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Hot Laps: J.J. Yeley gives a point-of-view look at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Take a few laps around Charlotte Motor Speedway with J.J. Yeley as he explains some of the nuances of the track from a driver's perspective.
Texas And Rockingham Penalties Announced
Alan Cavanna gives you the latest information on the penalties handed down from NASCAR following the races at Texas Motor Speedway and Rockingham Speedway .
NASCAR Rockingham Speedway | Tracks : NASCAR Drivers, Race Standings & News | NASCAR.com
Rockingham Speedway schedule, news, media, tickets, and info for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series track only on the official site of NASCAR.
Rudd reflects on NASCAR career, time spent with Childress
Ricky Rudd was a youngster in NASCAR at a time when the term described anyone under 30 that drove around in used equipment and hoped someone noticed their talent before the wheels fell off. Richard Childress was a 36-year-old independent, an owner/driver with a potential sponsor that wasn't interested in 36-year-old owner/drivers, independent or otherwise. Brought together by nothing more than necessity -- Rudd needed a ride and Childress needed a driver -- the pair spent just two years together. But in two years' time, a stellar driving career and a legendary ownership role were launched. "Even today I can't thank Ricky enough for what he did for RCR," Childress said recently during an unveiling of throwback paint schemes to be run by two of his organization's three cars later this year in the Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway . "Those were the breaking points that we needed to get both of our careers jump-started. I think it was a great time for both of us." Austin Dillon , grandson of the team owner, will drive a No. 3 Chevrolet bearing the likeness of Rudd's No. 3 Piedmont Airlines entry at Darlington. "I'd been talking to Piedmont prior to that," Childress said of the 1982 sponsorship agreement. "Even talked to them back when Dale (Earnhardt) was running … races (for us). "They said, 'We're an up-and-coming airline, we want an up and coming driver.' I said, 'Well I know exactly the person.' I convinced Ricky to run for us. We didn't even have it done when he came over to drive for us." Childress had gone the independent route for roughly a dozen years, earning 76 top-10 finishes but never a victory in 285 career starts as a driver. Rudd had begun to climb the racing ladder, but saw his career stall at the end of '81 when he was replaced at DiGard Racing by veteran Bobby Allison. "About that time I got a call from Richard," Rudd said. "He said, 'Hey, nothing concrete but I've got some good equipment that I'm going to Daytona with, would you be willing to drive our car?' That's how it started. "That phone call didn't take place until late December, maybe early January. ... I didn't have anything going that was better than what Richard had to offer. I went to the car that I thought gave me the best chance to win races. Even though the prior half season Dale Earnhardt was driving the car and everyone knows Earnhardt's capabilities but they never really performed that well. There were reasons for that, but Richard was in a major rebuild during that time." Earnhardt drove for Richard Childress Racing for the final 11 races of '81, but departed to spend the next two years with Bud Moore where he won three times. Meanwhile, the RCR organization was beginning to make strides. "Before we went to Daytona, things had started happening. Piedmont Airlines had stepped on board as a sponsor. Goodyear came on board and helped us out with some tires ... there were a lot of people that got on board and liked what they saw," Rudd said. "The team just continued to snowball in the right direction after I was asked to join it, not because of me, but the timing was perfect for me as a driver and was perfect for Richard as an owner, through all the hard work and people he had. It came together and worked." Rudd and Childress went winless in their first season together, but the driver did finish ninth in points. The following year, Rudd began the season with three consecutive poles -- at Daytona, Richmond, Virigina, and Rockingham , North Carolina -- career win No. 1, for Rudd and for Childress, came in the season's 13th race, at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. Rudd led 57 laps of the 95-lap race, including the final 41. The victory came in his 161st start in the series. "It gave every one of us confidence," Childress said. "It gave him confidence to progress in the sport, gave us confidence that we could win as a team and as a company and we just had to keep digging." "It wasn't a road-race car," Will Lind, now Business Director of Competition for RCR, said. "It was our Martinsville car with the gas hole moved and the oil cooler for the transmission. The only thing specialized about it was him (Rudd)." Afterward, as Childress and crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine began the long trek back to the Carolinas, the team owner said he pulled off on the side of the road. "Kirk and I looked at each other and Kirk said, 'You know what we just did?' "I said, 'Yeah, we won.' " "He said, 'No, you won right outside of LA, with all the big sports going on ... we just won a major race here in Riverside, California.' " Rudd won once more that season, at Martinsville Speedway , and again finished ninth in points. The following season, he moved on to join Bud Moore Engineering; Earnhardt, meanwhile returned to RCR where he went on to win six premier series titles for the former owner/driver. Rudd retired from driving after the 2007 season, with 23 career wins and 374 top-10 finishes in 906 starts. He finished fifth or better in points five times, including second in 1991. He is one of five new nominees on this year's 20-person ballot to be considered for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame for 2017. The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel will meet Wed., May 25 to decide next year's five-member class. "It's an exciting time for me," Rudd said. "It would be great if I make it but there are some guys that are probably better qualified than me. I'd love to be elected this year but hopefully that day will come. At least I'm in the pool anyway; you've got to get in the pool before you can be elected. We'll see how it turns out. But there are some guys that deserve to be in there before I do." It is Childress' eighth year on the Hall of Fame ballot. In addition to six premier series titles and 105 victories, RCR teams have also XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series titles. "You could tell early on that there was something special about it," Rudd said of the organization. "Richard was more than just being a car owner ... it was family. They live, eat, sleep and breathe racing. ... "At the time there were no victories here but as a group it all started happening. And it was just a neat time to be a part of it." MORE: Cast your NASCAR Hall of Fame ballot
Daytona International Speedway lands new Founding Partner
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Daytona International Speedway formally welcomed Axalta Coating Systems as its fifth Founding Partner on Monday. The 150-year-old company will name the center injector of the newly remodeled speedway -- its 32,000 square feet of "branding and engagement opportunities" will occupy not only center "stage" for the facility, but also will be the largest available injector space. Sunoco, Toyota, Chevrolet, and Florida Hospital own the naming rights for the other four injectors. Axalta executives joined Speedway leaders such as ISC Chief Executive Officer Lesa France Kennedy and newly named Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile for the occasion on a bright, sunny Monday afternoon just outside the site of Axalta's new branding opportunity. "Axalta has been an incredible partner in our sport for many years," France Kennedy said, noting "their activation will enable us to further enhance the fan and spectator experience, which is the main focus of our new stadium." Wile -- in his first major press conference since being named president of NASCAR's most famous track -- said he fully expected the relationship with Axalta would help the track "be taken to the next level." Speaking to the excitement the brand brings and noting its longtime relationship with the sport -- including its former sponsorship of recently retired driver Jeff Gordon 's Chevrolet and currently with Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s -- Axalta Chairman and CEO Charlie Shaver called the DIS union "a huge milestone for us" and expected it to be a "a bit of a blank canvas to start the next 150 years" of the company. "We wanted a presence," Shaver said. "And the appeal for us is furthering a relationship and having that presence. We have the branding rights, but also a relationship." Shaver said he initially considered his company's branding opportunities at DIS more than a year ago as construction of the new facility was still in full swing. He said he even sat down with multi-time NASCAR champion owner, and longtime NASCAR participant Rick Hendrick to discuss ideas. "We talked about where the sport is and where it could be," Shaver said. He noted that the company is technology-based and it will feature a strong business-to-business relationship in using its new DIS platform. "During the year we'll bring groups of customers with us to the track," Shaver said, noting it has more than 120,000 company-based relationships and that most customers would "jump at the chance" to come to Daytona International Speedway . The relationship between Axalta and DIS gives the company not only naming rights for the center injector, but branding rights inside the new-look track and the central "neighborhood" area that overlooks the track's famous start/finish line.
Hot Lap: David Ragan gives a point-of-view look at Kansas Speedway
Take a pace lap around Kansas Speedway with David Ragan as he explains some of the nuances of the track from a driver's perspective.
Custer earns top-five result in second XFINITY start
RELATED: Full results " Relive the day in photos CONCORD, N.C. -- After a career-best fourth-place finish in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 4K TV 300 , Cole Custer emerged from his No. 88 Chevrolet beet-red but satisfied with his result at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The 18-year-old earned a fist bump and congratulations from JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier , among others. "Really happy with where we ended up there," Custer said. "Good call there at the end taking two tires and catching a little more track position. We were just able to make some things happen there on that last restart. "Day didn't start out that great. We got some damage on pit road but we were able to work our way back up there and ended up pretty well." Custer spent much of the latter half of the race running in the top 10, even leading a lap (his first in the series) and spent some time in the top five before starting to fade back to seventh. A late caution from an accident involving Erik Jones on Lap 198 opened the door for some pit strategy to get back some track position. Crew chief Dave Elenz told NASCAR.com there was no doubt what call he had to make. "We were doing two," Elenz said on pit road after the race. "We were set on that. We had to get ahead of the 18 (eventual race winner Denny Hamlin , who restarted sixth on four fresh tires), so that was the only way we were going to do that. We actually were going to stay out if we could have gotten the front row, but that didn’t happen." Custer restarted in fifth on the third row with Hamlin, and the California native was able to gain one spot in the overtime finish. The result builds off a sixth-place showing Custer had last month at Richmond International Raceway in his series debut. Custer has three more starts slated to come for JRM at Kentucky Speedway in the No. 88 (July 8), before returning to the No. 5 at Charlotte (Oct. 7) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19). JR Motorsports teammate Allgaier has noticed what a quick study Custer is, and Custer admitted that he has picked the brain of veteran teammate Elliott Sadler a little bit. Allgaier said he enjoys having a rotating cast of drivers in the No. 88 Chevrolet that already has included Chase Elliott , Kevin Harvick , Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Alex Bowman . "I told Cole as soon as the race was over, he did a great job today," said Allgaier, who finished fifth. "He was on it, no question, and those guys did a great job. "I think as a company, when you get into that grind of going every week and pushing each other each and every week, it can be sometimes hard to race every week and to not get stale or stagnate. Having those guys come in and push us and we learn from them, I think it definitely helps the whole organization." And with two strong results on the board in the XFINITY Series, Custer is optimistic that the results and speed will carry over to his run at a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. The two-time winner in the series is in the midst of his first full-time season in the sport and sits 15th in the standings. "We've definitely struggled some in the truck and we thought we were having more speed," Custer said. "I think we are going to have some speed here coming up. I think we are working real hard on it with Joe (Shear Jr., crew chief of the No. 00 Chevrolet) and everybody, so I think we will definitely have some speed, but it definitely means a lot to know that I can still do it."
Mark Martin will drive pace car before Coca-Cola 600
RELATED: 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame class revealed " Event photos Mark Martin 's back in a car this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway -- this time, however, it will be in the pace car. Freshly minted as a selectee in the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2017, Martin jumped at the opportunity to log laps again before the Coca-Cola 600 -- a race he won in 2002. Martin will lead the field to green for the 57th running of the Coca-Cola 600 and said, "When the speedway called to ask me if I'd do it, my first reaction was 'Hell, yeah!' " "Originally I'd planned to be at Indy, but now I get to do the 'double' in a way, and I can say I'll be driving at Charlotte," Martin said. " Charlotte Motor Speedway was always my favorite race track. I was fortunate enough to have a lot of success there, including winning a Coke 600. Bruton and Marcus always put on a fabulous show, and this will be cool to lead the field to green in front of thousands of fans that I enjoyed racing for all those years." WATCH: Stewart completes Indy-Charlotte 'double' Several drivers, notably including current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitors Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch , have competed in the Memorial Day Double, racing in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 . Stewart was the first to complete all 1,100 miles in one day in 2001. Martin plans to see the start of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday before heading to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.)
Truex Jr. earns Coors Light Pole for Coca-Cola 600
RELATED: Lineup " See each car in Sunday's race CONCORD, N.C. – Martin Truex Jr . crashed a Ford party on Thursday night, winning the pole for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio). With his team making adjustments to the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota throughout the qualifying session, Truex saved his best lap for the round that counted, covering the 1.5-mile distance in 28.077 seconds (192.328 mph) to edge Team Penske Ford driver Joey Logano (192.007 mph) by .047 seconds for the top starting spot in NASCAR's longest race. The Coors Light Pole Award was Truex's second of the season and the ninth of his career. Both of the New Jersey driver's poles this year have come on 1.5-mile tracks, the previous one at Kansas Speedway earlier this month. "We really had to work pretty hard for it today," said Truex, whose lap in the final round of qualifying was .27 seconds faster than his fastest practice lap. "It was just one of those Charlotte deals where the track was continuously changing. "We were just chasing the race track and changing the car and really never got it close to right until that last run. I'm really just proud of the effort and proud of all my guys for that. It feels good – 600 miles, that first pit stall (the pole winner's prerogative) … We're going to be on pit road a lot on Sunday night, and that's certainly going to be an advantage. "Hopefully, we can take advantage of it and make it work for us." Logano led both the first and second rounds but couldn’t match Truex’s top speed in the third and final session. "I got a little bit tight landing in (Turn) 1 and then a little bit free off (the corner)," Logano said. "It wasn't much. And then (Turns) 3 and 4, I actually thought was a pretty good corner. "So I would say most of it was down in 1 and 2 – probably at landing and through the center is where I lost most of my momentum. It's not much. Half-a-tenth of a second doesn't take long." Logano was the best of the Ford drivers, who held three of the four top spots in the first round of knockout qualifying and swept the top four in the second. In the final round, Fords were second, third and fifth. Ricky Stenhouse Jr . qualified third at 191.428 mph, followed by Denny Hamlin (191.388 mph) and Brad Keselowski (190.968 mph). Joining Stenhouse in the top 10 were his Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle (sixth) and Trevor Bayne (10th), marking the first time since the April race at Texas in 2014 that three RFR cars have made the final round of knockout qualifying. Dale Earnhardt Jr . will start 25th after failing to advance past the first round by .014 seconds. Matt Kenseth (27th), Austin Dillon (28th) and Kasey Kahne (29th) also will have to come from deep in the field after disappointing efforts in time trials. Kurt Busch , who topped the speed chart in opening practice with the fastest lap of the day (192.843 mph), will start 13th after failing to make the final round by .08 seconds.
H2H: Would 600 win mean more to Junior or Busch?
RELATED: Full 600 coverage A winner's trophy for the marathon, reputation-making Coca-Cola 600 is certainly one of the most prized possessions in all of NASCAR. The longest race (600 miles) on the NASCAR circuit is about so much more than just distance, too. There's the history of having such a contest at the 1.5-mile track just north of the Charlotte, North Carolina, NASCAR hub, not to mention this is the only race with three unique sets of elements: A race that starts under the sun, traverses to dusk and ends at night under the lights makes for three time frames with three unique sets of circumstances. Yes, it is truly a battle of man vs. machine. That's what makes it so difficult to win the Coca-Cola 600 , which both Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr . have never done. In fact, neither has won a points-paying event at Charlotte Motor Speedway . So which driver would benefit most from a win Sunday? Brad Norman and George Winkler set out to answer the question. PHOTOS: All of Busch's victories " See Junior's patriotic scheme NORMAN: So sorry, Junior Nation, but Sunday's race is more important to Kyle Busch . "Rowdy" has been on an incredible hot streak since returning from a broken leg last season -- eight wins in 37 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Four of those victories were his first at the tracks in Indianapolis, Homestead, Martinsville and Kansas, respectively. There are only two tracks remaining on the circuit where Busch has not won a Cup race -- Charlotte and Pocono. The career-sweep is a mind-boggling feat, making Sunday's event a massive deal for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. WINKLER: Sure, it would be impressive for Kyle Busch to add to his resume with a victory at Charlotte, but it would be an all-out celebration for Junior to win the Coca-Cola 600 . From downtown Kannapolis, North Carolina, (where Junior grew up) to Charlotte Motor Speedway is just a 25-minute drive, so one can only imagine the type of attention a victory like this would get. Plus, Junior has said repeatedly that winning the Coca-Cola 600 is a top priority of his and one of the gaps he'd most like to fill on his resume. NORMAN: Yeah, it's a big 'un for Junior on a personal level. History is at stake for Busch, though. Not just personal history, either -- team history. Check out some of the most historic races on the NASCAR circuit and their results over the past year -- 2015 Coca-Cola 600 ( Carl Edwards wins); 2015 Brickyard 400 ( Kyle Busch wins); 2015 Southern 500 ( Carl Edwards wins); Homestead finale ( Kyle Busch wins, and wins 2015 championship); 2016 Daytona 500 ( Denny Hamlin wins). JGR has a ridiculous streak at stake in these types of races, too. There's simply way more on the line for both "Rowdy" and the organization at large. WINKLER: See, I think the reverse is true. Because JGR has been so dominant this season, I think it's more important for Hendrick Motorsports , and particularly Junior, to re-establish their mojo. Earnhardt Jr. has wrecked in two of his last three points-paying races, has had some races where he qualified poorly but came through the field and others where he overcame in-race issues and the odds to post top fives. Considering how Junior has battled this season, I think he's tested and ready to fight for the whole 600 miles and be in a good position to win.