After Daytona accident, 'Smoke' first on scene to check on 'Rowdy' INDIANAPOLIS -- A day after suffering a broken right leg and left foot in a Feb. 21 crash at Daytona International Speedway, Kyle Busch had his first hospital visitor. It was Tony Stewart , who had been sidelined in August 2013 by a sprint car accident that had caused a compound fracture of his right leg. As Busch's mind raced through possible dire consequences of his injuries, Stewart was there to offer support and counsel. " Tony was actually the first one to the hospital," Busch said on Saturday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the site of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at The Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). "As soon as the Daytona 500 was over, he was there. He actually told everybody that was on his plane that they were going to wait. He was there for about four hours. We had a good talk. "We had a good discussion about just what it was like and the process that he had to go through and how long it was probably going to be or what it was going to be. In all reality, our injuries were the same but entirely different. His was much more severe than mine. Just being able to talk with him, my mind-set was OK." Stewart helped allay Busch’s fears that his injury might be career-ending. "At first I was like, 'I'm never going to race again, and I don’t know what I’m going to do' -- all those things go through your mind," Busch said. "You just continue to power through and listen to your doctors and those that are around you and, of course, my wife and the support system that I had. "I wouldn't call it painless. There was certainly a lot of pain, but it went really, really well as far as you could say any injury healing goes. I was pretty pleased with everything." If recent results are any indication, Busch has returned stronger than ever. He has won three of the last four Sprint Cup events, at Sonoma, Kentucky and New Hampshire. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Pittsboro, Indiana welcomes emotional four-time NASCAR champion PHOTOS: Hometown honors Gordon with parade PITTSBORO, Ind. -- There's a sign on the Subway storefront proclaiming "Chicken Salad is Back" and the Cork & Cap package liquor establishment is nearby. Across the street, there's the Dollar General with the sign "You Make Us Proud Jeff" out front. Next door is the Pittsboro Veterinary Clinic and Big Tuck's Feed & More sits on the corner of Main and Maple Streets. A single traffic light is all that's required in this tiny town of 3,000 residents. A helicopter buzzes overhead as hundreds of folks crane their necks, looking down the street. It's high noon and the parade has begun. Jeff Gordon , five times a winner of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a four-time NASCAR champion, is being honored here. The town's most popular son, by way of California, has come home. RELATED: Photos, recaps of Gordon's 21 Brickyard 400s The Hendrick Motorsports driver is winding up an incredible career in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, and this weekend's Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM) will be his last at the legendary facility as a driver. His 92 career wins is most among active drivers and third on NASCAR's all-time win list. At season's end, he'll be Jeff Gordon the racer no more. The procession slowly makes its way down Main Street, led by a Pittsboro Police Department cruiser. Members of the Tri-West Marching Band are close behind, with a Boy Scout troop, members representing American Legion Post 426, various dignitaries, Little League players, soccer players (state finalists, the banner proclaims), representatives from IMS and state officials parade past the crowd. Eventually, the white Chevrolet convertible eases down the street, with Gordon seated in back, smiling and waving to the crowd. Less than 20 minutes after it starts, the parade ends. But Jeff Gordon Day in Pittsboro is only beginning. • • • Fans are seen carrying die-casts, pieces of sheet metal and one even has a racing tire in tow. Most here at Scamahorn Park have their attention turned to the stage, where various dignitaries are speaking on behalf of Gordon. It's Jeff Gordon Day "not just here in Pittsboro," Indiana Gov. Mike Pence tells the crowd, "but ... I declare (it) in all 92 counties." Pence presents Gordon with the Sagamore of the Wabash award, the highest honorary award given by the state. There were proclamations, plaques and a badge -- Gordon is now an honorary member of the Pittsboro Police Dept. -- as well. "My parents had a lot of reasons why we came here," Gordon told the crowd, "but racing was a big, big part of it; maybe the primary reason. "But they found this nice home ... in Pittsboro. They wanted to be here. They found that home, and we lived there for a very long time and just loved being here in Indiana. I've got some of my best friends that I've ever had in life that I still stay in touch with that are still living here in Pittsboro or right around here." Gordon was honored. He was also emotional. "This to me today has been one of the best days of my life," he said as the crowd cheered. "I say that sincerely ... because I get to see what Pittsboro not only meant to me but what it means to you guys. And it's an awesome town and the way you guys came out and supported me and what I've done in racing, what the Brickyard has meant to me and what this town has meant to me ... thank you guys, this means the world to me, it really does." • • • They could have lived anywhere. In fact, Pittsboro wasn't the first stop for Gordon and his parents, John and Carol Bickford, when the family looked to move from Vallejo, California. "In 1985 when we came back to race (in the Midwest), we lived in Findlay, Ohio," John Bickford said. "We knew a guy in quarter midget racing that lived in Findlay ... He said, 'Hey you can work out of my shop if you want, I've got an apartment here with two rooms I don't use, you can stay in here this summer.' So we lived in Findlay, Ohio for the summer of '85." But Findlay proved too problematic. It wasn't centrally located, it wasn't close to those that built Gordon's sprint cars and it wasn't close to the tracks where he competed each weekend. If one were to draw a line at a 45-degree angle or so, beginning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the line heading northwest would go through Brownsburg, Pittsboro, Lizton (where Gordon attended Tri-West High School) and eventually Jamestown. Pittsboro was perfect. "It was close to the car manufacturers, close to the people we know, close to the school he's got to go to," Bickford said. "We've got a piece of property that's five acres so we can build a shop with no restrictions. ... So all the boxes were checked." It made perfect sense to Gordon, who said he was "100 percent all in" for the move. His racing career "really only became a serious reality because of Lee Osborne out in Jamestown who built our first sprint car," Gordon said. "And also the Stanley family that lived out in Brownsburg and used to build my quarter midgets, that are now building my kids' quarter midgets. "Those two families really were responsible for us first coming to Indiana and recognizing that we needed to be here if we wanted to take racing seriously." • • • Northwest of the famed speedway, out past Clermont and Brownsburg, the cornstalks are tall and green. Just down County Road 100, the brick ranch sits back off the highway. "It picks up quite a bit when the race is in town," Michael Lang says. Folks stop by, unannounced and uninvited, but Lang says he's used to it. Jeff Gordon grew up here. Raced out of here. Laid the foundation for his legacy here. The race shop out back is now home of Fluid Transfer Products, a company that Lang says "builds hoses and fittings" and similar products. He and his wife, Sherry, have been the owners of home and business here since 2000. Before that, Lang raced. He won seven consecutive Midget titles at Indianapolis Speedrome. He raced with and against Gordon, Tony Stewart and a host of others. "Just about anybody that's been down there and tried to run, maybe not in the last 10 years, but a little longer, I raced against them. Raced against them all," Lang says. Eventually, his car owner began to scale back and Lang "took a year and a half off. "I came back, ran an indoor show, won the race and then got bit (by the racing bug) again. But then we had some problems and I thought 'this is exactly why I got out before.' "I had young kids at the time, had just moved in here. I had a good run, won 76 midget races and had a lot of fun. I had ambitions just like anyone, but unfortunately didn't have the money." He had already decided to move away from the city -- he previously lived near the speedway -- when "I picked the USAC newsletter up one day," he says. "And there was an ad for this place." • • • "You have no idea how deep here it goes for us," Gordon says. "We're very proud to call Pittsboro our home. "I tell everybody it really started here in Pittsboro and I would never be where I am today if it weren't for Pittsboro, this town and what it meant to me." The two-lane road leads past the fields of corn and across the railroad tracks. Up ahead, the highway sign indicates the end of Mitchell Avenue and the start of Wall Street. A turn, out of Pittsboro, leads back to the Interstate. The name of the road is fitting -- Jeff Gordon Boulevard. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Catch up quickly before the Brickyard 400, 3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN/Live Extra) RELATED: See the paint schemes for all 43 cars What : Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard Where : Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2.5-mile oval in Speedway, Ind. When : Sunday, July 26; 3:30 pm ET. TV/Radio : NBCSN, IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Distance : 400 miles, 160 laps. Pit road speed : 55 mph Caution car speed : 70 mph Fuel window : 33 laps On the front row " See full starting lineup The Indianapolis front row should look very familiar to NASCAR fans as pole-winner Carl Edwards and outside polesitter Joey Logano started in the same positions last week at New Hampshire. Edwards' pole-winning speed of 183.464 mph in the No. 19 Toyota earned the Joe Gibbs Racing driver his first front row start at the iconic Indy track and it is the first NASCAR pole position for Toyota at Indy. Logano's second place qualifying effort will mean his eighth front row start in 19 races. He has four poles. Fastest in practice First practice: Denny Hamlin , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota (182.208 mph) " Full practice results Second practice: Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet (181.466 mph) " Full practice results Final practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (181.987 mph) " Full practice results Last year's winner : The event's inaugural winner Jeff Gordon won his record fifth Brickyard 400 last July, tying him with Formula One's Michael Schumacher for the most victories at the famous speedway. After passing Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne on a late restart Gordon pulled away to a hefty 2.3-second win over JGR teammates Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth . It marked Gordon's 90th career Cup win. On the line : Seven races remain to set the 16-car Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field, and you have to go back six races to Truex's June 7 win at Pocono to find the last driver to automatically punch his winning ticket into the Chase. Kyle Busch has won three of the last four races, but still sits 58 points out of 30th place -- the cutoff points position to qualify for the Chase. The recent schedule has been dominated by repeat winners while preseason favorites such as Clint Bowyer , three-time Cup champ Tony Stewart , Ganassi Racing teammates Jamie McMuray and Kyle Larson and Hendrick drivers Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne are among the A-list names still looking for a victory. Home cooking : Just listening to the cheers from the crowd, there's no doubt that Indianapolis loves its homegrown drivers. That was apparent with every qualifying attempt on Saturday and will be evident in Sunday's race. Of course it's easy to cheer for your own when that includes four-time Cup champion Gordon, of Pittsboro, Indiana, three-time champion Tony Stewart from nearby, Columbus, Indiana, and former Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 winner Ryan Newman , of South Bend, Indiana. And the three account for eight Brickyard 400 wins (Gordon, 5; Stewart 2, Newman 1). "That's huge, when you come home, that's what you want,'' Stewart said of the reception he received after posting the fastest lap in the first round of Saturday's qualifying. Gordon was equally appreciative. "It's amazing and I love that,'' said the retiring Gordon, whose hometown Pittsboro honored him with a parade Thursday afternoon on a day the governor declared " Jeff Gordon Day." "When I'm in the car I'm focused on doing my job, but when I'm out of it, I feel the support here and not just this weekend, it's over the years." New package : The loudest buzz in the garage centered on NASCAR's new aerodynamic package being used Sunday at Indianapolis (and again at Michigan next month). Cars have been outfitted with a 9-inch spoiler that sits three inches higher than used at the 1.5-mile tracks and 6-inches taller than used at the 1-mile New Hampshire oval last week. The hope is the higher drag created by the spoiler will increase passing on the 2.5-mile speedway. A different variation to the cars -- a lower downforce package -- used at Kentucky two weeks ago produced a track record 22 green-flag passes for the lead. After three practice sessions Friday, the verdict was still unclear on what to expect Sunday. "I'm extremely happy with NASCAR’s ability to make some changes and really experiment and try new things,'' said Gordon, who qualified 19th for his final Brickyard start. "But, it's going to be really crazy out there. So, I don’t know for sure. For the little bit of time I spent behind other cars, it was a handful through the corners. So, restarts are going to be wild and crazy; so everybody needs to stay tuned-in." RELATED: See what the new spoiler looks like Nuts and Bolts Kyle Busch has eight top-10 finishes at Indianapolis -- including runner-up finishes two of the last three years -- despite having only one top-10 start at the track. ... Toyota has won its first pole for the Brickyard 400 but Chevrolet holds a 12-year winning streak in the race -- the longest current streak for a manufacturer. ... Amazingly 17 of 21 Brickyard 400 races have been won by Sprint Cup Series champions including, Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott , Dale Jarrett, Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Harvick , Bobby Labonte and Stewart. They said it "Well, I mean it could go and be a natural disaster tomorrow. It could all be for nothing. It's the way you want to start the weekend for sure is to have two good runs in qualifying and have a decent starting spot. That is definitely what we were looking for today." -- Tony Stewart , driver of No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy after his fourth-place qualifying effort. "Regardless of how this race turns out, as a group we've been working really good together and I'm hoping it continues to build. Kyle Busch coming back, although it is making us look a little bad the last few weeks, I think it's been really good. He's hauling the mail, going really fast and doing a good job. We're going to keep building on that. It's neat to be competitive within your own group in a productive way." -- Carl Edwards , driver of the No. 19 Stanley Tools Toyota, after earning himself and the car manufacturer its first NASCAR pole position at Indianapolis. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Carl Edwards gets first pick after winning pole in Saturday's qualifying The pit stall assignments are out for Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) with pole sitter Carl Edwards getting his pick of the spots on pit road for the second week in a row. The No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will be serviced in the first pit stall leading into Turn 1. Second-place qualifier Joey Logano chose the second pit stall on the side closest to the exit of pit road heading into Turn 1. David Ragan (starting third), Tony Stewart (starting fourth) and Paul Menard 's (starting 11th) pit stalls all have openings in front of them. Ragan, in the No. 55 Toyota, has the pit stall even with the start-finish line at the Brickyard. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
'Smoke' after the emotional win: 'Today's been my entire life' Tony Stewart knew what the fans wanted. The Columbus, Indiana, native had just crossed the start-finish line to win the coveted 2005 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, his first win at his hometown track. A roar from full grandstands greeted him, chanting " Tony ! Tony !" in unison. And after a day like today, a jubilant Stewart wasn't one to disappoint. Following his victory lap around the storied race track, Stewart stopped just short of the flag stand where the iconic bricks lay, climbed out of his No. 20 Chevrolet and strode over to the catch fence. Then, "Smoke" -- along with his crew -- began to climb the catch fence, joining the fans in a long-awaited celebration. "I wish I could put into words," an exhausted but excited Stewart said after his fence climb, as he lay on the front stretch wall. "Today's been my entire life." Indianapolis was one of the races Stewart had circled on his schedule for quite some time. Not only was it his hometown track, but it was also a track where his hero -- driver A.J. Foyt -- had dominated with four Indianapolis 500 wins. Stewart's 2005 win at Indianapolis put him further ahead in the championship point standings and ultimately led to him earning the 2005 Cup championship. PHOTOS: See Cup drivers kiss the bricks But that would come later in the season. On that August day in 2005, it was all about Stewart, Indianapolis and a famous line of bricks.
Dale Jr., Hamlin also topped Friday's practice leaderboards RELATED: See the new spoiler at Indy this weekend Practice 3: Full results Kurt Busch led the final Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network/Live Extra, SiriusXM). The Stewart-Haas Racing driver jumped to the lead near the end of the final session, putting up a high speed of 181.987 mph. Coming up short in speed to the No. 41 driver was Kevin Harvick (181.763 mph). Kyle Larson (181.357 mph), Jimmie Johnson (180.697 mph) and Martin Truex Jr . (180.672 mph) rounded out the top-five fastest on the leaderboard. Denny Hamlin led the series’ first practice at the Brickyard, but fell to 31st-fastest in the final round. Dale Earnhardt Jr . also led a practice session, but was 32nd-fastest, right behind Hamlin, in the closing run. Jeff Gordon , the defending race winner, finished 23rd-fastest in the final session. The Sprint Cup Series takes the track at the Brickyard for the Coors Light Pole Qualifying session tomorrow at 1:10 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network/Live Extra). Practice 2: Full results A fast lap of 181.466 mph sent Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s No. 88 soaring to the top of the leaderboard early during Friday's second practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Hendrick Motorsports driver found more speed in this session, having posted a high speed of 181.046 mph (ranked seventh) in the opening session this morning at the Brickyard. Team Penske 's Brad Keselowski came up just behind Earnhardt, scoring a fast lap of 181.448 mph in his No. 2 Ford to snag the second spot. Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne ranked third (181.408 mph), while Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates' Kyle Larson (181.378 mph) and Michael Waltrip Racing 's Clint Bowyer (181.331 mph) rounded out the top five. Last year's Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon showed speed again in this session, propelling around the famed speedway at 181.189 mph to earn the sixth spot. Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick was 14th-fastest, rounding the Indiana track at 179.583 mph in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Reigning XFINITY champion Chase Elliott -- who will be making his fourth Sprint Cup Series start in Sunday's 400-mile event -- clocked a fast lap of 178.798 mph in his No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, giving him the 17th-fastest speed in the field. After topping the opening practice, Denny Hamlin ran into trouble early in the second session when the hood of his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota flew up and hit the windshield. The bizarre occurance -- which NASCAR determined was caused by the hood not being properly pinned down -- brought out the caution for debris. His No. 11 team replaced the hood and the windshield and Hamlin returned to the race track to score the 12th-fastest speed. Paul Menard 's No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet returned to the track after hitting the wall during opening practice. The 2011 Brickyard 400 winner ranked 22nd on the leaderboard. Practice 1: Full results Denny Hamlin rose to the top of the leaderboard Friday morning in opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice as teams got their first taste of a new aerodynamic package at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hamlin drove the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota to a fast lap of 182.208 mph on the 2.5-mile track. The 34-year-old driver won the Coors Light Pole Award at the Brickyard in 2012. Jimmie Johnson , a four-time Brickyard winner, managed the second-fastest lap at 181.796 mph in the 85-minute session, but the show of speed was tempered by a fuel-pressure issue that brought the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet to a halt on the track at the 50-minute mark of practice. He was pushed back to the garage with help from the No. 14 Chevy of Tony Stewart . Defending Sprint Cup Series champion and current points leader Kevin Harvick was third-fastest at 181.756 mph in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet in preparation for Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM). Five-time Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon was fourth-fastest at 181.444 mph in preparation for his final race at the historic speedway. Gordon prevailed in the inaugural NASCAR race at Indy in 1994 and triumphed last season to top the series' all-time win list at the 2.5-mile track. Stewart, a two-time Brickyard winner, completed the top five on the leaderboard. With new aero devices in place to make the cars less smooth through the air, Hamlin's speed was significantly slower than Matt Kenseth 's 186.285 mph lap that led first practice at the Brickyard last year. The lap was also off the 188.470-mph pace set by Kevin Harvick in Coors Light Pole Qualifying at Indianapolis in 2014. The new high-drag rules package was designed with the hopes of promoting more side-by-side racing at the rectangular track, where passing has typically been difficult. The biggest aerodynamic change was to the rear spoiler, which was raised to a 9-inch height and capped by a new wicker bill on top. Though a portion of the larger spoiler is made of clear, hard Lexan plastic, a handful of drivers -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano among them -- complained of some visibility issues in their rear view. Chase Elliott , set to replace Gordon as a Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet next season, was 15th-fastest in preparation for the fourth Sprint Cup start of his career. His No. 25 Chevy from the Hendrick stables clocked a best lap of 179.939 mph. Former Indianapolis winner Paul Menard scraped the outside retaining wall at approximately the 30-minute mark, causing slight damage to the right side of the Richard Childress Racing No. 27 Chevrolet. After repairs, Menard was able to return to the track, setting the 21st-fastest lap. Two more practices are scheduled Friday for the Sprint Cup Series -- 1-2:25 p.m. ET and 4-5:55 p.m. ET, with both broadcast on NBC Sports Network. Coors Light Pole Qualifying, which will use single-car runs to set the 43-car field, is scheduled Saturday at 1:10 p.m. ET. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Bobby Pierce finishes second in first Truck Series start RELATED: Complete race results ROSSBURG, Ohio -- The pit crew swarmed the truck; the driver climbed out and threw his hands high into the night air; the owner ran around screaming and handing out hugs. In the background of this scene, as fireworks exploded over Eldora Speedway's half-mile dirt oval, race winner Christopher Bell turned victory donuts that sent plumes of dust skyward. The fact that Bobby Pierce finished second didn't dampen the celebration on pit road. In fact, it heightened it. In his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut, Pierce chased Bell all over the track in a thrilling conclusion to the third annual event at the Tony Stewart -owned facility in western Ohio. He did so in a battered No. 63 MB Motorsports Chevrolet that, by the end, looked like something from a nearby junkyard. The decklid was drooping, the back right fender was covered in dents and discoloration and tiny chunks of the body were scattered somewhere along the hard clay. "I knew these trucks could take a lot before they started falling apart," Pierce said with a grin after hopping out of his truck. "It was a lot of fun out there. I'm out of breath, but so happy." The 18-year-old had to spend a few moments composing himself inside the cockpit following the checkered flag, a piece of time that included third-place finisher Tyler Reddick strolling over, leaning into the window and patting him on the helmet. A member of his pit crew walked in circles, screaming "(Expletive) yeah! Can you believe it?" They couldn't. Pierce led 39 of 154 laps after starting from the pole. He was in the top five throughout the entirety of the 1-800-Car-Cash Mud Summer Classic, including the frenzied finish that saw four cautions -- and thus four harrowing restarts -- over a 42–lap span and resulted in a green-white-checkered finish. Bell, 20 years old, and Pierce put on another Eldora classic. They went high into the wall, sending both sparks and dirt spraying from their trucks. They went low, dodging Reddick, Austin Dillon , Ty Dillon and Matt Crafton , among others. It was reminiscent of last year's frenzied finish, when Kyle Larson used all his truck would give him, careening into walls while attempting to chase down eventual winner Darrell Wallace Jr . "I know a lot of people before the race were thinking I was going to be the Kyle Larson this year, probably," Pierce said. "I didn't want to be the guy in second, but that's how it goes." Team owner Mike Mittler was fine with second. A team owner in the Truck Series since its inception in 1995, Wednesday was his best finish. His only other career top 10 in 213 starts was an eighth-place showing with Carl Edwards in 2002. It was a wait of 13 years for a man well-regarded in the NASCAR community, one who helped drivers such as Brad Keselowski (who finished 28th Wednesday), Edwards, Jamie McMurray and Justin Allgaier start their careers. After celebrating with Pierce and the crew, Mittler took a congratulatory phone call and helped wheel the truck across the infield for inspection before pausing to consider what the runner-up result meant. "I thought if it stayed green, we'd have every opportunity to work (Bell) and get by him, but it just didn't go that way," Mittler told NASCAR.com. "I just thought, 'Wow, what a phenomenal opportunity after 20 years, to be in position to finally have an opportunity to win a race.' " The opportunity came with a driver Mittler has known for years -- he is friends with Pierce's father outside of racing -- and one who watched the inaugural Eldora race on television at home, and took in last year's event from the grandstands. "The whole thing is pretty cool," Bell said, "because I remember we were at a local show in Illinois a year ago, and I had never heard of Bobby Pierce and I'm sure he'd never heard of me. He kicked their butt in the late model race. I never dreamed we'd be racing neck and neck at Eldora." But they were. And on a night in which Bell cemented his place in NASCAR, Pierce's possible NASCAR career also took flight. "That's why you're in this sport, to be in contention to win," Mittler said. "It wasn't a fluke. We were there all day. It was no fluke at all. The kid's the real deal. He said this is a dream come true for him, and it is for me, too." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
JGR driver claims back-to-back poles at Loudon, Indy RELATED: Full Indy lineup INDIANAPOLIS -- If Toyota and Ford are to break the Chevrolet stranglehold on Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the two manufacturers took a positive step in that direction during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series time trials on Saturday. Underscoring the recent resurgence of Joe Gibbs Racing , Carl Edwards toured the 2.5-mile track in 49.056 seconds (183.464 mph) to put his No. 19 Toyota on the pole for Sunday's Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at The Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM), edging Joey Logano 's Team Penske Ford (183.139 mph) by .087 seconds. David Ragan (182.886 mph) qualified third in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. Fourth-place qualifier Tony Stewart (182.823 mph) had the fastest Chevrolet in the final round. Chevrolets have won the last 12 Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis. Stewart, though, had the fastest lap of the afternoon (185.547 mph) in the first round of time trials, which trimmed the number of drivers eligible for the pole from 46 to 12. The Coors Light Pole Award was Edwards' first at the Brickyard, his second of the season, his second in a row and the 15th of his career. "After yesterday, this is amazing," Edwards said. "We started so slow yesterday and we struggled. I think at one point (crew chief) Darian (Grubb) and I were looking at each other going, 'What are we going to do here?' "It was a struggle, and everybody buckled down, worked hard -- I'm so proud of my guys. TRD and Toyota have been putting so much effort into this whole program. Stanley has been behind us 100 percent -- not just me, but Matt Kenseth and our whole team. This is big. It will be neat to start up front." Kyle Busch , Edwards' JGR teammate, will start ninth on Sunday in search of his third consecutive victory in the Sprint Cup Series. Sidelined for the first 11 events of the season by injuries sustained in an accident at Daytona in February, Busch has won three of the last four races and has seven races left in which to regain eligibility for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by finishing the regular season in the top 30 in the series standings. Entering Sunday's race, Busch is 33rd in points, 58 behind David Gilliland in 30th place. Behind Stewart, Kyle Larson , Kevin Harvick , Clint Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr . will line up fifth through eighth on the grid. After qualifying, Logano and Ragan were quick to point out an unusual coincidence. Edwards, Logano and Ragan started 1-2-3, in that order, a week before at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a one-mile flat track. The Sprint Cup cars are running a completely different high-drag aerodynamic package this week, with a nine-inch-tall rear spoiler and a one-inch wicker. Last week at Loudon, the cars featured the regular 2015 rules package with a six-inch spoiler. "David and I were just laughing up here that these are the same three race cars that started up front at Loudon," Logano said. "A completely different race track, different package and the same cars are fast. It's good for us. We're close. Second always hurts, but it's nice to be up toward the front, especially here." Jeff Gordon 's final run at Indianapolis as a full-time driver didn't start the way the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet would have hoped. "I really think our 3M Chevrolet is really good," said Gordon, who qualified 19th. "It's been good all weekend. I feel like I underestimated the grip. I had a little wiggle out of three coming to the green and that concerned me slightly. The grip was there in Turn 4, and I was aggressive into Turn 1, but not aggressive enough. "That's what's disappointing; it wasn't a balance issue or a speed issue. I didn't get enough speed through (Turn) 1. It adds up with this new package. Yeah, I'm pretty disappointed to start back there." Notes: Josh Wise , Jeb Burton and Reed Sorenson failed to make the 43-car field. ... Ryan Newman ’s time was disallowed because he ran his lap without the mandatory right-side window in his car. Newman will start 43rd on Sunday on a provisional.
Coors Light Pole Qualifying Saturday, July 25 (1:10 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra) Entry Car # Driver Team 1 98 Timmy Hill (i) Curb Records Ford 2 62 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 3 26 Jeb Burton # Maxim Fantasy Sports/Estes Toyota 4 83 Matt DiBenedetto # VooDoo BBQ & Grill Toyota 5 23 JJ Yeley(i) Dr Pepper Toyota 6 32 Josh Wise Brandise Machinery Ford 7 7 Alex Bowman Marsh Supermarkets Chevrolet 8 34 Brett Moffitt # CSX Play It Safe Ford 9 35 Cole Whitt Speed Stick Ford 10 38 David Gilliland FFA Ford 11 46 Michael Annett Switch Hitch Chevrolet 12 40 Landon Cassill (i) Chevrolet 13 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 14 51 Justin Allgaier Brandt Chevrolet 15 9 Sam Hornish Jr . Medallion Bank Ford 16 95 Michael McDowell Thrivent Financial Ford 17 43 Aric Almirola Eckrich Ford 18 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger/Kingsford Charcoal Chevrolet 19 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr . NOS Energy Drink Ford 20 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 21 33 Brian Scott (i) Shore Lodge Chevrolet 22 27 Paul Menard Duracell/Menards Chevrolet 23 31 Ryan Newman Grainger Chevrolet 24 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 25 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet 26 16 Greg Biffle Lilly/American Diabetes Association Ford 27 25 Chase Elliott (i) NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 28 3 Austin Dillon Dow/Mycogen Chevrolet 29 19 Carl Edwards Stanley Toyota 30 18 Kyle Busch Skittles Toyota 31 21 Ryan Blaney (i) Motorcraft/Quick Lane/JDRF Ford 32 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's/Cessna Chevrolet 33 55 David Ragan Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 34 78 Martin Truex Jr . Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet 35 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 36 14 Tony Stewart Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet 37 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota 38 42 Kyle Larson Target Chevrolet 39 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Chevrolet 40 24 Jeff Gordon 3M Chevrolet 41 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 42 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr . Nationwide Chevrolet 43 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's/Budweiser Chevrolet 44 48 Jimmie Johnson Kobalt Tools Chevrolet 45 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet 46 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota
Jonathan Merryman and Kenny Bruce analyze break down how practice has helped the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams adjust to the new 'high drag' package and look to the XFINITY Series race to get ready for 400 miles at the Brickyard.