Post-Race Reactions: Lucas Oil Raceway
Carl Edwards promises not to speed on pitroad, plus other drivers comment on the G-W-C finish.
Hemric finds perfect home at Brad Keselowski Racing
RELATED: Standings post-Atlanta STATESVILLE, N.C. -- "It's kind of a funny story how it all works out, I guess." At which point Daniel Hemric starts the tale of how he came to be in this place, the palatial new shop for Brad Keselowski Racing. Not only is he here standing on the gleaming epoxy floors, he's the team namesake's newest driver, handpicked from a promising crop of young hotshoes. As far as chance meetings go, his anecdote from the summer of 2012 makes for a tough story to top. Hemric, then a 21-year-old up-and-comer on the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour, had just converted a pass with five laps to go at Auto City Speedway in Clio, Michigan to secure his seventh win in 11 races that season, paving the way toward the series championship. The race he won was called the BRAD 100, and home-state grand marshal Keselowski -- who was making his own march to a title in NASCAR's premier series that year -- was there to greet him in Victory Lane. "He's like, 'Man, that was really cool to watch,' " Hemric recalls his current boss saying, "and that was really our first time shaking hands and meeting. Fast forward to ( Lucas Oil Raceway in Indiana) a couple months later in that year, same thing: We went on to win the race in more of a dominant fashion, but it was cool to start seeing the face and building somewhat of a relationship. "From that point on, I think we both had the understanding -- at least from my end -- that if there was ever an opportunity to put stuff together to make it work, we wanted to figure out some way, some how to race together." Those conversations kept going during their occasional encounters at the track through the years, and the timing never quite clicked for a partnership to develop until late last season. The plans for a full run this year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finally aligned for all parties concerned -- driver, owner, team (the No. 19 Ford) and sponsors (a full fleet including California Clean Power, Draw-Tite and Reese Brands). Hemric's early laurels are encouraging, with two top-10 efforts in the first two races of 2016 and the ever-closer reality of achieving a breakthrough win. For Hemric, a NASCAR national series victory would be the next rotation in a series of full-circle moments. The building blocks Hemric's hometown listing is a familiar one in the NASCAR community -- Kannapolis, North Carolina, a place synonymous with Earnhardt. The 25-year-old driver grew up just down the road from Dale Earnhardt Inc., his childhood overlapping with that organization's heyday. "You didn't have to go very far to see what the pinnacle was," Hemric said of his boyhood proximity to multiple racing facilities. "With the DEI shop being really close to my hometown and where I grew up and knowing that if you do all the right things and put yourself with the right people, this could be a possibility. That was at 5 or 6 years old, so now to be 25 and to be in a situation where that dream is definitely within grasp and you can really see it being a possible situation, something that you've been able to build and put yourself in, that's really cool." His own glory years started early, with go-kart victories in nearby Concord around the time he graduated from kindergarten. Though he grew up in the cradle of NASCAR's industry hub, the formative stages of Hemric's career took him everywhere -- racing Super Late Models in the Midwest, Whelen Modifieds in the Northeast, and Legends Cars in the South. Uncannily, Hemric learned from each region and each type of car, taking bits from every experience to place in his memory banks. The puzzle pieces have helped him become not only a better driver but also a better communicator, something that Chad Kendrick -- his crew chief -- detected early on. From their earliest conversations, Hemric's feedback from his first laps with the No. 19 team made its own impact. "It would overlay with the data, which was really impressive because a lot of drivers can't do that -- they can just say it was a little tight or it was a little free," said Kendrick, who has worked with current Sprint Cup Series regulars Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney . "He's very descriptive on exactly where it gets tight, why it got tight, what he's feeling in the left-rear, right-rear, wherever it's at. So very impressed with that. "It's only two races in -- and really it's only one race in because Daytona is its own deal -- but after Atlanta, I was very impressed. And he's got mounds of talent, which is what you have to have." Setting for success Hemric has found a new home, but the team has also -- moving from its cozy former headquarters in nearby Mooresville into a lavish, 72,000-square-foot building on a country road that parallels Statesville's small regional airport. Keselowski, who documented his organization's transition in his most recent essay on his personal blog, has invested plenty of time and effort into making BKR's facility a showpiece. The move has provide the team exponentially more space, allowing them to handle hanging bodies on their fleet of Ford F-150 trucks. There's a paint shop in the back of the building, numerous toolbox bays and workstations, plus the assortment of trophies in the lobby -- including a Crosley jukebox from one of Keselowski's multiple victories at Kentucky Speedway . "A lot of thought went into it, and I think it was just off the many shops that Brad has experienced throughout his career," Hemric said, noting Roger Penske -- Keselowski's Sprint Cup team owner -- and his strong influence. "Being a huge part in the Penske building over there and seeing how Roger operated, I think that was a big role in how this place was assembled. If you're going to structure yourself off anybody, Roger's probably not a bad guy. To see all that's gone into this point, it's really, really interesting to see how many resources these guys have." Those resources are a luxury for Kendrick's charges, who now have room to work on multiple trucks at once. The veteran crew chief also has an asset in Keselowski's leadership, which he says is hands-on without veering into micromanagement. The mood Monday morning at the shop was a vibrant one, with a slight spring in the step potentially provided by the boss man's Sprint Cup victory the previous day at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Kendrick, however, said that the buoyance comes naturally -- and daily -- working in such a pristine environment. "Just having a nice facility like this at this level has encouraged the guys to be just better," Kendrick said. "I mean, when you walk into this place and work here day in and day out, it just boosts morale. Guys want to be better, look better, want to perform better. It just raises it to the next level. ... It'll be many years to come before somebody tops this." Great expectations The proverbial next level is something Hemric is striving for on-track as well. He made strides with NTS Motorsports in his rookie season last year, logging top-10 finishes in the majority of the 23 races and claiming seventh place in the final driver standings. The results, however, were uneven, with each modest string of pleasantness disrupted by a setback -- either mechanical or racing-related. "Everybody said it was character-building and we had a lot of that," Hemric says now. "We definitely experienced some pretty good highs and some pretty low lows. I felt like at the end of the day, the biggest thing that I was taught last year was how to excel in those opportunities where you don't have the best truck that day and how to make the most out of a rough situation. "I found myself a couple of times thinking, 'Man, is this ever going to turn around?' You keep your head on your shoulders, position yourself on the restarts and next thing you know, you wind up with a good finish. I think all that stuff is really going to play a role as we get further into the season, we get closer to that Chase format and it's all going to matter." Last year's feeling of exasperation is one that Kendrick hopes Hemric can cleanse, helping lift his confidence in the season's early going. Putting winning trucks into his hands is a major step. It's the reason why Hemric wasn't delighted two weekends ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway , where he matched his career-best effort in the truck series with a fourth-place finish. The reaction came in part because he knew that his first trip to Victory Lane in a national-series event was well within reach. The attitude change, Kendrick said, should add fuel to Hemric's competitive drive. Now it's just a matter of scratching the win column. "We talked about that when we knew Daniel was coming here," Kendrick said of his initial conversations with Keselowski and other BKR managers. "I really think he could be the guy that when he gets his first win, I really feel like he's going to be the guy that'll roll off three out of five, or roll off three or four in a row. I really feel like he could be that kind of guy, but you've just got to get that first one. The first one is always the hardest." That first victory might be the hardest, but it also might be the most meaningful, providing Hemric another opportunity to have Keselowski greet him in Victory Lane under much different circumstances. "It's definitely a dream come true how it all comes full circle," Hemric said. "Now it's just a matter of making the most of it."
Tony Stewart Chase Watch
RELATED: Coverage of Stewart's accident, comeback " Updated Chase Grid Tony Stewart returned from a back injury in April and the three-time champion is in pursuit of one of the 16 spots in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in his final season. Here's a look at where the driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet stands in his pursuit after the season's 13th of 26 regular-season races. WHAT JUST HAPPENED Stewart faced adversity early in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , as he was forced to start the 600-mile event from the rear due to unapproved body adjustments to the No. 14 Chevrolet. Undeterred, "Smoke" made his way from the back to mid-pack, making a three-wide move for 21st place at Lap 36. But a pit road penalty halfway through the race and lightning fast frontrunners didn't bode well for the No. 14 Chevrolet and he ultimately finished 24th, four laps down. Nonetheless, the result did allow Stewart to jump two spots in the driver standings to 35th. WHAT HE NEEDS Stewart received a waiver from NASCAR for Chase eligibility. The surest way into the Chase is by winning before the end of regular season (at Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 10) and climb into the top 30 in the points standings. En route to his 2015 championship, Kyle Busch faced a similar path after missing the first 11 races with a leg injury. Currently, Stewart is 35th in the standings, 60 points behind David Ragan for 30th place. WHAT'S NEXT "Smoke" heads to Pocono Raceway on June 5 (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio). Stewart is a two-time winner at "The Tricky Triangle," his last trip to Victory Lane coming in 2009. In his 34 starts, he also has 12 top fives and 23 top-10 results. RELATED: See all of Stewart's wins " "Smoke" granted Chase waiver
Brandon Jones joins GMS Racing
17-year-old will compete in two more 2014 Camping World Truck Series races Brandon Jones is joining GMS Racing to run two more NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this season. Jones will pilot the No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado in the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 25 as well as the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 7. Shane Huffman will serve as crew chief. "I couldn't be more excited to continue our NCWTS efforts this season with GMS Racing at Martinsville and Phoenix ," Jones said in a release. "The opportunity to start our relationship at a familiar track like Martinsville is a great benefit and I'm incredibly excited to tackle Phoenix for the first time. GMS Racing has had impressive performances this year and I can't wait to get back on track working with Shane Huffman and the entire organization." Jones has made six previous Camping World Truck Series starts in his career, including three this year, all for Turner Scott Motorsports. His best finish was a fourth-place result at Dover this past spring. Jones has made two previous starts at Martinsville and has an average finish of 17.0 at the track. The 17-year-old Atlanta native competed full-time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East circuit this season and finished fourth in the final standings. He won his first K&N Pro Series East race at Iowa Speedway in August. Huffman served as the crew chief for most of his races on that circuit and has also been the crew chief for all three of Jones' starts this season in the Truck Series. "Everyone at GMS Racing is thrilled to welcome Brandon into the fold of the No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado," Nic Moncher, the general manager of GMS Racing, said in a team release. "He has shown a great deal of talent this season across every series he has competed in, and we're both looking forward to great performances together at both Martinsville and Phoenix . Brandon has all the tools you like to see in a young driver and he will be a great asset to our Truck Series program." This season, GMS Racing has fielded a full-time truck for Joey Coulter (No. 21), while Max Gresham and Spencer Gallagher have split time in the No. 23 entry. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Live chat: Pocono
Chat with fans during the Axalta "We Paint Winners" 400 at Pocono Raceway .
As sun sets at Charlotte, so does Junior's speed
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings CONCORD, N.C. -- In a race punctuated by long, green-flag runs, Dale Earnhardt Jr . went from 25th to 10th in the opening 60 laps of Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . While most of those in the top 10 were holding their own, Earnhardt and Kyle Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing ) were on the move. Larson had started 24th and cracked the top 10 after only 40 laps on the 1.5-mile track. Earnhardt's No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet climbed as high as seventh early. But as daylight turned to darkness and the track temperature cooled, Earnhardt's fortunes also waned. "We made a ton of changes all night trying to help the car," Earnhardt, 14th at the finish, said. "We were stuck there around 11th and couldn't move forward. "The way it took off at the start of the race I thought it showed a lot of promise. There were times in the race when we ran top-five laps but track position hurt us, the track cooled off and everybody was running the bottom. It was just hard to pass." Restart opportunities were few -- the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' longest race at 600 miles was slowed only four times by caution flags. The final yellow, for debris on the backstretch, fell with only 60 laps remaining and Earnhardt already on pit road. By taking the wave-around, he was able to remain on the lead lap, but not allowed to pit under the yellow. "When they don't throw the debris cautions, we're going to have a lot of green flag (stops)," he said. "We got caught on pit road when one of those debris cautions came out late in the race and it bit us. "There wasn't any debris out on the track (for much of the race) so there wasn't any use in throwing the yellow; they didn't and we ran green." With three second-place finishes in the first eight races, Earnhardt had been as high as sixth in points. But recent weeks haven't been as kind to the team. Sunday's result was his seventh outside the top 10 and he's winless through the season's first 13 stops. He'll head to Pocono Raceway next weekend 13th in points. "We were doing OK, running about 10th , 11th all night," he said. "When the race started, the car was great and we moved all the way up to seventh. "I was really happy with the car, but when it got cool the top (groove) went away. The track cooled off, the bottom gripped up and that's where everybody ran."
NASCAR TV schedule: May 30-June 5
RELATED: Find FS1 in your area All times ET Monday, May 30 6 a.m., Empty Cup: Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Championship (re-air), FS1 6:30 a.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 4K TV 300 (re-air), FS1 8:30 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 (re-air), FS1 5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBCSN Tuesday, May 31 6 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 (re-air), FS1 9 a.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 4K TV 300 (re-air), FS1 11:30 a.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 4K TV 300 (re-air), FS1 2 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 (re-air), FS1 5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBCSN 5:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 6 p.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN Wednesday, June 1 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 8 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 2:30 a.m., NASCAR The List: Rookie Seasons (re-air), NBCSN Thursday, June 2 5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 6 p.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race: Dominion Raceway (taped), NBCSN Friday, June 3 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 8 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 11 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, FS1 12:30 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, FS1 3 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice, FS1 4 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 Saturday, June 4 9 a.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 11 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1 11:30 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, FS1 12:30 p.m., WeatherTech Sportscar Championship: Belle Isle Park, FS1 12:30 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series FOX Pre-Race Show, FOX 1 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Pocono Green 250, FOX Sunday, June 5 8:30 a.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Pocono Green 250 (re-air), FS1 11:30 a.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FS1 1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Axalta "We Paint Winners" 400, FS1 &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;nbsp;
Runner-up finish leaves Erik Jones unsatisfied
18-year-old driver wanted more from strong Daytona run Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Erik Jones wrapped up his 2014 Camping World Truck Series campaign with his third win of the season, putting a stomping on the field to the tune of 114 of 126 laps led in the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Raceway . The 18-year-old Kyle Busch Motorsports driver then finished second in Friday night's 2015 season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway, making a last-lap move to position himself for -- albeit coming up just short of -- the win. Bookending seasons with an average finish of 1.5 in a pair of races? Surely, any driver would take that. However, the highly-touted NASCAR Next wheelman wasn't satisfied. "I wish we could have won the race; that's first off," Jones said on pit road following the race. "… It's unfortunate for us to finish second any day, but it's a good run for us. We just wanted to come in here and have a good day, solid day to start off the year. "Second is a great start to the season and we did what we wanted to. We came in here and didn't get wrecked and put ourselves in a position not to be making up all year." That second-place finish was looking like a certain fourth for the latter chunk of the 100-mile event, as the Brad Keselowski Racing duo of race-winner Tyler Reddick and Austin Theriault had a lock on the 1-2 spots ahead of the field. Jones said his final lap strategy was to lay back through Turns 3 and 4, hopeful that if Theriault ended up making a move on his teammate -- which is what ended up happening -- he could pull his No. 4 Toyota Tundra off both of them and attempt to make his way to the front. "It worked up to second, but just couldn't quite get to the lead," he said. Give him one more lap and there's a good chance he puts his truck in Victory Lane. Considering it was just Jones' second career restrictor-plate race, there are still lessons to be learned from finishing a position lower than he'd prefer, particularly from his experienced team owner, who has been offering his sage advice to his young padawan. "Just lots of listening. Lots of listening," Jones said. "Really talked to Kyle a lot about it last year before Talladega. Talked to him more about it here. Read a lot of data that Toyota gives us. Try to apply it all in real‑time. "I think everybody kind of knows the basics of drafting. It's not extremely complicated. It's just a matter of being able to process those during the race and being able to remember all the things you've gathered about it. Actually, I don't mind plate racing. I enjoy it. I had fun tonight. Would have had a lot more fun if we came home one position higher." You see? At all times -- Jones is focused on nothing but winning. It's the same mentality that all of NASCAR's greats shared, and one that bodes well for the future of a talented young driver that is quickly rising within the sport's ranks -- he finished 18th in Saturday's Alert Today Florida 300 XFINITY Series event. While the first win of 2015 will have to wait, it was still crucial for Jones to escape Daytona without digging himself into a points hole, something that he and his team knew could be a possibility. Instead, his momentum remains in tact and the team will head to Atlanta Motor Speedway for next weekend's Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 (Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). "That was pretty important to us," the Michigan native said. "We talked about it for the last couple weeks. When you start off Daytona and get wrecked or whatever, say you finish 30th, it really gives you a hole to dig out of for really the next four races, even if you run those well. "It's pretty important to finish well here, just get good momentum going for your season. It's my first full‑time season." Atlanta is similarly configured to the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he picked up his second win of the year in 2014. Needless to say, he's looking forward to it. "Atlanta is going to be fun. I think our mile‑and‑a‑half program is pretty strong. It was really strong last year. I think we can probably go out and hopefully contend for a win." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
O’Donnell excited about ground breaking weekend at Pocono
NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell joins SiriusXM to talk about this weekends first XFINITY Race at Pocono Raceway , along with the new Sprint Cup Series aero package.
Full schedule for Pocono
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series will race at Pocono Raceway this week, while the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is off. Check out the full weekend schedule below. Note: All times are ET THURSDAY, JUNE 2: ON TRACK -- 2-2:55 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series first practice ( Follow live ) -- 4-4:55 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series second practice ( Follow live ) FRIDAY, JUNE 3: ON TRACK -- 11 a.m.-12:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series first practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 12:30-1:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series third practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 3-3:55 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 4:15 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 ( Follow live ) GARAGECAM ( Watch live ) -- 10:30 a.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series SATURDAY, JUNE 4: ON TRACK -- 9:05 a.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 11:30 a.m.-12:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 1 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Pocono Green 250 (100 laps, 250 miles), FOX ( Follow live ) SUNDAY, JUNE 5: ON TRACK -- 1 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 (160 laps, 400 miles), FS1 ( Follow live )