A discontented Kyle Busch and others comment on their finishes at Nashville .
Dillon, Suarez both looking for first Iowa win RELATED: Practice 2 results After running fourth in Friday's first practice, Ty Dillon topped the leaderboard in the second practice with an impressive fastest lap of 133.012 mph in 23.682 seconds. The No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet completed a total of 67 laps for the session. NASCAR XFINITY Series veteran Brendan Gaughan was second on the leaderboard for Friday's final practice session with his No. 62 Chevrolet coming in hot with a fastest lap of 132.704 mph in 23.737 seconds. T.J. Bell rounded out the top three with a lap of 131.871 mph (23.887 seconds). This weekend will mark the first time Bell has lined up for a NASCAR XFINITY Series race since 2012's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. Next on the leaderboard was Drew Herring in his No. 6 Ford. Herring had a fastest lap of 131.519 mph (23.951). This will be his first NASCAR XFINITY appearance since 2013's Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. And completing the top five for this session was Brian Scott in his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet with a lap of 131.403 mph. Daniel Suarez , who topped the first practice, finished ninth in the Friday night's practice (131.026 mph). The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing driver will be on the lookout for his fourth consecutive top-five finish this weekend at Iowa Speedway. Kenny Wallace , who will be competing in his last race in the series this weekend at Iowa, finished 15th. Wallace is looking for his 10th career win at Saturday's U.S. Cellular Presented by New Holland (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SiriusXM). NXS action continues Saturday with the Coors Light Pole Qualifying at 4:45 p.m. ET. RELATED: Practice 1 results Daniel Suarez topped the leaderboard in the NASCAR XFINITY Series opening practice on Friday at Iowa Speedway. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota posted a fastest lap of 133.367 mph. Next was fellow rookie Brandon Jones in his No. 33 Chevrolet with a fastest lap of 131.965 mph. Saturday's U.S. Cellular 250 Presented by New Holland marks Jones' second start in the XFINITY Series. His first race was at Iowa’s May race, the 3M 250 , where he finished eighth. Rounding out the first session's top three was Ben Rhodes . Rhodes had a fastest lap of 131.744 mph. Ty Dillon (131.546 mph) and Darrell Wallace Jr . (131.486 mph) came in fourth and fifth, respectively. XFINITY Series points leader, Chris Buescher finished practice in the seventh spot, posting a fastest lap of 130.332 mph. Johanna Long , finished 30th in the first session. This is Long's first 2015 appearance as she hasn't raced since 2013's Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. On-track action continues at 7 p.m. ET with the NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice on NBCSN. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Organizations have combined to win last four Cup races at New Hampshire LOUDON, N.H. -- The past two weeks, we've seen a Joe Gibbs Racing -- in both cases, Kyle Busch -- and Team Penske one-two finish. Both organizations manhandled New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend across the Sprint Cup Series and XFINITY Series with a JGR sweep of both Coors Light Pole Awards and victories in the Lakes Region 200 and 5-hour ENERGY 301 , so are we set for a battle for the ages between the six drivers when the sport returns north in September during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ? If July 18 and 19 were any indication, yes. Between the two races, JGR and Penske cars led a whopping 414 of 501 laps with an average finishing position of 4.7 among the 10 cars entered ( Denny Hamlin , Brad Keselowski , Busch and Daniel Suarez in the XFINITY race; Hamlin, Busch, Matt Kenseth , Carl Edwards , Keselowski and Joey Logano in the Cup race). Needless to say, both teams know their way around the "Magic Mile." With every trophy since September 2013 residing in one of their shops, it's a near certainty that a JGR or Penske car will wind up in Sunoco Victory Lane after the Sylvania 300 (Sep. 27, 2 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, PRN, SiriusXM) -- and onto the Contender 12 round of the Chase. The six Cup drivers all have wins that practically put them in the Chase, although Busch has some work left to do to meet the top-30 in the point standings requirement. "I look at the cars that are in front of us," Joey Logano said on pit road after placing fourth. "Those are our competition. I look at the Gibbs cars. "Gibbs definitely got fast (overall) the last three or four weeks. They've got a lot of speed in their stuff and they figured something out on both sides; their XFINITY cars are super fast, too. They figured out something that's giving them a lot of speed." Penske and Gibbs cars have always seemed to run especially well at New Hampshire -- Brian Vickers ' 2013 win is the only thing standing between six straight victories, since Busch finished second in that one -- but it seems they've turned up the dial even further since last season. One of the most dominant performances the sport has seen the past few seasons came during the 2012 Chase when Hamlin "called his shot" a la Babe Ruth and tweeted that he would win at New Hampshire. He backed it up by leading 193 of 300 laps en route to victory. RELATED: Hamlin calls shot, takes New Hampshire Somehow, these teams look even stronger than that right now. "As of late, we've really put some good finishes together and had some strong runs with (crew chief) Darian Grubb coming over and helping on the 11 car," said Kyle Busch . "I feel like maybe that was a little bit of (why we're so good at New Hampshire.) "But Dave (Rogers, crew chief) also. We just kind of completely revamped what our thought process was for this place. When we did that, it seemed to really help us." This season's Chase is already shaping up to be something special. The oncoming battle between two of the sport's premier organizations less than 70 days from now guarantees it will be. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
A statistical look ahead to the 20th race of the Sprint Cup season DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 20, 2015) -- Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana going into Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard on July 26 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). INDIANAPOLIS-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 Lilly/American Diabetes Association Ford) · Three top fives, six top 10s · Average finish of 13.100, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 12.649, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 92.3, ninth-best · 60 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.968, eighth-fastest · 1062 Laps in the Top 15 (66.4), eighth-most · 217 Quality Passes, 10th-most Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota) · Two top fives, two top 10s · Average finish of 13.556, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 14.450, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 85.0, 11th-best · 12 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.683, 13th-fastest · 845 Laps in the Top 15 (58.7), 11th-most · 194 Quality Passes, 11th-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 SKITTLES Toyota) · Three top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 10.600, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 12.311, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 98.5, sixth-best · 64 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.317, sixth-fastest · 1178 Laps in the Top 15 (73.6), sixth-most · 297 Quality Passes, fourth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 STANLEY Toyota) · One top five, three top 10s · Average finish of 13.400, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 16.619, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 83.9, 13th-best · 44 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.725, 12th-fastest · 819 Laps in the Top 15 (51.2), 12th-most · 263 Quality Passes, sixth-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 3M Chevrolet) · Five wins, 12 top fives, 17 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 7.900, third-best · Average Running Position of 10.869, second-best · Driver Rating of 105.6, second-best · 157 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.820, series-fastest · 1252 Laps in the Top 15 (78.3), second-most · 315 Quality Passes, second-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) · Two top fives, four top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.333, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 15.540, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 90.6, 10th-best · 54 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.251, seventh-fastest · 851 Laps in the Top 15 (59.1), 10th-most · 227 Quality Passes, ninth-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/ Budweiser Chevrolet) · One win, four top fives, eight top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 12.500, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 13.532, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 92.7, eighth-best · 34 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.740, 11th-fastest · 1057 Laps in the Top 15 (66.1), ninth-most · 254 Quality Passes, seventh-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 KOBALT TOOLS Chevrolet) · Four wins, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.800, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 10.911, third-best · Driver Rating of 108.1, series-best · 173 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.814, second-fastest · 1192 Laps in the Top 15 (74.5), fifth-most · 248 Quality Passes, eighth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Chevrolet) · Three top fives, six top 10s · Average finish of 14.400, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 11.911, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 100.1, fifth-best · 102 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.415, fifth-fastest · 1237 Laps in the Top 15 (77.3), fourth-most · 299 Quality Passes, third-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Seven top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 12.600, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 12.194, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 96.6, seventh-best · 18 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.948, ninth-fastest · 1238 Laps in the Top 15 (77.4), third-most · 282 Quality Passes, fifth-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · Two top 10s · Average finish of 14.000, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 16.489, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 84.2, 12th-best · 30 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.882, 10th-fastest · 371 Laps in the Top 15 (46.4), 13th-most · 104 Quality Passes, 12th-most Kyle Larson (No. 42 Target Chevrolet) · One top 10 · Average finish of 7.000, series-best · Average Running Position of 9.212, series-best · Driver Rating of 104.4, third-best · 2 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.538, third-fastest · 148 Laps in the Top 15 (92.5), series-most · 36 Quality Passes, 13th-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1 / Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) · Two wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 7.800, second-best · Average Running Position of 11.608, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 101.9, fourth-best · 98 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.478, fourth-fastest · 1095 Laps in the Top 15 (68.4), seventh-most · 319 Quality Passes, series-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 14 2 1 4 8 0 10.7 92.7 2 Joey Logano 6 0 0 1 3 0 15.3 83.8 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr 15 0 0 1 5 3 18.6 82.5 4 Jimmie Johnson 13 1 4 5 6 3 15.5 108.1 5 Martin Truex Jr 10 0 0 0 1 1 20.8 73.2 6 Brad Keselowski 5 0 0 0 2 0 14 84.2 7 Matt Kenseth 15 0 0 7 9 2 14.3 96.6 8 Kurt Busch 14 0 0 1 4 2 20 73.9 9 Jamie McMurray 12 0 1 3 5 0 14.6 78.8 10 Jeff Gordon 21 3 5 12 17 1 8.4 105.6 11 Denny Hamlin 9 1 0 2 4 0 15.3 90.6 12 Kasey Kahne 11 0 0 3 6 2 13.5 100.1 13 Ryan Newman 14 1 1 2 3 2 17.2 79.6 14 Paul Menard 8 0 1 1 1 0 20.6 65.3 15 Aric Almirola 3 0 0 0 0 0 19 70.8 16 Clint Bowyer 9 0 0 2 2 0 13.6 85.0 * – Based on last 10 races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2005 – 2014). Indianapolis Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 20 of 36 (07-26-15) Track Size : 2.5-miles Banking/Turns 1 & 2 : 9 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4 : 9 degrees Banking/Straights : 0 degrees Frontstretch Length : 3,330 feet Backstretch Length : 3, 300 feet Race Length : 160 laps / 400 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Indianapolis Jimmie Johnson ........................ 108.1 Jeff Gordon .............................. 105.6 Kyle Larson ............................... 104.4 Tony Stewart ............................. 101.9 Kasey Kahne ............................. 100.1 Kyle Busch ................................. 98.5 Matt Kenseth .............................. 96.6 Kevin Harvick .............................. 92.7 Greg Biffle .................................. 92.3 Denny Hamlin ............................. 90.6 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (10 total) among active drivers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Kevin Harvick , Chevrolet 188.470 mph, 47.753 secs. 07-25-14 2014 race winner : Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 150.297 mph, (02:39:41), 07-27-14 Track qualifying record: Kevin Harvick , Chevrolet 188.889 mph, 47.647 secs. 07-25-14 (Set in Round 1 of 3) Track race record: Bobby Labonte , Pontiac 155.912 mph, (02:33:56), 08-05-00 At Indianapolis Motor Speedway: History · Indianapolis Motor Speedway has existed since 1909, and is the original "Speedway," the first racing facility to incorporate the word into its name. · With a permanent seating capacity for more than 250,000-plus people and infield seating that raises capacity to an approximate 400,000, it is the largest and highest-capacity sporting facility in history. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was August 6, 1994 – won by Jeff Gordon . Starts · There have been 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; one per year from 1994 through 2012. · 138 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; 107 in more than one. · Two drivers have competed in all 21 races at Indianapolis: Jeff Gordon and Bobby Labonte . Poles · Rick Mast won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Indianapolis in 1994 with a speed of 172.414 mph. · 17 drivers have Coors Light poles at Indianapolis, led by Jeff Gordon with three. · Two drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Indianapolis: Jeff Gordon (1995-96) and Ernie Irvan (1997-98). · Youngest Indianapolis Coors Light pole winner: Reed Sorenson (07/29/2007 – 21 years, 5 months, 24 days). · Oldest Indianapolis Coors Light pole winner: Mark Martin (07/26/2009 – 50 years, 6 months, 17 days). · Reed Sorenson (07/29/07) is the only active driver to post his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Wins · 12 different drivers have won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, led by Jeff Gordon with five; followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson , with four. · Jimmie Johnson is the only driver to have posted consecutive wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2008 and 2009). · Youngest Indianapolis winner: Jeff Gordon (08/06/1994 – 23 years, 0 months, 2 days). · Oldest Indianapolis winner: Bill Elliott (08/04/2002 – 46 years, 9 months, 27 days). · Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Indianapolis in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with nine; followed by Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing with three each. · Four different manufacturers have won at Indianapolis; led by Chevrolet with 16 victories; followed by Ford (three), Dodge and Pontiac each have one. · Chevrolet has won the last 12 consecutive NSCS races at Indianapolis – the longest active win streak by a manufacturer in the NSCS at a single track. · Only three of the 21 (14.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis have been won from the Coors Light pole: Kevin Harvick (2003), Jimmie Johnson (2008) and Ryan Newman (2013). · The pole and the third-place starting positions are the most proficient starting positions in the field, each producing three winners - more than any other starting positions at Indianapolis. · Five of the 21 (23.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis have been won from the front row: three from the pole and two from second-place. · 13 of the 21 (65%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Three of the 21 (14.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Indianapolis is 27th, by Jeff Gordon in 2001. · Six of the seven active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Jeff Gordon won the Brickyard 400 in his first start at Indianapolis. · Ryan Newman competed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway 12 times before winning in 2013; the longest span of any the seven active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Matt Kenseth lead the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Indianapolis without visiting Victory Lane at 15 each. · Paul Menard (07/31/11) is the only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver to have posted his first career NSCS win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Additional Finishing Positions · NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace leads the series in runner-up finishes at Indianapolis with three; followed by Kyle Busch , Bobby Labonte , Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth with two each. · Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at Indianapolis with 12; followed by Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth with seven each. · Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-10 finishes at Indianapolis with 17; followed by Tony Stewart and Mark Martin with 11 each. · Ryan Newman leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Indianapolis with a 7.143. · Jeff Gordon leads NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Indianapolis with a 8.381. Track Specific Stats · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the August 3, 1997 race won by Ricky Rudd over Bobby Labonte with a MOV of 0.183 second. · Four out of the last five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races have had a MOV larger than one second. · Only one of the 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races have resulted with a green-white-checkered finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): 2004 (160/161). · None of the 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions. · Qualifying has not been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Indianapolis with 528 laps led in 21 starts. Female Competitor Stats · Danica Patrick became the first female driver to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2013. · Shawn
RCR driver scores fourth career XFINITY Series win RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings " Learn more about Dash 4 Cash CONCORD, N.C. – For the second straight Saturday, Denny Hamlin had the chance to hold off a race's strongest car for the victory. Unlike last Saturday's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, however, there were too many laps left after the final restart in Saturday's Hisense 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series, and polesitter Austin Dillon powered past Hamlin on Lap 186 of 200 to finish the race where he belonged—at the front of the field. By the time he crossed the finish line, Dillon was 2.692 seconds ahead of Hamlin, who had taken the lead during a restart on Lap 167 that saw Dillon fall back to fourth from the inside lane by the time the leaders exited Turn 2. One by one, Dillon picked off Regan Smith , Kahne and Hamlin on the way to his second XFINITY Series victory of the season, his first at Charlotte and the fourth of his career. Kahne ran third behind Dillon and Hamlin, followed by Smith and rookies Darrell Wallace Jr . and Daniel Suarez . Ty Dillon came home seventh and trimmed the series lead of 11th-place finisher Chris Buescher to four points. Dillon led 163 laps and held an advantage of more than six seconds during a 54-lap green-flag run that preceded the second caution of the race on Lap 110. How good was Dillon's No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet? "I didn't want to get out of this thing," Dillon said in Victory Lane. "This thing drove so good. It was a heck of a race there with Denny at the end and Kasey (Kahne). I had to go right there in lapped traffic (to make the winning pass). "I knew if I didn't hurry up and get in front of him right there, the tires might equalize (in terms of grip)." But when Dillon picked the inside lane for what proved to be the final restart—after a caution for Kyle Fowler 's wreck in Turn 1—Hamlin seized what he considered a fortuitous opportunity and surged into the lead. "I thought when the 33 gave us the outside, that was a big advantage for us if we could stay with him through Turns 1 and 2," said Hamlin, who last Saturday held off Kevin Harvick in the final 10-lap shootout to win the Sprint All-Star Race. "We (did), and it allowed us to get position on him and even get him shuffled a few spots. "That was all good, but his car was just so fast he just overcame that track position." Hamlin lost the lead when the lapped car of Peyton Sellers stayed low and forced Hamlin's No. 54 Toyota to pass on the outside. "I needed to stay on the bottom," Hamlin said. "My car was best on the bottom. His car was pinned to the bottom as well. So I needed all of the lapped cars to move up high, and all of them did, except for the 97 (Sellers). He gave us the high line. That just killed us and killed our chances from that point, once the 33 got to our inside." Dillon chose the inside line because his car had worked well on the bottom for the entire race to that point. "My spotter (Andy Houston) made the fact that we should have probably taken the top, and I had been on the bottom all day, so I chose the bottom again," Dillon said. "I just didn't want to let these guys down (his crew). The Rheem car was so fast... "I thought about it, and I probably should have used the top, just because I would have had the run down the backstretch. It seems that, as the race goes on, that the outside can stop spinning the tires, and the rubber lays down... "Andy made the point, and it all worked out, but I'll definitely learn from that, for sure." Smith, Wallace, Suarez and Ty Dillon qualified for next week's XFINITY Dash 4 Cash competition at Dover as the top four finishers among series regulars. Those drivers will compete for $100,000 in next Saturday's race at Dover, with the top finisher among them claiming the prize. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
The top finishers of Saturday's Winn-Dixie 300 describe the intense final laps in what was a wild finish at Talladega Superspeedway.
Baker announced on Tuesday he has inoperable lung cancer It’s difficult to write something personal about someone you’ve really only known professionally. And that’s the case with Buddy Baker. I’ve known Buddy for years but truthfully I don’t "know" him. And the fault in that, if there is any, is mine. Record books and media guides and the Internet can provide you with the following, that Baker won 19 times in NASCAR’s premier series and a slew of poles (38) in a career that ran the better part of three decades. You don’t need to know the man to know that he was a success on the race track. You don’t need to know the man to know that he was equally successful in the television booth, where he ventured when his driving career had ended and The Nashville Network (TNN) as well as CBS came calling. Baker was folksy, he was genuine and he was a perfect fit. Those same qualities helped him launch yet another career, this time on radio. Since ’07, he’s been heard on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, most recently as co-host of the program "Late Shift." Those broadcast efforts gave folks a glimpse into Buddy Baker. Fans who came to know Buddy through his TV and radio work probably feel as if they do know Buddy and they’re not entirely incorrect. All of this comes to mind because on Tuesday evening he told listeners that he was stepping away from the microphone for health reasons. Baker has inoperable lung cancer. I remember bits and pieces from the late ‘60s when Buddy’s run with Ray Fox was coming to an end and a new one with Cotton Owens was beginning. I remember the stops with Petty Enterprises, the K&K No. 71 Dodge and the No. 15 of Bud Moore, too. And all that took place before he hooked up with car owner Harry Ranier and engine builder Waddell Wilson and finally won the Daytona 500 after 18 years of trying. He was "Leadfoot" and the "Gentle Giant" but until he finally pulled into the winner’s circle at Daytona, he’d also been "Bad Luck Buddy" due to the number of occasions when he won, as he often recalled "the Daytona 450" or some other number that always fell just short of the race’s 500-mile mark. It was probably 1985 and Bull Frog Knits. That might have been the first time I met Buddy and he was every bit as big as we’d always been led to believe. At six-foot six, Buddy didn’t climb out of a race car. He came out in a collection of elbows and knees. He and partner Danny Schiff had teamed up to field a green and white No. 88 Oldsmobile and for the next five years Baker made less than 100 starts. The results were mixed. It was a particularly bad wreck at Charlotte that sidelined Baker, and in August of ’88 he underwent surgery to have a blood clot removed from his brain. He not only recovered, but he raced again and in '92 made what would be his final start in NASCAR’s premier series. Highlights? He won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway three times with three different teams. He won the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. He won at Talladega on four occasions. He won at Atlanta and Texas World Speedway and Nashville and Ontario, Calif. And in 1980, he won the Daytona 500 . His victories came with seven different organizations; more than half the owners for whom he drove are already enshrined in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He won before radial tires, power steering and engineers. "We never had luxury of car that would turn in the corner, we had to make it turn … trial and error mostly," he once said. "We had to do that at the race track; we didn’t have the engineers and things like that." Add "driver coach" to the list of items on Baker’s resume. It’s an often-overlooked part of his career. When team owner Roger Penske wanted someone to help a young Ryan Newman as he began to work his way into NASCAR, Penske turned to Baker. When Brendan Gaughan was giving Sprint Cup a try in '04, Baker got the call. Baker proved to be an excellent coach; he didn’t get too excited when working with youngsters. In '04, Gaughan was making his first Sprint Cup start at Darlington. He hit the wall, by his own admission, roughly a dozen times. Finally Baker came on the radio to provide a bit of advice. "After I’d hit the wall like the 12th time," Gaughan said, "… Buddy came over the radio and said, 'Hey man, why don’t you give that wall a rest for a few laps?'" "Do not shed a tear. Give a smile when you say my name," he told listeners Tuesday evening. The smiles will continue to come easy. Baker often left listeners grinning, whether in person or across the miles and miles of airwaves. You don’t need to know Buddy Baker to understand he had a lasting impact on the sport. Here’s hoping we haven’t heard the last of him. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Sam Bass recounts Kyle Busch smashing a $25,000 Gibson Guitar he painted for Nashville Superspeedway in 2009.
No. 22 driver holds off Erik Jones and Kyle Busch RELATED: Complete Kentucky race results " Updated series standings SPARTA, Ky. -- Brad Keselowski said before Friday night's Kentucky 300 that he thought the Crosley jukebox trophy was 'cool' and he wanted one. He got it. A late two-tire call put Keselowski in front for a restart on Lap 170, and though the No. 22 Team Penske Ford ceded the lead to Jones for 22 circuits, Keselowski regained the top spot with a daring move to the inside through traffic entering the tri-oval on Lap 92 and held on to win by less than a quarter-second. The victory was Keselowski’s third at Kentucky and the 33rd of his career. Behind Keselowski, Jones and Busch, Daniel Suarez ran fourth, followed by Elliott Sadler and Paul Menard . Over the final run, Jones injected himself into what had been a two-way battle between Keselowski and Busch for the majority of the race. Keselowski made the winning move after Jones’ progress was impeded by a lapped car in Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 92. "I just caught a little break, to be honest," Keselowski said. “One of the lapped cars locked in Erik. He had done a heck of job and still was doing a heck of a job, and sometimes things don’t go your way. "I kind of thought it might happen and went into the corner high, just ready for something to happen, and it did, and I was able to make the most of it coming off Turn 4 and make the pass for the lead. "This team, the 22 team since it started in 2010, has been really a dream ride and an honor for me to be a part of it." Jones got the lead on the final restart when Busch shoved Keselowski and caused the No. 22 Ford to spin its tires. "I wish I would have known the lapped car was going to the bottom and he would have went to the top," Jones said. “Getting the lead on the restart, we had a shot at it at that point. It was good enough to maintain, and it’s a bummer it didn’t work out. "But it’s nice to be running with those guys, with Kyle and Brad, and to be mixing it up with 'em. We’ll keep building and see what we can do next time." At the outset, it didn’t take Busch long to move up from his sixth starting position to the lead. On Lap 16, the No. 54 Toyota shot past Ty Dillon through Turns 1 and 2 and took over the top spot for the first time in the race. With the exception of the restart lap after a competition caution on Lap 2 -- with Paul Menard surging ahead by a nose at the stripe to lead Lap 3 -- Busch stayed firmly in control of the proceedings until a caution for Ryan Sieg ’s spin in Turn 4 on Lap 71 slowed the field for the third time. After pit stops under yellow, Keselowski wrestled the lead from Busch on Lap 79, moments before the No. 13 of Derek White clobbered the outside wall between Turns 3 and 4 to cause the fourth caution. Undeterred by the yellow, Keselowski sped away after the subsequent restart on Lap 85 as Busch fell back to third behind Suarez. Busch, however, regained the second position on Lap 97 and narrowed his gap to the leader to a half-second before Keselowski pulled away to a 1.8-second advantage when Busch ran afoul of lapped traffic. But Busch grabbed the top spot from Keselowski during an exchange of green-flag pit stops on Laps 136 and 137, leaving Keselowski at a half-second disadvantage. With both drivers saving fuel in the event of a green-flag run to the finish, Busch opened a one-second edge and maintained it until John Wes Townley ’s brush with the wall on Lap 163 brought out the fifth caution. Busch and Keselowski led the top cars to pit road on Lap 165, with Busch opting for four tires and Keselowski, Jones and Suarez for right sides only. That left Keselowski in the lead and Busch in fourth for a restart on Lap 170. And on this night, two tires won the day, as Keselowski led Jones to the stripe by .241 seconds. Note: Eleventh-place finisher Chris Buescher extended his series lead to 36 points over Chase Elliott , who ran 13th, the first driver one lap down. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Rookie finishes fourth in Kentucky XFINITY, Truck Series races SPARTA, Ky. -- The progress thus far of NASCAR Next product Daniel Suarez has been an upward arc, one that nearly took a significant spike Friday night at Kentucky Speedway. Though his results in his first full season of NASCAR XFINITY Series competition for Joe Gibbs Racing have been marked by pockets of inconsistency, Suarez's part-time participation for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series has been a clean 7-for-7 sweep of top-10 finishes. Friday night, the 23-year-old Mexico native took another step toward leveling the XFINITY side. Fourth-place Suarez was the top-finishing XFINITY Series regular in Friday's Kentucky 300 , logging his second top-five effort this season in just his first race weekend at the 1.5-mile track. The finish came on the heels of another fourth-place finish in a KBM truck the night before in the Bluegrass State -- an indication, Suarez said, that dividing his time between both series is helping him improve. "I feel like just a different driver from a few months ago to right now, and I hope that that I'm a different driver three months from now," Suarez said with a laugh. "So I really think that is helping me a lot to race in both series and to have that double practice. It's helping me a lot to learn about the race track, the race car, the communication and everything. So far, it's working out pretty good." Suarez entered the season as a fresh face, but also as a fairly full-fledged rookie. Aside from running the majority of four seasons in the developmental NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Mexico Series, Suarez had just three NASCAR national series starts -- two in XFINITY , one in trucks. Accordingly, his 2015 schedule was front-loaded to help accelerate his growth. "The experience of all the stuff he learns on track, it's hard to teach all of it without just racing every week," said Eric Phillips, Suarez's crew chief in the XFINITY Series. "He's got good trucks to drive over there with KBM, he's doing a good job, and I think the more seat time we can get him, the better we'll be." Suarez's elation was heightened by the presence of a special family visitor; the driver said his mother was on hand at Kentucky, watching him race for the first time in the United States. What she saw was a steady, consistent night of racing from her son, who jumped into the top five in the running order after the first caution period and never left it. As much extra support as he received Friday night in Kentucky, Suarez said he's been riding a wave of backing from his JGR team ever since embarking on his Sunoco Rookie of the Year campaign. "They're a great organization, and the best thing is that they're an even better family," Suarez said. "Everybody is a very good group of people and everyone takes care of each other. I stay by myself, I have a real family and everything, but I really see them like my family and they have been supporting me in everything. Just really, really proud to be part of this organization." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule