Dale Earnhardt Jr. keeps searching for speed
Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks about his top-10 run at Michigan International Speedway and how he feels his No. 88 team still needs to pick up some speed .
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).
Need for speed ? Rolex 24 set to kick off motorsports season
RELATED: Full Rolex 24 schedule DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway has traditionally marked the start of Speedweeks and ushered in the beginning of the American motorsports season. This year it will also coronate IMSA's new prototype race cars billed as "the fastest, most technologically advanced machines ever in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship." It's a big week, to say the least. The 55-car field will set the starting grid today (Thursday) during pole qualifying on the 3.56-mile Daytona road course. The twice around-the-clock race starts at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday (coverage begins on FOX) and will feature NASCAR superstar and four-time champion Jeff Gordon among a long list of highly-decorated sports car stars like his Wayne Taylor Racing co-drivers Max Angelelli and brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor. It's Gordon's second Rolex start after finishing third overall with the team in 2007. New full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitor Austin Cindric will compete in the Daytona GT class. Longtime NASCAR road course racing standout Boris Said and IndyCar stars like Sebastien Bourdais, Indy 500 champions such as Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Ryan Hunter-Reay to Indy 500 polewinner and Dancing With the Stars talent, James Hinchcliffe are on the entry list. They will all compete with sports car’s best like five-time Rolex winner Scott Pruett whose driving in the GT Daytona (GTD) class -- at 27 entries the largest of the four classes – and longtime prototype driver Scott Sharp. Six-time winner Chip Ganassi Racing -- the winningest team in Rolex history -- will field four cars with an all-star lineup in the GT LeMans class. Former Rolex winner Joey Hand will co-drive with sports car star Dirk Mueller and three-time IndyCar champ Bourdais. Open-wheel star-turned-sports car driver Ryan Briscoe will co-drive with Dixon in another car and former Indy 500 champ Kanaan will be among four drivers splitting the time in two Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK cars. </p>
The First-timer's guide to the Daytona 500
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Read more Inside Groove So, you’ve decided to attend your first NASCAR race -- how exciting! You’ve chosen the Daytona 500 , the greatest spectacle of stock car racing, conquered by heroes like Jeff Gordon , Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, and Trevor Bayne . Here are some tips and tricks on how you can make your maiden trip to this year's Daytona 500 the most enjoyable experience at the track possible. -- Wear sunscreen! The sun is hot in Daytona Beach. It's common practice to wear a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of your favorite driver's car number. Don't have a favorite driver yet? Jamie McMurray is a popular choice -- he's No. 1, really. --During the race, you'll hear a lot of people seated around you shouting, "Go Dale Jr.!" This is normal. Junior Nation has been asked to remind their driver to keep going -- he's been out of the car for a few months and his fans are trying to be helpful in case he forgot how to do his job. -- Purchase tickets well in advance of the Daytona 500 ! You can no longer arrive at the hallowed grounds of motorsports and expect to answer the Grand Marshal's three riddles to gain entry to the race. Times have indeed changed. -- Bump drafting is NOT encouraged in the line for the bathrooms. Trust me. Leave it to the professionals. -- On Lap 14 of the Daytona 500 , you'll be asked to hold up 14 fingers in honor of the now-retired Tony Stewart . Be sure to comply, lest you be ribbed and taunted by fellow racegoers for the remainder of the event. -- It's customary to perform "the wave" on each of the race's 200 laps as the pack races by where you're seated. Remind your neighbors of this if they forget. -- If you fall off your boat into Lake Lloyd, simply put yourself in a bag of rice for 24 hours to dry off. -- It'll be SUPER awkward walking into the track wearing your Scott Speed 2012 team t-shirt. Stop by the merchandise tent as soon as possible if that's the case. -- Upon gaining entry to the track, you'll be handed a race program that explains the race festivities. It's part of your ticket agreement with the track that you list the program for sale on eBay immediately following completion of the race. -- When 40 cars bolt past you at full speed after the green flag waves, the noise can be rather startling. Most race car drivers, however, are quite respectful if you give them a "shush" as they race on. Don't be shy -- race car drivers are people, too, and they're happy to comply with a fan's polite request! -- In the event of rain, the race will be delayed until the track is sufficiently dried. Avoid sitting in the grandstands for hours, thinking the cars will come back around the track any time now -- it's quite likely the cars are actually stopped on pit road, disguised by car covers! -- Do not utter the words, "Drivers, start your engines!" before the official command is given by the Grand Marshal. Reciting this phrase could startle drivers into accidentally starting their race cars sooner than expected -- and you don't want responsibility for that magnitude of disaster on your hands. -- Open bowls of cereal are not permitted in the facility. Finish those flakes and leave your bowl in the car before you attend The Great American Race! Better yet, meet up with other racing/cereal enthusiasts at one of the designated "cereal bowl zones" in the parking lot outside the track. -- You'll notice the cars look quite a bit different in person than they do on TV. That's simply because the camera adds ten pounds. Enjoy your slimmed and unfettered view of those speed machines! -- When there's a crash on the track, the cars always seem to end up at the end of skid marks. That means trouble! When you start to see skid marks appear, recite the customary Daytona skid marks chant to alert race fans around you: " Women and men 'round these hallowed grounds; hark -- now rise -- for trouble abounds!" -- Before the race begins, airplanes will fly in formation over the track -- this is called the "fly-over" and it's perfectly normal. Don't feel embarrassed -- you didn't accidentally go to the air show instead of the biggest race of the NASCAR season! -- Most food vendors within the gates of the race track do not offer free refills on cans of Monster Energy. -- Speaking of food vendors, try out some Daytona 500 specialties! Ask for the secret menu to get access to delicacies like "Race Puppies," "Busch Ears," "Cassill Greens," "Dale's Famous Gus Drops," and Daytona's own "Pasta Logano," named after the 2015 winner of The Great American Race. -- Fellow fans wearing a shirt bearing your favorite driver are required to return all high-fives and fist bumps. Promptly report any suspicious refusals to return high-fives to track security. -- If you forget to print out this guide and bring it with you to the track, just remember DAYTONA: -- DAY le Earnhardt, Jr. is a common driver for whom you can cheer in case you forget the name of your favorite driver -- TON y Stewart isn't racing in the Daytona 500 this year -- he retired. (Remember, 14 fingers on Lap 14!) -- A good idea would have been to print out the First Timer's Daytona 500 Guide. Most of all, have fun and enjoy yourself! In most cases, you can head back home at the conclusion of the race. It's the mark of a Daytona novice to accidentally sit in the grandstands for weeks following the race -- don't embarrass yourself! &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Herring, Scott top practice sessions at Kentucky
RELATED: Practice 2 results SPARTA, Ky. -- Rain ended Friday's on-track activity early for the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Kentucky Speedway . Final practice was set to run from 6 p.m. to 7:25 p.m. ET, but a red flag for wet weather came out around 30 minutes in with NASCAR calling it shortly thereafter. At the time of the stoppage, Drew Herring (175.959 mph) was at the top of the speed chart. Herring is practicing and qualifying the No. 54 Toyota for Erik Jones and Joe Gibbs Racing at Kentucky. Jones will be in the No. 54 for the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) Ryan Blaney (175.661 mph) and Daniel Suarez (175.593 mph) were in the top three in the final practice session. Brian Scott topped the opening practice with a speed of 178.159 mph, followed by his RCR teammates of Ty Dillon (177.439 mph) and Brandon Jones (177.194 mph). Chris Buescher enters this weekend's race with a 25-point lead on Dillon and a 28-point lead on defending series champion Chase Elliott in the driver championship standings. Brendan Gaughan is the defending race winner. The VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 is the final standalone of the 2015 XFINITY Series schedule. XFINITY Coors Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 4:45 p.m. ET (NBCSN/Live Extra) with the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. Brad Keselowski won the July XFINITY Series race at Kentucky in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. That car will be driven this weekend by Ryan Blaney , who won this race in 2013 for his first career XFINITY Series win. It has been a rainy NASCAR season for the 1.5-mile oval track as much of the NASCAR tripleheader schedule in July was washed out by rain. All three national series races were run at their scheduled times, but most practice and qualifying sessions were rained out. RELATED: Practice 1 results Brian Scott topped the leaderboard during the final minutes of opening NASCAR XFINITY Series practice at Kentucky Speedway . In the series' final stand-alone event of the year, Scott had a fastest lap of 178.159 mph in his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Scott's RCR teammate, Ty Dillon , was right behind him, wheeling his No. 3 Chevrolet around the 1.5-mile track with a fastest lap of 177.439 mph. Next was Brandon Jones , who finished with the third-fastest lap (177.194 mph) after topping the leaderboard for much of the first session. Ryan Blaney (176.840 mph) and Daniel Suarez (176.811 mph) were fourth and fifth, respectively. Defending race winner Brendan Gaughan was ninth-fastest, pulling a fastest lap of 175.279 mph.
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.
Scott improves in tandem with RPM chassis program
RELATED: Complete lineup for Martinsville " Sunoco Rookie of the Year race MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- It's a process, said Brian Scott , both for himself and the Richard Petty Motorsports organization. One of five Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates, Scott pilots the No. 44 Ford for RPM. He is 25th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings after five races, and third in the rookie standings, trailing Chase Elliott ( Hendrick Motorsports ) and Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing ). "Right now, our motto is we're stacking pennies," Scott , 28, said Saturday morning at Martinsville Speedway , site of Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "It's a motto that (crew chief) Chris Heroy shared with me. He's like, 'You've just got to keep stacking pennies until you make a dollar.' And that's what we're doing. We're taking small steps in the right direction." Scott and the team arrived at Martinsville this weekend on the heels of a season-best 12th-place finish at Auto Club Speedway . The result was especially pleasing given that it was the first "new" car rolled off the line for the No. 44 team. RPM previously purchased vehicles from Roush Fenway Racing ; last year the organization began building its own bodies; in '16 a new in-house chassis-building program was put into place. "We just didn't start the season that way and we knew that we weren't going to," Scott said. "We got a late start with the deal coming together in December, we have a new crew chief ... and it's just taking some time to get all the parts and pieces and the cars and everything where we want them. "But California was a huge step in the right direction with the people at Richard Petty Motorsports building some of their own chassis and doing a lot more of the stuff, and that was the first new car that we had run." The increased speed on the track is a reflection of that work. But again, it's a process. "Unfortunately, these new cars are extremely valuable possessions right now and we have limited numbers," he said. "It's important for us not to tear them up and to continue to not tear up the old cars when we have to run them because the rotation won't allow ... just give the shop opportunities to create more new cars and to start phasing out our old cars instead of having to fix and work on them." Team co-owner Richard Petty said the results after just five races might be somewhat similar to the 2015 season, but the improvement is there. The seven-time series champion and winner of 200 races said the RPM group is "just a wee bit better than we were last year. "But we're doing a lot of our own stuff and feel like we've got a lot better opportunity of improving over the year than what we did before because most of the time what we started the season with is what we wound up with," Petty said. "Now, we can make our own changes with the body or the chassis or whatever the rules are, so it might not be there, but we're going to have a better chance of our destiny being in our hands from the car standpoint." Scott's teammate Aric Almirola is 13th in points with three finishes of 15th or better. He has three top-10 finishes in 14 career starts on the unique 0.526-mile layout and will start 20th Sunday. Scott will start 26th. He posted two top-10 runs in the Camping World Truck Series at Martinsville, but Sunday's race will be his first in a Sprint Cup entry. "The short track program has been a sticky spot for Richard Petty Motorsports in the past with the exception of Bristol – they've run really well at Bristol and Dover," Scott said. "But the short, flat track program is an area that they needed probably the most improvement out of all their programs. ... I feel like that's an area that bringing Chris (Heroy) in from another company has been helpful; it's just that it takes time to implement new ideas and to get those things in place."
Keselowski shows speed in final Darlington practice
RELATED: Practice 1 results " Final practice results " 10-lap averages Brad Keselowski closed out final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice with the fastest lap Saturday afternoon at Darlington Raceway . Keselowski registered a best lap of 174.649 mph in the Team Penske No. 2 Ford in the 80-minute final prep for Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 (6 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Kurt Busch posted the second-fastest lap with the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet at 174.031 mph. The No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson , fastest in opening practice, was third-best in final practice (174.019 mph), followed by teammate Kasey Kahne (173.656 mph) and Richard Childress Racing 's Paul Menard (173.454 mph) to complete the top five. Kyle Larson , last weekend's winner at Michigan International Speedway , added his name to the list of drivers scraping the wall for a "Darlington Stripe." His No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet sustained minor right-side damage early in the session. Brian Scott replicated the mishap in the session's final two minutes, scrubbing the outside wall with the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 44 Ford. He finished the session 13th. Defending race winner Carl Edwards notched the seventh-fastest lap in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota (172.826 mph). Pole-starter Kevin Harvick , who inherited the first starting spot after Hurricane Hermine's effects scrapped all Friday on-track activity, was 19th-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Two-time winner Greg Biffle was the fastest in the 10-lap average category, driving the Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Ford. He landed in the sixth spot during final practice (173.234 mph). Johnson sets pace in first practice Jimmie Johnson roared to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup leaderboard in opening practice Saturday at Darlington Raceway . Johnson guided the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 to a best lap of 176.025 mph on the 1.366-mile track. He'll start ninth in Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 (6 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) after severe weather related to Hurricane Hermine washed away Coors Light Pole Qualifying and all other on-track activity Friday. Denny Hamlin was second-fastest in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota with a lap of 175.060 mph in the 85-minute session. Ryan Blaney , Kyle Larson and Ryan Newman closed out the top five. Points leader Kevin Harvick , who will start from the pole position after Friday's qualifying rainout, was 11th-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Jeff Gordon -- making another substitute start for Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who is sidelined for the rest of the season with concussion-like symptoms -- was 14th-best in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet. Defending race winner Carl Edwards landed the 22nd-fastest lap in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota. A handful of drivers scraped the wall in the opening session, earning "Darlington Stripes" with mostly minor right-side damage. Among them were Brad Keselowski , Blaney and defending Sprint Cup champ Kyle Busch . Danica Patrick also overshot pit road late in the practice, looping her No. 10 Chevrolet without damage.
Michigan rules package adds speed , opportunity
RELATED: Drivers held up in pre-qualifying inspection BROOKLYN, Mich. -- NASCAR officials and Sprint Cup Series drivers will go racing off into the unknown Sunday here at Michigan International Speedway (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), equipped with an adjusted aerodynamic rules package and a lot of questions. Few were answered on Friday, the first day teams rolled onto the 2-mile track with a package featuring a smaller rear spoiler as well as changes to the front splitter. Single-car runs dominated the lone practice session, no different than qualifying, which ended the first day's action. Instances of cars running side-by-side and/or nose to tail weren't rare. They were non-existent. With two practices on tap for Saturday, some brave souls may yet emerge. Speed was the topic of conversation on Friday as teams adapted to the changes. "I am really excited about the fact that not only is it really cool to go 220 mph at the end of the straightaway, but then we have to slow down to 180 mph in the corner," Aric Almirola , driver of the No. 43 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports , said. "For a race car driver, 220 mph is fast and it is fun and honestly not that scary because you have to let off the gas to go in the corner. "What is scary is running 200 mph at the end of the straightaway and 198 at the end of the corner and it really hurts when the right front tire blows out and you hit the wall." The discrepancy in straightaway speed vs. cornering speed is expected to open up passing zones. It creates "opportunity," Almirola said. "You can drive in the corner a little deeper," he said. "You can lift a little sooner. It really opens up the driver's tool box if you will." "It's a nice change of pace," said Brad Keselowski , a Michigan native who is winless in 13 career starts at the speedway. "We are all kind of learning together how that will affect the racing. I don't think anyone will have an answer until they drop the green on Sunday. "That seems to normally be the case here where races are different than practice and qualifying. … It is fun to drive. You enter the corner almost 220 mph and you turn left and the front goes and the back doesn’t always go with it. That is quite a feeling for sure. It is a unique challenge that I think will bring out some of the best racing we have seen in quite some time." NASCAR began tweaking this year's lower downforce aerodynamic package at Kansas, requiring teams to weld rear trailing arms and brackets to limit offset and movement in the rear of the vehicles, decreasing sideforce. Further changes were put into play for this year's non-points Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The number of fans used for cooling purposes, which teams had begun using to move air from underneath the car and create downforce, was decreased and the rear toe alignment was reset in a move to limit sideforce. The fan and trailing arm changes will remain in place but the rear toe alignment was only for the non-points event. The latest moves, for this weekend's race Michigan as well as next month's event at Kentucky Speedway (July 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), consist of the spoiler, deck fin and front splitter changes in addition to those previously announced. RELATED: Tire test to show Kentucky changes, tweaked rules package Two years ago, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars created approximately 3,000 pounds of downforce. Rule changes for '15 reduced that to 2,700 pounds, according to Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR Senior Vice President, Innovation & Racing Development, said Friday. "They're running the '16 rules package at 2,000 (pounds), and the package we're running here in Michigan will be 1,500," Stefanyshyn said of the downforce numbers. "So it's been a journey over three or four years." Those changes have also reduced sideforce by approximately 110 pounds, he said. "Obviously we take the aerodynamic forces off the car, it makes the car a bit more difficult to drive for the drivers, but in taking those aerodynamic devices off, we do clean up the amount of air or turbulence around the cars so the cars should be able to move around each other better and pass. So that's kind of the theory." Combined with a Goodyear tire matched more closely to the lower downforce package, the changes have resulted in closer competition on the track this season. Friday's activities were more about getting acquainted with the new package; how it will impact competition when cars are three- and four-wide, several rows deep, has yet to be answered. "I think it's difficult to visually see the difference, but when you look at the data from the cars, the speed trace is significantly different, the mid‑corner speeds are down a lot, the entry speeds are up a little," Scott Miller, NASCAR's Senior Vice President of Competition, said. "And from some of the driver comments, having to use the brakes pretty hard and maybe even thinking about needing brake cooling and everything at a big track like this is a departure from where we've been before, and we're really hoping that those things actually produce a really, really good race on Sunday."
Scott , McDowell top practice sessions at Daytona
Practice 4 recap " RELATED: Practice 4 results " Full schedule for Daytona Twenty-five drivers hit the track for Wednesday's second session with all eight drivers who skipped the day's first practice bringing their cars out for the later one. Originally slated for 45-minutes, NASCAR granted the field an additional five minutes after a multi-car wreck interrupted the second session. After dealing with oil on the 2.5-mile track -- which brought out the red roughly 20 minutes into the session -- 2016 Rookie of the Year candidate Brian Scott topped Wednesday's final practice. The wheelman for the No. 44 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet posted a fastest lap of 199.800 mph. Ty Dillon 's No. 95 was the culprit of the leaked oil after his oil cooler cracked on his Chevrolet. This triggered a crash involving Ryan Newman , Michael Waltrip , Kyle Larson , David Gilliland and 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chris Buescher . "The 95 sprung a leak in front of us and it was just a chain reaction of events," Ryan Newman voiced. "It wasn't Michael's (Waltrip) fault." Austin Dillon was able to avoid the on-track wreck and scored second on the leaderboard after propelling his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet around DIS at 199.769 mph. 2015 Sprint Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch was right behind him, posting the third-fastest speed on the clock (199.729 mph). The No. 48 of two-time Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson (199.645 mph) and the No. 27 of Paul Menard (199.601 mph) were fourth and fifth, respectively. On-track action will pick back up on Thursday with the Sprint Cup Series final practice (Noon, FS1). Practice 3 recap " RELATED: Practice 3 results Michael McDowell topped the leaderboard for Wednesdsay's first practice at Daytona International Speedway , wheeling his No. 59 Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet at 200.173 mph for the fastest lap of the 45-minute session. McDowell was the only driver to break the 200 mph mark during the session. Second-fastest was the No. 6 of 2011's Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne who accelerated his Ford around the 2.5-mile track at 199.916 mph. The No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Greg Biffle (199.619 mph), the No. 17 RFR Ford of Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (199.252 mph) and the No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet of Casey Mears (199.164 mph) rounded out the top five. Polesitter Chase Elliott finished eighth on the leaderboard with a fastest lap of 198.286 mph. Eight drivers stayed out of this session: Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Michael Waltrip , Martin Truex Jr . and the entire four-car team of Joe Gibbs Racing ( Denny Hamlin , defending series champion Kyle Busch , Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth ).
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