A statistical look ahead to the opening race of the Eliminator Round RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Below is a look at the eight Eliminators – and beyond – at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia going into the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 on October 26. MARTINSVILLE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS 1 - Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 106.6 2014 Rundown · Five wins, 15 top fives, 20 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.5 · Led 20 races for 916 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Two top fives, three top 10s · Average finish of 14.8 in 11 races · Average Running Position of 16.0, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 82.3, 14th-best 2 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.7 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; eight poles · Average finish of 13.4 · Led 24 races for 1,817 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One win, three top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 15.8 in 26 races · Average Running Position of 13.7, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 93.2, eighth-best · 956 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.163 mph, eighth-fastest · 6,348 Laps in the Top 15 (66.6%), sixth-most · 578 Quality Passes, sixth-most 3 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.1 2014 Rundown · Three top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 13.3 · Led 7 races for 41 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One win, seven top fives, 11 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 15.5 in 25 races · Average Running Position of 15.1, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 86.9, 10th-best · 1,008 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most · 5,419 Laps in the Top 15 (56.8%), ninth-most · 528 Quality Passes, ninth-most 4 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.0 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 15.1 · Led 14 races for 218 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Four wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 8.8 in 17 races · Average Running Position of 9.0, third-best · Driver Rating of 109.6, third-best · 580 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.467 mph, third-fastest · 7,007 Laps in the Top 15 (82.1%), fourth-most · 609 Quality Passes, fifth-most 5 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 91.6 2014 Rundown · 12 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.6 · Led 18 races for 468 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Four top fives, 10 top 10s · Average finish of 15.0 in 29 races · Average Running Position of 16.0, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 84.2, 12th-best · 173 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 1,023 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.042 mph, 11th-fastest 6 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Ford Ecoboost Fusion Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 81.7 2014 Rundown · Two wins, seven top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 14.5 · Led 11 races for 135 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One top five, five top 10s · Average finish of 15.7 in 20 races · Average Running Position of 15.9, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 81.4, 15th-best · 1,036 Green Flag Passes, third-most · 5,181 Laps in the Top 15 (54.3%), 11th-most · 555 Quality Passes, eighth-most 7 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 108.4 2014 Rundown · Four wins, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 10.3 · Led 23 races for 743 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Eight wins, 27 top fives, 34 top 10s; seven poles · Average finish of 7.0 in 43 races · Average Running Position of 6.7, second-best · Driver Rating of 119.0, second-best · Series-high 1,034 Fastest Laps Run · 933 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.684 mph, second-fastest · 8,375 Laps in the Top 15 (87.8%), second-most · Series-high 691 Quality Passes 8 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 104.3 2014 Rundown · Six wins, 14 top fives, 17 top 10s; five poles · Average finish of 12.9 · Led 26 races for 1,518 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One top five, five top 10s · Average finish of 13.4 in nine races · Average Running Position of 16.2, 14th-best · Driver Rating of 84.5, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.102 mph, 10th-fastest 9 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Halloween Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.0 2014 Rundown · One win, eight top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 17.0 · Led 15 races for 453 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Eight top fives, nine top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.9 in 19 races · Average Running Position of 13.3, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 96.1, sixth-best · 409 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 952 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.342 mph, fifth-fastest · 6,587 Laps in the Top 15 (69.1%), fifth-most · 616 Quality Passes, fourth-most 10 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 99.2 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14.7 · Led 16 races for 1,119 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Eight wins, 18 top fives, 22 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 5.2 in 25 races · Series-best Average Running Position of 5.6 · Series-best Driver Rating of 124.8 · 1,010 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 91.737 mph · Series-high 8,833 Laps in the Top 15 (92.6%) · 680 Quality Passes, second-most 11 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 89.1 2014 Rundown · One win, three top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 16.3 · Led 12 races for 218 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Three top fives, four top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 20.2 in 21 races · Average Running Position of 20.4, 20th-best · Driver Rating of 77.7, 19th-best · 255 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most 12 - AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Clorox Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.2 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 20.2 · Led 5 races for 68 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One top five, two top 10s · Average finish of 20.6 in 12 races · Average Running Position of 21.3, 23rd-best · Driver Rating of 70.8, 22nd-best 13 - Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 96.6 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s · Average finish of 12.8 · Led 15 races for 300 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · 11 top fives, 16 top 10s · Average finish of 12.8 in 29 races · Average Running Position of 10.8, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 99.9, fourth-best · 471 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Series-high 1,111 Green Flag Passes · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.374 mph, fourth-fastest · 7,393 Laps in the Top 15 (77.5%), third-most · 668 Quality Passes, third-most 14 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 78.6 2014 Rundown · Three top fives, 10 top 10s · Average finish of 16.1 · Led 7 races for 110 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Five top 10s · Average finish of 20.1 in 23 races · Average Running Position of 20.6, 21st-best · Driver Rating of 70.5, 23rd-best · 1,068 Green Flag Passes, second-most 15 - Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 86.5 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 19.4 · Led 12 races for 183 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Two wins, three top fives, five top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 20.8 in 28 races · Average Running Position of 18.2, 18th-best · Driver Rating of 79.0, 18th-best · 987 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most 16 - Aric Almirola (No. 43 Smithfield Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 72.4 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 21.6 · Led 5 races for 23 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One top five, three top 10s · Average finish of 24.0 in 11 races · Average Running Position of 23.9, 30th-best · Driver Rating of 64.8, 27th-best The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2014 Eliminator Eight at Martinsville Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Joey Logano 11 0 0 2 3 0 14.8 82.3 2 Kevin Harvick 26 0 1 3 12 1 15.8 93.2 3 Ryan Newman 25 3 1 7 11 2 15.5 86.9 4 Denny Hamlin 17 3 4 9 13 1 8.8 109.6 5 Matt Kenseth 29 0 0 4 10 2 15.0 84.2 6 Carl Edwards 20 0 0 1 5 0 15.7 81.4 7 Jeff Gordon 43 7 8 27 34 0 7.0 119.0 8 Brad Keselowski 9 0 0 1 5 0 13.4 84.5 * – Based on last 19 races at Martinsville Speedway (2005 – 2014). Martinsville Speedway: History · Opened in September 1947 by H. Clay Earles , Martinsville, originally a dirt track, is one of the oldest continuously-operating race tracks in the United States. · The first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville was on July 4, 1948. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was Sept. 25, 1949. · The track was paved in 1955. · The first 500-lap event at Martinsville was in 1956. · Concrete corners were added atop asphalt in 1976. Notebook · There have been 131 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway , one in the inaugural year and two races per year since 1950. · 599 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville; 376 in more than one. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty has the all-time most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville with 67 starts; Jeff Gordon has the most among active drivers with 43. · Curtis Turner won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Martinsville Speedway in 1949. · 58 drivers have Coors Light poles at Martinsville, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with eight; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven. · 12 drivers have won two or more consecutive Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway . Four of the 12 have won three consecutive poles at Martinsville: Glen Wood (Fall of 1959 and 1960 sweep); Darrell Waltrip (1979 sweep and spring 1980); Mark Martin (fall of 1990 and 1991 sweep); Jeff Gordon (2003 sweep and spring 2004). · Youngest Martinsville pole winner: Ricky Rudd (4/26/1981 – 24 years, 7 months, 14 days). · Oldest Martinsville pole winner: Morgan Shepherd (4/26/1987 – 45 years, 6 months, 14 days). · 47 different drivers have won at Martinsville Speedway , led by Richard Petty with 15; Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon lead the series among active drivers with eight wins each. · 24 drivers have multiple wins at Martinsville Speedway only five active drivers have multiple wins: Jimmie Johnson (eight), Jeff Gordon (eight), Denny Hamlin (four), Tony Stewart (three) and Kurt Busch (two). · Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 21. · 21 of 131 races (16.0%) at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; seven of those 21 wins came from active drivers: Tony Stewart (2000), Jeff Gordon (2003 twice), Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2012, spring 2013) and Denny Hamlin (2010). · The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Martinsville producing more wins (21) than any other starting position. · 36 of the 131 (27.4 %) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the front row: 21 from the pole and 15 from second-place. · 95 of the 131 (72.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Six of the 131 (4.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 36th, by Kurt Busch in the fall of 2002. · Youngest Martinsville winner: Richard Petty (04/10/1960 – 22 years, 9 months, 8 days). · Oldest Martinsville winner: Harry Gant (09/22/1991 – 51 years, 8 months, 12 days). · NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes at Martinsville Speedway with seven; Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson lead all active drivers with four each. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-five finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 30; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 27, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 18. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 37; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 34, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 22. · Jeff Gordon leads active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Martinsville Speedway with a 7.186. Ryan Newman (9.680) and Denny Hamlin (9.765) are the only two other active drivers with an average starting position at Martinsville inside the top-10. · Three active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top-10 at Martinsville: Jimmie Johnson (5.200), Jeff Gordon (6.953) and Denny Hamlin (8.765). · There have been five NSCS green-white-checkered finishes at Martinsville Speedway : fall 2007 (500/506), fall 2008 (500/504), fall 2009 (500/501), spring 2010 (500/508), and spring 2012 (500/515). · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions eight times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway ; the most recent was the fall race of 2011. · Jeff Gordon has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway without a DNF (43). · Tony Stewart (4/18/1999) and Scott Riggs (4/10/2005) won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway . · Mike Bliss (09/27/1998), Travis Kvapil (10/24/2004), Michael McDowell (3/30/2008) and Scott Speed (10/19/2008) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Martinsville Speedway . · 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted consecutive wins at Martinsville Speedway . Fred Lorenzen won four NSCS races straight (the most) from the fall of 1963 through the spring of 1965. · All eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Martinsville Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Tony Stewart won at Martinsville with the fewest previous appearances (three). · Ryan Newman competed at Martinsville Speedway 20 times before winning in the spring of 2012; the longest span of any the eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Four drivers have made eight or more attempts before their first win at Martinsville Speedway : Kevin Harvick (19) and Ryan Newman (20). · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway is the 4/1/2007 race won by Jimmie Johnson with a MOV of 0.065 second. · Danica Patrick is the only female driver to compete at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 10 32 3/30/2014 Danica Patrick 41 17 10/27/2013 Danica Patrick 32 12 4/7/2013 · Seven car numbers have produced five or more Martinsville Speedway NSCS wins: Car Number – Drivers – (Years) o No. 43 – Richard Petty (1960, ’62, ’63, ’67 sweep, ’68, ’69 sweep, ’70, ’71, ’72 sweep, ’73, ’75 and ’79); John Andretti (1999) o No. 11 – Cale Yarborough (1974, ’76, ’77 sweep, ‘78); Darrell Waltrip (1981, ’82, ’83, ’84); Geoff Bodine (1990 sweep); Denny Hamlin (2008, ’09, ’10 sweep) o No . 28 – Fred Lorenzen (1961, ’63, ’64 sweep, ‘65 and ‘66); Buddy Baker (1979); Ernie Irvan (1993). o No . 2 – Dale Earnhardt (1980); Rusty Wallace (1993, ‘94 sweep, ’95, ’96 and ‘04) o No . 48 – Jimmie Johnson (2004, ’06, ’07 sweep, ’08, ’09, ’12, ‘13) o No . 24 – Jeff Gordon (1996, ’97, ’99, ’03 sweep and ’05 sweep, fall 2013) o No . 3 – Ricky Rudd (1983); Dale Earnhardt (1985, ’87, ’88, ’91, ’95) NASCAR in Virginia · There have been 285 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among nine tracks in Virginia. Track Name City NSCS Martinsville Speedway Martinsville 131 Richmond International Raceway Richmond 117 South Boston Speedway South Boston 10 Langley Field Speedway Hampton 9 Old Dominion Speedway Manassas 7 Southside Speedway Richmond 4 Starkey Speedway Roanoke 4 Norfolk Speedway Norfolk 2 Princess Anne Speedway Norfolk 1 · 172 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Virginia. · 19 drivers from Virginia have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series. 11 of the 19 Virginia native NASCAR winners have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Joe Weatherly 25 0 0 Denny Hamlin 24 11 2 Ricky Rudd 23 1 0 Jeff Burton 21 27 0 Curtis Turner 17 0 0 Ward Burton 5 4 0 Glen Wood 4 0 0 Elliott Sadler 3 10 1 Emanuel Zervakis 2 0 0 Lennie Pond 1 0 0 Wendell Scott 1 0 0 Tommy Ellis 0 22 0 Jimmy Hensley 0 9 2 Rick Mast 0 9 0 Hermie Sadler 0 2 0 Elton Sawyer 0 2 0 Stacy Compton 0 0 2 Jon Wood 0 0 2 Jeb Burton 0 0 1 MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Former owner Ray Evernham: '... There’s a championship driver in there' RELATED: Kahne swims with the sharks In the beginning, it came easy for Kasey Kahne . Fast cars and a great team and all of a sudden there's a new young gun for the established stars to deal with each weekend in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. "Yeah, everything was pretty simple back then," Kahne, 35, says. "Every time I got in the car we were fast -- practice, qualifying, race. "Today it's a little different; it's more difficult to be on top. I think part of it is the competition, it's so close today that it makes it tougher." The competition's tough, certainly, but finding that feeling behind the wheel, the one that often separates the winners from the losers, can be just as difficult. That's what Kahne enjoyed in those early years, back in 2004 and '05 and '06, and it's what he is searching for today. It's also what crew chief Keith Rodden is trying to find for his driver each and every day when he shows up for work. "If you hit on something that really suits your driving, you can be on top and you can be there for a period of time," Kahne says. "That's what we're looking for, that's what we hope to hit on eventually." The quest continues this weekend at Daytona International Speedway, site of Sunday night's Coke Zero 400 (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). Kasey Kahne has won 17 times at NASCAR’s top level. He has never won a restrictor-plate points race. • • • He was just 23 when he made his Sprint Cup Series debut, finishing near the bottom of the order in the 2004 Daytona 500 after the engine soured just 42 laps into the season-opening race. But any questions about team owner Ray Evernham's decision to hire the youngster were quickly put to rest. A week after his disappointing Daytona debut, Kahne finished second at Rockingham, North Carolina. After an early-season off-week, Kahne was second again, this time at Las Vegas. All told, Kahne finished second five times as a rookie, then added a sixth early the following season. By the season's 11th stop, at Richmond, he was no longer second -- he was in Victory Lane. A year later, he won six times, more than any other driver in the series, including champion Jimmie Johnson . By the time Evernham Motorsports became Gillett Evernham Motorsports in the latter stages of ’07, Kahne had seven wins and the look of a future champion. And then it slowly began to unravel. The wins haven't ceased -- he's won 10 times since that memorable '06 season -- but the championships have thus far failed to materialize. The Gillett Evernham partnership eventually dismantled and by '09, the Enumclaw, Washington, native had moved on to Richard Petty Motorsports for a two-year stint. A stint with Red Bull Racing followed, before team owner Rick Hendrick came calling, looking for a suitable replacement for veteran Mark Martin . In 2012, Kahne settled in as the newest member of one of the most successful organizations in NASCAR. While he's qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup all three years he's been at HMS, he's slowly been trending in the wrong direction, finishing fourth, 12th and 15th in points since his arrival. RELATED: Kahne to become a father Where did the kid with so much talent and promise go? "I don't know," says Evernham, now back at HMS as a member of the organization's executive management team. "I really pushed Mr. Hendrick to hire him because I really feel like Kasey Kahne is a guy that should win a championship. "We've not been able to get him over that hump. I certainly still believe in him. I think Keith Rodden has helped Kasey's confidence. They're still kind of sorting out their cars and things like that. I don't know. I will be disappointed if Kasey Kahne ends his career without winning a championship. "He's got the talent, he's got the ability, and he's got the cars and equipment. I don't know -- communication, changes, where he's at … again, I can't answer that. It's something we talk about a lot." • • • Kahne, who has six top-10 finishes through this year's first 16 races, arrives in Daytona eighth in points. His last win came in Atlanta last season, and it was his only win of the year. Still, he says, he believes his team is making gains. Driver Reports: How will Kahne fare at Daytona? "I think our cars are super close, our engines and our packages are right there," Kahne says. "I feel good about that. "It's just a matter of keep trying to find that little bit of feel. That's what Martin Truex has right now; that's what Kevin Harvick has had for a year and a half. Just that feel. They have it and they know how to find it each week. Their teams do a really nice job with that and the drivers do a great job with it. That's what I'm looking for. I just hope I can find that feel that gives me just … you just floor it a touch sooner every lap and you go as fast as they do." Kahne knows the feel, although he jokes that "it's been a while since I've had it, so it's hard to remember. "I know it feels good," he says. "It gives you confidence; you feel like you can run (with anyone), you feel like you can win and you can battle at any time. You're better on restarts, you're better in traffic and you're better when you're on your own. "When you do have that feel, you just always seem to be a tenth or two better and it helps every part of the race weekend." Every driver that's been around for the past decade has had to deal with tremendous changes in the cars as one generation was pushed aside for newer, safer vehicles. Some have had to alter their driving styles, adapting to cars that suddenly had more downforce but could be a handful around others. A fortunate few found the changes worked in their favor and no changes were necessary. "The interesting thing is today we run so much throttle compared to what we used to run," says Kahne. "When I first came in (to the series) you were off the throttle for a good period of time, you'd ease back to it and then floor it. "Today it's on and off. It's like a light switch. And the percentage of the time that you're wide open today compared to then is much higher. I think some of those things haven't fit my driving style as well as I would have liked. As a driver, I need to keep working on that stuff and figure out how to make it fit my driving style. "I think when I first came into the sport, it was all about getting off the brake as fast as you could and getting back to throttle as soon as possible. If you weren't wide open that was OK, you were still part throttle and still gaining speed. "Today, it's like push the brake hard for a split second, get off it and hammer the throttle hard. Your off-throttle time is very small. It’s just so much different driving these cars today. I'm up for the challenge, but I think as we’ve gone through the changes (to the cars), it's been a little more difficult for the way I learned to race." • • • For the majority of his career, Kahne was paired with crew chief Kenny Francis. That changed during the most recent off-season when Hendrick officials put former lead engineer Keith Rodden in charge. Rodden is one of the new breed, an engineer that has transitioned into the role of crew chief. But carrying a degree, he said, doesn't mean an engineer will make a successful crew chief. “Absolutely not. It just doesn’t matter,” Rodden says. “When you’re the crew chief, you’ve got to be the leader of the team, you have to work well with all the NASCAR people, you’ve got to be able to take all the information from all the people you have working whether it’s the engineer, the tire guy or literally the janitor sweeping the shop … you have to use everyone's input." Rodney Childers, crew chief for defending series champion Kevin Harvick "is very methodical," he says. "He's a great racer. He probably could have gone to engineering school. He didn't, he went to race. Whereas Matt McCall (crew chief for driver Jamie McMurray ), he's a great racer. He went to engineering school at home and kept racing. "I think there are examples where it's easy to say it works and others where it doesn’t. Just like (Tony Gibson) on the 41, he’s got (Johnny) Klausmeier he relies on a lot." Gibson is crew chief of the Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet with driver Kurt Busch . "I think the biggest thing is just using all the input from all your guys," Rodden said. "It's too big for one person." His cars have had speed this year, although Rodden takes no credit for that. Part of the reason, he says, may be the current rules package, one that features less downforce and less horsepower. "We don't really worry about the speed as much as trying to get the car to driving good because that always seems to race a little bit better," he says. "You get sad maybe if you're not quite as fast as another car but we work on trying to get our car to drive good and have good speed, instead of just maybe being on the verge of spinning out every lap and being fast. Being smart about it, too." • • • NASCAR is a team sport, but Kahne knows his role is vital. As he goes, the fortunes of the No. 5 team follow. Teams have gotten smarter and worked harder through the various changes in the cars in recent years. "That's where as a driver you need to be able to adapt and be able to do your part," Kahne says. "I feel like I'm always close but I don't feel like I’m ever that guy on top. "There were times in '05 and '06 for sure when I felt I was as fast as anyone in this garage on a lot of occasions. And there have been times like that since, but just not as many. It's the way it goes. "I still have a lot of drive, I still want to race cars. I want to win races. I think if you have all that and you have that passion that eventually you’ll get it figured out and get back on top." No one would be more pleased to see that happen than Evernham, the former championship-winning crew chief with driver Jeff Gordon . "We're still searching for that key to unlock because I know there's a big part of Kasey Kahne in there," Evernham says. "He's 35 years old; we've got to unlock that but I believe that there's a championship driver in there." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Joey Logano goes into the grandstands to talk with fans during a rain delay at Daytona International Speedway.
Rick Gdovic unsure when team will run under new banner The assets of the NASCAR XFINITY Series race team Viva Motorsports have been purchased by Brandon Gdovic 's dad, Rick Gdovic, he told the Daily Press of Newport News, Virginia. Rick Gdovic told the newspaper he purchased all of Viva's stock-car racing assets last week and the team, under the Precision Performance Motorsports banner, will race out of Viva's former shop in China Grove, North Carolina. The organization raced in the first 13 races of the season with Brandon Gdovic making two starts for the Jamie Dick -owned organization. His best finish was a 26th-place effort at Texas Motor Speedway in April. Two weeks ago, after the Michigan race weekend, Viva Motorsports announced it was ceasing operations. Dick (five races) and Jeffrey Earnhardt (six races) also made starts for the team this year. At the time, a team release said that the assets had been purchased and the No. 55 car would appear in a handful of races. Rick Gdovic told the newspaper that his son will be one of the drivers for the team and that they hope to run selected races over the course of the rest of 2015 with an eye on running the bulk of the 2016 schedule if additional sponsorship and drivers can be secured. The team will be sponsored by Pronius, American Messaging, WindStax and Gdovic's own business, ComServe Verizon Wireless. "We are excited about the purchase of Viva's operation," Gdovic said. "They have continued to build race assets and a reputation over the past few years. "We plan to continue their drive to become a top-level XFINITY Series operation that offers great value for our sponsorship partners, and another step up the ladder for our driver development program." The purchase includes 12 cars as well as race engines, shop, office equipment and a hauler. The China Grove shop will also house the K&N Pro Series East cars of Gray Gaulding , who is part of PPM's team in that series. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
2001 Pepsi 400 was also first race that NBC televised Note: NBC Sports Network is reairing this race on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET as part of its NASCAR Classics series. The 2001 season was far from an easy year for the NASCAR world. The sport was shaken to its core by a crash on the closing lap at Daytona International Speedway during the Daytona 500 that led to the passing of NASCAR Hall of Famer and seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt. The races in the weeks after were filled with emotion as Dale Earnhardt, Inc. driver Steve Park won the week after the Daytona 500 at Rockingham. Two weeks later, Kevin Harvick , in just his third career Cup start, scored his first career win in the re-numbered No. 29 car for Richard Childress Racing . Harvick had been tapped after the Daytona crash to take over the car, which had been Earnhardt's No. 3. Many wondered what would happen when the sport returned to Daytona that summer for the Pepsi 400 as an emotional scene was sure to unfold. The 2001 Pepsi 400 also marked NBC's initial foray into NASCAR race coverage as it was the first race the network televised as part of a six-year pact with the sport. An interesting coincidence is that this year's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona will be NBC's first premier series race under its new TV contract that kicks in this season. The booth for that first race featured play-by-play man Allen Bestwick with analysts Wally Dallenbach and Benny Parsons. Britney Spears gave the command to start the race. Here is the intro NBC used for races in 2001 featuring the song "Fuel" by Metallica. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/center&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; At the time, Dale Earnhardt Jr . was 26 years old and in his second full-time season in the sport's top series. He came to Daytona that summer on a 39-race winless streak. After experiencing the loss of his father, his 2001 season was very much up-and-down as you might imagine. He came into Daytona the sentimental and emotional favorite. The race had plenty of emotion in the air as Sterling Marlin led the field to the green flag. Starting 13th, it took Earnhardt 26 laps to get his No. 8 Chevrolet to the front and from there it was his show for most of the night. Dale Jr. led 116 circuits in the 160-lap race en route to his third career premier series win and his first at Daytona. The win was anything but certain though, as Junior had to hold off DEI teammate Michael Waltrip (who held off Junior to win the 2001 Daytona 500 ), Elliott Sadler and Ward Burton to win by 0.123 seconds. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/center&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; When the checkered flag dropped, the crowd at Daytona roared with approval as Dale Jr. took the victory under the lights. There were tears and jubilation among the crew members and one heck of a burnout, not to mention a big embrace with Chocolate Myers, the fuel man with RCR on his dad's team. The celebration spilled over to the infield with Dale Jr. and Waltrip, who never got to truly celebrate the Daytona 500 win that year, embracing. In Victory Lane, an emotionally drained Dale Jr. told NBC's Bill Weber, "Man, I just don't know what to say. I am worn out. I got to thank my buddy Tony (Eury Jr.), my crew chief for hanging in there with me. All my friends, all the guys on the crew. "I had a great car. It was all car, 100 percent. I was just holding on." On his father he said, "he was with me tonight. I don't know how I did it. He was there and Michael helped me. I guess we're even now." He also predicted that he would be "crying sooner or later." "I dedicate this win to him. There ain't nobody else I could dedicate this win to that it would mean more to me." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/center&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; Waltrip said of his role reversal with Dale Jr. from the last Daytona race, "I just wanted Dale Jr. to win so bad and I wanted to be a part of it. …I was committed to Dale Jr. just like he was to me in February." The victory would be the first of three Junior recorded that season as he later added victories at Dover and Talladega in the fall. NBC returns to NASCAR premier series coverage after a nearly nine-year absence, with Sunday night's Coke Zero 400 (7:45 p.m. ET). Rick Allen will handle the play-by-play duties alongside analysts Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte.
Drivers reminisce on chaotic 1994 Brickyard 400 qualifying
Breaking down driver statistics, history
Team release says that assets have been purchased Photo courtesy of Viva Motorsports Viva Motorsports, which fields the No. 55 entry in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, announced on Monday that the team is ceasing operations effective this week, according to a release issued by the organization. The team was on track at Michigan International Speedway last weekend, where Jeffrey Earnhardt was behind the wheel of the No. 55 Chevrolet and finished in 34th place. The organization made its NASCAR debut in 2009 and competed in both the XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. "It takes a tremendous level of commitment to compete at this level of auto racing, especially when striving to get better on limited resources, week in and week out," team owner Jamie Dick said in a release provided by the team. "It has come to a point where my family and I cannot continue to make the personal and financial commitments that this sport requires. I have always been proud of the quality of race team we brought to the track. Instead of lessening that quality, we decided to take a step back from the sport." "I want to thank the whole NASCAR community for allowing me to be part of the family. I want to thank our sponsors and our fans for all the support through the years. But most of all, I want to thank the employees of Viva Motorsports, both past and present, for making this team the best it could be." All the team assets have been purchased and the No. 55 car will appear in a handful of races in the 2015 season, according to the release. This season, Earnhardt (six races), Dick (five races) and Brandon Gdovic (two races) split driving duties in the No. 55 car. Dick missed some time after being diagnosed with new onset diabetes after the Phoenix race in March. The team's best result in 13 races this season was a 12th-place showing by Earnhardt at Talladega in May. A few weeks ago, Dick sat down with NASCAR.com's Pat DeCola at the team's shop in China Grove, North Carolina, to discuss the challenges of running a single-car team. "I do (have a single-car team, "us against the world" mentality). I don’t try to make it a point to spread that opinion throughout our employees and everyone else, but I certainly have that opinion," Dick said. "Because of that mentality, I'm glad we do our own single-car team. Not that we want to be a single-car team, I just mean that we’re independent and we own it and we do it." Dick also reflected on where his own driving career was heading. The 26-year-old has made 60 XFINITY Series starts and 14 Camping World Truck Series starts in his career. "The trajectory and the path of the mountain of my driving career and Viva Motorsports have already started to split and have more and more over the past year or two. I think they'll continue to split more. I don't think that my driving career will blossom into something greater than it is right now. I still like driving and I want to be the best race car driver I can be, but I don’t foresee any opportunities coming along to advance my driving career beyond what it is now, which I'm perfectly OK with. I'm happy with where I am and where I've made it." The Albuquerque, New Mexico native had big hopes for the organization, telling NASCAR.com in May that he would love to work his way into the Sprint Cup Series one day. "The potential for Viva Motorsports to grow with other drivers and other partners and other sponsors, the sky is the limit," Dick said last month. "I'd still love to venture into the Cup Series if the right opportunity presented itself, but I realize how difficult it is and I don't want to go in there with a half-hearted effort. I want the right opportunity to do it right way. That probably will never mean the 'right way' compared to Joe Gibbs or Rick Hendrick, but at least the right way as something that we can be proud of." And those hopes extended to the team's XFINITY efforts. "I hope in three to five years we're no longer a single-car team. I hope we're a two or three car XFINITY car team competing for better finishes, top-10 finishes, and continue to present ourselves professionally like we do now." ---NASCAR.com's Pat DeCola contributed to this report. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Nine-time winner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series earned honorary Oscar in 2012
Rick Hendrick accepts the 2013 Car Owner award from Las Vegas.