The Rundown: Bristol driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Driver standings " Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway : 1. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . This says it all about Harvick's second win at Bristol: In 112 Cup races at the track, only four winners started farther back in the field than Harvick's 24th ( Elliott Sadler , 38th, 2001; Dale Earnhardt Jr ., 30th, 2004; Kurt Busch , 27th, 2002; Dale Earnhardt, 26th, 1999). Grade: A++ 2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse overcame a pit-road speeding penalty to tie his career-best finish, which also came at Bristol (2014). In fact, half of Stenhouse's six career top-five finishes have come at Bristol. Grade: A+ 3. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . It was a day of eighths for Hamlin: His eighth top five of the season and his eighth pit-road speeding penalty. He also had to make an unscheduled stop for a loose wheel that put him two laps down. Nice recovery, but he absolutely has to stick a fork in those pit-road speeding penalties before the Chase begins. Grade: A- 4. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon just avoided the big wreck on Lap 373 to post his first top five since Talladega in May. Also important: Dillon moved up two spots in the Chase standings to 13th, passing Ryan Newman and Chase Elliott . Grade: A 5. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Huge day for Buescher, who gets his second career top five -- both in the past three races -- and moves into the top 30 in points for the first time this season. Grade: A+ 6. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Debris piercing the right front of his car couldn't stop Edwards from getting his 14th top 10 of the season, one fewer than he had all of 2015. Grade: A 7. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Hard to believe, but Johnson's finish was only his second top 10 in the past 10 races. Grade: A 8. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray's Chase radar is on max. He's 15th in the Chase standings after his fourth top 10 in the past six races. Grade: A 9. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger posts back-to-back top 10s for the second time this season, the first time he has had multiple back-to-back top-10 finishes in a season in his Sprint Cup career. Grade: A 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . We don't have the space to list all the issues Logano and the No. 22 had to overcome Sunday. This top 10 was hard earned and well deserved. Grade: A 11. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . In the 801st and possibly final start of his career, Gordon gets his best finish in his fourth race as Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s sub. Grade: B 12. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne jumped over Kyle Larson in the standings and picked up ground on Ryan Newman , who leads Bayne by 35 points for the last spot in the Chase with three races to go before the field is set. Grade: B 13. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . With Chris Buescher entering the top 30, Kahne went from 11 points behind 16th place in the Chase standings to 39 points back. Grade: B 14. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola posted his best finish of the season since finishing 13th in Week 4 at Phoenix. Grade: B 15. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott's promising day took a hit when he was collected in the big wreck on Lap 373. On the flip side, he led 14 laps, his first laps led since Week 15 at Michigan. Grade: B 16. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . A miscommunication over the radio that resulted in an unscheduled green-flag pit stop didn't help matters. Grade: B- 17. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto posted the second-best finish of his young career despite being down three laps at one point because of a tire issue. His best finish? Sixth at Bristol in April. Grade: A 18. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott turned in his second-best finish of the season (12th at Fontana in Week 5). Grade: A 19. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell finishes in the top 20 in consecutive races for the first time in his 201-race Cup career. Grade: A 20. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Cassill finished 22nd in April to tie his best finish at Bristol. Sunday, he topped that. Grade: A 21. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan avoided disaster with a great evasive maneuver down low to avoid a spinning Kyle Busch on Lap 358. Grade: B 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick finished 22nd for the third time in the past four races. Her other finish in that stretch: 21st two weeks ago at Watkins Glen. Grade: C 23. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Bad luck found Truex again. He was running third on Lap 358 when he was collected in a wreck caused by Kyle Bush's spin and the No. 78 suffered heavy damage. His average running position of 9.6 was fifth best. Grade: A- 24. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson had an eventful day, and that’s not code for a great day. A pit-road speeding penalty, cut oil line, three on-track incidents (neither his fault) and untimely tire rub totally erased the benefit of having a super-fast car. Grade: B- 25. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears has one top 10 in 28 starts at Bristol giving him the lowest top-10 percentage among active drivers with at least 15 Cup starts at the track. Grade: C 26. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith brought out the third caution when he got into the wall on Lap 157; attrition enabled him to post a top-30 finish. Grade: C- 27. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson tied Regan Smith for the fewest green-flag passes with six. Grade: C- 28. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Pit-road penalties and tire problems carried (dropped?) the day. Still, Newman is 16th in the Chase standings with a 35-point cushion over Trevor Bayne with three races to go. Grade: D 29. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32, Go Fas Racing Ford. Earnhardt improved three spots from his debut at Bristol in April. Grade: C- 30. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . We'll let Tony sum up his final start at Bristol: "We had a wheel that was loose, and that messed our whole day up." Perhaps, but owner Tony got a win and was part of a double burnout with winner Kevin Harvick . Grade: D 31. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . A broken brake rotor put Bowyer into the wall on Lap 416. Grade D 32. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard was running in the top 10 when he got caught up in the aftermath of Kurt Busch 's spin and his car sustained a punctured radiator when he ran into Chase Elliott . That's Bristol. Grade: C- 33. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski was running third when Kurt Busch got loose in front of him, turned and Keselowski hit him hard. Keselowski had run among the leaders until the accident on Lap 373. Grade: C 34. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. The No. 98 spent time in the garage, and Whitt finished 58 laps off the pace. Grade: D 35. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney was caught up in the Kurt Busch wreck. As cars checked up, Blaney slammed into Matt Kenseth , who had been turned by Chase Elliott . Blaney returned to the track, but when the day ended he had little to show for a top-five starting spot. Grade: C 36. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise completed 416 laps, his fewest at Bristol since 2012, his rookie season. Grade: F 37. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . A so-so day at Bristol became a no-no day when Kenseth was collected in the Kurt Busch wreck. Since a four-race run of 1st, 13th, 3rd and 1st, Kenseth has now gone 42nd, 36th and 37th. That's Bristol, too. Grade: C 38. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Finally we come to the driver who miscalculated his move "by a few inches"and ignited the wreck on Lap 373 that collected 10 other cars. Busch later tweeted, "Tasted the checkers, pushed too hard too soon." No argument here. Busch had completed every lap run this season until Sunday. Grade: F 39. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch led a race-high 256 laps and owned the day until something broke in his car (his team will hear about that on Tuesday, he said). The No. 18 went into a soft spin, but it was met with a hard hit by Justin Allgaier that left Busch with his third DNF in his past four races at Bristol, all for crashes. Grade: C- 40. Justin Allgaier , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Subbing for Michael Annett (flu-like symptoms), Allgaier made his first Sprint Cup start of the season one day after finishing second in the XFINITY Series race at Bristol. Two days later he earned the wrath of Kyle Busch for plowing into him when Busch spun out on Lap 358. That's the high and lows of Bristol. Grade: F </p>
Kevin Harvick wins rain-delayed Bristol race
RELATED: Results " Standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Harvick gear BRISTOL, Tenn. – For most of the final 200 laps of Sunday's rain-interrupted Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway , Kevin Harvick was where he needed to be – out front and in control of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Behind Harvick, who took the checkered flag 1.933 seconds ahead of runner-up Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., the race was often out of control, as the essence of traditional Bristol made an emphatic appearance at the .533-mile concrete short track. Harvick's victory was his second at Thunder Valley, his second of the season and the 33rd of his career. It was the first Bristol victory for crew chief Rodney Childers and for Stewart-Haas Racing , whose co-owner, Tony Stewart , finished 30th after experiencing mechanical problems in his final run at the high-banked speedway. RELATED: See all of Harvick's victories "We should have won a lot of races this year, but we just had things not go our way," said Harvick, who was out front for 128 laps and pulled away for the win after a brief rain shower caused the ninth and final caution with 66 laps left. "We made mistakes, or whatever the case may be. But, to get back into Victory Lane here at Bristol feels really good. "We've had some good cars here over the last few years… We knew we had the performance that we needed to have in the cars pretty much every week. And it’s been one of those deals where things have just not gone exactly right. But to have the win now and just try to get that momentum before we get into the Chase and get things rolling is really what we needed." Denny Hamlin regained two lost laps to finish third, followed by Austin Dillon and Chris Buescher , who moved into 30th place in the standings with his fifth-place run. By virtue of his Aug. 1 victory at Pocono, Buescher will qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup if he's still in the top 30 three races hence, at the end of the 26-race regular season. Pole winner Carl Edwards finished sixth, with Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , AJ Allmendinger and Joey Logano completing the top 10. Stenhouse posted the best finish of the season for Roush Fenway Racing , running a paint scheme and wearing a helmet in honor of close friend Bryan Clauson, who lost his life because of injuries sustained in a midget car accident on Aug. 6. "We really wanted to get this Bryan Clauson tribute car in Victory Lane," Stenhouse said. "It just wasn't meant to be today. We made our car a lot faster throughout the race and came from two laps down to get back on the lead lap. "We missed some wrecks and gave it all we had. I thought we were matching the 4 car (Harvick) there lap for lap, but he got away from us, and we had to restart sixth there on that last restart, but it was an honor to drive this car." On an afternoon where rosin helped provide speed in the low groove, Harvick's most formidable competition disappeared before the finish of the event, which was suspended because of rain after 48 laps on Saturday night and resumed on Sunday after showers blew through the area by late afternoon. On Lap 358, Kyle Busch , who led a race-high 256 laps, spun in Turn 2, thanks to a broken suspension part. As Busch's No. 18 Toyota sat sideways at the exit from the corner, Justin Allgaier delivered the coup de grace, unable to avoid Busch’s car. Having started the race on Saturday in relief of ailing Michael Annett , Allgaier finished off Busch's Camry before ricocheting up the track and collecting the competitive cars of Martin Truex Jr . and Kyle Larson . RELATED: See what happened to the No. 18 of Busch "We've been having parts failures here, so something we've got to address and fix," Busch said. "I'm really tired of losing races here with parts falling apart, so they'll hear about it on Tuesday." Busch also had some choice words for Allgaier and his spotter. "I've been wrecking for half a lap and they just come on through and clean us out," he said. "That's stupid, so I don’t know – frustrating day. Let's go home." Allgaier said he tried to go low to avoid Busch but then tried to miss the No. 18 on the high side. "The No. 22 (Logano) ducked in front of me getting into (Turn) 1 and I had to jam on the brakes pretty hard," Allgaier said. "I got really loose and I was just trying to catch it. That's when the spotter was telling me that the No. 18 was spinning and he kept rolling down the hill. "So at first I committed to go below him, because I was already on the bottom, and then he was still coming down the hill, so I tried to go out around the outside of him and, unfortunately, I just didn't make it." Comparatively speaking, that wreck was a minor incident relative to the chaos that followed. Battling for the lead after a restart on Lap 372, Kurt Busch turned sideways in his No. 41 Chevrolet, clipped the side of Joey Logano 's Ford and collided with the No. 2 Ford of Brad Keselowski , who subsequently finished 33rd and lost the series points lead to Harvick. The contact between Busch and Keselowski ignited a wreck that involved 11 cars and eliminated Busch, Matt Kenseth and Sunoco rookie Ryan Blaney from the race. "I think I just missed the bottom groove by a few inches, got loose and the wreck was on," Busch said. "The way that our car was restarting it felt comfortable, it felt good. That inside with the (rosin), if you don't hit it exactly right you lose a lot of time. "I tried to make up for it and got loose… We had a win in our sights and I just drove the car at 101 percent instead of that 99. I just over-pushed the groove by a few inches. When you miss your line on a (rosin) grip level, you go for a ride." Notes: Harvick came from 24th on the grid to win the race, the deepest in the field a Bristol winner has started since Dale Earnhardt Jr . took the checkered flag from 30th in the 2004 Night Race… Three of Stenhouse's career top-five finishes have come at Bristol… There were 20 lead changes among eight drivers in a race that produced nine cautions for 106 laps. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Teams look for Chase edge at Chicagoland test
With the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup only one month away, several Sprint Cup Series teams will try to get a leg up on the competition at Chicagoland Speedway this week by taking part in an organizational test for the series. Thirteen teams are tentatively scheduled to make the trek to the 1.5-mile track for the two-day test initially scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 23-24. Because of weather in the area, the test was adjusted to an all day session on Tuesday running into the night. Drivers expected to be on hand are: -- Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet) -- Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet) -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr . ( Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford)--- Trevor Bayne filled in so Stenhouse could attend Bryan Clauson's services -- Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota) -- Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford) -- Joey Logano ( Team Penske No. 22 Ford) -- David Ragan ( BK Racing No. 23 Ford) -- Ryan Newman ( Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet) -- Chris Buescher ( Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford) -- Brian Scott ( Richard Petty Motorsports No. 44 Ford) -- Michael Annett ( HScott Motorsports No. 46 Chevrolet) -- Jimmie Johnson ( Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet) -- Michael McDowell (Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Chevrolet) Chicagoland is scheduled to host the opening Chase race, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, on Sunday, Sept. 18 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) That the test will be held so close to the race date "is huge," said six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson . "To be on the track in close proximity when we go back and race, we obviously have a lot going on just as all teams do trying to gear up and get ready for the Chase," he said. Johnson has 14 career starts at the 1.5-mile track, but it is one of four -- along with Watkins Glen, Homestead and Kentucky -- where he has yet to win. "We have all these great machines that simulate on-track activity at the shop but until you take it to the race track and put it to use you have no idea if it's really paying off," he said. "So we're looking to validate quite a few things and hopefully we get sunshine and really true conditions to what we'll see when we come back for the race." The Chicago test is the fourth of five organizational tests for Sprint Cup Series teams this season. The remaining test is scheduled at Homestead Miami Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 18-19.
Watch: Live post-race inspection on Tuesday
RELATED: Watch the live stream here " Bristol results NASCAR.com will live stream post-race inspection Tuesday from 8-11:30 a.m. ET at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. Tune in for a three-hour view of the inspection floor of the 61,000-square-foot shop, bringing you behind the scenes as NASCAR officials tear down and inspect Sprint Cup Series vehicles following Sunday's rain-delayed race at Bristol Motor Speedway . The two cars selected for further evaluation at the R&D Center this week are: -- The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of race winner Kevin Harvick -- The No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of race runner-up Ricky Stenhouse Jr . For more details about the inspection process, click here .
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Owner Standings
After Race 23 of the 2016 season at Bristol Motor Speedway Pos Owner Car # Points Ldr Nxt PPos G/L Wins Attempts 1 Stewart-Haas Racing 4 762 0 -- 2 1 2 23 2 Team Penske 2 735 -27 -27 1 -1 4 23 3 Stewart-Haas Racing 41 692 -70 -43 3 0 1 23 4 Joe Gibbs Racing 19 689 -73 -3 5 1 2 23 5 Team Penske 22 684 -78 -5 6 1 1 23 6 Joe Gibbs Racing 18 674 -88 -10 4 -2 4 23 7 Joe Gibbs Racing 11 659 -103 -15 7 0 2 23 8 Furniture Row Racing 78 630 -132 -29 8 0 1 23 9 Hendrick Motorsports 48 612 -150 -18 10 1 2 23 10 Joe Gibbs Racing 20 604 -158 -8 9 -1 2 23 11 Richard Childress Racing 3 596 -166 -8 13 2 0 23 12 Hendrick Motorsports 24 588 -174 -8 12 0 0 23 13 Chip Ganassi Racing 1 583 -179 -5 14 1 0 23 14 Richard Childress Racing 31 576 -186 -7 11 -3 0 23 15 Hendrick Motorsports 88 575 -187 -1 15 0 0 23 16 Stewart-Haas Racing 14 552 -210 -23 16 0 1 23 17 Roush Fenway Racing 6 541 -221 -11 18 1 0 23 18 Chip Ganassi Racing 42 537 -225 -4 17 -1 0 23 19 Hendrick Motorsports 5 537 -225 0 19 0 0 23 20 JTG Daugherty Racing 47 518 -244 -19 21 1 0 23 21 Roush Fenway Racing 17 514 -248 -4 22 1 0 23 22 Wood Brothers Racing 21 508 -254 -6 20 -2 0 23 23 Roush Fenway Racing 16 441 -321 -67 24 1 0 23 24 Stewart-Haas Racing 10 432 -330 -9 25 1 0 23 25 Richard Childress Racing 27 431 -331 -1 23 -2 0 23 26 HScott Motorsports 15 407 -355 -24 26 0 0 23 27 Richard Petty Motorsports 43 406 -356 -1 27 0 0 23 28 Germain Racing 13 375 -387 -31 28 0 0 23 29 Front Row Motorsports 38 355 -407 -20 29 0 0 23 30 Circle Sport-Leavine Family 95 344 -418 -11 30 0 0 23 31 Front Row Motorsports 34 328 -434 -16 32 1 1 23 32 BK Racing 23 315 -447 -13 31 -1 0 23 33 Tommy Baldwin Racing 7 293 -469 -22 33 0 0 23 34 Richard Petty Motorsports 44 291 -471 -2 34 0 0 23 35 BK Racing 83 245 -517 -46 36 1 0 23 36 Premium Motorsports 98 234 -528 -11 35 -1 0 23 37 HScott Motorsports 46 203 -559 -31 37 0 0 23 38 GO FAS Racing 32 195 -567 -8 38 0 0 23 39 Premium Motorsports 55 145 -617 -50 39 0 0 18 40 The Motorsports Group 30 120 -642 -25 40 0 0 23 41 Front Row Motorsports 35 46 -716 -74 41 0 0 3 42 Circle Sport - Leavine Family 59 26 -736 -20 42 0 0 1 43 BK Racing 93 11 -751 -15 43 0 0 4 44 BK Racing 26 3 -759 -8 44 0 0 1 45 Hillman Racing 40 0 -762 -3 45 0 0 1
Kevin Harvick signs long-term deal with Stewart-Haas Racing
RELATED: Harvick through the years Stewart-Haas Racing announced Thursday that it has signed Kevin Harvick to a long-term contract extension, scuttling any outlying speculation about his future with the team. Details of the deal were not released. Harvick, 40, is in his third year with the SHR No. 4 Chevrolet team and crew chief Rodney Childers. Harvick won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in 2014, his first year with the operation co-owned by Tony Stewart and Gene Haas. "It was a big decision to join Stewart-Haas Racing and it has turned out to be my best decision," Harvick said in a release provided by the team. "I came to Stewart-Haas Racing to win championships. We have one, but that only made us hungry for more. I'm very happy to have my future secure with a team so dedicated to winning." Thursday's news quashes speculation that Harvick might leave the team, which is moving from Chevrolet to Ford for the 2017 season. Harvick has made 550 starts in NASCAR's top division, all in Chevrolets. "Kevin's results speak for themselves, and in addition to those numbers, he brings a presence to our team that makes everyone want to work harder," Stewart said in the release. " Kevin Harvick has made Stewart-Haas Racing a better team and he will continue to be an integral part of our future." Childers signed a multi-year contract with the No. 4 team last June. Thursday's announcement promises to keep one of the series' most successful driver-crew chiefs pairings together for the indefinite future. Harvick has notched nine of his 32 career Sprint Cup wins in Stewart-Haas equipment. Since making the transition to SHR, he has finished first (2014) and second (2015) in the driver standings, and ranks as the top point-earner so far this season. Harvick will address the media Friday at 1:15 p.m. ET in the media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway , site of Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (9 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM). Video of the news conference will be live-streamed on NASCAR.com.
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-Haas , Joe Gibbs Racing secure fourth Charters
RELATED: Who has the 36 Charters? " Fast facts about charters DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Stewart-Haas Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing have each obtained an additional Charter for their respective teams, a move that will guarantee NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kurt Busch (SHR) and Carl Edwards (JGR) a starting spot in all 36 points races each week. Officials with both teams made the announcements separately via social media (Twitter) Saturday afternoon. Securing the Charters was expected. Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman said earlier this week that Charters awarded to his organization, which ceased operations at the conclusion of the 2015 season, would likely be purchased by the Stewart-Haas and Joe Gibbs organizations. No purchase price was announced. NASCAR unveiled the new system Feb. 9, announcing a nine-year arrangement that not only will assure Charter teams a starting spot in the field but there will also be financial benefits generated by the move. Based on criteria developed by NASCAR and with input from the industry, Charters were awarded to 36 teams, each of which had attempted to qualify for all races since the start of the 2013 season. It was also announced that beginning this season Sprint Cup Series fields would feature 40 cars rather than 43 as had previously been the case. As a result, there will be four remaining positions in the field each week to be filled by Open (non-Charter) teams. Those will be determined as they have been in previous years, based on qualifying speeds. SHR was awarded three Charters for its Nos. 4, 10 and 14 teams; the No. 41 team did not debut until 2014. Likewise JGR was awarded three Charters for its Nos. 11, 18 and 20 teams, and sought a fourth for the No. 19, which debuted with Edwards last season. Charters may be sold or leased (a one-time transfer), with NASCAR approval, and HScott Motorsports owner Harry Scott opted for the latter in order to obtain a Charter for his No. 46 team with driver Michael Annett . Scott announced Friday that he had reached an agreement with Premium Motorsports owner Jay Robinson for use of that team's Charter for the 2016 season. HScott, a two-team organization, was awarded one Charter, assigned to the No. 15 team of Clint Bowyer , meaning Annett would have to qualify for all races this season. Premium Motorsports will continue to field a Sprint Cup entry. Cole Whitt will attempt to qualify the team's No. 98 Toyota in the field for next week’s season-opening Daytona 500
Stewart-Haas Racing zeroes in on digital dash
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams will adjust to a new innovation wrinkle this season, making use of a digital dashboard display that will replace long-used analog gauges. True to the competitive spirit in the NASCAR garage, one team might have a leg up on the rest. Stewart-Haas Racing was the first to apply the technology in actual race conditions, deploying the digital display in Kurt Busch 's No. 41 Chevrolet last September at Darlington Raceway . For the No. 41 team to blaze the trail created an interesting juxtaposition at the South Carolina track. Here was one of NASCAR's most tech-savvy teams making an early embrace of one of the sport's newest technological leaps, but hosting the coming-out party at stock-car racing's oldest superspeedway with one of the most old-school crew chiefs in Tony Gibson leading the charge. "We got on it," Gibson said last week during NASCAR's annual Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. "… We didn't want to go to Daytona and have, 'What have we got? How does the layout want to be in this dash?' So we worked out all the bugs in ours before the end of the year. Kurt had his own layout and what he wanted to see, and he knows how to run it. We had to move some things around, work some bugs out like everybody else." Other teams followed suit, taking advantage of last season's breaking-in phase as an audition for a NASCAR-mandated rules change in 2016. A quick canvass of drivers and crew chiefs during last week's media tour revealed that some teams still have some fine-tuning to do before cars hit the track for opening Sprint Unlimited practice Feb. 12 at Daytona International Speedway . If the pattern of Stewart-Haas being ahead of the game in the offseason sounds familiar, it should. In a pivotal December 2013 test session with the new driver/crew chief pairing of Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers, SHR's No. 4 team was the class of the field in quickly adapting to the next season's rules package -- a transition that eventually netted the 2014 Sprint Cup championship. "Anything new, you have to put time into it and understand it, and I'm thankful to have that opportunity with Stewart-Haas to have the engineering department, to have a dedicated guy who's working with McLaren on the software and to be able to find new things," Busch said. "Even with us running it last year at Darlington and then the next time I tested it in January, so many new chapters, categories and things were opened up for us to look at. "I'm just glad that I feel like we've done our homework and put our time invested into it to where we won't have problems with it and we're going to succeed with it and not have it be an issue or a distraction on race weekends." The next step for teams beyond making sure the system works: Getting the most out of the information. The existing settings -- tachometer; voltage; water and oil temperatures; oil, water and fuel pressures -- will all be accessible, but delivered on one of 16 different preset displays. Teams will be able to drill down and customize each preset based on driver preferences. The first full-field implementation of the digital display is just weeks away, but NASCAR competition officials say the new system has room to grow. Tire-pressure sensors have been tested ahead of a 2017 rollout, with the potential to help teams make educated decisions about air pressure and other adjustments during pit stops. Tire sensors aren't yet approved for competition, but Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck says he's hopeful for other advancements in distributing the dashboard data beyond drivers and teams. "The exciting part about it is the possibilities of the future," Buck said. "... Integrating it with the fans, integrating it with (the media), the data that we have on race cars available to us and be able to tailor that and get it out to the fans. That's what makes it exciting to me."
Tony Stewart injury update from Stewart-Haas Racing
RELATED: Stewart hospitalized with injury " Stewart to miss start of Cup season KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Feb. 4, 2016) -- Tony Stewart , driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, sustained a burst fracture of the L1 vertebra in an all-terrain vehicle accident Sunday while vacationing on the West Coast. Stewart was transported to a local hospital following the non- racing accident and promptly evaluated. He was awake and alert throughout the process and able to move all of his extremities. Stewart flew to North Carolina Tuesday evening and was admitted to a Charlotte-area hospital for further evaluation. On Wednesday, he underwent surgery. The subsequent recovery period means Stewart will miss the beginning of the Sprint Cup season. A timetable for Stewart's return has not been determined, but he is expected to make a full recovery and return to the No. 14 Chevrolet in 2016. Plans for an interim driver have not been finalized. MORE: Stewart: Full coverage of ATV accident