John Wes Townley cleared to compete at Pocono Raceway
Concord, N.C. (July 26, 2016) – John Wes Townley received medical clearance earlier today to resume racing in NASCAR and ARCA. He will compete in this weekend's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and ARCA events at Pocono Raceway . Townley had been sidelined for the past four weeks while being treated for mild concussion-like symptoms. "I'd like to thank Parker Kligerman, Cole Custer and Brady Boswell for filling in for me," Townley said. "I feel great and I’m looking forward to racing at Pocono this week."
Weather impacts Pocono on-track action
RELATED: Live radar, forecast updates for Pocono Overnight rain soaked the track at Pocono Raceway , and Saturday's schedule has been adjusted as drying efforts continue. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying was set for 9:05 a.m. ET on FS1 before wet weather canceled the event. The lineup for the Pocono Mountains 150 will be set by practice speeds; William Byron will start on the pole. RELATED: Full lineup for Trucks race at Pocono The lone NASCAR Sprint Cup Series activity of the day comes at 11 a.m. with an 80-minute practice session on NBCSN. The Camping World Truck Series' Pocono Mountains 150 is scheduled for Saturday (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) Water seeping upward through breaks in the 2.5-mile track's pavement briefly delayed the start of Friday morning's opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice. This was the only delay in Friday's on-track schedule. The Sprint Cup Series' Pennsylvania 400 is set for Sunday (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Jeff Gordon set for longer sub stint in No. 88, if needed
RELATED: Weekend schedule for Pocono, Iowa LONG POND, Pa. -- Jeff Gordon maintains that he is looking at his stint in the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports "as a very temporary thing," but adds he's willing to remain in the role "as long as they need me." "I say that very loosely," Gordon quickly added Friday at Pocono Raceway , site of Sunday's Pennsylvania 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, where he will line up 24th on the grid (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. is said to be making progress in his recovery from concussion-like symptoms that sidelined him following the July 9 race at Kentucky Speedway. Alex Bowman drove for the team the following weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway before Gordon took over last weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "It was great last Friday to see him say 'hey I feel good today and made some progress,'" Gordon said of Earnhardt. "We want to just keep going with how he is feeling. The doctors are evaluating. I'm not speculating anything at this time. "I wouldn't be here in Pocono if I wasn't committed to be there for Hendrick Motorsports and this team in any way that they need me. I think there is a balance between trying to make this transition. First of all you want Dale to have the comfort of knowing that somebody is there for him. He doesn't have to worry about that aspect of it through this process. "… Then there is the side of who is the best person to be in the car to get the most points. And then there is the sponsorship side of it as well. So far from what Rick (Hendrick, team owner) is telling me that seems to be me. That is why I was at Indy and that is why I'm here." The series travels to Watkins Glen International next weekend, with an off-weekend before heading to Bristol, Tennessee. HMS officials have not indicated who would be in the car if Earnhardt Jr. is unable to return for next week’s event. Gordon, a four-time series champion who moved from the driver’s seat to the television booth after the 2015 season, finished 13th at Indy; Bowman was 26th at New Hampshire. There have been "a couple" of conversations between Gordon and Earnhardt Jr., Gordon said, noting that his former teammate "likes to FaceTime." "It seems like he is always on the treadmill every time I see him or talk to him," Gordon said. "He is just real interested in what we are up to and how it's going and things we are working on. I think also a lot of it is … evaluating where they are at as a team and some of the set-ups and whether I'm going to be making the same comments as he was making when he was in the car. "So far, I feel like it's been very similar. Definitely, any amount of information that I can get to help me prepare for every time I'm on the track is great information. I'm asking everybody questions just trying to get up to speed everywhere we go including Dale." RELATED: Latest updates on Dale Jr. Prior to competing at Indy, Gordon was able to reacquaint himself with the track through simulation programs; he also pulled information from teammate Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team, which tested at the 2.5-mile track the previous week. That hasn't been the case this week. "Get fitted in the car, debrief with the team from Indianapolis and then preparation for Pocono," he said. "Didn't have test video from some of our teammates for here like we did last week at Indianapolis and I didn't have time to get in the driving simulator either. "The first few laps today were definitely again a steep learning curve. This is a very challenging race track so it's going to be a tough, challenging weekend, but I do like this track and (there is) a little bit to learn with this new package." Earnhardt's absence has resulted in a fall from 13th to 17th in the points standings. He will need to either a race win or be 15th or higher (based on the current list of winners and their respectively point standing) in points to potentially earn a position in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He would also need a waiver from NASCAR, something that would not be determined until he has officially been cleared to return to competition. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Truex tops again in final Pocono practice
RELATED: Final practice results " Sunday's lineup Martin Truex Jr. rose to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaderboard in the final practice Saturday at Pocono Raceway . Truex, who will start first in Sunday's Pennsylvania 400 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) after his chart-topping performance in Friday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying, registered a lap of 176.377 mph in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota. Brad Keselowski hustled the Team Penske No. 2 Ford to the second-fastest lap at 176.136 mph on the 2.5-mile triangular track. Keselowski, scheduled for double-duty in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night, will start seventh in Sunday's 400-miler. Kevin Harvick, racing this weekend without suspended crew chief Rodney Childers, was third-fastest with a lap of 176.012 mph in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Kurt Busch and rookie Chase Elliott completed the top five in the 80-minute session. Truex Jr. also logged the fastest 10-lap average at 174.625 mph, with Austin Dillon (174.442 mph) second and Harvick (174.384 mph) third. Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon was 24th-fastest in final prep for his second Sprint Cup start of the season as a replacement for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet. Earnhardt is sitting out for the third straight weekend with concussion-like symptoms. Defending race winner Matt Kenseth notched the 18th-fastest lap in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota. Kyle Busch, the defending Sprint Cup champ and last weekend's winner at Indianapolis, was sixth-fastest in another Gibbs entry, the No. 18 Toyota. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Byron wins at Pocono for fifth victory of 2016
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings MORE: New name in Chase Grid LONG POND, Pa. – Saturday's Pocono Mountains 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Pocono Raceway featured no Sprint Cup drivers in the field. Then again, the race didn't need any representation from NASCAR’s top division, as dominant as William Byron was. The 18-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, led 44 of 60 laps in the No. 9 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota in a caution-filled event and pulled away to beat runner-up Cameron Hayley to the finish line by a comfortable 1.407 seconds. The victory was the fifth in 12th starts this year for the first-year driver, who broke Kurt Busch's rookie record of four wins in 2000. "That 9 is so fast," commented Hayley. "We need to really go back and look at things, because he's definitely a step above us. But we worked hard all day, and we were able to come out at least for a second-place finish. "We would have liked to win, but that 9 is pretty fast, so we'll keep trying." Byron had his sights set on the rookie record from the outset. "It means a lot," said Byron, who pitted for fuel for the last time on Lap 25 and spent the rest of the race saving gas. "It was definitely a goal—I can't lie about that. I knew that was something to beat, and we just show up with so much focus. "We never get off track, I feel like. It's just a credit to where we are as a race team, the work we're doing, the work they're doing in the shop on the trucks, and we're putting it all together when we get to the race track." Byron's wasn’t the only mark set on Saturday. The race produced a record nine cautions for 27 laps, and the spate of yellow flags allowed both Byron and Hayley to get 35 laps out of their last tanks of fuel. Christopher Bell, the victim of an early wreck when John Wes Townley knocked his No. 4 Tundra into the outside wall, lost five laps under repairs, but Bell received a series-record five free passes under caution as the highest-scored lapped truck and returned to the lead lap in time for the final restart on Lap 57. Bell rescued an unexpected 10th-place finish. "I was just out there trying to log laps," Bell said. "And the next thing you know, there was a yellow. Then there was another yellow, and they said, 'You're the lucky dog, come on around.' The last yellow put us on the lead lap, and we were able to capitalize on it. "To come out of here with a top 10 was remarkable for us." Brett Moffitt ran third in a substitute role for Matt Tifft, who is undergoing treatment after surgery to remove a brain tumor. Timothy Peters came home fourth, followed by Cole Custer. Byron increased his lead in the series standings to 25 points over second-place Matt Crafton, who finished 12th on Saturday. Daniel Hemric, who spun and collected Brad Keselowski Racing teammate Tyler Reddick to cause the fifth caution, is tied with Peters for third in the standings, 37 points behind Byron. </p>
'Any way I can:' Bell laughs at free-pass record
RELATED: Race results William Byron continued his record-setting ways Saturday afternoon at Pocono Raceway , but teammate Christopher Bell made his own bit of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history with an unconventional comeback. A deluge of caution periods helped the 21-year-old Bell storm from five laps down after early misfortune to post an unlikely 10th-place finish in Saturday's Pocono Mountains 150. Bell was the beneficiary in each of the final five yellow flags to snag a lead-lap finish and set a series record for free passes. "I'll take a record any way I can get 'em," said Bell, who rallied for his fifth consecutive top-10 finish. Bell was scheduled to start fifth but faced an early deficit before the drop of the green flag, pitting his Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 4 Toyota during the pace laps with what a team spokesperson called a low-voltage issue. He was forced to start at the rear of the 32-truck field after the unapproved pre-race adjustment. He lost more ground with his involvement in the race's third caution, crashing in Turn 2 with John Wes Townley on the 16th of 60 laps, setting off an unfortunate chain of events and repairs before his mammoth comeback. "I had no idea. I was just kind of going through the motions and doing what I was told on the radio and just kind of along for the ride," Bell said of his methodical rally. "The next thing you know, we get the truck back out there and the fenders aren't clearanced right, then we cut a right-rear tire. That was under the green flag so then we just sat there on pit road and (crew chief) Jerry (Baxter) made the call to just sit there and make it right. By the time we got going, we were five laps down, just out there trying to log laps." The seemingly insurmountable gap was closed with the help of five caution periods in the final 31 laps. With each unfurling of the yellow flag, Bell was directed by race control to pass the field under caution to make up a lap. "The next thing you know, there's a yellow: 'Hey we're the lucky dog, come on around,' " Bell said. "Then hey, there's another yellow, come on around. By the end of the day, the last yellow put us on the lead lap and we were able to capitalize on it. To come out of here with a top 10 was remarkable for us."
Moffitt hopes third-place run opens more doors
RELATED: Full race results LONG POND, Pa. -- Brett Moffitt finished the 2015 season as the Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year. He started the 2016 season without a ride -- in any national series. After completing his rookie campaign behind the wheel of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports ride currently inhabited by reigning XFINITY Series champion Chris Buescher, Moffitt found himself seatless heading into this season with more questions than answers regarding his career trajectory. Fill-in duty came calling earlier this month as Red Horse Racing needed a driver for its No. 11 Toyota at Kentucky, with Matt Tifft sidelined following surgery to remove a low-grade brain tumor. After starting second, an engine failure while running in the top five relegated Moffitt to a 31st-place finish. RELATED: Tifft tweets upbeat video post-surgery The 23-year-old was again behind the wheel at Pocono Raceway for Saturday's Pocono Mountains 150, carving his way through the field -- and a wreck-heavy, race-record nine cautions -- to finish third after starting 15th. Despite the lack of seat time this season, it appears Moffitt hasn't forgotten what to do when his team gives him a machine capable of competing. "We didn't make a single adjustment on it during the race; we really had a good truck. (Crew chief) Scott (Zipadelli) called a great race; great strategy. Got us up front when it mattered," Moffitt said. " … We were actually really lucky (to stay out of the wrecks). It seemed like when it happened, it would happen right in front of us, so we were able to duck to the bottom and avoid before cars get stacked up three and four-wide trying to avoid it and you get forced into a lane. "It worked out alright for us, we just saw a lot of attrition right in front of us. Part of qualifying getting rained out was that we started mid-pack and we had to do what the leaders didn't. So that's why we went with that strategy and it ended up working out, but it was a little bit nerve-wracking through the middle section of the race there." With the finish -- his best across all NASCAR national series in 43 starts -- Moffitt is hoping it results in keeping his name fresh in people's minds, as he has no other opportunities lined up at the current moment. Regardless, he'll be ready at the drop of a hat should any team, Red Horse Racing included, call him up for a spot start or more. "(Red Horse) like to keep it last minute, so I found out about a week ago Friday," he said. "It's a little stressful during that week to get everything ready and it's hard on the guys at the shop, but they do a great job adjusting to multiple drivers this year and they continue to prove that. "I don't think I've had a clear path my whole career. I've kind of been riding each opportunity I get, you know? Last year it was in the 55 car when Brian (Vickers) was out and this year it's in the 11 truck with Matt Tifft being out. Not the way I want to get opportunities, by someone else's hard fortune, but it's good to make the most of them. "Hopefully this opens the door for some more races."
Truex tames Pocono for Coors Light Pole Award
RELATED: Qualifying results " See every car in the field LONG POND, Pa. – Martin Truex Jr. found a lot more than light at the end of the Tunnel on Friday afternoon at Pocono Raceway . Gaining time on the rest of the field through Turn 2—the Tunnel Turn—at the 2.5-mile triangular race track, Truex put his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota on the pole for Sunday’s Pennsylvania 400 (on NBCSN at 1:30 p.m. ET; MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), knocking fellow Toyota Camry driver Carl Edwards out of the top starting spot. It's not that Truex and his team made a special point of emphasis on that particularly tricky corner. It just worked out that way, earning Truex his third Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his first at Pocono and the 10th of his career. "For whatever reason, today—all day long—I felt comfortable there, more so than past times here," said Truex, who ran his fastest lap of the day (179.244 mph) in the third and final round of knockout qualifying for the 21st NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season. "The first race here (in June) we really struggled in the Tunnel Turn. "We kind of focused on it a little bit coming back, as far as just making sure it was closer to Turn 1 and Turn 3 and not something that would really handcuff us so bad. So maybe that had something to do with it—I'm not sure—but it just kind of worked out that way, for whatever reason. "Each round I felt a little bit more comfortable and was able to gain a little more time there, and the third round I was able to just kind of sail off in there and get a little bit lucky and hit it right. It's one of those corners that, if you take a risk going in, nine out of 10 times it doesn’t pay off coming out of the corner. This time it did, and we were able to take advantage of it." On the strength of his run through the Tunnel Turn, Truex covered the distance in 50.211 seconds, .104 seconds faster than Edwards (178.873 mph), who thought he had the pole won when he completed his lap in the final round. "As I crossed the line, I felt like, 'That’s it'," said Edwards, who was a close second to Kyle Busch in pole qualifying last week at Indianapolis. "But after seeing what (Truex) ran, I thought 'Well, maybe I could go back and change this or that,' but that was a really good lap for me. It just was. "You can always go back and pick your lap apart, but the last two weeks, Indy and here, I was pretty proud of my lap, and they just got us." Paul Menard (178.671 mph) qualified third, the fastest of three Richard Childress Racing drivers in the top 12, with Ryan Newman placing fifth and Austin Dillon placing 12th. That's the first time all three RCR Chevrolets have cracked the top 12 for the same race since August of 2014 at Michigan. Denny Hamlin claimed the fourth spot on the grid. Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano will start from positions six through 10, respectively. Subbing for ailing Dale Earnhardt Jr., six-time Pocono winner Jeff Gordon advanced to the second round but went no farther, qualifying 24th. Gordon made two runs in the first round to ensure he would make the second, and that eventually cost him. "The first time out, the car was pretty close, a little bit tight, but we should have been better that first time out, and then we wouldn't of had to gone out the second time," Gordon said. "But overall just too tight over the Tunnel (Turn). "The car is really good down in (Turn) 1. I picked up speed every time we went out. I think having to do that last run our third time on tires didn’t really give us a good chance to advance and get the lap that we wanted. It's still a work in progress." NASCAR competition officials delayed the start of qualifying by 20 minutes to allow teams extra time to make their way through the Laser Inspection Station (LIS). Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said that a glitch early Friday forced the wait time in the inspection process. "I'm not exactly sure of the exact technical thing that happened (with the LIS), but it got back online really quick," Miller said. "One thing I want to make clear is, the reason we're moving this back is because we had a little bit of ownership in it with our equipment. On a regular weekend, if everything … if we had our time block and our equipment worked fine and this was a team issue getting through templates and they didn't get out there, we would be inclined not to extend qualifying and if they miss qualifying it's on them." Despite the delay, all teams made it through inspection in time for the first 20-minute round of qualifying. The last of those was the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota team for driver Kyle Busch, who cut it close but made his first qualifying pass with roughly five minutes left in the opening session. No. 18 crew chief Adam Stevens told NBCSN that the car was initially out of tolerance with the rear-axle toe. Busch will start 16th after missing out on the 12-driver cut after qualifying's Round 2. His brother Kurt, who won the Sprint Cup tour's most recent race at Pocono, was 15th-fastest and will start alongside him in the eighth row. Contributing: Staff reports &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Keselowski talks safety, details Watkins Glen wreck
LONG POND, Pa. -- Brad Keselowski's bone-jarring crash at Watkins Glen International earlier this week was the result of an improperly installed brake line on his No. 2 Penske Racing Ford. "There was an installation error with the brakes," Keselowski said Friday at Pocono Raceway , site of Sunday's Pocono 400 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). "The brake line wasn't installed in the proper way and it broke." Keselowski's accident occurred July 26 during the first day of a two-day organizational test for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams at WGI. The series is scheduled to compete there Aug. 5-7. Moments after completing a session-leading lap of 124.572 mph on the 2.45-mile road course, Keselowski's Ford went off track and nose-first into the tire barrier located at the end of the frontstretch. He was not injured in the high-speed impact, and was back on track the following day in a backup entry. "I understand the whole tire barrier concept," Keselowski, said. "In general, I'm not comfortable with tracks that have runoffs that lead to very harsh angles, and that's certainly the situation that (WGI) has, and always has had it. "Road courses remain the most dangerous tracks in motorsports for a good reason because of that, but we know that going in. Some place has to be the safest and some place has to be the most dangerous." Safety advances made by NASCAR as well as many of the teams competing today have lessened the likelihood of serious injury, but the threat remains. In 2011, Keselowski won at Pocono less than a week after chipping a bone in his ankle during a hard crash during testing at Road Atlanta. That incident led to a complete evaluation by the organization of its safety protocols. The result was a redesign of the pedals, floorboard and seat, he said, and the evolution of steering wheels and other interior pieces have lessened the threat of serious injury as well. "From what I can tell at this moment, all of the pieces that we were able to redesign performed very well," Keselowski said of the WGI incident. "The one piece that we weren't able to redesign was the steering column. That's probably the weakest link in those type of impacts at the moment." What else needs to be done? Keselowski admitted he doesn't have the answer. "The answers I do have," he said, "is that there's only so many of those hits you are going to take before someone gets killed. It's just the way it is. "It's not something I'm comfortable with, but I think as a sport there are a lot of different ways to look at it. At the end of the day I'm still standing here. "That's something that the smart guys that work on that stuff are going to have to figure out some time."
Menard charges atop opening Pocono practice
RELATED: Practice 1 results Paul Menard, potentially benefiting in his first race weekend with a new crew chief, topped the opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday at Pocono Raceway . Menard, driving the Richard Childress Racing No. 27 Chevrolet, clocked a best lap of 177.438 mph on the 2.5-mile track. It's the first weekend that Menard will be paired with crew chief Danny Stockman, who replaced Justin Alexander midweek. Denny Hamlin, a four-time Pocono winner, was second-fastest at 177.406 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota. He was just ahead of defending Sprint Cup champ Kyle Busch, his teammate and last weekend's winner at Indianapolis, in the JGR No. 18 Toyota. Carl Edwards was fourth, keeping the line of Coach Joe Gibbs' entries going. He was fourth-best at 176.977 mph in the No. 19 Toyota. Kevin Harvick, still seeking to end an 0-for-31 drought at the Tricky Triangle with his first Pocono win, completed the top five at 176.620 mph in preparation for Sunday's Pennsylvania 400 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Danica Patrick had the best 10 consecutive lap average (171.094) with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. behind her at 167.161 mph. The two were the only drivers to run 10 consecutive practice laps. Jeff Gordon turned the 22nd-fastest lap in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet, making his second straight appearance this weekend as an interim fill-in for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms. The session, originally scheduled for 85 minutes, was abbreviated to 63 minutes by water seeping up through seams in the 2.5-mile track's surface. Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. ET (NBCSN).