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Post-Race Reactions: Tums Fast Relief 500
The top finishers and title contenders comment on the beating and banging at Martinsville Speedway.
Out Front with Miss Coors Light: Tums Fast Relief 500
Jimmie Johnson talks about capturing his third Martinsville pole, a track where he has won six times.
Keselowski preps for Junior-less 'Dega with motivation, fast car
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Brad Keselowski 's winning Coke Zero 400 Ford was lightning fast . The Team Penske driver led 115 of the 161 laps around Daytona International Speedway to win the July event at the famed superspeedway. But he won't be unloading that hot rod this weekend at Talladega. "The car that we won Daytona with I saw it the other day," Keselowski said Oct. 7 during a Team Penske luncheon at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "It's sitting in the back and completely torn down. The body and everything is still just like it finished at Daytona. I asked the guys, 'Are we really gonna let that car sit? Are we not gonna run that at Talladega?' "And they said, 'No, we've got a car better than that for Talladega.'" Given Keselowski's current circumstances heading down to Alabama for the elimination race this Sunday (Hellmann's 500 , 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), a fast car is a must. His 38th-place finish last week at Kansas Speedway put the No. 2 driver in a precarious position on the Chase Grid, as he sits 11th of 12 drivers and seven points behind the cut-off spot. RELATED: Keselowski, Elliott lowest on Chase Grid But if anyone can climb out of the hole holding the checkered flag, it's Keselowski. The 32-year-old veteran has a field-high four wins at Talladega, including the spring race earlier this season. For Keselowski, his past success paves the way for future conquest. "There's a self-fulfilling prophecy to plate racing to when you have confidence it transcends, not just through yourself, but to the cars you're running around, other drivers that work with you more, but also to your team, to where your team puts extra emphasis on those race and the drivers year-round cut you a little more slack because they just think you're going to pass them anyway," Keselowski mused. "And that creates a snowballing effect of momentum at plate tracks. So when you can have consecutive quality runs at a plate race, it almost gets easier. "It's kind of hard to explain and funny to explain, but I would say the success we've had this year on the plate tracks has put my team in a spot to where they almost put more effort on those races and developing the car and developing strategy and so forth because they have confidence that we can perform well at those tracks. And that they're not so much of a roll of a roulette wheel." Keselowski isn't the only current driver with a flair for plate racing. Six-time Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt Jr . is always considered a favorite heading down to the Deep South. But Earnhardt, who is out for the remainder of the season due to concussion-like symptoms, will be watching the Talladega chaos unfold from the sidelines -- something that hasn't happened there since Junior began racing in the Sprint Cup Series full-time in 2000. The absence of a veteran plate racer like Earnhardt Jr. is a big deal, Keselowski says. "There's no doubt about it that Dale Jr. at Talladega is one of the best," Keselowski said. "Without kind of putting in how the field feels about Dale himself in the moment, just losing one of the best drivers at the track is going to change the race. When you add in those other components and elements, I think it reduces the likelihood that you'll kinda see the field line up single-file against the wall. "And that itself means that the race is more taxing and an opportunity for incidents goes up dramatically." Multi-car incidents, tagged the "Big One" at restrictor plate tracks, are definitely no-go zones for Keselowski, who likely needs a win to advance to the next round of the Chase. There's no room for mistakes, no room for wrecks -- and likely no room for even just "safe" finishes. "Even being good at Talladega, it still doesn't feel good going there with no win," Keselowski said. "But you know you have an opportunity, especially when you have a great team and all those things. It can be tough -- I think it’s tougher on the guys that go there and don't enjoy that style of racing already. "But for me, I look forward to it."
Talladega Chase race to be called Hellmann's 500
RELATED: Buy tickets for Talladega TALLADEGA, AL – Hellmann's mayonnaise, which has been a staple in American kitchens for generations, and NASCAR's Most Competitive Track – Talladega Superspeedway - announced today that Sunday’s (Oct. 23) much anticipated elimination race in the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will now be known as the Hellmann's 500 . Hellmann's, a brand of Unilever, has been involved in the sport of NASCAR since 2004 and has a reputation for delivering fans with quality, delicious products. In addition to the new Talladega Superspeedway y (TSS) partnership, the Hellmann’s brand has a long-time relationship with six-time TSS winner Dale Earnhardt Jr . and JR Motorsports. NASCAR fans have embraced many of the attributes that resonate with the Hellmann's family of products – plain and simple, they are the real deal. Hellmann's flagship product, Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise, is the best-selling mayonnaise in the United States. "In honor of our long-standing partnership with NASCAR, Hellmann's is thrilled to show our dedication to the race car community by becoming the exclusive, title sponsor of the Talladega race," said Hellmann's Marketing Director Russel Lilly. "We've been a staple on the speedway for years, getting to know Dale Jr. and establishing his No. 88 Hellmann’s Chevrolet as the car to beat. Whether on the track or cheering from the stands, Hellmann's is a life-time fan of the sport of racing and we’re honored to be a part of such an iconic race." "Hellmann's is an incredible nationally known product that fits in perfectly with our facility and the fans who attend the events here," said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch. "We have an incredible fan base who are here all week and love to cook up a variety of tasty dishes to eat while they are enjoying the best racing in the world. Take a walk on our property and you will see campers and tailgaters using a host of Hellmann’s spreads. We are glad to welcome them to our Talladega family with the Hellmann's 500 ." Sunday’s Hellmann's 500 at the mammoth 2.66-mile, 33-degree banked layout, will be the pivotal third and final race in the Round of 12 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . When the checkered flag falls in the pressure-packed event, the field of title contenders will be reduced from 12 drivers to eight. While he won’t be competing in the Hellmann's 500 , Earnhardt Jr. will be at Talladega and will be interacting with fans as part of the Fan Question & Answer session at the start-finish line as part of the track’s " Pre-Race Pit Pass Upgrade ." Weekend preparations for the Hellmann's 500 get underway Friday (Oct. 21) with two different practice sessions (1:00-1:55 p.m. CDT & 3:30-4:25 p.m. CDT). Foodland/Food Giant Qualifying, which will determine the starting lineup for the Hellmann's 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, is set for Saturday (Oct. 22) at 3:00 p.m. CDT. A ticket to the Hellmann's 500 also gets fans into the traditional Saturday Night Infield Concert, which will feature country star Jerrod Niemann, Tim Dugger and DJ Michaelis. The Hellmann's 500 is set for a 1:00 p.m. (CDT) start Sunday (Oct. 23).
Backed by Junior Nation, Alex Bowman sees opportunity at Talladega
RELATED: Ailing Bowman presses on, nabs career-best finish With Dale Earnhardt Jr . slated to miss his first Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway since he broke into the big leagues full time as a rookie in 2000, many wonder which driver will replace the superspeedway ace as the one to beat in Sunday's Hellmann's 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App). How about, you know, the guy actually replacing him? Fresh off a seventh-place showing at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Alex Bowman is set to drive Earnhardt's No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for the third consecutive week and the seventh time this season as the driver recovers from concussion-related symptoms. This weekend is perhaps Bowman's most significant start of the year. Because it's at Earnhardt's own Talladega. RELATED: Earnhardt-Talladega streak to continue Sunday "He's got a couple fans out there," Bowman told NASCAR.com at Kansas. "Man, I'm excited about (racing at Talladega). Speedway racing is always stressful, but … ( Hendrick Motorsports ) brings such fast race cars to the race track and their speedway stuff is amazing. Always fast . Especially the 88. So, just really looking forward to having a chance to win. "I'm going to sit Dale down and have a couple-hour conversation with him about speedway racing. If there's a speedway racer left in this garage, it's him, for sure." The man's got a point. From a wins standpoint, Talladega ranks as Junior's best track with six, only closely followed by four wins at Daytona, another Earnhardt cornerstone -- and another superspeedway. Bowman's 'Dega stats don't match Junior's, of course, but he did pilot the No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet to a 16th-place finish just last year. And while it's almost jarring to hear a driver say that he is "excited" for Talladega, it's unsurprising coming from Bowman, who'll have the roar of the crowd on his side -- a fanbase that has named the man he's replacing NASCAR's Most Popular Driver for 13 years running. "Junior Nation has been great," said Bowman, 23. "It's been really cool; they've just been really supportive. Every now and then there's one fan that hates me, but for the most part they've been awesome. Casey Mears fans hate me after (Charlotte), because apparently it was my fault that we blew a tire and wrecked him, but Junior Nation has been awesome." RELATED: Dale Jr. to join broadcasts for Talladega, Martinsville Not only does Bowman have full access to Earnhardt's Talladega insight, a wealth of knowledge so deep it likely needs its own Dewey Decimal System, he's sharing substitute driving duties with a four-time Sprint Cup champ and six-time 'Dega winner in Jeff Gordon . "It’s been really cool (to share a ride with Gordon). Jeff was my favorite driver growing up when I was a kid," Bowman said. "It's been really good to learn from him. He's an open book. All five of my teammates are complete open books. It's great to lean on them and learn as much as I can, but Jeff just has so much experience and has a really interesting view on a lot of things. "It's been a great time just listening and observing and learning everything I can from him." The lessons taken at "Gordon Drivers Ed, Inc." appear to be working, too. While the final results might not show the whole picture, Bowman, at times, has looked like the more competitive driver behind the wheel of the No. 88, and owns the car's best finish -- seventh -- since Earnhardt placed second at Pocono way back in June. Bowman says that some people joke with him and say "Oh, I'm glad to see you've finally learned how to drive." He's always known how to drive, it's just been more about opportunities. And if luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, "Bad Luck Bowman" -- a driver that once learned he'd been fired via Twitter -- knows the magnitude of the opportunity presented to him this weekend and in his remaining races. And you can be sure he'll be prepared. "I hope (this opportunity has put my name out there)," Bowman said. "We've talked to a lot of people and it always comes back to money. It's always 'Well, do you have any sponsorship?' 'Do you have any funding?' I don't, so it's just … the sport's such a business at this point that it really kind of limits what I can and can't get into and that's what's limited what I can and can't get into for the last four years. "I don't have anything lined up (for next year yet). I think my role that I had at Hendrick Motorsports before all this happened is still going to be the same. Still being a part of the team, still doing all the simulator stuff and helping as much as I can. I don't think that will change. Obviously, when Dale comes back and all that, I don't really know what that leaves for me as far as driving anything. "I don't know what the future holds there. I don't have anything going forward, really." In the short-term, at least, he'll have the full support of Junior Nation at Talladega.
Gray Gaulding to make Sprint Cup debut at Martinsville
Statesville, N.C. -- Eighteen-year-old NASCAR Next alumnus Gray Gaulding will take the next step in his career by making his debut in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS). Gaulding will drive the No. 30 Feed the Children Chevrolet for The Motorsports Group (TMG) at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 30. "It's exciting bringing a new partner into the series and to be making my NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at a track like Martinsville (Speedway) where we've had a really good history in the past is honestly unfathomable," Gaulding said. "I'm excited to partner with Feed the Children and use NASCAR as a platform to deliver our message and work to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. A lot has happened in a short period of time but I've never been as excited to debut this beautiful Feed the Children car next week at Martinsville Speedway ." "We are pleased to sponsor Gray Gaulding , the youngest NASCAR driver in the Martinsville field and one of the most promising and fierce competitors among the many legendary NASCAR drivers who have made NASCAR one of the most exciting sports in America," said J.C. Watts, Jr., president and CEO of Feed the Children. "He's not only bold in his approach, he's also blazing new trails, and we at Feed the Children strive to do the same. Gray knows firsthand the value of family, especially the NASCAR family who has joined us in our work as we have brought disaster relief to those whose lives and livelihoods have been severely affected by Hurricane Matthew and all the subsequent flooding." "We're grateful to be partnering with Feed the Children in their mission to provide hope and resources for those without life's essentials," said Stephen Lynn, chief executive officer for GGR Enterprises. Along with their debut at Martinsville Speedway , Gaulding and the No. 30 Feed the Children team will also make starts at Phoenix International Raceway on November 13 and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20. Help take action and donate to end hunger by texting FEED30 to 41444.
Junior celebrates 'Jeansboro Day,' says he expects to race '17 Daytona
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . may not be competing in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series as the 2016 season begins to wind down, but the series' most popular driver still has plenty to keep him busy. "Going to the races, doing all my (sponsor) appearances, doing everything I was doing before, just not driving," Earnhardt said Wednesday during a stop at the corporate headquarters of Wrangler. "Take the driving part out of it and everything else I'm still doing." Earnhardt was joined by team owner Richard Childress to help kick off the second annual "Jeansboro Day" celebration and reminisce about the long relationship Wranger has enjoyed with Childress and Earnhardt. Earnhardt has been sidelined since midseason after suffering concussion-like symptoms following a pair of crashes. In his absence, drivers Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman have handled the driving duties in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet. MORE: See: Bowman in the No. 88 car After missing two races in 2012, this marks the second time in his premier series career that Earnhardt has missed races due to a concussion or concussion-like symptoms. Although he won't be back behind the wheel this season, Earnhardt told the crowd that he plans to be back in the car when the 2017 season gets underway at Daytona International Speedway . "It's coming along pretty good," Earnhardt said when asked about his recovery. "We got dinged up, had a lot of wrecks this year, got dinged up pretty good. … "(I'm) starting to feel real good, starting to be able to get out and do things, enjoy myself. "I miss being in the car but we have every expectation of being in the car come February for the Daytona 500 ." The Sprint Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for Sunday's Hellmann's 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). It is the final race of the Round of 12 in this year's Chase, with only the top eight advancing to the next round. Earnhardt, who has six career victories on the 2.66-mile track, said he plans to be at Talladega "all three days." But just watching. Not driving, yet. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
FOX Sports, NASCAR return for 'Beyond the Wheel'
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. and CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- FS1 and NASCAR Productions will present the second season of the acclaimed documentary series Beyond the Wheel as part of FS1's NASCAR RACE HUB . Created to depict the sport's most pivotal moments and compelling narratives, the short films focus on influential characters -- both past and present -- and the unique stories that have shaped NASCAR as a sport since its inception. The first film premieres on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. ET during NASCAR RACE HUB on FS1. The second season of the documentary short film series is comprised of the following: · Bonneville 71 details how NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Bobby Isaac set 28 land speed records with a banned Dodge Charger Daytona on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1971, accompanied only by his crew members, a USAC official and a Chrysler engineer. Using the authentic No. 71 K&K Charger and featuring interviews with original crew members Buddy Parrott and Ken Troutt, the documentary pays homage to Isaac's historical runs by revisiting the Salt Flats to shoot all-new footage down a 10-mile straightaway. A remarkable story of innovation, the short film depicts Isaac's desire and dedication to always test the limits of speed, no matter the barriers. · Sueños de NASCAR follows NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Daniel Suárez from his roots in Monterrey, Mexico, to his rise in one of the sport's top series through the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. As Suárez returns home to visit family and friends, the film explores his place in Mexican racing culture, how the country has embraced stock car racing, and the impact of Mexican drivers on the future of the sport. Illustrating the young driver as a source of inspiration, the documentary also examines Suárez's success as the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR national series race and his current pursuit of the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship. · Miracle at Daytona -- The Tiny Lund Story recounts how DeWayne "Tiny" Lund risked his life to rescue fellow driver, Marvin Panch, from his burning Maserati at Daytona International Speedway before going on to win the 1963 Daytona 500 just days later. The true story of a journeyman driver who was one of the most likeable characters of his era, Lund was also awarded the Carnegie Hero's Medal for his selfless bravery in what became one of the greatest Daytona 500 stories of all time. The second film in the series featuring Daniel Suárez will premiere on Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. ET, while the original special on Tiny Lund will air in early 2017. Each documentary will also be available on FOX Sports GO and FOXSports.com following its premiere.
Meet Eddie D'Hondt, Chase Elliott's spotter
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of interviews with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series spotters. Eddie D'Hondt, Spotter for Chase Elliott , No. 24, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet HOW DID YOU GET STARTED SPOTTING? "I was the GM at Evernham Motorsports when Bill Elliott was driving. I actually started spotting for Bill -- I guess about 16 years ago. I had been managing teams up until that point. I just sort of fell into it. I used to drive Modifieds. It just worked. I've been doing it ever since." WHAT OTHER DUTIES DO YOU HAVE WITH THE TEAM? "We have a team meeting on Tuesdays, the driver, the crew chief and all the engineers. I have two reports I'm responsible for putting together for that meeting. That takes up most of my Monday, it's a lot of video work and some other technical work, but that's the other part of my job." DO YOU SPOT IN OTHER SERIES? "I spot in every series every weekend. I do 105 races a year; Rolex, Modifieds, Truck, XFINITY , Cup. In depends on the series as far as who I'm spotting for each weekend. I did all of Chase's XFINITY races, Cole Custer 's XFINITY races; I do Ryan Preece when I'm not doing the 88 XFINITY car. I do Cole's Truck races. The Ferrari team in Rolex." HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH CHASE? "Just this year. For four or five years I was with Jeff (Gordon); three years with Kyle (Busch) before that." WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST RACE AS A SPOTTER? "It was with Bill. I guess the (2001) Daytona 500 , the race that Dale (Earnhardt) passed away." WHAT'S THE MOST BIZARRE THING YOU'VE SEEN WHILE SPOTTING? "Oh my gosh. I've lived up here all weekend for 16 years so I've seen a lot of stuff. There have been so many things. It's a great vantage point. Every single weekend we get to see a lot of what no one else gets to see." WHAT'S BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE AS A SPOTTER? "Homestead with Jeff last year and (the win at) Martinsville. I'd have to say those two. Jeff was just special. He is a special guy. He got in the trenches with you, he became your friend. You wanted to fight with him. I was working with Kyle Busch when Alan Gustafson (Gordon's crew chief at the time) came and got me, sat down and struck a deal and five years later, here I am." WHAT'S THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR JOB? "Probably the travel. I’ve been on this circuit since 1996, prior to that I raced on my own. Being away from your family is difficult. Both my boys are working in the garage, so if I want to see them I have to go find them in the garage somewhere. The rest of my family is always home, so that's the hard part." WHAT CURRENT DRIVER WOULD MAKE A GOOD SPOTTER? "That's a good question. Maybe Carl Edwards . He likes to talk." WHICH TRACK IS YOUR FAVORITE? "Bristol and Martinsville. Probably those two. I grew up on the short tracks. The thrill of the short track, anything can happen at any moment. The flow you get into in those races, I enjoy that." WHAT IS ONE THING ABOUT WHAT YOUR JOB ENTAILS THAT THE AVERAGE FAN MIGHT NOT KNOW? "Today, it's become way more intricate than what people realize. We're providing information that we never did before. You have all engineers now on top of all these pit boxes, not guys that grew up short-track racing. These guys are all engineers now. So they talk to the drivers less and it's fallen into our laps now to provide more and more information on things like rubber buildup, lanes that are working, braking, backing up corners. We're talking more about driving than safety. Most of the guys up here, just go down the line, used to drive. They have some kind of wisdom about what it feels line so you're able to talk about it. And the guys that didn't drive have educated themselves. Those guys on the pit boxes, they're looking at data."
Larson loves Miami, joins teams testing at Homestead
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Kyle Larson is hopeful his fast performance in Tuesday's rain-interrupted NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be a harbinger of good things to come when the series returns to the track for the Nov. 20 season finale. The 24-year-old, who was eliminated after the opening round of this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, would have preferred that his test session work contribute to deciding the Sprint Cup championship later at Homestead. But he will gladly go for the track trophy instead this year. "Homestead is probably my favorite track for racing the trucks and XFINITY series and for Cup, it's my second favorite to Bristol," said Larson, who has a win here in the XFINITY Series. "I always enjoy coming here and running really close to the wall. It's a real race track where I feel like driver can make up a lot. You always have to have a good car but I feel like the driver can have an impact here." Larson's No. 42 Target Chevrolet paced the field in the morning session at the 1.5-mile track, just ahead of fellow Chevy driver Chase Elliott , who sits 25 points back from the cutoff as the series heads to the Talladega eliminator this weekend. Ryan Blaney was third fastest in the opening session. Elliott led Larson in the afternoon session, which was extended two hours because of the rainy weather, lasting till 7 p.m. Larson, Kurt Busch , Carl Edwards and Austin Dillon rounded out the top five on the speed charts in the afternoon session. Many of the teams here were specifically non-specific in their goals for the two-day test, guarding their objectives and the pursuit of them. Ford driver Brad Keselowski was less circumspect and certainly less technical in explaining his team's intent this week. "It's always a little complicated to explain," he said smiling. "We're always working on them, always making them better and we've come up with a couple things and we try to validate them on track. "We put them through all these engineering tests with all these fancy computer simulations telling us if it's going to work or not work. And we get pretty confident it's going to work, but like to backstop check it. We're going through a lot of things we've been doing with the proper implementation of all these gizmos to check things you're allowed to use in testing. Just validating the parts and pieces." Veteran Carl Edwards said he just likes to get laps here in advance of the series crowning its champion and that his Joe Gibbs Racing Team welcomed the opportunity to try new things. "We're just working on a bunch of different things," Edwards said. "This sport is evolving so quickly and all of the teams are pushing. I talked to (crew chief) Dave (Rogers) this morning and all the Chase contenders are up there and fast . We're working on a bunch of different things." Some teams, most notably, Martin Truex Jr .'s Furniture Row Racing team opted not to use the Homestead test -- something Edwards said he understood as well. RELATED: Truex, No. 78 team to pass on Homestead test "One of the things that can happen is you can come test and be too confident in what you find out," Edwards said. "We're just kind of going through some things and really having fun.. …Even if we don't gain anything huge for the car, we're having a good time." The series is set to conduct another full-day test at Homestead on Wednesday. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;