Presenting NASCAR content from around the web Editor's note: On Wednesday at noon ET, "High 5" will present some of the best NASCAR-related content from around the web. 1. The forgotten few Fans, drivers and most everyone in the NASCAR industry is looking forward to this weekend's Sprint Cup showdown at Darlington Raceway . With the Southern 500 returning to its iconic Labor Day weekend time slot and teams rolling out awesome throwback schemes every week, the anticipation for an old-school weekend of racing is growing each day. RELATED: See all Darlington's throwback paint schemes But what schemes did drivers leave out? In an article on ESPN.com, Ryan McGee selects the top 11 schemes that would have been brilliant choices for this weekend. Among them? The pink No. K-2 of Dale Earnhardt and Bobby Labonte 's No. 18 rides that featured assortments of bad movies. Takes a strong man to pull that color off! Click here to read the entire list of forgotten schemes. 2. We all scream -- or dance -- for ice cream! People get real serious about their dessert. Especially these football players from Rutgers University. In the team's final preseason training camp session, the offensive and defensive players competed against once another in an epic dance-off for .... ice cream. Hey, who doesn't like their sweet treats? Kyle Busch would probably agree with that. 3. Spongebob hits the stage Coming to a Broadway theater near you: The Spongebob Musicial . Who lives in a pineapple under the sea — and soon, on Broadway? http://t.co/2SoNeQxEPm — Mashable (@mashable) September 1, 2015 Yup, Mr. Squarepants himself is leaving the comforts of Bikini Bottom for "The Great White Way." And he's in good company, too. The musical production incorporates the talents of several big-name artists, including John Legend, Steven Tyler, Cyndi Lauper and David Bowie. It's a good thing NASCAR nabbed some time with Spongebob & Co. prior to his rising stardom. 4. Who let the dogs out? The El Paso Chihuahuas, Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, had a bit of a hairy situation on Saturday during the team's Wiener Schnitzel race (Yes, that's a thing -- and no, it wasn't with chihuahuas for whatever reason). One of the canine contestants escaped from the confines of the competition and took a Victory Lap around the field. Read the entire story on the dog's awesome adventure here . Once the laughter died down, we couldn't help but notice the similarities between this pup's "Freedom!" moment and a certain rabbit situation that took place at Bristol Motor Speedway not too long ago. RELATED: Truck practice red-flagged for rabbit on track 5. Most valuable players NASCAR is a team sport. It takes an entire race shop to build, perfect and send race cars to the track each week -- and a heck of a driver/crew combination to take the checkered. But in an article from Sport's Illustrated's "Beyond the Flag," Christopher Olmstead looks at the stars of race teams -- the drivers -- and chooses the Most Valuable Players from each squad this season. And it's some tough competition: Dale Earnhardt Jr ., while the fan favorite, doesn't even make the cut. Click here to see all the picks.
RELATED: CMS plans '24-day salute' for Gordon There will be a slightly different look to the frontstretch when NASCAR teams travel to Charlotte Motor Speedway in October for Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series events. Track engineers and turf specialists began the process this week of installing a 6-foot wide "transition barrier" between the pavement and the grass area that separates the racing surface from pit road. The border, which consists of a sand/soil mix with rye grass and will be the same level as the asphalt, is expected to decrease the likelihood of damage to a car should it travel off the racing surface and onto the infield grass. "The goal is to create something similar to a fairway to rough transition you might see on a golf course," Scott Cooper, Vice President of Communications for CMS, told NASCAR.com. "If a driver gets pinched down, he or she should have a good opportunity to get back on the track without suffering too much damage to the car." Current ride-height rules have Sprint Cup cars much lower than in previous years, and damage to splitters and other front-end pieces of the cars often occur after nothing more than a spin through the grass at some facilities. Crews will put down approximately 140 tons of the sand/soil mix to complete the project. Only the grass transition barrier will be lower – the infield grass beyond the 6-foot area where sponsor and track logos normally appear -- will be unchanged. "Hopefully, this will create another 'Pass in the Grass' opportunity," Cooper said, referencing Dale Earnhardt's brief run through the infield grass en route to winning the series' 1997 All-Star Race. Contact between Earnhardt and Bill Elliott as the two battled for the lead sent Earnhardt's blue-and-yellow No. 3 briefly off-track; Earnhardt maintained control of his car and remained the leader as he shot back up onto the racing surface. CMS will host the Bank of America Sprint Cup Series race Saturday, Oct. 10. It is the first race of the Contender Round in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup . The Drive for the Cure 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 9.
Royals' Manager Ned Yost gives the command to start engines at Kansas Speedway .
Joey Logano takes the checkered flag at Kansas Speedway to secure a spot in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Camping World Truck Series driver says track can be a 'cruel teacher' Even after crashing out of his two previous Kansas Speedway starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Spencer Gallagher still sees the intermediate-sized track in the Midwest plains as a favorable venue. It's a love-hate relationship that could understandably veer toward hate, but for Gallagher, the love side of the spectrum still wins out. "I've had some ridiculous things happen to me at my career at Kansas , but I still love the place," Gallagher says. "She can be a cruel teacher, but it really is a great race track." Gallagher and the rest of the Truck Series regulars get their chance to learn more Kansas lessons, shaking off a five-week layoff in Friday night's Toyota Tundra 250 (8:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), the fourth of 23 races this season for the tailgate tour. Spins, wrecks, and other heartaches tell only part of the tale of Gallagher's backstory with the 1.5-mile speedway . The 25-year-old Las Vegas native also claims Kansas as the site of his first win in the ARCA stock-car series last season, but also as the home to his truck series debut in 2013. Though that first Truck race was marked by a dead-last starting spot and a crash-abbreviated 22nd-place finish, it still serves as a reminder for how far Gallagher has come from his partial-schedule beginnings to his full-time role with GMS Racing in the No. 23 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet this season. "What a disaster that race was," Gallagher said, pointing out a photo on the wall of his race shop that shows him making a pit stop during his debut. "It's funny, if you go back and look at my record at Kansas , I have had some of the dumbest stuff I've every had happen to me in my entire race car driving career happen at Kansas , but I still love the place. By all rights, I really shouldn't be because it hasn't been kind to me all that much. I still love going around it. "It feels like a whole lifetime ago. That was a different team really with a completely different way of doing things than we are now. We've come so far. We're so much better than the team we were a couple of years ago. I really catch myself thinking and feeling that a lot, that wow, all that stuff feels like a lifetime ago." Fast forward two years later and Gallagher has reason for optimism in his first full season in a NASCAR national series. Though he notes that the results haven't reflected the team's performance so far, Gallagher still ranks eighth in the truck standings with plenty of racing left -- just three races into a season-long contest. Gallagher hasn't lacked for motivation, identifying himself as "the goal-setting type." This season's aim is a finish in the top five in the Camping World Truck Series standings, a feat he sees as achievable. "We have made leaps-and-bounds improvements over the stuff that we were running even last year. It's been nothing short of a revolution for us in the offseason," he says. "So I try to be a goal-oriented person. I find that helps me get things done a lot better. If you have a clear goal in mind, that keeps your mind from wandering and it keep you on focus." The other factor that's helped him sharpen both his focus and his driving skills has been a newfound interest in dirt-track racing, where he's a self-described "new convert to the gospel" of slinging a late model around clay bullrings as an extracurricular diversion. Gallagher said he's enamored with the compact time frame of dirt-track racing, which allows him to shoehorn an event into his schedule with relative ease. After Friday night's Truck race, he plans to compete at Friendship Speedway in Elkin, North Carolina, in an effort to fit in more seat time. Though the Kansas high banks are paved and contain a decent amount of grip, Gallagher said he sees some parallels with dirt-track racing, comparing the two styles of running on the ragged edge. Friday night, he'll see if the hobby translates to success in his full-time ride. "We're going to get to find that out at Kansas ," Gallagher said. "That's going to be the first real test I'm going to have since I started. I totally see what people mean when they say it helps a driver's feel so much because you're so out of control constantly in those things. You have to develop a good 'butt feel,' as it were to just be able to get around the race track." In just 15 career Truck Series races, Gallagher has a best finish of third place, secured last fall in a mad scramble of a finish at Talladega Superspeedway . This season, he's still in search of his first top-10 run, but he's emphasized making the focus about his team's fortunes and not his personal aspirations. "I kind of come secondary. If I'm having a great day, wonderful, but I want to make sure GMS Racing's having a great day," Gallagher said. "... Week in, week out, we've taken cars to the race track that have had great speed with them, and that's the important bit. If we can keep that consistency going through the rest of the season, good things happen, man. Good things are all about consistency, and that's what's important. That's what I like about it." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get caught up for the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 (Sat., 7:30 p.m. ET, FS1) SHOP: NASCAR gear of all your favorite drivers What: 5th Annual SpongeBob SquarePants 400 When: Saturday, May 9, 2015 Where: Kansas Speedway , Kansas City, Kansas TV/Radio: FOX Sports 1, MRN/SiriusXM Distance: 267 laps (400.5 miles) Time: 7:30 p.m. ET Pit Road Speed: 45 mph Caution Car Speed: 55 mph Competition Caution: Lap 25 On The Front Row " Full starting lineup " See all 43 cars 1. Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 Ford (192.397 mph) 2. Kasey Kahne , Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet (191.911 mph) Failed To Qualify Brendan Gaughan , Premium Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet Fastest In Practice First Practice: Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (190.772 mph) " Results Final Practice: Erik Jones , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (191.306 mph) " Results Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Kansas based on past 14 races: Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (112.1) Matt Kenseth , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota (105.6) Kyle Larson , Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates No. 42 Chevrolet (103.9) Greg Biffle , Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Ford (102.8) Jeff Gordon , Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet (100.5) Defending SpongeBob SquarePants 400 Champion Jeff Gordon , Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet Former Kansas Winners In Field Jeff Gordon (3); Greg Biffle , Jimmie Johnson , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart (2), Denny Hamlin , Kevin Harvick , Brad Keselowski , Joey Logano , Ryan Newman (1) Happy and Sad Former Kansas winner Kevin Harvick had an interesting Friday at Kansas Speedway , topping the first practice session with a speed of 190.722 mph, then inexplicably placed 35th in the final session at 185.471 mph. The Mentee Teaches Carl Edwards has a new teammate this weekend in 18-year-old Erik Jones , filling in for the injured Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota. Jones just happened to top final practice — heading into what will be his first Sprint Cup Series start. "I haven't talked with Erik (Jones) much. I talked to him a little bit today. As fast as he is … the advice will be going the other direction it seems like. He's very good and it's really exciting to see someone that fast. A Racetrack Under the Sea? Saturday’s forecast calls for heavy rain, putting the status of throwing the green flag into question. Thankfully, SpongeBob SquarePants – whom the race is named after – is, you know, a sponge, so hopefully he can aid the Air Titans in drying the track if it's necessary. RELATED: Live weather updates from Kansas Coming From the Back Brad Keselowski holds the distinction of winning after qualifying deepest in the field, winding up in Victory Lane after starting 25th in 2011. The race has been won from the pole four times ( Joe Nemechek , 2004; Johnson, 2008; Kenseth, 2013; Harvick 2013). Home Sweet Home? Three Sprint Cup Series drivers consider Kansas /Missouri home, but not all three consider Kansas Speedway their home track. Here's what Clint Bowyer (Emporia, Kansas ), Carl Edwards (Columbia, Missouri) and Jamie McMurray (Joplin, Missouri) said what a win would mean for them. Bowyer: "It would be awesome to win here. We're going to need a hospital if we win here. … If we win, there could be a flamethrower in Victory Lane." Edwards: "The thought of winning here, winning that ( Camping World Truck Series) race here, I could hear the crowd over the engine – I'd never heard that before. I never had anything like that happen. There's so many people from my hometown and so many people that I've raced with that are going to be here, to run well here would be special." McMurray: "This isn't a home track because we've all raced here the same amount of times. It's not like we grew up racing here. It would be special to win here, but it would be special to win anywhere." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Greg Biffle, David Ragan and more to run special schemes In honor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway (May 9, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), drivers will be sporting characters from the Nickelodeon show for their paint schemes. Joining in on the fun is David Ragan (in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota), Greg Biffle (in the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford) Casey Mears (in the No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet) and Michael McDowell (in the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford). "It's really fun to be part of the Nickelodeon lineup for the Kansas race and get to feature Patrick Star and Cheez-It on our No. 16 Ford," Biffle said in a press release. "Nickelodeon does a lot to bring sports to kids, which is something that is important and I'm glad to be a part of it. Kansas is a good track for us and Saturday night races are always exciting. Hopefully we can get another Kansas win." NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr .'s No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford will also feature a SpongeBob-themed scheme, along with Ben Kennedy 's No. 11 Truck Series ride. Along with the special schemes, Kansas Speedway will offer a Nickelodeon Kids Zone, which will be located in the Kansas Speedway Fan Zone. The area will feature appearances from the "SpongeBob SquarePants" costumed characters, a "SpongeBob SquarePants" photo station and more. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
18-year-old will make first official Sprint Cup start on Saturday KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Erik Jones will make his first official start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series here this weekend, filling in for the injured Kyle Busch in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota. Beyond this weekend's race, however, his status as a Sprint Cup driver is less certain. The organization, which fields four full-time Sprint Cup teams, hasn't indicated when Busch will return from injuries sustained in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway . Jones, who competes part time for JGR in the XFINITY Series and full time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, said Friday at Kansas Speedway the focus is on this weekend's race and nothing more. "Honestly, we haven't really thought much past this weekend," Jones said. "We're all hoping Kyle can come back; I know he's ready to come back. "Right now, it's just Kansas and going out and seeing what we can do this weekend." Saturday night's SpongeBob SquarePants 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM) will be Jones' second Sprint Cup race. The 18-year-old stepped into the No. 11 of JGR driver Denny Hamlin in relief last month at Bristol Motor Speedway , finishing 26th. "That was a tough situation to be put in, and I felt like if we could have started farther up front ... that we could have possibly finished a little better than we did," he said. "I felt pretty comfortable in the car by the end of the day, which was nice especially at Bristol -- that's a place that I've never really feel 100 percent like I've got that place figured out." That comfort makes this weekend's start a little less stressful. In addition to his Sprint Cup duties, he's also competing in Friday night's Toyota Tundra 250 (8:30 p.m. ET) Truck Series event. "I feel really good about it honestly," he said. "Bristol was kind of a big test session for me, letting me get laps and knock some of that new-car, new-team rust off and get a good feel for it." Jones is the third driver to fill in for Busch during his recovery. Fellow Toyota driver Matt Crafton , a two-time NCWTS champion, drove the No. 18 in the season-opening Daytona 500 while David Ragan , formerly with Front Row Motorsports , has been the driver of record for the team in the previous nine races. Jones, third in points in the Truck Series, scored his first XFINITY Series win last month at Texas Motor Speedway . FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Despite troubles, Team Penske driver scores fifth-place finish KANSAS CITY, Kan. – If Joey Logano hopes to contend for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, the Team Penske driver and his No. 22 team will have to avoid the kind of mistakes that took them out of contention during Saturday night's rain-delayed SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway . Logano passed more cars than any other driver at Kansas , 147 according to NASCAR loop data, and came home with a not-so-terrible fifth-place finish, his sixth top-five result in this year's first 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. But missteps by the driver and team continually put the yellow Ford at the back of the field, requiring Logano to work his way through rush-hour-like traffic on at least two occasions. "We inverted the field on ourselves," Logano said sheepishly. "We got most cars passed and it was fun, but … man, we did a terrible job. That's pretty much what it comes down to." The Daytona 500 winner joins the rest of the series this week at Charlotte Motor Speedway , site of Saturday night's Sprint All-Star race (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, Sirius XM). A week later, Charlotte plays host to the Coca-Cola 600 (May 24, 6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM), the series' longest affair. He has finished as high as second in the non-points race and his average finish in points races there is better than any other facility. But he has yet to win at the 1.5-mile track. And unless they avoid problems such as those that surfaced at Kansas , he'll remain winless at Charlotte. Although he started on the pole for the fourth time this season last weekend, and led the first 29 laps of the 267-lap race, a penalty during pit stops on Lap 95 (his crew was over the wall too soon) dropped him to the tail end of the field. After working his way from 32nd back inside the top 10, Logano was flagged again on Lap 186 when he came down pit road before it was open under caution. That miscue sent him back to the rear once more, this time just outside the top 15. "I typically hear it on my radio, whether (pit road) is open or closed," he said of the mistake. "I heard the call to pit but I never looked (at the pit entrance lights). I saw no one else was pitting and thought 'we're going to get off strategy here. I'm the only guy (pitting).'" Fortunately for the team, Logano's car had speed. He was back inside the top 10 once again by Lap 220 and fifth by the time the checkered flag finally appeared. "We got a top five out of it because we had a fast car and we were able to recover," he said. "But just on all aspects we all just did a terrible job; We know how to do it, we've done it before, we execute really well; we just kept screwing up." Logano made it to the Championship Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup a year ago, winning a career-best five times in his second season with the Penske organization. Based on his team's showing thus far this year, he's once again considered one of the favorites to battle for the title. As long as he and the team avoid putting themselves in the type of precarious positions they found themselves in last weekend. "We had a fast race car and that’s what saved us," Logano said. "But our execution was not very good. We've got to raise our game a little bit. We've got to clean it up." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Erik Jones leads 151 laps, but runs dry with five to go RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Matt Crafton didn't have the fastest truck in Friday night's Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway , but he had the best feel for fuel mileage and what his crew chief would call their lucky fuel cell. The result was Crafton’s seventh series career victory. With truck after truck pulling to the inside of the 1.5-mile Kansas oval over the last five laps with empty fuel cells, Crafton cruised over the finish line with only a few drops of fuel left in his ThorSport Racing Toyota Tundra. "It was not the winning truck," Crafton said after getting to Victory Lane. "We were definitely a second-place truck." The truck that obviously was the fastest was the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra of rookie Erik Jones . It led 151 of 167 laps and was comfortably in the lead with four laps to go. But it was also one of those trucks which ran short of fuel at the end. It wound up 11th. "It just sucks – we had by far the best truck," Jones said after the race. "We were up to an 11-second lead at one point and it's just so terrible for these guys when we bring that fast of a truck. We couldn't bring the win home and I saved as much as I could most of the run. The 19 ( Tyler Reddick ) made us run pretty hard. Being eight laps short, I don't know how the 88 (Crafton) made it. It's too bad, we'll have to bring another fast truck next weekend to Charlotte and we’ll go get a win there." RELATED: Jones dominating run goes dry Also running out of fuel while in contention for the victory in the final laps after Jones dropped out were Reddick and Daniel Suarez . The victory was the second of the season for Crafton, the defending series champion, and his second in the last three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Kansas . That made him the first driver to win more than once at the track located on the far west side of Kansas City. "I heard somebody say that to me before the race," Crafton, who led a total of six laps, said of the Kansas landmark win. "I said, 'Two times.'" The victory allowed Crafton to pad his points lead to 17 points over Reddick as he attempts to win a third-straight series championship. "You've got to be close enough to sneak one out once in a while," Crafton said. "I've lost some like this so every once in a while when you steal one I don't feel too bad about it." After the race, Crafton's crew chief, Carl Joyner gave credit to a particular fuel cell which he said has given his trucks better fuel mileage for some reason. Sprint Cup regular Ryan Newman , driving a truck owned by former Kansas Sprint Cup race winner Joe Nemechek and making his first truck series start since 2013, finished second. Newman was in the seat as a favor to Nemechek, who is in the process of grooming his son John Hunter for the ride. "Trying to teach John Hunter a little bit of what I've experienced on pit road, how to get everything you possibly can," Newman said. "But that wasn't my main goal. My goal was to come here and win." Johnny Sauter finished third. Rounding out the top five were veteran Timothy Peters and rookie Cameron Hayley . Jones, who won the pole earlier in the day with a lap at 179.396 mph, led the first 43 laps. For the first 30 or so laps of those, Crafton stayed close to the young driver from Michigan. But then Jones began to pull away. On Lap 38, Jones' lead over Crafton was four seconds. But on Lap 41, a caution flag waved and on the ensuing stops, Crafton beat Jones out of the pits to take the lead. On Lap 48, back came Jones to take the lead and once out in clean air again, he began to pull away. On Lap 60, his lead was 2.9 seconds. He would lose that margin – and the lead – as he was beat out of the pits after yellow flag stops that began on Lap 67 by Newman. But on the restart, he left Newman behind. By Lap 88, Jones' lead was six seconds. By Lap 105, it was over 10 seconds on Newman. On Lap 109, the caution waved again and, once again, Jones' lead was erased as he was beaten off pit road by Reddick, who was involved in a crash with his Brad Keselowski Racing teammate and started the race from the back in his backup truck. But once again the restart, Jones moved back to the front and began to move to a seemingly comfortable lead. But only seemingly. "I didn't know how short we were, but I knew the fuel window," Jones, who will make his first Sprint Cup Series start Saturday night in Kansas , said. "I knew we had to save and I couldn't give the lead up to the 19 ( Tyler Reddick ) at that point. If a caution would have come out – losing track position is so big this year, if we would have lost the lead then we would have never been able to get it back. It's just a shame. I saved as much as I could there later on and it just wasn't enough. Eight laps short, we just couldn't do it. We had a fast Tundra and it's just a shame we couldn't bring it home for these guys." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule