Oliver Rivera and Andy Moran talk about how NASCAR and Mobil 1 are active with supporting the military and how their former military service has helped them in their NASCAR careers.
Late pass by Busch leaves Elliott with runner-up finish at Michigan RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings BROOKLYN, Mich. -- There wasn't so much of a silver lining Saturday afternoon for Chase Elliott , not after a surprise spring into the late-race lead and slight fade to second place, matching his best finish of the NASCAR XFINITY Series season. "I'll be honest," Elliott said. "Second does not feel good -- to me, at least." A win remains an elusive thing for the defending series champion, 13 races into the XFINITY season. Elliott led four laps -- his first since another runner-up finish at Iowa Speedway last month -- but was unable to hold off eventual Great Clips 250 winner Kyle Busch , who drove past him with four laps remaining to make his return to the series a victorious one. Though Busch was coming in with some XFINITY Series rust, idle since February as he recuperated from severe leg injuries in the season-opening race at Daytona, Elliott said he was by no means green in his second XFINITY start of the year. "He's obviously really good at what he does," Elliott said of Busch. "I really don't have an excuse for you. Yeah, he outran me." Elliott opened at a slight deficit after a miscalculation during qualifying kept him from making a lap in the last round, leaving him with the 12th and final starting spot among the final group. From there, the 19-year-old JR Motorsports driver pushed his No. 9 Chevrolet to the fringes of the top five in the first 20 laps. With the good fortune of an even-numbered running position during a handful of late-race caution periods, Elliott found himself in the more advantageous outside lane to make up even more ground on restarts during the race's second half. Elliott was lined up in the second row for the final restart with 10 laps left. When front-runners Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick tangled and sailed up out of the groove in a battle for the lead during the 117th of 125 laps, the teenager -- with a front-row seat for the fracas -- took advantage to grasp the lead for the first time all race. "It can happen at any given point. We see that every week," Elliott said of the contact in front of him. "When you have a car on your outside, the car on the inside is at a large disadvantage, especially depending on how much he crowds you so that can happen. I didn't really foresee it happening, not with those two, but you're racing hard for a win and people make mistakes. They made a mistake, but they didn't wreck and that's the difference there." After the parting of the Logano-Harvick seas, Elliott had clear sailing in front but a fast-closing Busch making headway toward the front. Once the Sprint Cup regular placed the youngster in his mirrors, Elliott radioed crew chief Ernie Cope to say he was wide-open on the throttle but powerless to keep Busch at bay. With the benefit of hindsight, Cope said post-race on pit road that he second-guessed the amount of downforce he had in the JRM No. 9, saying he needed a slightly smoother race trim to keep pace. "We just need a little bit," Cope said. "We've kind of changed our philosophy with how we've been running the car, and this is a step in the right direction. We just need to keep going that direction." That direction heads next weekend to Chicagoland Speedway , site of an XFINITY stand-alone event. Since next weekend's 300-miler won't be held in conjunction with the Sprint Cup Series, the amount of top-level double-dippers traveling to the Illinois track will likely be greatly reduced, potentially providing more opportunity for an XFINITY Series regular to visit Victory Lane. Rather than seeing Chicagoland as a ripe race to pick, Elliott said he would rather welcome the competition from Sprint Cup moonlighters. "I would much rather outrun people who are here at a companion event, to be honest with you, just so I don't have to listen to questions like that after a race up there," Elliott said. "That's just me. I enjoy racing companion weekends. I think it's good for everybody and definitely makes you feel better if you are able to outrun all the guys at those races." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Host Matthew Dillner has a lot to deal with as he makes his way through the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage in Daytona.
Host Matthew Dillner takes you through a very hot Daytona International Speedway NSCS garage in this edition of GarageCam.
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman gives an update on Daytona Rising and the safety changes since Kyle Busch's crash in February at Daytona International Speedway.
Crew chiefs, drivers discuss tire used at Charlotte Motor Speedway NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams continue to wrestle with a 2015 rules package for intermediate tracks, one that was expected to enhance passing but thus far has provided mixed results. It's early, one-third of the way through the 36-race schedule, and teams will no doubt make gains as the season wears on. But it wasn't the rules package that concerned Rodney Childers following Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "I'll say it in the nicest way possible, but they have completely ruined Charlotte Motor Speedway with changing tires," said Childers, crew chief of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet with defending series champion Kevin Harvick . "You just can't race anybody and whoever was in front was just (staying) in front. You ride around 600 miles and can't pass a soul." This year's tire of choice for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte included a right-side tire that featured the multi-zone technology first used two years ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway . The inside two inches was the same compound run at Texas this season while the outer portion was the same used at CMS last year. Goodyear officials held two Charlotte tests, last December and in March of this year, to determine the tire selection. Tires using similar multi-zone technology have also been used at Richmond. Childers said the multi-zone tire has adversely affected the competition at Richmond and Texas as well. "It's so aggravating," he said. Harvick finished ninth Sunday night, the 11th top-10 of the year for the series points leader and winner of two races thus far this season. Carl Edwards ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) won Sunday's race thanks in part to better fuel mileage in his No. 19 Toyota. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who finished third-place, spoke about the multi-zone tires after the All-Star race on his weekly "The Dale Jr. Download" on Dirty Mo Radio. "We've (run) it before at other tracks with sort of mixed results as far as how much we actually like the tire, how good the tire feels how good the tire drives," Earnhardt said. "I don't know … I didn't really like it that much this past race. "(The tire) is just really hard on that inside edge and as you might have seen in the All-Star Race when a lot of us tried to run the top we just were so loose and spinning out and getting into the fence, having a lot of trouble with that. So that tire really took away the top groove , I felt. I couldn't get up there and make much time." In spite of "mixed results at other tracks," Earnhardt said the tire does have at least one thing going for it. "It is safer, so you can't complain about that," he said. While there were nine lead changes in the first 100 laps of the 400-lap race, four came during an early competition caution and a later round of green-flag pit stops. The 22 lead changes for the race were the fewest (in a full 600-mile event) since 2004. "I'm happy for Carl and I'm happy for Darian (Grubb, crew chief)," said Childers. "They did what they needed to do to win the race and that's the end of the story. "More just disappointed in what we've got going on lately. We've got to work together and get the right tires on these things and make them where we can race each other. If you can't race, you're not going to put on a good show. That's just the way it is right now." Grubb said the use of the multi-zone tire gives teams "a little bit more of a margin of durability." "This used to be one of the tracks we'd come to and we'd be really nervous," he said, "especially if the rain came or something (and) the track got green. There's no way you can make a fuel run on the first set or two. You'd end up with cords on the outside and the inside of the tire." The multi-zone tire has made inside wear a non-issue. Grubb said his team saw no signs of distress on his team's tires. "So I think they've got the combination right for durability," he said. "It does give up a little bit of grip versus what the old tire did, but we'll pay that price to have some consistency and durability." Speaking of tires … Teams competing in this weekend's Camping World Truck , XFINITY and Sprint Cup Series races at Dover International Speedway will have a new left-side tire. The code is the same as what was run at Texas ( Sprint Cup and XFINITY ) earlier this year. It was also used at Texas, Chicago, Darlington and Homestead last season. Long race, few penalties For only the fourth time this season, fewer than 20 penalties were handed down during a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race with 19 being doled out in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 . The most common infractions were pitting before pit road was open (six) and excessive speed entering/exiting (four). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See how the rookie meeting has evolved over the years RELATED: Labonte's crash still impacts rookies " Youngest, oldest rookie winners One by one, before the first engine has fired and the first car has hit the track, they gather in the NASCAR hauler parked inside the garage. It's a scene repeated every weekend when NASCAR rolls into town. Their levels of experience often differ quite a bit. There are champions and those with numerous starts in lower series seated alongside those with limited experience and much less success. Yet here everyone is treated the same. And everyone carries the same label -- rookie. • • • "A lot of stuff happens fast here," Richard Buck, NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series managing director, tells the group that's gathered on a cool, damp Friday morning at Martinsville Speedway . Each driver has been given several sheets of paper showing diagrams that include the placement of timing and commitment lines, pit entrance and exit and the proper route to enter and exit pit road from the garage area. It's information that is track-specific. While the basic processes that take place during any given race weekend are relatively the same, there are certain details at each venue that those with limited experience need to know. Proper procedures are explained and advice is doled out. "Use your hand signals so you don't start to slow down and get all jammed up and have somebody's radiator in your backseat," Buck tells the drivers. Each week, a veteran driver will also attend the meetings to offer pointers and answer any questions a rookie driver might have. At Martinsville, 2004 premier series champion Kurt Busch was on hand. "Those of you that have made laps around here before, you know how quick it is," Busch said of the series' shortest venue. "It's an awkward track. There's no other place that really compares to this. So the thing you have to do is to get comfortable with the surroundings." Busch said he would often walk around tracks "even if I've been here before" to reinforce the information given during the meeting. "Have your spotters communicate to you where the holes are when you pull out ... your tires will be ice cold here ... they won't help you do much turning when you get into (Turns) 3 and 4 ... but if you're consciously making an effort to warm up your tires, somebody's going to be right on your bumper and it's going to be chaos," he said. Busch also urged them to take note of the commitment and blend lines at Martinsville. "It's the same Turn 2 line that's painted at Bristol," he said later. "But at Bristol, you have two pit roads (one on the frontstretch and one on the backstretch). It's the same line in the same place and it means two different things." Drivers' left-side tires must touch the blend line near Turn 2 at Martinsville before pulling up onto the track. A similar line at Bristol signifies the pit entrance on the backstretch -- touching any portion of it without proceeding onto pit road will result in a commitment line violation. "Now they'll go to Bristol (in two weeks)," Busch said, "and they need to remember." • • • So what constitutes a rookie in the eyes of NASCAR? In most cases, it's up to the discretion of the series director and is based on the individual's prior experience. Matt DiBenedetto , 23, made his first Sprint Cup Series start this year after running the bulk of the races (29 of 33) in the XFINITY Series last season. Brett Moffitt , 22, made seven Sprint Cup Series starts in 2014. Between 2009 and 2013 he made just one XFINITY Series start and two in the Camping World Truck Series. Both are among those competing for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in Sprint Cup , along with Jeb Burton , Tanner Berryhill and Alex Kennedy . To be eligible for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, a driver must attempt to qualify in at least eight of the first 20 points races. A 10-1 point system, separate from the NASCAR championship driver points format, is used for scoring rookies in each race. The highest finishing rookie receives 10 points, second highest receives nine, etc. Only the top 17 finishes by each driver count toward his or her points total at the end of the year. Bonus points are also awarded for attempts, finishing inside the top 10 and upon the completion of the final race of the season. A panel then grades each rookie on conduct with officials, conduct and awareness on the track, personal appearance and relationship with the media. Points awarded by the panel are then averaged and added to each driver's total, and the driver with the most points is the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award recipient. Jeb Burton is one of five rookies this year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. • • • Of course, it wasn't always that way. In 1959, Darlington Raceway , in conjunction with sponsor Pure Oil (later to become Union 76), debuted the Darlington Record Club. Members were those that had qualified highest for each auto manufacturer during time trials for the annual Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway . Special recognition went to those that established track records there as well. While NASCAR had been selecting a rookie of the year for nearly a decade -- Rocky Mount, North Carolina's Blackie Pitt was the first recipient in 1954 –- the Union 76/Darlington Record Club was eventually tasked with monitoring the progress of rookie drivers on the uniquely shaped, treacherous 1.366-mile track. What began as an effort between driver Glenn "Fireball" Roberts and NASCAR official John Bruner Sr., to observe new drivers eventually evolved into a panel of Record Club members whose job was to either pass or fail those drivers attempt to make their Southern 500 debuts. (It's worth noting that the club also played a crucial role in requiring all drivers to complete a physical examination before being allowed to compete at Darlington. Today, a physical examination is mandatory for all three national series prior to the start of each season.) Before the Record Club came into existence, "you just went down there and run," said NASCAR Hall of Fame member Richard Petty, a seven-time NASCAR premier series champion and winner of the 1967 Southern 500. "(The Record Club) was good public relations. It gave those (rookies) something they had to do. Indianapolis (home of the Indianapolis 500) always had a rookie test you had to pass before you could go out and run. Well, we said if they can do it, we can do it, too. "Back then, (Darlington) was a one- groove track through (Turns) 3 and 4, which is now 1-2. We'd explain what you had to do to pass people or let people pass you. Then you just said, 'OK, now go out and run.' " To pass the test, drivers new to the series were required to run within a percentage of a pre-determined speed. "If we were running 130 mph," Petty said, "they would have to run 125 or something like that. Then they'd go out and run six or eight laps on the track by themselves." "It was a little easier to show up at Daytona with a car even though you may not have that much experience and get in the race," three-time series champion and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Darrell Waltrip said. "But they really observed you. If you were somebody new that they didn't know and you showed up at the track, they'd have some drivers that would kind of see how you did, see if you could handle the track and the speed and all that. There was always somebody watching you, but Darlington was the only official test we took." The panel would make its recommendations to NASCAR, but it was up to Bruner, a former flagman who eventually became Chief Steward for the sanctioning body, to make the final call. Richard Petty, who won the Southern 500 in 1967, used to show rookies the ropes at the iconic track. • • • In 1976, the Record Club's competition panel began overseeing the rookie program. Nearly a decade later, one of racing's greatest figures found himself labeled a rookie, and was required to go through the orientation process. Far from being a rookie, Anthony Joseph Foyt, better known simply as A.J., already had seven NASCAR premier series wins to his credit including a victory in the 1972 Daytona 500 . But Foyt, a four-time winner of the Indy 500 as well, had never raced at Darlington. "I am going to Darlington as a bonafide rookie. I don't want anything waived," Foyt told the press prior to his debut. "Why should I be different than anybody else? I know a lot of guys would have too much pride and ego to take the rookie test, but I'm not that type of person." NASCAR driver Ricky Rudd was the president of the Record Club at that time. Among the members of the competition panel were fellow drivers Waltrip and Buddy Baker. "Buddy and I and I forget who else, we observed A.J. Foyt and we flunked him his first day," Waltrip said. "Well, we told him we flunked him. "I told Buddy, I said 'Go down there and tell A.J. that we're going to have to have a meeting about his test because I'm not sure he passed.' Buddy looked at me and said 'Do you think I'm crazy? You go down there and tell him.' " Foyt passed the test, eventually finishing 25th in his only Southern 500 start. • • • Ken Schrader , a four-time race winner in NASCAR's premier series, was in that same rookie class with Foyt in 1985. Schrader posted three top-10 finishes that year en route to winning the Rookie of the Year title, beating out Eddie Bierschwale and Don Hume. Twice he served as president of the Record Club. "Yeah, I got elected president one time, then got elected president another time because at the banquet in Darlington I sat in the back and drank with the wrong group," the fun-loving Schrader said. "I was sitting with, I think, Phil Holmer and T. Wayne (Robertson) and some Unocal folks." Holmer was a Goodyear representative while Robertson headed up series sponsor R.J. Reynolds sports marketing arm. "They threw my ass right in," Schrader said of his election. "My acceptance speed, I stood up and said 'This is (expletive)!' "But the rookie meetings were neat. We'd just go in there, talk about the do's and don'ts for the tracks. Some of it was repetitious obviously but then there was so much about each individual track and it was the first time that some of those guys went to those tracks. Because back then not everybody then came through the Truck or ( XFINITY ) Series. "Now, hell, you're a rookie at a race, you've been to how many places (already)? You've probably raced there in some other series. "So it's a little different now." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
18-year-old comes just .005 seconds short of catching Kahne
Two-time 2015 race winner: 'I feel like we're competitive every week' CONCORD, N.C. – Kevin Harvick didn't win Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway , and the Stewart-Haas Racing driver wasn't leading at the end of any segment. But that doesn't mean the defending Sprint Cup Series champion doesn't like his chances heading into next weekend's Coca-Cola 600 (May 24, 6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM) at Charlotte. Given his ability to thread his way through traffic throughout the 110-lap non-points event, it’s no wonder. Harvick, already twice a winner this season and once again the series points leader, finished second in Saturday's race, his No. 4 Chevrolet able to work its way around everyone save for the Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin . "I kind of put us in a hole in qualifying," Harvick said. "We were able to get through traffic; they made some really good changes throughout the night to get the car where it really needed to be. "I was able to move around the race track and find a groove that worked for me." Harvick started at the back of the 20-car field, but wasted no time advancing. He was inside the top 10 by the end of the first segment and challenging for the lead by the end of the second. Solid work by the team, led by crew chief Rodney Childers, allowed Harvick to maintain his position on pit road and unlike a few other key players, the team ended the night penalty-free. "I feel like we're competitive every week," he said. "Tonight … we were able to make it up into the top 10. Then they made some great adjustments on the car and we were able to drive through the top five cars and pass them. "That's an accomplishment … where we're at with the cars, how you have to race them, the things that are happening. If you can pass, that's a huge advantage, something I feel like they did a really good job with our car in making it drivable." Harvick is a two-time winner of the 600 (2011, '13), the series’ longest event, and won the fall race, the Bank of America 500 , last year as well. Six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson ( Hendrick Motorsports ) has won three of the four points races held on intermediate (1.5-mile) tracks this year. Harvick has finished second to Johnson in all three – and he won the fourth, at Las Vegas. The team's 1.5-mile program obviously remains as strong as it was a year ago, if not better. Passing was at a premium during the All-Star event, but Harvick managed to do his share. "You got to have your car right," he said. "The restarts are really tough because everybody's got so much throttle, you're so close to sliding the nose. "If you move up too far, the back will come out from underneath you because everybody's got so much throttle on the car, so it makes it tough to pass until you get to 10, 12 laps into the run." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get an inside look at the innovations NASCAR has implemented to improve racing on the track and for fans viewing at home.