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

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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.

NASCAR America: Kyle Busch questions Xfinity rules package at Indy

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Kyle Busch isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and he certainly did so after Saturday’s  Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NASCAR implemented a number of changes to make the racing closer, tighter and more exciting — including restrictor plates, a larger rear spoiler, aero ducts, and a smaller splitter — and achieved all that on many fronts.

But not for the younger Busch brother, who wasn’t pleased with the rules package. Was it actually designed to specifically slow him down rather than to even out things for the entire field?

Or was he just simply upset because he didn’t win a third Xfinity race in a row at IMS?

Check out how our NASCAR America analysts gauged the Xfinity changes in the above video.

 

TriStar Motorsports team owner Mark Smith passes away

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Mark Smith, owner of TriStar Motorsports, died Saturday at his home, after a long battle with cancer, the team announced Monday. He was 63.

He began his racing career building engines for his brother Jack’s drag car in the 1970s. He moved his family from the West Coast in the early 1990s to pursue a career in NASCAR. He was the owner of TriStar Motorsports and Pro Motor Engines.

TriStar Motorsports fields the No. 14 in the Xfinty Series with JJ Yeley and the No. 72 in the Cup Series with Cole Whitt. The team stated the team will continue operations under the management of Bryan Smith, son of Mark Smith.

“It was dad’s dream to own and operate a NASCAR team,” Bryan Smith said. “He devoted his life to that dream and his family plans to honor his wishes by continuing our efforts in his memory.”

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Victory Junction Gang victoryjunction.org or NOVA (National Organization for Vehicle Access, part of the BraunAbility) novafunding.org.

The family will receive friends from 5-8 p.m. ET, Aug. 1 at Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, Mooresville, North Carolina. They have created a Facebook page where you are encouraged to leave a story for the family to enjoy. (facebook.com/Remembering-Mark-Smith-301261653675224)

NASCAR America: Analysts break down Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. wreck (video)

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Given how wild the Brickyard 400 played out, the big wreck between race leaders Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. wasn’t exactly surprising.

Rather, with the way the race transpired from the opening lap, was the Busch/Truex wreck almost inevitable?

Truex got loose and washed up into the left rear of Busch’s car, sending both drivers and their respective cars into the outside retaining walls, hitting hard and ending their respective days.

Check out what our NASCAR America analysts had to say about the wreck from Monday’s show in the above video.

NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr. recaps wild Brickyard 400 (video)

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, Dale Earnhardt Jr. — who will become part of our NBC Sports Group in 2018 — looked back on a wild and intense Brickyard 400.

Earnhardt was one of several drivers whose day came to an early ending — in Junior’s case when he ran into the back of Trevor Bayne‘s car, destroying his radiator in the process.

All the mayhem and mishaps could be linked to over-aggressive driving, Earnhardt said, saying that every driver was in “attack mode,” especially on restarts.

Check out Junior in the video above.