NASCAR Cup Series

Busch Focused on Season as Court Decision Lingers

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner @TonyStewart said Thursday the organization has a contingency plan should legal issues force @KurtBusch out of his racecar.

Stewart is hopeful, however, they won’t have to use it while Busch approaches the season full steam ahead. A judge’s decision on the protective order ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll has been seeking continues to linger with Busch unsure when the announcement will come.

“The days in court and now that we’re going close to day 100 as far as all of the proceedings go, normal situations that happen around these type of situations take 30 minutes. So sometimes preferential treatment can go the wrong way,” Busch said, though wouldn’t clearly identify who was receiving said treatment.

“Normal situations like this take 30 minutes, so we’re going close to day 100 now, so we all have to be patient. We all have to understand that there’s a process that we have to respect.”

Busch spent four days in January in Kent County Family Court in Delaware following a November 5 complaint brought by Driscoll of alleged abuse. She’s seeking not only a protective order, but that Busch undergo psychiatric evaluation.

But it was during the proceedings that both sides leveled newsworthy claims against the other. In addition to details about the end of their relationship, Driscoll accused Busch of abuse and having a drinking problem. Busch, on the other hand, testified that Driscoll is a trained assassin.

The longer the days go without a decision from the court – or an announcement from the Attorney General as to whether he’ll face criminal charges – Busch considers good news. He has the support of Stewart-Haas Racing behind him and carries no weight on his shoulders, stating the truth has been revealed, and he’s been honest with those closest to him.

“With the team and their support, they’ve been fantastic, Gene Haas especially,” he said. “It’s amazing to have the comfort level that I have as well as to have told them the truth and understanding of everything. It’s easy to here and be pumped up about the season that’s ten days away.”

Busch was able to get away recently, taking a vacation in St. Barts following the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour in late January. But he’s ready to go racing with loads of confidence of working with Tony Gibson, who was paired with him for the final three weeks of 2014. He calls the old school crew chief is “great” and easy to communicate with.

As such, Busch revealed he feels the 2015 season is the same positioning from years ago when another veteran crew chief, Jimmy Fennig, was calling the shots. Even as questions surrounding him off the track will remain the hot topic, Busch continues to walk with his head held high.

“It’s a matter of knowing the truth has been told, and we’ll see how things unfold,” he said. “We have to wait on what their decision will be.”




Busch Has ‘Domestic Violence Problem’ Lawyer Claims

A day after being accused of having perjured herself, Patricia Driscoll’s lawyer’s fired back at Rusty Hardin and Kurt Busch in their closing arguments.

On Wednesday, Hardin wrote to Kent County Family Court that Driscoll had lied on the stand about September 26 when Busch allegedly assaulted her. The claim being Driscoll is a scorned bitter ex-girlfriend trying to ruin Busch’s reputation.

On Thursday, Driscoll’s attorney Carolyn McNeice wrote in her closing argument that Busch’s team is smearing Driscoll’s reputation in an attempt to distract from the issue at hand. She also wrote Driscoll did not have to refute Busch’s testimony that she is a trained assassin because she had previously done so on cross-examination.

“I suggest instead that Respondent [Busch] does not have a public relations problem; he has a domestic violence problem,” McNeice wrote according to The Wilmington Delaware News Journal. “He committed an act of abuse and the Court should find in Mrs. Driscoll’s favor.”

The closing arguments wrap up a court hearing in which Driscoll is asking for a protective order following a November 5 complaint where she alleged Busch slammed her head into the wall of his motorhome three times. She also requested that he undergo psychiatric evaluation.

Busch testified that she came into his motorhome unannounced and then refused to leave. The two reportedly had broken up a week prior to the alleged incident.

A ruling on the matter is expected in the coming days while an announcement of whether charges will be filed by the Attorney General following the conclusion of the investigation from the Dover State Police.

RELATED: Busch Investigated for Domestic Abuse

RELATED: Busch’s Domestic Abuse Investigation Concludes

RELATED: Busch Lawyer Accuses Driscoll of Perjury



NASCAR Cup Series

Driver Controlled Track Bar Causing Concern, Questions

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will have more control over the performance of their cars than ever before in 2015 thanks to the introduction of a cockpit-mounted track bar control switch.

Despite the increased flexibility it may provide teams this season, there is already an overwhelming concern from drivers that it will decrease passing opportunities and increase single-file parades on the intermediate tracks that make up a bulk of the schedule.

One of the most ardent detractors of the option is Clint Bowyer, who didn’t mince words when taking questions about the technology last week at the annual NASCAR Media Tour.

“I hate it,” Bowyer said. “I thought we were trying to create some environment on the race track, some passing and some differences. I hate to be the Debbie Downer but I think this is going to create the exact opposite. If I was the only one with a track bar adjustment and the car in front of me didn’t have one, then yeah, I could pass a lot of cars. … ”

“But I’m not the only one out there that has that. If everyone can make their cars better then how can I get around him?”

Bowyer explained passing opportunities in previous seasons were predicated by a leading car handling worse than the trailing car, due to miscalculating adjustments on pit road or changing track conditions. Bowyer fears that drivers adjusting their track bars from inside the car and during a run will eliminate that element of the sport.

“(With) those adjustments you had to wait for the next pit stop,” Bowyer said. “So you had what you had and you just had to get the most out of it — get up on the wheel and make the difference. I really fear having those adjustments inside the race car is going to make the racing more even.”

Drivers will have the track bar toggle switch in his car, mounted on the steering wheel or on the dash, not unlike his brake bias or fan options. Flipping the toggle will run a motor which will run the track bar up or down, depending on the driver’s preference.

NASCAR has mandated the strength of the track bar motor so that it’s not possible to have one drastic setting from the corner to another one the straightaways on the same lap. The strength of the motor combined with the load on the track bar will also be enough to generally prevent drivers from adjusting while in the process of rolling his or her car through the corner.

Matt Kenseth is equally concerned about the device as his Toyota stablemate but says he’s going to reserve total judgment until they use it in the second race of the season, at Atlanta Motor Speedway – the first downforce race of the season.

“I’ve got to put some thought into that,” Kenseth said. “Everyone will have different opinions until we run it but in my mind — and it’s just my first guess — I would think it will make it more difficult to pass.

“The guy in front has to be handling worse than the guy behind to be able to pass but if both guys are adjusting their cars to make it better, I don’t know how it’s going to make passing easier.”

Carl Edwards and Aric Almirola have both experimented with the switch during a recent Goodyear tire test and both drivers felt that fans would not be able to see a noticeable difference on television or in the grandstands.

Almirola said it wasn’t a “big deal” while Edwards added that “it wasn’t as big of a change as I thought it would be.”

The biggest difference might be found on pit road where teams will be able to shave nearly a full second off pit stops this season, according to Richard Petty Motorsports crew chief Drew Blickensderfer.

“One thing it will change from a crew chief perspective is that I’m going to go with a track bar adjustment nine out of 10 … because he can make it under caution while he is riding around,” Blickensderfer said. “I don’t have to put a wrench in it during the pit stop and every time you put a wrench in a car during a pit stop, you’re taking away a half second, 7/10s of a second off your stop and we’re not going to waste that.”

Fellow RPM crew chief Trent Owens agreed, adding that the device will also cut down on pit road mistakes this season, as rear tire carriers will no longer be at risk of leaving a wrench inside the car or not making the adjustment in the first place.

“It’s just an option that I like,” Owens said. “I like that we’re trying that out. It will eliminate the possibility of mistakes on pit road, improve our pit stops. So from my seat it’s all for the better.”

The major concern for drivers moving forward is mistakenly dialing themselves out of contention or adjusting without notifying their crew chief. Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick hasn’t tested the track bar control but says he is well aware of the potential pitfalls.

“I view the track bar as a category of something where you can get yourself in a heap of trouble by overthinking, over-adjusting and not keeping it simple,” Harvick said. “We’ll go through that stuff in practice and know whether or not it’s working for that particular situation, track and tire for that weekend.

“If it’s something you feel like is adjustable to a certain point then those will be your parameters for the race and we’ll get more accustomed to that as we go through the season.”

Additional driver adjustable track bar quotes:

“I did get a chance to play around with the driver adjustable track bar and it did’t do as much as I thought it would. It wasn’t as big of a change as I thought it would be. I think it will be interesting to see how people use it. I still think that we won’t know until halfway through that race at Atlanta.” – Carl Edwards

“Before you adjust it, you have to make sure you’re not dialing yourself out. You have to communicate where you’re at, but the challenging part is you don’t want to tell everyone where you’re at. It’s going to be interesting to see how what works out.” -Joey Logano

“I played with it a little bit. It was nice to feel the car in corner entry after making different movements as well as corner exit. And then there will be the track bar situation on old tires versus new tires and things like that. Having more tools inside the car, it will be interesting to see which driver manages it the best.” – Kurt Busch

“I think with certain drivers, you should be really concerned. I’ve worked with some in the past that you don’t know what’s going on in there and he doesn’t know what’s going on there either.” -Drew Blickensderfer




Kurt Busch Domestic Abuse Investigation Concludes

By Kelly Crandall – A decision whether to charge @KurtBusch, 36, for allegedly assaulting ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll is now in the hands of Delaware prosecutors.

On Tuesday officials confirmed the investigation into Busch had recently concluded, and the information passed along to the attorney generals office. Busch is accused in a complaint brought on November 5 of having choked Driscoll and slamming her head against the wall of his motorhome bedroom at Dover International Speedway three times.

“The Dover Police Department completed the investigation of Kurt Busch a few weeks ago and has since forwarded their findings along with all evidence and statements to the Kent County Attorney Generals office,” a statement read.

“Their office will review the findings of the investigation and make a decision whether Mr. Busch will be charged or not.”

According to Driscoll, during a nearly six-hour testimony in early January she and nine-year-old son Houston went to see Busch the weekend of September 26 upon receiving distressing text messages from him after qualifying. The two had broken up a week before following the New Hampshire Motor Speedway Chase race.

It occurred during a reported heated argument in a rental car that resulted in Busch being dropped at the airport and Driscoll driving away with his belongings. Driscoll is seeking a protective order against Busch and asking that he undergo a psychological evaluation.

She told the court that she does not know what Busch is capable of. However, Busch’s attorneys have denied the allegations with him painting a different story under oath.

Busch claims that Driscoll entered his motorhome unannounced and demanded that he tell her son to his face that their relationship was over. He says he cupped her cheeks and asked her five different times to leave, though he did admit to having a difficult night while watching Seven Years in Tibet starring Brad Pitt before she arrived that led to a text message exchange and Driscoll’s arrival.

With Tuesday’s announcement, no report was released and Delaware Police Department spokesman Cpl. Mar Hoffman would not say whether they would recommend that Busch be charged.

The hearing concerning the protective order will resume on January 12.




All images on POPULAR SPEED are provided exclusively by Nigel Kinrade Photography, LLC
 – – @nigelkinrade – Credit: Russell LaBounty


Stewart-Haas: Crazy Works

By Matt Weaver (HOMESTEAD, Fla.) — It wasn’t that long ago that we believed both Tony Stewart and Gene Haas were certifiably crazy.

The notion dates back to August when the Stewart Haas Racing co-owners added both Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick to an already charismatic stable of drivers that consisted of Stewart and Danica Patrick. From the outside looking in, it appeared as if Stewart and Haas had assembled the most combustible and cantankerous roster in the history of the sport, leading many observers to call the pair insane.

After winning six races between the new additions and the Sprint Cup trophy with Harvick on Sunday, maybe that assumption needs readdressing.

“Do you think we’re crazy now,” Stewart retorted with a laugh when asked about the countless remarks tossed his direction during the off-season concerning the apparent insanity of hiring drivers with the reputation of both Busch and Harvick.

“Crazy works,” Haas added.

After a very successful first season together, the results more than speak for themselves and no one is going to call them crazy now — at least not while they are drinking Budweiser and celebrating around twin trophies in South Beach.

Despite their respective pedigrees, Busch and Harvick were unconventional and risky hires. Busch, the 2004 Chase champion, had been fired by both Jack Roush and Roger Penske didn’t have the look of a team player. Harvick was a veteran with 23 victories but had a maverick reputation that was a potential risk for conflict with Busch and Patrick.

But Harvick believes that success is often preceded by bold decisions and Stewart-Haas Racing used one on him, resulting in an immediate championship together.

“Those guys here, they’re not scared to make bold decisions,” Harvick said. “Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t. But in the end, somebody has to make a decision, and when you have guys that are not scared to step up and say this is what we’re going to do.

“Sometimes you get to have the moments where you shine — and sometimes you have to eat a little crow — but that’s part of life.”

For Stewart, the winner of three driver championships and 48 career victories, Sunday was an I told you so moment, sticking it to the doubters, that for some reason, questioned his approach in the face of all logic. He said that while the media is pretty smart, he and his team are smarter and should never be underestimated.

“You’ve got to be a little bit crazy to want to do this,” Stewart said. “The odds say you’re going to be unsuccessful more than you’re going to be successful but it is these single moments that make all of the hard work worthwhile, and that’s why we do it.”

You could say that it’s the Stewart Haas way and as crazy as that may be, it’s the best thing going.


Dover Police Investigating Domestic Abuse Claim Involving Kurt Busch

Updated at 3 p.m. ET with statements from Kurt Busch’s attorney, Rusty Hardin.

By Matt Weaver — Police in Dover, Delaware are investigating a domestic assault claim made against 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion @KurtBusch.

The Dover Police Department said in a Friday afternoon statement that the allegations were made on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET. According to an Associated Press story, the allegations were filed by Busch’s ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, for an incident that occurred inside a motorhome during the fall race weekend at Dover International Speedway on Sept. 26-28.

The following is from the Associated Press:

The documents, filed Wednesday, say Busch was despondent the night of Sept. 26 after his poor performance at the qualifying session.

“He was verbally abusive to her and said he wished he had a gun so that he could kill himself,” the documents say.

Driscoll said Busch, 36, called her names and accused her of “having spies everywhere and having a camera on the bus to watch him.” He then jumped up, grabbed her face and smashed her head three times against the wall next to the bed, Driscoll says in the documents.

Driscoll says she pushed Busch away and ran from the bedroom, going to a nearby bus to put an ice pack on her head and neck. She said the incident caused her severe pain, difficulty breathing and bruising on her neck.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 2.

Busch has not been charged with a crime. The team he competes for, Stewart-Haas Racing, has acknowledged that it is aware of the ongoing investigation.

“This is an allegation Stewart-Haas Racing takes very seriously, but we’re still gathering all of the facts and are not in a position to comment in greater detail,” the team said in a statement.​

NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Brett Jewkes said in a separate statement that the Sanctioning Body is aware of the investigation and will continue to monitor the situation as information is made available.

“We recognize the seriousness of this matter and are actively gathering information from all parties, including law enforcement authorities and Stewart-Haas Racing,” Jewkes said. “It would be inappropriate for NASCAR to comment further on this matter until we have more information.”

Busch was inside his car at Phoenix International Raceway for Sprint Cup Series first practice when the charges were first made public. His attorney, Rusty Hardin, released the following statement during the session:

“The Dover Police Department has been informed that Mr. Busch will fully cooperate with their investigation and he expects to be vindicated when the entire truth of the situation comes to light. This allegation is a complete fabrication by a woman who has refused to accept the end of a relationship and Mr. Busch vehemently denies her allegations in every respect. At this time we intend to have no further comment in the media out of respect for the Dover Police Department’s desire to conduct a thorough investigation without a media circus. “


Stewart-Haas Feels Knost Set for Success with Patrick

By Kelly Crandall – Daniel Knost has a bright future as a Sprint Cup Series crew chief. Stewart-Haas Racing is confident of that.

But the rookie crew chief, admittedly, was thrown to the wolves in 2014.

For one final weekend, Knost will lead the No. 41 Haas Automation team of @KurtBusch, which was formed during the offseason when Busch was signed. The two won a race, Martinsville in March, and subsequently qualified for the Chase though they were sitting outside the top-16 in points.

But Knost and Busch just didn’t work. The radio never sounded friendly, and frustration appeared to have mounted as time went by. Now, Greg Zipadelli, the director of competition at Stewart-Haas Racing, is focused on making both Busch and @DanicaPatrick’s teams better.

The two will swap personnel beginning in Texas with Knost taking over the pit box for the last three races in the sophomore year of Patrick.

“I think long term it’s the right thing,” Zipadelli said Friday at Martinsville.

“There might be a step backwards while they get to learn each other and they grow, but long term, a full year, two years from now I think their personalities between Daniel and Danica will work together much better.”

Patrick had been working with Tony Gibson, who now will head over to the veteran and sometimes-volatile Busch. The Patrick and Gibson pairing continued to improve as the weeks go on with Zipadelli acknowledging how far the driver had come in two years of Sprint Cup Series competition.

Speed and qualifying have seen better results, but not the finishing sheet. Currently sitting 27th in points, where she finished 2013, Patrick and Gibson have earned four career top-10 finishes. She also captured his career-best finish of sixth at Atlanta in August, a mile-and-a-half, which has been the GoDaddy team’s strength this year.

But 2004 Sprint Cup champion Busch is in the prime of his career, perhaps promoting the change. Giving him an experienced leader like Gibson is what the organization feels will quickly get him back to a consistent manner of contending for wins.

“We’ve got to give him (Busch) that and we have to give Danica the ability to continue to grow and build a relationship with somebody, because she plans on being here a while,” Zipadelli said.

“We just look at that and it’s kind of the best of both words right now. We have people in house. One thing we don’t like to do is bring people in from the outside and try them. We like to try to promote and give the people at Stewart-Haas the opportunity. That is kind of why we elected to do what we did.”

Knost is also expected to thrive in his new role. His pairing with Patrick is coincidence seeing how Knost has something that Patrick wants: an engineering background. Having coming from IndyCar and the open-wheel world, interacting with individuals of that pedigree are what the 32-year-old Patrick is most comfortable with.

Crew chief Daniel Knost and driver Kurt Busch stand in the garage at Martinsville Speedway (Photo Credit: Chris Owens / POPULAR SPEED)
Crew chief Daniel Knost and driver Kurt Busch stand in the garage at Martinsville Speedway (Photo Credit: Chris Owens / POPULAR SPEED)

“She actually, a while ago, talked about having the opportunity to work with a younger engineer and build the relationship over time,” Zipadelli admitted. “I just kind of feel like it was time to do it. We have three races with us not sure what the testing policy is for next year. This is a good opportunity for us to switch things up for Texas. The last three races and just see how things go.”

Patrick meanwhile is carrying whatever is best for the company attitude about the changes. It is much better for her and the team to be on the right footing heading into the 2015 season than having to start from scratch.

Patrick, however, appeared conflicted when asked if she wanted the change. Though says she will approach it with an open mind because of the pre-established relationship between her and Knost, which extends beyond more than the in-house association.

“I know Daniel, he was my race engineer when I did the 10 races with Zipadelli for Stewart-Haas in 2012. Really nice guy, very smart and he is definitely a lot like the kind of engineers and in fact in IndyCar it was called an engineer instead of a crew chief that I was used to dealing with,” she said.

“We have gotten along anyway regardless of whether he has been on my car or not. I’m definitely open minded and looking forward to the opportunity to see how it will go with him.”

For now, Knost is listed as an interim crew chief for Patrick. Though both she and Zipadelli are confident the relationship will last into 2015 and beyond.

“I think that we click and the things that are felt in the racecar and then conveyed over the radio and the changes that are made in relationship to that,” Patrick said he would be looking for over the next three races.

“If that takes a fast course in a good direction, and we seem to click well and make progress throughout the weekend then I think that will be a really positive sign. I think that is always a challenge. If that is good then that is I feel like a good sign for the future.

“I know I already get along with him as a person … Now it’s time to see if we get along in a competitive atmosphere where it becomes more technical than just friendship.”



NASCAR Cup Series

Busch Focused on Chase but Open to Indy 500 Return

By Matt Weaver — @KurtBusch created a memory that he has said will last forever when he competed in the Indianapolis 500 this past May, finishing sixth in The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. On Sunday at Watkins Glen, Busch reaffirmed his desire to give it a second shot.

The Outlaw finished third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen, establishing momentum for his second-consecutive Chase berth. While focused on the remainder of the season and his attempt to win a second Sprint Cup championship, Busch made no secret of his desire to return to Indianapolis next May.

“It’s a bit too early,” Busch said of how close he is to announcing his Indianapolis return. “Right now, our focus is the Chase and trying to keep others from punching their ticket to get in. Today (AJ) Allmendinger got in. We don’t have much news.

“But let’s see how their season ends and how our season goes. Right now I’m focused on this No. 41 car to run for the championship.”

Busch has had a dreadful season of sorts, currently running 23rd in the championship standings in his first season at Stewart Haas Racing and with first year crew chief Daniel Knost. He has a 20.1 average finish after 22 races but locked himself into the Chase earlier this season with a victory at Martinsville.

As a result, Busch has a fresh start approaching once the Chase begins at Chicagoland Speedway next month.

As for his IndyCar experience, team owner Michael Andretti has repeatedly said that he wants Busch back next season if the logistics can pan out. He believes that a second consecutive year of running in the 500-mile Race would establish Busch as one of the favorites.

For his part, Busch is definitely interested.

“I’d like to do it,” he said. “We’ll see how it pans out.”

Busch Enjoyed the Allmendinger, Ambrose Duel

Kurt Busch joked during the post-race press conference on Sunday afternoon that he wished Marcos Ambrose had tried to wreck AJ Allmendinger for the win. After all, if something had happened to both leaders, Busch would have become the beneficiary.

That would have translated his podium into a possible second victory on the season and padding towards the Chase for the Championship. As it stands, Busch enjoyed the view of two of the best road course racers in the world going head-to-head at the historic upstate New York speedway.

“I really thought they did a phenomenal job to beat the heck out of each other and maintain a pace that didn’t allow me to get close enough,” Busch said. “There was just one moment I had, I wanted to go low on the back straightaway. It would have been three-wide, and my right sides would have been in the grass, and I couldn’t quite make it getting into the bus stop (chicane) to clear those two.

“It was just a phenomenal show. Those two deserve a lot of credit. Allmendinger brought home the trophy, and he deserves it. Ambrose gave everything he could. I was just hoping that, yes, those two would get a bit overzealous, and I’d be able to squeak by them and pick up the win for our team.”

NASCAR Cup Series

AJ Eliminates Chase Opening For Non-Winner

By Matt Weaver — AJ Allmendinger (@AJDinger) won the Cheez-It 355 Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen and likely made his first career Chase for the Championship after outdueling @MarcosAmbrose over the course of two final restarts on Sunday afternoon.

While Allmendinger was victorious, Ambrose still finds himself on the wrong side of the bubble with four races remaining. The Allmendinger victory also means that there is one less spot on the Chase Grid available to non-winners — four to be exact. Ambrose is 16th in the Sprint Cup standings following his runner-up finish at The Glen but is 20th on the Grid and 50 points behind @Clint Bowyer for the final transfer spot.

“Man, I just finished the closest race of my life,” Ambrose said after the race. “I haven’t even looked at the points. I’ll worry about that on Monday. We’re decent in the championship — like 16th in points. We obviously have to score points but we’re focused on winning.”

In addition to scoring those 50-plus points over the next four events, Ambrose will also have to jump @AustinDillon, @KaseyKahne and @GregBiffle in the standings who also remain outside of the Chase cut-off — a daunting task.

@KurtBusch finished third in the race and joked that Ambrose should have wrecked Allmendinger to gain entry into the NASCAR playoffs. All kidding aside, Busch explained that preparation and good decision-making over the next month will be key in deciding who makes the Chase.

“It’s about putting yourself in position,” Busch said. “That’s what they did today and have to do again at Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond — whether it’s done with pit strategy or good race cars.

“I haven’t looked at the points situation but I know (Kyle) Larson is on that bubble of those making it in on points too. You can’t stretch yourself too thin at this time of the year. You keep plugging away and wish you were in a better position.”

Busch said that he believes Larson was biting his finger nails and that Ambrose was poised to jump on those in front of him in the standings. He ultimately said that winning will be the main priority during the next month for everyone on the bubble.

“That’s what the Chase is all about,” Busch said. “Win and you’re in. I’m sure as it gets closer, we’re going to see people do more dramatic things to try to take a chance to make a run at the championship.”

The aforementioned Larson is one point ahead of Bowyer and nine ahead of Greg Biffle — the first driver on the outside of the provisional grid. He’s confident in his chances to perform well over the next four months at the remaining tracks but remains surprised that it has been this difficult to advance to the round of 16.

“It’s crazy to think that with a 16-team Chase that it will be harder to make it in than it was previously,” Larson said. “I’m 12th in points and I’m sweating just trying to get locked into the Chase. But it’s exciting for all the race teams that have to step up and the fans that pay attention to it.

“I think NASCAR did a good job with the change and made teams have to step up even more.”

Tony Stewart missed the race on Sunday after choosing to sit out following the accident in upstate New York where he struck and killed an on-foot driver during a sprint car race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. He fell to 24th on the Chase Grid and 97 points behind Bowyer for the final playoff spot.

With Allmendinger taking one of the provisional spots away, the Race to Chase just got a lot more interesting and equally intense. The updated Chase Grid standings can be found below.

  1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (3 wins)
  2. Brad Keselowski (3)
  3. Jimmie Johnson (3)
  4. Jeff Gordon (2)
  5. Joey Logano (2)
  6. Carl Edwards (2)
  7. Kevin Harvick (2)
  8. Kyle Busch (1)
  9. Denny Hamlin (1)
  10. Aric Almirola (1)
  11. Kurt Busch (1)
  12. AJ Allmendinger (1)
  13. Matt Kenseth +77
  14. Ryan Newman +19
  15. Kyle Larson +9
  16. Clint Bowyer +8
  17. Greg Biffle -8
  18. Kasey Kahne -12
  19. Austin Dillon -18
  20. Marcos Ambrose -50
  21. Paul Menard -60
  22. Brian Vickers -61
  23. Jamie McMurray -68
  24. Tony Stewart -97
  25. Casey Mears -118



41 Team Penalized Following Daytona

By Staff – Following the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, Kurt Busch and the No. 41 team have been penalized for a rules infraction discovered in post-race inspection.

Per the official release from NASCAR: “The infraction is a P2 level penalty and violates Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 20-12 (l) (for events at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, at all times, the Delta (or difference) of the Z-height measurement between the center of the panhard bar mounting bolt located at the left truck trailing arm and the center of the panhard bar mounting bolt, located at the right rear sub-frame mounting bracket, must not exceed three inches) of the 2014 NASCAR rule book.

As a result of this infraction, crew chief Daniel Knost has been fined $10,000. In addition, driver Kurt Busch has lost 10 championship driver points and owner Gene Haas has lost 10 championship owner points.”