Next Sprint Cup Series Race * Bristol Motor Speedway * Bristol, Tennessee * Sunday, March 16, 2014
Next Nationwide Series Race * Bristol Motor Speedway * Bristol, Tennessee * Bristol, Tennessee * Saturday, March 15, 2014
Next Camping World Truck Series Race * Martinsville Speedway * Martinsville, Virginia * Saturday, March 29, 2014
Brad Keselowski Capitalizes On Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Fuel Shortage In Las Vegas
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Keselowski Celebrates Second Victory Of The Weekend
Unfortunately for Dale Earnhardt Jr., crew chief Steve Letarte's words proved prophetic. "If it runs out, stay on the track and coast to the finish," Letarte told his driver as he took the white flag in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway -- And that’s exactly what happened. After pulling away slightly from race winner Brad Keselowski during a dramatic battle over the last 15 of 267 laps, Earnhardt ran out of fuel on the backstretch, a half-lap from the finish, and coasted home in second place, 1.531 seconds behind the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford.
Following a scrape with the outside wall and an off-sequence pit strategy, Keselowski took the checkered flag for the first time this season, the first time at LVMS and the 11th time in his Sprint Cup career. The winner of Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race, Keselowski completed the first weekend sweep by a Ford driver since Carl Edwards won both races at Phoenix in 2010. Earnhardt, the Daytona 500 winner, was runner-up for the second-straight race. Paul Menard ran third, followed by pole winner Joey Logano and Carl Edwards, as Fords grabbed three of the top five positions. Six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth completed the top 10.
With a victory, all but guaranteeing a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Keselowski wasn’t surprised that Earnhardt and Letarte were willing to gamble. "It’s such a [relief] for myself and everyone on the team to get that win in early and being able to enjoy the racing opportunities that we have, rather than being stressed out about it," Keselowski said. "The chance that Dale and Stevie took with the 88 car was way out there. It was a good, risky move on their part, because they had nothing to lose because of this [new Chase] format. I think that shows some of the opportunities that come (from having) stress-free days, and I’m looking forward to being able to take those same opportunities, because I’m not scared to take ‘em, and I know (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) is not, so look out."
Committed to a fuel-mileage gamble, a luxury he earned with the Daytona 500 win, Earnhardt stayed on track during Lap 222 pit stops under the fourth caution of the afternoon for debris on the front stretch. It was that same caution that gave Keselowski a welcome opportunity to refuel, a move that put him back on sequence with the rest of the lead-lap drivers other than Earnhardt, Edwards and 12th-place finisher Denny Hamlin. Keselowski restarted seventh but quickly rocketed past all but Earnhardt and Carl Edwards, who also stayed out under the yellow. More than two seconds behind Earnhardt, Keselowski slipped past Edwards on Lap 245 and drew a bead on the leader.
With three laps left, Keselowski had narrowed the interval to .296 seconds, the closest he would get before Earnhardt’s car slowed on the backstretch halfway through the final lap. "I ran two real hard laps right after that restart (on Lap 226), and we got about a 20-car-length lead, and I started lifting real early into both corners and seeing whether they were going to catch me," Earnhardt said. "So I was being pretty cautious and lifting pretty early, and when I saw Brad pass the 99 (Edwards), I knew Brad in clean air would be quicker than us, potentially -- he had been all day -- and I just continued to save fuel and hope that once he got behind me and got into dirty air I could keep him there. I continued to save until he got within about eight car lengths, and then I started running hard, and we were fast enough to keep him behind us. As soon as I got to the top of Turns 1 and 2 the last several laps, I was real comfortable that he wasn't going to get to me, felt fine about, if we had enough gas, we weren't going to have a problem, but we didn't have enough gas."
Using a contrarian fuel-mileage strategy, Keselowski stayed on track when the rest of the lead-lap cars came to pit road on Lap 156, under the third caution of the race for debris on the backstretch. Keselowski’s No. 2 Team Penske Ford took off on old tires and built a lead of more than 2.5 seconds over Kevin Harvick, whose strong run was spoiled by a brake failure as he chased Keselowski. Harvick, last week’s winner at Phoenix, brought his car to pit road on Lap 194 and ultimately lost 30 laps as his team went about repairs in the garage. Keselowski gave up the lead when he came to pit road on Lap 196 and regained it briefly during the subsequent green-flag pit stop cycle. But Earnhardt took the point by staying out for a Lap 226 restart and held the top spot until Keselowski passed him on the final lap. NASCAR News Wire
Brad Keselowski Holds Off Kyle Busch For Nationwide Win In Las Vegas
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Keselowski Celebrates Nationwide Series Victory
In the closing laps of Saturday's Boyd Gaming 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch was close enough to make Brad Keselowski uncomfortable. It didn’t help that Keselowski’s engine sputtered when the voltage in his battery dropped dangerously low. But Keselowski built a big enough lead after a restart on Lap 168 of 200 to ward off Busch’s charge in the closing stages of the race. Keselowski’s first win of the season, his first at LVMS and the 28th of his career left Busch, a Las Vegas native, frustrated in his 11th futile attempt to win a Nationwide Series race on home turf. Busch was runner-up for the second straight year and third time overall.
"Kyle’s one of the best in the business, and he deserves a win here, and he’s been real close, just like we have," said Keselowski, who was leading on the final lap in 2011 before a blown tire knocked him back to third. "These races aren’t getting any easier to win. I drove as hard as I could every lap, knowing that Kyle was coming there, especially at the end. We were having some troubles with the engine there, and I knew it was just a matter of time before he caught me. I was just trying to get through as much traffic as I could and extend that time and was counting down the laps. It felt good that everything worked out at the end."
Kyle Larson ran third, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rookie Chase Elliott. Matt Kenseth, Brian Scott, Trevor Bayne, Chris Buescher and Regan Smith completed the top 10, leaving Smith and Bayne tied for the series points lead. Busch dropped to the rear for the start of the race, because his crew made an unapproved adjustment to the No. 54 Toyota after impound, replacing a frayed alternator belt. By Lap 12, however, Busch had cracked the top 10 and continued to advance through a 56-lap green-flag run to start the race. When NASCAR slowed the field with a debris caution, Busch was third, having gained two positions during an exchange of pit stops under green. But Keselowski was dominant during the middle third of the race, and after a restart on Lap 75 — a result of the second caution for Dylan Kwasniewski’s brush with the Turn 3 wall on Lap 70 — he drove away from Busch, who was running second.
A second cycle of green-flag stops put Busch in the lead on Lap 131. By then, there were seven cars on the lead lap. Busch had a half-second lead when NASCAR called the third caution on Lap 148 because of debris in Turn 2. During pit stops under yellow, Keselowski overshot his pit stall, dropped three positions and restarted fifth on Lap 152, with Busch leading the field to green. Seven laps later, after an intense battle for the lead, Kenseth spun in Turn 4 trying to keep pace with Busch but adroitly kept the No. 20 Toyota off the wall and saved the car from damage.
Keselowski rocketed into the lead moments after the subsequent restart on Lap 162 and held it the rest of the way. Busch picked the outside lane for that restart and immediately dropped positions to Keselowski and Elliott but didn’t consider that choice a decisive factor. "I stepped on the gas, and it felt like I was holding a parachute, the way those guys went by me," Busch said. "I was third before I even got to Turn 1. Junior was pushing me there for a little bit. I don’t know what happened, if he fell off me or what, but… it just wouldn’t go." NASCAR News Wire
Kevin Harvick Holds Off Dale Earnhardt Jr. For Victory At Phoenix
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Harvick Congratulates Crew After Phoenix Victory
In a race that began with an air of inevitability as thick as the storm clouds that pelted Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night, Kevin Harvick survived a succession of late restarts to win Sunday's The Profit on CNBC 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. In his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing and his first with crew chief Rodney Childers, Harvick entered the race as an overwhelming favorite and delivered, despite the best efforts of Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr., who chased Harvick’s No. 4 Chevrolet to the checkered flag. Having shown his speed by pacing both Saturday practice sessions, before the rain came, Harvick led 224 of the 312 laps at the one-mile track, including the final 24, leaving Earnhardt to battle with front row starters Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, who finished third and fourth, respectively, for Team Penske.
The victory was a record fifth for Harvick at Phoenix; he also won the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the one-mile track in November. The 38-year-old driver from Bakersfield, Calif., won for the 24th time in 468 career starts. "Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions," said Harvick, who left Richard Childress Racing after 13 seasons to make the move to Stewart-Haas. "It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in--but what a race car." -- In Harvick’s view, the victory vindicated his decision to change teams. "Rodney Childers has just done a phenomenal job of putting this team together," Harvick said. "These guys all want to win. That’s why they came here. That’s why I came here, too. I’ve just got to thank (owners) Gene (Haas) and Tony (Stewart), and (Stewart’s business manager) Eddie Jarvis. In 2012 I told (Jarvis) it would be fun to have Tony and I on the same team, and here we are in Victory Lane."
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson finished fifth and sixth, with Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Jamie McMurray completing the top 10. Even though Earnhardt had his best speed of the day on his last set of tires, Harvick was able to keep him at bay through four cautions and subsequent restarts in the last 65 laps of the race.
Earnhardt worked his way clear of the Penske cars after the final restart on Lap 304 but ran out of time in his pursuit of the race winner, who arrived at the finish line .489 seconds ahead of the No. 88 Chevrolet. "We got running side-by-side there for second and just let Kevin get out there a little too far," Earnhardt said of the final restart. "I thought we were running him down those last few laps, but we were just too far away. It was a great job by Kevin and his whole team. They did a great job all weekend. They were fast. We worked on our car. We got a little help from our teammates, and it was a lot of hard work to get better and better. I ended up where I thought we should have finished. We were a little faster at the end, but they were stellar—impressive as heck all weekend. I hope everybody enjoyed the race. We were really working our butts off there and giving it everything we had." NASCAR News Wire
Kyle Busch Dominates Rain-shortened Nationwide Race At Phoenix
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Before The Rains Came, Busch Led Most Laps
You can change the cars. You can change the qualifying format. You can change the weather from cloudy to sunny to rainy—multiple times. But, no matter what you do, you can’t keep Kyle Busch out of Victory Lane at Phoenix International Raceway, at least not where the NASCAR Nationwide Series is concerned. In Saturday’s Blue Jeans Go Green 200 at the one-mile track in the Sonoran desert, Busch dominated—again—leading 155 laps en route to his unprecedented third straight NNS victory at PIR and his seventh overall. Busch’s first victory of the 2014 was his 64th overall, extending his own series record, and it was his first in a rain-shortened race in any of NASCAR’s top three series. Despite repeated efforts to dry the track, NASCAR ultimately called the event 32 laps short of its scheduled distance.
With a hard rain falling, NASCAR brought the cars to pit road and halted the race after Busch crossed the finish line to complete Lap 168, under caution for Ryan Reed’s crash into the wall that guards the inside of the backstretch dogleg. After a red-flag period of two hours, eight minutes, NASCAR made Busch’s win official. "I think just the pure dominance we’ve shown here the last few times that we’ve come here and the amount of laps we’ve led with how fast our cars are is pretty phenomenal," Busch said after a rain-soaked celebration. "All the credit goes to Adam Stevens (crew chief) and everybody back at the shop. "It’s fun to win them anyway. This is my first time winning a rain-shortened one. Welcome to the tent. I don’t know that it really made a whole lot of difference. We were really good. I would have loved to gone back out there after, but the weather wasn’t on our side today."
The driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota had taken the point for the first time with a pass of polesitter Brad Keselowski on Lap 6. From that point on, he toyed with the rest of the field, extending his advantage to more than four seconds at its widest. Kevin Harvick was second when rain halted the race, having passed Keselowski on Lap 160. Keselowski recovered from an accident on Lap 20 to run third. A tap from the pole winner sent Darryl Haar spinning into the outside wall off Turn 2 in a collision that also damaged the nose of Keselowski’s car. The 2010 NNS champion restarted 27th on Lap 29 after pitting but worked his way forward and took advantage of his earlier pit stop to retake the lead, since most of the cars behind him had made green-flag stops for tires and fuel before the second caution slowed the race on Lap 90.
Harvick led briefly for the restart on Lap 97, but Busch regained the top spot on the restart lap and never relinquished it. Kyle Larson was fourth, followed by Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler, Trevor Bayne and last Saturday’s Daytona winner, Regan Smith, who retained a five-point lead over Bayne in the series standings. In his first run in the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, Harvick was loose on restarts and soon fell approximately two seconds behind Busch. "From there, we were just able to maintain," Harvick said. "But a good effort for the first time out. ... Kyle had the best car today. We probably finished where we should have." During three breaks in the rain, NASCAR put its Air Titan track-drying system to work, but three more intermittent downpours foiled the efforts to restart the race. NASCAR News Wire
After Six-Hour Delay, The Winner At Daytona Is Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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Jimmie Johnson Congratulates Dale Earnhardt Jr. For 500 Victory
In a race that started in broad daylight and ended 42 minutes before midnight, and with a swatch of tape covering part of his grille, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the rain-interrupted 56th running of the Daytona 500 Sunday night at Daytona International Speedway. Earnhardt was a car-length ahead of Denny Hamlin when NASCAR threw the seventh caution of the race a split second before Earnhardt crossed the finish line to win the Great American Race for the second time in his career. Under NASCAR's new Chase for the Sprint Cup format, Earnhardt's 20th career Sprint Cup Series victory almost assuredly locks him into the 10-race postseason playoff, set to start at Chicagoland Speedway in September. Hamlin came home second as the race ended under caution, with Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon and reigning series champion Jimmie Johnson running third through fifth, respectively.
In Victory Lane, Earnhardt didn't even try to contain his elation. After all, he had just broken a 55-race winless streak. After finishing second in three last four Daytona 500s, he had just won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season opener in his last year with crew chief Steve Letarte, who is headed for the TV booth in 2015. And he had just won his second Daytona 500 a decade after winning his first, holding off Hamlin in a dramatic two-lap dash to the finish.
"Man, winning this race is the greatest feeling that you can feel in the sport, aside from obviously accepting the trophy for the championship," Earnhardt all but shouted over the din of the celebration. "I didn't know if I'd ever get a chance to feel that again, and it feels just as good, if not better than the first because of how hard we tried year after year after year, running second all those years and wondering why and what we needed to do. I've got to get my head together ... This race car was awesome. We showed them all night long how good a car we had, and it's because of these guys right here (his team) putting it together in the shop. We could fight off battles after battles. We got a little help from Jeff (Gordon) to get away on that (last) restart and tried to take care of it from there. This is amazing. I can't believe this is happening. I'll never take this for granted, because this just doesn't happen twice, let alone once. I'm so thankful. Thanks to all my fans out there for supporting. We pretty much might be in the Chase? We get that off our chest and we are two-time Daytona 500 champion!"
After a rain delay of 6 hours 22 minutes, the race ran-caution-free from a restart on Lap 47 to Lap 145, when a wild 13-car wreck in Turn 4 thinned the field. On the inside of a three-wide trio with Brian Scott and Aric Almirola, Kevin Harvick drifted up the track and clipped Brian Scott's Chevrolet, sending Scott into Almirola's Ford and turning it sideways. Almirola hit Danica Patrick's No. 10 Chevrolet, which shot nose-first into the outside wall in the tri-oval, destroying the car. The No. 3 Chevy of polesitter Austin Dillon also sustained damage but remained on the lead lap. Dillon's Richard Childress Racing teammate, Paul Menard, wasn't as fortunate. His No. 27 Chevy, which had led 29 laps, was heavily damaged and lost 14 laps as his team worked feverishly to repair it. "What the hell happened?" Patrick said, as she slid to a stop in the soggy infield grass.
Sixteen laps after the first major incident of the race, Dillon's Chevrolet got loose and tapped the No. 42 of fellow rookie Kyle Larson, triggering an 11-car wreck that slowed the race. At Lap 184, 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne slammed into the outside wall on the backstretch to cause the fifth caution of the race. On Lap 194, contact between Dillon and the No. 31 Chevrolet of RCR teammate Ryan Newman ignited a seven-car wreck in Turn 3 that set up the wild finish. Earnhardt, who was in the lead, ran over the swatch of Bear Bond (tape) from Newman's car under the yellow and tried in vain to remove the tape by driving within inches of the pace car. First out of the race was Martin Truex Jr., whose luck turned from bad to worse on Sunday. With his primary car destroyed in a last-lap wreck in Thursday night's Budwesier Duel at Daytona, Truex had to give up his second-place starting position and take the green flag from the rear of the field in a backup car.
On Lap 32, Truex's engine expired after the oil pump belt dislodged, forcing an early exit from a race the driver of the No. 78 Chevrolet thought he had a chance to win. "The car was super-fast today, and I went to bed last night thinking that this was my best shot ever to win the Daytona 500 and really felt that way, even today," Truex said. "The car was just so good, and we were just riding around and biding our time, being patient and trying to get to the end of this thing. "Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be."
It wasn't meant to be for Tony Stewart or Clint Bowyer either. Stewart, in his first points race after missing the final 15 events of 2013 with a broken right leg, took his No. 14 Chevrolet to the garage with a fuel pressure problem after completing 118 laps, frustrated in his 16th fruitless attempt to win the Daytona 500. Bowyer's engine expired after 127 laps, relegating the driver of the No. 15 Toyota to a 42nd-place finish. Stewart ended the race in 35th, 26 laps down. NASCAR News Wire
Regan Smith Edges Brad Keselowski By .013 Seconds To Win NNS Race At Daytona
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Another Close Finish At Daytona In Nationwide Race
Regan Smith got the bump-drafting help he needed from Trevor Bayne and beat Brad Keselowski to the finish line by .013 seconds to win Saturday's season-opening NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway. In a race that went one lap beyond its posted distance of 120 laps because of a late caution involving Chad Boat and Eric McClure, Smith got help from Bayne in the outside lane and arrived at the stripe in his No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet less than three feet ahead of Keselowski, who was drafting with fourth-place finisher Kyle Busch. Bayne ran third, as he and Smith side-drafted Keselowski and Busch in the inside lane just enough to give Smith a miniscule advantage.
The victory, Smith's fourth in the series and his first at Daytona, was a race of redemption for the 30-year-old driver, who was right in the middle of the last-lap crash in the 2013 season opener. At dinner with team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. the evening of the wreck, Smith got a pep talk, but the memory of the crash and its aftermath lingered. "I'm fortunate that I've got a boss who's been in a lot of situations in the sport and understands a lot of different things over the years in Dale," Smith said. "We went to dinner Saturday night -- we were both getting ready to run the 500 on Sunday… "He just basically said, 'You've got to shake it off. It's racing. It's no fault of anybody's. Things happen. Circumstances sometimes happen.' He offered up a lot of good advice through that situation. And it did bother me. I'd be lying if I said it didn't." Smith, however, didn't allow the memories to intrude on the final lap as he was making the decisive run to the checkers.
Keselowski and Busch couldn't make enough headway in the inside lane to counteract the efforts of Smith and Bayne up top, as drivers tested the limits of NASCAR's edict against push-drafting, a ban communicated to NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers during Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona in January. "We kind of got boxed in there late," Busch said. "The 7 had a good run on the outside with the 6 (Bayne) pushing him. Me and Brad were trying to get going on the bottom, and the 7 was holding us so tight I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time through the corners. He was really on us pretty tight there. "It was interesting the way the lap played out and how much bumping was going on and what you could do and how far was too far -- you're essentially playing with fire." --/-- Keselowski offered a similar perspective. "We cleared the 7 on the restart, and he got a really strong push from the 6 and that was too much for me to be able to hold off," Keselowski said. "Coming off of (Turn) 4, we were all real tight there, and Kyle wasn't able to stay with me and push, and that was enough to get Regan the win."
Saturday's race saw the first enforcement in a points event of the "no-pushing" rule. In the sanctioning body's view, James Buescher was bump-drafting too aggressively after a Lap 76 restart and was hit with a pass-through penalty that cost him a top-10 running position. Buescher, however, made up the lost ground after NASCAR called the third caution on Lap 94 because of debris on the backstretch. He finished 16th. After the field took the checkered flag Earnhardt triggered a multi-car wreck by turning the No. 42 Chevrolet of 10th-place Kyle Larson. In typical fashion, Earnhardt offered no excuses. "We were coming to the finish line," Earnhardt explained. "The 42 (Larson) was shoving me pretty good. I really didn't have anywhere to go. I got down on the apron. I was trying not to come back up on the race track, get quarter-paneled, have a big wreck there. "We were slowing down. I was looking all around trying to figure out where everybody was at. Ran into the back of the 87 (Joe Nemechek) and 39 (Ryan Sieg). Totally my fault. Really wasn't paying attention. I hate it for Joe and those guys 'cause they don't need to be tearing up race cars."
Notes: The finish was the seventh closest in NASCAR Nationwide Series history and second closest at Daytona. The closest finish at the 2.5-mile superspeedway was Tony Stewart's victory by .007 seconds in 2011… Rookie polesitter Dylan Kwasniewski ran eighth in his Daytona debut. NASCAR News Wire
Kyle Busch Nips Timothy Peters For Truck Series Win At Daytona
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Busch Waited For Last Second Pass To Win Truck Race
By the barest of margins, with a bold move to the outside, Kyle Busch overtook Timothy Peters a few feet short of the finish line Friday night to win the season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway. Busch's victory was his first at Daytona in the Truck Series and the 36th of his career. The driver of the No. 51 Tundra gave Toyota its eighth straight Daytona win by .016 seconds. "Certainly I'm going to cherish this one," Busch said. "It's a big win for KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports), not necessarily just myself. Certainly, it's great for Toyota, too, and having Toyota get on the truck tonight and being in Victory Lane is pretty special."
In part, though, Busch was already looking ahead toward Saturday and Sunday and the possibility of a weekend sweep that includes Saturday's Nationwide Series race and Sunday's Daytona 500. "We started the trifecta already, and you've got to win the first one to be able to win all of them," Busch said. "We'll see how (Saturday) goes and see what we can do there." -- Johnny Sauter ran third, followed by Ryan Truex and Ron Hornaday Jr. Ryan Blaney, Jeb Burton, Joe Nemechek, Jimmy Weller III and German Quiroga completed the top 10.
Busch was first off pit road after a fuel-only pit stop on Lap 77, under caution for a 17-car pileup in Turn 2 that started with contact between the trucks of Parker Kligerman and Ross Chastain on Lap 74. After a subsequent caution and restart on Lap 90, Peters grabbed the lead and held it until Busch made the winning pass.
"He had a good run on me coming off Turn 4, and you know—he's Kyle Busch," said Peters, who leads the series driver standings, with Busch not competing for a championship in the trucks. --/-- Peters had the only car that could pull the outside line in a side-by-side draft. "We just built a really fast truck," Peters explained. "Like I said, it goes back to (crew chief) Marcus Richmond, his ideas, the guys at the fab shop just really being precise on every piece they build on the truck. I believe that our truck, as long as it was leading, was the only one that would pull that outside line."
Ben Kennedy started on the pole, with the field ordered by practice speeds because of a qualifying rainout earlier in the day. The No. 31 held the top spot until Jennifer Jo Cobb's No. 10 Chevrolet stalled on the backstretch to bring out the second caution of the race on Lap 51. During the ensuing pit stops under yellow, Kennedy stalled leaving his pit box. Though he was first across the timing line at the end of pit road, Kennedy did not maintain cautious pace as he re-fired his engine and restarted sixth on Lap 56, with Busch in the lead. Kennedy's wasn't the only snafu on pit road. Ryan Ellis was entering his stall as Blaney was exiting his, and contact between the trucks sent Ellis spinning. Tyler Reddick stalled leaving his pit stall. Defending series champion Matt Crafton overshot his pit box and fell to 28th for the Lap 56 restart.
Busch and Peters swapped the lead as the outside line began to move for the first time in the race, and those two drivers ran side by side until Lap 64, when Peters cleared Busch and moved down in front of the No. 51. That's the way they ran until the massive wreck on Lap 74 knocked half the field out of contention. Note: Kyle Busch is the first driver to win at Daytona in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series, as well as the ARCA Series... Busch's crew chief, Eric Phillips, tied Rick Ren for most wins by a crew chief in the Truck Series with 28. NASCAR News Wire
Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin triumph in Budweiser Duel qualifying races
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Last Lap Crash In Daytona's Second Twin Race
Matt Kenseth outran Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne in a three-wide finish Thursday night at Daytona International Speedway, as the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet won the first 150-mile qualifying race in the Budweiser Duel at Daytona. Sprint Unlimited winner Denny Hamlin took the second Duel under caution after a wreck in Turn 4 of the final lap ended a run that had been caution-free to that point. The win gave JGR a sweep of the first three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events at Daytona and cemented the Gibbs drivers as favorites in Sunday's Daytona 500. Jeff Gordon ran second to Hamlin, with Kurt Busch, Paul Menard, Brian Scott and Trevor Bayne claiming third through sixth, respectively. The last-lap wreck totaled the No. 48 Chevrolet of defending Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson, who already had destroyed a car in Saturday's Sprint Unlimited.
In a race that was devoid of yellow flags from start to finish, Kenseth drafted back past Harvick after the No. 4 Chevrolet made a move to the inside of Turn 4 on the final lap of Duel No. 1 and won the race to the stripe by .022 seconds. Kahne took the lead duo three-wide to the inside in the tri-oval and finished third, .062 seconds behind Kenseth. Harvick's No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet failed post-race inspection, however, and his finish in the Duel was disallowed. Harvick nevertheless qualified for Sunday's Daytona 500 but will start 38th.
In the second Duel, Johnson triggered the wreck when he ran out of fuel and slowed in the final corner. Jamie McMurray rammed the back of Johnson's Chevy, turning the car and starting a chain reaction that saw Clint Bowyer's car flipping and landing on its wheels and Martin Truex's Chevy in flames as it crossed the finish line in eighth place. Truex had qualified on the outside of the front row for the Daytona 500 but will give up his starting position and drop to the back because the wreck will force him to use a backup car. "I feel terrible," Johnson said. "To tear up that many race cars, to see the No. 15 flip -- I feel terrible, and certainly want to apologize to everyone. I tried to get up out of the way; I had my hand out of the side (signaling he was out of fuel). But last lap coming to the checkered, there is so much going on right there. So much energy in the pack that I knew I was going to get run over if I ran out, because guys warned me about it -- and it did. Thankfully, everyone is all right, and I certainly feel bad for the torn-up race cars."
Hamlin, on the other hand, is clearly on a roll. "Once that snowball starts to roll, it's hard to stop it," said Hamlin, who will line up fourth in the Daytona 500, with Gordon and Busch in sixth and eighth behind him. "And right now, we're just on a heck of a run." Brothers Bobby Labonte and Terry Labonte, both past series champions, were far enough behind the wreck to roll through unaffected, and, ultimately, both raced their way into the field for Sunday.
In winning the first-ever Duel run under the lights, Kenseth claimed the third starting spot for Sunday's Daytona 500. Because of Harvick's infraction, Kahne will start fifth. Marcos Ambrose and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were third and fourth in the first Duel, after Harvick's penalty, and will start the Daytona 500 seventh and ninth, respectively. "The race ended up unfolding great for us," said Kenseth, a two-time Daytona 500 winner. "We learned a lot in the race. I had the car in some positions that I wouldn't want to do again if I had to do it over. I was able to make some moves, get up to second behind Junior there for a long time, ultimately take the lead. At the end, I saw Kevin making that move. You weren't going to be able to block it without wrecking. I just tried to get back to him, and, thankfully, I had enough time to get that run to the finish line."
Danica Patrick locked up a spot in the 56th running of the Great American Race with a 13th-place run. Tony Stewart, Patrick's car owner and teammate, raced his way into the Daytona 500 field with an 10th-place result, after Harvick's penalty. Stewart missed the last 15 events of the 2013 season after breaking his right leg in an Aug. 5 sprint car accident in Iowa but could have relied on a past-champion's provisional had he not finished in the top 15 in his Duel. -- Cole Whitt and Alex Bowman each will start the most prestigious NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race for the first time after finishing 11th and 14th, respectively.
Daytona 500 pole winner Austin Dillon came home 18th in the first Duel but accomplished his most important objective -- keeping the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet intact for the start of Sunday's race. "Yeah, we ran on the outside there for a while," Dillon said. "As soon as we got kind of going backwards and three-wide or whatever, I said 'Alright, now it's time to go back there and play the patient game.' It's no fun, but we get to start on the pole for the Daytona 500 with a really fast car." --/-- Whitt and Swan Racing teammate Parker Kligerman both wrecked in practice on Wednesday. Kligerman went to a backup car and ran 17th but made the field on an owner points provisional. Whitt's team worked tirelessly to repair his No. 26 Toyota. "We weren't ready to give up," said Whitt, who cracked the top 15 with a strong last-lap run. "We knew coming down here -- it was already hard for us to even get down here, let alone the things that happened to our team (Wednesday) -- not just our car, from Swan Energy losing two cars. "My guys pulled together and made it happen. My hat is off to them. Everything so far has just been pretty amazing. To be in the Daytona 500 is something I've dreamed of my whole life. Kind of a hard way to do it, but being out and back in with just a lap or so to go is pretty gnarly."
In the second Duel, 2012 champion Brad Keselowski led Laps 2-35, but his race fell apart when the No. 2 Ford was flagged for speeding on pit road during a Lap 36 stop. A subsequent flat tire put Keselowski three laps down. Though he finished last in the second Duel, Keselowski made the field as the sixth fastest qualifier and will start 33rd on Sunday. Eric McClure, Ryan Truex, Morgan Shepherd, Joe Nemechek and Michael McDowell failed to make the 43-car field. Shepherd, 72, was attempting to become the oldest driver to qualify for the Daytona 500. NASCAR News Wire
Austin Dillon Puts No. 3 On Coors Light Pole For The Daytona 500
Austin Dillon, driving the historic No. 3 car in its return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition for the first time since 2001, won the Coors Light Pole for the 56th running of the Daytona 500 – NASCAR’s most prestigious race and season opener. “The Great American Race” is scheduled to take place on Sunday, Feb. 23 at Daytona International Speedway (1 p.m. on FOX, Motor Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The late Dale Earnhardt, whose excellence in the No. 3 elevated the number to iconic status, was the last to drive the No. 3 – a car number he drove to six of his record-tying seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships. A last lap crash in the 2001 Daytona 500 took Earnhardt’s life, and the No. 3 car had not been run since. “You want to perform with the No. 3; everyone wants to see it perform,” said Dillon, who won the pole with a lap of 196.019 mph (45.914 seconds). “It's a long season … and this is one of the top points. You want to carry that momentum going forward. I just have to stay grounded and have fun."
It was announced last December that the No. 3 Chevrolet would return to full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup competition this year, with Dillon driving. Dillon is the grandson of Richard Childress Racing owner Richard Childress, who also ran the No. 3 as a driver from 1976-81, and was car owner for all six of Earnhardt’s series championships driving the No. 3 car. Earnhardt, a member of the inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class, was the last driver of the No. 3 car to win a Coors Light Pole, at Watkins Glen in August of 1996. Earnhardt also won the pole for that year’s Daytona 500, the last time the No. 3 started on the pole for The Great American Race. This is the fourth time the No. 3 has won the pole for the Daytona 500, and its 67th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole, overall.
In addition, Dillon, who won last year’s NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, becomes the fifth Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender to win the pole for the Daytona 500. He joins Loy Allen Jr. (1994), Mike Skinner (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2002) and Danica Patrick (2013). Today’s Coors Light Pole Qualify set the front row for the Daytona 500; Martin Truex Jr. will start second in the race. The remaining starting positions will be determined Thursday night in the Duel at Daytona (7 p.m. on FOX Sports 1, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). NASCAR News Wire
Denny Hamlin Wins Sprint Unlimited At Daytona
CIA Stock Photos
Hamlin Celebrates Victory At Daytona
Denny Hamlin survived a war of attrition to win Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season-opening exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway. The winner of all three segments of the 75-lap event, Hamlin was running up front and out of harm's way when a wreck halved the field early in the second segment. And on a night when the pace car caught fire and had to be abandoned between the second and final segments, Hamlin won the race with a three-wide move on the backstretch on the next-to-last lap at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. The event was decided in a five-lap dash after a Lap 66 collision with Marcos Ambrose in Turn 1 eliminated the No. 88 Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had surrendered the lead to Joey Logano two laps earlier.
Brad Keselowski ran second, followed by Kyle Busch, Logano and Kevin Harvick, whose No. 4 Chevrolet was damaged in the nine-car wreck that punctuated segment No. 2. "The best car won -- that's for sure," said Hamlin, who won the last race of the 2013 season, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "Two in a row now. We're building on something. That was survival of the fittest, that's for sure.
"With three (laps) to go, we were at the tail end of a very small pack, and it's really hard to get runs. But this car was phenomenal." With 15 laps left, Kyle Busch spun in Turn 4 off the nose of Keselowski's Ford, as Busch tried to move down the track. The resulting yellow gave Ryan Newman and Hamlin a chance to make pit stops. Fresh tires certainly helped the race winner.
After fan voting closed at 6 p.m., drivers learned the structure of the race -- segments of 30, 25 and 20 laps in that order. When the engines were fired, roughly 55 minutes after the close of another fan vote, the method of ordering the field was revealed, and the starting lineup was set according to speeds in Friday's final practice. That put Hamlin on the pole, with Jamie McMurray beside him. Matt Kenseth, Newman and Jimmie Johnson, who sat out the final practice session, started 16th through 18th, respectively in the 18-car field. Typical of restrictor-plate racing, however, starting position had little relevance. Hamlin went from the pole to last place and back to the lead again in the first 35-lap segment. Johnson advanced from the tail end of the field to the top five within the space of 20 laps.
In danger of losing the draft on Lap 6, Danica Patrick rallied to run as high as third in the first segment, using the inside line to advance to the front, as Hamlin and Johnson did likewise. But Johnson's night ended early, after he spun off Turn 4 on Lap 30, bringing the first 30-lap run to an end under caution. Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet was too badly damaged to continue, marking the third straight year the six-time champion has crashed out of the season-opening exhibition race. "Well, that didn't last long," Johnson posted on his Twitter account. Johnson's wreck paled in comparison with the nine-car melee that followed on Lap 37 of the second segment. Kenseth turned sideways near the start/finish line after contact with the No. 22 Ford of Logano. The resulting wreck collected most of the cars behind Kenseth.
Tony Stewart, racing for the first time since breaking his right leg in a sprint car accident on Aug. 5, was pinned against the outside wall in a three-car tangle that included the Chevrolets of Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s Ford slammed into the Chevy of girlfriend Danica Patrick, who had spun in the tri-oval. Kenseth apologized for triggering the wreck, which started when Kenseth tried to move from the outside to the inside lane and hit Logano's Ford. "I was just kind of easing my way down there, and I had no idea Joey was that close to me," Kenseth said. "…Not the way you want to start the season." - Stewart seemed no worse for the wear after climbing from his car. There's no pain right now," he said. "But we'll see what happens in about an hour when the adrenaline wears off."
Stenhouse was out of control after running into the back of Busch's Chevrolet in the pileup that damaged all four Stewart-Haas Racing entries. "I didn't see anything from the time it started to the time it ended," Stenhouse said. "Talking to Danica when I got in there (infield care center) that I drilled her when she was pretty much sitting still. I couldn't see, couldn't turn and just really destroyed our Nationwide Insurance Ford." The accident left nine cars to take the green flag on Lap 41, including two -- Logano's Ford and Harvick's Chevy -- that were involved in the crash. Harvick quickly dropped back and lost the draft because of crash damage but stayed on the lead lap through the end of the segment. Hamlin grabbed the lead on Lap 47 and held it for the final nine laps of the segment No. 2, crossing the start/finish line .131 seconds ahead of Keselowski.
The final fan vote of the night, announced before the last 20-lap run, determined the restart lineup for the final segment would be set by running order off pit road after a mandatory pit stop, with crews changing at least two tires. Hamlin won the race off pit road, lost the lead to Earnhardt but worked his way back to the front a lap and a half before the finish. NASCAR News Wire
Enfinger Wins 51st Lucas Oil ARCA 200 at Daytona
Grant Enfinger, in the Team BCR Motor Honey-Casite-Advance Auto Parts Ford, beat the field to the checkered flag Saturday afternoon, winning the Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAVTV American Real at Daytona Int'l Speedway. It was his third victory in the last 21 ARCA Racing Series races. Enfinger, from Fairhope, Ala., took the lead from polesitter Dylan Kwasniewski on lap 52 and stayed there. "Good track position won us this race," he said. "We had the track position at the end." Frank Kimmel finished second in the Ansell-Menards Toyota with Clay Campbell third in the Ken Schrader Racing Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet. Tyler Reddick, 18, finished fifth in his first Daytona start in the Broken Bow-Cunningham Motorsports Dodge, one spot behind teammate Tom Hessert in the CAREGARD-AxiomWarranty.com Dodge. Reddick was the highest-finishing rookie and was named the SCOTT Rookie Challenge rookie of the race.
The rest of the top 10 included Bobby Gerhart, Mason Mitchell, Terry Jones, Chase Elliott and Sean Corr. John Wes Townley was 11th with Brian Silas 12th, Derrick Lancaster 13th, Kwasniewski 14th and Brian Rose 15th. Enfinger, who won at Mobile and Iowa last year, started second and swapped places with Kwasniewski several times. At one point, he said, he was content with running behind Kwasniewski as he learned more about his own car. Then, he said, he tried a pass. "I wanted to see what would happen for later in the race," he said. "Then, I drove by him. It kind of surprised me. "The 4 (Kwasniewski) and 9 (Elliott) were good cars. I knew that anything could happen, but track position was in our favor the whole day."
A crash on lap 13 took several cars out of the race. The yellow flag came out again with 14 laps to go with Enfinger in the lead. The ARCA Racing Series has a new rule this year with its double file restarts, meaning the field came to the green, double-file. Enfinger chose the inside lane with Frank Kimmel behind him and Elliott on the outside. "I've worked with Frank in the past and never had any issues," Enfinger said. "I had a lot of confidence." Kimmel said his runner-up finish was a good start as he tries to defend his series championship. He said he didn't think he was going to get by Enfinger when the two were single-file coming down to the white and checkered flag. "I think it ended the way it probably would end no matter what we did," Kimmel said. "It's great for Win-Tron Racing to start the year with a second-place finish."
Campbell, who is the president of Martinsville Speedway, had his best-ever ARCA finish. He's making two starts this season for Ken Schrader Racing, which will have a car at all 20 races on the series schedule. "It was a blast," Campbell said. "I think I need a couple of months before I can do this again." Campbell said he planned to follow Kimmel, whether or not he went to the outside and tried to pass Enfinger or if he stayed behind him. "Kenny Schrader Racing gave me a great car," he said. "You can do all sorts of things here, but first and foremost you've got to have a great car." - Kwasniewski, planning to run the full season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, took turns leading the race during the first 50 laps, but lost the draft and several positions. "We were trying to get up there," Kwasniewski said. "We tried. Turner Scott Motorsports gave me a great car, obviously. We kind of got hung out to dry. I learned a ton today."
Elliott, 18, has one career ARCA win. He had a top five car most of the day but dropped back slightly toward the end. "I thought we had a really good finish to get the win in the last re-start, but we didn't have any help right there," Elliott said. - Enfinger is hoping to run a full season with Team BCR and is hoping a victory at the "World Center of Racing" will help push that cause. "I am very, very blessed to do what I love to do for a living," he said. "Having a moment like this is pretty incredible. This race means everything. Everybody knows this race. It's just great for me and Team BCR. This is just incredible."
The 51st ARCA race at Daytona had three cautions for 25 laps. Other than Enfinger (42) and Kwasniewski (34), Maryeve Dufault led four laps and was in the top five for the first third of the race in her first appearance in the No. 46 HotTVBrands.com-Tattle Tale Alarms Ford. Gerhart, in the Lucas Oil-MAVTV American Real Chevrolet, started with a provisional after a technical inspection disallowed his qualifying lap. Then, early in the race, his car scrapped the wall. But in the end, however, he was back into the top 10 and battling for a top five position. Chris Bailey Jr. was the final car on the lead lap, finishing 16th. The next event on the ARCA Racing Series schedule is March 22 at Mobile International Speedway in Mobile, Ala. (ARCA Racing
NASCAR Announces Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship Format Change
NASCAR announced a new championship format today that will put greater emphasis on winning races all season long, expands the current Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field to 16 drivers, and implements a new round-by-round advancement format that ultimately will reward a battle-tested, worthy champion. “We have arrived at a format that makes every race matter even more, diminishes points racing, puts a premium on winning races and concludes with a best-of-the-best, first-to-the-finish line showdown race – all of which is exactly what fans want,” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. “We have looked at a number of concepts for the last three years through fan research, models and simulations, and also maintained extensive dialogue with our drivers, teams and partners. The new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will be thrilling, easy to understand and help drive our sport’s competition to a whole new level.”
Changes announced by France to the championship format include
A victory in the first 26 races all but guarantees a berth in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup – a change that will put an unprecedented importance on winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race all season long
Expanding the Chase field from 12 to 16 drivers, with those drivers advancing to what now will be known as the NASCAR Chase Grid
The number of championship drivers in contention for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship will decrease after every three Chase races, from 16 to start in the Chase Grid; 12 after Chase race No. 3; eight after Chase race No. 6; and four after Chase race No. 9
The first three races of the Chase (27-29) will be known as the Challenger Round; races 30-32 will be known as the Contender Round; races 33-35 will be the Eliminator Round and race No. 36 will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship
A win by a championship-eligible driver in any Chase race automatically clinches the winning driver a spot in the next Chase round
Four drivers will enter the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship with a chance at the title, with the highest finisher among those four capturing the prestigious NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
Eligibility for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup
The top 15 drivers with the most wins over the first 26 races will earn a spot in the NASCAR Chase Grid – provided they have finished in the top 30 in points and attempted to qualify for every race (except in rare instances). The 16th Chase position will go to the points leader after race No. 26, if he/she does not have a victory. In the event that there are 16 or more different winners over 26 races, the only winless driver who can earn a Chase Grid spot would be the points leader after 26 races. If there are fewer than 16 different winners in the first 26 races, the remaining Chase Grid positions will go to those winless drivers highest in points. If there are 16 or more winners in the first 26 races, the ties will first be broken by number of wins, followed by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver points. As was implemented in 2011, prior to the start of the Chase, all Chase Grid drivers will have their points adjusted to 2,000, with three additional bonus points added to their total for each win in the first 26 races.
Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Structure
After the third Chase race, the Chase Grid will be left with 12 drivers. After the sixth Chase race, the field will drop to eight drivers, and following the ninth Chase race, only four drivers will remain in championship contention for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title.
The first round (races 27-29) will be called the Challenger Round. If a driver in the Chase Grid wins a Challenger Round race, the driver automatically advances to the next round. The remaining available positions 1-12 that have not been filled based upon wins will be based on points. Each will then have their points reset to 3,000.
nd round (races 30-32) will be called the Contender Round. Likewise, if a driver in the top 12 in points wins a race in the Contender Round, the driver automatically advances to the next round. The remaining available positions 1-8 that have not been filled based upon wins will be based on points. Each will then have their points reset to 4,000.
The third round (races 33-35) will be called the Eliminator Round. If a driver in the top eight in points wins a race in the Eliminator Round, the driver automatically advances to the next round. The remaining available positions 1-4 that have not been filled based upon wins will be based on points. Each will then have their points reset to 5,000.
Additionally, drivers who are eliminated in the Contender and Eliminator Rounds will have their points readjusted. Each eliminated driver will return to the Chase-start base of 2,000 (plus any regular season wins bonus points), with their accumulated points starting with race No. 27 added. This will allow all drivers not in contention for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title to continue to race for the best possible season-long standing, with final positions fifth-through-16th still up for grabs.
Four Drivers, First-to-the-Finish Championship Finale
The 36th and final race of the season will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Simply stated, the highest finisher in that race among the remaining four eligible drivers will win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. Bonus points for laps led will not apply in the season finale, so the official finishing position alone will decide the champion. Note: All rules outlined above also apply to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner championship structure. NASCAR News Wire
New NASCAR National Series Qualifying For The Coors Light Pole Award Unveiled
In a move aimed toward enhancing the fan experience watching at the track and at home, NASCAR has announced a new group qualifying format for its three national series that is more compelling, more closely emulates actual on-track competition and underlines the sport’s on-going commitment to innovation.
At tracks measuring 1.25 miles in length or larger, qualifying for the Coors Light Pole Award will consist of three rounds:
The first qualifying elimination round will be 25 minutes in duration and includes all cars / trucks. The 24 cars / trucks that post the fastest single lap from the first qualifying round will advance to the second round.
The remaining cars / trucks will be sorted based on their times posted in the first round of qualifying in descending order.
The second qualifying elimination round will be 10 minutes in duration and the 12 cars / trucks that post the fastest single lap time will advance to the third and final round. The fastest remaining cars / trucks earn positions 13th through 24th based on their times posted in qualifying in descending order.
The third and final qualifying round will be five minutes in duration and the fastest single lap time will determine positions 1st through 12th in descending order.
There will be a five-minute break between each qualifying round.
At tracks measuring less than 1.25 miles, qualifying for the Coors Light Pole Award will consist of two rounds:
The first qualifying elimination round will be 30 minutes in duration and includes all cars / trucks. The 12 cars / trucks that post the fastest single lap time from the first qualifying round will advance to the second and final round.
The remaining cars / trucks will be sorted based on their times posted in the first round of qualifying in descending order.
There will be a 10-minute break between the two qualifying rounds.
The second and final qualifying round will be 10 minutes in duration and the fastest single lap time posted will determine positions 1st through 12th in descending order.
The new qualifying format does not apply to the Daytona 500, which will preserve its historic and unique qualifying format. Additionally, it does not apply to non-points NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events or the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Eldora Speedway. NASCAR previewed the concept of group qualifying with its national series teams late last fall and expects the new format will be a well-received improvement by its fans, competitors, tracks, sponsors and media partners.
“We believe the timing is right for a new qualifying format across our three national series,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president for competition and racing development. “This style of group qualifying has all the makings of being highly competitive and more engaging to our fans in the stands and those watching on television and online. For the drivers and teams, we believe this new qualifying will fuel even greater competition leading into the events. Additionally, it provides our tracks, broadcasters and other key partners with a greater opportunity to develop more entertaining content for our race weekends.” NASCAR News Wire