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Old-school ways guide John Hunter Nemechek's rise
When the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rolls into Martinsville Speedway for this Saturday's Alpha Energy Solutions 250 (2:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), John Hunter Nemechek will arrive as the series’ most recent winner. It’s coming up on a five-week break for Nemechek and his fellow racers, more than a month since he pulled into the winner's circle at Atlanta Motor Speedway for his second career victory. The win sets up the 18-year-old to be in position to participate in this year's inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase. Similar to the Sprint Cup Series' Chase format, eight drivers will compete for the title, attempting to advance through two elimination rounds to reach the championship-determining event at Homestead-Miami Speedway where four will vie for the title. RELATED: Truck Series Chase 101 That Nemechek is already in position to begin considering Chase scenarios is nothing short of remarkable – the son of former Sprint Cup driver Joe Nemechek had only 30 career starts in the series heading into the 2016 season. That his NEMCO Motorsports team has been able to compete against larger, more established organizations in spite of its limited resources is no less amazing. There's no questioning Nemechek’s talent – he has finished in the top five in roughly one third of his starts and has 17 career top-10 results. His first win came last season at Chicagoland Speedway . The inability to test slows progress, but it's something each team must deal with today. Nemechek said it helps that he is surrounded by so much experience on his team. "I have two of the most veteran (people) here in Dad and (crew chief) Gere Kennon," he said. "They like to do stuff the old way, old school; all their experience and knowledge I've learned from. "Dad has taught me everything he's learned in a 20-year period in a 3-4 year period. That's sped up my learning curve. Then bringing Gere on board, he's taught me a lot about these trucks; he's been in the sport forever." The elder Nemechek won four times during a 20-plus year career at the premier series level. He also won 16 times in what is now the XFINITY Series, and was that division's champion in 1992. Kennon's racing resume includes title-winning runs with two-time series champion Sam Ard in what is now known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series, as well successful stints with Brett Bodine and Ron Hornaday in the that series. Kennon was also a chassis specialist for Roush Racing before moving into a crew chief role in the mid-‘90s for team owner Butch Mock and driver Morgan Shepherd in the premier series ranks. NEMCO Motorsports is a single-team, family-owned organization with roughly a dozen employees and limited funding. The group hired its first engineer this season. They might get out-spent, but they won't be out-worked. They might be out-engineered, but not out-smarted. "To be competitive in this series, it takes a few million dollars," Joe Nemechek said. " … It's hard to round that up on a weekly basis." Funding from Fone Fuel and Berry's Bullets has been a big help, he said, but added that his group is "making hundreds and hundreds of calls every week. "I know what we spend in this deal, and we're probably spending half of what the big teams are. But it's too hard; you just can't keep doing that and have success. At some point all your people get burned out; it's tough." Parker Kligerman has driven to the top of the points standings after teaming with the small Ricky Benton Racing organization. Nemechek sits third, behind Kligerman and Brad Keselowski Racing's Daniel Hemric . RELATED: Hemric finds perfect home " Dual roles lead to success for Kligerman He has five starts at Martinsville, more than at any other track hosting the series, and finished second there in last season's fall event. "It means a lot to be able to come back to the race track where I made my (series) debut," Nemechek said during the track's recent media day event. "I've improved a lot since then. "Also to finish second here (last fall), we've improved on our finishes every time we've been here over the past two and a half years so if we can keep doing that and just improve it by one (position) this year, we'll be good."
Keselowski and Hendrick: What might have been
On April 18, 2009, Mark Martin won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway . It was the 36th NASCAR premier series win for the 50-year-old driver and his first with team owner Rick Hendrick. A week and a day later, Brad Keselowski won the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway . It was the first career win for the 25-year-old, and the first premier series victory for independent car owner James Finch. Two distinctly different races won by two distinctly different drivers. Martin's NASCAR career was beginning to wind down; Keselowski's, on the other hand, appeared to have only just begun. But there was one string that tied the two together -- Hendrick Motorsports . HMS was home to Martin, Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr . And it was expected by many to be the future home of the up-and-coming kid from Rochester Hills, Michigan. But a collection of factors that came together throughout the course of that season altered the racing landscape as well as the career path of Keselowski. It would be nearly three years before the next driver change at HMS. By then Keselowski had not only found a new home, but he was also on his way to winning the Sprint Cup championship. 'I WAS NOT GOING TO LOSE' The sun was out and the grandstands were packed when the 2009 Aaron's 499, the season's ninth Sprint Cup race, went green for the final time. As race leader Ryan Newman tried to keep Earnhardt Jr., the crowd favorite, in check, Keselowski darted to the inside behind Carl Edwards on the track's massive backstretch. It was a move that didn’t seem to mean much at the time. But at the start-finish line with two laps remaining, Edwards and Keselowski shot to the outside entering Turn 1. "Here they come; look at the 99 and ..." NASCAR on FOX analyst Darrell Waltrip began. " Brad Keselowski ," lead announcer Mike Joy and co-analyst Larry McReynolds chimed in. When the white flag appeared, Edwards and Keselowski had caught and were beginning to pull away from Newman and Earnhardt Jr. Racing back through the tri-oval, Keselowski turned his No. 09 Chevrolet to the outside, and then quickly dropped to the bottom as Edwards moved up to block. Realizing the bottom lane was now open, Edwards reacted quickly -- but not quickly enough. Contact sent the No. 99 Ford spinning. Edwards' car came off the track briefly and was beginning to settle back onto the track it was struck by Newman's Chevrolet. The impact sent Edwards roof-first into the frontstretch catch fence. Meanwhile, Keselowski kept his foot in the gas, racing across the finish line for the win just ahead of Earnhardt Jr. "I was not going to lose," Keselowski said in his post-race winner's interview. "I was not going to lift and (I was going to) hold my ground and consequences be damned." A full-time competitor at the time for JR Motorsports (which, coincidentally, counts Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick among its ownership group) in what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Keselowski said he didn't know what the future held after his first premier series win. "I know I don't have anything locked in," he said. "That's really all I can say ... I don't have a job secured for next year, and everything to this point has been wait-and-see. I know this certainly can't hurt." But behind the scenes, moves were already underway. Finch's Phoenix Racing, which purchased it engines from HMS, had put Keselowski in the car at the suggestion of Hendrick. And the JRM/Hendrick pipeline, which grooms talent in the lower series to help restock the Sprint Cup program, was taking root. Keselowski had made two starts for Hendrick the previous year, and would make seven all together in '09, in addition to five races with Finch. Perhaps his future wasn't as cloudy as it appeared. "Rick had come out and told me, actually had made it a point to say to the media that he thought I was a future driver at Hendrick," Keselowski told NASCAR.com recently. There was only one problem. SWAN SONG? On July 4, 2008, HMS officials announced that Martin had signed a two-year agreement to drive the organization's No. 5 Chevrolet. According to the news release, Martin, who would run a full schedule in 2009, would "run a partial Sprint Cup schedule ... in 2010, sharing the No. 5 Chevy with a to-be-determined second driver.” By most accounts, that driver was expected to be Keselowski. But in May of '09, less than three weeks after Martin's Phoenix victory, HMS officials announced a revision to the '08 agreement. The veteran driver would return in 2010 to once again run the entire season. With Keselowski waiting in the wings and Martin winning and agreeing to return the following year, "Rick was kind of half pregnant," Keselowski said. "He (was) stuck. "My feeling was, after I had won Talladega, I'm going to get this 5 car ride partially next year, pair it with something else, let's go. I didn't know what it was going to be. We'll figure it out; let's go." A phone call and subsequent meeting with Hendrick, however, changed all that. "I was kind of expecting more of a 'Hey, we're going to expedite the process of clearing out the rest of this,' " Keselowski said of the meeting, "And instead I got a 'Hey, I don't have a ride for you. You need to figure something else out. I'll try to help.' "That was late April, early May of that year. My intent ... was to give him that time to kind of make right on it somehow, find a ride because he had made me the promise that I would have that car. It didn't sit all that well, but I understood the circumstances and so forth." Months passed and Keselowski busied himself with his full-time XFINITY Series effort at JRM while making a handful of Sprint Cup starts for Hendrick and Finch. Hendrick, in the meantime, was exploring the various avenues that might keep Keselowski in the HMS camp. Possible scenarios included Stewart-Haas Racing , at the time a two-team effort, and Red Bull Racing. Consideration was even given to fielding a Sprint Cup entry out of the JR Motorsports shop, according to the owner. But the pieces didn't fit and as the summer wore on, Keselowski's future remained uncertain. "I wanted him to wait a year," Hendrick told NASCAR.com. "... I don't remember all the details, but I do remember that Mark had done so well, and I had tried to talk (Mark) into staying. "I've told all our guys, the first time I sat down with Brad he impressed me because he was so intense about the whole car and wanted to be involved in everything. He was just so committed. I told our guys he's got the right attitude about racing and driving. I just needed him to wait." Waiting, though, wasn't part of Keselowski's plan. "My perception is a driver is a lot like a perishable fruit," Keselowski said. "You've got so much time, then he spoils and goes bad. There are a lot of variables, much like anything." PENSKE COMES CALLING The Keselowski family has always been involved in racing. Brad's father Bob was an ARCA Series standout and a former winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Ron Keselowski, an uncle, scored two top-five finishes in 68 premier series starts while older brother Brian Keselowski has one or more starts in all three of NASCAR's national series. "We knew the Keselowski name from being here in Detroit," Walt Czarnecki, an executive vice president at Penske Corp., said. "His dad, his uncle, all that. They would run out at MIS ( Michigan International Speedway ) when (Penske) owned the track." But it was a business associate, lawyer/agent John Caponigro, who brought up the young driver's name during a conversation in 2009. "We thought he was committed to Hendrick," Czarnecki said. "He'd been on loan to James Finch to run several races. But some things were changing." Conversations with Keselowski ensued, in Michigan as well as Mooresville, North Carolina, where Team Penske is headquartered. "All this time," Czarnecki said, "Still having this somewhat uncertain situation with Mr. Hendrick." Team Penske had grown from a two-team to a three-team organization in '08, fielding cars for drivers Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr . In '09 Newman departed to join owner/driver Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing and 32-year-old David Stremme was brought on board to fill the open seat. But the Keselowski opportunity was intriguing, according to Czarnecki. "We've tried to sign on what we consider to be the best available young drivers with a great deal of potential that we could mold and have them grow in our organization," he said. "And I think that Brad certainly fit that description. "But above and beyond that, he had a bigger vision as to what role he wanted to play in terms of the development of the team. ... Just how he saw different things coming together ... "Some of it may have been a little unrealistic; some of it was certainly the enthusiasm of a young man who had a goal in mind. ... But he had this great enthusiasm and he had this great desire and this great commitment. And that appealed to us." With the Hendrick effort seemingly stalled, Keselowski went back to Penske with a request -- to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series. In addition to its Sprint Cup effort, Team Penske was fielding one full-time XFINITY Series team with driver Justin Allgaier . Expanding that program to two teams running all the races was problematic, given the economy at the time. Told such a scenario was unlikely, Keselowski was left to consider his few available options. But Penske officials continued to work until enough of the appropriate pieces were in place. "Sure enough, Roger called me one night and said 'Alright, I've got it put together,' " Keselowski said. "It kind of caught me off guard. I was sold. That's it; he made it happen." "I couldn't sit around and wait. ... Roger had gone above and beyond to put something together that I felt like was the opportunity I needed. ... The economy was on its way down fast; Roger (through his various businesses) had a lot of immunities to the economy. Rick made it very clear to me that he was not going to invest himself without having a sponsor, and the economy was not in a spot where he could facilitate that." Hendrick had been aware of the Penske interest from the beginning, having had conversations with his fellow team owner about Keselowski's status. "Roger called me and asked me could he talk to him," Hendrick said. "I didn't want to stand in his way. Brad's a hell of a talent. It was a timing issue. "It's worked out for him. At his age it would have been nice if we could have kept him. ... If I got a call from Roger and I was in his spot I would have done exactly what he did." POSTSCRIPT On Sept. 1, 2009, Team Penske officials announced that the organization had signed Keselowski to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series beginning the following season. Since then, Keselowski has won 17 Sprint Cup races, 28 XFINITY Series races and championships in both series. "I don't want to sound mercenary but he brought us our first Sprint Cup championship (in 2012)," Czarnecki said. "Because that vision that he outlined, we tried to work with him and bring people along, bring people into the organization, have him work with people like (crew chief) Paul Wolfe, it was really the realization of that vision. That's what it (has) meant. "And his intensity hasn't changed." Former teammates Busch and Hornish have departed, and fellow driver AJ Allmendinger has come and gone. Keselowski, now 32, is the veteran of a Penske group that now includes 25-year-old teammate Joey Logano . "I wasn’t looking to switch," Keselowski said. "If things would have gone the way they were supposed to go before Mark won that race at Phoenix, I would still be there."
Stats advance: Analyzing the Bank of America 500
A statistical look ahead to the second race of the Contender Round RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Below is a look at the 12 Contenders and beyond, at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina going into the Bank of America 500 on Saturday night October 11. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on ABC, with the race start scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. CHARLOTTE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS 1 - Joey Logano (No. 22 Pennzoil Platinum Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 107.7 2014 Rundown • Five wins, 14 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 11.8 • Led 20 races for 916 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Three top fives, six top 10s • Average finish of 10.5 in 11 races • Average Running Position of 14.1, sixth- best • Driver Rating of 88.0, ninth-best 2 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 Doublemint Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 91.1 2014 Rundown • One win, seven top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 16.7 • Led 14 races for 412 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Nine top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 15.6 in 21 races • Average Running Position of 10.0, second- best • Driver Rating of 106.3, second-best • 460 Fastest Laps Run, third-most • 5,291 Laps in the Top 15 (77.4%), second- most • Series-high 973 Quality Passes 3 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 82.8 2014 Rundown • Two wins, seven top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 14.5 • Led 10 races for 134 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Six top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 11.4 in 19 races • Average Running Position of 14.6, seventh-best • Driver Rating of 89.8, seventh-best • 1,592 Green Flag Passes, second-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.106 mph, 11th-fastest • 4,280 Laps in the Top 15 (62.6%), sixth-most • 806 Quality Passes, fifth-most 4 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.6 2014 Rundown • Two top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 13.8 • Led 5 races for 30 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Four top fives, 10 top 10s; nine poles • Average finish of 19.0 in 27 races • Average Running Position of 17.5, 18th-best • Driver Rating of 78.1, 19th-best • 1,379 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most 5 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.7 2014 Rundown • One win, six top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 15.2 • Led 12 races for 195 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Four top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 13.7 in 18 races • Average Running Position of 12.7, fourth-best • Driver Rating of 92.6, fifth-best • 235 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.222 mph, seventh-fastest • 4,586 Laps in the Top 15 (71.2%), fourth-most • 749 Quality Passes, seventh-most 6 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.0 2014 Rundown • Two wins, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s; eight poles • Average finish of 13.9 • Led 22 races for 1,653 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, four top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 16.3 in 27 races • Average Running Position of 17.2, 16th-best • Driver Rating of 81.5, 15th-best • 1,534 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most • 3,923 Laps in the Top 15 (57.4%), eighth-most • 699 Quality Passes, eighth-most 7 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 93.1 2014 Rundown • 11 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 13.8 • Led 17 races for 467 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, nine top fives, 16 top 10s • Average finish of 13.5 in 30 races • Average Running Position of 13.5, fifth-best • Driver Rating of 97.1, fourth-best • 376 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most • 1,448 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.413 mph, fourth-fastest • 4,649 Laps in the Top 15 (68.0%), third-most • 842 Quality Passes, third-most 8 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.7 2014 Rundown • Four wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 10.1 • Led 21 races for 666 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Five wins, 16 top fives, 23 top 10s; nine poles • Average finish of 15.8 in 43 races • Average Running Position of 14.7, eighth-best • Driver Rating of 89.7, eighth-best • 243 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most • 4,228 Laps in the Top 15 (61.8%), seventh-most • 777 Quality Passes, sixth-most 9 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Pepsi Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.7 2014 Rundown • One win, three top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 16.7 • Led 11 races for 206 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Four wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 11.5 in 21 races • Average Running Position of 11.6, third-best • Driver Rating of 101.7, third-best • 665 Fastest Laps Run, second-most • 1,549 Green Flag Passes, third-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.430 mph, third-fastest • 4,564 Laps in the Top 15 (66.7%), fifth-most • 833 Quality Passes, fourth-most 10 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 104.1 2014 Rundown • Five wins, 13 top fives, 16 top 10s; five poles • Average finish of 13.2 • Led 24 races for 1,498 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One win, two top fives, three top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 15.7 in 10 races • Average Running Position of 15.2, 10th-best • Driver Rating of 85.4, 10th-best • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.125 mph, 10th-fastest 11 - Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 96.9 2014 Rundown • Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s • Average finish of 12.0 • Led 13 races for 265 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Five top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 19.4 in 29 races • Average Running Position of 19.0, 22nd-best • Driver Rating of 80.9, 16th-best • 183 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most • 1,435 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most • 623 Quality Passes, 11th-most 12 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 98.8 2014 Rundown • Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 14.3 • Led 15 races for 1,035 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Seven wins, 13 top fives, 17 top 10s; four poles • Average finish of 11.2 in 26 races • Series-best Average Running Position of 7.5 • Series-best Driver Rating of 112.7 • Series-high 683 Fastest Laps Run • Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 177.132 mph • Series-high 5,988 Laps in the Top 15 (87.5%) • 968 Quality Passes, second-most 13 - AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Scott Products Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.5 2014 Rundown • One win, two top fives, four top 10s • Average finish of 20.4 • Led 5 races for 68 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One top five, two top 10s • Average finish of 22.7 in 13 races • Average Running Position of 23.2, 31st-best • Driver Rating of 65.8, 31st-best 14 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Bondo Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 79.4 2014 Rundown • Three top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 15.8 • Led 6 races for 109 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Five top fives, eight top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 17.2 in 23 races • Average Running Position of 15.0, ninth-best • Driver Rating of 89.9, sixth-best • 303 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most • 1,393 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.250 mph, sixth-fastest • 3,891 Laps in the Top 15 (56.9%), ninth-most • 690 Quality Passes, ninth-most 15 - Kurt Busch (No. 41 State Water Heaters Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 84.8 2014 Rundown • One win, six top fives, eight top 10s • Average finish of 20.1 • Led 11 races for 181 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One win, six top fives, seven top 10s • Average finish of 19.7 in 28 races • Average Running Position of 17.4, 17th-best • Driver Rating of 83.0, 13th-best • 204 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most • 3,502 Laps in the Top 15 (51.2%), 10th-most 16 - Aric Almirola (No. 43 Smithfield / Waffle House Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 73.3 2014 Rundown • One win, two top fives, seven top 10s • Average finish of 21.0 • Led 5 races for 23 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One pole • Average finish of 19.0 in five races • Average Running Position of 16.6, 14th-best • Driver Rating of 76.5, 21st-best The 12 Contenders at Charlotte Motor Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Joey Logano 11 0 0 3 6 0 10.5 88.0 2 Kyle Busch 21 1 0 9 13 5 15.6 106.3 3 Carl Edwards 19 0 0 6 12 1 11.4 89.8 4 Ryan Newman 27 9 0 4 10 5 19.0 78.1 5 Denny Hamlin 18 1 0 4 10 1 13.7 92.6 6 Kevin Harvick 27 0 2 4 10 1 16.3 81.5 7 Matt Kenseth 30 0 2 9 16 5 13.5 97.1 8 Jeff Gordon 43 9 5 16 23 10 15.8 89.7 9 Kasey Kahne 21 0 4 9 12 1 11.5 101.7 10 Brad Keselowski 10 1 1 2 3 1 15.7 85.4 11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 29 1 0 5 11 4 19.4 80.9 12 Jimmie Johnson 26 4 7 13 17 4 11.2 112.7 History • Construction began on Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) in 1959. • The track’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on June 19, 1960 – won by Joe Lee Johnson. • The track was repaved midseason in 1994. • The track name changed from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1999. It changed back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 2010 season. • The track was re-paved again before the 2006 season. Notebook • There have been 111 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races at Charlotte Motor Speedway , two races per year since the track opened in 1960. In 1961, there were two 100-mile qualifying points races held the week before the May race. The first six fall races at Charlotte were 400-mile events (1960-65). • 525 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points paying race at Charlotte Motor Speedway ; 374 in more than one. • NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Charlotte with 64. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 43 starts; followed by Joe Nemechek with 36. • Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway (World 600) in 1960 with a speed of 133.904 mph. • 42 drivers have Coors Light poles at Charlotte, led by David Pearson with 14. Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon lead all active drivers in poles at CMS with nine. • 12 drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Charlotte. David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Charlotte with 11; from the fall of 1973 through 1978. • Youngest Charlotte pole winner: Jeff Gordon (10/10/1993 – 22 years, 2 months, 6 days). • Oldest Charlotte pole winner: Bobby Allison (10/11/1987 – 49 years, 10 months, 8 days). Charlotte Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 31 of 36 (10-11-14) Track Size: 1.5-miles Banking/Turns 1 & 2: 24 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4: 24 degrees Banking/Frontstretch: 5 degrees Banking/Backstretch: 5 degrees Frontstretch Length: 1,980 feet Backstretch Length: 1,500 feet Race Length: 334 laps / 500 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Charlotte Jimmie Johnson ..........................112.7 Kyle Busch ..................................106.3 Kasey Kahne ...............................101.7 Matt Kenseth .................................97.1 Denny Hamlin................................92.6 Greg Biffle .....................................89.9 Carl Edwards.................................89.8 Jeff Gordon ...................................89.7 Joey Logano..................................88.0 Brad Keselowski............................85.4 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (19 total) among active drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Qualifying/Race Data 2013 pole winner: Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet 194.308 mph, 27.791 secs. 10-10-13 2013 race winner: Brad Keselowski , Ford 158.308 mph, (03:09:53), 10-12-13 Track qualifying record: Denny Hamlin , Toyota 195.624 mph, 27.604 secs. 05-24-13 Track race (500 miles) record: Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 160.306 mph, (03:07:31), 10-11-99 STATISTICAL ADVANCE • 46 different drivers have won at Charlotte Motor Speedway , led by Jimmie Johnson with seven wins. • Nine drivers have posted consecutive wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway , including three consecutive by Fred Lorenzen (fall 1964 and both 1965) and four straight by Jimmie Johnson (both in 2004 and 2005). • A season sweep at Charlotte has occurred eight times, including each season from 2004-2007. • Youngest Charlotte winner: Jeff Gordon (05/29/1994 – 22 years, 9 months, 25 days). • Oldest Charlotte winner: Cale Yarborough (10/06/1985 – 46 years, 6 months, 9 days). • Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Charlotte in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 18: Jimmie Johnson (seven), Jeff Gordon (five), Darrell Waltrip (two), Ken Schrader (one), Terry Labonte (one), Casey Mears (one) and Kasey Kahne (one). • Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Charlotte; led by Chevrolet with 42 victories; followed by Ford with 29. Toyota has two wins at CMS. • 15 of the 111 (13.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the Coors Light pole; the three most recent were Jimmie Johnson in 2014 (Coca-Cola 600), 2009 (Chase race event) and 2004 (Coca-Cola 600). • The second-place starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (17) than any other starting position at Charlotte Motor Speedway (15.3% winning percentage). • 32 of the 111 (28.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the front row: 15 from the pole and 17 from second-place. • 84 of the 111 (75.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Charlotte have been won from a top-10 starting position. • Nine of the 111 (8.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. • The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Charlotte is 37th, by Jimmie Johnson in the Coca-Cola 600 of 2003. • Richard Petty leads the series in runner-up finishes at Charlotte with nine. Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers with three. • NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison are tied for the series most top-five finishes at Charlotte with 23. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 16. • Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Charlotte with 31. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 23. • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Charlotte with a 7.115. • Joey Logano leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Charlotte with a 10.545. • Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Charlotte without visiting Victory Lane at 36; followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr . with 29. • Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the May 29, 2005 race won by Jimmie Johnson over Bobby Labonte with a MOV of 0.027 second. • There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a Green-White-Checkered finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway , but only once for the Coca-Cola 600 (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): Chase race of 2005 (334/336), Chase race of 2007 (334/337) and the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 (400/402). • Five of the 111 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 won by David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip Racing. Four of the five races shortened were the 600-mile events (1968, 1997, 2003 and 2009). • Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway twice; the fall race of 2002 and the fall race of 2008. • Five active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have made their first career start at Charlotte Motor Speedway : Dale Earnhardt Jr . (5/30/99), Jimmie Johnson (10/7/01), Brian Vickers (10/11/03), Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (5/29/11) and Kyle Larson (10/12/2013). • Four active drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway : Jeff Gordon (10/10/93), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (5/28/00), Ryan Newman (5/27/01) and Aric Almirola (5/27/12). • Four active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Charlotte Motor Speedway : Jeff Gordon (5/29/94), Matt Kenseth (5/28/00), Jamie McMurray (10/13/02) and Casey Mears (5/27/07). • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Charlotte with 1,733 laps led in 26 starts. • Two female drivers have competed at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick . Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date of race Danica Patrick 4 39 5/25/2014 Danica Patrick 35 20 10/12/2013 Danica Patrick 24 29 5/26/2013 Danica Patrick 40 30 5/27/2012 Janet Guthrie 31 35 10/8/1978 Janet Guthrie 27 9 10/9/1977 Janet Guthrie 26 22 10/10/1976 Janet Guthrie 27 15 5/30/1976 NASCAR in North Carolina • There have been 519 NASCAR Sprint Cup races among 28 tracks in North Carolina. Track Name/City/NSCS Charlotte Motor Speedway/Concord/111 North Wilkesboro Speedway/North/93 Rockingham Speedway/Rockingham/78 Hickory Speedway/Hickory/35 Asheville-Weaverville Speedway/Weaverville/34 Occoneechee Speedway/Hillsboro/32 Bowman-Gray Stadium/Winston-Salem/29 Southern States Fairgrounds/Charlotte/17 Charlotte Speedway/Charlotte/12 Concord Speedway/Concord/12 Wilson Speedway/Wilson/12 New Asheville Speedway/Asheville/8 Dog Track Speedway/Moyock/7 Raleigh Speedway/Raleigh/7 Cleveland County Fairgrounds/Shelby/6 Champion Speedway/Fayetteville/4 Greensboro Agriculture Fairgrounds/Greensboro/3 North Carolina State Fairgrounds/Raleigh/3 Tar Heel Speedway/Randleman/3 Forsyth County Fairgrounds/Winston-Salem/2 Harris Speedway/Harris/2 Jacksonville Speedway/Jacksonville/2 Tri-City Speedway/High Point/2 Gastonia Fairgrounds/Gastonia/1 Harnett Speedway/Spring Lake/1 McCormick Field/Asheville/1 Salisbury Super Speedway/Salisbury/1 Star Lite Speedway/Monroe/1 NASCAR in North Carolina • 433 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as North Carolina. • 46 drivers from North Carolina have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series; 29 have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Richard Petty 200 0 0 Dale Earnhardt 76 21 0 Lee Petty 54 0 0 Ned Jarrett 50 0 0 Junior Johnson 50 0 0 Herb Thomas 48 0 0 Buck Baker 46 0 0 Bobby Isaac 37 0 0 Dale Jarrett 32 11 0 Rex White 28 0 0 Jim Paschal 25 0 0 Dale Earnhardt Jr 22 23 0 Benny Parsons 21 0 0 Speedy Thompson 20 0 0 Buddy Baker 19 0 0 Harry Gant 18 21 0 Bob Welborn 9 0 0 Kyle Petty 8 0 0 Morgan Shepherd 4 15 0 Bill Blair 3 0 0 Gwyn Staley 3 0 0 Brian Vickers 3 3 0 Billy Myers 2 0 0 Jimmy Pardue 2 0 0 Richard Brickhouse 1 0 0 Phil Parsons 1 2 0 Leon Sales 1 0 0 Buddy Shuman 1 0 0 Donald Thomas 1 0 0 Jack Ingram 0 31 0 Tommy Houston 0 24 0 Sam Ard 0 22 0 Robert Pressley 0 10 2 Scott Riggs 0 4 5 Ryan Blaney 0 2 3 Austin Dillon 0 2 6 Hank Parker Jr 0 2 0 Johnny Rumley 0 2 0 Dennis Setzer 0 2 18 Ed Berrier 0 1 0 Ty Dillon 0 1 3 Justin Labonte 0 1 0 Stephen Leicht 0 1 0 Timothy Peters 0 0 7 Andy Houston 0 0 3 Ricky Hendrick 0 0 1 Shane Hmiel 0 0 1 MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Press Pass: Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch comments on tying another Sam Ard record and discusses his facial hair.
XFINITY GarageCam ‘drafts’ at Talladega
Matthew Dillner strolls the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage to catch up with drivers and football personality, Eli Gold, to see who the No. 1 draft pick could be.
NSCS GarageCam walks the 'garage' Blvd in 'Dega
Strolling the infield Boulevard at Talladega is the thing to do, but Matthew Dillner and GarageCam stroll the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage to find your favorite cars and stars.
Joe Gibbs Racing
Manufacturer: Toyota Engine manufacturer : TRD Debut season: 1992 Owner standings Joe Gibbs Racing was launched in 1991 by former NFL head coach Joe Gibbs. As Gibbs looked to move from coaching to a new chapter in his career, his friend Don Meredith was looking for opportunities to race in NASCAR, and the team was born with its first season of premier series competition coming in 1992. In 1993, driver Dale Jarrett won the Daytona 500 for JGR's first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. Bobby Labonte took to the drivers seat, replacing Jarrett, in 1995. Since then, the team has claimed three championships in the series: in 2000 with Bobby Labonte and '02 and '05 with Tony Stewart , who became the team's second driver in 1999. The team expanded to a third full-time car in 2006 with J.J. Yeley behind the wheel. 2012 brought Joe Gibbs Racing its 100th Cup win, when Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . In 2015, JGR expanded to a fourth full-time car with Carl Edwards behind the wheel of the No. 19 Toyota. JGR is based in Huntersville, NC, with over 450 employees in a facility of 250,000 square feet. Visit the team's web site here. Follow Joe Gibbs Racing on Facebook and Twitter . Driver: Denny Hamlin Car Number: #11 Hometown: Chesterfield, VA Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie Year: 2006 Primary team members: Crew Chief: Mike Wheeler " Hometown: Southold, NY Car Chief: Leo Thorsen " Hometown: Stoughton, WI Spotter: Chris Lambert " Hometown: Kannapolis, NC Over-the-wall crew: Gasman: Caleb Hurd " Hometown: Pulaski, VA Front Tire Changer: Dustin Necaise " Hometown: Gulfport, MS Front Tire Carrier: Brandon Pegram " Hometown: Statesville, NC Jackman: Nate Bolling " Hometown: Swanton, OH Rear Tire Changer: Mike Hicks " Hometown: Salisbury, NC Rear Tire Carrier: Heath Cherry " Hometown: Belmont, NC Pit Crew Coordinator: Paul Alepa " Hometown: Vienna, VA JGR Athletic Director: Mike Lepp " Hometown: Charlotte, NC Road crew members: Truck Drivers: Frank Hodel " Hometown: High Bridge, NJ, David Ott " Hometown: St. Mary's, PA Tire Specialist: Kerry Ferris " Hometown: Perry, NY Shock Specialist: Drew Bible " Hometown: Coldwater, MI Engineer: Matt Beckman " Hometown: Glenview, IL Engineer: Sam McAuley " Hometown: Huntersville, NC Mechanic: Troy Welty " Hometown: Manchester, PA Mechanic: John Furino " Hometown: East Meadow, NY Interior Mechanic: Sean Kerlin " Hometown: Marysville, PA Driver: Kyle Busch Car Number: #18 Hometown: Las Vegas, NV Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie Year: 2005 Primary team members: Crew Chief: Adam Stevens " Hometown: Portsmouth, OH Car Chief: Nate Bellows " Hometown: Fairfax, VT Engine Specialist: Mike Johnson " Hometown: Bozeman, MT Spotter: Tony Hirschman " Hometown: Northhampton, PA Over-the-wall crew: Gasman: Tom Lampe " Hometown: Beatrice, NE Pit Support: Marcus Bonicelli " Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO Pit Support: Jeff Koons " Hometown: Greenfield, IN Front Tire Changer: Josh Leslie " Hometown: Mount Clemens, MI Front Tire Carrier: Brad Donaghy " Hometown: Orange County, VA Jackman: T.J. Ford " Hometown: Charlotte, NC Rear Tire Changer: Jake Seminara " Hometown: Steubenville, OH Rear Tire Carrier: Kenny Barber " Hometown: Hoosick Falls, NY Road crew members: Truck Drivers: Brendan “Slim” Greene " Hometown: Midland, NC, Jamie “Montana” Price " Hometown: Choteau, MT Tire Specialist: Gregory Katzke " Hometown: Wausau, WI Shock Specialist: Chris Chase " Hometown: Nichols, NY Engineer: Ben Beshore " Hometown: York, PA Engineer: Gene Watchtel " Hometown: Clearwater, FL Front End Mechanic: Brandon Griffeth " Hometown: Pittsfield, IL Rear End Mechanic: Chris Jones " Hometown: Smith Mountain Lake, VA Mechanic: Todd Foster " Hometown: Birmingham, AL Interior Mechanic: Wesley Lape " Hometown: Sinking Spring, PA Driver: Carl Edwards Car Number: #19 Hometown: Columbia, MO Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Primary team members: Crew Chief: Dave Rogers " Hometown: Marshfield, VT Car Chief: Eric Phillips " Hometown: Canton, IL Engine Specialist: James Dudley " Hometown: Porterville, CA Spotter: Jason Hedlesky " Hometown: Clinton, MI Over-the-wall crew: Gasman: Kenneth Purcell " Hometown: Savannah, GA Windshield: Zack Miller " Hometown: Vista, CA Front Tire Changer: Clay Robinson " Hometown: Simi Valley, CA Front Tire Carrier: Kevin Harris " Hometown: Sanford, FL Jackman: Trey Burklin " Hometown: Charlotte, NC Rear Tire Changer: Matt Ver Meer " Hometown: Montezuma, IA Rear Tire Carrier: Kip Wolfmeir " Hometown: Kingdom City, MO Road crew members: Truck Driver: Kyle Bazzell " Hometown: Fairbury, IL Truck Driver: Bob Hannigan " Hometown: High Bridge, NJ Tire Specialist: Jamie Turski " Hometown: Trumbull, CT Shock Specialist: Ron Denton " Hometown: Bristol, VA Engineer: Lee Hallman " Hometown: Claremont, NC Engineer: Kenny Oates " Hometown: Miami, FL Mechanic: Matt Tyrrell " Hometown: Ft. Lauderdale, FL Fuel Runner: Ben Surface " Hometown: Pulaski, VA Driver: Matt Kenseth Car Number: #20 Hometown: Cambridge, WI Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie Year: 2000 Primary team members: Crew Chief: Jason Ratcliff " Hometown: Sumter, SC Car Chief: Jeff Meendering " Hometown: Concord, NC Engine Specialist: Gregg Wilson " Hometown: Charlotte, NC Spotter: Chris Osborne " Hometown: High Point, NC Over-the-wall crew: Gasman: John Eicher " Hometown: London, KY Front Tire Changer: John Royer " Hometown: Otis, KS Front Tire Carrier: Joe Crossen " Hometown: Salisbury, NC Jackman: Jason Tate " Hometown: Statesville, NC Rear Tire Changer: Adam Hartman " Hometown: Oxford, NC Rear Tire Carrier: Blake Haugland " Hometown: My. Ayr, IA Road crew members: Truck Driver: Dennis Valverde " Hometown: Albuquerque, NM Truck Driver: Tom McCrimmon " Hometown: Mount Pleasant, NC Tire Specialist: Jerold Shires " Hometown: Waiteville, WV Shock Specialist: Scott Myers " Hometown: Modesto, CA Engineer: Michael Lorusso " Hometown: Asburn, VA Engineer: Levi Porter " Hometown: Wyben, MA Mechanic: Alan Buzze " Hometown: Onondoga, NY Mechanic: Jason Overstreet " Hometown: Clearwater, FL
Fantasy Fastlane: Good Sam 500
Who should you have in your lineup? fantasy-based preview for the Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway
Best in-car audio from the Good Sam 500
Check out some of the best in-car audio from the Good Sam 500 from Phoenix International Raceway.
Sam Bass: How it all started
Sam Bass has been drawing racecars since the age of seven. Since then he has realized a childhood dream creating racing art for some of the biggest names in NASCAR.