No. 48 appeal avoids repeat of 2006 pit pick
Nine years ago, team selected 42nd at Dover, had to share stall RELATED: Nos. 48, 51 and 1 penalized for Charlotte infractions MORE: Hendrick appeals P1 penalty " Johnson stands by appeal The importance of a team's pit stall location isn't lost on Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team. Especially when it comes to Dover International Speedway , a fast 1-mile concrete track that has been the site of nine of Johnson's 73 wins in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. The six-time series champion has earned 19 top-10s at Dover, 15 of which came from a starting spot inside the top 10. Overall, drivers starting on the front row there have won 28 of 90 Sprint Cup races and 71 winners have come from inside the top-10 on the starting grid. A better qualifying result, and pit stall location, doesn't guarantee success, but it is one less problem for a team to deal with on race day. The order for the selection of pit stalls is based on qualifying results, with the Coors Light Pole Award winner getting first choice, and the remainder (pos. 2-43) choosing in order of their position in the starting lineup. Unless you're hit with a NASCAR penalty, which was the case this week for Johnson and the HScott Motorsports team with driver Justin Allgaier . The two teams were penalized Wednesday for receiving consecutive warnings from NASCAR for minor infractions at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 weekends. The P1-level penalty was the loss of choice in pit selection, meaning the two teams would be left with whatever pit stall locations remained after the other 41 teams had made their selections. HMS notified NASCAR officials of its intent to file an appeal on Thursday, and as a result the penalty has been deferred. No date for the appeal hearing has been announced. Now, instead of having to choose one of the last available pit stalls for Sunday's FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM), the No. 48 team's pit selection will be determined by Johnson's qualifying position in the 43-car field. Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is scheduled for Friday at the 1-mile track. Had they not appealed, it would not have been the first time Johnson and his team found themselves with a less-than-prime pit position at Dover. Before 2009, the track featured only 42 pit boxes along pit road, leaving two teams to share one pit stall. And when Johnson spun during qualifying for the spring race of 2006, his team was forced to share a pit stall with fellow driver Scott Wimmer and the Morgan-McClure Motorsports No. 4 team. Actually, they shared more than just the pit stall. Under an agreement between the two teams, Johnson's pit crew initially pitted both cars. And crew chiefs Chad Knaus (Johnson) and Chris Carrier ( Wimmer ) sat atop the same pit box. When pitting, whoever was higher in the running order at the time, Johnson or Wimmer , would pit first. Then the second driver would hit pit road to be serviced by the same crew. The moved ended up costing Wimmer track position when his car ran out of gas under the second caution of the race while waiting to pit. It wasn't until Hermie Sadler retired from the race after 136 laps that a pit stall opened up, allowing Wimmer and the Morgan-McClure team to move to the vacant pit box. In spite of starting at the back of the field, and going two laps down at one point in the race, Johnson was able to rebound and score a sixth-place finish. Wimmer finished 34th, four laps down. Dover added a 43rd pit stall in 2009, part of an upgrade to the facility that included widening pit road and increasing the length of each pit box by four feet. The concrete pit wall from Turn 4 to Turn 1, previously boilerplate, was also torn down and a new wall, 432 feet longer and protected by SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barrier, was installed in its place. No date has been set for the No. 48 team's appeal of the penalty for consecutive written warnings. Warnings, which are not appealable, are typically issued for minor, first-time infractions and the reason for the warnings isn't made public. Multiple warnings elevate the severity of the penalty to a P1 level and may result in one or more consequences besides the loss of choice in pit selection. Track time deduction in practice or qualifying, a delay in the order of inspection and selection for post-race inspection are among the other options NASCAR may impose. Johnson is a nine-time winner at the track and is the defending race winner. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR Illustrated: Road to the Top with Bootie Barker
Learn more about the crew chief of the No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated March 2, 1971 Robert "Bootie" Barker, Born in Scottsburg, Virginia. "I'm from the woods, I guess you'd say. My family farmed." 1989 Graduated from Halifax County High School. 1994 Graduated from Old Dominion University. "I figured that being an engineer would give me a great opportunity to get a job. I listened to a radio show Benny Parsons had every Thursday and he was speaking about — I don't remember exactly — Felix Sabates was upset at Ricky Rudd or vice versa about one had stolen the other's shock engineer, so I was like, 'Oh, OK.' I enjoy competing. That was a way to combine both." 1995-96 Bill Elliott Racing. "Harold Holly [crew chief] picked up the phone and called Mike Beam, who was Bill Elliott 's crew chief at the time. I went to see Mike. He listened to me at least — I did have some credentials — and he said, 'All right, but you're going to clean toilets for a while.' " 1997 Mechanic, Roehrig Motorsports. "I noticed that the crew chief, other than a driver, to me, made the most difference. He got to do the c oolest things. He had the most input." 1998 Shock Builder, Bill Davis Racing. 1999-2000 Shock Builder, Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 team. "You know that if you're working for Jeff Gordon , you have a shot at winning. "I wanted to be Jeff Gordon 's crew chief. I didn't want to be Jeff's shock guy. I did ask Jeff, I said, 'You're not going to make me your crew chief are you?' And he said, 'No, not right now.' " 2001-02 Crew Chief, Bill Davis Racing Nationwide team. Won four races with Scott Wimmer at the end of the 2002 season. "We had a good group. We were killing it." 2003 Crew Chief, Jasper Motorsports, No. 77 with Dave Blaney . "I took the opportunity to jump to Cup for various reasons. It went well in the beginning but I thought it should go a certain way, ownership thought it should go another. … I was a little foolish in my decisions at that time. But I learned." 2004 Crew Chief, Haas CNC Racing, No. 00 Nationwide Chevrolet. 2005-08 Crew Chief, Haas CNC Racing. 2009 Crew Chief, No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. "I was Michael’s crew chief for about three-quarters of a year, which is really good considering how long most crew chiefs hang with Michael. Make sure you print that. [Laughing]" 2010-Present Crew Chief, Germain Racing . SUBSCRIBE NOW!
The Rundown: Bristol driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Driver standings " Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway : 1. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . This says it all about Harvick's second win at Bristol: In 112 Cup races at the track, only four winners started farther back in the field than Harvick's 24th ( Elliott Sadler , 38th, 2001; Dale Earnhardt Jr ., 30th, 2004; Kurt Busch , 27th, 2002; Dale Earnhardt, 26th, 1999). Grade: A++ 2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse overcame a pit-road speeding penalty to tie his career-best finish, which also came at Bristol (2014). In fact, half of Stenhouse's six career top-five finishes have come at Bristol. Grade: A+ 3. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . It was a day of eighths for Hamlin: His eighth top five of the season and his eighth pit-road speeding penalty. He also had to make an unscheduled stop for a loose wheel that put him two laps down. Nice recovery, but he absolutely has to stick a fork in those pit-road speeding penalties before the Chase begins. Grade: A- 4. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon just avoided the big wreck on Lap 373 to post his first top five since Talladega in May. Also important: Dillon moved up two spots in the Chase standings to 13th, passing Ryan Newman and Chase Elliott . Grade: A 5. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Huge day for Buescher, who gets his second career top five -- both in the past three races -- and moves into the top 30 in points for the first time this season. Grade: A+ 6. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Debris piercing the right front of his car couldn't stop Edwards from getting his 14th top 10 of the season, one fewer than he had all of 2015. Grade: A 7. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Hard to believe, but Johnson's finish was only his second top 10 in the past 10 races. Grade: A 8. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray's Chase radar is on max. He's 15th in the Chase standings after his fourth top 10 in the past six races. Grade: A 9. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger posts back-to-back top 10s for the second time this season, the first time he has had multiple back-to-back top-10 finishes in a season in his Sprint Cup career. Grade: A 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . We don't have the space to list all the issues Logano and the No. 22 had to overcome Sunday. This top 10 was hard earned and well deserved. Grade: A 11. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . In the 801st and possibly final start of his career, Gordon gets his best finish in his fourth race as Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s sub. Grade: B 12. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne jumped over Kyle Larson in the standings and picked up ground on Ryan Newman , who leads Bayne by 35 points for the last spot in the Chase with three races to go before the field is set. Grade: B 13. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . With Chris Buescher entering the top 30, Kahne went from 11 points behind 16th place in the Chase standings to 39 points back. Grade: B 14. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola posted his best finish of the season since finishing 13th in Week 4 at Phoenix. Grade: B 15. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott's promising day took a hit when he was collected in the big wreck on Lap 373. On the flip side, he led 14 laps, his first laps led since Week 15 at Michigan. Grade: B 16. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . A miscommunication over the radio that resulted in an unscheduled green-flag pit stop didn't help matters. Grade: B- 17. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto posted the second-best finish of his young career despite being down three laps at one point because of a tire issue. His best finish? Sixth at Bristol in April. Grade: A 18. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott turned in his second-best finish of the season (12th at Fontana in Week 5). Grade: A 19. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell finishes in the top 20 in consecutive races for the first time in his 201-race Cup career. Grade: A 20. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Cassill finished 22nd in April to tie his best finish at Bristol. Sunday, he topped that. Grade: A 21. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan avoided disaster with a great evasive maneuver down low to avoid a spinning Kyle Busch on Lap 358. Grade: B 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick finished 22nd for the third time in the past four races. Her other finish in that stretch: 21st two weeks ago at Watkins Glen. Grade: C 23. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Bad luck found Truex again. He was running third on Lap 358 when he was collected in a wreck caused by Kyle Bush's spin and the No. 78 suffered heavy damage. His average running position of 9.6 was fifth best. Grade: A- 24. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson had an eventful day, and that’s not code for a great day. A pit-road speeding penalty, cut oil line, three on-track incidents (neither his fault) and untimely tire rub totally erased the benefit of having a super-fast car. Grade: B- 25. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears has one top 10 in 28 starts at Bristol giving him the lowest top-10 percentage among active drivers with at least 15 Cup starts at the track. Grade: C 26. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith brought out the third caution when he got into the wall on Lap 157; attrition enabled him to post a top-30 finish. Grade: C- 27. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson tied Regan Smith for the fewest green-flag passes with six. Grade: C- 28. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Pit-road penalties and tire problems carried (dropped?) the day. Still, Newman is 16th in the Chase standings with a 35-point cushion over Trevor Bayne with three races to go. Grade: D 29. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32, Go Fas Racing Ford. Earnhardt improved three spots from his debut at Bristol in April. Grade: C- 30. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . We'll let Tony sum up his final start at Bristol: "We had a wheel that was loose, and that messed our whole day up." Perhaps, but owner Tony got a win and was part of a double burnout with winner Kevin Harvick . Grade: D 31. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . A broken brake rotor put Bowyer into the wall on Lap 416. Grade D 32. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard was running in the top 10 when he got caught up in the aftermath of Kurt Busch 's spin and his car sustained a punctured radiator when he ran into Chase Elliott . That's Bristol. Grade: C- 33. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski was running third when Kurt Busch got loose in front of him, turned and Keselowski hit him hard. Keselowski had run among the leaders until the accident on Lap 373. Grade: C 34. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. The No. 98 spent time in the garage, and Whitt finished 58 laps off the pace. Grade: D 35. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney was caught up in the Kurt Busch wreck. As cars checked up, Blaney slammed into Matt Kenseth , who had been turned by Chase Elliott . Blaney returned to the track, but when the day ended he had little to show for a top-five starting spot. Grade: C 36. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise completed 416 laps, his fewest at Bristol since 2012, his rookie season. Grade: F 37. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . A so-so day at Bristol became a no-no day when Kenseth was collected in the Kurt Busch wreck. Since a four-race run of 1st, 13th, 3rd and 1st, Kenseth has now gone 42nd, 36th and 37th. That's Bristol, too. Grade: C 38. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Finally we come to the driver who miscalculated his move "by a few inches"and ignited the wreck on Lap 373 that collected 10 other cars. Busch later tweeted, "Tasted the checkers, pushed too hard too soon." No argument here. Busch had completed every lap run this season until Sunday. Grade: F 39. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch led a race-high 256 laps and owned the day until something broke in his car (his team will hear about that on Tuesday, he said). The No. 18 went into a soft spin, but it was met with a hard hit by Justin Allgaier that left Busch with his third DNF in his past four races at Bristol, all for crashes. Grade: C- 40. Justin Allgaier , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Subbing for Michael Annett (flu-like symptoms), Allgaier made his first Sprint Cup start of the season one day after finishing second in the XFINITY Series race at Bristol. Two days later he earned the wrath of Kyle Busch for plowing into him when Busch spun out on Lap 358. That's the high and lows of Bristol. Grade: F </p>
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."
Teams look for Chase edge at Chicagoland test
With the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup only one month away, several Sprint Cup Series teams will try to get a leg up on the competition at Chicagoland Speedway this week by taking part in an organizational test for the series. Thirteen teams are tentatively scheduled to make the trek to the 1.5-mile track for the two-day test initially scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 23-24. Because of weather in the area, the test was adjusted to an all day session on Tuesday running into the night. Drivers expected to be on hand are: -- Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet) -- Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet) -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr . ( Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford)--- Trevor Bayne filled in so Stenhouse could attend Bryan Clauson's services -- Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota) -- Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford) -- Joey Logano ( Team Penske No. 22 Ford) -- David Ragan ( BK Racing No. 23 Ford) -- Ryan Newman ( Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet) -- Chris Buescher ( Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford) -- Brian Scott ( Richard Petty Motorsports No. 44 Ford) -- Michael Annett ( HScott Motorsports No. 46 Chevrolet) -- Jimmie Johnson ( Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet) -- Michael McDowell (Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Chevrolet) Chicagoland is scheduled to host the opening Chase race, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, on Sunday, Sept. 18 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) That the test will be held so close to the race date "is huge," said six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson . "To be on the track in close proximity when we go back and race, we obviously have a lot going on just as all teams do trying to gear up and get ready for the Chase," he said. Johnson has 14 career starts at the 1.5-mile track, but it is one of four -- along with Watkins Glen, Homestead and Kentucky -- where he has yet to win. "We have all these great machines that simulate on-track activity at the shop but until you take it to the race track and put it to use you have no idea if it's really paying off," he said. "So we're looking to validate quite a few things and hopefully we get sunshine and really true conditions to what we'll see when we come back for the race." The Chicago test is the fourth of five organizational tests for Sprint Cup Series teams this season. The remaining test is scheduled at Homestead Miami Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 18-19.
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
NASCAR addresses racing in the rain at oval tracks
NASCAR Senior VP of Competition, Scott Miller, explains why racing on an oval track while raining could be more complicated than on a road course.
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."
Running order for Bristol Night Race
RELATED: Recap the action so far " Revised race-day schedule With 48 of 500 laps complete at Bristol, here is a look at the running order heading into Sunday's resumption of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the 0.533-mile track. 1- Kyle Busch (26 laps led) 2- Chase Elliott (14 laps led) 3- Ryan Blaney 4- Denny Hamlin (8 laps led) 5- Matt Kenseth 6- Martin Truex Jr . 7- Carl Edwards 8- Jeff Gordon 9- Joey Logano 10- Kyle Larson 11- AJ Allmendinger 12- Brad Keselowski 13- Austin Dillon 14- Kasey Kahne 15- Ryan Newman 16- Kevin Harvick 17- Kurt Busch 18- Paul Menard 19- Chris Buescher 20- Jamie McMurray 21- Aric Almirola 22- Matt DiBenedetto 23- Trevor Bayne 24- Michael McDowell 25- Ricky Stenhouse Jr . 26- Landon Cassill 27- Danica Patrick 28- David Ragan 29- Jimmie Johnson 30- Brian Scott 31- Tony Stewart 32- Greg Biffle 33- Casey Mears 34- Justin Allgaier 35- Clint Bowyer 36- Regan Smith 37- Cole Whitt 38- Reed Sorenson 39- Josh Wise 40- Jeffrey Earnhardt Biggest mover: Larson, +13 Biggest dropper: Johnson, -13
Patrick, Mears and Scott involved in wreck
Following a restart Casey Mears and Danica Patrick get together, collecting Brian Scott at Michigan International Speedway.