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.
The action was fast and furious during Fan Appreciation Weekend at Richmond International Raceway. The energy from the track to the crowd was electric as sparks flew, tempers flared and 40 of the world’s most talented athletes roared around America’s Premier Short Track in one of the more memorable NASCAR regular season finales.

From the dramatic four-wide salute to furious four-wide racing, it was some of the best racing of the NASCAR season. The consensus from fans, drivers, and media was the action is truly back at “The Action Track!”

The Action Track is Back

Credit: SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

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.

The Presidents Own, The National United States Marine Band, made their RIR debut with ONE National Anthem performance for the record books.

Military and service member appreciation was everywhere tonight, including the veteran jump team who flew into the RIR Infield with TWO American Flags in tow.

The Air Force was BACK! And their flyover during the National Anthem, combined with the passovers by the Bandit Flight Team during God Bless America and the Command, gave our Pre-Race Show THREE flyovers.


The penultimate moment for Fan Appreciation Weekend happened right before the green flag waved. The entire Sprint Cup field went FOUR-wide for the first time in Series history, saluting the fans for a fantastic 2016 season.
Dear Fans-
Welcome to Richmond International Raceway’s Fan Appreciation Weekend!

RIR has always been one of my very favorite tracks. It produces some of the best, most exciting, door-to-door racing in NASCAR and I was fortunate enough to have a lot of success there, with six wins, 22 top-fives, 30 top-10s and over 3000 laps led.

In fact, Victory Lane at RIR was where my favorite car, Midnight got its name. At Team Penske, we had a tradition in which a car didn’t earn a name until it won a race. Well, in September of 1992 at Richmond, we won a hard fought victory over Mark Martin and Darrell Waltrip in the debut of a brand new car, chassis number PSC-009.

We were in Victory Lane—around the stroke of midnight—when my PR representative, Tom Roberts, suggested that we name the new car “Midnight.” I agreed and from there, a legend was born. Midnight went on to be one of the most famous cars in NASCAR history, with 13 wins, 25 top-fives and almost 4,000 laps led in its 31 races. All of that success began at Richmond International Raceway.

Rusty Wallace took home the 1992 Miller Genuine Draft 400 at RIR
But it’s not just my on-track success at Richmond that makes it one of my favorite venues. I really love the city of Richmond as well; it just has a great vibe. Richmond has so many awesome restaurants and entertainment options that make it a favorite stop for all of the drivers and teams.

Even more than that though, YOU—the Richmond racing fans—are some of the very best fans in all of NASCAR. The support that you show for our sport—as well as the passion and loyalty you show to your favorite drivers and teams—really means a lot to me and to everyone involved in our sport.

From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank all of you for your support of NASCAR and Richmond International Raceway. We’re looking forward to making even more racing history in Richmond this weekend!

Best regards-

Rusty Wallace
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. 

We’re adding more appearances to this list daily so you can plan your weekend schedule accordingly. (Pssst… this doesn’t even include the surprises we have up our sleeves!)

Don't forget, NASCAR’s future stars will be signing autographs from 2-2:45 pm on Friday afternoon. Show your Virginia529 College Savings 250 ticket at the Virginia529 midway display starting at 10:00 am to get a wristband for access. (Limited to the first 350 fans.)
20 RIDE will be kicking off the pre-race festivities with a concert on the track on Saturday night. From southern rock, to Caribbean rhythm and sultry bedroom ballads, these good ol' boys from upstate Carolina definitely know how to entertain. Pick up a Driver Intro pass to see ‘em up close!
Follow us on social media to keep up with all of the appearances, surprise giveaways, and behind-the-scenes content throughout the weekend. Plus, #ThanksFans will have all your Fan Appreciation news from around the sport (think: NASCAR, partners, media, and other fans).
Make sure you’ve got those grills and coolers packed! With acres of free parking and an entire day to prepare for the race, tailgating at Richmond is some of the best on the circuit. See more info here and tweet us when you’re cooking up something delicious…we’re probably hungry.

What could make race weekend even better? How about: garage access, fan hospitality, pit passes, or seeing your favorite drivers up close! If you're looking for a mix of everything, check out 3-Wide Hospitality. It includes a Saturday pre-race pit pass, plus access to a climate-controlled fan hospitality area where you can enjoy food, festivities and special Q&A's with Sprint Cup drivers Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch.
The midway, a fan-favorite every race weekend, will be chock full of fun displays. Show your Toyota, Lexus, or Scion key at the Toyota Owners Hub to grab a quick bite and relax before heading back out to see the Monster Jump Team, Miller Lite Party Zone, or riding the Toyota Ferris Wheel. Bookmark the Midway map here and plan your route.
Whether you’re at the track or at home, our goal is to make sure you feel appreciated. Keep your eyes peeled for signage everywhere – although we don’t think you’re going to have any trouble spotting these:
- Fan Appreciation Restart Zone
- Painted apron
- Car decals
- Miss Sprint Cup’s firesuit
- Pit road
Our friends at Sprint couldn’t be more excited to say #ThanksFans for years of support and lifelong memories. Visit the Sprint display in the Midway to see the Sprint Cup trophy up close and appearances by Miss Sprint Cup. They will also be giving away $5 concessions vouchers AND randomly choosing fans to join them in the Sprint Fan Suite for the race! (While supplies last.)
M&M’S is literally rolling out the red carpet on Friday and Saturday. Snag FREE M&M’S, see Kyle’s No. 18 showcar, meet the M&M’S characters, and more! Don’t miss the gate giveaways and more #ThanksFans opportunities all weekend long.
The flagship event of Fan Appreciation Weekend, Gridside Live! will give you unprecedented access to your favorite drivers – FREE for all ticket holders, from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm on the frontstretch. (RICHMOND NATION members can get in early at 1:00 pm and get a free gift.) Check out the schedule here to see when your favorites are appearing.