Scoring will mirror system used for drivers for all three national series
RELATED: Official release on appeal A three-member appeals panel upheld P4-grade penalties issued to Michael Waltrip Racing 's No. 15 Toyota team Wednesday, severely hampering driver Clint Bowyer 's hopes of advancing from the first round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. The National Motorsports Appeals Panel -- which heard the team's appeal at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina -- ruled that the Waltrip-owned organization violated the rules set forth in the penalty notice and the panel affirms and upholds the original penalty assessed by NASCAR. On Sept. 23, NASCAR handed down punishment for an illegally mounted track bar and suspension infractions as part of pre-race technical violations after the postseason-opening race Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway , stripping Bowyer of 25 points in the drivers' championship standings, suspending crew chief Billy Scott for three races and fining the team $75,000. The penalties were issued at the P4 level of discipline in the NASCAR deterrence system , which went into effect in the 2014 season. Scott, who was also placed on probation for six months, was atop the No. 15 team's pit box last Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after MWR deferred the penalty until after the appeals process. RELATED: Bowyer to drive No. 14 car for SHR in 2017 Michael Waltrip Racing plans to cease operations at season's end and it was announced on Wednesday that Bowyer will drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017, while he hinted that light will be shed on his 2016 plans shortly. The team announced later Wednesday that it would not appeal the ruling. "We are disappointed with the outcome of today's ruling and still feel our interpretation is within the guidelines," according to the statement. "Rather than continue the appeals process, MWR is ready to focus 100 percent of our company's resources on winning at Dover and trying to advance to the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ." With the penalty upheld, Bowyer remains last among the 16 playoff drivers in the Chase, 39 points behind 12th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who holds a tenuous grip on the final berth to avoid elimination and move to the next postseason segment. The title-eligible Chase field will be whittled to 12 after the Challenger Round finale, Sunday's AAA 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Dover. The three members on the National Motorsports Appeals Panel chosen to hear Wednesday's appeal were Paul Brooks, Bill Lester and Bill Mullis.
Officials with Richard Petty Motorsports and transportation services company J.B. Hunt have announced a five-race associate sponsorship agreement that will consist of one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event this season and four for 2016. The company will serve as an associate on the No. 9 RPM Ford, currently driven by Sam Hornish Jr ., at this year's AAA Texas 500 race weekend (Nov. 6-8) as well as events next season at Atlanta Motor Speedway , Auto Club Speedway , one of two stops at Pocono Raceway and at Chicagoland Speedway . "Nobody does it better than J.B. Hunt and their thousands of employees," team owner Richard Petty said in a statement announcing the agreement. "We're proud to partner with them and I'm excited to be a part of their driver recruitment program. Our country's truck drivers are the backbone of our commerce system and I can't wait to interact with them." J.B. Hunt is based in Lowell, Ark. "There is no bigger brand in NASCAR than Petty," Craig Harper, Executive Vice President of Operations for J.B. Hunt Transport said. "All of our drivers know that name and can relate to the race team, their goals and the work and dedication that is required to safely transport the team's equipment from race to race each week." RPM fields two entries in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, featuring drivers Hornish and Aric Almirola . Petty is the sport's all-time leader in wins with 200 career victories and is one of only two drivers to capture seven premier series titles. He was one of five inaugural members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame inducted in 2010. Almirola is currently 17th in points , the highest ranked driver not among the 16 competing in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup . Hornish is 27th in the standings. The Sprint Cup Series travels to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., this weekend for Sunday's Sylvania 300 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR).
RELATED: Bowyer falls in manure, smells like roses DOVER, Del. -- Clint Bowyer , introduced as the newest driver in the Stewart-Haas Racing stable for 2017 just two days ago, ended speculation about his 2016 plans Friday, announcing he will join HScott Motorsports for the upcoming season. The single-season move will keep Bowyer, 36, in the Chevrolet family while three-time premier series champion Tony Stewart wraps up his final season as driver of the No. 14 entry. RELATED: Bowyer, SHR a perfect fit HScott Motorsports , located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, currently fields Sprint Cup Series entries for drivers Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett . The organization works closely with both SHR and Hendrick Motorsports in NASCAR's premier series, purchasing its chassis from SHR and engines from Hendrick. "What a whirlwind year, to say the least," Bowyer said. "… It's kind of weird, as we've gone through this together, there's always been that door, the one that opens the easiest, and Harry Scott was definitely that. Looking forward to the marriage that he has with Hendrick, with Stewart-Haas, (those are) very strong. … "Harry is a young, very aggressive owner that we need in this sport; to have this together and tie my name to HScott Motorsports is something I'm looking forward to and get back to my winning ways." Scott said the addition of Bowyer "will help us long term because he's basically going to be able to help us reset our program and set the bar higher going forward. "With his experience, his leadership and his enthusiasm, I think it will be contagious amongst all the team members. Going forward he will help us form an even stronger relationship with Stewart-Haas and that will obviously be beneficial to us." RELATED: Bowyer to join SHR in 2017 5-Hour Energy will be the primary sponsor of Bowyer's entry for 24 of next season's 36 races. Scott started HScott Motorsports in 2013, running Allgaier, Ryan Truex , Michael McDowell and Kyle Larson in 11 of the season's 36 races. Allgaier was named the team's full-time driver in '14; Annett was brought on board prior to the start of the '15 season as the group added a second team. Allgaier is currently 30th in the points standings while Annett is 36th with eight races remaining. Scott said it was too soon to speculate on how the organization's roster would look for 2016, neither confirming nor denying speculation that Bowyer would replace one of the group's two current drivers. "We really haven't ruled out anything for 2016 or beyond," he said. "I'm not prepared to give you an answer for that because I simply don't know at this point." Friday's announcement closed the books on what has been a tumultuous season for the Emporia, Kansas, native. A little more than a year after announcing a multi-year contract extension with its driver, Michael Waltrip Racing announced in mid-August that Bowyer and the organization had "mutually agreed to separate" at the conclusion of the 2015 season as the team closes its doors. After slipping into this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field as the final driver in the 16-team field, Bowyer's No. 15 team was hit with penalties in the opening Chase race, at Chicagoland Speedway , for suspension irregularities. The P4-level infractions resulted in the loss of 25 driver points for Bowyer and owner points for co-owner Rob Kauffman. Crew chief Billy Scott was fined $75,000 and suspended for three races. RELATED: Drivers on the move for 2016 MWR appealed the penalties, but on Wednesday the National Motorsports Appeals Panel heard the appeal and upheld the sanctions against the team. Bowyer is an eight-time winner at the Sprint Cup level but enters this weekend's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR), riding a 105-race winless streak. He is making his sixth Chase appearance and has a best points finish of second (2012). The specifics of the move, as far as car number and team personnel, have yet to be determined. "It's going to take hard work and dedication, it's going to take funding. We have to have all these and we (do) at HScott Motorsports ," Bowyer said. "I've got the best of the best; when you talk about equipment we've got Hendrick engines, we've got ties to the Stewart-Haas organization. These are the guys that are winning races and I now have that bond, that connection to this kind of equipment. For me as a race car driver, that's huge."
RELATED: Full race results from Dover " Updated Series standings DOVER, Del. -- Already dressed in street clothes, a disappointed Ty Dillon stood near the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing hauler, huddled with his crew following a tough 28th-place result in the XFINITY Series' Hisense 300 at Dover International Speedway . The finish dropped Dillon from second to fourth in the championship standings, 39 points behind leader Chris Buescher . Dillon's grandfather and team owner Richard Childress stopped by to console his grandson with a few words and a pat on the back. "I ain't finishing fourth." Dillon told Childress. Dillon's unfortunate day began when he blew a tire at Lap 25, taking his Chevrolet off the race track and into the garage for repairs. He returned to the track around Lap 88, finishing the race 85 laps down. "Well, it started with a bang," Dillon said after the race. "Kind of putting things together, I heard that -- sounded like a car exploded, a brake rotor and the 43 might have ran over it and then we were one of the cars to come through. "Because I had no warning -- the car was still handling great. Then all of a sudden I heard a 'pow' into the wall." The XFINITY Series hit the track Saturday for the 200-mile race without any practice or qualifying time due to inclement weather. And the lack of practice time, Dillon said, may have affected the way many of the cars were running. "You can't blame it on anybody," Dillon said. "When you don't have practice, some of these back marker cars, they aren't able to prepare the race car from week to week like most teams are. It's a bummer, it happens." With five races remaining on the XFINITY Series season, Dillon's once-bright outlook for the championship title appears significantly dimmer. In addition to leader Buescher, Dillon's No. 3 sits behind JR Motorsports' Chase Elliott and Regan Smith , who won Saturday's event at Dover. Nonetheless, Dillon remains optimistic, siting the his team's jump from 43 points down after Daytona in July to 20 points down four races later after Iowa. "I'm proud of my guys -- we've had some awesome race cars lately," Dillon said. "… I know in my heart I can win some of these races and get back in this thing. We're not going to give up, that's for sure."
RELATED: Race results " Updated NXS standings DOVER, Del. -- Regan Smith charged from fourth to first during a restart on Lap 121 and stayed there for the rest of the Hisense 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Dover International Speedway Saturday, posting his second victory of the season and working his way back into championship contention. After a 31-minute rain delay, Smith passed Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin and leader Elliott Sadler on the restart on Lap 121 of 200, staved off intense pressure from Hamlin midway through the final green-flag run and pulled away as the Joe Gibbs Racing teammates battled for second place. Without a concrete deal in place for next season, Smith won for the first time at the Monster Mile -- in fact, the 80 laps he led were the first circuits he had ever spent out front at Dover. The victory was the sixth of Smith's career, and all of them have come under the JR Motorsports banner. RELATED: Dillon has tire failure as caution waves Hamlin won the fight for the runner-up spot, crossing the finish line .703 seconds behind Smith. Busch led a race-high 110 laps and came home third, followed by Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson . Austin Dillon ran sixth, one spot ahead of Chase Elliott , who moved into second place in the series standings, 24 points behind leader Chris Buescher , who finished eighth on Saturday. Smith, who rallied from a flat tire in the first third of the race, took over third in points , 36 behind Buescher. "I knew the car was fast, but I didn't know it was that fast until we got out in clean air," Smith said in Victory Lane. "This wasn't a Hail Mary. We came from the back to the front and just had a fast race car. "If we can keep doing that every week, and get another win or two here or there, I don't know what's going to happen. I'm trying to figure out some things for next year, so wins never hurt -- that's never a bad thing going forward." A victory for Smith was not even a remote consideration when a light rain began falling shortly after the halfway point, with the race already under caution for a wreck involving Stanton Barrett and Cale Conley on Lap 106. Sadler, whose 2016 move to JR Motorsports was announced on Friday, took two new tires under the yellow and was first off pit road, leading the race and praying for a monsoon. But the rain abated, depriving Sadler of a going-away present to Roush Fenway Racing , the organization he will leave at season's end. "I've never had much luck with the rain," Sadler said ruefully. "I've always been on the wrong side of that, going back to the 2009 Daytona 500 (where Sadler was fifth with a chance to win when the race was called because of rain after 152 laps)." Note: Ty Dillon cut a tire and hit the outside wall on Lap 24, resulting in a 28th-place finish. He slipped from second to fourth in the series standings, 39 points back of Buescher.
RELATED: Complete lineup for Sunday's race DOVER, Del. – A hard, steady rain at Dover International Speedway made Matt Kenseth 's life easier—and Kevin Harvick 's challenge even more difficult than it otherwise might have been. With a massive East Coast storm forcing cancellation of all of Friday’s track activity at the Monster Mile, including NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying, Kenseth will start on the pole for Sunday’s AAA 400 , the elimination race for the Challenger Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The series leader, Kenseth already has earned a spot in the Chase's Contender Round by virtue of last Sunday's victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . On the other hand, with the field ordered by owner points according to rainout rules, Harvick will start 15th in a race he almost certainly must win to keep his hopes of winning back-to-back series championships alive. After an early wreck and a 42nd-place finish in the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway , Harvick ran out of fuel while leading with three laps left at New Hampshire and finished 21st, leaving him 23 points out of 12th place in the standings, the last transfer position for the next round. Even though the rain put him on the pole, Kenseth would have preferred to have practiced on Friday, especially in light of the suspension issues that relegated him to a 39th-place finish in the May 31 event at Dover. "I think we all would have liked to get on the track today and get some practice," Kenseth said on Friday at Dover. "I know there are some things we wanted to work on and try to improve from the spring for this race. "I think everybody wanted to get on the track. I think it's one of the advantages of leading the points – obviously, if it rains, you get a good starting spot and pit stall. Glad we're starting in the front, but still would have liked the track time." The qualifying cancellation means the 16 Chase drivers will start from the top 16 positions on the grid. Denny Hamlin , who punched his ticket to the Contender Round with a win at Chicagoland, will start on the front row beside his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate. Carl Edwards , Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson are third through fifth on the grid, respectively, for Sunday’s race. "Bubble" drivers Jamie McMurray , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kyle Busch and Paul Menard , all of whom are within a two-point range in the standings, will start 11th through 14th, respectively. "We'll be ready; we'll be prepared and we won't start as far forward as we have here in years past," said Busch, who blew a right front tire at New Hampshire, crashed and finished 37th. "Typically we're a top-five qualifier. ... We'll make do." Busch feels his team's level of readiness coming to the track this season will stand him in good stead. "I think, for my guys, we've been really, really good this year of unloading and having some strong cars and some good speed right off the truck," Busch said. "I'd actually look forward to no practice time here. I think that would be really good for the 18 team."
DOVER, Del. – Jimmie Johnson 's NASCAR premier series career is a story of numbers. Wins? He's at 74 and counting, eighth most in the series and second among active drivers. Championships? Six, trailing only the seven won by NASCAR Hall of Fame members Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Second-place finishes? He's got 46 of those, also second most among active participants. The only item that Johnson can't put a number on involves retirement. "No, I do not have a number and I have not picked a number," Johnson said Friday at Dover International Speedway , site of Sunday's AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). "As a kid growing up racing and as I got in the sport, I didn't say 'when I get to this age, I'm going to step down.' I haven't had that conversation and have not picked a number with my wife and said, 'OK honey, this is the point that I am going to stop.' It's really based on feel, and I have Chani's support on that as well. "When I feel like it's time, I am going to make that decision. Certainly (I) don't feel like it's time now." That may be bad news for his fellow racers. Johnson is the only driver to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup every year; he's won multiple races every year since his first full season in 2002 and he has finished outside the top five in points only twice during his 14-year career. In a sport that changes constantly, Johnson and success have been linked since Day 1. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon , 44, is stepping aside at year's end. Fellow series champion Tony Stewart , also 44, has announced that 2016 will be his last as a Sprint Cup Series driver. "I remember watching Rusty (Wallace) pick a number and then remember talking to (him) in years following that and I still think he's mad he stopped," Johnson said. "I think he feels like he could be out here racing with us and winning races. "So conversations with him, with Dale Jarrett, with other guys ... I have always been curious. Why, when, what tells you to stop? Mark (Martin) tried a half dozen times to retire and couldn't walk away. "So I want to make sure I do it once and not keep coming back." What he's looking for, he said, is "the moment." "That moment that you say, ‘Alright, it's time.' When that shows up, then I will step down." The final race in this year's Challenger Round is set for Sunday. It will be Johnson's 500th career start, and his fifth-place points position makes him a shoo-in to be one of the 12 drivers who advance into the Contender Round. Becoming a member of Hendrick Motorsports , paired with sponsor Lowe's and crew chief Chad Knaus, the success that followed has "been a life-changing experience," Johnson said, "something I dreamed of. "But I still couldn't have dreamed this big and have this much take place for us."
RELATED: Results John Wes Townley won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rhino Linings 350 on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by coasting to the finish line as drivers such a Erik Jones , Matt Crafton and Cameron Hayley ran short of fuel or needed to make a late stop. For Townley it was his first career victory in a major NASCAR series, but it didn't come without some tense moments as his crew chief was advising him to use three-quarters throttle in the race's final three laps. However, it turned out to be enough as race leader Crafton (eighth place) had to pit for a spalsh-and-go with five laps remaining and Jones (ninth) and Hayley (10th) were seen wiggling their trucks short on fuel in the final laps. Timothy Peters finished second, followed by Ben Kennedy , John Hunter Nemechek and Brandon Jones to round out the top five. Erik Jones leads Crafton by four points in the driver standings, with Tyler Reddick , who finished seventh, 16 points down. Reddick wrecked with teammate Austin Theriault on Lap 13. Theriault, whose truck went head-on into the wall, was airlifted to a nearby hospital for observation. According to a post on the driver's Facebook page, Theriault was alert and communicating. RELATED: Theriault airlifted after Vegas wreck The Truck Series will return to the track on Saturday, Oct. 24 at Talladega Superspeedway for the Fred's 250 Presented by Coca-Cola (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM).
RELATED: See the full lineup for Sunday's race MORE: Driver standings " Chase Grid DOVER, Del. -- The second-guessing began after Chicago and escalated a week later following New Hampshire. Back-to-back finishes outside the top 20 have put defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick in a must-win situation heading into Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "Everybody's an armchair quarterback on Monday morning," Rodney Childers, crew chief for Harvick and the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 team, said Saturday prior to the start of practice at Dover. "I think you're always going to have that." Contact with fellow driver Jimmie Johnson led to the blown tire at Chicagoland in the opening race of this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup ; last weekend at Dover, Harvick had a dominant car and led for a total of 216 laps, but ran out of fuel while leading just three laps from the finish. As a result, Harvick finds himself 15th among the 16 Chase drivers; only the top 12 remain in title contention following this weekend's Challenger Round cutoff race. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth took the first two Chase races to guarantee they will be around for the Contender Round, which begins next weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "The deal at Chicago, it smoked that first corner and the next lap it didn't smoke at all," Childers said. "We had the rear bumper camera on our pit box; if there is anything coming out of the back of the car you can see it on that rear bumper camera. The second lap it didn't smoke at all. Timmy (Fedewa) on the spotters' stand said it didn't smoke. I think really ... (Kevin) ran the car easier that lap and we didn't really know that. The next lap, when we told him it wasn't smoking anymore, he ran it hard through (Turns) 1 and 2 and it smoked again and then blew the tire out." Running out of fuel at Loudon, he said, was tougher to swallow. "There shouldn't have been any issues," he said. "But there were a few things during the pit stop that looked like the pit crew could have done differently to try and do more to get it full and it wasn't. "Most of the time you know. But to be honest, he never really ran hard all day so we didn't have good readings on what it should be. Even that last run, our mileage was the best it had been all day. Everybody thought Matt (Kenseth) was pushing us but he really wasn't, we were never really running hard the whole time he was behind us. It's not too often you have a car like that. It was just so fast that he could do whatever he wanted." Harvick was fourth fastest in the opening, abbreviated practice Saturday at Dover. Rain had canceled all on-track activity on Friday. Technically, Harvick can advance based on points , but the scenarios that would allow that to occur are a mathematician's nightmare. "Really, those guys (ahead of us) would have to crash out early in the race," Childers said. Win the race and the rest will take care of itself. Harvick has two wins, at Las Vegas and Phoenix earlier in the year, and 10 runner-up finishes. He's never won at Dover, a high-banked 1-mile track. "We try every week to win; if you don't, that's pretty much it," Childers said. "You just hate that it comes down to that, to lead the points all year, have the consistency that we've had, just hate to see that it's come down to this. "But on the other hand I feel like we've got the team to do it and the driver to do it. "I think if you're going to back any team against the wall, this is the one to do it."