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JTG Daugherty Racing adds Burnett, Cope to team
RELATED: Learn which drivers, crew chiefs are on the move AJ Allmendinger will have a new crew chief and JTG Daugherty Racing will have a new director of competition as Randall Burnett and Ernie Cope have joined the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organization. The team made the announcement Thursday via news release. Burnett previously served as lead race engineer at Chip Ganassi Racing , working with drivers Jamie McMurray (2010-12), Juan Pablo Montoya ('13) and Kyle Larson ('14-15). It will be his first stint as crew chief. In total, Burnett spent 10 years at Chip Ganassi Racing , where he also served as a 7-post analysis engineer, a lead team engineer and a data acquisition engineer. "I know the quality of work they do and the level they hold themselves to," Burnett, a native of Fenton, Missouri said. "Also, working with AJ is going to be exciting for me. We kind of grew up with the same background. AJ obviously had a tremendous amount of talent and is very passionate and very vocal about his passion." Burnett, a former Late Model racer, received a mechanical engineering degree from UNC Charlotte. "What I really like about Randall is that even though he hasn't been a crew chief, he's done every role you can ask for," Allmendinger said, "whether it's as a driver, car chief, engineer, test team or building race cars. "I think we are going to speak the same language pretty quickly. I know his knowledge is going to help us." The 2016 season will be Allmendinger's 10th, and his third (full-time with JTG ) since taking over the No. 47 entry. He scored his first career victory in 2014, winning at Watkins Glen and earning a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . He subsequently finished 13th in points, his best points finish to date. Burnett replaces the team’s former crew chief, Brian Burns. For Cope, it will be a reunion of sorts. The Tacoma, Washington native served as a crew chief in 2006-07 for the team’s drivers, Stacy Compton and Marcos Ambrose , in what is now known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series. In 2015, he guided Chase Elliott to the runner-up honors in the XFINITY Series this past season while at JR Motorsports. He also has led Kevin Harvick to 12 wins in the series. Cope, 46, will oversee development of the cars how they are built, and will likely work closely with Richard Childress Racing officials, with whom JTG Daugherty Racing has a technical alliance. "I'll make sure … Randall has exactly what he needs to be competitive," Cope said. "It's going to be his first shot at being crew chief and he's the right guy for the position. "I feel 100 percent in my heart that he is going to succeed and I'm going to help him succeed." Allmendinger failed to make this year's 16-team Chase field, and finished 22nd in points. An accomplished road racer, he scored poles at both NASCAR road-course stops this past season, starting out front at Sonoma and Watkins Glen.
Longtime partner renews with JTG Daugherty Racing
AJ Allmendinger announced Friday morning at Bristol Motor Speedway that Bush's Beans renewed its longtime partnership with his JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 team. "Earlier this year we announced Kroger, just here to announce that Bush's Beans is coming back for a multiyear deal," Allmendinger said. "They've been with the company for over a decade. It's one of the best sponsors we have, especially when it comes to being family-oriented. They've been a family-oriented company for almost 107 years now." The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, seeking his second consecutive Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berth, will be driving his Bush's Grillin' Beans Chevrolet SS in Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM) in his sponsor's home state. "Just to be able to announce that for another multiyear deal with them, especially in this day and age of sponsorship and continually keep trying to find sponsors to have such great sponsors like we do and to have them pumped up about our race team and come back for more years and hopefully a lot of great years to come, it's great for us," Allmendinger said. Bush Brothers & Company, a family business for over 100 years ago in Chestnut Hill, Tennessee, considers his NASCAR partners to be part of the family. "We are very excited to extend and expand our long-standing relationship with JTG Daugherty Racing ," Tom Ferriter, President and CEO, Bush Brothers & Company, said in a statement. "After 13 years, we think of Jodi (Geschickter), Tad, Brad ( Daugherty ), AJ and all of the No. 47 team as part of our family. "We look forward to continuing to work with JTG Daugherty Racing for many more years to come. We are especially proud to make this announcement at Bristol Motor Speedway since East Tennessee has been home to Bush Brothers & Company since our company's founding in 1908." Allmendinger will make his 15th career start in Thunder Valley, where he's led 54 laps with a 25.4 average finish. His best result was 12th in the 2011 spring race. He sits 22nd in the standings and likely needs to win his way into the Chase with three races left in the regular season.
Allmendinger signs extension with JTG Daugherty
The 33-year-old driver to stay with team through 2020 season SHOP: NASCAR gear " RELATED: Allmendinger inks multiyear deal with Kroger KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver AJ Allmendinger has signed a five-year extension to remain with JTG Daugherty Racing , a move that will keep him in the No. 47 Chevrolet through the 2020 season. Allmendinger, 33, competed in nine Sprint Cup races with the team in 2013 before taking over the driving duties fulltime for the '14 season. A victory at Watkins Glen International was his first in the Sprint Cup Series, the first for the organization and secured a berth in last year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . While he and the team failed to advance to past the opening Challenger Round of the Chase, his 13th-place points finish was a career best. The team is co-owned by husband and wife Tad and Jodi Geschickter as well as former NBA star Brad Daugherty . It was recently announced that The Kroger Company had increased its funding for the single-car team, serving as primary sponsor for 17 races this season and 24 in '16. "It goes along with this Kroger deal and a lot of the companies we have," Allmendinger said of his contract extension during a press conference prior to Saturday night's SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, Sirius XM). "… The great thing is we've got a lot of sponsors; the tough thing is trying to remember them all. My suit weighs like 12 pounds now. It's a good problem to have. "With that said, those sponsors are here long-term; Tad and I did a new deal through 2020 which to me was just a no-brainer. Tad and Jodi have been such a big influence on my life outside the race car. Inside the race car it's great to have a job and be here for a long time but what they mean to me outside the car is family, people I consider some of my best friends. Kind of a renewed love of the sport they've given me, just a different outlook. … Tad handed me the contract and I flipped to the back page and signed it and said 'here you go.'" Allmendinger has 237 career starts in the Sprint Cup Series. He is also a two-time winner in the XFINITY Series. "Anybody that knows me they see my passion that I have, I always try to go out there and try to be better," he said. "It pushes me and my life every day. This race team, I really take everything to heart because I know how hard (they) work, what they give us and the effort they put into this race team. And I think sponsors see that too." Allmendinger enters tonight's race at Kansas Speedway 19th in points. He has two top-10 finishes in 10 starts this season. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Johnson leads final Talladega practice; Biffle tops in earlier session
RELATED: Practice 1 " Practice 2 " Top 10-lap consecutive averages MORE: See the Chase Grid Jimmie Johnson topped the leaderboard in the final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session Friday at Talladega Superspeedway , going 196.386 mph in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Right behind him was Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at 196.338 mph. Rounding out the top five were Chase Elliott in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at 196.334 mph, Carl Edwards in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at 196.330 mph and Alex Bowman in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at 196.330 mph. Chase drivers Kevin Harvick (already guaranteed to advance to the Round of 8) and Brad Keselowski opted not to participate in the second practice session Friday. All told, 25 cars took the track for the final session before Saturday's qualifying at 4 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC SportsApp). Edwards felt a vibration in his car, and his No. 19 team changed the transmission in an effort to fix it. In the first practice session earlier in the day, Roush Fenway Racing dominated with Greg Biffle logging the fastest time in his No. 16 Ford at 198.949 mph. Right behind him was AJ Allmendinger in the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet at 198.327 mph. Chris Buescher was third in the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford at 198.261 mph, while two more Roush Fenway Racing drivers rounded out the top five with Ricky Stenhouse Jr . in the No. 17 Ford at 198.261 mph and Trevor Bayne in the No. 6 Ford 198.105 mph. Sprint Cup Series leader Johnson was 15th-fastest in the No. 48 Chevrolet at 195.632 mph. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
JTG Daugherty Racing announces Allmendinger for ‘14
JTG Daugherty Racing announces Allmendinger as driver for 2014.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Owner Standings
After Race 32 of the 2016 season at Talladega Superspeedway Pos Owner Car # Points Ldr Nxt PPos G/L Wins Attempts 1 Hendrick Motorsports 48 3,100 0 0 1 0 3 32 2 Stewart-Haas Racing 41 3,099 -1 -1 5 3 1 32 3 Team Penske 22 3,089 -11 -10 8 5 2 32 4 Joe Gibbs Racing 20 3,088 -12 -1 2 -2 2 32 5 Joe Gibbs Racing 18 3,084 -16 -4 3 -2 4 32 6 Stewart-Haas Racing 4 3,082 -18 -2 7 1 4 32 7 Joe Gibbs Racing 19 3,082 -18 0 4 -3 2 32 8 Joe Gibbs Racing 11 3,078 -22 -4 10 2 3 32 9 Richard Childress Racing 3 3,078 -22 0 9 0 0 32 10 Furniture Row Racing 78 3,060 -40 -18 6 -4 4 32 11 Hendrick Motorsports 24 3,050 -50 -10 12 1 0 32 12 Team Penske 2 3,043 -57 -7 11 -1 4 32 13 Chip Ganassi Racing 42 2,155 -945 -888 14 1 1 32 14 Stewart-Haas Racing 14 2,141 -959 -14 13 -1 1 32 15 Chip Ganassi Racing 1 2,110 -990 -31 16 1 0 32 16 Front Row Motorsports 34 2,109 -991 -1 15 -1 1 32 17 Hendrick Motorsports 5 803 -2,297 -1,306 17 0 0 32 18 Richard Childress Racing 31 794 -2,306 -9 18 0 0 32 19 Hendrick Motorsports 88 770 -2,330 -24 19 0 0 32 20 JTG Daugherty Racing 47 717 -2,383 -53 20 0 0 32 21 Roush Fenway Racing 17 717 -2,383 0 22 1 0 32 22 Wood Brothers Racing 21 713 -2,387 -4 21 -1 0 32 23 Roush Fenway Racing 6 699 -2,401 -14 23 0 0 32 24 Stewart-Haas Racing 10 621 -2,479 -78 24 0 0 32 25 Roush Fenway Racing 16 591 -2,509 -30 25 0 0 32 26 Richard Childress Racing 27 591 -2,509 0 26 0 0 32 27 Richard Petty Motorsports 43 573 -2,527 -18 28 1 0 32 28 HScott Motorsports 15 564 -2,536 -9 27 -1 0 32 29 Circle Sport-Leavine Family 95 496 -2,604 -68 30 1 0 32 30 Germain Racing 13 488 -2,612 -8 29 -1 0 32 31 Front Row Motorsports 38 465 -2,635 -23 31 0 0 32 32 Richard Petty Motorsports 44 423 -2,677 -42 34 2 0 32 33 Tommy Baldwin Racing 7 422 -2,678 -1 32 -1 0 32 34 BK Racing 23 420 -2,680 -2 33 -1 0 32 35 BK Racing 83 363 -2,737 -57 35 0 0 32 36 HScott Motorsports 46 286 -2,814 -77 37 1 0 32 37 Premium Motorsports 98 284 -2,816 -2 36 -1 0 31 38 GO FAS Racing 32 258 -2,842 -26 38 0 0 32 39 Premium Motorsports 55 213 -2,887 -45 39 0 0 27 40 The Motorsports Group 30 167 -2,933 -46 40 0 0 31 41 Front Row Motorsports 35 46 -3,054 -121 41 0 0 4 42 BK Racing 93 29 -3,071 -17 43 1 0 6 43 Circle Sport - Leavine Family 59 26 -3,074 -3 42 -1 0 1 44 Roush Fenway Racing 99 15 -3,085 -11 46 2 0 1 45 BK Racing 26 3 -3,097 -12 44 -1 0 1 46 Hillman Racing 40 0 -3,100 -3 45 -1 0 1
'Dinger paving road to success for JTG Daugherty
Driver credits RCR alliance with early 2015 gains Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live FONTANA, Calif. -- It's not hard to get lost in the long roster of drivers when you're on a single-car team. But when a single-car team driver like AJ Allmendinger is racing up front with NASCAR champions, he's on everyone's radar. The California native comes to Auto Club Speedway for Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) sitting in the top five in driver standings with two top-10s already under his belt and looking to score another this weekend. But the No. 47 team isn't paving the way to single-car success on its own. Martin Truex Jr . and Casey Mears join Allmendinger's company. Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, sits third in the driver standings and has started his 2015 season scoring nothing but top-10s. Mears, the driver of the No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet, is currently 12th in the standings with a top-10 finish in the Daytona 500 . All three are in a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing and from last year to now the gains the organizations have made are astounding. For Mears, the refining of the alliance has mostly come from understanding the specifics of what goes into a successful race car. "Just improving communication, it is one thing to get a sheet of paper that says, 'Hey, here is the setup,' " Mears said on Saturday. "But when you actually go up and put your arm around the guy that is actually setting that car up and looking at his procedure and understanding how he does it there are a lot nuances. The devil is in the details. I think that we have paid closer attention to a lot of those details, and it is starting to pay off." "I think we're working well together," Allmendinger said. "It's hard when you make an alliance, trying to fit in and see where you fit in and see how much data you truly get ... I think a lot last year we were just behind because we did the alliance basically right before 2014. So we were trying to catch up on cars and everything. We didn't maximize the tools we had, which RCR really allowed us to have pretty much everything we needed." After a slow churn in the alliance, Allmendinger and the No. 47 team are finally getting their footing and it shows. "Going into this year, we just looked at 'OK, how do we make ourselves better,' " Allmendinger said. "We just started a lot further ahead this year than we were last year. This weekend and last weekend we have a brand new car. It's one of the first brand new cars from top to bottom we've had since the team was with Toyota. Just being ahead has really helped us." Allmendinger might have gotten a slow start last year before making the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field, but he scored his first top-10 of the season at the Fontana track. Looking ahead, Allmendinger recognizes that hard work equals success. "I'm happy with our team and where it's going," Allmendinger said. "We've got a lot of work to go to be one of those No. 48s and No. 4s and all those teams every weekend, but I can see the hard work is paying off and that's what's great from inside the race car and outside of it." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
JTG Daugherty forms Chevrolet-based alliance
Single-car entry latches on with Richard Childress Racing for 2014
The Rundown: Dover driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway : 1. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Truex dominated the first round of the Chase with two wins and a total of 360 laps led. The 78 team is a serious threat for the championship if its performance (and lack of bad luck/mistakes) continues. Grade: A+ 2. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch earned his third top-10 finish in the Chase with a runner-up effort Sunday. Add in 102 laps led in Dover and the defending Sprint Cup Series champion is doing what's necessary to get back to Homestead. Grade: A 3. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott continues to knock on the door by putting in quiet but solid runs. In a format that has proven consistency can carry a driver through each round, Elliott certainly looks like he can be this year's beneficiary. Grade: A 4. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski started on the pole and led seven laps, but was hardly a factor. Still, he was near the top of the leaderboard at the end, and the 2012 champion is still in Chase contention. Grade: A 5. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Unlike last weekend when he finished second, Kenseth put in an unassuming day to grab his third consecutive top-nine finish. He'll move on in the Chase with a chance at that elusive second title. Grade: A- 6. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano rounded out the Penske pair with a sixth-place finish after starting fifth. He'll move on to the Round of 12, which he dominated in the Chase last year with three straight victories. Grade: A – 7. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson found himself in contention for a victory for the second time in three Chase races before a mistake on pit road cost him -- again. This time it was by his crew. If Johnson is going to advance into the Round of 8 for the first time, the No. 48 team needs to get buttoned up . Grade: A- 8. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Problems for Kyle Larson aided his cause, but Dillon rose to the occasion to advance in the Chase. The No. 3 solidly improved throughout the day and scored its first top 10 in the Chase. Grade: A 9. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin has been only hot or cold at Dover -- with little in between -- and Sunday was just his eighth top-10 finish in 22 starts. Grade: A- 10. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . It took Gordon seven starts to earn a top 10 filling for Dale Earnhardt Jr this season. He also led seven laps during a cycle of green flag pit stops. Grade: A- 11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . The good news? Stenhouse steadily climbed the leaderboard on Sunday. The bad news? He hasn't had a top-10 finish since Bristol in August. Grade: B+ 12. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne was the worst of the Hendrick cars while finishing outside the top 10 for the first time in five races. Grade: B+ 13. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart's late-season slide continued with his seventh consecutive finish outside the top 10 -- as well as his elimination from the Chase in his final season of full-time Sprint Cup driving. Grade: B 14. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards admittedly struggled in this first round of the Chase (with finishes of 15th, sixth and 14th) and has plenty of work to do if he's going to keep up with his Toyota teammates from here on out. Grade: B 15. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . An unimpressive first round for Busch, who was the first car two laps down in Dover. Now it's time to improve upon just two top-10 finishes in the last five races. Grade: B 16. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Through 29 races (30 straight if you go back to last season), Almirola has still not scored a top-10 finish. Grade: B- 17. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . After fighting for a spot in the Chase, Newman has been a non-story the last three weeks. He was up and down the leaderboard throughout the race, but wound up finishing around where he started (19th). Grade: B- 18. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Green flag pit stops helped Biffle lead seven laps. He ended the day the first car four laps down. Grade: B- 19. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Sunday was Allmendinger's first top-20 finish at Dover since the spring 2012 race. Grade: B- 20. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne stayed out of trouble and now has two top-20 finishes in four career Dover starts. Grade: B- 21. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott earned a career-best Dover finish on Sunday in addition to picking up his first top-25 finish in six races. Grade: B- 22. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Pairing with crew chief Danny Stockman still has not brought the consistency or improvement Menard and company are looking for. Grade: C 23 . Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Buescher's best Chase finish wasn't enough to carry the him through to the next round as the Cinderella story came to an end in Dover. Grade: B- 24. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer was oh-so close, but his streak of consecutive 22nd-place finishes ended at four Sunday. Grade: C 25. Kyle Larson , No. 42, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Lightning did not strike twice for Larson at Dover (where he finished second in May), as his Chase came to an end following repeated miscues. A power problem led to a pit road penalty and Larson later hit the wall to end up six laps down. Grade: C 26. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears has little to add to his Dover notebook after duplicating his finish from May. Grade: C 27. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto earned his best Dover finish in four starts there. Grade: C 28. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick now has finished 25th or worse in four of her nine Dover starts. Grade: C- 29. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Cassill is now on a three-race streak of finishing 29th, nice. Grade: C- 30. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan was eight laps back and remains 31st in points. Grade: C- 31. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith was the first car nine laps down. Grade: C- 32. Ty Dillon , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport – Leavine Family Racing . Sunday was Dillon's worst finish in his 10 Sprint Cup starts this season. Grade: C- 33. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett has not finished in the top 30 in the last four races. Grade: D 34. Timmy Hill , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Hill finished 14 laps off the pace. Grade: D 35. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Toyota, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson finished where he ran (35.33) throughout the event on Sunday. Grade: D 36. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . Earnhardt finished 16 laps off the pace in his second Dover start. Grade: D 37. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Locked into the Round of 12 in the Chase after winning in New Hampshire, Harvick was unaffected by a broken track bar mount that led to him finishing 46 laps down. Grade: F 38. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney hit the wall hard off Turn 2 when he blew a tire on Lap 106. Grade: F 39. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise earned his sixth DNF of the season following a blown engine. Grade: F 40. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray went from looking like he had a spot in the Round of 12 to missing the cut after his engine expired on Lap 194. Grade: F
The Rundown: Charlotte driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway : 1. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Huge win for Johnson ... even when it's the 78th of your Sprint Cup career and you have six championships. Johnson led a race-high 155 laps and moved into the Round of 8 of the Chase for the first time under the current format. Grade: A+ 2. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth started in the rear of the field because of prerace adjustments to his car ... was penalized for too many men over the wall ... and still finished in the top five. On a day when five Chasers were body slammed by big issues, Kenseth's second place was almost as big as Johnson's win. Grade: A 3. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne posted his best finish since his last win -- in August 2014 at Atlanta. Grade: A 4. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Great run for Newman, who snagged his second top-five finish of the season. Grade: A 5. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson's eighth top-five finish ties his career best, set in his rookie season two years ago. Grade: A 6. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Despite an early tire issue that put him a lap down and damage sustained in the big wreck on Lap 259, Busch came away with a big top 10. Grade: A 7. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . The No. 2 was one of many teams penalized for having its crew over the wall too soon, but Keselowski prevailed in the end, grabbing his 105th top 10 since the start of the 2012 season, tying Kevin Harvick for the most top 10s over the past five years. Grade: A 8. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . When Busch was told which Chase cars were caught up in the big wreck on Lap 259, he said, "Charlotte has turned into Talladega." Nice line. Even better was his finish on a day he didn't have one of his stronger cars. Grade: A 9. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . As you'll see, attrition was the friend to many drivers Sunday, including Stewart, who was tagged for speeding during a green-flag pit stop on Lap 114. His 17.6 averaging running position was easily the highest among the top-10 finishers. Grade: A 10. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Solid day for McMurray, who sustained left front damage in the big wreck on Lap 259. His 325 laps in the top 15 were behind only Jimmie Johnson (332) and Carl Edwards (327). Grade: A 11. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick's finish is her best since her last top 10, a ninth-place finish at Bristol in April 2015. Grade: B+ 12. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Although Edwards never challenged for the lead, his 8.4 average running position was third-best, trailing only Jimmie Johnson (3.4) and JGR teammate Denny Hamlin (6.4). Grade: B+ 13. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Truex touched off the big wreck on the restart on Lap 259 when he got into the back of Austin Dillon -- who restarted second -- and sent him spinning and crashing hard into the inside wall. Truex said he was "trying to give him a shove and I just turned him completely around like a damn idiot." Truex was contrite after the race, as well, but the damage was done. On the flip side ... during a yellow-flag pit stop on Lap 311, karma made an appearance in the No. 78 pits when Truex's clutch failed and he had trouble leaving his stall. He had been running third; he restarted 16th. Grade: D 14. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . Hats off to McDowell, who posted the fifth-best finish of his Sprint Cup career (207 starts). Grade: A 15. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola just missed getting tagged by Austin Dillon as Dillon's car spun back onto the track after smashing nose-first into the inside wall on Lap 259. Almirola, who is still looking for his first top 10 of the season, posted his sixth top-15 finish of 2016. Grade: B 16. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . In his 36th career start, Buescher registered his fourth-best finish. Grade: B+ 17. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer took home his best finish since his most-recent top 10, three months ago at Daytona. Grade: B 18. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Despite his top-20 finish, Bayne wasn’t exactly competitive Sunday: Of the drivers who finished in the top 20, he ran the fewest laps in the top 15 -- one. Grade B- 19. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Six of Cassill's 24 career top-20 finishes have come this season, one fewer than his career-best seven in 2012. Grade: A 20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse has made more starts at Charlotte, 10, than at any other Sprint Cup track but is still looking for his first top-10 finish. He about nailed his average finish of 20.8, though. Grade: C 21. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Speaking of average finishes at Charlotte, Smith ran to form, as 20.7 is Smith’s number. Grade: B 22. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott posted his best finish at Charlotte in four starts. Grade: B 23. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan registered his best finish at Charlotte since he finished 11th five years ago in his final Charlotte start for Jack Roush. Grade: B 24. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Making his 100th career Sprint Cup start, Annett posted his second-best finish of the season. Grade: B 25. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto's finish was his fourth best of the season. Grade: B 26. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . Earnhardt posted the best finish of his career (19 starts). Grade: A- 27. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Whitt posted one of his best finishes of the season to help Premium Motorsports put both of its cars in the top 30 for the first time since Kentucky in July. Grade: B- 28. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Ditto. See Whitt. Grade: B- 29. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Our attrition theme that began with Tony Stewart ends here with Wise, who has posted only three better finishes all season. Grade: C 30. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin was running second with fewer than 30 laps to go when his engine blew up with "no warning" (Hamlin's words). It also was a massive break for the four Chase drivers -- Austin Dillon , Chase Elliott , Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick -- who finished below Hamlin. If Hamlin had finished in the top five -- or simply ahead of Martin Truex Jr . -- the four would have been 19 to 24 points behind Truex (assuming Truex still finished 13th) for the final spot to advance to the next round. Instead, the four range from three to eight points behind Hamlin for the eighth spot. That's a huge difference. Grade: D 31. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney had been competitive most of the afternoon before he was collected in the Lap 259 mess when he ran into Chase Elliott who had spun and was facing the wrong direction against the outside wall. Grade: C 32. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . The No. 3 team's decision to take two tires – when the rest of the top cars took four -- might have factored into the multi-car wreck that ensued after Dillon picked up nine spots to restart second on Lap 259. But it's not as if he spun his tires, had a poor restart and stacked up the field. This mess belonged to Martin Truex Jr . The team's troubles on his first two pit stops that played into his inferior track position, however, did not. Grade: C- 33. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Say all you want about Elliott's decision to slow as he reached the end of pit road, which ultimately lined him up on the inside of the third row behind Austin Dillon and Martin Truex Jr . and resulted in him being collected in the ensuing Lap 259 melee. But it doesn't change two facts: Elliott had led a race-high 103 laps to that point, and Truex, not Elliott, ignited the wreck. Elliott was among the drivers who deserved better. Grade: B 34. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard was one of two drivers who ran into Chase Elliott 's turned-around car in the Lap 259 carnage. Unfortunately for Menard, his car didn't survive the impact. Grade: C- 35. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Tire issues, a pit-road speeding penalty and contact with the wall all preceded the No. 16's demise in the big wreck. Grade: F 36. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Tire troubles sent the No. 22 into the wall on two separate occasions (bringing out the third and fourth cautions). He was running 16th when it happened the second time, and the damage forced a trip to the garage. Logano was 78 laps back when he returned to the track, and he was able to improve his finish by one spot. We'll know if that one point is a difference-maker after Talladega. Grade: F 37. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . The No. 47 was racy with the new Richard Childress Racing chassis, but he hit the wall hard on Lap 254, and that ended his day. Grade: D 38. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick was running fourth on Lap 154 when the No. 4 abruptly lost power. An oil pump bearing was the culprit. Harvick never returned. He has finished 37th and 38th the past two races, the first time he has posted back-to-back finishes in the 30s in more than two years. Grade: F 39. Alex Bowman , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Bowman was running third on Lap 62 when the No. 88 cut a tire, ran up the race track, hit the wall and collected Casey Mears . The DNF marked Bowman's worst finish in his fifth race in relief of Dale Earnhardt Jr . Grade: F 40. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when Alex Bowman ran up the track after cutting a tire. Grade: U (for Unfortunate)