JR Motorsports will make its Truck debut this weekend at Martinsville Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Kelley Earnhardt Miller appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Wednesday. Among other topics, she discussed JR Motorsports' first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race this weekend at Martinsville Speedway . Earnhardt Miller, co-owner of JR Motorsports, said earlier this year that there were no plans at that time to field the organization’s Camping World Truck Series team for any races beyond the 10 currently in place with driver Cole Custer . On Wednesday she said that was still the case, but also said Sprint Cup Series Dale Earnhardt Jr . had broached the subject of driving the truck. "He's definitely mentioned that that's something he might be interested in," Earnhardt Miller said. "I think he would want to see how the program is going to do, and make sure we have the resources and the capability to do that. Let Cole the team get off the ground first and see how that goes." The organization will make its CWTS debut this weekend at Martinsville Speedway , fielding the No. 00 Chevrolet for Custer in Saturday’s Kroger 250 (FOX Sports 1, 2:30 p.m. ET). The entry will carry sponsorship from Haas Automation and will be under the direction of crew chief Joe Shear Jr . Earnhardt Miller, Earnhardt Jr . and Sprint Cup Series team owner Rick Hendrick share ownership of JRM. One of the organization’s three full-time XFINITY Series teams features multiple Sprint Cup drivers, Earnhardt Jr ., Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne , behind the wheel for select events. Two other full-time teams feature drivers Chase Elliott and Regan Smith , who finished 1-2 in points, respectively, last season. "He (Earnhardt Jr .) and some others have expressed interest in running the truck," Earnhardt Miller said. “We’ve actually gotten calls from other people saying ‘do you want to fill out the balance of your schedule and run it full time?' "We really don't want to do that. We want to focus on Cole. If the opportunity exists to put a couple of the Cup drivers in there to make our program stronger, (that's) really why would we want to do that… "I won’t say it’s not going to happen but there aren’t any concrete plans for it to happen right now." Even though the XFINITY Series is taking a one-week break after five consecutive races to open the 2015 season, it is shaping up to be a big weekend for JRM. Custer, 17, made his NCWTS debut last season with Haas Racing Development and became the youngest winner in a NASCAR national series event when he won the UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . In only nine starts, he scored six top-10s and two poles. Elliott, the defending XFINITY Series champion, will attempt to make his Sprint Cup Series debut in Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville. The 19-year-old is scheduled to step into the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet in 2016, replacing four-time series champion Jeff Gordon . HMS will field a No. 25 entry for Elliott this weekend, with veteran crew chief Kenny Francis heading up the team. With Elliott already tabbed for the move to Sprint Cup next season, Custer could be auditioning for a full-time XFINITY Series ride with the organization. "Hopefully, that (truck effort) will roll into an XFINITY Series ride for Cole, depending on how he performs," Earnhardt Miller said. It will be the first start of the season for Custer, who is limited to competing on road courses and tracks 1.1 miles or less in length due to his age. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Kelley Earnhardt Miller talks about the circumstances it would take for Dale Earnhardt Jr . to run in the NCWTS.
Driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet earns fourth top-six result in five races Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live FONTANA, Calif. -- Coming off a sixth-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway , Dale Earnhardt Jr . is feeling good. That finish is especially welcomed when just one week prior in the CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway , the 12-time NMPA Most Popular Driver Award winner suffered a tire failure that sent the No. 88 into the wall and to a last-place finish, demolishing his streak of three consecutive top-five finishes to open the season. "We're just glad to be able to rebound," Earnhardt Jr . said Sunday at Auto Club Speedway . "Last week was very dismal, disappointing and frustrating." Although Dale Jr . was the one piloting the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at Fontana, he has his team -- newcomers and old faces -- to thank for his performance on the oldest asphalt on the Sprint Cup Series schedule. "Greg's real sharp," Dale Jr . said referring to his crew chief, Greg Ives, who is in his first season atop the pit box for the No. 88 team. "He's still, you know, learning the ropes and taking everything in. He's a sponge, just absorbing everything he can. He's got a great help, too. Kevin Meendering is my lead engineer from last year. There's a lot of great information that Kevin already knows about me, what I like, don't like, what's worked for us in the past to make our cars work. So he's feeding off of that. I'm sure Kevin is giving him a lot of great information." Junior might still be adjusting to Ives, but his performances this season don't show a lack of familiarity between driver and pit boss as he is currently fourth in the driver standings with three top-fives and four top-10 finishes. The Sprint Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway for the STP 500 (March 29, 1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) next weekend where Dale Jr . won the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 in October of 2014, earning his first grandfather clock. "I'm surrounded by a bunch of great guys, a great crew," Earnhardt Jr . said. "Look forward to getting to the next race. We want to get a win, get that in the bank if we can." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Sam Hornish Jr . gets heavy damage after making contact with Trevor Bayne at Fontana.
Tony Stewart exchanges words with Martin Truex Jr . following the race at Auto Club Speedway.
Last fall's Martinsville winner optimistic this weekend as driver, owner
No. 88 driver has finished in the top four in all three 2015 races RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s string of three consecutive top-five finishes came to a halt here Sunday when the Hendrick Motorsports driver suffered a tire failure and crashed during the CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway . "Not a lot of guys are having tire problems," Earnhardt Jr . said after exiting the infield care center. "(Sam) Hornish had one similar to us. You just can't abuse it. We were really, really loose and just abused the tire. You want to get angry but you've got to get the balance of the car better. "A lot of guys are running without any problem. We were super, super loose; it just wore the tire out." The incident occurred on Lap 181 of the 312-lap race. According to Goodyear officials, the right-rear tire problem was the result of a melted bead and was the same issue suffered by Hornish, who had a tire go down earlier in the race. Earnhardt opened the season with top-five finishes at Daytona, Atlanta and Las Vegas and entered Sunday's race second in the points standings. Damage to the No. 88 Chevrolet was too extensive to try and repair and get the driver back out before the conclusion of the race. Earnhardt said crew chief Greg Ives had told him the team had seen no previous tire issues on previous stops Sunday. "We were progressively getting worse and worse on entry," Earnhardt said. "I imagine we put that set through hell compared to the other ones. "I like the tire a lot and I applaud Goodyear for trying to soften it up because the other tire we had here wasn't a lot of fun. This one is pretty good to race with, the car's still real, real hard to pass with. Shifting is a little annoying … it's a little bit of a pain in the ass to shift. "But the tire's OK. We were too loose. We’ve got to get the balance better.” Earnhardt was credited with a 43rd-place finish. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Wrapping up the week that was and look forward to the week ahead Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Hendrick Motorsports will have five teams vying for starting positions in Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway , but HMS officials aren't skirting the rules. Since 2006, NASCAR has limited Sprint Cup organizations to no more than four full-time teams. However, officials allow a fifth entry for a maximum of seven starts "for the purpose of enabling a rookie driver … to become familiar with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition." In addition to full-time teams for drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne , HMS will field a fifth entry for defending XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott at Martinsville. It will be Elliott's first attempt in the Sprint Cup Series, one of five scheduled for the 19-year-old this season. Elliott will also be entered in Sprint Cup races at Richmond (April 25), Charlotte (May 24), Indianapolis (July 26) and Darlington (Sept. 6). The No. 25 Chevrolet will carry sponsorship from NAPA and will be led by crew chief Kenny Francis. Elliott is slated to replace Gordon in the team's No. 24 Chevrolet beginning in 2016. It will be the first time an organization has fielded five Sprint Cup teams in one race since 2009 provided Elliott qualifies for the 43-car field. HMS fielded a fifth team on a part-time basis that season for driver Brad Keselowski -- his final start with HMS came at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October. Roush Fenway Racing was allowed to field five full-time teams through the end of '09 due to sponsorship agreements that were in place when the cap was announced three years earlier. MORE INSPECTION TIME ADDED • NASCAR will continue to incorporate additional time into the pre-qualifying inspection process as the Sprint Cup Series returns from a three-week West Coast swing and heads to Martinsville. Schedule adjustments at Las Vegas, Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway resulted in an additional 15 minutes of off-track time at each venue to allow teams to prepare and present their cars for pre-qualifying inspection and for officials to complete the inspection process. The move came in the wake of inspection delays at the season's second event, the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Thirteen cars were unable to complete the pre-qualifying inspection process in time to post an official first-round qualifying lap at Atlanta. Friday's schedule at Martinsville indicates changes from '14 that will provide an additional 10 minutes of time between the end of opening practice and the start of qualifying. Compared to last year's Martinsville spring race schedule, opening practice is now five minutes shorter (12-1:25 p.m. ET) and qualifying will being later (4:45 p.m. instead of 4:40 p.m.). In addition, in a NASCAR bulletin distributed to teams, the first round of Sprint Cup Series qualifying will now be 20 minutes at short tracks and intermediate tracks. This takes affect at Martinsville this weekend. NO PRACTICE PENALTIES • No teams required more than three attempts to pass pre-qualifying inspection at Auto Club Speedway , meaning none will be docked 15 minutes at the beginning of practice Friday at Martinsville. NASCAR notified teams earlier this year that any vehicle that fails qualifying inspection more than twice will be subject to a 15-minute practice penalty that will be applied during the opening practice of the next scheduled event. TIRES IMPOUNDED • NASCAR impounded the tires from four teams following Sunday's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway . Tires from the teams of Kevin Harvick and teammate Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), as well as teammates Ryan Newman and Paul Menard ( Richard Childress Racing ) went back to the NASCAR R&D Center for evaluation. Harvick and Busch finished second and third, respectively, while Menard finished fourth and Newman fifth. It marked the second time this season that NASCAR had impounded tires following a Sprint Cup Series event. The sanctioning body took tires from the teams of race winner Harvick and eighth-place finisher Joey Logano after this month’s Phoenix race. No issues with the Phoenix tires were found, according to NASCAR officials. Sunday's race was the first for teams with the new left-side tire code at Auto Club. There was no change in the right-side tires. • According to Goodyear, Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series teams will run the same Goodyear tire codes this weekend at Martinsville used when the two series visited the half-mile track last October. This particular tire is not used for any other events by the two series. PIT ROAD PENALTIES • Officials in NASCAR's Pit Road Officiating (PRO) trailer called 12 of the 22 penalties issued during Sunday’s Auto Club 400 , the second fewest through this year’s first five races. Six of the 12 were for tire violations -- failure to control an outside tire. Only Phoenix saw fewer total violations (19) and those made by officials in the PRO trailer (nine). There have been 158 penalties thus far this season, including 60 that were called by the PRO group. Officials in the tower continue to call infractions for speeding when entering/exiting pit road, pitting before pit road is open and various safety-related violations. Officials in the PRO trailer use video to respond to potential infractions such as too many crewmen in contact with the pit service area, crewmen over the wall too soon and pit box tire violations. PENALTIES FOR FONTANA INFRACTIONS • On Wednesday, NASCAR issued penalities for infractions during race weekend at Auto Club Speedway . Click here for penalties on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series No. 33 team, and click here for penalties on the NASCAR XFINITY Series No. 8 team. POST-RACE INSPECTIONS • Because of the schedule that saw teams competing at Las Vegas, Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway in consecutive weeks, final post-race inspection for entries from both Phoenix and Auto Club will be conducted Wednesday at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina. Both Stewart-Haas Racing entries of driver Kevin Harvick , which finished first and second at Phoenix and Auto Club, respectively, were sent back to the R&D Center as well as the cars of Auto Club winner Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske ) and Phoenix runner-up Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates). 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No. 78 Furniture Row driver starts the year off with two top-10 finishes Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live LAS VEGAS -- Martin Truex Jr . was all smiles after climbing out of his car on Las Vegas Motor Speedway pit road, his runner-up finish in the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet his best in two seasons with the team. And as happy as he was, you got the feeling Truex wasn't satisfied. He still wanted more. "I've finished second a lot in my career," Truex said, with a grin. "But this feels good and it's better than third … or 30th." And the very fact Truex is shooting higher than a runner-up effort shows how far this single-car team has come in a year. Truex' debut with the Furniture Row Racing Team included winning the outside pole for the 2014 Daytona 500 but he finished last in the race and it proved a harbinger of things to come. He scored five top-10s but had 11 finishes of 25th or worse and led only one lap on the season after contending for a Chase bid a year earlier with Michael Waltrip Racing . This year he started 10th and finished eighth in the Daytona 500 and answered that last week at Atlanta with a sixth-place finish. His runner-up at Las Vegas equals a runner-up finish in the non-points paying Sprint Unlimited race at Daytona in February and he also finished fifth in his Daytona 500 qualifying race. And Truex is fourth in the Sprint Cup Series championship standings, only five points behind Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano entering next week's race in Phoenix. Truex could only shake his head when asked to describe the difference between the start of 2015 and the disappointment of 2014. "You can't describe it," he said. "When things aren't going good, you have to just keep on going and going, and working and working harder. "It's no different than what Sherry was going through. You find out what people are made of when they're down," Truex said, referring to his longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex, who has undergone treatment for ovarian cancer in the past year. "After seeing all that and being a part of that, its was like, a bad year in the race car, that's nothing. Caring for Pollex through her difficult treatment and watching her will to persevere and strength to overcome has affected Truex greatly and inspired him mightily. It has given him a new perspective and re-defined what it means to "never give up." "When you get a glimpse of something that could possibly change your life like that in a bad way, it makes you look at things a lot differently," Truex said. "Suddenly those bad days at the race track weren't so bad. Suddenly they were okay and I knew that if we just kept working hard, we could get through it all and certainly I feel like we have now. "But we're going to continue to work hard and try to get to that next level. We want to win races. We have got a great team. We have got good equipment right now and it's important when you're in those positions to try to take advantage of that." Truex was quick to credit some major offseason changes for the early season results. He has a new crew chief, Cole Pearn, and says the team's technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing is maturing and paying off, as is simply having a year under his belt with the FRR team. Third-place finisher Ryan Newman , a RCR driver and sixth-place finisher, JTG Daugherty Racing driver A.J. Allmendinger are part of that RCR alliance. "Just getting more experience together, getting more confidence in each other and really just having a better game plan going into the season is a big part of the reason why the cars are running better and all the teams seem to be running closer together," Truex said. Asked if the rules changes to the cars may have played a role in his reversal of fortune and lent itself more to his driving style, Truex said it was simpler than that. "I attribute it to knowing what we were doing wrong last year and fixing it over the winter time and coming out of the box kind of understanding what we're doing. "The biggest thing I was proud of today or took way from it was we were off a little bit at the beginning of the race and worked on it all day long, continued to get better and at the end of the day we were the best we've been all day." He continued, "That's what you like to see out of your team; you like to finish strong. "Got a lot of momentum on our side right now and hopefully we can keep building on that, build some more momentum and hopefully we are able to catch that 4-car (Sunday's race winner and points leader Kevin Harvick ) in a couple weeks." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Fourth-place finish gives Earnhardt three straight top-four finishes to start '14 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live LAS VEGAS -- It all looks so easy, so effortless, when Dale Earnhardt Jr . and that No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet glide around the race track, snapping up the competition and soaring toward the front of the pack. Trust crew chief Greg Ives on this: It's not so simple. "It's been a lot of damn hard work," Ives said while walking through the garage following Sunday's Kobalt 400 , pausing to autograph a No. 88 hat. "We work hard. Everybody on the team does. Dale, me, the guys at the shop, the engineers, all those guys. They make it seem easy, but it's not." If that's the case, they're likely fooling a lot of folks. Once again, the No. 88 came off the hauler fast, this time in sun-splashed Las Vegas. Once again, it kept that speed on race day. Junior finished fourth Sunday, and it's his third consecutive top-five to start the year. It's the second consecutive year in which Earnhardt's group has notched that achievement, but this year's mark was set under the backdrop of change. Ives is just one piece of a rebuilt No. 88 puzzle as Junior's first-year crew chief -- the over-the-wall crew has three new members, too, yet there hasn't been a dip in either car speed or stops on pit road. "I think we were first, second, second (to start the season last year), so we have to step it up a little bit," Junior said with a laugh. "No, Hendrick, overall, has great speed and the engine department is doing awesome. We're having fun." Clearly. The veteran has been at-ease this entire season, and for the second year in a row at Las Vegas was pleased with a late-race gamble. Last year, it was a fuel strategy call that had Junior leading on the last lap, only to go dry on the final circuit and finish second. This year it was a two-tire call on the final round of green-flag pit stops, one that put him first when pit stops had cycled through. The dominant No. 4 Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick eventually caught and passed Junior, and Earnhardt wound up finishing fourth -- he was second at the time of the late pit stop. Still, it was the spirit in which that decision was made and not the subsequent loss of two spots that had Earnhardt excited. "We didn't put lefts (tires) on it; made it a gamble," he said. "I like to gamble. I liked the call. I love being aggressive. We weren't going to drive up there and pass that No. 4. So, we had to take a chance. Second, fifth, fourth, whatever; it really don't matter if you don't win." Wins may be coming soon, though, especially as Earnhardt continues to learn about his ability to adjust the track bar mid-race. After not finding it useful early on this season, he came out even more strongly in favor of it Sunday, making the self-adjusting track bar just another new thing that seems to work for this group. "We've been running the track bar pretty much even the whole race, and at the end there I had it down three inches on right side trying to save my butt," he said. "Maybe it was worn-out lefts, I don't know. The left side (tires) is new and a little softer compound maybe we just took it a little bit too far." Maybe, but as his late-race gamble shows, this group would rather take it a little too far than play it conservatively. They have the speed and the skill; it's those types of decisions, though, that often mean the difference between challenging for a win and, well, not. "This year, our cars are racing up there," Earnhardt said. "So, we think we've got the cars better than we had last year. But I want to win. We're going to get there." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView toda FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule