NASCAR President clears up postseason status RELATED: Full coverage of Tony Stewart incident NASCAR President Mike Helton said Tony Stewart would be eligible for the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup if he wins one of the final two regular-season races. Helton said that "this has been a very unique set of circumstances to Tony and to out sport. As the league, it's our responsibility to try and make decisions that are correct and right. Sometimes we evaluate circumstances that are given to us and then we make those decisions as correctly as we can. After evaluating the circumstances around this occurrence, we've come to the conclusion that Tony would be eligible to participate in the Chase if he were to earn a spot in it." At Atlanta Motor Speedway , Stewart is set to participate in his first Sprint Cup Series after sitting out the past three races. Stewart is 26th in points. To be eligible for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, a driver must attempt to qualify for all 26 races leading up to the Chase and be in the top 30 in points. However, according to NASCAR, for rare instances the requirement can be waived as long as the driver is in the top 30. Stewart missed three races following his involvement in a sprint car racing incident earlier this month that resulted in driver Kevin Ward Jr. suffering fatal injuries at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, a half-mile dirt track on the Ontario County Fairgrounds. The investigation regarding the incident is ongoing. Stewart's racing plans outside NASCAR have been canceled and will not resume until further notice. Denny Hamlin experienced his own form of exemption into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs after he missed the fifth race of the season, at Auto Club Speedway in March, with an eye injury. Five races later, Hamlin scored a regular-season victory at Talladega Superspeedway to clinch a Chase berth. While he didn't know all the particulars of Stewart's situation and his three-race absence, Hamlin said he had no problem with the three-time Sprint Cup champion being eligible should he win one of the remaining two regular-season events. "I don't know. It's a very vague thing," Hamlin said. "I know that originally, you had to have some kind of medical note or something like that, and that's kind of what happened to me with my eye when I met with Mr. Helton and the doctors at California. They said that this is kind of why they've built this program in place to just get better and come back when you can and just win a race. We did that and got ourselves in, but it's tough to say what's considered medical and not, but either way, I'm fine with Tony either in or out, it's good with me." Six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said he was pleased that NASCAR could be flexible to allow exemptions and that he hoped that course of action would be used going forward. "Obviously, they're setting a precedent here and we'll see what other extreme circumstances develop in future years and how NASCAR looks at that," Johnson said. "I'm happy that they're sympathetic to situations and look at it and are giving a team and driver that opportunity. But again, they've set a precedent here that we're just going to have to be aware of, and hopefully they can continue to evaluate these and handle them in a similar manner." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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See where each driver finished at Atlanta and what put them there MORE: Gallery of 2014 winners " Best Atlanta photos 1. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Kasey Kahne basically had to win, so that's what he did. And the journey Kahne took to get to Victory Lane was long and winding, but ultimately rewarding after the driver notched his first win of 2014 and punched his postseason ticket following two attempts at a green-white-checkered finish. "You're a badass!," spotter Kevin Hamlin said. "Nice job." Watch Kahne's highlights here. 2. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. A late call for two tires gave Kenseth the best chance to win. And although the veteran couldn't quite hold off Kasey Kahne, he's getting closer to his first win of 2014. He finished third last week and second Sunday. Oh, and he clinched a berth in the Chase Grid, too. Watch the final laps here. 3. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin consistently gained ground on pit road and his pit crew rated the highest of the night, according to RaceView data. His average crew time (11.8 seconds), average driver time (24.3 seconds) and average total time (36.1 seconds) on pit road all ranked first for the night. To get live data during pit stops and post-race rankings, subscribe to RaceView. 4. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson's car wasn't ridiculously fast, but it was good. The strategy was sound, as always, and "Six-Time" avoided the trouble that befell so many of Sunday's front-runners for his second consecutive fourth-place finish. The driver and crew chief Chad Knaus were also a delight over the radio. To subscribe to RaceView and get uncensored in-race audio, click here. 5. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. This was a weird race for Edwards. During the race's first caution, he had to come in for a new transponder but was awarded his spot in the field back. Then late, he was involved in a wreck on the first attempt at a green-white-checkered restart. But there was Edwards, barreling down the track and securing his sixth top-five of the year by the end of the night. 6. Danica Patrick, No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Danica Patrick said the race felt like "700 miles." All good things come to those who wait. Patrick restarted fourth with two laps to go and wound up sixth, a career-best effort. "I was starting to think holy (expletive), we can win here," she crowed to her team in celebration. To see her highlights, click here. 7. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman notched his first top-10 in nearly a month, which was crucial to his postseason chances after Kasey Kahne won for the first time in 2014. He was able to do so by being the best closer of the race -- he moved up 12 positions over the final 33 laps. 8. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. Larson slid through his pit box early and lost critical positioning. During a long run at the midway point, he fell from fifth to 12th. Yet there was this rookie up front by the end, recording his 11th top-10 of the year and sixth top-12 in his past seven starts. On RaceView, crew chief Chris Heroy called out that a ladybug had landed on his visor -- isn't that supposed to bring good luck? To subscribe to RaceView, click here. 9. Aric Almirola, No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Almirola was one of two drivers to gain more than 10 positions on the track over the final 10 percent of the race -- in this case, 33 laps. It led to a finish that should give his team a jolt with the Chase starting in two weeks. 10. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Despite smacking Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Lap 269 and nearly getting sent off the track, Biffle recovered. The same can be said about his season. The veteran now has five consecutive top-10s after finishing 10th for the third consecutive race. He's currently the final driver in the Chase Grid. To see his highlights, click here. 11. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Tony Stewart's disintegrated tire on Lap 173 strewed debris all over the track. Some of hit Junior's Chevrolet, and it ruined his chance of winning -- but not his night. Earnhardt had to come down pit road multiple times to fix his grille, but managed to stay on the lead lap. Click here to see Junior's highlights. 12. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. McMurray and teammate Kyle Larson continue to have strong cars. And they've gotten good finishes out of them, too. After all, it was Chip Ganassi Racing -- not Team Penske -- as the two-car team to place both its drivers in the top 12. 13. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. The 'Outlaw' led more than 20 laps (22 total) for the fifth time this year, and his Chevrolet was in top form … at least until he blew a right rear tire around the midway point. His No. 41 hit the outside wall hard, knocking a chunk of the vehicle off and forcing Busch to play catch-up all night. To see his highlights, click here. 14. Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. Certainly, Marcos Ambrose' engine blowing up wasn't good for the No. 9 team. It was for Logano and Co., however. The lengthy time it took to clean the track allowed Logano to get his mind cleared. "Probably a good thing we had this caution," he told crew chief Todd Gordon. "I needed a chill pill." A more calm and cool Logano took the track, and he remained in a zen-like mode … all the way up to a wreck on the first attempt at a green-white-checkered restarted, that ruined his chance at winning. To get in-race audio, subscribe to RaceView. 15. Brian Vickers, No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. Vickers' worst finish at Atlanta over the past six races was due to a speeding penalty on pit road. That happened with fewer than 50 laps remaining, and it sent the driver well outside the top 10 -- where he had been running. 16. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Near the midway point, Busch broke loose and smacked Tony Stewart, who got into the wall. Just before the white flag dropped, he ran Martin Truex Jr. into the wall and later barreled into his car once the caution flag came out. It's been a rough month for 'Rowdy' and company. Click here to see Sunday's highlights. 17. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. A spate of bad luck continued for Gordon, who has started in the top 10 for four consecutive races yet has just one top-15 to show for it. Sunday's showing, in which he started ninth and drove up to second early, was marred by a blown right front tire on Lap 78. He lost a lap getting repairs, then another after he had to come back down. Somehow getting back on the lead lap is a victory in its own right. 18. Paul Menard, No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. The only surefire way the No. 27 team could crash the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup was by winning one of the final two regular-season races. It's why crew chief Slugger Labbe called for two tires on a pit stop before the first green-white-checkered restart, and Menard restarted second. He couldn't find his grip, though, and cars stacked up behind him, eventually leading to a wreck. 19. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. For a while, it looked like Harvick had nine lives Sunday -- fascinating, of course, because the driver claims he nearly ran over a cat (or was it a squirrel?). Harvick consistently made up for lost time on pit road and led a whopping 195 laps before slamming the fence in a multicar incident on the penultimate restart. 20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Much like he did last season, Stenhouse is finding some consistency late in the year. While a 20th-place effort isn't a reason to celebrate, it's his fifth consecutive top-20 performance. That is easily his longest streak of the year. 21. Michael Annett, No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Annett's 21st-place finish was his best showing in the past seven races, and he was the highest finisher for Tommy Baldwin Racing. Finishing one lap down on such a long race after two consecutive weeks of DNFs is a boon for this team. 22. Casey Mears, No. 13 Chevrolet, German Racing. If nothing else, Mears is consistent. His average career finish at Atlanta is 22.5. His finish last year was 22nd. His finish this year? 22nd. 23. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing. For the second time in four races, Truex had a run-in with Kyle Busch. This one happened on Lap 324, with Busch essentially dumping Truex. The Furniture Row Racing driver leaned into Busch's car to talk to him after the race, but it didn't get physical. "The 18 will come on your outside," crew chief Todd Berrier said over the radio after the incident. "Getting pissy in my ear, cut it out, we'll take care of it in our own way." Click here to get in-race audio and telemetry. 24. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Dillon's rookie season isn't over -- there are 11 more races, after all -- but his chance of advancing to the postseason based off points is kaput. It's simple at Richmond -- winning is the only way into the Chase Grid. 25. Ty Dillon, No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport Racing. Not a bad finish for the NASCAR Nationwide Series regular in his first career Sprint Cup start. We're willing to bet he wished to be flipped with the person who finished 24th, though. Let's just say there was an extra incentive. 26. Justin Allgaier, No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Allgaier's 26th-place run wasn't his worst showing of late. But when you take away races in which he was knocked out early due to a crash, Sunday was his worst finish since Indianapolis. 27. David Ragan, No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Ragan was consistent Sunday, and actually ended up as one of the night's biggest gainers. Considering he started 38th, 27th wasn't a bad showing for the No. 34 team. 28. David Gilliland, No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. For the sixth time this year, Gilliland and teammate David Ragan finished in consecutive order. Like his teammate, the driver of the No. 38 gained incremental positions throughout the night. 29. Reed Sorenson, No. 36 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. For the fifth consecutive race, Sorenson finished inside the top 30 -- although just barely at Atlanta. Before this stretch, he had five top-30s in the first 20 races. 30. Cole Whitt, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing. Whitt was whistled for speeding late in Sunday's event, the result of which sent him back down pit road for a pass-through penalty in what would be his second consecutive 30th-place finish. Denny Hamlin also called him out on the radio for not signaling to pit, causing a stack-up. 31. Landon Cassill, No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Racing. What is it about quirky intermediate tracks that has Cassill boosting his game? He hasn't done well on the "cookie-cutter" 1.5-mile tracks, but his effort at Atlanta (1.54 miles) mirrored his above-expectations finish at Darlington (1.37 miles) earlier this year. 32. J.J. Yeley, No. 32 Ford, GO Fas Racing. Driving the No. 32 car , Yeley finished 32nd for his second-best finish of the season. 33. Josh Wise, No. 98 Chevrolet, Phil Parsons Racing. Wise found his name being mentioned at the end of Sunday's race, although it was not in the manner he would have preferred. Brad Keselowski's hopes were dashed after he smacked Wise late while cars tried to figure out their pit strategy. 34. Brett Moffitt, No. 66 Toyota, Jay Robinson Racing. These races are supposed to be learning experiences for the 22-year-old Moffitt, so ideally he learned something he can use for the future when he was caught speeding on pit road. 35. Alex Bowman, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Bowman finished just ahead of rookie teammate Ryan Truex. Those two were the only drivers to complete exactly 326 (of 335) laps. 36. Ryan Truex, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. Truex brought out the caution Lap 116 when he took a spin. Other than that, it was a relatively quiet night for the No. 83 team. 37. Joe Nemechek, No. 77 Ford, Randy Humphrey Racing. Sunday was Nemechek's 13th start in 25 races this year (he failed to qualify for five others) and it fell in line with his stats. His average finish this year is 36.3. 38. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. If there was ever a time to subscribe to RaceView for uncensored audio, it was when Bowyer realized something was seriously wrong with his vehicle. Expletives flew as the driver took his car behind the wall with a busted gear shifter. He returned to the track 22 laps down -- and in real danger of missing out on the postseason after Kasey Kahne's win. Subscribe to RaceView here. 39. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. "We're here to win," Keselowski told his team over the radio before the race. "That's all that really matters right now." Those hopes all but ended when pitting following a Lap 209 caution, Keselowski severely overshot his stall. He came in second, and was out in 16th place. He explained over RaceView: "I couldn't see it, I'm sorry. It's so dark out here." Things got worse later, and a wreck with a lapped car sent Keselowski to the garage for good after 296 laps. For in-driver audio during races, subscribe to RaceView here. 40. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. Tires were twice a problem for Allmendinger and his team. Blowing a right tire on Lap 38 put him a lap down, and he blew another tire later and had to go behind the wall. It was a cruel blow to the one-car JTG Daugherty organization, which had pieced together three consecutive top-15s -- including a win at Watkins Glen. 41. Tony Stewart, No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. In his first race in nearly a month following a tragic sprint car accident, Stewart's car was among the best in the field early. He gained five spots in the first two laps and was running in the top five early. Trouble started on Lap 122 when contact from Kyle Busch put the No. 14 into the wall, and a blown right front tire ended his night for good on Lap 173. "Sorry guys," Stewart said in driving his battered Chevy behind the wall. "You deserved better." See Stewart's highlights here. 42. Marcos Ambrose, No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Ambrose has had good runs at Atlanta, but Sunday wasn't one of them. His No. 9 Ford blew an engine on Lap 123, ending his night. The Australian driver's slim hopes of advancing into the postseason on points alone are done. He must win next week. 43. Mike Bliss, No. 37 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Sunday served as the third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start of the season for the 49-year-old. He had previously finished 43rd at New Hampshire and 41st at Kentucky.
See who is on the Nationwide Series entry list for Richmond RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live Entry No. Driver Owner Crew chief Vehicle Sponsor 1 01 Landon Cassill Johnny Davis Dave Fuge 14 Chevrolet TeamJDMotorsports.com 2 2 Brian Scott Richard Childress Phil Gould 14 Chevrolet Smokey Mountain Snuff 3 3 Ty Dillon Richard Childress Danny Stockman Jr 14 Chevrolet Yuengling Light Lager 4 4 Jeffrey Earnhardt Gary Keller Gary Cogswell 14 Chevrolet TeamJDMotorsports.com 5 5 Kevin Harvick(i) Rick Hendrick Ernie Cope 14 Chevrolet Armour Vienna Sausage 6 6 Trevor Bayne Jack Roush Chad Norris 14 Ford AdvoCare 7 7 Regan Smith Kelley Earnhardt-Miller Ryan Pemberton 14 Chevrolet TaxSlayer.com 8 9 Chase Elliott Dale Earnhardt Jr Greg Ives 14 Chevrolet NAPA AUTO PARTS 9 10 Mike Bliss Mark Smith Paul Clapprood 14 Toyota TriStar Motorsports 10 11 Elliott Sadler J D Gibbs Chris Gayle 14 Toyota OneMain Financial 11 14 Jeff Green Mark Smith Wes Ward 14 Toyota Hefty Ultimate / Reynolds Wrap 12 16 Ryan Reed Jack Roush Seth Barbour 14 Ford ADA Drive to Stop Diabetes presented by Lilly Diabetes 13 17 Tanner Berryhill Adrian Berryhill Daniel Stillman 14 Dodge NationalCashLenders.com 14 19 Hermie Sadler III Mark Smith Eddie Pardue 14 Toyota VA Lottery 15 20 Matt Kenseth(i) Joe Gibbs Kevin Kidd 14 Toyota GameStop 16 22 Ryan Blaney(i) Roger Penske Jeremy Bullins 14 Ford Hertz 17 23 Cody Ware Robert Richardson Sr George Church 14 Chevrolet Lilly Trucking/38 Special Filtered Cigars 18 28 J J Yeley James Whitener Steve Plattenberger 13 Dodge Texas 28 19 29 Kelly Admiraal Robby Benton TBA 14 Toyota Swan Rentals 20 31 Dylan Kwasniewski Steve Turner Shannon Rursch 14 Chevrolet Rockstar 21 33 Cale Conley(i) Richard Childress Nick Harrison 14 Chevrolet IAVA 22 39 Ryan Sieg Rod Sieg Kevin Starland 14 Chevrolet StationDigital.com 23 40 Josh Wise(i) Curtis Key Sr Gary Showalter 14 Chevrolet Curtis Key Plumbing 24 42 Kyle Larson(i) Harry Scott Jr Scott Zipadelli 14 Chevrolet Colgate 25 43 Dakoda Armstrong Richard Petty Philippe Lopez 14 Ford WinField 26 44 Will Kimmel III Mark Smith Greg Conner 14 Toyota Ingersoll Rand 27 46 Matt Dibenedetto Curtis Key Sr Kyle Symington 14 Chevrolet Curtis Key Plumbing 28 51 Jeremy Clements Tony Clements Ricky Pearson 14 Chevrolet Allsouthelectric.com-RepairableVehicles.com 29 52 Joey Gase Jimmy Means Tim Brown 14 Chevrolet TBA 30 54 Kyle Busch(i) J D Gibbs Adam Stevens 14 Toyota Monster Energy 31 55 Jamie Dick Jimmy Dick Mark Setzer 14 Chevrolet Viva Auto Group 32 60 Chris Buescher Jack Roush Scott Graves 14 Ford Mustang's 50th Anniversary 33 62 Brendan Gaughan Richard Childress Shane Wilson 14 Chevrolet USAF Combat & Command 34 70 Derrike Cope Mary Louise Miller Bobby Burrell 14 Chevrolet YOUTHEORY 35 172 John Jackson James Carter Richard Garcia 14 Chevrolet Crash Claims R US 36 74 Mike Harmon Mike Harmon Gary Ritter 12 Dodge TBA 37 184 Chad Boat Billy Boat Dan Deeringhoff 14 Chevrolet CorvetteParts.net 38 86 TBA Scott Deware George Church 14 Chevrolet Racetrac Convenience Stores 39 87 Josh Reaume Andrea Nemechek Steven Gray 14 Chevrolet City of the Outcast 40 89 Morgan Shepherd Morgan Shepherd Kevyn Rebolledo 14 Chevrolet King's Tire-Courtney Construction 41 91 Blake Koch Mark Smith Todd Myers 14 Toyota SupportMilitary.org 42 93 Mike Wallace Gregg Mixon David Goulet 13 Dodge JGL Racing 43 99 James Buescher Robby Benton Matthew Lucas 14 Toyota Ruud (i) equals ineligible for driver championship points MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Watch as NASCAR President Mike Helton takes the Ice Bucket Challenge with help from some drivers.
Ty Dillon expresses his frustration with Chase Elliott on their last-lap wreck and Max Papis recalls his rough racing with Mike Skeen at the end of the Chevrolet Silverado 250.