NASCAR was getting started. One by one, the other tracks on the schedule that first season eventually fell by the wayside – Charlotte Speedway, Daytona’s beach and road course, Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, North Carolina, Langhorne and Heidelberg (Pennsylvania), Hamburg (N.Y.) Speedway. Even North Wilkesboro, a staple from the start, eventually faded into the background when NASCAR departed after the ‘96 season. Martinsville, however, remains. “It means we, and by that I mean going back to when the place was built by my grandfather all the way through until now, are doing something right,” said Clay Campbell, grandson of the track’s founder and president of the facility since 1988. “A lot of guys that started close to the same time, obviously they aren’t around now. I think my grandfather had the vision to keep investing in the facility and doing things that were necessary not only from a fan standpoint but from a competitor’s standpoint and everything that he did, I think we’re pretty much following the same philosophy.” • • • “It was dirt to begin with,” Richard Petty said, easing back in the recliner inside his motorhome. “I never ran on it when it was dirt. My daddy did and he won some races.” Outside, cars are circling Phoenix International Raceway , site of the recently completed CampingWorld.com 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. PIR is roughly 2,000 miles from Martinsville, and Petty, now 77, is nearly as removed from his days as a championship driver. One of the five inaugural members of NASCAR’s Hall of Fame, Petty is the sport’s all-time leader in premier series wins with 200 and is one of only two drivers to win seven championships. He’s also a valuable link to NASCAR’s past. And Martinsville, much like the Petty family, is an unbroken piece of ribbon that has run through the sport from its earliest days. Petty’s father, Lee, was NASCAR’s first three-time champion. A Hall of Fame member as well, Lee Petty won 54 times. Three of those victories came at Martinsville – two when it was dirt and a third after the track was paved. “When they asphalted it (in ’55), it was completely different,” Richard Petty said. “When they re-did the track, they cleaned up the infield. When (NASCAR) ran there and it was dirt, there were bushes in the infield, a little creek running down through there. All that was there was the track. “Once they asphalted it, they didn’t just do the track, they cleaned up everything else. It was like a brand new track. It was shaped the same, but everything else was different.” The creek is still there today, running underneath the track and working its way from one end of the speedway to the other. Petty won 15 times at Martinsville, a record matched only by his success at North Wilkesboro. It’s no surprise that Martinsville remains a staple on the schedule after all these years. “Not really,” he said. “It’s just so different from any other track we run.” At 0.526 mile, it’s the shortest of the short tracks and unlike other venues, there’s only the slightest banking in the turns. Turn 43 cars loose all at one and it isn’t just close-quarters racing -- it’s the closest-quarters racing fans are likely to see all season long. “Back when we had drum brakes, the deal was being able to run 500 laps and have brakes when the race was over,” Petty said. “Probably wasn’t but two or three cars that had brakes that could stop the thing when it was over with. “It was just a good track for the way I drove and the way (crew chief) Dale Inman set up cars; we just had a good combination for that race track. We understood the track.” From 1967-73, Petty won 10 times at Martinsville, including five straight starts between ’68-71. “We spent more time working on the brakes that week than we did on getting (the car) to handle or run fast,” Petty said. “From our strategy standpoint … a lot of times we didn’t race that hard. We saved our brakes, stayed in the race. But as far as going out and trying to lead all the laps and everything, that wasn’t our deal. It was more of a survival track. Over a period of time they got the brakes better and it got to where you had to race all the time.” • • • The lone block concession stand in the infield is one of the few reminders of Martinsville’s past. “The last piece of history,” Campbell said. “It goes back as far as the ‘60s, probably longer than that.” Other structures have been upgraded or replaced through the years. The sport has changed, and those that follow it have as well. Keeping up with the fast-paced sport, and everything it entails “is difficult,” Campbell said, “but therein lies the fun part of the business and the challenge of it. “It’s no different than the competitors – they have to keep changing to newer things and keep up with the pace; and the same thing for the facilities. Fortunately now with us being a part of ISC and a bigger global picture we’re more in touch with things that we need from a social media standpoint, Wi-Fi and on and on and on. Things we now have and things we’re exploring for the future.” International Speedway Corp. owns 12 of the 23 tracks hosting NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events in 2015. The company purchased the speedway in 2004. Nearly 170 tracks have hosted one or more NASCAR premier series races since that inaugural 1949 season, from Airborne to Wine Creek, Auto Club to Watkins Glen. Most are now gone. Martinsville, one of the very first, is still there. “We’re very fortunate that we had the things we needed and on are par with most of the others so we can keep on moving right along,” Campbell said. “Things like the garage, access roads coming in, the (Turn 4) tunnel, the suites, and things of that nature. “Luckily, as time went on with my grandfather, he didn’t sit still and that was a good thing. Because had he done that we’d be playing catch-up, and now’s not the time to be playing catch-up.” 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
Crew chief of No. 4 welcomes scrutiny that comes with winning RELATED: NASCAR warns about tire tampering MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- With reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick still riding a historic streak of top-two finishes, it's only natural that the focus of 42 other teams would hone in on the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet -- the car to beat until someone else tries to stake a claim to the heavyweight championship belt. But when the sanctioning body announces for two straight weeks that it will take the tires from the SHR No. 4 as part of a routine audit, eyebrows raise and questions start circulating -- especially when the speculation swirls about teams altering their standard Goodyears. Rodney Childers, the car's crew chief, has grown frustrated by the extra attention, but he's still laughing some of it off, taking it as a compliment. "Honestly, I'm flattered," Childers said with a grin at the back of his team's hauler. "I love it." Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings by 28 points, a significant gap heading into only the sixth race of the season, on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway . Harvick's run of finishing first or second stands intact at eight races, stretching back to last season, and he's the only multiple winner thus far in 2015. With all the success and accolades, it's natural that the class of the field would get the lion's share of scrutiny. But Childers calls it simply the cost of doing business. "I don't think everybody realizes that they've taken our tires 17 times in the last 18 months," Childers said. "Every time we finish first or second, our car goes back to the R&D Center with the tires we won the race on. NASCAR's doing their jobs and everybody else is making a big deal about it, right? If I'm one of the other competitors, yes, I would want them to take the 4 car's tires. Of course I would. "They're doing their jobs, just like they've done year after year after year. …I'm starting to get a little bit ill about it. It's turned into a joke." NASCAR has taken the tires from select teams the last two weeks for further review at an independent lab. Rumblings persist in the garage that teams have been placing small holes in their tires, with the goal of leveling air pressure when tires heat up during green-flag racing, but NASCAR officials reported that the tires from the first audit showed nothing illegal. Results of the second review haven't been released. The only common thread in both examinations was that Harvick's No. 4 was chosen as part of the audit both weeks. But Childers' reasoning goes, wouldn't a car that's consistently near the front of the pack be inspected with the finest-toothed comb? "That's their job. Why would they not?" Childers said. "If you've got a car that's on a streak like the 4 car's been and they've got eight top-twos in a row, nobody's done that since 1967 when there was 2.5 cars on the lead lap at the end of each race, it's a big damn deal, you know. I don't blame them at all. I'm 100 percent on their side. You've got to do what you've got to do to keep a level playing field. "If I was on another team, I would feel like I had pretty good cars and I had a good driver and we were doing the best job we could. You would hope that your cars are pretty close to somebody else's and your driver's pretty close to someone else, and when you can't run with them, you get aggravated and start looking at what could be different. They also need to look at qualifying because bleeding your tires for qualifying for one lap, it don't help -- we beat 'em every week. They better get working on their cars, I tell ya." Childers said trips to the NASCAR Research & Development Center have been business as usual, but some of the newfound consideration may stem from a new level of transparency from NASCAR officials. The recent philosophy shift, owed in large part to the sanctioning body's marketing and communications arm, has pulled back the curtain on many technical procedures that used to be conducted behind the scenes. "I think so. And as a competitor, we don't mind that," Childers said. "The only thing I don't like is when it stirs up a bunch of drama because there's no need for it. But it's part of it. You don't want the drama surrounding your team. You want to keep them focused on what you're doing. All in all, they're doing their jobs." For Childers, the accusations are nothing new. He says he's been hearing them since he started racing at age 12. The allegations have followed him throughout, even through his days as a Late Model hotshot at Tri-County Motor Speedway in the North Carolina foothills where he assembled a hot streak that rivals Harvick's current run -- winning what he estimated as 11 straight races in the 1998 season. "The tech official had searched my car to death," Childers said. "It's like the last race of the year, and I'd beat this guy, and he kept paying to get (my engine) tore down over and over and over. The head tech official comes over, gives me the head back for my engine and goes 'you're good .' " Childers said the official then asked an odd question -- if he could borrow his right shoe. He handed it over. "I didn't know what he was doing," Childers said, "and he walks it right over to that guy that had paid to tear me down all year and handed it to him and said, 'I guess this is what you need.' " 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
At age 19, Chase will attempt to qualify for first Sprint Cup race Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Think about this for a moment: Chase Elliott , son of the ever-popular Bill Elliott , will attempt to make his Sprint Cup Series debut at Martinsville Speedway , a track steeped in history and tradition, for Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Not only does he need to qualify for the race -- with Team Xtreme withdrawing, there are 45 cars on the entry list; 43 make the race -- but Elliott also will need to do it without having the benefit of much time spent in a Sprint Cup Series seat. And if that's not enough, if he qualifies for the race -- which is expected to be attended by none other than Richard Petty -- Elliott will do so at a younger age than Jeff Gordon did in 1992. Throughout his short history as a national series driver, Elliott has shown an unflappable, even-keel approach en route to such heights as last season's XFINITY Series title. But if any weekend were to test his Zen-like calm, who could blame him if this were the one? "If I wasn't nervous come this weekend, then I'd think something was wrong with me," Elliott said. "I think that should be the case. With as much excitement as this weekend brings I think you're going to have some nerves to go along with it. I'm looking forward to experiencing both of those sensations." If his nerves indeed need some calming, then Elliott can go to bat knowing he will have Gordon on his side. Jeff just happens to be tied with HMS teammate Jimmie Johnson for the most Cup wins at the track among active drivers with eight, so it's not like he's coming at Chase with a blank slate. "I think for me, Jeff will probably be the guy I lean on most this weekend," Elliott said. "One, our car is being prepared out of the 24 and 5 shop. Just to be familiar with that group of guys and how they do things, I think that only makes sense to kind of lean on those guys more than anybody else with the plans for next year. Last time I checked, Jeff had run a handful of races at Martinsville; I feel like he'll have some good information and a lot to be learned talking to him." Elliott said he hasn't driven a Cup car since January of 2014, and most of that experience was at Nashville Superspeedway, a 1.33-mile concrete track that was used for testing. Plus, in the time since Elliott drove a Cup car, a lot has changed thanks to the 2015 rules package. Add in the fact that Elliott will be working with crew chief Kenny Francis for the first time, and there are a lot of challenges he'll be facing beyond just the normal task of driving on a tough, tight 0.526-mile track. But besides having Gordon and the entire HMS team on his side, Elliott also has the benefit of it being a break in the XFINITY Series schedule. Therefore, he can concentrate on the very tall task at hand. But as one might expect, his own expectations for his first Cup race sound pretty reasonable. "Hopefully, for me, I just want to execute all weekend and put together a solid week," Elliott said. "I think for us, if we can run all the laps and stay on the lead lap and battle to run in the top 15, I feel like that's a great day to shoot for. I feel like that's possible and that would be a really good day." Of course, if he does something more than that, then it could add to the track's already thick history. It's a history that will be on the young driver's mind. "I think back of all the times I've gone to Martinsville to watch my dad race," Elliott said. "Even not that long ago. Weird to think I'm going to go run a Cup race and not be watching. ... Such a great opportunity and I want to make the most of it." Senior writer Holly Cain contributed to this report. 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