McMurray, Newman, Buescher vie for Chase berths
WATCH: Buescher says he's not in full defensive mode RICHMOND, Va. -- Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman have adjacent garage areas this weekend at Richmond International Raceway . And Friday morning the two chatted briefly and smiled before climbing into their Chevrolets for practice. McMurray, who is making his 500th Sprint Cup start, holds a 22-point edge over Newman for the 16th and final Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff berth – and the field will be decided in Saturday night's regular season finale, the Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio). It would have been an even closer contest between the two drivers, but Newman was penalized 15 points this week after his car failed post-race inspection following a eighth-place run at Darlington on Sunday. That turned a 7-point difference into a 22-point difference. RELATED: Chase Bubble Watch " Clinching scenarios for Richmond With many scenarios in play, Newman and McMurray each could clinch a Chase berth with a win. But Pocono winner and Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Chris Buescher also poses a challenge. He enters Saturday's race in 13th place on the Chase Grid, ahead of McMurray (16th) and Newman (17th). "I feel pretty good about our car after practice," McMurray said of his No. 1 Sherwin Williams–sponsored Chevrolet. "Richmond has actually been a pretty good track for me, finishes-wise and we've raced pretty well. Thought we were pretty good that first practice. I'm encouraged by the speed of the cars and hope to have a trouble-free night and that the race is just a normal race, you don't get hung out by a caution or have something happen. "Or,'' he said smiling and pausing, "you don't have a first-time winner. That could happen. But if the race plays out normal we've got a really good car and can have a really good finish.'' McMurray's crew chief Matt McCall said he expects business as usual for the Ganassi Racing team. He acknowledged that, of course, the team will keep an eye on Newman, but insisted the best route for McMurray is simply to try to win. "I guess every race you come to, you try to pay attention to what everyone else is doing,'' McCall said. "We still want to come here and try to win the race. To me, that makes the easiest scenario. "Anytime you start looking back, you go backwards. I'm a big believer in that. No different approach here. "Jamie's been doing this a long time and he's not going to put himself in any crazy situations that he wouldn't normally get in." RELATED: Chase Grid " Driver standings For all the dramatic scenarios coming into the Richmond Chase-setter, only one time has a driver raced his way into the Chase with a victory: Jeremy Mayfield won the Richmond race in 2004 to earn a postseason bid. Because of the penalty this week, the 22-point differential that separates McMurray and Newman is certainly wider. But these two drivers have raced right around one another most of the season. Both drivers have one top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 2016. And they have finished within five positions of one another in nearly half the season's races. While McMurray is understandably glad to have gained a little more cushion, he seemed genuinely regretful it came by way of Newman's penalty. RELATED: No. 31 and No. 42 teams penalized after Darlington "I've been on both sides of that,'' said McMurray, who was penalized 25 points after the Bristol race in 2004 and ultimately missed the Chase by 15 points. "As relieving as it is when you come here because it is a little different environment now [with Newman's penalty], you hate it for that team, and those guys because you know they have worked so hard to get to that point and then to have it taken away sucks.” Buescher, the 2015 XFINITY Series champion who won the season's second Pocono Sprint Cup race, said he will also be cautiously aggressive Saturday night as he attempts to make his first Cup Chase. "We need to race aggressively for every position, every point we can get without taking unnecessary risks,'' Buescher said. "We can only control, what we can control. "We're going out there to race and have a really good day and avoid the risks that would put us in a bad spot or possibly take us out of this Chase.'' "If we can see the 23 car (Ragan), for the most part, we'll know we're OK.‘' Although both the veterans, McMurray and Newman, appeared cool and calm going about their Friday practice at Richmond, there was an unmistakable hint of what's dramatically on the line. "That would be huge if we're able to pull this off,'' McMurray said. "It would be great for our organization. To go from where we were to [teammate] Kyle [Larson] winning a race and both cars competing in the top-10 for the last month, that's a really big step and not something that happens these days. "Maybe 15 years ago you could do that. Now you can't, so pretty phenomenal what they've been able to pull off and our whole group should be pretty proud of themselves.” The celebration, he's hoping, will come Saturday night.
Comparing Kenseth's penalty to past penalties
RELATED: Kenseth suspended for two races by NASCAR " Drivers react Matt Kenseth was issued a two-race suspension from NASCAR for intentionally wrecking Joey Logano at Martinsville Speedway . Logano was leading the race at the time when Kenseth, who was several laps down, got into the 22 of Logano on Lap 454 and both cars went into the wall. Kenseth was also placed on probation for a six-month period. The friction between the drivers began two weeks earlier at Kansas Speedway when Kenseth was leading the second race of the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with five laps to go when Logano made contact with him that led to Kenseth spinning out. Logano went on to win the race in a green-white-checkered finish but Kenseth was none too pleased about the ending. "Based upon our extensive review, we have concluded that the No. 20 car driver, who is no longer in the Chase, intentionally wrecked the No. 22 car driver, a Chase-eligible competitor who was leading the race at the time," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. "The No. 20 car was nine laps down, and eliminated the No. 22 car's opportunity to continue to compete in the race. "Additionally, we factored aspects of safety into our decision, and also the fact that the new Chase elimination format puts a premium on each and every race. These actions have no place in NASCAR." A series of appeals were heard on Thursday and Kenseth's two-race suspension was upheld. His probation period was decreased from six months to through December 31, 2015. This is a rare penalty in the sport. In fact, the closest type of penalty seen like it came in 2011 when Kyle Busch was parked for XFINITY and Sprint Cup races at Texas in November of that year. Busch was parked for retaliating and wrecking title contender Ron Hornaday Jr . in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the 1.5-mile track. Busch was also fined $50,000 and placed on probation for the remainder of the season. Here is a look at several major penalties issued by NASCAR in recent years. Michael Waltrip Racing " Richmond International Raceway , September 2013 Violation: Section 12-4: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. MWR's three teams in the Sprint Cup Series (the No. 15, 55, 56) were penalized with the loss of 50 championship driver and 50 championship owner points, respectively. These point penalties were assessed following the season's 26th regular-season race and not after the seeding for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . That resulted in Martin Truex Jr . being eliminated from the second Wild Card spot in the playoff field. NASCAR also fined the MWR organization $300,000 and indefinitely suspended Ty Norris, MWR Executive Vice President/General Manager and spotter for the No. 55 car, for violating Section 12-4. The three crew chiefs -- Brian Pattie (No. 15), Scott Miller (No. 55) and Chad Johnston (No. 56) -- were all placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. Penalty: Loss of 50 Cup Driver Points for each MWR team.* Denny Hamlin , No. 11 " Indianapolis Motor Speedway , July 2014 Violation: Section 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. Section 20-2.1: Car body must be acceptable to NASCAR officials and Section 20-3.4.5: A rear firewall, including any removable panels or access doors, constructed using magnetic sheet steel a minimum of 22 gage (0.031 inch thick), must be located between the trunk area and the driver’s compartment and must be welded in place. Block-off plates/covers used in rear firewalls in place of blowers, oil coolers, etc., must be constructed of 22 gage (0.031 inch thick) magnetic sheet steel. Block-off plates/covers must be installed with positive fasteners and sealed to prevent air leakage. Carbon fiber or aluminum block-off plates/covers will not be permitted. Penalty: Loss of 75 Cup Driver Points* Carl Long , No. 146 " Lowe’s Motor Speedway, May 2009 Violation : Section 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. Section 12-4-I: Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to NASCAR rules: Section 20-5.4A: Engine exceeded the maximum engine size of 358.000 cubic inch displacement. Penalty : Loss of 200 Cup Driver Points. Ryan Newman , No. 31 " Auto Club Speedway , March 2015 Violations: Section 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. 20.16: Wheels and Tires: A. Any device, modification, or procedure to the tire or wheel, including the valve stem hardware, that is used to release pressure, beyond normal pressure adjustments, from the tire and/or inner shield, will not be permitted. 20.16.2: Tires : F. Modifications to the tires, by treatment or any other means, will not be permitted. Section 18.104.22.168.1 lists P5 Penalty Violation examples that could include but are not limited to: A. Effecting, modifying and/or altering the standard tires in any way, other than through authorized means such as tire pressure adjustments within the recommended range, permitted tire cooling when mounted on the race vehicle; or heat-cycling on the race vehicle on the race track earlier in the event. Penalty: Loss of 50 Cup Driver Points* Matt Kenseth , No. 20 " Kansas Speedway, April 2013 Violation : Section 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. Section 12-4J: Any determination by NASCAR Officials that Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to the NASCAR Rules detailed in Section 20 of the NASCAR Rule Book, or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the Event. Section 20-5.5.3E.: Only solid magnetic steel connecting rods with a minimum weight of 525.0 grams will be permitted. Connecting rod failed to meet the minimum connecting rod weight. Penalty: Loss of 50 Cup Driver Points.* Jeremy Mayfield , No. 12 " Talladega Superspeedway , April 2000 Violation: Section 12-4-A: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. Section 8-8: Fuel used by a Competitor that does not meet NASCAR specifications. Section 12-4-AA: Use of altered fuel or fuel other than the official fuel at the Event. Penalty: Loss of 151 Cup Driver points. Johnny Sauter , No. 70 " Lowe's Motor Speedway, May 2008 Violation: Section 20-3.1.3A: Wing mounting locations were not as specified by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book. Penalty: Loss of 150 Cup Driver points. Appealed: NASCAR Penalty upheld. Scott Riggs , No. 66 " Lowe's Motor Speedway, May 2008 Violation: Section 20-3.1.3A: Wing mounting locations were not as specified by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book. Penalty: Loss of 150 Cup Owner points. Appealed: NASCAR Penalty upheld. Brian Vickers , No. 83 " Martinsville Speedway , October 2008 Violation: Section 12-4-Q: Section 20-2.1D: Exterior sheet metal body parts did not meet the specified minimum thickness. Penalty: Loss of 150 Cup Driver points. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 1 " Daytona International Speedway , July 2008 Violation: Section 12-4-Q: Section 20-3.8A: Roof of the car does not conform to the specifications of the NASCAR Rule Book. Penalty: Loss of 150 Cup Driver points. Travis Kvapil , No. 43 " Pocono Raceway , June 2010 Violation: Section 12-1: Section 12-4-J: Section 20-10.7J: Unapproved modification to valve stem hardware. Penalty: 150 Cup Driver Points Clint Bowyer , No. 15 " September 2010, New Hampshire Motor Speedway Violation: Section 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. Section 12-4-J: Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to NASCAR Rules: Section 20-3: The car body location specifications in reference to the certified chassis, does not meet the NASCAR-approved specifications. Penalty: 150 Cup Driver Points *These penalties are ranked according to their severity in proportion to the points system used at that time. NASCAR moved to a one-point-per-position format in 2011.
Glen provided a last hurrah for the little guys
Remaining tracks place a premium on what NASCAR's powerhouses do best RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Either way, someone was going to crash the party. No matter which of the two frontrunners ultimately took the checkered flag this past Sunday at Watkins Glen International , the venerable upstate New York road course was going to deliver what most everyone believed it would -- a new face introduced into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and a new name almost certainly added to that expanded 16-driver grid. It went above and beyond that, providing viewers with breathless, desperate racing between AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose , both of whom knew their playoff hopes hinged solely on the results of Sunday afternoon. In the end it was Allmendinger, who a year ago this coming weekend was celebrating a Nationwide Series victory at Mid-Ohio for Roger Penske, and now stands on the brink of his first playoff berth at NASCAR's top level. The Chase now appears very close indeed, with the opener at Chicagoland looming just a month away, and during this late-summer stretch run the final pieces will fall into place. There's a bit of symmetry in it all: four races remaining in the regular season, four spots remaining in the playoff. We've reached the point where it will be impossible to have more than 16 different winners, as much as some of us had hoped to see it, if just for the anxious spectacle it would create. While there's still a chance to get to 16 winners and knock out anyone relying solely on points, we're beyond the point of wild cards -- no road courses or restrictor-plate venues remain to level the field for the long shots still holding out hope. The four tracks remaining all place a premium on the things the sport's established powers do best. For instance -- Michigan International Speedway, site of Sunday's Sprint Cup event, and where hours on the dynamometer and in the wind tunnel are prerequisites on a blisteringly fast 2-mile track. The last driver you might be able to term an upset winner in Brooklyn might have been Brian Vickers for Red Bull in 2009, but that's probably unfair given the cash Dietrich Mateschitz was sinking into that program at the time. Before that, the last surprise there was perhaps Charlie Glotzbach in 1970, although owner Ray Nichels turned out some stout cars back in the day. Even at a track notorious for its fuel-mileage finales, the shockers are usually resigned to qualifying on Friday afternoon. Then it's on to Bristol , where Carl Edwards won in the spring, and which demands the kind of short-track rhythm which elite drivers do best, not to mention a car fast enough to prevent getting lapped on an early green-flag run. For all the focus on calamity and bump-and-run, the list of winners at Bristol is as star-studded as that of any other track. That kind of speed on a half-mile venue weeds out the field fairly quickly. There's never really been a shocker at Bristol, which tends to be dominated for long stretches by truly great drivers -- first by Cale Yarborough, then Darrell Waltrip, then Rusty Wallace, then the Busch brothers -- until the next one finds the knack. For years, the place gave Jimmie Johnson fits, it's so difficult. Drama? Plenty. Upsets? Unheard of. Atlanta may be something of a different story. Jerry Nadeau scored his lone career victory there in 2000, and call-up Kevin Harvick pulled an emotional stunner the next season, but both those drivers were working for top owners -- the former Rick Hendrick, the latter Richard Childress -- and wheeling equipment unparalleled for their time. Morgan Shepherd won three times there between 1986 and '93, his latter two victories coming for Bud Moore and the Wood Brothers in an era where those teams were still competitive. But this isn't the '90s anymore. Atlanta is another of those fast horsepower tracks, and the drivers who have historically owned the place are those with the most under the hood. So then -- Richmond. Sweat-it-out, bite-the-fingernails, don't-get-wrecked, last-chance Richmond. We've seen the near-impossible happen there before, in the form of Jeremy Mayfield winning the race in 2004 to wedge his way into that inaugural Chase field the only way he could. The possibility certainly exists that we could witness something like that again -- even if first-time winners run the table the next three weeks, there would still be room for one more on that Saturday night in the Virginia capital. As far as true upset potential, history points to Mayfield (whose Ray Evernham-owned team was better than the numbers might indicate) and Joe Nemechek winning in 2003. Nemechek that season, though, was a Hendrick driver. So does that really count? Michigan will help clear the picture, albeit if only a little. A victory by any repeat winner this weekend will officially lock in all those drivers with one victory -- guys we figured were in anyway -- and bolster the hopes of those hoping to get in on points. Another first-time winner (Michigan mainstay Greg Biffle , maybe?) and the pressure really begins to build on those guys who have yet to visit Victory Lane. A playoff of 16 winners may seem a remote possibility, but if we get to Bristol or Atlanta and there's still a chance of it -- well, a few firesuit collars may begin to feel mighty tight indeed. All that said, a tip of the cap to Allmendinger, who in almost certainly the final opportunity to do so gave us one more real underdog to go along with Aric Almirola, who pulled his shocker in the rain-shortened Daytona race in July. And while we're at it, give some credit to David Ragan, who told us all along this kind of thing was coming, even though he won his Talladega race a year too early. At Watkins Glen, Allmendinger and Ambrose provided a dramatic, grand final hurrah for the little guys. Thanks for the show, gentlemen. But given the tracks remaining in the regular season and the demands required in the Chase, the big boys will take it from here. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Stats advance: Analyzing the AAA Texas 500
A statistical look ahead to the second race of the Eliminator Round RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Statistical Advance: Analyzing the AAA Texas 500 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 27, 2014) – Below is a look at the Eliminator 8 – and beyond – at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas going into the AAA Texas 500 on November 2. ESPN’s coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET and the race is scheduled for 3 p.m. TEXAS-SPECIFIC STATISTICS 1 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.3 2014 Rundown · Four wins, 13 top fives, 21 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 10.1 · Led 24 races for 873 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One win, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.2 in 27 races · Average Running Position of 13.9, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 92.3, ninth-best · 323 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · 4,067 Laps in the Top 15 (63.9%), eighth-most 2 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.4 2014 Rundown · Four top fives, 15 top 10s · Average finish of 13.0 · Led 7 races for 41 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One win, three top fives, five top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 19.1 in 22 races · Average Running Position of 20.1, 22nd-best · Driver Rating of 73.1, 21st-best · 1,479 Green Flag Passes, second-most 3 - Joey Logano (No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 106.9 2014 Rundown · Five wins, 16 top fives, 21 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.3 · Led 21 races for 976 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One win, four top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 18.4 in 12 races · Average Running Position of 19.3, 20th-best · Driver Rating of 77.1, 19th-best 4 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 91.8 2014 Rundown · 12 top fives, 20 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.3 · Led 19 races for 470 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · Two wins, 13 top fives, 17 top 10s · Average finish of 8.3 in 24 races · Series-best Average Running Position of 9.4 · Series-best Driver Rating of 106.1 · 353 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 1,448 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 173.587 mph, second-fastest · Series-high 5,045 Laps in the Top 15 (79.3%) · 742 Quality Passes, second-most 5 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.9 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, 15 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 14.9 · Led 15 races for 286 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · Two wins, five top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 10.8 in 17 races · Average Running Position of 12.4, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 93.8, seventh-best · 179 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 1,380 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 173.154 mph, 10th-fastest · 3,931 Laps in the Top 15 (69.0%), 10th-most · 742 Quality Passes, second-most 6 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Aflac Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 81.4 2014 Rundown · Two wins, seven top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 14.7 · Led 11 races for 135 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · Three wins, six top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.5 in 19 races · Average Running Position of 12.4, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 96.9, sixth-best · 361 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · 1,240 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 173.402 mph, fourth-fastest · 4,573 Laps in the Top 15 (71.9%), fifth-most · 716 Quality Passes, fifth-most 7 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 103.4 2014 Rundown · Six wins, 14 top fives, 17 top 10s; five poles · Average finish of 13.5 · Led 26 races for 1,518 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One top five, three top 10s · Average finish of 19.5 in 12 races · Average Running Position of 18.1, 18th-best · Driver Rating of 78.8, 18th-best · 164 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most 8 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 108.3 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; eight poles · Average finish of 14.0 · Led 24 races for 1,817 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · Three top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 13.6 in 23 races · Average Running Position of 16.0, 15th-best · Driver Rating of 83.3, 14th-best · 1,461 Green Flag Passes, third-most · 3,706 Laps in the Top 15 (58.2%), 12th-most · 685 Quality Passes, seventh-most 9 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.2 2014 Rundown · One win, eight top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 16.8 · Led 15 races for 453 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One win, seven top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.4 in 18 races · Average Running Position of 10.8, third-best · Driver Rating of 102.2, fourth-best · 353 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 173.610 mph · 4,448 Laps in the Top 15 (73.8%), sixth-most · 641 Quality Passes, 10th-most 10 - AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Clorox Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.7 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 19.9 · Led 5 races for 68 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · Two top 10s · Average finish of 21.7 in 11 races · Average Running Position of 22.1, 28th-best · Driver Rating of 68.5, 25th-best 11 - Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.5 2014 Rundown · Four wins, 12 top fives, 18 top 10s · Average finish of 12.5 · Led 16 races for 379 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One win, four top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 15.0 in 24 races · Average Running Position of 13.1, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 90.4, 10th-best · 216 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · 1,346 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 173.243 mph, eighth-fastest · 4,624 Laps in the Top 15 (72.7%), fourth-most · 736 Quality Passes, fourth-most 12 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Red Vest Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 98.5 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.2 · Led 16 races for 1,119 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · Three wins, 10 top fives, 16 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 9.5 in 22 races · Average Running Position of 11.4, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 103.6, second-best · Series-high 522 Fastest Laps Run · Average Green Flag Speed of 173.393 mph, fifth-fastest · 4,666 Laps in the Top 15 (73.3%), third-most · 681 Quality Passes, eighth-most 13 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ortho Fire Ant Killer Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 78.7 2014 Rundown · Three top fives, 10 top 10s · Average finish of 16.0 · Led 7 races for 110 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · Two wins, eight top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14.7 in 21 races · Average Running Position of 12.0, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 102.2, third-best · 473 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 173.543 mph, third-fastest · 4,797 Laps in the Top 15 (75.4%), second-most · Series-high 784 Quality Passes 14 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.0 2014 Rundown · One win, three top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 17.1 · Led 12 races for 218 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One win, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.7 in 20 races · Average Running Position of 14.9, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 85.4, 13th-best · 223 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 1,398 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · 3,957 Laps in the Top 15 (62.2%), ninth-most · 688 Quality Passes, sixth-most 15 - Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 86.6 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 19.9 · Led 13 races for 204 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One win, three top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 16.3 in 23 races · Average Running Position of 15.3, 14th-best · Driver Rating of 86.5, 12th-best · 193 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · 1,451 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most 16 - Aric Almirola (No. 43 Farmland Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 72.6 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 21.5 · Led 5 races for 23 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One top 10 · Average finish of 19.6 in seven races · Average Running Position of 21.4, 24th-best · Driver Rating of 68.2, 26th-best The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2014 Eliminator 8 at Texas Motor Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Jeff Gordon 27 2 1 9 12 6 17.2 92.3 2 Ryan Newman 22 2 1 3 5 3 19.1 73.1 3 Joey Logano 12 0 1 4 4 1 18.4 77.1 4 Matt Kenseth 24 0 2 13 17 0 8.3 106.1 5 Denny Hamlin 17 0 2 5 9 0 10.8 93.8 6 Carl Edwards 19 1 3 6 8 4 15.5 96.9 7 Brad Keselowski 12 0 0 1 3 0 19.5 78.8 8 Kevin Harvick 23 0 0 3 11 1 13.6 83.3 * – Based on last 19 races at Texas Motor Speedway (2005 – 2014). Texas Motor Speedway: History · Construction on Texas Motor Speedway began in 1995. · The first NASCAR national series race at TMS was a NASCAR Nationwide Series event on April 5, 1997 – won by Mark Martin . · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was on April 6, 1997 – won by Jeff Burton . · The track underwent a repave between the 2001 and 2002 seasons. · In 2011, the spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was moved from Sunday to Saturday night under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway . · Texas Motor Speedway hosted its first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on November 6, 2005 – won by Carl Edwards. Notebook · There have been 27 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway , one NSCS event from 1997 - 2004 and two races per year since 2005. · 138 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas; 111 in more than one. · Jeff Gordon is the only drive to have made all 27 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway . · Jeremy Mayfield was the first Coors Light pole winner, in 1998 with a speed of 185.906 mph. The inaugural Coors Light pole at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997 was cancelled due to weather conditions. · 19 drivers have Coors Light poles at Texas, led by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon , Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr. with two each. · Two drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Texas Motor Speedway : Bobby Labonte (2003 and 2004) and Ryan Newman (2005 sweep). · Youngest Texas Coors Light pole winner: Brian Vickers (11/05/2006 – 23 years, 0 months, 12 days). · Oldest Texas Coors Light pole winner: Bill Elliott (4/08/2002 – 46 years, 6 months, 0 days). · 18 different drivers have won at Texas Motor Speedway , led by Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson with three each. · Seven drivers have multiple wins at Texas Motor Speedway : Carl Edwards (three), Jimmie Johnson (three), Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton , Denny Hamlin , Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart each have two. · Roush Fenway Racing leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins at Texas Motor Speedway with nine; followed by Hendrick Motorsports with five and Joe Gibbs Racing with four. · Three of the 27 (11.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; Kasey Kahne (2006), Jimmie Johnson (2012) and Kyle Busch (2013). · The third-place starting position is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Texas Motor Speedway , producing more wins than any other starting position (five) – most recent: Jimmie Johnson (fall 2013). · Six of the 27 (22.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from the front row: three from the pole and three from second-place. · 21 of the 27 (77.7%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Four of the 27 (14.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Texas Motor Speedway is 31st, by Matt Kenseth in 2002. · Youngest Texas winner: Joey Logano (03/30/2003 – 23 years, 10 months, 14 days). · Oldest Texas winner: Dale Jarrett (04/01/2001 – 44 years, 4 months, 6 days). · Jimmie Johnson leads the series in runner-up finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with five; followed by Matt Kenseth with four. · Matt Kenseth leads the series in top-five finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with 13; followed by Jimmie Johnson with 10. · Matt Kenseth leads the series lead in top-10 finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with 17; followed by Jimmie Johnson with 16 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 13. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Texas Motor Speedway with an 8.818. Johnson is the only active driver with an average starting position at Texas in the top 10. · Two active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top 10 at Texas: Matt Kenseth (8.250) and Jimmie Johnson (9.455). · There have been three NSCS green-white-checkered finishes at Texas Motor Speedway : fall 2006 (334/339), spring 2008 (334/339), and fall 2012 (334/335). · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions twice in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway ; the inaugural event in 1997 and spring 2007. The race has never been rain shortened. · Casey Mears has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway without posting a DNF (20). · Jeff Burton (4/06/1997) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (4/02/2000) won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career race at Texas Motor Speedway . · David Ragan (4/09/2011) and Martin Truex Jr. (11/04/2007) posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Texas Motor Speedway . · 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski (11/02/2008) and Trevor Bayne (11/07/2010) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Texas Motor Speedway . · Two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted consecutive wins at Texas Motor Speedway : Carl Edwards (2008 sweep) and Denny Hamlin (2010 sweep). · 11 of the 12 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Texas Motor Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Texas in his first appearance; Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman won in their second appearance at TMS. · Jeff Gordon competed at Texas Motor Speedway 16 times before winning in the spring of 2009; the longest span of any the 12 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Only three of the 12 winning drivers have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Texas Motor Speedway : Jeff Gordon (16) Kyle Busch (15) and Kurt Busch (13). · Kevin Harvick and Joe Nemechek lead the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway without visiting Victory Lane at 23 each. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway was the (4/4/2004) race won by Elliott Sadler with a MOV of 0.028 second ahead of Kasey Kahne . · Two female drivers have made NSCS starts at Texas Motor Speedway : Shawna Robinson and Danica Patrick Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 24 27 4/7/2014 Danica Patrick 30 25 11/3/2013 Danica Patrick 42 28 4/13/2013 Danica Patrick 32 24 11/4/2012 Shawna Robinson 16 36 4/8/2002 · Tony Stewart leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in Laps Led at Texas Motor Speedway with 801 laps led in 24 starts. · Jeff Gordon leads all active NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers in Laps Completed at Texas Motor Speedway with 7,990 laps. · One NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has won at Texas Motor Speedway in two different manufacturers: Jeff Burton (1997 – Ford; 2007 – Chevrolet) NASCAR in Texas · There have been 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among three tracks in the state of Texas. Track Name City NSCS Texas Motor Speedway Fort Worth 27 Texas World Speedway College Station 8 Meyer Speedway Houston 1 · 80 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Texas. · 10 drivers from Texas have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series. Six of the nine Texas native NASCAR winners have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Terry Labonte 22 11 1 Bobby Labonte 21 10 1 A.J. Foyt 7 0 0 Billy Wade 4 0 0 Bobby Hillin Jr 1 2 0 Johnny Rutherford 1 0 0 Chris Buescher 0 1 0 James Buescher 0 1 6 David Starr 0 0 4 Colin Braun 0 0 1 MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Kahne eyes Atlanta repeat with new crew chief
Hendrick Motorsports driver won at Atlanta in '14 to lock up Chase spot Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live HAMPTON, Ga. – Last year, Kasey Kahne used a win at Atlanta Motor Speedway to secure one of the 16 available positions in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Six months later, the Hendrick Motorsports driver is hoping for similar results. A win in Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (FOX, 1 p.m. ET) brings with it no guarantees, but it certainly would put the 34-year-old in a much less stressful situation. Kahne was the final driver to secure a Chase spot by virtue of a victory here last August, however a schedule change now finds the 1.54-mile track hosting the season's second stop. A win would go a long way toward easing his team’s concerns as the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season begins to pick up steam. "It would be a lot better and a lot less stress, but it is what it is," Kahne said Friday as teams began preparations for Sunday's race. "We'll take it any way we can." There are goals this year that the '14 effort failed to accomplish, he said. Winning and running up front more often for starters. Better results in practice and better qualifying results as well. "It all starts this weekend," Kahne said. "It would be great to come off with a win right away … and then just go from there. The end of the '14 season also signaled the end of the Kahne/Kenny Francis driver/crew chief pairing. The two had worked together, with two brief exceptions in '07 (due to Francis' suspension) and '10, for a stretch of more than 300 races from the 2005 season finale at Homestead through '14. They have 17 wins in their respective positions, with 16 coming while working together. Francis earned his first win as crew chief with former driver Jeremy Mayfield ; Kahne went to the winner's circle for the first time with Tommy Baldwin Jr. calling the shots. Today, Francis oversees car design and development as the vehicle technical director for Hendrick Motorsports. Keith Rodden, crew chief for Jamie McMurray last season at Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, returned to the HMS fold to replace Francis on the No. 5 team. He and Kahne have a history. "I think the first time he was my engineer was 2004 in the XFINITY Series," Kahne said of Rodden, "and we have kind of been on and off together ever since. "There is a lot more to it than just the communication side. It's kind of the preparation at the shop throughout the winter, how the guys look at things and how our cars are built. He's done a really good job with all that stuff." Kahne, who agreed to a three-year contract extension last November, joined HMS in April of 2010 but didn't officially make the move until 2012. Five wins have come since the move and he is a three-time winner at Atlanta. 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
Stats advance: Analyzing the Quaker State 400
A statistical look ahead to the 18th race of the Sprint Cup season DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (July 6, 2015) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky going into the Quaker State 400 on July 11 on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. ET. KENTUCKY-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Crispy Toyota) · One win, three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 4.500, series-best · Average Running Position of 5.270, series-best · Driver Rating of 124.3, series-best · 139 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 172.614, series-best · 1003 Laps in the Top 15 (93.9), series-most · 99 Quality Passes, 11th-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Two top 10s · Average finish of 11.500, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 13.430, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 89.4, 11th-best · 21 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.179, 13th-fastest · 603 Laps in the Top 15 (56.5), 12th-most · 112 Quality Passes, seventh-most Dale Earnhardt Jr (No. 88 NATIONWIDE Chevrolet) · Two top fives, two top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.750, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 12.607, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 90.7, ninth-best · 32 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.518, 10th-fastest · 633 Laps in the Top 15 (59.3), 11th-most · 106 Quality Passes, ninth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 COMCAST MINIONS Toyota) · One top five, one top 10 · Average finish of 15.750, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 12.755, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 87.2, 12th-best · 20 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.201, 12th-fastest · 662 Laps in the Top 15 (62.0), 10th-most · 107 Quality Passes, eighth-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AARP Member Advantages Chevrolet) · One top five, four top 10s · Average finish of 7.250, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 12.069, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 95.4, sixth-best · 41 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.777, seventh-fastest · 736 Laps in the Top 15 (68.9), seventh-most · 140 Quality Passes, fourth-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota) · One top five, one top 10 · Average finish of 22.750, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 18.688, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 85.2, 13th-best · 34 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 172.252, third-fastest · 558 Laps in the Top 15 (52.2), 13th-most · 87 Quality Passes, 13th-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John's Chevrolet) · Two top 10s · Average finish of 11.000, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 10.600, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 95.2, seventh-best · 17 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.767, eighth-fastest · 884 Laps in the Top 15 (82.8), fourth-most · 133 Quality Passes, fifth-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet) · One top five, four top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 7.000, third-best · Average Running Position of 6.292, second-best · Driver Rating of 116.6, second-best · 127 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 172.573, second-fastest · 963 Laps in the Top 15 (90.2), third-most · 142 Quality Passes, third-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 LIFTMASTER Chevrolet) · One top five, two top 10s · Average finish of 8.500, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 12.879, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 98.9, fifth-best · 64 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 172.039, fifth-fastest · 709 Laps in the Top 15 (66.4), eighth-most · 145 Quality Passes, second-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · One win, two top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 4.500, second-best · Average Running Position of 9.208, third-best · Driver Rating of 107.2, fourth-best · 79 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 172.189, fourth-fastest · 972 Laps in the Top 15 (91.0), second-most · 181 Quality Passes, series-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · Two wins, two top fives, three top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 10.500, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 10.234, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 116.1, third-best · 171 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.863, sixth-fastest · 840 Laps in the Top 15 (78.7), fifth-most · 88 Quality Passes, 12th-most Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil/AutoTrader Ford) · One top five, two top 10s · Average finish of 12.250, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 11.292, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 94.7, eighth-best · 25 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.579, ninth-fastest · 669 Laps in the Top 15 (62.6), ninth-most · 101 Quality Passes, 10th-most Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) · Two top fives, two top 10s · Average finish of 13.750, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 12.857, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 90.2, 10th-best · 14 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.476, 11th-fastest · 776 Laps in the Top 15 (72.7), sixth-most · 113 Quality Passes, sixth-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Kentucky Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 4 0 0 0 2 0 11 95.2 2 Dale Earnhardt Jr 4 1 0 2 2 0 12.8 90.7 3 Jimmie Johnson 4 1 0 1 4 0 7 116.6 4 Joey Logano 4 0 0 1 2 0 12.2 94.7 5 Martin Truex Jr 4 0 0 0 2 0 13 84.0 6 Jamie McMurray 4 0 0 1 1 1 22.5 76.5 7 Brad Keselowski 4 1 2 2 3 0 10.5 116.1 8 Kurt Busch 4 0 0 0 2 0 11.5 89.4 9 Matt Kenseth 4 0 1 2 4 0 4.5 107.2 10 Jeff Gordon 4 0 0 1 4 0 7.2 95.4 11 Kasey Kahne 4 0 0 1 2 0 8.5 98.9 12 Denny Hamlin 4 0 0 1 1 2 22.8 85.2 13 Paul Menard 4 0 0 0 0 0 20.2 74.5 14 Ryan Newman 4 0 0 2 2 1 13.8 90.2 15 Clint Bowyer 4 0 0 1 1 1 19.2 83.3 16 Aric Almirola 3 0 0 0 0 1 26.7 67.4 * – Based on last four races at Kentucky Speedway. Kentucky Speedway Data Season Race #: 18 of 36 (07-11-15) Track Size : 1.5-miles Banking/Turn 1 & 2 : 14 degrees Banking/Turn 3 & 4 : 14 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 8 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 8 degrees Frontstretch Length : 1,662 feet Backstretch Length : 1,600 feet Race Length : 200 laps / 300 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Kentucky Kyle Busch ............................... 124.3 Jimmie Johnson ........................ 116.6 Brad Keselowski ....................... 116.1 Matt Kenseth ............................. 107.2 Kasey Kahne .............................. 98.9 Jeff Gordon ................................ 95.4 Kevin Harvick .............................. 95.2 Joey Logano .............................. 94.7 Dale Earnhardt Jr . ....................... 90.7 Ryan Newman ............................. 90.2 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (four total) among active drivers at Kentucky Speedway. Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Brad Keselowski , Ford 188.791 mph, 28.603 secs. 06-28-14 2014 race winner : Brad Keselowski , Ford 139.723 mph, (02:51:59), 06-29-14 Track qualifying record: Brad Keselowski , Ford 188.791 mph, 28.603 secs. 06-28-14 Track race record: Brad Keselowski ., Dodge 145.607 mph, (02:45:02), 06-30-12 At Kentucky Speedway: History · In 1998, the track broke ground in Sparta, Kentucky, and opened as a 1.5-mile speedway in 2000. · The original owners, Jerry Carroll and four other investors owned the track until 2008, when current owners, Speedway Motorsports Inc. purchased the facility. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was held in 2011 – won by Kyle Busch . Starts · There have been four NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Kentucky Speedway since the first race in 2011 – one race per season. · 60 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway; 45 in more than one. · 28 different drivers have made all four series starts at Kentucky Speedway. · Brad Keselowski leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in Average Starting Position at Kentucky with a 5.75; followed by Kyle Busch with a 6.25. Poles · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying at Kentucky was cancelled due to weather. The starting line-up was set per the Rule Book – Kyle Busch started from first. · Brad Keselowski (2014), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (2013) and Jimmie Johnson (2012) are the three drivers that have won Coors Light poles at Kentucky. · Youngest Kentucky pole winner: Brad Keselowski (06/28/2014 – 30 years, 4 months, 16 days). · Oldest Kentucky pole winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr . (06/30/2013 – 38 years, 8 months, 20 days). Wins · Three different NSCS drivers have won at Kentucky Speedway: Kyle Busch (07/09/2011), Brad Keselowski (06/30/2012 and 6/28/2014) and Matt Kenseth (6/30/2013). · Brad Keselowski leads the series in wins at Kentucky with two. · Youngest Kentucky winner: Kyle Busch (07/09/2011 – 26 years, 2 months, 7 days). · Oldest Kentucky winner: Matt Kenseth (06/30/2013 – 41 years, 3 months, 20 days). · Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske are tied for the series lead in wins at Kentucky with two each: Joe Gibbs Racing (2011, 2013); Team Penske (2012, 2014). · Three different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Kentucky: Toyota (2011, 2013), Dodge (2012) and Ford (2014). · Brad Keselowski is the only driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky from the Coors Light poles (2014). · Kyle Busch won the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky from the first starting position. Due to the qualifying session being cancelled for the 2011 race, it was not from the Coors Light pole. · Two of the four (50.0%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kentucky have been won from the front row – both from the first starting position (2011, 2014). · Three of the four (75%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Kentucky have been won from a top-10 starting position. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Kentucky is 16th, by Matt Kenseth in 2013. · The fewest laps led in a single race by an eventual NSCS winner at Kentucky is 38 laps by Matt Kenseth in 2013. · The most laps led in a single race by an eventual NSCS winner at Kentucky is 199 laps by Brad Keselowski in 2014. Additional Finishing Position Stats · Four different drivers have posted NSCS runner-up finishes at Kentucky: David Reutimann (2011), Kasey Kahne (2012), Jamie McMurray (2013) and Kyle Busch (2014). · 14 different drivers have posted top-five finishes at Kentucky led by Kyle Busch with three; followed by Brad Keselowski , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Matt Kenseth , and Ryan Newman with two each. · 19 different drivers have posted top-10 finishes at Kentucky led by Kyle Busch , Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth with four each. · Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch are tied for the series among active drivers in Average Finishing Position at Kentucky with a 4.5 each. Jimmie Johnson (7.0), Jeff Gordon (7.2), and Kasey Kahne (8.5) are the other active drivers with an average finish in the top 10. Track Event Stats · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kentucky Speedway was the July 9, 2011 race won by Kyle Busch over David Reutimann with a MOV of 0.179 second. · None of the four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kentucky Speedway have resulted with a green-white-checkered finish. · None of the four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kentucky Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions. · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kentucky Speedway once; the 2011 race. · The 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky produced the most lead changes (20) at the 1.5-mile track. The fewest lead changes were in the 2013 race at Kentucky (11). · The 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky produced the most different leaders (12) at the 1.5-mile speedway. The fewest leaders in a NSCS event at Kentucky were last season’s race with three. · Brad Keselowski leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Kentucky with 346 laps led in four starts. Female Competitor Stats · Danica Patrick is the only female driver to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kentucky Speedway . Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 29 23 6/30/2013 Danica Patrick 10 21 6/28/2014 Averages 19.5 22.0 NASCAR in Kentucky · There have been five NASCAR Sprint Cup races among two tracks in Kentucky. Track Name City NSCS Kentucky Speedway Sparta 4 Corbin Speedway Corbin 1 · 42 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Kentucky; three have posted wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Jeremy Mayfield 5 0 0 Michael Waltrip 4 11 1 Tommy Thompson 1 0 0 Jeff Green 0 16 0 David Green 0 9 0 Milestones – Kentucky Speedway HAS NEEDS MILESTONE DESCRIPTION DRIVER Michael McDowell 174 1 175th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Career Start McDowell is 145th on the all-time NSCS career starts list, two starts behind Walter Ballard and Regan Smith (176 each) in 143rd. Danica Patrick 99 1 100th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Career Start Patrick is 191st on the all-time NSCS career starts list, one start behind Bruce Hill (100) in 190th. Jimmie Johnson 74 2 76th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Win Jimmie Johnson is eighth on the all-time NSCS wins list, two wins behind NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt in seventh (76 wins). Tony Stewart 48 2 50th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Win Stewart is 13th on the all-time NSCS wins l
Chastain, Clements called to hauler after altercation
RELATED: Full race results BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Two NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers made a post-race visit to meet with officials following Saturday's Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Ross Chastain and Jeremy Clements, along with crew chiefs Evan Snider and Tony Clements, were called to the NASCAR hauler after the two drivers had an altercation on pit road during a red-flag delay. The incident occurred after the two drivers made contact on the race track. According to reports, Clements approached Chastain shortly after drivers had exited their cars to wait out the rain delay. Clements told reporters he placed his hand "on his back and turned (Chastain) around" when Chastain struck him. "I had no intention of fighting the guy," Clements told NBC Sports. Driver confrontation between Ross Chastain and Jeremy Clements during rain delay of the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 on Saturday @BMSupdates pic.twitter.com/CD3wpVPIiW — Earl Neikirk (@earlneikirk) April 22, 2017 "Hope he realizes now that he can talk, we can talk, but you can't grab someone by the shoulders," Chastain told FS1. "That happened before and I said right then I wouldn't let it happen again. What's done is done." Clements, who was struck in the eye, made a quick trip to the infield care center following the confrontation. Both drivers returned to their cars once the race, which had been halted due to rain, resumed. Clements finished 17th and Chastain 31st. According to Chastain, the two drivers talked out their differences after meeting with NASCAR officials and consider the matter closed. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Blaney, Wood Brothers growing in sophomore season together
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Bristol MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- It used to be a thing. When NASCAR rookies in bygone days graduated to their sophomore seasons, you came to expect the canned photos: A smiling driver at the rear of the car, clearing the bumper of the yellow tape that's required of first-year talent. Ryan Blaney -- as best as we can tell -- took no such staged photo, cheesing for the camera in mid-tape peel. Still, there's been a noticeable change in the 23-year-old driver this season, his second in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and it's helped stir the early indications of a rejuvenation for Wood Brothers Racing, one of the sport's most storied teams. "I think when he pulled that rookie stripe off the car," said team co-owner Len Wood, "it's like last year he was, 'I'm going to mind my P's and Q's, I'm going to pay attention and I'm going to be respectful of everybody, try to gain respect.' This year, I think he's stepped up his aggressiveness a little bit. I think that's the main difference. So far, I haven't seen recklessness with it, just aggressiveness." Blaney's 2017 pivot may not have been the result of an overtly communicated directive from team to driver as much as a natural reflex for a relative newcomer growing more comfortable in his surroundings in stock-car racing's major leagues. Whatever the reason for the figurative loosening of the reins, the new vibe has clicked. Blaney sits sixth in the drivers' standings, fresh from a standout performance at Texas Motor Speedway two weekends ago. Blaney faded to a 12th-place finish but charged hard to lead 148 laps in the early going, marking the iconic No. 21 team's first race with triple digits in the laps led column since the fall of 1982. "I feel like that was a main goal, not only for myself but for our whole team, to be more aggressive this year whether it's racing or pit calls," Blaney says. "I think it's definitely easier to make those decisions when you're not a rookie and you try to gain respect that whole first year so that you can run them a little harder. That side had definitely amplified a lot and it's benefited us so far." Stages of support For an organization rich with tradition, owing to a family pedigree of 67 years of involvement with auto racing, the Wood Brothers have demonstrated a knack at adapting to modern-day NASCAR's rules of the road. In particular, Len Wood says, the No. 21 Ford team has found opportunity in the incentive-based three-stage race format introduced this season. In seven races so far this year, there have been 14 intermissions. The Wood Brothers have accumulated points in 11 of those, earning bonuses for running in the top 10. That stretch has included finishing in the points in nine of the last 10 stage breaks, and two convincing stage wins during Blaney's rapid-paced run at Texas. Many factors powered the Lone Star stage sweep, not the least of which was strategy. A late-breaking caution flag during the second stage put No. 21 crew chief Jeremy Bullins on the spot. Bullins ultimately made the call for Blaney to stay on the track to maintain position in the running order, bettering his chance for more stage points. After collecting the green-checkered flag for Stage 2, Blaney fell back after a scheduled pit stop during the intermission, a jammed-up restart and a late pit-road gaffe that thwarted his comeback efforts. It would have been too easy to blame the late-stage decision for the team's fade, but Len Wood pointed out that a similar strategy panned out for Jimmie Johnson, who eventually stormed to his first victory of the season. If Bullins caught any undue scrutiny for the call, he didn't carry any regrets into last weekend's holiday break. "Obviously you're trying to win races, but through the first part of the season here, everybody's seen what a big deal the stage points are," Bullins said. "We felt like we could win that stage, and how do you give up 10 points? At the end of the day, we got a lot of points out of it, and did we get the win? No, but it was a good confidence boost for the team and certainly a decision we would make again in a heartbeat. I don't second-guess it at all, and I think it was the right thing to do. "I think the fact that we were able to win those stages shows how much our team has grown, and Ryan's confidence in where our team is at this year." Team transition The Wood Brothers made the jump back to full-time competition in NASCAR's premier series last season, a transition aided by a strong technical affiliation with Team Penske, one of Ford's flagship teams with drivers Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. That relationship has grown since Aug. 14, 2014, when the Wood Brothers announced both the advent of the alliance and the addition of Blaney as the team's driver, fresh from the Penske development system. And though it's hard to say that Ford's commitment to the Wood Brothers -- a fiercely loyal relationship spanning seven decades -- has grown even stronger this year, the manufacturer has bolstered its efforts in both performance and sheer numbers by bringing Stewart-Haas Racing to the blue-oval side in 2017. "I think it shows the support that they're wanting to put into the sport in general, which is great," Bullins said. "I think when you add a quality team like that, there's more resources coming from both sides, right? I think it helps everybody." A prime asset helping to revitalize the Wood Brothers this season is a more measured Blaney. His patience in a wreck-filled season opener led to a runner-up finish in the Daytona 500; driving slightly less defensively in the races that followed helped to continue the upward trend. But Blaney also adds off-track intangibles that have helped keep the shop's mood light. It's a team with plenty of tradition and old-school cred, but with a young driver known for his avid Star Wars fandom and his Snapchat antics -- late-night death metal crooning anyone? -- with partner-in-crime Bubba Wallace. "He's kind of a different kid," Len Wood says. "He's a kid off the track. Him and Bubba when they went last year and filmed each other acting like different drivers, that stuff was pretty funny. But I think when he puts the helmet on and sits down in that race car, I think the kid part's gone and he's turning into a very good driver." One without those pesky rookie stripes. &lt;/p&gt;
No. 21 crew chief Bullins on Blaney: 'I'm proud of him'
No. 21 crew chief Jeremy Bullins shares his thoughts with NASCAR.com on the growth of driver Ryan Blaney, the historic Wood Brothers Racing team
Jeremy Clements' 'Black Widow' Darlington paint scheme honors family
RELATED: Full Darlington coverage " Throwback paint schemes Jeremy Clements Racing is excited to announce they will be fielding a Throwback paint scheme this coming Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway . The No. 51 Camaro SS will be sponsored by long time partners www.repairablevehicles.com and will feature the "Black Widow" paint scheme that was driven by a number of racing greats in the late '50s in the likes of Hall of Famers Buck Baker and Rex White and powered by the renowed engine buliders of the time, Jeremy's grandfather and great uncle, Crawford and Louis Clements. Crawford and Louis both also crew chiefed as well for some all time greats. Crawford crew chiefed Hall of Famers Junior Johnson, Buck Baker and AJ Foyt all to wins the early '60s, and Louis crew chiefed Rex White to the 1960 Cup Championship. "I'm really proud to honor my grandfather (who started me in racing) and my great uncle with this cool Black Widow Paint Scheme from the '50s," Jeremy said. "Even more excited to represent them and Clements Racing Engines in our home state at Darlington Raceway ." Buck Baker in his Black Widow.
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