Talladega history shows second in points far from secure
RELATED: Series standings " Chase Grid " All you need to know for Talladega The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup elimination-style format is in its third year and the 2016 postseason marks the last time that Talladega Superspeedway will serve as a cutoff race for the Round of 12 as the playoff field drops to eight drivers. The Talladega and Kansas Chase races will flip-flop their spots on the schedule in 2017, making Kansas the Round of 12 cutoff race. In previous years, "The Big One" has wreaked havoc on the postseason picture, leaving drivers who looked like near-locks to advance on the outside looking in as the championship battle continued. Bad luck at Talladega always seems to find at least one Chase driver. In the past two years, the driver second in points (and the first driver not locked in by a win) entering Talladega has failed to advance. Both times that has been a Joe Gibbs Racing driver; Kyle Busch in 2014, Denny Hamlin in 2015. This year, Matt Kenseth , a JGR driver, enters Sunday's Hellmann's 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) in that same position. Will bad luck strike JGR three years in a row? NASCAR.com examines how the Chase eliminations played out at Talladega the past two years. (*) on chart indicates that driver won a Round of 12 race to lock up a spot in the Round of 8.
No. 78 part confiscated in pre-qualifying inspection at Talladega
RELATED: Truex scores pole for Talladega TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Martin Truex Jr . will start on the pole in Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway . It was clear sailing around the 2.66-mile track for the driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota on Saturday. Meanwhile, dark clouds had gathered elsewhere. NASCAR officials confiscated the left-front jack bolt from the team during pre-qualifying inspection, and will take the piece back to the sanctioning body’s Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. "They had a jack bolt that we didn’t feel like met specifications that we have in the rule book," Scott Miller, Senior Vice President of Competition for NASCAR, said. "Not a real competitive advantage. We will take it back … analyze everything and decide what we are going to do. "It's no different than … cars that fail the templates and have to go back through. It's our job to officiate the sport and this part and the rest of today’s activities are no different than what we do every weekend." RELATED: JGR cars have to go back through inspection Crew chief Cole Pearn said the bolt was the wrong size, not hollow as was initially reported. "It was a mistake," he said. "We fixed it; we found another one and moved on. Stuff like that happens all the time. We're not perfect. I know people like to think that we’re brilliant geniuses that have malicious plans to cheat the system somehow, but sometimes we're just stupid and make mistakes. "That's really just what happened and hopefully it doesn't turn into anything more than that." Miller said such a violation could result in a points penalty, impacting the team’s Chase status, but that it wasn't always the case. "I would say it would be unlikely but it has to go through our process," he said. "We don't typically do that on a weekend. Because this is the playoffs everybody has a heightened sense of everything but this is no different than things we have done all year and we will treat this one just like we do all year long." Both Pearn and NASCAR said that the issue was only with one bolt. "All other three corners were fine," Pearn said. "We're at Talladega; maybe if you're at Martinsville, and you have all four hollowed out …" Truex edged fellow Chase driver Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske No. 2 Ford) for the top spot. Matt Kenseth ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Chase Elliott ( Hendrick Motorsports ) and Greg Biffle ( Roush Fenway Racing ) completed the top five as the lineup for the 40-car field was set. "All the crazy talk going on today is nonsense," Truex said. "I think people speculate on things and don't really know what they are. "The jack bolt issues is really not a big issue. It's not hollow like what was reported. (NASCAR) didn't take both, they just took the left front so it's not a big issue." The 78 team did lose its pit stall selection for a fourth warning related to inspections.
Versatile pit crews help save points after wrecks
RELATED: Keselowski's Chase chances take hit after Hamlin contact Despite the specializing of today's pit crew members to be bigger, stronger and faster, they still need the ability and skill to help during a wreck situation. The points are tight this year and every position counts. Teams that can get their driver back on the track after a wreck have a chance to gain a few more points during a race weekend, and that could be the difference between advancing or going home. And it's not always a major crash that crews have to be ready for. This past weekend in Kansas, both Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin had issues that could be fixed on the track, and their pit crews were called on to help. Simple stuff like a flat tire or nose damage can cause all kind of trouble, and it's up to the pit crew to fix it and keep the laps lost to a minimum. So you might be asking, isn't that the job of the mechanics? Yes, yes it is. In most cases the best people to be working on a car are the mechanics. No pit crew member will argue that. The mechanics in NASCAR are some of the best in the world, and working under pressure is what they do best. So if the issue is bad enough to bring the car behind the wall, then mechanics usually handle the job. When it comes to doing repairs on pit road and trying not to lose a lap, having a pit crew that can pit and then fix saves time. And pit crews practice these situations just like they would a four-tire change. Heading to Talladega there are many teams on the bubble. You never know when advancing or not comes down to just a few points , and those are the points that can be saved by savvy pit crew members and great mechanics. For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com . &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR simplifies manufacturer points system
Scoring will mirror system used for drivers for all three national series
Chase cutoff in Talladega means drivers swinging for the fences
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Put into a position with nothing to lose and everything to gain, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers Daniel Hemric and John Hunter Nemechek have a simple plan for this weekend. Swing for the fences, they both said. Saturday's fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway is the final race of the opening round of the inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase. Only one Chase participant, William Byron, scored a win in the previous two races, thus earning an automatic berth in the Round of 6 that begins next weekend at Martinsville Speedway . Hemric, driver of the No. 19 Ford for Brad Keselowski Racing, is seventh in points , 15 points outside Johnny Sauter in sixth. Nemechek, driver of the No. 8 Nemco Motorsports Chevrolet, is eighth, tied with Hemric for points and also 15 points outside the cutoff. "Everything here is kind of out of your hands," Nemechek, twice a winner this season, said Friday. "Being at Talladega in the spot that we're in … being 15 points out, I think it's way better for me to be able to come here … where anything can happen. "If we finish top five and someone else got caught up in somebody else's wreck and we didn't, we'd have a shot to make it compared to a mile-and-a-half track or short track where they can ride around all day and kind of salvage a finish where they make sure they make it. "I haven't quite called in any favors or anything like that. If we were able to qualify up front and run up front all day, as long as we put ourselves in a position to be top four in, where you can make a move coming to the start/finish line, I think you'll be all right. But who knows?" Christopher Bell , two-time series champion Matt Crafton , Ben Kennedy and Timothy Peters are second through fifth in points . All have won at least once this year, except for Peters. But he's won here at Talladega the last two times the series visited the 2.66-mile track. "In order to win now, we've just got to keep doing what we're doing and not change anything at this point," Hemric said. "All we can do here is control what we can control, go into it approaching every situation that way, whether it's practice, qualifying or the race. If we execute on all ends, I see no reason why we shouldn't have a shot at it. "At the end of the day … I think I would rather be on the end we're on. Obviously if you've won, that's even better. But the situation where we can go down swinging and not playing defense all day, I think, is going to be a good thing for (Nemechek) and I, both."
With uncertain future, Mears focused on '16 season
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Casey Mears says he and the Germain Racing No. 13 team are concentrating their efforts only on the remaining five races of 2016 and can't speak about next year. "Not at the moment," Mears said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway . "Right now we're just focused on what we talked about at the beginning of the season. Focus on the remainder of this year first and foremost." Mears, 38, has one victory in 483 career starts at NASCAR's top level, capturing the 2007 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . He has a best points finish of 14th in 2006. Rumors have Germain opting to replace Mears next season, possibly with NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Ty Dillon . Dillon's Richard Childress Racing organization has a technical alliance with Germain. Geico, the No. 13 team's primary sponsor, is signed through 2018. In many cases, sponsor and driver contracts run concurrently. "As I know more, we can talk about it," Mears said. "But right now we're just focused on getting through this weekend." Mears enters Sunday's Hellmann’s 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) 28th in points . He has five top-10 finishes in 26 careers starts at the 2.66-mile track.
Grant Enfinger earns first win in Talladega truck thriller
RELATED: Race results " Updated Truck Series Chase Grid TALLADEGA, Ala. – In the race that decided the lineup for the Round of 6 in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase, Alabama native Grant Enfinger stole the thunder from the playoff drivers in Saturday's fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway . With a strong push from GMS Racing teammate and Chase driver Ben Kennedy after a restart on Lap 93 of 94, Enfinger surged to the front and stayed there in the face of a last-lap challenger from another teammate, Spencer Gallagher , who came home second, .108 seconds behind the winner. The victory was Enfinger's first in 13 career starts in the series. "It's unbelievable," said Enfinger, who led the first-ever 1-2 finish for GMS. "It's my home track. It's just so special." RELATED: 'Big One' shakes up Trucks Chase The race reduced the NCWTS Chase field from eight drivers to six. Third-place finisher Timothy Peters was the highest finisher among those who advanced, followed by Kennedy in fifth place, as GMS drivers claimed four of the top seven positions. "I got behind Grant Enfinger and tried to push him as much as I could," said Kennedy, who shoved his teammate's No. 24 Chevrolet to the front in the outside lane. "I knew the outside line had a little bit of something. I pushed him as much as I could, and once he got out to the lead, that truck was so fast out there. "I thought about trying to make it three-wide, but I didn't really have the momentum to carry it around him." Also moving on to the Round of 6 were sixth-place finisher Christopher Bell , GMS driver Johnny Sauter (seventh on Saturday), 10th-place finisher William Byron (who already had clinched a spot with a victory in the opening Chase race at New Hampshire) and Matt Crafton (who came home 22nd after his blown engine caused the seventh and final caution on Lap 89). WATCH: Nemechek out after his engine expires John Hunter Nemechek was eliminated from the Chase early in the race. The engine in his No. 8 Chevrolet expired on Lap 13, and Nemechek retired in 32nd place. Daniel Hemric , who entered the race below the Chase cut line, remained there thanks to three separate incidents on Saturday, the most costly a 14-car wreck on Lap 59 that severely damaged his No. 19 Ford. Hemric finished 11th, but fell 13 points short of Crafton, whose engine problems occurred too late to be of help to Hemric, given that 10 other trucks already were in the garage when Crafton’s motor blew. "Today was completely full of trials and trying to overcome things," Hemric said. "All we can do now is try to win races. It wasn’t for lack of effort. We got involved in three or four different situations there and never had the opportunity to get back to the front." Sunoco Rookie Rico Abreu finished fourth, his second top-five of the season and his best result in the series on pavement. Byron is the top seed in the Round of 6, followed by Bell, Peters, Crafton, Kennedy and Sauter. All six drivers start the Round of 6 with points reset to 3,000. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Top consecutive 10-lap averages for Talladega
Final practice: Results Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 18 Kyle Busch (C) 11 20 195.398 2 20 Matt Kenseth (C) 11 20 195.348 3 78 Martin Truex Jr . (C) 3 12 195.314 4 11 Denny Hamlin (C) 3 12 195.314 5 5 Kasey Kahne 2 11 193.453 6 99 * Ryan Reed (i) 2 11 193.394 7 88 Alex Bowman (i) 2 11 193.376 8 48 Jimmie Johnson (C) 2 11 193.348 9 24 Chase Elliott # (C) 2 11 193.133 Practice 1: Results Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 16 Greg Biffle 2 11 195.657 2 44 Brian Scott 4 13 194.855 3 95 Michael McDowell 2 11 194.531 4 4 Kevin Harvick # (C) 4 13 194.201 5 43 Aric Almirola 3 12 194.173 6 88 Alex Bowman (i) 8 17 193.979 7 22 Joey Logano (C) 5 14 193.941 8 24 Chase Elliott # (C) 7 16 193.927 9 10 Danica Patrick 3 12 193.909 10 48 Jimmie Johnson (C) 3 12 193.895 11 21 * Ryan Blaney # 3 12 193.886 12 47 AJ Allmendinger 6 15 193.883 13 5 Kasey Kahne 7 16 193.849 14 42 Kyle Larson 7 16 191.233 15 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr . 2 11 191.115 16 6 Trevor Bayne 2 11 191.073 17 3 Austin Dillon (C) 6 15 189.066 18 2 Brad Keselowski (C) 1 10 188.422 19 1 Jamie McMurray 24 33 187.786 20 34 Chris Buescher 1 10 185.131 -- Car must run 10 consecutive laps on the track to be included in the above charts. (C) indicates driver is in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . (#) indicates Sunoco Rookie of the Year Candidate. (*) indicates driver required to qualify on time. (i) indicates ineligible for Sprint Cup championship points .
Roush Fenway Racing to keep Ryan Reed for '17, beyond
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Roush Fenway Racing has signed a multi-year renewal agreement for driver Ryan Reed to continue to pilot the No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Reed, who five years ago was told he would never race again after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, qualified for the 2016 inaugural XFINITY Series Chase and scored his first victory in the series last season at Daytona. "We are very excited to continue our program with Lilly Diabetes," said Reed, who will make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway . "Not only to continue to drive the No. 16, but more importantly, the opportunity to encourage and educate people who are living with diabetes and those who care for them. We will continue to share the message about diabetes awareness, specifically the importance of talking to doctors as well as proper nutrition and daily exercise." Reed will look to make history this weekend as the only driver actively managing his diabetes to race at the Sprint Cup level. The Bakersfield, California native manages his diabetes through a strict diet and exercise program, the use of a wireless glucose monitoring device to provide in-race, real-time data, and consistent communication with his medical team in California. "Through sharing his diabetes story with NASCAR fans throughout the country over the past three years, Ryan has inspired thousands of people affected by diabetes to live healthier lives and take an active role in managing their health. Lilly Diabetes is proud to renew our sponsorship so together we can continue to make a difference in people’s lives," said Mike Mason, vice president, U.S., Lilly Diabetes. "Like NASCAR, Lilly has been an American institution for generations. We introduced the world’s first commercialized insulin in 1923, and our innovative medicines and education programs have helped people with diabetes ever since. This sponsorship is another step forward in our drive to help more people who have the disease or care for someone who does." Reed posted career highs in Chase races at Kentucky and Dover to advance to the ‘Round of 8’ in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase at Charlotte. He is currently only two points outside of the top four, with two races remaining before the series champion is decided in the season finale at Homestead. Roush Fenway Racing is the winningest team in NASCAR history, fielding multiple teams in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series competition with drivers Greg Biffle , Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., Trevor Bayne , Ryan Reed , Chris Buescher and Bubba Wallace. Now in its 29th season, Roush Fenway is a leader in driver development, having launched the careers for many of the top drivers in the sport. Off-track, Roush Fenway is a leader in NASCAR marketing solutions, pioneering motorsport’s first team-focused TV show and producing multiple award-winning digital and experiential marketing campaigns. Roush Fenway is co-owned by Jack Roush, the winningest team owner in NASCAR history and Fenway Sports Group, parent company of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox and English Premier League’s Liverpool F.C. Visit RoushFenway.com, circle on Google+, become a fan on Facebook and Instagram and follow on Twitter at @roushfenway.
JGR cars sent back through Talladega qualifying inspection
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- NASCAR asked three Joe Gibbs Racing teams to make adjustments on their Toyotas just before Coors Light Pole Award qualifying Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway . The cars driven by reigning Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch and his JGR teammates Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth were flagged in the minutes before qualifying. As the cars were being rolled out to the track, NASCAR noticed the right rear quarter panels had been manipulated around the deck lid area. NASCAR inspectors pulled the cars out of line, and the teams corrected the issue before going back through tech. Kenseth led the team with a third-place qualifying effort and will start Sunday's Hellmann's 500 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) from the second row. Hamlin will start eighth. Busch will begin 14th . Carl Edwards , who drove the only JGR car not tagged at inspection, will start 13th . However, Edwards' No. 19 team did lose its pit stall selection for a fourth warning related to inspections. Kenseth's team lost its pit stall selection for the same reason. "The bodies on these cars can be pushed and prodded and these teams are very smart at the areas … for a bunch of little gains," NASCAR's Senior Vice President for Competition Scott Miller said. "It's nothing huge but it's our job to make sure it's even across the board and that's what we do. A little infraction is an infraction, right? "The quarter panels appeared to have been messed with around the deck lid and we brought them back in and rectified it." Busch said after qualifying that he wasn't too concerned with the situation. "Not my problem," Busch said. "I just worry about driving and doing the best I can do there, so did everything right and we ended up exactly where we thought we were going to -- 14th -- so we'll take it. That's fine and we'll go racing tomorrow and see what happens from there." He said his No. 18 Snickers Halloween Toyota didn't really feel any different from Friday practice to Saturday qualifying. "Everything was really the same, you know?" Busch said. "We did some single-car stuff yesterday just barely. Didn't really do a full mock run or anything and taping it down or anything like that, but knew we had decent speed." "... We'd love to be able to finish these things and that's all we've got to worry about tomorrow is being able to capture the right amount of points and be able to move on." &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;