Sprint will end NASCAR title sponsorship after 2016 season

Sprint will not extend its title sponsorship with NASCAR past the end of the current contract, which runs though the 2016 season. Sprint has been the entitlement sponsor for NASCAR's top series since 2004, when Nextel signed a 10-year deal for the Nextel Cup, which was changed to Sprint Cup in 2008 after a corporate merger between Nextel and Sprint. Sprint signed a 3-year extension through 2016. The announcement was made early by Sprint in order to give NASCAR two years to find a replacement. Sprint was the third entitlement sponsor for NASCAR since 1971. RJ Reynolds was the sponsor for 31 years through its Winston brand. ESPN, one of NASCAR's broadcast partners, first reported the story on Sprint's decision yesterday.

NASCAR fines Stenhouse crew chief

The Sprint Cup season is over, but NASCAR hasn't stopped working. Yesterday, racing's governing body announced that crew chief Mike Kelley has been fined $50,000 for a rules infraction discovered on Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s car last weekend during pre-race inspectins at Homestead. Kelley was also placed on probation for six months. Besides Kelley, car chief Patrick Magee was also placed on probation. Stenhouse was not penalized for the infraction, which had to do with the suspension mounts on the Roush Racing number 17 Ford.

Harvick holds off Newman, wins Sprint Cup championship

Kevin Harvick held off Ryan Newman in a battle between to Chase qualifiers, and won the Sprint Cup championship. All four finalists ran well all day, and all were in position to challenge for the championship. But Harvick's car was just too strong for the others to beat. Denny Hamlin finished 7th and Joey Logano, with some late-race problems, came in 16th. Brad Keselowski finished third yesterday to edge Jeff Gordon for fifth place in the final standings. Unadilla's David Ragan was 30th in the final race of the season. Danica Patrick, who started 32nd, had finished 18th. After Saturday's Nationwide race, 18-year old Chase Elliot was presented the championship trophy in post-race ceremonies. Kyle Larson finished 87 points ahead of Austin Dillon in the Rookie standings.

Harvick wins at Phoenix, Sprint Cup shootout set for Homestead

Kevin Harvick had to win at Phoenix yesterday to make the final for in the Sprint Cup championship. He could not move into the top four on points. Harvick, in his first year driving the Stewart-Haas number four Chevrolet, dominated the race , leading 264 of the 312 laps to earn a spot in next week's championship showdown at Homestead. Harvick held off Jeff Gordon, who began the day in fourth place, but trailing Ryan Newman by twelve points. With Harvick coming out of the pack to win the race, that dropped Gordon to fifth, behind Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Newman and Joey Logano. The championship shootout Sunday will produce a first-time Sprint Cup champion, since neither of the top four has won a title. Besides Gordon, three other drivers were eliminated, including Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards. Kenseth and Edwards began the day just a point behind Gordon for fourth place, but both needed a win to claim a playoff spot.

Tempers flare in Texas, Johnson wins NASCAR event

With one race remaining in NASCAR's elimination round, things are likely to get interesting next week at Pheonix, where tempers are likely to flare even more than they did at the conclusion of yesterday's AAA Texas 500 where Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon got together late in the race, sending Gordon spinning and to the pits with a flat tire. The two, along with Jimmie Johnson and Chase contender Kevin Harvick were battling for the lead at the time. Johnson went on to win the race, just holding off Harvick. After the race, Gordon and Keselowski got into an argument and punches were thrown by crew members form both teams, along with the two drivers. NASCAR hasn't said whether there will be penalties issued. After yesterday's race, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin share the points lead, two points ahead of Ryan Newman, twelve ahead of Gordon, with Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards just a point behind Gordon for the fourth championship position with a race to go. Keselowski is seventh, 17 points back, and Harvick holds down the final spot, 18 points behind. A chase driver who wins an Elimination race automatically qualifies, but both races so far have been won by non-qualifiers Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Johnson. In none of the eight win next week at Pheonix, points will decide the final four.

Dale, Jr. wins at Martinsville, Gordon has points lead

A week after being eliminated in the Sprint Cup chase, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. held off Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon to win the Goody's 500 at Martinsville. The one-two Hendrick finish came on the tenth anniversary of the death of ten Hendrick team members, including Rick Hendrick's son and brother, as their plane crashed as it neared the Martinsville track. In yesterday's race, Gordon took the points lead among the eight remaining Chase candidates. Ryan Newman, who finished third yesterday, is second. Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth came in fifth and sixth, and are third and fourth in the standings. The field will be cut to four after two more races. Denny Hamlin, who finished eighth at Martinsville, is in fifth place, just seven points back of Gordon. Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick have some catching-up to do. Edwards was 20th, Keselowski 31st and Harvick 33rd in yesterday's race. Unadilla's David Ragan had his first top ten finish of the season.

Keselowski wins at Talladega as field is cut to eight

Brad Keselowski saved his season, at least for three more races, by winning Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Talladega. Too far back to make the top eight in points, along with Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Keselowski held off Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman to move on to the Elimination round over the next three races at Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix. The eight drivers who will enter Sunday's race at Martinsville tied at 4000 points include Keselowski, Joey Logano, Harvick, Newman, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon. Four of those drivers will be eliminated after the Phoenix race, with the remaining four going head-to-head at Homestead for the Sprint Cup championship.

David Ragan to appear at dealership in Perry for fan day on Thursday

NASCAR DRIVER DAVID RAGAN AND TEAMMATE DAVID GILLILAND AND OTHERS WILL BE IN PERRY TOMORROW WITH MEMBERS OF THE RAGAN FAN CLUB AS THE DRIVERS PREPARE FOR THE TALLADEGA RACE IN ALABAMA THIS WEEK END. THE GET TOGETHER WILL BE HELD BETWEEN 3:00pm AND 6:30pm AT THE DAVID RAGAN FORD DEALERSHIP IN PERRY. RAGAN HAS A WIN AT TALLADEGA, THE SPRING RACE IN 2013.

Harvick wins GEICO 500 at Charlotte

Two NASCAR drivers are assured a spot in Sprint Cup's Elimination round after Kevin Harvick won Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Contender round. Joey Logano, last week's winner, is also in the Elimination round. The field of 12 drivers will be cut to eight after Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega. The bottom four with a race to go are Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, who are both 26 points back of number eight Kasey Kahne, a Hendrick MotorSports teammate. Matt Kenseth is ninth, just a point behind Kahne and Brad Keselowski is in tenth, 19 points out of the top eight. When the field is cut to eight on Sunday night, those eight compete over the next three races, called the Elimination round, which will decide which four drivers compete November 16th at Homestead in the Championship round.

Logano wins at Kansas, wins spot in next round

Joey Logano became the first Sprint Cup driver assured of a spot in NASCAR's eliminator round. Logano won the first of the 3-race Contender round yesterday by holding off rookie Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch to win the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. Race winners in each of the Contender round races automatically advance to the next round, called the Eliminator round. Four drivers will be eliminated after the October 19th race at Talladega. Next week, drivers converge on Charlotte Motor Speeedway for the GEICO 500. Five of yesterday's top ten finishers are not contenders for the Sprint Cup title, Larson, Martin Truex, Jr (4th), Austin Dillon, Paul Menard and Brian Vickers, who finished 8-9-10 yesterday. It was not a good day for Hendrick Motorsports. Jeff Gordon finished 14th and dropped to eighth in points. Kasey Kahne dropped to ninth after finishing 22nd, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jimmie Johnson dropped under the cut line at eleven and 12. Junior came in 39th yesterday, Johnson was 40th. Unadilla's David Ragan had a top thirty finish, at number 27, while Danica Patrick was 16th.

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