A look at the inspiration for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s Darlington paint scheme.
Stewart-Haas Racing driver ready to return to car after 'humbling experience' RELATED: Chase requirement waived " Official NASCAR release Sounding every bit resolved and resolute, Kurt Busch addressed the media on Wednesday for the first time since serving what ended up being a three-race suspension from NASCAR for off-track legal issues. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver told the national media he remains focused on his job as driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet for the team and has been "humbled" from the whole experience. "I understand why NASCAR needed to take the action that it did. This is a very serious issue,'' Busch said. "The important factor is that what I was accused of was a complete fabrication, and I never wavered through this whole process because of the confidence in the truth, and I had the support from Gene Haas and everybody at SHR, and that's where my focus has been. It's been on the racing side of it, and I never lost that confidence and that drive, and so it's a humbling experience, but it's made me more focused and determined." NASCAR suspended the 2004 Cup champion indefinitely on Feb. 20 after a Delaware judge issued a no-contact order for Busch, writing that Busch "likely" committed an act of domestic abuse against his former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll stemming from an incident Sept. 26, 2014 at Dover International Speedway . The Delaware Attorney General's office announced March 5 it would not pursue criminal charges against Busch. And on Wednesday, NASCAR reinstated Busch with the caveat that he is under indefinite probation and must adhere to any judicial requirements asked of him and remain in a treatment program as part of NASCAR's Road to Recovery. "I'm appreciative of the process, of the road to recovery,'' Busch said. "To me it's a roadmap that they laid out that I am respecting. It's created such a good foundation to utilize moving forward that I wish I would have done it sooner." The hardest part of the last two months? "Sitting out watching the 41 car go around the race track, especially at the Daytona 500 ,'' Busch said. "Atlanta is one of my favorite tracks, and Las Vegas is my hometown track. It's been torture sitting out of the car. "Being in that race car is a privilege, and it's a feeling that you can't describe when you go out there for practice each and every weekend. You drive down into the corner, the car sticks, you stand on the gas, and you drive out of the corner, it's an experience that not a lot of people get to do, and I get a chance to race against the best in the world in NASCAR." Busch also disclosed a recent insightful conversation he had with NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. "Talking with Brian France and going through this road, he told me, 'Don't change,' '' Busch said. "(He told me) 'Don't be the person that's different in the car, but be a different person outside of the car,' and so Brian said, 'Go be yourself in that car. That's what we really love. We love Kurt Busch behind the wheel. Go out there, use that passion, go for those wins.' "And that's my focus is to be humble through this whole process, but let actions speak louder than words." Busch would not specify if he would pursue further legal action to clear his name or have the no-contact order rescinded, instead deferring that course of action to his attorneys. He did say, however, that his trademark "Outlaw" moniker that has ridden above the driver's side window of his race cars in competition would likely be replaced with his signature. "My reputation has always been what I've done behind the wheel, and it's moments that I hope to battle and put out on the track like I did with Ricky Craven in the closest finish in the history of NASCAR," Busch said. "It's to focus on the wins at the tracks that I haven't won on or to deliver for Gene Haas on the trophies that he signed me on for that he wants in his trophy room. "My reputation will iron itself out in whichever way that it is, but my focus is the race car, and as I move forward, I'm putting my signature above the door of the car, and I'm proud to have my signature on the side of a car that Gene Haas has and to carry his name into Victory Lane." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Who are the oldest and youngest winners in each series? RELATED: Evolution of rookie meeting " Labonte's crash still impacts rookies Sprint Cup Series Oldest ROY winner : Dick Trickle (48) Youngest ROY winner : Joey Logano (19) XFINITY Series Oldest ROY winner : Jeff Fuller (38) Youngest ROY winner: Timmy Hill (18) Camping World Truck Series Oldest ROY winner : Mike Stefanik (41) Youngest ROY winner(s) : Ty Dillon , Ryan Blaney , Colin Braun, Austin Dillon (20) Drivers winning multiple ROY titles Johnny Benson Jr.: 1996 Sprint Cup ; 1994 NXS Greg Biffle : 2001 NXS; 1998 Truck Kyle Busch : 2005 Sprint Cup ; 2004 NXS Ricky Craven : 1995 Sprint Cup ; 1992 NXS Austin Dillon : 2012 NXS; 2010 Truck Carl Edwards : 2005 Sprint Cup ; ’03 Truck Jeff Gordon : 1993 Sprint Cup ; 1991 NXS Kevin Harvick : 2001 Cup; 2000 NXS Kenny Irwin Jr.: 1998 Sprint Cup ; 1997 Truck Kyle Larson : 2014 Sprint Cup ; 2013 NXS Ricky Stenhouse Jr .: 2013 Sprint Cup ; 2010 NXS
With network no longer televising races, some move on to other endeavors RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today ESPN's affiliation with NASCAR, providing coverage of the second half of the season's Sprint Cup Series races as well as the entire 33-race Nationwide Series schedule, came to an end earlier this month at Homestead-Miami Speedway . ESPN had been a television partner for the sport since 2007 and overall, had been involved in NASCAR coverage for 28 years. The cable sports giant is not part of NASCAR's most recent broadcast package that officially begins in 2015. FOX Sports will air the first 16 Sprint Cup Series events while NBC Sports will handle live coverage of the final 20 races. Coverage of the XFINITY Series (previously Nationwide) will also be split between the two networks while FOX Sports will carry coverage of NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series . Many of the faces that fans have grown accustomed to seeing on ESPN during NASCAR events will still be seen next year. Some will still be affiliated with motorsports, others will not. "It'll be different," Allen Bestwick said during a conference call prior to the season finale at HMS. "You know, my life has been centered around daily involvement with this sport since 1986. It will be very different." Bestwick, 53, served as lead announcer for ESPN’s NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage. Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett and former crew chief Andy Petree served as analysts alongside Bestwick. Bestwick will remain in the booth, serving as the lead announcer for the Indianapolis 500 and ESPN's association with the IndyCar Series. He will also be involved in college football and basketball, pro tennis and golf coverage "They're a big deal to me," Bestwick said of the upcoming opportunities. "They're new, and I mean, I'm going to have a chance to be involved in and around the British Open at St. Andrews next summer. How could you not be excited about that? It'll be very different." Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Dr. Jerry Punch and Vince Welch served as pit reporters for ESPN. Burns will join NBC Sports next season when that network begins its Sprint Cup affiliation while Little will move over to FOX Sports as a pit reporter. Welch has worked the IndyCar series as well for ESPN and could possibly resume those duties. Jarrett, the 1999 premier series champion, Petree and Punch have not announced their plans for 2015 and beyond. Former driver Ricky Craven and reporter Marty Smith will remain entrenched with the Bristol, Connecticut-based network and tethered to NASCAR. Craven , lauded for his no-nonsense approach and knowledge of the sport, will continue to serve as the lead in-studio NASCAR analyst. Smith, based in Charlotte, will also report on the series, but also will be assigned to other sports such as college and pro football. Those out front for the pre-race NASCAR Countdown show included host Nicole Briscoe, Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace. Briscoe will move into the role of an anchor for SportsCenter starting in January and is expected to do other in-studio work as well. Daugherty, the former NBA standout who currently co-owns the JTG Daugherty Racing Sprint Cup Series team, will transition to ESPN's coverage of college and pro basketball. Wallace, like Jarrett a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, has not announced his plans for next season. "ESPN has allowed me to do a lot of different things," Wallace, the '89 series champion, said. "… All different kinds of platforms. I've learned so much. … ESPN has kept my name out there and kept me relevant and kept me going." NBC Sports will begin its portion of live NASCAR race coverage at Daytona International Speedway in July of 2015. In addition to Burns, former ESPN reporter Mike Massaro will join the group as a pit reporter, along with Marty Snider and Kelli Stavast. Krista Voda will serve as host of pre- and post-race shows for NBC; Rick Allen (lead announcer), Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte (analysts) will be in the booth. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Network has big plans despite not having TV rights after '14 RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Although ESPN will not televise NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races beginning next season, officials said Tuesday the network expects to continue to provide timely content to fans for 2015 and beyond. "I don't think you'll see much of a change," said Rich Feinberg, vice president, motorsports, production for the Bristol, Connecticut-based group. "We obviously won't be doing the races, but in terms of serving the interests of fans with our news and information coverage, we're full-steam ahead." ABC/ESPN ends an eight-year run of NASCAR race coverage at the close of 2014, during which time the company aired the second half of each season's races. FOX returns next year and will continue to air the first half of the season while NBC will replace ABC/ESPN. Races previously aired by TNT in the middle of the year will be split between FOX and NBC groups. With ESPN not a part of the TV package going forward, many have wondered how the network would handle NASCAR news, or if it would abandon the sport altogether. "I can assure those asking the question and all fans out there that we're going to continue to cover NASCAR across all our news and information platforms in a very significant way," Feinberg said. "We don't have rights agreements with many different sports out there, but SportsCenter has an obligation to their fans to cover all sports." Feinberg said recent announcements that will keep former driver Ricky Craven , now an analyst, and reporter Marty Smith in-house is a clear indication that NASCAR remains relevant to the network. "We obviously have a lot of outlets for all our content, both over the air, cable, digital, dot‑com, et cetera," he said. "Our plans are to fulfill the interests of NASCAR fans who watch all our news and information programming, and I can tell you I personally have already been involved in our planning for coverage for the Daytona 500 in 2015 next year." ESPN will air the season's last two races -- this weekend's event from Phoenix International Raceway that will determine the four drivers contending for the championship, as well as the Championship Round finale in Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 16. "When we last left you Sunday night at Texas, all hell was breaking loose at the race track, and you know, no one knows what's going to happen this week going into Phoenix," Feinberg said. "But with eight drivers separated by only 18 points and none of the finalists determined yet, tune in … because I think it's going to be one heck of a show and one heck of a shootout. That's our focus and we're really, really looking forward to it." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
GarageCam host Matthew Dillner gives you a look at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and asks drivers about lobster, haircuts and much more.
Photo credit -- Chase Elliott 's Instagram @chaseelliott9 RELATED: Series standings At only 19 years old, Chase Elliott already has a NASCAR XFINITY Series championship, is currently contending for a second one and has a pretty sweet job lined up next year taking over the iconic No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for retiring four-time Sprint Cup Series champ Jeff Gordon . Not only has Elliott's racing career taken off, he has too -- literally -- having just earned his private pilot license on July 23. And the view from above is something he's wanted his whole life. It seems Elliott got more than the racing gene from his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott , as he has inherited the flying bug from his dad, an accomplished and avid aviator. "He's been flying a long time so I've always been around it since I was little," Elliott said of his father. "I've watched him fly for years and years and been fortunate enough to have access to his planes and sit up front and watch him fly them so I've always definitely interested in it. "It's one of those things where the more you do it, the more you become interested in it. And the more you get into it, the more intriguing it becomes. I learn something new every time I fly. "It's definitely tough to (master all the necessary lessons). A lot of things come along with it. But flying is a privilege and something you can't take lightly ever." A lot of the same traits -- discipline, smarts and dedication -- Elliott put into his burgeoning racing career he used to earn the pilot license. He actually started taking lessons while still in high school but it was such a busy time between school, racing and flying lessons that Elliott put off finishing his license until a few months ago with the support of his dad. "It's something you work hard for to achieve," Bill Elliott said. "I see so many people who have gone through a lot of the flying part and the learning curve but never went on and got their pilot licenses and they always regretted it. I told Chase, 'You need to go on and get this done.' "I'm glad he did. That's something he'll carry with him regardless of where racing takes him." The Elliotts join an impressive list of NASCAR drivers who have secured private pilot licenses including Carl Edwards , Greg Biffle , Matt Kenseth and retired drivers Mark Martin , Rusty Wallace, Cale Yarborough and Ricky Rudd. Ryan Newman 's wife Krissie flies helicopters. Similarly, Elliott figures having the ability to pilot an airplane can be as much a practicality as it is a luxury. His father helped secure him a Cessna 182 single-engine, four-seater to use and Elliott is eager to start flying to races closer than home. Last week, he flew to Bristol. He has also posted a photo of himself practicing grass landings on Instagram. "Absolutely, it's a major convenience if you need to go somewhere, you can turn a four-hour drive into an hour-and-a-half flight," Elliott said. "Time is valuable for anybody and any chance to make up time like that is great." Elliott wasn't sure if he would fly himself to this weekend's XFINITY Series race at Road America , but he is looking forward to the stand-alone road race regardless. It's the third road course race in the last four weeks for the series and Elliott is one of the series regulars who embraces the opportunity to turn right. He is on a six-race run of top-10 finishes in his No. 9 NAPA Chevy and currently trails championship leader Chris Buescher by 23 points in the standings. He has finishes of seventh (Watkins Glen) and fifth (Mid-Ohio) in the two road races this year and finished fourth at Road America last season. "I thought last year was a good learning experience," Elliott said. "I was really pleased with Watkins Glen. I'm still learning on my end, but thought we had good cars this year and that's a big step in right direction." For Elliott, that direction is up.
10 years ago, Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch raced their way into one of the greatest finishes in NASCAR history.
Presenting NASCAR content from around the web Editor's note: On Wednesday at noon ET, "High 5" will present some of the best NASCAR-related content from around the web. 1. Exceeding expectations The NASCAR world was shocked when Kyle Busch returned to racing after only an 11-race hiatus following his injuries at Daytona. But no one would have dreamed Busch would come back with this big a fire in his belly, winning four out of five races from Sonoma to Indianapolis. According to NBC Sports' Joe Posnanski, his success is evidence of Busch's potential as a race car driver -- which had been clear since his earliest days behind the wheel -- becoming reality following his injury and new fatherhood to son Brexton. "Kyle had so much raw talent in a race car – his ability to control any kind of car, to see openings, to take it to the edge and keep it there – that his future seemed limitless," Posnanski writes. One career-altering possiblity looms on the horizon for Busch, who will be able to contend for a championhip if he remains in the top 30 in the point standings. It's something in his decorated career that he's yet to achieve in the Sprint Cup Series -- and wants badly. Click here to read the entire piece from NBC SportsWorld . 2. Girl power Jessica Mendoza made history on Tuesday during the MLB game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks. Jessica Mendoza becomes the first woman to call an ESPN MLB game as an in-booth analyst. (via @jessmendoza ) pic.twitter.com/3R0vjUictZ — SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 25, 2015 Mendoza, who has won two Olympic medals for the United States softball team, was also the first woman to call a College World Series game, serving as a part of the crew last season in Omaha. She joins the likes of NASCAR's Danica Patrick , who traded her firesuit for a broadcasting microphone last season at Michigan, becoming the first woman to call a race in NASCAR. Hat tips and a "You go, girl" to both of these awesome women. 3. Denny's dream "Mr. Gibbs, I hope to drive for you some day." That's what an 11-year-old Denny Hamlin said to Coach Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing , back in 1992 at an autograph session. Little did Gibbs know, not only would this young Washington Redskins fan wheel a JGR car one day, but he would also contend for a championship, racing for the title in 2014 as part of the Championship 4. In a recent interview with 120 Sports , Hamlin discusses his relationship with Joe Gibbs, the jack rabbit incident at Michigan and his friendship with Michael Jordan. According to the No. 11 driver, the basketball legend is a huge NASCAR fan and was at Homestead-Miami Speedway last season from morning until late night, supporting Hamlin's run for the title. RELATED: Truck practice red-flagged for rabbit on track 4. Early bird doesn't get the worm -- or bronze medal Celebrating after a hard-fought victory is great -- but just make sure you actually win before you fist-pump. Runner Molly Huddle learned that lesson the hard way in Monday's IAAF 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China. Just before crossing the finish line, Huddle threw her arms in the air to celebrate her bronze medal -- only to be passed by fellow American Emily Infeld at the line. Read the entire story from Mashable here . Can you imagine if NASCAR drivers started doing burnouts before they actually took the checkered? It may look a little something like this. Plenty of smoke and spinning, but alas, no checkered flag. 5. Business in the front, party in the back Marriage is all about compromise, right? A couple from the United Kingdom found that out early when it came time to choosing a wedding cake. He was all about superheroes, she not so much. This disguised (Marvel-appropriate, right?) cake was the result. This superhero wedding cake is all business in the front, party in the back http://t.co/cZGprnNBGx pic.twitter.com/zx34k0Ph0Y — People magazine (@people) August 25, 2015 "Business in the front, party in the back." Kind of reminds us of something else we know and loved. RIP Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s mullet. RELATED: Stenhouse Jr. rids self of mullet
Eight tweets from around the NASCAR Twitterverse Editor's note: Every Friday, "Tweets you might have missed" will present eight of the best NASCAR-related tweets from the week. 1. Before I put this old thing under lock and key, I just had to try it on. Dads 2001 IROC uniform. pic.twitter.com/SQtUSdGmWG — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) August 23, 2015 2. Cartman went on a diet @Blaney pic.twitter.com/Rbuz70eg1W — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) August 21, 2015 3. Paddle boards have so many uses! ☀️ pic.twitter.com/CLFhGiq94w — Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) August 25, 2015 4. . @KevinHarvick 's little fan wanted to bring him a cupcake from her brother's birthday party. So sweet! pic.twitter.com/07z5DVgBDM — JR Motorsports (@JRMotorsports) August 20, 2015 5. Oh, by the way you may want to invite some friends for dinner! #TeamMcD pic.twitter.com/oQLKIE5Dgg — Jamie McMurray (@jamiemcmurray) August 21, 2015 6. Amen. Goodnight ✌️ pic.twitter.com/Nd2hesmKiq — Michael Waltrip (@mw55) August 21, 2015 7. Warning- I've officially graduated into one of those annoying parents that's telling everyone about their baby's first laugh today. — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) August 27, 2015 8. How fake driving is made, starring @Keselowski https://t.co/9CXOyMnRr8 — Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) August 26, 2015 FAN TWEET OF THE WEEK: If Nature's Bakery made beef jerky. I'd buy it. #NASCAR — Rick Kaufman (@RickKaufman1) August 26, 2015