Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway

He said, he said: John Hunter Nemechek and Cole Custer tell their sides of last lap

6 Comments

John Hunter Nemechek and Cole Custer beat and banged their way to the checkered flag Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, with Nemechek being declared the winner upon review.

Custer finished second but was unhappy with how Nemechek got to his back bumper and moved him out of the way. The two made contact in the final corner and then bounced off each other through the grass on their way to the finish line.

As Nemechek waited for NASCAR’s decision on the frontstretch, Custer jumped over pit wall and tackled him at full speed.

When he met the media later, the JR Motorsports driver still wasn’t happy.

“There’s no respect in this garage area right now,” Custer said. “We had another fight right outside of our truck that didn’t even involve us, but it’s just a joke right now, really. We’ll see what happens.”

Here is what Nemechek and Custer said afterward:

On the last lap:

Nemechek: “My guys gave me a great truck there at the end. Cole and I, we’re very competitive. Very competitive racers and we would have done anything in the same position to make sure we got that win.”

Custer: “Going into Turn 8, and going down the backstretch and into that corner, I had a car length or so on him and stayed about even. He might have closed up a little bit, and then going into the second-to-last corner, I drove pretty normal from what I had done the whole race, and guess he just drove in a little bit deeper and hit us in the back. That just got us off line and made me pinch the corner going into the last corner, and since I had to make a sharper corner, I had to slow down a little bit more, and he just decided to run into me again. That turned us into the wall, and then he hit me again in the door, and that sent us into the wall.”

On the frontstretch tackle:

Nemechek: “I didn’t know he was going to come over there and do that but there’s a lot of tempers that fly. It’s an emotional sport; it’s a competitive sport; that’s just how it goes sometimes.”

Custer: “I played freshman football, but that was definitely my biggest problem, I would not get low enough. I wasn’t expecting him to duck at the last second.”

On whether the feud is over and what NASCAR had said:

Nemechek: “I can’t really comment on (the conversation). It was good. We’re always looking forward to the next race, getting to the next race. We’re just going to take it one race at a time and do our best and if circumstances happen, they happen, but we’re looking forward to taking this momentum to Chicago and being good there and then taking it into the Chase and being in the final four at Homestead.”

Custer: “We talked to NASCAR, just talked to them for about 20 minutes in there, and it’s up in their hands, and it’s what they want to do, what they want to accept, I guess, what’s right in this sport. Ball’s in their court, can’t do much now. For retaliation, I’m not looking at that now.”

On what he means by “right in this sport” in the context of past truck races at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park featuring similarly controversial finishes:

Custer: “I think the last few years it has been (OK). This year, I don’t think it was. When you don’t give a guy a chance, what’s the point of racing? I couldn’t do anything else. He gave me no choice, no chance to do anything, so it’s not racing in my book. But he’s shown time and again throughout the year that he doesn’t have much respect, just through different situations when he’s under people. Instead of spinning himself out when it’s his fault, he’ll correct into them and ruin their day when it should have been his day ruined.”

On whether Sunday will change the way he races Nemechek going forward:

Custer: “I’m just not going to give him any breaks, really. If he decides to do anything or if he makes my day any harder than it has to be, I’m going to voice my opinion, I guess, but that’s about it.”

Follow @KellyCrandall

NASCAR America: Austin Dillon has earned right to drive the No. 3

Leave a comment

Early Monday morning, Austin Dillon drove the No. 3 Chevrolet to the NASCAR Cup Series’ victory lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was the number’s first visit there since October 2000, when Dale Earnhardt won his final race at Talladega Superspeedway.

The number has only been back in the Cup Series since 2014, when Richard Childress’ grandson, began driving full-time in the Cup Series.

On NASCAR America, two drivers from different generations, Dale Jarrett and Parker Kligerman, responded to the historic moment for the sport and for Richard Childress Racing.

“I assure you Dale Earnhardt would appreciate the efforts that have been made by Richard Childress and Austin Dillon to make all this happen,” Jarrett said. “There are going to be people who say about last night he was lucky to win this race. You’re not lucky to win any race. You have to put yourself into a position. You have to have a fast enough race car to make fuel mileage work in certain conditions. … This man has worked very hard to get where he is and he did a tremendous job. When you save that much fuel, you know exactly what you’re doing as a race car driver.”

Watch the video for the full segment and for Parker Kligerman’s thoughts.

NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 80: Jeff Burton on stage racing and its origins

Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Stage racing started in NASCAR this season.

But NBCSN analyst Jeff Burton believes that is only the first stage of the new approach to counting championship points.

“You’re going to see stage racing in other forms of motorsports,” he said on last week’s episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast. “Any series that have people racing for championships and points, stage racing is more exciting to watch and more exciting to do and rewards people that run the best the most.”

Burton discussed the origins of stage racing in the podcast. The NASCAR veteran was among the key discussions that led to its implementation, including a large meeting at Las Vegas late last year.

There were many options considered (including heat races) before the new system was announced in January.

“There were some crazy ideas, and many were mine,” Burton said with a laugh, adding that the vetting process had an air of good faith in the greater interests of racing. “It was one of the best things I’ve ever been involved in. The process was right, 100 percent.”

Other topics discussed on the podcast:

–Why the “win and you’re in” concept under the old system actually meant “win and you’re done”;

–Why drivers are never trying as hard as they think they can;

–How stage racing was a good example of how NASCAR could learn from what works in other professional sports while maintaining its differentiation.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.

It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify and a host of other smartphone apps.

NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 79: Jason Weigandt on Supercross, Monster and Jimmie Johnson

Leave a comment

Motocross journalist and broadcaster Jason Weigandt joined the NASCAR on NBC podcast to discuss the Supercross finale and the start of Outdoor season.

Weigandt, the editor of Racer X online magazine, also discussed how Monster Energy’s new title sponsorship of NASCAR has been perceived in Supercross, which the company has backed since 2008, and why he believes Jimmie Johnson isn’t NASCAR’s most popular driver despite his success.

Weigandt is the play-by-play announcer for the 2017 motocross season, which will be shown on NBCSN as well as on the NBC Sports Gold package (which will offer all motos, qualifiers and practices for the 12-round season as well as on-demand access to the past two seasons).

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.

It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify and a host of other smartphone apps.

 

NASCAR America: 50 States in 50 Shows: North Dakota

Leave a comment

Today’s edition of “50 States in 50 Shows” profiles Nodak Speedway in Minot, North Dakota.

The 3/8-mile dirt track is located 110 miles north of Bismarck and is located on the grounds of the North Dakota State Fair.

Watch the video for the full look Nodak Speedway.