Erik Jones outlasts his teammate to score the pole in the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 from Kentucky Speedway.  Jones had a speed of 187.207 mph. This is his eighth pole of the season. Joe Gibbs racing has swept the front row for all 1.5-mile speedways this season.

 

The first round began with a track that had been sitting under the Kentucky sun all day. When the green flag for the session flew, not many drivers were not in any hurry to get on track. Turns three and four were washed down after last night’s ARCA race. There were no major incidents in the first round. Suarez was the fastest in the opening round at a speed of 186.580 mph, E. Jones was second fastest at 185.103 mph, Darrell Wallace Jr. was third fastest at 183.107 mph, Ty Dillon was fourth fastest at 182.630 mph, and JJ Yeley rounded out the top-five at a speed of 182.494 mph. All 12 drivers of the chase advanced to the second round. Timmy Hill will be the lone driver who does not qualify.

 

 

Unlike the first round, the second round of qualifying began with a plethora of cars going onto the track. The second round went without incident. E. Jones was at the top of the board with a speed of 186.761 mph, Suarez was second with a speed of 186.625 mph, Ryan  Blaney was third with a speed of 185.707 mph, Hornish Jr. was fourth with a speed of 185.065 mph, and T. Dillon rounded out the top-five with a speed of 184.565 mph. Chase drivers who did not advance to the final round were Brandon Jones who will start 14th, Blake Koch who will start 15th, Ryan Reed who will start 16th, and Ryan Sieg who will start 19th.

 

The third and final round saw cars strive to hit the track. The third and final round concluded a qualifying session that went without incident. E. Jones was the fastest. Suarez will start second with a speed of 186.425 mph, Elliott Sadler will start third with a  speed of 185.829 mph, T. Dillon will start fourth with a speed of 185.561 mph, and Hornish Jr. rounded out the top-five with a speed of 185.420 mph. Brennan Poole, who will start in the 11th position, was the slowest of the chase drivers with a speed of 183.867 mph.

 

The VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 will begin at 7:30PM EST on Performance Racing Network. NBCSN will go on the air beginning at 8:00PM EST.

Carl Edwards will start from the pole position in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday evening with a time of 14.602 seconds, equalling the previous track record. This is Edwards’ 21st pole in his career. This is also his fourth time at Bristol to start from the pole.

 "We didn’t make a mock run. That tells you how great of teammates I have. They’re so fast and they helped us a lot, so we’ll start where we started earlier this year. Hopefully we can put STANLEY in victory lane, but this is going to be a heck of a race. Those are fast laps. That’s a lot of fun. Just proud of my guys – they worked really hard. We rolled the dice and it was fast," said Edwards post-qualifying. 

The first round of qualifying started under partly cloudy conditions. After spinning earlier in practice off turn four, Greg Biffle spun off of turn two during this round of qualifying. NASCAR allowed for Biffle’s team to change their flat spotted tires because they were not on a competitive lap at the time of the spin. Denny Hamlin set a new track record at 14.573 seconds around the half-mile concrete oval. Clint Bowyer also spun trying to hit the throttle early to improve on his time from earlier in the session. At the end of the session, Hamlin was fastest at a speed of 131.668 mph, Kyle Busch was second at 131.003 mph, Joey Logano was third at 130.221 mph, Matt Kenseth was fourth at 130.168 mph, and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-five at a speed of 130.123 mph. The top-26 in this opening round posted times of under 14 seconds around the track. No drivers were sent home. Some notable drivers did not advance to the second round including Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (p25), Tony Stewart (p27), Jamie McMurray (p28), Bowyer (p31), and Biffle (p34).

 

At the beginning of the second round, shade was creeping onto the concrete oval. Hamlin was the fastest in this round with a speed of 130.295 mph, Kenseth was second at 130.300 mph, Martin Truex Jr. crept into the top five in the third position at 130.247 mph, Blaney was fourth at 129.842 mph, and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five at 129.833 mph. Some notable drivers who did not advance to the third round were Austin Dillon (p13), Kurt Busch, (p14), Jimmie Johnson (p16), and Kevin Harvick (p24). Chris Buescher, who is trying to make the chase, qualified 12th in this round to advance to the final round. 

 

The third round of qualifying saw shade increase. The session started out with Chris Buescher being the first car on track. However, Edwards ended up on top at a speed of 131.407 mph, Hamlin will start second at a speed of 131.200 mph, Ky. Busch was third at a speed of 130.931 mph, Blaney was fourth at a speed of 130.637 mph, and Kenseth rounded out the top five at a speed of 130.619 mph. 

 

The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race will be on NBCSN beginning at 7:30 pm eastern on NBCSN. Performance Racing Network will have the radio broadcast beginning at 7 pm eastern. 

 

 

In a media availability on Friday with Truex and Garone, the idea of a second car was hinted by Joe Garone, general manager of Furniture Row.. “It’s certainly a part of it for the growth of the team. It’s been over this journey we started off and Barney (Visser, team owner), his company has funded our car all along and are still there, but Bass Pro Shops really coming onboard this last year has really opened up a door for other sponsorships. And, it’s kind of settled us to where we feel we’re getting strong enough to support a second effort and it’s no secret we’ve been working on that and we’ll see where that takes us. If we can get it all pulled together it will be ’17. Yep.”

 

However, after weeks of speculation and a preliminary report by Motorsport.com, Furniture Row Racing made it official Sunday before the Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen that Erik Jones will move from NASCAR Xfinity Series competition to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition in 2017 to field a second car for Furniture Row, alongside Martin Truex Jr., who re-signed this week with a two-year contract extension. 5-hour ENERGY will be the primary sponsor for the new no. 77 Toyota, leaving their current sponsorship of Clint Bowyer, driver of the no. 15 HScott Motorsports Chevrolet. 

 

Barney Visser, owner of Furniture Row Racing, explains how quickly this deal came together. "We're very excited to have all the components of a second race team pulled together here.  It's all come together in the last month.To find a driver like Erik, a sponsor like 5-Hour ENERGY, along with our technical agreement with Gibbs, we think we're going to be able to run right up where we need to run.  We're very excited to get it all pulled together here.”

 

Rise Meguiar, vice president of Living Essentials, was also in attendance in today’s press conference. “They came to us and presented the program for Erik.  I've been watching Erik and seen his talent in both series.  We have watched what Furniture Row has done with the car that they have.  We just felt that it was going to be a good place for us to be.  It was just a really good fit.”

 

"It's hard to say I'm not excited but anxious at the same time, anxious for this day, and excited to be here.  It's pretty cool for me to be partnered up with Furniture Row and be part of them growing and part of 5-Hour, too.  To have such a big company like that be partnered with me is pretty cool this early in my racing career and something I've always wanted,” said Jones of his new partnership with Furniture Row and 5-hour ENERGY. 

 

Toyota Racing Development is pumped to have a new team in Sprint Cup Series competition. "I think Erik ascending to the Cup level, for Toyota, this is the first time a Toyota driver has grown from the grassroots ranks all the way through NASCAR's national series.  I think it's a great story for Toyota, but probably a greater story for NASCAR and the future of our sport,” said David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development USA.

 

Furniture Row Racing will be seeking charter status for the no.77 entry in 2017. "There's several charters out there that we're hearing are available.  We've been looking at it some.  We're not exactly sure where we're going to be on that.  We are going to get a charter, but we're not sure who we're going to get it from yet,” said Visser. 

 

Adding a second team, according to Garone, will not affect day-to-day operations because the team has already begun modifying the shop in Denver, Colorado to accommodate two cars.

 

Visser and Furniture Row hope the one-year deal with Jones will turn into many more to come.

 

5-Hour ENERGY will also be proudly displayed for two races on Martin Truex Jr.’s car, which includes the NASCAR All-Star Race in 2017. 

 

Jones is the reigning NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion. He currently holds the top seed in the Xfinity Chase with three wins. He has clinched 11 top-five finishes in 2016. He also has six poles under his belt in 2016. With an average start of 2.7, Jones has an average finish of 11.4. Jones has a couple NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts under his belt from 2017, filling in for Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth in 2015. Jones also filled in for Denny Hamlin in Sprint Cup competition during the Food City 500 in support of Steve Byrnes and Stand Up to Cancer at Bristol Motor Speedway in early 2016. 

 

With a one car operation, Furniture Row has clinched a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup in three of the last four years. In 2016, the team has one win, three top-five’s, three poles, an average start of 9.6, and an average finish of 13.4.

As NASCAR hits the twist and turns of Watkins Glen International, Carl Edwards is confident in the direction that Toyota is going.

2015 marked Edwards’ first season with Joe Gibbs Racing, and the first time since coming into the Cup Series in 2004, he wasn’t driving a Ford. Through the struggles of 2015, it made the No. 19 team stronger.

This season, Edwards says his confidence is at an all-time high. Arguably, he will have to beat his JGR teammates for the championship as Toyota has won 10 of the 21 races. For the No. 19 team, it’s all about maintaining momentum going into the Chase.

“Right now, we’re just gearing up for the Chase and making sure that we are ready for those final 10 races,” Edwards told Speedway Digest. “That’s what we’re here to do. I feel like I’ve got the best team and the best shot of winning a championship that I’ve ever had and I just want to make the most of it.”

Through the first 21 races this season, Edwards has two wins, coming at Bristol and at Richmond, where he moved his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and reigning Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch out of the way on Turn 4 of the final lap. The No. 19 car has 13 top-10 finishes this season, two shy of his 2015 total and one fewer than his total from his final year with Roush Fenway Racing in 2014.  

In his second year at Joe Gibbs Racing, getting used to the system that Joe Gibbs has implemented within JGR has been an adjustment for Edwards. This season, he is working with veteran crew chief Dave Rogers, who replaced Darian Grubb atop the pit box. Since the pairing was announced over the offseason, his confidence level has skyrocketed.  

“Everyone is different,” Edwards said on the differences between Rogers and Grubb. “Dave and I communicate the same way. Dave and I were joking that we don’t get along with everybody, but we get along with each other really well. I think that’ the best way to put it. The communication is effortless and I think that’s just the way sometimes it works out for people.”

Over the last five seasons of competition, Edwards has worked with five different crew chiefs. Bob Osborne was a guy who he had worked with for nine years, and the guy that might be most similar to Rogers.

Edwards wants Rogers to be the last crew chief of his Cup Series career. In year one, the duo sits fifth in the standings, eight points behind Busch. They both credit each other’s success on one another. Based on the way last year finished and this year has gone, the duo is confident heading into the Chase.

“I was new to the system and I was trying to prove myself,” Edwards said of 2015. “It was tough. I thought last year everybody pulled together really well, and we almost had a shot at the championship. I’m really proud of everyone’s performance. Looking back on it, it was really spectacular what we were able to do.”

Edwards’ No. 19 team finished fifth in the standings last year, satisfying the organization in his first year with the crew.

Self-admittedly, Edwards had a lot to learn coming over to a new organization last season. The Missouri native had new primary sponsors in ARRIS and Stanley, after working with Aflac and Fastenal for the majority of his Cup Series career. He is known as being a marketable guy, always thanking the sponsors, so working with new ones was a transition.

 He had new faces to learn after being at Roush Fenway Racing for 12 seasons. But a key variable was working with Matt Kenseth, someone that he knew well from RFR.

“I think Matt has really been the person that I’ve leaned on the most,” Edwards said. “He really facilitated all of the initial talks when I first signed up. He was in charge of the initial meetings. We had lunch last together week and he’s just someone that always tells me what he thinks and he’s helped me a lot.”

With five races remaining before the Chase begins at Chicagoland Speedway, Edwards believes his team is where it needs to be. The 36-year-old believes that the field will need to go through JGR to win the championship.

“I would like to win a couple of these races,” Edwards said of his goals before the Chase begins. “Our main goal is to be prepared for the Chase. I’ve won plenty of races, now I want to win a championship. That’s our mission.”

Leading up to the Chase, Edwards has won on four of the five tracks. He is the defending winner of the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, and most recently, he won the aforementioned races at Bristol and Richmond this year. At Michigan, he has two victories, with the last one coming in 2008.

A victory between now and Chicago would give Edwards three extra bonus points for the first round of the Chase. With 12 winners this season thus far, every point is critical as last year, Busch’s four victories prior to the Chase edged him into the second round of the Chase by a few points.

 “If the fans like it, it’s good,” Edwards said. “It is difficult to pace yourself and to figure out when to give your best effort. This is the point of the season where what happens right now doesn’t really affect the outcome of the season, but you still put all of this pressure on yourself and so it’s a balance of going racing every week and preparing for the Chase.” 

While Toyota has ruled the sport this season, Edwards has remained one of the most consistent drivers at JGR. This season, he has outperformed Kenseth and Denny Hamlin, who has yet to win since the Daytona 500.

The JGR alliance with Furniture Row Racing seems to be beneficial throughout the Toyota camp, as Martin Truex, Jr. has led 1005 laps this season, the most of all drivers in the series. Edwards feels as though he is in the right position and that his No. 19 team is the best team in the garage.

Kyle Busch dominates the Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for his third straight win of 2016. Justin Allgaier pulled a maneuver on Elliott Sadler in the first turn of the last lap to win the $100,000 Dash4Cash bonus. Kevin Harvick finished second followed by Paul Menard, Kyle Larson, and Allgaier rounded out the top-five. Busch holds off two late race restarts on older tires to clinch his sixth victory of 2016.

 

“Man, these guys are so good, but you’ve got to drive the car to make it happen too, so I give the driver a little bit of credit, but overall, man, just a great day. Joe Gibbs Racing obviously does a great job for me – Toyota, TRD (Toyota Racing Development), Joe Gibbs Racing Engines – and it’s fun to run here and get some more experience for tomorrow. I feel like this car’s really helped me in the last few years at being excel here at the Brickyard and I’m looking forward to what we’ve got for them tomorrow,” said Kyle Busch in a post race interview in victory lane.

 

 Busch also dominated his first heat. Larson finished second followed by Joey Logano in third, Daniel Suarez in fourth, and Elliott Sadler in fifth.  This heat went caution free.

 

Erik Jones dominated the second heat. Harvick finished second, Allgaier finished third, Paul Menard finished fourth, and Brennan Poole finished in fifth. The heat went caution free.

 

The main event saw three lead changes among two different drivers. Busch led 62 laps and Brendan Gaughan led one lap under green flag pit stops. The caution flag flew twice for a total of 10 laps. The first caution was for a spin by Erik Jones, and the second caution was brought out by an accident between Harrison Rhodes and Ray Black Jr. The average speed of the race was 136.298 mph. The time of the race was 1 hour, 9 minutes, and 20 seconds. The margin of victory was 0.411 seconds.

 

Allgaier was able to hold off Sadler, Jones, and Daniel Suarez to win the Dash4Cash bonus. Jones was the suspected winner of the bonus, but contact with the wall resulted in tire failure causing Jones to spin. Suarez assumed the lead in the race for the bonus, but a late race restart led to his demise giving Sadler the lead. Sadler lost the lead to Allgaier assumed the lead by passing Sadler in turn one on the last lap to clinch his first Dash4Cash Bonus in 2016.

 

“Just a solid weekend for us. We had speed right off the truck. They (the team) just pushed me through to the end of the race and put us in a good position. God parted the seas for us with the 19 (Suarez) and 20 (E. Jones) having their bad luck, I was able to bail it out,” said Allgaier of his victory.

 

Daniel Suarez maintains a 14-point lead over Elliott Sadler followed by Ty Dillon (-50), Justin Allgaier (-66), and Erik Jones (-69). The chase grid remains the same after today’s event. Jones holds the top seed with three wins and Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez hold the second and third seed with one win each.

 

The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to Iowa Speedway for the US Cellular 250 on Saturday night. NBCSN and Motor Racing Network will have all the action from Iowa Speedway.