Hemric looks to overcome early Chase setback
RELATED: Truck Chase Grid Daniel Hemric clinched his spot in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase playoffs with remarkable consistency and a sizable nest egg of points . Now facing a significant deficit after a perilous postseason opener, stockpiling points may not be enough to keep his championship hopes intact. Hemric enters Saturday night's DC Solar 350 (8:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a much firmer focus on scoring his first victory of the season. "At the end of the day, this deal rewards winning," Hemric said last weekend after finishing a season-worst 28th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . "Yeah, we did it the other way to get here, but I don't know if with the day we had here, we'll be able to salvage it on just points . We've got to go win." The 25-year-old driver for Brad Keselowski Racing spun early in last Saturday's Chase opener, saying he believed he ran over a piece of debris that punctured his left-rear tire. The spent rubber became entangled in the brake assembly, triggering a small flash fire on pit road and eventually forcing his No. 19 Ford behind the wall for extended repairs. The deficit Hemric faces is even more daunting based on the fact that his fellow Chase competitors enjoyed relatively trouble-free days at New Hampshire. Aside from Hemric, the remaining seven Chasers all finished in the top 11. Two races -- this weekend at Vegas and Oct. 22 at Talladega Superspeedway -- remain before two of the eight drivers are eliminated from the playoff picture. Just 27 points separate New Hampshire winner and points leader William Byron and seventh-place Ben Kennedy , but Hemric sits another 20 points behind Kennedy and 21 points behind sixth-place Johnny Sauter . Hemric's regular-season run of reliability -- with top-fives in half of the 16 races -- had earned him a share of the top spot with Byron in the series standings before the points were reset for the postseason. The task of escaping the Chase's bottom two on the basis of points isn't mathematically impossible, but Hemric would rather convert an automatic transfer with a win. "I believe we can," said Hemric, who has come close with seven finishes in the top three this season. "Especially our mile and a half program's been really solid and we've shown that time and time again. That's it. We know what we have to do." While Hemric knows he has two opportunities to regain lost ground, there may extra urgency to find momentum at Las Vegas this weekend rather than roll the dice in the opening round's elimination race at Talladega, where large crashes and wild-card winners are much more probable. "That's the thought," Hemric said. "Nobody wants to go to Talladega knowing they've got to win when everybody has that mentality. The past has shown what happens. Now with the new format, we feel a lot more confident we can just go do our jobs at Vegas and not have to worry about it."
Penalties hamper Nemechek, NEMCO team in Chase
NASCAR issued penalties Thursday to the No. 8 NEMCO Motorsports team and Camping World Truck Series driver John Hunter Nemechek for P2 infractions found last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Nemechek's No. 8 Chevrolet failed to meet the minimum ride height during an inspection after last Saturday's UNOH 175 , the opening race of the Camping World Truck Series Chase playoffs. Competition officials docked the team 10 championship points in both the owners' and drivers' standings . The penalty dropped Nemechek, who rallied from an early spin to finish ninth last weekend, from fourth to seventh on the Chase Grid with two races remaining before cuts are made to the championship-eligible field. NASCAR officials also fined crew chief Gere Kennon $6,000 and NASCAR probation for the crew chief continues through Dec. 31, 2016. It's the second such violation this season for the NEMCO team, which also failed the ride-height minimum at Iowa Speedway in June for a P2-grade infraction. NASCAR abandoned ride-height rules for its Sprint Cup Series ahead of the 2014 season. Those restrictions remain in effect for its other two national series. This week's penalty report for the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series was marked by written warnings and lesser violations. From the Sprint Cup Series race weekend in New Hampshire, the following teams were cited: -- The No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing team of driver Regan Smith received written warnings for failing pre-race LIS twice and pre-qualifying LIS twice. -- The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team of driver Kevin Harvick , No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team of driver Kasey Kahne , No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing team of driver Greg Biffle and No. 83 BK Racing team of driver Matt DiBenedetto all received written warnings for failing pre-qualifying LIS twice. -- The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team for driver Denny Hamlin received a written warning for failing pre-qualifying template inspection twice. The pre-qualifying LIS failures of Nos. 4, 5, 7 and 16 teams were each their third infractions, meaning the next such infraction will see those teams penalized with the last selection of a pit stall on the weekend that violation occurs. Of those cars, only the 4 of Harvick is in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Warnings from the XFINITY Series' event at Kentucky Speedway : -- The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team and No. 51 Jeremy Clements Racing team of driver Jeremy Clements received written warnings for failing pre-race LIS twice. Warnings from the Camping World Truck Series' event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway : -- The No. 50 MAKE Motorsports team of driver Travis Kvapil received a written warning for failing pre-race template inspection four times and also a loss of 15 minutes of practice time this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway .
Phone call changes Jimmie Johnson's Chase outlook
RELATED: See the Chase Grid LOUDON, N.H. -- Jimmie Johnson felt certain he'd be facing a much larger deficit in the second event of the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. A points penalty for his Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet failing its post-race pass through the Laser Inspection Station (LIS) platform last week likely would have dropped him into the bottom four of the 16-driver postseason field. But Johnson said he received a phone call Wednesday afternoon on his way back from his race shop that altered his outlook. NASCAR competition officials had just implemented a midweek update regarding minor LIS infractions, offering a reprieve for both himself and the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 team of last weekend's race winner, Martin Truex Jr . "I was just taking my lumps and going on with my business and then kind of Christmas showed up in September," Johnson said Friday after qualifying fourth for Sunday's Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . "Just unexpected, but happy." NASCAR's competition department announced Wednesday that P2 and P3-level penalties would be eliminated for lesser LIS violations found in post-race inspections, leaving the stricter P4-grade punishments in place for more egregious infractions. Truex, who automatically advanced to the Chase's next round with his victory at Chicagoland Speedway , and Johnson were not penalized in the points standings . Johnson said he was pleasantly surprised, though he knew his car was slightly outside of the allowable measurements for its rear axle offset, or "skew." "I really feel NASCAR was trying to create a penalty system that was more forgiving," Johnson said. "Stuff bends, stuff moves, and they set those tolerances up to really help the garage area and then to keep cars failing out of the headlines. But it's tough. There's a lot of moving parts in these cars and of course we're trying to get as much skew as we can and we failed. "I'm sure directionally, it was an advantage. Everybody will take every hundredth of an inch they can get. I think we were four thousandths over. I don't know how much of an advantage you can get in four thousandths. That's awfully, awfully small, but we're in a world now where it's black or white." The non-penalty kept Johnson in the heart of the Chase's opening round, slotted eighth with a 13-point spread behind series leader Truex. Four drivers will be eliminated from championship eligibility after next weekend's race at Dover International Speedway , where Johnson has won a record 10 times. Johnson's current ranking could be worse had the penalty taken effect, but it could have been better as well. Johnson was solidly on the verge of a top-five finish last week at Chicagoland, but a pit-road speeding penalty on his penultimate stop bumped him outside the top 10. Johnson said he began to accelerate just 2 feet too early at the pit-exit line, sending him over the speed limit for the final timing section and offsetting the performance strides the No. 48 team had made in recent weeks. "We've definitely been showing speed over the last month and a half," Johnson said. "That's been something that's very welcomed and it's been a lot of hard work to get to that point. Unfortunately, mistakes still are continuing to happen and last week was on me." RELATED: Hear Johnson's reaction on the scanner
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Owner Standings
After Race 28 of the 2016 season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Pos Owner Car # Points Ldr Nxt PPos G/L Wins Attempts 1 Team Penske 2 2,087 0 0 2 1 4 28 2 Furniture Row Racing 78 2,086 -1 -1 1 -1 3 28 3 Joe Gibbs Racing 18 2,085 -2 -1 3 0 4 28 4 Joe Gibbs Racing 20 2,078 -9 -7 7 3 2 28 5 Team Penske 22 2,073 -14 -5 5 0 1 28 6 Stewart-Haas Racing 4 2,071 -16 -2 14 8 3 28 7 Joe Gibbs Racing 11 2,071 -16 0 4 -3 3 28 8 Hendrick Motorsports 48 2,070 -17 -1 8 0 2 28 9 Hendrick Motorsports 24 2,068 -19 -2 6 -3 0 28 10 Joe Gibbs Racing 19 2,068 -19 0 9 -1 2 28 11 Stewart-Haas Racing 41 2,067 -20 -1 10 -1 1 28 12 Chip Ganassi Racing 42 2,057 -30 -10 15 3 1 28 13 Chip Ganassi Racing 1 2,052 -35 -5 11 -2 0 28 14 Richard Childress Racing 3 2,052 -35 0 13 -1 0 28 15 Stewart-Haas Racing 14 2,046 -41 -6 12 -3 1 28 16 Front Row Motorsports 34 2,027 -60 -19 16 0 1 28 17 Hendrick Motorsports 5 699 -1,388 -1,328 18 1 0 28 18 Hendrick Motorsports 88 697 -1,390 -2 17 -1 0 28 19 Richard Childress Racing 31 676 -1,411 -21 19 0 0 28 20 Wood Brothers Racing 21 642 -1,445 -34 20 0 0 28 21 JTG Daugherty Racing 47 627 -1,460 -15 21 0 0 28 22 Roush Fenway Racing 17 607 -1,480 -20 23 1 0 28 23 Roush Fenway Racing 6 607 -1,480 0 22 -1 0 28 24 Stewart-Haas Racing 10 534 -1,553 -73 25 1 0 28 25 Roush Fenway Racing 16 518 -1,569 -16 24 -1 0 28 26 Richard Childress Racing 27 516 -1,571 -2 26 0 0 28 27 Richard Petty Motorsports 43 488 -1,599 -28 28 1 0 28 28 HScott Motorsports 15 484 -1,603 -4 27 -1 0 28 29 Germain Racing 13 451 -1,636 -33 29 0 0 28 30 Circle Sport-Leavine Family 95 416 -1,671 -35 30 0 0 28 31 Front Row Motorsports 38 397 -1,690 -19 31 0 0 28 32 BK Racing 23 369 -1,718 -28 32 0 0 28 33 Tommy Baldwin Racing 7 364 -1,723 -5 33 0 0 28 34 Richard Petty Motorsports 44 332 -1,755 -32 34 0 0 28 35 BK Racing 83 309 -1,778 -23 35 0 0 28 36 Premium Motorsports 98 256 -1,831 -53 36 0 0 28 37 HScott Motorsports 46 243 -1,844 -13 37 0 0 28 38 GO FAS Racing 32 222 -1,865 -21 38 0 0 28 39 Premium Motorsports 55 182 -1,905 -40 39 0 0 23 40 The Motorsports Group 30 151 -1,936 -31 40 0 0 28 41 Front Row Motorsports 35 46 -2,041 -105 41 0 0 3 42 Circle Sport - Leavine Family 59 26 -2,061 -20 42 0 0 1 43 BK Racing 93 15 -2,072 -11 43 0 0 5 44 BK Racing 26 3 -2,084 -12 44 0 0 1 45 Hillman Racing 40 0 -2,087 -3 45 0 0 1
Stewart not interested in playing numbers game
RELATED: Updated Chase Grid " Who's on the bubble? " Series standings CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Crunch the numbers. Do the math. But don't bother telling Tony Stewart the potential scenarios required for him to advance to the Round of 12 in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . You'd be wasting your time and his time, too. The only scenario Stewart, 45 and three times a Sprint Cup Series champion, cares about is the one that ends with him and his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team celebrating in Victory Lane this weekend at Dover International Speedway . "All we can do is go out and do the best we can this weekend," Stewart said Wednesday during a daylong media stop in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. "It still amazes me how people can take something that's so simple and make it so complicated. 'Will we be watching where everybody else is?' "Well yeah, I can waste my time and do that but … I've got to focus on winning the race. Because if I win the race I don't have to worry about where they're at. But if I go and do everything I can to try and win the race and I finish second, then wherever they are is wherever they are. I can't control those guys on the race track so why focus your attention on it? It's a waste of time." The 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is the final one for Stewart. He'll remain involved in the series as co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing , which fields four Sprint Cup teams and one that will debut a NASCAR XFINITY Series entry next year. He's a track owner, team owner and competitor in other series -- some NASCAR-affiliated, some not -- as well. But his quest for a fourth title rests solely on the outcome of Sunday's Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). A 16-driver field that began the Chase two weeks ago will be trimmed to 12 after Dover, and Stewart will arrive Friday 15th on the Chase Grid. His approach to what could be his final race as a title contender will be no different than any other weekend. "There is no mindset to it," he said. "The most realistic mindset to go into it with is the same approach you go into it with every weekend of the year and that's to go try to win the race. If you don't, get the best finish you can get out of it. That's not glamorous and that's not what you want to hear … but it's literally that simple. Go try to win the race. Do everything you can to win the race. If you can't win the race, try to finish second. If you can't finish second, try to finish third. It is as simple as it can possibly get." That Stewart is in this predicament is something of a surprise, given the strong summer run that saw him collect six top-10 finishes, including a win at Sonoma , in eight races. The No. 14 team, headed up by crew chief Mike Bugarewicz, seemed primed for a possible run at yet another title. RELATED: See all of Stewart's victories But the results of the most recent six races weren't nearly as impressive, with no finish higher than 16th. "These things are such science projects," Stewart said of today's cars, "and pretty much the whole (SHR) organization fights the same thing. It's whichever one can find the solution first." Teammate Kevin Harvick has guaranteed himself a spot in the Round of 12 with a win this past weekend at New Hampshire and Kurt Busch can advance either by points , depending on his finish, or with a victory. Teammate Danica Patrick is the only SHR entry not in the Chase field. RELATED: Harvick surges late for Loudon win "We're going to have to rely on Kevin and Rodney (Childers, crew chief), Kurt and (Tony) Gibson (crew chief) for sure and do the best we can," Stewart said. "We weren't totally terrible at the spring race but definitely have to be better than we were to get done what we need to get done." Scenarios? Talk to Stewart at Homestead, if he happens to be one of the championship four. That's when he'll be more aware of such things. "When you get to the last race of the year and you're racing for a championship and you've got enough of a lead that no matter what, if you finish from here on up, then yeah, you think about that," he said. "But that’s not the scenario we're in." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Inside look: How non-Chase clinchers fare at Richmond
RELATED: Penalty hurts Newman " Updated Chase Grid It's here. After weeks (months?) of scenarios, forecasting and projections, Richmond is here. The Federated Auto Parts 400 takes place at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and exactly four Chase spots are up for grabs. One ( Chris Buescher ) has a win, but must finish in the top 30 of the points standings . Three others ( Chase Elliott , Austin Dillon , Jamie McMurray ) are currently in the postseason field based on points . While Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne can technically make up the points gap and sneak into the postseason, the clearest path is to win. For everyone in the Chase standings below Kahne, it's win-or-bust -- no one else has even the possibility of qualifying for the postseason on points , if Buescher keeps his position in the top 30. RELATED: Chase-clinching scenarios for Richmond Here's a guide to how the bubble drivers, and those outside the bubble, perform at Richmond. Note: The standings below are the Chase Grid standings , not the driver points standings .
Chase Bubble Watch: Analyzing the playoff picture ahead of Dover
RELATED: Full race results " Updated Chase Grid SHOP: Chase gear Two races into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and several drivers are in jeopardy of not advancing past the Round of 16, which ends next Sunday at Dover International Speedway (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Let's find out which drivers are resting comfortably following Sunday's Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Who's hot: Kevin Harvick . Harvick came into Loudon one point shy of advancement after a dismal showing (20th) in the Chase opener in Chicago. The 2014 champion and the man nicknamed "The Closer" came on strong on the final restart to take the lead on Lap 295 and nab a win and a locked-in spot in the Round of 12. The victory, in which he only led eight laps, has to erase a little bit of the bitter taste from last fall's race at New Hampshire, where Harvick led 216 laps but ran out of fuel with two to go. Matt Kenseth . Kenseth came into this race with two straight wins at the "Magic Mile" and looked to be closing in on his third-straight win before Harvick surged on a late restart. The 2003 champion led 105 laps en route to a runner-up finish and moved up to fourth in the standings , 25 points to the good of transferring into the next round. Kyle Larson . A top-10 finish at Loudon moved Larson from 15th in the standings (two points back of the last transfer spot) to 12th and five points to the good. It was an up-and-down weekend for the third-year driver, who didn't show the same speed in the race he had shown in practice. Still, he is on the right side of the bubble heading to Dover, where the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver has an average finish of 6.2 and led 85 laps in the spring en route to a runner-up finish. Who's not: Tony Stewart : The three-time champion was stuck a lap down for much of the second half of the race and finished 23rd, the second-lowest finish among the Chase field. The result had to be disappointing for "Smoke" after a runner-up showing at New Hampshire in July. Following a summer surge thanks to his Sonoma win, Stewart has not notched a top-10 finish in six races and is on the wrong side of the Chase cut line heading to Dover. Austin Dillon . The weekend started rough when a wreck in the latter stages of the opening practice forced the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 team to pull out a backup car. Dillon's 16th-place finish was aided by a few late cautions to get him back on the lead lap, but he is still five points behind the cutoff line. On top of that, his overall numbers at Dover (see below) have the Chase rookie in a very tough spot to advance. Four in, four out: Here's a look at the Chase bubble, with four drivers being eliminated after the third race of this round, at Dover International Speedway .
Watkins Glen mayhem tightens XFINITY Chase standings
Related: Zippo 200 at The Glen Results " Updated Chase Grid WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Early misfortunes, including a major multi-car wreck, had an unsettling effect on the Chase chances for several NASCAR XFINITY Series playoff hopefuls Saturday at Watkins Glen International . Darrell Wallace Jr . and Blake Koch were among the hardest hit in a 10-car stack-up on the 18th of 82 laps in the Zippo 200, a pileup that forced a red flag of nearly 14 minutes. Wallace's Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 Ford sustained heavy front-end damage and spent plenty of time in the garage for repairs, extending his streak to four straight races without a top-10 finish. He wound up 29th in the final rundown, 19 laps off the pace. Wallace started and ended the day ninth on the provisional Chase grid, but slipped to just a 16-point edge over 10th-place Ryan Reed -- the wrong direction for momentum ahead of the playoffs. "All I see is we have bad luck and it is getting old, my friend," Wallace told NBCSN. "It is unfortunate for my team. We come here and I messed up on the first lap in the first practice we had, and then we were sitting pretty for the rest of the weekend. It is just getting old. We will go on to Mid-Ohio and try to have some luck there." Koch's Kaulig Racing No. 11 Chevrolet was done for the day with damage all around. Koch, who was clinging to the final spot on the provisional Chase grid after last weekend's event at Iowa Speedway , failed to finish for the second time in the last four races. "Just points . That's the only thing going through my mind from the first impact, all I thought was points ," Koch said. "It's not good, but I made a mistake early on and lost a bunch of spots and got us back there and that kind of started it. I've just got to be a little bit smarter at these road courses, but man, I hate it for everybody." Koch was evaluated and released from the infield care center, but had his right hand bandaged -- a byproduct, he said, of blisters from all of the shifting in Thursday's extended XFINITY practice on Watkins Glen's new pavement. "You know what, I need to have manlier hands," Koch said with a laugh. "That's the issue." Jeremy Clements was another driver with plenty to gain from the multicar wreck, entering the day tied for the top spot among drivers outside the provisional Chase grid. But Clements' No. 51 Chevrolet had its own pitfalls, limping to the garage with a broken track bar on Lap 9 and returning for a 25th-place finish. He dropped from 13th to 15th in the series standings . Ross Chastain took sole possession of 13th place in the XFINITY standings with a 14th-place outing Saturday at The Glen. He closed from 24 points back to just a two-point gap behind Koch in the final cut-off spot. The XFINITY Series sticks to road racing next week for Saturday's Mid-Ohio Challenge (3:30 p.m. ET, USA, MRN, SiriusXM) at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course .
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Owner Standings
After Race 17 of the 2016 season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Hemric, Crafton move up in standings after last-lap chaos
RELATED: Race results " Updated standings KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- It was a night that an 18-year-old scored his first career in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series. A two-time champion went from first to 10th to second. And the first- and second-place trucks on the final lap wrecked before they got to the finish line. In other words, Friday night's Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway was your typical Truck Series race. "It got pretty exciting there; obviously all you hope for at the end of a deal like this, especially with all the cautions we had in the race, was to have an opportunity," said third-place finisher Daniel Hemric ( Brad Keselowski Racing). William Byron seized the opportunity, picking up the win for Kyle Busch Motorsports after getting nearly overwhelmed on a green, white, checkered restart. But contact between Johnny Sauter (GMS Racing) and Ben Rhodes (ThorSport Racing) while battling for the lead shot their chances and opened the door for Byron. RELATED: Rhodes makes contact with Sauter "It was very interesting," runnerup Matt Crafton (ThorSport), the two-time series champ said, pausing to watch a replay of the final lap play out and the leaders spin. "Wow. He smoked her down in there, didn't he? "I shoved it three wide in the middle and I'm like 'Yeah, this probably isn't the way to go.' I lifted just a little bit, got it back to the bottom and got a decent run. The bottom had been terrible all night and I got a decent run, everybody got loose and checked up … it worked out for me." MORE: Relive the day in photos Hemric and Crafton each improved five positions in the points standings -- Hemric vaulted from seventh to fifth and Crafton returned to the top-10 after sitting on the outside following the season's second and third races. He now sits sixth as the series prepares for to head to Dover International Speedway next week. It will be the first back-to-back race weekends for the series this season. Crafton led 57 laps, tops in a 170-lap race that was slowed by 11 cautions. The leader on a restart on Lap 135, Crafton quickly fell back through the field after contact with the second-place truck of Timothy Peters (Red Horse Racing). Gathering it back in after falling to 10th, he slowly began working his way back toward the front. "I was like, 'OK, we'll probably be all right, probably drive back by here in a minute'" Crafton said of the initial setback. But advancing through the field proved to be a handful and the final restart saw his No. 88 Toyota seventh in the running order. And then? "That last restart was just chaos," he said.