Custer excited to join Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017
Cole Custer says he's excited to join Stewart-Haas Racing's XFINITY Series team in 2017 but is also still focused on winning this year in the Camping World Truck Series.
Stewart not interested in playing numbers game
RELATED: Updated Chase Grid " Who's on the bubble? " Series standings CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Crunch the numbers. Do the math. But don't bother telling Tony Stewart the potential scenarios required for him to advance to the Round of 12 in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . You'd be wasting your time and his time, too. The only scenario Stewart, 45 and three times a Sprint Cup Series champion, cares about is the one that ends with him and his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team celebrating in Victory Lane this weekend at Dover International Speedway . "All we can do is go out and do the best we can this weekend," Stewart said Wednesday during a daylong media stop in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. "It still amazes me how people can take something that's so simple and make it so complicated. 'Will we be watching where everybody else is?' "Well yeah, I can waste my time and do that but … I've got to focus on winning the race. Because if I win the race I don't have to worry about where they're at. But if I go and do everything I can to try and win the race and I finish second, then wherever they are is wherever they are. I can't control those guys on the race track so why focus your attention on it? It's a waste of time." The 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is the final one for Stewart. He'll remain involved in the series as co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing , which fields four Sprint Cup teams and one that will debut a NASCAR XFINITY Series entry next year. He's a track owner, team owner and competitor in other series -- some NASCAR-affiliated, some not -- as well. But his quest for a fourth title rests solely on the outcome of Sunday's Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). A 16-driver field that began the Chase two weeks ago will be trimmed to 12 after Dover, and Stewart will arrive Friday 15th on the Chase Grid. His approach to what could be his final race as a title contender will be no different than any other weekend. "There is no mindset to it," he said. "The most realistic mindset to go into it with is the same approach you go into it with every weekend of the year and that's to go try to win the race. If you don't, get the best finish you can get out of it. That's not glamorous and that's not what you want to hear … but it's literally that simple. Go try to win the race. Do everything you can to win the race. If you can't win the race, try to finish second. If you can't finish second, try to finish third. It is as simple as it can possibly get." That Stewart is in this predicament is something of a surprise, given the strong summer run that saw him collect six top-10 finishes, including a win at Sonoma , in eight races. The No. 14 team, headed up by crew chief Mike Bugarewicz, seemed primed for a possible run at yet another title. RELATED: See all of Stewart's victories But the results of the most recent six races weren't nearly as impressive, with no finish higher than 16th. "These things are such science projects," Stewart said of today's cars, "and pretty much the whole (SHR) organization fights the same thing. It's whichever one can find the solution first." Teammate Kevin Harvick has guaranteed himself a spot in the Round of 12 with a win this past weekend at New Hampshire and Kurt Busch can advance either by points, depending on his finish, or with a victory. Teammate Danica Patrick is the only SHR entry not in the Chase field. RELATED: Harvick surges late for Loudon win "We're going to have to rely on Kevin and Rodney (Childers, crew chief), Kurt and (Tony) Gibson (crew chief) for sure and do the best we can," Stewart said. "We weren't totally terrible at the spring race but definitely have to be better than we were to get done what we need to get done." Scenarios? Talk to Stewart at Homestead, if he happens to be one of the championship four. That's when he'll be more aware of such things. "When you get to the last race of the year and you're racing for a championship and you've got enough of a lead that no matter what, if you finish from here on up, then yeah, you think about that," he said. "But that’s not the scenario we're in." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Five to Watch: Potential XFINITY drivers for Stewart-Haas Racing
Who might Stewart-Haas Racing turn to drive its XFINITY Series car in 2017? NASCAR.com has a few ideas.
Stewart's Fathead makes post-race presser cameo
New Hampshire winner Kevin Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers had some company during their post-race winners press conference. Harvick's son Keelan, a couple cans of beer and Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner and driver Tony Stewart 's Fathead. No, literally. There was a cardboard Fathead of Stewart -- identical to the ones several fans held up in the grandstands at New Hampshire Motor Speedway -- sitting humorously in front of the beer. Let it be noted that good dad Kevin removed the beer from Keelan's reach. Guess that means more for "Smoke" -- cheers, Tony!
All 16 Chase cars clear post-race inspection
WATCH LIVE: Inspection from the R&D Center at 8 a.m. ET RELATED: Full race results LOUDON, N.H. -- Only Kevin Harvick emerged victorious Sunday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , but his other 15 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff foes salvaged some shred of consolation alongside him. All 16 championship-eligible cars won the race after the race Sunday, clearing without issue through the Laser Inspection Station (LIS) platform after the Bad Boy Off Road 300. Those cleared included the winning Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet driven by Harvick, who damaged his car's left-rear fender with a smoky, tire-ripping burnout after his third victory of the season. Only the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota of third-place finisher Kyle Busch went through the inspection bay a second time, and that was due to the car failing to meet the weight limit by a nominal amount. After topping off fluids as permitted in the rules, the No. 18 also was cleared. Scrutiny for the post-race inspection process rose after last weekend's Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway , leading to midweek rules updates from NASCAR's competition department. Last weekend, the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 of race winner Martin Truex Jr . and the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 for Jimmie Johnson both were flagged for being outside of the allowable measurements at the LIS station. NASCAR officials responded by scratching penalties for minor infractions. But they also required the full Chase field to make its way through the LIS inspection bay, a process that added a sidelight to the usual busy atmosphere in the post-race garage area. Following stern warnings in the pre-race drivers' and crew chiefs' meeting against circumventing the LIS platform, the new post-race check was largely a breeze. All 16 cars received a thumbs up from competition officials in a tidy span of roughly 45 minutes. As is customary, race officials announced that they would take a handful of cars back to the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, for further inspection. Those are: -- Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet driven by race winner Kevin Harvick -- Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota driven by runner-up Matt Kenseth -- Team Penske No. 2 Ford driven by fourth-place finisher Brad Keselowski That process will be live streamed on NASCAR.com on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET. RELATED: Watch live inspection here
Harvick charges to New Hampshire win with late-race surge
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Updated Chase Grid SHOP: Harvick gear " Chase gear LOUDON, N.H. -- Remember last week, when Kevin Harvick was trapped a lap down at Chicagoland Speedway , finished 20th and fell out of the top 12 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings? Remember last year, when Harvick crashed at Chicagoland and ran out of fuel while leading at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and had to win at Dover to advance in the Chase? That's all moot, now that Harvick redeemed himself with a victory in Sunday's Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire, the second race in the Chase. Surging ahead of Matt Kenseth after a restart with six laps left in the 300-lap event at the 1.058-mile track, Harvick pulled away to win by .442 seconds and joined Chicagoland winner Martin Truex Jr . in the Chase's Round of 12. "One of our main goals this year was to not stress ourselves out so bad," said Harvick, who won last year's Dover race to escape the Round of 16 in his last opportunity. "I feel like the performance of the car and the things that we're doing are good enough to be competitive, and we just need to not make mistakes and go from there." Harvick got his opportunity to win the race when Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and Reed Sorenson collided on the backstretch on Lap 291 to bring out the sixth and final caution of the race. Starting on the inside lane and timing the restart perfectly, Harvick stayed side-by-side with Kenseth entering the first corner and cleared Kenseth's No. 20 Toyota through Turn 2. Kenseth was unable to get back to the rear bumper of Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet over the final six laps. "Man, that worked out really good," said Harvick, who won for the second time at the Magic Mile, the third time this season and the 34th time in his career. "The car was pretty good on the restarts. Once we got clean air there at the end, it wound up being really good up front. I'm just really proud of our team. They did a great job." NASCAR admonished Kenseth before the final restart not to slow down in the restart zone, as the sanctioning body believed he had done on the previous restart, when Kenseth held off Truex for the lead. "They made it sound like I slowed down the last time," Kenseth said. "But in my opinion, the leader is always supposed to have the advantage. He's the leader. He earned that advantage. They said I slowed down a little bit last time, which I've got to re-watch it. "I don't really think I did, but if I did at all, it's because the inside car (Truex) was laying back a little bit, and you want to make sure he gets up to your nose so it's a fair restart. If he's back at your door and anticipates a little bit, it's not a fair restart. He's going to be equal to you or a little bit better." Then Kenseth second-guessed the way he handled the final restart with Harvick beside him. "I saw Kevin at my door, and I should have known better," Kenseth said. "I should have went deep in the box and waited, and the acceleration was probably better down there anyway, but I didn't. I went right at the first line, and he anticipated a little bit of that and got rolling good through the gears, and then I got through the gears bad. I spun the tires in second (gear), I spun the tires in third, so I had a really bad restart besides all that." Kyle Busch finished third behind Harvick and Kenseth after pitting for fresh tires under caution on Lap 265 and charging through the field. Brad Keselowski ran fourth and took over the Chase points lead by one point over Truex, who led a race-high 141 laps in a seventh-place run but wore out his tires trying to pass Kenseth after a restart on Lap 269. Kurt Busch came home fifth, followed by polesitter Carl Edwards , Truex, Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson . Harvick escaped the bottom four in the standings, and that left Jamie McMurray , Austin Dillon , Tony Stewart and Chris Buescher all needing to improve their positions to avoid elimination next Sunday at Dover International Speedway . McMurray and Dillon (19th and 16th, respectively, at New Hampshire) are five points behind Larson in 12th place. Stewart is 11 points back of Larson after a 23rd-place run on Sunday, and Buescher trails by 30 points, needing a Dover miracle. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Penalties hamper Nemechek, NEMCO team in Chase
NASCAR issued penalties Thursday to the No. 8 NEMCO Motorsports team and Camping World Truck Series driver John Hunter Nemechek for P2 infractions found last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Nemechek's No. 8 Chevrolet failed to meet the minimum ride height during an inspection after last Saturday's UNOH 175 , the opening race of the Camping World Truck Series Chase playoffs. Competition officials docked the team 10 championship points in both the owners' and drivers' standings. The penalty dropped Nemechek, who rallied from an early spin to finish ninth last weekend, from fourth to seventh on the Chase Grid with two races remaining before cuts are made to the championship-eligible field. NASCAR officials also fined crew chief Gere Kennon $6,000 and NASCAR probation for the crew chief continues through Dec. 31, 2016. It's the second such violation this season for the NEMCO team, which also failed the ride-height minimum at Iowa Speedway in June for a P2-grade infraction. NASCAR abandoned ride-height rules for its Sprint Cup Series ahead of the 2014 season. Those restrictions remain in effect for its other two national series. This week's penalty report for the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series was marked by written warnings and lesser violations. From the Sprint Cup Series race weekend in New Hampshire, the following teams were cited: -- The No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing team of driver Regan Smith received written warnings for failing pre-race LIS twice and pre-qualifying LIS twice. -- The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team of driver Kevin Harvick , No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team of driver Kasey Kahne , No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing team of driver Greg Biffle and No. 83 BK Racing team of driver Matt DiBenedetto all received written warnings for failing pre-qualifying LIS twice. -- The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team for driver Denny Hamlin received a written warning for failing pre-qualifying template inspection twice. The pre-qualifying LIS failures of Nos. 4, 5, 7 and 16 teams were each their third infractions, meaning the next such infraction will see those teams penalized with the last selection of a pit stall on the weekend that violation occurs. Of those cars, only the 4 of Harvick is in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Warnings from the XFINITY Series' event at Kentucky Speedway : -- The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team and No. 51 Jeremy Clements Racing team of driver Jeremy Clements received written warnings for failing pre-race LIS twice. Warnings from the Camping World Truck Series' event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway : -- The No. 50 MAKE Motorsports team of driver Travis Kvapil received a written warning for failing pre-race template inspection four times and also a loss of 15 minutes of practice time this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway .
What it's like to be a NASCAR interior specialist
In the third instalment of the Mobil 1 "Our Normal Drives" video series on NASCAR.com, the Official Motor Oil of NASCAR gives fans a look at a "normal" day for two Stewart-Haas Racing interior specialists. Check out how Kyle Anderson and Justin Peiffer work behind the scenes with drivers. Watch today's video, which is part of NASCAR Inside Track presented by Mobil 1 , then come back throughout the season for more in-depth looks at NASCAR from Mobil 1.
Harvick knows what to do when backed into corner
RELATED: Chase bubble heading into Loudon One race into NASCAR's 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the championship standings are thoroughly scrambled and causing double-takes. Some favorites are shaking their heads and some long shots are thanking their lucky stars. But as rough as stomaching a 20th-place finish in the Chicago opener was for the regular-season points leader Kevin Harvick , there is still every reason to believe it could just provide a more dramatic backdrop for another championship run. Harvick finished 42nd in the Chicago race last year and still advanced to the final round of drivers competing for the big trophy at Miami. In fact, the 2014 Sprint Cup champion Harvick is the only driver who has advanced to the final round in both seasons of the new Chase format. Obviously, his Stewart-Haas Racing team feels urgency to get back on track this weekend in New Hampshire. Harvick is ranked 14th -- a single point behind his team owner Tony Stewart in the 12th and final position to advance in two weeks. But this group knows it can restore its title run, having crawled out of a deeper hole last fall and still finishing runner-up in the championship. It's a steely, forward-focus mindset that has served the intensely competitive Harvick well. "It's something we pride ourselves in," Harvick said this week. "I think the pressure situations have been very good for us. As you look at the past two years -- winning the championship and finishing second and getting to Homestead twice -- it kind of shows the grit and backbone of our team and how well they've dealt with those situations. "That experience definitely pays dividends every year when you go in. I think we were a little too ramped up, or at least I was, to start the Chase last year. There's definitely a strategy to how you approach situations and how you approach the end. I think, having dealt with that in the past, that it's a good thing for us." Harvick's track record at New Hampshire is impressive, if not A-plus. He won a race from the pole position in 2006, has led 698 total laps on the 1.058-mile track and never had a DNF. He's had top-four finishes in three of the last four races in New Hampshire and was fourth there in July. While some consider the track to be a unique wild card, Harvick insists it's of equal challenge as the rest of the schedule. "I don't think Loudon is really any different than any other racetrack," Harvick said. "It's just circumstances that can crop up at really any racetrack throughout the Chase. ... If you're having a bad day, you know it can result in a bad day. You just have to overcome that and try to get yourself out of the hole." That is something Harvick has done well in the past, and it's his overall standing in Sprint Cup competition that is more indicative of his potential than last week's circumstantial disappointment. He accumulated the most regular-season points of anyone. He leads the series in 11 different categories, including top fives (13), top 10s (21), driver rating (109.1) and average finish (8.9). He has four runner-up finishes this season, including Charlotte and Kansas, where the series returns during the Chase. Since 2014, Harvick and his crew chief Rodney Childers have a series-best 33 top-two finishes, 10 of those wins. That translates into 33.7 percent of all the races in that time frame. The disappointing outcome at Chicago can be viewed as both an anomaly and a motivator. There is no way Harvick's competition is writing him off. In fact, they are probably more worried when he is more driven. "You just have to be selfish," Harvick said after the Richmond regular-season finale. "You have to do what's best for your team, worry about the consequences when all the dust settles, and you have to be narrow minded, not listen to anything, and do whatever it takes to figure out how to make the best performance on that particular day because every point matters. "This is a minute-by-minute battle." And Harvick knows time is ticking for the 4-team. MORE: Is Harvick a good fantasy play this week?
Nos. 16, 43 receive penalties post-Chicago, others warned
NASCAR officials handed down a P3 penalty to both the No. 43 team of driver Aric Almirola and the No. 16 team of Greg Biffle on Wednesday for not having lug nuts properly installed during the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway . The infraction also brought fines of $10,000 to crew chiefs Drew Blickensderfer and Brian Pattie. The No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team received a written warning for failing the pre-race template inspection three times and lost 15 minutes of practice time. The fellow Stewart-Haas Racing cars of No. 10 Danica Patrick and No. 41 Kurt Busch received warnings for failing pre-race LIS. The cars of Brad Keselowski , Chase Elliott , Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman failed pre-race template inspection twice and received warnings. Other warnings or penalties issued after last weekend's events at Chicagoland included: The No. 2 XFINITY Series team was warned for failing pre-race template inspection three times. Kyle Busch 's No. 18 Camping World Truck Series team received a P2 penalty for having tailgate inspection height measurements outside NASCAR allowed tolerances. The No. 18 crew chief Wes Ward was fined $6,000 and the team docked 10 owner points.