Eric Wilson stepped down as head coach of Richard Childress Racing 's pit crews, effective immediately, PitTalks.com has learned. Wilson took over the coaching job three years ago, replacing Matt Clark. Wilson's plans are unclear at this time, but what is clear is Ray Wright will be the new coach. Wright has been the strength-and-conditioning coach for the past seven years. Wright was also the rear tire carrier for the No. 27 Chevrolet SS of Paul Menard . Taking his place over the wall will be Adam Mestemacher. As far as the strength-conditioning role, Tyler Rader will likely take over the void for the foreseeable future. Rader also fuels the No. 3 Chevrolet SS of Austin Dillon for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. RCR officials declined comment. For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com .
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The teams of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch head into this weekend's season-ending, championship-determining race with three warnings each, which could be an issue should either have trouble getting through inspection prior to Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). Harvick's Stewart-Haas Racing team and Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing squad are two of the four teams in the Championship Round, which is the final round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Also in contention for the 2015 title are Jeff Gordon ( Hendrick Motorsports ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ). Teams lose their opportunity in the pit selection process following qualifying if they receive a fourth warning during inspection. Failing to clear one of the inspection checkpoints, such as the Laser Inspection Station, typically results in a warning being issued. Rodney Childers, crew chief for Harvick, said he isn't concerned about a potential penalty arising at Homestead this weekend. "We've been at three (warnings) for a long time now," Childers said during a teleconference on Wednesday, "and we haven't had any issues at all. You've just got to be a little bit careful going through for qualifying and that type of thing. But honestly, the past month it hasn't even been an issue at all." Earlier this season, teams complained that the LIS platform, which measures specific points underneath the car, wasn't consistent. Childers said that hasn't been the case of late. "NASCAR is doing a really good job with that thing and changed a few lasers out on it," he said. "(Last week) at Phoenix it was really consistent. You've just got to do the best job you can and play it a little bit conservative on some things and get through qualifying and get your pit selection done." Adam Stevens, crew chief for Busch, agreed with Childers, noting that his team will "make a couple extra trips across the platform before practice starts to make sure we know exactly where our stuff is. "If there's anything that's marginal or a number we're chasing, we'll make sure that we're on the short side of it rather than taking a chance of having to go around (again)." The No. 18 team picked up its third warning last weekend when it required more than two trips through the LIS during pre-race inspection. Other Sprint Cup teams receiving warnings for inspection issues at Phoenix were the No. 16 of Roush Fenway Racing ( Greg Biffle ), the No. 20 of Joe Gibbs Racing ( Erik Jones , driving Matt Kenseth 's car), the No. 10 of Stewart-Haas Racing ( Danica Patrick ), the No. 27 of Richard Childress Racing ( Paul Menard ) and the No. 46 of HScott Motorsports ( Michael Annett ). The 20, 46, and 10 teams will also be docked 15 minutes of practice time Friday for failing to arrive in the inspection line on time. Non-Chase teams heading into this weekend's event with three warnings are the teams of Alex Bowman ( Tommy Baldwin Racing ), Denny Hamlin (JGR) and Jeb Burton ( BK Racing ), although none of those occurred last week. When it's time to go Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ) was penalized last week at Phoenix for beating the leader to the start/finish line at the start of the race, the first time this season the infraction had been called in the Sprint Cup Series. RELATED: Watch video of the incident The NASCAR Rule Book allows a driver other than the leader to cross the line first only during a restart, not the initial green-flag start of a race. Busch, who started the race alongside pole winner Jimmie Johnson , had to serve a pass-through penalty. Although he was able to remain on the lead lap, he fell from the front of the pack to 43rd. While able to rally to a seventh-place finish, Busch was one of four drivers eliminated from Chase contention at PIR. Brad Keselowski was penalized earlier this season at New Hampshire when he jumped a Lap 242 restart, beating the race leader (control car) out of the restart zone. Although he did not beat the leader, Greg Biffle , to the start/finish line, NASCAR officials judged that he accelerated through the defined restart zone ahead of Biffle. Earlier this year, NASCAR added a camera and additional official in the restart zone area to better police restarts. Three other drivers -- AJ Allmendinger , Justin Allgaier and Josh Wise -- have been penalized for passing on a start/restart. Drivers are not allowed to change lanes or pass other cars until ther have crossed the start/finish line. Homestead Test shortened NASCAR officials have announced that the Goodyear tire test, originally slated for Dec. 14-15 at Homestead-Miami Speedway , has been shortened to a single-day test on Dec. 14. Organizations scheduled to participate in the test are Stewart-Haas Racing (Chevrolet), Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet), Richard Petty Motorsports (Ford) and Furniture Row Racing (Toyota). It will be Furniture Row Racing 's first on-track outing under the Toyota banner. The No. 78 team, with driver Martin Truex, currently fields Chevrolet entries. Tuesday, Dec. 15 is a scheduled rain date in case of inclement weather.
RELATED: Full race lineup Weather played a role in Saturday's XFINITY Series qualifying at Homestead-Miami Speedway , canceling the final round and handing the pole to second round leader Kyle Busch . The Joe Gibbs Racing driver wheeled his No. 54 Toyota at 168.140 mph to earn his fifth pole of the season. The middle round of qualifying became a race against weather for drivers, as rain drops decorated the windshields toward the end of the session. Qualifying was ultimately called at the end of the second session. Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate and Busch's JGR teammate Daniel Suarez earned the outside pole position, piloting his No. 18 Toyota at 168.046 mph for the front row spot. Richard Childress Racing 's Austin Dillon (167.266 mph) and Brian Scott (167.219 mph) earned the third and fourth starting spots, respectively. Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five with a fast lap of 167.110 mph in his No. 22 Ford. Points leader and title contender Chris Buescher earned an 11th -place starting position, while fellow championship-contending driver Chase Elliott qualified 13th. The XFINITY Series is back on track for the Ford EcoBoost 300 (2:45 p.m. ET, NBC/Live Extra/MRN/SiriusXM).
RELATED: Full results " Final standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Three contenders with outside chances at winning the season-long NASCAR XFINITY Series fight had their brush with taking the trophy away from eventual champ Chris Buescher . Unfortunately, the trio had another brush -- with the Homestead-Miami Speedway wall during Saturday's season finale. The latter brushes aside, title hopefuls Ty Dillon , Chase Elliott and Regan Smith finished seventh, eighth and ninth respectfully, coming up short in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 300 . The results -- combined with Buescher's 11th-place effort Saturday -- left Elliott second (15 points back), Dillon third (-18) and Smith fourth (-22) in the final standings. All three emerged from scraped Chevrolets with wishes of what might've been. Elliott came closest, but was unable to take a repeat XFINITY championship with him as he moves to the Sprint Cup Series next year as Jeff Gordon 's replacement with Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott ranked either second or third for the majority of the season, closing the year with seven consecutive top-10 finishes. The 19-year-old notched one win (in September at Richmond), but said those opportunities were fleeting over the course of the 33-race season. "Yeah, chalk it up to we got beat and didn't win enough races. That's the bottom line," said Elliott, who won three times as a championship-winning rookie in 2014. "… The most important thing in this sport is being able to win and give yourself chances to win a race every weekend. We race from February to November, and we didn't give ourselves enough chances. I didn't do a good enough job to put ourselves in position to go and try to win races. "That's the most important thing, and like I said, that's what I chalk it up to is just not being in contention enough." Dillon led the standings for the majority of the spring and soldiered ahead after a midseason crew chief change. His biggest lament came in October at Dover International Speedway , where a blown tire and slap of the outside wall with his Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet left him with a costly 28th-place finish. Dillon righted the ship slightly, closing out the year with five straight top-10 finishes to take third place away from Smith down the stretch. "It's a good year," Dillon said. "It's always a good thing to be disappointed with not winning the championship but having an opportunity, I feel like. Just proud of my guys' effort. We really turned it around the second half of the year and were a championship team. If Dover wouldn't have happened, there's always ifs and buts, but if Dover wouldn't have happened, we would've probably would've won this championship by about 15 points. So, I'm proud of what we did in the second half. … "We'll be back next year and we won't be sitting here third in points. Hopefully, we'll be lifting that trophy." Smith had the best closing kick of the four title hopefuls, coming in the face of job uncertainty as his three-year tenure at JR Motorsports drew to a close. The 32-year-old veteran won twice, with his first victory of the season at Mid-Ohio touching off a streak of 13 consecutive top-10 finishes to round out the year. The steady streak didn't unseat any of the three drivers ahead of him, but Smith said he hoped it was enough to draw interest from a prospective team owner for 2016. "I'm glad we were in the conversation," Smith said of his title campaign. "There's a couple points in the air that probably shouldn't have been and probably really weren't just because of common mistakes or other people's mistakes on the race track. So that's good. I'm frustrated today. I guess that's the only thing you focus on is how your night went tonight and we really struggled. … "We'll see how things play out for next year. I know what I'm capable of in a race car and I've still got some championships left in me, and we need to go get one."
RELATED: Play Fantasy Live now It's all down to this. Championships on the line both on the track and in Fantasy Live. Time to do what it takes to grab the title. Sure, the Championship 4 drivers have plenty on the line this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) but that doesn't mean that there are not other worthwhile plays to fill out your lineup in Fantasy Live. Make sure to set your lineup by using the information below to guide your picks. All stats listed -- place differential, fastest laps run and laps led – are Homestead-Miami Speedway specific and categories used in Fantasy Live scoring. Last week, the data showed that Kevin Harvick was a great play for Phoenix and while he did not win, he did have the most laps led and a runner-up finish. We also recommended Aric Almirola as a sleeper pick and his top 10 proved that to be a solid selection. Good luck this weekend! Laps led, since 2005 1. Carl Edwards , 560 2. Matt Kenseth , 449 t-3. Jeff Gordon , 237 t-3. Kyle Busch , 237 Fastest laps run, since 2005 1. Carl Edwards , 267 2. Jeff Gordon , 170 3. Martin Truex Jr ., 168 Place differential, 2014 fall race 1. Ryan Newman , +19 2. Cole Whitt , +16 t-3. Danica Patrick , +14 t-3. Jamie McMurray , +14 t-3. Kyle Larson , +14 Sleeper picks Kasey Kahne : Since his first start at Homestead in 2004, Kahne has collected 10 straight top 25s there. He also has back-to-back 13th-or-better finishes in his last two starts. Owning an average finish of 14.9, Kahne has also led 107 laps, has four top 10s and an average running position of 12.6 (eighth-best). The Hendrick Motorsports driver's value is undoubtedly there for his asking price. Ryan Newman : Newman remains a feature sleeper play at Homestead. Over the past three races, the Richard Childress Racing driver is averaging 44.0 fantasy points per race, good for 10th among active NASCAR competitors. Coming off a career-best second-place finish at Homestead in 2014, Newman will be looking to improve that. He has two top fives and five top 10s in 13 starts at Miami. Value picks Ty Dillon : Dillon also comes with risk due to his part-time Cup eligibility, so he carries a bit of a gamble. In his four Cup races this season, Dillon has improved in each race by at least two spots with finishes of 28th, 26th, 18th and a season best 14th at Michigan. He owns a season place differential of +7 and an average finish of 21.5. The value is "must have" at Dillon’s asking price for Homestead. Justin Allgaier : Fresh off a 17th-place finish at Phoenix, Allgaier makes a stout value play for Homestead this weekend. In his one career race at Homestead in 2014, he started 14th and finished 15th. The HScott Motorsports driver ranks a remarkable 20th among NASCAR drivers in fantasy points averaged over his last three races with 17.4 per race.
RELATED: Charlotte race results " Updated series standings CONCORD, N.C. -- The conversation was brief and casual, a "congratulations" of sorts for how well his Toyota teams appeared to be performing this season, particularly as NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup rolled ahead. "We said all along we hoped to have as many as five teams in the Chase, and hopefully to still have at least two when we go to Homestead," David Wilson, President and General Manager for Toyota Racing Development, USA, said before Sunday's rescheduled Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway got underway. But, he cautioned, with the elimination-style Chase format, officials don't look any further ahead than the race at hand. "You just never know what can happen," he said. Hours later, the fortunes for two of the more dominant Toyota entries, both from Joe Gibbs Racing , had taken a turn for the worse. Matt Kenseth , five times a winner this season, was in the garage, his day undone by multiple issues in the opening race of the Contender Round of the Chase. His 42nd-place finish left Kenseth, the pole winner at CMS, 12th in the Chase standings. Two opportunities remain -- at Kansas and Talladega -- to win or climb back inside the top eight and advance to the next round, which is the Eliminator Round. "These are never the kind of days you want to have," said Kenseth, who led 72 laps in the 334-lap race. "We're real fast up front and we're real tight in traffic." A four-tire stop dropped Kenseth from the lead to 13th for a Lap 81 restart while contact with Ryan Newman ( Richard Childress Racing ) sent him into the wall following a later restart. The team made numerous pit stops under ensuing caution periods to make repairs, but when Kenseth bounced off the wall at lap 240, his day was done. "We got behind on that first pit deal and then didn't catch the cautions right … I overshot my pit (stall) and put us in the back so it's just like one thing led to another and led to another," he said. "We shouldn't have been back there to start with. My mistakes cost us today so we'll just move on from this and get ready for Kansas." RELATED: Watch Kenseth, Newman make contact Teammate Kyle Busch had a day worth forgetting as well, but the winner of four races this season was still on the track when the checkered flag waved. Busch had qualified second, ran in the top five for much of the race, and was third when contact with Kyle Larson during a Lap 195 caution occurred. "What the (expletive) was he thinking?? Busch asked crew chief Adam Stevens via radio after the incident. "He was never going to make the commitment cone anyway." RELATED: Busch disappointed after rough day at Charlotte Busch had dropped low as if to enter pit road, then made a move back toward the track. Larson, running second, had made a late decision to dive onto pit road, and the two cars collided. Larson said afterward that his team had instructed him to "do what everybody around me was doing, and the No. 22 (of race leader Joey Logano ) was staying out, so I was committed to staying out." At the last minute, he said, his crew instructed him to pit. "I hung a left and Kyle was there," Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) said. "I feel really terrible to ruin their day and hopefully it didn't hurt their chances of transferring through this round. I know they deserve a top-three finish for sure. I felt awful immediately and still do. I hate it." While Kenseth and Busch had their issues, JGR drivers Denny Hamlin (fourth) and Carl Edwards (sixth) escaped the opening race of the second round relatively unscathed. Hamlin's No. 11 survived battery issues that threatened to take him out of contention. "I ran on the wrong battery all day," he said. "… My mistake." Edwards said track position was the key at CMS, noting that, "I tried everything I possibly could there at the end. I got about 35 feet from the 41 car (of fifth-place Kurt Busch ) and that was as close as I could get." In spite of the turn of events for his teammates, Edwards said JGR is as strong as ever. "I feel like any one of us could win at Kansas, and any one of us could win at Talladega," he said. "There's no telling what could happen. We all ran well (at times) and that's the key, having that little bit of speed."
RELATED: Race results " 2015 final standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Brian Scott stood beside his car on pit road at Homestead-Miami Speedway satisfied but not thrilled. And somewhat emotional. Scott finished fourth in his No. 2 Shore Lodge Chevrolet and made a respectable run to be up front in the waning laps of Saturday's Ford EcoBoost 300 season finale only to finish fourth -- behind two Sprint Cup regulars. Scott is confident he can win these races and is not satisfied with top-five finishes. The most immediate big issue is "if" he will take another fulltime shot in these ranks next year. "Just trying to get all the horsepower I could out of this Chevy Camaro,'' Scott said after the race. "I needed every trick that we had to beat those guys. I was just trying really hard on those restarts to get clean air and see if I could block. The right car won the race. The four-two (No. 42 of Kyle Larson ) was unbelievably fast. "We're disappointed and obviously not where we should have been in the points. We decided after a couple mechanical failures and some wrecks of my doing that we weren't going to win the championship so we wanted to win races. That hurt our consistency but we've led a lot of laps at different tracks and qualified up front consistently. Those are things I’m really proud of. I'm kind of sad it's all over with." The big question going forward is whether it's over, paused, or about to reinvigorate. Both Scott and his wife Whitney Kay have been genuinely dismayed about the uncertainly. His wife tweeted out a photo via Instagram in the closing laps: It's a bittersweet weekend here for us! So proud of my hubs for always having a smile on his face… https://t.co/e7u9SLgcIj — whitney kay scott (@whitneykay_) November 21, 2015 Scott essentially agreed that he would seek sponsors, work and rely on his faith during this uncertainty. "There are plans, but the plans are we're still working on it,'' Scott said. "I've just been praying a lot and putting the faith in the good Lord whatever direction he wants me to go in. "We will just keep working on it and see if anything happens and opens up. Just praying a lot as a family and for the right opportunity to open up and lead us along." His current team owner Richard Childress was non-committal after the race, but remained hopeful. "Not right now, but we're going to be working on him,'' Childress said when asked about a potential deal for his driver. "I like Brian. I think he can win races. "We don't know yet (if he'll be back). We're still talking."