MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 30:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, lead Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 30, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Denny Hamlin unhappy with Jimmie Johnson’s driving; Johnson flattered


MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Denny Hamlin is tiring of how Jimmie Johnson races. Johnson doesn’t understand what Hamlin’s issue is.

Hamlin complained on his radio and warned Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus, that he would take action before bumping  Johnson out of the way during Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway.

The frustration did not stem from just Sunday, though. Hamlin’s patience with Johnson – who won Sunday’s race – has waned since last month at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Hamlin’s anger boiled while he ran seventh, trailing Johnson about 175 laps into the 500-lap race.

“We were racing for 13th or something at New Hampshire and he turned us, luckily I saved it,’’ Hamlin said of Johnson. “Nearly wrecked us there. I raced him hard for the lead at Charlotte and then we come here and I catch him from a really long ways back. They didn’t want to let us go. It was frustrating from my standpoint, so I had to move him out of the way. I gave him many warnings on the radio.’’

As Hamlin continued to hound Johnson, Hamlin’s frustration grew. He complained on the radio about how Johnson has raced the past couple of years in general and the New Hampshire episode in particular. Hamlin said on the radio he would move Johnson.

“He thinks I’m bluffing. He thinks I’m bluffing,’’ Hamlin said.

At one point, Hamlin called out Knaus, Johnson’s crew chief, saying: “All right Chad, this is why I race you the way I do.’’

For all that happened, Johnson was confused by Hamlin’s actions.

“I’m puzzled that he had to move me like he did,’’ Johnson said after his ninth career Martinsville victory. “The inside is a preferred lane. I gave him the inside. I had a little something working on the top. There’s a line of cars behind him. I just can’t roll over.

“I prefer to race people cleanly. I could have easily taken the easy route and moved him when he came back to take over the lead, and I didn’t. I hope that showed him that, ‘Look, man, I don’t have a beef.’

“I don’t know what he has cooking in his head, what he thinks happened at Loudon, what he thinks happened at Charlotte. Man, I’m out there to win. We got points on the line. We got a championship in the line. I got accused of racing hard? I’ll take that as a compliment.’’


In need of a wedding singer? Call Steven Tyler

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 05:  Singer Steven Tyler performs during his "Out on a Limb" tour at the Dolby Theatre on July 5, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ABA)
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ABA
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Steven Tyler has performed with Aerosmith in a video for ESPN back when it broadcast NASCAR races. Tyler also has performed before the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Now, he’s played Kurt Busch‘s wedding.

What more is left for the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer?

Tyler performed at a celebration for the marriage of Kurt and Ashley Busch earlier this month. Kurt Busch posted a photo of the evening.

That NASCAR-themed video Tyler did with Aerosmith for the 2007 season? Here it is:

Before he performed at Bristol in Aug. 2015, Tyler met Richard Petty:

Chip Ganassi Racing adds competition director

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 27:  Team owner Chip Ganassi looks on as drivers perpare on Carb Day ahead of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 27, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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Chip Ganassi Racing has hired Mark McArdle to be its competition director, a new position for the organization.

McArlde will oversee the team’s two Cup teams — Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray — and its Xfinity operation, which features Brennan Poole, Tyler Reddick, Justin Marks and Larson.

McArdle had been with Roush Fenway Racing. He joined the team in Nov. 2014 to oversee engineering for its Cup and Xfinity programs. He previously had been director of racing operations at Richard Childress Racing, joining that organization in April 2013. He spent four years before that at Furniture Row Racing, overseeing the team’s competition department.

At Ganassi, McArdle will report to Max Jones, team manager.

Last year marked the first time in the team’s history that it had two cars make the Cup playoffs. Both Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray, though, failed to advance from the first round. Larson, who had one win, finished ninth in the points. McMurray, who was winless, placed 13th.

“I think everybody in the building feels like we took a good step forward last year,’’ said Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing. “We’re not happy with the step we took. We have more to do. So, being able to bring more of the leadership into the building that can focus on how we get there, the process that we need, we continue to bring on more people.

“I think Max feels like another person can help us make sure that everybody is focused on the right thing and we’re not wasting time and resources. Mark brings a tremendous amount of expertise to continue that growth that we’ve seen.’’

JR Motorsports to keep championship-contending tandem together

SPARTA, KY - JULY 07:  Elliott Sadler, driver of the #1 OneMain Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway on July 7, 2016 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images
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JR Motorsports confirmed Tuesday that crew chief Kevin Meendering will remain with Elliott Sadler this season.

Meendering and Sadler recorded three Xfinity wins last year in their first season together. Meendering also helped Sadler score a career-best 29 top-10 results and finish runner-up for the series title to Daniel Suarez.

The announcement was included in a team release about Hunt Brothers Pizza serving as the primary sponsor for Sadler’s car in two races in each of the next two seasons.

Wood Brothers give a tour of new race shop

LOUDON, NH - JULY 15:  Ryan Blaney, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 16, 2016 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
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The Wood Brothers begin this season not only with a charter but with a new home.

The team had shared a building with JTG Daugherty in Harrisburg, North Carolina, but moved after last season to a shop in Mooresville, North Carolina. The move puts the Wood Brothers closer to Team Penske. The two organizations are aligned.

The Wood Brothers will again have Ryan Blaney as driver. The team also has a charter, leasing it from Go Fas Racing. That means the Wood Brothers team is guaranteed a starting spot in every Cup race this year, unlike last year when they did not have a charter.