Tuesday, Jan 31
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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TriStar Motorsports is pleased to announce that Moen, the No. 1 faucet brand in North America, will debut as a sponsor on Cole Whitt’s No. 44 Toyota Camry during Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway.  Moen, a brand known for performance and excellence, joins Whitt following his season-best performance of the year; eighth at Road America last weekend.  Whitt will show off his Moen Camry when he takes to the high banks at the “World Center of Racing” for the 12thAnnual Subway Firecracker 250.

“The Moen brand stands for performance and excellence, and we’re excited to have our name associated with Cole Whitt and the entire No. 44 TriStar Motorsports racing team,” said Laura Ostenkamp, Marketing Communications Manager for Moen.  “It’s clear that Cole is driven to succeed on the track, and we’re thrilled to play a role in getting him there.”

Whitt is equally excited.  “Daytona is such a historical track and I’m proud to have a historic and innovative brand like Moen on my car for Friday night,” said Whitt. “Moen’s a household name in home furnishings and I hope to secure a good finish for them.”

Whitt will make his fourth start at Daytona for the Subway Firecracker 250; his best finish came last year when he placed fourth.  Tune in Friday night to the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on ESPN at 7 p.m. EST to catch Whitt and the No. 44 Moen Toyota Camry race the high banks of NASCAR’s most iconic track. 

TMI PR

David Reutimann and the No. 83 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry team drove to a 27th-place finish on Sunday afternoon at Kentucky Speedway.  Changing track conditions left the No. 83 BK Racing team fighting a loose condition and after 400 miles on the bumpy course Reutimann was scored in the 27th position. 

 

On a track the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series only visits once a year, the No. 83 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota team had only two practice sessions to dial in their Camry.  Reutimann picked up more than half-a-second from final practice to qualifying and secured the 36th starting position. 

 

Heavy rain moved into the Sparta, Ky. area just before the scheduled start time for Saturday's Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts.  After losing the track surface, NASCAR officially postponed the event to Sunday at noon.  Teams immediately went to work determining adjustments to their cars for an event that would be run in the heat of the afternoon instead of during the evening hours.

 

Reutimann's No. 83 BK Racing team started the event with a well-balanced race car, and the driver of the Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry was immediately able to begin picking up positions to be scored inside the top 30 by lap 45.  As the race progressed and the sun broke through the clouds, the track surface began to heat up.  On the warmer surface, Reutimann's Toyota Camry developed a loose-in condition.  The BK Racing team continued to work throughout the race to tighten the car and help the No. 83 Camry rotate through the corners.  After 400 miles of racing competition, Reutimann crossed the finish line in the 27th position. 

 

"Kentucky is always a tough track; the bumpy surface adds another layer to an already difficult track to master," commented Reutimann.  "Our Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry team put in a lot of time this weekend to dial in the car, and I was really happy with our set up by the time the green flag waved.  As the sun started to come up the track lost a lot of grip and we had some trouble getting into the corners, the guys worked really hard making adjustments on pit road and we were still able to salvage a good finish.  I'm looking forward to getting back to Daytona next weekend.  We have always been competitive there, so I'm really excited to get back in the car."

 

BK Racing PR

ravis Kvapil and the No. 93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry team finished 42nd at Kentucky Speedway after being caught up in a multi-car accident early in the race.  Kvapil was on the move after just breaking into the top 25 when a spinning car came up the track directly in the path of the No. 93 Camry.  After suffering extensive damage to the front end, Kvapil was unable to continue the race and was credited with a 42nd-place finish. 

 

With two practice sessions to reacquaint the team with the bumpy 1.5-mile oval in Sparta, Ky., Kvapil and the No. 93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper team worked through several setup options to help the driver rotate through the corners.  Kvapil picked up nearly a half-second between final practice and qualifying to secure the 40th starting position for the weekend's main event. 

 

When heavy rain moved into the area on Saturday afternoon, racing activity for the night was postponed and the Quaker State 400 was rescheduled for Sunday at noon.  Teams prepared for a night race, so a Sunday afternoon feature event caused the competitors to rethink their setup and make adjustments to reflect the expected track conditions.  After predicting track conditions fairly well, Kvapil's team only had to make only minor adjustments during the lap 30 competition caution. 

 

With the change, Kvapil's car was handling even better and the driver was headed through the field.  Within just 15 laps, the No. 93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry was scored inside the top 25.  Just as Kvapil drove into the 25th position on lap 47, one of the frontrunners was turned from behind and sent spinning across the track in turn one.  Kvapil was left with nowhere to go as the car turned to the outside wall just in front of the No. 93 machine.  With damage to the front-end of the Burger King / Dr. Pepper Camry, Kvapil pulled the No. 93 Camry into the garage for assessment by the BK Racing team.  Damaged beyond repair, Kvapil and the No. 93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry team were forced to retire from the event.  With the rest of the field completing 400 miles, Kvapil was scored with a 42nd-place finish. 

 

"It's disappointing how the day ended for our No. 93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry team," commented Kvapil.  "Our car was handling the best it had all weekend, so to be caught up in that wreck was disappointing.  We spent a lot of time this weekend trying to figure out how to make the car rotate through the corner, it seemed like we finally hit on the right adjustment and had a competitive car.  If we would've been able to make it to the finish, I think we would have had a strong run.  It's just one of those racing deals.  I'm excited to get back in the car next weekend at Daytona International Speedway."

 

BK Racing PR

As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule reaches the halfway point, and with just nine races remaining before the 12-driver field is set for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Kyle Busch is making a “charge.”

Coming off Sunday’s fifth-place finish at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, his eighth top-five of the season, Busch now finds himself with two wins and is seventh in the standings.

The driver of the No. 18 Interstate All Battery Center Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) looks to continue his “charge” as the first half of the season concludes and the run-up to the Chase commences with Saturday night’s traditional midsummer Coke Zero 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

Busch & Company will roll into Daytona with a different look gracing the No. 18 Toyota this weekend – the metallic and reflective green-and-gold scheme for Interstate All Battery Center stores. The Interstate All Battery Center colors this weekend come as the company continues its franchise expansion throughout the U.S., Canada and Latin America. Recognized as a top-50 franchisor by Franchise Business Review, All Battery Center stores provide “Every Battery for Every Need,” with more than 16,000 portal power solutions.

Interstate Batteries colors are already two-for-two this season with Busch’s wins at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Needless to say, Busch and the No. 18 team look to continue that streak Saturday night at Daytona.

Busch is certainly no stranger to victory lane in the Coke Zero 400, having won the July 2008 race behind the wheel of – yes –the Interstate Batteries Toyota. The Las Vegas native has fared much better in his summer races at Daytona during his career as the track is much more slick thanks to Florida’s July heat. He has recorded four top-five finishes in his eight July starts there.

With all of that in mind, Busch heads back to Daytona this weekend sporting different colors and hoping for some good fortune in a restrictor-plate style of racing where a driver not only has to be good, but have good fortune to go along with it. He would like nothing more than to start July in the best way possible – by bringing the Interstate All Battery Centers green-and-gold paint scheme to victory lane Saturday night as the No. 18 team continues its “charge” toward the Chase.

TSC PR

Jeff Gordon has visited Victory Lane three times in the annual 400-miler event at Daytona International Speedway. Can he make it a fourth this Fourth weekend?

            Overall, Gordon has six victories, three poles, 12 top-fives and 19 top-10's in 41 starts at the 2.5-mile track. But a lot has changed over the course of his 21-year career in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. A lot has changed since last year.

            "It's a different aero package and this new Generation-6 car has a lot of drag but a lot of down force in it," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet SS. "It's a little bit different in the draft.

 

"Earlier this year here we saw where you could upset the cars a little bit more when you got up close to them and outside of them."

 

Lack of cooperation amongst the drivers seemed to be prevalent during the first race with the new generation of car.

 

"Everybody was running the high line and protecting their position in the Daytona 500," said the all-time leader in restrictor-plate victories with 12. "It just didn't seem like enough drivers really wanted to get organized to get the bottom lane working.

 

"They were pretty committed to staying in that outside lane, so that made it very challenging. Everybody kind of protected their position until those crucial moments in the closing laps."

 

After dropping to 16th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings following a lap-6 accident at Michigan International Speedway, Gordon has climbed back up to 12th in the two races since on the heels of consecutive top-10's. But missing the "big one," the multi-car accidents that typically occur with big-pack racing on restrictor-plate tracks, will go a long way in continuing the climb up the standings.

 

"The only unknown is when that big wreck is going to happen and what is going to cause it," said Gordon. "Sometimes it happens when you least expect it, but you can be assured that when you get a full group of cars in the closing laps racing for a win, it's going to happen.

 

"It's just whether or not you get caught up in it or not."

 

PPR PR

Royal Teak Collection.com teams up with the #87  SPRINT Cup Team for the race under the lights at Daytona International Speedway for the 4th of July weekend. “We are excited to have Royal Teak Collection.com back with us for Daytona, there is not a better race to promote their premium patio/casual furniture line” says Jay Robinson. “Anything is possible at Daytona International Speedway, if we can stay out of trouble during the race and be in position towards the end, there is no telling what might happen,” added Joe Nemechek.
 
"We are happy to be back for our 4th race this year with Joe and the team after respectable finishes in Darlington, Charlotte and Dover, where our logo was on Joe's hood as well. We have received a pretty substantial amount of attention during this marketing campaign, and hope to finish the season with one or two more races as primary sponsor for the #87 car besides the Daytona race," says Claus Villebro, President & CEO of Royal Teak Collection.
 
NEMCO PR

When dark clouds ominously obscured the sky at the Kentucky Speedway on Wednesday afternoon as the Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) team unloaded the No. 8 Made in USA Brand (MIUSA) Chevrolet, Max Gresham realized he was probably in for a long day on Thursday. The heavy thunderstorms that followed became a fitting backdrop for Gresham when a racing incident took the No. 8 Made in USA Brand Chevrolet Silverado to the garage.

 

His 31st-place finish in Thursday's UNOH 225 was an unfortunate chapter in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season that thus far has failed to yield anything close to what the Milner, Georgia, native expected.

                             

After finding success and a growing confidence at other 1.5-mile speedways this year, which including a third-place finish at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Gresham got loose sliding up the track in the 40th lap of the race and crashed into the second turn wall.

 

His mood could have been sour. He could have fumed and no one would have blamed him, but Gresham showed none of those things, and instead he was steady in this difficult occasion.

 

"It just got away from me," he said. "We've been so good on the intermediate tracks this year it was easy to feel confident."

 

Gresham qualified his red, white, and blue machine 20th for the eighth race of the season.

 

By Lap 20, Gresham had gained three positions and then radioed that the Chevrolet was tight in the center of the corner. As yellow flag pit stops began, crew chief Chris Showalter called the No. 8 Made in USA Brand Chevrolet down pit road for a four-tire pit stop, fuel and tire air pressure adjustment.

 

His Made in USA Brand team had found a setup that worked, and Gresham rallied all the way to 13th place until the truck slid up the race track and hit the wall. Gresham suffered enough damage that the No. 8 needed to be towed off the track. Only once the No.8 Made in USA Brand Chevrolet was in the garage did Showalter make the assessment that the Eddie Sharp Racing machine was unable to continue.

 

"Just when things were falling into place, the truck jumped out from Max," Showalter said. "We did everything we could to get back out there, but there was too much damage.

 

"Everyone on our No.8 team was really disappointed including Max. We were moving up and gaining ground. The next thing we knew, the truck was in the garage and we were done. There's a fine line between success and failure in racing. Go or go home, and line between is really small and not always easy to see."

 

The best thing for Gresham's chance at redemption is close, with the American Ethanol 200 at the Iowa Speedway on July 13.

 

"You never want to crash," Gresham said. "And you certainly don't want to crash when the truck just gets away from you. I was certainly disappointed. I hate it because everyone at Eddie Sharp Racing worked really hard to building a great truck, and I wanted to give the Made in USA Brand a better showing than that. But it's part of the learning process. It's racing."

 

"This one will sting for a day or two, and then we'll get focused on Iowa and we'll be ready to move on."

 

While there was a black cloud hanging Gresham in the Bluegrass State, he will travel to the Hawkeye State in attempt to find calm and success in the sunlight.

 

Max Gresham PR

Race Highlights:

  • Richard Childress Racing teammates finished 10th (Kevin Harvick), 19th (Jeff Burton) and 30th (Paul Menard) in the Quaker State 400.
  • Following the event at Kentucky Speedway, Harvick remains fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, trailing leader Jimmie Johnson by 66 markers, while Menard ranks 15th, 151 points back, and Burton sits 21st, 182 points out of the top position.
  • The No. 29 Chevrolet SS team ranks fourth in the Sprint Cup Series owner championship point standings, with the No. 27 team 15th and the No. 31 team 22nd.
  • According to NASCAR's Post-Race Loop-Data Statistics, Harvick completed 33 passes while running in the top 15, ranking him fifth in Quality Passes.
  • Harvick made 61 Green-Flag Passes, ranking him fifth in that category.
  • Burton was the ninth-Fastest Driver Early In a Run and made 62 Green-Flag Passes ranking him third overall.
  • Menard was credited with two of The Fastest Laps run and made 13 Green-Flag passes during the event.
  • Matt Kenseth earned his fourth victory of the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season and was followed to the finish line by Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch.
  • The next Sprint Cup Series race is the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, July 6. The 18th race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on TNT beginning at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Satellite Radio.
2011 CC Team Icon 27 NSCS Menards

Menard Finishes 30th at Kentucky Speedway After Early Involvement in Multi-Car Incident

 

Paul Menard started the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway from the 24th position after persistent rain showers postponed the originally scheduled Saturday night event until Sunday afternoon. In the early laps, Menard relayed to the crew that his SYLVANIA/Menards Chevrolet was loose on entry and tight through the middle of the corners. A competition-caution on lap 30 allowed Menard to come down pit road for fresh tires, fuel and spring rubber and wedge adjustments. The chassis adjustments seemed to help the handling of the No. 27 machine and Menard had worked his way up to 20th at lap 42. Just five laps later, the Eau Claire, Wis., native was involved in a multi-car incident, which ultimately brought out the red flag on lap 48. Menard sustained significant right-front fender and front bumper damage during the on-track melee and the crew went to work making repairs during multiple pit stops once the red flag was lifted. Restarting in the 36th position, four laps down to the leader, Menard struggled with a tight condition for the reminder of race. Though he had a battle-scarred race car, Menard and the crew never gave up. By virtue of not having to take the car to the garage, Menard was able to gain six positions in the remaining laps of the event to finish 30th, earning valuable points in his quest to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Menard now sits 15th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings heading into Daytona International Speedway next weekend.

 

       Start - 24th               Finish - 30th            Laps Led - 0          Points - 15th

 

PAUL MENARD QUOTE:

"It's unfortunate we got caught up in a wreck early at Kentucky Speedway. We never really got a chance to see what our SYLVANIA/Menards Chevrolet had. I have to thank my guys though, they did a great job of getting the car patched up, which allowed me to stay on the racetrack and gain several positions over the course of the event. We've got to keep our heads up and hope our luck changes next weekend at Daytona International Speedway."

 

   

 

After being rained out Saturday evening, the NASCAR Sprint Cup engines fired back to life on Sunday with Kevin Harvick and No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team rolling off the grid 22nd at Kentucky Speedway. NASCAR mandated a competition caution at lap 30 to allow teams to check tire wear and address handling issues because rain washed rubber off the track following Saturday's heavy storms. Harvick started the first run by quickly picking off several spots, moving up to 17th place in just the first five laps.  With the competition yellow out on lap 30, crew chief Gil Martin dialed up a few quick adjustments to fix the tight handling No. 29 car and opted to only take two two tires for track position on the first stop of the day.  The strategy paid off with some ensuing caution laps pushing the team up to 11th place on lap 38.  On the next restart, Harvick was able to squeak by a big wreck that put the field under a red flag condition.  After making it to fifth by lap 60, the car began to develop a loose condition that would ultimately play a factor for the rest of the race.  The following green flag stop saw a slew of cars get caught by an ill-timed caution, which included Harvick and the Budweiser Chevrolet SS. The team rallied back to the lead lap with a few fortunate cautions going their way. Through laps 214 to 243, Harvick maintained a tough battle for a top-10 spot with the No. 5 and No. 24 cars, until the yellow came out again and put the spotlight back on Gil and the crew for one final strategy call to take the team to the end.  Right side tires and fuel with a small air pressure adjustment sorted the No. 29 Chevy back to ninth when the field took the green on lap 246.  When the dust settled, Harvick brought home a 10th place finish and maintained his fourth place slot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points Race to the Chase.

 
Start - 22nd                  Finish - 10th              Laps Led - 0            Points - 4th
 

KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE:
 
"We were loose in and fairly free through the corners for most of the day.  Kentucky Speedway is a great place to race, but gave us all we could handle on getting our Budweiser Chevrolet to grip the turns.

 

 

  2011 CC Team Logo NSCS 31 CAT

Jeff Burton Overcomes Adversity to Finish 19th at Kentucky Speedway

 

Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS team lined up 15th for the 400-mile race at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday. After waiting an extra day because Mother Nature washed out racing action on Saturday evening, the 43-car field took the initial green flag on Sunday afternoon. From the start, Burton and the Luke Lambert-led team battled a tight-handling condition through the corners of the 1.5-mile oval, but still managed to race up to 11th in the first 30, of 267, laps. That was when a pre-determined competition caution was displayed because rain washed so much rubber off the track the prior two days. After pitting for tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments, NASCAR penalized Burton for exiting pit road too fast in sections seven and eight. Taking the green flag at the tail end of the field in 34th, Burton picked up six positions before the caution waved again on lap 39. This time, Lambert called Burton to pit road for tires and additional adjustments. Once again, Burton was penalized for being too fast exiting pit road. This time, it was for sections two, three and eight. At this point, driver and crew chief realized there was a problem with the car's tachometer. For the remainder of the race, Burton used extreme caution upon entry and exit of pit road, which resulted in no more penalties. After another caution restart on lap 46, Burton was scored 35th. A multi-car wreck on lap 48 brought out the red flag. Electing not to pit allowed the team to restart 20th. From there, Burton raced his way up to fifth and then ran in and near the top-10 for the middle stages of the race. Towards the latter stages, Burton let Lambert know he was tight through the turns and lost some of the grip he had earlier in the race. More stops for adjustments didn't work to the team's desire and they ended up finishing 19th. Burton is now 21st in the
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings as the team heads to Daytona International Speedway for next Saturday night's scheduled race.

 

 

Start - 15th            Finish - 19th          Laps Led - 0        Points - 21

 

JEFF BURTON QUOTE: "This was not the finish this Caterpillar team deserved. We were good in the early part of the race, then got way too tight before the car went to loose. It was very frustrating. Those speeding penalties on pit road cost us some, but we ended up racing our back into the top-10 for a while. The last part of the race just didn't go the way needed it to for this team. I hate it, but I know we're going to be good when we get to Daytona (International Speedway) next weekend."

 

RCR PR

In the closing laps of the Kentucky 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ryan Newman was sitting just outside the top-10 and poised to pick up his eighth top-10 finish of the 2013 season.

The Quicken Loans team made adjustments all race long, but a late-race caution that saw Newman restart deeper in the running order than he should have, combined with three-wide racing over the closing laps, resulted in a 14th-place finish.

“I really don’t know what happened on that last restart,” Newman said. “My spotter came over the radio and gave me the lineup. They had me scored behind several cars, one of which was the No. 78 car. I was ahead of him on the track, but they had me lining up behind him. I had (crew chief) Matt Borland argue that with the officials, but they saw things differently. So, needless to say, I wasn’t very happy with that.”

After starting seventh in the race that was postponed for a day due to rain Saturday night, an ill-handling racecar dropped Newman to 18th. During the race’s scheduled competition caution period, Newman made his first trip to pit road to take four tires and fuel, and adjustments to wedge and the left-front shock. Newman continued to struggle with his Quicken Loans Chevrolet as the laps clicked off but caught a break at lap 89 when the caution flag was displayed in the middle of the race leaders hitting pit road for scheduled green-flag pit stops. Newman, in the sixth position, was able to take advantage of the track position he lacked to that point.

While Newman’s position fluctuated over the remaining laps, he hovered just outside the top 10. With 20 laps remaining, Newman restarted in the 12th position and made a daring move to the high side of the racetrack that saw him advance several positions. But NASCAR officials instructed the driver of the No. 39 to line up in the 11th position for the final restart. Aggressive, three-wide racing over the closing laps saw Newman lose three positions before the checkered flag waved.

“We had a really good Quicken Loans Chevrolet at the end of the race,” Newman said. “Matt kept taking big swings every time we’d come to pit road. With the car being set up for racing at night, we were obviously off a bit, setup-wise. We weren’t alone in that, as everyone was dealt the same hand. But at the end, we had the car where I felt it was capable of bringing home at least a top-10 finish. It’s unfortunate, and I don’t understand the scoring issue, but we know we probably had a better finish coming than we were left with.”

Newman’s teammate Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS, finished 20th. The third member of SHR, Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 23rd.

Matt Kenseth won the Kentucky 400 to score his 28th career Sprint Cup victory, his fourth of the season and his first at Kentucky.

Jamie McMurray finished .699 of a second behind Kenseth in the runner-up spot, while Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five. Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were 10 caution periods for 42 laps, with 11 drivers failing to finish the 267-lap race.

With round 17 of 36 complete, Stewart continues to lead the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He dropped one spot to 16th and has 457 points, 153 back of series leader Johnson and 22 points behind 10th-place Logano. Newman maintained his 18th-place standing and has 448 points, 162 out of first and 31 behind Logano. Patrick maintained her 27th-place standing and has 313 points, 297 behind Johnson and 166 away from 10th.

Nine races remain before the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Only the top-10 in points are locked into the Chase. Positions 11 and 12 in the Chase are wild cards, awarded to the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points with the most wins. If multiple drivers have the same number of wins, a driver’s point standing serves as the tiebreaker.

Kasey Kahne and Stewart are the only drivers between 11th and 20th in points with a victory, so they hold the first and second wild-card spots, respectively.

Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished six spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 17th.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola on Saturday, July 6 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with its pre-race show at 6:30 p.m.

TSC PR

Tony Stewart started 25th and finished 20th in the Kentucky 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.

While it wasn’t a finish to be remembered, Stewart had to work all day for it after waiting all night, as the race was postponed from Saturday night due to rain.

His No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) was either too loose or too tight during the 267-lap race around the incredibly bumpy 1.5-mile oval. Nonetheless, Stewart climbed as high as fourth by lap 84 thanks to tenacious driving and savvy pit calls by crew chief Steve Addington.

Unfortunately, what seemed to be a slowly deflating tire dropped Stewart from the top-10 to 26th by lap 120. Stewart was the last driver on the lead lap, but he rode it out until a timely caution on lap 149 allowed him to pit. The right side of the car checked out OK, and with four fresh tires, a full tank of fuel and some tweaks to the chassis, Stewart was on his way. He restarted 22nd on lap 155.

The car’s ill handling continued to rear its head, as Stewart radioed on lap 161 that he had “no grip”. The Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevy became even looser as laps clicked off the board.

On the team’s final pit stop while under caution on lap 243, a bevy of changes was made, which included adjusting the car’s nose weight.

Stewart restarted in 17th. When leader Jimmie Johnson spun to bring out the race’s final caution on lap 248, Stewart moved up to 16th.

A top-15 finish seemed possible, but in what has become commonplace lately in the Sprint Cup Series, the restart resulted in a mad dash. The field went racing three-wide into turn one, and Stewart was forced to the outside where he had to tip-toe through the gray asphalt where grip was nearly non-existent. In one lap, Stewart dropped from 16th to 23rd. But as is Stewart’s nature, he didn’t quit, rallying his way to 20th in the final 15 laps.

“We made a bunch of changes to the car throughout the race,” Stewart said. “When we started out, it felt like it was up on top of the racetrack. We needed it to get planted better. We made gains, but we eventually got it to where it was too tight into turns one and two. Then on that final restart where we got forced high – turns one and two were already tough enough for us – I had to pedal it, and we lost a bunch of spots. We got some of them back, but track position being what it was, it was hard to get any more of them back. Not the greatest showing, but we did what we could with it.”

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet for SHR, finished 14th. Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 23rd.

Matt Kenseth won the Kentucky 400 to score his 28th career Sprint Cup victory, his series-leading fourth of the season and his first at Kentucky.

Jamie McMurray finished .699 of a second behind Kenseth in the runner-up spot, while Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five. Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Jeff Gordon, Johnson and Kevin Harvick comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were 10 caution periods for 42 laps, with 11 drivers failing to finish.

With round 17 of 36 complete, Stewart continues to lead the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He dropped one spot to 16th and has 457 points, 153 back of series leader Johnson and 22 behind 10th-place Logano. Newman maintained his 18th-place standing and has 448 points, 162 out of first and 31 behind Logano. Patrick maintained her 27th-place standing and has 313 points, 297 behind Johnson and 166 away from 10th.

Nine races remain before the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Only the top-10 in points are locked into the Chase. Positions 11 and 12 in the Chase are wild cards, awarded to the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points with the most wins. If multiple drivers have the same number of wins, a driver’s point standing serves as the tiebreaker.

Kasey Kahne and Stewart are the only drivers between 11th and 20th in points with a victory, so they hold the first and second wild-card spots, respectively.

Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished six spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 17th.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola on Saturday, July 6 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with its pre-race show at 6:30 p.m.

TSC PR

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