Kenseth: Logano didn’t race for win ‘the way a man should’

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Joe Gibbs, the man who brought Joey Logano to the Sprint Cup Series, hoped he could be the driver to replace Tony Stewart there and later cast Logano off when Matt Kenseth became available and sponsorship couldn’t be found for Logano, pursed his lips as he pondered Logano spinning Kenseth out of the lead late in Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway.

“I’ve got no comment other than everybody saw what happened,’’ said Gibbs, a God-fearing man prone to find the positive in nearly every situation.

Kenseth, whose emotion rarely is seen – except seemingly with Team Penske drivers – was direct when asked if he felt Logano intentionally wrecked him out of the lead on Lap 263 of the 269-lap race, which was extended by a green-white-checkered finish.

“Absolutely, 100 percent,’’ Kenseth said without hesitation.

Logano said he didn’t intentionally turn Kenseth.

“It’s hard racing,’’ Logano said. “With 15 to go, I … had to lift and not wreck both us. I got put in the same situation in the frontstretch. We both went for the same piece of real estate. We ran each other hard. He ran me hard, and I ran him hard back. It’s unfortunate things happen.’’

Kenseth needed this win. He finished 42nd last weekend at Charlotte, putting him in a situation where he likely won’t advance to the third round and continue his title quest based on points alone.

With his title hopes thinning, Kenseth stood next to his car on pit road as Logano celebrated in victory lane. The last time Kenseth had a run-in with a Penske driver in this round of the Chase was with Brad Keselowski last year at Charlotte, leading to Kenseth putting Keselowski in a headlock between haulers in the garage.

A calm Kenseth was asked what he would say to Logano about Sunday’s incident when they talked.

“I won’t talk to Joey,’’ Kenseth said. “I don’t have anything to talk to him about. You make decisions every day. You make decisions every minute behind the wheel. To me, strategically, that doesn’t seem like a great decision for him. But it’s the one he made and that’s how he wanted to win. I’m one of the only guys that I think hadn’t been in it with Joey, and I’ve always raced him with a ton of respect.’’

Logano said wasn’t going to lift after being blocked by Kenseth earlier.

“He just plain wrecked me,’’ Kenseth said. “He cries on his radio a lot, I guess, about blocking or moving around, but I mean, man you’re leading the race, you can pick whatever lane you want. It’s not like he was alongside of me. To wreck somebody for being in a lane that you wanted to be in seems to be kind of risky and not very smart. That was the decision he made.

“The race track is 80 or 100 feet wide down there and I was in front of him. He just chose to spin me out because he wanted to be in the top groove instead of going left and trying to race me for the win the way a man should do it really.”

 

Atlanta Motor Speedway to delay repave at least a year

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The cries of drivers have been heard. Atlanta Motor Speedway will not repave its track as previously scheduled. Instead, track officials will evaluate the surface following the 2018 race there.

Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns the track, had planned to have the track surface repaved beginning in late March. It would have been the first repave there since 1997.

Engineers examined the track after the March 5 race to determine if the track surface could last another year with modest repairs. Track officials also consulted with Goodyear and others.

“There’s no question that the surface is worn out, but probably the most powerful lobby this side of Washington, D.C., was the biggest influence,” Ed Clark, president of Atlanta Motor Speedway, told NBC Sports of the drivers. “They kind of put the pressure on. I understand.”

After winning there, Brad Keselowski made his pitch not to repave the track.

“Drivers hate repaves,” he said. “We want to see the surfaces last as long as they can.  But the reality is nothing lasts forever, and this surface has made it a really, really long time, 20 years, I think, this season, and they should be really proud of that.

“My hope is they can get another year or two out of it, and I understand if they can’t, and you have to kind of leave it to their expertise and so forth.”

Clark said that work will need to be done to the track before next year’s race.

“The worst part is down the frontstretch in front of the grandstands,” Clark told NBC Sports. “There’s a lot of issues there. We’re actually going to have to cut a few areas and patch … to make it last through 2018. We consulted with Goodyear on that. They don’t think, as long as it is on the straightaway, it is a big issue from a tire standpoint.”

Clark said that the track surface will be sealed in October and should have the patching done before then.

“Let them go ahead and slip and slide one more time in 2018,” Clark said.

Clark said that while anything can change, he doesn’t foresee being talked out of a repave job too many more times.

“You have to see how the weekend goes and what happens,” Clark told NBC Sports. “We had to patch some places after the Saturday events this year, small places. Hey, if we could go two more, great. All you’ve got to do is walk out there and look at it. It is absolutely worn out. But if the drivers say, hey our choice is to race on this surface as it is.

“There comes a point (when a repave is needed). We do have a few drainage issues we do need to correct, some other things when the time comes. Right now, we’re going to get through 2018 and evaluate and see if that is the time or when is it.”

Clark said that when the track is repaved, Goodyear has expressed interest in having two test sessions to determine the proper tire for that 1.5-mile track instead of the customary one because of the track’s challenging surface.

Clark warns that with the excitement of Tuesday’s news, the day is still coming when the track will have to be repaved.

“I can’t see this going two more seasons, maybe only one,” Clark said.

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NASCAR America — My Home Track: 50 States In 50 Shows — Arkansas

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, we continued our series of My Home Track: 50 States in 50 Shows as our trucks rolled into Arkansas!

We visited two short tracks in the state that produced President Bill Clinton and Basketball Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen.

Plus we talked to NASCAR Hall of Famer and Arkansas native Mark Martin about racing in his home state.

NASCAR America: Is there cause for concern with Jimmie Johnson’s performance thus far?

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It’s no secret that Jimmie Johnson is off to a slow start in 2017.

The defending and seven-time NASCAR Cup champion has a starting average of 21.8 and a finishing average of 18.8 in the first five races of this season.

He has just one top-10 finish (ninth at Phoenix), along with 34th at Daytona, 19th at Atlanta, 11th at Las Vegas and 21st Sunday at Fontana.

And let’s not forget he’s 17th in the NASCAR Cup standings heading to one of his strongest tracks, Martinsville Speedway, this Sunday.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, we discussed this: After such a slow start to the season, is there a cause for concern over Johnson’s performance?

NASCAR America: Mark Martin is definitely a Kyle Larson fan

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin shared his experience of racing in his home state of Arkansas, as well as the excitement he feels watching  Kyle Larson compete in the Cup series.