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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
RPM announces competition restructure
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (August 31, 2016) -- Richard Petty Motorsports today announced competition changes to improve their on-track performance. Effectively immediately, Philippe Lopez and Scott McDougall will temporarily oversee all competition duties and roles previously held by Sammy Johns both at the track and at the race shop. The change comes as part of an immediate, aggressive strategy by RPM leadership to improve speed, performance and future growth of RPM. The goal is to improve on-track results from 2016 and to capitalize on the progress made in previous seasons. "The past several years, we have made significant investments in our organization with the goal of winning races and to compete at a high level on a weekly basis," said Brian Moffitt, Chief Executive Officer, Richard Petty Motorsports . "We now have direction over our own chassis and bodies and work closely with Ford Performance on technology and engineering. With these investments, unfortunately, we have not seen the on-track results that we expected this season. "As we look ahead to 2017, we are taking steps forward to improve our on-track product to better serve our partners and fans. This means analyzing every part of our organization and making adjustments where needed. Sammy Johns has been a big part of our organization; he helped us succeed in many different ways and helped us become a winning race team. We wish him nothing but the best going forward." RPM has seen success on the track in recent seasons. Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Ford Fusion had their most consistent season together and highest average finish to date in 2015. They were also a race winning team in 2014 and competed in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Off the track, the organization has continued to grow relationships with primary partners Smithfield Foods, Albertsons Companies, Shore Lodge, U.S. Air Force, Twisted Tea, STP, Fresh From Florida and Jacob Companies. "Our partners have seen success and believe in our mission," continued Moffitt. "They share in our commitment to see Aric and Brian competing at a higher level each weekend." Lopez and McDougall will begin their duties at the track in Darlington this weekend.
Story lines heading into Rolex 24 at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida -- When the green flag falls on the 54th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona Saturday, history will be made on multiple fronts. The twice-around-the-clock sports car endurance race is the first major event to take place in the newly reimagined Daytona International Speedway , where a $400 million DAYTONA Rising makeover debuts this weekend. Multiple escalator-fed "injectors" plus a bevy of elevators mean that even if your seats are on the very top row of the stadium, you won't have to take more than 20 stair-steps to get to your seat. "We can't wait to show off what we've done," said Joie Chitwood III, track president. "I think our fans will be amazed." FORD GT MAKES HISTORIC RETURN: As the legend goes, Henry Ford II was so angry at Enzo Ferrari, who had rudely rebuffed Ford's attempt to buy his company, that Ford swore on the spot that he’d build a car that would trounce Ferrari at its favorite playground, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. And, with the help of the legendary Carroll Shelby, that's what happened. That was 50 years ago, and Ford is returning to Le Mans this year with a brand-new Ford GT, based on the street car that debuted at the Detroit auto show in 2015. That road to Le Mans starts this weekend at Daytona, as two Ford GTs, fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing , will make their first-ever laps in competition. And that competition is tough, with Ferrari, BMW, Porsche and the Chevrolet Corvette hoping to spoil the party. The Ford GT drivers are top-tier, with Joey Hand, Dirk Muller and Sebastien Bourdais in one car, Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Stefan Mucke in other. Hand and Bourdais are both previous overall winners of the Rolex 24. STAR CAR: While Chip Ganassi Racing has its hands full with the new GT Le Mans Ford GT effort, the overall winning team from the 2015 race returns in the Prototype class with a two-car team to defend its crown. Typically one Ganassi car has sports car veterans, while the other, often referred to as the "star car," has stars from other series who drive for Ganassi teams in IndyCar and NASCAR. And that’s no different this year. Indianapolis 500 winners and IndyCar Series champions Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan share the Ford EcoBoost-Riley they drove to victory a year ago along with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson . The six-time Rolex 24 winning team also will field a Ford-Riley Daytona Prototype for Alex Wurz, Brendon Hartley, Andy Priaulx and Lance Stroll, sports car pros in their own right. WHERE'S SCOTT PRUETT ? It has been years since veteran Scott Pruett has driven anything but Ganassi cars, and most recently Fords, but for 2016's Rolex 24, he’s part of a Chevrolet-powered Prototype team. Pruett teams up with Action Express Racing in a bid for an unprecedented sixth overall win, and he definitely chose a contending team, with defending and two-time WeatherTech Championship Prototype champions Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP, as well as 2013 Rolex 24 GT winner Felix Albuquerque. For the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the next round of the WeatherTech Championship on March 19, Pruett will move to Action Express' No. 31 Corvette DP, co-driving with Dane Cameron and Eric Curran. ALL-NEW GT DAYTONA FIELD: The Rolex 24 sanctioning body, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), changed the rules during the off-season in the largest of the four classes of cars, GT Daytona, making the production car-based class subject to global GT3 technical specifications. The cars will race in the entire IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, which kicks off at Daytona. GT3-specification cars are raced all over the world, which makes manufacturers more eager to build the cars, given the massive market. That means an all-new look for most of the 22 cars in the GT Daytona class this year, plus some new competitors. The field goes, for instance, from zero Lamborghinis in 2015 to five this year. Four teams will field a total of five Lamborghini Huracán GT3s, led by defending GTD class champions Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler, who move over from Ferrari. Porsche also has a five-car entry among four teams. Andy Pilgrim, a three-time Rolex 24 class winner, makes his return to the WeatherTech Championship with Patrick Long, Timothy Pappas and Nicky Catsburg in the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche entry. Three teams have chosen Audi for the debut of the R8 LMS GT3. Stevenson Motorsports will field a pair of Audis, and Magnus Racing moves to Audi with Andy Lally , John Potter and Rene Rast from its 2012 Rolex 24 class-winning lineup in the No. 44 car. Flying Lizard Motorsports also will field an Audi R8. Turner Motorsport debuts a pair of brand-new BMW M6 GT3s. Scuderia Corsa, the 2015 GTD team champion, sticks with Ferrari but has a new lineup with Christina Nielsen, Alessandro Balzan, Jeff Segal and Robert Renauer driving the No. 63 Ferrari 458 GT3. They are joined by Spirit of Race, with the No. 51 Hublot/Global Jet entry. Riley Motorsports returns with the Dodge Viper that captured GTD honors in the 2015 Rolex 24 with two entries. And Aston Martin returns with two cars, one from TRG-AMR, one from Aston Martin Racing. The 54th Rolex 24 At Daytona is the start of the 2016 IMSA season. U.S. television coverage begins on FS1 at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 30. International coverage is available throughout the race on IMSA.tv and the IMSA mobile app.
Attrition claims early favorites in Rolex 24
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 31, 2016) -- While the 54th Rolex 24 At Daytona is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in the race's history, attrition has claimed a handful of favorites as the race hits the halfway mark and the second segment of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. At the conclusion of the 12th hour, multiple cars remain on the lead lap in all four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes, but it's the cars that are no longer in contention that are the story. Among those: the early favorites in both the Prototype and GT Daytona (GTD) classes, and last year's overall race winner. The action started in the eighth hour when Tony Kanaan, driving the defending race-winning No. 02 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost/Riley DP, went behind the wall with a brake issue while running second. One hour later, the class of the Prototype field retired when Ozz Negri pulled the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Tire Kingdom Honda Ligier JS P2 off the track with an engine failure while leading. That left the battle for the Prototype lead and the race for the maximum five Patrón Endurance Cup points awarded at the 12-hour mark to none other than the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP of Scott Pruett -- who enters the race tied with Hurley Haywood with five overall Rolex 24 wins -- and the No. 2 Tequila Patrón Honda Ligier JS P2 of Pipo Derani. Derani passed Pruett with five minutes remaining in the segment to earn the maximum five points. Through two segments the No. 2 Tequila Patrón Honda Ligier JS P2 and the No. 31 Whelen Corvette DP -- which finished the second segment in third -- lead the Prototype class with seven points in the four-race competition that makes up the four longest endurance races in the WeatherTech Championship. The Michael Shank Racing entry also has seven points, but is out of the race and will score the minimum two points in the two remaining segments. A major shakeup also occurred in the GTD class in the 10th hour. The No. 16 Pertamina/Monster Energy Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Justin Marks and the No. 48 Castrol/Universal Industrial Services Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Bryce Miller collided in Turn 1 while battling for the lead, knocking both out of contention. The No. 48 Lamborghini is tied for the Patrón Endurance Cup lead at seven points with the race-leading No. 23 Team Seattle/Heart of Racing Porsche 911 GT3R. The No. 52 Professional Security Consultants ORECA FLM09 of PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports has led at the end of both segments to lead in PC with 10 points, while the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR team leads the way with nine points in GTLM. The No. 912 Porsche is second with seven points, along with the No. 68 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE which leads at halfway. The Patrón Endurance Cup will continue with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen and Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta.
Larson, McMurray to drive in Rolex 24 At Daytona
Chip Ganassi Racing's Sprint Cup drivers will help pilot one entry Chip Ganassi Racing announced Thursday that Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the season-opening event in the 2015 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teammates for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will be making return trips to the 24-hour endurance event, which will take place Jan. 24-25 at Daytona International Speedway . They will team with a pair of Indianapolis 500 winners in Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan for a four-driver effort in the No. 02 Ford-powered Riley Daytona Prototype chassis. McMurray will mark his seventh appearance in the road-racing classic; his best Rolex 24 finish was a runner-up performance in 2011. Larson, the 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the Sprint Cup Series, will be making his second Rolex 24 start, one year after finishing 15th overall in the No. 02 with Dixon, Kanaan and Marino Franchitti. Ganassi will also field the No. 01 entry for primary driver Scott Pruett , who has scored all five of his Rolex 24 triumphs with the venerable team owner. Pruett will team with road racer Joey Hand, IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball and developmental driver Sage Karam. "I love this race because it is one of the few times that we are able to bring all of our drivers and partners together in one race," Ganassi said. "NASCAR, INDYCAR and IMSA drivers and partners are all represented in this unique endurance event. We have had the good fortune of having success in this event, which is the result of a lot of hard work by the crew, talent behind the wheel and at some level, a little luck. But I think the best thing about the Rolex 24 is that it is the first event of another season. I can't wait." The 53rd running of the Rolex 24 signals not only the kickoff event for the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, but also offers a prelude to Daytona's Speedweeks MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Rolex 24 At Daytona impossible to predict
Strong field includes Sprint Cup Series drivers and actor Patrick Dempsey DAYTONA BEACH -- When the checkered flag falls on the 2015 Rolex 24 At Daytona at 2:10 p.m. Sunday afternoon, there's only one thing we now know for sure: The car that's the first under the flag will have earned the victory. "This is a strong field," said Scott Atherton, IMSA president and chief operating officer. "A very strong field." That may be an understatement. One year ago, the 2014 Rolex 24 was the first race for the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, which consisted of the combined GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. Cars, personnel and schedules were combined, and no one really knew what would happen the first time the new TUDOR Championship took to the track. What happened was a race that ran at an absolutely frantic pace for the full 24 hours. Long gone are the days where teams could cruise at 90 percent, saving their equipment for the last few hours. Now, it's flat out, all day and all night. Bringing home the overall victory last year was the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP driven by Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais. That car was followed by three more Corvette DPs and a Nissan ORECA P2 car in fifth. For 2015, there are four Corvette DPs in the field, including the No. 5 Action Express entry, all sporting the new Stingray styling in the front and rear. For the stars to align and have all four Corvettes up front again is a long shot – even through the top three cars were all on the same lap at the finish, 695 laps after the start – the Prototype field is very strong this year. There are 16 Prototypes, including a pair of brand-new Honda HPD ARX cars racing under the Tequila Patrón ESM banner, as well as a Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 that Michael Shank Racing is bringing to the party. There's another new Ligier fielded by Krohn Racing, but it has Judd power. Mazda is back for its second year with a pair of diesel-powered Prototypes built and raced by SpeedSource that are showing a lot more speed than last year. And you can never count out the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates twins, both powered by Ford EcoBoost engines in Riley chassis. With a driver lineup that includes Scott Pruett , Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Kyle Larson , Jamie McMurray , Joey Hand, Charlie Kimball and Sage Karam, the two Ganassi cars have to be counted among the favorites. And, of course, there's those other three Corvette DPs – the No. 31 Whelen Corvette DP, a sister car to the Action Express No. 5; the VisitFlorida.com No. 90 and the always-formidable Konica Minolta No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing, which has brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor teaming with veteran Max Angelelli. Looking for a dark horse? The DeltaWing Racing Cars Claro/TracFone was fast in practice, as was the Starworks Dinan-powered Riley, which has an all-star driver lineup that includes Ryan Hunter-Reay and Rubens Barrichello. Of the four classes racing in the Rolex 24, the aforementioned Prototypes are the fastest, but not far behind are the open-cockpit Prototype Challenge cars, which use ORECA FLM09 chassis and Chevrolet engines. It's tough to pick a favorite from the eight entries, but expect the Starworks No. 8, the CORE Autosport No. 54, the RSR Racing No. 11 and the BAR1 Motorsport No. 16 to contend during the 24 hours. The GT Le Mans (GTLM) class is invariably among the most competitive and the highest profile, as the production-based cars are all backed by the manufacturers, and bragging rights are a strong motivation. Corvette Racing has its usual two-car entry and is always a threat to win, especially at a horsepower track like Daytona. There are three Porsche 911 RSR entries, two backed by Porsche North America, and one by Falken Tire, coming off an end-of-the-season victory at the 2014 Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta. The Bobby Rahal-led BMW Team RLL has a pair of BMW Z4 GTEs, and there are two Ferrari F458 Italias, one from AF Corse and one from Risi Competizione. But don't forget the lone Gulf-sponsored Aston Martin Vantage V8, which has a world-class roster of drivers. At 19, the largest of the four classes is GT Daytona (GTD), which – like GTLM, are familiar production-based cars – but don't have quite the power, or the price tag, of the GTLM entries. GTD is impossible to handicap, though the fact that there are nine Porsche 911 GT Americas in the field gives them the numerical advantage. There are three Ferrari 458 Italias, two Aston-Martin V12 Vantages, two Dodge Viper SRTs, a pair of Audi R8 LMS entries, and a lone BMW Z4, but that car is fielded by he respected Turner Motorsport, so don't write it off. If you have to play favorites, the two Alex Job-prepared Porsches (Nos. 22 and 23) should be there in the end, because few have mastered race strategy as well as Job. The No. 63 Ferrari of Scuderia Corsa seems to love the longer races, as does the Magnus Racing No. 44 Porsche. If you are looking for star power, that would be the No. 58 Dempsey/Wright Motorsports Brumos Porsche, with "Grey's Anatomy" actor Patrick Dempsey leading the four-driver team. Bottom line: Don't expect a runaway winner in any of the four classes – competition is simply too strong. Weather could be a factor, if the forecast for some damp weather for the weekend comes true – some cars, and some drivers, seem to thrive on wet pavement, and a slick surface tends to cripple the highest-horsepower entries, leveling the playing field and enhancing the importance of driver finesse. So keep your money in your pocket this weekend – the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona is simply too close to call. The Rolex 24 at Daytona will be broadcast from 2-4 p.m. Saturday on FOX; 4-8 p.m. on FOX Sports 2; 8-10 p.m. on FOX Sports 1; 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. on IMSA.com , and on Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on FOX Sports 1. All times are Eastern. For more information on where to watch or listen to the 2015 Rolex 24, log onto IMSA.com .
McMurray, Montoya to drive in Rolex 24 for Ganassi
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates organization's Christmas card sent out last month was a keeper. Lining up for a group photo were drivers Scott Pruett , Memo Rojas, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Juan Montoya, Jamie McMurray -- and team owner Chip Ganassi. Grand-Am Road Racing got one of those cards. On Tuesday, Grand-Am - and its fans -- got a belated Christmas gift from Ganassi's group, in the form of a star-studded lineup for the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona (Jan. 29-30), one encompassing two cars, eight drivers, three racing disciplines and a return appearance by McMurray, the reigning Daytona 500 champion. Pruett and Rojas, the reigning Rolex Series Daytona Prototype co-champions, will be joined in the No. 01 Target/Telmex BMW/Riley prototype by Grand-Am veteran Joey Hand and Graham Rahal, the latter recently announced as a new Ganassi driver in the IndyCar Series. In the No. 02 Telmex/Target BMW/Riley, last year's Daytona team returns intact: McMurray, two-time Rolex 24 champion Montoya and two IndyCar vets -- two-time series titlist Dixon and the series' reigning champ, Franchitti. Collectively, those two teams have won 12 series championships, eight Rolex 24s, one Daytona 500 and four Indianapolis 500s. Happy Holidays indeed, belated or not. Ganassi clearly is pulling out all the stops to get a fast start on the 2011 season -- and a fast follow-up to a memorable 2010. Last season arguably was the greatest by any race car owner in any series: Pruett and Rojas dominated the Grand-Am Rolex Series season en route to winning the DP championship for a second time; McMurray won the marquee event in the Sprint Cup Series, plus the Brickyard 400; and Franchitti won the Indy 500 for a second time and the IndyCar series title for a third time. "The Rolex 24 at Daytona is always exciting for our team, especially because it involves so many of our drivers from all different series," Ganassi said. "There are so many elements out of the drivers' hands that need to come together, in order to have a shot at winning this event. That's what I love about it. You have to not only be good, but you also have to have a little bit of luck on your side to succeed in a race that lasts 24 hours." Ganassi's No. 02 DP team dominated the race's first eight hours last year before mechanical problems forced an early retirement of the car. Pruett and Rojas went on to finish second, teamed with two other drivers. McMurray was involved in a recent test session at Daytona International Speedway; both NASCAR stock cars and Grand-Am sports cars turned laps on the new DIS pavement for the first time. "They did a really nice job with the paving project, so I expect the racing to be really good for the 24-hour race," McMurray said. "I'm certain that we'll bring good cars for the race, as Chip and his Grand-Am guys do each and every year. It's great to have the opportunity to once again drive for Chip in one of the most prestigious motorsports events out there." Testing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona -- the Roar Before the Rolex 24 -- is Friday-Sunday at Daytona. The 49th running of the endurance classic is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 29.
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."