RELATED: Answers on multiple packages " Darlington's throwback gallery Perhaps somewhat overshadowed by all the talk about Darlington Raceway 's "throwback" platform this weekend is the return of NASCAR's low downforce package, incorporating aerodynamic changes first unveiled at Kentucky Speedway earlier this year. Three significant changes have been incorporated into the Sprint Cup Series package for Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC/Live Extra, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) that differs from the package used in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky in July. The Darlington spoiler will be 3-1/2 inches (instead of 3 inches) and the splitter will feature a 1/4-inch leading edge. Also, the tires to be used at Darlington were built specifically for this particular low downforce package. The build was determined after a one-day test in July with drivers Matt Kenseth ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske ) and Tony Stewart ( Stewart-Haas Racing ). There is no change in the size of the splitter extension panel, which was set at 25 inches for the Kentucky event. Driver feedback, for the most part, was positive following Kentucky. But Jason Ratcliff, crew chief for Kenseth, noted that differences in the two tracks and other considerations would have an impact this weekend at Darlington. "It's going to be a lot different … because we haven't run at Darlington at this time of year in a while," he said. "… Darlington is unique anyway -- you run right around the fence, which makes it difficult to pass, but I thought the aero package was good and we were able to work on the car and find some speed and nothing negative with it." Fellow Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards said he's looking forward to putting the low downforce package back on the track. "The way we've been running lately and the way this package drove at Kentucky, I mean to me Darlington is going to be like Christmas in September. I'm pumped," he said. So About Those Tires The tire combination selected by Goodyear will feature the same left-side tire code used at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year with a right-side tire code that was run at Kentucky. "We had a very minimal change in grip at Kentucky from what we raced there in 2014," Greg Stucker, Director of Race Tire Sales for Goodyear, told SiriusXM NASCAR on Wednesday. "Just a little bit more grip on the left-side tire, and the results of that particular event I think were very, very positive. "I think the low-downforce package showed a lot of potential. I think a lot of people walked out of there thinking that was a really nice package. It certainly reduced grip, put a lot of control back into the drivers' hands. Did a lot of things that I think people were looking for." Stucker said a "considerable amount of grip" has been added to the Darlington tires, with hopefully will offset some of the aerodynamic grip lost with the aero changes on the cars. "The reduction in downforce going from the standard 2015 (package) to the low-downforce package increased lap times by about three-quarters of a second, 7/10ths to 8/10ths, something like that," he said. "That much slower. When we put the grippier setup on, it gave us about that same 7/10ths to 8/10ths back." A December test at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2014 actually provided some of the initial data for the low downforce tire build. "We went back there again in March of this year to confirm that tire package for a low-downforce setup that at the time was thought to be run in the (Sprint) All-Star Race," Stucker said. "So we had a lot of work done in a similar configuration. Historically Darlington and Charlotte are similar. We run the same right-side tire there, slightly different left. But it gave us a real good starting point for where to go back to Darlington so we did that." Riding a Blue Streak The teams and track officials aren't the only ones on board with this year's "throwback" theme for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . Even Goodyear is going retro, returning to a logo design used in the 1970s. At that time, the logos and markings on each tire were hand-painted -- that won't be the case this weekend -- "but they'll definitely have the looks of what we ran back in the '70s," Stucker said. "We had not yet gone to Eagle on our race tires. They were still called Blue Streak Specials." The yellow Goodyear lettering seen on today's Goodyear Eagle tires came into use in 1992.
With the low downforce package being used this weekend for the second time in 2015, get caught up on both of NASCAR's new rules initiatives of 2015. Low downforce package In use: Kentucky Speedway ( Kyle Busch victory); Darlington Raceway (Sunday) Changes: Reduction in spoiler height (from 6 inches to 3.5 inches); splitter extension panel (radiator pan) decreased from 38 inches to 25 inches; splitter has 1¾ inches less overhang; and Goodyear has prepared a package-specific tire for Darlington. Intent: Less downforce on an intermediate tracks such as Kentucky, which would lead to more side-by-side racing; increase off-throttle time in the turns, leading to more potential passing; lessen leader's aero advantage. Key quote: "Sold. Keep doing it. Ship it." -- Carl Edwards More: Drivers sold on low downforce • O'Donnell lauds hard work to get package ready • Who benefited most at Kentucky? High drag package In use: Indianapolis Motor Speedway ( Kyle Busch victory); Michigan International Speedway ( Matt Kenseth victory) Changes: Increase in spoiler height (from 6 inches to 9 inches) and addition of 1-inch wicker bill; a rear fascia extension panel similar to that currently used for superspeedway events; a 2-inch leading edge on the splitter; and a 43-inch splitter extension panel. Intent: High drag on big, wide tracks at 2.5-mile Indianapolis and 2-mile Michigan should lead to more pack racing and drafting; aero impact lessened on trailing car, promoting more passing and side-by-side racing throughout the field; speeds were initially projected to slow by 10 mph. Key quote: "Everybody agrees that close, competitive racing, being able to pass -- that's important for us to continue to deliver on." -- NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton More: Drivers react after Kenseth victory • Tweak set for Michigan • Cars get hotter, drivers affected • Helton addresses high drag package, concerns
Dale Jr., Hamlin also topped Friday's practice leaderboards RELATED: See the new spoiler at Indy this weekend Practice 3: Full results Kurt Busch led the final Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network/Live Extra, SiriusXM). The Stewart-Haas Racing driver jumped to the lead near the end of the final session, putting up a high speed of 181.987 mph. Coming up short in speed to the No. 41 driver was Kevin Harvick (181.763 mph). Kyle Larson (181.357 mph), Jimmie Johnson (180.697 mph) and Martin Truex Jr . (180.672 mph) rounded out the top-five fastest on the leaderboard. Denny Hamlin led the series’ first practice at the Brickyard, but fell to 31st-fastest in the final round. Dale Earnhardt Jr . also led a practice session, but was 32nd-fastest, right behind Hamlin, in the closing run. Jeff Gordon , the defending race winner, finished 23rd-fastest in the final session. The Sprint Cup Series takes the track at the Brickyard for the Coors Light Pole Qualifying session tomorrow at 1:10 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network/Live Extra). Practice 2: Full results A fast lap of 181.466 mph sent Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s No. 88 soaring to the top of the leaderboard early during Friday's second practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . The Hendrick Motorsports driver found more speed in this session, having posted a high speed of 181.046 mph (ranked seventh) in the opening session this morning at the Brickyard. Team Penske 's Brad Keselowski came up just behind Earnhardt, scoring a fast lap of 181.448 mph in his No. 2 Ford to snag the second spot. Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne ranked third (181.408 mph), while Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates' Kyle Larson (181.378 mph) and Michael Waltrip Racing 's Clint Bowyer (181.331 mph) rounded out the top five. Last year's Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon showed speed again in this session, propelling around the famed speedway at 181.189 mph to earn the sixth spot. Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick was 14th-fastest, rounding the Indiana track at 179.583 mph in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Reigning XFINITY champion Chase Elliott -- who will be making his fourth Sprint Cup Series start in Sunday's 400-mile event -- clocked a fast lap of 178.798 mph in his No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, giving him the 17th-fastest speed in the field. After topping the opening practice, Denny Hamlin ran into trouble early in the second session when the hood of his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota flew up and hit the windshield. The bizarre occurance -- which NASCAR determined was caused by the hood not being properly pinned down -- brought out the caution for debris. His No. 11 team replaced the hood and the windshield and Hamlin returned to the race track to score the 12th-fastest speed. Paul Menard 's No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet returned to the track after hitting the wall during opening practice. The 2011 Brickyard 400 winner ranked 22nd on the leaderboard. Practice 1: Full results Denny Hamlin rose to the top of the leaderboard Friday morning in opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice as teams got their first taste of a new aerodynamic package at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . Hamlin drove the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota to a fast lap of 182.208 mph on the 2.5-mile track. The 34-year-old driver won the Coors Light Pole Award at the Brickyard in 2012. Jimmie Johnson , a four-time Brickyard winner, managed the second-fastest lap at 181.796 mph in the 85-minute session, but the show of speed was tempered by a fuel-pressure issue that brought the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet to a halt on the track at the 50-minute mark of practice. He was pushed back to the garage with help from the No. 14 Chevy of Tony Stewart . Defending Sprint Cup Series champion and current points leader Kevin Harvick was third-fastest at 181.756 mph in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet in preparation for Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM). Five-time Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon was fourth-fastest at 181.444 mph in preparation for his final race at the historic speedway . Gordon prevailed in the inaugural NASCAR race at Indy in 1994 and triumphed last season to top the series' all-time win list at the 2.5-mile track. Stewart, a two-time Brickyard winner, completed the top five on the leaderboard. With new aero devices in place to make the cars less smooth through the air, Hamlin's speed was significantly slower than Matt Kenseth 's 186.285 mph lap that led first practice at the Brickyard last year. The lap was also off the 188.470-mph pace set by Kevin Harvick in Coors Light Pole Qualifying at Indianapolis in 2014. The new high-drag rules package was designed with the hopes of promoting more side-by-side racing at the rectangular track, where passing has typically been difficult. The biggest aerodynamic change was to the rear spoiler, which was raised to a 9-inch height and capped by a new wicker bill on top. Though a portion of the larger spoiler is made of clear, hard Lexan plastic, a handful of drivers -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano among them -- complained of some visibility issues in their rear view. Chase Elliott , set to replace Gordon as a Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet next season, was 15th-fastest in preparation for the fourth Sprint Cup start of his career. His No. 25 Chevy from the Hendrick stables clocked a best lap of 179.939 mph. Former Indianapolis winner Paul Menard scraped the outside retaining wall at approximately the 30-minute mark, causing slight damage to the right side of the Richard Childress Racing No. 27 Chevrolet. After repairs, Menard was able to return to the track, setting the 21st-fastest lap. Two more practices are scheduled Friday for the Sprint Cup Series -- 1-2:25 p.m. ET and 4-5:55 p.m. ET, with both broadcast on NBC Sports Network. Coors Light Pole Qualifying, which will use single-car runs to set the 43-car field, is scheduled Saturday at 1:10 p.m. ET. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Catch up quickly before the Brickyard 400, 3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN/Live Extra) RELATED: See the paint schemes for all 43 cars What : Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard Where : Indianapolis Motor Speedway , 2.5-mile oval in Speedway , Ind. When : Sunday, July 26; 3:30 pm ET. TV/Radio : NBCSN, IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Distance : 400 miles, 160 laps. Pit road speed : 55 mph Caution car speed : 70 mph Fuel window : 33 laps On the front row " See full starting lineup The Indianapolis front row should look very familiar to NASCAR fans as pole-winner Carl Edwards and outside polesitter Joey Logano started in the same positions last week at New Hampshire. Edwards' pole-winning speed of 183.464 mph in the No. 19 Toyota earned the Joe Gibbs Racing driver his first front row start at the iconic Indy track and it is the first NASCAR pole position for Toyota at Indy. Logano's second place qualifying effort will mean his eighth front row start in 19 races. He has four poles. Fastest in practice First practice: Denny Hamlin , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota (182.208 mph) " Full practice results Second practice: Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet (181.466 mph) " Full practice results Final practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (181.987 mph) " Full practice results Last year's winner : The event's inaugural winner Jeff Gordon won his record fifth Brickyard 400 last July, tying him with Formula One's Michael Schumacher for the most victories at the famous speedway . After passing Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne on a late restart Gordon pulled away to a hefty 2.3-second win over JGR teammates Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth . It marked Gordon's 90th career Cup win. On the line : Seven races remain to set the 16-car Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field, and you have to go back six races to Truex's June 7 win at Pocono to find the last driver to automatically punch his winning ticket into the Chase. Kyle Busch has won three of the last four races, but still sits 58 points out of 30th place -- the cutoff points position to qualify for the Chase. The recent schedule has been dominated by repeat winners while preseason favorites such as Clint Bowyer , three-time Cup champ Tony Stewart , Ganassi Racing teammates Jamie McMuray and Kyle Larson and Hendrick drivers Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne are among the A-list names still looking for a victory. Home cooking : Just listening to the cheers from the crowd, there's no doubt that Indianapolis loves its homegrown drivers. That was apparent with every qualifying attempt on Saturday and will be evident in Sunday's race. Of course it's easy to cheer for your own when that includes four-time Cup champion Gordon, of Pittsboro, Indiana, three-time champion Tony Stewart from nearby, Columbus, Indiana, and former Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 winner Ryan Newman , of South Bend, Indiana. And the three account for eight Brickyard 400 wins (Gordon, 5; Stewart 2, Newman 1). "That's huge, when you come home, that's what you want,'' Stewart said of the reception he received after posting the fastest lap in the first round of Saturday's qualifying. Gordon was equally appreciative. "It's amazing and I love that,'' said the retiring Gordon, whose hometown Pittsboro honored him with a parade Thursday afternoon on a day the governor declared " Jeff Gordon Day." "When I'm in the car I'm focused on doing my job, but when I'm out of it, I feel the support here and not just this weekend, it's over the years." New package : The loudest buzz in the garage centered on NASCAR's new aerodynamic package being used Sunday at Indianapolis (and again at Michigan next month). Cars have been outfitted with a 9-inch spoiler that sits three inches higher than used at the 1.5-mile tracks and 6-inches taller than used at the 1-mile New Hampshire oval last week. The hope is the higher drag created by the spoiler will increase passing on the 2.5-mile speedway . A different variation to the cars -- a lower downforce package -- used at Kentucky two weeks ago produced a track record 22 green-flag passes for the lead. After three practice sessions Friday, the verdict was still unclear on what to expect Sunday. "I'm extremely happy with NASCAR’s ability to make some changes and really experiment and try new things,'' said Gordon, who qualified 19th for his final Brickyard start. "But, it's going to be really crazy out there. So, I don’t know for sure. For the little bit of time I spent behind other cars, it was a handful through the corners. So, restarts are going to be wild and crazy; so everybody needs to stay tuned-in." RELATED: See what the new spoiler looks like Nuts and Bolts Kyle Busch has eight top-10 finishes at Indianapolis -- including runner-up finishes two of the last three years -- despite having only one top-10 start at the track. ... Toyota has won its first pole for the Brickyard 400 but Chevrolet holds a 12-year winning streak in the race -- the longest current streak for a manufacturer. ... Amazingly 17 of 21 Brickyard 400 races have been won by Sprint Cup Series champions including, Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott , Dale Jarrett, Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Harvick , Bobby Labonte and Stewart. They said it "Well, I mean it could go and be a natural disaster tomorrow. It could all be for nothing. It's the way you want to start the weekend for sure is to have two good runs in qualifying and have a decent starting spot. That is definitely what we were looking for today." -- Tony Stewart , driver of No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy after his fourth-place qualifying effort. "Regardless of how this race turns out, as a group we've been working really good together and I'm hoping it continues to build. Kyle Busch coming back, although it is making us look a little bad the last few weeks, I think it's been really good. He's hauling the mail, going really fast and doing a good job. We're going to keep building on that. It's neat to be competitive within your own group in a productive way." -- Carl Edwards , driver of the No. 19 Stanley Tools Toyota, after earning himself and the car manufacturer its first NASCAR pole position at Indianapolis . FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
'Smoke' after the emotional win: 'Today's been my entire life' Tony Stewart knew what the fans wanted. The Columbus, Indiana, native had just crossed the start-finish line to win the coveted 2005 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway , his first win at his hometown track. A roar from full grandstands greeted him, chanting "Tony! Tony!" in unison. And after a day like today, a jubilant Stewart wasn't one to disappoint. Following his victory lap around the storied race track, Stewart stopped just short of the flag stand where the iconic bricks lay, climbed out of his No. 20 Chevrolet and strode over to the catch fence. Then, "Smoke" -- along with his crew -- began to climb the catch fence, joining the fans in a long-awaited celebration. "I wish I could put into words," an exhausted but excited Stewart said after his fence climb, as he lay on the front stretch wall. "Today's been my entire life." Indianapolis was one of the races Stewart had circled on his schedule for quite some time. Not only was it his hometown track, but it was also a track where his hero -- driver A.J. Foyt -- had dominated with four Indianapolis 500 wins. Stewart's 2005 win at Indianapolis put him further ahead in the championship point standings and ultimately led to him earning the 2005 Cup championship. PHOTOS: See Cup drivers kiss the bricks But that would come later in the season. On that August day in 2005, it was all about Stewart, Indianapolis and a famous line of bricks.
Keep tabs on this week's national series activity The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway . The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will race at Eldora Speedway in Ohio this week. Here's more info on how you can follow along all weekend. RACES Sprint Cup Series: Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (Sunday, July 26, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, IMS Radio, SiriusXM) XFINITY Series: Lilly Diabetes 250 (Saturday, July 25, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC, IMS Radio, SiriusXM) Camping World Truck Series: 1-800-Car-Cash Mud Summer Classic (Wednesday, July 22, 9 p.m. FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM) &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;nbsp; WEEKEND SCHEDULE Click here for on-track times, press conferences, leaderboards and GarageCam. RACE DAY • NSCS leaderboard • NXS leaderboard • NCWTS leaderboard • NSCS Lap-by-Lap • NXS Lap-by-Lap • NCWTS Lap-by-Lap • NSCS live standings PRODUCTS • RaceBuddy: Through the remainder of the season, NASCAR RaceBuddy will feature two (2) alternate live action camera angles, along with up to six (6) in-car cameras with different driver selections for each Sprint Cup race and four (4) for XFINITY races. • RaceView: Watch virtual video of cars on track and listen to the scanner. • RaceView Mobile: On your phone? Try RaceView here. • Scanner: In-car audio only. • Mobile Apps: Follow the leaderboards live from your device. NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA Web stream: NBC Sports Live Extra Mobile app: iOS/Android NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs will provide racing fans with unparalleled interactive digital access to every NASCAR Sprint Cup series race, including exclusive camera angles, custom diver information, and insider track information. • Multi-view options that bring fans inside the race, combining NBC Sports Group’s race simulcast and alternative camera angles, ranging from in-car views to various key track locations. For the Quaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto Parts NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on July 11, one specialty camera will offer an innovative speed shot from Turn 4, capturing the cars as they speed by. • Dedicated full-view, on-board alternate cameras. • Additional features on the desktop/laptop experience, bringing fans comprehensive race-day information to their fingertips, including: • Driver updates, cup standings, and biographies • Track infographics with key facts and history NBC Sports Live Extra will stream NASCAR coverage on NBC and NBCSN via "TV Everywhere", giving consumers additional value to for their subscription service, and making high quality content available to MVPD customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms. The NBC Sports Live Extra app is available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store and Apple TV. For desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at NBCSports.com/liveextra . FOX SPORTS GO The Camping World Truck Series UNOH 225 will be available through FOX Sports GO; which is an online and mobile streaming product that allows subscribers of participating TV providers to watch live sports and shows from FOX, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2 and FOX Deportes. FOX Sports GO is currently available for download on iTunes for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices or can be accessed online at FOXSportsGO.com . The app is also available via Google Play, Kindle Fire and from the Windows Store. Access to programming in FOX Sports GO requires a pay TV subscription of FOX Sports 1 with a participating TV provider. Login credentials are the same username and password used to access online accounts with your TV provider. FANTASY • NASCAR Fantasy Live: Set your lineups, check your progress • Streak to the Finish: Play in all three national series LIVE INTERVIEWS PressPass: Watch exclusive post-race interviews. Stay tuned to NASCAR.com throughout the weekend for the latest news.
Miss Coors Light, Amanda Mertz, catches up with Carl Edwards after he secures his second pole in as many weeks and his first at Indianapolis Motor Speedway .
Check out the top five best moments at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as Kyle Busch sweeps the weekend claiming his third consecutive NSCS win and fourth overall win of the 2015 season.
NASCAR.com’s Chris Rice and Jonathan Merryman give their fantasy picks for this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway .
Jeff Burton takes the Toyota Camry Test Car around the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway before The Brickyard 400.