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Rain jumbles Friday's schedule at Kentucky
RELATED: Get live weather updates Inclement weather altered Friday's on-track schedule at Kentucky Speedway. Nearly 30 minutes into the day's first of two scheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practices, a severe thunderstorm warning had officials sending Sprint Cup Series cars into the garage. Denny Hamlin had posted the fastest speed at the time, with Jimmie Johnson -- who later smacked the wall solidly -- sitting in second. Heavy rains followed, and the practice officially ended at 12:25 p.m. ET. Four other on-track events were planned, but altered. Here's what's new: The second Sprint Cup Series practice began at 3:45 when the track was dry and was scheduled to run until 4:25 p.m. ET. NASCAR XFINITY Series qualifying will follow at 4:45 p.m. ET, with Sprint Cup Series final practice running from 6:30-7:30 p.m. ET. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying is canceled and will be set per the rule book (owner points) -- that puts Kevin Harvick on the pole position with Brad Keselowski also on the front row. MORE " See the full lineup The NASCAR XFINITY Series Alsco 300 (8:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, Live Extra, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will wrap up the day's events. RELATED: See the full weekend schedule Wet weather also altered Wednesday's original schedule, which had three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practices on the books. That schedule was adjusted to have two practices, including an extended 175-minute session. The extra time had added importance as Kentucky underwent a repave and the 1.5-mile track has a fresh racing surface. Sprint Cup teams tested at the track last month over two days following the Michigan weekend and practiced here yesterday. XFINITY Series teams had four practices on Thursday. This story will be updated. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Post-Race Reactions: Kentucky 225
Austin Dillon comments on his effort to catch Hornaday and James Buescher recaps his night in Kentucky .
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Chat with fans this weekend during the NASCAR action at Kentucky Speedway .
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NASCAR penalizes No. 86 team in Truck Series
RELATED: Current series standings NASCAR handed down penalties Wednesday to the Brandonbilt Motorsports team in the Camping World Truck Series for a lug-nut infraction incurred during last weekend's race at Kentucky Speedway . NASCAR assessed a P3-grade penalty to the No. 86 Chevrolet operation for improper lug nut installation. NASCAR officials suspended crew chief Adam Brenner through July 27, which makes him ineligible for the series' next race, July 20 at Eldora Speedway . Brenner was also fined $5,000 and placed on probation through the end of the year. Brandon Brown finished 20th in the No. 86 Chevy during last Thursday's Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 . Brown -- who has competed in all but one event this season -- ranks 20th in the drivers' standings ahead of the series' lone race on a dirt track, next Wednesday's Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby (9 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM).
Byron checks off boxes one milestone at a time
Editor's note: This story originally ran July 12, prior to Byron's fifth series win of 2016 at Pocono Raceway. William Byron had one request for his father when he attended his first-ever NASCAR race at Martinsville Speedway on April 2, 2006. To see the ever-popular burnout. "My first race I went to, actually, Tony Stewart won and he climbed the fence at Martinsville," Byron told NASCAR.com at the Kyle Busch Motorsports shop in Mooresville, North Carolina earlier this month. "I told my dad when I went to my first race that we had to stay for the burnout, and now I get to do the burnouts, I get to do the cool celebrations, so that's a neat part for me." Now with four 2016 wins in just 11 career starts and an official lock in the Chase, the Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender has left his own marks on the start/finish lines of Kansas Speedway , Texas Motor Speedway , Iowa Speedway and, most recently, Kentucky Speedway on July 7. For Byron -- who confessed he didn't even know how to do a burnout after his first win in Victory Lane -- the initial wave of success has taken the 18-year-old on a strong current that has left the NASCAR community wondering: where did this kid come from? Most recently, the hallways of Charlotte Country Day School in Charlotte, North Carolina. • • • It wasn't long ago that young Byron was living the life of an ordinary high school student in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. Balancing classes, homework and the everyday tasks of high schoolers, he earned his first Camping World Truck Series win at Kansas Speedway just three weeks before donning a cap and gown for high school graduation. Diploma now in hand and atop the Camping World Truck Series point standings, he hasn't let off the gas since. "The first win was nerve-wracking and kind of got that out of the way so we could focus on the Chase," Byron said. "But then we kind of realized we had to get a second win to make sure we were locked into the Chase. When we got that second one at Texas, everything just started to roll after that." His success in a short period of time has surprised and impressed many. His mother, who was also at the race shop on Monday afternoon following a team win luncheon, showed off a picture of one of her son's early wins in racing, much like any proud mother would of her star high school football player, talented musician or stellar student. Several years ago, she wouldn't have anticipated William would be racing like he is today. Neither did William. "When I was a fan, I was a big fan of Jimmie Johnson ," Byron recalled. "… I just watched the races just like any young kid out there and aspired to be in racing. Not necessarily a driver, but now I've been able to drive and it's a dream come true." Byron kick-started his career later than most budding racers, purchasing his first Legends car at the age of 14, just four years ago. "When I was 12 or 13 … I started to understand racing and how I could drive a race car," Byron said. "I started to do iRacing and I was pretty good at it, so then I said, well if I can do that, maybe I can get into a Legend car or a real car and succeed in that. "Every step was kind of a new check off the list to see if I could do it." • • • As the 2016 season rolls on, Byron continues to check boxes off his list. His win at Kentucky marked the 51st win for Kyle Busch Motorsports, the most for any Camping World Truck Series team in series history. He matched Kurt Busch 's 2000 record in the Truck Series for the most wins in one season by a rookie with four trips to Victory Lane. Only difference between a young Busch and Byron? Busch recorded his final 2000 Truck Series win at the end of the season, while Byron has 13 more races to surpass that record and pencil his own name into the history books. "That's another incentive going down the road to try and get another win to break that record," Byron said of the potential milestone. "That's a personal incentive, but I like the team incentive that we set, just like getting the 51st win was really important to my guys and just really good for our team." With a humble and friendly demeanor, Byron gives credit to his team, both his own No. 9 crew as well as teammate and Gateway winner Christopher Bell , who he'll lean on for dirt experience in the upcoming race at Eldora Speedway . Bell won the race at the dirt track last year. And of course, there's team owner Kyle Busch , who has served as a mentor for several young drivers, including reigning Camping World Truck Series champion Erik Jones . Busch often refers to his young pupils jokingly as students in the " Kyle Busch School of Charm" -- but that charm dissipates slightly on the race track, as "Rowdy" transitions into often his students' fiercest competitor. "Kyle's competitive, obviously; he wants to win every week," Byron said of the boss man. "But at the same time, he doesn’t compromise the race team and helping us grow as young drivers to make sure we know what we need to do on the race track. So, he's a coach, a mentor and also a competitor. But when we get out there on the race track, he’s definitely trying to win and that's the cool part about it." Byron may be passing the School of Charm with flying colors but he'll become a student in a different facet in the fall, when he attends Liberty University as a business major. He's begun taking a couple courses now, but will start attending classes on campus when the new semester commences. Tack on the start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase in September, and the 18-year-old is looking at quite a hectic autumn. "The number one focus is the race team and that's what we’re making sure to do, is that we stay focused on what I need to do around the shop or how I need to manage that," Byron said. "But Liberty does a great job of managing my school around my racing. They know my schedule is busy, they see the races on T.V. and and they make sure that they’re following me, so they're going to know in the fall that there’s a lot going on but I think they really support it and they'll be able to work around it." As for the Chase? Byron & Co. have already started their homework. "The Chase races are races that we're, as a race team, are really good at," Byron said. "The mile-and-a-half races, we've won three of those of the four this year, and a couple short tracks we've done well on too. I think we're going to be really strong in Martinsville in the Chase and I've got a win at New Hampshire in the K&N car, so hopefully we can get a win there and solidify our spot in the next round and get to Martinsville to get to Homestead. "It's a tough challenge, but I'm just hoping that we have solid finishes and get a couple wins." Win by win, the column of checked boxes on Byron’s list seems to get longer and longer. While he focuses his target on the Camping World Truck Series championship for now, he aims higher later down the road. "Hopefully I can get to the (Sprint) Cup Series in the next four, five years," Byron said. "That's ultimately the goal to race at the top level of NASCAR. "I'm just trying to build those opportunities as they come and hopefully that's what lies ahead." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Keselowski clinches Chase berth with win at Kentucky
SPRINT CUP SERIES Brad Keselowski officially clinched a berth in the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on Saturday at Kentucky Speedway by having multiple wins and enough points to remain in the top 30 of the standings for the rest of the regular season. HOW IT HAPPENED Keselowski formally locked up his postseason berth with a win at Kentucky (his fourth this season and third career win at Kentucky ) and help from the rest of the field as his 595 driver points give him the needed 361-point cushion over the 31st-place driver in the standings, Brian Scott (217). No matter what happens the rest of the regular season, Keselowski can't fall below 30th in the standings. CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES William Byron and Matt Crafton officially clinched berths this weekend in Kentucky in the inaugural eight-driver NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase. HOW IT HAPPENED William Byron: Byron won at Kentucky , his fourth victory of the season, and clinched a spot in the top 30 in points no matter what happens in the remainder of the regular season. Matt Crafton : Due to a tight points race around the 31st position, Crafton exited Kentucky guaranteed to finish in the top 30 in points by the end of the regular season. He also has two regular-season series wins, so there's no way he'll fall outside the top 30 in points. He's in. XFINITY SERIES No XFINITY Series drivers have clinched a Chase spot yet.
Mixed reviews, but Kentucky looks to get better with age
All the question marks leading into the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on the newly repaved Kentucky Speedway got answers in Saturday night's Quaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto Parts. But the topsy-turvy event made some of the answers less clear-cut than most, with drivers' mixed reviews expressing their quibbles about the 1.5-mile track's treacherous conditions but their understanding about why the race played out the way it did. NASCAR used a reduced downforce package as a potential preview of 2017's aero rules for its top division, but did so on a freshly repaved and reconfigured layout. Competition and track officials took as many measures as possible to synthetically age the track, but the racing groove remained a narrow path for the duration of the 267-lap race, making passing a dicey proposition and contributing to 11 yellow flags, a figure that tied a track record. Tires also played a prominent role in altering the race's complexion. After some instances of blistering during a test last month, Goodyear changed course on the tire compound for the Kentucky race, trading grip and faster wear for more durable rubber. The harder compound became a lament for several drivers, though several acknowledged that safety was paramount in the decision. "It's really nobody's fault," said Tony Stewart , who secured his second top-five finish of the season in making his 600th career start Saturday night. "I mean, Goodyear's trying to do what they can to protect themselves and make sure they don't have tire problems. They didn't have to worry about that -- it was the hardest thing on the planet. NHL doesn't have anything on them on a hard puck, but like every other repave, as they get laps and more races on this track, it'll get to where they can come off the hardness of the tire and it'll be better for everybody. This is as bad as it's going to get; it'll get better from here. … "It's kind of hard when you have conditions like that, but the track's going to be fine, NASCAR did the right thing. It's easy to point the finger at Goodyear, but they had to do what they thought was right and what was conservative for them. It's just way too hard, and the wrecks kind of proved that." Dale Earnhardt Jr. , who faded to a 13th-place finish after his No. 88 Chevrolet sputtered out of fuel on the last lap, agreed. "It's a conservative tire. I understand why they did it because of the blistering they had in the test," Earnhardt said. "We can't come here and blister right-fronts (tires) and have guys pounding the fence at 190 miles an hour. And the low downforce -- I don't know if all that stuff is a great combination. … I mean, you couldn't hustle the car at all. You're just on pins and needles all the time on restarts, like 'uhhhh, I don't want to lose any ground.' Boy, if I have a big slip, I'm going to lose all kinds of track position, which happened over and over." Race winner Brad Keselowski had a more pressing issue with saving fuel over the final green-flag stretch, but acknowledged the challenges specifically posed by the track's new asymmetrical layout. With more banking in the speedier Turns 1 and 2 (17 degrees) than in Turns 3 and 4 (14 degrees), drivers required more brake and finesse on one end of the track than the other. "I'm not sure, but it took a lot discipline to run this track tonight," said Keselowski, who wrapped up his third Kentucky win in the Sprint Cup Series. "If you got into Turn 3 and 4 the least bit wrong, you wrecked. That's just the way the race was, and I think that's what we saw. There's arguments to be made good or bad for that. I think it's a good challenge. We're professional race car drivers. It shouldn't be easy. It wasn't tonight. It was very, very difficult. You had to certainly be very smart." Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, said afterward that competition officials have no plans to try the rules package again this season as a possible prelude to 2017. He said that the aerodynamic setup performed as it should, while recognizing the challenges presented by Kentucky's new pavement. "We've known as an industry that the repaves are very, very difficult historically," Miller said. "This was no different. But really the action in all three of the events this weekend I thought for a repave, it turned out really well, and we had obviously tonight a lot of action, like Brad said, a little dicey getting down there in Turn 3 on the restarts especially. "I think the low, low downforce package, if that's what we're calling it now, helped at this race on the repave. I think the corner speeds would have been extremely high, and with the higher downforce stepping out of the groove might have even had more consequences than we had tonight." The onward march of time and weather will likely help the racing groove expand for future races. Other variables will remain moving targets, but much like the Bluegrass State's trademark bourbon, the Kentucky Speedway asphalt should only grow better with age. "I think this package will work great at some other tracks with a different tire, a different surface," Earnhardt said. "This was probably as good as they could've expected with a repave. They're always nasty races, you know."
Michigan's August race will use provisional 2017 aero rules package
NASCAR competition officials announced Thursday morning that the Sprint Cup Series' Aug. 28 race at Michigan International Speedway will feature an additional, final test of the provisional 2017 aerodynamics rules package. The reduced downforce rules setup will be the same that was used in the series' June 12 stop at the 2-mile oval. NASCAR's top division also used forms of the package during the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May and the series' stop at Kentucky Speedway earlier this month. RELATED: How repave, aero package worked at Kentucky in July The most prominent visible changes from the current rules package are a smaller rear spoiler -- reduced 1 inch to a 2.5-inch height -- and the removal of rear-axle offset or "skew." Those adjustments -- combined with modifications to cooling fans, the front splitter and the rear-deck fin -- continue the trend in NASCAR's premier series of limiting the effects of downforce and sideforce on the cars. The effects have favored driver control over an overly stabilized car in an effort to promote passing and side-by-side racing. Before Thursday's announcement, the series' July 9 Quaker State 400 at newly repaved Kentucky was to be the final audition for the 2017 base package. Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, said after that race that he wouldn't rule out an additional tryout, but indicated that the sanctioning body would likely avoid tinkering with aero rules for the final 10 races that make up the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. "After tonight we'll go back and we'll sort of reconvene with the drivers and the owners and the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and decide where we're going," Miller said July 9. "We're open to a lot of different options, and if something like that bubbles up and we have industry support for it, nothing right now is out of the question." Miller added that the Kentucky race was originally intended to be the proposed package's final event to provide teams "the most runway" toward preparations for next season. But when asked, drivers said they supported one final demonstration, singling out Michigan as a possible venue. RELATED: New rules on display at Michigan 'a promising direction' "I think, obviously subject to change after this weekend is over, but my initial thought is I would like to see it back at Michigan with just a few subtle changes that can be ascertained from what we've learned over this weekend and the previous Michigan weekend," Brad Keselowski said July 7. "Maybe a small tweak from what we've learned and go again at Michigan in the second race would kind of be my initial thought, so I would say yes." Said Matt Kenseth, the defending race winner of Michigan's August 400-miler: "I think Michigan is a pretty good judge. I mean, there's only the one race on it, but that place is starting to wear in a little bit. They've been able to bring a little bit softer tire. The groove has been widening out because it's been a few years since the repave, so I think that's our fastest top-speed track we go to. I think that's a pretty good place to evaluate it." Next month's Pure Michigan 400 will mark the first time in three races that the 2-mile track has hosted consecutive Sprint Cup events with the same rules package. Last August, competition officials experimented with a high-drag aero configuration before trying out the potential 2017 package in June. The set-up was also used by four teams during a Goodyear tire test at Michigan on May 17. Michigan was last repaved ahead of the 2012 season.
Brad Keselowski wins fuel-mileage game at Kentucky
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Keselowski gear SPARTA, Ky. – Brad Keselowski had his mojo working in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. Saving just enough fuel to get to the finish line, Keselowski eked out a heart-thumping victory over Carl Edwards to win his second consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and his third at Kentucky Speedway. But this was not the same bumpy, abrasive Kentucky Speedway where Keselowski went to Victory Lane in 2012 and 2014. This was a repaved, reconfigured 1.5-mile intermediate track fraught with treachery, especially when combined with the lower-downforce aerodynamic package in use for the race. RELATED: Recap all of Keselowski's wins Keselowski got to the finish line .175 seconds ahead of Edwards, who made up a deficit of more than six seconds in the final 10 laps but couldn't quite get to Keselowski's rear bumper on the final lap. When Keselowski took the checkered flag, his fuel cell was dry. The driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford didn’t have enough gas to do a celebratory burnout, and he needed a push from a safety truck to get to Victory Lane. Keselowski took the lead from Kevin Harvick after a restart on Lap 200 and held it the rest of the way, except for Lap 261, when Matt Kenseth took the top spot and immediately came to pit road for fuel. By then, the die was cast for Keselowski, who was committed to finishing the race without another fuel stop. "We knew the fuel mileage," said Keselowski, who won for the fourth time this year, the 21st time in his career, and became the first driver to officially clinch a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. "We went out and we set a really fast pace there on that restart and were just using fuel, and then it became obvious that you were going to have to save fuel at the end, but I already used so much. "It's a testament to our guys to have the fuel mileage that we did to be able to get back what I burnt early in the run and get the Miller Lite Ford in Victory Lane. Usually these repaves are kind of my Achilles heel, but to get a win here at Kentucky … I know it's been a good track for us in the past, but this isn't the same Kentucky , I can tell you that. "These cars were tough to drive today, but a good tough. This was a hard-fought battle, and I'm really proud of everybody on the 2 crew to get win number four and take that first place." When Keselowski slowed through Turn 4 on the next-to-last lap, Edwards thought he had the race won, but in retrospect, Edwards believed he had been beaten by a cunning opponent. "Yeah, I thought he was out of fuel coming off of (Turn) 4, but he actually did it very well," Edwards said of Keselowski, who indicated on his radio with more than a lap left that he was out of fuel. "If he didn't beat me, I'd be more impressed… "I guess I'm impressed that he did beat me, but I don't want to be. He waited. He basically shut the car off and went right off of 4 and matched it perfectly to where I couldn't get by him down the front straightaway, and then he ran like heck through 1 and 2, and then I thought maybe he'll run out down the back straight. Man, I dove it down in there trying to catch him into 3, and I couldn't even get to him." RELATED: Edwards discusses finish of race Keselowski, however, said he thought he was out of gas when his car sputtered off Turn 4. "I didn't think I was going to win the race," Keselowski said. Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. dominated the first two-thirds of the event, leading 128 and 46 laps, respectively. Truex had taken the lead off pit road on Lap 196, but NASCAR sent him to the rear of the field for passing Harvick, then the race leader, on the entry to pit road. For the last 68 laps, Truex drove like a madman, advancing from 23rd to as high as third before pitting for fuel and finishing 10th. "It wasn't my night on that deal," Truex said. "It's frustrating, we had the car to beat. We came out with the lead and they took it away from us. It's just the way it goes, I guess." Particularly perilous throughout the race were the flatter of the two corners —Turns 3 and 4 — with the entry to Turn 3 especially daunting. Ten laps into the race, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. pancaked the right side of his No. 17 Ford against the outside wall of the Turn 3 torture chamber. Nor were champions and frontrunners exempt from calamity. On Lap 32, Jimmie Johnson spun through Turn 4 and crumpled the left rear quarter of his No. 48 Chevrolet. On Lap 53, Joey slammed the Turn 3 wall after scraping it 10 laps earlier. On Lap 88, Ryan Blaney spun from the middle of a three-wide dilemma in Turn 3 and took the No. 24 Chevrolet of fellow Sunoco Rookie of the Year competitor Chase Elliott with him. On Lap 93, the cars of Brian Scott , Chris Buescher and AJ Allmendinger were mangled in an eight-car pileup. Lap 194 produced the 11th caution of the race, tying the record set last year, but from a restart on Lap 200 through the finish on Lap 267, the race ran green, and Keselowski was able to squeeze 68 laps out of his fuel cell. "We were totally out at the start/finish line," said Paul Wolfe, Keselowski's crew chief. "So it couldn't have timed out any better." Notes: Kurt Busch ran fourth, followed by Tony Stewart , who scored a top five in his 600th career start… Greg Biffle scored a season-best sixth-place finish… Harvick came home ninth and saw his series points lead shrink to four markers over Keselowski. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;