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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."
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;
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
#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
Dale Jr. wins NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver Award
MORE: Junior through the years " Relive all of Dale Jr.'s win s DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Although he missed one half of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season due to injury, race fans still overwhelmingly selected Dale Earnhardt Jr . as the National Motorsports Press Association Sprint Most Popular Driver. Earnhardt's selection was announced Friday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards program at the Wynn Las Vegas. A $10,000 donation to the charity of his choice will be made on behalf of the NMPA. It is the 14th consecutive season Earnhardt has been voted the series' MPD. The award is the only major NASCAR honor to be determined solely by fan vote. Only one other driver, Bill Elliott , has won the award more often. Elliott was named the series' most popular driver 16 times between 1984 and 2002. Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports , was sidelined at midseason after suffering concussion-like symptoms following on-track incidents at Michigan International Speedway and Daytona International Speedway . He is expected to return to competition for 2017. RELATED: Junior injury timeline "The Most Popular Driver Award is always very humbling to receive, even more so this year with my injury and time out of the car," Earnhardt Jr. said. "The fans continue to amaze me with their loyalty and the support they've shown throughout my career no matter the circumstance. "I try not to think about winning or losing the Most Popular Driver award; it's a bit of a gift, you know. Whether we win the award or not, we get a lot of great support from our fans all season long. I certainly got some extra support this year through the injury and all that stuff; it's unfortunate to be in that position but the fans were great. That was an incredible motivator for me during my recovery to get healthy. Not a lot of people that go through those types of support groups, but the fans really made a world of difference. "I was pretty open and transparent in sharing the process and they were certainly open and honest replying and wishing us well. It made the bad days better and once I started feeling good about coming back it gave me a lot of motivation, maybe a reminder I guess of why I want to be back in the car. You race to have fun and win races, but it wouldn't even be worth making the trip if the fans didn't show up. They're a huge reason why we want to get back in the car and be back at the track next year." Junior also tweeted a message to his fans after receiving the award. Thank you fans! You guys are such a huge part of our team and help motivate us in so many ways. pic.twitter.com/hvEek8hkux — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) December 3, 2016 Sprint has been the presenting sponsor of the Most Popular Driver Award program since 2014. Forty drivers received one or more votes from fans during this year's 12-week voting period. Aside from Earnhardt Jr., others finishing in the top 10 in vote totals were (in alphabetical order): Kyle Busch , Carl Edwards , Chase Elliott , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Matt Kenseth , Danica Patrick , Tony Stewart and Martin Truex Jr . The Most Popular Driver Award has been presented annually since 1953 and the recipient was originally determined by a poll of competitors. It became a fan-driven program in 1984 under the guidance of the NMPA. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Rusty Wallace set to hit the road at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace has hoisted the sport's biggest trophies and competed on its largest stages. And this week at Daytona International Speedway the former stock car champion will be bringing his A-game again competing against some of sports car racing’s best in the Ferrari Finali Mondiali. It is the first time this renowned Ferrari event has been held in the United States and both Wallace and the Speedway are eager to be a part of this internationally famed race weekend. "We're really excited," Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile said. "It's all coming together now, the trucks are moving in today. We had the car show last weekend. It's been really exciting to see all this come together in the last couple weeks, but we've been working on it since April. "It's the first time this event has ever been hosted in North America and what better place than the International Center of Racing and the new Daytona International Speedway , the world's only motorsports stadium. It feels like a fitting backdrop for one of the premier Ferrari events in the world." Wallace won't just be representing NASCAR by his presence, he's going to compete – driving for the Risi Competizione/Ferrari of Houston team in the North America series of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli. To prepare, the 1989 NASCAR premier series champion spent two days testing the Risi Ferrari at America's current Formula One venue, Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. And he’ll have opportunity to test on the Daytona road course before the weekend’s race. "I'm really serious about it and will do best job I can in the time I've got," Wallace said. "This will be real exciting and the team I'm driving for just won the Petit LeMans. "I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a lot of fun. I could have just showed up at Daytona. … but I didn't want to look stupid that's why I went to Austin, to get to know the car and know the team." This will be the second time Wallace has competed on Daytona's 3.56-mile road course. He co-drove as part of a team with Danica Patrick in the 2006 Rolex 24 at Daytona, but their sports car had a mechanical failure and did not finish the event. Wallace is optimistic and he has plenty of reason. He is long considered one of NASCAR's premier road racers. He earned two poles and two wins (1990 and 1996) at Sonoma and a pole and a pair of wins (1987 and 1989) at Watkins Glen, N.Y. He also scored back-to-back wins (1987-88) at the Riverside road course that’s no longer on the circuit. "I had really good success at Riverside, Watkins Glen and Sonoma , those were all good tracks for me," Wallace said. "So I told them, 'sure,' I'd love to come down and have some fun "I'm a Ferrari lover. When I found out I was going to compete, I said, I've got to get all right with this. So I spoke with (driver) Max Papis and he shared a couple things. The big deal was actually getting some time in a car before Daytona." The Ferrari Finali Mondiali, which Wallace will compete in, is a four-day World Championship event featuring Ferrari Challenge teams from the Europe, North American and Asia Pacific series. Additionally, fans will be treated to the displays of historic Formula One cars and for the first time ever at Daytona, F1 drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will drive in a Formula One. The Scuderia Ferrari drivers will also treat fans to fast laps and pit stop demonstrations. "Rusty's really excited and I think this is a unique opportunity for him and for us being able to promote the event through the eyes of a NASCAR champion," Wile said. "It's going to be quite the experience. Rusty is such a great ambassador for our sport and this is going to be fun to watch."