An in-depth profile of the most dynamic and diverse team in NASCAR. Featuring interviews with the drivers of Stewart-Haas Racing ; Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick. Check it out on August 1st at 2:30 pm ET on Fox Sports 1.
Bruce: Never count 'Smoke' out, but he needs a win RELATED: Chase-clinching scenarios for Pocono It's been three years since Tony Stewart qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . And it's beginning to look as if the three-time series champion might miss this year's field of 16 as well. Stewart, 44, is 26th in points heading into this weekend's Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway. With only six races remaining before the field is set, it's unlikely that the co-owner/driver at Stewart-Haas Racing will qualify for one of the 16 positions based on points. To earn a chance to compete for this year's championship, Stewart needs nothing less than a victory in the coming weeks. Defending series champion Kevin Harvick , six-time champion Jimmie Johnson , '04 champ Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr . have officially clinched Chase berths. Joey Logano , Martin Truex Jr ., Brad Keselowski , Matt Kenseth , Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards are 2015 race winners and are currently 16th or higher in the points standings. Kyle Busch , riding a white-hot streak that has seen the Joe Gibbs Racing driver win three consecutive Sprint Cup events, and four of the last five, is on the doorstep of the top 30 in points (another Chase eligibility requirement). Non-winners, but those somewhat safely inside the top 16 in points include Jamie McMurray and Jeff Gordon . On less stable ground are Ryan Newman , Paul Menard and Kasey Kahne , currently 12th through 14th, respectively, in points. Unless he can advance his points position, Clint Bowyer , who sits 15th, would fall outside the Chase as soon as Kyle Busch cracks the top 30. Stewart is trying to climb into contention. Those on the periphery are likewise trying to advance -- or hold on -- to what they've earned thus far. A win in the coming weeks by anyone else, AJ Allmendinger (23rd) at Watkins Glen for example, would trump the points position of a non-winner inside the top 16. It's unlikely that someone such as Kahne, Menard or Bowyer is resting too comfortably these days. Kahne has made three consecutive appearances in the Chase, but isn't taking anything for granted; Menard's still chasing that first playoff opportunity; Bowyer, meanwhile, is attempting to return after missing the field a year ago. Aric Almirola (17th) and Greg Biffle (18th) made last year's Chase. Austin Dillon (19th) and Kyle Larson (20th) are still looking for that first career win and first Chase appearance. Would it be unwise to look past any of those drivers given the uncertain nature of racing ? Rules package changes and a variety of tracks -- large, small and a road course to boot -- only serve to muddy the racing waters. Stewart's Chase absence has been well documented. A broken leg in 2013 sidelined the No. 14 driver for the season's final 15 races. A year ago, he missed three races prior to the start of the Chase, and while he was given a NASCAR exemption, Stewart failed to produce the necessary win or points position to qualify. Perhaps it would be just as unwise to look past Stewart, given what he has been able to accomplish in previous years. But the road ahead won't be an easy one for him or any of those looking to go from Chase hopeful to Chase qualifier. The calendar is starting to take an ugly turn. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See where drivers will pit for the Windows 10 400 RELATED: Complete lineup at Pocono " See all 43 cars in Sunday's race Pole-sitter Kyle Busch nabbed the pick of pit stalls at Pocono with a fast lap of 178.416 mph in Friday's qualifying. He will service the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the first pit stall, entering Turn 1 of the Tricky Triangle. Sharing the front row at the start for the Windows 10 400 (1:30 p.m. ET Friday, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) with Busch is Kevin Harvick , and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Chevrolet will pit in the second stall, right behind Busch. Joey Logano qualified third and chose pit stall No. 3 for the No. 22 Ford. Richard Childress Racing 's No. 3 driver Austin Dillon will pit in the first pit stall coming onto pit road out of Turn 3. Kurt Busch has an opening in front of the No. 41, which will come in for service at the front of the first set of stalls coming out of Turn 3. Fifth-place qualifier Tony Stewart grabbed the spot in front of Kurt Busch , with a clear rear entry at the back of the second group of pit stalls at Pocono. Starting No. 9 Sunday is the No. 2 driver, Brad Keselowski , who will pit his Team Penske Ford also with a rear opening, choosing the final pit stall in the first block of pits heading into Turn 1. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Catch up before Sunday's Windows 10 400 (1:30 p.m ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) What: 42nd annual Windows 10 400 Where: Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pennsylvania When: Sunday, August 2, 2015 TV/Radio: NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Distance: 160 laps (400 miles) Green Flag: 1:46 p.m. ET Pit Road Speed: 55 mph Caution Car Speed: 70 mph Fuel Window: 32 laps On The Front Row ( Full lineup ) 1. Kyle Busch , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (178.416 mph) 2. Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (178.168 mph) To the rear Jeb Burton , BK Racing No. 26 Toyota (going to backup car) Failed to Qualify None Fastest in Practice ( Full practice results ) First Practice: Brad Keselowski , Team Penske No. 2 Ford (176.606 mph) Second Practice: Carl Edwards , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota (175.812 mph) Third Practice: Kyle Busch , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (175.240 mph) Bumps be gone Two months ago, drivers complained about bumps in Turn 2 over Pocono's new waterfall entrance. The track paved over the section, and the racers have recognized the work done. " They did a great job repairing or improving the bumps and issues they had over in the Tunnel (Turn) especially on the apron," said an appreciative Dale Earnhardt Jr . But June winner Martin Truex Jr . may have lost an advantage, saying, "A few differences in the race track with the Tunnel Turn being smooth again, I think that certainly makes it a little bit easier on everybody else." Second consecutive sweep? Earnhardt won both races in 2014, and Truex will attempt to become the eighth driver to complete the season sweep at the Tricky Triangle. In addition to the two Juniors, the six other drivers who have achieved the Pocono sweep are Bobby Allison (1982), Bill Elliott (1985), Tim Richmond (1986), Bobby Labonte (1999), Jimmie Johnson (2004) and Denny Hamlin (2006). Four-Time's last time The all-time wins leader at Pocono, Jeff Gordon , will attempt to make his seventh trip to Richard Petty Victory Lane in his last start at the track. Gordon's last win at the Tricky Triangle came three years ago in this race when he snapped a tie with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott for lead. The facility incorporated "GORDON" into the start/finish line, and it has a "Thank you Jeff 24" sign greeting patrons and race teams as they drive out of the track under the Tunnel Turn. Birthday bonanza A win would be an early birthday present for Gordon, who turns 44 next Tuesday, as well as his crew chief, Alan Gustafson, who turns 40 next Wednesday when fellow Hendrick crew chief, Chad Knaus, turns 44 as well. Last year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year winner, Kyle Larson , celebrated his 23rd birthday on Friday, and 38th-place qualifier Jeb Burton will join him at that age next Thursday. A two-time Pocono winner, Kurt Busch , turns 37 next Tuesday. Four in a row Coors Light Pole Award winner Kyle Busch will attempt to become the first driver to win four consecutive Sprint Cup Series races since Jimmie Johnson won four Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup races in a row in the fall of 2007. Other drivers with wins across a month of consecutive Sundays include NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott , David Pearson, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough. Others to turn the trick have been Harry Gant, Jeff Gordon , Mark Martin and Billy Wade. If Busch wins, he'll go for five in a row at Watkins Glen and try to become the first driver to accomplish the feat since another NASCAR Hall of Famer, Bobby Allison, did it in 1971. Richard Petty holds the record with 10. Taking the fifth Kyle Busch and Harvick haven't won on five of 23 Sprint Cup Series tracks, and Pocono is one they have in common. In addition to the Tricky Triangle, Harvick is winless at Dover, Kentucky, Sonoma and Texas while Busch hasn't gone to Victory Lane at Charlotte, Homestead-Miami, Kansas and Martinsville. Chevy seeks milestone The Bowtie Brigade has won six consecutive races at the track, and if it wins on Sunday, it will make the 750th victory for the manufacturer. Seventy-six different drivers have won in a Chevy, which has claimed 38 manufacturer titles including the last 12. Gordon boasts the most wins with 92, followed by Johnson with 74, Earnhardt (73), Waltrip (60) and Yarborough (48). Next new winner? Through 20 races, 10 drivers have won their way into the Chase with Kyle Busch on the cusp of making the top 30 and becoming the 11th driver to make the playoffs, leaving five spots with six events until the field is set. Of top 30 drivers without a win in 2015, Larson has the best average finish of eighth. The second-best driver in that group is two-time Pocono winner, Stewart, with a 12.1 average finish. Another former winner, Ryan Newman , is third with a 12.4 average finish. Double-duty dudes JJ Yeley skipped Saturday's practices to head to Iowa and run the XFINITY race. Four drivers competed in Saturday's Camping World Truck Series race at Pocono: Kyle Busch , Austin Dillon , Harvick and Brad Keselowski . Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Pocono based on races since 2005: 1. Denny Hamlin , 108.3 2. Jimmie Johnson , 106.9 3. Kurt Busch , 105.9 Defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet Former Pocono winners in the field Jeff Gordon (6); Denny Hamlin (4); Jimmie Johnson (3); Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards (2); Ryan Newman , Joey Logano , Brad Keselowski , Greg Biffle , Martin Truex Jr . (1). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
All four of team's cars place in top five in Quaker State 400 SPARTA, Ky. -- Winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is a proud accomplishment for any team in the league. But to take the checkered and land all four of a team's drivers in the top five is an even bigger success. It's a feat so impressive that it hadn't been done since Roush Fenway Racing in August 2008 at Michigan International Speedway. That is, until Joe Gibbs Racing rewrote record books Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway. JGR's four-car powerhouse was led by Saturday's Quaker State 400 race winner Kyle Busch , followed by teammates Denny Hamlin , Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth in third through fifth, respectively. "What a great night for Joe Gibbs Racing ," Kenseth said after the race. "I am really happy for all those guys and the organization, and I think we all learned a lot of stuff. You know, we were kind of off all night, but we kept fighting and had some great pit stops and good strategy and got a decent finish out of it." As Kenseth alluded to, the task wasn't an easy one for the team, as all four cars were dealt a heavy hand with the new rules package debut atop of the standard trickiness of Kentucky Speedway's uneven surface. Busch's win among the difficulties was another feather in the No. 18 team's hat, as the group has been battling the odds since the driver's return to full-time competition in May following his early-season injuries. "Obviously, the night went real well for us," Busch said in a post-race winner's press conference. "But in general, man, it was really, really good to get out there and race like that tonight and to run up front and put on a good show ... but most importantly I can't say enough about (crew chief) Adam Stevens, my team, everyone that did such a great job for me and gave me a great race car to go out there and perform like I did and just to be able to put it all together throughout 400 miles." For Edwards, the top-five finish was the defeat of a frustrating battle he had been fighting throughout the weekend. "I talked to Carl today on the phone for quite awhile, right before I flew over," team owner Joe Gibbs said. "And we were kind of ‑‑ and to be quite truthful, he was worried. He said, 'you know, I just didn't feel good with the package, I thought some of our other cars were better than me' and we had a long discussion on it." The newest member of the Joe Gibbs Racing clan, Edwards joined the organization at the beginning of the 2015 Sprint Cup season. While he won the Coca-Cola 600 in May at Charlotte, the No. 19 driver's performance this season has been mediocre the remainder of the year, only recording one other top 10 besides his win before Kentucky. "I got to tell you, I was, I had a big applaud when I saw that 19 come roaring up through there," Gibbs said of Edwards. "It was really a big deal." Edwards and the rest of his teammates seemed to have found something strong in the new rules package this weekend, an achievement that stumped other big-name teams such as Stewart-Haas Racing and Hendrick Motorsports . It's an aerodynamic change that awarded a plethora of control to the driver -- and exposed any flaws in driving ability. "We've been working on it," No. 20 crew chief Jason Ratcliff said after the race. "As soon as we knew it was coming, we know that if you put it back in the driver's hands, it's going to be good for JGR. We've got what I think is four of the best in the business and it showed tonight. So we've been working on it hard and it's just one of those weekends where it paid off for us." While raw talent has proven beneficial in the Sprint Cup Series, another crucial element is the ability to work with one another, despite the notion that stock car racing is often considered a solo sport. This weekend, the Joe Gibbs drivers seem to work as a cohesive unit, evident in each of their improvements throughout the weekend. "We have just been working very well together as a group," Edwards said. "Denny (Hamlin) was basically my counselor the other day after practice. I was so frustrated, I thought my car was terrible. I went straight over and talked to him and he helped me a little bit. "... It's a good group and it's cool to be a part of it. These guys, they really push me a lot. It's cool when your teammates are this fast. It's really neat for me." Hamlin agreed, adding, "Any time you have a driver of caliber of when Kyle (Busch) came in, Matt (Kenseth), and now Carl (Edwards), it just continues to push you to go faster. And push you to do your job better and that's what ‑‑ when you can feed off each other like that, that's typically how you get to an elite level." Saturday night's showdown in the Bluegrass State saw the JGR drivers rise to the occasion, battling to the front. And while the group works together melodiously off the track, the race even witnessed the teammates battling one another for the lead. It was a sight that showed the drivers' competitiveness, but probably also set owner Gibbs' nerves awry, according to Ratcliff. "I would say when they were three-wide, he was probably hiding his eyes," Ratcliff said with a chuckle. "I would be." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Organization earns second NASCAR premier series title Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John's Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship tonight at Homestead-Miami Speedway . It is Harvick's first Sprint Cup championship and the second for SHR since its inception in 2009. SHR won the 2011 Sprint Cup title with driver-owner Tony Stewart . The following are some anecdotes regarding the 2014 Sprint Cup Series Champions. · This is Kevin Harvick 's eighth driving title in his 33 years of racing . His other titles are: -- 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship -- 2006 NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship -- 2002 IROC Series Championship -- 2001 NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship -- 1998 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Championship -- 1993 Late Model Track Championship at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, California -- 1987 World Karting Association National Championship -- 1985 World Karting Association National Championship · This is Rodney Childers first championship as a crew chief in NASCAR. · This is the second Sprint Cup championship as a car owner for team co-owners Stewart and Gene Haas. -- 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship with the No. 4 team of Harvick -- 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship with the No. 14 team of Stewart · This is Stewart's 21st overall championship as a car owner. -- Two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championships: -- 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship with Harvick -- 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship via himself -- Five World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Championships: -- 2014 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Championship with Donny Schatz -- 2012 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Championship with Schatz -- 2009 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Championship with Schatz -- 2008 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Championship with Schatz -- 2001 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Championship with Danny Lasoski -- Fourteen USAC Championships: -- 2013 USAC Sprint Car Championship with Bryan Clauson -- 2013 USAC Silver Crown Championship with Bobby East -- 2011 USAC Sprint Car Championship with Levi Jones -- 2011 USAC Silver Crown Championship with Jones -- 2010 USAC Sprint Car Championship with Jones -- 2010 USAC Silver Crown Championship with Jones -- 2008 USAC Sprint Car Championship with Jones -- 2007 USAC Sprint Car Championship with Jones -- 2006 USAC Sprint Car Championship with Josh Wise -- 2005 USAC Silver Crown Championship with J.J. Yeley (Stewart co-owned team with Bob East) -- 2004 USAC Silver Crown Championship with Yeley (Stewart co-owned team with Bob East) -- 2003 USAC Sprint Car Championship with Yeley -- 2003 USAC Silver Crown Championship with Yeley (Stewart co-owned team with Bob East) -- 2002 USAC Silver Crown Championship with Yeley (Stewart co-owned team with Bob East) Anecdotes: · Harvick joins Bobby Labonte and Brad Keselowski as the only drivers to earn both a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship and a NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. Harvick is a two-time Nationwide Series champion (2001 and 2006). · Harvick is only the third Sprint Cup driver since 2000 to lead more than 2,000 laps in a single season. Harvick led 2,137 laps in 2014. Jimmie Johnson led 2,238 laps in 2009 and Jeff Gordon led 2,320 laps in 2001. Both Johnson and Gordon went on to win the championship in those years. · Harvick led a lap in 27 of the 36 Sprint Cup races in 2014. His longest streak of consecutive races with at least one lap led was nine, beginning Aug. 23 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and continuing through the Oct. 19 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. His longest stretch of races without a single lap led was three, starting June 28 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta lasting through July 13 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. · The most laps Harvick led in a single Sprint Cup season prior to 2014 was 895 laps in 2006. · In nine seasons prior to 2014, teams led by crew chief Rodney Childers led a total of 879 laps. Among the seven drivers Childers worked with during this span, Mark Martin was the leader with 295 laps led during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. · Of the 24 track qualifying records set during the 2014 Sprint Cup season, Harvick accounted for six of them. No other driver had more than four. -- April 5 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (Round 1: 27.234 seconds at 198.282 mph) -- May 9 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas Speedway (Round 2: 27.741 seconds at 194.658 mph) -- June 13 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (Round 3: 35.198 seconds at 204.557 mph) --This was the fastest pole-winning speed since April 1987 when Bill Elliott set the all-time Sprint Cup qualifying record of 212.809 mph at Talladega Superspeedway . -- July 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Round 1: 47.753 seconds at 188.470 mph) -- Aug. 22 at Bristol Motor Speedway (Round 2: 14.607 seconds at 131.362 mph) -- Oct. 3 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City (Round 2: 27.304 seconds at 197.773 mph) · Harvick won a career-high eight poles in 2014. In his previous 13 years as a Sprint Cup driver, Harvick won a total of six poles. -- April 11 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway -- May 9 at Kansas Speedway -- June 13 at Michigan International Speedway -- July 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- Aug. 22 at Bristol Motor Speedway -- Aug. 29 at Atlanta Motor Speedway -- Sept. 26 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway -- Oct. 3 at Kansas Speedway · Harvick finished among the top-five in the Sprint Cup championship standings six times prior to 2014. His previous career-high point finish was third, which he did three times (2010, 2011 and 2013). · Harvick finished 25 of 36 Sprint Cup Series races with a driver rating better than 100.0, including four races with a driver rating better than 140.0. Harvick scored his only perfect driver rating (150.0) Nov. 9 at Phoenix International Raceway where he led three times for a race-high 264 laps en route to the victory. · Harvick ended the 2014 season as the leader in the following loop data categories: -- Driver Rating: 110.5 -- Fastest Early in Run: 4.710 -- Fastest Laps Run: 1,233 -- Fastest Green Flag Speed: 4.387 -- Most Laps Led: 2,137 -- Mileage Leader: 2,716.86 · Harvick's championship is the 30th driver title for Team Chevy in the Sprint Cup Series. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Stewart-Haas Racing engineers talk about the advantages of using a three dimensional printer.
Team says Texas, Phoenix present opportunities to keep title hopes alive RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Kevin Harvick 's stumble out of the gates in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup last weekend at Martinsville Speedway has left him with two races to put his name in the championship-eligible field of four. The mathematical route of accumulating points is a formidable one, but a victory at either Texas or Phoenix in the next two weeks would cure all of Harvick's ills. And if numerology has any hand in providing an assist, Harvick will be making his milestone 500th start in NASCAR's premier series in Sunday's AAA Texas 500 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN). For his Stewart-Haas Racing support system, there are no misgivings that their lone remaining title hopeful can come through in the clutch. "Absolutely not. There's definitely no doubt," said Tony Stewart , Harvick's stablemate and team co-owner. "You look how fast he was at Texas in the spring. I think we feel good going to Texas, and Phoenix is one of his favorite tracks. There's nobody I'd put money on in a two-race deal more than him." Mid-race contact from championship rival Matt Kenseth left Harvick 43 laps off the pace in 33rd position after last Sunday's race, shuffling him to last among the eight drivers still in title contention. The 33-point deficit to new series leader Jeff Gordon isn't impossible to overcome, but Harvick would need some misfortune to visit some of the Chase competition to advance by points. The other way to lock into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship under this year's new format isn't easy but is less complex -- win one of the next two. It's been done before, even in the new playoff system's infancy, with Brad Keselowski 's Talladega victory to avoid elimination taking on the equivalent of a walk-off homer or a buzzer-beater. Conventional wisdom might say, "don't drive angry," but SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli expects Harvick to convert last Sunday's setback into motivation going forward. "Obviously, he's frustrated but he seems to do well when his back is against the wall and I think he wants it," Zipadelli said. "Nobody is going to give you it. Racing for years, you gotta go earn it, you gotta race it and some days things stack against you and you've got to go see what you're made of. We'll go to the next couple of races and see what we've got. I believe in our people, I believe in our equipment, so we've just got to do it." A large part of the optimism stems from Harvick's recent performance at both tracks, starting this weekend with Texas Motor Speedway . Though Harvick finished 42nd at the Fort Worth track in April after suffering engine failure just 28 laps in, he was third-fastest in final practice and third-best in Coors Light Pole Qualifying before his No. 4 Chevrolet broke down. Harvick's prospects are even more encouraging at Phoenix International Raceway, where the Eliminator Round finale will cut the remaining Chase field in half to determine its final four. Harvick has won three of the last four Sprint Cup races at the mile track in the Arizona desert, including a dominating victory there in March, when he led 224 of 312 laps in just his second start with the Stewart-Haas operation. While last weekend's dust-up with Kenseth made the road ahead more difficult, Rodney Childers -- Harvick's crew chief -- maintains there's no panic in the team's game plan. "We're ready to go," Childers said. "Our Texas and Phoenix cars are already ready, and our Homestead cars are going there to test. There's nothing we need to change or do differently. We've just got to go win a race." 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
Dale Jr., Hamlin also topped Friday's practice leaderboards RELATED: See the new spoiler at Indy this weekend Practice 3: Full results Kurt Busch led the final Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network/Live Extra, SiriusXM). The Stewart-Haas Racing driver jumped to the lead near the end of the final session, putting up a high speed of 181.987 mph. Coming up short in speed to the No. 41 driver was Kevin Harvick (181.763 mph). Kyle Larson (181.357 mph), Jimmie Johnson (180.697 mph) and Martin Truex Jr . (180.672 mph) rounded out the top-five fastest on the leaderboard. Denny Hamlin led the series’ first practice at the Brickyard, but fell to 31st-fastest in the final round. Dale Earnhardt Jr . also led a practice session, but was 32nd-fastest, right behind Hamlin, in the closing run. Jeff Gordon , the defending race winner, finished 23rd-fastest in the final session. The Sprint Cup Series takes the track at the Brickyard for the Coors Light Pole Qualifying session tomorrow at 1:10 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network/Live Extra). Practice 2: Full results A fast lap of 181.466 mph sent Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s No. 88 soaring to the top of the leaderboard early during Friday's second practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Hendrick Motorsports driver found more speed in this session, having posted a high speed of 181.046 mph (ranked seventh) in the opening session this morning at the Brickyard. Team Penske 's Brad Keselowski came up just behind Earnhardt, scoring a fast lap of 181.448 mph in his No. 2 Ford to snag the second spot. Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne ranked third (181.408 mph), while Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates' Kyle Larson (181.378 mph) and Michael Waltrip Racing 's Clint Bowyer (181.331 mph) rounded out the top five. Last year's Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon showed speed again in this session, propelling around the famed speedway at 181.189 mph to earn the sixth spot. Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick was 14th-fastest, rounding the Indiana track at 179.583 mph in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Reigning XFINITY champion Chase Elliott -- who will be making his fourth Sprint Cup Series start in Sunday's 400-mile event -- clocked a fast lap of 178.798 mph in his No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, giving him the 17th-fastest speed in the field. After topping the opening practice, Denny Hamlin ran into trouble early in the second session when the hood of his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota flew up and hit the windshield. The bizarre occurance -- which NASCAR determined was caused by the hood not being properly pinned down -- brought out the caution for debris. His No. 11 team replaced the hood and the windshield and Hamlin returned to the race track to score the 12th-fastest speed. Paul Menard 's No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet returned to the track after hitting the wall during opening practice. The 2011 Brickyard 400 winner ranked 22nd on the leaderboard. Practice 1: Full results Denny Hamlin rose to the top of the leaderboard Friday morning in opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice as teams got their first taste of a new aerodynamic package at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hamlin drove the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota to a fast lap of 182.208 mph on the 2.5-mile track. The 34-year-old driver won the Coors Light Pole Award at the Brickyard in 2012. Jimmie Johnson , a four-time Brickyard winner, managed the second-fastest lap at 181.796 mph in the 85-minute session, but the show of speed was tempered by a fuel-pressure issue that brought the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet to a halt on the track at the 50-minute mark of practice. He was pushed back to the garage with help from the No. 14 Chevy of Tony Stewart . Defending Sprint Cup Series champion and current points leader Kevin Harvick was third-fastest at 181.756 mph in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet in preparation for Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM). Five-time Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon was fourth-fastest at 181.444 mph in preparation for his final race at the historic speedway. Gordon prevailed in the inaugural NASCAR race at Indy in 1994 and triumphed last season to top the series' all-time win list at the 2.5-mile track. Stewart, a two-time Brickyard winner, completed the top five on the leaderboard. With new aero devices in place to make the cars less smooth through the air, Hamlin's speed was significantly slower than Matt Kenseth 's 186.285 mph lap that led first practice at the Brickyard last year. The lap was also off the 188.470-mph pace set by Kevin Harvick in Coors Light Pole Qualifying at Indianapolis in 2014. The new high-drag rules package was designed with the hopes of promoting more side-by-side racing at the rectangular track, where passing has typically been difficult. The biggest aerodynamic change was to the rear spoiler, which was raised to a 9-inch height and capped by a new wicker bill on top. Though a portion of the larger spoiler is made of clear, hard Lexan plastic, a handful of drivers -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano among them -- complained of some visibility issues in their rear view. Chase Elliott , set to replace Gordon as a Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet next season, was 15th-fastest in preparation for the fourth Sprint Cup start of his career. His No. 25 Chevy from the Hendrick stables clocked a best lap of 179.939 mph. Former Indianapolis winner Paul Menard scraped the outside retaining wall at approximately the 30-minute mark, causing slight damage to the right side of the Richard Childress Racing No. 27 Chevrolet. After repairs, Menard was able to return to the track, setting the 21st-fastest lap. Two more practices are scheduled Friday for the Sprint Cup Series -- 1-2:25 p.m. ET and 4-5:55 p.m. ET, with both broadcast on NBC Sports Network. Coors Light Pole Qualifying, which will use single-car runs to set the 43-car field, is scheduled Saturday at 1:10 p.m. ET. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Edwards: "This is like the first practice session" BRISTOL, Tenn. -- More than one dozen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams spent Wednesday testing at Bristol Motor Speedway, preparing for next month's return when the high-banked, half-mile track hosts the Irwin Tools Night Race . "The surface here doesn't change a lot, but the groove changes a lot," Joe Gibbs Racing 's Carl Edwards said of the concrete racing surface during a break in the eight-hour session. "People end up racing right up against the fence. "We're not really able to do that today. Basically, this is like the first practice session (of a race weekend) -- when we show up (in August), the race track will be like this." Still, with only six races remaining before the field is officially set for this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup , any opportunity to improve one's chances for one of the six events isn't taken lightly. "Seventy-five percent (of what we do today) is relevant," Edwards said. "We're just not really able to run up there to that high groove." Edwards, a winner in this year's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, hasn't officially locked in a spot in the 16-team Chase field, but for he and a handful of others that have already won this year, it's a formality. Three of Edwards' 24 career wins in Sprint Cup have come at BMS and he was fast here on Wednesday. He also cut a tire down during the afternoon session, and contact with the wall did a bit of cosmetic damage to the No. 19 Toyota. "We know exactly what we were lacking when we came here the last race," he said, "so it gives us the opportunity to work on some things." In addition to Edwards, other teams taking part in the test were Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing ), Joey Logano ( Team Penske ), Aric Almirola ( Richard Petty Motorsports ), Ricky Stenhouse Jr . ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Paul Menard ( Richard Childress Racing ), David Ragan ( Michael Waltrip Racing ), Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Danica Patrick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Travis Kvapil (TMG), Kasey Kahne ( Hendrick Motorsports ) and Landon Cassill (Mike Hillman Racing ). Logano and Kahne are also previous winners at Bristol. Stenhouse is still searching for his first Sprint Cup win; the fast BMS track seems to suit his driving style. The 27-year-old has finished sixth or higher in his last three starts here. "It's just fun," Stenhouse Jr. said. "I like running the top, it kind of reminds me of a dirt track the way you can really kind of turn to the right getting into the corner once we get some rubber down on the top lane. We haven't gotten it quite high enough today, but we've worked pretty far up there." The RFR driver is 27th in points, and his fourth-place finish here earlier this year has been his only top 10. "Honestly, being 18th or 19th in points or where we are, if you don't have a win, you're still outside (the Chase)," he said. "I could be eight spots better and it really wouldn't do me any good other than obviously we're getting better finishes, better results." A two-time XFINITY Series champion, Stenhouse said the No. 17 team has improved -- "I think we're getting better," he said -- but the gap between his group and the leaders is still a wide one. "That's why we really kind of embraced coming to this test," he said. "It's been a good race for us in the past. Out of the races that are left, it's probably our best shot to catch a break. "We've been close (here); we know we're not exactly there yet. But we know if we make the right adjustments and get the car a little better, then we'll have the opportunity. And really, that's all you can ask for." The Irwin Tools Night Race is scheduled for Aug. 22 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule