2015 AAA 400
The 2015 AAA 400 was a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race held on October 4, 2015, at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. Contested over 400 laps on the 1 mile (1.6 km) concrete speedway, it was the 29th race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, third race of the Chase and final race of the Challenger Round. Kevin Harvick won the race, his third of the season. Kyle Busch finished second. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jamie McMurray and Aric Almirola rounded out the top–five.
|Race 29 of 36 in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series|
|Date||October 4, 2015|
|Location||Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware|
Permanent racing facility|
1 mi (1.6 km)
|Distance||400 laps, 400 mi (640 km)|
|Weather||Cloudy with a temperature of 62 °F (17 °C); wind out of the northeast at 21 mph (34 km/h)|
|Average speed||119.870 mph (192.912 km/h)|
|Driver||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|Time||Qualifying rained out|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|No. 4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|Television in the United States|
|Announcers||Rick Allen, Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte|
3.2 Million viewers
|Radio in the United States|
|Booth Announcers||Joe Moore, Jeff Striegle and Rusty Wallace|
|Turn Announcers||Mike Bagley (Backstretch)|
With qualifying rained out, Matt Kenseth was awarded the first starting spot. He led 26 laps on his way to a seventh–place finish. Harvick led a race high of 355 laps on his way to winning the race. The race had 14 lead changes amongst three different drivers, as well as eight caution flag periods for 43 laps.
This was the 31st career victory for Harvick, third of the season, first at Dover International Speedway and second at the track for Stewart-Haas Racing. The win secured his place in the Contender Round. Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard didn't advance out of the Challenger Round. Chevrolet left Dover with a 45–point lead over Toyota in the manufacturer standings.
The AAA 400 was carried by NBC Sports on the cable/satellite NBCSN network for the American television audience. The radio broadcast for the race was carried by the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
Dover International Speedway (formerly Dover Downs International Speedway) is a race track in Dover, Delaware, United States. Since opening in 1969, it has held at least two NASCAR races. In addition to NASCAR, the track also hosted USAC and the Verizon IndyCar Series. The track features one layout, a 1 mile (1.6 km) concrete oval, with 24° banking in the turns and 9° banking on the straights. The speedway is owned and operated by Dover Motorsports.
The track, nicknamed "The Monster Mile", was built in 1969 by Melvin Joseph of Melvin L. Joseph Construction Company, Inc., with an asphalt surface, but was replaced with concrete in 1995. Six years later in 2001, the track's capacity moved to 135,000 seats, making the track have the largest capacity of sports venue in the mid-Atlantic. In 2002, the name changed to Dover International Speedway from Dover Downs International Speedway after Dover Downs Gaming and Entertainment split, making Dover Motorsports. From 2007 to 2009, the speedway worked on an improvement project called "The Monster Makeover", which expanded facilities at the track and beautified the track. After the 2014 season, the track's capacity was reduced to 95,500 seats.
Matt Kenseth entered Dover with a six–point lead over Denny Hamlin. Carl Edwards and Joey Logano entered tied for third 10–points back. Jimmie Johnson entered fifth 16–points back. Ryan Newman entered sixth 25–points. Kurt Busch entered seventh 26–points back. Brad Keselowski entered eighth 27–points back. Martin Truex, Jr. entered ninth 28–points back. Jeff Gordon entered 10th 31–points back. Jamie McMurray entered 11th 41–points back. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. entered 12th 42–points back. Kyle Busch and Paul Menard entered tied for 13th 43–points back. Kevin Harvick entered 15th 65–points back. Clint Bowyer entered 16th 81–points back.
In the week leading up to the race, the National Hurricane Center began tracking the development of a storm several hundred miles south-southwest of Bermuda. On September 30, the storm was upgraded to Hurricane Joaquin. The forecast model from the National Weather Service had the storm potentially affecting the race weekend. However, updated models had the storm avoiding landfall on the Eastern U.S. seaboard and moving out into the North Atlantic. Nevertheless, heavy rain was expected to affect the Dover area.
At the request of the drivers, on the Thursday before the race, NASCAR announced that the restart zone would be expanded from 70 feet (21 m) to 140 feet (43 m). Denny Hamlin took to Twitter to say NASCAR made a great move "to double the restart zone" and that it would give the leader of the race "more of an opportunity to decide when to start the race." Joey Logano said he was "[g]lad to see @NASCAR expanding the restart zone" and that it was "what a lot of drivers were asking for."
The following scenarios were in play for this race.
Regardless of another driver's finishEdit
Carl Edwards would clinch a spot in the Contender Round if he finished 32nd or better with no laps led, 33rd if he led a lap or 34th if he led the most laps. Joey Logano would clinch by finishing at least 31st or better, 32nd with a lap led or 33rd with most laps led. Jimmie Johnson would clinch if he finished 25th or better, 26th if he leads a lap or 27th if he leads the most laps. Ryan Newman would clinch if he finished 16th or better, 17th if he led a lap or 18th if he led the most laps. Kurt Busch would clinches if he finished 15th or better, 16th if he led a lap or 17th if he led the most laps. Brad Keselowski would clinch if he finished 14th or better, 15th if he led a lap or 16th if he led the most laps. Martin Truex, Jr. would clinch if he finished 13th or better, 14th if he led a lap or 15th if he led the most laps. Jeff Gordon would clinch if he finished 10th or better, 11th if he led a lap or 12th if he led the most laps.
Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer controlled their destinies only if they won. Otherwise, as would turn out to be the case for Earnhardt and Busch, they were dependent on other non-clinched drivers having bad point days.
The entry list for the AAA 400 was released on Friday, September 25 at 2:27 p.m. Eastern time. Forty-four cars were entered for the race. The four driver changes for this race were J. J. Yeley returning to the No. 26 BK Racing Toyota, Josh Wise returning to the No. 32 Go FAS Racing Ford, Alex Kennedy returning to the No. 33 Hillman-Circle Sport LLC Chevrolet for the first time since Watkins Glen and Reed Sorenson returning to the No. 98 Premium Motorsports Ford. The threat of rain forced The Motorsports Group to withdraw its No. 30 Chevrolet entry from the race. Because of the withdrawal, all 43 cars remaining entered cars made the race.
Because inclement weather forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying, along with the Friday practice session, the lineup was set by points. As a result, Matt Kenseth was given the first starting spot. He said that everybody "would have liked to get on the track today and get some practice. I know there are some things we wanted to work on and try to improve from the spring for this race. I think everybody wanted to get on the track. I think it’s one of the advantages of leading the points – obviously if it rains you get a good starting spot and pit stall. Glad we’re starting in the front, but still would have liked the track time.”
|1||20||Matt Kenseth||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|2||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|3||19||Carl Edwards||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|4||22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford|
|5||48||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|6||31||Ryan Newman||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet|
|7||41||Kurt Busch||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet|
|8||2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford|
|9||78||Martin Truex, Jr.[N 1]||Furniture Row Racing||Chevrolet|
|10||24||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|11||1||Jamie McMurray||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet|
|12||88||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|13||18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|14||27||Paul Menard||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet|
|15||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet|
|16||15||Clint Bowyer||Michael Waltrip Racing||Toyota|
|17||5||Kasey Kahne||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|18||43||Aric Almirola||Richard Petty Motorsports||Ford|
|19||42||Kyle Larson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet|
|20||16||Greg Biffle||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford|
|21||3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet|
|22||13||Casey Mears||Germain Racing||Chevrolet|
|23||47||A. J. Allmendinger||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet|
|24||10||Danica Patrick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet|
|25||14||Tony Stewart||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet|
|26||9||Sam Hornish, Jr.||Richard Petty Motorsports||Ford|
|27||17||Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford|
|28||55||David Ragan||Michael Waltrip Racing||Toyota|
|29||6||Trevor Bayne||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford|
|30||51||Justin Allgaier||HScott Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|31||35||Cole Whitt||Front Row Motorsports||Ford|
|32||38||David Gilliland||Front Row Motorsports||Ford|
|33||40||Landon Cassill (i)||Hillman-Circle Sport LLC||Chevrolet|
|34||34||Brett Moffitt (R)||Front Row Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|35||7||Alex Bowman||Tommy Baldwin Racing||Chevrolet|
|36||33||Alex Kennedy (R)||Hillman-Circle Sport LLC||Chevrolet|
|37||83||Matt DiBenedetto (R)||BK Racing||Toyota|
|38||46||Michael Annett||HScott Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|39||23||Jeb Burton (R)||BK Racing||Toyota|
|40||98||Reed Sorenson||Premium Motorsports||Ford|
|41||32||Josh Wise||Go FAS Racing||Ford|
|42||26||J. J. Yeley (i)||BK Racing||Toyota|
|43||62||Timmy Hill (i)||Premium Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|Official starting lineup|
|1||5||Kasey Kahne||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||22.429||160.506|
|2||19||Carl Edwards||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||22.438||160.442|
|3||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||22.460||160.285|
|Official first practice results|
|1||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||23.072||156.033|
|2||19||Carl Edwards||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||23.075||156.013|
|3||5||Kasey Kahne||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||23.109||155.783|
|Official final practice results|
Under cloudy Delaware skies, Matt Kenseth led the field to the green flag at 2:51 p.m. It only took until lap 3 for the first caution of the race to come out. This was when Josh Wise made contact with Jeb Burton in turn 1 and sent him spinning.
The race restarted on lap 7. Just 10 laps later, Kenseth pulled to a one-second lead over his teammate Denny Hamlin. This lead began shrinking over the next six laps to just a quarter of a second over Kevin Harvick, who eventually took over that position on lap 25. As Harvick stayed out in front, he pulled to a two-second lead over Kenseth. The second caution of the race flew on lap 41. This was a scheduled competition caution for all the rain that the state of Delaware had throughout the entire weekend. Harvick swapped the lead with Kenseth on pit road and Hamlin exited with the lead. It was short-lived, as he and Jimmie Johnson were both tagged for speeding on pit road and restarted from the tail-end of the field. This would give the lead back to Harvick.
The race restarted on lap 46. Harvick pulled to a five-second lead over Kyle Busch after 40 laps. After falling to the back on the restart for the speeding penalty, Hamlin was put down a lap by Harvick on lap 90. Jimmie Johnson made an unscheduled stop on lap 103 for an issue with the drive line. They couldn't fix it on pit road and he took the car to the garage. Following the race, he said that it was "tough having a very inexpensive axle seal be the culprit and take your championship hopes away. It's racing. I’ve had mechanicals take me out of championships growing up that led to some success for myself and I’m sure helped me with a championship or two. It’s just part of racing. It just shows how critical everything is on a race team. And how important every component is and you can’t take anything for granted. Heartbreaking for sure, but I don’t know what else we can do about it we just have to go on and try to win races and close out the season strong.” Debris on the front stretch brought out the third caution of the race on lap 111. The debris came from the No. 83 car of Matt DiBenedetto. Harvick swapped the lead with Busch on pit road, but exited with the lead.
The race restarted on lap 118. Harvick once again pulled away from the field and began putting cars several of laps down. After 30 laps, he had lapped over half the field at least once. After 60 laps, he lapped everyone up to Brad Keselowski, who sat in 14th place. The fourth caution flew on lap 193 when Jeb Burton suffered a right-front tire blowout and slammed the wall in turn 2. He would go on to finish last. Harvick and Kyle Busch swapped the lead on pit road, but exited with the lead.
The race restarted on lap 206. Debris on the front stretch brought out the fifth caution on lap 232. Harvick and Busch swapped the lead on pit road. This time, however, Busch took just right-side tires and exited with the lead. Hamlin was tagged for speeding on pit road and restarted from the tail-end of the field.
The race restarted on lap 237. Harvick didn't waste any time passing the third and second–place cars. He drove under Busch in turn 2 to retake the lead on lap 249. The sixth caution flew on lap 312 when A. J. Allmendinger got loose and spun out in turn 4 while trying to get on pit road. Harvick and Busch again swapped the lead on pit road, but Harvick exited with it. With the stop being outside the 85-lap fuel window, most of the cars on the lead lap began shutting off their engines to conserve fuel.
The race restarted with 84 laps to go. The seventh caution of the race flew with 47 laps to go for a single-car wreck in turn 1. Brett Moffitt suffered a right-front tire blowout and slammed the wall. Matt Kenseth opted not to pit under the caution and assumed the lead.
The race restarted with 42 laps to go. Kenseth was no match for Kevin Harvick on old tires and lost the lead to Kevin. The eighth caution of the race flew with 29 laps to go for fluid on the track. The fluid came from the No. 40 car of Landon Cassill after his engine blew up.
The race restarted with 24 laps to go. Kevin Harvick drove on to score his 31st career victory.
Harvick said that he was "just so proud of everybody from Stewart-Haas Racing to do everything that we’ve done the last three weeks, really. Obviously we weren’t in a great position coming in to today. That’s what these guys are made of and that’s what teamwork is all about."
Following his runner-up finish, Kyle Busch said that the day was "really good...for us. I can't say enough about this entire Interstate Batteries team. They did a great job today. Adam Stevens gave me a great piece and when you look at the amount of practice time we had, it was pretty hard to figure out what you had. We had a second–place car and we finished second with it; nothing to hang our heads about."
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished third and advanced to the Contender Round on a tiebreaker. After the race, he said that the closing laps weren't "nerve-wracking at all. You're either going to make it or you ain't. I'm going to try put together the best lap I can put together, and drive the car as hard as you can without over-driving it. You can't really worry about the big picture because you have to concentrate on running the lap. This place is so technical that you just have to concentrate on every corner and the mistake you made on the last one and how you make a better corner the next time through there. That's all you really worry about."
Jamie McMurray failed to make the Contender Round on a tiebreaker with a fourth–place finish. After the race, he said that he was "driving so hard those last few laps, and it’s just hard to make up any ground. And it seemed like our car was maybe better on stickers,” McMurray explained. “We haven’t run this well, honestly. We talked earlier today about that. So, I’m thrilled with our performance today. It’s frustrating that we weren’t able to make it to the next round, but it was a good day for the Nature Made car. We just needed one more point.”
After driving under the radar to a fifth–place finish, Aric Almirola said that his team did "a really good job. We just struggled with getting the car in the race track most of the day and right there at the end four tires paid off for us. That was some really good adjustments by Trent and the guys and the pit crew did a good job getting me off pit road and just a really solid day for us.”
Martin Truex, Jr. drove from the rear of the field to an 11th–place finish. He said after the race that he didn't have "a great day...It wasn’t a great weekend. We have been struggling trying to get the thing turning. All in all we had good speed when we would get track position. We would lose track position and being in long lines on the restarts when we couldn’t really go anywhere. It was really difficult to pass today. We had good speed out front, top five speed and then just never really could get back there once we got back in traffic.”
A 12th–place finish was enough for Jeff Gordon to advance into the Contender Round. After the race, he said that making it involved "a lot of hard work. I'm proud of these guys. We fought hard and that's what we've been doing all year long. It hasn't been pretty. We've had a lot to overcome and we never give. That was pretty much what he had today, we survived and made it through."
After a 14th–place finish wasn't enough to get Clint Bowyer into the Contender Round, he said after the race that his "5-Hour Energy Toyota was good today, I’d say a top-five car. We just had some bad luck with that loose wheel early on. We got two laps down, but were able to make those up. No one had anything for that 4 car (Harvick), though.”
Following his 25th–place finish that kept him from advancing to the Contender Round, Paul Menard said that it "was not a good day for us at Dover. We fought handling all day and found out there was a mechanical issue there near the end. We gave it our all and I'm proud that we got here. Hate that we don't get to compete further into the Chase, but we will work for a win and to advance our spot from where we are.”
|1||15||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||400||48|
|2||13||18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||400||43|
|3||12||88||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||41|
|4||11||1||Jamie McMurray||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||400||40|
|5||18||43||Aric Almirola||Richard Petty Motorsports||Ford||400||39|
|6||17||5||Kasey Kahne||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||38|
|7||1||20||Matt Kenseth||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||400||38|
|8||27||17||Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||400||36|
|9||19||42||Kyle Larson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||400||35|
|10||4||22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford||400||34|
|11||9||78||Martin Truex, Jr.||Furniture Row Racing||Chevrolet||400||33|
|12||10||24||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||32|
|13||20||16||Greg Biffle||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||400||31|
|14||16||15||Clint Bowyer||Michael Waltrip Racing||Toyota||400||30|
|15||3||19||Carl Edwards||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||400||29|
|16||8||2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford||400||28|
|17||7||41||Kurt Busch||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||400||27|
|18||2||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||400||26|
|19||6||31||Ryan Newman||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||399||25|
|20||26||9||Sam Hornish, Jr.||Richard Petty Motorsports||Ford||398||24|
|21||24||10||Danica Patrick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||398||23|
|22||28||55||David Ragan||Michael Waltrip Racing||Toyota||398||22|
|23||21||3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||398||21|
|24||22||13||Casey Mears||Germain Racing||Chevrolet||397||20|
|25||14||27||Paul Menard||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||397||19|
|26||25||14||Tony Stewart||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||396||18|
|27||30||51||Justin Allgaier||HScott Motorsports||Chevrolet||395||17|
|28||31||35||Cole Whitt||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||394||16|
|29||23||47||A. J. Allmendinger||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||394||15|
|30||32||38||David Gilliland||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||394||14|
|31||29||6||Trevor Bayne||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||393||13|
|32||35||7||Alex Bowman||Tommy Baldwin Racing||Chevrolet||393||12|
|33||40||98||Reed Sorenson||Premium Motorsports||Ford||391||11|
|34||37||83||Matt DiBenedetto (R)||BK Racing||Toyota||391||10|
|35||42||26||J. J. Yeley (i)||BK Racing||Toyota||390||9|
|36||41||32||Josh Wise||Go FAS Racing||Ford||389||8|
|37||38||46||Michael Annett||HScott Motorsports||Chevrolet||387||7|
|38||36||33||Alex Kennedy (R)||Hillman-Circle Sport LLC||Chevrolet||386||6|
|39||43||62||Timmy Hill (i)||Premium Motorsports||Chevrolet||380||5|
|40||33||40||Landon Cassill (i)||Hillman-Circle Sport LLC||Chevrolet||365||4|
|41||5||48||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||364||3|
|42||34||34||Brett Moffitt (R)||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||346||2|
|43||39||23||Jeb Burton (R)||BK Racing||Toyota||186||1|
|Official AAA 400 results|
- 14 lead changes among 3 different drivers
- 8 cautions for 43 laps
- Time of race: 3 hours, 20 minutes, 13 seconds
- Average speed: 119.870 mph (192.912 km/h)
- Kevin Harvick took home $263,590 in winnings
- Coors Light Pole Award: No winner
- 3M Lap Leader: Kevin Harvick (355 laps)
- American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Kevin Harvick
- Duralast Brakes "Bake In The Race" Award: Matt Kenseth
- Freescale "Wide Open": Jamie McMurray
- Ingersoll Rand Power Move: Aric Almirola (7 positions)
- MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Race: Hendrick Engines, #4
- Mobil 1 Driver of the Race: Kevin Harvick (149.7 driver rating)
- Moog Steering and Suspension Problem Solver of The Race: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (crew chief Greg Ives (0.132 seconds))
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Leader Bonus: No winner, rolls over to $20,000 at next event
- Sherwin-Williams Fastest Lap: Matt Kenseth (Lap 9, 22.471, 160.206 mph (257.827 km/h))
- Sunoco Rookie of The Race: Matt DiBenedetto
NBCSN covered the race on the television side. Rick Allen, 2006 race winner Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte had the call in the booth for the race. Dave Burns, Mike Massaro, Marty Snider and Kelli Stavast handled pit road on the television side.
|Booth announcers||Pit reporters|
|Lap-by-lap: Rick Allen
Color-commentator: Jeff Burton
Color-commentator: Steve Letarte
MRN had the radio call for the race, which was simulcast on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio. Joe Moore, Jeff Striegle and three–time Dover winner Rusty Wallace called the race from the booth when the field was racing down the front stretch. Mike Bagley called the race from the turn 3 stands when the field was racing down the backstretch. Alex Hayden, Winston Kelley and Steve Post handled pit road on the radio side.
|Booth announcers||Turn announcers||Pit reporters|
|Lead announcer: Joe Moore
Announcer: Jeff Striegle
Announcer: Rusty Wallace
|Backstretch: Mike Bagley||Alex Hayden|
Standings after the raceEdit
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- Blake, Eric (September 25, 2015). Tropical Weather Outlook (.TXT) (Report). Miami: National Hurricane Center. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
- Fox, Ben; Turnquest, Ava; Winton, Tony (September 30, 2015). "Hurricane Joaquin gains force near Bahamas, heads toward US". ABC News. New York City: ABC News Internet Ventures. Associated Press. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
- Turner, Jared (October 1, 2015). "Bleak weather outlook casts doubt on Dover race weekend schedule". FoxSports.com. Fox Sports Interactive Media, LLC. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
- Hartnell, Neil (October 2, 2015). "Hurricane pounds Bahamas, unlikely to be big threat to U.S. East". Reuters. Nassau, Bahamas: Thomson Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
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2015 Sylvania 300
|Sprint Cup Series
2015 Bank of America 500