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Being a crew chief 'the next best thing' for Kendrick
RELATED: Complete schedule " See the series standings STATESVILLE, N.C. – There's a huge difference between going fast and racing. Chad Kendrick says he was very good at the former, but the latter took some time to figure out. Today, the split-second decisions he makes come from atop the pit box, where Kendrick is crew chief for driver Daniel Hemric and the No. 19 Ford of Brad Keselowski Racing in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series. But there was a time at South Boston Speedway when the Late Models were hauling the mail around the 4/10th-mile oval … "It was the best race I was ever having," Kendrick, a native of Durham, North Carolina, said recently. "I was running fifth and Denny was leading. He spun or did something and had to go to the back." "Denny," of course, was Denny Hamlin , this year's Daytona 500 champion and winner of 27 NASCAR premier series races for Joe Gibbs Racing . "He drove right back through the field," Kendrick said. "I'm fourth now (after Hamlin went to the rear); he catches me and he's not wasting time; he just knocks me out of the way. I was so mad … my tongue's hanging out and I'm giving it everything I've got and this kid is just gone. And I can't catch him." Hamlin, Kendrick and a host of others cut their racing teeth on tracks such as South Boston, trying to race their way out of anonymity. South Boston and Langley and Orange County and Southern National have helped make stars and have just as likely crushed dreams. Hamlin might have had a better car on this particular day. But he might have had something else as well. "It kind of hit me then – 'Alright, I don’t have what they have,'" Kendrick said. "I can go run a good lap. But I can't run that lap 150 (times) in a row. I can't do some of the things they can do. "I would love to tell you if I'd had the money … but I don't think so. I maybe could have won a race here or there. But I don't have what Brad (Keselowski) has or Ryan (Blaney) or even Daniel -- I don't have what those guys have. I don't know what it is and I don't know where they get it from, but something's there that just clicks. They have it. This was the next best thing." RELATED: Sustainability goes from top to bottom with Penske, Keselowski Hamlin succeeded, eventually moving on from the small local venues to become a bona fide NASCAR star. Kendrick made his way out, too, but in a slightly different fashion. Kendrick is no anomaly. The NASCAR garage has its share of crew chiefs who raced and then, for one reason or another, eventually hung up their helmets. Crew chiefs Paul Wolfe (Keselowski) and Rodney Childers ( Kevin Harvick ) raced, as did Matt McCall ( Jamie McMurray ) and Greg Ives ( Dale Earnhardt Jr .) There were other stops along the way for most, other tasks to complete and other lessons to be learned. Kendrick's move to the pit box began innocently enough –- Timothy Peters , one of his former rivals from back in the Late Model days – offered him his first crew chief position prior to 2008. The two had worked together previously at Bobby Hamilton Racing (BHR). "I probably learned 75 percent of everything I know about racing from Bobby," Kendrick said of the 2004 Truck Series champion. "He was really good … if you wanted to know, wanted to learn and grow, he was there for you. Very open and just an awesome guy. … "I loved working for him. I actually compare working here to working for Bobby." Other stops followed and their paths wouldn't cross again until Peters called one day with an offer. A partial deal would put Peters on the track and Kendrick on the pit box. "He said, 'By the way, you're going to be the crew chief, the only mechanic, the only guy …" Kendrick said of Peters' proposition. How difficult could that be? Kendrick was about to find out. The two made only a handful of starts in '08 and by the next season, the team added a second truck for a few races just to start and park and stay afloat financially. When NASCAR instituted a new pit procedure rule for the Truck Series in '09, things didn't get any easier. "That was the year that you did pit stops where you couldn't do fuel and tires at the same time," he said. "We never had enough people. I was the crew chief, I would jack on the tire stop, come back, throw the helmet and apron on, and fuel (the truck) during the fuel stop." The saving grace was a midseason call from Red Horse Racing owner Tom DeLoach, who wanted both Peters and Kendrick for his organization. The payoff came a few months later, in late October at Martinsville. Peters led 84 laps en route to his first series victory. It was Kendrick's first win as a crew chief, and remains his most memorable. "One, it was at Martinsville with Timothy," he said. "He and I had been through so much. … Going through all that and to get him his first win just meant a lot. "The win last year (at Bristol Motor Speedway ) with Blaney was the most exciting. It was the most dominant truck I've ever had and special in that as soon as we unloaded for practice, it was 'OK, we’re the truck to beat.' Blaney qualified on the outside of the front row and led the first 37 circuits at Bristol before a penalty for jumping the restart send him to the rear of the field. "Then he drives all the way back through the field and wins the race," Kendrick said. "That one was just really cool. You can be the best truck and you don't win because your crew had a bad stop or something breaks or somebody gets into you … anything. The smallest things can happen. … But Ryan got determined. So that one is up there." Kendrick's six wins have come with five different drivers – Peters, Blaney (2), John King , Parker Kligerman and Joey Logano . "I wanted to give Brad his first (Truck) win," Kendrick said, adding it was a "big battle" between he and fellow Brad Keselowski Racing crew chief Doug Randolph. But it was Randolph calling the shots when the team owner/driver made it to the winner’s circle, also at Bristol in 2014 "Just a couple of weeks ago, Brad gave Joey the truck we won with last year at Martinsville. I told Joey 'Don’t ever run another truck race,'" Kendrick said. "Because I'm probably not going to be known for much of anything, but at least I can tell my grandkids I gave Joey Logano his only truck win.' Doesn’t mean a lot, but …" RELATED: Inside the new Chase format for the series Now, he'll try to add Hemric to his list of winning drivers. Hemric, 25, is in his first season with the organization and sits seventh in points after three races. Teammate Tyler Reddick , 20, is a two-time race winner and driver of the team’s No. 29 with the veteran Randolph calling the shots. He's 16th in points. Next up for the series is the Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway (Friday, May 6, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the first of a three-week swing that includes stops at Dover International Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway . Kendrick said both drivers are ready to get back on the track. Expectations remain high. "At the front end of the year I would have told you we’d have a win by now," he said. "I really thought we would. We've had brand new trucks all three races. "I know we’ll win a race, both of our guys. I don't think stretch to say we'll win 2-3 in a row, between our teams."
Victory Lane: John King
A speechless John King talks about winning his first Truck Series race at Daytona of all places.
Daytona winner King smacks the wall
John King gets loose entering Turn 2 and hits the wall.
King wins, Coulter flips in wild finish at DIS
John King avoids calamity to take the victory, while Joey Coulter goes for a wild and scary ride at the finish.
Keselowski and Hendrick: What might have been
On April 18, 2009, Mark Martin won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway . It was the 36th NASCAR premier series win for the 50-year-old driver and his first with team owner Rick Hendrick. A week and a day later, Brad Keselowski won the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway . It was the first career win for the 25-year-old, and the first premier series victory for independent car owner James Finch. Two distinctly different races won by two distinctly different drivers. Martin's NASCAR career was beginning to wind down; Keselowski's, on the other hand, appeared to have only just begun. But there was one string that tied the two together -- Hendrick Motorsports . HMS was home to Martin, Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr . And it was expected by many to be the future home of the up-and-coming kid from Rochester Hills, Michigan. But a collection of factors that came together throughout the course of that season altered the racing landscape as well as the career path of Keselowski. It would be nearly three years before the next driver change at HMS. By then Keselowski had not only found a new home, but he was also on his way to winning the Sprint Cup championship. 'I WAS NOT GOING TO LOSE' The sun was out and the grandstands were packed when the 2009 Aaron's 499, the season's ninth Sprint Cup race, went green for the final time. As race leader Ryan Newman tried to keep Earnhardt Jr., the crowd favorite, in check, Keselowski darted to the inside behind Carl Edwards on the track's massive backstretch. It was a move that didn’t seem to mean much at the time. But at the start-finish line with two laps remaining, Edwards and Keselowski shot to the outside entering Turn 1. "Here they come; look at the 99 and ..." NASCAR on FOX analyst Darrell Waltrip began. " Brad Keselowski ," lead announcer Mike Joy and co-analyst Larry McReynolds chimed in. When the white flag appeared, Edwards and Keselowski had caught and were beginning to pull away from Newman and Earnhardt Jr. Racing back through the tri-oval, Keselowski turned his No. 09 Chevrolet to the outside, and then quickly dropped to the bottom as Edwards moved up to block. Realizing the bottom lane was now open, Edwards reacted quickly -- but not quickly enough. Contact sent the No. 99 Ford spinning. Edwards' car came off the track briefly and was beginning to settle back onto the track it was struck by Newman's Chevrolet. The impact sent Edwards roof-first into the frontstretch catch fence. Meanwhile, Keselowski kept his foot in the gas, racing across the finish line for the win just ahead of Earnhardt Jr. "I was not going to lose," Keselowski said in his post-race winner's interview. "I was not going to lift and (I was going to) hold my ground and consequences be damned." A full-time competitor at the time for JR Motorsports (which, coincidentally, counts Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick among its ownership group) in what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Keselowski said he didn't know what the future held after his first premier series win. "I know I don't have anything locked in," he said. "That's really all I can say ... I don't have a job secured for next year, and everything to this point has been wait-and-see. I know this certainly can't hurt." But behind the scenes, moves were already underway. Finch's Phoenix Racing, which purchased it engines from HMS, had put Keselowski in the car at the suggestion of Hendrick. And the JRM/Hendrick pipeline, which grooms talent in the lower series to help restock the Sprint Cup program, was taking root. Keselowski had made two starts for Hendrick the previous year, and would make seven all together in '09, in addition to five races with Finch. Perhaps his future wasn't as cloudy as it appeared. "Rick had come out and told me, actually had made it a point to say to the media that he thought I was a future driver at Hendrick," Keselowski told NASCAR.com recently. There was only one problem. SWAN SONG? On July 4, 2008, HMS officials announced that Martin had signed a two-year agreement to drive the organization's No. 5 Chevrolet. According to the news release, Martin, who would run a full schedule in 2009, would "run a partial Sprint Cup schedule ... in 2010, sharing the No. 5 Chevy with a to-be-determined second driver.” By most accounts, that driver was expected to be Keselowski. But in May of '09, less than three weeks after Martin's Phoenix victory, HMS officials announced a revision to the '08 agreement. The veteran driver would return in 2010 to once again run the entire season. With Keselowski waiting in the wings and Martin winning and agreeing to return the following year, "Rick was kind of half pregnant," Keselowski said. "He (was) stuck. "My feeling was, after I had won Talladega, I'm going to get this 5 car ride partially next year, pair it with something else, let's go. I didn't know what it was going to be. We'll figure it out; let's go." A phone call and subsequent meeting with Hendrick, however, changed all that. "I was kind of expecting more of a 'Hey, we're going to expedite the process of clearing out the rest of this,' " Keselowski said of the meeting, "And instead I got a 'Hey, I don't have a ride for you. You need to figure something else out. I'll try to help.' "That was late April, early May of that year. My intent ... was to give him that time to kind of make right on it somehow, find a ride because he had made me the promise that I would have that car. It didn't sit all that well, but I understood the circumstances and so forth." Months passed and Keselowski busied himself with his full-time XFINITY Series effort at JRM while making a handful of Sprint Cup starts for Hendrick and Finch. Hendrick, in the meantime, was exploring the various avenues that might keep Keselowski in the HMS camp. Possible scenarios included Stewart-Haas Racing , at the time a two-team effort, and Red Bull Racing. Consideration was even given to fielding a Sprint Cup entry out of the JR Motorsports shop, according to the owner. But the pieces didn't fit and as the summer wore on, Keselowski's future remained uncertain. "I wanted him to wait a year," Hendrick told NASCAR.com. "... I don't remember all the details, but I do remember that Mark had done so well, and I had tried to talk (Mark) into staying. "I've told all our guys, the first time I sat down with Brad he impressed me because he was so intense about the whole car and wanted to be involved in everything. He was just so committed. I told our guys he's got the right attitude about racing and driving. I just needed him to wait." Waiting, though, wasn't part of Keselowski's plan. "My perception is a driver is a lot like a perishable fruit," Keselowski said. "You've got so much time, then he spoils and goes bad. There are a lot of variables, much like anything." PENSKE COMES CALLING The Keselowski family has always been involved in racing. Brad's father Bob was an ARCA Series standout and a former winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Ron Keselowski, an uncle, scored two top-five finishes in 68 premier series starts while older brother Brian Keselowski has one or more starts in all three of NASCAR's national series. "We knew the Keselowski name from being here in Detroit," Walt Czarnecki, an executive vice president at Penske Corp., said. "His dad, his uncle, all that. They would run out at MIS ( Michigan International Speedway ) when (Penske) owned the track." But it was a business associate, lawyer/agent John Caponigro, who brought up the young driver's name during a conversation in 2009. "We thought he was committed to Hendrick," Czarnecki said. "He'd been on loan to James Finch to run several races. But some things were changing." Conversations with Keselowski ensued, in Michigan as well as Mooresville, North Carolina, where Team Penske is headquartered. "All this time," Czarnecki said, "Still having this somewhat uncertain situation with Mr. Hendrick." Team Penske had grown from a two-team to a three-team organization in '08, fielding cars for drivers Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr . In '09 Newman departed to join owner/driver Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing and 32-year-old David Stremme was brought on board to fill the open seat. But the Keselowski opportunity was intriguing, according to Czarnecki. "We've tried to sign on what we consider to be the best available young drivers with a great deal of potential that we could mold and have them grow in our organization," he said. "And I think that Brad certainly fit that description. "But above and beyond that, he had a bigger vision as to what role he wanted to play in terms of the development of the team. ... Just how he saw different things coming together ... "Some of it may have been a little unrealistic; some of it was certainly the enthusiasm of a young man who had a goal in mind. ... But he had this great enthusiasm and he had this great desire and this great commitment. And that appealed to us." With the Hendrick effort seemingly stalled, Keselowski went back to Penske with a request -- to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series. In addition to its Sprint Cup effort, Team Penske was fielding one full-time XFINITY Series team with driver Justin Allgaier . Expanding that program to two teams running all the races was problematic, given the economy at the time. Told such a scenario was unlikely, Keselowski was left to consider his few available options. But Penske officials continued to work until enough of the appropriate pieces were in place. "Sure enough, Roger called me one night and said 'Alright, I've got it put together,' " Keselowski said. "It kind of caught me off guard. I was sold. That's it; he made it happen." "I couldn't sit around and wait. ... Roger had gone above and beyond to put something together that I felt like was the opportunity I needed. ... The economy was on its way down fast; Roger (through his various businesses) had a lot of immunities to the economy. Rick made it very clear to me that he was not going to invest himself without having a sponsor, and the economy was not in a spot where he could facilitate that." Hendrick had been aware of the Penske interest from the beginning, having had conversations with his fellow team owner about Keselowski's status. "Roger called me and asked me could he talk to him," Hendrick said. "I didn't want to stand in his way. Brad's a hell of a talent. It was a timing issue. "It's worked out for him. At his age it would have been nice if we could have kept him. ... If I got a call from Roger and I was in his spot I would have done exactly what he did." POSTSCRIPT On Sept. 1, 2009, Team Penske officials announced that the organization had signed Keselowski to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series beginning the following season. Since then, Keselowski has won 17 Sprint Cup races, 28 XFINITY Series races and championships in both series. "I don't want to sound mercenary but he brought us our first Sprint Cup championship (in 2012)," Czarnecki said. "Because that vision that he outlined, we tried to work with him and bring people along, bring people into the organization, have him work with people like (crew chief) Paul Wolfe, it was really the realization of that vision. That's what it (has) meant. "And his intensity hasn't changed." Former teammates Busch and Hornish have departed, and fellow driver AJ Allmendinger has come and gone. Keselowski, now 32, is the veteran of a Penske group that now includes 25-year-old teammate Joey Logano . "I wasn’t looking to switch," Keselowski said. "If things would have gone the way they were supposed to go before Mark won that race at Phoenix, I would still be there."
Stats advance: Analyzing the IRWIN Tools Night Race
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 17, 2015) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee going into the IRWIN Tools Night Race on August 22 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). BRISTOL-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 CHEEZ-It Ford) · Six top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.667, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 13.535, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 92.3, eighth-best · 334 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.708, ninth-fastest · 7246 Laps in the Top 15 (68.8), fourth-most · 588 Quality Passes, fifth-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 SKITTLES Toyota) · Five wins, eight top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.150, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 13.724, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 100.0, third-best · 610 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.791, fifth-fastest · 6344 Laps in the Top 15 (63.3), ninth-most · 498 Quality Passes, eighth-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Five wins, eight top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.952, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 13.572, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 92.6, sixth-best · 408 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.765, sixth-fastest · 6859 Laps in the Top 15 (65.2), seventh-most · 633 Quality Passes, third-most Dale Earnhardt Jr (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) · One win, seven top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 12.095, third-best · Average Running Position of 14.977, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 87.2, 13th-best · 249 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.720, eighth-fastest · 6071 Laps in the Top 15 (57.7), 11th-most · 539 Quality Passes, sixth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 STANLEY Toyota) · Three wins, five top fives, nine top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 14.333, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 13.977, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 90.6, 10th-best · 443 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.690, 10th-fastest · 7012 Laps in the Top 15 (66.6), sixth-most · 489 Quality Passes, 10th-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet) · Five wins, 17 top fives, 25 top 10s; five poles · Average finish of 12.333, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 9.954, second-best · Driver Rating of 100.3, second-best · 455 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.905, third-fastest · 8324 Laps in the Top 15 (79.1), second-most · 662 Quality Passes, second-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) · One win, four top fives, eight top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.368, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 16.077, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 87.9, 12th-best · 399 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.675, 11th-fastest · 5373 Laps in the Top 15 (56.4), 13th-most · 461 Quality Passes, 11th-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John ’s Chevrolet) · One win, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.143, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 13.038, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 92.5, seventh-best · 460 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.874, fourth-fastest · 6742 Laps in the Top 15 (64.0), eighth-most · 527 Quality Passes, seventh-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet) · One win, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.143, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 13.356, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 92.3, ninth-best · 549 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.634, 12th-fastest · 7069 Laps in the Top 15 (67.2), fifth-most · 496 Quality Passes, ninth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet) · One win, five top fives, ten top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.476, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 16.578, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 88.1, 11th-best · 474 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.618, 13th-fastest · 5948 Laps in the Top 15 (56.5), 12th-most · 616 Quality Passes, fourth-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Four wins, 13 top fives, 20 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 11.333, second-best · Average Running Position of 9.821, series-best · Driver Rating of 104.6, series-best · 582 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.981, second-fastest · 8699 Laps in the Top 15 (82.6), series-most · 678 Quality Passes, series-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · Two wins, four top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 15.091, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 14.249, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 93.3, fifth-best · 212 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.721, seventh-fastest · 3323 Laps in the Top 15 (60.3), 10th-most · 393 Quality Passes, 12th-most Kyle Larson (No. 42 Target Chevrolet) · Two top 10s · Average finish of 9.667, series-best · Average Running Position of 11.383, third-best · Driver Rating of 99.0, fourth-best · 77 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 116.278, series-fastest · 1169 Laps in the Top 15 (77.2), third-most · 144 Quality Passes, 13th-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 10 at Bristol Motor Speedway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 21 1 1 5 6 3 17.1 92.5 2 Joey Logano 13 1 1 2 3 1 20.0 80.1 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 21 0 0 4 10 1 12.1 87.2 4 Martin Truex Jr . 19 0 0 2 2 2 20.7 80.0 5 Brad Keselowski 11 0 2 4 4 0 15.1 93.3 6 Jimmie Johnson 21 1 1 7 11 1 15.1 92.3 7 Matt Kenseth 21 2 4 9 14 2 11.3 104.6 8 Kurt Busch 21 1 1 4 9 1 16.0 92.6 9 Denny Hamlin 19 2 1 4 8 2 17.4 87.9 10 Jamie McMurray 21 0 0 2 7 1 19.1 79.5 * – Based on last 21 races at Bristol Motor Speedway (2005 – 2015). Bristol Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 24 of 36 (08-22-15) Track Size : 0.533-miles Banking/Turns 1 & 2 : 24-28 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4 : 24-28 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 4-8 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 4-8 degrees Frontstretch Length : 650 feet Backstretch Length : 650 feet Race Length : 500 laps / 266.5 miles Top 10 Active Driver Ratings at Bristol Matt Kenseth ............................. 104.6 Jeff Gordon .............................. 100.3 Kyle Busch ............................... 100.0 Kyle Larson ................................ 99.0 Brad Keselowski ......................... 93.3 Kurt Busch .................................. 92.6 Kevin Harvick .............................. 92.5 Jimmie Johnson .......................... 92.3 Greg Biffle .................................. 92.3 Carl Edwards . ............................. 90.6 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2015 races (21 total) among active drivers at Bristol Motor Speedway Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Kevin Harvick , Chevrolet 131.362 mph, 14.607 secs. 08-22-14 2014 race winner : Joey Logano , Ford 92.965 mph, (2:52:00), 08-23-14 Track qualifying record: Kevin Harvick , Chevrolet 131.362 mph, 14.607 secs. 08-22-14 Track race record: Charlie Glotzbach, Chevrolet 101.074 mph, (2:38:12), 07-11-71 At Bristol Motor Speedway: History · Groundbreaking for Bristol International Speedway, as Bristol Motor Speedway was originally known, took place in 1960. The track was an exact half-mile. · First NASCAR Sprint Cup race was July 30, 1961; Jack Smith won the event (with relief from Johnny Allen ). · All of the NSCS races have been scheduled for 500 laps, except for both races in 1976 and the second in 1977, which were 400 laps. · In the fall of 1969, the track was reshaped and re-measured to .533-miles. · The name changed to Bristol International Raceway in 1978. · The first night race was held in the fall of 1978. · The surface was changed from asphalt to concrete in 1992. · The name changed to Bristol Motor Speedway in May 1996. · The track was resurfaced between races in 2007, and the turns were ground down in 2012 to eliminate part of the progressive banking. Starts · There have been 109 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Bristol Motor Speedway since the first race in 1961, two races each season. · 436 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol; 304 in more than one. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Bristol with 60. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 45 starts. · Jeff Gordon leads (active drivers) the series in average starting position at Bristol with a 7.667. · Ryan Newman leads the series (active drivers) with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Bristol without visiting Victory Lane at 27. · Paul Menard (16 starts) leads the series in starts with the fewest DNFs (0) at Bristol. · AJ Allmendinger made his first NASCAR Sprint Cup career start at Bristol (03/25/2007). Poles · Fred Lorenzen won the inaugural Coors Light pole with a speed of 79.225 mph in a Ford. · 48 different drivers have poles at Bristol, led by Mark Martin and Cale Yarborough with nine each. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with five. · 10 different drivers have posted consecutive poles at Bristol Motor Speedway; Mark Martin is the only of the 10 to win four consecutive poles at Bristol: Fireball Roberts (swept 1962), Fred Lorenzen (swept 1963), Richard Petty (1967-’68), Bobby Allison (swept 1972), Cale Yarborough (swept 1973; swept 1977; swept 1980), Darrell Waltrip (swept 1981), Geoff Bodine (swept 1986), Mark Martin (swept 1995-1996– all four races; and swept 2009); Rusty Wallace (swept 1998), Jeff Gordon (swept 2002) and Denny Hamlin (fall 2013, spring 2014). · Youngest Bristol pole winner: Joey Logano (3/21/2010 – 19 years, 9 months, 25 days) – his first series career pole. · Oldest Bristol pole winner: Harry Gant (8/27/1994 – 54 years, 7 months, 17 days). · Seven different drivers have posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career pole at Bristol. Joey Logano is the only active driver to win his first NSCS career pole at Bristol (03/21/2010). Wins · 42 different drivers have won at Bristol, led by Darrell Waltrip (12). Kurt Busch , Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch each have five wins, the most among active drivers. · 12 drivers have won consecutive races at Bristol led by Darrell Waltrip with seven consecutive victories from 1981-1984. The other 11 are Fred Lorenzen (1963-1964 sweep), David Pearson (1968 sweep), Bobby Allison (1972 sweep), Cale Yarborough did it twice (1974 sweep and four straight from 1976-1977), Richard Petty (1975 sweep), Dale Earnhardt also did twice (1985 sweep and 1987 sweep), Alan Kulwicki (1992 sweep), Rusty Wallace (2000 sweep), Kurt Busch (2003 sweep and 2004 spring race), Kyle Busch (2009 sweep), and Brad Keselowski (2011 fall-2012 spring). · Youngest Bristol winner: Kyle Busch (03/25/2007 – 21 years, 10 months, 23 days). · Oldest Bristol winner: Dale Earnhardt (08/28/1999 – 48 years, 3 months, 30 days). · Five drivers have posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career win at Bristol Motor Speedway: Dale Earnhardt (04/01/1979), Rusty Wallace (04/06/1986), Ernie Irvan (03/25/1990), Elliott Sadler (03/25/2001) and Kurt Busch (03/24/2002). · Junior Johnson leads the series in car owner wins at Bristol with 16; Roger Penske and Jack Roush are tied among active car owners for the most wins at Bristol with 11 each. · The race winner has started from the pole 23 times (21.1%) - the most productive starting position. The last driver to win from the pole was Matt Kenseth earlier this season. · Five drivers have won from the pole position multiple times: Bobby Allison (1972 twice), Cale Yarborough (1973, 1977 twice, 1980), Darrell Waltrip (1981 twice, 1982), Rusty Wallace (1991, 1993, 1999, 2000) and Matt Kenseth (2005 and 2015). · 36 of the 109 (33%) races at Bristol have been won from the front row: Pole position (23 wins); second-place (13 wins). · 87 of the 109 (79.8%) races have been won from a top-10 starting position; including 54 from the first four spots. · Five of the 109 (4.5%) races have been won from a starting position outside the top 20; most recent was Dale Earnhardt Jr . in 2004 – he started 30th. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started is 38th, by Elliott Sadler in 2001. · Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Bristol; led by Chevrolet with 43 victories; followed by Ford (35), Dodge (8), Pontiac (8), Toyota (7), Buick (4), Plymouth (3) and Oldsmobile (1). · Four car numbers have produced eight or more Bristol NSCS wins: Car Number – (Number of Wins) – Most Recent Win o No. 11 - (19 wins) – Denny Hamlin , 2012 o No. 2 – (12 wins) – Brad Keselowski , 2012 o No. 17 – (eight wins) – Matt Kenseth , 2006 o No. 3 – (eight wins) – Dale Earnhardt, 1999 Additional Finishing Position Stats · Richard Petty leads the series in runner-up finishes at Bristol with 10; Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers with four. · Darrell Waltrip and Richard Petty lead the series in top-five finishes at Bristol with 26 each. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 17; followed by Matt Kenseth (13). · Richard Petty has leads the series in top-10 finishes at Bristol with 37. Jeff Gordon leads the series among active drivers in top-10 finishes with 25; followed by Matt Kenseth (20). · Ricky Stenhouse Jr . leads the series (active drivers) in average finishing position at Bristol with an 9.200. Track/Event Specific Stats · Nine of the last 11 races have ended with a Margi
Ron Hornaday Jr. picks up sponsorship for two races
Four-time Truck Series champion will be back in action at Las Vegas and Texas NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Ron Hornaday Jr. will return to competition later this year in a deal put together by sponsor Rheem and NTS Motorsports with technical support from Richard Childress Racing . In a release posted on its web site, Rheem said the Atlanta, Georgia, based company would sponsor an entry for Hornaday for two of the final seven races in the series –- the Sept. 27 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as well as the Oct. 31 event at Texas Motor Speedway . According to the company, Rheem "has been working to find the best available truck equipment, crew and technical expertise in an effort to return Hornaday to the truck series before the end of the 2014 season." Hornaday, with funding provided in part by Rheem, was fourth in points when Turner Scott Motorsports officials ceased operations for the No. 30 team earlier this month. He did not compete at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park , dropping to sixth in points, and is not in Saturday night's Lucas Oil 225 at Chicagoland Speedway . NTS currently fields two Truck Series teams with Brennan Newberry and Gray Gaulding as the primary drivers for those teams and the organization has also had Michael Annett, Austin Dillon , John King , Justin Lofton , Chase Pistone and Jason White drive trucks for them this year. It is expected that the Hornaday team will be in addition to those two teams. "Rheem is pleased to play a part in bringing Ron Hornaday back to where he belongs … racing trucks to win and bringing excitement and enjoyment to Camping World Truck Series fans," Ed Raniszeski, managing director for Rheem Motorsports, said. "None of this would have been possible without the solid support of NTS Motorsports and RCR. "We all welcome Ron back and can't wait to see him back in the saddle." Hornaday is a four-time series champion, winning Truck Series titles in 1996, '98, 2007 and '09. He has 51 career wins in the series. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Old-school ways guide John Hunter Nemechek's rise
When the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rolls into Martinsville Speedway for this Saturday's Alpha Energy Solutions 250 (2:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), John Hunter Nemechek will arrive as the series’ most recent winner. It’s coming up on a five-week break for Nemechek and his fellow racers, more than a month since he pulled into the winner's circle at Atlanta Motor Speedway for his second career victory. The win sets up the 18-year-old to be in position to participate in this year's inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase. Similar to the Sprint Cup Series' Chase format, eight drivers will compete for the title, attempting to advance through two elimination rounds to reach the championship-determining event at Homestead-Miami Speedway where four will vie for the title. RELATED: Truck Series Chase 101 That Nemechek is already in position to begin considering Chase scenarios is nothing short of remarkable – the son of former Sprint Cup driver Joe Nemechek had only 30 career starts in the series heading into the 2016 season. That his NEMCO Motorsports team has been able to compete against larger, more established organizations in spite of its limited resources is no less amazing. There's no questioning Nemechek’s talent – he has finished in the top five in roughly one third of his starts and has 17 career top-10 results. His first win came last season at Chicagoland Speedway . The inability to test slows progress, but it's something each team must deal with today. Nemechek said it helps that he is surrounded by so much experience on his team. "I have two of the most veteran (people) here in Dad and (crew chief) Gere Kennon," he said. "They like to do stuff the old way, old school; all their experience and knowledge I've learned from. "Dad has taught me everything he's learned in a 20-year period in a 3-4 year period. That's sped up my learning curve. Then bringing Gere on board, he's taught me a lot about these trucks; he's been in the sport forever." The elder Nemechek won four times during a 20-plus year career at the premier series level. He also won 16 times in what is now the XFINITY Series, and was that division's champion in 1992. Kennon's racing resume includes title-winning runs with two-time series champion Sam Ard in what is now known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series, as well successful stints with Brett Bodine and Ron Hornaday in the that series. Kennon was also a chassis specialist for Roush Racing before moving into a crew chief role in the mid-‘90s for team owner Butch Mock and driver Morgan Shepherd in the premier series ranks. NEMCO Motorsports is a single-team, family-owned organization with roughly a dozen employees and limited funding. The group hired its first engineer this season. They might get out-spent, but they won't be out-worked. They might be out-engineered, but not out-smarted. "To be competitive in this series, it takes a few million dollars," Joe Nemechek said. " … It's hard to round that up on a weekly basis." Funding from Fone Fuel and Berry's Bullets has been a big help, he said, but added that his group is "making hundreds and hundreds of calls every week. "I know what we spend in this deal, and we're probably spending half of what the big teams are. But it's too hard; you just can't keep doing that and have success. At some point all your people get burned out; it's tough." Parker Kligerman has driven to the top of the points standings after teaming with the small Ricky Benton Racing organization. Nemechek sits third, behind Kligerman and Brad Keselowski Racing's Daniel Hemric . RELATED: Hemric finds perfect home " Dual roles lead to success for Kligerman He has five starts at Martinsville, more than at any other track hosting the series, and finished second there in last season's fall event. "It means a lot to be able to come back to the race track where I made my (series) debut," Nemechek said during the track's recent media day event. "I've improved a lot since then. "Also to finish second here (last fall), we've improved on our finishes every time we've been here over the past two and a half years so if we can keep doing that and just improve it by one (position) this year, we'll be good."
NXS GarageCam fit for a King
GarageCam host Matthew Dillner gives you a tour of the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage, catches up with some drivers and gets Richard Petty's thoughts on the 2016 low-downforce package that will be run at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Peters catches air
Timothy Peters and Max Gresham spin in Turn 2 and then John King hits Peters and sends the No.17 airborne.