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‘It was epic:’ Why Clint Bowyer will never forget his first race on asphalt

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Clint Bowyer is one of the best storytellers in NASCAR. He never seems to be at a loss to come up with great tales and yarns.

During the recent NASCAR Media Tour, Bowyer stopped by the NBC booth to talk about his hopes for 2017, but also decided to take a walk down memory lane.

When asked what it was like to take a lap around the track he cut his racing teeth on and what made it so cool, the Emporia, Kansas native reflected back to the late 1990s and a race he’ll never forget.

“Probably Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City is what put me on the map,” Bowyer began. “Awesome racetrack. It was an asphalt track and I did drive on it when it was asphalt (even though he cut his teeth on dirt track racing).

“A funny story, true story: My friend, Tim Karrick, I had always wanted to drive asphalt and I had been running real well on dirt. The last race of the year was a points race. Tim was running second in the points, Jeff Klem was leading the points and pretty much had it wrapped, all he had to do was finish the race and it was done.

“Tim was down and out and knew Jeff pretty much had it done, so he let me drive his back-up car. I’d never been on asphalt before in my life. Going around there, making laps, all of a sudden the car gets extremely loose.

“I’m asking the spotter, ‘Hey, this thing is so loose, I can’t hold on to it. What’s the deal?’ And he said ‘You’re fine, you’re fine, just keep going.’ The tires wore out. About that time, the left rear tire rolls off the bead. I spin out getting into (turn) three, save it and try to get it restarted and I hear screeching coming and BOOM! I look over and it’s Jeff Klem, the guy that was the points leader.

“The guy that owned my car was racing for a championship. (Klem) hit me, knocked the rear end out of his car, he couldn’t finish the rest of the race, lost the championship, the guy that owned my car won the championship and it was all set up, everybody thought I did it on purpose.

“There was a huge fight in the pits, they hid me in a van, closed the door and locked the doors, and these guys were out there fighting, beating each other with jack handles – and I caused it all. That happened.”

When asked if there was a conclusion to his tale, Bowyer revealed the rest of the story.

“I don’t know, look up the police department in Kansas City, I’m sure there’s a police record of it,” Bowyer said. “It was epic. You should have been there that night. It was unbelievable.”

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NASCAR America: Comparing severity of Harvick, Keselowski and Allmendinger penalties

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NASCAR handed out two crew chief suspensions in the Cup this week following the race weekend in Phoenix while another was upheld on appeal.

Brad Keselowski‘s crew chief, Paul Wolfe, was suspended three races and the team was docked 35 driver and owners points for failing weights and measurements in post-race inspection.

Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief, Rodney Childers, was suspended one race and the team docked 10 driver and owner points for an unapproved track bar slider assembly.

The penalties for AJ Allmendinger‘s team, including the suspension of crew chief Randall Burnett, was upheld after an appeal.

The NASCAR America crew debates which team is hurt the most by their penalties.

 

Mario Andretti tries out, approves of Charlotte Motor Speedway road course

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We now have two positive reviews of the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course.

Following AJ Allmendinger‘s comments back in January, IndyCar legend Mario Andretti has shared his thoughts on the 2.4-mile circuit that will likely host a NASCAR Cup race in fall 2018.

As a guest of the track and the NASCAR Racing Experience, the 77-year-old driver piloted two cars – a 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid and a 2017 Cadillac CTS-V. Andretti maxed out at 177 mph in the Porsche.

“It’s very difficult sometimes to really create a road course where you can ‘stretch your legs’ inside an oval,” Andretti said in a press release. “From that standpoint, I think they did a good job by giving it rhythm by putting some banking to the hairpin corners – which obviously invites some overtaking. It’s wide enough that you can choose a line. You’re not really trapped. … It’s got a multiple-line (groove) that you can choose from, depending on the capability of the car.”

The “roval” circuit would use most of the 1.5-mile oval NASCAR already competes on.

Allmendinger took part in a data test on the road course in mid-January and later said it “was a lot of fun.”

Earlier this month, Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Marcus Smith said the track “learned a lot” from the test.

“We have done a lot to engineer a world-class road course that would include the ‘roval,'” Smith told NBC Sports, adding that “several truckloads of crash walls and catchfence” were being transported in for installation.

The Cup Series has two road courses on it schedule, at Sonoma Raceway in California and Watkins Glen International in New York.

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Drivers unhurt in crash of Furniture Row Racing hauler near Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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The drivers of the Furniture Row Racing hauler carrying Erik Jones’ No. 77 Toyota were uninjured Thursday in a hit-and-run accident 15 miles north of Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Travis Watts, who was behind the wheel, and David Shano were traveling from Phoenix Raceway to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, when their tractor-trailer rig was struck shortly after midnight on Interstate 15, according to a team release. The team said a car carrying two occupants pulled off the shoulder and back onto the highway directly in front of the truck, causing front-end damage to the tractor.

The team said there was no damage to the trailer or its interior, which was carrying Jones’ cars.

“We’re all very relieved no one was injured in the incident,” team president Joe Garone said. “There was substantial damage to the tractor, but everything in the trailer was checked out thoroughly and is OK. We’ve rented a tractor and the No. 77 hauler is on schedule to arrive at Auto Club Speedway later (Thursday).”

The team rented a replacement tractor at a Rush Truck Centers in North Las Vegas.

According to the team, the Nevada Highway Patrol apprehended and arrested the occupants of the car. The team is working to supply police with a video dash cam from the No. 77 tractor.

NASCAR America live at 5:30 p.m. ET: Auto Club Speedway preview, iRacing simulator

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs for 90 minutes beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and previews this weekend’s action at Auto Club Speedway.

Krista Voda hosts with Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut. Dale Jarrett joins them from Burton’s Garage.

On today’s show:

  • My Home Track: 50 States in 50 Shows continues as we visit Central Arizona Speedway in Casa Grande. We’ll also discuss some fun facts about the Grand Canyon State.
  • 2014 Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick has been on a roller coaster ride through four races this season. Now, he heads home to California where he looks to grab his first win of the season. We’ll take a trip to Harvick’s hometown of Bakersfield and examine his Racing Roots.
  • Kligerman jumps in the simulator to see what challenges the drivers will face this weekend in Fontana.

If you can’t catch the show on TV, you also can watch it via the online stream at http://nascarstream.nbcsports.com

If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you plug-in that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5:30 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.