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Stats advance: Analyzing the Bank of America 500
A statistical look ahead to the second race of the Contender Round RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Below is a look at the 12 Contenders and beyond, at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina going into the Bank of America 500 on Saturday night October 11. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on ABC, with the race start scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. CHARLOTTE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS 1 - Joey Logano (No. 22 Pennzoil Platinum Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 107.7 2014 Rundown • Five wins, 14 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 11.8 • Led 20 races for 916 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Three top fives, six top 10s • Average finish of 10.5 in 11 races • Average Running Position of 14.1, sixth- best • Driver Rating of 88.0, ninth-best 2 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 Doublemint Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 91.1 2014 Rundown • One win, seven top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 16.7 • Led 14 races for 412 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Nine top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 15.6 in 21 races • Average Running Position of 10.0, second- best • Driver Rating of 106.3, second-best • 460 Fastest Laps Run, third-most • 5,291 Laps in the Top 15 (77.4%), second- most • Series-high 973 Quality Passes 3 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 82.8 2014 Rundown • Two wins, seven top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 14.5 • Led 10 races for 134 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Six top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 11.4 in 19 races • Average Running Position of 14.6, seventh-best • Driver Rating of 89.8, seventh-best • 1,592 Green Flag Passes, second-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.106 mph, 11th-fastest • 4,280 Laps in the Top 15 (62.6%), sixth-most • 806 Quality Passes, fifth-most 4 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.6 2014 Rundown • Two top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 13.8 • Led 5 races for 30 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Four top fives, 10 top 10s; nine poles • Average finish of 19.0 in 27 races • Average Running Position of 17.5, 18th-best • Driver Rating of 78.1, 19th-best • 1,379 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most 5 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.7 2014 Rundown • One win, six top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 15.2 • Led 12 races for 195 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Four top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 13.7 in 18 races • Average Running Position of 12.7, fourth-best • Driver Rating of 92.6, fifth-best • 235 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.222 mph, seventh-fastest • 4,586 Laps in the Top 15 (71.2%), fourth-most • 749 Quality Passes, seventh-most 6 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.0 2014 Rundown • Two wins, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s; eight poles • Average finish of 13.9 • Led 22 races for 1,653 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, four top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 16.3 in 27 races • Average Running Position of 17.2, 16th-best • Driver Rating of 81.5, 15th-best • 1,534 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most • 3,923 Laps in the Top 15 (57.4%), eighth-most • 699 Quality Passes, eighth-most 7 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 93.1 2014 Rundown • 11 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 13.8 • Led 17 races for 467 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, nine top fives, 16 top 10s • Average finish of 13.5 in 30 races • Average Running Position of 13.5, fifth-best • Driver Rating of 97.1, fourth-best • 376 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most • 1,448 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.413 mph, fourth-fastest • 4,649 Laps in the Top 15 (68.0%), third-most • 842 Quality Passes, third-most 8 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.7 2014 Rundown • Four wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 10.1 • Led 21 races for 666 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Five wins, 16 top fives, 23 top 10s; nine poles • Average finish of 15.8 in 43 races • Average Running Position of 14.7, eighth-best • Driver Rating of 89.7, eighth-best • 243 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most • 4,228 Laps in the Top 15 (61.8%), seventh-most • 777 Quality Passes, sixth-most 9 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Pepsi Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.7 2014 Rundown • One win, three top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 16.7 • Led 11 races for 206 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Four wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 11.5 in 21 races • Average Running Position of 11.6, third-best • Driver Rating of 101.7, third-best • 665 Fastest Laps Run, second-most • 1,549 Green Flag Passes, third-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.430 mph, third-fastest • 4,564 Laps in the Top 15 (66.7%), fifth-most • 833 Quality Passes, fourth-most 10 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 104.1 2014 Rundown • Five wins, 13 top fives, 16 top 10s; five poles • Average finish of 13.2 • Led 24 races for 1,498 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One win, two top fives, three top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 15.7 in 10 races • Average Running Position of 15.2, 10th-best • Driver Rating of 85.4, 10th-best • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.125 mph, 10th-fastest 11 - Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 96.9 2014 Rundown • Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s • Average finish of 12.0 • Led 13 races for 265 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Five top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 19.4 in 29 races • Average Running Position of 19.0, 22nd-best • Driver Rating of 80.9, 16th-best • 183 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most • 1,435 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most • 623 Quality Passes, 11th-most 12 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 98.8 2014 Rundown • Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 14.3 • Led 15 races for 1,035 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Seven wins, 13 top fives, 17 top 10s; four poles • Average finish of 11.2 in 26 races • Series-best Average Running Position of 7.5 • Series-best Driver Rating of 112.7 • Series-high 683 Fastest Laps Run • Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 177.132 mph • Series-high 5,988 Laps in the Top 15 (87.5%) • 968 Quality Passes, second-most 13 - AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Scott Products Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.5 2014 Rundown • One win, two top fives, four top 10s • Average finish of 20.4 • Led 5 races for 68 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One top five, two top 10s • Average finish of 22.7 in 13 races • Average Running Position of 23.2, 31st-best • Driver Rating of 65.8, 31st-best 14 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Bondo Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 79.4 2014 Rundown • Three top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 15.8 • Led 6 races for 109 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Five top fives, eight top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 17.2 in 23 races • Average Running Position of 15.0, ninth-best • Driver Rating of 89.9, sixth-best • 303 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most • 1,393 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.250 mph, sixth-fastest • 3,891 Laps in the Top 15 (56.9%), ninth-most • 690 Quality Passes, ninth-most 15 - Kurt Busch (No. 41 State Water Heaters Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 84.8 2014 Rundown • One win, six top fives, eight top 10s • Average finish of 20.1 • Led 11 races for 181 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One win, six top fives, seven top 10s • Average finish of 19.7 in 28 races • Average Running Position of 17.4, 17th-best • Driver Rating of 83.0, 13th-best • 204 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most • 3,502 Laps in the Top 15 (51.2%), 10th-most 16 - Aric Almirola (No. 43 Smithfield / Waffle House Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 73.3 2014 Rundown • One win, two top fives, seven top 10s • Average finish of 21.0 • Led 5 races for 23 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One pole • Average finish of 19.0 in five races • Average Running Position of 16.6, 14th-best • Driver Rating of 76.5, 21st-best The 12 Contenders at Charlotte Motor Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Joey Logano 11 0 0 3 6 0 10.5 88.0 2 Kyle Busch 21 1 0 9 13 5 15.6 106.3 3 Carl Edwards 19 0 0 6 12 1 11.4 89.8 4 Ryan Newman 27 9 0 4 10 5 19.0 78.1 5 Denny Hamlin 18 1 0 4 10 1 13.7 92.6 6 Kevin Harvick 27 0 2 4 10 1 16.3 81.5 7 Matt Kenseth 30 0 2 9 16 5 13.5 97.1 8 Jeff Gordon 43 9 5 16 23 10 15.8 89.7 9 Kasey Kahne 21 0 4 9 12 1 11.5 101.7 10 Brad Keselowski 10 1 1 2 3 1 15.7 85.4 11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 29 1 0 5 11 4 19.4 80.9 12 Jimmie Johnson 26 4 7 13 17 4 11.2 112.7 History • Construction began on Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) in 1959. • The track’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on June 19, 1960 – won by Joe Lee Johnson. • The track was repaved midseason in 1994. • The track name changed from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1999. It changed back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 2010 season. • The track was re-paved again before the 2006 season. Notebook • There have been 111 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races at Charlotte Motor Speedway , two races per year since the track opened in 1960. In 1961, there were two 100-mile qualifying points races held the week before the May race. The first six fall races at Charlotte were 400-mile events (1960-65). • 525 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points paying race at Charlotte Motor Speedway ; 374 in more than one. • NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Charlotte with 64. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 43 starts; followed by Joe Nemechek with 36. • Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway (World 600) in 1960 with a speed of 133.904 mph. • 42 drivers have Coors Light poles at Charlotte, led by David Pearson with 14. Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon lead all active drivers in poles at CMS with nine. • 12 drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Charlotte. David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Charlotte with 11; from the fall of 1973 through 1978. • Youngest Charlotte pole winner: Jeff Gordon (10/10/1993 – 22 years, 2 months, 6 days). • Oldest Charlotte pole winner: Bobby Allison (10/11/1987 – 49 years, 10 months, 8 days). Charlotte Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 31 of 36 (10-11-14) Track Size: 1.5-miles Banking/Turns 1 & 2: 24 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4: 24 degrees Banking/Frontstretch: 5 degrees Banking/Backstretch: 5 degrees Frontstretch Length: 1,980 feet Backstretch Length: 1,500 feet Race Length: 334 laps / 500 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Charlotte Jimmie Johnson ..........................112.7 Kyle Busch ..................................106.3 Kasey Kahne ...............................101.7 Matt Kenseth .................................97.1 Denny Hamlin................................92.6 Greg Biffle .....................................89.9 Carl Edwards.................................89.8 Jeff Gordon ...................................89.7 Joey Logano..................................88.0 Brad Keselowski............................85.4 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (19 total) among active drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Qualifying/Race Data 2013 pole winner: Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet 194.308 mph, 27.791 secs. 10-10-13 2013 race winner: Brad Keselowski , Ford 158.308 mph, (03:09:53), 10-12-13 Track qualifying record: Denny Hamlin , Toyota 195.624 mph, 27.604 secs. 05-24-13 Track race (500 miles) record: Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 160.306 mph, (03:07:31), 10-11-99 STATISTICAL ADVANCE • 46 different drivers have won at Charlotte Motor Speedway , led by Jimmie Johnson with seven wins. • Nine drivers have posted consecutive wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway , including three consecutive by Fred Lorenzen (fall 1964 and both 1965) and four straight by Jimmie Johnson (both in 2004 and 2005). • A season sweep at Charlotte has occurred eight times, including each season from 2004-2007. • Youngest Charlotte winner: Jeff Gordon (05/29/1994 – 22 years, 9 months, 25 days). • Oldest Charlotte winner: Cale Yarborough (10/06/1985 – 46 years, 6 months, 9 days). • Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Charlotte in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 18: Jimmie Johnson (seven), Jeff Gordon (five), Darrell Waltrip (two), Ken Schrader (one), Terry Labonte (one), Casey Mears (one) and Kasey Kahne (one). • Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Charlotte; led by Chevrolet with 42 victories; followed by Ford with 29. Toyota has two wins at CMS. • 15 of the 111 (13.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the Coors Light pole; the three most recent were Jimmie Johnson in 2014 (Coca-Cola 600), 2009 (Chase race event) and 2004 (Coca-Cola 600). • The second-place starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (17) than any other starting position at Charlotte Motor Speedway (15.3% winning percentage). • 32 of the 111 (28.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the front row: 15 from the pole and 17 from second-place. • 84 of the 111 (75.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Charlotte have been won from a top-10 starting position. • Nine of the 111 (8.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. • The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Charlotte is 37th, by Jimmie Johnson in the Coca-Cola 600 of 2003. • Richard Petty leads the series in runner-up finishes at Charlotte with nine. Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers with three. • NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison are tied for the series most top-five finishes at Charlotte with 23. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 16. • Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Charlotte with 31. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 23. • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Charlotte with a 7.115. • Joey Logano leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Charlotte with a 10.545. • Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Charlotte without visiting Victory Lane at 36; followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr . with 29. • Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the May 29, 2005 race won by Jimmie Johnson over Bobby Labonte with a MOV of 0.027 second. • There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a Green-White-Checkered finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway , but only once for the Coca-Cola 600 (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): Chase race of 2005 (334/336), Chase race of 2007 (334/337) and the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 (400/402). • Five of the 111 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 won by David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip Racing. Four of the five races shortened were the 600-mile events (1968, 1997, 2003 and 2009). • Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway twice; the fall race of 2002 and the fall race of 2008. • Five active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have made their first career start at Charlotte Motor Speedway : Dale Earnhardt Jr . (5/30/99), Jimmie Johnson (10/7/01), Brian Vickers (10/11/03), Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (5/29/11) and Kyle Larson (10/12/2013). • Four active drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway : Jeff Gordon (10/10/93), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (5/28/00), Ryan Newman (5/27/01) and Aric Almirola (5/27/12). • Four active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Charlotte Motor Speedway : Jeff Gordon (5/29/94), Matt Kenseth (5/28/00), Jamie McMurray (10/13/02) and Casey Mears (5/27/07). • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Charlotte with 1,733 laps led in 26 starts. • Two female drivers have competed at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick . Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date of race Danica Patrick 4 39 5/25/2014 Danica Patrick 35 20 10/12/2013 Danica Patrick 24 29 5/26/2013 Danica Patrick 40 30 5/27/2012 Janet Guthrie 31 35 10/8/1978 Janet Guthrie 27 9 10/9/1977 Janet Guthrie 26 22 10/10/1976 Janet Guthrie 27 15 5/30/1976 NASCAR in North Carolina • There have been 519 NASCAR Sprint Cup races among 28 tracks in North Carolina. Track Name/City/NSCS Charlotte Motor Speedway/Concord/111 North Wilkesboro Speedway/North/93 Rockingham Speedway/Rockingham/78 Hickory Speedway/Hickory/35 Asheville-Weaverville Speedway/Weaverville/34 Occoneechee Speedway/Hillsboro/32 Bowman-Gray Stadium/Winston-Salem/29 Southern States Fairgrounds/Charlotte/17 Charlotte Speedway/Charlotte/12 Concord Speedway/Concord/12 Wilson Speedway/Wilson/12 New Asheville Speedway/Asheville/8 Dog Track Speedway/Moyock/7 Raleigh Speedway/Raleigh/7 Cleveland County Fairgrounds/Shelby/6 Champion Speedway/Fayetteville/4 Greensboro Agriculture Fairgrounds/Greensboro/3 North Carolina State Fairgrounds/Raleigh/3 Tar Heel Speedway/Randleman/3 Forsyth County Fairgrounds/Winston-Salem/2 Harris Speedway/Harris/2 Jacksonville Speedway/Jacksonville/2 Tri-City Speedway/High Point/2 Gastonia Fairgrounds/Gastonia/1 Harnett Speedway/Spring Lake/1 McCormick Field/Asheville/1 Salisbury Super Speedway/Salisbury/1 Star Lite Speedway/Monroe/1 NASCAR in North Carolina • 433 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as North Carolina. • 46 drivers from North Carolina have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series; 29 have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Richard Petty 200 0 0 Dale Earnhardt 76 21 0 Lee Petty 54 0 0 Ned Jarrett 50 0 0 Junior Johnson 50 0 0 Herb Thomas 48 0 0 Buck Baker 46 0 0 Bobby Isaac 37 0 0 Dale Jarrett 32 11 0 Rex White 28 0 0 Jim Paschal 25 0 0 Dale Earnhardt Jr 22 23 0 Benny Parsons 21 0 0 Speedy Thompson 20 0 0 Buddy Baker 19 0 0 Harry Gant 18 21 0 Bob Welborn 9 0 0 Kyle Petty 8 0 0 Morgan Shepherd 4 15 0 Bill Blair 3 0 0 Gwyn Staley 3 0 0 Brian Vickers 3 3 0 Billy Myers 2 0 0 Jimmy Pardue 2 0 0 Richard Brickhouse 1 0 0 Phil Parsons 1 2 0 Leon Sales 1 0 0 Buddy Shuman 1 0 0 Donald Thomas 1 0 0 Jack Ingram 0 31 0 Tommy Houston 0 24 0 Sam Ard 0 22 0 Robert Pressley 0 10 2 Scott Riggs 0 4 5 Ryan Blaney 0 2 3 Austin Dillon 0 2 6 Hank Parker Jr 0 2 0 Johnny Rumley 0 2 0 Dennis Setzer 0 2 18 Ed Berrier 0 1 0 Ty Dillon 0 1 3 Justin Labonte 0 1 0 Stephen Leicht 0 1 0 Timothy Peters 0 0 7 Andy Houston 0 0 3 Ricky Hendrick 0 0 1 Shane Hmiel 0 0 1 MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Gray Gaulding to make Sprint Cup debut at Martinsville
Statesville, N.C. -- Eighteen-year-old NASCAR Next alumnus Gray Gaulding will take the next step in his career by making his debut in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS). Gaulding will drive the No. 30 Feed the Children Chevrolet for The Motorsports Group (TMG) at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 30. "It's exciting bringing a new partner into the series and to be making my NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at a track like Martinsville (Speedway) where we've had a really good history in the past is honestly unfathomable," Gaulding said. "I'm excited to partner with Feed the Children and use NASCAR as a platform to deliver our message and work to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. A lot has happened in a short period of time but I've never been as excited to debut this beautiful Feed the Children car next week at Martinsville Speedway ." "We are pleased to sponsor Gray Gaulding , the youngest NASCAR driver in the Martinsville field and one of the most promising and fierce competitors among the many legendary NASCAR drivers who have made NASCAR one of the most exciting sports in America," said J.C. Watts, Jr., president and CEO of Feed the Children. "He's not only bold in his approach, he's also blazing new trails, and we at Feed the Children strive to do the same. Gray knows firsthand the value of family, especially the NASCAR family who has joined us in our work as we have brought disaster relief to those whose lives and livelihoods have been severely affected by Hurricane Matthew and all the subsequent flooding." "We're grateful to be partnering with Feed the Children in their mission to provide hope and resources for those without life's essentials," said Stephen Lynn, chief executive officer for GGR Enterprises. Along with their debut at Martinsville Speedway , Gaulding and the No. 30 Feed the Children team will also make starts at Phoenix International Raceway on November 13 and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20. Help take action and donate to end hunger by texting FEED30 to 41444.
Leicht sends groundhog flying
An unlucky groundhog finds itself on the backstretch at Pocono Raceway during practice.
Crown Royal Your Name Here Finalist: Stephen Brady
Stephen Brady was nominated after being shot in the line of duty and returning to the police force.
NASCAR, RISE unveil campaign to promote sports equality
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR and the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) today announced a new campaign to promote diversity, inclusion and equality within and outside of sports. A public service announcement (PSA) featuring several NASCAR drivers will encourage fans to take the pledge to end racism at RISEtoWin.org . The PSA features six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson , 2015 Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano , 2014 Coke Zero 400 winner Aric Almirola and NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduates Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr . The PSA will air during NASCAR national series races this weekend on FS1, culminating with Sunday's FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway (1 p.m. ET on FS1). NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France is a founding member of the RISE Board of Directors and has helped steer the growing initiative, which was founded by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. "Discrimination has no place in our society, which is why we have partnered with RISE and Stephen Ross to help put an end to intolerance in sports," said France. "With the help of our talented drivers who support this important message, we want to reinforce our sport’s unwavering commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion." Last fall, NASCAR joined several major sports leagues in partnering with the new alliance of top leagues, associations, media networks and educators. France serves on the RISE board alongside the commissioners of the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, and other leading sports executives. "We believe the ideals and values associated with sports can serve as a unifier for positive change," said Ross. "I want to thank NASCAR for its commitment to RISE and our mission to advance race relations and drive social progress." In the PSA, NASCAR drivers invite sports fans to take the pledge to treat everyone with respect and dignity, and to speak up whenever they know discrimination is happening. "It's important to be part of a PSA that shows athletes taking a stand against discrimination of any kind, and I hope that my participation helps to advocate and influence for an end to discrimination and harassment," said Jimmie Johnson , driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports . In addition to its broadcast across the FOX network, the new PSA is available to view on NASCAR.com and RISEtoWin.org .
Elliott ranked on 50 most marketable athletes list
RELATED: See the full list For the second consecutive year, Chase Elliott was ranked on the world's 50 most marketable athletes list. He is listed in the 50th spot. The list, produced by SportsPro, ranks athletes based on various criteria including value for money, age, home market, charisma, willingness to be marketed and crossover appeal. "He looks set to be the poster boy of stock car racing for years to come," his entry reads. "... He might even eclipse his father's ( Bill Elliott ) achievements." The 20-year-old star's growth in his first full Sprint Cup season in 2016 has been striking as he is 11th on the Chase Grid -- ahead of veterans Jamie McMurray and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr . -- and sixth in standings -- one spot higher than six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson . The rankings were also largely based on the athletes' marketing potential over a three-year span. Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt, Stephen Curry and Cam Newton were also featured on the list .
CMT to celebrate NASCAR with TV series
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Each week millions of NASCAR fans -- a massive television and digital audience -- tune in to watch NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, and today CMT announced an unprecedented six-hour, three-night special event dedicated to the fearless men who took stock car racing out of the backwoods and into the national spotlight with "NASCAR: The Rise of American Speed," premiering Sunday May 8, May 15 and May 22 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. From Stephen David Entertainment, the Emmy Award-winning company behind the miniseries "The Men Who Built America," "Gold Fever" and "The World Wars," the special event is not only a unique look into NASCAR's legendary beginnings, but in the spirit of racing, it is a no-holds-barred account of the sport's early pioneers and ascension to national prominence. The film features archival footage, re-enactments and interviews with NASCAR personalities and experts including Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick , Matt Kenseth , Brad Keselowski , Kyle Larson , Joey Logano , Richard Petty, Tony Stewart and Darrell Waltrip. From bootleggers settling their differences through racing to a singular vision from "Big Bill" France that launched an empire, NASCAR has always been and continues to be a family affair with a long history of "racing royalty" to be shared and passed along. Time and again, fathers, sons, brothers, uncles and nephews would race together -- Ray Parks, Junior Johnson, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and more -- they were family best friends, rivals and heroes. In "NASCAR: The Rise of American Speed," these drivers, mechanics and owners come to life through character-driven scenes that unfold chronologically across the three nights, starting with NASCAR’s founding fathers and concluding with racing’s great modernizers and current superstars of the track. "Our longstanding and unwavering connection with NASCAR and its fans makes CMT the perfect home to bring the high-octane true story of NASCAR to life," said Jayson Dinsmore, executive vice president of development for CMT. "This first-of-its-kind television event will take viewers deep inside the enthralling and thrilling rise of an American premiere sports and relentless obsession." "NASCAR has one of the most exhilarating and inspiring origin stories in all of sports," said Zane Stoddard, NASCAR vice president of entertainment marketing and content development. "Our collaborative relationship with CMT and Stephen's unique style of production will bring it to life in a way our fans haven’t experienced before." It's the story about how a generation of Southern bootleggers and gangsters pursued their version of the American dream and created an industry that defined them. Despite a destitute South, they became wildly rich, while in the process forming the nation's greatest racing league through their persistence, sweat and moonshine. The success of NASCAR surpassed even their wildest dreams and inspired a new generation of Southern icons. But in the race to always go bigger and faster, sometimes there were casualties along the way. "NASCAR: The Rise of American Speed" is a tale of fearless men who didn't just live their lives, they raced them to the finish.
NASCAR, RISE partner with eye on equality
NASCAR has partnered with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), a recently formed alliance of major sports leagues, associations, media networks and educators created to promote diversity and equality through sports. NASCAR Chairman Brian France will help steer the new initiative, established by Miami Dolphins majority owner Stephen Ross, as a founding member of the RISE Board of Directors, serving alongside the commissioners of the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, and other top sports executives. The board will convene for its first meeting today. "I applaud Stephen Ross for launching RISE and am honored to serve on the Board of Directors. Diversity is one of our top priorities at NASCAR and we have made tremendous strides in recent years," said France. The partnership reinforces NASCAR's overall commitment to diversity and inclusion during what's been a strong year for the sport. The national series now feature three driver graduates of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity development program including NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson and pair of NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers -- Daniel Suarez and Darrell Wallace Jr . -- who are in competition for 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. In addition, more than 25 NASCAR Drive for Diversity crew member alums have pitted for national series race teams this season. On Saturday, Mike Russell, jackman for the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing team, could become the first African-American graduate to win a national series title as Chris Buescher tries to clinch the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series championship. "The NASCAR Drive for Diversity program has produced some of our sport’s top drivers and crew members, and the RISE partnership will have a tremendous impact on our continued expansion in the long-term," said France. "Perhaps most importantly, we look forward to working with all of the other major sports leagues and television networks to lead on this important social issue." Ross' vision for RISE focuses on leveraging the power of sport -- and prominent voices across the sports landscape -- to build a "nation of understanding, respect and equality." The non-profit organization seeks to create meaningful dialogue around racial relations and timely issues, as well as educational programming that will help athletes, coaches and executives promote racial sensitivity. LeBron James and Tom Brady are among the top tier athletes pledging support for RISE, and multiple stars appear in a national public service announcement campaign on RISEtoWin.org . "We are pleased to have NASCAR join the unprecedented alliance of professional sports leagues and organizations, media networks, educators and athletes that have joined RISE. Together we will work to harness the unifying power of sport to advance race relations and we are grateful for their partnership and support," said Ross.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. revs up for 2016 with trip to ESPN
BRISTOL, Conn. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . just wanted some sushi. "I'm sorry, Mr. Earnhardt. It's President’s Day and we don’t have a full kitchen staff working today, which means we don’t have any sushi." The bearer of bad news almost prepared for the backlash surely to come with telling NASCAR's most famous face -- to his face -- that he traveled all the way to single-digit Connecticut from balmy Daytona Beach, only to have his pre-arranged meal of choice be off the plate, literally. "Oh, no worries at all," said Earnhardt. "Maybe something healthy? Like a salad or something? With chicken?" It’s easy to look at his last name and point to that as the sole reason why Earnhardt is the NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver 13 years running -- and that doesn't hurt his chances -- but it's that down-to-earth, regular-dude accessibility that fans find so appealing about the 41-year-old. That guy in the Wrangler commercials wearing a T-shirt and jeans, tossing a football around at a cookout? Yeah, that's actually him. So it came as no surprise to see Junior acting like a kid in a candy store on Monday at ESPN HQ promoting the Daytona 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) on the Road to Daytona campaign, making the television and radio rounds (colloquially known as the "car wash") and stopping to take pictures or chat with every ESPN personality or former athlete he brushed shoulders with in the frantic hallways of the sprawling campus. Original sign @espn .... very cool pic.twitter.com/0ZlvA3GKHa — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) February 15, 2016 He even FaceTimed fiancée Amy Reimann to show her how "cool" the No. 88 Nationwide Chevy blue-themed SportsCenter set was and to tell her how much fun he was having -- minutes before a sit-down conversation with anchor Lindsay Czarniak -- like we all would. Dale Earnhardt Jr . FaceTiming with Amy Reimann on the set of "SportsCenter." "It's always fun to come to ESPN to do the car wash. I didn't like it when I first heard about it, because it sounds like a lot of work, but I came up here for the first time (years ago) and it's like ... when they call it a 'campus,' I don't even know if that word does it justice,” said Earnhardt, who will kick off his 17th full-time Sprint Cup Series season on Sunday. "You get to walk around and actually be on all these shows that you see every day and you see the random people walking around the hallways; the ESPN stars just walking the halls and you want to take a picture with them and it’s a lot of fun. "It actually ended up being a really good time that first car wash, so every time they talk about me doing the car wash, man it's something I reach out and grab." Dale Earnhardt Jr . with former NBA player Jalen Rose. "It's cold, weather's not great but we're inside and it's comfortable and it's been fun. They're always doing new things here and everybody's super nice so it's always a great experience." Of course it was a great experience. After last month's Charlotte Media Tour and Tuesday's Daytona Media Day, it's fair to say Earnhardt is a little talked out -- at least when it comes to racing -- and just wants to hit the track. But he's always game to chat about one of his other loves: the Washington Redskins. And chat he did. Between his 10:30 a.m. ET appearance on SportsCenter and his 3:40 p.m. ET taping for the 6 p.m. edition, Earnhardt squeezed in another seven appearances on ESPN programming -- along with filming a few SportsCenter originals, one in which he pretends to be a bus-driving security guard -- ranging from the debate formats of "First Take" and and "His & Hers" to the "Fantasy Football Focus Show" podcast with Matthew Berry and Field Yates. Dale Earnhardt Jr . debated Washington Redskins with Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith on "First Take." (Photo courtesy of ESPN) He was asked about his favorite NFL franchise on nearly all of them, answering questions like "Wait, why aren't you a Carolina Panthers fan?," "What the heck happened with Robert Griffin III?," and "What should they do with quarterback Kirk Cousins -- slap the franchise tag him, sign him to a long-term deal or let him walk?" And he knocked them all out of the park, clearly impressing all of the hosts with his knowledge and insight of another sport, while maintaining his focus and preparation to be among the top competitors in another of America's favorite pastimes. (He thinks the 'Skins and Cousins both need to make concessions and meet in the middle for a long-term contract, by the way). One of the coolest moments of the day came a few minutes before Junior went live with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill on the set of "His & Hers." Smith, a longtime ESPN mainstay (you've likely seen him on "Around the Horn'") told Earnhardt how he met him sometime around 2002 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , when Smith was a fresh-faced 22-year-old reporting for the Boston Globe, and how nice the then-Dale Earnhardt Incorporated driver was to him. Junior remembered. It was just a "sliver of a memory," but when you consider this was during the height of Junior Mania (let's be honest -- it’s still the height of Junior Mania) and the thousands upon thousands of people he's met and shared moments with since, a sliver is still impressive. Dale Earnhardt Jr . on the set of "His & Hers" with hosts Michael Smith and Jemele Hill . "'His & Hers' was good. I hate to play favorites. I was excited about 'His & Hers' because I had seen that show and I like the debate like 'First Take,' and I had done 'First Take' before, and it's good to see Stephen A. (Smith) and those guys, but man, they are so serious," Earnhardt said. "When the cameras are off, it's like 'OK, see ya. Good job.' But 'His & Hers' is a nice, clean debate. It's friendly and their personalities are really good. I like that. There's something about their debate where you can tell it's coming from the heart, instead of 'How can I sound one way or the other?' " So, Earnhardt spent the whole day promoting the Daytona 500 , getting people pumped for the "Great American Race." But does it get his own juices flowing? "It's kind of fun, because there's this ... you get fired up, I guess. More so about the season as a whole. The race is the race. We'll be there. It's coming Sunday whether I like it or not," Earnhardt said. "But when we come up to ESPN and we're doing this kind of stuff, this is the kind of stuff that typically lets you know that the season's getting started. It's finally here. "The season's like Christmas. In a sense that when Christmas gets here, we all say, 'I can't believe Christmas is here! God, I can't believe it's here. It's already here.' And that's the way the season sneaks right up on you. The Daytona 500 is one thing, but that whole 36-race schedule is another monster. You're like, 'Well, we're doing this. It's here. It's starting. It's real. Playtime's over. All that fun we had in January is coming to an end.'" Drivers, start your engines. It's almost Christmas.
Kyle Busch's 2015 NASCAR Champion's Tour
RELATED: Full race results " Miami race recap SHOP: Champion gear Tuesday: Media Day 2 Early Tuesday morning, Busch made appearances on "FOX and Friends" and "Live! With Kelly and Michael." "Rowdy" caught up with Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan and discussed his wild year: injuries, his 2015 championship and 6-month-old son, Brexton. That @mmschocolate Toyota is looking good. Having fun at @foxandfriends . #RowdyNation pic.twitter.com/QNd7d0vgER — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) November 24, 2015 Kyle also made a stop at SiriusXM and is heading to Facebook and ESPN later today. Monday: Media Day 1 After securing his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kyle Busch is making the media rounds to talk about his epic victory and comeback from injuries sustained at Daytona in the XFINITY Series opener. Busch capped off his Monday appearances by taking in the Monday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. Me and my boy@bjanitz18 w the Patriots @espnmondaynight #Champ18ns pic.twitter.com/NA3kamdfMq — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) November 24, 2015 Prior to that, the 30-year-old taped an appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" that aired Monday night on CBS. The Sprint Cup champion and Colbert engaged in a Pinewood Derby race, titled "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Cinnamon Toast Crunch 400." Watch the video to see who won. Busch also taped a promo spot for "The Late Show" disclosing a different type of personal dream. Earlier Monday, Busch joined "The Dan Patrick Show" Monday morning to chat -- from his airplane somewhere "over Washington, D.C." nonetheless -- about the celebration, which started for him about seven hours after the checkered flag fell. "We did all of our photos; that takes quite a long time," Busch said. "I'm glad the race was actually over around 7, 7:30 because we were still taking photos and finally got done about 2 a.m. or so. My team guys were having a good old time. They were lit up a little bit so I joined them for a little while and continued on with them for some more celebration before getting a couple hours of sleep to get on an airplane this morning." Busch's long road to recovery certainly helped him flex his focus muscle -- but he did get a little help from something else in the closing laps of Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 . "The last 60 laps or so, I kept thinking to myself … 'oh, man, this is going to be cool; this is awesome.' But then I was like, 'dude, you've got 60 to go; stop thinking about it.,' " Busch said. "So I just had to start singing a child's song. One of my kid's (Brexton) favorite TV shows, it's a 3-minute little skit … it's called 'Vocabulary' and I was just kind of singing the intro song to that in my head and just trying to make laps." Busch's tour on Monday also included appearances on ESPN's SportsCenter, FS1 RaceHub and NBCSN's NASCAR America. Early Tuesday morning, Busch made appearances on FOX and Friends and Live! With Kelly and Michael. And will be making stops at SiriusXM, Facebook and ESPN. Early Tuesday morning, Busch made appearances on FOX and Friends and Live! With Kelly and Michael. And will be making stops at SiriusXM, Facebook and ESPN.