- Did you mean:
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.
Southern Speed : The Legend of Darlington
Be sure to tune in Wednesday, August 31st at 9PM ET on NBCSN as the legend of Darlington Raceway is told by the men who lived it.
Brian Scott leads Sprint Cup practice at Daytona
RELATED: Full practice results Brian Scott topped the charts with a speed of 199.349 mph in his No. 44 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford in Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, which also saw speeds for two cars in the top 10 disallowed. The session at Daytona International Speedway was rescheduled for Friday after rain washed out most of Thursday's action, and it represented the only Sprint Cup practice before Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). David Gilliland initially finished fifth in the session, and Josh Wise initially finished ninth. Both cars were too heavy in the rear on the post-practice scales, so their times were disallowed. Wise was scored 40th in the session, Gilliland 41st. During the 45-minute practice Kyle Busch cut a tire in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and made hard contact with the wall. Busch was released from the infield care center and will go to a backup car. Right behind Scott was Austin Dillon in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet at 199.344 mph. Rounding out the top five were Brad Keselowski , Ryan Blaney and David Gilliland . Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. ET on Friday (NBCSN, Live Extra).
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
NBC Sports throws it back at Darlington with Southern 500 coverage
STAMFORD, Conn. -- August 31, 2016 -- NBC Sports gears up for a throwback weekend of racing from Darlington highlighted by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on NBC and the XFINITY Series race Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC. NBC Sports joins Darlington Raceway in celebrating the sights and sounds of the 1975-1984 era with throwback themes integrated into this weekend's coverage. In addition to traditional graphics and historic logos, NASCAR on NBC's on-air team will dress in their best time period apparel. Throughout the weekend, NASCAR on NBC's pre-race set will be flanked by a series of old school cars from the decade. Music and footage from the era will also bring viewers in and out of commercial breaks. Race day coverage kicks off with a revamped version of Blake Shelton's NASCAR on NBC "Bringing Back the Sunshine" Open, full of racing moments spanning the track's incredible history. Legendary NASCAR broadcasters Ken Squier and Ned Jarrett return to the booth, alongside Dale Jarrett, to call a portion of the race. Squier adds his voice to a special pre-race feature on the storied Raceway. Pre-race coverage also includes a special three-car on-track preview of Darlington Raceway . In addition to Jeff Burton in the Toyota Camry on-track car, Kyle Petty will drive his father's famed 1979 No. 43 Championship race car alongside Dale Jarrett in fellow Hall of Famer Benny Parsons' No. 72 car. NBC SPORTS PRESENTS NASCAR SPRINT CUP RACING FROM DARLINGTON SUNDAY AT 6 P.M. ET NBC Sports begins its Sprint Cup coverage from "The Lady in Black" Friday with practice at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, followed by final practice at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. An on-site edition of "NASCAR America" wraps up the day at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Saturday's coverage from Darlington Raceway includes "NASCAR America" at 1 p.m. ET followed by qualifying at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Sunday's race day coverage kicks off on NBCSN with NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET. NBC's coverage begins with "Countdown to Green" at 5:30 p.m. ET followed by race coverage at 6 p.m. ET. "NASCAR Victory Lap" at 11 p.m. ET wraps up the day. Race announcer Rick Allen calls this weekend's action alongside analysts Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton . Pre- and post-race coverage is handled by host Krista Voda, and analysts Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett. Marty Snider, Mike Massaro, Dave Burns and Kelli Stavast report from pit road. Rutledge Wood, fresh off his journey to the Olympic Games in Rio, returns to bring viewers closer to the sights and sounds of the original paved superspeedway. XFINITY SERIES RACING RETURNS TO NBC SATURDAY AT 3:30 P.M. ET NBC Sports XFINITY coverage from "The Track Too Tough To Tame" begins Friday with practice at 12 p.m. ET on NBCSN, followed by final practice at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Race day coverage begins with qualifying on 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN. NBC's XFINITY coverage begins with Countdown to Green at 3 p.m. ET followed by race coverage at 3:30 p.m. ET. NBC SPORTS PRESENTS "SOUTHERN SPEED : THE LEGEND OF DARLINGTON" TONIGHT AT 9 P.M. ET ON NBCSN Leading up to this weekend's live NASCAR action from Darlington Raceway , NBC Sports presents a new one-hour special created to take fans inside the storied history of "The Track Too Tough To Tame." Produced in partnership with NASCAR productions, "Southern Speed : The Legend of Darlington" premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN, following a special 8 p.m. ET presentation of "NASCAR America." This morning's release previewing the special is available here . ARIC ALMIROLA & "THE KING" STAR IN THIS WEEK'S "PHONE A FAN" SOCIAL WEB VIDEO Aric Almirola and Richard Petty star in this week's new NASCAR on NBC "Phone a Fan" web video, where unsuspecting fans receive calls from their favorite NASCAR drivers. In the video released today on the NASCAR on NBC Facebook page and Twitter accounts, Barry from Egg Harbor, N.J., grills Almirola and Petty on when the No. 43 is going to make its way back Victory Lane. Check out the full video here . Ben Kennedy joins Ryan on this week's NASCAR on NBC podcast to discuss his first Camping World Truck Series victory at Bristol Motor Speedway and the outpouring of support he received from some NASCAR luminaries. Available on NASCAR Talk, iTunes, AudioBoom, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher and podcasting apps, the NASCAR on NBC podcast discusses the latest NASCAR news each week with the major players in the sport. UPCOMING NASCAR PROGRAMMING Date Coverage Time (ET) Network Wed., Aug. 31 NASCAR America 8:00 PM NBCSN Southern Speed : The Legend of Darlington 9:00 PM NBCSN Thurs., Sept. 1 NASCAR America 6:00 PM NBCSN NASCAR Whelen Modified Series – Riverhead 7:00 PM NBCSN Fri., Sept. 2 NASCAR XFINITY Series Practice – Darlington 12:00 PM NBCSN NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice – Darlington 1:30 PM NBCSN NASCAR XFINITY Series Final Practice – Darlington 2:30 PM NBCSN NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice – Darlington 3:30 PM NBCSN NASCAR America 5:00 PM NBCSN NASCAR K&N Pro Series West – Douglas County 7:00 PM NBCSN Sat., Sept. 3 NASCAR XFINITY Series Qualifying – Darlington 11:30 AM NBCSN NASCAR America 1:00 PM NBCSN NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying – Darlington 1:30 PM NBCSN NASCAR XFINITY Series Countdown to Green 3:00 PM NBC NASCAR XFINITY Series Racing – Darlington 3:30 PM NBC Sun., Sept. 4 NASCAR America Sunday 5:00 PM NBCSN NASCAR Sprint Cup Countdown to Green 5:30 PM NBCSN NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Racing – Darlington 6:00 PM NBC NASCAR Victory Lap 11:00 PM NBCSN All of NBC Sports Group's NASCAR coverage is available to stream on NBCSports.com and via the NBC Sports app. The NBC Sports app is powered by Playmaker Media, and is available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. NASCARTalk on NBCSports.com brings racing fans up-to-the-minute news, video and information on NASCAR drivers, teams and industry news. For all the latest NASCAR content socially, fans can follow @NASCARonNBC and @NASCARTalkNBC on twitter and like the NASCAR on NBC Facebook page. For more information about NBC Sports Group shows and properties, including press releases, photos, talent and executive bios and headshots, please visit NBCSportsGroupPressBox.com .
NBC Sports, NASCAR Productions present Darlington historical
RELATED: Full Darlington coverage DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 31, 2016) -- Leading up to this weekend's live NASCAR action from Darlington Raceway , NBC Sports presents a new one-hour documentary created to take fans inside the storied history of "The Track Too Tough To Tame." Produced in partnership with NASCAR Productions, "Southern Speed : The Legend of Darlington" premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Multi-platinum recording artist Darius Rucker narrates the special in tribute to his South Carolina roots. Current NASCAR drivers Carl Edwards , Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch are joined by Ken Squier and racing legends Dale Jarrett, Kyle Petty and Jeff Burton , who reflect on how the Southern 500 became a stock car racing tradition. Premiering during a week dedicated to honoring the rich history of NASCAR, the original program will also be available via live stream on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com. A preview of tonight's special is available here . Below are excerpts from "Southern Speed : The Legend of Darlington." Kyle Petty, former driver and NASCAR on NBC analyst: "Bill France was there and Raymond Parks was there. So many Hall of Famers were there for that first race and that speaks volumes to what Darlington was, even in the beginning." Buz McKim, NASCAR Hall of Fame Historian: "Darlington never has been a normal track and it never will be. There is too much folklore, there is too much history and there are too many great spots and low spots. It is totally the track of the unexpected." Dale Jarrett, Hall of Fame driver and NASCAR on NBC analyst: "The idea to go back to Labor Day and run the Southern 500 is something that our sport really needed." Harold Brasington III, grandson of Darlington Raceway founder: "I have to admit I felt pretty special knowing that my granddad built this place. I can remember the first time he drove me up into the infield through that tunnel it was like a portal into another world. I saw these structures coming out of the beds of pickup trucks. The crowd was overwhelming." Tune in to watch the Bojangles' Southern 500 this Sunday, Sept. 4, at 6 p.m. ET on NBC, or listen live on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Fans can also purchase tickets to catch all the on-track action in person by visiting www.nascar.com/tickets .
Michigan rules package adds speed , opportunity
RELATED: Drivers held up in pre-qualifying inspection BROOKLYN, Mich. -- NASCAR officials and Sprint Cup Series drivers will go racing off into the unknown Sunday here at Michigan International Speedway (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), equipped with an adjusted aerodynamic rules package and a lot of questions. Few were answered on Friday, the first day teams rolled onto the 2-mile track with a package featuring a smaller rear spoiler as well as changes to the front splitter. Single-car runs dominated the lone practice session, no different than qualifying, which ended the first day's action. Instances of cars running side-by-side and/or nose to tail weren't rare. They were non-existent. With two practices on tap for Saturday, some brave souls may yet emerge. Speed was the topic of conversation on Friday as teams adapted to the changes. "I am really excited about the fact that not only is it really cool to go 220 mph at the end of the straightaway, but then we have to slow down to 180 mph in the corner," Aric Almirola , driver of the No. 43 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports , said. "For a race car driver, 220 mph is fast and it is fun and honestly not that scary because you have to let off the gas to go in the corner. "What is scary is running 200 mph at the end of the straightaway and 198 at the end of the corner and it really hurts when the right front tire blows out and you hit the wall." The discrepancy in straightaway speed vs. cornering speed is expected to open up passing zones. It creates "opportunity," Almirola said. "You can drive in the corner a little deeper," he said. "You can lift a little sooner. It really opens up the driver's tool box if you will." "It's a nice change of pace," said Brad Keselowski , a Michigan native who is winless in 13 career starts at the speedway. "We are all kind of learning together how that will affect the racing. I don't think anyone will have an answer until they drop the green on Sunday. "That seems to normally be the case here where races are different than practice and qualifying. … It is fun to drive. You enter the corner almost 220 mph and you turn left and the front goes and the back doesn’t always go with it. That is quite a feeling for sure. It is a unique challenge that I think will bring out some of the best racing we have seen in quite some time." NASCAR began tweaking this year's lower downforce aerodynamic package at Kansas, requiring teams to weld rear trailing arms and brackets to limit offset and movement in the rear of the vehicles, decreasing sideforce. Further changes were put into play for this year's non-points Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The number of fans used for cooling purposes, which teams had begun using to move air from underneath the car and create downforce, was decreased and the rear toe alignment was reset in a move to limit sideforce. The fan and trailing arm changes will remain in place but the rear toe alignment was only for the non-points event. The latest moves, for this weekend's race Michigan as well as next month's event at Kentucky Speedway (July 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), consist of the spoiler, deck fin and front splitter changes in addition to those previously announced. RELATED: Tire test to show Kentucky changes, tweaked rules package Two years ago, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars created approximately 3,000 pounds of downforce. Rule changes for '15 reduced that to 2,700 pounds, according to Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR Senior Vice President, Innovation & Racing Development, said Friday. "They're running the '16 rules package at 2,000 (pounds), and the package we're running here in Michigan will be 1,500," Stefanyshyn said of the downforce numbers. "So it's been a journey over three or four years." Those changes have also reduced sideforce by approximately 110 pounds, he said. "Obviously we take the aerodynamic forces off the car, it makes the car a bit more difficult to drive for the drivers, but in taking those aerodynamic devices off, we do clean up the amount of air or turbulence around the cars so the cars should be able to move around each other better and pass. So that's kind of the theory." Combined with a Goodyear tire matched more closely to the lower downforce package, the changes have resulted in closer competition on the track this season. Friday's activities were more about getting acquainted with the new package; how it will impact competition when cars are three- and four-wide, several rows deep, has yet to be answered. "I think it's difficult to visually see the difference, but when you look at the data from the cars, the speed trace is significantly different, the mid‑corner speeds are down a lot, the entry speeds are up a little," Scott Miller, NASCAR's Senior Vice President of Competition, said. "And from some of the driver comments, having to use the brakes pretty hard and maybe even thinking about needing brake cooling and everything at a big track like this is a departure from where we've been before, and we're really hoping that those things actually produce a really, really good race on Sunday."
No. 2 NSCS team penalized after Michigan
NASCAR.com’s Jonathan Merryman brings you up to speed on penalty news for the No. 2 NSCS team of Brad Keselowski and the driver of the No. 23 NCWTS truck of Spencer Gallagher.
Ride along for Harvick's wild ride with Brian Scott at Daytona
Check out Kevin Harvick's in-car camera as nearly half of the field wrecks at Daytona and Brian Scott ends up on the hood of the No. 4.
Scott improves in tandem with RPM chassis program
RELATED: Complete lineup for Martinsville " Sunoco Rookie of the Year race MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- It's a process, said Brian Scott , both for himself and the Richard Petty Motorsports organization. One of five Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates, Scott pilots the No. 44 Ford for RPM. He is 25th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings after five races, and third in the rookie standings, trailing Chase Elliott ( Hendrick Motorsports ) and Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing ). "Right now, our motto is we're stacking pennies," Scott , 28, said Saturday morning at Martinsville Speedway , site of Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "It's a motto that (crew chief) Chris Heroy shared with me. He's like, 'You've just got to keep stacking pennies until you make a dollar.' And that's what we're doing. We're taking small steps in the right direction." Scott and the team arrived at Martinsville this weekend on the heels of a season-best 12th-place finish at Auto Club Speedway . The result was especially pleasing given that it was the first "new" car rolled off the line for the No. 44 team. RPM previously purchased vehicles from Roush Fenway Racing ; last year the organization began building its own bodies; in '16 a new in-house chassis-building program was put into place. "We just didn't start the season that way and we knew that we weren't going to," Scott said. "We got a late start with the deal coming together in December, we have a new crew chief ... and it's just taking some time to get all the parts and pieces and the cars and everything where we want them. "But California was a huge step in the right direction with the people at Richard Petty Motorsports building some of their own chassis and doing a lot more of the stuff, and that was the first new car that we had run." The increased speed on the track is a reflection of that work. But again, it's a process. "Unfortunately, these new cars are extremely valuable possessions right now and we have limited numbers," he said. "It's important for us not to tear them up and to continue to not tear up the old cars when we have to run them because the rotation won't allow ... just give the shop opportunities to create more new cars and to start phasing out our old cars instead of having to fix and work on them." Team co-owner Richard Petty said the results after just five races might be somewhat similar to the 2015 season, but the improvement is there. The seven-time series champion and winner of 200 races said the RPM group is "just a wee bit better than we were last year. "But we're doing a lot of our own stuff and feel like we've got a lot better opportunity of improving over the year than what we did before because most of the time what we started the season with is what we wound up with," Petty said. "Now, we can make our own changes with the body or the chassis or whatever the rules are, so it might not be there, but we're going to have a better chance of our destiny being in our hands from the car standpoint." Scott's teammate Aric Almirola is 13th in points with three finishes of 15th or better. He has three top-10 finishes in 14 career starts on the unique 0.526-mile layout and will start 20th Sunday. Scott will start 26th. He posted two top-10 runs in the Camping World Truck Series at Martinsville, but Sunday's race will be his first in a Sprint Cup entry. "The short track program has been a sticky spot for Richard Petty Motorsports in the past with the exception of Bristol – they've run really well at Bristol and Dover," Scott said. "But the short, flat track program is an area that they needed probably the most improvement out of all their programs. ... I feel like that's an area that bringing Chris (Heroy) in from another company has been helpful; it's just that it takes time to implement new ideas and to get those things in place."