Miss Coors Light, Amanda Mertz, catches up with Matt Kenseth, the Coors Light Pole Award winner for the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
See which drivers will compete in the Sprint Cup Series' 25th race of the season
A stat-based look ahead to the Sprint Cup Series stop at Atlanta
From a loose squirrel to a dust up between Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., these are the best in-car audio highlights from Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup contender supports Oral-B 'Built in the USA' campaign
Ticked off Tony sends brazen tweet after poor qualifying performance Tony Stewart 's No. 14 Chevrolet was nearly 5 mph slower than Stewart-Haas Racing 's No. 4 car in Thursday's qualifying, and the boss was highly displeased. Kevin Harvick posted a speed of 191.415 mph in the third and final round of qualifying Friday, winding up with an 11th-place starting position in Saturday's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . But the No. 4 Chevrolet had been even quicker in practice, topping the leaderboard with a fast lap over 193 mph. Stewart's top qualifying speed was 186.754 mph, dropping him to 36th place for the start of the Sprint Cup Series race. Stewart's qualifying has been a sore spot this season. He has cracked the top 10 of the starting grid only eight times. A four-race stretch from Indianapolis to Michigan seemed to indicate the problem was fixed, with consecutive top-five qualifying runs. The three-time champ announced that 2016 will be his final full-time Sprint Cup season and during his announcement said he intended to be competitive next season. Job 1 will be getting his first Daytona 500 win. It appears 'Smoke' wants to light a fire under his team immediately.
Kasey Kahne ready to race strong at Charlotte for Braylon Beam CONCORD, N.C. -- Braylon Beam showed off his dance moves as did Kasey Kahne 's crew chief Keith Rodden and several crew members of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at the media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday. Beam, Rodden and the No. 5 crew did the dance to "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)." Braylon and the http://t.co/Tm9crYUboG team #JustKeepDancing ! pic.twitter.com/plyty2sVXO — Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) October 8, 2015 Beam, the six-year-old behind the "Just Keep Dancing" campaign that raises awareness for pediatric cancer through fan-submitted video, is fighting a brain tumor and uses dancing as a way to feel better during his chemotherapy treatments. At Charlotte, Beam is serving as an honorary crew chief and Rodden has a personal connection to the Beam family from his childhood. Rodden, in his first season as Kahne’s crew chief, was visibly choked up talking about the impact the Beam family has had on him. "Coach Beam and Mrs. Beam, they were teachers at East Lincoln High School in Denver, North Carolina (where Rodden went to school). I tell you what, they were just excellent people and they have touched so many people in our community for so many years. They went above and beyond what any educator needed to do. "As soon as I found out about Braylon ... I had never met Braylon until today or his father Jesse or his mother Meredith ... when I saw his story I said, man, we got to do something for Braylon. We got to do something for their family. They've just done so much for Denver, North Carolina and I wanted to try to give back. "Good grief, this kid has given back so much more to us than we could ever provide for him. We get so caught up in stuff that we do ... racing and winning, tight and loose, restarts and all that stuff. This really puts that into perspective. "I'm just so honored that he decided to come and hang out with us today. I think Kasey's done a great job and I think Braylon got on him a little bit." When asked what he expected out of Kahne at the 1.5-mile track, Beam responded, " Kasey Kahne ’s going to step up his game." And he is cooking up a dance for Kahne should he win Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) Before the start of the NFL season, Beam was also an honorary coach for the Carolina Panthers and he has also appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." Last month, he led the "Keep Pounding" drum ceremony at a Panthers game. For the record, Beam says the Panthers are better dancers than the No. 5 crew members. Later this weekend, Beam will serve as the honorary starter for Five Kahne 5K charity run on Sunday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Check out a longer version of Thursday's dance party.
David Ragan 's plans for this weekend's race in the NASCAR industry's backyard will take on special meaning, with birthday accommodations made for a special guest. Ragan paid a visit Wednesday to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Greenville, South Carolina, surprising 8-year-old NASCAR fan Hunter Black at a birthday lunch. Ragan took part in the celebration with his own gift for the youngster -- a weekend trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway as his honored guest for Saturday's Sprint Cup Series race. Ragan planned to ask Black, a patient born with cerebral palsy, to join him and assist with driver introductions as part of the pre-race ceremonies for Saturday night's Bank of America 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM). The two met during a previous hospital visit in April 2014. Ragan, in his ninth full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, named Shriners Hospitals for Children his official charity in 2008. Having a great birthday lunch at @shrinershosp Greenville with my pal Hunter. He'll be coming to the race Saturday! pic.twitter.com/Nlbyho8dA4 — David Ragan (@DavidRagan) October 7, 2015
RELATED: Gordon by the numbers at Charlotte As Jeff Gordon 's farewell tour winds down, so do the number of chances to scratch the win column in his final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The four-time champion sees opportunities in the seven races that remain, however, even as a bigger goal looms. Gordon took his rightful place among the 12 title-eligible Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Tuesday, just days before the three-race Contender Round kicks off with this Saturday night's Bank of America 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM). A victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend would provide a bookend for his career at the site of his first major-league triumph, back in 1994. With 29 races in the books, Gordon is facing down the prospect of a winless final season, but he said a title ring for the thumb would be the ultimate trump card. "I mean, I'll be disappointed, but at the same time, I'm a realistic person and we've rarely put ourselves in position and had the cars and the team to do that," Gordon said. "I think certainly Martinsville's high on my list of opportunities, and I feel like we've been able to win there the last several years. I've got to make sure I go in there and do my job because I think we're very capable of winning there. "To me, the championship overrides that, and even if we don't win a race and win the championship, that'll supersede the win." Gordon qualified for the 10-race postseason on the basis of points and advanced through the first three-race series with finishes of 14th (Chicagoland), seventh (New Hampshire) and 12th (Dover). Passing the Challenger Round test mirrored the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 team's steady effort from the regular season, when Gordon placed in the top 10 in half of the 26 races. With the points re-racked for the next round, Gordon said having equal footing in the standings makes the championship race a new day for all 12 finalists, icing on the season-ending cake. "I feel like it's all bonus from here on out," Gordon said. "We haven't had the best year, but we've done a great job at fighting and overcoming things and here we are with having -- up to the Chase -- not a very great performance, and yet we're in the Chase. And I think we showed in Chicago that we've improved our mile-and-a-half program. Let's hope that continues these next two weeks, but it's full-on reset. "We came into this thing very far behind in bonus points and now we're on an even playing field as far as points are concerned. You've got to just play to your strengths, and I think our strengths are that we're very consistent, we've got a lot of fight in us, and we've had to fight through a lot of things this year, so we're very experienced at that." Gordon exited the title hunt last year in the Eliminator Round, the final three-race series before the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Though the current Chase format is only in its second year, Gordon said the pressure "only intensifies from here" as the season winds down. One team that has risen in close correlation with the stress levels has been the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 outfit helmed by defending series champion Kevin Harvick , who converted a must-win situation last weekend at Dover to keep his repeat hopes alive. Though Gordon said the focus remains in-house for the No. 24 bunch for the time being, it's been hard to ignore the accomplishments from Harvick & Co. "We're in a category right now where it's really just focus on how we get ourselves to Homestead and then see who we need to worry about, but the first step is just that," Gordon said. "But I will say consistently every weekend, he's at the top of board, he's the guy that I think everybody's measuring themselves off of, but in all honesty I think he's in a whole 'nother category right now."