Lupton, Carpentier lead new faces at Sonoma
RELATED: Updated entry list Two new faces -- one a complete first-timer and another a blast from the past -- will join the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series field when the tour resumes next weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Former NASCAR Next driver Dylan Lupton is scheduled to make his Sprint Cup debut in the June 26 Toyota/Save Mart 350 (3 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM). And Patrick Carpentier is set to make his first premier series start since 2011 on the 1.99-mile road course. Lupton, a two-time winner in NASCAR K&N Pro Series competition, will attempt to qualify the BK Racing No. 93 Toyota. A preliminary entry list of 41 cars for 40 starting spots was released Friday. The No. 93 team will carry sponsorship from Elk Grove Toyota and Bell Bros. Lupton has 10 starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series with a best finish of ninth at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course . Carpentier , a five-time winner in Champ Car competition, will drive the Go FAS Racing No. 32 Ford with sponsorship from Can-Am. The Quebec native is a veteran of 40 Sprint Cup starts and notched his career-best finish of 11th place at Sonoma in 2009. Carpentier also won the Coors Light Pole Award in June 2008 for a Sprint Cup event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway .
Carpentier adds two Sprint Cup races with Go Fas Racing
Go Fas Racing announced that Patrick Carpentier will pilot the No. 32 Can-Am, Kappa, Cyclops Ford Fusion at Sonoma Raceway in June, and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July. Carpentier has 40 starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from 2007-2011. The Ville LaSalle, Quebec, native has two NSCS starts at Sonoma with a best finish of 11th in 2009, and one start at Indianapolis where he finished 18th. "Even if I say that I'm retired, I could not miss the opportunity to drive in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, especially on circuits as interesting as those of Sonoma and Indianapolis," Carpentier said. "I'm really happy to wear the colors of Can-Am, Kappa and Cyclops Gear because I love to use their products." "We are very happy with the choice of drivers made by our partner, Archie St.Hilaire of Go FAS Racing," said José Boisjoli, president and CEO of BRP. "The decision to entrust the wheel of the Can-Am/Kappa/Cyclops Gear Ford Fusion No.32 to Patrick Carpentier for the races in Sonoma and Indianapolis, pleases us very much. Patrick is a very talented driver and he is an avid fan of our products." "We look forward to working with Patrick at Sonoma and Indianapolis," said Go Fas Racing team owner Archie St. Hilaire. "The last time he ran at Sonoma he finished 11th, and we plan on giving him a car that can give him a top-10 this June."
DiBenedetto joins Go Fas Racing for 2017 season
Go Fas Racing announced Thursday that Matt DiBenedetto will drive its No. 32 Ford full-time in NASCAR's premier series in 2017. DiBenedetto joins the Archie St. Hilaire-owned team after two seasons with BK Racing . The 25-year-old California native parted ways with BK team owner Ron Devine last week, one day before teammate David Ragan followed suit. "We have a great group of people that I am very excited to work with this season," DiBenedetto said in a release provided by the team. "I am thankful for the opportunity and I look forward to representing the team and sponsors to the best of my ability." The move positions Go Fas Racing to have one driver for all 36 points-paying races for the first time since it joined NASCAR's premier series full-time in 2014. A total of eight drivers piloted Go Fas' No. 32 last season, with Jeffrey Earnhardt entering the majority of the races -- 19. Joey Gase (six races), Bobby Labonte (4), Jeb Burton (2), Patrick Carpentier (2), Dylan Lupton , Eddie MacDonald and Boris Said (one each) were Go Fas' other drivers. The team indicated that Can-Am/Kappa, Keen Parts and Visone RV would return as sponsors with more partnerships yet to be announced. St. Hilaire also mentioned his hopes that "a fleet of newer race equipment purchased this offseason" would boost the team's performance next year. DiBenedetto has finished 35th in the final standings the last two seasons in NASCAR's top division. He scored an emotional career-best finish of sixth place last April at Bristol Motor Speedway . &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Kyle Busch tops the heap in final Indy practice
RELATED: Practice 1 results " Final practice results Kyle Busch closed out final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice atop the leaderboard Friday afternoon, recovering from a spin earlier in the day and landing the fastest speed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Busch, the defending race winner, lapped the track with a best speed of 184.619 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota as teams made mock qualifying runs ahead of Saturday's time trials. It marked an improvement over his 12th-best time during Friday's opening 85-minute session at the 2.5-mile track. During that opening session, Busch's No. 18 Camry slightly touched the car of Patrick Carpentier as they raced side-by-side in Turn 2. Busch, the defending series champion, spun out without making further contact. Former Brickyard winner Kevin Harvick registered the second-fastest lap, pushing the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet to a lap of 184.268 mph. Kyle Larson , Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards completed the top five in the final practice before Sunday's Crown Royal Presents The Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Jeff Gordon was 25th-fastest in his second stint of practice ahead of his first Sprint Cup start of the season. The four-time series champion notched a 180.375-mph lap in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet, filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. , who is sidelined for the second straight week by concussion-like symptoms. Tony Stewart , prepping for his final scheduled Sprint Cup start at his home-state track, was 24th-fastest (180.505 mph) in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet. Coors Light Pole Qualifying is set Saturday at 1:45 p.m. ET (NBCSN). Sunday's race will be the 20th of 36 points-paying races this season. Johnson sets pace in opening Indy practice Jimmie Johnson soared to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaderboard Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in an opening practice that featured the return of Jeff Gordon to competition. Johnson pushed the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet to a best lap of 184.185 mph around the 2.5-mile track. He'll seek his fifth Indianapolis win in Sunday's Crown Royal Presents The Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Former Indy pole winner Denny Hamlin was second-fastest in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota at 182.563 mph, a sizable .434 seconds off Johnson's pace. Casey Mears (180.346 mph), Kevin Harvick (179.845 mph) and Ryan Newman (179.784 mph) completed the top five in the 85-minute opening session. Gordon clocked the ninth-fastest speed, landing a 179.376 mph lap in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet. He's scheduled to make his first Sprint Cup start of the season Sunday as a replacement for Dale Earnhardt Jr. as he recovers from concussion-like symptoms. Tony Stewart , scheduled to make his final Brickyard start in what's to be his last full-time season, was eighth-fastest at 179.655 mph in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet. The native Hoosier will be vying for his third Brickyard victory in Sunday's 400-miler. Defending Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch, also the defending race winner, was 12th-fastest but recovered from a spin at the one-hour mark of the session. Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota made a prolonged slide out of Turn 2 after making contact with the Go FAS Racing No. 32 Ford of Patrick Carpentier . Carpentier , 44, walked over to Busch's garage stall later in the session to issue an apology for crowding his pass attempt. Carpentier was 39th-fastest of the 41 drivers entered during first practice. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Fifth annual NASCAR Race To Green celebrates industry-wide effort
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- To commemorate the holistic effort being made to help protect and preserve the environment, NASCAR® announced its fifth annual NASCAR Race to Green ™ initiative. Beginning today and culminating with Sunday's TOYOTA OWNERS 400 at Richmond International Raceway, the initiative will build awareness around the programs NASCAR, the industry and multiple partners have developed to help reduce its carbon footprint. A key pillar of NASCAR Race to Green is a call-to-action for fans and the industry to donate trees that will be planted across the country as well as in areas recently devastated by natural disasters. Fans can visit NASCAR.com/green to donate trees -- $1 per tree for a 2-3 foot sapling -- to be planted in those areas with the support of the Arbor Day Foundation. Fans are encouraged to share their own efforts around being green by using the hashtag #NASCARGreen. "The Race To Green initiative allows us to highlight the foundational partners that help reduce our impact on the environment all year long," said Brent Dewar, NASCAR Chief Operating Officer. "As an example of the wide range of initiatives taking place across the industry, American Ethanol has helped us eclipse 10 million miles on Sunoco Green E15, Safety-Kleen recycles all oil and lubricants at more than 200 race events a year, and collectively as an industry more than 400,000 trees have been planted to date. We are proud to continue those efforts under the Race to Green umbrella." As part of this year's initiative, NASCAR fans visiting NASCAR.com/green will be treated to a newly designed digital destination, complete with easy-to-access information, news, an interactive carbon calculator and more. NASCAR Green will debut a new TV spot today as well, featuring a newly created NASCAR Green logo. NASCAR Race To Green will highlight the sustainability efforts of its teams, tracks and NASCAR Official Partners, who work closely with NASCAR, year-round. While NASCAR Green initiatives span the entire year, the following additional activities will take place throughout this week-long effort: • In partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, NASCAR Official Partners have committed to donate trees to Tennessee residents affected by the Chimney Tops 2 Fire in November 2016. NASCAR will match the donations made by its Official Partners. • As part of the 16th annual Comcast Cares Day, NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers will join Comcast volunteers for a Habitat for Humanity build in Johnson City, Tenn. NASCAR will donate trees for the newly built homes. • Pocono Raceway will release a Sustainability Report that details the initiatives it has in place to be environmentally responsible, including its recycling program, solar farm and more. • In partnership with Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Elliot Sadler will visit Oak Mountain Elementary School in Birmingham, Ala. to donate 750 tree saplings provided by NASCAR and the Arbor Day Foundation. • Today, Danica Patrick will help Mobil 1 spotlight its Mobil 1TM Annual Protection, allowing drivers to go one full year -- or 20,000 miles -- between oil changes, with a ceremonial pour at Bristol Motor Speedway. NASCAR Green was launched because it was the right thing to do for the country, climate and fans. Since 2008, NASCAR has taken a holistic approach across its wide-ranging effort to reduce our impact on the environment, including: • NASCAR and the industry have planted enough trees to completely offset carbon emissions for all three national series racing for the past six years, plus the next 40 years. • NASCAR eclipsed more than 10 million competition miles on Sunoco Green E15, demonstrating that the ethanol blended biofuel stands up to high performance racing while significantly reducing emissions. • Safety-Kleen delivers its oil recycling and re-refining services to the track each weekend, ensuring all cleaning solvents, oil, fluids and lubricants are recaptured and incorporated into useable products. • NASCAR also features many teams and tracks using solar power as a renewable energy source, including: Daytona International Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Sonoma Raceway, Roush Fenway Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports. For more information about NASCAR Race to Green , visit NASCAR.com/Green . The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season will continue wit h the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 23 at 2 p.m. ET on FOX, P RN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Best consecutive 10-lap averages at Bristol
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Bristol PRACTICE 1: RESULTS Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 11 Denny Hamlin 14 23 125.657 2 18 Kyle Busch 48 57 125.429 3 42 Kyle Larson 1 10 125.176 4 5 Kasey Kahne 23 32 125.124 5 20 Matt Kenseth 35 44 124.665 6 1 Jamie McMurray 14 23 124.654 7 77 Erik Jones # 45 54 124.404 8 48 Jimmie Johnson 51 60 124.302 9 24 Chase Elliott 23 32 124.214 10 43 Aric Almirola 33 42 124.097 11 13 Ty Dillon # 44 53 123.905 12 41 Kurt Busch 31 40 123.609 13 27 Paul Menard 50 59 123.296 14 21 Ryan Blaney 32 41 123.296 15 47 AJ Allmendinger 39 48 123.112 16 95 Michael McDowell 12 21 123.081 17 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 40 49 122.789 18 2 Brad Keselowski 48 57 122.780 19 19 Daniel Suarez # 49 58 122.162 20 34 Landon Cassill 1 10 122.077 21 3 Austin Dillon 3 12 121.914 22 38 David Ragan 56 65 121.680 23 32 Matt DiBenedetto 4 13 121.450 24 6 Trevor Bayne 1 10 121.416 25 37 Chris Buescher 25 34 121.238 26 72 Cole Whitt 1 10 119.029 27 83 * Corey LaJoie # 2 11 117.957 28 23 Gray Gaulding # 1 10 117.823 PRACTICE 2: RESULTS Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 77 Erik Jones # 24 33 127.178 2 5 Kasey Kahne 48 57 126.863 3 24 Chase Elliott 51 60 126.442 4 27 Paul Menard 5 14 126.388 5 3 Austin Dillon 35 44 126.383 6 19 Daniel Suarez # 2 11 126.356 7 41 Kurt Busch 1 10 126.267 8 47 AJ Allmendinger 1 10 126.152 9 4 Kevin Harvick 15 24 126.085 10 1 Jamie McMurray 2 11 125.815 11 14 Clint Bowyer 39 48 125.793 12 78 Martin Truex Jr. 3 12 125.762 13 48 Jimmie Johnson 44 53 125.577 14 31 Ryan Newman 29 38 125.550 15 20 Matt Kenseth 15 24 125.482 16 11 Denny Hamlin 25 34 125.203 17 43 Aric Almirola 11 20 125.174 18 21 Ryan Blaney 34 43 124.992 19 34 Landon Cassill 42 51 124.484 20 13 Ty Dillon # 21 30 124.419 21 6 Trevor Bayne 25 34 124.364 22 32 Matt DiBenedetto 10 19 124.234 23 72 Cole Whitt 2 11 124.003 24 18 Kyle Busch 35 44 123.805 25 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 7 16 123.387 26 37 Chris Buescher 1 10 122.818 27 38 David Ragan 33 42 122.585 28 95 Michael McDowell 37 46 122.137 29 42 Kyle Larson 35 44 121.907 30 15 Reed Sorenson 1 10 121.835 31 83 * Corey LaJoie # 4 13 120.834 32 23 Gray Gaulding # 43 52 120.569 33 33 Jeffrey Earnhardt 2 11 120.387 34 10 Danica Patrick 35 44 118.414 PRACTICE 3: RESULTS Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 5 Kasey Kahne 4 13 127.482 2 14 Clint Bowyer 3 12 127.264 3 22 Joey Logano 3 12 127.253 4 18 Kyle Busch 9 18 127.156 5 77 Erik Jones # 2 11 127.142 6 19 Daniel Suarez # 3 12 126.856 7 48 Jimmie Johnson 2 11 126.847 8 21 Ryan Blaney 4 13 126.654 9 27 Paul Menard 9 18 126.638 10 24 Chase Elliott 39 48 126.538 11 31 Ryan Newman 1 10 126.457 12 78 Martin Truex Jr. 32 41 126.434 13 41 Kurt Busch 8 17 126.167 14 3 Austin Dillon 2 11 126.109 15 20 Matt Kenseth 9 18 126.100 16 42 Kyle Larson 1 10 126.061 17 2 Brad Keselowski 6 15 126.050 18 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 8 17 125.904 19 47 AJ Allmendinger 38 47 125.730 20 13 Ty Dillon # 4 13 125.557 21 6 Trevor Bayne 8 17 125.444 22 1 Jamie McMurray 1 10 125.307 23 11 Denny Hamlin 33 42 125.126 24 4 Kevin Harvick 18 27 124.939 25 10 Danica Patrick 38 47 124.743 26 38 David Ragan 41 50 124.571 27 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 43 52 124.294 28 43 Aric Almirola 43 52 123.724 29 32 Matt DiBenedetto 39 48 123.505 30 83 * Corey LaJoie # 20 29 121.299 31 34 Landon Cassill 50 59 119.830 * Car must run 10 consecutive laps on the track to be included in the above chart. # Indicates that the driver is a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie.
Stenhouse was in on fake engagement to Patrick
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Texas FORT WORTH, Texas -- When Danica Patrick pressed the button on Twitter last Saturday to announce her engagement to boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr., social media blew up with the news -- until word got out it was an April Fools' joke. Stenhouse was in on the prank, but he had forgotten about it. "I was out in the woods working after Martinsville practice, and she says, 'Hey, it's April Fools' -- I want to send something out,' " Stenhouse told reporters on Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway. "She said, 'I've got this idea. Are you in?' And I said, 'Yeah, I guess so. Let's do it.' "Then I was on the phone talking to somebody for 30 or 40 minutes, and my phone kept going off, and I wasn't sure why it kept going off, and I forgot she had sent that out. Then I realized real quick what it was all about." Stenhouse said the joke hadn’t increased the urgency to make a bona fide proposal. "I wouldn't say there's a ton of pressure, but I get it from fans a lot," he said.
Jimmie Johnson motivated by Sonoma's moving target
SONOMA, Calif. -- Jimmie Johnson is known for his California cool, but ask him about Sonoma Raceway and the six-time Sprint Cup Series champion becomes animated. He looks skyward for the right words to say, the body moves forward in the chair and the arms come up ever so slightly. Even after 77 victories in 16 years in the premier series, there are still proverbial dragons for Johnson to slay. One such dragon is the 1.99-mile road course here, where Johnson has won just once, back in 2010. The yearning for a victory in Sunday's Save Mart 350 (3 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is clearly evident on Johnson's face as he explains why he's highly motivated for this weekend. "I still have a personal thing for me, coming here, The Glen and Bristol," Johnson said. "Those three tracks. With my driving style and my background, those should be my best tracks and they're not. And it drives me crazy that they're not." Not so crazy is the fact Johnson is pretty much locked in the 2016 Chase with wins at Atlanta and Fontana. A victory at Sonoma would give the California native a sweep of NASCAR's races in the Golden State this year. He won at Sonoma and Fontana in 2010, but that was when NASCAR staged two events in a season at the Southern California track. In order to pull off the California double, he'll need to tame not only the 12 turns of the track, but also what has been an unpredictable event. Sonoma has produced 10 different winners over the past 11 races. "It's a wild-card race," Johnson said. "… But I think we've seen a real interesting shift in the last 10 years where the road-course ringers have come in and they aren't taking the trophies home. ... I think it really shows the versatility we have as drivers and the teams as well." To Johnson's point there aren't many road-course ringers on the entry list this year. Besides AJ Allmendinger , a Sprint Cup regular who won in 2014 at Watkins Glen en route to the Chase, Patrick Carpentier (No. 32 Go Fas Racing ) is the only driver who would fit the road-course ringer description. And like 'Dinger, who is from Los Gatos, Johnson (El Cajon) also hails from California. They are part of nine California drivers set for Sunday's race, including Kevin Harvick and Casey Mears (both from Bakersfield), Kyle Larson (Elk Grove), Josh Wise (Riverside), Matthew DiBenedetto (Grass Valley), Dylan Lupton (Sacramento) and Cole Whitt (Alpine). Would another win in California be just the tonic for Johnson, who has just one top-five finish in the past six races? "Absolutely," Johnson said. "First of all, there's nothing quite like winning. Winning is very special and unique in our sport. And the road courses, I felt like coming into my Cup career, that with my off-road background I would just excel and take off on road courses. But coming in, I was good for a couple of laps and I'd melt the tires off the car and I really had to learn discipline where to make time and where to save the tires. It's a tough balance."
Busch spin leads to awkward exchange
Kyle Busch makes a great save during practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after making contact with Patrick Carpentier , leading to an interesting exchange in the garage.
The Rundown: Indianapolis driver grades
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Crown Royal Presents The Combat Wounded Coalition 400 At The Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway: 1. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Total domination. Busch won Saturday's and Sunday's races from the pole and led a record 149 laps Sunday. His average running position Sunday was 1.2, and his lowest position was third. Seriously? Busch's hammerlock on the field was on par with what Martin Truex Jr. did in the Coca-Cola 600 . Thus the same mark. Grade: AAA+ 2. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth is still winless at the Brickyard but has now finished second three times. More numbers: In Kenseth's first four starts at Indianapolis for JGR, his finishes are 5th, 4th, 7th and 2nd. Grade: A 3. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson had to do a pass-through on Lap 86 for a pit-road speeding penalty, dropping him to 23rd. Attrition and persistence led to Johnson's first top 10 since he finished third at Charlotte two months ago. Nice finish, but this team still needs to clean up its mistakes. Grade: A- 4. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Ditto the No. 11 team. Hamlin was assessed his seventh pit-road speeding penalty of the season one lap after Jimmie Johnson (same round of green-flag stops). Hamlin was running third at the time and fell back to 18th. Nice recovery, but … Grade: A- 5. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. Larson was the second-biggest winner of the afternoon, moving up four spots in the standings to 15th. Grade: A 6. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick upped his points lead to 24. Two races ago it was down to four. If you don't think that's important, remember this: If qualifying is rained out, the field is set by the standings -- as is the order of selecting a pit stall. So, yes, the standings still matter. Grade: A 7. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. Logano restarted second on the final restart but couldn't hold the position or make a run at Kyle Busch. Logano, by the way, finished second to Busch in last year's Brickyard. Grade: A 8. Martin Truex Jr. , No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing. Truex was strong all afternoon – his 5.6 average running position was second to Kyle Busch's – but he was no match for the winner. Grade: A 9. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Sunday's top 10 was Dillon's ninth of the season (20 starts), equaling his total for the first 85 starts of his Sprint Cup career. Grade: A 10. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Menard benefited from accidents in front of him that he was able to avoid to score his second top 10 of the season. Grade: A- 11. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart started third and was running with the leaders when he was caught speeding on pit road just before the third caution and had to restart at the tail end of the field, one lap down. He was still back in the pack (20th) with 25 laps to go in regulation. But then came all the cautions. "Smoke" finally got his lap back with a free pass on the fifth caution, survived contact with Jamie McMurray on Lap 166 and salvaged a decent finish on his last go-round at Indy. Grade: B 12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse survived the big Carl Edwards - Ryan Newman wreck that brought out the red flag to get a finish that belied his day. He turned 14 laps in the top 15 and had an average running positon of 20.1. Grade: B- 13. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Despite problems with restarts, Gordon was able to post his best finish of the season and overcome the incredible pressure of replacing Alex Bowman in the No. 88. ... Yes, I'm kidding. Except for the restarts part. Vive Monsieur Gordon! Grade: A 14. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Buescher recorded the best finish of his Sprint Cup career on a day in which he turned all of two laps in the top 15 and had a 23.7 average running position. Grade: B 15. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott registered his best finish since a second-place finish at Michigan more than a month ago. Grade: B 16. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. For only the second time this season, Busch failed to finish in the top 10 in back-to-back races. Grade: B- 17. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. Keselowski was the rage early on with his team's bold pit strategy, but the second half of the race bore zero resemblance to the first half. Getting caught up in the Carl Edwards - Ryan Newman wreck didn't help, either. Grade: B 18. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Despite a fourth-straight finish outside the top 10, Kahne moved up two spots in the standings to 16th, 10 points behind Kyle Larson . He jumped one driver who missed the race ( Dale Earnhardt Jr. ) and one who didn't use the best judgment and crashed with 10 laps to go ( Trevor Bayne ). Grade: C 19. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. McMurray's nice run came to a screeching halt on the restart on Lap 165 when he moved down in front of Tony Stewart but hadn't cleared the No. 14. Stewart wasn't about to lift, and the No. 1 went for a slide onto the access road before returning to the track and smacking Ryan Newman . Worse, the caution gave the free pass to Chase-cutoff competitor Kasey Kahne . Grade: B- 20. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Cassill avoided calamity to get his fourth-best finish of the season. Grade: B 21. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Bowyer contributed to the caution-fest at the end of the race when he got into the back of Trevor Bayne , who inexplicably went for the block with so much on the line (Chase standings) and running so far back in the field. Grade: C 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Wrong place, wrong time. Again. Patrick had nothing to do with the Carl Edwards - Ryan Newman wreck but still ended up a part of it. On the other hand, she finished right where she spent most of the race. Grade: C 23. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport-Leavine Family. McDowell posted his best finish at the Brickyard in seven starts. Grade: B- 24. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Mears finished in the top 25 for the 10th time this season. Grade: C 25. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Almirola, who is still looking for his first top 10 of the year, is on pace to have his worst season with RPM, for which he has been driving full time since 2010. Grade: C 26. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Smith posted his best finish since a 22nd at Pocono in early June. Grade: C 27. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Despite being collected in the last wreck of the day, Scott picked up his best finish in his past eight starts. Grade: C 28. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . After posting four top-30 finishes in his first 14 starts, Annett has four in his past six. Grade: C 29. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Since a 37.3 average finish in his first three starts of the season, Whitt has an average finish of 27.5 over his next 14 races. Grade: C 30. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Bayne's move to block Clint Bowyer on the backstretch on Lap 158 was as costly as it was ill-advised. Bayne spun all the way to his worst finish of the season and to 18th in the standings, 14 points behind 15th-place Kyle Larson . Grade: D 31. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman's day began to unravel on the restart on Lap 154. He restarted sixth, outside of Carl Edwards . On the first turn, Edwards drifted up into Newman and the No. 31 suffered major damage. With Newman sitting near the Chase cut-off line, it was important for him to coax the car home. He returned to the track but couldn't make it to the finish when Jamie McMurray ran up the track into him on the Lap 165 restart after contact with Tony Stewart . Bottom line: Valiant effort but a DNF and 10-point day. Grade: C 32. Ryan Ellis , No. 93 Toyota, BK Racing. Ellis picked up a career-best finish in his fourth Sprint Cup Series start. Grade: C 33. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson ran to form, and his 33.8 average finish is third-worst in the Sprint Cup Series among drivers with at least 10 starts. Grade: D 34. Patrick Carpentier , No. 32 Ford, GO FAS Racing . After not starting a Sprint Cup Series race since 2011, Carpentier made his second start of 2016. He finished 37th last month at Sonoma. Grade: D 35. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards was part of the strong JGR contingent all afternoon – 6.6 averaging running position – until his mishap on Lap 154. Whether it was a tight car or dirty tires, the outcome was costly as he dropped two spots in the standings. Grade: F 36. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney was collected and knocked out of the race in the Carl Edwards -initiated wreckage that resulted in a red flag. Blaney dropped two spots in the standings to 19th, and is now 22 points behind 15th-place Kyle Larson . Blaney began the day nine points ahead of Larson. Grade: C 37. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Ragan brought out the third caution on Lap 120 when his left-rear tire went down and he slammed the wall. It was his third DNF and second-worst finish of the season. Grade: F 38. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger was running 11th when his car lost water pressure. Moments later it overheated with less than 100 laps to go. It was Allmendinger's second DNF in the past three races. Grade: F 39. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Biffle's day ended after 53 laps when his right-front tire went down and he slammed into the outside wall. His streak of top 10s – three – ended as well. Grade: F 40. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. His engine didn't even make through five laps, leaving DiBenedetto with his seventh DNF of the season. "How is that even possible?" DiBenedetto tweeted. "Who has the voodoo doll of me that severely dislikes me?" Grade: F
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