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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Xfinity crew chief Chris Gabehart penalized $5,000 for loose lug nut at Indy

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NASCAR has issued one penalty resulting from last weekend’s races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Chris Gabehart, crew chief for the No. 20 Xfinity Series car of Joe Gibbs Racing, was fined $5,000 on Wednesday.

Gabehart was penalized for violating Sections 10.4 and 10.9 of the NASCAR Rule Book covering Tires and Wheels: Lug nut(s) not properly installed at the conclusion of the Lilly Diabetes 250.

There were no other penalties related to last weekend’s Xfinity or NASCAR Cup races in Indianapolis or the Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway.

Richard Childress Racing to announce plans for a third Cup team ‘at a later date’

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With Paul Menard and his family’s home improvement chain sponsorship on the move to Wood Brothers Racing for 2018, Richard Childress Racing has a major funding gap to address.

Menards has adorned the No. 27 Chevrolet for RCR for seven consecutive Cup seasons and is among the last full-season sponsors in NASCAR’s premier series. It assuredly is the most lucrative of RCR’s sponsorships.

Though the team is committed to fielding Chevys for Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon next season, the impending departure of Menard leaves questions about whether RCR will remain a three-car team in 2018.

In a statement Wednesday morning, team chairman and CEO Richard Childress said the team “will be announcing our plans for a third Cup team and our overall 2018 team lineup at a later date.”

Here’s the full statement from Childress:

Paul Menard and Menards, Inc. have had a partnership with RCR for seven years. Together, we have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, including Paul’s emotional win at Indianapolis in 2011. He is a very talented driver and a good friend. Everyone at RCR wishes both Paul and Menards nothing but the best in the future.

Our entire RCR organization is 100 percent focused on getting all three of our Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series programs in the playoffs this year, and bringing another Cup championship to RCR in 2017.

We will be announcing our plans for a third Cup team and our overall 2018 team lineup at a later date.

 

Paul Menard will move to the Wood Brothers for 2018 season

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Paul Menard will join Wood Brothers Racing next season, the team announced Wednesday. He will replace Ryan Blaney, who will move after this season to run a third Cup car for Team Penske.

Menards will sponsor the car in 22 races. Additional sponsorship, including plans for long-time partner Motorcraft/Quick Lane, will be announced later. The technical alliance between Team Penske and the Wood Brothers will continue.

“It’s fantastic to have the ability to continue to race in the highest level of motorsports full-time and something we look forward to doing with Paul for years to come,” said co-owner Eddie Wood in a statement. “I know this will allow us to continue to perform as an organization and will give Paul a great opportunity to go out there and compete for wins. Paul is not only a great driver with a lot of experience in the Cup Series, but he’s great with partners, which is a big part of what we do these days. We are looking forward to finishing out this season with Ryan (Blaney), going for more wins and maybe even a championship, and continuing that with Paul in 2018.”

Said Menard: “I’ve really enjoyed my time in NASCAR and as a Cup Series driver, but to get the chance to drive the iconic No. 21 for the Wood Brothers is the coolest thing I’ve ever got a chance to do. I’m looking forward to working with the team, working with Roush Yates, Ford Performance and Team Penske to see what we can do. Ryan (Blaney) has done a fantastic job and is a constant threat to run up front. Hopefully, we can do the same thing and keep the momentum going into 2018 and beyond.”

Also, Menard will run a handful of Xfinity races for Team Penske next year.

Menard had been with Richard Childress Racing since 2011, scoring his lone Cup victory — the 2011 Brickyard 400 — with the organization.

Menard’s best finish in the points with the organization was 14th in 2015. He is 23rd in the points with no wins, two top fives and three top-10 finishes this season.

The move marks the fourth organization the 36-year-old Menard has raced full-time for in his Cup career. He drove for Dale Earnhardt Inc. from 2007-08, Yates Racing from 2009-10 and Childress since.

Car owner Richard Childress issued a statement:

“Paul Menard and Menards, Inc. have had a partnership with RCR for seven years. Together, we have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, including Paul’s emotional win at Indianapolis in 2011. He is a very talented driver and a good friend. Everyone at RCR wishes both Paul and Menards nothing but the best in the future.
“Our entire RCR organization is 100 percent focused on getting all three of our Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series programs in the playoffs this year, and bringing another Cup championship to RCR in 2017.
“We will be announcing our plans for a third Cup team and our overall 2018 team lineup at a later date.”

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Ryan Blaney to join Team Penske in 2018

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Ryan Blaney will move to Team Penske and drive a third Cup car for that organization, the team announced Wednesday.

Blaney will drive the No. 12 Ford in 2018 and has signed a multi-year contract extension.

“For some time now, we have wanted to bring Ryan in to run a third car for us, but things just needed to make sense from a timing and business perspective,” said team owner Roger Penske.  “We have been working on making this a reality and 2018 is the right opportunity to make this move and return our organization to a three-car team. The benefits of having three full-time teams under our roof, along with the continued technical partnership with the Wood Bothers, will help us remain competitive in the ever-changing NASCAR landscape.”

MORE: Paul Menard to take over Wood Brothers ride in 2018

Blaney, who won at Pocono in June, is 12th in the standings. He has seven top-10 finishes in 20 starts this season.

“This is a huge opportunity for me and my career,” said Blaney, a third-generation driver from High Point, North Carolina, in a statement. “I’ve always enjoyed racing whatever car I was in and trying to win each and every race. I’ve had some great moments with both Team Penske and the Wood Brothers over the last few years. I know for a fact I wouldn’t be where I am today without Roger (Penske), Eddie and Len (Wood) and the opportunities their organizations have given me. I’m thrilled knowing that Brad (Keselowski) and Joey (Logano) are long-term teammates for me at Team Penske and Paul (Menard) will have input with our team now that he’s with the Wood Brothers organization. Hopefully we can go out there and win races and compete for championships year after year.”

The 23-year-old Blaney first signed with Team Penske in 2012. He has raced for Wood Brothers Racing, which is aligned with Team Penske, since 2015. He ran about half the 2015 season and has done the full season the past two years for the organization.

This marks the first time since 2010 that Team Penske has fielded three full-time entries. It did so that season with Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Sam Hornish Jr.

With adding a third car, Team Penske will need to acquire a charter for that car.

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