Monday, November 29, 2010

NASCAR Sprint Cup Champions Week in Las Vegas

  • Frank Caliendo, Rascal Flatts Headline Awards Ceremony At Wynn Las Vegas
  • Popular Victory Lap On Famous Vegas Strip Again Planned
  • NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon To Be Showcased At Bellagio

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 29, 2010) – The champion is crowned, the celebration awaits.

What a party it promises to be.

The 2010 edition of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week in Las Vegas will fete Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson, who earned an unprecedented fifth consecutive series title following the Nov. 21 season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Just a few days away, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week is full of fan-friendly activities that showcase the nation’s No. 1 form of motorsports while honoring its top driver and its loyal fan base.

After a 28-year run in New York, the annual postseason celebration made its Las Vegas debut last year, capped, as always, by the champion’s Friday-night coronation. This year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony returns to one of the city’s premier resorts, Wynn Las Vegas, on Friday, Dec. 3.
SPEED will once again broadcast the event, live at 9 p.m. ET.

Comedian Frank Caliendo and country rockers Rascal Flatts will entertain during the awards ceremony. Joining them will be “Viva ELVIS by Cirque du Soleil,” a special performance of dance, acrobatics and music celebrating the King of Rock ‘n Roll, Elvis Presley.

The ceremony culminates several days of whirlwind activity involving not only the series champion, but also the other 11 drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup – NASCAR’s “playoffs”. Those drivers, together with Johnson, comprise the top 12 in the series’ final standings.

“It’s just been an amazing experience, amazing for myself and the team,” Johnson said of his five-title run. “I think it’s been great for our sport to see the comparisons drawn to other sports that have been able to link together multiple championships. It’s been awesome, a ton of fun.”

For the second consecutive year, some of the thousands of fans who flock to catch a glimpse of stock car racing’s biggest stars will join drivers, team owners and industry leaders in celebrating Johnson at the awards ceremony. Approximately 300 tickets are available to fans, which are being distributed by tracks, NASCAR partners and teams through various promotions. Fan tickets offer the following experiences:

· NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon seats
· Access to “NASCAR After The Lap, Made Possible By Coca-Cola and Ford”
· Fan reception & Red Carpet walk prior to the awards ceremony
· Awards ceremony seats

Following is a complete rundown of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week activities.

Wednesday, Dec. 1
· NASCAR Street Tour: Two tricked-out NASCAR interactive Ford vehicles are scheduled to appear all week throughout Las Vegas with dynamic street teams, interactive video games and free giveaways. (Detailed schedule TBD.)

· NASCAR Pit Stop Tour:The Pit Stop Tour program will run from Dec. 1-3, consisting of Official Partner show cars placed in iconic locations throughout the Las Vegas Strip. Brand ambassadors at each location (locations TBD) will be on site from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. for all three days, engaging the fans.

· Chasers for Charity Event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway: Gates open at 10 a.m. The Richard Petty Driving Experience will offer rides with a percentage of the proceeds being donated to charity. The speedway will offer tours of the facility. There will be interactive displays throughout the track’s “Neon Garage” and live music on the main stage from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. In addition, all 12 Chase drivers will participate in a Family Feud-style game show hosted by comedian Kevin Burke between 2-3:30 p.m. Admission to the Fanfest is free, and mass transportation will be available from the strip and downtown.

Thursday, Dec. 2

· NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon: This annual industry/media event begins at 11 a.m., in the Bellagio Ballroom at the Bellagio and includes presentations to the Champion Crew Chief, Champion Sponsor, Raybestos Rookie of the Year and Most Popular Driver. Fans have the opportunity to attend for the first time. It is co-hosted by NASCAR and the National Motor Sports Press Association.

· Victory Lap: Set for 3:30 p.m., the top-12 drivers will motor down the famed Las Vegas Strip in their respective race cars. Expect an authentic pit stop along the route and two burn-out sections for drivers. Victory Lap begins in front of Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino and ends at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Prior to Victory Lap at 3 p.m., Johnson will receive the Key to the City of Las Vegas from Mayor Oscar Goodman and Commissioner Tom Collins. Commissioner Collins also will present a Proclamation recognizing

Thurs., Dec. 2 as Jimmie Johnson Day.
· NASCAR After The Lap: This free fan event starts at 4:30 p.m., at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and features a question-and-answer session with drivers and an interactive Coca-Cola Fan Zone experience. Select fans will win NASCAR-themed prizes, including a 2011 Ford Taurus SHO. The Coca-Cola Fan Zone opens at noon, with doors to NASCAR After The Lap opening at 3 p.m. General admission seats are free, on a first-come, first-serve basis. Register for tickets at nascarafterthelap.com.

Friday, Dec. 3
· 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony: The big show starts at 6 p.m., crowning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion driver and owner and honoring the other drivers who finished in the top 10 in the final series standings.

- NASCAR, Press Release

NASCAR Champions Week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

It’s NASCAR Champion’s Week in Las Vegas and the festivities will get under way Wednesday with the Chasers for Charity Fanfest at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Gates will open to the speedway’s Neon Garage at 10 a.m. and the event will culminate with a Family Feud-style game show played by the 12 Chase drivers at approximately 2:30 p.m.
The drivers will arrive at the speedway at approximately 2 p.m. and will walk a red carpet through the fans before beginning the game show. The show will be hosted by comedian Kevin Burke, who stars in Defending the Caveman at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino.
Prior to the drivers’ arrival, race fans will be entertained with free track tours, live music by classic rock band The Wedge Brothers, an autograph sessions by Miss Sprint Cup, continuous entertainment in the Sprint experience and a celebrity go-kart race including comedian Carrot Top, San Francisco Giants centerfielder Aaron Rowand and NASCAR rookie of the year Kevin Conway. SPEED personalities Krista Voda and Larry McReynolds also will be on hand to take part in a question and answer session with fans just prior to the drivers’ arrival. The Richard Petty Driving Experience will be offering rides for a fee with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Speedway Children’s Charities.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hendrick Shuffles Crew Chiefs for the 24, 5 & 88; Cites Complacency

By David Caraviello
NASCAR.COM

Rick Hendrick knew the world would be watching when he brought Dale Earnhardt Jr. into his race organization and, before he retires, the championship car owner wants to give NASCAR's most popular driver every tool he can to try to win races and contend for a championship. This week brings another step in that process, as Earnhardt assumes the crew chief and the team that once supported Jeff Gordon.

As part of a massive personnel swap intended to bolster his entire organization, Earnhardt will now work with Steve Letarte, whose crew chiefed Gordon for the past five seasons and never missed a Chase. Gordon will be paired with Alan Gustafson, who was previously Mark Martin's crew chief, while Martin will work with Lance McGrew, who for most of the past two years was teamed with Earnhardt.

Only Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus, who together have won the past five championships in NASCAR's premier division, will remain together. It's more of a driver change than a crew chief change -- Hendrick said the people at the shops will all remain the same, the only differences being the driver, car number, and sponsor. Which means that Earnhardt, 25th and 21st in points the past two years, will be inserted into the group that had been working around Gordon.

"When your confidence is shaken and you just get to the point where you need something to give you that feeling you can do it, and you've got faith in the guy you're working with, sometimes the frustration sets in and it just can't work," Hendrick said Wednesday. "That doesn't mean Dale wasn't a good driver, or Lance wasn't a good crew chief. It just got to the point where it wasn't working, and we needed to do something different. I've seen this many, many times, you make a switch and you get a new lease on life and everybody gets excited."

But Hendrick was quick to point out that these moves weren't made for Earnhardt's sake, rather to bolster an organization that had grown somewhat stagnant despite winning its fifth consecutive title. He began thinking about making changes following the recent Sprint Cup race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, after which he called crew chiefs and engineers together for a meeting that lasted three hours. In it, Hendrick quoted Winston Churchill: "It's not enough to do what's best. Sometimes you have to do what's required."

And what was required were changes. Hendrick admits his team fell behind after NASCAR moved from the rear wing to the spoiler. The organization's cars simply weren't as good as they had been in 2009, when Johnson led Martin and Gordon in a Hendrick sweep of the top three points positions. The result was a reshaping at Hendrick, which will now have the Nos. 48 and 88 teams working out of one building, and the Nos. 24 and 5 out of another. The Johnson and Gordon teams had been joined at the hip since the No. 48 team's founding.

"I think, in a nutshell, our whole organization after last year winning the championship and finishing 1-2-3 in the points ... we just got complacent, and other teams were stronger, and we were not where we needed to be," said Hendrick, who officially announced the changes Tuesday afternoon.

Read More Here....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harvick Calls Busch "A Clown" and Admits to "Parking" Him

by Jeff Gluck
SBNation.com

On television, on the radio and in the media center, Kevin Harvick repeated himself all three times he was asked about his incident with Kyle Busch.

Busch, he said, "raced me like a clown all day."

Harvick, unapologetic, said that on several occasions during the Homestead race, Busch "cut me off and ran up in front of me."

"The last time, I just didn't lift," Harvick said.

"Three-wide, on the back bumper, running into me – I just had enough," Harvick repeated.

Busch's teammate Denny Hamlin, sitting next to Harvick in the media center, couldn't help but interject after hearing Harvick's words (Harvick's actions resulted in Hamlin being trapped one lap down, effectively ending his championship hopes).

"Sounds like how your teammates raced me all day," Hamlin told Harvick.

Responded Harvick: "I just parked yours."

Busch was obviously unhappy with the incident and said despite an attempt to clear the air with Harvick before the race began, he ended up wrecked.

"It's very unfortunate," Busch said. "It's just a guy that doesn't have his head on straight apparently today. I thought everything was good.

"I talked to him in the pre-race, in the driver's meeting and all of that, but he's such a two-faced guy it just doesn't matter."

Edwards Win Ford 400, Johnson Wins Fifth Straight Championship

Sporting News Wire Service

HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- NASCAR has a rock star -- and perhaps after a fifth consecutive championship for unsinkable Jimmie Johnson, the sport will realize it.

Johnson ran second to Carl Edwards in Sunday's season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to secure the first come-from-behind title in his skein of five championships.

Edwards' victory was perfection. He led 190 of 267 laps in winning his second consecutive Cup Series race and the 18th of his career.

"Why didn't you set the cars up like this before, Bob?" Edwards joked with crew chief Bob Osborne after the race. "That was the best performance down the straightaway I've had in a long time."

The race for the championship was anything but perfection. And it wasn't the high drama fans had anticipated from the closest Chase since the introduction of NASCAR's playoff format in 2004.

An early spin on the part of Denny Hamlin, the Chase leader by 15 points entering the final race, ultimately proved decisive. A pit-road speeding penalty knocked Kevin Harvick (third in points) to the rear of the field just when he appeared ready to contend for the victory. Hamlin finished 14th; Harvick rallied to finish third.

Sloppy work in the pits on the part of Johnson's substitute crew -- borrowed from Jeff Gordon's No. 24 team in the middle of the eighth Chase race (at Texas) and bound to Johnson thereafter -- repeatedly cost the champion track position.

To call the final race a comedy of errors on the part of the title contenders may be harsh, but championship team owner Rick Hendrick did precisely that.

"It was like, 'Who's going to screw up the most?' " Hendrick said after claiming his 10th Cup title (five with Johnson, four with Gordon and one with Terry Labonte).

In the afterglow of a fifth consecutive title, however, the flaws in the process didn't matter.

"Jimmie, you are a rock star, my friend," Chad Knaus radioed after Johnson crossed the finished line 1.608 seconds behind Edwards. "You have proven it time and time again. And you damn did it [Sunday], my friend."

Johnson finished 39 points ahead of Hamlin and 41 ahead of Harvick.

Before the race was 25 laps old, Hamlin made a tough job much more difficult. His No. 11 Toyota, which had started the race 37th but had gained 18 positions in the first 23 laps, touched the No. 16 Ford of Greg Biffle as the cars sped through Turn 2 on Lap 24. Hamlin spun through the infield grass, damaging the front splitter and knocking the toe angle of the tires out of position.

Though his crew worked feverishly to repair the damage, the incident affected the handling just enough to keep Hamlin from making an aggressive run to the front. His troubles were compounded when he was trapped a lap down during a cycle of pit stops and had to take a wave-around to the tail end of the lead lap. At that point Hamlin was fighting Harvick for second in the final standings, not battling Johnson for the championship.

"I felt like, as soon as we dropped the green, I thought we could win the race," Hamlin said. "Our car was really fast at the beginning -- I mean, just unbelievably fast at the beginning -- and I knew we had a car that could contend for a win, and obviously when we got in that incident on the back straightaway, it tore up the front and knocked the toe out, and obviously the car did not drive as well for the rest of the day.

"We just tried to patch it and work on it the best we could, but it just wasn't the car that it was at the beginning. It's just part of racing."

Johnson restarted second on Lap 251 after Harvick dumped Kyle Busch, Hamlin's teammate, into the inside frontstretch wall to cause the 10th and final caution on Lap 244. Johnson couldn't catch Edwards over the final 17 laps, but he pulled away from Harvick to secure the title.

"I'm just beside myself," Johnson said in Victory Lane. "Four was amazing. Now I have to figure out what the hell to say about winning five of these things, because everybody is going to want to know what it means. I don't know. It is pretty damn awesome -- I can tell you that."

Race Notes
• This is Carl Edwards' 18th Cup Series victory in his 229th start.
• This is Carl Edwards' second win in 2010. He won last week at Phoenix ending a 70-race winless streak that dated to Homestead (Nov. '08).
• Carl Edwards won back-to-back races for the fifth time in his career.
• This is Carl Edwards' second win at Homestead. He joins Tony Stewart (2) and Greg Biffle (3) as the only multiple race winners at Homestead.
• This is Roush Fenway Racing's 120th Cup Series win, ranking fourth all-time and the team's fourth in 2010 (Greg Biffle -- 2, Carl Edwards -- 2).
• This is Roush Fenway Racing's seventh win at Homestead, including six of the past seven.
• Jimmie Johnson (second) is the 2010 Sprint Cup Series champion. He finished the season with two poles, six wins, 17 top-five finishes and 23 top-10 finishes.
• Kevin Harvick (third) rebounded from a speeding on pit road penalty. He finished the season with three wins, 16 top-five finishes and 26 top-10 finishes.
• Aric Almirola (fourth) scored a career best finish -- his previous best finish was eighth at Bristol in March 2008.
• A.J. Allmendinger (fifth) finished the season with two top-five finishes and eight top-10 finishes.
• Kasey Kahne (sixth) finished the season with four poles (tied with Jamie McMurray for the most of all drivers), seven top-five finishes and 10 top-10 finishes.

Championship Notes
• This is Jimmie Johnson's fifth conseuctive Cup Series championship in his ninth full time season.
• Jimmie Johnson is the only driver to win five consecutive Cup Series championships in the 62 Cup Series seasons.
• Jimmie Johnson becomes the third driver to win five or more championships: Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt each have seven.
• Jimmie Johnson finished the season with nine consecutive top-10 finishes.
• Jimmie Johnson won his fifth championship in his ninth full-time season. Richard Petty won his fifth in his 16th season, Dale Earnhardt in his 13th season.
• Jimmie Johnson has finished in the top five in all of his nine Cup seasons (first, five times; second, two times; and fifth, two times).
• Jimmie Johnson won his fifth Cup championship in 327 starts. It took Dale Earnhardt 390 starts and Richard Petty 655.

Ford 400 Results

Article Links on the Ford 400
Harvick had enough of Busch "The Clown", so......

Angry Logano Intentionally Wrecks Montoya....

Edwards Dominates Homestead to Close Out the Season....

Hamlin Doomed at Homestead After Early Spin....

Hamlin Reflect on Title That Almost Was.......

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It Took Seven Years, But 2010 Chase Turned Out Just As NASCAR Intended

By Micah Roberts
Las Vegas Review-Journal

When NASCAR implemented the Chase for the Championship format before the 2004 season, the organization's vision was to somehow spruce up the final races to be meaningful because it had been since 1992 that the final race had meant much in regard to crowning the champion. Between the competing football seasons and waning fan interest in the fall months, it was believed that by creating a postseason format like the other sports have it would better captivate the sports-viewing audience.

The move didn’t work as expected. There was a revised standings chart for all to follow, but other than the initial year when Kurt Busch won, the final races were almost as meaningless as the old system because the points leader still didn’t have any pressure in the last race. NASCAR envisioned a media frenzy publicizing their sport like others for their championship games, but no one gets excited for an event when the finale features a 60-point-or-higher favorite who doesn’t have to compete hard to get the crown.

After six seasons of waiting for drama to unfold that never did, the 2010 NASCAR Chase for the Championship has paid back those lost years with enough drama that's sure to satisfy all NASCAR fans and, quite possibly, capture a new audience. There is one race, winner take all. A bonus of not just having two competitors, but three, battling it out, all within 46 points of each other. None of the competitors can coast around Miami-Homestead Speedway like past champions have; they have to go all out and race like … well, race like this is for the championship, something rarely seen in NASCAR.

Sunday’s Ford 400 finally gives the fans something to be excited about for the season finale. Not since 1992 have we seen such a close battle for the final race and most of today’s fans never gave NASCAR a second thought back then. What we're all about to witness Sunday is a drama-filled event with several gripping storylines that most have never seen before involving NASCAR on television.

Now we can finally equate the drama from other sports’ playoffs to NASCAR. Who wouldn’t want to see a defending four-time champion make a run when they’re now the underdog going for their fifth straight title in a one-game format. In the process, we also have a new-generation young gun as the favorite and a long shot who has a small chance at beating both of them.

Jimmie Johnson has become that figure that many fans like to root against just because he wins so much, much like the franchises of the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys or the basketball program of Duke. He doesn’t do much to irritate folks other than win. He's not brash, arrogant or cocky and rarely says a bad thing about anyone. He’s a family man who keeps to himself and goes about his business like a corporate CEO. He comes into this race as an 8-to-5 underdog at the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book to win the championship.

Johnson will be using his third-place car from Fontana, a car that also won at Las Vegas and was runner-up to Denny Hamlin at Texas in April. This will be the first time in five seasons that he will be racing hard for the win at Homestead. He has a good average finish of 12.7 in his nine starts at Homestead, with three top-five finishes and has been the best in NASCAR the last six seasons on 1.5-mile tracks.

The favorite to win the title is Hamlin at minus-230, which is equivalent to being a five-point favorite in pro football. Hamlin holds a slim 15-point lead over Johnson and can clinch the title by winning, or finishing second while leading the most laps regardless of what Johnson does. It would certainly seem possible for Hamlin considering he won this race last year and is using the same car that won at Texas two weeks ago, but the deciding factor may be the pressure of the moment.

Yes, Hamlin won this race last year, but Hamlin wasn’t trying to win a series title against an iconic figure. He also has the baggage of trying to live up to his crew chief's comments following the Texas win that could be classified as trash-talking. It wasn’t exactly Floyd Mayweather Jr.-type of trash-talking before a fight, but it was quite unusual for NASCAR making it stand out more. Hamlin's news conferences and body language the last two weeks suggest that he may be feeling the pressure already.

Then we have the lovable long shot that everyone likes to root for in sports with Kevin Harvick at 15-to-1. Harvick led in points most of the season before the Chase started and is now 46 points behind Hamlin. It's a long shot for him to win, but still very possible. Should Harvick win and lead the most laps, Hamlin would have to finish fourth or worse while Johnson finished seventh or worse in order for the long shot to cash in.

Following Saturday’s practice, Hamlin would appear to have the edge on paper. Johnson seemed to regress in each session while Hamlin got better, finishing with the fourth-fastest lap in happy hour. Johnson was only able to manage the 22nd-fastest single lap and wasn’t any better in average speeds.

The driver who looked the worst on the stat sheet was Harvick, but following Saturday's practices he had the look of someone who was very confident. He brought a new car this week, looking to get an edge over anything they have used this season, and it looked like the move would backfire following Friday’s practice and qualifying where he finished 31st and 28th, respectively.

During Saturday’s practice things got a little better, especially during the final half of happy hour. Harvick was so confident with his car on the longer runs — where he didn’t lose any speed lap to lap — that he parked his car with about six minutes remaining, as if to say, “We’re all good!”

The best single-lap time Harvick could get in happy hour was 29th amongst the 43 drivers, but based on the way he’s run at Homestead over his career he should be in good shape. Harvick has an average finish of 2.5 in the two Car of Tomorrow races run at Homestead and is second overall in track history with an 8.4 average finish in nine starts.

Even though the practice times don’t suggest that he looks like a top candidate this week, his sneaky smile getting out of his car before happy hour ended suggests he has something good. Harvick always wear his emotions on his sleeves and is loud on the radio to his crew when things aren’t going well. In this situation, with the season on the line, if the 29th-fastest lap has him happy then we should expect a great finish on Sunday.

Team racing may come into play like seldom seen before in NASCAR. It won’t be as blatant as Formula One racing, but there are seven other drivers involved that have a direct link as teammates to the three Chase drivers. For the Hendrick team, which surprisingly has never won at Homestead, they also get the benefit of fellow Chevy drivers Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, whom Hendrick has helped immensely the last two seasons. Team Toyota and Hamlin will get help from Michael Waltrip Racing drivers David Reutimann and Martin Truex Jr., who owe their team's success and rise in NASCAR to Joe Gibbs.

No one is going to allow anyone else to win the race, but there will be harder racing going on for position, making the Chase drivers work harder to make passes should they come close to their opponents' teammates. Late in the race, it could get real dicey when the precious positions mean everything to decide the eventual champion. What would normally be a relatively unimportant battle for 11th position, could be the most important one on the track late in the race and it‘s not going to come free unless it‘s one of the Chaser's teammates.

The top-rated driver to win this week comes from Roush-Fenway driver Carl Edwards, the 2008 Homestead winner. A Roush driver has won six of the 11 Homestead races and at one point had won five straight. Edwards was the most impressive in final practices with average speeds and single lap times. He also has a greater thirst for winning after taking Phoenix last week, ending his winless streak that extended all the way back to this race in 2008.

Greg Biffle won three races in a row from 2004-06 and was considered a pre-race favorite because he was bringing his favorite car that won at Pocono and led the most laps at Texas two weeks ago. However, during Friday’s practice, Biffle slapped the wall damaging his car to the point of it being irreparable and forcing the team to go with a backup car. Biffle still maintained good speeds in Saturday’s practice, but not like he would have with the other car.

Two candidates have legitimate shots at ending winless streaks like Edwards did last week. Jeff Gordon hasn’t won since the Texas spring race in 2009 while Jeff Burton last won at Charlotte in the fall of 2008. Each had terrific practices on Saturday in both single-lap times and average speeds. For Gordon, if he were to end his slump this week, he would also end a career slump at Homestead — the only track he has yet to win at on the tour. Incidentally, when Gordon won at Texas, it was his first win on that track after 16 attempts at it.

This will be Burton and Gordon’s 12th Homestead start, making them two of only five drivers to have started every race in track history. Of the five, only Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte can claim a victory.


Read More Here For Top 10 Driver Ratings Following all Practices, Vegas Odds, Stats and More....

Final Homestead-Miami Driver Ratings Following All Practice Sessions

Micah Roberts Top 10 Driver Ratings
Ford 400
Homestead-Miami Speedway
Sunday, November 21, 2010 - 10:19 am (PDT)

Rating    Driver     Odds   Practice 1  Qualifying   Practice 2   Practice 3

 1. Carl Edwards 8/1           1st               2nd              7th                 6th  
2008 winner with track best 6.5 average finish. Fastest average speeds in practice 2.      
 2. Jeff Burton 30/1            33rd             14th             2nd                1st      
Runner-up in 2009 race; using same car that posted top five finishes at Atlanta and Dover.
 3. Kyle Busch 8/1              2nd              33rd             1st                17th      
Career best of eighth in 2009 race; using chassis that led final two practices at Texas.
 4. Jeff Gordon 20/1            6th              11th             3rd                 7th      
Only track on tour he hasn’t won at; 9.5 average finish in 11 starts with 5 top five finishes
 5. Denny Hamlin 5/1         30th             37th              6th                 4th      
Won this race in 2009, third two other times; using winning Texas chassis from two weeks ago.
 6. Jamie McMurray 25/1    5th               3rd              8th                5th 
Terrific practice sessions using winning chassis from Charlotte; career best of third in 2008.      
 7. Greg Biffle 8/1               23rd             27th              4th                9th      
Won this race from 2004-06; Great practices despite losing primary car in Friday’s practice.
 8. Jimmie Johnson 4/1      3rd                6th              11th              22nd      
First time since 2005 he’ll have to race to win at Homestead; using Fontana car that finished third.
 9. Kevin Harvick 7/1          31st              28th            19th               29th    
Finished a series best second and third last two years using the COT; new car this week.
10. Martin Truex Jr. 40/1    9th               25th            22nd               3rd 
11.8 average finish in five career starts; third best average speeds in practice 2.              


Note: Since 1975, the first season of the current points system, only two drivers have overcome a deficit in the season finale to win the title -- Richard Petty in 1979 and Alan Kulwicki in 1992.

Odds courtesy of the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book.

Micah Roberts, a former Race and Sports Book Director, has been setting NASCAR lines in Las Vegas since 1995. He currently writes for multiple publications covering all sports. He can be reached at MM.Roberts7Gmail.com.

Driver Chassis Selections For Homestead-Miami Ford 400

1. Denny Hamlin:Defending race winner; Fourth-best average finish (7.0) in the two races with the COT; Finished third in 2006 and 2007; Two-time winner on 1.5-mile speedways in 2010; Seventh-best average finish (14.1) in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 291) that he won with at Texas two weeks ago.
2. Jimmie Johnson: Started from the pole and finished fifth last year; Finish was sixth top 10 in nine starts; Best finish, of second, came in 2004; Second-best average finish (10.4) in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 580) that he finished third with at Auto Club last month.
3. Kevin Harvick: Leads all drivers with a 2.5 average finish in the two races with the COT;  Led 56 laps and finished third last year; Finish was seventh top 10 in nine starts; Fourth-best average finish (12.9) in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 325) in the Ford 400.
4. Carl Edwards: Second-best average finish (4.0) in the two races with the COT; Finished seventh last year for fifth consecutive top 10; Won this event in 2008 after leading 157 laps; Eighth-best average finish (14.3) in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 709) that he finished 16th with at Charlotte last month.
5. Matt Kenseth: Won the 2007 event after leading 214 laps; Win is one of three top 10s in 10 starts; 19.0 average finish in the two races with the COT; Leads all drivers with a 14.1 average finish (14.1) in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 704) that he finished 15th with at Martinsville.
6. Jeff Gordon: Homestead is only active track he's yet to win at; Has finished sixth or better in last three races; Leads all drivers with nine top 10s; First in laps led (429) in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season.
7. Kyle Busch: Homestead is his worst track based on his 25.2 average finish; Coming off first top 10 in five starts in eighth; Fifth in average finish (13.7) and laps led (276) in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 283) that he most recently finished 32nd with in a tough outing at Texas.
8. Greg Biffle: Leads all drivers with three wins; 16.0 average finish in the two races with the COT; Fourth in laps led (302) in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Will return in the same car that he led 224 laps with at Texas. (Using backup car due to hitting wall with this primary car car in the first practice)
9. Tony Stewart: Led 43 laps and finished 22nd last year in first track start with Stewart-Haas; Finished ninth in 2008 with Joe Gibbs Racing for fifth top 10; Won the first two events on the old configuartion; Third in laps led (334) in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 583) that he posted top 10s with at Las Vegas and Chicagoland.
10. Kurt Busch: Led 43 laps and finished fourth last year; Finish was second top five in four starts with Penske Racing; Won the 2002 race from the pole with Roush Racing; 15.6 average finish and 393 laps led in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 739) in the Ford 400.
11. Clint Bowyer: Fifth-place finish in 2008 lowered average finish to 16.2 in four starts; Led first lap last year en route to an 11th-place finish; Sixth-best average finish (13.8) in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 328) in the Ford 400.
12. Jeff Burton: Coming off best finish (second) in 11 starts; 11th-best average finish (15.5) in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Will return in the same car that he posted top-five finishes with at both Atlanta and Dover.
13. Mark Martin: Finished 12th in first track start with Hendrick Motorsports last season; Best finish, of second, came in 2005 with Roush Racing; Third-best average finish (12.7) in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 595) that he led 41 laps and finished sixth with at Auto Club.
14. Jamie McMurray: Will make first track start in an Earnhardt-Ganassi Chevrolet; Three top 10s in eight starts; Ninth-best average finish (15.0) and 183 laps led in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1006) that he most recently won with at Charlotte.
15. Ryan Newman: Finished 23rd last year in first track start with Stewart-Haas; Posted two top 10s and an average finish of 20.3 in seven starts with Penske Racing; 16.7 average finish in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season.
16. Joey Logano: Finished 24th in first start last year; 17.3 average finish and 32 laps led in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Has scored five straight top 10s in last five races this season; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 290) in the Ford 400.
17. Juan Pablo Montoya: Has yet to post a top 10 in four starts; 22.8 average finish in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1015) that he most recently finished 11th with at Charlotte.
18. David Reutimann: Coming off best finish (15th) in three starts; Won the pole for the 2008 race; 19.0 average finish and 55 laps led in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season.
19. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Homestead is his worst track on the schedule based on his 23.9 average finish; Finished 41st and 28th, respectively, in two starts with Hendrick Motorsports; 20.2 average finish and 56 laps led in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 599) that he finished 22nd with at Kansas.

20. AJ Allmendinger: 10.5 average finish in two starts; 10th-best average finish (15.4) in the nine races on 1.5-mile speedways this season.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Edwards Leads First Homestead Practice, Biffle Goes to Backup Car

Greg Biffle was third fastest while in race trim during Friday's practice session for Sunday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but hit the wall and will be going to a backup car. The difference between the two cars will be huge and take Biffle out of contention to win the race just because the car being replaced was his best car having won at Pocono and leading the most laps at Texas two weeks ago.

Carl Edwards was second fastest in race trim and then was fastest once qualifying trim was put on. Kurt Busch was second fastest overall with qualifying trim on. Jimmie Johnson was fast in both race and qualifying set-up finishing third.    

The big surprises were Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick who both struggled with qualifying trim. However, Hamlin was seventh fastest while in race trim early on in the session.

The fastest with race trim on was Mark Martin who eventually finished eighth fastest after the hour-and-a-half session was completed.

Friday practice for the FORD 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway is over, after 90 scheduled minutes, the top 5, slowest and any notes: (from Jayski.com)
#99-Edwards 175.838
#18-Busch 175.075
#48-Johnson 175.058
#17-Kenseth 175.001
#1- McMurray 174.989
#11-Hamlin was 30th fastest
#29-Harvick was 31st fastest
slowest: #26-Carpentier. 168.708 and #34-Kvapil 169.099
incident: #16-Biffle slapped the wall hard and the team is pulling out the backup car.


Practice 1 Speeds

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Notes From Thursday Press Conference in Miami with Harvick, Johnson and Hamlin

The Big 3, here in Atlanta, had a fun Press conference Thursday in Miami
Call it a play day because that's, in a way, what Thursday was for the drivers. Sure, they'd rather be in their cars instead of all the media obligations, but they were game and had some fun needling each other, including points leader Denny Hamlin during an hour-long press conference down here in Coral Gables, Fla.

Denny Hamlin sat between Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson for the press conference and both drivers had their fun with Hamlin. Each was asked about being up there together and how it made them feel (Harvick and Johnson both stayed with Ron Hornaday when they first came to North Carolina and NASCAR, and Hamlin considers Harvick among his closer friends among the drivers).

"This has probably been one of the most awkward 30 minutes I've been through,'' Hamlin said. "My relationship with Kevin probably started about a year ago. He's got that go-kart race track at his house, so I proceeded to spend a bunch of money and take a go-kart there and race it a little bit and obviously got to know him a little bit more through that. Jimmmie, our relationship, has been professional for the most part. We understand that we have the same goal and we're all going for it and that's where the intensity that you see, whether it be back-and-forth comments, comes from. When you have three drivers that tight, any one is searching for an edge any way that they can. I think that's where you see the competitive nature of us.''

Said Harvick of Hamlin: "He definitely seems like the most nervous.''

Countered Hamlin: "I'm between you.''

When all three were asked what irked each other the other, Johnson spoke of Hamlin being in the lead and Harvick lurking. Hamlin then added: "I was told in these situations to deflect, so I turn to Kevin.''

Then Harvick said; "I'll give you something. I think the thing that irks me the most probably about Denny's team is his crew chief. Jimmie, is the fact that he's probably won the last four championships. Not that that's mean or anything. It's just when a guy has won four in a row, you beat your head against the wall and wonder, "Why can't we be competitive enough, why can't the whole sport be good enough to keep somebody from winning four in a row?''

Later, after the session when the drivers had their own areas for additional questions, Hamlin was asked again what irked him about Johnson and Harvick. Hamlin answered this time, saying: "That's not a whole lot that irks me about them. Their driving styles, I'm OK with, things like that. If I make an argument and you force an answer out, I'll say that Jimmie is just too corporate at times. Maybe that's the one thing that irks me. I know he has a whole lot of feelings bottled up in there, he just doesn't always express them more like me. Kevin, maybe it's the other way around, maybe he's too vocal, more like myself. Other than that, on the race track, I have absolutely no problem with them.''

Harvick, kept needling throughout the session. When asked about the importance of pit crew and pit strategy, Harvick, referenced how Hamlin had such poor fuel mileage at Phoenix, having to pit late, which allowed Harvick and Johnson gain back many points. Harvick then patted Hamlin and said: "I hope they put that same carburetor on your car Sunday.''

Hamlin said: "It won't be.''

Harvick then added: "Hopefully, it's one that's worse.''

When asked about how they would handle the pressure, Hamlin got going and then got tongue tied that led to some fun from Johnson. Hamlin started by saying: "Inside the car, it's really all business. The busier I am outside the race car, probably the more focused I'd be inside the race car on a race weekend. I try not to give myself too much time with msyelf. You know what I mean?''

Johnson then whispered into Hamlin's ear, eliciting a smile.

"I'll stop there,'' Hamlin said.

A few more things from the drivers:
On nerves:
KEVIN HARVICK: "I think for me, I was more nervous about starting the Chase and more uptight as we went through the first five, six, seven weeks about not being able to be in contention when we got to this point. Sure, we're 46 points behind, but I was more nervous about failing to get to this point than I had been last week or this week.

I've been more relaxed this week than I have been the whole Chase to be honest with you, because this is the moment you live for. This is the easy part, in my opinion, to go out and race the car for a championship. This week you get all the things that you asked for. The only thing that's not guaranteed is the championship.

But for our team in particular, you look at last year, it was just a total disaster. It was the worst year that we've ever had at RCR. So it's a win‑win situation for us. There's no losing in a situation for everybody at RCR and myself. We've learned a lot of things that can help us go forward.

On the frustration from last weekend's finish at Phoenix:
Denny Hamlin: "Yeah, I mean, it was frustrating for a little while. I got the bloody knuckles to prove it. It's just part of it. It's part of our sport. We're all going to have emotions on those kind of days.

For me, when I said I was leaving Phoenix, I left Phoenix, it was over with, it was. It was completely over with. The only time I relived it is when I got home, I do my normal thing, always rewatch the races no matter what to learn as much as I can. Once that I was done, turned the TV off, it was done. I thought about it a little bit before I went to bed. When I woke up the next day, just kept myself busy.

For me, I got a lot of encouraging text messages talking about, This is a great situation you're in. If you said going into the Chase you'd have the lead, would you take it? I would have definitely said yes.

We've all had opportunities, all three of us had opportunities to break away from the pack at times. It seems like the other two constantly just make that tough and continue to put themselves in position to gain ground.

It's fitting that we're in the situation, all three of us, with this one race to go.

On the gamesmanship displayed Thursday and throughout the Chase
Jimmie Johnson: "I just think it's natural to poke at whoever is the guy, and I've been up there as the leader and had the others poking at me. Rub someone the wrong way today, it didn't matter. I know how this event alone has affected me. Everybody handles anything differently, but I would think that there's going to be plenty of thoughts in his mind over the next couple of nights.''

- Notes from Dustin Long, Virginia Pilot

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Roush-Fenway Ford 400 Preview: History on their side at Homestead-Miami

Matt Kenseth


Matt Kenseth on racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway: “Homestead is pretty cool and I think the racing there is really exciting because of how unique of a track it’s become. They did a great job and they weren’t scared to go out on a limb and build it like no other track on the circuit that we race at. There are a lot of different lanes you can look for to race on so that makes it a lot of fun. It’s the only track we have that’s a true oval without the dogleg, and with the added banking in the backstretch being higher than the frontstretch, it makes all four corners a lot different. It’s a really unique track where everybody loves going to, and it’s a great place at the end of the year to crown all the champions.”

Crew chief Jimmy Fennig on racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway: "We only get the chance to race at Homestead once a year, and although it’s a 1.5-mile track which Roush Fenway seems to have success at, it’s still difficult to prepare for since there aren’t really any other tracks like it that we visit. Since they added the banking a few years ago, I really think it’s become a great place to watch a race at, and with all the Ford Championship Weekend events, you always want to finish the year out strong.”

Chassis: Primary: RK-704 (last run at Martinsville)


Carl Edwards

Carl Edwards on racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway: “Ford Championship weekend has always been a huge weekend for me and Roush Fenway. We’ve got a ton of momentum right now. I feel like our 1.5-mile program is really strong, and our team is riding a huge wave from last weekend’s win in Phoenix. We can’t lose at Homestead because no matter what happens we all feel like we finished the season strong. We’re just going to go for the win and hopefully finish top four in points. That would be huge.”

Crew chief Bob Osborne on racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway: “It was great to finally get a win at Phoenix last weekend. Now we can go to Homestead and try for another win, and maintain our fourth place in the points. Carl has a great record at Homestead and won there in 2008. We are taking our newest car in the fleet which we ran at Charlotte so I feel it will be good. We’ve got a lot of momentum going into the final race of the season so we’d love to end the year with one more win.”

Chassis: RK-709 This car last raced at Charlotte in October, finished 12th

ON THE TRACK…The Aflac team will be unloading chassis RK-709. Edwards raced this Ford Fusion most recently at Charlotte in October where he finished 16th. It was a new car at Charlotte.

FOR THE RECORD…Edwards’ average start at Homestead is 15.3, his average finish is 6.5 which is the best of all active drivers. He has also led a total of 251 laps there, third among active drivers. He has only finished outside the top 10 once in six starts.

IN THE LOOP… According to NASCAR’s Loop Statistics compiled over the last six races at Homestead, Edwards has turned 112 of the track’s fastest laps, spent 1,112 laps in the top 15, and has a driver rating of 111, which leads all active drivers in these categories.

Greg Biffle

Biffle on Homestead: “We’re taking the same car to Homestead that we led with at Texas and won with at Pocono. We’ve had some success at Homestead obviously and it would be great to end another season with a win there. We had some extreme highs and lows during this Chase but the highs are encouraging for next season. We know that we can compete for wins now as long as we don’t have part failures. We are still working on our short track program but I think we’re moving in the right direction. We’ll just go to Homestead this weekend and do everything we can to finish this season with a win.”

Crew Chief Greg Erwin on Homestead: “Biffle has an incredible record at Homestead with his three wins in a row so we know he can get it done if we can give him a fast racecar. Just like most every other week this year, we need to qualify up front and stay there with good pit stops. If we can do that, the rest will be up to Biffle and we should be able to compete for the win. We had one get away from us in Texas and it would be great to end the 2010 season with another trip to victory lane.”

  • Biffle’s average finish at Homestead is 13.5 from an average starting position of 16.1.
  • Biffle finished three seasons in a row (2004, 2005 and 2006) with wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
  • Last year at Homestead Biffle fought a loose racecar and finished 14th after starting eighth.
  • The car that Greg is racing this weekend at Homestead is the same car he won with at Pocono and led 224 laps with two weeks ago in Texas.

- Roush Fenway Racing, Press Release

Jimmie Johnson Homestead-Miami Ford 400 Preview: Using Winning Vegas Chassis

Jimmie Johnson

RACE NOTES
Homestead-Miami Speedway

  • Johnson has made nine Sprint Cup Series starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he has earned three top-five and six top-10 finishes.
  • The 1.5-mile track is one of only four venues on which the Sprint Cup Series competes that Johnson hasn’t visited Victory Lane. (Michigan, Chicago, Watkins Glen, Homestead)
  • Johnson has completed 94.1% (2265 of 2408) of competition laps at the venue and has led 71.
  • He has an average start and finish of 19.3 and 12.7.

Chassis
Johnson will pilot chassis No. 580 in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race. He last drove that car to a third-place result at Auto Club Speedway in October.
Johnson drove back up chassis No. 558 from a first-place starting spot to Victory Lane at Dover International Speedway in September.

JIMMIE JOHNSON QUOTES
DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM 2004 OR 2005 TO HELP YOU THIS SEASON?: “In both instances, kind of different routes to get to this same opinion, it’s not over until the last lap at Homestead. Clearly the 97 (Kurt Busch) losing his wheel mid-race at Homestead led us to believe that it was maybe our day and that things were going to work out. The green-white-checkered run to the finish at the end, I don’t think the green-white-checkered was in play at that time and he was the car behind me when it counts – the 97 and he wins the championship. That one proved to me that it’s not over until the last lap. At Homestead, with the 20 (Tony Stewart) car, we blow a tire and wreck and the 20 needed to finish like in the top-25 or something if we did things right. We had a great evening going and the 20 ran terrible. I still kick myself today for not coming to pit road, not getting the tire off the car because I felt like I had a problem and it was slowing down my pace and maybe we could have recovered from going down a lap and put more pressure on the 20 and come back and finish like we needed to, but we didn’t. I know that if we stay in the game till the last lap at Homestead, we will have a chance. That’s my mindset off of those two examples.”

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO QUESTION YOUR PERFORMANCE AT HOMESTEAD? “I’m not sure why that’s even relevant. If you look at points accumulated over the course of the Chase, I think that will speak volumes as to what type of Chase took place. I know we’ve been competitive, but not as dominant as we wanted to all year long. We’ve got to go down there and race for it; there’s no doubt about it. I continue to hear that the No. 48 hasn’t had to race for it before and we’ve raced for it all Chase long.

“Maybe at Homestead we’ve been able to protect, but we certainly know that’s not the case this year and I love where we are. I love putting pressure on these guys and in fact I’m glad we cut their lead in half.”

I KNOW YOU DON’T LIKE TO TALK ABOUT YOURSELF IN THESE TERMS, DO YOU THINK YOUR GREATNESS CAN BE SOLIDIFIED WITH A COME FROM BEHIND CHAMPIONSHIP? “You know, it would probably be received better than the ones in the past, with the runaway show we’ve had on a couple of them. I don’t care how I win it. However we win it, that’s cool (laughter). I would love to come back and win from behind and eliminate that stat because that seems to be the only thing that everyone talks about right now.

“When I look at the way we started the Chase, I’m more frustrated at what we did then, in the fact we didn’t capitalize at Loudon. Last week we missed a pit call late in the race. Everybody behind us had tires on. We ended up ninth. When you go back through the season, look at little things, we’ve left points on the table. That’s unlike us from years past. That’s the part we’re fighting right now.”

SPRINT CUP SERIES CAREER NOTES
Career Wins

  • Johnson has 53 wins in his Sprint Cup Series career, his most recent coming at Dover International Speedway on Sept. 26, 2010.
  • The El Cajon, Calif.-native is currently 10th on NASCAR’s all-time wins list, one victory behind Lee Petty.
  • He is second in total wins among active drivers, behind Jeff Gordon (82).
  • Johnson needed only 296 starts to hit the 50 mark. Only three drivers have reached 50 victories quicker – Gordon (232), Darrell Waltrip (278) and David Pearson (293).
  • Johnson has won at least three Cup races a season since he posted his first victory in 2002. He is the only driver in the modern era to win at least three races in each of his first eight full-time seasons.
  • Johnson has won Sprint Cup Series races at all but four (Michigan, Chicago, Watkins Glen, Homestead) of the 22 tracks on which the series competes.
  • Johnson was the first driver to win three of the first five races in The Chase.
  • Johnson’s 10 wins in 2007 was the highest number recorded in a single season since Jeff Gordon posted 13 victories in 1998.
  • The four-consecutive wins scored by the No. 48 team in the 2007 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ties a modern-era NASCAR record.

Career Poles

  • Johnson has collected 25 poles in his Sprint Cup career.
  • The championship driver has earned at least one pole a year since his first full-time season in 2002.
  • He had a career-high six poles in 2008.
  • Johnson’s most recent pole position was at Dover International Speedway on Sept. 24, 2010.

Career Starts

  • In 35 2010 starts, Johnson has collected six wins, 16 top five and 22 top-10 finishes.
  • Johnson has finished in the top five in the Sprint Cup Series point standings each year since his first full season in 2002.
  • Johnson is the only driver to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup every year since the format was adopted in 2004.
  • In 326 Sprint Cup Series starts, Johnson has posted 1333 top-five and 202 top-10 finishes.
  • He has a top-five finish at every track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit.
  • Johnson has led a total of 10,995 laps (of 93,961) in his Sprint Cup career, covering over 125,856 miles.
  • He has finished on the lead lap 252 times.

Primary Car History – Chassis No. 580
Date           Event          Start        Finish
02/28/2010 Las Vegas   20            1
04/19/2010 Texas           4             2
05/22/2010 All-Star        7           13
06/13/2010 Michigan      3             6
08/21/2010 Bristol          1           35
10/10/2010 California     8             3


Race 10 of Chase
Points ComingStartingFinishingPoints After
YearInto EventPositionPositionEvent
2004Homestead23922
2005Homestead232405
2006Homestead11591
2007Homestead1171
2008Homestead130151
2009Homestead1151


Jimmie Johnson – Homestead-Miami Speedway
DateStartFinishLapsStatusLed
11/11/20013016267/267Running0
11/17/2002168267/267Running27
11/16/2003103267/267Running7
11/21/2004392271/267Accident0
11/20/20053240124/267Running0
11/19/2006159268/268Running2
11/18/200717267/267Running1
11/16/20083015267/267Running6
11/22/200915267/267Running28

Jimmie Johnson – Year-by-Year Cup Statistics
YearStartsWinsTop 5Top 10PolesFinal
Points
20013000052
200236362145
2003363142022
2004368202312
2005364132215
2006365132411
20073610202441
2008367152261
2009367162441
2010*356162222
* to date


- GMR Live Marketing for Team Lowe’s Racing, Press Release

Kevin Harvick Homestead-Miami Ford 400 Preview: Brand New Chassis This Week

Kevin Harvick
No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet at Homestead-Miami Speedway … Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 325 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet is a completely brand new car which will see its first laps on the track during Friday’s practice session.

Career Homestead Stats … The Homestead 400 marks Harvick’s 358th career start in the NSCS.
  • In nine NSCS starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Harvick owns four top-five and seven top-10 finishes.
  • He has completed all but one lap of competition at Homestead (2,407 of 2,408).
  • His best Homestead finish is second (2003 and 2008).
  • He has started inside the top 10 in six of his nine Homestead races.
Sweet Spot … Harvick owns an average start of 11.6 and an average finish of 8.4 at Homestead. Both marks are best of all circuits on the NSCS tour for the Bakersfield, Calif., native.

Phoenix Recap … Harvick and the No. 29 overcame a pit road miscue in the latter stages of last weekend’s race at Phoenix to storm back from 18th and finish sixth. A missing lugnut on a pit stop with 88 laps to go forced Harvick to give up his fourth-place position on the track and pit a second time. The miscue allowed the team to top off with fuel, which aided them in the final laps as several cars pitted under green-flag conditions for fuel. The effort was the team’s eighth top-10 finish in the nine Chase races to date.

Mr. Consistent … The RCR driver leads all NSCS drivers in top-10 finishes with 25. For the season, Harvick owns three points-paying wins (Talladega in April, Daytona in July and Michigan in August), a second straight Budweiser Shootout victory at Daytona in February, and 31 top-15 finishes in the season’s 35 races.

In the Loop … Harvick owns some very impressive loop data statistics over the season’s first 35 races.
  • First in average finish (8.8).
  • Second in Closer category, total positions improved during the last 10 percent of each race.
  • Third in fastest drivers late in a run.
  • Third in fastest speed in traffic.
  • Third in green flag speed.
  • Fourth in Driver Rating, a formula combining the following categories: wins, finishes, top-15 finishes, average running position while on lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, led most laps, and lead lap finish.
  • Fifth in percentage of laps run on lead lap.
  • Fifth in fastest drivers early in a run.
  • Fifth in average running position.
Crew Chief of the Year … By helping Harvick stay on or near the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings for most of the 2010 season with crafty, gutsy and successful race decisions, Gil Martin was named the 2010 WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year. A formal announcement was made last weekend in Phoenix, and Martin served as grand marshal of the WYPALL 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Phoenix. Martin, who notched his first win as a crew chief in 2001 and has six NSCS wins overall, was the first crew chief in NASCAR history to win in all three of its top divisions (Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series).

Kevin Harvick Foundation Christmas for Kids Concert … The Kevin Harvick Foundation, along with 93.1 The Wolf, will host a charity toy drive concert on December 16, 2010 at Johnny and June’s Ultra Saloon in Winston-Salem, N.C., which will benefit foster children in Guilford and Forsyth Counties through Foster Friends of N.C. and the Kevin Harvick Foundation. Headlining the holiday concert is country music star, Sara Evans. Opening for Evans are Bridgette Tatum and special guest star, Kyle Petty. The evening will also include door prizes, a silent auction and more. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., and admission to the event is a $20 new, unwrapped toy or cash donation. Go to www.fosterfriendsnc.org to see a detailed wish list of items needed. For more information about the Kevin Harvick Foundation, please visit www.kevinharvickfoundation.org.

KEVIN HARVICK QUOTES:

How do you feel about where you are in the point battle? “I feel excited because the worst we can finish in the points is third. We have a great race track for us, and we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. There’s really nothing else that matters at this point. Just throw it all out there, and if it gets rough, it gets rough. If it doesn’t, then we just go race and see where it all falls in the end. It’s still a no pressure, no lose situation for us, and I like it.”

How has Gil Martin’s leadership affected this Chase? “I think when you speak of Gil (Martin, crew chief), he is great for me because he’s very good with our people, and that can be my shortfall, sometimes. He’s very motivating. He’s very good in controversial situations by guiding the team and telling them what they need to do, and keeping them away from the things that they don’t need to focus on. Last week was a great example. After our tough pit stop, I was pretty down, but he stayed after me and picked my spirits back up.”

With the improvements at RCR, do you think ‘hey, I’m close, I like my chances’? “Well, Homestead has been a great race track for us. We’ve had great results over the past several years there. It’s a race track that kind of fits my driving style. We’ve run well there, and I don’t think there is anything that should keep us from doing that this time, either.”

How does Homestead fit your driving style? “It’s just unique. You can charge turn one a little bit more than you can at most places, because as you get through the corner, the banking seems to get steeper all the way through, and you have options. You can run the top, you can run the bottom, you can run the middle, or you can split the middle-top or middle-bottom and make your car turn. It’s just a unique race track, and it seems to fit the guys that like to move around and make their cars work in different spots.”

- Richard Childress Racing, Press Release

Denny Hamlin Homestead-Miami Ford 400 Preview: He's Using Winning Texas Chassis

DENNY HAMLIN EXPRESS NOTES:
Denny Hamlin winning last years season finale at Homestead-Miami
Hamlin, FedEx Racing Bitten by Fuel Mileage at Phoenix: Denny Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Racing team looked destined to visit Victory Lane and increase their lead at the top of the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings Sunday at Phoenix International Speedway during a truly dominating run but, in the end, fuel mileage undid their distinct advantage and relegated them to a bittersweet 12th-place finish. Hamlin collected bonus points for both leading a lap, and for leading a race-high 190 laps on the day to maintain his Chase lead heading to Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend.

“Go Denny!” – FedEx Delivery Vehicles Take to the Streets in Support of the FedEx Racing Team: To celebrate the on-track success of the FedEx Racing team, a total of 600 FedEx delivery vehicles in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Phoenix and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale markets will carry a special decal showing the company’s support for the #11 team’s Chase for the Sprint Cup campaign.

Hamlin at Homestead: This weekend will mark Hamlin’s sixth start at Homestead-Miami and his 187th career start at the Cup level. A year ago, with a championship out of reach, Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Racing team headed to the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway prepared to go all out for a race win, put an exclamation point on a successful season, and attempt to climb back into the top five in points. In the end, they accomplished all goals as Hamlin battled forward from his starting position of 38th to lead a race-high 71 laps and claim a first win at Homestead.

In 2008, after a season and Chase full of up and downs, it came as no surprise that the final laps were nail biting for Denny Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Racing team. With a car that was as strong as any on the track at Homestead, Hamlin and team were put in the unenviable position of having to sacrifice track position for fuel with 12 laps to go. And, though several cars followed Hamlin off the track, or ran out of fuel on it, the cars that went the distance relegated Hamlin to a frustrating 13th-place finish.

This team has made a habit of not qualifying particularly well at this 1.5-mile oval but generally run very strong come Sunday. Hamlin made his sixth-ever Cup start at Homestead in the fall of 2005 and it ended up being the ultimate learning experience as he found the wall both in practice and qualifying then fought handling to bring the car home in 33rd. 2006 was a completely different story. Coming to South Florida in the thick of the Chase for the Nextel Cup and looking to put an exclamation point on a record-setting rookie season, Hamlin drove an excellent race, bringing the #11 home in third place and locking up third place in the 2006 championship standings.

 The 2007 race at Homestead followed the same script as the 2006 edition – starting from deep in the pack; Hamlin wasted little time pushing forward and gained 15 spots through the first 18 laps. He would lead 19 laps on the day and run in the top five for most of the 267 laps before finishing an impressive third.

FedEx Express South Florida Region Along for the Ride in Homestead: The #11 FedEx Express Toyota will carry the letters SFL on the b-post this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in recognition of the FedEx Express AGFS and U.S. Operations teams in the South Florida market. In addition to their commitment to customer service, the team is very involved in supporting FedEx community initiatives.

Hamlin will use Texas chassis this week
Homestead Chassis – JGR 291 and 285: The FedEx team will unload Chassis JGR 291 this weekend in Homestead. 291 ran, and won, two weeks ago in Texas. Chassis 285 will serve in backup duty.


HAMLIN CONVERSATION – Homestead-Miami Speedway:

It’s all for the taking at Homestead this weekend – this is a scenario you said you welcomed, still this case?: “I still like the idea that we are all going to be racing for the championship on track this weekend. It’s really good for this sport and for the fans. I hated the way our race ended last week only because we had been so strong. It was frustrating to run up front and see it go away at the end but we are still in the lead and we still think we will be very good at Homestead.”

Did you imagine this Chase could be so tight going into the last race?: “I didn’t but that is the goal of the Chase versus the old system. This is how it’s supposed to work in the Chase, a real shootout at the final race. Over the past four years we’ve had scenarios where the 48 was comfortably ahead and didn’t need to race for the win at Homestead to win the championship. This year is definitely different and it should make for an exciting race.”

Looking back at this season, short of winning the Championship on Sunday did you accomplish everything you wanted to: “We did as a team, yes. There were points where were really good, really consistently good and winning races but there were also points where we didn’t run as well as we wanted to. To win eight races was awesome and something we can be really proud of, but we want this championship and we want to keep improving and challenging ourselves. I think our potential to be even better is there.”

- Weber Shandwick Worldwide for FedEx Racing, Press Release