MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Cup veteran to help steer newcomer through his first full Truck Series season
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
Get the latest David Gilliland news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Organization will run three trucks next season Kyle Busch Motorsports will shuffle its crew chiefs ahead of the 2015 Camping World Truck Series season, the organization announced on Thursday. Veteran crew chief Jerry Baxter, who was teamed with Darrell Wallace Jr . for five wins over the past two seasons, will serve as the crew chief for the No. 51 truck. That truck has won back-to-back owner's championships in the series and will be driven by team owner Kyle Busch , Matt Tifft and Daniel Suarez in 2015. RELATED: KBM sets 2015 lineup " Jerry came to KBM with a history of success working with young drivers, and Darrell thrived under his tutelage the last two seasons," Busch said in a team release. "Now, he'll get the chance to mentor Daniel (Suarez) and Matt (Tifft) -- two more young guys with a lot of potential -- and with Eric's (Phillips) departure, he and Rudy will take on some added responsibility on the competition side." Phillips moved up to the XFINITY Series and will serve as a crew chief for the No. 18 entry to be driven by Suarez. RELATED: JGR sets crew chief lineup for 2015 Shannon Rursch, who spent the past season as a crew chief for Turner Scott Motorsports in both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, will be the crew chief for the No. 54 entry to be driven by Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Justin Boston . "I'm really honored to be joining KBM -- an organization that has a proven track record of being able to win races and championships," Rursch said in a team release. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity to come in and learn what has made them so successful and hopefully bring a few things to the table. I don't see any reason why Justin can't go out and win some races and be a leading contender for the Rookie of the Year Award with the equipment we have in place and the resources available to us from Toyota." As previously announced, Ryan "Rudy" Fugle will be the pit boss for Erik Jones ' first full-time campaign in the series. The two teamed together for Jones' first national series win in 2013 at Phoenix. Jones will drive the No. 4 Toyota Tundra. Last season, Jones, Wallace Jr. and Busch combined for 14 wins, the most ever by an organization in a single season of Camping World Truck Series competition. The 2015 season will kick off on Feb. 20 at Daytona International Speedway . MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Logano among the best, but is he No. 1?
Plenty of road racers have made an impact on NASCAR
With network no longer televising races, some move on to other endeavors RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today ESPN's affiliation with NASCAR, providing coverage of the second half of the season's Sprint Cup Series races as well as the entire 33-race Nationwide Series schedule, came to an end earlier this month at Homestead-Miami Speedway . ESPN had been a television partner for the sport since 2007 and overall, had been involved in NASCAR coverage for 28 years. The cable sports giant is not part of NASCAR's most recent broadcast package that officially begins in 2015. FOX Sports will air the first 16 Sprint Cup Series events while NBC Sports will handle live coverage of the final 20 races. Coverage of the XFINITY Series (previously Nationwide) will also be split between the two networks while FOX Sports will carry coverage of NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series . Many of the faces that fans have grown accustomed to seeing on ESPN during NASCAR events will still be seen next year. Some will still be affiliated with motorsports, others will not. "It'll be different," Allen Bestwick said during a conference call prior to the season finale at HMS. "You know, my life has been centered around daily involvement with this sport since 1986. It will be very different." Bestwick, 53, served as lead announcer for ESPN’s NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage. Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett and former crew chief Andy Petree served as analysts alongside Bestwick. Bestwick will remain in the booth, serving as the lead announcer for the Indianapolis 500 and ESPN's association with the IndyCar Series. He will also be involved in college football and basketball, pro tennis and golf coverage "They're a big deal to me," Bestwick said of the upcoming opportunities. "They're new, and I mean, I'm going to have a chance to be involved in and around the British Open at St. Andrews next summer. How could you not be excited about that? It'll be very different." Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Dr. Jerry Punch and Vince Welch served as pit reporters for ESPN. Burns will join NBC Sports next season when that network begins its Sprint Cup affiliation while Little will move over to FOX Sports as a pit reporter. Welch has worked the IndyCar series as well for ESPN and could possibly resume those duties. Jarrett, the 1999 premier series champion, Petree and Punch have not announced their plans for 2015 and beyond. Former driver Ricky Craven and reporter Marty Smith will remain entrenched with the Bristol, Connecticut-based network and tethered to NASCAR. Craven, lauded for his no-nonsense approach and knowledge of the sport, will continue to serve as the lead in-studio NASCAR analyst. Smith, based in Charlotte, will also report on the series, but also will be assigned to other sports such as college and pro football. Those out front for the pre-race NASCAR Countdown show included host Nicole Briscoe, Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace. Briscoe will move into the role of an anchor for SportsCenter starting in January and is expected to do other in-studio work as well. Daugherty, the former NBA standout who currently co-owns the JTG Daugherty Racing Sprint Cup Series team, will transition to ESPN's coverage of college and pro basketball. Wallace, like Jarrett a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, has not announced his plans for next season. "ESPN has allowed me to do a lot of different things," Wallace, the '89 series champion, said. "… All different kinds of platforms. I've learned so much. … ESPN has kept my name out there and kept me relevant and kept me going." NBC Sports will begin its portion of live NASCAR race coverage at Daytona International Speedway in July of 2015. In addition to Burns, former ESPN reporter Mike Massaro will join the group as a pit reporter, along with Marty Snider and Kelli Stavast. Krista Voda will serve as host of pre- and post-race shows for NBC; Rick Allen (lead announcer), Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte (analysts) will be in the booth. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Jerry Cook
Take a look back at some of the most candid moments as drivers and celebrities made their way through the media center in 2014.
An ecstatic AJ Allmendinger reacts to winning his first ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen in the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen.