Top 5 for No. 5
Kasey Kahne and his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team pulled off their first top -five finish of the year at Richmond International Raceway. Kahne and Crew Chief Keith Rodden talk about improving at RIR.
Post-Race Reactions: Top Gear 300
Roush teammates Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse and others comment on a hot and long day in Charlotte.
Bayne honors Martin with Darlington throwback
RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes " SHOP: Bayne gear Trevor Bayne and Roush Fenway Racing have unveiled the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford that will take the track at Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles' Southern 500 (Sept. 4, 6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) on Labor Day weekend. Bayne's car will carry the same red, white and blue design that Mark Martin 's Ford did during the 1996 and 1997 seasons in the sport's top series. Martin won four races with the look in the two years. "It's an honor any time you are mentioned alongside Mark Martin ," Bayne said in a team release. "He obviously contributed a lot to Roush Fenway and this organization, so to carry a paint scheme that he ran for the second year in a row is really cool. Our team has been working really hard and running well this season, so I'm hopeful that we can make Mark proud." Last year at Darlington, Bayne honored a different paint scheme that Martin drove in 1998. You can see that paint scheme here . "It's going to be really cool to see that car on the track again at Darlington," Martin said in a team release. "It's always been one of my favorite paint schemes and we had a lot of good times taking that car to Victory Lane and leading a lot of laps during that time. I look at it as a tribute to all the guys that put the hard work in on those cars and gave us the opportunity to go out and compete each week." Check out the original look driven by Martin below.
Bruce: JGR on top now, but advantages can disappear
RELATED: See all the 2016 winners BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The reign of Kyle Busch may have momentarily subsided now that the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion went 0-for-2 this past weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway , but Joe Gibbs Racing teams still wound up in Victory Lane twice. Carl Edwards , Busch's Sprint Cup teammate, scored the win for JGR in Sunday's Food City 500 . Erik Jones earned the victory a day earlier for the organization, capturing the XFINITY Series race. So JGR teams haven't been beaten in a few weeks now, mid-March actually. And the organization doesn't appear to be headed for any sort of letdown. All four Sprint Cup teams ran well at Bristol -- with drivers Busch and teammate Matt Kenseth rallying on separate occasions after tire issues occured. Denny Hamlin ran in the top five, or nearly so, for the first 200 laps before a similar incident struck the No. 11 team. But Bristol, about as unique of a track as one will find on the NASCAR schedule, won't come around again for another four months. The "in-between" is littered with Dover and Charlotte, Pocono and Indy, Daytona and Loudon and many more ... as well as this weekend's stop at Richmond International Raceway . RELATED: Recap all of Busch's Cup wins " See all of Edwards' Cup wins It's a track where all four JGR drivers have excelled. Busch is a four-time winner on the .75-mile layout and Kenseth beat 'em all the last time the series visited RIR last fall. But advantages come and go quickly in NASCAR, and nowhere do they disappear as quickly as at the Sprint Cup level. Before Busch went on his mini-tear, folks were talking about Jimmie Johnson and how the six-time series champion already had two wins this season and boy it sure looked like this new lower downforce package played right into his hands. Things change. Advantages come and go. Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski don't drive for JGR and yet they’ve managed to win this season. And chances are they'll win again. No one will be caught off guard if Joey Logano , Kurt Busch or Martin Truex winds up in the winners' circle. It would be more surprising, in fact, if that doesn't happen. RELATED: See the Chase Grid picture The bigger question isn't can anyone beat Joe Gibbs Racing today. Instead, it's how much does having a win change what a team does between victory and the start of the Chase? For some, it probably does change things somewhat. That win-and-you're-in mentality gives crew chiefs and engineers and even drivers the freedom to make changes and take chances without the concern of how it could affect them in the points standings. It does not mean that after a win, teams will virtually disappear until the Chase. But it opens up the playbook considerably. The need to win might not be as urgent, but the desire to doesn't change.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 coming to Chicagoland
RELATED: Buy tickets for Chicagoland Photo credit: Stewart-Haas Racing 's Twitter account, @StewartHaasRcng NEW YORK – April 26, 2016 – Nickelodeon today announced that it is the entitlement sponsor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Sept. 18, dubbed the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway . Danica Patrick has signed on to drive a special car for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, which will be broadcast on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET, and will feature a weekend of action, activities and fun for the entire family with the iconic Heroes in a Half Shell. NASCAR star Danica Patrick , a Roscoe, Illinois native, helped kick off the partnership in true Turtles style. She unveiled her No. 10 April O’Neil/Nature's Bakery Chevrolet SS at an event at Wrigley Square in Millennium Park with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then took her car for a spin down Michigan Ave. She will join a number of other drivers with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles paint schemes for the Sept. 18 race. Photo courtesy of Chicagoland Speedway 's Twitter account, @ChicagoIndSpdwy This Sept. 15-18 marks the sixth consecutive year that Chicagoland Speedway will kick off the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . The Nickelodeon partnership will include sponsorship of the 2017 kickoff race, as well. "We are excited to partner with Chicagoland Speedway to continue sponsoring and participating in marquee racing events that resonate with motorsports fans across the country," said Anthony DiCosmo, Senior Vice President, Sports Marketing and Development, Nickelodeon. "Just as we did with last season's SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway , the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 will continue to expand our relationship with NASCAR, while working with another best-in-class ISC track to give fans a unique and engaging race experience that the whole family can enjoy." "We are thrilled to partner with a world class brand like Nickelodeon for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 on Sept. 18," said Scott Paddock, Chicagoland Speedway President. "This is an exciting opportunity for us to partner with one of the preeminent youth focused brands on the planet to deliver an unprecedented level of family entertainment while engaging Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans of all ages." "It's great to be back in my home state of Illinois to be a part of this exciting announcement for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400," said Patrick. "The Nickelodeon-sponsored races are really cool because they truly are fun for the entire family. Nature's Bakery and Nickelodeon have put together an awesome paint scheme and I can't wait to have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and April O'Neil riding along with me in September." Patrick's unique car was designed by Chicago artist Hebru Brantley, who will also design the race trophy, additional Turtles-branded paint schemes and other visual elements. Brantley breaks down the walls of cultural boundaries through his art and inspired by his 1980s Chicago upbringing, Brantley's work touches on tough subjects in a way that may be easily digestible to the viewer, by telling his stories through youthful characters and their adventures. Brantley’s work can be described as pop infused contemporary art inspired by Japanese anime and the bold aesthetics of street art pioneers Jean Michel Basquiat, KAWS and Keith Haring. During the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 race weekend, attendees will be able to enjoy fun family activities in the Nickelodeon Kids Zone, located in Champion’s Park. The area will feature appearances from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costumed characters, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles photo station and more. Nickelodeon has a long-standing relationship with NASCAR, teaming up with the motorsports giant on several programming and racing events. On the track, the network has sponsored the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway in 2015; brought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2014; participated in the Bank of America 500 week in 2012; and the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC in 2004. NASCAR has also contributed talent and content to Nickelodeon programming such as the Kids’ Choice Awards ( Danica Patrick , 2012 and 2013), Kids' Choice Sports Awards ( Danica Patrick , 2014, Ben Kennedy , 2015), Team Umizoomi ( Jeff Gordon , 2012), Hammer Down (2014), which aired on Nicktoon’s NickSports block, and an upcoming Bubble Guppies episode ( Jimmie Johnson , 2015). Currently in its fourth season, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is seen in over 170 countries and territories and translated in 50+ languages. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles follows four mutant turtles—Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo—trained in the art of ninjutsu by their mutant rat sensei, Master Splinter, who teaches the turtles to battle evil from the New York City sewers. Executive produced by Ciro Nieli and Brandon Auman, the series is created at Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, Calif. Additionally, this summer the Turtles will once again defend the streets of New York City in Paramount Pictures' highly anticipated theatrical movie, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, which arrives in theaters June 3."
H2H: Will Hendrick or JGR win at Talladega?
This weekend's race at Talladega Superspeedway will bring new excitement, drama and possibly a surprising race winner. Hendrick Motorsports is typically known as the organization to beat at the 2.66-mile track, but the recent domination of Joe Gibbs Racing 's four-car team may threaten the HMS quartet in the battle to top the leaderboard. In the latest Head-to-Head, NASCAR.com's Taylor Starer and Maggie MacKenzie debate which team is more likely to prevail at Talladega. Read their thoughts and vote in the poll below with your opinion. MACKENZIE: Let's get the Talladega weekend going. There's something about 'Dega that makes it so intriguing, from big wrecks to big wins. Now, if there's one thing certain, it's that Hendrick Motorsports and the superspeedway go together perfectly. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., for example, goes into every 'Dega race as the clear favorite thanks to his six wins there -- his winningest track to date. And let's not forget his 12 top fives and 16 top 10s, either. Junior has led multiple laps during each of the last five Sprint Cup races at the Alabama track, so expect the No. 88 to be up front once again and lead. STARER: Dale Jr. always brings it at Talladega, that's no secret. But the success Joe Gibbs Racing has seen this season is proving to be unmatchable. For starters, the four-car Toyota team just swept the month of April, with Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards dominating races at Martinsville, Texas, Bristol and Richmond. Junior and the rest of the Hendrick Motorsports wheelhouse have a strong history at 'Dega, but JGR has some serious momentum this season. I'd be interested to see if Junior's Talladega knowledge is enough to outsmart everything JGR has learned so far this season. MACKENZIE: There's no doubt that the JGR foursome has been on fire lately and whatever ingredients it has been mixing up make for one sweet concoction. With that being said, don't forget that Hendrick has been having success thus far, too. "Six-Time" added two wins to his resume this year at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway , while Kasey Kahne earned a season-best, fourth-place result at last week's Richmond race. And let's not count out rookie Chase Elliott . Elliott is the best newcomer in the Cup field and his back-to-back top -five finishes at Texas and Bristol proved he can outrace the veterans. It's only a matter of time before the 20-year-old wheels that iconic No. 24 to Victory Lane. STARER: All valid points, Maggie. But let's not forget who won this year's Daytona 500 , the only other restrictor-plate race that the Sprint Cup Series has run this season. That's right, Denny Hamlin . And it wasn't Hamlin's first show of superspeedway success. The No. 11 JGR driver saw Victory Lane at the Talladega spring race in 2014, and his teammate Matt Kenseth won there in 2012. You make a good argument with Elliott, but this will be the rookie's first Sprint Cup Series attempt at Talladega, a track known to eat newbies alive. Let's just hope the No. 24 Chevrolet makes it till the end of the 188-lap event with few scratches. MACKENZIE: You make a good point there about Hamlin and the Daytona 500 , Taylor. My mind, however, keeps going back to this race last year. Hamlin earned a respectable ninth-place finish, but who got the 1-2? That would be Junior and Johnson, who led a combined 117 of the 188 laps run that day. Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards finished 25th and 32nd, respectively. Talladega is quite unpredictable, but my money is on a similar finish to 2015. STARER: Ah yes, I was at this race last year and the No. 88's dominance was tough to beat. There's no doubt that Junior's chances of running up front are strong -- I just think JGR's are stronger, especially since Busch is back after missing this race last year. Despite what went down last week at Richmond, the Toyota team seems to be learning as a unit, hence why this team has compiled multiple wins, top -fives and top -10 finishes in 2016. There's not just one superspeedway star at JGR, which improves its odds, and that's what matters most. But, we'll just have to see where the cards fall. After all, it's 'Dega, baby.
Humpe back on track at Richmond
Defending NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series champion Kenny Humpe ( The TEAM ) found the winner's circle for the first time in 2016, taking the checkered flag at Richmond International Raceway after leading a race-high 88 of 200 laps. Humpe comfortably held-off Allen Boes ( Deadzone ) by 2.8 seconds, while Boes narrowly beat Ray Alfalla ( Slip Angle Motorsports ) for second. Corey Vincent followed the pair in fourth, 4.4 seconds behind the winner, with Matt Bussa rounding-out the top five. Humpe started from the outside of the front row and took the lead from pole sitter Nick Ottinger on Lap 26, shortly after the second caution flag of the race. He continued to lead until Lap 83 when the field headed to pit road for service under caution. Alfalla and Cody Byus had better pit stops than Humpe, relegating him to third on the restart. After the race went back to green Humpe struggled to close on Alfalla and Byus and, instead, settled into third spot. However, as the run wore on Humpe began gaining on Byus and finally passed him on Lap 138. Alfalla had begun to slow by this point and Humpe made his move for the lead on Lap 145 and nearly had a race-ending moment. As the two raced side-by-side through Turn Three, Humpe suddenly decided to pit for tires but overshot pit entry and narrowly avoided the safety barrels protecting the end of pit wall. Although the mistake cost him time, Humpe kept his car in one piece and safely made it to pit road next time around while Alfalla waited another lap before making his final stop. That extra lap proved costly to Alfalla, as he re-entered the track behind Humpe in spite of the defending champion's botched pit entry a couple laps prior. Although Bussa and Boes were ahead of Humpe and Alfalla, Humpe had no trouble dispatching them. The pass on Bussa only put Humpe in eighth, but the seven cars in front of him had yet to make their final stops and were no match for Humpe on fresh tires. He took the lead for the final time on Lap 168 and never looked back. Unsurprisingly, track position was of the highest importance at Richmond as none of the top five finishers started lower than twelfth and none of the top ten worse than fifteenth. Several sim racers in the running for the championship encountered trouble at Richmond, including both of the Stergios siblings. Jake Stergios ( ineX Racing ) was caught up in a crash and finished thirty-eighth while brother PJ sustained damage of his own but was able to continue and salvage a fourteenth place result. Chris Overland also went laps down early but took wave-arounds to get back into contention, finishing a respectable tenth. PJ Stergios' issues enabled Alfalla to leave Richmond with a nine-point cushion at the top of the standings with Boes an additional ten points back. Jake Stergios slipped to fourth, 54 points back after his troubles. Humpe's victory vaulted him to fifth in a dead heat with Overland but, trailing Alfalla by 62 points, he will need more runs like his Richmond win to get himself back into contention. Week Seven takes the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series to Las Vegas Motor Speedway , the first of four consecutive 1.5 mile tracks on the sim racing schedule. Vegas should play-out similarly to the Week Five race at Texas, so look for the Stergios brothers and Alfalla to be at the front. Can Humpe go back-to-back or will Slip Angle and ineX continue their dominance at the downforce tracks? Find out in two weeks on iRacingLive .
NASCAR Streak to the Finish: Who dominates at 'Dega?
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman and Chris Rice break down two picks from the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series that look to finish in the top ten at Talladega Superspeedway for NASCAR's Streak to the Finish fantasy game.
SHR tweaks pit crews of No. 10, No. 14 teams
In an effort to improve pit stops, Stewart-Haas Racing has moved around several crew members between its teams. This past weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway saw different faces on different teams. So let's start with the easy stuff: The No. 4 ( Kevin Harvick ) and No. 41 ( Kurt Busch ) looked to be the same as at Daytona. Both teams have been performing at a top level for years, and we didn't see any changes as of Richmond. Now the fun stuff. The No. 10 car of Danica Patrick had a different front carrier, rear changer, and rear carrier. The team moved rear carrier Matt Holzbaur to the front and added rear changer Jonathan Sherman and rear carrier Jeremy Howard. Both Sherman and Howard came from the No. 38 team ( Landon Cassill ), which is pit supported by SHR. The No. 14 of Tony Stewart got a new front changer in Ryan Mulder. Mulder was moved from the rear of the No. 10 to the front of the No. 14. The No. 38 team got a new front changer, front carrier, rear changer and rear carrier. Bryan Jacobsen moved from the No. 14 is now on the front with Jeff Shoaf, who moved from the No. 10 team. Anchoring the rear are now Chris Jackson and Tyler Bullard, who previously had worked up front on the 38. From what we can tell, no new pit crew members were hired or fired, just a restructuring of crewmen. Sometimes it takes a shake up to get the best crews together and it looks like SHR is trying to find the best combinations for its teams. For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com .
How qualifying works at Talladega
Qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway has undergone a few different formats over the past five years. The rules for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series races are the same as last year, but different from the procedures at intermediate and short tracks or road courses. There will be two rounds of qualifying with drivers turning one timed lap. The top 12 will advance to the final round. Each driver will take a warm-up lap, the timed lap and a cool-down lap before returning to pit road. Based on a random draw, vehicles will line up on pit road for the first round -- rather than nose in or nose out in a pit stall -- and NASCAR will release drivers at a predetermined interval. The sanctioning body reserves the right to have more than one vehicle on track at a time. It's likely that two vehicles will be on track at the same time, but the second vehicle won't impede or help the one it follows on track. Following each lap, NASCAR will impound vehicles, and there will be a 10-minute break between rounds. Only during that break may teams make adjustments, and they will only be allowed to adjust tape and use a cool-down unit at that time. The final round qualifying order will be set from slowest to fastest speeds in the first round with starting positions 1-12 determined by the fastest laps in that second session.