Phil Parsons Racing signs former Front Row Motorsports driver, switches to Chevrolet SS
RELATED: Full coverage of NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017 A full generation knows Benny Parsons best for his work behind the steering wheel, banging fenders and hoisting trophies competing alongside Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough and David Pearson in NASCAR’s early heyday. Another generation appreciates "BP" for his work in front of the television camera, his easy and enlightening way of bringing NASCAR racing into our living rooms and enticing new fans to the sport. He was supreme at both callings, a natural. The 1973 premier series champion Parsons won 21 races yet only competed full time for 10 of his 21 years on the circuit. His "retirement" was also highly-decorated earning him an Emmy Award for his work on the other side of the camera. RELATED: See every premier series champion since 1972 His story is a righteous throwback to NASCAR's formative days, the kind of shake-your-head tale of what can happen when great talent and the right opportunity fuse in unexpected ways. This Friday, Parsons , who passed away in 2007 at the age of 65, will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame joining Raymond Parks, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick and driver Mark Martin in the Hall's Class of 2017 (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN). "I'm not sure how he will be remembered most -- for the racing or for the announcing," Phil Parsons said of his older brother. "We're all just so proud, and I know Benny will be smiling down." Smiling was something the affable and well-liked Parsons did a lot. And with good reason. Not only was he successful in racing's highest levels, but his course to NASCAR's big time reads more like a grand tale than the methodical, step-by-step path of drivers in today's era. And for Parsons , it had the happiest of endings. So the story goes. … Parsons had moved from his North Carolina birthplace to Michigan and was driving taxi cabs for his father’s business. He met a race team at a gas station, asked how he could get involved in the sport, followed through with an invitation to join in and the rest is history, as they say. In this case, it is truly history. Parsons turned that local racing opportunity into a highly-decorated, nationally-acclaimed career. Over his 21 years in the premier series, Parsons won the 1973 championship (in only his second full-time season), the 1975 Daytona 500 , and the 1980 World 600 at Charlotte. Parsons won at 15 different venues and varied from the smallest of the small like the .357-mile South Boston Speedway to the vast of the vast in Daytona. Perhaps as notable as his win total is an extraordinary statistic that speaks to Parsons' ability to make the most out of an even limited opportunity. He finished among the top-10 a remarkable 283 times in 526 starts -- more than half the races he entered -- a phenomenal and talent-telling indicator. RELATED: More about the Class of 2017 From 1972 to 1980 Parsons never finished worse than fifth in the championship standings. And in 1982 he became the first driver to run a qualifying lap at Talladega Superspeedway over 200 mph. Parsons , who won the ARCA Series championship in 1968 and 1969, also went on to earn an IROC race win on the Daytona high banks in 1976. He collected top-five showings in three of the four IROC races that year pitting NASCAR’s best against the elites of other racing genres. His was such a robust racing career, people legitimately wondered how much more hardware Parsons could have collected if he’d competed full time more than half his career. As it turned out, Parsons would hoist other trophies -- specifically an Emmy Award. When it came to broadcasting races, Parsons was, simply, beloved. He had all the knowledge of a champion driver, and made it his passion to stay informed -- working the garage for insight and, as his brother Phil likes to joke, a good meal to boot. Fans loved that about Parsons . He was homey, comfortable, and felt like one of them. But he was also one of the best drivers to ever suit up for a NASCAR race. He brought that all to television, delivering insight and excitement that earned him the 1996 Emmy Award for his work at ESPN. "There wasn't a person that Benny didn’t know and not a person that didn't know him," Phil Parsons figures. And that is indicative of how Parsons lived his life. For as loved and respected as Parsons was by audiences, he was the ultimate big brother to Phil , who followed a similar path, racing (and winning at Talladega in 1988) in the sport's top series an, now, broadcasting races for FOX Sports. Benny was just about 16 years older than Phil , who recalls their relationship being based around the race track from the very beginning. His racing hero was also his big brother. "I remember going with my father to see Benny race once I was old enough, maybe four or five years old," Phil Parsons said. "That's really my first memories of him. And I don't have too many that didn't involve racing somehow." For Phil and the entire Parsons family, this week is the ultimate acknowledgement of Benny -- a beloved role model in the family and a genuine success story all around. "I know I will be emotional and not sure yet how it will manifest itself," Phil Parsons said, anticipating the moving Hall of Fame tributes to his brother to come. "It's just so special for my family, really a nice tribute." And really, so very deserved. &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR Playoffs contender Kasey Kahne will join Leavine Family Racing in 2018, driving the No. 95 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
RELATED: Five legends unveiled for 2017 Hall of Fame Class CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When Benny Parsons had learned that his recent cancer diagnosis was a terminal one, he made a plan for his wife, Terri, to carry out after his death in January 2007. On Wednesday, May 25 -- Voting Day for the NASCAR Hall of Fame -- Terri Parsons checked the last box on that 10-item list. "I know when Benny knew that he wasn't going to make it, his biggest fear was he was going to be forgotten. And I think this cements that," Terri Parsons said. "He will never be forgotten now, and I think his final wish ... he gave me a list of 10 things to do, and as of today, all 10 are done." Benjamin Stewart Parsons will forever be remembered as a NASCAR champion, a Daytona 500 winner and a blue-collar competitor behind the wheel. But he'll also be known as a brilliant, engaging commentator for stock-car racing from the TV booth. After Wednesday, if either of those memories were ever to fade, he'll now be forever known as a NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee. Mostly, Parsons will also be known simply as Benny, an everyman ambassador for the sport known as much for his driving and broadcasting skills as for his ability to bond with fans in the stands. That enduring popularity is what produced a groundswell of fan support on social media and an overwhelming show of approval by the 54-member voting panel, which named him on 85 percent of its ballots, leading all 20 Hall of Fame nominees. "It always meant a lot to Benny what people thought of him because Benny loved everybody," said Phil Parsons , Benny's younger brother and himself a longtime TV broadcaster. "From the fans to the competitors to the owners, sponsors, NASCAR, ARCA, whoever it might've been, they always meant a lot to him. So it was important that people liked him because he genuinely liked everybody in return. And I think he would be very pleased today knowing that this honor was bestowed upon him." Fellow Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett, whose bond with Parsons dates back to his earliest experience in NASCAR, shared the sentiment. Parsons made his first start in NASCAR's top divison in August 1964 at Asheville-Weaverville Speedway in western North Carolina. Jarrett won that Sunday in dominating fashion, but took time out of the race weekend to welcome the newcomer. That first chance meeting forged a friendship that extended beyond their driving careers and into television, where the two often shared a role as color commentator. "To have worked with him for so long on television and to see his dedication to the sport and the love for the fans, and the reaction of the fans over the years -- he was a people person," Jarrett said. "People could relate to him because he was one of them, just a down-to-earth type of individual who wanted the best for them, and they sensed that. With all of that, we became great friends." Jarrett said he had a strong gut feeling about Parsons on Wednesday, pointing also to the support he received in the voting room. Terri Parsons had a similar feeling, one that was somehow different than the previous seven votes -- all of which she faithfully attended. Maybe it was the overwhelming response she said she received from her persistent campaigning for her husband, reminding people every day to participate in fan balloting. Maybe it was her welcome upon her arrival at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday afternoon. "There was a man waiting for me at the parking place that said, 'Are you Mrs. Parsons ? Hurry, hurry,' " she said with a laugh. "I felt a little different about that. They didn't care last year if I had a parking place or not." Benny Parsons now has a permanent place, one that will become official with his enshrinement in January 2017, close to the 10-year mark since his passing at age 65. "Somewhere tonight he's saying 'fantastic,' I'm sure, and we all know the smile that he'd have on his face, and there's certainly one on mine because I've been here for nine years waiting for this," Terri Parsons said, noting the time it's taken to cross the last item from her list. "All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you."
RELATED: Full race results " Final 2015 standings " Chase Grid Below is a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared at Homestead-Miami Speedway : 1. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kyle Busch capped his comeback season in dramatic fashion, winning at Homestead and claiming his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. The title marks the first for manufacturer Toyota, as well. 2. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . The 2014 champion led 46 laps -- the most of any championship contender. 3. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski battled back after an early pit road penalty to lead a race-high 86 laps and match his best Homestead result. 4. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . The outside pole sitter led 72 laps, but was shuffled back after late-race pit stops. He picked up two spots after restarting sixth with seven laps to go. 5. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . Larson won Saturday's XFINITY race at Homestead and put in a strong showing in his third and best Homestead outing. 6. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . "It's a happy good day," Gordon said after exiting his No. 24 Chevrolet. He climbed from 10th to sixth with five laps to go in his Cup finale. 7. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth quietly recorded his eighth top-10 at Homestead in his first race back after serving a two-race suspension. 8. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Kurt Busch fell back to 41st after making contact with the wall early, but resumed running inside the top 10 on Lap 55. 9. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson fought back after having to serve an early penalty when his jackman attempted to manipulate the body near the right-rear wheel. 10. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin rallied from being three laps down after a gear oil leak sent him to the garage early. 11. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Homestead is typically one of Edwards' better tracks, and he spent most of the day running inside the top 10. 12. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Truex's best Cup season ended short of a championship as handling issues plagued him down the stretch. 13. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . McMurray capped a solid season with his seventh top-15 at Homestead. 14. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon and his team chased the handling of the No. 3 Chevy with minimal success. With 100 laps to go, Dillon reported the adjustments weren't helping as his car was sliding through the corners. 15. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush-Fenway Racing . Biffle took the wave-around late in Sunday's race to resume running on the lead lap in 17th. 16. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman sustained some right-side damage after getting caught up in the oil laid down by Denny Hamlin early in the race. The damage later triggered a tire rub. 17. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney was strong in his Homestead debut, qualifying sixth and running a decent amount of the race in the top 15. 18. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne cracked the top 10 on Lap 30, but started to fade thanks to a loose-handling condition. 19. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne saved his car from hitting the wall on Lap 40, but still sustained a blown right-rear tire and brought out the third caution flag. 20. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG-Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger was running inside the top 15 early in the race when he had a challenging sequence on pit road -- he was hit entering pit road and then blocked in his stall after a four-tire stop. 21. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard ran as high as ninth on Saturday, but ultimately couldn't find the right balance. 22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Despite getting into the wall early, Stenhouse held on to match his best Homestead finish. 23. Ty Dillon , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport. Dillon sustained significant damage after being involved in the multi-car incident on the backstretch on Lap 46. 24. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Crew chief Daniel Knost took a big swing at adjustments and called Patrick to pit road during green-flag stops on Lap 134. 25. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish sustained damage on Lap 11 after slipping on oil on-track and getting into the wall. 26. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman spent his second Homestead appearance looking for forward bite on the take-off. 27. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . After pitting to repair damage received during the Lap 46 accident, Ragan later reported a vibration and found himself racing for the beneficiary pass on Lap 171. 28. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt, in his third Homestead appearance, reported early that he didn't have any grip in his right-front tire. 29. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart put handling into perspective saying, "It feels like running Eldora Speedway (a dirt track he owns)" as he tried different lines around the 1.5-mile speedway. 30. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Early in his second Homestead appearance, Annett hit the wall, prompting a right-rear tire rub. 31. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Moffitt requested significant adjustments and had a long stop during the competition caution. 32. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Handling was an issue for Gilliland, who was running 29th on Lap 124 when he asked his team, "How many more until we pit? I feel like I'm going to wreck every lap." 33. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing . An early pit road penalty stalled McDowell's forward progress. 34. J.J. Yeley, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley stayed out during the first caution period to jump from 34th to fifth but couldn't hold off the competition that stopped for fresh tires. 35. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill avoided the multi-car incident on Lap 46, but reported that he thought he ran over debris during Lap 100 green-flag stops. 36. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . "Something broke," Allgaier reported as smoke poured from the right-rear with around 100 laps to go. 37. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto saved his car -- and kept the field green -- when he recovered after getting hit from behind by Trevor Bayne with 62 laps to go. 38. Ryan Preece , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing . Preece made an unscheduled pit stop for a flat right-rear tire on Lap 64. 39. Josh Wise , No. 32 Ford, Go FAS Racing . Wise scrubbed the wall and blew a tire to bring out the sixth caution flag. 40. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt was caught up in the Lap 46 incident and needed significant repairs on pit road before returning to the track. 41. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola sustained significant front-end damage and reported to the garage for repairs after being collected in a multi-car incident on Lap 46. 42. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Early handling issues were compounded after Mears was collected in the Lap 46 accident. 43. Clint Bowyer , No. 15, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer's final race with Michael Waltrip Racing came to a disappointing end after his car got loose and he triggered an accident on Lap 46.
Below is a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared at Dover International Speedway . 1. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick scored his spot in the Round of 12 in dramatic fashion by leading a career-best 355 laps and notching the 750th victory for manufacturer Chevrolet. 2. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Post-race, Busch said he was pleased with where his team finished, citing it had a second-place car, but also adding it had quite a bit of ground to make up to catch the "lightning-fast" No. 4 team. 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The final caution flag was a lucky break for Earnhardt, who took the opportunity to address a loose wheel. He then used a solid restart to slip past fellow Chase contender Jamie McMurray and punch his ticket to the next round. 4. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . "Nice work guys. Nothing to be ashamed of," McMurray radioed his team after just missing the cut for Round 2. For more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView . 5. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola was posting top-five lap times with 55 laps to go, but needed those remaining circuits to pick up seven spots and match his best Dover result. 6. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The decision to stop twice during the fifth caution period to ensure the No. 5 was full of fuel didn't hurt Kahne, who earned his seventh Dover top 10. 7. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth, already a Round 2 contender thanks to his Loudon victory, spent the remaining 125 laps on Sunday looking for more corner speed. 8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse restarted 10th after the fifth caution flag, and he held on for his best Dover finish. 9 . Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . Larson looked to play the spoiler when he moved into the top three in the final 100 laps, but a decision to stay out during the final caution flag hurt his chances. 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano advances to the next round of the Chase with his ninth Dover top 10. 11. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Truex, a Round 2 contender, climbed through the field after starting from the rear when NASCAR had a post-inspection issue with the flare on his side skirt. 12. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . " Man, it's never easy," Gordon told his team after a rough final restart. "I know that wasn't easy," spotter Eddie D'Hondt said. "But we did what we needed to" (to advance). For more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView . 13. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush-Fenway Racing . Biffle got sideways with 11 laps to go, but saved his car while running 15th . 14. Clint Bowyer , No. 15, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer recovered after dropping from eighth to 25th when he made an unscheduled stop on Lap 175 for a loose wheel. 15. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Crew chief Darian Grubb didn't want to risk the No. 19's spot in the next round of the Chase so he called his driver back down pit road during the sixth caution flag for a right-front tire issue. 16. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Around Lap 60, Keselowski was running 16th when he reported that his engine temperatures were dropping. He maintained and will compete in the second round of the Chase. 17. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . An issue with the left-front jack bolt caused Busch to lose ride height late in the race. The team corrected the issue but still had to make additional repairs during the Lap 374 stop under caution. 18. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin won the race off pit road after a four-tire stop during the competition caution, but his forward momentum was stalled because he was tagged for speeding. A second penalty sealed the deal, but he still advanced because he won Chicagoland. 19. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman earned the beneficiary pass after the third caution flag and managed to stay only one lap down as the race progressed. He advanced to the second round of the Chase. 20. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish and his team chased the handling of his No. 9 Ford all day, even as the track took on rubber. 21. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick worked with her team to help her No. 10 Chevy take off better around Dover's 1-mile oval. 22. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan, who fell off the lead lap by Lap 105, had previously told his team he was "too free on exit and pretty snug in the center." 23. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon's team made several chassis adjustments during the second half of the race to help him get into the corner better. 24. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears was running 25th during the first half of Sunday's race when he was hooked in the right rear and saved his car from spinning on-track. 25. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard rolled off the grid 14th and almost immediately went backward as he watched his first Chase run fade. 26. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart recently announced he'd retire from driving after 2016 to focus on ownership. But on Sunday, the driver of the No. 14 focused on pit strategy to improve his track position. 27. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier received the beneficiary pass during the competition caution, but spent much of the race looking for mid-corner grip. 28. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Like his teammate Brett Moffitt , Whitt discovered that his car improved around Dover as the 1-mile concrete oval took on rubber. 29. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG-Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger was going too fast trying to get onto pit road when he spun up the track on Lap 311. 30. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland reported a tight-handling condition during the final 60 laps of Sunday's race, which his team worked to address. 31. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Halfway through a fuel run when the fifth caution flag was waved, Bayne elected to take the wave-around like most cars one or more laps down. 32. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman and his team continually made adjustments on the No. 7 Chevy throughout Sunday's race trying to find balance. 33. Reed Sorenson , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing . Already three laps down and in 36th, Sorenson told his team that he was "just racing the track right now" when they informed him leader Kevin Harvick was bearing down. 34. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . "Holy crap," DiBenedetto said while running 37th on Lap 101 when he learned leader Kevin Harvick was on his bumper -- again. 35. J.J. Yeley, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . Long green-flag runs were a struggle Sunday for Yeley. 36. Josh Wise , No. 32 Ford, Go FAS Racing . Wise sustained minimal nose damage after making contact with Jeb Burton on Lap 3. 37. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . During the fifth caution flag, Annett reported that his entry was neutral and he couldn't pick up the gas when he wanted to. 38. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport . Kennedy rolled off the grid 36th in his Dover debut. 39. Timmy Hill , No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports . Starting 43rd at the fast 1-mile oval made forward progress an immediate issue for Hill in his fourth Dover appearance. 40. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill's fear that his engine was "letting go" was realized on Lap 372 and prompted the eighth caution flag. 41. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . A torn rear axle seal sidelined Johnson in his 500th Cup start and ended his quest for a seventh championship. 42. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Moffitt's lap times were improving as the track picked up rubber, but his car was "killed" when he blew a right-front and made hard contact with the wall to bring out the seventh caution flag. 43. Jeb Burton , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Burton spun on Lap 3 and cut a tire on Lap 192 to bring out the caution flag twice on Sunday.
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid Below is a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared at Martinsville Speedway : 1. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . In his final Martinsville run, Gordon kept alive his Drive for Five and earned his ninth grandfather clock. WATCH: Gordon jumps for joy 2. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . McMurray managed to avoid the late-race fracas and unsuccessfully tried different lines to catch Gordon in the closing laps. 3. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Two pit road speeding penalties and a spin on-track only momentarily stalled Hamlin, who opted not to pit with 39 laps to go and briefly moved into the lead. 4. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . "We might as well get an attempt at it (the final restart), but it's pretty dark," Earnhardt told his team as he lined up third for the final restart. RELATED: Hear drivers on RaceView . 5. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kyle Busch rallied after spinning on Lap 171 when he said his left-side tires made contact with water near the curb. 6. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Truex kept his Chase hopes alive with his 21st top-10 of the year. 7. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . "Excuse me, coming through," Newman radioed as he nudged Kurt Busch up the track to take sixth on Lap 196. RELATED: Hear drivers on RaceView . 8. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick restarted ninth late in the race and picked up a spot en route to his 25th top-10 of the year (second to Joey Logano 's series-leading 26). 9. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne's team made adjustments throughout Sunday's race trying to find rear grip. 10. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . After starting from the rear of the field in a backup car, Stewart quietly climbed to his 300th career top-10. 11. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG-Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger skipped pit road late in the race to move into second and briefly took the lead before fading on old tires. 12. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson made a late-race pit stop and climbed through the field after restarting 18th with 31 laps left. 13. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier held on despite radioing on Lap 216 while running 21st that he had lost all forward drive. 14. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The Chase contender was among the walking wounded early and fought to be the beneficiary with 65 laps to go. " WATCH: Edwards gets damage in contact with No. 18 15. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard slipped by a spinning No. 55 on Lap 466 to hold on and earn his 19th top-15 of the year. 16. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola was dumped onto the apron when the field stacked up on the Lap 113 restart. 17. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears started 19th and used pit strategy to run as high as 13th on Sunday. 18. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon led six laps before being involved in a spin on Lap 171. 19. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . Larson picked up his best Martinsville finish after notching his best start (ninth) at the paperclip oval. 20. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt took advantage of many early caution periods to work on the grille opening and stay on the lead lap. 21. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Forward bite was an initial issue for Cassill, but appeared to improve when a long green-flag stretch followed a spate of cautions. 22. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Brake heat was a key topic on the No. 7 radio as Bowman scored his best Martinsville finish. RELATED: Hear drivers on RaceView . 23. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett worked his way back onto the lead lap after spinning early. 24. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland incurred the wrath of Danica Patrick when he ran her up the track and into the wall on Lap 157. RELATED: Danica retaliates on Gilliland . 25. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan spun with 35 laps to go when he crossed Austin Dillon 's path. 26. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush-Fenway Racing . Biffle spun twice on Sunday -- bringing out the caution each time. 27. Jeb Burton , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Burton was running 32nd when he came down the track and into the path of Sam Hornish Jr . to bring out the 14th caution flag. 28. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish sustained heavy damage to the nose of his No. 9 Ford and had to pit for repairs during the sixth caution period. 29. J.J. Yeley, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley started 39th and frequently employed the high line to avoid any issues as he picked up a few spots during Sunday's race. 30. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . In his second Martinsville outing, DiBenedetto posted his best start and his best finish at the short track . 31. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne made an unscheduled stop for right-side tires on Lap 79 for a vibration. 32. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski quickly reported to the garage for repairs after getting caught up in the carnage during the Lap 435 restart. " MORE: Keselowski's Chase hopes take a hit 33. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport . Survival was Kennedy’s mindset during his second Martinsville outing, which included nine caution flags in the first 186 laps. 34. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . A steering box issue was a distant memory for Kurt Busch when he was stalled on the Lap 435 restart and then T-boned by a spinning Matt Kenseth . " MORE: Kurt on the bubble after Martinsville 35. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Moffitt's team changed the battery and checked his alternator early in Sunday's race. 36. Timmy Hill , No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Hill made his second Martinsville appearance on Sunday. 37. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano enjoyed the first pit stall and appeared to be running away with the win when Kenseth got into him in Turn 1. Logano later told the media, "It's a chicken you-know-what move to take out the leader when your race is over. " " RELATED: Kenseth wrecks Logano . 38. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Martinsville thundered as Kenseth wrecked leader Joey Logano in Turn 4. NASCAR waved the red flag and then invited key personnel on the No. 20 team to a post-race chat. " POLL: Was Kenseth rigth or wrong? 39. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse slowed in Turn 3 and then reported to the garage after getting into the wall and locking up his right-front tire on Lap 127. 40. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick took her car to the garage before the ninth caution flag for repairs. She later spun to bring out the 13th yellow. " WATCH: Danica retaliates against Gilliland 41. Kyle Fowler , No. 32 Ford, GO FAS Racing . A best Martinsville start was stalled when Fowler hit the wall to bring out the 12th caution. 42. Ryan Preece , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing . Brake issues impacted the Martinsville newcomer. 43. Clint Bowyer , No. 15, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer was running 16th when he was tagged by two cars fighting for position beneath him. Bowyer’s spin brought out the ninth caution flag.
NASCAR analysts Marty Snider and Chris Rice break down Smithfield Foods' decision to join Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018.
See where each driver finished the Eliminator Round opener and why RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Editor's note: Drivers in italics are in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup 1. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports Well, as always, timing is everything. Dale Earnhardt Jr . won at Martinsville for the first time in his career, a win that would've propelled him to the Championship Round at Homestead had he not been eliminated last week at Talladega. Still, he was plenty excited. "I definitely polished off the jerky too early," he said over the radio. "Cold beer, a whole (expletive) keg would be awesome. I could do a keg stand right now." Get more driver audio with RaceView 2. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports Jeff Gordon incurred a speeding penalty ("I knew it. Big mistake on my part. My bad guys.") when he was caught going too fast on pit road on Lap 192. Considering he had to overcome this severe disadvantage and beefs with Carl Edwards (who checked up in front of him, damaging the nose of the No. 24) and Ryan Newman ("What's up with that 31 getting into me?"), it's incredible that he finished runner-up to his teammate. Get more driver audio with RaceView 3. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing Speaking of incredible, Ryan Newman also had to overcome a speeding penalty at the same time as Gordon, rebounding for a third-place finish. Newman's consistent charge through this Chase has been remarkable. He keeps inching closer to that elusive first win of 2014 and it just feels like at some point he'll break through. 4. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing Martinsville proved successful for "Smoke" once again, as the driver was in contention for the win late for the first time since his return from a three-race absence. More importantly, he built momentum to carry into the end of the season and beyond, leading multiple laps in consecutive races for the first time this season. 5. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske It wasn't the round-opening race that Joey Logano enjoyed for the start of the Contender Round -- i.e. his win at Kansas -- but his fifth-place finish was enough to keep his head above water and in good standing for advancement to the Championship Round. As we've been seeing more and more lately, the No. 22 was out front for 60 laps and it wouldn't be a shock to see him win next week at 1.5-mile Texas, the type of track Team Penske has dominated this year. 6. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing While his mix-up with fellow Chase driver Kevin Harvick left his competitor's No. 4 Chevrolet with heavy damage, Matt Kenseth was able to recover from the incident well enough to nearly muster a top-five finish. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver even absorbed an intentional hit from the SHR driver: "(Harvick) tried to knock our radiator off. Check the nose for any damage." Get more driver audio with RaceView 7. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing Ladies and gentlemen, we have a Clint Bowyer sighting. Having led just one -- one! -- lap since he led all of three at Indianapolis in July, Bowyer looked like his old self on Sunday, leading 33 laps on his way to a seventh-place finish. Get more driver data with RaceView. 8. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing At times, it looked like Denny Hamlin and the No. 11 car were the combo to beat -- he led 68 laps -- and that the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was back to honing his Martinsville prowess. An eighth-place finish is still good, especially considering an early pit stop flub where the car was too close to pit wall and the temporary jack man couldn't get the handle down all the way nearly derailed him, but Hamlin still sits on the wrong side of the Chase bubble. 9. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing A solid top-10 finish for AJ Allmendinger and crew, which should go a long way toward solidifying another of the JTG Daugherty Racing driver's strong suits as they turn their focus toward 2015. He may be out of the Chase, but this team won't forget that they made it via the Watkins Glen win. If Dinger has road courses and short tracks nailed down, look out. 10. David Ragan , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports If you were told that in two races at Talladega and Martinsville, David Ragan would've finished 30th and 10th, there's no way you'd think the top-10 came at the short track. Alas, that's the case, as the Front Row Motorsports driver recovered from a spin on Lap 207 for his best finish of the season. 11. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing Early in the race, Kyle Busch struggled with some steering issues into the turns, telling his team, 'Won’t turn. Won’t leave," later asking crew chief Dave Rogers to free up the car. Whatever changes the No. 18 team made must've worked, as Busch worked his way through the field for a near top-10 finish. Get more driver audio with RaceView 12. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing Austin Dillon was caught speeding on pit road on Lap 391, a penalty that normally would've derailed the rookie and saddled him with a poor finish. The RCR driver rallied, however, to improve upon his spring Martinsville finish of 15th. 13. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing Not much is expected of Greg Biffle when the veteran driver hits the Virginia short track -- after all, he's never finished in the top five and has just five top-10s in 24 starts. That said, he's been much better at Martinsville lately, averaging a finish of 12.0 since the start of 2012, so his 13th-place finish is right in line with his recent results. 14. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing Paul Menard has finished inside the top 10 at Martinsville once in his career, placing exactly 10th this spring. In that race, he moved up 11 positions from where he started. In Sunday's contest, he started 14th and finished there, too. 15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was involved in a late-race mix-up, but recovered enough for a 15th-place finish. Considering he missed last week's race at Talladega completely, a mid-teens finish has to be considered a success for the second-year driver. 16. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing For a good portion of the race, it sure looked like Jamie McMurray was going to play the part of Chase spoiler -- a role that instead was filled by Dale Jr. -- as he led 84 laps from the pole. In this year's postseason, McMurray has shown serious speed and a competitive nature that wasn't seen much in the regular season, so he could be a guy to watch as a 2015 Chase sleeper. 17. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 HScott Motorsports Chevrolet Much like Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., Justin Allgaier missed the Talladega race because of a qualifying gaffe, so his 17th-place finish is a solid return to the track for the No. 51 driver. Plus, he improved upon his starting and finishing position from the spring race. 18. Cole Whitt , No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing Partly due to the overwhelming success of Kyle Larson and the hype around Austin Dillon , Cole Whitt hasn't gotten the attention he deserves in 2014. The rookie has shown marked improvement over the course of the season and finished inside the top 20 for consecutive races for the first time this season via his 18th-place Martinsville result. 19. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Racing While it's unlikely another one of his fans will get a tattoo to commemorate his 19th-place Martinsville finish like one did after his top-five at Talladega, Landon Cassill matched his career-best "Paperclip" finish in nine races. 20. Carl Edwards , No. 99 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing Given how many of the remaining Chase drivers finished inside the top 10, Carl Edwards ' 20th-place finish could've been a lot worse had Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick not imploded and scored 31st and 33rd-place finishes, respectively. The Roush Fenway Racing driver battled grip and water temperature issues all day and ended up being involved in Keselowski's wreck on Lap 436, but remains in the Chase hunt because of his slight recovery. 21. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports Proof that the new Chase format is doing its job: Aric Almirola , who made the Chase via his July Daytona win and was knocked out almost immediately when he blew an engine in the opener at Chicago, has averaged a finish of 26.9 in the seven postseason races thus far. This team made plenty of improvements this year, but it's clear they aren't ready for the big stage yet. 22. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports With no top-10s under his belt in 2014 and only eight to his name in his career, it'd be irresponsible to expect one to come at Martinsville for the veteran driver, given that his career average finish is 29.6. Still, a 22nd-place result is better than he's been, and he improved on his spring finish by four spots. 23. Marcos Ambrose , No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports Marcos Ambrose had a quiet race until he and Kyle Larson got into each other with 11 laps to go, sending both drivers sideways into the wall. It's possible that Larson was protecting his teammate, Jamie McMurray , as the No. 9 and No. 1 were beating and banging mere seconds before this happened, but it isn't the kind of race a driver bowing out of the sport in three weeks was looking to have. 24. Michael Annett , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing There was a five-race stretch in the middle of the season in which Michael Annett seemed to be closer to "getting it", when he averaged a finish of 22.0. It was respectable for a rookie, but he hasn't shown much since then. Perhaps his 24th-place showing at Martinsville will kick off a strong finish to his 2014 campaign. 25. Josh Wise , No. 98 Chevrolet, Phil Parsons Racing Josh Wise has run more laps at Martinsville -- 2,103 -- than any other track on the circuit, and it shows. The 2014 All-Star has steadily improved his finishing position at the short track since his 2012 debut there, culminating in Sunday's top-25. 26. Mike Wallace , No. 49 Toyota, Jay Robinson Racing Mike Wallace ran back-to-back races for just the second time this season and it resulted in his best race of the year. After starting dead last, Wallace marched through the field for his best cup finish since 2007. 27. Brian Vickers , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing Brian Vickers had an entertaining race. He traded shots back and forth with Kasey Kahne , at times blaming his car ("The car just went straight when I got down to (Turn) 1. Be sure and check that splitter. Something has to be wrong.) but then later wanting to take part in the melee, saying "Alright, we owe him another. We can do this all day long." Get more driver audio with RaceView 28. Kyle Fowler , No. 32 GO FAS Racing Ford For a driver making his Sprint Cup Series debut, Martinsville is no easy task. It showed on Lap 75, when the 22-year-old spun and drew a caution. Still, he battled hard all day to recover for a respectable 28th-place showing. 29. Alex Bowman , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing Alex Bowman had a really difficult race from the get-go. He spun on Lap 5, making contact with Aric Almirola and later crunched his hood on Lap 207 when traffic in front of him stopped abruptly. To make matters worse, he couldn't even unwind the way he wanted to, tweeting, "So to top today off they're holding the driver owner lot for an hour. Which means missing the walking dead tonight." 30. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing It's clear that Kyle Larson will need to make one of his priorities over the offseason focusing on short track racing , because Martinsville always seems to eat up the otherwise super-talented rookie. He was involved in a bad wreck with 11 to go after he tangled with Marcos Ambrose and has yet to finish better than 27th in three races. 31. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske Brad Keselowksi must like racing as the Chase underdog, because he didn't do himself any favors at Martinsville. His No. 2 started running hot on Lap 95, then he was caught speeding on Lap 163, and finally lost an axel on Lap 436, causing the biggest wreck of the day. At one point, team owner Roger Penske chimed in, "Lot of time. You'll be fine." He wasn't. 32. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports It's a good thing for the No. 48 team that they were eliminated last week at Talladega, because otherwise they'd be in a serious hole right now. Johnson's race was bad the whole way through, saying in the early going, "Weird vibration in the front. Feels like maybe some rubber on the tire that won't come off. … Might be a loose left-front. Getting worse." He later ran into Casey Mears , prompting a testy crew chief Chad Knaus to say "Try not to run into anything else.” The HMS ride was later leaking oil and limped to the garage for a poor finish. Get more driver audio with RaceView 33. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing Luckily for Kevin Harvick , he's magnificent at Phoenix and should contend for the win there. For now, Martinsville presented a nightmare race for the SHR driver, getting into a mess with Matt Kenseth that sent him to the garage with damage and a faulty oil cooler and radiator. He came back out around Lap 268, but it was too late. 34. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing At times, Danica Patrick looked to be putting together a second-consecutive competitive race, but later traded shots with a feisty Martin Truex Jr . that resulted in her No. 10 Chevy wrecked beyond repair. Her thoughts? "That 78 (expletive) took me out. If he thinks there's a problem, he better look at what he did first." Get more driver audio with RaceView 35. Reed Sorenson , No. 36 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing Reed Sorenson was another guy who was happy to see the checkered flag, since it signaled that his horrible day was over. The TBR driver spun in Turn 2 on Lap 188 with a blown tire and later spun again and smashed the wall on Lap 386. 36. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing In his final race with crew chief Daniel Knost, Kurt Busch certainly had a fast car, but his engine caught on fire late in the race while in seventh place. It ended a day in which they already had to overcome a tire issue, "The right rear is already kicking out on us." 37. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing Casey Mears was the unlucky meat of a Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne sandwich, getting squashed between the two on the Lap 436 wreck. After he was released from the infield care center, he lamented the fact that he couldn't be back on the track, because he was having a good time. 38. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing It's tough to say exactly why Martin Truex Jr . and Danica Patrick were so mad at each other; if it all stemmed from this race (which it might've) or if there's history there. Either way, the pair traded shots until the No. 78 was eventually wrecked for good in Keselowski's big wreck on Lap 436. 39. J.J. Yeley, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing Yeley has only run 15 Sprint Cup Series races in 2014 and none of them has been particularly good, including Martinsville. He's yet to finish higher than 29th this season, with only three races to go. 40. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports Of course, he was involved in the late wreck on Lap 436 like plenty others, but it was his drama with Brian Vickers that was the most entertaining part of Kahne's race. Both drivers knew what was going on, with Kahne's crew chief Kenny Francis saying "I'd say the ball is in his court now," after Kahne knocked the No. 55. 41. Travis Kvapil , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport Racing Travis Kvapil struggled on Sunday, getting into the wall on Lap 16 after contact from Josh Wise . He later said on Twitter, "Tough day for the @Circle_Sport 33. Got turned around early, then it went downhill from there. Car wasn't 2 bad. Engine broke to end our day." 42. Timmy Hill , No. 44, Team XTREME Racing Cheverolet Timmy Hill had one of the shortest races of any driver, going over the wall on Lap 37 with smoke billowing from his engine. His take: "Out early today. Had a small fire under the hood. Track staff did a good job putting the fire out. Will take the car back & diagnose at shop." 43. Clay Rogers , No. 93 BK Racing Toyota And finally, Clay Rogers made just his second career Sprint Cup Series start, finishing 43rd again after he did so at Loudon a few weeks back. 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Driver-by-driver news and notes from the AAA Texas 500 MORE: Full race results " Updated series standings RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Editor's Note: Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers are in italics 1. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports The defending race-winner looked downright dominant in this race, leading 191 laps and holding off Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski late in the race. Johnson was the fastest on restarts (186.226 mph) in his special red paint scheme for Lowe's. He may not be in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup anymore, but the win was special as it was the 70th of his Sprint Cup Series career. It was also the first time he had led triple-digit laps since his June win at Dover. After the win, Johnson told his team over the radio, "I'm proud of you guys…awesome job today." One of Johnson's teammates was also thrilled he won: Jeff Gordon . As Gordon said over the radio after learning Johnson won, "Good, yeah, thank him for not letting those other (expletive) win." " See how he won " Get more in-car audio with RaceView 2. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing Harvick spent practically the entire race in the top-five, but led only two laps on the day. His 500th start came at a track where he's never one, but Harvick gave it one heck of an effort. He simply didn't have enough to get to Johnson on the second G-W-C attempt. He also played a part in the post-race melee, shoving Brad Keselowski and setting off a firestorm of post-race activity. The veteran driver said he told Keselowski that he needed to get in there and fight his own fight. Harvick himself is in for a heck of a fight heading to Phoenix, sitting in eighth place but just six points out of the final transfer spot to the Championship Round at Homestead. With three wins in the last four races at Phoenix, will the desert be good to Harvick one more time? " Hear what Harvick said after the race 3. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe's gamble to stay out during a Lap 253 caution paid off big-time. Keselowski took the lead and would stay there for 22 laps, running well in the clean air. His contact with Gordon on the first G-W-C attempt had Gordon fuming, but Keselowski said the rubbing was just part of hard racing . The melee that ensued on pit road afterward included Keselowski, Gordon and even Harvick. The 2012 champion heads to Phoenix on the outside looking in at advancing to the Championship Round. He was on the outside heading into Talladega, and that turned out fine for him. Will he be able to do it again? " See the post-race altercation 4. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing While his bid for a weekend sweep of the Texas tripleheader was denied, "Rowdy" rebounded nicely for a top-five result. On Lap 205, he lost a right rear tire with the carcass of the tire coming out on the track to bring out a caution. By Lap 260, he was in 26th place. But thanks to cautions and strategy, the team was able to improve its track position. Take away his 40th place finish at Talladega and Busch's average finish in the Chase races would be 6.8. 5. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing McMurray was among the drivers who finished strong, as he made up 14 spots (the second-most) in the final 34 laps for his top-five finish. Of the non-Chase drivers, McMurray has enjoyed several good races in the postseason, as this was his third top-five finish in the eight Chase races. 6. Dale Earnhardt Jr . No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports Junior followed up his Martinsville win with a solid, workman-like effort. He led the way in quality passes with 64 and made up 11 spots in final 34 laps, according to loop data. Anything, however, would have been better than his spring race result, in which he exited after 12 laps due to a crash. 7. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing The end result of the AAA Texas 500 was Larson's seventh top-10 finish in 10 races, leaving the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender with strong loop data numbers. He was tied for fourth in quality passes (52) and tied for sixth in green flag passes (91). 8. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing In his first start with Tony Gibson atop the pit box, "The Outlaw" led 15 laps and looked to have a chance at the win late. With 13 cautions on the day, restarts were important and Busch had speed for them as he was the fourth-fastest car on restarts. It will be interesting to see what Gibson and Busch can do together in the final two races of 2014 as they prep for the 2015 season. 9. Carl Edwards , No. 99 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing Edwards struggled most of the day to find speed and was two laps down multiple times during the race. So how did he finish in the top 10? Edwards was the best closer of the race. He gained 16 spots in the final 34 laps to put himself one point out of the final transfer spot to the Championship Round. " See the complete standings 10. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing A two-tire gamble on a pit stop from the Lap 224 caution backfired as Hamlin went from first to 13th in a matter of three laps. However, Hamlin stayed out of trouble, spent the least amount of time on pit road and scored a top-10 finish out of it. More importantly, he is tied for the points lead with Joey Logano as he looks to make it the Championship Round. 11. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing The driver that topped 200-mph in qualifying bounced around the field. He was up front early then in the middle of the pack and then found himself towards the front late, as he was in fourth place on Lap 320. "Smoke" was one of only three drivers that finished on the lead lap to make just nine pit stops, the fewest total among lead lap finishers in the race. 12. Joey Logano . No. 22 Ford, Team Penske Logano spent much of the afternoon in the top 10 but had to overcome a lengthy pit stop of 26 seconds due to an issue with lugnuts. The extended pit stop pushed Logano back to 22nd place, and he later spun out, bringing out a caution on Lap 305. The Team Penske driver did rebound thanks to several more late cautions to find himself in good shape heading to Phoenix. Told by crew chief Todd Gordon he was the points leader, Logano answered, "can't be by much." And he is right: he and Hamlin share the honors. " See the trouble Logano overcame 13. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing Biffle had a pretty ho-hum race at one of his better tracks. For the second straight week, he finished 13th. He spent just 41 laps in the top 15, but they came at the right time for his end result. 14. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing Allmendinger gained 10 spots in the final 34 laps of the race to be the sixth-best closer, according to loop data. The 'Dinger also scored his fourth top-15 finish in his past five races. This one-car team is trying to finish 2014 on a strong note -- and is succeeding. 15. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing Newman had the fourth-fastest car during green flag runs (179.114 mph) but he had a little scare in this race. A left rear tire rub forced him to pit during a caution on Lap 321. He restarted 21st but was able to get back into the top 15. The winless driver is 11 points ahead of Kenseth, the first Chase driver in a position to be eliminated from the Championship Round. " See the damage Newman had 16. Brian Vickers , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing Vickers spent the fourth-most amount of time in the top 15 (330 laps) but finished one spot outside of that position. He finished fourth in the spring at Texas and improved to ninth place in the points standings. This finish left him in 22nd place in the standings. 17. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing Menard was the second-fastest car in traffic, averaging 178.820 mph when another car was within one car length of his under green. The result was also Menard's fourth straight top-20 finish at Texas. 18. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing Mears' finish was his second top-20 result in the past three races and a 10-spot improvement from the spring race. Mears' pit crew was fast this time around, as he spent the eighth-fewest amount of time on pit road. " Get pit road times and more with RaceView 19. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing After two top-10 finishes at Dover and Kansas, Truex has averaged a finish of 24.5. The team has made strides in the latter stages of the season, but needs to finish strong to go into 2015 with some momentum. 20. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports Allgaier, a Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate, compiled the third-most green flag passes (96), according to loop data. The finish was his third straight top-20 result, with his failure to make the Talladega race thrown in the middle of that. 21. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing Dillon, also a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, spent nearly half of the race in the top 15 and compiled the most green flag passes in the race (100), according to loop data. 22. Michael Annett , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing The Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate scored his second straight top-25 result. He even gained a spot in the Sprint Cup standings, moving up to 32nd. 23. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing The second-year driver had the lowest finish out of the Roush team. He has five top-25 finishes in his last five starts, but more was expected from him at this point. 24. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports Almirola came into this race with three top-15 finishes in his last four races at Texas. However, as has been the case since he was eliminated from the Chase, the team continued to struggle. In his past six races since a sixth-place result at Loudon, Almirola has an average finish of 27.5. 25. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing The pole-sitter for this race had an eventful day -- one that saw him lead 59 laps but also have his share of problems. Those included a pit road mishap when a lugnut fell off and was wedged in the hub, as well as damage on a Lap 309 incident that forced him to pit on a caution late. The waning laps of the race seemed to take a toll on Kenseth, who radioed in, "I can't drive this car in traffic, I just can't without crashing." The winless driver is now one point out of the final transfer spot for the Championship Round. " See what happened to him late " Get more in-car audio with RaceView 26. Cole Whitt , No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing The Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate is quietly putting together a nice stretch to close out the season. The key to his performance this week? Spending the third-fewest amount of time on pit road for the race. " Get more pit road stats with RaceView 27. Marcos Ambrose , No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports As he closes out his full-time Sprint Cup career, Ambrose has had a string of finishes between 20th and 27th in eight of his past nine races. A late accident with Kasey Kahne on Lap 314 took a top-20 finish off the table, but the Tasmania native did finish on the lead lap. 28. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing Bowyer's run of two straight top-10 finishes came to a close with his Texas result. His accident on Lap 331 set up the first attempt at a G-W-C finish. And during the middle of the race, Bowyer seemed to have an issue with contact from Jamie McMurray , though nothing happened between those two after that. 29. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports Don't be fooled by his finishing position -- Gordon had one of the best cars all day. He led 49 laps and would have won the race if not for a caution on Lap 332. Shortly after the Lap 335 restart, Keselowski made contact with Gordon resulting in a flat left rear tire and a spin for the four-time champion as Gordon yelled into the radio, "The (expletive) 2 car ran into us, that's what happened." After the race, Gordon added, "I'm going to beat the (expletive) out of the 2." Tensions boiled over post-race as Gordon confronted Keselowski and a scuffle ensued. Gordon is still on the right side of the Chase bubble, but only by one point. " See the on-track contact " See the scuffle " Hear their reactions 30. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing McDowell matched his spring result at Texas in close to every regard. In both races, he qualified 28th, finished 30th and got 14 points for his result. He also had some troubles on pit road in this race, getting hit with three pit road penalties. 31. JJ Yeley, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing For the fourth time in five races, Yeley improved his finish from his starting position. During the race though, the Arizona native was interested in how the Cardinals were faring against the Cowboys. When told Arizona beat Dallas 28-17, he radioed in to his crew chief, "Can you go down to the 38 box and get my 20 bucks?" " For more in-car audio, get RaceView today 32. David Ragan , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports After his first top-10 of the season last weekend at Martinsville, Ragan was hoping to build on that run. Unfortunately for him and the No. 34 team, that didn't happen at Texas. 33. Reed Sorenson , No. 36 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing Sorenson matched his spring race performance and, for that matter, average finish of 32.5 in 13 starts at the 1.5-mile track. 34. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports In the spring, Gilliland finished 22nd, but that would not be the case in this race. The veteran driver finished six laps off the pace. 35. Timmy Hill , No. 33 Chevrolet. Circle Sport Racing For the third time in four weeks, Hill's finishing position was better than where he started. His 35th-place result matched his second-best result this season. 36. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing In her first start with interim crew chief Daniel Knost, things did not go well for Patrick. First, she had to start at the rear of the field for a transmission change. Then, she had an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 37 after losing the handle in Turn 2. And then on Lap 250, she hit the wall as a tire went down. Not the start this pairing was hoping for. 37. Joey Gase , No. 32 Ford, Go FAS Racing In his first two Sprint Cup starts, Gase finished in 37th place. Where did he finish at Texas? 37th place. He is nothing if not consistent. 38. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports It was a tale of two races for Kahne. He ran well early, peaking with a second-place position on Lap 80. He was later involved in two accidents less than eight laps apart, however. 39. Trevor Bayne , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing Bayne's involvement in a Lap 320 accident with Kahne ended his day. As he gets set to move into a full-time Cup ride with Roush Fenway Racing , Bayne's past five finishes with Wood Brothers have been 32nd or worse. 40. Brett Moffitt , No. 66 Toyota, Jay Robinson Racing For the third time in his six Sprint Cup Series starts, Moffitt finished 40th or worse. He hit the wall on Lap 296 and finished 58 laps back. 41. Josh Wise , No. 98 Chevrolet, Phil Parsons Racing For the second time in four weeks, Wise finished 41st. He hit the wall on Lap 42 and finished 85 laps back. 42. Alex Bowman , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing Engine issues led to Bowman's sixth DNF of the season. The Arizona native will hope for a better run at his home track next weekend. 43. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Racing A blown engine derailed Cassill's day after just 134 laps and snapped a run of four straight top-25 finishes. The finish was the worst of the season for Cassill. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation