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Logano leads final practice, No. 14 team practices switch
Practice 2: Full results Joey Logano launched to the fastest speed in final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway . Logano, winner of the series' most recent race here last October, posted a best lap of 196.290 mph in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford. He was just .013 seconds ahead of Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Ryan Blaney , second-fastest at 196.238 mph in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford. Fellow rookie Chase Elliott was third-fastest at 196.185 mph in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet. Danica Patrick (195.094 mph) and rookie Brian Scott completed the top five in the final 55-minute prep for Sunday's GEICO 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Few drivers participated in large packs, with most spending time concentrating on single-car runs to prepare for Saturday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying (12:30 p.m. ET, FOX). But with inclement weather in Saturday's forecast, several drivers attempted to better their position in the practice order should qualifying be washed out. Among those was Blaney, one of five drivers attempting to qualify for the four starting berths reserved for open, non-chartered teams. He received aerodynamic help from Logano, whose Penske team shares an alliance with the Wood Brothers, a fellow Ford operation. Ty Dillon , on standby for Tony Stewart in his second race back from a back injury, was 16th-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet. The team spent the majority of the session practicing in the garage for a quick driver change, something the team plans to do midstream in Sunday's 500-miler as Stewart eases his way back from his injuries. Defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr . was seventh-fastest at 193.584 mph around the 2.66-mile track. Practice 1: Full results Two-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Jamie McMurray topped opening practice. The wheelman of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet posted a fastest lap of 199.737 mph. Rookie Chase Elliott was second-fastest during the 55-minute session, propelling the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet around the 2.66-mile track at 199.729 mph. Stewart-Haas Racing 's Kurt Busch rounded out the top three with his No. 41 coming in at 199.409 mph. Busch's teammate Danica Patrick was next in her No. 10 Chevrolet (199.384 mph) while the No. 6 of Trevor Bayne earned the fifth-quickest lap (199.317 mph). The back-to-back race winner of 2016, Carl Edwards was 23rd (196.552 mph) in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Tony Stewart and Ty Dillon took turns wheeling the No. 14 throughout practice and earned 29th (195.884 mph). Dillon will fill in as a relief driver for "Smoke" during qualifying and the 500-mile event. Six-time Talladega winner, and defending race champ, Dale Earnhardt Jr . finished practice 32nd (195.150 mph).
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."
NSCS GarageCam walks the 'garage' Blvd in 'Dega
Strolling the infield Boulevard at Talladega is the thing to do, but Matthew Dillner and GarageCam stroll the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage to find your favorite cars and stars.
NASCAR to look into lug nut rules
RELATED: Hamlin explains decision for Drivers Council to help with fine RICHMOND, Va. -- NASCAR's Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller took questions from the media on Friday at Richmond International Raceway regarding the sport's regulation of tire lug nuts. With the opening day of activity at the track called off early because of rain, Miller came to the media center to discuss what's becoming a hot topic in the garage. Miller said NASCAR was open to exploring new pit rules as to how the teams are using -- or not using -- the correct number of lug nuts on tires, a downsizing all done with the goal of turning faster pit stops to gain a competitive advantage on the track. "The rules have been pretty clear (the past two seasons) and we've really never had, until this point. too much trouble," Miller said. "Obviously there are strong rules in place and pretty severe penalties associated with the rules in place but since the drivers are now questioning it, it's time for us to kind of re-evaluate our position and work with the community in looking at possible different ways to enforce the pit road rules. "The teams are obviously pushing harder than they ever have in this area. It's time for us to take a look at it. We'll do that as an industry. The open dialogue is very good right now between NASCAR and the teams. We'll work with them and work internally to move forward." In order to speed up pit stops, teams are increasingly using fewer lug nuts to secure tires -- creating a dangerous potential problem according to many in NASCAR. Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart was fined $35,000 on Thursday under Section 12 of the rule book, specifically member conduct guidelines. According to Section 12.8.1, actions that could result in a $10,000-$50,000 fine include disparaging the sport and/or NASCAR's leadership. RELATED: Stewart gives opinion on lug nut regulation Miller said he understood the recent concerns and that the series was looking for ways to revisit reinforcement of the rule. He reminded that there is a serious penalty in place for purposely mishandling the installation of tires. "It says a loss of wheels due to improper installation is a mandatory minimum four-race suspension of the crew chief, the tire changer and tire carrier of the lost wheel," Miller said. "So that's the penalty that would be imposed should a wheel actually come off. "We do have the rules and they have served us well. But obviously moving forward, the teams have become very aggressive with it. It's been brought up as a concern and when any of our competitors raise a concern it's time for us to take a little bit harder look at it." While speaking to an Associated Press meeting this week, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France defended the sport's regulation of the situation and reminded of its extreme emphasis on safety. "Nobody has led, done more and achieved more in safety than we have," France said. "It is a never-ending assignment and we accept that. "We do take offense that anything we do is somehow leading toward an unsafe environment. Safety ... that's the most important thing we have to achieve."
Matt Tifft joins Red Horse Racing
Red Horse Racing announced Wednesday that Matt Tifft would join the two-car team for select NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. The 19-year-old is set to get behind the wheel for races at Kansas Speedway , Dover International Speedway , Charlotte Motor Speedway and possibly more. Veteran crew chief Scott Zipadelli will join him. "I'm looking forward to working with (teammate) Timothy (Peters) and (crew chief) Scott Zipadelli on our No. 11 Toyota Tundra team," Tifft said in a team press release. "We're going to some tracks I really enjoy and I'm confident we're going to have some speed and we'll go and try to get some really good runs." The announcement came after the organization revealed it was parting ways with Ben Kennedy . The year is off to a busy start for Tifft, who is in the middle of a 13-race deal with Joe Gibbs Racing in the XFINITY Series. His first start of 2016 comes at this weekend's ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway , where he will wheel the No. 18 Toyota.
Staff picks for GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
RELATED: See all the cars lined up for Sunday's race Denny Hamlin : If Joe Gibbs Racing can get organized in the same way it did at Daytona in February, the No. 11 could be the winning ticket at Talladega. -- Zack Albert Dale Earnhardt Jr .: Series' best plate racer has had three runner-up finishes this season. He's due. -- Kenny Bruce Jimmie Johnson : This will mark the 10th Talladega race since Johnson last won here and, quite simply, it's time. While his teammates will grab the lion's share of the attention, "Six-Time" will ultimately hold the winner's trophy -- his third. -- Holly Cain Joey Logano : Entering the weekend, I'd already pegged Joey Logano as the favorite -- then he went out and topped final practice. Seemingly due for a win and with a pair of restrictor-plate victories in his back pocket from last year, what more are you looking for? -- Pat DeCola Ryan Blaney : His best Cup finish came in this race last year and Penske, with whom Wood Brothers is affiliated, has taken two of the last three 'Dega races. -- RJ Kraft Dale Earnhardt Jr .: I'm jumping on the Junior bandwagon. He's always the one to beat at the 2.66-mile track and he'll make it difficult for the rest of the field en route to his seventh Cup win here. -- Maggie MacKenzie Brad Keselowski : The 2012 premier series champion spoils the recent Hendrick-JGR show of power, thanks to his own racing ingenuity and plenty of fast Fords with which to partner. -- Brad Norman Brad Keselowski : The Team Penske driver earned his first Cup win in 2009 at Talladega and has won twice more since. Couple that with he and teammate Joey Logano 's history of working closely together on-track -- a crucial element to plate racing -- and 'Dega Victory Lane could be calling Keselowski's name. -- Jessica Ruffin Matt Kenseth : All the bad luck that the No. 20 team has had this year has masked impressive speed . Talladega is about both luck and speed . With the former in hand as shown by his fourth-place qualifying effort, Kenseth is due for a more auspicious turn of his fortune. -- Kathy Sheldon Denny Hamlin : Hamlin saw Victory Lane two years ago at Talladega and with his 2016 Daytona 500 win under his belt, the JGR driver seems ready to dominate another superspeedway this season. -- Taylor Starer Chase Elliott : His dad won here twice and the man who drove the No. 24 before him won here six times. Talladega has been known to produce dramatic moments, so let's root for another one to happen Sunday. -- George Winkler Make your picks in Streak to the Finish !
Sprint Cup qualifying order for Talladega
# Car Driver Team 1 7 Regan Smith Golden Corral Chevrolet 2 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger/Hungry Jack/Crisco Chevrolet 3 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 4 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet 5 83 Matt DiBenedetto Dustless Blasting Toyota 6 46 Michael Annett Pilot Flying J Chevrolet 7 30 * Josh Wise Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 8 32 Bobby Labonte Rimrock Devlin Ford 9 23 David Ragan Schluter Systems Toyota 10 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Nationwide Chevrolet 11 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 12 43 Aric Almirola Fresh From Florida Ford 13 14 Ty Dillon (i) Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet 14 15 Clint Bowyer AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet 15 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet 16 34 Chris Buescher # Love's Travel Stops/CSX-Play it Safe Ford 17 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Fifth Third Bank Ford 18 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 19 19 Carl Edwards ARRIS Toyota 20 78 Martin Truex Jr Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota 21 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 22 44 Brian Scott # Twisted Tea Ford 23 38 Landon Cassill FR8Auctions Ford 24 3 Austin Dillon Dow - Energy & Water/Intellifresh Chevrolet 25 98 * Cole Whitt RticCoolers.com Toyota 26 27 Paul Menard Moen/Menards Chevrolet 27 18 Kyle Busch Skittles Marvel Toyota 28 35 * David Gilliland Shaw's Southern Belle Seafood Ford 29 21 * Ryan Blaney # Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 30 55 * Michael Waltrip Peak & BlueDEF Toyota 31 16 Greg Biffle Ford EcoBoost Ford 32 95 Michael McDowell Thrivent Financial Chevrolet 33 42 Kyle Larson Target Chevrolet 34 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 35 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 36 4 Kevin Harvick Busch Fishing Chevrolet 37 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 38 10 Danica Patrick Aspen Dental Chevrolet 39 41 Kurt Busch Monster Energy Chevrolet 40 24 Chase Elliott # NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 41 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet * Required to qualify on time, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Poole wins fans as he loses in Talladega review
RELATED: Full results " Standings post-Talladega " See the finish in photos TALLADEGA, Ala. – Brennan Poole won Saturday's XFINITY Series race at Talladega Superspeedway . And then he didn't. After a chaotic finish was ruled final under caution, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender was initially named the Sparks Energy 300 victor before Elliott Sadler was told to bring his No. 1 Chevrolet to Victory Lane, several minutes after the checkered flag flew. Before NASCAR came to that conclusion, however, the pair of drivers each patiently sat on opposite sides of the start/finish line at the 2.66-mile Alabama track, about to swap emotions. "As I was waiting there, one, I was thinking hopefully the caution didn't come out as early as I think it came out and I'm hoping we race to the line but at the same time I'm thinking 'I hope NASCAR gets it right,' " Poole said in his post-race press conference. "I want the guy who deserves to win the race be the winner and go by the rules. And according to the rules, Elliott was the winner. I can't get mad about it. It just is what it is." The finish was certainly among NASCAR's wildest -- both with the wreck that saw Joey Logano get airborne to spark the caution and with the period of time it took to make the final call. The minutes must have felt like an eternity to Poole and Sadler as the running order was sorted out. RELATED: See the finish from the point of view of the No. 48 NASCAR is certain it got it right. "Took us a little time up in the tower. We feel 100 percent that we got it exactly right," said Wayne Auton, XFINITY Series managing director. "We used film, we used eyes. ... We took our time in the tower. "I think all of you saw the 1 and the 48 come and sit at the start/finish line, which was pretty cool, to just have both drivers sit there really calm. ... We used every bit of film that we had; slow down, speed up -- we arrived at the finish we did and that's by using every piece of technology that we had to our availability." RELATED: Auton explains video review process Poole was lauded on social media and by the press for how he handled the situation, being told that he'd picked up his first career NASCAR win at any national level -- on a day which his sponsor, DC Solar, brought droves of people to the track -- only to have it swept out from under him. He had to settle for a third-place finish. It was still a career-best showing for the promising 25-year-old, but moreso it was his post-race demeanor that people will come away remembering. "I was just glad that they were able to take the time to get it right. Happy that the rightful winner has taken the trophy home tonight. I wish it was us, but we were close," said Poole, who now sits eighth in the points standings. "So, Elliott's the winner and it is what it is. It's racing. "Any time you come up a little bit short, it kind of sucks. We've been fast for several weeks this year, we just haven't been able to close a whole race out and that's been tough. "It's been an exciting last couple weeks and certainly this afternoon is one of the most exciting times in my racing career." MORE: See the wild finish
Get up to speed on everything before Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega.
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 ).