Kyle Busch’s expectations of teammates? ‘Do what you need to do’

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Kyle Busch’s expectations of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates from this point on are simple.

“Race hard. Go for the win. Do what you need to do,’’ he said.

It’s the last part he had an issue with a week ago at Martinsville Speedway.

Busch’s patience wore thin when he and Matt Kenseth could not get by teammate Denny Hamlin late in the race as Jimmie Johnson pulled away to win. Hamlin finished third, Kenseth fourth and Busch fifth.

“We’re letting the 48 win this race,’’ Busch radioed his team. “You got to be (expletive) kidding me.’’

Busch remained upset after the race.

“We worked so good together, we gave the 48 car the win today,’’ he said. “That’s how good JGR is.’’

Car owner Joe Gibbs met with all four drivers this week to work through last weekend’s issues.

“The reason Denny did what he did is because now he has a third-place finish … which is the best of Matt and I if there was a tiebreaker situation,’’ Busch said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. “That’s what Denny was looking for. I get it. I understand it. I didn’t in the time frame in which we were racing. I was more so focused on one of us going to get the win and try to keep all of us eligible for Homestead.

“Denny did what he needed to do for the 11 team, which is respectable and understandable.’’

Hamlin is familiar with the tiebreaker system after advancing to this round by a tiebreaker (a third-place finish at Talladega) over Austin Dillon.

“This format obviously lends itself to a different situation than maybe in years past and maybe I was expecting a little bit different than what transpired in the race on Sunday,’’ Busch said. “We talked. Forgive and forget, move on.’’

This isn’t the first time Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have had issues on the track. The most notable example came at Richmond in April when Edwards bumped Busch out of the lead on the last lap to win that race.

“If you go back and watch throughout the year, we race each other hard,’’ Edwards said Friday. “There’s teamwork as much as you can have teamwork, but we’re competitors and we race each other very hard in that you’re going to have times when people are frustrated and that’s part of it.

“What we have as a group is something that I think is really special. I can tell you my three teammates have made me a better teammate and I’m grateful for that. When we have issues, we get right to it and we resolve it. I would do anything for my teammates, and I feel they would do the same. Yeah, we get frustrated with each other, but you get frustrated with everybody on the race track.’’

With every position critical and two races left before the championship field is set, it will be more difficult for teammates to help each other. Johnson’s Martinsville win leaves three spots left for the title race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That guarantees that all four Gibbs cars won’t be racing for a crown later this month.

With that in mind, teamwork can only go so far.

“I think our teamwork at Joe Gibbs Racing is second to none,’’ Kenseth said Friday. “I’ve had a lot of great teammates, none any better than what I have now, that’s for sure. Everybody is really, really competitive and wants to win.

“Our goal was to have four cars at Homestead and now there’s only three spots left. Every week we talk about what we can do to help each other, and make things better but we also realize when they drop the green on Sunday, it’s one against 39 and have to get the best finish we can for our respective teams.”

NASCAR America: Matt DiBenedetto on Indy success with small team

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Matt DiBenedetto has just three top-10 finishes in his three years of competing in the NASCAR Cup Series. But two of them have come this year in two of the biggest races in the sport.

DiBenedetto, who drives the No. 32 Ford for Go Fas Racing, finished ninth in the Daytona 500 in February and eighth in Sunday’s Brickyard 400.

DiBenedetto, who was also celebrating his 26th birthday, joined NASCAR America to discuss his run at Indy and what is considered a successful race for his team, which has 15 crew members.

“You’ve got to keep it in the perception of your versions of wins are a little bit different than everybody else’s version,” DiBenedetto said. “We look at it as who we’re racing around. I would say on a regular week where there’s not a ton of chaos like Indy was, a top 20 is a really good day. A top 25 is if we just do our job.”

Watch the video for the full segment.

Chase Elliott, AJ Allmendinger unveil Darlington throwback schemes

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Both Chase Elliott and AJ Allmendinger have revealed the paint schemes they’ll drive in the Sept. 3 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Elliott will use his No. 24 Chevrolet to pay tribute to the car his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, drove in his first Cup start.

The light blue look was on his No. 9 car when he started in the Feb. 29, 1976 race at Rockingham Speedway.

The car was revealed on Facebook in the below video.

AJ Allmendinger will pay tribute to two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte with his No. 47 Chevrolet.

The car will resemble the No. 44 Piedmont Airlines Oldsmobile that Labonte drove in during the 198 Cup season when he competed for owner Billy Hagan.

NASCAR America: Felix Sabates: ‘I’m lucky to be here’ after near-death experience from illness last year

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For nearly a month last year Felix Sabates was at death’s door.

The fears were so great that Sabates might not wake up from a coma he spent 29 days in, Chip Ganassi bought a blue suit for the possibility he might have to attend his co-owner’s funeral.

But the 71-year-old made a full recovery through a rehab process that included learning to walk again.

NASCAR America’s Kyle Petty and Sabates have a special relationship. Petty drove the No. 42 car for Sabates’ SABCO Racing for eight years in the 1980s and 1990s, winning six of his eight Cup races for the millionaire owner from Cuba.

Sabates sat down with Petty to discuss the ordeal, which began in January 2016 when Sabates began feeling ill during the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I came home and woke up the next morning and I (couldn’t) breath,” said Sabates, who drove himself to the hospital. “The minute they saw me I was in intensive care.”

Sabates was in the hospital for two and half weeks before he was released, but Sabates “should’ve know I wasn’t cured.”

The Chip Ganassi Racing co-owner returned to his usual grind until it caught up to him in August.

“My blood pressure was through the roof, my oxygen level was 55, which you should be dead then,” recalled Sabates, who has no memory of a three-month stretch. “They thought was I was brain-dead. They were pretty much going to disconnect me. So 4 o’clock in the morning, they took my tubes out.”

That’s when Sabates began the process of waking up.

“I’m lucky to be here,” said Sabates, who aside from being back at the track is also back to playing golf.

“I used to worry about little things,’ Sabates said. “Now I don’t even worry about big things.”

The full feature will air Sunday on Countdown to Green, which begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN before the Cup race at Pocono.

NASCAR America: Ryan Blaney glad Team Penske news is finally out in the open

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On Wednesday it was finally announced that Ryan Blaney would move from Wood Brothers Racing to Team Penske full-time next year in the Cup Series in the No. 12 Ford while Paul Menard will take over the No. 21 Ford.

NASCAR America’s Dave Burns caught up with Blaney on Thursday. Blaney was happy that his 2018 plans were finally public knowledge.

Blaney also acknowledged how a technical alliance between the two teams helped Wood Brothers Racing return to a competition level that allowed Blaney to get his first Cup win this season earlier this year.

“That was a big deal,” Blaney said. “That was getting us to where we could run a full-time season. That was really helpful not only to me but to (crew chief) Jeremy Bullins, will be coming with me to the 12 car.”

Blaney has been driving for Team Penske part-time in the Xfinity Series since 2012.

“It’s been nice to get the news and tell everybody finally about what we’re doing,” Blaney said. “But mainly we’re trying to finish this year out strong with the Wood Brothers, getting their 100th win, that’s really big. That’s on my bucket list for this year and getting as far as we can in the playoffs.”

The No. 21 team returns to Pocono Raceway this weekend, the site of Blaney’s first Cup win last month.

Watch the video for the full interview.