Kyle Busch, Joey Logano put Las Vegas incident behind them and move on

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Friday very likely marked official closure to last Sunday’s post-race incident at Las Vegas between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.

After not issuing penalties earlier in the week, NASCAR officials further reaffirmed it’s point of view when it met with both drivers Friday morning at Phoenix Raceway, telling the drivers what it expected from both of them from here on out.

MORE: NASCAR meets with Kyle Busch, Joey Logano at Phoenix

After the 15-minute meeting, both drivers then went out for practice and qualifying for Sunday’s Camping World 500 Cup race. As it turned out, Logano went out and made the biggest statement by winning the pole, while Busch will start ninth.

“I woke up this morning thinking about our race car and how we can end up sitting here at the end of the day,” Logano said. “That is the goal. In between, do I have to think about other things? Yeah, obviously we had that meeting today and there were a lot of distractions that we don’t typically have.

“But it is a matter of managing those distractions and getting your head back in the right spot for when it is game time. I was able to use everything the right way, use our tools and our people around me to help me get my mind back where it needs to be and be able to focus and lay down a good lap.”

Busch began a post-qualifying interview with Fox Sports 1 by saying pretty much the same thing he said after he left the morning meeting with NASCAR.

“Everything’s great, I’m back at the racetrack and I’m in my race car, so that’s why everything is great,” Busch said.

But then Busch got serious, hinting about dodging a possible penalty from NASCAR for his swing at Logano on pit road after Sunday’s race at Las Vegas.

“You had the opportunity to have something else happen during the week and it didn’t, so it’s good to be back at the track, here at Phoenix and the west coast swing,” Busch told FS1. “I’m loving the time out here.”

But Busch likely is not loving the start of the 2017 season for him and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry.

He comes into Sunday’s race ranked 19th in the Cup standings, the result of having finished 36th in the Daytona 500, 16th at Atlanta and 22nd after wrecking on the last lap at Las Vegas.

That’s why it’s so important he does well Sunday at Phoenix, a track where he has one career Cup win, six top-fives and 15 top-10 finishes in 23 starts there.

“All-in-all, just looking forward to being able to get a good solid run here,” Busch told FS1. “We haven’t had one yet this year, we need one and just get our rhythm going.”

Logano, meanwhile, is having a stellar start thus far in 2017, with sixth-place finishes at Daytona and Atlanta and fourth at Las Vegas. He comes into this weekend fifth in the NASCAR Cup season standings, 13 points behind series leader Brad Keselowski.

So where do the former teammates go from here?

“I think we will race the same as we always have,” Logano said. “If you think about it. We have been racing each other for nine years and you think about the amount of Xfinity races and Cup races that is, because we both run a lot of races together.

“Not only running them but we have raced each other for first and second a lot and we have never had an issue. I look at Kyle as one of the drivers I had the best relationship with. I am sure we will get back to that point. Obviously it will take a little time, that is just part of it. We have never had an issue. It wasn’t anything intentional. We will be able to push through this.”

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AJ Allmendinger making return to Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2018

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After a one-year absence, AJ Allmendinger will return to the Rolex 24 at Daytona next month.

Allmendinger, who drives for JTG Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, will once again drive for Michael Shank Racing in the endurance race at Daytona International Speedway, which will be held Jan. 27 – 28.

A winner in the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona, Allmendinger will split time in the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 in the GTD class with Justin Marks, Lawson Aschenbach and Mario Farnbacher.

Allmendinger drove for Michael Shank Racing in the endurance race from 2014-16. His best result during that stretch was fifth in the Prototype class in 2015.

“I am pumped to be back racing for Shank in the (Rolex) 24. I missed the race last year and I hated to, so I’m really glad to be back,” Allmendinger said in a press release. “His whole team did an awesome job with the Acura last year and it is awesome to be back with him for the Rolex. After racing for the overall win so many years in Prototypes, it will be a completely different experience to be racing in the GTD class, but I’m looking forward to it. Mike (Shank) always puts an awesome team together and this year is no different so I am counting down to get my first shot in this car.”

Allmendinger is coming off his fourth full year of driving the No. 47 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing. He finished the season 27th in the standings, his worst during his tenure with the team. He earned one top five and five top 10s.

Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s to sponsor RCR in Cup, Xfinity in 2018

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Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s will sponsor Richard Childress Racing in multiple races in the Cup and Xfinity Series next year, the team announced Monday.

Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s merged in September 2017.

The outdoors brands will be on Ryan Newman‘s No. 31 Chevrolet during the 60th Daytona 500 on Feb. 18 and in several other races during the season.

Richard Childress Racing

They will also be a primary sponsor for Austin and Ty Dillon on the No. 3 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series for several races.

“Our relationship with Bass Pro Shops dates back to the mid-1990s and we’re thrilled to be able to continue it during the 2018 season,” team owner Richard Childress said in a press release. “Austin, Ty and Ryan are terrific ambassadors for the great outdoors. They are all passionate about our hunting, fishing and conservation heritage which has made this partnership thrive.

“Next season will be exciting as we welcome Cabela’s, the iconic outdoor brand acquired by Bass Pro Shops, to the RCR family.”

Bass Pro Shops, founded in 1972 by Johnny Morris, is also a primary sponsor of Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78 Toyota owned by Furniture Row Racing.

The store chain will be on the hood of the No. 78 in 16 races and on the sides of it in 14 others.

Here’s the eligible drivers for the 2018 Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona

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NASCAR has officially announced the 20 drivers who are eligible to take part in the Cup Series’ season-opening Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway.

The 75-lap exhibition event is set for 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 11, the same day as qualifying for the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

The race will be divided into two segments. A competition caution on Lap 25 will divide them.

Drivers become eligible for the Clash by winning a pole the previous season, being a Daytona 500 pole-winner who competed full-time the previous season or being a playoff driver the previous season.

Here are the eligible drivers.

2017 Coors Light Pole Award Winners (14)

Former Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Award Winners (3)

2017 Playoff Drivers (3)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth are not expected to compete in the race. Earnhardt retired from Cup competition following the 2017 season and Kenseth doesn’t have a ride for the 2018 season.

Danica Patrick, the 2013 Daytona 500 pole-sitter, announced last month she was done as a full-time driver but that she planned to race in the Daytona 500. No definitive team plans have been announced for her.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram injury update: still in ICU, but continues to show progress

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram continues to show improvement from the serious injuries he suffered in a December 3 car crash in his native Asheville, North Carolina.

In an update Sunday written on CaringBridge.org, Ingram’s daughter, Ingrid Jones, said her father remains in the Intensive Care Unit at Asheville’s Mission Hospital.

According to Jones:

“Daddy continues to hold his own, making healing steps forward and then a step back, which we fully expected-but he’s surprising us each and every day with his strength and courage to overcome this. Overall, he’s doing amazingly well.”

Ingram’s family had hoped he could have moved out of ICU and into the Trauma Unit as the next phase of his recovery, but he remains in intensive care.

Said Jones:

“For now, he’ll remain in ICU until he can go a full 24 hours without ventilator assisted breathing. We’re almost there … but may still be a few days.”

Ingram, who turns 81 on Dec. 28, was able to sit in a chair and watched part of Sunday’s NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings with his family. Jones wrote that Ingram also was surprised to learn that the mountain near the family’s Asheville-area home received a total of 16 inches of snow Friday and Saturday.

Jones added, “We continue to be optimistic for his health, and we also continue to appreciate the prayers and encouraging thoughts.”