2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (Johnsonverse)

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Tony Stewart, the 2014 champion.

The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was the 66th season of professional stock car racing in the United States and the 43rd modern-era Cup season. The season began at Road America, with the Harley-Davidson 250, followed by the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. The season ended with the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

This season was the final year of broadcasting for both the Johnson-owned ESPN family of networks (though it has continued to air races occasionally) and Turner Sports, as well as the first season of broadcasting for WBC for select races. ESPN had covered the second half of the Sprint Cup season since 2007, while Turner Sports ended a thirty-one year relationship with NASCAR on TSS and later TNT. For 2015, their portions of the season were divided between Fox Sports and NBC, with WBC expanding their lineup of races.

This season also marked the first season of the Strictly Stock Car (SSC), which replaced the controversial Car of Tomorrow, as well as the entry of Honda. Furthermore, the series returned to Rockingham for the first time since 2004, and North Wilkesboro Speedway for the first time since 1996, and added the new Walt Disney World Speedway and Iowa Speedway.

Tony Stewart and Stewart-Haas Racing claimed the drivers' championship and owners' championship, while Chevrolet won the manufacturer's championship; Dodge finished second in manufacturer's points for the first time; indeed, Chevrolet was the most dominant manufacturer of the season, with Dodge also getting five wins, Ford only getting one, while Toyota, in a shocking upset, only managed to win the Sprint Unlimited and both Duel races, neither of them points-paying races; Honda, being new to NASCAR, struggled all year, but did get a win in the Sprint Showdown, as well as multiple top-10 finishes thanks to Michael Waltrip Racing's strong performance. In one of the largest rookie classes in recent history, Austin Dillon was named Rookie of the Year.

Teams and drivers

Complete Schedule

There were 41 full-time teams in 2014. A * indicates that manufacturer's factory team, through which all other teams with that manufacturer get support.

Manufacturer Team No. Race Driver Model Sponsor(s)
Chevrolet Chip Ganassi Racing 1 Jamie McMurray 2013 SS (1)

Camaro (36)

42 Kyle Larson (R)
Furniture Row Racing 78 Martin Truex Jr. 2012 Impala (1)

2014 Impala (36)

Hendrick Motorsports * 5 Kasey Kahne 2013 SS (1)

Camaro (36)

24 Jeff Gordon
48 Jimmie Johnson
88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
JTG Daugherty Racing 47 AJ Allmendinger 2013 SS (1)

Impala (36)

Richard Childress Racing 3 Austin Dillon (R) 2013 SS (1)

Camaro (36)

27 Paul Menard
31 Ryan Newman
Stewart-Haas Racing 4 Kevin Harvick 2013 Gen-4 Impala (1)

Camaro (36)

10 Danica Patrick
14 Tony Stewart
41 Kurt Busch
Tommy Baldwin Racing 7 Michael Annett (R) 2013 SS (1)

Impala (36)

36 Reed Sorenson
Dodge Team Penske * 2 Brad Keselowski 2013 Gen-4 Charger (1)

2014 Charger (36)

22 Joey Logano
Richard Petty Motorsports 9 Marcos Ambrose 2013 Nationwide Challenger (1)

2014 Challenger (36)

43 Aric Almirola
Ford Front Row Motorsports 34 David Ragan 2013 Fusion (1)

Mustang (36)

38 David Gilliland
Go FAS Racing 32 Terry Labonte (5) 2012 Fusion (1)

2014 Fusion (36)

Travis Kvapil (16)
Blake Koch (4)
Boris Said (3)
JJ Yeley (3)
Joey Gase (4)
Timmy Hill (1)
Kyle Fowler (1)
Roush Fenway Racing * 16 Greg Biffle 2013 Fusion (1)

Roush Mustang (36)

17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
99 Carl Edwards
Honda HScott Motorsports 51 Justin Allgaier Generic Honda (1)

Civic (36)

Michael Waltrip Racing * 15 Clint Bowyer Generic Honda (1)

Accord (36)

55 Brian Vickers
Toyota BK Racing 23 Alex Bowman (R) 2013 Camry (1)

2014 Camry (36)

26 Cole Whitt (R)
83 Ryan Truex (R) (27)

JJ Yeley (8)

Travis Kvapil (2)

Joe Gibbs Racing * 11 Denny Hamlin (36)
Sam Hornish Jr. (1)
18 Kyle Busch
20 Matt Kenseth
Chevrolet (8)

Dodge (29)

Richard Childress Racing (8)

Hillman-Circle Sport LLC (29)

33 (26)

90 (1)

Brian Scott (6) Camaro (8)

Challenger (29)

Ty Dillon (2)
Timmy Hill (7)
David Stremme (1)
Alex Kennedy (5)
Bobby Labonte (1)
Morgan Shepard (1)
Travis Kvapil (3)
40 Landon Cassill
Chevrolet (1)

Dodge (36)

Germain Racing 13 Casey Mears 2013 SS (1)

Charger (36)

Toyota (31)

Honda (6)

Identity Ventures Racing (31)

Michael Waltrip Racing (6)

66 Michael Waltrip (5) Camry (31)

Accord (6)

Joe Nemechek (16)
Jeff Burton (2)
Brett Moffitt (8)
Timmy Hill (1)
Tomy Drissi (1)
Mike Wallace (5)
Ford (5)

Dodge (32)

Phil Parsons Racing 98 Josh Wise Fusion (5)

Challenger (32)

Limited Schedule

Manufacturer Team No. Race Driver Model Rounds
Chevrolet Beard Motorsports 75 Clay Rogers 2013 SS 2
Team XTREME Racing 44 JJ Yeley 2013 Gen-4 Impala (1)

Camaro (11)

10
Timmy Hill 2
Tommy Baldwin Racing 37 Bobby Labonte 2012 CoT Impala (1)

2014 SSC Impala (10)

1
Dave Blaney 3
Mike Bliss 7
Ford Front Row Motorsports 35 Eric McClure 2013 Fusion 2
Blake Koch 3
David Reutimann 6
Roush Fenway Racing 6 Trevor Bayne Roush Mustang 1
Wood Brothers Racing 21 Trevor Bayne 2013 CoT Fusion (1)

2014 Fusion (20)

21
Toyota BK Racing 93 Morgan Shepherd 2013 Gen-4 Camry (1)

2014 SSC Camry (6)

1
Mike Bliss 2
Johnny Sauter 1
JJ Yeley 1
Clay Rogers 2
Identity Ventures Racing 49 Mike Wallace 2013 CoT Camry (1)

2014 SSC Camry (4)

1
87 Joe Nemechek 3
Morgan Shepherd 1
Timmy Hill 1
RAB Racing 29 Joe Nemechek 2013 Camry 2
Matt Crafton 1
Swan Racing 30 Parker Kligerman 2013 Camry 8
Dodge Team Penske 12 Ryan Blaney Charger 2
Juan Pablo Montoya 2
Randy Humphrey Racing 77 Dave Blaney 2013 Nationwide CoT Challenger (1)

2014 SSC Challenger (15)

12
Nelson Piquet Jr. 2
Joe Nemechek 1
Corey LaJoie 2
Honda Leavine Family Racing 95 Michael McDowell Generic Gen-4 Honda (1)

2014 SSC Civic (21)

22

Changes

Teams

  • Stewart-Haas Racing expanded to a four-car team with the addition of Kurt Busch in the No. 41. Busch previously drove the No. 78 Chevrolet for Furniture Row Racing in 2013.
  • Michael Waltrip Racing downsized from a three to two car team for 2014, when sponsor NAPA Auto Parts decided to terminate their 3-year deal after the race fixing incident at the 2013 Richmond September race, shutting down the No. 56 Toyota Camry of Martin Truex Jr.
  • With the No. 56 shut down, Michael Waltrip entered a partnership with the 2013 No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports team, to the new formed Identity Venture Motorsports in the No. 66 with Waltrip running the restrictor plate races and Joe Nemechek and various drivers running the remainder of the races.
  • Front Row Motorsports downsized from three full-time teams to two-full-time teams with the No. 35 moving to part-time. The team attempted 10 races in 2014, and used a Gen-6 Ford Fusion car due to lack of funding for a third Mustang.
  • Hillman-Circle Sports LLC expanded to two full-time teams with Landon Cassill running the full season in the new No. 40, after running part-time for the team in 2013.
  • Swan Motorsports expanded to a two-car team with the addition of Cole Whitt in the No. 26, who previously ran 7 races in Swan Racing's No. 30 in 2013. Parker Kligerman took over in the No. 30 for Swan Racing, previously running 2 races in the car in 2013. Sponsorship troubles later forced Swan Racing first use a Gen-6 Camry for the No. 30 team, and then to sell both their cars to other teams in April 2014. The No. 26 of Whitt was sold to BK Racing, who continued to run full-time in an SSC Camry, while the No. 30 assets were sold to Xxxtreme Motorsports, shutting down the No. 30 and releasing Kligerman.

Drivers

  • Kevin Harvick replaced Ryan Newman in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 39, which was renumbered to No. 4. Harvick previously drove for Richard Childress Racing in the No. 29 the previous 12 years.
  • Austin Dillon moved up to the Sprint Cup Series full-time to replace Kevin Harvick in the Richard Childress Racing No. 29, renumbered to No. 3. Announced December 11, 2013, this would make the first appearance of No. 3 in the Sprint Cup Series since the 2001 Daytona 500 and the death of Dale Earnhardt. Dillon had built a strong early career in a Childress-blessed No. 3, first in the Camping World Truck Series, then in the Nationwide Series. Childress had polled fans at the beginning of 2013 about Dillon taking No. 3, to the Sprint Cup series, which received 90% positive feedback. "That told me it was time, and if Austin wanted to it was his choice."
  • Ryan Newman replaced Jeff Burton in the Richard Childress Racing No. 31. Newman drove the No. 39 for Stewart-Haas Racing from 2009 to 2013.
  • Martin Truex Jr. replaced Kurt Busch in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78. Truex drove the No. 56 for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2013.
  • Brian Vickers became the full-time driver of the No. 55 for Michael Waltrip Racing, after running 14 races in the car in 2013.
  • Kyle Larson replaced Juan Pablo Montoya in the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing No. 42. Montoya left to return to the IndyCar Series. Larson ran full-time for Turner Scott Motorsports in the No. 32 in the Nationwide Series in 2013.
  • AJ Allmendinger replaced Bobby Labonte in the JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 car. Allmendinger ran part-time for Daughtery and Phoenix Racing in 2013.
  • Justin Allgaier replaced multiple drivers in the HScott Motorsports No. 51 car. Allgaier ran full-time for Turner Scott Motorsports in the No. 31 in the Nationwide Series in 2013.
  • Michael Annett replaced Dave Blaney in the Tommy Baldwin No. 7 car. Annett ran in the Nationwide Series for Richard Petty Motorsports in the No. 43 in 2013.
  • Reed Sorenson replaced JJ Yeley in the Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 36 car. Sorenson ran part-time for various Sprint Cup and Nationwide teams in 2013.
  • Josh Wise replaced Michael McDowell in the Phil Parsons Racing No. 98. Wise drove for Front Row Motorsports in the No. 35 in 2013.
  • Travis Kvapil and various drivers join Go FAS Racing, a team consisting of Go Green Racing and Frank Stoddard's FAS Lane Racing, for races that are not road courses (Boris Said) or restrictor plate superspeedways (Terry Labonte).
  • Alex Bowman replaced Travis Kvapil in the BK Racing No. 93 car, which was renumbered to No. 23. Bowman drove for RAB Racing in the No. 99 in the Nationwide Series in 2013.
  • Ryan Truex replaced David Reutimann in the BK RAcing No. 83 car. Truex left after the Chicagoland race in September and was replaced by JJ Yeley and Travis Kvapil.
  • Michael McDowell replaced Scott Speed and various drivers in the part-time Leavine Family Racing No. 95 car. McDowell drove the Phil Parsons Racing No. 98 in 2013.
  • JJ Yeley replaced Scott Riggs for Xxxtreme Motorsports in the part-time No. 44.

Manufacturers

  • Honda entered NASCAR competition in 2014, fielding the Accord and Civic, and landing HScott Motorsports and Michael Waltrip Racing as full-time teams, and Leavine Family Racing as a part-time team.

Track experience

  • All tracks use "stadium experience", with technology, new ideas, and fan engagement (e.g. every age fan using a cell phone app for a light show).

Schedule

The final calendar was released on October 15, 2013, comprising 37 races, as well as two exhibition races. The schedule also includes two Budweiser Duels, which are the qualifying races for the Daytona 500.

No. Race name Venue Date TV
1 Harley-Davidson 250 Road America, Lake Elkhart Fox
Sprint Unlimited Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach FS1
Budweiser Duels Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach FS1
2 Daytona 500 Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach Fox
3 The Profit on CNBC 500 Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale Fox
4 Kobalt 400 Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Fox
5 Food City 500 Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol Fox, FS1
6 Auto Club 400 Auto Club Speedway, Fontana Fox
7 STP 500 Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville Fox
8 Sunoco 400 Rockingham Speedway, Rockingham Fox
9 Bojangles Southern 500 Darlington Speedway, Darlington

Fox

10 Toyota Owner's 400 Richmond International Raceway, Richmond

Fox

11 Aaron's 499 Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega WBC
12 Tyson Holly Farms 400 North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Wilksboro Fox
Sprint Showdown Charlotte Motor Speedway, Charlotte FS1
Sprint All-Star Race Charlotte Motor Speedway, Charlotte FS1
13 Coca-Cola 600 Charlotte Motor Speedway, Charlotte WBC
14 FedEx 400 Dover International Raceway, Dover Fox
15 Pocono 400 Pocono Raceway, Long Pond WBC
16 Quicken Loans 400 Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn WBC
17 Toyota/Save Mart 350 Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma WBC
18 Quaker State 400 Kentucky Speedway, Sparta TNT
19 Coke Zero 400 Daytona International Speedway, Daytona WBC
20 Camping World RV Sales 301 New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon TNT
21 Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway WBC
22 Gobowling.com 400 Pocono Raceway, Pocono WBC
23 Cheez-It 355 At The Glen Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen WBC
24 Pure Michigan 400 Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn WBC
25 Irwin Tools Night Race Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol ABC
26 Oral-B USA 500 Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton ESPN
27 Federated Auto Parts 400 Richmond International Raceway, Richmond ABC
28 MyAFibStory.com 400 Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet ESPN
29 Big Hero 6 500 Walt Disney World Speedway, Lake Buena Vista WBC
30 AAA 400 Dover International Speedway, Dover ESPN
31 Hollywood Casino 400 Kansas Speedway, Kansas City ESPN
32 Bank of America 500 Charlotte Motor Speedway, Charlotte WBC
33 GEICO 500 Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega WBC
34 Iowa Corn 400 Iowa Speedway, Newton WBC
35 AAA Texas 500 Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth ESPN
36 Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale ESPN
37 Ford EcoBoost 400 Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead ESPN

Changes

Massive changes were made not just to the series, but NASCAR as a whole, and altered the operation and public perception of the organization, as well as how the organization is run.

New Management

NASCAR had been acquired by Johnson Industries in 2009, and allowed it to remain autonomous, as Sheldon Johnson, Jr. gave NASCAR "another chance". However, poor decisions by Brian France and Mike Helton slowly saw Johnson take control. The last straw, though, was when Johnson Industries CEO Tim Johnson's girlfriend (now wife) Belle Armstrong complained about the quality of the racing in the 2012 Daytona 500, saying it was "boring" aside from Juan Pablo Montoya's infamous run-in with the jet dryer. Immediately following the Ford EcoBoost 400 in 2013, both France and Helton were fired, leaving Tim in control of the sanctioning body, quoting the two as "people who can barely run a car mechanic, much less a major racing organization", and began planning changes that "not even the least serious fans will ever forget".

New Car

A rough mock-up of an SSC’s appearance

A new car, known officially as the Strictly Stock Car (SSC), and unofficially as the Gen-6 car, was introduced in 2014, but not necessarily mandatory. The new car was the culmination of five years of development starting in 2010, first by redesigning the much-maligned Car of Tomorrow in 2011, then introducing a new body for the CoT in 2013 to act as a transition to the SSC, and finally introducing the SSC in 2014.

In reality, the SSC isn't really a new car more than it is a modernized version of the second-generation cars run between 1967 and 1980, as the cars have modifications to the chassis, engine, and interior, but are still visually identical to their showroom counterparts. Private engine builders were banned in favor of having the manufacturers build engines, often being race-spec stock engines (Toyota and Honda had to develop brand-new engines for use in the SSC, while Chevrolet, Ford, and Dodge adapted their existing engines). The windshield changes from the 2013 CoT were carried over to the SSC.

The SSC was designed specifically to fit the Gen 4 chassis, which resulted in the car sounding identical to it. Engines and body panels come directly from the manufacturer, and are distributed from a designated factory team (usually whichever team finished highest in points the previous season); for 2014, the factory teams were Hendrick Motorsports for Chevrolet, Roush Fenway Racing for Ford, Joe Gibbs Racing for Toyota, Team Penske for Dodge, and Michael Waltrip Racing for Honda.

The rules were also changed so that manufacturers could run multiple models on the track. All manufacturers field two models, except Toyota, which does not have a suitable model other than the Camry (of the other two suitable models in the lineup at the time, the Corolla could not be adapted to the Gen 4 chassis, and the Crown was only sold in Asian markets, having not been exported to the contiguous United States since 1973); Toyota eventually began fielding the Avalon alongside the Camry in 2019). In terms of models used:

  • Chevrolet fields the Camaro and Impala, with the Camaro being temporarily banned after the Coke Zero 400 Tragedy
  • Ford fields the Mustang and Fusion, with Roush fielding its own variant of the Mustang
  • Dodge fields the Charger and Challenger, and also offered the Dart at short track and road course races
  • As noted above, Toyota only fields the Camry
  • Honda fields the Accord and Civic

The SSC received universal acclaim from fans and drivers (with at least one driver, Tony Stewart, crediting the car for bringing him renewed confidence and making him even more dominant than ever), and the intense competition between manufacturers resurrected the old adage "race on Sunday, sell on Monday". Despite this, several small teams continued using the 2013 CoT, forcing NASCAR to maintain a separate rule package for these holdouts; this mirrored a similar situation in 2013 when several smaller teams used older Car of Tomorrow and fourth-generation bodystyles, with Stewart-Haas going to the Gen-4 Impala, as Tony Stewart disapproved of the new body due to its boxy shape, and Penske continuing to field 2012 Dodge Chargers (as NASCAR had greatly loosened body rules in 2011 for both the Cup and Nationwide Series, which saw CoTs and Gen-4 cars racing side-by-side, except at Daytona and Talladega where the Gen-4 car was mandatory for all teams), which saw both run roughshod over the competition at aero-sensitive tracks, netting Ryan Newman his first Sprint Cup Series championship in 2013. No 2013 CoTs finished in the top ten in 2014, due to a multitude of disadvantages in terms of aerodynamics, engines, and fuel capacity, as well as the CoT no longer having any factory support due to Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota focusing 100% on the SSC (Dodge had developed a Charger body for the 2013 template, but never fielded it in order to focus on developing the new Charger, Challenger, and Dart bodies; they continued supporting CoT and Gen 4 teams). All teams who switched to the SSC either sold their CoT chassis to Lend-Lease teams, or the chassis were cascaded to the Nationwide Series, where most only lasted a year before the SSC was introduced in the Nationwide (now Busch) Series in 2015 (like in the Cup Series, several smaller Busch Series teams still use the Nationwide CoT to cut costs). Most CoT chassis are now run by regional and local stock car leagues and clubs, often with different bodies than the ones they bore in NASCAR competition. Any chassis that weren't sold or cascaded either still run in the Cup and Busch Series, donated to museums, sold to private collectors, or were outright scrapped or recycled (for example, in 2014, the axles for the Hendrick Camaros came off of their old CoT chassis dating back to 2009; they switched to factory-supplied axles in 2015).

The SSC was not ready until Speedweeks, so for the Harley-Davidson 250 at Road America, almost all teams used the cars they had run the previous season. There were a few exceptions to this, such as Richard Petty Motorsports using Dodge Challenger bodies made for the Nationwide Series, and the Honda teams taking 2013 Gen-4 Nationwide Series Toyota bodies and rebadging them as generic Hondas.

Rules changes

Beginning this year, NASCAR eliminated traditional single car qualifying in its top 3 series for all races except the Daytona 500, the Mudsummer Classic, and non-points events. Qualifying will now be done with heat races. Qualifying will consist of all entered cars in 4 heat races. The first and third races determine the inside row, while the second and fourth races determine the outside row. Starting positions in heat races are based on practice times. On the day before the race, a B-main race is held, with the top three finishers moving on to the main race. A system involving groups of cars being released at five-second intervals was used at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International in 2013.

Another major change was the banning of coil-binding, and a rigid inspection process to ensure crew chiefs weren't cheating the system by binding the coils.

Body rules were tightened to ensure teams weren't trying to create artificial aerodynamic advantages. Splitters can only be used on Gen-6 cars, as they tended to dig into grass and cause front-end damage, a common criticism; all SSCs have air dams like those used on Gen-4 cars. Spoilers on SSCs must be completely solid, with no gaps that could render the roof flaps useless and cause cars to go airborne, a common failing of the 2007-2010 CoTs that caused several spectacular wrecks at Talladega and Atlanta. Finally, bodywork must be symmetrical, with no flaring; teams managed to exploit a loophole saying the front fenders couldn't be flared, as nothing in the rulebook mentioned the rear fenders (Tim later admitted it was because he didn't have a firm grasp on the aerodynamics of the SSC, and that the Gen-6 was too boxy to benefit from any flaring when up against the SSC).

Finally, the field was expanded from 43 to 46 cars, after NASCAR introduced the Lend-Lease Program (not to be confused with a World War II-era program of the same name), allowing one-off and local entries into races. These homegrown entries often use cars straight from the showroom, as well as older car models, since there are no rules mandating that Lend-Lease teams use the SSC; the rules forbid the use of hatchbacks, vans, minivans, SUVs, pickup trucks, convertibles, cars with a rotary engine, hybrids, electrics, open-wheeled cars like IndyCars or Formula 1 cars, Daytona or Le Mans Prototypes, Whelen Modified cars, dirt stocks, super stocks, mini stocks, supercars, exotics, really old cars (the rulebook specifically calls out the Ford Model T and any AMC cars), steam-powered cars, horse-drawn chariots (a rule added after an amusing incident at the 2015 Southern 500 where a driver attempted to enter a replica Roman chariot drawn by a horse, which was rejected on animal welfare grounds; the incident quickly became an internet meme, with many fans jokingly calling for a "NASCAR Chariot Series"), race horses in general, anything remotely resembling a go-kart (several ignorant drivers tried entering go-karts with nitrous bottles attached so they could remain competitive; all were rejected on safety grounds), drag racers (again, ignorant drivers have tried entering ex-NHRA and NASCAR Nintendo Racing Series cars, all of which were rejected for having absolutely no handling to speak of at speed, and having an unfair aerodynamic advantage over the SSC), any pre-2011 Cars of Tomorrow, and anything remotely resembling a potential lemon. For example, at the Daytona 500, one entry was a Gen-3 Ford Thunderbird dating back to 1990, driven by Bill Elliott, who managed to take the car to a 6th-place finish, his first top ten finish since 2004. In another example, a two-car team using Plymouth Superbirds (one of them having been driven by Richard Petty) entered the Aaron's 499; one car driven by Kyle Petty was involved in the "big one", while the other, driven by Cale Yarborough, who owned the team, cruised to a 4th-place finish. Despite criticisms regarding the use of such aerodynamic cars, NASCAR has done nothing, with Tim Johnson saying he loves the variety of cars.

Elimination of Chase Format

One of the biggest changes for the 2014 season was the complete elimination of the controversial Chase format, returning to the old 1972-2003 Winston Cup points system. Tim Johnson stated in a press conference that the Chase format "was created primarily to create artificial drama and manipulate the championship in favor of whatever driver they (Brian France and Mike Helton) wanted to hawk merchandise of", and that a new Chase format was to have been implemented by France and Helton in 2014; the new format would have involved a sixteen driver field, with the bottom four drivers being eliminated every three races, the rounds being named Challenger 16, Contender 12, Eliminator 8, and Championship 4, and the championship going to the highest-finishing driver at Homestead. Johnson scrapped this new format, as well as the entire Chase format, to restore fair play, especially in light of the Spingate controversy at the Federated Auto Parts 400.

2014 NASCAR realignment

The 2014 schedule had several sweeping changes from the 2013 schedule. Among the biggest changes were:

  • The return of Rockingham Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway, replacing Texas and Kansas' spring dates
  • The introduction of Road America, Walt Disney World Speedway (a new facility built near US 192, with the old track being demolished in August 2015; the new facility is also a restrictor-plate track, adding a fifth plate race to the schedule), and Iowa Speedway to the schedule, with Walt Disney World replacing New Hampshire's fall date, Iowa replacing Martinsville's fall date, and Road America being run on the last weekend of January, the first time the Daytona 500 wasn't the first points race of the season since 1981

In addition, dates for the spring races at Darlington Speedway and Kansas Speedway/North Wilkesboro Speedway (Bojangles' Southern 500 and Tyson Holly Farms 400, respectively) were swapped, the Sunoco 400 (the old Texas spring date) and Martinsville Speedway's STP 500 were moved up a week, the new Darlington date moved to Texas's original spot on the schedule, and the spring off-weekend moved to Kansas' original date, to coincide with Easter.

Broadcasting Changes

Due to coming under full Johnson control, select races were moved to Johnson-owned WBC. These included all restrictor-plate races except the Daytona 500, all races at Charlotte, Pocono, and Michigan, all road course races except Road America (which would move to WBC in 2015), Walt Disney World, Iowa, and the Brickyard 400. The WBC broadcast team for 2014 consisted of longtime WBC news anchor Tom Stephenson as host, former NASCAR on CBS broadcasters Ken Squier (who was also the pre-race host), Ned Jarrett, David Hobbs, and Buddy Baker in the booth, and Brock Yates, Dr. Jerry Punch, Ralph Sheheen, Marty Snider, Jamie Little, Bill Stephens, Mike Joy, Dick Berggren, and Bill Weber on pit road, with Allen Bestwick as the post-race host, and Kyle Petty and Dave Despain as analysts.

Other changes

NASCAR restructured the penalties and appeals system allowing penalties to be more consistent. The appeals process also makes NASCAR's basis for issuing the penalty public at the first appeal instead of the last. After a six-hour delay at the first Chase race in 2013 at Chicagoland, NASCAR will now make the Air Titan available at all Sprint Cup Series races and accompanying races at no extra charge. The Air Titan has also been improved to Air Titan 2.0 shortening track drying time even further.

Season summary

Race Reports

Round 1: Harley-Davidson 250

The first NASCAR race held in January since 1981 and the first Cup Series race run at Road America since 1956, the season-opener at Road America took NASCAR nation by surprise, on account of the amount of on-track passing. Because the Strictly Stock Car (SSC) was not yet ready, almost all teams used the cars they had run in 2013 (Richard Petty Motorsports ran Nationwide CoT Dodge Challengers, and the Honda teams ran generically-badged Gen-4 Hondas). Ultimately, Carl Edwards would get his first win of the season, a win that would ultimately be Ford's only win of the season. Danica Patrick finished third, her first top-five finish.

Aside from being the first race under Johnson, it is also notable for having the US national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner", being sung by none other than Tim Johnson, who was praised for his singing, as a commemoration of the first race since Johnson took full control of NASCAR at the end of 2013.

Speedweeks 2014

Speedweeks 2014 kicked off with the Sprint Unlimited, marking the competitive debut of the hotly-anticipated Strictly Stock Car. Denny Hamlin started on pole and won all three segments in a bizarre race that featured 10 of the 18 cars crashing out, along with three more being damaged, and the pace car catching on fire. Hamlin led 27 of the 75 laps and won the race ahead of Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, and Joey Logano.

Qualifying for the front row took place the next day, with rookie Austin Dillon, fielding the famed No. 3 car, appearing for the first time since the 2001 Daytona 500, winning the pole. Martin Truex Jr. won the outside pole.

During the first practice session on Wednesday, a five-car wreck happened and ended with rookie Parker Kligerman on his roof; several teams had to use back-up cars. The wreck brought out a red flag that prematurely ended the session. The second session was run without major incident.

The Budweiser Duels were fairly uneventful, with Matt Kenseth winning the first race that ran caution-free, and Denny Hamlin winning the second that had only one caution–a large wreck on the last lap that started when Jimmie Johnson ran out of fuel. Jamie McMurray, Martin Truex Jr., and Michael Waltrip, among others, were involved. Clint Bowyer flipped his car during the accident.

Round 2: Daytona 500

Austin Dillon started on pole, but led only the first lap. The first 35 laps featured 13 different leaders, demonstrating the capabilities of the SSC, and Kyle Larson struggling with two flat tires. During the second caution for an engine problem on Martin Truex Jr.'s car, it began to rain, and by lap 39, the red flag was displayed with Kyle Busch as the leader. The red flag lasted over six hours as track-drying was delayed due to ongoing rain showers, including severe thunderstorms and even a tornado warning. The race went back green under the lights, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. dominated the final part of the race. The "big one" broke out with 15 laps to go, sending Jimmie Johnson into a barrel roll, a crash considered the worst in the Daytona 500 since Scott Wimmer's flip in 2005. After the last restart, Tony Stewart would pass Earnhardt Jr. with three laps to go and hold him off to finally win the Daytona 500 after 15 years of trying, the most anticipated event in racing since Dale Earnhardt winning the 1998 Daytona 500. Tony Stewart was in tears in victory lane, having finally won the race that had given him so much grief in the past, especially given that this was his 50th career win. The race was also the first win for the Chevrolet Camaro at the Cup level, having been run in the Nationwide Series since 2010. A Gen-3 Ford Thunderbird driven by Bill Elliott (under the new NASCAR Lend-Lease Program) came home 6th. In 2017, this race was identified as jump-starting NASCAR's resurgence in popularity.

Round 3: The Profit on CNBC 500

Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano took the front row for Team Penske, but Kevin Harvick dominated most of the race. Harvick would hang on to win the race, his first for with his new team, Stewart-Haas Racing. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished in second.

Round 4: Kobalt Tools 400

Joey Logano took the pole, and after a race with several different strategies and leaders, Dale Earnhardt Jr. found himself in the lead trying to make it to the finish on fuel mileage. However, Earnhardt and Brad Keselowski, while battling for the lead, both wrecked themselves going into turn 3 on the last lap, allowing the third-place car of Danica Patrick to take the checkers. Patrick became the first woman to win in NASCAR competition since Shawna Robinson did so in the Goody's Dash Series in the late 1980s, as well as the first woman to ever win a Sprint Cup Series race, and massive celebrations among womens' rights groups were reported nationwide.

Round 5: Food City 500

The race started on time, but, just like the Daytona 500, rain delayed the race in the early going. The race finally got restarted under the lights several hours later. After many of the frontrunners, including Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Jimmie Johnson, suffered from numerous problems, Carl Edwards found himself up front late in the race. Edwards ultimately lost the lead to a charging Tony Stewart on the Green-White-Checkered finish, giving Stewart his second win of the season, and Stewart-Haas Racing's fourth win in a row.

Round 6: Auto Club 400

Matt Kenseth started on pole, but gave way to Brad Keselowski, who started on the front row and had the fastest car at the beginning. After he led 38 laps. Jimmie Johnson would take over the lead, leading 104 of the race's 200 laps. Many cautions waved during the race because of drivers repeatedly cutting down left side tires. Kenseth had the first pit box and would take advantage of it a few times, coming out in the lead. Kenseth would lead three or four laps after the restarts, then Johnson would pass him as Kenseth's car faded back. With seven laps remaining, Johnson had a left-front tire go down, giving the lead to his teammate Jeff Gordon. Keselowski suffered his third left-rear tire failure a lap later but stayed out of harm’s way. The same fate befell Marcos Ambrose on the same lap. Gordon, who had a large lead, slowed his pace and almost made it to the finish, but Clint Bowyer spun with a lap and a half to go, thanks to a flat left-rear tire. The caution waved to set up the green-white-checker finish. On the restart, Gordon got shuffled back to finish in 13th. Kyle Busch passed Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch (both of whom only took two tires during pit stops), bringing rookie Kyle Larson with him. Kyle Busch couldn't hold off Larson, who won his first career Sprint Cup Series race, also bringing an end to Stewart-Haas Racing's winning streak. Kyle Busch finished second and Kurt Busch finished third. Kenseth also passed Stewart on the last lap to finish in fourth. Stewart came home fifth.

Round 7: STP 500

Kyle Busch started on pole, and he, Matt Kenseth, and Jimmie Johnson took several turns leading through the first 70 laps as Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, and others were caught up in early accidents. Joey Logano then took over the lead from Kyle Busch for a few laps, but yielded to Johnson and Kenseth. Meanwhile, Kurt Busch and Keselowski would continuously bump and race each other very hard because of an incident on pit road several laps before. This would ultimately lead to a caution for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. running up into the wall after checking up for the ongoing battle between Busch and Keselowski. Kenseth retook the lead during pit stops under the caution, but quickly yielded to Logano after the restart. After another caution and restart, Johnson took over from Logano. Johnson, Logano, Hamlin, and Kenseth all faded soon after, and after lap 165, Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose, and AJ Allmendinger became the new top-three. After another caution for a spin by Casey Mears, Ambrose won the race off of pit road to become the new leader. Kenseth and Johnson would get by Ambrose after several laps, but another caution would wave after Jamie McMurray got bumped into the wall by Dale Earnhardt Jr.. After the restart, Kenseth would lose the lead to Johnson, then fade back to tenth after getting stuck on the outside.

Caution number seven waved around lap 220, after David Gilliland turned Alex Bowman into the wall, and Bowman collected Ambrose, bizarrely sending Bowman on his roof. After a red flag, Earnhardt, Allmendinger, and Kurt Busch stayed out, but everyone else pitted, with Logano coming off of pit road first. After another quick caution and restart for debris, Kurt Busch took the lead from Earnhardt on lap 243, and Johnson took over from Busch two laps later. The ninth caution waved at lap 250 after Ryan Truex got turned into the wall, and all of the leaders made pit stops. Kenseth, however, stayed out and reassumed the lead, with Tony Stewart taking second. Johnson and Earnhardt would come out of pit road first to restart third and fourth, respectively. Earnhardt took the lead on lap 260, Johnson took over once again on lap 265, and then Clint Bowyer charged to the front and took the lead on lap 284 (the first laps led by a Honda in NASCAR) but gave it back to Johnson four laps later and faded back a bit. Meanwhile, Kenseth and Stewart, who both stayed out during the previous caution, would fall back quickly, with Kenseth being lapped on lap 304 and Stewart losing a lap ten laps later. Other drivers had problems as well, with Alex Bowman cutting a tire and Denny Hamlin getting a windshield tear-off stuck over the opening to his left-front brake duct. Lap 316 saw the tenth caution as Joe Nemechek slammed the wall, and all of the leaders pitted and retained their positions. The eleventh caution flew on lap 341 as 20th-place Kyle Larson spun out of turn two, and the leaders pitted once again, with Johnson and Bowyer keeping their first and second-place positions. Bowyer nosed ahead on the restart and led a lap, but Johnson retook the lead the next lap as another caution waved for debris. Edwards would nose ahead on the next restart but fail to lead a lap before Johnson pulled away. The 13th caution flew on lap 411 as Brad Keselowski spun Martin Truex Jr. in turn two, and on the ensuing pit stops, an exiting Edwards hit an entering Matt Kenseth, spinning Kenseth around backwards into his pit stall. Johnson retained the lead on the restart, ahead of Bowyer and Edwards. Kurt Busch would then move up second and challenge Johnson but fell back and was passed by Bowyer. Bowyer then chased Johnson down, and, after a slip by Johnson, took the lead on lap 449. On lap 459, Carl Edwards spun to bring out the 14th caution, and Bowyer fell back to tenth during pit stops, allowing Johnson to retake the lead ahead of Joey Logano. Johnson barely retained the lead on the lap 465 restart, but began to pull away as Kurt Busch slipped into second. Busch would then run down and pass Johnson in about five laps, but Johnson would once again retake the lead on lap 482, with that pass setting a new track record with 32 lead changes. Busch retook the lead on lap 488 (the 33rd lead change) and held off Johnson to break a winless drought dating back to the 2011 AAA 500 at Dover, ironically another race that Johnson led the most laps in but was beaten late by Busch. Earnhardt finished third, Joey Logano fourth, Marcos Ambrose fifth, and Matt Kenseth sixth.

Round 8: Sunoco 400

NASCAR's big return to Rockingham was also an exciting race. As over half the field had never raced at the Rock, several multi-car wrecks broke out throughout the day, including one that saw Dave Blaney barrel roll down the backstretch. Through the chaos, it was Danica Patrick who scored her second win of the year. Harry Gant entered the race via the Lend-Lease Program in a Gen-3 car, coming home 21st.

Round 9: Bojangles' Southern 500

Kevin Harvick started on the pole, led the most laps, and passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson with two laps more to win his second race of the year at Darlington Raceway.

Round 10: Toyota Owners 400

Joey Logano scored his first win of the season after a nine lap battle for the win, also scoring the first victory for the Dodge Dart, and Dodge's first win of the season.

Round 11: Aaron's 499

The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race broadcast on WBC since the 1969 Rebel 400 at Darlington Raceway, the 2014 Aaron's 499 was considered one of the wildest Talladega races of all time. From blown engines, to the "big one" seeing Joey Logano barrel-rolling violently in the tri-oval, Danica Patrick seemed to be on-track to win her third race of the year, when Austin Dillon pulled off a brilliant draft-slingshot to bring the #3 back home to victory lane for the first time since 2000. In a surprising twist, a 1969 Plymouth Superbird (entered under the NASCAR Lend-Lease Program) driven by former champion Cale Yarborough managed to finish fourth. This was also Ken Squier's first play-by-play broadcast since 1999.

Round 12: Tyson Holly Farms 400

The other returnee to the schedule in 2014, the resurrected Tyson Holly Farms 400 was no different from past North Wilkesboro races. After a topsy-turvy day, Tony Stewart would win on a track he had never raced at before.

Exhibition: Sprint All-Star Race

For the first time, the Sprint Showdown was held the day before the All-Star Race, with Clint Bowyer winning and AJ Allmendinger finishing second to advance to the All-Star Race, giving Honda its first overall NASCAR win. Josh Wise was the winner of the fan vote to be the third driver to advance.

For the main race, Danica Patrick took the pole in a unique qualifying session, but Kyle Busch won the first 20-lap segment. However, he and Joey Logano crashed in the second segment, followed soon after by Allmendinger. Kasey Kahne won the second and third segments, but faded in the fourth after hitting the wall, along with Ryan Newman. Kevin Harvick would later win the fourth segment. On the restart for the last segment, which was ten laps, Tony Stewart passed Edwards and held off Harvick to win his second All-Star race.

Round 13: Coca-Cola 600

Jimmie Johnson won the pole, led the most laps, and won the race ahead of Kevin Harvick, after the latter was slowed down by pit difficulties late and could not recover in time. Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top five. Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick both suffered blown engines in the race, with Busch's engine failure ending his chance of completing all 1,100 miles (1,800 km) of the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600, an act known as "Double Duty". On a lesser note, the 2014 Coca-Cola 600 was the first time Ken Squier had broadcast the race since 2000, as the race had moved from Fox to WBC.

Round 14: FedEx 400

Brad Keselowski started on pole, but Kyle Busch led the early part of the race. Jimmie Johnson eventually passed Kyle Busch for the lead. Clint Bowyer got into Kyle Busch, who wound up hitting the wall and ending his day. Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr collided on the backstretch, also involving Landon Cassill, Ryan Truex, and Justin Allgaier. The race was red flagged in order to clean up. After the race resumed, Kevin Harvick took the lead from Johnson. Jamie McMurray hit a piece of concrete on turn two, which resulted in a second red flag in order to repair the hole in the track. The concrete ended up causing damage to the bridge over the track in that location. Initially, officials woud not allow McMurray's crew to repair the damage due to being under red-flag conditions; they reversed this ruling once they received an angry phone call from Tim Johnson, who was watching the race from his San Jose, CA home; a new rule was made following the race stating that teams were allowed to repair damage to their car under red-flag conditions if the damage was caused by anything not driver-related, such as objects thrown on the track, potholes, or anything that was either the fault of spectators, the track, or NASCAR itself. Harvick continued to lead after the red flag until having to pit for a flat tire, yielding the lead to Matt Kenseth. Johnson took the lead from Kenseth and dominated the remainder of the race, only to lose the lead to Austin Dillon in a last-lap pass that gave Dillon his second win of the season.

Round 15: Pocono 400

Denny Hamlin took the pole with a new track record, but Brad Keselowski led the most laps. Jimmie Johnson started 20th and worked up to 5th; however, his progress was stunted by a pit-road collision with Marcos Ambrose. Other contenders Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick were done in by a pit road speeding penalty and a flat tire, respectively. Kasey Kahne was then taken out after being forced up into the wall by Kyle Busch, causing a crash that also involved Carl Edwards and sent Kahne on his roof in a shower of sparks. After the final restart, Keselowski picked up a large piece of debris on his grill and got passed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. while trying to pull up behind the slower Josh Wise to remove the debris. Earnhardt would continue to lead and pick up his first career victory at Pocono.

Round 16: Quicken Loans 400

Jimmie Johnson took the lead with nine laps remaining to take his first win at Michigan International Speedway. This was his first career win at Michigan, after numerous unsuccessful attempts that ended with crashes, engine failures, or running out of fuel. "We had figured out every way to lose this race," Johnson said after winning at Michigan for the first time in 25 tries. "And today we were able to get it done. "We really were in a win-win situation," he added. "Those guys still had to come to pit road to make it to the end. Once I got an idea of how the race was unfolding, I knew we were in the catbird seat and were able to take advantage of it. When it came down to strategy in the end, which we all knew it would at Michigan, Chad nailed the strategy."

Round 17: Toyota/Save Mart 350

Danica Patrick held off a last lap charge from Jeff Gordon to win the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

Round 18: Quaker State 400

In what was an absolutely dominating performance from Stewart-Haas Racing, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick combined to lead 238 of the 267 laps and Stewart led 199 laps to win the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, his first win at the track. He described his car as "awesome" and that his crew did a "great job."

Round 19: Coke Zero 400

After a competitive race that included a "big one" with 20 laps to go that sent Matt Kenseth into a violent barrel roll on the backstretch, a truly bizarre and tragic event took place. Coming to three to go, Tony Stewart had just passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the lead, seeking to sweep Daytona as Jimmie Johnson had done the previous year. After entering the tri-oval, the lap car of Kyle Busch got loose, making contact with Kasey Kahne and somehow sending his car flying rear-first into the catchfence. Upon impact, the fuel cell on Kahne's car detonated, sending flaming debris into the grandstands and tearing Kahne's car to shreds. In the ensuing "huge one", cars scattered as Michael McDowell's Civic was weight-shifted into a barrel roll in the tri-oval grass. Kahne, meanwhile, had his seat detatch from the remains of the car's chassis, but was miraculously uninjured, demonstrating the safety of the SSC. In the grandstands, however, flaming debris killed eight fans and injured 72. The race was called off, and Tony Stewart declared the winner, completing his sweep of Daytona, but not the way he wanted. Despite the tragedy, the season continued, with the Chevrolet Camaro temporarily being banned from competition to investigate why Kahne's fuel cell exploded the way it did, especially since rubber fuel cells were introduced after the death of Fireball Roberts in 1965.

Round 20: Camping World RV 301

A week after the tragedy of the Coke Zero 400, after a solemn yet dignified memorial ceremony in the pre-race, Brad Keselowski staved off a green-white-checker charge by Kyle Busch for his first win of 2014, as well as the first win for the Dodge Charger in NASCAR since 2012. "I think it is definitely good for when we come back here in September but past success doesn't guarantee future success," he said. "We have to keep working and plugging away. I am sure a lot of guys will be stronger and hopefully we will be too." The race was also the last to be broadcast on TNT, ending the 32-year relationship between NASCAR and Turner Sports.

Round 21: Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon scored his record 5th win in the Brickyard 400 after passing Kasey Kahne on a restart with 17 laps to go. The race was dominated by a variety of pit strategies. Kasey Kahne lead the most laps in the race with 70 as Hendrick powered cars led 127 of the 160 laps. "Those emotions take over. There's nothing better, especially in a big race, coming to Victory Lane with your family here," said an emotional Gordon. "I was trying so hard with 10 to go not to focus on the crowd. I didn't want to think about it too much, but you can't help it." "Looking back, I should have chosen the (outside lane)," Kahne said. "They pretty much let Jeff control that restart. I took off and never spun a tire and the inside had been more grip throughout the race and I started on the inside and I thought it was a great decision. But I didn't spin a tire and Jeff drove right by me before we were even got to the second (restart line)." WBC broadcasters Ken Squier, Ned Jarrett, David Hobbs, and Buddy Baker were noticeably solemn during the race, this being the first WBC NASCAR broadcast since the Coke Zero 400 tragedy. This race marked the first win for the Chevrolet Impala since 2012.

Round 22: Gobowling.com 400

Despite having Tony Stewart filling his rearview mirror, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was able to maintain the lead to complete the first Pocono sweep since Denny Hamlin did it in 2006. "We definitely went home from the last race and made our car better," Earnhardt Jr. said "That's what I'm proud of this team for. It takes a really, really smart guy to understand what to do to take those gambles. Sometimes they pay off, sometimes they don't." "This hasn't been one of my better race tracks and the cars have been fast both races here," Harvick said after finishing runner-up. "Today we were able to capitalize on it and get a good finish." We had a fast car all day. Steve's strategy was perfect at the end. I don't know if anyone knew what was going on there, but it was pretty awesome."

Round 23: Cheez-It 355 At The Glen

AJ Allmendinger held off a hard charging Marcos Ambrose with two laps remaining to score his first career Sprint Cup Series victory. "My gosh, I can't believe we've won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race," Allmendinger said. "With this whole 47 team, [team owners] Tad Geschickter, Jody Geschickter, Brad Daugherty, all the great sponsors we have, our first Cup victory together, my first victory...I love these guys. I just wanted it so bad for them and this team. They work so hard. I wasn't gonna let Marcos take that from me." "First of all, congratulations to AJ and the 47 team," Ambrose said. "They deserved that win. I left nothing on the table. I tried to rattle his cage and couldn't shake him. We raced fair and square to the end there. It was a tough couple laps but it was fair. We were both giving it to each other pretty hard. No harm, no foul. We just came up a little short." The race was marred by a lengthy red flag after a crash that saw Ryan Newman hit Michael McDowell, sending McDowell into the wall and on his roof.

Round 24: Pure Michigan 400

Jeff Gordon took the lead from Joey Logano on the final restart and sailed to victory lane for the 91st time in his career. Gordon had this to say, "I got a really good restart, and I got to his quarter panel in Turn 1 and I was able to drag him back and it allowed me to get the momentum and get by him." "I had (Gordon) cleared," Logano said. "I should have pulled down in front of him. He got next to me, and I couldn't get away."

Round 25: Irwin Tools Night Race

Joey Logano took the lead with 44 laps to go and had to hold off a late race charge by Brad Keselowski to score his third win of the 2014 season. "It's awesome," Logano said in Victory Lane. "I've never won more than one race in a season, and now I've won three." "Joey just ran a great race and we were really strong in that midsection and ... we got it back a little bit on that last run," Keselowski said. "Our car was just about equal to Joey's but he just had better track position than on us." Thanks to several races being moved to WBC, this was only the first race broadcast by the ESPN crew in 2014.

Round 26: Oral-B USA 500

Tony Stewart took the lead on the second Green-White-Checker attempt and held off Matt Kenseth to score his sixth win of the season.

Round 27: Federated Auto Parts 400

Brad Keselowski led 383 laps on his way to his second win of the season. A caution was thrown on lap 330 for a drunken fan climbing the catchence.

Round 28: MyAFibStory.com 400

What would have been the Chase-Opening race at Chicagoland Speedway (as the Chase format was eliminated starting this season) started with qualifying being rained-out and Kyle Busch starting on Pole for being the fastest in first practice. Busch led 46 laps early on, but the race saw comers and goers as it saw only a few cautions for the first 3/4 of the event. Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray, Keselowski, and Kevin (who led a race-high 79 laps) took turns at the front over the course of 100 laps of green. Keselowski and Harvick both suffered loose wheels and had to start at the tail-end of the lead lap. Aric Almirola was leading on series of green flag pit stops with 30 to go when his engine blew and was forced to retire. Rookie Kyle Larson wound up taking the lead in the late going with a superior machine. With less than 10 laps to go, the final caution came out after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick got together in Turn 4. On the final restart, Larson got away easy, Harvick fell to 5th, and Larson scored his second win of the season and first at Chicagoland. Gordon beat Keselowski for 2nd, and Joey Logano blew up out of Turn 4, but streaked across the finish line up in smoke to finish 4th.

Round 29: Big Hero 6 500

In the highly-anticipated first Cup Series race at Walt Disney World Speedway, as well as the first professional motorsports event at the replacement facility, and the first professional motorsports event at Walt Disney World since 2000, Tony Stewart took off on the first Green-White-Checker attempt to score his record seventh victory of the season.

Round 30: AAA 400

Kevin Harvick started on pole and dominated most of the first half of the race. Cautions flew for debris on lap 59, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. brushing the wall on lap 76, and debris again on lap 125. Brad Keselowski took the lead from Harvick on lap 149. After a caution for JJ Yeley scraping the wall on lap 171, Harvick regained the lead. After a round of green flag pit stops, Harvick cut a tire on lap 253 and brought out the caution. Keselowski took over the race lead. Jeff Gordon took the lead from Keselowski on lap 306 and continued on for the win.

Round 31: Hollywood Casino 400

With 28 laps to go, Ryan Newman lost the lead to Tony Stewart and he held off a hard-charging Kyle Larson to score his eighth win of the season.

Round 32: Bank of America 500

The first race in which the Chevrolet Camaro was run since the Coke Zero 400 Tragedy, Kevin Harvick shot ahead of Jeff Gordon on the final restart with two laps remaining to win. Post-race, Keselowski and Hamlin were angry with one another on the cool-down lap. Keselowski made contact with Matt Kenseth on pit road, while Matt had his seatbelt unbuckled and inadvertently rear-ended Tony Stewart, who then backed into the 2 car. In the garage area, Hamlin continued to confront Keselowski by throwing a towel at him before NASCAR officials and crew members escorted Hamlin to the team trailer. While Keselowski was walking to his hauler, he was attacked from behind by Kenseth until he was pulled out by Keselowski's crew chef Paul Wolfe. All involved were given fines, but compared to previous fines, they were rather light, as Tim Johnson stated he "enjoyed natural drama".

Round 33: GEICO 500

In a stunning upset, Josh Wise held off a hard-charging Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth for his first career win, also giving Phil Parsons his first win as an owner, as well as the first Sprint Cup Series win for the Dodge Challenger.

Round 34: Iowa Corn 400

The first Cup Series race at NASCAR-owned Iowa Speedway, Austin Dillon dominated en route to his third career win.

Round 35: AAA Texas 500

Tony Stewart held off Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick to score his ninth win of the season, and with two races left in the season, clinched his fourth NASCAR Cup Series championship.

The win, however, was overshadowed by a brawl on pit road involving Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. Keselowski and Harvick were parked in the post-race impound area where the cars that finished second through sixth are held for post-race inspection. Gordon pulled his car and parked it right beside Brad's car. He got out and had a level-headed conversation with the driver of the No. 2 Ford that seemed to make him more angry. As Keselowski was putting on his Miller Lite cap, Kevin proceeded to shove him towards Gordon and all hell broke loose. Multiple pit crews from the three racing stables as well as Paul Menard's crew were involved (Keselowski's spot in the impound area was in the pit stall of the No. 27 car). ESPN's Jamie Little was caught in the middle of it. “We’re racing for the win,” said Keselowski of the on track contact. “[Wasn't trying] to wreck him, just racing hard. He left a hole and you know, everything you watch in racing, you leave a hole, you’re supposed to go for it. It closed back up and we made contact. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s day. I want to win the race and that was our opportunity. Just didn’t come together.” “I spun the tires a little bit but I got a pretty decent start and we went down into one and I just wanted to get to the outside of the 14 [Stewart] and out of nowhere, I got slammed by the 2 and it cut my left rear tire. He's just a dipsh*t," Gordon said in a nationally televised interview on ESPN. "I don't know how he's ever won a championship. I'm just sick and tired of him ... That was a huge race for Chevrolet. I'm proud of Tony Stewart for winning that race. I didn't want that you-know-what (Keselowski) to win that race. ... (Keselowski) gets himself in this position himself and as far as I'm concerned he's got to pay the consequences. … It's total crap. The kid is just doing stuff way over his head." “I'm not trying to sit here and sugarcoat it and try to be The Intimidator,’’ Keselowski said. “That's not what I'm trying to say. My expectation is if there's a gap, they'll go for it. If there's a gap, I'll go for it. If it closes up, there's contact, then that's racing. And that's what happened today. Will those guys race me hard or harder than others? Absolutely, I'm certain they will. But that's just part of it. I can't fault them for that. I just feel like I have to go for the gap if it's there, and I have to race the way I race or I won't even be in NASCAR. I'd rather have enemies in NASCAR than have friends and be sitting at home.’’ “If you’re going to drive like that, you better be willing to fight,’’ Harvick said he told Keselowski. “He was going to stand behind his guys. Jeff Gordon deserved to at least have a face-to-face conversation with him. I wasn’t standing up for anybody. (Keselowski) just ran over (Gordon). He was standing back behind all his guys, not wanting to defend what he did. I said, ‘You’re the problem, get in your own fight.’ ‘' Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's senior vice president of competition, said that series officials will review what took place to determine what, if any, penalties will be issued. “Holding onto each other and grabbing… that's one thing. When punches are landed, it's a different scenario," Pemberton said.

Round 36: Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500

Denny Hamlin started on pole. Kevin Harvick dominated the race to score the victory.

Round 37: Ford EcoBoost 400

Jeff Gordon won the pole for the race and dominated. Kevin Harvick took the lead from Denny Hamlin with 7 laps to go, but a caution forced the race to have a green-white-checkered finish. Harvick and Ryan Newman restarted on the front row. Harvick held off Newman to score his fifth win of the season. After all was said and done, Tony Stewart was officially crowned the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, his fourth career Cup Series championship, and perhaps his most dominant season, winning a record nine races, including both Daytona races and North Wilkesboro. He also became the first driver to win at least nine races in a single season since Carl Edwards in 2008.

Results

Races

No. Race Pole Position Most Laps Led Winning Driver Manufacturer/Model
1 Harley-Davidson 250 Kyle Busch Carl Edwards Carl Edwards 2013 CoT Ford Fusion
Sprint Unlimited Denny Hamlin Denny Hamlin Denny Hamlin Toyota Camry
Budweiser Duel 1 Austin Dillon Matt Kenseth Matt Kenseth Toyota Camry
Budweiser Duel 2 Martin Truex Jr. Brad Keselowski Denny Hamlin Toyota Camry
2 Daytona 500 Austin Dillon Dale Earnhardt Jr. Tony Stewart Chevrolet Camaro
3 The Profit on CNBC 500 Brad Keselowski Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Camaro
4 Kobalt 400 Joey Logano Brad Keselowski Danica Patrick Chevrolet Camaro
5 Food City 500 Denny Hamlin Matt Kenseth Tony Stewart Chevrolet Camaro
6 Auto Club 400 Matt Kenseth Jimmie Johnson Kyle Larson Chevrolet Camaro
7 STP 500 Kyle Busch Jimmie Johnson Kurt Busch Chevrolet Camaro
8 Sunoco 400 Jeff Gordon Danica Patrick Danica Patrick Chevrolet Camaro
9 Bojangles' Southern 500 Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Camaro
10 Toyota Owners 400 Kyle Larson Jeff Gordon Joey Logano Dodge Dart
11 Aaron's 499 Brian Scott Greg Biffle Austin Dillon Chevrolet Camaro
12 Tyson Holly Farms 400 Kurt Busch Tony Stewart Tony Stewart Chevrolet Camaro
NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Carl Edwards Jamie McMurray Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Camaro
13 Coca-Cola 600 Jimmie Johnson Jimmie Johnson Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Camaro
14 FedEx 400 Brad Keselowski Jimmie Johnson Austin Dillon Chevrolet Camaro
15 Pocono 400 Denny Hamlin Brad Keselowski Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Camaro
16 Quicken Loans 400 Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Camaro
17 Toyota/Save Mart 350 Jamie McMurray AJ Allmendinger Danica Patrick Chevrolet Camaro
18 Quaker State 400 Danica Patrick Tony Stewart Tony Stewart Chevrolet Camaro
19 Coke Zero 400 David Gilliland Dale Earnhardt Jr. Tony Stewart Chevrolet Camaro
20 Camping World RV Sales 301 Kyle Busch Brad Keselowski Brad Keselowski Dodge Charger
21 Brickyard 400 Kevin Harvick Kasey Kahne Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Impala
22 Gobowling.com 400 Kyle Larson Jeff Gordon Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Impala
23 Cheez-It 355 At The Glen Jeff Gordon

AJ Allmendinger

Jeff Gordon

AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet Impala
24 Pure Michigan 400 Jeff Gordon Joey Logano Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Impala
25 Irwin Tools Night Race Kevin Harvick Jamie McMurray Joey Logano Dodge Dart
26 Oral-B USA 500 Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick Tony Stewart Chevrolet Impala
27 Federated Auto Parts 400 Brad Keselowski Brad Keselowski Brad Keselowski Dodge Charger
28 MyAFibStory.com 400 Kyle Busch Kevin Harvick Kyle Larson Chevrolet Impala
29 Hiawatha 500 Tony Stewart Tony Stewart Tony Stewart Chevrolet Impala
30 AAA 400 Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Impala
31 Hollywood Casino 400 Kevin Harvick Joey Logano Tony Stewart Chevrolet Impala
32 Bank of America 500 Kyle Busch Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Camaro
33 GEICO 500 Brian Vickers Jimmie Johnson Josh Wise Dodge Challenger
34 Iowa Corn 400 Jamie McMurray Austin Dillon Austin Dillon Chevrolet Camaro
35 AAA Texas 500 Matt Kenseth Jimmie Johnson Tony Stewart Chevrolet Camaro
36 Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 Denny Hamlin Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Camaro
37 Ford EcoBoost 400 Jeff Gordon Jeff Gordon Kevin Harvick

Chevrolet Camaro

Cars Used in 2014 Season

Top 10 Moments

Coming soon