Drivers debate aero rules while at open test at Bristol Motor Speedway Maybe they aren’t completely sold on the high drag package that debuted this past weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but after a couple of days to chew on the results, drivers seemed a bit less vocal in their level of disappointment with the platform. "I applaud NASCAR for trying, doing everything they can," Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards said during a break in Wednesday's open test at Bristol Motor Speedway. "They're trying all these different things to produce the best racing they can." Not exactly an endorsement for the Indy package, which will also be used in August when the Sprint Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway, but an understanding of what NASCAR officials are hoping to develop. However, Edwards, who finished 13th at Indy after winning the pole, remains steadfast in his belief that the continued reduction in downforce is the best route. "I believe the racing as we lose aero dependency, as they take downforce away, you're just going to see better and better racing," he said. "… I really think the more we go back toward that, the better off we're going to be." The high drag package featured a 9-inch spoiler (a 3-inch increase) as well as other aero changes. Downforce was impacted, but only slightly. Instead, the taller spoiler created a larger wake of air behind the cars. Ryan Blaney , 12th at Indy, said he thought the high drag package "showed promise." "There are good things and bad things you can take away from each package," the Wood Brothers Racing driver said. "That's what it's always going to be no matter what package you bring; there's always going to be positives and negatives and drivers are going to have different feedback about every one. "I thought the high drag package really helped us get big runs down the straightaways behind other cars and you could make a move getting in the corner. But Indy being a single-lane race track it was hard to kind of make a move in the corner. You had to kind of set yourself up for the straightaway." Michael Waltrip Racing driver David Ragan agreed that the taller spoiler and other configurations made for a better closing rate on others when coming off the corners and onto the long straightaways at Indy. "But once you got to their back bumper, once you pulled out, you really couldn't do anything with that run," Ragan, who finished 21st, said. "It was real easy to stall out. I'm not an aero specialist so I don't know if we could tweak on that … I thought the cars changed balance a lot behind other cars. … When I could run by myself, my car would be a little on the tight side and when I would catch a car, or if I caught two cars side-by-side in front of me, my car would shift to really, really loose really quick. "I think just all the air off of their cars was disruptive and I didn't have any consistent air on mine. You had to be on the wheel and on top of it making adjustments certainly when you were in traffic or by yourself." While Indy's 2.5-mile course is tight, one-groove and without much banking, Michigan should be a better barometer for the package. "I think you will see some bigger packs at Michigan," Ragan said. "You’ve got a little more grip in the race track, you've got a little more banking, definitely more grooves so I think you've got more options to run two- and three-wide in the corners. "But I think my big concern is the handling for those guys that are in the middle of the pack. The cars in the top four or five are going to have a very good advantage just from the fact of having clean air. Those guys running 20th are going to have to fight a different fight because of handling. "It will definitely be, in my opinion, a little better going to Michigan just because the race track will promote a little better racing." Tire Chatter Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series teams competing at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway this weekend will run the same Goodyear tire codes and a combination that's been used at the 2.5-mile, three-turn track since 2012. According to Goodyear, the tire combination is used only at Pocono. Meanwhile, XFINITY Series teams competing this weekend at Iowa Speedway will use the same combination used there earlier this season. Indy Violations There were 31 pit-road penalties handed down during Sunday's Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard, nearly half of which were due to team pitting before pit road was open. NASCAR officials announced a P3-level penalty Wednesday levied against the No. 98 Premium Motorsports team for an unattached weight that fell of the car during practice at IMS. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
No. 05 driver dove under Kenny Humpe for lead with three laps to go
Complete news and notes on all 43 cars in the 5-hour ENERGY 301 RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid Breaking down how the full 43-car field fared at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. 1. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . " Ain't no give up in this (No.) 18 team," Busch radioed his crew after winning his third Cup race of the season. He put himself in position to win after making a green-flag pit stop then racing his way back onto the lead lap. " MORE: Busch conquers Loudon 2. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski led a race-high 100 laps, but was flustered by the caution flags: "I'm not really happy with these yellows when I'm leading like that. Not cool." " RELATED: Kes admits to being grouchy 3. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick led 59 laps, but had a bit of a pit miscue on the final stop that made regaining track position difficult. 4. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . The outside polesitter was consistent all day en route to his fourth top-five at his home track. 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Despite a power issue, Earnhardt recorded his 10th top-five of the season and improves to rank third in the points. " WATCH: Dale Jr. says he 'had to drive real hard all day long' 6. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth overcame an early pit road speeding penalty to record his 16th top 10 at Loudon. 7. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards earned his first pole position at Loudon and benefited from having the best pit stall at the 1.058-mile track. 8. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon posted his best career result at Loudon after working with his team on the No. 3 Chevy's handling. " RELATED: Dillon's top 10 will boost team 9. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon and company rebounded from a collision during practice and a potential battery issue to improve his already track-best top-10 record to 23. " RELATED: Gordon, Bowyer make contact in garage 10. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch's car showed to be better on short runs, but he held on to post his best Loudon finish since July 2011. 11. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman brushed the wall on Lap 12, but continued to climb through the field after starting 26th. 12. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Truex was caught a lap down because he pitted just prior to the Lap 251 caution flag. 13. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger's team had oxygen ready as their under-the-weather driver managed his fifth top-15 at Loudon. " MORE: Allmendinger treated for heat-related issues 14. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin dropped back after lining up fifth on Sunday as his team worked to recover forward bite. " MORE: Hamlin, Dillon have differing views of Saturday's run-in 15. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola sustained damage to the right-front fender after getting loose and hitting the wall prior to the Lap 251 caution flag. " RELATED: Almirola's back in provisional Chase Grid 16. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears employed pit strategy to earn his best Loudon finish since September 2009. 17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse climbed from his 32nd starting spot to run ninth with 50 laps to go before a tire issue jeopardized his position. 18. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan picked up three spots to restart 14th with 50 laps to go after a solid four-tire stop by his team. 19. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne spent the first half of the race running in the top 10 before a tight-handling condition emerged. 20. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart earned the free pass after the third caution flag waved, but the three-time Loudon winner struggled to stay on the lead lap. 21. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland marched through the field after starting 37th. 22. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . A pit road speeding penalty on Lap 179 mired Johnson in traffic. 23. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney was running seventh on Lap 125 when he reported bad tire chatter and opted to make an unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel. He was then clocked too fast entering pit road. " MORE: Get pit road and so much more with RaceView Premium 24. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick worked through an initially tight-handling condition in her fifth New Hampshire start. 25. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard limped off the track on Lap 199 after cutting a tire, but wound up bringing out the caution when he spun at the pit road entrance. 26. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray was running 13th with 30 laps to go when he radioed to his team that he thought his engine was blowing up. " MORE: Hear in-car audio with Scanner 27. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . The No. 16 team made gains on the handling, notably finding grip, and took the wave-around with 46 laps to go to get Biffle back on the lead lap. " RELATED: Biffle says it's 'hard to stay enthusiastic' 28. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt matched his best performance at the 1.058-mile track 29. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Forward progress was a challenge for Hornish, who brushed the wall early on Sunday and then later reported an engine issue on Lap 55. 30. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill ran as high as fourth on Sunday, but his strong run was stalled when he got caught by the caution on pit road 31. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson had to fight his way back after getting nabbed for speeding on pit road on Lap 105. 32. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . The No. 6 team tried to use pit strategy to rally from a deep starting spot in Bayne's first New Hampshire outing. 33. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . The fastest qualifying rookie improved upon his starting spot in his Loudon debut. 34. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer got loose in the corner and hit the wall with 93 laps to go. He successfully kept his car from spinning, but required a pit stop for repairs. " RELATED: Bowyer, Gordon make contact in garage 35. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto worked through a tight-handling condition in his Loudon debut. " MORE: DiBenedetto treated for heat-related issues 36. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Handling was a persistent issue for Annett, whose team made a big adjustment with 100 laps to go. " MORE: Annett treated for heat-related issues 37. Eddie MacDonald , No. 32 Ford, Go FAS Racing. The New Englander and regular driver in the K&N Pro Series East made his second start at his home track. 38. Timmy Hill , No. 98 Ford, Premium Motorsports. Hill encountered some overheating during the early stages of Sunday's 301-lap event. 39. Derek White , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport. The 2010 Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series made his Cup debut when he lined up 42nd Sunday. 40. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier struggled after hitting the wall on Lap 10. He retired for the day after losing power steering in the final 100 laps. 41. Jeb Burton , No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . The rookie reported to the garage so his team could address a broken gear during the second half of the race. 42. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman's team changed his flat right-front tire at Lap 97, but Bowman didn't make it off pit road as the already flammable area combusted. " WATCH: Bowman's tire fire 43. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley struggled with a vibration during the first half of Sunday's race and finally retreated to the garage with a broken hub seal. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Dale Jr. was more concerned about Dillon than celebrating his win RELATED: Dale Jr.: 'That was terrifying to watch' Dale Earnhardt Jr . is NASCAR's perennial Most Popular Driver for many reasons. He's a winner on track, he's hip and engaging, he appeals to old-school and new generation fans and he's got one of the most beloved pedigrees in the sport. Here's another reason, Earnhardt's actions after winning the rain-delayed Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway speak to the kind of compassion and perspective fans want their cherished heroes to have. Dale does. Even as Earnhardt claimed the checkered flag for his milestone 25th Sprint Cup Series victory in the early hours of Monday morning, there was no celebratory cheering on his radio -- only raw fear and genuine concern as he watched a frightening wreck transpire in his rearview mirror. "Oh my God. ... that looked awful,'' Earnhardt screamed into his team radio, his voice shaking. "Oh no. Oh no. Did you see that?'' He asked in disbelief watching Austin Dillon 's car launch into the front-stretch catch fence, land back on track upside down and take another hard hit from Brad Keselowski 's spinning car. The impact was so severe Dillon's engine separated from the car and was still smoking yards away. Earnhardt's team assured him that help was on the way for Dillon and that included some of Earnhardt's pit crew since they were close to the scene. "Is everybody all right? Is everybody in the grandstands OK?'' Earnhardt continued to press. Told that Dillon was out of the car and gave a thumbs-up, Earnhardt was still concerned. "So all the drivers are good and everybody's good in the grandstands?" he asked, still shaken. "Man, that looked scary." Reassured again, that it looked like everyone was OK, Earnhardt finally praised his team for the win, but insisted, "I'm going to wait (on any victory celebration). I want to make sure everyone is good.'' It's hard to listen to Earnhardt's emotional radio transmission at the time of the accident. It's moments like this when you find out the true character of someone. And for Earnhardt there was an immediate, instinctual priority shift. The trophy could wait. Nearly an hour after the race had finished -- long after Dillon and the other drivers had been checked and released from the infield car center -- Earnhardt came into the Daytona media center still looking preoccupied and subdued, not like someone that had just earned a major victory. "You're just on the verge of tears, to be honest with you, because I think that the first thing that goes through your mind is -- and I saw everything in the mirror pretty clearly -- that car really went up in the air pretty high and I could just see that it was a black object that hit the fence and I'm assuming I'm looking at the undercarriage of the car,'' Earnhardt said. "I've never really seen a roll cage handle those catch fences very well and I just was very scared for whoever that was. I didn't even know what car it was, so I was just very scared for that person. "I didn't care about anything except for just figuring out who was OK. We pulled down to pit road there and (teammate) Jimmie (Johnson) got out of his car, come around that's the first thing we talked about. He was frightened as well and ... we just really wanted some information about everybody. "You imagine the news from the grandstands is going to come in a little slower, so you start thinking about that, waiting on that, seeing if everybody is OK there. "I mean the racing doesn't matter anymore.'' Although he didn't specifically say as much, you have to imagine this kind of incident at Daytona is especially hard for Earnhardt. He lost his father and namesake, seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, in a fatal crash here on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 . Earnhardt Senior drove a black No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing , as Dillon does now. Although, in situations like this, it doesn't matter if you have a special connection to the driver. Earnhardt explained how times are different now. As the sport has evolved and modernized, drivers actually spend more off-track time together now whether it's promoting sponsors or sharing a barbeque in the motor coach lot. "It's an awful feeling,'' Earnhardt said of watching a competitor be involved in such a serious crash. "We sit in those bus lots together, we all have become closer friends, I think, because of the environment. "It aint' like the old days where everybody is at different hotels and you never saw each other and you come to the track and run over each other and fight each other and not like each other. "We all sort of live in this community and you may not like everybody, but you damn sure grow to respect them and don't want to see anybody get hurt.'' And yes, Earnhardt conceded, this is the kind of thing that does cause you to question your mortality. This sport is like no other. "I questioned it when I got my concussions and I'm sure I went through something when Daddy died,'' Earnhardt reflected. "I think when I got injured a couple years ago I realized how close I came to not racing anymore and how quickly this can be taken away from you. "I think turning 40 also helped me learn to appreciate this a lot more and try to really enjoy the opportunity I have because I've got such an amazing opportunity. I hate to go on about it but to be in these cars that I've got, to be with the team I've got, I feel so lucky and so blessed. When you get older, you definitely start to realize how fragile things are and how lucky you are to be able to be a part of it.'' Dillon's crash and Earnhardt's reaction to it is a not-so-gentle reminder that this sport is really much more about the people than it is the racing or the cars. MORE: The reason behind Dillon's wave FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
But RPM driver is shooting for a playoff-clinching win instead SPARTA, Ky. -- Aric Almirola was in a comfortable place this time last season. The No. 43 driver was on the heels of his first Sprint Cup Series win at Daytona International Speedway, a victory that locked him into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . The scenario looks much different for the No. 43 driver this year heading into Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400 (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Winless in 2015 and ranked 16th in the standings, Almirola sits on the delicate bubble of making the Chase -- or falling just short. "We just need to run like we've been running," Almirola said Friday before the rain-shortened Sprint Cup Series practice at Kentucky. "We've got to execute and we've got to take advantage of everything we can. "We've got to be more consistent like we have been and run top 15, and we can't have any more mistakes from here to Richmond. We've got to finish races and can't have any DNFs. We've got to put pressure on some of the guys ahead of us in points to hope they make mistakes." Almirola's to-do list for the No. 43 team in the nine races before the Chase cut-off is long, but doesn't vary too much from what they've already been doing. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver currently boasts an average finish of 18.1 and nine top-15 results, including a fifth-place finish at Dover. His consistency alone has given him an opportunity to earn a spot in the Chase on points -- but a solidifying win would certainly ease the pressure for Almirola & Co. However, Victory Lane will be a tall order this weekend, as the rough-and-bumpy Kentucky isn't the easiest place to take the checkered. "Having the bumps be as aggressive as they are here, you have to run your car higher or else the car bottoms out a lot," Almirola said. "So with running the car higher it becomes a little bit more of a balance for the crew chiefs and engineers to get the car to ride across the bumps smoothly enough without being too harsh, but then to be able to get the car down and low to the race track in the corners, where it's not as bumpy. "The crew chiefs and engineers fight that and pull their hair out trying to figure out a good setup for here." Mother Nature has provided the teams with another hair-pulling situation, as rain has canceled and shortened practices for all three series since Wednesday. With limited practice sessions, the ever-growing possibility of "weepers" and the unknown of the new aero package that is debuting this weekend, Sprint Cup drivers will have their hands full come Saturday evening. Almirola isn't worried. "At the end of the day we're all professionals," Almirola said. "Race car drivers will get in anything and go drive it, so we'll adapt. That's what we do. We adapt to however the car is driving from weekend to weekend or whatever rules package we've got. I think it's important for the crew chiefs and engineers to get some laps and understand where their travels are gonna be, to understand how the car is gonna react to different changes compared to the different rules packages we've had in the past. "I'm anxious. I'm excited to go drive it and I'm excited to see how the race is gonna play out, to be honest with you. I know the hope is that we'll be able to race more side-by-side and pass each other, so I'm looking forward to seeing if that's the case." As Almirola and the No. 43 team work to earn their first win this season, they'll have the aid of a new sponsor: Armour Meats, a family brand of primary sponsor Smithfield Foods. The company will also host a sweepstakes in which a fan will win a trip for four to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Sprint Cup Series season finale. Click here to enter for a chance to win. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR chairman and CEO: 'There is a line' MORE: Official NASCAR release " Penalities issued to crew members, crew chiefs RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said Tuesday afternoon in an interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the sanctioning body was reviewing the tapes from a post-race fight Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway , and the sanctioning body was prepared to dole out some "harsh punishment." By Tuesday evening, NASCAR had suspended three Hendrick Motorsports crew members for six championship points races and fined $25,000 apiece. A fourth crew member was docked $25,000 and suspended for three races. The crew chiefs for the No. 5 and No. 24 teams, Kenny Francis and Alan Gustafson, were each fined $50,000 and placed on probation for six races. Jeff Gordon approached Brad Keselowski on pit road following the AAA Texas 500 after the two made contact late in the race, which resulted in Gordon cutting a tire and led to a 29th-place finish. He was running in the top-five at the time of the incident. Gordon removed his helmet and walked toward Keselowski as tensions and proximity among the teams' crew members increased. Once Kevin Harvick pushed Keselowski closer to the fray, the pushing intensified and some punches were landed. "In particular with the other participants in the sport, crew members or anyone else, … we don't have dugouts or sidelines," France said. "The drivers often are parked in the garage, next to one another. … It's not uncommon at all for someone to express how they feel, with a lot of emotion sometimes. We're good with that, we understand that's part of the game. But there is a line. When things escalate to the level that they did, or anything close to what happened Sunday, we will step in and deal with that very carefully." France also noted that Keselowski's late-race move was one of a veteran going all-out to get the win. "Quite frankly, he did exactly what I would expect any driver with that much on the line to do," France said. "He was looking at an opportunity to shoot a gap, if you will. It was unfortunate they touched and Gordon's tire obviously got cut, which was very unfortunate, but the idea is, that late in the race, things are going to happen when guys are legitimately trying to win races." Keselowski's move, and the emotions that it caused, were the product of a new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in its first year of existence. As for the added drama to the sport? "Welcome to big-time sports with big moments," France said. With two races remaining in the 2014 season, eight drivers are still eligible to win this year's championship. That includes the parties involved in Sunday's incident -- Gordon, Keselowski and Harvick -- as well as Joey Logano , Denny Hamlin , Ryan Newman , Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth . Following this Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN) four drivers will advance to the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a shot at the crown. "I think on balance, we still have a lot of consistency," France said. "Points still matter a lot. … I think we struck the right balance. We like what we see. It's elevating the racing, and that's our No. 1 goal." Newman and Kenseth remain in the title hunt despite both being winless this year. If either driver were to advance to Homestead and win the championship without winning a race, France said the sanctioning body would be "fine" with that outcome. "That could happen in any format that we have," France said. "In any one we've ever had or might have, we may be in that situation. You can have teams in other sports with losing records in the regular season win the Super Bowl or World Series. It happens." In 2010, France talked about the Chase capturing "the essence of Game 7s, eliminations," and with wins guaranteeing drivers a spot in NASCAR's playoffs, those moments can happen in any of the 26 regular-season races. "That's what we're trying to always have," France said. "Even when we're not in the Chase, we want the Daytona 500 , which obviously doesn't fall in the Chase, to be the biggest, most important event it can be. Given that we don't have hundreds and hundreds of races throughout our season -- we only have 36 -- they all ought to mean as much as possible. This Chase is certainly doing that." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Brad Keselowski defends his move on the race track, saying he came here to race, not to fight .
Kevin Harvick comments on the post-race altercations at Texas Motor Speedway, saying Brad Keselowski needs to learn to fight his own fights.
GarageCam host Matthew Dillner gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Tony Stewart and Joey Logano fight after Stewart gets upset about his racing at Auto Club Speedway.