RELATED: Full race results " Race recap SHOP: Champion gear In a season fit for the silver screen, Kyle Busch completed his emotional comeback from a devastating season-opening injury to capture his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. Busch took home the 2015 championship by being the top finisher among the Championship 4 drivers, which also included Kevin Harvick , Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr ., in the Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Busch led 41 laps on the day and the last seven of the 267-lap event for his first career postseason win as a member of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field. "Rowdy" spent much of the race running in the top two and took the lead from Brad Keselowski for good shortly after the Lap 261 restart. Busch then distanced himself from Harvick, the series' 2014 champion, who finished as the runner-up in the race and final standings. Gordon finished sixth in his final race, while Truex finished 12th. "This is just so unbelievable, so amazing and means so much right here, right now and probably will for a long, long time to come," Busch said on the championship stage at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "The opportunity that the amount of people that have poured their life and soul into everything that Kyle Busch does and is about -- from M&M's to Toyota to Snickers and Twix and Skittles, Joe Gibbs (team owner) and his family and all of Joe Gibbs Racing , everyone that gave me such a fast race car here tonight to drive. It was so much fun. "This is just a dream come true and my family, my wife, my son -- to have him this year and to have everything we've gone through this year to be in this moment -- I don't know what else to say, but this is so special." The title makes the Busch brothers -- Kurt won the 2004 championship -- the second pair of brothers in NASCAR to win premier series championships. The Labonte brothers also have accomplished that with Terry winning titles in 1984 and 1996 and Bobby winning in 2000. RELATED: See all the premier series champions The 2015 season started off in a frightening fashion for Busch. A crash in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway left him with a broken right leg and a broken left foot. Busch missed the first 11 points races of the season before returning in the middle of May for the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Matt Crafton , David Ragan and Erik Jones each took turns behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing . NASCAR granted Busch a waiver to make the Chase provided he was able to win a race and crack the top 30 in points before the end of the 26-race regular season at Richmond International Raceway . It took Busch just over a month to find Victory Lane and he did so at Sonoma Raceway, holding off his brother. That sparked a stretch of four wins in five races for the 30-year-old, including three straight wins at Kentucky Speedway , New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway . He nearly pulled off a fourth straight win at Pocono Raceway but ran out of gas on the final lap. RELATED: See all the 2015 winners For the second half of the waiver requirement, Busch cracked the top 30 in points after the race at Watkins Glen International in August and secured his spot in the Chase after the Darlington race, which was the second-to-last race of the regular season. The Chase provided an early test for Busch as a wreck at New Hampshire and a 37th-place finish left him on the outside looking in of advancing to the Contender Round heading to Dover International Speedway . However, he was able to rally to advance with a runner-up finish at the "Monster Mile." Contact with Kyle Larson near the entrance of pit road at Charlotte in the Contender Round opener derailed a promising day for Busch and left him needing strong performances at Kansas Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway to make the Eliminator Round. Busch delivered at both, gaining the spots he needed late at Talladega, which was where he was involved in a wreck the previous year that took him out of the Chase. Busch was a model of consistency in the Eliminator Round with three top-five finishes to advance on points to the Championship 4. The title season was also a big one off the track for Busch as he and wife Samantha welcomed son Brexton in May, just days after Busch's return to competition. During Championship 4 Media Day, Busch and Joe Gibbs revealed that Busch had inked a contract extension days after the news of Mars extension as sponsor on the No. 18 Toyota was announced. The Sprint Cup championship is the first for crew chief Adam Stevens, who was in his first year as a pit boss in the Sprint Cup Series, and the fourth (and first since 2005) for Gibbs. It was also the first Sprint Cup championship for manufacturer Toyota. "We are extremely proud of Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing on winning the Sprint Cup Series driver's championship," said Ed Laukes, vice president of marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. "It's an incredible accomplishment for Kyle, to overcome the adversity he faced this year and come back with the focus and determination he has had to win races, qualify for the Chase and then earn the ultimate prize, his first Sprint Cup Series championship. "Winning this NASCAR championship has been a huge aspiration for Toyota since joining NASCAR in 2004. We are honored to finally be on this stage and join Kyle and Joe Gibbs for our first Sprint Cup Series title." Championship weekend was a banner one for the 30-year-old Busch. In addition to his Sprint Cup championship, Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Erik Jones won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship on Friday night and KBM won the owner's championship in that series.
At first glance, Talladega stands out as the wild card in the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . But Kansas Speedway can throw her own curveballs at drivers, and Chase contenders weren't looking too far ahead on Friday. Martin Truex Jr . , who had the sixth-fastest practice time in Friday's opening NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at Kansas (193.299 mph) in his No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, expects tension to remain high in the fifth race of the Chase on Sunday (2:15 p.m. ET, NBC MRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio). "I think if you look at all the Chase races, it's really been intense," said Truex Jr., who sits in third place in the Chase, seven points behind leader Joey Logano . "Just looking at the restarts and the things that have happened, you can really feel it out there. "Everybody is pushing as hard as they can all the time to get every position. So, I don't think it'll be anything out of the ordinary for what we've had so far, or what we've seen last year in the Chase races with guys fighting after the race and all that. You've got to get everything you can." After the fall 2014 race at Charlotte, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski wound up brawling between haulers. Charlotte was rough on Kenseth again this fall, with the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota finishing 42nd after mishaps and contact with Ryan Newman . Kenseth likely needs a win at either Kansas or Talladega to advance to the Eliminator Round. His No. 20 Toyota came off the hauler fast at Kansas Speedway , putting up a top-three practice speed of 194.147 mph. Kenseth's JGR teammate Carl Edwards had his own scuffling on-track at Charlotte this year, trading paint with Dale Earnhardt Jr . 's No. 88 Chevrolet. Edwards wound up finishing sixth, but the No. 88 suffered more damage and Earnhardt Jr. finished 28th. That left Edwards sixth in the points standings coming into Kansas and Earnhardt Jr. scrambling in 11th place among the 12 remaining Chase drivers, 13 points ahead of Kenseth. "Everyone's fighting their positions like we saw last week," Edwards said, anticipating how Sunday's race might unfold. "It's so fast (at Kansas ). You're going so fast in the center of the corners here that one wiggle, one problem that somebody has can turn into a massive wreck. We've seen that here." Earnhardt Jr. said Friday that he is too far in a hole to have any kind of strategy for Kansas . Even as the top performer at Talladega among Chase drivers, the pressure is on this weekend, too. "We ain't got nothing to lose. We just got to go out there and run hard," Earnhardt Jr. said, adding he likes racing at Kansas Speedway despite going a decade since winning at an intermediate track. "This place has a lot of different grooves and gives you a lot of opportunities to move around. When you catch a slower car you don't get stuck behind them and feel helpless. It's a good track." Kansas has seen dominant cars run out of gas and spins aplenty. Only Joey Logano is locked into the Eliminator Round of the Chase. He admitted that Talladega is a game-changer -- one he's happy to not be worried about. "The one thing I have learned about Talladega is there's no safe place," Logano said. "I've been crashed running second. I've been crashed running 30th, so where do you go? There's nowhere good to go. I think that's why everyone gets so stressed out about it. That's why everyone has been saying Charlotte and Kansas could be the two most important races in this whole Chase." "This whole thing can get turned upside down in one lap at Talladega," Edwards said, but believes it's tricky at Kansas , too. "As long as we're driving around at 200 mph, everybody is getting every inch they can -- statistically it can be really tough."
Four Chase races in the books, four different winners and who knows what excitement, absurdity, chicanery, etc., will unfold when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves to Kansas Speedway this weekend. Another 1.5-mile track, and one of the few located next to a casino. It's not the first, but it is the newest in that regard. Denny Hamlin didn't stomp the field at Chicagoland Speedway , home of the opening race in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup . In fact, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver led only nine laps. But he raced with a torn ACL, and any injury that includes the word "torn" tells you all you want to know. Hamlin also found himself at the back of the field almost before the green flag had quit waving when his No. 11 Toyota spun barely two laps into the race. But he won, the Chase was on and the series moved to New Hampshire Motor Speedway , where defending series champion Kevin Harvick ran out of gas after nearly whipping the field into submission. Matt Kenseth , the last driver to win NASCAR's premier series title that didn't have a "Chase" stamped all over it, is a teammate of Hamlin. He had full use of both ACLs and more fuel in his tank and all of a sudden JGR had two of its four drivers guaranteed to move on to the next round. At Dover, the least likely person to have an issue that might prevent him from advancing to the next round had just that. A torn (there's that word again) rear axle seal doomed Jimmie Johnson , the 10-time Dover winner, and all of a sudden this year's Chase had a very different look to it. Fans have long complained that the grouping of Chase tracks favored Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team. Given his series-leading 25 "playoff" victories, it's an easy assumption to make. But perhaps this new elimination format does not. Johnson's mechanical issues set the course for his eventual demise, but likely didn't alter the outcome of the Dover race. Harvick, his tank full of fuel, ripped through the field so impressively that folks began dissecting his winning burnout in hopes of finding clues for his performance. That's when you know you've got 'em whipped. A field of 12 advanced to open the Contender Round last week at Charlotte, where it rained hard enough and long enough to force officials to delay the race by a day. Joey Logano , never a winner at Charlotte but finding Victory Lane on a regular basis since moving over to Team Penske , did the destruction this time, leading 227 of 334 laps. Four Chase races, each with its own set of oddities, and four different winners. Almost before the checkered flag has unfurled, each winner has been described as "the team to beat." Logano, the winner of last year's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas , said his team pays no mind to what others are doing or how they are performing. "You've got to look at yourself," the 25-year-old said. "We just stay focused on doing what we know how to do. Don't go and reinvent the wheel and stay focused. "There are going to be cars that are dominant each week, and we've just got to be that car more times than not." Logano's No. 22 team hasn't been the most dominant, but it has been the most recent to show what it is capable of. Next comes Kansas and yet another opportunity. The Chase hasn't seen five different winners in the opening five races since 2010. Given the way this year's events have played out, five for five isn't only possible, it's also entirely likely.
RELATED: Keselowski lands Coors Light Pole Award " Practice 2 results " Final practice results Jimmie Johnson soared to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series speed charts in Saturday afternoon's final practice at Kansas Speedway . Johnson logged a session-best lap of 188.983 mph in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet, upending pole-starter Brad Keselowski 's bid for a perfect weekend at the 1.5-mile track. Johnson, eliminated early from title contention, will start 21st in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2:15 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM), the second race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs' Contender Round. Keselowski settled for second-fastest in the Team Penske No. 2 Ford, posting a lap of 188.930 mph, just eight thousandths of a second off Johnson's top time. The 2012 series champ won the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday qualifying and led the first two practices before Saturday's final session. Denny Hamlin was third-fastest, just ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth . Joey Logano -- who has already clinched his spot in the Eliminator Round by winning the Contender opener last week at Charlotte -- completed the top five in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford. Kevin Harvick , the Sprint Cup Series defending champion, was 18th-fastest overall in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Final practice positions for the rest of the championship-eligible Chase drivers: Carl Edwards (sixth), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (ninth), Martin Truex Jr . (10th), Ryan Newman (11th), Kurt Busch (16th), Kyle Busch (24th) and Jeff Gordon (29th). Hamlin sat atop the five-lap average heap, followed by Johnson, Truex, Keselowski and Kenseth. In the 10-lap-average category, Johnson led, followed by Truex, Kasey Kahne , Kenseth and Harvick. Keselowski shows the way in second practice Coors Light Pole Award winner Brad Keselowski backed up his Friday show of speed by rocketing to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaderboard Saturday in second practice at Kansas Speedway . Keselowski clocked a lap of 189.960 mph in the Team Penske No. 2 Ford. He will start first in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2:15 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM), the fifth race in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. "The track is changing," Keselowski said. "Today it's a lot cooler than it's supposed to be tomorrow. We know the grooves and all of that is going to change, so we have some speed but we have to keep working on it because you're gonna see comers and goers as the track changes and we don't want to be a goer. We want to be one of those guys that comes to the front and stays in the front, so we've got to keep working." Matt Kenseth , who sits in the Chase basement after a trouble-filled race last weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway , turned the second-fastest lap at 189.215 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota. Joey Logano , the defending race winner at Kansas and last week's winner at Charlotte, was third-best at 189.062 mph in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford. A pair of part-time Sprint Cup drivers closed out the top five in the 55-minute session. Ryan Blaney was fourth-fastest (188.910 mph) in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford. Brian Scott recovered from a mid-practice spin on pit road entry to post the fifth-best lap at 188.897 mph. Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick was ninth-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Practice positions for the rest of the title-eligible Chase drivers: Martin Truex Jr . (sixth), Denny Hamlin (eighth), Ryan Newman (10th), Kurt Busch (16th), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (17th), Kyle Busch (20th), Carl Edwards (22nd) and Jeff Gordon (28th). Hamlin was the fastest in the 10-lap average category in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota. He was followed by Harvick, Jimmie Johnson , Kurt Busch and Blaney in the top five. Keselowski was best in terms of five-lap average speed, followed by Hamlin, Logano, Kenseth and Johnson in that category.
RELATED: Practice 2 results Daniel Suarez propelled his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota around Kansas Speedway at 183.362 mph, topping the speed charts of Friday's closing XFINITY Series practice. Points leader Chris Buescher , who led the opening session that afternoon, came up next, his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing ride reaching a high speed of 181.513 mph. Filling out the top five were RSS Racing's Ryan Sieg (181.190 mph), Joe Gibbs Racing 's Kyle Busch (180.983 mph), and Richard Childress Racing 's Ty Dillon (180.838). After being forced to a back-up car upon a hard hit with the wall in the opening session, Darrell Wallace Jr . posted the 17th-fastest speed on the leaderboard. The caution flag was flown twice during the session, both times for debris. The first set of debris damaged Kevin Harvick 's No. 88, which came up 12th on the leaderboard. The XFINITY Series is back on track at Kansas on Saturday for Coors Light Pole Qualifying. RELATED: Practice 1 results NASCAR XFINITY Series points leader Chris Buescher topped the leaderboard at Kansas Speedway early in Friday's opening practice and remained there for the remainder of the 50-minute session. Buescher propelled his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford to a fast lap of 181.251 mph around the 1.5-mile tri-oval to secure the top position. Sprint Cup Series regular Kyle Busch was next on the charts, recording a top speed of 180.717 mph in his No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Busch is the reigning XFINITY winner at the Midwestern track, having reached Victory Lane in October 2014. HScott Motorsports ' Brennan Poole used a fast lap of 180.463 mph to snag the third spot, while Richard Childress Racing 's Ty Dillon (180.367 mph) and Team Penske 's Joey Logano (180.361 mph) rounded out the top five. Reigning XFINITY champion Chase Elliott posted the 13th-fastest time in his No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. The caution flag flew early in the session when David Starr 's No. 44 smacked the wall in Turn 2. Darrell Wallace Jr . brought out another caution late when his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing ride hit the wall hard and spun off Turn 4. Due to extensive damage, Wallace Jr. -- who came up ninth in the session -- may go to a back-up car for the remainder of the weekend at Kansas . The XFINITY Series is back on track at Kansas at 4:30 p.m. ET for final practice (NBCSN/Live Extra).
RELATED: Complete results KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Overcoming obstacles in the XFINITY Series is commonplace for Kyle Busch . In Saturday's Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway , Busch brushed aside a pit road speeding penalty, a hole in the nose of his No. 54 Toyota, a pit stop that dropped him to seventh for the penultimate restart, an unwelcome green-white-checkered-flag restart and a teammate who had the fastest car for much of the afternoon. The end result was Busch's 75th XFINITY Series victory, extending his own record. Busch won for third time at Kansas and for the fifth time in 20 starts this season. The race also saw Chris Buescher add one point to his series lead over Chase Elliott . Though both drivers had issues -- Elliott a wreck during qualifying that sent him to a backup car and the back of the field; and Buescher a pit road speeding penalty -- Buescher won a drag race to the stripe to come home sixth to Elliott's seventh and leads the standings by 27 points over the defending champion. But the final 43 laps of the event were vintage Kyle Busch . Restarting seventh on Lap 157 after the seventh caution of the afternoon, Busch surged into second place in a single lap. For the next 28 circuits he harried teammate and eventual runner-up Matt Kenseth before clearing his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate through Turn 4 on Lap 185. Busch survived a green-white-checkered after Joey Gase 's engine blew and oiled the 1.5-mile track with five laps left. Picking the outside lane, Busch cleared Kenseth entering the first turn and pulled away to win by .607 seconds. "I wasn't sure we had enough for that 20 car (Kenseth) today, but there at the end of the race, the track was cooling down and certainly getting freer and it looked like Kenseth just was too loose," Busch said. "And I was able to really get the gas down and drive real hard and had a good car to stick through the corner. "This Monster Energy Camry was awesome, (crew chief) Chris Gayle and the guys did a fantastic job for me in getting me a really good piece there at the end to be able to battle with Matt, and it's cool to end up in Victory Lane any day… I wasn't sure how I was going to get the pass done, but fortunately, finally there I was able to do it." Kenseth suffered a loose handling condition late in the race and couldn't keep Busch behind him. "It's frustrating to get beat again," said Kenseth, who has finished second in each of his last four XFINITY Series starts. "We were out front in Chicago and had the better car, but second is the (next) best place to finish, I guess. "Kind of aggravating when you get beat, but we were too free at the end. I didn't give Wheels (crew chief Mike Wheeler) good enough information on the tires. I did everything I could to hold off Kyle except for wrecking. Just couldn’t do it." Joey Logano finished third, followed by fourth-place Ty Dillon and fifth-place Regan Smith . Busch would like nothing better than to duplicate his victory in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kansas (2:15 p.m. ET on NBC). After a 20th-place finish last Sunday at Charlotte in the first race of the Chase’s Contender Round, Busch could earn a spot in the Eliminator 8 Round with the ninth XFINITY / Sprint Cup weekend sweep of his career (including his three-series sweep at Bristol in 2010).
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid Below is a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared at Kansas Speedway : 1. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano used a strong restart to win his second straight Chase race -- a career first -- and his fifth victory of the year. " RELATED: Logano discusses win in Victory Lane 2. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin recovered after a lengthy pit stop to overhaul his car's handling during the second caution period. 3. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . "Awesome job guys," Johnson radioed his team. "That is the best race car we have had in a long time." Subscribe to RaceView to hear driver audio 4. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne lined up inside the top five for the final restart and tried to make the bottom line work en route to his first top five since May 31 at Dover. 5. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Suspicious of oil on the high line, Busch cautiously navigated Kansas after getting into the wall a bit with 75 laps to go. 6. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch ran in the top 10 for most of the race even in light of a late-race tire vibration caused by a sliding wheel weight. 7. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford. Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney turned his best Kansas start into his best Kansas finish and ran as high as third among the Chase contenders. 8. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The outside pole winner took advantage of the first pit stall (courtesy of Brad Keselowski 's penalty) throughout the race, including during the second caution when he picked up eight spots and won the race off pit road. 9. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Getting into the wall early might have hurt the pole winner's chances, but he joked it actually helped his car as he fought to stay in the top eight of the Chase Grid . 10. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon gritted out his 14th top 10 in his 20th and final Kansas appearance. " RELATED: Gordon discusses hard top-10 finish 11. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman spent most of the race running in the top 10, but just missed finishing there when he was shuffled back from eighth on the final restart. 12. Brian Scott , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport . Scott matched his best start of the season, lining up 16th in his Kansas debut Sunday, and went on to score his best Cup result of the year. 13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse earned the beneficiary pass during the sixth caution flag and held on to score his second-best Kansas finish. 14. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth struggled to maintain his lead once he got into lapped traffic with seven laps to go and was moved over while apparently trying to block Joey Logano . " RELATED: Kenseth spins late at Kansas 15. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Thankful to see the Lap 263 yellow flag, Truex earned the beneficiary pass and lined up 15th for the final restart. 16. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick's strong run was stalled when he had to serve a late-race pit penalty. His troubles continued when his shifter broke. " RELATED: Harvick's pit road penalty comes at bad time 17. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle overcame an early vibration and worked with his team as his car swung from loose to tight in the closing laps. 18. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne drew AJ Allmendinger 's ire while racing for 23rd on Lap 100. After getting loose and hitting the wall, Allmendinger roughed up the No. 6's bumper before hitting pit road. 19. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Running 22nd before the second caution flag, Menard picked up 11 spots on pit road with a two-tire decision. 20. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray picked up a couple spots after starting 28th, but with no grip, he got into the wall on Lap 50. Owner Chip Ganassi tweeted at the halfway point that his cars were "just not handling at all. I apologize to our fans. But not giving up!!!" 21. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt's Chase hopes took a hit with 100 laps to go when he had to make an unscheduled stop for a loose wheel. " RELATED: Dale Jr. faces must-win situation at Talladega 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick worked through a tire vibration just before the halfway point on Sunday. 23. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears opted not to pit during the final caution period, and held onto 23rd during the green-white-checkered finale. 24. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola restarted 15th after the third caution period but quickly lost control and track position when he started leaking power steering fluid. 25. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan posted his fastest lap of the race while running 26th with 30 laps to go. 26. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier hit the wall twice on Sunday; the second time prompted officials to wave the sixth caution flag. 27. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . It was a long day for Allmendinger, who at first thought he was losing his motor. Later in the race, he hit the wall. 28. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . High water temps and subsequent contact with the wall made forward progress difficult for Hornish on Sunday. 29. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson drew upon his dirt track skills Sunday, but was unable to maintain control of his loose Chevy and finally spun on Lap 108. 30. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto, winner of the beneficiary of the free pass after the second caution period, fought a car that became too free on long runs during his second Kansas appearance. 31. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman continually worked with his in-car track bar adjuster to fight a tight-handling condition early in Sunday's race. 32. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . The rookie qualified 35th for Sunday's race to earn his best Kansas start and went on to claim his best Kansas result. 33. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Unlike his teammates, Whitt opted to pit for tires during the final caution period. 34. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett struggled with a tight-handling condition in his fourth Kansas outing. 35. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . "Driver error again," Stewart muttered after getting loose and spinning on the backstretch to bring out the second caution flag. Watch: Stewart spins at Kansas 36. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . During the fourth caution period, Gilliland made a couple stops on pit road so his team could make additional repairs to the right-rear after he scraped the wall. 37. Jeb Burton , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Burton told his team he was on the splitter in Turns 1 and 2 during the first half of Sunday's race. 38. Reed Sorenson , No. 98 Ford, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson was penalized during his green-flag stop on Lap 94 for removing equipment from the box because a wrench was still stuck in the car after the stop. 39. Will Kimmel III , No. 32 Ford, GO FAS Racing. Kimmel made his Kansas debut on Sunday. 40. Clint Bowyer , No. 15, Michael Waltrip Racing . The Emporia, Kansas , native, struggled with a loose-handling condition and made hard contact with the wall while running 16th . Watch: Bowyer hits wall hard at Kansas 41. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon had just cracked the top-five when a right-front tire failure sent him into the wall on Lap 155. 42. J.J. Yeley, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley brought out the first caution when he got into the wall on Lap 30 and busted his radiator. 43. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Shortly past halfway, Cassill's motor "just laid over," and he slowly rolled on the apron to the garage.
RELATED: Race results " Standings " Chase Grid KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Kevin Harvick said his team was fortunate to finish as well as it did Sunday, a 16th-place finish leaving the defending series champion fifth in points following the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway . "We didn't have a great weekend," the 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion admitted after enduring a broken gear shift knob and a pit road penalty for removing equipment during the course of the 269-lap event. "A lot of things falling off and now we've got to go to Talladega and have a good week. "All in all it could have been a lot worse … everybody kept digging." Harvick, 39, led only once for 21 laps but ran inside the top five for much of the race. It all went haywire for the Stewart-Haas Racing team, however, coming through a round of green-flag stops with some 50 laps remaining. After hitting pit road for service, Harvick pulled out of his pit box on Lap 213 with the fuel can still attached to his car, resulting in a stop-and-go penalty that quickly dropped him to 20th and one lap down. Shortly afterward, he radioed his crew to announce that the knob on the gear shifter had broken. "It was just really hard to shift from second to third just because there was nothing to grab onto for leverage," he said. "But in the end the car vibrated all day; I'm lucky something else didn't break." The top eight in points advance out of the Contender Round and into the Eliminator Round following next week's CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). During the Challenger Round, Harvick kept his season alive in the opening round of the Chase, bouncing back from bad races at Chicagoland and New Hampshire to win comfortably at Dover. Crew chief Rodney Childers says the team simply has to go to Talladega "and have a solid day." "It's all about just racing," he said. "Just like today. We go every week just to race; it's not about anything other than that. Just do the best job you can and whatever happens, happens." The gear shifter problem and pit road violation were just a continuation of the team's troubles at Kansas , according to Childers, who said the head of the shifter "looked like it wasn't glued properly." "It started going south when we got here Friday," Childers said of the team's issues. "The brakes were dragging Friday. We finally got that fixed, qualified good and then (Saturday) didn't go smooth. "Then this morning the track bar slider locked up, we had to cut that off the car and replace it. Then the door seam broke(n) in half, the shifter broke and then we drove the gas can out." The broken door seam -- a large crack ran down the driver's side door area of the No. 4 Chevrolet -- was a result of the beating the cars take from nothing more than air. "A lot of these places that are real smooth … the air buffets a lot and it just beats them to death," he said. "I don't think we necessarily had a bad weekend; a better weekend than most (teams). But our (fuel) mileage wasn't very good and if we didn't try to follow the car out of the box with the can we were going to run out anyway." Only one point separates Harvick, who was second in points entering Kansas , from eighth place Martin Truex Jr . Outside the top eight heading to Talladega are Kyle Busch (ninth), Ryan Newman (10th), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (11th) and Matt Kenseth (12th).
The No. 2 Team Penske team with Brad Keselowski and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing with Tony Stewart received their fourth written warnings of the season at Charlotte. As a result, both will lose their respective pit selections at Kansas Speedway for this weekend's Hollywood Casino 400 (Sunday, 2:15 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). The No. 14 SHR team was warned for failing pre-qualifying inspection too many times as well as failing pre-race inspection templates too many times. Additionally, the No. 14 team received a 15-minute practice deduction. The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team with Jeff Gordon received a warning for failing pre-qualifying inspection. The No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing team with Clint Bowyer , the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing team with Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team with Dale Earnhardt Jr . received warnings for failing pre-race inspection too many times. The No. 15 team was also warned for failing pre-race inspection templates too many times. In the NASCAR XFINITY Series, the No. 28 JGL Racing team with J.J. Yeley was warned for failing the Laser Inspection System (LIS) portion of inspection too many times and also received a 15-minute practice deduction.
Editor's note: The following content was provided by Goodyear and may not reflect the opinions of the editorial staff. In racing, a track's surface is one of the most important variables that a driver must take into account because it directly affects the performance of both the tires and vehicle. And while it seems logical that a rough surface would be challenging for tires, smooth asphalt can be just as punishing because it brings its own unique set of challenges -- including higher speeds and high heat. Due to a track repave in 2012, Kansas Speedway has one of the smoothest track surfaces on the NASCAR circuit, which translates to higher speeds. In preparation for the Hollywood Casino 400 this weekend, teams must anticipate how the faster speeds on this smooth track surface will affect their race strategy. One way teams will use this surface to their advantage is by setting up their cars very low to the ground. Using this approach, drivers can effectively minimize the amount of wind going under their car and push most of the air over the top of the hood to increase downforce, which will further increase their speed. But while a smooth surface and lower ride height help make a car faster, the added speed results in increased heat and stress on Goodyear's Eagle race tires. The smooth track surface brings a combination of higher speeds and a lower rate of tire wear than other tracks. Additionally, the car's lower ride height reduces airflow around the tire. All these factors make managing heat buildup in the tire a critical factor. Like they do at every track, Goodyear engineers developed the tires for the Kansas race with these grueling conditions in mind. They study the surface characteristics, car setups and track conditions to develop a tire combination that can deliver superior performance on race day. As a result, Goodyear’s right-side tires for Kansas feature a harder compound to manage the heat buildup. This is paired with a softer left-side tire to provide drivers with the grip they need to make it through the turns. At Kansas , fans can expect to see the 12 Contenders battle it out for a guaranteed spot in the upcoming Eliminator round. Their race strategy to handle the higher speeds and heat buildup on their Goodyear Eagle tires will certainly be a factor in this week's performance.