Out of the playoffs but back on the pole at Martinsville for Martin Truex Jr.

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Five days after being eliminated from championship contention, Martin Truex Jr. captured the pole position for Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

The Furniture Row Racing driver turned a lap at 98.206 mph on the 0.526-mile oval, besting Joey Logano (98.165) and Jimmie Johnson (97.840). Logano fell one spot short of his fourth consecutive pole at Martinsville.

It was the second straight pole for Truex, who also qualified first at Talladega Superspeedway, and his fifth of the season. He was eliminated by an engine failure at Talladega.

“This place is just so tough, and that first pit stall is just so critical to having a shot at winning here,” he said. “I would love to get my first grandfather clock. And a little bit after last week, this helps a little bit. All in all, just proud of the guys for coming here with a game plan and executing.”

A.J. Allmendinger and Chase Elliott rounded out the top five.

Tony Stewart qualified sixth ahead of Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch.

Three Chase contenders failed to advance to the final round: Matt Kenseth, who will start 17th, Kevin Harvick (20th) and Kurt Busch (23rd).

David Ragan qualified a season-best 12th, behind final-round qualifiers Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman.

Click here to see how the three rounds of qualifying at Martinsville Speedway unfolded.

It was a rough qualifying session for Roush Fenway Racing, which didn’t advance any of its cars from the first round. Greg Biffle was 25th, Trevor Bayne 31st and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 39th after his No. 17 Ford slammed the wall from wheel-hopping entering Turn 1 early in the session. Stenhouse will race a backup car Sunday.

 

NASCAR America: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. talks Phoenix finish, racing roots

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. joins NASCAR America to go over his fourth-place finish at Phoenix Raceway.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver also shares his racing origins in Mississippi and the hobbies he and girlfriend Danica Patrick share with each other.

Stenhouse is in his fifth full-time year competing in the NASCAR Cup Series with Roush Fenway Racing.

NASCAR America: 50 States in 50 Shows: Alaska

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NASCAR America continues its journey through the United States with the second chapter in “50 States in 50 Shows.”

Following South Alabama Speedway, the show features Capitol Speedway and Alaska Raceway Park in Alaska.

Owned by Nancy and Wes Wallace, Capitol Speedway is a 3/8th-mile oval and features sprint car racing and demolition derbies.

 

Kevin Harvick crew chief fined, suspended one race for encumbered finish

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Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief, Rodney Childers, has been suspended for one NASCAR Cup Series race and fined $25,000 for an unapproved track bar slider assembly last weekend at Phoenix Raceway.

The penalty, a L1 infraction, results in an encumbered finish. Harvick placed sixth in the Camping World 500.

The No. 4 team has also been docked 10 driver and owner points. Harvick was seventh in the standings after four races. He trailed leader Kyle Larson by 61 points. The loss of points drops Harvick one spot to eighth behind Jamie McMurray.

Harvick has not won a race yet, which would qualify him for the playoffs.

MORE: Brad Keselowski closes crew chief for three races, team docked 35 driver points

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NASCAR docks Brad Keselowski, Team Penske 35 points; suspends crew chief Paul Wolfe

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NASCAR docked Brad Keselowski 35 points, suspended crew chief Paul Wolfe three races and fined Wolfe $65,000 because Keselowski’s car failed inspection after finishing fifth in last weekend’s race at Phoenix Raceway.

NASCAR also docked the team 35 owner points for the L1 infraction. NASCAR stated that Keselowski’s result is an encumbered finish.

NASCAR cited Keselowski’s car for failing weights and measurements on the laser platform. NASCAR stated in Wednesday’s penalty report that the team failed the rear wheel steer on the Laser Inspection Station. 

MORE: NASCAR suspends crew chief Rodney Childers one race

Team Penske issued a statement Wednesday:

“We have acknowledged the penalties levied against the No. 2 team following last weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.  The race cars returned to the race shop today and we are in the process of evaluating the area in question. In the meantime, we have decided Brian Wilson will serve as Brad Keselowski’s crew chief at Auto Club Speedway while we evaluate our approach relative to today’s penalties.”

The penalty drops Keselowski from second in the standings to fourth heading into this weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway.

The more significant issue is how this could impact Keselowski, who already has a win, in the playoffs.

The top 10 in points before the playoffs begin earn additional points. The points leader earns 15 playoff points. The driver second in the standings earns 10 playoff points, the driver third in the standings earns eight playoff points, the driver fourth in the standings earns seven playoff points. It goes down to the driver 10th in the standings earning one playoff point.

Those playoff points carry through the first three rounds, which is different from last year. Falling behind in the regular season – or losing points because of a penalty – could have ramifications in the playoffs. 

“I think it’s real important to explain why points matter this year,” Keselowski said on Fox Sports 1’s “Race Hub” on Wednesday night. “Last year, you got a win and you locked in and you got to the next round. This year with points, you still lock in with wins. The difference is there’s a huge points bonus for having the most points at the end of the season that carries all the way through the playoffs, and you only get that bonus if you’re one of the best cars and leading up front at the end of the regular season, which requires having a lot of points. Thirty-five points is a pretty big deal, and so is 10 points for Kevin (Harvick) and his team.”

 

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