Scoring will mirror system used for drivers for all three national series
Analysis of all 43 cars in Sunday's Kobalt 400 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings 1. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . An 18th-place start was only a temporary stall for the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, who surged to take the lead on Lap 91. He paced the field for a race-high 142 laps and persevered through "an uncomfortable last run" to earn his first Cup win at the 1.5-mile desert oval and his third straight top-two result of the 2015 season. Harvick, now the points leader, has won his past three contests at Phoenix International Raceway , the next stop on the Cup circuit. " WATCH: Harvick discusses the win in Victory Lane 2. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Truex overcame a loose-handling condition midway through the race to record his best LVMS result and earn his third straight top-10 of the year. " READ: Truex's inspirational drive 3. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . As the temperatures increased on the 1.5-mile desert track, the handling of Newman's Chevrolet initially disappeared. He rallied to finish third and capture his best career LVMS result. " WATCH: Newman discusses Vegas finish 4. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Junior showed strength driving the high line, but his late-race lead was cut short by a hard-charging Harvick. "Second, fifth, fourth -- it don't matter (where you finish) if you don't win," said Earnhardt, who now ranks second in the points standings. " WATCH: Junior weighs in on late-race gamble 5. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The left-front of Hamlin's Toyota sustained damage early while he tried to navigate a congested pit road. The impact was enough to affect his initial speed but not his overall performance. He is the biggest mover from the race weekend, improving 11 spots to eighth in the standings. 6. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG-Daugherty Racing. The single-car outfit continues its ascent after Allmendinger wheeled his way to his second straight top-10 result. Allmendinger picked up three spots and now ranks fifth in the standings. 7. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . A tire vibration and subsequent pit road violation could have spelled doom for Keselowski, but he caught a break in both cases. First, the competition caution gave his team a chance to address the vibration. Much later, Jimmie Johnson blew a tire, which prompted the caution and enabled then-beneficiary of the free pass Keselowski to return to the lead lap. The 2012 Champion picks up six spots in the standings, improving to 16th. 8. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . Larson's pit crew performed well, helping the Cup sophomore nab his first top 10 of the season. 9. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth scored his second top-10 of the year after working with his team to solve a loose-handling condition. Another big mover, Kenseth improves eight spots to now rank 10th in the points standings. " See the full Sprint Cup Series standings 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Two pit road speeding penalties couldn't keep Logano down, as the driver led the opening 27 laps prior through the competition caution. The Daytona 500 champion rallied to post his third straight top-10 of the year and ranks third in the points standings. 11. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . McMurray just missed recording his first top-10 of the season and improves seven positions to 25th in the driver standings. 12. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard, who narrowly avoided being collected by Carl Edwards ’ incident on Lap 195, improves four spots in the points standings to 13th. 13. Brian Scott , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport Racing. Scott benefited from the beneficiary of the free pass after a caution on Lap 187 and went on to claim his best career Cup finish. 14. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush-Fenway Racing. Biffle started strong, but encountered a loose-handing condition that hindered his forward progress. Still, he improved two spots in the points standings to 11th. 15. Brian Vickers , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Vickers, in his first race back since open heart surgery, began Sunday's race by thanking his team for not giving up on him. He surged quickly through the field after starting 28th. 16. Regan Smith , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Smith weathered an early pit road penalty and returned to the lead lap as the beneficiary of the free pass after Carl Edwards ’ accident on Lap 195. Smith was running fourth with 17 laps to go and was among the leaders trying to hold out for a late-race caution during the long green-flag stretch. 17. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne could seemingly run any line he wanted at Vegas on Sunday and spent the first half of the event racing inside the top five. His luck faded, though, on Lap 195 when he was traveling the high line and Carl Edwards forced him into the wall. " MORE: Kahne, Edwards clash in Kobalt 400 18. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon, the Coors Light Pole Award winner, had to start from the rear of the field after being involved in an accident with Danica Patrick during final practice. The highs and lows continued for the veteran in his final Vegas race. He improved to crack the top 10 by Lap 143, but sustained critical damage to the nose of his car after bumping Jeb Burton 29 laps later. Burton was trying to avoid being collected when Jimmie Johnson blew a tire. " MORE: Tough day for Gordon in Las Vegas 19. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney recovered from early issues to find speed late in the race and post his best result so far of the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season. 20. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon improved 15 spots to crack the top 10 on Lap 75, but later was dealt a pit road penalty that impacted his team's forward march. 21. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Rear grip was a problem for Bowyer in practice and on Sunday, he constantly reported a tight-handling race car. His team gambled on pit strategy by staying out during late-race, green-flag stops, but Bowyer ultimately had to stop to make it to the end. 22. David Ragan , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Despite qualifying 13th, Ragan started from the rear of the field after slapping the wall during final practice. The team made consistent gains and ran steadily inside the top 25. 23. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Crew chief Donnie Wingo reminded Gilliland that Las Vegas had a history of getting looser as the race continued and encouraged Gilliland to use the driver-adjustable track bar feature. 24. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Late-race gains improved the handling of the No. 9 Ford, and he held on to score his best result at LVMS since 2009. 25. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Although handling was an ongoing issue, Mears' top-25 result keeps him inside the top 10 of the points standings. He is ranked ninth going into next week at Phoenix International Raceway . 26. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola ran as high as ninth on Sunday and raced inside the top 20 until he was clocked going too fast entering pit road at Lap 197. 27. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick's team salvaged her starting spot after she was involved in a last-minute accident in final practice. She reported aero issues on Sunday, which she said made her car easy to turn sideways in traffic. 28. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne struggled to find balance all race long in his Ford, which shifted from a tight- to loose-handling condition as the race unfolded. 29. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse's Vegas run was complicated after he made contact with the wall and then hit a loose tire on pit road. He worked with his team to persevere through the damage. 30. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing . McDowell narrowly avoided colliding with Michael Annett , when Annett lost the handle on his car around Lap 150. Still, McDowell held on to earn his best LVMS finish. 31. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier struggled to make forward progress after being penalized three times throughout the race by the new pit road scoring system . " MORE: Allgaier's car too light in post-race inspection 32. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Although Whitt's team struggled to find the right combination, he held on to achieve his best Las Vegas result. 33. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . A steering box issue compounded initial handling woes for Stewart, who also was dealt an uncontrolled tire violation during a Lap 84 pit stop. 34. Josh Wise , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Wise kept his nose clean during Sunday's race and quietly steered the No. 98 machine to his best result at the 1.5-mile desert track. 35. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. An early pit road violation wasn't insurmountable for Cassill, who went on to post his best Vegas finish. 36. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley finished 16th in Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series race, but struggled to carry that momentum over into the Cup scene. 37. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Moffitt opened the race with promise after posting an eighth-place finish last weekend at the intermediate track of Atlanta Motor Speedway . He qualified 36th and struggled to make up much ground, ultimately brushing the wall as he concluded his first outing at Las Vegas. 38. Brendan Gaughan , No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. The only Las Vegas native in the race -- given the absence of the Busch brothers -- was clocked too fast entering pit road on Lap 76 during green flag stops. 39. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Early in Sunday's contest, Annett wiggled exiting Turn 4 and made hard contact with the wall. Tire smoke prompted him to make an unscheduled pit stop. 40. Jeb Burton , No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . The lone Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate in the field, Burton slowed to avoid Jimmie Johnson 's first incident when he received an inadvertent nudge from behind by veteran Jeff Gordon . 41. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson led 45 laps during the first half of Sunday's race and appeared poised to contend for his fifth Las Vegas victory when tire issues arose. Two blown tires within 14 laps of one another sent Johnson to the garage at Lap 186. " MORE: Tire trouble ruins Johnson's day at Vegas 42. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards' promising run was cut short Sunday when his car slid up the track and made contact with Kahne. Edwards almost saved his car from a subsequent spin, but ultimately retreated to the garage with a busted oil cooler. " MORE: Edwards, Kahne clash at Las Vegas 43. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . An engine issue on Lap 28 dashed Bowman's hopes of continuing the momentum he started last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway . 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
Driver offers idea for tweak to Chase scoring system
RELATED: Full coverage of Gordon's last race Ray Evernham does more than just hope Jeff Gordon can close out his career by capturing a fifth NASCAR premier series title Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). He expects it. "Absolutely. No question," Evernham said in a telephone interview with NASCAR.com earlier this week. "All he has to do is be Jeff Gordon one more time. If he can take the 23 years of who he's been and be that one more time, those guys are in trouble." Who Gordon has been is one of the sport's most dominating drivers, with four championships -- fourth most in series history -- and 93 victories (third overall and tops among active drivers). Evernham speaks from experience. From 1992, when Gordon made his premier series debut in the season-ending race at Atlanta Motor Speedway , through 1999, Evernham was the team’s crew chief, orchestrating a game plan that took the Hendrick Motorsports team, and Gordon, to the very top of the sport. Standing between Gordon and a fifth title are three other drivers -- defending series champion Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), four-time race winner Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ). RELATED: Road to Homestead for the Championship 4 Gordon is the only driver to advance to the final round by winning one of the previous round's three races -- scoring a ninth career victory at Martinsville Speedway . The winners of the remaining two Eliminator Round races were Gordon's teammates, six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr . "I know (crew chief) Alan Gustafson and that group have worked incredibly hard on that car for him and I've always said you're only limited by how much time you have to prepare," Evernham said. "And I really believe that those guys have had more time to focus on that car than the other teams. "Everybody else said they could (focus on Homestead) but they couldn't." Harvick has been in this situation before, having survived the pressure cooker of a one-race championship battle last season. His results this season have been no less impressive. Busch missed the season's first 11 Sprint Cup races while recovering from a broken right leg and left foot suffered in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race to win four races in a five-race span. A winner at Pocono, Truex has Chase experience and finished 10th or better in 14 of the season’s first 15 races with his single-car team based in Denver, Colorado. A title by any of the four would be big. A win by Gordon, according to Evernham, would be huge. RELATED: Gordon's drive for five "If he pulls this off this weekend, this is just not a motorsports thing," Evernham said. "This is a major sports story, one of the greatest sports stories of our lifetime. "If you look at somebody who’s been able to be that competitive over 23 years, different cars, different rules, different things. It's not like playing football or baseball. I get what (John) Elway and those guys did and that's fantastic. But if you look at the changes he has had to deal with over the past 23 years, from the time that we rolled into Atlanta in November of 1992, our very first race, he's never missed a race. And here he’s going into his last race to battle for the championship. "To me, that's not just a motorsports story, that’s an incredible sports story overall."
RELATED: Play Fantasy Live now It's all down to this. Championships on the line both on the track and in Fantasy Live. Time to do what it takes to grab the title. Sure, the Championship 4 drivers have plenty on the line this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) but that doesn't mean that there are not other worthwhile plays to fill out your lineup in Fantasy Live. Make sure to set your lineup by using the information below to guide your picks. All stats listed -- place differential, fastest laps run and laps led – are Homestead-Miami Speedway specific and categories used in Fantasy Live scoring . Last week, the data showed that Kevin Harvick was a great play for Phoenix and while he did not win, he did have the most laps led and a runner-up finish. We also recommended Aric Almirola as a sleeper pick and his top 10 proved that to be a solid selection. Good luck this weekend! Laps led, since 2005 1. Carl Edwards , 560 2. Matt Kenseth , 449 t-3. Jeff Gordon , 237 t-3. Kyle Busch , 237 Fastest laps run, since 2005 1. Carl Edwards , 267 2. Jeff Gordon , 170 3. Martin Truex Jr ., 168 Place differential, 2014 fall race 1. Ryan Newman , +19 2. Cole Whitt , +16 t-3. Danica Patrick , +14 t-3. Jamie McMurray , +14 t-3. Kyle Larson , +14 Sleeper picks Kasey Kahne : Since his first start at Homestead in 2004, Kahne has collected 10 straight top 25s there. He also has back-to-back 13th-or-better finishes in his last two starts. Owning an average finish of 14.9, Kahne has also led 107 laps, has four top 10s and an average running position of 12.6 (eighth-best). The Hendrick Motorsports driver's value is undoubtedly there for his asking price. Ryan Newman : Newman remains a feature sleeper play at Homestead. Over the past three races, the Richard Childress Racing driver is averaging 44.0 fantasy points per race, good for 10th among active NASCAR competitors. Coming off a career-best second-place finish at Homestead in 2014, Newman will be looking to improve that. He has two top fives and five top 10s in 13 starts at Miami. Value picks Ty Dillon : Dillon also comes with risk due to his part-time Cup eligibility, so he carries a bit of a gamble. In his four Cup races this season, Dillon has improved in each race by at least two spots with finishes of 28th, 26th, 18th and a season best 14th at Michigan. He owns a season place differential of +7 and an average finish of 21.5. The value is "must have" at Dillon’s asking price for Homestead. Justin Allgaier : Fresh off a 17th-place finish at Phoenix, Allgaier makes a stout value play for Homestead this weekend. In his one career race at Homestead in 2014, he started 14th and finished 15th. The HScott Motorsports driver ranks a remarkable 20th among NASCAR drivers in fantasy points averaged over his last three races with 17.4 per race.
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Sitting outside along the shore of the speedway's infield lake and enjoying some down time with friends and extended family, Sherry Pollex was smiling and laughing Friday afternoon. Martin Truex Jr . was just inside their adjacent motorhome dressed in his racing suit having a small plate of a late healthy lunch and glancing at a NASCAR practice session on the television. Truex is one of four drivers eligible to win NASCAR's coveted Sprint Cup Series championship in Sunday's Ford 400, starting 11th here at Homestead-Miami Speedway . He is the bona fide high-achieving underdog having earned a shot at the title against retiring four-time champion Jeff Gordon , reigning Cup champ Kevin Harvick and another possible first-time Cup titlist Kyle Busch . All the best to our hometown @FR78Racing team, Driver @MartinTruex_Jr & Owner Barney Visser w/their championship race tomorrow!! — John Elway (@johnelway) November 21, 2015 For a couple on the verge of the highest-profile racing weekend of their lives, Pollex and Truex were remarkably calm and relaxed, their dog sweetly splitting time between the two. Pollex laying comfortably on a couch while Truex leaned back in a chair. Pollex had just gone through chemotherapy for ovarian cancer on Monday -- she gets the extreme treatment every 21 days -- and conceded she was tired and not feeling 100 percent even if she looked it. But she is also the kind of person who shall never give cancer an edge -- in its effect on her mojo or her natural all-American good looks. "We keep our lives really normal,'' Pollex said as Truex grinned proudly from the chair next to her. "My doctor will say, 'I know you, you just had chemotherapy but you're going to the race track and going to talk to everyone.' And I just say, 'of course I am.' "It's not my weekend, it's not about me having cancer. It's about him and the first opportunity in his life to have the biggest weekend of his career and win a championship. We're going to focus on that. We don't even talk about cancer at all.'' Truex is her greatest supporter and for this special championship weekend, she is eager to return the favor again. It's actually a remarkably well-working, mutually beneficial support system . Truex is on the verge of his greatest career achievement and despite the rough treatment and tough diagnosis eager to suck the liveliness out of her, Pollex is eager and enthusiastic to enjoy this special situation -- a lesson in living the day. No matter what happens in NASCAR's big finale, they are both huge winners. "I think it's definitely easier when your team is running good,'' Truex said of his Denver-based Furniture Row Racing operation. "I have 100 percent confidence in my team and every time I come to the race track it's stress free. I know we're going to run well. The stuff I do away from the track really has no bearing. "It's real easy to put on your helmet, focus on your driving. You know what you have to do. The stuff away from the track really has no bearing at all on how we run. At least for me, when I get to the track, I focus on that. Even with everything we've had going on, it really hasn't changed the way I race." Even if it has greatly changed his life. "It is a new perspective,'' Truex said with a slight smile and sweet glance at Pollex. "I realize there's no reason to worry about this stuff (with Pollex) because it's something you can't control. It's easy to separate the two. In a lot of ways, having the distractions away from the track keeps your mind off racing and allows you to focus on it when you're back.'' Truex has certainly channeled his worry and energy this season. His Chevrolet has eight top-fives and 22 top-10s through 35 races. He won at Pocono Raceway in June and it has been a career year by all judgments whether Truex leaves South Florida with a big new trophy or not. But interestingly, instead of using the most heart-wrenching of circumstance as a crutch, Truex has used it to inspire and achieve. Instead of being distracted and deterred, he has used his situation and Pollex's illness to succeed and to live. No matter what happens in the NASCAR season-finale, Truex and Pollex are the big winners.
The importance of Jimmie's Chase dismissal, Junior's close call at Dover RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated " Harvick shoves Johnson post-race If you're a regular reader of Herman Unplugged, you know that clairvoyant Kenny Wallace called for Kevin Harvick to win in "walk-off" fashion once again at Dover. He was on the record early and this wasn't Phoenix, where Harvick has a habit of making victories look routine. He'd never won at the Monster Mile … until Sunday. Now? "I really feel that Harvick's gonna win Charlotte and lock himself in again," Herman said. "When you look at the last two races at Loudon and Dover, two completely different race tracks, this is speed we haven't seen since the Jimmie Johnson glory days. He has utterly dominated these last two races, so I don't know why that would stop going into Charlotte. "The only thing that's gonna stop him is a blown tire, wreck or parts failure." NASCAR ILLUSTRATED: Speaking of that, a faulty inexpensive axle seal felled Jimmie Johnson at Dover and dropped him from the Chase. That's a bad beat… HERMAN: "Some of the smallest items in the history of building a car have cost such big deals. An axle seal is a complete fluke. I don't think I've ever seen one go out of a passenger car much less a Sprint Cup car. One would think that with all the engineering and all the machinery at Hendrick, they're probably making their own axle seals, so it was probably the rubber that they used that was a freak deal. Who in the hell would have ever thought it would be an axle seal?" NI: Pretty riveting back and forth battle between McMurray and Junior at the end of Dover race. How important was that for the sport with Junior grabbing the final playoff spot in this next round? HERMAN: "It was bigger than big, no doubt. I was asked on the prerace show: 'Will Dale Jr. make it into the Contender Round?' And I said no because I thought Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick would outrun him and they did. But what we did not see was Jimmie Johnson falling out of the race. Nine times out of 10, Dale Jr. is gonna outrun Jamie McMurray , right? These were two drivers that really wanted it bad and this incredible drama built and at the end it looks like Jamie is gonna do it. Even Dale Jr. said it was that caution. The caution came out and it changes our sport moving forward. If that last caution does not come out, 70% of our fan base remains depressed and sad. That was pretty incredible to see that last late race restart." NI: The other remaining Hendrick driver, Jeff Gordon , did what he needed to do as well but he's winless on the season. Do you have any problem if a winless driver claims the championship under this format like Ryan Newman nearly did a year ago? HERMAN: "I have never had a problem with someone scoring more points than the other person. Special things happen when things change sometimes. Every time you look up at the end of the year now, Ryan Newman is there without coming close to winning a race. If Jeff Gordon continues to run consistent and keeps getting better and buying himself more time, we still got seven races to go, and maybe that team can find him some speed. But how do you deny somebody scoring more points than the other person? I know people feel like you have to win but throughout our whole history as a sport it's never been based on wins, it's been based on points." NI: Logano would be leading Harvick by eight points under the old system with Junior in third 76 points back. Do you prefer one system over the other when it comes to crowning a champion? HERMAN: "I like this system ; I don't like one race determining the champion and I'll tell you why. In baseball and football, we deal with human beings. In auto racing, we deal with parts and pieces that are made by machinery. To determine who is the greatest all year long on one race is brutal. That's the way I look at it. Last year, Joey Logano came down pit road and the jackman had the worst stop of his life and it took Joey out. I don't think he could have outrun Harvick anyway but it took him out of contending. I would like to see this system stay but give it something to add longevity in the end. Maybe we go 3-3-3 and let the last three determine a champion instead of one damn race." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The viewing and listening experience for fans attending events at Bristol Motor Speedway is about to get a lot clearer. And larger. A whole lot larger. Officials with the popular half-mile track unveiled plans for the world's largest outdoor suspended digital display Wednesday, a 700 ton marvel of engineering that has already been dubbed "Colossus." This isn't your father's scoreboard. Work on the new piece is scheduled to begin in November and be completed in time for next year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend in April. Each custom-built screen adorning the four sides of the display is approximately 30 feet tall and 63 feet wide, or twice as high and nearly three times as wide as the video displays atop the scoring pylon currently in the BMS infield. And with nearly 54 million LEDs and 18 million pixels, the picture quality is expected to exceed that of large-scale outdoor displays seen in Times Square. A 540,000-watt audio system featuring 380 3-way loudspeakers and 48 stadium subwoofers will decrease the listening distance (from speakers to fans in the grandstands) from what had been between 200-400 feet (depending on location) to no more than 90 feet. The new piece will be suspended by cables tethered to four towers located outside the race track. Sightlines for fans in the grandstands will not be impacted, according to track officials. The idea for Colossus came about as track management began working toward next year’s Battle at Bristol, the college football game featuring the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech that will be played inside BMS. Moving the current scoring pylon in the center of the infield was a must; coming up with suitable viewing screens became necessary. "We studied the football game (plans) for several months before we even went down that path," Jerry Caldwell, BMS general manager, said. "Some options were coming out of that -- we could do this with screens, we could put them in the turns, we could do other things. And then there was a " what if we did this." Then you bring in people like Panasonic and the other companies we met with … and it became more of a reality." It's the way Speedway Motorsports Inc., way, according to Caldwell. "We go after the 'why nots?' " he said. "It's an amazing addition and enhancement for race fans. Both the (video) and the sound are going to take us to a new level." The video display, which will include a circular truss underneath providing pertinent information (such as the running order during races) will be suspended by cables roughly 30 percent thicker than the vertical cables suspending the Golden Gate Bridge, weighing in at approximately 63 pounds per foot. "Suspending a screen like this is quite an engineering feat, challenge," Richard Ballard, a consultant for Panasonic, said. "I quite frankly don't know where one is of this size." Determining how large the screens needed to be for maximum results and optimum quality, he said, was similar to "picking the right size TV for your living room … is it the 50-inch, the 42, the 65-inch model? … You're going to fit that perfectly inside your room. "We did the same thing here -- we took the sizing of the venue, the sight lines, figured out what size would it take to give you that living room experience. What we're doing it trying to give you that experience that you would get at home." Marcus Smith, President and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., said he expects Colossus to "totally transform the experience for Bristol Motor Speedway . "And what it does for us with other events is going to be great," he said. "The football game will have a bigger-than-life feel. We can host huge concerts. Any event that wants to have the biggest event ever, whether it's hockey like the Winter Classic or the world's biggest rodeo, you name it and we can host it." Caldwell agreed. "Really, the sky is the limit," he said. "Some of those things (such as concerts and racing-related events) were possible before; this just makes it a whole lot easier and more cost effective to pull off."
When it comes to big NASCAR fun, it's hard to beat Talladega Superspeedway , the 2.66-mile-long track that is the longest oval on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit. Making it even larger than life for a select few NASCAR fans was being on hand as a DraftKings VIP for the October CampingWorld.com 500 during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . "Thanks to DraftKings for an unforgettable weekend at Talladega," wrote DraftKings VIP Crystalbil. "The VIP experience was just that, VIP. My father and I had infield parking, all access to the pits and garages, we even sat on the pit wall during Sprint Cup qualifiers. We got to talk with pit crews about tires and pit box setup. ... The people were great at DraftKings putting together a weekend my father and I will never forget. They made it easy to feel like the king of the track." Besides behind-the-scenes access to pit road, DraftKings VIPs also got a chance to experience Talladega like never before. "From doing laps at 130 mph-plus on the banks of Talladega, in a pace car, to sitting up front in the drivers' meeting, DraftKings has you covered," wrote VIP lgbowling2. "They will show you how cars go through inspection, a tour of the garage and up close for driver introductions. Keep your eyes out, as you never know who will be in attendance that day." Terry Morris and his wife Cricket were especially impressed by the attention paid to them by DraftKings hosts. "I have been a NASCAR fan for many years and we were treated like VIPs," Morris said. "We were picked up at the parking lot by your team and escorted from each event. We had a hoot. We loved the pace car ride at Talladega. I have a greater respect for all NASCAR drivers. ... Then, we were there for driver introductions with a special opportunity to take pictures with Martin Truex Jr ." You too could share a similar experience at an upcoming NASCAR race by playing DraftKings. Not familiar with DraftKings? It's a daily fantasy sports game that allows players to experience a one-of-kind event experience as DraftKings has access to a direct data feed from NASCAR Digital Media that contains real-time stats. In each game, participants are assigned a fixed salary cap they can use to draft their entire roster, comprised of five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. Scoring categories in DraftKings NASCAR daily fantasy sports games include finishing position, fastest laps, laps led and place differential. NASCAR games on DraftKings provides fans the opportunity to win one-of-a-kind NASCAR prizes and VIP experiences. More information on DraftKings NASCAR daily fantasy sports games is available at www.draftkings.com . Editor's note: The views expressed in this story pertaining to the DrafttKings VIP experience are solely those of previous winners.
RELATED: Full race results from Phoenix AVONDALE, Ariz. -- A serendipitous sequence of pit stops and a drizzle that turned into a downpour made a winner of Dale Earnhardt Jr . in Sunday night’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway , the start of which was delayed from day to night by rain in the afternoon. But the race that was halted by the rain 93 laps short of its scheduled distance of 312 laps was hardly the satisfying conclusion for which Carl Edwards , Brad Keselowski , Kurt Busch or Joey Logano had hoped. Those four drivers were eliminated from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , as defending champion Kevin Harvick , Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr . joined Jeff Gordon in next Sunday’s Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). Earnhardt came to pit road for fuel and tires one lap before Joey Gase and Ricky Stenhouse Jr . crashed in Turn 3 to bring out the second caution of the race on Lap 196. While on pit road, Earnhardt crossed the scoring line at the flag stand before Harvick, who had dominated with 143 laps led. And when other lead-lap cars came to pit road under the yellow, Earnhardt inherited the top spot, with Harvick second and Logano third. Before track workers could complete clean-up from the accident, rain began to fall, and NASCAR called the race after the light precipitation became a deluge. “We had an idea that the rain was in the area, but all the circumstances that played out at the end of the race are just kind of luck, I think,” said Earnhardt, who won for the third time at Phoenix, the third time this season and the 26th time in his career. “I want to give (crew chief) Greg (Ives) a lot of credit, and the guys. “They gave us a good enough car to come here and qualify well (third). I think the reason why we won this race is because of the way we qualified to give ourselves a position to be up front all night. When something like this quirky happens we were able to capitalize. It’s a rain-shortened win, but my guys are very proud of it because of how the car ran all weekend and we put ourselves in this position.” The third-place qualifying effort also gave the No. 88 team third pick of pit stalls, and that choice also proved crucial because it put Earnhardt in position to take the lead when NASCAR called the caution. Harvick had mixed feelings about his second-place result. The caution likely cost him a victory, but it also assured his eligibility to defend his title at Homestead. “Yeah, it's kind of bittersweet,” Harvick acknowledged. “The car just really performed well today, and we were able to lead a lot of laps, and just really proud of the guys for the decisions that they made overnight to get that last little bit out of the car today, and how it performed was really good. “Just caution came out at the wrong time, and we didn't get to make up the ground on the race track under green, where Dale was pitted, and the way that they came out of the pits just didn't time out well. But still proud of our group, and sometimes you win some of those things, sometimes you don't, but in the end, the big picture is what it's all about.” Kyle Busch finished fourth to advance to the season finale. Gordon ran sixth, followed by Kurt Busch , Denny Hamlin and Keselowski. Truex came home 14th but edged 12th-place finisher Edwards for the final spot in the Championship Round by five points. Kyle Busch continued his improbable run toward a first series title. Having suffered a broken right leg and left foot in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona, Busch missed the first 11 Sprint Cup events of the year but came back to win four times shortly after his return. With the wins and a top-30 points finish, Busch qualified for the Chase. “When I returned, we did a good job and we won four out of five and put ourselves in a position to make the Chase, and the rules are the way the rules are, and we’re going to make the most of it,” Busch said. “We’re playing with house money, and we’re rolling to Homestead.” Truex, who entered Sunday’s race with a seven-point lead over Edwards, lost a lap during the same sequence of pit stops that put Earnhardt in the lead, but he regained it under the caution on a wave-around and finished two spots behind Edwards to clinch his place in the finals. Driving for single-car Furniture Row Racing , Truex goes to Homestead with confidence. “With the way our stuff has been running here lately, it's been really good, and we were really strong at Texas (last week),” he said. “I feel like what we're taking there (to Homestead) might be a little bit better. “Excited to get to Homestead, which has been a really good track for me over the years, and get a chance to pull off our first win there.” The highest finisher among the four eligible drivers wins the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. Logano, Keselowski and Kurt Busch (who was hit with a pass-through penalty for jumping the start of the race) needed to win on Sunday to make the finals. But the rain made sure they never got a chance at another restart. Logano took the disappointment with grace. “It’s hard to play the race with rain in the area,” Logano said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen, but you just hope there’s another shot. You hope that there’s a restart and if two of them slip up and you’re able to put it three-wide on the bottom, or do something like that -- but just didn’t ever have the opportunity there at the end. “We had plenty of opportunities to try to get ourselves to the front, we just weren’t as fast as the 4 (Harvick). We were a solid second-place car, but Junior timed it out really well when they pitted to that caution, and it worked out really well for them.” Note: Chevrolet clinched its 13th straight manufacturer’s championship in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, 39th overall ... Hendrick Motorsports swept the Eliminator Round of the Chase with Gordon winning at Martinsville, Jimmie Johnson at Texas and Earnhardt at Phoenix.