Two Earnhardts will be competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for the first time in over a decade as Jeffrey Earnhardt will pilot the No. 32 Ford for Go Green Racing at Richmond International Raceway for the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Sept. 12 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The start at Richmond will be the 26-year-old's first in the sport's premier series. He has made 66 starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (including six starts this season) as well as 10 career starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The announcement was first made on NBCSN's "NASCAR America." "I'm really excited to get this opportunity and thrilled that CorvetteParts.net is sponsoring my debut in Sprint Cup ," Earnhardt said in a team release. "The Keens have been very good to me and having their company be part of an important day in my career is pretty cool. I appreciate everyone at Go Green Racing for making this happen and look forward to doing my best to make it a good debut." Jeffrey and his uncle Dale Earnhardt Jr . have never raced against one another in the Sprint Cup Series. They have, however, raced against each other a handful of times in the XFINITY Series. Jeffrey made one start for the Dale Jr.-owned JR Motorsports in 2013 in the XFINITY Series at Richmond . Jeffrey's father, Kerry Earnhardt, has seven career Sprint Cup starts and drove one full XFINITY Series season in 2002 for owner Armando Fitz in the No. 12 Chevrolet. He had 72 XFINITY Series starts over 10 years. Kerry Earnhardt also drove full time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2006, finishing the season 22nd in the standings.
RELATED: Chase Grid " Chase bubble watch " Chase Fest details A year ago, it was Kasey Kahne . Only two races remained before the start of the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , and the Hendrick Motorsports driver was 13th in points. Unfortunately, he was outside the top 16 in the Chase standings. Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin , AJ Allmendinger , Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola trailed Kahne in points. But they were among those that had wins. They had invitations to the dance. At the time, Kahne had managed only two top-five finishes. His average finishing position was 16.8. He hadn't been to the victory lane since midway through the previous season. So he and his team went out and won at Atlanta Motor Speedway . It earned Kahne one of the final Chase spots and the No. 5 team a second chance. It wasn't quite as easy as it sounds. Kevin Harvick , as was often the case, was dominant at AMS. Kahne fell a lap down early. The team battled back. He didn't take the lead for the first time until Lap 303 of the scheduled 325-lap race. Suddenly, he seemed to be on his way to the win. Then cautions appeared, forcing two late restarts. Green, white, checkered late. Kahne's lead was lost on pit road. Yet somehow he muscled his way past Matt Kenseth coming to the white flag, holding on for the win and a spot in the Chase. It's a similar position for the 35-year-old this year. Two races remain -- stops at Darlington Raceway and Richmond International Raceway -- before the field is finalized for this year's 10-race run to determine the Sprint Cup champion. Kahne is once again winless. He is not alone. Teammate Jeff Gordon has finished inside the top five only three times this year. The four-time champion is ahead of Clint Bowyer in the playoff picture, with a wider margin back to folks such as Aric Almirola and Greg Biffle . A year ago Gordon had three wins and a vise-like grip on first place in the points. Bowyer's got a pair of top-fives, but much of the attention around the No. 15 team of Michael Waltrip Racing centers on where Bowyer will call home next season. Paul Menard has a razor-thin lead on Gordon in points, but taking nothing for granted. Can anyone? Matt Kenseth 's blown engine at Bristol last week, leaving the Joe Gibbs driver 42nd in the final rundown, didn't go unnoticed. Things not only can happen, they often do. With 10 drivers already secure -- 11 if you go ahead and give Kyle Busch one of the spots although he's close enough to the fault line that a misstep could make things interesting -- and two races remaining, at least three of this year's Chase spots will be filled based on the points standings after Richmond . It could be five, if no new winner emerges in the next two weeks. Few on the fringes, though, have shown signs of contending for wins. Almirola? One top five and only three laps led this season. Biffle? It's shaping up to be the wrong type of career year for the Roush Fenway Racing driver, with just two top-fives and an average finish of 20th. Austin Dillon ? Kyle Larson ? Both have shown potential. Both are winless. Kahne? Well, who knows? The question isn't can it be done. Kahne's already proven that it's possible. The question is who among those can pull it off?
At least 10 teams expected at track Wednesday RELATED: Buy tickets for Darlington At least 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams are expected to participate in a one-day open team test Wednesday at Darlington Raceway . The historic 1.366-mile track, the first paved speedway to feature NASCAR competition, will host the Bojangles' Southern 500 Sprint Cup Series race Sunday, Sept. 6. Drivers scheduled to take part in this week's test are: Aric Almirola ( Richard Petty Motorsports ), Greg Biffle ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Clint Bowyer ( Michael Waltrip Racing ), Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Jimmie Johnson ( Hendrick Motorsports ), Joey Logano ( Team Penske ), Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Ryan Newman ( Richard Childress Racing ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ). The test is scheduled to run from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET. ( UPDATE: End time pushed up to 4:45 p.m. ET because of expected showers.) Biffle, Bowyer, McMurray and Newman will also be on hand Tuesday for a single-day Goodyear tire test. "This is a great, free opportunity for fans to watch NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams race around our famed oval for the first time in nearly 14 months," track president Chip Wile said. "This will be the only time the teams and drivers will be able to see Darlington before the series returns on Labor Day weekend." The Sprint Cup Series hasn't visited Darlington since April of 2014. An offseason schedule change moved the event back to the holiday weekend, a spot it held on the schedule for more than 50 years. The open test will be the seventh of the season. Future single-day tests are scheduled for Richmond International Raceway , Chicagoland Speedway , Bristol Motor Speedway , Homestead-Miami Speedway , Kansas Speedway , Phoenix International Raceway and Auto Club Speedway . Nearly all of the tests follow one- or two-day Goodyear tire tests at the individual tracks. The Richmond team test, scheduled for June 17, is a recent addition. Meanwhile, a two-day Goodyear tire test at Bristol was changed to a single-day open team test (July 30). NASCAR banned private team testing for 2015, developing the National Series Master Unified Test Schedule instead to provide teams an opportunity to work with this season's new rules package. Only one team from each Sprint Cup organization is allowed to participate in the open team tests. The four teams taking part in the Goodyear portion are the only ones from their organizations allowed to participate in the open test, if they choose. "With the Bojangles' Southern 500 being the second-to-last race before the Chase cutoff, I'm sure the teams will be looking for a little something extra to get to … Victory Lane and potentially secure a Chase berth before times runs out," Wile said. Two sections of the Colvin Grandstands, located on the backstretch, will be open to fans. Kevin Harvick , 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, is the defending winner of the Bojangles' Southern 500 . In addition to the Sprint Cup race, Darlington Raceway will also host the VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series race Saturday, Sept. 5. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings BRISTOL, Tenn. -- It's a familiar scenario facing Ryan Newman as the Richard Childress Racing driver prepares for a two-race journey to lock in one of the 16 spots in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field. At this same point in the season last year, Newman sat ninth in points and was winless with two top-five and eight top-10 finishes. He eventually earned a Chase bid based on his points position, then parlayed the consistency that got him a berth into a ticket into the Championship Round, where he nearly became the series' first winless champion. Following his 10th-place finish in Saturday night's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Newman finds himself 11th in points, with four top-five and 12 top-10 finishes thus far this season. He's also still searching for that first win, which would guarantee his status as a Chase participant. At Bristol, Newman and his No. 31 team, led by crew chief Luke Lambert, once again did what they have become nearly the best in the series at doing -- taking a car that wasn't particularly fast and earning a top-10 finish with it. "We weren't the best car all day," Newman said while standing beside the No. 31 Chevrolet on pit road after the race. "We kind of finished where we ran, if not just a little bit better. "It was a good run for the team. We took a 20th-place car in practice and qualifying and turned it into a top-10 (in the race). We were not the best car and we didn't win the race, but the guys did a good job in the pits and we made the race car better." Newman and the team hadn't shown speed on Friday, working their way to 26th- and 18th-place positions during the first and second practice sessions, respectively. At the end of the day, Newman logged the 18th-fastest time in qualifying for the series' 24th race of the season. Saturday night, Newman slowly made his way through the field, eventually cracking the top 10 well into the second half of the 500-lap race. Not having that initial speed when arriving at the track has been a problem, Newman admitted, but added that it's kept the team close as they battle to secure a Chase spot. "Yeah it's better when you start off the weekend better," he said, "but that's what makes us pull together as a team, find speed and … fight strong at the end." Newman, RCR teammate Paul Menard , Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Jeff Gordon ( Hendrick Motorsports ) and Clint Bowyer ( Michael Waltrip Racing ) currently hold the five final Chase positions with two races remaining -- at Darlington Raceway and Richmond International Raceway -- before the postseason starts. Newman, 37, is a six-time qualifier for the Chase, with last season's runner-up finish to Kevin Harvick a career-best points finish.
Take a virtual hot lap around Richmond International Raceway with David Reutimann as he prepares for the final race before the Chase.
Goodyear tire test set for Tuesday, open test slated for Wednesday BROOKLYN, Mich. -- A week after testing at Darlington Raceway , it's off to Richmond International Raceway for Goodyear officials and a handful of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams. The official tire supplier for NASCAR will test with four teams Tuesday at the 0.75-mile track in preparation for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup cutoff race, the Federated Auto Parts 400 scheduled for Sept. 12. Kyle Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Trevor Bayne ( Roush Fenway Racing ) and David Ragan ( Michael Waltrip Racing ) are scheduled to take part in the Goodyear tire test. NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Brian Scott ( Richard Childress Racing ) will also take part, stepping into the No. 27 for driver Paul Menard . The four will join several others on Wednesday for an open team test. According to officials, those scheduled to be on hand are Jeff Gordon ( Hendrick Motorsports ), Carl Edwards ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Joey Logano ( Team Penske ), Sam Hornish Jr . ( Richard Petty Motorsports ), Jeff Green (The Motorsports Group) and Clay Rogers (Beard Motorsports). "We had a good race there (in the spring); we had a good tire that lasted a gas stop, which is not that easy at Richmond ," Stu Grant, Goodyear's general manager for global race tires, said Sunday at Michigan International Speedway . "We're wondering if we can do a better job to make the racing a little bit better, so we're seeing what we can do from a tire standpoint to go back and improve that setup." Some teams were not satisfied with the multi-zone tread used at RIR for the spring race. The tire featured a smaller, more durable inside compound that enhances durability combined with a wider, softer outside designed for grip. Similar multi-zone tires have been used at several Sprint Cup events since debuting in 2013. Grant said several options would be considered. "We've got a pretty good baseline at Richmond ," he said. "I don't want to move too far off of that. We're not going to test a whole lot of different things. We ran a (multi-) zone tread at Richmond ; we'll try a couple of zone treads, we'll try a couple of non-zone treads to see what happens … we don't have a real big program (scheduled) so we can get that done in a day." Wednesday's test will be open to fans, with access to the grandstands through Gate 70 only. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Juan Pablo Montoya, Marcos Ambrose, Aric Almirola and Jamie McMurray talk about testing at Richmond International Raceway
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Rob Kauffman, the former investment banker who stepped in to keep Michael Waltrip Racing afloat with an influx of financial support in 2007, said this week's move to end full-time competition for MWR in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after the 2015 season was a "financial decision." "I think that from a business standpoint it didn't make sense. You can't have a top-10 budget and top-10 resources and not be in the top 10 for a sustained period of time," Kauffman said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. Kauffman co-owns the Cornelius, North Carolina-based organization along with former driver Michael Waltrip . MWR fields the No. 15 Toyota for driver Clint Bowyer as well as the No. 55 for driver David Ragan . The organization has approximately 250 employees. Bowyer hasn't won in the series since 2012, the same year he finished runner-up to Brad Keselowski in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup . He finished seventh overall the following year, then failed to qualify for the 10-race playoff last season. Heading into Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Bowyer is 15th in points with one top-five and nine top-10 finishes this season. He can qualify for the Chase by either winning one of the three remaining "regular-season" races or possibly earning a berth based on his points position. Ragan was brought in after the season's first 10 races as a replacement after Brian Vickers , the team's former driver, was sidelined due to health issues. Ragan is currently 24th in points. The last victory for the organization came with Vickers and the No. 55 team at Loudon, New Hampshire in 2013. "It's a performance-related business," Kauffman said. "It's a great sport but a very difficult business model. "From a business decision it just made sense to not go forward with that organization, which isn't really commercially viable." MWR receives technical and engineering support from Toyota and that assistance was expected to continue for the 2016 season. On the sponsorship front, 5-hour Energy signed a multiyear extension last season to serve as primary sponsor for 24 of 36 races with Bowyer. Aaron's, sponsor of the No. 55, had yet to announce its 2016 plans, but the company has been affiliated with Waltrip for 15 years. The organization fielded three full-time teams in 2012-13 but cut back to two after 2013 after penalties for manipulating the finish of a race at Richmond International Raceway resulted in the loss of NAPA as a primary sponsor. "Certainly that was a pretty heavy body blow to the organization, causing me to restructure it," Kauffman said. The following season "was at some level a large reset year, competitively and also financially. "I think as we got into the late spring, April, May (of) 2015, really from a performance standpoint the company wasn't where it needed to be and that kind of forced some decisions and thought processes over the summer. "That's kind of where we wound up today. At the end of the day, it's a competitive business and that's where we are." In late July, it was announced that Kauffman had agreed to purchase an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. That organization fields two Sprint Cup Series teams, for drivers Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson . It fields entries in IndyCar, the TUDOR United Sportscar Championship and Global RallyCross Series as well. "Certainly the past years I've been pretty involved in the day-to-day operations with Michael Waltrip Racing ," said Kauffman. "I think now I'll be able to step back from that. "I'm probably not the best person to run a race team day in and day out. One of the attractions in partnering with Chip is really he runs his business himself; he's a racer, he's at a race event almost every single weekend." Kauffman is a racer as well, having competed in events such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2011-'12) and the Rolex 24 at Daytona ('12-'13).
RELATED: MWR won't field full-time entries in 2016 BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Toyota officials made their first official comments concerning the demise of Michael Waltrip Racing Thursday, citing the automaker's long relationship with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organization. "We want to thank everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing for a great partnership and for being a part of our 'freshman class' -- one of the race teams that helped us enter the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series nine years ago," Ed Laukes, Vice President marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, said in a statement. " Clint Bowyer has been a valuable member of the Toyota Racing family for the past four years, and we will continue to support him, and the rest of the MWR team through the end of the 2015 season. MORE: Bowyer free to pursue other opportunities for 2016 The two-car organization, which currently fields Toyota Camry entries for drivers Bowyer and David Ragan in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, announced Tuesday that Bowyer would not return for 2016 and the group would not field a full-time team beyond this season. MWR is co-owned by Rob Kauffman and Michael Waltrip . Its drivers have won seven Sprint Cup Series events with four drivers. Bowyer, who has driven the team's No. 15 entry since 2012, finished a career-best second in the points standings in 2012 and enters this weekend's event at Bristol Motor Speedway 15th in points and looking to secure one of the 16 available spots in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup . Ragan has been with the organization since May of this season, filling in for former driver Brian Vickers , who has been sidelined this season due to health issues. Toyota made the move into Sprint Cup competition in 2007 and MWR, along with Red Bull Racing and Bill Davis Racing, was one of three organizations to field Toyota entries. The automaker moved into what is now the XFINITY Series in '07 as well. It began competing in the Camping World Truck Series in 2004. "We wish everyone associated with the team the best of luck in the future and we look forward to closing out the season focused on competing for a championship," said Laukes. MWR fielded three full-time Sprint Cup Series teams as recently as 2013. But after the group was penalized prior to the start of the '13 Chase for manipulating the outcome of the final regular-season event at Richmond International Raceway , primary sponsor NAPA departed at the end of the year, forcing the group to scale back to two teams. Toyota has three drivers sitting firmly in the Chase entering Brisol in Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Matt Kenseth , Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards . Kyle Busch , who has four wins, also is poised to make NASCAR's playoffs as long as he can remain in the top 30 in the drivers points standings. He enters Brisol in 29th place, 23 points ahead of 31st-place driver Cole Whitt . MORE: Updated Chase Grid standings
Take a virtual lap around Richmond International Raceway .