NASCAR National Series News & Notes -- 2015 Pocono #2
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
WINdianapolis: Kyle Busch Notches Third Straight Victory At The Brickyard
Kyle Busch took the checkered flag at Indianapolis on Sunday for his third straight victory as well as his fourth in the last five races.
In the Chase Era, Jimmie Johnson is the only other driver to log three or more consecutive wins. Johnson strung together four straight victories in the 2007 Chase on his way to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship and won three consecutive races in the 2004 Chase. Busch is the first driver in the Chase Era to win three consecutive races during the regular season.
Jeff Gordon is the only other active driver to win three consecutive races. He has achieved the feat on three occasions. Gordon captured four straight victories in 1998, in addition to three straight in 1996 and from 1998-99.
Busch has 33 NSCS wins since his career began in 2004, the second most in the Chase Era behind Johnson's 68.
Johnson and Busch lead the NSCS with four victories the season, but Busch has only competed in nine races, while Johnson has competed in all 20.
Busch heads into Sunday's Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway (1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) just 23 points behind Justin Allgaier for 30th in the standings - the position that would make him eligible for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver has six races left before the Chase starts to get into the top 30. Busch will need to average 19.6 points in the final six events of the regular season to make the Chase - he can achieve that by finishing 24th or better in the remaining regular season events.
Pull Out The Brooms? Truex Tries For First Sweep Of Season At Pocono
When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Pocono Raceway on Sunday - its second repeat track on the schedule - June Pocono winner Martin Truex Jr. will attempt to become the eighth driver to sweep the "Tricky Triangle."
Last season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. notched one of two track sweeps with his two wins at Pocono. Kevin Harvick recorded the second sweep at Phoenix.
The other six drivers to win both Pocono races were Denny Hamlin (2006), Jimmie Johnson (2004), Bobby Labonte (1999), Tim Richmond (1986), Bill Elliott (1985) and Bobby Allison (1982).
Bobby Allison (1982 sweep and spring 1983) and Tim Richmond (1986 sweep and spring 1987) are the only drivers to win three consecutive Pocono races.
Chevrolet On The Verge Of Its 750th Win
With one more visit to Victory Lane, Chevrolet would notch its 750th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win.
Here are some numbers detailing Chevrolet's NSCS history:
- 76 different drivers have piloted a Chevrolet to Victory Lane
- 30 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships
- 38 Manufacturers' championships - including the last 12
- 70 different tracks where Chevrolet drivers have won a race
- 23 Daytona 500 wins
Jeff Gordon boasts the most wins in a Chevrolet (92), followed by Jimmie Johnson (74), Dale Earnhardt (73), Darrell Waltrip (60) and Cale Yarborough (48).
Chevrolet winners have logged more than 260,918 miles, enough to circle the Earth at the equator 10 times.
Last week, Chevrolet's 12-race win streak at Indianapolis - the longest active streak by a manufacturer at any track - was snapped. Chevrolet has won the last six races at Pocono, the new longest active streak at any track.
Logano Continues To Finish Strong
Joey Logano has not won a race since the Daytona 500.
Despite his frustration about not getting to Victory Lane, the 25-year-old Team Penske driver has still racked up strong finishes lately. He finished runner-up at Indianapolis for his third consecutive top-five finish and has six top-five results in his last seven races.
Logano ranks second in the points standings behind Kevin Harvick.
Following the Jeff Kyle 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Logano provided one of the more colorful quotes of the season summing up his performance:
"You know, you come to Indy, it's all about the win, either win or finish last. It doesn't really matter anywhere in between. At least that's the way I race when we come to a racetrack like this, Daytona and Indy. It's all about getting trophies and rings and making out with the bricks. Unfortunately we came up a little bit short."
Edwards Eyes Third Straight Pole
Carl Edwards followed up his first Coors Light Pole Award since 2013 at New Hampshire with another one at Indianapolis last weekend. He will go for his third straight Coors Light Pole Award this weekend for Sunday's Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Edwards was followed in Indianapolis qualifying by Joey Logano and David Ragan. The trio also finished 1-2-3 at New Hampshire. The occurrence marked the first time the same drivers started 1-2-3 in consecutive weeks since 2009 (Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson at New Hampshire and Daytona). Both starting orders were based off points due to rain, not competitive qualifying. Before then, the last time the same drivers started 1-2-3 in consecutive weeks was 1972 (David Pearson, Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker at Martinsville and Dover).
Streak Snapped: Hendrick Motorsports Aims To Get Back To Winning Pocono Ways
Martin Truex Jr.'s June victory at Pocono snapped a five-race win streak by Hendrick Motorsports at the 2.5-mile track. All four HMS drivers contributed to the run - Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2014 sweep), Kasey Kahne (August, 2013), Jimmie Johnson (June 2013) and Jeff Gordon (August, 2012). It was the first time since the fall race at Talladega last season that not one of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers finished in the top-10.
Hendrick Motorsports boasts a record of 17 wins at Pocono, almost twice as many as the next-best team (Joe Gibbs Racing, nine).
Gordon - Pocono's all-time wins leader with six - will compete in his final race at the "Tricky Triangle" on Sunday. Johnson has three Pocono victories and owns the second-best driver rating there (106.9). Earnhardt and Kahne each have two wins at the Pennsylvania track.
History Lesson: Billy Wade First To Win Four Straight Races
With three consecutive victories, Kyle Busch has already placed his name among the NASCAR elite. Of the 19 drivers to accomplish the feat before him, 13 are enshrined in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and three (Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin) are locks to join them. A win this Sunday at Pocono will elevate Busch's accomplishments even higher.
Larger than life names won three straight races in the 1950s - Herb Thomas, Junior Johnson, Fireball Roberts and Buck Baker. But it was a name you may not know that was first to reach four in a row.
Billy Wade was a 33-year-old modified and late model champion in Texas looking to move up to NASCAR when he was noticed by Hall of Famer Cotton Owens. He impressed as a rookie in 1963, earning 14 top-10 finishes in 31 races and winning Rookie of the Year honors.
He carried his success into the 1964 season, this time driving for another NASCAR Hall of Famer - Bud Moore. After finishing in the top 10 in 15 of his first 20 races of the season, Wade put together one of the best 10-day stretches in the history of NASCAR.
It started on July 10 with the Fireball Roberts 200 at Old Bridge (New Jersey) Speedway. Wade earned his first career win, holding off the biggest names of the era - Ned Jarrett, Richard Petty and David Pearson.
Two days later Wade struck again, this time at Bridgehampton (New York) Raceway. After starting third, Wade led four different times, including the final 12 laps, for his first road course win.
Next up was a July 15 race at Islip Speedway, just down the road on Long Island. Wade started on the pole besides Ned Jarrett, a driver with whom he had developed a bit of a rivalry. The two drivers combined to lead all 300 laps at the tight 0.2-mile track. Wade led the first 97 and Jarrett led the next 95 before Wade took the lead for good, winning number three.
Wade's fourth win came on July 19 at Watkins Glen International. Again it was Ned Jarrett standing between Wade and Victory Lane. The Texan made the race-winning pass of Jarrett on Lap 36, and led the final 30 laps of the race.
"Winning races changes your outlook," Wade said. "My spirits are up right now. I'm looking for ways to win now, rather than expecting something to happen that will make you lose. I've got a new attitude."
Wade never returned to Victory Lane. His life was cut short during a tire test at Daytona International Speedway in January 1965. There was a silver lining to the tragedy - his death spurred team owner Moore to reevaluate his drivers' restraint system, which eventually led to the development of the "submarine belt" between a driver's legs.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES
Veteran Kenny Wallace To Hang Up The Helmet After Iowa
This weekend, the NASCAR industry comes together to salute one of the sport's greatest contributors on and off the track, Kenny Wallace, as he will be strapping into a NASCAR XFINITY Series car for the last time. Wallace is officially retiring from NASCAR national series competition, and this weekend will be the final time fans will be able to see him compete in this series.
"To me, this isn't a sad moment," Wallace said. "I'm at a truly happy place in my life right now. I've had a long and successful career, and I've been able to support my family doing what I love. To me, it doesn't get any better than that. I'm really proud of everything that I've been able to accomplish in NASCAR."
Wallace's career is that of a journeyman. His 546 starts lead the NASCAR XFINITY Series' all-time list - 26 starts more than second-place Jason Keller. He has posted nine wins, 66 top fives (20th-most all-time), 173 top 10s (seventh-most all-time) and 10 poles.
The 51-year-old veteran made his first NASCAR XFINITY Series start at Martinsville Speedway in 1988. He posted his first series win at Volusia County Speedway in 1991.
This weekend, Wallace will run the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at Iowa. A track he has made eight starts, posting three top 10s and an average finish of 14.8.
Elliott Is Making Buescher's Points Lead Disappear
Last season's NASCAR XFINITY Series champion, Chase Elliott, has been working his magic in the last three races, making 11 points disappear from series standings leader Chris Buescher's points lead. Now just 25 points separate the two championship contenders as the series heads to Iowa Speedway for the US Cellular 250 presented by New Holland (on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET).
Buescher won at Iowa earlier this season, so Elliott's task of catching him in the standings should be extra difficult this weekend. But don't count out the 19-year-old Elliott; though he has yet to win at Iowa, he is knocking on Victory Lane's door. In three starts, Elliott has posted two top fives, three top 10s and an average finish of 4.7.
NASCAR's Loop Data suggests Elliott will contend for the win this weekend in the US Cellular 250. Among the drivers entered this weekend, Elliott leads the series in Driver Rating (120.3), Average Running Position (4.404) and Laps Led (114).
Buescher Reaches For The Broom, Looking For The Iowa Sweep
Since 2011, Iowa Speedway has hosted more than one NASCAR XFINITY Series race offering up the opportunity for drivers to possibly sweep both races at the famed Midwestern track. This weekend Chris Buescher looks to become the second driver in series history to sweep both races at Iowa Speedway in a single season; joining his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - who won three straight contests at Iowa from 2011-2012.
Dust off the broom, because Chris Buescher's chances at the sweep are better than average. In three starts he has posted one win and an average finish of 9.3. His pre-race driver rating of 105.6 (third-best among championship contenders) and average running position of 8.195 (fourth-best among championship contenders) point to him competing upfront this weekend.
Buescher currently leads the series standings by 25 points over second-place Chase Elliott. His 2015 season has seen two wins (Iowa, Chicago) and a series-leading eight top fives. Buescher's average finishing positon this season also leads all championship contenders at 8.4.
Drive For Diversity Graduate Daniel Suarez Proving To Be Real Deal
Joe Gibbs Racing's Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender and Drive for Diversity graduate, Daniel Suarez is proving this season he belongs in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
After the first 18 races, Suarez leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings by 15 points over second-place Darrell Wallace Jr. Suarez is also ranked sixth in the NASCAR XFINITY Series driver standings.
"Man, our race car has been fast every single weekend," Suarez said. "That's very good. We keep doing that; our day is going to come for sure."
Suarez has hit his stride midseason. In 18 starts, he has posted four top fives, eight top 10s and an average finish of 13.4.
Suarez will look to rebound from his last performance at Iowa Speedway earlier this season, where he started second but due to a late incident and Pit Road penalties he finished 18th.
Former Iowa Winner Sadler Still Looking For First Victory Of 2015
Currently fifth in the standings, veteran Elliott Sadler turns his attention to Iowa Speedway hoping his past winning experience at the 0.875-mile track will bring him his first win of the season.
Only two former winners are entered this weekend at Iowa - Chris Buescher (2015) and Sadler (2012).
Following a solid top-five finish at Indianapolis Speedway, Sadler is hoping the momentum carries over to Iowa this weekend in the US Cellular 250. Sadler's 2015 season hasn't been glitzy, but rather just solid consistent finishes. In the first 128 races he has posted four top fives, nine top 10s and zero DNFs. His average finish this season is 11.1 - fifth-best among championship contenders.
Sadler has made nine starts at Iowa, posting one win, six top fives, nine top 10s and an average finish 5.1 - his best avg. finish among active tracks.
Class Is In Session: Kyle Busch Back To His Winning Ways
Ryan Blaney got an up close and personal one-on-one session on how to win in the NASCAR XFINITY Series last weekend at Indianapolis when the series' winningest driver Kyle Busch cemented his 72nd career victory. Busch passed Blaney in the closing laps, by Blaney's admission, 'Outdriving him.' A lesson Blaney will soon not forget.
Busch has turned the corner to winning veteran and class is in session for the next generation of young drivers.
Since Busch's return from injury this season (five starts), he has posted two wins, four top fives and an average finish of 7.0.
This weekend, Busch will be focusing on his quest to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Pocono Raceway and will forgo his seat in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to rising star Erik Jones. Jones won the pole for the Iowa race earlier this season in his series track debut and finished third.
Garage-Side Fresh Faces: Brandon Jones and Matt Wallace
Two young drivers to keep your eye out for this weekend are Richard Childress Racing's Brandon Jones and JGL Racing's Matt Wallace. Both drivers will be making just their second career series start this weekend at Iowa Speedway.
Jones will drive the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet this weekend at Iowa. The 18-year-old driver hails from Atlanta, Georgia. His one other NASCAR XFINITY Series start came at Iowa earlier this season where he started fifth and finished eighth.
Jones caught the eye of RCR by competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East the last few seasons. The young driver finished the 2014 season fourth in the East standings, posting one win and 11 top 10s. Jones also posted two wins in three starts in the ARCA Racing Series in 2014.
Son of veteran NASCAR driver Mike Wallace and nephew of NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace and veteran driver Kenny Wallace, Matt Wallace will be making his second start of the XFINITY Series season.
The Concord, North Carolina native will take the wheel of the JGL Racing No. 26 Toyota this weekend at Iowa. Wallace made his series debut two weeks ago at New Hampshire where he started 29th but was sidelined due to a vibration that resulted in a 33rd-place finish.
This will be Wallace's series track debut at Iowa Speedway this weekend.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES
Reddick, Jones Gain Ground On Crafton At Eldora
Tyler Reddick and Erik Jones finished third and fourth, respectively at Eldora, helping them to gain ground on point standings leader Matt Crafton, who finished ninth. Second in the standings, Reddick carved down Crafton's lead to 14 points. Jones sits close behind in third, trailing Crafton by 24 points.
The three drivers continue their race to the series crown in Saturday's Pocono Mountains 150 (1 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1) at Pocono Raceway. Crafton has four career top-10 finishes in five starts at Pocono. He placed 14th at the "Tricky Triangle" last season. Reddick and Jones made their lone starts at Pocono last year. Jones finished sixth, while Reddick took 23rd.
Won By The Bell: Christopher Bell
Making just his third NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start, Christopher Bell led a race-high 106 laps as he dipped, dived and banged his way to Victory Lane in the 1-800-CAR-CASH Mud Summer Classic at Eldora Speedway.
A standout sprint car dirt racer, Bell, 20, began transitioning to stock cars this season, running a late model and Camping World Truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
"It's just unbelievable," said Bell after the race. "I've been coming here quite a few times and if you would have told me two years ago that my first win at Eldora was going to be in a truck, I would have told you you're crazy. This is just fantastic. I'm just thrilled to be here."
Currently, Bell is not scheduled to run any more NCWTS races this season.
Dirty Debut: Bobby Pierce Dazzles In First NASCAR Start
If NASCAR fans never heard the name Bobby Pierce, they have now after the 18-year-old Illinois native's performance in the 1-800-CAR-CASH Mud Summer Classic at Eldora Speedway.
Making his first-ever NASCAR start at Eldora, Pierce took the 21 Means 21 Pole Award and battled with race-winner Christopher Bell most of the way to his runner-up finish. Pierce adeptly slid around his competitors while continuously banging the wall, but even damage to his truck could not stop him as he almost tracked down Bell, who beat him to the finish by .761 seconds.
Similar to Bell, Pierce is also a veteran dirt racer. He won the 2015 UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals championship and the 2014 UMP DIRTcar Late Model points championship.
Pierce raced for Missouri-based MB Motorsports - the only team to compete in every season of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series - and brought home the organization's first pole and highest finish. Through the years, MB Motorsports has helped develop Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray, Regan Smith, Justin Allgaier and 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski, who Pierce finished ahead of.
Sprint Cup Stars Headline Pocono Entry List; Kyle Busch back in the 51
The Pocono Mountains 150 will be a star-studded affair with defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, 2012 NSCS title-winner Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Austin Dillon joining the circuit's regulars on the entry list.
Harvick has not wheeled a truck since 2013. On Saturday, he will run the No. 00 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. The most recent time Harvick ran a truck at Pocono (2011), he won the race.
Busch makes his season debut in the No. 51 after winning a series-best seven races last year.
Dillon won the 2014 Pocono Mountains 250.
Keselowski has never started in the NCWTS at Pocono.
Sunoco Rookie of The Year Update: Jones Is The Man To Beat
NASCAR Next alum Erik Jones has taken a commanding lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. He is 60 points ahead of fellow NASCAR Next alum Cameron Hayley and 63 points in front of Daniel Hemric.
On the season, Jones claims one win, seven top fives and eight top 10s. The No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports driver leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in most of the loop data categories, including: average running position (4.2), fastest laps (435), laps led (647) and driver rating (124.5).
Hayley mans the sixth spot in the overall NCWTS standings. He owns four top-10 finishes in his last five starts.
Hemric placed fifth at Eldora in his first-ever start on dirt and has five top 10s in his last six starts.
Hemric has also been busy off the track this week. He and NASCAR K&N East driver Kenzie Ruston announced their recent engagement. Hemric popped the question while the two were vacationing in the St. Lucia following the Eldora Speedway Race.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.
Erik Jones will run double-duty this weekend, flying to Iowa after Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race to compete in the NASCAR XFINITY Series event that night. . On Saturday, Kyle Martel will attempt to start in the No. 59 truck at Pocono. Following the day's racing action at the 2.5- mile track, Martel will lead walkers in "Go Pink @ Pocono 4" - a benefit track walk for the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition. . Ray Black Jr. is scheduled to throw out the first pitch at the Charlotte Knights game on Tuesday, Aug. 4.