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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;
Big wreck collects Patrick , Logano and Almirola
Joey Logano loses control and turns into Danica Patrick resulting in a big wreck at Kansas Speedway that also involves Aric Almirola.
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."
Danica Patrick's in-car camera during the 'Big One'
Watch as Danica Patrick hits the inside wall at Talladega after being caught up in the 'Big One'.
Danica Patrick : 'Perfect day' for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Stewart-Haas Racing driver Danica Patrick talks about seeing longtime boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. win his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega.
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