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Kyle Larson leaps to top of practice board late at Dover
RELATED: Full practice results " Top 10 consecutive lap averages Kyle Larson topped the speed charts in Friday's only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Dover International Speedway with a speed of 165.578 mph in his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet. Right behind him was Carl Edwards in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at 165.122 mph. Rounding out the top five were Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 JGR Toyota, Ryan Newman in the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet and Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Sprint Cup Series Chase points leader Brad Keselowski was 19th fastest with a speed of 162.177 mph in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford. The lowest Chase driver was Chris Buescher in 31st place with a speed of 160.100 mph in the Front Row Motorsports Ford. The start of the practice session was delayed 15 minutes in order to finish drying the 1-mile track after rain moved through the area earlier. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Penalties hamper Nemechek, NEMCO team in Chase
NASCAR issued penalties Thursday to the No. 8 NEMCO Motorsports team and Camping World Truck Series driver John Hunter Nemechek for P2 infractions found last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Nemechek's No. 8 Chevrolet failed to meet the minimum ride height during an inspection after last Saturday's UNOH 175 , the opening race of the Camping World Truck Series Chase playoffs. Competition officials docked the team 10 championship points in both the owners' and drivers' standings. The penalty dropped Nemechek, who rallied from an early spin to finish ninth last weekend, from fourth to seventh on the Chase Grid with two races remaining before cuts are made to the championship-eligible field. NASCAR officials also fined crew chief Gere Kennon $6,000 and NASCAR probation for the crew chief continues through Dec. 31, 2016. It's the second such violation this season for the NEMCO team, which also failed the ride-height minimum at Iowa Speedway in June for a P2-grade infraction. NASCAR abandoned ride-height rules for its Sprint Cup Series ahead of the 2014 season. Those restrictions remain in effect for its other two national series. This week's penalty report for the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series was marked by written warnings and lesser violations. From the Sprint Cup Series race weekend in New Hampshire, the following teams were cited: -- The No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing team of driver Regan Smith received written warnings for failing pre-race LIS twice and pre-qualifying LIS twice. -- The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team of driver Kevin Harvick , No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team of driver Kasey Kahne , No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing team of driver Greg Biffle and No. 83 BK Racing team of driver Matt DiBenedetto all received written warnings for failing pre-qualifying LIS twice. -- The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team for driver Denny Hamlin received a written warning for failing pre-qualifying template inspection twice. The pre-qualifying LIS failures of Nos. 4, 5, 7 and 16 teams were each their third infractions, meaning the next such infraction will see those teams penalized with the last selection of a pit stall on the weekend that violation occurs. Of those cars, only the 4 of Harvick is in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Warnings from the XFINITY Series' event at Kentucky Speedway : -- The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team and No. 51 Jeremy Clements Racing team of driver Jeremy Clements received written warnings for failing pre-race LIS twice. Warnings from the Camping World Truck Series' event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway : -- The No. 50 MAKE Motorsports team of driver Travis Kvapil received a written warning for failing pre-race template inspection four times and also a loss of 15 minutes of practice time this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway .
Busch family, No. 18 team visit the White House
As part of his Sprint Cup championship duties, Kyle Busch had one more thing left on his to-do list: visit the White House. So that's exactly what he did on Wednesday with the entire No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team and wife, Samantha. And no, Brexton wasn't in attendance, but President Obama gave him a nice, little shout-out. Follow along on the crew's trip to Washington, D.C. Thank you @POTUS for having the @mmschocolate team visit the @WhiteHouse today. pic.twitter.com/2Np9tGTSF1 — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) September 28, 2016 Snapchatting my way thru the White House if u wanna follow along! Samantha.Busch — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) September 28, 2016 The No.18 crew is on the ground in DC! Next stop: The @WhiteHouse . #NASCAR #CHAMP18NS pic.twitter.com/32HzSof8ob — Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) September 28, 2016 We're at the @WhiteHouse with @KyleBusch @samanthabusch and the No.18 team! #NASCAR #CHAMP18N pic.twitter.com/k6zaRI6GWL — Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) September 28, 2016 Tune in at 11am ET as @POTUS honors @NASCAR champion @KyleBusch : https://t.co/rOls3Sio1L — The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 28, 2016 . RT @SaraBarnes8 : @SamanthaBusch what does one wear to the White House? pic.twitter.com/Y2JHJGMIaP — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) September 28, 2016 . @POTUS welcomes @KyleBusch , @SamanthaBusch and the @JoeGibbsRacing family to the @WhiteHouse ! pic.twitter.com/O0kqbP848C — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 28, 2016 "Tell Brexton I said hello." - @POTUS https://t.co/ptDTddyaES — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 28, 2016 Crispy lid! @KyleBusch gives @POTUS one of his helmets as a gift at today's visit to the @WhiteHouse . pic.twitter.com/NnUu6nEQyV — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 28, 2016 . @POTUS honors @NASCAR champion @KyleBusch and the whole Number 18 team: https://t.co/MRvt4wLGCe — The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 28, 2016
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.
Kentucky's revamp, asymmetry provide racing unknowns
SPARTA, Ky. -- Considering its brief term as a host to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, Kentucky Speedway is still making modest gains at establishing a sense of heritage. Before last season, the 1.5-mile track's most momentous occasion was the crowd-choking traffic jam that snarled a large swath of nearby Interstate 71 for its premier-series debut in 2011. That changed last year, with Kentucky's most competitive race -- a 400-mile festival of passing that signaled a major shift in the sport's approach to aerodynamics. This year, the Bluegrass State track aims to enrich that sense of tradition in Saturday's Quaker State 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM) with a new chapter in its story -- a repaved surface that seems to have retained the venue's character, a reconfigured layout with mismatched banking at its opposite ends, and another big swing at aerodynamic nuances that likely will shape the 2017 rules package. "This is the big unknown with the new surface, the tire, the package -- all that stuff," said Carl Edwards , echoing words that his crew chief, Dave Rogers, shared with him before the race weekend. "And that's the kind of racing that's fun to go do. We don't know what to expect." RELATED: Ty's team gives his tires an ice bath NASCAR competition officials tinkered with aero setups at four tracks last season, deploying a reduced-downforce package first at Kentucky then Darlington, and then trying an ill-fated high-drag package at Michigan and Indianapolis. The Kentucky rollout delivered on its raised expectations, producing a track-record 22 green-flag passes for the lead and a total of 2,665 green-flag passes overall. The array of side-by-side racing served not only as a launching pad for further aero changes this season, but as the fulcrum for a closer working relationship between the series' drivers and its officials. "I would say this race a year ago was a huge landmark for our sport that maybe goes a little bit unnoticed, in terms of we had a collaborative effort for a rules package and we saw a significant increase, in my opinion, of the on-track product that we saw," said Brad Keselowski , a two-time Kentucky winner and last weekend's victor at Daytona International Speedway. "And I think that showcased a lot of hope for our abilities to work together as a sport that has kind of created a wave of momentum that we're carrying today." Edwards finished fourth at Kentucky last season as Joe Gibbs Racing placed its four cars among the top five. But instead of feeling dejection for a Victory Lane near-miss, Edwards was among a chorus of drivers finishing behind race winner Kyle Busch who reveled in the racing produced by downforce reduction. "I think it was a really big deal," Edwards said. "If you go back and watch the race, just watch the interviews, you know everyone's demeanor. Even guys that weren't in it for the win, everybody got out and said, 'Man, that was fun.' NASCAR did a really great job responding to that, implementing a lot of that stuff for this season. After some of these races, it's got a whole different feel to it. It really has been a good time. There's been some great races." The series makes its Kentucky return with even further restrictions on the effects of downforce and sideforce. Foremost among the changes is a smaller rear spoiler -- a 2.5-inch tall version that was also used at Michigan -- and the elimination of rear-axle offset or "skew" for a more neutral setup. That configuration -- the likely forerunner to the 2017 package -- was tested here June 13-14, immediately after it was used for the series' first Michigan stop of the season. The only change from then to now was a different right-side tire, designed to better adapt to the fresh surface. And what a surface it is. The track's trademark teeth-rattling bumps have been smoothed in certain places, but retained in others -- something drivers commonly refer to as "character." But in repaving, track officials traded one character trait for another by going asymmetrical with its banking -- Turns 1 and 2 were increased from 14 to 17 degrees with a narrowing of the racing groove; Turns 3 and 4 remain at their original 14 degrees. "I think anytime you have a track like that it lends itself to compromises with race car drivers, techniques and car setups, and all those things that tend to open up the box to allow for better racing because whenever there are those (banking) discrepancies, I think that’s when you see mistakes and when you see strengths and weaknesses that vary from car to car and driver to driver," said Keselowski, who plans double duty in Sprint Cup and the NASCAR XFINITY Series to become more familiar with the new layout. "I think that's a really good thing for our sport, so I'm interested to see how that is gonna play out this weekend."
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."
Bruce: XFINITY Chase intensity ratchets up aggression
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid SPARTA, Ky. -- Was Saturday night's opening Chase race for NASCAR’s XFINITY Series an example of good, hard racing or a case of folks driving over their heads? That depends on who one asked afterward. Race winner Elliott Sadler wasn’t pointing fingers, and race winners have rarely been heard to utter a discouraging word. But the JR Motorsports driver said he did notice an uptick in intensity during the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway . "About halfway through the race, it was 'note to self; you can tell it's the Chase because it was caution after caution after caution," Sadler said afterward. "People were tense, eager, frustrated, nervous. A lot of different things going on with drivers right now ... trying to make it to the second (round). "I think people are giving each other less room. Restarts are crazy in the back." They were crazy up front, too. The race, which kicked off a seven-race, two-round elimination playoff for the series, saw the caution flag fly a track record 12 times. More than one-fourth of the race (64 laps) was run under the yellow. Yes, there was even a brief (5 min., 34 sec.) red-flag period. Erik Jones , the top seed and regular-season leader in race wins, got crossed up while racing with Ty Dillon and both the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota and the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet ended up in the wall. RELATED: See the wreck the caught two title contenders Each is now outside eighth place in points with two races to try and improve their standing; only the top eight (with the exception of a Chase race winner that might be 9th-12th ) advance to the second round. Not surprisingly, Jones wasn't particularly pleased with the early ending to his night and said later that the aggressive driving does cause one to approach the race differently. "Yeah, it makes me try to stay out of trouble," he said. "I didn't want to have something like that happen. ... You try to play defense some. I was for sure." Of course, there was the matter of a reconfigured track that sports new asphalt and distinctly different turns. That, too, played a role in the difficulties for some. And that was to be expected, said Brendan Gaughan , driver of the No. 62 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing . "It didn't seem like it was any more aggressive than normal," Gaughan said after finishing sixth. "It's a very narrow race track here right now. That Turn 3 is treacherous, man. There's no grip on the entry, there's no width on the entry. It's a treacherous, treacherous place at the moment. ... "It's still Kentucky. I love it." The fight to advance into the next round began early, but it's not the only battle going on and Saturday night's race brought some of that to light. In addition to the driver's championship, there's an owners title at stake and a couple of teams didn’t forget about that. At the end of the regular season, the No. 2 team of RCR was atop the owners' standings, followed by the No. 18 of Joe Gibbs Racing , the No. 1 of JRM with Sadler behind the wheel, and the No. 22 of Team Penske . Chevy, Toyota, Chevy and Ford. You think those folks aren't paying close attention? RCR brought in Sam Hornish Jr . to keep the No. 2 team in the hunt; Penske handed the reins to Sprint Cup driver Ryan Blaney . Sadler got the win, but a solid fifth-place run by Matt Tifft put the JGR No. 18 atop the owners' standings. JRM (No. 1) now sits second thanks to the victory while Hornish, who finished fourth, kept the RCR entry in the mix -- it's now third. Blaney did not fare badly but the way it all shook out left him third on the track and the team now fifth in the owners' battle. Dover, a fast, unforgiving mile of concrete, is up next. Some folks will be looking to rebound, some looking to continue to ride a hot start. If Kentucky was any indication, they better hope they can just hang on.
Bruce: Don't see drama? You're not looking hard enough
Editor's note: The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author. DOVER, Del. -- Where's the drama? If you mean the pushing and shoving, the name-calling, the on-track paybacks, then no, the start of this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has seemed tame by those standards. If you mean three- and four-wide battles for position from the drop of the green flag right up until the checkered flag, then no, that's not been the case either. (But seriously, how often does that happen?) But drama? It's still there. Maybe not to the scale some folks have come to expect, but it's been there nonetheless. Chase teams continue to battle in an effort to advance to the second round. Those outside the Chase haven't stopped trying to get back into Victory Lane. Both groups face issues every week. Some overcome. Some do not. In a series where every point matters, every lap does, too. Every decision on the track has consequences while the potential for disaster rides along with every trip to pit road. No altercations? No major disputes? That doesn't mean teams are mailing it in. The teams that are struggling continue to try to get better. The teams that run up front on a more regular basis aren't exactly resting on their laurels. Recall how strong the Joe Gibbs Racing teams were during the regular season? Those teams haven't been bad in the Chase by any means, but it certainly has been no cakewalk. And you can bet they are trying to regain any advantage they enjoyed earlier this year. "It's so hard to make everybody happy," Jimmie Johnson said Friday at Dover International Speedway . That some feel the action hasn't lived up to expectations doesn't sit well with the six-time series champion and driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports . "It actually frustrates me to hear that," he said. Johnson opened this year's Chase with what would on the surface appear to be two very humdrum finishes of 12th at Chicago and eighth last weekend at New Hampshire. Far from it, according to Johnson, who called the opening race of the 10-race playoff "about as exciting as any Chicago (race) I've ever had." For the first time all season, he led more than 100 laps. He was in contention for the win, battling with teammate Chase Elliott in the latter stages of the race. But a mistake on pit road led to a speeding penalty during a late round of green-flag pit stops. And any chance at victory went out the window. Maybe that isn't spellbinding for some, but for Johnson and a host of others, the start of this year's Chase has been intense. Fellow driver Jamie McMurray compared the action in the first two races to "trying to have a good finish in every single race." "You're not going to have that, and that's what makes the exciting finishes so great," McMurray said, and that's about as spot-on as you're going to get. "I guess it's circumstantial. Normally (for) the restarts at (New Hampshire), somebody always gets tangled up, and the fact that it's one of the first Chase races there is usually some drama there. We just didn't have that this year." Dover, site of Sunday's Citizen Soldier 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) is "one of those places where we could have that and we could shake it up a little bit," he said. Two races into this year's Chase and no one's car has gone flying through the air or burst into flames. No driver has rushed up pit road after the race to accost another competitor or used his car to exact a bit of vengeance out on the race track. Maybe that's become the expectation. But while bemoaning the lack of those things, folks are missing some pretty good competition out on the track, too. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
XFINITY race winners carrying extra Chase confidence
RELATED: See the XFINITY Chase Grid " Every '16 winner " Get to know the field CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Of the 12 drivers that make up this year's NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase field, only three won races during the "regular" season, so the fact that the three appeared to be feeling pretty good about their chances Tuesday during media day activities at the NASCAR Hall of Fame came as no surprise. Erik Jones , 20, won more races than anyone not named Kyle Busch , four to be exact, and most folks here seemed to agree, some more grudgingly than others, that the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 team is the one to beat. Veteran Elliott Sadler won twice, and the Emporia, Virginia native has been around the track a few times. His career, in fact, was already underway when the Jones family welcomed young Erik into the world. Sadler's wins in the No. 1 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports came this year at Talladega and Darlington and Sadler is the only guy in the field who can say he was in the inaugural Chase for both the premier series and the XFINITY Series. Daniel Suarez , Jones' teammate, earned his first series victory at Michigan. He enters the seven-race playoff, which begins with this weekend’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), with three top-five finishes in his last four starts. The other result was a top-10 so Suarez and the No. 19 team appear to be on top of their game as well. No one is conceding anything just yet however. Not the Richard Childress Racing trio of Ty Dillon , Brendan Gaughan or Brandon Jones ; Sadler’s JRM teammate Justin Allgaier or Roush Fenway Racing ’s Darrell Wallace Jr . and Ryan Reed . Even single-team entrants Brennan Poole ( Chip Ganassi Racing ), Ryan Sieg (RSS Racing ), and Blake Koch (Kaulig Racing ) spoke of the potential for advancing from one round to the next and keeping title hopes alive. "I don't know if that's good or bad," a grinning Sadler said of his dual Chase experience. "I do remember being part of the first ever (Sprint) Cup Chase and now this one. It's pretty cool." The benefits of that 2004 experience are limited, but useful nonetheless. "It's not like I'm a seasoned quarterback that can read the defense better than a rookie quarterback," Sadler said. "I think that's when experience plays a part. Now it's just about which teams can get their cars the fastest, what driver can give the best information and not make mistakes on the track. Everybody that's part of this Chase can do just as good of a job as anybody else, no matter their age or where they are from or how many years they've raced. I don't think that's a big part of it. "The only thing I think I know is the difference in the intensity level; that's the biggest thing I remember about being a part of the ( Sprint Cup ) Chase. The next week it was like 'holy cow, it's flipped the switch.' Not only racing other guys but your team, what they are going through, the driver, the communication. It's like everything is set to fast forward … and you have to understand how to communicate at such a different level." Jones is coming off a 2015 season that saw the Byron, Michigan native win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title, and he’s headed for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in ’17 as a teammate with Martin Truex Jr . at Furniture Row Racing . Six times this season, he and Suarez have finished a race with both cars in the top five. In 13 other races, at least one of the two have finished fifth or higher. The teammate tag doesn't go out the window with the Chase now at hand. But both, along with 10 others, are racing for a shot at a single prize. "It's tough; the teammate deal is always tough in racing ," Jones said. "… There are times when you have to race like teammates and times your race as competitors. It's a tough balance for sure, but it's also nice when you go to the race track and you have other drivers to lean on, you can get information from and better each other. "Hopefully we're both in Homestead chasing the championship." Suarez also understands the benefits that come with a competitive teammate and agreed that "it's hard to balance out because both of us want to race hard for wins. "I think we're going to be in good shape," he said. "Both of us have a good shot to be competitive every single weekend for the Chase." </p>
Matt Kenseth: 'The last restart is my fault'
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Chase gear Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth put the blame squarely on his own shoulders after his second-place finish Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Kenseth -- who led 105 of 300 laps, including from Laps 243-294 -- ceded the lead on the final restart to eventual race winner Kevin Harvick . Kenseth held on for second place, .442 seconds behind at the checkered flag, but expressed regret as he emerged from his No. 20 Toyota post-race. "The last restart was my fault," said Kenseth, who had his modest win streak at the 1.058-mile track snapped at two. "The one before that I thought I did right and we heard from the (race control) tower down that they thought I slowed up before I restarted or something. So the last one I let Kevin lay back on me, which we're supposed to be side-by-side. "I should have known better. I should have just went really late in the (restart) zone and waited until he had to get up to my nose because he anticipated it just right and laid back. Plus, I spun the tires and I got beat through (Turns) 1 and 2 and then it was over." The late-race slip-up paralleled a restart miscue by Martin Truex Jr ., last week's winner and the driver of the JGR-affiliated Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota. Truex lost ground with a sluggish jump on the next-to-last restart after leading a race-high 141 laps. He wound up seventh. Kenseth sits fourth in the 16-driver Chase standings with one race remaining until the Round of 12 is set. A New Hampshire win would have removed any guesswork for the 44-year-old driver ahead of next Sunday's Citizen Soldier 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Dover International Speedway . "You always want to win," Kenseth said. "I thought we had a top-two or -three car today, but we didn't win. They put me in position to do that and I let them down there so I feel bad about that. We ran good last week and we ran decent today, too, so we'll just go to Dover and try to race them there."