Kaz Grala sneaks by last-lap 'Big One' for win at Daytona
RELATED: Race results " Series standings DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In the space of 100 laps, Kaz Grala went from youngest NASCAR national series pole winner at Daytona International Speedway to youngest NASCAR national series race winner at Daytona. What happened between the first green flag and the checkers, however, could fill volumes. Miraculously, Grala slipped through a wild wreck on the backstretch on the final lap of Friday night's NextEra Energy Resources 250 to win the first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race contested in stages under NASCAR's new competition format. That final wreck, ignited when Ben Rhodes spun from the outside lane off the bumper of ThorSport Racing teammate Grant Enfinger, wiped out veteran contenders Johnny Sauter , Timothy Peters and Matt Crafton . RELATED: In-car look at last-lap melee But Grala -- 18 years, 1 month and 26 days old -- drove through the melee as trucks bounced off each other like pinballs on either side of him. Grala claimed the trophy for his first national series victory and the five playoff points that go with a race win under NASCAR's new scoring system. Austin Wayne Self took the runner-up spot, followed by Chase Briscoe, and the father-son combination of John Hunter Nemechek and Joe Nemechek in fourth and fifth. "That was freaking awesome! I can't believe we won Daytona," Grala said in Victory Lane. "I couldn't see a lot there. I knew it was a little bit risky. It was the last lap, and we had to do what we had to do. "I saw coming out of (Turn) 2 it starting to get crazy. There wasn't going to be any way I was going to be lifting (off the accelerator). I was just going to go low, cross my fingers and close my eyes a little bit. "Luckily, it worked out for me. I just can't believe it. It's so surreal." Self put it much more succinctly. "When all hell broke loose, we were in the right spot." The race didn't wait until the last lap to get crazy. On the second lap, Briscoe, racing for the first time in the Truck Series, gave Noah Gragson's Toyota an off-center tap on the rear bumper, sending Gragson bouncing off the outside wall in Turn 1 and out of control. By the time the smoke cleared, 17 trucks -- one more than half the field -- had sustained varying degrees of damage in the wreck. RELATED: One lap in, wreck shakes up Daytona field Gragson, Austin Cindric and Ryan Truex couldn't continue. Same for Ross Chastain and Clay Greenfield . John Hunter Nemechek stayed on the lead lap but fell victim to a flat tire as Stage 2 of the race came to an end with Sauter in the lead. "I took a few hard hits out there," said Gragson, who was unhurt in the wreck. "Just a bummer. I didn't want to end the race like this, but I had a good time for the lap I got. "Felt like the 29 (Briscoe) hit me in the wrong part of the bumper going through the tri-oval. It just got me loose, and it got pointed into the outside wall." In the final 60-lap stage, all four GMS Chevrolet pitted early on Lap 68. Though Spencer Gallagher and ultimate sixth-place finisher Scott Lagasse Jr. drew speeding penalties while exiting pit road, Sauter reclaimed the lead, with Grala trailing him, when Christopher Bell 's Toyota got loose in Turn 4, slowed and spun off the bumper of Timothy Peters ' Tundra. Sauter, the defending series champion, looked to be in control of the race until John Hunter Nemechek 's spin off Turn 2 on Lap 95 of 100 caused the fifth and final caution and set up a chaotic two-lap run to the finish. Wrecked on the backstretch, Sauter was credited with a 15th-place finish but collected two playoff points for winning both the first and second stages, each lasting 20 laps. Bell, one of the preseason favorites for the championship, sustained heavy damage in three wrecks, including the last one, but his seemingly indestructible No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra made it to the finish line in eighth-place, salvaging a respectable result from a potentially disastrous night. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Crafton on final wreck: 'That was just last-lap Daytona'
RELATED: Race results " Grala earns first career win DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Matt Crafton 's position as a 17th-year veteran and two-time champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has afforded him the clout to hand out scrutiny about how his peers race. The late-race intensity that sent his No. 88 Toyota arcing skyward like paper in a gale, though, was met with a shrug and a grin. "That was just last-lap Daytona," Crafton said. Rookie Kaz Grala prevailed in Friday's Camping World Truck Series opener at Daytona International Speedway , somehow threading his way through chaos at the front of the pack to win the NextEra Energy Resources 250 . The event was bookended by wild crashes, one on Lap 2 and the last on the 100th and final trip around the 2.5-mile track. Crafton's wheels-up pirouette became the focal point of the last-lap fracas. The 40-year-old driver's ThorSport Racing entry emerged at the front of the pack shortly after the white flag dropped, helped by an aerodynamic assist from teammate Ben Rhodes . The pack wound up in a three-wide jumble as it headed to the backstretch for the final time, with Johnny Sauter , winner of the race's opening two stages, in the middle and Rhodes shuffled up top. Patience was long gone by then. Rhodes lost control as new teammate Grant Enfinger's bumper shoves amplified. Crafton was nearly clear of the fray, but Rhodes' truck clipped his right-rear fender to trigger the chain reaction. "I'm like, 'oh, this is not good,' " said Crafton, who wound up 14th in the 32-truck field. "Then you feel that light sensation and you know what's going to happen from there. … "I'm very happy that it only went over one time and landed back on its wheels, without a doubt. The race was just … it was crazy, just chaos all night and there was just stupidity all night to say the least. Some of this plate racing is crazy. I mean, they beat the rear bumper off some of these trucks. I don't know how they didn't wreck more, to be honest. A lot of people did a lot of great, great saves out there." Sauter was attempting to become the season opener's first back-to-back winner since Todd Bodine repeated in 2008-09. But his GMS Racing truck was snared in the late pileup, with Crafton's No. 88 appearing to land on the bed of Sauter's. "I elected to go three-wide and tried to make something happen, because who the hell wants to finish second, you know?" said Sauter, who was scored 15th. "In hindsight, there's a million different scenarios that go through your mind and I'll have a lot better grasp of it when I can sit home and watch it, study it and try not to make the same mistake next time." The final crash was especially costly to ThorSport, which had all four of its Toyotas added to the 12-truck crash tally. "I don't know what else to say because these guys have worked so hard," said Rhodes, credited with 12th place. "I've got such good teammates. It's unfortunate we were all caught up in it." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Casey Mears' Darlington paint scheme revealed
RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes " SHOP: Mears gear Casey Mears revealed his throwback No. 13 paint scheme for the Bojangles' Southern 500 (6 p.m. ET Sept. 4, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Darlington Raceway on Tuesday via "NASCAR America." Mears joins the likes of Kevin Harvick , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Danica Patrick , etc., who have all unveiled throwback schemes for the Labor Day weekend event. The scheme pays tribute to the late Smokey Yunick -- a colorful and pivotal mechanic in stock car racing who served as crew chief for No. 13 drivers Curtis Thomas, Johnny Rutherford and Mario Andretti. In his 10-year career, Yunick earned 22 premier series wins as a crew chief and was crew chief to Herb Thomas' Cup series championships in 1951 and 1953. Mears said he's excited to be running the Smokey Yunick tribute scheme on his GEICO Chevrolet. "Out of all the history of NASCAR I'd have to say he’s probably one of the top five most innovative people in the sport," Mears said of Yunick. "We feel fortunate to be able to run a paint scheme that has so much meaning and cool history in NASCAR. Hopefully, we can go to Darlington and do a good job with that car in the Bojangles' Southern 500 and Smokey's family will be proud." Smokey's daughter Trish is already proud. "My dad loved racing at Darlington, tire problems and gnats alike," said Trish Yunick. "It's so special to us to have him remembered in this way. The Germain Racing car looks great. I look forward to seeing the black-and-gold 13 on the track again. I am thrilled that Smokey's legacy is getting a chance to be in front of the next generation of NASCAR fans and hope it encourages renewed interest in his story." Yunick was crew chief to many drivers with many different numbers -- but in line with his bold attitude, the No. 13 was the number he ran to be unconventional and a bit provocative. "Nobody used number 13, it had no sponsors, and it was gold and black," said Mario Andretti, who raced the Chevrolet for Yunick in 1966. "It was an attention-grabber. That car, with Curtis Turner driving, was on pole in 1967 when I won the Daytona 500 . ... The stories behind that car, including stories about Smokey and Curtis Turner are worth revisiting." Germain Racing team owner Bob Germain Jr. said Darlington's throwback weekend is becoming a highlight of the racing season, showcasing NASCAR's roots. "Smokey Yunick's famous number 13 Chevrolets are part of those roots," Germain added. "He raced many car numbers, but it's my understanding he enjoyed the mysterious or daring nature of the 13 number. Our fans have really spoken up on Twitter asking us, GEICO, Casey and Bootie to race this paint scheme." 10:36 ]
Jeff Gordon drives Indy 500 pace car
Four-time champion will start 18th in Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX) RELATED: Starting lineup in Charlotte With 92 NASCAR Sprint Cup victories and four championships, Jeff Gordon has said that NASCAR was "meant to be" for him. But Sunday afternoon, the former open-wheel prodigy also got to drive the path not taken, and lead the Indianapolis 500 field to the green flag as the official pace car driver. After a tutoring session from IndyCar great Johnny Rutherford , Gordon got the Chevy Corvette Z06 up to speed, took three laps in front of the field and then pulled off to watch the race's opening laps unfold before climbing on an airplane to fly back to Charlotte where he will start 18th in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway this evening (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM) -- NASCAR's nightcap to racing's famed Memorial Day weekend slate. The NASCAR champion was introduced to the crowd at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway just prior to the driver lineup Sunday morning. Carrying his son Leo and walking alongside his daughter Ella and wife Ingrid, Gordon stopped briefly to shake hands and speak with the legendary Mario Andretti before waving to the crowd which offered the NASCAR great a standing and rousing ovation. Moments later, Indy 500 starter and fellow California native Townsend Bell emerged wearing Jeff's neon-colored 24 on his driver's suit. His car will also carry that number as a tribute to Gordon. It was yet another recognition of Gordon's great contributions to racing and his special place in Indiana racing lore. Under green at #Indy500 , but @townsendbell gave @JeffGordonWeb a prerace tour of the No. 24 @TeamChevy . #IMSAatINDY pic.twitter.com/INrl7E0w0B — TUDOR Championship (@UnitedSportsCar) May 24, 2015 Calling it an honor and speaking often about the "energy" of Indy 500 race day, Gordon described Sunday's experience as "an opportunity of a lifetime." "To come down that front straightaway the first time and hear that crowd cheering for the cars, the drivers, and this amazing event …to be able to hear that from inside the pace car with the windows down is just amazing," Gordon said after getting out of the car. "Not to mention that the pace car has to get after it pretty good out here because that last lap is 100 mph and through the corners, maintaining that is something. So that was definitely cool. A huge thrill and a huge honor. "This whole year has just been incredible from the fan interaction, racetracks, this phone call (from stepfather John Bickford that Chevrolet offered Gordon the opportunity to drive the pace car), this moment. This is a very, very special year. Very cool experience being the pace car driver for #Indy500 . Thanks @TeamChevy & @IMS pic.twitter.com/PnQ5WvuMDx — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) May 24, 2015 "I mean, there's no doubt in my mind that one thing that maybe I feel like I've accomplished more than I ever expected or hoped to in racing, but the one thing that did kind of did allude me and we pursued -- I say 'we', my dad, my mom and myself -- when we were trying to go to the next level, was getting a chance to race here in the Indianapolis 500. "I've said this many times, I still believe it. Winning the inaugural Brickyard 400, to me, fulfilled that dream. Now I've had a chance to win it four more times. This is a special place for me. I love getting a chance to race here." Gordon's five Brickyard 400 wins is the most for a driver at the speedway, tying him with the legendary Michael Schumacher, who has five Formula One grand prix victories. He'll have a chance to hold the record on his own in this July's running of the Brickyard 400 (July 26, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM). But for those hoping that the 43-year old Gordon may one day make a start in the Indianapolis 500, he dashed those thoughts Sunday morning telling reporters that would not be happening. "I'll be in the FOX booth next year," Gordon said. "I'm so glad that deal worked out because I wouldn't have a better excuse for you." And further, Gordon revealed that although he had previously left open the door to compete in random NASCAR races that now seems less and less likely. "The way I set that up is because I've known too many drivers that I respect and have raced with that, you know, said, 'OK, I'm retiring, stepping away, then they come back,'' Gordon said. "I'm not quite ready, want to run a few more races. "That's why I didn't say this is my final year of ever competing at a single event. But it really, truly is. It really is. As I get further into the year, as things come together, I don't see myself doing any races. If I do a race, maybe a Martinsville or a short track." In the meantime, Gordon was intent to live in the moment Sunday. "To me, if every time I could attend something like the Indianapolis 500 and then go to my own race -- it would definitely be motivating," Gordon said. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Stats advance: Analyzing the AAA Texas 500
A statistical look ahead to the second race of the Eliminator Round RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Statistical Advance: Analyzing the AAA Texas 500 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 27, 2014) – Below is a look at the Eliminator 8 – and beyond – at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas going into the AAA Texas 500 on November 2. ESPN’s coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET and the race is scheduled for 3 p.m. TEXAS-SPECIFIC STATISTICS 1 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.3 2014 Rundown · Four wins, 13 top fives, 21 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 10.1 · Led 24 races for 873 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One win, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.2 in 27 races · Average Running Position of 13.9, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 92.3, ninth-best · 323 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · 4,067 Laps in the Top 15 (63.9%), eighth-most 2 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.4 2014 Rundown · Four top fives, 15 top 10s · Average finish of 13.0 · Led 7 races for 41 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One win, three top fives, five top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 19.1 in 22 races · Average Running Position of 20.1, 22nd-best · Driver Rating of 73.1, 21st-best · 1,479 Green Flag Passes, second-most 3 - Joey Logano (No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 106.9 2014 Rundown · Five wins, 16 top fives, 21 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.3 · Led 21 races for 976 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One win, four top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 18.4 in 12 races · Average Running Position of 19.3, 20th-best · Driver Rating of 77.1, 19th-best 4 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 91.8 2014 Rundown · 12 top fives, 20 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.3 · Led 19 races for 470 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · Two wins, 13 top fives, 17 top 10s · Average finish of 8.3 in 24 races · Series-best Average Running Position of 9.4 · Series-best Driver Rating of 106.1 · 353 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 1,448 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 173.587 mph, second-fastest · Series-high 5,045 Laps in the Top 15 (79.3%) · 742 Quality Passes, second-most 5 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.9 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, 15 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 14.9 · Led 15 races for 286 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · Two wins, five top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 10.8 in 17 races · Average Running Position of 12.4, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 93.8, seventh-best · 179 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 1,380 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 173.154 mph, 10th-fastest · 3,931 Laps in the Top 15 (69.0%), 10th-most · 742 Quality Passes, second-most 6 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Aflac Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 81.4 2014 Rundown · Two wins, seven top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 14.7 · Led 11 races for 135 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · Three wins, six top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.5 in 19 races · Average Running Position of 12.4, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 96.9, sixth-best · 361 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · 1,240 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 173.402 mph, fourth-fastest · 4,573 Laps in the Top 15 (71.9%), fifth-most · 716 Quality Passes, fifth-most 7 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 103.4 2014 Rundown · Six wins, 14 top fives, 17 top 10s; five poles · Average finish of 13.5 · Led 26 races for 1,518 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One top five, three top 10s · Average finish of 19.5 in 12 races · Average Running Position of 18.1, 18th-best · Driver Rating of 78.8, 18th-best · 164 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most 8 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 108.3 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; eight poles · Average finish of 14.0 · Led 24 races for 1,817 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · Three top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 13.6 in 23 races · Average Running Position of 16.0, 15th-best · Driver Rating of 83.3, 14th-best · 1,461 Green Flag Passes, third-most · 3,706 Laps in the Top 15 (58.2%), 12th-most · 685 Quality Passes, seventh-most 9 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.2 2014 Rundown · One win, eight top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 16.8 · Led 15 races for 453 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One win, seven top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.4 in 18 races · Average Running Position of 10.8, third-best · Driver Rating of 102.2, fourth-best · 353 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 173.610 mph · 4,448 Laps in the Top 15 (73.8%), sixth-most · 641 Quality Passes, 10th-most 10 - AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Clorox Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.7 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 19.9 · Led 5 races for 68 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · Two top 10s · Average finish of 21.7 in 11 races · Average Running Position of 22.1, 28th-best · Driver Rating of 68.5, 25th-best 11 - Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.5 2014 Rundown · Four wins, 12 top fives, 18 top 10s · Average finish of 12.5 · Led 16 races for 379 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One win, four top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 15.0 in 24 races · Average Running Position of 13.1, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 90.4, 10th-best · 216 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · 1,346 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 173.243 mph, eighth-fastest · 4,624 Laps in the Top 15 (72.7%), fourth-most · 736 Quality Passes, fourth-most 12 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Red Vest Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 98.5 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.2 · Led 16 races for 1,119 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · Three wins, 10 top fives, 16 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 9.5 in 22 races · Average Running Position of 11.4, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 103.6, second-best · Series-high 522 Fastest Laps Run · Average Green Flag Speed of 173.393 mph, fifth-fastest · 4,666 Laps in the Top 15 (73.3%), third-most · 681 Quality Passes, eighth-most 13 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ortho Fire Ant Killer Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 78.7 2014 Rundown · Three top fives, 10 top 10s · Average finish of 16.0 · Led 7 races for 110 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · Two wins, eight top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14.7 in 21 races · Average Running Position of 12.0, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 102.2, third-best · 473 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 173.543 mph, third-fastest · 4,797 Laps in the Top 15 (75.4%), second-most · Series-high 784 Quality Passes 14 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.0 2014 Rundown · One win, three top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 17.1 · Led 12 races for 218 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One win, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.7 in 20 races · Average Running Position of 14.9, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 85.4, 13th-best · 223 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 1,398 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · 3,957 Laps in the Top 15 (62.2%), ninth-most · 688 Quality Passes, sixth-most 15 - Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 86.6 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 19.9 · Led 13 races for 204 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One win, three top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 16.3 in 23 races · Average Running Position of 15.3, 14th-best · Driver Rating of 86.5, 12th-best · 193 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · 1,451 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most 16 - Aric Almirola (No. 43 Farmland Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 72.6 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 21.5 · Led 5 races for 23 laps Texas Motor Speedway Outlook: · One top 10 · Average finish of 19.6 in seven races · Average Running Position of 21.4, 24th-best · Driver Rating of 68.2, 26th-best The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2014 Eliminator 8 at Texas Motor Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Jeff Gordon 27 2 1 9 12 6 17.2 92.3 2 Ryan Newman 22 2 1 3 5 3 19.1 73.1 3 Joey Logano 12 0 1 4 4 1 18.4 77.1 4 Matt Kenseth 24 0 2 13 17 0 8.3 106.1 5 Denny Hamlin 17 0 2 5 9 0 10.8 93.8 6 Carl Edwards 19 1 3 6 8 4 15.5 96.9 7 Brad Keselowski 12 0 0 1 3 0 19.5 78.8 8 Kevin Harvick 23 0 0 3 11 1 13.6 83.3 * – Based on last 19 races at Texas Motor Speedway (2005 – 2014). Texas Motor Speedway: History · Construction on Texas Motor Speedway began in 1995. · The first NASCAR national series race at TMS was a NASCAR Nationwide Series event on April 5, 1997 – won by Mark Martin . · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was on April 6, 1997 – won by Jeff Burton . · The track underwent a repave between the 2001 and 2002 seasons. · In 2011, the spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was moved from Sunday to Saturday night under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway . · Texas Motor Speedway hosted its first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on November 6, 2005 – won by Carl Edwards. Notebook · There have been 27 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway , one NSCS event from 1997 - 2004 and two races per year since 2005. · 138 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas; 111 in more than one. · Jeff Gordon is the only drive to have made all 27 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway . · Jeremy Mayfield was the first Coors Light pole winner, in 1998 with a speed of 185.906 mph. The inaugural Coors Light pole at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997 was cancelled due to weather conditions. · 19 drivers have Coors Light poles at Texas, led by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon , Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr. with two each. · Two drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Texas Motor Speedway : Bobby Labonte (2003 and 2004) and Ryan Newman (2005 sweep). · Youngest Texas Coors Light pole winner: Brian Vickers (11/05/2006 – 23 years, 0 months, 12 days). · Oldest Texas Coors Light pole winner: Bill Elliott (4/08/2002 – 46 years, 6 months, 0 days). · 18 different drivers have won at Texas Motor Speedway , led by Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson with three each. · Seven drivers have multiple wins at Texas Motor Speedway : Carl Edwards (three), Jimmie Johnson (three), Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton , Denny Hamlin , Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart each have two. · Roush Fenway Racing leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins at Texas Motor Speedway with nine; followed by Hendrick Motorsports with five and Joe Gibbs Racing with four. · Three of the 27 (11.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; Kasey Kahne (2006), Jimmie Johnson (2012) and Kyle Busch (2013). · The third-place starting position is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Texas Motor Speedway , producing more wins than any other starting position (five) – most recent: Jimmie Johnson (fall 2013). · Six of the 27 (22.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from the front row: three from the pole and three from second-place. · 21 of the 27 (77.7%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Four of the 27 (14.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Texas Motor Speedway is 31st, by Matt Kenseth in 2002. · Youngest Texas winner: Joey Logano (03/30/2003 – 23 years, 10 months, 14 days). · Oldest Texas winner: Dale Jarrett (04/01/2001 – 44 years, 4 months, 6 days). · Jimmie Johnson leads the series in runner-up finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with five; followed by Matt Kenseth with four. · Matt Kenseth leads the series in top-five finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with 13; followed by Jimmie Johnson with 10. · Matt Kenseth leads the series lead in top-10 finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with 17; followed by Jimmie Johnson with 16 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 13. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Texas Motor Speedway with an 8.818. Johnson is the only active driver with an average starting position at Texas in the top 10. · Two active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top 10 at Texas: Matt Kenseth (8.250) and Jimmie Johnson (9.455). · There have been three NSCS green-white-checkered finishes at Texas Motor Speedway : fall 2006 (334/339), spring 2008 (334/339), and fall 2012 (334/335). · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions twice in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway ; the inaugural event in 1997 and spring 2007. The race has never been rain shortened. · Casey Mears has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway without posting a DNF (20). · Jeff Burton (4/06/1997) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (4/02/2000) won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career race at Texas Motor Speedway . · David Ragan (4/09/2011) and Martin Truex Jr. (11/04/2007) posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Texas Motor Speedway . · 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski (11/02/2008) and Trevor Bayne (11/07/2010) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Texas Motor Speedway . · Two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted consecutive wins at Texas Motor Speedway : Carl Edwards (2008 sweep) and Denny Hamlin (2010 sweep). · 11 of the 12 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Texas Motor Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Texas in his first appearance; Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman won in their second appearance at TMS. · Jeff Gordon competed at Texas Motor Speedway 16 times before winning in the spring of 2009; the longest span of any the 12 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Only three of the 12 winning drivers have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Texas Motor Speedway : Jeff Gordon (16) Kyle Busch (15) and Kurt Busch (13). · Kevin Harvick and Joe Nemechek lead the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway without visiting Victory Lane at 23 each. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway was the (4/4/2004) race won by Elliott Sadler with a MOV of 0.028 second ahead of Kasey Kahne . · Two female drivers have made NSCS starts at Texas Motor Speedway : Shawna Robinson and Danica Patrick Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 24 27 4/7/2014 Danica Patrick 30 25 11/3/2013 Danica Patrick 42 28 4/13/2013 Danica Patrick 32 24 11/4/2012 Shawna Robinson 16 36 4/8/2002 · Tony Stewart leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in Laps Led at Texas Motor Speedway with 801 laps led in 24 starts. · Jeff Gordon leads all active NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers in Laps Completed at Texas Motor Speedway with 7,990 laps. · One NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has won at Texas Motor Speedway in two different manufacturers: Jeff Burton (1997 – Ford; 2007 – Chevrolet) NASCAR in Texas · There have been 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among three tracks in the state of Texas. Track Name City NSCS Texas Motor Speedway Fort Worth 27 Texas World Speedway College Station 8 Meyer Speedway Houston 1 · 80 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Texas. · 10 drivers from Texas have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series. Six of the nine Texas native NASCAR winners have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Terry Labonte 22 11 1 Bobby Labonte 21 10 1 A.J. Foyt 7 0 0 Billy Wade 4 0 0 Bobby Hillin Jr 1 2 0 Johnny Rutherford 1 0 0 Chris Buescher 0 1 0 James Buescher 0 1 6 David Starr 0 0 4 Colin Braun 0 0 1 MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Stats advance: Analyzing the Daytona 500
Breaking down the numbers ahead of the season-opening race Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.-- Below is a statistical look at some of the top performers at Daytona International Speedway, including both the Daytona 500 and the annual July race. Daytona International Speedway Data Race #: 1 of 36 (2-22-15) Track Size : 2.5 miles Race Length: 500 miles (200 laps) Banking/Corners : 31 degrees Banking/Straights : 3 degrees Banking/Tri-Oval : 18 degrees Top 10 Driver Ratings at Daytona Kyle Busch 96.2 Matt Kenseth 91.6 Kurt Busch 90.5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 90.3 Tony Stewart 87.9 Jeff Gordon 87.1 Jimmie Johnson 87.0 Denny Hamlin 86.4 Clint Bowyer 83.7 Joey Logano 82.5 Note: Driver Ratings are compiled from 2005-2014 races (18 total) at Daytona (active drivers only). Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Austin Dillon (196.019 mph, 45.914 seconds) 2014 race winner : Dale Earnhardt Jr. (145.290 mph , 2-23-14) Qualifying record : Bill Elliott (210.364 mph, 42.783 secs. 2-9-87) Race record : Buddy Baker (177.602 mph, 2-17-80) Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota) · Three top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 15.9 · Driver Rating of 83.7, ninth-best · 78 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.828 mph, second-fastest Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · 11 top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 17.5 · Average Running Position of 15.8, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 90.5, third-best · 3,864 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · 2,161 Laps in the Top 15 (60.9%), fifth-most · 2,724 Quality Passes, third-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Crispy Toyota) · One win, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 19.1 · Series-best Average Running Position of 12.8 · Series-best Driver Rating of 96.2 · 85 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.827 mph, third-fastest · Series-high 2,488 Laps in the Top 15 (70.1%) · Series-high 2,869 Quality Passes Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) · Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.4 · Average Running Position of 14.6, third-best · Driver Rating of 90.3, fourth-best · Series-high 87 Fastest Laps Run · 4,108 Green Flag Passes, second-most · 2,279 Laps in the Top 15 (64.2%), second-most · 2,772 Quality Passes, second-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet) · Six wins, 13 top fives, 20 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 16.2 · Average Running Position of 14.8, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 87.1, sixth-best · 3,818 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · 2,074 Laps in the Top 15 (58.4%), sixth-most · 2,407 Quality Passes, ninth-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) · Three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 19.6 · Average Running Position of 15.8, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 86.4, eighth-best · 81 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.765 mph, sixth-fastest · 1,703 Laps in the Top 15 (53.5%), 12th-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Three wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 18.0 · Average Running Position of 14.9, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 87.0, seventh-best · 2,214 Laps in the Top 15 (62.4%), fourth-most · 2,425 Quality Passes, eighth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet) · Two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 19.9 · Average Running Position of 17.0, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 82.2, 12th-best · 71 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · 4,093 Green Flag Passes, third-most · 1,818 Laps in the Top 15 (51.2%), 10th-most · 2,446 Quality Passes, seventh-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Two wins, six top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.2 · Average Running Position of 14.4, second-best · Driver Rating of 91.6, second-best · 78 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 2,247 Laps in the Top 15 (63.3%), third-most · 2,473 Quality Passes, sixth-most Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Two top fives, three top 10s · Average finish of 19.8 · Average Running Position of 17.5, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 82.5, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.750 mph, seventh-fastest Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) · Four wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.8 · Average Running Position of 17.4, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 87.9, fifth-best · 76 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 1,917 Laps in the Top 15 (54.0%), seventh-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final 2014 Top 16 at Daytona International Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 27 1 2 6 11 3 16.7 79.9 2 Ryan Newman 26 0 1 4 6 5 20.3 79.6 3 Denny Hamlin 18 0 0 3 4 1 19.6 86.4 4 Joey Logano 12 0 0 2 3 2 19.8 82.5 5 Brad Keselowski 11 0 0 2 3 3 20.0 75.4 6 Jeff Gordon 44 3 6 13 20 6 16.2 87.1 7 Matt Kenseth 30 1 2 6 14 5 17.2 91.6 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 30 1 3 11 17 3 13.4 90.3 9 Carl Edwards 20 1 0 4 8 2 19.1 79.8 10 Kyle Busch 20 1 1 5 6 5 19.1 96.2 11 Jimmie Johnson 26 2 3 9 12 6 18.0 87.0 12 Kurt Busch 28 0 0 11 14 1 17.5 90.5 13 AJ Allmendinger 11 0 0 1 2 2 26.3 61.1 14 Greg Biffle 24 1 1 3 7 3 19.6 81.3 15 Kasey Kahne 22 0 0 2 7 5 19.9 82.2 16 Aric Almirola 7 0 1 1 1 3 24.7 72.9 Note: Driver Rating from races at Daytona International Speedway from 2005-2014. Daytona 500 Tidbits · The 2015 edition will be the 57th running of the Daytona 500. · Although the first Daytona 500 was held in 1959, it has been the season-opener only since 1982. · 530 drivers have competed in at least one Daytona 500; 314 in more than one. · 35 drivers have won a Daytona 500. · Youngest Daytona 500 winner: Trevor Bayne (02/20/2011 - 20 years, 0 months, 1 days) · Oldest Daytona 500 winner: Bobby Allison (02/14/1988 - 50 years, 2 months, 11 days) · 11 drivers have won more than one Daytona 500, led by Richard Petty with seven victories. · The 11 drivers who have won the Daytona 500 more than once: Richard Petty (seven), Cale Yarborough (four), Bobby Allison (three), Dale Jarrett (three), Jeff Gordon (three), Bill Elliott (two), Matt Kenseth (two), Jimmie Johnson (two), Sterling Marlin (two), Michael Waltrip (two) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (two). · A driver has won back-to-back Daytona 500s three times. Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95). · Seven drivers posted their career-first victory with a win in the Daytona 500: Tiny Lund (1963), Mario Andretti (1967), Pete Hamilton (1970), Derrike Cope (1990), Sterling Marlin (1994), Michael Waltrip (2001) and Trevor Bayne (2011). · Three other drivers posted their career-first victory in (points-paying) qualifying races: Johnny Rutherford (1963), Bobby Isaac (1964) and Earl Balmer (1966). · Lee Petty, who won the inaugural Daytona 500, and Trevor Bayne, 2011 Daytona 500 champion, are the only two drivers to win the Daytona 500 in their first appearance. · Active Daytona 500 winners and the number of NSCS starts in their careers when they won: o Jeff Gordon won his first Daytona 500 on his 125 th career start (1997). His second Daytona 500 win was on his 190 th career start (1999) and the third Daytona 500 was on his 402 nd career start (2005). o Jimmie Johnson won his first on his 148 th (2006) start and posted his second Daytona 500 win on his 400 th career start (2013). o Matt Kenseth won his first on his 329 th start (2009) and his second Daytona 500 on his 437 th career start (2012). o Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his first Daytona 500 on 148 th start (2004) and his second on his 506 th (2014). o Kevin Harvick posted his Daytona 500 win on his 215 th career start (2007). o Ryan Newman posted his Daytona 500 win on his 225 th career start (2008). o Jamie McMurray posted his Daytona 500 win on his 259 th career start (2011). o Michael Waltrip won his first on his 463 rd start (2001) and posted his second Daytona 500 win on his 535 th career start (2003). · Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes in the Daytona 500 with five; Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers with four (Earnhardt Jr. is tied with NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough for second all-time with four). · Dale Earnhardt had 12 top fives in his 23 Daytona 500 starts, more than any other driver. Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers in Daytona 500 top-five finishes with seven (eighth most all-time). · Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty each posted a series leading 16 top 10s in the Daytona 500. · Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip lead all active drivers in Daytona 500 top-10 finishes with nine. · Only 10 drivers have an average finish of 10th or better in the Daytona 500, five of those competed in the Daytona 500 only once. · Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a 12.7 average finish in 15 appearances, the best of the active drivers who have competed in more than one Daytona 500. · 28 of the 35 drivers, who have won, participated in at least two Daytona 500s before visiting Victory Lane. · Six drivers made 10 or more attempts before their first Daytona 500 victory: Dale Earnhardt (19), Buddy Baker (18), Darrell Waltrip (16), Bobby Allison (14), Michael Waltrip (14) and Sterling Marlin (12). · The driver with the all-time most Daytona 500 starts without a victory is Dave Marcis with 33 races; the active drivers with the most starts without a Daytona 500 win is Joe Nemechek (19) and Tony Stewart (16). · Kevin Harvick’s 0.020-second margin of victory over Mark Martin in the 2007 Daytona 500 is the 12th-closest overall since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993, and the closest in a Daytona 500. · Nine of the 56 Daytona 500s (16.3%) have been won from the Coors Light pole. The last to do so was Dale Jarrett in 2000. Jeff Gordon is the only active driver to accomplish the feat (1999). · Cale Yarborough (1968, 1984) and Bill Elliott (1985, 1987) are the only two drivers to win the Daytona 500 from the Coors Light pole more than once. · 16 of the 56 Daytona 500s (28.5%) have been won from the front row. · 27 of the 56 Daytona 500s (48.2%) have been won from a top-five starting position. · 41 of the 56 Daytona 500s (73.2%) have been won from a top 10 starting position · Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 from the 39th starting position in 2009, the deepest a race winner has started. · Five reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions have gone on to win the Daytona 500 the following season: Lee Petty (1959), Richard Petty (1973), Cale Yarborough (1977), Jeff Gordon (1999) and Dale Jarrett (2000). · Five drivers have won the Daytona 500 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in the same season, Richard Petty has done it four times: Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2013), Jeff Gordon (1997), Richard Petty (1964, 1971, 1974, 1979), Cale Yarborough (1977) and Lee Petty (1959). · Danica Patrick on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2013 became the first female in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history to win a Coors Light pole for the Daytona 500 posting a speed of 196.434 mph. · Janet Guthrie previously held the record for top starting position by a female NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, starting ninth twice in 1977 - at Talladega Superspeedway on Aug. 7, 1977 and at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 28, 1977. · In 2012, Danica Patrick became the third female driver to compete in a Daytona 500 joining Janet Guthrie and Shawna Robinson. Below are the previous female driver performances in the Daytona 500. Race Season Driver Start Finish Daytona 500 1977 Janet Guthrie 39 12 Daytona 500 1980 Janet Guthrie 18 11 Daytona 500 2002 Shawna Robinson 36 24 Daytona 500 2012 Danica Patrick 29 38 Daytona 500 2013 Danica Patrick 1 8 Daytona 500 2014 Danica Patrick 27 40 · Driver Ratings for Winners – Pre-Race Daytona 500 Driver Ratings heading into 2014 for past Daytona 500 winners (past 7 years) Driver – Year – Driver Rating o Dale Earnhardt Jr – 2014 – 89.7 o Jimmie Johnson – 2013 – 82.8 o Matt Kenseth – 2012 – 89.0 o Trevor Bayne – 2011 – 68.9 o Jamie McMurray – 2010 – 80.2 o Matt Kenseth – 2009 – 89.0 o Ryan Newman – 2008 – 82.9 o Kevin Harvick – 2007 – 86.3 o Jimmie Johnson – 2006 – 87.5 · Drivers who have won the Daytona 500 in more than one car manufacturer: Driver – Manufacturer (Number of wins in that manufacturer) o Richard Petty – Plymouth (3), Dodge (2), Oldsmobile (1) and Buick (1) o Cale Yarborough – Chevrolet (2), Mercury (1) and Pontiac (1) o Bobby Allison – Buick (2) and Ford (1) o Dale Jarrett – Ford (2) and Chevrolet (1) · Drivers who have won The Sprint Unlimited and the Daytona 500 in the same season: Driver – (Year) o Bobby Allison (1982) o Bill Elliott (1987) o Dale Jarrett (1996 and 2000) o Jeff Gordon (1997) Car Numbers that have produced three or more Daytona 500 victories: Car Number – Drivers – (Years) o No. 43 – Richard Petty (1964, ’66, ’71, ’73, ’74, ’79, ‘81) o No. 21 – Tiny Lund (1963), Cale Yarborough (1968), A.J. Foyt (1972), David Pearson (1976) and Trevor Bayne (2011) o No. 28 – Fred Lorenzen (1965), Buddy Baker (1980), Cale Yarborough (1983 and 1984) and Davey Allison (1992) o No. 4 – Ernie Irvan (1991), Sterling Marlin (1994 and 1995) o No. 15 – Bobby Allison (1978), Michael Waltrip (2001 and 2003) o No. 17 – Darrell Waltrip (1989), Matt Kenseth (2009 and 2012) o No. 88 – Bobby Allison (1982), Dale Jarrett (1996 and 2000) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2014) o No. 24 – Jeff Gordon (1997, 1999 and 2005) At Daytona International Speedway History · Groundbreaking for Daytona International Speedway was Nov. 25, 1957. The soil underneath the banked corners was dug from the infield of the track and the hole filled with water. It is now known as Lake Lloyd. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona was a 100-mile qualifying race for
XFINITY Series GarageCam returns to Daytona
Host Matthew Dillner takes you inside the NASCAR XFINITY Series Garage at Daytona International Speedway.
In-car: Last-lap melee at Daytona
Ride along with Timothy Peters, Christopher Bell and Scott Lagasse Jr. during the final lap wreck as Matt Crafton goes airborne in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona.
Lynyrd Skynyrd to perform before Coca-Cola 600
BUY TICKETS: See the Coca-Cola 600 live! CONCORD, N.C. -- Fans will roar and the red, white and blue will wave before the green flag on May 28 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Iconic rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd will salute America with the ultimate Memorial Day Weekend mix of rock and racing in front of a captivated audience in the Coca-Cola 600 Concert presented by Speed Perks. The 2006 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees will perform hits including world-renowned, Southern rock anthems "Free Bird" and "Sweet Home Alabama" for Coca-Cola 600 ticket holders on the Pit Party stage on pit road. "We can't wait to get to rocking with all the race fans," lead singer Johnny Van Zant said. "This is going to be one of the coolest concerts we'll play all year. It's not often that you get the chance to perform before something as true-blue American as the Coca-Cola 600 . Everybody had better be ready because it's going to get wild." The Lynyrd Skynyrd concert is part of the 10 Days of NASCAR Thunder at Charlotte Motor Speedway , which also includes the May 20 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race. Platinum-selling entertainer Justin Moore will perform a free pre-All-Star Race concert presented by Rayovac Batteries and Kwikset.
GMS Racing aims to stay on fast track to success
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! How far GMS Racing has come in such a short amount of time can be seen when visiting the Statesville, North Carolina, shop. "Win banners," NASCAR XFINITY Series rookie Spencer Gallagher says. "It starts out with myself and Grant (Enfinger) running ARCA cars, and you can trace the lineage all the way down to the very last banner right now which is Johnny (Sauter) and that championship. "Getting to walk into our shop and look at that lineup and just watch the chronology of GMS come along, it's an awe-inspiring thing." GMS Racing is at the top of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series mountain heading into 2017. Sauter delivered the company its first championship in his first season here. GMS also went to Victory Lane six times in 2016 with four different drivers. "It really was one of those surreal moments when Johnny crossed the finish line at Homestead, and I sat there and thought to myself, 'We've gone from zero to championship in 36 months,' " Gallagher said. In other words, the organization's hard work paid off. What started with two trucks and one ARCA car has rapidly expanded to a multi-vehicle operation with entries in two of NASCAR's national series. Just how did the company go from being just another also-ran to contenders? Gallagher doesn't hesitate to hand out credit. "I think it all begins with getting your competition director, Mike Beam, on board," Gallagher said. "That man is the single best thing we've done since we started racing. As my father (team owner Maurice Gallagher) likes to say, you want great people everywhere, but a lot of times organizations are built on three or four really fantastic people in a couple places, and your job is to go find those. You need to find the genius among the geniuses and those are the people you build a team around." Beam joined GMS Racing in January 2015 and said the organization just about threw everything away and started over. Maurice Gallagher not only put faith in Beam's leadership but also followed it with his commitment to making it work financially. Beam has been nothing but impressed by Maurice Gallagher, calling him a unique man who loves competition, winning and building companies. When he signed on, Beam didn't have two years to make GMS Racing better off, but he admits the two talked about needing a clear direction in that time frame. One of the first things Beam wanted to instill in the organization was a sense of consistency in how the shop operated. That meant making sure areas such as the wind tunnel or the aero departments were in line. He worked with getting the crew chiefs and the car chiefs operating in the same way, which translated to having the drivers feel the same thing every week. "Basically just bring some consistency in the program, and trust me, we're still working on that," Beam said. "It's getting better, but to be where we're at now, everyone's come a long way. It's been a lot of work." In 2017, Sauter and crew chief Joe Shear Jr. will defend their title while Justin Haley and Kaz Grala embark on their rookie seasons. Furthermore, Kevin Bellicourt and Jerry Baxter have signed with the organization to crew chief for Haley and Grala, respectively. While the Truck Series program looks primed for continued success, Spencer Gallagher is moving into the XFINITY Series with Joey Cohen serving as his crew chief. It will be the first time GMS has fielded a full-time XFINITY Series effort, and the organization has set itself up well by purchasing chassis and engines from Hendrick Motorsports . Beam says GMS will count on JR Motorsports to help them get their XFINITY organization up and running, as well as assist with the wind tunnel program. "(JR Motorsports') Ryan Pemberton and his group are doing a great job helping us with that," Beam said. "The team with them is going to be priceless because those guys have gone above and beyond and they're racing well. Spencer having, I don't want to say a teammate, but to have somebody (to lean on) because Elliott Sadler is such a good guy and Justin Allgaier ; they're just really good people. "I feel like it was best to get aligned with people like that for us to go to the next level." Both Gallagher and Beam are eager to see what this year brings, knowing they have just as strong a lineup as 2016. There's an air of believing "we can do great things" around the shop since they've already shown themselves they can, Gallagher says. Beam is a little more reserved. He preaches every day that one cannot just be involved at GMS Racing but must be committed. There is also the constant reminder that it's all about winning. Which Beam feels the organization needs to do more of this year because few got away in the past. However, Beam and Gallagher can both agree GMS Racing is better off now than it was two years ago. "We're not going to panic if we don't get off to a really good start, but I feel like we will," Beam said. "Everybody's just got to execute. I feel like our lineup is really good. I feel like everybody seems to work together (well), and I keep telling everybody, this is all about GMS. Everybody works together. And I think everybody's buying into that."
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