CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- That high-pitched whir unique to Joe Gibbs Racing 's air wrenches could be coming to the pit boxes of one of the Toyota organization's closest rivals in the near future. Hendrick Motorsports ' motivations for hiring front-tire changer Nick Odell to Jeff Gordon 's No. 24 team last week came into clearer focus Tuesday at the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Contender Round Media Day. Odell, Gordon said, wasn't merely brought in for his nimble work during pit stops, but also for his institutional and technical skill, which helped in the development of JGR's enhanced air guns. "That was an opportunity to get someone that is highly regarded on pit road, very knowledgeable about more than just changing tires," Gordon said during media rotations at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "He was somebody that a lot of people wanted to get their hands on, and Nick had to make his own choice and decision where he was going to end up going. I'm very proud that he came to our organization. I think it's going to pick our program up, which I feel like we've been off. "I mean, we train guys, we have very talented individuals, but it goes further than that. Now we're starting to see where these pit guns are a crucial part of pit stops. It's something we've been working on, and now it helps us take it to the next level." RELATED: Pit crew changes for Gordon, Earnhardt Jr. Odell's move came at the expense of specifically the No. 18 team with driver Kyle Busch , who lost a seven-year veteran from his over-the-wall crew, but generally for Joe Gibbs Racing , which unveiled the high-speed air guns -- known for their distinctively shrill whine -- during the 2014 season. The upgrade in equipment, combined with JGR's already quick personnel, has helped the team shave precious tenths of a second off its pit stops. Busch said he anticipated a similar air wrench design making its debut at Hendrick Motorsports ' four-car outfit in "six, seven, eight months," and that JGR will face even tighter competition on pit road next season. "I feel like Nick Odell, he's one of my best friends. I'm friends with all my guys, and if any of them left, I'd be hurt about it," Busch said. "I didn't want to see Nick go, but things happen for a reason I guess in this business. Certainly being a part of Joe Gibbs Racing and the development work and everything that we've done into those air guns, obviously Nick was a part of that and knows some of that stuff, so he's a guy who does have some of that knowledge and will share it, I'm sure, with the Hendrick Motorsports group." If Busch's timetable for air-gun development is accurate, Gordon won't have an opportunity to directly feel the impact. The four-time champion will be ceding his seat to defending XFINITY champion Chase Elliott at season's end, and changes to the 2016 rules package may reduce the premium on gaining spots during pit-stop exchanges. Gordon said that doesn't mean that teams will place lesser emphasis on seeking every advantage possible to speed up pit-road service. "I think you're just always trying to find out where you need more strength and what can make you better," Gordon said. "Track position has become so important. I think next year it'll be less important because of the aerodynamics, and I think that's great for the sport, but we're never going to stop trying to figure out how to find time on pit road if it's possible and to do it consistently. Right now, I think it's so crucial. The aerodynamic and power combination we have this year, it is so difficult to pass once you get the green flag and get strung out. Very, very difficult."
After the third race of the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway , PitTalks.com ranks the 16 Chase teams' pit crews. For more pit crew news provided by PitTalks.com come back throughout the Chase . No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Carl Edwards Rank: 1 Wins: 2 -- Charlotte and Darlington Notes: This crew had an exceptional race in the pits. We usually wouldn't send a seventh-place team last week to first this week, but these guys laid down some very fast stops. They had an issue late in the race that brought the No. 19 down pit road, but we're hearing it was a car issue, not a crew misstep. No. 22 Team Penske Ford pit crew for Joey Logano Rank: 2 Wins: 3 -- Daytona, Watkins Glen, Bristol Notes: After a struggle last week on a few stops, this crew was on fire at Dover. It gained spots on five of the six pit sequences and helped keep the No. 22 up front all day. No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Kevin Harvick Rank: 3 Wins: 2 -- Las Vegas and Phoenix Notes: This team did everything it needed to do to advance to the Contender Round of the Chase. The pressure this crew was under was huge, and team members were in a situation where mistakes weren't tolerated. They had fast stops all day and have earned the third spot. No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Kurt Busch Rank: 4 Wins: 2 -- Richmond and Michigan Notes: This has been a top team all year and it continued to put up good times at Dover. The stops weren't as fast as the top two teams in Dover, but they were still very good. Late in the race the car entered pit road with problems on the left front, but that wasn't on the crew. No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Denny Hamlin Rank: 5 Wins: 2 -- Martinsville, (Sprint All-Star Race), Chicago Notes: The first stop of the day was blistering for this crew: sub 11 seconds. But after two speeding penalties it seemed the wind was taken out of the team's sails. We still wouldn't bet against them when the race is on the line ... it just wasn't this weekend. No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Matt Kenseth Rank: 6 Wins: 5 -- Bristol, Pocono, Michigan, Richmond, New Hampshire Notes: Dover wasn't a great race for the No. 20 nor was it a bad one. The crew made adjustments on the back of the car during the second stop and lost a few spots, but after that it was solid for most of the day. This team wasn't as dominant as last week but was still fast. No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Kyle Busch Rank: 7 Wins: 4 -- Sonoma , Kentucky, New Hampshire, Indianapolis Notes: Landing in the seventh spot this week is the good ol' No. 18 car. What a drama-filled two weeks for these guys! They seem to be handling it well. Their stops looked fast, and Josh Leslie has stepped in nicely for Nick Odell. We see this team only getting faster during the next round. No. 2 Team Penske Ford pit crew for Brad Keselowski Rank: 8 Wins: 1 -- Fontana Notes: This crew didn't do enough to gain on the top seven, but was good enough to hold onto eighth. Even with a change in the rear changers three weeks ago, this team keeps getting better. In order to help the No. 2 car advance to the next round, they must continue to improve. No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Ryan Newman Rank: 9 Wins: 0 Notes: Newman is in the Contender Round of the Chase, and he had no problems on pit road that would have kept him out. Sometimes that is what is asked of the pit crew: don't make mistakes. We can't fairly say how fast their stops were. So with that, they stay hunkered down at No. 9. No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet pit crew for Jeff Gordon Rank: 10 Wins: 0 Notes: Nick Odell joined the No. 24 this week only one week after being released from JGR. The crew seemed to be OK, but we didn't see much that would push us to move it up from the past two weeks. No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Martin Truex Jr . Rank: 11 Wins: 1 - Pocono Notes: The No. 78 has seen better days but did what it took to advance. On the fourth sequence, it lost a spot and lost two more on pit stop No. 6. They're a scary crew because they can put up very low times, but the inconsistency is what keeps them near the bottom of the power rankings. No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet pit crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr . Rank: 12 Wins: 2 -- Talladega and Daytona Notes: This crew can't seem to catch a break. Toward the end of last week a change was announced and front changer Scott Brzozowski was taken off the No. 24 and put on the No. 88. They had a loose wheel on Stop 2 and had another potential wheel coming loose before the last caution. For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com
NASCAR officials will return to Michigan International Speedway on Tuesday, Oct. 20 to test a low downforce package similar to what was used in competition last month at Darlington Raceway . Drivers scheduled to take part in the test are defending NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 25 Chevrolet, current XFINITY Series points leader Chris Buescher ( Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford) and Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup contender Denny Hamlin ( Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota). According to information provided to the teams on Wednesday, the test is to verify max and corner speeds with three different grip levels of tires. The schedule calls for individual 10- and 25-lap runs in the morning and afternoon sessions. The lower downforce package debuted at Kentucky Speedway this season before also being put into play at Darlington, where it featured a 3.5-inch spoiler, 25-inch splitter extension panel (radiator pan) and 6.63-inch by 25-inch splitter. The only change for the MIS test will be an increase in the splitter extension panel to 33 inches. Drivers and teams were pleased with the initial results of the package, particularly at Darlington where Goodyear was able to provide a specific tire based on data gained from testing there prior to the race. The MIS test will take place approximately two months after the Sprint Cup Series competed at the 2-mile facility with a high-drag aerodynamic configuration. A high-drag package was also used at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . JGR driver Matt Kenseth called the high-drag package "terrible." "You just can't pass," he said after finishing seventh in the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard. "Yeah, you can run up on the straightaway a little bit, but you can't run though the corner with anything." A month later, after his driver dominated at Michigan with the same rules package, Kenseth's crew chief Jason Ratcliff said "at the end of the straightaway (cars could) gain on others two or three car-lengths. But they just couldn't do much once they got there and they got down in the corner, they were kind of helpless." The high-drag rules included a 9-inch spoiler with a 1-inch wicker bill, a rear fascia extension panel (similar to those used for superspeedway events at Daytona and Talladega), a 2-inch leading edge on the splitter and a 43-inch splitter extension panel. "We know that high drag package is awful," four-time premier series champion Jeff Gordon said following the Darlington race. "We know that this (lower downforce) is definitely in the right direction. … I think when you look at the less horsepower we had coming in this year it's the package that should have been with this car that we have now. You can't take that kind of power away and not do something significant to the downforce as well." Homestead Test Slated for December NASCAR and Goodyear officials have added a post-season test scheduled for Dec. 14-15 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to continue preparations for the 2016 rules package. Organizations scheduled to participate in the test are Stewart-Haas Racing (Chevrolet), Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet), Richard Petty Motorsports (Ford) and Furniture Row Racing (Toyota). It is expected to be the first on-track testing for Furniture Row and driver Martin Truex Jr . with a Toyota entry. The Denver-based team is making the switch from Chevrolet to Toyota for '16. Because of the change, SHR was added to the test to replace Furniture Row for Chevrolet. "I think '16, we're not really even thinking about right now," Truex said earlier this week. "We know what we're doing next year, we'll worry about that after (the final race at) Homestead. "I think everybody in the Chase is probably in the same position -- you're worried about today and tomorrow and this coming weekend. No further ahead. Once you set your plans, it's real easy." Lineup Change for Atlanta Test The Toyota teams of Michael Waltrip Racing and BK Racing have declined to take part in the Goodyear tire test slated for Oct. 27-28 at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Joe Gibbs Racing has been added to the lineup to represent Toyota teams at the 1.54-mile track. MWR will not field a full-time Sprint Cup Series team next season. The two-day program is a confirmation test for Goodyear; an open team test is scheduled for Oct. 29 following the completion of the tire test. CMS Tire Info Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series teams will be running the same tire codes this weekend at Charlotte, according to Goodyear officials, and is unchanged from what was provided for the 1.5 mile track's May races. The left-side tire code has been used at CMS since 2012; the right side, which features a multi-zone tread, was used there for the first time in May.
Practice 2: Practice results After posting the fourth-fastest speed in the opening session, Sprint Cup Series regular Kasey Kahne soared all the way to the top in Thursday's final XFINITY Series practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Piloting the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports this weekend, Kahne laid down a fast lap of 180.433 mph to score the top spot. Fellow Cup regular and leader of the opening session, Kyle Busch was second on the leaderboard, propelling his No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing ride at 180.114 mph around the North Carolina track. Points leader Chris Buescher -- who was runner-up in the first practice -- maintained his momentum during the second session, posting the third-fastest speed of 180.108 mph in his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. JR Motorsports' Regan Smith (180.096 mph) and Kyle Busch Motorsports' Erik Jones (180.066 mph) rounded out the top five. The XFINITY Series is back on track at Charlotte on Friday at 4:45 p.m. ET for Coors Light Pole Qualifying (NBCSN/Live Extra). Practice 1: Practice results Kyle Busch topped the leaderboard early during Thursday's opening XFINITY Series practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway , wheeling his No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at 181.886 mph. Current series points leader Chris Buescher ranked second on the charts, rounding the 1.5-mile oval at 181.330 mph in his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. Richard Childress Racing 's Ty Dillon posted the third-fastest speed in his No. 3 ride (181.318 mph), while Kasey Kahne -- who is piloting the No. 88 ride for JR Motorsports this weekend -- was fourth with a top pace of 181.020 mph. Ryan Reed rounded out the top five with a fast lap of 180.499 mph in his No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing ride. Reigning series champion Chase Elliott was 12th-fastest in the field, propelling his No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at 179.295 mph
RELATED: Complete race lineup CONCORD, N.C. – For a driver who keeps insisting that qualifying isn’t his strong suit, Matt Kenseth continues to excel on NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole days. Touring the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway in a blistering 27.759 seconds (194.532 mph) on Thursday night, the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota earned the top starting spot for Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra), the first race in the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Kenseth was .198 seconds quicker than JGR teammate Kyle Busch (193.154 mph), who put the No. 18 Toyota on the outside of the front row. Busch's car is sporting a pink paint scheme this weekend to bring attention to the work of his foundation in fighting breast cancer. The Coors Light Pole Award was Kenseth’s fourth this year—a personal best for a single season—his second at Charlotte (and second consecutive) and the 17th of his career. Kenseth didn't have a perfect lap, but as he crossed the start/finish to complete the circuit, he knew he had a shot at the pole. "It was a heck of a lap," Kenseth said. "I knew I had a lot of speed. I kind of changed it up in (Turns) 1 and 2 a little bit, and I just got a little tight in the middle of (Turns) 3 and 4. I knew the car was fast. Our Dollar General Camry has been fast all day, and it was a lot of fun to drive." Kenseth gave the car and crew chief Jason Ratcliff's setup much of the credit for his pole-winning effort. "I knew it was going to be real fast," Kenseth said. "I didn't know we were going to sit on the pole by any means, but it had the feel and everything that I wanted. It's funny, this place, if you can get it to drive just like you want, you can really perform well here, but it's so hard to get that feel… "But today he (Ratcliff) got it to drive that way. I was going to have to mess it up to not get it, as good as he had it there." Joey Logano (193.023 mph) qualified third, followed by Greg Biffle (192.947 mph) and Denny Hamlin (192.912 mph). With Carl Edwards claiming the eighth starting spot, JGR put all four of its drivers, all of whom are Chase contenders, in the top eight. All told, Chase drivers grabbed nine of the top 12 positions on the grid, with Biffle, Jimmie Johnson (seventh) and Aric Almirola (ninth) the only non-Chase drivers able to advance to the final round of knockout qualifying. Busch, who fought his way back into the Chase with a second-place finish last Sunday at Dover, was pleased with his effort in time trials. "I don't know— Matt Kenseth , he was better than me, that's for sure," Busch said. "He got more out of it than me, but our pink M&M's Camry is awesome. We were able to post some good speed there. I'm real happy with it… and I'm looking forward to the race on Saturday night." All 12 Chase contenders advanced through the first round, but Brad Keselowski (13th), Martin Truex Jr . (15th) and Jeff Gordon (22nd) weren't fast enough to make the final elimination session, which is restricted to the top 12. Keselowski ran an identical lap to 12th-place Carl Edwards but lost the final spot in the third round on an owner points tiebreaker. Josh Wise and Timmy Hill failed to make the 43-car field. The Sprint Cup Series is back on track on Friday for practice at 3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN/Live Extra).
At least four NASCAR drivers have crashed hard into walls not protected by SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barriers this season, with two sustaining injuries that required medical treatment. Camping World Truck Series driver Austin Theriault was the most recent victim, as the Brad Keselowski Racing driver suffered a 10 percent compression fracture of the lower back after crashing during the Oct. 3 Rhino Linings 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Theriault's No. 29 Ford struck the wall nose-first in approximately the same spot hit by Erik Jones ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) earlier this year during an XFINITY Series event. Jones was not injured as a result of his crash. Tuesday, team owner and 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski said he had not seen Theriault, "but I spoke to him and I know he's going through all those stages with the protocol you have to go through for NASCAR. Until that's done, I think it would be a little premature for me to say anything as to how he’s doing." Keselowski, whose organization fields two full-time trucks, said he is hopeful his driver will be "ready to go" when the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway in two weeks. On Thursday, Talladega officials announced "significant safety enhancements … will be in place" prior to the track's Oct. 23-25 race weekend. In a statement posted on the track's web site, officials said "we have installed more than 8,000 linear feet of (SAFER) Barrier in 2015. We are covering the entire outside and interior retaining walls of the 2.66-mile facility." The fact that another driver hit in an unprotected area at a track, Keselowski said, does make him cringe, "but then I get back in the race car and say 'What are my options?' "As a team owner I have no ability to affect chance on the tracks, and as a driver I'm consistently told how lucky I am to have a spot as a race car driver and I need to shut up and driver the car. "There are no options available for me to remedy the situation, so I move on to things I can affect change on." Steve O'Donnell, Executive Vice President and Chief racing Development Officer for NASCAR, told NASCAR.com on Monday that the installation of SAFER barriers and other safety enhancements is "something that we've been very diligent about. "We were very vocal coming out of Daytona (in February)," he said. "We've worked with each of the facilities to have an aggressive plan in place for the SAFER barriers. In this case we've already had those conversations with Las Vegas and you'll see some changes heading into the 2016 season. "It was very unfortunate … but the tracks have made some big investments in terms of from the first race to the second and I expect that to happen again as we look at Las Vegas and heading into the Cup weekend for 2016." Las Vegas Motor Speedway officials, contacted this week, said that plans are in place to have SAFER barrier installed in the area of the Theriault and Jones crashes before next season and that those plans were in place before this most recent incident. JGR driver Kyle Busch suffered a broken right leg and fractures to his left foot when he hit the inside wall nearest to Turn 1 during the season-opening XFINITY Series event at Daytona International Speedway in February. Busch, who competes full-time in the Sprint Cup Series, missed the season's first 11 races while recuperating. DIS president Joie Chitwood said that SAFER barrier should have been in place where the Busch accident occurred, but added after the incident, "we're going to fix that" and that the energy-absorbing barrier would be installed "on every inch at this property." By the time the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series returned to the 2.5-mile track in July, additional barriers had been put in place beyond the exit of pit road (where the Busch impact took place), along the entire backstretch and at the entrance to pit road beyond Turn 4. More than 20,000 square feet of grass areas inside the track, between the racing surface and interior walls, was paved as well. "My thing about it is they do need to work faster," Busch said of additional SAFER barrier being installed at facilities. "I know there's a plan, but there's no reason why some of these race tracks -- like Bristol for instance had (SAFER barrier on) the walls on the straightaway" before this year's spring events at the track. "And at a place like (Las) Vegas, it's been eight months and … they don't have (SAFER) walls. It's frustrating sometimes. "I've said it before and I'll say it again … we'll figure out how to crash in the stupidest ways in the weirdest spots and get hurt. That Austin (Theriault) crash, that was so weird and never should have happened, but it did. We all need to stop playing God and protect as much as we can protect and let the rest take care of itself." Fellow Sprint Cup driver Jeff Gordon was not injured when he crashed at Atlanta Motor Speedway , a week after Busch's wreck, hitting a portion of the backstretch wall not covered with SAFER materials. Incidents such as Theriault's "points out how important it is to have every single wall covered at these race tracks," Gordon, a four-time Sprint Cup Series champion, said. "You know, for whatever reason, somewhere along the way somebody said 'we can put it here and we don't need it here' and that just proved that it doesn't matter what stats show. … These incidents can happen at any time," said Gordon. According to AMS officials, additional SAFER barrier will be installed in January of 2016 along the outer wall on the front and backstretch as well as portions of the inside wall and in the turns.
RELATED: Full practice results Wheeling his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet at 193.500 mph, Kevin Harvick surged to the top of the leaderboard during Thurday's opening Sprint Cup Series practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Matt Kenseth 's late lap of 192.892 mph sent his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing ride to the second spot on the leaderboard. Roush Fenway Racing 's Greg Biffle also made a late lap, his No. 16 ride clocking a third-best speed of 192.885 mph. Team Penske 's Joey Logano used a fast lap of 192.458 mph to snag the fourth spot, while Kasey Kahne propelled the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at 192.321 mph to round out the top five. Having paced the field for the majority of practice, Ryan Blaney settled into eighth by the session's end, rounding the 1.5-mile North Carolina track at 192.048 mph. Kyle Busch was the slowest among the 12 Chase Contenders, coming in at 21st-fastest with a top pace of 191.049 mph. The Sprint Cup Series is back on track at Charlotte at 7:20 p.m. ET for Coors Light Pole Qualifying (NBCSN/Live Extra).
Photo credit: @CLTMotorSpdwy RELATED: Photos of the Better Half Dash participants CONCORD, N.C.— It was the NASCAR wives' and girlfriends' time to shine on the track in Thursday's fifth annual Better Half Dash, organized by Motor Racing Outreach at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Shannon Koch, the wife of NASCAR XFINITY Series driver, Blake Koch , took the checkered flag. She overcame some early-race trouble when the back body panel of her No. 8 machine was blown off by the wind. "I really didn't know that I lost part of my car until I came back around and they were picking it up off the track," Shannon Koch said after the race. "My husband just said, 'keep going, they didn't black flag you yet.' " Congratulations Shannon Koch! @CLTMotorSpdwy : Shannon Koch wins #BetterHalfDash ! pic.twitter.com/utaZBrZH2u http://t.co/A8pZxzvjsB — NASCAR Off Track (@OffTrackNASCAR) October 8, 2015 When asked whether that gave her an aerodynamic advantage, Shannon Koch said, "I don't know, maybe it did. Did lap times pick up? I have no idea. It didn't feel any different to me." To which second-place finisher Katelyn Sweet, girlfriend of Kyle Larson , quickly said to a loud round of laughter, "Your motor got way more air." No word on whether the car passed post-race inspection. Shannon Koch wins the #BetterHalfDash at @CLTMotorSpdwy pic.twitter.com/dbjY7tmYkm — Pete McCole (@PeteMcCole) October 8, 2015 The race benefits MRO and Speedway Children's Charities as well as each participant's individual charity. Koch's $10,000 winnings went to MRO, which was the charity she was representing. With the win comes a really big trophy for Koch. She described it as "definitely the biggest that we have. It will go right up there with the rest of them." And Koch is also going out on top, saying in the post-race press conference, "I'm retiring." NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars Larson and Denny Hamlin were among the spotters for their respective significant others, Sweet and Jordan Fish. NASCAR Sprint Cup regulars Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr . were among those to check out the action as well. Sweet led several laps in the event and overcame an early spin out to finish second. Tandra Greenfield, the wife of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Clay Greenfield , finished third. Greenfield is eager to come back next year. "It was fun to compete with them because they were so aggressive and competitive," she said. Wendy Venturini, a NASCAR reporter and wife of Jarrad Egert, director of track operations for Joe Gibbs Racing , was not able to pull off the MRO event sweep after taking the High Heel Dash in May. Over the past few weeks, there have been practice sessions leading up to the race, all while the competitors were busy raising money prior to the event. As in years past, the participant to raise the most money earned the opportunity to select their starting spot for the race. Koch earned the pole honor. The results: 1. Shannon Koch (wife of driver Blake Koch ) 2. Katelyn Sweet (girlfriend of driver Kyle Larson ) 3. Tandra Greenfield (wife of driver Clay Greenfield ) 4. Jordan Fish (girlfriend of driver Denny Hamlin ) 5. Kristen Yeley (wife of driver J.J. Yeley) 6. Tatiana Papis (wife of driver Max Papis ) 7. Ashley Deihl Stremme (wife of driver David Stremme ) 8. Melanie Self (Motor Racing Outreach Community Center Coordinator) 9. Jenna Robinson (wife of No. 19 tire changer Clay Robinson) 10. Whitney Kay Scott (wife of driver Brian Scott ) 11. Wendy Venturini (NASCAR reporter, wife of JGR director of track operations Jarrad Egert)
The following are team press releases previewing the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET Saturday, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). Joe Gibbs Racing : Kyle Busch " Team preview Carl Edwards " Team preview Denny Hamlin " Team preview Matt Kenseth " Team preview Stewart-Haas Racing : Kevin Harvick " Team preview Kurt Busch " Team preview Hendrick Motorsports : Jeff Gordon " Team preview Dale Earnhardt Jr . " Team preview Team Penske : Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano " Team preview Richard Childress Racing : Ryan Newman " Team preview Furniture Row Racing : Martin Truex Jr . " Team preview Note: Not all Chase teams provide a press release.
All four of team's cars place in top five in Quaker State 400 SPARTA, Ky. -- Winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is a proud accomplishment for any team in the league. But to take the checkered and land all four of a team's drivers in the top five is an even bigger success. It's a feat so impressive that it hadn't been done since Roush Fenway Racing in August 2008 at Michigan International Speedway. That is, until Joe Gibbs Racing rewrote record books Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway. JGR's four-car powerhouse was led by Saturday's Quaker State 400 race winner Kyle Busch , followed by teammates Denny Hamlin , Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth in third through fifth, respectively. "What a great night for Joe Gibbs Racing ," Kenseth said after the race. "I am really happy for all those guys and the organization, and I think we all learned a lot of stuff. You know, we were kind of off all night, but we kept fighting and had some great pit stops and good strategy and got a decent finish out of it." As Kenseth alluded to, the task wasn't an easy one for the team, as all four cars were dealt a heavy hand with the new rules package debut atop of the standard trickiness of Kentucky Speedway's uneven surface. Busch's win among the difficulties was another feather in the No. 18 team's hat, as the group has been battling the odds since the driver's return to full-time competition in May following his early-season injuries. "Obviously, the night went real well for us," Busch said in a post-race winner's press conference. "But in general, man, it was really, really good to get out there and race like that tonight and to run up front and put on a good show ... but most importantly I can't say enough about (crew chief) Adam Stevens, my team, everyone that did such a great job for me and gave me a great race car to go out there and perform like I did and just to be able to put it all together throughout 400 miles." For Edwards, the top-five finish was the defeat of a frustrating battle he had been fighting throughout the weekend. "I talked to Carl today on the phone for quite awhile, right before I flew over," team owner Joe Gibbs said. "And we were kind of ‑‑ and to be quite truthful, he was worried. He said, 'you know, I just didn't feel good with the package, I thought some of our other cars were better than me' and we had a long discussion on it." The newest member of the Joe Gibbs Racing clan, Edwards joined the organization at the beginning of the 2015 Sprint Cup season. While he won the Coca-Cola 600 in May at Charlotte, the No. 19 driver's performance this season has been mediocre the remainder of the year, only recording one other top 10 besides his win before Kentucky. "I got to tell you, I was, I had a big applaud when I saw that 19 come roaring up through there," Gibbs said of Edwards. "It was really a big deal." Edwards and the rest of his teammates seemed to have found something strong in the new rules package this weekend, an achievement that stumped other big-name teams such as Stewart-Haas Racing and Hendrick Motorsports . It's an aerodynamic change that awarded a plethora of control to the driver -- and exposed any flaws in driving ability. "We've been working on it," No. 20 crew chief Jason Ratcliff said after the race. "As soon as we knew it was coming, we know that if you put it back in the driver's hands, it's going to be good for JGR. We've got what I think is four of the best in the business and it showed tonight. So we've been working on it hard and it's just one of those weekends where it paid off for us." While raw talent has proven beneficial in the Sprint Cup Series, another crucial element is the ability to work with one another, despite the notion that stock car racing is often considered a solo sport. This weekend, the Joe Gibbs drivers seem to work as a cohesive unit, evident in each of their improvements throughout the weekend. "We have just been working very well together as a group," Edwards said. "Denny (Hamlin) was basically my counselor the other day after practice. I was so frustrated, I thought my car was terrible. I went straight over and talked to him and he helped me a little bit. "... It's a good group and it's cool to be a part of it. These guys, they really push me a lot. It's cool when your teammates are this fast. It's really neat for me." Hamlin agreed, adding, "Any time you have a driver of caliber of when Kyle (Busch) came in, Matt (Kenseth), and now Carl (Edwards), it just continues to push you to go faster. And push you to do your job better and that's what ‑‑ when you can feed off each other like that, that's typically how you get to an elite level." Saturday night's showdown in the Bluegrass State saw the JGR drivers rise to the occasion, battling to the front. And while the group works together melodiously off the track, the race even witnessed the teammates battling one another for the lead. It was a sight that showed the drivers' competitiveness, but probably also set owner Gibbs' nerves awry, according to Ratcliff. "I would say when they were three-wide, he was probably hiding his eyes," Ratcliff said with a chuckle. "I would be." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule