Scoring will mirror system used for drivers for all three national series
NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell talks about Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano's incident at Texas Motor Speedway and the approach that NASCAR takes on blocking, and he responds to Jeff Gordon's call to remove pit road loops.
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
Join host Matthew Dillner as he deftly maneuvers through the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage during practice at Richmond International Raceway.
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
'Precise' pit road system will take some getting used to Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Moment RELATED: NASCAR bulletin details 2015 pit road updates NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chiefs are anticipating a rise in the number of pit road infractions when the 2015 season gets underway later this month, but say they expect those totals to decrease as teams become more comfortable with the new technology used to police pit road. Until this year, officials located on pit road monitored stops. Now those activities will be captured on video and streamed to a central location where eight officials will review each stop and rule on possible infractions. "There's going to be a fair share of penalties, just because the system is so much more precise," said Jason Ratcliff, crew chief for the No. 20 team of Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth . "I think teams are going to be cutting it really close, closer than they were before in trying to find where the edge is within the new officiating system . "But it's going to be spot-on. When it says you're wrong, you're wrong." Violations such as excessive speed on pit road and pulling up to pit (passing a vehicle on the inside) will continue to be handled by officials in the scoring tower. Infractions such as too many crewmembers in contact with the pit service area, crewmembers over the wall too soon and pitting outside the assigned pit box will be policed using the new video system technology. NASCAR officials met with pit crew coaches and crew chiefs during the offseason to help familiarize them with the changes. Part of the process included detailing which infractions were the most common from the previous year. Pitting before pit road is open (394 violations) and too fast on pit road (133 violations) occurred the most often. Because those will continue to be monitored by officials in the control tower, those numbers aren't expected to increase dramatically One of the biggest concerns for teams is the penalty for crewmembers over the wall too soon. Last season, the infraction was called only 23 times, in part because it's a judgment call made by officials who often don't have the best view of exactly where a car is located when crewmen cross the pit wall. PHOTOS: Go inside the new pit road technology Crewmen are not allowed to cross the pit wall until their driver is within two pit boxes of his pit stall. The driver whose team violates the rule must serve a pass-thru penalty (when the infraction occurs under green-flag conditions) or restart at the tail end of the field (when it takes place under yellow). According to results obtained while testing the new system during the final 10 races of 2014, the numbers for that particular violation would have more than tripled. "That's a concern for a lot of guys," said Todd Gordon, crew chief for No. 22 Team Penske driver Joey Logano . "The reason we didn't have a lot of calls for off the wall too soon (before) is because for an official to look back 60 feet and make a call on whether the car is six inches short of the line, a foot short or on the line, it's so hard for him to do that they would never make it. So a guy could leave a little bit early. "But that's the same vision that our crewmembers have to have to know when that car gets to that line. The computers (video) will see that a lot better than the jackman will." And because the jackman is the first crewman over the wall, Gordon said the onus would be on him to make sure he times his departure just right. "He's the first guy the car gets to," he said. "The rear guys come behind the car so they're waiting for the car to get by; he's the first guy in line. Those guys have worked pretty hard in how to be explosive off the wall and speed up their time from the wall to outside the car. That's a piece that's probably become more important with this new enforcement." Faster pit stops can improve a driver's track position, and teams are always searching for ways to get their driver on and off pit road in the least amount of time. Improvements in equipment and more athletic crewmen have sped up the pace tremendously in recent years to the point where a 14-second stop is now considered average. "We know how important pit road is to results on the race track," said Paul Wolfe, crew chief for the No. 2 team of Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski . "We like to pass cars on pit road if we can, so knowing that we're going to have equal rules to the guy next to us, that's exciting for a competitor to know that if we work hard and do our part that we can be rewarded for it." Rodney Childers, who heads up the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team of driver Kevin Harvick , said he believes having veteran personnel going over the wall will make a difference. "I think having experienced guys that have been on pit road a long time, that probably helps you out because they're more relaxed, more comfortable and feel like they can jump off the wall later and still make up for it," he said. One thing the new system likely won't deter is the dispute that often ensues between crew chiefs and officials when a violation is called. "I think the argument is still going to be there," Ratcliff said. "You know how that is. "We're still going to want to see it firsthand. … I think as we see where we made the mistakes and see how it's going to work and how the system is operating differently than it has in the past, we'll get a good feel for it and be able to adjust accordingly." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Ford Technical Support Center takes on bigger role with limited testing Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Most NASCAR drivers spent the bulk of last week's Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom seated in front of a microphone fielding questions from the media. Chris Buescher spent his turning laps at Dover International Speedway. The 22-year-old wasn't ignoring NASCAR's limited testing policy for 2015. Instead, the Roush Fenway Racing driver completed nearly an entire race in Ford Racing's full motion platform simulator during the media tour's stop at the Ford Technical Support Center in Concord, North Carolina. "Very close to 200 laps, very close," the NASCAR XFINITY Series driver said. The simulator is the centerpiece of the 33,000-square-foot technology center and is realistic enough that some folks have become ill after sliding behind the wheel. "We put Robbie Reiser (RFR vice president of competition) in the SIM early on and I don't think he took it too well," Buescher said. "There are people that have gotten sick. It's a different motion, a lot of movement. The screen is constantly moving. Especially if you wreck, when you get into that position it gets a little crazy." But it's a bit more than fun and games. For teams, the highly advanced piece is the next best thing to turning laps on an actual track, and can be used to assess setups for each of the tracks on the NASCAR schedule -- from superspeedways to short tracks, road courses to intermediates. For drivers, it's also an opportunity to log laps and become familiar with the nuances of each venue. It's also one place where weather is never an issue. With NASCAR limiting testing for the 2015 season, such opportunities are more crucial than ever. "The biggest help for me is just more seat time," Buescher said. "Last year before Watkins Glen … myself, (teammates) Trevor (Bayne) and Ryan (Reed), were able to get on the simulator and run some laps leading up to the road races. And that's one of the places that I think it works the best, at this moment." It should be noted that Buescher went on to win the XFINITY Series race a short time later at Mid-Ohio for his first career victory. Officials said nearly every track would eventually be programmed into the system . "I think that the ovals will come along … we're making huge steps in that area but it's still rather new technology," Buescher said. "… I think they were saying that the F1 teams, once they came out with this technology, it took them three to four years to really get it to where it was perfect. … Now that the technology has come so far, we expect our learning curve to be quicker than that. But still, certainly there's a way to go." Other tools available to all Ford teams at the center, which has been operational for less than one year, include three additional "rigs" used to fine-tune, test and measure specific areas of a race car. The center also boasts a small theater where engineers from Ford as well as the Ford teams can gather to watch practice, qualifying and races with feeds that include live timing and scoring and the ability to sort and retrieve data almost instantly. "Our plan is to use this facility for more than just NASCAR development," said Raj Nair, Ford Group vice president for global product development. "We want to make the tools and resources available to our teams across many of the racing series we compete in." As for Buescher, win No. 2 can't come soon enough. "Absolutely," he said. "Getting that first one out of the way was huge for us. Now we are just looking forward to 2015 and adding on to that list. We need to get the second and third one and so on. "I think with our XFINITY Series lineup we have here we should be competing for a championship this year. … Everyone in the shop has been working extremely hard and everyone is ready to get back to racing." The simulator may be incredibly realistic and a tremendous learning tool, he said, but knocking off a few hundred laps here or there "isn't enough practice through the offseason. "We are ready to get to Daytona." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live 1. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Finding his way to clear air on the race's final restart, Johnson got all the encouragement he needed over the team's in-car radio: "Leg it, baby. Leg it." The six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion did, pulling away to his fourth victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the 71st of his career in NASCAR's top series. Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio. " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 2. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. The defending Sprint Cup champion had to carve his way from the back of the field after suffering engine failure during Saturday practice, but was perched atop the leaderboard by the 87th lap in the 325-lap distance. Harvick wound up leading a race-high 116 laps in recording his second runner-up finish in two races thus far in 2015. " WATCH: Johnson holds off Harvick for the win 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Junior has opened the season by going 2-for-2 in posting third-place finishes despite sustaining front-end damage Sunday when he ran into a piece of debris in the late going. Though he consistently was near the front of the pack, Earnhardt led just one lap all afternoon. " WATCH: Dale Jr.: Crew chief Ives is 'a pretty good cheerleader' 4. Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. The Daytona 500 champ continued his hot streak by winning the Coors Light Pole Award on Friday. Though he lacked the power to mount a challenge over the final green-flag run, Logano will enter next Sunday's Kobalt 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the Sprint Cup points leader. " WATCH: Out Front with Miss Coors Light 5. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. The JGR driver -- who led 10 laps Sunday and lined up second for the final restart -- watched his losing skid stretch to 46 races (dating back to 2013) after a slight fade just before the checkered flag. 6. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing. The modest rejuvenation continues for Truex and the Colorado-based team owned by Barney Visser. The Furniture Row bunch registered just five top-10 finishes in all 36 races last year; two races into 2015, Truex and Co. already have a pair of single-digit results. " MORE: Truex looks to put 2014 woes behind him 7. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG-Daugherty Racing. A strong finish on an intermediate track helped lift the spirits of the single-car organization, which qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs for the first time last year. After just two races, Allmendinger is slotted in a tie for eighth in the series standings. " MORE: Chase Grid after two races 8. Brett Moffitt, No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. The former NASCAR Next driver needed to receive the free pass two times to do it, but Moffitt closed the deal on the lead lap on a day of firsts for his career-best finish in just his eighth Sprint Cup start. Brian Vickers is scheduled to return to MWR's No. 55 ride next weekend at Las Vegas. 9. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. The 2012 champion had hopes for a top-five finish, but his aspirations were also tempered with temporary resignation over what he thought could have been a subpar 15th-place result. "We were just kind of up and down and floating all day long," Keselowski said after settling for somewhere in the middle of his expectations in ninth place. 10. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman appeared sunk after absorbing significant damage in a four-car crash on Lap 257, but hard work from his RCR crew in making repairs buoyed Newman to a surprising top-10. 11. Aric Almirola, No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. After opening up 2014 with patchwork finishes of 39th, 15th, 25th, third and 43rd, Almirola has some consistency to crow about this season. "That's a big head start from last year!" Almirola tweeted after his second straight top-15 finish pushed him into a tie for eighth in Sprint Cup points. " MORE: Follow drivers on Social Drive 12. Carl Edwards, No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards was the beneficiary of the race's next-to-last yellow flag, helping him recover from a seemingly disastrous flat tire in the 274th lap for a lead-lap finish. 13. Paul Menard, No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. The Wisconsin native couldn't shake the unluckiest of numbers, starting and finishing 13th as the final driver on the lead lap. 14. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The track that produced Kahne's last-ditch clincher into the Chase field last September wasn't so kind this time around. A pit-road penalty for a rolling-tire infraction in the 293rd lap forced the Hendrick Motorsports driver to make a pass-through on pit lane during green-flag conditions. 15. Casey Mears, No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Sunday's top-15 finish wasn't quite the windfall the Germain team received from Mears' sixth-place run in the Daytona 500, but the solid day kept its driver in the same position in Sprint Cup points -- sixth. 16. Danica Patrick, No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Atlanta provided the backdrop for Patrick's career-best Sprint Cup finish of sixth place last season. While 16th place marked a slip in performance, the effort -- coupled with 21st place the previous week at Daytona -- launched Patrick into the final spot on the provisional Chase grid. 17. Regan Smith, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Smith's second start as a substitute for suspended Kurt Busch had nearly the same result as the first, just one spot lower than his 16th place in the Daytona 500. The degree of difficulty may have been greater at Atlanta, though, after Smith's No. 41 was crumpled in a multicar fracas 20 laps from the end. " WATCH: Big wreck brings out the red flag 18. David Ragan, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Ragan pushed the No. 18 car up into the top five in the early stages of his first start as a fill-in for injured Kyle Busch, but said he was "a little timid" in making needed adjustments as the 500-miler went on. "I felt like we had a good, solid top-10 car and things just didn't shake out," Ragan said. 19. Trevor Bayne, No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Bayne was at the head of the Roush Fenway class at Atlanta, but frustrated in finishing two laps down. The midpack result left him hoping to see the team's determination rewarded soon. "I see a lot of people trying to work together and that's where it starts," Bayne said. "We obviously haven't seen any results as far as speed is concerned." 20. Justin Allgaier, No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Allgaier made the most of his survival instinct after two instances of evasive action in the race's late stages. The second-year driver brushed the wall avoiding the Lap 257 pile-up that snared four cars, then dipped to the apron to dodge the Lap 305 snarl that grabbed seven more competitors. 21. Sam Hornish Jr., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Inopportune timing put Hornish in the path of debris from Austin Dillon's blown tire in the 60th lap. Damage to the front end jolted the grille and left the RPM No. 9 crew fighting an uphill battle for most of the race; his own flat tire and a later brush with the wall only compounded the trouble. 22. David Gilliland, No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Gilliland pressed on after a bump from behind in the four-car crash on the 257th lap. He also stayed on the track during the race's fourth yellow flag to lead a lap for the first time at Atlanta since March 2010. 23. Alex Bowman, No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. After failing to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500, Bowman opened his season at Atlanta as one of the biggest movers in a race filled with them. The second-year Sprint Cup driver gained 19 spots from his starting position. 24. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. Bowyer gained track position by staying on the track late in the race, but his day went from sour to downright acidic in a hurry. An engine issue developed with around 35 laps left, just before the race's final crash engulfed him with 20 to go. 25. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. The Biff fought an ill-handling car most of the day, but lost the most ground when he overcooked his entry into Turn 3 on the race's next-to-last restart, igniting the race's biggest crash. 26. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. The site of an eighth-place finish last season held much higher promise for 2014's Sunoco Rookie of the Year, but sustaining plenty of contact in the race's biggest crash near the finish prompted Larson to tweet afterward: "Such a frustrating race. Top 5 car but had no luck." " MORE: Follow drivers on Social Drive 27. Michael McDowell, No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing. The small, family-owned team found some solace in McDowell's best result in five career starts at Atlanta, marking the first time he was running at the finish at the 1.54-mile venue. 28. Brendan Gaughan, No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. The Jay Robinson-owned start-up team recovered after failing to qualify for the Daytona 500 with Brian Scott. It marked the occasion of Gaughan's first Sprint Cup start since August 2013. 29. Michael Annett, No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport Racing. Annett and Co. struck an 11th-hour deal to jump in the Joe Falk-owned ride after his regular HScott Motorsports No. 46 ride missed out on Coors Light Pole Qualifying. The last-minute move kept his goal of a complete Sprint Cup season alive. 30. Tony Stewart, No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart was one of several drivers who started near the back of the pack after issues clearing Friday's pre-qualifying inspection. Smoke grappled with handling woes for much of the race, but matters got worse with involvement in the event's final multicar crash. 31. Mike Bliss, No. 32 Ford, GoFAS Racing. The 49-year-old veteran stayed on the track during a pair of early caution periods to pace two laps, marking his first lap led in the Sprint Cup Series since March 4, 2012 (Phoenix). It also was the first time since August 27, 2005 (Bristol) that Bliss has led multiple laps in a Sprint Cup race. 32. Josh Wise, No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Wise was among the first bitten by the new pit road officiating system , incurring a Lap 28 penalty for crew members coming over the wall too soon. Though seven laps down, Wise managed his best finish in three career starts at Atlanta. 33. Joe Nemechek, No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. The man with the Front Row nickname made his first appearance in Front Row Motorsports equipment, but contact from Greg Biffle's spin left his car and hopes dented for his first Sprint Cup event of the year. 34. JJ Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Slight damage from debris early in the race slowed Yeley, who managed to improve upon the 40th-place result from the season-opening Daytona 500. 35. Jeb Burton, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing. As the only rookie in the 43-car field, Burton made his Sprint Cup debut, forging on after a mid-race scrape with the wall. 36. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse played the role of pinball in the race's biggest crash; though several cars were involved, the No. 17 was the only one unable to continue. 37. Cole Whitt, No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. An engine that would've made a 400-mile distance couldn't quite withstand the full 500, first dropping a cylinder before expiring altogether, dumping fluid on the track and causing the race's next-to-last caution period. 38. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin led twice for 14 laps, but found himself sideways in the middle of the track when he lost control on a late-race restart. Three more cars piled in, prompting Hamlin to offer sympathies: "I apologize to all those cars involved, but it's tough." " WATCH: Hamlin spins and collects several drivers 39. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. A pair of rear tire troubles in rapid succession, both of which sprayed debris on the 1.54-mile track, derailed Dillon's day. The second instance, with the car already laboring from earlier damage, sent the RCR No. 3 off into the muddy infield and later behind the wall for extensive repairs. " WATCH: Dillon spins after cutting a tire 40. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. After starting third, Jamie Mac didn't have visions of finishing in the bottom five Sunday at Atlanta. The tangle that also thwarted three others when Denny Hamlin lost control took him by surprise: "I didn't see any of that coming," McMurray said. "That was kind of out of the blue." 41. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The four-time champion drew a Lap 24 tribute from the track with his car number blanketing the main scoring pylon early on, but enduring a crash for the second straight week has his final full Sprint Cup season off to a ragged start. Finishes of 33rd at Daytona and 41st at Atlanta have relegated Gordon to a tie for 35th place in the points standings. " WATCH: Big wreck brings out red flag 42. Ron Hornaday Jr., No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. After failing to qualify for the Daytona 500, the four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion made his first Sprint Cup start since 2003 on Sunday. The Curtis Key-owned start-up team parked just past the halfway point at Atlanta with a rear gearing malfunction. 43. Landon Cassill, No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Starting last, Cassill seemingly had nowhere to go but up at Atlanta. Instead, the 25-year-old driver stayed level as the race's first retiree for the second straight week, posting consecutive 43rd-place finishes after two engine failures to start the season. 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
Groundbreaking system will change landscape of sport MORE: Data rules, but human element still key CONCORD, N.C. -- NASCAR officials will no longer be standing alongside crewmen to police pit stops in 2015, but that doesn’t mean the sanctioning body won’t be watching what takes place. A new, technologically driven system that incorporates the use of 45 cameras will feed video of every stop made by every team to a central location, where eight officials will log pertinent information and report any violations. "This is a great new innovation," Shawn Rogers, Managing Director of Business Operations for NASCAR, said Tuesday as he previewed the system for members of the media. "I think it will probably change our sport, put us finally at the tip of the spear with technology. "Paramount to us, we always want to increase our safety when possible, increase our accuracy … be consistent and above all these days, be transparent." How will it work? Each of the cameras will display two specific pit stalls. Once a car is on pit road, the individual cameras will record its progress as it moves through each area. The use of tracking software and pit road scoring loops identifies and verifies each car. That same system software tracking its movement will indicate any infractions, such as too many men over the wall or driving through too many pit boxes when entering or exiting the pits based on information ingested prior to the event. If there are no infractions logged by the system , one of the eight officials will still monitor the stop, noting the number of tires taken, whether fuel was added and whether any changes (chassis adjustments or repair to a damaged area, for example) to the car were made. Infractions fall into three groups -- vehicle (such as pitting outside pit box), equipment (leaving pit box with gas can still attached, etc.) and personnel/crew (too many men over the wall; over the wall too soon, etc.) When the software picks up an infraction, it will be displayed on the monitor where an official will quickly view the stop and either confirm the issue (and subsequently notify the tower) or clear it if it can be determined that no infraction took place. As an example, Rogers provided video of a driver that stopped just beyond his pit box last year when pitting, and the system flagged the infraction. However, crewmen quickly pushed the car back into its box before beginning to service it. Therefore, there was no penalty, and under the new system , an official has the ability to remove and clear the infraction notation. Although it was in place during the final portion of the ’14 season, the system was tested, but not used for official purposes. "We ran the system , full parallel testing, the final 11 races," Rogers said. "Our focus was to test out our hardware and software … train our officials and give them lots of reps with the system … and train our (operations) group." The expectation is for each pit stop to be viewed and cleared in no more than eight seconds and stops are prioritized -- those that are flagged as infractions are moved to the top of the list for immediate attention. The eight officials work through each stop until all have been cleared, reported when necessary and logged. Teams will be notified of any penalties that occur once a stop has been completed. "We’re not going to tell anyone of any violations until they leave pit road," Rodgers said. "That's how we do speeding violations now. So we don't get into this person found out a little bit sooner than that person. That could be different depending on circumstances, he said. "If 35 cars pit at once on the third lap of the Daytona 500 , some … could be told sooner than others." The use of the technology will change the number of officials along pit road. Instead of the approximately two dozen that policed pit stops last year, only 10 will be in the pits this year. And Rogers said they would be stationed behind pit wall where they can respond to any team inquiries and monitor actions from that side of the car when necessary. The officiating system will not be used at stand-alone events for the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series, according to Rogers. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule