Chase-clinching scenarios at Pocono and Iowa
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup doesn't begin until September, but several drivers could officially clinch a spot in the postseason field this weekend at Pocono Raceway. So far, the five drivers who have clinched Chase berths are Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. Below are Chase-clinching scenarios for this weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono: Possible to Clinch: Kevin Harvick (1 win, 671 points , +434 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. Kurt Busch (1 wins, 627 points , +390 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. Joey Logano (1 Win, 606 points , +369 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. Martin Truex Jr (1 win, 573 points , +336 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. Denny Hamlin (1 win, 542 points , +305 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. All of the above drivers have already clinched a position in the top 30 in the drivers points standings , but need to clear the multiple wins hurdle. It's possible that no drivers will clinch a Chase berth this weekend if a driver wins his first race of the season or an already-clinched driver wins. XFINITY Series The XFINITY Series Chase doesn't begin until September as well, but several drivers are looking to close their playoff position up with a win. At present, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and Elliott Sadler are locked into the postseason. Below are the Chase-clinching scenarios for XFINITY drivers at Iowa this weekend. Possible to clinch: Ty Dillon (0 Wins, 558 Points , +460 Points Ahead of 31st) – Can clinch with a win. Justin Allgaier (0 Wins, 542 Points , +444 Points Ahead of 31st) – Can clinch with a win. Brendan Gaughan (0 Wins, 535 Points , +437 Points Ahead of 31st) – Can clinch with a win. Brandon Jones (0 Wins, 520 Points , +422 Points Ahead of 31st) – Can clinch with a win. Brennan Poole (0 Wins, 519 Points , +421 Points Ahead of 31st) – Can clinch with a win. Darrell Wallace Jr. (0 Wins, 486 Points , +388 Points Ahead of 31st) – Can clinch with a win. Ryan Reed (0 Wins, 433 Points , +335 Points Ahead of 31st) – Can clinch with a win. Ryan Sieg (0 Wins, 420 Points , +322 Points Ahead of 31st) – Can clinch with a win. Blake Koch (0 Wins, 403 Points , +305 Points Ahead of 31st) – Can clinch with a win. Camping World Truck Series The Camping World Truck Series Chase doesn't begin until September, but several drivers are looking to firm up their playoff position up with a win. At present, only William Byron and Matt Crafton are locked into the postseason. Below are the Chase-clinching scenarios for Camping World Truck Series drivers at Pocono this weekend. Possible to clinch: Johnny Sauter (1 Win, 253 Points , +207 Points Ahead of 31st) – He has clinched a Top 30, but needs to join the multiple winners club in order to clinch a Chase berth, so he only clinches with a win. Christopher Bell (1 Win, 245 Points , +199 Points Ahead of 31st) – He has clinched a Top 30, but needs to join the multiple winners club in order to clinch a Chase berth, so he only clinches with a win. John Hunter Nemechek (1 Win, 232 Points , +186 Points Ahead of 31st) – He has clinched a Top 30, but needs to join the multiple winners club in order to clinch a Chase berth, so he only clinches with a win.
Ryan Newman plans to stick with RCR in 2017
LONG POND, Pa. -- Richard Childress Racing is expected to announce its 2017 Sprint Cup Series driver lineup in the coming weeks. Ryan Newman, in his third season as driver of the No. 31 RCR Chevrolet, isn't quite sure if he'll be a part of it. "We haven't talked about it in-depth yet, but we have talked about it," Newman, 13th in points , said Thursday at Kalahari Resort in Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania. "Hopefully, we'll get to sit down and talk about it soon." Newman has been arguably the organization's most successful driver during his tenure with the longtime Sprint Cup Series stable, coming within a straightaway of his first championship in 2014 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His numbers are down slightly from the past two seasons (just one top-five finish and seven finishes in the top 10), but his team, winless since he started driving the No. 31 Chevrolet, employs a consistent points -racing strategy that focuses on solid finishes rather than gambling for a victory. It worked wonders in '14, and with 12 finishes inside the top 15 this season and several more on the cusp, appears to be working in 2016. He sits 13th in the drivers points standings coming into Pocono. That doesn't mean, however, that NASCAR's "Rocket Man" isn't looking to launch himself into Victory Lane. "We're kind of getting back into that zone of having better finishes, better runs," Newman said. "We had a great run going last week (at Indianapolis) and crashed out with seven laps to go or whatever. So we feel like we've turned the momentum back in our favor but in the end we still have to deliver that victory." While Newman offers consistent, above-average production week in and week out, RCR may be faced with a tough decision as Childress' grandson, Ty Dillon, appears ready for a full-time Sprint Cup Series ride with no clear path to a spot for him. RELATED: Dillon talks 2017 plans, aims to make move up Still, the team owner told NASCAR.com earlier this year at Michigan International Speedway that he's planning on having the '16 XFINITY Series title hopeful in a Sprint Cup car full-time in 2017, while the exact organization and ride has yet to be finalized. Dillon has made five starts in the No. 95 Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet this season with a best finish of 20th (Texas). It's possible Dillon could slide over to that ride full-time, but it would leave veteran Michael McDowell without a seat. Dillon also ran three Sprint Cup Series races filling in for injured Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, getting his season-best finish of 15th at Phoenix. His relief duty in the Talladega race was not credited as an official start for Dillon since Stewart began the race behind the wheel. In a report by NBC Sports' Dustin Long earlier this month, Childress said, "Right now, it's just a lot of things are hanging. We're trying to put together what's going to be the best for everybody, not just for RCR, but for the drivers and the sponsors; we're trying to put together good programs." Right now, Newman doesn't appear to be getting his ducks in order just yet on the off chance he finds himself ousted from his ride in favor of the younger Dillon. "I plan on (coming back)," he said. "If they'll have me back, I'll be there."
Jeff Gordon set for longer sub stint in No. 88, if needed
RELATED: Weekend schedule for Pocono, Iowa LONG POND, Pa. -- Jeff Gordon maintains that he is looking at his stint in the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports "as a very temporary thing," but adds he's willing to remain in the role "as long as they need me." "I say that very loosely," Gordon quickly added Friday at Pocono Raceway, site of Sunday's Pennsylvania 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, where he will line up 24th on the grid (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. is said to be making progress in his recovery from concussion-like symptoms that sidelined him following the July 9 race at Kentucky Speedway. Alex Bowman drove for the team the following weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway before Gordon took over last weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "It was great last Friday to see him say 'hey I feel good today and made some progress,'" Gordon said of Earnhardt. "We want to just keep going with how he is feeling. The doctors are evaluating. I'm not speculating anything at this time. "I wouldn't be here in Pocono if I wasn't committed to be there for Hendrick Motorsports and this team in any way that they need me. I think there is a balance between trying to make this transition. First of all you want Dale to have the comfort of knowing that somebody is there for him. He doesn't have to worry about that aspect of it through this process. "… Then there is the side of who is the best person to be in the car to get the most points . And then there is the sponsorship side of it as well. So far from what Rick (Hendrick, team owner) is telling me that seems to be me. That is why I was at Indy and that is why I'm here." The series travels to Watkins Glen International next weekend, with an off-weekend before heading to Bristol, Tennessee. HMS officials have not indicated who would be in the car if Earnhardt Jr. is unable to return for next week’s event. Gordon, a four-time series champion who moved from the driver’s seat to the television booth after the 2015 season, finished 13th at Indy; Bowman was 26th at New Hampshire. There have been "a couple" of conversations between Gordon and Earnhardt Jr., Gordon said, noting that his former teammate "likes to FaceTime." "It seems like he is always on the treadmill every time I see him or talk to him," Gordon said. "He is just real interested in what we are up to and how it's going and things we are working on. I think also a lot of it is … evaluating where they are at as a team and some of the set-ups and whether I'm going to be making the same comments as he was making when he was in the car. "So far, I feel like it's been very similar. Definitely, any amount of information that I can get to help me prepare for every time I'm on the track is great information. I'm asking everybody questions just trying to get up to speed everywhere we go including Dale." RELATED: Latest updates on Dale Jr. Prior to competing at Indy, Gordon was able to reacquaint himself with the track through simulation programs; he also pulled information from teammate Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team, which tested at the 2.5-mile track the previous week. That hasn't been the case this week. "Get fitted in the car, debrief with the team from Indianapolis and then preparation for Pocono," he said. "Didn't have test video from some of our teammates for here like we did last week at Indianapolis and I didn't have time to get in the driving simulator either. "The first few laps today were definitely again a steep learning curve. This is a very challenging race track so it's going to be a tough, challenging weekend, but I do like this track and (there is) a little bit to learn with this new package." Earnhardt's absence has resulted in a fall from 13th to 17th in the points standings . He will need to either a race win or be 15th or higher (based on the current list of winners and their respectively point standing) in points to potentially earn a position in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He would also need a waiver from NASCAR, something that would not be determined until he has officially been cleared to return to competition. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Owner Standings
After Race 20 of the 2016 season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Pos Owner Car # Points Ldr Nxt PPos G/L Attempts 1 Stewart-Haas Racing 4 671 0 -- 1 0 20 2 Team Penske 2 647 -24 -24 2 0 20 3 Stewart-Haas Racing 41 627 -44 -20 3 0 20 4 Team Penske 22 606 -65 -21 5 1 20 5 Joe Gibbs Racing 18 601 -70 -5 6 1 20 6 Joe Gibbs Racing 19 593 -78 -8 4 -2 20 7 Furniture Row Racing 78 573 -98 -20 7 0 20 8 Hendrick Motorsports 48 552 -119 -21 8 0 20 9 Joe Gibbs Racing 20 545 -126 -7 9 0 20 10 Joe Gibbs Racing 11 542 -129 -3 10 0 20 11 Hendrick Motorsports 24 525 -146 -17 11 0 20 12 Richard Childress Racing 3 520 -151 -5 13 1 20 13 Richard Childress Racing 31 507 -164 -13 12 -1 20 14 Hendrick Motorsports 88 504 -167 -3 14 0 20 15 Chip Ganassi Racing 1 496 -175 -8 15 0 20 16 Chip Ganassi Racing 42 472 -199 -24 20 4 20 17 Stewart-Haas Racing 14 469 -202 -3 18 1 20 18 Hendrick Motorsports 5 462 -209 -7 19 1 20 19 Roush Fenway Racing 6 458 -213 -4 16 -3 20 20 Wood Brothers Racing 21 450 -221 -8 17 -3 20 21 Roush Fenway Racing 17 449 -222 -1 21 0 20 22 JTG Daugherty Racing 47 421 -250 -28 22 0 20 23 Roush Fenway Racing 16 397 -274 -24 23 0 20 24 Richard Childress Racing 27 397 -274 0 24 0 20 25 Stewart-Haas Racing 10 373 -298 -24 25 0 20 26 Richard Petty Motorsports 43 363 -308 -10 26 0 20 27 HScott Motorsports 15 359 -312 -4 27 0 20 28 Germain Racing 13 310 -361 -49 28 0 20 29 Front Row Motorsports 38 305 -366 -5 29 0 20 30 Circle Sport-Leavine Family 95 280 -391 -25 31 1 20 31 BK Racing 23 278 -393 -2 30 -1 20 32 Front Row Motorsports 34 237 -434 -41 34 2 20 33 Tommy Baldwin Racing 7 234 -437 -3 33 0 20 34 Richard Petty Motorsports 44 234 -437 0 32 -2 20 35 Premium Motorsports 98 204 -467 -30 36 1 20 36 BK Racing 83 201 -470 -3 35 -1 20 37 HScott Motorsports 46 186 -485 -15 37 0 20 38 GO FAS Racing 32 161 -510 -25 38 0 20 39 Premium Motorsports 55 125 -546 -36 39 0 15 40 The Motorsports Group 30 93 -578 -32 40 0 20 41 Front Row Motorsports 35 46 -625 -47 41 0 3 42 Circle Sport - Leavine Family 59 26 -645 -20 42 0 1 43 BK Racing 93 11 -660 -15 43 0 4 44 BK Racing 26 3 -668 -8 44 0 1 45 Hillman Racing 40 0 -671 -3 45 0 1
Cain: Kyle Busch, Toyota in driver's seat as Chase approaches
Kyle Busch's dominating performance at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon spoke enough volumes to fill a small library: -- He joins Jimmie Johnson as the only NASCAR drivers to win back-to-back races at the historic track. -- Busch's 149 laps led in the caution-extended 170-lap race broke an event record and raised the mark all-time. -- He is the first driver to ever sweep both the XFINITY and Sprint Cup series races at Indy two seasons in a row. -- He is the first driver to win both of the weekend's races from the pole position. -- The victory now ties Busch with Brad Keselowski for the most victories this season (four). -- And no one has more top-five finishes (11) entering this week's stop at Pocono than the reigning Sprint Cup champ. "It's fun to come out here and have such a dominant piece at Indy," a grinning Busch, 31, said Sunday. "They don't come along often, so I was just hoping I didn't screw it up." Well, actually, they have come along -- more than normal -- this season. At least for the Camry camp. And perhaps most important to Busch and his Toyota teammates is that Toyota continues to set itself up as the power-keg to reckon with come Chase time -- which is only a little over a month away. The two most dominating performances of the season -- and frankly, recent seasons -- came from Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex, whose No. 78 Toyota led a record 392 of the 400 laps in May at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Busch, who contributed another history-maker over the weekend. Five Toyota drivers are among the top 10 in the points standings , and all of them have won this season -- from Denny Hamlin's dramatic photo finish over Truex in the Daytona 500 to Busch's most recent showing at Indy. In fact, three of the top-four finishers Sunday (Busch, runner-up Matt Kenseth and fourth-place finisher Hamlin) drove Toyotas. Toyota has had at least three drivers finish among the top 10 in the past three races. "I think any of us have a shot to win on any given week," Busch said. "We all have a great communication and camaraderie and are able to work together, and that's what makes this team so strong." The entire month of April races belonged to Toyota with Busch's back-to-back wins at Martinsville and Texas and Carl Edwards' two wins at Bristol and Richmond. As impressive as Toyota's 10 wins are, nine have come in the past 15 races. And the real statement is where the wins are: Chase tracks. Six of Toyota's victories have come among the 10 venues the series will visit during the Chase. Busch owns three of the wins (Martinsville, Texas and Kansas), Kenseth has two (Dover and New Hampshire) and Truex took the trophy at Charlotte. Indianapolis may not be a Chase race, but Busch's record-setting performance there shows Toyota is full-speed-ahead as the Chase approaches. "At this level of motorsports and the competition level across the field, you can't hit on one thing and beat people," Busch's crew chief Adam Stevens said after Sunday's race. "You have to hit on everything." &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Duval earns first victory after chaotic finish at Indy
Dylan Duval ( The TEAM ) scored his first career victory in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series by turning a pit mistake into the race lead and holding off PJ Stergios ( ineX Racing ) and Ray Alfalla ( Slip Angle Motorsports ) on two late-race restarts to win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Duval had run in the top 10 for much of the event before a strange turn of events saw him capture the lead with nine laps remaining. As the laps ticked down, Duval had miscalculated the amount of fuel needed to finish the race and had to pit under green with 15 laps to go. After the stop, Duval was 33rd in the running order with seemingly no chance at earning a solid finish. However, the caution flew two laps later with Duval still on the lead lap. Nearly every lead lap car pitted for tires, leaving Duval to restart in second position, with fresh tires, alongside Trey Eidson's ( Aftermath Motorsports ) damaged car. On the ensuing restart, Duval quickly overhauled Eidson, who dropped back before being involved in a crash off Turn 2. The caution was a blessing for Duval, who was trying to hold off the two most dominant drivers in the field -- Stergios and Alfalla, but four more potential green flag laps still stood between him and the checkered flag. When the green flew again, Duval jumped out front after a great restart, but Stergios quickly erased the small margin and was hot on the leader's tail as they headed down the backstretch. Although he was close, Stergios was not quite in position to challenge for the lead and elected to ride in line as Duval passed under the start-finish line marking three laps to go. As he did on the prior lap, Stergios got a run off Turn 2 and this time Duval blocked the bottom line. Instead of forcing the issue, Stergios took the high side, attempting to set up a pass off Turn 4. He never had the opportunity, as a crash back in the field triggered another caution, ending the race with Duval the improbable victor. Stergios was second while Alfalla finished third after leading a race-high 56 of 100 laps. Justin Bolton came home fourth and Mitchell Hunt ( High Performance Motorsports ) rounded out the top five. As has been the case for much of the season, Stergios and Alfalla had the cars to beat, leading a combined 79 laps. Stergios had the first crack at the lead after Kenny Humpe's connection trouble allowed Stergios to inherit the pole. It was Alfalla, though, who had the most speed on the long runs, but eight cautions broke up the race into relatively short sprints. Even with the race not playing to his strength, Alfalla held the lead after passing Stergios with 17 laps to go, and looked poised to take his second win of the season before Duval's unlikely strategy was made possible by a timely yellow. With Stergios (454) finishing just ahead of Alfalla (467), and Alfalla earning the bonus point for most laps led, the championship picture remains unchanged at a 13-point margin after Indy. Jake Stergios is third, 98 points back of the lead and nine in front of Chris Overland. Humpe (350) fell to fifth after a 40th-place result due to a crash after his connection issues put him back in the sim racing traffic, while Duval's win propelled him to sixth in the standings with 347 points . Only five races remain in the 2016 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series, all on unique tracks. Next up is the lone road course date on the calendar, Watkins Glen International. The 2.45-mile road course features high speeds, tight racing, and a chance for some unexpected faces to shine at the front of the field. Alfalla, Humpe, and the Stergios brothers have been strong on road courses in the past but look for sim racers such as Michael Conti and Nick Ottinger to be contenders as well. Can Alfalla keep his points lead after an unpredictable race or will PJ Stergios use his extensive road racing experience to close the gap? Catch all the action on iRacingLive in two weeks' time to find out!
Johnson looks to cure cold spell at the Brickyard
RELATED: Johnson through the years " See all the winners at the Brickyard SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Jimmie Johnson looked comfortable and calm taking questions from the media Friday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The six-time Sprint Cup Series champion's No. 48 Lowe’s Red Vest Chevrolet was fastest in the day's opening practice here and seventh quickest in final practice. The historically tough 2.5-mile track has been a positive outlet for Johnson. His success at Indianapolis – four wins – is undeniable, but it is also sporadic. And overdue. Johnson won three times at Indy in four years between 2006-2009 – a mark both unmatched and highly impressive. He added a fourth victory in 2012 and then nearly a fifth in 2013 when he finished runner-up. Only Jeff Gordon (five wins) has won more here. The flip side of the success is that three times Johnson has finished 36th or worse. He was 14th and 15th in his last two races at Indy. And his need to add another win here in Sunday's Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard (NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is as much about turning his season around in pursuit of a record-tying seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title as it is attaining Indianapolis-specific glory. "We love big events, that's one thing about Hendrick Motorsports,’" Johnson allowed, smiling. "We look at the 500 and the 400 and all big races as an opportunity; and are excited for it." Johnson was the first driver in 2016 to collect multiple trophies winning the second week of the season at Atlanta and then again three weeks later at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. But in the last 10 races, he's crashed out three times and had only a single top-10 finish – a third-place finish at Charlotte in the Coca-Cola 600 . In fact, four of his finishes in this stretch have been 25th or worse. Before a 12th- place finish from the pole position at New Hampshire last week, Johnson uncharacteristically crashed out in back-to-back races with a 35th- place showing at Daytona and 32nd at Kentucky. He's currently eighth in the points standings , however, he is fourth on the Chase Grid because of his multiple wins. "I guess last week is kind of a good example of some of the difficulties we've had," Johnson said of New Hampshire. "We had competitive cars all running in the top 11 and in one corner we lose two of them. "It's been tough, but I think we have a good foundation to build from. We have respectable finishes in our cars, but nobody wants to be a decent finisher or a respectable finisher. We all want to dominate. And, we're working real hard on all fronts; from our engine shop, chassis shop, aero, teams, pit stops, and all of it." Contrary to what other teams may be experiencing, Johnson said it's not that his team isn't trying hard enough to return to form. It may be they are trying too hard. "And that's the problem," Johnson said. "I've been at 110 percent and you make too many mistakes there. And I think our team has, too. So, that's one thing we have recognized and we're going to really try to dial back and make sure that we run where we should. "If we have a fifth place car that week, let's be sure that we at least finish fifth. Maybe there's some opportunities to give us a chance to win, but stop making mistakes. And, I've got to do that, first and foremost." Johnson said he was even open to having the team’s "new driver" Jeff Gordon give feedback on the cars since Gordon – who retired last year – is filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. this week at Indianapolis and next week at Pocono while Earnhardt continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms. "We're months in, and I feel like all the drivers have expressed where we could be stronger and what we might need, but a fresh set of eyes and I guess it is kind of biased, but versus the four drivers in unbiased evaluation of the car and where we stack-up and how the engine feels compared to others," Johnson said of possibly getting Gordon's opinion. "And Jeff has had a unique opportunity to see the sport from a totally different angle; and certainly watching cars and I know he's formed some opinions watching other race cars and where the Toyotas might beat us. So, to be able to sit in the car and look for those opportunities and moments, I think will be helpful for us, for sure." The recent struggles are certainly an unfamiliar position for team owner Rick Hendrick, who was just selected for the 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame class. He's grown much more accustomed to winning championships or at the very least challenging for titles. Recently his team has been challenging simply to finish a race. But righting the course is something everyone expects. And the trick is doing it sooner than later. "It seems like when it rains, it pours," Hendrick said. "I think at Daytona we wrecked three or four cars. And then we went to Kentucky and wrecked again. We were in good shape in New Hampshire, but wrecked again. I've been doing this long enough that you can't stay on top forever. You have to work hard to get back. And I think we've made a lot of improvements. "I think we'll see some, hopefully, this weekend. But, you never like having a curveball. This is kind of one of the toughest things you have to go through as one of your star drivers can't drive. And so, the encouraging news is that everybody just stepped up and is working harder. "We're determined to work in every area from the engine to the chassis and aero and everything. And the teams are excited. It's kind of our 'refuse to lose' belief. But we didn't need this, for sure. We didn't need the wrecks we've gone through. Our place looks like a salvage yard where all of the cars have been tore up. But that just makes us dig harder." And Johnson appears ready to lead the charge. "We're all highly inspired to get back on top of the mountain, that is where we feel we should be at Hendrick Motorsports," Johnson said. "We've just got to clean it up on all fronts. Hopefully we have it all together here and can win."
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.
Kenseth, No. 20 team penalized for failed inspection
NASCAR levied penalties to the race-winning Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota team Wednesday after last weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. As a result of infractions found in a post-race pass through the laser inspection station (LIS), the No. 20 team was docked 15 championship points in the team owner standings and driver Matt Kenseth absorbed a 15-point deduction in the Sprint Cup drivers' standings . The points penalty moved Kenseth, a two-time winner this year, from eighth to ninth place in the standings . The P3-grade penalty also carries a $25,000 fine for No. 20 crew chief Jason Ratcliff. The No. 20 Toyota driven to victory by Kenseth in the New Hampshire 301 was found out of compliance during Sunday's post-race trip through the LIS platform. The car was sent to the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, for further evaluation this week. A host of other teams were issued written warnings Wednesday by the sanctioning body: -- The Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet team for driver Austin Dillon and the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevy for driver Kevin Harvick were both handed written warnings and docked 15 minutes of practice time during this weekend's activities at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The No. 3 team failed LIS three times pre-race and pushed their current warning total to four. The No. 4 entry failed body template inspection three times pre-qualifying. -- The Team Penske No. 22 Ford team for driver Joey Logano and the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota of driver Carl Edwards both failed LIS twice. The No. 22's violation came in pre-race inspection; the No. 19's was in pre-qualifying. Both teams received written warnings (their first). -- The following Sprint Cup teams received written warnings for failing pre-qualifying template inspection twice: Chip Ganassi Racing's No. 1 (driver Jamie McMurray ) and No. 42 ( Kyle Larson ), Richard Childress Racing's No. 3 ( Austin Dillon ), Roush Fenway Racing's No. 6 ( Trevor Bayne ), Stewart-Haas Racing's No. 10 ( Danica Patrick ) and No. 14 ( Tony Stewart ), HScott Motorsports' No. 15 (Clint Bowyer), Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 19 ( Carl Edwards ), Wood Brothers Racing's No. 21 ( Ryan Blaney ), JTG Daugherty Racing's No. 47 (AJ Allmendinger) and BK Racing's No. 83 (Matt DiBenedetto). -- The Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet team for driver Ty Dillon in the NASCAR XFINITY Series was also issued a written warning for failing template inspection three times before qualifying. </p>
Talladega 'Big One' hits Truck points standings hard
WATCH: Wildest rides of 2015 TALLADEGA, Ala. -- The "Big One" hit in Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, and it had an impact as massive as the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway oval itself. The championship race took a sharp turn when the No. 51 of Matt Tifft came down from the top line into a dense pack of trucks on Lap 92 (of 98), triggering a 10-vehicle incident that brought out the red flag for nearly 15 minutes. It was the last and worst shot to Matt Crafton , who led 43 laps but was involved in that incident that sent him tumbling down the leaderboard. Crafton, who trailed Erik Jones by four points entering the fred's 250 Presented by Coca-Cola, wound up 23 points behind the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver after finishing 24th. Four races remain in the 2015 season. Jones finished fourth. Fellow title contender Tyler Reddick ( Brad Keselowski Racing) was also involved in the wreck, but he rallied for a fifth-place result and is second in the standings , 18 points behind Jones. Two-time defending series champion Crafton was aggravated over the radio at the Talladega-style racing -- "it's the greatest (expletive) racing," he said sarcastically – and brief in his analysis on the points battle following the race. "I had my problems," Crafton said. "If (Jones and Tyler Reddick ) have their problems … I'm not worried about it. We're going to try and go win the next four and see what happens." Crafton was plagued by a spate of bad incidents Saturday that put his hopes for a three-peat as series champion in serious jeopardy. First, there was the large piece of debris that affixed itself to the front of Crafton's No. 88 Toyota, which caused the driver -- in the lead at the time -- to drop back in the field behind the pack, so that the air from the pack would sweep the trash off. That was successful in freeing the debris, but being in the back presented problems on Lap 86 when Stanton Barrett got into the wall, hitting Crafton's truck in the process. The ThorSport Racing driver was making his way up through the field before being drilled and sent into the inside wall, all of which preceded the final blow of the "Big One." Jones led six laps and was up front nearly the entire day after qualifying third. The 19-year-old ran 1-2 with Crafton prior to the No. 88 falling to the back to clean debris and extended his streak of consecutive top-10 finishes to 11, a run that began with his win at Iowa Speedway in June. "Never would have thought that we could have come out of this race that far ahead," Jones said of the points battle. "Everything from the best to the worst can happen here, and fortunately the best happened for us."