Alan Cavanna previews the weekend racing schedule with Homestead-Miami Speedway hosting the Camping World Truck Series, Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series.
Crafton locks up second straight NCWTS title MORE: Crafton wins back-to-back titles " Full race results " Season standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- After breathtaking, three-wide racing during the final 20-lap green-flag run, Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. held off hard-charging Keystone Light Polesitter Kyle Larson to win Friday night's Ford EcoBoost 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Behind the wild battle for the victory, Matt Crafton ran ninth and won an unprecedented second straight series title with room to spare -- by 21 points. Timothy Peters came home third, followed by Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney , runner-up to Crafton for the series championship. Busch won the NCWTS owner’s championship in the No. 51 Toyota he drove on Friday night. "Toward the end, battling the two Kyles -- the (Sprint) Cup stars -- it was tough," Wallace said. "But I didn't get too excited, didn't get too down. I kept a cool head and stayed patient and was able to come out on top." Wallace won his fourth race of the season and fifth of his career in his final ride in the No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, as the organization picked up its 14th victory in 22 races. Signed to Joe Gibbs Racing, Wallace is expected to move up to the NASCAR XFINITY Series next year. "It is going to be sad to see him go," Busch said, "but we've got another great shoe that’s going to be able to fit into that role really, really good with Erik Jones . It's not that I'm saying goodbye, but I'm wishing him the best next year in what he gets to do, and I'm excited about his growth and opportunity to move up to the (XFINITY) Series." Wallace said he hopes to get plans for 2015 settled soon. "I wish things were finalized," Wallace said. "We're continuing to work hard to find my future plans. For me, I'm just going to go play some golf while I'm down here in Miami and enjoy this win, enjoy the offseason. "But as far as plans, we're continuing to work hard." As he closed on Wallace in the final laps, Larson said he contemplated trying the same sort of banzai move Ryan Newman had used on Larson on the final lap of last Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix, where Newman secured the final spot in Sunday's Championship Round at Homestead by a single point. "I thought about it -- very quickly," Larson said. "But I figured that would definitely be the wrong thing to do, especially in a Truck race where I'm just kind of out there to have fun, and Bubba's out there to try to gain points, or whatever, and get the win." Blaney's waning championship hopes suffered a blow when his shifter broke, causing him to stall his No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford exiting his pit stall on Lap 72. Blaney dropped to 14th for the subsequent restart on Lap 76 and quickly worked his way up to ninth, three positions behind Crafton in the running order. By then, only 21 trucks remained on the lead lap, providing Crafton with a comfortable margin of error, given that Crafton entered the race needing a finish of 21st or better to claim the series title. Using vise-grips to control the broken shifter, Blaney was fourth off pit road for a restart on Lap 104, after the fifth caution of the night. His hard-fought top-five wasn’t enough to overcome the 25-point lead Crafton held entering the race. During that same pit stop, Larson fell from first to third on pit road, after having led 96 laps to that point. Wallace grabbed the lead from Busch on Lap 119 of 134 and held it the rest of the way, as Larson charged into second place and closed the gap to .294 seconds at the finish. Note: Ben Kennedy won the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the series. Kennedy and Tyler Reddick tied in the rookie standings, with Kennedy winning the title because of his higher position in driver championship points. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Alan Cavanna gives you the latest information about the final weekend of racing in NASCAR's top three series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway .
Take a virtual hot lap around Homestead-Miami Speedway with Ryan Newman.
NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee says No. 18 will battle for the title RELATED: Timeline of Busch's wreck and recovery With three championships in four years (1995, '97, '98) as Jeff Gordon 's crew chief at Hendrick Motorsports , Ray Evernham knows what it takes to win titles. On Tuesday, he said Kyle Busch will not only make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup but will contend for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Evernham made the prediction on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Busch has two wins in the last three races but sits 87 points out of 30th place, a spot he needs to reach to qualify for NASCAR's postseason and a shot at his first premier series title. Evernham believes he'll reach that goal and make a run at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. "I'll tell you one of the things that gets great athletes to step up even more is when you take something away from them that they live for," Evernham said. "I know Kyle, and I know how hard he worked to get back in shape and to get things done. He met all those goals and made it back ahead of schedule. "I told you that I thought he could win multiple races. He's done that. I'm not going to go out on a limb again, but I am going to tell you that that 18 car will be one of the final four at Homestead. Mark my words." In seven previous playoffs, Busch's best finish was fourth in 2013, and he's finished four of those Chase season in 10th or worse. But Evernham says Busch himself and Joe Gibbs Racing have evolved into contenders for the organization's first Sprint Cup title since 2005 and fourth overall. RELATED: France 'would be surprised' if Busch misses Chase "I think he's focused," Evernham said. "I like the things that (crew chief) Adam Stevens does. I like the way he thinks. And I really feel that is going to be one of the major stories at the end of the year. "I know he knocked almost a third of the points that he needed to get to 30th the other day. And if they keep up that momentum, which I really believe they will, I'm going to tell you that 18 car is going to be in the final four." In the first year of NASCAR's elimination-style Chase, Busch was caught in a wreck at Talladega Superspeedway and failed to advance from the 12-driver Challenger Round to the eight racers who made the Eliminator Round. He finished the 2014 season in 10th place in the points standings. The NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee likes the No. 18 team's chances to go all the way to the Championship 4 because the driver and JGR have raised their game and will benefit from some of NASCAR's recent rules changes. RELATED: What you need to know about the Chase "I think there was a level of immaturity, there was a part of a level in Joe Gibbs' own organization that had a lot of mechanical failures in the Chase whether that was with the 18 or the 11… whether it was sway bar issues or different things and I think those things are behind him," Evernham said. "I think the Joe Gibbs organization realized that stuff. They looked at it. I think Kyle Busch is way more mature than he was at that time. I think the Toyotas have started late and been building. "Sometimes you've got to realize that they're behind to pick up momentum, and some of these aerodynamic rule changes I believe are going to fall into a guy's driving style where a guy has to drive the car more and it's a more physical race. Saturday night (at Kentucky) I thought was a very physical race, and I just think that all those things fall right into line for Kyle Busch ." Evernham pointed to Busch's reaction to finishing third in last Friday's XFINITY Series race as a sign of his maturity and focus. "I'm sure he would have loved to have won it, but it did what it was supposed to do: give him an education on what he needed to do to win Saturday night, and that to me is just as important or more important than running the XFINITY races," Evernham said. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver says 'it's very hard to stay enthusiastic' with RFR's topsy-turvy year LOUDON, N.H. -- NASCAR has never seen a driver win a championship at each of its three national series levels, but there was a time when it looked as if Greg Biffle could be the first. With his XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series titles already locked up in 2002 and 2000, respectively, the Roush Fenway Racing mainstay appeared primed to complete NASCAR's version of the triple crown after 2012, when a career-best average finish of 10.2 propelled him to 21 top 10s -- another career high -- 12 top-five finishes and a pair of wins. But with just a single win (Michigan, June 2013), eight top fives and 26 top 10s in 90 races since, the triple crown seems like nothing but a pipe dream for Biffle at this point. The NASCAR veteran has been but a blip on the radar of other drivers as they pass him both on the track -- and in performance. "(The stats are) probably one of the toughest things for us to look at," Biffle said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , site of Sunday's 5-hour ENERGY 301 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, PRN, SiriusXM Radio). "We look at the same stats you're looking at and we look around us and the cars we're racing with and it's definitely frustrating, but, at the same time, we're working as hard as we can to try and figure out what we need for speed -- what we have to do with these cars. "To be quite honest with you, we don't know what to do to them and we don't know where the speed is at so it makes it really difficult to fix it." One of the most frustrating wrinkles of the drop in performance for Biffle and Roush as a whole has to be the success that other Ford-backed organizations have enjoyed in increasingly dramatic fashion. Roush holds Ford's most recent NASCAR championship ( Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s 2012 XFINITY title), but rival stable Team Penske has racked up a whopping 15 Cup wins -- including a Daytona 500 -- between drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano since Penske made the switch from Dodge to Ford following Keselowski's title run in 2012. Toss in Logano's Championship 4 appearance at Homestead-Miami Speedway last fall and it's enough for Jack Roush to pull out whatever hair he has left. That trend has carried throughout this year as well, with the Penske duo sitting pretty near the top of the standings with a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berth a near certainty, as both have wins. Biffle, meanwhile is struggling to stay afloat in the Chase picture at all, currently 18th in the points standings with one less spot up for grabs if/when Kyle Busch enters the top 30. The 19-time Cup Series winner and his Roush teammates, Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne , even sit behind fellow Ford driver Aric Almirola , who races for the smaller and less-funded Richard Petty Motorsports . "It's very hard to stay enthusiastic, it is," Biffle said. "I wouldn't say it's like one arm tied behind your back, but it is difficult to get dressed, buckled in there, and get out on the race track, but every time we do we're searching for that speed, so we're back at the shop working on stuff, we're testing, and then we're bringing it to see what it does competing to that next guy." When Ford rolled out its revamped version of the Gen-6 Fusion at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this year, initial reviews by Biffle and Co. were positive. A 17th-place finish doesn't seem like much, but with an average finish of 26.0 the previous three races, it was a step in the right direction. A few weeks later, Biffle notched his best finish of the past two seasons when he placed second to former teammate Carl Edwards in the Coca-Cola 600 . Things appeared to be rounding into form then, but the performance hasn't materialized since. "We were all jumping up and down and all excited about Texas, and we brought it out and we saw more consistent drive in it," Biffle said. "It wasn't like it was doing four different things trying to drive it, so it calmed that down, but it didn't have any more speed. So then we took another version of it, an updated version of it to I don't remember where and it showed a little bit of promise, and then Charlotte it showed a lot of promise. We qualified up front and ran up front a lot of the race, and ended up finishing second on fuel mileage but we were about a 10th-place car. We were like, 'OK, we've got this thing figured out now,' so now we’ve moved into the top 10 or close to it and now we can start scratching at the rest of it. "Then Pocono we were fair and then we went to Michigan and were all foaming at the mouth and we were 36th, two laps down. We had no idea what happened, so back to the drawing board for us. We're kind of pinging around it and trying to find that moving target and every time we feel like we’re getting closer, we get knocked back down to the bottom rung again and start back up." At this point in the season, it appears unlikely that Biffle and the Roush group can regain the speed that one of NASCAR's premier organizations once boasted, nor does it seem like he’ll have the opportunity to finish off his triple crown and hold that elusive Sprint Cup in Miami at season's end. Still, with the nature of the Chase format, anything can happen if the dominoes fall just right. Biffle, a former winner at the "Magic Mile," could steal a win on Sunday and gain berth to the sport's playoffs and make a run at a title. "Yeah, that sounds really good," Biffle said. "I'm gonna go with that plan right now." 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What drivers, owners and manufacturers need to do to win championships
Intermediate track hosts opening event of 10-race Chase in September The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup doesn’t begin for another 10 weeks at Chicagoland Raceway, but a dozen teams are scheduled to be at the 1.5-mile track later this week for an open team test. Dale Earnhardt Jr . ( Hendrick Motorsports ), Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ), Sam Hornish Jr . ( Richard Petty Motorsports ) and J.J. Yeley ( BK Racing ) are participating in a two-day Goodyear tire test Monday and Tuesday. They will be joined by Kyle Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Greg Biffle ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Denny Hamlin ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing ), Austin Dillon ( Richard Childress Racing ), Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Clint Bowyer ( Michael Waltrip Racing ) and Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske ) for the open test. On Tuesday morning, Earnhardt Jr. tweeted that Hornish tested a high downforce package on Monday while a low downforce package was scheduled to be run on Tuesday. Test day2. Heard @SamHornish tested @NASCAR high downforce package yesterday. We start day2 with the low downforce package. #RunninInCircles — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) July 14, 2015 While a lower downforce rules package similar to that used this past weekend at Kentucky Speedway isn't expected to be in play when the series competes at Chicago in September, any additional testing with the setup on the 1.5-mile track would give both Goodyear and the teams additional data going forward. RELATED: France sees improvement in racing at Kentucky At Daytona International Speedway earlier this month, Earnhardt Jr. said he was open to trying a different aero package for Chicago while testing. "I think it's a great idea to go there and take whatever package they would like to try," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. "Because it's a great opportunity … we will be there three full days." Earnhardt said implementing the lower downforce package for the test didn't necessarily mean the package would be used in the opening Chase race. "We will go through and see what happens up until the Chase with these different packages they want to try and then maybe come to a decision to change something in the Chase," he said. "But until then nothing in the Chase is really going to change as far as I've been told. I feel comfortable about that." A similar rules package will be in play when the series travels to Darlington Raceway in September, and a high drag package is scheduled for races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Michigan International Speedway later this year. The rules package in place for Saturday's race at Kentucky featured a shorter spoiler as well as changes to the splitter and splitter extension panel. RELATED: What we learned from Kentucky race, rules package While weather problems forced the cancellation of a scheduled extended practice on Wednesday at Kentucky, as well as qualifying on Friday, the 267-lap race featured a record number of green-flag passes throughout the field. Steve O’Donnell, Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer for NASCAR, didn't completely close the door on the possibility of an aero change for any of the 10 Chase races, five of which will be contested on 1.5-mile tracks, when speaking with members of the media last week, saying, "All options for us are still on the table." "Our position today is that these are the race packages and this is kind of where we're at for '15, but as those conversations take place over the next couple weeks, that could change," he said. Monday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, O’Donnell said, however, that there were no plans to implement different aero packages for Chase races. "We're going to stick with our plan," he said. "This was something that we developed with the garage area. What are the specific races that we can target together? Everybody feels really good about the plan that we have in place so we'll continue on that path. We're learning a lot this week as well as we take all the data from Kentucky. … "There were some reasons why we picked the race tracks we did from a (preparation) standpoint, and (we) feel like we want to stick to the plan right now." The opening Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway (3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, MRN, SiriusXM). The other nine Chase races will be contested at: New Hampshire Motor Speedway , Dover International Speedway , Charlotte Motor Speedway , Kansas Speedway , Talladega Superspeedway, Martinsville Speedway , Texas Motor Speedway , Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway . FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
But RPM driver is shooting for a playoff-clinching win instead SPARTA, Ky. -- Aric Almirola was in a comfortable place this time last season. The No. 43 driver was on the heels of his first Sprint Cup Series win at Daytona International Speedway , a victory that locked him into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . The scenario looks much different for the No. 43 driver this year heading into Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400 (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Winless in 2015 and ranked 16th in the standings, Almirola sits on the delicate bubble of making the Chase -- or falling just short. "We just need to run like we've been running," Almirola said Friday before the rain-shortened Sprint Cup Series practice at Kentucky. "We've got to execute and we've got to take advantage of everything we can. "We've got to be more consistent like we have been and run top 15, and we can't have any more mistakes from here to Richmond. We've got to finish races and can't have any DNFs. We've got to put pressure on some of the guys ahead of us in points to hope they make mistakes." Almirola's to-do list for the No. 43 team in the nine races before the Chase cut-off is long, but doesn't vary too much from what they've already been doing. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver currently boasts an average finish of 18.1 and nine top-15 results, including a fifth-place finish at Dover. His consistency alone has given him an opportunity to earn a spot in the Chase on points -- but a solidifying win would certainly ease the pressure for Almirola & Co. However, Victory Lane will be a tall order this weekend, as the rough-and-bumpy Kentucky isn't the easiest place to take the checkered. "Having the bumps be as aggressive as they are here, you have to run your car higher or else the car bottoms out a lot," Almirola said. "So with running the car higher it becomes a little bit more of a balance for the crew chiefs and engineers to get the car to ride across the bumps smoothly enough without being too harsh, but then to be able to get the car down and low to the race track in the corners, where it's not as bumpy. "The crew chiefs and engineers fight that and pull their hair out trying to figure out a good setup for here." Mother Nature has provided the teams with another hair-pulling situation, as rain has canceled and shortened practices for all three series since Wednesday. With limited practice sessions, the ever-growing possibility of "weepers" and the unknown of the new aero package that is debuting this weekend, Sprint Cup drivers will have their hands full come Saturday evening. Almirola isn't worried. "At the end of the day we're all professionals," Almirola said. "Race car drivers will get in anything and go drive it, so we'll adapt. That's what we do. We adapt to however the car is driving from weekend to weekend or whatever rules package we've got. I think it's important for the crew chiefs and engineers to get some laps and understand where their travels are gonna be, to understand how the car is gonna react to different changes compared to the different rules packages we've had in the past. "I'm anxious. I'm excited to go drive it and I'm excited to see how the race is gonna play out, to be honest with you. I know the hope is that we'll be able to race more side-by-side and pass each other, so I'm looking forward to seeing if that's the case." As Almirola and the No. 43 team work to earn their first win this season, they'll have the aid of a new sponsor: Armour Meats, a family brand of primary sponsor Smithfield Foods. The company will also host a sweepstakes in which a fan will win a trip for four to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Sprint Cup Series season finale. Click here to enter for a chance to win. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR Sprint Cup champ continues racing dominance at L.A. awards show RELATED: SHR teammate Patrick attends ESPYS DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 16, 2015) – Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick 's dominating year on the race track earned him the ESPY for 'Best Driver' last night at the 23rd annual ESPYS presented by ESPN. Harvick triumphed over 2015 Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya , 2014 IndyCar champion Will Power, 2014 Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton and 2014 NHRA champion Erica Enders-Stevens for the win. Last season, Harvick posted five victories, six runner-up finishes and 14 top-five finishes en route to his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title, clinched in walk-off fashion in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Harvick also set six track qualifying records and earned a series-best eight poles. This year, Harvick will return to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup having won a pair of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, in Las Vegas and Phoenix. He is currently leading in the series points standings. Harvick's career includes 90 wins across NASCAR's top three series -- the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Now in his 13th year, Harvick joins a list of stock car drivers who have won the title of 'Best Driver' since the awards began in 1993. Tony Stewart , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Bobby Labonte and Dale Jarett have also taken home the ESPY in previous years. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule