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).
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."
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.
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 ).
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 , Jones pace Iowa XFINITY practices
Jamie Dick to backup car after damage from lead coming off another car FINAL PRACTICE RECAP " Full practice 2 results Brian Scott led the final NASCAR XFINITY Series practice at Iowa Speedway for Sunday's 3M 250 (2 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM) with a top speed of 133.747 mph during the 85-minute session. Brandon Jones , who topped the opening practice, was second at 133.435 mph, followed by Darrell Wallace Jr . (132.347 mph), John Wes Townley (132.314 mph) and Ben Rhodes (132.048 mph). Rhodes is making his XFINITY Series debut this weekend in the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. The 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion will be missing his high school graduation in Louisville, Kentucky. Defending series champion Chase Elliott was ninth in the final practice, while points leader Ty Dillon was 10th. There was a caution just past the halfway point of final practice for smoke coming from Jamie Dick 's backup car. Dick had a scary moment in the opening practice when lead came off of Ross Chastain 's car and hit the No. 55 Chevrolet, causing significant damage to the car while a piece of metal also struck his helmet. Coors Light Pole Qualifying is on tap for 5:45 p.m. ET. FIRST PRACTICE RECAP " RELATED: Full practice 1 results Brandon Jones topped the opening NASCAR XFINITY Series practice at Iowa Speedway . The 18-year-old paced the field with a fast lap of 135.676 mph during the 55-minute session. This will be Jones' first XFINITY Series start as he pilots the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Jamie Dick had to go to a backup car after lead came off Ross Chastain 's car and hit the No. 55 Chevrolet, causing significant damage to the car while a piece of metal also struck his helmet. This will be Dick's first start since being diagnosed with new on-set diabetes in March. Chastain took to Twitter to apologize for what happened to Dick's car. pic.twitter.com/sVx3nnQ2ns — Ross Chastain (@RossChastain) May 16, 2015 Chris Buescher (135.606 mph) was second, while Daniel Suarez (135.211 mph), Ty Dillon (134.938 mph) and Chase Elliott (134.225 mph) completed the top five. It was a quick turnaround for Elliott, who competed in Friday night's Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Drew Herring shook down the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for Erik Jones , who will compete in Sunday's race. Herring was 11th in the session. The series' stop at the 0.875-mile track marks the first standalone event of the schedule. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Season preview: Brian Scott
RCR driver looks to nab elusive win in XFINITY Series MORE: Full schedule of season previews Team: Richard Childress Racing No. 2 Chevrolet Rank in final 2014 standings: Fourth Wins: 0 Strides: His fifth full season in the series resulted in a number of high-water marks for the 26-year-old native of Boise, Idaho. In his second year with RCR, Scott scored career bests in top-fives (6), top-10s (23) and final points position (fourth). His average starting position (6.5) and finishing position (9.3) were also career bests. With the help of crew chief Phil Gould and the No. 2 crew, Scott was never lower than 10th in points after the season's first race, and was fifth or higher for much of the second half of the season, thanks to 10 consecutive top-10 runs to end the year. "I feel like I grow every race," Scott said. "Now that we sit here and look at a year and if we have to encapsulate all that into a timeframe, I've grown tremendously. But I grow tremendously every single race. I feel like I get better in traffic, I feel like I get better on restarts, I feel like I get to be a better leader, I communicate better to my team. Those are things that I feel like are always improving race by race by race." It's no surprise, then, that Scott says he is looking forward to the 2015 season. "I'm looking forward to Daytona, the first race, and then the next race," he said. "I look forward to going race by race next year and continuing to improve and hopefully by the end of the year I've done a good enough job and I've improved enough through the course of the season to be sitting there at the championship table." Setbacks: In spite of his continued improvement, Scott has yet to land in the winner's circle after 175 career starts in the series. At least one area he said he hopes to improve upon is restarts, which often provide the best chance for improving one's position on the track. "You're never perfect on restarts … every driver will tell you that," he said. "If a driver tells you 'I'm perfect on every restart' then I envy them because they've got it figured out and I don't. "There are so many things that can happen on a restart; it's the best opportunity that you have throughout the course of a race to gain positions or to lose positions. I feel like more often than not, I either maintain or I lose a position or two. And I want to get to be the type of driver where every restart, no matter how my car is handling, I'm able to be aggressive and push the envelope and try to gain positions." Quoteworthy: "We have to work at this thing 33 weeks a year and communication … is a big part of that. Obviously you need to have speed and you need to have talent. I think we have those pieces. I always can be a better driver and I need to be a better driver for my team going forward." What's next: Mike Hillman Jr. replaces Gould as crew chief for the No. 2 team as Gould departed to reunite with Elliott Sadler at Roush Fenway Racing . Hillman is no newcomer, having won two championships and 20 career wins in the Camping World Truck Series. Scott hopes to once again compete in several Sprint Cup events in '15 (he made six starts in '14), a bit of extracurricular activity that he said he believes to be very beneficial. "When you get in (an XFINITY Series) car after you've just got out of a Cup car where you’ve been going 200 (mph) at the end of the straightaways and … you're going 180, it feels like everything slows down," he said. "It really feels like you’re able to utilize your talents … more effectively. "For me, that's the greatest benefit I get." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Ford expects to come out firing with SHR in mix
RELATED: Stewart at ease in new role at SHR CONCORD, N.C. -- With the start of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series little more than one month away, Stewart-Haas Racing teams continue to work through the switch to a new manufacturer, Ford officials now have "more bullets" in their chamber and Clint Bowyer can't wait to make his first official start for SHR. Those were the key takeaways from Wednesday's gathering of Ford and SHR folks held at the Ford Performance Technical Center here in Concord, North Carolina. After years of fielding Chevrolet entries, SHR announced last February that the four-team organization would make the swap to Ford for '17. That's increased the workload somewhat at the team's Kannapolis, North Carolina, headquarters, but preparing for a new season always keeps teams busy. "Every offseason, we start the year and don't feel like we're ready, don't feel like we're quite where we want to be," said co-owner Tony Stewart . "This winter has been a big challenge obviously, but we were prepared for it. … "The team has done a great job. The great thing is their spirits are high and they're really excited about the switch to Ford. You can tell there's a lot of work to be done and a lot going on but ... I'm really proud of our guys and how dedicated they've been to this process." Dave Pericak, Global Director of Ford Performance, said the quickness with which SHR has progressed off the track has been impressive. "The level of collaboration has been fantastic and the speed at which these guys implement and get things done, these guys are racers and there's no messing around," he said. "When there is something that we all know is the right thing to do, just the speed at which Stewart-Haas gets things done is pretty amazing." Stewart ended his NASCAR driving career in '16 with three championships and 49 victories. Bowyer, following a one-year stint at the former HScott Motorsports , will take over Stewart's familiar No. 14 entry. Kevin Harvick , the 2014 champion, returns as do Danica Patrick and 2004 champ Kurt Busch . Not surprisingly, after a season that saw him finish a career-low 27th in points with just three top-10 results, Bowyer admitted he is "champing at the bit." "Pretty damn hard not to be," Bowyer said when asked if he felt rejuvenated by the opportunity. "The thing about it, they're just racers," Bowyer said of the SHR group. "Everybody's working ... just head down, working hard, trying to get better, trying to get faster. They don't take second as an option. It's not an option. They go and work hard and figure out how to win these races. "It doesn't matter what it takes to do it. You have those resources put in place." For Ford officials, the addition of SHR "will raise the level for all of us," according to Raj Nair. Nair, Executive VP for Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer for Ford Motor Company, said "you can't argue with the results out of Stewart-Haas." "So we're all going to learn a lot just by that association." Team Penske , Roush Fenway Racing , Wood Brothers Racing , Richard Petty Motorsports and Front Row Motorsports formed the bulk of the Ford armada in '16. While the Penske teams of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have been title contenders since making the move from Dodge to Ford in 2013, no Ford team has won the championship since Busch won the title in 2004. The company's last manufacturer's title came more than a decade ago as well, in 2002. "It's no secret that (the addition of SHR) brings more bullets to our gun as well," Nair said. "We've got more cars that will be running up front and a bigger chance to win. Sometimes in this sport you're playing the odds a little bit. You can have the fastest car but sometimes stuff happens. So having more faster cars up there is going to increase our chances to make sure the blue oval is in Victory Lane." &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;