Kevin Swindell ’s takes a hard hit to the inside wall, which ends his night at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Kevin Swindell crashes into the Turn 3 wall after contact with Drew Herring.
Tanner Berryhill collides with Kevin Swindell collecting points leader Chase Elliott.
RELATED: Watch Harvick's burnout " Effort to hinder inspections? Rodney Childers, crew chief for the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team and driver Kevin Harvick , used photos and humor to make his points after oblique but pointed accusations by fellow Sprint Cup competitors that Kevin Harvick 's burnout at Dover may have been an effort to cover up infractions. Childers tweeted a response to Tuesday's insinuations. I don't have a clue how we passed tech the 18 or 19 times we have been to tear down and not done a burn out.. https://t.co/Qy4AiAnE8x — Rodney Childers (@RodneyChilders4) October 7, 2015 The No. 4 team was a hot topic among other drivers at Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Contender Round Media Day on Tuesday, with several drivers questioning if the team would intentionally damage such a dominant race car and saying that the practice was relatively commonplace. Harvick led 355 of 400 laps in Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway . It was a race he had to win to reach the second round of the Chase after a wreck put him in last place in the field of 16 coming out of Chicagoland. Childers also brought history to bear as he made his point about burnouts via photos on Instagram , posting 13 photos of Harvick doing victory burnouts, reaching back to the driver's time in the No. 29 car. Told about some competitors' beliefs that Harvick's contact with the wall during his celebratory burnout at Dover was intentional and a way to circumvent post-race inspection from revealing anything amiss, Harvick responded with amused wordplay. "I knew how to knock my car back into compliance by rubbing it up against the wall," he said, grinning. RELATED: Watch Harvick in Victory Lane A few more photos from Childers:
Trouble strikes early for Kevin Swindell and Brad Sweet as they get caught up in a crash in Turn 1.
@nascarcasm imagines Harvick's Facebook page after his Chase win RELATED: All content from @nascarcasm " Follow @nascarcasm
The importance of Jimmie's Chase dismissal, Junior's close call at Dover RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated " Harvick shoves Johnson post-race If you're a regular reader of Herman Unplugged, you know that clairvoyant Kenny Wallace called for Kevin Harvick to win in "walk-off" fashion once again at Dover. He was on the record early and this wasn't Phoenix, where Harvick has a habit of making victories look routine. He'd never won at the Monster Mile … until Sunday. Now? "I really feel that Harvick's gonna win Charlotte and lock himself in again," Herman said. "When you look at the last two races at Loudon and Dover, two completely different race tracks, this is speed we haven't seen since the Jimmie Johnson glory days. He has utterly dominated these last two races, so I don't know why that would stop going into Charlotte. "The only thing that's gonna stop him is a blown tire, wreck or parts failure." NASCAR ILLUSTRATED: Speaking of that, a faulty inexpensive axle seal felled Jimmie Johnson at Dover and dropped him from the Chase. That's a bad beat… HERMAN: "Some of the smallest items in the history of building a car have cost such big deals. An axle seal is a complete fluke. I don't think I've ever seen one go out of a passenger car much less a Sprint Cup car. One would think that with all the engineering and all the machinery at Hendrick, they're probably making their own axle seals, so it was probably the rubber that they used that was a freak deal. Who in the hell would have ever thought it would be an axle seal?" NI: Pretty riveting back and forth battle between McMurray and Junior at the end of Dover race. How important was that for the sport with Junior grabbing the final playoff spot in this next round? HERMAN: "It was bigger than big, no doubt. I was asked on the prerace show: 'Will Dale Jr. make it into the Contender Round?' And I said no because I thought Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick would outrun him and they did. But what we did not see was Jimmie Johnson falling out of the race. Nine times out of 10, Dale Jr. is gonna outrun Jamie McMurray , right? These were two drivers that really wanted it bad and this incredible drama built and at the end it looks like Jamie is gonna do it. Even Dale Jr. said it was that caution. The caution came out and it changes our sport moving forward. If that last caution does not come out, 70% of our fan base remains depressed and sad. That was pretty incredible to see that last late race restart." NI: The other remaining Hendrick driver, Jeff Gordon , did what he needed to do as well but he's winless on the season. Do you have any problem if a winless driver claims the championship under this format like Ryan Newman nearly did a year ago? HERMAN: "I have never had a problem with someone scoring more points than the other person. Special things happen when things change sometimes. Every time you look up at the end of the year now, Ryan Newman is there without coming close to winning a race. If Jeff Gordon continues to run consistent and keeps getting better and buying himself more time, we still got seven races to go, and maybe that team can find him some speed. But how do you deny somebody scoring more points than the other person? I know people feel like you have to win but throughout our whole history as a sport it's never been based on wins, it's been based on points." NI: Logano would be leading Harvick by eight points under the old system with Junior in third 76 points back. Do you prefer one system over the other when it comes to crowning a champion? HERMAN: "I like this system; I don't like one race determining the champion and I'll tell you why. In baseball and football, we deal with human beings. In auto racing, we deal with parts and pieces that are made by machinery. To determine who is the greatest all year long on one race is brutal. That's the way I look at it. Last year, Joey Logano came down pit road and the jackman had the worst stop of his life and it took Joey out. I don't think he could have outrun Harvick anyway but it took him out of contending. I would like to see this system stay but give it something to add longevity in the end. Maybe we go 3-3-3 and let the last three determine a champion instead of one damn race." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
RELATED: Gordon by the numbers at Charlotte As Jeff Gordon 's farewell tour winds down, so do the number of chances to scratch the win column in his final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The four-time champion sees opportunities in the seven races that remain, however, even as a bigger goal looms. Gordon took his rightful place among the 12 title-eligible Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Tuesday, just days before the three-race Contender Round kicks off with this Saturday night's Bank of America 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM). A victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend would provide a bookend for his career at the site of his first major-league triumph, back in 1994. With 29 races in the books, Gordon is facing down the prospect of a winless final season, but he said a title ring for the thumb would be the ultimate trump card. "I mean, I'll be disappointed, but at the same time, I'm a realistic person and we've rarely put ourselves in position and had the cars and the team to do that," Gordon said. "I think certainly Martinsville's high on my list of opportunities, and I feel like we've been able to win there the last several years. I've got to make sure I go in there and do my job because I think we're very capable of winning there. "To me, the championship overrides that, and even if we don't win a race and win the championship, that'll supersede the win." Gordon qualified for the 10-race postseason on the basis of points and advanced through the first three-race series with finishes of 14th (Chicagoland), seventh (New Hampshire) and 12th (Dover). Passing the Challenger Round test mirrored the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 team's steady effort from the regular season, when Gordon placed in the top 10 in half of the 26 races. With the points re-racked for the next round, Gordon said having equal footing in the standings makes the championship race a new day for all 12 finalists, icing on the season-ending cake. "I feel like it's all bonus from here on out," Gordon said. "We haven't had the best year, but we've done a great job at fighting and overcoming things and here we are with having -- up to the Chase -- not a very great performance, and yet we're in the Chase. And I think we showed in Chicago that we've improved our mile-and-a-half program. Let's hope that continues these next two weeks, but it's full-on reset. "We came into this thing very far behind in bonus points and now we're on an even playing field as far as points are concerned. You've got to just play to your strengths, and I think our strengths are that we're very consistent, we've got a lot of fight in us, and we've had to fight through a lot of things this year, so we're very experienced at that." Gordon exited the title hunt last year in the Eliminator Round, the final three-race series before the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Though the current Chase format is only in its second year, Gordon said the pressure "only intensifies from here" as the season winds down. One team that has risen in close correlation with the stress levels has been the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 outfit helmed by defending series champion Kevin Harvick , who converted a must-win situation last weekend at Dover to keep his repeat hopes alive. Though Gordon said the focus remains in-house for the No. 24 bunch for the time being, it's been hard to ignore the accomplishments from Harvick & Co. "We're in a category right now where it's really just focus on how we get ourselves to Homestead and then see who we need to worry about, but the first step is just that," Gordon said. "But I will say consistently every weekend, he's at the top of board, he's the guy that I think everybody's measuring themselves off of, but in all honesty I think he's in a whole 'nother category right now."
RELATED: Full practice results Wheeling his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet at 193.500 mph, Kevin Harvick surged to the top of the leaderboard during Thurday's opening Sprint Cup Series practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Matt Kenseth 's late lap of 192.892 mph sent his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing ride to the second spot on the leaderboard. Roush Fenway Racing 's Greg Biffle also made a late lap, his No. 16 ride clocking a third-best speed of 192.885 mph. Team Penske 's Joey Logano used a fast lap of 192.458 mph to snag the fourth spot, while Kasey Kahne propelled the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at 192.321 mph to round out the top five. Having paced the field for the majority of practice, Ryan Blaney settled into eighth by the session's end, rounding the 1.5-mile North Carolina track at 192.048 mph. Kyle Busch was the slowest among the 12 Chase Contenders, coming in at 21st-fastest with a top pace of 191.049 mph. The Sprint Cup Series is back on track at Charlotte at 7:20 p.m. ET for Coors Light Pole Qualifying (NBCSN/Live Extra).
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said Thursday that meetings about a potential franchise system for participation in its upper series have already taken place, sparking ongoing talks with its team owners about the direction of stock car racing competition. France made the remarks during an afternoon appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's "Tradin' Paint" program, telling hosts Jim Noble and Chocolate Myers that improving the current framework was crucial to the overall health of the sport. "Any time we can improve the structure for our team owners, that's a good thing," France told SiriusXM. "If we can improve their business model, we can improve their overall structure, then what's going to happen is new owners will be more inclined to look at wanting to participate in NASCAR; that's a good thing. The other good thing is, the level of competition goes up because the more healthy the team owners are, the better we're going to be. "We're working alongside of all the team owners to see what's possible, and we're going to have to go down the road and keep working at it. That's very important to us." France also discussed the soon-to-be-released schedules for all three NASCAR national series, saying that teams and fans alike should not expect a dramatic overhaul to the 2016 racing calendar. "I can tell you that the schedule is not going to change materially at all," France said. "There are things in the sanction agreements with the tracks that are unrelated to the dates that have to be worked out, and that's really what we're doing now. That's taking a little longer than normal. The schedule will look very similar." With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Myers pressed France for an accelerated release of the 2016 schedules on behalf of Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who has expressed his wishes for a prompt announcement so that he might better plan his wedding to Amy Reimann. "I understand," said France, biting on the joke. "That does take precedence, so we'll make sure to put those dates right in front of him so he knows when they are." France also took time to assess the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after the Challenger Round, the opening three-round series of the postseason. In doing so, France lauded last weekend's clutch victory by Kevin Harvick at Dover International Speedway that kept his repeat title hopes intact. "What you really are seeing is, this is the era of big moments and big performances," France said. "Being consistent and steady, that's important but that's getting pushed to the wayside. It's whoever can step up their performance."