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Hemric looks to overcome early Chase setback
RELATED: Truck Chase Grid Daniel Hemric clinched his spot in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase playoffs with remarkable consistency and a sizable nest egg of points. Now facing a significant deficit after a perilous postseason opener, stockpiling points may not be enough to keep his championship hopes intact. Hemric enters Saturday night's DC Solar 350 (8:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a much firmer focus on scoring his first victory of the season. "At the end of the day, this deal rewards winning," Hemric said last weekend after finishing a season-worst 28th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . "Yeah, we did it the other way to get here, but I don't know if with the day we had here, we'll be able to salvage it on just points. We've got to go win." The 25-year-old driver for Brad Keselowski Racing spun early in last Saturday's Chase opener, saying he believed he ran over a piece of debris that punctured his left-rear tire. The spent rubber became entangled in the brake assembly, triggering a small flash fire on pit road and eventually forcing his No. 19 Ford behind the wall for extended repairs. The deficit Hemric faces is even more daunting based on the fact that his fellow Chase competitors enjoyed relatively trouble-free days at New Hampshire. Aside from Hemric, the remaining seven Chasers all finished in the top 11. Two races -- this weekend at Vegas and Oct. 22 at Talladega Superspeedway -- remain before two of the eight drivers are eliminated from the playoff picture. Just 27 points separate New Hampshire winner and points leader William Byron and seventh-place Ben Kennedy , but Hemric sits another 20 points behind Kennedy and 21 points behind sixth-place Johnny Sauter . Hemric's regular-season run of reliability -- with top-fives in half of the 16 races -- had earned him a share of the top spot with Byron in the series standings before the points were reset for the postseason. The task of escaping the Chase's bottom two on the basis of points isn't mathematically impossible, but Hemric would rather convert an automatic transfer with a win. "I believe we can," said Hemric, who has come close with seven finishes in the top three this season. "Especially our mile and a half program's been really solid and we've shown that time and time again. That's it. We know what we have to do." While Hemric knows he has two opportunities to regain lost ground, there may extra urgency to find momentum at Las Vegas this weekend rather than roll the dice in the opening round's elimination race at Talladega, where large crashes and wild-card winners are much more probable. "That's the thought," Hemric said. "Nobody wants to go to Talladega knowing they've got to win when everybody has that mentality. The past has shown what happens. Now with the new format, we feel a lot more confident we can just go do our jobs at Vegas and not have to worry about it."
Superspeedway cars will get safety enhancements in Sprint Cup and XFINITY series
NASCAR will implement structural enhancements to vehicles competing in the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series next season for races at its two biggest facilities, Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway , in an effort to provide additional protection to its competitors. A rules bulletin to teams Thursday detailed the safety measures which affect the front firewall and foot box areas, rear roll cage area behind the driver as well as along the left side door area of the driver's compartment. Referred to as anti-intrusion panels, the thickness of the pieces has been increased for additional strength and to allow each to be welded more significantly, according to officials. The structural changes, part of NASCAR's on-going comprehensive safety initiative, strengthen the interior area of the car surrounding the driver. "We've been doing a very significant body of work over the last year and a half," Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development, said Thursday. "… We've done quite a bit of analysis, crash testing and we've come to the point now that we believe that the package is mature and we want to introduce it. The changes impact existing pieces already in use with one minor exception -- a new piece of material has been added behind the driver that extends from the existing anti-intrusion plating on the door bars into the rear sub frame. The changes are not expected to adversely affect the weight of the vehicle or change center of gravity, impacting balance. "Basically we are making the structure that encapsulates the driver more robust and susceptible to manage energy in a better way," Stefanyshyn said. "It's been implemented … with the teams so that it can be done in the most efficient, quickest and easiest way." By making the enhancements optional for 2016, they could be implemented for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega, the only remaining event to be held on a superspeedway . The new pieces will be mandatory on superspeedways for 2017 and likely for all events in '18. Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch suffered a broken right leg and fractured left foot in February of 2015 when his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota struck a wall front-end first during an XFINITY Series race at Daytona. Busch missed the first 11 points races of the season due to the injuries. The area of impact in the Busch crash was not protected by SAFER barrier at the time; it has since been added. SAFER barrier is a softer, energy-dissipating material mounted on the track wall. Earlier this year, driver Danica Patrick was involved in a similar crash at Talladega, however the wall was protected by SAFER barrier. Other than bruising and some soreness, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver was not injured. RELATED: Danica discusses Talladega wreck Even with the SAFER barrier, Patrick's impact bent the gas, brake and clutch pedals inside her No. 10 Chevrolet and according to Greg Zipadelli, Vice President of Competition for SHR, "the steering column was moved a ton. "But it was intact," he said a week after the incident. "They've been talking about doing some work in the foot box (area); I think this is the perfect case of what happened. Would that help? I think it probably would have. I think she's lucky she has short legs. Her feet got banged up but once she got going in that direction, she said she just kind of picked her feet up." Patrick underwent x-rays in the infield care center at Talladega and told FOX Sports 1 a week later when the series was at Kansas Speedway that she felt "totally fine." "I've got a couple of bruises; my arm came across and bent the steering wheel," she said. "My foot went past the clutch pedal and came back on (after hitting the wall) … I've got a couple of bruises but I feel really good." Zipadelli said the sport "has come a long way" in the area of safety. "You think about what happened a bunch of years ago, compare these cars," he said. "We're going faster; these guys are hauling the mail every place we go now. When they do wreck, knock on wood, there aren't many complaints. I think they've done a really good job."
Talla-mento Dogwich: Super food for a superspeedway
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Heading into its first NASCAR weekend of the 2016 season, Talladega Superspeedway announced a new culinary creation to its repertoire -- the Talla-mento Dogwich. Described as a "grilled, all-beef hot dog split into two and placed on top of melted Yancey's Fancy buffalo cheddar cheese, topped with a generous helping of Pimiento Cheese, placed in between two slices of Texas toast (grilled to golden brown) and cut down the middle." In between XFINITY and Sprint Cup Series qualifying at 'Dega on Saturday, I decided to give it a whirl. It took me a few, hesitant seconds before taking my first bite. Perhaps inspired by what would've been the late Dale Earnhardt's 65th birthday on Friday, the thing was intimidating. "We have the best and most competitive form of racing in the world here at Talladega Superspeedway , and now we have the most unique, tasty and big-menu items anywhere," said Talladega Superspeedway chairman Grant Lynch. "At Talladega, size matters and our fans won't be disappointed with the incredibly large Talla-Mento Dogwich. It joins 'The Big One Meatball' (last year's concoction) as the most creative and delicious food items at any sporting event in the world." Spoiler alert -- I couldn't finish it. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. First bite impressions: powerful, buttery overtones hit you first (the Texas toast was buttered and grilled perfectly) before the hot dog and cheese flavors follow. It's a solid first bite, meeting my expectations going in. Midway through is when I started to taste the heat from the pimento cheese, but it was mild. As a general buffalo-flavored-anything fan, I was excited to see how the Yancey's Fancy buffalo cheddar cheese came into play, but it was subtle, if at all noticeable. I haven't tried that cheese by itself before, so it's entirely possible the buffalo flavor is intended to take a backseat to the cheddar flavor, but I was hoping for more of a kick. It was slightly difficult to keep the sandwich intact, with the hot dogs initially laid across in an X-shape, marking the spot -- at the cross-section of guilt and pleasure. Unlike the description from Lynch, my sandwich was uncut. I think if it'd been sliced down the middle (rectangle style) with a hot dog slice on each slide, it would've produced better results and dispensed some of the flavors a little more evenly. I tapped out with a full belly about three-quarters through. Overall, for a warm, sunny day at the race track it makes for a good comfort food if you have some calories to spare. Verdict: For $5, it'll definitely fill you up. Recommended to fans who really love hot dogs and pimento cheese. (Duh.) Find it: OV Hill North, OV Hill South, Tri-Oval Tower, Infield.
Staff picks for GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
RELATED: See all the cars lined up for Sunday's race Denny Hamlin : If Joe Gibbs Racing can get organized in the same way it did at Daytona in February, the No. 11 could be the winning ticket at Talladega. -- Zack Albert Dale Earnhardt Jr .: Series' best plate racer has had three runner-up finishes this season. He's due. -- Kenny Bruce Jimmie Johnson : This will mark the 10th Talladega race since Johnson last won here and, quite simply, it's time. While his teammates will grab the lion's share of the attention, "Six-Time" will ultimately hold the winner's trophy -- his third. -- Holly Cain Joey Logano : Entering the weekend, I'd already pegged Joey Logano as the favorite -- then he went out and topped final practice. Seemingly due for a win and with a pair of restrictor-plate victories in his back pocket from last year, what more are you looking for? -- Pat DeCola Ryan Blaney : His best Cup finish came in this race last year and Penske, with whom Wood Brothers is affiliated, has taken two of the last three 'Dega races. -- RJ Kraft Dale Earnhardt Jr .: I'm jumping on the Junior bandwagon. He's always the one to beat at the 2.66-mile track and he'll make it difficult for the rest of the field en route to his seventh Cup win here. -- Maggie MacKenzie Brad Keselowski : The 2012 premier series champion spoils the recent Hendrick-JGR show of power, thanks to his own racing ingenuity and plenty of fast Fords with which to partner. -- Brad Norman Brad Keselowski : The Team Penske driver earned his first Cup win in 2009 at Talladega and has won twice more since. Couple that with he and teammate Joey Logano 's history of working closely together on-track -- a crucial element to plate racing -- and 'Dega Victory Lane could be calling Keselowski's name. -- Jessica Ruffin Matt Kenseth : All the bad luck that the No. 20 team has had this year has masked impressive speed. Talladega is about both luck and speed. With the former in hand as shown by his fourth-place qualifying effort, Kenseth is due for a more auspicious turn of his fortune. -- Kathy Sheldon Denny Hamlin : Hamlin saw Victory Lane two years ago at Talladega and with his 2016 Daytona 500 win under his belt, the JGR driver seems ready to dominate another superspeedway this season. -- Taylor Starer Chase Elliott : His dad won here twice and the man who drove the No. 24 before him won here six times. Talladega has been known to produce dramatic moments, so let's root for another one to happen Sunday. -- George Winkler Make your picks in Streak to the Finish !
Superspeedway cars get safety enhancements
NASCAR's Senior Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development, Gene Stefanyshyn, explains the changes for superspeedway cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR XFINITY series around the drivers' compartment.
At historic track, Elliott looks to make own name
At age 19, Chase will attempt to qualify for first Sprint Cup race Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Think about this for a moment: Chase Elliott , son of the ever-popular Bill Elliott , will attempt to make his Sprint Cup Series debut at Martinsville Speedway , a track steeped in history and tradition, for Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Not only does he need to qualify for the race -- with Team Xtreme withdrawing, there are 45 cars on the entry list; 43 make the race -- but Elliott also will need to do it without having the benefit of much time spent in a Sprint Cup Series seat. And if that's not enough, if he qualifies for the race -- which is expected to be attended by none other than Richard Petty -- Elliott will do so at a younger age than Jeff Gordon did in 1992. Throughout his short history as a national series driver, Elliott has shown an unflappable, even-keel approach en route to such heights as last season's XFINITY Series title. But if any weekend were to test his Zen-like calm, who could blame him if this were the one? "If I wasn't nervous come this weekend, then I'd think something was wrong with me," Elliott said. "I think that should be the case. With as much excitement as this weekend brings I think you're going to have some nerves to go along with it. I'm looking forward to experiencing both of those sensations." If his nerves indeed need some calming, then Elliott can go to bat knowing he will have Gordon on his side. Jeff just happens to be tied with HMS teammate Jimmie Johnson for the most Cup wins at the track among active drivers with eight, so it's not like he's coming at Chase with a blank slate. "I think for me, Jeff will probably be the guy I lean on most this weekend," Elliott said. "One, our car is being prepared out of the 24 and 5 shop. Just to be familiar with that group of guys and how they do things, I think that only makes sense to kind of lean on those guys more than anybody else with the plans for next year. Last time I checked, Jeff had run a handful of races at Martinsville; I feel like he'll have some good information and a lot to be learned talking to him." Elliott said he hasn't driven a Cup car since January of 2014, and most of that experience was at Nashville Superspeedway , a 1.33-mile concrete track that was used for testing. Plus, in the time since Elliott drove a Cup car, a lot has changed thanks to the 2015 rules package. Add in the fact that Elliott will be working with crew chief Kenny Francis for the first time, and there are a lot of challenges he'll be facing beyond just the normal task of driving on a tough, tight 0.526-mile track. But besides having Gordon and the entire HMS team on his side, Elliott also has the benefit of it being a break in the XFINITY Series schedule. Therefore, he can concentrate on the very tall task at hand. But as one might expect, his own expectations for his first Cup race sound pretty reasonable. "Hopefully, for me, I just want to execute all weekend and put together a solid week," Elliott said. "I think for us, if we can run all the laps and stay on the lead lap and battle to run in the top 15, I feel like that's a great day to shoot for. I feel like that's possible and that would be a really good day." Of course, if he does something more than that, then it could add to the track's already thick history. It's a history that will be on the young driver's mind. "I think back of all the times I've gone to Martinsville to watch my dad race," Elliott said. "Even not that long ago. Weird to think I'm going to go run a Cup race and not be watching. ... Such a great opportunity and I want to make the most of it." Senior writer Holly Cain contributed to this report. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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William Byron wins at Loudon in Chase opener
RELATED: Race results " Series standings " Updated Chase Grid LOUDON, N. H. – William Byron stole a page from his mentor and team owner, Kyle Busch . Leading 161 of 175 laps in Saturday’s UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – the first race in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase – Byron cruised to victory, the way Busch has done so many times before, and punched his ticket into the Chase's Round of 6. Not that runner-up Christopher Bell , Byron’s stablemate at Kyle Busch Motorsports, didn’t make it interesting in the closing laps. As Byron worked traffic in the late going, Bell closed from 1.325 seconds behind with five laps left to .430 seconds down on the next-to-last lap. But Bell ran out of time and crossed the finish line .446 seconds behind his No. 1-seeded teammate, who won for a series-best sixth time. "I wore myself out passing some lappers," Byron said. "But with the amount of laps we had left, I thought I'd be OK. I was afraid the 4 (Bell) was going to catch us there at the end. We started to get tight, but that's what happens sometimes when you get out front. "It was really good – just a great race for us. I can't thank these guys enough. Everyone at KBM, (sponsor) Liberty University – it's just really cool to get a win here in the Chase. It feels awesome." Two-time series champion Matt Crafton came home third, followed by Tyler Reddick and Timothy Peters . With the Chase field to be trimmed from eight to six drivers two races hence at Talladega Superspeedway , Ben Kennedy and Daniel Hemric fell below the provisional cut line. Kennedy finished 11th and trails Johnny Sauter (10th on Saturday and sixth in the standings) by one point. If Kennedy's result was only mildly disappointing, Hemric's was a catastrophe. With his left rear tire cut down to the rim, Hemric spun in Turn 1 on Lap 25 to bring out the third caution of the race. His truck suffered a cut brake line and consequent fire in the left rear wheel well. Hemric lost 33 laps under repairs, finished 28th and fell to last in the Chase standings, 21 points behind Sauter with two races left in the Round of 8. In all probability, Hemric will have to win one of those two events, at Las Vegas and Talladega, to advance to the Round of 6. After leading the first 54 laps, Byron lost the top spot briefly when Cody Coughlin stayed out under the fourth caution and Bell, Kennedy, Crafton and Spencer Gallagher leap-frogged ahead of Byron with two-tire and fuel-only calls in the pits. But Byron regained the lead from Bell on Lap 69 and held it the rest of the way. As Bell gained ground in the final laps, Byron was trying to save his equipment to prepare for a possible late caution. "I was expecting it, so I didn't push too hard," Byron said. "I was expecting to get a caution, hopefully save something, but we gave it all we had there the whole race, and I just can’t thank these guys enough." Byron leaves New Hampshire with a 16-point lead in the standings and guaranteed admission to the next round of the Chase. Crafton (+11 points above the cutoff line) is second in the Chase standings, followed by Bell (+10), John Hunter Nemechek (ninth on Saturday, +5), Peters (+3), Sauter (+1), Kennedy (-1) and Hemric (-21). Note: Nemechek's No. 8 Chevrolet failed the post-race heights inspection. Any potential pnelaties will be announced next week. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Brandon Jones extends deal with RCR in XFINITY
WELCOME, N.C. -- Brandon Jones , 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase contender and Rookie of the Year candidate, has signed an agreement to remain with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) as the driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet Camaro in the XFINITY Series for the 2017 season. "Brandon has shown he has the talent behind the wheel to run up front and compete for championships in the XFINITY Series, and we are pleased he will continue to do so in an RCR Chevrolet," said Richard Childress, Chairman and CEO of RCR. "We are proud of everything he has accomplished this season, including leading laps, making the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase and contending for the Rookie of the Year title. Brandon has also been an excellent spokesman for our sponsors and does an exceptional job representing our brand. We can't wait to see what Brandon can do in his second full XFINITY Series season." In his first full year with RCR, Jones has recorded 11 top-10 finishes through the first 26 races and earned a spot in the XFINITY Series Chase. The 19-year-old driver scored an impressive sixth-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway , and also led 36 laps at Talladega Superspeedway in April. "I am honored to return to Richard Childress Racing for the 2017 season," Jones said. "RCR is such a storied NASCAR organization and it's a great opportunity to be a part of the team. Racing full-time in the XFINITY Series this season has been a valuable learning experience. I believe we have what it takes to compete for the championship throughout the Chase this season and make another run at the title in 2017. The teamwork and support from RCR, ECR Engines and Chevrolet have been second to none and instrumental in my development as a driver. I've also enjoyed representing several partners including Menards, Nexteer, Chevrolet, Okuma, Cometic, Roland and Rain-X." Before joining RCR as a full-time driver in 2016, Jones ran five XFINITY Series races in 2015, earning one top-five and two top-10 finishes, along with 16 laps led. The Atlanta, Georgia, native, has 30 starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, recording five top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. He also has one NASCAR K&N East Series win and three ARCA Racing Series victories.
The Band Perry to perform before championship race at Miami
MIAMI -- In 2015, NASCAR witnessed one of the most remarkable comebacks in the sports' history, as Kyle Busch collected his first career Sprint Cup Series championship by emerging victorious in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Regardless of which of the 16 Chase drivers are part of the Championship 4 at the 2016 Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday, November 20, there is guaranteed to be another comeback completed that day. Hot off the release of their new single "Comeback Kid," Grammy® Award-winning superstar sibling trio -- The Band Perry -- will make a special live performance prior to this year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship race. The Band Perry will be featured in Homestead-Miami Speedway 's pre-race show, which airs on Countdown to Green on NBC that Sunday. The Ford EcoBoost 400 championship race, which is televised in 185 countries and territories, will be broadcast on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 2:30 p.m. ET. The Band Perry, which consists of siblings Kimberly Perry, Neil Perry and Reid Perry, are an unstoppable presence in music. The trio has released two studio albums, The Band Perry (2010) and Pioneer (2013). Their first album went certified platinum and included the sextuple-platinum chart-topper, "If I Die Young," the platinum-selling "You Lie" and "All Your Life" (a No. 1 single). Their second album Pioneer was certified gold and also featured two No. 1 singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with the song "Better Dig Two" and "DONE", a first No. 1 for brothers Reid and Neil as songwriters. In February 2015, The Band Perry won their first Grammy®Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and have also earned multiple awards from the likes of The Country Music Association, CMT Music Awards, the American Country Awards and the Academy of Country Music. Recently named ambassadors for Teen Cancer America (a charity founded by The Who's Roger Daltrey), The Band Perry recently launched a million-dollar fundraising campaign with the nonprofit to benefit Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Monroe Carrell Jr. Children's Hospital to expand the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer program in Nashville . They are currently putting the finishing touches on their third studio album. "We are thrilled to have The Band Perry performing in what will be an exciting day at Homestead-Miami Speedway , which will be capped off with the Ford EcoBoost 400 championship race on Sunday," said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer. "The Band Perry has become a household name in country music, and having them kick off the Sprint Cup Series championship race with a pre-race concert will be an electrifying experience for NASCAR and all of our fans. We can’t wait to see the show they put on in November." Tickets for 2016 Ford Championship Weekend, which will be held November 18-20, are now available and can be purchased by calling (866) 409-RACE (7223) or visiting www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com .