Scoring will mirror system used for drivers for all three national series
Technology advancement demands more driver precision Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR's new pit-road officiating technology received a much-anticipated preseason shakedown Saturday night in the Sprint Unlimited exhibition. The audition gave NASCAR officials more experience with the system , but teams, drivers and pit crews also got a sample of how it operated in race conditions without points on the line. PHOTOS: Inside the new pit road technology The system passed its preliminary test without major issue Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway, with no noticeable glitches and no dramatic uptick in violations. It marked the next step in its rollout, heading toward its full-fledged debut in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' biggest race, the Feb. 22 Daytona 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX) Saturday night's outcome was tempered somewhat by the uniqueness of the invitational race, with only a 75-lap distance as a sample size. The Sprint Unlimited also featured a smaller field of 25 vs. the traditional 43, making wholesale trips to pit road a less crowded proposition. A rash of caution periods and red flags for crashes also took the prospects of testing the system with green-flag pit stops en masse out of the equation. Matt Kenseth and his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota team managed to avoid not only the carnage of wrecks, but also the watchful eye of the new pit road officiating process. Jason Ratcliff, Kenseth's crew chief, said an offseason walk-through of the technology at the NASCAR Research and Development Center helped prime teams for the road ahead. "It's the first race out," Ratcliff said after the Victory Lane celebration. "We didn't make many competitive pit stops tonight. But all in all, I think our teams did well. I think they're as prepared as anyone is going to be. We'll see that Thursday and then Sunday again. But our pit crew coaches and our pit crew department has put a lot of effort, as well as every individual guy, understanding how much more precise that system's going to be compared to what it's been in the past." MORE: New pit road technology at the 'tip of the spear' By race's end, NASCAR's stat sheet showed 11 pit-road infractions in the 75-lap race. Six of those violations fell under the heading of entering pit road while it was closed, a category that isn't monitored by the new technology. Three teams were docked for having too many crewmembers over the wall, and one each for crewmembers over the wall too soon or a driver passing through more than three pit boxes on entry or exit. From a driver's perspective, the technology advancement demands more precision as well, but early on, defending Sprint Cup champ Kevin Harvick was among those leaving their approach unaltered. "That doesn't really change anything for me," said Harvick, a three-time Unlimited winner who wound up 11th Saturday night. "I think as you look at the things that happen, on and off pit road you have to just do what you normally do. Driving in and out of three boxes in or out, or the guys jumping over the wall is going to be the hardest thing. There is no hiding from the new pit road penalties." The new system uses 45 high-definition cameras at every Sprint Cup track, recording and feeding video of every pit stall to a trackside hauler, where eight NASCAR officials monitor and rule on pit stops at a double-time rate of roughly eight seconds per car. The process, rigorously checked during the late stages of 2014 and with file footage in the offseason, was also in place for testing during the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship opener, the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Saturday marked the system's first real-time application under the NASCAR umbrella. While Unlimited runner-up Martin Truex Jr. said he was cognizant of the technology as he made his first pit stops of the season, the system didn't play much factor for him because of the 2.5-mile track's spacious pit stalls. When the Sprint Cup schedule shifts to a tighter layout, though, he said the technology has the potential to be more exacting. "Honestly, I was more concerned before I got in the car than when I came down pit road," Truex said. "Everything felt exactly the same to me. There are pretty big pit boxes here, so pretty easy to not drive through more than three. I pretty much took my normal entry, and at the last minute was like, 'OK, that was only one box,' so it's not really something to worry about here, I don't think. There's other places it'll come into play. I think the biggest deal is just the pit crew guys getting used to it." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Bruce: History shows that points will matter in 2014, beyond
Junior's comeback season brought out the best of old and new The announcement of NASCAR's new points system dominated the preseason in 2014, and headlocks and brawls and go-for-broke racing dominated the end. But in between, the best story was the return of Dale Earnhardt Jr . The sport's biggest star turned in the most important season of his career. After a solid but winless 2013, his slide from the top of NASCAR's mountain had ended, and he needed to race his way back to the top. He did and then some. He won the wildest Daytona 500 anybody has ever seen, he won at Pocono twice, and he drove away to the checkered flag at Martinsville while everybody behind him beat-and-banged on each other. His four wins equaled his total from the previous nine seasons combined. He was nearly as entertaining off the track, as he joined Twitter and turned 140 characters into an art form. But more than the wins and the tweeting, Earnhardt's season thrilled Junior Nation because it signaled the return of the confident Dale Earnhardt Jr . In 2014, he lived and breathed the exuberance that first made him so popular and then disappeared when his career went into the toilet. Few public figures, in sports or anywhere else, are as transparent as Dale Jr. He opens his mouth and the truth comes out. If his mouth doesn't betray his true feelings, his body language does. He couldn't fake it if he tried. So even more important than the results is the manner in which he achieved them -- with a strutting, head-up, eyes forward, let's-do-this bravado, as opposed to the Dale Jr. who sulked around the garage from 2007-2011, looking at his feet, sure his car would stink before he even got in it. He lost his swagger and believed he would never find it again. And so he wallowed, year after frustrating year. Everyone had brilliant ideas about how to fix him except him. For Earnhardt, the difference between wanting to and doing is the difference between doubt and confidence, and for years he didn't believe in himself or in his cars. He looked at his race car and saw a plodding tank, and he looked in the mirror and saw a driver who couldn't drive it fast if it were a rocket ship. He fumbled through seasons like a man looking for clothes in a dark closet. He had no idea what he was pulling out, and he was stuck wearing it regardless. He tumbled to 25th in 2009 and 21st in 2010 and even those miserable stats only hint at how far he had fallen in his own head, from title contender to also-ran. He wondered if his career as a competitive driver was over. And then an amazing thing happened. Team owner Rick Hendrick gave him Steve Letarte as a crew chief before the 2011 season. Letarte arrived on Earnhardt Jr.'s porch an hour or so after getting the job. He had just finished a winless season as Jeff Gordon 's crew chief and wasn't overflowing with confidence either. Each needed to look the other in the eye and size him up. Are you going to take me back to where I belong? As Letarte entered Dale Jr.'s house, he immediately put his new driver at ease and started putting him back together again. Before they ever went to the track together, Letarte insisted on rules nobody had ever been able to enforce with Junior. Letarte told him to show up before practice to talk about the car and to stay afterward until Letarte didn't need him anymore. It sounded like drudgery to Junior. And the results were slow to come, at first. He hit everything but the scoring pylon that year in Speedweeks. Then he was slow after that. Before a race in Las Vegas, his confidence still shot, Junior forced himself to stay and listen to and talk with Letarte and the engineers. The next day, the car was as fast as any he had driven in years. From then through 2013, hints of the old Earnhardt came back. His average finish improved dramatically; it was a career best 10.9 in 2012, a far cry from his career worst in 2009 (23.2). But he visited Victory Lane just once in that stretch, in 2012. In 2013, only a blown engine in the first Chase race kept him out of title contention. He couldn't wait to start the 2014 season and immediately showed why. He drove a brilliant Daytona 500 , passing high and low and early and late and with speed and cunning. He spent most of the rest of the season at or near the top of the leaderboard. For the first time since 2004, he had a legit title chance. Those hopes evaporated with back-to-back finishes of 39th at Kansas and 20th at Charlotte in the 30th and 31st races of the season. He wound up eighth in points . But to measure him only by where he finished in points is to miss the point entirely. The way to measure the new (and getting older) Dale Jr. is against the old (and forever younger) Dale Jr. and the one in the middle. He no longer resembles the one in the middle. The new and old have a lot in common, and the key difference is this one has confidence based on wisdom and experience rather than the ignorance of youth. The highlight of Earnhardt's season came after his win at Martinsville. A win there yields an iconic grandfather clock trophy, which Earnhardt had coveted for as long as he could remember. For his Hendrick Motorsports team, it came within days of the 10-year anniversary of a Hendrick Motorsports team plane crash that killed 10 people, including Hendrick's brother, son and two nieces. Earnhardt climbed from his car in Victory Lane and unleashed an utterly captivating stream-of-consciousness interview soaked through with joy. He was out of breath when he started talking. Not from driving, he said, from celebrating. He bounced from the bucket-list delight of winning a clock to heartfelt empathy of the magnitude of winning at that place on that day. "I lost my daddy a long time ago and I know how hard that is," Junior said. "I can't imagine losing the magnitude of people Rick lost. My heart goes out to him during this weekend. And I love that his cars are good here and give him a victory. And this honors them." He talked afterward about putting the clock right by the front door of his house so everybody who came over would see it. When it chimes, it heralds a great win that capped an unforgettable comeback season. SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Hendrick Motorsports driver talks offseason plans, 2015 goals RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated Kasey Kahne had an up-and-down 2014. The 34-year-old driver won for a third consecutive year at Hendrick Motorsports , notching the victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the penultimate race of NASCAR's regular season. That late win vaulted the No. 5 team into the Chase and ensured that all four of Hendrick's teams were in it. But Kahne and longtime crew chief Kenny Francis didn't consistently flash the speed that their fans have been accustomed to seeing. The rumor mill began churning with talk of Keith Rodden possibly leaving Chip Ganassi Racing and returning to HMS next year to lead Kahne's team. That move was confirmed shortly after Homestead, as was a new three-year-deal for Kahne at Hendrick Motorsports . NASCAR ILLUSTRATED: What do you have planned for the offseason, anything you're particularly looking forward to? KASEY KAHNE: I'm excited mainly just to have a little break. I need a break away from racing. Looking forward to going home for a few days back to Washington in Enumclaw, hitting a Seahawks game and then heading to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for a week to ski, snowmobile and shop. I'm looking forward to that. NI: Your Atlanta win was the high point of the season. How would you describe the relief of getting into the Chase? KAHNE: It was definitely a highlight as a team and stepping up and working together. Getting a win that night was really nice for us, nice to make the Chase and get in. But I think the win meant more than anything just to show that we're capable if we do things right. When we do things right, we're still capable and we have a lot to look forward to in the future. NI: What are your thoughts on the new Chase format now that you've been through it? KAHNE: It's been really interesting and I personally like it because both winning and consistent teams will advance. In each round, both have advanced, so to me it's kind of like the points system but it's also like a playoff. So I like that. And it's also put more pressure on the teams and drivers every single race, which has created more drama. The fighting, the running into each other, I think it's really made it more intense. It's actually been pretty damn exciting. NI: You and Russell Wilson raised $220,000 in two days during "The Drive" this summer. What does the future look like for the event? KAHNE: Russell's excited and I'm excited about our first tournament together and the first time we worked together on charity. We're gonna do it again next year and try to make it an annual deal. The golf tournament was great and the course and the people involved. We expect to grow it and want to work and make sure it's bigger and better each year. RELATED: Kahne, Super Bowl MVP team up for 'The Drive' NI: What specific areas of your team's performance need to be better in 2015? KAHNE: Really the first thing I look at is speed in practice, qualifying, race. We don't have those fast laps like we've always had in the past. We have to look at that; I have to look at that, we have to look at that as a team. Our pit stops have to be better. You can't lose spots every time off pit road and expect to do well in this series. It's way too competitive. I think both of those things and just the communication and working together, normal things that you have to have as a team. I just think we all need to get a little better at that. I think it will all take care of itself once we get the speed back, once we know we’re putting up fast laps whenever we're on the track. SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Six-time series champion will be in New York City on Wednesday to promote the Chase RELATED: Play Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize MORE: Full rundown of where each driver will be for Chase Across North America Jimmie Johnson didn't compete in his foundation's triathlon Sunday morning, but that appears to be the only alteration to the schedule this week for the six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. Before leaving for New York City on Tuesday, Johnson said his team did find an issue that could have been related to how he felt following his eighth-place finish at Richmond International Raceway . "The team found an issue with the cooling system for my helmet," Johnson said in a Chicagoland pre-race team release. "Basically, it was blowing warm air. It's nice to have a good idea as to what went wrong and why I got so hot in the race car. It's a newer system that we've implemented, so we're just going back to our old faithful system that's worked for years and years. We should have the problem rectified." On Monday, Hendrick Motorsports officials said that Johnson was expected to fulfill his duties as one of 16 participants in this year's Chase Across North America that kicks off Wednesday. As part of the media tour promoting the 10-race Chase, Johnson is scheduled to be in New York City where he will appear on NBC's "Today" show, NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," the nationally syndicated talk show "Live! with Kelly and Michael" as well as "Power Lunch" on CNBC. The 38-year-old Johnson spent approximately 90 minutes in the infield care center at Richmond International Raceway following Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400, where he was treated for dehydration. Sunday, the health-conscious Johnson attended The Jimmie Johnson Foundation's latest wellness challenge, the Lake Davidson Sprint Triathlon. While he did not compete in the event, he was on hand to greet and mingle with the participants. Johnson, the defending Sprint Cup Series champion and a winner of three Sprint Cup races this year, finished eighth at Richmond. He climbed from his car on pit road without assistance, but was suffering cramps in his legs. "I sat in the car and was talking to my guys about the run and having a good race," Johnson said Saturday night after exiting the care center. "I started to cramp a little bit in my legs, so I figured I would just get out of the car and as I climbed out … the cramping got far worse. "Then standing outside the car I got kind of dizzy so I wanted to sit down. Once I sat down the cramping got worse." Each of the remaining 15 Chase drivers will be visiting 15 different cities (one driver per city) including Mexico City and Toronto on Wednesday for the Chase Across North America promotion. Every Chase market will feature one of the drivers, with additional appearances in San Antonio, Los Angeles, New York and Bristol, Conn., headquarters of ESPN. This year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup gets underway Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway with the running of the MyAFibStory.com 400 (ESPN, 2 p.m. ET). Johnson is fourth in the standings following the resetting of points after the Richmond race. Brad Keselowski , the 2012 champion, is the points leader. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
After successful debut, playoff system will get time to take root
NASCAR's Deterrence System classifies six different levels of penalties
Four-time winner in 2014 endorses Gordon's suggested tweak of new format DORAL, Fla. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . didn't exactly have a front-row seat for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup finale's championship battle, finishing 14th in the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway . But a day later and having had some time to reflect on the new playoff format's conclusion, NASCAR's most popular driver said he thought it was an invigorating success. "I thought it couldn't have gone any better for NASCAR," Earnhardt Jr. said Monday at the Trump National Doral, site of the NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series awards banquet later that night. "I always go back to thinking about how I ran and what I could've done, but looking at the event as a whole, I thought it was great for NASCAR. I thought the right guy won the championship and I thought it was good to have a mix of different seasons, if you will -- you had the guy with no wins and all the consistency, you had the guy with one win, a couple of guys with multiple wins, youth and experience. Everything across the board was represented and we got to see it play out." Kevin Harvick stormed to the front on fresher tires at the end of the Ford EcoBoost 400 , denying runner-up Ryan Newman for the victory and the championship, as Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano also faded late in their bids for the title. But all four hopefuls spent time contending for the lead, and the rash of yellow flags at the end forced their crew chiefs into varying pit-road gambles down the stretch. "I thought those cautions at the end changed the strategy, but they were all legit," Earnhardt said. "There was a lot of stuff happening on the race track and it was an exciting race even without the championship battle involved, but I loved the way it played out. I think that NASCAR has got to be really pleased." Earnhardt's own path in this year's Chase ended in the Contender Round elimination race at Talladega Superspeedway , but he made the most of his ousting with his first Martinsville Speedway victory the following week. While he wasn't able to race for the title, he said that the system provided plenty of memorable moments, culminating in Sunday night's finale. Jeff Gordon , Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate and a four-time series champion, said he would like to see tweaks adopted for future postseasons, including a separate points system for Chase drivers that wouldn't penalize mistakes relative to the balance of the field, potentially awarding points for the rounds of 16, 12, 8 and 4 on a scale that equals the amount of title-eligible drivers remaining (16 points for first, 15 for second, 14 for third and so on). Earnhardt said that such a proposal might prompt even more intensity, a tough task after a season full of high-pressure moments. "I like his idea as far as us racing under a separate points system where you have 16 drivers and you get 16 to 1 point regardless of your finishing position, you're just graded against the drivers in the Chase," Earnhardt said. "I think that's fair and I think that would be easy and simple for the fans. I don't particularly know that it would've played out any differently, but I believe yes, it'd be simpler and not so challenging for the drivers. It would allow us a little freedom to race a bit more aggressively, knowing that well, I'm just going to cost myself a couple of points versus 20. Much different scope and you can definitely race with more freedom because I felt, at times, stymied a little bit, by my ability to go out there and be aggressive. I felt sort of hog-tied and racing with too much caution, just trying to do X instead of thinking about Y and Z. "I like that idea a ton, and I think you still maintain the integrity of the system we have and the excitement of it." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
A statistical look ahead to the season finale at Homestead RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (November 10, 2014) – Below is a look at the Championship 4 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and beyond at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida going into the Ford EcoBoost 400 on November 16. ESPN’s coverage begins at 2 p.m. (ET) and the race is scheduled for 3 p.m. (ET). HOMESTEAD-MIAMI-SPECIFIC STATISTICS 1 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.7 2014 Rundown · One win, seven top fives, 17 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 14.5 · Led 17 races for 313 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · Two wins, four top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 11.2 in nine races · Average Running Position of 14.0, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 93.4, eighth-best · 88 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · Series-high 826 Green Flag Passes · 1,406 Laps in the Top 15 (58.5%), 11th-most 2 - Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 106.7 2014 Rundown · Five wins, 16 top fives, 22 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.2 · Led 22 races for 993 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · One top 10; one pole · Average finish of 20.8 in five races · Average Running Position of 19.5, 19th-best · Driver Rating of 71.2, 22nd-best 3 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 86.1 2014 Rundown · Four top fives, 15 top 10s · Average finish of 13.0 · Led 7 races for 41 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · One top five, four top 10s · Average finish of 17.0 in 12 races · Average Running Position of 13.8, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 84.8, 13th-best · 696 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · 1,520 Laps in the Top 15 (63.2%), ninth-most · 426 Quality Passes, third-most 4 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.9 2014 Rundown · Four wins, 13 top fives, 19 top 10s; eight poles · Average finish of 13.3 · Led 26 races for 2,083 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · Five top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 8.1 in 13 races · Average Running Position of 10.9, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 99.1, fourth-best · 83 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 681 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 161.857 mph, fifth-fastest · 1,805 Laps in the Top 15 (75.1%), fourth-most · 398 Quality Passes, sixth-most 5 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 103.6 2014 Rundown · Six wins, 16 top fives, 19 top 10s; five poles · Average finish of 12.9 · Led 27 races for 1,540 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · One top 10 · Average finish of 17.0 in six races · Average Running Position of 16.8, 14th-best · Driver Rating of 80.3, 16th-best 6 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.4 2014 Rundown · Four wins, 14 top fives, 22 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 10.4 · Led 25 races for 922 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · One win, seven top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 10.6 in 15 races · Average Running Position of 12.5, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 96.5, sixth-best · 91 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · 678 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 161.852 mph, sixth-fastest · 1,734 Laps in the Top 15 (72.1%), sixth-most · 442 Quality Passes, second-most 7 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 92.8 2014 Rundown · 13 top fives, 21 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 13.4 · Led 20 races for 529 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · One win, four top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 16.5 in 14 races · Average Running Position of 8.6, third-best · Driver Rating of 109.8, third-best · 123 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.160 mph, third-fastest · 1,984 Laps in the Top 15 (82.5%), second-most · 364 Quality Passes, 10th-most 8 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 89.7 2014 Rundown · One win, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 17.0 · Led 15 races for 453 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · One top five, three top 10s · Average finish of 21.3 in nine races · Average Running Position of 14.8, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 93.4, seventh-best · 122 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 1,579 Laps in the Top 15 (65.7%), seventh-most · 396 Quality Passes, seventh-most 9 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 81.4 2014 Rundown · Two wins, seven top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 14.5 · Led 11 races for 135 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · Two wins, five top fives, seven top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 6.6 in 10 races · Series-best Average Running Position of 8.0 · Series-best Driver Rating of 115.5 · Series-high 266 Fastest Laps Run · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 162.432 mph · Series-high 2,057 Laps in the Top 15 (85.6%) · 382 Quality Passes, eighth-most 10 - Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.7 2014 Rundown · Four wins, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s · Average finish of 12.1 · Led 17 races for 383 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · One top five, two top 10s · Average finish of 20.7 in 14 races · Average Running Position of 19.1, 18th-best · Driver Rating of 76.9, 19th-best · 134 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 815 Green Flag Passes, second-most 11 - AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Hungry Jack Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 71.1 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 19.6 · Led 5 races for 68 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · One top five, two top 10s · Average finish of 15.4 in five races · Average Running Position of 20.0, 21st-best · Driver Rating of 77.6, 17th-best 12 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 78.5 2014 Rundown · Three top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 15.7 · Led 7 races for 110 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · Three wins, four top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 15.2 in 12 races · Average Running Position of 15.6, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 88.7, 12th-best · 103 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · 798 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 161.629 mph, 11th-fastest · 1,280 Laps in the Top 15 (53.2%), 12th-most · 302 Quality Passes, 12th-most 13 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 99.0 2014 Rundown · Four wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.5 · Led 17 races for 1,310 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · Four top fives, eight top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 14.8 in 13 races · Average Running Position of 13.0, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 96.6, fifth-best · 84 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 161.978 mph, fourth-fastest · 1,775 Laps in the Top 15 (73.8%), fifth-most · 402 Quality Passes, fifth-most 14 - Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 87.8 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 19.2 · Led 14 races for 219 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · One win, four top fives, five top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 19.8 in 13 races · Average Running Position of 22.9, 25th-best · Driver Rating of 72.0, 21st-best 15 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 87.3 2014 Rundown · One win, three top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 17.8 · Led 12 races for 218 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · One top five, four top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 15.2 in 10 races · Average Running Position of 12.9, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 90.0, 10th-best · 106 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · 763 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 161.658 mph, 10th-fastest · 1,470 Laps in the Top 15 (61.1%), 10th-most · 370 Quality Passes, ninth-most 16 - Aric Almirola (No. 43 Smithfield Foods Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 72.1 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 21.5 · Led 5 races for 23 laps Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook: · One top five, two top 10s · Average finish of 15.5 in four races · Average Running Position of 18.0, 15th-best · Driver Rating of 80.5, 15th-best The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2014 Championship Four at Homestead-Miami Speedway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Denny Hamlin 9 0 2 4 5 0 11.2 93.4 2 Joey Logano 5 1 0 0 1 1 20.8 71.2 3 Ryan Newman 12 0 0 1 4 2 17.0 84.8 4 Kevin Harvick 13 0 0 5 11 0 8.1 99.1 * – Based on last nine races at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2005 – 2013). Homestead-Miami Speedway: History · Groundbreaking for Homestead-Miami Dade Motorsports Complex – as the track was originally named – began Aug. 24, 1993. · The first race held at Homestead-Miami Speedway was a NASCAR Nationwide Series event on Nov. 5, 1995 – won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett . · The original configuration was a four-turn, rectangular oval based on Indianapolis Motor Speedway 's layout. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Homestead was held on Nov. 14, 1999 – won by Tony Stewart . · 2002 was the first season of the Championship Weekend at Homestead, with all three of NASCAR’s national series holding their season finale at the same track. Notebook · Since the inception of the position-based points system in 1975, only four drivers have made up a points deficit in the season finale: Richard Petty in 1979 (made up two points on Darrell Waltrip ), Alan Kulwicki in 1992 (made up 30 points on Davey Allison ), Jimmie Johnson in 2010 (made up 15 points on Denny Hamlin ) and Tony Stewart in 2012 (made up three points on Carl Edwards ). · There have been 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Homestead-Miami Speedway , one per season since 1999. · 113 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Homestead; 89 in more than one. · Two drivers have made all 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Homestead: Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon . · David Green won the first Coors Light pole at Homestead in 1999 at a speed of 155.759 mph (34.669 sec.). · There have been 11 different Coors Light pole winners, led by Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards , Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne with two each. · Youngest Homestead-Miami pole winner: Joey Logano (11/18/2012 – 22 years, 5 months, 25 days). · Oldest Homestead-Miami pole winner: Bill Elliott (11/11/2001 – 46 years, 1 month, 3 days). · Jamie McMurray (November, 2003) and David Reutimann (November, 2008) won their first career Coors Light poles at Homestead-Miami Speedway . · There have been nine different NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners at Homestead-Miami; three have won more than once, led by Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart with three each. Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin (two each) are the only other drivers with multiple wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway . · Of the three drivers with multiple wins at Homestead, Tony Stewart is the only driver to win in two different manufacturers: Pontiac (1999, 2000) and Chevrolet (2011). · Two of the 15 (13.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Homestead-Miami Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole: Bill Elliott (2001) and Kurt Busch (2002). · Five of the 15 (33.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Homestead have been won from the front row: two from the pole and three from second-place. · 10 of the 15 (66.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Homestead have been won from a starting position inside the top 10. · 5 of the 15 (33.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Homestead have been won from a starting position outside the top 10 – most recently - Jeff Gordon (15 th -place starting position; 2012). · Denny Hamlin won the 2009 race from the 38th-place starting position, the furthest back a race winner has started at HMS. · Two drivers have won consecutive races at Homestead-Miami: Tony Stewart (1999 - 2000) and Greg Biffle (2004 – 2006, three straight). · Carl Edwards leads the series in average finish at Homestead with a 6.600; only two other drivers have an average finish inside the top 10: Kevin Harvick (8.078) and Martin Truex Jr. (9.222). · Roush Fenway Racing leads the series in wins at Homestead with seven, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing with five. · Youngest Homestead winner: Kurt Busch (11/17/2002 – 24 years, 3 months, 13 days). · Oldest Homestead winner: Bill Elliott (11/11/2001 – 46 years, 1 month, 3 days). · Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick lead the series in runner-up finishes at Homestead with two each. · Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at Homestead with seven; followed by Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick with five each. · Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick lead the series in top-10 finishes at Homestead with 11 each; followed by Jimmie Johnson with eight. · Eight of the nine NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Homestead-Miami participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Tony Stewart (1999) is the only driver to win at Homestead in his first appearance. · Dale Earnhardt Jr. lead the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway without visiting Victory Lane at 14. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Homestead was the (4/10/2010) race won by Greg Biffle with a MOV of 0.017 seconds. · Danica Patrick became the first female driver to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway last season; starting 24 th and finishing 20 th . NASCAR in Florida · There have been 176 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among eight tracks in Florida. Track Name City NSCS Daytona International Speedway Daytona Beach 135 Homestead-Miami Speedway Homestead 15 Palm Beach Speedway W. Palm Beach 7 Speedway Park Jacksonville 6 Five Flags Speedway Pensacola 1 Golden Gate Speedway Tampa 1 Titusville-Cocoa Speedway Titusville 1 · 173 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Florida. · There have been 10 race winners from Florida in NASCAR’s three national series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Fireball Roberts 33 0 0 LeeRoy Yarbrough 14 0 0 Marshall Teague 7 0 0 Joe Nemechek 4 16 0 Bobby Johns 2 0 0 David Reutimann 2 1 1 Aric Almirola 1 1 2 Shorty Rollins 1 0 0 Rick Wilson 0 2 0 Joey Coulter 0 0 1 Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup: Homestead-Miami Speedway · Homestead-Miami Speedway has been a part of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup since the playoff’s inception in 2004. This season the track will host its 11th Chase event. · The winner of the Homestead-Miami Chase race has gone on to win the championship during the Chase era once: Tony Stewart (2011). · Greg Biffle leads the series in Chase race wins at Homestead-Miami with three (2004 – 2006); followed by Carl Edwards with two (2008, 2010). · The worst finish in a Chase race by the eventual series champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway is 15th (three times), Tony Stewart in 2005, Jimmie Johnson in 2008 and Brad Keselowski in 2012. · Chase Contenders have won seven of the 10 previous Chase races at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Two non-Chase contenders have won a Homestead-Miami Chase race: Greg Biffle (2004 and 2006) and Denny Hamlin (2013). · Four of the 10 previous Chase races at Homestead the eventual series champion has finished in the top five. · Roush Fenway Racing leads the series in Chase race wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway with six, including five consecutive: Greg Biffle (2004 – 2006), Matt Kenseth (2007) and Carl Edwards (2008). · Ford leads the series in Chase wins at Homestead with six; followed by Chevrolet with two. · The most dominant performance by a Chase race winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway is Carl Edwards victory in 2010. He posted a Perfect Driver Rating of 150.0 and led 190 of the 267 laps (71.1% of his laps completed) - most by a Chase race winner at Homestead. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation