NASCAR Cup Series

Gaulding Gears Up for Cup Debut

18-year-old Virginia native Gray Gaulding is gearing up to make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at Martinsville Speedway later this month.

The NASCAR Next alumnus will drive the No. 30 Feed the Children Chevrolet for The Motorsports Group.

“It’s exciting bringing a new partner into the series and to be making my NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at a track like Martinsville where we’ve had a really good history in the past is honestly unfathomable,” Gaulding said. “I’m excited to partner with Feed the Children and use NASCAR as a platform to deliver our message and work to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. A lot has happened in a short period of time but I’ve never been as excited to debut this beautiful Feed the Children car next week at Martinsville.”

Not only will Gaulding compete at Martinsville Speedway, but also at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 13 and the season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway on Nov. 20. Feed the Children will be on board for both those events, as well. 

In two XFINITY Series starts this season competing for Roush Fenway Racing, he finished 13th at both Bristol Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway.

Gaulding isn’t coming into Martinsville Speedway without a notebook to draw on, as he has made four starts in the Camping World Truck Series at Martinsville Speedway with a best finish of 14th.

The Goody’s Fast Relief 500 from Martinsville Speedway can be seen on NBCSN on Oct. 30 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Shane Carlson is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

TWITTER: @ShaneCarlson4

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

NASCAR Cup Series

Elliott Rebounds from Transmission Change for Career-Best Finish

Chase Elliott  started at the rear of the field and piloted his No. 24 Napa Chevrolet SS to the front en route to his best career NASCAR Sprint Cup finish in Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Hendrick Motorsports rookie and 2014 XFINITY Series champion had to surrender his fourth-place starting position due to a transmission change that was made prior to the start of the 500-mile race.

However, Elliott quickly raced his way through the field – cracking the top 10 on lap 121 of the 334-lap race. As the laps continued to tick off, Elliott remained consistently in the top five or top 10 and ended up bringing home a fifth-place finish.

Despite scoring his best career finish, Elliott was unsatisfied and left wanting more.

“Yeah, it was a step in the right direction,” Elliott said. “We’re definitely not satisfied running fifth. I feel like we have a group of guys that are capable of doing that. We’ll keep digging at it. We have a long way to go with a lot of racing to go in the season.  We’ll keep working to get where we can roll with those guys.”

Late race pit strategy affected the outcome of the race for Elliott. Under caution, with 47 laps to go, Elliott elected to take two tires while most of the leaders who pitted took on four. Seven laps later, again under caution, Elliott came back down pit road to take four tires.

When asked if he could come in and take four tires if he could do it over again, Elliott stuck by the decision made by veteran crew chief Alan Gustafson.

“Being on offense is good,” Elliott remarked. “With Alan’s decisions, I’m going to be all for whether they go good or bad. Whatever he says, I’m in for and we’ll make the most of it.”

Elliott’s fifth-place finish was his first career top five and his fourth career top-10 finish in only his 12th career Sprint Cup Series start.

Development Journalists

Kyle Larson On The Bubble As The Chase Looms

By Joey Chapman – @KyleLarsonRacin’s highly anticipated rookie season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has definitely seen its ups and downs over the course of the first 19 races. After three consecutive races without placing a finish higher than 28th, crew chief Chris Heroy decided to gamble on a late caution. This gutsy pit call set Larson up to grab a third place finish at New Hampshire along with a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup – for now.

The driver of the No. 42 Team Target Chevrolet and his team are flirting with not making the new 16-car Chase field. However, the momentum of a top-five finish going into an off weekend is what the team needed.

“I mean, we were up to tied for seventh in points before Sonoma and fell back to 18th,” Larson said after New Hampshire. “It really had us scratch our heads and praying to get some good finishes again, and now hopefully we’ve turned it around and can start getting some consistent finishes again.”

With the new Chase system in mind, he will likely want to win a race rather than attempt to get in on points as the final spots of the last ten races change every week. He is currently sitting 14th in the driver’s standings along with leading the Sunoco Rookie of the Year competition by 28 points over Austin Dillon.

As seven races remain before the Chase kicks off, Larson will definitely have to do some work to maintain his position. He has never run Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis, Watkins Glen or Atlanta. While there are question marks beside Larson’s name for those races, he has placed top-10 finishes at Pocono, Michigan and Bristol this season.

As the end of the regular season looms, more pressure will fall on his shoulders if the rookie cannot post good finishes consistently or get a win. While a win would be nice, Larson will take whatever he can get in the remaining races.

“(We) have to keep these good runs going after our bad three weeks we’ve had in a row now,” he said.

If Larson somehow manages to miss the Chase, it seems that he’ll be disappointed for a missed opportunity earlier this season at Auto Club Speedway. @KyleBusch edged him out for the win in a nail biting finish.

“It seems like I’m usually one spot behind (Kyle Busch),” Larson said with a laugh recently. “But it’ll change soon. It’ll change soon.”

It will definitely be a challenge for the rookie to maintain a spot for the Chase solely by points, but it’s something he is willing to fight for. If Larson happens to make it in, do not be surprised to see him make a competitive run at the championship.

Joey Chapman is Popular Speed Development Journalist