Sprint Cup

NASCAR Sprint Cup News Wire
  • Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    NASCAR Driver Capsules, July 30
    By The Sports Xchange

    Capsules for the top 20 drivers in the Sprint Cup standings, plus five additional drivers of note.

    • By Jerry Bonkowski and Bob Moore

      24 JEFF GORDON, Chevrolet

      Team: Hendrick Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: Jeff Gordon remained in first place for the seventh consecutive week after Indianapolis and for 13 of the last 14 weeks. Gordon leads second-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 24 points and Brad Keselowski by 51 points.

      POCONO RECORD: 43 career starts, 6 wins, 19 top-5s, 30 top-10s, 2 poles. Best career finish: First in early summer race in 1996, 1997, 2007, 2011 and late summer race in 1998 and 2012. Finished second in this race last year and was eighth in this year's early summer race there.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Making his 44th career start at Pocono, the Brickyard 400-winning Gordon is looking for not only his second win in a row, but also an early birthday present. He turns 43 on Monday, the day after the race. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race: "The cool thing about Pocono is the three different corners - one is high-banked, one is flat and one is the 90-degree 'Tunnel Turn.' You approach each differently and you have to drive each differently. The car needs to be set up with compromise in mind to get through each of the corners. It's tricky. It's challenging."

      LOOKING BACK: Gordon led 40 laps at Indianapolis, taking the lead 16 laps from the end to win a record fifth time in the Brickyard 400 this past Sunday at Indianapolis.

      ETC.: Gordon has completed 96.2 percent (7,917) of the 8,227 total laps contested in 43 career starts at Pocono. His average start is 11.5 and average finish is 10.0. He has five DNFs there.

      88 DALE EARNHARDT JR., Chevrolet

      Team: Hendrick Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: Former points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. remained in second place for the third consecutive week. Earnhardt trails points leader and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon by 24 points and is 27 points ahead of third-ranked Brad Keselowski.

      POCONO RECORD: 29 career starts, 1 win, 8 top-5s, 12 top-10s, 1 pole. Best career finish: First in early summer 2014. Finished fifth in this race last year and was first in this year's early summer race there.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Making his 30th career start there, Earnhardt is looking to sweep both 2014 races at Pocono, having won there in June. If he were to win, it would be his third victory of the season, tying him with Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson. Here's Junior's thoughts on Sunday's race: "It seems like guys that run well there can sort of sustain it. I've seen guys sweep there, or at least have opportunities to sweep and come close. I like the track. We have run well there since the repave, and I anticipate us being competitive again."

      LOOKING BACK: After finishing 10th at New Hampshire, Earnhardt had another good run at Indianapolis, finishing ninth.

      ETC.: Earnhardt has completed 97.2 percent (5,276 laps) of the 5,427 total laps contested in 29 career starts at Pocono. His average start there is 14.8, and average finish is 15.8. He has one DNF there.

      2 BRAD KESELOWSKI, Ford

      Team: Penske Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: Brad Keselowski remained in third place for the second consecutive week. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 51 points (was 36 behind before Indianapolis), is 27 points behind second-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr., and leads fourth-ranked Matt Kenseth by five points.

      POCONO RECORD: Nine career starts, 1 win, 3 top-5s, 4 top-10s, 0 pole. Best career finish: First in late summer 2011. Finished sixth in this race last year and was second in this year's early summer race there.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Making his 10th career start at Pocono, Keselowski is looking to pick up where he left off there last month when he finished second to race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. Here's Keselowski's thoughts on Sunday's race: "We did have an exceptionally strong car there back in June and coming up short of the victory definitely left an impression on me and the whole team. We feel as though we are better now than we were then in a lot of areas, and that bodes well for us this weekend. I am looking forward to it."

      LOOKING BACK: Keselowski went to Indianapolis hoping for his third win in four races, and his first career Brickyard 400 win. Unfortunately, he fell short of both, finishing 12th at Indy.

      ETC.: Keselowski has completed a perfect 100 percent (1,542) of the 1,542 total laps contested in nine career starts at Pocono. His average start is 15.7 and his average finish is 12.3. He has zero DNFs there.

      20 MATT KENSETH, Toyota

      Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: Matt Kenseth remained in fourth place for the second consecutive week after Indianapolis. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 56 points, is five points behind third-ranked Brad Keselowski and leads fifth-ranked Jimmie Johnson by 23 points.

      POCONO RECORD: 29 career starts, 0 wins, 3 top-5s, 10 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Third in early summer 2003. Finished 22nd in this race last year and was 25th in this year's early summer race there.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Kenseth will be making his 30th career Sprint Cup start at Pocono this Sunday. The 2.5-mile tri-oval is not one of his favorite tracks and his stats show it. In his last four starts there, Kenseth has finished 23rd, 25th, 22nd and 25th. He hasn't had a top-five finish since the early summer 2006 race there. Kenseth is also still in search of his first win of 2014, but feels good about where he's at: "I feel like we've been gaining on it. I thought at Kentucky we were all pretty good. (At) Loudon we were all really good. I thought we were all top-five cars, Brad (Keselowski) had us. (At Indy) we were more like third to eighth-place cars. When we had track position we were pretty quick."

      LOOKING BACK: Just like he did at New Hampshire, Kenseth finished fourth for the second consecutive race, this time in the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis. He anchored a 2-3-4 Joe Gibbs Racing finish at Indy, with teammates Kyle Busch finishing second and Denny Hamlin third.

      ETC.: Kenseth has completed an outstanding 99.1 percent (5,376) of the 5,427 total laps contested in 29 career starts at Pocono. His average start there is 18.5 and average finish is 15.3. He has zero DNFs there.

      48 JIMMIE JOHNSON, Chevrolet

      Team: Hendrick Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: Jimmie Johnson remained in fifth place for the second consecutive race following Sunday's Brickyard 400. He trails points leader and teammate Jeff Gordon by 89 points (was 72 behind before Indy), is 23 points behind fourth-ranked Matt Kenseth and leads sixth-ranked Kyle Busch by 19 points.

      POCONO RECORD: 25 career starts, 3 wins, 10 top-5s, 17 top-10s, 3 poles. Best career finish: First in early summer 2004 and 2013, as well as late summer 2004. Finished 13th in this race last year and was sixth in this year's early summer race there.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Pocono is a track that Johnson has enjoyed great success at. It fits his racing style well and he and the No. 48 team have been able to consistently record strong finishes there. Here's Johnson's thoughts on this Sunday's race: "(I'm) very excited to go back to Pocono. In June, even with a damaged car, we still had a chance to win. We took a gamble on strategy late in the race and I really think it was the right move if we had a straight race car and a car that didn't have some bent suspension on it. So we still had a good finish, but I am very excited to go back to Pocono. I just love that track."

      LOOKING BACK: Johnson went to Indianapolis hoping to earn a record fifth win in the Brickyard 400, only to have teammate Jeff Gordon win a record fifth Brickyard instead. Johnson, meanwhile, finished 14th.

      ETC.: Johnson knows how to stay out of trouble at Pocono: He's completed 99.8 percent (4,618) of 4,627 total laps in 25 career starts at Pocono. His average start there is 9.1 and his average finish is an excellent 8.7. He has zero DNFs there.

      18 KYLE BUSCH, Toyota

      Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: Kyle Busch climbed two spots, from eighth to sixth in the Sprint Cup standings, after Indianapolis. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 89 points (was 103 points back prior to Indianapolis), is 19 points behind fifth-ranked Jimmie Johnson and leads seventh-ranked Ryan Newman by three points.

      POCONO RECORD: 19 career starts, 0 wins, 4 top-5s, 7 top-10s, 1 pole. Best career finish: Second in early summer 2010 and late summer 2011. Finished eighth in this race last year and was 12th in this year's early summer race there.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Busch makes his 20th career start at Pocono this Sunday and is still seeking his first career Sprint Cup win there. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race: "Everyone at JGR and Toyota have been working really hard and we are starting to see that pay off. We've had three second-place finishes in the last four races. We would certainly like to have more trophies to show for it but, when you start running well like we have been, good things are going to come of it. ... I'm hoping some of that momentum will translate to this weekend at Pocono since we struggled in the first race there and we want to improve on that run from June."

      LOOKING BACK: Busch came close to earning his first Brickyard 400, but Jeff Gordon was just too strong, relegating Busch to a second-place finish at Indianapolis.

      ETC.: Busch has completed 92.3 percent (3,185 laps) of the 3,452 total laps contested in 19 career starts at Pocono. His average start there is 13.4 and his average finish is 17.5. He has four DNFs there.

      31 RYAN NEWMAN, Chevrolet

      Team: Richard Childress Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: Ryan Newman remained in seventh for the second consecutive race after Indianapolis. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 111 points (was 97 points behind before Indy), is three points behind sixth-ranked Kyle Busch and leads eighth-ranked Carl Edwards by three points.

      POCONO RECORD: 25 career starts, 1 win, 9 top-5, 13 top-10, 2 poles. Best career finish: First in late summer 2003. Finished fourth in this race last year and was seventh in this year's early summer race there.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Newman has been knocking on victory's door at Pocono for the last four years, with three top-five and five top-10 finishes in his last eight starts there. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race: "I am looking forward to returning to Pocono Raceway. I expect it to be even better to race on the second time around because it should have held and retained some of the rubber we pushed down in the asphalt back in June. Plus, I think we learned a lot from Indy this past weekend that should help us for this weekend's race. Based on how we ran in June and what we did this past Sunday, we should have a shot at contending for the win this weekend."

      LOOKING BACK: Newman's hope of a second consecutive Brickyard 400 win came up short this past Sunday, as he finished 11th.

      ETC.: Newman has completed 98.8 percent (4,577) of the 4,627 total laps contested in 25 career starts at Pocono. His average start there is 10.3 and average finish is 11.5. He has two DNFs there.

      99 CARL EDWARDS, Ford

      Team: Roush Fenway Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: Carl Edwards was the only driver in the top-10 to fall in the Sprint Cup standings after Indianapolis. He dropped two spots, from sixth to eighth after Sunday's Brickyard 400. He trails series leader Jeff Gordon by 114 points, is three points behind seventh-ranked Ryan Newman and leads ninth-ranked Joey Logano by 12 points.

      POCONO RECORD: 19 career starts, two wins, five top-5, eight top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: First in early summer 2005 and late summer 2008. Finished 11th in this race last year, and was a career-worst 41st in this year's early summer race there due to a wreck 17 laps from the finish.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Edwards looks to give himself an early 35th birthday present (he's born on August 15th) in the 20th start of his Sprint Cup career at Pocono. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race: "We didn't have the best showing at the Brickyard, but we've got some things that we've been working on. We've been trying to make a lot of progress as a group and I'm excited to go to Pocono with two wins because now we can take what we've learned at Pocono, our Michigan test and Indy and we can apply those things that we've learned. ... We've got six more weeks to race just for wins and for fun before it gets serious in the Chase."

      LOOKING BACK: Edwards was seeking his first Brickyard 400 win, but was never in the game, finishing 15th this past Sunday at Indy.

      ETC.: Edwards has completed 95.3 percent (3,289) of 3,452 total laps contested in 19 career starts at Pocono. His average start there is 16.8 and average finish is 14.8. He has one DNF there.

      22 JOEY LOGANO, Ford

      Team: Penske Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: Joey Logano remained in ninth place for the second consecutive race after Indianapolis. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 126 points, is 12 points behind eighth-ranked Carl Edwards and leads 10th-ranked Clint Bowyer by 14 points.

      POCONO RECORD: 11 career starts, 1 win, 1 top-5s, 3 top-10, 2 poles. Best career finish: First in early summer 2012. Finished seventh in this race last year and was a career-worst 40th in this year's early summer race there, suffering engine issues with 10 laps remaining.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Logano is looking to bounce back from the uncharacteristic engine failure and 40th place finish at Pocono earlier this year, especially after teammate Brad Keselowski finished second to race-winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. in that race. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race: "The only pressure I feel is wanting to win a couple of more races before the Chase begins and get a few more bonus points. I'm happy that we can go into Richmond knowing that we have nothing to worry about this year. There will be no pressure to try and make the Chase, we're already in. ... I think we just need to keep doing what we are doing, get a little extra momentum building at the right time and go into the Chase as a hot team. There is no reason that this team can't win the title this year. We all believe it."

      LOOKING BACK: Logano had a strong rebound from his 40th-place finish at New Hampshire, leading 10 laps and finishing fifth in this past Sunday's Brickyard 400.

      ETC.: Logano has completed a near-perfect 99.5 percent (1,932 laps) of the 1,942 laps contested in 11 career starts at Pocono. His average start there is 12.7 and average finish is 17.8. He has one DNF there.

      15 CLINT BOWYER, Toyota

      Team: Michael Waltrip Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: Clint Bowyer remained in 10th place for the second consecutive race after Indianapolis. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 140 points, is 12 points behind ninth-ranked Joey Logano and leads 11th-ranked Kevin Harvick by 12 points.

      POCONO RECORD: 17 career starts, 0 wins, 1 top-5s, 7 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Third in late summer 2006. Finished 14th in this race last year and was 11th in this year's early summer race there.

      LOOKING AHEAD: While Bowyer is 10th in the Sprint Cup standings, he's a bit more precarious 14th in the pre-Chase rankings. That makes it all the more important Bowyer win a race in the remaining six prior to the start of the Chase, so to assure he'll make the playoffs by virtue of a win. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race: "I'm ready to go back to Pocono. It was actually looking like we may have a top-five there in June but (Joey) Logano blew up in front of us with like 10 laps to go and I lost spots trying to get out of the way. Just our luck this year. But the good news is our Toyota was good and it should be again this weekend."

      LOOKING BACK: Bowyer led three laps in this past Sunday's Brickyard 400, but tailed off in the second-half of the race to finish 16th.

      ETC.: Bowyer has completed 98.3 percent (2,997 laps) of the 3,048 total laps contested in 17 previous career starts at Pocono. His average start there is 18.5 and average finish is 14.8. He has zero DNFs there.

      4 KEVIN HARVICK, Chevrolet

      Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 11th, 12 points out of the top 10. Gained two spots last week. Has secured a spot in the Chase as a result of his two wins.

      POCONO RECORD: Nine top-10 finishes including five top-five's in 27 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Harvick admits "Pocono is just one of those places where I haven't had a ton of success. I think right before they repaved it was probably about the time I started to figure the old Pocono out and started to run better. Probably the best memory I have there is winning a truck race. That is about the extent of it for me."

      LOOKING BACK: Harvick won the pole with a record speed of 188.889 miles per hour. But once the green flag was waved, Harvick's hopes of finishing first went away quickly. "We just started off bad really from the first lap," said Harvick. "The Jimmy John's Chevrolet was just way too tight as we went through the day, and we never could make it better. We just made it worse most of the day. Just way too tight." As a result, Harvick had to be content with an eighth-place finish.

      ETC.: Harvick feels "it's time to get into Chase form. We just have to make good decisions throughout the day and as few mistakes as possible and see what the car is capable of doing and getting the best finish we can out of it. We've been through some problems and feel like we've fixed all the problems with our cars, and the pit crew has been working hard, and I feel like that's kind of the last thing we have to overcome to put ourselves in 100 percent championship form."

      42 KYLE LARSON, Chevrolet

      Team: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

      WHERE HE STANDS: 12th, 15 points out of the top 10. Gained two spots last week. Would make the Chase if the Chase for the Championship began this week.

      POCONO RECORD: Finished fifth in the June race in his Cup debut. Led seven laps.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Larson is "looking forward to getting back to Pocono and seeing if we can improve on our first race there, where we had a fifth-place finish. I think we will be able to take away some of what we learned last weekend at Indy to help our setup this weekend, and we obviously had some good data from our test there and the previous race. I think our team is a little better since we were last there, so we'll try to use that strength to get our Chevy into victory lane."

      LOOKING BACK: Larson was all smiles after finishing seventh in his first start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "It was a good day for us," said Larson. "We were a top-10 car all race. Had some good restarts there most of the race. The Target Chevy was really good. We were just too tight on short runs. We just kind of got tighter, then loose off (the corner). Everybody was kind of struggling with grip out there so it was fun. Cool that we finished in the top-10 at the Brickyard. To see Jeff Gordon win is pretty special. It's kind of like Junior (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) winning the Daytona 500 this year. It was a really good day for everybody and all the fans."

      ETC.: With only six races left until the Chase begins, Larson said, "every race is important to us right now. We can't make any more mistakes or have any more bad luck. For example when we get to Pocono where we finished fifth before we have to set fifth as a goal, but hopefully try to do better. It's getting closer and closer each week, and we are doing everything we can to make the Chase."

      3 AUSTIN DILLON, Chevrolet

      Team: Richard Childress Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 13th, 18 points out of the top 10. Gained two spots last week. Would make the Chase if the Chase for the Championship began this week.

      POCONO RECORD: Finished 17th in his Cup debut in June.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Dillon feels he "learned a lot in June (at Pocono) that I think we can apply to the August race. We're building a notebook we can apply to the second half of the season. All of our RCR cars are getting better each and every week. It's a work in progress. We're working hard at every level of our organization. I'm looking forward to going to tracks for the second time."

      LOOKING BACK: Despite having trouble communicating with his crew, Dillon was able to rally in the final 17 laps to finish 10th in just his second start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "It was a really good day and I'm proud of everyone at Richard Childress Racing," said Dillon. "Gil Martin (crew chief) and all of the guys. We had a communication issue at the beginning of the race, but they worked to fix the antenna. I'm so proud of my brother, Ty, for winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday. Seeing that really got me fired up to do well."

      ETC.: It has been a busy week for Dillon. On Monday, he tested at Watkins Glen International. On Tuesday, he raced his dirt late model at Boyd's Speedway in Chattanooga, Tn. On Thursday, he will appear at a press conference to promote the upcoming race at Michigan. And on Saturday, he will compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Pocono. "The more track time I get at Pocono, the better," said Dillon.

      5 KASEY KAHNE, Chevrolet

      Team: Hendrick Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: 14th, only four points out of a spot in the Chase. Gained three spots last week.

      POCONO RECORD: Won the August race a year ago. It was his second win at the track and his seventh top-10 finish including five top-five's in 21 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Kahne said, "Our team had a really great effort and did a nice job at Indianapolis last weekend. I was really happy with our day and how we performed. It was definitely the strongest effort the team has put out all season long. All of us were working together all weekend, and we ended on a high note with a strong performance. We have five more good tracks for us and six more races (until the Chase begins), so hopefully we can get a win at one of those places."

      LOOKING BACK: Kahne was leading when the green flag was waved for the final time with only 17 laps to go. Kahne chose the inside lane for the restart following the fourth yellow flag of the race. "Looking back, I should have chosen the top (lane)," said Kahne. "I fought pretty hard (in a duel with teammate Jeff Gordon for the lead). It just didn't work out (as Gordon grabbed the top spot as they raced off turn one)." After losing the lead, Kahne slowed to conserve fuel, but he still ran out of gas with one lap to go and finished sixth for his fourth top-10 finish in the last six races. Kahne led four times for a race-high 70 laps.

      ETC.: Before heading to Indy last week, Kahne spent a day in Buffalo where he visited Pole Position Raceway inside the Walden Galleria Mall. Pole Position Raceway is a legendary indoor motorsports entertainment facility that boasts the fastest electric karts on the east coast. "That was a lot of fun," said Kahne, who later that day visited the GM Tonawanda Engine Plant. While at the plant, Kahne presented a check for $60,000 from the GM Foundation to six Buffalo charities.

      27 PAUL MENARD, Chevrolet

      Team: Richard Childress Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 15th, only eight points out of a spot in the Chase. Lost four spots last week to fall out of a spot in the Chase.

      POCONO RECORD: Only two top-10 finishes in 15 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Menard is not one of those people who believe if you run well at Indianapolis you will run well at Pocono. "Not really," said Menard. "They are totally different race tracks. They're so different setup-wise that there's not a whole lot that translates. The way you drive and the shifting at Pocono isn't something you do at Indy. You just do a lot of different things with how you drive the race car. We definitely learned some things last time (at Pocono) that we will apply this time."

      LOOKING BACK: Menard's hopes for a good run ended early when he was clipped by Juan Pablo Montoya and send hard into the third-turn wall on lap 32 of the 160-lap event. Menard lost two laps while repairs were made to his car and he was never able to recover from this incident as he finished 34th. Crew chief Slugger Labbe was livid after the race. "We're running for a spot in the Chase, and some part-time racer left-rears us and puts in the fence," said Labbe. "Then you're done. People have no respect. I just don't get Juan Pablo, what he's doing. You'd think the guy would come over and apologize or something. He's never used his head, he's always wrecked people and he got us (today)."

      ETC.: The team is determined to bounce back from the bad week it had at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "We were in good shape for the Chase going into Indy, but we left there outside the Chase," said Menard. "But we still have six races to make up the points we lost at Indy. We still are confident that we can make the Chase."

      16 GREG BIFFLE, Ford

      Team: Roush Fenway Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 16th, only nine points out of a spot in the Chase.

      POCONO RECORD: Finished 10th in the August race a year ago. Has one win and six top-10 finishes in 23 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Biffle knows the team needs to run a lot better this weekend than it did in June when he finished 16th. "Pocono has been a good track for us, but we were a little off in June," said Biffle. "We need to get back running like we used to at Pocono. We aren't that far out a spot in the Chase. We just need to start putting together a streak of top-10s beginning this week."

      LOOKING BACK: Biffle battled an extremely loose race car for most of the race as the team was forced to make some "big swings" in trying to get the car where Biffle could pass people. "We battled rear grip all day," said Biffle after his 13th-place finish. "We got the car better at the end, and our strategy also helped us get a top-15 finish on a day when we struggled for most of the race. So we are still in the hunt (for a spot in the Chase)."

      ETC.: Car owner Jack Roush announced the organization's lineup for 2015 which will be headed by Biffle, who has been part of Roush Fenway Racing for 16 years. Biffle will be the veteran of the group with the decision by Carl Edwards to move elsewhere next year. "Greg Biffle is one of the most purely talented racers I've ever seen behind the wheel of a car, and his experience combined with the raw natural abilities, enthusiasm and desire in both Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and Trevor Bayne have me very excited for the future," said Roush.

      55 BRIAN VICKERS, Toyota

      Team: Michael Waltrip Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 17th, 27 points out of a spot in the Chase.

      POCONO RECORD: Five top-10 finishes including four top-five's in 15 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Vickers knows time is running out in his bid to win a race before the Chase begins, but he doesn't feel the team needs to do anything drastic in its bid to get that elusive first win of the season. "I think the biggest thing we have to do is get consistent about what we're doing and make small improvements," said Vickers. "Anytime you swing for the fence it can go either way. We just need to do what we did at Indy in qualifying, which was maximize potential for the weekend, have good practice, good qualifying and then follow it up and stay up front and get track position and be there at the end of the race."

      LOOKING BACK: Vickers seemed headed for a top-10 finish when his car got real loose on the final restart and he lost 11 spots as he ended up 19th at Indy. "That's so disappointing," said Vickers. "We had a good car all day, especially on the long runs but just needed some track position. We were in good shape running eighth with less than 20 laps to go. I went into turn one on the restart (with 17 laps remaining) and it just took off. Everyone on this Aaron's Dream Machine Camry deserved so much better today."

      ETC.: Vickers admits that passing at Pocono is difficult. "It's definitely challenging to pass, but it's a competitive series," said Vickers. "It's challenging to pass everywhere. Racing is as tight as it's ever been and as many cars on the lead lap as there's ever been."

      14 TONY STEWART, Chevrolet

      Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 18th, 30 points out of a spot in the Chase.

      POCONO RECORD: Two wins and 22 top-10 finishes including 12 top-five's in 31 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Stewart believes the key to running well at Pocono is getting through turn three well. "It's important to get through that turn well because you have a straightaway that three-quarters of a mile long after that," said Stewart. "You need to come off that corner quickly so that you aren't bogged down when you start down that long straightaway. Each corner has its challenges, and each one tends to present a different set of circumstances with each lap you make."

      LOOKING BACK: After starting sixth, Stewart had high hopes for his home track. But those aspirations were erased soon after the start of the event as he told his crew he was "really loose back to the gas" as he dropped to 19th in the running order. But by the midway point of the race, the crew's major adjustments had Stewart going "in the right direction." But on lap 118, Stewart headed to pit road for an unscheduled pit stop because of a flat tire. He was now a lap down before rallying in the final 40 laps to finish 17th.

      ETC.: After another high-successful truck race at his Eldora Speedway, Stewart said, "If this continues to go as well as we hope, there's no reason the other two divisions (Sprint Cup and Nationwide) couldn't possibly come in the future." When asked if he had talked to NASCAR about such an idea, Stewart smiled as he said, "I haven't yet. That's why I just threw you (the media) the bone and let you plant the seed for me."

      9 MARCOS AMBROSE, Ford

      Team: Richard Petty Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: 19th, 48 points out of a spot in the Chase.

      POCONO RECORD: Two top-10 finishes in 11 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Ambrose said, "Pocono is a breast within itself. It's one of the biggest ovals that we go to. It has three distinct corners, different shapes and banking, and there isn't a setup that you can put in the car that is going to make everything perfect. For me, I put an emphasis on getting out of turn one quickly and also out of turn three well. Also, we need to make sure we have the best speed in the car to get down the long straightaways. We were a bit off in the first race, but our cars are better and we should have a good race on Sunday."

      LOOKING BACK: After changing transmissions, Ambrose had to start at the back of the pack. He rallied to finish 22nd. "We were pretty good in the middle of the race," said Ambrose. "The track changed, but we lost grip and just couldn't hang onto the top-10. We had to try something (after starting last) and Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) made good calls. It (the pit strategy) gave us our best chance today and I have to thank the guys for that. We just couldn't get the grip we needed at the end."

      ETC.: Will Ambrose be heading home after this season? That is the question being asked in the garage areas after an Australian newspaper reported Ambrose was considering returning to Australian in 2015 to run in the V8 Supercar Series for Roger Penske. Ambrose told the media "if I had something to say, I'd already say it." Car owner Richard Petty said, "You'll have to ask him. It's probably up to him as much as anything. Does he want to go home? That's going to be up to him. He's been good for Richard Petty Motorsports."

      1 JAMIE MCMURRAY, Chevrolet

      Team: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

      WHERE HE STANDS: 20th, 60 points out of a spot in the Chase.

      POCONO RECORD: Finished 10th in the June race for his fifth top-10 finish in 23 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: McMurray is another driver looking forward to the return trip to Pocono "We had a pretty decent run there back in June, so we feel like we can go back and have a good understanding of where we need to be," said McMurray. "Hopefully we can put our Bad Boy Buggies Chevy SS in position to contend for a win."

      LOOKING BACK: McMurray finished 20th at Indy. "We had an up and down day today," said McMurray. "Our Cessna Chevy started out pretty good and we raced up to the top-10. I thought we would be in position for a solid finish. The next-to-last set of tires that we had were just not very good. We had to pit on that last caution for four new tires and that put us back in the field again. Track position is so critical at Indy and we just had to pass a few too many cars at the end. I'm just disappointed that we couldn't make more of a battle to the finish."

      ETC.: McMurray knows his chances of earning a spot in the Chase via the point standings are pretty slim. "To make up 60 points in six races is pretty hard," said McMurray. "We will need to run top-five or top-10 every week to have any chance. But we feel we have six chances left to win a race, and we feel we have run well enough this year to win one."

      11 DENNY HAMLIN, Toyota

      Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: After the penalties handed down by NASCAR on Tuesday, Hamlin is 21st. Lost nine spots last week because of the penalties. Has secured a spot in the Chase as a result of his Talladega win.

      POCONO RECORD: Won the pole and finished fourth in the June race. Overall has four wins and 11 top-10 finishes including nine top-five's in 17 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: During the post-race inspection at Indianapolis, NASCAR had several "possible issues" with Hamlin's car and several parts were confiscated and taken to the research and development center for further evaluation. On Tuesday, the governing body said the 11 team had been penalized for a P5 level infraction. Crew chief Darian Grubb was fined $125,000 and suspended for six races. Car chief Wesley Sherrill also was suspended for six races. In addition, Hamlin was docked 75 driver points and car owner Joe Gibbs lost 75 car owner points. The team said they plan to appeal the penalty, but Grubb and Sherrill will begin serving their suspensions this weekend at Pocono.

      LOOKING BACK: Despite a fuel foul-up in the pits, Hamlin was able to rally and finish third at Indianapolis. Hamlin led twice for 18 laps and seemed headed for a possible win when disaster struck in the pits. "We were going to have a 15-second lead with enough fuel to make it (to the end of the race)," said Hamlin. "We were sitting really, really pretty to win this race - just didn't get it full on that last second to last stop. We had a fast car. We had a car capable of winning. We just didn't get it full. Had to make that extra stop."

      ETC.: The parts that NASCAR confiscated at Indy were the rear firewall block-off plates. One crew chief told Motorsport.com that if the firewall block-off plates are not sealed off sufficiently, air can flow through the firewall enabling the car to gain anywhere from 20 to 30 pounds of rear downforce.

      43 ARIC ALMIROLA, Ford

      Team: Richard Petty Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: 22nd. Will make the Chase as a result of his Daytona win earlier this month.

      POCONO RECORD: Best finish in five starts is 18th.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Almirola calls Pocono "a really difficult track. We struggled there in June. All three turns are so different at Pocono. Our goal is to score a top-15 finish and build some momentum in the next few weeks. With the win at Daytona, we are able to take some gambles to try to make our cars better. Heading into this weekend, we can take some more chances on the setup on the car to see if we can get better there."

      LOOKING BACK: Almirola was forced to go to a back-up car after hitting the wall during qualifying. This meant he had to start at the rear of the field. Despite battling a loose race car at the end of the event, Almirola was able to finish 21st at Indy. "That's a decent finish, but I'm frustrated because we've got to figure out how to get more speed," said Almirola. "We dug ourselves a hole this weekend and finished 21st. We had one run where we drove up to 15th, and I thought we were going to be pretty good, and I don't know if we got a bad set of tires or what, but we could never recover after that."

      ETC.: Richard Petty feels the newly formed Race Team Alliance was necessary because NASCAR is not doing enough to help team owners cut costs. "It's really kind of a bad idea from the standpoint that NASCAR should be doing what we're doing," said Petty. "That's my main objective. Can I save money on insurance? Can I save on travel? Can we save on stuff we are doing to the race car? Stuff like that - to keep from having to overpay what we are doing now. Our main deal is not to run NASCAR. Anything we do to tear NASCAR down is cutting our own throats. We're going to do everything we can to make NASCAR bigger and better. Because if we don't, then we're out of business."

      A J ALLMENDINGER, Chevrolet

      Team: JTG Daugherty Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 23rd, 93 points out of the Chase. Gained three spots last week.

      POCONO RECORD: Only one top-10 finish in 13 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Allmendinger hopes having raced at Pocono earlier this year will be the boost the team needs to start off the weekend in good fashion. "We're hoping that going back to these tracks a second time will help us," said Allmendinger. "At least, we will have somewhere to start from when we begin the first practice on Friday. For the most part, our biggest struggles have been being off when we start practice. It's when we unload and we are off, we have to play catch up from there."

      LOOKING BACK: Allmendinger finished 18th at Indy. "It was a tough weekend for us," said Allmendinger. "I'd say we maximized everything we could there. I'm really proud of the guys because the car wasn't really good and they kept fighting and working on it. I also want to give a big thank you to the engine side of it because that thing was fast. That saved us a lot because I was not good off the corners. I did everything I could and took what I could get. I think 18th-place is probably better than where we should have finished."

      ETC.: Allmendinger knows "we didn't have a great car the last time at Pocono, but it was not terrible. We needed to work on our Scott Products Chevrolet in certain areas. We're hoping this time around we will be able to start a little closer to where we need to be. We need to build a whole program around practice and just starting closer. That's what we need to do to have a better race."

      78 MARTIN TRUEX, JR., Chevrolet

      Team: Furniture Row Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 24th, 94 points out of a spot in the Chase. Lost one spot last week.

      POCONO RECORD: Finished ninth in the June race for his sixth top-10 finish in 17 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Truex said, "We learned during the first half of the year a whole lot of what not to do. It's been a tough season so far. We had a lot of bad luck along the way, too. I really feel we will be better off the second time around at these tracks. A lot of times during the first half of the year we were so far off at some of the tracks we could never catch up. But on the other hand, there were tracks that we did make some headway and Pocono was one of them."

      LOOKING BACK: After running in the top 15 for most of the race, Truex ran into major handling problems in the final 20 laps and finished 25th at Indy. "The car didn't feel the same at the end," said Truex. "We were making gains throughout the race but something didn't click at the end and that was costly for our Furniture Row team."

      ETC.: Truex believes his team has been "on the edge of making a major break-through but haven't been able to make that hurdle to get to the next level. While it's been disappointing, no one is hanging their hands. We just keep on plugging away, making changes until we find the combination that will deliver more speed and better handling."

      41 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet

      Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 25th. Has secured a spot in the Chase as a result of his Martinsville win.

      POCONO RECORD: Busch finished third in the June race for his second straight third-place finish and his third consecutive top-seven finish. In the last six races, he has one runner-up finish and three third-place finishes. Overall has two wins and 15 top-10 finishes including 11 top-five's in 26 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Busch believes Pocono and Indy are "very similar. There are the long, flat straightaways that you're trying to balance the car out for the least amount of drag, and that translates from Indy to Pocono. You can call the race differently, though, as far as pit strategy goes. But these are to sister race tracks that you can definitely say that the same program can work at both."

      LOOKING BACK: A badly-timed caution flag and an ill-handling race car resulted in a 28th-place finish for Busch at Indy. "That caution that came out just after we pitted really hurt," said crew chief Daniel Knost. "We never got our lap back, so it was a long, long day for the Haas Automation team."

      ETC.: Busch hopes to do the Indy-Charlotte double again in 2015. "I'm more than willing to jump back in and try to do a full 1,100 miles because that's the objective to try complete all 1,100 miles," said Busch. "It's something special. It's a target and it's only been achieved once." Busch finished sixth in this year's Indianapolis 500 in his first start in the famed event. But he suffered engine failure while running in the top 10 in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. "I really enjoyed it (running both races in the same day)," added Busch. "Afterwards it felt like it took a week or two to settle back into the Cup rhythm. But overall to have a plaque to say Rookie of the Year, Indianapolis, to qualify at 230 miles an hour for a four-lap average, that was exciting."

  • Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    No. 11 JGR team slapped with heavy penalties
    By The Sports Xchange

    By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

    • Distributed by The Sports Xchange

      NASCAR hit the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team with a points penalty of unprecedented magnitude for infractions discovered during Sunday's post-race inspection at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the sanctioning body announced late Tuesday afternoon.

      NASCAR inspectors found violations with the rear firewall block-off plates of the No. 11 Toyota driven to a third-place finish by Denny Hamlin. NASCAR rules mandate that the firewalls be sealed to prevent airflow from the inside to the outside of the car.

      Venting or failing to seal the block-off plates can provide an aerodynamic advantage by adding downforce to the car, especially useful at a flat track such as IMS, where maintaining momentum through the corners is of paramount importance.

      NASCAR docked Hamlin 75 driver championship points and team owner Joe Gibbs 75 owner points. Crew chief Darian Grubb was fined $125,000 and suspended for six weeks, meaning he will be lost to the team until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup's opening weekend at Chicagoland Speedway in September.

      Car chief Wesley Sherrill also drew a six-week suspension. Both Grubb and Sherrill were placed on probation for the next six months.

      The points penalty is the largest since NASCAR instituted its new one-point-per-position scoring system in 2011. And since 75 points are the functional equivalent of 312 under the previously-used Latford scoring system, the points penalty is the largest ever imposed.

      Joe Gibbs Racing issued a statement after the penalties were announced indicating the organization's intent to appeal the penalties. Grubb and Sherrill, however, will begin serving their suspensions this week and will miss this weekend's NASCAR activities at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.

      The infractions rose to the level of P5 under the new deterrence system introduced by NASCAR before the 2014 season. P6 is the designation for the most egregious violations.

      NASCAR indicated on Sunday at the Brickyard that there were "possible issues" with the rear firewall block-off plates of the No. 11. The sanctioning body confiscated the parts in question, took them to the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., for further inspection and evaluation and announced the findings and penalties on Tuesday.

  • Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    Hamiln's team penalized at Brickyard
    By The Sports Xchange

    Denny Hamlin and his team were penalized Tuesday for an major infraction at the Brickyard 400 on Sunday, but the impact of the sanctions was minimal because Hamlin already has nearly locked down a spot for the Chase for the Championship.

    • Hamlin crew chief Darian Grubb and car chief Wesley Sherrill were suspended for six weeks and put on six months' probation by NASCAR after the Joe Gibbs Racing car failed a post-race inspection at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Grubb also was slapped with a $125,000 fine.

      NASCAR's inspection uncovered problems with the rear firewall in the driver compartment that could create more downforce. The P5 penalty, as determined by a NASCAR scale, is considered "extremely serious."

      The suspensions run through the Sept. 6 race at Richmond. Neither Grubb nor Sherrill will be able to return until the first race in the Chase for the Championship on Sept. 14 in suburban Chicago.

      Joe Gibbs Racing said Tuesday that it plans to file an appeal, but both Grubb and Sherrill will start serving the suspensions immediately.

      Hamlin finished third in the race won by Jeff Gordon. Hamlin also was stripped of 75 points and dropped from 11th to 22nd in the season standings. But the lost points will have little impact on Hamlin's Chase for the Championship after he all but secured a spot with a win at Talladega in May.

  • Monday, July 28, 2014
    The Green Flag: Mega milestones in reach for Gordon
    By The Sports Xchange

    By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

    • Distributed by The Sports Xchange

      In Sunday's Crown Royal presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard, Jeff Gordon won the 90th race of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career.

      That's third on the all-time list, 15 races behind second-place David Pearson. No one, not even Gordon, thinks reaching Pearson's 105-victory mark is realistic. Since his six-win season in 2007, Gordon has been to Victory Lane nine times.

      Fifteen more is a lot to ask.

      But Gordon does have milestones that are within reach. Starting with his Cup debut in the final race of the 1992 season, Gordon hasn't missed a race in 22 years. At Indianapolis on Sunday, he started his 745th straight event.

      Assuming Gordon stays in the seat of the No. 24 Chevrolet in every race through the 2015 season, he will break Ricky Rudd's series-record 788 consecutive starts in the 28th race next year.

      Gordon led 40 laps on Sunday, bringing his career total to 23,949, sixth most all-time. If he drives for two more seasons beyond the current one, he has a realistic shot at leading 25,000 laps, perhaps catching the next driver on the list, Pearson, who racked up 25,159 laps led.

      Gordon and teammate Jimmie Johnson are currently 1-2 in career prize money earned. Gordon has won $141,808,966 (exclusive of contingency awards) to Johnson's $139,274,851. The way Gordon is running now, he may well win the race to $150 million.

      Even if he doesn't get to 105 victories, that's a nice consolation prize.

      NASCAR NUMBER

      2,561: The number of laps completed by Tony Stewart in 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Stewart is the only driver to have finished on the lead lap in every Brickyard 400 in which he has raced. That streak was in jeopardy on Sunday, when Stewart fell one lap down, but an opportune caution helped him to a 17th-place, lead-lap finish.

      3: The number of drivers who have won races on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in three different decades. On Sunday at the Brickyard, Jeff Gordon joined the exclusive club whose membership previously was confined to Indy 500 winners Bobby Unser and Rick Mears.

      70: The number of laps led by Kasey Kahne in Sunday's Crown Royal presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That's six more laps than Kahne had led in 19 previous races this season.

      12: The number of consecutive victories for Chevrolet in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis, an amazing streak for a single manufacturer. The last non-Chevy winner of a Cup race at the Brickyard was Bill Elliott in a Ray Evernham Dodge.

      8: The number of years since a driver has swept both events in a single season at Pocono Raceway. Denny Hamlin last did the honors during his 2006 rookie season, winning both races from the pole. Dale Earnhardt Jr., the June winner at the Tricky Triangle, could make the No. 88 Chevy a three-time winner this year by completing a sweep next Sunday.

      NASCAR Notes

      Jeff Gordon captured a record-setting fifth win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, a day full of incredible numbers. It was also his 90th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, good for third on the all-time series wins list. His fifth Brickyard win ties Formula 1 great Michael Schumacher atop Indy's all-time wins list. ... Dale Earnhardt Jr., who this upcoming weekend returns to Pocono Raceway looking for only the second season sweep of his career. If Earnhardt repeats his June Pocono triumph, it would be his first track sweep since 2002 at Talladega. ... Eleven different drivers have won at least one race this season. There are six races remaining. With a 16-driver Chase Grid, the math becomes troubling for some deeper down the points standings. In other words, for some, a win has become imperative. Kasey Kahne, still winless in 2014, is the defending winner of this race. After a strong effort at Indy, he's a prime candidate to add his name to the winners list. So too is Tony Stewart, a two-time winner at Pocono. ... With multiple wins this season, and having enough points to guarantee a top 30 points position, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano clinched a spot in the 2014 Chase.

      @nascarcasm

      --I'm not one to offer parenting advice, but having kids kiss the yard of bricks has to be confusing for these young children. All I'm saying is if I am Leo Gordon and I finally give in to my parents' wishes and kiss the yard of bricks, I'm going to be confused as heck a few days later if they yell at me for licking mustard off the driveway or something.

      --Jeff Gordon is the first driver in NASCAR history to win the same race exactly 20 years apart. We're in the process of finding other interesting historical tidbits that basically imply that Jeff Gordon is really old.

      --It's official -- Carl Edwards will not be at Roush-Fenway Racing next year. The official announcement was emailed Sunday, and followed by several "Can You Endorse Me?" LinkedIn requests from Carl himself.

      (Follow @nascarcasm on Twitter. His unique views on NASCAR are his own -- but chances are you have probably figured that out by now.)

      Tune-In: NASCAR On Television, July 28-August 3

      Monday, July 28

      3:30 p.m., NASCAR's The List: Famous Families (re-air), NBC Sports Network

      4 p.m., NASCAR's The List: Rookie Seasons (re-air), NBC Sports Network

      4:30 p.m., NASCAR's The List: Iconic Cars (re-air), NBC Sports Network

      5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

      5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

      6:30 p.m., NASCAR's The List: Tracks (re-air), NBC Sports Network

      6:30 p.m., Empty Cup: Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Championship (re-air), FOX Sports 2

      7 p.m., TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Race at Indianapolis (re-air), FOX Sports 2

      8:30 p.m., Empty Cup: Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Championship (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      9 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      2:30 a.m. (Tue.), NASCAR's The List: Dale Earnhardt Sr. Moments (re-air), NBC Sports Network

      Tuesday, July 29

      Noon, NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at Columbus (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

      5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

      6:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

      Wednesday, July 30

      5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

      5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

      6:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

      Thursday, July 31

      5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

      5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

      3 a.m. (Fri.), TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Race at Indianapolis (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      Friday, August 1

      11 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice, FOX Sports 1

      12:30 p.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at Columbus (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      1:30 p.m., Empty Cup: Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Championship (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      2:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Final Practice, FOX Sports 2

      3:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 1

      5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

      6:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Final Practice (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      7:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub Special (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      8:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      2:30 a.m. (Sat.), NASCAR's The List: Greatest Finishes (re-air), NBC Sports Network

      3 a.m. (Sat.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice (re-air),

      FOX Sports 1

      4:30 a.m. (Sat.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      Saturday, August 2

      6 a.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at Columbus (re-air), FOX Sports 2

      9 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice, ESPN2

      10 a.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 1

      11:30 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice, ESPN2

      12:30 p.m., NCWTS SetUp, FOX Sports 1

      1 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Pocono, FOX Sports 1

      2:30 p.m., NASCAR Live, FOX Sports 1

      4:30 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, ESPN

      7:30 p.m., NNS Countdown, ESPN

      8 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at Iowa, ESPN

      4:30 a.m. (Sun.), NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Pocono (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      Sunday, August 3

      6 a.m., Empty Cup: Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Championship (re-air), FOX Sports 2

      6:30 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying (re-air), FOX Sports 2

      9 a.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at Colorado, FOX Sports 1

      10 a.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FOX Sports 1

      Noon, Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Race at Indianapolis, FOX Sports 1

      Noon, NSCS Countdown, ESPN

      1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Pocono, ESPN

      7 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lane, FOX Sports 1

      7:30 p.m., The 10 Greatest Truck Series Moments (re-air), FOX Sports 2

      8 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Pocono (re-air), FOX Sports 2

      2:30 a.m. (Mon.), NASCAR's The List: Famous Families (re-air), NBC Sports Network

      3 a.m. (Mon.), Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Race at Indianapolis (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      3:30 a.m. (Mon.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Pocono (re-air), ESPN2

      4 a.m. (Mon.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Pocono, ESPN Deportes

      National Series Schedule

      NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

      The Next Race:

      GoBowlilng.com 400

      The Place:

      Pocono Raceway

      The Date/Time:

      Sunday, Aug. 3, 1 p.m. (ET)

      TV: ESPN

      Radio: MRN Radio,

      Sirius XM Channel 90

      NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES

      The Next Race:

      U.S. Cellular 250 presented by New Holland

      The Place:

      Iowa Speedway

      The Date/Time:

      Saturday, Aug. 2, 8 p.m. (ET)

      TV: ESPN

      Radio: MRN,

      Sirius XM Channel 90

      NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

      The Next Race:

      Pocono Mountains 150

      The Place:

      Pocono Raceway

      Date/Time:

      Saturday, Aug. 2, 1 p.m. (ET)

      TV: FOX Sports 1

      Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Channel 90

      NASCAR National Series Standings

      This year, wins matter more than in any season in the 65-year history of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

      Essentially, a win locks a driver into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

      Currently there are 11 different winners. The remainder of the 16-driver Chase Grid will be filled by those drivers highest in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points. See below for how the current Chase Grid would look if NASCAR's playoffs began today:

      Chase Grid Outlook

      Pos Driver Wins

      1 Brad Keselowski 3

      2 Jimmie Johnson 3

      3 Jeff Gordon 2

      4 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2

      5 Carl Edwards 2

      6 Joey Logano 2

      7 Kevin Harvick 2

      8 Kyle Busch 1

      9 Denny Hamlin 1

      10 Aric Almirola 1

      11 Kurt Busch 1

      12 Matt Kenseth 0

      13 Ryan Newman 0

      14 Clint Bowyer 0

      15 Kyle Larson 0

      16 Austin Dillon 0

      NASCAR Nationwide Series

      Pos Driver Points

      1 Chase Elliott # 678

      2 Regan Smith 674

      3 Elliott Sadler 667

      4 Ty Dillon # 663

      5 Brian Scott 636

      6 Trevor Bayne 631

      7 Chris Buescher # 556

      8 Brendan Gaughan 551

      9 James Buescher 515

      10 Ryan Reed # 509

      NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

      Pos Driver Points

      1 Ryan Blaney 369

      2 Matt Crafton 365

      3 Johnny Sauter 359

      4 Ron Hornaday Jr. 350

      5 German Quiroga 343

      6 Darrell Wallace Jr. 341

      7 Ben Kennedy # 332

      8 Timothy Peters 327

      9 Joey Coulter 312

      10 John Wes Townley 304

  • Monday, July 28, 2014
    At 42, Gordon shows no signs of slowing down
    By The Sports Xchange

    By Reid Spencer

    • NASCAR Wire Service

      Distributed by The Sports Xchange

      INDIANAPOLIS -- Jeff Gordon won the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994.

      On Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in a No. 24 Chevrolet that clearly was the class of the field, Gordon won the 21st edition of the prestigious race.

      It's remarkable enough that Gordon could win a record five times at IMS. It's even more astounding that his first and most recent victories at the Brickyard are 20 years apart.

      And it's even more staggering that Gordon seems to have rediscovered the same sort of passion and intensity that propelled him to his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship as a 24-year-old.

      So don't be too surprised if Gordon returns to Victory Lane in the 41st running of the Brickyard 400, at age 62.

      OK, that might be a pipe dream. But Gordon seems to have accomplished something Ponce de León couldn't achieve five centuries ago -- discovering the Fountain of Youth.

      Make no mistake. This is a relatively recent phenomenon. A few years ago, Gordon complained of an aching back, opined that he had lost a step and seemed a likely candidate for early retirement.

      Fast race cars, however, have put the bounce back in Gordon's step. When he won at Kansas earlier this season, an elated Gordon said, "I've been having so much fun. I'm going to be 43 this year, and I feel like I'm 25 again. ...

      "I just feel so competitive out there, and that makes me feel young again. When the cars are that good, my back just doesn't seem to hurt as much. ... Man, if 43 is like this, I can't wait for 50."

      Back spasms did sideline Gordon briefly at Charlotte in May but didn't cause him to miss the Coca-Cola 600. That brief setback, however, hasn't diminished the vigor he has shown in his driving before or since.

      And on Sunday, with the race on the line, Gordon looked like the champion of old as he buried the No. 24 Chevy into Turn 1 and made a clean pass to the outside of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne moments after the decisive restart with 17 laps left.

      To a great degree, Gordon credits team owner Rick Hendrick and crew chief Alan Gustafson with keeping him motivated. Perhaps an even larger factor is his family.

      When Gordon won the most recent of his four premier series crowns in 2001, he was married to Brooke Sealey. The couple divorced in 2003, and Gordon subsequently married Ingrid Vandebosch in 2006. Daughter Ella was born in 2007, and son Leo followed in 2010.

      After Sunday's race, Gordon acknowledged that his family life has sharpened his focus on his career goals.

      "My wife and kids, they've never experienced it -- Ingrid has never experienced a championship," Gordon said. "I told her, I said, 'Hey, I know you want to know what it's like to win a championship. Well, there's a big commitment that it takes.'

      "She's like, 'Whatever it takes.'

      "That's the kind of year that we're having. We're just putting everything we can into it."

      So, come to think of it, maybe a Jeff Gordon victory in the 2024 Brickyard 400 isn't that far-fetched. "The 24 in '24" has a nice ring to it.

      And, by then, Gordon may well have grandchildren with whom he'll feel compelled to share the experience.

  • Sunday, July 27, 2014
    Biffle re-signs with Roush, but Edwards won't be back
    By The Sports Xchange

    By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

    • Distributed by The Sports Xchange

      INDIANAPOLIS -- The good news for Roush Fenway Racing is that Greg Biffle will remain with the team as the organization's veteran leader, after re-signing with RFR.

      On the flip side, Carl Edwards told the team more than a month ago, according to owner Jack Roush, that he will drive elsewhere next year.

      The high likelihood is that Edwards will join former RFR teammate Matt Kenseth at Joe Gibbs Racing, though both Edwards and JGR brass have been mum on the subject.

      The reality for Roush Fenway is that the organization will have lost two championship-caliber drivers in quick succession, as both Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champ, and Edwards, the 2011 title runner-up in a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart, have opted for other rides.

      On the grid before Sunday's Crown Royal 400, Edwards preferred to focus on the task at hand, rather than his departure from Roush at the end of the season.

      "We've just got to get everything together, and then we'll make the announcement when it's the right time," said Edwards, who acknowledged in a television interview that he already has his next deal "worked out."

      "Trust me, we'll do it as soon as we can. But like I said, the focus is today and winning this race. I'll talk about it in the next couple weeks when we kind of finalize everything. I think right now is not the right time to reflect on it, because we've still got a championship to win."

      There was no announcement on Sunday regarding an extension for Biffle's primary sponsor 3M. However, Roush did announce that Fastenal, which primarily has sponsored Edwards during a long relationship with RFR, would anchor Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s No. 17 Ford next year.

      Biffle, Stenhouse and Trevor Bayne will constitute RFR's Sprint Cup lineup next year and beyond.

      GIBBS HINTS OF FOURTH TEAM IN 2015

      Team owner Joe Gibbs has a son named Coy, and perhaps there's a message in that, given the deft way the former NFL Super Bowl-winning coach side-stepped questions about Carl Edwards' expected move to his race team.

      "We don't have anything right now to announce," Gibbs said on pit road before Sunday's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "Anything that we're going to do will be coming up in the future. I'm not sure exactly what the time line is."

      Gibbs did allow that his organization is making a more concerted effort this year to field a fourth team in 2015 than has been the case in the past.

      "We've been (preparing for a fourth team) each and every year," Gibbs said. "But it's so hard to do that, we haven't been able to get it done. But I think we're taking a serious look at it this year."

      Asked if those efforts involved signing a serious driver, Gibbs replied, "You've got to have a serious sponsor."

      But he did acknowledge Edwards' star power.

      "When Carl's name came up during this year ... almost everybody recognizes Carl as being somebody I think is a star," Gibbs said. "Because of that, there are a lot of teams that have tried to entice him."

      KAHNE SEES SILVER LINING

      Sometimes the outcome of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race comes down to something as simple as choosing the right lane for a restart.

      Second-guessing himself after losing the lead on a restart with 17 laps left in the Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at The Brickyard and finishing sixth, Kasey Kahne said his choice of the inside lane was probably a mistake.

      Starting to Kahne's outside, Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon took the lead through the first two corners and never looked back, leaving Kahne to ponder his lane selection.

      "Looking back, I probably should have chosen the top, and that would have put us in a better place," said Kahne, who was trying to conserve fuel during the final run, having made his final pit stop two laps before Gordon did. "But we ended up sixth. Because of that, I was able to save fuel and make it. If I had beat him (on the restart), I would have had to race the heck out of him.

      "He was faster than I was. So, we probably would have finished a lot worse. So, I guess, for points, it was good. I would have loved to win at the Brickyard. We had a good car. I thought I gave it all I had. The team gave it all they had, and we just came up a little short."

      Kahne didn't have to be reminded that a win almost certainly would have earned him a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

      "Yeah, no kidding," Kahne said. "I know that. We have five more good tracks for us and six more races, so hopefully we can get one."

      INSPECTION REVEALS POSSIBLE ISSUES WITH NO. 11 TOYOTA

      During post-race inspection, NASCAR found what the sanctioning body called "possible issues" with several rear firewall block-off plates on the third-place No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driven by Denny Hamlin.

      The parts were confiscated and taken to NASCAR's research-and-development center in Concord, North Carolina, for further inspection and evaluation.

      If penalties are warranted, they are likely to be announced during the coming week, as is NASCAR's custom.

  • Sunday, July 27, 2014
    Gordon wins record fifth race at Indy
    By The Sports Xchange

    By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

    • Distributed by The Sports Xchange

      INDIANAPOLIS -- As he crossed the yard of bricks, and the significance of his fifth victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway hit him like a ton of bricks, Jeff Gordon reveled in the moment that propelled him to victory in the Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at The Brickyard.

      "God! I finally had the restart of my life," Gordon shouted into his radio mic, recalling the move just 15 minutes earlier that launched him past Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne on Lap 144 of 160 in Sunday's marquee NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

      Twenty years removed from his victory in the inaugural Brickyard 400, Gordon finished 2.325 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch who with teammates Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth finished 2-3-4 in the 20th Sprint Cup race of the season.

      The win was the 90th of Gordon's career, third-most all-time, his second of the season and, of course, his record fifth at IMS, breaking a tie with teammate Jimmie Johnson for most Cup wins at the Brickyard. The win also clinched Gordon a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, assuming he attempts to qualify for the remaining six races of the regular season.

      And though open-wheel purists may blanch at the notion, Gordon is the first driver in any series to win five races on the legendary 2.5-mile oval that has played such an integral role in the history of motorsports in the United States.

      "I'm not very good on restarts and wasn't very good today, but I finally got the restart of my life today when it counted most," said Gordon, who gave Chevrolet its 12th straight Cup victory at Indy. "Once I got clear, I was thinking like, 'I can't believe this is happening now ...'

      "I was trying so hard with 10 (laps) to go not to focus on the crowd," added Gordon, who increased his series lead over teammate and ninth-place finisher Dale Earnhardt Jr. to 24 points. "Every once in a while, I'd glance up there and I could see the reaction. I was trying not to let it get to me and not think about it too much. And yet you can't help it.

      "It's such a big place and such an important victory and a crucial moment in the season and the championship, and those emotions take over. I have my kids here. There's nothing better, especially at one of the biggest races, to have your family here. ... This one is for all those fans throughout the years and all weekend long. They're saying 'We believe you can get number 5.' We got number 5 -- yes!"

      If Gordon had trouble believing the outcome, team owner Rick Hendrick did not. In fact, Hendrick had a premonition about the race.

      "I told (Gordon) this morning, 'This is your day,' Hendrick recalled. "For him to break that tie (with Johnson), it's pretty special. I remember the first one (1994) and how good it felt.

      "This one feels just as good."

      Joey Logano ran fifth, and Kahne slipped to sixth in the final 17-lap run after leading 70 laps and, for most of the afternoon, looking to be the likely winner.

      Kahne grabbed the lead from Denny Hamlin after a restart on lap 73, bringing Kyle Busch with him. For the next 24 laps, Kahne maintained an advantage over Busch that fluctuated between one and two seconds until Trevor Bayne's No. 21 Ford spun and smacked the inside guard rail in the short chute between Turns 3 and 4 to cause the third caution of the afternoon.

      Clint Bowyer, who had come to pit road moments before Bayne's spin, had the luxury of staying out while other lead-lap cars stopped under yellow and led the field to green on Lap 102. Seconds later, however, Kahne retook the lead, and Bowyer soon slipped back to fourth behind Kahne, Busch and Gordon.

      Busch surrendered second place to Gordon on Lap 113 and used the opportunity to duck behind the No. 24 Chevrolet and free a piece of paper debris that had attached itself to the grille of the No. 18 Toyota. Gordon quickly pulled away and began to close on Kahne, knocking a 2.6-second deficit to two car-lengths by the time Ryan Truex's Toyota stalled on the track.

      "Use one of the freaking exits," Gordon screamed rhetorically on his radio, but Truex's car came to a stop, and NASCAR had no choice but to call the fourth caution.

      Kahne and Gordon led a large contingent that opted to stay out on the track under the yellow, but Kahne faltered on the restart, opening the door for Gordon to pass on the outside through Turns 1 and 2 as Kahne slipped back to fifth.

      And that restart, as No. 24 crew chief Alan Gustafson had predicted during a quick interview before the final green-flag run, decided the race.

      NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race -- Crown Royal Presents, the John Wayne Walding 400 at The Brickyard

      Indianapolis Motor Speedway

      Speedway, Indiana

      Sunday, July 27, 2014

      1. (2) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 160, $434376.

      2. (12) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 160, $373781.

      3. (27) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 160, $307890.

      4. (13) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 160, $303751.

      5. (9) Joey Logano, Ford, 160, $266806.

      6. (10) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 160, $231130.

      7. (15) Kyle Larson #, Chevrolet, 160, $226675.

      8. (1) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 160, $230288.

      9. (23) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 160, $196255.

      10. (17) Austin Dillon #, Chevrolet, 160, $228891.

      11. (4) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 160, $188455.

      12. (3) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 160, $218288.

      13. (19) Greg Biffle, Ford, 160, $209330.

      14. (11) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 160, $217691.

      15. (18) Carl Edwards, Ford, 160, $183555.

      16. (16) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 160, $201046.

      17. (6) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 160, $199838.

      18. (36) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 160, $181713.

      19. (5) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 160, $201355.

      20. (24) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 160, $196144.

      21. (41) Aric Almirola, Ford, 160, $197416.

      22. (22) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 160, $185725.

      23. (8) Juan Pablo Montoya, Ford, 160, $154330.

      24. (21) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 160, $193030.

      25. (25) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 160, $184013.

      26. (28) Michael McDowell, Ford, 160, $151855.

      27. (31) Justin Allgaier #, Chevrolet, 159, $178088.

      28. (7) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 159, $152555.

      29. (30) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 159, $151955.

      30. (37) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 158, $152805.

      31. (33) Michael Annett #, Chevrolet, 158, $164813.

      32. (39) Cole Whitt #, Toyota, 158, $150155.

      33. (26) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 158, $169338.

      34. (29) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 158, $174094.

      35. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 158, $164177.

      36. (34) David Gilliland, Ford, 157, $154530.

      37. (43) Bobby Labonte, Chevrolet, 157, $146113.

      38. (42) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 156, $139450.

      39. (40) Travis Kvapil, Ford, 156, $135450.

      40. (35) Alex Bowman #, Toyota, 156, $131450.

      41. (32) Ryan Truex #, Toyota, 149, $127450.

      42. (14) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 114, $131725.

      43. (20) Trevor Bayne(i), Ford, Accident, 96, $119950.

      Average Speed of Race Winner: 150.297 mph.

      Time of Race: 02 Hrs, 39 Mins, 41 Secs. Margin of Victory: 2.325 Seconds.

      Caution Flags: 4 for 16 laps.

      Lead Changes: 15 among 9 drivers.

      Lap Leaders: K. Harvick 1; J. Gordon 2-21; J. Logano 22-31; K. Kahne 32-37; K. Larson # 38-42; A. Dillon # 43; D. Hamlin 44-54; K. Harvick 55-65; D. Hamlin 66-72; K. Kahne 73-98; C. Bowyer 99-101; K. Kahne 102-126; J. Gordon 127-129; M. Annett # 130; K. Kahne 131-143; J. Gordon 144-160.

      Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): K. Kahne 4 times for 70 laps; J. Gordon 3 times for 40 laps; D. Hamlin 2 times for 18 laps; K. Harvick 2 times for 12 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 10 laps; K. Larson # 1 time for 5 laps; C. Bowyer 1 time for 3 laps; A. Dillon # 1 time for 1 lap; M. Annett # 1 time for 1 lap.

      Top 16 in Points: J. Gordon - 717; D. Earnhardt Jr. - 693; B. Keselowski - 666; M. Kenseth - 661; J. Johnson - 628; Kyle Busch - 609; R. Newman - 606; C. Edwards - 603; J. Logano - 591; C. Bowyer - 577; D. Hamlin - 572; K. Harvick - 565; K. Larson # - 562; A. Dillon # - 559; K. Kahne - 555; P. Menard - 551.

  • Sunday, July 27, 2014
    Gordon relishes 'important victory' at Brickyard 400
    By The Sports Xchange

    INDIANAPOLIS -- Nearly 21 years to the day of his first triumph in the inaugural Brickyard 400, Jeff Gordon rallied to earn a record fifth Brickyard victory Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    • Gordon was 22 years old when he won the first Brickyard on Aug. 6, 1994. Sunday, he looked like he was in his prime.

      He earned his second win of 2014 and 90th career victory in classic Gordon-like fashion, grabbing the lead from Kasey Kahne on the final restart 16 laps from the end.

      "I don't think there's a greater feeling for a race car driver and a race team because that's what it took today, a total team effort to be here in victory lane at Indianapolis," Gordon said.

      It also marked Gordon's first Brickyard triumph since 2004. He also won the inaugural Brickyard in 1994, as well as 1998 and 2001.

      Gordon, who grew up in nearby Pittsboro, Ind., also presented himself an early birthday present. The Sprint Cup veteran turns 43 on Aug. 4.

      "I told him this morning, 'This is your day,'" team owner Rick Hendrick said. "For him to break that tie (four Brickyard wins with teammate Jimmie Johnson), this is pretty special. We're a little bit older than we were 20 years ago, but it's a great win."

      It appeared Kahne, who dominated much of the race, would be unbeatable and was headed to his first win of the season. But he stumbled on the final restart, allowing Gordon to take the lead while Kahne quickly plummeted backward to fifth place.

      "I'm not very good on restarts and wasn't good today, and finally made the restart of my life," Gordon said. "I got to thank Kasey, he raced me clean. Once I got past him, I thought to myself, I can't believe this is happening."

      As the final laps clicked off, Gordon admitted he was hoping that there would not be a late-race caution.

      "I was trying so hard with 10 to go not to focus on the crowd," Gordon said. "I could see every once in a while I'd glance up there and see the reaction. You can't help it. It's such a good race and such an important victory."

      Joe Gibbs Racing had a monster day, with all three of its drivers finishing in the top-five.

      Kyle Busch finished second, followed by JGR teammates Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth.

      "We had a good day, certainly better than expected," Busch said. "We've been working hard the last few months in making better race cars and the TRD guys making better horsepower and it paid off with a 2-3-4 finish for the whole JGR organization."

      Hendrick Motorsports had a solid day as well. In addition to Gordon's win, Kahne finished sixth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was ninth and four-time Brickyard winner Jimmie Johnson tailed off to a 14th-place finish.

      Also finishing in the top-10 were Joey Logano (fifth), rookie Kyle Larson (seventh), pole-sitter Kevin Harvick (eighth) and rookie Austin Dillon (10th).

      Kahne and Gordon, as well as the next five on the leaders' ladder, chose to remain on-track when an out of power Ryan Truex brought out the caution flag 21 laps from the finish.

      When the green flag dropped for the final time on Lap 184, Kahne spun his tires while Gordon had a textbook restart and never looked back.

      NOTES: Juan Pablo Montoya, who returned to the Verizon Indy Car Series full-time this season, finished 23rd as an Indy ringer of sorts for Team Penske. ... Danica Patrick, who started from the 14th position, struggled during the first third of the race. She did not have the kind of showing she hoped for when the rear axle on her Chevrolet broke after 67 laps. While repairs got her back on-track nearly 30 laps later, she still finished 42nd. ... Defending Brickyard winner Ryan Newman was never much of a factor in this year's race, finishing 11th. ... Prior to the race, Roush Fenway Racing announced that Carl Edwards would not be returning to the team in 2015. That paves the way for Edwards to rejoin former RFR teammate Matt Kenseth at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015, as has been rumored.

  • Sunday, July 27, 2014
    Edwards leaving Roush-Fenway Racing
    By The Sports Xchange

    Carl Edwards is leaving Roush-Fenway Racing at the end of this season after 11 years with the team.

    • Roush officials told the Associated Press on Sunday that Edwards will not be in the No. 99 Ford next season. It is speculated that Edwards will join Joe Gibbs Racing in a new fourth car, but he cannot announce his plans until September because of an agreement in his contract with Roush.

      Edwards and Matt Kenseth will likely be reunited with a Toyota team, which will end Edwards' long relationship with Ford.

      Edwards lost the 2011 Sprint Cup championship on a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart and went winless in 2012. He managed to win two races last year but was last in the 13-driver Chase field. He ranked sixth in the standings and had two wins this season heading into Sunday's Brickyard 400.

      "I will always be thankful for Carl's contribution and the role he played in many Roush Fenway wins and championships," Roush said. "We wish him well for the future. In the meantime, we are excited about continuing our quest for a championship with Carl and the No. 99 team in 2014."

      Edwards has been with Roush since 2003 and driven the No. 99 Ford since 2004. He has 67 race wins in NASCAR's three national series.

      Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne will make up Roush's three-driver team next season.

      "I have had the privilege of fielding entries for the world's best race car drivers in NASCAR for nearly 30 years, and feel quite fortunate to have an opportunity to do that again next year," Roush said. "We have always prided ourselves in developing talent at Roush Fenway, and our 2015 lineup is a testament to the success of our organization in that respect."

      Biffle has been with Roush since 1998. He won the team's first NASCAR championship in 2000 with the Truck Series title. He also won a Nationwide Series title in 2002. He qualified for the Chase in five of the last six seasons and finished a career-best second in 2005.

      Stenhouse, with Roush since 2008, won two Nationwide Series titles. He replaced Kenseth in the No. 17 Ford when Kenseth left for Gibbs at the end of the 2012 season. Fastenal, one of Edwards' main sponsors, will transfer its funding to Stenhouse next season.

      Bayne will move up from the Nationwide Series with AdvoCare as his primary sponsor of the No. 6 Ford.

  • Saturday, July 26, 2014
    Dillon has enough fuel for first Nationwide Series win
    By The Sports Xchange

    By Reid Spencer

    • NASCAR Wire Service

      Distributed by The Sports Xchange

      INDIANAPOLIS -- Ty Dillon held off a charging Kyle Busch in the closing laps of the Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, but he had to win the first NASCAR Nationwide Series race of his career with a fuel cell approaching empty.

      Dillon grabbed the lead from Busch, the pole winner, moments after a restart on Lap 77 of 100. He soon opened a lead of one second over the most prolific winner in series history, but it wasn't without some pinpoint calculations on the part of crew chief Danny Stockman.

      In what was a family affair of the first order, Mike Dillon, the driver's father and spotter, told Ty Dillon to start backing up his corners with six laps left. Dillon promptly lost a third of a lead that had grown to more than 1.2 seconds.

      Team owner Richard Childress, Dillon's grandfather, broke into the radio channel a lap later.

      "You can't give up that much to him," Childress said. "Go for it."

      From that point on, Mike Dillon and Stockman kept repeating the same mantra, "Hammer down!" -- and Dillon obliged, getting to the finish line .833 of a second ahead of Busch. Matt Kenseth ran third and Kevin Harvick fourth.

      "Boy, that was all I had," Dillon said. "When you've got the best in the business behind you, it's tough. It's tough to stay focused and not give up."

      As the highest finisher among four eligible drivers for the Nationwide Insurance "Dash 4 Cash," Dillon pocketed an extra $100,000, but the important thing was his first win in the series.

      "The car started getting a little tight, but we had speed all weekend," Dillon said. "We got out front, and she unleashed."

      Harvick led a race-high 33 laps but fell victim to the timing of a late debris caution on Lap 71. The five laps run under yellow before the final restart gave Dillon and Busch the margin they needed to get to the end of the race on fuel.

      In Busch's estimation, the outcome hinged on the Lap 77 restart.

      "I gave it away on that last restart there in Turn 1," Busch said. "I got down in there and the car never turned, and the car on my inside, Ty, drove right on by me. He got the lead, and it was over from there.

      "I tried to maintain with him and tried to do a few things to get by him the first few laps before I got tight. And as soon as I got tight, he distanced me, and that was it."

      Joey Logano finished fifth, followed by Paul Menard, Brian Scott, Kyle Larson and Trevor Bayne. Regan Smith ran 10th and trimmed the series lead of JR Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, who came home 12th, to four points.

  • Saturday, July 26, 2014
    Johnson learned not to trust instincts at Indy
    By The Sports Xchange

    By Reid Spencer

    • NASCAR Wire Service

      Distributed by The Sports Xchange

      INDIANAPOLIS -- You'd think a six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and a four-time winner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway would have adapted quickly to racing at the Brickyard, but that wasn't the case for Jimmie Johnson.

      Before Johnson found success at the marquee track, he had to start thinking outside the box and drive in a manner that was counter-intuitive.

      "My natural tendencies just didn't work around this track," Johnson said Friday before opening Sprint Cup practice at the 2.5-mile speedway. "I had to make a conscious effort to drive differently. I've been playing that movie in my head, coming here getting ready for this weekend's race.

      "So there are tracks that your natural driving tendencies suit, and this just isn't one of them for me. So I've got to change my game coming here. And I've been able to identify with it. I think that's half the battle, is just to understand that (you) don't do what you think you need to do. Try to think in an opposite manner to find speed."

      It took several years, however, for that realization to register.

      "There's certain tracks that are very difficult to get sorted out and to know how to lead your team," Johnson said. "For me, this was one of the toughest ones I came to. Took me a long time to get it. The light finally turned on in my head, I think maybe it was '04, '05.

      "Mid-race I'm like 'I've driven this track wrong since practice opened, set the car up wrong and led my team in the wrong direction.' In the race it really dawned on me."

      That "dawning" was the functional equivalent of a blazing sunrise. Johnson won races at Indy in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012. Last year, he finished second to race winner Ryan Newman.

      LIGHT WORK WEEK

      The last time Kurt Busch came to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he was hoping to run 1,100 miles on the same day as he attempted the Indy/Charlotte double.

      Busch finished the entire Indianapolis 500, finishing sixth, but ran just 406.5 of a possible 600 miles at Charlotte, the result of an engine failure two-thirds of the way through the Coca-Cola 600.

      Nevertheless, with only 400 miles on his agenda for Crown Royal 400 weekend at IMS, Busch feels almost as if he's on vacation.

      "This feels like an off weekend now -- I only have to do 400 miles," Busch said. "The way that the month of May went was a tremendous feeling and a sense of accomplishment. I really enjoyed it all the way through with the two race teams, of course, with Andretti Autosport, Stewart-Haas Racing, and all the people along the way that helped make that double happen.

      "Still writing thank-you notes. It's incredible the amount of people that we touched and that reached out to us. So it's a lot of fun to come back to Indianapolis and see (speedway president) Doug Boles again. I won't be bumping into any of the IndyCar folks but the atmosphere here at Indianapolis is always special, and now I have a greater appreciation for the Speedway.

      "And I hope the respect that I'm going to show it this weekend, it will help me bounce up on some of my results here at the track. It's been tough in a stock car here for me."

      Though there's precious little performance transfer between an IndyCar and a Sprint Cup car, Busch hopes the dues he paid in May will translate into improved results in July. His average NASCAR finish at IMS is 19.4, with his only top five (a fifth) coming 13 years ago.

      PENSKE EAGER FOR BRICKYARD WIN

      There aren't many things team owner Roger Penske still has to accomplish.

      He has 15 Indianapolis 500 victories. He got his first NASCAR Nationwide Series championship in 2010 and his first Sprint Cup title two years later, both with Brad Keselowski behind the wheel.

      But Penske doesn't have a Brickyard 400 trophy yet, and he has conveyed to all three of his drivers -- Keselowski, Joey Logano and Juan Pablo Montoya -- just how much he would like to add that to his collection.

      "Oh, yeah ... yeah," Keselowski said after earning the third starting spot for Sunday's race. "It's the last thing left on the Penske bucket list, and I think that's why you see a third car here with Juan Pablo Montoya. (Penske) wants to make it happen, and Juan is certainly known for his talents here at the Indianapolis (Motor) Speedway."

      Keselowski, of course, would prefer to be the driver to deliver the victory to Penske.

      "He's all in, as much as you can be, right, and it would be a huge honor to be the guy that pulls it off for him, and we're going to give it our best as we do every year. It's not just this year that it's important to him. It's every year that it's important to him."

  • Saturday, July 26, 2014
    Harvick dominates Brickyard qualifying
    By The Sports Xchange

    By Reid Spencer

    • NASCAR Wire Service

      Distributed by The Sports Xchange

      INDIANAPOLIS -- Suddenly the ace qualifier at Stewart-Haas Racing this year, Kevin Harvick dominated Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series time trials at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, winning the pole for Sunday's Crown Royal 400 in track-record speed.

      Fastest in all three rounds of knockout qualifying, Harvick earned his fourth Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his second at the Brickyard and the 10th of his career.

      Harvick established his credentials early in the first 25-minute session, covering the 2.5-mile distance in 47.647 seconds (188.889 mph), shattering the previous record speed of 187.531 mph set by Ryan Newman last year.

      The record speed of his first lap surprised the driver of the No. 4 SHR Chevrolet.

      "After the first lap, I was probably more nervous than I have been in a while for qualifying," Harvick said. "I wasn't really expecting to have the car run that fast. From there they are all looking at you, 'All right, if you screw this up, it's on you, buddy.' "

      In the second round, Harvick remained the only driver to top 188 mph, posting a lap at 188.281 mph to pace the 10-minute session. No other driver could reach even 187 mph in Round 2.

      In the final five-minute round, Harvick ran 188.470 mph to win the pole convincingly over Jeff Gordon, who will share the front row after a lap at 187.770 mph. Brad Keselowski (186.893 mph) qualified third, followed by 2013 Brickyard winner Ryan Newman (186.765 mph) and Brian Vickers (186.455 mph).

      The last time Harvick won the pole at Indy, in 2003, he won the race, and he acknowledged the advantages of starting up front.

      "You can overcome a lot of things with your track position here," Harvick said. "To have the first pit stall, to have clean air to start the race—usually your problems will be a lot less than they are in traffic when you're out front. Hopefully, we can put together a whole day.

      Nor is the history of the Brickyard lost on Harvick.

      "There's Daytona, and then there's nothing quite like this place that we come to," he said. "It's a unique race track with a lot of things that have to come together, a lot of history, and I'm excited to be here."

      Keselowski certainly took notice of Harvick's lap times and gave them their due.

      "It's always scary when Kevin's fast in qualifying," Keselowski said.

      NOTES: Aric Almirola hit the outside wall during the first round and went to a backup car. Accordingly, he will start Sunday's race from the rear of the field. ... Juan Pablo Montoya qualified eighth in Team Penske's third entry, the No. 12 Ford. ... Brett Moffit, David Stremme and Matt Crafton failed to make the 43-car field.

      NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying

      Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at The Brickyard

      Indianapolis Motor Speedway

      Speedway, Indiana

      Saturday

      1. (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 188.470 mph.

      2. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 187.770 mph.

      3. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 186.893 mph.

      4. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 186.765 mph.

      5. (55) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 186.455 mph.

      6. (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 186.193 mph.

      7. (41) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 185.943 mph.

      8. (12) Juan Pablo Montoya, Ford, 185.924 mph.

      9. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 185.828 mph.

      10. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 185.705 mph.

      11. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 185.468 mph.

      12. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 184.991 mph.

      13. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 185.468 mph.

      14. (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 185.391 mph.

      15. (42) Kyle Larson #, Chevrolet, 185.254 mph.

      16. (15) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 185.128 mph.

      17. (3) Austin Dillon #, Chevrolet, 185.048 mph.

      18. (99) Carl Edwards, Ford, 184.991 mph.

      19. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 184.900 mph.

      20. (21) Trevor Bayne(i), Ford, 184.869 mph.

      21. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 184.740 mph.

      22. (9) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 184.426 mph.

      23. (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 183.887 mph.

      24. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 183.610 mph.

      25. (78) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 184.449 mph.

      26. (13) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 183.726 mph.

      27. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 183.692 mph.

      28. (95) Michael McDowell, Ford, 183.565 mph.

      29. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 183.539 mph.

      30. (98) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 182.867 mph.

      31. (51) Justin Allgaier #, Chevrolet, 182.656 mph.

      32. (83) Ryan Truex #, Toyota, 182.574 mph.

      33. (7) Michael Annett #, Chevrolet, 182.245 mph.

      34. (38) David Gilliland, Ford, 182.072 mph.

      35. (23) Alex Bowman #, Toyota, 181.866 mph.

      36. (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 181.815 mph.

      37. (40) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, Owner Points

      38. (34) David Ragan, Ford, Owner Points

      39. (26) Cole Whitt #, Toyota, Owner Points

      40. (32) Travis Kvapil, Ford, Owner Points

      41. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, Owner Points

      42. (36) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Owner Points

      43. (37) Bobby Labonte, Chevrolet, Past Champion

      Three drivers failed to qualify.

      44. (66) Brett Moffitt, Toyota, 181.335 mph.

      45. (33) David Stremme, Chevrolet, 179.548 mph.

      46. (29) Matt Crafton(i), Toyota, 178.070 mph.

  • Friday, July 25, 2014
    Will Brickyard 400 identify next Sprint Cup champion?
    By The Sports Xchange

    By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

    • Distributed by The Sports Xchange

      INDIANAPOLIS -- Perhaps more than any other race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, the Brickyard 400 historically has been an excellent predictor of the series championship.

      In 1998, Jeff Gordon started a streak of four straight years in which the Indy winner went on to win the title. Dale Jarrett (1999), Bobby Labonte (2000) and Gordon (2001) followed.

      In 2005, Tony Stewart won both the Brickyard 400 and the series crown. Jimmie Johnson accomplished the same feat in three of his six championship seasons -- 2006, 2008 and 2009.

      To Gordon, the very nature of racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway helps explains why eight Brickyard winners within a span of 12 years also won Sprint Cup championships in the same season.

      "I think that this is a track that demands the best team, the best cars -- because track position is so important here," Gordon said Friday at IMS as he prepares for Sunday's race. "(It's) so hard to pass here. And because of that, what happens is that the pit crew becomes crucial. The pit strategy becomes crucial, and the speed of the car, especially in qualifying, becomes crucial.

      "I don't know what the percentage rate is of those who go on to win the championship, but typically, that means the best team is pretty much going to win this race, which means they're probably going to be the one to beat for the championship."

      ENCOURAGEMENT FOR KENSETH

      Seeking his first win of the season, not to mention the accompanying ticket to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Matt Kenseth was fastest in opening practice on Friday at IMS.

      Not one to get overly enthused about a performance in practice, Kenseth nevertheless was encouraged by the speed of his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

      "I felt like we had a really good hour-and-a-half," said Kenseth, who topped the speed chart with a lap at 186.285 mph. "It was productive, so one of our goals was to get a good lap in case it does rain tomorrow. They always go off first practice speeds (in the event of a qualifying rain-out), and we've been bit by that this year.

      "We wanted to try to lay down a lap early when the track was as good as it could be and we were able to do that in case there is bad weather for qualifying. Then we just worked hard on race trim the whole time. Felt like we got through a lot of stuff. Felt like we gained a lot. I feel like we're closer than we've been in a long time in balance and in speed. Still have a lot of work to do (Saturday), but I felt pretty good about today."

      Clint Bowyer, another Chase regular still looking for a win this year, was second fastest in the opening practice at 186.070 mph. Bowyer and Kenseth were the only two drivers to top 186 mph.

      HISTORIC DOUBLE?

      Fresh from his breakthrough victory at Daytona International Speedway in early July, Aric Almirola can be forgiven for thinking big.

      After all, he put the vaunted No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports car in the winner's circle for the first time in 15 years.

      Almirola would like nothing better than to complete the Daytona/Brickyard double, last accomplished by Jamie McMurray in 2010.

      "We brought a brand-spanking new race car with, I'm sure, a lot of horsepower from Doug Yates, so I'm expecting good things," Almirola said Friday morning before opening Sprint Cup practice. "We haven't been on the race track for practice yet, but every time you show up at the race track, you expect to run really good.

      "I don't think anybody shows up at the race track expecting to run 35th, so I fully intend to have a lot of speed and be able to go race on Sunday for a Brickyard 400 win. That would be amazing to have an opportunity to win at probably both of the most historic race tracks on our circuit."

  • Thursday, July 24, 2014
    Brickyard provides element of unpredictability
    By The Sports Xchange

    NASCAR Wire Service

    • Distributed by The Sports Xchange

      The Brickyard is the home of champions.

      Or is it?

      A quick point-counterpoint on the subject…

      Point

      Heading into the 20th anniversary of NASCAR racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN), legendary names have conquered more often than not.

      For instance,

      -- 15 of the 20 races have been won by past, future or reigning series champions

      -- Eight winners have gone on to win that year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

      -- Three NASCAR Hall of Famers have won: Dale Earnhardt, Dale Jarrett (twice) and Bill Elliott. Three others, at least, will undoubtedly one day be enshrined: Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewar).

      Counterpoint

      Lately, those facts above have been turned on their head.

      The recent winners include Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman, all of whom are winless in 2014. Even Stewart, a two-time Brickyard winner, still seeks his first victory of the season.

      A part-time driver like Juan Pablo Montoya could win -- and probably should have in 2009, if not for a pit road speeding penalty. Montoya will make his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start of the season on Sunday, driving the No. 12 Team Penske Ford.

      Either way, know this: This race should be interesting.

      No driver falls into both the "legit contender" and "potential surprise" categories like Stewart. The three-time series champion remains winless and in real danger of missing the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

      But Stewart boasts a brilliant history at his home track, so there's hope. The two-time Brickyard winner has finished in the top 10 in five consecutive Indianapolis races and nine of the last 10.

      "You always want to win it," Stewart said. "Every driver has a home race. Some of the tracks we go to twice, and Indy is one we get to go to once, and this is our trip to it.

      "If you can only win one race a year, I'm still going to pick the Daytona 500. But if you can't win Daytona as that one race a year, I want to win the Brickyard. It's always big when you come home. It's always big when you have friends and family that don't get the opportunity to go see you race anywhere else but can be there in person to watch and experience it. So you always want to run well."

      Chase Elliott hopes to join Dad on Brickyard wins list

      Chase Elliott, the runaway leader in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year battle, has three wins and the NASCAR Nationwide Series points lead. He's zeroing in on the season wins record of five held by Greg Biffle (2001), Kyle Busch (2004) and Carl Edwards (2005). No rookie has won the Nationwide Series championship.

      But more immediately, there's Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Chase and his father Bill can become the first father-son winners in NASCAR’s 21-year history at the track.

      The Dawsonville, Ga., native will be making his series debut at Indianapolis this weekend, the track at which his father and NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Bill Elliott won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in 2002.

      "It's one of the places I look back on, I do have memories of The Brickyard win he (Bill Elliott) had, I think it was 2002," Chase Elliott said. "That’s a special racetrack for me. I always love going back there ever since then knowing he has been to Victory Lane. We are going to give it our best shot.”

      JR Motorsports has won seven of the 18 races this season -- Elliott (Texas, Darlington and Chicago), Kevin Harvick (Richmond, Kentucky), Regan Smith (Daytona-1) and Kasey Kahne (Daytona-2). The team has led the driver points after 17 of 18 races this year (Elliott Sadler was the lone outlier, leading the points after Kentucky).

  • Thursday, July 24, 2014
    Wallace Jr. drives truck to Eldora win
    By The Sports Xchange

    By Chris Knight, NASCAR Wire Service

    • Distributed by The Sports Xchange

      In front of a packed house at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, Darrell Wallace Jr. won Wednesday's night second annual 1-800 CarCash Mudsummer Classic. Wallace, a NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate, earned his second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) win of the season.

      Wallace led the final 97 laps of the 150-lap race and withstood a relentless effort by Kyle Larson, another NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate. However, Larson creamed the wall with two laps remaining, sealing Wallace's third career victory in NCWTS competition in the No. 54 ToyotaCare Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

      "That's so cool -- on the dirt at Eldora," Wallace said from Victory Lane. "Really? Eldora?

      "The coolest things about it is I came into this hoping we'd finish in the top-five. I was worried about the Toyota streak, not to lie."

      The triumph solidified the 12th consecutive victory for manufacturer Toyota, dating back to Phoenix International Raceway last November.

      The 20-year old took the lead from Ron Hornaday Jr. on Lap 49 and led the field to the first competition caution on Lap 60, completing the first of three segments. Under the yellow, Wallace brought his truck to the attention of the Jerry Baxter-led team where they changed tires and added fuel.

      On the restart, Wallace checked out on the field and led the entire second segment, until the sixth caution flag of the night waved on Lap 112, ending segment two.

      Wallace, along with a majority of the leaders, elected to stay out, setting the tone for the final 40-lap dash to the finish.

      During the final stint, Wallace found himself being haunted by last year's runner-up finisher Larson, with the lead exchanging in the waning laps. Despite what seemed like a never-ending attack by Larson, the Chip Ganassi Racing development driver's countless meetings with the Eldora Speedway walls would finally end his night within sight of the white flag, when a broken brake line sent Larson hard into the Turn 1 wall.

      With no pressure from behind, Wallace was able cruise to give Kyle Busch Motorsports its eighth triumph of the season in 10 races overall. Despite a hiccup two weeks ago at Iowa Speedway, Wallace's slow start to the season has gained serious momentum with two wins and a second in three of the last four races.

      "I think my crew chief showed up," joked Wallace "It's just trial and tribulations that we go through. This team never gives up. We talked about Iowa and moved on from it and I said we were going to bounce back. This is a hell of a way to bounce back."

      Ryan Blaney, who finished third, took over the points lead from Matt Crafton by four points.

      "We struggled for forward drive a lot, we were getting killed off the corners," Blaney said. "I'm happy (though) to come out of here with a top-three finish and the points lead."

      Larson, who led five laps during the final segment, settled for 26th.

      "Thanks to Turner Scott Motorsports for building a strong truck to make it last that long," Larson said. "Didn't realize how stupid I was driving. Sucks, but Darrell (Wallace Jr.) did a really good job. He was fast all day today and he ran close to the wall the whole time and never really hit it."

      Wallace finished 5.4-seconds ahead of second place finisher Ron Hornaday Jr. Blaney was third with Ken Schrader and Ty Dillon rounding out the top-five. John Hunter Nemechek was sixth followed by Jeb Burton, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton and the inaugural Eldora winner Austin Dillon.

      Blaney assumed the points lead for the first time this season with his sixth top-five of the year. Crafton trails 369 to 365. Johnny Sauter is third (-10), Hornaday Jr. fourth (-19) and German Quiroga fifth (-26).

      Next up for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is a trip to Long Pond, Pennsylvania for the running of the Pocono Mountains 125 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway on Saturday, August 2.

      NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race -- 1-800-CarCash Mudsummer Classic

      Eldora Speedway

      Rossburg, Ohio

      Wednesday, July 23, 2014

      1. (6) Darrell Wallace Jr., Toyota, 150, $33585.

      2. (3) Ron Hornaday Jr., Chevrolet, 150, $22160.

      3. (4) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 150, $18510.

      4. (10) Ken Schrader, Toyota, 150, $14410.

      5. (13) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 150, $9885.

      6. (18) John H. Nemechek, Toyota, 150, $10310.

      7. (2) Jeb Burton, Toyota, 150, $9760.

      8. (5) Johnny Sauter, Toyota, 150, $9710.

      9. (9) Matt Crafton, Toyota, 150, $10660.

      10. (19) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 150, $8635.

      11. (8) Tyler Reddick #, Ford, 150, $10560.

      12. (24) German Quiroga, Toyota, 150, $9510.

      13. (21) Ben Kennedy #, Chevrolet, 150, $9460.

      14. (7) Joey Coulter, Chevrolet, 150, $9410.

      15. (27) Tyler Young #, Chevrolet, 150, $10185.

      16. (14) Timothy Peters, Toyota, 150, $9310.

      17. (23) Chase Pistone #, Chevrolet, 150, $9260.

      18. (16) JR Heffner, Chevrolet, 150, $9210.

      19. (26) John Wes Townley, Toyota, 150, $6755.

      20. (17) Gray Gaulding #, Chevrolet, 150, $9580.

      21. (15) TJ Bell, Chevrolet, 150, $8905.

      22. (12) Mason Mingus #, Toyota, 150, $7605.

      23. (20) Bryan Silas, Chevrolet, 150, $7555.

      24. (25) Korbin Forrister, Chevrolet, 150, $6505.

      25. (30) Michael Annett(i), Chevrolet, 149, $6605.

      26. (11) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 148, $6405.

      27. (29) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, 148, $6355.

      28. (28) Jody Knowles, Ford, 148, $6305.

      29. (1) Erik Jones, Toyota, 144, $6205.

      30. (22) Michael Affarano, Chevrolet, Overheating, 93, $6564.

      Average Speed of Race Winner: 50.195 mph.

      Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 29 Mins, 39 Secs. Margin of Victory: 5.489 Seconds.

      Caution Flags: 7 for 33 laps.

      Lead Changes: 5 among 5 drivers.

      Lap Leaders: E. Jones 1-24; J. Burton 25-31; R. Hornaday Jr. 32-48; D. Wallace Jr. 49-127; K. Larson(i) 128-132; D. Wallace Jr. 133-150.

      Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): D. Wallace Jr. 2 times for 97 laps; E. Jones 1 time for 24 laps; R. Hornaday Jr. 1 time for 17 laps; J. Burton 1 time for 7 laps; K. Larson(i) 1 time for 5 laps.

      Top 10 in Points: R. Blaney -- 369; M. Crafton -- 365; J. Sauter -- 359; R. Hornaday Jr. -- 350; G. Quiroga -- 343; D. Wallace Jr. -- 341; B. Kennedy # -- 332; T. Peters -- 327; J. Coulter -- 312; J. Townley -- 304.

  • Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    NASCAR Driver Capsules, July 23
    By The Sports Xchange

    Capsules for the top 20 drivers in the Sprint Cup standings, plus five additional drivers of note.

    • By Jerry Bonkowski and Bob Moore

      24 JEFF GORDON, Chevrolet

      Team: Hendrick Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: Jeff Gordon remained in first place for the sixth consecutive week after New Hampshire and for 12 of the last 13 weeks. Gordon leads second-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. by just 12 points (was 27 points last week).

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 20 career starts, 4 wins, 11 top-5s, 16 top-10s, 3 poles. Best career finish: First in 1994, 1998, 2001 and 2004. Finished seventh in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Gordon is still looking for his second win of the season, his fifth overall win at Indy and first there since 2001. Gordon won the first Brickyard 400 in 1994, as well. "It's hard to believe it's been 20 years," Gordon said. "That was such a big event, and Ernie Irvan and I had a great battle where we were passing each other for the top spot before he had a tire issue. Growing up in nearby Pittsboro (Indiana) made that such a special win for me."

      LOOKING BACK: Gordon led 19 laps at New Hampshire, but his car faded and he eventually wound up with a disappointing 26th place finish, the last car on the lead lap.

      ETC.: Gordon has completed 96.2 percent (3,079) of the 3,201 total laps contested in 20 career starts at Indianapolis. His average start there is 12.2 and average finish is an outstanding 8.8. He has one DNF there.

      88 DALE EARNHARDT JR., Chevrolet

      Team: Hendrick Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: Former points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. remained in second place for the second week. Earnhardt trails points leader and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon by 12 points and is 24 points ahead of third-ranked Brad Keselowski.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 14 career starts, 0 wins, 1 top-5s, 4 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Fourth in 2012. Finished sixth in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Earnhardt has never won at Indianapolis, but he's coming off his two best showings there in 2012 (fourth) and last year (sixth, tying his earlier previous best in 2006). Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race: "The shape of the track is unique compared to anything else we race on. Indianapolis is a real technical track. The car must go through each corner pretty much the same and what you might be fighting in one corner you would probably assume you would fight in all of them but all the corners are really different. That makes it a bit of a challenge, a good challenge, trying to get a car that goes fast and doesn't have trouble at one end of the track to make things difficult."

      LOOKING BACK: Earnhardt had a decent run and finished 10th at New Hampshire.

      ETC.: Earnhardt has completed 93.0 percent (2,084 laps) of the 2,241 total laps contested in 14 career starts at Indianapolis. His average start there is 16.9 and average finish is 19.3. He has three DNFs there.

      2 BRAD KESELOWSKI, Ford

      Team: Penske Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: After two weeks in fourth place, Brad Keselowski moved up to third place after New Hampshire. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 36 points (was 65 points prior to Loudon), is 24 points behind second-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. and leads fourth-ranked Matt Kenseth by 13 points.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: Four career starts, 0 wins, 0 top-5s, 2 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Ninth in 2011 and 2012. Finished 21st in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Keselowski is looking for his first top-five, if not his first win, at the legendary Brickyard. He's also looking for his second straight win after his triumph at New Hampshire (and third win in the last four races). "We want to win everywhere we go, but the Brickyard does hold more significance with this team than most considering Roger Penske's legacy at Indy," Keselowski said. "We have had some strong runs there in the past, but we just haven't put it all together. Looking at our current performances and the momentum we have right now, I feel like we're well positioned to close the loop on this one and get Team Penske its first Brickyard 400 victory."

      LOOKING BACK: After finishing 18th at Daytona, Keselowski bounced back to earn his second win in three races, adding New Hampshire to his win three weeks earlier at Kentucky.

      ETC.: Keselowski has completed a perfect 100 percent (640) of the 640 total laps contested in four career starts at Indianapolis. His average start is 12.5 and his average finish is 14.5. He has zero DNFs there.

      20 MATT KENSETH, Toyota

      Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: After two weeks in fifth place, Matt Kenseth moved up to fourth place after Loudon. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 49 points (after being 71 points behind prior to Loudon), is 13 points behind third-ranked Brad Keselowski and leads fifth-ranked Jimmie Johnson by 23 points.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 14 career starts, 0 wins, 6 top-5s, 8 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Second in 2003 and 2006. Finished fifth in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Kenseth is still looking for his first win of the season - not to mention his first career win at Indianapolis. "I'm looking forward to this weekend because it's Indy and it's just a really cool track to go to," Kenseth said. "I always feel like this is the second biggest race of the year and everybody wants to win the Brickyard 400. If you could only have two wins, you want the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400, so it's a big race weekend for sure. The last few years we haven't been close, but there have been five or six times where we have been really close to winning there and had one of the best cars, but just had problems for whatever reason. I feel like Indy is just one that has just gotten away a lot of times where we've had legitimate chances. Indy is definitely the top of my list, of all the tracks left, of the places that I want to win at for sure."

      LOOKING BACK: Kenseth led 12 laps at New Hampshire and finished fourth.

      ETC.: Kenseth has completed just 90.9 percent (2,038) of the 2,241 total laps contested in 14 career starts at Indianapolis. His average start is 19.2 and his average finish is 15.1. He has two DNFs there.

      48 JIMMIE JOHNSON, Chevrolet

      Team: Hendrick Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: After dropping from second to third after Daytona, Jimmie Johnson dropped two more spots to fifth place after New Hampshire. He trails points leader and teammate Jeff Gordon by 72 points (was 55 before Loudon), is 23 points behind fourth-ranked Matt Kenseth and leads sixth-ranked Carl Edwards by 24 points.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 12 career starts, 4 wins, 5 top-5s, 6 top-10s, 1 pole. Best career finish: First in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012. Finished second in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: After coming up one spot short in last year's race, Johnson looks to once again become the winningest NASCAR driver at Indianapolis - he and teammate Jeff Gordon are tied among all drivers with four wins each. "Everyone risks it all for Indianapolis," Johnson said. "I'm excited because for a long stretch now we have been able to go there and get it right and be competitive with this Lowe's team. So now I unload there and I understand how to drive the track and I'm able to get us in that window to be competitive. It's a huge honor to be out there kissing the bricks at the end - something I would love to do again."

      LOOKING BACK: Johnson completed just 11 laps before he was involved in a race-ending wreck, resulting in his second consecutive 42nd place finish of the season, first at Daytona the week before and then at Loudon.

      ETC.: Johnson has completed 90.1 percent (1,731) of 1,921 total laps in 12 career starts at Indianapolis. Even with four wins there, his average start is 12.6 and his average finish is 15.6. He also has three DNFs there.

      99 CARL EDWARDS, Ford

      Team: Roush Fenway Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: Carl Edwards climbed one spot, from seventh to sixth, after New Hampshire. He is now 96 points behind series leader Jeff Gordon (was 108 points back prior to Loudon), is 24 points behind fifth-ranked Jimmie Johnson and leads seventh-ranked Ryan Newman by one point.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: Nine career starts, 0 win, 1 top-5, 3 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Second in 2008. Finished 13th in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Edwards will be making the 10th career start of his Sprint Cup career Sunday at Indianapolis and is still in search of his first career win there (and his second career top-five, for that matter).

      LOOKING BACK: Edwards had a relatively uneventful race at New Hampshire, finishing 13th.

      ETC.: Even though he's never won a Sprint Cup race there, Edwards has completed an almost perfect 99.7 percent (1,436) of 1,440 total laps contested in nine career starts at Indianapolis. His average start there is 19.9 and his average finish is 13.2. He has zero DNFs there.

      31 RYAN NEWMAN, Chevrolet

      Team: Richard Childress Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: After three straight weeks in eighth place, Ryan Newman moved up one spot to seventh after New Hampshire. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 97 points (was 117 points behind before Loudon), is one point behind sixth-ranked Carl Edwards and leads eighth-ranked Kyle Busch by six points.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 13 career starts, 1 wins, 2 top-5, 3 top-10, 1 pole. Best career finish: First in 2013. Finished first in this race last year (after starting from the pole).

      LOOKING AHEAD: Newman hopes to win a second straight Brickyard 400 on July 27. His win in last year's race all but equaled Newman's Daytona 500 victory several years ago, with significant importance due to being an Indiana native. "It's hard to rationalize a race beating the Daytona 500, but with all that happened to me last year, winning the 2013 Brickyard 400 is kind of in a tie with me winning the 50th running of the Daytona 500," Newman said. "I went through a lot last year. Plus, I am from Indiana and that place is important to my state. I think the most important part of winning at Indy is appreciating the history of the speedway and the history of all the race car drivers who have competed there. Then, to see the list of drivers who have actually fulfilled their dreams of winning there, it's pretty amazing."

      LOOKING BACK: Newman had a good, strong run at Loudon, which is one of his favorite tracks regardless, finishing fifth.

      ETC.: Newman has completed 92.8 percent (1,931) of the 2,081 total laps contested in 13 career starts at Indianapolis. His average start there is an outstanding 7.4 and his average finish is 17.7. He has two DNFs there.

      18 KYLE BUSCH, Toyota

      Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: After climbing from 10th to ninth after Daytona, Kyle Busch jumped up one more spot to eighth after New Hampshire. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 103 points (was 127 points back prior to Loudon), is six points behind seventh-ranked Ryan Newman and leads ninth-ranked Joey Logano by 16 points.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 9 career starts, 0 wins, 2 top-5s, 7 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Second in 2012. Finished 10th in this race last season.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Busch makes his 10th career start at Indianapolis and is still in pursuit of his first Sprint Cup win there. "Indianapolis is a really cool place," Busch said. "It's got a lot of history. I know the history is not all NASCAR - a lot of it is IndyCar - but it's one of America's oldest speedways. The prestige of winning there is a big deal. It's a unique place to race. ... We've run well there the past couple of times. We haven't qualified well, though, and I think we need to focus on qualifying when we get there and, if we can do that, we will be a heck of a lot better off for the race. Two years ago, I'd say we were pretty close to winning there. We got out front and ran second, third or fourth much of the day. Last year, not so much. We ran around 10th or 12th all day. We need to pick our game back up there."

      LOOKING BACK: Busch gave it everything he had but came up short to Brad Keselowski at New Hampshire, finishing a close second.

      ETC.: Busch has completed 96.7 percent (1,392 laps) of the 1,440 total laps contested in nine career starts at Indianapolis. His average start there is a mediocre 20.9, but has a much-better average finish of 11.6. He has zero DNFs there.

      22 JOEY LOGANO, Ford

      Team: Penske Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: After moving up to sixth following Daytona, Joey Logano dropped three spots to ninth after New Hampshire. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 119 points, is 16 points behind eighth-ranked Kyle Busch and leads 10th-ranked Clint Bowyer by three points.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 5 career starts, 0 wins, 0 top-5s, 2 top-10, 0 poles. Best career finish: Eighth in 2013. Finished eighth in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Logano bounced back after two straight poor performances to finish eighth at Indianapolis last season. He's definitely looking for his first career top-five at the fabled Brickyard, if not his first win there this Sunday. "It's one of our biggest races of the year, it's one of the crown jewels," Logano said of the Brickyard 400. "Everyone wants to win at Indianapolis. I didn't really grow up watching Indy cars, but everyone watched the Indy 500 and knows what it means. There are a handful of tracks that everyone wants to win at. Indy is one of them. And now, driving for Roger Penske, you want to win even more. To try and get him a win in a stock car at a place where he has had so much success would be pretty dang cool. I just want to win any race I can. But I will take Indy for sure."

      LOOKING BACK: Logano was involved in a wreck with Morgan Shepherd on Lap 211 of Sunday's race at New Hampshire, ultimately finishing 40th (Shepherd, ironically, wound up 39th in the final order).

      ETC.: Logano has completed 98.0 percent (784 laps) of the 800 laps contested in five career starts at Indianapolis. His average start there is 17.2 and average finish is a nearly identical 17.4. He has zero DNFs there.

      15 CLINT BOWYER, Toyota

      Team: Michael Waltrip Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: Clint Bowyer climbed two spots in the standings, from 12th to 10th after New Hampshire. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 122 points, is three points behind ninth-ranked Joey Logano and leads 11th-ranked Paul Menard by seven points.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 8 career starts, 0 wins, 2 top-5s, 2 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Fourth in 2006 and 2010. Finished 20th in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Time is starting to close in on Bowyer to assure that he'll make the revamped and expanded Chase for the Sprint Cup. While he's 10th in the points standings, he's a more precarious 14th in the Chase eligibility standings. If he can get a win in the next seven races, he's likely a lock to make the Chase. If not, he definitely runs the risk of falling short. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race at Indianapolis: "The history is what you go there for. That place is just so rich and deep in history that you're ecstatic every time you roll into the place. It's like, 'Holy cow, this is Indy.' A lot of big names and a lot of exposure has always been on the place. It doesn't matter what you race or how you came up, you're very fond and very aware of Indianapolis and what that track means to auto racing. It really is cool to be able to race on that race track, but aside from that it's so hard to get around."

      LOOKING BACK: Bowyer had a very strong run at New Hampshire, leading 36 laps before ultimately settling for a still-decent sixth place finish.

      ETC.: Bowyer has completed a perfect 100 percent (1,280 laps) of the 1,280 total laps contested in eight previous career starts at Indianapolis. His average start there is 20.0 and average finish is a significantly better 13.2. He has zero DNFs there.

      27 PAUL MENARD, Chevrolet

      Team: Richard Childress Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 11th, only seven points out of the top 10. Would earn a spot in the Chase for the Championship if the Chase began this weekend.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: One win in seven starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Menard calls Indianapolis Motor Speedway "the greatest race track in the world. It's the one I circle every year, even before I won there. I spent a lot of time there as a kid watching Indy Car races. We had a tough weekend in Loudon so I'm looking forward to getting back on track at Indy." Adds Menard, "I was at the inaugural Brickyard 400 (as a fan). The track holds a special meaning for me for sure."

      LOOKING BACK: Menard finished 19th at New Hampshire.

      ETC.: Menard said, "I practically grew up at the race track (Indy) watching IndyCar races with my family. It's always special to come here. At one point I could name every Indy 500 winner from 1911 through probably the mid-90's. I've forgotten most of them now, but could still probably name quite a few. I was and still am a big history geek. I love history, especially at Indianapolis."

      11 DENNY HAMLIN, Toyota

      Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 12th, 18 points out of the top 10. Will make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship because of his Talladega win.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: Three top-10 finishes in eight starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Hamlin won the pole for the 2012 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and finished sixth after leading 27 laps. In 2008, he led 26 laps before ending up third. "Those were my two best shots at it (a win)," said Hamlin. "So we know we can run well at Indy. We just have to put together a complete race. Winning at Indy is every driver's dream. Hopefully this is the year we do it."

      LOOKING BACK: Hamlin was running second when he was forced to pit late in the race for fuel. He rallied during the green-white-checkered flag finish to end up eighth at New Hampshire. Hamlin led twice for 20 laps.

      ETC.: Hamlin spent his off week in Lake Tahoe, Nev., where he competed in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship. Before heading to Lake Tahoe, Hamlin tweeted "can't wait...best week of year." Hamlin was the highest-finishing NASCAR driver during the four day tournament, besting Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and Michael Waltrip.

      4 KEVIN HARVICK, Chevrolet

      Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 13th, 20 points out of the top 10. Will make the Chase after winning two of the first 19 races this season.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: One win and seven top-10 finishes including four top-five's in 13 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Harvick said, "Indianapolis is a very hard race track to pass on. Obviously, with how narrow the race track is and how fast the cars are going, you have to try and maintain your track position all day. It takes really everything - you have to have great motors, good handling and all the things you hear about at a lot of race tracks. You can't overcome a lack of horsepower or a lack of downforce and I feel like we've done a good job with both of these things all year. Hopefully, we can find the right handling package to go with the great pieces and parts that we have on the cars."

      LOOKING BACK: Harvick was running second when the green flag was waved for the last time at New Hampshire. But he ran out of gas moments later and finished 30th.

      ETC.: To the surprise of no one, Harvick said his "favorite Brickyard moment is definitely the win (in 2003). I always tell people that the best part of the win is not kissing the bricks or taking the checkered flag, but the best part of the win is driving around in the Corvette after the race. You can tell who the fans are who have been at Indy for a long time and know about the victory lap. So just driving around and reminiscing about what you just achieved with the team owner (Richard Childress) and DeLana (his wife) is just a cool 15 minutes."

      42 KYLE LARSON, Chevrolet

      Team: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

      WHERE HE STANDS: 14th, 24 points out of the top 10. Would make the Chase if the Chase for the Championship began this week.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: Will be making his Sprint Cup debut.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Larson said, "I'm definitely looking forward to racing in my first Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. To be able to race at a track that has such a rich history is a really cool experience. The team is excited about our chances in the Brickyard, and I know the guys back at the shop have put together a really good Target Chevy for this weekend. We will be looking to build upon the solid race we had in Loudon just before the break, and keep pushing hard for a spot in the Chase."

      LOOKING BACK: After finishing third in the Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire, Larson finished third in the Nationwide Series event last Saturday night at Chicagoland Speedway.

      ETC.: Larson feels "I've struggled at most flat tracks where you have to use a lot of braking - Phoenix, Martinsville, Richmond. It's definitely a style of track I've got to get better at. It's a lot different than the style of racing I grew up doing. Nothing I ever did you were hard on the brakes almost coming to a stop and making a U-turn and going the other way. I think that is why I have struggled so far on the flat tracks."

      3 AUSTIN DILLON, Chevrolet

      Team: Richard Childress Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 15th. Tied with fellow rookie Kyle Larson, but loses the tiebreaker based on Larson's second place finish at California.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: Finished 26th a year ago in his Sprint Cup debut.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Dillon said, "Everybody knows how prestigious this race (the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway) is and just being a part of it with Mycogen Seeds was huge last year, and we get to come back with them this year. We've been running a little better as of late on the ovals, so I'm definitely looking forward to Indy. To become the fourth driver from Richard Childress Racing to win and to do it in my first (full) year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series would be crazy. It would definitely be an amazing experience."

      LOOKING BACK: After running in the top 10 for much of the race, Dillon had to be content with a 14th place finish at New Hampshire.

      ETC.: Dillon will participate in an autograph session on behalf of Chevrolet on Friday from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. in Chalets 4 and 5 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He also will take part in a question-and-answer session from 9:35 to 10 a.m. at the Team Chevy Stage. Wristband distribution for the autograph session will start at 8 a.m. in the Pagoda Plaza.

      16 GREG BIFFLE, Ford

      Team: Roush Fenway Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 16th, only five points out of a spot in the Chase.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: Has five top-eight finishes in the last six races including two third place finishes.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Biffle began the week by testing at Michigan, and he feels "pretty good about going to Indy now. We tested there and were about a half second off the cars we tested around. We knew we had to find that speed. So we feel like we have found some of that speed (at Michigan). I was not feeling good about it (racing at Indy this weekend) until this test."

      LOOKING BACK: Biffle rallied in the second half of the race to finish 15th at New Hampshire.

      ETC.: Biffle admits that Roush Fenway Racing has not been on par with fellow Ford-racing Team Penske. "It is pretty obvious that we need to catch up to where the Penske team is," said Biffle. "That is why we are here (Michigan) testing and we are finding some of that speed. We just need to continue to work hard and narrow in on it and see if we can close that gap to the fast Penske cars."

      5 KASEY KAHNE, Chevrolet

      Team: Hendrick Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: 17th, only nine points out of a spot in the Chase.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: Finished third in the race last year for his fifth top-seven finish in 10 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Kahne puts winning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway "definitely at the top of my list. When I was coming up through the sprint car ranks, I raced in the Indianapolis area a lot and learned early on how significant winning at the Brickyard was. It would really mean a lot to me to add my name to the list of drivers that have won at Indy over the years. We've been close a few times, and we had a great run there last year."

      LOOKING BACK: Kahne did not take last weekend off. Instead, he went to Chicagoland Speedway for the Nationwide Series event and finished fourth.

      ETC.: As the Sprint Cup Series heads to Indy, Kahne is the only Hendrick Motorsports driver that has yet to win a race this year or is guaranteed a spot in the Chase for the Championship. But Kahne is optimistic that he will win a race "shortly" and be a part of the Chase. "We've got several good tracks coming up for us, and we are not that far out in the points," said Kahne. "So we feel good about our chances of making the Chase."

      55 BRIAN VICKERS, Toyota

      Team: Michael Waltrip Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 18th, 17 points out of a spot in the Chase.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: Two top-five finishes in seven starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Vickers will be making his 300th Cup start this Sunday. "That's pretty hard to believe," said Vickers. "I would have never guessed it's been that many. Making it to 300 starts in this sport is certainly a big milestone and I couldn't have done it on my own." When told five drivers have won their 300th start, Vickers said, "That's cool. Let's hope history repeats itself."

      LOOKING BACK: Vickers finished 21st at New Hampshire.

      ETC.: Vickers feels he's been "fortunate enough to race at the world's best tracks like Daytona, Spa in Belgium and others and Indy ranks up there. It doesn't matter who you are, whether you grew up in stock car racing or open wheel or outside our country, everyone recognizes winning at Indianapolis as a major career achievement. That trophy is one that you will put on the mantle."

      14 TONY STEWART, Chevrolet

      Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 19th, 22 points out of a spot in the Chase.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: Finished fourth a year ago. Will be seeking his sixth straight top-10 finish. Overall has three wins and 11 top-10 finishes including five top-five's in 15 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Stewart calls Indianapolis Motor Speedway "a challenging track in a Cup car. In an Indy car you just don't lift - if the car's right. But in a stock car, even if it's right, you've got to lift and you've got to brake for at least two of the corners. It's a challenging track in an Indy car too, but if can get it right in an Indy car then you can run it wide open around there, and that's one less variable you've got to worry about when it comes to getting around the race track."

      LOOKING BACK: Stewart struggled during the middle portion of the race at New Hampshire, but rallied in the final 75 laps to finish seventh for his seventh top-10 finish of the season.

      ETC.: Stewart returned to his roots last week as he went sprint car racing for the first time since breaking two bones in his lower right leg in a sprint car crash at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa last Aug. 5. On Friday night, he won the main event at Tri-City Motor Speedway in Auburn, Mich. A night later he finished third at Crystal (Mich.) Motor Speedway. "It was neat to get back in the car, finally, in a scenario that was low pressure," said Stewart, who added that running as well as he did was a confidence boost. "When you necessarily haven't been a contender to be in the top two or three each week and having those opportunities to win races, you start questioning what is it in the equation that you're missing," said Stewart, who is winless this season in the Sprint Cup Series. "It's nice to hopefully eliminate a variable from that side of it and feel like it's not necessarily what you're doing behind the wheel."

      9 MARCOS AMBROSE, Ford

      Team: Richard Petty Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: 20th, 35 points out of a spot in the Chase.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: Best finish in six starts is 16th.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Ambrose said, "Our goal is still to win a race, the only way to basically guarantee you a spot in the Chase, and that goal has not changed. We came out of New Hampshire and slipped a bit, something we really can't do over the next few weeks. There are a lot of points to be gained at Indy, Pocono and of course, Watkins Glen. There are still four or five races after that, too. So, there is a lot of racing left and a lot of good things can happen for our race team."

      LOOKING BACK: Ambrose struggled big time at New Hampshire as he finished 27th.

      ETC.: Ambrose is a two-time winner at Watkins Glen and everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports believe the road course is his best shot at

      Winning a race and making the Chase. But Ambrose said, "We are not putting all our eggs in one basket. We are still concentrating on this weekend and getting a really good finish, the same for the upcoming races. If we can put a string of two or three good runs together, like we have done this year, we have seen how far we can climb in points. That's a big goal of ours, and we're looking to work hard this weekend."

      1 JAMIE MCMURRAY, Chevrolet

      Team: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

      WHERE HE STANDS: 21st, 49 points out of a spot in the Chase.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: One win and five top-10 finishes including three top-five's in 11 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: McMurray said, "I think the Brickyard 400 is about as special as it gets. I feel that it is one of the toughest tracks to win at because we only race there once a year. Although NASCAR has only been racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for 20 years, the history of the track makes it a special place. I think that as far as the racing there, it is critical to get off of turns two and four to get down the long straights, you can make up or lose a lot of time there. It is another flat track so it is hard to pass and track position will be critical."

      LOOKING BACK: McMurray finished 16th at New Hampshire.

      ETC.: With the week off before Indy, McMurray had some time to cherish his victory in the Sprint All-Star Race earlier this season. "I have such a clear vision of those three or four laps with (Carl Edwards) being on the inside of me (as they raced for the lead at the start of the 10-lap shootout), and it's what we wake up every single day and live for is to get in that exact position. It's three or four of the hardest laps I've ever driven in my racing career, and it's one of those memories that I hope I never forget."

      43 ARIC ALMIROLA, Ford

      Team: Richard Petty Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: 22nd. Will make the Chase because of his win at Daytona earlier this month.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: Best finish in two starts is 17th.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Almirola said, "Typically cars that run well at Pocono, especially the tunnel turn, run well at Indy. We've got some work to do because we weren't really happy with our car at Pocono. We've got to be better at the flatter tracks. Indy is a very challenging and fast track. It's one of the races that we all love to go to because of its history, but everything has to be perfect to run well there."

      LOOKING BACK: Almirola struggled at New Hampshire and finished 23rd.

      ETC.: Almirola has always been a motorsports fan. "I grew up watching motorsports," said Almirola. "I always watched the Indy 500. Indy is so special. Knowing the history of the place, having the opportunity to drive around Indy is really special."

      78 MARTIN TRUEX, JR., Chevrolet

      Team: Furniture Row Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 23rd, 78 points out of a spot in the Chase.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: Only one top-10 finish in nine starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Truex said, "A victory at Indianapolis would be the ultimate double. A win would most likely secure us a spot in the Chase and winning at Indianapolis will go a long way in history of capturing one of NASCAR's crown jewels. Indy is not an easy place to drive. You really got to get your car figured out for all four corners, which is a huge challenge, especially when the sun and shade move around. Aero also comes into play with the high speeds. It's just a very difficult place to race."

      LOOKING BACK: Truex passed 10 cars in the final two laps to finish 12th at New Hampshire.

      ETC.: Truex knows "Indianapolis Motor Speedway will always be a special venue and it's a place where every driver and crew member wants to kiss those bricks following a victory. Stock car drivers and stock car fans were thrilled when the track, known for open-wheel racing and the Indy 500, worked with NASCAR to create the Brickyard 400 twenty years ago. It has given our sport a midseason race that carries plenty of intrigue and excitement."

      41 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet

      Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 25th. Will make the Chase because of his Martinsville win.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: Four top-10 finishes in 13 starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Busch admits, "Indianapolis is tough. It's been a tough place for me but it became even more of a challenge when they did the diamond cutting of the track. It's just hard trying to find the balance you need that works at the beginning and will get you to the end of the race. We tend to have long, green-flag runs there and, for some reason, it has just been a track where I'm still trying to figure out the nuances you need to have a proper-handling car that gets around there and is fast."

      LOOKING BACK: Busch finished 17th at New Hampshire.

      ETC: Busch made his Indianapolis 500 debut in May and finished sixth as he won the Rookie of the Race Award, the first for a NASCAR driver since Donnie Allison in 1970. "Indy, was all about doing something different," said Busch. "It was a personal challenge to push myself in a totally different driving direction. I love racing and I wanted to challenge myself physically and mentally. But Dale Jr.,(Earnhardt) is the guy that threw down the gauntlet - 'You are representing NASCAR' - and at that point it hit me that this was the bigger than any personal goals. I was going to be judged as the only pure NASCAR driver with no Indy experience to go there and compete with the best of the best in their biggest race."

      47 A J ALLMENDINGER, Chevrolet

      Team: JTG Daugherty Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 26th, 84 points out of a spot in the Chase.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: One top-10 finish in five starts.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Allmendinger said, "Indy will be a tough place to get our Kingsford Chevrolet SS to turn and not over rotate. Turn one, you are going so fast and that corner comes up quick and invites you to drive in too deep. It's about flow. Turn two is loose in, but critical to get back to power. Turn three is the most wide open corner with a lot of grip and the most speed in. Turn four, when you get off the corner, it gets loose on exit. Indy is a rhythm place. Being up front is critical because in traffic handling is worse. It's just so tough when you are in traffic."

      LOOKING BACK: Allmendinger finished 18th at New Hampshire.

      ETC.: Allmendinger said he didn't really understand how big racing at Indianapolis was until "I pulled out into Gasoline Alley in a Cup car for the first time. I was like, 'Okay, I think I understand now and I get what it's all about.' Then I went back there with Roger Penske last year to race the Indy 500 and I was like, 'Oh this is what Indy is all about.' It was just an unreal experience. To run the Indy 500 was such a dream come true. The experience alone to do with Roger Penske with leading laps and having a legitimate shot to win the race showed me what being at Indy was all about."

  • Monday, July 21, 2014
    The Green Flag: 20th anniversary at the Brickyard
    By The Sports Xchange

    NASCAR Wire Service

    • Distributed by The Sports Xchange

      Note: Reid Spencer and @nascarcasm have the week off, but will return next week to recap Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (1 p.m. ET on ESPN).

      NASCAR ETC.

      From the very first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (won by Indiana's adopted son Jeff Gordon), to the most recent (won by native son Ryan Newman), a bevy of memories has taken root as the series enters the 20th anniversary of racing at the Brickyard. It's a place of champions -- 15 of the 20 winners were either past, future or reigning series champions. And eight winners went on to win that year's championship. ... It's not a record, but it's close. Chevrolet has won 11 consecutive races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, two short of the all-time record for a manufacturer (Chevrolet, 13 at Talladega from 1999-2005). Kevin Harvick started the streak in 2003 while with Richard Childress Racing, with the likes of Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman following suit. ... Indy could be a potential wild-card track on the way to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The Brickyard wins list includes NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt, Dale Jarrett and Bill Elliott. But it also includes some surprises, like Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman -- all of whom are looking for their first win of the season, and the likely Chase spot that goes with it. They're among a large group who are relying on an Indy win to lock up a spot in the playoffs. Others include two-time winner Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne (third last year) and Matt Kenseth (fifth last year).

      Tune-In: NASCAR On Television, July 21-27

      Monday, July 21

      5 p.m., NASCAR America: Scan All 43 Special, NBC Sports Network

      5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

      5 p.m., 2008 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (re-air), ESPN Classic

      5:30 p.m., NASCAR's The List: Iconic Cars, NBC Sports Network

      7 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

      8 p.m., Empty Cup: Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Championship (re-air), FOX Sports 2

      4 a.m. (Tue.), Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      Tuesday, July 22

      7 a.m., 2009 Brickyard 400 (re-air), ESPN Classic

      9 a.m., 2012 Brickyard 400 (re-air), ESPN Classic

      10 a.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at New Hampshire (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      11 a.m., 2010 Brickyard 400 (re-air), ESPN Classic

      1 p.m., 2011 Brickyard 400 (re-air), ESPN Classic

      3 p.m., 1998 Brickyard 400 (re-air) ESPN Classic

      5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

      5 p.m., NASCAR America Future Stars (re-air), NBC Sports Network

      5 p.m., 1994 Brickyard 400 (re-air), ESPN Classic

      5:30 p.m., NASCAR's The List: Tracks, NBC Sports Network

      6:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

      7:30 p.m., NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Race at New Hampshire (re-air), FOX Sports 2

      Wednesday, July 23

      7 a.m., 1995 Brickyard 400 (re-air), ESPN Classic

      10 a.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Practice, FOX Sports 1

      11 a.m., NASCAR Live, FOX Sports 1

      11:30 a.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Final Practice, FOX Sports 1

      1 p.m., 2008 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (re-air), ESPN Classic

      3 p.m., 2009 Brickyard 400 (re-air), ESPN Classic

      5 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 1

      6 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

      6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

      7 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Qualifying Races at Eldora, FOX Sports 1

      8:30 p.m., NCWTS SetUp, FOX Sports 1

      9 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Eldora, FOX Sports 1

      1 a.m. (Thu.), NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Eldora (re-air), FOX Sports 2

      3 a.m. (Thu.), NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Eldora (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      5 a.m. (Thu.), The 600: History of NASCAR's Toughest Race (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      Thursday, July 24

      7 a.m., 2010 Brickyard 400 (re-air), ESPN Classic

      9 a.m., 2011 Brickyard 400 (re-air), ESPN Classic

      11 a.m., 1998 Brickyard 400 (re-air) ESPN Classic

      1 p.m., 1994 Brickyard 400 (re-air), ESPN Classic

      3 p.m., 1995 Brickyard 400 (re-air), ESPN Classic

      5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

      5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

      5 p.m., 2007 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (re-air), ESPN Classic

      6:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

      Friday, July 25

      8 a.m., The 10 Greatest Drivers in NASCAR History (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      8:30 a.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Practice, FOX Sports 1

      10 a.m., NASCAR Live, FOX Sports 1

      10:30 a.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Final Practice, FOX Sports 1

      11:30 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice, FOX Sports 1

      1 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub Special, FOX Sports 1

      1 p.m., 2010 Brickyard 400 (re-air), ESPN Classic

      2 p.m., The 10 NASCAR's Greatest Races (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      2:30 p.m., NASCAR's The List: Dale Earnhardt Sr. Moments, NBC Sports Network

      2:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Eldora (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      3 p.m., 2011 Brickyard 400 (re-air), ESPN Classic

      5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

      5:30 p.m., TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Race at Indianapolis, FOX Sports 1

      8:30 p.m., The 10 NASCAR's Greatest Finishes (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      3 a.m. (Sat.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      4:30 a.m. (Sat.), NASCAR Nationwide Series Practice (re-air), FOX Sports 1

      Saturday, July 26

      9 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice, ESPN2

      11 a.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at State Line, FOX Sports 1

      Noon, NASCAR Nationwide Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 1

      2 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, ESPN2

      4 p.m., NNS Countdown, ESPN

      4:30 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at Indianapolis

      Sunday, July 27

      9 a.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at Columbus, FOX Sports 1

      10 a.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FOX Sports 1

      Noon, NSCS Countdown, ESPN

      1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Indianapolis, ESPN

      10:30 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lane, FOX Sports 1

      1 a.m. (Mon.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Indianapolis (re-air), ESPN2

      National Series Schedule

      NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

      The Next Race:

      Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard

      The Place:

      Indianapolis Motor Speedway

      The Date/Time:

      Sunday, July 27, 1 p.m. (ET)

      TV: ESPN

      Radio: IMS Radio,

      Sirius XM Channel 90

      NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES

      The Next Race:

      Indiana 250

      The Place:

      Indianapolis Motor Speedway

      The Date/Time:

      Saturday, July 26, 4:30 p.m. (ET)

      TV: ESPN

      Radio: IMS Radio,

      Sirius XM Channel 90

      NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

      The Next Race:

      1-800-CarCash Mudsummer Classic

      The Place:

      Eldora Speedway

      Date/Time:

      Wednesday, July 23, 9 p.m. (ET)

      TV: FOX Sports 1

      Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Channel 90

      NASCAR National Series Standings

      This year, wins matter more than in any season in the 65-year history of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

      Essentially, a win locks a driver into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

      2014 Winners

      Pos Driver Wins

      1. Jimmie Johnson 3

      2. Brad Keselowski 3

      3. Kevin Harvick 2

      4. Joey Logano 2

      5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2

      6. Carl Edwards 2

      7. Kyle Busch 1

      8. Kurt Busch 1

      9 Denny Hamlin 1

      10. Jeff Gordon 1

      11. Aric Almirola 1

      NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

      Pos Driver Points

      1 Jeff Gordon 670

      2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 658

      3 Brad Keselowski 634

      4 Matt Kenseth 621

      5 Jimmie Johnson 598

      6 Carl Edwards 574

      7 Ryan Newman 573

      8 Kyle Busch 567

      9 Joey Logano 551

      10 Clint Bowyer 548

      11 Paul Menard 541

      12 Denny Hamlin 530

      13 Kevin Harvick 528

      14 Kyle Larson # 524

      15 Austin Dillon # 524

      16 Greg Biffle 519

      NASCAR Nationwide Series

      Pos Driver Points

      1 Chase Elliott # 646

      2 Regan Smith 639

      3 Elliott Sadler 638

      4 Ty Dillon # 616

      5 Brian Scott 599

      6 Trevor Bayne 596

      7 Brendan Gaughan 526

      8 Chris Buescher # 523

      9 James Buescher 492

      10 Ryan Reed # 485

      NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

      Pos Driver Points

      1 Matt Crafton 330

      2 Ryan Blaney 328

      3 Johnny Sauter 323

      4 German Quiroga 311

      5 Ron Hornaday Jr. 307

      6 Ben Kennedy # 301

      7 Timothy Peters 299

      8 Darrell Wallace Jr. 293

      9 Joey Coulter 282

      10 John Wes Townley 279

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014
    Conway claims second race in Toronto doubleheader
    By The Sports Xchange

    TORONTO -- IndyCar's road racing ace won another one Sunday.

    • Mike Conway, the British driver hired by Ed Carpenter Racing to conquer these types of tracks, did just that at Exhibition Place in the second half of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader.

      Conway also won the April street race in Long Beach, Calif., giving the small Indianapolis-based team three wins this season. Team owner/driver Ed Carpenter won the oval race at Texas Motor Speedway in June.

      Conway got to the lead Sunday because his crew brought him to pit road first for dry-condition tires as the wet track dried. Tony Kanaan tried to catch Conway, but he finished 3.54 seconds behind at the finish.

      The win was the fourth of Conway's career.

      "It feels really good," he said. "It was really difficult conditions in the wet. As soon as I saw the track drying I knew it was time to come in."

      The crew called him in.

      "It was a great call," Conway said.

      Among championship contenders, Will Power gained on Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves by finishing third to the Brazilian's 12th. Castroneves leads by 13 points heading to the season's final four races.

      Sunday's second race started with drivers positioned based on entrant points entering the weekend, which means Castroneves and Power started on the front row with first-race winner Sebastien Bourdais in 10th.

      The standing start went off mostly without a hitch. Justin Wilson's car did not start from the 15th spot. When the field got to Turn 3, Kanaan got pushed wide when alongside Carlos Munoz. The caution was short, but the skies were darkening.

      Simon Pagenaud incurred heartbreak on Lap 6 when his engine cut out. He spent the next lap trying to work magic from the cockpit, but nothing work. That was a big hit to his title chances, too.

      Sprinkles started on Lap 12, and the next lap was worse. Juan Pablo Montoya missed the corner in Turn 8, nosing headfirst into the tire barrier. James Hinchcliffe's car spun behind Montoya, hitting the tires farther through the corner. Rookie Mikhail Aleshin could not avoid hitting Montoya, and Montoya's car landed on top of Aleshin's cockpit.

      "That was not a good feeling," Aleshin said with tire marks on the front of his helmet. "I couldn't breathe at all; the car was very hot."

      With the rain coming harder, Josef Newgarden and Bourdais tried to stay on slick tires, but that did not work. Newgarden spun at Turn 8.

      It was not over for Newgarden. Along with Justin Wilson, he stayed out on the track with rain tires with about 10 minutes left. But they could not hold back Kanaan or catch Conway.

      After finishing second and third in last year's races here, Bourdais won Sunday's first race from the pole. The four-time champion of the old Champ Car World Series earned his 32nd career win by 3.34 seconds over Castroneves.

      Bourdais last won a pole and a race in 2007, and he is eighth-best in both categories with 32 of each. He broke a tie in wins with Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti and is tied with Michael Andretti in poles.

      Bourdais gave his team, KV Racing Technology, its second IndyCar win. The other came in 2013 when Kanaan won the Indianapolis 500.

      The last time IndyCar had a true same-day doubleheader was in 1981 when Rick Mears won both races at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

      NOTES: Whereas the lineup for Sunday's first race was determined by Saturday qualifying, Sunday's second race started on entrant points entering the event, which put Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Will Power on the front row. ... Sunday's two races also had different types of starts. The first was the traditional rolling start; the second a standing start. ... James Garner, who died Saturday night in Los Angeles, was more than a Hollywood actor; he was an amateur racer who drove the Indianapolis 500's pace car driver in 1975, '77 and '85. Former 500 winner Parnelli Jones called Garner "a man's man."

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014
    Bourdais takes Race 1 in Toronto
    By The Sports Xchange

    TORONTO -- Finally, Sebastien Bourdais is a winner again in IndyCar after taking Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto event on Sunday.

    • Bourdais' last win came Nov. 11, 2007, in a Champ Car race in Mexico City.

      The career win was his 32nd, breaking a tie with Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti for eighth place.

      Bourdais, who drives for KV Racing Technology, won by 3.34 seconds over series points leader Helio Castroneves.

      KV, a team owned by Kevin Kalkhoven and former CART champion Jimmy Vasser, last won an IndyCar race in 2013 with Tony Kanaan capturing the Indianapolis 500.

      Bourdais finished second and third in last year's doubleheader here.

      "It's really sweet, man," he said. "We had to fight and wait for it for a long time. I was not expecting it because I know how things can go here.

      "I couldn't be any happier with this one."

      Kanaan finished third with Simon Pagenaud fourth.

      Pagenaud was involved in a first-lap spin with contact from rookie Luca Filippi. Pagenaud's team switched out the damaged front wing assembly and got him back in the race.

      Scott Dixon finished fifth.

      Championship contenders Will Power (ninth) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (21st) did not have the best of races, but they will get another chance Sunday afternoon at 4:15 p.m. in the second half of the doubleheader. The morning's first race was delayed by Saturday's rain. Both races are 65 laps, and both award the normal amount of points.

      Hunter-Reay hit the wall after contact with Kanaan. On the next lap, Bourdais ran over front wing debris from Hunter-Reay's car, which scared him. But the tire stayed true, and he soldiered on.

      NOTES: Winner Sebastien Bourdais started on the pole after winning a qualifying session for the first time since 2007 in what was then known as the Champ Car World Series. The pole was the 32nd of his career, tying Michael Andretti for eighth place on the sport's all-time list. ... The last IndyCar race to be postponed by rain was in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2011. That race ran its first 15 laps on Sunday and concluded with 40 laps on Monday. ... Same-day IndyCar doubleheaders are indeed rare, although the series ran a pair of shortened races at Texas Motor Speedway in 2011. Before that, the last event of two points-paying races was in 1981 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Rick Mears won both of those races.

      Verizon IndyCar Series

      Honda Indy Toronto Race 1

      TORONTO -- Results Sunday of the Honda Indy Toronto Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.755-mile Exhibition Place street circuit with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

      1. (1) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 65, Running

      2. (2) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 65, Running

      3. (5) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 65, Running

      4. (4) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 65, Running

      5. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 65, Running

      6. (11) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 65, Running

      7. (18) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 65, Running

      8. (8) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 65, Running

      9. (23) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 65, Running

      10. (7) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 65, Running

      11. (19) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 65, Running

      12. (21) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 65, Running

      13. (15) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 65, Running

      14. (17) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 65, Running

      15. (13) Mike Conway, Dallara-Chevy, 65, Running

      16. (20) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 65, Running

      17. (14) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 65, Running

      18. (22) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 64, Running

      19. (16) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 64, Running

      20. (10) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 63, Contact

      21. (3) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 39, Contact

      22. (6) Luca Filippi, Dallara-Honda, 17, Contact

      23. (12) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 10, Contact

      Race Statistics

      Winner's average speed: 90.370

      Time of Race: 01:15:44.3232

      Margin of victory: 3.3408

      Cautions: 2 for 5 laps

      Lead changes: 3 among 3 drivers

      Lap Leaders: Bourdais 1-33; Castroneves 34; Pagenaud 35-40; Bourdais 41-65.

      Point Standings: Castroneves 512, Power 484, Pagenaud 454, Hunter-Reay 448, Montoya 417, Munoz 371, Dixon 361, Andretti 351, Kanaan 340, Bourdais 336.

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014
    Rookie Elliott claims third Nationwide win
    By The Sports Xchange

    By Jerry Bonkowski

    • NASCAR Wire Service

      Distributed by The Sports Xchange

      JOLIET, Ill. – Third time's a charm. But so was the first and the second.

      Accomplishing feats uncharacteristic for a rookie, Chase Elliott won again Saturday night, leading 85 of 200 laps en route to his third win of the season in the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

      Elliott took the lead for the fourth and final time on Lap 177 and held on for the final 23 laps, winning by 1.7 seconds. The NNS Sunoco Rookie of the Year frontrunner tied Kyle Busch for most wins in the series this season, each with three visits to Victory Lane in the first 19 races.

      "This is an unbelievable night," Elliott said. "We were fortunate enough to be in contention on that last pit stop, the guys busted their butts for me and that was the deciding factor.

      "We all as a team, we completed our task tonight. And that was the difference."

      Trevor Bayne finished second, followed by Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne and Ty Dillon.

      "We got our car turning there at the end," Bayne said. "That's probably the strongest weekend we've had in a while. Had it stayed green for another 15, we might have had it, but that's 15 laps we'll never know about."

      Larson said, "I thought we had a real good car. I had some fun, just frustrating coming in third when I thought we had a real good chance to win."

      As for Dillon, "I've got a feeling that we can keep doing this as the year goes on," he said. "The car was coming to me there at the end."

      In addition to the race winner, Kahne was the second JR Motorsports driver in the top five. It almost didn't happen for Kahne, who had a late brush with the wall that did just enough damage to keep him from making a last-ditch run toward the front.

      Pole-sitter Brian Scott made $100,000 in the Nationwide Insurance Dash 4 Cash for finishing sixth, ahead of fellow D4C competitors Chris Buescher (eighth), Elliott Sadler (10th) and Regan Smith (16th).

      Seventh through 10th were Erik Jones (in his NNS debut), Buescher, Ryan Blaney and Sadler.

      Smith, who was the points leader coming into the race, struggled with a loose car and finished with a disappointing 16th.

      Elliott's win also vaulted him from third to the top of the Nationwide points standings. He now leads Smith by seven points and Sadler by eight.

      A series of green-flag pit stops around Lap 161 shuffled the field with teams hoping they could make it to the finish without it turning into a fuel-mileage race.

      Bayne took the lead on Lap 161 when the leaders made stops for service and held on until he had to come in on Lap 176 for four tires and fuel. Elliott inherited the lead and kept it for the remainder of the race.

      Scott led 20 laps early on before Blaney, Elliott and Larson took their turns ahead of the field.

      Sam Hornish Jr., who started at the back of the field because of unapproved adjustments, quickly worked his way up to the middle of the pack only to have uncharacteristic engine failure in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota that ended his night just eight laps into the event, finishing 36th in the 40-car field.

      "It felt like we were going to have a really good day and felt like this was going to be a race where we had opportunity to lead laps and potentially win," Hornish told ESPN.

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014
    Rain postpones IndyCar race in Toronto
    By The Sports Xchange

    TORONTO -- The IndyCar race never got started Saturday at Exhibition Place.

    • Persistent and consistent rain arrived just as the cars were rolling into position for the start of the Honda Indy Toronto. The field completed 12 laps in two attempts to get going, but the conditions never improved and the green flag never waved.

      The race was called shortly after 6 p.m. ET.

      IndyCar will stage two races Sunday. The morning race will use a starting lineup based on Saturday's qualifying.

      The second race, scheduled for 3:55 p.m., will set its lineup based on entrant points, per the rulebook. Both races will be 65 laps or 80 minutes, whichever comes first.

      Three cars slid off the track during the wet conditions, one involving pace car driver Arie Luyendyk, a former driver who won two Indianapolis 500s. He did not make contact with anything, but Will Power and Ryan Briscoe did.

      Power hit the wall enough to damage his car's left rear suspension, but his team made repairs during the stoppage. Briscoe slid into a tire barrier.

      Qualifying for a street circuit generally isn't that newsworthy, especially when it happens on the morning of the race, but it was Saturday.

      Sebastien Bourdais earned the top spot in IndyCar for the first time since his days as Champ Car's four-time series champion. Bourdais' last pole came Sept. 2, 2007, at the TT Assen circuit in the Netherlands.

      "I've been on pole in sports cars and everything in between, but it's racing and everyone suffers from short-term memory," said the driver with 31 wins in Champ Car but none in the combined open-wheel series. "You have to prove yourself every time you get in the car. I know that it's the way that it is. I don't care. I don't race to prove points to people."

      Power was happy for his Champ Car contemporary.

      "He's getting back to where he should be," he said. "Everyone knows he's a champion."

      The pole allowed Bourdais to tie Michael Andretti for eighth place with 32 career poles.

      Also in qualifying, Simon Pagenaud crashed completing his final lap in the Firestone Fast Six pole-determining session, putting his crew in hurry-up mode just five hours before the race.

      NOTES: Difficult as it is to believe, Marco Andretti has started 145 consecutive IndyCar races, which is tied for eighth all time. Tony Kanaan is the leader at 227 (and counting). ... IndyCar is in the middle of its third and final doubleheader of the season. The format will continue in 2015 even though the drivers think the physical demand on them (and mechanics) is too much. Detroit promoter Bud Denker said he's seen Saturday attendance at that event increase by 20 percent and overall sponsorship jump 12 percent. ... This Toronto event is expected to return next season, but it will move off its traditional date because Exhibition Place will host the Pan American Games.

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014
    Four drivers prepare for dash to cash in
    By The Sports Xchange

    NASCAR Wire Service

    • Distributed by The Sports Xchange

      This is no joke.

      Listen to NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers talk about the intense desire to win the Dash 4 Cash. It's not lip service. There's some serious green on the line.

      Consider this: Regan Smith took home $100,000 last Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the first of four rounds in the Nationwide Dash 4 Cash. The race winner has won more than $100,000 in just one race this season -- the season opener at Daytona (which, coincidentally, was won by Smith).

      So this is a big deal. On the final lap Saturday night at Chicagoland Speedway (8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2), there could be fireworks. You don't get a chance at 100 grand every race.

      Smith and the top-three finishing NASCAR Nationwide Series championship contenders in last weekend's race at New Hampshire -- Chris Buescher, Elliott Sadler and Brian Scott -- qualified for the second round of the Dash 4 Cash program at Chicagoland. The top finisher among that group will win the $100,000.

      "Chicago should be pretty good for us," said Buescher, a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender. "It is really cool being a part of the Dash 4 Cash program and having the opportunity to put on a show. We had an awesome run at New Hampshire, finished fifth and had some really good pit strategy. Everything worked out in our favor and I am really proud of all of our guys.

      "I am hoping that we can keep the momentum rolling in our Ford EcoBoost Mustang and not only get the Nationwide Dash 4 Cash, but capture another top five or possibly a win at Chicagoland."

      Among this round's qualifiers, Sadler and Scott have enjoyed the most success at Chicago. Sadler, who calls Chicagoland one of his favorite tracks (and cities), has made nine starts there, posting one win (2012), four top 10s and an average finish of 15.6.

      "Chicagoland has always been one of my favorite stops on our Nationwide Series schedule," Sadler said. "Not only do I enjoy racing at Chicago, I also strongly enjoy the city entertainment too. For the past couple years, I've traveled out to Chicago early with family and friends to enjoy the festivities the city has to offer.

      "After the fun is over with the family and friends, the goal will be to lock down a great qualifying position, secure a strong finish, capture the points lead and win the Dash 4 Cash."

      Scott has made seven series starts at Chicago, posting three top 10s, his first career Coors Light pole and an average finish of 9.8 -- the second-best average finish among active drivers.

      "Chicago has been a good racetrack for me in the Nationwide Series," Scott said. "I'm always excited when we go there. I'm disappointed with how we performed in Chicago last year (he finished 11th and 14th in the series' two Chicagoland Speedway stops).

      "Chicago is one of my better 1.5-mile tracks and we have a package now at RCR where I feel like when we go back, I think we'll be really strong and really stout. It's one of my favorite racetracks."

      The highest finisher of the four eligible drivers at Chicago will win the money and automatically qualify for the Dash 4 Cash at Indianapolis the following weekend. The next three highest finishing Nationwide Series regulars at Chicago not already qualified will also get to compete for the $100,000 bonus at Indianapolis (July 26). The final event at Iowa Speedway (Aug. 2) will carry the same qualifying requirements.

      If Smith can win the next two legs of the Dash 4 Cash and the Iowa race outright, Nationwide Insurance will award him an extra $600,000 -- totaling $1 million.

      "Now we have another shot at it again at Chicago," Smith said. "It’s a really cool program that Nationwide has put together, and everyone wants to be part of it. I'm grateful to be one of the four competing again."

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014
    NASCAR Next drivers take center stage
    By The Sports Xchange

    What do Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Dylan Kwasniewski have in common with the likes of Kenzie Ruston, Brandon McReynolds and Ryan Gifford?

    • They've all been members of the NASCAR Next program that helps promote young drivers in NASCAR's national and touring series. Larson, Elliott and Kwasniewski used it as a springboard to bigger and better endeavors in stock cars, while the likes of Ruston, McReynolds and Gifford are part of a talented 2014 NASCAR Next class that hopes to do the same.

      The 2014 class gathered Wednesday at the GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, North Carolina, for a day of fellowship, meeting and talking with the media – and racing go-karts against each other and the media in a friendly, yet competitive environment.

      This year's Next class includes not only Ruston, McReynolds and Gifford, but also rising stars such as recent NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner Erik Jones, Cole Custer, Ruben Garcia Jr., Gray Gaulding, Austin Hill, Jesse Little, Dylan Lupton, Ryan Preece and Ben Rhodes, who has won five K&N Pro Series East races this season overall, including four in a row.

      "It's very humbling that they even picked me to be in the program, to tell you the truth," said Ruston, 22, the only woman in the group. "When you look at how much success Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott and Dylan Kwasniewski have had, and how many other people have been in this program and gone on to be very successful, I just think it's very cool to be able to be a part of it. I just hope that one day I can be a respected alumni of this program like they all are. This program has definitely helped my career a lot over the last two years."

      Ruston finished sixth in last year's K&N Pro Series East standings and has scored top-five finishes this season at Five Flags and Langley. The native of Reno, Okla., has the highest finish – both in a race and in the championship standings – for a female driver in K&N Pro Series East history.

      McReynolds, the son of former championship crew chief Larry McReynolds who is now a respected NASCAR television analyst, said that the Next program helps young drivers develop in a number of ways.

      "The Next program, with Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson and Dylan Kwasniewski and Corey Lajoie having gone through it and gone on to become so successful at whatever they're doing, I think NASCAR likes to point that out. ... To be part of that Next group is humbling," said McReynolds, who has starts in four different NASCAR series and presently is third in the K&N Pro Series West standings. "I think this group we've got now, they're all good race-car drivers and they're good at speaking with the media and representing sponsors – and those are the tools that NASCAR Next lets you try to build on, so you'll be successful at the next level."

      Now in its third year, the program features 12 drivers actively competing in a NASCAR touring or weekly series selected through an evaluation process that included input from industry executives and veteran racers. Its goal is to spotlight a group of young competitors who will resemble the "face" of NASCAR into the next decade. They represent diverse backgrounds and each has a unique story to tell – as well as the talent worthy of a being a NASCAR Next selection.

      The 2014 participants range in age from 16 (Custer and Gaulding) to 25, making Gifford the "old guy" of the bunch. Gaulding joked that he recently had to go through a driver's education class to get his regular driver's license.

      "Yeah, it was kind of weird," said Gaulding, who is the youngest pole winner in both the K&N Pro Series East and the K&N Pro Series West, and is competing in select Camping World Truck Series races this season. "Here I am going 180 (miles per hour) on weekends, and then during the week I had to sit through a driver's ed class. It was OK, though. I read through the book – and I had a pretty girl sit beside me, too, while I was doing it."

      If you get the idea that the members of the 2014 NASCAR Next class enjoy being around each other, that would be correct. Gifford, also a member of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program who is in his second year as part of the NASCAR Next program, said it has been a great experience that he believes will help him in many ways as he attempts to forge a career in the sport going forward.

      "It's been fun. I've had a lot of opportunity to meet great people and make great friendships," said Gifford, who has won at Richmond in the K&N Pro Series East and also driven in the Nationwide Series. "A lot of times when we're at the race track, we don't get to talk. We're so busy focused on what we're trying to do and trying to win races that we don't really have time to talk or hang out.

      "This gives us an opportunity to hang out and be friends outside the race track. Then we go race hard against each other when we get there. To work as hard as you have to in this sport to even get to this level, it's nice to be recognized like this. It's nice to be recognized in a group that has included guys like Kyle (Larson) and Darrell (Wallace Jr.). That's really cool."

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014
    NASCAR Driver Capsules, July 16
    By The Sports Xchange

    Capsules for the top 20 drivers in the Sprint Cup standings, plus five additional drivers of note.

    • By Jerry Bonkowski and Bob Moore

      24 JEFF GORDON, Chevrolet

      Team: Hendrick Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: Jeff Gordon remained in first place for the sixth consecutive week after New Hampshire and for 12 of the last 13 weeks. Gordon leads second-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. by just 12 points (was 27 points last week).

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 20 career starts, 4 wins, 11 top-5s, 16 top-10s, 3 poles. Best career finish: First in 1994, 1998, 2001 and 2004. Finished seventh in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Gordon is still looking for his second win of the season, and is also looking for his first win at Indy since 2001. "Yeah, every time it's something special when you go to Indianapolis," Gordon said. "It's just such a cool place, so much history, and obviously a lot of great memories for me and confidence. As a driver when I go there, of course it takes a great car and a great team to win that race, but it seems like most years that we've been there, we've had a car that's capable of winning. With the type of season that we're having, I'm extremely excited about going to Indianapolis. I think that the way that our cars are performing, the way our engines are performing, Indianapolis is a track that we certainly can win at. It's hard to believe it's been 20 years, but looking forward to celebrating those 20 years hopefully with another win."

      LOOKING BACK: Gordon led 19 laps at New Hampshire, but his car faded and he eventually wound up with a disappointing 26th-place finish, the last car on the lead lap.

      ETC.: Gordon has completed 96.2 percent (3,079) of the 3,201 total laps contested in 20 career starts at Indianapolis. His average start there is 12.2 and average finish is an outstanding 8.8. He has one DNF there.

      88 DALE EARNHARDT JR., Chevrolet

      Team: Hendrick Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: Former points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. remained in second place for the second week. Earnhardt trails points leader and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon by 27 points and is 24 points ahead of third-ranked Brad Keselowski.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 14 career starts, 0 wins, 1 top-5s, 4 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Fourth in 2012. Finished sixth in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Earnhardt has never won at Indianapolis, but he's coming off his two best showings there in 2012 (fourth) and last year (sixth, tying his earlier previous best in 2006).

      LOOKING BACK: Earnhardt had a decent run and finished 10th at New Hampshire. Although after the race, he complained about how he and his team should have finished higher than they did. "I think we worked real hard to finish where we finished," Earnhardt said after the race. "The guys worked their guts out every practice. We changed a lot of stuff on the car. It was real disappointing not to have the speed a lot of those other guys had. The No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) and the Gibbs guys they were all real fast. Hats off to them because they surely got their cars figured out. It's just real frustrating all day long to be playing second fiddle. We worked really hard all day to finish 10th. Pretty disappointing we will go home and work on it and try to do better."

      ETC.: Earnhardt has completed 93.0 percent (2,084 laps) of the 2,241 total laps contested in 14 career starts at Indianapolis. His average start there is 16.9 and average finish is 19.3. He has three DNFs there.

      2 BRAD KESELOWSKI, Ford

      Team: Penske Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: After two weeks in fourth place, Brad Keselowski moved up to third place after New Hampshire. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 36 points (was 65 points prior to Loudon), is 24 points behind second-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. and leads fourth-ranked Matt Kenseth by 13 points.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: Four career starts, 0 wins, 0 top-5s, 2 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Ninth in 2011 and 2012. Finished 21st in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Keselowski is looking for his first top-five, if not his first win, at the legendary Brickyard. He's also looking for his second straight win after his triumph this past Sunday at New Hampshire (and third win in the last four races).

      LOOKING BACK: After finishing 18th at Daytona, Keselowski bounced back to earn his second win in three races, adding New Hampshire to his win three weeks ago at Kentucky. "Where do I start? The team was just really on it today," Keselowski said after the race. "It really feels like we've hit our stride, and I'm kind of quiet and somber because I want to soak it all in. I don't want this moment to go away so quick. It seems like you get in Victory Lane and you're rushed around left and right you don't really get a chance to soak it in. This was just such a phenomenal weekend, and these don't happen that often, and that's what makes it special. You try to appreciate them and enjoy them and hope that there's more but not count on it, because these are big deals, winning races at the Sprint Cup level - sweeping a weekend, and it's all possible because of the hard work and effort from everyone at Team Penske. I can drive the heck out of a car, but you can only do so much. You've got to have a good horse, and we had that today. I'm just really, really thankful and happy with the form we have."

      ETC.: Keselowski has completed a perfect 100 percent (640) of the 640 total laps contested in four career starts at Indianapolis. His average start is 12.5 and his average finish is 14.5. He has zero DNFs there.

      20 MATT KENSETH, Toyota

      Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: After two weeks in fifth-place, Matt Kenseth moved up to fourth-place after Loudon. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 49 points (after being 71 points behind prior to Loudon), is 13 points behind third-ranked Brad Keselowski and leads fifth-ranked Jimmie Johnson by 23 points.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 14 career starts, 0 wins, 6 top-5s, 8 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Second in 2003 and 2006. Finished fifth in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Kenseth is still looking for his first win of the season - not to mention his first career win at Indianapolis.

      LOOKING BACK: Kenseth led 12 laps at New Hampshire and finished fourth. "Green-white-checkers on 80 lap tires are always exciting," Kenseth said. "I got a good move in (turns) one and two and got a couple of those there and Kyle (Larson) and I got racing. I had a good run off of (turn) two and was going to try to go in the corner and use him up as much as I could -- and he got up in the third groove and grabbed that sticky stuff and raced it off the corner. So, we both raced as hard as we could there without wrecking. That was fun, except for him beating me -- that part was no good. The rest was fun. Overall, it was a good day. ... I feel like we're definitely moving in the right direction."

      ETC.: Kenseth has completed just 90.9 percent (2,038) of the 2,241 total laps contested in 14 career starts at Indianapolis. His average start is 19.2 and his average finish is 15.1. He has two DNFs there.

      48 JIMMIE JOHNSON, Chevrolet

      Team: Hendrick Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: After dropping from second to third after Daytona, Jimmie Johnson dropped two more spots to fifth place after New Hampshire. He trails points leader and teammate Jeff Gordon by 72 points (was 55 before Loudon), is 23 points behind fourth-ranked Matt Kenseth and leads sixth-ranked Carl Edwards by 24 points.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 12 career starts, 4 wins, 5 top-5s, 6 top-10s, 1 pole. Best career finish: First in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012. Finished second in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: After coming up one spot short in last year's race, Johnson looks to once again become the winningest NASCAR driver at Indianapolis - he and teammate Jeff Gordon are tied among all drivers with four wins each.

      LOOKING BACK: Johnson completed just 11 laps before he was involved in a race-ending wreck, resulting in his second consecutive 42nd-place finish of the season, first at Daytona the week before and then at Loudon. "The first one (tire issue he had just a few laps into the race), I was able to drive the car all the way through Turns 1 and 2. I knew I had a flat and then got down the back and came in. The other one just blew on the straight as soon as I hit the brakes. I'm not sure what caused it. I'm sure there will be a lot of speculation and I'm sure finger pointing back to the teams or our team. But we saw some issues here especially with that particular tire the last couple of days. We will try to dig in and learn more, but I can promise you one thing is wasn't low tire pressure. I've been out here for two days running around and haven't had a flat."

      ETC.: Johnson has completed 90.1 percent (1,731) of 1,921 total laps in 12 career starts at Indianapolis. Even with four wins there, his average start is 12.6 and his average finish is 15.6. He also has three DNFs there.

      99 CARL EDWARDS, Ford

      Team: Roush Fenway Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: Carl Edwards climbed one spot, from seventh to sixth, after New Hampshire. He is now 96 points behind series leader Jeff Gordon (was 108 points back prior to Loudon), is 24 points behind fifth-ranked Jimmie Johnson and leads seventh-ranked Ryan Newman by one point.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: Nine career starts, 0 win, 1 top-5, 3 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Second in 2008. Finished 13th in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Edwards will be making the 10th career start of his Sprint Cup career next Sunday at Indianapolis and is still in search of his first career win there (and his second career top-five, for that matter).

      LOOKING BACK: Edwards had a relatively uneventful race at New Hampshire, finishing 13th.

      ETC.: Even though he has never won a Sprint Cup race there, Edwards has completed an almost perfect 99.7 percent (1,436) of 1,440 total laps contested in nine career starts at Indianapolis. His average start there is 19.9 and his average finish is 13.2. He has zero DNFs there.

      31 RYAN NEWMAN, Chevrolet

      Team: Richard Childress Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: After three straight weeks in eighth place, Ryan Newman moved up one spot to seventh after New Hampshire. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 97 points (was 117 points behind before Loudon), is one point behind sixth-ranked Carl Edwards and leads eighth-ranked Kyle Busch by six points.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 13 career starts, 1 wins, 2 top-5, 3 top-10, 1 pole. Best career finish: First in 2013. Finished first in this race last year (after starting from the pole).

      LOOKING AHEAD: Newman hopes to win a second straight Brickyard 400 on July 27. His win in last year's race all but equaled Newman's Daytona 500 victory several years ago, with significant importance due to being an Indiana native.

      LOOKING BACK: Newman had a good, strong run at Loudon, which is one of his favorite tracks regardless, finishing fifth. "We just finally got to where we should have been running all day in the last little bit there," Newman said after the race. "Good run for the Caterpillar Chevrolet team. The guys did a good job today. Thank all the fans for coming out. I enjoyed the modified races as well as this Cup race. We had a really good long run car we just never got the track position we needed to really show it. The longer runs there at the end paid off and that restart was obviously to our advantage."

      ETC.: Newman has completed 92.8 percent (1,931) of the 2,081 total laps contested in 13 career starts at Indianapolis. His average start there is an outstanding 7.4 and his average finish is 17.7. He has two DNFs there.

      18 KYLE BUSCH, Toyota

      Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: After climbing from 10th to ninth after Daytona, Kyle Busch jumped up one more spot to eighth after New Hampshire. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 103 points (was 127 points back prior to Loudon), is six points behind seventh-ranked Ryan Newman and leads ninth-ranked Joey Logano by 16 points.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 9 career starts, 0 wins, 2 top-5s, 7 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Second in 2012. Finished 10th in this race last season.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Busch makes his 10th career start next week at Indianapolis and is still in pursuit of his first Sprint Cup win there.

      LOOKING BACK: Busch gave it everything he had but came up short to Brad Keselowski at New Hampshire, finishing a close second. "The guys did a great job today," Busch said after the race. "This Interstate Batteries Camry was good. Should have been anywhere from fourth to sixth, but we made a gutsy call there at the end to stay out and see if we can make it on fuel -- barely made it, ran out right at the start-finish. Couldn't have timed it more perfect. That was good. Solid effort for our team. We still know we got a little bit of work to do trying to get better and be able to catch up with some of our other competitors. All in all, a decent day to be coming home second for our Interstate Batteries Camry."

      ETC.: Busch has completed 96.7 percent (1,392 laps) of the 1,440 total laps contested in nine career starts at Indianapolis. His average start there is a mediocre 20.9, but has a much-better average finish of 11.6. He has zero DNFs there.

      22 JOEY LOGANO, Ford

      Team: Penske Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: After moving up to sixth following Daytona, Joey Logano dropped three spots to ninth after New Hampshire. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 119 points, is 16 points behind eighth-ranked Kyle Busch and leads 10th-ranked Clint Bowyer by three points.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 5 career starts, 0 wins, 0 top-5s, 2 top-10, 0 poles. Best career finish: Eighth in 2013. Finished eighth in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Logano bounced back after two straight poor performances to finish eighth at Indianapolis last season. He's definitely looking for his first career top-five at the fabled Brickyard, if not his first win there next weekend.

      LOOKING BACK: Logano was involved in a wreck with Morgan Shepherd on Lap 211 of Sunday's race at New Hampshire, ultimately finishing 40th (Shepherd, ironically, wound up 39th in the final order). "I got taken out by the slowest car out there," Logano said after the race. "You would think there would be some courtesy to the leaders. We were in second place. (Shepard) gets out of the way on the straightaway and then goes into the corner and slides right up into the lane I was in. We were doing a good job after having a left rear flat in practice and having to go to a backup car. We were out there running second. I can't get too mad at ourselves over this...I feel like that should be stuff that shouldn't happen at this level of racing. It's just too bad because I feel like we were a second-place car. We were the second best. We didn't have anything for Brad. But it would have been nice to get a 1-2 Team Penske finish. I feel like we have missed out on that three or four times this year."

      ETC.: Logano has completed 98.0 percent (784 laps) of the 800 laps contested in five career starts at Indianapolis. His average start there is 17.2 and average finish is a nearly identical 17.4. He has zero DNFs there.

      15 CLINT BOWYER, Toyota

      Team: Michael Waltrip Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: Clint Bowyer climbed two spots in the standings, from 12th to 10th after New Hampshire. He trails points leader Jeff Gordon by 122 points, is three points behind ninth-ranked Joey Logano and leads 11th-ranked Paul Menard by seven points.

      INDIANAPOLIS RECORD: 8 career starts, 0 wins, 2 top-5s, 2 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Fourth in 2006 and 2010. Finished 20th in this race last year.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Time is starting to close in on Bowyer to assure himself that he'll make the revamped and expanded Chase for the Sprint Cup. If he can get a win in the next seven races, that likely will be enough to lock in Bowyer into the Chase. But until then, he has to keep working at it. Indianapolis has been particularly arduous for Bowyer. Can he turn things around there next weekend?

      LOOKING BACK: Bowyer had a very strong run at New Hampshire, leading 36 laps before ultimately settling for a still-decent sixth-place finish. "Just frustrating," Bowyer said of his finish after Sunday's race. "Kind of our M.O. This year, nothing goes right. We got into position to get a top-five and a solid run and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) runs out of gas and stacks us all up on the bottom and a bunch of them get around us. We got the consistency down -- we just got to keep gaining on it. We're here to win races for 5-Hour Energy and everybody and all our partners on this Toyota. We're just not quite there yet. We still got some work to do to catch up to the Fords and the Hendrick cars. We're gaining on it. We got the consistency."

      ETC.: Bowyer has completed a perfect 100 percent (1,280 laps) of the 1,280 total laps contested in eight previous career starts at Indianapolis. His average start there is 20.0 and average finish is a significantly better 13.2. He has zero DNFs there.

      27 PAUL MENARD, Chevrolet

      Team: Richard Childress Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 11th, only seven points out of the top 10. Lost one spot to fall out of the top 10 last week. Would make the Chase if the Chase for the Championship began this week.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Menard said, "We're looking forward to the off weekend, but we'll be ready to get back at it in Indy. We won there a couple of years ago, so all of us can't wait to get back there. We are doing everything we can to make the Chase."

      LOOKING BACK: Menard battled a loose-handling race car for most of the day as he finished 19th at New Hampshire. "Loudon is traditionally not very good to us so it's good to come out of it with a decent finish," said Menard. "It's not where we could've been, but we salvaged it there at the end when guys were running out of fuel."

      ETC.: Menard said he really enjoys being around his two teammates - Ryan Newman and rookie Austin Dillon. "It's two new guys (to RCR) and two guys that are very different in their personalities and the way they think," said Menard. "You have Ryan, who is a degreed engineer, been around the sport a long time, a multi-time race winner and a Chase guy every year. And then we have Austin, who is this young and enthusiastic guy and full of energy. I feel like we all have the same interests, we can talk about racing, talk about hunting, talk about just being outside or doing something totally different, spend time together doing that and get to know each other a lot better."

      11 DENNY HAMLIN, Toyota

      Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 12th, 18 points out of the top 10. Gained two spots last week. Will make the Chase as a result of his Talladega win.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Hamlin said he will "enjoy the weekend off, but it is the road crew and the guys back at the shop that really need this weekend off. We get so few weekends off, and they work so hard. It will just be nice for them to get a couple of days off."

      LOOKING BACK: Hamlin led twice for 20 laps and was running second when a late-race caution flag forced him to pit for fuel. The crew decided to change all four tires, and that decision helped Hamlin rally in the final two laps to finish eighth at Loudon. "It's a tough finish to swallow, for sure," said a frustrated Hamlin. "We adjusted our car throughout the day and got it pretty good on that last run. I got up to second and within five car lengths of the 2 (Brad Keselowski) before I was told I had to save more fuel. The last caution was pretty unlucky for us, because we were going to finish second, but we still rallied from 16th to eighth in two laps at the end."

      ETC.: Hamlin is involved with a lot of charities, but the one that is the "most personal" is cystic fibrosis because of his cousin. "He's kind of going through a tough time," said Hamlin. "It's tough for any family that has cystic fibrosis and I've met a lot of kids that have it and they live at the hospital a lot. It's tough to be in that situation. I'm very fortunate to be partnered with the people I'm partnered with because FedEx really allows me the liberty to be out there and help promote these great organizations. It makes me feel really good when I'm able to go out there and have a sponsor that supports that."

      4 KEVIN HARVICK, Chevrolet

      Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 13th, 20 points out of the top 10. Lost two spots last week. Will make the Chase because of his two wins so far in 2014.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Harvick is looking forward to spending the week off with his family. "They are usually at the track with me," said Harvick, "but there is just something different when you can get away by yourself with your family. It will be a fun time."

      LOOKING BACK: The gamble to try and run the final 82 laps on one tank of fuel backfired for Harvick when a caution flag was waved with two laps to go sending the race in overtime. Harvick was second when the green flag waved for the green-white-checkered flag finish. But he immediately ran out of gas as he ended the day in 30th place. "We would have been in great shape if the race had gone the regular distance (301 laps), but those extra four laps killed us," said Harvick. "That last caution really, really hurt."

      ETC.: Harvick has nothing but high praise for crew chief Rodney Childers when it comes to putting together the 4 team. "He recruited every single person on this team," said Harvick. "They all came for the same reasons. They all want to win races. They all want to win and race for championships and when you put that kind of people together with that determination everybody pushes everybody else."

      42 KYLE LARSON, Chevrolet

      Team: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

      WHERE HE STANDS: 14th, 24 points out of the top 10. Gained three spots last week. Would make the Chase if the Chase for the Championship began this week.

      LOOKING AHEAD: As a new and first-time home owner and an expectant father, Larson had a lot on his plate as he heads in the last off week of the season. "I much prefer racing, but we have a lot of things we need to do while we are off," said Larson. "I'm sure having a blast right now driving these Target Chevrolets. I want to thank Chip (Ganassi, car owner) and everybody at the shop. These race cars have been a lot faster this year than they have in the past. Just really want to thank those guys."

      LOOKING BACK: Larson was running 16th when a caution flag fell on lap 113 of the 301-lap race at Loudon. Crew chief Chris Heroy decided to gamble by telling Larson not to pit. "It was a bold call by Shine to get us some track position and it really paid off," said Larson, who ran in the top 10 for the rest of the day before ending the race in the third spot. "We talked about it in our team meeting - that it is going to take a really dumb call, or what would look dumb, but hopefully work out. It did. We got to lead some laps (13) and maintained our track position all race long after that. Great pit calls by Shine. The Target Chevy was really good. The last restart worked out for us (as he jumped from sixth to third). All in all, a really good day."

      ETC.: Three straight finishes of 28th or worse had dropped Larson from eighth to 17th in the point standings, and more importantly, dropped him out of a spot in the Chase. "It's been a rough three weeks," said Larson. "We were really good (three top-five finishes and seven top-10's in the first 15 races) and then we had two DNF's (did not finish) and then a bad race at Sonoma. That is why this (the top-five finish at Loudon) is so important. To get back up in the points. To get back where we are in the Chase. This is what we needed as we head into the off week."

      3 AUSTIN DILLON, Chevrolet

      Team: Richard Childress Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 15th. Lost two spots last week. Tied with fellow rookie Kyle Larson in the point standings, but because Larson has more top-five finishes Dillon is on the outside looking in when it comes to making the Chase if the Chase for the Championship began this week.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Dillon knows the team needs the week off, but he kind of wishes "we would be racing this weekend. We want to make the Chase, and we are so close to doing that. But the guys that go on the road each week and the guys back at the shop need some time off. This is their last weekend off for the rest of the season."

      LOOKING BACK: Dillon rallied in the final 50 laps to finish 14th at Loudon. "To finish 14th is quite an accomplishment after the day we had in the Dow Chevrolet," said Dillon. "The car really reacted well once the sun came out, and we seemed to perform better on four tires versus two tires all day long. We were able to take advantage of the green-white-checker restart at the end, too and gain some positions."

      ETC.: Since his grandfather Richard Childress started RCR, Dillon feels a little extra responsibility to everyone that is part of the organization. "I've grown up with those guys, know how much heart and soul they put in the race cars," said Dillon. "I said it at our kickoff lunch. We have a great house at RCR. When I cross the bridge (that leads to the facility), that's our house. When we get to the track, my job and our teams' jobs are to represent our house. That's what we try and do every time we bring our stuff to the race track."

      16 GREG BIFFLE, Ford

      Team: Roush Fenway Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 16th, only five points out of a spot in the Chase. Lost one spot last week.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Biffle said he is "just going to get away for a few days" during the upcoming off weekend. "Everyone at Roush Fenway has been working hard to get better, but they also need a break and this is the last weekend to get away," said Biffle. "So it will be nice for everyone in the organization to get a couple of days off before we start the big push for the Chase."

      LOOKING BACK: After hitting the wall early in the race, Biffle struggled with an ill-handling race car for most of the first half of the race. But he rallied in the second half to finish 15th at Loudon. "We battled really hard today to come away with a 15th-place finish," said Biffle. "I'm proud of the guys. My crew didn't give up and we were able to make the most of it today. We stayed in the hunt (for a place in the Chase for the Championship)."

      ETC.: Doug Yates, the chief executive officer for Roush Yates Engines, said his organization is "really pushing hard to get Greg Biffle a win, along with Marcos Ambrose and Ricky Stenhouse. I applaud NASCAR because this new format is doing exactly what it's supposed to do. It's supposed to have some wildcards and really make it exciting, but as far as breaking the season down we're really focused on the Chase and what we have to do as an engine company to give our teams what they need to win this championship."

      5 KASEY KAHNE, Chevrolet

      Team: Hendrick Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: 17th, only nine points out of a spot in the Chase. Gained one spot last week.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Kahne does not have an off week as he will race in the Nationwide Series event at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday night. He will drive the number 5 Great Clips Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. In Kahne's last Nationwide start, he edged teammate Regan Smith by 0.021 seconds for the win in the Firecracker 250 at Daytona.

      LOOKING BACK: After running in and just outside the top 10 all day, Kahne ended the day in 11th place. "We had stretches where we were pretty good, and then we had stretches where we were real tight," said Kahne. "We had a top-10 car, but things got a little crazy on that green-white-checkered deal and we just missed getting us another top 10. We needed another lap or two and we would have been two or three spots better."

      ETC.: As the Sprint Cup Series takes its last week off this season, Kahne is still on the outside looking in when it comes to being part of this year's Chase for the Championship. But he is still very confident that come September he will be in the hunt for the championship. "We aren't that far out points wise, and we feel we have some real chances to win a race between now and Richmond," said Kahne.

      55 BRIAN VICKERS, Toyota

      Team: Michael Waltrip Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 18th, 17 points out of a spot in the Chase. Lost two spots last week.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Vickers plans to spend the off week "just relaxing. There are several things we might do," adds Vickers. "We just want to get away for a few days and relax. I know we are going to enjoy the time off, and I know the team is going to do the same."

      LOOKING BACK: After winning the July race a year ago at Loudon, Vickers had high hopes for the weekend. But he struggled most of the race as he ended up 21st. "We were just struggling with being too tight and with track position all day," said Vickers. "I felt like we always restarted in the wrong lane. It just wasn't our day."

      ETC.: Blake Haugland, the rear tire carrier for Vickers' pit crew, is in training for the Ironman Triathlon in Cozumel, Mexico on Nov. 30. And while the team was in the San Francisco area for the race at Sonoma last month, Haugland competed in the "Touch Alcatraz 'n' Go swim as part of his training. "I have friends who've done that swim, and they had already kind of prepped me and told me about it," said Haugland. "It's about six-to-eight-foot circular swells, like water swirling down a drain. It was definitely challenging. I've been in triathlons for a little over two years, now, primarily just up to the half-Ironman distance. I've done a little over a half-dozen of those."

      14 TONY STEWART, Chevrolet

      Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 19th, 22 points out of a spot in the Chase. Gained one spot last week.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Stewart is not one to sit at home, but he does plan to "relax a little" during the off weekend. He also will spend some time with his sprint car team as well as heading to Eldora Speedway to see how work is coming for the upcoming Camping World Truck Series race at his dirt track.

      LOOKING BACK: It was an up and down day for Stewart at Loudon. After starting fourth, Stewart ran well early before his car got real tight as he started sliding back through the field. He was 19th with 50 laps to go before rallying to finish seventh. "We went from holding our own at the beginning of the race to getting beat up out there," said Stewart. "Finally, we just made a big change to get the front end of the car to bite. We honestly didn't know how well it would work, but it beat running 20th. We were able to drive back toward the front and salvaged a decent finish."

      ETC.: Stewart hopes he has had all his bad luck at Indy already this year and that when he goes back next week he will be in contention for a third win in the Brickyard 400. During a tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month, Stewart blew a tire and crashed hard. "It destroyed the car, so it was a good hit," said Stewart, who is winless in 2014.

      9 MARCOS AMBROSE, Ford

      Team: Richard Petty Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: 20th, 35 points out of a spot in the Chase. Lost one spot last week.

      LOOKING AHEAD: After a very frustrating afternoon at Loudon, Ambrose is glad there is no race this weekend. "It will be good to have a week off," said Ambrose. "The crew had been working really hard and need a few days off. It will be good to just get away for a few days for all of us. That will help us get ready for this stretch run to make the Chase."

      LOOKING BACK: Ambrose struggled all day with a "very tight" race car and finished a disappointing 27th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. "You are going to have races like this," said Ambrose. "We are all in this together and today was tough for everyone. The car didn't handle well and we could never get our lap back. When you can't get back on the lead lap it really kills any strategy for track position. It just wasn't our day."

      ETC.: After seeing teammate Aric Almirola win at Daytona and earn a spot in the Chase, Ambrose feels good about his chances of doing the same. "We have seen that our organization can do that (win a race), and that's our most secure way to get into the Chase," said Ambrose. "We have a lot of good tracks coming up for us, and I think we'll compete for the win. We can continue to gain points by having good finishes, and that's important too. Each week is a chance to get closer in points."

      1 JAMIE MCMURRAY, Chevrolet

      Team: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

      WHERE HE STANDS: 21st, 49 points out of a spot in the Chase. Gained one spot last week.

      LOOKING AHEAD: McMurray feels the week off will be good for everyone on the team. "We continue to have fast race cars every week," said McMurray. "We just need to have some breaks fall our way. Hopefully the week off will put an end to all of the things that have happened to us.

      LOOKING BACK: After running in the top 10 for the first 215 laps, McMurray lost valuable track position when numerous teams gambled on fuel strategy in the waning laps of the New Hampshire race. As a result, McMurray ended the day in 16th place. "A tough day for our McDonald's team," said McMurray. "We had a top-10 car all day and our guys worked really hard all weekend to give me a strong car. The caution flag flew at the wrong time for us on a couple of occasions in the race and it hurt our track position. My car would not get going very well on restarts and track position is critical at a place like Loudon."

      ETC.: McMurray will appear in the BBC America original docu-series, "Idris Elba: King of Speed." The series will premier in the United States on Monday, July 14 at 10 p.m. (EDT). In this episode, McMurray and NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace will introduce Elba to life at the track at Watkins Glen International. "I had a lot of fun doing that," said McMurray.

      43 ARIC ALMIROLA, Ford

      Team: Richard Petty Motorsports

      WHERE HE STANDS: 22nd. Will make the Chase because of his Daytona win earlier this month.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Almirola knows the team needs to be a lot better when the series returns to New Hampshire in September for the second race in the Chase. "We'll have to regroup for this race in September," said Almirola. "For now, we'll take this off week to get some much needed relaxation and hope to hit the ground running in Indy."

      LOOKING BACK: The weekend didn't begin well for Almirola as left-rear tire problems sent him crashing hard into the outside wall during practice on Saturday. This forced the team to go to a back-up car and for Almirola to start last on Sunday. Almirola rallied to finish 23rd. "That was surely not the weekend we hoped for," said Almirola. "Coming off a win, we hoped to use momentum to score a good finish. We were really loose (in the race), and it felt like the rear end wasn't getting any drive through the corner."

      ETC.: Now that he has won his first Sprint Cup race, Almirola wants to add to that total "as quickly as we can. We just have to figure out what we need to go that next step and get in the top-10 regularly and run in the top-five, so we can compete for wins (on a weekly basis)."

      78 MARTIN TRUEX, JR., Chevrolet

      Team: Furniture Row Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 23rd, 78 points out of a spot in the Chase. Gained two spots last week.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Truex hopes the off weekend will put an end to what has been a rough start to the 2014 season, his first with Furniture Row Racing. "It's been a really tough season," said Truex. "It's been a lot of tough luck and lot of things that just keep happening. You wonder what's going to happen next. We're definitely nowhere near a 25th-place team. The guys are staying positive and that's been a good thing."

      LOOKING BACK: Truex picked up 10 spots in the final two laps to finish 12th at Loudon. "The biggest reason we gained all those positions on the final restart is that we had fresh tires and got in the right lane," said Truex. "That was a good call to come in for two tires during that last caution." Crew chief Todd Berrier was quick to praise Truex for turning what had been a "disappointing day into a good one. Restarts didn't go our way until the end when Martin passed all those cars," added Berrier.

      ETC.: Because of the slow start to the year, Truex realizes his only chance at making the Chase is by winning a race. "There are seven races left before the Chase begins," said Truex. "We've got to find a way to win one of them. I think we can do that. The car has been getting faster. We just have to finish races."

      41 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet

      Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 25th. Gained one spot last week. Will make the Chase because of his Martinsville win.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Busch is like most everyone else in the garage area. He is looking forward to a "little time off. It just will be nice to get away for a few days and not worry about how you can get better."

      LOOKING BACK: Busch battled an ill-handling race car for most of the day as he finished 17th at Loudon. "We lacked front grip and we were extremely tight," said Busch. "We kept making a lot of adjustments and we got it a little better. But we still weren't where we needed to be. It was just one of those days."

      ETC.: Busch believes it is very important to "evaluate each weekend based on your successes or failures. You can't get too wrapped up in the end result. If you ran poorly and you steal something at the end, then maybe you did something that worked out, but, at the end of the day, you still ran poorly, and you need to figure out why you did. If you ran well and get taken out or something breaks that isn't in your control or whatever, then you look at that. Then you say, 'What did we do right' and 'How did we do in failure mode. What can we do to prevent that from happening in the future?' We look at each weekend to evaluate what we do well, what we need to work on and how do we improve on those things."

      47 A J ALLMENDINGER, Chevrolet

      Team: JTG Daugherty Racing

      WHERE HE STANDS: 26th, 84 points out of a spot in the Chase. Lost two spots last week.

      LOOKING AHEAD: Allmendinger feels the off weekend is just what the team needs. "We'll hit the reset button and start fresh at Indy," said Allmendinger. "The last few weeks have been tough on us, and we need a break. We've got some work to do, but the off weekend will allow the crew to catch their breath and get ready for this very important stretch."

      LOOKING BACK: Allmendinger finished 18th at Loudon. "I was okay on long runs and restarts, but it was just so bad loose that guys would just run right through me and we would lose track position," said Allmendinger. "We didn't give up and we fought hard. We had damage to the right-front of the car and I'm sure that had something to do with it. We're better than where finished."

      ETC.: Allmendinger said he is not a big fan of "going home again." Allmendinger laughs as he points "I hated high school, so I definitely don't go back to high school (in Los Gatos, Calif.). My goal of high school was just getting through it. I wouldn't even say I roll through my old town. Nobody really knows me, and that is the way I like it. I sneak in under the radar, and nobody really knows me, that is my happiest moment. I actually don't get back much. I am fortunate that my parents come to a lot of races. They still live in Hollister (Calif.), and they come to at least 10 or 12 races. I only come back really for Christmas."

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014
    Winless Dixon excited to see Toronto
    By The Sports Xchange

    TORONTO -- Who wants to win this Verizon IndyCar Series championship?

    • The road to finding out begins this weekend in Toronto where the last of the season's three doubleheaders is held (3:30 p.m. ET, Saturday and Sunday, NBCSN).

      Scott Dixon of Ganassi Racing won both races last year, part of a 74-point swing that pushed him ahead of Team Penske's Helio Castroneves for the title.

      There's been no such consistency this year for Dixon, Castroneves or anyone else for that matter. Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport had three disastrous finishes in succession after winning the Indianapolis 500, and he retired early from the recent double-points-paying race at Pocono Raceway earlier this month, yet he finds himself only 32 points out of the lead with six races left.

      Castroneves enters the Toronto weekend with a nine-point lead over teammate Will Power. Both are seeking their first IndyCar title, but both have failed to capitalize on their advantage over the field in recent weeks. They were eighth and 14th in last week's race at Iowa Speedway, with Power scrubbing the wall in the final laps.

      Simon Pagenaud is the most prized free-agent-to-be in the sport, but he's gone up and down like a yo-yo in recent events. In Houston's doubleheader last month, for example, he finished 16th of 23 drivers in the first race and won the second. He's 50 points out of the lead, most of which can be erased in a single race.

      Former NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya is fifth in his return to IndyCar, but he followed his win at Pocono with a crash at Iowa. He's still within reach of what would be his second series title in the past 15 years (he won CART's title in 1999), but a lot has to go right for the Colombian to make up 66 points.

      The remaining schedule is balanced. After street races Saturday and Sunday at Exhibition Place, IndyCar still goes to a pair of road courses (the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Sonoma Raceway) and two oval tracks (the Milwaukee Mile and Auto Club Speedway). Even the ovals are diverse.

      Milwaukee is a short, tight oval; Auto Club, which is in Fontana, Calif., is large and sweeping, the fastest circuit of the year.

      The season ends with the Auto Club race Aug. 30.

      Dixon is glad to see Toronto. It not only was the site of last year's doubleheader sweep, it's the place he hopes to get his season back on track.

      The three-time series champion is eighth in the standings and stuck without a win. But he's not alone. None of Chip Ganassi's four drivers have a win this season, although Tony Kanaan appeared to have one at Iowa before Hunter-Reay grabbed new tires on a late pit stop and passed him with two laps left.

      "There are times when we feel like we're right there, but we haven't been able to get over the hump," Dixon said. "It's definitely time to."

      Dixon is 140 points out of the lead, and there are plenty of points left to be won. With the Auto Club race counting for twice the normal number, 368 points remain to be won.