Screenshot 2016-02-02 10.33.05
(Photo by John Hunter Nemechek)

Wooooo! NASCAR driver honors wrestler Ric Flair on helmet

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John Hunter Nemechek has never met “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, but Nemechek will honor the Hall of Fame wrestler with a neon-colored helmet that features a portrait of Flair on the back. The helmet, designed by Off Axis Paint, will debut this month at Daytona International Speedway.

The 18-year-old NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver learned about Flair from his father, Joe Nemechek, who was a big fan of the wrestler.

“I always heard dad talk about Ric Flair as one of his idols,” John Hunter Nemechek told NASCAR Talk. “A bunch of the guys in the shop … pretty much everyone is a big Ric Flair fan. We’re hoping to get him out to a race at one point.”

When his dad saw the helmet, what was his reaction?

“He just smiled and laughed,” Nemechek said.

Nemechek admits that Flair, a 16-time world heavyweight champion, can provide inspiration for this upcoming season, noting Flair’s success.

“Hopefully, we can be the champs,” said Nemechek, who scored his first Truck win last year at Chicagoland Speedway and finished 12th in the points despite missing five races because he was not old enough to compete on the larger tracks at the time.

To be champion, Nemechek will have to follow one of Flair’s famous sayings: “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.”


Entry list for the Sprint Cup Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville

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There are 41 cars on the preliminary entry list for the Sprint Cup Series’ Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

The race at the short track is the first of the Round of 8 in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Jeff Gordon, who won last year’s race, will be making his last scheduled relief start for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88.

Gray Gaulding will drive the No. 30 car in an attempt to make his Sprint Cup debut.

Kyle Busch was the winner of the spring race.

Click here for the full entry list.

Preliminary entry list for Truck Series race at Martinsville

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Thirty-seven trucks are on the preliminary entry list for the Camping World Truck Series’ Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway.

The race is the first of the second round of the Truck Series Chase.

Chase Elliott is the only Sprint Cup driver entered into the race, driving the No. 71 for Contreras Motorsports.

Five trucks do not have drivers attached to them yet.

Kyle Busch won the April race at Martinsville while Matt Crafton is the defending winner of the fall event.

Click here to see the full entry list.

Upon Further Review: NASCAR’s new speedway leader

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 22:  Team Penske owner Roger Penske watches during final practice on Carb Day for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 mile race at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 22, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Car owner Roger Penske’s Sprint Cup teams never won a restrictor-plate race until the 2008 Daytona 500. Now, his organization is the dominant team on such tracks.

Joey Logano’s victory Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway — the sixth in the last nine plate races for Team Penske — evokes memories of Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s dominance and Hendrick Motorsports’ success.

Penske’s run at restrictor-plate tracks the last couple of seasons ranks as the one of the best since 2000. Only DEI, which won nine of 12 plate races from 2001-03, has a better winning percentage over multiple seasons at such tracks than Penske.

The last time any team was as strong was when Hendrick Motorsports won six of nine plate races from 2004-06.

“We have a special group of people at the shop that work all year on the restrictor-plate cars,’’ Penske told NBC Sports of the team’s reign. “You’ve really got to give a lot of credit to Ford and Roush Yates (Engines), they gave us some power.’’

The only thing surprising is that Penske’s streak didn’t continue with Brad Keselowski, who led a race-high 90 laps before his engine failed.

“He could drive up there anytime he wanted,’’ Penske said. “I remember one time he just kind of sat back and decided to go and drove right up to the front.’’

Keselowski looked as dominant as he was when he won at Daytona in July and Talladega in May. In the last three plate races, Penske cars have led 56.9 percent of the laps. Sunday, the Penske cars led 70.3 percent of the race.

It’s not just the team that has gotten better on such tracks. Penske also credits his drivers.

Logano put himself in position to win by what he did before Sunday’s race.

“You prep for each race differently but prepping for a superspeedway is probably more different than most because it’s not necessarily you’re talking about your setup, you’re talking about the changes you made in practice, it’s talking about, ‘OK this guy does this a lot of times,’ and you rewatch films, and you find some driver tendencies and which cars are good,’’ Logano told NBC Sports.

“After practice you rewatch that. You spend a lot of time with your spotter talking. I think about all that stuff, and I work on that. That’s where I can make a difference. I’ve got to understand the draft.’’

He and Keselowski both have done so. No team has won more restrictor-plate races since 2010 than Penske. Here’s that list:

7 – Team Penske

5 – Hendrick Motorsports

4 – Richard Childress Racing

3 – Joe Gibbs Racing

3 – Roush Fenway Racing

2 – Chip Ganassi Racing

1 – Front Row Motorsports

1 – Richard Petty Motorsports

1 – Stewart-Haas Racing

1 – Wood Brothers Racing


Joey Logano admits when he left his pit stall after his first stop he didn’t know that the jack was attached to the car.

“I didn’t even know when I first left the pits because of the raised ride heights on these cars, I didn’t notice it until the car kind of compressed in the corner,’’ Logano told NBC Sports. “My crew chief Todd (Gordon) told me that I’m taking a jack with me.

“I was looking. A jack? I looked in my (left-side) mirror and I couldn’t see it, and I turned my head and I saw the jack handle. I said, ‘That’s not good.’ I tried shaking it out, but I couldn’t get it to come loose.’’

Gordon told NBC Sports the plate of the jack got deeper under the car “and when you dropped the jack, the jack post slid off the backside toward the jack and lodged itself in there. It was stuck. It took three guys lifting up and somebody to really work the jack to get it back out.’’

The pit crew made up for it by getting Logano into the lead on Lap 148 after a two-tire pit stop. Logano went on to lead the final 45 laps to score his second victory of the season.


NASCAR stated that Denny Hamlin beat Kurt Busch by .006 seconds for third place Sunday. Had Hamlin finished behind Busch, Hamlin would have not have advanced to the Round 8. Austin Dillon would have.

To compare, Hamlin beat Martin Truex Jr. for this year’s Daytona 500 by .010 seconds — the closest finish in Daytona 500 history.


Joey Logano’s win marked his sixth Chase win since 2014. He and Kevin Harvick are tied for the most Chase wins since 2014.

— Kurt Busch’s fourth-place finish was his best result since placing fourth at Kentucky in July.

— Denny Hamlin’s third-place finish marked the fifth time he’s rebounded from a penalty during a race to score a top-five result. He was caught for speeding on pit road.

— Martin Truex Jr. finished last, marking the first time since 2010 at Atlanta that the pole-winner finished last in a race.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s sixth-place finish was his first top-10 result since placing second at Bristol in August.

— How much of an equalizer can restrictor-plate racing be for a smaller team? Michael McDowell finished 16th Sunday. His average finish in the four plate races this year is 15.5. His average finish in 23 other starts is 26.7.

— Half of the remaining eight drivers in the Chase have made the championship round in Miami since the elimination format debuted 2014. They are Kevin Harvick (2014 champion), Kyle Busch (2015 champion), Denny Hamlin (’14) and Joey Logano (’14).

Ryan Reed finished 26th in his Sprint Cup debut.

Brian Scott finished a career-high second, and Richard Petty Motorsports teammate Aric Almirola (eighth) scored his first top-10 finish of the season.

NASCAR says Gibbs’ sandbagging strategy was legal at Talladega; didn’t violate 100 percent rule

TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 23:  Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Subway Toyota, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Flexvolt Toyota, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Snickers Halloween Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hellmann's 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 23, 2016 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

A NASCAR official affirmed Monday morning that Joe Gibbs Racing didn’t violate the “100 percent rule” by electing to run at the back of the pack Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Because they didn’t need strong finishes to advance to the Round of 8, the Toyotas of Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth dropped to the rear at the start of the Hellmann’s 500 and remained there for most of 500 miles. Kenseth finished 28th, Edwards 29th, Busch 30th.

The NASCAR rulebook requires drivers “to race at 100 percent of their ability,” but NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said the JGR cars didn’t run afoul of the law because they pursued a strategy.

“I’d say they do not fall into (the 100 percent rule),” O’Donnell said Monday during his weekly appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Satellite Radio’s The Morning Drive. “The spirit of that rule is really to prevent somebody from intentionally allowing another teammate to do something that would not be in the spirit of the rules of the race.

“In this case, we look at that as a strategy decision that the team made. They executed it. It’s obviously part of the format. It’s a decision that they made during the race. But in this case, that wouldn’t be something that we look at that violates that rule.”

Busch playfully defended the strategy Monday morning on Twitter.

NASCAR created the 100 percent rule after Michael Waltrip Racing was punished for manipulating the 2013 regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway. Here’s the rule:

           7.5 PERFORMANCE OBLIGATION .a NASCAR requires its Competitor(s) to race at 100 percent of their ability with the goal of achieving their best possible finishing position in the Event; .b Any Competitor(s) who takes action with the intent to Artificially Alter the finishing positions of the Event or encourages, persuades or induces others to Artificially Alter the finishing positions of the Event shall be subject to a penalty from NASCAR, as specified in Section 12 Violations and Disciplinary Action; .c “Artificially Alter” shall be defined as actions by any Competitor(s) that show or suggest that the Competitor(s) did not race at 100 percent of their ability for the purpose of changing finishing positions in the Event, in NASCAR’s sole discretion.

O’Donnell also said JGR cars likely wouldn’t face further penalties for being pulled out of qualifying Saturday and returned to inspection.

“I would doubt it,” he said of further penalties. “I think our reaction there is the penalty is the 5-minute line. If we find something and the car has to go back through inspection, we feel that’s severe enough. If the team wasn’t able to fix that part or piece and was not able to qualify, that’s the penalty.