NASCAR investigating Talladega accidents, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s steering wheel

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NASCAR is looking into what led cars to get airborne Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway and will investigate what caused Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s steering wheel to detach after his second wreck, a NASCAR executive told “The Morning Drive” on Monday.

“Some really intense racing all throughout the day, and some things we didn’t like with cars getting up in the air and we’re already fast at work at the R&D Center, looking at all the video we have,’’ Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We’ll reach out to the teams to see what we can do to immediately take some action to work towards correcting that.’’

Chris Buescher’s car tumbled down the backstretch after being hit by another car, and Matt Kenseth’s car was sent airborne after contact turned his car sideways and the air picked his vehicle up. Neither driver was injured in the separate incidents.

“You never want to see that,’’ O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about those incidents. “So (what) you immediately work on is everybody safe, did the safety equipment do its job and what we can learn from that? The immediate steps are to review all the media shots that we have of those incidents, work with the race teams and then look at what may or may not be different from when we’ve been not only at Talladega but any other race track.

“We’ve had a car get in the air at other tracks as well. We’ll look at that. We’ll study the cars as well. We’ll work with the industry. I’ve said many times, not particularly related to a car getting in the air, but in all instances where we can learn and work with the best engineers in the world that are part of our race industry, we’ll do that.

“Safety is first and foremost for all of us. We’ll start that process. It’s not something that we’ve just started. We always look at that. It’s always something in our DNA. We’ll work with the race teams and see what we can learn and then from that apply that to the race cars and the track.’’

O’Donnell said every accident is unique because of the speed, angle of the car, the position of the car and more.

“That will be all of our process in sitting down and reviewing that,’’ O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

That also will include looking at what happened to Earnhardt’s steering wheel. Earnhardt’s teammate, Jimmie Johnson, had a steering wheel come off at Phoenix, leading to his crash in qualifying there.

O’Donnell was asked if Earnhardt’s issue was isolated or something more.

“Even if it is an isolated incident, we’ll look at it,’’ O’Donnell said. “It could be something that could cause issues down the road if it was a trend. We’ll talk to (Earnhardt) and his team and make sure hopefully that was just what you said initially an isolated incident and go from there, but if there is anything we can take from that, we will certainly communicate that to all the teams. It’s not something you want to see, especially potentially at speed.’’

Earnhardt tweeted Monday he took responsibility for the steering wheel issue.

O’Donnell also discussed NASCAR’s review of the finish of Saturday’s Xfinity race. Series officials needed about five minutes to review various video angles to determine who won. Elliott Sadler was declared the winner even though Brennan Poole crossed the line first. NASCAR ruled that Sadler was in the lead when the caution waved for Joey Logano’s accident after he had contact with Sadler racing for the win.

“We can always learn as we go,’’ O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It was so intense there wanting to get the decision made as quickly as possible. In our recap of what happened Saturday, we could have done a better job, particularly with the television partners, MRN, and the PA announcer for the track explaining what was happening.

“Moving forward I think that’s on us to communicate that a little better in terms of what we are doing and what the process is to determine a winner if that were to occur again.’’

Results, point standings after Xfinity race at Richmond

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Christopher Bell led a race-high 120 laps to win the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway. It’s his second career Xfinity win.

Bell beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Noah Gragson, Elliott Sadler, Matt Tifft and Austin Cindric.

Elliott Sadler won the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Click here for the race results.

Points

Elliott Sadler continues to lead the point standings through eight races. He has a 29-point lead over Bell.

Completing the top five is Tyler Reddick (-31 points), Daniel Hemric (-38) and Justin Allgaier (-48).

Click here for the point standings.

Christopher Bell wins Xfinity race at Richmond

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Christopher Bell fended off teammate Noah Gragson to break through and win his first Xfinity race of the year Friday night at Richmond Raceway.

Bell led the final 79 laps around the .75-mile track to score his second career win. He had finished in the top five in four of the first seven races this season.

“That was pretty special there, buddy,” Bell told Fox Sports 1. “Had to work for it. My teammate was really good and I knew throughout both practices that both of our cars were going to be really strong. Joe Gibbs Racing has been producing really, really fast Camrys for last couple of weeks and it’s really shown.”

Gragson placed second in his first career Xfinity start. He bounced back from an uncontrolled tire penalty early in the race.

He hounded Bell for much of the last 15 laps, but could never pull even with him.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Gragson told FS1 of his first series start at the short track. “I found a little something in the track, a little speed there at the end of the second stage on old tires. I kept it in my memory bank until the end and I told me team, ‘I got something, when it’s time to go tell me when.’ About 18 to go, I told them, ‘Can’t wait any longer, I don’t have any more patience.”

Gragson, who drives full-time in the Camping World Truck Series, led 10 laps.

The top five was completed by Elliott Sadler, Matt Tifft and Austin Cindric.

With his third-place finish, Sadler won the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Bell, Sadler, Tifft and Cindric will be eligible for the third Dash 4 Cash bonus next week at Talladega.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Daniel Hemric

STAGE 2 WINNER: Elliott Sadler, first stage win of season

MORE: Race results, points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Austin Cindric earned his first career top five after starting from the rear for an unapproved adjustment … Matt Tifft earned his fourth career top five … Ryan Truex placed seventh to give Kaulig Racing its fourth top 10 of the year. It earned five last year … Jeremy Clements placed eighth, earning his first top 10 since he won at Road America in August.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: After winning Stage 1, Daniel Hemric lost his right front tire with three laps to go in Stage 2, but made it to the end. He finished 29th, four laps down … Justin Allgaier spun after ramming into the back of Spencer Gallagher with 86 laps to go. Chase Briscoe was also received damage in the incident. Allgaier finished 14th. Briscoe placed 26th.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “My wife’s already spent it.” – Elliott Sadler to FS1 after winning the Dash 4 Cash bonus.

WHAT’S NEXT: Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway at 3 p.m. ET on April 28 on Fox.

Starting lineup for Cup race at Richmond

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Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott will start on the front row for Saturday night’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway.

Truex won his third pole of the season.

The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Kyle Busch, who is trying to win a third consecutive race, qualified 32nd.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Martin Truex Jr. wins pole for Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway

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Martin Truex Jr. qualified first for Saturday’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway, winning his third pole of the season.

Truex claimed the pole with a speed of 123.859 mph around the .75-mile track. The Toyota Owners 400 will mark Truex’s 450th Cup start. Truex had DNFs in the last two races.

“It’s definitely been a crappy two weeks,” Truex told Fox Sports 1. “But that’s part of racing. This team, I’ve got so much faith and confidence in them and everything we’re doing. You can’t let those kinds of things get you down. It was nothing we did, just circumstances. Just proud of the effort today.”

The pole matches Truex’s total from last year.

Chase Elliott qualified second (123.621 mph). The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Ryan Blaney will start 12th, followed by Ryan Newman, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson.

Daniel Hemric will start 22nd in his first Cup start.

Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski both failed to advance out of the first round. Keselowski will start 28th and Busch will start 32nd.

“We didn’t make a mock run in practice and then we thought the spread would be about three tenths (of a second),” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “It wasn’t, it was faster than that. We only ran two laps trying to make sure we preserve out tires for later on deeper into the session. A bunch of those guys ran three laps and obviously we needed that third lap. It would have picked up. For some reason the tire here today, even in race trim, your fastest lap was the seventh lap. So just takes awhile for everything to come in. Just trying to short cut it a little bit and it didn’t work out for us.”

Click here for qualifying results.