Danica Patrick, Jacques Villeneuve and others talk about the last-lap incident and the day at Road America.
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated standings ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- The decision to compete in Saturday afternoon's NASCAR XFINITY Series sixth annual Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville at Road America (Wisconsin) paid off in a huge way for Paul Menard , who scored his third career XFINITY victory at his hometown track. Menard, a native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, started eighth and saw a decision to stay out after pitting on Lap 24 work to his advantage as he edged out a relentless Ryan Blaney by 0.573 seconds at the 14-turn road course. After the contest, Menard said had the race extended a lap farther, he would not have collected his first XFINITY win since Michigan International Speedway last June. "I've been really fortunate to win at some of the coolest tracks, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Road America is right there," Menard said. "These guys called a great race. We didn't have the fastest car. We had a really good short run car. We really burned off the rear tires as we ran, but the Richmond Water Heaters/Menards Chevrolet was fast and (crew chief Danny) Stockman made a hell of a call at the end." If wondering about running out of fuel wasn't enough, Menard also had to fend off a hard-charging Blaney. "I was definitely concerned," added Menard on both circumstances. "I was saving as much as I could under caution, but then when we fired off I was just chattering the left rear tire really bad. It took a couple of laps for it to come in, then the (No.) 22 started burning his stuff up, but it just didn't fire off very good in the end, but it came to us." After inclement weather forced the cancellation of Coors Light Pole qualifying, Ben Rhodes earned the top starting spot based upon turning the fastest lap at the 4.048-mile road course in the first XFINITY Series practice session Friday afternoon. Rhodes, a NASCAR Next alum, would find himself under pressure from the drop of the green flag when JR Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott made the move for the lead in Turn 1. Quickly, though, the field would be under the first full-course caution of the day when Tomy Drissi found himself stuck in the gravel trap in Turn 5. Racing resumed on Lap 4 with Elliott checking out from the field and before the first round of green-flag pit stops. The reigning champion stretched his lead to over 10 seconds, when he relinquished the top spot on Lap 11 for a routine pit stop. Championship contender Ty Dillon inherited the lead when Elliott pitted. Dillon, who finished 10th, stretched his fuel run an extra lap to earn a crucial bonus point toward the championship picture. When pit stops cycled through, Elliott reclaimed the point on Lap 16 and built a 13.7-second lead over second-place Brian Scott at the halfway mark. On Lap 22, the second caution waved for fluid on the track, erasing Elliott's substantial advantage. Despite half of the field electing to come to pit road for service behind them, Elliott and his JRM team stood firm on their plan and stayed out. On the restart, Elliott withstood a challenge for Brian Scott and Ryan Blaney , but in Turn 14 and through the frontstretch, Scott mounted the pressure and made the move on Elliott to take the lead on Lap 27. Unable to make it to the end on fuel, Scott pitted under green on Lap 29 handing the lead to defending race winner Brendan Gaughan . Three laps later, though, Gaughan pitted, handing the lead to hometown hero Paul Menard who pitted during the second caution with 13 laps remaining. Planning to stay out till the end, Menard in saving mode purposely gave up the lead to Blake Koch ,who led with 10 laps remaining when pole-sitter Rhodes found himself stuck in the gravel trap in Turn 7 issuing the third full course caution. During the extended caution, Koch lost power, putting Menard back at the point. On the Lap 41 restart, Menard withstood challenges from Darrell Wallace Jr . and Blaney to seal the win in his 197th career start. Next up for the NASCAR XFINITY Series is a trip to the track dubbed "Too Tough To Tame" at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway for the VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 on Sept. 5 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC).
RELATED: Darlington's throwback paint schemes Some people might call it sky blue or even Carolina blue, but in racing it's Petty Blue, and with Day-Glo Red and white it creates the iconic No. 43 paint scheme that will dress up Aric Almirola 's No. 43 STP Ford for the Sept. 6 Bojangles' Southern 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Almirola's throwback paint scheme honors Richard Petty's 1972 Plymouth Roadrunner, the first time The King's car featured sponsor STP with the Petty Blue and Day-Glo Red on the quarter panels. "STP has been a proud partner of Richard Petty for nearly 44 years now, and all of that started with this 1972 paint scheme," said Jamie Kistner, vice president of marketing for STP. "To be able to bring that first year back to the track through this paint scheme and with Aric Almirola has been a lot of fun and has brought back some great memories of STP's storied history in NASCAR for our fans. Darlington Raceway is hosting a great throwback event that's produced a lot of excitement and we're honored to be a part of it." STP Racing announced the throwback paint scheme on Twitter with a video honoring the No. 43's history and showing the painting of the Darlington car. Petty, a seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, raced with the STP logo on the hood of his No. 43 car for 21 years. The King has 200 career wins, and 60 of them came with STP aboard. "It will be neat to see the car that started our partnership with STP 43 years ago back on track at Darlington," said Petty. "It will be fun to see all the throwback schemes racing at Darlington and on Labor Day Weekend. It just feels right to have the Southern 500 back to Labor Day Weekend and is fitting that we celebrate tradition there with throwback paint schemes." Several members of the 1972 championship-winning team will be with Richard Petty Motorsports at Darlington: crew chief Dale Inman, as well as crew members Richie Barsz, fabricator; Tex Powell, mechanic and jackman; Les Barsz, mechanic and transporter driver; Billy Biscoe, mechanic and gas man; Jimmy "Zoomer" Kovalchik, fabricator and tire carrier; and Barry Dodson, painter. MORE: Hall of Fame driver Labonte to be grand marshal for race
RELATED: Full qualifying results Kyle Busch won the Keystone Light Pole Qualifying on Wednesday afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway. Despite Kyle's recent on-track dominance in all three series, this is his first pole for the 2015 Camping World Truck Series season. "Rowdy" had a fastest speed of 125.683 mph in 15.267 seconds. Next on the leaderboard was the driver of the No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford, Ryan Blaney . Blaney posted a fast lap of 125.559 mph in 15.282 seconds. And rounding out the top three was Brandon Jones in his No. 33 Chevrolet, coming in at 125.469 mph (15.293 seconds). Next was the No. 4 of Erik Jones (125.166 mph) and the No. 00 of Cole Custer (125.142 mph) in fourth and fifth, respectively. On-track action for the NCWTS picks back up at 8:30 p.m. ET for the UNOH 200 Presented by ZLOOP ( 200 laps, 106.6 miles), FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM.
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated standings BRISTOL, Tenn -- A spin with four laps to go in Wednesday night's UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway proved to be the saving grace for Brad Keselowski Racing's Ryan Blaney , who grabbed the lead on a green-white-checkered restart to win his first race of the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season. Blaney recovered from an early race penalty for jumping a restart to find himself closing on leader Matt Crafton with five laps remaining. When Ty Dillon spun on Lap 196, it triggered the final caution of the night and the opportunity for Blaney to steal Crafton's thunder. On the final restart, Crafton's truck sputtered, failing to come up to speed, allowing Blaney to take off and seal his fourth career NCWTS victory. "It feels really good," Blaney said. "I'm proud of everyone on this No. 29 team. I've had a chance to drive this truck four times this year and we've come really, really close every single time and to finally get it to Victory Lane, my last start of the year for this truck, it really means a lot to get Chad (Kendrick, crew chief) and Brad (Keselowski, team owner) back to Victory Lane. "To do that in that fashion coming from a lap down and being able to drive through the field like that says a lot about our race team and a lot about what as an organization we can do." Keystone Light Pole Award winner Kyle Busch 's slow start allowed outside pole-sitter Blaney to steal the lead early by the exit of Turn 1, controlling the field through the first caution on Lap 31 for a spin in Turn 2. On the restart, Blaney roared away from the field, but a few laps later, NASCAR black-flagged him on Lap 37 for jumping the restart, forcing a pass-through penalty, giving the lead to Cole Custer . Busch, who restarted fifth, methodically worked his way forward and attempted to take the lead away from the young NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner, but Custer kept Busch at bay through the race's second caution on Lap 79 for debris in Turn 1. Busch and Johnny Sauter would trade the lead following the caution, before Custer returned to the top spot on lap 90. A more than 1.5-second lead for Custer would be erased when Ray Black Jr . and Caleb Holman crashed in Turn 4 on lap 112. With darkening skies overhead and the threat of rain approaching the World's Fastest Half-Mile, a majority of the teams elected to stay out. Despite his best efforts, Crafton tried to snatch the lead away from the JR Motorsports driver, but to no avail. Custer slowly saw Crafton become a diminishing factor in his rear-view mirror until he hit heavy lap traffic with 50 laps remaining. That's when Spencer Gallagher spun in Turns 3 and 4, and Custer found himself trapped in the high-line and collided with Gallagher. Heavy front-end damage sent the No. 00 Chevrolet to pit road for repairs, eliminating the NASCAR Next driver from competition. As the accident happened, Crafton slipped by on the inside and took the lead -- which he held until the green-white-checkered restart that lost him the race. While under yellow for the fourth time of the night, heavy rain began to fall, causing a red flag for 45 minutes, 50 seconds while the track was dried. Next up for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is the Aug. 30 race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the third-annual Chevrolet Silverado 250 . Blaney is the defending champion. MORE: Nemechek gets career-best finish
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The SWM-NEMCO Motorsports crew checked out the light damage on the corners of its No. 8 truck, finding nothing more than cosmetic scrapes in the aftermath at Bristol Motor Speedway, a track known for chewing up fenders and young drivers alike. "That'll buff out" seemed to be the happy consensus. Few were happier about that development Wednesday night than all-smiles John Hunter Nemechek , who turned his second Bristol start into his career-best finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. His third-place result was just behind race winner Ryan Blaney and runner-up Kyle Busch , two drivers with the benefit of far fresher tires down the stretch in the UNOH 200 . "It was one of those deals … don't do anything stupid. Just, you had to let them go," Nemechek said of ceding late-race positions to the front two. "You couldn't race them hard just because of tires. One way or another, he's going to get around you, if he has to move you, dump you, whatever. Decided to play it smart and we know what we need for next time." Nemechek had more to withstand in the late going after the fifth and final caution flag with five laps left extended the race distance by an extra two laps. Though the green-white-checkered attempt was completed on the first try, the frantic competition among the front-runners made Nemechek's feat of finishing where he restarted no easy task. "I spun the tires there on that last restart and I was kind of beating myself up about it going into Turn 1," Nemechek said, "and then they all stacked up and I had a chance to get underneath of them so I took it. We got under them and made the pass." Nemechek's growth as a driver -- three top-10s in just eight starts this year -- has been measured in progress that goes well beyond his 18 years of age. The veteran poise doesn't fall far from the family tree, owing at least a nod to his father, Joe Nemechek . "He's had a good teacher, his dad," said Gere Kennon, crew chief of the SWM-NEMCO No. 8. "… I'm proud to help him because I've raced just like Joe -- his whole life, my whole life. He listens. He's doing good and he's adapted to this very, very well. We help on the Late Model car, too, and he's consistent there. Haven't seen that in a long time. He's the real deal, I think." The younger Nemechek, who took over full-time driving duties for the team after his 18th birthday in June, has nine races ahead of him to close out the 2015 season. He's improved upon his career-best with each of his top-five finishes thus far, but said more improvement in the results column -- or even the win column -- is a reachable goal. "I hope we can have a couple more top-fives, but hopefully we can get a win under our belt," Nemechek said. "I feel like we have the potential to do so. We've just got to have Lady Luck on our side."
RELATED: Bristol schedule " Paint schemes for Bristol It's no longer the pits, figuratively speaking, when setting up shop in a pit stall on the backstretch at Bristol Motor Speedway. Because it is the only track that still features pit stalls on the front (Nos. 1-22) and back (Nos. 23-43) of the track, teams forced to pit on the backside of the tiny, half-mile bullring often found themselves at a competitive disadvantage, hitting pit road only after those stopping on the frontstretch had already been in for service. Teams pitting on the frontstretch entered pit road at the exit of Turn 4 while those pitting on the back remained behind the pace car until they reached the exit of Turn 2 and were allowed to drop down onto the backstretch of pit road. That changed in 2002 when track officials began requiring all cars to enter pit road in Turn 2, regardless of where their pit stall was located. Now, teams pitting on the frontstretch must maintain pit road speed all the way around to their respective pit stalls before returning to the track in Turn 1. Those pitting on the backstretch get service first, but must also maintain pit road speed all the way back around to Turn 1, still utilizing pit road, before returning to the track as well. It hasn't lessened the advantage of qualifying on the pole and choosing the first pit stall closest to the pit-out area in Turn 1 – that remains a prime piece of real estate regardless of track location. Matt Kenseth , winner of the spring race at BMS, started on the pole and was pitted in pit stall No. 1. But Kenseth also won from a backstretch pit stall (in the 2013 night race at BMS) as did Kasey Kahne (in the spring race of '13). Four of those finishing in the top 10 in this year's spring race at Bristol pitted on the backstretch. When under green, teams pitting on the frontstretch enter pit road off of Turn 4 while those pitting on the backside of the track enter at Turn 2. BMS hosts the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Wednesday night with the running of the UNOH 200 . The Food City 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race is set for Friday night and on Saturday the track hosts the annual Irwin Tools Night Race (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM). Split Decision NASCAR officials took no action beyond obtaining the splitters from the Team Penske No. 2 and 22 entries prior to last weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway, leaving most folks to wonder what all the fuss was about. On Sunday morning, officials said the splitters on the cars of Brad Keselowski (No. 2) and teammate Joey Logano (22) were "so close ... we just asked the team to err on the safe side and asked them to switch to a clean splitter." The two pieces were evaluated this week at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. A Reason for Increase in Violations There number of violations on pit road this past weekend at Michigan tripled compared to the series' visit there in June. However, the June race was cut short by rain, with only 138 of the scheduled 200 laps completed. This past weekend's race saw 24 penalties handed down for pit road miscues compared with eight in the series' first stop at the 2-mile track. Tires Good to Go The tire codes for this weekend's Sprint Cup , XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series races at Bristol are unchanged from recent combinations used at the concrete half-mile, according to Goodyear officials. It is the only track where this particular set of tire codes are currently used.
NASCAR fans, check your calendars. Sure, it’s hot and humid outside -- it is August, after all -- but this week feels a lot like Christmas, doesn't it? Saturday marks one of the premier days of each year in motorsports -- we'll be runnin' 'em under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway in the Irwin Tools Night Race (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). For many, the night race at Bristol is the most-anticipated event of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, even ranking ahead of the Daytona 500 . Seeing that race live is something special, something sure to be on every fan's ultimate bucket list. So that has us wondering -- what's on your bucket list? NASCAR.com's Pat DeCola and Jessica Ruffin offer their personal ones, and you should feel free to list your own down in the comments section. DeCola: My NASCAR bucket list? Man, that's a tough one. The sport has so much history at so many different tracks for so many different reasons, it's hard to narrow it down. For starters, I think I'd want to knock the Brickyard 400 at Indy off my list. The Brickyard is arguably the most famous track in the world -- certainly in the United States -- and I have a sneaking feeling the history runs so deep there that you can breathe it in just as easily as the exhaust from 43 cars running around a 2.5-mile rectangle at 200 mph. Indy's an obvious bucket list item. RELATED: Busch wins Indy for third straight victory Ruffin: Stepping on those celebrated bricks and looking up at the famed pagoda is nothing short of a NASCAR dream, Pat. Indy definitely makes my list, too. And while it's much smaller and less glamorous than Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I'm going to throw Martinsville Speedway on my NASCAR bucket list. As the oldest track on the circuit, Martinsville takes you back in time to the roots of racing. All the greats from Fireball Roberts to Junior Johnson to Richard Petty to Dale Earnhardt have wheeled race cars around the paperclip oval. Watching old-school short-track racing from the grandstands -- which all have a spectacular view -- while munching on a legendary Martinsville hot dog is a must-do for any diehard fan. DeCola: Tell me about it. Much to my cholesterol-level's dismay, Martinsville probably makes my bucket list for the hot dog, alone. Continuing down the history trail here, another one any fan would be thrilled to cross off their list is Darlington Raceway, especially for this year's Labor Day Throwback race. Sure, the summer trips to Myrtle Beach are great, but driving along the outside of the landmark track along the way only makes me wish I could be standing in the infield, watching those killer throwback schemes race to take home the biscuit race for one of NASCAR's majors -- the Bojangles' Southern 500 . RELATED: NASCAR.com names NASCAR's Majors Ruffin: This year's throwback schemes at Darlington are going to be incredible -- fans can bet they'll be transported back to another age of racing when they watch Kevin Harvick 's old-school Budweiser scheme turning laps around the speedway Labor Day weekend from the infield. Another place that makes my bucket list possibly for the infield alone is a "Big One" -- good ole Talladega. Located in the heart of Dixie, the larger-than-life tailgating -- which includes everything from mud wrestling to weddings -- and passionate fans make 'Dega a must-stop on the circuit. The racing's pretty awesome, too, with the superspeedway-style drafting, high speeds and crazy, multi-car pile-ups. And if someone like Junior -- the 'Dega fan favorite -- takes the checkered, the contagious post-race excitement is bound to leave you singing "Sweet Home Alabama" all the way home. DeCola: Home, you say, eh? Well, there's no better place to call home than Daytona International Speedway, which may as well consider itself the flagship track of our entire sport. Sure, I've been there before, but guess what -- the annual season-opening Daytona 500 should be on every NASCAR fan's bucket list … every year. One of the most unpredictable, enthralling races of the entire season, there's no reason to "cross it off" if you've been there before. Once is surely not enough. Ruffin: Daytona International Speedway isn't called the World Center of Racing for nothing, that's for certain. It's an iconic track and the Daytona 500 -- NASCAR's Super Bowl -- is the perfect way to open up the NASCAR season. Let's fast forward from the first race to the last race now: The season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. While it's not considered a NASCAR Major in everyone's book (see what we do consider the four NASCAR Majors here ), the final race of the season is a bucket list item simply for the sake of it being the race that ultimately decides the NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. Judging by the exciting, nail-biting atmosphere it created last season with four drivers all vying for the title, Homestead's popularity and hype is bound to increase. Not to mention its located in beautiful south Florida -- so why not make a vacation out of it?
Matt Kenseth , one of the hottest drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as Joe Gibbs Racing continues to put on a power display, was out of the Irwin Tools Night Race early Saturday night after the No. 20's engine failed at Bristol Motor Speedway. "It broke in the middle of the straightaway -- it had that hop and that noise that it makes when you know you dropped a valve. Unfortunate, but man these guys at TRD (Toyota Racing Development) have been doing such an awesome job, we've had so much power and everything has been really reliable here the last year and a half." The No. 20 went behind the wall on Lap 114 after making it to pit road, smoking its way around the 0.533-mile concrete oval. Asked if he saw any signs of trouble with the engine, Kenseth replied, "They never warn you, it would be cool if they would send you a text or something. Just the middle of the straightaway it made that pop where you knew that was it." Kenseth started Saturday night's race in 13th but the engine failure would send the 2003 premier series champion to a 42nd-place finish. He won the spring race at Bristol from the pole. He has three wins this season and entered the Irwin Tools Night Race third in the Chase Grid and locked into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . "The encouraging part is that our cars are really fast and I thought we were an adjustment away from having what we really needed to run with everybody," Kenseth said. "Wish we were still out there." Kenseth dominated the previous week's race, the Pure Michigan 400 , leading 146 of 200 laps en route to the victory.
RELATED: Full practice 2 results Cole Cluster led the final Camping World Truck Series practice for tonight's UNOH 200 Presented by ZLOOP with the top speed of 126.528 mph. Following the JR Motorsports driver on the leaderboard was Ryan Blaney (126.104 mph) who was second-fastest in the session. John H. Nemechek (125.708 mph), Ty Dillon (125.609 mph) and Brandon Jones (125.609 mph) round out the top-five fastest. Jones was the fastest driver in the first Truck Series practice on Tuesday. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race is scheduled for tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. Dalton Sargeant, who will be making his NCWTS debut in tonight's race, ranked sixth in the final practice with a time of 124.971 mph. The 17-year-old was 21st-fastest in the first practice on Tuesday. Points leader Tyler Reddick had the 10th-fastest time in Wednesday's practice (124.170 mph).