Costly pit mistake for Pruett and No. 01 team
The No. 01 team cannot get the left-rear tire secured and a penalty results after Scott Pruett accidentally hits his crewmember.
The Rundown: Michigan driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway : 1. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Twice, Larson had to overcome problems on pit road. Twice, Larson beat Chase Elliott on restarts from the front row. The second one, with 10 laps to go, was the difference. Larson gets his first Sprint Cup win in his 99th start and his ticket punched to the Chase. Well done. Grade: A 2. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Restarts, restarts, restarts. Elliott lost the first race at Michigan because of poor restarts and it happened again Sunday. And just like in June, Elliott finished second. Grade : A- 3. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . The native of Michigan posted his sixth straight top 10 at his home track but to his chagrin remained winless in the Irish Hills. Grade: A 4. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney needs a win to make the Chase, and he drove like it Sunday, posting his first top 10 in 10 races. Grade: A 5. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick led 33 laps, and his 3.56 averaging running position topped the field. Grade: A 6. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson was a factor -- and the leader -- until his green-flag pit stop on Lap 109. But his gas man had trouble refueling the No. 48, and from that point forward Johnson was playing catchup. His 37 laps led were second to Kyle Larson ’s 41. Grade: A- 7. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards now has two wins, seven top fives and 15 top 10s in 2016. That’s what he had all of last season. Grade: A 8. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray finished eighth for the third consecutive week. He holds the last spot in the Chase standings by 15 points over Ryan Newman with two races to go before the field is set. Grade: A 9. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin’s sixth straight top-10 finish is the longest active streak. Grade: A 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . All of the polesitter’s strength came at the start of the race. A slow final pit stop left him 17th on the last restart. Grade: A- 11. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle had a nice finish, but he was never a factor. Only Kyle Busch ’s 26 laps in the top 15 were fewer than Biffle’s 44 among drivers who finished in the top 20. Grade: B 12. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Borrowing a page from Greg Biffle … Busch was not a factor, either, and only his brother’s 24.84 average running position was worse than his 17.34 among drivers who finished in the top 20. Grade: B 13. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . In the first 12 races of the season, Kenseth led 398 laps. In the next 12, 79 laps, including eight Sunday, his first laps led since his victory last month at New Hampshire. Grade: B 14. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne is going to need a win -- or a miracle -- to make the Chase field. He trails Jamie McMurray by 52 points for the final Chase-eligible spot after finishing outside the top 10 for the eighth straight race. Grade: B 15. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger finished in the top 15 in four consecutive races for the first time since the end of the 2011 season. Grade: B 16. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon is 15th in the Chase standings with a 21-point cushion over Ryan Newman in 17th. Grade: B 17. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman should consider himself fortunate to be only 15 points out of 16th with two races to go for the Chase field is set -- he hasn’t had a top-10 finish in his past five races. Grade: B- 18. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Regular readers of The Rundown know we have been enthralled by Menard’s propensity to finish 18th. He racked up his sixth of the season Sunday. Grade: C 19. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch's troubles at Michigan continued when he got loose in Turn 4 on the 26th lap and went for a spin. His average finish in his past seven starts at Michigan is 32.0 with one finish on the lead lap -- and it wasn't Sunday. Grade: C 20. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Truex's shot at winning or having a top finish ended on Lap 66 when the jack man lowered the car before the left rear tire was changed. The damaged left-rear quarter panel was an issue the rest of the day. Grade: C- 21. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . The driver with a win and five top fives in a seven-race stretch has finished 30th and 21st in his past two races. Is the mojo gone? Grade: C 22. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears finished outside the top 10 at Michigan for the 13th consecutive race. Grade: C 23. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . This marks the first time in Patrick's four full-time Sprint Cup seasons she has not finished in the top 20 in at least one of the two Michigan races. She finished 21st in June. Grade: C 24. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne went into last week's race at Bristol eight points out of the final Chase spot. He leaves Michigan 58 points back. Grade: C 25. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Michigan is one of two tracks on which Almirola has made at least 10 starts and has yet to post a top 10. (The other is Pocono.) Grade: C- 26. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith posted his best finish at Michigan since a career-best 13th in August of 2011. Grade: C 27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Since scoring a career-best 15th at Michigan in August 2014, Stenhouse's finishes at the 2-mile track are 25th, 26th, 29th and 27th. Grade: C- 28. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Sunday’s race was something to build on: In his first race at Michigan in June, Scott left with a 36th-place finish and a DNF (crash). Grade: C 29. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Because of Ragan's proximity to Chris Buescher in the standings, he will continue to be one of the most-watched drivers through Richmond. On Sunday, Ragan took a nibble out of Buescher's points lead and is now seven points behind Buescher for 30th in the standings. Grade: C 30. Alex Bowman , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Bowman started sixth and was running in the top five when the car’s ignition failed. A day of promise ended right there, and Dale Earnhardt Jr .’s replacement finished five laps back. Grade: D 31. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell won Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Road America , but his string of top-20 Sprint Cup finishes ended at a season-best two. Grade: D 32. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto battled brake issues all day. Grade: D 33. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . A blown tire brought out the fourth and final caution, and Annett finished five laps back. Grade: D 34. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Whitt produced his worst finish in six starts at Michigan. Grade: D 35. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . With so much at stake, the No. 34 team could not afford the engine woes that dumped Buescher to 35th -- he finished 20th at Michigan in June -- but at least he didn’t finish last. Those extra five points might make the difference between making the Chase and major disappointment. Another positive takeaway: David Ragan could muster only a 29th-place finish. Grade: F 36. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson finished seven laps off the pace. Grade: D 37. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . Earnhardt had an accident in practice and was in a backup car. He finished eight laps back. Grade: D 38. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise's finish was his worst at Michigan since a 39th-place run in August 2013. Grade: F 39. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Suspension woes limited Cassill to 174 laps and left him with his first DNF of the season. Grade: F 40. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer said before the race he had his best car of the year. Yikes! Vibrations sent the No. 15 behind the wall, but Bowyer avoided a DNF, although he did finish 40 laps off the pace. Grade: F
Patrick, Mears and Scott involved in wreck
Following a restart Casey Mears and Danica Patrick get together, collecting Brian Scott at Michigan International Speedway.
Brian Scott leads Sprint Cup practice at Daytona
RELATED: Full practice results Brian Scott topped the charts with a speed of 199.349 mph in his No. 44 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford in Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, which also saw speeds for two cars in the top 10 disallowed. The session at Daytona International Speedway was rescheduled for Friday after rain washed out most of Thursday's action, and it represented the only Sprint Cup practice before Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). David Gilliland initially finished fifth in the session, and Josh Wise initially finished ninth. Both cars were too heavy in the rear on the post-practice scales, so their times were disallowed. Wise was scored 40th in the session, Gilliland 41st. During the 45-minute practice Kyle Busch cut a tire in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and made hard contact with the wall. Busch was released from the infield care center and will go to a backup car. Right behind Scott was Austin Dillon in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet at 199.344 mph. Rounding out the top five were Brad Keselowski , Ryan Blaney and David Gilliland . Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. ET on Friday (NBCSN, Live Extra).
RECAP: Bridesmaid no more for McDowell
NASCAR.com’s Chuck Bush recaps the Road America 180 as Michael McDowell holds off a late-race push from Brendan Gaughan to secure his first career win.
Scott Miller comments on Kentucky repave, lower downforce package
NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, Scott Miller, comments on the effectiveness of the lower downforce rules package used at Kentucky Speedway and how the track raced after the repave.
Ride along for Harvick's wild ride with Brian Scott at Daytona
Check out Kevin Harvick's in-car camera as nearly half of the field wrecks at Daytona and Brian Scott ends up on the hood of the No. 4.
Top 10 consecutive lap averages at Bristol
Opening practice 10-lap averages Position Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 11 Denny Hamlin 61 70 126.740 2 21 * Ryan Blaney # 26 35 126.485 3 2 Brad Keselowski 19 28 126.219 4 47 AJ Allmendinger 15 24 126.207 5 4 Kevin Harvick 47 56 126.191 6 43 Aric Almirola 40 49 126.128 7 19 Carl Edwards 34 43 126.016 8 3 Austin Dillon 14 23 125.907 9 24 Chase Elliott # 26 35 125.692 10 1 Jamie McMurray 30 39 125.665 11 18 Kyle Busch 43 52 125.476 12 20 Matt Kenseth 49 58 125.457 13 27 Paul Menard 38 47 125.326 14 83 Matt DiBenedetto 3 12 125.295 15 13 Casey Mears 2 11 124.799 16 15 Clint Bowyer 28 37 124.470 17 14 Tony Stewart 3 12 124.252 18 95 Michael McDowell 20 29 124.240 19 10 Danica Patrick 58 67 124.231 20 5 Kasey Kahne 51 60 124.134 21 41 Kurt Busch 4 13 124.089 22 22 Joey Logano 40 49 123.951 23 30 * Josh Wise 13 22 123.902 24 38 Landon Cassill 19 28 123.526 25 31 Ryan Newman 38 47 123.498 26 34 Chris Buescher # 48 57 123.189 27 23 David Ragan 12 21 123.091 28 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr . 35 44 123.043 29 48 Jimmie Johnson 39 48 123.032 30 88 Jeff Gordon 50 59 122.389 31 16 Greg Biffle 51 60 122.260 32 44 Brian Scott # 29 38 122.232 33 6 Trevor Bayne 36 45 122.182 Final practice best 10-lap averages Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 11 Denny Hamlin 2 11 127.193 2 18 Kyle Busch 1 10 127.015 3 24 Chase Elliott # 1 10 126.865 4 31 Ryan Newman 5 14 126.811 5 20 Matt Kenseth 26 35 126.669 6 2 Brad Keselowski 33 42 126.660 7 19 Carl Edwards 62 71 126.273 8 4 Kevin Harvick 67 76 126.086 9 14 Tony Stewart 4 13 126.038 10 21 * Ryan Blaney # 4 13 125.966 11 5 Kasey Kahne 7 16 125.906 12 41 Kurt Busch 1 10 125.826 13 48 Jimmie Johnson 54 63 125.789 14 47 AJ Allmendinger 10 19 125.473 15 3 Austin Dillon 6 15 125.441 16 16 Greg Biffle 38 47 125.431 17 88 Jeff Gordon 6 15 125.231 18 42 Kyle Larson 48 57 124.631 19 34 Chris Buescher # 50 59 124.585 20 1 Jamie McMurray 2 11 124.538 21 13 Casey Mears 4 13 124.432 22 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr . 5 14 124.285 23 95 Michael McDowell 41 50 124.260 24 15 Clint Bowyer 4 13 123.988 25 27 Paul Menard 25 34 123.696 26 6 Trevor Bayne 13 22 123.611 27 22 Joey Logano 50 59 123.400 28 44 Brian Scott # 39 48 123.245 29 83 Matt DiBenedetto 15 24 122.606 30 23 David Ragan 1 10 120.742 31 30 * Josh Wise 11 20 120.246
Ready for points 'battle' to Richmond, Buescher stepping up aggression
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Chris Buescher has a victory but remains outside the top 30 in points, a situation that the Front Row Motorsports rookie driver hopes to remedy in the coming weeks as he seeks a berth in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . For the third consecutive season, NASCAR's Chase field will consist of drivers in the top 30 in points who have one or more wins, with any remaining positons in the 16-team field determined via points. Buescher earned his first career Sprint Cup victory at Pocono Raceway , and trails 30th place David Ragan ( BK Racing ) by only three points heading into Saturday night's Bass Pro Shops NRA 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (8 p.m. NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). But it's not just Ragan and the seemingly slim deficit that Buescher said he and his Front Row Motorsports team have their sights set on. "I think anyone will tell you that it's not necessarily just three points," said Buescher. "It's going to be constantly changing. There are four drivers in this window that can basically upset the balance or change it each and every weekend. "For us right now, yeah, it's three points to David Ragan , but after Bristol it could be a completely different story. We could gain points on David, but get passed by the one behind us. It's a balance, but we've got to take it week by week. … We have to capitalize on our weekends as much as possible. That's what is going to be important for us -- to do the best we can and let everything else fall the way it's going to." Regan Smith trails Buescher by 14 points; Brian Scott sits 11 behind Smith. Ten drivers have clinched one of the 16 Chase berths based on wins and their current points positions, including defending series champion Kyle Busch and 2012 champ Brad Keselowski . Tony Stewart has a victory, but has yet to officially clinch a spot since the three-time series champ sits 26th in points and could fall out of the top 30. Eleventh through 16th in points but winless this season are Ryan Newman , Chase Elliott , Austin Dillon , Jamie McMurray , Kyle Larson and Trevor Bayne . Should Stewart remain in the top 30 and Buescher advance, only four positons would be set based on points. Just outside the top 16 are Kasey Kahne and Ryan Blaney . "Right now, we've got to get all we can get and be aggressive with it to gain points and that's more fun racing," Buescher, one of four drivers competing for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, said. "We can enjoy these weekends and not be too worried about giving it up, just knowing that we've got to do everything we can do to run as well as possible. "That's not necessarily saying we've got to try and get ourselves in a fuel window and run out of gas and lose a bunch of spots. It's saying we've got to be aggressive on track, take passes whenever we can get them, and make sure that we can drive forward so that we're earning points versus losing them each of these next four weekends." Buescher finished 21st at Bristol in the spring race, and said it's "probably one of our better race tracks this year for speed … and this should be a place where we can gain a lot of those points." But, he added, "the guys that we're racing also run really well here, so it's going be a battle right up to the end of Richmond."
Multicar melee snaps Kurt Busch streak, thins Bristol field
RELATED: Full race results A late-race battle for the lead transformed into an 11-car melee in Sunday's rain-plagued NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway , ending Kurt Busch 's historic streak of lead-lap finishes at 22. Busch was battling for the lead just after a Lap 372 restart when his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet pitched loose out of Turn 2 on the .533-mile track. His car collected Brad Keselowski 's Team Penske No. 2 Ford, sending the front-runners scrambling behind them. Austin Dillon , Matt Kenseth , Ryan Blaney , Joey Logano , Chase Elliott , Paul Menard , Kyle Larson , Brian Scott and Jimmie Johnson were the other drivers listed as involved in the ninth caution period of the rain-delayed Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. Of those, Dillon, Logano and Johnson drove away with only minor damage to salvage top-10 finishes. Busch wound up completing 372 of the 500 laps Sunday, sidelined by a DNF for the first time this season. He said that he misjudged the sticky rosin applied to the low side of the turns, triggering the pile-up. "I think I just missed the bottom groove by a few inches, got loose and the wreck was on," said Busch, who ended up in 38th place. "The way that our car was restarting it felt comfortable, it felt good. That inside with the rosin and the VHT (traction compound) if you don't hit it exactly right, you lose a lot of time. I tried to make up for it and got loose. I feel really bad for the Monster Energy guys. We had a win in our sights and I just drove the car at 101 percent instead of that 99." Keselowski, who finished 33rd, said he had little room to escape. "He got loose and by the time I saw it, I was already making contact with him," Keselowski said. "It was kind of one of those Bristol things. I hate it because we were making improvements on the car and we had gotten up to third there and the race was kind of coming to us." Kenseth, a four-time winner at Bristol, now has three consecutive finishes at the .533-mile track of 35th or worse. His Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota was nudged into a spin by Elliott then sideswiped by fellow rookie Blaney. "I didn't really see what happened except for there were cars wrecking up there and I slowed down as much as the guy in front of me," Kenseth said. "I couldn't slow down any less than that or I would hit him. Chase busted out of nowhere, ran me over and the 21 (Blaney) came through there wide open -- I still don't know if he's lifted yet or not -- and finished us off. As the wreck happened, you've got to slow down. Just not much I could do."