Scoring will mirror system used for drivers for all three national series
Beware the consequences of breaking JJ's bike and blaming it on him RELATED: NASCAR driver preps for race ... on a bike? Remember last week when Dale Earnhardt Jr . tweeted that he borrowed a bike from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson , only to have that bike quit shifting on him a mile into his ride? At the time, Junior included the popular (sometimes sarcastic) hashtag, #BlameJJ. RELATED: Junior borrows, breaks Jimmie's bike Well ... Johnson felt he had to investigate exactly what happened. Turns out -- Junior wasn't using the shifter correctly. So I've come to find out @dalejr wasn't operating the shifter correctly on the bike he borrowed... Feel free to to harass him at anytime. — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) August 25, 2015 Shoulda read the directions https://t.co/SVYpecQpsa — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) August 25, 2015 I assumed @JimmieJohnson would be using the voice command shifter. He needs to get on that. https://t.co/a419tpzbdJ — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) August 25, 2015 @nascarcasm had a pretty good suggestion. . @JimmieJohnson @DaleJr Please just get a tandem. pic.twitter.com/wk8GZ1t5Cz — nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) August 25, 2015 All of this is really to say two things. 1. Feel free to poke fun at Junior. Jimmie gave you permission. And, more importantly ... 2. Never borrow something from Jimmie Johnson , because if you break it, he will publicly out you to his over 920,000 Twitter followers.
Cautions foiled the No. 88 team's strategy in the Brickyard 400 RELATED: Power Rankings after Indianapolis " How all 43 drivers fared at the Brickyard Sunday's annual NASCAR stop at Indianapolis Motor Speedway had a Murphy's Law quality to it for Dale Earnhardt Jr . But the 40-year-old driver, while frustrated, said that in the grand scheme of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup points system , the run of Brickyard bad luck barely matters. Earnhardt described the set of circumstances that led to an unsavory 22nd-place finish at Indy in a sigh-filled Tuesday edition of the "Dale Jr. Download" podcast on Dirty Mo Radio. "Not a lot of fun out there," was the sentiment after a late pit-road mishap then a spin after contact with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne -- all with less than 20 laps remaining. "With several laps to go, we were sitting out there in 16th or so and we were going to come down pit road and get four tires," Earnhardt told Dirty Mo Radio. "I don't know, we didn't. The reason is because who the hell cares where we finish if we can't win the race. I mean, we were going to come down pit road in 16th place. A lot of guys around us pitted and we were going to get four tires and come out probably ... we might beat two guys, we might lose two spots, what the hell ever. So it was a wash in my opinion." Earnhardt did enter pit road in 16th place, but left in 22nd after an air-gun failure slowed his stop for service, leaving his No. 88 Chevrolet team only able to change two tires instead of four. Earnhardt recovered from that and his slight brush with the Turn 1 wall to stay on the lead lap. With two regular-season victories in hand and his spot in the Chase playoffs assured thanks to the points format instituted ahead of the 2014 season, Earnhardt was able to shrug off the disappointment more easily ahead of Sunday's Windows 10 400 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) at Pocono Raceway. "With the old system , you would do everything you could to get the best finish you could," Earnhardt said, "and that might mean forgoing the win and (saying), 'Hey man, if we do everything X, Y and Z and get lucky on the restarts, we might run 10th or we might finish eighth,' like some of those guys that we were racing with. But who damn cares about that? I'm sitting in 16th with 20-some laps to go, a lot of guys behind me are coming for tires. Do I want to be the last guy on old tires? No. I don't want to get eaten up by new tires, get in the wrong line on the restart and get screwed and not be competitive and not be on the offense. "We've got two wins, we're in the Chase, so what the hell's it matter between 10th and 20th? Who cares? If we do everything right, we finish 10th. If we don't do everything right, we finish 20th, but it's a wash either way. Doesn't even matter with this points system ." Earnhardt bemoaned the sequence of yellow flags at Indianapolis and how the No. 88 team's strategy was adversely affected. Still, he championed the power of creative thinking from atop the pit box -- a resource that crew chief Greg Ives will have to employ this weekend at Pocono, where short-pitting, targeting fuel windows and other pit strategies frequently come into play. "The way this system works, you just go win, and if you can't win, do what everybody else ain't doing," Earnhardt said. "Do something different. Try something different. The same-ol', same-ol' is just going to get you the same boring-ass result." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
RELATED: Chase Grid " Chase bubble watch " Chase Fest details A year ago, it was Kasey Kahne . Only two races remained before the start of the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , and the Hendrick Motorsports driver was 13th in points . Unfortunately, he was outside the top 16 in the Chase standings. Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin , AJ Allmendinger , Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola trailed Kahne in points . But they were among those that had wins. They had invitations to the dance. At the time, Kahne had managed only two top-five finishes. His average finishing position was 16.8. He hadn't been to the victory lane since midway through the previous season. So he and his team went out and won at Atlanta Motor Speedway . It earned Kahne one of the final Chase spots and the No. 5 team a second chance. It wasn't quite as easy as it sounds. Kevin Harvick , as was often the case, was dominant at AMS. Kahne fell a lap down early. The team battled back. He didn't take the lead for the first time until Lap 303 of the scheduled 325-lap race. Suddenly, he seemed to be on his way to the win. Then cautions appeared, forcing two late restarts. Green, white, checkered late. Kahne's lead was lost on pit road. Yet somehow he muscled his way past Matt Kenseth coming to the white flag, holding on for the win and a spot in the Chase. It's a similar position for the 35-year-old this year. Two races remain -- stops at Darlington Raceway and Richmond International Raceway -- before the field is finalized for this year's 10-race run to determine the Sprint Cup champion. Kahne is once again winless. He is not alone. Teammate Jeff Gordon has finished inside the top five only three times this year. The four-time champion is ahead of Clint Bowyer in the playoff picture, with a wider margin back to folks such as Aric Almirola and Greg Biffle . A year ago Gordon had three wins and a vise-like grip on first place in the points . Bowyer's got a pair of top-fives, but much of the attention around the No. 15 team of Michael Waltrip Racing centers on where Bowyer will call home next season. Paul Menard has a razor-thin lead on Gordon in points , but taking nothing for granted. Can anyone? Matt Kenseth 's blown engine at Bristol last week, leaving the Joe Gibbs driver 42nd in the final rundown, didn't go unnoticed. Things not only can happen, they often do. With 10 drivers already secure -- 11 if you go ahead and give Kyle Busch one of the spots although he's close enough to the fault line that a misstep could make things interesting -- and two races remaining, at least three of this year's Chase spots will be filled based on the points standings after Richmond. It could be five, if no new winner emerges in the next two weeks. Few on the fringes, though, have shown signs of contending for wins. Almirola? One top five and only three laps led this season. Biffle? It's shaping up to be the wrong type of career year for the Roush Fenway Racing driver, with just two top-fives and an average finish of 20th. Austin Dillon ? Kyle Larson ? Both have shown potential. Both are winless. Kahne? Well, who knows? The question isn't can it be done. Kahne's already proven that it's possible. The question is who among those can pull it off?
Ray Alfalla from Slipangle Motorsports held off a late charge from Gale Force Racing 's Nick Ottinger at Phoenix International Raceway en route to his second victory in the 2015 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Powered by iRacing. Ottinger had to settle for second, less than one tenth of a second behind and a single position short in his quest for a third straight win. Polesitter Casey Tucker ( Last Row Motorsports ) finished third, followed by series championship leader Kenny Humpe ( The TEAM ) and PJ Stergios. Alfalla, who led a race-high 86 of 156 laps, took advantage of some timely cautions and a solid pit strategy and found the winner's circle for the first time since the season opener at Daytona. Ottinger appeared to have a slightly better car than anyone else on the long run but a decision to short-pit cost him when a caution flew for a wreck before the rest of the front runners made their stops. The untimely yellow trapped Ottinger back in traffic with just 45 laps to go which, later, lead him to remark that his second place finish "felt like a win." The night got underway with Humpe taking the lead on Lap Three and quickly opening a one second margin over the field. Humpe held the lead until the first yellow flew on Lap 29 and the field pitted for fresh tires and fuel. Humpe's crew was sluggish, losing him three positions in the pits and handing the lead back to Tucker. On the restart Ottinger jumped to the lead but, after a flurry of cautions, Alfalla went to the point as he raced hard for the clean air out front. After a few laps it was Ottinger who prevailed and the race settled into the longest green flag run of the night. With nobody able to make it on fuel to the end, Ottinger decided to play some pit strategy and short-pitted as soon as his fuel window opened. The move was risky as it put him a lap down but if the pit stop cycle completed he would own a massive lead thanks to his fresh tires. Unfortunately for Ottinger, a crash on the frontstretch on Lap 104 trapped him a lap down as Alfalla and a handful of other cars had yet to make their stops. Ottinger would get back on the lead lap by taking the wave around but now had older tires than Alfalla and the rest of the frontrunners. Ottinger received some help by way of another caution just 11 laps after taking the wave around which allowed him to pit for tires. When the race restarted with 31 laps remaining Ottinger was in fifteenth but now had fresher tires than the leaders and began charging back to the front. In just seven laps Ottinger was already up to eighth and yet another caution bunched the field up, playing right into his favor. As so often happens at short tracks, cautions breed cautions and the frequent yellows at the end of the race enabled Ottinger to maximize the benefit of his fresh tires. After going from fifteenth to eighth, he picked up two more spots on the next restart and three additional places on the next before the ninth and final yellow flag of the night flew, setting-up a five lap shootout for the win. Alfalla still led, Tucker was second, and Ottinger was behind the front row in third as the race went green. Ottinger made quick work of Tucker and started reeling-in Alfalla. By the time the white flag flew Alfalla had a mirror full of the 05 car but would not be denied as he calmly negotiated Turns Three and Four a final time to take the checkered flag with Ottinger right on his bumper. The win allowed Alfalla to slightly close on Humpe in the championship standings but Humpe still enjoys a massive 109-point advantage. Alfalla also distanced himself from Stergios, who is now 39 points adrift in third. Bryan Blackford and Matt Bussa are tied for fifth, 23 points behind Stergios and three points in front of Chris Overland who fell in the standings due to last night's disappointing 30th place finish. With just three races remaining in the 2015 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series the series shifts to Darlington Raceway , one of the toughest tracks on the circuit. Humpe will have a chance to officially clinch the championship if he can leave "The Lady in Black" with a 97 point lead, leaving Alfalla with some work to do if he hopes to keep the pressure on an additional week. Darlington generally favors the veteran sim racers so it would be no surprise to see Alfalla, Ottinger, and Humpe battling for the win once again. Can anyone else break up the dominant threesome? Tune into iRacingLive in two weeks' time to find out!
RELATED: Updated standings Chris Buescher gambled at Bristol and almost came up big. The key word in the previous sentence: 'Almost.' The 22-year-old Roush Fenway Racing driver took the lead at the .533-mile track after electing not to pit on Lap 192 of 300. Buescher paced the field for the next 106 laps, but a fuel pick-up issue on the penultimate go-around of the race ended any hopes of triumph. Buescher was relegated to 11th, while Ty Dillon finished third, cutting Buescher's NASCAR XFINITY Series points lead to 19. If Buescher didn't go for the win, he wouldn't have lost as many points to Dillon. "We had the speed, but it wasn't meant to be," Buescher said. "I'm glad we took the chance. I wouldn't change it if we could do it over again, but unfortunately it knocked us right out of a top-10 and out of a win." RELATED: Buescher: 'I'm glad we took the chance' Buescher and Dillon will continue to battle for the points lead in Saturday's Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin (3 p.m. on NBCSN) -- the third and final XFINITY Series road course race of the season. The two drivers are the only competitors who finished in the top five of the previous two road course races. A natural on road courses, Buescher won at Mid-Ohio last year in addition to his two top fives while turning left and right this year. He placed 18th in his lone start at Road America last season. " Road America is a very difficult and unique road course," Buescher said. "I love road racing and look forward to the challenge." Dillon finished 19th in his first-ever series start at Road America last year. He enters Saturday's race riding a streak of four top-five finishes. "Our team is looking at the big picture and sometimes we have to take a step back and realize that this is a long season; to take it little by little," Dillon said. "This past weekend in Bristol was a perfect example -- we struggled the first part of practice but (Crew Chief) Nick (Harrison), (Race Engineer) Danny (Efland) and the team just took a step back and reevaluated. We have a championship to win here and it won't be easy. "We have 11 races to go and we're not going to let up."
The Joe Gibbs Racing teams of Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth , which combined to win six of the last nine NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, will each lose 15 minutes of practice time next weekend when the series heads to Darlington Raceway . The two were among 11 teams issued warnings arising from pre-qualifying and pre-race inspection issues at Bristol Motor Speedway , site of the Aug. 22 Irwin Tools Night Race . Busch's No. 18 team failed pre-race inspection four times on Saturday. Busch finished eighth in the race. Kenseth's No. 20 team was penalized for failing pre-race inspection on its first two attempts, as well as failing to get to inspection at the allotted time. Kenseth finished 42nd after when an engine issue sidelined the 2003 Sprint Cup champion after 110 laps of the 500-lap race. NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series is not competing this weekend. The Bojangles' Southern 500 is scheduled for Sept. 6 at Darlington (7 p.m., NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The 15-minute penalties will be enforced when opening practice gets underway on Friday, Sept. 4 at 11 a.m. Kenseth is currently fourth in the Chase Grid and has a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff locked up. Busch, who missed the first 11 races of the season due to injuries sustained in a crash at Daytona International Speedway in February, is currently second in the Chase Grid, but needs to clinch a top 30 position in the point standings over the final two regular-season races before he officially locks his spot in the Chase up. Warnings may be issued to teams for a variety of minor infractions. For every fourth warning issued to a team, whether during a championship ( points ) or non-championship (non- points ) event, the loss of pit stall selection will be enforced. Others teams receiving warnings at Bristol for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice were: No. 22 ( Joey Logano / Team Penske ), No. 24 ( Jeff Gordon / Hendrick Motorsports ), No. 7 ( Alex Bowman / Tommy Baldwin Racing ), No. 30 ( Travis Kvapil /TMG) and the No. 98 ( Timmy Hill /Premium Motorsports) Also penalized for being late to inspection were the following teams: No. 40 ( Landon Cassill /Hillman Racing), No. 83 ( Matt DiBenedetto / BK Racing , No. 15 ( Clint Bowyer / Michael Waltrip Racing ) and the No. 11 ( Denny Hamlin / Joe Gibbs Racing ).
MORE: Burton discusses throwback scheme and more on "Dirty Air Podcast" When Jeb Burton decided to join the wave of throwback paint schemes for Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway , he didn't have far to look for inspiration. BK Racing announced Tuesday that Burton's BK Racing entry for the 66th running of the Bojangles' Southern 500 will pay tribute to the career of his father, Ward Burton, a two-time winner at NASCAR's oldest superspeedway. But the tradition-rich race will also feature another notable switch: The Ron Devine-owned team also announced Tuesday that it will make an intrateam driver swap starting at Darlington, with Burton taking over the No. 23 Toyota from J.J. Yeley, who will drive the No. 26 Toyota. RELATED: See all the throwback looks for Darlington The change in driving duties puts the younger Burton that much closer numbers-wise to the Bill Davis Racing No. 22 that his father campaigned during his heyday from 1999-2003. The yellow-and-black paint scheme for team sponsor Estes Trucking -- with its similar corporate colors to his father's longtime sponsor Caterpillar -- leans heavily on his family's racing tradition. "I saw all the throwback stuff and Estes has the same colors as Dad had, so I just thought about the idea and I got the PR team to come up with a design," Jeb Burton said. "I saw it and I thought it'd be a cool idea so we went on with it." Ward Burton caught his first glimpse of the car's vintage look ahead of last weekend's race at Bristol Motor Speedway . The resemblance -- both in colors and its similarly styled numbers -- is uncanny. "It's really cool," the 53-year-old Burton said. "We had a lot of success at Darlington, but more importantly I really appreciate Jeb thinking about me." Ward Burton flew the Caterpillar flag for his most prominent wins in NASCAR's premier series, foremost among them the 2002 Daytona 500 . The yellow-and-black look was also front and center for Burton and crew chief Tommy Baldwin Jr. when the Davis-owned team found a sweet spot at Darlington, yielding two victories at the 1.366-mile track, including the 2001 Southern 500. "Tommy and I'd hit a set-up at Darlington. For about three years there, we were on the top of the board whenever we showed up," Burton said. "Rain got us twice, a wreck got us one other time, a lug nut got us another, but we had the car to beat many times. I liked that place ever since I went there." Jeb Burton , 23, hopes the knack for the "Lady in Black" doesn't skip a generation as he prepares for his first Darlington start. His uncle, Jeff Burton , also won twice at Darlington, sweeping the season's two events there in 1999. The younger Burton got his first taste of driving the treacherous egg-shaped oval in an open test for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on June 10. "Darlington is its own animal," Burton said. "We went there and tested, and I struggled a little bit and was running the track a little wrong. Right there at the end of the session, I got behind Joey Logano and learned a lot, followed him and actually kept up with him. I thought that was really good, and our team did their best." BK Racing aims to jump-start its performance with next weekend's driver shakeup. Burton's Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidacy has been a rocky path thus far, with the No. 26 missing seven races and cracking the top 30 just twice this season. He ranks 39th in the driver standings. Yeley has run 23 of 24 in the Sprint Cup Series this season but is eligible for championship points only in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. (The team made a driver switch at Richmond with Burton in the No. 23 instead of Yeley.) The No. 23 team stands 39th in the car owner points ; BK's No. 26 sits 44th after Bristol. Patrick Donahue will remain the crew chief on the No. 26 team, while Joe Williams will remain the crew chief on the No. 23 team. It's all been a learning process for Burton, who made the jump to Sprint Cup this year after two solid seasons in the Camping World Truck Series. "Coming into it, I didn't think it'd be as tough as it was because I had somewhat success," Burton said, "but in the Truck Series and the ( XFINITY ) Series, the competition level is high up front, but it's … one through 43 in the Cup Series is the best of the best. The best people, the best drivers, the best teams. You've got to be on it and our guys are working hard as a low-budget team. We're getting better every week."
In this episode of The Dirty Air Podcast, the guys are joined by Jeb Burton to discuss his Darlington paint scheme, the racing at Bristol and the finer points of the Virginia accent.
Photo credit -- Chase Elliott 's Instagram @chaseelliott9 RELATED: Series standings At only 19 years old, Chase Elliott already has a NASCAR XFINITY Series championship, is currently contending for a second one and has a pretty sweet job lined up next year taking over the iconic No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for retiring four-time Sprint Cup Series champ Jeff Gordon . Not only has Elliott's racing career taken off, he has too -- literally -- having just earned his private pilot license on July 23. And the view from above is something he's wanted his whole life. It seems Elliott got more than the racing gene from his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott , as he has inherited the flying bug from his dad, an accomplished and avid aviator. "He's been flying a long time so I've always been around it since I was little," Elliott said of his father. "I've watched him fly for years and years and been fortunate enough to have access to his planes and sit up front and watch him fly them so I've always definitely interested in it. "It's one of those things where the more you do it, the more you become interested in it. And the more you get into it, the more intriguing it becomes. I learn something new every time I fly. "It's definitely tough to (master all the necessary lessons). A lot of things come along with it. But flying is a privilege and something you can't take lightly ever." A lot of the same traits -- discipline, smarts and dedication -- Elliott put into his burgeoning racing career he used to earn the pilot license. He actually started taking lessons while still in high school but it was such a busy time between school, racing and flying lessons that Elliott put off finishing his license until a few months ago with the support of his dad. "It's something you work hard for to achieve," Bill Elliott said. "I see so many people who have gone through a lot of the flying part and the learning curve but never went on and got their pilot licenses and they always regretted it. I told Chase, 'You need to go on and get this done.' "I'm glad he did. That's something he'll carry with him regardless of where racing takes him." The Elliotts join an impressive list of NASCAR drivers who have secured private pilot licenses including Carl Edwards , Greg Biffle , Matt Kenseth and retired drivers Mark Martin , Rusty Wallace, Cale Yarborough and Ricky Rudd. Ryan Newman 's wife Krissie flies helicopters. Similarly, Elliott figures having the ability to pilot an airplane can be as much a practicality as it is a luxury. His father helped secure him a Cessna 182 single-engine, four-seater to use and Elliott is eager to start flying to races closer than home. Last week, he flew to Bristol. He has also posted a photo of himself practicing grass landings on Instagram. "Absolutely, it's a major convenience if you need to go somewhere, you can turn a four-hour drive into an hour-and-a-half flight," Elliott said. "Time is valuable for anybody and any chance to make up time like that is great." Elliott wasn't sure if he would fly himself to this weekend's XFINITY Series race at Road America , but he is looking forward to the stand-alone road race regardless. It's the third road course race in the last four weeks for the series and Elliott is one of the series regulars who embraces the opportunity to turn right. He is on a six-race run of top-10 finishes in his No. 9 NAPA Chevy and currently trails championship leader Chris Buescher by 23 points in the standings. He has finishes of seventh (Watkins Glen) and fifth (Mid-Ohio) in the two road races this year and finished fourth at Road America last season. "I thought last year was a good learning experience," Elliott said. "I was really pleased with Watkins Glen. I'm still learning on my end, but thought we had good cars this year and that's a big step in right direction." For Elliott, that direction is up.