Joe Gibbs Racing changes pit crew coach
Joe Gibbs Racing changed its pit crew coach Wednesday, transitioning longtime coach Mike Lepp to the role of senior athletic adviser and placing Matt Osborn in charge of pit crew operations. Lepp joined JGR at the beginning of 2007, and over the past few years, the JGR pit crews have been the ones to beat. Lepp has amassed more than 113 wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series, combined, as well as other awards. He was part of a Sprint Cup championship with the No. 18 team of Kyle Busch last year and was involved in winning multiple XFINITY Series titles. Lepp has played a major role in bringing the JGR teams to the forefront of the pitting world and has two pit crew championships to his credit, with back-to-back wins in 2010 and 2011 with the No. 11 crew of Denny Hamlin . Over the last nine years, the Nos. 11 and 18 crews have been dominant. One of Lepp's most recent accomplishments was assembling the No. 19 crew of Carl Edwards . That pit crew has been a top-three unit since it started with JGR. With his new job, Lepp will assume an increased role in marketing and public relations duties, including public speaking events and actively searching for sponsorship opportunities. "This is the right time for me to make a change and I'm excited about my new role in the organization," Lepp said in a team release. "I'm proud of what we've accomplished on pit road and I know Matt will continue to do a great job going forward." For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com .
Suarez, Sadler clinch spots in XFINITY Series Chase
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " Chase Grid Daniel Suarez and Elliott Sadler have both clinched spots in the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase coming out of the Lilly Diabates 250 on Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Suarez (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) and Sadler (No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) already had spots locked up in the top 30 in points, but needed a new Chase-eligible driver not to win at Indianapolis. That was achieved with Kyle Busch's third straight win and seventh victory of the season in the series. Suarez and Sadler join Erik Jones (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) as the only drivers to officially clinch spots in the 12-driver, elimination-style playoff that will be used in the series this fall. The drivers must start the remaining eight races of the regular season. Jones has two wins (Bristol and Dover), while Suarez and Sadler have one each (Suarez won at Michigan, Sadler at Talladega). The seven-race XFINITY Series Chase opens on Sept. 24 at Kentucky Speedway. MORE: All of 2016's XFINITY winners
Kyle Busch tops the heap in final Indy practice
RELATED: Practice 1 results " Final practice results Kyle Busch closed out final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice atop the leaderboard Friday afternoon, recovering from a spin earlier in the day and landing the fastest speed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Busch, the defending race winner, lapped the track with a best speed of 184.619 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota as teams made mock qualifying runs ahead of Saturday's time trials. It marked an improvement over his 12th-best time during Friday's opening 85-minute session at the 2.5-mile track. During that opening session, Busch's No. 18 Camry slightly touched the car of Patrick Carpentier as they raced side-by-side in Turn 2. Busch, the defending series champion, spun out without making further contact. Former Brickyard winner Kevin Harvick registered the second-fastest lap, pushing the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet to a lap of 184.268 mph. Kyle Larson , Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards completed the top five in the final practice before Sunday's Crown Royal Presents The Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Jeff Gordon was 25th-fastest in his second stint of practice ahead of his first Sprint Cup start of the season. The four-time series champion notched a 180.375-mph lap in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet, filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. , who is sidelined for the second straight week by concussion-like symptoms. Tony Stewart , prepping for his final scheduled Sprint Cup start at his home-state track, was 24th-fastest (180.505 mph) in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet. Coors Light Pole Qualifying is set Saturday at 1:45 p.m. ET (NBCSN). Sunday's race will be the 20th of 36 points-paying races this season. Johnson sets pace in opening Indy practice Jimmie Johnson soared to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaderboard Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in an opening practice that featured the return of Jeff Gordon to competition. Johnson pushed the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet to a best lap of 184.185 mph around the 2.5-mile track. He'll seek his fifth Indianapolis win in Sunday's Crown Royal Presents The Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Former Indy pole winner Denny Hamlin was second-fastest in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota at 182.563 mph, a sizable .434 seconds off Johnson's pace. Casey Mears (180.346 mph), Kevin Harvick (179.845 mph) and Ryan Newman (179.784 mph) completed the top five in the 85-minute opening session. Gordon clocked the ninth-fastest speed, landing a 179.376 mph lap in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet. He's scheduled to make his first Sprint Cup start of the season Sunday as a replacement for Dale Earnhardt Jr. as he recovers from concussion-like symptoms. Tony Stewart , scheduled to make his final Brickyard start in what's to be his last full-time season, was eighth-fastest at 179.655 mph in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet. The native Hoosier will be vying for his third Brickyard victory in Sunday's 400-miler. Defending Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch, also the defending race winner, was 12th-fastest but recovered from a spin at the one-hour mark of the session. Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota made a prolonged slide out of Turn 2 after making contact with the Go FAS Racing No. 32 Ford of Patrick Carpentier. Carpentier, 44, walked over to Busch's garage stall later in the session to issue an apology for crowding his pass attempt. Carpentier was 39th-fastest of the 41 drivers entered during first practice. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Stewart: I 'definitely want to win here' at Indy
RELATED: Stewart receives gift from Indy " WATCH: 'Smoke's' first Brickyard win SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Fresh off a runner-up finish a week ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and with a win already in his pocket, it was a confident Tony Stewart that arrived at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday. Twenty-eighth in points, Stewart's recent results in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series have propelled the three-time series champion closer to locking down one of the 16 spots in this year's championship-determining Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Those finishes have also improved his outlook for Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). It will be his final scheduled start at the legendary 2.5-mile facility where he is a two-time winner and hometown favorite. Co-owner of the four-team Stewart-Haas Racing organization, Stewart is scheduled to retire from Sprint Cup competition at season's end. Two of his previous three seasons were abbreviated due to off-track incidents. And the '16 season began in the same fashion, with Stewart missing the first eight races due to an off-season back injury. But with a victory at Sonoma Raceway, and top-five finishes in his last two outings, Stewart said he arrived at IMS less stressed and more focused than ever. "It's been awhile, it's been a long while," Stewart said of the confidence. "I mean it's a good feeling I can tell you that. "Anytime you get hurt like we did with our leg injury and everything that happened after that there is all speculation of why you are not running good. You guys had asked the same question -- 'has that been a factor in it?' "It's been nice to kind of get it all put behind us and show everybody that is not what this is all about and that was not the factor. It just was getting cars to feel right. I think that was the biggest thing just trying to get through the speculation of 'can he do this anymore?' and 'why is he not competitive?' "When you finally get going and you start running up front with guys that you are used to running with again then you are getting text messages after the race saying 'hey it was glad to see you up there with us again.' That is the stuff that makes you feel like 'hey we are back where we belong now.'" Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet was eighth fastest in Friday's opening practice and 24th in the day's final session. MORE: Views from opening day at Indy Stewart's Brickyard victories came in 2005 and '07 while still competing for Joe Gibbs Racing. His best finish since joining SHR came in '09 when he placed third. Qualifying for Sunday's race is scheduled for Saturday at 1:45 p.m. ET. JGR driver Carl Edwards won the pole here a year ago while eventual series champion Kyle Busch won the race. "Everybody wants to win here," Stewart said. "Definitely want to win here myself. It would be pretty cool." MORE: Stewart claims second Brickyard crown
Kyle Busch holds off Harvick for third straight XFINITY win
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Every winner in 2016 SHOP: Busch gear SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- About the only thing Kyle Busch didn't win on Saturday was the one prize he wasn't eligible for. But the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota won everything else, capping a phenomenal day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a victory in the Lilly Diabetes 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race -- and he did so with tires that were 23 laps older than those of his pursuers. Busch led 62 of 63 laps but had to hold off Kevin Harvick on a two lap dash in overtime to win for the third time at the Brickyard, the seventh time in 11 starts this season and the 83rd time in his career, extending his series record. The XFINITY race was actually the fourth competition Busch won on Saturday. First, he won the top starting spot for the Lilly Diabetes 250, the 54th pole of his career. Next, he won the pole position for Sunday's Crown Royal 400 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN), one of the marquee NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events of the season. After that Busch led all 20 laps and took the checkered flag in the first heat race under the XFINITY Series' final Dash 4 Cash event of the season. Busch didn't win the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus, a prize available only to series regulars. That check went to Justin Allgaier , who rolled home in fifth place, the highest finisher among the four drivers who earned eligibility in the heat races. Busch, however, has one more mountain to climb. On Sunday, he'll attempt to complete his second straight weekend sweep at the vaunted Brickyard. Busch held off Harvick, third-place finisher Paul Menard and fourth-place Kyle Larson even though Busch had stayed out on old rubber while those behind him pitted for new tires under the first caution on Lap 50. "The new tires for those guys were good for them but not so good for us," Busch said. "I just dug in deep and gave it everything I had. I knew I had to get really good restarts. On the second-to-last one (on Lap 54), I got a really good one, and then the last one (on lap 62 in overtime), it was OK. "I got an OK one, and I saw Harvick pull out… but he never got alongside of me. I never felt him close enough that he was going to pull alongside. ... It's a pretty awesome feeling to be able to go back to Victory Lane here this year. We're sitting on the pole tomorrow, and hopefully we can have another sweep here." Busch had a lead of more than eight seconds on Lap 48 of a scheduled 60 when JGR teammate Erik Jones , the wire-to-wire winner of the second heat race, blew a right rear tire entering Turn 1 and spun, causing the afternoon's first caution. While Busch and series leader Daniel Suarez stayed out on old tires, the remaining eight lead-lap cars came to pit road. Busch survived the restart on lap 54, but a lap later, ay Black Jr. and Harrison Rhodes wrecked off Turn 2 to bring put the second yellow and force the overtime. On the Lap 62 restart, Harvick pushed Larson, then ducked to the inside but was reluctant to take a bad angle into the first corner. As Harvick and Larson battled briefly for second, Busch pulled away and ultimately crossed the finish line .411 seconds ahead of Harvick's No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. "I really thought I could beat him down the backstretch if I got off of (Turn) 2 well and could clear the 42 (Larson)," Harvick said. "I got to the inside and kind of hit the chip and decided to hold the line up a little bit and try to get a run, and the 42 got stuck on the outside and that ruined my plan. "But our goal was to overachieve today, and we did that and capitalized on some situations and had a couple of good restarts and wound up second. All in all, it wasn't a bad day." Just nowhere near as good as the one Busch had.
Strong starting spot at Indy a 'big deal' for Stewart
RELATED: Full starting lineup " See every car in the field SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Tony Stewart wrapped up day two of his final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by qualifying third-best for the 40-car field that makes up Sunday’s Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard. It will be Stewart's best starting berth at Indy since winning the pole for the annual race at the legendary 2.5-mile track in 2002. It also equaled his best qualifying effort of what’s been an abbreviated season, matching his third-place start earlier this year at Michigan International Speedway. He announced last September that the 2016 season would be his last as a competitor in the Sprint Cup Series. Stewart put up the sixth-fastest lap in Saturday's opening round, enabling him to advance to the second round where he posted the second-fastest lap overall. In the final round of 12, his 184.328 mph lap was bettered only by Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch (184.634 mph) and Carl Edwards (184.547 mph). Stewart, 45, credited crew chief Mike Bugarewicz with making the appropriate changes between Friday's two practices and Saturday’s qualifying attempts. "I just wish I could do a lap … one more time and not clip the apron in (Turn) 4; I think we could have been on the pole," Stewart said after climbing from his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. "What we learned today for qualifying, we are going to have to take some of that and try to make a car a little better for tomorrow." Starting position can be crucial -- the benefits ranging from optimum track position to a clear entry into and out of one's pit stall during the race. To start third, Stewart said, "is a big deal here. It always has been." The rules package in place for this year's race is 180 degrees from the high drag package implemented at Indy a year ago. Stewart said the difference is evident and positive. "It seems like the more downforce they take off these cars, the easier it is to race around each other," he said. "That is what you need, but it always helps when you can start up front. When you can get up there and really get working on your car in cleaner air and plan for the end of the race, that is really an advantage." Stewart sat out the first eight races of the 2016 season while recovering from injuries sustained in an off-road accident on Jan. 31. A victory last month at Sonoma Raceway and his ascension into the top-30 in points have put him in line for one of the 16 positions that will make up this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. "We just have been plugging away," he said. "Everybody thinks Sonoma was the game changer and it wasn't. I mean it was Pocono, it was Michigan -- those two races leading up to Sonoma were probably as big if not bigger than what we did at Sonoma. "Sonoma just gave us the opportunity to hopefully use what we are doing to get going in the Chase now." With his final start at Indy less than 24 hours away, Stewart, who has 49 career wins in NASCAR's premier series, was ready to turn his attention elsewhere. "Tonight I'm going to go to Kokomo Speedway for our All-Stars race and go to work there," he said. "Then come here tomorrow and have fun with our friends." Sunday’s race is scheduled to get underway at 3 p.m. ET. TV and radio coverage will be provided by NBCSN, the IMS Radio Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. </p>
Busch picks up Coors Light Pole Award in search of Brickyard defense
RELATED: Full starting lineup " See the full field SPEEDWAY, Ind. – A sweep at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is nothing new to Kyle Busch. But this year, he started early. With a lap at 184.634 mph (48.745 seconds) in the final round of Saturday's knockout qualifying, Busch claimed the pole position for Sunday’s Crown Royal 400 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Earlier in the day, the driver who swept both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races at Indy last year earned the pole award ahead of the heat races prior to Saturday afternoon’s Lilly Diabetes 250 XFINITY race. But the Sprint Cup pole that completed the Saturday sweep was special, because it was the first for Busch at the vaunted Brickyard. "I haven't been great at qualifying here, but the guys gave me a great piece this time around, and I'm real pumped about that," said Busch, who claimed his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season and the 19th of his career. "We're starting first in both of these (races), and hopefully we can end that way. "It means a lot (to win the pole). It's definitely pretty special to be running the way that we're running and to have the success that we've had here the last couple of years at Indy, and I’d love nothing more than to try to win here again." Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was .023 seconds faster than the No. 19 of teammate Carl Edwards (184.547 mph). "I was happy with my lap," Edwards said. "I was surprised Kyle got me. That was a good lap for him – I mean, that was a good lap that he ran because I felt like my lap was pretty good – but, yeah, it's frustrating right now to be second because it's so close, and the pole position is obviously huge here. "But by tomorrow, the race gets started and I think I'll be pretty happy with that starting spot, so just good job by all my guys." Making his last appearance at Indy as a Sprint Cup Series driver, Tony Stewart earned the third starting spot with a lap at 184.328 mph and knew exactly where he had lost critical speed. "I just wish I could do lap three (final round) one more time and not clip the apron in (Turn) 4," Stewart said. "I think we could have been on the pole." RELATED: Stewart discusses his qualifying effort Denny Hamlin qualified fourth, giving JGR three of the top four spots. Brad Keselowski in fifth has the top Ford. Ryan Newman , Kevin Harvick , Martin Truex Jr. , Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson will start from positions six through 10, respectively. The time trials were a disappointment for the Hendrick Motorsports drivers, who failed to place a car in the top 12. Jimmie Johnson ran the fastest lap of the day in the first of three rounds, touring the 2.5-mile speedway in 48.435 seconds (185.816 mph). But the six-time series champion failed to advance beyond the second round, losing the 12th and final position to Kurt Busch by .008 seconds. Johnson will start 13th, Chase Elliott 15th and Jeff Gordon , subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. , who is out with concussion-like symptoms, claimed the 21st spot on the grid. "I felt really comfortable right there," said Gordon, who was 15th fastest in the first round. "I feel like today I’m much calmer than I was yesterday (in practice). Usually, my heart is beating more for qualifying than it is for practice, but that wasn't the case. "So, today I feel more relaxed and comfortable in the car. I hope to feel the same way tomorrow. Tomorrow's challenge is going to be being around traffic, and also trying to get the balance of the car right and do that when you're by yourself as well as when you're around other cars." Josh Wise failed to make the 40-car field. </p>
Joe Gibbs Racing look to dominate New Hampshire
Chris Rice and Marty Snider make their NASCAR Fantasy Live picks for the New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
DeWalt extends relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing
Joe Gibbs and Matt Kenseth announce an extended partnership with DeWalt Flex Volt for the 2017 season. Kenseth will feature DeWalt on the No. 20 car this weekend at Daytona International Speedway.
Kenseth, No. 20 team penalized for failed inspection
NASCAR levied penalties to the race-winning Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota team Wednesday after last weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. As a result of infractions found in a post-race pass through the laser inspection station (LIS), the No. 20 team was docked 15 championship points in the team owner standings and driver Matt Kenseth absorbed a 15-point deduction in the Sprint Cup drivers' standings. The points penalty moved Kenseth, a two-time winner this year, from eighth to ninth place in the standings. The P3-grade penalty also carries a $25,000 fine for No. 20 crew chief Jason Ratcliff. The No. 20 Toyota driven to victory by Kenseth in the New Hampshire 301 was found out of compliance during Sunday's post-race trip through the LIS platform. The car was sent to the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, for further evaluation this week. A host of other teams were issued written warnings Wednesday by the sanctioning body: -- The Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet team for driver Austin Dillon and the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevy for driver Kevin Harvick were both handed written warnings and docked 15 minutes of practice time during this weekend's activities at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The No. 3 team failed LIS three times pre-race and pushed their current warning total to four. The No. 4 entry failed body template inspection three times pre-qualifying. -- The Team Penske No. 22 Ford team for driver Joey Logano and the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota of driver Carl Edwards both failed LIS twice. The No. 22's violation came in pre-race inspection; the No. 19's was in pre-qualifying. Both teams received written warnings (their first). -- The following Sprint Cup teams received written warnings for failing pre-qualifying template inspection twice: Chip Ganassi Racing's No. 1 (driver Jamie McMurray ) and No. 42 ( Kyle Larson ), Richard Childress Racing's No. 3 ( Austin Dillon ), Roush Fenway Racing's No. 6 ( Trevor Bayne ), Stewart-Haas Racing's No. 10 ( Danica Patrick ) and No. 14 ( Tony Stewart ), HScott Motorsports' No. 15 (Clint Bowyer), Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 19 ( Carl Edwards ), Wood Brothers Racing's No. 21 ( Ryan Blaney ), JTG Daugherty Racing's No. 47 (AJ Allmendinger) and BK Racing's No. 83 (Matt DiBenedetto). -- The Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet team for driver Ty Dillon in the NASCAR XFINITY Series was also issued a written warning for failing template inspection three times before qualifying. </p>