Brad Keselowski shares secret to success at Talladega
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Talladega EDITOR'S NOTE: In a rare first-person exclusive, Brad Keselowski gives his thoughts on racing at NASCAR's biggest track, Talladega Superspeedway. From racing the track on a video game to racing the pack in real life, Keselowski gives a glimpse into the "moves" that translate into Talladega success. Some drivers relish Talladega. Some drivers hate it. I still remember this time—it was probably 2003—and there was this video game called "NASCAR Racing 2003 PC." And I would run it and have a great time. There was this online community, and we would race all kinds of different tracks. It was a lot of fun, but there weren’t a lot of great drivers. I wasn't a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver then, but I was a decent online racer. We'd go to all these different tracks. We'd go to a Bowman Gray or a Dover or a Michigan, and I had a blast with that. But you'd only get maybe five or 10 guys who were any good, and the rest were intimidated, so it was almost like it was too easy. So this online league I was racing with started this thing where we would race on Tuesday nights, and we had this series where we would race on superspeedways, and like 80 to 100 people would show up and race it. Talladega was two of the races, and my bother (Brian) and I would race on it together. I remember winning those races and thinking, 'That's so cool to beat all these guys' and kind of almost falling in love with Talladega online. And so the first time I went there, it was a little bit of a shellshock being in a pack for real. It was a lot different from being in a pack on a damn computer—I can tell you that right now. But the moves and the techniques and all those things are really similar, and when you can slow it down and think of it as a giant chess match, where things aren't just happening—they're happening because you want them to, it starts to breed a lot of confidence in you. You feel comfortable at those tracks. And that why I’m looking forward to Sunday’s GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). MORE: Full Talladega schedule " 'Dega paint schemes You've still got to get over the wrecks and the big packs and all those things you know you’re susceptible to. You still have to get over that, and that's a tough challenge, but the moves to me are like a game of chess, and I enjoy that game. Learning the moves is like anything else in life. How do you learn to ride a bicycle? Sometimes you bust your ass. Sometimes you learn by watching somebody else and what they can do. What's interesting about Talladega is that it seems like every year—or maybe every three or four years—a new move comes out that no one has ever thought of, no one has executed before. That's what made Dale (Earnhardt) so special there. He was always creating the new moves. Because of that, he was always a step ahead. I think that continues to happen now. The great racers at Talladega are the ones that can innovate and create a new move that nobody knows how to defend. And that's really, really tricky. It takes a lot of research, a lot of timing, a lot of work, a lot of study. But some of it's just intuition and learning the hard way, too. STATS: Keselowski's 4 Talladega wins, more I guess what I’m trying to say is, like anything else in life, there’s a lot of ways you can learn. You can learn the hard way. Sometimes you learn because you just have a natural talent at it, or sometimes you learn from studying. I think it's really all three. In my first win in the No. 2 Miller Lite car, when I broke the draft on the final lap, someone else had made that move, but they made it at a time that wasn't critical to the outcome. Going into that race, I had that move planned, but not until the end when the timing was most beneficial. That won that race, and now that move is defunct. You always think you've found the next move, but you never know until the race is over, and it either worked or it didn't. But I can't tell you what it is—it's a trade secret. I think it goes in waves. I think you have a year or two where it’s like nothing's clicking, and you get frustrated. Then you find a new move, find a new technique, and things start to click, and you feel like you're in charge and dominant. And then everybody eventually catches up to those moves, or those moves are made irrelevant by rules changes and so forth, and you have to find a new one. I think there's a bit of an ebb and flow to it. At this point in time, we have a series of moves that are pretty strong, that have put us in a position to win a lot of plate races at Team Penske with a lot of things that Joey (Logano) and I have learned and worked on together. But those moves eventually will become irrelevant. There will be something different. Hopefully, it will last a long time, but history shows it won't. That's OK. I look at probably the last three years on the plate tracks, and I feel like Joey and I have been the most successful, and we hope to continue that. As told to Reid Spencer of the NASCAR Wire Service. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Logano: New Hampshire win bigger than Daytona 500
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a first-person account from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano about his childhood memories attending New Hampshire Motor Speedway , as well as his successful career at his home race track. New Hampshire will host Sunday’s Sprint Cup race, the Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). I remember the first time I went to New Hampshire was in 1997, when I was seven years old. My family camped out by Turn 2, back there behind all the midway activities for the weekend. We were there for the weekend and watched the modified race, the Busch North race -- at the time that's what the K&N Pro Series East was called -- and the Sprint Cup race. My family actually still has a photo album of the trip. I got pictures of the cars when they came out and practiced. Looking back on it, I guess that really was my first memory of NASCAR racing. It's cool that I remember it, but I think everyone remembers the time you go to your first NASCAR race. One thing I remember is when I got to meet Jeff Gordon that weekend, which was awesome because I grew up a huge Jeff Gordon fan. He was leaving an appearance and I was one of those people that kind of sat there on the side, waiting for him to come out. There he was and I got a picture with him. It's funny -- I still have the picture. We talked about it and showed it on a couple of NASCAR shows last year when Jeff was doing his farewell tour. My Mom's thumb got over the lens of the camera, so it's one of those pictures with a thumb in it. My Mom got Jeff to sign the photo a couple of years back and she framed it for me with another photo of Jeff and I sitting on the pit wall before driver intros. It's a pretty cool memento and something that links one of my first memories with where I am today. To me, New Hampshire is something special. Really special. Every driver out there has their favorite track and a place that means more to them than others, even if they don’t always tell you. New Hampshire is that place for me. I guess it started when I was just a fan and I went to that race and met Jeff Gordon . Then, when I moved into driving, things still just happened there. I started my first Sprint Cup race there in the No. 96 car back in 2008. Then I won my first Sprint Cup race there the next year in the No. 20. But the most memorable moment to me was when we won there a couple of years ago in the fall race of 2014. That win was hands down the coolest win of my career. The Daytona 500 was neat. I mean who doesn't grow up wanting to be a racecar driver and not want to win the Daytona 500 ? But the New Hampshire win beats it in my opinion. I think you can start to see why. For one, it's my home track. Any win any driver gets at their home track is special. That is why my teammate Brad Keselowski wants to win at Michigan so bad. It's on every driver’s bucket list. On top of that, it was the most challenging, most difficult track I went to as a driver. I sucked there. I literally did not know how to go fast. I remember one time we unloaded there and I started complaining about how bad the car was. Then, I look up and we were P1 on the board. I said, "I don't know how to do this then. I don't know what to tell you, because to me, it drives awful and we’re fast." So over time, I started figuring out that I need this and I need that, and got the car kind of feeling the way it's supposed to. I had a lot of conversations with my crew chief Todd Gordon and we've worked together to make it better. Eventually, we conquered the hardest track for me -- and my home track -- so it's all just worked out and it showed on the track. That win in 2014 was just awesome for me personally. I don't ever get out of the car at the start finish line (after a win). I just want to get to Victory Lane and celebrate with the team. But that was one of those moments where I thought: "I'm getting out of the car, I'm standing on top of it, I'm going to enjoy this moment. It's going to be hard to have a win that’s larger than that." Something else that I love about New Hampshire is the fans. They love NASCAR racing and racing in general in the Northeast. It's what got me to be a fan of the sport. I hope they grab some tickets and come out for an amazing weekend of racing when we go back up there this weekend. You go to Loudon as a New England guy and those are your people. So we try to take advantage of every situation when we're up there to look for ways to help, especially with the "Chasing Second Chances" initiative through the Joey Logano Foundation. We did our golf tournament in Connecticut with the spring race, and a lot of people were able to come to it. To me, all of this racing stuff is great and all, but it's a platform to change people's lives. I feel like it's my calling. I'm supposed to use that. It's a privilege to have that opportunity to do what you're supposed to do in this world. So, yeah, I want to win races and I want to win championships, but I want to do something more with the platform that God’s given me. So through the Joey Logano Foundation and through the Chasing Second Chances program, we're trying to give people another shot at life in the New England area who were the victims of something out of their control or just made a bad decision and are working to make their life better. In all honesty, the whole Chasing Second Chances throughout the next nine weeks (of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ) is a big deal. A lot of cool things for the next nine weeks. For more on Chasing Second Chances, click here . As told to the NASCAR Wire Service's Reid Spencer .
Weather cancels final Sprint Cup practice, postpones XFINITY race
RELATED: Live weather updates " Weekend schedule After spotty rain affected events all day Saturday at Dover, NASCAR postponed the XFINITY Series' Drive Sober 200 until 10 a.m. ET Sunday (CNBC, MRN, SIRIUS XM). The second race of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase was set to be the capstone to a day of action at Dover International Speedway . Fans with tickets to either race will be admitted for both. Tickets are available here . Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Kyle Busch , Joey Logano and Austin Dillon all were entered in both races and faced the prospect of 600 high-speed laps at the Monster Mile in a single day Sunday with the schedule change. Thus, Ryan Blaney now is scheduled to wheel the Team Penske entry for Logano, Regan Smith will replace Dillon and Drew Herring will drive for Busch. Saturday's on-track action started well for the second Sprint Cup practice at Dover . But sprinkles turned to heavier rain with 15 minutes left in that practice, bringing out the red flag after 45 minutes of the 55-minute session. XFINITY Series qualifying was also off to a good start, but was scrapped after just one round, handing Erik Jones the pole position. Final Sprint Cup practice was set for 1:30 p.m. ET, but ultimately was canceled due to inclement weather. Friday's Sprint Cup Coors Light qualifying also was canceled due to persistent rain. The field was set by owner standings, allowing Brad Keselowski to start P1 for the second time this year. The Sprint Cup Series will return to the track tomorrow for the Citizen Soldier 400 at 2 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App). * Contributing: Reid Spencer from the NASCAR Wire Service &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Bowman lands first Coors Light Pole at Phoenix
RELATED: Starting lineup " See every car " Points standings " Chase Grid Alex Bowman stormed to his first Coors Light Pole Award in Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Phoenix International Raceway . Bowman, prepping for his eighth start in place of the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr ., guided the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet to a best lap of 140.521 mph around the 1-mile track. The Arizona native's first pole position comes in the 80th start of his Sprint Cup career. "Man, it's amazing," said the 23-year-old from nearby Tucson. "We weren’t really that strong in qualifying trim in practice (earlier on Friday). I don't really know where that came from, but I just can't thank everybody at Hendrick Motorsports enough. "To do this in Phoenix, so close to home, means so much to me. We have had such fast race cars. We haven't had an ounce of luck, but to get a pole here means a lot." Kyle Larson posted the second-fastest lap, turning a 140.263 mph qualifying pass in the final round in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet. He'll start on the front row alongside Bowman in Sunday's Can-Am 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the ninth of 10 events in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Rookie Chase Elliott was third-fastest at 140.236 mph, completing a 1-2-3 sweep by drivers out of the eight-driver playoff picture. Sunday's 312-lapper is the final race in the Round of 8 to determine the final four qualifiers for the Nov. 20 Championship 4 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Only Jimmie Johnson , who qualified 17th Friday, and Carl Edwards (11th) have clinched title shots, leaving two open spots up for grabs among the six remaining postseason hopefuls. The rest of the Chase field's qualifying spots: Joey Logano (fourth), Denny Hamlin (fifth), Kevin Harvick (sixth), Matt Kenseth (10th), Kurt Busch (12th) and Kyle Busch (19th). Harvick, who tops the series with eight Phoenix victories, has won five of the last six races for the series on the Arizona oval. Fourth on the grid wasn't what Logano wanted in his quest to make the Championship 4 at Homestead, but his position on the outside of the second row could be an advantage at the start of the race. "No, it's not first, right?" said Logano, who is tied for third in the Chase standings with Kyle Busch . "We had a fast Shell Pennzoil Ford again in qualifying and didn't get the pole. That part is frustrating. The good part is we are fourth and not that far back, and the outside lane is usually a good place to be here at Phoenix on the restarts. "Usually the leader takes the outside, and that works out pretty well. Overall, we should get a decent pit stall and be able to race toward the front. I'm frustrated because I am not first, which I guess is a good thing -- but it kind of stinks." The Chase drivers aside, the story in qualifying was Bowman, who ran a third lap after posting his fast time in the second, not knowing he had run fast enough to secure the pole. Earnhardt, who watched from pit road, was elated at the success of his relief driver. "This is his hometown, kind of, so it's awesome that all his friends are around to see him do this," Earnhardt said. "This is great for his career. This is exactly what we were hoping to happen for him. Hopefully, he can put it together on Sunday." Austin Dillon was second-fastest in the opening round of qualifying, but committed a "blend-line" violation with an improper merge onto the race track early in the second round. It mattered little as last weekend's pole winner at Texas wound up seventh in Friday's qualifying in the desert. Martin Truex Jr ., whose Chase hopes ended in the Round of 12, will start last in the 40-car field after his Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota failed to make a lap. After a wreck with its primary car in Friday practice, the team had difficulties getting its reserve through inspection. The backup car cleared with roughly one minute left in the opening 20-minute round, and time ran out before Truex could get buckled in. Tony Stewart , scheduled to run his final Sprint Cup race at Phoenix, just missed a chance at advancing past the first elimination in qualifying. His 137.825 mph lap was just .014 seconds slower than Casey Mears , who took the 24th and final spot in the first round. Contributing: Reid Spencer , NASCAR Wire Service &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Spencer Gallagher goes for a spin
Spencer Gallagher brings out the sixth caution at Charlotte Motor Speedway as his No. 23 Chevrolet spins on the track.
Kenseth holds off Larson, wins at chaotic Dover
RELATED: Race results " Updated series standings " SHOP: Kenseth gear Matt Kenseth roared to victory Sunday afternoon at Dover International Speedway , holding off a hard-charging Kyle Larson to score his first win of the season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Kenseth led 48 of 400 laps in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota. His triumph in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism was his third at the 1-mile track and the 37th of his Sprint Cup career. But the victory also helped stem a rough start to the 2016 season as he virtually clinched a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. "It all worked out for us, kind of the opposite as I feel like it's been going the last couple months," said Kenseth, who has just one other top-five run this year -- a fourth place last weekend at Kansas. "We've had really fast race cars. We've been in position to win a lot. This wasn't our fastest car by any means. But we were able to be there at the end of the race and pull it off." RELATED: See all of Kenseth's wins in the sport's top series Larson, seeking his first premier series win, held on for second in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet. He led 85 laps and wound up just .188 seconds behind at the checkered flag after a stirring challenge for the lead down the stretch. Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Chase Elliott surged within striking distance of the front-running pair, but settled for a career-best third-place finish. Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch completed the top five in a topsy-turvy day. A massive, 18-car crash brought out an extended red flag on Lap 354, thinning the field of contenders. After a stoppage of 11 minutes, 22 seconds, the race restarted on Lap 360, with Kenseth leading. But on the restart lap, contact from Larson's No. 42 Chevrolet sent Carl Edwards ' No. 19 Toyota spinning hard against the inside wall. That set up the final restart on Lap 366, with Kenseth and Larson coming to the line side-by-side. On Lap 381, Elliott passed Larson for second but surrendered the position in traffic three laps later. During the final five laps, Larson pulled alongside Kenseth but couldn't complete the pass from the inside lane. "I had gotten close to his bumper a couple times. I may have even got into him once," Larson said of his close-quarters battle with Kenseth. "I didn't want to do anything dirty. I respect Matt Kenseth a lot. He's definitely in my eyes the cleanest racer out there. He always races me with respect. I try to do the same with him." Two pre-race favorites -- Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick -- had rallied from their share of issues at the Monster Mile, including their involvement in the event's sixth yellow flag before the fateful 11th caution period and ensuing red flag. RELATED: Botched restart sets off 18-car wreck Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet suffered a mechanical failure trying to get up to speed on a restart, with Martin Truex Jr ., Harvick and others piling in behind him. The chain reaction blocked the frontstretch, collecting several other cars in the melee. Harvick had started from the pole position and led three times for a race-high 117 laps, but lost ground on a series of early pit stops. "We just keep getting further and further back," Harvick radioed his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet crew on Lap 172, during the fourth caution period. Johnson, a 10-time Dover winner, started 21st in the 40-car field, but gradually moved up in the running order. But Johnson spun during the sixth caution, looping his Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevy after Reed Sorenson 's spinning car dropped fluid through the first and second turns on Lap 212. Johnson avoided contact, catching a fortunate break when Harvick slowed his car to a halt just shy of a collision. Those strokes of luck for the two favorites went for naught after the large pileup nearly 140 laps later. Brad Keselowski , a winner two weeks ago at Talladega, led once for 49 laps Sunday, but dropped from contention after crunching into Austin Dillon 's slower car, damaged from an earlier wreck. Keselowski made multiple pit stops for repairs and rallied for a sixth-place finish. Tony Stewart finished 34th in just his fourth start of the season since missing the first eight Sprint Cup races with a back injury. His hopes were dimmed by a mechanical failure -- a broken track bar that punctured the oil tank -- that caused his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet to slow in the 341st lap. The result kept him 37th in the driver standings. He needs to finish the regular season 30th or better in the rankings and post a victory to qualify for the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. The series returns Saturday night for its traditional mid-spring invitational, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (9 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Note: Kahne's No. 5 Chevrolet failed post-race laser inspection station and will be taken to the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, for further evaluation. If penalties are warranted, they will be announced later this week. Contributing: Reid Spencer , NASCAR Wire Service
UNC Tar Heel J.R. Reid Joins Blaney's Podcast
Listen as Ryan Blaney, Kim Coon and Chuck Bush talk with former UNC basketball standout J.R. Reid about racing and the Tar Heels' title run. For more of the Glass Case of Emotion podcast, tune into NASCAR.com/podcast every Wednesday.
XFINITY Series GarageCam doesn't take things lying down
NASCAR.com GarageCam invades the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage at Pocono Raceway.
Erik Jones lassos XFINITY victory at Texas
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Texas RELATED: Race results " Sunday Snapshot " Detailed breakdown FORT WORTH, Texas – What a difference a pit stop made. Erik Jones gained two seconds over Ryan Blaney on his final trip to pit road, and that was all the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota needed for a convincing victory in Saturday's My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. In winning for the second time at Texas, the first time this season and the seventh time in his career, Jones led 112 of the 200 laps and stretched his advantage to more than three seconds in the late going before driving conservatively over the last three laps and beating Blaney to the stripe by .512 seconds. "I tiptoed a lot there in the segments and ended up letting the 22 (Blaney) catch us and pass us, but then I was just super aggressive the whole time in traffic just trying to make passes as quick as I could and get as many cars as I could between myself and Ryan, and it paid off," Jones said. "I think we were probably a little slower than him for the last few laps – he had so many lapped cars to get around that there was no way he was going to get to us." Kevin Harvick ran third, 21.383 seconds behind Jones, as only nine drivers finished on the lead lap. Austin Dillon was fourth, followed by Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Cole Custer, who posted a career-best fifth, and Darrell Wallace Jr., who finished sixth for the fifth consecutive race. With the final stage of the race going green from a restart on Lap 98 to the conclusion, Blaney ran down Jones and passed him for the lead on Lap 131. Jones came to pit road for fresh tires and fuel on Lap 147, and Blaney followed a lap later. In the exchange of stops, Jones went from a half-second behind to 2.178 seconds ahead of the runner-up, and from that point on it was game over. "I thought our car was pretty good all day," Blaney said. "The 20 seemed to be a little better than us for 35 or 40 laps. Then I feel like we could start running him down. We passed him before the last pit stop, and I thought our car was pretty decent right there. I needed to turn a little better early in a run. I knew it wasn't going to be that long for the next stint. "We didn't come out with the lead, and that hurt us. I think if we would have come out with the lead, I don't know if I could have held him off. He was pretty good right away, but we kind of over adjusted and got too free that last run. I felt like we were kind of even with them 10 laps into a run, but then he got so far out ahead that we couldn’t run him down. Just couldn't get there." Stage racing played a decisive role in strategies employed by NASCAR XFINITY Series regulars versus Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers moonlighting in Saturday's race. When Garrett Smithley's spin off Turn 2 brought out the fifth caution on Lap 84, most of the Cup drivers came to pit road. The XFINITY regulars, on the other hand, stayed on the track under the yellow to collect points at the end of the second stage, which concluded on Lap 90. William Byron won the stage and the accompanying playoff point, leading nine XFINITY regulars in the top 10 in that stage. In contrast, Jones won the first stage, which featured only three full-time XFINITY drivers in the top 10. Despite finishing 10th as the first driver one lap down, Elliott Sadler retained the series lead by six points over Byron in second place. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Spencer Gallagher moving up to XFINITY with GMS Racing
Statesville, N.C. (December 1, 2016) – Statesville-based GMS Racing (GMS) announced that, beginning in 2017, the team will compete full-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) with driver Spencer Gallagher . The Las Vegas native will continue to the pilot the No. 23, a number that he has raced since 2006 in honor of former NASCAR driver TJ Clark and his son, Spencer Clark. Gallagher began racing at the age of 12 in Legends Cars at the Las Vegas Bullring to kick off his climb through the racing circuit. Gallagher has been with GMS since 2014, first competing in the ARCA Racing Series and most recently the NCWTS. Over three seasons and 58 starts, Gallagher earned three top-fives, 15 top-10 finishes, and two pole awards. The 27-year-old made his NXS debut this past season, earning a best finish of eighth place at Daytona International Speedway in July. The team debuted the GMS Chevrolet Camaro at Phoenix International Speedway with a goal of building the program in preparation of running a full-time season in 2017. "I am really excited about running full-time in the XFINITY Series," said Gallagher. "I made my XFINITY debut this year and we learned a lot as an organization. Though I have raced against some of these drivers, I know the competition is going to be much more competitive so I need to be focused and on my "A" game all year. For next year my plan is to continue and grow this program, be consistent and make the Chase." Additional details regarding sponsorship and crew chief will be announced at a later date. </p>
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