Tag Archives: Coors Light Pole Award

2016 NASCAR Sprint Unlimited Driver Breakdown, Yes it’s confusing

The NASCAR Offseason is over. OK, not quite over but there will be some NASCAR racing beginning with the Sprint Unlimited exhibition race. Here are the drivers who will be entered into the race trying to get a head start on their week in Daytona and perhaps a jump on a great Daytona 500.

This year’s race will consist of two segments, 25 and 50 laps, with a competition caution coming after Lap 25.

The Sprint Unlimited consists of those drivers who have won a Coors Light Pole Award the previous season plus former Daytona 500 pole winners. Drivers who entered at least one race last year and have also won a previous Sprint Unlimited can also enter this race.

2015 Pole Winners:

AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano

Former Sprint Unlimited Winners:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (’03, ’08)
Tony Stewart (’01, ’02, ‘07)

Former Daytona 500 Pole Winners:

Austin Dillon (‘14)
Danica Patrick (’13)
Martin Truex Jr. (’09)
David Gilliland (‘07)
Greg Biffle (’04)

2014 Chase Contenders (Not Already Qualified for the Race)

Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman

In the Race via Their 2015 Points:

The Sprint Unlimited field is limited to 25 drivers. If for some reason the 25 driver field has not been filled with Pole Winners, Previous Limited Winners, Daytona 500 Pole Winners or Chase Contenders the rest of the field is filed by driver points.  This is where the rest of the entry list can get confusing.

There are 23 drivers who are eligible for the 25 driver field. That leaves two spots open for Aric Almirola and Kyle Larson.  Jeff Gordon retired and is not entering the race. That adds Casey Mears to the field on points.

Tony Stewart is injured and will not be entering the race. SHR has appealed to NASCAR that on this late date they had prepared a car and spent much money and effort on it. NASCAR has allowed them to enter the race even though the driver may or may not be otherwise eligible. The candidate for that car is Brian Vickers if he is medically cleared to race and it appears he may have.

If any other driver does not enter the race then the next driver on the bubble would be Ricky Stenhouse Jr. followed by Sam Hornish Jr. and David Ragan who both do not have a ride. Trevor Bayne, who does have a ride, would be next.  At this point in time that driver would be David Gilliland who as of this writing does not have a ride. If he is not in the race then Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would be.

This race has been won by only nine different drivers since 2001. #14-Tony Stewart (07, 02, 01), #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. (08, 03), Dale Jarrett (04), #48-Jimme Johnson (05), #11-Denny Hamlin (14, 06), #4-Kevin Harvick (13, 10, 09), #41-Kurt Busch (11), #18-Kyle Busch (12), and #20-Matt Kenseth (15).

As for the race itself and what to expect it gets much simpler. Those drivers who somehow excel at restrictor plate racing will figure prominently in this race. The odds are very good that one of those nine drivers, who have won this race since 2001, will repeat.

If you cannot get to Daytona International Speedway for the Sprint Unlimited it will be broadcast live on Fox, Saturday February 13th starting at 8 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Feature Photo Credit: 304913 Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images

Kyle Busch Wins the Pole for the Furious 7 300 at Chicagoland Speedway

The NASCAR Xfinity Series is running the Furious 7 300, a companion event with the other three series at Chicagoland Speedway. Kyle Busch will start up front.

It doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who watches the Xfinity Series regularly that Kyle Busch is fast. This is his 46th pole in 305 Xfinity Series starts, his third this year. He has a 12-year streak from 2004 to 2015 of consecutive poles.

Kyle Busch has already won three races this year in this series in spite of missing eleven races due to his injury in the first race at Daytona International Speedway. Eric Jones won the race here in June in this car.

Kyle Busch said, “I’m ready to go back to Chicagoland with the No. 54 team, especially considering their finish there with Erik (Jones) in the spring. JGR has always had good cars there and Chris (Gayle, crew chief) will work hard to dial in our Camry. This Monster Energy No. 54 team can definitely get back to victory lane at Chicago and maybe sweep the year.

It will be an all Joe Gibbs Racing front row as Busch’s teammates Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 and Daniel Suarez in the No. 18 will be starting second and third. Rounding out the top five is Ty Dillon and Ryan Blaney.

If you cannot get to Chicagoland Speedway for the Furious 7 300 it will be broadcast on NBCSN on Saturday September 19th starting at 5:30 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: Brian Berg Jr.

Austin Dillon Wins the Pole for the NASCAR XFINITY Race at Chicagoland Speedway

NASCAR XFINITY Series knock out qualifying was held for Saturday nights Owens Corning AttiCat® 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.

In the First Session Brian Scott in the #2 Jewel-Osco/Kraft Singles Chevrolet ran a very fast lap and almost hit the wall but he held on to make it into the top 24. Joey Gase driving the #52 did find the wall to bring out a red flag for cleanup. Gase will start the race 32nd.

The top 24 was 22, 31, 62, 54, 20, 60, 33, 2, 42, 7, 18, 9, 43, and 28.

In the Second Session Ross Kenseth in the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota, went out earl and posted a very fast lap to let everyone know that even though this is his first XFINITY Series start he has arrived and they should take note. We have as well.

Ryan Blaney in the No. 22 Hertz Penske Ford was a favorite for the pole. He was driving like he was going to get it but hit the wall hard in turn 2. He is going to a backup car and will start the race from the back of the field.

The top 12 moving on to the final round were 20, 1, 33, 62, 3, 60, 79, 43, 54, 18 and 6.

Third Session is only 5 minutes which rarely leaves and time for multiple runs or shots at the pole. This held true today as every car only made one lap.

Ross Kenseth improved his time from the second round and looked like he would carry that through to get the Coors Light Pole Award. Austin Dillon in the No. 33 Rheem Chevy beat him by 12 hundredths of a second. Dillon will lead the field to green.

Elliott Sadler actually tied Ross Kenseth’s time but will start third because the No. 1 One Main Financial Ford is lower in owner points. Daniel Suarez will start the race seventh, he is the fastest qualifying rookie of the year candidate.

The top 12 will be 33, 20, 1, 7, 62, 9, 18, 3, 60, 6, 54 and 43.

If you cannot get to the Chicagoland Speedway for the Owens Corning AttiCat® 300 it will be broadcast live on Saturday June 20th at 9:30 PM ET on Fox Sports 1.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: Brian Berg Jr.

Sprint Unlimited has Been Dominated by Big Team Drivers

This year the NASCAR Offseason seems to be longer than ever. It probably has to do with the fact that there was no preseason thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway. Don’t worry the season is upon us. The NASCAR season begins with the Sprint Unlimited exhibition race.

This year’s race will consist of two segments, 25 and 50 laps, with a competition caution coming after Lap 25.

As for the race itself, there seems to be several different agendas by drivers and teams in this race. Some use it for extra practice to see how they stack up against the competition. Others seem to race but not take any chances if their car isn’t quite right. Regardless of the strategy, the big teams seem to have this race covered and generally win.

This race has been won by only eight different drivers since 2001. #14-Tony Stewart (07, 02, 01), #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. (08, 03), Dale Jarrett (04), #48-Jimme Johnson (05), #11-Denny Hamlin (14, 06), #4-Kevin Harvick (13, 10, 09), #41-Kurt Busch (11), and #18-Kyle Busch (12).

The Sprint Unlimited consists of those drivers who have won a Coors Light Pole Award the previous season plus former Daytona 500 pole winners. Drivers who entered at least one race last year and have also won a previous Sprint Unlimited can also enter this race.

In December NASCAR expanded the field to 25 drivers adding in all sixteen 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders. If there is still not a full 25 car field then those highest in driver points from 2014 that are not otherwise eligible for the race can enter. Here is the entry list of eligible drivers.

2014 Pole Winners:
Austin Dillon (Daytona)
Brad Keselowski (Phoenix)
Joey Logano (Las Vegas)
Denny Hamlin (Bristol)
Matt Kenseth (Auto Club)
Kyle Busch (Martinsville)
Tony Stewart (Texas)
Kevin Harvick (Darlington)
Brian Scott (Talladega)
Jimmie Johnson (Charlotte)
Jamie McMurray (Sonoma)
David Gilliland (Daytona)
Kyle Larson (Pocono)
Jeff Gordon (Watkins Glen)
Brian Vickers (Talladega)

Former Daytona 500 Pole Winners:
Danica Patrick (’13)
Carl Edwards (’12)
Martin Truex Jr. (’09)
Greg Biffle (’04)

Former Sprint Unlimited Winners:
Kurt Busch (2011)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (’03, ’08)

2014 Chase Contenders (Not Already Qualified for the Race)
AJ Allmendinger
Aric Almirola
Kasey Kahne
Ryan Newman

Pole winner Brian Scott is not entering the race and Brian Vickers is out due to health concerns. AJ Allmendinger and David Gilliland will also miss the race due to lack of sponsorship. This has opened up the field to four more drivers based on points from last season, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard, Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears. Marcos Ambrose is no longer racing in NASCAR leaving Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as the last driver to enter the field.

If you cannot get to Daytona International Speedway for the Sprint Unlimited it will be broadcast live on Fox, Saturday February 14th starting at 8 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Feature Photo Credit: 294756 Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images

Shame on the NASCAR Teams for Gaming Qualifying

Qualifying for the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway was always going to be different. NASCAR announced well over a month ago that during the first round of qualifying the cars would be split into two separate groups with 12 cars moving on from each to the second round. Some teams overthought their strategy such that two higher level full time teams did not qualify and will therefore miss the race.

In the first group of the first round of qualifying, the drivers waited most of the round to go out and make their laps. The thought was that the first cars out did not have a chance of posting a fast lap as the cars behind would get the benefit of the draft and post a much faster time. As they say, it looks good on paper.

Denny Hamlin didn’t buy into it and went out by himself. He posted a slow lap but eventually got some benefit of the draft in order to improve but still paid the price for going it alone and was the slowest of that group.

In the second group of the first round of qualifying, Tony Stewart and Reed Sorensen did exactly what Denny Hamlin did in the first group. They went out alone and also paid the price by posting the slowest laps of the cars that were up to speed. The rest of the drivers did exactly the same as the first group, except they waited too long. Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Larson, Justin Allgaier and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. did not make it to the line in time to take the flag on their up to speed lap. The official time for those drivers was that taken during a warm up lap.

So what exactly happened? There are six spots in the field reserved for those cars highest in owners points that have not qualified for the race on their speed (time). The 43rd and final spot is reserved for the most current champion that has not qualified for the race on their speed (time).  With so many great cars not posting a competitive time and so many cars that needed to make the race actually posting a time there was in a sense “No room at the Inn”. Justin Allgaier, 29th in points; and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 27th in points, were out.

Jeff Gordon will start last as he was the slowest of the drivers who are in the race by owner points. Although it would look like he used his past champion provisional, he did not need it since it was his spot if he didn’t use it.

In the end Reed Sorenson was the last to make it into the field on time since Joe Nemecheck was disqualified due to unapproved openings around the oil tank. Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, and Kevin Harvick—the drivers who were the slowest of those who actually took full speed laps—took the first three provisionals. Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, and Jeff Gordon took the last four provisionals.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier, and Joe Nemecheck will miss the race.

Shame on these teams “gaming” the system in order to get an edge in qualifying. We as fans wanted to see cars running around the track nose to tail trying to get a fast speed to make the race. Instead we saw cars sitting on pit road waiting for the last two minutes then going on the track. It was stupid and looked even more so.

The silly part is if it takes about two minutes to get up to speed and make a fast lap why wait for the last two minutes? If all the drivers had gone right at the beginning and run nose to tail only the truly slow cars would have gone home.

Oh and by the way, Brian Vickers won the Coors Light Pole Award—not that qualifying at a superspeedway is important; unless of course you don’t.

If you cannot get to Talladega Superspeedway for the GEICO 500 it will be broadcast live on ESPN on Sunday, October 19th 2014 starting at 1 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 302428 Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images

Pos Car Driver Team Speed
1 55 Brian Vickers Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota 196.129
2 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s Chevrolet 195.732
3 47 AJ Allmendinger Scott Products Chevrolet 195.496
4 12 Ryan Blaney(i) SKF Ford 194.015
5 2 Brad Keselowski Redd’s Wicked Apple Ale Ford 194.007
6 95 Michael McDowell Jordan Truck Sales Ford 193.693
7 33 Travis Kvapil Little Joe’s Autos Chevrolet 193.603
8 5 Kasey Kahne Farmer’s Insurance Chevrolet 193.498
9 32 Terry Labonte C&J Energy Services Ford 193.431
10 7 Michael Annett # Golden Corral Chevrolet 193.162
11 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet 191.302
12 78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Chevrolet 190.981
13 20 Matt Kenseth Home Depot Toyota 193.415
14 23 Alex Bowman # Dustless Blasting Toyota 193.376
15 99 Carl Edwards Subway Ford 193.291
16 21 Trevor Bayne(i) Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 192.401
17 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 192.278
18 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet 192.096
19 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 191.908
20 27 Paul Menard Moen/Menards Chevrolet 191.773
21 38 David Gilliland Long John Silver’s Ford 190.985
22 26 Cole Whitt # Bad Boy Mowers Toyota 190.97
23 49 Mike Wallace(i) Royal Teak Collection Toyota 184.729
24 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 191.577
25 34 David Ragan Dockside Logistics Ford 191.42
26 9 Marcos Ambrose Black & Decker Ford 191.214
27 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet 191.149
28 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet 191.134
29 40 Landon Cassill(i) Carsforsale.com Chevrolet 191.13
30 3 Austin Dillon # Dow Chevrolet 191.027
31 1 Jamie McMurray Cessna Chevrolet 190.818
32 83 JJ Yeley(i) Burger King/Dr Pepper Toyota 190.689
33 15 Clint Bowyer PinkLemonade5HrEnergybnftLBBC Toyota 190.681
34 66 Michael Waltrip MyAFibStory.com Toyota 190.586
35 98 Josh Wise Dogecoin/Reddit.com Ford 190.507
36 36 Reed Sorenson Zing Zang Chevrolet 189.305
37 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
38 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx One Rate/Deliverminator Toyota
39 4 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet
40 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford
41 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Halloween Toyota
42 42 Kyle Larson # Energizer Chevrolet
43 24 Jeff Gordon Axalta Chevrolet
DNQ 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
DNQ 51 Justin Allgaier #
DNQ 29 Joe Nemechek(i).