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NASCAR digital and social media numbers continue to grow in 2016
During his State of the Sport press conference prior to the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier this month, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France relayed an anecdote about watching a scaled-down, highlight-driven Duke college basketball game on his laptop. The story painted a broad picture of the shift in fan consumption habits. And for NASCAR , that has meant a shift in strategy to serve fans who want an immersive experience, whether attending live in-person, watching on TV, or engaging with sports at home or on the go. By all metrics, NASCAR ’s digital and social media numbers have shown strong growth over the 2016 season, validating a strategic choice to reach race fans in the multifaceted ways they opt to consume NASCAR content. Consider these numbers: Overall, NASCAR drew 256 million social engagements across all its digital platforms, an 87 percent increase year-over-year, and a massive increase of video content views. NASCAR saw a 14 percent growth in followers across its social and digital platforms. Of particular note was a spike in the growth of Snapchat followers after NASCAR announced its partnership with that platform in February. NASCAR competitors and fans provided live content from four races, starting with the Daytona 500 , under the aegis of "Snapchat Live Story." The Daytona 500 itself saw a 63-percent increase in race day impressions, while engagement with NASCAR content tripled. "It’s been fantastic," said Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president and chief marketing officer. "I think that what it has done is validated our strategy that we set out at the very beginning of this season, when we talked about leading with digital and social and really trying to talk to our fans where they were and going to reach them at all the places they consume NASCAR . "We started that with our 'Ready.Set.Race' campaign and the Hashtag 500 around the Daytona 500 , and it’s really just continued to build throughout the whole season." The Hashtag 500, the race to win Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s firesuit, generated 13,000 NASCAR -related mentions in a single minute, a high-water mark for NASCAR content since the advent of the sanctioning body’s Fan and Media Engagement Center. Central to the success of the 2016 digital and social media campaign was heavy promotion of #TheChase across all platforms, leveraging Twitter, Vine, Periscope, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to engage fans throughout the 10-week playoff. Capturing the drama of the Chase, which concluded with Jimmie Johnson claiming his record-tying seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, was the digital film series "Ready.Set.Chase." All told, the five-film series garnered more than 13 million views. "I think we’re seeing it at NASCAR , and obviously we see it happening across the sports and entertainment landscape, that fans want to customize their experience regardless of what they’re watching or looking at," Gregory said. "If we want to talk to those fans, we have to go places that are convenient for them. "If they’re watching on their mobile app, if they’re watching via NASCAR .com, if they’re watching on television, it’s our job as the league to provide all of that great content in all of those places and then make sure that we deliver the right experience for each of those platforms."
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;
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;
NASCAR's Champions Week 2016: A look behind the scenes
Editor's note: This story contains some strong language. Rick Hendrick stands onstage in a ballroom at the Wynn Las Vegas casino and hotel several hours before the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards banquet on Friday. He is wearing an untucked dress shirt, dress pants and sneakers. In front of him sit 144 tables, each full of glasses and plates and surrounded by empty chairs. A couple dozen chairs hold cardboard pictures of who will sit in them tonight. Tony Stewart 's picture -- on table 14, like his car number for his Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet -- is directly in front of Hendrick. In the back of the hall, Hendrick's speech scrolls by on a giant teleprompter. Hendrick reads along. The microphone is not on, and though I'm standing only 10 feet from him, I can barely hear him. He is practicing modulating his voice so he doesn't yell into the microphone during his speech 10 hours from now. As owner of Hendrick Motorsports , this is his 12th premier series championship, so he has the hang of this whole speech-giving thing. To Hendrick's right, Tony Stewart -- the man, not the cardboard picture -- enters. He struts past tables, emphasis on strut. Every time I see Stewart at 2016 NASCAR Champion's Week events, he bounces around like a caged man about to be set free after his last banquet as a NASCAR driver. He interrupted an interview I was doing with Denny Hamlin yesterday to report to Hamlin that he had 29 hours left ... but who's counting? It's in the 50s outside, but Stewart is wearing black shorts and a gray T-shirt. His scruff looks like what another man's would if he hadn't shaved in a week. For Stewart, that's probably 30 minutes. All in all, he looks incredibly spry considering last night he repeatedly slugged heaping gulps from a bottle of tequila. As he nears the stage, Stewart sees Hendrick speaking. "Hurry up!" Stewart says and throws his arms up in mock frustration. Hendrick doesn't hear him, so Stewart repeats this as he gets closer to the stage. Stewart climbs the stairs to give Hendrick a hug. They stand with their arms around each other for a minute or two. Perhaps aware he looks like he came from the gym, Stewart assures Hendrick that physical contact is OK. He is not soaked in sweat. He is dressed like that, he says, because he hasn't gone to bed yet. It is 10:30 a.m. If Stewart ever had a Give A Rip gene (doubtful), it turned dormant this week. He has been in peak Stewart form, messing with everyone about everything and dropping smart aleck comments like confetti everywhere he goes. But in a few hours, Stewart will return to this stage and leave it almost speechless. Of all the big surprises in this three-day celebration of the 2016 NASCAR season, that might be the biggest. • • •
Dale Earnhardt Jr. cleared to resume NASCAR competition
RELATED: Dale through the years " Recovery timeline CAIN: Dale Jr.'s strong stand makes him, sport better NASCAR premier series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr . has received medical clearance to resume his racing career, Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday. Earnhardt Jr., 42, was sidelined for the final 18 races of the 2016 season after suffering a concussion. On Wednesday, he participated in an on-track testing session at Darlington Raceway under the supervision of Charlotte neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty. Earnhardt was cleared by Dr. Micky Collins, medical director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh. Collins, who consulted with Dr. Petty following Wednesday's on-track activity, has overseen Earnhardt's rehabilitation program and also treated him for a similar injury in 2012. "I expected things to go really well yesterday, and that’s exactly what happened," Earnhardt said of an afternoon spent behind the wheel at the 1.366-mile South Carolina track. "Actually getting in a race car was an important final step, and it gives me a ton of confidence going into 2017." Earnhardt completed 185 laps in his No. 88 Chevrolet during the course of the nearly five-hour session. Crew chief Greg Ives was on hand to oversee his driver’s efforts as well. Earnhardt, recently voted the series most popular driver for the 14th consecutive season, said he expects to do more testing in January "to help knock the rust off." RELATED: Junior wins NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver Award "When it's time to go to Daytona, I' ll be ready," the winner of 26 premier series races said. The 2017 racing season officially gets underway with the 59th running of the Daytona 500 , scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Earnhardt will not compete in the annual non-points, season-opening race, The Clash at Daytona International Speedway (Feb. 18, 8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Instead, HMS officials said Alex Bowman , who filled in for Earnhardt in 10 of the final 18 races of 2016, will drive the team's No. 88 entry. Bowman won the pole at Phoenix in November, his first in the series. "Everyone agreed that he more than earned (the opportunity)," Earnhardt said, "and (sponsor) Nationwide was 100 percent on board." RELATED: NASCAR community reacts to Junior's return It's possible Earnhardt could participate in up to two additional tests – Hendrick Motorsports is one of four teams expected to take part in a Goodyear tire test scheduled for Jan. 10-11 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway , and the season's first organizational test is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 31/Feb. 1 at Phoenix International Raceway . Collins called Earnhardt "one of the hardest-working patients I've ever encountered." "He's done everything we've asked, and we believe he is ready to compete at a professional level again and can withstand the normal forces of a race car driver," Collins said. "Dale has been very open with us, and we've had plenty of time for his treatment, so we feel very good about his long-term prospects and how this has been managed by everyone involved." Team owner Rick Hendrick said he's proud of Earnhardt "for listening to his body and standing up to take responsibility for his health. "He's worked extremely hard and set a terrific example for others," Hendrick said. "It's great news as we go into the offseason, and we can't wait to see him back on the race track at Daytona." In addition to Bowman, four-time series champion Jeff Gordon also drove for the team in eight starts during Earnhardt's absence. Earnhardt was 13th in points with six top-five finishes before being sidelined prior to the July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and wound up 32nd in the final standings. The 2012 injury forced him to miss two races; he finished 12th in points that season. &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;gt;
One crew member reinstated, one suspended by NASCAR
NASCAR reinstated crew member Michael Casto on Tuesday after he successfully completed NASCAR's Road to Recovery Program. Casto was a crew member with Stewart-Haas Racing 's No. 4 team and driver Kevin Harvick when he was suspended after the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen, the August Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International . Ryan D. Hess, a crew member with BK Racing , was placed on indefinite suspension on Tuesday by the sanctioning body.
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
NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 revealed
Four drivers and track mogul Bruton Smith make list for seventh class
Kyle Busch wins at Chicagoland; Chase field set
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid JOLIET, Ill. – In a race punctuated by a record 10 cautions, Kyle Busch streaked away from Chase hopeful Cameron Hayley in overtime and won Friday night's American Ethanol e15 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Chicagoland Speedway . With Busch's victory over runner-up Daniel Hemric , who passed Hayley after the final restart on Lap 150, Hemric and Timothy Peters locked up the final two of eight spots in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase, which starts Sept. 24 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . With a truck dialed in on Thursday by last year's series champion Erik Jones while Busch took care of Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup media day duties, Busch led 95 of the 151 laps en route to winning for the second time in four starts this season. It was his fifth win at Chicagoland and the 46th time in his career. Driving a Toyota Tundra built by Kyle Busch Motorsports, ThorSport Racing driver Hayley finished third but failed to make the Chase. Hayley was gaining ground on the race winner, when contact between the trucks of Tyler Reddick and John Wes Townley caused the ninth caution on Lap 144 and ultimately forced the race one lap past its scheduled distance. On the final restart, Busch chose the outside lane and pulled away from Hayley and Hemric before NASCAR called the final caution on the last lap for Rico Abreu's spin and froze the field, with Busch the winner. "This has just been a really good place for us and for KBM over the years," Busch said. "We've been really fast here, so it was really nice to come out here and keep that speed going… I really appreciate Erik Jones being out here (Thursday) and working it in for me and everything that he did." Two of Busch's KBM proteges, William Byron and Christopher Bell , already had qualified for the first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase on the strength of regular-season victories. Byron, the top seed in the Chase with five wins as a rookie, had a tough night on Friday, getting loose underneath Ben Rhodes on Lap 3 and slamming the outside wall in Turn 2. Byron placed 30th, but the low finish had no effect on his Chase standing with the reset of points after the race. "It was really important, too, to see the 9 (Byron) and the 4 (Bell) make the Chase this year for KBM," Busch said. "They've got two opportunities there to go for the championship. And then the 13 (Hayley) there at the end, that's a brand new truck out of our KBM stable. "That thing was fast. It was hard to hold him off. He was right there at the end, and he was really quick." In fact, Hayley though he had the fastest truck but fell victim to Busch's vast experience in the series. "We definitely had the faster track there at the end, but he blocked my every move," said Hayley, who missed the playoff by one position in the standings. "But overall, it was all I could do. … We're not in the Chase, but you can't say we didn't try." Byron characterized his early accident as a learning experience. "It was learning what not to do for the Chase," he said. The eight Chase drivers in order of seeding are Byron, two-time champion Matt Crafton , John Hunter Nemechek , Bell, Johnny Sauter , Ben Kennedy , Hemric and Peters. Kennedy got the worst of a violent Lap 112 wreck that started when Sauter tagged Kennedy's Chevrolet and sent it spinning into the wall. Kennedy, who led twice for four laps, emerged from the infield care center with a bandaged hand. "I bruised up my hand a little bit," said Kennedy, who felt he had a truck capable of winning. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;JOLIET, Ill. – In a race punctuated by a record 10 cautions, &amp;amp;amp;lt;a href=&amp;amp;amp;quot;/en_us/sprint-cup-series/drivers/kyle-busch.html&amp;amp;amp;quot; _rte_href=&amp;amp;amp;quot;/en_us/sprint-cup-series/drivers/kyle-busch.html&amp;amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;a href=&amp;quot;/en_us/sprint-cup-series/drivers/kyle-busch.html&amp;quot; _rte_href=&amp;quot;/en_us/sprint-cup-series/drivers/kyle-busch.html&amp;quot;&amp;gt;<a href="/en_us/sprint-cup-series/drivers/kyle-busch.html" _rte_href="/en_us/sprint-cup-series/drivers/kyle-busch.html"> Kyle Busch </a>&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt; streaked away from Chase hopeful &amp;amp;amp;lt;a href=&amp;amp;amp;quot;/en_us/camping-world-truck-series/drivers/cameron-hayley.html&amp;amp;amp;quot; _rte_href=&amp;amp;amp;quot;/en_us/camping-world-truck-series/drivers/cameron-hayley.html&amp;amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;a href=&amp;quot;/en_us/camping-world-truck-series/drivers/cameron-hayley.html&amp;quot; _rte_href=&amp;quot;/en_us/camping-world-truck-series/drivers/cameron-hayley.html&amp;quot;&amp;gt;<a href="/en_us/camping-world-truck-series/drivers/cameron-hayley.html" _rte_href="/en_us/camping-world-truck-series/drivers/cameron-hayley.html"> Cameron Hayley </a>&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt; in overtime and won Friday night’s American Ethanol e15 225 NASCAR &amp;amp;amp;lt;a href=&amp;amp;amp;quot;/en_us/camping-world-truck-series.html&amp;amp;amp;quot; _rte_href=&amp;amp;amp;quot;/en_us/camping-world-truck-series.html&amp;amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;a href=&amp;quot;/en_us/camping-world-truck-series.html&amp;quot; _rte_href=&amp;quot;/en_us/camping-world-truck-series.html&amp;quot;&amp;gt;<a href="/en_us/camping-world-truck-series.html" _rte_href="/en_us/camping-world-truck-series.html"> Camping World Truck </a>&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt; Series race at &amp;amp;amp;lt;a href=&amp;amp;amp;quot;/en_us/ nascar -tracks/chicagoland-speedway.html&amp;amp;amp;quot; _rte_href=&amp;amp;amp;quot;/en_us/ nascar -tracks/chicagoland-speedway.html&amp;amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;lt;a href=&amp;quot;/en_us/ nascar -tracks/chicagoland-speedway.html&amp;quot; _rte_href=&amp;quot;/en_us/ nascar -tracks/chicagoland-speedway.html&amp;quot;&amp;gt;<a href="/en_us/ nascar -tracks/chicagoland-speedway.html" _rte_href="/en_us/ nascar -tracks/chicagoland-speedway.html"> Chicagoland Speedway </a>&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt;.
Harvick earns first pole award of year at Charlotte
RELATED: Full lineup " Every car " Chase Grid CONCORD, N.C. – Kevin Harvick may have won the pole for Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (12 p.m. ET NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), but Alex Bowman continued to open eyes as a substitute driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Touring the 1.5-mile speedway in 27.547 seconds (196.029 mph), Harvick knocked Bowman (196.000 mph) off the pole by a scant .004 seconds in the final round of Thursday evening’s knockout qualifying. The pole was Harvick's first at Charlotte, his first of the 2016 season and the 16th of his career. "It was good in (Turns) 1 and 2, but I felt like I gave up a little something in (Turns) 3 and 4 coming to the checkered," Harvick said of his lap in the money round. "This has just been a fun car to drive today. Hopefully we can get it dialed in race trim." Where Harvick gave up speed in the final two corners, Bowman likely lost the pole in the first two turns, where he drifted up the track slightly and scrubbed off just enough speed to fall short of Harvick by the minute fraction of a second. Nevertheless, driving in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr . in six of the last seven races of the season while Earnhardt recovers from a concussion, Bowman stole the show. "The Showman Bowman was fast tonight," Earnhardt tweeted after the final round. "Great job @AlexBRacing and @AxaltaRacing gang. P2 @CLTMotorSpdwy." Bowman, the fastest of the non-Chase drivers in time trials, recently posted his career-best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish, a 10th at Chicagoland Speedway . Though Bowman continues to show excellent speed as a substitute, he has no definite plans for next year. But he came tantalizingly close to a monumental achievement on Thursday night. "Honestly, we didn't put the greatest lap together," said Bowman, who ran the fastest lap of the day in the second round (196.200 mph). "In (Turns) 1 and 2, we were a little free in (into the corner) and didn't really keep it on the bottom like I needed to. "Turns 3 and 4 were really good. It means so much for Hendrick Motorsports to take a chance on me for these races. I'm really thankful to be here. I hate that we didn’t get the pole. We were so close. It's definitely my best starting spot by a bunch, but you'd always like that pole." Chase drivers claimed eight of the top-12 starting positions, with Chase Elliott qualifying third, Kyle Busch fourth, Martin Truex Jr ., seventh, Carl Edwards eighth, Denny Hamlin ninth, Joey Logano 10th and Jimmie Johnson 11th. Chase drivers Matt Kenseth (17th), Austin Dillon (19th), Brad Keselowski (20th) and Kurt Busch (23rd) failed to advance to the final round. "I don't think anybody knew that we could go as fast as Bowman went in that second round," Edwards said. "That kind of raised the stakes for everyone." Notes: Danica Patrick will start 13th, her second-best effort this year after qualifying 11th at Sonoma in June. Patrick just missed advancing to the final round; Johnson edged her for the 12th and final position by .012 seconds… Hendrick Motorsports continued to show improved speed, putting all four of its cars in the top 12 (with Kasey Kahne in 12th joining Bowman, Elliott and Johnson). Hendrick-powered cars claimed four of the top five spots on the grid, with Harvick on the pole and Tony Stewart fifth. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;