What drivers said after the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville

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Here is what drivers had to say after the 68th annual Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson – Winner: “I’ve been trying to ignore this conversation about seven (championships) but now I can’t! We’re locked in. I’m just honored to be in this position. I wouldn’t be in this position without the belief of Lowe’s and all their employees had in me back when I was running 10th or 15th in the Busch Series. Rick Hendrick, Jeff Gordon … all of the people who have believed in me to get this point. It’s crazy that we have a shot at seven now. We couldn’t do it without our partners at Chevrolet, Valvoline and the list goes on and on. Thanks to them all very much.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished second: “It was a good day for us, not the win. I think we had the speed capable to pull it off, but still a really strong day. The car was good. The team executed really well, we just kind of missed out on the racing Gods today. We have a lot to be proud of, a great effort, and showed that we’re still a strong team if not the strongest in the garage and I’m really proud of that.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished third: “It’s hard racing those guys (Jimmie Johnson) and racing very, very tough. Out of character for him over the last few years in the Chase, but they’re doing what they think is successful, but upsetting me is not going to make their job any easier. I think that he nearly wrecked us at New Hampshire and then we raced him hard for the lead. It’s one thing if it’s the lead at Charlotte because I was upset about New Hampshire and then we race like a bunch of dummies for seventh or eighth or something like that during halfway. That’s their prerogative and they can race however they want and we can race the way we want, but in turn they’re doing what they think they need to do to win a race.”

Matt Kenseth – Finished fourth: “We had a good day, not a great day. The guy doing a great day is the guy doing a burnout. We had a great car, we just got a caution when we didn’t need one – we were on pit road and then at the end when we needed a caution, I saw a car hit the wall and a car smoking so I was hoping to get another yellow and get a shot at it, but just didn’t get it. The chips just didn’t fall our way today, but we had a good car, we led some laps and ran a little better than we finished, but we still got a pretty decent finish out of it.”

Kyle Busch – Finished fifth: “You can’t wreck each other and that’s all there is to it I guess. We worked so good together that we gave the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) car the win today. That’s how good JGR is. We had a great M&M’s Camry and we could have been a little farther up front, but we were held up there and we couldn’t pass and if I did try to make moves or try to make a pass, I got cutoff. But we came through it with a top five. We probably could have been about second, I don’t know if we could have got up there and caught the 48 as long as we got caught up behind all that stuff, but we had a fifth-place car today and we showed that today. (Matt) Kenseth led the most laps today I think and we were right there with him much of the day so it’s frustrating not to be higher up.”

Jeff Gordon – Finished sixth: “Well, I had a lot of fun out there. It is great to be here in front of all these awesome short track and Martinsville NASCAR fans. It’s just a special place to me and I had a lot of fun and had a great car. This No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet was really good. I knew we didn’t have the short run speed for some of those Gibbs cars. I don’t know where Jimmie (Johnson) came from, wow; he is just so good here. You get him out front like that and he is just unbelievable. Congratulations to those guys stamping that victory and getting them to Homestead that is amazing just like we did last year. Had to overcome a lot of adversity, but that last run I don’t know if it was from running so many caution laps there trying to figure out the scoring, which was kind of a disaster, but that was a tough one for NASCAR to figure out. I don’t know if that had an effect on our tires or what, but the car just didn’t feel the same on that last run and had to settle for sixth.”

Martin Truex Jr. – Finished seventh: “This was a good step forward for us at Martinsville. Probably had the best car we ever had here. We started up front (on the pole) and led a bunch of laps early (147). We were up there all day, but have to figure out how to be better the second half of the race at Martinsville. Once we can do that we’ll have a shot at winning one of those grandfather clocks.  I really want one of those clocks. The second half of the race it was typical Martinsville — tight in the center and too loose on exit. We fought that for almost the entire second half of the race.”

Jamie McMurray – Finished eighth: “We had a good car. We got a little bit lucky with the caution there after we had a bad run and got a lap down there. It is nice to have a little bit of luck on our side. We had a really good car; we got a little bit of luck and got a good finish.”

Joey Logano – Finished ninth: “Overall, we had a top-five car, but we didn’t have the race play out the way we needed it to. No one made a mistake or is at fault, but that caution came out that jumbled the field up and we had the wave around to get back on the lead lap. Then when we waved around we were like thirty-something on the race track, so we just maintained. I just needed a caution to get caught up. I was hoping for a quick five-lap run and a caution so we could get caught up with those guys, but our car was better than ninth. We raced in the top five early in the race and that’s probably where we should have finished, but that’s racing sometimes. Sometimes you’re on each end of it. We got an OK day out of it – nothing bad and nothing great – but we got through it.”

AJ Allmendinger – Finished 10th: “Just a good day. Just missed it a little bit, couldn’t quite get the car to turn kind of right through the exit of the center of the corner to get it pointed. Just kind of struggled with the same thing all day. Compared to the spring I thought we were just a little bit off, but we still had good speed, ran in the top 10 all day. The way that played out I thought we were actually going to be real fortunate and have a shot and unfortunately I just ran out of fuel and had to make the decision to try to go right to pit road there to make sure we didn’t get stuck on the racetrack. Never seen a race at Martinsville last 100 laps green, I thought if we could have got a caution there we could have maybe fought back up to sixth, seventh or eighth that is kind of where we could run, I thought on outright speed. Third top 10 in a row, I think it’s the first time I’ve ever had three top 10’s in a row. I think it’s the first time the team has ever had it. Martinsville has always been a good place, but it just shows we are getting more speed in the car. A lot of these places that we are going to it’s definitely helping. Looking forward to the last three races, brand new cars and Texas and Phoenix are places we have kind of struggled at, look forward to going there and trying to improve.”

Greg Biffle – Finished 13th: “It feels good. We still split the nose apart around lap 30 and that cost us a top-10 finish today. Nothing has changed. We just keep learning every week about what we’ve got to do to our cars to get them better.  I’m pretty happy with coming home 13th.”

Aric Almirola – Finished 15th: “This is progress and it’s something we need to keep doing. It was a solid day for us. That’s what we need to do. Our team is capable of running top 15 and that’s what we need to do. It takes executing perfectly and getting everything right and today we did that. We did a good job on pit road. We executed the best we could and the car was decent. I’m proud of everybody on the Smithfield Ford Fusion. We’ll get ready for next week.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 16th: “We had a good Caterpillar Chevrolet during the first half of the event and we were able to race our way to as high as fifth. However, we had a few lengthy green-flag runs where we fought a tight-handling condition through the corners and that hindered us a bit. We never got the final caution to be able to adjust before the end of the race. We’ll move on from today and get ready for Texas Motor Speedway.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 17th: “We started the race with a challenge after we qualified 32nd on Friday but the entire Dow-Dow Corning team did a great job of giving me everything I needed to get the No. 3 Chevrolet up front. As we raced into the top 10, we were consistently clocked as one of the fastest cars. We were on the charge and made it as high as seventh before the caution was displayed in the middle of one of our fastest runs. As the race progressed, the track bar adjuster started to give us problems. It made it really difficult to work on the car’s handling and I wasn’t able to use it at all. Eventually, we were pinned a lap down. It’s a shame because we had a fast car all weekend.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 19th: “It was kind of an up-and-down day for sure. On some runs we were OK and other runs we kind of struggled a little bit. I didn’t think we were that bad. Our strong point was up to about lap 40 of a run and then we’d kind of fall off, but this is a place I’ve struggled pretty bad as a driver. I need to change some stuff up here, but I thought we were gonna finish better than what we did. I kind of got in some trouble there and lost a bunch of spots, but, overall, it was a decent day. I need to get a lot better here and that’s probably the biggest thing.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished 20th: “We were slow all weekend. We could just never get the handle on it.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 22nd: “We missed it. I don’t know where, how, why, we missed it. Even SHR (Stewart-Haas Racing) as a group we didn’t perform well.  That was not the day we needed. Sorry to State Water Heaters, their only race of the year and we didn’t perform well for them. We just missed it.”

Trevor Bayne – Finished 23rd: “We were really tight on the short-run. We had a really fast AdvoCare Ford on the long-run but we just lost too much track position on the short-run because of how tight we were. We fought hard all race long and my guys never gave up. We’ll move on from this weekend and get ready to head to Texas next week and race in AdvoCare’s backyard.”

Danica Patrick – Finished 24th: “That was a tough one. The Nature’s Bakery crew did a great job on pit road all day, and I have to give them credit for that. The brake issue just hurt us so much, especially early in the race, and we weren’t able to rebound as well as we would have liked. It’s tough having days like this, but when you’re down, you just have to dig in and do all you can to finish it out as best you can.”

Paul Menard – Finished 25th: “The car just wouldn’t turn today. We made adjustments to fix it but nothing seemed to stick for the long run. We had the handling better after final practice on Saturday, so we came a long way from Friday to today’s race. I’m not sure what caused the balance issues, but we’ll go back to the shop and look at our notes on Monday. I’m proud of this Dutch Boy Paints/Menards team for not giving up today.”

Tony Stewart – Finished 26th: “We just couldn’t get our car to turn today.”

Carl Edwards – Finished 36th: “Goodyear was kind enough and I have a lot of respect for them – they came down here and looked at the tire and said it was a belt failure so that’s really big of them to say, ‘Hey, there’s nothing you could have done about it.’ We had a really good race going and sometimes that’s just what happens in racing. I just feel bad for Sport Clips, I think we had a top-three car. I was having a lot of fun and now we just go to Texas and try to win there and Phoenix – we could win at either one of those race tracks.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Finished 40th: “It was the same thing that happened in qualifying. I just got in the brakes and the rear end started hopping. You lose all grip as soon as it happens, so that seems to be a typical thing for us at Martinsville – not finishing these races clean. I hate it for all the Fastenal guys and all of our fans.”

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NASCAR fines No. 6 Xfinity Series team crew chief for lug nut violation

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Only one penalty has emerged from this past weekend’s racing action at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

NASCAR announced on Thursday that the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Xfinity Series Ford Fusion, driven Darrell Wallace Jr., was found to be in violation of:

Sections 10.9.10.4: Tires and Wheels (lug nut not properly installed).

The penalty to crew chief Seth Barbour was a $5,000 fine.

There are no penalties against Wallace, team owners and Barbour will not be suspended.

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Full schedule for NASCAR Cup, Trucks this weekend at Martinsville

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The three-race West Coast Swing is over and NASCAR returns back east for this weekend’s racing action at Martinsville Speedway.

The half-mile, paper-clip shaped oval celebrates its 70th year of operation this weekend. Martinsville is the oldest track on the NASCAR circuit, opening in 1947.

The NASCAR Cup Series will hold its STP 500 on Sunday. The Xfinity Series is off this weekend, while the Xfinity Camping World Truck Series races for the first time in nearly a month, since March 4 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Here’s this weekend’s NASCAR schedule with TV and radio information.

All times are Eastern.

Friday, March 31

9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. – Cup garage open

11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. – Cup first practice (Fox Sports 1, Motor Racing Network)

11:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. – Truck garage open

1 – 1:55 p.m. – Truck first practice (FS1)

3 – 3:55 p.m. – Truck final practice (FS1)

4:35 p.m. – Cup qualifying (multi-vehicle, three-round) (FS1, MRN)

Saturday, April 1

7:30 a.m. – Truck garage open

8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. – Cup garage open

10 – 10:55 p.m. – Cup second practice (FS1, MRN)

11:05 a.m. – Truck qualifying (multi-vehicle/three rounds) (FS1)

1:15 p.m. – Truck driver/crew chief meeting

1:30 p.m. – Cup final practice (FS1, MRN)

2:30 p.m. – Truck driver introductions

3 p.m. – Alpha Energy Solutions 250 Truck race (250 laps, 131.5 miles) (Fox, MRN, Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, April 2

8:30 a.m. – Cup garage open

12 p.m. – Cup driver/crew chief meeting

1:20 p.m. – Cup driver introductions

2 p.m. – STP 500 NASCAR Cup race (500 laps, 263 miles) (FS1, MRN, Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio)

Stewart-Haas drops appeal, Knost to fill in for Childers as Harvick crew chief at Martinsville

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Daniel Knost – former crew chief for both Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick – will fill in as crew chief for Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion team for this weekend’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

SHR chose not to go forward with its appeal of a one-race suspension penalty against Rodney Childers, Harvick’s regular crew chief. Childers will sit out this weekend and pay a $25,000 fine after being penalized by NASCAR for an unapproved track bar assembly in post-race inspection March 19 following the Phoenix race.

“Basically we got in trouble for a part that was drawn a certain way and didn’t appear that way on the car,” Harvick said in a media release. “The way that NASCAR works now is you submit drawings for pretty much every part on your car. It has to meet certain specifications and that part didn’t meet it, so Rodney’s going to get to go on vacation this week.”

Harvick was also penalized 10 driver points and the No. 4 team lost 10 owner points for the infraction.

Knost is SHR’s director of vehicle dynamics. Previously, he was Busch’s crew chief for 33 races in 2014, including working together to earn a win at Martinsville in April of that year.

Knost then moved to Patrick’s team as crew chief for the last three races of 2014 and the entire 2015 season.

Harvick has one career win at Martinsville (spring 2006). But he’s struggled in the last two races at the half-mile, paper clip-sized oval, finishing 17th last spring and 20th last fall.

“I know this is probably one of the most painful weeks for (Childers) to go on vacation because Martinsville really hasn’t been our best track,” Harvick said. “… We push things and that’s what I want them to do. I want them to push everything on that car.

“Sometimes you’re going to get in trouble, but those guys have been the best in the business for the last three years. It’s kind of like growing up as a kid – sometimes you get in trouble and you have to suffer the consequences.”

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Xfinity Series Spotlight: Daniel Hemric on racing his wife, his ‘Alter ego’ and sleepovers with Dillon brothers

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As a kid growing up in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Daniel Hemric spent a lot of time with brothers Austin and Ty Dillon.

Nights were filled with games of hide-and-seek, paint ball matches and dreams.

Having first encountered each other on the Bandolero circuit, the aspiring race car drivers would stay up late into the night, conspiring about their racing futures.

“I remember sitting there talking about ‘Man, what would we do if we ever made to the top of NASCAR? Or just made it to NASCAR?’,” Hemric told NBC Sports. “Here we are trying to figure it out.”

They figured it out together, as the three have risen through the ranks of NASCAR with Hemric usually one step behind the brothers.

Hemric is now teammates with the Dillons at Richard Childress Racing, which is owned by their grandfather. While the Dillons are now both in the Cup Series full-time, Hemric is five races into his rookie campaign in the Xfinity Series driving the No. 21. His move comes after two seasons in the Camping World Truck Series, with the last season at Brad Keselowski Racing.

Though there are many veteran drivers at RCR he could consult, the 26-year-old rookie usually seeks out the Dillons.

“My crew chief Danny (Stockman) and Austin and Ty have all worked together in the past, so they have a little bit of communication there that helps me break through with Danny,” Hemric said. “Stuff that Danny’s asking or expecting of me is stuff he’s asked of them. It’s easier to go to those guys and really lean on them because they’ve been through the exact situation I’m in.”

That communication led to Hemric, who is seventh in the point standings, qualifying on the front row for last weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway.

This Q&A had been edited and condensed:

Daniel Hemric with Darrell Wallace Jr. in the garage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

NBC Sports: What was your first car?

Hemric: A ’95 Honda Civic, green.

NBC Sports: What kind of green? There’s good green and then there’s bad green.

Hemric: I’d say it’s probably a mix. I wouldn’t pick it for any other car if I had to have it. My mother bought the car brand new in ’95. She gave it to me and I still drive it up and down the road. … I’ve upgraded, I have a little nicer car for special occasions, but my little Honda still treats me right.

NBC Sports: Have you ever named a car, whether it be a street car or race car?

Hemric: Absolutely. I’ve had two of those. My Legends car was obviously very special to me, kind of helped me put my name on the map and her name was Sue. … We had a long-running joke with a guy I was teammates with back in the day, his mom was always a sweet lady. After we named the car we started winning a lot of races and it stuck. The other one I had a late model that I had a bunch of guys pitch in and build, a bunch of different owners were involved and the car was all white, white everything. Ran a couple races, won a couple races with it. Whenever I stripped the car and rebuilt it, went back and everything was exactly the opposite color. Everything was flat black, everything was black out. It took on the name “Alter ego.” Went on to have a lot of success with that car as well. Maybe that’s the thing, I need to start naming these stock cars.

NBC Sports: If you were to race in the Cup Series night race at Bristol, what would your intro song be?

Hemric: People probably wouldn’t believe me if I said this, but I’m actually into some old school rap. There’s an old Yung Joc song called “Hear Me Comin’.” I feel like that’s the proper language for a Bristol night race. (Writer’s note: “old school” apparently means 2006 these days.)

NBC Sports: What’s on your bucket list that’s not related to racing?

Hemric: With being more heavily involved in golf and snowboarding, I’d like to go to Vermont or somewhere more exotic snowboarding with a lot of fresh snow, that would be really cool. Playing golf in some really cool places. Pebble Beach. I know a lot of people that have played there, so maybe go play there a couple times is something I’d like to knock off the list.

NBC Sports: What’s the most emotional reaction you’ve had to a sporting event that wasn’t auto racing?

Hemric: Here recently, within the last few weeks,we got to go to one of the top five majors of tennis and I’ve never followed it, never seen a tennis match, didn’t know the rules. Here we are pretty much sitting front row at this tennis match. To feel the intensity and what these guys are playing for, Roger Federer wound up winning the match, but to be able to all of a sudden go from not a fan, not know anything about the sport to watching these guys do battle … was just an overwhelming experience. These guys laid it on the line. Just pure emotion. I thought that was a really cool experience.

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NBC Sports: Who was your favorite driver growing up?

Hemric: Dale Earnhardt, no doubt. … Being from Kannapolis, North Carolina, it was kind of an obvious pick for me. With DEI being right down the road, with that being the pinnacle of the sport, I didn’t know anything else. My dad was a follower, all my family. It was one of those things that got kind of pushed down. As I began my own racing career and I got to choose a number, the number was three. As I started racing go karts heavily, the guy that I always pulled for, that kind of carried with me growing up.

NBC Sports: Do you remember the first time you saw your face or name on merchandise?

Hemric: The first couple of years of Truck racing, I didn’t have a whole lot of stuff. I had been out of town racing and I got got back from a Truck race late one night. My wife (Kenzie Ruston), she raced as well, she was coming from a race. We met at our house at like 3 a.m. in the morning and there’s a box on the porch. And I’m thinking, ‘What did you order now?’ She says ‘I didn’t order anything.’ We get inside and open the box up and here’s a compete (cardboard) standup of myself in this box. I unfolded this thing and it was so random, unexpected. Draw Tite, the sponsor that was a big part of my career at Brad Keselowski Racing, just sent it to me saying ‘We think this is probably the first one you’ve ever had, hope you enjoy it.’ It’s a very awkward tease that we have in our house. We try to put it in the spare bedroom so when people stay over, it tries to spook them when they open the door.

NBC Sports: Your wife races too?

Hemric: Yeah, she grew up racing as well in Legend cars. She ran a couple of ARCA races and super late models (and three seasons in the K&N Pro Series East. She’s a former member of NASCAR Next). She’s kind of on the retiring path currently trying to keep up with me. She’s a heck of a driver herself, that’s how we met.

NBC Sports: You’ve actually raced against her?

Hemric: Yeah, we actually ran numerous races against each other, a couple of times in the super late-model ranks. Her claim to fame is that she was the only female ever to win a super late-model race at Lucas Oil Raceway Park in Indianapolis. I can’t remember how it went down, but I was third, Ryan Blaney was fourth and Chase Elliott was fifth, somewhere in that order. That’s her go-to whenever you ask ‘Have you ever beat Daniel?’

Previous Xfinity Spotlight Q&A’s

Justin Allgaier

Darrell Wallace Jr.

Michael Annett

Ryan Reed

Brandon Jones

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