Edwards: "This is like the first practice session" BRISTOL, Tenn. -- More than one dozen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams spent Wednesday testing at Bristol Motor Speedway, preparing for next month's return when the high-banked, half-mile track hosts the Irwin Tools Night Race . "The surface here doesn't change a lot, but the groove changes a lot," Joe Gibbs Racing 's Carl Edwards said of the concrete racing surface during a break in the eight-hour session. "People end up racing right up against the fence. "We're not really able to do that today. Basically, this is like the first practice session (of a race weekend) -- when we show up (in August), the race track will be like this." Still, with only six races remaining before the field is officially set for this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup , any opportunity to improve one's chances for one of the six events isn't taken lightly. "Seventy-five percent (of what we do today) is relevant," Edwards said. "We're just not really able to run up there to that high groove." Edwards, a winner in this year's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, hasn't officially locked in a spot in the 16-team Chase field, but for he and a handful of others that have already won this year, it's a formality. Three of Edwards' 24 career wins in Sprint Cup have come at BMS and he was fast here on Wednesday. He also cut a tire down during the afternoon session, and contact with the wall did a bit of cosmetic damage to the No. 19 Toyota. "We know exactly what we were lacking when we came here the last race," he said, "so it gives us the opportunity to work on some things." In addition to Edwards, other teams taking part in the test were Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing ), Joey Logano ( Team Penske ), Aric Almirola ( Richard Petty Motorsports ), Ricky Stenhouse Jr . ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Paul Menard ( Richard Childress Racing ), David Ragan ( Michael Waltrip Racing ), Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Danica Patrick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Travis Kvapil (TMG), Kasey Kahne ( Hendrick Motorsports ) and Landon Cassill (Mike Hillman Racing). Logano and Kahne are also previous winners at Bristol. Stenhouse is still searching for his first Sprint Cup win; the fast BMS track seems to suit his driving style. The 27-year-old has finished sixth or higher in his last three starts here. "It's just fun," Stenhouse Jr. said. "I like running the top, it kind of reminds me of a dirt track the way you can really kind of turn to the right getting into the corner once we get some rubber down on the top lane. We haven't gotten it quite high enough today, but we've worked pretty far up there." The RFR driver is 27th in points, and his fourth-place finish here earlier this year has been his only top 10. "Honestly, being 18th or 19th in points or where we are, if you don't have a win, you're still outside (the Chase)," he said. "I could be eight spots better and it really wouldn't do me any good other than obviously we're getting better finishes, better results." A two-time XFINITY Series champion, Stenhouse said the No. 17 team has improved -- "I think we're getting better," he said -- but the gap between his group and the leaders is still a wide one. "That's why we really kind of embraced coming to this test," he said. "It's been a good race for us in the past. Out of the races that are left, it's probably our best shot to catch a break. "We've been close (here); we know we're not exactly there yet. But we know if we make the right adjustments and get the car a little better, then we'll have the opportunity. And really, that's all you can ask for." The Irwin Tools Night Race is scheduled for Aug. 22 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver 'kept having flashbacks' after giving up lead on final lap BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Ryan Blaney said he “didn’t sleep a lot Saturday night” as he played the ending of the NASCAR XFINITY Series race over and over in his mind. “I kept having flashbacks of Turn 2 and that’s not what you want to do,” the Wood Brothers Racing driver said Wednesday during a break in testing at Bristol (Tennessee) Motor Speedway. “Especially when you have a (Sprint) Cup race the next day; especially when it’s the Brickyard … your Brickyard debut.” Blaney is scheduled to compete in 18 Sprint Cup Series races this season for Wood Brothers Racing . The 21-year old is also running select XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series events this season for Team Penske and Brad Keselowski Racing, respectively. After leading 24 of the final 25 laps in Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at IMS, Blaney lost the lead to race winner Kyle Busch on the final trip around the legendary 2.5-mile track. A two-time winner in the XFINITY Series, Blaney was looking for his first trip to Victory Lane this season. Instead, it was Busch’s second win in the series since returning from injuries suffered in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. A miscue by Blaney – he missed his mark as he and Busch rolled into Turn 2 – opened the door for Busch, who shot underneath the leader to take over the top spot on the backstretch. “I thought about it all the way up until I got in the race car (on Sunday), then I forgot about it,” Blaney said of the misstep. His Sunday run in the Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard likely helped ease the disappointment. In only his eighth start of the season (rain kept the team out of two events when qualifying was cancelled), Blaney raced his way to a 12th place finish. “You just have to put that stuff in the back of your mind and forget about it,” he said. “The support that not only Team Penske showed me, but the Wood Brothers and other competitors has really helped me out. “You can only take away the learning experience from it, learn not to do that the next time.” Blaney and the Wood Brothers were one of 13 teams testing Wednesday at BMS. NASCAR returns to the 0.533-mile track next month for the Aug. 22 running of the Irwin Tools Night Race . FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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
Gil Martin moves to R&D role, 'Slugger' Labbe takes over team Austin Dillon is getting a new crew chief in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Richard Childress Racing announced Monday. Richard "Slugger" Labbe will guide the No. 3 team, starting at Sonoma in the June 28 Toyota-Save Mart 350 . Labbe is a veteran crew chief with 433 Cup starts under his belt, including wins at the 2003 Daytona 500 and 2011 Brickyard. He guided Kenny Irwin Jr. to a rookie of the year title in 1998. He also has worked with drivers Michael Waltrip , Dale Jarrett, Sterling Marlin and Terry Labonte . He was Paul Menard 's full-time chief from 2010 to 2014. Dillon, a former NASCAR XFINITY Series champion and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, is 23rd in the Cup Series drivers points standings after Michigan. His best finish this season is 10th at Bristol. Martin will move into a leadership role within the RCR R&D Department, taking over Labbe's responsibilities. Martin has 16 wins in 472 NSCS starts, including a 2003 Brickyard 400 victory, and has finished in the top 10 in year-end championship points seven times. Martin also has eight wins to his credit in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Who are the oldest and youngest winners in each series? RELATED: Evolution of rookie meeting " Labonte's crash still impacts rookies Sprint Cup Series Oldest ROY winner : Dick Trickle (48) Youngest ROY winner : Joey Logano (19) XFINITY Series Oldest ROY winner : Jeff Fuller (38) Youngest ROY winner: Timmy Hill (18) Camping World Truck Series Oldest ROY winner : Mike Stefanik (41) Youngest ROY winner(s) : Ty Dillon , Ryan Blaney , Colin Braun, Austin Dillon (20) Drivers winning multiple ROY titles Johnny Benson Jr.: 1996 Sprint Cup ; 1994 NXS Greg Biffle : 2001 NXS; 1998 Truck Kyle Busch : 2005 Sprint Cup ; 2004 NXS Ricky Craven: 1995 Sprint Cup ; 1992 NXS Austin Dillon : 2012 NXS; 2010 Truck Carl Edwards : 2005 Sprint Cup ; ’03 Truck Jeff Gordon : 1993 Sprint Cup ; 1991 NXS Kevin Harvick : 2001 Cup; 2000 NXS Kenny Irwin Jr.: 1998 Sprint Cup ; 1997 Truck Kyle Larson : 2014 Sprint Cup ; 2013 NXS Ricky Stenhouse Jr .: 2013 Sprint Cup ; 2010 NXS
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
No. 05 driver dove under Kenny Humpe for lead with three laps to go
Veteran driver will pilot No. 20 Toyota before calling it a career RELATED: Buy Iowa tickets " HERMAN UNPLUGGED: The retirement edition Kenny Wallace will make the final start of his NASCAR career at Iowa Speedway in the U.S. Cellular 250 Presented by New Holland (Aug. 1, 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, MRN, SiriusXM). The race at Iowa will mark the end of a 26-year NASCAR career and will also serve as his series-record 547th career start in the series. The veteran driver will go behind the wheel of the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing at the short track. Wallace finished 23rd in the May race at Iowa and his race will be the third start of the season for the 51-year-old. "To me, this isn't a sad moment; I'm at a truly happy place in my life right now," Wallace said in a release from Rusty Wallace Incorporated. "After all, not too many guys get to have the privilege of being a NASCAR driver, especially for as long as I have. I really wanted to end my long career on a positive note and I'm very excited about our chances in Iowa. The No. 20 team is one of the best in the sport and I'm looking forward to having a chance to end my NASCAR career with a great finish. I really want to thank U.S. Cellular for helping me make that happen." Wallace has made 344 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts in addition to 13 starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. However, all nine of his national series wins have come in the XFINITY Series. In 1991, Wallace finished as the runner-up in the standings for that series. Heading into the Iowa race, Wallace has completed the most laps in XFINITY Series history with 101,673. On the Sprint Cup side, Wallace's best finishes were a trio of runner-up showings at Loudon (in 1999), Talladega (in 2000) and Rockingham (in 2001). In addition to still competing every so often, 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. "Growing up as a kid and watching my Dad race in Rolla, Missouri, I never dreamed that I'd have the chance to do what I've done in my life," Wallace said. "I've had a long and successful career and I've been able to support my family doing what I love. To me, it doesn't get any better than that. I'm really proud of everything that I've been able to accomplish in NASCAR. "I've been fortunate enough to be able to turn my NASCAR driving career into another career doing something else I love -- that's working with FOX Sports on television. Those guys have been great to me and I get a lot of happiness from being able to educate the fans about the sport that I love. I'm going to stay involved in the sport through TV and I'm going to stay behind the wheel in my dirt cars, too. "You know, everyone experiences change at some point and I'm honestly looking forward to opening the next chapter in my life. As always, I promise that I'm going to have a lot of fun doing it." 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, while Matt Kenseth has made three, Denny Hamlin has made two and Ross Kenseth and David Ragan have each made one start in the car. Jones won at Texas, while Hamlin won at Richmond in the car for crew chief Mike Wheeler. The No. 20 team enters the New Hampshire race weekend fourth in the owner standings for the XFINITY Series. Hamlin will pilot the car at the Magic Mile.
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.
New rules were worth a shot at famed track; empathy for TV complaints