NASCAR

  • NASCAR XFINITY Series Team Penalized For Rule Violation At Talladega Superspeedway

    The No. 40 team OF Driver Derek White that competes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series has been penalized for a rule infraction discovered during pre-race inspection May 2 at Talladega Superspeedway.

    The infraction is a P3 level penalty and violates the following Sections in the 2015 NASCAR rule book:

    12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing
    20.17.2.1: Overall vehicle weight
                B. Any and all ballast added to the vehicle must be bolted inside an added ballast container, inside the main frame rails, and/or inside the front sway bar mounting tube.

    As a result of this violation, crew chief Kevyn Rebolledo has been placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31. Additionally, driver/owner Derek White has been docked 15 NASCAR XFINITY Championship driver and car owner points.

  • National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer Statement

    Today the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer, Mr. Bryan Moss, heard and considered the appeal of a P5 penalty issued on March 31, 2015 to Richard Childress (owner), Ryan Newman (driver), Lucas Lambert (crew chief), James Bender (tire technician) and Philip Surgen (race engineer) relative to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series vehicle #31 at Auto Club Speedway.

    The penalty concerns the following sections in the 2015 NASCAR rule book:

    12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing
    20.16: Wheels and tires
                A. Any device, modification, or procedure to the tire or wheel, including the valve stem hardware, that is used to release pressure, beyond normal pressure adjustments, from the tire and/or inner shield, will not be permitted.
    20.16.2: Tires
                F. Modifications to the tires, by treatment or any other means, will not be permitted.

    12.5.3.5.2: Minimum P5 Penalty Options (includes all four points below):

                A. Loss of 50 championship driver and owner points, regardless of whether the violation occurred during a Championship race or not
                B. $75,000-$125,000 fine
                C. Suspension for the next six series Championship Races, plus any non-championship races or special events which might occur during that time period, for the crew chief and any other team members as determined by NASCAR
                D. Probation through the end of the calendar year for all suspended members, or for a six-month period following the issuance of the penalty notice if that period spans across two consecutive seasons

    12.5.3.5.3: P5 Level infractions detected during post-race inspection:
    If the infraction is detected during post-race inspection, then the following penalty elements will be added to those listed previously in this section:
                A. Loss of an additional 25 Championship driver and owner points; regardless of whether it was a Championship Race or not
                B. Loss of an additional $50,000

    The original penalty assessed included a $125,000 ($75,000 plus $50,000) fine, six-race suspension and probation through Dec. 31 to Lambert; six-race suspension and probation through Dec. 31 to both Bender and Surgen; and the loss of 75 (50 plus 25) championship car owner and 75 (50 plus 25) championship driver points to both Childress and Newman.
     
    On April 16, a three-person National Motorsports Appeals Panel heard the appeal and made the following decisions:

    1. The Appellants violated the Rule or Rules set forth in the Penalty Notice and it is a P5 level  violation.
    2. The Panel amends the original Penalty levied by NASCAR because there is no written explanation of what constitutes a post-race inspection. Therefore the Penalty elements added under Section 12.5.3.5.3. are removed and the Penalty adjusted to:
    -Loss of 50 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Car Owner points for Richard Childress.
    -Loss of 50 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Driver points for Ryan Newman.
    -$75,000 fine.  Suspended for the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Races, plus any non-Championship Races or Special Events which might occur during that time period.  Placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31 for crew chief Lucas Lambert.
    - Suspended for the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Races, plus any non-Championship Races or Special Events which might occur during that time period.  Placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31 for Tire Technician James Bender.
    -Suspended for the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Races, plus any non-Championship Races or Special Events which might occur during that time period.  Placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31 for Race Engineer Philip Surgen.

    Upon hearing today’s testimony, Bryan Moss, the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer, made the following decisions:
    •    Based on a preponderance of evidence, the Appellants violated the Rules.
    •    Based on a preponderance of evidence, the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer upholds the penalty as amended by the National Motorsports Appeals Panel.

    The decision of the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer is final and binding on all parties.

  • Nature's Bakery Begins NASCAR Journey with Danica Patrick

    Nature’s Bakery, a rapidly-growing snacks and food brand headquartered in Reno, Nevada, has joined Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) to become the primary sponsor of driver Danica Patrick and the No. 10 team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beginning with the 2016 season.

    The multiyear sponsorship agreement will see Nature’s Bakery and its signature tagline, “Energy for Life’s Great Journeys”, adorn Patrick’s No. 10 Chevrolet SS for 28 races a year.

    Nature’s Bakery was founded in 2010 by the father-and-son duo of Dave and Sam Marson with a mission of making delicious, convenient, on-the-go snacks that complement health-conscious living and active, everyday lifestyles. Their lineage in the food industry can be traced back to the 1960s when Dave’s father, Richard Marson, opened a family bakery. Growing up in the bakery, Dave passed his passion and skills along to his son, Sam, whereupon the two combined their knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit to form Nature’s Bakery.

    “Danica Patrick is one of the most fit and health-conscious drivers in all of racing and she embodies the Nature’s Bakery customer,” said Dave Marson, founder of Nature’s Bakery. “We make great products that complement Danica’s lifestyle and the always on-the-go environment in which she competes. Nature’s Bakery provides ‘Energy for Life’s Great Journeys’ and we’re very proud to embark upon this NASCAR journey with Danica and Stewart-Haas Racing.”

    “It’s an honor to represent Nature’s Bakery and also a great deal of responsibility,” Patrick said. “They have ambitious goals and they’re going to rely on me and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing to deliver. I have ambitious goals too. It’s why I came to NASCAR and, specifically, to Stewart-Haas Racing. There’s still a lot I want to achieve in this sport and I’m looking to continue my professional journey with a brand as determined as I am.”

    Patrick is motorsports’ most recognizable athlete and the most marketable personality in NASCAR according to Repucom’s 2015 Davie Brown Index. Her success on the racetrack, which includes an IndyCar Series victory and a Daytona 500 pole, transcends her into the mainstream, proven by a 2014 Harris Poll which named Patrick the second-most recognized female athlete in the United States, behind only tennis star Serena Williams.

    “All you need to say is ‘Danica’ and people know exactly who you’re talking about,” Dave Marson added. “She has immersed herself and succeeded in a very intense sport and been recognized for her efforts. By offering convenient, easy-to-find and affordable products that people can feel better about eating, we’ve carved a niche for Nature’s Bakery in the fast-growing, packaged snack-food industry. With our partnership with Danica and Stewart-Haas Racing, we’re able to take that niche mainstream.”

    “Danica has proven she belongs in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and we’re very happy to have her a part of our team for years to come,” said Tony Stewart, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing with Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation, the largest CNC machine tool builder in North America. “Nature’s Bakery is a natural fit with Danica. She has played an important role in the growth of all the businesses associated with her and our growth as a race team. Our partnership with Nature’s Bakery is all about growing their business. In Danica, we have the best possible person to help Nature’s Bakery achieve its goals.”

    About Nature’s Bakery:
    Nature’s Bakery, headquartered in Reno, Nevada, is an on-the-go snacks and food brand that was founded in 2010 by father and son, Dave and Sam Marson. Believing in quality and the use of thoughtful ingredients, the two set out on one simple mission – to create delicious, convenient snack and food products people can enjoy in their everyday lives. Adding to their popular line of stone-ground, whole-wheat fig bars, Nature’s Bakery now offers gluten-free fig bars. For more information, please visit us on the Web at www.NaturesBakery.com, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/NaturesBakery, on Twitter @NaturesBakery, on Instagram @NaturesBakery and on Pinterest @NaturesBakery.

  • Stenhouse Jr. to Honor Clauson with Special Scheme at Bristol

    Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will pay tribute to the late Bryan Clauson this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway by running the Fastenal scheme that Clauson raced during the 2008 NASCAR XFINITY Series season.

    “It will be a huge honor to run the same Fastenal scheme that Bryan raced in 2008,” Stenhouse said. “This past week has been difficult for many but it has been great to see the racing community join together to support Bryan’s family, friends and Lauren. Bryan was one of my best friends and hopefully we can ‘parked it’ in victory lane on Saturday for Bryan.”

    In 2008, Fastenal served as the primary partner for Clauson’s No. 40 Chip Ganassi machine. In his 21 starts, he scored one pole award at Daytona International Speedway and one top-five and two top-10 finishes.

    “Ricky approached us last week about the opportunity to honor Bryan at Bristol by running the paint scheme we ran with him in 2008,” said Brooke Mlsna, vice president of marketing. “We thought it was an admirable tribute to someone we looked at as a valued member of the Blue Team.”

    In seven starts at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile, the two-time NXS champion has scored two top-five and three top-10 finishes. Stenhouse earned his best career finish at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2014 finishing second behind former Roush Fenway teammate Carl Edwards after an unexpected caution came with two laps remaining followed by a rain shower.

  • Stewart-Haas Racing driver picks up second victory of season

    Starting 24th in a backup car, Kurt Busch fought his way to the front of the field through intermittent rain showers and won Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway when a deluge halted the race after 138 of a scheduled 200 laps.

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. was second when NASCAR red-flagged the event for the fourth time. Martin Truex Jr. was credited with third, followed by Matt Kenseth and Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski.
     
    The victory was Busch’s second of the season. He won for the third time at Michigan and for the 27th time in his career.
     
    "It's an unbelievable feeling to know what we went through, paced ourselves, and found the lead toward the latter part of the race when the rain came in," Busch said in Victory Lane.
     
    "You know what’s more special about this? Winning in Chevrolet's backyard. That’s what's most important about winning in Michigan, so thanks to Chevrolet."
     
    That his team had put in extra hours to ready a backup car after Busch hit the wall in Friday’s opening practice was not lost on the winning driver.
     
    "Yeah, you have to get down and dirty," Busch said. "You have to really roll up your sleeves, get your elbows dirty, and put the work into it. And (crew chief) Tony Gibson makes these guys work a little extra hard.
     
    "I always say thanks. I'm always there early with them. And it's a great team chemistry feel."
     
    Busch grabbed the lead for the first time on Lap 133 when Kyle Larson's gas-mileage gamble came up short and the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was forced to pit road for fuel just as a storm cell was advancing toward the speedway.
     
    Busch had pushed Larson to the lead after a restart on Lap 130, but Larson hadn’t gotten fuel since Lap 88, and crew chief Chris Heroy was gambling that the rain would arrive before Larson ran out of gas. As it turned out, the rain came three laps too late for Heroy's strategy to bear fruit.
     
    The heavy thunderstorm arrived on Lap 136, forcing NASCAR to throw a caution and then to red-flag the race for the fourth time two laps later, with Busch out.
     
    Busch also got an unintended assist from teammate Kevin Harvick, who led 63 laps in the race’s dominant car.
     
    Harvick held a lead of roughly four seconds when he brought his No. 4 Chevrolet to pit road on Lap 120, but the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion had to return to his pit stall two laps later because of a flat right front tire. Harvick lost two laps in the process and was 29th when NASCAR called the race shortly after 6 p.m.
     
    Earnhardt was on the inside beside Larson for the final restart, but the push from Busch propelled Larson to his short-lived lead, and Busch followed to the outside of Earnhardt's car.
     
    "When it came to the restarts, we didn't take off as well as the 41," Earnhardt said. "We saw the same thing at Charlotte, the 78 (Truex) and the 41 take off real good.
     
    "We were just kind of tight waiting on the front to work, don't have the good speed that they have the first three or four laps, and that was the difference today, and the 4 (Harvick) having the trouble he had. He had the field covered."
     
    If fortune favored Kurt Busch on Sunday, the same can't be said for brother Kyle Busch, whose car slipped on damp asphalt in Turn 3 and shot into the outside wall to bring out the third caution on Lap 52. In what may be the decisive blow to his prospects of making the Chase after missing the first 11 races because of injuries sustained at Daytona in February, Busch finished 43rd.

  • Stewart-Haas Racing takes home top two spots as Harvick is the runner-up

    Kurt Busch put on a dominating performance to win the Toyota Owners 400 on Sunday afternoon at Richmond International Raceway.

    Busch, who was suspended by NASCAR for the first three races of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, led 291 laps and all but 15 of the final 306 circuits in the victory.

    "It's an incredible feeling," said Busch, who was reinstated March 11 and granted a waiver into the Chase.

    "It's a total team effort. And the way that everything came together, it just seemed like we were building, building and building towards a great finish like this.

    "I have this opportunity because of Gene Haas and everybody that's a part of our family at Stewart-Haas. It's an unbelievable feeling when you pull deep from within, you go through troubles and you know when you're accused of something and things go sideways. Your personal life doesn't need to affect your business life and I'm here in Victory Lane. It feels great to do it at Richmond."

    The win was Busch's first in nine races with crew chief Tony Gibson, his second win at Richmond and the 26th win of his Sprint Cup career.

    Busch's Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick took second place for the third time in five races. Jimmie Johnson notched a third-place finish while Jamie McMurray took fourth.

    Pole sitter Joey Logano, who finished fifth, led the first 50 laps of the race, until the scheduled competition caution waved allowing teams the opportunity to pit for fuel, tires and adjustments. The top 10 left pit road as they entered, but McMurray had to come down pit road a second time after being informed his team left lug nuts loose.
     
    Logano led the field back to green and maintained the race lead through Lap 94, when Busch challenged and inherited the lead on Lap 95. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver pulled to an eight-tenths of a second lead by Lap 100 and extended it until a Lap 127 caution when Joey Gase wrecked on the backstretch.
     
    Busch won the race off pit road and controlled the field through the halfway point with a 0.826 second advantage over Brad Keselowski in second. Through the long run, McMurray climbed through the field and momentarily challenged Busch for the top spot on Lap 259, but Busch reasserted himself a lap later.
     
    McMurray regained control of the lead a lap later and led until green flag pit stops began on Lap 263 with McMurray pitting on Lap 265. Meanwhile, Keselowski stayed out and shuffled into the lead. Nearing the end of green flag stops, Brett Moffitt made contact with the wall in Turn 4 bringing out the fifth caution of the day, leaving only three cars on the lead lap.
     
    Keselowski, Justin Allgaier and Busch all pitted under the yellow, with McMurray benefiting from the free pass, putting himself back on the lead lap. Fifteen cars behind them elected to take the wave around, putting 19 cars on the lead lap for the restart.
     
    Busch checked out on the restart, ahead of Allgaier and Keselowski. Meanwhile, McMurray had to make another climb back through the field and made his way to the bumper of Allgaier on Lap 315 for second. Once past the HScott Motorsports driver, McMurray trailed Busch by more than four seconds.
     
    With 50 laps to go, McMurray trimmed the lead down to less than three seconds, but the yellow flag waved a lap later, saving a number of the front-running teams from making their final planned stop under green.
     
    The race resumed with 42 laps remaining and unchanged at the front. Two quick cautions set up for a 26-lap shootout between Busch, McMurray, Johnson, Harvick and Logano.
     
    Escaping the field quickly, Busch checked out, with the battle on for the runner-up spot. Harvick -- aptly nicknamed the "The Closer" -- made the pass on McMurray on Lap 382 and set sights on his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate for the win.
     
    Harvick chipped away at his deficit, but the reigning champion was no match for Busch, putting a period on a stellar performance by claiming his 26th-career Sprint Cup Series victory and second at Richmond. The 36-year-old led a race-high 291 of the event's 400 laps.

    "Tony Gibson is an amazing crew chief and I'm glad I've got the chance to work with him," Busch said. "We got it done today."
     
    Behind Busch and Harvick, Johnson was third followed by McMurray, Logano, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. to round out the top 10.

    Chase Elliott, who was making just his second career Sprint Cup start, finished in 16th place.

  • Teams seek to overturn Auto Club Speedway rulings

    NASCAR announced Tuesday that the National Motorsports Appeals Panel will hear appeals on April 16 for infractions against Richard Childress Racing's No. 31 team and Circle Sport Racing's No. 33 team.

    NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman and his team were penalized 75 points each, crew chief, Luke Lambert, was fined $125,000 and Lambert and two other crew members were suspended after NASCAR determined the team illegally altered air pressures in its tires during a March 22 event at Auto Club Speedway.
     
    The findings came after an audit of tires taken from four teams following the Auto Club 400 were sent to an outside agency for further evaluation.

    The fine and the suspensions from the P5 penalty were deferred until the appeal so Lambert, team tire technician James Bender and team engineer Philip Surgen will be with the team at Texas Motor Speedway for Saturday's Duck Commander 500 (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX).

    On the No. 33 team, a P4 penalty was assessed for truck trailing arm alterations. Crew chief Slugger Labbe was fined $50,000 and suspended for the next three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship races, plus any non-championship races or special events which might occur during that time period. Labbe was also placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31. In addition, car owner Joe Falk was docked 25 championship car owner points.

    The appeals will be held at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina with the RCR time set for 8:30 a.m

  • Tony Stewart says decision to retire after 2016 Cup season was all his

    Tony Stewart, a passionate racer whose skill and tenacity led him to three Sprint Cup titles, will end an 18-year career of Sprint Cup racing following the 2016 season.

    In announcing his retirement on Wednesday, Stewart said he made the decision not because he is mired in the worst slump of his career. That he broke his leg in 2013 and suffered the emotional toll of his involvement in the death of Kevin Ward Jr., both in sprint car events, were not factors, he said.

    For Stewart, nicknamed "Smoke," it was just time.

    "Deep down, you know when it's time to do something different and make a change like this," Stewart said during a news conference at the Stewart-Haas Racing shop. "It's kind of a bittersweet day.... It's not performance-based, it's just time to do what we're doing."

    Clint Bowyer will replace Stewart as the driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 car in 2017. Stewart will continue to be heavily involved in NASCAR as a car owner and plans to continue to race in other series in a variety of vehicles.

    The 44-year-old Stewart (he'll be 45 when he retires) ranks 13th all-time with 48 career Sprint Cup victories, but has won only once in his last 101 races and currently is on a 69-race winless streak, the longest of his career. He had won in each of his first 15 seasons of Cup competition but has not won since Dover in 2013, a season when he missed the last 15 races with a broken leg.

    He failed to win in 2014, a year when he missed three races after the sprint car he was racing struck and killed the 20-year-old Ward, who had approached Stewart's car on foot after a crash. Stewart has not raced a sprint car since the Aug. 9, 2014, tragedy.

    Stewart was adamant that neither the physical effects of the injury nor the emotional impact of the tragedy played a role in his decision.

    "Zero percent -- not 1 percent of it has anything to do with it," Stewart said. "This is strictly what I want to do. My leg feels fine. There is nothing wrong with my leg. The tragedy, nothing is going to change that. It happened, but it's not going to direct the rest of my life.

    "I'm still going to race when I want to go race."

    While the 1999 IndyCar champion ruled out a return to the Indianapolis 500, he didn't rule out a return to sprint cars, something he has discounted in the past. "Maybe, probably," he said about a return to his first love.

    Stewart not only owns sprint cars, he owns a dirt track -- Eldora Speedway -- that has major sprint car and stock car events. He also owns a sprint car series.

    Those racing ventures already fill up some of Stewart's time, and he can devote more time to racing projects -- and more purely fun events -- after his retirement. He said after many races this year, he had considered retiring after this season but that he saw how much Jeff Gordon's fans enjoyed and embraced coming to races for Gordon's last season and wanted his fans to experience that.

    "It was a choice that was 100 percent mine," said Stewart, whose racing sponsorships run through next year. "There wasn't any pressure from anybody.... There have been more challenges in the last couple of years that have distracted from [my fun racing] a little bit, but it's still fun. If it wasn't fun, I would just walk away from it."

    There might have been some pressure from Bowyer, whose Michael Waltrip Racing team announced in August that it would close after this season. In the first year of a three-year deal, Bowyer all of a sudden found himself without a ride.

    Bowyer, who has eight career wins and was runner-up for the Cup title in 2012, wouldn't talk Wednesday about his 2016 plans. He has a news conference scheduled for Friday, and sources said he'll announce that he will spend 2016 driving for HScott Motorsports.

    "I don't think I got fired; it just went away," Bowyer said with a laugh about how he ended up at SHR. "And somehow you landed in a way better situation. Do you ever hear that term when you fall in a pile of cow manure and come out smelling like roses? That's exactly what this is for me."

    The outgoing and happy-go-lucky Bowyer joins a stable of characters at SHR, which fields cars for Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick.

    "I've known about this for a while and really struggled to put my arms around what I think about it," Harvick, who won a Cup championship for SHR last season, posted on Instagram. "I've seen Tony as my driver, my boss and my friend, but in the end I want to see him smile and be happy in his life."

    The winner of the Indy Racing League title in 1997, Indiana native Stewart began a transition to NASCAR in 1998 as he competed part time in what is now the Xfinity Series. He moved to full-time competition with Joe Gibbs Racing in 1999.

    Stewart won two of his three titles driving for Gibbs, the first in 2002 and another in 2005, the second year of the Chase for the Sprint Cup era. He was given 50 percent ownership in Haas CNC Racing following the 2008 season, and the organization was renamed Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart won four races in his first season as a driver/owner and a title in his third season as a driver/owner. The championship was especially dramatic, as he followed a relatively mediocre regular season with five wins in the 2011 Chase, capped with a victory in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to tie second-place Carl Edwards for the title and winning the championship thanks to having more wins.

    Stewart called that 2011 championship "hands down" his greatest accomplishment. But two major NASCAR wins have eluded Stewart -- the Daytona 500 and the Southern 500 at Darlington.

    "I'm still going to be competitive as a track owner, as a series owner and as a dirt track owner, as well," Stewart said. "That fire is still there, and that's what makes this transition much easier for me is I'm not sitting here trying to figure out what I'm going to do and I'm not trying to find something to be competitive with.

    "It's already there; we've already been doing it. It's just a change in direction on the Cup side."

  • Tussle of champions: Jimmie Johnson outduels Kevin Harvick

    Jimmie Johnson continued his recent domination of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday night, rallying after a late pit stop for a victory in the 19th annual Duck Commander 500.

    Johnson, the six-time NSCS champion, took the lead on Lap 321 of 334 when he drove under and past Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick exiting the dogleg of Texas' high-banked, 1.5-mile quad-oval. The final 14 laps featured a battle between Johnson and Harvick, the reigning series champion, who finished second despite scraping the Turn 4 wall on Lap 331.

    Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Pro Services Chevrolet SS, finished 1.107 seconds ahead of Harvick and his No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS. Johnson, of Hendrick Motorsports, posted his 72nd career victory in 478 NSCS starts.

    "The end of the race was nutty," said Johnson, who said he woke up sick Saturday morning and addressed the media post-race through a scratchy voice. "Those last three pit stops with the varied tire strategies, our car wasn't handling like it did when we were leading. The third one (on Lap 310), our car was really, really good and I was able to work our way forward. The No. 4 was having trouble with the No. 1 (of McMurray) and slid up…and I thought I had it under control. Just a lot of great racing; the (worn-out) surface of this racetrack allows that to happen."

    Johnson scored his fifth win at TMS and third in his last six starts, but his first victory in the spring event. Johnson earned his first win of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a sister 1.5-mile layout to TMS, in the second race on the schedule.

    "I think the tracks with high-wear and bumps…I think the surface fits my style and Chad's style and what we do together," Johnson said in reference to crew chief Chad Knaus.

    "This is a racetrack that falls into Jimmie's liking," said Knaus, still sporting his Victory Circle Stetson. "Do we always race at night (here) in the spring? We've run very, very well here in the spring race so I think it was just circumstances that we hadn't been able to pull it off previously. Nothing specific."

    Johnson pitted with most of the lead pack during the race's eighth and final caution period on Lap 310, when Knaus played it safe with a call for four Goodyear tires. Four drivers—McMurray, Kyle Larson, four-time series champion Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr.—opted for right side tires only. Johnson exited pit road in seventh after Larson was penalized for driving through too many pit boxes.

    Johnson moved into third on Lap 317, behind leader McMurray and Harvick. Johnson completed his charge to the front on Lap 321, with Harvick taking second and Dale Earnhardt Jr. also passing McMurray. Earnhardt moved around Harvick on Lap 326 for second before Harvick returned the favor on Lap 329. Harvick then lost momentum on Lap 331 when he slid and scraped the wall in Turn 4 but still managed to maintain second. By then, Johnson was headed to the white flag.

    Earnhardt, Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, finished third in his No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS. Joey Logano, last year's Texas spring race winner and the reigning Daytona 500 champion, finished fourth in the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion. Brad Keselowski, the 2012 NSCS champion and Logano's Team Penske shopmate, finished fifth in the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford.

    "I had the car I anticipated I would have," said Earnhardt, who scored his 15th top-10 finish in 26 races at TMS. "We made some good adjustments. We seemed to have a good pattern of what was working for us and I think by the end of the race we had our car as good as we had it all night.

    "I like racing here. I think it was a good show. It was raining debris out there for a while and we needed some green-flag runs to get some of the track position back that we were having trouble keeping. Finally the rain shower of debris ended and we were able to finish the race."

    Johnson led on nine occasions for a race-high 128 laps to become the third driver to record wins in the spring and fall races at Texas, joining Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards, both of Joe Gibbs Racing. Harvick, a two-time winner this season for Stewart-Haas Racing, led nine times for 96 laps.

    Harvick's desire to get his first win at TMS in 25 starts was evident on Lap 314, when he nudged the rear bumper of Logano's car and moved him out of the way while battling for third.

    "Yeah, it’s fine," said Harvick. "Like the No. 22, you knock them out of the way and that’s the chance you take when you block." Harvick setted for his 13th top-10 finish in those 25 TMS starts and his seventh top 10 in 2015.

    Logano classified Harvick’s move as "hard racing," then admitted he was blocking. "It's the end of the race. I blocked him and he got into me," Logano said. "I get it. Early in the race that's not acceptable. End of the race, we're racing for the win. I'd do the same thing."

    Harvick exited Texas with a 25-point (306-280) lead over Logano in the points standings, with Truex, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, third and 40 points out of the lead after a ninth-place result.

  • XFINITY Team Penalized For Rules Violation

    The No. 4 team that competes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series has been penalized for a rules infraction committed during a May 16 practice at Iowa Speedway.

    The infraction is a P3 level penalty and violates the following Sections in the 2015 NASCAR rule book:
    12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing
    20.17.2.1: Overall vehicle weight
    B. Any and all ballast added to the vehicle must be bolted inside an added ballast container, inside the main frame rails, and/or inside the front sway bar mounting tube. Weight affixed improperly.

    As a result of this violation, crew chief Gary Cogswell has been fined $15,000 and placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31. Additionally, car chief Charles Kent has been placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31.