RELATED: Official release on appeal A three-member appeals panel upheld P4-grade penalties issued to Michael Waltrip Racing 's No. 15 Toyota team Wednesday, severely hampering driver Clint Bowyer 's hopes of advancing from the first round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. The National Motorsports Appeals Panel -- which heard the team's appeal at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina -- ruled that the Waltrip-owned organization violated the rules set forth in the penalty notice and the panel affirms and upholds the original penalty assessed by NASCAR. On Sept. 23, NASCAR handed down punishment for an illegally mounted track bar and suspension infractions as part of pre-race technical violations after the postseason-opening race Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway , stripping Bowyer of 25 points in the drivers' championship standings, suspending crew chief Billy Scott for three races and fining the team $75,000. The penalties were issued at the P4 level of discipline in the NASCAR deterrence system, which went into effect in the 2014 season. Scott, who was also placed on probation for six months, was atop the No. 15 team's pit box last Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after MWR deferred the penalty until after the appeals process. RELATED: Bowyer to drive No. 14 car for SHR in 2017 Michael Waltrip Racing plans to cease operations at season's end and it was announced on Wednesday that Bowyer will drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017, while he hinted that light will be shed on his 2016 plans shortly. The team announced later Wednesday that it would not appeal the ruling. "We are disappointed with the outcome of today's ruling and still feel our interpretation is within the guidelines," according to the statement. "Rather than continue the appeals process, MWR is ready to focus 100 percent of our company's resources on winning at Dover and trying to advance to the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ." With the penalty upheld, Bowyer remains last among the 16 playoff drivers in the Chase, 39 points behind 12th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who holds a tenuous grip on the final berth to avoid elimination and move to the next postseason segment. The title-eligible Chase field will be whittled to 12 after the Challenger Round finale, Sunday's AAA 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Dover. The three members on the National Motorsports Appeals Panel chosen to hear Wednesday's appeal were Paul Brooks, Bill Lester and Bill Mullis.
Ticked off Tony sends brazen tweet after poor qualifying performance Tony Stewart 's No. 14 Chevrolet was nearly 5 mph slower than Stewart-Haas Racing 's No. 4 car in Thursday's qualifying, and the boss was highly displeased. Kevin Harvick posted a speed of 191.415 mph in the third and final round of qualifying Friday, winding up with an 11th-place starting position in Saturday's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . But the No. 4 Chevrolet had been even quicker in practice, topping the leaderboard with a fast lap over 193 mph. Stewart's top qualifying speed was 186.754 mph, dropping him to 36th place for the start of the Sprint Cup Series race. Stewart's qualifying has been a sore spot this season. He has cracked the top 10 of the starting grid only eight times. A four-race stretch from Indianapolis to Michigan seemed to indicate the problem was fixed, with consecutive top-five qualifying runs. The three-time champ announced that 2016 will be his final full-time Sprint Cup season and during his announcement said he intended to be competitive next season. Job 1 will be getting his first Daytona 500 win. It appears 'Smoke' wants to light a fire under his team immediately.
RELATED: Practice 2 results " Final practice results Kyle Busch led the way in a brotherly 1-2 punch atop final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Busch landed a fast lap of 189.354 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota in the 50-minute session, the final tune-up for Saturday night's Bank of America 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM). He'll start second to JGR teammate Matt Kenseth , the Coors Light Pole Award winner, in the fourth race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Brother Kurt Busch was second-fastest at 188.996 mph in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet, backing up his fast time from second practice. The elder Busch was also fastest in the 10-lap average category, edging Jimmie Johnson over the longer run. Joey Logano wound up third-fastest, turning a lap at 188.508 mph in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford. Chevrolet drivers Ryan Newman (188.488 mph) and Dale Earnhardt Jr . (188.311) completed the top five. Much like Friday's earlier practice, the leaderboard was dominated by Chase-eligible drivers, who swept the top six spots. Kenseth was the furthest down the speed chart in 25th, battling through a tire rub after a slight scrape of the outside retaining wall. Defending series champ and defending race winner Kevin Harvick managed the 12th-fastest lap, improving upon his 25th-best lap in the Friday's earlier session. Kurt Busch shows way in Friday's first practice Kurt Busch rocketed to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaderboard Friday, topping second practice Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Busch, driving the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet, clocked a fast lap of 188.772 mph on the 1.5-mile track. He also logged the third-most laps (45) of any driver in the 55-minute session in preparation for Saturday night's Bank of America 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM), the fourth event in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Only teammate Tony Stewart (49) and Kyle Busch (48) turned more laps. Carl Edwards , the winner of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte in May, was second-fastest at 18.620 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota. Ryan Newman claimed the third-best lap (187.630 mph) in the Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet. Martin Truex Jr . and Joey Logano completed the top five as Chase drivers swept the first eight spots on the practice leaderboard. Jimmie Johnson , eliminated from title contention in last weekend's Challenger Round finale at Dover, was fastest of the non-Chasers at ninth overall on the speed charts. His Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet was fastest in the five-lap average and 10-lap average categories, offering optimism for Johnson & Co. in terms of long-term speed. Kevin Harvick , defending Sprint Cup Series champion and defending race winner, was 26th-fastest overall with the second-slowest lap among the remaining 12 Chase-eligible drivers. Jeff Gordon , prepping for what likely will be his final Charlotte Motor Speedway start, was slowest of the Chase drivers, 32nd overall. Matt Kenseth , the Coors Light Pole Award winner in Thursday qualifying, was also well down the leaderboard in 22nd overall.
The following are team press releases previewing the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET Saturday, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). Joe Gibbs Racing : Kyle Busch " Team preview Carl Edwards " Team preview Denny Hamlin " Team preview Matt Kenseth " Team preview Stewart-Haas Racing : Kevin Harvick " Team preview Kurt Busch " Team preview Hendrick Motorsports : Jeff Gordon " Team preview Dale Earnhardt Jr . " Team preview Team Penske : Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano " Team preview Richard Childress Racing : Ryan Newman " Team preview Furniture Row Racing : Martin Truex Jr . " Team preview
NASCAR officials will return to Michigan International Speedway on Tuesday, Oct. 20 to test a low downforce package similar to what was used in competition last month at Darlington Raceway . Drivers scheduled to take part in the test are defending NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 25 Chevrolet, current XFINITY Series points leader Chris Buescher ( Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford) and Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup contender Denny Hamlin ( Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota). According to information provided to the teams on Wednesday, the test is to verify max and corner speeds with three different grip levels of tires. The schedule calls for individual 10- and 25-lap runs in the morning and afternoon sessions. The lower downforce package debuted at Kentucky Speedway this season before also being put into play at Darlington, where it featured a 3.5-inch spoiler, 25-inch splitter extension panel (radiator pan) and 6.63-inch by 25-inch splitter. The only change for the MIS test will be an increase in the splitter extension panel to 33 inches. Drivers and teams were pleased with the initial results of the package, particularly at Darlington where Goodyear was able to provide a specific tire based on data gained from testing there prior to the race. The MIS test will take place approximately two months after the Sprint Cup Series competed at the 2-mile facility with a high-drag aerodynamic configuration. A high-drag package was also used at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . JGR driver Matt Kenseth called the high-drag package "terrible." "You just can't pass," he said after finishing seventh in the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard. "Yeah, you can run up on the straightaway a little bit, but you can't run though the corner with anything." A month later, after his driver dominated at Michigan with the same rules package, Kenseth's crew chief Jason Ratcliff said "at the end of the straightaway (cars could) gain on others two or three car-lengths. But they just couldn't do much once they got there and they got down in the corner, they were kind of helpless." The high-drag rules included a 9-inch spoiler with a 1-inch wicker bill, a rear fascia extension panel (similar to those used for superspeedway events at Daytona and Talladega), a 2-inch leading edge on the splitter and a 43-inch splitter extension panel. "We know that high drag package is awful," four-time premier series champion Jeff Gordon said following the Darlington race. "We know that this (lower downforce) is definitely in the right direction. … I think when you look at the less horsepower we had coming in this year it's the package that should have been with this car that we have now. You can't take that kind of power away and not do something significant to the downforce as well." Homestead Test Slated for December NASCAR and Goodyear officials have added a post-season test scheduled for Dec. 14-15 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to continue preparations for the 2016 rules package. Organizations scheduled to participate in the test are Stewart-Haas Racing (Chevrolet), Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet), Richard Petty Motorsports (Ford) and Furniture Row Racing (Toyota). It is expected to be the first on-track testing for Furniture Row and driver Martin Truex Jr . with a Toyota entry. The Denver-based team is making the switch from Chevrolet to Toyota for '16. Because of the change, SHR was added to the test to replace Furniture Row for Chevrolet. "I think '16, we're not really even thinking about right now," Truex said earlier this week. "We know what we're doing next year, we'll worry about that after (the final race at) Homestead. "I think everybody in the Chase is probably in the same position -- you're worried about today and tomorrow and this coming weekend. No further ahead. Once you set your plans, it's real easy." Lineup Change for Atlanta Test The Toyota teams of Michael Waltrip Racing and BK Racing have declined to take part in the Goodyear tire test slated for Oct. 27-28 at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Joe Gibbs Racing has been added to the lineup to represent Toyota teams at the 1.54-mile track. MWR will not field a full-time Sprint Cup Series team next season. The two-day program is a confirmation test for Goodyear; an open team test is scheduled for Oct. 29 following the completion of the tire test. CMS Tire Info Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series teams will be running the same tire codes this weekend at Charlotte, according to Goodyear officials, and is unchanged from what was provided for the 1.5 mile track's May races. The left-side tire code has been used at CMS since 2012; the right side, which features a multi-zone tread, was used there for the first time in May.
RELATED: Full practice results Wheeling his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet at 193.500 mph, Kevin Harvick surged to the top of the leaderboard during Thurday's opening Sprint Cup Series practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Matt Kenseth 's late lap of 192.892 mph sent his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing ride to the second spot on the leaderboard. Roush Fenway Racing 's Greg Biffle also made a late lap, his No. 16 ride clocking a third-best speed of 192.885 mph. Team Penske 's Joey Logano used a fast lap of 192.458 mph to snag the fourth spot, while Kasey Kahne propelled the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at 192.321 mph to round out the top five. Having paced the field for the majority of practice, Ryan Blaney settled into eighth by the session's end, rounding the 1.5-mile North Carolina track at 192.048 mph. Kyle Busch was the slowest among the 12 Chase Contenders, coming in at 21st-fastest with a top pace of 191.049 mph.
RELATED: Was Harvick's burnout done to hinder inspection? CONCORD, N.C. – NASCAR officials are not expected to "regulate" post-race celebrations following events, calling the long, smoky burnouts done by many race winners a part of the sport today and something that fans have come to expect. "Post-race burnouts have been a part of the sport for a long time as they give the winning driver the opportunity to express their enthusiasm for their win and give fans an exclamation point to the victory," NASCAR spokesperson Kerry Tharp told NASCAR.com Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway , site of Saturday's Bank of America 500 (7 p.m., NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). "We don't really see them being anything beyond that." Concerns about intentionally damaging a race-winning car came to light this week after defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick made contact with the inside wall while celebrating his victory in Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway . Harvick led 355 of the race's 400 laps to advance into the Contender Round of this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup . Two days after the victory, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver said he wasn't aware that the back end of his No. 4 Chevrolet had hit the inside wall during his Dover celebration. His car passed post-race inspection at the track, as well as a more thorough inspection at the NASCAR Research & Development Center two days later. "That's what you're supposed to do," Harvick said when asked about comments that he had purposely damaged his vehicle to avoid the prying eyes of NASCAR officials. "You're supposed to try to create commotion. "I don't remember even actually hitting the wall. I remember the tires blowing out, but I don't know if I actually even hit the wall." Fellow Sprint Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) said he was taking nothing away from Harvick's victory at Dover, "because what he did was really, really impressive." "But obviously, as all the other competitors, whoever doesn't win each week wants to make sure they're on a level playing field with whoever did win," Hamlin said. Former series champion Brad Keselowski said intentionally damaging a winning car has "been going on for a long time." "I'm not making any accusations," he said. "It's not anything new to this sport." On Thursday, crew chief Rodney Childers said he wasn't surprised that some had seized on something so innocent after his driver's strong performance. He also once again stressed that his team's cars had been to the R&D center more than any other vehicles this season without officials uncovering any irregularities. The No. 4 team has made 14 trips to the center for final inspection this season and passed on each occasion. NASCAR officials transport the winning and second-place entries, as well as a random selection, to the center following each race where engines, fuel cells and other pieces (such as transmissions) are removed and more closely inspected. A computerized device known as a Romer Absolute Arm, the same equipment used to certify each chassis before competition, is used to check each piece for any changes or any inconsistencies.
RELATED: Gordon by the numbers at Charlotte As Jeff Gordon 's farewell tour winds down, so do the number of chances to scratch the win column in his final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The four-time champion sees opportunities in the seven races that remain, however, even as a bigger goal looms. Gordon took his rightful place among the 12 title-eligible Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Tuesday, just days before the three-race Contender Round kicks off with this Saturday night's Bank of America 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM). A victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend would provide a bookend for his career at the site of his first major-league triumph, back in 1994. With 29 races in the books, Gordon is facing down the prospect of a winless final season, but he said a title ring for the thumb would be the ultimate trump card. "I mean, I'll be disappointed, but at the same time, I'm a realistic person and we've rarely put ourselves in position and had the cars and the team to do that," Gordon said. "I think certainly Martinsville's high on my list of opportunities, and I feel like we've been able to win there the last several years. I've got to make sure I go in there and do my job because I think we're very capable of winning there. "To me, the championship overrides that, and even if we don't win a race and win the championship, that'll supersede the win." Gordon qualified for the 10-race postseason on the basis of points and advanced through the first three-race series with finishes of 14th (Chicagoland), seventh (New Hampshire) and 12th (Dover). Passing the Challenger Round test mirrored the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 team's steady effort from the regular season, when Gordon placed in the top 10 in half of the 26 races. With the points re-racked for the next round, Gordon said having equal footing in the standings makes the championship race a new day for all 12 finalists, icing on the season-ending cake. "I feel like it's all bonus from here on out," Gordon said. "We haven't had the best year, but we've done a great job at fighting and overcoming things and here we are with having -- up to the Chase -- not a very great performance, and yet we're in the Chase. And I think we showed in Chicago that we've improved our mile-and-a-half program. Let's hope that continues these next two weeks, but it's full-on reset. "We came into this thing very far behind in bonus points and now we're on an even playing field as far as points are concerned. You've got to just play to your strengths, and I think our strengths are that we're very consistent, we've got a lot of fight in us, and we've had to fight through a lot of things this year, so we're very experienced at that." Gordon exited the title hunt last year in the Eliminator Round, the final three-race series before the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Though the current Chase format is only in its second year, Gordon said the pressure "only intensifies from here" as the season winds down. One team that has risen in close correlation with the stress levels has been the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 outfit helmed by defending series champion Kevin Harvick , who converted a must-win situation last weekend at Dover to keep his repeat hopes alive. Though Gordon said the focus remains in-house for the No. 24 bunch for the time being, it's been hard to ignore the accomplishments from Harvick & Co. "We're in a category right now where it's really just focus on how we get ourselves to Homestead and then see who we need to worry about, but the first step is just that," Gordon said. "But I will say consistently every weekend, he's at the top of board, he's the guy that I think everybody's measuring themselves off of, but in all honesty I think he's in a whole 'nother category right now."
The importance of Jimmie's Chase dismissal, Junior's close call at Dover RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated " Harvick shoves Johnson post-race If you're a regular reader of Herman Unplugged, you know that clairvoyant Kenny Wallace called for Kevin Harvick to win in "walk-off" fashion once again at Dover. He was on the record early and this wasn't Phoenix, where Harvick has a habit of making victories look routine. He'd never won at the Monster Mile … until Sunday. Now? "I really feel that Harvick's gonna win Charlotte and lock himself in again," Herman said. "When you look at the last two races at Loudon and Dover, two completely different race tracks, this is speed we haven't seen since the Jimmie Johnson glory days. He has utterly dominated these last two races, so I don't know why that would stop going into Charlotte. "The only thing that's gonna stop him is a blown tire, wreck or parts failure." NASCAR ILLUSTRATED: Speaking of that, a faulty inexpensive axle seal felled Jimmie Johnson at Dover and dropped him from the Chase. That's a bad beat… HERMAN: "Some of the smallest items in the history of building a car have cost such big deals. An axle seal is a complete fluke. I don't think I've ever seen one go out of a passenger car much less a Sprint Cup car. One would think that with all the engineering and all the machinery at Hendrick, they're probably making their own axle seals, so it was probably the rubber that they used that was a freak deal. Who in the hell would have ever thought it would be an axle seal?" NI: Pretty riveting back and forth battle between McMurray and Junior at the end of Dover race. How important was that for the sport with Junior grabbing the final playoff spot in this next round? HERMAN: "It was bigger than big, no doubt. I was asked on the prerace show: 'Will Dale Jr. make it into the Contender Round?' And I said no because I thought Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick would outrun him and they did. But what we did not see was Jimmie Johnson falling out of the race. Nine times out of 10, Dale Jr. is gonna outrun Jamie McMurray , right? These were two drivers that really wanted it bad and this incredible drama built and at the end it looks like Jamie is gonna do it. Even Dale Jr. said it was that caution. The caution came out and it changes our sport moving forward. If that last caution does not come out, 70% of our fan base remains depressed and sad. That was pretty incredible to see that last late race restart." NI: The other remaining Hendrick driver, Jeff Gordon , did what he needed to do as well but he's winless on the season. Do you have any problem if a winless driver claims the championship under this format like Ryan Newman nearly did a year ago? HERMAN: "I have never had a problem with someone scoring more points than the other person. Special things happen when things change sometimes. Every time you look up at the end of the year now, Ryan Newman is there without coming close to winning a race. If Jeff Gordon continues to run consistent and keeps getting better and buying himself more time, we still got seven races to go, and maybe that team can find him some speed. But how do you deny somebody scoring more points than the other person? I know people feel like you have to win but throughout our whole history as a sport it's never been based on wins, it's been based on points." NI: Logano would be leading Harvick by eight points under the old system with Junior in third 76 points back. Do you prefer one system over the other when it comes to crowning a champion? HERMAN: "I like this system; I don't like one race determining the champion and I'll tell you why. In baseball and football, we deal with human beings. In auto racing , we deal with parts and pieces that are made by machinery. To determine who is the greatest all year long on one race is brutal. That's the way I look at it. Last year, Joey Logano came down pit road and the jackman had the worst stop of his life and it took Joey out. I don't think he could have outrun Harvick anyway but it took him out of contending. I would like to see this system stay but give it something to add longevity in the end. Maybe we go 3-3-3 and let the last three determine a champion instead of one damn race." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Below is a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared at Dover International Speedway . 1. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick scored his spot in the Round of 12 in dramatic fashion by leading a career-best 355 laps and notching the 750th victory for manufacturer Chevrolet. 2. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Post-race, Busch said he was pleased with where his team finished, citing it had a second-place car, but also adding it had quite a bit of ground to make up to catch the "lightning-fast" No. 4 team. 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The final caution flag was a lucky break for Earnhardt, who took the opportunity to address a loose wheel. He then used a solid restart to slip past fellow Chase contender Jamie McMurray and punch his ticket to the next round. 4. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . "Nice work guys. Nothing to be ashamed of," McMurray radioed his team after just missing the cut for Round 2. For more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView . 5. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola was posting top-five lap times with 55 laps to go, but needed those remaining circuits to pick up seven spots and match his best Dover result. 6. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The decision to stop twice during the fifth caution period to ensure the No. 5 was full of fuel didn't hurt Kahne, who earned his seventh Dover top 10. 7. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth, already a Round 2 contender thanks to his Loudon victory, spent the remaining 125 laps on Sunday looking for more corner speed. 8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse restarted 10th after the fifth caution flag, and he held on for his best Dover finish. 9 . Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . Larson looked to play the spoiler when he moved into the top three in the final 100 laps, but a decision to stay out during the final caution flag hurt his chances. 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano advances to the next round of the Chase with his ninth Dover top 10. 11. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Truex, a Round 2 contender, climbed through the field after starting from the rear when NASCAR had a post-inspection issue with the flare on his side skirt. 12. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . " Man, it's never easy," Gordon told his team after a rough final restart. "I know that wasn't easy," spotter Eddie D'Hondt said. "But we did what we needed to" (to advance). For more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView . 13. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush-Fenway Racing . Biffle got sideways with 11 laps to go, but saved his car while running 15th . 14. Clint Bowyer , No. 15, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer recovered after dropping from eighth to 25th when he made an unscheduled stop on Lap 175 for a loose wheel. 15. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Crew chief Darian Grubb didn't want to risk the No. 19's spot in the next round of the Chase so he called his driver back down pit road during the sixth caution flag for a right-front tire issue. 16. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Around Lap 60, Keselowski was running 16th when he reported that his engine temperatures were dropping. He maintained and will compete in the second round of the Chase. 17. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . An issue with the left-front jack bolt caused Busch to lose ride height late in the race. The team corrected the issue but still had to make additional repairs during the Lap 374 stop under caution. 18. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin won the race off pit road after a four-tire stop during the competition caution, but his forward momentum was stalled because he was tagged for speeding. A second penalty sealed the deal, but he still advanced because he won Chicagoland. 19. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman earned the beneficiary pass after the third caution flag and managed to stay only one lap down as the race progressed. He advanced to the second round of the Chase. 20. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish and his team chased the handling of his No. 9 Ford all day, even as the track took on rubber. 21. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick worked with her team to help her No. 10 Chevy take off better around Dover's 1-mile oval. 22. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan, who fell off the lead lap by Lap 105, had previously told his team he was "too free on exit and pretty snug in the center." 23. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon's team made several chassis adjustments during the second half of the race to help him get into the corner better. 24. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears was running 25th during the first half of Sunday's race when he was hooked in the right rear and saved his car from spinning on-track. 25. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard rolled off the grid 14th and almost immediately went backward as he watched his first Chase run fade. 26. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart recently announced he'd retire from driving after 2016 to focus on ownership. But on Sunday, the driver of the No. 14 focused on pit strategy to improve his track position. 27. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier received the beneficiary pass during the competition caution, but spent much of the race looking for mid-corner grip. 28. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Like his teammate Brett Moffitt , Whitt discovered that his car improved around Dover as the 1-mile concrete oval took on rubber. 29. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG-Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger was going too fast trying to get onto pit road when he spun up the track on Lap 311. 30. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland reported a tight-handling condition during the final 60 laps of Sunday's race, which his team worked to address. 31. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Halfway through a fuel run when the fifth caution flag was waved, Bayne elected to take the wave-around like most cars one or more laps down. 32. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman and his team continually made adjustments on the No. 7 Chevy throughout Sunday's race trying to find balance. 33. Reed Sorenson , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing . Already three laps down and in 36th, Sorenson told his team that he was "just racing the track right now" when they informed him leader Kevin Harvick was bearing down. 34. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . "Holy crap," DiBenedetto said while running 37th on Lap 101 when he learned leader Kevin Harvick was on his bumper -- again. 35. J.J. Yeley, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . Long green-flag runs were a struggle Sunday for Yeley. 36. Josh Wise , No. 32 Ford, Go FAS Racing . Wise sustained minimal nose damage after making contact with Jeb Burton on Lap 3. 37. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . During the fifth caution flag, Annett reported that his entry was neutral and he couldn't pick up the gas when he wanted to. 38. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport . Kennedy rolled off the grid 36th in his Dover debut. 39. Timmy Hill , No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports . Starting 43rd at the fast 1-mile oval made forward progress an immediate issue for Hill in his fourth Dover appearance. 40. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill's fear that his engine was "letting go" was realized on Lap 372 and prompted the eighth caution flag. 41. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . A torn rear axle seal sidelined Johnson in his 500th Cup start and ended his quest for a seventh championship. 42. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Moffitt's lap times were improving as the track picked up rubber, but his car was "killed" when he blew a right-front and made hard contact with the wall to bring out the seventh caution flag. 43. Jeb Burton , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Burton spun on Lap 3 and cut a tire on Lap 192 to bring out the caution flag twice on Sunday.