Reinvigorated Martin relishes second chances, Hall of Fame nod
RELATED: Learn more about the Class of 2017 " Martin's top moments CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mark Martin described the rollicking ride of emotions leading up to his induction speech for the NASCAR Hall of Fame as far more difficult than anything that he ever experienced in a race car. A heady statement, since Martin's path to stock-car stardom was anything but easy. "I can't tell you how it feels to stand up here in front of you tonight," Martin said. "It's a feeling that my words could never do justice." But Mark Martin had all the words Friday night, just over 1,500 of them in a heartfelt address that capped a stellar night in the Charlotte Convention Center. He joined Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Raymond Parks and Benny Parsons in the Hall's eighth class of five inductees. When it was all done and Martin was officially enshrined, the 58-year-old driver felt invigorated. "I feel like I've had a cup of coffee or I've been playing some Gucci Mane," Martin said with a laugh. "I'm wide open." The circuitous path to NASCAR enshrinement, which started on the rickety back roads with one-lane bridges in his native Arkansas, was a long time coming. And though he's just more than three years removed from his final big-league start -- in a fill-in stint for the injured Tony Stewart in the 2013 finale -- Martin says he's transferred his trademark determination to more mundane pursuits. "How shiny can I get my motor home. I've got to get that trash and take it out. That light bulb is burned out, dammit," Martin said of his day-to-day life now. "… You know, I just do all the things that I used to pay people to do. I still go like hell every day. That's the same ol' me. "Yeah, I just really enjoy not -- not having that laser focus. I'm still focused. Don't get me wrong. And I'm still OCD and I still run wide open, and I'm still odd about how I want things and all that. I'm still that same guy. But you know, life is just a lot more serene for me now." Martin nearly exited the sport twice, once because of unfortunate circumstances and another by his choice. His career nearly short-circuited during a struggle-filled 1982 season, but Martin stuck with it, eventually landing a second chance with car owner Jack Roush in a partnership that lifted both to elite status. "Because racing was my passion," Martin said when asked what kept him going. "The easy thing to do was to go to the trucking company that my dad owned and go to work there. I had no interest in that trucking company. The only thing I knew was racing." And when he dialed back his driving duties with two part-time seasons in 2007 and '08, it was Hendrick -- his fellow inductee and ever the salesman -- who persuaded him back to a full-season ride. The agreement yielded one his most prolific seasons -- the last five of his 40 premier-series wins and his last brush with the championship trophy that eluded him. In his three-year absence from the driver's seat, Martin says he's missed the people, the media, the garage and the fans. He hasn't missed driving the race cars, but his competitive nature, he says, has never left him. Martin seems content in channeling his tenacious spirit toward fixing an electrical outlet or other do-it-yourself projects these days. But though the lure of the track may have faded, he said he looks forward to his career enjoying a sense of permanence in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "This makes me feel like I have a place, a little bit of a place," Martin says. "But the thing about racing is when you step out, the hole closes behind you so fast, it's unbelievable, as a driver, as a crew chief, crew member, whatever. I'm sure even doing your job, you step out for very long, that hole closes, man. It ain't easy to get back inside. I stepped out, and the holes closed, and I just -- I embrace this opportunity to represent the NASCAR Hall of Fame because it makes me very proud that we have this because of how important it is to me to know the full story about Raymond Parks. I knew who he was and whatnot, but I know the full story now. "So for a guy who's been here for so long to learn that through this process, just think what it's going to do 50 years from now, how important it's going to be." &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;gt;
Bowyer gears up for 'best opportunity' with Stewart-Haas
RELATED: First look at paint schemes of 2017 CONCORD, N.C. -- There's been plenty for Clint Bowyer to adjust to in the brief time that he's officially been a member of Stewart-Haas Racing 's driver roster. He's had to acclimate himself to the way that his new team operates. He's also had to become more familiar with the personnel on the No. 14 Ford that Bowyer will drive in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017. A helpful hand from his new crew chief, Mike Bugarewicz, has helped Bowyer adjust to both of those new concepts. When Bowyer half-jokingly asked Bugarewicz if he had a team roster to keep him from addressing his crewmembers with, "Hey, buddy," or similar salutations, the second-year crew chief unexpectedly delivered. "He's such a dedicated person and so prepared, he literally went and took pictures of all the guys and e-mailed me the names of them," Bowyer said Wednesday during a preseason media event at the sprawling Ford Performance Technical Center. "I'm like, 'Man, you didn't have to do that. I could've come down.' " At which point Tony Stewart , his team owner and predecessor in the No. 14, interjected: "He says he didn't need that. He needed that, trust me." Laughing aside, Bowyer continued to underscore his point. "That's the level of dedication that you have at Stewart-Haas," Bowyer said. "And it doesn't just end with Mike, it's all across the board. If you ask for something … you've got to be careful asking for something because it's just done." RELATED: Harvick bullish on changes " Transition to Ford among top story lines The next adjustment that Bowyer may have to make is getting accustomed to relevance, something in short supply even before he was announced Sept. 30, 2015 as the successor to three-time series champion Stewart for the organization's flagship team. Bowyer drove in relative obscurity for Michael Waltrip Racing in its waning days, then languished through a throwaway season in 2016 with the former HScott Motorsports operation as he waited his turn to join SHR. "If he could've clicked his heels three times and made it 2017, he'd have done it in a heartbeat," Stewart said. "But we were all just reminding him: 'Be patient. You've got a lot to look forward to.' And we were hoping that his season would turn around at some point, too, but it didn't work out that way and it wasn't for a lack of effort on their side. "I think the nice thing, though, is -- as odd as this sounds -- I've seen him a lot calmer than I saw him all last year. I don't know that he's ever calm, but you can tell he's excited about what's coming up. He's genuinely excited about getting in the 14 car and that makes us happy, too." RELATED: Stewart at ease in new role at SHR Bowyer's authentic anticipation is attached to what he calls "the best opportunity I've ever had." Not only does the 37-year-old driver now have an avenue to potentially return to Victory Lane for the first time in more than four seasons, he also has the chance to place his name back among the sport's top tier. Bowyer has always been known as one of the most animated and energetic figures in the NASCAR garage. But performance -- or a lack of it, in the case of Bowyer's most recent body of work -- has a way of shuffling even the most engaging figures to the shadows. Bowyer's return to a high-profile ride likely changes both the prevailing perceptions and his exposure level, but the results will need to follow suit. "Here's what I hope -- I sure hope you're watching me," Bowyer said. "At the end of the day, relevancy in this sport is everything and I've lost that a little bit. Not a little bit, a lot. And I felt it and didn't like it. It's up to me to go out and become relevant again, have you watch me and talking about me. "It makes everything better. This is a business. This is racing, but once you race at this level, it becomes a business and it trickles down to everything in your life. We're race car drivers but we do this for a business. From my dirt program, everything, my (car) dealership, it just really trickles down. Every business thing that's happened really feeds off of your success on that race track. I had a bad year and I want to become relevant again. You don't work as hard and you have a hell of a lot more fun." RELATED: Key moments in SHR history Before he embarks on that goal, Bowyer has had fun getting better acquainted with his new surroundings, no doubt aided by Bugarewicz's handy chart. But the jollity has also extended to enjoying the luxuries of championship-level equipment for a change. Bowyer marveled at the comfort and quality of his new carbon-fiber seat, remarking "I feel rich" with regards to the perfectly tailored fit. And in a further illustration of Stewart-Haas' attention to precise details, Bowyer was asked last weekend about his preference for a gearshift handle. When the newest SHR driver reacted with indifference in saying that any handle would do, he was presented with eight possible choices. "I think we have dialed in the right gearshift handle for myself and my success this year," Bowyer said with a wry smile. "If not, we have plenty of extras to go around." &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;gt;
Expectations for Bowyer’s first year at SHR
Clint Bowyer and his new team owner Tony Stewart talk about their expectations for the No. 14 Ford in 2017.
@nascarcasm: Vintage tweets from drivers, Vol. 3
RELATED: Vintage tweets from drivers, Vol. 1 " Vol. 2 RELATED: Read more Inside Groove VINTAGE TWEETS, VOLUME THREE! So many NASCAR drivers have mastered the fine art of social media. But it didn't happen overnight, as is evidenced by some of their very early, and often awesome, initial tweets. What follows are actual posts from actual drivers, as they first immersed themselves into the Twitters. Jamie McMurray AH, swell deal. Enjoy the movie. Going to see the move "Its Complicated" with Christy tonite.... — Jamie McMurray (@jamiemcmurray) January 15, 2010 OK, to save space, we didn't include the tweets informing us that they were almost to the theater to see "It's Complicated," they had found a parking spot at the movie theater that was showing "It's Complicated," and the follow-up reminder that they were going to see "It's Complicated" in case we missed the first two notifications. On the way to see the movie "Its Complicated" w Christy — Jamie McMurray (@jamiemcmurray) January 15, 2010 Had we just withheld this information, we would have been spared the 5,000 pictures of his Rolex and his ghoulish life-size bobblehead. I hate to admit this but I am not sure how to send pics yet? When I figure it out I will send some. — Jamie McMurray (@jamiemcmurray) January 18, 2010 Oooooo, someone wins the Daytona 500 in 2010 and suddenly the dude from U2 is his PERSONAL CHAUFFER TO MARTINSVILLE. Fame corrupts. Waiting on Bono to come pick me up so we can drive to Martinsville tonite — Jamie McMurray (@jamiemcmurray) March 25, 2010 It was spreading false information, such as tweeting that Jamie was on his way to see "Sex And The City 2" instead of "It's Complicated." Stuff like that's gotta be shut down. Do you think you guys could help me get the fake jamie_mcmurray twiiter removed? — Jamie McMurray (@jamiemcmurray) February 2, 2010 Danica Patrick She's going two months between yoga sessions. I bet she loses interest in yoga entirely, just watch. I went to yoga for the first time in 2 months....I think I might be sore tomorrow! — Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) June 16, 2009 OH MAN, needs two cups of coffee to muster the energy to work out. I bet she gives up working out entirely, just watch. I am on my second cup of coffee and as soon as I muster the energy going to workout. I hope everyone has a wonderful day! — Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) September 3, 2009 Probably just an innocent little text conversation that doesn't really lead to much. Maybe he just wants to borrow some of her clothes. The rumors are flying about nascar!....I did talk to Tony and he is a great guy. We are looking at nascar as I have always said. — Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) September 6, 2009 Now's probably a bad time to point out "dosent." I may have mentioned that spelling is not one of my strengths, and with spell check, its getting worse and obviously dosent save me either. — Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) September 22, 2011 OK so maybe she picked yoga back up but doubt it becomes a regular thing. I woke up wanting to do get back to a yoga more often. Its so helpful for my head!......and bod. — Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) September 4, 2009 Greg Biffle Da Biff got dat phone hook-up mang. Hooked up on the phone — Greg Biffle (@gbiffle) January 27, 2010 Market trends suggest dumping all your money into Blockbuster. Having coffee and watching cnbc trying get get the next hot stock pick. Ready to practice!! — Greg Biffle (@gbiffle) February 19, 2010 What a stout driver lineup for Roush Fenway Racing -- one that will remain intact and solid like mahogany for years to come. Cooking lunch if anyone @NASCARonSPEED is hungry?? pic.twitter.com/0MEmSsLB — Greg Biffle (@gbiffle) April 28, 2012 OH MAN, cell phone pics from the inside of race cars! This should become a thing. Pic from where I'm sittin pic.twitter.com/kz7G9qyN — Greg Biffle (@gbiffle) February 18, 2012 Good. Tell that guy the belts may need a little work. My guys are working on the sand car pic.twitter.com/yksLQqon — Greg Biffle (@gbiffle) April 23, 2012 Clint Bowyer Clint Bowyer 's maiden tweet could not possibly have been more Clint Bowyer . Welcome to my Twitter. As soon as someone shows me how to use this damn thing I'll introduce you to my Library of worthless information. Ha! — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) March 9, 2012 Whoever explained Twitter to Clint left out that "Your wife can read everything you post" part … Does anybody else's wife g/f watch these stupid reality shows? Shoot me now! — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) March 13, 2012 … AND, well, she can now reciprocate with a tweet about this. Best show on TV= "dumbest stuff on wheels" God it's funny when a bad idea gets worse!!! — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) March 22, 2012 Clint's first entry into the Folksy Exclamation Hall Of Fame. The other entries in the Hall Of Fame all belong to Clint also. Holy shit balls of fire!!! Man that was a game. Got some homework to do and go at these boys east of the river. Rock Chalk...KU — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) March 19, 2012 If you've ever wanted to experience the first-person perspective of a national treasure, here you are. There's only one person I would dare to pick up at the airport off his Jet driving this... Any guesses who that's be? pic.twitter.com/W0upYCa6 — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) May 19, 2012 Ryan Blaney I have two questions about this tweet and they're both "What?" Alright not super exited anymore cause Emma saidyhats girly, so in uber duber exited — Ryan Blaney (@Blaney) May 26, 2011 You got 137 more characters if you want, bro. Out — Ryan Blaney (@Blaney) September 12, 2011 Well now that you're in Cup, go back five years later. Won't come off as creepy at all. It's engagement season. I would marry the waitress I just had at hooters... — Ryan Blaney (@Blaney) September 29, 2011 I think Dale Jr. tweeted something similar once and got 3,000 likes. There's a reason your phone has a camera, Ryan Blaney . Just saw a weiner dog take a dump in the airport #letitgo — Ryan Blaney (@Blaney) October 7, 2011 And here you're complaining about the wiener dog. Hit some turbulence in the plane while I was taking a wee wee #splash &go #wreckinturn3 — Ryan Blaney (@Blaney) October 10, 2011
The Rundown: Chicagoland
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings " Chase Grid Complete news and notes on all 43 drivers from the myAFibRisk.com 400 1. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin's worst start at Chicagoland turned into his best finish at the track when he opted to not pit prior to the Lap 263 restart and used likely the best restart of his career to roll to the win. He is the first driver to secure a spot in the Contender round. 2. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The Chase contender rallied back after being busted for speeding on pit road on Lap 52. 3. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch bounced off the wall early in the race, but was leading when the final caution flag was waved. He opted not to pit and fell back when he didn't get a strong run at the restart. 4. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman restarted 14th on fresh tires and improved to score his fifth top-five of the season. 5. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth's team continually tweaked the No. 20 Toyota to help Kenseth maintain his grip on the points lead. 6. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano, a Chase contender, turned in his second-best result at Chicagoland on Sunday. The Connecticut-native found himself caught in between the Johnson-Harvick issue after bumping Johnson on a restart; which, in turn, caused Johnson to slide into Harvick's Chevrolet. 7. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson is two-for-two at Chicagoland -- two starts, two top-10 results at the 1.5-mile oval. Larson was the first non-Chase contender to cross the finish line. 8. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski rebounded from a loose wheel to post his 10th straight top-10 result of the year, a series best. 9. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch led a race-high 121 laps as the Joe Gibbs Racing domination continued on Sunday. 10. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola ran inside the top 15 for most of the day en route to his first Chicagoland top-10. 11. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson ruffled some feathers early when he made contact with Harvick, after being tapped by Logano, while trying to get back onto the track after the Lap 135 restart. 12. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt lost several spots in the closing laps when he committed to the top line off the restart and was stalled behind cars on older tires. 13. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . The fastest in Saturday's final practice, Truex was strong all day but got caught up in a four-wide, Lap 263 restart and shuffled to the back. 14. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon, who made a series-tying best 788th Cup start Sunday, took the lead on Lap 144 after a controversial restart, paced the field for 40 laps before pitting under green on Lap 185. 15. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan used the beneficiary pass twice and the wave-around several times to improve his track position and stay on the lead lap. 16. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. In his first Chase race as a contender, McMurray gambled with pit strategy and experienced a bit of tire rub in the closing 30 laps. 17. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . A first-time Chaser, Menard was running 12th and on the lead lap with 18 laps to go. A late-race pit stop and crazy restart cost him position. 18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse spent the first half of Sunday's race looking for the best line. When he ran the top line, he reported, the rear of his car became too tight. 19. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . It was a tough day for Bowyer, who struggled throughout the entire race getting through Turns 3 and 4. 20. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears was considering fuel mileage while racing for the beneficiary pass late in the race Sunday. 21. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle, frequently vexed this season with his car's handling, experienced similar on Sunday and also had the misfortune of brushing the wall. 22. Brian Scott , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport . Scott rolled off the grid 21st and tying his second-best Cup result of the year (he finished 13th at Las Vegas). 23. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . "Heck yeah boys! Excellent stop," Allgaier encouraged his pit crew during their sixth stop. Unfortunately, the chassis adjustments didn't pan out in the laps to come, as Allgaier noted there wasn't a change in the handling. 24. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne made an unscheduled stop late in the race for a vibration and spent the rest of the race running quietly. The primary radio chatter was his lap times. 25. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart was among the cars knocked off the lead lap during season's longest green-flag run. He was running 16th on Lap 83 and was the last car on the lead lap. 26. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick was running 30th when she reported a "loud metal noise" in the back of her car nearing Lap 100. 27. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill was one of 16 drivers knocked off the lead lap within the first 50 laps, but he had the fortune of being a legitimate contender for the beneficiary pass. 28. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Once his team addressed a loose-handling condition, Bayne employed the wave around during caution periods and held steady in the top 28. 29. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt held steady to improve upon his previous best Chicagoland finish of 30th. 30. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish started 22nd but had to pit unexpectedly for tire rub during the first quarter of the race, causing him to go two laps down. 31. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . The Chicagoland first-timer was cautioned on the restarts by spotter Tony Raines , who said "It's like Talladega or Daytona here at the start/finish line. They're all pushing each other." 32. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . The caution flag was waved on Lap 191 just as Gilliland's team was completing his green-flag stop. 33. Josh Wise , No. 32 Ford, Go FAS Racing. Within the first 50 laps, Wise reported a vibration in the right rear, prompting his crew chief to call him down pit road and further off the lead lap. 34. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett pitted just prior to the second caution flag for a vibration and later chose to take the wave-around. 35. J.J. Yeley, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley chased a free-handling car and was running 34th past the midway point on Sunday. 36. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger, who was involved in Denny Hamlin 's early on-track spin, took another hit by Lap 48 when he sustained a flat left-rear tire and had to stop on pit road. 37. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Around Lap 151, Bowman reported to his crew that something in the rear of the car had broken and he had to hit pit road. 38. Jeb Burton , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Burton battled a loose-handling condition during his debut at Chicagoland Speedway and within the first quarter of the race already had dropped the track bar a half inch. 39. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto, later tweeting his car was "off all weekend," started where he finished in his Chicagoland debut. 40. Reed Sorenson , No. 98 Ford, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson scored his second-best result this season from behind the wheel of the No. 98 Ford. 41. Timmy Hill , No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports . Making his second Chicagoland start, Hill struggled to make up much track position after starting 43rd. 42. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . The defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion experienced tire rub after contact with Johnson on the Lap 135 restart and cut his left-rear tire, ultimately causing him to hit the wall hard three laps later. 43. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon's best Chicagoland start and strong top-10 run was cut short when he got into the wall on Lap 131.
The Rundown: Charlotte
Complete news and notes about all 43 drivers and their Coca-Cola 600 results RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid after Charlotte 1. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Sticky feet didn't slow down Edwards, who stretched his fuel window to claim his first Charlotte 600 victory while pretty much locking up a spot in the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . " NASCAR.com goes 1-on-1 with Edwards in Victory Lane 2. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle turned in his best showing of the year, starting fourth and earning runner-up honors in the season's longest race. " Biffle reflects on runner-up finish 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native overcame an early-race pit miscue to resume running in the top 10 by Lap 100 and earn his seventh top-five of the year. He now ranks fourth in the points. " Dale Jr. looks at top-five finish at Charlotte 4. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The pole winner closed 12 spots in the final 40 laps after making an unscheduled pit stop with less than 100 laps to go for a loose wheel. " Kenseth talks about late gamble 5. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Before a late-race fuel gamble didn't work out, Truex led a race-high 131 laps and radioed to his team, "I'm feeling like Superman for a few laps anyway." " Truex: 'It hurts to come home fifth' 6. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman earned the beneficiary of the free pass during the final caution period and closed 11 places in the final 40 laps. 7. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . New father Keselowski told his team early that his "ride quality is on par with Kentucky." He won at Kentucky last year, but had to settle for a top 10 (his eighth of the season) due to the fuel mileage game. " To hear more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView Premium today 8. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin, winner of the recent Sprint All-Star race, was pacing the 600 field with a migraine when a loose wheel prompted an unscheduled pit stop with 38 laps to go. " Hamlin visits media center after trip to infield care center 9. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick recorded his 11th top-10 result in 12 appearances this season to extend his grip on the points lead 10. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch lined up 14th and posted the fastest lap of the race on Lap 143 (188.153 mph), which was one of the 118 laps he led on Sunday. 11. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . In his first points race since the Daytona crash, Busch reassured his team he could run the full 600 miles. "Tell Erik (Jones, replacement driver) I feel good," Busch radioed his team. "10-4," crew chief Adam Stevens responded. "His bedtime's in about 20 minutes anyhow." " Busch passes big test at Charlotte 12. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne was tagged near the halfway point for speeding on pit road, but rallied to earn the beneficiary of the free pass and run inside the top 10 with 50 laps to go. 13. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . The birthday boy shook off debris in the first 24 laps to lead twice for 17 circuits on Sunday. 14. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard quietly toured Charlotte’s 1.5-mile oval en route to his eighth top-15 result of the season. 15. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . After pacing the field to green in the Indy 500, Gordon lined up 18th in his Coca-Cola 600 finale and had a decent run until a loose wheel impacted his day. " Gordon leads Indy field to green 16. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon drove a new chassis to his best 1.5-mile result of the season. 17. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola earned the beneficiary of the free pass on the Lap 230 caution and found himself in position again for the free pass in the closing laps. 18. Chase Elliott , No. 25 Chevrolet. Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott, in his third Cup outing and first at a 1.5-miler, qualified 28th and mostly ran inside the top 25, despite dealing with a radio communication issue during the race. 19. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The two-time Charlotte winner had a ho hum day, running middle of the pack in his 26th appearance at the 1.5-mile track. 20. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer's frustration sparked a late-race decision to gamble on fuel mileage. "Might as well (gamble)," Bowyer radioed crew chief Brian Pattie. "Nothing to lose." " To hear more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView Premium today 21. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart was running a lap down when he got into the back of Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., who slid up the track ahead of him on Lap 302. 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick had to make two pit stops during the third caution flag after receiving damage from a dust-up with Clint Bowyer and Chase Elliott on pit road. 23. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears battled a lack of air conditioning and tried to stay cool during the season's longest race by taking ice bags during pit stops. 24. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish couldn't climb back from an early handling issue although he later ran lap times comparable to those inside the top 15. 25. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson qualified ninth, marking his first top-10 start at Charlotte, and ran as high as eighth before quietly fading. 26. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Encouraged early by crew chief Tommy Baldwin Jr. not to overdrive it, Bowman went on to post his best intermediate track finish of the year. 27. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne's tough night was further impacted when he hit the wall on Lap 230 to bring out the fourth caution flag and halt 89 laps of green-flag racing. 28. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt liked his car during practice and ultimately turned in his best 2015 result on a 1.5-mile track. 29. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger required an unscheduled pit stop around Lap 160 when a hot dog wrapper stuck to his grille and raised temps. 30. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing . McDowell spent the night looking for speed as he worked with his team on the handling of the No. 95 Ford. 31. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Spotter Tony Raines told Moffitt his car was faster than those ahead of him, but grip was a persistent problem. 32. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett, who dealt with a tight-handling condition early on Sunday, spun on the backstretch on Lap 328 to bring out the caution flag. 33. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland, who honored The Unknown Soldier with his car, led Lap 28 after choosing not to pit during the competition caution. 34. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto, making his third 1.5-mile start and his first at Charlotte, complained early of a loose-handling condition. 35. Josh Wise , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Wise lined up 38th and got behind early, but still held on to post his best Charlotte result in his last four outings at the 1.5-mile track. 36. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport. Making his Charlotte debut, Kennedy improved upon his earlier intermediate result this season at Texas Motor Speedway . 37. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse cracked the top 10 with 70 laps to go, but watched his second top-10 of the season slip through his fingers after he hit the wall eight laps later 38. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley was mired in traffic after being penalized during the competition caution when a crew member went over the wall too early. 3 9. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill followed the race on Sunday by physically running 14 miles to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in support of the Folds of Honor Foundation. " Cassill completes unique Memorial Day weekend double 40. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson spun on Lap 90 and saved his car in a move reminiscent of Kansas Speedway , where he was victorious. But he wasn't able to save it a second time after he spun on Lap 274 and collided with the inside pit wall. " Second spin crunches Johnson's No. 48 41. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . In the final third of the race, Ragan cited his water temperatures were fluctuating and ultimately was sidelined by an engine issue. 42. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney cracked the top 11 on Sunday, but his strong run was halted on Lap 282 when his engine blew up. 43. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier, in his third Charlotte start, retreated to the garage after getting into the wall between Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 136. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Stewart at ease with new role at SHR, in NASCAR
RELATED: SHR, Ford expect fast start " Stewart's 2016 year in review CONCORD, N.C. -- Tony Stewart remembers standing on the floor of the Stewart-Haas Racing shop in mid-December. All around him, across the shop floor, were race car chassis. No body, no paint, no decals -- Just skeletons of race cars-to-be. It's part of a long process for Stewart-Haas Racing , as the team transitions from Chevrolet to Ford for the 2017 NASCAR season. "This has been a really, really tough offseason for these guys," Stewart said Wednesday at the Ford Performance Center. "…To think how far these guys have come in such a short amount of time, I mean, I'm really proud (of them). Especially the fab shop -- Those guys really deserve a big pat on the back because it has been a huge undertaking to get so many cars ready in such a short amount of time. "And when I say they're getting them ready, they didn't throw them together; the same level of quality that they always do. I'm really proud of what they've produced so far." His team isn't the only one making a huge transition this season; Stewart begins the new year as a freshly retired Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver, having raced his final season in 2016. This marks the first season in 18 years where Stewart won't be prepping for a season in NASCAR's premier series. RELATED: Rock star surprises Stewart in Las Vegas Does he miss it? "It will be nice to be at the track and not be sore and not be uncomfortable sitting on the pit box," said Stewart, who battled back from a severe back injury at the start of his final season. "I'll actually be able to really focus on what's going on and … move around and listen to each car and what they're fighting during the day and hopefully being able to have some input that can help." But "Smoke" fans, never fear: Stewart will still be at the race track. The three-time champion NASCAR driver plans on racing nearly 80 late model, sprint cars and three-quarter midget races this season, along with managing his race team, co-owned with Gene Haas. Stewart expects to attend nearly all the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup races in 2017, where he’ll be able to offer guidance to the teams of Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Danica Patrick and Clint Bowyer , the new driver of the No. 14 ride. RELATED: Top moments in SHR history Wearing a large smile on Wednesday, Bowyer’s high spirits conveyed his excitement about racing the No. 14 car -- and his new team owner. "To be honest with you, it's been a breath of fresh air," Bowyer said on having Stewart as his car owner. "I didn't know what he was like as an owner, I only knew what he was like as a person hanging out and things like that. "But man, I'm telling you, at the shop at the Christmas party this year -- he showed up as Santa Claus, by the way, and the outfit fit him perfect -- but Santa Claus interacted and made everyone feel at home. Those are his people and he treated them as his people and it showed me, you could just see how much they embraced that and enjoyed that interaction with him and what it meant to them." The NASCAR world has known that Bowyer was next in line for the No. 14 crown since the end of Sepember 2015. But that reality seemed to sink in when Bowyer's name glistened above the door of the new No. 14 Ford today -- No more "Smoke." Tony's OK with that. "It's not that weird, honestly," Stewart said. " … I'm proud to see his name above the door and proud to see what he can do. The part that's been shocking is going back to my sprint car shop and seeing them put my name on cars this week because they're decaling our cars for the season. I haven't been used to that for a couple years now, so I'm excited about both sides of it." It's a ground of familiarity for Stewart, whose background is rooted in dirt track racing. But as he hasn’t driven a sprint car in two and a half years, the 45-year-old isn't sure what to expect of his results on track this season. Dare he say he's like a rookie again? "I know it sounds like I'm a rookie driver, but I kind of feel like one," Stewart said. "(My schedule) depends on how I'm progressing really … I think there's going to be some races that we are going to announce coming up pretty soon that are races that I've been looking forward to going to that I've not had a chance to run before. So there's a bunch of tracks and a bunch of events that I've not raced at before that I'm going to finally get to go to." RELATED: SHR transition among key story lines to watch for in '17 Where the long-term future holds for Stewart the driver is yet to be seen, as he jokes that he's thrown a curveball in probably every offseason since joining forces with Haas. But right now, it's about his team. "I'm going straight to the shop from here," Stewart said. "I'm excited to see how much is done versus the last time I was there. Everybody says we have a long way to go, but we've come a long way. I think I'm going to be very pleasantly surprised when I get there." &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;gt;
Ford expects to come out firing with SHR in mix
RELATED: Stewart at ease in new role at SHR CONCORD, N.C. -- With the start of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series little more than one month away, Stewart-Haas Racing teams continue to work through the switch to a new manufacturer, Ford officials now have "more bullets" in their chamber and Clint Bowyer can't wait to make his first official start for SHR. Those were the key takeaways from Wednesday's gathering of Ford and SHR folks held at the Ford Performance Technical Center here in Concord, North Carolina. After years of fielding Chevrolet entries, SHR announced last February that the four-team organization would make the swap to Ford for '17. That's increased the workload somewhat at the team's Kannapolis, North Carolina, headquarters, but preparing for a new season always keeps teams busy. "Every offseason, we start the year and don't feel like we're ready, don't feel like we're quite where we want to be," said co-owner Tony Stewart . "This winter has been a big challenge obviously, but we were prepared for it. … "The team has done a great job. The great thing is their spirits are high and they're really excited about the switch to Ford. You can tell there's a lot of work to be done and a lot going on but ... I'm really proud of our guys and how dedicated they've been to this process." Dave Pericak, Global Director of Ford Performance, said the quickness with which SHR has progressed off the track has been impressive. "The level of collaboration has been fantastic and the speed at which these guys implement and get things done, these guys are racers and there's no messing around," he said. "When there is something that we all know is the right thing to do, just the speed at which Stewart-Haas gets things done is pretty amazing." Stewart ended his NASCAR driving career in '16 with three championships and 49 victories. Bowyer, following a one-year stint at the former HScott Motorsports , will take over Stewart's familiar No. 14 entry. Kevin Harvick , the 2014 champion, returns as do Danica Patrick and 2004 champ Kurt Busch . Not surprisingly, after a season that saw him finish a career-low 27th in points with just three top-10 results, Bowyer admitted he is "champing at the bit." "Pretty damn hard not to be," Bowyer said when asked if he felt rejuvenated by the opportunity. "The thing about it, they're just racers," Bowyer said of the SHR group. "Everybody's working ... just head down, working hard, trying to get better, trying to get faster. They don't take second as an option. It's not an option. They go and work hard and figure out how to win these races. "It doesn't matter what it takes to do it. You have those resources put in place." For Ford officials, the addition of SHR "will raise the level for all of us," according to Raj Nair. Nair, Executive VP for Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer for Ford Motor Company, said "you can't argue with the results out of Stewart-Haas." "So we're all going to learn a lot just by that association." Team Penske , Roush Fenway Racing , Wood Brothers Racing , Richard Petty Motorsports and Front Row Motorsports formed the bulk of the Ford armada in '16. While the Penske teams of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have been title contenders since making the move from Dodge to Ford in 2013, no Ford team has won the championship since Busch won the title in 2004. The company's last manufacturer's title came more than a decade ago as well, in 2002. "It's no secret that (the addition of SHR) brings more bullets to our gun as well," Nair said. "We've got more cars that will be running up front and a bigger chance to win. Sometimes in this sport you're playing the odds a little bit. You can have the fastest car but sometimes stuff happens. So having more faster cars up there is going to increase our chances to make sure the blue oval is in Victory Lane." &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
The race to 30: Three drivers eye career mark
In December we analyzed three drivers who are closing in on 40 wins in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . This week, we'll look at those close to a lesser milestone, but a milestone all the same -- 30 career wins. In premier series history 24 drivers have reached the 30-win plateau, from Richard Petty (200 wins) to fellow Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett (32). Of those 24 drivers, 18 have been eligible for the NASCAR Hall of Fame … and all 18 have been inducted, or in the case of Mark Martin, will be inducted. Jeff Gordon (93 wins) and Tony Stewart (49 wins) aren't eligible yet, but are widely considered locks to be enshrined as well. The other four drivers above 30 wins in NASCAR history are active and ineligible at this time. Here's a look at the three current drivers (it was four prior to Carl Edwards ' announcement last week) with 30 in their sights, as well as a full list of drivers with 30 or more wins in NASCAR's history.
Stewart-Haas Racing 'ready' for move to Ford
Team co-owner Tony Stewart talks about why it was important to Stewart-Haas Racing to make the move to Ford, as well as the decision to start making its chassis in 2017.