- Did you mean:
Busch family, No. 18 team visit the White House
As part of his Sprint Cup championship duties, Kyle Busch had one more thing left on his to-do list: visit the White House. So that's exactly what he did on Wednesday with the entire No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team and wife, Samantha. And no, Brexton wasn't in attendance, but President Obama gave him a nice, little shout-out. Follow along on the crew's trip to Washington, D.C. Thank you @POTUS for having the @mmschocolate team visit the @WhiteHouse today. pic.twitter.com/2Np9tGTSF1 — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) September 28, 2016 Snapchatting my way thru the White House if u wanna follow along! Samantha.Busch — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) September 28, 2016 The No.18 crew is on the ground in DC! Next stop: The @WhiteHouse . #NASCAR #CHAMP18NS pic.twitter.com/32HzSof8ob — Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) September 28, 2016 We're at the @WhiteHouse with @KyleBusch @samanthabusch and the No.18 team! #NASCAR #CHAMP18N pic.twitter.com/k6zaRI6GWL — Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) September 28, 2016 Tune in at 11am ET as @POTUS honors @NASCAR champion @KyleBusch : https://t.co/rOls3Sio1L — The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 28, 2016 . RT @SaraBarnes8 : @SamanthaBusch what does one wear to the White House? pic.twitter.com/Y2JHJGMIaP — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) September 28, 2016 . @POTUS welcomes @KyleBusch , @SamanthaBusch and the @JoeGibbsRacing family to the @WhiteHouse ! pic.twitter.com/O0kqbP848C — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 28, 2016 "Tell Brexton I said hello." - @POTUS https://t.co/ptDTddyaES — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 28, 2016 Crispy lid! @KyleBusch gives @POTUS one of his helmets as a gift at today's visit to the @WhiteHouse . pic.twitter.com/NnUu6nEQyV — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 28, 2016 . @POTUS honors @NASCAR champion @KyleBusch and the whole Number 18 team: https://t.co/MRvt4wLGCe — The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 28, 2016
Bruce: XFINITY Chase intensity ratchets up aggression
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid SPARTA, Ky. -- Was Saturday night's opening Chase race for NASCAR’s XFINITY Series an example of good, hard racing or a case of folks driving over their heads? That depends on who one asked afterward. Race winner Elliott Sadler wasn’t pointing fingers, and race winners have rarely been heard to utter a discouraging word. But the JR Motorsports driver said he did notice an uptick in intensity during the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway . "About halfway through the race, it was 'note to self; you can tell it's the Chase because it was caution after caution after caution," Sadler said afterward. "People were tense, eager, frustrated, nervous. A lot of different things going on with drivers right now ... trying to make it to the second (round). "I think people are giving each other less room. Restarts are crazy in the back." They were crazy up front, too. The race, which kicked off a seven-race, two-round elimination playoff for the series, saw the caution flag fly a track record 12 times. More than one-fourth of the race (64 laps) was run under the yellow. Yes, there was even a brief (5 min., 34 sec.) red-flag period. Erik Jones , the top seed and regular-season leader in race wins, got crossed up while racing with Ty Dillon and both the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota and the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet ended up in the wall. RELATED: See the wreck the caught two title contenders Each is now outside eighth place in points with two races to try and improve their standing; only the top eight (with the exception of a Chase race winner that might be 9th-12th ) advance to the second round. Not surprisingly, Jones wasn't particularly pleased with the early ending to his night and said later that the aggressive driving does cause one to approach the race differently. "Yeah, it makes me try to stay out of trouble," he said. "I didn't want to have something like that happen. ... You try to play defense some. I was for sure." Of course, there was the matter of a reconfigured track that sports new asphalt and distinctly different turns. That, too, played a role in the difficulties for some. And that was to be expected, said Brendan Gaughan , driver of the No. 62 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing . "It didn't seem like it was any more aggressive than normal," Gaughan said after finishing sixth. "It's a very narrow race track here right now. That Turn 3 is treacherous, man. There's no grip on the entry, there's no width on the entry. It's a treacherous, treacherous place at the moment. ... "It's still Kentucky. I love it." The fight to advance into the next round began early, but it's not the only battle going on and Saturday night's race brought some of that to light. In addition to the driver's championship, there's an owners title at stake and a couple of teams didn’t forget about that. At the end of the regular season, the No. 2 team of RCR was atop the owners' standings, followed by the No. 18 of Joe Gibbs Racing , the No. 1 of JRM with Sadler behind the wheel, and the No. 22 of Team Penske . Chevy, Toyota, Chevy and Ford. You think those folks aren't paying close attention? RCR brought in Sam Hornish Jr . to keep the No. 2 team in the hunt; Penske handed the reins to Sprint Cup driver Ryan Blaney . Sadler got the win, but a solid fifth-place run by Matt Tifft put the JGR No. 18 atop the owners' standings. JRM (No. 1) now sits second thanks to the victory while Hornish, who finished fourth, kept the RCR entry in the mix -- it's now third. Blaney did not fare badly but the way it all shook out left him third on the track and the team now fifth in the owners' battle. Dover, a fast, unforgiving mile of concrete, is up next. Some folks will be looking to rebound, some looking to continue to ride a hot start. If Kentucky was any indication, they better hope they can just hang on.
Edwards rallies to sixth-place finish at Loudon after penalty
RELATED: Results " Chase Grid " Standings WATCH: Edwards receives penalty LOUDON, N.H. – Coors Light Pole Award winner Carl Edwards hovered in and around the top five for nearly all of Sunday's Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway but nearly had his afternoon derailed due to a costly penalty with less than 40 laps remaining. During the fourth caution of the day, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver came to pit road and incurred a commitment line violation, sinking his running position all the way back to 19th on the ensuing restart on Lap 268. For a minute there, it certainly appeared Edwards would be fighting for Chase for the Sprint Cup survival next week at Dover International Speedway in the final race of the Round of 16. But Edwards rallied hard over the final 30-plus laps to salvage a sixth-place finish and now holds a 16-point cushion over the cutoff line. He'll need to avoid similar gaffes moving forward -- though he doesn't necessarily agree he even made a gaffe -- and realizes he may have gotten away with one here. "I gotta see the replay, but I was pretty sure I made it onto pit road. I felt pretty comfortable," Edwards said on pit road after the race. "I don't know about that (penalty), but we still recovered well. I think we could've been top three or four because we got off sequence, but as it turned out to finish sixth with that penalty is pretty much a gift. My guys didn't quit, I'm proud of them. "Now we head to Dover with a little bit of a point cushion, and Dover is one of my favorite race tracks, one of my best tracks and this team should have won this race in the spring so hopefully we can go there and lock ourselves into the next round. … Anything can happen, but there's no better race for us to be a cutoff race." Following the race, Edwards' crew chief Dave Rogers had a discussion with NASCAR officials to get clarity on the penalty. "Yeah, NASCAR showed me the notes, and the notes that they had were all four tires below the orange box and our right-rear (tire) touched it," Rogers told NASCAR.com. "So it's one of those deals where we knew it was close, and we didn't intentionally drive over the box, first of all. It was a last-minute call to pit. We thought the rule was all four on or below and it wasn't. The rule's all four under, so hence the penalty." Edwards' teammate Denny Hamlin also was victim to a pit road penalty on the same stop, as an errant tire got away from his No. 11 Toyota crew. Hamlin, however, was not as fortunate as Edwards and finished 15th. The 2016 Daytona 500 winner declined post-race interviews and sits seventh on the Chase Grid, still higher than Edwards despite the worse finish. "Unfortunately, we had a pit road penalty; two stops in the end that got us really far behind and just got kind of shuffled out of the mix on a couple restarts and finished about five to 10 spots worse than we should have, but still alive," said Hamlin's crew chief Mike Wheeler. "Hit the restart button and try again. Dover is a decent track for Denny. He hasn't had a win there yet, but has had some good runs and hopefully we can have another good run there."
Matt Kenseth: 'The last restart is my fault'
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Chase gear Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth put the blame squarely on his own shoulders after his second-place finish Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Kenseth -- who led 105 of 300 laps, including from Laps 243-294 -- ceded the lead on the final restart to eventual race winner Kevin Harvick . Kenseth held on for second place, .442 seconds behind at the checkered flag, but expressed regret as he emerged from his No. 20 Toyota post-race. "The last restart was my fault," said Kenseth, who had his modest win streak at the 1.058-mile track snapped at two. "The one before that I thought I did right and we heard from the (race control) tower down that they thought I slowed up before I restarted or something. So the last one I let Kevin lay back on me, which we're supposed to be side-by-side. "I should have known better. I should have just went really late in the (restart) zone and waited until he had to get up to my nose because he anticipated it just right and laid back. Plus, I spun the tires and I got beat through (Turns) 1 and 2 and then it was over." The late-race slip-up paralleled a restart miscue by Martin Truex Jr ., last week's winner and the driver of the JGR-affiliated Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota. Truex lost ground with a sluggish jump on the next-to-last restart after leading a race-high 141 laps. He wound up seventh. Kenseth sits fourth in the 16-driver Chase standings with one race remaining until the Round of 12 is set. A New Hampshire win would have removed any guesswork for the 44-year-old driver ahead of next Sunday's Citizen Soldier 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Dover International Speedway . "You always want to win," Kenseth said. "I thought we had a top-two or -three car today, but we didn't win. They put me in position to do that and I let them down there so I feel bad about that. We ran good last week and we ran decent today, too, so we'll just go to Dover and try to race them there."
Larson sweeps all three Sprint Cup practices at New Hampshire
RELATED: Full results for final practice " Fastest 10-lap averages Kyle Larson made it a perfect sweep of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practices, as his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet flew to the top of the leaderboard at 132.577 mph in Saturday's final practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Larson paced the field in Friday's lone session and tied Martin Truex Jr . for the fastest speed/time in Saturday's morning practice. Joe Gibbs Racing 's Denny Hamlin made a late surge to nab the second spot on the speed charts, wheeling his No. 11 Toyota at 132.549 mph. Hendrick Motorsports ' Kasey Kahne laid down the third-fastest speed, his No. 5 Chevrolet peaking at 132.489 mph. Kahne and teammate Alex Bowman (10th), who is driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Jr . this weekend, were the only non-Chase drivers to record top-15 speeds in the final session. Pole sitter Carl Edwards came up fourth in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (132.420 mph), while Hendrick Motorsports ' Jimmie Johnson completed the top five with a fast speed of 132.255 mph from his No. 48 Chevrolet. Points leader Truex Jr. -- who tied Larson for the fastest speed in practice earlier today -- ranked sixth in the field this session, propelling his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota at 132.250 mph. Reigning race winner Matt Kenseth was seventh-fastest, his No. 20 JGR Toyota topping out at 132.222 mph. Jamie McMurray (18th), Austin Dillon (22nd) and Chris Buescher (28th) were the only Chase drivers to record practice speeds outside the top 15. The Sprint Cup Series returns to the track Sunday for the Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). RELATED: Full results for Practice 2 Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr . both reached 132.186 mph early in the second Sprint Cup Series practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday morning. The Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver also paced the field during Friday's lone Sprint Cup practice session in his No. 42 Chevrolet. Last weekend's Chicagoland winner, Truex Jr. in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota laid down the exact same speed (132.186 mph) and lap time (28.814 seconds) as Larson in the 55-minute session. Reigning race winner Matt Kenseth was third-fastest, his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota reaching a top speed of 132.085 mph, while his JGR teammate Denny Hamlin came up fourth in the field (132.030 mph). Hendrick Motorsports ' Chase Elliott rounded out the top five with a top speed of 131.980 mph in his No. 24 Chevrolet. Coors Light Pole winner Carl Edwards was sixth-fastest in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. The top-nine performers in the second session were all Chase drivers and Chasers made up 11 of the top-15; Brad Keselowski (18th), Tony Stewart (19th), Austin Dillon (23rd) and Chris Buescher (33rd) were the outlying Chase competitors.
Sam Hornish Jr. wants a win for RCR
RELATED: Meet the XFINITY Chase field SPARTA, Ky. – Sam Hornish may not be a threat in the NASCAR XFINITY Series inaugural Chase, but that doesn't mean the Richard Childress Racing driver isn't a concern. Saturday night's VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) officially kicks off the series' seven-race Chase. Hornish is making just his fourth start of the season, therefore he was not eligible for the 12-team Chase field. That hasn't keep him out of the winner's circle, however as he wheeled the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing to the win at Iowa. And in two subsequent starts with the No. 2 team for RCR, Hornish has finished sixth and second. He's making start No. 3 in the No. 2 Chevrolet for RCR here at Kentucky. And the 37-year-old was once again fast here Friday, clocking the third-fastest lap in each of the day's two practice sessions. Qualifying is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. ET on Saturday. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Erik Jones was quickest in both practice sessions. "It was pretty good," Hornish said of the results at day's end. "The car started off a little bit free in the afternoon, but it was so hot. I felt like we got just a little bit behind there in the last practice but our car is good, it's got decent balance; we just need a little bit to be able to run with the JGR cars." Hornish has four top-10 finishes in five XFINITY Series starts at the 1.5-mile Kentucky track. His racing career, which includes three IndyCar championships, got a major boost here in 2000 when he finished ninth after running out of fuel late in the race. That effort opened eyes and doors, and soon his open-wheel career was off and running. His NASCAR career has included stints in Sprint Cup and the XFINITY Series; he also has one start in the Camping World Truck Series. "Right now this is the last (race) I have scheduled ... we've had a good run," he said of the RCR arrangement. "It's a good car, they've got some wins and they continue to build momentum. I'd like to go to Victory Lane for them for sure. "They're running for an owners' championship so we have to be smart about everything we do as well." JGR teammates Jones and Daniel Suarez are seeded first and third in the Chase, respectively, with veteran Elliott Sadler (JR Motorsports) wedged in between. Ty Dillon , teammate to Hornish, is seeded fourth while Justin Allgaier (JRM) is fifth. Darrell Wallace ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Brendan Gaughan (RCR), Brennan Poole ( Chip Ganassi Racing ), Ryan Sieg (RSS Racing), Ryan Reed (RFR), Brandon Jones (RCR) and Blake Koch (Kaulig Racing) round out the 12-team Chase field. "We were able to make some good gains mostly in race conditions," said Jones, who will be seeking his fifth win of the season on Saturday. "It wasn't so much that we needed the speed, we needed to find some drivability in it and I think we (did). ... "It's going to change a lot once it cools all the way down and we get into race conditions but I feel pretty good about it." Except for the number of races, the XFINITY Series Chase mirrors that of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, with three-race segments leading up to a one-race finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway .
All 16 Chase cars clear post-race inspection
WATCH LIVE: Inspection from the R&D Center at 8 a.m. ET RELATED: Full race results LOUDON, N.H. -- Only Kevin Harvick emerged victorious Sunday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , but his other 15 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff foes salvaged some shred of consolation alongside him. All 16 championship-eligible cars won the race after the race Sunday, clearing without issue through the Laser Inspection Station (LIS) platform after the Bad Boy Off Road 300. Those cleared included the winning Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet driven by Harvick, who damaged his car's left-rear fender with a smoky, tire-ripping burnout after his third victory of the season. Only the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota of third-place finisher Kyle Busch went through the inspection bay a second time, and that was due to the car failing to meet the weight limit by a nominal amount. After topping off fluids as permitted in the rules, the No. 18 also was cleared. Scrutiny for the post-race inspection process rose after last weekend's Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway , leading to midweek rules updates from NASCAR's competition department. Last weekend, the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 of race winner Martin Truex Jr . and the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 for Jimmie Johnson both were flagged for being outside of the allowable measurements at the LIS station. NASCAR officials responded by scratching penalties for minor infractions. But they also required the full Chase field to make its way through the LIS inspection bay, a process that added a sidelight to the usual busy atmosphere in the post-race garage area. Following stern warnings in the pre-race drivers' and crew chiefs' meeting against circumventing the LIS platform, the new post-race check was largely a breeze. All 16 cars received a thumbs up from competition officials in a tidy span of roughly 45 minutes. As is customary, race officials announced that they would take a handful of cars back to the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, for further inspection. Those are: -- Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet driven by race winner Kevin Harvick -- Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota driven by runner-up Matt Kenseth -- Team Penske No. 2 Ford driven by fourth-place finisher Brad Keselowski That process will be live streamed on NASCAR.com on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET. RELATED: Watch live inspection here
Late wreck hinders Chase position for Jones, Dillon
RELATED: Results " Chase Grid " Standings MORE: Watch the incident " Dillon talks about the wreck SPARTA, Ky. -- Erik Jones looked every bit the part of a pre-Chase favorite Saturday at Kentucky Speedway until a crash with barely more than 10 laps remaining took the Joe Gibbs Racing driver out of contention. Jones led exactly one-half of the 200 laps that made up the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 . But the field had barely gone back to green-flag racing on Lap 188 when the back end of Jones' No. 20 Toyota came around as he found himself three-wide in Turn 3 with Ty Dillon ( Richard Childress Racing ) on his outside and JGR teammate Daniel Suarez underneath. "I got sucked around," a disappointed Jones said after exiting the infield care center. "I slammed on the brakes trying to slow down but Ty had been holding me really tight there on the restart, slamming doors in (Turns) 1 and 2. He was on me pretty tight down there. "It was my fault, but it's tough when you're in that situation." The pole winner for the NASCAR XFINITY Series' inaugural opening Chase race, Jones came into the race as the No. 1 seed thanks to four wins during the regular season. The 28th-place finish dropped him from first to ninth in the standings with two races remaining in the opening Chase segment. "It definitely looks like we're going to have to run really well at Dover and Charlotte, if not get a win," jones said. "Getting knocked out there is not a good situation for us. I thought we could probably get a win tonight and get locked in (to the next round), but we'll have to do pretty good here the next two (races) to move on." The race, won by JR Motorsports driver Elliott Sadler , was slowed by a track-record 12 cautions for 64 laps. Aggressive maneuvers saw the field flare out three-and four-wide on numerous restarts. "I was definitely playing more defense on restarts than I ever have been in my career, just trying to guard and make sure I was in one piece," Jones said, "but there's only so much you can do before one of those times you run out of luck." Dillon, who led 47 laps around the 1.5-mile track, finished one positon ahead of Jones in 27th and fell eight spots, from fourth to 12th in points, with the setback. Only eight of the 12 Chase drivers will advance to the second round. "I had a pretty good restart there and had a good run on the 20," Dillon said of the incident with Jones. "I heard him get loose and he had to lift and there was nowhere I can go. "It just sucks to start off the Chase like that we're in a hole but we had speed tonight so we can win races. It just hurts and then you see the 1 (Sadler) win; we were better than him all night." "It's so fast around here but one groove and things like that are going to happen, especially when everybody is trying to get locked into that Chase." Jones and Dillon weren't the only Chase drivers to find themselves involved in on-track incidents -- toss Justin Allgaier (P9), Ryan Sieg (P16), runner-up Daniel Suarez (P2) into the mix as well. Most, if not all, were able to recover, however. "I think we can win anytime we come to the race track," Jones said, "but we beat ourselves a lot this year and we did it again tonight and that's unfortunate."
Kenseth: 'I feel like we can definitely get it together'
RELATED: Chase Grid CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The last two times NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series has competed at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , Matt Kenseth has come away with the win. In fact, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has won three of the last six Sprint Cup events at the 1.058-mile track located in Loudon, New Hampshire. Maybe that makes him one of the favorites heading into this weekend's race but Kenseth isn't taking anything for granted. The Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is the second race of this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the second of three in the opening Round of 16. "You never know until you get there but we ran really well in July," Kenseth, 44, told NASCAR.com Wednesday. "We ran really well last fall, too. Probably could have run second or third, ended up getting by (teammate) Denny (Hamlin) there at the end and Kevin (Harvick) ran out of gas. "We've had really good cars there since I've been (at) JGR. It used to be a track that I sort of dreaded … but the last three years it's been pretty good." Kenseth won twice during the 26-race regular season to qualify for one of the 16 Chase positions but had to rally for a ninth-place finish a week ago in the Chase opener at Chicagoland. Misfortune struck the 2003 series champion twice, leaving him scrambling to regain lost track position. "I can't say we weren't good," Kenseth said. "We started seventh … we pit under green and the caution came out … and that really got us behind. I had just gotten back to maybe the top 10 again … and I sped on pit road. "So that put us in the back again. Really we just fought most of the day trying to get back our track position. I really felt like we had a pretty good car … I don't know why, but for me it was just incredibly hard to pass." Kenseth has failed to qualify for only one Chase, in 2009. Six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson is the only active driver with more Chase appearances. But while all of Johnson's titles have come since the debut of the Chase in '04, Kenseth has yet to solve the riddle of the 10-race playoff. In the two years the Chase has featured an elimination format, he's failed to advance to the Championship Four. "There's not a magic formula besides beating the rest of the cars because you just don't know what the others are going to do," he said. "It's definitely different. One thing I really learned is that it's unpredictable. You don't know what’s going to happen. You've got to get that finish every week and not make mistakes." While he said he doesn’t feel as if his No. 20 team is running as good or getting the consistent finishes it was at this point a year ago, Kenseth said he's confident his group will continue to contend. "I feel like our equipment is just as good or better than it was last year," he said, "so I feel like we can definitely get it together."
XFINITY race winners carrying extra Chase confidence
RELATED: See the XFINITY Chase Grid " Every '16 winner " Get to know the field CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Of the 12 drivers that make up this year's NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase field, only three won races during the "regular" season, so the fact that the three appeared to be feeling pretty good about their chances Tuesday during media day activities at the NASCAR Hall of Fame came as no surprise. Erik Jones , 20, won more races than anyone not named Kyle Busch , four to be exact, and most folks here seemed to agree, some more grudgingly than others, that the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 team is the one to beat. Veteran Elliott Sadler won twice, and the Emporia, Virginia native has been around the track a few times. His career, in fact, was already underway when the Jones family welcomed young Erik into the world. Sadler's wins in the No. 1 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports came this year at Talladega and Darlington and Sadler is the only guy in the field who can say he was in the inaugural Chase for both the premier series and the XFINITY Series. Daniel Suarez , Jones' teammate, earned his first series victory at Michigan. He enters the seven-race playoff, which begins with this weekend’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), with three top-five finishes in his last four starts. The other result was a top-10 so Suarez and the No. 19 team appear to be on top of their game as well. No one is conceding anything just yet however. Not the Richard Childress Racing trio of Ty Dillon , Brendan Gaughan or Brandon Jones ; Sadler’s JRM teammate Justin Allgaier or Roush Fenway Racing ’s Darrell Wallace Jr . and Ryan Reed . Even single-team entrants Brennan Poole ( Chip Ganassi Racing ), Ryan Sieg (RSS Racing), and Blake Koch (Kaulig Racing) spoke of the potential for advancing from one round to the next and keeping title hopes alive. "I don't know if that's good or bad," a grinning Sadler said of his dual Chase experience. "I do remember being part of the first ever (Sprint) Cup Chase and now this one. It's pretty cool." The benefits of that 2004 experience are limited, but useful nonetheless. "It's not like I'm a seasoned quarterback that can read the defense better than a rookie quarterback," Sadler said. "I think that's when experience plays a part. Now it's just about which teams can get their cars the fastest, what driver can give the best information and not make mistakes on the track. Everybody that's part of this Chase can do just as good of a job as anybody else, no matter their age or where they are from or how many years they've raced. I don't think that's a big part of it. "The only thing I think I know is the difference in the intensity level; that's the biggest thing I remember about being a part of the ( Sprint Cup ) Chase. The next week it was like 'holy cow, it's flipped the switch.' Not only racing other guys but your team, what they are going through, the driver, the communication. It's like everything is set to fast forward … and you have to understand how to communicate at such a different level." Jones is coming off a 2015 season that saw the Byron, Michigan native win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title, and he’s headed for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in ’17 as a teammate with Martin Truex Jr . at Furniture Row Racing . Six times this season, he and Suarez have finished a race with both cars in the top five. In 13 other races, at least one of the two have finished fifth or higher. The teammate tag doesn't go out the window with the Chase now at hand. But both, along with 10 others, are racing for a shot at a single prize. "It's tough; the teammate deal is always tough in racing," Jones said. "… There are times when you have to race like teammates and times your race as competitors. It's a tough balance for sure, but it's also nice when you go to the race track and you have other drivers to lean on, you can get information from and better each other. "Hopefully we're both in Homestead chasing the championship." Suarez also understands the benefits that come with a competitive teammate and agreed that "it's hard to balance out because both of us want to race hard for wins. "I think we're going to be in good shape," he said. "Both of us have a good shot to be competitive every single weekend for the Chase." </p>