Truex Jr. celebrates second crown jewel win of 2016
Martin Truex Jr. celebrates in Victory Lane at Darlington Raceway after winning the Bojangles' Southern 500, his second crown jewel victory of 2016.
Runner-up Bell: 'Just got to keep digging'
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Truck Chase Grid LOUDON, N.H. – Christopher Bell had what he described as a "good … no, great" truck after his second-place finish in Saturday's UNOH 175 Camping World Truck Chase opener at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . If Bell's No. 4 Toyota Tundra was "good … no, great," his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate William Byron's race-winning No. 9 entry was great … no, incredible. "All day long, we couldn't run with him and we had 175 (laps) to get it done and we didn't," Byron told NASCAR.com on pit road after the race. "I think he was fading there at the end and lapped traffic was not doing him any favors, so open race track (I probably couldn't have caught him), but the way it was, I maybe had a shot at it." The dominant showing in which KBM trucks led every single lap -- 161 for Byron, 11 for Bell and three for Cody Coughlin 's No. 51, which ran out of gas late – may very well clue us into half the battle contestants we'll be looking at in less than two months at Homestead-Miami Speedway when four drivers compete for the inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase crown . Based on what we saw Saturday, you'd be hard-pressed to find a reason to not include the streaking Byron and Bell tag-team among the quartet. Byron no longer has to sweat the Chase wild card that looms at Talladega next month in the Round of 8 as he's clinched his berth to the next series of races, while Bell's next-best result puts him in good position to move on should a rare – for him – hiccup occur. In the following Round of 6, it could be the No. 4 driver's time to land in Victory Lane for the second time this season. Bell picked up his second career Camping World Truck Series victory earlier this season at Gateway Motorsports Park and showed his strength at the "Magic Mile," two tracks similar in length and build to the penultimate race at Phoenix International Raceway . "(The similarities between here and Gateway) kind of, maybe (helped)," Bell said. "Gateway was not a race track that I had circled on my schedule that I thought I would have a possible win at, so to come here and be as good as we were, I think it's just a testimony to my crew chief, Jerry (Baxter). He does an awesome job, especially at these flat tracks where he has it all figured out." And don't expect the nerves to get in the way, as the 21-year-old was unfazed by any pressure that came along with Saturday marking the landmark first-ever Chase for the series, approaching it like any other race. "I think it was probably pretty similar (to what I was expecting). You just gotta treat these things the same," Bell said. "All these races are important; you never come out here to finish second. "Just gotta keep digging and pay attention and not make mistakes."
Jason Redman's Indy experience as Crown Royal's 'Your Hero's Name Here' Program winner
Jason Redman recaps his experience at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after being named Crown Royal's 'Your Hero's Name Here' Program winner.
Veterans, rookies soak in Chase berth, prep for battle
RELATED: See all 16 Chase drivers " Full Chase grid " Richmond results The lights surrounding Richmond International Raceway were keeping darkness at bay, if not the insects, and the majority of fans had already begun to depart. Along pit road, 15 of the 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers were milling about - only race winner Denny Hamlin was elsewhere, in Victory Lane celebrating a win in last Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 with his Joe Gibbs Racing crew. Drivers lounged against pit wall, stood by their cars, spoke with crew man, media, owners or just one another. After 26 races, NASCAR's 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup field was officially set. "We're just going to have fun," Austin Dillon is telling someone. "We haven't been (locked in) the Chase all year; these other guys have. We're going to go and really just look to win and upset these guys." Dillon, 26, is making is his first appearance in the 10-race playoff, and carrying the hopes of Richard Childress Racing . Teammates Ryan Newman and Paul Menard failed to make the cut. RCR hasn't won a premier series title since 1994, a decade before the new Chase format debuted. "The pressure is off me," Dillon says. "I've been sweating it the last three weeks; I' m not going to take that approach going into Chicago. I'm going to have fun and go all out." Nearby, team owner and Dillon's grandfather Richard Childress wore a smile and a look of relief. Dillion isn't the only new face in this year's Chase. Kyle Larson and rookies Chase Elliott and Chris Buescher will be making their first appearances as well when the battle to determine this year's champion gets underway this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway . Larson and Buescher made the field thanks to career-first wins earlier this year. Dillon and Elliott qualified based on their respective points positions after the season's 26th race. They've been in championship battles before -- all but Larson are former XFINITY Series champs; Dillon has a Camping World Truck Series title as well. Still, none of the four can fully understand what lies ahead. Their crew chiefs do. Chad Johnston (Larson), Bob Osborne (Buescher), Alan Gustafson (Elliott) and Slugger Labbe (Dillon) have varying amounts of Chase experience and success. Kevin Harvick knows, too. The 40-year-old won it all in 2014, his first year with Stewart-Haas Racing , and finished second last season. Do the kids have a chance? "I guess that depends on how you approach it," Harvick, seated atop pit wall, tells a reporter. "Are you happy to be there or do you want to win? "There are obviously a lot of very competitive cars that can go out and win races but it's hard to win a race; it's hard to keep yourself in contention week after week, keep living up to that pressure, keep your cars prepared week after week and adapt to something that you might need to change … you have to be able to adapt on the fly. "Those are the things that you have to learn as you go through this. I would definitely say it's a disadvantage if you haven't been through this before." Eight organizations are represented in this year's Chase, the same number as last year and the year before. A few new faces and a few new names but the majority are old hands at this. None belong to Roush Fenway Racing , one of the few long-running, multi-team groups not represented. Buescher's Front Row group is Roush-affiliated -- in addition to a technical alliance, both Buescher and crew chief Osborne have RFR backgrounds. It seems like yesterday that the Roush organization was winning back-to-back titles with Matt Kenseth in 2003 and Kurt Busch in '04. Kenseth's crown was the last before the arrival of the Chase; Busch was the inaugural Chase champion. If RFR is missing, JGR is easy to spot. For the second consecutive year all four of its teams are headed into the Chase and that's an impressive accomplishment for any organization. MORE: Bruce: Toyota the Chase favorite? Stewart-Haas sends three of its four into the Chase, and no other group can boast that all of its Chase teams feature former series champions (Harvick, Busch and co-owner/driver Tony Stewart ). It's difficult to say what's been the most impressive aspect of Furniture Row Racing with driver Martin Truex Jr .: The team's speed and competitiveness this year or that they've now made the Chase with two different manufacturers. A year ago, the Denver-based team was aligned with RCR and Chevrolet; this year it's been JGR and Toyota. Didn’t skip a beat. Truex made it all the way to the final round at Homestead-Miami Speedway last season. His '16 chances, he said, are "as good as anybody's right now. "I don't think anybody's got a leg up on us," he said. "… The cars have been fast all year long. We have to do our job and be consistent … we've done that the last couple of weeks and hopefully we can keep it up." Hope is the prevailing feeling. That and a sense of accomplishment. Saturday night they took a moment to let it soak in. This weekend at Chicagoland, the battle begins again (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Ready. Set. Chase! NASCAR launches Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup campaign
RELATED: Breaking down the Chase field DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 13, 2016) -- NASCAR is bringing to life the drama and excitement of The Chase ® for fans online and on their mobile devices with Ready. Set. Chase, a new, integrated marketing campaign leading with digital and social media to promote the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ™. This year, to complement a robust, multi-platform social media push, NASCAR will engage and entertain fans with a heart-pounding action film series, starring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ drivers re-enacting the action and intensity of The Chase. The first digital video in the five-part series debuted today and can be viewed on NASCAR.com/TheChase . Inspired by the iconic chase scenes in classic Hollywood action films, the creative features reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch , on foot and being pursued by his Chase competitors. An original television spot, titled "The Chase is On," officially launched Ready. Set. Chase on Saturday during the regular season finale at Richmond International Raceway . "All season long NASCAR fans have been treated to some incredible racing on the track, but even still there’s nothing quite like The Chase," said NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jill Gregory. "Ready. Set. Chase plays off the passion, drama and tension that underscores these next 10 weeks, while creating multiple ways for fans to engage and be part of the fun." For the first time, all three NASCAR OEMs are inviting fans to get in on the action by participating in Chase sweepstakes on NASCAR.com . Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota will each award one grand prize winner a new vehicle and VIP trip for two to NASCAR Champion's Week in Las Vegas in December. Fans can register for a chance to win a Chevrolet SS, Ford Fusion Sport and Toyota Camry XSE by visiting the Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota sweepstake sites, or after making their weekly picks in the Chase Grid Game on NASCAR.com . "We're thrilled to have all three manufacturers activating around Ready. Set. Chase and creating unique content that elevates the overall Chase experience for our loyal and dedicated fans," said Gregory. In the Chase Grid Game, fans that correctly pick drivers to advance to each Chase round will be entered for a chance to win real gear from the drivers and race tracks, including firesuits, helmets and sheet metal from the race cars. NASCAR will promote #TheChase heavily across all platforms during the sport’s most social postseason ever, leveraging Twitter, Vine, Periscope, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to engage fans throughout the 10-week Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . For each round leading up to Championship Weekend, NASCAR will execute unique activations on specific platforms in an effort to highlight its broad and extensive reach across the social media landscape. Beginning with the Round of 16, NASCAR fans will have access to a custom emoji for anytime they use #TheChase on Twitter. In addition, NASCAR will highlight its presence on Twitter, Vine and Periscope via a continued focus on compelling content and behind-the-scenes experiences. The Round of 12 will feature a Snapchat Live Story from the October 8 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway , and as The Chase field gets narrowed down to eight, NASCAR will go all in with social storytelling across all platforms, highlighted by innovations on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, freelance designers and original production will tell the story of the most epic championship battle in sports. The Ready. Set. Chase digital films, developed with Ogilvy & Mather New York, will be shot after each Chase round and recreate the on-track highlights as part of dramatic chases. Last month, Chase drivers began hitting the road for social and traditional media blitzes to promote the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Kyle Busch kicked off Chase Across America in Boston and each week different drivers will crisscross the nation to make special appearances and build excitement for The Chase. NASCAR will crown its 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion at the Ford Ecoboost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the fourth and final round of The Chase on Nov. 20 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Tickets for all Chase events in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series are available at NASCAR.com/tickets . The 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup kicks off with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 2:30 p.m. ET. The race will be broadcast live on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, with additional coverage on NASCAR.com.
Martin calls selection 'the crown jewel' of his career
RELATED: Photos from the induction day Mark Martin told the tale more than once on NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Day this week, about his connection to fellow inductee Benny Parsons. Martin was a teenager -- "a nobody," as he termed it -- with racing dreams carved from his earliest days of wheeling cars on dirt. Parsons, in the prime of his driving career in the mid-1970s, took time for the Arkansas youngster and his father, sharing advice over lunch in his hometown of Ellerbe, North Carolina. Talk about a follow-through. Martin, 57, joined Parsons among the five chosen for induction in the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2017. "It hasn't soaked in yet," Martin said by telephone Wednesday after the Hall's announcement. "I didn't expect it. It is, by far, the crown jewel of my career and I'm so grateful for the people that helped me get there." Martin wasn't in Charlotte to hear his name called; instead, he was on his way to Indianapolis, reasoning that he wouldn't be among the five inductees this year. Martin was named on 57 percent of the voting panel's ballots, third-most among the 20 nominees. Still, he took the unexpected nature of being selected to heart, saying, "If I would've been on the voting panel, I would've probably voted another way." Martin's credentials -- both his success and his longevity across four decades in NASCAR competition -- eventually won out in just his second year on the ballot. Martin won 40 times in NASCAR's top division and combined for 56 more victories in its other two national series. But Martin acknowledged the gaps in his resume, those that he came heart-wrenchingly close to achieving. Among those were his five runner-up finishes in the championship standings and his 0-for-29 career streak in the Daytona 500 , the sport's most prestigious race. After Wednesday's accomplishment, Martin said that Hall of Fame induction fills any potential voids. "Look, I don't have a Daytona 500 trophy and I don't have a championship trophy, and I said many times that when people would complain about my not having one of those, I would ask the question: 'How would my life be different if I had one?' " Martin said. "And I truly believe that my life would not be very different. But my life will be different from now on because I'm in that Hall, because that is my crown jewel. "That speaks of not one year worth of success, not one great achievement, but a body of work, and that's what I'm proud of."
Crown Royal Heroes: Michael Gallardo
Check out Crown Royal Heroes nominee Michael Gallardo. One of these five finalists will receive naming rights to the 2016 Crown Royal Presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard.
NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase explained
Get the 101 on how the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase will work and how a champion will be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Best in-car audio from the Crown Royal 400
From Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart's last ride around the Brickyard to Kyle Busch's dominating performance, check out all the best radio chatter from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Brickyard Breakdown: Gordon, Stewart looking for one final crown
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman and Chris Rice talk about Jeff Gordon's return to the track and Tony Stewart's final race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.