Joe Gibbs Racing changes pit crew coach
Joe Gibbs Racing changed its pit crew coach Wednesday, transitioning longtime coach Mike Lepp to the role of senior athletic adviser and placing Matt Osborn in charge of pit crew operations. Lepp joined JGR at the beginning of 2007, and over the past few years, the JGR pit crews have been the ones to beat. Lepp has amassed more than 113 wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series, combined, as well as other awards. He was part of a Sprint Cup championship with the No. 18 team of Kyle Busch last year and was involved in winning multiple XFINITY Series titles. Lepp has played a major role in bringing the JGR teams to the forefront of the pitting world and has two pit crew championships to his credit, with back-to-back wins in 2010 and 2011 with the No. 11 crew of Denny Hamlin . Over the last nine years, the Nos. 11 and 18 crews have been dominant. One of Lepp's most recent accomplishments was assembling the No. 19 crew of Carl Edwards . That pit crew has been a top-three unit since it started with JGR. With his new job, Lepp will assume an increased role in marketing and public relations duties, including public speaking events and actively searching for sponsorship opportunities. "This is the right time for me to make a change and I'm excited about my new role in the organization," Lepp said in a team release. "I'm proud of what we've accomplished on pit road and I know Matt will continue to do a great job going forward." For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com .
Truex inks two-year extension with Furniture Row Racing
DENVER, Colo. (Aug. 4, 2016) -- Furniture Row Racing announced today that Martin Truex Jr . has signed a new two-year agreement to drive the team’s No. 78 Toyota Camry in NASCAR’s Cup Series. The new contract takes effect starting with the 2017 season. The Denver-based racing organization also announced that Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats, which joined Furniture Row Racing as a partner in 2016, will increase its primary sponsorship schedule on Truex’s No. 78 Toyota from 12 to 16 races in 2017, starting with the season-opening Daytona 500 . The expansion builds on the long-standing relationship between Bass Pro Shops and Truex Jr., an avid outdoorsman and longtime fishing buddy of Bass Pro Shops founder/CEO Johnny Morris. In addition to serving as Truex’s first sponsor when he started his NASCAR career, Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats were the primary sponsors for two NASCAR Xfinity Series championships in 2004 and 2005, as well as the primary sponsor for Truex’s first three years in the Sprint Cup Series. "The signing of Martin Truex Jr . to a new contract and Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats adding more races to its primary sponsorship package are signs of strength and confidence for the future of Furniture Row Racing ," said team president Joe Garone. "Martin has proved over and over that he is one of the blue chip drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and we are elated that he will continue to drive our No. 78 Toyota." Garone added, "Bass Pro Shops has been one of the most visible, committed and respected sponsors in NASCAR for many years. We are grateful that the company is making an additional commitment to our team. Adding Bass Pros Shops, Tracker Boats and Auto-Owners Insurance to our sponsorship family this season has played a vital role, along with Furniture Row and Denver Mattress, in the success and growth of our company." Bass Pro Shops founder/CEO Johnny Morris said of the announcement: "We are excited to elevate our support and partnership with our good friend Martin Truex Jr ., an amazing competitor on the track and a passionate sportsman who loves the outdoors. It brings us tremendous pride to see Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats prominently displayed and have Martin personally representing our brands. Together with our longstanding friends at Toyota and Furniture Row Racing , we believe our partnership with Martin has a very bright future." Truex, 36, said, "I am pleased that we’re going to continue our momentum from this season. This is where I want to be, driving the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota. We’ve come a long way in a short period of time. There are many reasons to feel excited and optimistic about the future of our racing program starting with the commitment from our team owner Barney Visser, the support from Toyota, the technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing and the Bass Pro Shops sponsorship. We definitely have the resources and talent to go after victories and championships. I want to thank Barney and Joe Garone for the confidence that they have placed in me and also want to thank my good friend and hunting/fishing partner Johnny Morris for the continued support from Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats." Truex, who has already clinched a 2016 Chase berth, has been the Furniture Row Racing driver since the start of the 2014 season. As a Chase participant last year, he advanced to the final four. After 21 races of the current season he has claimed one win, three top fives, nine top 10s, three poles, ranks No. 1 with laps led at 1005 and is eighth in Sprint Cup driver points. The Mayetta, N.J. native won back-to-back Xfinity Series championships before joining the Cup series full time in 2006.
Boris Said still having a blast with fans, racing in NASCAR
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Boris Said is a bona fide hero in these parts. And the loyal band of free-spirited "Said Heads" have come out in force this weekend to welcome their road course- racing hero at the Connecticut native's adopted home track, Watkins Glen International . The fans wear big curly-haired wigs, a nod to Said's head of hair and a sign of their allegiance to one of America's most successful road racers. They are local and vocal and fiercely fond of their hero Said, who met up with several of his fans at the area's famous Seneca Lodge restaurant this week. His meal consisted of taking a bite of food, signing an autograph, taking a bite of food, posing for a photo. You get the idea. "It makes you feel good, it does," a smiling Said said. "You go to Seneca Lodge to eat dinner and it's crazy. I was in there last night, having dinner with [ Daniel Suarez ] and he has no idea, he's a young kid. He was freaked out by it. "It was just a lot of hugging and people wearing the T-Shirts coming up the whole time to talk or get an autograph. It's fun and kinda neat." Said will drive the No. 32 Genesee Beer Ford in Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (2:30 p.m. ET, USA/MRN/Sirius XM). It's his first NASCAR start of the 2016 season, but 16th career green flag at The Glen where he has often been tabbed to lead a team's road racing effort. His best finish is third in 2005. He's led nine laps (all in his first start in 1999) and raced cars from James Finch's "Thank A Teacher Today"-sponsored Chevy in 2011 to the famed Wood Brothers' No. 21 Little Debbie Ford in 2007. He won the pole here in his first-ever XFINITY Series start in 1998 driving a car owned by former Cup driver Jimmy Spencer. Twice he finished fourth including last year for Joe Gibbs Racing . "It's crazy for me because I still love driving, but I'm almost 54," Said said. "I keep thinking I’m going to retire, but …" he said smiling and putting his hands up. "I have no hope to win, but it's still fun to drive. "It's still better than watching it on TV and this is one of my favorite places to come, the track, the people, Seneca Lodge, the whole thing." After his drive at Watkins Glen, Said is set for some sports car racing in Europe and will start the Monterey Motorsports Reunion, a historic car race driving one of his former Corvette racer. And, he said, there's a chance he may make an XFINITY Series start. Said also owns BMW and Volkswagen dealerships in his home state of California and his K1 Speed indoor go-kart track franchise recently opened its 34th facility. As Said spoke about his busy life and reflected on his winning career, there was a knock on the team's door from 23-year-old Nicolas Hammann . The young driver met Said through the GT Academy reality show, where he bested thousands of aspiring racers. He wanted to get some advice from Said before his maiden XFINITY Series start Saturday at Watkins Glen. "Best thing you can do is run all the laps," Said offered. "The risk versus reward is a touchy situation, so play it safe and be there at the end and then be aggressive. Race to the checkered." Hammann was clearly eager to discuss the day's strategy with his mentor. And Said clearly enjoyed the opportunity to help a young driver. Especially at a place that has meant so much to Said's career. "Now when I come here I just think about all the years here and the memories of rubbing fenders with Dale Earnhardt Sr., and Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards ," Said said. "It's been awesome. The competitive side of you is a little bummed out you can't be competitive, but you know the limit of your equipment. "But," Said said breaking into a grin. "It's always a blast driving the car fast here."
NASCAR penalty report post-Bristol: Warnings issued to several teams
Five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams received written warnings Wednesday for pre-race inspection violations last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway . The Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota team for defending series champ Kyle Busch will make its pit stall selection last for this weekend's event at Michigan International Speedway . The team sustained its fourth current warning for failing the laser inspection station (LIS) process twice in last Saturday's pre-race checks. Other teams failing twice in the pre-race LIS platform: -- Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota (driver Denny Hamlin ) -- Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet ( Ryan Newman ) -- Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota ( Martin Truex Jr .) The No. 22 Team Penske Ford for driver Joey Logano was issued a written warning for failing LIS twice in pre-qualifying inspections. In other penalty news Wednesday: -- NASCAR issued an indefinite suspension to crew member Ryan Southall for a violation of the NASCAR substance abuse policy. -- Two NASCAR XFINITY Series teams sustained written warnings for failing LIS twice in pre-race inspections at Bristol: The No. 3 Chevrolet driven by Ty Dillon and the No. 93 Chevrolet driven by David Starr .
Carl Edwards nabs Coors Light Pole Award at Bristol
RELATED: Complete lineup for Bristol " See every car in the field BRISTOL, Tenn. – Denny Hamlin owns a new track record, but Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards won the round that counted in Friday’s knockout qualifying session at Bristol Motor Speedway . Edwards sped around the .533-mile high-banked concrete short track in 14.602 seconds (131.407 mph) to claim the top starting spot for Saturday's Bass Pro Shops NRA night Race (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), edging Hamlin (131.200 mph) by .023 seconds. Remarkably, Edwards earned his fifth Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his fourth at Bristol and the 21st of his career without making a mock qualifying run during either of Friday's two practice sessions. Instead, the driver of the No. 19 Toyota relied on setup information from his teammates – including Hamlin. "It's nice to have fast teammates," said Edwards, who will try to duplicate his pole-winning, race-winning performance from April. "We wouldn't have had a shot at (the pole) if it wasn’t for them. We thought it was going to rain, so we didn't practice qualifying or anything. My guys made great adjustments based on that information. "I just hope we can finish it off the way we did in the spring." All four JGR drivers qualified in the top five for the 23rd NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season. Kyle Busch (130.931 mph) will start third and Matt Kenseth (130.619 mph) fifth. The only interloper was Ford driver Ryan Blaney (130.637 mph), who grabbed the fourth spot on the grid in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Fusion. With a blistering run in 14.573 seconds (131.668 mph) in the first round, Hamlin broke the track record he set for this event last year, eclipsing his own mark of 14.602 seconds (131.407 mph). But Hamlin was the last of 12 drivers out for the final round and fell just short of Edwards' winning time. "We had really good speed, so I'm pretty optimistic about that," said Hamlin, who will start within the top six for the 15th time this season. "I can't believe we've qualified as good as we have this year and not gotten a pole. "It's unbelievable – still a great effort by our whole team. I hope we can have a great race up here on (Saturday) night and get in Victory Lane." Chris Buescher , fighting to crack the top 30 in the standings and qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup (based on his victory at Pocono), qualified 12th, one position behind Jeff Gordon , who made the final round for the first time in his fourth start in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr . Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott had the fastest Chevrolet, qualifying sixth. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Kyle Busch tops both Bristol Sprint Cup practices
RELATED: First session results " Second session results Kyle Busch captured the top spot on the leaderboard in both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practices Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway , clocking in at 129.684 mph in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the final session. Right behind him in Friday's second session was Martin Truex Jr . in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota at 129.587 mph. Rounding out the top five were Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (129.386 mph), Ryan Blaney in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford (129.334 mph) and Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (129.256 mph.) Series points leader Brad Keselowski was 10th in the final session at 128.142 mph in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford. The caution flag came out twice in the final session: first, when Greg Biffle spun, though there was no contact, and a second time when Josh Wise lost a right front tire and slammed into the outside wall. -- In the earlier session, Kyle Busch led the way at 128.969 mph in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Right behind him was teammate Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 JGR Toyota at 128.649 mph. Hamlin also logged the most laps in the 80-minute session at 99. Rounding out the top five were Kyle Larson in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet (128.597 mph), Chase Elliott in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (128.511 mph) and Aric Almirola in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford (128.503 mph). Series points leader Brad Keselowski was sixth fastest with a speed of 128.468 mph in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford. The session got underway five minutes late as crews worked to dry a wet track from morning rain. Practice was extended a few minutes to compensate for the late start. RELATED: Follow Bristol weather updates here </p>
Sprint Cup race at Bristol hampered by rain
RELATED: Live radar for Bristol area " Starting lineup " Full race-day schedule Stormy weather delayed the start of Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Bristol Motor Speedway and then caused multiple red flags. An initial red flag on Lap 38 of a scheduled 500 lasted for 1 hour, 24 minutes. It was lifted and the cars returned to the track under caution, but it started storming again 10 laps later, bringing the cars back down pit road. The race is currently under red again. Lightning in the area forced a 50-minute delay to the green flag, and the race got underway just after 9 p.m. ET. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch is the leader, with Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney behind him in spots two and three. Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth , Busch's JGR teammates, are fourth and fifth, respectively. Joey Logano , the two-time defending race winner, is ninth. Wet weather delayed the start of Wednesday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 , which was won by Ben Kennedy . Rain also washed out Thursday's final practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series and delayed Friday's qualifying session for the series. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Austin Dillon wins in overtime finish at Bristol
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid BRISTOL, Tenn. -- A remarkable chain of circumstances gave Austin Dillon the chance to win Friday night's Food City 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway . Dillon took full advantage, completing two harrowing overtime laps to edge surprise runner-up Justin Allgaier in a race that went eight laps beyond the scheduled distance at the ultra-fast .533-mile concrete short track. Dillon didn't take the top spot until Lap 305 of 308, when Brad Keselowski 's No. 22 Ford ran out of fuel while leading under the eighth and final caution of the evening. Driving a No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet that slipped noticeably in Turn 3 on the white-flag lap -- just after crossing the overtime line at the entrance to the corner -- Dillon nevertheless held off Allgaier, third-place finisher Kyle Larson and fourth-place Elliott Sadler , who swapped positions behind the winner on the two overtime laps. Dillon crossed the finish line .227 seconds ahead of Allgaier, who won a drag race against Larson off the final corner. And in Victory Lane, Dillon stayed busy counting his blessings, not the least of which was a shout-out to fiancée Whitney Ward, who recently accepted Dillon's marriage proposal. "It was just a war of attrition," said Dillon, whose new crew chief, Justin Alexander, got his first victory. "We had a pretty good car -- maybe not the fastest car -- but the car that won. I made a mistake in (Turn) 3 coming to the white, but, luckily, everybody else got loose… "It was just a war of attrition, and we did what we had to do to win." Keselowski's empty fuel tank was simply the last domino in a sequence of events that put Dillon in position to win for the first time at Bristol -- or on any short track for that matter -- the second time this season and the eighth time in his career. On Lap 243, pole winner Erik Jones spun Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Daniel Suarez in Turn 3, triggering a six-car wreck that sent both Jones and Suarez to the garage. "I just made a mistake," Jones said ruefully. "I basically turned the 19 (Suarez). It's unfortunate. I feel bad for Daniel and I feel bad for this team and my guys. The (car) was really good, and it deserved a good finish and was probably good enough to win. "I just threw it away on that restart and tried to make too much happen too quick. Just trying to get back in line behind them before the others got there, and I wasn't clear. Just mad at myself." The pivotal wreck that followed was even more dramatic. Keselowski and Kyle Busch were fighting for the lead on Lap 296 when Busch tried a pass in the lower lane and slid his No. 18 Toyota up the track in front of Keselowski's Mustang. Unwilling to surrender the position, Keselowski maintained his momentum off the corner, clipped the right rear of Busch's Camry and sent both cars into the outside wall. Keselowski was able to continue, but Busch blew a tire and shot up into the outside wall in Turns 3 and 4, collecting Ty Dillon , younger brother of the race winner, who was running behind -- and who had led briefly after a restart on Lap 287. "Kyle is, of course, real good at this track, and he was quite a bit faster," Keselowski said. "I was just trying to hold him off anyway I could. He got a good run on the bottom, and the bottom groove was just a little bit faster in (Turns) 1 and 2 than it was in 3 and 4. He knew that and made a really smart move and got up next to me, but I had a big run on exit and he wasn't quite clear. "I knew he needed to come up because 3 and 4, like I said, the bottom groove wasn't as good. He knew he needed to come up and there just wasn't enough room. I was already there and it clipped him in the right rear. I don't really know what happened from there, but it was tough. We were battling really hard and definitely didn't want to see it end that way." When the race went past its posted distance and Keselowski had issues picking up fuel under the yellow, that left Dillon to hold off Larson, who had led 200 laps at that point. With advice from his grandfather and team owner, Richard Childress, Dillon picked the outside lane for the final restart and pulled out a victory that would have seemed an unlikely outcome just 50 laps earlier. </p>
The Rundown: Bristol driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Driver standings " Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway : 1. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . This says it all about Harvick's second win at Bristol: In 112 Cup races at the track, only four winners started farther back in the field than Harvick's 24th ( Elliott Sadler , 38th, 2001; Dale Earnhardt Jr ., 30th, 2004; Kurt Busch , 27th, 2002; Dale Earnhardt, 26th, 1999). Grade: A++ 2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse overcame a pit-road speeding penalty to tie his career-best finish, which also came at Bristol (2014). In fact, half of Stenhouse's six career top-five finishes have come at Bristol. Grade: A+ 3. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . It was a day of eighths for Hamlin: His eighth top five of the season and his eighth pit-road speeding penalty. He also had to make an unscheduled stop for a loose wheel that put him two laps down. Nice recovery, but he absolutely has to stick a fork in those pit-road speeding penalties before the Chase begins. Grade: A- 4. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon just avoided the big wreck on Lap 373 to post his first top five since Talladega in May. Also important: Dillon moved up two spots in the Chase standings to 13th, passing Ryan Newman and Chase Elliott . Grade: A 5. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Huge day for Buescher, who gets his second career top five -- both in the past three races -- and moves into the top 30 in points for the first time this season. Grade: A+ 6. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Debris piercing the right front of his car couldn't stop Edwards from getting his 14th top 10 of the season, one fewer than he had all of 2015. Grade: A 7. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Hard to believe, but Johnson's finish was only his second top 10 in the past 10 races. Grade: A 8. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray's Chase radar is on max. He's 15th in the Chase standings after his fourth top 10 in the past six races. Grade: A 9. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger posts back-to-back top 10s for the second time this season, the first time he has had multiple back-to-back top-10 finishes in a season in his Sprint Cup career. Grade: A 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . We don't have the space to list all the issues Logano and the No. 22 had to overcome Sunday. This top 10 was hard earned and well deserved. Grade: A 11. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . In the 801st and possibly final start of his career, Gordon gets his best finish in his fourth race as Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s sub. Grade: B 12. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne jumped over Kyle Larson in the standings and picked up ground on Ryan Newman , who leads Bayne by 35 points for the last spot in the Chase with three races to go before the field is set. Grade: B 13. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . With Chris Buescher entering the top 30, Kahne went from 11 points behind 16th place in the Chase standings to 39 points back. Grade: B 14. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola posted his best finish of the season since finishing 13th in Week 4 at Phoenix. Grade: B 15. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott's promising day took a hit when he was collected in the big wreck on Lap 373. On the flip side, he led 14 laps, his first laps led since Week 15 at Michigan. Grade: B 16. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . A miscommunication over the radio that resulted in an unscheduled green-flag pit stop didn't help matters. Grade: B- 17. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto posted the second-best finish of his young career despite being down three laps at one point because of a tire issue. His best finish? Sixth at Bristol in April. Grade: A 18. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott turned in his second-best finish of the season (12th at Fontana in Week 5). Grade: A 19. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell finishes in the top 20 in consecutive races for the first time in his 201-race Cup career. Grade: A 20. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Cassill finished 22nd in April to tie his best finish at Bristol. Sunday, he topped that. Grade: A 21. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan avoided disaster with a great evasive maneuver down low to avoid a spinning Kyle Busch on Lap 358. Grade: B 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick finished 22nd for the third time in the past four races. Her other finish in that stretch: 21st two weeks ago at Watkins Glen. Grade: C 23. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Bad luck found Truex again. He was running third on Lap 358 when he was collected in a wreck caused by Kyle Bush's spin and the No. 78 suffered heavy damage. His average running position of 9.6 was fifth best. Grade: A- 24. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson had an eventful day, and that’s not code for a great day. A pit-road speeding penalty, cut oil line, three on-track incidents (neither his fault) and untimely tire rub totally erased the benefit of having a super-fast car. Grade: B- 25. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears has one top 10 in 28 starts at Bristol giving him the lowest top-10 percentage among active drivers with at least 15 Cup starts at the track. Grade: C 26. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith brought out the third caution when he got into the wall on Lap 157; attrition enabled him to post a top-30 finish. Grade: C- 27. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson tied Regan Smith for the fewest green-flag passes with six. Grade: C- 28. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Pit-road penalties and tire problems carried (dropped?) the day. Still, Newman is 16th in the Chase standings with a 35-point cushion over Trevor Bayne with three races to go. Grade: D 29. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32, Go Fas Racing Ford. Earnhardt improved three spots from his debut at Bristol in April. Grade: C- 30. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . We'll let Tony sum up his final start at Bristol: "We had a wheel that was loose, and that messed our whole day up." Perhaps, but owner Tony got a win and was part of a double burnout with winner Kevin Harvick . Grade: D 31. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . A broken brake rotor put Bowyer into the wall on Lap 416. Grade D 32. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard was running in the top 10 when he got caught up in the aftermath of Kurt Busch 's spin and his car sustained a punctured radiator when he ran into Chase Elliott . That's Bristol. Grade: C- 33. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski was running third when Kurt Busch got loose in front of him, turned and Keselowski hit him hard. Keselowski had run among the leaders until the accident on Lap 373. Grade: C 34. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. The No. 98 spent time in the garage, and Whitt finished 58 laps off the pace. Grade: D 35. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney was caught up in the Kurt Busch wreck. As cars checked up, Blaney slammed into Matt Kenseth , who had been turned by Chase Elliott . Blaney returned to the track, but when the day ended he had little to show for a top-five starting spot. Grade: C 36. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise completed 416 laps, his fewest at Bristol since 2012, his rookie season. Grade: F 37. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . A so-so day at Bristol became a no-no day when Kenseth was collected in the Kurt Busch wreck. Since a four-race run of 1st, 13th, 3rd and 1st, Kenseth has now gone 42nd, 36th and 37th. That's Bristol, too. Grade: C 38. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Finally we come to the driver who miscalculated his move "by a few inches"and ignited the wreck on Lap 373 that collected 10 other cars. Busch later tweeted, "Tasted the checkers, pushed too hard too soon." No argument here. Busch had completed every lap run this season until Sunday. Grade: F 39. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch led a race-high 256 laps and owned the day until something broke in his car (his team will hear about that on Tuesday, he said). The No. 18 went into a soft spin, but it was met with a hard hit by Justin Allgaier that left Busch with his third DNF in his past four races at Bristol, all for crashes. Grade: C- 40. Justin Allgaier , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Subbing for Michael Annett (flu-like symptoms), Allgaier made his first Sprint Cup start of the season one day after finishing second in the XFINITY Series race at Bristol. Two days later he earned the wrath of Kyle Busch for plowing into him when Busch spun out on Lap 358. That's the high and lows of Bristol. Grade: F </p>
Kenseth to continue Tide car's legacy at Darlington
RELATED: See all the schemes from 2016 " VOTE: Favorite Darlington scheme BUY TICKETS: Darlington When five drivers and an owner of the caliber of Ricky Craven, Ricky Rudd, Darrell Waltrip, Matt Kenseth and Joe Gibbs get in one room, race fans can't help just hoping they won't stop telling stories. Thank Tide and Darlington Raceway 's throwback weekend for bringing together this entertaining and endearing group of racing royalty. Kenseth's throwback scheme for Labor Day Weekend's Bojangles' Southern 500 (Sept. 4, 6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) allows the orange, yellow and white Tide car to ride -- and contend for a win -- again. The Joe Gibbs Racing quartet, consisting of Kenseth, Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards , has racked up 10 wins in the 2016 season's first 22 races -- the most successful organization, thus far, in 2016. The iconic scheme brings back memories of victories for Craven, Rudd and Waltrip. "Matt's the only one who hasn't won in the Tide car," Craven pointed out. "No pressure, Matt," the other racers chimed in. Kenseth, however, isn't feeling too much pressure on the track yet with two wins in 2016 -- at Dover and Loudon -- and his Chase berth secured. But the 2003 Sprint Cup Series champion did feel the gravitas of the racing greats gathered Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame for the unveiling of the No. 20 Tide Pods Toyota. "On a serious note, I really want to thank the three guys behind me, all legends in the sport," Kenseth said. "I've gotten to race with all three of them. "I'm a little concerned about Darlington, though. Not because of the track, but because of these guys. Ricky Rudd doesn't look like he's aged a day since he got out of the car. I know he can fit right in my seat and go drive the thing. So I'm a little worried about him at Darlington. Might have to bring security with me." "Does that mean we're just old?" Ricky Craven asked, referring to himself and Waltrip after Kenseth eliminated them as threats to steal his ride for the Southern 500. "I know Waltrip can't fit," Kenseth joked. Waltrip joined in the jostling but also got very sentimental. He recalled his victory in the Tide ride at Martinsville Speedway on Sept. 27, 1987, the day his daughter, Jessica, was born -- and the rose in a vase someone left in his car seat with a note that said, "Win for me, daddy." Gibbs joked that he's the perfect person to represent the sponsor because, "When I was 5 years old, Tide became a reality. You do the math." Tide is celebrating its 70th anniversary. The three retired racers worked the Tide brand representatives on hand, too, pushing hard to see the Tide car back on track full-time as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series sponsor. Gibbs said for now it's a one-race deal, but JGR is honored to work with the brand that has been a part of racing for decades -- including being the detergent that goes in the Air Titans when they wash the tracks. Bringing back memories is the key to fans and race teams alike embracing the Darlington throwback weekends. The JGR and Tide team hopes the No. 20 will lead the pack in nostalgia as well as horsepower. "That orange car is going to make a splash at Darlington," Waltrip said. MORE: Reaction to paint scheme from the legends