NASCAR official says intention would be ‘not to react’ in Kyle Busch-Joey Logano incident

10 Comments

NASCAR plans to meet with Kyle Busch and Joey Logano to discuss their last-lap contact and altercation on pit road Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but a series official said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “our intention would be not to react’’ unless new evidence emerges.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer, addressed the Busch-Logano incident Monday on “The Morning Drive,’’ saying that it remained under review.

“We’ve always said that we’ve got to take everything and make sure we look at all the video,’’ O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I would say from our initial assessment last night in looking at what happened, as far as on track, I don’t think we saw anything that was intentional by any means. We’ll continue to review that. We’ve got to have discussions with both drivers. We talked to some folks postrace as well.

“I think our intention would be not to react unless we see something that we haven’t seen yet and something that comes up from those discussions. We’ll certainly bring both drivers together before we go on track in Phoenix and again have some dialogue. Still under review. It’s an emotional sport, and I think it shows exactly how much every position means on the track. These weren’t two guys going for the win, obviously going for top 10s, but it shows how important it is in the sport.’’

Asked if new series sponsor Monster Energy, which is known for its edginess, might impact NASCAR’s decision on the matter, O’Donnell said:

No. We love our sponsor for sure, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to make decisions for our sport. We’ll continue to do that. Again, we want to look at everything and see that we’re not missing anything from video, obviously. There’s a lot of video out there. More importantly, want to talk to the drivers involved and see where we go from there. Would like to just leave it at we’re going to talk to them and see where we end up prior to Phoenix.’’

O’Donnell also was asked about the involvement in crew members in the altercation on pit road.

“What our position has been, we want to leave it in the drivers hands,’’ O’Donnell said. “What we don’t want to see, and the drivers have asked for this, which is very fair, is a crew member initially approaching a driver or initiating some type of altercation with a driver.

“Just early review of this (incident). This was two drivers with crew members kind of stepping back, and once something happens, a crew is taught, which I think is right, that if someone comes up in your pit box and attacks your guy, you have the right to try to break that up or bring it to a stop. That was the initial review that we saw from the crewmembers. Again, there is still other video out there that we’ve got to look at. When we talked postrace to the race team that kind of confirmed what we had seen.’’

O’Donnell also was asked that if NASCAR issued penalties and the sport used the incident to promote it, if it would be sending a mixed message.

“I think that’s fair,’’ O’Donnell said. “You’ve got to toe the line that if you’re going to dole out penalties, you better not be using that to promote the sport. I think we recognize that and that’s not something we would do if we did hand out penalties, but I want to stress that our initial indication is really to just have dialogue with both of those drivers and see where we are and try to avoid that if we can.’’

 and on Facebook

Starting grid for the NASCAR Cup Series’ Auto Club 400

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the second pole of his NASCAR Cup Series career, Kyle Larson will lead the field to green Sunday in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

Joining Larson the front row is Denny Hamlin.

Filling out the top five is Brad Keselowski, Martin Treux Jr. and Ryan Newman.

Click here for the starting grid.

Kyle Larson wins pole for Auto Club 400, second Cup pole of career

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyle Larson ended a three-year drought by winning the pole for the NASCAR Cup Series’ Auto Club 400.

Larson won his second Cup Series pole with a speed of 187.047 mph around Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. His first pole came in the August 2013 race at Pocono Raceway.

The pole continues Larson’s impressive start to 2017. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver leads the point standings after earning three consecutive second-place finishes.

“I felt like messed up there in Turn 1 and 2 and I got a little bit loose off the wall on the entry and it got me to split the seam in (Turn) 1 and 2,” Larson told Fox Sports. “I was able to commit to (being) wide open off (Turn) 1 and 2. I hadn’t ran up high in (Turn) 3 and 4 at all in practice or qualifying here. Didn’t really know what I would have out there but ran a good ways and it stuck. … Our Target team has been really amazing to start the season and to get a pole is great. … Got a little team dinner tonight, so this will be a good thing to celebrate.”

Larson’s run knocked Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin from the top spot. As Larson drove down pit road, a Fox Sports camera caught Hamlin playfully showing his dissatisfaction by emptying a cup of ice in the direction of the No. 42.

“This is No. 1 on my list of track I want to win,” Hamlin told Fox Sports. “It’s bitten me mentally and physically … definitely one I want to check off.”

Filling out the top five is Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr and Ryan Newman.

Daniel Suarez qualified 10th for his best career Cup start.

No Hendrick Motorsports entries will start in the top 10. Kasey Kahne was the top qualifier in 12th, followed by Chase Elliott.

Five cars did not make qualifying attempts, with one of them being by choice. Jimmie Johnson’s team elected not to make an attempt following his accident in practice. He will start 37th.

Joining Johnson at the back of the field will be Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Matt DiBenedetto and Gray Gaulding. All of their cars did not make it through inspection in time to qualifying.

Click here for qualifying results.

Jimmie Johnson’s team elects not to make qualifying run after accident in practice

Leave a comment

Following Jimmie Johnson’s accident in practice early Friday, Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 48 team chose not to qualify with a backup car at Auto Club Speedway.

Johnson, a six-time winner at Auto Club Speedway, will start 37th in Sunday’s Auto Club 400.

Four other cars, including those of Joey Logano and Trevor Bayne, will start in the back after they did not make qualifying attempts. Their cars failed to get through inspection in time. Rookie Gray Gaulding and Matt DiBenedetto also did not qualify because their cars failed to get through inspection.

Johnson explained his team’s decision.

“We had a tough practice session and mid-pack was probably going to be our goal anyway,” he said. “So, to take our lumps here, at a track that’s really wide with a lot of lanes, a long race; we’ll just take our lumps and get the car right where we can take advantage of the precious minutes that we have in Saturday’s practice session and go from there. Pit road is going to be a problem. We’re not going to have a great pick there. We’re definitely not in a position we want to be in, so we’d rather take the time now and make sure we get everything right and get this car right; and also kind of control our risk factor.”

With ACS being such a wide race track with plenty of passing opportunities, Johnson is not in as bad a position to start Sunday’s race as he would be at more narrow track.

Crew chief Chad Knaus told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Claire B. Lang he wasn’t comfortable forcing Johnson to “hustle” to qualify a car he hadn’t practiced in.

Joey Logano completes sweep of Xfinity practices at Auto Club Speedway

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Joey Logano was fastest in the final Xfinity Series practice session at Auto Club Speedway for the Service King 300.

Driving Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford, Logano put up a speed of 176.804 mph on his 19th of 35 laps in the session

The top five as made up of Erik Jones (176.744), Paul Menard (176.587), Brandon Jones (176.475) and Kyle Larson (176.039).

William Byron and Brennan Poole recorded the most laps in the session with 37 each.

Logan also had the best 10-lap average at 174.889 mph.

Click here for the full practice report.