RCR reveals Darlington throwback schemes
RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes WELCOME, N.C. -- It seemed almost appropriate that on the day that Richard Childress Racing unveiled its retro paint schemes for this year's throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway , one of the team's drivers would arrive in a "Dukes of Hazzard" Dodge Charger. Ryan Newman said his vehicle choice wasn't an intentional nod to the historic track's nostalgia movement. "My truck is hauling hay right now," Newman said. "It was basically the only thing I had that I could take my kid to school with that had a car seat in it and then drive here and get here pretty quick." Sure enough, the bright orange No. 01 General Lee was equipped with a child seat, something that Bo and Luke Duke never really had during the television show's seven-season run. Newman's version, however, made for a popular addition to the carpool lane. "There's quite a few pictures that get taken at that school," Newman said. "You'd be surprised." Cameras were front and center Wednesday morning at Childress' shop, capturing images of Newman and teammate Austin Dillon driving up in eye-catching cars with overtures to the organization's rich NASCAR pedigree. Newman's No. 31 Chevrolet will carry period-style Caterpillar logos for the Bojangles' Southern 500 at the historic South Carolina track, and Dillon's No. 3 Chevy will be trimmed out in American Ethanol livery evocative of the Piedmont Airlines scheme that adorned RCR's flagship car for its first victory back in 1983. Ricky Rudd, RCR's driver at the time, was in attendance Wednesday at the organization's sprawling campus, helping Childress spin tales of when the operation had just four full-time employees and cashed checks for as little as $200 in contingency prize money. Today, the payroll number tops 500 and the winner's purse has more zeros on the checks. . @RCRracing paint schemes for @TooToughToTame revealed. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/uGuJBOjW3j — Zack Albert (@zack_albert) May 11, 2016 . @austindillon3 & @RyanJNewman with their @RCRracing rides for @TooToughToTame . #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/T3tsZ6dK94 — Zack Albert (@zack_albert) May 11, 2016 Besides the heritage colors and logos, Childress' design team also captured the spirit of the team's early 1980s growth through typefaces. Both cars unveiled Wednesday will feature numerals from the time period before Dale Earnhardt made RCR's stylized No. 3 famous. "I think we just tried to play within the years that Darlington gave us," Dillon said, referring to the track's focus on the 1975-84 era for its Labor Day classic, "and I think there's no better way than to celebrate RCR's first win with this scheme. American Ethanol allowing us to do it, Ricky Rudd coming today -- that was really cool and special just talking to him and hearing a little bit of what was going on back in the day and how RCR's grown." Few teams invested more into the NASCAR throwback initiative's debut last year that Richard Childress Racing . All three of its teams turned back the clock not only with paint schemes, but also with their garage attire, which featured ringer T-shirts, white work pants and red Converse Chuck Taylors to round out the look of the No. 3 crew. Wednesday's program re-positioned RCR as an active participant for Darlington's retro encore, with the No. 27 Chevrolet's look for driver Paul Menard to be revealed at a later date. "It's a lot of different connections that tie in together into one weekend," Newman said. "I'm a big, as I think you guys know, fan of the history of our sport and it's pretty cool to see the way it all came together last year. I'm even more excited to see what's going to pop up this year." So is Chip Wile, who has left a compelling legacy of embracing stock-car racing tradition during his nearly three-year run as Darlington Raceway track president. Wile, in his second week as the newly tapped president of Daytona International Speedway , took in Wednesday's unveiling with a contingent from NASCAR's first superspeedway. Wile said Darlington's communications team had continual contact with its stakeholders before last year's first throwback weekend, almost needing to sell the concept to teams and sponsors alike. "Now that we've had a year under our belts and people have actually seen it, it's a heck of a lot easier to have these conversations," Wile said. " Richard Childress Racing , since Day 1 since we came to visit them at the end of 2014, they said, 'We're in.' They along with Stewart-Haas and a number of others have really helped champion this program for us." MORE: See the 2015 Darlington throwback schemes
Staff picks for GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
RELATED: See all the cars lined up for Sunday's race Denny Hamlin : If Joe Gibbs Racing can get organized in the same way it did at Daytona in February, the No. 11 could be the winning ticket at Talladega. -- Zack Albert Dale Earnhardt Jr .: Series' best plate racer has had three runner-up finishes this season. He's due. -- Kenny Bruce Jimmie Johnson : This will mark the 10th Talladega race since Johnson last won here and, quite simply, it's time. While his teammates will grab the lion's share of the attention, "Six-Time" will ultimately hold the winner's trophy -- his third. -- Holly Cain Joey Logano : Entering the weekend, I'd already pegged Joey Logano as the favorite -- then he went out and topped final practice. Seemingly due for a win and with a pair of restrictor-plate victories in his back pocket from last year, what more are you looking for? -- Pat DeCola Ryan Blaney : His best Cup finish came in this race last year and Penske, with whom Wood Brothers is affiliated, has taken two of the last three 'Dega races. -- RJ Kraft Dale Earnhardt Jr .: I'm jumping on the Junior bandwagon. He's always the one to beat at the 2.66-mile track and he'll make it difficult for the rest of the field en route to his seventh Cup win here. -- Maggie MacKenzie Brad Keselowski : The 2012 premier series champion spoils the recent Hendrick-JGR show of power, thanks to his own racing ingenuity and plenty of fast Fords with which to partner. -- Brad Norman Brad Keselowski : The Team Penske driver earned his first Cup win in 2009 at Talladega and has won twice more since. Couple that with he and teammate Joey Logano 's history of working closely together on-track -- a crucial element to plate racing -- and 'Dega Victory Lane could be calling Keselowski's name. -- Jessica Ruffin Matt Kenseth : All the bad luck that the No. 20 team has had this year has masked impressive speed. Talladega is about both luck and speed. With the former in hand as shown by his fourth-place qualifying effort, Kenseth is due for a more auspicious turn of his fortune. -- Kathy Sheldon Denny Hamlin : Hamlin saw Victory Lane two years ago at Talladega and with his 2016 Daytona 500 win under his belt, the JGR driver seems ready to dominate another superspeedway this season. -- Taylor Starer Chase Elliott : His dad won here twice and the man who drove the No. 24 before him won here six times. Talladega has been known to produce dramatic moments, so let's root for another one to happen Sunday. -- George Winkler Make your picks in Streak to the Finish !
Who will take home a new clock at Martinsville?
NASCAR.com's Zack Albert and Chuck Bush get you set for the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
The Climb: Who will be best at the paperclip
NASCAR.com's Zack Albert and Chuck Bush get you set for the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway and take a look at who will climb through the field
NASCAR.com's writers predict the 2016 season
NASCAR.com's Zack Albert , Kenny Bruce and Holly Cain make their predictions for the 2016 NASCAR season: Zack Albert Camping World Truck Series champion: Cole Custer . With bounds of talent, expect the 18-year-old with the flat-brimmed cap to emerge from a four-way scrap with Matt Crafton , John Hunter Nemechek and Tyler Reddick . XFINITY Series champion: Erik Jones . Changing series, but same result. The prodigy collects another big trophy as Toyota grooms him for a Sprint Cup seat. Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year: Ryan Blaney . Expect the Wood Brothers' young star in the making to edge Chase Elliott in the series' most compelling rookie crop in recent memory. Surprise Chase qualifier: Clint Bowyer . Seeing Bowyer's name among the postseason field is no surprise, but pushing the underdog HScott Motorsports team to its first Chase berth would be. Surprise Chase miss: Kasey Kahne . The No. 5 team needs to shake a severe case of the doldrums that handcuffed Kahne's 2015 season. Daytona 500 pick: Dale Earnhardt Jr . Championship 4: Denny Hamlin , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Joey Logano . As in the previous two years of the new-look Chase, don't count on one organization having multiple cars vying for the title in Homestead. 2016 Sprint Cup champion: Kevin Harvick . The only two-time Championship 4 driver gets there again. This time, he cashes in for championship No. 2. Kenny Bruce Camping World Truck Series champion: Cole Custer . Talented kid in solid equipment; lack of experience the only concern. XFINITY Series champion: Erik Jones . Last year's Truck Series champion already has two career XFINTY Series wins. Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year: Ryan Blaney . That he and the Wood Brothers team made 16 starts together should give them a bit of an advantage in the early going. Surprise Chase qualifier: Kyle Larson . Much has been expected of the youngster; this year he delivers. Surprise Chase miss: Jamie McMurray . While his teammate makes his first Chase appearance, McMurray fails to repeat his effort of 2015. Daytona 500 pick: Dale Earnhardt Jr . Championship 4: Kyle Busch , Joey Logano , Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Harvick . They had the speed and the wins last year. Nothing has changed. 2016 Sprint Cup champion: Joey Logano . Willing to take chances, and has the talent and equipment to back it up. Holly Cain Camping World Truck Series champion: John Hunter Nemechek . This would be a big step for the 18-year-old, but he has the talent and the drive. XFINITY Series champion: Erik Jones . He has both the natural talent and the equipment to be another rookie champion in the series. Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year: Chase Elliott won the award as an XFINITY driver and with his talent plus the Hendrick Motorsports backing, he should fare best among the first-year drivers. Surprise Chase Qualifier: Greg Biffle , Normally "The Biff" wouldn't be considered a surprise, but it's been a rough winless two seasons for him. He seems in good competitive form with a new look -- and a highly motivated team. Surprise Chase Miss: Paul Menard . That he qualified last year marked a career-best achievement, but too many other high-achievers will be back in the mix in 2016. Daytona 500 pick: Denny Hamlin . Championship 4: Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Harvick , Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin . After two early Chase exits, Johnson is poised to make his first Championship 4 appearance -- perhaps the hardest to predict of all the categories. 2016 Sprint Cup Champion: Jimmie Johnson earns his record-tying seventh title in a timely reminder of what makes him among the greatest champions of the sport.
NASCAR.com's 2016 Daytona 500 predictions
Going into 2016's season opener, members of the NASCAR.com editorial team make predictions for who will head to Victory Lane for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway . Zack Albert Dale Earnhardt Jr .: Restrictor-plate racing is often finicky, but it's hard to go against a proven Daytona-winning driver with a stout car that goes where he points it. Kenny Bruce Dale Earnhardt Jr .: As much as I'd like to see a surprise winner, inside information tells me it's Dale Jr.'s to lose. Holly Cain Denny Hamlin : He is overdue in this race, at a place he races so expertly. Pat DeCola Kyle Busch : 'Rowdy' will start 2016 the way he closed out 2015 -- on top. His dominant showing in the second Can-Am Duel was no fluke, and he'll pick up his second win of Speedweeks on Sunday. RJ Kraft Denny Hamlin : Hard to pick against Dale Jr., but I will. Hamlin has had the speed during Speedweeks, won the Sprint Unlimited and has four straight top-six finishes at Daytona. Hamlin will snap JGR's 23-year drought in the Daytona 500 and give Toyota its first win in the "Great American Race." Maggie MacKenzie Joey Logano : The talk at the track has Dale Jr. and his "Amelia" car winning, but the 2015 Daytona 500 champ shouldn't be forgotten. Logano's been posting top speeds all week as he continues the strong momentum from his dominant '15 season. Brad Norman Joey Logano : "Sliced Bread" becomes the first back-to-back Daytona 500 winner since Sterling Marlin (1994-95), overpowering those Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas and, yes, even race favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr . Jessica Ruffin Dale Earnhardt Jr .: Having won half of the speedway races last season, Junior's always a top pick heading into a plate event. Tack on his Duel win Thursday and his love for his car, and you've got a recipe for Victory Lane. Taylor Starer Kyle Busch : Coming off the high of being the 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion, Kyle Busch is ready to add another accomplishment to his resume: a Daytona 500 win. The Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have all looked strong during Speedweeks, but Busch will be the one who brings Toyota its first "Great American Race" victory. Kathy Sheldon Joey Logano : Amelia's a great car, but the No. 22 almost had something for Dale Jr.'s speedy ride in the Can-Am Duels. Something crazy always happens at Daytona, and the defending winner looks like he can sneak through the trouble spots again. George Winkler Ryan Blaney : Let's pick the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate to pull off the upset for the Wood Brothers. Fellow Fords in the Team Penske camp can give him the push he needs to make like Trevor Bayne and shock the world.
XFINITY Series title format, Dash 4 Cash get revamped
RELATED: Learn more about the changes CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A seven-race Chase format and revamped Dash 4 Cash program will greet XFINITY Series teams for 2016 as NASCAR rolled out major changes for two of its three national series Tuesday during the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "When you get down there to Homestead, you don't … go down there and run 14th. You're going to have to run your tail off," XFINITY Series director Wayne Auton said of the adoption of a Chase format for the series. "I think we'll see a different style racing, everyone focused on getting that first win as we saw with the Sprint Cup Series. We feel like it's going to highlight the XFINITY Series drivers, which is what we need to do and (boost) the "Where Drivers are Made." It's just another way that we know we will get these young drivers out in front of everyone. "When we get to Homestead, I don't know who will be more nervous, them or myself. Because you want to … make sure everything is right. But the fans are the ones that are going to win." Similar to the format currently used in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , the XFINITY Series Chase will consist of the season's final seven races. It will feature a 12-driver field, two three-race elimination rounds, and conclude with four finalists competing for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "For me, I'm 100 percent in favor of that," Daniel Suarez , driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota said on Tuesday during JGR's portion of the media tour. "I think it's going to be more fun, and more exciting for us, for the fans, for NASCAR. We are going to add some pressure on ourselves, which I think is going to be good. When we get ready to make the step to the Cup level, we are going to know what to expect from all this pressure in this system, so it's going to be fun." To qualify, a driver must have either finished among the top 12 drivers or won one or more of the season's first 26 races -- provided he or she is in the top 30 in points and has attempted to qualify for each race. Any driver winning two Dash 4 Cash bonuses will also earn a Chase berth. The first round will consist of races at Kentucky, Dover and Charlotte, with the top eight advancing. As with the Sprint Cup format, winning an XFINITY Series Chase race automatically advances an eligible team. Points will determine the remainder of the eight that advance out of the Round of 12. Similarly, the Round of 8 will consist of three races, at Kansas, Texas and Phoenix, with winning eligible drivers and/or points determining the final four that will compete in the Championship 4 at Homestead. The highest finishing driver among the final four will be crowned XFINITY Series champion. There will be points resets after each round and any Sprint Cup Series driver who qualified for the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is ineligible to compete in the XFINITY Series Championship 4 at Homestead. "I wouldn't say it changes anything for the start of the year or even really for the mid-part of the year," Erik Jones , driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota on Tuesday. "We're still going to try to win races, but the time it really changes is when you get to the elimination races and especially when you get to Homestead." This year's Dash 4 Cash program will feature stops at Bristol (April 16), Richmond (April 23), Dover (May 14) and Indianapolis (July 23). Prior to each event, two heat races (with lineups determined by odd/even qualifying positions) will determine the 40-car lineup for the main. The two highest finishing XFINITY Series regulars in each heat race will qualify for that event’s Dash 4 Cash award, a $100,000 bonus. Any driver winning two of the four Dash 4 Cash bonuses will earn a Chase berth, as long as he or she meets the previously established criteria. "At Bristol, we will have 50-lap heat races, then a 200-lap main," Auton said of the series' first visit of the year to the Tennessee short track. "At Richmond, we’ll have 35-lap heat races and a 140-lap main; when we go to Dover, we will have two 40-lap heat races and a 120-lap main and when we get to Indy we'll have two 20-lap heats and a then a 60-lap main." There will be a 15-minute break between heats and a 20-minute break between the final heat race and the main. There will be no purse money or points paid for the heat races. Contributing: Zack Albert
'Dirty Air' crew talks 'The Intimidator'
Podcast includes NASCAR.com's Zack Albert discussing his Earnhardt project Take a few moments out of your day to listen to Richard Sturtz describe what it was like to stand in Victory Lane at Talladega with his hero, Dale Earnhardt. Zack Albert joined us on the Dirty Air Podcast this week to talk about his oral history project that takes an in-depth look at the people and moments surrounding Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s last win in the Winston 500 on October 15, 2000. One of the more memorable characters from the project was Richard Sturtz, the fan selected to be paired up with Dale as part of the Winston No Bull 5 campaign. • Log on to the iTunes Store and subscribe • Or watch the full replay on YouTube Sturtz got to join in on the Victory Lane celebrations, and to be honest one of the coolest parts about working on this project was hearing him tell his side of the story. History is one of those subjects that is best heard from the source, because once they are gone some of the greatest moments are lost for ever. That’s what makes this oral history project so unique and so special … it is all material from the source, from the people that were there; the people that lived it, breathed it, and carry the memories with them. If you haven't already read Zack's article, drop what you are doing, click here and do it now … you can thank him in the comments section later. Make sure you listen to the whole podcast to get Zack's full take on what it was like to undertake a project of this magnitude so check out the full-length show that is available on YouTube and iTunes -- or just listen to it below.
Weekly NASCAR.com preview: July 13-July 19
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Jessica Ruffin recaps Joe Gibbs Racing 's huge night in Kentucky, and how its four drivers managed to all finish in the top five ... @nascarcasm provides examples of fake text messages Dale Jr. might have received after his incident with Danica Patrick ... The Rundown gives you a note on all 43 finishers in the Quaker State 400. TUESDAY: This week's Power Rankings presented by Outback may have a new No. 1 driver after a great race on Saturday night ... speaking of the great racing, a new rules package was used for the first time at Kentucky. Zack Albert breaks down which teams benefited the most ... @nascarcasm provides the Facebook page of race-winner Kyle Busch . WEDNESDAY: New paint schemes will be on display at New Hampshire, and we'll have them all in Paint Scheme Preview ... Dale Earnhardt Jr . paid a visit to the International Speedway Corp., and we tagged along for the ride ... our weekly High 5 feature presents the best NASCAR content from around the web. THURSDAY: Plenty of #TBT action for you, including looking back on Rusty Wallace's win at New Hampshire in 1993, a gallery of the best #TBT posts from drivers, and photos of Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s fiancee sporting vintage NASCAR T-shirts. FRIDAY: The Sprint Cup Series gets on track at 11:30 a.m. ET, and we'll have leaderboards from three total practices and Sprint Cup qualifying ... 8 Tweets You Might Have Missed highlights the best from social media over the past week. Also coming this week: Steve O'Donnell says NASCAR will address Kentucky Speedway's surface before the series returns in 2016 ... Want to hear the best sounds from the scanner? That will be available Tuesday ... Zack Albert will preview next week's race at Eldora, always a crowd favorite.
NASCAR.com's Southern 500 predictions
RELATED: Complete Sunday schedule " Kes takes Darlington pole Members of the NASCAR.com editorial team make their predictions for one of the most prestigious races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series calendar: the Bojangles' Southern 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). Zack Albert Kyle Busch : The tradition returns? Kyle Busch leading piles of laps at Darlington has some heritage, too. Kenny Bruce Jeff Gordon : A five-time Southern 500 winner, Gordon secures a spot in the Chase in his final Darlington appearance. Holly Cain Kevin Harvick : Coming off back-to-back runner-up finishes in the previous two races, it's time Harvick re-visits victory lane for a proper Chase send-off and his second straight Darlington win. MORE: Darlington throwback paint schemes Brad Norman Kurt Busch : The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has three career poles, but no wins at Darlington. That changes Sunday as the No. 41 notches a momentum-building win with the Chase looming. George Winkler Kevin Harvick : Fans looking for a surprise winner to shake up the Chase won't get it because Harvick has been just too good all season and is in prime position (third in lineup) for a repeat performance at Darlington. Pat DeCola Martin Truex Jr . : Sure, Truex started the season with 13 top-10s in his first 15 races and only has two in the nine events since, but it's hard to picture the No. 78 team not regaining its strength as we roll into the Chase. With a low-downforce package at Darlington that would seem to favor Truex -- a vocal proponent of as little downforce as possible -- a Southern 500 win for the Furniture Row Racing driver seems like more than just a dark horse pick. RJ Kraft Kevin Harvick : No Cup driver has repeated at Darlington since Greg Biffle did in 2006, and Harvick will as he also sees his string of oh-so-close calls for a third 2015 victory come to an end at the “Lady in Black." Jessica Ruffin Brad Keselowski : Pole-sitter Keselowski's speed during practice and qualifying at "The Lady in Black," coupled with his strength with the low downforce rules package at Kentucky tells me he is going to be a force to be reckoned with on Sunday night. Kathy Sheldon Joey Logano : He loved the low downforce package at Kentucky, finishing second with it. He's on a roll with two wins in the last three races. And he found some speed in practice at Darlington, breaking into the top 10 in early practice.