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ICYMI: The Top-Five Stories From The Coca-Cola 600

On Sunday night, NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series drivers competed in the longest race of the season, testing both physical and mental endurance. As the track conditions changed throughout the evening, fans saw some drivers battle up through the field while others faded into the background. Carl Edwards won the fuel mileage game and scored his first win at Joe Gibbs Racing, but plenty of other action happened.

In case you missed it, here are the top-five stories from the Coca-Cola 600:

1. @MartinTruex_Jr Falls Short: Martin Truex Jr. dominated much of Sunday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but still was not able to capture the win. Despite having intermittent radio issues, he led 131 of the 400 laps – the most of the night. With around 20 laps to go, Truex was forced to pit from the lead for fuel. Carl Edwards claimed the lead then and successfully stretched out his fuel long enough to claim the win, relegating Truex to a fifth place finish.

“I didn’t even think fuel mileage strategy was an option,” said Truex. “I felt I only needed to pass the No. 11 (Hamlin). We had a very fast car all night. It really hurts knowing that you had the fastest car and didn’t win. I don’t know what to do about fuel mileage races. I’ve never ever in my entire career come out on the right end of them.”

2. @GBiffle Earns a Season-Best Finish: It’s been no secret that Roush Fenway Racing has struggled this year, but last night Greg Biffle was able to utilize the speed his team found last weekend to come home with a second place finish. Biffle consistently ran in the top-10 all night and is now looking to capitalize on the new speed next weekend at Dover.

“I’ve got my fingers crossed that we at least — with all the simulation and all the things we have, hopefully, we can pinpoint what we changed and what made the difference,” said Biffle. “And then continue to try and work in that same direction and then hopefully each racetrack is different, Dover is definitely different, so we’ll see if those changes we’ve made, improvements, will continue on.”

3. @JimmieJohnson’s Multiple Spins: Jimmie Johnson’s car was so loose Sunday night that he went spinning across the track not one, but two times. The first spin came within the first 100 laps of the race, but Johnson managed to make an incredible save and prevent any damage to the car. After racing his way back through the field, he found himself sitting fifth around Lap 273 when the car went for a spin again. This time Johnson made contact with the inside wall and was forced to visit the garage for repairs. He would return to the track, but finish in 40th place, 30 laps down.

“For us the car was just really loose. It was fast, but as soon as I would get close to somebody else, my car would bug out and get so edgy. Lost it twice, about had it saved both times. Once we would get in clean air and get strung out I could fly up through the field and went from last to fifth there,” said Johnson. “Then I had a lap car on the outside and a car I had been stalking on the bottom and then I tried to roll into the top behind the lap car. The thing just bugged out in the dirty air and around it went again. A tough day to try to get the balance right in the car.”

4. @DennyHamlin’s Rough Night: Denny Hamlin may have won the Sprint All-Star race, but he was unable to repeat that performance on Sunday. Hamlin ran up towards the front but dealt with a weird issue in his car where it acted like there was no exhaust pipe. He went on to lead 53 laps of the race but radioed over with about 60 laps to go saying he wasn’t feeling well. Also having to pit for fuel, Hamlin would finish the night eighth and then head straight for the infield care center. It was later released Hamlin was suffering from severe dehydration.

“I knew when my knee was sore afterward that it was probably fluids,” he said. “My off-day was 36 holes of golf and a full tennis match. Probably over did it a little bit this weekend. I think the dehydration led to a migraine and just felt nauseous the last 100 laps or so.”

5. @KyleBusch Makes All 600 Miles: Having just returned from the injuries he sustained in the NASCAR XFINITY season opener at Daytona, it was unclear whether Kyle Busch would make it through all 600 miles on Sunday night. The team had @Erik_Jones on standby in case Busch needed a reprieve, but it turned out to be unnecessary. Busch raced all 400 laps, getting as high as second place, before finishing the night in 11th place due to a late-race pit for fuel.

“I can’t say enough about everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing, everyone pulling for me and cheering for me and helping me get back into this race car, and to get out there and have a strong run means a lot. Real proud of my guys,” said Busch. “Adam Stevens made some great calls tonight and got ourselves in some really good spots and up towards the front. We raced up towards the front. We battled side-by-side, door-to-door with guys for a little while. Felt good. I feel good, and I admit I’ve probably got a little left foot soreness, but other than that, everything is pretty hunky-dory.”

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ICYMI: The Top-Five Stories From NASCAR’s Biggest Night

Saturday night marked one of NASCAR’s biggest events, as the sport’s best competed in the 2015 Sprint Cup All-Star Race. With a million dollars on the line, drivers left it all out on the track. @DennyHamlin scored the big bucks and brought Joe Gibbs Racing its first All-Star Race win, but that’s not all that happened.

In case you missed it here, are the top-five stories from the 2015 All-Star Race:

1. Who Made the Show: With three spots open in the All-Star lineup, drivers not automatically in the show still had a chance to make the event. Two of those spots were given to the winners of the two Sprint Showdown segments, while the remaining opening went to the Sprint fan vote. So who made it? @GBiffle made it after dominating all 20 laps in the first segment of the Showdown. @ClintBowyer secured the second spot after leading 17 of the remaining 20 laps. As for the fan vote, that honor went to @DanicaPatrick for the second time. Patrick is the first driver to win the fan vote multiple times, as she previously won it in 2013.

“I’m extremely fortunate to have some great fans. They’re very active all across all the social media platforms and just in general cheering for me out loud at the racetrack,” said Patrick.

“I’m just extremely fortunate. I don’t take them for granted for a second. That’s why I want to do well, ’cause I want to do well for all those people that wear my shirt and wave my flag and wear my hat.”

2. Brad @Keselowski’s Million Dollar Speeding Ticket: Brad Keselowski won two of the five segments on Saturday night and looked like he had the car to beat, but a costly speeding penalty took him out of contention when it mattered most. The driver of the No. 02 Miller Lite Ford Fusion got caught speeding down pit road during the fourth (and only mandatory) pit stop of the night. With just 10 laps in Segment five, there wasn’t enough time for Keselowski to recover. He went on to finish in ninth place.

“I knew when I came out of my pit stall and the 11 was pulling out with me that I either beat him to that line or lose the race, and the penalty was I was three-tenths of a mile an hour over the speed limit, but I told my crew chief I’d rather go down swinging than take a strike and wonder what might have been. I swung and missed,” said Keselowski.

3. @KyleBusch makes his return: Kyle Busch made his return to racing this weekend at the Sprint All-Star race after sustaining serious injuries during a crash at the opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway earlier this year. Busch dealt with a speeding penalty and loose wheel during the race, but overall had a great return to the sport and finished sixth.

“It was really good. I learned some things. I think we also learned some stuff, myself and Adam Stevens, about this racecar, for me, and getting around here in Charlotte. So we can take some of that next week and look forward to the Coke 600,” said Busch.

“All in all it was a good evening. We were clicking off some spots, moving ourselves forward. Felt really good about things. I got busted for speeding on pit road. In that same segment, we ended up having a loose wheel. At least it was two things biting us in one segment, not two things biting us in different segments. That was a real positive.”

4. Biffle’s Rough Night: Many fans were keeping their eyes on Greg Biffle Saturday night, as the Roush Fenway Racing driver dominated the first segment of the Sprint Showdown and secured one of his best starting sports of the season when he qualified second for the All-Star Race. However, his struggles returned pretty much right after the drop of the green flag when he got into the wall twice in the first of five segments. While he remained on the lead lap, Biffle’s car was just too loose for him to be in contention for the win and had to settle for a 13th place finish.

5. @JeffGordonWeb’s Final All-Star Race: Jeff Gordon had a historic night last night, as it was his last All-Star Race as a competitor. He ran up in the top-five for most of the night, but just didn’t have enough balance in his car to grab the win. Gordon went on to finish in fourth place, but is already looking ahead to next week.

“Obviously we came here to win and this is kind of a win or go home type of situation, but we also know that this is a test session for next week. I thought we showed signs of some good speed, learned some things on some restarts and got a couple of things we can work on to be even better for next week,” said Gordon.

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ICYMI: The Top-Five Stories From Kansas Speedway

It was another rainy race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series during Saturday night’s SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway. This time, however, NASCAR did manage to get the race in after a slight delay, much to the appreciation of the fans. @JimmieJohnson checked off his third win of the season, but plenty of other stories came out of the 400 mile event as well.

In case you missed it, here are the top-five stories from NASCAR’s first visit to Kansas Speedway:

1. Weather Once Again Affects The Outcome: Once again, the rain played a factor in determining who won the race. This time, the weather hit just before Lap 100 of 267. Instantly cars were brought to pit road, and the red flag was displayed due to the lightning that accompanied the rain. The break in racing went on to last for 2 hours and 16 minutes. When racing resumed, the change in the track was evident and some drivers who were players up front earlier, like @KaseyKahne, found their cars struggling to remain fast. This opened the door for Johnson and other top finishers to make their way to the front.

2. @Erik_Jones Makes His Sprint Cup Debut: This weekend marked Erik Jones’ official Sprint Cup debut, and he certainly lived up to expectations. Jones was the fastest in the final practice before qualifying 12th for the race. He fell back at the beginning of the night while dealing with some radio issues but immediately moved up after fixing them. He went on to consistently race up in the top-10, even leading a lap during a green flag pit stop cycle. However, the rookie in him did show when Jones just plain lost control of the car late in the race and got into the wall. The crew was able to repair the damage after a trip to the garage, but it wasn’t fast enough to get back up front. Jones went on to finish in 40th place.

“I learned a lot about racing up front and racing with these guys. It’s definitely nice to be as fast as we were, and we had a great M&M’s Camry, but I just got loose off (turn) four and lost it,” said Jones.

“All my fault, guess I have to go back and figure it out. You know, we had a good night before that. Something to take from it. I’m ready to do another one — I hope I get another shot.”

READ MORE: Jones Left with Plenty to Digest

3. No Hometown Winners This Time: Despite three drivers hailing from the Kansas/Missouri area, no “hometown” driver was able to capture the win Saturday night. @ClintBowyer started and finished in 21st place after dealing with handling issues all night long. Carl Edwards had a fast car to start with, but loose conditions and a vibration from his car caused him to fall off the regular pit cycle and finish in 20th place. @JamieMcMuarry was the highest finishing driver from the area when he secured a 12th place finish. He was also fast from the start but had too loose of a car to grab the win.

“Not what I wanted at my home track. Just disappointing. I know these guys worked hard to give us a good 5-hour ENERGY Toyota for this weekend,” said Bowyer.

4. @JoeyLogano’s Multiple Pit Penalties: Joey Logano had to overcome multiple pit road penalties in order to secure his fifth place finish. Logano had a fast car and even led 29 laps, but found himself having to race up from the back of the field twice. He and his crew were penalized during the race for being over the wall too soon and later for hitting pit road before it was open. While the penalties didn’t hurt his finish, this is something Logano and his team will need to fix before the Chase starts.

“Passing all those cars was fun but the rest of it we just did a terrible job of executing this race. We made mistake after mistake,” said Logano.

“Whether it was me on pit road or everything we did it seemed. We had a fast race car, and that is what saved us. Execution was not very good tonight, and we all just have to raise our game a little bit and understand why we made mistakes and clean it up going forward.”

READ MORE: Logano’s Night of Pit Woes

5. @GBiffle Rallies To a Top-12: For a while, it looked like Greg Biffle was going to have another less than stellar finish when he found himself racing in the 23rd position, one lap down, early on in the event. He had started the night in seventh place, but the car turned out to just be too free with no front turn. However, after the rain delay and getting back on the lead lap, Biffle and his team made some big adjustments and got the car to move in the right direction. Biffle finished the night in 12th place, which also happens to be his best finish since grabbing 10th place in Daytona.

“It was a bit of an up and down night for us. I am really proud of the 16 team. We kept adjusting on the car as the night went on, and we were able to come home 12th,” said Biffle.

“We just missed out on the top-10, which is an improvement from where we have been lately, so that is a good sign. We just have to keep working on it, and I know they guys will. It is a little bit of momentum in the right direction, so we will take it and move on to Charlotte.”

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ICYMI: The Top-Five Stories from an Action-Packed Talladega Superspeedway

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series made its first visit to Talladega Superspeedway this past Sunday, and the racing proved to be just as action-packed as fans could have hoped for. ‘The Big One” made an appearance, and underdogs made surprising runs to the front of the field. Oh, and @DaleJr won in a place that could easily be dubbed as Jr. Nation’s headquarters.

In case you missed it, here are the top-five stories coming out of Sunday’s Geico 500:

1. “The Big One” Hits Early: Talladega is known for producing “The Big One,” or a wreck where it seems like half the field gets taken out of contention. This race was no different, except that it came early on and towards the front of the field. On Lap 47, Paul Menard tried to pass @TBayne6 on the outside while @KurtBusch crept up on the inside, causing the driver of the No. 6 Advocare Ford Fusion to go for a spin from eighth place. From there, the rest of the field got stacked up, and 15 cars came away with some damage. Among those involved were @KevinHarvick, @KaseyKahne, @DanicaPatrick, @Gbiffle, Ricky @StenhouseJr, @JoeyLogano, and @KyleLarsonRacin,

“I thought we had a really fast car compared to Daytona, and I thought we were gonna have a shot to run top five here today,” said Bayne.

“We made our way to the front a couple times and then the 27 just pulled down really tight on our door. When you have that much momentum going by on the outside, you’ve got to have a pocket in between your cars or it’s going to suck you around. I hate that everybody got torn up, but especially our Advocare Ford.”

2. Hendrick Motorsports Dominates: Despite not having all four cars finishing up in the top half of the field, Hendrick Motorsports clearly dominated the race on Sunday. Dale Earnhardt Jr., @JimmieJohnson, @JeffGordonWeb and Kasey Kahne all at least lead one lap during the event, combining for a total of 167 laps led out of the possible 188. While Earnhardt Jr. and Johnson finished first and second respectively, Kahne found himself as a victim of the Lap 47 wreck and was relegated to a 34th place finish. Gordon had his race go south when a speeding penalty under the final pit stop of the race sent him to the back of the field, where he then got swept up in a last lap wreck.

“This win had a lot of responsibility behind it with Greg (Ives) being the new crew chief.  We got a lot of new guys over the wall, new guys in the garage. A lot of changes. Brand-new sponsor, a lot of pressure there, trying to get those guys to Victory Lane.  My dad’s birthday.  A lot of things really happen at once when we cross the finish line. The pressure of trying to get in the Chase, knowing we’re locked in. Such a relief,” said Earnhardt Jr. of his win.

“Just winning. You just want to win. You want to win as often as possible. So this was really emotional. I don’t really get too emotional about wins. I get excited and super happy about them. But this one was certainly different. Just being at Talladega, I love this racetrack, the history here.”

3. Ryan @Blaney Shines: Despite running a part-time schedule, Ryan Blaney and his Wood Brothers Racing team were in contention to win from the drop of the green flag. The team qualified third for the main event and pretty much stayed in the top-10 for much of the race. While running third with less than 10 laps to go, it looked like Blaney was going to have a shot to win. However, when @DennyHamlin pulled out from behind him to try to make a move, Blaney was left without any help and had to scramble to claim his fourth place finish. While it’s not a win, the rookie driver was pleased with his run.

“We really just kind of were lucky to be in that position towards the end of the race. I think we made a couple good moves about three-quarters of the way through. Guys started to go with us a little bit more. Luckily the moves we were making worked out to where guys trust you a little bit more. That helped us get in the right spot for the end of the race,” said Blaney.

“I knew Denny was going to make a move. I thought he was going to do it later than what he did. I didn’t think he had a big enough run to get to us, pull out and pass us.  Luckily Sam Hornish took me up there on the front stretch, and we were able to get back up through there. Not a bad day after blowing up Atlanta, Daytona and Texas, it’s nice to get a good finish.”

4. Richard Childress Racing’s Fire Issues: For the second week in a row, Richard Childress Racing found itself dealing with fire issues. Last week, three crew members from @Brendan62 (Gaughan)’s team were injured when a fire broke out on pit road during the XFINITY race. This week, @RyanJNewman’s crew faced a similar situation on pit road, however with a much smaller fire to deal with. No one was injured. Later in the race, @austindillon3 also went up in flames when his engine blew with just 31 laps to go. While Newman was able to recover from his issue and grab a top-10 finish in seventh place, these are not the kind of races the team will want moving forward.

5. Carl Edwards Has Some Words: Carl Edwards looked like he was going to be getting his second top-10 finish of the season with a strong run at Talladega Superspeedway. That came to a stop on the final lap of the race when contact from @CJMearsGang sent Edwards spinning into the grass and then back up the track. While no other cars hit Edwards, he and his team expressed their displeasure at the fact that no one lifted as they went by him.

“That was frustrating. I was driving down here, and I thought we were going to have a good run and I thought we’d get a top-five and as he (Casey Mears) pushed and pushed I was just hoping he would let go,” said Edwards.

“I tried to save it, and I have to apologize to everybody for my language on the radio – I was really upset as I was saving it. There were people going by 100-plus mph and they never checked up. I really think that’s the most dangerous thing in the sport right now at these places. When there’s a wreck, guys have to get on the brake or we’re going to have a lot of problems here. We don’t want to see that.”

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ICYMI: The Top-Five Stories From NASCAR’s First Stop at Richmond International Raceway

Once again, rain played a role in the race weekend’s festivities, pushing what was supposed to be the Sprint Cup Series’ first night race of the season at Richmond International Raceway to Sunday afternoon. Despite the delay, fans still got treated to some great racing once the action got underway. Sunday was full of surprises, from some notable drivers failing to be even remotely competitive to some underdogs making their way through the field.

In case you missed it, here are the top-five stories from Sunday’s Toyota Owners  400:

1. @KurtBusch Dominates: After having one of the fastest cars on the track and just not getting the finishes to show it, Kurt Busch finally put a complete race together and pulled off the win. Busch started the day in third and only moved forward from there, taking the lead from @JoeyLogano on Lap 95. From there he dominated the rest of the day, leading 291 of the 400 laps – the most he’s ever led in a single race.

“My thought was you’ve got to go slower to go faster. I think that I might have been driving too hard, too much of a chip on my shoulder, so to speak, to start the year.  But it was playing out well.  I mean, we came out of the box at Phoenix with a fifth-place finish and a chance to win, backed it up with a chance to win Fontana, brought it home third, and then a few weeks of missing it a little bit, and why were we missing it?  Well, maybe because I was just overdriving the car,” said Busch on why this week was different for him.

2. Struggles for Joe Gibbs Racing: After dominating the previous short track stops on the schedule, Joe Gibbs Racing found itself struggling to be competitive at Richmond. @MattKenseth was the organization’s only driver consistently in the top-10 all day, quietly bringing home a seventh place finish. The team’s next highest finishing driver was Carl Edwards in 19th. @DennyHamlin and @DavidRagan went on to finish two laps down in 22nd and 23rd respectively. All three drivers reported handling issues that were never quite fixed during the race.

“I felt like we were pretty solid on Friday, and obviously a lot has changed since Friday – track conditions and weather – but when they dropped the green flag we just weren’t as good,” said Ragan, continuing to sub for @KyleBusch.

“At the end of the day, we just didn’t start that good and we really worked hard at it. Yeah, disappointed at one of the 18’s best tracks and one of my favorite tracks. That was a disappointing day to get. Hopefully, we learn from it, and these guys can be a little better here in September.”

3. Hendrick Motorsports Shines: With the addition of @ChaseElliott, Hendrick Motorsports faced the daunting task of having five drivers to worry about in Sunday’s race. However, when all was said and done, the five would all finish inside the Top-20. @JimmieJohnson and @KaseyKahne had busy days, as the two qualified 36th and 40th, but managed to place within the Top-10. @JeffGordonWeb also ran inside the top-10 all day before finishing in a solid eighth place. @DaleJr had more of a rocky race and could never quite get his car to handle how he wanted, but managed to rally to a 14th place finish. Chase Elliott had quite the impressive day, competing in just his second Sprint Cup Series event. The rookie met his goal of finishing all the laps while also racing up towards the top-10 before he finished 16th.

“Overall I felt like we had a really solid day. Really the whole weekend for us here on the Sprint Cup side was solid. I thought we had a good car throughout practice, was able to run well in race trim, and our real struggle was trying to go fast for qualifying,” said Elliott.

“Guys made good adjustments for qualifying to get us in the show, and our car today had great long-run speed. Unfortunately, these races never ran to the long run. It’s always going to be a short run to the finish, and I didn’t tell them to do the right things for that last stop to run a short run. Lesson learned, and we’ll try to get better for the next one.”

4. Smoke’s Day Cut Short: After scoring his first top-10 of the season last week, @TonyStewart looked to continue his success at a track he earlier deemed as one of his favorites. Stewart started the day off from 13th place, shuffling in and out of the top-10 for much of the day. However, his day ended early after contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr. sent Smoke spinning on Lap 358. Stewart’s car would not restart, relegating him to a 41st place finish. Stewart declined to comment on the incident, but his frustrating was shown when broadcast cameras caught him throwing his helmet into his hauler.

5. @ClintBowyer’s Top-10 Day: Clint Bowyer scored his first top-10 since his seventh place finish at Daytona International Speedway at the start of the season. Bowyer still had to fight for his ninth place finish, as he made contact with @DanicaPatrick on pit road early in the race. His front right side had some slight damage, which threw off his car handling a little bit. Despite that incident, Bowyer rallied back, earning a solid finish and a jump to 14th place in the standings.

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ICYMI: The Top-Five Stories From A Rainy Bristol Motor Speedway

Well, as the saying goes, it’s Bristol, baby. Sunday’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes and Stand Up To Cancer at Bristol Motor Speedway was one wet, action-packed race from the start. With the weather adding an intensity to the already temperamental racing, fans saw everything from favorites being pushed out of the picture to underdogs making some surprising finishes. @MattKenseth found his way back to Victory Lane, but that’s definitely not all that happened.

In case you missed it, here are the top-five stories from Bristol Motor Speedway:

1. Rain, Rain Go Away: Rain was a factor in Sunday’s Sprint Cup event, causing major delays throughout the day. The unfavorable weather caused the red flag to be brought out three different times during the race, with the longest break being for four hours after drivers completed the first 22 laps of the race. The final red flag of the night came out right before drivers got to attempt what would be the first and only Green-White-Checkered finish. NASCAR worked to save the track to give fans the finish they deserved, which they finally got when Matt Kenseth held off a charging @JimmieJohnson and @JeffGordonWeb to score the victory.

“I thought that was a good call (for NASCAR to dry the track under the final red flag).  For me, I don’t know, I think last year didn’t it end yellow-white-checkered or something?” said Kenseth.

“At the end of the day, especially if you end up winning, you want to finish all the laps. You’d rather win on the racetrack obviously than win under yellow. I think if it would have totally lost the racetrack and it would have downpoured, I’m sure they would have called it, but I thought overall it was a good decision.”

2. Team Penske Crashes Early: It was over before it started for Team Penske on Sunday when teammates Brad @Keselowski and @JoeyLogano got tangled up in a wreck on Lap 19. While Keselowski later cited the rain as a reason for the wreck, replays showed him getting loose and running out of room while trying to pass a lapped car on the track. Logano just happened to be the car too close to Keselowski when he lost it, as they were both running up in the top-10 at the time. Neither would be able to recover from the accident, as Keselowski went on to finish 35th and Logano 40th.

“I would like to blame the rain, but I honestly don’t know. Usually when a car gets that far sideways and it’s kind of out of nowhere there’s a reason behind it. I just really hate that I tore up my teammate in the process. That’s really a bummer,” said Keselowski.

“It’s a bummer for everybody at Team Penske to tear up both cars that way. I hate racing in the rain, but I understand the position that NASCAR is in. They want to get the race going, and this is one of those days where it’s gonna just keep raining off and on, and we’re trying to get as many laps in at a time as we can to give the fans the best race possible, but we’re racing in the rain to do it and that’s what happens.”

3. @Erik_Jones To The Rescue: Erik Jones unexpectedly raced in his first Sprint Cup race on Sunday when he was called in to sub for @DennyHamlin who claimed to be suffering from neck spasms. While it was Jones’ first time in the Sprint Cup Series, it will not be cited as his debut, as Hamlin started the race and ran 22 of the 500 laps. It was during that first long red flag break that Hamlin made the decision not to complete the event. Jones was then flown into Bristol Motor Speedway and thrown in the No. 11 FedEx Toyota. He went on to use the experience as a learning one, trying to gain knowledge of how a Cup car runs while also dealing with comfort issues – Hamlin’s steering wheel was too big and causing his arms to cramp. Jones went on to finish in 26th place, six laps down but proud of what he accomplished.

“Obviously, it was a huge learning experience overall. The FedEx Camry was pretty good, but it just took me so long – really up until the red flag and kind of sitting and thinking about it and really figuring out what I had and what I had to do different from the Xfinity cars was just huge,” said Jones.

“I learned a ton. I wish we could start the night over and do it all again. It was an interesting situation for sure. I never turned a lap in one of these cars until the green flag dropped. It was interesting, and I learned a ton. I can’t wait to try it again.”

4. Streaks Are Broken: Coming into the race weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, Joey Logano, @KevinHarvick and @MartinTrux_Jr were the only drivers to have top-10 finishes in all the races so far this season. All three streaks came to an end on Sunday. Logano got caught up with teammate Keselowski in the previously mentioned accident. Truex Jr. had a rocky night as well, dealing with loose wheels and multiple on-track accidents. He went on to finish 29th, seven laps down. For a while, Harvick looked to be in good shape, leading 184 laps before a wreck in the last 200 sent him to the garage for repairs. He would finish the night 38th, 43 laps down. Despite the broken streaks, all three drivers remain in the top-three spots of the standings.

5. Comebacks, The Theme of the Night: Multiple drivers in the top-10 had comeback stories to accompany their finishes. Jeff Gordon, who finished third, was two laps down thanks to a loose wheel earlier in the race. Jimmie Johnson, the runner-up of the event, was involved in two wrecks but made his way back to the front thanks to some strategic pit calls. Ricky @StenhouseJr scraped the wall in the opening laps but went on to finish in fourth place, a season-best finish for him. Finally, @KyleLarsonRacin went from leading 90 laps in the closing segment of the race to being forced to pit and going one lap down, to finishing seventh.

“I’m very pleased the way we finished. It certainly wasn’t easy and was filled full of ups and downs and emotions. You know, the whole weekend really was. We were very disappointed in the way we qualified. I didn’t get the best out of the car. But we were just lacking some speed, as well. And in the race, I thought we were really, really good.” said Gordon after the race.

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Editorial

ICYMI: The Top-Five Stories to Come From Texas Motor Speedway

Saturday night marked the Sprint Cup Series’ first night race and trip to Texas this season. The race had all the makings of a great one, with hard racing, comeback stories and a battle for the win. @JimmieJohnson earned his second victory of the season with his run in the Duck Commander 500, but there are plenty of other stories to discuss.

In case you missed it, here are the top-five stories from Texas Motor Speedway:

1. Carl Edwards Finally Gets His Finish: Carl Edwards was finally able to snap up his first top-10 finish of the season when he placed 10th in Saturday’s race. He previously had solid runs this season but could never seem to put together a complete race that translated into a good finish. Edwards raced as high as second during the Duck Commander 500 but couldn’t hold onto the position during the final laps. Regardless, Edwards is happy with the result.

“I want to make a statement. I just appreciate Stanley being a part of this. This is a big race for us,” said Edwards.

“We had a good run, and we just – that last restart kind of got us, but the kids were – it was cool, got out of the car and saw the kids over there at the pit box, seemed like they had a good time. It’s not a win, but for us it is our first top-10, and we dug hard all day, and we had a lot of fun. It’s a good race track.

2. @ClintBowyer’s Roller Coaster Continues: Clint Bowyer’s rocky season continues as he finished 22nd during Saturday’s event. Bowyer started the night towards the back of the field in 27th and immediately slipped back even further after the drop of the green flag. He later had two loose tires at different periods of the race, forcing the driver to get off the regular pit cycle. Despite being four laps down at one point, Bowyer did manage to climb back onto the lead lap before the night was over.

3. An Abundance of Loose Wheels: One common theme during Saturday’s race included the popular problem of having a loose wheel. @DaleJr, Brad @Keselowski, @KaseyKahne and Clint Bowyer all reported having a loose wheel at one point in time (or twice if you’re Bowyer).  While Bowyer struggled to come back from his issues, the other three drivers were able to battle back to finish in the top-10. It may have not been too big of an issue this time, but it’s something that teams need to work on before the Chase.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Battles Back: It seemed like Dale Earnhardt Jr. had raced in every position on the track before he took home third place on Saturday night. After starting in the back, the driver drove up into the top-10 but was forced back after making a second pit stop under a caution to tighten some loose lug nuts. Earnhardt Jr. climbed back through the field for the second time that night, when he then radioed in about a vibration – which ended up being a loose wheel. Luckily for Earnhardt Jr., that vibration was fixed under a pit stop without any real loss of position. While it may not have been the smooth race the team was hoping for, Earnhardt Jr. was impressed by the effort.

“I just like racing here. I think it was a good show. It was raining debris out there for a while, and we were needing some green‑flag runs to get some of the track position back that we were having trouble keeping, and finally the rain shower of debris ended and we were able to finish the race,” said Earnhardt Jr.

“It’s a long race, and you get mentally prepared for it because it’s pretty tough. It feels almost like the 600 in some ways. It’s a slick old track, and the pace slows down. You work your guts out in there driving that car around there because the track is so slick, so it’s a very physical race, and I had a blast.”

5. A Step in the Right Direction: It’s no secret that it has been a tough year for Roush Fenway Racing, but Saturday’s race may have been a step in the right direction for the team. All three of its drivers finished in the top-20 and on the lead lap. Ricky @StenhouseJr was the highest finishing of the trio in 15th place. It wasn’t any easy road to get there, as Stenhouse Jr., @TBayne6, and @Gbiffle were all off the lead lap at one point of the race, but in the end, progress was made.

“I felt like it was one of our better mile-and-a-half races we’ve had in a while. We finished 18th, but we were a couple adjustments away from being a top-15 car. To have the 17, the 16 and myself all in the top 18 I think the scoreboard shows it was an improvement in itself,” said Trevor Bayne.

“Momentum isn’t gonna make faster race cars, but it just gives the guys that have been working their butts off for the last two years a little bit of hope. We need that, so it’s really good for us.”

EMAIL KAYLA AT kayla.darrow@popularspeed.com

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Editorial

ICYMI: The Top-Five Stories From Martinsville Speedway

Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway was a classic showing of the short track racing style. Drivers were beating and banging on each other all day long, causing multiple spins and intense battles for position. @DennyHamlin won the race, but plenty of other action occurred.

In case you missed it, here are the top-five stories coming from Sunday’s STP 500:

1. @JoeyLogano Fails to Sweep: Joey Logano went into Sunday’s race looking to completely sweep the weekend after winning both the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series poles and the truck race. Despite starting up front and leading 108 laps, it just wasn’t in the cards for the driver. Logano got spun out after contact with @MichaelAnnett on Lap 220. After being shuffled back, Logano managed to race his way through the field but was unable to reclaim the lead and finished third.

“Our car just wasn’t as fast as those guys. We had a decent race car, and we recovered from the spin halfway through the race and we worked our way back and slowly but surely got ourselves back in the top three,” said Logano.

“I gave it all I had from lap one until the end of it and just burned it up and lost too much steam.  Overall, it was still a great weekend with a couple poles and a truck win and an awesome third-place finish here, so overall it was a good weekend.”

2. Carl Edwards Falls Short: For a while during the race on Sunday it looked like Carl Edwards was finally going to get his first top-10 finish of the season. He spent the majority of the race up with the leaders, even leading 13 laps of his own. All that hard work then went down the drain when an inner valve stem got knocked out of his right rear tire, causing it to go down and Edwards to spin out. While there was no serious damage to the car, Edwards was unable to make up enough ground and settled for a 17th place finish.

3. @ReganSmith Subs Again: Regan Smith once again found himself subbing in a Sprint Cup race this weekend; this time for @KyleLarsonRacin. After starting from the back and racing his way towards the top-15, Smith found himself going for a spin on Lap 287. With only have minimal damage, Smith raced his way back up to 16th place before the end of the day. Despite the solid finish for the substitute driver, Smith felt he could have done better.

“The race car was fast. This is not one of my better race tracks. When they called on this, I was like ‘man why does it got to be Martinsville?’ But you know it was fun to drive it all day long. Chris (Heroy) and the guys they worked hard with me and obviously no two drivers are alike so I was trying to do a few things a little different. We just dug all day.”

4. An Off Day for Hendrick Motorsports: Whenever the series comes to Martinsville, Hendrick Motorsports is almost always in contention for the win. Sunday was not one of those times even though the team had five drivers in the field. @ChaseElliott made his highly anticipated Sprint Cup debut Sunday but received heavy damage from an accident that caused him to lose his power steering and need a new radiator. @DaleJr and @JimmieJohnson were also in the back all day due to steering issues and serious damage from multiple on-track accidents. The only silver lining for the team was a ninth place finish by @JeffGordonWeb after he came back from a late-race speeding penalty and an 11th place finish for @KaseyKahne.

“I have had a lot of good cars here. You’ve got to be toward the front and out of trouble. We weren’t there; we were in the back. And it’s high risk back there. It bit us today. I’m not going to second guess what we were doing. I feel like our team is strong. We won’t have any problem coming back,” said Earnhardt Jr.

5. Motor Problems for @AJDinger: One underdog driver who looked to be a true contender for the win in the early parts of the race was AJ Allmendinger. After starting the race from the 10th position, he found the speed needed to break into the top-five. Just before Lap 150, Allmendinger then came over the radio and reported a lot of smoke in the car. After a couple of pit stops to try to fix the issues, Allmendinger and his team were forced to the garage, ending their day and forcing them into a 43rd place finish.

“Motor issues of some sort, I’m not sure what the exact problem is with the motor. We had a fast Bush’s Beans Chevy just trying to be patient. There were a lot of guys already starting to wreck out there, so I was just trying to keep the car clean for the first 400 laps. We needed to work on it a little bit to be up there with the top three or four guys, but I felt like the car was pretty strong,” said Allmendinger.

“I noticed some smoke start rolling in the car and I could see it start out of the back of the car. I think when that was happening there had to be stuff starting to get on the tires and stuff. I just started losing speed and then by that point it was smoking so bad they (NASCAR) black flagged me, which they probably should have. Nobody could see behind me.”

EMAIL KAYLA AT kayla.darrow@popularspeed.com

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ICYMI: The Top-Five Stories from the Sprint Cup Series Trip to California

Sunday’s race at Fontana marked the end of NASCAR’s newly deemed “West Coast Swing” and gave fans just the type of racing they were looking for.

The Auto Club 400 had everything from multiple lead changes to five-wide racing and then two attempts at a green-white-checkered finish. Brad @Keselowski snuck in and grabbed the win, but that wasn’t the only big story of the day.

In case you missed it, here are the top-five storylines from Sunday’s Auto Club 400:

1. One Heck of a Finish: Fontana’s race had what could easily be the most exciting finish of the season so far with two attempts at a green-white-checkered. During the first attempt, it looked as though either @KurtBusch or @KevinHarvick would pull off the win as the two drivers shot away from the field right from the start. However, debris from @KyleLarsonRacin’s car would cause a second green-white-checkered attempt. This attempt was just as chaotic, with @GBiffle spinning after making contact with the wall. NASCAR, however, let the drivers race to the end, and it was here that Brad Keselowski made the last lap pass on Busch for the win. Busch ended up finishing in third place, one place behind teammate, Kevin Harvick.

“I think, first of all, this is a team that’s done this before, won races. We’ve won a championship together. With that comes a lot of confidence and a lot of trust. You know these races are 400 miles, not 200 miles. You want to make the most of that. That means you can’t give up, and you got to keep working on your car, you got to keep working on your day to make the most of it,” said Keselowski.

“With that knowledge in mind, I think you can find a spot mentally to keep going and to keep working.  You just hope for a little bit of a break along with that.  We did both today.  That’s what got us to Victory Lane.”

2. @Chris_Buescher’s Cup Debut: Chris Buescher made his Sprint Cup debut this weekend driving Front Row Motorsport’s No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford after it was announced that @Brett_Moffitt, the team’s driver that weekend, would be filling in for @BrianLVickers over at Michael Waltrip Racing. Buescher qualified 33rd place for the race and stayed back in that area of the field for the beginning of the race while getting used to the handling and balance of the car. He flirted with the top-20 all throughout the race but looked like he wouldn’t see the finish he deserved after being hit with a late-race pit road penalty. Even while being knocked back through the field, Buescher pulled it together in time to rally back and finish in 20th place.

“It was a lot of fun. I can’t thank Front Row Motorsports enough to give me this opportunity and for Roush Fenway Racing to allow me to go do it. To be able to help another Ford Performance team out this was a blast,” Buescher said. “It’s the kind of race track I wanted to make my Cup debut at – some place that the pace falls off, the tires wear down and you’re able to really hustle it and race late into a run and this was just that.”

3. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Disappointing Finish: For a while it looked like Joe Gibbs Racing was going to have a great day and maybe even pull off a win. @DennyHamlin and @MattKenseth were both up front early on and constantly winning the races off pit road. However, it all turned south for the team mid-way through the race.

Hamlin scraped the wall and got hit with an uncontrolled tire penalty. Kenseth broke an axle while pitting under a late race caution. @DavidRagan was struggling to get back on the lead lap after spinning out early in the race. Carl Edwards, JGR’s top finisher of the weekend, had a lackluster race but managed to pilot his car to a 13th place finish.

“We were good at the beginning and got off a little bit, but we had a bad restart. I got shuffled back beyond the top-10 and worked our way back to the top-five and then the top-three and then had a penalty. You just can’t come back from that,” Hamlin said afterward.

“There ain’t nobody in the field with a fast enough car to come back from any penalties. We had one at the inopportune time, and it just led to a bad finish and we blew up at the end. That topped everything off.”

4.  Kevin Harvick Keeps His Streak: Kevin Harvick had another strong showing on Sunday as he was once again up front for most of the race. While it wasn’t as dominant of a performance as the past two races, he did lead 34 laps and stayed right with the leaders when someone managed to pass him. Harvick didn’t sweep the west coast but did bump up his streak of consecutive top-two finishes to eight when he finished the day in second place.

5.  @MartinTruex_Jr Continues to Shine:  Martin Truex Jr. continued the hot start to his season on Sunday when he once again scored a top-10 finish. His day started out a little rocky, as he fell back through the field and reported that his engine felt funny. Whatever the issue was, it went away soon after he reported it, allowing him to climb through the field and into the top-10. Truex Jr. brought his No. 78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevy home in eighth place, marking his fifth consecutive top-10 finish this season.

“It’s been a great start to the season for our Furniture Row team with five straight top-10s. We just need to keep it going and try to improve each week,” said Truex Jr.

“Considering all the obstacles that we had to contend with this weekend, I am happy with the finish. It appears that the tire test we conducted here last fall actually hurt us because we came here thinking what we needed to have based on that test. It turned out we didn’t have the proper setup until last night. I just wish we could have started the weekend with the tune-up we had today.”

EMAIL KAYLA AT kayla.darrow@popularspeed.com

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ICYMI: The Top-Five Moments from the CampingWorld.com 500

Sunday’s trip to Phoenix International Raceway marked the second of three races in NASCAR’s trip out west and the second straight race @KevinHarvick has won in dominating fashion. Along with Harvick’s stellar performance, fans saw plenty of action including some race-ending tire problems and comeback stories from multiple drivers.

In case you missed it, here are the top-five moments from the Sprint Cup’s first stop at Phoenix:

1. Harvick Dominates: Sunday’s race marked another time where Kevin Harvick put on a clinic, and everyone else was just racing for second. Coming off a win at Las Vegas, Harvick won both the pole and his fourth straight race at Phoenix International Raceway. He dominated all day long and led 224 of the 312 laps, most of those with at least a two second gap over second place. With two wins already, it’s safe to say Harvick will again be a threat to win the championship this year.

“I’m just really proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas for everything they do. Really proud of Rodney (Childers) and these guys on this team. I feel like we get better as we go through different situations,” said Harvick.

“You see these guys hang out together, how mellow everybody is, how everybody gets along. It’s really, really special to be a part of. Really happy to be a small piece of what’s going on. Really proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas and everybody on our No. 4 team.”

2. @KurtBusch’s Return: This past weekend’s race also marked the first race of 2015 for Kurt Busch. He was released from his indefinite suspension by NASCAR earlier this week and wasted no time getting back up to speed. Busch started Sunday from eighth place and managed to stay in the Top-10 for the majority of the event. Busch got as high as second but was never quite able to take the lead from his Stewart-Haas teammate, Kevin Harvick. He ended the day by scoring his first top-five finish of the season.

“It’s great to be back and post a top-five finish in our first effort back. It is a testament to the team, Stewart-Haas, Tony Gibson, the crew chief. It was a pleasure to drive the car today. Lots of emotions, but had to keep those in check and focus on the racecar,” said Busch after the race.

3. Tire Woes for @DaleJr: Phoenix International Raceway was not a great place for Dale Jr. fans, as the driver got his first DNF of the season when his right rear tire blew on Lap 181 and sent him spinning into the wall. Earnhardt Jr. was in 21st place and trying to make his way back to the Top-10 after receiving a speeding penalty when the accident happened. The damage proved to be too much to repair, causing the driver to take home a 43rd place finish. Goodyear later commented that both Earnhardt Jr. and @SamHornish, who also had a blown tire, suffered from the same problem of a melted bead due to high brake heat.

4. @TonyStewart’s Rough Start Continues: 2015 has not been a kind year to Tony Stewart, as his rough start to the season continued Sunday afternoon. Stewart started the day in 17th place and had finally driven into the Top-10 on Lap 237 when he and @J_Allgaier made contact. Stewart went hard into the outside wall and caused major damage to the rear and right side of his car. While Stewart was unable to remain on the lead lap, he continued racing until his car again made contact with the wall with just 24 laps to go, thereby ending his day early. Stewart was scored in 39th place.

5. A Step Forward for Ricky @StenhouseJr: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. scored his first Top-15 finish of the season when he placed 12th in Sunday’s race. Stenhouse Jr. had an up and down day after starting the event in 14th place. He constantly got shuffled throughout the field while dealing with handling issues and a lack of overall grip. However, when it came down to the final laps, Stenhouse Jr. was able to drive up and hang on to a great finish – something Roush Fenway Racing definitely needed after the rough couple of finishes they have had.

“It was a good finish. We ran top-15 the first run and lost a little ground in the pits and then made the wrong adjustment I think and got us too tight, said Stenhouse Jr.

“We fell back and lost all our track position. Nick (Sandler) did a good job of getting us two tires and making sure we kept doing that to gain those positions. We had some really good restarts at the end that propelled our Fastenal Ford up a few more spots and got a good finish out of it. We needed that. It has been a tough start to the year, but that was definitely a big positive for us.”

EMAIL KAYLA AT kayla.darrow@popularspeed.com

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