Team owner lauds spirit of his driver, NASCAR community Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch is "resting comfortably" following surgery Saturday night at Halifax Medical Center, but how soon he returns to competition is unknown. "Kyle ... was kind of light-hearted and joking around with me and talking about wanting to get back in the car right away before surgery," said team owner Joe Gibbs . "(The doctor) said everything went very well. RELATED: See the updated Daytona 500 lineup "The major portion of what they did yesterday was his lower right leg ... they took care of that. They're going to wait on his (left) foot. ... They said there's no rush on that." Busch, 29, sustained a compound fracture of his lower right leg and a mid-foot fracture of his left foot in an accident on Lap 112 of the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series event, the Alert Today Florida 300. RELATED: Kyle Busch undergoes surgery on right leg His No. 54 Toyota was involved in a multi-car crash, slid across the track and struck the interior wall just beyond the exit of pit road on the frontstretch at Daytona International Speedway. After being treated at the scene, Busch was transported to Halifax. On Sunday afternoon, he tweeted for the first time since the wreck: Would rather b driving than watching the #Daytona500 but pulling 4 @Matt_Crafton and the No. 18 @mmschocolate team. — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) February 22, 2015 Two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton will drive the No. 18 Toyota in today's season-opening Daytona 500. "Matt has driven some of Kyle's stuff," Gibbs said. "He's a veteran guy and we felt like it was the perfect fit. "As far as time or length, I don't have a good understanding of that with the doctors and everything -- I think we're just going to pray for him to bounce back." "I can tell you this, Kyle's already telling (wife Samantha), 'Hey, I just want to get back to racing.' He has a great spirit about things like that. "... I told him before surgery, 'Hey, I love you.' And that's the way we feel about it." Gibbs said no further surgeries dealing with Busch's right leg are anticipated and that the left foot injury can be dealt with at a later date. "As far as going back to Charlotte, we're on standby with the plane," he said. "Whenever he feels that he can travel, we'll get him back to Charlotte." Crafton, driver of the No. 88 ThorSport Toyota, will be making his first start in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. He has driven Sprint Cup cars previously, qualifying for Robby Gordon in 2008 at Dover International Speedway as well as testing for JGR a year ago. Busch was slated to start today's race from the fourth spot, but because Crafton was not the driver of record during qualifying, he will be required to drop to the rear of the field. "We're going to ride in the back for a little bit, get comfortable with the car," Crafton said Sunday morning. "We've got 500 miles to figure it out. I'm sure for the first half of the race, we're going to ride, be smart and just see what I can learn." The area of the wall struck by Busch's car is not protected by the SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barrier, although much of the 2.5-mile track features the energy dissipating system. Saturday night, track president Joie Chitwood III said tire packs would be place along the wall as a safety measure for today's race, and that SAFER barrier would be installed "on every inch at this property" following the race. "This is not going to happen again," he said. "We're going to live up to our responsibility. We're going to fix this and it starts right now." Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick said Sunday he had hit close to the same spot as Busch during last year's 500 "and kind of voiced my opinion." "Unfortunately I was just a dot on the chart and there was no reaction," the Stewart-Haas Racing driver said. "Hopefully this is a lesson learned. "We know what fixes these walls. ... That's why we wear a helmet. That's why we wear HANS. That's why we wear fire suits. That's why we have fire bottles. It's for that one moment that you have to protect yourself against." 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
Joe Gibbs discusses Kyle Busch's leg injuries sustained in the XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway.
Carl Edwards talks about his new team with Joe Gibbs Racing and their 2015 season.
An inside look at where the victory vehicles go and some stories about the cars Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: See all the cars featured HAMPTON, Ga. – Did you see the car, the Team Penske No. 22 car, the one that won last week's Daytona 500 ? It was covered in confetti and on display at Daytona International Speedway 's Daytona Experience, less than 24 hours after Joey Logano whipped it into Victory Lane after the biggest single race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Logano and crew chief Todd Gordon and team owner Roger Penske and assorted crewmen and personnel stood by the car on Monday. Photos were taken. The yellow Ford that carried Logano to his first Daytona 500 victory did not go back to the team’s headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina. Gordon and his team can't refurbish it, shine it up and roll it back out of the hauler at Talladega, the season's second restrictor-plate race. Or take it back to Daytona in July, or Talladega in October. RELATED: Logano wins the 2015 Daytona 500 "I wanted to change out the seat insert, but they said no, because it had confetti on it. You have to leave it just as it is," Gordon said Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway , site of last weekend's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 . Since 1996, when Daytona USA officially opened, winning Daytona 500 entries have been put on display there for one year. Teams are financially compensated for the loss of use of the car. According to most crew chiefs interviewed, the cars evolve to such a degree that they have aged out by the time teams regain possession of them a year later. "I would say by that point … it's probably not going to be current to what we've got going on," Gordon said. "When we get the car back, we'll look at where we are chassis-wise. We possibly could re-use the chassis, but (not) body-wise. "I'd say that thing's going to be a museum piece (when we get it back). It did win the Daytona 500 ." While evolutionary changes often lessen the likelihood that a winning Daytona 500 entry could see more on-track action, opportunities have also been impacted by changes in body styles, the arrival of the Car of Tomorrow – which made it's Daytona debut in 2008 – and the 2013 arrival of the Generation-6 Sprint Cup Series car. A few of the stories behind Daytona 500 race-winning cars: • 1996/2000 – Dale Jarrett, Robert Yates Racing Jarrett, inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2014, won his first of three Daytona 500 titles in 1993 while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing . But Daytona officials didn't begin the process of displaying race-winning entries until three years later. By then, Jarrett was back in Victory Lane, this time with the No. 88 Ford Thunderbird fielded by Robert Yates Racing. Today, Todd Parrott is competition director for Richard Childress Racing ’s XFINITY Series program. He was Jarrett's crew chief for both of his Daytona 500 victories at RYR. "That was the car that was in the NASCAR Hall of Fame when DJ was inducted," Parrott told NASCAR.com at AMS this past weekend. "It had gone to Talladega (where it was on display in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame) and then it was brought up for his induction." "I just remember it was very special for the car to be put in Daytona USA in '96." According to NASCAR Hall of Fame officials, the car remains at the Hall and is expected to be returned to its owners soon. Parrott said the team "talked about" refurbishing the car once they got it back and considered running it the following season at Talladega. "But I don't believe we did; I believe that was the only time we ran that car." Jarrett said he took photos of the car after a going-away dinner for driver Marcos Ambrose at the Hall. "I went up there and visited the car," he said, "talked to it. We had a moment of silence. It was cool." Four years later, the Jarrett/Parrott/Yates group was winning the Daytona 500 again. And that 2000 car, Parrott said, was "extraordinarily special." "A lot of time was spent on it," he said. "It sat on the pole for the 500; I think we finished second in the (qualifying) race, and then won the 500 with it. "And that was after we had an accident on Saturday afternoon in Happy Hour; we went back and worked on it. To see it win there was extra special, knowing all the work that went into it prior to that." The most notable difference between Jarrett's '96 and '00 entries – the '96 was a Thunderbird; his '00 win came in a Taurus. • 1998 – Dale Earnhardt, Richard Childress Racing The penny is still there, team owner Richard Childress said. In 1998, seven-time NASCAR premier series champion Dale Earnhardt ended 19 years of frustration by finally winning the one major race that had managed to avoid his grasp, winning the Daytona 500 in his 20th attempt. Taped to the dash of his Chevrolet Monte Carlo was a penny given to Earnhardt by Wessa Miller, a young girl suffering from spina bifida. Miller had met Earnhardt during Speedweeks thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "It's in my museum right now, and still has the original penny on the dash," Childress said of the car. " Kevin Harvick 's 2007 Daytona 500 winning car is in the museum as well. "I think I left (Kevin's car) scratched and beat up just like it came out … from when he got in the wall on the backstretch." • 2009 – Matt Kenseth , Roush Fenway Racing Kenseth has a pair of Daytona 500 titles, the first in '09 with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer and the second in '12 with Jimmy Fennig. PHOTOS: Drivers with multiple wins in the Great American Race "The car is usable again," Blickensderfer, now crew chief for Richard Petty Motorsports driver Sam Hornish Jr ., said. "But obviously most of the time … someone wants that car for a museum so you usually lose that car for that. "The things that you lose, which is pretty costly, are the components on the car. At the time when we won (the 500), the bump stops, the shocks the springs, brake calipers, things like that, basically all of that evolves enough to where you’re not using that stuff for the next Daytona 500 . But you lost that whole year’s worth of run on brake parts and steering pumps and things you could have used throughout a year. That part is pretty costly. "Body and chassis – anytime I've ever been involved in a big race win, somebody wants that car enough that you're not going to get to use it anyway." Kenseth's '09 winning entry did go on display inside the Roush Fenway Racing complex, as did the winning entry from '12. "Yeah, you could (re-use) the car once you got it back," Fennig, now research and development coordinator for RFR, said. "Provided they didn't change the rules over the year." But, he said, "You should be able to build a better car (by then)." • 2011 – Trevor Bayne , Wood Brothers Racing There’s still a Dasani water bottle under the seat of the No. 21 Ford Fusion, and there are signatures across the back of the car. The water bottle was left behind at some point during the race, or perhaps in the wild celebration afterward. The signatures came later – a year later in fact. When Bayne captured the '11 Daytona 500 , he became the youngest winner ever of the series' biggest race. It came in only his second start in the Sprint Cup Series. And it came with Wood Brothers Racing , one of the legendary NASCAR teams still competing. "When we got it back the next year – that Sunday … we had 20 or more people sign it that night at the Daytona Experience (formerly Daytona USA), basically the back end of the car," Len Wood, co-owner of the team, said. The car was returned to the team’s headquarters long enough for employees in the shop that had worked on the car to place their signatures on the piece as well. It then went to the team's museum in Stuart, Virginia, where members of the Wood family autographed the car during a brief, two-day stay. By week's end, it had been delivered to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, where it remains today. "That car was No. 600 in terms of Ford wins," Wood said, "plus the significance of everything else." Could it have been used the following season after it was returned to the team from Daytona? "It was a COT car, so it could have been used," said Wood. "We got it back in February of '12, the Gen-6 car didn't come around until '13 … so it could have been used at Talladega (in the spring) or in the Fourth of July (Daytona) race or Talladega in the fall. But we didn't." The car hasn't been touched, although Bayne has been back behind the wheel for photos, just so the team can correctly state that the Daytona 500 winner was the last to sit behind its wheel. Unlike most Daytona 500 winning cars, the No. 21 was covered in a combination of confetti and Coca-Cola. "They didn't break open the champagne," Wood said, "because (Trevor) was only 20. So everything stuck to it." • 2004/2014 – Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Dale Earnhardt, Inc./ Hendrick Motorsports Team owner Rick Hendrick has eight victories in the Daytona 500 , six of which came after ’96. Geoffrey Bodine ('86) and Darrell Waltrip ('89) won before the speedway began putting the cars on display. Jeff Gordon (’97, ’99, ’05), Jimmie Johnson (’06, ’13) and Earnhardt Jr. ('14) lost the use of their winning cars for a year. PHOTOS: Relive Dale Jr.'s 2014 victory at Daytona HMS just took possession of Earnhardt Jr.'s winning entry from last year and fans can now see the car in the Hendrick Motorsports museum. According to Hendrick officials, all Daytona 500 winning cars are put on display in the museum, a decision made by the team owner. Earnhardt Jr.'s '04 winning entry, however, came when the series' most popular driver was competing for Dale Earnhardt Inc., the team founded by his father. "I reckon it's over at DEI in the showroom, but I haven't been to DEI in six to a dozen years," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I can't even remember the last time I was in there. There's a lot of stuff over there I wouldn't mind getting my hands on." Earnhardt Jr. said his "old Late Model car" is still there, and said it's likely the Street Stock car that was raced by all three Earnhardt siblings – Dale, Kerry and sister Kelley – is as well. "Just a lot of stuff sitting over there that I'm sure is being well taken care of," he said. "I imagine the Daytona 500 car is in a warehouse somewhere. Certainly we still have the title to it." 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Dillon nabbed second, third-place finishes in adjacent Truck, XFINITY races Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live HAMPTON, Ga. -- Double-duty. From Joe Gibbs Racing 's Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth to Team Penske 's Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano , plenty of NASCAR's biggest names have routinely raced in multiple national series events for many of the season's weekends for years. Richard Childress Racing XFINITY Series driver Ty Dillon has gotten a taste of that each of the first two weeks of the season thus far, running all three races at Daytona -- including his first Daytona 500 start -- followed by the XFINITY / Camping World Truck Series Hisense 250 /Hyundai Construction Parts 200 double-header at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday. Dillon wasn't alone in doing so, as he was joined by Erik Jones , Daniel Suarez, John Wes Townley , Ryan Sieg and Morgan Shepherd in the 450-mile, two-race conquest. Where his feats did stand out, however, were at the front of the pack. The 23-year-old finished third in the XFINITY race -- behind race-winning Sprint Cup Series champ Kevin Harvick and Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano -- and second in the Truck Series race -- behind two-time defending series champ Matt Crafton . Not too shabby. "When you can come out of a race track like Atlanta, that's so tough to drive, with two top-three finishes in two of the top-three series, it's awesome," Dillon said following the Truck Series race. "I'm very happy with the way the day went. "It was nice running two of everything and making it to the media center twice. I thought I'd sit in Joey (Logano)'s chair this time; he's had some good luck so I'm sitting where he sat during the last (post-race press conference following the XFINITY race) … I've always dreamed of being a driver who runs multiple series in a weekend; hopefully in the Sprint Cup Series and XFINITY and Trucks." Dillon will be competing for the driver's championship in the XFINITY Series, but will have a shot at plenty of trophies and Victory Lane celebrations between his occasional Cup and Truck starts remaining this season. The most valuable thing he'll take away from these additional races, however, is the experience. Saturday's races gave him a front row seat to what that looks like. "Obviously, we were racing against a guy who just won the Daytona 500 and two guys who were just battling for the ( Sprint Cup Series) championship, so they obviously know what they're doing," Dillon said of Logano and Harvick, respectively, who have 80 combined XFINITY and Truck Series victories between them. "You see them in front of you, you get hungry. You want to get up there and battle with those guys, but hopefully down the road when I gain more experience, I'll be able to compete a little bit better in that situation, but I was proud of our run. "All in all, the circumstances, maybe a couple more restarts and we might've been able to race with them a little bit harder, but it is what it is. They're pretty dang good here. I think Harvick's won just about every time he's raced here, so I'm proud of our effort and hopefully next year we come back and we'll be able to race with them." Dillon will get another shot at doubling down this weekend in Sin City, when the RCR driver gets behind the wheel of his No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro in Saturday's Boyd Gaming 300 (4 p.m. ET, FS1) and the No. 33 Chevrolet SS in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . "It's a great feeling to start the season off on back-to-back third place finishes," Dillon said. "It gives us a lot of confidence and I wouldn't be surprised if we go compete for a win next week in Las Vegas." 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
Get a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live 1. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Finding his way to clear air on the race's final restart, Johnson got all the encouragement he needed over the team's in-car radio: "Leg it, baby. Leg it." The six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion did, pulling away to his fourth victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the 71st of his career in NASCAR's top series. Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio. " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 2. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. The defending Sprint Cup champion had to carve his way from the back of the field after suffering engine failure during Saturday practice, but was perched atop the leaderboard by the 87th lap in the 325-lap distance. Harvick wound up leading a race-high 116 laps in recording his second runner-up finish in two races thus far in 2015. " WATCH: Johnson holds off Harvick for the win 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Junior has opened the season by going 2-for-2 in posting third-place finishes despite sustaining front-end damage Sunday when he ran into a piece of debris in the late going. Though he consistently was near the front of the pack, Earnhardt led just one lap all afternoon. " WATCH: Dale Jr.: Crew chief Ives is 'a pretty good cheerleader' 4. Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. The Daytona 500 champ continued his hot streak by winning the Coors Light Pole Award on Friday. Though he lacked the power to mount a challenge over the final green-flag run, Logano will enter next Sunday's Kobalt 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the Sprint Cup points leader. " WATCH: Out Front with Miss Coors Light 5. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. The JGR driver -- who led 10 laps Sunday and lined up second for the final restart -- watched his losing skid stretch to 46 races (dating back to 2013) after a slight fade just before the checkered flag. 6. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing. The modest rejuvenation continues for Truex and the Colorado-based team owned by Barney Visser. The Furniture Row bunch registered just five top-10 finishes in all 36 races last year; two races into 2015, Truex and Co. already have a pair of single-digit results. " MORE: Truex looks to put 2014 woes behind him 7. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG-Daugherty Racing. A strong finish on an intermediate track helped lift the spirits of the single-car organization, which qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs for the first time last year. After just two races, Allmendinger is slotted in a tie for eighth in the series standings. " MORE: Chase Grid after two races 8. Brett Moffitt, No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. The former NASCAR Next driver needed to receive the free pass two times to do it, but Moffitt closed the deal on the lead lap on a day of firsts for his career-best finish in just his eighth Sprint Cup start. Brian Vickers is scheduled to return to MWR's No. 55 ride next weekend at Las Vegas. 9. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. The 2012 champion had hopes for a top-five finish, but his aspirations were also tempered with temporary resignation over what he thought could have been a subpar 15th-place result. "We were just kind of up and down and floating all day long," Keselowski said after settling for somewhere in the middle of his expectations in ninth place. 10. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman appeared sunk after absorbing significant damage in a four-car crash on Lap 257, but hard work from his RCR crew in making repairs buoyed Newman to a surprising top-10. 11. Aric Almirola, No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. After opening up 2014 with patchwork finishes of 39th, 15th, 25th, third and 43rd, Almirola has some consistency to crow about this season. "That's a big head start from last year!" Almirola tweeted after his second straight top-15 finish pushed him into a tie for eighth in Sprint Cup points. " MORE: Follow drivers on Social Drive 12. Carl Edwards, No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards was the beneficiary of the race's next-to-last yellow flag, helping him recover from a seemingly disastrous flat tire in the 274th lap for a lead-lap finish. 13. Paul Menard, No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. The Wisconsin native couldn't shake the unluckiest of numbers, starting and finishing 13th as the final driver on the lead lap. 14. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The track that produced Kahne's last-ditch clincher into the Chase field last September wasn't so kind this time around. A pit-road penalty for a rolling-tire infraction in the 293rd lap forced the Hendrick Motorsports driver to make a pass-through on pit lane during green-flag conditions. 15. Casey Mears, No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Sunday's top-15 finish wasn't quite the windfall the Germain team received from Mears' sixth-place run in the Daytona 500, but the solid day kept its driver in the same position in Sprint Cup points -- sixth. 16. Danica Patrick, No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Atlanta provided the backdrop for Patrick's career-best Sprint Cup finish of sixth place last season. While 16th place marked a slip in performance, the effort -- coupled with 21st place the previous week at Daytona -- launched Patrick into the final spot on the provisional Chase grid. 17. Regan Smith, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Smith's second start as a substitute for suspended Kurt Busch had nearly the same result as the first, just one spot lower than his 16th place in the Daytona 500. The degree of difficulty may have been greater at Atlanta, though, after Smith's No. 41 was crumpled in a multicar fracas 20 laps from the end. " WATCH: Big wreck brings out the red flag 18. David Ragan, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Ragan pushed the No. 18 car up into the top five in the early stages of his first start as a fill-in for injured Kyle Busch, but said he was "a little timid" in making needed adjustments as the 500-miler went on. "I felt like we had a good, solid top-10 car and things just didn't shake out," Ragan said. 19. Trevor Bayne, No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Bayne was at the head of the Roush Fenway class at Atlanta, but frustrated in finishing two laps down. The midpack result left him hoping to see the team's determination rewarded soon. "I see a lot of people trying to work together and that's where it starts," Bayne said. "We obviously haven't seen any results as far as speed is concerned." 20. Justin Allgaier, No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Allgaier made the most of his survival instinct after two instances of evasive action in the race's late stages. The second-year driver brushed the wall avoiding the Lap 257 pile-up that snared four cars, then dipped to the apron to dodge the Lap 305 snarl that grabbed seven more competitors. 21. Sam Hornish Jr., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Inopportune timing put Hornish in the path of debris from Austin Dillon's blown tire in the 60th lap. Damage to the front end jolted the grille and left the RPM No. 9 crew fighting an uphill battle for most of the race; his own flat tire and a later brush with the wall only compounded the trouble. 22. David Gilliland, No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Gilliland pressed on after a bump from behind in the four-car crash on the 257th lap. He also stayed on the track during the race's fourth yellow flag to lead a lap for the first time at Atlanta since March 2010. 23. Alex Bowman, No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. After failing to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500, Bowman opened his season at Atlanta as one of the biggest movers in a race filled with them. The second-year Sprint Cup driver gained 19 spots from his starting position. 24. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. Bowyer gained track position by staying on the track late in the race, but his day went from sour to downright acidic in a hurry. An engine issue developed with around 35 laps left, just before the race's final crash engulfed him with 20 to go. 25. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. The Biff fought an ill-handling car most of the day, but lost the most ground when he overcooked his entry into Turn 3 on the race's next-to-last restart, igniting the race's biggest crash. 26. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. The site of an eighth-place finish last season held much higher promise for 2014's Sunoco Rookie of the Year, but sustaining plenty of contact in the race's biggest crash near the finish prompted Larson to tweet afterward: "Such a frustrating race. Top 5 car but had no luck." " MORE: Follow drivers on Social Drive 27. Michael McDowell, No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing. The small, family-owned team found some solace in McDowell's best result in five career starts at Atlanta, marking the first time he was running at the finish at the 1.54-mile venue. 28. Brendan Gaughan, No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. The Jay Robinson-owned start-up team recovered after failing to qualify for the Daytona 500 with Brian Scott. It marked the occasion of Gaughan's first Sprint Cup start since August 2013. 29. Michael Annett, No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport Racing. Annett and Co. struck an 11th-hour deal to jump in the Joe Falk-owned ride after his regular HScott Motorsports No. 46 ride missed out on Coors Light Pole Qualifying. The last-minute move kept his goal of a complete Sprint Cup season alive. 30. Tony Stewart, No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart was one of several drivers who started near the back of the pack after issues clearing Friday's pre-qualifying inspection. Smoke grappled with handling woes for much of the race, but matters got worse with involvement in the event's final multicar crash. 31. Mike Bliss, No. 32 Ford, GoFAS Racing. The 49-year-old veteran stayed on the track during a pair of early caution periods to pace two laps, marking his first lap led in the Sprint Cup Series since March 4, 2012 (Phoenix). It also was the first time since August 27, 2005 (Bristol) that Bliss has led multiple laps in a Sprint Cup race. 32. Josh Wise, No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Wise was among the first bitten by the new pit road officiating system, incurring a Lap 28 penalty for crew members coming over the wall too soon. Though seven laps down, Wise managed his best finish in three career starts at Atlanta. 33. Joe Nemechek, No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. The man with the Front Row nickname made his first appearance in Front Row Motorsports equipment, but contact from Greg Biffle's spin left his car and hopes dented for his first Sprint Cup event of the year. 34. JJ Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Slight damage from debris early in the race slowed Yeley, who managed to improve upon the 40th-place result from the season-opening Daytona 500. 35. Jeb Burton, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing. As the only rookie in the 43-car field, Burton made his Sprint Cup debut, forging on after a mid-race scrape with the wall. 36. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse played the role of pinball in the race's biggest crash; though several cars were involved, the No. 17 was the only one unable to continue. 37. Cole Whitt, No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. An engine that would've made a 400-mile distance couldn't quite withstand the full 500, first dropping a cylinder before expiring altogether, dumping fluid on the track and causing the race's next-to-last caution period. 38. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin led twice for 14 laps, but found himself sideways in the middle of the track when he lost control on a late-race restart. Three more cars piled in, prompting Hamlin to offer sympathies: "I apologize to all those cars involved, but it's tough." " WATCH: Hamlin spins and collects several drivers 39. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. A pair of rear tire troubles in rapid succession, both of which sprayed debris on the 1.54-mile track, derailed Dillon's day. The second instance, with the car already laboring from earlier damage, sent the RCR No. 3 off into the muddy infield and later behind the wall for extensive repairs. " WATCH: Dillon spins after cutting a tire 40. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. After starting third, Jamie Mac didn't have visions of finishing in the bottom five Sunday at Atlanta. The tangle that also thwarted three others when Denny Hamlin lost control took him by surprise: "I didn't see any of that coming," McMurray said. "That was kind of out of the blue." 41. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The four-time champion drew a Lap 24 tribute from the track with his car number blanketing the main scoring pylon early on, but enduring a crash for the second straight week has his final full Sprint Cup season off to a ragged start. Finishes of 33rd at Daytona and 41st at Atlanta have relegated Gordon to a tie for 35th place in the points standings. " WATCH: Big wreck brings out red flag 42. Ron Hornaday Jr., No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. After failing to qualify for the Daytona 500, the four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion made his first Sprint Cup start since 2003 on Sunday. The Curtis Key-owned start-up team parked just past the halfway point at Atlanta with a rear gearing malfunction. 43. Landon Cassill, No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Starting last, Cassill seemingly had nowhere to go but up at Atlanta. Instead, the 25-year-old driver stayed level as the race's first retiree for the second straight week, posting consecutive 43rd-place finishes after two engine failures to start the season. 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
Hamlin, Jones and Said to sub for the injured Kyle Busch Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones and Boris Said will sub for Kyle Busch in the No. 54 NASCAR XFINITY Series Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Monday. Busch returned to his Charlotte, North Carolina, home as he recovers from a compound fracture of the right lower leg and left mid-foot fracture, suffered in the XFINITY Series opener at Daytona International Speedway last month. There is no specific timetable for Busch to get back behind the wheel. "We hate this for Kyle obviously and I think everyone is focused on getting him back healthy," Joe Gibbs , owner of Joe Gibbs Racing said in a release provided by the team. "We can't thank Monster Energy and all of our partners enough for working with us while Kyle is recovering and certainly it is nice to have Denny and Erik ready to fill in. We're also excited that Boris will have the opportunity to drive the car for seven races in 2015." Hamlin will pilot the car this weekend at Las Vegas for the Boyd Gaming 300 (Saturday, Mar. 7, 4 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) and in four other events. Those events are at Auto Club Speedway on March 21, Texas Motor Speedway (April 10), Bristol Motor Speedway (April 18) and Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 23). Hamlin had been previously scheduled for six NASCAR XFINITY Series events, but these additions bring that total up to 11. Hamlin currently runs full-time for JGR in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, piloting the No. 11 Toyota. Jones, who drove the No. 54 Toyota at Atlanta last weekend, will be back behind the wheel of the car at Phoenix International Raceway (March 14) and again at Richmond International Raceway (April 24). Jones finished 13th at Atlanta last weekend. The 18-year-old is running a full season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports and is also running a partial schedule for JGR in the No. 20 NASCAR XFINITY Series Toyota. Jones will now be running an estimated 19 NASCAR XFINITY Series events, according to a release provided by the team. Said will be behind the wheel for mostly the non-companion events on the NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule. His first start is set for Talladega Superspeedway on May 2. He will also run events at Iowa Speedway on May 17 and August 1, Chicagoland Speedway on June 20, Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course on August 15, Road America on August 29 and Kentucky Speedway on September 26. Said is primarily known for his road course abilities with both of his NASCAR premier series starts in 2014 coming on road courses. Last week, JGR announced that David Ragan would be subbing for Busch in the No. 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota for the next several weeks. 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
JGR teammate discusses challenges of being out of the car for an injury Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live HAMPTON, Ga. – Denny Hamlin says he has a pretty good idea of what Kyle Busch, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, is going through these days. Busch, 29, suffered a compound fracture of his lower right leg and a mid-foot fracture of his left foot in a crash during the Feb. 21 NASCAR XFINITY Series race, the Alert Today Florida 300, at Daytona International Speedway. He has undergone surgeries on both injuries and is currently recuperating at home. It is not known when he will be able to return to competition. Hamlin missed four Sprint Cup Series races in 2013 when he suffered a back injury in a last-lap crash at Auto Club Speedway. "I talked to him this week," Hamlin said Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, site of Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (FOX, 1 p.m. ET). "A little bit after Daytona, just talking about our cars and what I thought we felt. Kind of keeping him up to date with where we're at. But I haven't talked to him this weekend. "My guess is he's on plenty of pain medication and that's making him feel pretty good." Hamlin said the difficult part for Busch would likely be rehabilitation as Busch's body continues to heal. That and dealing with the emotions of being sidelined for so long while unable to go about his normal daily routine. "I know that personally," Hamlin said. "When you break something or something like that, the initial days you're like 'this isn't so bad, I can survive that,' but the rehab and going through all that is really going to be a challenge for him. "The biggest thing is just fighting your emotions and not getting all torn up about not being able to do the things that you were normally able to do. I was in a wheelchair for just a couple of days, he's probably going to be there for awhile so … the mental challenge will probably be the toughest thing he'll have to overcome." Two-time NACAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton filled in for Busch in the season-opening Daytona 500, finishing 18th in the team's No. 18 Toyota. Earlier this week, JGR officials named David Ragan the team's interim driver for the next several weeks. Ragan, a two-time winner in the Sprint Cup Series, will start 17th in Sunday's race. Eighteen-year-old Erik Jones is filling in for Busch this weekend in the organization's No. 54 entry in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Jones was originally slated to compete in 10 XFINITY events this year, with his next scheduled start coming at Auto Club Speedway. The series visits Las Vegas and Phoenix before the Auto Club stop, and JGR officials have not announced its driver plans for the No. 54 XFINITY Series team beyond this weekend. 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
Sunday was first race on an intermediate track under new package Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live HAMPTON, Ga. -- The rules have changed, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. said the cars remain the same. "This car is the same ol' car, man," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said after finishing third in Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "The rules changed a little bit, but (the cars) drive the same and actually qualified faster than we did last year. … It's a good race car. The rules aren't going to be that big of a deal." Sunday's race at the 1.54-mile track was the first for teams with the new package designed to lessen horsepower, downforce and drag. Tapered spacers, similar to those already in use in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, cut horsepower from approximately 850 to 725 and a lower differential gear (targeting 9,000 rpm) is in use. The spoiler, which affects the amount of downforce generated on the rear of the car, has been trimmed from 8 to 6 inches, and the width of the radiator pan underneath the car is 5 inches smaller this year. The goal is to make the cars less aero dependent and put more of the onus on the drivers. Less overall downforce should also allow Goodyear to producer a softer tire which would wear more during the course of a green-flag run and make tire management more crucial. "I believe that after about 15 or 20 laps we were really racing," Carl Edwards said afterward, "because the tires were worn out." Edwards finished 12th in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He said he still believes NASCAR needs to continue taking downforce away from the cars. "We've got way too much speed in the center of the corner," he said. "There's not a lot of change, not a lot of opportunity to go down in the corner and over-drive it or under-drive it because you’ve got such high corner speeds. "It's no problem to drive, the problem is it's too easy. We need to cut those spoilers down and get rid of those splitters." AMS has always been a track that produced high speeds and plenty of tire wear and this year's Sprint Cup race proved to be no different in spite of the rules changes. Joey Logano's winning speed en route to winning the Coors Light Pole Award was 194.683 mph, faster than Aric Almirola's leading 191.278 mph set in the first round of qualifying here last fall. On Monday NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said it is "still really early in the process" with the package, but noted the charge of eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson, who started 37th, through the field as well as several others in Sunday’s race. "I think (we saw) some really solid finishes, so we liked what we saw. Certainly some learnings that we'll take out of Atlanta. We'll apply those to the upcoming test in Charlotte and continue to look at ways we can continuously improve the racing." Sprint Cup Series teams travel to Las Vegas, another 1.5-mile venue, for this week's race. A two-day test session is currently scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, March 10-11, at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Teams participating in the Goodyear portion of the test on Tuesday, March 10, include one each from Hendrick Motorsports, Furniture Row Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports and BK Racing. At other 1.5-mile tracks such as Las Vegas, Charlotte and Texas, tire fall-off won't be as pronounced, race-winning crew chief Chad Knaus said. "But I do think this type of package will help Jimmie," he said. "I think it will be better for him with the lack of grip. When we go to some of these other race tracks, it's going to be a different format." One race isn't enough to determine the fault or value of the package, Edwards said, "but I really believe if NASCAR keeps going in that direction, taking downforce away, the racing is going to get better and better." 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
Four-race partnership begins this week in Las Vegas Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Carl Edwards and Joe Gibbs Racing have added Comcast to their sponsorship lineup for the 2015 season. Comcast will serve as the primary sponsor for four races on the No. 19 Toyota Camry. The partnership begins this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Kobalt 400 (March 8, 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX) with Comcast Business as the primary paint scheme for Edwards. This marks the first major sponsorship deal i n NASCAR for the company's business services unit that provides data, Internet, TV and other communication services to businesses of all sizes. Comcast Business will also adorn the No. 19 Toyota at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500 (April 19, 1 p.m. ET, FOX). XFINITY, Comcast's residential brand for Internet, TV and other bundled communication, will have the primary paint scheme for Edwards in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sept. 27, 2 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) and the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway (Nov. 1, 1:15 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network). XFINITY also serves as the entitlement sponsor of the NASCAR XFINITY Series. "We're excited about this partnership with Comcast as they continue to grow in the sport, and I've had a great time so far working with them in preparation for Las Vegas," Edwards said in a release. "I'm excited to continue to build the relationship with them this year and hopefully we can put them into Victory Lane." In addition to Comcast, ARRIS and Stanley serve as primary sponsors this season on the No. 19 Toyota. Through two races in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Edwards is 14th in the point standings. 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