Full coverage of tragedy, ensuing events Sept. 29: Stewart answers questions publicly Tony Stewart takes questions from media for first time since tragedy, reiterating it was an accident and talking about future. " Read the full story " Full transcript of press conference Sept. 26: Drivers at Dover react to Stewart news Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick share thoughts on grand jury decision " Read the full story Sept. 26: Stewart on his sprint car future Tony Stewart tells The Associated Press that he may not race sprint cars again. " Read the full story Sept. 26: Stewart speaks on ruling In his first interview since the grand jury's ruling, Tony Stewart gives his reaction and tells The Associated Press 'this was 100 percent an accident.' " Read the full story Sept. 25: Hurdles remain for Stewart on and off the track Kenny Bruce column: Three-time champion has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing but life remains far from the same. " Read the full story Sept. 24: No charges against Stewart A grand jury deliberated for less than an hour and determined there would be no indictment for Tony Stewart . " Read the full story Sept. 24: Stewart releases statement In a statement released after the grand jury findings, Tony Stewart reiterated his thoughts are with the family of Kevin Ward Jr. " Read the full story Sept. 24: NASCAR statement on Stewart decision Brett Jewkes, NASCAR Chief Communications Officer, on Ontario (N.Y.) County District Attorney announcement. " Read the full story Sept. 16: Ontario County D.A. to send evidence to grand jury The Ontario County (New York) District Attorney will send evidence from the Kevin Ward Jr.- Tony Stewart investigation to a grand jury. The evidence will be presented in "the near future." " Read the full story Sept. 11: Investigation into Ward's death complete The Ontario County (New York) Office of the Sheriff announced that the investigation into the death of Kevin Ward Jr. has been complete. " Read the full story Aug. 31: Stewart exits after blown tire Tony Stewart's return to the track came to an early end after a blown tire finished his night at Atlanta Motor Speedway . " Read the full story Aug. 30: Sponsor issues statement of support for Stewart Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, released a statement of support for Tony Stewart on Saturday. Bass Pro Shops serves as a primary sponsor for Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet. " Read the full story Aug. 29: Stewart addresses media at Atlanta Tony Stewart addressed the media for the first time since the tragic sprint car incident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park . " Read the full story Aug. 29: Helton: Stewart eligible for Chase NASCAR President Mike Helton said that if Tony Stewart wins one of the final two regular-season races, then he would be eligible to make the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff. " Read the full story Aug. 29: Harvick, Danica react to Stewart's return Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick , two of Tony Stewart 's teammates at Stewart-Haas Racing, are glad to have him back at the track and will be there for their friend and team co-owner. " Read the full story Aug. 29: Investigation still ongoing Ontario County (New York) Sheriff Philip Povero released a statement Friday, saying the investigation into the death of Kevin Ward Jr. is at least two weeks away from concluding. " Read the full statement Aug. 28: Stewart will return at Atlanta After missing three races following the tragic sprint car accident involving Kevin Ward Jr., Tony Stewart announced he will return to the track this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway . " Read the full story Aug. 25: Zipadelli, SHR go on without Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Vice President of Competition Greg Zipadelli doesn't know when Tony Stewart will return, but he is grateful for the impact Jeff Burton has had on the No. 14 team. " Read the full story Aug. 20: Stewart out for Bristol Tony Stewart will not race at Bristol and will once again be replaced by Jeff Burton in the No. 14 Chevrolet. " Read the full story Aug. 15: Team: Decision on when to return is Stewart's Stewart-Haas Racing Executive Vice President Brett Frood told reporters that when Stewart returns to the No. 14 is up to the driver, who is currently grieving along with support of family and friends. " Read the full story Aug. 19: Joe Gibbs speaks on Stewart Joe Gibbs won two titles and 33 races with Tony Stewart from 1999-2008. The team owner was asked about 'Smoke' on Tuesday, and Gibbs explained why the driver is so important to the sport. " Read the full story Aug. 17: Harvick: '(Stewart) will stay strong and fight' Following his second-place effort at Michigan, Kevin Harvick talked about the difficult week that Stewart-Haas Racing has had. " Read the full story Aug. 15: Burton to fill in for Stewart at Michigan Sprint Cup veteran Jeff Burton has been called up by SHR to drive the No. 14 at Michigan as Stewart continues to grieve the loss of Ward. " Read the full story Aug. 14: Stewart out for Michigan Tony Stewart will not race at Michigan in the Pure Michigan 400 . Instead, 21-time Cup winner Jeff Burton will fill-in in the No. 14 Chevrolet. " Read the full story Aug. 12: Racing or not, Stewart will not forget Ward Kenny Bruce column: Fatal incident at dirt track will stay with three-time champion. " Read the full story Aug. 11: Stewart cancels plans to race on dirt Tony Stewart will not race at Plymouth Speedway on Saturday night, August 16, the Indiana dirt track announced in a statement. " Read the full story Aug. 10: SHR: Stewart will not race at Watkins Glen Tony Stewart will not race in the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen after an incident Saturday night at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. " Read the full story Aug. 10: NASCAR statement on Kevin Ward Jr., Tony Stewart Sanctioning body offers thoughts and prayers to family of deceased. " Read the full story Aug. 10: Sheriff news conference details Stewart incident Ontario County (New York) Sheriff Philip C. Povero comments on events at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. " Read the full story Aug. 10: Smith to drive for Stewart at Watkins Glen Regan Smith will pilot the No. 14 as Tony Stewart will not race Sunday at Watkins Glen after an incident Saturday night at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. " Watch the video Aug. 10: Statement from Stewart on fatal accident Three-time Sprint Cup champ: 'There aren't words to describe the sadness I feel...' " Read the statement Aug. 10: Further Stewart investigation details revealed Sheriff Philip Povero offered more info regarding the investigation. " Read the full story Aug. 10: Smith shares struggles of filling in for Stewart Stewart's fill-in Regan Smith speaks out on his day at the Glen and the challenges of racing the No. 14. " Read the full story Aug. 10: Allmendinger offers tribute to fallen racer Drivers react to Stewart incident, Allmendinger sends thoughts and prayers to family, Stewart. " Read the full story Aug. 9: Stewart involved in fatal sprint car accident The three-time Sprint Cup Series champion was racing at Canandaigua Motorsports Park when an incident he was involved in left another driver with fatal injuries. " Read the full story
Matthew Dillner and Kenny Bruce preview the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway and the first elimination race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Alan Cavanna and Kenny Bruce bring you all the latest information prior to the Sylvanina 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
No. 11's disappointment leads to terse exchange with crew chief RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota LOUDON, N.H. -- Denny Hamlin 's high hopes for New Hampshire and the rest of the Challenger Round in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup took a damaging blow Sunday afternoon with a double-dose of misfortune that knocked him from contention. After leading 32 laps early, Hamlin faded a handful of laps down with a fuel pick-up issue that required multiple pit stops for repairs. After logging laps in hopes of bringing his Joe Gibbs Racing entry home, he was caught up in a multi-car wreck in the 179th of 300 laps, crumpling the right-front corner of his No. 11 Toyota and sending the team scrambling to fix the damage. The finish near the tail end of the running order pushed Hamlin out from the ranks of the top 12 drivers who will advance to the Contender Round, the next three-race cut in the 10-race Chase postseason. With just one race left -- next weekend at Dover International Speedway -- to avoid elimination, Hamlin may be scrambling again at the Monster Mile. "It's so frustrating because you know on performance you deserve to move on," Hamlin said in the garage area before the race's end. "We would have a great shot to move on and really make some noise here in these last eight races, but in this three-race section, you just can't have one bad week -- not right now. You've got to be flawless, you've got to be at your best these last 10 and we just got bit by a mechanical deal. We've had them bite us in Chases in the past, and I thought we were past that, but sometimes you roll the dice and you crap out. Today's that day for us." Hamlin started second in the 43-car field and made his way to the lead after early leader Brad Keselowski was shuffled back during the first round of pit stops. Even after losing the lead to Kevin Harvick on a long green-flag run, it was still smooth sailing until he was forced to pit under green in the 96th lap. "We're not getting fuel in the car; just barely," Hamlin was told of the need for the early stop. "What do you mean we’re not getting fuel in the car?" he responded. The problem was eventually diagnosed as an issue with the fuel probe, which impeded the flow of gas into the No. 11's tank. During the next caution period, starting in the 105th lap, a lengthy stay on pit road forced Hamlin to return to the race four laps back of the leader in 37th place. During the interminably long stop, Hamlin vented: "We suck at this. We are so bad." That led to a testy reply from crew chief Darian Grubb: "Dude, I don't need you doing this. Keep your mouth shut until we get this fixed." After a cooling-off period while his crew worked, Hamlin didn't assign blame but lamented the turn of events that dramatically altered his Chase outlook. "I don't think it was anyone's fault, I don't think, but we couldn't get fuel in it from the get-go," Hamlin said. "Don't know where that's coming from or what it's all about, but you just can't have any mistakes in this three-race Chase deal. We went from looking pretty and probably going to coast our way to the next round to a long shot at best. So it's frustrating, but what can you do about it? You really can't do anything about it, obviously. You've just got to suck it up, move on and try to do the best you can next week." Hamlin was already well removed from victory contention when he was snared in a crash ahead of him, adding another wrinkle to an already disappointing day. Hamlin was unable to avoid the stalled and crippled car of David Ragan , skidding into the melee and forcing him to take the car behind the wall. Now the pressure turns to Dover , a demanding track where Hamlin has twice captured the Coors Light Pole Award, but has finished no better than fourth. Hamlin said his team's approach won't necessarily change, but that he'll need performance and luck on his side. "You just try to do the best you can to get the best finish and hope for some help," Hamlin said as the race continued without him. "I mean, there's a long way to go in this race, and I hate to say it, but maybe some guys have some trouble and let us back in it. Other than that, it's going to be hard for us to do it without some help." Contributing: Kenny Bruce 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
Panel of experts debate that and more as the roundtable returns RELATED: Play Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota 1. OK folks, the field of 16 for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has been determined. Looking at this year's roster, is there a favorite in the field? Alan Cavanna: I filled out my Chase Grid (like I hope you have, print a blank one out here) -- and started with my champion, Jeff Gordon . Huge year, fast speed, and the sense that the driver from the late '90s is back. Brad Norman: I'm not so sure there is a "favorite," but there's definitely a group of "favorites." That would be the Team Penske duo and the three heavyweights at Hendrick Motorsports – sorry, Kasey Kahne . Throw in Kevin Harvick , if he gets the pit-road problems cleaned up with a new over-the-wall crew. I can't imagine a scenario in which the final four drivers at Homestead don't come from that group. Kenny Bruce : For the first time in, well, a long time, I don't think you can assume that Jimmie Johnson is a clear-cut favorite. The No. 48 team started the season slower than many expected, caught fire at mid-season but has been "average" (for them) recently. Cavanna: OK fellas, I'm the only one going out on a limb with a solid pick. C'mon now. Norman: True, Alan. If forced to pick one, I'd go with top-seeded Brad Keselowski . He's back to form, he's got a great strategist in Paul Wolfe calling the shots and the Team Penske cars have been phenomenal on those intermediate-type ovals. Of which there are five in the postseason. Bruce : I'll lean toward Alan on the Gordon pick, but I've got to give props to 2012 champ Keselowski as well. The No. 2 team has been pretty stout of late, and that momentum's got to be worth something. Cavanna: I understand though. The four drivers in the Championship Round aren't necessarily the four "best." They're the three winners, and the most consistent. A great driver will be left out of the championship race at Homestead. Norman: One thing that's most interesting about Keselowski is that Joey Logano is one of his biggest challengers. They share a garage, share info. After Logano won at Bristol and Keselowski finished second, Bad Brad was asked about how those two will continue to share info during the Chase -- and it was a topic the 2012 champion was reluctant to discuss. Bruce : I think it's interesting that Gordon and Keselowski probably feel as if they have something to prove. Keselowski for not making the Chase last year and Gordon for not winning a title in the Chase-era. And I'm not sure how much you can compare 2013 to this season, but Mr. Kenseth reeled off back-to-back wins to open the Chase a year ago, I believe. Cavanna: You beat me to it, Kenny . Ten weeks from now we'll all look like fools when Matt Kenseth is hoisting the Sprint Cup trophy. Bruce : My biggest concern with the entire JGR group is their win total this year. Three teams, two combined wins. That probably won't cut it in the Chase. Norman: For Gordon, I imagine what he's feeling is just like what a veteran may feel at any job. You see these upstarts come in and win races, you don't perform as well and perhaps you wonder if you can still hang. That's a wonderful motivator. Mr. Gordon (hey, respect your elders) can most certainly still hang. 2. Speaking of JGR, Kenseth is one of three drivers in the Chase without a win this year and two drivers, Aric Almirola and AJ Allmendinger , are making their first appearance in the "playoff." How do we expect these guys on the bottom half of the board to fare? Norman: Certainly, you expect more from Kenseth than you do Almirola or Allmendinger because of his pedigree, his team, his equipment ... all that stuff. I'm not sure Kenseth can get to Homestead still in contention for the championship, but there's no reason he shouldn't be in the Eliminator Round. Of all the guys on the bottom of the board, I think he's clearly got the best chance. Cavanna: I'm not totally worried about the winless drivers just yet. The consistency we've seen from drivers like Kenseth and Ryan Newman should carry them forward for a round or two, even without wins. Bruce : You're spot on Brad. Given Kenseth's consistency, I expect him to advance beyond the first round, probably the second. Gets tougher after that, though. Newman has been consistent all year, Greg Biffle more so of late. I think Aric and AJ test the waters and see what it's like. But advancing would be a surprise. A nice one, but a surprise just the same. Cavanna: I hate to say I have little faith in the 47 team (Allmendinger) moving on. But, Aric Almirola is riding into the Chase with two straight top-10 finishes. If he gets three more, that will put him in the next round. Norman: I do think we're going to see a "surprise" driver advance, though. I'd pick Allmendinger, if forced to give a name. He's gotten better at intermediates. More than that, though, I can foresee a scenario in which a guy more favored to advance wrecks at Chicago, and then has a couple of gambles fail as he tries to get back in it over the next two weeks. Cavanna: Brad, I like your thinking for a roundtable rookie. I think the sport and fans are in for a big surprise. It's easy to think of the better drivers and assume they all advance. But one glance at any NCAA Tournament tells you that never happens. There's always an upset or three. Bruce : The thing about it is if a driver advances beyond the first round (Chicago, New Hampshire and Dover), Talladega looms as the cutoff race for the Contender Round and as we know, anything can happen there. How cool would it be, Alan, to see the 43 battling for a title? OK, battling for a spot in the next round? A lot of history there. Cavanna: It's a long shot, but the 43 will certainly be a chic pick for advancing to the top-12. Norman: I am the Kyle Larson of the roundtable, Alan. Cavanna: You're a dry wiper? 3. Now that we've determined who will win, who will advance and who can go ahead and start taking the yellow ID markings off their cars ... which teams on the outside are most likely to pick up a win during the final 10 races? Norman: It was rare to see that happen with frequency when there were 12 (or 13) drivers in the postseason. Now with 16? I think it'll be even more rare. The biggest contender to me, the roundtable rookie, is ... Kyle Larson. Maybe at Charlotte. Heck, he could win any of them. Bruce : I don't think it was that rare ... but the folks that won were often guys you thought would have been in the Chase to begin with most of the time. Tony Stewart , Jamie McMurray , Biffle, Denny Hamlin , Gordon. But you make a good point about the numbers decreasing the likelihood. Cavanna: Prior to the start of the season I picked Austin Dillon to win a race, with Talladega in mind. I'll stick with that. Clint Bowyer showed some promise at Richmond Saturday night, but I worry that may be the team's best performance of the season. Norman: To be fair, it happened three times last year. And if you look at who won those races, two of those guys are in the Chase field this year – Keselowski and Hamlin. And McMurray was the other, winning at Talladega which is a wild card. So if anyone outside the Chase field wins, I think it could portend a big 2015 season. Larson, Bowyer, Dillon ... what about Stewart? Cavanna: I think a lot of people are overlooking what a win by a non-Chaser does to the championship run. Every time that bell rings, it's one less automatic spot for a guy going after a championship. Bruce : Bowyer is tough at New Hampshire, so maybe it's better late than never for him and the MWR team, Alan. But I wouldn't be surprised if one of the rookies, Dillon or Larson, gets a win now that there's no Chase pressure. Norman: Alan, you make a good point about the championship run. Can you imagine in any round, if somehow a non-Chaser wins two in a row? Bruce : Your comments reminded me of something, guys. If a non-Chase driver wins a race in the Chase, does he get one of those yellow "winner" stickers to go above his window? For that matter, does anyone? Cavanna: Everyone likes rewards, Kenny . I hope the stickers remain. Norman: Everyone's a winner here, Kenny . Cavanna: Even Brad Norman's Chase beard. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
NASCAR.com experts talk Penske pull, Chase surprises, new rule changes
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