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Live chat: Pocono and Iowa
Chat with fans this weekend during the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway and Iowa Speedway.
Dale Jr. gives post-Indy health update
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he still is working to eliminate concussion-like symptoms that have sidelined him for the last two weeks in an update provided in the latest edition of the Dale Jr. Download podcast on Tuesday. "You can race with some ailments," Earnhardt said. "You can race with a bad wrist -- or we've seen Denny (Hamlin) and guys race with bad knees. But one of the things you cannot race through is concussion-like symptoms. You know, the balance-deal is a critical part of being able to drive a race car. "This process is going to take a little bit longer -- I think that's what I was trying to convey when I was telling you guys how I was going to take this slow and listen to the advice of my doctors. I'm not going to go against that advice, no matter what. I can't play around at this age and with my history. I definitely don't need to get cute." This marks the second time in Earnhardt's Sprint Cup Series career that he has dealt with concussion-like symptoms, having been sidelined for two races in 2012 after a crash during a test at Kansas Speedway. Jeff Gordon , who drove the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is scheduled to fill in for Earnhardt again this weekend at Pocono Raceway . A date has not been announced for Earnhardt's return, but Junior, who says he has been doing physical and mental exercises for two-and-a-half hours each day, promised an update next Monday following his doctor's visit. "I'm going for another evaluation here soon to see what kind of gains we've made, get in front of my doctors, let them get a good look at me and let them tell me where they think I'm at," Earnhardt said. "And that will help us make the decision on what we're going to do for Watkins Glen." The full podcast can be found here . </p>
Stewart talks special moment with Gordon post-Indy
RELATED: Race results " Standings " Chase Grid " See the moment SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- With the field lined up for the first of what turned out to be two overtime restarts Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Tony Stewart clicked his radio and made a request. "Tell (the 88) after this is over let's go around the track one more time together," Stewart, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing and driver of the organization's No. 14 Chevrolet, said. Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and twice a winner of the The Combat Wounded Coalition 400, wanted to slow down instead of go fast, and soak in the moment with a familiar foe and friend, regardless of how his final race at IMS ended. Jeff Gordon , driving the Hendrick Motorsports entry in relief of Dale Earnhardt Jr. , was more than willing to oblige. Hours earlier, Gordon had paid tribute to Stewart, acknowledging him and what he has meant to NASCAR during the morning drivers' meeting. RELATED: Gordon talks return, Dale Jr. " WATCH: Gordon climbs in No. 88 So before race winner Kyle Busch made it to Victory Lane, prior to he and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates gathering to kiss the bricks on the finish line, Stewart and Gordon, two old warhorses with a combined seven championships and 142 Sprint Cup Series wins between them, slowly circled the 2.5-mile track one final time to the cheers of the fans and many of those still on pit road. MORE: Relive 'Smoke's' 49 career victories Afterward, Gordon climbed from his car and approached Stewart; the two hugged on pit road amid a throng of reporters. "I can say that just ranks in the top-three coolest moments of my 18 years in this series," said Stewart, who will retire from Sprint Cup racing at season's end. "To share that moment with Jeff here at Indianapolis, I don't know. I don't even have the words for it. That is a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life." For the record, Stewart finished 11th in his final Sprint Cup start at the famed Brickyard. It was a hard-fought 11th with the 45-year-old rallying from a lap down after running strong in the first half of the 170-lap race. Gordon, scheduled to make at least one more start next week at Pocono's Pennsylvania 400 in relief of Earnhardt Jr., rallied, too, to finish 13th. "Tony and I have gone through a lot over the years," he said. "But he and I have become really good friends. ... I'm just so proud that I was able to be here and race with him in his final race (at Indy)." Stewart ran as high as second early, moving up from his No. 3 starting position in spite of a slow takeoff when the race went green. Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz and the pit crew continued to make adjustments throughout the first half of the race, keeping Stewart inside the top 10, but at one point admitted to his driver, "We're just barely keeping up with the track." Stewart hit pit road at Lap 119 under green, and when the caution came out for an incident involving David Ragan , it appeared the move might work in the team’s favor -- others that hadn't pitted would come to pit road, allowing Stewart to gain track position. But a speeding penalty negated any advantage, and Stewart instead found himself in 31st and one lap down. By then, it was too late to change game plans, according to Bugarewicz. "Normally you would say yes when it's early in the race," he said. "When it's late in the race like that, your fate's almost ... you just have to race for the (free pass) and hope you get it like we did. That's all you've got. "Nobody was going to pit again if it stayed green because they're already in the last fuel window so at that point it was just ... banking on getting a caution and being the best car out of the cars that were a lap down to get the lucky dog, which is what we did. "We got fortunate with a few more cautions to let us line back up at the tail of the field and start picking them off." On Lap 140, Stewart passed Kasey Kahne (Hendrick Motorsports) to be in positon for the free pass, and when the caution flag waved for debris moments later, he was back on the lead lap. Three more cautions unfolded before the finish, including one that involved Stewart, Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing), Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing) and Brian Scott (Richard Petty Motorsports). WATCH: Big wreck claims multiple cars at Indy "That last one probably hurt us in one sense -- with the nose damage we had, the car was really tight," Bugarewicz said. "But ... we're not going to complain, we're just going to take what we've got and be happy for it." The finish moved Stewart up one spot, to 27th, in points. With a win earlier at California's Sonoma Raceway , he continues to improve his chances at earning a berth in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. But with Indy in his rearview, Stewart wasn't in a hurry to look too far down the road. "It was an awesome weekend," he said. "Everything went the way we wanted it to, we just came up short today. "I had fun all day and had fun all weekend. ... Everybody tried to make my weekend as easy as possible. It really gave me the opportunity to savor the moment and enjoy it." MORE: 'Smoke' receives unique gift from Indy
Full schedule for Pocono and Iowa
RELATED: Find NBCSN in your area " Watch live online at NBCSports.com The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will gather for a doubleheader weekend at Pocono Raceway while the NASCAR XFINITY Series is at Iowa Speedway this week. Check out the full weekend schedule below. Note: All times are ET FRIDAY, JULY 29: ON TRACK: POCONO -- 11 a.m.-12:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series first practice, NBCSN ( Follow live ) -- 12:30-1:55 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series first practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 3-3:55 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 4:15 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN ( Follow live ) GARAGECAM ( Watch live ) -- 10:30 a.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series -- noon: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series ON TRACK: IOWA -- 5-5:50 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series first practice, NBCSN will start coverage at 5:30 p.m. on a delay ( Follow live ) -- 7-8:20 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice, NBCSN ( Follow live ) SATURDAY, JULY 30: ON TRACK: POCONO -- 9:05 a.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 11 a.m.-12:20 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, NBCSN ( Follow live ) -- 1 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 (60 laps, 150 miles), FS1 ( Follow live ) ON TRACK: IOWA -- 4:15 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN ( Follow live ) -- 8 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series US Cellular 250 (250 laps, 218.75 miles), NBCSN ( Follow live ) SUNDAY, JULY 31: ON TRACK: POCONO -- 1:30 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 (160 laps, 400 miles), NBCSN ( Follow live )
RCR announces crew chief change for No. 27
Welcome, N.C. -- Richard Childress Racing (RCR) has made a change in crew chiefs for its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series programs, effective immediately. Danny Stockman, a two-time champion in the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series, will assume crew chief responsibilities for the No. 27 Menards Chevrolet SS team, with driver Paul Menard . Stockman's first race with the team will be at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, July 31. During Stockman's seven-year tenure with RCR, he has captured two championships and nine wins between the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series. The Yucaipa, California, native joins the No. 27 program already familiar with Menard, having worked with the veteran driver for the past two years in the XFINITY Series. Together, they produced a race win at Road America in 2015. Menard, who earned a spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase in 2015, is currently 23rd in the championship point standings. RCR's current NASCAR XFINITY Series Director, Gil Martin, will serve as interim crew chief for the No. 2 Rheem/Menards program. Martin, a 16-year veteran of RCR, is among a select group of crew chiefs that have won races in NASCAR's Sprint Cup, XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series.
No. 27 crew chief change hoping to 'spark results'
CONCORD, N.C. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Paul Menard hopes this week's crew chief change for his No. 27 Richard Childress Racing team can provide a "spark" as the team battles to get into this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field. With only six races remaining before the start of the Chase, RCR officials announced Monday that veteran Danny Stockman has assumed the crew chief duties, replacing Justin Alexander. Stockman's first race with the team will be this weekend's Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway . Alexander had been Menard's crew chief since joining the team with five races remaining in the 2014 season. "Justin is a great guy and extremely smart," Menard told NASCAR.com Tuesday, adding that he expects his former crew chief to "remain within RCR in some role." "The biggest thing is we just haven't run very good this year. We felt we had to do something to try and spark some results." Menard, who is closing in on his 350th career start in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, qualified for the Chase last season and finished a career-best 14th. But he's yet to earn a top-five finish this year, has only two-top 10s and sits 23rd in points. He was 13th in points after 20 races last season, and 15th at this time two years ago. The 16-team Chase field consist of drivers inside the top-30 in points that have one or more wins; if fewer than 16 drivers have won through this year's cutoff race at Richmond International Raceway in September, those 16th or higher in points without a win or wins will be awarded any remaining available spots in the field. Thus far, 11 drivers have one or more wins, meaning only five spots are currently available via points. Menard trails Kyle Larson by 75 points for the final spot in the Chase Grid. "At this point, we have to win a race to get in the Chase," Menard said. "We're going to shake things up and try to make that happen." Stockman guided Austin Dillon to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in 2011 and the XFINITY Series championship in '13 at RCR. He also served as crew chief for Menard for a victory at Road America in the XFINITY Series last year. This season, he has overseen the No. 2 XFINITY Series team for RCR, which has featured drivers Dillon, Menard and Ben Kennedy. Gil Martin, RCR XFINITY Series director, will fill Stockton's role. Menard is coming off a 10th-place finish this past weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he scored his lone Sprint Cup victory in 2011. "Danny has had a lot of success in the Truck and XFINITY Series," Menard said. "We're trying to get a spark for the team. We're consistently in the top 20, top 15 but we just haven't knocked out those top-10 and top-five finishes this season." In addition to Menard, RCR also fields Sprint Cup entries for drivers Dillon and Ryan Newman. Full-time XFINITY Series teams for the organization feature drivers Ty Dillon, Brandon Jones and Brendan Gaughan, as well as the fourth now spearheaded by Martin.
Chase-clinching scenarios at Pocono
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup doesn't begin until September, but several drivers could officially clinch a spot in the postseason field this weekend at Pocono Raceway . So far, the five drivers who have clinched Chase berths are Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. Below are Chase-clinching scenarios for this weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono: Possible to Clinch: Kevin Harvick (1 win, 671 points, +434 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. Kurt Busch (1 wins, 627 points, +390 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. Joey Logano (1 Win, 606 points, +369 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. Martin Truex Jr (1 win, 573 points, +336 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. Denny Hamlin (1 win, 542 points, +305 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. All of the above drivers have already clinched a position in the top 30 in the drivers points standings, but need to clear the multiple wins hurdle. It's possible that no drivers will clinch a Chase berth this weekend if a driver wins his first race of the season or an already-clinched driver wins.
NASCAR's Tharp named Darlington Raceway president
SHOP: Darlington race tickets Darlington Raceway announced Wednesday that it has named Kerry Tharp as president of the historic 1.366-mile South Carolina track. Tharp, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, transitions from his previous role as Senior Director of Communications for NASCAR. He replaces Chip Wile, who was appointed president of Daytona International Speedway on April 25 after a tenure of nearly three years. Tharp begins work at his new post effective July 18. Tharp has deep ties to the Palmetto State, having lived in South Carolina for more than 31 years and serving as associate athletics director at the University of South Carolina from 1985-2005. After his time with the Gamecocks, Tharp joined NASCAR's communications department, forging important relationships within the industry in both his official role as senior director and his unofficial role as NASCAR's "Commander." "I am deeply humbled and honored to have this opportunity," Tharp said. "I love the state of South Carolina and its people. I know how special Darlington Raceway is to this state and to the sport of NASCAR. The track's rich tradition, history, and popularity resonate with the competitors, partners, media and most importantly the fans. I look forward to working with our team to help keep Darlington as one of our sport's crown jewels." Darlington Raceway plays host to the Bojangles' Southern 500 on Sept. 4, a Labor Day weekend tradition that was restored on the NASCAR scheduled last season. The track instituted a popular NASCAR Throwback initiative last year, kicking off a nostalgia-filled celebration of the speedway's heritage. In acknowledgement, Darlington was honored with the 2015 NMPA Myers Brothers Award for its outstanding contributions to the sport of stock-car racing.
Bear makes appearance outside Pocono Raceway
Pocono Raceway already has a mascot -- Tricky, a fox -- but one hopeful candidate apparently did not get the memo that applications were no longer being accepted. — Mary Lou Hamlin (@11mommalou) June 4, 2016 Sprint Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin 's mom snagged a shot of a bear cub outside the entrance to the site of Sunday's Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 (1 p.m. ET, FS1). The photo almost looks like some Bigfoot-style imagery, lending a sense of ominous foreshadowing to the weekend. Especially when you consider the fact that where Baby Bear strays ... Mama Bear tends to be close behind. Be safe out there, folks.
Rain delays Axalta 400 at Pocono Raceway
RELATED: Live radar, weather updates from Pocono LONG POND, Pa. -- Rain has delayed the start of Sunday's Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway . Sunday's forecast called for a high percentage of rain, potentially heavy at times with possible thunderstorms. To combat the damp conditions, race officials have a total of 20 NASCAR Air Titan dryers and 10 conventional jet dryers on hand at the triangular 2.5-mile track. But NASCAR officials are also up against periodic fog, which has shrouded the speedway in spurts through the morning and into the afternoon. Two brief, heavy showers drenched the track Sunday morning, but a lingering mist has persisted after each downpour. Brad Keselowski is on the pole for the race after slipping past Team Penske teammate Joey Logano late in qualifying on Friday. It's his first Coors Light Pole Award of the season and the 12th of his Sprint Cup career. Martin Truex Jr ., who won last week's Coca-Cola 600 in dominating fashion at Charlotte, also is the defending winner of this race. Fellow Toyota driver Matt Kenseth won the August race at Pocono in 2015. Rain also abbreviated Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series race and shuffled Friday's on-track schedule, causing limited practice time for the Cup series. Truex said he was eager to see how the race played out as conditions change. "I'm interested to see what the tire's going to do just because of what I felt in the tire test and pretty optimistic about it," said Truex, one of four drivers who participated in a Goodyear tire test at Pocono in April, "but until we get everybody out there it's hard to say. I'm good either way. I just hope we get it in sometime Sunday and we'll see what happens.” Sunday's 160-lap, 400-mile race is the 14th of 36 events this season for the Sprint Cup Series.