Post-Race Reactions: Top Gear 300
Roush teammates Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse and others comment on a hot and long day in Charlotte.
Top five gives Bristol boost to Buescher's Chase hopes
RELATED: Race results " Updated Chase Grid " Driver standings BRISTOL, Tenn. – Chris Buescher took another important step toward earning a berth in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , garnering a hard-fought fifth-place finish in Sunday's rain-delayed Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway . It was the second top -five finish of the season for the 23-year old driver of the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports , and came just three weeks after his first career win in the series. That win, which came at Pocono Raceway , opened the door for a Chase berth but only if the 2015 XFINITY Series champion could make his way into the top 30 in points. The finish at Bristol did just that, vaulting him past David Ragan and into 30th place. Teammate Landon Cassill sits 29th, 27 points ahead. RELATED: How the Chase bubble looks post-Bristol "I don't know exactly where we're at quite yet, but I know we had to get there," Buescher said on pit road after his top -five finish. "That's Chase eligibility in one race out of the four we had to do it. Now we have to hold onto it." Sunday's event, the continuation of a race that started Saturday night but was interrupted after just 48 laps due to rain, was also impacted by weather, starting more than three hours late. Kevin Harvick , the 2014 series champion, won, with Ricky Stenhouse ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Denny Hamlin ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Austin Dillon ( Richard Childress Racing ) and Buescher completing the top five. The overnight delay didn't seem to impact the performance of Buescher and his team. After running inside the top 20 for most of the race, Buescher finally cracked the top 10 with 125 laps of the 500-lap race remaining. From there, he steadily worked his way into the top five. "I'm really proud of this team," he said. "... We knew Bristol would be a good one for us. It took us a day later to do it, but we got ourselves a top -five and had a blast out here. That was an awesome run." Buescher has only a brief history at Bristol in Sprint Cup competition, finishing 25th here in last year's spring race and 21st earlier this season. In the XFINITY Series, he posted three top 10s in five starts. "I love Bristol. I absolutely love this race track." With five laps to go, Buescher had closed on Dillon when his team told him, "You've got room; try him if you can." Another position would mean another point earned. Buescher said the risk of losing spots should he make a run at the RCR driver wasn't a concern. "I wasn't planning on messing up if I got next to him," he said. "It was one of those things where we could catch him and then mess up a corner and get a little bit of gap, and then we got back to him there. "I think the 19 (of Carl Edwards ) and someone else was behind us, and they were within a couple car-lengths, so I didn't want to go to the bottom and give those two cars a chance to pass us and lose two points that easily." With a precarious points position and three races remaining to determine the full 16-team Chase field, Buescher says the team's plan of attack won't be altered by what could go wrong in those races, either. It's what should go right that matters. "We came to Bristol knowing that we had speed, that we love this race track, and it was a good chance for us to go out and have an awesome run," he said, "and that's exactly what we were able to do. "Points will fall however they will. You can't focus on them too much because you lose sight of what the main goal is, and that's to go out and win races." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Darlington paint scheme fan vote early top 10 revealed
RELATED: All the 2016 throwback paint schemes " Buy tickets " Vote now The Darlington Best In Show fan vote is underway, and we have some early returns to share. As Darlington Raceway celebrates NASCAR's history with its second of four planned throwback weekends for this year's Bojangles' Southern 500 (6 p.m. ET Sept. 4, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), fans are voting on their favorite paint schemes honoring drivers and paint schemes of yore. The top 10 vote-getters up until now are, in alphabetical order: AJ Allmendinger , Kurt Busch , Kyle Busch , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Matt Kenseth , Casey Mears , David Ragan , Tony Stewart and Martin Truex Jr . The top five fan vote getters' paint schemes will be presented to a panel of NASCAR Hall of Fame members, who will make the final selection. The award for the Best Throwback Paint Scheme will be presented to the winning team and driver prior to the Bojangles' Southern 500 . &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;
The Rundown: Michigan driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway : 1. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Twice, Larson had to overcome problems on pit road. Twice, Larson beat Chase Elliott on restarts from the front row. The second one, with 10 laps to go, was the difference. Larson gets his first Sprint Cup win in his 99th start and his ticket punched to the Chase. Well done. Grade: A 2. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Restarts, restarts, restarts. Elliott lost the first race at Michigan because of poor restarts and it happened again Sunday. And just like in June, Elliott finished second. Grade : A- 3. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . The native of Michigan posted his sixth straight top 10 at his home track but to his chagrin remained winless in the Irish Hills. Grade: A 4. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney needs a win to make the Chase, and he drove like it Sunday, posting his first top 10 in 10 races. Grade: A 5. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick led 33 laps, and his 3.56 averaging running position topped the field. Grade: A 6. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson was a factor -- and the leader -- until his green-flag pit stop on Lap 109. But his gas man had trouble refueling the No. 48, and from that point forward Johnson was playing catchup. His 37 laps led were second to Kyle Larson ’s 41. Grade: A- 7. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards now has two wins, seven top fives and 15 top 10s in 2016. That’s what he had all of last season. Grade: A 8. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray finished eighth for the third consecutive week. He holds the last spot in the Chase standings by 15 points over Ryan Newman with two races to go before the field is set. Grade: A 9. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin’s sixth straight top -10 finish is the longest active streak. Grade: A 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . All of the polesitter’s strength came at the start of the race. A slow final pit stop left him 17th on the last restart. Grade: A- 11. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle had a nice finish, but he was never a factor. Only Kyle Busch ’s 26 laps in the top 15 were fewer than Biffle’s 44 among drivers who finished in the top 20. Grade: B 12. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Borrowing a page from Greg Biffle … Busch was not a factor, either, and only his brother’s 24.84 average running position was worse than his 17.34 among drivers who finished in the top 20. Grade: B 13. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . In the first 12 races of the season, Kenseth led 398 laps. In the next 12, 79 laps, including eight Sunday, his first laps led since his victory last month at New Hampshire. Grade: B 14. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne is going to need a win -- or a miracle -- to make the Chase field. He trails Jamie McMurray by 52 points for the final Chase-eligible spot after finishing outside the top 10 for the eighth straight race. Grade: B 15. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger finished in the top 15 in four consecutive races for the first time since the end of the 2011 season. Grade: B 16. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon is 15th in the Chase standings with a 21-point cushion over Ryan Newman in 17th. Grade: B 17. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman should consider himself fortunate to be only 15 points out of 16th with two races to go for the Chase field is set -- he hasn’t had a top -10 finish in his past five races. Grade: B- 18. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Regular readers of The Rundown know we have been enthralled by Menard’s propensity to finish 18th. He racked up his sixth of the season Sunday. Grade: C 19. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch's troubles at Michigan continued when he got loose in Turn 4 on the 26th lap and went for a spin. His average finish in his past seven starts at Michigan is 32.0 with one finish on the lead lap -- and it wasn't Sunday. Grade: C 20. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Truex's shot at winning or having a top finish ended on Lap 66 when the jack man lowered the car before the left rear tire was changed. The damaged left-rear quarter panel was an issue the rest of the day. Grade: C- 21. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . The driver with a win and five top fives in a seven-race stretch has finished 30th and 21st in his past two races. Is the mojo gone? Grade: C 22. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears finished outside the top 10 at Michigan for the 13th consecutive race. Grade: C 23. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . This marks the first time in Patrick's four full-time Sprint Cup seasons she has not finished in the top 20 in at least one of the two Michigan races. She finished 21st in June. Grade: C 24. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne went into last week's race at Bristol eight points out of the final Chase spot. He leaves Michigan 58 points back. Grade: C 25. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Michigan is one of two tracks on which Almirola has made at least 10 starts and has yet to post a top 10. (The other is Pocono.) Grade: C- 26. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith posted his best finish at Michigan since a career-best 13th in August of 2011. Grade: C 27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Since scoring a career-best 15th at Michigan in August 2014, Stenhouse's finishes at the 2-mile track are 25th, 26th, 29th and 27th. Grade: C- 28. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Sunday’s race was something to build on: In his first race at Michigan in June, Scott left with a 36th-place finish and a DNF (crash). Grade: C 29. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Because of Ragan's proximity to Chris Buescher in the standings, he will continue to be one of the most-watched drivers through Richmond. On Sunday, Ragan took a nibble out of Buescher's points lead and is now seven points behind Buescher for 30th in the standings. Grade: C 30. Alex Bowman , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Bowman started sixth and was running in the top five when the car’s ignition failed. A day of promise ended right there, and Dale Earnhardt Jr .’s replacement finished five laps back. Grade: D 31. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell won Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Road America , but his string of top -20 Sprint Cup finishes ended at a season-best two. Grade: D 32. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto battled brake issues all day. Grade: D 33. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . A blown tire brought out the fourth and final caution, and Annett finished five laps back. Grade: D 34. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Whitt produced his worst finish in six starts at Michigan. Grade: D 35. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . With so much at stake, the No. 34 team could not afford the engine woes that dumped Buescher to 35th -- he finished 20th at Michigan in June -- but at least he didn’t finish last. Those extra five points might make the difference between making the Chase and major disappointment. Another positive takeaway: David Ragan could muster only a 29th-place finish. Grade: F 36. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson finished seven laps off the pace. Grade: D 37. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . Earnhardt had an accident in practice and was in a backup car. He finished eight laps back. Grade: D 38. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise's finish was his worst at Michigan since a 39th-place run in August 2013. Grade: F 39. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Suspension woes limited Cassill to 174 laps and left him with his first DNF of the season. Grade: F 40. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer said before the race he had his best car of the year. Yikes! Vibrations sent the No. 15 behind the wall, but Bowyer avoided a DNF, although he did finish 40 laps off the pace. Grade: F
Kyle Larson's parents missed son's first Sprint Cup win, but eager to see more
Perhaps Mike and Janet Larson should have seen it coming as they proudly and nervously watched their television and computer screens while son Kyle led the field to the checkered flag in Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway . The Larsons attend a healthy dose of their 24-year-old son's NASCAR races, but somehow have missed each of Kyle's inaugural NASCAR victories from the K&N Series, to the Camping World Truck Series and XFINITY Series. They were at home in Elk Grove, California, on Sunday when Larson scored his first victory at the sport's premier Cup level, too. "That's OK though," Mike Larson said, his voice full of happiness and emotion. "As long as he wins, I don't have to be there. "Janet and I would have been in the grandstands anyway, that's where we go every time to watch him race. It would have taken us half the (victory) ceremony anyway just trying to get back over there (to Victory Lane)." Instead, the Larsons stood in front of their television sets, tears rolling, hearts full, taking it all in. The dedication, the sacrifices, the hope, the joy that was this family's "every weekend" for years had resulted in a big-time, clutch victory three weeks before NASCAR's playoffs, the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . And while Mike and Janet might not have been trackside last weekend, they still had quite the view. "I was upstairs watching the end of the race, thinking 'Man, Janet is awful quiet today,'" Mike Larson said. "And then it got to be that last restart and Kyle gets the lead and I can hear her starting to stress. I don't hardly make a sound, but I thought, 'She's stressing me out.' "My heart, I'm telling you, it was just pumping over those last nine laps. I just kept thinking a yellow is going to come out, you think something is going to happen to derail this. I'm still very quiet watching, but then my arms went straight up in the air ... and I cried. I can admit that. "I get emotional about that." The Larsons can smile about their timing now. They took Kyle to his first race a week after he was born. Then, this close-knit family spent years together trekking around the West Coast watching Larson win and dominate races – karts and USAC features – from the time he was a little boy. From childhood, he loved this sport of racing so much he dressed up as NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon for Halloween – and still has the photo proof. The Larson's support has never wavered or waned even as their son earned his shot in NASCAR's big leagues and has quickly emerged as one of the most popular drivers on the circuit. Truth be told, the kind, funny, humble and extremely talented third-year Cup driver Larson has been one of the sport's bona fide stars even before hoisting his first Cup trophy. And now the Chip Ganassi Racing driver is a legitimate first-time title contender, too. And he should be quite optimistic about his chances at hoisting the big trophy. RELATED: Current stars' first Sprint Cup Series victory Larson's 2014 showing in Chase races – not as a Chase contender – was an incredible rookie effort and an enviable clutch performance. He boasted six top -10 finishes in the his No. 42 Target Chevrolet during the final 10 races that year. The Chase venues have been good for Larson. In the Chicago Chase-opener, Larson has finishes of third and seventh. His overall average finish at Dover is 6.2, and he's never fared worse than 11th there. He has a runner-up finish at Kansas (2014), was third at Martinsville in April and finished fifth at Homestead last year. He has at least one top -10 finish at every Chase track. "He thinks those are good tracks for him," his team owner Chip Ganassi said Sunday evening. "We think they're good tracks. He's shown before he knows his way around Miami [Homestead]. That's always good, to be good at the final track. "He's a shootout kind of guy. A lot of those races turn into shootouts. You're not so much racing the entire field in those races a lot of times. I look forward to it. ... I think he's the kind of driver that the Chase is made for, that format." After a throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway , NASCAR's newest Chase contender Larson will host his "Outlaw Kart Showcase" at hometown Cycleland Speedway in Chico, California. Less than two weeks later, Larson will begin his first Chase run thanks to that emotional, hard-fought victory Sunday. "This feels different because it's taken me a lot longer than it took me in any of the other stuff to get a win," Larson said Sunday. "It took me a couple months to win my first sprint car race, four days after my 15th birthday. Took me a few months to win when I got into USAC. Took me a few years to win an Outlaw race. "This, after the way my rookie season started, coming close a few times, not getting it done, you can visualize the win that early in your career. It's going to happen. It's going to happen. But it just never happened. "This one's different just cause of how long we had to wait and how much harder I've had to work for it. Like I said, it's special because all the hard work's paid off." And the good news for the Larson family is there will be plenty more wins to experience first-hand, and good odds they celebrate a championship sometime soon too.
Who can tame the lady in black?
NASCAR.com's Chris Rice and Jonathan Merryman make their picks to finish in the top ten at Darlington Raceway and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
SMI to offer select $10 kids tickets for Sprint Cup races
CONCORD, N.C. (Aug. 29, 2016) – In conjunction with a NASCAR industry-wide effort to offer free NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and XFINITY Series tickets for children 12 and under next season, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (NYSE: TRK) announced a company-wide Fans First initiative Monday to price select children's tickets at just $10 each to Cup Series events at its eight premier speedways beginning in 2017. "Coming to the races should be about fun, not finances," said Speedway Motorsports' President and Chief Executive Officer Marcus Smith. "Now a parent can get his or her child through the gates for an entire weekend of NASCAR events -- including pole night, a Camping World Truck or XFINITY Series race and a Sprint Cup Series race -- for just $10. This is one of the best, if not THE best, family values in all professional sports. "NASCAR fans have passed down their passion for motorsports from generation to generation for decades, and through this new Fans First initiative, we'll continue that legacy by introducing young fans to the sport and engaging them for years to come." With an adult ticket purchase, fans can buy up to two $10 tickets for children ages 12 and under to that same event in select seating sections. This offer is available at all of the 13 Sprint Cup Series events shown below next season. Tickets for many of Speedway Motorsports' 2017 events are already on sale. A complete schedule of the company's Sprint Cup Series races is below: March 5 : Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 , Atlanta Motor Speedway March 12: Kobalt 400, Las Vegas Motor Speedway April 9: O'Reilly Auto Parts 500, Texas Motor Speedway April 23 : Food City 500, Bristol Motor Speedway May 20 : NASCAR All-Star Race, Charlotte Motor Speedway May 28: Coca-Cola 600 , Charlotte Motor Speedway June 25 : Toyota/Save Mart 350, Sonoma Raceway July 8 : Quaker State 400, Kentucky Speedway July 16 : New Hampshire 301, New Hampshire Motor Speedway Aug. 19 : Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, Bristol Motor Speedway Sept. 24 : New England 300 , New Hampshire Motor Speedway Oct. 7 : Bank of America 500 , Charlotte Motor Speedway Nov. 5: AAA Texas 500 , Texas Motor Speedway Fans can obtain tickets to any Speedway Motorsports event by visiting www.ticketmaster.com or the individual Speedway Motorsports subsidiary facility websites.
Wallace Jr. reflects on top -ten finish at Bristol
Darrell Wallace Jr. talks about his night at Bristol after finishing 7th in the Food City 300 .
Top 10 consecutive lap averages at Michigan
RESULTS: Practice 1 " Practice 2 " Practice 3 Average speeds for drivers running 10 or more consecutive laps in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Michigan International Speedway : Practice 1 Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 42 Kyle Larson 1 10 194.178 2 14 Tony Stewart 1 10 193.710 Practice 2 Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 18 Kyle Busch 2 11 199.713 2 48 Jimmie Johnson 1 10 199.578 3 88 Alex Bowman (i) 2 11 199.403 4 5 Kasey Kahne 1 10 198.817 5 1 Jamie McMurray 10 19 198.165 6 19 Carl Edwards 10 19 198.115 7 24 Chase Elliott # 2 11 197.939 8 4 Kevin Harvick 10 19 197.802 9 2 Brad Keselowski 14 23 197.462 10 15 Clint Bowyer 1 10 197.177 11 83 Matt DiBenedetto 1 10 192.298 Practice 3 Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 42 Kyle Larson 1 10 196.346 2 24 Chase Elliott 1 10 196.015 3 48 Jimmie Johnson 1 10 195.995 4 5 Kasey Kahne 1 10 195.789 5 47 AJ Allmendinger 1 10 195.703 6 1 Jamie McMurray 1 10 195.514 7 41 Kurt Busch 1 10 195.442 8 31 Ryan Newman 1 10 195.322 9 20 Matt Kenseth 1 10 194.883 *Required to qualify on time, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, #Rookie
Merch Madness: Top 20 drivers released for Superstore anniversary
RELATED: Shop for NASCAR gear DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- This race weekend at Pocono Raceway marks the first anniversary of the Fanatics Trackside Superstore -- the reimagined and improved at-track shopping experience. The Trackside Superstore offers fans a one-stop-shop every race weekend with the largest selection of in-store NASCAR merchandise in the world -- bar none. Halfway through 2016, photo finishes, side-by-side racing and record passing as the Chase spots are clinched has not only driven interest in the telecast and engagement on digital and social, but also in driver merchandise sales. NASCAR fans take pride in flying the colors of their favorite drivers and the first-half merchandise sales results are officially tallied. The top three drivers are no surprise with Dale Earnhardt Jr . leading the rankings, followed by six-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and defending champion Kyle Busch . With rising stars like Austin Dillon , Kyle Larson , Joey Logano and Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney , there are currently five drivers in the top -20 list that are 26 years of age or younger. With six top -five finishes and two poles this season, Elliott continues to be one of the top three drivers in sales increases each race weekend and ranks fourth overall in full-time driver sales. Elliott's sales have nearly quadrupled in his rookie year, making him the youngest driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history to rank among the top -five in trackside merchandise sales. Also up from last season is Blaney, who is now a top -20 selling full-time driver and has more demand than ever racing in the iconic No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford Fusion. "I see more fans wearing No. 21 gear than ever before and it's cool to see them cheering on our team," said Blaney, driver of the No. 21 Ford Fusion. "There is nothing like seeing someone wearing your shirt or your hat and knowing they bought that because they are a fan. And the Trackside Superstore makes it an easy, one-stop shop for everyone to find your gear . It's been a great addition to our sport." With its flexible footprint, Fanatics has capitalized on defining moments from Kyle Busch , Martin Truex Jr . and Tony Stewart -- all with positive sales trends in 2016. Kyle Busch also experienced substantial gains of nearly 80 percent in sales since his comeback last summer and subsequent championship run. The most popular products available at the Trackside Superstore include apparel, headwear and novelty items. Lionel's 1:64 scale die-casts are up 77 percent year-over-year, one of the largest growth trends across all categories at the Trackside Superstore. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will hit the track this weekend at Pocono Raceway for the Pennsylvania 400 on Sunday, July 31 at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and MRN.