Driver expects to be with Hendrick beyond 2015 season SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Insisting with a big smile that he was "home" for good, Jimmie Johnson told reporters Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that he fully expected to remain at Hendrick Motorsports with crew chief Chad Knaus and sponsor Lowe's. In fact, Johnson was so confident in the final outcome of his current contract negotiations, he wasn't even sure of all the details. "We still have, is it next year on our contract? I don't even know. ... We are obviously not concerned," Johnson said. "We have been getting things buttoned up with Lowe's, with Hendrick, with Chad and myself, all of that. Like I said, I think last week, I'm home, it's just a formality at this point to get everything kind of finished up and done." Johnson last signed a contract extension with Hendrick in 2009 that would carry him through the 2015 season. This new one will be the fourth contract he's had with the team since his Cup series debut in 2001, and it's the only organization he's ever driven for at NASCAR's elite level. Lowe's has been with him as a sponsor for the long haul as well, signing a two-year extension in 2013 to coincide with Johnson's contract terms. When Johnson signed his last contract, team owner Hendrick proclaimed, "We've caught lighting in a bottle with this combination" and promised more success. He was correct in his prediction as Johnson went on to win his fifth and sixth Cup titles (in 2010 and 2013), leaving him one shy of Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most championships all-time. Johnson currently leads the series with four victories through 19 races this season and sits fourth in the points standings entering Sunday's Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard, where he has four wins and finished first (2012) or second (2013) in two of the last three years. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Jimmie Johnson states that he is 'home' at Hendrick Motorsports and has no worries about Chad Knaus not being the crew chief of the No. 48 in the future.
A statistical look ahead to the 21st race of the Sprint Cup season DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Pocono Raceway in Pocono, Pennsylvania going into the WINDOWS 10 400 on August 2 (1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). POCONO-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Two wins, 12 top fives, 16 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 12.421, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 10.246, second-best · Driver Rating of 105.9, third-best · 332 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.733, second-fastest · 2659 Laps in the Top 15 (77.0), second-most · 774 Quality Passes, seventh-most Dale Earnhardt Jr (No. 88 MICROSOFT Chevrolet) · Two wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.900, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 14.002, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 92.6, ninth-best · 102 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.237, eighth-fastest · 2286 Laps in the Top 15 (63.3), eighth-most · 727 Quality Passes, eighth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 STANLEY Toyota) · Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 15.500, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 14.826, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 94.2, eighth-best · 176 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.224, ninth-fastest · 2262 Laps in the Top 15 (62.6), 10th-most · 712 Quality Passes, ninth-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AARP Member Advantages Chevrolet) · Six wins, 19 top fives, 31 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 9.650, second-best · Average Running Position of 9.916, series-best · Driver Rating of 103.5, fourth-best · 169 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.625, fifth-fastest · 2777 Laps in the Top 15 (76.9), third-most · 885 Quality Passes, series-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota) · Four wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 11.889, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 10.844, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 108.3, series-best · 437 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.806, series-fastest · 2543 Laps in the Top 15 (79.3), series-most · 685 Quality Passes, 10th-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/Budweiser Chevrolet) · Seven top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 10.600, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 13.743, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 91.9, 11th-best · 63 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.159, 10th-fastest · 2277 Laps in the Top 15 (63.0), ninth-most · 789 Quality Passes, sixth-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet) · Three wins, 11 top fives, 18 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 10.500, third-best · Average Running Position of 10.487, third-best · Driver Rating of 106.9, second-best · 273 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.708, third-fastest · 2774 Laps in the Top 15 (76.8), fourth-most · 861 Quality Passes, fourth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Aquafina Chevrolet) · Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 18.750, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 14.622, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 92.1, 10th-best · 306 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.436, sixth-fastest · 2199 Laps in the Top 15 (60.9), 11th-most · 804 Quality Passes, fifth-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford) · One win, three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 13.400, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 14.786, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 90.8, 12th-best · 96 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 161.894, 13th-fastest · 852 Laps in the Top 15 (50.1), 13th-most · 306 Quality Passes, 12th-most Kyle Larson (No. 42 Suave Men Chevrolet) · One top five, two top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 8.000, series-best · Average Running Position of 12.672, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 95.7, sixth-best · 2 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.690, fourth-fastest · 230 Laps in the Top 15 (71.9), seventh-most · 87 Quality Passes, 13th-most Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · One win, three top fives, five top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 16.583, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 13.811, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 88.9, 13th-best · 61 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.097, 12th-fastest · 1190 Laps in the Top 15 (56.6), 12th-most · 456 Quality Passes, 11th-most Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) · One win, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 10.500, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 11.426, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 95.3, seventh-best · 36 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.135, 11th-fastest · 2689 Laps in the Top 15 (74.4), fifth-most · 883 Quality Passes, second-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Two wins, 12 top fives, 22 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 10.600, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 12.223, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 97.6, fifth-best · 99 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.319, seventh-fastest · 2619 Laps in the Top 15 (72.5), sixth-most · 880 Quality Passes, third-most Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 29 0 0 7 11 2 13.2 91.9 2 Joey Logano 13 2 1 3 5 1 15.6 88.9 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr 31 1 2 9 13 1 15.2 92.6 4 Jimmie Johnson 27 3 3 11 18 1 9.6 106.9 5 Martin Truex Jr 19 0 1 3 7 0 15.1 80.4 6 Brad Keselowski 11 0 1 3 4 0 13.7 90.8 7 Matt Kenseth 31 0 0 3 11 1 15.7 86.7 8 Kurt Busch 28 2 2 12 16 5 14.4 105.9 9 Jamie McMurray 25 1 0 0 7 3 19.3 73.1 10 Denny Hamlin 19 3 4 9 13 2 11.8 108.3 11 Jeff Gordon 45 2 6 19 31 5 10 103.5 12 Ryan Newman 27 2 1 9 14 3 12.4 95.3 13 Paul Menard 17 0 0 0 2 1 23.6 64.6 14 Kasey Kahne 23 2 2 5 8 3 17.6 92.1 15 Clint Bowyer 19 0 0 2 8 0 14.6 82.8 16 Carl Edwards 21 0 2 5 8 1 15.5 94.2 * – Based on last 21 races at Pocono Raceway (2005 – 2015). Kyle Busch ’s Chase Eligibility 30th Justin Allgaier 317 Rank Driver Wins Points Points From 30th 31 Cole Whitt 0 314 -3 32 Kyle Busch 4 294 -23 33 Brett Moffitt # 0 266 -51 34 Alex Bowman 0 245 -72 35 Michael Annett 0 230 -87 36 Matt DiBenedetto # 0 205 -112 37 Josh Wise 0 186 -131 38 Michael McDowell 0 124 -193 39 Jeb Burton 0 111 -206 40 Alex Kennedy 0 71 -246 * To be eligible for the Chase, the driver must be in the top 30 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings following race number 26. Pocono Raceway Data Season Race #: 21 of 36 (08-02-15) Track Size : 2.5-miles Banking/Turn 1 : 14 degrees Banking/Turn 2 : 8 degrees Banking/Turn 3 : 6 degrees Frontstretch Length : 3,740 feet Backstretch Length : 3,055 feet Shortstretch Length : 1,780 feet Race Length : 160 laps / 400 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Pocono Denny Hamlin ............................ 108.3 Jimmie Johnson ........................ 106.9 Kurt Busch ................................ 105.9 Jeff Gordon .............................. 103.5 Tony Stewart ............................... 97.6 Kyle Larson ................................ 95.7 Ryan Newman ............................. 95.3 Carl Edwards .............................. 94.2 Dale Earnhardt Jr ........................ 92.6 Kasey Kahne .............................. 92.1 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2015 races (21 total) among active drivers at Pocono Raceway. Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Kyle Larson , Chevrolet 183.438 mph, 49.063 secs, 08-01-14 2014 race winner : Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Chevrolet 127.411 mph, (03:08:22), 08-03-14 Track qualifying record: Kyle Larson , Chevrolet 183.438 mph, 49.610 secs, 08-03-14 Track race record: Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 145.384 mph, (03:26:21), 06-12-11 At Pocono Raceway: History · Opened in 1968 as a three-quarter-mile track, Pocono Raceway held the first race on the 2.5-mile track in 1971. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was in 1974 – won by Richard Petty , Dodge, 115.593 mph, 08/04/1974. · The 2.5-mile track was repaved during the fall of 2011. · 2012 marked the first season the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono were scheduled for 400 miles. Prior to 2012 all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races were 500 miles at Pocono Raceway. Starts · There have been 75 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Pocono Raceway, one race from 1974 through 1981, and two per year since. · 327 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway; 229 in more than one. · Ricky Rudd leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in starts at Pocono with 55. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 45 starts (eighth most all-time) at Pocono; followed by Tony Stewart with 33 starts. · Denny Hamlin (19 starts) leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Pocono with a 6.632. Poles · 40 drivers have posted Coors Light poles at Pocono, led by Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader with five each; Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin lead all active drivers with three each. · Buddy Baker won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Pocono in 1974 with a speed of 144.122 mph. · Five drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Pocono. Bill Elliott holds the record for most consecutive poles at Pocono with three; fall 1984 and both races in 1985. · Two active drivers have posted consecutive Coors Light poles at Pocono: Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep) and Joey Logano (fall 2011 and spring 2012). · Youngest Pocono pole winner: Joey Logano (08/07/2011 – 21 years, 2 months, 14 days). · Oldest Pocono pole winner: David Pearson (06/10/1984 – 49 years, 5 months, 19 days). · Kyle Larson (8/03/2014) and Casey Mears (8/1/2004) posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Pocono Raceway. Wins · 33 different drivers have won at Pocono Raceway, led by Jeff Gordon with six wins. · Seven active drivers have multiple wins at Pocono: Jeff Gordon (6), Denny Hamlin (4), Jimmie Johnson (3), Carl Edwards , Kasey Kahne , Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart (each have 2). · Seven drivers have posted consecutive wins at Pocono Raceway all-time, including three consecutive by Bobby Allison (1982 sweep and spring 1983) and Tim Richmond (1986 sweep and spring 1987). · Three of the seven drivers to win consecutive races at Pocono are active: Jimmie Johnson (2004 sweep); Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep and 2009 fall and 2010 spring races) and Dale Earnhardt Jr . (2014 sweep). · Youngest Pocono winner: Joey Logano (06/10/2012 – 22 years, 0 months, 17 days). · Oldest Pocono winner: Harry Gant (06/17/1990 – 50 years, 5 months, 7 days). · Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Pocono in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 17: Jeff Gordon (six), Tim Richmond (three), Jimmie Johnson (three), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (two), Kasey Kahne (one), Geoff Bodine (one) and Terry Labonte (one). · Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Pocono; led by Chevrolet with 31 victories; followed by Ford with 21 and Toyota has three. · 13 of the 75 (17.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Joey Logano (June, 2012). · 15 of the 74 (20%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the first starting position; the most recent was Jimmie Johnson (June, 2013). · The first starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (15) than any other starting position at Pocono Raceway. · 24 of the 75 (32%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the front row: 15 from the first starting position and nine from second-place. · 53 of the 75 (70.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Pocono have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Five of the 75 (6.7%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Pocono is 29th, by Carl Edwards in the spring of 2005. · One active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has posted his first career win at Pocono Raceway: Denny Hamlin (06/11/06). · Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards are the only two active drivers to win at Pocono in their first appearances. · Matt Kenseth leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Pocono without visiting Victory Lane at 31; followed by Kevin Harvick with 29. Additional Finishing Position Stats · Mark Martin leads the series in runner-up finishes at Pocono with seven; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with six; followed by Kurt Busch with five. · Mark Martin leads the series in top-five finishes at Pocono with 20; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 19; followed by Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart with 12 each. · Mark Martin leads the series in top-10 finishes at Pocono with 34; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 31; followed by Tony Stewart with 22. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Pocono with a 9.630. Track Specific Stats · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in
No. 4 SHR driver led a race-high 75 laps, finishes third RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Kevin Harvick led a race-high 75 laps but not the final one in Sunday's Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard and if there is a silver lining to the disappointment, he still remains first in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series points standings, a hefty 69 points ahead of the guy ( Joey Logano ) he finished behind in the race and second in the Chase grid behind Jimmie Johnson thanks to his two wins and points accumulation. Harvick's No. 4 Chevrolet paced the field four times and for much of the day looked well on its way to handing the reigning Sprint Cup champ his second Brickyard 400 trophy. But late race restarts proved his undoing and he finished third behind race winner Kyle Busch and Logano. Ironically a 1-2 finish for Toyota and Ford after 12 consecutive wins by Chevrolet. Obviously disappointed by the final outcome, Harvick was still philosophical and upbeat after the race. "We had a great day," he said. "I think everybody did a great job, just in that second or third-to-last restart where the 22 (Logano) and 18 (Busch) were able to get hooked up and kind of drive by us and I lost control of the race there and didn't really have what I wanted on the restarts. Fellow Chevrolet driver and fourth place finisher Martin Truex Jr . took responsibility for part of Harvick's woes. "Just feel a little bad for Kevin (Harvick) there," Truex said. "I kind of screwed him. I was trying to push him, just mistimed it. It's hard to see the lines down there when you are behind a guy. "I just totally forgot to ask my spotter for help and a heads up when we were getting 5-10 feet from that line. I feel bad I messed him up a bit there. I kind of messed Kyle (Busch) up on the last one too and he still won." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Jimmie Johnson talks about the moment he found out that Jeff Gordon was retiring.
Johnson on P1: 'We don't agree with what has happened' RELATED: 3 teams penalized after Charlotte " Hendrick appeals P1 penalty on No. 48 MORE: No. 48 appeal avoids repeat of 2006 pit pick DOVER, Del. -- Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson calmly and strongly reiterated his team's position to appeal the P1 penalty NASCAR handed down to the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team this week. An hour before posting the fastest speed in Friday's opening practice at Dover International Speedway , Johnson spoke to reporters for the first time since the penalty was announced Wednesday and since his team filed an appeal Thursday. Johnson spoke to reporters Friday for the first time since the penalty was announced Wednesday and since his team filed an appeal Thursday. "Definitely we don't agree with what has happened and getting the letters and that's why the appeal has taken place," Johnson said from Dover International Speedway before opening practice. "I look forward to the appeal process running its course, and respect it and certainly hope for a different outcome once everything has run its course." Johnson's No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet team was penalized this week after receiving multiple written warnings from NASCAR for violations found during the May 16 Sprint All-Star Race and May 24 Coca-Cola 600 weekends at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Multiple warnings warranted a P1-level infraction that would have given Johnson one of the last pit stall selections this weekend at Dover. By appealing the penalty, Johnson will still have the ability to pick a pit stall based on his qualifying position, which is important on the small and tight pit road at the 1-mile Dover concrete oval. "I guess there is that part of it," Johnson said. "My qualifying record as of late hasn't been so stellar, so we won't know implication of that (appealing the penalty) until after qualifying. "Then," he said, pausing, " the stories can run rampant then." Johnson was fastest in practice with a speed of 163.867 mph followed by Denny Hamlin , Hendrick teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr . and David Ragan . A victory Sunday in the FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM) would be Johnson's 10th at Dover and make him one of only five drivers (Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson, and Dale Earnhardt) in NASCAR history to score double-digit wins on a track. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Appeal will be heard on Tuesday, June 9 MORE: Johnson stands by appeal decision " 'Six-Time' scores 10th Dover win NASCAR competition officials announced Monday that the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team's appeal of P1-level penalties will be heard on Tuesday, June 9. The proceedings are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. ET at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. NASCAR officials announced P1-grade penalties last Wednesday after an accumulation of written warnings for minor infractions during two weekends of racing for the Sprint Cup Series last month at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Officials punished the No. 48 team by removing its ability to choose its own pit stall, but the organization indicated Thursday that it would appeal. The appeal prevented the penalty from going into effect last weekend at Dover International Speedway , allowing No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus to select a pit stall based on driver Jimmie Johnson 's speed in Friday's Coors Light Qualifying. Johnson started 14th and prevailed in the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks , registering his series-best fourth victory of the season and the 10th of his career at the Monster Mile. Johnson touched on the penalty in a pre-race media availability Friday at Dover. "Definitely we don't agree with what has happened and getting the letters and that's why the appeal has taken place,'' Johnson said. "I look forward to the appeal process running its course, and respect it and certainly hope for a different outcome once everything has run its course.'' FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Dale Jr., Hamlin also topped Friday's practice leaderboards RELATED: See the new spoiler at Indy this weekend Practice 3: Full results Kurt Busch led the final Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network/Live Extra, SiriusXM). The Stewart-Haas Racing driver jumped to the lead near the end of the final session, putting up a high speed of 181.987 mph. Coming up short in speed to the No. 41 driver was Kevin Harvick (181.763 mph). Kyle Larson (181.357 mph), Jimmie Johnson (180.697 mph) and Martin Truex Jr . (180.672 mph) rounded out the top-five fastest on the leaderboard. Denny Hamlin led the series’ first practice at the Brickyard, but fell to 31st-fastest in the final round. Dale Earnhardt Jr . also led a practice session, but was 32nd-fastest, right behind Hamlin, in the closing run. Jeff Gordon , the defending race winner, finished 23rd-fastest in the final session. The Sprint Cup Series takes the track at the Brickyard for the Coors Light Pole Qualifying session tomorrow at 1:10 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network/Live Extra). Practice 2: Full results A fast lap of 181.466 mph sent Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s No. 88 soaring to the top of the leaderboard early during Friday's second practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Hendrick Motorsports driver found more speed in this session, having posted a high speed of 181.046 mph (ranked seventh) in the opening session this morning at the Brickyard. Team Penske 's Brad Keselowski came up just behind Earnhardt, scoring a fast lap of 181.448 mph in his No. 2 Ford to snag the second spot. Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne ranked third (181.408 mph), while Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates' Kyle Larson (181.378 mph) and Michael Waltrip Racing 's Clint Bowyer (181.331 mph) rounded out the top five. Last year's Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon showed speed again in this session, propelling around the famed speedway at 181.189 mph to earn the sixth spot. Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick was 14th-fastest, rounding the Indiana track at 179.583 mph in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Reigning XFINITY champion Chase Elliott -- who will be making his fourth Sprint Cup Series start in Sunday's 400-mile event -- clocked a fast lap of 178.798 mph in his No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, giving him the 17th-fastest speed in the field. After topping the opening practice, Denny Hamlin ran into trouble early in the second session when the hood of his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota flew up and hit the windshield. The bizarre occurance -- which NASCAR determined was caused by the hood not being properly pinned down -- brought out the caution for debris. His No. 11 team replaced the hood and the windshield and Hamlin returned to the race track to score the 12th-fastest speed. Paul Menard 's No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet returned to the track after hitting the wall during opening practice. The 2011 Brickyard 400 winner ranked 22nd on the leaderboard. Practice 1: Full results Denny Hamlin rose to the top of the leaderboard Friday morning in opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice as teams got their first taste of a new aerodynamic package at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hamlin drove the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota to a fast lap of 182.208 mph on the 2.5-mile track. The 34-year-old driver won the Coors Light Pole Award at the Brickyard in 2012. Jimmie Johnson , a four-time Brickyard winner, managed the second-fastest lap at 181.796 mph in the 85-minute session, but the show of speed was tempered by a fuel-pressure issue that brought the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet to a halt on the track at the 50-minute mark of practice. He was pushed back to the garage with help from the No. 14 Chevy of Tony Stewart . Defending Sprint Cup Series champion and current points leader Kevin Harvick was third-fastest at 181.756 mph in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet in preparation for Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM). Five-time Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon was fourth-fastest at 181.444 mph in preparation for his final race at the historic speedway. Gordon prevailed in the inaugural NASCAR race at Indy in 1994 and triumphed last season to top the series' all-time win list at the 2.5-mile track. Stewart, a two-time Brickyard winner, completed the top five on the leaderboard. With new aero devices in place to make the cars less smooth through the air, Hamlin's speed was significantly slower than Matt Kenseth 's 186.285 mph lap that led first practice at the Brickyard last year. The lap was also off the 188.470-mph pace set by Kevin Harvick in Coors Light Pole Qualifying at Indianapolis in 2014. The new high-drag rules package was designed with the hopes of promoting more side-by-side racing at the rectangular track, where passing has typically been difficult. The biggest aerodynamic change was to the rear spoiler, which was raised to a 9-inch height and capped by a new wicker bill on top. Though a portion of the larger spoiler is made of clear, hard Lexan plastic, a handful of drivers -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano among them -- complained of some visibility issues in their rear view. Chase Elliott , set to replace Gordon as a Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet next season, was 15th-fastest in preparation for the fourth Sprint Cup start of his career. His No. 25 Chevy from the Hendrick stables clocked a best lap of 179.939 mph. Former Indianapolis winner Paul Menard scraped the outside retaining wall at approximately the 30-minute mark, causing slight damage to the right side of the Richard Childress Racing No. 27 Chevrolet. After repairs, Menard was able to return to the track, setting the 21st-fastest lap. Two more practices are scheduled Friday for the Sprint Cup Series -- 1-2:25 p.m. ET and 4-5:55 p.m. ET, with both broadcast on NBC Sports Network. Coors Light Pole Qualifying, which will use single-car runs to set the 43-car field, is scheduled Saturday at 1:10 p.m. ET. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Kurt Busch can join Harvick, Johnson , Dale Jr. in 16-car field after Indy RELATED: Chase Grid after New Hampshire Only seven races remain before the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set. Here's what we know: Kevin Harvick , Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Jimmie Johnson have fulfilled two of the three Chase criteria. All three have the multiple wins that guarantee a spot among the top 16 winners, and have locked up a top 30 spot. All they need to do now is start each of the remaining races in the regular season. A few drivers can join them this weekend. If Kurt Busch leaves Indy with a 289-point lead over 31st, he will lock up a top 30 spot. Joey Logano , Martin Truex Jr ., Brad Keselowski , Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin all need to win, and in some cases get some help, to lock up a top 30 spot (leaving Indy with a 289-point lead over 31st). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Drivers give feedback on new rules package at Indy SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- There was the unexpected stall on track by six-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the opening session and the hood on the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin that disintegrated just as the second practice got underway, but neither were related to the new high drag aerodynamic package that debuted Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams began preparations for Sunday's Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard with a taller spoiler (9-inches), a 1-inch wicker bill, as well as changes to the splitter and splitter extension panel. The move could improve passing on the narrow, 2.5-mile track. But the jury was still out after nearly five hours of on-track activity Friday. "Passing will be tough to say the least," Hamlin, fastest in the first of three sessions, said. "We're trying something new. I can't fault (NASCAR) for trying – they tried what we wanted to try and I thought we had a pretty successful race (at Kentucky) and now we're trying something different. "We'll see if it's better or not. Still, here is a very tough race track. This is a one-groove race track where it's definitely been tough to pass here for 15 years or as long as I've been here. It's just going to be one of those tough tracks." Johnson's troubles were the result of a faulty fuel pump. Hamlin's miscue came as a result of hood pins that weren't properly secured. Other than a spin here, a brush with the wall there, it was a day most spent trying to find the balance between speed and drivability. Some found it; some are still searching. NASCAR rolled out a low downforce setup for the Kentucky race, and while the tire provided wasn't built specifically for the package, the results were generally favorable. A version of the Indy package, which will also be in play next month when the series returns to Michigan International Speedway, was tested briefly last year. Because of the uncertainties, teams were allowed one engine change prior to Saturday's qualifying and also ran their practices with on-board data acquisition systems. Teams were instructed to bring four different gears to Indy for possible use, starting with a 3.70 before giving option of 3.70 or 3.75 gear for the second session. By the final practice, the options were 3.75 and 3.80. "I honestly think until we get into the race on Sunday that it's hard to get anyone's true opinion on what we are going to have," Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) said. "… I really don't. To me on Sunday when you get two cars side-by-side with this package the guy in third is going to have an extra engine. It's going to be crazy the amount of speed that he is going to have. I don't know, the restarts are going to be pretty wild, I think." Teams did take part in an open test here in April, following a two-day Goodyear tire test. But the high drag package was not a part of those tests. The data gathered months ago isn't completely useless, Team Penske driver Joey Logano said, but much of it no longer relates. "I think a lot of that transfers over, but there is still quite a bit of difference," he said. "When you look at your wedge or your track bar or nose weight -- those three things for sure, maybe rear springs -- those changed probably the most when you have a package that's so different than what they tested here or what we ran last year even. "We're just trying to find a balance for those three and those … are a challenge enough, but obviously there's a lot more to that package than just that." A day that began for teams at 6:30 a.m. ended with most sifting through data, changing engines, and "basically totally re-prep your car," Team Penske competition director Travis Geisler said. "This was a hell of a day." What, if anything, was learned? "I think it's definitely going to take guys being forced into situations, which is what the race does, to make things happen," he said. "Something that just never happens in practice. You can't force guys to do that. … It is, he said, "a lot of the reason why NASCAR has gone in the direction of ‘hey, we're going to go to the race track and see what happens.' "We've all spent a lot time, energy, resources on going to large scale tests and you still just never generate the motivation for guys to put themselves in uncomfortable positions. "There has to be something on the line and I think kissing the bricks is as much on the line as guys can get." Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ) led the final practice. Coors Light Pole qualifying (NBCSN) to set the 43-car field is scheduled to being at 1:10 p.m. ET Saturday. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule