Showing posts with label Chase for the Sprint Cup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chase for the Sprint Cup. Show all posts
In just his third season in the Sprint Cup Series, Austin Dillon and the famed No. 3 are in championship contention. Driving for his Pop Pop Richard Childress, Austin hopes to bring another championship back to his family-owned race team in what will be his first Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Austin Dillon

Dillon has enjoyed a breakout campaign in his 2016 season, setting new career highs in both Top-10 and Top-5 finishes. Regardless, the No. 3 driver was feeling pressure of defending his Chase position heading into the regular season finale at Richmond, but delivered with a 13th place finish and his first Chase berth.

With an RCR team that has run well on both short tracks and super speedways this season, Dillon is poised to make some postseason noise in his first trip to the Chase. Regardless, NASCAR fans across the country are sure glad to see the No. 3 back in the playoff mix.

There’s been a lot of talk around Chase Elliott’s rookie season. First off, he is the son of NASCAR legend and Hall Famer, Bill Elliott. Second, he is replacing a legend in the No. 24, Jeff Gordon. Even with all the talk, Chase has managed to make a name for himself. Just one of two rookies making the Chase this year, the new driver of the ‘ole 2-4 is hoping to get the siren fired up at the Dawsonville Pool Room during his postseason run.

Chase Elliott

The popular preseason "Rookie of the Year" pick, Elliott didn't disappoint in his first full season behind the wheel of a Cup car. On a team loaded with the likes of Dale Earnhardt Junior, six-time champion Jimmie Johnson and six-time Chase competitor Kasey Kahne - it was Elliott who led all Hendrick drivers in Top-10 finishes (including a streak of six straight over the Spring).

Despite some late Summer blues, Elliott seems to be regaining his form at the right time. Heading into Richmond he'd posted Top-10 finishes in three consecutive races, and managed to come back from needing some early repairs to defend his Chase position at Richmond. 
No one thought Chris Buescher would be the first Rookie of the Year candidate to secure a win, or that he would make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Chris, driver of the No. 34 machine for Front Row Motorsports, has beat the odds. Now, he is onto the Chase where the expectations are higher and the road is a little tougher.

Buescher shocked the NASCAR world with his victory in a weather-impacted Pocono race back in August, and has since raced his way into a Chase berth. Coming into the season finale at Richmond, Buescher did well to avoid "the big one" on lap 364, and his 24th-place finish secured his spot in the Top-30 and there in the Chase.

While it's been an up and down season for the No. 34 driver, he has the championship pedigree that bodes well for the Chase pressure. The reigning XFINITY Series champion also has an ARCA Racing Series crown on his resume.
Denny Hamlin

 He started from the pole and was competitive all night long. After a couple hiccups mid-season, Denny Hamlin is cruising into his latest Chase appearance by rattling off eight straight Top-10 finishes punctuated by a victory in the regular season finale at his hometown track in Richmond. “That's what's so special about get to do it at home, and there's just all the extra Denny Hamlin shirts and hats and everything, and [it] fires me up every time I get here," said Hamlin. "And man, this is a great car. Hopefully we can use it in the Chase.”

Kyle Larson

If Hamlin is one of the hottest drivers heading into the Chase, Kyle Larson isn't too far behind. Larson was able to recover from an early loose wheel to secure his best finish (2nd) ever at Richmond. The Chip Ganassi driver weaved his way through the field off the final restart, and had a car capable of running down Hamlin with a few more laps. “It felt like a video game on rookie mode, having fresh tires like that,” Larson told NBCSN. “It was a fun last restart and to get all the way to second. I felt I could get to fourth, but I got to second, so that was great.”

Junior on Twitter

Junior Chimes In
Since he couldn't actually be on the track at Richmond, Dale Earnhardt Jr. chose to spend his Saturday night live-tweeting the Federated Auto Parts 400 action. From jealousy pangs to color commentary to driver insights and more - Junior's Twitter game was on point. 
26 races down. 10 to go. 16 drivers in the hunt. After a spectacular regular season finale at Richmond, the field is down to Ready. Set. Chase. beginning this weekend in Chicagoland. We've got the entire Joe Gibbs Racing machine gunning for a repeat title, four newcomers, a couple of future Hall of Famers and several former Champions in the field. Who's your pick to win the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup? Let us know in the comments below!

Many of the names you'd expect to be there, are. 

You've got former champions like Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick. The talented quartet of drivers with Joe Gibbs Racing are all in the fray. Smoke will be looking to set the Chase on fire in his final season. Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. and Jamie McMurray are also all making return trips to the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

But four drivers, including two rookies, will be making their postseason debuts this Sunday in Chicagoland. Let's take a look at some of the young stars gunning for their first taste of success, starting with Chip Ganassi Racing's Kyle Larson:

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson comes into the Chase on fire. Following up his first career win at Michigan, the No. 42 driver had a third place showing at Bristol before racing his way to second place finish in the regular season finale at Richmond. Larson was sitting ninth coming out of the final caution, but weaved his way seven spots through the field in the final laps to a career-best finish at the Action Track.

A NASCAR Next graduate, Larson has been on the postseason cusp since his 2014 rookie campaign. So while this might be the first Chase appearance for the California kid, you can bet it won't be his last.

Welcome back race fans! Racing returns to the RVA for the exciting regular season final, and we're here to offer you the inside track to everything going on during Fan Appreciation Weekend! From the moment the haulers arrive until the Federated Auto Parts 400's checkered flag - you'll be able to see content here you won't get anywhere else!


Chesterfield native Denny Hamlin started first and finished first in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway. The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Racing Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing led 189 laps en route to his third career win at the short-track. The victory is his first Cup win at Richmond since 2010 (continue reading)

Views From the Day:

Now Let's Crown a Champion:

Your 2016 Chase Competitors


Kyle Busch Wins Virginia529 College Savings 250:

For the sixth time in his career, Kyle Busch NASCAR XFINITY series race at Richmond International Raceway. Busch, who a led a race high 197 of 250 laps, dominated Friday night’s Virginia529 College Savings Plan 250... (continue reading)
Views From the Day:

Numbers You Need to Know:
Fastest in NXS Final Practice: Ty Dillon 
Speed: 122.144 Time: 22.105
Fastest in NSCS First Practice: Kyle Busch
Speed: 120.979 Time: 22.318
Fastest in NSCS Final Practice: Casey Mears
Speed: 120.557 Time: 22.396 
NBC12 Pole Sitter: Austin Dillon
Department of Veterans Affairs Pole Sitter: Denny Hamlin 


RIR Goes All in on Fan Appreciation

The driver who finishes first in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 race won’t be the only winner this weekend at Richmond International Raceway. As part of NASCAR’s inaugural Fan Appreciation weekend, more than one lucky fan will have the opportunity... (continue reading)
Drivers Say #ThanksFans

Created with flickr slideshow.

Numbers You Need to Know:

With a win in the Coca-Cola 600 already notched in his belt, Martin Truex Jr. scored a checkered flag in yet another one of NASCAR's crown jewels on Sunday: the Bojangles Southern 500 in Darlington. Driving the throwback No 78 Auto-Owners Camry, Truex was able to hold outrun Harvick to his second win of the season. "We've had a string of terrible bad luck lately," Truex said. "We've had super-fast race cars. ... I knew when the bad luck stopped coming, we would start racking them off. Tonight we weren't the best car, and we won for once. I just couldn't be more excited." He's just the eighth driver to score wins in both the Coca Cola 600 and Bojangles Southern 500 in the same season.

Bubble Drivers at Richmond

If the season ended in Darlington, the Chase field would be set. Chris Buescher, sitting 30th, would be one of two rookies in the Chase - joining Chase Elliott who's sitting 12th in points. Austin Dillon would be making his first-ever Chase appearance and Jamie McMurray would make the NASCAR postseason for the second time. But there's still Richmond - and a pair of NASCAR vets with 12 Chase berths between them are looking to make one final push for the playoffs. Check out the graphic above to see how the Chase bubble looks heading into the regular season finale. If math isn't your strong suit, just remember this: win and get in.

Fan Appreciation is an entire weekend devoted to showing our gratitude to race fans near and far for the enthusiastic support they have given our sport throughout the regular season. As we head into The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, there is no better time to tell our fans THANK YOU for another incredible year. From unprecedented driver access, to car decals, to a literal red carpet, this weekend is going to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Check out to see the cool swag you can win now, and follow us on Twitter @RIRinsider to see the cool swag you can win while you’re here. 
Bubble Drivers at Richmond International Raceway

As the 2016 NASCAR regular season hits the final stretch, eyes turn towards who'll be racing for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship come November. We're hoping back on the Road to Richmond to paint the complete Chase picture, examining each driver as they clinch their spot in the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Brad Keselowski
Brad Keselowski was the first driver to clinch his spot in the 2016 Chase following his July win at Kentucky.
2016 Rearview
After winning just one race all of last season, Brad's 2016 campaign might be one of the best of his career. With four wins through 20 races, the No. 2 driver is averaging a top-10 finish every time he rolls out onto the track - a testament to his ability considering the number of driver's who've fallen prey to wrecks this season. He's been a spokesman for the new downforce package since it's roll out last season in Darlington, and with the success he's had it's easy to see why.

2015 Chase
Keselowski was half of the Penske equation that dominated most of the 2015 Chase, but a wreck in the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 dampened his chances to advance past the round of eight. But that still didn't stop him from leaving his mark on the Championship race in Homestead, leading a race-high 86 laps. 

Cup Career at Richmond
One Win (2014 Federared Auto Parts 400)  |  Five Top-10's  |  15.9 Avg. Finish
Five things from today's state of the sport address

The 2016 NASCAR season has officially hit the ground running today with the announcement of several big changes set to debut this year. Let’s take a look:

1. THE CHASE IS COMING the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series, that is.


Twelve and eight drivers will qualify for the XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series playoff system, respectively. Two three-race elimination rounds will cut the field to four before the final round at Homestead-Miami for all three Series.


A Caution Clock will count down to twenty minutes after the green flag drops in the Camping World Truck Series. A caution will be called when time runs out, unless a caution has already taken place.


The 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash race schedule taps Bristol, Richmond, Dover, and Indy – in that order.


The Dash 4 Cash program is moving to a new format made up of two heat races, followed by a main event.

A look at Kevin Harvick heading into the Sprint Cup Championship weekend.

2015 Rearview: There may not have been a more dominant car week after week than the No. 4. Leading the field in Top-5 (22) and Top-10 finishes (27), tell part of the story. The three wins and 12 second place showings tell the rest. In fact, Kevin Harvick has taken last year's run to his first Cup Championship and gotten even better. No he didn't match the gaudy pole awards (eight) from 2014, but his average starting position is nearly a full spot better than it was last season. He's set a new career marks in nearly every category, and were it not for an expired engine at Pocono (a race he was leading at the time) those numbers could look even better. There's little that Harvick hasn't accomplished this season, and every time a truly great performance has been needed, "The Closer" answers the call. He needed a win at Dover to advance in the Chase, and 355 laps led later he had just that. Now he has the opportunity to do what only 10 drivers have done in their careers, and repeat as NASCAR Champion. 

His Career: They say things get better with age, and that can certainly be said for Harvick's career. Since 2010, his age-34 season, he's seen multi-win campaigns every year but one (2012), and has finished third or better in points in those same seasons. Only Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart have more Chase wins to their name, and he has the chance to add a second Cup Championship trophy to his mantle. 

History at Homestead: Harvick's rattled off seven straight Top-10's, including the most important one of his career in last year's Sprint Cup Championship performance. In fact, the No. 4 driver has finished outside the Top-10 just twice in his 14 starts at the track. No other Chase competitor has dominated South Florida quite like the reigning champ, making him the odds-on favorite to take home the win this weekend.
A look at Jeff Gordon heading into the Sprint Cup Championship

2015 Rearview: Donations, cars, an 18-liter wine bottle and even his own blackjack table - Jeff Gordon's victory lap season has been a remarkable showcase of gratitude from one of the most influential drivers in NASCAR history. The retirement circus followed "The Kid" from track-to-track throughout the season, leading to tears shed and memories shared by all. But that was off the track, on the track Gordon was held winless through the first 33 races, and was in danger of missing the Chase for just the second time in his 24-year Cup career. Once he qualified in Richmond however, the switch flipped. Riding high on the back of his Martinsville win and six consecutive top-10 finishes, Gordon has scored more points (334) than any other driver in the Chase.   

His Career: What more can be said about Gordon's storied career. Only David Pearson (105) and Richard Petty (200) have more career wins than the future Hall of Famer (93), and a victory this weekend would net Gordon his fifth NASCAR Championship trophy. Considering he was winless in his final full season until two weeks ago, his sudden resurgence has the No. 24 team confident they can end his career in a big way.

History at Homestead: How's a win and seven Top-5 finishes (most ever at Homestead) for kicks? He's led more laps at the track than any of the other remaining Chase drivers, he's focused and he's determined. The man is a living legend, and he'll look to put an exclamation mark on his storybook season this weekend.
A look at Kyle Busch heading into the Sprint Cup Championship

2015 Rearview: After an XFINITY Series crash left Kyle Busch with broken right leg and left foot, sidelining him for the first 11 Sprint Cup races of 2015, it felt like a run at his first Cup title would have to wait another year. Four weeks after his return Busch went on a Petty-like run, winning four out of five races in June and July - including three straight wins at Kentucky, Loudon and Indianapolis. He followed up the string of victories with some of the most point-savvy driving the Chase era, with 10 Top-10 finishes through 15 races and Top-5 showings in each of the Eliminator Round races. All four JGR drivers raced their way into the original Chase field, but it's Busch, playing with house money and maybe driving better than he has at any point in his career, who's the last one standing.

His Career: Busch has just one Chase race win to his name over the course of his career, coming 10 years ago (his rookie season) at the 2005 Checker Auto Parts 500 in Phoenix when he wasn't even Chase eligible. Yet he isn't without some measure of success, with two top-five Championship finishes, including fourth in 2013. With what he's overcome this season, 2015 might already go down as a career-defining year for the No. 18 driver. A Sprint Cup Championship would cement that.

History at Homestead: Of the Championship Four, Busch has the hardest time figuring out the South Florida track. An average finish of 23.1 (19th or worse showing in 10 career Cup starts at Homestead) and just one Top-5 finish to his name, he'll need to re-write his tumultuous Homestead history. But after the season he's had, would you really be surprised if he kept the magic going?
A look at Martin Truex Jr heading into the Sprint Cup Championship

2015 Rearview: Despite a career year from the 35 year old driver out of Mayetta, New Jersey, Martin Truex Jr is considered the "underdog" of the Championship Four. It's a spot the single-car team has found themselves in all year, and they've responded with career marks in Top-5 and Top-10 finishes for Truex.  A memorable start to the season saw the No. 78 driver score a Top-10 finish in 15 of his first 16 races, highlighted by a win at the Tricky Triangle in the beginning of June. Things tapered off somewhat in the second half of the season, but Truex has rounded into form through the first nine Chase races with five Top-10 finishes and a third place showing at another 1.5 miler, Charlotte. 

His Career: It's truly been a career year for the 12-year vet. As someone who's never finished higher that 11th in points in his entire career, NASCAR's Cinderella Man now has a chance to win it all. In a season where four teams (Stewart-Haas, Hendrick, Penske, and Joe Gibbs) took home 34 of the 35 races, Truex has the chance to lead a single-car team to a NASCAR Championship for the first time since Alan Kulwicki in 1992. 

History at Homestead: This "underdog" has got some HMS bite. His average finish at the track (10.0) is stronger than either Gordon or Busch, and he's finished sixth or better in three of his last four South Florida contests. His best finish (2nd) came in the Ford 400 back in 2006. 

A look at the chances of Keselowski, Harvick and Logano this weekend in Phoenix.

Last Week: After leading a track-record 312 of the race's 334 laps in dominating fashion, Brad Keselowski saw his Championship Round ticket flutter away into the Texas air when Jimmie Johnson took the lead with four laps to go. While the AAA Texas 500 was a rebound from the 32-place finish at Martinsville the week before, Keselowski still sits 19 points behind the fourth place Martin Trux Jr. Still, with a Top-10 finish in six of his last seven races at Phoenix point towards a strong showing from the No. 2 in the final Eliminator Round race.

Earlier This Year: It was the Kevin Harvick show. And the year before that. And the year before that. The defending champ has four straight wins at the one miler, and his seven total victories in Avondale are more than any other driver. Ever. Things look like a lock for the No.4 driver, but just remember -  folks were saying the same thing about Jimmie Johnnson heading into Dover.

Who To Watch: After dominating the Contender Round, things haven't gone as planned for Joey Logano's team during the first two legs of the Eliminator Round. Sitting 63 points behind Truex, his game plan is simple: win and get in. With four straight Top-10 showings at Phoenix, only Harvick and Keselowski have collected more points at the track during that span. Look for him to go after more than just points this time around.

A look at Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch this weekend in Texas

Last Week: It took 33 races, but the Jeff Gordon swan song hit its highest note yet with a dramatic win in Martinsville. Leading 35 laps en route to his ninth grandfather clock, the future Hall of Famer described the victory “unlike anything he'd ever experienced.” But if we know Gordon, he's already turned his focus to the Great American Speedway. His lone Texas win came back in 2009, but he's nabbed two top-10's in his last three races at the Fort Worth track, so the odds of him building on his Chase momentum are strong.

Earlier This Year: Stop me if you've heard this before, but Kevin Harvick was certainly one to watch at the Duck Commander 500 earlier this year. While the No. 4 driver does have three wins on the year, it feels like he could have had a dozen. One of his twenty top-5 showings came back in April at Texas with a second place finish. While he has yet to find a win at there, his average finish is stronger than any other driver remaining in the Chase. This weekend is a good opportunity for the defending champ to secure a spot in the Championship Four and defend his title.

Who To Watch: There was a time earlier this season when it felt like Kyle Busch could run the table on the 2015 NASCAR Season. Momentum has slowed down a bit since the Joe Gibbs driver won four in a five race stretch back in June/July, but this weekend could be one where he kicks the tires and lights those Chase fires. With a win, eight top-5 finishes and a fourth place showing in last year's AAA Texas 500, he has a better Texas resume than any remaining Chase driver.

A look at the chances for Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon this weekend in Martinsville.

Last Week: Get your brooms out, cause we had ourselves a sweep. Logano took not one, not two but all three of the Contender Round races, culminating with his victory at Talladega. With four top-5's in just 13 Martinsville starts, including three in a row, he has the ability to keep the streak going this weekend.

Earlier This Year: While it was Denny Hamlin who took home his fifth grandfather clock after winning the STP 500 back in March, it was actually Kevin Harvick who paced all drivers with 154 laps led. Gordon is the only remaining Chase driver with more top-10 finishes at Martinsville, and he's earned three in his last four contests at the track.

Who To Watch: The same guy eyes have been on all season long. Jeff Gordon. IIt's hard to find a track on the circuit at which the ol' 24 hasn’t had a long line of success… that history just hasn't translated into a 2015 win. But with eight wins, seven poles and more top-10 finishes than any other driver at the half-miler, maybe Jeff can punch his ticket to the Championship round with a win at one of his favorite tracks.