Mark Martin says NASCAR should not punish Kyle Busch or Joey Logano for fight

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin said “I applaud” Kyle Busch’s actions after Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Before you react, let Martin explain.

“Kyle’s actions after the race, I applaud,’’ Martin said Wednesday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I absolutely think that it is a disgrace to the sport to wreck a race car after the race is over. Nothing has made me more mad than to have somebody mad at me and run all over my car after the race is over. Totally uncalled for. You should handle your business man-to-man. Kyle in handling his business man-to-man, I approve of.

“Now, Joey didn’t have that coming in my opinion, but still rather than running over his race car after the race, I approve of handling your business, I always handled my business face-to-face, man-to-man, and I think it should be done that way.

“So there is some good, bad and ugly in that thing. In Joey’s account, the same thing. I don’t think he had a whipping coming. On his behalf, I will say one thing, anybody that ever doubted whether Joey would stand up for himself or not, got to see it. He didn’t have to think twice about climbing on Kyle. I thought that was interesting to see as well.

“Of course the ugly, these things turn into a gang pile with the crews. I understand that, but I wish they wouldn’t. When you are a crew guy, you believe in your driver so much that nobody better touch him. That’s the way the crew guys feel. I wish the guys could handle it face-to-face, man-to-man and leave the equipment out of it and leave the crews out of it, but at the end of the day it sure did make for a lot of excitement after the race, I will say that. I did approve of the attempt to handle things person-to-person. I would prefer to handle it without getting physical. Still at the end of the day it sure made for some excitement.’’

NASCAR had yet to announce Wednesday morning if there would be any penalties to either driver. Martin said neither should be penalized.

“I absolutely don’t think there should be punishment,’’ Martin told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I don’t think we should condone physical (confrontations), but I certainly think you should be able to, either in private handle your business face-to-face and man-to-man. Even if it happens to get physical for some reason under these high emotional situations, I think that’s OK, and I think that trying to take that away wasn’t good for the sport.

“I know a lot of the fans want to see that emotion. You can see the emotion without having a fight, it can be more like a face-to-face argument kind of confrontation. I think it was good. Unfortunately, I think that Kyle’s emotions got the best of him because … Joey made a mistake on the race track, and I don’t think he should get hit in the face over making a mistake. I know I would have wound up getting beat up a lot of times if I got whipped for making a mistake. There’s a difference between making a mistake and doing something intentional.’’

Martin said he was never in a physical confrontation with a driver but told the story of how Juan Pablo Montoya made him angry one race and what happened.

“With Juan Pablo Montoya one time after a race, he ran down the side of my race car, which is fighting actions and I went after him, but I didn’t intend to hit him,’’ Martin said. “He’s bigger than me and probably would have clobbered me, but I went after him with a pretty aggressive way and was going to have a discussion about it.

“Lucky for me, I was able to follow him to his garage and get out of my car at the garage where the crews were. Unfortunately, what makes you even madder when you’re like in Kyle’s position and you’re going to confront the other driver is that the crew guys interfere with you even having a discussion.

“That really makes you mad because you’re mad already and you’re not even trying to have a fight, you just want to talk about it and air your frustration and the guys are standing in between you. I’m not bad-mouthing them. I appreciate that. I appreciate the fact that these team guys will march into a burning building for their driver. They believe so much and they have to, and I appreciate that, but it’s an unfortunate situation when you can’t confront the other driver without having to deal with the crew guys.’’

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Atlanta Motor Speedway to delay repave at least a year

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The cries of drivers have been heard. Atlanta Motor Speedway will not repave its track as previously scheduled. Instead, track officials will evaluate the surface following the 2018 race there.

Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns the track, had planned to have the track surface repaved beginning in late March. It would have been the first repave there since 1997.

Engineers examined the track after the March 5 race to determine if the track surface could last another year with modest repairs. Track officials also consulted with Goodyear and others.

“There’s no question that the surface is worn out, but probably the most powerful lobby this side of Washington, D.C., was the biggest influence,” Ed Clark, president of Atlanta Motor Speedway, told NBC Sports of the drivers. “They kind of put the pressure on. I understand.”

After winning there, Brad Keselowski made his pitch not to repave the track.

“Drivers hate repaves,” he said. “We want to see the surfaces last as long as they can.  But the reality is nothing lasts forever, and this surface has made it a really, really long time, 20 years, I think, this season, and they should be really proud of that.

“My hope is they can get another year or two out of it, and I understand if they can’t, and you have to kind of leave it to their expertise and so forth.”

Clark said that work will need to be done to the track before next year’s race.

“The worst part is down the frontstretch in front of the grandstands,” Clark told NBC Sports. “There’s a lot of issues there. We’re actually going to have to cut a few areas and patch … to make it last through 2018. We consulted with Goodyear on that. They don’t think, as long as it is on the straightaway, it is a big issue from a tire standpoint.”

Clark said that the track surface will be sealed in October and should have the patching done before then.

“Let them go ahead and slip and slide one more time in 2018,” Clark said.

Clark said that while anything can change, he doesn’t foresee being talked out of a repave job too many more times.

“You have to see how the weekend goes and what happens,” Clark told NBC Sports. “We had to patch some places after the Saturday events this year, small places. Hey, if we could go two more, great. All you’ve got to do is walk out there and look at it. It is absolutely worn out. But if the drivers say, hey our choice is to race on this surface as it is.

“There comes a point (when a repave is needed). We do have a few drainage issues we do need to correct, some other things when the time comes. Right now, we’re going to get through 2018 and evaluate and see if that is the time or when is it.”

Clark said that when the track is repaved, Goodyear has expressed interest in having two test sessions to determine the proper tire for that 1.5-mile track instead of the customary one because of the track’s challenging surface.

Clark warns that with the excitement of Tuesday’s news, the day is still coming when the track will have to be repaved.

“I can’t see this going two more seasons, maybe only one,” Clark said.

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NASCAR America — My Home Track: 50 States In 50 Shows — Arkansas

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, we continued our series of My Home Track: 50 States in 50 Shows as our trucks rolled into Arkansas!

We visited two short tracks in the state that produced President Bill Clinton and Basketball Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen.

Plus we talked to NASCAR Hall of Famer and Arkansas native Mark Martin about racing in his home state.

NASCAR America: Is there cause for concern with Jimmie Johnson’s performance thus far?

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It’s no secret that Jimmie Johnson is off to a slow start in 2017.

The defending and seven-time NASCAR Cup champion has a starting average of 21.8 and a finishing average of 18.8 in the first five races of this season.

He has just one top-10 finish (ninth at Phoenix), along with 34th at Daytona, 19th at Atlanta, 11th at Las Vegas and 21st Sunday at Fontana.

And let’s not forget he’s 17th in the NASCAR Cup standings heading to one of his strongest tracks, Martinsville Speedway, this Sunday.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, we discussed this: After such a slow start to the season, is there a cause for concern over Johnson’s performance?

NASCAR America: Mark Martin is definitely a Kyle Larson fan

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin shared his experience of racing in his home state of Arkansas, as well as the excitement he feels watching  Kyle Larson compete in the Cup series.