Dale Jr . will be on the No. 88 pit box at Dover
RELATED: Full schedule for Dover and Las Vegas Jeff Gordon isn't the only member of Hendrick Motorsports returning to the track this weekend. Dale Earnhardt Jr . will also be at Dover International Speedway , but in a much different capacity. Earnhardt Jr . said Monday on "The Dale Jr . Download" podcast on Dirty Mo Radio that he would be at Dover on Saturday and Sunday, and would sit on the No. 88 pit box on race day. Gordon returns as the substitute driver. "It's going to be kind of different, tough, maybe not a ton of fun," Earnhardt Jr . said. "It's a bit weird to be not in the car but at the track when you're a driver. You don't know what to do with yourself. But I'm going to try to support the guys and maybe learn a thing or two. "It's going to be different, but we'll see how it goes." Gordon, who retired following the 2015 season, has driven in six races this year in place of Earnhardt Jr . The four-time premier series champion will split time with Alex Bowman in the No. 88 for the remainder of the season. Earnhardt Jr . also provided an update on his recovery from a concussion. He said he had another evaluation with his doctor last week and continues to make progress. "The only thing that triggers the symptoms is going somewhere I'm unfamiliar, somewhere I've never been … somewhere where it's busy," Earnhardt said. "If I can find a busy place, if I go with (fiancée) Amy (Reimann) to the grocery store … that's basically rehab. "(But) it's getting better. My doctors talk about getting me back to where I can be a normal person, and then there's getting me back to being a race car driver. I'm almost back … to being a normal, functioning person with no issues. To become that guy I need to be inside the car, we really have to train my senses to be perfect." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Dale Jr gives health update heading into Dover
Dale Earnhardt Jr . gives a health update on the Dirty Mo Radio as he prepares to head to the race track this weekend to watch Alex Bowman drive his No. 88 car at Dover International Speedway.
Sam Hornish Jr . wants a win for RCR
RELATED: Meet the XFINITY Chase field SPARTA, Ky. – Sam Hornish may not be a threat in the NASCAR XFINITY Series inaugural Chase, but that doesn't mean the Richard Childress Racing driver isn't a concern. Saturday night's VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) officially kicks off the series' seven-race Chase. Hornish is making just his fourth start of the season, therefore he was not eligible for the 12-team Chase field. That hasn't keep him out of the winner's circle, however as he wheeled the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing to the win at Iowa. And in two subsequent starts with the No. 2 team for RCR, Hornish has finished sixth and second. He's making start No. 3 in the No. 2 Chevrolet for RCR here at Kentucky. And the 37-year-old was once again fast here Friday, clocking the third-fastest lap in each of the day's two practice sessions. Qualifying is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. ET on Saturday. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Erik Jones was quickest in both practice sessions. "It was pretty good," Hornish said of the results at day's end. "The car started off a little bit free in the afternoon, but it was so hot. I felt like we got just a little bit behind there in the last practice but our car is good, it's got decent balance; we just need a little bit to be able to run with the JGR cars." Hornish has four top-10 finishes in five XFINITY Series starts at the 1.5-mile Kentucky track. His racing career, which includes three IndyCar championships, got a major boost here in 2000 when he finished ninth after running out of fuel late in the race. That effort opened eyes and doors, and soon his open-wheel career was off and running. His NASCAR career has included stints in Sprint Cup and the XFINITY Series; he also has one start in the Camping World Truck Series. "Right now this is the last (race) I have scheduled ... we've had a good run," he said of the RCR arrangement. "It's a good car, they've got some wins and they continue to build momentum. I'd like to go to Victory Lane for them for sure. "They're running for an owners' championship so we have to be smart about everything we do as well." JGR teammates Jones and Daniel Suarez are seeded first and third in the Chase, respectively, with veteran Elliott Sadler ( JR Motorsports) wedged in between. Ty Dillon , teammate to Hornish, is seeded fourth while Justin Allgaier (JRM) is fifth. Darrell Wallace ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Brendan Gaughan (RCR), Brennan Poole ( Chip Ganassi Racing ), Ryan Sieg (RSS Racing), Ryan Reed (RFR), Brandon Jones (RCR) and Blake Koch (Kaulig Racing) round out the 12-team Chase field. "We were able to make some good gains mostly in race conditions," said Jones, who will be seeking his fifth win of the season on Saturday. "It wasn't so much that we needed the speed, we needed to find some drivability in it and I think we (did). ... "It's going to change a lot once it cools all the way down and we get into race conditions but I feel pretty good about it." Except for the number of races, the XFINITY Series Chase mirrors that of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, with three-race segments leading up to a one-race finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway .
Truex Jr . takes less, gives more to Furniture Row
RELATED: Inside the western rise of Furniture Row " Denver embraces its team JOLIET, Ill. -- How sincere was Martin Truex Jr . in his desire to stay with Furniture Row Racing during contract talks with team officials? Enough that the 36-year-old NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver agreed to work for less than he likely could have earned elsewhere. "There were other opportunities that were out there," Truex said Sunday after winning the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway . "I believe this is the best team I've ever had. This is my best opportunity to win races. We've proven that. It's my best opportunity, and really only my second opportunity, since last year, to go for a championship. That wasn't something I was willing to get rid of or throw away." While Furniture Row officials were in the midst of making the switch from Chevrolet to Toyota a year ago, a contract extension with Truex was also wrapping up. In late September, officials announced both agreements were in place. Then, in August of this year, the team announced a new, two-year extension for Truex. RELATED: Truex inks new deal at Furniture Row "I made the commitment to Barney we were going to do it, we were going to work together and make it work for everybody," Truex said of the arrangement. "Barney has put a lot into his race team over the years obviously. Seeing Furniture Row on that race car each and every year, that's Barney's race car and Barney is the one funding it. "He had to change some things in the way he was running his race team. He asked me if I would kind of, not take the hit but be the one that took a little bit of a hit for the team to make sure we could keep the competition up and make sure we could continue to get the things we needed to be competitive and win races and hopefully go after a championship." Visser started the Denver-based team from scratch in 2005, and has funded the single-car outfit for much of its existence through his own businesses. Others have come on board to help the cause and the switch from Chevrolet to Toyota has paid tremendous dividends. Sunday's victory was the third of the season for Truex and more importantly it came in the opening race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . He and the No. 78 team, run by crew chief Cole Pearn, are guaranteed to advance to the Round of 12 in the Chase. Prior to this season, Truex had three career wins. Furniture Row had two. The organization, which now receives technical support from Joe Gibbs Racing , will expand in 2017 with the addition of a second team and driver Erik Jones . RELATED: Furniture Row adds Jones to growing team The rise from a struggling single-car outfit to a championship contender didn't happen overnight. "Yeah, I do feel like I'm living a dream," Visser, a Vietnam veteran, said. "But that's why we do it. Most of the other things that I've done in life have been a little bit like this, but nothing right to the very top of the best racing in the world here. (It's) very exciting. "I have to thank Toyota and Martin. Like I said, I think he's a pure athlete. He drove for a little bit less this year than I think a lot of the drivers in his class have, and he did it because he wanted to be here. I can't thank him enough for all that."
Chase Bubble Watch: Truex Jr . safe after Chicago; Harvick anything but
RELATED: Full race results " Updated Chase Grid SHOP: Chase gear One race into the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and already some drivers are in bubble trouble. Let's find out which drivers went into their shells during the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, and who is sitting back, relaxing and chomping on pizza before New Hampshire. Who's hot: Martin Truex Jr .: He overcame a lot to win his first Chase race in the opener at Chicago. First, there was a shredded right-front tire that forced him to come to pit road and fall a lap down before the race was 90 laps old. He jumped back on the lead lap after a caution on Lap 119 and overcame Ryan Blaney on a restart in an overtime finish to pull away for the win. It was critical for Truex to do well on the intermediate track since two short tracks (New Hampshire, Dover) are up next in the Round of 16. Truex advances. (Note: The No. 78 failed post-race inspection but not to the level of an encumbered finish. Read more ) ... Chase Elliott : The Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate appeared to have his first Sprint Cup Series race in the bag before a caution on Lap 262 for an accident involving the No. 95 of Michael McDowell . In the ensuing pit stop, Truex beat Elliott off pit road, and after an overtime restart, the No. 24 finished third. Still, it's a great way to start the Chase, and with three top-10 finishes in his past four races, Elliott seems to have turned his season around at the right time. Who's not: Kevin Harvick : The 2014 champ charged up from the back after starting there for unapproved adjustments and was poised to contend for the victory. But bad luck struck when he pitted under green just before a caution flag came out on Lap 48. Harvick couldn't beat the leader to the start/finish line on pit road and fell a lap down. He had a good car but finished 20th (15th among the 16 Chase drivers). ... Kyle Larson : The first-time Chase participant got off to a bad start when he had to move to the back because of a transmission change prior to the race. However, Larson fought his way back into the top five late in the race before he reported the right side of the car feeling like it was about to go down. Crew chief Chad Johnston called him to pit road with seven laps to go and Larson finished 18th (14th among Chase drivers) and was 15th in the Chase standings heading to New Hampshire. Four in, four out: Here's a look at the Chase bubble, with four drivers being eliminated after the third race of this round, at Dover International Speedway .
Live-tweeting Dale Jr . is the best kind of Dale Jr .
Sassy Dale Earnhardt Jr . is the best Dale Earnhardt Jr . The No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports wheelman -- who is sitting out the remainder of 2016 to recover from a concussion -- chose to spend his downtime live-tweeting the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 . And he didn't disappoint. NASCAR's Most Popular Driver left no topics off the table and talked everything from fast food joints to his woes with autocorrect. Don't have time to head over to Junior's Twitter timeline? NASCAR.com breaks it down, giving you the best of his best. @jeff_gluck calm down — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 New @nationwide88 commercials are ok. ☺️ — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 . @JeffBurton plenty happy with cup driver at the wheel of @NASCARonNBC turd. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 My phone autocorrect trd to turd. https://t.co/Ocn5HPoX6y — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 Let me tell you @RickAllenracing . Do not be so surprised by the @AxaltaRacing 88 team on pit road. Been solid all season son. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 What happened the last time @RyanJNewman was desperate to make the Chase? @NASCARonNBC ⚡️ — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 10, 2016 Anyone notice that old retired guy @JeffGordonWeb in the top 10 wheeling it?? — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 . @NASCARonNBC non stop would be cool companioned with @pandora_radio — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 This is @dennyhamlin home track. Well, accept @MartinsvilleSwy . I guess any track in the state he was born. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 I like @mattkenseth even tho he drives what he drives. Good dude. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 @DaleJr have you ever thought of stop tweeting — Gonzy (@imgonzy) September 11, 2016 I have a pretty good idea of how the @NASCAR overtime works if you need me next week @RickAllenracing — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 One pulled groin and a chipped tooth. Average night for the over the wall guys. @NASCAR #athletes — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 Brad so mad. He's either being so tough or doing this weird underbite thing. What's that about @keselowski ?? pic.twitter.com/0ddqkyykDr — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016 Fire the art department except the totally different art department that took @TonyStewart photo. pic.twitter.com/0ZylxCO5Hm — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 11, 2016
ICYMI: Dale Jr's weekend at Darlington
In Case You Missed It, NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman catches you up on Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s weekend outside of the No. 88 at Darlington Raceway.
Late pit stop propels Truex Jr . to Chicagoland win
RELATED: Full race results " Updated standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Truex gear " Chase gear JOLIET, Ill. – You could see it coming from a mile-and-a-half away. On new tires, Martin Truex Jr . rocketed around the outside lane after a restart in overtime at Chicagoland Speedway and pulled away to win Sunday's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, the opening race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . With the victory—his first at the 1.5-mile track, his third of the season and the sixth of his career—Truex also rocketed into the Chase's Round of 12. But Truex wasn't satisfied with a ticket into the next round and the prospect of racing stress-free at New Hampshire and Dover, the final two Round of 16 events. "We have more races to win—the more we can win, the better," said Truex, who holds the lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings for the first time in his career. "What can I say? This is how we want to start off. This feels awesome." Truex lost a lap during an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 69 of 270 to change a flat right front tire, but he returned to the lead lap as the highest-scored lapped car when NASCAR called the second caution of the race on Lap 120 for Brian Scott 's spin off Turn 4. The driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Toyota, who led 30 laps in the early going, didn't regain the top spot until the restart in overtime on Lap 269, when he restarted fourth in the top lane and quickly dispatched Ryan Blaney , Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards , who had stayed out on old tires under the final caution, called on Lap 263 when Michael McDowell shredded his right front tire. MORE: Who's in bubble trouble? Joey Logano came from sixth to second in the two-lap overtime, trailing Truex at the stripe by .776 seconds. Chase Elliott won a drag race for third against fellow Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Blaney, with Brad Keselowski crossing the finish line in fifth. "On one hand, the bad luck was going to bite us, and on the other, we had a lot of time to battle back," Truex said of the flat tire. "We're lucky it happened early, and we were able to have an awesome race car all day." But for a lightning-fast pit stop that got Truex off pit road ahead of Elliott on the final stop, the outcome might have been markedly different. Elliott had held a one-second lead with four of 267 scheduled laps left before McDowell's tire problem slowed the field and put the race in the hands of the pit crews. While Truex restarted in overtime on the outside of the second row with a clear lane to the front, Elliott took the green in fifth, boxed in at the bottom of the track. "That's just part of it," Elliott of the late caution that perhaps deprived the driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of his first victory. "You've got to expect it and be able to embrace it and move forward. I feel like we did a good job controlling the things that we could control today. "We had a fast NAPA Chevy. I appreciate everybody's hard work this weekend. Hendrick was strong—that's good to see. Like I said, there are some things you just can't control with the amount of guys that stay out (under caution) and where you line up on a restart. We played the cards we were dealt and came up short." RELATED: Elliott discusses late caution Elliott can console himself with the knowledge that other Chase drivers had far more serious issues. Kevin Harvick , the 2014 series champion, was trapped a lap down on pit road—by roughly two feet—when a runaway tire from Aric Almirola ’s car forced the first caution on Lap 49. Harvick never got the lap back and finished 20th. He leaves Chicagoland 14th in the Chase standings and in danger of elimination from the playoff after the Oct. 1 race at Dover, where the Chase will be pared to 12 drivers. Jimmie Johnson led a race-high 118 laps but finished 12th after serving a pass-through penalty for a pit road speeding infraction on Lap 234. Rookie Chris Buescher struggled to a 28th-place finish in an ill-handling car and heads to New Hampshire 16th in the standings, with his prospects of advancing to the Round of 12 significantly dimmed. Kyle Larson was forced to pit road on Lap 260 with a tire deflating, finished 18th and is 15th in the Chase standings. Harvick, Buescher and Larson aside, Chase drivers held serve, taking 13 of the top 16 finishing positions. The only exceptions were Blaney, seventh-place Kasey Kahne and 10th-place Alex Bowman , who in relief of sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr . scored the first top 10 with the No. 88 Chevrolet since Earnhardt ran second at Pocono in early June. Note: Both Truex's winning car and Johnson's 12th-place car failed the laser inspection station post-race. Since both failed by a slight margin, NASCAR officials said the infraction to the No. 78 Camry didn't rise to the level of an encumbered victory. Consequently, Truex's advancement to the Round of 12 stands. If penalties to either team are warranted, they will be announced later this week. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Bruce: XFINITY Chase intensity ratchets up aggression
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid SPARTA, Ky. -- Was Saturday night's opening Chase race for NASCAR’s XFINITY Series an example of good, hard racing or a case of folks driving over their heads? That depends on who one asked afterward. Race winner Elliott Sadler wasn’t pointing fingers, and race winners have rarely been heard to utter a discouraging word. But the JR Motorsports driver said he did notice an uptick in intensity during the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway . "About halfway through the race, it was 'note to self; you can tell it's the Chase because it was caution after caution after caution," Sadler said afterward. "People were tense, eager, frustrated, nervous. A lot of different things going on with drivers right now ... trying to make it to the second (round). "I think people are giving each other less room. Restarts are crazy in the back." They were crazy up front, too. The race, which kicked off a seven-race, two-round elimination playoff for the series, saw the caution flag fly a track record 12 times. More than one-fourth of the race (64 laps) was run under the yellow. Yes, there was even a brief (5 min., 34 sec.) red-flag period. Erik Jones , the top seed and regular-season leader in race wins, got crossed up while racing with Ty Dillon and both the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota and the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet ended up in the wall. RELATED: See the wreck the caught two title contenders Each is now outside eighth place in points with two races to try and improve their standing; only the top eight (with the exception of a Chase race winner that might be 9th-12th ) advance to the second round. Not surprisingly, Jones wasn't particularly pleased with the early ending to his night and said later that the aggressive driving does cause one to approach the race differently. "Yeah, it makes me try to stay out of trouble," he said. "I didn't want to have something like that happen. ... You try to play defense some. I was for sure." Of course, there was the matter of a reconfigured track that sports new asphalt and distinctly different turns. That, too, played a role in the difficulties for some. And that was to be expected, said Brendan Gaughan , driver of the No. 62 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing . "It didn't seem like it was any more aggressive than normal," Gaughan said after finishing sixth. "It's a very narrow race track here right now. That Turn 3 is treacherous, man. There's no grip on the entry, there's no width on the entry. It's a treacherous, treacherous place at the moment. ... "It's still Kentucky. I love it." The fight to advance into the next round began early, but it's not the only battle going on and Saturday night's race brought some of that to light. In addition to the driver's championship, there's an owners title at stake and a couple of teams didn’t forget about that. At the end of the regular season, the No. 2 team of RCR was atop the owners' standings, followed by the No. 18 of Joe Gibbs Racing , the No. 1 of JRM with Sadler behind the wheel, and the No. 22 of Team Penske . Chevy, Toyota, Chevy and Ford. You think those folks aren't paying close attention? RCR brought in Sam Hornish Jr . to keep the No. 2 team in the hunt; Penske handed the reins to Sprint Cup driver Ryan Blaney . Sadler got the win, but a solid fifth-place run by Matt Tifft put the JGR No. 18 atop the owners' standings. JRM (No. 1) now sits second thanks to the victory while Hornish, who finished fourth, kept the RCR entry in the mix -- it's now third. Blaney did not fare badly but the way it all shook out left him third on the track and the team now fifth in the owners' battle. Dover, a fast, unforgiving mile of concrete, is up next. Some folks will be looking to rebound, some looking to continue to ride a hot start. If Kentucky was any indication, they better hope they can just hang on.
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;