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Future stars unveiled in NASCAR Next 2016-17 class
RELATED: Get to know the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 17, 2016) – Two are following in the footsteps of their former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driving fathers. One is a long-time racer who competed on the reality television show "Survivor," and later added a degree from Stanford University. Another is one of the fastest rising stock car drivers in the Midwest. There is even a pair of international phenoms. From Charlotte to New York City, and from Quebec to Israel, the 11 drivers who were announced as the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class today are primed for a successful and impactful future in NASCAR. This is the sixth edition of NASCAR Next, an industry-wide initiative designed to spotlight to best and brightest rising young stars in racing. "The NASCAR Next program has introduced current stars such as Kyle Larson , Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney to the NASCAR fan, and we believe this year’s class has the same potential," said Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president of marketing and industry services. "These drivers have shown the talent and intangibles to climb the NASCAR ladder, and we look forward to watching their careers grow." This year's NASCAR Next class was selected through an evaluation process that included input from industry executives, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Drivers Council and media. Drivers must be between the ages of 15-25, have tangible and expressed goals in eventual competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and demonstrate the potential to realize that goal. MORE: Full NASCAR Next coverage The following drivers have been selected to the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class: Harrison Burton ( @HBurtonRacing ) - The 15-year-old from Huntersville, North Carolina, is the son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Burton . He has climbed to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series after setting the record last year as the youngest Division I race winner in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series history. Collin Cabre ( @CollinCabre12 ) – In his second season driving for Rev Racing and the NASCAR Drive for Diversity in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, the 22-year-old from Tampa, Florida, captured his first career win last October after making the successful move from racing sprint cars. Spencer Davis ( @SpencerDavis_29 ) – The 17-year-old Dawsonville, Georgia, driver has shown a proficiency in nearly everything he’s raced. After winning the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award last season in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, Davis has transitioned to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, where he has established himself as a championship contender with top six finishes in his first seven series starts dating back to last season. Alon Day ( @Alon_Day ) – One of two international drivers on the list, Day is the first NASCAR Whelen Euro Series driver to earn a NASCAR Next recognition. Day, 24, from Ashdod, Israel, completed his first full season in the Whelen Euro Series as championship runner-up. Including the final two rounds of 2015, Day has won four of the last eight Elite 1 races and is again a threat win the title. Tyler Dippel ( @Tyler_Dippel ) – An accomplished dirt racer, the 16-year-old from Wallkill, New York, has already scored his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory in March. Dippel previously competed in the DIRTcar Racing Series in the northeast, earning the rookie of the year title and becoming the youngest race winner in that series. Todd Gilliland ( @ToddGilliland_ ) – The son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran David Gilliland , the 16-year-old from Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, made NASCAR history by winning his first four career NASCAR K&N Pro Series starts. He became the youngest winner in series history with his victory last fall, and has followed it up with wins in both the K&N Pro Series East and West season openers this year. Noah Gragson ( @NoahGragson ) – The 17-year-old from Las Vegas finished second in the championship standings last year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, collecting the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the process. Gragson followed the path set by Kyle and Kurt Busch , learning his trade in the Legends and Bandolero Divisions at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . He earned a pair of K&N Pro Series West wins in 2015 and is again a championship contender. Gary Klutt ( @Garyklutt ) – The second Canadian to be named to the program and the first full-time driver from the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, Klutt represents a crop of young drivers making an impact on Canada’s championship stock car series. The 23-year-old from Halton Hills, Ontario, earned his first career pole and win last year en route to being named the Jostens Rookie of the Year. He finished fifth in series points and will be among the title contenders when the series opens later this month. Julia Landauer ( @julialandauer ) – Landauer, 24, from New York City, got her start racing a variety of cars – from Formula BMW to Ford Focus Midgets to stock cars. The versatile Landauer was a contestant on the hit reality show 'Survivor' before graduating from Stanford in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Science, Technology, and Society. She became the first female to win a Limited Late Model division championship at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia, last year before graduating to the K&N Pro Series West this season. Ty Majeski ( @TyMajeski ) – The 21-year-old from Seymour, Wisconsin, showcased his ability with a dominating display at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway in February, collecting three wins and earning the 2016 Super Late Model championship in the 50th Annual World Series of Stock Car Racing. Majeski added a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model track record and victory in the FrostBuster at Wisconsin’s LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway in April. Matt Tifft ( @Matt_Tifft ) – A development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing , the 19-year-old from Hinckley, Ohio, is driving part-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for JGL Racing as well as JGR, and racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Red Horse Racing. He earned his first career pole in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Talladega earlier this month. Since its inception in 2011, 27 of the 35 drivers who have been selected as part of the program have gone on to compete in one of NASCAR’s three national series. Nearly a third of the drivers have made a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start, with nine drivers winning a NASCAR national series race. The last two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookies of the Year have been NASCAR Next alum, as are the top two contenders for this year’s award: Blaney and Elliott. The last three Sunoco Rookie of the Year winners in both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series were also part of the NASCAR Next program. For more information, visit NASCARNext.com and make sure to follow the drivers on Twitter and on the track. About NASCAR The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States. NASCAR consists of three national series (the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™, NASCAR XFINITY Series™, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™), four regional series, one local grassroots series and three international series. The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. Based in Daytona Beach, Fla., with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit http://www.NASCAR.com and http://www.IMSA.com , and follow NASCAR on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram , and Snapchat ('NASCAR').
Ben Rhodes: Chasing dreams on-track and on-camera
Ask some of the people who work most closely with Ben Rhodes about him and you'll get the same sense -- that the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie isn't an ordinary 19-year-old. Ask his crew chief. "I've known this kid since he was 15 years old and he was always very mature, very respectful and acts older than he is," Kevin Bellicourt says. "I mean, the way he has shown maturity in the race car and everything around that, I do forget that he is 19 years old." Ask the sports director who co-hosts Rhodes' TV show -- yes, his own TV show -- in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. "I'll look at him sometimes and I'll just be like, 'Look, stop it. Just be a kid.' But he's not," Kent Spencer says. "He's definitely wise beyond his years." The wisdom has served Rhodes well in all facets of his budding NASCAR career, which carried him to the K&N Pro Series East championship in 2014 and a stint with the NASCAR Next youth initiative that identifies the sport's up-and-coming stars. The next step is a full-season campaign this year with powerhouse ThorSport Racing in the Truck Series, which makes its next stop Friday night at Kansas Speedway . Even in casual conversation, Rhodes' composure comes through in a calm that belies his age, less than one year removed from receiving a high school diploma. It's a collected nature that helps him feel just as at home in front of a TV camera's lens as he does behind the wheel. Rhodes doesn't have to balance a racing career with schoolwork any more, but his focus is far from singular. "It's full-time racing now, and it's full-time everything that has to do with racing, not just being on the track or working on the cars, but sponsors, events, fans -- which is cool," Rhodes says. "I really like that aspect of it. You can't be on the track without that." The story of how Rhodes came to be on the track isn't unlike the tale of other youngsters with a dream and a heavy right foot. But it's the unique wrinkles of his narrative that make Rhodes' story ready for prime time. Early beginnings Around their home state, where the term "racing" is most commonly associated with Thoroughbreds, it's fitting that Rhodes' career choice was galvanized by figuratively getting back on the horse. Rhodes had barely entered grade school when the itch for speed struck him. He recalls helping his older brother, Chris, try to emulate his father's practice of removing the governor from their go-karts, much to their mother's dismay. The recreational -- and occasionally unrestricted -- karting soon led to competition. "We were having a blast around the house," Rhodes says, "but when we hit the race track, it didn't really click at first and it took awhile before I got in a wreck to figure it out." Rhodes recalls crashing his first time out -- the leader coming around to lap him, clipping one of his back wheels and landing on top of his kart. The wreck naturally made him gun-shy, but it took another altercation to set his course toward making racing a lifelong pursuit. Rhodes' family vividly recalls that incident at the Clark County, Indiana, 4-H Fairgrounds , where the 7-year-old driver was on the receiving end of an intentional wreck for the first time. His family worked to repair his kart while the youngster seethed, intent on retaliation. But as Rhodes began to furiously charge back through the pack, something changed in his demeanor. "Once I passed the other guy, I didn't even think about wanting revenge or whatever, I just started having a blast," Rhodes says. "Passing cars was a lot more fun than getting passed, and that's when it all started clicking for me. We started working on set-ups and had just an awesome time doing it. It was an awesome family experience." Into NASCAR Those first forays led to progression and an eventual place in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at age 16. After a partial first season, his first full campaign in 2014 netted a remarkable five victories and six pole positions, with Bellicourt serving as his car chief. The performance drew the interest of JR Motorsports, which fielded Rhodes in a 10-race slate in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2015. After a seventh-place series debut at Iowa Speedway in May, Rhodes endured largely uneven results in the JRM No. 88, despite help from the team's fleet of Sprint Cup drivers -- Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kevin Harvick , Chase Elliott and Regan Smith . "I learned so much from them, but the problem is it was hard to apply it," Rhodes says of his sporadic schedule. "You have to be in the car feeling it. I had a month between times (in the car) more than once before I could actually feel what they were talking about or actually apply it. All the momentum that you had was lost. It was just really hard for me to get adjusted to and just hard to keep the learning going, but the jump, I felt like if I ran the whole season, the jump maybe wouldn't have been that bad." An offseason to regroup also led to a new opportunity, as one of the newest faces at ThorSport Racing, a championship-caliber team with an evolving driver roster. In the offseason, Rhodes joined two-time Truck Series champ Matt Crafton , second-year driver Cameron Hayley and fellow rookie Rico Abreu under the watch of team owners Duke and Rhonda Thorson. The team's drivers have perennially lauded the resources that the Thorsons provide to compete at a high level. Rhodes found this out early on, when they sought his input to hire a crew chief for his No. 41 Toyota. He immediately thought of Bellicourt, who had just finished helping William Byron as crew chief for his K&N East championship run in 2015. In some respects, the job was a tougher sell than most, requiring Bellicourt to move from North Carolina to within reach of ThorSport's Sandusky, Ohio, shop. But it was also a commitment for his wife, his 11-month-old daughter and the baby the couple are expecting in early June. But the opportunity to move from the regional and touring level to a NASCAR national series was too good to pass up. After taking the leap, the driver-crew chief reunion went seamlessly. "The communication is back to where it was and it's like we never even left off," Rhodes says. "I remember the first time that he was up at ThorSport and I was there and we were having such a good time. None of the guys up there had seen us run before or work together, so when we came up there, they were like, 'We've got a feeling that you just brought your best friend in to work on these race cars.' That was kind of cool that we hit it off right away once again." Says Bellicourt: "We just have a good time. I understand what he's saying when he's talking about the truck, and he understands when I'm trying to make a point with him. His understanding of the race car has just come a long way since I first met him when he was 15. He understands that a lot, and all the set-up stuff. That just helps a lot, too, with the driver having that knowledge. We've just been able to roll with it so far this season." Rolling with it has meant gradual gains in the early stages of the year, but one accomplishment stands out -- winning the pole position last month at Martinsville Speedway . Though a late-race wreck saddled Rhodes with a midpack 16th-place result, the speed shown in qualifying and out front for 42 laps made a solid impression. "It felt really good to get the pole because it validates what we know that we have," Rhodes says. "We're trying to show others what my crew chief and I know. We have an awesome relationship and we know how to set up the race cars, we know how to get speed, it's just a matter of getting the experience together now. It just validates that." The fact that Sprint Cup star Kyle Busch was among the competitive field in qualifying that day didn't hurt the team's confidence, Bellicourt says. "You look at that and say there's no reason we can't run with any of these guys," Bellicourt says. "Now Ben knows it. We knew it before, but you always want to make it happen and then you just get that extra confidence. I know it, the guys know it, Ben knows it, and hopefully now everybody else sees what we're capable of. "We're looking to continue to do more of that to show that it wasn't just a flash-in-the-pan, one-time thing. We're going to try to do it at Kansas again." On the mic Rhodes has visions of keeping his racing aspirations going, climbing the ladder, chasing victories. But if his NASCAR dream somehow ended tomorrow, he has an entertaining backup plan -- in television. The 19-year-old is in his fifth season as co-host of "On Track with Ben Rhodes ," a 30-minute weekly show that chronicles his racing career and allows him to meet and interview personalities in the Louisville area. Kent Spencer -- the sports director at WHAS-11, an ABC affiliate in Louisville -- has served as the show's other co-host since its inception. "I'd met Ben before, but in kind of a different realm," Spencer says. "He was a young man trying to come up, went to a local high school, trying to make it in NASCAR, so we interviewed a few times there. This was obviously a different beast. He and I have a really good rapport together, we like to be around each other, so we kind of knew early on that this was going to work." The experience has allowed Rhodes to interact with community leaders from all walks of life. This season, Rhodes and Spencer have taken their show on the road, spending time with charitable organizations, returning to Holy Cross High School (the driver's alma mater), and paying visits to Churchill Downs, site of Saturday's 142nd Kentucky Derby. Rhodes' comfort on camera has grown not only in his hometown, but also during media sessions in the garage on race weekends. "I get to see and build new relationships with people, but it's also trained me to talk to the media and how to talk on camera," he says. "Before the show, I was really, really bad. Now that I've done the show for a couple seasons, I've done a lot better and it makes the job at the race track a lot easier for me." Even Bellicourt has noticed. "You give that kid a microphone and you're going to have to rip it out of his hand before he quits talking," he says with a laugh. "He's very outgoing and does a good job with that. He's kind of a total-package guy. He's got the marketing side, he's really good in front of the camera and obviously has performed on the race track great, so he's got an enormous amount of talent." It all circles back to the versatility and composure that extends beyond Rhodes' years. "I got that feeling from him back when he was 17," Spencer says. "You could definitely tell he's not a normal high school junior, not a normal high school senior. It's just the way he goes about things and the way he can communicate, and I think a large part of that is because the way that his mom and dad make him do a lot on his own. "If you want this dream, it's not easy. You're going to have to work for it. Every week, we get done taping the show and Ben helps tear down the set. He does a lot setting up his own schedule. He's out there and he's doing it, getting the job done, but there's a lot of times where it just blows me away." Several drivers with successful NASCAR credentials have made smooth transitions to the broadcasting booth for second careers after their driving days are done. Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon added his name to the list this season, joining FOX Sports for its coverage of the sport. Rhodes says he'd love to see a similar trajectory for his career, but right now he's one-upping it -- by taking on both jobs at once. "Hopefully my racing career goes on for a long time and I can build up a great reputation and go out on TV broadcasting," he says. "I think it's really cool that drivers do that once they're done, and they're able to go up in the broadcast booth and shine new light on the subject and able to give fans kind of the inside scoop on things. As things change and progress, maybe some of the other broadcasters might not be aware of it. "New drivers like Jeff Gordon and the guys that are fresh out of the race car can show them and talk about what's changing in the sport. I think that's really cool that drivers can do that." Spoken like a kid who is wise beyond his years.
Bruton Smith builds Hall of Fame career brick by brick
RELATED: Learn more about the NASCAR Hall of Fame There's a possibility, albeit remote, that O. Bruton Smith could be entering the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a race car driver instead of a race promoter extraordinaire. Smith, at age 17, bought a race car and decided to be a professional driver. "One time, I actually beat (NASCAR Hall of Famers) Buck Baker and Joe Weatherly," Smith said in a May 7, 2005, interview with Motorsport.com. "So I knew when I beat them I could be a contender, right?" Smith's mother, however, believed otherwise and appealed to a Higher Authority. She prayed her son would change his mind. "She started fighting dirty," Smith said in the same interview. "You can’t fight your mom and God, so I stopped driving." NASCAR stock car racing became the beneficiary of the intervention. Smith turned to race promotion, ultimately creating some of America's greatest facilities. His eight-track Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI), anchored by Charlotte Motor Speedway , helped boost the sport to new heights in the 1950s and was the first American motorsports company to go public in 1995. The Oakboro, North Carolina native is part of the NASCAR Hall of Fame's class of 2016 that includes Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte and Curtis Turner. Induction ceremonies will be held Jan. 22 in Charlotte, N.C. and will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. by the NBCSN. Born on a farm in rural North Carolina, Smith never considered an agricultural life. He hated the thought of being poor, which a childhood during the throes of the Great Depression appeared to suggest. "You have food, clothing and shelter but you never have any money and I never did like that. I did not like that," Smith said in a July 2003 Car & Driver story authored by Bob Zeller. "You worked from sunup to sundown, but you never did see the rewards." By 1949, Smith had his own stock car racing association, the National Stock Car Racing Association, which was a direct competitor to William H.G. "Big Bill" France's fledgling NASCAR. Both groups fought for the same drivers and neither was making much money. France and Smith discussed a possible merger in 1950 but the Korean War and U.S. Army scuttled the negotiations. Smith was drafted, served two years stateside as a paratrooper and by the time he mustered out the NSCRA was defunct. Smith began to be noticed in 1954 when he took over promotion of the half-mile track at the Charlotte Fairgrounds . Motorsports writer Russ Catlin wrote of "the genius of a 27-year-old fanatic named Bruton Smith … who took a poorly lighted, run-down half-mile track that wends around a muddy lake and built it into a spectacular speed emporium." In partnership with Turner and others, Smith built Charlotte Motor Speedway , completed in 1960 at a cost of $1.5 million. The first Coca-Cola 600 – then the World 600 – was the facility's opening event. Eventually, Smith decided just owning the 1.5-mile track wasn't enough. Boosting its profile meant adding seats, building suites and condos for VIP customers – and changing demographics of ticket buyers and sponsors. "He took a cue from the oil industry in World War II when they were trying to get women who were suddenly driving the family car to stop in and pump gas at their service stations," said CMS' then-general manager Humpy Wheeler. "What they did was clean up the stations and make sure they had a decent women's rest room." By 2000, the track's customer base was 40 percent female. "I took the position that Charlotte Motor Speedway was constantly under construction," said Smith, a statement that describes how the now 88-year-old entrepreneur views his racing empire. Fueled in part by public stock offerings, Smith acquired Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1990 and Bristol Motor Speedway in 1996 – expanding the latter from 71,000 to 160,000 seats. SMI bought Sonoma Raceway in 1996, Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1997, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2007 and Kentucky Speedway in 2008. Smith built and opened Texas Motor Speedway – SMI's signature project – in 1997, which rose from the prairie outside Fort Worth. The track later added Big Hoss TV, the world's largest HD screen measuring 20l,633.64 square feet. SMI presents 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races annually, including three in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . "He (is) such an innovator. He would think of something and do it," said NASCAR Hall of Fame voter Eddie Wood, co-owner of the Wood Brothers Racing team, in a May 20, 2015 interview with ESPN’s Bob Pockrass. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France agrees. "He deserves to be in (the NASCAR Hall of Fame); he's made a huge impact (on the sport) obviously," France said. "He has given the fans an experience that has transformed the sport." Tickets are available for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Ceremony (limited quantities available). Individual ticket and ticket packages are available at ticketmaster.com, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Box Office or by calling 800.745.3000.
Stats Advance: Watkins Glen
WATKINS GLEN-SPECIFIC STATISTICS DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York going into the CHEEZ-It 355 at The Glen (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN) on August 9. AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Kroger’s/Bush's Beans Chevrolet) · One win, two top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 7.833, second-best · Average Running Position of 12.288, third-best · Driver Rating of 100.5, third-best · 16 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 120.332, fourth-fastest · 363 Laps in the Top 15 (67.0), fifth-most · 114 Quality Passes, 11th-most Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Maxwell House Toyota) · One top five, three top 10s · Average finish of 15.778, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 15.912, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 83.3, 13th-best · 2 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.569, 12th-fastest · 427 Laps in the Top 15 (52.6), 12th-most · 106 Quality Passes, 12th-most Kyle Busch ’s Chase Eligibility 30th David Gilliland 331 Rank Driver Wins Points Points From 30th 31 Cole Whitt 0 331 0 32 Kyle Busch 4 318 -13 33 Brett Moffitt # 0 279 -52 34 Alex Bowman 0 264 -67 35 Michael Annett 0 248 -83 36 Matt DiBenedetto # 0 220 -111 37 Josh Wise 0 186 -145 38 Michael McDowell 0 124 -207 39 Jeb Burton # 0 120 -211 40 Alex Kennedy # 0 77 -254 * To be eligible for the Chase, the driver must be in the top 30 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings following race number 26. Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Crispy Toyota) · Two wins, four top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.300, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 12.453, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 108.4, second-best · 74 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 120.360, second-fastest · 638 Laps in the Top 15 (70.6), fourth-most · 183 Quality Passes, sixth-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Two top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 16.900, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 15.864, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 94.3, seventh-best · 51 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 120.288, fifth-fastest · 564 Laps in the Top 15 (62.4), eighth-most · 190 Quality Passes, fourth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 STANLEY Toyota) · Five top fives, seven top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 8.400, third-best · Average Running Position of 12.370, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 95.0, sixth-best · 15 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.959, sixth-fastest · 666 Laps in the Top 15 (73.7), third-most · 203 Quality Passes, second-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet) · Four wins, six top fives, nine top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 21.600, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 17.075, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 85.7, 10th-best · 42 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.314, 13th-fastest · 479 Laps in the Top 15 (53.0), 11th-most · 164 Quality Passes, eighth-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) · One top five, four top 10s · Average finish of 20.000, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 15.543, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 85.7, 11th-best · 11 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.911, seventh-fastest · 468 Laps in the Top 15 (57.6), 10th-most · 181 Quality Passes, seventh-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/ Budweiser Chevrolet) · One win, two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 14.500, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 15.555, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 89.0, ninth-best · 11 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.817, ninth-fastest · 543 Laps in the Top 15 (60.1), ninth-most · 161 Quality Passes, ninth-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Four top fives, seven top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.100, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 10.079, second-best · Driver Rating of 100.1, fourth-best · 28 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 120.338, third-fastest · 715 Laps in the Top 15 (79.1), second-most · 208 Quality Passes, series-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · Three top fives, three top 10s · Average finish of 12.200, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 14.117, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 97.5, fifth-best · 39 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.878, eighth-fastest · 290 Laps in the Top 15 (64.2), seventh-most · 66 Quality Passes, 13th-most Jamie McMurray (No. 1 McDonald's Chevrolet) · One top five, two top 10s · Average finish of 19.300, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 17.508, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 83.7, 12th-best · 9 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.734, 10th-fastest · 465 Laps in the Top 15 (51.4), 13th-most · 130 Quality Passes, 10th-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Five wins, seven top fives, ten top 10s · Average finish of 7.500, series-best · Average Running Position of 5.661, series-best · Driver Rating of 120.4, series-best · 106 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 120.785, series-fastest · 678 Laps in the Top 15 (93.6), series-most · 195 Quality Passes, third-most Martin Truex Jr (No. 78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet) · Three top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 12.444, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 12.885, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 90.7, eighth-best · 6 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.686, 11th-fastest · 536 Laps in the Top 15 (66.0), sixth-most · 188 Quality Passes, fifth-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Watkins Glen International Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 14 0 1 2 7 0 12.6 89.0 2 Joey Logano 6 0 0 1 3 0 16.5 78.4 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr 15 0 0 2 3 2 22.4 76.2 4 Jimmie Johnson 13 1 0 4 7 1 13.9 100.1 5 Martin Truex Jr 9 0 0 3 5 0 12.4 90.7 6 Brad Keselowski 5 0 0 3 3 0 12.2 97.5 7 Matt Kenseth 15 0 0 0 5 0 15.1 79.8 8 Jamie McMurray 12 0 0 1 2 2 19 83.7 9 Kurt Busch 14 1 0 2 6 3 18.6 94.3 10 Jeff Gordon 22 3 4 6 9 3 16.6 85.7 11 Denny Hamlin 9 0 0 1 4 3 20 85.7 12 Paul Menard 11 0 0 0 0 1 23.6 64.7 13 Ryan Newman 13 0 0 1 3 1 17.6 76.5 14 Clint Bowyer 9 0 0 1 3 0 15.8 83.3 15 Kasey Kahne 11 0 0 0 0 0 19.3 73.9 16 Carl Edwards 10 1 0 5 7 0 8.4 95.0 * – Based on last 10 races at Watkins Glen International (2005 – 2014). Watkins Glen International Data Season Race #: 22 of 36 (08-09-15) Track Size : 2.45-miles Number of Turns : 7 Race Length : 90 laps / 220.5 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Watkins Glen Tony Stewart ............................. 120.4 Kyle Busch ............................... 108.4 AJ Allmendinger ........................ 100.5 Jimmie Johnson ........................ 100.1 Brad Keselowski ......................... 97.5 Carl Edwards .............................. 95.0 Kurt Busch .................................. 94.3 Martin Truex Jr ............................ 90.7 Kevin Harvick .............................. 89.0 Jeff Gordon ................................ 85.7 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (10 total) among active drivers at Watkins Glen International. Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 129.466 mph, 68.126 secs. 08-09-14 2014 race winner : AJ Allmendinger , Chevrolet 90.123 mph, (02:26:48), 08-10-14 Track qualifying record: Marcos Ambrose , Ford 129.491 mph, 68.113 secs. 08-09-14 (Set in Round 1 of 3) Track race record: Mark Martin , Ford 103.030 mph, (02:11:54), 08-13-95 At Watkins Glen International: History · After several events were held on the streets of Watkins Glen, a permanent facility was opened in 1956. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was in 1957, won by Buck Baker (83.064 mph, 08/04/1957). · After a six-year absence, NASCAR returned to The Glen in 1964 and 1965. · After a 21-year absence, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returned to The Glen, and has run one race a year there since 1986. · The first NSCS race at Watkins Glen was scheduled for 101.2-miles in 1957, the second race was 161.7-miles (1964) and the third race was 151.8-miles (1965). Every race since has been scheduled for 220.5-miles. Starts · There have been 32 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Watkins Glen International, one race per season. · 252 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen; 152 in more than one. · Jeff Gordon , Mark Martin , Michael Waltrip and Terry Labonte lead the series in starts at Watkins Glen with 22 each. Poles · Buck Baker won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Watkins Glen in 1957 with a speed of 87.071 mph. Driver/owner Buck Baker went on to win the inaugural race from the pole. · 19 drivers have Coors Light poles at Watkins Glen, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon with three each. · Mark Martin is the only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver to post consecutive Coors Light poles at Watkins Glen (three) – 1993, 1994, and 1995. · Youngest Watkins Glen pole winner: Kyle Busch (08/15/2011 – 26 years, 3 months, 13 days). · Oldest Watkins Glen pole winner: Morgan Shepherd (08/13/1989 – 47 years, 10 months, 1 day). · Tony Stewart leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Watkins Glen with a 6.286 – Stewart has made 14 starts at WGI. Wins · 19 different drivers have won at Watkins Glen International in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, led by Tony Stewart with five wins; followed by Jeff Gordon with four. · Jeff Gordon leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in road course wins with nine (Sonoma, five; Watkins Glen, four); Tony Stewart has the second most road course wins all-time with seven (Watkins Glen, five; Sonoma, two). · NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison holds the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series record for the most wins at a single road course track with six - Riverside International Raceway. · Four drivers have posted consecutive wins at Watkins Glen, including three consecutive by Mark Martin (1993, ’94, ‘95) and Jeff Gordon (1997, ’98, ‘99). The other two drivers to win consecutive races at Watkins Glen are Tony Stewart (2004, ’05) and Marcos Ambrose (2011, ’12). · Youngest Watkins Glen winner: Kyle Busch (08/10/2008 – 23 years, 3 months, 8 days). · Oldest Watkins Glen winner: Geoff Bodine (08/11/1996 – 47 years, 3 months, 24 days). · Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing are tied for the most wins at Watkins Glen in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with six each: --- Hendrick Motorsports : Jeff Gordon (four), Tim Richmond (one) and Ricky Rudd (one). --- Joe Gibbs Racing : Tony Stewart (four) and Kyle Busch (two). · Six different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Watkins Glen; led by Chevrolet with 17 victories; followed by Ford with seven, Pontiac with four, Toyota with two and Buick and Mercury each have one. · Nine of the 32 (28.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Watkins Glen have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Kyle Busch in 2008. · The Coors Light pole position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (nine) than any other starting position at Watkins Glen. · 11 of the 32 (34.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Watkins Glen have been won from the front row: nine from the pole and two from second-place. · 21 of the 32 (65.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Watkins Glen have been won from a top-five starting position. · 23 of the 32 (71.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Watkins Glen have been won from a top-10 starting position. · None of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Watkins Glen have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Watkins Glen is 18th, by Steve Park in 2000. · All five of the active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Watkins Glen participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. · Kevin Harvick (2006) and AJ Allmendinger (2014) both competed at Watkins Glen five times each before winning; the longest span of any of the five active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Watkins Glen: Steve Park (08/13/2000), Marcos Ambrose (08/15/11) and AJ Allmendinger (08/11/14). Additional Finishing Position Stats · Brad Keselowski and Mark Martin lead the series in runner-up finishes at Watkins Glen with three each. · Mark Martin leads the series in top-five finishes at Watkins Glen with 12; followed by Ricky Rudd with eight. Tony Stewart leads all active drivers with seven. · Mark Martin leads the series in top-10 finishes at Watkins Glen with 16; followed by Ricky Rudd, Rusty Wallace and Tony Stewart with 10 each. · AJ Allmendinger leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Watkins Glen with a 7.833. · Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Matt Kenseth lead the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Watkins Glen without visiting Victory Lane at 14 each. Track/Event Specific Stats · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Watkins Glen is the 2001 race won by Jeff Gordon over Jeff Burton with a MOV of 0.172 second. · There have been two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Watkins Glen (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): 2005 (90/92) and 2011 (90/92). · Only one of the 32 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Watkins Glen has been shortened due to weather conditions - the 1992 race – only 51 of the scheduled 90 laps were completed. · The 8/14/2011 race was the only NSCS race at Watkins Glen that has been postponed to another date due to weather (8/15/2011). · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Watkins Glen six times: 1965, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Watkins Glen with 262 laps led in 22 starts. Female Competitor Stats · Danica Patrick and Patty Moise are the only two female NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers to compete at Watkins Glen International. Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 43 21 8/10/2014 Danica Patrick 35 20 8/11/2013 Averages 39.0 20.5 Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Patty Moise 33 30 8/14/1988 Patty Moise 30 33 8/10/1987 Averages 31.5 31.5 NASCAR in New York · There have been 70 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among 15 tracks in the state of New York. Track Name City NSCS Watkins Glen International Watkins Glen 32 Monroe County Fairgrounds Rochester 8 Islip Speedway Islip 6 Bridgehampton Race Circuit B
Dillon brothers differ on dirt racing
Brothers disagree on how much dirt-track racing NASCAR should have ROSSBURG, Ohio -- They're brothers, Austin and Ty Dillon , so of course they sometimes disagree. There were certainly a few differing opinions during an Abbott and Costello-esque joint media availability with the two drivers at Eldora Speedway in advance of Wednesday night's 1-800-Car-Cash Mud Summer Classic. The mid-week race is the lone yearly foray onto dirt for one of NASCAR's three national series, and Wednesday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the half-mile, high-banked dirt oval owned by Tony Stewart is the third consecutive year the trucks stop in western Ohio. While some of the discussion between the brothers was humorous -- both considered themselves the favorite to win, with Austin asking Ty to go on the record and putting his recorded answer on Instagram -- there was a very real difference of opinion on a talking point throughout the NASCAR community. Should there be more races on dirt, and should the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and/or the NASCAR XFINITY Series be involved? "My opinion is, I think this event has gained so much exposure and has done such a good job for the Truck Series," Ty Dillon said. "I know everyone wants to see more dirt races throughout the series, but I think we need to keep it unique to the Truck Series. What it is now is an event everybody looks forward to, and I think if you start adding too many of them, you're going to kind of cloud the specialness of the event. "And I think this is a prestigious event -- at least it is to me and the folks in the dirt world. You start adding more to the schedule, it takes a little bit away from it for me personally." It took less than three seconds for Ty's older brother to offer his retort and draw in Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage -- in town for the event, and hanging out in the media center -- into his argument. "I disagree -- guess what, we're brothers," Austin Dillon said with a chuckle. "I don't know, I like these races and I think they're fun. We've got a guy in the back (Gossage) who could make it happen if we wanted a dirt race in Texas. "It brings something new to our sport, changes it up and brings new fans who are curious to see what it's like. And it's good racing. Look at the highlights of the last two years racing here and you could probably put that in any highlight reel that NASCAR's had in the last 10 years." MORE: Ty makes light of Keselowski's asphalt background Austin Dillon won the inaugural event in 2013, with Darrell Wallace Jr . taking top honors in 2014 after outlasting Kyle Larson ; Ty Dillon finished fifth last year. The 2013 victory for Austin Dillon , who drives the No. 3 Chevrolet full time in the Sprint Cup Series, came at NASCAR's first national series event at a dirt track since 1970, when Richard Petty won at North Carolina State Fairgrounds . Austin and Ty may disagree on NASCAR's dirt future, but there was one resounding theme in which there was harmony between the two -- and everyone in the garage area Wednesday agree. "This event is very special," Austin Dillon said. "I think it's awesome to see a dirt track develop like this. I'm really thankful for what Tony (Stewart) is doing here." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Allmendinger offers tribute to fallen racer
JTG Daugherty team celebrates, but sends thoughts and prayers to family, Stewart RELATED: Complete coverage of Tony Stewart incident WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- The theatrics and fireworks of NASCAR's brand of road-course racing was omnipresent as usual at Watkins Glen International , but so was an underlying solemn tone of remembrance after the events of the night before. While AJ Allmendinger celebrated his first Sprint Cup Series victory in the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen and the sealing of his postseason fate, a strong portion of his thoughts were clearly devoted to Kevin Ward Jr., the 20-year-old victim of a sprint-car incident involving Tony Stewart . "I think it's one of those things that you look back at and it's a tough time for everybody," said Allmendinger. "I said on TV after the race, this NASCAR community, as a whole we're a family, and when anything like that happens, it's something that you don't just kind of erase and you forget about. And all of our thoughts and prayers, and it may not seem like it, or I wish there was more to do, but it goes to the Ward family and what happened. It also goes to Tony because it's not like he's sitting there and forgetting about it. It's a tough scenario. "You just try to come together. That's all you can do. You try to be thankful every day for the things that we have, the things that we're able to share together, and you also know that there's a lot less fortunate out there and there's a lot of disasters, whether it's in racing or not. You just try to keep that in perspective and always have your thoughts and prayers and do whatever you can to help out and be better with it." Ward was declared dead on arrival at a local hospital Saturday night after he was struck while on foot by Stewart's sprint car during a 25-lap main event for the touring Empire Super Sprints series at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park, a half-mile dirt track on the Ontario County Fairgrounds . The county sheriff's office continue to investigate the incident and said Sunday that no criminal charges are pending. Stewart was absent at the track Sunday with NASCAR Nationwide Series regular Regan Smith replacing him in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet. Several of Stewart's fellow Sprint Cup drivers declined comment on the incident, with some saying details were too sparse to make an informed statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ward family," said third-place finisher Kurt Busch, a first-year teammate to Stewart at the Stewart-Haas operation. "It was a tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with everybody involved. It's a tough situation for the motorsports world. I'm not at liberty really to speak anymore of it." While the mood of Allmendinger's JTG Daugherty team was buoyant after that operation's first win in NASCAR's premier series, the organization's brass was quick to temper their joy in light of the recent events. "Obviously just a catastrophic evening last evening," said team co-owner Brad Daugherty, also an ESPN analyst. "Our sympathies go out to the family that lost the young man. And it's been a difficult day for the Stewart‑Haas organization. We all recognize that and we all feel like we're all family because we travel 36 weeks out of the year it seems like 100 years together. Our hearts go out to Tony, but specifically out to the family. "It's a tremendous loss, and I thought that Stewart‑Haas and Tony and those guys did the right thing by showing the appropriate respect to the situation as well as the family ‑‑ more importantly to the family by not racing today. We'll see what unfolds of that, but our thoughts and prayers go out to that family." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Mike Helton: Tony Stewart would be eligible for Chase
NASCAR President clears up postseason status RELATED: Full coverage of Tony Stewart incident NASCAR President Mike Helton said Tony Stewart would be eligible for the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup if he wins one of the final two regular-season races. Helton said that "this has been a very unique set of circumstances to Tony and to out sport. As the league, it's our responsibility to try and make decisions that are correct and right. Sometimes we evaluate circumstances that are given to us and then we make those decisions as correctly as we can. After evaluating the circumstances around this occurrence, we've come to the conclusion that Tony would be eligible to participate in the Chase if he were to earn a spot in it." At Atlanta Motor Speedway , Stewart is set to participate in his first Sprint Cup Series after sitting out the past three races. Stewart is 26th in points. To be eligible for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, a driver must attempt to qualify for all 26 races leading up to the Chase and be in the top 30 in points. However, according to NASCAR, for rare instances the requirement can be waived as long as the driver is in the top 30. Stewart missed three races following his involvement in a sprint car racing incident earlier this month that resulted in driver Kevin Ward Jr. suffering fatal injuries at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, a half-mile dirt track on the Ontario County Fairgrounds . The investigation regarding the incident is ongoing. Stewart's racing plans outside NASCAR have been canceled and will not resume until further notice. Denny Hamlin experienced his own form of exemption into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs after he missed the fifth race of the season, at Auto Club Speedway in March, with an eye injury. Five races later, Hamlin scored a regular-season victory at Talladega Superspeedway to clinch a Chase berth. While he didn't know all the particulars of Stewart's situation and his three-race absence, Hamlin said he had no problem with the three-time Sprint Cup champion being eligible should he win one of the remaining two regular-season events. "I don't know. It's a very vague thing," Hamlin said. "I know that originally, you had to have some kind of medical note or something like that, and that's kind of what happened to me with my eye when I met with Mr. Helton and the doctors at California. They said that this is kind of why they've built this program in place to just get better and come back when you can and just win a race. We did that and got ourselves in, but it's tough to say what's considered medical and not, but either way, I'm fine with Tony either in or out, it's good with me." Six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said he was pleased that NASCAR could be flexible to allow exemptions and that he hoped that course of action would be used going forward. "Obviously, they're setting a precedent here and we'll see what other extreme circumstances develop in future years and how NASCAR looks at that," Johnson said. "I'm happy that they're sympathetic to situations and look at it and are giving a team and driver that opportunity. But again, they've set a precedent here that we're just going to have to be aware of, and hopefully they can continue to evaluate these and handle them in a similar manner." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Tony Stewart to return at Atlanta
Three-time Sprint Cup champion has missed past three races MORE: NASCAR statement on Tony Stewart's return RELATED: Full coverage of Tony Stewart incident Tony Stewart will return this weekend in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and make his first Sprint Cup start since Pocono Raceway on Aug. 3. Stewart will speak to the media at 1 p.m. ET at the infield media center at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He will be joined by Stewart-Haas Racing Executive Vice President Brett Frood. That availability will be streamed live on NASCAR.com . In a statement, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said: "Tony Stewart has received all necessary clearances required to return to all racing activities, and therefore is eligible to compete this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. NASCAR has remained in constant contact with his race team, and we will stay very close to this situation as Stewart returns to competition." NASCAR President Mike Helton will participate in a media availability in the Atlanta Motor Speedway media center on Friday at 2 p.m. ET. NASCAR will have no further comment until that time. That availability will be streamed live on NASCAR.com . Stewart was involved in a sprint car racing incident earlier this month that resulted in driver Kevin Ward Jr. suffering fatal injuries at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, a half-mile dirt track on the Ontario County Fairgrounds . The investigation regarding the incident is ongoing. Stewart's racing plans outside NASCAR have been canceled and will not resume until further notice. Stewart has not raced in the past three Sprint Cup events. Jeff Burton filled in at Bristol and at Michigan, guiding the No. 14 team to finishes of 15th and 37th at each track, respectively. At Watkins Glen, NASCAR Nationwide Series regular Regan Smith piloted the No. 14 Chevrolet to a 37th-place finish. Stewart was on the initial entry list for Atlanta that was released Monday. Stewart-Haas Racing officials said at Michigan on Aug. 15 that there was no timetable for Stewart's return to NASCAR racing and that the decision would be the driver's call to make. After sitting out the past three races, Stewart is 26th in points. To be eligible for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, a driver must attempt to qualify for all 26 races leading up to the Chase and be in the top 30 in points. However, according to NASCAR, for rare instances the requirement can be waived as long as the driver is in the top 30. It is not known if Stewart would receive a waiver. Stewart currently has 537 points while 30th-place David Gilliland has 376. Stewart is returning to a track where he has fared well in his career. In 26 starts, he has three wins, 10 top-five finishes, 15 top-10 finishes and a pole. In the past nine years, he also has the third-highest driver rating at the track (100.2). The Oral-B USA 500 is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 31, at 7:30 p.m. ET, with coverage on ESPN. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Stats advance: Analyzing the Bank of America 500
A statistical look ahead to the second race of the Contender Round RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Below is a look at the 12 Contenders and beyond, at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina going into the Bank of America 500 on Saturday night October 11. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on ABC, with the race start scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. CHARLOTTE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS 1 - Joey Logano (No. 22 Pennzoil Platinum Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 107.7 2014 Rundown • Five wins, 14 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 11.8 • Led 20 races for 916 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Three top fives, six top 10s • Average finish of 10.5 in 11 races • Average Running Position of 14.1, sixth- best • Driver Rating of 88.0, ninth-best 2 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 Doublemint Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 91.1 2014 Rundown • One win, seven top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 16.7 • Led 14 races for 412 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Nine top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 15.6 in 21 races • Average Running Position of 10.0, second- best • Driver Rating of 106.3, second-best • 460 Fastest Laps Run, third-most • 5,291 Laps in the Top 15 (77.4%), second- most • Series-high 973 Quality Passes 3 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 82.8 2014 Rundown • Two wins, seven top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 14.5 • Led 10 races for 134 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Six top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 11.4 in 19 races • Average Running Position of 14.6, seventh-best • Driver Rating of 89.8, seventh-best • 1,592 Green Flag Passes, second-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.106 mph, 11th-fastest • 4,280 Laps in the Top 15 (62.6%), sixth-most • 806 Quality Passes, fifth-most 4 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.6 2014 Rundown • Two top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 13.8 • Led 5 races for 30 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Four top fives, 10 top 10s; nine poles • Average finish of 19.0 in 27 races • Average Running Position of 17.5, 18th-best • Driver Rating of 78.1, 19th-best • 1,379 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most 5 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.7 2014 Rundown • One win, six top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 15.2 • Led 12 races for 195 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Four top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 13.7 in 18 races • Average Running Position of 12.7, fourth-best • Driver Rating of 92.6, fifth-best • 235 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.222 mph, seventh-fastest • 4,586 Laps in the Top 15 (71.2%), fourth-most • 749 Quality Passes, seventh-most 6 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.0 2014 Rundown • Two wins, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s; eight poles • Average finish of 13.9 • Led 22 races for 1,653 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, four top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 16.3 in 27 races • Average Running Position of 17.2, 16th-best • Driver Rating of 81.5, 15th-best • 1,534 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most • 3,923 Laps in the Top 15 (57.4%), eighth-most • 699 Quality Passes, eighth-most 7 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 93.1 2014 Rundown • 11 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 13.8 • Led 17 races for 467 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, nine top fives, 16 top 10s • Average finish of 13.5 in 30 races • Average Running Position of 13.5, fifth-best • Driver Rating of 97.1, fourth-best • 376 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most • 1,448 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.413 mph, fourth-fastest • 4,649 Laps in the Top 15 (68.0%), third-most • 842 Quality Passes, third-most 8 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.7 2014 Rundown • Four wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 10.1 • Led 21 races for 666 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Five wins, 16 top fives, 23 top 10s; nine poles • Average finish of 15.8 in 43 races • Average Running Position of 14.7, eighth-best • Driver Rating of 89.7, eighth-best • 243 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most • 4,228 Laps in the Top 15 (61.8%), seventh-most • 777 Quality Passes, sixth-most 9 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Pepsi Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.7 2014 Rundown • One win, three top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 16.7 • Led 11 races for 206 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Four wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 11.5 in 21 races • Average Running Position of 11.6, third-best • Driver Rating of 101.7, third-best • 665 Fastest Laps Run, second-most • 1,549 Green Flag Passes, third-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.430 mph, third-fastest • 4,564 Laps in the Top 15 (66.7%), fifth-most • 833 Quality Passes, fourth-most 10 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 104.1 2014 Rundown • Five wins, 13 top fives, 16 top 10s; five poles • Average finish of 13.2 • Led 24 races for 1,498 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One win, two top fives, three top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 15.7 in 10 races • Average Running Position of 15.2, 10th-best • Driver Rating of 85.4, 10th-best • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.125 mph, 10th-fastest 11 - Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 96.9 2014 Rundown • Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s • Average finish of 12.0 • Led 13 races for 265 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Five top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 19.4 in 29 races • Average Running Position of 19.0, 22nd-best • Driver Rating of 80.9, 16th-best • 183 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most • 1,435 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most • 623 Quality Passes, 11th-most 12 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 98.8 2014 Rundown • Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 14.3 • Led 15 races for 1,035 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Seven wins, 13 top fives, 17 top 10s; four poles • Average finish of 11.2 in 26 races • Series-best Average Running Position of 7.5 • Series-best Driver Rating of 112.7 • Series-high 683 Fastest Laps Run • Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 177.132 mph • Series-high 5,988 Laps in the Top 15 (87.5%) • 968 Quality Passes, second-most 13 - AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Scott Products Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.5 2014 Rundown • One win, two top fives, four top 10s • Average finish of 20.4 • Led 5 races for 68 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One top five, two top 10s • Average finish of 22.7 in 13 races • Average Running Position of 23.2, 31st-best • Driver Rating of 65.8, 31st-best 14 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Bondo Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 79.4 2014 Rundown • Three top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 15.8 • Led 6 races for 109 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • Five top fives, eight top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 17.2 in 23 races • Average Running Position of 15.0, ninth-best • Driver Rating of 89.9, sixth-best • 303 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most • 1,393 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 176.250 mph, sixth-fastest • 3,891 Laps in the Top 15 (56.9%), ninth-most • 690 Quality Passes, ninth-most 15 - Kurt Busch (No. 41 State Water Heaters Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 84.8 2014 Rundown • One win, six top fives, eight top 10s • Average finish of 20.1 • Led 11 races for 181 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One win, six top fives, seven top 10s • Average finish of 19.7 in 28 races • Average Running Position of 17.4, 17th-best • Driver Rating of 83.0, 13th-best • 204 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most • 3,502 Laps in the Top 15 (51.2%), 10th-most 16 - Aric Almirola (No. 43 Smithfield / Waffle House Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 73.3 2014 Rundown • One win, two top fives, seven top 10s • Average finish of 21.0 • Led 5 races for 23 laps Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook: • One pole • Average finish of 19.0 in five races • Average Running Position of 16.6, 14th-best • Driver Rating of 76.5, 21st-best The 12 Contenders at Charlotte Motor Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Joey Logano 11 0 0 3 6 0 10.5 88.0 2 Kyle Busch 21 1 0 9 13 5 15.6 106.3 3 Carl Edwards 19 0 0 6 12 1 11.4 89.8 4 Ryan Newman 27 9 0 4 10 5 19.0 78.1 5 Denny Hamlin 18 1 0 4 10 1 13.7 92.6 6 Kevin Harvick 27 0 2 4 10 1 16.3 81.5 7 Matt Kenseth 30 0 2 9 16 5 13.5 97.1 8 Jeff Gordon 43 9 5 16 23 10 15.8 89.7 9 Kasey Kahne 21 0 4 9 12 1 11.5 101.7 10 Brad Keselowski 10 1 1 2 3 1 15.7 85.4 11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 29 1 0 5 11 4 19.4 80.9 12 Jimmie Johnson 26 4 7 13 17 4 11.2 112.7 History • Construction began on Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) in 1959. • The track’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on June 19, 1960 – won by Joe Lee Johnson. • The track was repaved midseason in 1994. • The track name changed from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1999. It changed back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 2010 season. • The track was re-paved again before the 2006 season. Notebook • There have been 111 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races at Charlotte Motor Speedway , two races per year since the track opened in 1960. In 1961, there were two 100-mile qualifying points races held the week before the May race. The first six fall races at Charlotte were 400-mile events (1960-65). • 525 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points paying race at Charlotte Motor Speedway ; 374 in more than one. • NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Charlotte with 64. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 43 starts; followed by Joe Nemechek with 36. • Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway (World 600) in 1960 with a speed of 133.904 mph. • 42 drivers have Coors Light poles at Charlotte, led by David Pearson with 14. Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon lead all active drivers in poles at CMS with nine. • 12 drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Charlotte. David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Charlotte with 11; from the fall of 1973 through 1978. • Youngest Charlotte pole winner: Jeff Gordon (10/10/1993 – 22 years, 2 months, 6 days). • Oldest Charlotte pole winner: Bobby Allison (10/11/1987 – 49 years, 10 months, 8 days). Charlotte Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 31 of 36 (10-11-14) Track Size: 1.5-miles Banking/Turns 1 & 2: 24 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4: 24 degrees Banking/Frontstretch: 5 degrees Banking/Backstretch: 5 degrees Frontstretch Length: 1,980 feet Backstretch Length: 1,500 feet Race Length: 334 laps / 500 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Charlotte Jimmie Johnson ..........................112.7 Kyle Busch ..................................106.3 Kasey Kahne ...............................101.7 Matt Kenseth .................................97.1 Denny Hamlin................................92.6 Greg Biffle .....................................89.9 Carl Edwards.................................89.8 Jeff Gordon ...................................89.7 Joey Logano..................................88.0 Brad Keselowski............................85.4 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (19 total) among active drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Qualifying/Race Data 2013 pole winner: Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet 194.308 mph, 27.791 secs. 10-10-13 2013 race winner: Brad Keselowski , Ford 158.308 mph, (03:09:53), 10-12-13 Track qualifying record: Denny Hamlin , Toyota 195.624 mph, 27.604 secs. 05-24-13 Track race (500 miles) record: Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 160.306 mph, (03:07:31), 10-11-99 STATISTICAL ADVANCE • 46 different drivers have won at Charlotte Motor Speedway , led by Jimmie Johnson with seven wins. • Nine drivers have posted consecutive wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway , including three consecutive by Fred Lorenzen (fall 1964 and both 1965) and four straight by Jimmie Johnson (both in 2004 and 2005). • A season sweep at Charlotte has occurred eight times, including each season from 2004-2007. • Youngest Charlotte winner: Jeff Gordon (05/29/1994 – 22 years, 9 months, 25 days). • Oldest Charlotte winner: Cale Yarborough (10/06/1985 – 46 years, 6 months, 9 days). • Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Charlotte in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 18: Jimmie Johnson (seven), Jeff Gordon (five), Darrell Waltrip (two), Ken Schrader (one), Terry Labonte (one), Casey Mears (one) and Kasey Kahne (one). • Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Charlotte; led by Chevrolet with 42 victories; followed by Ford with 29. Toyota has two wins at CMS. • 15 of the 111 (13.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the Coors Light pole; the three most recent were Jimmie Johnson in 2014 (Coca-Cola 600), 2009 (Chase race event) and 2004 (Coca-Cola 600). • The second-place starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (17) than any other starting position at Charlotte Motor Speedway (15.3% winning percentage). • 32 of the 111 (28.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the front row: 15 from the pole and 17 from second-place. • 84 of the 111 (75.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Charlotte have been won from a top-10 starting position. • Nine of the 111 (8.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. • The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Charlotte is 37th, by Jimmie Johnson in the Coca-Cola 600 of 2003. • Richard Petty leads the series in runner-up finishes at Charlotte with nine. Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers with three. • NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison are tied for the series most top-five finishes at Charlotte with 23. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 16. • Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Charlotte with 31. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 23. • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Charlotte with a 7.115. • Joey Logano leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Charlotte with a 10.545. • Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Charlotte without visiting Victory Lane at 36; followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr . with 29. • Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the May 29, 2005 race won by Jimmie Johnson over Bobby Labonte with a MOV of 0.027 second. • There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a Green-White-Checkered finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway , but only once for the Coca-Cola 600 (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): Chase race of 2005 (334/336), Chase race of 2007 (334/337) and the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 (400/402). • Five of the 111 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 won by David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip Racing. Four of the five races shortened were the 600-mile events (1968, 1997, 2003 and 2009). • Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway twice; the fall race of 2002 and the fall race of 2008. • Five active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have made their first career start at Charlotte Motor Speedway : Dale Earnhardt Jr . (5/30/99), Jimmie Johnson (10/7/01), Brian Vickers (10/11/03), Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (5/29/11) and Kyle Larson (10/12/2013). • Four active drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway : Jeff Gordon (10/10/93), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (5/28/00), Ryan Newman (5/27/01) and Aric Almirola (5/27/12). • Four active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Charlotte Motor Speedway : Jeff Gordon (5/29/94), Matt Kenseth (5/28/00), Jamie McMurray (10/13/02) and Casey Mears (5/27/07). • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Charlotte with 1,733 laps led in 26 starts. • Two female drivers have competed at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick . Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date of race Danica Patrick 4 39 5/25/2014 Danica Patrick 35 20 10/12/2013 Danica Patrick 24 29 5/26/2013 Danica Patrick 40 30 5/27/2012 Janet Guthrie 31 35 10/8/1978 Janet Guthrie 27 9 10/9/1977 Janet Guthrie 26 22 10/10/1976 Janet Guthrie 27 15 5/30/1976 NASCAR in North Carolina • There have been 519 NASCAR Sprint Cup races among 28 tracks in North Carolina. Track Name/City/NSCS Charlotte Motor Speedway/Concord/111 North Wilkesboro Speedway/North/93 Rockingham Speedway/Rockingham/78 Hickory Speedway/Hickory/35 Asheville-Weaverville Speedway/Weaverville/34 Occoneechee Speedway/Hillsboro/32 Bowman-Gray Stadium/Winston-Salem/29 Southern States Fairgrounds /Charlotte/17 Charlotte Speedway/Charlotte/12 Concord Speedway/Concord/12 Wilson Speedway/Wilson/12 New Asheville Speedway/Asheville/8 Dog Track Speedway/Moyock/7 Raleigh Speedway/Raleigh/7 Cleveland County Fairgrounds /Shelby/6 Champion Speedway/Fayetteville/4 Greensboro Agriculture Fairgrounds /Greensboro/3 North Carolina State Fairgrounds /Raleigh/3 Tar Heel Speedway/Randleman/3 Forsyth County Fairgrounds /Winston-Salem/2 Harris Speedway/Harris/2 Jacksonville Speedway/Jacksonville/2 Tri-City Speedway/High Point/2 Gastonia Fairgrounds /Gastonia/1 Harnett Speedway/Spring Lake/1 McCormick Field/Asheville/1 Salisbury Super Speedway/Salisbury/1 Star Lite Speedway/Monroe/1 NASCAR in North Carolina • 433 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as North Carolina. • 46 drivers from North Carolina have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series; 29 have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Richard Petty 200 0 0 Dale Earnhardt 76 21 0 Lee Petty 54 0 0 Ned Jarrett 50 0 0 Junior Johnson 50 0 0 Herb Thomas 48 0 0 Buck Baker 46 0 0 Bobby Isaac 37 0 0 Dale Jarrett 32 11 0 Rex White 28 0 0 Jim Paschal 25 0 0 Dale Earnhardt Jr 22 23 0 Benny Parsons 21 0 0 Speedy Thompson 20 0 0 Buddy Baker 19 0 0 Harry Gant 18 21 0 Bob Welborn 9 0 0 Kyle Petty 8 0 0 Morgan Shepherd 4 15 0 Bill Blair 3 0 0 Gwyn Staley 3 0 0 Brian Vickers 3 3 0 Billy Myers 2 0 0 Jimmy Pardue 2 0 0 Richard Brickhouse 1 0 0 Phil Parsons 1 2 0 Leon Sales 1 0 0 Buddy Shuman 1 0 0 Donald Thomas 1 0 0 Jack Ingram 0 31 0 Tommy Houston 0 24 0 Sam Ard 0 22 0 Robert Pressley 0 10 2 Scott Riggs 0 4 5 Ryan Blaney 0 2 3 Austin Dillon 0 2 6 Hank Parker Jr 0 2 0 Johnny Rumley 0 2 0 Dennis Setzer 0 2 18 Ed Berrier 0 1 0 Ty Dillon 0 1 3 Justin Labonte 0 1 0 Stephen Leicht 0 1 0 Timothy Peters 0 0 7 Andy Houston 0 0 3 Ricky Hendrick 0 0 1 Shane Hmiel 0 0 1 MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation