Scoring will mirror system used for drivers for all three national series
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- With 14 turns and high-speed sections, it's easy to find trouble at Road America . Journeyman driver Stanton Barrett did during Friday's opening day for the NASCAR XFINITY Series, but from an unexpected source and without ever turning a lap. Barrett, preparing for his fourth XFINITY start of the season for car owner Rick Ware, was unable to get on the track for Friday practice ahead of Saturday's Road America 180 Fired up by Johnsonville (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). There were no issues with the car; instead, a faulty lift-gate motor left the No. 17 entry trapped in the team's hauler while the crew searched for a solution. "It's one of those things, man. It's a bummer," Barrett said. "We'll get it going. We won't be out on the track, so we just have to get the car through tech (inspection) now. There's a lot of work to do." Barrett said the team spent approximately four hours wrangling with circuitry, switches and wiring in an effort to override the system . When all else failed, Barrett checked the manufacturer's label to discover that the company -- Dings Dynamics Group -- was located in Milwaukee, 60 miles south of the 4.048-mile track. The 42-year-old driver dialed the manufacturer up, saying, "It's Stanton Barrett . I drive and need some help!" From there, the company helped the team sort out the problem with the assistance of a local electrician. "Thank God, it worked great," Barrett said. "An electrician came out and helped us bypass all the systems, too. It was really nice that we found all the resources we needed." Coors Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday at 12:15 p.m. ET (NBCSN/Live Extra).
Tony Stewart claims he did not see fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. walking down the track until just before Stewart's car struck the driver during a sprint car race last year in upstate New York, according to court documents. Stewart's view of the incident -- in which Ward was killed -- was made public Friday in a legal response to the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Ward's parents earlier this month. In an Aug. 9 event at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, Ward climbed out of his car following a wreck and walked down onto the track to apparently confront Stewart under caution. Stewart's car struck the 20-year-old, who was killed. An Ontario County (N.Y.) grand jury ruled last September that Stewart would not face criminal charges. Friday's filing by Stewart's attorney Brian Gwitt in part reads: "Stewart did not see Ward Jr. exit his vehicle and was not aware that Ward Jr. had exited his vehicle. Stewart was not aware that anyone had exited the vehicle. "Stewart did not see Ward Jr., or anyone else walking on foot on the track until just prior to contact, and did not know the identity of the person walking on the track until afterwards." The document also notes the initial toxicology report that found Ward had marijuana in his system , which the district attorney said last year impaired the driver's judgment, in its counter to the claims by Ward’s parents.
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
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.
New rule starts at Sonoma, will apply to all three national series RELATED: Confusion about pit-road opening at Chicagoland SONOMA, Calif. – NASCAR officials in race control will now be in control of the indicator light at the entrance to pit road beginning with today's Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. The light and flags, previously both controlled by a NASCAR official at the opening of pit road, indicate whether pit road is open or closed at various points during a race. An issue with that system last weekend at Chicago during an NASCAR XFINITY Series event resulted in 19 drivers pitting under caution before pit road was officially open – because most had heard on the radio officials in the tower announce pit road was open. Teams often make the decision to pit based on information coming from officials in the scoring tower, and the message from the tower was that pit road was open. The official stationed at the pit road opening was displaying a red flag, and the indicator light at the entrance was still red, however, both signifying that pit road was still officially closed. The penalty for pitting too soon under caution is restarting the race at the tail end of the field. Under green-flag conditions, drivers would have to serve a pass-through penalty by returning to pit road a second time. "When you looked at it, the tower did come over the radio and say pit road was open," Steve O'Donnell, Vice President of Competition and Racing Development for NASCAR, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday. "But if you go back to the driver's meeting, what we say in every driver's meeting is that the light and the flag are what dictates whether its open or not. "The person at the opening did not hear the radio communication so the red flag and the light were still on. And in that case if anyone comes down pit road, when it's technically closed via the light or the flag, they'll receive a penalty for pitting too soon." According to one NASCAR official, if for some reason the light and the flag displayed by the official don't match, the flag displayed by the official will indicate the official status of pit road at that time. The change takes effect today and will be in place for all three national series – Sprint Cup , XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Aric Almirola sat out a portion of Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Michigan International Speedway as he dealt with an illness. According to a release provided by Richard Petty Motorsports , Almirola was suffering from what the team hopes is a 24-hour virus. The team said it intended for Almirola to make limited laps in practice in the No. 43 Ford in hopes of participating in Coors Light Pole Qualifying later and retaining his starting spot for Sunday's main event. Almirola did participate in qualifying and will lineup 30th for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). The team retained two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton as a relief driver for the bulk of Friday's lone practice. It isn't the first substitute role in the Sprint Cup Series for Crafton. The 39-year-old driver filled in for Paul Menard , awaiting the birth of his first child, during practice in March 2014 at Auto Club Speedway. Crafton also was an 11th-hour replacement for the injured Kyle Busch in the 2015 Daytona 500 . Almirola is the highest-ranking driver outside of the provisional Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason grid entering Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 . He made his first Chase appearance last year after scoring his first Sprint Cup win at Daytona International Speedway in July. NBCSN reported that Almirola was received treatment at the 2-mile track's infield care center. The change of plans for Crafton was amplified by the adjustment to the high-drag rules package for the Sprint Cup Series this weekend. "It's definitely different," Crafton said after his first stint in the RPM No. 43. "A lot of it's unknown for them because of the new aero packages we have, so nobody knows anything about it. They thought the car would be tight, but I don't think everybody's fighting real tight right now. So, we'll keep working on it."
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan going into the Pure Michigan 400 on August 16 (NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET). MICHIGAN-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ortho Ford) · Four wins, ten top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.048, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 10.093, series-best · Driver Rating of 103.8, series-best · 311 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 179.305, third-fastest · 3265 Laps in the Top 15 (80.1), series-most · 920 Quality Passes, series-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Three wins, five top fives, ten top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 20.286, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 14.669, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 91.0, 10th-best · 184 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 178.517, 12th-fastest · 2620 Laps in the Top 15 (64.3), eighth-most · 682 Quality Passes, ninth-most Dale Earnhardt Jr (No. 88 MICROSOFT Chevrolet) · Two wins, eight top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 12.143, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 12.173, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 98.9, fifth-best · 202 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 179.174, sixth-fastest · 2808 Laps in the Top 15 (68.9), seventh-most · 868 Quality Passes, fourth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 ARRIS Toyota) · Two wins, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 9.810, series-best · Average Running Position of 11.123, second-best · Driver Rating of 101.1, fourth-best · 214 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 179.223, fifth-fastest · 3099 Laps in the Top 15 (76.0), third-most · 887 Quality Passes, second-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 PEPSI Chevrolet) · Three wins, 19 top fives, 27 top 10s; six poles · Average finish of 15.667, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 13.660, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 93.3, seventh-best · 233 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 178.486, 13th-fastest · 2615 Laps in the Top 15 (64.1), ninth-most · 696 Quality Passes, eighth-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/Budweiser Chevrolet) · One win, seven top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.333, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 13.934, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 91.5, ninth-best · 170 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 178.883, ninth-fastest · 2279 Laps in the Top 15 (55.9), 13th-most · 675 Quality Passes, 10th-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · One win, five top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 15.429, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 11.955, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 101.2, third-best · 415 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 179.598, second-fastest · 2909 Laps in the Top 15 (71.4), sixth-most · 776 Quality Passes, fifth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet) · One win, eight top fives, ten top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 17.000, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 15.213, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 89.5, 13th-best · 184 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 178.966, seventh-fastest · 2357 Laps in the Top 15 (57.8), 11th-most · 772 Quality Passes, sixth-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Two wins, 13 top fives, 19 top 10s · Average finish of 11.286, third-best · Average Running Position of 11.319, third-best · Driver Rating of 102.0, second-best · 174 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 179.234, fourth-fastest · 3125 Laps in the Top 15 (76.6), second-most · 873 Quality Passes, third-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · Three top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 14.083, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 13.687, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 90.6, 12th-best · 55 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 178.856, 10th-fastest · 1478 Laps in the Top 15 (63.1), 10th-most · 379 Quality Passes, 12th-most Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · One win, three top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14.154, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 14.207, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 91.9, eighth-best · 82 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 178.951, eighth-fastest · 1445 Laps in the Top 15 (56.8), 12th-most · 410 Quality Passes, 11th-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) · One win, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s · Average finish of 11.053, second-best · Average Running Position of 13.103, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 94.1, sixth-best · 104 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 178.751, 11th-fastest · 2635 Laps in the Top 15 (71.7), fifth-most · 746 Quality Passes, seventh-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 10 at Michigan Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 29 1 1 7 12 1 13.6 91.5 2 Joey Logano 13 1 1 3 8 1 14.2 91.9 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr 32 2 2 8 13 3 15.2 98.9 4 Jimmie Johnson 27 0 1 5 11 3 16 101.2 5 Brad Keselowski 12 0 0 3 5 0 14.1 90.6 6 Martin Truex Jr 19 0 0 4 6 1 17.2 81.1 7 Matt Kenseth 32 0 2 13 19 1 10.5 102.0 8 Kurt Busch 29 2 3 5 10 8 20.6 91.0 9 Jamie McMurray 25 0 0 1 5 2 18.7 72.5 10 Denny Hamlin 19 0 2 5 8 2 15.1 87.9 * – Based on last 21 races at Michigan International Speedway (2005 – 2015). Michigan International Speedway Data Season Race #: 23 of 36 (08-16-15) Track Size : 2-miles Banking/Turn 1 & 2 : 18 degrees Banking/Turn 3 & 4 : 18 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 5 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 2 degrees Frontstretch Length : 3,600 feet Backstretch Length : 2,242 feet Race Length : 200 laps / 400 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Michigan Greg Biffle ................................ 107.1 Jimmie Johnson ........................ 102.5 Matt Kenseth ............................. 101.2 Carl Edwards ............................ 100.5 Dale Earnhardt Jr . ....................... 98.0 Tony Stewart ............................... 95.8 Jeff Gordon ................................ 93.6 Joey Logano .............................. 91.8 Kevin Harvick .............................. 90.2 Kurt Busch .................................. 89.9 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2015 races (21 total) among active drivers at Michigan International Speedway. Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 206.558 mph, 34.857 secs. 08-17-14 2014 race winner : Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 141.788 mph, (02:49:16), 08-17-14 Track qualifying record: Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 206.558 mph, 34.857 secs. 08-17-14 Track race record: Dale Jarrett, Ford 173.997 mph, (2:17:56), 06-13-99 At Michigan International Speedway: History · Michigan International Speedway sits on more than 1,400 acres in the "Irish Hills" of Southeastern Michigan. Ground-breaking took place on Sept. 28, 1967. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan was held June 15, 1969 – won by Cale Yarborough at a speed of 139.254 mph. · The track was known as Michigan Speedway during the time Roger Penske was the primary owner (1996-99). · The first race was 500 miles in length; the second was scheduled for 600. The track was re-measured to 2.04 miles for the last race in 1970 and both races in 1971 – with the race distance being 402 miles. All other races have been scheduled for 400 miles. · The 2-mile speedway underwent a repave in 2012. Starts · There have been 92 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Michigan International Speedway since the first race there in 1969. Other than 1973, which had just one race, there have been two races each season since 1969. · 377 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway; 275 in more than one. · Bill Elliott leads the series in starts at Michigan with 61. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 45 starts. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Michigan with a 9.556. · Two active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver have posted their first career start at Michigan International Speedway: Carl Edwards (8/22/2004) and Landon Cassill (6/13/2010). Poles · Donnie Allison won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Michigan in 1969 with a speed of 160.135 mph. · 46 drivers have Coors Light poles at Michigan, led by David Pearson with 10. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with six. · Six drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Michigan. David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Michigan with five; fall 1976 through 1978. · Youngest Michigan pole winner: Joey Logano (08/16/2013 – 23 years, 2 months, 23 days). · Oldest Michigan pole winner: Mark Martin (08/19/2012 – 53 years, 7 months, 10 days). · One active driver has posted his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Michigan International Speedway: J.J. Yeley (6/17/2007). Wins · 36 different NSCS drivers have won at Michigan International Speedway, led by David Pearson with nine wins; Greg Biffle leads all active drivers with four. · Eight drivers have posted consecutive wins at Michigan International Speedway, including four consecutive by Bill Elliott (1985 sweep and 1986 sweep). · Youngest Michigan winner: Joey Logano (08/18/2013 – 23 years, 2 months, 25 days). · Oldest Michigan winner: Harry Gant (08/16/1992 – 52 years, 7 months, 6 days). · Roush Fenway Racing has the most wins at Michigan in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 13: Mark Martin (four), Greg Biffle (four), Carl Edwards (two), Matt Kenseth (two) and Kurt Busch (one). · Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Michigan; led by Ford with 34 victories; followed by Chevrolet with 23. Toyota has four wins at Michigan. · 18 of the 92 (19.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Michigan have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Jeff Gordon last season. · The Coors Light pole position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (18) than any other starting position at Michigan International Speedway. · 26 of the 92 (28.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Michigan have been won from the front row: 18 from the pole and eight from second-place. · 69 of the 92 (75%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Michigan have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Seven of the 92 (7.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Michigan have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Michigan is 32nd, by Mark Martin in the spring of 2009. · All active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Michigan International Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Tony Stewart won at Michigan in his third appearance, the fewest previous starts among the active NSCS winners. · Kevin Harvick competed at Michigan International Speedway 19 times before winning in the fall of 2010; the longest span of any the active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Among the active NSCS Michigan winners Kevin Harvick (19), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (17) Kyle Busch (13), Jeff Gordon (11) and Joey Logano (10) all made 10 or more attempts before their first win. Additional Finishing Position Stats · Jeff Gordon leads the series in runner-up finishes at Michigan with eight; followed by Darrell Waltrip with seven and Kevin Harvick with five. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough leads the series in top-five finishes at Michigan with 21; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 19. · Mark Martin leads the series in top-10 finishes at Michigan with 31; followed by Bill Elliott with 29. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 27. · Carl Edwards leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Michigan with a 9.818. · Jamie McMurray leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Michigan without visiting Victory Lane at 25; followed by Casey Mears at 24. Track/Event Specific Stats · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway was the June 10, 2001 race won by Jeff Gordon over Ricky Rudd with a MOV of 0.085 second. · There have been two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Michigan International Speedway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): fall of 2011 (200/203); and fall of 2012 (200/201). · Five of the 92 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Michigan International Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the event on 6/14/2015. · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway four times; most recently the spring of 2008 race. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Michigan with 1,058 laps led in 45 starts. Female Competitor Stats · Four female drivers have competed at Michigan International Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie, Robin McCall, Shawna Robinson and Danica Patrick . Of the four female drivers to compete at Michigan, Guthrie has the best finish (10th). Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 19 16 6/14/2015 Danica Patrick 14 18 8/17/2014 Danica Patrick 27 17 6/15/2014 Danica Patrick 28 23 8/18/2013 Danica Patrick 37 13 6/16/2013 Patrick Averages 25.0 17.4 Shawna Robinson 32 34 6/10/2001 Robinson Averages 32.0 34.0 Robin McCall 29 33 8/22/1982 Robin McCall 35 29 6/20/1982 McCall Averages 32.0 31.0 Janet Guthrie 18 27
See how the rookie meeting has evolved over the years RELATED: Labonte's crash still impacts rookies " Youngest, oldest rookie winners One by one, before the first engine has fired and the first car has hit the track, they gather in the NASCAR hauler parked inside the garage. It's a scene repeated every weekend when NASCAR rolls into town. Their levels of experience often differ quite a bit. There are champions and those with numerous starts in lower series seated alongside those with limited experience and much less success. Yet here everyone is treated the same. And everyone carries the same label -- rookie. • • • "A lot of stuff happens fast here," Richard Buck, NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series managing director, tells the group that's gathered on a cool, damp Friday morning at Martinsville Speedway . Each driver has been given several sheets of paper showing diagrams that include the placement of timing and commitment lines, pit entrance and exit and the proper route to enter and exit pit road from the garage area. It's information that is track-specific. While the basic processes that take place during any given race weekend are relatively the same, there are certain details at each venue that those with limited experience need to know. Proper procedures are explained and advice is doled out. "Use your hand signals so you don't start to slow down and get all jammed up and have somebody's radiator in your backseat," Buck tells the drivers. Each week, a veteran driver will also attend the meetings to offer pointers and answer any questions a rookie driver might have. At Martinsville, 2004 premier series champion Kurt Busch was on hand. "Those of you that have made laps around here before, you know how quick it is," Busch said of the series' shortest venue. "It's an awkward track. There's no other place that really compares to this. So the thing you have to do is to get comfortable with the surroundings." Busch said he would often walk around tracks "even if I've been here before" to reinforce the information given during the meeting. "Have your spotters communicate to you where the holes are when you pull out ... your tires will be ice cold here ... they won't help you do much turning when you get into (Turns) 3 and 4 ... but if you're consciously making an effort to warm up your tires, somebody's going to be right on your bumper and it's going to be chaos," he said. Busch also urged them to take note of the commitment and blend lines at Martinsville. "It's the same Turn 2 line that's painted at Bristol," he said later. "But at Bristol, you have two pit roads (one on the frontstretch and one on the backstretch). It's the same line in the same place and it means two different things." Drivers' left-side tires must touch the blend line near Turn 2 at Martinsville before pulling up onto the track. A similar line at Bristol signifies the pit entrance on the backstretch -- touching any portion of it without proceeding onto pit road will result in a commitment line violation. "Now they'll go to Bristol (in two weeks)," Busch said, "and they need to remember." • • • So what constitutes a rookie in the eyes of NASCAR? In most cases, it's up to the discretion of the series director and is based on the individual's prior experience. Matt DiBenedetto , 23, made his first Sprint Cup Series start this year after running the bulk of the races (29 of 33) in the XFINITY Series last season. Brett Moffitt , 22, made seven Sprint Cup Series starts in 2014. Between 2009 and 2013 he made just one XFINITY Series start and two in the Camping World Truck Series. Both are among those competing for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in Sprint Cup , along with Jeb Burton , Tanner Berryhill and Alex Kennedy . To be eligible for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, a driver must attempt to qualify in at least eight of the first 20 points races. A 10-1 point system , separate from the NASCAR championship driver points format, is used for scoring rookies in each race. The highest finishing rookie receives 10 points, second highest receives nine, etc. Only the top 17 finishes by each driver count toward his or her points total at the end of the year. Bonus points are also awarded for attempts, finishing inside the top 10 and upon the completion of the final race of the season. A panel then grades each rookie on conduct with officials, conduct and awareness on the track, personal appearance and relationship with the media. Points awarded by the panel are then averaged and added to each driver's total, and the driver with the most points is the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award recipient. Jeb Burton is one of five rookies this year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. • • • Of course, it wasn't always that way. In 1959, Darlington Raceway , in conjunction with sponsor Pure Oil (later to become Union 76), debuted the Darlington Record Club. Members were those that had qualified highest for each auto manufacturer during time trials for the annual Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway . Special recognition went to those that established track records there as well. While NASCAR had been selecting a rookie of the year for nearly a decade -- Rocky Mount, North Carolina's Blackie Pitt was the first recipient in 1954 –- the Union 76/Darlington Record Club was eventually tasked with monitoring the progress of rookie drivers on the uniquely shaped, treacherous 1.366-mile track. What began as an effort between driver Glenn "Fireball" Roberts and NASCAR official John Bruner Sr., to observe new drivers eventually evolved into a panel of Record Club members whose job was to either pass or fail those drivers attempt to make their Southern 500 debuts. (It's worth noting that the club also played a crucial role in requiring all drivers to complete a physical examination before being allowed to compete at Darlington. Today, a physical examination is mandatory for all three national series prior to the start of each season.) Before the Record Club came into existence, "you just went down there and run," said NASCAR Hall of Fame member Richard Petty, a seven-time NASCAR premier series champion and winner of the 1967 Southern 500. "(The Record Club) was good public relations. It gave those (rookies) something they had to do. Indianapolis (home of the Indianapolis 500) always had a rookie test you had to pass before you could go out and run. Well, we said if they can do it, we can do it, too. "Back then, (Darlington) was a one-groove track through (Turns) 3 and 4, which is now 1-2. We'd explain what you had to do to pass people or let people pass you. Then you just said, 'OK, now go out and run.' " To pass the test, drivers new to the series were required to run within a percentage of a pre-determined speed. "If we were running 130 mph," Petty said, "they would have to run 125 or something like that. Then they'd go out and run six or eight laps on the track by themselves." "It was a little easier to show up at Daytona with a car even though you may not have that much experience and get in the race," three-time series champion and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Darrell Waltrip said. "But they really observed you. If you were somebody new that they didn't know and you showed up at the track, they'd have some drivers that would kind of see how you did, see if you could handle the track and the speed and all that. There was always somebody watching you, but Darlington was the only official test we took." The panel would make its recommendations to NASCAR, but it was up to Bruner, a former flagman who eventually became Chief Steward for the sanctioning body, to make the final call. Richard Petty, who won the Southern 500 in 1967, used to show rookies the ropes at the iconic track. • • • In 1976, the Record Club's competition panel began overseeing the rookie program. Nearly a decade later, one of racing's greatest figures found himself labeled a rookie, and was required to go through the orientation process. Far from being a rookie, Anthony Joseph Foyt, better known simply as A.J., already had seven NASCAR premier series wins to his credit including a victory in the 1972 Daytona 500 . But Foyt, a four-time winner of the Indy 500 as well, had never raced at Darlington. "I am going to Darlington as a bonafide rookie. I don't want anything waived," Foyt told the press prior to his debut. "Why should I be different than anybody else? I know a lot of guys would have too much pride and ego to take the rookie test, but I'm not that type of person." NASCAR driver Ricky Rudd was the president of the Record Club at that time. Among the members of the competition panel were fellow drivers Waltrip and Buddy Baker. "Buddy and I and I forget who else, we observed A.J. Foyt and we flunked him his first day," Waltrip said. "Well, we told him we flunked him. "I told Buddy, I said 'Go down there and tell A.J. that we're going to have to have a meeting about his test because I'm not sure he passed.' Buddy looked at me and said 'Do you think I'm crazy? You go down there and tell him.' " Foyt passed the test, eventually finishing 25th in his only Southern 500 start. • • • Ken Schrader , a four-time race winner in NASCAR's premier series, was in that same rookie class with Foyt in 1985. Schrader posted three top-10 finishes that year en route to winning the Rookie of the Year title, beating out Eddie Bierschwale and Don Hume. Twice he served as president of the Record Club. "Yeah, I got elected president one time, then got elected president another time because at the banquet in Darlington I sat in the back and drank with the wrong group," the fun-loving Schrader said. "I was sitting with, I think, Phil Holmer and T. Wayne (Robertson) and some Unocal folks." Holmer was a Goodyear representative while Robertson headed up series sponsor R.J. Reynolds sports marketing arm. "They threw my ass right in," Schrader said of his election. "My acceptance speed, I stood up and said 'This is (expletive)!' "But the rookie meetings were neat. We'd just go in there, talk about the do's and don'ts for the tracks. Some of it was repetitious obviously but then there was so much about each individual track and it was the first time that some of those guys went to those tracks. Because back then not everybody then came through the Truck or ( XFINITY ) Series. "Now, hell, you're a rookie at a race, you've been to how many places (already)? You've probably raced there in some other series. "So it's a little different now." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule