John Hunter Nemechek will split the 2015 NCWTS season with his father Joe Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- John Hunter Nemechek might not have years of experience propelling him into NASCAR's national ranks, but he may have something better -- the lessons handed down from his father, entering his 26th year competing in NASCAR's top divisions. But Joe Nemechek , 51, has shown he's not just a grandstand-watching dad with a vested interest in his 17-year-old son's budding career. He's still getting his fingers dirty under the hood and taking his turn in the driver's seat, making his father-son mentorship more hands-on than most. "He's the hardest worker that you'll find around, the hardest-working driver, I should say," the younger Nemechek said. "Luckily, he's passed that off to me and I've learned a great deal from him. If you want to do something, you've got to work hard at it and you can't give up. I think his drive and motivation to win races and make me successful before he retires is something that he really wants me to do." The elder Nemechek's independent spirit hasn't skipped a generation, as John Hunter Nemechek prepares for his third partial season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The father-son duo will split the schedule in 2015, with Joe Nemechek racing on the circuit's larger tracks until John Hunter turns 18 on June 11, at which point his NASCAR-mandated age restriction to tracks 1.25 miles or shorter will be lifted. That time frame would clear John Hunter Nemechek to get his first whirl at an intermediate track at 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway on July 9. "I definitely feel like I'm ready for it," he said. "I feel like getting to those bigger tracks is something I've wanted to do for a while. Last year, sitting on the sidelines when Dad was running the big tracks and I was running the short tracks was kind of frustrating, just because, 'OK, I know I can do this. When am I going to get the chance?' Definitely we're counting down the days." In the meantime, the younger Nemechek has methodically begun to add his name to a stellar group of second-generation speedsters such as Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney, both a few years older and with more experience on their side. John Hunter's 10-race slate on smaller tracks in the Camping World Truck Series last season yielded a career-best fifth place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and four other finishes of sixth and seventh, efforts he hopes are building blocks to more strides in 2015. Those first steps, plus an offseason victory in the prestigious Snowball Derby race for Late Model cars, have helped John Hunter exceed his father's expectations thus far -- sometimes surprisingly so. "You look at a lot of the kids that are sons of dads that raced, they've all grown up around the sport," Joe Nemechek said. "I think the biggest thing that helps them is just listening to all of us dads just talk about what our cars are doing and this and that, and they learn all that. The first time he was in the car, he's like, 'yeah, it's doing this, this and this,' and I looked at him like, 'how do you know that?' They've heard us talk, our body language and all that other stuff, and they just know." John Hunter Nemechek has certainly picked up on the mechanical know-how, helping his father in the shop by running parts, changing tires and becoming handy with a wrench around the family shop. But the influence has transcended the nuts-and-bolts side of things, as the teenager has also learned by example how to carry himself in the garage. For that, John Hunter Nemechek is grateful. "It means everything to me," the younger Nemechek said. "Without him, I wouldn't be here right now. He's put his time and effort and pretty much his life into making my career jump-start. I can't thank him enough for it." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
No. 29 car failed post-qualifying inspection, shuffling lineup RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Joe Nemechek 's qualifying time for the GEICO 500 (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN) was disallowed, NASCAR officials said after Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series . Nemechek's No. 29 car, which had qualified 24th, failed post-qualifying inspection for an improperly sealed oil tank encasement. Reed Sorenson , who was initially thought to have missed the race, was replaced in the field based on his qualifying speed. Sorenson posted a speed of 189.305 mph in the opening round of group qualifying. The driver of the No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet will line up 36th in Sunday's field. Sorenson has one top-10 finish at the 2.66-mile track, which came in 2007. By making the GEICO 500 grid, Sorenson has now been in the starting lineup for every race this year. Nemechek has made 15 Sprint Cup Series starts this year but has failed to make it into the field in both of his tries in the No. 29 Toyota. Nemechek joined Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier as the drivers who failed to make the 43-car field at Talladega. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
In 2004 “Front Row” Joe Nemechek swept the weekend at the Kansas Speedway with two close and thrilling victories.
Joe Nemechek spins and creates a close call for Trevor Bayne and Austin Dillon.
A stats-based look ahead to the fifth race of the 2015 Sprint Cup season Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California going into the Auto Club 400 on FOX at 3:30 p.m. ET on March 24. AUTO CLUB-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 Clean Harbors Ford) · One win, four top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 17.8 · Average Running Position of 13.5, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 93.7, eighth-best · 217 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 1,243 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.601 mph, seventh-fastest · 2,484 Laps in the Top 15 (67.3%), eighth-most · 676 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 10th-most Clint Bowyer (No. 15 BlueDEF Toyota) · Two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 12.9 · Average Running Position of 12.9, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 92.1, ninth-best · 74 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 1,211 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.347 mph, 11th-fastest · 1,918 Laps in the Top 15 (60.2%), 12th-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · One win, six top fives, 11 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 11.9 · Average Running Position of 14.6, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 90.6, 12th-best · 94 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 1,368 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.271 mph, 12th-fastest · 2,401 Laps in the Top 15 (65.1%), ninth-most · 762 Quality Passes, fourth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 Subway Toyota) · One win, eight top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 8.5 · Average Running Position of 12.5, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 97.8, fifth-best · 154 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.692 mph, fifth-fastest · 2,773 Laps in the Top 15 (75.1%), fourth-most · 754 Quality Passes, fifth-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet) · Three wins, 10 top fives, 11 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 11.8 · Average Running Position of 10.2, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 97.3, sixth-best · 252 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · 1,391 Green Flag Passes, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.729 mph, fourth-fastest · 2,756 Laps in the Top 15 (74.7%), sixth-most · Series-high 831 Quality Passes Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota) · One top five, four top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 19.0 · Average Running Position of 13.9, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 90.7, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.376 mph, 10th-fastest · 1,926 Laps in the Top 15 (64.6%), 11th-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/Budweiser Chevrolet) · One win, four top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 16.4 · Average Running Position of 12.5, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 94.7, seventh-best · 126 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 1,277 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.559 mph, eighth-fastest · 2,662 Laps in the Top 15 (72.1%), seventh-most · 742 Quality Passes, seventh-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet) · Five wins, 12 top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 6.7 · Series-best Average Running Position of 6.0 · Series-best Driver Rating of 120.1 · Series-high 504 Fastest Laps Run · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 172.393 mph · Series-high 3,432 Laps in the Top 15 (93.0%) · 767 Quality Passes, third-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet) · One win, four top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 16.0 · Driver Rating of 91.5, 10th-best · 109 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · 1,264 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · 2,315 Laps in the Top 15 (62.7%), 10th-most · 738 Quality Passes, eighth-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 DeWalt Toyota) · Three wins, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 9.8 · Average Running Position of 9.1, third-best · Driver Rating of 106.2, third-best · 137 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.784 mph, third-fastest · 3,066 Laps in the Top 15 (83.1%), second-most · 735 Quality Passes, ninth-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Chevrolet) · Two wins, seven top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 13.5 · Average Running Position of 10.5, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 100.7, fourth-best · 226 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.657 mph, sixth-fastest · 2,773 Laps in the Top 15 (75.1%), fourth-most · 752 Quality Passes, sixth-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Auto Club Speedway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 21 0 1 4 9 2 16.4 94.7 2 Joey Logano 8 0 0 2 2 0 18.4 78.1 3 Martin Truex Jr . 14 0 0 0 3 2 20.1 75.7 4 Kasey Kahne 18 1 1 4 10 3 16.0 91.5 5 AJ Allmendinger 10 0 0 0 1 1 19.1 71.5 6 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 22 0 0 5 6 5 19.5 78.1 7 Jimmie Johnson 20 1 5 12 14 0 6.7 120.1 8 Ryan Newman 20 1 0 4 8 3 17.4 81.4 9 Brad Keselowski 6 0 0 0 0 0 23.3 71.6 10 Matt Kenseth 22 1 3 9 15 0 9.8 106.2 11 Paul Menard 12 0 0 0 2 0 22.0 62.3 12 Casey Mears 18 0 0 0 2 1 22.3 65.8 13 Denny Hamlin 13 3 0 1 4 3 19.0 90.7 14 Aric Almirola 7 0 0 0 0 3 31.6 49.3 15 Clint Bowyer 14 0 0 2 7 1 12.9 92.1 16 Greg Biffle 20 0 1 4 7 3 17.8 93.7 * – Based on last 16 races at Auto Club Speedway (2005 – 2014). Auto Club Speedway Data Season Race #: 5 of 36 (03-22-15) Track Size : 2-miles Banking/Turns 1 & 2 : 14 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4 : 14 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 11 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 3 degrees Frontstretch Length : 3,100 feet Backstretch Length : 2,500 feet Race Length : 200 laps / 400 miles Top 10 Driver Rating at Auto Club Jimmie Johnson ........................ 119.6 Kyle Busch ............................... 109.2 Matt Kenseth ............................. 105.5 Tony Stewart ............................. 102.0 Carl Edwards .............................. 98.5 Jeff Gordon ................................ 96.2 Kevin Harvick .............................. 95.8 Greg Biffle .................................. 95.5 Clint Bowyer ............................... 92.9 Kasey Kahne .............................. 91.4 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (16 total) among active drivers at Auto Club Speedway Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Matt Kenseth , Toyota 187.315 mph, 38.438 secs. 03-25-14 2014 race winner : Kyle Busch , Toyota 132.987 mph, (3:05:53), 03-27-14 Track qualifying record: Kyle Busch , Chevrolet 188.245 mph, 38.248 secs. 02-25-05 Track race record: Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet, 155.012 mph (3:13:32); 6-22-97 Tony Stewart , Chevrolet, 160.166 mph, (1:36:39; rain shortened), 03-25-12 At Auto Club Speedway : History · Groundbreaking for California Speedway, as Auto Club Speedway was originally known, took place in November 1995. · The first race at Auto Club Speedway was a NASCAR K&N Pro Series, West race won by Ken Schrader on June 21, 1997. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on June 22, 1997 and won by Jeff Gordon . · September 2004 was the first night race at Auto Club Speedway and that also was the first year both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series ran two races in a season there. · The track name was changed to Auto Club Speedway (ACS) in February 2008. Notebook · There have been 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Auto Club Speedway , the track hosted one NSCS race a season from 1997-2003, then two races per season from 2004-2010. In 2011 Auto Club Speedway returned to a single race season. · 137 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club; 108 in more than one. · Jeff Gordon leads the series in starts at Auto Club Speedway with 25. · Joe Nemechek won the inaugural Coors Light pole (1997) with a speed of 183.015 mph (39.341 secs.). · 16 drivers have poles at Auto Club Speedway , led by Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch with three each. · Denny Hamlin (2011, 2012), Kurt Busch (2006 sweep) and Jamie McMurray (2010 sweep) are the three drivers to win consecutive poles at Auto Club Speedway . · Youngest ACS pole winner: Kyle Busch (2/27/2005 – 19 years, 9 months, 25 days). · Oldest ACS pole winner: Mike Skinner (4/30/2000 – 42 years, 10 months, 2 days). · 14 different drivers have won at ACS, led by Jimmie Johnson (five). Three other drivers have multiple wins at Auto Club Speedway : Jeff Gordon , Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth each have three wins, Tony Stewart has two. · Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Auto Club Speedway with nine, followed by Roush Fenway Racing with seven and Stewart Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing each have two. · California-native Jimmie Johnson became the first and only driver to win from the pole at Auto Club Speedway in 2008. · Only two ACS races have been won from the front row both by six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson , fall of 2008 (pole); and the fall of 2007 (second-place). · Nine of the 25 (36%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Auto Club Speedway have been won from a top-five starting position. · 13 of the 25 (52%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Auto Club Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Seven of the 24 (28%) races have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 31st, by Matt Kenseth in the spring of 2006. · The most proficient starting position at ACS is pretty random. Three starting positions (third, ninth and 24 th ) have produced three winners each. · Youngest ACS winner: Kyle Busch (09/04/2005 – 20 years, 4 months, 2 days). · Oldest ACS winner: Rusty Wallace (04/29/2001 – 44 years, 8 months, 15 days). · Jimmie Johnson leads the series in runner-up finishes at Auto Club Speedway with five; followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon with four. · Jimmie Johnson leads the series in top-five finishes at Auto Club Speedway with 12; followed by Jeff Gordon (10), Matt Kenseth (nine), Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch (eight each). · Matt Kenseth leads the series in top-10 finishes with 15; followed by Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards (14 each) and Tony Stewart (13). · Jimmie Johnson leads the series in average finish at ACS with a 6.650. · Jimmie Johnson (6.6) , Carl Edwards (8.5) and Matt Kenseth (9.8) are the only three active drivers with an average finish in the top 10 at Auto Club Speedway . · There have been three green-white-checkered finishes at Auto Club Speedway : 2005 (250/254), 2006 (250/251) and 2014 (200/206). · Three active drivers have posted their first NSCS Coors Light pole at Auto Club Speedway : Carl Edwards (9/4/2005) and Joe Nemechek (6/22/1997). Kyle Busch won his first pole (2/27/05) and first series win (9/4/05) at ACS in 2005. · Greg Biffle (4/28/02) and J.J. Yeley (9/5/04) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Auto Club Speedway . · Jimmie Johnson posted his first series career win at Auto Club Speedway on April 28, 2002. · Jimmie Johnson (fall of 2009 – spring of 2010) and Kyle Busch (2013, 2014) are the only drivers to win consecutive races at Auto Club Speedway . · 12 of the 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Auto Club Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Jeff Gordon (1997 – inaugural event) and Jimmie Johnson (2002) are the only drivers to win at ACS in their first appearance. · Tony Stewart competed at Auto Club Speedway 18 times before winning in the fall of 2010; the longest span of any the 14 winners. Only Stewart (18) and Kevin Harvick (17) have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Auto Club Speedway . · Dale Earnhardt Jr . leads all active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Auto Club Speedway without visiting Victory Lane at 22. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Auto Club Speedway was the (3/27/2011) race won by Kevin Harvick with a MOV of 0.144 second over Jimmie Johnson . · Three reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions have gone on to win at Auto Club Speedway the following season: Tony Stewart (2012), Jeff Gordon (1999) and Jimmie Johnson - the only one to do it multiple times (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010). · Two drivers have won at Auto Club Speedway and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in the same season: Jeff Gordon (1997) and Jimmie Johnson (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010). · Two female drivers have competed at Auto Club Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Shawna Robinson and Danica Patrick . ** Note: Robinson first attempted to qualify for the race at ACS on 4/29/2001 but failed to make the event. Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Shawna Robinson 43 42 4/28/2002 Danica Patrick 40 26 3/24/2013 Danica Patrick 27 14 3/23/2014 · Only three car numbers have produced three or more Auto Club Speedway NSCS wins: Car Number – Drivers – (Years) o No. 48 – Jimmie Johnson (2002, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010) o No. 17 – Matt Kenseth (2006, 2007 and 2009) o No . 24 – Jeff Gordon (1997, 1999 and 2004) NASCAR in California · There have been 137 NASCAR Sprint Cup races among 15 different tracks in California. · Auto Club Speedway has hosted the second most NSCS events among active California tracks. Track Name City NSCS Riverside International Raceway Riverside 48 Sonoma Raceway Sonoma 26 Auto Club Speedway Fontana
Bruce: From starting spot to pit selection, qualifying run sets up race day Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Never underestimate the importance of qualifying. While it carries with it no guarantee of a solid finish on race day, the position earned in qualifying impacts a great deal more than where a driver will start the race. This comes to mind in light of qualifying for the first two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season. At Daytona, teams were irate after a crash collected several cars during the first of three rounds of group qualifying on the 2.5-mile track. Last week, problems off the track created a furor -- delays in the inspection line resulted in 13 cars failing to make it to the grid in time to post an official qualifying lap. No big deal, right? Jimmie Johnson , one of the 13, wound up winning the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in spite of his 37th-place starting position. Matt Kenseth , positioned 36th in the lineup, also failed to make it to pit road before the first round of qualifying ended. He finished fifth. It was a big deal to those who did manage to make it through the inspection process in time, and it was likely a bigger deal to those who didn't. Why not do away with it? Why not determine the lineup based on a blind draw or some other means that favors no one? Because qualifying still matters. Regardless of issues that surfaced at Daytona and Atlanta, qualifying continues to play an important role in what takes place on race day. The advantages of winning a pole or qualifying well don't end when qualifying has been completed. Actually, they've just begun. For starters, the order for pit selection is determined based on qualifying results, with the fastest teams getting first choice of available pit stalls. That's why the pole-winning team usually claims the No. 1 stall, located closest to the exit off pit road. With no cars pitting in front, it's a quick easy drive out of the box and onto the track. Others near the front of the lineup quickly fill in those stalls located closest to openings in the pit wall (and provide access to and from the garage). Those stalls provide a clear entry or exit, depending on location, and are also highly sought after. The positioning of timing lines on pit road, used to determine speed, are also a factor when it comes to picking a pit stall. Pit road speeds are based on the amount of time that elapses as a car travels past two timing lines, or segments. A driver with a pit stall located just before one of the lines will typically speed up after passing the first line in the segment in which the team's pit stall is located. Because he or she is pitting before crossing the next line, the overall time is not in excess of that which is allowed. How, then, was Johnson and the team able to overcome his poor pit stall location in Atlanta? Early in the race, Johnson often lost positions on pit road even though his No. 48 team had no problems when servicing the car. It wasn't until the second half of the race that where the team was pitted became less of an issue. Chad Knaus, Johnson's crew chief, said the early problems were "a direct result of us not being able to qualify." "Believe it or not, there are only a handful of pit boxes (available) ... we had to shoehorn in where we could," he said. Johnson was pitted near the center of pit road; Carl Edwards had the spot behind him while Joe Nemechek was pitted in the box directly in front. With 43 cars in the field, Johnson wasn't the only one hemmed in, but it was one more thing the team had to deal with as its driver sought to make up ground throughout the course of the race. "The 19 (of Edwards) ... qualified well, ran well; we always had to come in behind them," Knaus said. "The 34 (of Nemechek ) ... for the first half of the race was doing a good job of maintaining on the lead lap. We were shoehorned in the middle (during our stops)." That slowed Johnson's entry into his pit box as well as his exit once the stop had been completed. Knaus said his driver often lost "six to eight spots" when on pit road in the first half of the race. It wasn't until Johnson was running ahead of Edwards on the track that he was assured of a clean entry into his pit stall. At about the same time Nemechek went a lap down, meaning he was no longer allowed to pit with lead-lap cars. "Once that all happened," Knaus said, "the guys were able to knock out some super pit stops." While issues such as an engine change or a missed drivers' meeting will result in a driver having to drop to the rear of the field before the race starts, pit selection has already occurred and isn't affected. Drivers starting inside the top five won 15 of last year's 36 points races, and 26 were won from a top-10 starting spot. Fast in qualifying doesn't always mean fast over the long run, but combined with other factors, it certainly doesn't hurt. A better pit stall is a plus. It's not a guarantee. And it all starts with qualifying. "It's a direct result of what happens on Friday," Knaus said. "That's why I've said time and time again, your race starts on Friday. "How you qualify sets you up for the event, for your pit selection, (and) sets you up mentally. It does the whole thing." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Recently turned 17-year-old leads first career laps in Truck Series
Young driver has four top-10 finishes in six series starts this season
Joe Nemechek taking over at Atlanta while Ragan subs for Kyle Busch
Get a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live 1. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Finding his way to clear air on the race's final restart, Johnson got all the encouragement he needed over the team's in-car radio: "Leg it, baby. Leg it." The six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion did, pulling away to his fourth victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the 71st of his career in NASCAR's top series. Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio. " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 2. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. The defending Sprint Cup champion had to carve his way from the back of the field after suffering engine failure during Saturday practice, but was perched atop the leaderboard by the 87th lap in the 325-lap distance. Harvick wound up leading a race-high 116 laps in recording his second runner-up finish in two races thus far in 2015. " WATCH: Johnson holds off Harvick for the win 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Junior has opened the season by going 2-for-2 in posting third-place finishes despite sustaining front-end damage Sunday when he ran into a piece of debris in the late going. Though he consistently was near the front of the pack, Earnhardt led just one lap all afternoon. " WATCH: Dale Jr.: Crew chief Ives is 'a pretty good cheerleader' 4. Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. The Daytona 500 champ continued his hot streak by winning the Coors Light Pole Award on Friday. Though he lacked the power to mount a challenge over the final green-flag run, Logano will enter next Sunday's Kobalt 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the Sprint Cup points leader. " WATCH: Out Front with Miss Coors Light 5. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. The JGR driver -- who led 10 laps Sunday and lined up second for the final restart -- watched his losing skid stretch to 46 races (dating back to 2013) after a slight fade just before the checkered flag. 6. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing. The modest rejuvenation continues for Truex and the Colorado-based team owned by Barney Visser. The Furniture Row bunch registered just five top-10 finishes in all 36 races last year; two races into 2015, Truex and Co. already have a pair of single-digit results. " MORE: Truex looks to put 2014 woes behind him 7. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG-Daugherty Racing. A strong finish on an intermediate track helped lift the spirits of the single-car organization, which qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs for the first time last year. After just two races, Allmendinger is slotted in a tie for eighth in the series standings. " MORE: Chase Grid after two races 8. Brett Moffitt, No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. The former NASCAR Next driver needed to receive the free pass two times to do it, but Moffitt closed the deal on the lead lap on a day of firsts for his career-best finish in just his eighth Sprint Cup start. Brian Vickers is scheduled to return to MWR's No. 55 ride next weekend at Las Vegas. 9. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. The 2012 champion had hopes for a top-five finish, but his aspirations were also tempered with temporary resignation over what he thought could have been a subpar 15th-place result. "We were just kind of up and down and floating all day long," Keselowski said after settling for somewhere in the middle of his expectations in ninth place. 10. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman appeared sunk after absorbing significant damage in a four-car crash on Lap 257, but hard work from his RCR crew in making repairs buoyed Newman to a surprising top-10. 11. Aric Almirola, No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. After opening up 2014 with patchwork finishes of 39th, 15th, 25th, third and 43rd, Almirola has some consistency to crow about this season. "That's a big head start from last year!" Almirola tweeted after his second straight top-15 finish pushed him into a tie for eighth in Sprint Cup points. " MORE: Follow drivers on Social Drive 12. Carl Edwards, No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards was the beneficiary of the race's next-to-last yellow flag, helping him recover from a seemingly disastrous flat tire in the 274th lap for a lead-lap finish. 13. Paul Menard, No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. The Wisconsin native couldn't shake the unluckiest of numbers, starting and finishing 13th as the final driver on the lead lap. 14. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The track that produced Kahne's last-ditch clincher into the Chase field last September wasn't so kind this time around. A pit-road penalty for a rolling-tire infraction in the 293rd lap forced the Hendrick Motorsports driver to make a pass-through on pit lane during green-flag conditions. 15. Casey Mears, No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Sunday's top-15 finish wasn't quite the windfall the Germain team received from Mears' sixth-place run in the Daytona 500, but the solid day kept its driver in the same position in Sprint Cup points -- sixth. 16. Danica Patrick, No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Atlanta provided the backdrop for Patrick's career-best Sprint Cup finish of sixth place last season. While 16th place marked a slip in performance, the effort -- coupled with 21st place the previous week at Daytona -- launched Patrick into the final spot on the provisional Chase grid. 17. Regan Smith, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Smith's second start as a substitute for suspended Kurt Busch had nearly the same result as the first, just one spot lower than his 16th place in the Daytona 500. The degree of difficulty may have been greater at Atlanta, though, after Smith's No. 41 was crumpled in a multicar fracas 20 laps from the end. " WATCH: Big wreck brings out the red flag 18. David Ragan, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Ragan pushed the No. 18 car up into the top five in the early stages of his first start as a fill-in for injured Kyle Busch, but said he was "a little timid" in making needed adjustments as the 500-miler went on. "I felt like we had a good, solid top-10 car and things just didn't shake out," Ragan said. 19. Trevor Bayne, No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Bayne was at the head of the Roush Fenway class at Atlanta, but frustrated in finishing two laps down. The midpack result left him hoping to see the team's determination rewarded soon. "I see a lot of people trying to work together and that's where it starts," Bayne said. "We obviously haven't seen any results as far as speed is concerned." 20. Justin Allgaier, No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Allgaier made the most of his survival instinct after two instances of evasive action in the race's late stages. The second-year driver brushed the wall avoiding the Lap 257 pile-up that snared four cars, then dipped to the apron to dodge the Lap 305 snarl that grabbed seven more competitors. 21. Sam Hornish Jr., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Inopportune timing put Hornish in the path of debris from Austin Dillon's blown tire in the 60th lap. Damage to the front end jolted the grille and left the RPM No. 9 crew fighting an uphill battle for most of the race; his own flat tire and a later brush with the wall only compounded the trouble. 22. David Gilliland, No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Gilliland pressed on after a bump from behind in the four-car crash on the 257th lap. He also stayed on the track during the race's fourth yellow flag to lead a lap for the first time at Atlanta since March 2010. 23. Alex Bowman, No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. After failing to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500, Bowman opened his season at Atlanta as one of the biggest movers in a race filled with them. The second-year Sprint Cup driver gained 19 spots from his starting position. 24. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. Bowyer gained track position by staying on the track late in the race, but his day went from sour to downright acidic in a hurry. An engine issue developed with around 35 laps left, just before the race's final crash engulfed him with 20 to go. 25. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. The Biff fought an ill-handling car most of the day, but lost the most ground when he overcooked his entry into Turn 3 on the race's next-to-last restart, igniting the race's biggest crash. 26. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. The site of an eighth-place finish last season held much higher promise for 2014's Sunoco Rookie of the Year, but sustaining plenty of contact in the race's biggest crash near the finish prompted Larson to tweet afterward: "Such a frustrating race. Top 5 car but had no luck." " MORE: Follow drivers on Social Drive 27. Michael McDowell, No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing. The small, family-owned team found some solace in McDowell's best result in five career starts at Atlanta, marking the first time he was running at the finish at the 1.54-mile venue. 28. Brendan Gaughan, No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. The Jay Robinson-owned start-up team recovered after failing to qualify for the Daytona 500 with Brian Scott. It marked the occasion of Gaughan's first Sprint Cup start since August 2013. 29. Michael Annett, No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport Racing. Annett and Co. struck an 11th-hour deal to jump in the Joe Falk-owned ride after his regular HScott Motorsports No. 46 ride missed out on Coors Light Pole Qualifying. The last-minute move kept his goal of a complete Sprint Cup season alive. 30. Tony Stewart, No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart was one of several drivers who started near the back of the pack after issues clearing Friday's pre-qualifying inspection. Smoke grappled with handling woes for much of the race, but matters got worse with involvement in the event's final multicar crash. 31. Mike Bliss, No. 32 Ford, GoFAS Racing. The 49-year-old veteran stayed on the track during a pair of early caution periods to pace two laps, marking his first lap led in the Sprint Cup Series since March 4, 2012 (Phoenix). It also was the first time since August 27, 2005 (Bristol) that Bliss has led multiple laps in a Sprint Cup race. 32. Josh Wise, No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Wise was among the first bitten by the new pit road officiating system, incurring a Lap 28 penalty for crew members coming over the wall too soon. Though seven laps down, Wise managed his best finish in three career starts at Atlanta. 33. Joe Nemechek , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. The man with the Front Row nickname made his first appearance in Front Row Motorsports equipment, but contact from Greg Biffle's spin left his car and hopes dented for his first Sprint Cup event of the year. 34. JJ Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Slight damage from debris early in the race slowed Yeley, who managed to improve upon the 40th-place result from the season-opening Daytona 500. 35. Jeb Burton, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing. As the only rookie in the 43-car field, Burton made his Sprint Cup debut, forging on after a mid-race scrape with the wall. 36. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse played the role of pinball in the race's biggest crash; though several cars were involved, the No. 17 was the only one unable to continue. 37. Cole Whitt, No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. An engine that would've made a 400-mile distance couldn't quite withstand the full 500, first dropping a cylinder before expiring altogether, dumping fluid on the track and causing the race's next-to-last caution period. 38. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin led twice for 14 laps, but found himself sideways in the middle of the track when he lost control on a late-race restart. Three more cars piled in, prompting Hamlin to offer sympathies: "I apologize to all those cars involved, but it's tough." " WATCH: Hamlin spins and collects several drivers 39. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. A pair of rear tire troubles in rapid succession, both of which sprayed debris on the 1.54-mile track, derailed Dillon's day. The second instance, with the car already laboring from earlier damage, sent the RCR No. 3 off into the muddy infield and later behind the wall for extensive repairs. " WATCH: Dillon spins after cutting a tire 40. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. After starting third, Jamie Mac didn't have visions of finishing in the bottom five Sunday at Atlanta. The tangle that also thwarted three others when Denny Hamlin lost control took him by surprise: "I didn't see any of that coming," McMurray said. "That was kind of out of the blue." 41. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The four-time champion drew a Lap 24 tribute from the track with his car number blanketing the main scoring pylon early on, but enduring a crash for the second straight week has his final full Sprint Cup season off to a ragged start. Finishes of 33rd at Daytona and 41st at Atlanta have relegated Gordon to a tie for 35th place in the points standings. " WATCH: Big wreck brings out red flag 42. Ron Hornaday Jr., No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. After failing to qualify for the Daytona 500, the four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion made his first Sprint Cup start since 2003 on Sunday. The Curtis Key-owned start-up team parked just past the halfway point at Atlanta with a rear gearing malfunction. 43. Landon Cassill, No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Starting last, Cassill seemingly had nowhere to go but up at Atlanta. Instead, the 25-year-old driver stayed level as the race's first retiree for the second straight week, posting consecutive 43rd-place finishes after two engine failures to start the season. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule