Chase for Sprint Cup

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2016 Season in Review: Jamie McMurray

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Jamie McMurray

CREW CHIEF: Matt McCall

TEAM: Chip Ganassi Racing

POINTS: 13th

WINS: 0

LAPS LED: 0

TOP 5s: 2 (fewest since 2012)

TOP 10s: 12 (most since 2013)

POLES: 0

WHAT WENT RIGHT: McMurray qualified for the Chase for the second consecutive season and again finished inside the top 15 in points … Had just two DNFs on the season

WHAT WENT WRONG: Went winless for the third consecutive season. Also failed to lead a lap in 2016, which is the first time McMurray has failed to do so in a season … Was in a position to advance through the first round of the Chase when engine blew in the elimination race at Dover.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2017: McMurray returns for his 15th full-time season still seeking his first championship.

Jimmie Johnson’s inspiring quest to join Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty (video)

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Since winning his sixth championship in 2013, the chance to join legends Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt with a record of seven titles has weighed on Jimmie Johnson‘s mind.

Today, Johnson accomplished the feat.

Here is Ken Squier on the now three drivers who stand atop the NASCAR championship mountain.

Ryan Newman paces opening Sprint Cup practice at Homestead

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Ryan Newman was fastest in the first and only practice session for the Sprint Cup Series Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a lap of 175.387 mph.

Newman was the fastest of three non-Chase drivers in the top five. Martin Truex Jr. was second with a lap of 175.353 mph while Kyle Larson was third fastest at 175.256 mph.

Championship contenders Joey Logano (175.165 mph) and Jimmie Johnson (174.944 mph) rounded out the top five.

The two remaining Chase drivers, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards, were eighth and ninth fastest respectively. Busch with a lap of 174.514 mph and Edwards with a lap of 174.458 mph.

Brian Scott, who will retire from NASCAR racing after this weekend, brushed the wall early in the 1 hour, 25-minute session. He was able to drive the car back to the garage after suffering right side damage.

Click here to see complete Sprint Cup practice speeds

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Kevin Harvick outruns Carl Edwards to win Hollywood Casino 400

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Kevin Harvick took advantage of Carl Edwards dueling with a teammate to lead the final 30 laps and win the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Harvick clinches a spot in the third round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup with the win.

The No. 4 was followed by Edwards, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch.

Harvick, who led 74 laps, has won the second race in both rounds of the Chase so far. He won at New Hampshire in the first round.

“These races are hard to win and these guys are so good at the details,” Harvick told NBC Sports. “You put their backs against the wall and they get better.”

Harvick first took the lead on Lap 126 from Matt Kenseth, who led 116 laps before the halfway point before fading to finish ninth. Harvick then led 43 laps. In the middle of the race, a slow pit stop sent Harvick deep into the top 10, but Harvick returned to the point on the final restart. Edwards got into a tense battle with Busch, allowing Harvick to jump out to a 2.5-second lead.

Since the elimination format of the Chase debuted in 2014, Harvick has never been eliminated from a round.

“It’s hard to keep yourself motivated and perform at a high level, so to be able to come out and do it for three years says a lot about the character of this team and the things that they do,” Harvick said. “I’ve done a poor job (on restarts) the first half of the year. We struggled with some ratios and timing. We came up with some good ratios and things that really fit what we are doing.”

Harvick’s fourth win of the year gives him 35 Sprint Cup victories.

MORE: Race results

MORE: Point standings

HOW KEVIN HARVICK WON: Harvick overtook Carl Edwards on the final restart with 30 to go and led the rest of the way unchallenged.

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Carl Edwards led 61 laps and earned his first top five since Kentucky in July … Joey Logano finished third a week after placing 36th at Charlotte … Jimmie Johnson followed up his Charlotte win with a fourth-place finish … Alex Bowman bounced back from early contact with Jamie McMurray and an unscheduled pit stop to finish seventh for his career-best finish and his second top 10 … A.J. Allmendinger finished eighth for his sixth top 10 of the season and his first since Bristol in August … Kasey Kahne‘s 10th-place finish gives him six top 10s in the last seven races.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Aric Almirola and David Ragan caused a caution on Lap 37 when they got together. Almirola finished 40th, Ragan in 36th … Jamie McMurray hit the wall on Lap 44 after making contact with Alex Bowman. McMurray finished 37th … Kyle Larson hit the outside wall on Lap 177 to bring out the caution. Larson finished 30th … Brad Keselowski was turned by Denny Hamlin as they exited Turn 4 on Lap 190. Keselowski went sliding through the frontstretch grass, receiving significant damage. Keselowski finished 38th, earning his first DNF since the 2015 Daytona 500 … Denny Hamlin finished 15th after having to pit three times under one caution for splitter damage and being called for three pit road penalties late.

Notable: The last four Kansas races have been won by a different driver … Chevrolet has won 11 of the 22 Sprint Cup races held at Kansas.

Quote of the Day: “With this format I had a big points gap coming in. With this format it is probably the smart thing to do but I don’t want to race like that. I want to race my guts out and go for wins. I don’t want to points race. I don’t care what the damn format is, I am going to give it my best.” – Brad Keselowski after finishing 38th

NEXT: Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Martin Truex Jr. wins Chase opener at Chicagoland in overtime

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Martin Truex Jr. needed less than a lap in overtime in order to take the lead and win the Chase opening Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Truex had to pass Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Ryan Blaney to get to the lead, which he took going into Turn 3.

“Darlington all over again, right?” Truex said to NBC Sports in victory lane. “The racing gods don’t want us leading too much, they got to make it difficult on us.”

This is the second time in three races Truex has won after leading less than 35 laps. He won the Southern 500 after leading just 28.

Truex started fifth after Kevin Harvick went to the back of the field for an unapproved adjustment. After leading 30 laps from Laps 22-51, the racing gods forced the No. 78 to pit road for a shredded tire.

“It was a long way to go at that point,” Truex said. “I was like, ‘On the one hand, here’s the bad luck that’s going to bite us again and on the other we’ve got a long time to pick it up. We’re lucky it happened early.”

By Lap 80, Truex had passed Harvick to get the free pass spot. Truex returned to the lead lap on Lap 121 after a caution for a spin by Brian Scott, but the struggles weren’t completely over.

“In the middle of the race we weren’t that good and we got back in traffic,” said Truex, who was in 15th by the halfway point on Lap 134 and then seventh by Lap 201. “Harvick ran into us and bent our fender I think on purpose and had to come back from that.”

He was in second when a caution came out for Michael McDowell losing a tire with four laps left, sending the race to overtime. Truex then beat Chase Elliott off pit road and restarted fourth.

The win is Truex’s third of the season, the sixth of his career and his first ever in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Truex is now qualified for the second round of the Chase.

“We have more races to win and we can win some,” Truex said.

Following Truex were Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski.

MORE: Results and statistics from Chicagoland

MORE: Point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Chase Elliott led a career-high 75 laps and finished third for his eighth top five … Ryan Blaney finished fourth as the highest finishing non-Chase driver … Alex Bowman led for the third time in his Sprint Cup career and finished 10th for his first career top 10 … Matt Kenseth received a speeding penalty and recovered to finish ninth.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Jimmie Johnson led a race-high 118 laps, but was caught speeding on pit road during green flag stops with 30 to go after pitting from second. Johnson finished 12th … Richard Petty Motorsports caused the first two cautions. A loose tire from Aric Almirola’s pit caused the first on Lap 49 … Brian Scott spun exiting Turn 4 on Lap 121 … Kyle Busch ran in the top five all day until he was caught speeding during green flag stops on Lap 173. Busch finished eighth … After starting from the rear, Kyle Larson slowly made his way into the top five. His day ended in 18th, a lap down after having to pit late for tire problem.

NOTABLE: Truex is only the second driver to win at Chicagoland after starting in the top five … Jimmie Johnson led more than 100 laps for the first time since the April 2015 race at Texas Motor Speedway … Hendrick Motorsports had only led 122 laps in the previous 12 races … Hendrick has now gone 22 races since its last win, matching its third-longest streak in team history.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I need to go run my head through a wall, maybe I’ll feel better.” – Jimmie Johnson after finishing 12th following a late pit road speeding penalty

WHAT’S NEXT: New England 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN