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

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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.’’

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Danica Patrick has a Daytona 500 team: Premium Motorsports

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The first piece of the “Danica Double” has been fully confirmed.

According to the Associated Press, Danica Patrick will drive the No. 7 Chevrolet for Premium Motorsports in next month’s Daytona 500. The AP reported that the car will be locked into the field through a charter and will receive engineering support from Richard Childress Racing.

Patrick entered NASCAR driving the No. 7 for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series from 2010-12. For the Feb. 18 race, she also will be reunited with crew chief Tony Eury Jr., who helped guide Patrick to her career-best NASCAR finish of fourth in a 2011 Xfinity race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The car will be sponsored by GoDaddy, which announced last week that it would sponsor Patrick in both this year’s Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500. Patrick has yet to reveal which team she will drive for in the Indy 500, which will conclude her racing career.

She already has made history in both events.

As a rookie in 2005, she became the first woman to lead the Indy 500 before taking fourth (and became the highest-finishing female in the race’s history with a third in 2009).

In the 2013 Daytona 500, she became the first woman to win the pole position and lead a race in NASCAR’s premier series.

New details of road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway

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CONCORD, North Carolina — The Sept. 30 Cup race on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s road course will be on a slightly altered 2.28-mile circuit.

The race, which airs on NBC, will serve as the conclusion of the first round of the playoffs. It is the first road course race in the 14-year history of the playoffs.

The alterations shorten the original 2.4-mile, 13-turn layout of the circuit. The track is now 2.28 miles and 17 turns after the removal of two of the last three infield turns. There will be more than 35 feet of elevation changes between Roval Turn 4 – the lowest point in the track – and Roval Turn 9, the highest point.

A chicane has also been added to the backstretch right before the entrance of Turn 3 of the oval. The track is adding 440 temporary rumble strips.

The distance for the race will be announced at a later date.

NASCAR held a test on the road course last October with Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Hemric and Jamie McMurray. Busch suggested the elimination of those turns in order to “speed up the track.”

“There are a lot of slow sections with Turns 5, 6 and 7,” Busch said. “Those are good rhythmic corners. … (But) a 3,500-pound car going 35 mph too many times isn’t too exciting.”

Truex was part of Monday’s presentation and gave his thoughts on the change.

“The lap times were so long that we were going to be looking at a race that was, I don’t even know how many hours,” Truex said. “Way too long. Basically taking out those two turns cut out quite a bit of lap time off the laps. It’s more so like a regular road course like Watkins Glen … we’ll be in kind of that realm.”

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, said that the race could be held at night if pushed back for various reasons. The race is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET.

“We’re working with the track who we believe will have something in place,” O’Donnell said. “Goodyear will be ready with rain tires if we had to make some adjustments.’’

There will be a Goodyear tire test in March and an open test for Cup teams in July.

O’Donnell said NASCAR is “comfortable” with the current layout of the course and that no changes are expected to be made following the tests.

NASCAR on NBC analysts Dale Jarrett and Jeff Burton took a few laps around the new layout and shared their thoughts on Facebook Live.

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ThorSport Racing partners with Ford in Truck Series

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ThorSport Racing has partnered with Ford in a multi-year deal in the Camping World Truck Series, the team announced Monday.

The team’s announcement comes a week after it revealed the mutual decision to part ways with Toyota.

“With 23 years in the NCWTS, we look forward to our new partnership with Ford Performance in NASCAR,” team owner Duke Thorson said in a press release. “Our pursuit of wins and championships remains at the forefront of our objectives.”

ThorSport, based in Sandusky, Ohio, had been paired with the Toyota for six years, winning two titles with Matt Crafton.

“We’re excited that ThorSport Racing has decided to switch to a F-Series truck for the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports in a press release. “ThorSport is a proven championship-level team in the series, and we look forward to providing them the aero and simulation technical support that will ensure they remain at the top level of the Truck Series.”

In 2017, Brad Keselowski Racing fielded the only two full-time Ford entries in the series. That team shut down following the end of the season.

Crafton will be returning to ThorSport for his 17th season – and 14th consecutive – with the team. The rest of the team’s driver lineup will be announced at a later date.

The Truck Series season begins Feb. 16th at Daytona International Speedway.

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D.J. Kennington to attempt to qualify for Daytona 500 with Gaunt Brothers Racing

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Canadian driver D.J. Kennington will try to qualify for the Daytona 500 with Gaunt Brothers Racing for the second year in a row, the team announced Monday.

Kennington, a native of St. Thomas, Ontario, will drive the No. 96 Toyota sponsored by Lordco Auto Parts and Castrol.

The team, sponsor and driver combination made the 2017 edition of the race, making Kennington the first Canadian driver to compete in the Daytona 500 in 29 years.

Kennington started 28th and finished 36th following a multi-car crash at the start of Stage 2.

“Last year was an awesome experience for my sponsors, Lordco and Castrol, and me,” Kennington said in a press release. “We knew once it was over, we wanted to do it again. (Team owner) Marty (Gaunt) and everybody at GBR is pulling out all the stops for us this year. I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the Lordco/Castrol Toyota Camry and seeing the difference a year makes.”

The 40-year-old driver has five Cup starts with a best finish of 26th in last November’s race at Phoenix.

Gaunt Brothers Racing does not own a charter, meaning Kennington is not guaranteed a starting spot in the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

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