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Ty Dillon subs for Stewart, salvages sixth at Talladega
RELATED: Talladega results Ty Dillon subbed in for three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart on Sunday, taking over the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet and driving it to a sixth-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway . The team made the driver switch in the 52nd of a scheduled 188 laps in Sunday's GEICO 500 . The swap went according to plan, with Dillon intending to fill in during the first caution period as Stewart eases back to full-time competition after suffering a broken back in an offseason all-terrain vehicle accident. From there, Dillon managed to avoid the four multicar crashes that followed, including one that punctuated the event at the checkered flag. The result earned Stewart 35 valuable championship points as he tries to position himself for a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. "All in all I'm so glad I got a good finish for Tony," Dillon said post-race. "I know this team is so strong they're going to win a race and get in the top 30. Just glad I got to be a part of what they're going to do this year." RELATED: Ty and Tony make the switch, frame-by-frame After a pit-road speeding penalty during the first round of green-flag pit stops, Stewart was running a lap down at the time of the first caution period, triggered by a three-car crash involving Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kasey Kahne and Matt DiBenedetto . Stewart was the beneficiary of the yellow flag, putting him back on the lead lap. After regaining his lost lap, Stewart pitted separately of the main pack and Dillon resumed near the tail end of the field in 33rd place. "I think it went well; it might have been a little bit slower … but we were being patient, methodical," Dillon said of the driver swap, a change-over the team rehearsed during Friday practice. "I had my belts tight and everything was really smooth. We just made sure everything was perfect. We knew we had ample amount of time and it went well." Stewart told FOX Sports' Jamie Little after exiting the car that "it sucks" to turn over the wheel, but that he understood the reasoning. He plans to return full-time next weekend at Kansas Speedway . "If I wouldn't have broken my back in the end of January, we wouldn't have been in this situation," Stewart said. "The good news is it's the last time I've got to do it and then I'm back in the next week. Really appreciate Ty. I mean, he's been a rock star through this whole thing and especially this weekend. He's done all the heavy lifting and I just go riding around for 50 laps and turn it over to him." WATCH: Stewart talks about getting out of the car Multiple chaotic wrecks ensued in the laps that followed the driver change, further justifying Stewart's decision. Dillon, a NASCAR XFINITY Series regular with 12 Sprint Cup starts, managed to keep the SHR entry free of major involvement the rest of the way. "I don't know how I missed them, really," Dillon said. "(Spotter) Bob Jeffrey on top of the roof did a great job navigating me through. Just missed them by a narrow margin but we missed them. That was all that mattered." Dillon drove the No. 14 in Saturday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying to the 14th starting spot. Stewart started Sunday's 500-miler, dropping to the rear of the 40-car field before the green flag because of the driver change. "Guys, I know this isn't the optimal situation, but we have a kid who's done a great job for us," Stewart told his team over the radio during pace laps. "He'll do another great job today." As the driver of record at the initial start, Stewart was credited with the finish and points. The two-driver effort moved Stewart up two spots to 38th in the Sprint Cup driver standings, 71 points behind 30th-place DiBenedetto. Under the terms of the medical eligibility waiver granted by NASCAR upon his return, Stewart must win a race and finish among the top 30 in driver standings to qualify for a Chase berth. Dillon made three starts for SHR this season in place of Stewart, dividing driving duties with Brian Vickers in the eight races Stewart was sidelined. Contributing: Kenny Bruce
Staff picks for GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
RELATED: See all the cars lined up for Sunday's race Denny Hamlin : If Joe Gibbs Racing can get organized in the same way it did at Daytona in February, the No. 11 could be the winning ticket at Talladega. -- Zack Albert Dale Earnhardt Jr .: Series' best plate racer has had three runner-up finishes this season. He's due. -- Kenny Bruce Jimmie Johnson : This will mark the 10th Talladega race since Johnson last won here and, quite simply, it's time. While his teammates will grab the lion's share of the attention, "Six-Time" will ultimately hold the winner's trophy -- his third. -- Holly Cain Joey Logano : Entering the weekend, I'd already pegged Joey Logano as the favorite -- then he went out and topped final practice. Seemingly due for a win and with a pair of restrictor-plate victories in his back pocket from last year, what more are you looking for ? -- Pat DeCola Ryan Blaney : His best Cup finish came in this race last year and Penske, with whom Wood Brothers is affiliated, has taken two of the last three 'Dega races. -- RJ Kraft Dale Earnhardt Jr .: I'm jumping on the Junior bandwagon. He's always the one to beat at the 2.66-mile track and he'll make it difficult for the rest of the field en route to his seventh Cup win here. -- Maggie MacKenzie Brad Keselowski : The 2012 premier series champion spoils the recent Hendrick-JGR show of power, thanks to his own racing ingenuity and plenty of fast Fords with which to partner. -- Brad Norman Brad Keselowski : The Team Penske driver earned his first Cup win in 2009 at Talladega and has won twice more since. Couple that with he and teammate Joey Logano 's history of working closely together on-track -- a crucial element to plate racing -- and 'Dega Victory Lane could be calling Keselowski's name. -- Jessica Ruffin Matt Kenseth : All the bad luck that the No. 20 team has had this year has masked impressive speed. Talladega is about both luck and speed. With the former in hand as shown by his fourth-place qualifying effort, Kenseth is due for a more auspicious turn of his fortune. -- Kathy Sheldon Denny Hamlin : Hamlin saw Victory Lane two years ago at Talladega and with his 2016 Daytona 500 win under his belt, the JGR driver seems ready to dominate another superspeedway this season. -- Taylor Starer Chase Elliott : His dad won here twice and the man who drove the No. 24 before him won here six times. Talladega has been known to produce dramatic moments, so let's root for another one to happen Sunday. -- George Winkler Make your picks in Streak to the Finish !
Keselowski holds off field for Talladega victory
RELATED: Race results SHOP: No. 2 gear TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Taking control in the final three laps of Sunday's wreck-filled GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway , Brad Keselowski claimed his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at the 2.66-mile race track and solidified his spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Choosing the top lane for a restart on Lap 186 of 188, Keselowski powered his No. 2 Team Penske Ford past Kurt Busch with two laps left and crossed the finish line as a gaggle of cars wrecked behind him coming to the stripe. "The last three or four restarts before that, the high lane had went, and as the leader a lot of it is out of your control," Keselowski said in Victory Lane. "You need the cars behind you to push and a couple of them they did and a couple they didn't. That's just part of racing, and there was nobody at fault with that. "We actually lost the lead and got a better run. Jamie McMurray behind me gave me a great push, and then Kyle Busch gave me a push that was big to clear the 41 ( Kurt Busch ), and without those two I couldn't have made it to the front. So 'Thank you' to them. It's Talladega. This is my fourth win here. I never thought I'd win at Talladega four times, and I'm super-pumped. This is awesome." In claiming the 19th victory of his career, Keselowski became the fourth two-time winner in the Sprint Cup series this season. RELATED: Keselowski celebrates fourth 'Dega win The race ended under caution, with Kyle Busch in second place and Austin Dillon bringing his battered No. 3 Chevrolet home in third as the survivor of two early crashes. McMurray ran fourth, one spot ahead of polesitter Chase Elliott , who worked his way up from ninth to fifth after the final restart. Ty Dillon finished sixth after taking over for Tony Stewart under the first caution on Lap 51, a move that proved wise given the combination of Stewart's recent recovery from a broken back and the chaos that followed late in the race. Clint Bowyer was seventh -- his best result so far this year -- and Kurt Busch was shuffled back to eighth on the final lap. With drivers jockeying for position and making risky moves throughout the race -- with a sense of urgency exacerbated by the threat of rain that never came -- Sunday's event featured 10 cautions and more torn-up race cars than one can count on a full complement of fingers and toes. There wasn't just one "Big One." There were three massive wrecks at Talladega on Sunday, with one melee on Lap 161 involving 21 cars, more than half the field. Kurt Busch ignited that accident by tapping Jimmie Johnson 's bumper in the wrong place, turning Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet into Paul Menard 's Chevy and triggering a wreck that ended with chassis strewn across the racing surface and on the infield grass. On Lap 181, a 12-car chain-reaction incident took out hard-luck Matt Kenseth , who had led 39 laps, second only to Keselowski's 46. Earlier, on Lap 96, Chris Buescher 's No. 34 Ford took the brunt of a seven-car crash that ended with Buescher barrel-rolling three times after contact from Michael Annett 's Chevrolet. "I thought we were clear of the wreck," Buescher said after leaving the infield care center. "I saw it happening in front of us and checked up, and the next thing I knew I was upside down. "We felt we were decent this race. We were holding our own and waiting, but here we are. It's unfortunate. I really hate it for the guys." By the time Buescher flipped, Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s winning chance already had evaporated. Fighting a loose handling condition in heavy traffic, Earnhardt lost control of his No. 88 Chevrolet on Lap 50 and wiped out Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne . Earnhardt returned to the race only to be ridden into the Turn 1 wall when Carl Edwards ' damaged Toyota blew a right front tire and shot up the track into Earnhardt's path. That was a two-car incident, a small one relative to the multicar crashes that followed in the second half of the race, which, in true restrictor-plate racing fashion, produced 37 lead changes among 17 drivers. "You know, it's just Talladega,” Kyle Busch said, summing up the afternoon. "It is what it is. These cars, you try to get a little bit aggressive, start bumping people and pushing people, they're real easy to get out of control. "I really don't know why we're bumping and pushing and everything else, because these cars, they go slower when you push. Makes a lot of sense. That's how stupid we are." Keselowski might argue that point, because pushes from both McMurray and Busch got him to the front when it counted most.
Right at home: Bowyer set for Kansas truck start
RELATED: Truck Series entry list Clint Bowyer is scheduled to make his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start in nearly two years, running Friday night's event as a home-state favorite at Kansas Speedway . Bowyer -- an Emporia, Kansas native -- is listed as the driver of record for the GMS Racing No. 24 Chevrolet for Friday's Toyota Tundra 250 (8:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Bowyer is a three-time winner in the series, with his most recent victory coming on June 4, 2011 in his only Truck Series start at the 1.5-mile Kansas track. His most recent Truck Series appearance netted a fourth-place finish at Pocono Raceway in August 2014. Bowyer will run double-duty in NASCAR national-series competition for the first time this season. He's also set to drive the HScott Motorsports No. 15 Chevrolet in Saturday night's GoBowling 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) for the Sprint Cup Series. Friday's 250.5-mile Camping World Truck Series event kicks off three consecutive weekends of racing for the Truck Series, with Dover and Charlotte to follow Kansas on the 23-race schedule.
Talla-mento Dogwich: Super food for a superspeedway
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Heading into its first NASCAR weekend of the 2016 season, Talladega Superspeedway announced a new culinary creation to its repertoire -- the Talla-mento Dogwich. Described as a "grilled, all-beef hot dog split into two and placed on top of melted Yancey's Fancy buffalo cheddar cheese, topped with a generous helping of Pimiento Cheese, placed in between two slices of Texas toast (grilled to golden brown) and cut down the middle." In between XFINITY and Sprint Cup Series qualifying at 'Dega on Saturday, I decided to give it a whirl. It took me a few, hesitant seconds before taking my first bite. Perhaps inspired by what would've been the late Dale Earnhardt's 65th birthday on Friday, the thing was intimidating. "We have the best and most competitive form of racing in the world here at Talladega Superspeedway , and now we have the most unique, tasty and big-menu items anywhere," said Talladega Superspeedway chairman Grant Lynch. "At Talladega, size matters and our fans won't be disappointed with the incredibly large Talla-Mento Dogwich. It joins 'The Big One Meatball' (last year's concoction) as the most creative and delicious food items at any sporting event in the world." Spoiler alert -- I couldn't finish it. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. First bite impressions: powerful, buttery overtones hit you first (the Texas toast was buttered and grilled perfectly) before the hot dog and cheese flavors follow. It's a solid first bite, meeting my expectations going in. Midway through is when I started to taste the heat from the pimento cheese, but it was mild. As a general buffalo-flavored-anything fan, I was excited to see how the Yancey's Fancy buffalo cheddar cheese came into play, but it was subtle, if at all noticeable. I haven't tried that cheese by itself before, so it's entirely possible the buffalo flavor is intended to take a backseat to the cheddar flavor, but I was hoping for more of a kick. It was slightly difficult to keep the sandwich intact, with the hot dogs initially laid across in an X-shape, marking the spot -- at the cross-section of guilt and pleasure. Unlike the description from Lynch, my sandwich was uncut. I think if it'd been sliced down the middle (rectangle style) with a hot dog slice on each slide, it would've produced better results and dispensed some of the flavors a little more evenly. I tapped out with a full belly about three-quarters through. Overall, for a warm, sunny day at the race track it makes for a good comfort food if you have some calories to spare. Verdict: For $5, it'll definitely fill you up. Recommended to fans who really love hot dogs and pimento cheese. (Duh.) Find it: OV Hill North, OV Hill South, Tri-Oval Tower, Infield.
Bruce: Few unscathed, fewer clear fixes for Talladega turmoil
RELATED: Talladega results " Gallery: Sunday at the track Editor's note: The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author. TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Raise your hand if your favorite driver wasn't involved in at least one crash Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway . Anyone? Chances are, he or she was. The GEICO 500 was one of those races … let's see, how best to describe it? Wild? Yes. Intense? Yes. Explosive? Yes. Insane and I don't know why we continue to race there? Well … It is and they do, and as long as they do, drivers and fans will continue coming back. Multicar crashes certainly aren't anything new at Talladega; the 2.66-mile track has been the site of such incidents almost from the very day the track hosted its first NASCAR-sanctioned race back in 1969. As Sunday's race wore on, the number of cars involved in one melee or another continued to mount. Three cars, then three more, then seven, and they're probably still adding up all the ones involved in the latter stages of the event. What was it, 21 cars caught up in an incident on Lap 161? That's more than half the starting field. The crews that were able to push their cars back to the garage after the race were the fortunate ones. There were far too many that arrived there on the back end of a wrecker, then were cut, lifted, twisted and rolled onto the team haulers for transport back to the various race shops. It probably wasn't worth the effort, judging by the looks of several. "Body shops are gonna be plenty busy this week," one crewman said. No one was seriously injured, and for that we should all be thankful. Ever-evolving safety measures did their jobs, but that probably wasn't going through the mind of Chris Buescher when his Front Row Racing Ford tumbled down the backstretch. Or Matt Kenseth when his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota took flight, then flipped and slid on its top, the asphalt grinding sheet metal into nothingness. Or Danica Patrick , whose Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet smashed into the inside wall with great force, buckling the SAFER barrier. "Racing has always been that balance of daredevils and chess players," race winner Brad Keselowski said. "Some weekends we're chess players, some weekends we're daredevils. This has always been the more daredevil style of track, which probably offsets some of the tracks that we go to where we're the chess player. "That's what makes the NASCAR season so much fun and so unique." Those who win tend to see things in a positive light. But without watching replays of the incidents, the Team Penske driver admitted it would be unwise to comment on individual situations. "I went flying last year at Daytona, and that's not fun," third-place finisher Austin Dillon recalled. " For guys that haven't done it, it's just not a fun thing to be a part of. I don't know how to fix it personally. I know NASCAR will put their efforts towards fixing it. … They've made the car safer. That's the reason why we're walking away from these crashes." Chances are, there's no "fix" for such things. Driver after driver has noted that such incidents are expected, if not quite accepted. "I hate it," defending series champion Kyle Busch said afterward. "I'd much rather sit at home." Already a winner this season, Busch noted, "I don't need to be here." Sour grapes? Hardly. Busch finished second. And on a day when the garage was quickly filling with torn-up race car after torn-up race car, second didn't seem so bad. Fans wandered through the garage, a few stopping to collect the occasional piece left behind. Darkness was descending as teams wrapped up their auto-surgery. Rain was on the way. But the big storm had already passed.
SpongeBob, NASCAR team up for new apparel
SHOP: SpongeBob NASCAR gear Do fire suits come in size square? NASCAR and Nickelodeon launched on Monday a new line of SpongeBob SquarePants-themed fan merchandise highlighting the absorbent yellow icon and his underwater cast of characters from Bikini Bottom. The new offerings include apparel for kids of all ages (yes, adults too!) as well as lanyards, beach towels, flags, koozies and more. So whether you want to show your fandom for the Krusty Krab pit crew or fly your Bikini Bottom colors with pride, the NASCAR Superstore has got you covered. But that's not all. This summer, Nickelodeon will unveil a line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed NASCAR gear as the season heats up for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway , the kick off of the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Fans can grab the new merchandise at the Fanatics Trackside Superstore and the NASCAR.com Superstore.
Stewart preps for relief driver switch at Talladega
RELATED: Weekend schedule " Dillon ready for action TALLADEGA, Ala. -- A week after returning to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, Tony Stewart becomes a start-and-park driver. In a manner of speaking. Start-and-watch might be more appropriate. The three-time premier series champion missed the season's first eight points races after suffering a back injury during the offseason. RELATED: Full timeline of Stewart's injury, comeback Stewart is scheduled to start his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in Sunday's GEICO 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Talladega Superspeedway before turning over the wheel to XFINITY Series driver Ty Dillon . It's an infrequent turn of events, but something that does happen from time to time in NASCAR. Last season, Erik Jones stepped in for Denny Hamlin at Bristol Motor Speedway after the Joe Gibbs Racing driver developed a neck spasm during a rain delay. Jones finished 26th. Hamlin was also involved in a driver swap at Talladega in 2013. Injured in an accident at Auto Club Speedway , Hamlin started the Aaron's 499 but eventually gave up the seat to Brian Vickers . J.J. Yeley replaced Bill Elliott during a race here in 2011; he also replaced Stewart in '08 during the summer race at Daytona. Stewart, speaking to the media Friday at Talladega, said he expects to do "what I always do around here at the beginning of the race … just ride around in the back until we get to the first caution." It won't be "glamorous," he said, but it meets his doctors' request. Well, almost. According to Stewart, his doctors didn't want him competing at all this weekend. "We need the points and so we talked them into letting us to at least start the race," said Stewart, who sits 101 points out of 30th. MORE: Standings pre-Talladega "I told them it normally doesn't go more than two or three laps at the beginning of the race before a caution. It might go 82 or 83 laps, who knows? But, we'll run until it gets there." Unofficially, the last time a relief driver won a NASCAR premier series race was 1977, and it occurred at Talladega as well. Donnie Allison started what was then a July race but eventually turned the driving over to Darrell Waltrip due to illness. Waltrip replaced Allison with 23 laps remaining and took the lead with six to go when race leader Skip Manning's car suffered mechanical problems. According to NASCAR rules, points earned by an entry are awarded to the driver starting the race, meaning Stewart will be credited with those earned Sunday by Dillon.
RCR makes changes to pit crews for Nos. 3, 31
Richard Childress Racing made changes to the pit crews for the No. 3 of Austin Dillon and the No. 31 of Ryan Newman . Chase Masterson is the new front tire changer on the No. 31. RCR promoted Masterson from the No. 62 XFINITY team to replace Tim Sheets. Sheets is now changing on the fronts of the No. 13 Germain Racing team. Meanwhile, the No. 3 team of Austin Dillon also made a move, bringing rear carrier Justin Voss up from the No. 62 XFINITY team. Rear carrier Josh Shipplett moved from the rear of the No. 3 to the front. For more pit-crew news, visit PitTalks.com .
Junior: 'Amelia' 'needs to be parked for awhile'
RELATED: Watch: Edwards finishes off Junior's bad day TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Perhaps it's time for Dale Earnhardt Jr . to break up with "Amelia." The Hendrick Motorsports driver and Chevrolet Chassis No. 88-872 -- affectionately dubbed "Amelia" by Junior after trailblazing pilot Amelia Earhart -- had their moments, winning twice in four restrictor-plate events in 2015, but things went sour early between the power couple in Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway , as they did in the season-opening Daytona 500 . RELATED: ' Amelia' goes spinning at Daytona The first caution of the race flew when the No. 88 driver appeared to lose control while driving in the midst of the lead pack on Lap 49 of the scheduled 188-lap event. "Amelia" suddenly spun, and No. 5 Kasey Kahne slammed into his HMS teammate, doling out significant damage. "Just got loose. I was in a bad spot with the wind. It pinned the nose real hard off the corner and the car was a little bit loose off the corner that run," Earnhardt explained at his hauler. "Real, real tight the first run (which) is why we fell back, we were just on the splitter real bad pushing. I could only run the top, I couldn't even run the middle or the bottom because the car just would plow across the race track. "So, we missed something this morning, I don't know, but the thing shouldn't have been on the splitter that hard. We couldn't fix that. You have to put packer in the front or something when it is on the splitter as bad as it was. It was still on the splitter that second run. I had a lot of wheel in the car in the middle of the corner and then the back was swinging on the exit with the adjustments we made on the pit stop. Just a bad combination … We just got to look at what we are doing on our adjustments and try not to do that." Earnhardt, who said "the same thing that happened at Daytona to us," took his car to the garage to assess the damage, his crew working to get his ride back on track shortly after the halfway mark, 46 laps down. Not long after, the No. 88 again ran into trouble after making hard contact with the No. 19 of Carl Edwards on Lap 110, forcing its hood up over the windshield and catching on fire. WATCH: Edwards finishes off Junior's bad day "We were just out there riding around and something broke on the 19 and he came up into us and we were just out there chilling out, having fun," Earnhardt said. More importantly, it appeared to cause a problem with the No. 88's steering wheel, which completely came off. "Oh, it (came) off. Yeah, I didn't have it on there. Luckily it was under caution," said Earnhardt, who managed to corral his machine without taking another major hit. "I just grabbed the shaft and steered the car that way. Ripped the skin off my hand, but I wasn't going to let it hit the wall. That was just a freak deal. … We're working on something to keep that from happening going forward." The car did not return to the track after that, saddling Earnhardt with a 40th-place finish and possibly resulting in a final resting spot for "Amelia" in Earnhardt's car graveyard. "Hell, I'm going home. I'm done," Earnhardt said. "We need to park the car for a while, too." RELATED: Wildest wrecks at Tall adega " Junior's 'Amelia' takes flight again