NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce and Chris Rice let you know who and what to watch for in Sunday's STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Dale Earnhardt Jr . finished in the top 10 after a last-place effort last week. How'd he bounce back? Taylor Starer reports from Fontana. Plus, recap the Auto Club weekend in GIF form, and read a note on every driver in the 43-car field in The Rundown. TUESDAY: Kevin Harvick has eight consecutive finishes of second or better dating back to last season. No. 1 in the Power Rankings? For sure. But who's behind him in No. 2? Plus our weekly video of the best sounds from the scanner. WEDNESDAY: Check out the new paint schemes for this weekend's action at Martinsville Speedway . THURSDAY: Have you been bitten by the March Madness bug? Stay tuned as NASCAR.com presents its own version of March Madness, complete with fan voting. We'll be in the semifinal round Thursday. Zack Albert will write on Danville Speedway and its link to NASCAR and Wendell Scott, and @nascarcasm also chimes in on something historic -- the Martinsville hot dog. FRIDAY: Cars are on track in Martinsville. Visit us for live leaderboards throughout the day, plus the best tweets of the week. Also coming this week: Holly Cain previews Chase Elliott 's first scheduled Sprint Cup Series start ... How is Kurt Busch holding up after a near-miss at Fontana? Cain has that story, too ... Senior writer Kenny Bruce takes a deep dive on Martinsville, the original NASCAR facility.
Race Center hosts Matthew Dillner and Kenny Bruce explain the keys to a victory in Phoenix, and talk about who can chase down Kevin Harvick.
SAFER barrier to be installed in Turn 1, Turn 4; asphalt in Turn 1 RELATED: Learn about the SAFER barrier Daytona International Speedway announced Wednesday that it plans to install SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barrier and lay down asphalt to improve safety at the World Center of Racing in advance of its July race weekend. The announcement come less than a month after Kyle Busch suffered a compact fracture to his right lower leg and a mid-foot fracture of his left foot following an accident in the Alert Today Florida 300 XFINITY Series race. In a statement, the track said it "performed an extensive review of the facility and developed a significant plan for additional safety initiatives" with its parent company, International Speedway Corporation (ISC), and NASCAR. Before NASCAR returns to Daytona for July 4th weekend and the Subway Firecracker 250 XFINITY race and the Coke Zero 400 Sprint Cup race, it will implement the following measures: · Additional 20,000 square feet of asphalt in Turn 1 · Realignment of a portion of the inside retaining wall from infield road course exit to Turn 1 · Installation of SAFER barrier (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) on realigned retaining wall and existing retaining wall in Turn 1 · Installation of SAFER barrier on retaining wall at pit road exit · Installation of SAFER barrier between the exit of Turn 4 to pit road entry The realignment of the retaining wall in Turn 1 and installation of SAFER barrier on the realigned and existing retaining wall in Turn 1 address the area where Busch hit the wall. Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III, who vowed to eventually ring the entire racing surface with SAFER barrier after Busch's accident on Feb. 21, also said SAFER barrier would be installed on the backstretch if possible. "In addition, based on material availability and timing, we will install SAFER barrier on the outside backstretch wall and will complete as much as possible prior to the July NASCAR weekend," Chitwood said. "Following the July races, we will complete any remaining installation of SAFER barrier on the outside backstretch wall, and continue to install SAFER barrier on the remaining areas of the property. "We will provide additional updates regarding our safety initiatives as circumstances warrant. The safety of the competitors and our fans is our top priority." While much of Daytona's 2.5-mile track features the impact-absorbing SAFER barrier, the area struck by Busch's car did not. His No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing car skidded across grass into the infield retaining wall in Turn 1. Busch has missed the first three races of the season and is out for an undetermined time with Matt Crafton sitting in for him at the Daytona 500 and David Ragan filling the role in the No. 18 Sprint Cup ride. "We should have had a SAFER barrier there today; we did not," Chitwood said in February. "We're going to fix that. We're going to fix that right now." "This is not going to happen again," he continued. "We're going to live up to our responsibility. We're going to fix this and it starts right now." Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the first NASCAR-sanctioned track to put the barriers in place, completing its initial installation in May of 2002. A second generation of the barrier was installed at IMS in '05. Kansas Speedway completed its first SAFER barrier project in August of '04 and other NASCAR-sanctioned facilities have since upgraded their facilities to include the system as well. Since the season-opening weekend at Daytona, tracks have added safety measures to their facilities and continue to investigate ways to make their venues safer. However, no NASCAR-sanctioned track currently features the energy-reducing materials on all of its interior and exterior walls. NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce contributed to this article. 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
See who our staff members pick to take the checkered flag Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Members of the NASCAR.com editorial team make their picks for the Great American Race below. Who do you have? Let us know in the comments section. Zack Albert Denny Hamlin . Joe Gibbs Racing cars have shown plenty of oomph so far in Speedweeks, making Matt Kenseth another Daytona favorite. Sunday, it should be Hamlin's turn in Victory Lane. Kenny Bruce Dale Earnhardt Jr. Strong all week, and probably as pumped as he's ever been about his team and his car. Holly Cain Jimmie Johnson. Pat DeCola Jimmie Johnson. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has been unstoppable thus far at Speedweeks, but he's coming off one of his worst seasons to date -- making Johnson the rare "dark horse favorite." The No. 48 Chevrolet swept both Daytona races in his 2013 championship season but hadn't finished higher than 20th in the six Daytona races prior to that. Still, I've got a feeling. Stu Hothem Dale Earnhardt Jr. After last Saturday's first practice, the defending Daytona 500 champion said he had the fastest car in the field. On the 20th anniversary of the last back-to-back winner (Sterling Marlin) going to Victory Lane, Earnhardt will join Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon and NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison, Dale Jarrett, Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough with three or more wins in the Great American Race. RJ Kraft Carl Edwards. The Joe Gibbs Racing stable has been as strong as the Hendrick Motorsports fleet during Speedweeks, with the veteran showing plenty of speed. It will be the organization's newest driver that brings Joe Gibbs his first trip to Victory Lane in the Daytona 500 since 1993. Brad Norman Tony Stewart. His car is fast, and Stewart seems more like the 'Smoke' of old than at any other point over the past two years. Plus, he's just due for a good break at Daytona. Jessica Ruffin Jeff Gordon. The three-time Daytona 500 champion is starting from the pole position, has a dynamic duo of Hendrick Motorsports teammates helping him in the front and his No. 24 Chevrolet SS has showcased its speed the entire week. But above all, with this event marking his final Daytona 500, Gordon has plenty of motivation to take the checkered one last time in the Great American Race. Taylor Starer Jeff Gordon. The four-time Cup champion is starting his final Great American Race as a full-time driver from the pole — what more motivation does he need to do well? Three previous Daytona 500 wins under his belt doesn't hurt, either. George Winkler Dale Earnhardt Jr. He becomes the first back-to-back winner of the Daytona 500 since Sterling Marlin in 1995. Junior's car has looked fast all week -- he won in the Daytona Duels -- and he has a strong history in this race (series-best 99.6 driver rating, two previous Daytona 500 wins). MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Joey Logano and Roger Penske make the media circuit -- see what they have to say. TUESDAY: Does Joey Logano's Daytona 500 win vault him to the top of our weekly Power Rankings ? Plus our weekly video of the best sounds from the scanner. WEDNESDAY: Check out the new paint schemes for this week's tripleheader at Atlanta Motor Speedway. THURSDAY: Driver Reports will give you a great leg up on setting your Fantasy Live lineup this week. FRIDAY: Can't be on social media all week? No worries. We'll give you the eight best NASCAR-related tweets of the week. Also coming this week: The NOSCARS , a mix of NASCAR and the Oscars by none other than @nascarcasm ... Remember last year, when a squirrel ran across the track at Atlanta? The F-Post team does, and they'll have a video on it ... senior writer Holly Cain has a column on Jeff Gordon following his final Daytona 500 ... senior writer Kenny Bruce will be on the ground in Atlanta on Thursday for a pair of testing sessions .
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Martin Truex Jr. has had an awful recent streak of bad luck on and off the track -- it's why he's celebrating a good start to 2015. TUESDAY: Logano ... Johnson ... Earnhardt Jr. ... Harvick. Just who is No. 1 in our Power Rankings? Plus our weekly video of the best sounds from the scanner. WEDNESDAY: Check out the new paint schemes for this weekend's action at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. THURSDAY: Who's best at Las Vegas? It might surprise you. Driver Reports will have the full story. FRIDAY: Can't be on social media all week? No worries. We'll give you the eight best NASCAR-related tweets of the week. Also coming this week: From @nascarcasm -- Why the safety workers were the (hilarious) stars at Atlanta ... senior writer Holly Cain has a story on the Las Vegas race, which won't have either of the hometown Busch brothers entered ... senior writer Kenny Bruce will analyze the new rules package, which has drivers and crew chiefs thrilled with the racing.
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Dale Earnhardt is off to one of the best starts to a season of his career, and he's doing it with a new crew chief. Learn why he and Greg Ives have had a strong beginning. And find out why NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell is meeting with Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman . TUESDAY: Will Kevin Harvick 's win at Las Vegas make him No. 1 in our Power Rankings? Plus our weekly video of the best sounds from the scanner. WEDNESDAY: Check out the new paint schemes for this weekend's action at Phoenix International Raceway . THURSDAY: Who are the ones to watch for your NASCAR Fantasy Live and Streak to the Finish teams? Driver Reports breaks down the best at Phoenix. FRIDAY: The "NASCAR Illustrated" weekly preview catches up with Phoenix native JJ Yeley. Also, we'll give you the eight best NASCAR-related tweets of the week. Also coming this week: From @nascarcasm -- A new feature on the Facebook page of this week's winner ... senior writer Holly Cain has a story on Stewart-Haas Racing 's struggles despite Harvick's success ... senior writer Kenny Bruce will preview and cover this week's Sprint Cup Series test at Charlotte Motor Speedway .
Whittling list down to just five always a tough task
NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce and Chris Rice break down a multitude of situations and scenarios for some of the sports best as they prepare to chase down the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 trophy.