Tony Stewart returns to the number 14 this week in Atlanta

Tony Stewart will be back in the number 14 Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Stewart hasn't raced since he was involved in a dirt track incident on August 9th in which a young driver was killed after getting out of his car and walking toward Stewart's car after an accident. Stewart sat out the past three races and dropped from 19th to 26th in the Sprint Cup standings. He can still make the chase by winning at Atlanta Sunday or next week at Richmond. In making the announcement on Stewart's intentions yesterday, Stewart-Haas Racing also said that Stewart will meet the media at AMS on Friday at 1:00pm.

Logano wins at Bristol, becomes fifth 3-time winner

Joey Logano joined the logjam at the top of the Sprint Cup playoff standings with his third win of the season, holding off Brad Keselowski to win the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol on Saturday night. Logano, who is officially fourth in the Sprint Cup points standings, joins Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson as 3-time winners this season. If the Chase began this week, the five would be tied for the lead with 2009 points. Each driver with a win automatically qualifies in the 16-car chase this year. The field will be completed with the top drivers in the standings after 26 races who have not won. Today, that would be Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle. Drivers outside the top 16 in points, but with a win and Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola. Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards have each won twice.

Stewart will miss third straight race

Tony Stewart will miss his third straight Sprint Cup start Saturday night at Bristol. The owner/driver of the number 14 Chevy, Stewart hasn't raced since he was involved in the death of dirt track driver Kevin Ward, Jr. on August 9th. Stewart's team announced yesterday that Jeff Burton will drive Stewart's car for the second straight week. He finished 37th last week at Michigan. Without a win and outside the top twenty five in Sprint Cup points, Stewart would need a win in one of the final three races to qualify for the Chase, but that likelihood is diminishing with each race. In another NASCAR note, Carl Edwards and Joe Gibbs racing have confirmed a long-rumored deal that will bring Edwards to JGR next season. He currently drives the number 99 for Roush-Fenway Racing. Edwards will drive a Toyota, number 19, next season as a fourth car for JGR, joining Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth.

Gordon wins at Michigan, first time in thirteen years

Jeff Gordon passed Joey Logano on the final restart yesterday to win the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. It was Gordon's third win of the season, but his first at the Michigan track in 13 years. Gordon regained the Sprint Cup points lead from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who finished fifth in another strong finish. Logano fell to third in the final restart, behind second place finished Kevin Harvick. Gordon leads the points standings, but would be tied for first with Earnhardt, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson if the Chase for the Championship began this week. Each driver with a win over the first 26 races automatically qualifies for the 16-car chase. Right now there are twelve different winners, leaving four spots open. Should a winless driver capture one of the next three races, that driver would also qualify. Under the new Chase format, the 16-car field would be filled with drivers who have the most points during the first 26 races without a win. Right now that would be Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle. Logano, Harvick, Carl Edwards, the Busch brothers, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola and AJ Almendinger all have at least one win.

Tony Stewart will sit out Michigan race, his second straight

Tony Stewart and Stewart-Ganassi Racing announced yesterday that Stewart will sit out his second straight Sprint Cup race following an incident at small dirt track in New York two Saturdays ago. Kevin Ward, Jr., 20-year old driver who exited his car to confront Stewart, was killed when Stewart's car made contact with him in a dimly lit part of the track with other cars still moving past. Stewart's number 14 Chevrolet will be driven this week by veteran Sprint Cup driver Jeff Burton. Stewart missed the last one third of the Sprint Cup season in 2013 after breaking a leg in a dirt track accident.

Allmendinger wins at Watkins Glen, Ragin in top twenty for second straight week

AJ Almendinger very likely drove himself into NASCAR's chase for the championship yesterday when he held off Marcus Ambrose and Kurt Busch to win the road race at Watkins Glen. Under NASCAR's revised chase format, the top 15 drivers with the most wins over the first 26 races qualifies if those drivers are in the top 30 and attempted to qualify for every race. The remainder of the field of 16 will be determined by points standings among non-winners. Dale Earnhardt, Jr, took over the points lead from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon with his eleventh place finish. Gordon had been dominant over the first 50 laps, leading 29 of those laps, before the electrical system went out on his number 24 Chevrolet. He did get back on the track, but finished 34th. David Ragin of Unadilla had his second straight 19th place finish.

NASCAR hammers Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing with 75-point penalties

NASCAR has handed out it's stiffest penalty of the year after Denny Hamlin's number 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota failed post-race inspection at the Brickyard on Sunday. Hamlin finished third behind Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch to move one position to number eleven in the Sprint Cup standings. But yesterday's 75 driver's points penalty plunged Hamlin all the way to 22nd. Gibbs was also penalized 75 owner points, while crew chief was suspended for the next six races and fined $125,000.

Gordon wins for fifth time at the Brickyard

Jeff Gordon jumped ahead of Hendricks Motor Sports teammate Kasey Kahne on the final re-start with 17 laps remaining in the Walding 400 at the Brickyard to win the event for the fifth time. Kyle Busch finished second, with Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano rounding out the top five. Kahne slipped to sisth, ahead of rookie Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and another rookie, Austin Dillon. With the win, Gordon increased his Sprint Cup points lead to 23 over teammate Earnhardt. Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson round out the top five, the same order in which they began the race. Carl Edwards dropped from sixth to eighth, with Kyle Busch moving up from eighth to sixth with his runnerup finish. Ryan Newman remains in seventh place with Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer rounding out the top ten.

Elliot wins Nationwide series at Chicago

With the Sprint Cup series taking a week off, focus was on the Nationwide series at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday night. Recent high school graduate Chase Elliot held off Trevor Bayne to win for the JR Motorsports team. Elliot, son of Hall-of-Famer driver Bill Elliot, led a race-high 68 laps after starting third. Kyle Larson finished third, followed by Kasey Kahne an Ty Dillon. It was Elliot's third win of the season.

Keselowski dominates NASCAR weekend in Illinois

Jimmie Johnson ran just eleven laps in Sunday's Camping World RV 301 an New Hampshire Motor Speedway in a race dominated by winner Brad Keselowski, who led a race-high 138 laps to move into third place in the Sprint Cup points standings. Keselowski became the first driver to win both weekend races at the New Hampshire track, earning the win in Saturday's Nationwide Series race as well. Kyle Busch also had a strong car Sunday, leadind 62 laps and finishing second to Keselowski. Rookie Kyle Larson drove his Chevy to a third place finish. Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five. Points leader Jeff Gordon finished 26th, but held on to his points lead over teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr, who finished tenth. Unadilla's David Ragan finished 25th. Danica Patrick was 22nd, a spot ahead of last week's winner Aric Almirola in the Petty number 43 Ford. The win yesterday was also the fourth in a row for Ford, something the auto maker hadn't accomplished since 2001.

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