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Carmichael starts monster wreck
Ricky Carmichael and David Starr get together to touch off a big wreck that brings out the red flag.
Carmichael , Long crash hard
Ricky Carmichael spins out of Turn 4 and collects Johanna Long.
Hard tires, reworked curbing present challenges at repaved Watkins Glen
RELATED: Before and after: Watkins Glen repave WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams wrapped up a two-day organizational test Wednesday at newly repaved Watkins Glen International, emerging with better ideas of the challenges they'll face when the series returns for the Aug. 4-7 race weekend. Among those challenges: reworked curbing, a fast circuit and a harder-compound tire that has made grip elusive. A total of 16 Sprint Cup teams -- one permitted from each organization -- tried to unlock the novelty of the $12 million resurfacing project, using a Goodyear tire that emphasizes durability at the expense of traction and wear. The rubber compound chosen is similar to that used July 9 at Kentucky Speedway, site of the Sprint Cup Series' most recent race on a repaved track. At Kentucky, the tire selection made for treacherous conditions in certain spots and made passing a delicate process. Though road courses don't lend themselves to the multi-groove racing seen at several well-aged oval tracks, Watkins Glen might still be a tricky place to maneuver when the series reconvenes for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen. "The main thing we've learned so far is how hard the tire is," said Jamie McMurray, driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet. "It just seems to be no wear at all or lap time fall-off right now. This place didn't ever wear tires like Sonoma, but it seems like the tire is pretty hard." Sonoma, the other road course where the Sprint Cup Series races, is a much more intricate circuit with qualifying speeds roughly 30 mph slower than at Watkins Glen's open, free-wheeling layout. The Goodyear tire compound designated for both the Watkins Glen test and the race weekend is the same used for right-side tires in XFINITY Series competition at Iowa Speedway. Those Iowa right-sides will be used at all four corners for the Sprint Cup event at the 2.45-mile road course. Racing with a softer tire with more adhesion would potentially introduce the threat of excessive wear or blistering. It's a trade-off that Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Chase Elliott says he's willing to accept. "I think a lot of it is just having a fresh surface like this, you've got to have a tire that's pretty hard," said Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports' driver representative for the two-day test. "It's fast, and to ask a tire to hold up, you've got to bring something that's durable. It puts Goodyear in a tough spot, but I think they do a good job of trying to make the most of tough situations. There's been a lot of repaves here lately and I know they're working hard." David Groseclose, NASCAR's lead tire engineer, said Wednesday that the benefits of competing with a more rigid rubber compound outweighed the potential drawbacks. "As with all repaves -- same thing as Kentucky -- if you don't have a hard tire, you're going to blister them up," Groseclose said. "The way that works is if you've got a soft compound and you use it, the soft compounds tend to retain heat. It's just the nature of a soft compound. But on a repave, it's not going to wear so that heat's not going to be dissipated out of the tire. It has nowhere to go, so it stays in the tire, so that's why it blisters up. That's what we saw at Kentucky with the XFINITY and Truck Series." In addition to the surface itself, the track features new concrete for the rumble strips that border the circuit's turns and run-off areas. Some drivers found the differences barely noticeable, but Kurt Busch discovered a distinction the hard way with an early Tuesday spin as he bounded over the apex points in the backstretch chicane on one of his initial laps. "It's a lot different," said Tony Gibson, Busch's crew chief on the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet. "Kurt's like, 'I've got to learn all the curbs again.' The curbs over in the bus stop (chicane) are probably the biggest change. They're way more aggressive, and they've tightened up, so it's a lot tighter lane through there." Said Elliott, who will race here in Sprint Cup for the first time next weekend: "Some of the curbs may be a little different here or there, some a little rougher, a little smoother just depending on how they laid the asphalt in or however it worked. It's as close as you could make a track from an old surface to a repave, for sure." Five Sprint Cup teams participated in a Goodyear tire test May 10-11, and another 16 were present for this week's organizational test. For the remaining half of the field, the work toward finding the proper handle begins with opening practice on Friday, Aug. 5. "If you get your balance right, it'll be a no-drama," Gibson said. "Man, I told Kurt earlier, 'I'd hate to know I had to come here next Friday and hit the track for the first time and try to figure out these curbs and how much the race track has changed.' It'll be a handful in the short amount of time we get to practice. "It'll be interesting to see when we come back who has issues and who doesn't. But it's definitely going to be a plus to come and learn the race track, even if your car is not right or whatever, just getting here and getting behind the wheel and getting time on the race track is going to mean more." Pit notes: -- The full roster (in alphabetical order) of drivers and teams participating in the test: AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing), Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing), Clint Bowyer (HScott Motorsports), Chris Buescher (Front Row Motorsports), Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing), Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing), Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing), Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports), Brad Keselowski (Team Penske), Michael McDowell (Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing), Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing), Casey Mears (Germain Racing), Brian Scott (Richard Petty Motorsports), Regan Smith (Tommy Baldwin Racing), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing), Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing). -- Casey Mears turned the fastest lap in the two-day test, which was divided into four sessions of four hours apiece. Mears pushed the Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet in the closing session to a best lap of 126.7 mph, a good bit slower than the track qualifying record of 129.491 mph set by Marcos Ambrose in August 2014. -- Brad Keselowski returned to the track Wednesday, one day after his severe, nearly head-on crash in Turn 1. He turned 74 laps over both sessions in a reserve Team Penske No. 2 Ford. -- Two teams -- Furniture Row Racing (driver Martin Truex Jr.) and Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing (driver Michael McDowell) -- were absent from testing's opening day, arriving in the Watkins Glen garage Wednesday in time for the two closing sessions. -- Wednesday's final session was extended 30 minutes to a 5:30 p.m. ET close because of a nearly hour-long clean-up for fluid on the track. After Chase Elliott's No. 24 Chevrolet suffered a broken axle, Clint Bowyer's No. 15 Chevy ran over the part, damaging the car's transmission. -- NASCAR XFINITY Series teams are scheduled to turn their first laps on the new Watkins Glen surface next Thursday. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will stage a support race the following day on the 2.45-mile course.
Three wrecks in the first 50 laps at Daytona
Joey Logano gets turned early, Ricky Carmichael pounds the wall after a cut tire and Eric McClure gets turned into the fence after a push goes awry.
Elledge named crew chief for Allgaier, No. 31 in 2011
Turner Motorsports announced Wednesday that veteran crew chief Jimmy Elledge has joined the team to lead the efforts of the No. 31 Chevrolet driven by Justin Allgaier. Bringing with him years of experience, Elledge has been a part of several championship-winning organizations and has worked with an impressive mix of veteran and rookie drivers including Turner Motorsports driver, Reed Sorenson, as well as Juan Montoya, Casey Mears, A.J. Allmendinger, Bobby Hamilton and Dale Jarrett. He has one Cup Series win to his credit, leading Hamilton to his final victory at Talladega in 2001. Most recently, Elledge was the crew chief for the No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota driven by six drivers including Sorenson, Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers. Turner Motorsports is in the midst of its inaugural full season of NASCAR competition. Owned by Texas-native Steve Turner, the racing organization is expanding in 2011 from a two-truck operation in the Camping World Truck Series to become the largest stand-alone multi-series team in NASCAR's top-tier touring series. Turner Motorsports operates out of an 110,000 square-foot state-of-the art facility in Mooresville, N.C., and will house three entries in both the Nationwide Series and the Truck Series. The team boasts a driver line-up that includes Allgaier, Kahne, Sorenson, Jason Leffler, Ricky Carmichael , James Buescher and Brad Sweet.
@nascarcasm Q&A with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -- aka 'Stenja'
RELATED: See Stenhouse Jr. compete on the show It's an age-old debate that's circulated around the world of professional sports for years -- are NASCAR drivers ninjas? Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr . is out to prove to the doubters that the answer is an unequivocal yes, as he takes a turn on the challenging "American Ninja Warrior" course on Monday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. NASCAR.com chose yours truly to interview Stenhouse, because of my encyclopedic knowledge of ninjitsu, gleaned from years of playing Mortal Kombat, listening to Wu-Tang Clan albums and sneaking stealthily into the office, several hours late for work. Stenhouse, a fierce devotee to physical fitness and the mysterious ways of the Shinobi, sat down with me to share his ninja thoughts before disapparating into the night. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN FIERCELY DEDICATED TO PHYSICAL FITNESS? IS THIS A RECENT DEVELOPMENT? Stenhouse: When I raced sprint cars when I was still in high school I would go to the gym at 5:30 in the morning before school, go to school, and then that way when I got out of school I didn't have to work out -- I could just work on my cars because I did all the work on my race cars. After growing up in the shop with my dad and him showing me how to do everything he sort of expected me to do it when I started racing. Probably two or three years ago I started doing CrossFit, so I feel like I've probably taken it a little more seriously since then. FOR FOLKS WHO DON’T FOLLOW YOU ON INSTAGRAM, COULD YOU PROVIDE A FEW DETAILS ON YOUR HOME GYM -- IT’S CALLED SLIDE JOB RANCH, I BELIEVE? Stenhouse: ' Slide Job' is more of a term for dirt racing. We do some slide jobs in NASCAR now, but it's a term used for when you slide up in front of somebody to pass somebody. And it just happens to be the same initials of 'Stenhouse Jr.' so it just kind of tied it all in together. ... AH, PERFECT … Stenhouse: … and we were able to build a home gym at the house. It's nice -- I'm able to work out and get done, get on the tractor and go mow, or get on the dirt bike and go ride. DIFFERENT DRIVERS HAVE THEIR PREFERRED WORKOUTS, WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON AND LANDON CASSILL WITH THE TRIATHLONS, AND BUBBA WALLACE JR. PLAYING DRUMS SHIRTLESS, ETC. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC WORKOUT? Stenhouse: CrossFit is the type of workout I do, and the guy that has won the CrossFit games four times in a row, Rich Froning -- every day he sends me a workout to do. So I have, the best programmer is what you would call him to send me workouts. It's funny, when he first started sending me workouts, one day he sent me a workout, and the next day I asked 'Hey, could you send me another workout?' and he said 'Did you do the one I sent you yesterday?' I was like, 'No…' and he was like 'Well do THAT one, THEN call me.' So he was pretty tough on me, but whenever he sends one to me I make sure I send him the results. SO ON TO THE SHOW ... HAVE YOU BEEN DOING SPECIFIC NINJA TRAINING FOR THIS? Stenhouse: I wish that I would have! I went to a gym in Dallas that had some "American Ninja Warrior" obstacle stuff. That was a lot of fun and I could do all the obstacles, but I did them in about an hour time period. I didn't do a lot of stuff back to back to back. And I didn't do everything here. I looked at the course yesterday and I haven't done any of the stuff that’s out here. They switch it up all the time. Yeah … I'm really nervous! I UNDERSTAND. IS THERE ONE PARTICULAR OBSTACLE OUT THERE THAT YOU ARE DREADING? Stenhouse: I’m not sure how the log roll is gonna go (NOTE: This obstacle is a log attached to a track on either side. The ninja must cling to the log for dear life, as it rolls downward about 20 feet, spinning the competitor rapidly until it reaches the end. Picture Bristol, but with a log). I am focused on getting through one at a time. If I make it to the fifth obstacle I'll be happy. I was telling some of the IndyCar guys (NOTE: IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and Josef Newgarden also compete), 'Man -- we should have done this in like, season two!' The course keeps evolving to meet the standards of the athletes who do this. I thought the course was a little easier a couple years ago when I first started watching than it is now. I wish I would have tried it a little bit sooner! GOTCHA. A LOT HAS BEEN MADE ABOUT NASCAR DRIVERS AND THEIR OFF-TRACK EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES. DOES JACK ROUSH KNOW YOU'RE A NINJA? Stenhouse: Um … probably not … OK … Stenhouse: … Jack has always been one to let his drivers enjoy what they do whether it be me riding dirt bikes or doing this ninja course or racing sprint cars. I haven't raced sprint cars for a while because he asked me not to for a while, but there’s nothing in our contracts that says we can't. Jack likes us to have fun -- I won a midget race over the offseason and he called me a couple days later to wish me a Merry Christmas. He asked me what I'd been up to and I was like, 'Umm … I won a midget race a couple of days ago … ' and he was like 'Oh, well how did that go?', so he's pretty laid back. DO YOU HAVE ANY PARTICULAR NINJAS YOU’VE IDOLIZED? Stenhouse: No, but when Danica and I started watching the show, Kacy (Catanzaro -- the first female to qualify for the 'American Ninja Warrior' finals) -- she was awesome. She got a huge following from people watching the show and it was really neat to see. But I think that if Chris Farley could be a ninja, I think that I could. THAT’S A VALID POINT. ASIDE FROM YOURSELF IF YOU COULD LOOK UP AND DOWN THE NASCAR ROSTER, WHAT DRIVER DO YOU THINK WOULD MAKE THE BEST NINJA? I JUST WANT TO COMPARE YOUR THOUGHTS TO MINE. I’VE PUT SOME DEEP THOUGHT INTO THIS. Stenhouse: Hmmm. I’m gonna have to think about this. Man. Honestly, I feel like it would be me. REALLY? Stenhouse: Yeah. INTERESTING. I DID NOT CHOOSE YOU. Stenhouse: Who were you thinking? MATT KENSETH, BECAUSE OF HIS ABILITY TO APPROACH WITH STEALTH. AND PAUL MENARD, BECAUSE OF HIS ABILITY TO MAINTAIN TOTAL SILENCE. Stenhouse: Ah -- see, I was thinking in terms of this course. I wasn't thinking of things like that. AND DENNY HAMLIN AND TONY STEWART, BECAUSE OF THEIR ABILITY TO THROW THINGS AT PEOPLE. Stenhouse: That's true. There's different ways of thinking about it. WELL I HAVE A LOT MORE FREE TIME THAN YOU DO, RICKY . IT’S OK, MAN. Stenhouse: Yeah, I was thinking of this course back here, and I think I could do better than any of the other drivers. UNDERSTOOD. FINAL QUESTION -- HAVE YOU THOUGHT OF A COOL NINJA NAME YET? BECAUSE “RICHARD THE NINJA” JUST DOESN’T WORK. Stenhouse: No … I have not. So if you want to give me one at some point ... "JACKIE CHAN-HOUSE JR." Stenhouse: I LIKE THAT -- that's solid. WELL, GOOD LUCK OUT THERE. IT’S AN HONOR TO BE ABLE TO SAY I WAS THE LAST ONE TO SPEAK TO RICKY STENHOUSE JR. BEFORE HE BECAME A FULL-FLEDGED NINJA. Stenhouse: I hope we do you proud. BEFORE YOU START RAPPELLING DOWN FROM COLOSSUS, OR NUNCHUCKING PEOPLE. Stenhouse: If I win, I'll do that. IS THAT A PROMISE? Stenhouse: That's a promise. The eighth season of "American Ninja Warrior" premiered on NBC on June 1.
Photos: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on 'American Ninja Warrior'
Check out Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s appearance on 'American Ninja Warrior'
Teams set to participate in Watkins Glen test
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams will receive extra track time this week at newly repaved Watkins Glen International, site of the final road-course race on this year's schedule. A total of 16 teams are scheduled to converge on the New York circuit for a two-day organizational test Tuesday and Wednesday in advance of the Aug. 7 Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (2:30 p.m. ET, USA, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The $12 million offseason repaving project marks the first full resurfacing at the facility since 1989. The new asphalt includes the 2.45-mile layout used in NASCAR competition and the longer 3.4-mile configuration used by other series. Five Sprint Cup teams received their first taste of the new pavement in Goodyear tire testing May 10-11. Drivers helping the tire manufacturer select the proper rubber compound for the race were Trevor Bayne , Carl Edwards , Kevin Harvick , Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano . Drivers (in alphabetical order) scheduled to participate this week: -- AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing) -- Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing) -- Clint Bowyer (HScott Motorsports) -- Chris Buescher (Front Row Motorsports) -- Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing) -- Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing) -- Matt DiBenedetto (BK Racing) -- Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing) -- Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports) -- Brad Keselowski (Team Penske) -- Michael McDowell (Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing) -- Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing) -- Casey Mears (Germain Racing) -- Brian Scott (Richard Petty Motorsports) -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing) -- Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing) The on-track schedule will feature two sessions each day -- 9 a.m.-noon ET and 1-5 p.m. ET. The garage will open both days at 7 a.m. ET. Other new details greeting drivers this week will be new concrete on pit road and on the rumble strips bordering the turns. The track also completed grading and landscaping work in the runoff areas. NASCAR XFINITY Series teams will get extra practice time on the new surface during an expanded race weekend. The schedule was extended from three days to four this year with the addition of two XFINITY practice sessions on Thursday, Aug. 4. The organizational test is the third of five scheduled this season for the Sprint Cup Series. It follows two-day tests at Kentucky Speedway (June 13-14) and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 12-13). The two-day Watkins Glen stop precedes organizational tests at Chicagoland Speedway (Aug. 23-24) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 18-19), sites for the opening race and the finale for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. </p>
The Rundown: Indianapolis driver grades
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Crown Royal Presents The Combat Wounded Coalition 400 At The Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway: 1. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Total domination. Busch won Saturday's and Sunday's races from the pole and led a record 149 laps Sunday. His average running position Sunday was 1.2, and his lowest position was third. Seriously? Busch's hammerlock on the field was on par with what Martin Truex Jr. did in the Coca-Cola 600 . Thus the same mark. Grade: AAA+ 2. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth is still winless at the Brickyard but has now finished second three times. More numbers: In Kenseth's first four starts at Indianapolis for JGR, his finishes are 5th, 4th, 7th and 2nd. Grade: A 3. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson had to do a pass-through on Lap 86 for a pit-road speeding penalty, dropping him to 23rd. Attrition and persistence led to Johnson's first top 10 since he finished third at Charlotte two months ago. Nice finish, but this team still needs to clean up its mistakes. Grade: A- 4. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Ditto the No. 11 team. Hamlin was assessed his seventh pit-road speeding penalty of the season one lap after Jimmie Johnson (same round of green-flag stops). Hamlin was running third at the time and fell back to 18th. Nice recovery, but … Grade: A- 5. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. Larson was the second-biggest winner of the afternoon, moving up four spots in the standings to 15th. Grade: A 6. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick upped his points lead to 24. Two races ago it was down to four. If you don't think that's important, remember this: If qualifying is rained out, the field is set by the standings -- as is the order of selecting a pit stall. So, yes, the standings still matter. Grade: A 7. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. Logano restarted second on the final restart but couldn't hold the position or make a run at Kyle Busch. Logano, by the way, finished second to Busch in last year's Brickyard. Grade: A 8. Martin Truex Jr. , No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing. Truex was strong all afternoon – his 5.6 average running position was second to Kyle Busch's – but he was no match for the winner. Grade: A 9. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Sunday's top 10 was Dillon's ninth of the season (20 starts), equaling his total for the first 85 starts of his Sprint Cup career. Grade: A 10. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Menard benefited from accidents in front of him that he was able to avoid to score his second top 10 of the season. Grade: A- 11. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart started third and was running with the leaders when he was caught speeding on pit road just before the third caution and had to restart at the tail end of the field, one lap down. He was still back in the pack (20th) with 25 laps to go in regulation. But then came all the cautions. "Smoke" finally got his lap back with a free pass on the fifth caution, survived contact with Jamie McMurray on Lap 166 and salvaged a decent finish on his last go-round at Indy. Grade: B 12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse survived the big Carl Edwards - Ryan Newman wreck that brought out the red flag to get a finish that belied his day. He turned 14 laps in the top 15 and had an average running positon of 20.1. Grade: B- 13. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Despite problems with restarts, Gordon was able to post his best finish of the season and overcome the incredible pressure of replacing Alex Bowman in the No. 88. ... Yes, I'm kidding. Except for the restarts part. Vive Monsieur Gordon! Grade: A 14. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Buescher recorded the best finish of his Sprint Cup career on a day in which he turned all of two laps in the top 15 and had a 23.7 average running position. Grade: B 15. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott registered his best finish since a second-place finish at Michigan more than a month ago. Grade: B 16. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. For only the second time this season, Busch failed to finish in the top 10 in back-to-back races. Grade: B- 17. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. Keselowski was the rage early on with his team's bold pit strategy, but the second half of the race bore zero resemblance to the first half. Getting caught up in the Carl Edwards - Ryan Newman wreck didn't help, either. Grade: B 18. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Despite a fourth-straight finish outside the top 10, Kahne moved up two spots in the standings to 16th, 10 points behind Kyle Larson . He jumped one driver who missed the race ( Dale Earnhardt Jr. ) and one who didn't use the best judgment and crashed with 10 laps to go ( Trevor Bayne ). Grade: C 19. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. McMurray's nice run came to a screeching halt on the restart on Lap 165 when he moved down in front of Tony Stewart but hadn't cleared the No. 14. Stewart wasn't about to lift, and the No. 1 went for a slide onto the access road before returning to the track and smacking Ryan Newman . Worse, the caution gave the free pass to Chase-cutoff competitor Kasey Kahne . Grade: B- 20. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Cassill avoided calamity to get his fourth-best finish of the season. Grade: B 21. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Bowyer contributed to the caution-fest at the end of the race when he got into the back of Trevor Bayne , who inexplicably went for the block with so much on the line (Chase standings) and running so far back in the field. Grade: C 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Wrong place, wrong time. Again. Patrick had nothing to do with the Carl Edwards - Ryan Newman wreck but still ended up a part of it. On the other hand, she finished right where she spent most of the race. Grade: C 23. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport-Leavine Family. McDowell posted his best finish at the Brickyard in seven starts. Grade: B- 24. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Mears finished in the top 25 for the 10th time this season. Grade: C 25. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Almirola, who is still looking for his first top 10 of the year, is on pace to have his worst season with RPM, for which he has been driving full time since 2010. Grade: C 26. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Smith posted his best finish since a 22nd at Pocono in early June. Grade: C 27. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Despite being collected in the last wreck of the day, Scott picked up his best finish in his past eight starts. Grade: C 28. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . After posting four top-30 finishes in his first 14 starts, Annett has four in his past six. Grade: C 29. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Since a 37.3 average finish in his first three starts of the season, Whitt has an average finish of 27.5 over his next 14 races. Grade: C 30. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Bayne's move to block Clint Bowyer on the backstretch on Lap 158 was as costly as it was ill-advised. Bayne spun all the way to his worst finish of the season and to 18th in the standings, 14 points behind 15th-place Kyle Larson . Grade: D 31. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman's day began to unravel on the restart on Lap 154. He restarted sixth, outside of Carl Edwards . On the first turn, Edwards drifted up into Newman and the No. 31 suffered major damage. With Newman sitting near the Chase cut-off line, it was important for him to coax the car home. He returned to the track but couldn't make it to the finish when Jamie McMurray ran up the track into him on the Lap 165 restart after contact with Tony Stewart . Bottom line: Valiant effort but a DNF and 10-point day. Grade: C 32. Ryan Ellis , No. 93 Toyota, BK Racing. Ellis picked up a career-best finish in his fourth Sprint Cup Series start. Grade: C 33. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson ran to form, and his 33.8 average finish is third-worst in the Sprint Cup Series among drivers with at least 10 starts. Grade: D 34. Patrick Carpentier, No. 32 Ford, GO FAS Racing . After not starting a Sprint Cup Series race since 2011, Carpentier made his second start of 2016. He finished 37th last month at Sonoma. Grade: D 35. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards was part of the strong JGR contingent all afternoon – 6.6 averaging running position – until his mishap on Lap 154. Whether it was a tight car or dirty tires, the outcome was costly as he dropped two spots in the standings. Grade: F 36. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney was collected and knocked out of the race in the Carl Edwards -initiated wreckage that resulted in a red flag. Blaney dropped two spots in the standings to 19th, and is now 22 points behind 15th-place Kyle Larson . Blaney began the day nine points ahead of Larson. Grade: C 37. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Ragan brought out the third caution on Lap 120 when his left-rear tire went down and he slammed the wall. It was his third DNF and second-worst finish of the season. Grade: F 38. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger was running 11th when his car lost water pressure. Moments later it overheated with less than 100 laps to go. It was Allmendinger's second DNF in the past three races. Grade: F 39. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Biffle's day ended after 53 laps when his right-front tire went down and he slammed into the outside wall. His streak of top 10s – three – ended as well. Grade: F 40. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. His engine didn't even make through five laps, leaving DiBenedetto with his seventh DNF of the season. "How is that even possible?" DiBenedetto tweeted. "Who has the voodoo doll of me that severely dislikes me?" Grade: F
Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse attend CMT Awards
No strangers to A-List, star-studded events, Danica Patrick and boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr . attended Wednesday night's CMT Awards at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. The No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing driver had the honor of presenting an award alongside country singer Kellie Pickler. Stenhouse Jr. revealed his red carpet look via Instagram before the show. RELATED: CMT to celebrate NASCAR with TV series The awards were emceed by sportscaster/television host Erin Andrews and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.