Sprint Unlimited … By the numbers

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With the 25-driver field for Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway set, here’s a look at how each of those drivers have fared in their appearances in the exhibition race…

Aric Almirola – No. 43 Smithfield Ford – (Richard Petty Motorsports)
2013 – Started 8th, finished 6th

Greg Biffle – No. 16 Ortho Ford – (Roush Fenway Racing)
2005 – Started 2nd, finished 5th, led 44 laps
2007 – Started 5th, finished 13th
2008 – Started 17th, finished 20th, Accident
2009 – Started 26th, finished 17th, Accident
2010 – Started 5th, finished 15th, led 5 laps, Accident
2011 – Started 11th, finished 5th
2012 – Started 7th, finished 6th, led 17 laps
2013 – Started 4th, finished 2nd, led 2 laps

Clint Bowyer – No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota – (Michael Waltrip Racing)
2008 – Started 21st, finished 14th
2011 – Started 7th, finished 9th, led 4 laps
2012 – Started 17th, finished 8th

Kurt Busch – No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet – (Stewart-Haas Racing)
2002 – Started 1st, finished 14th, led 3 laps
2003 – Started 3rd, finished 11th, led 11 laps
2005 – Started 6th, finished 6th
2007 – Started 18th, finished 3rd, led 6 laps
2008 – Started 1st, finished 18th
2009 – Started 12th, finished 9th
2010 – Started 22nd, finished 23rd, Accident
2011 – Started 17th, finished 1st, led 3 laps
2012 – Started 6th, finished 17th, Accident
2013 – Started 18th, finished 13th, Accident
2014 – Started 10th, finished 14th, Accident

Kyle Busch – No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota – (Joe Gibbs Racing)
2006 – Started 14th, finished 15th, led 4 laps
2007 – Started 6th, finished 7th, led 39 laps
2009 – Started 10th, finished 10th, led 6 laps
2010 – Started 17th, finished 4th
2011 – Started 21st, finished 16th, led 2 laps, Accident
2012 – Started 2nd, finished 1st, led 3 laps
2013 – Started 13th, finished 16th, Accident
2014 – Started 4th, finished 3rd, led 6 laps

Austin Dillon – No. 3 DOW Chevrolet – (Richard Childress Racing)
2015 will be first appearance in Sprint Unlimited

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet – (Hendrick Motorsports)
2001 – Started 10th, finished 6th
2002 – Started 16th, finished 2nd, led 20 laps
2003 – Started 19th, finished 1st, led 13 laps
2004 – Started 19th, finished 2nd
2005 – Started 12th, finished 7th
2006 – Started 19th, finished 2nd, led 1 lap
2007 – Started 17th, finished 14th
2008 – Started 7th, finished 1st, led 47 laps
2009 – Started 9th, finished 18th, led 23 laps, Accident
2010 – Started 11th, finished 11th
2011 – Started 1st, finished 19th, led 4 laps, Accident
2012 – Started 8th, finished 20th, led 12 laps, Accident
2013 – Started 16th, finished 8th
2014 – Started 14th, finished 9th, led 7 laps, Accident

Carl Edwards – No. 19 Arris Toyota – (Joe Gibbs Racing)
2006 – Started 11th, finished 16th
2008 – Started 20th, finished 12th, led 1 lap
2009 – Started 11th, finished 7th, led 11 laps
2010 – Started 1st, finished 17th, led 42 laps, Accident
2011 – Started 3rd, finished 21st, Accident
2012 – Started 11th, finished 9th
2013 – Started 1st, finished 12th
2014 – Started 7th, finished 13th, Accident

Jeff Gordon – No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet – (Hendrick Motorsports)
1994 – Started 6th, finished 1st, led 2 laps
1995 – Started 5th, finished 4th
1996 – Started 7th, finished 9th
1997 – Started 3rd, finished 1st
1998 – Started 5th, finished 14th, Engine
1999 – Started 8th, finished 15th
2000 – Started 6th, finished 2nd
2001 – Started 6th, finished 11th
2002 – Started 22nd, finished 3rd
2003 – Started 18th, finished 2nd, led 31 laps
2004 – Started 2nd, finished 5th, led 16 laps
2005 – Started 11th, finished 3rd
2006 – Started 10th, finished 19th, Accident
2007 – Started 11th, finished 21st, Electrical
2008 – Started 22nd, finished 4th, led 1 lap
2009 – Started 28th, finished 4th, led 2 laps
2010 – Started 23rd, finished 6th
2011 – Started 12th, finished 6th, led 1 lap
2012 – Started 14th, finished 15th, led 16 laps, Accident
2013 – Started 7th, finished 17th, Accident
2014 – Started 13th, finished 12th, Accident

Denny Hamlin – No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota – (Joe Gibbs Racing)
2006 – Started 15th, finished 1st, led 16 laps
2007 – Started 21st, finished 17th
2008 – Started 12th, finished 9th
2009 – Started 5th, finished 13th, led 4 laps
2010 – Started 24th, finished 5th
2011 – Started 4th, finished 12th
2012 – Started 16th, finished 5th
2013 – Started 5th, finished 15th, Accident
2014 – Started 1st, finished 1st, led 27 laps

Kevin Harvick – No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet – (Stewart-Haas Racing)
2003 – Started 16th, finished 9th
2004 – Started 5th, finished 3rd, led 10 laps
2006 – Started 18th, finished 20th, Engine
2007 – Started 20th, finished 5th, led 11 laps
2009 – Started 27th, finished 1st, led 1 lap
2010 – Started 2nd, finished 1st, led 21 laps

2011 – Started 18th, finished 7th
2012 – Started 22nd, finished 22nd, led 4 laps, Accident
2013 – Started 17th, finished 1st, led 37 laps
2014 – Started 6th, finished 5th, led 6 laps

Jimmie Johnson – No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet – (Hendrick Motorsports)
2003 – Started 2nd, finished 7th, led 4 laps
2004 – Started 17th, finished 9th
2005 – Started 17th, finished 1st, led 16 laps
2006 – Started 2nd, finished 5th, led 12 laps
2007 – Started 8th, finished 4th
2008 – Started 18th, finished 3rd
2009 – Started 21st, finished 14th, led 2 laps
2010 – Started 16th, finished 13th
2011 – Started 23rd, finished 4th, led 7 laps
2012 – Started 18th, finished 14th, led 1 lap
2013 – Started 11th, finished 14th, Accident
2014 – Started 18th, finished 17th, Accident

Kasey Kahne – No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet – (Hendrick Motorsports)
2005 – Started 13th, finished 9th
2006 – Started 5th, finished 18th, Accident
2007 – Started 15th, finished 15th
2008 – Started 8th, finished 10th
2009 – Started 14th, finished 6th, led 2 laps
2010 – Started 19th, finished 2nd
2011 – Started 5th, finished 24th, Engine
2012 – Started 19th, finished 13th
2013 – Started 3rd, finished 7th

Matt Kenseth – No. 20 Dollar General Toyota – (Joe Gibbs Racing)
2003 – Started 5th, finished 3rd, led 6 laps
2006 – Started 16th, finished 6th
2009 – Started 25th, finished 8th, led 1 lap
2010 – Started 8th, finished 16th, Accident
2011 – Started 19th, finished 13th
2012 – Started 23rd, finished 21st, Accident
2013 – Started 12th, finished 5th, led 25 laps
2014 – Started 16th, finished 10th, Accident

Brad Keselowski – No. 2 Miller Lite Ford – (Team Penske)
2012 – Started 3rd, finished 4th
2014 – Started 5th, finished 2nd, led 8 laps

Kyle Larson – No. 42 Target Chevrolet – (Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)
2015 will be first appearance in Sprint Unlimited

Joey Logano – No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford – (Team Penske)
2009 – Started 19th, finished 28th, Accident
2010 – Started 21st, finished 7th
2011 – Started 22nd, finished 18th, Accident
2012 – Started 10th, finished 18th, led 1 lap, Accident
2013 – Started 9th, finished 3rd
2014 – Started 11th, finished 4th, led 11 laps

Casey Mears – No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet – (Germain Racing)
2005 – Started 18th, finished 13th, led 2 laps
2008 – Started 24th, finished 6th
2009 – Started 24th, finished 15th, Accident

Paul Menard – No. 27 PEAK / Menards Chevrolet – (Richard Childress Racing)
2009 – Started 1st, finished 12th, led 2 laps
2012 – Started 24th, finished 23rd, Accident

Jamie McMurray – No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet – (Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)
2004 – Started 3rd, finished 17th, led 8 laps, Accident
2006 – Started 17th, finished 8th, led 1 lap
2008 – Started 4th, finished 22nd
2009 – Started 15th, finished 2nd, led 16 laps
2010 – Started 9th, finished 3rd, led 2 laps
2011 – Started 14th, finished 2nd
2012 – Started 4th, finished 16, led 11 laps
2014 – Started 2nd, finished 6th, led 10 laps

Ryan Newman – No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet – (Richard Childress Racing)
2002 – Started 8th, finished 15th
2003 – Started 15th, finished 4th
2004 – Started 16th, finished 16th, led 4 laps, Accident
2005 – Started 7th, finished 2nd, led 4 laps
2006 – Started 7th, finished 17th, Accident
2007 – Started 9th, finished 20th, Engine
2008 – Started 17th, finished 23rd
2010 – Started 4th, finished 19th, Accident
2011 – Started 8th, finished 3rd, led 18 laps
2012 – Started 13th, finished 7th
2014 – Started 17th, finished 8th

Danica Patrick – No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet – (Stewart-Haas Racing)
2014 – Started 12th, finished 16th, Accident

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – No. 17 Fastenal Ford – (Roush Fenway Racing)
2014 – Started 3rd, finished 15th, Accident

Tony Stewart – No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet – (Stewart-Haas Racing)
2000 – Started 3rd, finished 4th
2001 – Started 7th, finished 1st
2002 – Started 3rd, finished 1st, led 31 laps
2003 – Started 12th, finished 15th
2004 – Started 18th, finished 7th
2005 – Started 8th, finished 4th
2006 – Started 3rd, finished 3rd, led 7 laps
2007 – Started 14th, finished 1st, led 11 laps
2008 – Started 10th, finished 2nd, led 9 laps
2009 – Started 6th, finished 3rd, led 4 laps
2010 – Started 13th, finished 9th, led 6 laps
2011 – Started 2nd, finished 11th, led 4 laps
2012 – Started 15th, finished 2nd, led 7 laps
2013 – Started 15th, finished 4th, led 5 laps
2014 – Started 9th, finished 11th, Accident

Martin Truex Jr. – No. 87 Furniture Row Chevrolet – (Furniture Row Racing)
2008 – Started 9th, finished 21st, Accident
2012 – Started 1st, finished 19th, led 7 laps, Accident
2013 – Started 6th, finished 9th, led 2 laps

Long: NASCAR needs to quickly correct officiating issue from Texas

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NASCAR’s admission that it did not see William Byron spin Denny Hamlin under caution during Sunday’s Cup playoff race is troubling.

With video evidence of impropriety and Hamlin’s team vigorously arguing for relief, there were enough reasons for series officials to take a closer look at putting Hamlin back to second before the race returned to green-flag conditions. Or some other remedy even after the race resumed. 

Add the lack of access series officials had to Byron’s in-car camera— something fans could readily see at NASCAR.com and the NASCAR Mobile App — and changes need to be made before this weekend’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.

While NASCAR should make every effort to judge matters between drivers regardless of their playoff status, that it was two playoff drivers involved in an incident demanded greater attention. With three races per round, one misstep can mean the difference between advancing or being eliminated. 

Just as more is expected from drivers and teams in the playoffs, the same should be expected of officials.

“If we had seen that (contact) good enough to react to it in real time, which we should have, like no excuse there, there would probably have been two courses of action,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition Sunday night. “One would have been to put Hamlin back where he was, or the other would be to have made William start in the back.”

Here is how the incident played out:

The caution waved at Lap 269 for Martin Truex Jr.’s crash at 8:19 p.m. ET.

As Hamlin slowed, Byron closed and hit him in the rear. 

Byron admitted after the race the contact was intentional, although he didn’t mean to wreck Hamlin. Byron was upset with how Hamlin raced him on Lap 262. Byron felt Hamlin forced him into the wall as they exited Turn 2 side-by-side. Byron expressed his displeasure during the caution.

About 90 seconds after the caution lights illuminated, the USA broadcast showed a replay from a low angle of Byron directly behind Hamlin’s car and apparent contact. 

Contact can happen in multiple ways. It can come from the lead car hitting the brakes and forcing the car behind to hit them, or it can come from the trailing car ramming into the car ahead. The first video replay did not make it clear what caused the contact, making it difficult for any official to rule one way or the other based solely on that.

This also is a time when NASCAR officials were monitoring safety vehicles on track, checking the lineup and making sure pit road was ready to be open. It’s something NASCAR does effortlessly much of the time. Just not this time. 

A different replay aired on USA 11 minutes, 16 seconds after the caution that showed Byron and Hamlin’s car together. That replay aired about a minute before the green flag waved at 8:31 p.m. ET. Throughout the caution, Hamlin’s crew chief, Chris Gabehart argued that Hamlin should have restarted second.

But once the race resumed, the matter was over for NASCAR. Or so it seemed.

Three minutes after the green flag waved, the NASCAR Twitter account posted in-car video that showed Byron running into the back of Hamlin’s car while the caution was out. Such action is typically a penalty — often parking a driver for the rest of the race. Instead, Byron was allowed to continue and nothing was done during the rest of the event. 

After the race, Miller told reporters that series officials didn’t see the contact from Byron. 

“The cameras and the monitors that we’ve got, we dedicate them mostly to officiating and seeing our safety vehicles and how to dispatch them,” Miller said. “By the time we put all those cameras up (on the monitor in the control tower), we don’t have room for all of the in-car cameras to be monitored.

“If we would have had immediate access to (Byron)’s in-car camera, that would have helped us a lot, being able to find that quickly. That’s definitely one of the things we’re looking at.”

But it didn’t happen that way.

”By the time we got a replay that showed the incident well enough to do anything to it, we had gone back to green,” Miller said.

NASCAR didn’t act. By that time maybe it was too late to do so. But that’s also an issue. Shouldn’t the infraction be addressed immediately if it is clear what happened instead of days later? Shouldn’t officials have been provided with access to the in-car cameras so they could have seen Byron’s actions earlier and meted the proper punishment? Instead, Miller hinted at a possible penalty to Byron this week.

Miller didn’t reveal details but it wouldn’t be surprising to drop Byron in the field, costing him points. He’s 24 points from the cutline, so a penalty that drops him from seventh to 30th (the position ahead of Truex) could be logical and that would cost Byron 23 points, putting him near the cutline. 

Texas winner Tyler Reddick said something should have been done. He knows. He was parked in a 2014 Truck race at Pocono for wrecking German Quiroga in retaliation for an earlier incident.

“In William’s situation, whether he ran him over on accident or on purpose, there should be some sort of penalty for him on that side because he’s completely screwed someone’s race up, whether it was on purpose or not,” Reddick said. “I feel like there should be something done there.

“I’m sure (NASCAR will) make some sort of a decision. I’m sure there will be something they’ll address this week, updates, on NASCAR’s side. I’ll be curious to see what that is. We can’t really have this where you dump someone under caution, they go to the back and you don’t. That could potentially be an interesting situation in the future.”

Texas shuffles NASCAR Cup playoff standings

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Texas marked the fourth consecutive playoff race that the winner didn’t advance to the next round.

All three races in the first round were won by drivers not in the playoffs. Tyler Reddick won Sunday at Texas, a week after he failed to advance from the Round of 16 and was eliminated from title contention.

Texas did shake up the playoff standings. Chase Elliott entered as the points leader but a blown tire while leading sent his car into the wall, ending his race. He falls to the No. 8 spot, the final transfer position with two races left in this round. He’s tied with Daniel Suarez, but Suarez has the tiebreaker with a better finish this round.

Chase Briscoe, who scored only his second top 10 in the last 22 races, is the first driver outside a transfer spot. He’s four points behind Elliott and Suarez. Austin Cindric is 11 points out of the transfer spot. Christopher Bell is 29 points out of a transfer position. Alex Bowman is 30 points from the transfer line.

The series races Sunday at Talladega (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

 

XFINITY SERIES

Noah Gragson’s win at Texas moved him on to the next round. The win was his fourth in a row.

Ryan Sieg and Sam Mayer are tied for the final two transfer spots to the next round. Riley Herbst is one point behind them. Daniel Hemric is eight points from the final transfer spot. Brandon Jones is 13 points from the last transfer spot. Jeremy Clements is 29 points shy of the final transfer position.

The series races Saturday at Talladega (4 p.m. ET on USA Network).

 

 

CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

The series was off this past weekend but returns to the track Saturday at Talladega. Ty Majeski has advanced to the championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

 

Winners and losers at Texas Motor Speedway

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A look at the winners and losers from Sunday’s marathon race at Texas Motor Speedway:

WINNERS

Tyler Reddick – Reddick isn’t acting like a lame duck. Headed for 23XI Racing in 2024 (if not sooner), Reddick now owns three wins with Richard Childress Racing, the team he’ll be leaving.

Justin Haley – Haley, who has shown flashes of excellence this season for Kaulig Racing, matched his season-high with a third-place run.

Chase Briscoe — Briscoe wrestled with major problems in the early part of the race but rebounded to finish fifth. It’s his second top-10 finish in the last 22 races.

LOSERS

NASCAR Officials – Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, admitted that series officials missed William Byron spinning Denny Hamlin under caution after Martin Truex Jr.‘s crash. Such a situation could have major playoff implications, although Miller hinted that series officials may still act this week.

Christopher Bell – Bell met the wall twice after blown tires and finished a sour 34th, damaging his playoff run in a race that he said was critical in the playoffs.

Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. – Harvick (finished 19th) and Truex (31st) were late-race victims of the day’s tire dilemma. Both crashed while leading.

Track workers  Somebody had to clean up all that tire debris.

Chase Elliott – Elliott remains a power in the playoffs, but he left Sunday’s race in a fiery exit after a blown tire while leading and finished 32nd. He holds the final transfer spot to the next round heading into Talladega.

 

 

Blown tires end race early for several Texas contenders

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A Goodyear official said that air pressures that teams were using contributed to some drivers blowing tires in Sunday’s Cup playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. all crashed while leading after blowing a tire. Among the others who had tire issues were Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher Cole Custer and Christopher Bell twice. 

“We’re gaining as much information as we can from the teams, trying to understand where they are with regard to their settings, air pressures, cambers, suspicions,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing Sunday. “For sure I can say without a doubt air pressure is playing into it. We know where a lot of the guys are. Some were more aggressive than others. We know that plays a part.

MORE: NASCAR says it missed William Byron spinning Denny Hamlin under caution 

“I’m not saying that’s the only thing, but it’s certainly a factor, so we’re just trying to understand everything else that is going on with regard to specific teams. We know a lot of guys have not had issues. We’ve had guys put full fuel runs on tires, but, obviously, other guys have had issues. We’ll be working with them to try to sort through that is.”

Eight of the 16 cautions were related to tire failures that caused drivers to spin or crash.

“It’s not a good look, that’s for sure,” Ryan Blaney said of the tire issues others had. “How many leaders blew tires tonight? Three or four?

“You just don’t understand what is making these things do that. From last week to this week, it’s really unfortunate. It’s just luck now.

“You never know if you’re going to blow one. You go into (Turn) 3 almost every lap with 40 laps on your stuff and I don’t know if one is going to blow out or not. That’s not safe. That’s for sure. Running (180) into (Turn) 3 and the thing blows out and you have no time to react to it. It’s unfortunate. I hope we can figure that out.”

Blaney said he was confused that the tires were blowing partly into a run instead of much earlier.

“It was weird because those tires didn’t blow right away,” he said. “Like the pressures were low. They blew like after a cycle or two on them, which is the weird thing.”

Asked how he handles that uncertainty, Blaney said: “Nothing I can do about it. Just hope and pray.”

After his crash, Elliott was diplomatic toward Goodyear’s situation:

“I’m not sure that Goodyear is at fault,” he said. “Goodyear always takes the black eye, but they’re put in a really tough position by NASCAR to build a tire that can survive these types of racetracks with this car. I wouldn’t blame Goodyear.”

Tyler Reddick, who won Sunday’s race at Texas, said his team made adjustments to the air pressure settings after Saturday’s practice.

“We ran enough laps, were able to see that we had been too aggressive on our right front tire,” he said. “So we made some adjustments going into the race, thankfully.”

This same time was used at Kansas and will be used again at Las Vegas next month in the playoffs. 

Reddick is hopeful of a change but also knows it might take time.

“I just think to a degree, potentially, as these cars have gotten faster and we’re getting more speed out of them, maybe, hypothetically speaking, we’re putting the cars through more load and more stress on the tire than they ever really thought we would be,” he said. 

“I know Goodyear will fix it. That’s what they do. It’s going to be a process. I know they’re going to be on top of it. Hey, they don’t want to see those failures. We don’t want to see them either. They’re going to be working on looking through and trying to find out exactly what is going on. We’ll all learn from it.

“It’s a brand-new car. It’s the first time in the history of our sport we’ve gone to an 18-inch wheel and independent rear suspension. All these things are way different, diffuser. All these things, way different. We’re all learning together. Unfortunately, just the nature of it, we’re having tire failures.”