Early race mishap at Texas Motor Speedway diminishes Gordon’s chance for fifth Championship

Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images

Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images

After a winning weekend at Martinsville on Oct. 27th that placed four-time Champion Jeff Gordon up to third in the NASCAR Chase Point Standings, Texas was the one  to disrupt the momentum the driver and team had found.

So what caused the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet to hit the wall early on in the race on Lap 75?

Here’s Gordon’s take on it – (obtained via Team Chevy post-race interview transcript):

Q) ON WHAT HAPPENED?

Gordon: “I just know that the left front went down as I was going down the front straightaway. I felt it before I got there, and I just couldn’t get it slowed down enough. I don’t know; the wind was so strong that the car was doing funky things down the straightaways. I don’t know if that was a slow leak, or if it just went all of a sudden. Our car just didn’t take off very good, but boy was it strong on the long runs. We just needed to get some better track position; get on the inside on those restarts, and we actually had a really, really good race car. But, unfortunate. This is definitely going to hurt. We just get what we can out of this day and go on to Phoenix.”

A Goodyear Racing spokesman reported that Gordon’s tire “somehow lost air,” as there were no obvious cuts in the tread. In Gordon’s case, the spokesman said the sidewall over-deflected and separated at the belt edge and lost pressure.

Q) DID YOU HAVE ANY WARNING WHATSOEVER?
Gordon: “It is hard to say. I drove around to come in the garage area, and sometimes that will do that. It didn’t give me enough of a warning, that is for sure. I was going down the front straightaway and I felt the car move around a little bit. That was odd. But, the wind was buffeting and blowing so strong, the cars are moving around anyway. Just before I got to turn one, I felt it go down. I did everything I could to slow it down. I even had time to come on the radio and say ‘Ut oh’. Well, I might have not said that, I said something else. I knew I was going to hit the wall. It is so unfortunate. This Drive to End Hunger No. 24 team has done such an amazing job. I am so proud of them to get us where we are. You just can’t have things like this happen if you are going to make a run at a championship or battle with those guys. We had a great race car. We just didn’t take off good on the restarts, but once we got going by eight to 10 laps into it, boy were we really strong.”

Gordon ran a total of 147 laps on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, finishing 38th – 187 laps down.

Starting Lineup of the Camping World RV Sales 500 at ‘Dega

 

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Talladega SuperSpeedway
Provided by NASCAR Statistics

Rain Saturday morning at Talladega Superspeedway caused qualifying to be canceled for the Camping World RV Sales 500 Sprint Cup Series race. The lineup was set by the rule book (based on practice times from Friday’s first session).

Starting
Position
Car# Driver Sponsor
Manu
First
Practice
Speed(mph)
Owner
Points
Rank
Race
Attempts
1 43 Aric Almirola Charter Ford 202.000 19 31
2 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevy 201.987 21 31
3 9 Marcos Ambrose DeWalt Ford 201.876 20 31
4 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 201.855 16 31
5 99 Carl Edwards Subway Ford 201.604 10 31
6 16 Greg Biffle Scotch Blue Ford 201.341 6 31
7 34 David Ragan Safecar.gov Ford 201.168 28 31
8 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Mountain Dew / XBox One Chevy 201.092 9 31
9 1 Jamie McMurray Cessna Chevy 201.071 15 31
10 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford 200.911 26 31
11 48 Jimmie Johnson (PC2) Lowe’s Chevy 200.100 2 31
12 20 Matt Kenseth (PC4) Home Depot Let’s Do This Toyota 199.492 1 31
13 2 Brad Keselowski (PC1) Miller Lite Ford 199.475 14 31
14 35 Josh Wise(i) A&W All American Food Ford 199.417 39 31
15 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Freight Toyota 199.342 25 31
16 14 Austin Dillon(i) Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevy 199.338 17 31
17 39 Ryan Newman WIX Filters Chevy 199.189 12 31
18 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 199.164 11 31
19 24 Jeff Gordon (PC5) Axalta Chevy 199.085 4 31
20 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota 199.031 8 31
21 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. # Nationwide Insurance Ford 198.850 23 31
22 55 Michael Waltrip Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota 198.784 24 31
23 10 Danica Patrick # GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevy 198.512 29 31
24 38 David Gilliland Long John Silver’s Ford 198.331 31 31
25 83 David Reutimann Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota 198.286 35 31
26 21 Trevor Bayne (i) Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 198.220 41 9
27 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Halloween Toyota 197.733 5 31
28 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevy 197.623 13 31
29 47 Bobby Labonte (PC6) Scott Products Toyota 197.598 27 31
30 78 Kurt Busch (PC3) Furniture Row / Wonder Bread Chevy 197.529 7 31
31 30 Cole Whitt(i) Black Clover Toyota 197.508 33 31
32 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevy 197.216 22 31
33 29 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John’s Chevy 196.879 3 31
34 27 Paul Menard Menards / Duracell Chevy 196.061 18 31
35 51 Justin Allgaier(i) Brandt Chevy 191.092 30 31
36 98 Michael McDowell Phil Parsons Racing Ford 189.133 43 28
37 36 J.J. Yeley Golden Corral Chevy 188.790 36 31
38 93 Travis Kvapil Dr Pepper Toyota 188.489 34 31
39 7 Dave Blaney Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevy 188.089 32 31
40 32 Terry Labonte (PC7) C&J Energy Services Ford 187.412 38 31
41 40 Tony Raines(i) Hillman Racing Chevy 186.947 42 11
42 87 Joe Nemechek (i) NEMCO – JRR Toyota 186.278 40 31
43 33 Landon Cassill(i) ERC Acquired TMone Chevy 184.494 37 31
DNQ 12 Sam Hornish Jr.(i) SKF Ford 199.172 48 1

GREEN = is a Chase driver.

PC1 = is the first past champ eligible, PC2 is the 2nd…and so on if more

# Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate

(i) = driver not running for 2013 Sprint Cup Series Championship Drivers Points

‘Dega Cup cars to be impounded after qualifying, as usual

Following qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event today – where there is no practice between qualifying and the race – the cars will be impounded. This move involves the cars to be escorted to their respective garage stalls by a NASCAR Official (with the exception of the top five cars, which will be placed in a designated area for post-qualifying inspection).

Birds eye view of Talladega Superspeedway. Photo Credit: Auburn Pilot

Birds eye view of Talladega Superspeedway. Photo Credit: Auburn Pilot

An impound weekend typically featured Friday practice, Saturday qualifying and a Sunday race only at the superspeedways (2+ mile tracks) – Talladega and Daytona. Following qualifying, cars were impounded and could not be altered until the race without penalty. Teams that opted to work on their cars before the race were forced to start at the back of the field. At non-impound races, cars could be worked on after qualifying and before the race. Impounding was implemented as a cost-cutting move.

Once the car is pushed to the garage stall, only two crew members will be allowed to remain in the garage.

The following work list will be allowed:

1. Shut off electrical switches and master power switch;
2. Remove radio;
3. Check air pressure in tires;
4. Cover the car; and,
5. Crew members exit garage and garage doors close.

Pit road selection will be immediately after the last car has qualified.

PROCEDURES FOR RACE DAY FOR ALL NASCAR SPRINT CUP TEAMS

Garage Stall
Maximum of two (2) crew members per car, accompanied by a NASCAR Official, will be allowed in the garage stall. Below are the procedures that will be completed in the garage stall:

Teams May:


1. Plug in oil heater (if teams use a generator, it must remain outside the garage);
2. Open hood;
3. Prime oil system;
4. Back car out of garage to start;
5. Turn master switch on;
6. Open oil cooler bypass valve (optional)’
7. Start engine;
8. Close hood;
9. Set tire pressure;
10. Torque wheels;
11. Install radio and water bottle;
12. Remove or repair tape on front of car (i.e. grille, valance, brake ducts.); and
13. If applicable, BST or Pi Research may replace equipment batteries under NASCAR supervision.

Teams May NOT:


1. Enter the garage without a NASCAR Official present;
2. Jack up any part of the car;
3. Add water or pressurize the cooling system;
4. Climb inside the car;
5. Adjust wedge bolts, shocks or sway bars;
6. Add fuel, oil or brake fluid;
7. Remove air box; or
8. Adjust fenders, spoiler or any body components.

Fuel Pumps:
A maximum of three (3) crew members per car at anytime, escorted by NASCAR Officials, may go to the fuel pumps. For Tracks 1 mile and under, a maximum of two gallons of fuel will be added. For Tracks 1 ½ miles, a maximum of three gallons of fuel will be added. For Tracks above 1 ½ miles, a maximum of four gallons of fuel will be added.

Height Platform

A maximum of three (3) crew members per car at anytime, accompanied by NASCAR Officials, may escort the respective car to the height platform.

Teams May:


1. Adjust front and rear wedge bolts: A maximum of one (1) turn for front bolts. A maximum of 1 ½ turn for rear bolts.
2. Adjust track bar at frame end adjuster. No maximum on track bar adjustment.
3. Adjust external shock bleeds.

Teams May NOT:


1. Change any components.
2. Add spring inserts.

Scales
A maximum of three (3) crew members per car at anytime, accompanied by NASCAR Officials, may escort the respective car to the scales. Any car that does not meet required weight specifications may be subject to penalty. After completion, the generator will be reconnected to the car and pushed to pit road.

Back in 2008, Sprint Cup impound races included Talladega, Richmond (May 3 & Sept. 6) and Daytona.

Five NASCAR Chase races down, five to go with five-way battle at ‘Dega

PrintWith the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at the mid-point now at five races down, five races to go, it’s still a five-way battle for the top spot with 37 points separating leader Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch. Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 500 at Talladega Superspeedway has the potential to scramble the standings and bring additional drivers into the championship picture. The winner of the Talladega Superspeedway Chase race has never gone on to win the championship.

After 25 times of trying, Matt Kenseth finally became the defending winner of the Camping World RV Sales 500. Kenseth also won the 2012 Daytona 500 and added third-place finishes in last season’s other to restrictor-plate races for an average finish of 2.0. Moving to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in 2013, Kenseth finished eighth in Talladega’s spring race.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion has yet to win Talladega’s fall race during the nine-season Chase era. Their best championship season finish is second – Jimmie Johnson in 2007 and Tony Stewart in 2011.

CHASE13 4C PRTJimmie Johnson is far from being titled the master of restrictor-plate racing with two victories at Daytona and a fifth-place finish in Talladega’s spring race. Rivals Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch each have at least one plate-race DNF this year.

The most active NASCAR Sprint Cup driver at Talladega is Jeff Gordon with six victories – the most recent in 2007 when he recorded a season sweep – and as leading most laps led with 839 laps in 40 starts. Teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. can match Gordon’s total by winning Sunday’s race.

Chase qualifiers Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth also have won at the 2.66-mile superspeedway with Boyer leading the series with the most Chase race wins at Talladega with two (2010 and 2011).  Chase Contenders have won five of the nine Chase races at Talladega Superspeedway. The four drivers that were not Chase Contenders that won the Chase race at Talladega were NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett (2005), Brian Vickers (2006), Jamie McMurray (2009) and Clint Bowyer (2011).

Front Row Motorsports’ David Ragan and David Gilliland ran one-two in Talladega’s spring race as further confirmation every driver in the 43-car field has a shot a victory at the super speedway, where anything can happen. Ragan tops a “spoiler” list that includes Charlotte Bank of America 500 winner Brad Keselowski, who captured his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega in 2009 and repeated last spring. Non-Chase drivers have won ‘Dega’s fall race four times – the most at any track in NASCAR’s postseason.

Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 500 from Talladega Superspeedway will air on ESPN at 2:00pm/et.

Chase Contenders
The Top 13 following race 31 of 36 / Chase Race #5
1. Matt Kenseth 2,225 7 2 1 110.7
2. Jimmie Johnson 2,221 5 2 2 107.9
3. Kevin Harvick 2,196 3 1 3 94.2
4. Jeff Gordon 2,189 0 2 4 92.2
5. Kyle Busch 2,188 4 3 5 102.5
6. Greg Biffle 2,167 1 0 6 83.1
7. Kurt Busch 2,166 0 1 7 94.4
8. Clint Bowyer 2,162 0 0 9 93.1
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,159 0 2 8 96.1
10. Carl Edwards 2,158 2 1 11 93.6
11. Joey Logano 2,150 1 2 10 90.6
12. Ryan Newman 2,147 1 2 12 82.4
13. Kasey Kahne 2,144 2 0 13 98.4

Michael Waltrip announces 2014 reorganization plan

michael_waltripMichael Waltrip Racing announced today its reorganization for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, highlighted by two full-time championship contending teams, a third entry which will run a limited schedule and a strengthened research and development group.

MWR will field the No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota and the No. 15 5-hour ENERGY/PEAK Toyota in its pursuit of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. To enhance performance for its two full-time teams, MWR has bolstered its R&D effort and will run a third car in select races, including Michael Waltrip in the 2014 Daytona 500.

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota and his crew chief, Chad Johnston, each have been notified they are free to negotiate with other teams. Scott Miller, the team’s executive vice president of competition, will continue his role as crew chief of the No. 55 team into the 2014 season.

The reorganization enabled MWR to retain more than 85 percent of its current workforce. Those whose positions were affected by the moves were notified Monday morning.

“Today was about doing what we had to do not what we wanted to do,” Kauffman added. “It was important to let those whose jobs were affected know as early as possible, and a majority of those will remain with MWR through the end of the season.”

Kyle Larson to make NASCAR Sprint Cup debut at Charlotte

NNS/NSCS driver Kyle Larson. Photo by Sandi Goodall/Racingal.com

NNS/NSCS driver Kyle Larson. Photo by Sandi Goodall/Racingal.com

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (EGR) announces today that young driving sensation, Kyle Larson, will make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) debut for Team Target in the Phoenix Racing No. 51 Target Chevrolet SS at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 12.

In addition, he will run the NSCS race in Martinsville in the No. 51 Target Chevrolet SS on Oct. 27.  In August, EGR announced that Larson would take over the reins of the No. 42 Target Chevy SS beginning in 2014.

Larson, who is currently running full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), will also compete in the NNS race at Charlotte in the No. 32 Target Camaro for Turner Scott Motorsports.  Next season, the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) Champion, will continue to run full-time in the NNS and compete for Rookie of the Year honors in the NSCS in the No. 42 Target Chevy SS.

EGRMedia

Roush Fenway “Driven for a Cause” to support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Roush Fenway Racing (RFR) will utilize its 2013 ‘Driven’ Marketing program in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. Through ‘Driven for a Cause,’ RFR will highlight cause awareness and support  the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) during the month of October.

Fans are encouraged to support the NBCF by donating at http://nbcf.org, and by using the hashtag #breastcancer to raise awareness on social media platforms.

D4CauseLogoAll of RFR’s race cars will carry special ‘pink ribbon Driven logos’ in each of the month’s events. In addition, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will run a special pink ‘Driven for a Cause’ paint scheme on his No. 17 Ford Fusion at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 27. Greg Biffle’s 3M Ford Fusion will also run a special pink themed scheme for the event.

RFR is offering “Driven for a Cause” merchandise, with a percentage of the proceeds going to the NBCF. RFR will also donate pieces of the No. 17 ‘Driven for a Cause’ Ford for auction, with proceeds benefiting the NBCF.

Source: RFR Press Release

Nationwide to leave title sponsorship to sponsor NASCAR Sprint Cup Team in 2015

NASCAR 4C(PRT)
NASCAR and Nationwide Insurance have finalized a new agreement to extend Nationwide’s position as the official auto, home, life and business insurance partner of NASCAR through 2017. As part of the new contract, Nationwide Insurance also will become the presenting sponsor of the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award.
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The insurer, in its sixth year of a seven-year agreement as title sponsor of the NASCAR Nationwide Series, will pivot from its series entitlement sponsorship and focus its NASCAR marketing programs on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beginning in 2015.
Nationwide Insurance will look to build a more consistent presence in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series enabling its message to reach an even larger NASCAR audience.
Nationwide Insurance also will sponsor the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. The NASCAR Foundation presents the award to a NASCAR fan who embodies the ideals of charity and community that Mrs. France has championed throughout her life. Nominees for the award honor the spirit of NASCAR, demonstrating goodwill and generosity in the interest of helping children in need. One winner receives a $100,000 donation to direct to the children’s charity of their choice along with a NASCAR experience of a lifetime. The top three remaining finalists receive $25,000 to direct to their children’s charity of choice.
Source: NASCARMedia Press Release

2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup clinch scenarios heading into Richmond

RACE13 4C PRTBelow are the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers and clinch scenarios for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, the final race before the Chase field is set.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers are not locked into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but who are eligible for spots in the Chase:
·         Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet
·         Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford
·         Greg Biffle, driver of the No.16 Scotchgard Ford
·         Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Sealy Chevrolet
·         Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
·         Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
·         Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet
·         Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford
·         Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 1 Cessna Chevrolet
Four drivers control their top-10 clinching destiny. Regardless of the finishes of any other driver…
Dale Earnhardt Jr., currently seventh in points, will clinch a top-10 spot with a finish of 32nd or better, 33rd with at least one lap led or 34th with the most laps led.
Joey Logano, currently eighth in points, will clinch a top-10 spot with a finish of 11th or better, 12th and at least one lap led or 13th and the most laps led.
Greg Biffle, currently ninth in points, will clinch a top-10 spot with a finish of ninth or better, 10th and at least one lap led or 11th and the most laps led.
Kurt Busch, currently 10th in points, will clinch a top-10 spot by winning, finishing second with at least one lap led or finishing third with the most laps led.
The remaining mathematically eligible drivers need help to clinch a top-10 spot. Some, however, control their own Wild Card destiny (a win would guarantee at least a Wild Card spot).
Jeff Gordon: Currently 11th in points, Gordon would clinch at least a Wild Card spot with a victory at Richmond. Gordon, currently six points outside the top 10, remains eligible for a top 10 spot.
Kasey Kahne: Kahne, currently 12th in points, has already clinched at least a Wild Card spot. Ten points outside the top 10, Kahne remains eligible for a top 10 spot.
Martin Truex Jr.: Currently 13th in points, Truex would clinch at least a Wild Card spot with a victory at Richmond. Fifteen points outside the top 10, Truex remains eligible for a top 10 spot. Truex, currently holding the provisional No. 2 Wild Card spot, could clinch a Wild Card spot without a victory.
Ryan Newman: Currently 14th in points, Newman would clinch at least a Wild Card spot with a victory at Richmond. Twenty points outside the top 10, Newman remains eligible for a top 10 spot. Newman could clinch a Wild Card spot without a win (Logano and Biffle must remain in the top 10 or be replaced by Kahne; Newman must out-point Truex by six points; Gordon must not win; and Brad Keselowski or Jamie McMurray cannot win and overtake Newman).
Brad Keselowski: Currently 28 points outside the top 10, Keselowski remains eligible for a top-10 spot. Currently winless, Keselowski must win to be in contention for a Wild Card spot. Mathematically there will be at least two drivers outside the top 10 with wins. To clinch, Keselowski would need to win and outpoint Truex by 13 and Newman by eight (and would only need to outpoint one of these drivers if Kahne would displace a winless driver from the top 10). If Truex or Newman displaces Kurt Busch from the top 10, he would need to outpoint the other one-win driver remaining outside the top 10 by the requisite amount.
Jamie McMurray: Currently 39 points outside the top 10, McMurray remains eligible for a top-10 spot. Currently winless, McMurray must win to be in contention for a Wild Card spot. To clinch, McMurray would need to win and outpoint either Truex by 25 and Newman by 19 (and would only need to outpoint one of these drivers if Kahne would displace a winless driver from the top 10). If Truex or Newman displace Kurt Busch from the top 10, he would need to outpoint the other one-win driver remaining outside the top 10 by the requisite amount.
Paul Menard: To clinch, Menard would need to win and outpoint Truex by 47 and Newman by 42 (and would only need to outpoint one of these drivers if Kahne would displace a winless driver from the top 10). If Truex or Newman displace Kurt Busch from the top 10, he would need to outpoint the other one-win driver remaining outside the top 10 by the requisite amount.
Rules for the 2013  The NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase System:
  1. Twelve drivers will run the Chase
  2. The top 10 in points following Race No. 26 — the “cutoff” race — to earn Chase berths.
  3. The final two spots will be determined by the number of wins during the first 26 races.
  4. Positions 11 and 12 are “wild card” qualifiers and will go to non-top-10-ranked drivers with the most wins, as long as they’re ranked in the top 20 in points. Ties are broken by points position, then by 2nd place finishes, 3rd, etc.
  5. The top-10 Chase drivers will be seeded based on wins during the first 26 races, with each win worth three bonus points.
  6. The wild card drivers will not receive bonus points for wins and will be seeded 11th and 12th, respectively.
  7. The top 12 drivers will be reset to 2000 points, drivers 1-10 will get three- bonus points per win.
  8. Wild card drivers get no bonus points for wins
  • The top-10 drivers will make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Positions 11 and 12 in the 12-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup are Wild Cards, and will go to drivers outside the top 10 with the most wins, as long as they are ranked in the top 20 in points. If multiple drivers outside the top 10 tie for wins, the tie-breaker will go to the race winner with the highest points position.

The lineup for the Chase for the 2013 Sprint Cup will be decided after the 26th race of the season at Richmond this Saturday Night on September 7, 2013. Stay tuned!


Who to watch at New Hampshire Motor Speedway?

campingworld301_13New Hampshire Motor Speedway, host to Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 is the eighth and final stop during the regular season at a track that also hosts a race in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

So are you wondering which drivers to watch out for this weekend?

The No. 78 Furniture Row Racing made its NSCS debut in 2005 as the single-car Chevrolet owned team located in Denver, Colo. Driver Kurt Busch has made it the first time this team has placed a driver in the top 10. Busch jumped to ninth place in the standings, from 22nd in late April, following a sixth-place finish in Saturday’s Coke Zero 400. Busch has three New Hampshire victories including a 2004 championship season sweep. Busch has four top-10 finishes in his most recent five races. The former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion has won three times in New Hampshire including a season sweep in 2004. Expect to see the Furniture Row Racing Team move up a few more spots this weekend.

Denny Hamlin’s fast-fading hope of salvaging a Chase Wild Card most likely hinges upon Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Hamlin finished second in last year’s summer race and returned in September to claim his second victory at the 1.058-mile layout.

Clint Bowyer won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire in September 2007. He enjoyed a solid 2012 at the track with finishes of third and fourth. Bowyer ranks second in the standings, only 49 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. Bowyer is one of just three drivers among the current top 10 without a victory and potential Chase bonus points when the standings reset for the postseason.

With last weekend’s race, the Coke Zero 400 scrambled the Chase Wild Card structure. Tony Stewart’s second-place finish took the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion from potential Wild Card to 10th in the standings. He counts three victories among 10 top-three finishes overall at NHMS.

Be sure to tune into TNT at 1 pm/et on Sunday for the NSCS Camping World RV Sales 301.