NASCAR announces new qualifying format for all three National Series

NASCAR 4C(PRT)

In a move aimed toward enhancing the fan experience watching at the track and at home, NASCAR has announced a new group qualifying format for its three national series that is more compelling, more closely emulates actual on-track competition and underlines the sport’s on-going commitment to innovation.

At tracks measuring 1.25 miles in length or larger, (Atlanta Motor Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Daytona International Speedway, Gateway Motorsports Park, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Mid-Ohio, Pocono Raceway, Road America, Sonoma Raceway, Talladega Superspeedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Watkins Glen International) qualifying for the Coors Light Pole Award will consist of three rounds:

·         The first qualifying elimination round will be 25 minutes in duration and includes all cars / trucks. The 24 cars / trucks that post the fastest single lap from the first qualifying round will advance to the second round.

·         The remaining cars / trucks will be sorted based on their times posted in the first round of qualifying in descending order.

·         The second qualifying elimination round will be 10 minutes in duration and the 12 cars / trucks that post the fastest single lap time will advance to the third and final round. The fastest remaining cars / trucks earn positions 13th through 24th based on their times posted in qualifying in descending order.

·         The third and final qualifying round will be five minutes in duration and the fastest single lap time will determine positions 1st through 12th in descending order.

·         There will be a five-minute break between each qualifying round.

At tracks measuring less than 1.25 miles, (Bristol Motor Speedway, Dover International Speedway, Iowa Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway, Richmond International Racewayqualifying for the Coors Light Pole Award will consist of two rounds:

·         The first qualifying elimination round will be 30 minutes in duration and includes all cars / trucks. The 12 cars / trucks that post the fastest single lap time from the first qualifying round will advance to the second and final round.

·         The remaining cars / trucks will be sorted based on their times posted in the first round of qualifying in descending order.

·         There will be a 10-minute break between the two qualifying rounds.

·         The second and final qualifying round will be 10 minutes in duration and the fastest single lap time posted will determine positions 1st through 12th in descending order.

The new qualifying format does not apply to the Daytona 500, which will preserve its historic and unique qualifying format. Additionally, it does not apply to non-points NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events or the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Eldora Speedway.

NASCAR previewed the concept of group qualifying with its national series teams late last fall and expects the new format will be a well-received improvement by its fans, competitors, tracks, sponsors and media partners.

“We believe the timing is right for a new qualifying format across our three national series,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president for competition and racing development. “This style of group qualifying has all the makings of being highly competitive and more engaging to our fans in the stands and those watching on television and online. For the drivers and teams, we believe this new qualifying will fuel even greater competition leading into the events. Additionally, it provides our tracks, broadcasters and other key partners with a greater opportunity to develop more entertaining content for our race weekends.”

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.
Print
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

NASCAR Series Award Banquet broadcast schedules

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AWARD BANQUET

Friday, Nov. 30th
SPEED at 8:00pm/et with live coverage from The Wynn Las Vegas

Also covered LIVE on Motor Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

NASCAR NATIONWIDE & CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES AWARD BANQUET
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 25, and James Buescher, 22, officially were proclaimed champions of the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, respectively, on the Americana Ballroom stage at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel following the season finale at Homestead Motor Speedway. .

Thursday, Nov. 29th
SPEED at 8 to 10 p.m. ET

Phoenix International Raceway is the place to be this weekend – plan ahead

 

SOLD OUT!
Phoenix International Raceway’s grandstands are sold out for the AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race on November 11th. Fans may still purchase general admission tickets to PIR’s hillside area by calling 866-408-RACE or visiting PhoenixRaceway.com.

REMINDER:  Phoenix International Raceway announced that NASCAR has moved Gatorade Pole Qualifying for the semi-final race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup to Friday, Nov. 9 at 4:10 p.m. Gates open to the public Friday at 9 a.m. A full day of activity on the track will be highlighted by Gatorade Pole Qualifying and the running of the Lucas Oil 150 Camping World Truck Series race at 6 p.m.

PRACTICES/QUALIFYING/RACES
Thursday, November 8th:
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Practice & NASCAR K&N Pro Series – West Practice 
3:00 p.m.     Spectator Gates Open
3:30 p.m. – 4:25 p.m.     NCWTS Practice
4:35 p.m. – 5:25 p.m.     NKNPS-W Practice
5:35 p.m – 7:35 p.m.     NCWTS Final Practice

Friday, November 9th:
2:30 p.m. NCWTS Qualifying
4:10 p.m. NSCS Qualifying
Lucas Oil 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race

Saturday, November 10th:
8:30 a.m.  NKNPS-W Qualifying
10:35 a.m. NNS Qualifying
2:00 p.m.     Great Clips 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series Race. (200 laps, 200 miles)
5:00 p.m.     Casino Arizona 50 NASCAR K&N Pro Series – West Race (50 laps, 50 miles)

Sunday, November 11th: 
AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race

PRE-RACE PERFORMANCES/SPECIAL APPEARANCES
Country music duo The Lost Trailers- known for their current hit “American Beauty”- will perform at 11 a.m. on Sunday, November 11 at the Budweiser ROLL-BAR main stage prior to the AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.

Country singer Chelsea Bain will be singing National Anthem for Phoenix Nationwide race
Pop singer/songwriter and actress JoJo will sing “The Star Spangled Banner” prior to the AdvoCare 500 Semi-Final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, November 11.

Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight champion, and former star of The Ultimate Fighter Live on FX, Dominick Cruz has been named Honorary Pace Car Driver for the AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, November 11.

ENTERTAINMENT
Fans attending the AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend at Phoenix International Raceway will be treated to hearing from some of NASCAR’s top drivers prior to the action on the track Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 10-11. PIR race fans will have an opportunity to visit with 2012 Chase contender Kevin Harvick, racing legend and five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series runner-up Mark Martin, Arizona native Michael McDowell and 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series runner-up Elliott Sadler and much more.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Event Time Location
Harry Luge Jr. 9pm-11pm SPEED Cantina

Friday, November 9, 2012

Event Time Location
Furious George Band 9pm-10:30pm Budweiser ROLL-BAR Stage
Harry Luge Jr. 9pm-11pm SPEED Cantina

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Event Time Location
Harry Luge Jr. 7pm-8:30pm SPEED Cantina
Chad Freeman and Redline 9pm-11pm SPEED Cantina

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Event Time Place
The Lost Trailers 11am-11:45am Budweiser ROLL-BAR Stage

(Entertainment schedule and locations subject to change)

NASCAR Nationwide & Camping World Truck Series’ autograph Sessions – KENTUCKY

Thursday, Sept. 20
Tim George & the #2 Applebee’s Team
7:30pm/et
Applebee’s
7383 Turfway Road
Florence, KY

Friday, September 21
Ty Dillon
2:00pm/et
UNOH display located in the fan midway at Kentucky Speedway

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivers
3:00 – 3:45pm/et
Kentucky Speedway
Kentucky Speedway ticket holders can meet their favorite drivers and get an autograph in the fan concourse prior to qualifying for the Kentucky 201.

Cole Whitt
1:00pm/et
Clean Coal display located in the fan midway at Kentucky Speedway.

Saturday, September 22
NASCAR Nationwide Series Drivers
11:00 –11:45pm/et
At Kentucky Speedway

NASCAR Sprint Cup & Nationwide race info – WATKINS GLEN

 

 

 

 

 

 

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Track: Watkins Glen International
Size: 2.45-mile paved road course
Laps: 90 laps, 220.5 miles (355 k)
# of Turns: 11
Variety of Banking: In turns ranging from 6 degrees to 10 degrees
Frontstretch: 2,141 feet
Backstretch: 1,839 feet.
First WGI Race: 1986
Grandstand Capacity: approx 41,000
Opened: 1956

COVERAGE:
NSCS Practices: Friday, August 10, 12:00 – 1:50 pm/et on SPEED
NSCS Happy Hour ‘Final’ practice: Friday, August 10, 4:10 – 5:30 pm/et on SPEED
NSCS Qualifying: Saturday, August 11 at 11:40 am/et on ESPN2
NASCAR Countdown Pre-Race show: 12:00 pm/et on ESPN2
Race Coverage: Sunday, August 12, 2012 on ESPN at 1:00 pm/et
Green flag: Approx 1:18pm/et
Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN) & Sirius XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 90
Race Re-Airs: on SPEED, Wednesday, August 15 at 12:00pm/et

STORY LINES
2012 Sprint Cup Driver Chase Wild-Card Raceafter Pocono, race #21 of 36
A look at the race for the two wild-card positions for the Chase based on wins and being inside the top 20 in points.

First two would make the chase as wild cards:
No. 5-Kasey Kahne [2 wins] 11th -57 points out of 10th
No. 24-Jeff Gordon [1 win] 13th -68

Jeff Gordon joined Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne at the top of the “wild card” standings with five races remaining until the post-season lineup of 12 drivers is set. Gordon might need another victory to cement his “wild card” status but has won a combined 18 races at tracks left in the Race to the Chase. He is a four-time winner at the next stop – Sunday’s road race at Watkins Glen International – but not since 2001.

Eight other drivers currently in the running for the wild cards:
No. 39-Ryan Newman [1 win] 14th -68
No. 18-Kyle Busch [1 win] 15th -80
No. 20-Joey Logano [1 win] 17th -104
No. 99-Carl Edwards 12th -60
No. 27-Paul Menard 16th -82
No. 9-Marcos Ambrose 18th -126
No. 1-Jamie McMurray 19th -144
No. 31-Jeff Burton 20th -152
(ties broken by 1sts, 2nds, 3rd, etc)

Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was well on his way to the provisional No. 1 Chase seed at Pocono until spinning from the lead on a 91st lap restart. Johnson, Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski remain deadlocked at three wins apiece. This week could be Stewart’s time to shine. The three-time and reigning champion is the leading winner at The Glen (five) most recently in 2009. Johnson, a road course winner at Sonoma, has yet to score at Watkins Glen while Keselowski finished second there a year ago.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. retained the NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead despite a transmission failure at Pocono Raceway. The difference of just eight points are between first and fourth place with Earnhardt trailed by Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Johnson.

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES

 

 

 

 

 

Watkins Glen
Race #21 of 33
82 Laps, 200.9 Miles

Practice: Friday, August 10th at 2:00 pm-4:00 pm on SPEED
Qualifying: Saturday, August 11th at 9:35 am on ESPN2
Race: Saturday, August 11, 2012 in Watkins Glen, NY
TV Race Coverage: ABC, 2:00 pm/et
Scheduled Green Flag (approx): 2:35pm/et

STORY LINES
Elliott Sadler extended his championship lead over Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon to 18 points and became the first points-eligible driver to score four wins in his “home” national series. Leader Sadler has the most experience at turning right and left – notably in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as well as in NASCAR Nationwide. Sadler finished 10th a year ago at Watkins Glen International where racing resumes on Saturday. He was 15th in June’s first road course event at Road America in Wisconsin.

To become a first-time Glen winner, however, will require vanquishing Canadian Ron Fellows. The international road racing star won three out of four NASCAR Nationwide starts from 1998 to 2001. Ron Fellows will drive the JR Motorsports #5.

Carl Edwards, the 2007 series champion, will make his first start of the year in the Roush Fenway Racing No. 60 Ford. Other NASCAR Sprint Cup competitors entered are former champions Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard and Joey Logano.

Source: NASCARMedia/Stats

UPDATED 11/28: Cha, cha, cha changes starting with Nationwide, Sprint Cup Series teams

It was announced today from Stewart-Haas Racing that Steve Addington is the new crew chief for Tony Stewart.

Also: Drew Blickensderfer named crew chief for No. 31 Jeff Burton for the Caterpillar/Wheaties Racing Team at RCR. Luke Lambert to be reassigned to TBD position at RCR. (via Twitter)

STEWART HAAS RACING

Darian Grubb, [former

Steve Addington called Kurt Busch on Monday around 4 p.m. Monday afternoon to inform the driver he was “indeed leaving” the team. According to an article in USA Today, Addington HAS indeed joined Stewart-Haas Racing as Crew Chief of the No. 14 newly crowned three Time Champion. No formal announcement has been made from Stewart Haas Racing.

Busch had lost crew chief Pat Tryson after the 2009 season, when Tryson left Penske to work for Michael Waltrip Racing.

 

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING

Long-time RCR crew chiefs Shane Wilson and Gil Martin have taken new assignments with the 14-time championship-winning organization.

Wilson has been named the crew chief of the No. 29 Budweiser/Rheem/Jimmy John’s team with driver Kevin Harvick after three seasons in the same position with RCR’s No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team. Martin, the No. 29 team crew chief since May 2009 and a crew chief at RCR since August 2000, has been named director of team operations, reporting to director of competition Kent Day.

This is not the first time Wilson and Harvick have worked together. They joined forces in 2006 to earn 10 wins, 24 top-five and 31 top-10 finishes on the way to that season’s NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. The team’s 824-point margin of victory is a series record.

 

EARNHARDT GANASSI RACING WITH FELIX SEBATES

Juan Montoya, driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Photo credit: Sandi Goodall/Racingal.com

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced that Chris Heroy has been named crew chief of the #42 Target Chevy with driver Juan Pablo Montoya. Heroy takes over the role effective immediately in preparation for the 2012 season. Heroy joins Earnhardt Ganassi Racing from Hendrick Motorsports where he began in 2004, most recently as lead engineer on the # 5 car for six of the previous seven years. The other year he held the same role on the #88. In addition, he was paired with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson as crew chief in a number or their Nationwide Series races during the 2011 season. Interim crew chief Jim Pohlman, who took over the #42 team at the end of July, will remain with the organization.

 

SIGNIFICANT LAYOFFS AT ROUSH-FENWAY RACING

Multiple sources have confirmed significant layoffs this week at Roush Fenway Racing. According to sources, more than 100 workers were released by the team Monday and Tuesday. One source put the number at 125. Prior to today, the team employed about 440 people.

Roush Fenway is expected to reduce its NASCAR Sprint Cup car count from four cars to three next season, with the #6 driven by David Ragan likely to be shuttered. At last report, the team is also without sponsors for the #17 of Matt Kenseth. The team may also reduce the size of its NASCAR Nationwide Series operations from three cars to one or two.

Kyle Busch’s Nationwide sponsor requests other driver for Homestead finale

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota, enters the NASCAR hauler prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway. Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR.

UPDATE  Statement from M&Ms:

Mars, Incorporated announced that they will be removing Kyle Busch from driving the M&M’S car for the remaining two races of the 2011 NASCAR season as a result of the incident during last Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. The car will not run with the M&M’S paint scheme until 2012, at which time Kyle Busch will be the driver with the expectation that no future incident take place.

“As a proud member of the racing community, Mars and the M&M’S brand strongly support the partnership we have with Joe Gibbs Racing and are committed to NASCAR. Yet, Kyle’s recent actions are unacceptable and do not reflect the values of Mars,” said Debra A. Sandler, Chief Consumer Officer, Mars Chocolate North America. “While we do not condone Kyle’s recent actions, we do believe that he has shown remorse and has expressed a desire to change. We believe our decision will have a positive impact on Kyle and will help him return next season ready to win.”

“We strongly support Mars’ decision,” said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. “This gives us all time to work together to foster a positive change where Kyle can continue racing in a way we can all be proud of.”

 

Interstate Batteries, a partner of Joe Gibbs Racing since the team’s inception 20 years ago, will be featured on the #18 Toyota Camry driven by Busch for the final two races of the Sprint Cup Series season.

JGR

***************************

According to the Associated Press, multiple people familiar with Busch’s schedule told the AP that Z – Line Designs asked this week that Denny Hamlin replace Busch in next weekend’s Nationwide race at Homestead. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because Busch’s future was still being discussed Thursday with sponsors and Joe Gibbs Racing.

 

Sources are also reporting that Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota Camry is being re-wrapped to carry Interstate Battereis, as the sponsor instead of M&M’s. Is that a sign that JGR has sided with Kyle Busch over a major money primary sponsor? We all have seen that M&M’s Racing was very disappointed in Busch for his actions and “hold those who represent our brand to a higher standard.”

 

Busch has been off the track since he intentionally wrecked Ron Hornaday Jr. under caution in the early laps of last Friday’s Truck Series race at Texas.

 

Busch has admitted he lost control of his temper, and has since apologized. NASCAR parked him from all racing at Texas, and this week fined him $50,000 and placed him on probation through the end of the year.

 

So Busch has had a rough year. Let’s recap:

 

• Had a mishap on pit road with Harvick at Darlington that earned him a $25,000 fine and a four-race probation.

 

• Lost his North Carolina driver’s license and was fined $1,000 for driving 128 mph in a 45-mph zone in May. He also was ordered to do 30 hours of community service and serve a year of unsupervised probation.

 

• Busch also was in a confrontation in the garage with rival team owner Richard Childress. NASCAR cleared Busch of any wrongdoing.

 

• Busch also had contact with Elliott Sadler during a Bristol Truck race in August, then intentionally wrecked Sadler a few minutes later as retaliation. Sadler drives for Harvick, a longtime Busch rival, in the Nationwide Series.

 

For the 2011 season, Busch has four wins in the Cup Series, eight in Nationwide and six in Trucks. He said last month he’ll field a full-time Nationwide team next season and planned to drive for himself in some of those races.

 

However, being a good driver doesn’t mean everyone likes Busch. He is disliked by fans for everything from his success, his feuds with Harvick and others, and his aggressive on-track driving and arrogant attitude.

And don’t forget that Hendrick Motorsports let Busch go in 2007 to make room for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

AP

 

Newly repaved Phoenix International Raceway gives Chase contenders even racing field

Race: 35 of 36

Track Size: 1 mile

Banking/1 and 2: 10 – 11 degrees

Banking/3 and 4: 8 – 9 degrees

Banking/Frontstretch: 3 degrees

Banking/Backstretch: 9 degrees

Frontstretch: 1,179 feet

Backstretch: 1,551 feet

 

So, with Phoenix having been recently repaved and reconfigured, I’m throwing out the stats from 2011 and starting with NOTHING – just like the teams. (except for those that tested a couple of months ago).

 

The track underwent its first repave this year. The construction began in March and concluded in September of 2011.  The following changes were made during the construction period:

 

·         Widened the frontstretch from 52 to 62 feet

·         Reconfigured pit road with the installation of concrete pit stalls

·         Pushed the dog-leg curve between Turn 2 and Turn 3 out 95 feet

·         Tightened the turn radius of the dog-leg from 800 to 500 feet

·         Implemented variable banking to ensure the immediate use of two racing grooves, including 10-11 degree banking between Turn 1 and Turn 2; 10-11 degree banking in the apex of the dog-leg; and 8-9 degree banking in Turn 4.

Tony kept his promise to Carl. Edwards took Stewart’s words, and used them as inspiration. Not to mention, Stewart and Edwards need to watch that number “3.” Literally….

 

After winnng at Texas Motor Speedway, only three points separate two drivers, points leader Carl Edwards and second-place Tony Stewart. Two races remain before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

They’ve both scored the exact same number of points in the Chase: 313.

 

Some notables for Stewart…

 

Texas was Stewart’s fourth win of this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Only one other driver has ever won four races in the Chase: Jimmie Johnson, in 2004, 2007, 2009 (Johnson won the title in 2007 and 2009). No driver has won five races in the Chase. Stewart has a solid chance of becoming the first – he turned the fastest lap at last month’s test at the newly repaved Phoenix. Stewart is one of the few drivers who participated in both the two-day test in October and the Goodyear Tire Test in August. Carl Edwards also ran both tests.

 

If Stewart wins the championship this year, this will be his third championship title and will tie NASCAR Hall of Famers Cale Yarborough, Lee Petty, Darrell Waltrip and David Pearson.

 

So what about Johnson? He’s currently 6th in points, 55 points out from the leader. Yes, he’s had the most wins at Phoenix – four – but that was on the old surface. That’s when old notes get thrown out, and the team starts from cratch. Anything can happen.

 

So this is really going to be a tough one. After last month’s two-day test session at the newly repaved Phoenix International Raceway, drivers offered a number of reviews of the surface and new configuration. The consensus: It’s vastly different from the “old” layout. And there wasn’t much of a comparison to other tracks. In other words, who knows.

KYLE BUSCH

The Associated Press as reported that  Z-Line Designs asked this week that Denny Hamlin replace Busch in next weekend’s Nationwide race at Homestead.

Other options being considered is Aric Almirola replacing Busch in the final two Sprint Cup Series races of the season, as primary sponsor M&M’s decides how it wants to proceed with Busch. Although NASCAR has cleared Busch to race this weekend at Phoenix, JGR officials have been silent on his status in Sunday’s Cup race.

Read the AP article.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

NATIONWIDE SERIES

Two races are left – Phoenix and Homestead-Miami.

Jack Roush leads all owners with nine NASCAR Nationwide Series wins at the track, including this race last year. Carl Edwards, the 2007 series driver champion, has won the last three November races at Phoenix.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leads the driver standings by 17 points over Elliott Sadler, who’s the only competitor who can catch Stenhouse. After Texas, the last of the drivers who were mathematically eligible for the championship were eliminated. Stenhouse’s 14 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes lead the series. He also has two wins, which is best among driver championship contenders.

Joey Logano will be in the No. 18 at Phoenix for Joe Gibbs Racing. Kyle Busch has manned the No. 18 for the majority of the season; however the Phoenix event wasn’t on his original 22-race schedule.

 

REMINDER: If Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Carl Edwards accomplish both championships, it will be the first time ever in NASCAR history the same owner captured two different championships in the same series.

 

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR BATTLE

Blake Koch finally pulled even with Timmy Hill following Texas. After closing to within one point of leader Hill following the fall race at Charlotte last month,this may very well be the closest race for a post-season award for the series’ Sunoco Rookie of the Year.*

 

*The award is based on accumulating points and also via vote by a Rookie of the Year panel that weighs on and off track elements.

NASCAR at Chicagoland Speedway: Let the Chase begin

Chicagoland Speedway

Sunday, Sept. 18

2 p.m. (ET)

ESPN, 1 p.m. (ET)

400.5 miles (267 laps)

THE CHASE

Beginning this weekend, most eyes will be focused on the 12 drivers who qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. While the remainder of the 43-car field won’t be forgotten completely, the “outsiders” only hope for recognition comes in form of one word: spoiler.

Nothing can completely salve the sting of missing the Chase, but a win – and taking a few points away from the anointed 12 drivers – certainly can make a driver’s day.

While spoilers accumulated 10 wins from 2004-06, their successes have been few and far between over the past four seasons. Just three non-Chase qualifiers went to Victory Lane from 2007-10:

• Jamie McMurray won at Charlotte Motor Speedway a year ago.

• McMurray was victorious at Talladega Superspeedway in 2009.

• Greg Biffle was the Kansas winner in 2007.

Chicagoland offers hope to the non-qualifiers. The track’s past two winners, David Reutimann and Mark Martin, failed to qualify for this year’s Chase.

Five past NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions fill spots, however, three names often come up during the “future champion” discussion are also vying for 2011 crown: Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin.

No. 11 Denny Hamlin, 2010 Champion runner-up, races at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the final race of the season in 2010. Photo credit: Sandi Goodall/Racingal.com

Following is a rundown of the Top 12 drivers racing for the title of NASCAR Champion in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. All are multi-time winners, and each have conquered at least two of the 10 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup tracks.

Kyle Busch: The top seed with 2,012 points (he owns the tiebreaker over Kevin Harvick via his two runner-ups vs. Harvick’s zero), Busch has six career wins at the upcoming 10 tracks. He scored the third-most points in the Race to the Chase – the 10 races preceding the Chase.

Kevin Harvick: Boasts momentum with his Richmond win, and Chase know-how thanks to his near-championship Chase last season. Has eight wins and a Driver Rating of 86.6 at the next 10 tracks.

Jeff Gordon: Has 31 wins at the next 10 tracks, more than any other driver. His Driver Rating of 97.7 at the next 10 ranks second, and he scored 392 points over the last 10 races, more than any other driver.

Matt Kenseth: A champion in 2003, Kenseth has seven wins and a Driver Rating of 91.9 at the next 10 tracks.

Carl Edwards: A whiz at intermediate tracks, so figure on a solid showing (five tracks in the Chase are 1.5 miles in length). He has seven wins at the upcoming 10 tracks.

Jimmie Johnson: Won the deal five consecutive times. Need we say more? Yes, and we do below.

Kurt Busch: Won the first ever Chase in 2004. It was also the closest (eight points), a nod to his championship mettle. He has eight wins at the remaining 10 tracks.

Ryan Newman: Newman has sneaky momentum. Scored six top 10s in the Race to the Chase. Newman also has 10 wins at the upcoming 10 tracks, which ranks tied for fourth-most among Chase drivers.

Tony Stewart: Only driver to win the championship in both the Chase era (2005) and pre-Chase era (2002). Stewart has 16 wins over the next 10 tracks, and a third-best Driver Rating of 97.7.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: The reigning eight-time Most Popular Driver had only one top 10 in the Race to the Chase. But his 10 wins over the next 10 tracks rank tied for fourth among Chase drivers.

Brad Keselowski: Scored the second-most points in the Race to the Chase (362), and scored six top 10s in the last seven races.

Denny Hamlin: Was last year’s championship runner-up, and held the lead going into the season finale at Homestead. Rolls into the Chase with three consecutive top 10s.

This year’s regular season packed punch to the tune of competitive balance and record-breaking competition.

Here’s a few notable facts and figures…

- 15 different winners, most through 26 races since 2003.

- 5 first time winners (Trevor Bayne, Regan Smith, David Ragan, Paul Menard, Marcos Ambrose)

- 16 different Coors Light Pole winners, most through 26 race since 2005

- An average of 13 different leaders per race, most through 26 races in series history

- An average of 28 different leaders per race, most through 26 races in series history

- 16 races had a margin of victory under a second, most through 26 races since 2001. That includes Talladega’s MOV of .002 seconds, which tied the closest finish since the inception of electronic scoring in 1993.

NATIONWIDE SERIES

Chicagoland Speedway

Saturday, Sept. 17

3:30 p.m. (ET)

ESPN2, 3 p.m. (ET)

300 miles (200 laps)

Justin Allgaier, the inaugural summer race winner at Chicago in June and who’s from Riverton, Ill., will head back home in hopes of turning his inconsistent finishes over the last 13 races, to yet another victory. He’s had two did not finish (DNF) results since June, including a dry fuel cell while leading on the final lap of a green-white-checkered finish at Road America that cost him a certain victory. He’s had three top-10 finishes in his last four races, including a ninth at Richmond. In three career series starts at Chicago, he has two top-10 finishes in addition to the June win.

ROUSH VS JOE GIBBS

No. 60 NWS Fastenal Ford of Carl Edwards goes through inspection at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2010. Photo by Sandi Goodall/Racingal.com

Joey Logano will be in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota instead of Kyle Busch, while Ryan Truex drives the No. 20. Kyle Busch has only three more NASCAR Nationwide Series races left on his 2011 schedule – Charlotte, Texas and Homestead-Miami, while Carl Edwards will compete in each of the seven remaining races.

Only 48 points separate Joe Gibbs Racing Roush Fenway Racing for Owner Titles.

The No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford and is on pace to capture the record-setting fourth consecutive series owner title for Joe Gibbs Racing. JGR has won the last three.

NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

Chicagoland Speedway

Friday, Sept. 16

8 p.m. (ET)

SPEED, 7:30 p.m. (ET)

225 miles (150 laps)

Count on what’s become a bitter struggle for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owners’ championship to continue at Chicagoland Speedway. Kevin Harvick Inc.’s standings leading No. 2 Chevrolet and Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 18 Toyota are separated by 36 points. Both organizations are hoping to extend winning streaks in Friday night’s race.

• Harvick, who sat out the Sept. 2 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, has won his past three starts at Pocono Raceway, Michigan International Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway. A KHI truck has won each of the past four races • Ron Hornaday Jr. having notched career victory No. 49 won in Atlanta.

• Busch is a two-time defending winner of the Fast Five 225. He enters the race virtually untouched in a variety of Loop Data categories. Busch, with a Driver Rating of 148.2, leads or shares the lead in 10 of the rating’s components. In 2009, Chicago was Busch’s second of five wins in consecutive starts for Billy Ballew Motorsports.

• The two trucks have dominated the 2011 season with five drivers posting a combined 12 victories.

Ron Hornaday has one more task to close out and that is his one victory away from capturing his 50th NCWTS win – a feat no one else has accomplished. Hornaday finished third at Chicagoland in 2010.

Source: NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications