'Big One' hits Talladega Truck Chase race
RELATED: Race results " Updated Truck Series Chase Grid A severe multi-truck crash thinned the field in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway . The melee was triggered in the 59th of 94 laps, when Ben Rhodes ' ThorSport Racing No. 41 Toyota was shuffled out of line after a push from Timothy Peters heading into the 2.66-mile track's first turn. After bouncing off the outside retaining wall, Rhodes' truck veered back into traffic, touching the No. 86 of Brandon Brown and congesting the high banks. "It's just a shame that it ended that way," said Rhodes, who was running third at the time of the crash. "I just felt a huge shove from the rear and I had no way of controlling it." With the track blocked, several other drivers piled in. Among those involved: pole-starter Cole Custer , Chase competitors Daniel Hemric , Peters and William Byron as well as Korbin Forrister , John Wes Townley , Tyler Reddick , Chris Fontaine , Dylan Lupton , Austin Cindric, Rico Abreu and Cody Ware . Although several trucks absorbed hard hits -- with Brown's among the hardest -- all drivers were evaluated and released from the track's infield care center. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Hamlin survives by extremely small margin -- sound familiar?
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Chase gear Denny Hamlin got the nose of his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota out just in front of Kurt Busch 's No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet for a third-place finish in Sunday's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Round of 12 finale -- by a mere 0.006 seconds. Had he finished behind Busch, Hamlin would've been eliminated from the Chase -- and his day would've been much, much worse. "It was tough all day," Hamlin said after the race. "Really the first true, good Chase fortune I've had in 11 years. … I felt this was the best-case scenario for us." How close was @dennyhamlin to not advancing in #TheChase ? 0.006 at the stripe! https://t.co/gaKsWBxPaH — NASCAR (@NASCAR) October 23, 2016 Anybody else got a case of deja vu right now? Hamlin opened the season with a very similar finish -- for the win, too -- when he edged out Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr . at the finish line of the Daytona 500 by 0.010 seconds. RELATED: Hamlin wins thrilling Daytona 500 Talladega and Daytona: two similar finishes, two afternoons that could've been drastically different for Hamlin had the game of inches not fallen in his favor.
Chase by the Numbers: Martinsville
As drivers head into the Round of 8 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, here are some statistics to keep in mind at NASCAR's shortest track.
Round of 6 track history proves encouraging for Kennedy
Ben Kennedy climbed out of his No. 33 Jacob Companies Chevy truck on Talladega Superspeedway 's pit road looking enthused and confident following a hard-earned fifth-place-finish in last Saturday’s Fred's 250 -- a race won by his GMS Racing teammate Grant Enfinger. The good vibe Kennedy gave out after the checkered flag, came with good reason. He led eight laps and his showing at NASCAR's biggest and most unpredictable track was his ninth top 10 and fourth top five of 2016. It also marks the first time in Kennedy's young career that he’s reeled off back-to-back top-five finishes. "Hats off to the GMS guys for giving us a great truck," Kennedy said. "It’s so good to be in contention, though, and it feels almost like a win to finish at Talladega, to be honest." The timing couldn’t be better. Kennedy, 24, heads into the final four races of the season ranked fifth in the standings -- having qualified for the Round of Six thanks to finishes of 11th, fourth and fifth place work in his last three races. The standings now show a virtual tie as the points are reset and equalized as the remaining six drivers will now have three races to determine which four of them will settle the Camping World Truck Series championship at the Homestead-Miami season finale. No matter what, this will be a career year for Kennedy whose previous best in the final standings has been ninth place -- in both 2014 and 2015. "This is huge," Kennedy allowed. "It’s one step further to Homestead. That’s our goal to make it to Homestead and run for a championship. And I really think we can do it." Kennedy has a pair of top-five finishes at this weekend's stop at Martinsville Speedway , with efforts of fourth place (2013) and third place (2014) at the half-miler. He posted an 11th-place showing there earlier this season before moving to his current GMS Racing team just prior to the fourth race of the year. He has a similarly encouraging record at Texas Motor Speedway , which hosts the second race of this elimination round. Kennedy has finished in the top-10 in his last three consecutive visits to the Fort Worth 1.5-mile speedway -- including a personal-best fourth-place showing there in April. Kennedy only has a pair of starts at Phoenix -- the final race of this elimination round -- with finishes of 11th and 24th. But should he be among the final four drivers settling the title at Homestead, Kennedy is coming off a fourth-place showing there last year.
Post-Race Reactions: John Deere Dealers 250
Edwards, Sorenson and Sadler comment on an exciting and challenging race in Iowa .
Backed by Junior Nation, Alex Bowman sees opportunity at Talladega
RELATED: Ailing Bowman presses on, nabs career-best finish With Dale Earnhardt Jr . slated to miss his first Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway since he broke into the big leagues full time as a rookie in 2000, many wonder which driver will replace the superspeedway ace as the one to beat in Sunday's Hellmann's 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App). How about, you know, the guy actually replacing him? Fresh off a seventh-place showing at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Alex Bowman is set to drive Earnhardt's No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for the third consecutive week and the seventh time this season as the driver recovers from concussion-related symptoms. This weekend is perhaps Bowman's most significant start of the year. Because it's at Earnhardt's own Talladega. RELATED: Earnhardt-Talladega streak to continue Sunday "He's got a couple fans out there," Bowman told NASCAR.com at Kansas. "Man, I'm excited about (racing at Talladega). Speedway racing is always stressful, but … ( Hendrick Motorsports ) brings such fast race cars to the race track and their speedway stuff is amazing. Always fast. Especially the 88. So, just really looking forward to having a chance to win. "I'm going to sit Dale down and have a couple-hour conversation with him about speedway racing. If there's a speedway racer left in this garage, it's him, for sure." The man's got a point. From a wins standpoint, Talladega ranks as Junior's best track with six, only closely followed by four wins at Daytona, another Earnhardt cornerstone -- and another superspeedway. Bowman's 'Dega stats don't match Junior's, of course, but he did pilot the No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet to a 16th-place finish just last year. And while it's almost jarring to hear a driver say that he is "excited" for Talladega, it's unsurprising coming from Bowman, who'll have the roar of the crowd on his side -- a fanbase that has named the man he's replacing NASCAR's Most Popular Driver for 13 years running. "Junior Nation has been great," said Bowman, 23. "It's been really cool; they've just been really supportive. Every now and then there's one fan that hates me, but for the most part they've been awesome. Casey Mears fans hate me after (Charlotte), because apparently it was my fault that we blew a tire and wrecked him, but Junior Nation has been awesome." RELATED: Dale Jr. to join broadcasts for Talladega, Martinsville Not only does Bowman have full access to Earnhardt's Talladega insight, a wealth of knowledge so deep it likely needs its own Dewey Decimal System, he's sharing substitute driving duties with a four-time Sprint Cup champ and six-time 'Dega winner in Jeff Gordon . "It’s been really cool (to share a ride with Gordon). Jeff was my favorite driver growing up when I was a kid," Bowman said. "It's been really good to learn from him. He's an open book. All five of my teammates are complete open books. It's great to lean on them and learn as much as I can, but Jeff just has so much experience and has a really interesting view on a lot of things. "It's been a great time just listening and observing and learning everything I can from him." The lessons taken at "Gordon Drivers Ed, Inc." appear to be working, too. While the final results might not show the whole picture, Bowman, at times, has looked like the more competitive driver behind the wheel of the No. 88, and owns the car's best finish -- seventh -- since Earnhardt placed second at Pocono way back in June. Bowman says that some people joke with him and say "Oh, I'm glad to see you've finally learned how to drive." He's always known how to drive, it's just been more about opportunities. And if luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, "Bad Luck Bowman" -- a driver that once learned he'd been fired via Twitter -- knows the magnitude of the opportunity presented to him this weekend and in his remaining races. And you can be sure he'll be prepared. "I hope (this opportunity has put my name out there)," Bowman said. "We've talked to a lot of people and it always comes back to money. It's always 'Well, do you have any sponsorship?' 'Do you have any funding?' I don't, so it's just … the sport's such a business at this point that it really kind of limits what I can and can't get into and that's what's limited what I can and can't get into for the last four years. "I don't have anything lined up (for next year yet). I think my role that I had at Hendrick Motorsports before all this happened is still going to be the same. Still being a part of the team, still doing all the simulator stuff and helping as much as I can. I don't think that will change. Obviously, when Dale comes back and all that, I don't really know what that leaves for me as far as driving anything. "I don't know what the future holds there. I don't have anything going forward, really." In the short-term, at least, he'll have the full support of Junior Nation at Talladega. </p>
NASCAR TV schedule: October 24-30
Sisters Paige, Claire Decker attempt XFINITY Series race at Iowa
The Decker sisters -- Paige, 23, and Claire, 21 -- were back on a NASCAR national series track at Iowa Speedway this weekend as they attempted to qualify for Sunday's American Ethanol E15 250 Presented by Enogen (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.) Competing for Obaika Racing, Claire piloted the No. 77 Vroom Brands Chevrolet, and Paige drove the No. 97 Vroom Brands Chevrolet. This was the sisters' attempt at a NASCAR XFINITY Series debut. ( UPDATE: Paige Decker qualified for Sunday's race while Claire did not. Paige finished in 31st place Sunday at Iowa after being forced to head to the garage with a mechanical failure.) It's happening! Get in on the hype as Paige and Claire prepare to tear up the track at Iowa for Xfinity Debut... https://t.co/VG8qYmyucC — ObaikaRacing (@ObaikaRacing) June 16, 2016 Both sisters, from Eagle River, Wisconsin, qualified for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' Alpha Energy Solutions 250 in April at Martinsville. In just the second time that sisters ever competed in a Truck Series race, Paige finished 25th and Claire 27th. Claire Decker will compete in Saturday night's Speediatrics 200 Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway after qualifying 32nd. She is driving Jennifer Jo Cobb 's No. 10 Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet. Their cousin, Natalie Decker, failed to qualify for that event. Natalie and Claire are both NASCAR Drive for Diversity alumni.
Erik Jones wins pole for XFINITY Series race at Iowa
RELATED: Full lineup for Sunday's race Erik Jones won the 21 Means 21 Pole Award on Saturday at Iowa Speedway for Sunday's NASCAR XFINITY Series American Ethanol E15 250 Presented by Enogen (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1). This is the Joe Gibbs Racing driver's sixth pole award of the season and the ninth of his XFINITY Series career. Jones also won the pole for last year's race at Iowa and finished third, a career-best at the .88-mile track. Recent winner and XFINITY Series points leader Daniel Suarez will line up second to his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate. Sam Hornish Jr ., Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler complete the starting top five on the leaderboard. Ben Kennedy , who is making his XFINITY Series debut and led both practices on Friday, will line up sixth. Sisters Claire and Paige Decker were attempting to qualify for their first XFINITY Series event on Saturday, but only Paige made the starting lineup. Paige will line up 40th in her No. 97 Chevrolet on Sunday. The only previous winners in the field are Brad Keselowski , Sadler and Hornish Jr.
American Ethanol, Enogen named sponsors for June Iowa XFINITY race
RELATED: Buy tickets NEWTON, Iowa (May 3, 2016) -- Iowa Speedway today announced American Ethanol will serve as the entitlement sponsor and Enogen as the presenting sponsor for the NASCAR XFINITY Series race during Wide Opening Weekend on June 18-19. The NASCAR XFINITY Series American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen on Sunday, June 19, represents the fifth consecutive year of the American Ethanol partnership and the fourth consecutive year with Enogen at Iowa Speedway . While the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series idles for a week, the green flag will wave at Iowa Speedway for a first-of-its-kind doubleheader weekend in central Iowa . For the first time ever, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series are paired together during Wide Opening Weekend on June 18-19. “American Ethanol and Enogen stepping up to sponsor our NASCAR XFINITY Series race is another great indicator of the important platform Iowa Speedway and NASCAR provide to brands,” said Iowa Speedway President Jimmy Small. “The adoption of biofuels grown and made in the USA, creating much needed green jobs in Iowa and across the Heartland is one of the tenets of NASCAR Green. American Ethanol has proven to be a tremendous partner not only for Iowa Speedway , but for NASCAR’s teams, fans and the industry as a whole.” American Ethanol and Enogen were the former title and presenting sponsors of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway . American Ethanol, along with Enogen, join the Iowa Corn Growers Association in renewing their long standing relationships with the speedway in 2016. “As NASCAR approaches 10 million flawless miles running on Sunoco Green E15, we’re excited for yet another opportunity to showcase the power and the high-quality performance ethanol brings to the race track,” said Jeff Broin, co-chair of Growth Energy. “It’s no secret biofuels create jobs in our country and work great in our engines. American Ethanol is proud to partner with Iowa Speedway and the NASCAR XFINITY series to show that an ethanol-based bio-fuel is the future.” Representing a wide array of ethanol supporters, from farmers to bio-engineering firms, American Ethanol was established by Growth Energy in partnership with the National Corn Growers Association to increase awareness of the value of American-made ethanol. Ethanol represents the most commercially-viable alternative to 100% petroleum-based fuel that America currently holds, and corn ethanol reduces emissions by 59 percent. “Ethanol is helping America reduce its dependence on foreign oil, lowering prices at the pump, improving the environment with lower emissions, and growing the economy with jobs that can’t be outsourced,” said Jack Bernens, head of Enogen at Syngenta. “Ethanol is an important success story and the American Ethanol E15 250 is an excellent opportunity to engage consumers and help increase awareness for the benefits of earth-friendly American ethanol. Syngenta is pleased to once again be working with Iowa Speedway and Growth Energy to support the ethanol industry through our sponsorship of this event to tell ethanol’s story.” In 2011, NASCAR launched its long-term biofuels program to reduce emissions of the fuel used in all its racing series. As part of the partnership, NASCAR’s three national touring series began using Sunoco Green E15; a 15% ethanol blend bio-fuel, made from American-grown corn. By utilizing Sunoco Green E15 race fuel, NASCAR has demonstrated that ethanol-blended fuel performs when held to the highest standards. Iowa Speedway season tickets, which are currently on sale, include eight high-powered races over three weekends. Wide Opening Weekend will feature both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen during Father’s Day Weekend on June 18-19. The second weekend of racing will showcase the ARCA Racing Series 150 presented by Casey’s General Stores, the INDYCAR Series Iowa Corn 300, Indy Lights and Pro Mazda Championship on July 9-10. The 2016 race season will close on July 29-30 with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series Casey’s General Stores 150 and NASCAR XFINITY Series U.S. Cellular 250 .