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NASCAR.com's 2016 Daytona 500 predictions
Going into 2016's season opener, members of the NASCAR.com editorial team make predictions for who will head to Victory Lane for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway . Zack Albert Dale Earnhardt Jr .: Restrictor-plate racing is often finicky, but it's hard to go against a proven Daytona-winning driver with a stout car that goes where he points it. Kenny Bruce Dale Earnhardt Jr .: As much as I'd like to see a surprise winner, inside information tells me it's Dale Jr.'s to lose. Holly Cain Denny Hamlin : He is overdue in this race, at a place he races so expertly. Pat DeCola Kyle Busch : 'Rowdy' will start 2016 the way he closed out 2015 -- on top. His dominant showing in the second Can-Am Duel was no fluke, and he'll pick up his second win of Speedweeks on Sunday. RJ Kraft Denny Hamlin : Hard to pick against Dale Jr., but I will. Hamlin has had the speed during Speedweeks, won the Sprint Unlimited and has four straight top-six finishes at Daytona. Hamlin will snap JGR's 23-year drought in the Daytona 500 and give Toyota its first win in the "Great American Race." Maggie MacKenzie Joey Logano : The talk at the track has Dale Jr. and his "Amelia" car winning, but the 2015 Daytona 500 champ shouldn't be forgotten. Logano's been posting top speeds all week as he continues the strong momentum from his dominant '15 season. Brad Norman Joey Logano : "Sliced Bread" becomes the first back-to-back Daytona 500 winner since Sterling Marlin (1994-95), overpowering those Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas and, yes, even race favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr . Jessica Ruffin Dale Earnhardt Jr .: Having won half of the speedway races last season, Junior's always a top pick heading into a plate event. Tack on his Duel win Thursday and his love for his car, and you've got a recipe for Victory Lane. Taylor Starer Kyle Busch : Coming off the high of being the 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion, Kyle Busch is ready to add another accomplishment to his resume: a Daytona 500 win. The Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have all looked strong during Speedweeks, but Busch will be the one who brings Toyota its first "Great American Race" victory. Kathy Sheldon Joey Logano : Amelia's a great car, but the No. 22 almost had something for Dale Jr.'s speedy ride in the Can-Am Duels. Something crazy always happens at Daytona, and the defending winner looks like he can sneak through the trouble spots again. George Winkler Ryan Blaney : Let's pick the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate to pull off the upset for the Wood Brothers. Fellow Fords in the Team Penske camp can give him the push he needs to make like Trevor Bayne and shock the world.
Forever a Daytona 500 champ, Logano hungry for more
RELATED: See all the winners of the 'Great American Race' DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – When Joey Logano captured the 2015 Daytona 500 , he became the 36th driver to win NASCAR's biggest race. It is the Sprint Cup Series' signature event, always has been and likely always will be. Win a Daytona 500 trophy and it's something race fans will talk about for years. Who finished second in last year's race? Was it Kevin Harvick ? Dale Earnhardt Jr .? Tony Stewart or Matt Kenseth ? Few folks probably recall. But the winner? Sure. The 58th running of what broadcaster Ken Squier aptly described as the "Great American Race" is Sunday at Daytona International Speedway (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "It's cool; it sounds good when they introduce you like that," Logano, driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, said Tuesday during Media Day activities. "I have enjoyed it. And I am excited to get our car out of the museum and see our car again." Winning Daytona 500 entries are put on display at DIS for one year. Teams retrieve them prior to the start of the following season. The confetti hasn't been wiped away, and dents and dings are still there. RELATED: Oh, the places Daytona's winning cars go Giving up the car was a minor nuisance, but more than a fair trade for capturing a Daytona 500 title, according to the recipient of last season's Harley J. Earl Trophy. But what’s done is done and the sport moves forward. "What won last year is not going to win this year, whether it is what you do inside the car or the setup of the car," said Logano, a 14-time winner in the series. "It's because the sport is always evolving and getting better. [Winning the 500] is great but it [happened] last year, and we have to keep looking forward." Drivers are creatures of habit, most sticking to daily routines that have been constructed out of necessity. Some have taken it a bit further, mimicking past actions that led up to particular successes, eating the same meals, traveling the same routes to and from the track, or wearing the same clothing. "I don't do any of that," Logano said. "I have tried that stuff before because you will try anything to win a race, but it doesn't work. It is kind of disgusting if you start wearing the same underwear and stuff like that. It gets nasty pretty quick." He also said he doesn't remember what he did before particular wins, including last season's Daytona 500 . "But I wouldn’t do it anyway," he said. "To me, if I am thinking about a … sandwich and not what I am doing on the race track then I believe I'm doing it the wrong way." Ryan Newman won the Daytona 500 in 2008 while also driving for Team Penske . The 17-time race winner, now with Richard Childress Racing , said winning the 500 "changes people's impressions of who you are." "It's like having the ultimate hard card (credential) walking around Daytona," Newman said. "It doesn't change how I do things, what I do or how I think. But I think it changes people's impressions of me in a good way, which is what you want." That his father, Greg, was in the spotter's stand for his victory, he said, "made it ultra-sweet." This Sunday, Logano will attempt to become just the 12th driver to win multiple Daytona 500 titles, and join a list that consists of: seven-time winner Richard Petty; four-time winner Cale Yarborough; three-time winners Bobby Allison, Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon ; two-time winners Bill Elliott , Sterling Marlin , Michael Waltrip , Matt Kenseth , Jimmie Johnson ; and Dale Earnhardt Jr . RELATED: See all the drivers with multiple wins Winning a Daytona 500 doesn't necessarily make going after a second one any easier or less stressful. "Race car drivers sort of live in the moment," said Waltrip, who won the Daytona 500 in 2001 and '03. "That type of thing (multiple wins) … is for later in life. You get to be 40 years old and you haven't won one yet and you start thinking about winning a Daytona 500 . Then it becomes more of a topic in your brain and the fact that you’re going to have to deal with not having one, possibly. "Joey's more worried about winning another one and the championship. This is just a race he knows he can win and that's exactly the way he's approaching it, in my opinion. Sure, he'd love to have another Daytona 500 trophy, but it's because that’s this (next) race. I'm pretty sure he believes he's going to have many, many more chances to win this race again.” Logano placed 12th in last Sunday's single-car qualifying. His official starting position won't be determined until after Thursday's Can-Am Duel qualifying races (first duel starts at 7 p.m. ET, FS1). A year ago, he started fifth in the Daytona 500 and finished trailing no one. RELATED: Full lineups for the Duels "It is such a big race to be a part of," he said. "Winning it is incredible. It is a hard feeling to explain. … Even a year later, I still can't put it into words. "I was just screaming on the radio and that is probably still the best way to explain it now."
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Bobby Isaac takes different path to NASCAR Hall
RELATED: See the rings, jackets for the Class of 2016 Of the five newest members inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the career of the late Bobby Isaac was perhaps the most unusual. Isaac was inducted Saturday, along with fellow drivers Terry Labonte , Jerry Cook, Curtis Turner and track owner Bruton Smith. Isaac, who died in 1977 after suffering a heart attack, won the NASCAR premier series championship in 1970, driving for team owner Nord Krauskopf and with the help of noted crew chief Harry Hyde. It was a perfect combination of talent and ingenuity -- the team won 31 races during a three-year span from 1968-70. Isaac wound up with 37 victories in a career that spanned just 15 years at the top level. He won 49 poles, a mark that today remains 10th best for the series. WATCH THE SPEECHES: Isaac's family " Jerry Cook " Curtis Turner's daughter " Bruton Smith " Labonte's speech According to reports, he also abruptly quit racing for a time when, in the middle of an event, he heard a voice tell him to get out of the car. It's an often-told story, particularly when NASCAR's top series prepares to head to Talladega Superspeedway , site of Isaac's early departure. "Well, obviously I wasn't there with him in the car when that happened," Patsy Isaac, who was married to the driver at the time, said Saturday following his induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "But I will tell you that as soon as he got out of the car and was able to get to a telephone, because we didn't have cell phones then, he called me and he repeated to me exactly what happened to him in the car. "And he said, a voice told him that he needed to get out of the car, and so he radioed to (owner) Bud Moore. He said, 'find somebody to fill in the car. I've got to get out.'" The race was the Talladega 500, the 20th stop of the '73 season and the second of two annual races at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Isaac was three years removed from his championship, and had been hired to drive owner Moore's No. 15 Ford. He had finished second to Richard Petty in that year's Daytona 500 , and placed in the top 10 in five other races. The race seemed cursed from the outset -- fellow Catawba County native Larry Smith was killed when his Mercury struck the wall barely 15 laps into the event. With the race nearly halfway complete, Isaac pulled into the pits during a caution period and unexpectedly climbed out of the car. Coo Coo Marlin , father of two-time Daytona 500 winner Sterling Marlin , relieved Isaac and eventually finished 13th. Dick Brooks won the race. It was the only premier series victory of Brooks’ career. "I don't know what that experience was," Patsy Isaac said of her husband's incident. "I don't know if he felt it, it was an intuition or if it was actually a verbal voice. I don't know that, but I know that it impacted him enough that he was not going to stay in the race car." What she does know, though, is what she told Isaac when he called. "I said, 'come home.' That was fine with me," she said. "He had always said that it was not because someone had gotten killed earlier in the race, and that person was from Catawba County, and he knew them. That's all I can tell you is what he told me." Isaac attempted to resume his racing career the following year although he made just 19 premier series starts during the next three seasons. Eventually, he turned his attention to the local short tracks where he had begun his racing career. On August 13, 1977, he was competing in a Late Model Sportsman event at Hickory Speedway when he pulled into the pits, climbed from his car and collapsed. Transported to a local hospital, Isaac, 45, died the following morning.
FOX Sports reveals special Daytona programming
FS1 wraps its first evening of Daytona coverage with a special programming block on Friday, Feb. 12 , opening day at Daytona Speedweeks, offering race fans a trio of NASCAR specials, capped one week later by the third installment of the groundbreaking, crowd-sourced documentary 100,000 CAMERAS: DAYTONA 500 ( Saturday, Feb. 27 at 6:30 PM ET). Following FS1's live coverage of the first glimpse of cars on the track at Daytona International Speedway during NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES PRACTICE (beginning at 5:00 PM ET on Feb. 12), the network’s Daytona specials, produced by NASCAR Productions, include: UNTOLD STORIES: DAYTONA The one-hour UNTOLD STORIES: DAYTONA offers a fresh perspective and details on several pivotal stories in the history of NASCAR at Daytona International Speedway , including: the 1994 Daytona 500 and Sterling Marlin going to Victory Lane for the first time in 17 years; racing icon Mario Andretti and the obstacles he overcame to win the 1967 Daytona 500 ; the infamous "Aero Wars" that pitted Ford against Chrysler in 1969-1971; the legend of Smokey Yunick, the colorful mechanic, car owner and innovator from Daytona; and Tiny Lund's story at the 1963 Daytona 500 , when he went from outsider to hero, 500 champion and Medal of Valor recipient. UNTOLD STORIES: DAYTONA premieres Friday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 PM ET on FS1 following the network’s live coverage of SPRINT UNLIMITED final practice. NASCAR RACE CLASSIC: 1993 DAYTONA 500 NASCAR RACE CLASSIC: 1993 DAYTONA 500, hosted by Dale Earnhardt Jr ., airs on FS1 on Friday, Feb. 12 at 8:30 PM ET, featuring a 30-minute, cut-down version of the 1993 edition of the "Great American Race" and supplemented with interesting "pop-up trivia" facts regarding the race and pop culture at that time. The legendary 1993 race marked FOX NASCAR analyst Jeff Gordon 's first DAYTONA 500. Dale Jarrett held off Dale Earnhardt Sr. for the win while his father, Ned Jarrett, called the victory from the television broadcast booth. BEYOND THE WHEEL: SHORT FILM SERIES SPECIAL BEYOND THE WHEEL, a 90-minute special comprised of four short documentaries, offers an inside look at some of the sport's most interesting traditions and fascinating historical characters. Airing at 9:00 PM ET, the films focus on the stories of Robbie Allison, son of former NASCAR driver Davey Allison, short track legend Dick Trickle, the iconic trophy girls and their legacy, and the reunion of journalist Tom Wolfe and Junior Johnson on the 50th anniversary of Wolfe’s landmark Esquire article. NASCAR RACE HUB SPECIAL NASCAR RACE HUB SPECIAL: DAYTONA RISING highlights the new features and innovations of the revitalized Daytona International Speedway while also detailing the track’s rich history with NASCAR. Premiering on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 5:00 PM ET, the special gives fans an inside look at the Daytona Rising project through interviews with Lesa France Kennedy, track president Joie Chitwood III and the architect behind the mega-structure set to host its first race of the NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES season on Feb. 13. 100,000 CAMERAS: DAYTONA 500 100,000 CAMERAS: DAYTONA 500 premieres on FS1 on Saturday, Feb. 27 (6:30 PM ET) following the network’s live coverage of the NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES race from Atlanta Motor Speedway . This 30-minute special, the franchise’s third, weaves together fan and driver-generated video to tell the story of the 2016 DAYTONA 500, the first “Great American Race” held at Daytona Rising, from every conceivable angle, regardless of location. The crowd-sourced documentary captures the ‘life in a day of NASCAR’ and how the sport connects people and communities at the track and around the world. Fans across the world are invited to share their DAYTONA 500 story by using cameras and mobile devices to capture the race, as well as the hours preceding and following it, whether from Daytona’s stadium, on a road trip to the track, while tailgating or watching from home or a neighborhood bar. Using the hashtags #100KCams and #NASCAR, fans simply upload videos to their social media accounts (Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Facebook or YouTube) during or immediately following the race. The high-energy special also features additional and specialty camera angles and content not seen in the live FOX broadcast of the DAYTONA 500 ( Sunday, Feb. 21 ), as well as driver and team radio scanner sound. Fans shooting video using a cell phone are encouraged to shoot horizontally for best results. For more tips and information on how to take and submit video, please visit www.foxsports.com/100KCams . FS1 and NASCAR Productions premiered the first two editions of the cutting-edge 100,000 CAMERAS to critical acclaim following the 2014 NASCAR SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE and the May 2015 race at Talladega Superspeedway . FOX Sports kicks off the 2016 NASCAR season by offering nearly 100 hours of multi-network, multi-platform coverage from Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway , culminating with live coverage of the DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, Feb. 21 live on FOX with pre-race coverage on FOX NASCAR SUNDAY (12:00 PM ET).
How does a doll fit into Darlington's history?
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- NASCAR competitors have driven with good luck charms for probably as long the sanctioning body has been in existence. A rabbit's foot here, a four-leaf clover there, lucky shoes for some, specific pre-race rituals for others. The lucky penny that rode with Dale Earnhardt to his lone victory in the Daytona 500 in 1998 can still be found glued to the dash of the familiar black No. 3 Chevrolet. After winning back-to-back Daytona 500 titles in 1994-95, former driver Sterling Marlin refused to vary from his pre-race routine leading up to the season-opening event. Marlin stayed in the same hotel, in the same room, wore the same T-shirt under his uniform and dined on the same pre-race meal -- a bologna sandwich and soft drink. More of an early marketing stunt than an attempt to reverse his fortunes on the race track, former series champion Tim Flock raced with a monkey named Jocko Flocko riding shotgun for several races in 1953. Which brings us to this weekend's Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (Sunday, 7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), and the Stock Car Racing Museum located on the grounds of the historic track. Among the several cars on display inside the museum is the race-winning entry from the very first Southern 500 held in 1950. Johnny Mantz, an open-wheel racer who made just 12 NASCAR starts between '50-'56, piloted the black No. 98 Plymouth. Burlington, North Carolina, businessman Hubert Westmoreland was the car's owner. Riding along with Mantz in the car that Labor Day was a child's doll that belonged to the daughter of Alvin Hawkins, a race promoter and flagman. According to reports, the team wanted to remove the doll before the start of the race -- how it got in there in the first place isn't known -- but Lottie Westmoreland, Hubert's wife, convinced them to leave it in the car for good luck. Mantz, in just his third NASCAR start, won by nine laps in a 75-car field that included future Hall of Famers Fireball Roberts, Lee Petty, Cotton Owens and Flock. The doll was taken out and placed in storage following the race, where it stayed forgotten for several years. When track officials donated the car to the museum in 1965, the story of the doll resurfaced; it was located and returned to its rightful place inside the car where it has remained all these years. An arm is missing and the shoes have disappeared as well. Time has taken its toll, understandable given her age. Sixty-five years after Darlington Raceway ushered in a new era in NASCAR and Johnny Mantz roared to a surprising victory, a child's toy is a silent reminder of yesterday.
Austin Dillon gets new No. 3 crew chief at RCR
Gil Martin moves to R&D role, 'Slugger' Labbe takes over team Austin Dillon is getting a new crew chief in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Richard Childress Racing announced Monday. Richard "Slugger" Labbe will guide the No. 3 team, starting at Sonoma in the June 28 Toyota-Save Mart 350 . Labbe is a veteran crew chief with 433 Cup starts under his belt, including wins at the 2003 Daytona 500 and 2011 Brickyard. He guided Kenny Irwin Jr. to a rookie of the year title in 1998. He also has worked with drivers Michael Waltrip , Dale Jarrett, Sterling Marlin and Terry Labonte . He was Paul Menard 's full-time chief from 2010 to 2014. Dillon, a former NASCAR XFINITY Series champion and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, is 23rd in the Cup Series drivers points standings after Michigan. His best finish this season is 10th at Bristol. Martin will move into a leadership role within the RCR R&D Department, taking over Labbe's responsibilities. Martin has 16 wins in 472 NSCS starts, including a 2003 Brickyard 400 victory, and has finished in the top 10 in year-end championship points seven times. Martin also has eight wins to his credit in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
#TBT: Dale Jr. wins first Daytona race since dad's death
2001 Pepsi 400 was also first race that NBC televised Note: NBC Sports Network is reairing this race on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET as part of its NASCAR Classics series. The 2001 season was far from an easy year for the NASCAR world. The sport was shaken to its core by a crash on the closing lap at Daytona International Speedway during the Daytona 500 that led to the passing of NASCAR Hall of Famer and seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt. The races in the weeks after were filled with emotion as Dale Earnhardt, Inc. driver Steve Park won the week after the Daytona 500 at Rockingham. Two weeks later, Kevin Harvick , in just his third career Cup start, scored his first career win in the re-numbered No. 29 car for Richard Childress Racing . Harvick had been tapped after the Daytona crash to take over the car, which had been Earnhardt's No. 3. Many wondered what would happen when the sport returned to Daytona that summer for the Pepsi 400 as an emotional scene was sure to unfold. The 2001 Pepsi 400 also marked NBC's initial foray into NASCAR race coverage as it was the first race the network televised as part of a six-year pact with the sport. An interesting coincidence is that this year's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona will be NBC's first premier series race under its new TV contract that kicks in this season. The booth for that first race featured play-by-play man Allen Bestwick with analysts Wally Dallenbach and Benny Parsons. Britney Spears gave the command to start the race. Here is the intro NBC used for races in 2001 featuring the song "Fuel" by Metallica. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/center&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; At the time, Dale Earnhardt Jr . was 26 years old and in his second full-time season in the sport's top series. He came to Daytona that summer on a 39-race winless streak. After experiencing the loss of his father, his 2001 season was very much up-and-down as you might imagine. He came into Daytona the sentimental and emotional favorite. The race had plenty of emotion in the air as Sterling Marlin led the field to the green flag. Starting 13th, it took Earnhardt 26 laps to get his No. 8 Chevrolet to the front and from there it was his show for most of the night. Dale Jr. led 116 circuits in the 160-lap race en route to his third career premier series win and his first at Daytona. The win was anything but certain though, as Junior had to hold off DEI teammate Michael Waltrip (who held off Junior to win the 2001 Daytona 500 ), Elliott Sadler and Ward Burton to win by 0.123 seconds. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/center&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; When the checkered flag dropped, the crowd at Daytona roared with approval as Dale Jr. took the victory under the lights. There were tears and jubilation among the crew members and one heck of a burnout, not to mention a big embrace with Chocolate Myers, the fuel man with RCR on his dad's team. The celebration spilled over to the infield with Dale Jr. and Waltrip, who never got to truly celebrate the Daytona 500 win that year, embracing. In Victory Lane, an emotionally drained Dale Jr. told NBC's Bill Weber, "Man, I just don't know what to say. I am worn out. I got to thank my buddy Tony (Eury Jr.), my crew chief for hanging in there with me. All my friends, all the guys on the crew. "I had a great car. It was all car, 100 percent. I was just holding on." On his father he said, "he was with me tonight. I don't know how I did it. He was there and Michael helped me. I guess we're even now." He also predicted that he would be "crying sooner or later." "I dedicate this win to him. There ain't nobody else I could dedicate this win to that it would mean more to me." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/center&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; Waltrip said of his role reversal with Dale Jr. from the last Daytona race, "I just wanted Dale Jr. to win so bad and I wanted to be a part of it. …I was committed to Dale Jr. just like he was to me in February." The victory would be the first of three Junior recorded that season as he later added victories at Dover and Talladega in the fall. NBC returns to NASCAR premier series coverage after a nearly nine-year absence, with Sunday night's Coke Zero 400 (7:45 p.m. ET). Rick Allen will handle the play-by-play duties alongside analysts Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte.
Get caught up before Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX) MORE: NASCAR.com's picks for Charlotte " See all 43 cars for Charlotte What: 56th Annual Coca-Cola 600 Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway , Concord, N.C. When: Sunday, May 23, 2015 TV/Radio: FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) Distance: 400 laps (600 miles) Green Flag: 6:18.30 p.m. ET Pit Road Speed: 45 mph Caution Car Speed: 55 mph Competition Caution : Lap 25 On The Front Row " Complete lineup for Sunday's race 1. Matt Kenseth , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota (194.252 mph) 2. Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 Ford (192.836 mph) Failed to Qualify Jeb Burton , BK Racing No. 26 Toyota; Mike Bliss , Go FAS Racing No. 32 Ford; Travis Kvapil , Hillman SmithMotorsports No. 39 Chevrolet; Jeff Green , TMG No. 30 Chevrolet; Brendan Gaughan , Premium Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet Fastest In Practice First Practice: Carl Edwards , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota (192.273 mph) " Full practice results Second Practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (192.644 mph) " Full practice results Third Practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (188.653 mph) " Full practice results Four Score? Matt Kenseth will start from the pole for the 15th time in his career when the Coca-Cola 600 gets under way. On three occasions, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has managed to also win the race – at Bristol in 2005 and '15 as well as Kansas in '13. "Back when I started, we worked hard on qualifying but we worked way harder on the race (setup) because even if we started 20th, we knew if we had a really good car we could drive up to the front and after a couple of pit stops we'd be in the top few," Kenseth said. "That's not necessarily the case today. You can start in the middle and you can be stuck in the middle all day sometimes. It's hard to make up ground." SHOP: Kenseth gear No. 450 for Biffle, McMurray Roush Fenway Racing 's Greg Biffle and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver Jamie McMurray will be making their 450th career starts in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series in the Coca-Cola 600 . Biffle's first start came April 28, 2002 at Auto Club Speedway . He finished 13th. McMurray's first start came later that same year, on October 6 at Talladega Superspeedway . Driving in a relief role for the injured Sterling Marlin , McMurray finished 26th. Front Row Joe(y) Team Penske driver Joey Logano qualified second for the Coca-Cola 600 , his seventh front-row start in 12 races this year. Since the 2014 season and the move to group qualifying, Logano has earned 15 top-two starts. SHOP: Logano gear Shorten the 600? "If they take that away or shorten it, it doesn't have the same challenge because that extra 100 miles is really hard. It puts extra wear and tear on your parts, your pieces, and your driver. It makes you change your strategy. And … it's something unique to our sport. … I like the challenge of that extra 100 miles once a year. I wouldn't want to do it twice a year." – former championship winning crew chief Ray Evernham Third Cup Start for Elliott Defending XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott will be making his third Sprint Cup Series start this weekend, qualifying the Hendrick Motorsports No. 25 Chevrolet 28th in the 43-car field. Elliott, the son of 1988 Sprint Cup champ and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Bill Elliott , finished 38th in his Sprint Cup debut earlier this year at Martinsville and 16th at Richmond. Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Charlotte based on past 20 races: Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (111.6) Kyle Busch , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (106.7) Kasey Kahne , Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet (100.8) GALLERY: Check out the Memorial Day weekend patriotic paint schemes Chevy Stumble? For the first time this season, no Chevrolet drivers qualified in the top five. Points leader Kevin Harvick , in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet, led the GM charge and will start eighth. Lap Leaders Jim Paschal holds the record for most laps led by the winner in the Coca-Cola 600 , leading 335 of 400 en route to his victory at Charlotte in 1967 (it was then called the World 600). Race winner Jimmie Johnson led 334 of 400 in '04. The driver leading the most laps in the 600 and NOT winning the race is Junior Johnson, who led 289 in the '63 event but finished second to Fred Lorenzen after suffering a flat tire with fewer than five laps remaining. Defending Coca-Cola 600 Champion Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet Former Charlotte Winners In Field Jimmie Johnson (7); Jeff Gordon (5); Kasey Kahne (4); Kevin Harvick (3); Matt Kenseth , Jamie McMurray (2); Casey Mears , Tony Stewart , Brad Keselowski , Clint Bowyer , Kurt Busch (1). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Drivers honoring legends at Darlington
RELATED: See all the paint schemes for Darlington Darlington Raceway will host the Bojangles' Southern 500 this weekend. Numerous teams are participating in the throwback theme at the South Carolina track and paying homage to some of NASCAR's most famous cars -- and drivers. Here's how some of the cars looked originally, with footage of the vehicles driving around Darlington. Brad Keselowski Brad Keselowski 's scheme is paying homage to Bobby Allison's car in the 1983 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Allison's car in action Austin Dillon Austin Dillon is keeping it in the family and honoring grandfather Richard Childress. The paint scheme of the No. 3 Chevrolet is a tribute to Childress' car during the 1979 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Childress' car in action Denny Hamlin Denny Hamlin 's No. 11 JGR Toyota mirrors the car of NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough's look from 1973. " Watch old footage of Yarborough's car in action Ricky Stenhouse Jr . Ricky Stenhouse Jr . is honoring three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson and paying tribute to his car from the 1968 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Pearson's car in action Chase Elliott The No. 25 of Chase Elliott is one of the many cars getting a vintage makeover. Elliott's Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet resembles the paint scheme of his father Bill Elliott 's car from 1974. " Watch old footage Elliott's car in action Kyle Larson Kyle Larson 's No. 42 Chevrolet is going to replicate Kyle Petty's Mello Yello look. " Watch old footage of Petty's car in action Clint Bowyer As Clint Bowyer looks for a strong performance at Darlington in hopes to maintain his spot on the Chase Grid, his car will be rocking a pretty awesome paint scheme honoring the late Buddy Baker. Bowyer's Toyota is similar to Baker's No. 15 Ford from the 1974 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Baker's car in action More videos • Ward Burton's iconic No. 22 car comes back to life this weekend at Darlington as his son, Jeb, will be sporting an almost identical paint scheme. " Watch the old footage of Ward Burton's car in action • Two-time Darlington winner, Sterling Marlin , is being honored at "The Lady in Black" by Landon Cassill . Cassill's No. 40 Chevrolet will mirror Marlin's paint scheme on his own No. 40. " Watch the old footage of Sterling Marlin's with a Coors Light paint scheme he me • Dale Earnhardt Jr . is contributing to the throwback weekend by paying homage to Cale Yarborough's No. 15 car. " Watch the old footage of Yarborough's car in action • The No. 43 of Aric Almirola Almirola's is in honor of Richard Petty's 1972 Plymouth Roadrunner, the first time The King's car featured sponsor STP with the Petty Blue and Day-Glo Red on the quarter panels. " Watch old footage of Petty's iconic car • Kasey Kahne 's No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is paying respect to one of the NASCAR greats, Geoff Bodine. " See the clip of Bodine's car in action • The throwback inspiration for the paint of Trevor Bayne 's No. 6 Ford comes from Mark Martin 's own No.6. Martin is a two-time Darlington winner. " Watch Martin's memorable Ford in action • Sam Hornish Jr . is, too, honoring Mark Martin in his No. 9 Winn Dixie Ford. " Watch more footage of Martin's car in action • The No. 41 Chevrolet of Kurt Busch has a familiar paint scheme as it is a replica of Jack Sprague's No. 60. " Watch the No. 60 in action