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Post-Race Reactions: Too Tough to Tame 200
Hornaday, Bodine, Crafton and Buescher comment on their top-five finishes at Darlington.
How Darlington's distinctive design was made
RELATED: Buy tickets " See all the throwback paint schemes Editor's Note: This story first ran on NASCAR.com on September 2, 2015 ahead of last season's throwback race at Darlington Raceway . The unique, oblong layout of Darlington Raceway was made by design in 1949, a year before it welcomed NASCAR's big leagues for its first 500-mile race. How it happened is no small fish tale, in a manner of speaking. When Harold Brasington purchased 70 acres of land from farm owner Sherman Ramsey for the site of NASCAR's first superspeedway, there was one condition -- Ramsey requested that the minnow pond on his property not be disturbed. The result was a set of turns on one end of the track that was tighter than the opposite end, which gives the track its distinctive egg shape. The abstract layout continues to challenge NASCAR drivers and crew chiefs alike, some 65-plus years after its debut. Among the track’s many traditions is the "Darlington Stripe," a black tire mark created from cars’ frequent brushes along the outside retaining wall. RELATED: See the best Darlington Stripes in NASCAR history Kyle Petty -- who had a history of futility on the 1.366-mile track, with zero top-five finishes in 51 Cup starts at Darlington -- famously quipped in an ESPN interview after a crash that the track would be better served to be filled with water for bass fishing. Had that unlikely conversion ever happened, Petty would have had a ready source for bait in Ramsey's pond. The track, known as "The Lady in Black," has also been known as one that is " Too Tough to Tame " and is one of the more unique configurations in NASCAR and will provide quite the challenge for drivers in both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Labor Day weekend. The XFINITY Series VFW Sports Clips Help A Hero 200 is on Sept. 3 (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 is on Sept. 4 (6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). &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;gt;
GarageCam tries to tame Darlington
The GarageCam gang tries to tackle a place that has been called 'The Track Too Tough to Tame .'
Logano leaps to Coors Light Pole Award at Michigan
RELATED: Qualifying results " See every car, team rosters BROOKLYN, Mich. – If Joey Logano was looking for a good omen for Sunday, he found it on Friday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway . Touring the two-mile track in 35.697 seconds (201.698 mph) during the final round of knockout qualifying for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN), Logano edged Jimmie Johnson (201.523 mph) for the top starting spot by .031 seconds. The Coors Light Pole Award was Logano's third at MIS. On the previous two occasions the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford started first on the grid—in August 2013 and June 2016—he won the subsequent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Should Logano win form the pole on Sunday, he would be the third driver to win three or more Michigan races from the top starting spot, joining NASCAR Hall of Famers David Pearson and Bill Elliott . "Any time you put your name with a Hall of Famer of any sort, it would be really special for me," said Logano, who has collected three poles this season and 16 in his career. "That's crazy—that's a really, really neat stat. "We've got to do it though. But, obviously, starting up front here is an advantage, for sure. We talk about track position. We talk about safety on restart, being how crazy it is with the low-downforce package. And the first pit stall—probably the most important thing of all is keeping the track position through the race." And, of course, when Logano is fast in qualifying trim at MIS, he usually races well, too . "I'm excited about it," he said. "I thought our car was really fast in race trim earlier (in practice). ... I didn't think we were going to make it happen today (in qualifying), but (crew chief) Todd (Gordon) made some good adjustments, and he gave me a little pep talk, and I was ready to go. I was going to drive the heck out of that thing." Denny Hamlin (201.406 mph) qualified third, followed by Kevin Harvick (201.382 mph) and Chase Elliott (201.303 mph). Johnson's second-place start led a resurgence by Hendrick Motorsports , which placed all four cars in the top 12 during qualifying for only the second time this season, the first coming in May at Talladega, a restrictor-plate track. "It was just an awesome day for this Lowe's race car and this Lowe's race team," Johnson said. "We keep stacking pennies and making this car better and better. "My hat's off to everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and all the hard work they're putting into things. Great practice and great qualifying. We need some more practice sessions (Saturday) and roll them into a good race." Johnson participated in a NASCAR organization test (one car per team) on Tuesday at Chicagoland Speedway and found the session helpful in finding speed. Indeed, the Hendrick cars more than held their own against the four entries from Joe Gibbs Racing , which have been the dominant force in Cup qualifying this season. Hamlin and Carl Edwards (ninth), were the only two JGR drivers to make the top 12, with Matt Kenseth qualifying 13th and Kyle Busch 16th. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
ThorSport draws strength to keep trucking after devastating fire
RELATED: Exclusive look at the ThorSport shop in Ohio SANDUSKY, Ohio -- No matter what happens from here on out, win or lose, championship or bust, ThorSport Racing officials likely will look back on the 2016 season as something of a rebirth. It's been a year in which the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series organization has literally risen from the ashes. Cut short just seven races into the season by a raging fire that damaged much of the team's race shop, the company marched on, spent weeks working piecemeal out of everything from the parking lot of a former grocery store to a section of bays inside a custom trailer manufacturing facility. Each off-site venue was within roughly a five-mile radius of the team's 100,000-square-foot home base. Each was also an example of a small, tight-knit community reaching out to help in any way possible. ThorSport, owned by Duke and Rhonda Thorson, has fielded entries in the Camping World Truck Series since 1996, the second year of the series' existence. Today, four teams run out of the large cream-colored building -- the No. 88 Toyota Tundra of two-time series champion Matt Crafton , the No. 13 of Cameron Hayley , the No. 41 of Ben Rhodes and the No. 98 of Rico Abreu. Rhodes and Abreu are Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates. But for six weeks, the four teams and approximately 85 employees worked "old school," minus many of the technological necessities prevalent throughout all three of NASCAR's national series. They did so while traveling to and competing at Iowa and St. Louis, Kentucky and Eldora. Walk into the shop today and you might not realize the place had been filled with smoke "so thick you couldn't see your hand in front of your face," one first responder recalled on Thursday, or that water was "up to our knees in most places, and running out of the hauler bays in back like a river," said another. But the smell tells another story. "There were times," said Jim Johnson, captain of the Perkins Township Fire Department, "I thought we were going to lose the entire building." Johnson was the first to arrive on the scene, just after midnight on Monday, June 13. Assuming it was nothing more than a small brush fire out back of the team's headquarters, he said he quickly realized the severity of the situation and alerted departments from nearby townships as well as Sandusky. Three other localities and 47 firefighters quickly responded. The fire, which began outside behind the main building, had spread up the rear wall and then began moving beneath the rubber-sealed roof. The rear portion, which housed a fabrication area and machine shop, had to be knocked down in order for firemen to get to the blaze. Johnson said it took approximately 500,000 gallons of water to finally extinguish the fire. Most equipment was quickly removed from the shop -- a large grassy area outside was soon filled with race trucks, pit boxes and assorted tools. There were no injuries and, surprisingly, no race vehicles were damaged to the extent that they had to be discarded. While ThorSport teams regrouped and continued to focus on racing, workers began the process of renovating the shop. Walls, blackened by smoke and damaged by water, were torn down to the studs and rebuilt. New wiring was installed. Eventually, equipment was brought back in. And what little remained of the destroyed rear portion, about 25,000 square feet of shop space, was hauled away. The organization was slowed, perhaps, but not stopped. "We can't use (the fire) as an excuse to under-achieve," ThorSport General Manager David Pepper said. Today, trucks in various states of assembly sit on the pristine shop floor. Work has resumed in a building, a former slaughterhouse that was first put into use by the group in 2011. "Duke and Rhonda have given us our biggest, best resource you could possibly ask for to win races, and we've proven we can do that from here," Carl "Junior" Joiner, crew chief for Crafton, said. "Not having it, you were lost. "At this level, you need resources like this to win and we didn't have that for a long time." The smell, less strong now, still lingers inside the shop. Inside some of the trucks, too . "We still have to put air fresheners in some of them because of the stench," he said. It is not only a reminder of what happened, but how far the organization has come in such a short period of time. "When something bad happens, my father always told me, 'Well kid, it builds character.' And I know that we're going to be stronger from it," Joiner said. "I know we will." &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;
Fit Row: Cassill runs lap around MIS to talk fitness routines
Landon Cassill, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and triathlete, joins NASCAR.com's Maggie MacKenzie for a run around the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway to talk about his recent IRONMAN and Landon's fitness routines.
Employer grants Bowman time off to drive No. 88
RELATED: Full timeline of Junior's injury BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Alex Bowman is just like every 23 year old, balancing the ins and outs of a new career as a young adult. He was pulled away from his day job this week when he was asked to fill in for Dale Earnhardt Jr . -- who continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms -- for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). And where is his day job? Bowman said Friday during his media availability at Michigan International Speedway that he spends his Tuesdays and Thursdays at Hendrick Motorsports working in the simulation department. Half day at work today so I can make the flight. Ready for @MISpeedway — Alex Bowman (@AlexBRacing) August 25, 2016 "They're pretty flexible when you tell them that you've got to drive the No. 88 car and that you need to leave a couple of hours early to get to the airport, Bowman said with a laugh. "… And (the job) kind of keeps me relevant at HMS and I get to learn a lot and still be part of a race team even though I'm not driving every week. So, it's been really cool and I'm just as thankful for that opportunity as I am for this." This weekend marks the second time Bowman will wheel the No. 88 Chevrolet in place of Earnhardt. He made his debut at July's New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sprint Cup Series event, where he finished 26th after a late tire rub. He will lineup for the weekend's main event in the sixth position -- the best starting position of his career -- following Friday afternoon's three-round qualifying session. It is unclear whether Bowman will be back in the HMS entry for a third time this year with Jeff Gordon taking over driver responsibilities for next weekend's Bojangles' Southern 500 , but he's there if his employer needs him. "We'll just have to see Dale's timeline, but I'm definitely happy to get in the car whenever needed," said. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;span _rtespchksugg=&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;Lt"alt"ult"flt"let"lit"lat"lot"ltd"t&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot; style=&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;background-color: #ffffaa;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot; _rtetemp=&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;spchk&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;am&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/span&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;p;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Kahne: 'If I haven't performed by 2018, I need to leave'
Kasey Kahne doesn't see Hendrick Motorsports ' hiring of William Byron to drive in the XFINITY Series as a threat to his current Sprint Cup ride in the No. 5 Chevrolet. But Kahne hasn't won since August 2014 at Atlanta Motor Speedway , and he does recognize that if he doesn't perform by 2018 -- the final year of his current contract -- a change is needed. "I didn't really think about the rest," Kahne told FOXSports.com . "If I haven't performed by 2018, I need to leave. It's pretty simple. That has nothing to do with William Byron or anyone else. "If I haven't performed by then, it's time to go do something different. That's just the way racing and life is." The 36-year-old driver also told FOXSports.com that he received a call from team owner Rick Hendrick prior to the Byron announcement giving him a heads-up on the hiring. Kahne joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, winning twice in his first year with the organization. He's won five Sprint Cup events all together under the Hendrick umbrella, but two winless seasons have caused him to miss the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for two straight years. He currently is ranked 17th in the driver standings heading into Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, Sirius XM NASCAR radio).
Ben Kennedy makes special visit to Michigan elementary school
Bristol NCWTS winner, Ben Kennedy, along with Michigan International Speedway and NASCAR Acceleration Nation pay a visit to Ezra Eby Elementary School near MIS to educate fourth and fifth graders about the science behind racing.
Johnson's No. 48 to honor Pearson, Earnhardt at Darlington
RELATED: See all the Darlington throwbacks " BUY TICKETS: Darlington CONCORD, N.C. -- The throwback paint scheme featured on the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson for this year's Bojangles' Southern 500 pays tribute to a pair of former series champions and NASCAR Hall of Fame members. Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports entry will carry a familiar blue and yellow scheme reminiscent of the colors associated with Dale Earnhardt in which he captured rookie of the year honors for NASCAR's premier series in 1979 and the first of his seven series championships a year later. Earnhardt drove for team owner Rod Osterlund at that time. Earnhardt did not compete in the '79 Southern 500, the fourth and final race of the season he was forced to miss due to injuries sustained in a hard crash earlier that season at Pocono Raceway . Subbing for the team in those four events was three-time NASCAR premier series champion and Hall of Fame member David Pearson. Pearson finished second at Talladega, fourth at Michigan and seventh at Bristol before putting the team in victory lane at Darlington Raceway . It was his ninth title at Darlington, long considered the series' most difficult track to master, and his third in the Labor Day classic. "I think it's really cool," Chad Knaus, crew chief for Johnson, said Wednesday during the unveiling of the car. "I can remember the car and scheme from when I was younger, seeing it on television. "Obviously Dale's first championship (in 1980) came in a paint scheme similar to this." Earnhardt's nine Darlington wins are second only to Pearson's 10; he also won three Southern 500 titles. Lowe's Home Improvement, longtime sponsor of Johnson and the No. 48 HMS team, has a tie-in as well, providing funding for the No. 2 entry at Talladega in '79. More than two dozen throwback paint schemes for this year's running of the Bojangles' 500 (Sunday, Sept. 4, 6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) have been announced. The program launched last season and is expected to continue for the next several seasons. "The whole Darlington thing is a lot of fun, the environment is full of energy," Knaus, who'll sport a throwback-styled firesuit similar to that of his driver, said. "Maybe I'll get a couple of stopwatches ( to time cars), too ." Johnson, a six-time series champion, has three Darlington wins, two in the 500. " To get another victory there," Knaus said, "would be fantastic." &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;