1964: The Wood Brothers, a road trip and a surprise driver
Noted road-course racer Dan Gurney won the event and Marvin Panch finished second to give Wood Brothers Racing a 1-2 finish in the Motor Trend 500 at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. The name of the fellow who climbed aboard the car in Greenville, South Carolina , however, has been lost in the mists of time. Say what? The year was 1964 and crew chief Leonard Wood, along with brother Ray, was transporting Panch's No. 21 Ford across the country, returning from Riverside to the team's shop in Stuart, Virginia. After a brief stop for dinner in Greenville, the two resumed their journey, planning one more stop in Charlotte, North Carolina . "People were standing around the car, it was 20 degrees," Leonard Wood told NASCAR.com regarding the brief break for a quick meal just across the South Carolina state line. "Normally you'd stop and talk to them a little bit but it was so cold we just jumped in the truck, pulled away and left." The first sign that the two had picked up an uninvited passenger, Wood said, came about halfway between Greenville and Charlotte when their truck "started making this noise and we couldn't figure out what it was." "Ray said 'You can even feel it in the roof. It's vibrating the roof!' " Leonard Wood recalled. Initially, Wood said he thought the loud vibration was the result of a jet aircraft, "so I'm looking around to see if I could see an airport," he said. Neither crewman realized the vibration was coming from the race car, and the engine being revved wide open. But the noise soon stopped so the pair continued on up the road, unaware that a none-too-sober gentleman had climbed inside the race car back in Greenville during the food stop. When they arrived in Charlotte for one final stop, Wood said the noise and vibration had resumed. And this time he realized it wasn't coming from any aircraft. It was coming from the race car on the back of the open truck. "I looked in the side mirror when we got off the highway and I saw steam coming out the exhausts of the race car," he said. "I knew something was wrong and I told Ray to stop this thing. "I saw what looked like a person in the car behind the wheel and I thought, 'Man, one of the crew members is trying to pull a trick on me.' Of course I bypassed that thought immediately because I thought 'There's no one on the crew that's going to be stupid enough to get in that car as cold as it is.' "I look in there and this guy's got Marvin's helmet on. I said 'What do you think you’re doing in here?' and he said 'Let's go!' " In the meantime, Ray Wood had gotten out of the truck, still unaware of the inebriated passenger. With help from Leonard they attempted to pull the unwanted fellow from behind the wheel. "I said 'We'll let you go in a minute,' grabbed ahold of him and jerked him out," Leonard said. "He got his foot hung and was hollering and squalling. We turned him loose and he just settled back in there and got comfortable again. He had a little bit to keep him warm, liquid wise." As fate would have it, a local law enforcement officer happened by and stopped to see what was going on. After explaining the situation, the officer gave the "would-be racer" another ride -- this one in the back of a patrol car. Panch, who would go on to win three times that season for the Wood Brothers, had told Leonard after finishing second at Riverside that the motor had been about to blow near the end of the race. "When I got home," Wood said, "I said, 'Marvin, that thing was good for another 100 miles!' "But the funniest thing is Glen (Wood, team founder) had passed us in the station wagon and didn't see the man in there. "If he had, he would have had a heart attack."
Teams look for Chase edge at Chicagoland test
With the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup only one month away, several Sprint Cup Series teams will try to get a leg up on the competition at Chicagoland Speedway this week by taking part in an organizational test for the series. Thirteen teams are tentatively scheduled to make the trek to the 1.5-mile track for the two-day test initially scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 23-24. Because of weather in the area, the test was adjusted to an all day session on Tuesday running into the night. Drivers expected to be on hand are: -- Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet) -- Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet) -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr . ( Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford)--- Trevor Bayne filled in so Stenhouse could attend Bryan Clauson's services -- Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota) -- Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford) -- Joey Logano ( Team Penske No. 22 Ford) -- David Ragan ( BK Racing No. 23 Ford) -- Ryan Newman ( Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet) -- Chris Buescher ( Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford) -- Brian Scott ( Richard Petty Motorsports No. 44 Ford) -- Michael Annett ( HScott Motorsports No. 46 Chevrolet) -- Jimmie Johnson ( Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet) -- Michael McDowell (Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Chevrolet) Chicagoland is scheduled to host the opening Chase race, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, on Sunday, Sept. 18 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) That the test will be held so close to the race date "is huge," said six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson . "To be on the track in close proximity when we go back and race, we obviously have a lot going on just as all teams do trying to gear up and get ready for the Chase," he said. Johnson has 14 career starts at the 1.5-mile track, but it is one of four -- along with Watkins Glen, Homestead and Kentucky -- where he has yet to win. "We have all these great machines that simulate on-track activity at the shop but until you take it to the race track and put it to use you have no idea if it's really paying off," he said. "So we're looking to validate quite a few things and hopefully we get sunshine and really true conditions to what we'll see when we come back for the race." The Chicago test is the fourth of five organizational tests for Sprint Cup Series teams this season. The remaining test is scheduled at Homestead Miami Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 18-19.
The Rundown: Bristol driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Driver standings " Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway : 1. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . This says it all about Harvick's second win at Bristol: In 112 Cup races at the track, only four winners started farther back in the field than Harvick's 24th ( Elliott Sadler , 38th, 2001; Dale Earnhardt Jr ., 30th, 2004; Kurt Busch , 27th, 2002; Dale Earnhardt, 26th, 1999). Grade: A++ 2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse overcame a pit-road speeding penalty to tie his career-best finish, which also came at Bristol (2014). In fact, half of Stenhouse's six career top-five finishes have come at Bristol. Grade: A+ 3. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . It was a day of eighths for Hamlin: His eighth top five of the season and his eighth pit-road speeding penalty. He also had to make an unscheduled stop for a loose wheel that put him two laps down. Nice recovery, but he absolutely has to stick a fork in those pit-road speeding penalties before the Chase begins. Grade: A- 4. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon just avoided the big wreck on Lap 373 to post his first top five since Talladega in May. Also important: Dillon moved up two spots in the Chase standings to 13th, passing Ryan Newman and Chase Elliott . Grade: A 5. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Huge day for Buescher, who gets his second career top five -- both in the past three races -- and moves into the top 30 in points for the first time this season. Grade: A+ 6. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Debris piercing the right front of his car couldn't stop Edwards from getting his 14th top 10 of the season, one fewer than he had all of 2015. Grade: A 7. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Hard to believe, but Johnson's finish was only his second top 10 in the past 10 races. Grade: A 8. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray's Chase radar is on max. He's 15th in the Chase standings after his fourth top 10 in the past six races. Grade: A 9. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger posts back-to-back top 10s for the second time this season, the first time he has had multiple back-to-back top-10 finishes in a season in his Sprint Cup career. Grade: A 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . We don't have the space to list all the issues Logano and the No. 22 had to overcome Sunday. This top 10 was hard earned and well deserved. Grade: A 11. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . In the 801st and possibly final start of his career, Gordon gets his best finish in his fourth race as Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s sub. Grade: B 12. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne jumped over Kyle Larson in the standings and picked up ground on Ryan Newman , who leads Bayne by 35 points for the last spot in the Chase with three races to go before the field is set. Grade: B 13. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . With Chris Buescher entering the top 30, Kahne went from 11 points behind 16th place in the Chase standings to 39 points back. Grade: B 14. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola posted his best finish of the season since finishing 13th in Week 4 at Phoenix. Grade: B 15. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott's promising day took a hit when he was collected in the big wreck on Lap 373. On the flip side, he led 14 laps, his first laps led since Week 15 at Michigan. Grade: B 16. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . A miscommunication over the radio that resulted in an unscheduled green-flag pit stop didn't help matters. Grade: B- 17. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto posted the second-best finish of his young career despite being down three laps at one point because of a tire issue. His best finish? Sixth at Bristol in April. Grade: A 18. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott turned in his second-best finish of the season (12th at Fontana in Week 5). Grade: A 19. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell finishes in the top 20 in consecutive races for the first time in his 201-race Cup career. Grade: A 20. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Cassill finished 22nd in April to tie his best finish at Bristol. Sunday, he topped that. Grade: A 21. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan avoided disaster with a great evasive maneuver down low to avoid a spinning Kyle Busch on Lap 358. Grade: B 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick finished 22nd for the third time in the past four races. Her other finish in that stretch: 21st two weeks ago at Watkins Glen. Grade: C 23. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Bad luck found Truex again. He was running third on Lap 358 when he was collected in a wreck caused by Kyle Bush's spin and the No. 78 suffered heavy damage. His average running position of 9.6 was fifth best. Grade: A- 24. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson had an eventful day, and that’s not code for a great day. A pit-road speeding penalty, cut oil line, three on-track incidents (neither his fault) and untimely tire rub totally erased the benefit of having a super-fast car. Grade: B- 25. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears has one top 10 in 28 starts at Bristol giving him the lowest top-10 percentage among active drivers with at least 15 Cup starts at the track. Grade: C 26. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith brought out the third caution when he got into the wall on Lap 157; attrition enabled him to post a top-30 finish. Grade: C- 27. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson tied Regan Smith for the fewest green-flag passes with six. Grade: C- 28. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Pit-road penalties and tire problems carried (dropped?) the day. Still, Newman is 16th in the Chase standings with a 35-point cushion over Trevor Bayne with three races to go. Grade: D 29. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32, Go Fas Racing Ford. Earnhardt improved three spots from his debut at Bristol in April. Grade: C- 30. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . We'll let Tony sum up his final start at Bristol: "We had a wheel that was loose, and that messed our whole day up." Perhaps, but owner Tony got a win and was part of a double burnout with winner Kevin Harvick . Grade: D 31. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . A broken brake rotor put Bowyer into the wall on Lap 416. Grade D 32. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard was running in the top 10 when he got caught up in the aftermath of Kurt Busch 's spin and his car sustained a punctured radiator when he ran into Chase Elliott . That's Bristol. Grade: C- 33. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski was running third when Kurt Busch got loose in front of him, turned and Keselowski hit him hard. Keselowski had run among the leaders until the accident on Lap 373. Grade: C 34. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. The No. 98 spent time in the garage, and Whitt finished 58 laps off the pace. Grade: D 35. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney was caught up in the Kurt Busch wreck. As cars checked up, Blaney slammed into Matt Kenseth , who had been turned by Chase Elliott . Blaney returned to the track, but when the day ended he had little to show for a top-five starting spot. Grade: C 36. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise completed 416 laps, his fewest at Bristol since 2012, his rookie season. Grade: F 37. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . A so-so day at Bristol became a no-no day when Kenseth was collected in the Kurt Busch wreck. Since a four-race run of 1st, 13th, 3rd and 1st, Kenseth has now gone 42nd, 36th and 37th. That's Bristol, too. Grade: C 38. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Finally we come to the driver who miscalculated his move " by a few inches"and ignited the wreck on Lap 373 that collected 10 other cars. Busch later tweeted, "Tasted the checkers, pushed too hard too soon." No argument here. Busch had completed every lap run this season until Sunday. Grade: F 39. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch led a race-high 256 laps and owned the day until something broke in his car (his team will hear about that on Tuesday, he said). The No. 18 went into a soft spin, but it was met with a hard hit by Justin Allgaier that left Busch with his third DNF in his past four races at Bristol, all for crashes. Grade: C- 40. Justin Allgaier , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Subbing for Michael Annett (flu-like symptoms), Allgaier made his first Sprint Cup start of the season one day after finishing second in the XFINITY Series race at Bristol. Two days later he earned the wrath of Kyle Busch for plowing into him when Busch spun out on Lap 358. That's the high and lows of Bristol. Grade: F </p>
RECAP: Harvick conquers the colosseum contenders
NASCAR.com’s Jonathan Merryman recaps the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race as Kevin Harvick takes control to earn his second-ever Bristol win.
Hamlin: ‘Definitely got beat by the better car’
Denny Hamlin talks about his third place finish in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Jeff Gordon won't drive No. 88 car at Michigan
RELATED: Dale Jr. offers rehab update on social media BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition remains undetermined. But if the series' most popular driver remains sidelined when the series heads to Michigan International Speedway for the Aug. 28 Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), it will be Alex Bowman and not Jeff Gordon handling the driving duties of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet. Gordon, who made his fourth start for the team at Bristol Motor Speedway , will not be available due to a prior commitment, according to Hendrick officials. However, the four-time series champion will travel to Michigan to support the team on Sunday. Earnhardt is recovering from concussion-like symptoms that have kept him sidelined since July. The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol was the fifth race he's missed. Bowman drove for the team at Loudon, New Hampshire, following Earnhardt's initial diagnosis. Gordon took over the following week, and has competed at Indianapolis, Pocono and Watkins Glen prior to Bristol. Bowman, 23, finished 26th in his fill-in role for Earnhardt at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Gordon, meanwhile, has finishes of 13th, 27th, 14th and 11th, respectively, in his four starts with the team. . @JeffGordonWeb has prior commitment that won't allow him to be in Mich. for entire race wknd. @AlexBRacing to sub if @DaleJr isn't cleared. — Hendrick 88 Team (@Hendrick88Team) August 19, 2016 Happy to be on standby for @DaleJr and @TeamHendrick at @MISpeedway . Hopefully Dale is cleared but if not I'm ready to go! — Alex Bowman (@AlexBRacing) August 20, 2016 UPDATE: The 88 team does not expect to make an announcement for Michigan until Wednesday afternoon. We don’t expect to make an announcement regarding @MISpeedway before Wednesday afternoon. — Hendrick 88 Team (@Hendrick88Team) August 22, 2016 &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Hornish Jr. to fill in for McDowell at Michigan
CONCORD, N.C. (August 23, 2016) – Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR) has announced that Sam Hornish Jr . will fill in for Michael McDowell on Friday and Saturday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend at Michigan International Speedway . McDowell is scheduled to race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Road America for Richard Childress Racing on Friday and Saturday. He will then travel to Michigan International Speedway and drive the No. 95 Thrivent Financial Chevrolet on Sunday in the Pure Michigan 400 for Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing .
Harvick reigns supreme at Bristol
Kevin Harvick holds off the field to grab his second win at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Best in-car audio from the Bristol Night Race
From weather delays, to Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart's dual burnouts, relive the sounds from the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
A new raining champ at Bristol
NASCAR.com's Chuck Bush recaps all the action from a wet and wild weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. From Ben Kennedy earning his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win to Kevin Harvick ending an 18 race winless drought.