Joey Logano down pit road

There's Racin in Richmond
NASCAR might have taken the Easter Weekend off, but Richmond fans managed to their racing fix early as Goodyear held a testing session at America's Premier Short Track earlier today. Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Danica Patrick and Greg Biffle all took part in the opportunity to tune up before the TOYOTA OWNERS 400 on Sunday, April 24. "This is drivers' favorite race track," said Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. "If you polled all of us drivers about which tracks we like to race the most, Richmond's always going to be in the top of the list. There's always some great racing and with the (switch) from day to night there's going to be a lot of changes the fans are going to see."

Danica's getaway

From oceanfront to court-side and everywhere in between, drivers took the Easter weekend to get away from the track before NASCAR comes to Martinsville, Virginia for the STP 500 on Sunday. Check out how drivers spent their early season break.

Glen Wood at MVS in 1953

Wood Brothers racing hasn't competed in Martinsville since 2011, when then-Daytona 500 champ Trevor Bayne raced the No. 21 Ford to a 35th-place finish at Glen and Leonard Wood's hometown track. Before that it was 2008 and "Wild Bill from Dawsonville" behind the wheel. This year, they return to the track with Sunoco Rookie of the Year hopeful Ryan Blaney, who has five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races under his belt there. “It’s really a home race for those guys," said Blaney. "It’s really neat to go back and bring the Wood Brothers back there and have them in their hometown and home state. Hopefully, we’ll see a bunch of Wood Brothers fans out there. I think we will.” 
Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano all have a chance to earn their first MVS Cup wins

Only six of the 40 drivers entered into this weekend's STP 500 have taken home a storied Martinsville grandfather clock, so there's a chance Sunday's race winner will be a newbie, and FOX Sport's Tom Jensen focuses in on three who have as good a chance as any to race their way to an MVS win. One is Kyle Busch, who has nine top-5's and 487 laps led at Martinsville for his career and it's the only short track at which the defending champion doesn't have a win. The other two are Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth, who had a run-in last October that broke a three-race winning streak and essentially ended Logano's Chase dreams. Expect plenty of eyes to be on this trio on Sunday.
Leonard Wood

Proud of My Home State
Leonard Wood writes into our Commonwealth Corner Series

Sixty-six years of racing, and I still enjoy racing in my home state of Virginia. I especially love winning here. And, Wood Brothers Racing has done that a lot in the Commonwealth.

Our love for racing started when my older brother Glen took his personal car to a practice session his friend was running in. He took his car out on the track, and he was able to keep up. He thought if he had a real race car he would be able to do quite well. That’s how it all got started. At the time, Glen was 25 years old and I was only 15. I was always the mechanic in the family, and was always tinkering with the engine and tuning cars. So, I was Glen’s chief mechanic at 15. According to the media, I stayed 15 for like 10 years.

It wasn’t long before we were sitting on poles, setting track records, and winning races. Our first race was at Morris Speedway, close to Martinsville Speedway. Then, it became a business. In 1956, Curtis Turner and Joe Weatherly, both Virginians, went to Ford Motor Company and told them they should put us on board. We got connected with Ford Motor Company in 1956, and have been with them ever since.

What inspires you to do something is wherever you’re lacking or need improvement. In 1960, we saw Fireball Roberts and Smokey Yunick change two tires and fuel the car, and it took them 45 seconds. We were thinking there is room for improvement here. We just began working on it and what the weakest link was. We worked on each part, like changing tires, speeding up the jack, and speeding up fuel to go in the tank. It wasn’t long until we were down to 25 seconds. We began to improve on that. You think it’s the fastest you can get, and you just keep working at it. You come up with new ideas to speed it up in a certain area. When we would make a pit stop, we would end up a half a lap ahead. It didn’t take them long to catch on to that.

I still love winning to this day, and we have collected 98 wins over the years. Glen actually won a race at Richmond in 1957. I was just drafted into the army, and I was riding down the road, and got word that he won the race in Richmond. It’s a nice size track, and a very fun track to run on. The most rewarding victory lane was in 2011 with Trevor Bayne in the Daytona 500. He was the youngest driver with the oldest team ever.

Kyle Petty won his very first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond. Many drivers have gotten their first win while driving one of our cars and it’s very rewarding. A few races before Richmond, Kyle had been racing with Dale Sr. He passed Dale in practice, and he bumps Kyle and Kyle hits the wall. We had to work late into the night, even after the track had closed, to get the car ready for race day. Dale saw me the next day in the garage and puts his arm around me, and asks, “How bad did it tear the ole car up?” Dale was extremely competitive, but he had a big heart as well.

We definitely enjoy running Richmond. Any track you win on, you like it. Just the whole Richmond area with all the modifieds that use to be around there at places like Southside Speedway. You would watch people like Emanuel Zervakis, Sonny Hutchins, and Ray Hendricks. All those guys would run up there, and they were super tough. Richmond at one time was the hub for some of the best modified racing in the whole United States. The Richmond area is also home to Junie Donlavey, my good friend. There’s just something in the atmosphere coming to Richmond, and it just has a good feeling.

I have always been proud of our home state. We used to run Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC. It was the Myers Brothers against Glen Wood and Curtis Turner. They were the Virginia boys and the Myers Brothers were the Carolina boys. I have always been extremely proud of the state of Virginia and being from Virginia.
Jimmie Johnson Passes Dale Earnhardt on all-time wins list
He had the "S" on his firesuit and on the hood of his car, but this past Sunday Jimmie Johnson truly solidified his place as NASCAR's Superman. With his win in the Auto Club 400, Johnson moved past Dale Earnhardt Sr. on NASCAR's all-time wins list. "I feel like physically and mentally I'm the best that I've ever been in my career," he said. "So I'm in the space I want to be in, which tells me it makes me want to stick around and do this for a lot of years. There's no guarantees about when you're going to win and have success. I've been very, very fortunate to win 77 of these things, which blows my mind on its own."

Logano and Truex do some rubbing and racing
The 2016 season is young still, but it's been filled with high-drama and exciting racing. Already there have been two of the top eight closest finishes in NASCAR history, Jimmie Johnson continues his march up NASCAR's all-time wins list, four different winners in five races (including at least one from each manufacturer), the three previous Sprint Cup Champions (Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Johnson) are all inside the top-5 of points standings and we're just getting started. The new low-downforce package is getting rave reviews on the track, as evidenced in Fontana where we saw green flag passes and multi-car battles for positioning throughout the field. "I think overall, when we look at the start of the season, we said we would kind of get through the West Coast swing and take a look at it," saidSteve O’Donnell, NASCAR's Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer. "But we still feel like … certainly it's going in the right direction.
Drivers dish on their West Coast experience

As NASCAR wraps up it's West Coast Swing and drivers head into their Easter weekend reprieve, driver and crew guys take to Twitter to react to what transpired in California. With a mix of haterade, bedhead, boat towing and more, here's some of our favorite tweets from the weekend as #NASCARgoeshome. 

Jeff Gordon can spit some fire.

We knew he could light it up on the track, but who knew Jeff Gordon could spit fire like that? Jeff's transition from behind the wheel to the broadcast booth has shown he's a natural in front of the camera. But Jeff showed the guys from Fox Sports Live he's got some chops behind the mic too, giving viewers a few lines Nelly himself would be proud of.

Virginia is Home
Jeb Burton chimes in on our Commonwealth Corner Series
Growing up in Halifax, Virginia, NASCAR was always on my mind. Which you may not expect in Virginia, since most people know that North Carolina is one of the world centers for stock car racing.

For as long as I can remember, I’d been watching my dad, Ward Burton, race in the Cup Series and even got to travel with him on the circuit until I was old enough to begin racing on my own. One of my favorite memories is when he won the Daytona 500, and I got to miss a whole week of school and travel with him to all of the media events that followed that win. It was an indescribable feeling, especially because he had a real shot at winning the year before (in 2001), when he led 53 laps. That set the standard for the 2002 race, and even though he only led the last five laps, they were the most important laps of that entire race.

I always liked going to the races, but it took a while for me to get interested in the driving part. For me, I started out racing on two wheels, competing in motocross events throughout tracks in Virginia. When I decided to start racing go karts, I finished second in my first race. Then, I got interested in and really wanted to race stock cars.

I can really contribute my start in stock car racing to South Boston Speedway in Virginia. It was a family affair at the track. Dad and my Uncle Jeff launched their stock car racing careers at South Boston Speedway. I raced in the Limited Late Model series until I was 20 years old, when I got my first start in the ARCA Series but still drove late models. I eventually landed a part-time ride with Dad in the Camping World Truck Series, and through my experience was able to compete full-time when I was 20 years old for Turner Motorsports.

From there, you may know how the rest of the story goes. I drove in the Truck Series full-time in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, which led me to my first season in the Sprint Cup Series in 2015. While that season may not have gone as I had planned, it was valuable experience, and I think was what got me to where I am now, racing for “The King” at Richard Petty Motorsports in the No. 43 car in the XFINITY Series.

For me, I think it’s one of the best opportunities we’ve ever had, and even though the deal came together less than a week before the season opener at Daytona, the guys at the shop have been working their butts off to get me the best race car we can, and I can’t wait to see what we do this season.

While racing has brought me to North Carolina and traveling across the country, I always will think of Virginia as home. Throughout Dad’s racing career, he never moved out of Virginia, and still lives there today with my mom. My sister also lives in Virginia with her husband, and I have a place there as well and will come home a couple of times a month when the racing schedule allows.

While I may consider North Carolina my place of residence, Virginia is always going to be home. It’s the place that shaped my racing career, and a place where I still return home and race as often as I can. I’m really excited to race at Richmond International Raceway this year, not only because it’s the only Virginia track on the XFINITY circuit but also because the No. 43 XFINITY Series team always performs well there. Winning in my home state would make me so proud. Not to mention, my Virginia Tech Hokies are there, so you know where to find me when college football season rolls around in the fall. They say you can’t get where you’re going without knowing where you came from, and Virginia is that place for me.
Just another day in the desert for Kevin Harvick, who has now won five of the last six contests at Phoenix International Raceway. The 2014 Champion edged out Carl Edwards by a mere .010 seconds, the same margin of Denny Hamlin's victory or Martin Truex Jr. in the Daytona 500. ""I knew I needed to get a good run off the (final) corner and that I was going to have to get into his door. And it worked out, just barely," said Harvick. It was Harvick's eighth win at the track- extending his own record in NASCAR's top series.

Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney have impressed so far in their young careers.

When we were in Daytona for Speedweeks at the season's start- there was a lot of chatter surrounding the exciting 2016 rookie class. Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney proved why on Sunday by each finishing inside the top-10 in the Good Sam 500. "My guys have been bringing such fast race cars to the racetrack every week since Daytona, and I haven't been doing a very good job of getting the finishes that they deserve," said Elliott. It was the first time since October 2014 that two rookies finished inside the top 10. The race was Blaney's second consecutive top 10.

Kyle Busch not satisfied with success so far in 2016

He's led in every race this season. He's finished inside the top-5 in every race this season. But the defending NASCAR champion hasn't come away with a win in any race this season- and he's not having it. “You could be happy with top-five and you could be happy with running up front and doing those things," said Kyle Busch “Those are the things you're supposed to do, but ultimately we've got to get to Victory Lane." Busch is currently tied with Sunday's race winner, Kevin Harvick, atop the NASCAR points standings, but for someone who earned five victories in 25 starts during last season's championship run, he's ready for the wins to start flowing in.

The low downforce package should shine in California

Asphalt baking under the California sun has led to some excellent on-track action in Fontana, and NASCAR's low downforce package should only make things even more exciting. As the race goes on and the track gets slick, fans can expect to see quite a show on Sunday. Kyle Busch, who's excelled racing with the new package at each stop this season, could be due for his third Fontana win in four years on Sunday.

Brad Keselowski wins in Vegas

Not wind nor (dust) storm could keep Brad Keselowski out of Victory Lane on Sunday. Keselowski passed Kyle Busch to take the lead with six laps to go, and held on the rest of the way to earn his first win in 33 races. Teammate Joey Logano, who led 74 laps on Sunday, was happy for the 1-2 Penske finish, but admits he's anxious to get back into the winner's circle himself.  "Gosh, we finished second so many times, Daytona and qualifying. We will go get them next week. … I know we are only three races in, but I am getting antsy." We remember Logano feeling similarly earlier this season.

Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s new fire suits

You've seen what they'll be driving- and now you can see what they'll be wearing. Hendrick Motorsports released images of the Batman and Superman-themed firesuits Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson will be wearing for the #HeroFaceOff at Auto Club Speedway later this month. 

NASCAR chimes in on Peyton's retirement

The sports community bid adieu to one of the all-time greats this week, as Peyton Manning announced his retirement from the NFL after 18 Hall-of-Fame caliber seasons. The NASCAR world took notice, as current and former drivers took to the Twittersphere to pay their respects to the two-time Super Bowl Champion and five-time NFL MVP.  “He’s somebody I really admire and look up to and have the utmost respect for. I’m glad he’s done all this on his terms," said Tony Stewart, who plans to retire from driving full-time at the conclusion of the 2016 NASCAR season.

Kevin Harvick

If you bet against Kevin Harvick at Phoenix, odds are you're going to lose. But despite the fact he's won five of the last seven contests in the desert (including four in a row from 2013 - 2015), Harvick is keeping things in perspective as he prepares for this weekend. "You go there with a fresh start, like you’ve never won there before," said Harvick, who's currently tied for second place with Jimmie Johnson in the early-season standings - seven points behind Kyle Busch. "The hardest thing about having success is that you must have an open mind to try new things and keep moving forward. If you don’t, and aren't willing to try a fresh approach, it will get stagnant. You’re going to become stale and get left behind."

Jimmie Johnson ties Dale Earnhardt for all0time career wins 

The career accolades on Jimmie Johnson's Wikipedia page already rivaled that of the all-time great athletes. Six-time champion (territory Michael Jordan is familiar with), five-time Driver of the Year (Mickey Mantle had three MVP awards) and he's the only driver to have qualified for the Chase every year since it's inception in 2004 (the kind postseason run Bill Belichick is familiar with). But with his win Sunday, Johnson found himself in truly hallowed company- tying Dale Earnhardt Sr. with 76 career Cup wins. "I don't have a problem calling him the best of this generation even as a competitor of his and having to go out there and race against him,"said Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Drivers had glowing reviews of the on-track action in Atlanta

NASCAR debuted its new low downforce package at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 in Atlanta on Sunday- and the drivers loved it. "We were sideways, sliding around, the cars were moving," said Joey Logano, started 27th but raced his way into the top five without a caution. "This is real racing. We're driving hard. That's a tough race and just a lot of fun," said Carl Edwards, who finished fifth on Sunday.

The new downforce package reminds Brad Keselowski of the 70's

Almost every driver had glowing reviews of how their cars handled with the new downforce package in Atlanta, noting how it felt like a throwback to the racing of yesteryear. None were more explicit in their comparison than Brad Keselowski, who suggested the racing style might even inspire a new look for the Penske driver. "That race felt like I was in 1975.  That was kind of awesome.  I should grow my sideburns out after that one." We decided to see what it'd look like if he did, and we think he could pull it off.

Kevin Harvick dominated the West Coast swing last season.

NASCAR kicks off it's West Coast swing this weekend in Vegas, and eyes will be on Kevin Harvick to see if he can replicate last season's run. The No. 4 dominated the desert in 2015, leading 366 laps between wins at Vegas and Phoenix before snagging a second-place finish in Fontana. With two top-10's to start the season (including an impressive fourth-place run in Daytona) the 2014 Sprint Cup Champion could be poised to make a return trip to Victory Lane this weekend.