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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;
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 .
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.
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."
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."
Meet Sunday's hero, grand marshal for Brickyard 400
SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Retired U.S. Navy Seal Jason Redman freely admits he's new to big-time NASCAR racing and says he cannot wait to see the sights and feel the atmosphere at one of the Sprint Cup Series' biggest events here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway come Sunday. The excitement and honor, however, is greatly reciprocated. Redman, 40, who sacrificed for our country serving multiple tours in Iraq, will serve as grand marshal and has gifted the name of Sunday's race, "The Crown Royal presents …." from using his name to celebrating his charity, Combat Wounded Coalition. The Virginia native Redman has had nearly 40 surgeries to repair massive injuries to his face and arm suffered while fighting in Iraq. And he and his wife founded the Combat Wounded Coalition to serve military members needing specialized services because of their injuries. "I think the whole experience I'm looking forward to, no doubt,'' Redman said, adding with a laugh. "Now I've ruined it forever because I'll never be able to come back to a race because it will never be this good again. "Everything I've ever heard about NASCAR is just incredible from the racing, to the sounds of the engine and the track. People are so friendly and have a good time. The whole experience and then take that up another notch with everything I get to do like waving the green flag, leading the field in the pace car. That will be amazing." Redman said he was looking forward to meeting drivers and was especially grateful to spend time with Danica Patrick on Friday. The two talked about their different workouts and their shared love of dogs. "She was phenomenal and we had a great conversation,'' Redman said. He is looking forward to a full day of NASCAR access on Sunday. He will attend the drivers' meeting, drive the pace car, present the trophy to the winner and kiss the bricks. "This is definitely up there,'' Redman said. "It's a two part thing how incredible it is. On the one side, the experience of being here and how cool it is. And the flip side is for Crown Royal to allow us to name this race after my non-profit and to use it as an opportunity to highlight the sacrifices of so many of our veterans. … that was amazing. "Both of those opportunities are just beyond. I can't think of any better place than here at a NASCAR race. If there's any group of Americans that doesn't take their freedom for granted it is NASCAR fans." If you are interested finding out more information about the charity Combat Wounded Coalition, visit the organization at combatwoundedcoalition.org .
#TBT: Dale Jr. snaps pair of winless streaks
Two of Junior's most memorable wins came in the Irish Hills of Michigan Dale Earnhardt Jr . has a knack for ending winless streaks at Michigan International Speedway . While his current drought is only four races thanks to his win in May at Talladega Superspeedway , there was once a time when NASCAR's most popular driver ended a pair of glaring winless streaks at the 2-mile track located in the Irish Hills of Michigan. With the Sprint Cup Series heading to MIS for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM), it's a good time to look back at 2008 and 2012, when the Hendrick Motorsports driver quieted the critics and brought roars from the stands. When Junior entered Victory Lane on June 15, 2008 after he took the LifeLock 400 checkered flag, it brought plenty of relief to Junior Nation, knowing that Earnhardt's decision to leave Dale Earnhardt Incorporated for Hendrick Motorsports could pay off. By picking up his first win since 2006 -- in just his 15th race with his new organization – it allowed his fan base to exhale a bit and focus on all the wins to come in the years ahead (more on that later). In the video above, you may have noticed the final lap lacked much drama, as Junior won the race after Patrick Carpentier spun on the white flag to bring out the yellow -- meaning all Earnhardt had to do was maintain speed as he came to the finish. It worked out because the No. 88 was running low on gas -- Junior didn't even have enough to do a victory burnout and needed to be pushed to Victory Lane -- so if the final lap had been run at full speed, it's possible he'd have run out. Besides, the slow lap just gave fans a chance to cheer louder and longer. Now, as for all of those "wins to come in the years ahead" -- they didn't. Following his landmark win in 2008, Junior then found himself mired in a 143-race winless streak, equating to just under four full seasons. Gas or no gas, after a streak like that, Earnhardt made sure he celebrated with one of the best burnouts we've seen in recent years after he took the Quicken Loans 400 checkered flag in 2012. Worth the wait. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Breaking down the championship crew chiefs
In-depth look at men calling the shots for title contenders RELATED: Crew chiefs aim to keep it the same " Learn more about Newman's pit crew MORE: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Where did these four guys come from? What have they done in the past? A glance at the crew chiefs who will try to guide their respective teams to their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway : RODNEY CHILDERS Age: 38 " Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina Team: Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet Driver: Kevin Harvick Career crew chief wins: 7 Chase appearances: 1 Championships: 0 First premier series win as crew chief: 2009 Coca-Cola 600 , Charlotte Motor Speedway , with driver David Reutimann ( Michael Waltrip Racing No. 00 Toyota) Previous NASCAR racing experience • 2003: Mechanic, Penske-Jasper Racing No. 77 Dodge in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with driver Dave Blaney • 2004: Car chief, Penske-Jasper Racing No. 77 Dodge with driver Brendan Gaughan • 2005: Replaced Doug Randolph after 14 races as crew chief of the MB2 Motorsports No. 10 Chevrolet with driver Scott Riggs • 2006: Crew chief for Riggs, MB2 Motorsports; finished 20th in points • 2007: Crew chief for Riggs, Patrick Carpentier and Elliott Sadler (MB2 Motorsports No. 10 Dodge) • 2008: Crew chief for Elliott Sadler (35 of 36 races) and Gillett Evernham Motorsports No. 19 Dodge; 24th-place points finish • 2009: Began three-year tenure as crew chief for driver David Reutimann , Michael Waltrip Racing No. 00 Toyota; 16th-place points finish, which was best of relationship. • 2012: Crew chief for No. 55 MWR Toyota with drivers Mark Martin , Brian Vickers and Michael Waltrip • 2013: Crew chief for No. 55 MWR Toyota with drivers Mark Martin , Brian Vickers and Michael Waltrip TODD GORDON Age: 45 " Hometown: Camden, New York Team: Team Penske No. 22 Ford Driver: Joey Logano Career crew chief wins: 6 Chase appearances: 2 Championships: 0 First premier series win as crew chief: 2013 Pure Michigan 400 , Michigan International Speedway with driver Joey Logano (Team Penske No. 22 Ford) Previous NASCAR racing experience • 2000-02: Fabricator, mechanic and race engineer with Joe Gibbs Racing • 2002: Joined ppc Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series • 2005: Named crew chief of ppc Racing No. 10 Ford with drivers Michel Jourdain and Brent Sherman • 2006: Crew chief for Jourdain, Todd Kluever, Kenny Wallace at ppc • 2007: Crew chief and general manager for CJM Racing and No. 10 Chevrolet with driver Jason Keller, Kyle Krisiloff, Marc Mitchell • 2008: Eleventh in points with Keller through 28 races before departing to join Baker Curb Racing; three races with Scott Lagasse as driver • 2009: Crew chief for Keller at Baker Curb Racing in No. 27 Ford; eighth-place points finish • 2010: Race engineer Diamond-Waltrip Racing • 2011: Scored six wins (five with Brad Keselowski , one with Kurt Busch ) as crew chief of Team Penske’s No. 22 NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford • 2012: Named crew chief of the Team Penske No. 22 Ford with driver AJ Allmendinger (subsequently replaced by Sam Hornish Jr . after 17 races) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series • 2013: Guided Joey Logano to one win, eighth-place points finish in Chase for the Sprint Cup DARIAN GRUBB Age: 39 " Hometown: Floyd, Virginia Team: Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota Driver: Denny Hamlin Career crew chief wins: 21 Chase appearances: 5 Championships: 1 First premier series win as crew chief: 2006 Daytona 500 , Daytona International Speedway with driver Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet) Previous NASCAR racing experience • 2006: Won twice in interim crew chief role for Hendrick Motorsports with driver Jimmie Johnson , including Daytona 500 • 2007: Won Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway with Hendrick Motorsports and driver Casey Mears ; 15th-place points finish • 2009: Moved to Stewart-Haas Racing to become crew chief for Tony Stewart and No. 14 SHR team. Won four points races, as well as Sprint-All Star race; sixth-place points finish • 2010: Two wins with Stewart at SHR; seventh-place points finish • 2011: Won five times, all in the Chase, with Stewart at SHR en route to series title after learning he would not be retained for 2012 • 2011: Named crew chief for Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 team and driver Denny Hamlin on Dec. 9 • 2012: Guided Hamlin to five wins and sixth-place points finish • 2013: One win with Hamlin, who missed four races due to injury; 23rd-place points finish Note: Grubb was fined $125,000, suspended by NASCAR for six races and placed on six months probation earlier this season for a rules violation at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . LUKE LAMBERT Age: 32 " Hometown: Mount Airy, North Carolina Team: Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet Driver: Ryan Newman Career crew chief wins: 0 Chase appearances: 1 Championships: 0 First premier series win as crew chief: None Previous NASCAR racing experience • 2005-08: Junior engineer at Richard Childress Racing • 2008-11: Lead engineer, Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet • 2011: Replaced Todd Berrier as crew chief of Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet with driver Jeff Burton for final 17 races of season; 20th-place points finish • 2012: Crew chief of Richard Childress Racing No. 2 Chevrolet in NASCAR Nationwide Series and driver Elliott Sadler ; led Sadler to four wins and second-place points finish. • 2013: Returned to Sprint Cup Series as crew chief of Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet with driver Jeff Burton ; 20th-place points finish Note: Lambert and Newman are one of two first-year driver/crew chief pairings contending for the championship, along with Childers/Harvick. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Kenseth, No. 20 team penalized for failed inspection
NASCAR levied penalties to the race-winning Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota team Wednesday after last weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. As a result of infractions found in a post-race pass through the laser inspection station (LIS), the No. 20 team was docked 15 championship points in the team owner standings and driver Matt Kenseth absorbed a 15-point deduction in the Sprint Cup drivers' standings. The points penalty moved Kenseth, a two-time winner this year, from eighth to ninth place in the standings. The P3-grade penalty also carries a $25,000 fine for No. 20 crew chief Jason Ratcliff. The No. 20 Toyota driven to victory by Kenseth in the New Hampshire 301 was found out of compliance during Sunday's post-race trip through the LIS platform. The car was sent to the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, for further evaluation this week. A host of other teams were issued written warnings Wednesday by the sanctioning body: -- The Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet team for driver Austin Dillon and the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevy for driver Kevin Harvick were both handed written warnings and docked 15 minutes of practice time during this weekend's activities at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The No. 3 team failed LIS three times pre-race and pushed their current warning total to four. The No. 4 entry failed body template inspection three times pre-qualifying. -- The Team Penske No. 22 Ford team for driver Joey Logano and the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota of driver Carl Edwards both failed LIS twice. The No. 22's violation came in pre-race inspection; the No. 19's was in pre-qualifying. Both teams received written warnings (their first). -- The following Sprint Cup teams received written warnings for failing pre-qualifying template inspection twice: Chip Ganassi Racing's No. 1 (driver Jamie McMurray ) and No. 42 ( Kyle Larson ), Richard Childress Racing's No. 3 ( Austin Dillon ), Roush Fenway Racing's No. 6 ( Trevor Bayne ), Stewart-Haas Racing's No. 10 ( Danica Patrick ) and No. 14 ( Tony Stewart ), HScott Motorsports' No. 15 (Clint Bowyer), Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 19 ( Carl Edwards ), Wood Brothers Racing's No. 21 ( Ryan Blaney ), JTG Daugherty Racing's No. 47 (AJ Allmendinger) and BK Racing's No. 83 (Matt DiBenedetto). -- The Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet team for driver Ty Dillon in the NASCAR XFINITY Series was also issued a written warning for failing template inspection three times before qualifying. </p>
The Rundown: New Hampshire driver grades
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: 1. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Not even a hiccup on pit road during the second caution could derail the No. 20 team. Remember this for when the Sprint Cup Series returns to Loudon for the second Chase race: Kenseth has won two in a row at New Hampshire and three of the past six. Grade: A 2. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Smoke's third top five in the past four races gives him 185 for his career, tying Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett for 16th all time. And to think that just a few weeks ago the discussion was whether Stewart would crack the top 30. Grade: A+ 3. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. The No. 22 team used the race as a test for the September race at Loudon and still finished in the top five for the fifth time in the past six weeks. Grade: A 4. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Great finish, but the continued woes on pit road are troubling -- especially this late into the season. Grade: A- 5. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Fact 1: Taking a wave around followed by another caution enabled Biffle (and others, as you will see) to post a great finish, despite running only 20 laps in the top 15. Fact 2: In racing, you're ultimately judged by where you finish. And Biffle has his first top five since last September at Loudon. Grade: B+ 6. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. McMurray said his goal was to minimize mistakes to keep alive his Chase chances, yet he found himself jousting side-by-side with Denny Hamlin with 21 laps to go. Fortunately for McMurray, they traded only paint, and McMurray was able to post his second-consecutive top 10 and take advantage of Dale Earnhardt Jr. 's absence to move up a spot to 14th in the standings. Grade: A 7. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman was part of the wave-around gang and left Loudon a solid 12th in the standings. Sometimes, timing is everything: Newman's average running position for the day, 21.0, was the worst among top-10 finishers, just below Greg Biffle's 20.4. Grade: B 8. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch led a race-high 133 laps, the first time since last September at Chicagoland he has led the most laps and not won. Grade: A 9. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin ran with the leaders all afternoon. He stayed out on the fourth caution and restarted with the lead on Lap 269. He held it one more lap before Matt Kenseth passed him. But his dust-up with Jamie McMurray caused a tire rub on the No. 11 and a pit stop on the sixth caution. Grade: A 10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse spent all of 30 laps in the top 15 but was one of the drivers who parlayed the wave around on the fifth caution into a good finish. Grade: B 11. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney fell from 11th to 25th after serving a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 184. He was able to avoid a points calamity with a wave around on the fifth caution. He's 17th in the standings, two points behind Trevor Bayne and 16 behind 15th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. Grade: B- 12. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The polesitter led the first lap, and that was it. He did, however, post his best finish since coming home third at Charlotte in May. Grade: B 13. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. A solid finish enabled Dillon to take advantage of Dale Earnhardt Jr. 's absence and move up a spot to 13th in the standings. Grade: B 14. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Danica also was a wave-around winner Sunday, finishing well ahead of her 23.7 average running position. It was her second-best finish of the season. Grade: B- 15. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. Keselowski was having a great day until he found himself sandwiched between teammate Joey Logano low and Kurt Busch high with fewer than 20 laps to go. Keselowski made contact with both and cut a tire, ending any chances for a better finish. Grade: B 16. Martin Truex Jr. , No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing. Truex had a great car and led 123 laps until ... his gear shift broke with fewer than 50 laps to go and then his clutch went, meaning he had trouble leaving pit road and trouble on restarts. Pit road was Truex's problem, restarts was everyone else's. Grade: C 17. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. Running seventh, Larson's fate was sealed with 15 laps to go when Ryan Newman got into the back of Carl Edwards , who hit Larson and sent him spinning. It could have been a lot worse. Grade: B 18. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Menard finished 18th for the second week in a row and fifth time this season. If you think I'm counting, you're right. Grade: C 19. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Almirola's streak without a top-10 finish hit 20 races. Grade: C 20. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. It was unintentional, but Ryan Newman got into the back of Edwards with 15 laps to go, touching off the final caution. Edwards had a top-10 car and was running eighth when it happened. Grade: B 21. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger rolled off the grid 10th but couldn't convert his best start at Loudon since September 2010 into a quality finish. A penalty for his crew over the wall too soon on Lap 222 didn't help. Grade: C 22. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Running in the top 10, Busch was up top on a three-wide with Joey Logano low and Brad Keselowski in the middle. Contact with Keselowski resulted in a tire rub and a couple of laps later a blown left-rear tire. It is only the fourth time this season Busch has finished outside the top 10. Even with the blowout, he still had an average running position of 7.0. Grade: B 23. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. 'Twas not Bayne's day. He completed zero laps in the top 15, and if it weren't for the lucky dog on Lap 277, his finish would have been worse. He also benefitted from Dale Earnhardt Jr. absence. Bayne is 16th in points, 14 behind Junior. Grade: C- 24. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. This was not the same Clint Bowyer who has two wins and seven top 10s at New Hampshire. Maybe next year. Grade: C 25. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne was one of the bigger losers Sunday. He had a solid top-15 car and was vying for a top-10 finish when he was collected in the Ryan Newman - Carl Edwards - Kyle Larson wreck and his promising day went south with 15 laps to go. He dropped a spot to 18th in the standings. Grade: B- 26. Alex Bowman , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Bowman was the story of the day, subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. , who missed the race because of concussion-like symptoms. He was staring at the best finish of his young Sprint Cup career when a tire went down and he hit the wall on Lap 273 while running eighth. Grade: B 27. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Mears improved his finish a handful of spots thanks to the lucky dog on the final caution. Grade: C- 28. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Cassill posted his second-best finish at New Hampshire in his past seven starts at the track. Grade: C 29. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Buescher brought out the second caution when he spun on Lap 100 trying to avoid Josh Wise , who had slowed just ahead of him. He finished two laps down. Grade: C 30. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. An unscheduled pit stop under green on Lap 130 for a vibration costs Ragan a better finish. He was running in the top 25 at the time. Grade: C 31. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. DiBenedetto's finish tied for his best since a 30th-place run at Kansas in May. Grade: D 32. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Smith was making his first start at New Hampshire since September 2012 when he finished 16th. Grade: D 33. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Annett's run of top-30 finishes ended at two (20th at Daytona, 26th at Kentucky). Grade: D 34. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott sustained a tire rub as cars made contact behind the hobbled car of Martin Truex Jr. on the restart on Lap 269. Four laps later, while running in the top 10, the tire blew. Even with the poor finish, Elliott still had an average running position of 10.2. Grade: C 35. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Just like Michael Annett , Sorenson's run of top-30 finishes ended at two (22nd at Daytona, 27th at Kentucky). Grade: D 36. Eddie MacDonald , No. 32 Ford, GO FAS Racing. MacDonald, a K&N Pro Series East veteran from Massachusetts, made his third Sprint Cup Series start, all in the No. 32 Ford at New Hampshire. Last July he finished 37th and the year before 35th. Grade: C- 37. Ryan Ellis , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Ellis also made his third Sprint Cup Series start but first at New Hampshire. He finished nine laps back Sunday. Grade C- 38. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. A fluid leak caused Scott's brakes to fail. He finished 23 laps back. Grade: F 39. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport-Leavine Family. Electrical issues doomed McDowell to his second DNF of the season, all in his past three starts. Grade: F 40. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. One week after his best finish of the season (24th at Kentucky), Wise got his fifth DNF (accident). Grade: F &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;