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
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
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
RELATED: Full practice results Matt Crafton topped the lone NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice from Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Crafton paced the 150-minute practice session with a fast lap of 177.719 mph. The two-time defending series champion enters the 18th race of the season just seven points back of championship leader Erik Jones . Jones placed 13th in the practice session and is the defending race winner. Crafton's ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter was second (177.556 mph), followed by Timothy Peters (177.369 mph), Brandon Jones (177.003 mph) and Austin Theriault (176.829 mph). Travis Pastrana, who is making his first NASCAR start since 2013, placed 17th in the session. Keystone Light Pole Qualifying is set for 7:05 p.m. ET with coverage on FS2. The Rhino Linings 350 is set for 10 p.m. ET with coverage on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
John Hunter Nemechek gets into the back of Johnny Sauter, turning him loose into the wall causing major damage to the No. 98 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
RELATED: Complete results from New Hampshire LOUDON, N.H. -- The milestone 500th race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series produced important "firsts" for two key figures on the winning team. When Austin Dillon took the checkered flag in Saturday's UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , he delivered the first victory in the series to both team owner Maurice Gallagher of GMS Racing and to crew chief Shane Huffmann. Dillon pulled away after a restart on Lap 167 of 175, a resumption that followed the sixth caution of the race, for Tyler Reddick 's spin off Turn 2 on Lap 161. Dillon, who had stayed out on older tires while most other lead-lap trucks came to pit road under caution on Lap 142, crossed the finish line 1.054 seconds ahead of two-time defending series champion Matt Crafton . "It's very special," said Dillon, whose grandfather, Richard Childress, fielded the winning truck for Mike Skinner in the inaugural Truck Series race at Phoenix in February 1995. "I owe a lot to the Truck Series for getting me to where I am today. "I've had a lot of success qualifying, racing and winning in the Truck Series. It taught me a lot about how to race hard when you have to. It's definitely a fun series to be in, and I'm thankful for it. Hopefully, we can have thousands of races in the Truck Series. I've enjoyed all of mine." Huffman, who once drove for Dale Earnhardt Jr ., in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, was elated with the victory. "This is a big day for Mr. Gallagher here," Huffman said. "He's put a lot of effort and financial support into this team -- a lot of hard work and effort over the last couple years. It's just great to be able to reward him with a win." Dillon, the 2011 series champion, won his first event of the season, his first at New Hampshire and the seventh of his career. Johnny Sauter ran third, followed by Timothy Peters and John Hunter Nemechek , last week's winner at Chicagoland Speedway . Daniel Hemric , Jones, Austin Theriault , Dalton Sargeant and Gray Gaulding completed the top 10. With his runner-up finish, Crafton, now second in the standings, closed his deficit to leader and seventh-place finisher Erik Jones to seven points. Reddick came home 15th and trails Jones by 19 points. "The 33 (Dillon) was definitely a little better," Crafton said. "We missed it a little today. We fought tight, tight and just kept freeing it up, and I was just a little too free on the short run right there. I don't know what I was doing wrong, but I was missing my restarts so bad. "My teammate Johnny (Sauter) helped me on those last couple restarts and gave me a good shove and got me down in there. I just missed it, and we'll get them next week." Jones was disappointed with his seventh-place finish. "We just missed it by a long ways," said the series leader. "We didn't get the finish we wanted, and we'll just have to go back and make our Tundras a little bit better. "It's just we can't do that this late in the year -- we can't be that far off. We'll just have to work on it and figure out what was wrong and how to be better here for the next six weeks." Kyle Busch , who fields the trucks Jones drives, started second on Saturday but developed a tire rub late in the race. An unscheduled pit stop to address the problem relegated Busch to an 11th-place finish.
RELATED: Full lineup for Loudon Austin Dillon secured the Keystone Light Pole Award on Saturday morning, turning a track-record lap of 133.296 mph at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . The pole position was Dillon's first of the year and 13th of his career in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The former series champion's GMS Racing No. 33 Chevrolet will start first in Saturday's UNOH 175 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, PRN, SiriusXM), the 500th race in series history. Fellow Sprint Cup Series regular Kyle Busch , a three-time Truck Series winner at New Hampshire, was second-fastest at 132.572 mph as an owner/driver in the No. 51 Toyota. Truck series rookie Cameron Hayley was third-fastest, followed by series points leader Erik Jones and rookie Dalton Sargeant completing the top five. Jones, 19, enters the race with a slight advantage in the standings in the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 4 Toyota. His closest competitor, fellow 19-year-old Tyler Reddick , is just 10 points back and will start 14th Saturday in the Brad Keselowski Racing No. 19 Ford. Two-time defending series champion Matt Crafton , just 11 points behind Jones, will start 10th in Saturday's 175-lapper in the ThorSport Racing No. 88 Toyota. Dillon topped the first two rounds of qualifying, turning a track-record lap of 132.595 mph in the second session to easily advance. The opening 25-minute session was marked by a pair of spins in Turn 2, the first coming from Japanese driver Akinori Ogata , preparing for his second start in the series. The second was for Johnny Sauter , who looped the ThorSport Racing No. 98 Toyota on a warm-up lap. Norm Benning and Josh Reaume failed to qualify for the 32-truck field.
MORE: Full practice results Kyle Larson led the first and only NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice on Friday at Chicagoland Speedway . Larson recorded his fastest time of 175.052 mph on Lap 40 of 40. Coming up second-fastest to the JR Motorsports driver was defending two-time Truck Series champion Matt Crafton (174.967 mph). Johnny Sauter (174.927 mph), Tyler Reddick (174.627 mph) and Timothy Peters (174.216 mph) completed the top-five fastest on the leaderboard. Truck Series points leader Erik Jones was eighth-fastest (173.891 mph). There are no previous Chicagoland winners in this weekend's field. The Truck Series returns to the track at 4:35 p.m. ET for Keystone Light Pole Qualifying (FOX Sports 1) for Friday night's American Ethanol E15 225 (8:30 p.m. ET, FS1).
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings JOLIET, Ill.—One of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' youngest drivers struck a blow for old-school racing on Saturday morning at Chicagoland Speedway . Stretching his fuel mileage beyond the capabilities of most of his of competitors, John Hunter Nemechek rolled across the finish line 12.014 seconds ahead of Tyler Reddick , who was also saving fuel, to score his first victory in the series in the American Ethanol e15 225. At 18 years, 3 months and 8 days, Nemechek is the fourth youngest winner in the series, and he accomplished the victory with a skeleton crew working on a team owned by his father, Joe Nemechek . Nemechek, a current member of the NASCAR Next class, came to pit road for the last time on Lap 94, topping off under caution one lap before the race returned to green, and managed to squeeze 56 laps out of his last tank of gas. Inheriting the lead on Lap 149 of 150 when Keystone Light Polesitter Kyle Larson ran out of fuel and brought his car to pit road, Nemechek ran out of gas off the final corner and coasted across the stripe. "We got to top off there with one to go, and he (crew chief Gere Kennon) told me to save fuel, save fuel that last run, and that's what we ended up doing," John Hunter Nemechek said. "I ran out coming out of Turn 4. It was great strategy that he had worked up in his mind. "I should know never to doubt him." When Nemechek took the green flag for the last time on Lap 96, Kennon figured the No. 8 Chevrolet was four laps short of finishing the race but didn't give his driver the specific numbers. "I just told him to save," Kennon said. "It got to 10 (laps) to go, and I said, 'Just slow down—just save.' He didn't say anything back, and I was like, 'He may not know how to save.' I told him to slow down even more, and it all worked out.' Exclusive of Joe Nemechek and son, Kennon is one of nine full-time employees supporting the Truck Series operation. "You have to think," Joe Nemechek said. "Gere Kennon and myself—we're thinkers. We're old-school thinkers. You had to figure stuff out back in the past, not with engineering, but with the old-school way of thinking 'How do you make it better?' And we've been able to do that." John Hunter Nemechek is quick to acknowledge the financial and emotional commitment his father has made to his racing effort. "He has everything invested in me, and he believes in me, so, without him, none of this would be possible, and I wouldn't be here today," John Hunter said. With his runner-up finish, Reddick took over second place in the series standings, 10 points behind leader Erik Jones , who finished sixth. Two-time defending series champion Matt Crafton suffered two pit road penalties, ran out of fuel and finished 14th, three laps down, to fall to third in points, 11 behind Jones. Timothy Peters led 41 laps and finished third, followed by Daniel Suarez , who overcame two pit road penalties to run fourth. Johnny Sauter led a race-high 52 laps and came home fifth. The race was originally scheduled to take place Friday night but was postponed due to rain until this morning.
RELATED: Can Harvick bounce back and advance in Chase? Editor's note: The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author. Jimmie Johnson was at fault for slamming into the side of Kevin Harvick during Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway . And Harvick's team was wrong to leave its driver out on the track following the contact, taking an unwise and unnecessary gamble in a race that had just reached the halfway point. And this was not just any race. This was the opening event in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the first of three races that will determine which 12 teams from the field of 16 will advance to the next round, the Contender Round. Sure, hindsight might be 20-20, but we're not talking about a couple of Johnny -come-latelys here. Both drivers are former Sprint Cup champions -- Johnson a six-time winner while Harvick captured his first title this past season. RELATED: Hear the scanner from the incident There are several reasons why the two teams are considered among the very best on the track each and every week. They rarely make mistakes and when problems do arise, the teams don't fall apart. If anything, adversity draws the respective groups closer together. They haven't won races and championships because they've made bad decisions. They've won races and championships because they’ve made smart ones. In Sunday's Chase opener, both made bad choices and it had nothing to do with Johnson's visit to Harvick's bus in the motorcoach lot after the race. That's fodder for another day. Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet shot underneath Harvick on a restart on Lap 135, and the reason he took to the track apron is open for debate. Replays made it appear as though a shove from Joey Logano forced the Hendrick Motorsports driver to dive low to keep from running into the back of Harvick's No. 4 Chevrolet. From other angles, it appeared Johnson went low not because of any contact, but simply to avoid hitting Harvick, whose Stewart-Haas Racing entry didn't seem to get quite as good of a launch on the restart. Either way, Johnson was in no man's land and he knew it. With Turn 1 just ahead, he had two options -- try and force his way back onto the track or lift and give up track position as others sped past. RELATED: Where do both drivers stand in Power Rankings? Maybe Johnson didn’t win six titles by giving up ground, but it could have just as easily been his car that sustained a tire rub and eventually found itself in the wall. It was a pretty questionable decision with so much on the line. No doubt Harvick was aware of Johnson's predicament and perhaps he openly chose to keep his fellow racer pinned on the bottom. Maybe Harvick didn't slide up a lane and let Johnson in line for fear of another car being on his outside. Logano was there somewhere; Jeff Gordon was as well. Maybe he chose to hold his line because he never expected Johnson to come rocketing back up onto the track and slam into the side of his car. There's no way of knowing, of course, but one has to wonder what decisions would have been made had the roles of Johnson and Harvick been reversed. Would Harvick have tried to force his way back onto the track? Would Johnson have moved up a lane to avoid contact? Once the contact took place, Harvick's team felt any damage was minor enough to leave their driver on the track. Smoke from a tire rub had lessened; radio chatter informed Harvick that all appeared OK, keep pushing. And then he hit the fence. In the opening Chase race and with nearly half the race remaining. RELATED: Harvick looks to Loudon for redemption There was no way of knowing how significant the damage to Harvick's car was after the contact with Johnson without coming to pit road. But why take the chance? Why put your entire season in jeopardy when a trip to pit road would have alleviated any concerns for both driver and crew? Yes, a pit stop for fresh tires and to check for damage would have put Harvick a lap down, perhaps two. According to NASCAR statistics, however, there were only 16 cars on the lead lap at that point in the race. The likelihood that he could have raced his way back onto the lead lap was extremely good. Denny Hamlin went on to win the race after nearly losing two laps in the opening stages of the race. Carl Edwards , his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, rallied to finish second despite falling off the lead lap when he was penalized for speeding on pit road on Lap 52. Instead, the No. 4 team chose to roll the dice. By the time repairs had been completed and Harvick returned to the race, the driver was 57 laps down. Harvick, who finished 42nd Sunday, has only two races to climb back into contention. His is not a lost cause, but the team can't afford any more mistakes. Johnson dropped six spots, falling from first to seventh and that's not the way his team expected to open the Chase. It's not unusual to see teams with nothing to lose take risks. But for those who repeatedly succeed by making the right decisions at crucial moments, putting an entire season on the line with a questionable decision is totally out of character.