Jonathan Merryman and Kenny Bruce analyze break down how practice has helped the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams adjust to the new 'high drag' package and look to the XFINITY Series race to get ready for 400 miles at the Brickyard.
Logano has finished second to Kyle Busch twice this season MORE : Full race results " Updated series standings SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- There's no satisfaction to finishing second for Joey Logano . The disappointment weighs a little heavier for the Team Penske driver this time around. Logano, attempting to become only the second driver to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same season, came up short. "You come to Indy, it's all about the win, either win or finish last," Logano said Sunday evening after finishing second to Kyle Busch in the Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard. "At least that's the way I race when I come to a racetrack like this." The 25-year-old had his chances as cautions regrouped the field three times within the final 10 laps. Logano was third, trailing eventual race winner Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) and Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ) on a Lap-153 restart. He was still third when the field was reset after a caution for debris set up the first of two attempts at a green, white, checkered finish. And he was second, with a final opportunity, after a third yellow on Lap 159. Although Logano was officially scored out front when the final restart got underway, Busch managed to pull ahead shortly after crossing the line. Logano briefly closed the gap, but Busch held the position. "The worst part," Logano said, "is the same guy beat me the last two times I finished second. I'm glad he's back and all but geez … you don't have to come back like that. "We've been working our guts out all year and he comes right back and (is) doing it. … It's impressive what those guys have been doing, too. That's amazing, the run they're on." Busch, who missed the first 11 Sprint Cup races of the season after breaking his right leg and suffering multiple fractures to his left foot in an XFINITY Series crash at Daytona International Speedway, has won four of the last five Sprint Cup races, including the last three. Crew chief Todd Gordon said there was no gameplan for the final restarts, but he felt comfortable with where his driver was positioned. "We don't get to dictate the plan," Gordon said. "I thought the 4 (of Harvick) was a good car to have behind us (on the restart); we worked with him earlier in the day. Just need to find a little more speed. Our restarts were pretty good. We're getting closer, we can definitely see it, but we need to find a little more speed." Team owner Roger Penske has won a NASCAR championship, and his record in the Indianapolis 500 is sterling. But just like Logano, the wait for a Brickyard win resumes. "Obviously with the guy I drive for, he really wants to win these races and you don't want to let him down," Logano said. "I'm sure it stings for him just as much as it stings for me. "He's been coming here a long time and deserves to get a win here, and I wanted to be the guy and be the team to give it to him." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Kenny Bruce writes on Furniture Row Racing , which is rumored to be considering a manufacturer switch to Toyota ... Kyle Busch won for the third time in four races; see exactly what he has to do to clinch a Chase berth ... The Rundown analyzes how every driver fared at New Hampshire. TUESDAY: This week's Power Rankings presented by Outback has a new No. 1 driver; who is it? Could Kyle Busch climb that high? ... @nascarcasm has his weekly winner's Facebook page, so get ready Kyle Busch ... For the second week in a row, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske were the cars to beat, as Pat DeCola reports ... Want to know how Eldora works? We'll tell you. WEDNESDAY: New paint schemes will be on display at Indianapolis and Eldora, and we'll have them all in Paint Scheme Preview ... Speaking of Eldora, there's plenty of action on the dirt track, and it begins at 10:30 a.m. ET. The race itself starts at 9 p.m. ET. We'll have live leaderboards of it all ... While you're watching the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, vote on who you think will win at Indy. THURSDAY: Driver Reports highlights the 16 drivers currently on the Chase Grid, and how they fare at Indianapolis ... Senior writer Kenny Bruce will look back at Jeff Gordon 's top Brickyard moments ... Jessica Ruffin, for #TBT, throws it back to Tony Stewart 's first win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. FRIDAY: The Sprint Cup Series gets on track at 9 a.m. ET, and we'll have full coverage from a busy day at the track ... 8 Tweets You Might Have Missed highlights the best from social media over the past week ... Kissing the bricks? @nascarcasm has a take on that. Also coming this week: High Five, which drops Wednesday, highlights the best NASCAR content from around the internet ... the Major League Baseball trade deadline is coming up, which got RJ Kraft thinking about some possible NASCAR driver trades.
NASCAR.com's Chuck Bush and Kenny Bruce break down what it will take to get the win in the 5-hour ENERGY 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce compares Jimmie Johnson to the 'Intimidator' RELATED: Johnson wins at Dover for 10th time The greatest NASCAR driver of all time is … Jimmie Johnson ? That's the word on the street, or in this case the voice on the radio, and since the bluegrass channel was on a commercial break I decided to stick around long enough to hear how that particular conclusion was reached. Such comparisons are inevitable – it's the sort of thing that arises when one is chasing legends. No different than when Jeff Gordon was piling up victories and championships in pursuit of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. No different than when Earnhardt was piling up victories and championships in pursuit of Petty. And no different than when Petty began piling up wins and titles on his way to overtaking a host of former champions, including his father, Lee, the first to win three NASCAR premier series championships. What the 39-year-old Johnson has managed to accomplish in little more than 13 full seasons in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series certainly puts him in the same league with Petty and Earnhardt, NASCAR's only seven-time champions. There's no doubt that Johnson, fit and trim and now only two wins away from matching Earnhardt's career win total of 76 victories, is one of the sport's greatest drivers. But is he No. 1? From a numbers standpoint, the Hendrick Motorsports driver will undoubtedly surpass Earnhardt's win total, and it's likely he'll eventually capture a seventh championship. He could, in fact, become the first driver to win more than seven titles. That would make him the most successful driver from a championship standpoint (neither he nor anyone else will come close to Petty's mark of 200 career wins), but will that make him NASCAR's greatest driver? No. That designation, without question, belongs to Earnhardt. Statistics are a great way to gauge success. But it takes more than numbers to measure greatness. Johnson has managed to excel during what some claim is the most competitive era in the history of NASCAR. Yes, there are more winners, on average, today. But there are also more races on the schedule, thus also more opportunities. A larger number of teams run the full schedule today, although that doesn't necessarily mean there are more "better" teams competing. Earnhardt never ran a season consisting of 36 points races; Johnson's never run in fewer than 36. Earnhardt never had the opportunity to compete at Kansas, Chicago or Kentucky; but by the same token, Johnson never raced at North Wilkesboro or Riverside. I have a strong feeling both could have won at those tracks given the chance. I'll argue that the talent pool Earnhardt often faced was just as deep – with lineups including drivers such as Petty and Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, Neil Bonnett, Geoff Bodine and Harry Gant. Eventually Bill Elliott , Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace, Davey Allison, Alan Kulwicki, Tim Richmond and others took their place. Most were champions; many are already members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Johnson is one of the greatest drivers that today's fans will ever see. What he has done has been nothing short of amazing. If one wants to argue that he would not have won 74 races and six championships had it not been for Hendrick Motorsports and Chad Knaus, the same could be said of Earnhardt, who owed much of his success to Richard Childress Racing and the talented group he worked with there. But what elevates Earnhardt above the rest is more than the fact that he was so successful. He provided fans with some of the sport's most memorable moments during his two-plus decades. Among them: winning the pole at Watkins Glen in '96 (and setting the track qualifying record, to boot) just two weeks after suffering a broken collarbone and sternum in a vicious crash at Talladega; climbing from his damaged car and into the ambulance, only to quickly exit and return to his car once he realized it would still run, at Daytona in '97; his first and only Daytona 500 victory the following season, a win that erased 19 years of heartbreak. There was the "rattle his cage" incident with Terry Labonte en route to victory in the night race at Bristol in '99; the wrongly-termed but aptly promoted "pass in the grass" on his way to winning the 1997 All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway ; and the charge from 18th to first in the final five laps of the 2000 Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway . For two decades, greatness drove a Chevrolet and it carried the number 3. They were memorable moments that elevated the sport and defined the man. Johnson can win more races and win more championships, but he can't match that. He needn't worry – no one else can, either. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce and RJ Kraft debate this hot topic RELATED: Kentucky to use new aero package " Several other tracks to use different packages After weeks of discussion about new rules packages, NASCAR officials announced last month that new rules would be used for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto Parts (July 11, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, PRN, SiriusXM) at Kentucky Speedway. The main focus is an aerodynamic package that will create less downforce on the cars and could help produce more side-by-side competition. The teams will get additional practice time today (Wednesday, July 8) -- to get more time and comfort with the setup -- as well as the usual practice time on Friday. UPDATE: Cup practice canceled due to wet weather, moved to Thursday According to NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell, the spoiler height will be reduced from 6 inches to 3.5 inches and the splitter extension panel (radiator pan) decreased from 38 inches to 25 inches. Additionally, the splitter will have 1.75 inches less overhang than the current splitter. NASCAR announced on Tuesday that a similar package will be run in September at Darlington Raceway, although the spoiler will be bigger. Sprint Cup Series events in July at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and in August at Michigan International Speedway will use a different package with higher drag rules. The regular-season finale in September at Richmond International Raceway will use a new tire. The fact that new packages are in place for points races is a hot topic. NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce and RJ Kraft debate whether this is a good or a bad thing. Kraft: Excuse me while I dig into my bag of cliche phrases, Mr. Bruce . I am all for "change we can believe in" and I like that NASCAR is listening and making the product better to create more side-by-side racing and passing with different packages. But what I don't like is how this is being implemented. This whole concept of "changing horses midstream," so to speak. The 2015 rules package isn't impossible. Four teams have it figured out pretty well (the 4, 41, 78 and 48). And changing the rules setup even for one race, let alone multiple ones, in the middle of a season just seems like a bit of a panic move. Even if that's not the intention, it could certainly be perceived that way. You have been competing a certain way for most of the season and now all of sudden, it's different. Has any sport messed with the rules significantly midseason? This also feels a bit like a hurried effort to try to solve something that honestly looks not much different than last year's racing, in which the end result was a thrilling 10-race postseason under the new elimination-style Chase format. For better or worse, the 2015 package should be used for the entire 2015 season, not tossed out for a race here or a race there. RELATED: Lots to be learned at Kentucky Bruce : I'll ignore the "has any other sport" comment because anyone who has followed NASCAR for any length of time knows that it isn't like "any other sport." You're dealing with a competition that includes a car that weighs approximately 3,400 pounds and can travel in excess of 200 mph. And which, by the way, is made up of hundreds of parts. The fact remains that NASCAR officials believe changing the current package can produce better competition on the track. And even those you say have "figured it out" will tell you that the racing could be better. The teams themselves aren't changing. The rules, as they pertain to how a race is contested, aren't changing. It's still the first one to the finish line wins. No, the current package isn't impossible for some, but if there's an opportunity to make it better, why wouldn't you? Kraft: Under the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format every race takes on added significance as a win basically punches your postseason ticket. And now with new packages, these races could become wild cards, especially if one team finds something early in the extra practice time that they can use in a race. To me, you don't test something out in an event that counts for plenty with postseason spots in play. You test something out in an exhibition like the Sprint All-Star Race, where they had hoped to do this. Again I'm all for the changes, I just don't like implementing them in a race that means plenty and the uncertainty is great. What if the racing doesn't improve, or takes a step backward or nothing changes as a result of the new package for the race? Making changes for Darlington, Indianapolis and Michigan, before we see how the Kentucky package plays out is an unnecessary risk in my view. See how that goes before making new packages for different tracks. Bruce : NASCAR and the teams rely tremendously on the wind tunnel, simulation programs and testing to understand the effects of changes made to the cars. However, the only way to know for certain is to implement such changes in real-world race conditions with a full field of cars and something of value on the line. Sure, these races are now something of a wild card, but isn't that a good thing? Aren't the road-course races and the restrictor-plate races wild cards? Should we not count them toward the Chase? If these races with new packages provide a team with an opportunity that didn't previously exist, I see that as a positive. For example, everyone will be relying solely on data before they hit the track for an extended practice leading into Kentucky; they'll fine-tune that with what they learn on the track. But no one had all winter to tinker with the changes and gain any sort of advantage. RELATED: Reactions to the new Kentucky package Kraft: With the road courses and the restrictor-plate races, we knew they were wild cards from the get-go and that's fine. You shouldn’t have the exact same type of tracks making up the schedule but you should have consistency in the rules over a season. NASCAR has been talking about trying to help keep the cost down for teams over the course of a lengthy season. Doesn't changing the rules and what would be allowed on the car in terms of spoilers, splitters, etc., have an impact on how much money goes into the ride? Especially since teams are working on cars for particular races weeks in advance and the Kentucky package wasn't given to them months in advance, since it was made official roughly four weeks out. I guess what I am saying Kenny is I don't like immediate change when the uncertainty is great. Give me a gradual change that I can simmer on before it goes into effect. Bruce : NASCAR has been cost conscious concerning the overall health of the sport, and not just "over the course of a lengthy season." It's on-going. Teams are already doing R&D work. They likely aren't adding more money or resources or personnel to what they're already doing, they're just focusing on something different. So I don't think cost is a point you can argue. The uncertainly exists, for sure, but it isn't as if they weren't being told of the specific changes until they arrived in Kentucky. They've done some homework; they have a general idea of what to expect. Yeah, if NASCAR told them when they showed up to remove the spoilers completely, take off the splitters or something equally radical, it would be an issue. But this is gradual in that it's not a hard and fast "here's what you've got to have for the rest of the year so deal with it." Better to find out now, under real race conditions, than head into 2016 still uncertain of what lies ahead. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: With the Daytona race ending at nearly 3 a.m. ET, catch up on Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s win and Austin Dillon 's last-lap wreck ... Plus recap the race in GIFs with our Weekend in GIFs ... @nascarcasm recaps the race in photos as only he can. TUESDAY: This week's Power Rankings, presented by Outback, is sure to get a shakeup. Who will be No. 1? ... Kenny Bruce hits the high notes from the garage in this week's Tech Talk ... @nascarcasm delivers what Dale Jr.'s winning Facebook page might look like ... Wonder what drivers' first-ever tweets were? We've got that, too. WEDNESDAY: New paint schemes will be on display at Kentucky, and we'll have them all in Paint Scheme Preview ... Should NASCAR tweak the rules package at midseason? It's a debate in which Kenny Bruce and RJ Kraft will engage ... The Kentucky rules package will see its debut, too, with two testing sessions at the 1.5-mile track. Zack Albert and Jessica Ruffin will provide coverage, and NASCAR.com will have live leaderboards. THURSDAY: There are five on-track events Thursday, and we'll have every one covered -- from the 8 a.m. ET Truck Series practice to the 7:30 p.m. Truck Series race ... Driver Reports highlights which drivers currently in the Chase Grid do well (or poorly) at Kentucky ... It's Jeff Gordon Day in Pittsboro, Indiana, and @nascarcasm will be there. Seriously. FRIDAY: The second race of the weekend tripleheader is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET when the NASCAR XFINITY Series cars go under the lights ... Eight Tweets You May Have Missed highlights some of the best social media chatter from the past week. Also coming this week: Want to hear the best sounds from the scanner? That's coming Tuesday ... Holly Cain will follow up on Chase Elliott 's third-place finish at Daytona.
He also makes his driving finale in Iowa XFINITY Series race RELATED: Iowa to mark Wallace's last start " Matt will race against uncle Kenny The Iowa race weekend is becoming a Wallace family festival, with Kenny Wallace adding grand marshal for the #ThanksKenny 150 to his duties. Wallace announced earlier that the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Iowa on Saturday, Aug. 1, would be his last start. And he will be joined in that race by fellow driver Matt Wallace , Kenny's nephew and Mike's son. The US Cellular 250 presented by New Holland will be Matt Wallace 's second start in a national series. Kenny Wallace , the all-time leader in career NASCAR XFINITY Series starts (546), will say those famous words at the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East/West race Friday night, July 31 at 9 p.m. ET. The K&N Series also is honoring Wallace by naming the 150-miler the #ThanksKenny 150 as a tribute to Wallace’s 26-year NASCAR career. "When Kenny revealed that his last NASCAR race would come at Iowa Speedway, we gave serious thought to how we could best recognize his accomplishments. We knew we had to put together a celebration as big as his personality," said Iowa Speedway President Jimmy Small. "It doesn’t get much bigger than having a race named in your honor. That is something that will live on as long as we keep records, and Kenny Wallace is a person who is truly deserving of that distinction." As grand marshal, Wallace will say the four most famous words in racing -- "Drivers, start your engines!" prior to the start of the race. Following the race, Wallace will be in Casey’s General Stores Victory Lane to present the trophy to the winner. "I love connecting with fans from all over the world on social media sites, so when I was told about the hashtag (#ThanksKenny), it really made me smile and laugh at the same time," said Wallace, who announced on Twitter he would be piloting the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing at the in the U.S. Cellular 250 Presented by New Holland (Aug. 1, 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, MRN, SiriusXM). "I'm really excited to give the command to 'start your engines' on Friday night. That’s definitely something new for me," Wallace said. "But I already have a plan on how I’m going to say it, and of course it will be funny." Wallace has served as a NASCAR analyst for FOX Sports, appearing on FOX Sports 1's "NASCAR RaceDay" and "NASCAR Victory Lane" programs. He also does a "Herman Unplugged" feature, offering his opinions on the hot topics in the sport, for NASCAR Illustrated that appears on NASCAR.com. The No. 20 XFINITY Series car has seen five drivers take turns behind the wheel this season for JGR. Erik Jones has made nine starts, Matt Kenseth three, Denny Hamlin three and Ross Kenseth and David Ragan have each made one start in the car. Jones won at Texas, while Hamlin won at Richmond and New Hampshire. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Smith, Sadler, Blaney and Suarez advance to Dash 4 Cash at Bristol SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Regan Smith 's eighth place finish in Saturday's Lilly Diabetes 250 XFINITY Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway wasn't the victory he'd hoped for, but Smith and his JR Motorsports team was still able to celebrate having gotten one step closer to winning a million dollars in the series' Dash 4 Cash incentive program. While race winner Kyle Busch was hoisting trophies nearby in victory lane, Smith accepted a check for $100,000 as the second round winner of the Dash4Cash program. He also collected $100,000 on May 30, after winning the first round at Dover, Delaware. Any driver who wins the first three Dash 4 Cash awards then wins the final round race outright -- Sept. 5 at Darlington -- would total $1 million for the effort. Smith bettered championship leader Chris Buescher , Chase Elliott and Brendan Gaughan to claim Saturday's portion of the winnings. Smith, along with Indianapolis' runner-up Ryan Blaney , third place finisher Daniel Suarez and fifth place finisher Elliott Sadler now advance and are eligible for the third round of competition Aug. 21 at Bristol Motor Speedway. "We had three battles we were fighting today,'' Smith said standing alongside his No. 7 AmericasPower.org Chevy covered in pretend dollar bills. "First and foremost we wanted to win the race and we weren't capable of doing that today. We knew that so then we wanted to win the money and gain points on the 60-car and we did both of those things today and that's what we've got to keep doing every week. "I know as a company we're working hard to get going further forward. "I thought we could have been anywhere from 6th to 10th . We'll take that and we're going to bust our ass the rest of the year." Smith, last year's championship runner-up sits fourth in the rankings entering next week's XFINITY Series race at Iowa Speedway. He trails Buescher by 51 points. In the meantime, Smith joked that he already had an idea how to spend at least a portion of his now $200,000 Dash 4 Cash effort. "I'd like to buy a cool box, I'm really hot right now," he joked with a big smile. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Mike, Matt and Chrissy Wallace set a racing first, as well Proud papa Mike Wallace was in the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage on Friday as son Matt prepares to make his national series debut in Saturday’s Lakes Region 200 (4 p.m. ET NBC Sports Network, PRN, SiriusXM). Three months after heart surgery, the elder Wallace said he'd rather be racing but watching his son step into the No. 26 JGL Racing Ford is a proud moment. RELATED: Kenny Wallace subs for brother at Talladega Wallace also proudly announced that Matt would be racing alongside brother Kenny Wallace at Iowa, which will be the last NASCAR national series race for Kenny , he announced earlier this week. And for trivia buffs, Mike Wallace points out that his family sets a new mark this weekend with Matt's XFINITY debut. Mike, Matt and Chrissy Wallace make up the first father-daughter-son team to all compete in a national series. Chrissy made two XFINITY Series starts in 2010, finishing 43rd at Daytona and 24th at Talladega. Mike has 494 XFINITY Series races under his belt, with four wins, 22 top-five finishes and 66 top 10s. He also has 197 Sprint Cup Series starts. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule