Macy Causey
Macy Causey's work on the track is turning heads at just 15 years old (Photo: Brian Cleary)
It's been a whirlwind week for Yorktown's own Macy Causey.

After a fast weekend in Martinsville where she became the youngest female to qualify for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300’s main field, the 15-year-old Causey jetted down to New Smyrna for the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine, a three-day showcase featuring some of the country's best and brightest drivers.

"The combine was great. I thought I did very well and know I had one of the fastest times of the day," said Causey. "My confidence level on being invited into the program this year is very high - I think I impressed a lot of people with not only my ability on the track but off the track during my three days there."

Causey was one of just 22 drivers from across the country invited to compete for a spot in Rev Racing's NASCAR Drive for Diversity Development program, which is renowned for providing talented young drivers with equipment, mentorship and opportunity.

Her invitation to the 2017 combine marks the second time she's been involved in the program. When the Yorktown native was invited last fall, she was the youngest participant in NASCAR Drive for Diversity history at 14 years old.

Macy Causey
Macy Causey takes in some advice at the NASCAR Drive for Diversity combine. (Brian Cleary)
"It meant a lot to just be invited to the combine," said Causey. "At least 200 people apply and only around 20 are invited so it's really the opportunity of a lifetime. Last year really gave me another opportunity to build my confidence and I've done just that."

Causey competes regularly in the NWAAS Late Model Series - and although she calls Langley Speedway her home track, she's seen success racing in South Boston and the newly minted Dominion Raceway this season. She believes her performance and improvements have her ready to take the next step in her career, but knows the program would take it to new heights.

"It would mean a lot (to be accepted)," said Causey. "I've worked hard these past few years in the late model cars, learning as much as I can. The opportunity to learn from (Rev Racing's) knowledge and take in what they have to offer - I think that's what will help me the most."

While acceptance into the program would be an honor - breaking down barriers is in the Causey bloodline. Her grandmother, Diane Teel, was the first female driver to compete in the XFINITY Series nearly 40 years ago. Teel has been integral for Causey's development as a driver, and she feels fortunate to have had tremendous support from her family.

"My grandmother was the first woman to win a NASCAR race at Langley Speedway. Even though times and cars have changed, I still take her advice and look up to her." said Causey. "I'm really proud to carry the family tradition - I love racing and I think it's something I'll do for the rest of my life."

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity program has helped produce some of the sport's budding stars, like 2016 Sprint Cup Chase competitor Kyle Larson as well as NASCAR XFINITY Series phenoms Daniel Suarez and Darrell Wallace Jr. It's run by Rev Racing, which is headquartered in Concord, North Carolina.
Kevin Harvick

Lock it in Kevin Harvick. The 2014 Champion will join Jimmie Johnson in the Round of 8 after a win in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. The No. 4 jumped in front of then-leader Carl Edwards on a late race restart, and held on through the final 30 laps for his fourth win on the year. "These races are hard to win and these guys are so good at the details," said Harvick, "When you put their backs against the wall they're even better. I'm so proud of them." Harvick has never been eliminated under the current Chase format, racing for a Championship at Homestead each of the past two seasons.

Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch

Carl Edwards will just have to wait a little longer for a win at his home track, after losing the lead to Kevin Harvick on a late race restart. "That last restart Kevin and Jimmie (Johnson) just lined up on the bottom and they got far enough ahead to where I couldn't hang on the outside," said Edwards after his second place finish on Sunday. "And I ended up having to race Kyle (Busch) really hard there for a few laps and it let Kevin get out ahead." Rather than try and chase down the No. 4, Edwards spent the rest of the afternoon fending off Busch for the final 30 laps. "That's racing I guess," said Busch of the back and forth. This isn't the first time we've seen the JGR teammates race one another hard. Edwards famously bumped the No. 18 on the final lap of the TOYOTA OWNERS 400 at Richmond International Raceway to secure his second win of the season.

Brad Keselowski

It'd been nearly two years since the No. 2 hadn't finished a NASCAR Sprint Cup event, but for the first time since the 2015 Daytona 500 Brad Keselowski suffered a DNF in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400. Heading into the cutoff race in Talladega, the 2012 Champion is sitting 11th and eight points behind Joey Logano in the 8th position. On the plus side, Keselowski took home the May race at 'Dega, and is the only repeat winner in the last 11 races at the track. After a strong season racing on superspeedways (two wins in three races), he's got as strong a chance as any to race his way into the Round of 8.


Five races down, five to go. We've reached the midway point in the Chase and there's plenty of intrigue as the postseason makes the turn down the backstretch. The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas, who were so dominant in the regular season, have been consistent but unremarkable through the Chase's first half. The only exception would be Martin Truex Jr, who is one of three Chase race winners we've seen along with former champions Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson. Two of the Chase newbies are gone, and the two remaining are in danger of missing the cut come Sunday. The cutoff race in Talladega looms large as we move one step closer to crowning the NASCAR's 2016 Cup Champion.
Elliott Sadler at RIR
Virginia driver Elliott Sadler is in the middle of what might be his best season as a driver yet.
"I hate that it's the first year of the Chase," Elliott Sadler said with a chuckle. "I mean I love it and think it's great for the Series, but I hate to give up a 47-point lead heading into the playoffs."

Well that was then. 

At the time, Sadler was at Richmond International Raceway preparing for the Virginia529 College Savings 250 - the second-to-last race of the regular season. The Emporia, VA native sat atop the XFINITY Series standings in the midst of a season that will go down as one of his best.

"I'd rather win at (Richmond) than anywhere else in the country," Sadler said of his hometown track. "I've got a lot of family and friends that come here for this race - it's really racing at home. Racing in our backyard puts so much emotion into it, it's a bucket list item for me."

Although his fourth place finish in the Virginia529 College Savings 250 meant that elusive Action Track win would stay on that list at least a little longer, the JR Motorsports driver finds himself poised to check off an even bigger item.

With just four races left on the XFINITY Series schedule, Sadler still sits atop the field as we move into the Round of 8 for the inaugural Chase for the XFINITY Championship.

"We've had a dream season. I can't tell you how proud I am of Kelley (Earnhardt-Miller) and Dale Junior, the equipment they've given us, along with my crew chief Kevin (Meendering) and his guys," Sadler said. "We've just been bringing fast cars to the race track week in and week out. We've been very consistent, we're in the top-10 each and every week."

Through 29 races he's finished sixth or better 18 times, posted three wins, and, aside from a mishap back at Charlotte in May, he's finished on the lead lap every race. Had the XFINITY Series not adopted the successful Chase format like its counterpart Cup Series, the Virginia driver might've been a virtual lock for the 2016 XFINITY Series Championship.

As it turns out, he's more than capable of rolling with the change, too.

Sadler kicked off his postseason run in historic fashion, winning the first ever NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase race in Kentucky. The regular season points leader then followed up his win with a seventh place finish at Dover and a second place showing at Charlotte.

Elliott Sadler succeeding in Chase format
The JR Motorsports driver has posted an average finish of 6.9 this season - the best of his career.
"It's by far the best season I've ever had in racing," Sadler said. "We want to capitalize on it and I've got a great group of guys around us. We're just going to keep after it."

In his first season with JR Motorsports, Sadler enters the Round of 8 looking to extend his streak of 14-straight top-10's en route to a Championship showdown in Homestead-Miami. And while he claims it's his best season to date, whats even more important for the NASCAR vet is he's having the time of his life.

"I like showing up to the race track every week knowing you have the chance to win, and I like appreciating the hard work that's going on around me," Sadler said. "I am in the best situation I've been in in a long time, I'm having more fun than I've had in a long time...I can't see myself doing anything different."

Nor should he. As long as Sadler keeps doing what he's doing, there's a good chance he'll be bringing an XFINITY Series Championship to the Commonwealth.

Jimmie Johnson wins
It really was just a matter of time, wasn't it? For the first time under the current Chase format, six-time champion Jimmie Johnson secured his spot in the Round of 8 with his eighth victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday. "We knew we would get back," Johnson said in Victory Lane. "It was slower than we wanted it to be but to be here today and have this victory is great. We were able to execute all day long here. I just really can’t thank everyone enough that supports us and for all the fans that were tuned in today."

Chase Elliott

Johnson's teammate Chase Elliott was also poised for a strong finish in the 704, until a wreck on Lap 258 ended his day early. The Sprint Cup rookie led 103 laps and was running fifth when contact between Martin Truex Jr. and Austin Dillon caused a wreck that sent both the No. 3 and No. 24 into the garage. "We had such a good car and I am devastated that we didn't get the result that the guys deserved," Elliott said. "They gave me such a fast 3M Chevy and that is all you can ask for. We just have got to go and do more of that next week." Dillon and Elliott weren't the only two Chase contenders short on luck either. Drivers Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin suffered car troubles that knocked them out of the race prematurely.

XFINITY Chase Grid

Ty Dillon is out, Darrell Wallace Jr. is in - with just one point separating the two. After a hectic race in Charlotte on Sunday, the inaugural XFINITY Chase field was cut to eight drivers and Dillon was one of four drivers who's championship dreams came to an end. "Man, it's heartbreaking," an emotional Dillon said after the race. "We're a team that should have been in the final round and you've got to expect things to happen...That's the way this Chase is built." Daniel Suarez and Emporia's own Elliott Sadler lead the remaining drivers, thanks to their respective wins at Kentucky and Dover. Fellow XFINITY race winner Erik Jones also made the cut, joining Wallace, Justin Allgaier, Brendan Gaughan, Ryan Reed and Blake Koch in the field. Think you know who'll make the next round of cuts? Make your picks here.

Breathing Room?

Breathing Room? What Breathing Room?
If Sunday showed us anything, it's that the notion of "breathing room" in the Chase might be little more than an illusion. As 2014 champion Kevin Harvick pointed out last week - "trouble can strike anywhere." That certainly came to fruition in Charlotte when nearly half the Chase field was sent to the garage early. While nearly every driver had spoken about the importance of strong finishes at Charlotte and Kansas before cut-off race in Talladega, Sunday's contest proved to be an exhaustive gauntlet the entire field navigated all afternoon. Now the circus travels to Kansas City where there will be even more pressure for drivers to survive and advance in the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The Round of 16 was officially the Martin Truex Jr. show. After his postseason-opening victory in Chicagoland and nearly doubling down the following weekend in Loudon, Truex Jr. earned the fourth win of his 2016 season in Dover and has a lead a whopping 360 of the 967 total laps in three Chase races. “We are here to get it done and golly I’m telling you just the best bunch of guys you could ever ask for,” Truex Jr. said. “It’s just amazing to drive their race cars and do what we were able to do. I’m just ecstatic.”

Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott

Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott? Under the current Chase format we've seen a driver weave their way into Championship contention on the backs of strong, consistent finishes. Although he's without a win in his rookie season - Elliott is not only hanging with the big dogs, he's thriving with them and advances comfortably in the Chase. Fellow postseason newbie Austin Dillon raced his way into the next round with an eighth place showing at Dover, securing the 12th and final Chase spot. "It feels good," he said. "It's time to knock some more of these guys out, because we've got this opportunity. … I want to say that we're going to be the underdog in this next round, so let's go do it."

Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr

What Lies Ahead
Jeff Gordon found himself in a familiar place after 400 miles at Dover International Speedway, where a 10th place finish marked the 476th top-10 showing of his storied career.  It was Gordon's best finish in seven races behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet, and the future Hall of Famer has just one race left on his calendar for 2016. "I wanted to get a top-10 in this car before my time in the car is over,’" Gordon said. "We got that. Now let’s go get a top five or something better at Martinsville." Considering the Virginia track is Gordon's best, odds are good that he will.

Jimmie Johnson

Don't Rule Out Johnson
While it was ultimately Truex who dominated the Chase's first round - it could've just as easily been Jimmie Johnson and the 48 in Victory Lane at both Chicagoland and Dover. A pair of pit road penalties saw possible victories slip away for the six-time champion, and those kind of mistakes will be even more costly in a tighter field. But with a combined 30 wins at the six tracks between here and Homestead, there's still time to put a stop to the costly mistakes and round into championship form.
Kevin Harvick

Harvick Gets Lucky in Loudon
Make that two tickets punched to the Round of 12. Kevin Harvick joins Martin Truex Jr. as a lock to advance to the next round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup with his win in New Hampshire Sunday. Harvick overtook race leader Matt Kenseth - who was gunning for his third straight Loudon win - off the final restart with five laps to go and held on for his third victory of the season. “For me, it was just a smooth restart,” Harvick said. “I just didn’t want to spin the tires. I feel like the performance of the car and the things that we’re doing are good enough to be competitive, and we just need to not make mistakes and go from there.” It was Harvick’s 34th career Sprint Cup Series win and second at NHMS, with his last coming in 2006.

Elliott Sadler

An emotional Elliott Sadler celebrated history over the weekend, becoming the first driver to win a race under the new XFINITY Series Chase format."We fought through a lot tonight," Sadler said in Victory Lane. "I'm going to get a little emotional on you, I've been in the hospital all week with my mom in ICU watching her fight and fight through a lot of pain and suffering. (She) made her way back home tonight to watch the race. Mom, I love you. She leads so much by example." The Emporia, VA native expertly navigated his way through a caution-filled battle for the 13th win of his XFINITY career.

Clint Bowyer and Tony Stewart

The season's not over yet, but there's already been news of some big changes coming in 2017 with Stewart-Haas Racing front racing. Clint Bowyer will be behind the wheel of the 14 once the "Smoke" clears, and it'll be running on a Roush Yates Ford. NASCAR takes a look at these and a few other changes coming down the pipeline this winter.

Jamie Mcmurray, Austin Dillon, Tony Stewart and Chris Buescher

The field will get a little tighter after this weekend's race in Dover as four drivers will be eliminated from Chase contention. With two first-timers and a future Hall of Famer on the cusp of elimination, we could see some monster action at the "Monster Mile." Less than 20 points separate 7th-place Denny Hamlin from 13th-place Jamie McMurray, so don't be surprised to see some serious shake-ups before the Round of 12 is officially underway.
Martin Truex Jr

Keep calling them underdogs, they'll just keep biting back. Martin Truex Jr. and the single car team of Furniture Row Racing punched their tickets into the "Round of 12" with a win in Sunday's Chase opener at Chicagoland. “What can I say? There are so many people who are responsible for this and I’m glad I get to drive this 78 with everybody on this team," said Truex Jr. "This is how we want to start off. This feels awesome.” With nine races to go in 2016, Truex Jr.'s three wins this season matches his career total through 2015.

Chase Elliott

Before Truex Jr. maneuvered his way to the checkered flag, it looked like rookie Chase Elliott was in line to secure the first win of his young career. While the No. 78 beat the 24 off pit road during a late caution and again the ensuing restart, Elliott still finished third in his first taste of Chase action and seems poised to build on that success."Expect it, nothing is yours until it’s over," said Elliott. "We see more cautions come out at the end of these races than we do not. That is just part of it, you’ve got to expect it and be able to embrace it and move forward. I feel like we did a good job controlling the things that we could control today."

Less is More

"There were other opportunities that were out there," said Truex in Victory Lane on Sunday. Celebrating his fourth win with Furniture Row Racing, Truex Jr. remembered contract talks with team officials last September. However, Truex was committed to Barney Visser and company and ultimately took less and returned to the Denver-based race team on a one year extension.  "I believe this is the best team I’ve ever had. This is my best opportunity to win races, and we’ve proven that. It’s my best I made the commitment to Barney we were going to do it.” Fast forward a few months, and Truex has been renewed through 2018...AND they're expanding. Car number two? None othat than Erik Jones, the winner of Saturday's Drive for Safety 300 XFINITY Series race. The future is looking bright - and filled with burnouts - in Colorado.

Matt Kenseth

Matt Kenseth has owned New Hampshire Motor Speedway, sweeping the last two races in Loudon including the 2015 Chase race. Kevin Harvick has a win at all remaining Chase tracks except Texas, and bossman Tony Stewart boasts the same. Carl Edwards has as many Chase wins as former champions Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski combined. With just one race down, things are far from decided. Fox Sports' Tim Durr takes a look at how drivers have fared at the nine remaining tracks on the schedule.