Cole Custer will join Logano on the front row for the Kroger 250 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Full lineup for Kroger 250 Joey Logano won the Keystone Light Pole Award for Saturday's Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Logano turned the fastest lap in the final round of the three-round group qualifying session to earn the top starting spot, setting a new track record with a lap of 97.088 mph. It was a sweep of poles this weekend for the 24-year-old driver as Logano also took the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Joining him on the front row will be Cole Custer (96.622 mph), who is making the first Camping World Truck Series start for JR Motorsports. The second row will consist of Cameron Hayley (96.499 mph) and Erik Jones (96.357 mph). Tyler Reddick enters the race as the series points leader, while two-time defending series champion Matt Crafton is just two points behind him. Reddick will start seventh, while Crafton, the defending race winner, will start 13th. The Kroger 250 is the third of 23 races this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. After the Martinsville race, the series is off again for just over a month before resuming its schedule on May 8 at Kansas Speedway . MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Nickelodeon signs on for title sponsorship of Sprint Cup race in May Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Nickelodeon announced Monday that it has joined forced with Kansas Speedway for a unique entitlement sponsorship for its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race May 9, now called the SpongeBob SquarePants 400. The deal with the children's TV network and the long-running animated series, which began in 1999, expands NASCAR's reach to a younger demographic. Plans are already afoot for costumed character appearances and a SpongeBob SquarePants photo station in the Kansas Speedway Fan Zone. "The SpongeBob SquarePants 400 gives Nickelodeon the opportunity to expand its relationship with NASCAR, while working with a best-in-class track to give fans a unique, engaging and high-quality race experience that the whole family can enjoy," said Pam Kaufman, Chief Marketing Officer and President of Consumer Products for Nickelodeon Group. "Nickelodeon has embarked on some great initiatives with NASCAR over the last 10 years, sponsoring and participating in marquee racing events that have resonated with motorsports fans across the country." Nickelodeon already has a tradition of partnership with NASCAR, dating back to 2004's sponsorship of the Lowe's Presents the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in what is now known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch participated in SpongeBob SquarePants-themed cars, finishing third and fifth respectively behind race winner Mike Bliss. The network also brought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Atlanta Motor Speedway last September. Conversely, NASCAR stars have taken part in plenty of Nickelodeon programming in recent years, including the Kids' Choice Awards (Danica Patrick, 2012 and 2013), Kids' Choice Sports Awards (Danica Patrick, 2014), Team Umizoomi (Jeff Gordon, 2012), Hammer Down (2014). Johnson is slated to appear in an episode of the Nick Jr. show Bubble Guppies this year. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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.
See where each driver finished at Kansas and why RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Editor's note: Drivers in italics are in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup 1. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske Under the first caution flag, Logano lost seven positions on pit road. But he took four tires instead of two, and the strategy worked out for the No. 22. Logano's pit crew remained one of the best in the series, topping the charts for fastest pit stop on both the first green-flag stop and the stops that cycled through under caution on Laps 160-163. Their speed, combined with the speed of the No. 22 Ford they put together, puts Logano firmly into the next round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Get more pit data with RaceView. 2. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing As his Target Chevrolet pulled in to pit road following the race, Larson held up his thumb and index finger an inch apart. The rookie was that close to his first NASCAR premier series win, and with each race seems to be getting closer. But he was just short of Logano in the Hollywood Casino 400 -- in speed, on pit road, and when crossing the checkered flag. Get more pit data with RaceView. 3. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing If you asked, based on statistics, which Chase drivers would be least likely to perform well at Kansas , Kyle Busch may have been the top answer. But after winning the Nationwide Series race, the No. 18 driver came ready for a Chase race at one of his least favorite tracks knowing he could conquer it. With several contenders wrecking early in the race, Busch's third-place finish puts him in a great position to advance in the Chase. See what he had to say after the race. 4. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing Are things finally turning around for the Furniture Row Racing team that has seen so much bad luck this year? Truex crossed the start/finish line at the end of the race to earn his first top-five of the year. The turnaround comes much too late in the season to have a big impact on this year, but finishing out the year with a proven strategy can help 2015 look more promising for the one-car team. 5. Carl Edwards , No. 99 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing Edwards finished just where he should have in the Hollywood Casino 400 . Both his average lap time and average speed were fifth-fastest among the competitors, precisely where he wound up. He'll head to Charlotte in third place in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. Get more driver data with RaceView. 6. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing Newman's six laps led at Kansas Speedway tied his second-most this season. He's only had more laps out front once, at Michigan in August, when he led 14 laps. His last two finishes have been top-10s, and if he extends that stretch next week, he'll have his best streak of top-10s this season. 7. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing Hamlin reported over the radio just after the race was halfway completed that there was fire underneath his dashboard. His team advised him to turn off the switches to see if that would help the problem. It must have, because Hamlin continued to pilot the No. 11 into the top 10, putting him 11 points behind round leader Joey Logano heading into Charlotte. Get more in-race audio with RaceView. 8. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing Dillon's accomplishments seem often overshadowed by those of fellow rookie Kyle Larson . But Dillon's top-10 is also impressive, given that the rookie was competing for positions against drivers competing for a title. Dillon started 16th, and drove a nearly flawless race to bring the No. 3 home with its fourth top-10 of the season. 9. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing Rounding out a strong day for RCR, Menard followed the team's rookie past the checkered flag to put all three cars in the top 10. After brushing the wall, Menard needed some repair to the right side, but was able to get the work done in 38.2 seconds, only losing two positions. The top-10 is Menard's 12th of the season, and a significant improvement over his 17th-place finish at Kansas earlier in the year. Get more pit data with RaceView. 10. Brian Vickers , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing Vickers started the Hollywood Casino 400 on the front row, but couldn't make the inside line work and fell back quickly. He moved all the way back to 21st by Lap 105, and continued his onward march forward until the checkered flag fell on his ninth top-10 of the season. 11. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing It was hard for Allmendinger to miss the first cut of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by only a couple of points in last week's elimination at Dover. It must be even harder to know that now, as Allemendinger finished ahead of most of the drivers still in contention for the Chase this week at Kansas . 12. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing Once again, a good day went bad for Harvick. He had led 47 laps when he thought he lost a right front tire. Turns out his tires were OK, but the unscheduled trip to pit road was followed by a caution, and the driver apologizing to his team after learning they would be three laps short of fuel. Thanks to several other drivers seeing tire issues, Harvick's 12th-place run puts him in sixth place in the Chase standings, 15 points behind leader Joey Logano . Get in-race driver audio with RaceView. 13. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing After seeing several other drivers suffer tire issues, Kenseth and his team decided to bring the No. 20 down to pit road under green as a reaction to a vibration. Unfortunately for the Joe Gibbs Racing crew, a caution flag came out not much later. The No. 20 took the wave-around, restarting 22nd. "A lot of adversity today, way to fight through it," crew chief Jason Ratcliff said as Kenseth passed the start/finish line. Get in-race driver audio with RaceView. 14. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports "It's just not our day, is it?" Gordon asked over the radio during the Hollywood Casino 400 . A loose tire that rolled off of pit road and into the infield brought Gordon back to pit road as a penalty. But as his Hendrick Motorsports teammates know, it could have been much worse. "Well we're going to have to do better than that guys," Gordon said to his team after the race. He's currently in the final position to make the next round of the Chase. Get in-race driver audio with RaceView. 15. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing After a bottleneck caused by Jeff Gordon and Jamie McMurray , Biffle got into the back of Jimmie Johnson and sent the pair of them spinning on Lap 85. Biffle was able to keep the No. 16 out of the wall, preventing any serious damage, and his team was able to get him back on track and keep him on the lead lap. That is, until a Lap 229 caution sent Biffle sliding along the wall. Get more pit data with RaceView. 16. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing It must feel like a successful day if you beat your boss, but Patrick's finish at Kansas was something of a disappointment when considering her top-10 finish at the track earlier this year. Patrick is yet to score a top-five finish, and with her seventh-place run in the books, Kansas would've been a natural place to earn it. Compared to her qualifying effort of 29th, however, 16th place is a big improvement. 17. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing Despite starting in the top 10, Stewart was a lap down when the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 hit the wall. The team's boss would get the free pass, getting Stewart's No. 14 back on the lead lap. Stewart hasn't had a top-10 finish since stepping away from racing in the wake of Kevin Ward Jr.'s death. Perhaps as the season's end nears and as the healing process continues, Stewart will return to championship form. 18. Clint Bowyer , No 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing It wasn't very long into the Hollywood Casino 400 when the No. 15 went down a lap. Not long after, on Lap 70, a caution put Bowyer right back at the end of the lead lap. He'd do his best to move forward, especially on restarts, but couldn't get much done. A bit of damage in the wreck on Lap 85 didn't help, and Bowyer would end his first race as a dad mired in the middle of the pack. 19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing It's been two weeks in a row where Stenhouse has finished in 19th. However, the driver took the blame for an early mistake that put the No. 17 team two laps down, making the lead-lap finish something they had to work for. Stenhouse's takeaway was that the team is gaining every week, so we'll see how the Roush Fenway Racing team fares in the coming weeks. 20. Marcos Ambrose , No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports Now that Ambrose knows his time in NASCAR is limited, it seems a burden has been lifted off of him. He spent several laps in the top 10 at Kansas , earning his 15th top-20 finish of the season and improving on his earlier Kansas finish of 24th. He may have ruffled some feathers, however, making contact with Greg Biffle before the driver hit the wall. 21. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Racing Cassill's 21st-place finish at Kansas was his third-best of the season, and best finish since May at Talladega. Cassill started in 35th, making his way up as high as 18th in the Hollywood Casino 400 . He finished 42nd at Kansas earlier this year. 22. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports The Hendrick Motorsports driver held the lead on the Lap 166 restart, but couldn't hold off the speed of Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano , barely keeping the front position as the pack passed the green flag. He'd bang the wall several times on Lap 235, spending over a minute and a half on pit road for damages, finishing the race two laps down and falling 25 points behind Joey Logano in the Chase standings. Get more pit data with RaceView. 23. Cole Whitt , No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing Despite finishing the race three laps down, Whitt earned his best finish since visiting Pocono in August, where he ended the race in 21st. He improved 16 positions on his starting spot of 39th, making him the third biggest mover of the Hollywood Casino 400 . Get more in-race driver stats with RaceView. 24. Michael Annett , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing With 3 DNFs in the past eight races, Annett has seen some difficult competitions. Yet when he has a good car, he shows he can do a lot with it -- he has 10 top-25 finishes this season, yet an average finish of 29.3, showing the inconsistency of the team. They should see potential, however, in the fact that their driver had the seventh-most positions gained with 12. Get more in-race driver stats with RaceView. 25. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing After starting 14th, Jamie McMurray took the lead from Kevin Harvick on Lap 44. "I have a weird noise in here, like a tire's coming apart," McMurray reported on Lap 50. A caution on Lap 70 would give the No. 1 team a chance to reinforce a side panel and still get their driver back out in first, but he couldn't hold on to the front spot. Continuous troubles left the McDriver finishing laps down after 27 laps led. Get in-race driver audio with RaceView. 26. Reed Sorenson , No. 36 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing With an average finish of 30.4, Sorenson should be more than satisfied with a finish of 26th. His earlier outing at Kansas resulted in a 32nd-place finish, though some of the positions gained can be attributed to bad luck by some of the series' top drivers. 27. David Ragan , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports His best finish since visiting Atlanta Motor Speedway five races earlier, Ragan's 27th-place effort is more impressive when considering his starting position of 37th. He also started in 37th last week at Dover, but was only able to earn a 31st-place finish. 28. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing Mears' outing at Kansas was mediocre at best. Despite several drivers ahead of him spending time in the garage and giving up positions, Mears finished two places behind where he started, five laps down. 29. J.J. Yeley, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing With his first effort in the 20s, Yeley earned his best finish of the season at Kansas . He qualified in 38th, giving him nine positions gained in the race -- 11th-best in the race. Get more in-race driver stats with RaceView. 30. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports Improving seven positions from his earlier trip to Kansas Speedway , Gilliland put down a performance perfectly in line with his average finish of 30.8. 31. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports Almirola's trip to the Chase was short lived, but even if he had made it to the second round, his performance at Kansas certainly would have made it difficult to go any farther. He qualified third, but by Lap 120 fell to 35th and would spend the rest of the race battling to get back up the pack. Unfortunately, he wouldn't get far. 32. Alex Bowman , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing After an initial fall from 33rd to 40th, Bowman would lead a steady charge for track position, making his way up to 32nd. His finish is right on par with his average for the season, which is 32.1. 33. Timmy Hill , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport In his eight starts, Hill has four DNFs, making even just a finish an achievement for the team. It was even better this weekend at Kansas , however; his 33rd-place effort is his best of the season. 34. Mike Wallace , No. 66 Toyota, Jay Robinson Racing In his third start of the season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Wallace tied his season-best finish, a 34th-place finish at Loudon. However, he did so this time with his worst starting position of the season, 43rd. 35. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing What goes around, comes around didn't seem to work for McDowell at Kansas Sunday. Despite working to help get debris off both the No. 22 and No. 41 grilles, McDowell was showered in unfortunate incidents, including contact with the wall and a pit road speeding penalty. He wasn't able to come back from it, finishing several positions off of his average of 30.7. 36. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske Keselowski also fell victim to a right-front tire issue. "Damn, my steering wheel's almost straight," Keselowski commented to his team over the radio. The No. 2 team brought the car down pit road on Lap 149 hoping to fix the Miller Lite Ford, but the damage was too much, and they became the third Chase contender to head to the garage in the first race of the second round. He sits in 10th in the Chase standings, 39 points behind teammate Joey Logano . Get more in-race driver audio with RaceView. 37. Joey Gase , No. 32 Ford, Go FAS Racing Gase was able to say he beat drivers like Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr . in only his second Sprint Cup Series start. It could have been even better had he not spun out between Turns 3 and 4, sending him several laps off the leader's pace. 38. Josh Wise , No. 98 Chevrolet, Phil Parsons Racing Though he saw the least damage, Wise got caught up in the Lap 85 wreck as Justin Allgaier got turned into his path. The incident follows a disappointing week at Dover International Speedway , where Wise suffered a DNF due to a suspension issue. Before these last two weeks, Wise had a 12-race stretch of finishing better than he had started. Let's hope that these two bad races were an anomaly and not the new trend. 39. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports After leading 45 laps, Earnhardt Jr. lost a right front tire and took a hard hit into the wall. The driver was fine -- "I'm happy about that," he said over the radio, noting the significant force with which he hit the wall -- but the No. 88 headed to the garage. If there's a silver lining in the incident, it was the way Junior handled the damage, complimenting his team for the solid race car they provided instead of lamenting the damage. He'd make it back to the track on Lap 181, but is second-to-last in the Chase standings. Get more in-race driver audio with RaceView. 40. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports Johnson's starting position of 32nd tied his worst of the season in the season-opener at Daytona. He finished fifth in that race and was moving up in the field this time when contact from Greg Biffle sent the six-time champion into the path of Justin Allgaier , and later the wall. As the worst finisher in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup's Contender Round, Johnson will have to do some serious work in the next two races to keep himself in title contention. "We've got to be on our game at Charlotte and Talladega," Johnson said as members of his and other Hendrick crews worked on the No. 48 in the garage. He's in last place among Chase contenders. Get more in-race driver audio with RaceView. 41. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports Allgaier's involvement in the Lap 85 wreck sent the No. 51 to the garage after what looked to be a solid run by the team. He was running 24th when the incident happened, but couldn't make it any higher than 40th while dealing with the aftermath -- a damaged car. 42. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing In the opening laps of the race, Kurt Busch couldn't find a car to help him get debris off the grille of his No. 41 Chevrolet. After several laps of monitoring the water temperature and pressure, the team gave it one more shot. "Let me know if it drops," crew chief Daniel Knost said. "If it doesn't, we need to pit." Things went from bad to worse when Busch was issued a speeding violation and had to serve a pass-through penalty. He'd restart in 42nd, and later hit the wall on Lap 78 due to a tire rub, sending him to the garage and ending his day. Get more in-race driver audio with RaceView. 43. Mike Bliss , No. 37 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing Out of Bliss' seven starts in the Sprint Cup Series this season, five have been DNFs. He only completed 17 laps of the Hollywood Casino 400 , which, unfortunately, is not a low -- he only completed six laps in July at Loudon. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceVie FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Catch up quickly before Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) RELATED: Race lineup " Full Chase coverage MORE: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize What: 14th annual Hollywood Casino 400 Where: Kansas Speedway , Kansas City, Kansas When: Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014 TV/Radio: ESPN, Motor Racing Network Time: 2 p.m. ET Distance: 267 laps (400.5 miles) Pit road speed: 45 mph Caution car speed: 55 mph On the front row " FULL LINEUP 1. Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (197.621 mph*) 2. Brian Vickers , Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 Toyota (196.307 mph) *In the second round of group qualifying, Harvick set a track record of 197.773 mph. The previous track record was 194.252 mph, set by Harvick earlier this year. Pole cat Friday's pole was the eighth of the season for Harvick. Prior to this year, the Bakersfield, California, native had six career poles in 466 attempts. Playing catch-up Six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson spun his No. 48 Chevrolet during the first round of qualifying ( watch the video here ) and as a result will start 32nd. It's the deepest he has started in the field this year, equaling his starting spot for the season-opening Daytona 500 . Fastest in practice First practice: Jeff Gordon , Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet (196.257 mph) Second practice: Marcos Ambrose , Richard Petty Motorsports No. 9 Ford (191.652 mph) Final practice: Kyle Larson , Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet (190.295 mph) Defending Hollywood Casino 400 champion Kevin Harvick Tough day at the office Two drivers, Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman , brought out the caution flag for separate incidents during Saturday's final practice. Busch lost the handle on his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet and spun through the infield grass. Damage to the front end of the car was significant enough for the team to bring out its backup for Sunday's race. Bowman (BK Racing) made contact with the wall later in the session. Driver rating (Best driver rating average at Kansas Speedway based on past nine years) Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (117.4) Matt Kenseth , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota (107.4) Greg Biffle , Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Ford (104.7) They said it "It's fast enough that I don't want to have to do that again the rest of the day." -- Three-time Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart , who qualified ninth. "Our cars just don't have any speed. Balance is fine, just three-tenths, four-tenths off consistently. All of our cars are." -- Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin "We still have a lot to race for. We can get as high as fifth in points and that should be our goal, to get as high in points as we can." -- No. 3 qualifier Aric Almirola , Richard Petty Motorsports. Almirola was eliminated from the Chase in the Challenger Round. Former Kansas winners in the field Jeff Gordon (3); Greg Biffle , Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson , Matt Kenseth (2); Brad Keselowski , Ryan Newman , Denny Hamlin , Kevin Harvick . Fantasy sleeper (courtesy of RotoWire) Kasey Kahne . The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet just comes to life on certain tracks, and this outing at Kansas should be no different. Kahne is battling some bad luck of late, but looking to change his fortunes this week. Considering he made the next round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by the slimmest of margins, he should kick it in high gear. He owns three career poles and 100 laps led at Kansas , and four of his last six trips to Kansas have netted a pair of runner-up finishes and top-fives. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Pair of non-Chasers lead the way; Kurt Busch damages No. 41 Chevy RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize MORE: Practice 3 results " Race lineup Kyle Larson was again fast in the final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas , on Saturday. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver topped the leaderboard in the last practice session of the weekend after placing fourth and third in the first two, respectively. Larson's best speed of 190.295 mph was enough to top pole-winner and defending race-winner Kevin Harvick 's lap of 189.607 mph. Harvick was trailed by a trio of fellow Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers in Kasey Kahne (189.215 mph), Ryan Newman (189.102 mph) and Kyle Busch (189.069 mph). Jeff Gordon (188.818 mph) and Joey Logano (188.805 mph) were the only other Chase drivers in the top 10, at eighth and ninth, respectively. Jimmie Johnson (188.081 mph), who will start Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) 32nd after spinning during qualifying, and Matt Kenseth (187.806 mph) were the lowest-running Chase drivers at 21st and 25th, respectively. With just less than 40 minutes remaining in practice, the session was red-flagged when Kurt Busch spun off Turn 1 and ended up in the infield grass. He placed 31st in the session with a best speed of 186.419 mph in five laps and will go to a backup car for the race. MORE: Practice 2 results Marcos Ambrose topped Saturday's first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Kansas Speedway . Ambrose, the Richard Petty Motorsports driver who recently announced plans to return to his native Australia following the conclusion of the season, led the way in the early session with a best speed of 191.652. The driver of he No. 9 was followed by a pair of Chip Ganassi Racing drivers in Jamie McMurray (191.584) and Kyle Larson (191.096), both of whom have enjoyed a successful start to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, despite both of them not having qualified for it. Carl Edwards was the first Chase driver on the board at fourth overall, with a best speed of 191.076 mph. His Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr . followed in fifth with a speed of 190.914 mph. The only Chase driver other than Edwards in the top 10 was Ryan Newman (190.235 mph), at eighth overall. Spots 11 through 17 saw six Chasers, in Kyle Busch (190.007, 11th), Joey Logano (189.980, 12th), pole-winner Kevin Harvick (189.947), Kasey Kahne (189.840, 14th), the most recent winner in Jeff Gordon (189.667, 16th) and defending series champion Jimmie Johnson (189.500, 17th). Johnson's Kansas weekend struggles continued slightly, as he piloted the No. 48 Chevrolet to an uncharacteristic 17th-place on the speed charts after spending most of the penultimate practice in the lower third of the charts. He spun during qualifying on Friday and will start 32nd on Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN). Denny Hamlin was the Chase driver with the slowest practice speed, clocking in at 188.653 mph, 28th overall. Final Kansas practice begins Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET, with coverage on FOX Sports 2. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Sprint Cup Series lays first rubber on track after rainy morning; Nationwide Series has practices combined RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today NATIONWIDE SERIES PRACTICE " RESULTS Ryan Blaney topped the leaderboard in the lone Nationwide Series practice session, putting the No. 22 Team Penske Ford in the first position with a lap of 180.048 mph. Rookies Chris Buescher and Ty Dillon were close behind but couldn't top the 180 mph mark, taking second and third with laps of 179.880 and 179.456, respectively. Buescher ran the most laps of the session with 55, but scored his best lap in the Roush Fenway Racing Ford on his 27th turn around the track. Kyle Busch and Trevor Bayne completed the top five. Busch took the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota for a spin earlier in the session, but kept it out of the wall, preventing any major damage. After some adjustments in the garage, Busch was able to move his ride up towards the top of the leaderboard. Dakoda Armstrong also faced issues handling his No. 43, spinning in Turns 2 and 3 to bring out a caution flag during practice, ending the session in 23rd. Points leader Chase Elliott 's best effort of 178.743 mph put his No. 9 Chevrolet in the 13th position on the leaderboard. His closest competition for the series title, teammate Regan Smith , was just behind in 16th place with a lap of 178.171 mph. After the first scheduled practice was canceled due to rain Friday morning, the second session -- originally slated to run from 3 to 4:20 p.m. ET -- was extended to a 4 to 5:30 p.m. ET practice. Qualifying is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, with coverage on FOX Sports 2. The Kansas Lottery 300 will follow at 3:30 p.m. ET, and will be televised on ESPN. SPRINT CUP SERIES PRACTICE 1 " RESULTS After a rainy morning at Kansas Speedway , the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series went out on schedule to lay rubber onto the clean track. Chase contender Jeff Gordon topped the leaderboard with a fastest lap of 196.257 mph, followed by Kevin Harvick , whose lap of 196.178 mph showed the No. 4 will once again be one of the fastest cars on the track. Gordon and Harvick are both defending winners at the track, with Gordon winning the May race at Kansas Speedway and Harvick winning the fall race last year. Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola , who were both eliminated from the Chase after last weekend's race at Dover International Speedway , practiced as though they were still in contention, both placing inside the top 10, with Biffle's lap of 195.730 mph placing him third on the leaderboard. Almirola ended the session in ninth. Kyle Larson was fourth-fastest, with fellow rookie Austin Dillon in rounding out the top five. Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Ryan Newman were the only drivers among the remaining Chase competitors to place in the top 10, finishing seventh, eighth and 10th, respectively. Team Penske drivers Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski , both winners in the Challenger Round of the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format, were 12th-fastest and 18th-fastest, respectively. Among the other Chase contenders, Jimmie Johnson was 14th-fastest, Carl Edwards was 21st-fastest and Kyle Busch 25th-fastest, with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver at the bottom of the leaderboard among the post-season players. Qualifying for the Hollywood Casino 400 is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. ET on ESPN2. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Sixth series win of the year for 'Rowdy' RELATED: Complete race results " Updated series standings KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Kyle Busch won the lottery on Saturday afternoon -- the Kansas Lottery 300 , to be precise. But it must have seemed like a huge jackpot for the driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, who won a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kansas Speedway for the first time since 2007. "Whoo! We won at Kansas ," Busch radioed as he crossed the start/finish line, with as much relief as elation in his voice. It took Busch 19 laps after a restart on Lap 161 to catch and pass runner-up Kevin Harvick . On Lap 180, Busch ducked down to the apron near the start/finish line and powered past Harvick into the lead. From that point, Busch pulled away for his sixth Nationwide Series victory of the season and the 69th of his career, extending his own series record. The Kansas drought broken, Busch was already thinking about Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 , the first race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup's Contender Round. Never having scored a top-five in a Cup race at Kansas , Busch will start seventh Sunday. "You learn enough here -- there was a bit of moving around today and trying to run bottom and trying to run top and seeing where the different lines were in traffic and stuff like that," Busch said. "I feel like our Cup car is OK. If we can get out of here with a top-10 day tomorrow that would be pretty good. "Great effort by (crew chief) Adam (Stevens) and all the guys on this 54 car -- it was really awesome again today and should have won at Chicago just like we did here today. Missed out there, but we just keep doing things right, and you end up in Victory Lane, so you have to have it all match up for you." Harvick had winning chances because his crew chief, Ernie Cope, played a contrarian pit strategy to perfection and got some help from a timely caution. Harvick was the only lead-lap driver to bring his car to pit road under the seventh caution on Lap 91, and that put him in position to wait out a cycle of green-flag stops with roughly 60 laps left. With all other lead-lap cars pitting between Laps 136 and 141, Harvick was the only car on the lead lap when Dakoda Armstrong 's spin brought out the eighth caution. Busch, who was leading before the cycle of stops began, got the free pass as the highest scored lapped car, and the rest of the lead-lappers took wave-arounds after Harvick pitted for fuel. Harvick led the field to green on Lap 153 but couldn't keep Busch at bay on longer runs. "They gave us a good opportunity with strategy there, (but) the 54 was quite a bit better as we got going into the run," Harvick said. "We could hold him off for a short run, but in the end his car would maintain speed, and ours would slow down. "We just got beat there today, but that happens." The race dealt a crushing blow to Regan Smith 's championship hopes. Smith spun and backed into the wall during qualifying earlier in the day and was forced to start from the rear of the field in a backup car. On Lap 140, the sway bar arm on Smith's No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet broke, and lost seven laps getting it fixed. Smith finished 22nd and is now 38 points behind teammate Chase Elliott in the series standings. Ty Dillon, third in the championship battle, ran fifth Saturday and is 40 points behind Elliott, who finished 10th, with four races left in the season. "Any time you have to roll a backup car out two hours before a race, you have to expect anything to happen," said Smith, who just re-signed for another year with JR Motorsports’ Nationwide program. "My guys did a great job of getting the car ready to where we could get to the grid with it, much less be competitive for the first stage of the race. "We fought with it. It's kind of what we anticipated for the day and at this point -- obviously disappointed. It's been a long year." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Earnhardt Jr., others pulling for MLB's Royals RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . is a fan of the Kansas City Royals baseball team, which might come as a surprise given the geographical distance between Kansas City and Mooresville, North Carolina. A dedicated Washington Redskins fan on the gridiron, Earnhardt Jr. keeps tabs on the Royals because of a friendship forged by KC manager Ned Yost and Earnhardt Jr.'s father, seven-time NASCAR premier series champion Dale Earnhardt. Yost and the elder Earnhardt hunted together, and Yost attended races as a guest of the Richard Childress Racing team while he was working with the Atlanta Braves. The manager, who wears No. 3 on his uniform out of respect for Earnhardt, has followed Junior's career through the years, even staying up late to watch this year's rain-delayed Daytona 500 won by Earnhardt Jr. "I read a couple of articles where he said he was real pleased with how we did in Daytona," Earnhardt Jr. said Friday at Kansas Speedway , site of Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (ESPN, 2 p.m. ET). "Knowing his friendship with my dad, it's pretty cool that he is watching me. That meant a really good deal to me. "He is a genuine guy with a genuine appreciation and friendship with my father. It means a lot to me that he follows me still to this day and I want to see him do well as much." The Royals are in the playoffs for the first time since 1985. Tuesday night, they defeated the Oakland A's in an American League wild-card matchup. On Thursday, they beat the Angels in Game 1 of the AL Division Series. Both victories came in extra innings. The series moves to Kansas City this weekend, with Game 3 in the best of 5 series slated for Sunday night -- not long after Earnhardt Jr. and his fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers wrap up the opening race in the Contender Round of this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. "I have seen him in different circles," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said of Yost. "He has been on iRacing (a simulated racing series) a little bit over the last several years, (I've) seen him on there. "Just different things, but we don't really have consistent contact with each other, but there is a mutual respect for sure." Roush Fenway Racing driver Carl Edwards spent time with the Royals earlier this year, throwing out the first pitch when the team hosted Tampa Bay in April. "We actually had an (invitation) to Ned Yost to come out there to the … track but we are glad he can't because of all their success," Edwards said. It's been a huge week for fans of Kansas City sports teams. In addition to the Royals' success, the Kansas Chiefs are coming off a huge win over the New England Patriots in Monday night's NFL matchup. Edwards, Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray all hail from the region, and Bowyer said it would be huge if a local driver could pick up the win Sunday. "Look at the story line that Kansas City has had this week -- if somehow a Kansas City driver could win this race, that would be unbelievable," the Michael Waltrip Racing driver said. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation