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The 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was the 68th season of professional stock car racing in the United States and the 45th modern-era Cup series season. The season began at Road America with the Harley-Davidson 250, followed by the Sprint Unlimited, the Can-Am Duel, and the Daytona 500. The season was scheduled to end with the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but due to severe weather delays, the season finale ended with the Hellmann's 500 at Talladega Superspeedway instead. Tony Stewart won his fifth championship, his third as an owner-driver; Stewart also become third in all-time champions, behind Jimmie Johnson with six, and Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt with seven. Chevrolet won the manufacturer's championship. In one of the most heated rookie battles in recent memory, Chase Elliott narrowly beat Macy Waltrip for Rookie of the Year.

The season also marked the second season of a new television contract. During the season, races were broadcast in the United States by Fox Sports, NBC Sports, and WBC Sports.

The season marked the final season for Brian Scott, Josh Wise and Tommy Baldwin Racing. Rumors that Tony Stewart would retire at the conclusion of 2016 were quashed by Stewart himself, who said he's happy about how he's been running lately, is loving the Strictly Stock Car, and will probably race into his 60s. In addition, rumors that Carl Edwards would retire were quashed by Edwards, who also said that he is loving the SSC.

The season also saw the addition of a newly-built track in Kanto on the Japanese Home Islands: Tokyo Superspeedway.

The season also marked the final season with Johnson-owned Sprint as the series sponsor as Panasonic took over the title sponsorship starting in 2017. It was also the first season in which BMW and Nissan fielded cars, and the first season Buick fielded a model in since 1991.

Teams and drivers

Complete schedule

Chevrolet

  • Hendrick Motorsports (Camaro)
    • 5 Kasey Kahne
    • 24 Chase Elliott (R)
    • 48 Jimmie Johnson
    • 88 Alex Bowman
  • JTG Daugherty Racing (Impala)
    • 47 AJ Allmendinger
    • 59 Bobby Labonte
  • Richard Childress Racing (Camaro)
    • 3 Austin Dillon
    • 27 Paul Menard
    • 31 Ryan Newman
    • 33 Ty Dillon, Brian Scott
  • Stewart-Haas Racing (Camaro)
    • 4 Kevin Harvick
    • 10 Danica Patrick
    • 14 Tony Stewart
    • 41 Kurt Busch
  • Dale Earnhardt Inc. (Camaro)
    • 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, DJ Kennington
    • 15 Macy Waltrip (R)

Ford

  • Front Row Motorsports (Mustang)
    • 34 Chris Buescher (R)
    • 38 Landon Cassill
  • Go Fas Racing (Fusion)
    • 32 Jeffrey Earnhardt (R), Joey Gase, Jeb Burton, Patrick Carpentier, Eddie MacDonald, Boris Said, Dylan Lupton
  • Roush Fenway Racing (Roush Mustang)
    • 6 Trevor Bayne
    • 16 Greg Biffle
    • 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  • Wood Brothers Racing (Shelby GT500)
    • 21 Ryan Blaney
  • Red Tiger Motorsports (Fusion)
    • 170 Tracy Johnson (R)

Toyota (Only Fields Camry)

  • BK Racing (Gen-6 Camry)
    • 23 David Ragan
    • 26 Robert Richardson Jr. (R)
    • 83 Michael Waltrip, Matt DiBenedetto, Dylan Lupton, Jeffrey Earnhardt (R)
    • 93 Matt DiBenedetto, Amber Lucky (R)
  • Joe Gibbs Racing
    • 11 Denny Hamlin
    • 18 Kyle Busch
    • 19 Carl Edwards
    • 20 Matt Kenseth
    • 81 Daniel Suarez (R)
  • Tommy Baldwin Racing
    • 7 Regan Smith

Dodge

  • Team Penske (Charger)
    • 2 Brad Keselowski
    • 22 Joey Logano
  • Richard Petty Motorsports (Challenger)
    • 43 Aric Almirola
    • 44 Brian Scott (R)
  • Evernham Motorsports (Charger)
    • 09 Ty Dillon
  • Chip Ganassi Racing  (Challenger)
    • 1 Jamie McMurray
    • 39 Bryan Clauson
    • 42 Kyle Larson

Honda

  • Orange County Racing (Accord)
    • 86 Jed Thomas (R)
    • 90 Luke George (R)
  • Doug Yates Racing (Civic Type R)
    • 28 Elliott Sadler
  • Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing (Accord)
    • 95 Michael McDowell, Red Stuart (R)
  • HScott Motorsports (Civic Type-R)
    • 45 Clint Bowyer
    • 46 Michael Annett, Justin Allgaier

BMW (NEW; Only Fields M3)

  • Furniture Row Racing
    • 78 Martin Truex Jr.
  • Team Ohio
    • 64 Kelly Walker (R)
    • 65 Rodney Clay (R)
  • Germain Racing
    • 13 Casey Mears

Nissan (NEW; Only Fields Sentra)

  • MAG Incorporated
    • 58 Lyle White (R)
    • 59 Bill Fuller (R)
  • Stash Motorsports
    • 91 Bo Abraham (R)
    • 92 Beau Philips (R)

Buick (RETURNING; Only Fields Regal)

  • Bobby Allison Racing
    • 12 Dakoda Armstrong (R)
  • Rossi Racing
    • 50 BJ Fisher (R)
    • 53 Tyson Golston (R)

Limited Schedule

Chevrolet

  • Hillman Racing (Camaro)
    • 40 Reed Sorenson
  • The Motorsports Group (Impala)
    • 30 Josh Wise, Gray Gaulding
  • Team Hiromi (Impala)
    • 63 Kyle Clayton (R)
  • Faith Motorsports (Impala)
    • 89 Morgan Shepherd

Ford

  • Front Row Motorsports (Fusion)
    • 35 David Gilliland
  • Roush Fenway Racing (Roush Mustang)
    • 99 Ryan Reed

Toyota

  • BK Racing
    • 49 Matt DiBenedetto
  • Joe Gibbs Racing
    • 80 Erik Jones (R)

Dodge

  • Premium Motorsports (Challenger)
    • 55 Reed Sorenson, Michael Waltrip, Cole Whitt, Cody Ware, Alex Kennedy, DJ Kennington
    • 98 Cole Whitt, Reed Sorenson, Ryan Ellis, Timmy Hill

Honda

  • Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing
    • 159 Michael McDowell

BWM

  • DRK Racing
    • 182 Tyler Ferris (R)

Nissan

  • MAG Incorporated
    • 56 Woody Irving (R)

Buick

  • Team Marmalade
    • 105 Kyle McCoy (R)
    • 176 Jake Mitchell (R)
    • 190 Elton Sawyer

Changes

Teams

  • Michael Waltrip Racing ceased its operations after 2015, shutting down the No. 15 and No. 55 teams. Their cars were sold to startup team Orange County Racing, however Waltrip made plans to run the Daytona 500 with sponsor Maxwell House. Waltrip ran the No. 83 for BK Racing in the Daytona 500 with DiBenedetto moving to the No. 93 in a third BK Racing car for the race. Waltrip also ran the Talladega race in May in his old No. 55 now running under the Premium Motorsports banner. This car had been the No. 62 in 2015.
  • Wood Brothers Racing returned to full-time racing in 2016 for the first time since 2008. Ryan Blaney remained as driver, marking the first time the team would full-time with one driver since 2006. The team ran 19 races in 2015.
  • Front Row Motorsports downsized to two full-time teams in 2016, shutting down the No. 35 team. The team also received technical support as part of an alliance with Roush Fenway Racing. The team fielded the No. 35 car for David Gililland in the Daytona 500 and GEICO 500.
  • BK Racing increased to four full-time teams in 2016, adding the No. 93 team. Due to lack of funding, the team was forced to buy 2013-era Gen-6 cars from Joe Gibbs Racing.
  • Circle Sport and Leavine Family Racing merged to form Circle Sport – Leavine Family Racing. The team ran the full 36-race schedule with the No. 95 in a Honda Accord. The No. 33 team was shut down. Rookie Red Stuart ran five races with crew chief Todd Parrott, including the Daytona 500 with Michael McDowell driving the other 31 with crew chief Dave Winston. The team fielded a second car, the No. 159, in the Daytona 500 and Ford EcoBoost 400 for McDowell.
  • Premium Motorsports hired Mike Hillman to head up its operations in 2016, bringing over Mark Hillman – who served as the No. 40's crew chief – and most of the staff from the No. 40 team, therefore shutting that team down on a full-time basis. Premium Motorsports ran only one full-time team with Cole Whitt in the No. 98 in 2016, shutting down the No. 62. Whitt drove for Front Row Motorsports in the now defunct No. 35 in 2015. Hillman still ran the No. 40 with Reed Sorenson in the Daytona 500. The second Premium team was reactivated at Martinsville as the No. 55, with Sorenson driving.
  • In what is called the Great Team Boom of 2016, multiple new teams were started with financial assistance from BMW, Nissan, and Buick. Doug Yates restarted Yates Racing under the name Doug Yates Racing, while Bobby Allison resurrected Bobby Allison Racing.
  • Dale Earnhardt Inc. was resurrected by Dale Earnhardt Jr., who left Hendrick Motorsports to drive as an owner-driver in the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Camaro. The No. 15 car was also resurrected, driven by Michael Waltrip's daughter, Macy Waltrip.
  • Ray Evernham left NBC to restart Evernham Motorsports with the No. 09, driven by Ty Dillon.

Drivers

  • Chase Elliott moves up from the PrimeStar Series to the Sprint Cup Series for Hendrick Motorsports, replacing Jeff Gordon in the No. 24, who retired after the 2015 season.
  • Alex Bowman moved to the No. 88 car at Hendrick Motorsports after Dale Earnhardt Jr. left for the new DEI.
  • Clint Bowyer replaced Justin Allgaier in the HScott Motorsports No. 45 (renumbered from No. 51) for 2016. Bowyer ran the No. 15 for the now closed Michael Waltrip team in 2015.
  • Brian Scott replaced Sam Hornish Jr. in the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 44 (renumbered from No. 9). Scott ran for Richard Childress Racing in the PrimeStar Series in 2015.
  • Chris Buescher moved up from the PrimeStar Series to the Sprint Cup Series for Front Row Motorsports, replacing Brett Moffitt and other various drivers in the No. 34. Buescher ran six races in the No. 34 in 2015 and won the 2015 PrimeStar Series Championship with Roush Fenway Racing in the No. 60. He is on loan from Roush Fenway Racing, with Roush providing additional technical support for him in 2016.
  • Landon Cassill replaced David Gililland in the Front Row Motorsports No. 38. Cassill ran for Hillman Racing in the No. 40 in 2015.
  • Jeffrey Earnhardt ran at least 24 races in the No. 32 for Go FAS Racing. The team had multiple drivers in 2015.
  • David Ragan replaced JJ Yeley and Jeb Burton in the BK Racing No. 23. Ragan drove full-time for various teams – mostly in a substitute role due to injuries – in 2015, mostly for the now defunct Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55.
  • Regan Smith replaced Alex Bowman in the Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 7. Smith ran for JR Motorsports in the PrimeStar Series in 2015.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.. suffered from concussion like symptoms following the race in Kentucky and was replaced by DJ Kennington at New Hampshire and Michigan. Jeff Gordon came out of retirement to replace Jr. at Indianapolis, Pocono, Watkins Glen, and Bristol. It was announced on August 30 that Earnhardt would miss the rest of the season and that Kennington and Gordon would share the car for the final 12 races of the season. Gordon drove at Darlington, Richmond, Dover, and Martinsville while Kennington drove at Chicagoland, New Hampshire, Charlotte, Kansas, Talladega, Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead.
  • Bobby Labonte signed a three-year deal in December 2015 to return to JTG Daugherty Racing to drive a second car, the No. 59, starting in 2016.

Manufacturers

  • BWM and Nissan entered the sport, fielding the M3 and Sentra, respectively.
  • Buick returned to NASCAR after last running in 1991, fielding the Regal.
  • Furniture Row Racing changed its manufacturer to BMW after being with Chevrolet since the team's inception in 2005.
  • Germain Racing changed its manufacturer to BMW after being with Chevrolet since 2014.
  • Chip Ganassi Racing returned to Dodge, running the Challenger model.
  • Yates Racing, traditionally a Ford team, went to Honda.

Changes

Technical changes

All cars began using a digital dashboard starting in 2016. The dashboard only provided information that was available on manual gauges and lap times, but there were plans to work in tire pressure readings and other telemetry to drivers, teams, and fans at home.

At all tracks except Daytona and Talladega:

  • The rear spoiler height was reduced from 6 inches to 3.5 inches.
  • The radiator pan width was reduced from 38 inches to 33 inches.

At Daytona and Talladega:

  • Engine roller lifters replaced solid lifters, adding around 10 horsepower to each car.
  • Restrictor plates had the openings reduced from 29/32 inches to 57/64 inches to counter the horsepower increase.

Safety enhancements at all tracks:

  • There must be an on-board fire suppression system activation cable routed to the dash or right-hand side leg board.
  • Seat belt restraint systems must meet increased specifications.

Other changes:

  • All track bar and wedge wrenches must be painted red.
  • NASCAR changed inspection methods, reducing pre-race inspection time but increasing the amount of time teams have to present their cars for pre-qualifying inspection. In addition, NASCAR utilized new inspection methods aided by Microsoft Surface tablets to further increase efficiencies.
  • Beginning at the May Talladega race, NASCAR began enforcing lug nuts again, a practice which was discontinued after the 2013 season. The rule now required all 5 lug nuts on all 4 wheels must be "installed in a safe and secure manner." If during post-race inspection a wheel is found to be missing a lug nut or a lug not is not secured, it was an automatic P3 penalty resulting in the crew chief, tire changer, and tire carrier each receiving a one race suspension and fine. The change comes after mass criticism, particularly from owner-driver Tony Stewart, about poor safety practices occurring from lack of enforcement.
  • Three-digit numbers were allowed again for the first time since 1971.
  • The Official Fuel of NASCAR changed back to 76 for the first time since 2003 after a scandal at Auto Club in 2015 in which lead was discovered in the Sunoco fuel, and Continental Rail had to quickly bring in Chevron fuel from Richmond, CA. With the return of 76 also came the return of the Unocal 76 Challenge, a cash bonus for winning from the pole

Vetoed Changes

  • 2016 would have seen the introduction of a charter system in a deal reached between NASCAR and the Race Team Alliance. Thirty-six teams would hold a charter, which guarantees them a spot in the field for all 36 races. To be eligible for a charter, a team would have had to be running full-time since the 2013 season. Charter owners may have transfered their Charter to another team, for one full season, once over the first five years of the agreement.
  • Charter teams would have been held to a minimum performance standard. If a Charter team finished in the bottom three of the owner standings among all 36 Charter teams for three consecutive years, NASCAR would have had a right to force the sale of the charter.
  • NASCAR would also have reduced the size of the Cup field from 46 to 40 cars, and would have ended the Lend-Lease program.
  • Teams may have sold their Charters on the open market before each season.
  • Organizations would have had a hard cap of five cars; prohibiting a sixth car for rookie drivers. For example, Joe Gibbs Racing ran Erik Jones on a limited Cup schedule in addition to the full PrimeStar Series schedule; if the system happened, under this new rule they would have had to farm him out to another team.
  • Due to the charters and reduction of field size, the qualifying procedures were to be revised. The final four spots for non-chartered teams would have been determined by qualifying results. If qualifying were to be rained out, practice speeds were to be used. If practice and qualifying were rained out, owner points were to be used. For the Daytona 500 only, the final four teams were to be the highest non-charter finisher in each duel plus the two highest qualifiers that did not clinch a spot in the duel.
  • Due to the field shortening from 46 to 40 cars, the point system was to be revised to 1 point for 40th place up to 40 points for 1st place. All other bonuses points, including the win bonus and laps lead bonus points, were going to be the same.
  • 2016 would have also introduced the "Overtime Line" as a modification for the green-white-checker rule. After taking the green flag, if a caution appears before the leader has reached the overtime line, the restart was waved off and another attempt would be made. There were an unlimited number of attempts for this, however once the leader reaches the line, the next flag ended the race. The placement of the overtime line varied from track to track.

Reportedly, these changes were never put past Tim Johnson, and were to be implemented without his permission by executives who viewed Johnson's changes as "fiscally irresponsible", going so far as to claim that Johnson himself came up with those changes. When Johnson found out, the individuals responsible were fired. Tim did make a few changes, though, which were announced in a memo called the "Final Solution":

  • When the caution comes out, the field will no longer be frozen; it is now perfectly legal to race back to the caution
  • No more cautions for non-existent debris to create artifical drama and/or tighten up the field to give other drivers a chance
  • During Speedweeks 2016, Tim found a panel that could make tires self-destruct at any point to bring out a caution; not only was he famously pictured taking a sledgehammer to it, he also fired the person in charge of this, and personally hunted down whoever thought it was a good idea; it is rumored that he put said inventor in a coma, but both parties deny this and say the rumor was created and spread by a disgruntled ex-NASCAR employee who had been fired for his involvement in the Charter Teams conspiracy
  • Teams may now use tires from a manufacturer other than Goodyear; approved manufacturers include Hoosier, Firestone, Michelin, Toyo, Dunlop, and General Tire
  • Downforce will be returned to 2005 levels
  • The race will finish under green REGARDLESS; Green-White-Checker finishes will still be allowed
  • Anyone in NASCAR corporate who attempts to override any change made by Tim Johnson will be fired and blacklisted; a Post-It attached to the memo reportedly read "Brian and Mike's mistakes will be erased!!!!", underlined at least five times for emphasis.

At a press conference, Johnson said he discovered a book full of proposed changes, such as an IndyCar-style push-to-pass system on all tracks except the restrictor-plate tracks, an automatic caution that would occur with 20 laps to go to create artificial drama, a caution clock in the SuperTruck Series that would involve the yellow flag being shown after a certain amount of time, again to create artificial drama, and even a new race format in which races in the national series (except the Goodwrench Series) would be divided into three stages (four for the Coca-Cola 600). Johnson says he kept this book and reads it for laughs "every now and then". Although many NASCAR executives were angry that Johnson was essentially "acting as a dictator" and messing with their attempts to get higher salaries, the changes ironically gave them even higher salaries than if the Charter System was implemented, as they succeeded in restoring NASCAR's lost popularity. Longtime fans who were still holding out finally returned to NASCAR to find it was better than ever.

Schedule

The final calendar – comprising 36 races, as well as exhibition races, which are the Sprint Unlimited, Can-Am Duel qualifying duel races for the  Daytona 500, the Sprint Unlimited, and the new Tokyo Late Model Classic – was released on October 26, 2015. With the schedule announcement also came the announcement of NASCAR securing a five-year contract with each track to continue to host races over the next five seasons. Key changes from 2015 include:

  • A brand-new track was added to the schedule, Tokyo Superspeedway. The track replaced the June Pocono and Fall Phoenix races, and the June Michigan race was also eliminated in favor of the Toyko Late Model Classic
  • The Easter off-week was placed late-March between Fontana and Martinsville, instead of the mid-April break between Martinsville and Texas as in recent years.
  • The spring race at Richmond moved from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon.
  • Michigan and Bristol swap their August race dates.
  • The third off-week has been moved to mid-August between Watkins Glen and Bristol, instead of the usual late-August break between Bristol and Darlington. This has been done so as to avoid competing with the 2016 Summer Olympics.
  • The first race at Dover and the Memorial Day week swapped dates, so the last race before the All-Star Race is Dover instead of Kansas.
No. Race Title Track TV
1 Harley-Davidson 250 Road America, Lake Elkhart WBC
Sprint Unlimited Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach WBC
Budweiser Duels Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach WBC
2 Daytona 500 Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach WBC
3 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton Fox
4 Kobalt 400 Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Fox
5 Good Sam 500 Phoenix International Speedway, Avondale Fox
6 Auto Club 400 Auto Club Speedway, Fontana Fox
7 STP 500 Martinsville Speedway, Ridgeway FS1
8 Chevron 400 Rockingham Speedway, Rockingham WBC
9 Food City 500 Bristol Motor Speedway Fox
10 Toyota Owners 400 Richmond International Raceway, Richmond Fox
11 GEICO 500 Talladega Superspeedway, Lincoln WBC
12 Tyson Holly Farms 400 North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Wilkesboro WBC
13 AAA Drive for Autism 400 Dover International Speedway, Dover FS1
Sprint Showdown Charlotte Motor Speedway, Charlotte FS1
NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Charlotte Motor Speedway, Charlotte FS1
14 Coca-Cola 600 Charlotte Motor Speedway, Charlotte WBC
Tokyo Late Model Classic Tokyo Superspeedway, Tama WBC
15 Tokyo 500 Tokyo Superspeedway, Tama WBC
16 Toyota/Save Mart 350 Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma WBC
17 Coke Zero 400 Daytona International Speedway Fox
18 Quaker State 400 Kentucky Speedway, Sparta NBC
19 New Hampshire 301 New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon NBCSN
20 Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway WBC
21 Pennsylvania 400 Pocono Raceway, Long Pond WBC
22 Cheez-It 355 At The Glen Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen WBC
23 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol NBC
24 Pure Michigan 400 Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn WBC
25 Southern 500 Darlington Raceway, Darlington NBC
26 Federated Auto Parts 400 Richmond International Raceway, Richmond NBC
27 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet NBCSN
28 Moana 400 Walt Disney World Speedway, Lake Buena Vista ABC
29 Citizen Soldier 400 Dover International Speedway, Dover NBC
30 Bank of America 500 Charlotte Motor Speedway, Charlotte WBC
31 Hollywood Casino 400 Kansas Speedway, Kansas City NBC
32 Hellmann's 500* Talladega Superspeedway, Lincoln WBC
33 Iowa Corn 400 Iowa Speedway, Newton WBC
34 AAA Texas 500 Texas Motor Speedway, Newton NBC, Fox
35 Nintendo Switch 400 Tokyo Superspeedway, Tama WBC
36 Ford EcoBoost 400 Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead

NBC

  • The Hellmann's 500 was delayed due to heavy rains all week, and had to be moved to the Sunday after Thanksgiving

Summary

Race Reports

Round 1: Harley-Davidson 250

After a hotly-contested race, Jamie McMurray got the win, his first since 2013.

Daytona Speedweeks 2016

Speedweeks 2016 started with the Sprint Unlimited. Denny Hamlin led the most laps and won his third career Sprint Unlimited, followed by Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Kyle Larson, and Casey Mears. The race saw several multicar crashes, including one that sent the race into overtime. During the overtime period, a clean restart occurred before another multicar crash that sent Matt Kenseth into a barrell-roll eerily similar to Ricky Rudd's flip at the 1984 running of the Unlimited caused the race to end under yellow.

Qualifying for the front row of the Daytona 500 took place the following day. Rookie Chase Elliott won the pole, becoming the youngest Daytona 500 pole winner ever at the age of 20 years, 2 months, and 17 days. Matt Kenseth, who had flipped the previous night, joined Elliott on the front row by qualifying second.

The following Thursday, the Can-Am Duels took place to set the starting lineup for the heat races for the Daytona 500. Dale Earnhadt Jr. led the most laps and won the first duel race, his first in the 8 car since 2006. The second duel race was won by Kyle Busch ahead of a last-lap crash that involved multiple drivers including Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., and polesitter Kenseth,

Round 2: Daytona 500

Elliott started on pole, but was taken out of contention by an early spin through the grass that destroyed the front end of his car. Several other small wrecks occurred throughout the race including a spin by Brian Vickers that caused Trevor Bayne and Carl Edwards to make contact, a single-car wreck that sent Earnhardt into the wall, and a wreck between Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle. Denny Hamlin led the most laps, with the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers and Truex Jr. up front for most of the race. On the last lap, Hamlin passed Kenseth for the lead and beat Truex Jr. to the line in a photo-finish, which was the closest margin in Daytona 500 history. The race was the first Daytona 500 broadcast on WBC, as well as Ken Squier's first Daytona 500 as lead commentator since 1997.

Round 3: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

Kurt Busch started on pole after his younger brother Kyle Busch's pole-winning qualifying time was disallowed, resulting in him starting in the rear. The race used the new low downforce package and saw few caution flags. Kenseth led several laps but went two laps down after a miscommunication following a pit road penalty. Kevin Harvick led the most laps but Johnson took the lead after pitting early during the final round of green-flag pit stops. After a cut tire from Ryan Newman sent the race into overtime, Johnson would win the race under caution after a multicar wreck involving Aric Almirola and 3 others occurred following a clean restart. The win was the 76th career win for Johnson, tying Dale Earnhardt.

Round 4: Kobalt 400

Rookie Kelly Walker led the field to green after a brief delay due to rain showers; Walker was the second woman to win the pole in a Cup Series race, and gave BMW its first pole. The race was plagued by high winds, with a sandstorm hitting the track at one point from laps 202–205. Jimmie Johnson led the most laps in the race. A few wrecks occurred including one involving Regan Smith and Kyle Larson and a multicar wreck that took Matt Kenseth and Chase Elliott out of contention. Kyle Busch had the lead in the closing laps, but was passed by Tony Stewart, who went on to win the race. Keselowski was followed by Joey Logano, Johnson, Kyle Busch, and Austin Dillon.

Round 5: Good Sam 500

Kyle Busch started from the pole and led the early part of the race. Dale Earnhardt, Carl Edwards, and rookie Rodney Clay also led throughout the race, with Clay leading the most laps. The race saw several drivers using Hoosier tires have issues from melted tire beads including Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Brad Keselowski, and Kasey Kahne. Kahne's crash into the wall sent the race into overtime, where Kevin Harvick beat Edwards in a photo-finish, followed by Rodney Clay, Kyle Busch, and Earnhardt, Jr. Harvick won his 8th career race at Phoenix, and BMW got its first top five finish.

Round 6: Auto Club 400

Austin Dillon started the race from the pole. A number of drivers had tire issues throughout the race, including Kyle Larson, who crashed into the inside wall hard. Another incident occurred with Kasey Kahne and Kelly Walker got together, sending Walker into the wall. Kevin Harvick led the most laps in the race. The race went into overtime after Kyle Busch got into the wall from a blown tire. In the overtime finish, Danica Patrick scored the win, ahead of Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Round 7: STP 500

Joey Logano started on the pole and led early before fading. A few incidents occurred during the race including an early spin by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin getting into the wall. Kyle Busch led the most laps and went on to win the race, his first career win at Martinsville and completing the weekend sweep as he won the Camping World Truck Series race the day before. Kyle Busch was followed by AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, and and Ty Dillon, Buick's first top five finish since 1991.

Round 8: Chevron 400

Carl Edwards led the field to green after a two-hour delay from rain. Rookie Macy Waltrip led the most laps in the race. Late in the race, a 13-car wreck occurred when Austin Dillon spun and caused a chain reaction that collected several drivers including Paul Menard, Ryan Newman, Trevor Bayne, Brian Vickers, and Brian Scott. During the final caution, Truex Jr. stayed out while several other drivers came to pit road for fresh tires. On the restart, Waltrip was able to get around Truex Jr. and win the race, becoming the second woman to win in NASCAR competition, and also the youngest at the age of 19, also making her the youngest winner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Truex was followed across the finish line by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano, Tony Stewart, and Chase Elliott.

Round 9: Food City 500

Carl Edwards started the race from pole position as Dale Earnhardt Jr. went two laps down early after not being able to get going at the initial start. Matt Kenseth led several laps in the early part of the race. Kyle Busch experienced tire issues, a spin, and pit-road speeding penalties before a cut right-front tire sent him hard into the wall a little past halfway, ending his race. Kenseth also had a right-front tire issue that sent him into the wall and knocked him out of contention. Kyle Larson experienced a broken track bar that left him multiple laps down. Denny Hamlin and Aric Almirola both got into the wall late in the race in separate crashes. Edwards would go on to lead the most laps and win the race, his first of the season. Edwards was followed by Earnhardt Jr. (who rebounded from his early issues), Tony Stewart, Chase Elliott, and Trevor Bayne. BK Racing driver Matt DiBenedetto recorded a career best finish of 6th.

Round 10: Toyota Owners 400

Kevin Harvick started from pole after qualifying was rained out and the field was set by practice speeds. The race saw long green-flag runs in the early part of the race. Several drivers rotated the lead throughout the race, including Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, and Kurt Busch. In the later part of the race, a few incidents occurred including a cut tire from rookie Tyler Ferris and a wreck from Brian Scott. In the closing laps, Kyle Busch held the lead with Edwards close behind. On the final lap, Edwards did a "bump and run" move to take the lead from Kyle Busch, but it backfired, and both cars went in the wall, allowing Tony Stewart to get his second win of the season. Kelly Walker finished second, followed by Johnson, Kasey Kahne, and Harvick.

Round 11: GEICO 500

Chase Elliott was on pole position for the race. The race was threatened by rain and featured intense racing and numerous multicar wrecks. Early in the race, Ty Dillon got loose and collected Kasey Kahne. Near the middle of the race, a 7-car wreck occurred that saw Chris Buescher flip multiple times. Carl Edwards got into Stewart Claiborne, causing serious damage to both cars. Kahne would also be involved in a second wreck. Toward the later part of the race, several crashes occurred, including "The Big One", which involved 21 cars, and a hard wreck involving Danic Patrick and Matt Kenseth that saw Kenseth go airborne and flip wildly down the backstretch, causing an oil fire that put the race under a red flag while it was put out. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the race as a multicar wreck occurred coming to the checkered flag that involved Kevin Harvick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., among others.

Round 12: Tyson Holly Farms 400

Martin Truex Jr. started on pole and dominated the race, leading 272 laps. However, a loose wheel following a green-flag pit stop took him out of contention for the win. Late in the race, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Kyle Larson were involved in a wreck battling for position near the front of the field. Under this caution, Macy Waltrip stayed out while other drivers came to pit road for fresh tires. In the closing laps, Waltrip was able to hold off Kevin Harvick on older tires and win the race. Harvick finished second, followed by Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Ryan Blaney.

Round 13: AAA Drive for Autism 400

Kevin Harvick won the pole after qualifying was rained out and the starting order was set by first practice speeds. Harvick led before and after the competition caution on lap 40. Others such as Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. led during the race. Early in the race, several single-car wrecks occurred that involved drivers including Matt DiBenedetto, Austin Dillon, and Michael Annett. The race was nerve rattling towards the end. Brad Keselowski ran into the lapped car of Austin Dillon while leading, cutting down his tire. A Lend-Lease entry, a Nissan 240SX, blew his engine and spilled oil on the track. On a restart with 46 laps to go, leader Jimmie Johnson could not get going and bunched up the field, causing a large wreck which involved 18 cars. Carl Edwards crashed into the inside wall on the following restart. The race restarted again with 35 laps to go and the end came down to a battle between Matt Kenseth and Kyle Larson. Larson came close numerous times to get the lead, but Kenseth put the block on Larson and won his first race of the season.

Exhibition: NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race

Kevin Harvick won the pole for the All-Star Race after the field was set by owner points due to qualifying being rained out. Harvick led much of the first 50-lap segment but gave up the lead to make the required green-flag pit stop. Everyone made the stop except Matt Kenseth, who was leading when Jamie McMurray spun out with five laps left in the segment and was unable to make his stop. He was penalized one lap for failing to stop, creating a scoring confusion that occurred when NASCAR allowed cars trapped one lap down by Kenseth, who were now on the tail-end of the lead lap, to pit in front of new leader Carl Edwards. Some of those cars came off pit road behind the leaders, one lap down, and were originally scored on the lead lap. However, the issue was corrected and those cars were sent to the rear. Brad Keselowski lead to green on the start of the second 50-lap second, which required a green-flag pit stop before lap 85 (lap 35 of segment 2). A few laps into the segment, a caution came out for water in turn two, and Kevin Harvick made several pit stops due to what appeared to be fuel pump problems. When the race restarted, Chase Elliott attempted to make his required pit stop, causing Matt Kenseth to slow up and get turned into the wall, collecting Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne. Greg Biffle's car was also damaged after clipping Elliott's right rear. After the restart, everyone else made the required green-flag stops, and Kyle Busch, who assumed the lead after pit stops, received a speeding penalty and dropped to 13th. Keselowski assumed the lead, but lost it to Kyle Larson took the lead from Keselowski, who won the second segment. A random draw of 9, 10, or 11 at the end of the segment determined that the top 11 cars had to pit for four tires. This gave the lead to 12th-place Jimmie Johnson for the final segment, with Kyle Busch lining up alongside. On the restart for the final segment, Kyle Larson took the lead back from Johnson and began to pull away from the field, but was caught by Macy Waltrip. Larson and Waltrip ran side-by-side to the finish, with Larson beating Waltrip by .004 seconds.

Round 14: Coca-Cola 600

Martin Truex Jr. started the race from the pole. Truex dominated, leading 392 of 400 laps. A few incidents happened during the race including a cut tire from Kasey Kahne early in the race, a pit-road penalty for Joey Logano, and a cut tire that sent Kyle Busch into the wall late in the race. Truex won the race to set the record for most laps led in a race at Charlotte and most miles led in a NASCAR race by leading for 588 miles. Truex was followed across the finish line by Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, and Brad Keselowski.

Exhibition: Tokyo Late Model Classic

The first race at the brand-new Tokyo Superspeedway, the 60-lap feature involved current and past drivers in Gen-4 cars. In the end, it was Cale Yarborough who took the checkers.

Round 15: Tokyo 500

The conclusion of Tokyo Speedweek, the first Sprint Cup Series race at Tokyo Superspeedway was both exciting and intense. Speeds topped out at 208 MPH, forcing NASCAR to modify the restrictor plate for the fall race. "The Big One" broke out with nine laps to go, sending Ricky Stenhouse Jr. flipping wildly down the backstretch. After the last restart, Chase Elliott held off Macy Waltrip (his prime competitor for Rookie of the Year) to take his first career win. It was the first time an Elliott had won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since 2003.

Round 16: Toyota/Save Mart 350

Carl Edwards started the race from pole position. Early in the race, Clint Bowyer suffered an electrical fire in his car that sent him to the garage. Denny Hamlin led the most laps in the race. Late in the race, Tony Stewart made a green-flag pit stop right before a caution came out for debris. The rest of the field came to pit road under the caution while Stewart stayed out and inherited the lead. On the last lap, Hamlin passed Stewart for the lead in turn 7, but Stewart was able to regain the lead from Hamlin in the final turn and win the race.

Round 17: Coke Zero 400

Greg Biffle won the pole for the race. The first half of the race was calm. On lap 90, "The Big One" occurred when teammates Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson got together, sending McMurray into Jimmie Johnson and it involved 19 other cars including, Brian Scott's car flipping wildly and coming to rest on top of Kevin Harvick's car. Tony Stewart dominated, leading 115 laps. Late in the race, Kyle Busch wrecked and collected Carl Edwards and Casey Mears. Edwards would again be involved in a wreck with 5 laps to go that sent the race into overtime. Stewart held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a seeming continuation of their battle in the closing laps of the 2014 Coke Zero 400 prior to the tragedy, as Kurt Busch went for a slide through the infield grass after getting tapped by Joey Logano.

Round 18: Quaker State 400

Tony Stewart won the pole after the field was set by owner points due to qualifying being rained out. Harvick dominated the race and led the most laps. The repaved track proved to be a problem for multiple drivers. Jimmie Johnson spun and hit the wall, taking him to the garage. Joey Logano blew a tire and smacked the wall, ending his day early. Rookies Stewart Claiborne and Ryan Blaney crashed out of the race together. A big wreck happened, involving 8 cars. AJ Allmendinger hit the wall and destroyed the front end of his car. Multiple drivers tried to make it to the end on fuel. Dakoda Armstrong led the final 65 laps and saved enough fuel to hold off Carl Edwards for his first career Cup Series win. It was also Buick's first win in NASCAR since 1990.

Round 19: New Hampshire 301

Jimmie Johnson won the pole. Kyle Busch took the lead from Johnson at the start. Busch led until lap 87 when Martin Truex Jr. took over the top spot. Truex led until lap 172 when Kyle Busch retook the lead. Busch led until Truex won the race off of pit road during a caution for debris. Matt Kenseth took the lead from Truex in lap 257. The caution came out for debris in turn three and Denny Hamlin stayed on the track as Kenseth kept the lead coming off pit road. Truex reported to his team that he was stuck in fourth gear and fell back on the restart. Kenseth took the lead from Hamlin and then a caution came out for Alex Bowman, who was filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr., cut a tire down. Kenseth continued to lead off the restart until Kurt Busch cut a tire, bringing out the caution. Kenseth led off at restart until Kyle Larson brought the caution out after sliding through the grass. Kenseth continued to lead off the restart, but was unable to hold off Tony Stewart, who passed him on the last lap for his fifth win of the season.

Round 20: Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded 400 at the Brickyard

Defending race winner Kyle Busch started on pole. Busch led most of the race. Several accidents took place during the race. Matt DiBenedetto blew his engine on lap 3. After three straight top 10 finishes since July 2, Greg Biffle smacked the wall on lap 52 and knocked himself out of the race. During that caution, Joey Logano stayed out and led the field back to green. Kyle Busch retook the lead on lap 63 and continued leading, other than temporary changes during pit stop cycling. A caution came out with 7 laps to go. On the restart, Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman made contact and wrecked with Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney. The red flag was displayed to clean up the track. On the restart, Trevor Bayne and Clint Bowyer made contact. On the following restart, which took place in overtime, Jamie McMurray spun into Austin Dillon and Brian Scott also spun. On the second restart of overtime, Chase Ellliott pulled away from Matt Kenseth to get his second career win, also becoming the first rookie to win the Brickyard 400. Jeff Gordon, who came out of retirement to fill in for Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished thirteenth.

Round 21: Pennsylvania 400

Martin Truex Jr. won the pole. The race was scheduled for Sunday but was postponed to Monday due to rain. Truex led early until he had a right-front tire go down. Logano dominated the early part of the race. Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson were battling for the lead as rain was approaching the track. The two got together allowing Logano to regain the lead. After a restart, Chase Elliott got loose and spun and ran into Logano, ending both drivers' chances for a win. Pit strategy allowed Larson and Dillon to get back out front. Chris Buescher was in the lead trying to win the race as fog and rain hit the track. The red flag was displayed as fog continued to come and thicken. During the fog delay, rain moved into the area causing the cars to be covered. After a long red flag display, the race was called official and Buescher got his first career victory and the first for Front Row Motorsports since the 2013 Aaron's 499. Most incredibly of all, Buescher won the race in a Gen-6 car.

Round 22: Cheez-It 355 At The Glen

Carl Edwards won the pole to sweep the road course poles. Brad Keselowski led the most laps in the race. Multiple drivers received penalties on pit road. There were a couple of big wrecks. On lap 53, Jimmie Johnson, Austin Dillon, Greg Biffle, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got into a big wreck that sent Johnson flipping wildly in the bus stop chicane and brought out the red flag. On the restart, there was another wreck involving Clint Bowyer, David Ragan, Alex Kennedy, and polesitter Edwards. Another wreck took place with seven laps to go as Kevin Harvick, Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher, and Rodney Clay got together. The wreck brought out the red flag once again. On the restart, Tony Stewart held off Joey Logano after Martin Truex Jr. spun after making contact with Brad Keselowski to pick up his sixth win of the season. Jeff Gordon, still substituting for Dale Earnhardt Jr., made his 800th start.

Round 23: Bass Pro Shops Night Race

Spring Bristol winner Carl Edwards started on pole with a new track record. Denny Hamlin took the lead from Edwards at the start. Hamlin led until Chase Elliott took the lead. Kyle Busch took the lead from Elliott and began to pull away from the field until the caution came out for rain. The race was red flagged until the track was dried and the field was brought out under caution. It began to rain again and the red flag was displayed. The race was then postponed until the following day in the afternoon. The race was delayed due early morning rain. The race would resume and Kyle Busch continued to lead. Busch led 256 laps, but was taken out of the race when he spun and Justin Allgaier ran into him. Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski crashed and took out some of the field. Joey Logano, who won the last two summer Bristol races, lost the lead to Kevin Harvick and had to go to pit road to tape up the front end of his car. Denny Hamlin led off the restart and lost the lead to Elliott. It began to rain and field circled around the track under caution. Elliott pulled away from the field on the restart and held off Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to receive his third win of the season.

Round 24: Pure Michigan 400

Joey Logano started on pole. Chris Buescher had trouble early and fell four laps down. Logano led early, but fell back after the competition caution. Kevin Harvick got the lead and led until Martin Truex Jr. was able to take the lead when they came up on lapped traffic. Kyle Busch spun out into the grass early. Jimmie Johnson got the lead after green flag pit stops, but lost the lead on the next round of pit stops after his team took extra time to fill the car with fuel. Chase Elliott got the lead due to Johnson's misfortune. Kyle Larson was able to get the lead on a restart and pull away from the field as a rainstorm was nearing the track. Elliott was able to get off pit road ahead of Larson. On a restart, leader Elliott spun the tires and it allowed Larson to take the lead and pull away from the field and held off Elliott to get his first win of the season.

Round 25: Southern 500

Kevin Harvick won the pole due to qualifying being cancelled due to local rainfall from Tropical Storm Hermine. Harvick dominated the race, but had a few pit road problems, costing him a few positions. Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, and Macy Waltrip also led during the race. Several accidents took place including Brian Scott getting into the wall after contact with Stewart Claiborne, Jimmie Johnson spun and hit the wall, Stewart blew his engine while running thirteenth, and Kyle Busch got into the wall after contact with Paul Menard. A few drivers such as Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman had pit strategy. Newman was able to pull away from the field. Martin Truex Jr. was able to get by Newman and pull away from the field. A caution came out for Aric Almirola crashing into the wall after contact with Clint Bowyer. During the final caution period, Truex Jr.'s engine suddenly blew, ruining his chances at winning, and on the final restart, Chase Elliott pulled away for his third career win, becoming the first rookie to win the Southern 500.

Round 26: Federated Auto Parts 400

Denny Hamlin won the pole. The race was mostly dominated by Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. Chase Elliott got into the wall after contact with Jeff Gordon. Jimmie Johnson made contact with the wall after he had a left-rear go down. AJ Allmendinger spun three times during the race. A big wreck caused the red flag to be displayed involving Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Kelley Walker, and others when Walker and Newman made contact. On the restart, Hamlin pulled away from the field until a caution came out with two laps to go when Regan Smith hit the wall. The race went into overtime. On the restart, Hamlin pulled away from the field to score his third win of the season and third at Richmond.

Round 27: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400

Tony Stewart was awarded the pole after qualifying was rained out and the field was set by points. At the start of the race, Busch led the first few laps. Martin Truex Jr. then took the lead from Busch and led for a while. After a caution, Jimmie Johnson stayed off of pit road and assumed the race lead. On the next caution, Johnson was able to get off pit road first and continued to lead. He led the most laps, 119 of the 270. Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott took the lead from Johnson. The final round of green flag pit stops began with 35 laps to go. Johnson was penalized for speeding on pit road. Elliott regained the lead and was pulling away to victory until Michael McDowell had a tire go down, sending the race into overtime. Ryan Blaney, Kasey Kahne, and Carl Edwards all stayed off pit road. On the restart, Macy Waltrip took the lead from Blaney and held off Joey Logano to score her third win of the season.

Round 28: Moana 400

Carl Edwards started on pole. Martin Truex Jr. dominated the race, leading 141 laps. It was green for most of the race. Defending race winner Tony Stewart also led a bunch of laps. Only one caution took place in the first place half of the race and only four cautions in the second half. One of them saw Trevor Bayne hit the wall hard and flip violently. On that restart, Truex dropped a few spots. The next caution saw Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Reed Sorenson make contact. On that restart, Danica Patrick took the lead from Kenseth and held off the rest of the field to score her second win of the season.

Round 29: Citizen Soldier 400

Macy Waltrip was awarded the pole after qualifying was rained out and the field was set by points. Keselowski led the first few laps until he lost it to Martin Truex Jr. Kyle Busch then found his way to the lead. Kevin Harvick had trouble early after he suffered a broken track bar and had to go to the garage. Kyle Larson had problems with his Challenger after losing power. Larson's Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray began having problems and his engine finally expired. Jimmie Johnson took the lead and led about 90 laps until he received a pit road penalty for his crewmen over the wall to soon. Due to this, Truex regained the lead and had a 9-second lead over Kyle Busch. Truex continued on to score his fourth win of the season and second at Dover.

Round 30: Bank of America 500

Kevin Harvick started on pole. Due to rain from Hurricane Matthew, the race was postponed from Saturday night until Sunday afternoon. Multiple drivers had problems during the race. Pole-sitter Harvick had electrical problems, which took him out of the race. Joey Logano would hit the wall hard and have to go to the garage, but was able to get back on the track 78 laps down. Rookie BJ Fisher had a dominant car until he was taken out of the race from a wreck on a restart when Austin Dillon couldn't get going and spun out taking out Fisher, Brian Scott, and Paul Menard. Denny Hamlin also had a dominant car, but blew an engine late in the race. Martin Truex Jr. couldn't accelerate of pit road and lost some spots. Chase Elliott had a dominant car as well and he was able to hold off Matt Kenseth to get his third win of the season.

Round 31: Hollywood Bank 400

Matt Kenseth started on pole. Kenseth led early until he got into the wall. Kevin Harvick took the lead and led until Chase Elliott took the lead. Elliott had a tire rub and lost the lead. Martin Truex Jr. had a great race until his team didn't get enough fuel in the car and then began experiencing fuel cell issues. Brad Keselowski was running in the top 10 when he made contact with Denny Hamlin and went spinning in the grass, destroying the front end of his car. Carl Edwards got the lead and led some laps. Keselowski was able to get back on the track, but his engine expired when he returned to the race. Autsin Dillon took two tires on pit road and getting off before Edwards. Regan Smith slammed into the wall, bringing out the caution. On the restart, Tony Stewart took the lead from Edwards and held him off to score his seventh win of the season.

Round 32: Iowa Corn 400

Martin Truex Jr. started on pole. Truex led 144 laps of the race. During the race, Chase contenders Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin made contact sending Johnson to pit road with left-front damage. Matt Kenseth found his way to the lead and led the most laps. Carl Edwards had a tire go down and it brought out the caution, creating scoring issues. On the restart, Johnson took the lead from Hamlin and led the rest of the race and got his second win of the season.

Round 33: AAA Texas 500

Austin Dillon won the pole. The race was delayed due to rain, but it would eventually start over six hours late, but there was a problem. NBC had committed to showing an NFL game that evening, and NBCSN also had a committment. Therefore, the race was moved to Fox, who scrambled to bring in their Cup broadcasting team (ultimately, Krista Voda returned to her old position as a pit road reporter when Jamie Little was unavailable). Joey Logano dominated the race and led the most laps. Martin Truex Jr. and Carl Edwards also ran up front. Both had problems with their cars and almost took each other out on pit road. Dillon crashed into the wall after contact with Kevin Harvick and it also involved Brian Scott and Casey Mears. Edwards was able to get off pit road ahead of Truex and was holding off Logano as rain was heading towards the track. It began to rain and the race was called official and Edwards was awarded his third win of the season.

Round 34: Nintendo Switch 400

The second race at Tokyo Superspeedway, this race took place under the lights. The highlight of the day was the "big one" on lap 104, which saw Elliott Sadler flip violently against the catchfence on the backstretch. No fans were injured, and Sadler walked away unassisted. In the closing stages, Chase Elliott and Macy Waltrip resumed their battle from June, and once again, Elliott prevailed in a dead-heat photo-finish with a margin of .001 seconds, the closest finish in NASCAR history.

Round 35: Ford EcoBoost 400

Jimmie Johnson started from the tail end of the field while Kevin Harvick won the pole. Harvick had the dominant car early in the race. Championship contenders Joey Logano and Carl Edwards had led during the race. Kyle Busch had a tire go down and had to make an unscheduled pit stop and went a lap down, but gained the lap back. Kyle Larson had the dominant car in the second half of the race and led the most laps. Edwards and Kyle Busch were battling for the championship lead until Dylan Lupton brought out the caution. On the restart, Logano got a great restart and Edwards blocked Logano and caused Edwards to crash into the wall and end his championship hopes in a multicar wreck that brought out the red flag. On the restart, Logano got up to third and the caution came out for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. In an overtime finish, Johnson took the lead from Larson and won the race for his first career victory at Homestead.

Round 36: Hellmann's 500

Originally scheduled for October 23, persistent rains and severe thunderstorms forced NASCAR to delay the race to the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Fortunately for all concerned, it was a clear and pleasant day. Going into the race, six drivers were mathematically eligible for the championship: Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Macy Waltrip, and Martin Truex Jr. Truex started on pole. Truex didn't last long in the race because his engine expired early, ending his championship hopes. A wreck took place which involved Greg Biffle, Jefffrey Earnhardt, and Casey Mears. Kevin Harvick dominated the race. However, debris on the grille caused Harvick to overheat and his engine finally expired. After Harvick was taken out, Tony Stewart took control over the race. Kasey Kahne crashed late in the race, setting up a restart. On the restart, Alex Bowman spun, sending the race into overtime. On the final lap, everything happened at once. Coming into the trioval, Chase Elliott and Macy Waltrip, battling for second, banged each other too hard, starting the "big one", which sent Jimmie Johnson into a crash eerily similar to Geoff Bodine's crash in the Truck Series race at Daytona in 2000. Johnson's car was hit by several other cars, before coming to rest in a pile of scrap. Amazingly, Johnson emerged from the car and walked away unassisted. Meanwhile, Tony Stewart had won the race, and his fifth championship. It is often said to be the most memorable season finale since 1992.

Race results

No. Race Pole Position Most Laps Led Winning driver Manufacturer/Model
1 Harley-Davidson 250 Kyle Busch Kevin Harvick Jamie McMurray Dodge Challenger
Sprint Unlimited Jimmie Johnson Denny Hamlin Denny Hamlin Toyota Camry
Budweiser Duel 1 Chase Elliott Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Camaro
Budweiser Duel 2 Matt Kenseth Kyle Busch Kyle Busch Toyota Camry
2 Daytona 500 Chase Elliott Denny Hamlin Denny Hamlin Toyota Camry
3 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Kurt Busch Kevin Harvick Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Camaro
4 Kobalt 400 Kelley Walker Jimmie Johnson Tony Stewart Chevrolet Camaro
5 Good Sam 500 Kyle Busch Rodney Clay Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Camaro
6 Auto Club 400 Austin Dillon Kevin Harvick Danica Patrick Chevrolet Camaro
7 STP 500 Joey Logano Kyle Busch Kyle Busch Toyota Camry
8 Sunoco 400 Carl Edwards Macy Waltrip Macy Waltrip Chevrolet Camaro
9 Food City 500 Carl Edwards Carl Edwards Carl Edwards Toyota Camry
10 Toyota Owners 400 Kevin Harvick Carl Edwards Tony Stewart Chevrolet Camaro
11 GEICO 500 Chase Elliott Brad Keselowski Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Camaro
12 Tyson Holly Farms 400 Martin Truex Jr. Martin Truex Jr. Macy Waltrip Chevrolet Camaro
13 AAA Drive for Autism 400 Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick Matt Kenseth Toyota Camry
NASCAR Sprint Showdown Chase Elliott Chase Elliott Kyle Larson Dodge Challenger
NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Kevin Harvick Brad Keselowski Kyle Larson Dodge Challenger
14 Coca-Cola 600 Martin Truex Jr. Martin Truex Jr. Martin Truex Jr. BMW M3
Tokyo Late Model Classic Richard Petty Tony Stewart Cale Yarborough Chevrolet Monte Carlo
15 Tokyo 500 Brad Keselowski Chase Elliott Chase Elliott Chevrolet Camaro
16 Toyota/Save Mart 350 Carl Edwards Denny Hamlin Tony Stewart Chevrolet Camaro
17 Coke Zero 400 Greg Biffle Tony Stewart Tony Stewart Chevrolet Camaro
18 Quaker State 400 Tony Stewart Kevin Harvick Dakoda Armstrong Buick Regal
19 New Hampshire 301 Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick Tony Stewart Chevrolet Camaro
20

Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded 400 at the Brickyard

Kyle Busch Kyle Busch Chase Elliott Chevrolet Camaro
21 Pennsylvania 400 Martin Truex Jr. Joey Logano Chris Buescher Gen-6 Ford Fusion
22 Cheez-It 355 At The Glen Carl Edwards Brad Keselowski Tony Stewart Chevrolet Camaro
23 Bass Pro Shops Night Race Carl Edwards Kyle Busch Chase Elliott Chevrolet Camaro
24 Pure Michigan 400 Joey Logano Kyle Larson Kyle Larson Dodge Challenger
25 Southern 500 Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick Chase Elliott Chevrolet Camaro
26 Federated Auto Parts 400 Denny Hamlin Martin Truex Jr. Denny Hamlin Toyota Camry
27 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 Tony Stewart Jimmie Johnson Macy Waltrip Chevrolet Camaro
28 Moana 400 Carl Edwards Martin Truex Jr. Danica Patrick Chevrolet Camaro
29 Citizen Soldier 400 Macy Waltrip Martin Truex Jr. Martin Truex Jr. BMW M3
30 Bank of America 500 Kevin Harvick BJ Fisher Chase Elliott Chevrolet Camaro
31 Hollywood Casino 400 Matt Kenseth Matt Kenseth Tony Stewart Chevrolet Camaro
32 Iowa Corn 400 Martin Truex Jr. Matt Kenseth Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Camaro
33 AAA Texas 500 Austin Dillon Joey Logano Carl Edwards Toyota Camry
34 Nintendo Switch 400 Ryan Newman Chase Elliott Chase Elliott Chevrolet Camaro
35 Ford EcoBoost 400 Kevin Harvick Kyle Larson Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Camaro
36 Hellmann's 500 Martin Truex Jr. Brad Keselowski Tony Stewart Chevrolet Camaro