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
Stewart talks special moment with Gordon post-Indy
RELATED: Race results " Standings " Chase Grid " See the moment SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- With the field lined up for the first of what turned out to be two overtime restarts Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Tony Stewart clicked his radio and made a request. "Tell (the 88) after this is over let's go around the track one more time together," Stewart, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing and driver of the organization's No. 14 Chevrolet, said. Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and twice a winner of the The Combat Wounded Coalition 400, wanted to slow down instead of go fast, and soak in the moment with a familiar foe and friend, regardless of how his final race at IMS ended. Jeff Gordon , driving the Hendrick Motorsports entry in relief of Dale Earnhardt Jr. , was more than willing to oblige. Hours earlier, Gordon had paid tribute to Stewart, acknowledging him and what he has meant to NASCAR during the morning drivers' meeting. RELATED: Gordon talks return, Dale Jr. " WATCH: Gordon climbs in No. 88 So before race winner Kyle Busch made it to Victory Lane, prior to he and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates gathering to kiss the bricks on the finish line, Stewart and Gordon, two old warhorses with a combined seven championships and 142 Sprint Cup Series wins between them, slowly circled the 2.5-mile track one final time to the cheers of the fans and many of those still on pit road. MORE: Relive 'Smoke's' 49 career victories Afterward, Gordon climbed from his car and approached Stewart; the two hugged on pit road amid a throng of reporters. "I can say that just ranks in the top-three coolest moments of my 18 years in this series," said Stewart, who will retire from Sprint Cup racing at season's end. "To share that moment with Jeff here at Indianapolis, I don't know. I don't even have the words for it. That is a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life." For the record, Stewart finished 11th in his final Sprint Cup start at the famed Brickyard. It was a hard-fought 11th with the 45-year-old rallying from a lap down after running strong in the first half of the 170-lap race. Gordon, scheduled to make at least one more start next week at Pocono's Pennsylvania 400 in relief of Earnhardt Jr., rallied, too, to finish 13th. "Tony and I have gone through a lot over the years," he said. "But he and I have become really good friends. ... I'm just so proud that I was able to be here and race with him in his final race (at Indy)." Stewart ran as high as second early, moving up from his No. 3 starting position in spite of a slow takeoff when the race went green. Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz and the pit crew continued to make adjustments throughout the first half of the race, keeping Stewart inside the top 10, but at one point admitted to his driver, "We're just barely keeping up with the track." Stewart hit pit road at Lap 119 under green, and when the caution came out for an incident involving David Ragan , it appeared the move might work in the team’s favor -- others that hadn't pitted would come to pit road, allowing Stewart to gain track position. But a speeding penalty negated any advantage, and Stewart instead found himself in 31st and one lap down. By then, it was too late to change game plans, according to Bugarewicz. "Normally you would say yes when it's early in the race," he said. "When it's late in the race like that, your fate's almost ... you just have to race for the (free pass) and hope you get it like we did. That's all you've got. "Nobody was going to pit again if it stayed green because they're already in the last fuel window so at that point it was just ... banking on getting a caution and being the best car out of the cars that were a lap down to get the lucky dog, which is what we did. "We got fortunate with a few more cautions to let us line back up at the tail of the field and start picking them off." On Lap 140, Stewart passed Kasey Kahne (Hendrick Motorsports) to be in positon for the free pass, and when the caution flag waved for debris moments later, he was back on the lead lap. Three more cautions unfolded before the finish, including one that involved Stewart, Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing), Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing) and Brian Scott (Richard Petty Motorsports). WATCH: Big wreck claims multiple cars at Indy "That last one probably hurt us in one sense -- with the nose damage we had, the car was really tight," Bugarewicz said. "But ... we're not going to complain, we're just going to take what we've got and be happy for it." The finish moved Stewart up one spot, to 27th, in points. With a win earlier at California's Sonoma Raceway, he continues to improve his chances at earning a berth in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. But with Indy in his rearview, Stewart wasn't in a hurry to look too far down the road. "It was an awesome weekend," he said. "Everything went the way we wanted it to, we just came up short today. "I had fun all day and had fun all weekend. ... Everybody tried to make my weekend as easy as possible. It really gave me the opportunity to savor the moment and enjoy it." MORE: 'Smoke' receives unique gift from Indy
Kyle Busch dominates for back-to-back Indianapolis sweep
RELATED: Results " Standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Busch gear SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Mission accomplished, a record set, and a torch passed to the next generation. Kyle Busch set a Brickyard record for laps led and became the first driver to sweep both a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series race from the pole in the same weekend, but the real symbolism of Sunday's Crown Royal 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway didn't come until the event was over. As Busch spun his No. 18 Toyota in a celebratory burnout and took his customary bows near the yard of bricks, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon slowly circled the track, driving side by side, waving to fans acknowledging their career accomplishments after what is expected to be their respective last appearances at the Brickyard. In heat that reached 130 degrees on the asphalt, Stewart recovered from a pit road speeding penalty to finish 11th in his retirement year, and Gordon ran 13th in what was an unanticipated substitute role for ailing Dale Earnhardt Jr. But Busch received his share of the applause, too, as fans have begun to acknowledge his ascent, at age 31, to the small group of elite drivers in NASCAR's history. To say he accomplished his second straight weekend sweep of the Indy races emphatically is to understate the case. In a race that went 25 miles beyond its scheduled distance, thanks to a rash of late cautions, Busch led 149 of 170 laps, a record for the event. In the two-lap overtime shootout that decided the issue, Busch crossed the finish line an astounding 2.126 seconds ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth , who ran second. "This Toyota was awesome today," said Busch, who won his second Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis, his fourth of the season and the 38th of his career. "It was just so fast and able to get out front and stay out front. Not even some of my teammates could challenge. This was hooked up and on rails. "Adam Stevens (crew chief) and these guys are a phenomenal group, and I'm proud to be with them. It's fun to come out here and have such a dominant piece at Indy. They don't come along often, so I was just hoping I didn't screw it up." Busch is acutely aware of the history of the sport, and completing a weekend sweep by winning both races from the pole was high on his bucket list. "It's so cool because it hasn't been done before," said the defending Sprint Cup champion, who is the second driver to win back-to-back races at the Brickyard -- the other being Jimmie Johnson in 2008 and 2009. "I've tried and been successful at being able to do a lot of things that others haven't been able to do before. I guess I give myself more chances than others because I run more of those (XFINITY) races. "It helps you, and when it helps you win on Sunday, that's what makes everything so worthwhile on those Saturday races. The guys on Saturday do a good job, too, helping prepare me and being able to do this stuff on Sunday." Busch was on cruise control, heading toward an easy victory, when NASCAR called a debris caution on Lap 150 to remove a piece of sheet metal near the exit from Turn 2. One of six drivers who stayed out on older tires, Busch led the field to green on Lap 154. Moments later, the No. 19 Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards tightened up in the inside lane, twitched out of control and ignited a five-car wreck that necessitated a stoppage that lasted 7 minutes, 25 seconds. "It felt like I just got tight down there," Edwards said. "I had a little trouble there on the starts, and I got down there, we were fighting really hard for the bottom, and it felt like I got tight with whoever was on the outside of me. "If indeed that is what happened, I apologize. That's pretty frustrating. ... It felt like I got in there and just scrubbed that right front." The following two restarts also brought cautions, the eighth and final one coming when Jamie McMurray made an ill-advised lane change in front of Stewart near the end of pit road and spun sideways off the front bumper of Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet, also collecting Ryan Newman and Brian Scott . When the race restarted on Lap 169, Busch cleared Joey Logano and Kenseth off Turn 1 and pulled away relentlessly until the finish. Johnson overcame a pass-through penalty for speeding on pit road to run third, followed by Denny Hamlin , another speeding penalty victim and the third JGR driver in the top four. Kyle Larson came home fifth, posting his fourth top five of the season. But the story of the day was the long good-bye from Stewart and Gordon, juxtaposed against the backdrop of Busch's emphatic hello to greatness at the flag stand. </p>
Results from Indianapolis heat races
Heat 1 Finish Car Driver Team 1 18 Kyle Busch (i) NOS Energy Drink Toyota 2 42 Kyle Larson (i) ParkerStore Chevrolet 3 22 Joey Logano (i) Discount Tire Ford 4 19 Daniel Suarez Juniper Networks Toyota 5 1 Elliott Sadler OneMain Chevrolet 6 98 Jeb Burton Estes Ford 7 33 Brandon Jones # Jeld-Wen/Menards Chevrolet 8 16 Ryan Reed Lilly Diabetes/American Diabetes Association Ford 9 11 Blake Koch LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet 10 51 Jeremy Clements RepairableVehicles.com/SDD Chevrolet 11 44 J.J. Yeley Zachry Toyota 12 14 Jeff Green Toyota 13 0 Garrett Smithley # teamjdmotorsports.com Chevrolet 14 01 Ryan Preece # teamjdmotorsports.com Chevrolet 15 13 Harrison Rhodes TredWear.com/Masters Properties Toyota 16 25 Stanton Barrett KeensBuildings.com Chevrolet 17 74 Mike Harmon truckersfinalmile.org Dodge 18 89 Morgan Shepherd Chevrolet 19 40 Timmy Hill (i) CrashClaimsR.Us/Icard Merrill Dodge 20 10 Matt DiBenedetto (i) Toyota * -- Daniel Suarez and Elliott Sadler are eligible to run for the Dash 4 Cash in the main race. Heat 2 Finish Car Driver Team 1 20 Erik Jones # Hisense USA Toyota 2 88 Kevin Harvick (i) Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet 3 7 Justin Allgaier BRANDT Chevrolet 4 2 Paul Menard (i) Richmond/Menards Chevrolet 5 48 Brennan Poole # DC Solar Chevrolet 6 3 Ty Dillon Rheem/Nidec/US Motors Chevrolet 7 6 Darrell Wallace Jr. Ford EcoBoost Ford 8 62 Brendan Gaughan South Point Chevrolet 9 39 Ryan Sieg NiceTargets Chevrolet 10 28 Dakoda Armstrong WinField Toyota 11 4 Ross Chastain Dream Water Chevrolet 12 07 Ray Black Jr. # Scuba Life Chevrolet 13 46 Brandon Gdovic TCC Culture of Good Chevrolet 14 78 BJ McLeod # Safecraft Safety Equipment Ford 15 93 David Starr Massimo Motors Chevrolet 16 90 Mario Gosselin BuckedUp Apparel Chevrolet 17 97 Ryan Ellis VroomBrands Chevrolet 18 70 Derrike Cope E-hydrate/Circle Track Warehouse Chevrolet 19 52 Joey Gase Donate Life Chevrolet 20 15 Todd Peck Carport Empire/Lilly Trucking Ford * -- Erik Jones and Justin Allgaier are eligible to run for the Dash 4 Cash in the main race.
The Rundown: New Hampshire driver grades
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: 1. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Not even a hiccup on pit road during the second caution could derail the No. 20 team. Remember this for when the Sprint Cup Series returns to Loudon for the second Chase race: Kenseth has won two in a row at New Hampshire and three of the past six. Grade: A 2. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Smoke's third top five in the past four races gives him 185 for his career, tying Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett for 16th all time. And to think that just a few weeks ago the discussion was whether Stewart would crack the top 30. Grade: A+ 3. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. The No. 22 team used the race as a test for the September race at Loudon and still finished in the top five for the fifth time in the past six weeks. Grade: A 4. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Great finish, but the continued woes on pit road are troubling -- especially this late into the season. Grade: A- 5. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Fact 1: Taking a wave around followed by another caution enabled Biffle (and others, as you will see) to post a great finish, despite running only 20 laps in the top 15. Fact 2: In racing, you're ultimately judged by where you finish. And Biffle has his first top five since last September at Loudon. Grade: B+ 6. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. McMurray said his goal was to minimize mistakes to keep alive his Chase chances, yet he found himself jousting side-by-side with Denny Hamlin with 21 laps to go. Fortunately for McMurray, they traded only paint, and McMurray was able to post his second-consecutive top 10 and take advantage of Dale Earnhardt Jr. 's absence to move up a spot to 14th in the standings. Grade: A 7. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman was part of the wave-around gang and left Loudon a solid 12th in the standings. Sometimes, timing is everything: Newman's average running position for the day, 21.0, was the worst among top-10 finishers, just below Greg Biffle's 20.4. Grade: B 8. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch led a race-high 133 laps, the first time since last September at Chicagoland he has led the most laps and not won. Grade: A 9. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin ran with the leaders all afternoon. He stayed out on the fourth caution and restarted with the lead on Lap 269. He held it one more lap before Matt Kenseth passed him. But his dust-up with Jamie McMurray caused a tire rub on the No. 11 and a pit stop on the sixth caution. Grade: A 10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse spent all of 30 laps in the top 15 but was one of the drivers who parlayed the wave around on the fifth caution into a good finish. Grade: B 11. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney fell from 11th to 25th after serving a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 184. He was able to avoid a points calamity with a wave around on the fifth caution. He's 17th in the standings, two points behind Trevor Bayne and 16 behind 15th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. Grade: B- 12. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The polesitter led the first lap, and that was it. He did, however, post his best finish since coming home third at Charlotte in May. Grade: B 13. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. A solid finish enabled Dillon to take advantage of Dale Earnhardt Jr. 's absence and move up a spot to 13th in the standings. Grade: B 14. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Danica also was a wave-around winner Sunday, finishing well ahead of her 23.7 average running position. It was her second-best finish of the season. Grade: B- 15. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. Keselowski was having a great day until he found himself sandwiched between teammate Joey Logano low and Kurt Busch high with fewer than 20 laps to go. Keselowski made contact with both and cut a tire, ending any chances for a better finish. Grade: B 16. Martin Truex Jr. , No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing. Truex had a great car and led 123 laps until ... his gear shift broke with fewer than 50 laps to go and then his clutch went, meaning he had trouble leaving pit road and trouble on restarts. Pit road was Truex's problem, restarts was everyone else's. Grade: C 17. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. Running seventh, Larson's fate was sealed with 15 laps to go when Ryan Newman got into the back of Carl Edwards , who hit Larson and sent him spinning. It could have been a lot worse. Grade: B 18. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Menard finished 18th for the second week in a row and fifth time this season. If you think I'm counting, you're right. Grade: C 19. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Almirola's streak without a top-10 finish hit 20 races. Grade: C 20. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. It was unintentional, but Ryan Newman got into the back of Edwards with 15 laps to go, touching off the final caution. Edwards had a top-10 car and was running eighth when it happened. Grade: B 21. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger rolled off the grid 10th but couldn't convert his best start at Loudon since September 2010 into a quality finish. A penalty for his crew over the wall too soon on Lap 222 didn't help. Grade: C 22. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Running in the top 10, Busch was up top on a three-wide with Joey Logano low and Brad Keselowski in the middle. Contact with Keselowski resulted in a tire rub and a couple of laps later a blown left-rear tire. It is only the fourth time this season Busch has finished outside the top 10. Even with the blowout, he still had an average running position of 7.0. Grade: B 23. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. 'Twas not Bayne's day. He completed zero laps in the top 15, and if it weren't for the lucky dog on Lap 277, his finish would have been worse. He also benefitted from Dale Earnhardt Jr. absence. Bayne is 16th in points, 14 behind Junior. Grade: C- 24. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. This was not the same Clint Bowyer who has two wins and seven top 10s at New Hampshire. Maybe next year. Grade: C 25. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne was one of the bigger losers Sunday. He had a solid top-15 car and was vying for a top-10 finish when he was collected in the Ryan Newman - Carl Edwards - Kyle Larson wreck and his promising day went south with 15 laps to go. He dropped a spot to 18th in the standings. Grade: B- 26. Alex Bowman , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Bowman was the story of the day, subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. , who missed the race because of concussion-like symptoms. He was staring at the best finish of his young Sprint Cup career when a tire went down and he hit the wall on Lap 273 while running eighth. Grade: B 27. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Mears improved his finish a handful of spots thanks to the lucky dog on the final caution. Grade: C- 28. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Cassill posted his second-best finish at New Hampshire in his past seven starts at the track. Grade: C 29. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Buescher brought out the second caution when he spun on Lap 100 trying to avoid Josh Wise , who had slowed just ahead of him. He finished two laps down. Grade: C 30. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. An unscheduled pit stop under green on Lap 130 for a vibration costs Ragan a better finish. He was running in the top 25 at the time. Grade: C 31. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. DiBenedetto's finish tied for his best since a 30th-place run at Kansas in May. Grade: D 32. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Smith was making his first start at New Hampshire since September 2012 when he finished 16th. Grade: D 33. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Annett's run of top-30 finishes ended at two (20th at Daytona, 26th at Kentucky). Grade: D 34. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott sustained a tire rub as cars made contact behind the hobbled car of Martin Truex Jr. on the restart on Lap 269. Four laps later, while running in the top 10, the tire blew. Even with the poor finish, Elliott still had an average running position of 10.2. Grade: C 35. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Just like Michael Annett , Sorenson's run of top-30 finishes ended at two (22nd at Daytona, 27th at Kentucky). Grade: D 36. Eddie MacDonald , No. 32 Ford, GO FAS Racing. MacDonald, a K&N Pro Series East veteran from Massachusetts, made his third Sprint Cup Series start, all in the No. 32 Ford at New Hampshire. Last July he finished 37th and the year before 35th. Grade: C- 37. Ryan Ellis , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Ellis also made his third Sprint Cup Series start but first at New Hampshire. He finished nine laps back Sunday. Grade C- 38. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. A fluid leak caused Scott's brakes to fail. He finished 23 laps back. Grade: F 39. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport-Leavine Family. Electrical issues doomed McDowell to his second DNF of the season, all in his past three starts. Grade: F 40. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. One week after his best finish of the season (24th at Kentucky), Wise got his fifth DNF (accident). Grade: F &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Ellis upset after wreck with Crum
Ryan Ellis shows his displeasure with Jake Crum after an incident at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.
Staff picks for Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
RELATED: See all the cars lined up for Sunday's race Jimmie Johnson : "The focus is rightly on Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart this weekend. Away from the spotlight, though, Johnson and his No. 48 team finally get back on track with a dominant showing -- and "Six-Time" ties Gordon with his fifth career win at the Brickyard." -- Brad Norman Tony Stewart : 'Smoke' has been on a roll and no place means as much to him as the Brickyard. -- Kenny Bruce Kyle Larson : " Fueled by a landmark victory at Eldora Speedway and increased team performance, expect Kyle Larson to ride a wave of momentum into the Brickyard, backing up his two Indy top-10s by landing in Victory Lane for the first time in his Sprint Cup Series career." -- Pat DeCola Martin Truex Jr. : Furniture Row Racing puts all the pieces together, shedding any bad luck for another crown jewel win to pair with its Coca-Cola 600 triumph. -- Zack Albert Jimmie Johnson : " He's won here four times before and it's time for his frustrating summer to end." -- Holly Cain Tony Stewart : "Equipped with a third-place starting position for his final Brickyard 400 run, look for Indiana native Tony Stewart to continue his hot streak up front -- and eventually in Victory Lane." -- Jessica Ruffin Ryan Newman : "The Rocket Man has been close the past two weeks (seventh at Loudon, third at Kentucky) and qualified sixth at the Brickyard, so let's go with Indiana's forgotten son to pull off the upset on Sunday. After all, his last Sprint Cup Series win came at Indy (2013)." -- George Winkler Kyle Busch: " The Sprint Cup Series champ is starting on the pole and I think he's going to stay there to bring home his second consecutive Brickyard win. Also, with Saturday's XFINITY Series win under his belt, Busch is eyeing a sweep again, a feat that's only been done by him." -- Taylor Nunnally Carl Edwards : " The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has the speed this weekend and his quiet summer is about to come to an end with his first Brickyard win." -- RJ Kraft Jimmie Johnson : Four-time Indy winner is due for a Brickyard win and this weekend could be the year "Six-Time" ties Jeff Gordon for the most wins at the 2.5-mile track. -- Maggie MacKenzie Make your picks in Streak to the Finish !
No. 27 crew chief change made to 'spark results'
CONCORD, N.C. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Paul Menard hopes this week's crew chief change for his No. 27 Richard Childress Racing team can provide a "spark" as the team battles to get into this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field. With only six races remaining before the start of the Chase, RCR officials announced Monday that veteran Danny Stockman has assumed the crew chief duties, replacing Justin Alexander. Stockman's first race with the team will be this weekend's Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway. Alexander had been Menard's crew chief since joining the team with five races remaining in the 2014 season. "Justin is a great guy and extremely smart," Menard told NASCAR.com Tuesday, adding that he expects his former crew chief to "remain within RCR in some role." "The biggest thing is we just haven't run very good this year. We felt we had to do something to try and spark some results." Menard, who is closing in on his 350th career start in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, qualified for the Chase last season and finished a career-best 14th. But he's yet to earn a top-five finish this year, has only two-top 10s and sits 23rd in points. He was 13th in points after 20 races last season, and 15th at this time two years ago. The 16-team Chase field consist of drivers inside the top-30 in points that have one or more wins; if fewer than 16 drivers have won through this year's cutoff race at Richmond International Raceway in September, those 16th or higher in points without a win or wins will be awarded any remaining available spots in the field. Thus far, 11 drivers have one or more wins, meaning only five spots are currently available via points. Menard trails Kyle Larson by 75 points for the final spot in the Chase Grid. "At this point, we have to win a race to get in the Chase," Menard said. "We're going to shake things up and try to make that happen." Stockman guided Austin Dillon to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in 2011 and the XFINITY Series championship in '13 at RCR. He also served as crew chief for Menard for a victory at Road America in the XFINITY Series last year. This season, he has overseen the No. 2 XFINITY Series team for RCR, which has featured drivers Dillon, Menard and Ben Kennedy. Gil Martin, RCR XFINITY Series director, will fill Stockton's role. Menard is coming off a 10th-place finish this past weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he scored his lone Sprint Cup victory in 2011. "Danny has had a lot of success in the Truck and XFINITY Series," Menard said. "We're trying to get a spark for the team. We're consistently in the top 20, top 15 but we just haven't knocked out those top-10 and top-five finishes this season." In addition to Menard, RCR also fields Sprint Cup entries for drivers Dillon and Ryan Newman. Full-time XFINITY Series teams for the organization feature drivers Ty Dillon, Brandon Jones and Brendan Gaughan, as well as the fourth now spearheaded by Martin.
Merch Madness: Top 20 drivers released for Superstore anniversary
RELATED: Shop for NASCAR gear DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- This race weekend at Pocono Raceway marks the first anniversary of the Fanatics Trackside Superstore -- the reimagined and improved at-track shopping experience. The Trackside Superstore offers fans a one-stop-shop every race weekend with the largest selection of in-store NASCAR merchandise in the world -- bar none. Halfway through 2016, photo finishes, side-by-side racing and record passing as the Chase spots are clinched has not only driven interest in the telecast and engagement on digital and social, but also in driver merchandise sales. NASCAR fans take pride in flying the colors of their favorite drivers and the first-half merchandise sales results are officially tallied. The top three drivers are no surprise with Dale Earnhardt Jr . leading the rankings, followed by six-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and defending champion Kyle Busch . With rising stars like Austin Dillon , Kyle Larson , Joey Logano and Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney , there are currently five drivers in the top-20 list that are 26 years of age or younger. With six top-five finishes and two poles this season, Elliott continues to be one of the top three drivers in sales increases each race weekend and ranks fourth overall in full-time driver sales. Elliott's sales have nearly quadrupled in his rookie year, making him the youngest driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history to rank among the top-five in trackside merchandise sales. Also up from last season is Blaney, who is now a top-20 selling full-time driver and has more demand than ever racing in the iconic No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford Fusion. "I see more fans wearing No. 21 gear than ever before and it's cool to see them cheering on our team," said Blaney, driver of the No. 21 Ford Fusion. "There is nothing like seeing someone wearing your shirt or your hat and knowing they bought that because they are a fan. And the Trackside Superstore makes it an easy, one-stop shop for everyone to find your gear. It's been a great addition to our sport." With its flexible footprint, Fanatics has capitalized on defining moments from Kyle Busch , Martin Truex Jr . and Tony Stewart -- all with positive sales trends in 2016. Kyle Busch also experienced substantial gains of nearly 80 percent in sales since his comeback last summer and subsequent championship run. The most popular products available at the Trackside Superstore include apparel, headwear and novelty items. Lionel's 1:64 scale die-casts are up 77 percent year-over-year, one of the largest growth trends across all categories at the Trackside Superstore. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will hit the track this weekend at Pocono Raceway for the Pennsylvania 400 on Sunday, July 31 at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and MRN.
GarageCam lets loose in Loudon
GarageCam host Matthew Dillner walks the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as drivers gear up for the New Hampshire 301 at 'The Magic Mile'.