Sights and Sounds from The NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Watch as Kyle Busch and Martin Truex battle each other and the field for the victory deep in the heart of Texas.
Martin Truex Jr. and others comment on a tough race on and off the track in Texas.
Three-time Sprint Cup champion has missed past three races MORE: NASCAR statement on Tony Stewart's return RELATED: Full coverage of Tony Stewart incident Tony Stewart will return this weekend in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and make his first Sprint Cup start since Pocono Raceway on Aug. 3. Stewart will speak to the media at 1 p.m. ET at the infield media center at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He will be joined by Stewart-Haas Racing Executive Vice President Brett Frood. That availability will be streamed live on NASCAR.com . In a statement, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said: "Tony Stewart has received all necessary clearances required to return to all racing activities, and therefore is eligible to compete this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. NASCAR has remained in constant contact with his race team, and we will stay very close to this situation as Stewart returns to competition." NASCAR President Mike Helton will participate in a media availability in the Atlanta Motor Speedway media center on Friday at 2 p.m. ET. NASCAR will have no further comment until that time. That availability will be streamed live on NASCAR.com . Stewart was involved 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. Stewart has not raced in the past three Sprint Cup events. Jeff Burton filled in at Bristol and at Michigan, guiding the No. 14 team to finishes of 15th and 37th at each track, respectively. At Watkins Glen, NASCAR Nationwide Series regular Regan Smith piloted the No. 14 Chevrolet to a 37th-place finish. Stewart was on the initial entry list for Atlanta that was released Monday. Stewart-Haas Racing officials said at Michigan on Aug. 15 that there was no timetable for Stewart's return to NASCAR racing and that the decision would be the driver's call to make. 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. It is not known if Stewart would receive a waiver. Stewart currently has 537 points while 30th-place David Gilliland has 376. Stewart is returning to a track where he has fared well in his career. In 26 starts, he has three wins, 10 top-five finishes, 15 top-10 finishes and a pole. In the past nine years, he also has the third-highest driver rating at the track (100.2). The Oral-B USA 500 is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 31, at 7:30 p.m. ET, with coverage on ESPN. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See where your favorite driver will pit in the Oral-B USA 500 (Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
'This is something that will definitely affect my life forever' RELATED: Full coverage of the Tony Stewart incident For the first time since his involvement in the sprint car accident that claimed the life of Kevin Ward Jr., Tony Stewart spoke publicly before his return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway . "This has been one of the toughest tragedies I've ever had to deal with both professionally and personally," Stewart said in reading a prepared statement. "This is something that will definitely affect my life forever. This is a sadness and a pain I hope no one ever has to experience in their life. … But I know the pain and mourning Kevin Ward's friends and family are experiencing is something I can't even imagine. " ... I want to thank all my friends and family for their support." Stewart, who was set to practice for Sunday's Oral-B USA 500 (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), was at the track preparing to compete for the first time since the fatal incident on Saturday night, Aug. 9 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York. Since then, Stewart-Haas Racing has used replacements Regan Smith and Jeff Burton to drive the No. 14 Chevrolet, finishing 37th at Watkins Glen with Smith behind the wheel and 37th at Michigan and 15th at Bristol with Burton. On Thursday, SHR announced that Stewart would end his three-week hiatus and return to action at Atlanta. NASCAR released the following statement from Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell regarding Stewart's announced return: "Tony Stewart has received all necessary clearances required to return to all racing activities, and therefore is eligible to compete this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. NASCAR has remained in constant contact with his race team, and we will stay very close to this situation as Stewart returns to competition." NASCAR President Mike Helton is scheduled to participate in media availabilities at 2 p.m. ET on Friday at Atlanta, a session that can be seen live on NASCAR.com . MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Four spots in the Chase Grid remain heading into the 25th race of the season RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today All 12 race winners in 2014 have clinched a spot in the top 30 in driver points and a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, provided they attempt to qualify for the final two races of the regular season. Those drivers, in current Chase Grid order, include: Jeff Gordon , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Brad Keselowski , Joey Logano , Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Harvick , Carl Edwards , Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin , AJ Allmendinger , Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola . If a winless driver is victorious this weekend, and is 49 or more points ahead of 31st place, he or she will also clinch a spot. If there is a repeat winner, the top 3 winless drivers would clinch if they are at least 45 points ahead of the fourth highest winless driver after the Oral-B USA 500 (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC). Matt Kenseth , Ryan Newman , Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle are in the provisional grid for now and on the bubble. The first four on the outside looking in include: Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne , Austin Dillon and Paul Menard . Kahne is a two-time winner at Atlanta (2006, '09). Kenseth controls his destiny if he scores 32 points AND there's a repeat winner. If there's a new winner, he's guaranteed a clinch with 37 points. See the full rundown below. 2014 Chase Grid Outlook Pos. Drivers Wins Points Chase Bonus Pts 1 Jeff Gordon 3 845 9 2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 3 818 9 3 Brad Keselowski 3 776 9 4 Joey Logano 3 761 9 5 Jimmie Johnson 3 726 9 6 Kevin Harvick 2 721 6 7 Carl Edwards 2 716 6 8 Kyle Busch 1 629 3 9 Denny Hamlin 1 594 3 10 AJ Allmendinger 1 586 3 11 Kurt Busch 1 582 3 12 Aric Almirola 1 559 3 13 Matt Kenseth 0 751 0 14 Ryan Newman 0 710 0 15 Clint Bowyer 0 699 0 16 Greg Biffle 0 694 0 Outside Looking In 17 Kyle Larson 0 668 0 18 Kasey Kahne 0 661 0 19 Austin Dillon 0 654 0 20 Paul Menard 0 649 0 21 Jamie McMurray 0 634 0 22 Marcos Ambrose 0 626 0 23 Brian Vickers 0 621 0 24 Casey Mears 0 561 0 25 Martin Truex Jr. 0 540 0 26 Tony Stewart 0 537 0 27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 0 514 0 28 Danica Patrick 0 462 0 29 Justin Allgaier 0 425 0 30 David Gilliland 0 376 0 Green = Locked into the Chase, provided they attempt to qualify for the remaining four races Orange = No wins, Inside the current Chase Grid's top 16 - Currently in the Chase, not locked in Red = Inside the current top 30 in points, outside of the Chase cutoff MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Patrick optimistic, believes team can string together top-15s MORE: Danica pours out her purse for Us Weekly RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today For one of NASCAR's highest-profile drivers who is much more accustomed to making headlines and shining in the spotlight, Danica Patrick 's sophomore year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been relatively quiet and workmanlike. At times encouraging, at times frustrating. Consistently inconsistent. Yet Patrick remains enthusiastic and optimistic -- partly because her Stewart-Haas Racing team has proven to be among the best in the garage and partly because she is absolutely certain her stock car education has greatly advanced. Even if the scoring pylon doesn't always reflect the effort. "In general we've been running so much better, qualifying better, running better and just generally being much faster than last year … and I'd say in general, not having the results to show for it,'' Patrick said. "I feel like it's been a much better year, but in terms of getting the most points as possible, we haven't really done that. "We've had a lot of mechanical issues and it seems to happen when we're running well. There've been mistakes, whether it be while running on track or making calls or sometimes the pit stops are slow. I think if we can fire on all cylinders and not make mistakes and have clean weekends, I feel like we're a real solid top-15 car." Patrick spoke to NASCAR.com between practice sessions at Watkins Glen International , a day that started out with a blown engine in the opening practice and would culminate with a crash during the afternoon session due to a mechanical issue (shock failure) -- an extreme example of the rough luck her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet has suffered this year. But at 32, Patrick is experienced enough to know the hard knocks are inevitable, if tough to swallow -- especially when you are under the microscope as she so often is. Her transition to stock cars from IndyCar has naturally come with great interest and great scrutiny. But this is a no-excuses, highly driven racer who nearly won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie in 2005, and earned worldwide accolades again in NASCAR when she won the Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Award as a rookie in 2013 -- the first woman in the sport's history to do so. Patrick, however, is not the kind of person to rest on past accomplishment and has methodically worked toward a realistic set of goals: top-20s as a rookie, top-15s this season. But the patient approach aside, Patrick is at heart a competitor and says it's "go time." "I think you get more frustrated for sure, because you're waiting for it to turn and if it hasn't, you're getting frustrated that things aren't going your way," Patrick said. "But the positive side is that the hope is there and the speed is there when everything meets in the middle. "I think the team (has) … great drivers, so more help. I feel like I'm learning for that reason. It doesn't feel like I'm treated any different from the outside, but I really always thought people were relatively fair from the beginning anyway. Yes, people are watching a lot and everybody has opinions for sure, but I expect that I suppose." And Patrick has given them reason to believe in her. She led laps at both Daytona and Talladega. And with a third of the season still to go, Patrick has two top-10s -- twice that of last year. Her eighth-place finish in July's Coke Zero 400 equaled her career best finish at Daytona International Speedway. Her seventh-place at Kansas in May is what she considers her best race weekend from roll-out to load-up. "I think the cars themselves have been just better when they arrive at the track from beginning of the year but especially since the middle of the year,'' Patrick explained. "That's what happened at Kansas, that was the first full new car we got and I finished seventh and we had great night, great weekend. That was the start of those better cars and we've been running and qualifying much better since then. "From the end of last year, we learned that working more methodically through the weekend versus making huge and many changes throughout the practices has also helped us make what we have the best it can be. "That's a challenge in and of itself. I don't think you're going to move mountains with a spring change, so what you've got to do is maximize what you've got … it's more about just optimizing the car itself." Outside the car, Patrick says she couldn't be happier. That's evident to her NASCAR-best million-plus Twitter followers who regularly see photos of her life with boyfriend -- fellow Sprint Cup driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -- and their puppy, Dallas. She won the Food Network reality competition show "Chopped" one year ago and earned USA Today's "Best Dressed" award as a presenter at the recent ESPY Awards. Beyond that, Patrick says she is also still committed to working on her fledging golf game, something introduced to her by Stenhouse. "I feel like golf might be a little bit like racing where you spend a lot of the time mad and frustrated and say, 'I love it, let's do it again,'" Patrick said with a laugh. "I'd like to see the results come through for the speed of the car and for me. It would be nice to qualify well and run well, to have good pit stops, good restarts and just a solid string of top-15 finishes. "And I believe we can." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Edwards tops Sprint Cup session, C. Buescher and Kenseth pace NNS practices RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice 1 " Results Carl Edwards topped the opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Edwards posted a speed of 192.855 mph on his first lap at the Georgia track. The Roush Fenway Racing driver has earned three wins at the track, the most recent coming in 2008. Ryan Newman had the second-fastest speed at 191.628 mph. Marcos Ambrose (191.417 mph), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (191.199 mph) and rookie Kyle Larson (191.113 mph) rounded out the top five on the leaderboard. Defending race champion Kyle Busch circled the track at a top speed of 186.297 mph putting him at 31st on the speed chart. Tony Stewart , who returned to his No. 14 Chevrolet for the first time since the tragic sprint car accident that claimed the life of Kevin Ward Jr., posted a speed of 189.642 mph for 10th place. Stewart hasn't run at Atlanta since 2012 due to missing last year's race with a broken leg. There will be two more practice sessions for the Sprint Cup Series on Saturday. A 50-minute session will start at 3 p.m. ET and final practice will also run 50 minutes and begin at 6 p.m. ET. Both sessions will be televised on FOX Sports 2. NASCAR Nationwide Series practice 1 " Results Chris Buescher set the pace in opening practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway . The Roush Fenway Racing driver posted a top speed of 177.880 mph on his first lap of the first session. Buescher finished 13th last year in his only start at Atlanta. Buescher earned his first Nationwide Series win earlier this season at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course . Coming in second-fastest was Sprint Cup Series veteran Matt Kenseth at 177.357 mph. Rookie Ty Dillon , (176.313 mph), Sprint Cup regular Kyle Busch (175.927 mph) and Joey Logano (175.743 mph) completed the top five on the leaderboard. Defending race champion and Sprint Cup Series veteran Kevin Harvick came in as eighth-fastest, as he rounded the track at 175.354 mph. The practice had one caution flag in the closing minutes for debris in Turn 4. NASCAR Nationwide Series practice 2 " Results Matt Kenseth closed out Friday's Nationwide Series practices for Saturday's Great Clips 300 benefitting Feed the Children with the fastest lap of 177.738 mph. The Sprint Cup Series veteran was second-fastest in the opening practice earlier in the day. Ty Dillon came in as second-fastest at 176.201 mph. Dillon will make his Sprint Cup Series debut on Sunday at Atlanta for the Oral-B USA 500 . Completing the top five on the leaderboard was Joey Logano (176.173 mph), Nationwide Series points leader and rookie Chase Elliott (175.755 mph) and Chris Buescher, who led opening practice (175.171 mph). There was just one caution that came at the start of practice for debris in Turn 4. The Nationwide Series returns to the track on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. ET for the Coors Light Pole Qualifying with TV coverage on FOX Sports 2. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule