Ingersoll Rand will serve as primary sponsor for Kimmel's five NNS starts
Complete news and notes on all 43 cars in the Quaker State 400 RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid Breaking down how the full 43-car field fared at Kentucky Speedway. 1. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch led a race-high 163 laps to win his second Cup event of the year and is 87 points outside the top 30. " MORE: How is Busch positioned for the Chase 2. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano paced the field 23 laps late on Saturday night, but couldn't hold on for his first Kentucky victory. " MORE: See the updated Chase Grid and where Logano is on it 3. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . A cut tire, an unexpected pit stop and a subsequent speeding penalty didn't deter Hamlin, who rallied from two laps down to earn his eighth top 10 of the year. " MORE: Kentucky rules package earns rave reviews 4. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . "My Minions didn't like M&Ms," Edwards radioed his team after lining up next to teammate and leader Kyle Busch for the Lap 157 restart. " RELATED: Sign up for RaceView for in-car audio during race. 5. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth reported early in the race that he had an alternator going down, but restarting the car seemed to fix the issue. " MORE: JGR pulls off rare feat at Kentucky 6. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . The outside pole sitter struggled on pit road, notably dropping nine spots after hitting his front-tire carrier during a stop under the fifth caution flag. 7. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon was shut out in his final Kentucky appearance, and despite a fifth straight top-10 result, the track will remain the only one where the four-time Cup champion is winless. " MORE: Gordon's track record 8. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . The points leader endured a late-race tight-handling condition to claim his Series-leading 16th top 10 of the year. 9. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . "You're back in this game, homeboy," crew chief Chad Knaus told Johnson, who lined up seventh for the Lap 157 restart after some major early changes to his car dropped him deep in the lineup. " RELATED: Sign up for RaceView for in-car audio during race. 10. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch was loose running 10th and crashed into the Turn 4 wall on Lap 99 after asking his team to undo the changes they had made on a previous stop. 11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse just missed his second top 10 of the year after traveling up the track and into the side of Jeb Burton on Lap 143 to bring out the seventh caution. 12. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Despite radio communication issues, Almirola held on to earn his best Kentucky result. 13. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne earned the Lucky Dog on the fourth caution flag and rallied to sixth for the final restart. 14. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray overcame an early lugnut issue and used a little pit strategy to score his second-best Kentucky result. 15. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard brushed the wall on Lap 81 and left debris to bring out the third caution flag. 16. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle's team tried a variety of adjustments on Saturday in an attempt to help the turning of the No. 16 Ford. 17. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Despite a car that was "plowing," Truex held on to maintain fifth in the points standing. 18. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan ran in the top 10 early before his team started chasing the handling of his No. 55 Toyota. 19. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . "This new package is awesome," radioed Bowyer, who earned his best 1.5-mile result of the season. "You have to drive your (rear) off, but it's fun." " RELATED: Sign up for RaceView for in-car audio during race. 20. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman, in his fifth Kentucky outing, stayed out to inherit the lead briefly for the Lap 192 restart. 21. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt, complaining of a lack of brakes, smacked the wall on Lap 136 to bring out the sixth caution flag. After subsequently bumping Danica Patrick , Earnhardt spent time on pit road where his crew tried again to fix the issue. " WATCH: Danica, Dale Jr. tussle on pit road . 22. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish struggled with drive-off, but posted his fastest lap of the night just prior to the eighth caution flag on Lap 152. 23. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears was named the Lucky Dog after Jeb Burton tagged the wall on Lap 143 to bring out the seventh caution flag 24. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier had just returned to the lead lap after the Lap 122 caution when he was penalized for passing before the restart. 25. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Handling was an ongoing issue for Dillon, who reported to his team on Lap 220, "I feel like I'm trying to turn a bulldozer down into the corner." 26. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger's team continually tinkered on the No. 47 Chevy, and he finished as the last car on the lead lap. 27. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne was running in the top 10 by the halfway point, but noticeably fell off the pace with 30 laps to go. 28. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Patience paid off for Cassill, who posted his best 1.5-mile result of the 2015 season. 29. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland asked his team to check out his grille because his gauges were running hot on Lap 161. 30. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett lined up 29th in his second Kentucky appearance. 31. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman had to play catch-up after his team was penalized for going over the wall too soon during the competition caution on Lap 32. 32. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Moffitt, a Kentucky newcomer, earned the Lucky Dog pass heading into the Lap 192 restart. 33. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart locked down his brakes briefly on Lap 143 and hit the wall while trying to avoid wrecking competitors in front of him. 34. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick spun on Lap 207 thanks to contact from a brake-less Earnhardt to bring out a record-tying 10th caution flag. She retaliated by hitting Earnhardt as the two entered pit road. " ALL ACCESS: Danica frustrated with Dale Jr. 35. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. A smoking left-rear tire prompted the pole sitter to pit unexpectedly with 52 laps to go. Upon returning to the track, he hit the wall to bring out a record-setting 11th caution flag. 36. Reed Sorenson , No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson drove the No. 62 for the first time this year in his first 1.5-mile start of the season. 37. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt was running 35th when left-rear tire rub prompted his car to start smoking around Lap 110. 38. Will Kimmel III , No. 32 Ford, Go FAS Racing. Kimmel lined up 40th in his Sprint Cup debut. 39. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . A loose-handling condition prompted Yeley to spin in Turn 4 on Lap 122 and bring out the fifth caution flag of the night. 40. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport . Kennedy picked up a few spots after lining up 43rd in his first career Kentucky start. 41. Jeb Burton , No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . The rookie was pushed into the wall by Ricky Stenhouse on Lap 143 to bring out the seventh caution flag. 42. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto sustained damage during the Lap 143 wreck and retreated to the garage so his team could make repairs. 43. Josh Wise , No. 98 Ford, Premium Motorsports. Wise brought out the first caution on Lap 19 after J.J. Yeley pushed him into the wall. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver to pilot No. 32 Go Green Racing at Indianapolis RELATED: Wise leaves Premium Motorsports Josh Wise will drive the No. 32 Go Green Racing Ford next weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, returning to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after leaving the No. 98 Premium Motorsports ride last Monday. Wise announced the news of his new ride on Twitter, just as he had revealed he would be leaving his former team after 17 races in 2015 and 35 races a year ago. In those 52 starts for Phil Parsons Racing and Premium Motorsports, Wise earned a career-best 10th-place finish at Talladega in May. Timmy Hill replaced Wise in the No. 98 ride this week. I am happy to be wheeling this hot rod for @GoGreenRacing at @IMS next week pic.twitter.com/GELmbjNoWe — Josh Wise (@Josh_Wise) July 17, 2015 In 16 starts this season, Go Green Racing's No. 32 has been raced by six drivers with a seventh, Massachusetts native Eddie MacDonald , attempting to make Sunday's 5-hour Energy 301 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Former NASCAR premier series champion Bobby Labonte turned in the team's best result of 2015 with a 24th-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500 . Mike Bliss , Joey Gase , Will Kimmel , Travis Kvapil and Boris Said have also piloted the Ford Fusion this year. At Indianapolis, Wise has three starts, improving each season over the past three years. In 2012, he failed to make the finish with a 40th-place result. In 2013, he finished 38th, and last year, he earned a 29th-place finish.
Drivers give feedback on new rules package at Indy SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- There was the unexpected stall on track by six-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the opening session and the hood on the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin that disintegrated just as the second practice got underway, but neither were related to the new high drag aerodynamic package that debuted Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams began preparations for Sunday's Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard with a taller spoiler (9-inches), a 1-inch wicker bill, as well as changes to the splitter and splitter extension panel. The move could improve passing on the narrow, 2.5-mile track. But the jury was still out after nearly five hours of on-track activity Friday. "Passing will be tough to say the least," Hamlin, fastest in the first of three sessions, said. "We're trying something new. I can't fault (NASCAR) for trying – they tried what we wanted to try and I thought we had a pretty successful race (at Kentucky) and now we're trying something different. "We'll see if it's better or not. Still, here is a very tough race track. This is a one-groove race track where it's definitely been tough to pass here for 15 years or as long as I've been here. It's just going to be one of those tough tracks." Johnson's troubles were the result of a faulty fuel pump. Hamlin's miscue came as a result of hood pins that weren't properly secured. Other than a spin here, a brush with the wall there, it was a day most spent trying to find the balance between speed and drivability. Some found it; some are still searching. NASCAR rolled out a low downforce setup for the Kentucky race, and while the tire provided wasn't built specifically for the package, the results were generally favorable. A version of the Indy package, which will also be in play next month when the series returns to Michigan International Speedway, was tested briefly last year. Because of the uncertainties, teams were allowed one engine change prior to Saturday's qualifying and also ran their practices with on-board data acquisition systems. Teams were instructed to bring four different gears to Indy for possible use, starting with a 3.70 before giving option of 3.70 or 3.75 gear for the second session. By the final practice, the options were 3.75 and 3.80. "I honestly think until we get into the race on Sunday that it's hard to get anyone's true opinion on what we are going to have," Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) said. "… I really don't. To me on Sunday when you get two cars side-by-side with this package the guy in third is going to have an extra engine. It's going to be crazy the amount of speed that he is going to have. I don't know, the restarts are going to be pretty wild, I think." Teams did take part in an open test here in April, following a two-day Goodyear tire test. But the high drag package was not a part of those tests. The data gathered months ago isn't completely useless, Team Penske driver Joey Logano said, but much of it no longer relates. "I think a lot of that transfers over, but there is still quite a bit of difference," he said. "When you look at your wedge or your track bar or nose weight -- those three things for sure, maybe rear springs -- those changed probably the most when you have a package that's so different than what they tested here or what we ran last year even. "We're just trying to find a balance for those three and those … are a challenge enough, but obviously there's a lot more to that package than just that." A day that began for teams at 6:30 a.m. ended with most sifting through data, changing engines, and "basically totally re-prep your car," Team Penske competition director Travis Geisler said. "This was a hell of a day." What, if anything, was learned? "I think it's definitely going to take guys being forced into situations, which is what the race does, to make things happen," he said. "Something that just never happens in practice. You can't force guys to do that. … It is, he said, "a lot of the reason why NASCAR has gone in the direction of ‘hey, we're going to go to the race track and see what happens.' "We've all spent a lot time, energy, resources on going to large scale tests and you still just never generate the motivation for guys to put themselves in uncomfortable positions. "There has to be something on the line and I think kissing the bricks is as much on the line as guys can get." Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ) led the final practice. Coors Light Pole qualifying (NBCSN) to set the 43-car field is scheduled to being at 1:10 p.m. ET Saturday. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Daughter Brittany reveals a special helmet for Iowa race RELATED: Grand marshal added to Wallace's Iowa duties " Racing with nephew Matt NEWTON, Iowa -- Until Friday, Kenny Wallace 's plans to hang up his NASCAR driving helmet this weekend at Iowa Speedway were only missing one small detail -- the helmet itself. His former team kept deflecting his phone calls, telling him not to worry and that his helmet would be there for the 905th start of his long, storied NASCAR career. The smokescreen was effective -- it bought his daughter Brittany enough time to have it professionally painted with a commemorative collage of snapshots and memories from his 26 years in the sport. While Wallace's time behind the wheel in NASCAR will end with Saturday's U.S. Cellular 250 presented by New Holland (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM), the sport won't be saying goodbye to one of its most charismatic characters, who will remain a presence both in TV broadcasting and at local dirt tracks. Though there will be some finality after he steps away Saturday night, Wallace said he'll do his best to keep his emotions in check along the way. "I think there's going to be moments and I hope that it happens after the race, but I've done a pretty good job at my career to really focus in on what I have to do," said Wallace, who will carry backing from the race's title sponsor on his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota. "I remember when Ernie Irvan got hurt (in 1994) and I was in that Texaco/Havoline car in the Cup Series, I was shifting the gears getting on the high banks there at Bristol and I could hear the roar of the crowd, and I was like, 'No. Focus.' "I've learned a lot along the way. I've watched Jeff Gordon this year; I don't even know how he can go. I've learned a lot. I'm ready to race, and then we'll deal with everything after the race and when I get out of the car." That theory held true for about 30 minutes after his arrival at the .875-mile track, when Brittany Wallace handed over the special surprise to her father in front of a group of friends and family. Short of choking up, the 51-year-old Wallace said he had sworn he would not be emotional, but was genuinely moved by the gift. Wallace joked that he hopes to amend the helmet's graphics Saturday night, changing his nine career XFINITY wins to an even 10. But the joke belied his ever-sharper focus with top-shelf JGR equipment underneath him for this weekend's swan song. "If he's saying he's blocking it out, he's way better at doing something like that than I am," said older brother Mike Wallace , like his sibling a nine-time winner in NASCAR national competition. "He said he's happy with it, content. All I can say is more power to him. It's outstanding. I just ran into him over there and he's got his family and friends, he's the grand marshal for a (K&N Series) race tonight, he's got a suite here. He seems to be having fun right now. He said, 'I've got to go sign some hats,' and I was like, 'Go be famous. That's what you're good at.'" The nature of the family-affair weekend has even more ties. Kenny Wallace will share the track with his nephew, Matt, who is scheduled to make his second career XFINITY Series start Saturday night. His farewell race will also take place on a short track designed by oldest brother Rusty Wallace, a NASCAR Hall of Famer. The eldest Wallace ended his driving career in 2005, but like his brother, he remained active in the sport with broadcasting stints in television and radio. It's why both Wallaces have shied away from calling the occasion "retirement" with a capital R. "I wish him all the luck in the world," said Rusty Wallace, speaking Thursday at a charity event in Pennsylvania for The NASCAR Foundation and the Jeff Gordon 's Children's Foundation. "I told him the other day, do not use that word retirement. You don't need to do that. They'll label you with that. I said notice Jeff Gordon said he's quitting, but he's not retiring, but he's never going to race again. So he's kind of retiring but he's not going to use that word. He learned that from me and Mark Martin . I told Kenny, you didn't need to do that. He'll be fine." So if anyone was hoping to get rid of Kenny Wallace after this weekend, tough luck. The driver known for his boundless energy, his grace with racing fans, his social media presence, his extracurricular dirt-racing travels and his broadcasting moxie isn't going anywhere. After 900-plus starts dating back to a 1988 debut at Martinsville Speedway, driving the No. 8 ride owned by Dale Earnhardt in what is now the XFINITY Series, Wallace said simply that "there needs to be a line in the sand" for his driving career. Staying power in NASCAR can often be fleeting and rare, a fact that has made Wallace even prouder of his long run in the sport's highest levels. Wallace's helmet is anchored by the words "Life is a journey," a well-worn adage he said he always tells his three daughters. Wallace's own journey will enter its next phase after Saturday night. "My mom, Judy, she said to me, 'Kenny, hon. You keep reinventing yourself,' " Wallace said. "I'm like 'really, Mom?' It's not a plan, it's just that I want to stay in the sport. I think longevity and persistence is what I'm so proud of, because let's face it, I was never an 'A' driver. To me, I feel proud saying I was a 'B-plus' driver. I won nine XFINITY races, 177 top-10s -- I mean, that counts for something. When I should've been down and out, I stayed digging." Contributing: RJ Kraft from Pocono Raceway FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
New at-track shopping experience begins at Pocono RELATED: See photos of the new merchandise experience LONG POND, Pa. -- A new era in NASCAR shopping has officially launched with the new "Trackside Superstore." A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday at Pocono Raceway officially ushered in the new retail model as the sport moves away from merchandise haulers and into an at-track shopping experience that is faster and features more selections for fans. Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick , Pocono June race winner Martin Truex Jr ., Ross Tannenbaum, president of Fanatics Authentic, Brandon Igdalsky, president of Pocono Raceway, and Blake Davidson, vice president of Licensing and Consumer Products for NASCAR, spoke before fans rushed in to experience the store. Vice Chairman of NASCAR Mike Helton also checked out the "Trackside Superstore." The "Trackside Superstore," which is run by Fanatics, totals 60,000 square feet, has specific sections for most drivers and carries $2.5 million in retail inventory, while also carrying a 50 percent increase in product assortment for most of the drivers. There also are dedicated specialty shops for ladies, kids, collectibles and tailgate. There are still some select haulers, most notably for Team Penske and Brad Keselowski merchandise. "This NASCAR superstore is like nothing I've ever seen," Igdalsky told the crowd. "I'm so excited that we were able to launch this year at Pocono. NASCAR has done a great job of enhancing the fan experience, and this is just the next level." The ease of the shopper experience at the "Trackside Superstore" was something that immediately struck Truex. "I'm super excited about this," Truex said. "I can't tell you how many questions I've had this year on Twitter just about, 'Hey, where do I get that hat? Where do I get that shirt?' This makes it easy. Everybody goes in there, finds their favorite driver, finds what they're looking for very easily." He later jokingly added that, "I feel like it's welcome to 2015 everybody." Harvick echoed Truex's thoughts, while also adding his own perspective from when Kevin Harvick Incorporated handled his merchandise. "You come in and walk through your section and you realize how simple the process is to go about finding your driver and checkout," Harvick said. "The thing I noticed the most was just how easily you can see everything and how there might have been a whole bunch of products before that you didn't know where on the trailers. It's definitely like Martin said, it's welcome to 2015. ... It's a huge step for everybody. "Having the experience that we had running our own merchandise stuff for several years at KHI and now seeing this, it's really something that's really neat. You understand the undertaking it takes to get to this point." Davidson indicated this has been a year-long project, from seeking proposals to revealing Fanatics as the selection to running the business in January to today's opening. "We've been working on this a long time," Davidson said. "And we walked in and saw what they put together. Fanatics has done a tremendous job. It's really blown us away, the breadth of product. The ability of the fans to touch and feel the product, which we knew they would be able to do. There's so much here, there's so much new product here that we've never had a track before. I think people are really going to be excited when they get here." Cayce and Mark Votek have been coming to Pocono for the past 10 years. Cayce, a fan of Denny Hamlin , liked that even with the new setup there was still a feel of familiarity. "I was a little skeptical at first," Cayce said. "I do like that I can touch the stuff first. That's actually really cool, probably dangerous for me because now I just grab it all. I know all of the people from Denny's hauler because I go there all the time and I actually ran into one, so I like that they're still here. There's still some familiarity. So far, so good." In addition to being able to touch and feel the products, Tannenbaum touted the reduced wait times fans will have to buy merchandise. The Fanatics executive estimated that in peak times the wait at a hauler was between 45 minutes and an hour. However, he acknowledged that this new model wasn't without his challenges when compared to running merchandise at other events like the NHL Winter Classic or the SEC Championship Game. "From a process, this is absolutely the most challenging one we've had and I think will ever have," Tannenbaum said. "When you think about it, go set up the Super Bowl and then break it down 38 times and set up again the next week. That's what makes it the most challenging. At Fanatics, it was an exciting challenge. It was 'go for a solution to this and make this work.' And what we presented to NASCAR and where we ended up today is very different because we learned so much." Tannenbaum added that Fanatics has three different tent structures, two different sets of fixtures to hold merchandise and one set of inventory for the trackside superstore. Next weekend's race at Watkins Glen will have a slightly different setup and a team is already up there to set it up. A team from Pocono will drive to Watkins Glen when the Tricky Triangle race weekend ends to build the setup out with the inventory. "What you are seeing here is going to be the standard superstore for all tracks," Tannenbaum said. "What is going to happen is there will be more locations and satellite locations at tracks that do either more revenue or less revenue, wider tracks. I use Richmond as the example. This store at Richmond, everybody walks into that front, it's pretty straightforward. At Daytona or the really big tracks, you are going to have to have multiple locations to meet the consumers' demand. We are going to look at what revenues are at the track, what the flow of traffic is and make sure that we can manage all of that. But this will be the central point for all of the stores." And while the new setup may take some time for fans to get used to, Truex said this was a good change for the long run. "I know a lot of NASCAR fans are worried about things changing, but I assure them this is a change for the better and I think it looks great." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See where drivers will pit for the Windows 10 400 RELATED: Complete lineup at Pocono " See all 43 cars in Sunday's race Pole-sitter Kyle Busch nabbed the pick of pit stalls at Pocono with a fast lap of 178.416 mph in Friday's qualifying. He will service the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the first pit stall, entering Turn 1 of the Tricky Triangle. Sharing the front row at the start for the Windows 10 400 (1:30 p.m. ET Friday, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) with Busch is Kevin Harvick , and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Chevrolet will pit in the second stall, right behind Busch. Joey Logano qualified third and chose pit stall No. 3 for the No. 22 Ford. Richard Childress Racing 's No. 3 driver Austin Dillon will pit in the first pit stall coming onto pit road out of Turn 3. Kurt Busch has an opening in front of the No. 41, which will come in for service at the front of the first set of stalls coming out of Turn 3. Fifth-place qualifier Tony Stewart grabbed the spot in front of Kurt Busch , with a clear rear entry at the back of the second group of pit stalls at Pocono. Starting No. 9 Sunday is the No. 2 driver, Brad Keselowski , who will pit his Team Penske Ford also with a rear opening, choosing the final pit stall in the first block of pits heading into Turn 1. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
No. 18 driver has won three straight races with three different rules packages RELATED: How 'Rowdy' can make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup LONG POND, Pa. -- The 2015 season has been one of change for Kyle Busch , missing the first 11 races of the season with a broken leg and a broken foot and then coming back with a new crew chief, Adam Stevens, for his No. 18 ride. On Friday, the winner of the last three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races said embracing change has been key to his success. As the Joe Gibbs Racing driver attempts to become the first driver to win four consecutive races since 2007 when Jimmie Johnson did it on the way to his second Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, Busch hopes this strong streak will carry over into the fall to follow in Johnson's footsteps. "I look forward to continuing on our Chase march here and then once we get to Chicago, being able to capitalize on this hot summer to have a continuation of that into the Chase," Busch said. The driver has not only won three races in a row, but has done so with three different rules packages. His first win in the string came with the low downforce package at Kentucky Speedway, followed by a victory under 2015 rules at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His first win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway the next week came with NASCAR's high drag package. "With the different aero packages, I actually was pretty excited about it," Busch said. "I kind of like change, and I feel like I'm the best at being able to adapt to it the fastest before crew chiefs and engineers get too much of an understanding of the basis of what they have to work on to make those packages better in order to get their drivers better, their cars better and to be able to keep up with me. I kind of like the change." Busch likes change so much that he suggested running last weekend's rules at Pocono Raceway, a track where he's winless in NASCAR's premier series. "I actually wouldn't mind if we had that high drag package here at Pocono," Busch said. "I think here would definitely be a place that you'd want to see it with these long straightaways. That would certainly make for a really interesting race." Pocono is one of only five tracks where he hasn't won a race. The other four -- Martinsville Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway -- are in the Chase, and the last three are 1.5-mile tracks, which make up half of the races in NASCAR's playoffs. When the Chase starts, Busch will have run only one points race with the 2015 package on a 1.5-mile track, Charlotte in the Coca-Cola 600 . He earned an 11th-place result behind JGR teammate and winner Carl Edwards . Busch acknowledged his lack of track time with the current package, and the driver may need to learn behind the wheel during the final 10 races of the season. "The lower downforce at Kentucky was fun," Busch said. "It's definitely a lot harder than what a lot of the other mile-and-a-halfs have been this year. I haven't run in a whole lot of them. But just from the drivers' sense of what I got, the off-throttle time was a heck of a lot more. Everybody enjoyed it a lot so I hope to continue on down that path." Although Busch's first win of 2015 came on a road course last month at Sonoma Raceway, Busch said next week's return to road racing may present the biggest obstacle over the final six races of the regular season as he needs to make and then stay in the top 30 in points to secure a playoff berth. "With Watkins Glen coming up next week, that's going to be another hard one to get through so that's going to be a tough challenge for myself in the left foot. So we'll make it, and I think we'll be OK like Sonoma," Busch said. "It'll be sore on Monday afterwards, and we'll continue to ice it and make it feel better." Sunday's Windows 10 400 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) will be the first time this season Busch will run a second race at the same track. He finished ninth in June, and hopes to replace the zero in his victory column with a win based on JGR adjustments over the last six weeks. "I've never won at Pocono Raceway, and I hope that's about to change," Busch said, using the "c" word again. "We've certainly had some good runs over the years, sometimes in the spring race, sometimes in the summer race, but overall, I feel like our team's really come a long way. I like where we're going and where we're at so I just hope that we can continue that here this weekend and get ourselves a win and make it four in a row." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
This week the guys debate their favorite racing movies, recap Kyle Busch's historic run and what it will take to capture glory at Pocono Raceway. Other topics include Jeff Gordon, weight loss and balloons.
Hendrick driver gives honest assessment of where organization is right now RELATED: Complete lineup for Sunday's race " See all 43 paint schemes LONG POND, Pa. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . is the only driver other than Kyle Busch to win one of the past five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. However, the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is aware that the four-team organization he calls home has been a bit off in recent weeks, especially compared to that of Joe Gibbs Racing , in its first year of fielding four cars. "I think you got to be honest with yourself," Earnhardt Jr. said Friday at Pocono. "The Gibbs guys have found more speed. They look like over the last couple of weeks to be a lot stronger and that we're not on top of the mountain anymore, by ourselves anymore at least. They found some speed and we need to combat that with speed of our own." In the past five races, JGR has four wins (all by Busch) and nine top fives. During that same stretch, Hendrick has just one win and three top fives (Earnhardt won at Daytona and has another top-five finish). And since that win at Daytona, Hendrick Motorsports as an organization has led just two laps in the past three races, while JGR has led 330. "It's business as usual as far as I can see," Earnhardt said. "We definitely understand when we don't perform well. Last week was frustrating. I don't think we've been too thrilled over the last month about how things have gone for us. From Rick (Hendrick) on down, you get the impression that things need to be better and everyone needs to work harder. "We have meetings every Tuesday. We had that meeting with the team and then we have a meeting that all the drivers and the crew chiefs are together, Rick's there. We have that meeting every Tuesday and everybody, whether we are all running great, we talk about how to get better. And if we aren't running well at all, we talk about how to get better. Even when things are going good, you see areas where you need to keep working. Because you know it cycles in this sport." Things do indeed cycle around. Last season, Hendrick won 13 races to JGR's two. And this season both organizations have six wins. As things stand now, if Busch can get into the top 30 in points by the regular-season finale at Richmond, JGR will likely send all four of its drivers into the Chase. And while Jimmie Johnson and Earnhardt have clinched spots in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne are still looking for that elusive win, although each hold spots in the provisional Chase Grid based on their point positions. "It's a never-ending pursuit to build the fastest race car week in, week out," Earnhardt said. "And it looks like right now it's a mad scramble to get ready for the Chase. I'd love to be sitting here three-tenths faster than everybody and fighting only my teammates for the win. We need to work a little harder to get a little more and be ready for the Chase to be able to get out there and compete. "It definitely looks like our competition has improved and so I think we can be honest with ourselves. We definitely aren't where we want to be. But I've seen it before. These guys are working on it every single day trying to find that speed and make that difference back up and put ourselves back to have the advantage on the straightaways and in the corners. I'm not too worried about it. We got the best resources. We got the best bossman, and he doesn't quit and he doesn't settle for second. He's in there pushing everybody everyday." The sport's most popular driver will look to turn the recent fortunes of the organization around on Sunday in the Windows 10 400 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) at Pocono Raceway where he qualified 15th. Junior has a favorable history in recent years at Pocono, completing the season sweep of both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events last year, and has four top fives in his past five races here. In June, he finished 11th in a race won by Martin Truex Jr , which snapped a five-race win streak at Pocono for Hendrick. After finishing the opening practice session in 14th place, Earnhardt was a bit disappointed but said the team learned what was needed for race trim. "We will see what we have (Saturday)," said Earnhardt. "I'm really anxious to get ourselves back into race trim for those practices (Saturday) and see how we can sort our stuff out and see where we really are. We've always run good here, there shouldn't be any issues. We showed up with some issues. I'm anxious to get to work on the car and see where we can figure out where we are going to be and be competitive." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule