RELATED: Learn more about Watkins Glen " Course breakdown by turn WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Now that Watkins Glen has started repaving its racing surface, running "the Boot" may be back on the table for NASCAR races. The current configuration of the Glen for NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races eliminates the Boot, which contains Turns 6 through 9, and shortens the course from 3.40 miles to 2.45 miles. But with repaving already having taken place in the Boot, smoothing the bumps in that portion of the track, NASCAR is considering running the full Grand Prix Course, which currently is used for the Tudor United Sports Car Championship. "We could," NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell told the NASCAR Wire Service before Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen. "We're discussing it with the track. It's something we're looking at down the road." Even with the addition of the Boot, Watkins Glen wouldn't be the longest road course on the NASCAR rotation. Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, which hosts the XFINITY Series, measures 4.048 miles.
RELATED: Full results from New Hampshire " Updated standings MORE: See the new Chase Grid LOUDON, N.H. -- Kevin Harvick clarified his championship status on Sunday -- but not the way he had planned. After dominating the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for most of the afternoon, Harvick ran out of fuel while leading on Lap 298 of 300, handing the top spot and the victory to Matt Kenseth , who joined teammate Denny Hamlin as an automatic qualifier for the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Despite leading 216 laps on Sunday, Harvick, the defending series champion, heads to next Sunday's Chase race at Dover almost certainly needing a victory at a track where he has never won in order to escape the Challenger Round of the Chase and keep his title hopes alive. Kenseth, who came to pit road for fuel and tires on Lap 239, triumphed for the fifth time this season (tops in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series), for the second time at the Magic Mile and for the 36th time in his career. He finished 8.941 seconds ahead of Hamlin, who nursed his car to a runner-up finish despite a late-race issue with the right front wheel. "It feels great to win here -- a lot of great race fans here at New Hampshire," Kenseth said. "We had a great car today -- Kevin definitely had the field covered and (Kenseth's crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) did a great job on pit strategy there, and those new tires paid off better than we thought to get up through the field. "And I was able to keep the pressure on enough and he came up a little short." The victory was the 13th of the season for Joe Gibbs Racing , which has won 10 of the last 13 Sprint Cup events. Joey Logano ran third, followed by Greg Biffle , Carl Edwards , Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr . The only non-Chase driver of that group, Biffle posted his third top-five result of the season. Dale Earnhardt Jr . had a consistent top-10 car all afternoon, until he, too, ran short of fuel with two laps left and finished 25th. Earnhardt goes to Dover with no margin for error. He’s 12th in the standings, the final position that will survive elimination next Sunday, and just one point ahead of both Kyle Busch and Paul Menard . Busch blew a right front tire on Sunday, pounded the Turn 3 wall on Lap 159 and was credited with a 37th-place finish. Harvick, who finished 21st and declined comment after the race, came to pit road for the last time on Lap 212 and couldn't squeeze the last 88 laps at the 1.058-mile track out of his fuel cell. Restarting third on Lap 243 after the ninth and final caution (for Justin Allgaier 's wreck in Turn 3), Harvick passed Biffle for the lead on Lap 252. Twenty laps later, Kenseth got past Hamlin for second and tried to pressure Harvick, who left Loudon in 15th place, 23 points behind Earnhardt in 12th. "Jason kept saying he (Harvick) was low on fuel, but you never know unless they really run out," Kenseth said. "I was trying to run hard, but I was trying to save a little bit. I got racing Denny pretty hard, and I wanted to save the tires a little bit, but I also know I needed to get by him to pressure the 4 (Harvick). "That was as hard as I could run. I was planning on running up there and trying to pass him. I just couldn't get there. Kind of resigned to finish second with about four or five (laps) to go there. I couldn't get much closer, and he ran out with a couple to go." Second to Kenseth in the standings, six points out of the Chase lead, Hamlin also acknowledged JGR's good fortune on Sunday. "Really, I don't feel like we were dominant today by any means," Hamlin said. "Yeah, our cars finished 1-2, but I'm not sure that we had 1-2 cars most of the day. "So I think we've been very fortunate with some strategies and things that we've played that's worked out in our favor. You've got to just keep working. That's the only way you can stay on top is to not rest."
RELATED: Race results " Updated standings SPARTA, Ky. – Ryan Blaney would not be denied Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway . In fact, Blaney may owe a pushing Regan Smith dinner after a green-white-checkered restart proved to be the saving grace for the driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang, who won his second NASCAR XFINITY Series win of the season in Saturday night's VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 . Blaney appeared to be heading towards Victory Lane, but an attack from Ty Dillon on a restart with eight laps to go sent him from first to third. Then, a caution waved with four laps remaining and reset the field into overtime. "We were just even with the 3 (Dillon), and the 7 (Smith) gave us a good push [on the final restart]," said Blaney who captured his fourth career XFINITY Series win. "Luckily we were able to get a good [push] and just get a little bit of position on the 3 to kind of use up the race track and get in front of him. I knew once we were clear we had a really good shot at it. "A great Discount Tire Ford Mustang. We were great all night. It was just a matter getting up the front. Clean air was so important." As for the next-to-last restart, which saw Blaney's winning chances temporarily fall, momentum worked against him. "Kentucky is such a great race track because you can see three or four wide racing in the first corner and as the leader you have to protect and I didn't know where the 7 (Smith) was going, he kind of faked me out going to the top and that was able to open up the middle and it just lost all of our momentum," Blaney said. For Dillon, he was frustrated with his runner-up performance. "First of all, I am disappointed for second, and that's a good thing," Dillon said. "I'm proud to be sitting here saying that. Earlier this year, we didn't have that opportunity to say that very often. Man, it hurts when you've got a big lead with four to go - I don't even know what the caution was for - but, that's a stinger." Just before halfway Brennan Poole spun in Turn 1 collecting Harrison Rhodes and spewing liquid from Poole's car putting the field under the red flag for cleanup. The race was halted for 18 minutes and 27 seconds, with the field returning to idle conditions and the race resuming with 95 laps remaining. Brandon Jones grabbed the lead on a busy restart and held it through the next caution. With rain in the area, Jones stayed out, while others pitted. MORE: Poole spins and get slammed When racing resumed, Jones controlled the field for 16 laps until Blaney made the pass to retake the lead on Lap 128 and through green flag pit stops, set the tone for the finish of the final standalone race of the season. Chris Buescher , who finished seventh, now leads Dillon by 19 points in the standings with six races remaining. Chase Elliott , who finished fourth, is third, 25 points out.
NASCAR CMO Phelps: 'Technology is incredibly important for us' RELATED: NASCAR news release Technology, in the form of Fortune 500 investment, is reinforcing the notion that NASCAR makes good business sense. For the third consecutive year, the number of Fortune 500 companies utilizing NASCAR as part of their marketing mix has increased. In fact, nearly half of America’s Fortune 100 companies invest with NASCAR to help drive their business and more than one in four Fortune 500 companies are on board. The new analysis, conducted and released by NASCAR on Wednesday, indicated a 7 percent increase in Fortune 500 corporate involvement since the 2014 study. The 130 Fortune 500 companies now involved in the sport reflect a 20 percent increase since 2008. Now, investment is back in a big way, led by high tech involvement in the sport. "Technology is incredibly important for us," says Steve Phelps, NASCAR chief marketing officer. "It’s not only about helping us grow, financially, but how technology helps change people’s perception of NASCAR . Technology helps us on the race track with things like safety initiatives and brings fans closer to the sport they love in many ways." Phelps said the sport began to notice tech’s impact with Hewlett-Packard’s involvement three years ago. Now, NASCAR ’s partnership with Microsoft has other tech companies taking note. Tech corporation involvement is up 66 percent since 2013. "No question, this is great news for us," Phelps says. "We want our fan base to become younger and more diverse. Technology brings those fans. It’s important for us to be there, working with these companies." Phelps sees Microsoft’s collaboration with NASCAR as a true win-win that other tech firms might seek to emulate. "Microsoft, which signed deals with NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports , has used NASCAR as a validator of their technology," Phelps said. "One existing piece is an app they developed that helps us with the inspection process prior to the race. We’re doing things in half the time we used to, using a mobile inspection app as opposed to collecting information manually. This helps with data collection and storage." Phelps is quick to point out that investment in NASCAR ’s sanctioning body, its tracks and its teams extends far beyond the Fortune 500 list. " NASCAR continues to be a great place for all companies to get their marketing message across," Phelps said. "When you look at NASCAR ’s recovery over the past three years, I think it speaks volumes about how NASCAR continues to do very well in attracting businesses of all sizes. "It’s a way for business to reach the most loyal fans in all of sport who vote with their wallets. This continues to be the case in every research report we’ve done: NASCAR fans support brands that support their favorite sport. We think this is a major point of differentiation for us." Brand exposure in NASCAR is especially valuable given the loyalty of its fans. Repucom’s SponsorLink tracker shows seven out of 10 NASCAR fans are loyal to a brand when it sponsors their sport, higher than all other major sports properties. NASCAR CEO Brent Dewar echoed Phelps’ assessment in analyzing the most recent study. "We are gratified that NASCAR continues to be a place where best-in-class corporations choose our sport to drive brand awareness, preference and purchase behavior," Dewar said. "Our fans are fiercely loyal to our sport and the Fortune 500 brands that are an integral part of the NASCAR eco-system. We collaborate with partners across the industry each and every day to grow the sport and help advance sponsors’ objectives." It hasn’t hurt that NASCAR has taken a proactive approach in attracting and discussing its business environment with its investors. An example is NASCAR ’s Fuel for Business Council, which meets quarterly, and gets business leaders talking about opportunities in NASCAR , including branding and business-to-business opportunities. This month’s meeting in San Francisco featured presentations by Microsoft and by Fanatics, which is in the process of revolutionizing the sport’s at-track merchandising operations. "It’s an opportunity for companies to talk to each other, and that’s really important," Phelps said. "Microsoft’s presentation answered the question: 'Why are we in NASCAR ?’ In the end, we do business-to-business better than any sport on the planet – an important point of differentiation for investors." Phelps points out that investment extends far beyond the scope of Fortune 500 corporations and does not include dozens of companies advertising with NASCAR ’s media partners or the hundreds of small- and mid-sized businesses with direct ties to the sport. To be eligible for the Fortune 500, a company must be based in the U.S. and be publicly traded. Though many more Fortune 500 companies advertise on NASCAR -related television programming, only those that are partners or licensees with the sanctioning body, teams and / or tracks were counted in the analysis. Although being a Fortune 500 company is the "gold standard" of success for publicly-traded companies in the U.S., several global corporations currently involved in NASCAR were not included in the analysis because they do not meet Fortune 500 criteria. Those include Ingersoll Rand, MillerCoors, Mars, McLaren and Toyota. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
In announcing its race dates, Chicagoland Speedway also revealed it was again the opening race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Texas officials said the Nov. 6 race again fell in the Eliminator Round of the postseason, a three-race stretch that again included Martinsville and Phoenix, according to the track. Pocono Raceway officials said upon its schedule release that the NASCAR XFINITY Series would host a race June 4 at the Tricky Triangle. It would be the first XFINITY Series race ever at the venue.
RELATED: Hurricane-like weather has hampered NASCAR before With area weather impacted by Hurricane Joaquin, here's the latest on this weekend's NASCAR schedule at Dover International Speedway : • Saturday's XFINITY Series and K&N Pro Series East practices have been canceled. Two Sprint Cup practices remain on the schedule, although their times have been altered. Rain cut the final practice session for the Sprint Cup Series short. The K&N Pro Series East race will now be run at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here for the tentative weekend schedul e. • All on-track activity scheduled for Friday has been canceled. • Dover has canceled Thursday's NASCAR Showcase & Hauler Parade, which was scheduled for 3 p.m. ET. The track and NASCAR will continue to monitor the weather throughout the weekend. Dover officials will provide updates on the track's website and also on the track's Facebook page. This page will be updated throughout the weekend.
RELATED: See all 43 cars " Starting lineup RICHMOND, Va. – Prodigious qualifier "Front Row Joe" Nemechek has an heir apparent. Call him "Front Row Joey" – as in Logano. The driver of the No, 22 Team Penske Ford won his fifth Coors Light Pole Award of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and his second straight at Richmond International Raceway , edging Matt Kenseth for the top starting spot in Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). In the third and final round of Friday's knockout time trials at the .75-mile short track, Logano covered the distance in 21.349 seconds (126.470 mph) to earn the 13th pole of his career and his 10th front-row starting spot in 26 races this season. Kenseth, who led each of the first two sessions but fell just short in the money round, toured RIR in 21.368 seconds (126.357 mph), claiming his spot on the outside of the front row by a mere .001 seconds over Logano's teammate, Brad Keselowski (126.351 mph). Kyle Busch (125.950 mph) qualified fourth, followed by David Ragan (125.827 mph), the fastest of a gaggle of drivers who can earn a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup only by winning Saturday night's final regular-season race. "It's nice to have a good starting spot here," Logano said. "If you're up front you can take care of your tires better through the first part of the race. That should help us, with the first pit stall, and we'll go let it rip." Kenseth was disappointed at not being able to sweep all three rounds, a failing he attributed to missing his mark in Turns 1 and 2 on the decisive lap. "I didn't get 1 and 2 right," Kenseth acknowledged. "I got a little too aggressive getting back to the gas, and that messed up my center and my exit, and I knew I left all the time there and we weren't really set up to run a fast second lap. "That was kind of it. I feel bad I kind of messed that up, but hopefully we'll have a fast car (on Saturday) night, and we can keep it up front.” Kevin Harvick , Carl Edwards , Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson — all race winners this season — qualified sixth through ninth, respectively. Three other drivers who must win to make the Chase — Tony Stewart , Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon — will start 10th through 12th. "Richmond’s been a difficult track for me in the past," Larson said. 'We've always just been kind of average here. But I feel like our car is way better than it has been in the past. We came here and tested a couple times this year, I think, for Goodyear tire tests, and the last one I thought we got a lot better — both myself and the cars. "So I think we’ll be OK in the race. It's just tough to get to that next step of leading laps and winning races." Timmy Hill and Josh Wise failed to make the 43-car field.
Check out the lineup of NASCAR programming for the week
Check out the lineup of NASCAR programming for the week
See the lineup of NASCAR programming for the week