NASCAR America: Analyzing Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tangle


Folks were still talking on Monday about the way Ricky Stenhouse Jr. shoved Kyle Busch out of the way at the end of Stage 2 in Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

NASCAR America’s Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte were among those talking about the incident, which ended with Stenhouse shoving Busch out of the way to not only get himself (Stenhouse) back on the lead lap.

While Stenhouse said he did what he had to do to stay on the lead lap (and eventually finish 10th in the race), Busch was not happy . First, he was very vocal, releasing a profanity-laced outburst over his team radio after the run-in with Stenhouse.

Busch calmed down by the time the race was over, but won’t forget what he considered an affront done to him.

“I was trying to be a nice guy, but nice guys don’t finish first,” Busch said. “When you’ve got the leader to your outside and you keep banging him off the corner, that’s disrespectful, but do whatever you want.”

Busch then predicted the incident will come back to haunt Stenhouse at some point.

“It’s going to come back and bite you one of these days,” Busch said. “You just have to remember that race car drivers are like elephants, they remember everything.”

Let’s hear the reactions of both Letarte and Burton:

LETARTE: “I don’t have that big of an issue with Kyle Busch’s reaction. I’m almost okay with it. I love a driver to have that desire to go out and win that stage.

“So I don’t have a big issue with Kyle Busch and what he did. But I’m in love with what Ricky Stenhouse Jr. did. If you look at where Roush Fenway has been for the last three years – and I’ve probably been one of the most vocal to be disappointed in that organization.

“They’ve lost Greg Biffle, they’re down to two cars, they’ve moved personnel around. At some point, something has to change. They had a couple good runs at the beginning of the year.

“But then you heard Ricky Stenhouse clearly say, ‘I’m sorry, but I had to go.’ And then he said after the race that was a turning point. I like to see a driver that realizes that’s a turning point. I understand it was not to what Kyle Busch was expecting, I think we’re going to see more of this with the stages, but I’m fine with Kyle said.”

BURTON: “When you’re in the middle of a sporting event or something important in your life, if you can pop the pressure valve and let the pressure valve go down by saying or doing something that doesn’t harm anyone, that’s probably okay.

“When the driver wants to get something out of his body, the first instinct is to push that (team radio) button and talk because you want your buddies to hear it. You go to war with the people that are on your pit crew.

“He’s not talking to us (fans and media), he’s talking to the guys he goes to war with. I’ve got no problem with drivers getting mad and cussing and doing whatever. But when they start attacking a car owner or crew chief, I have a problem with that. But I have absolutely no problem with what Kyle Busch did during the race Sunday whatsoever.”

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Stats, Results for Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway

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John Hunter Nemechek led the final six laps to win the Camping World Truck Series’ M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway.

It’s his second win in two weeks.

Nemechek beat out Johnny Sauter, Brandon Jones, Grant Engfinger and Christopher Bell.

Click here for race results.

Johnny Sauter keeps Truck points lead, John Hunter Nemechek in eighth

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With his Stage 2 win and his second-place finish in the M&M’s 200, Johnny Sauter retains his lead in the Camping World Truck Series standings leaving Iowa Speedway.

Sauter has a 42-point lead over Christopher Bell.

Completing the top five is: Chase Briscoe (-76), Matt Crafton (-95) and Ben Rhodes (-123).

With his second win in two weeks, John Hunter Nemechek moved from ninth to eighth in the standings, 153 points back from Sauter.

Click here for the full points standings.

John Hunter Nemechek wins at Iowa, second Truck victory in a row

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At one point going four-wide on a restart with seven laps to go, John Hunter Nemechek drove from fourth to first to win the M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway.

It is Nemechek’s second Camping World Truck Series win in two weeks after an emotional victory at Gateway Motorsports Park. It is his fifth career win.

Nemechek passed low on Chase Briscoe and Johnny Sauter into Turn 1 and cleared them on the backstretch a lap into the final run. The No. 8 team changed four tires during the final caution. Sauter, who led 72 laps, did not pit.

“All year we felt really good about this whole stretch,” Nemechek told Fox Sports 1. “Gateway, Iowa and Kentucky. Hopefully we can go to Kentucky and make it three in a row.”

Driving the same truck he used to win last week, Nemehcek had to pass Sauter, Briscoe and Noah Gragson on the restart.

The top five was Nemechek, Sauter, Brandon Jones, Grant Enfinger and Christopher Bell.

Stage 1 winner: Christopher Bell

Stage 2 winner: Johnny Sauter

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Brandon Jones’s third-place finish is his season best and first Truck top five since 2015 … Christopher Bell earned his sixth top five through nine races … Grant Enfinger earned his fourth top five, but it came at the expense of teammate Matt Crafton, who he caused to crash to bring out the final caution … Jesse Little finished ninth for his first career top 10 in his 11th start.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Ben Rhodes, Kaz Grala and Austin Wayne Self were in a wreck with three laps left in Stage 2 …. Ryan Truex’s night ended with 33 to go when he brought his truck to pit road for an engine problem. He finished 20th … Matt Crafton backed hard into the outside wall with 15 laps to go after being tagged by his teammate, Grant Enfinger, on his left-rear quarter panel. It is his first DNF of the year. Crafton finished 19th … Harrison Burton and Justin Haley crashed in Turn 4 coming to the checkered flag. Burton placed 11th; Haley 10th.

NOTABLE: The race was red flagged for 12 minutes and 26 seconds to clean up fluid from the three-truck crash at the end of Stage 2.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “That’s me. Four tires. That’s the man right there. Fire Alarm (Services). What do they want? They want a win and we got them one.” – Gere Kennon, crew chief for John Hunter Nemechek after winning the M&M’s 200.

WHAT’S NEXT: Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on July 6 on Fox Sports 1.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s farewell tour begins at Sonoma with service dogs named in his honor

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To commemorate Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s career and his final start at the track, Sonoma Raceway gave the driver a gift he doesn’t have to take home and will benefit others for year to come.

During his Friday press conference, the track surprised Earnhardt with three Labrador Retriever puppies. Named “Dale,” “Junior” and “Amy” – after his wife – the puppies are being given to the organization Paws as Loving Support (PALS) Assistance Dogs.

Donated by Micons Labradors and Fieldstone Labradors and sponsored by the track, the puppies will be trained to help children with disabilities in the Sonoma community.

“I’d like to thank the track for their investment to make this happen,” Earnhardt said. “It really warms my heart. Amy is going to be excited but sad she is not here. We do love dogs and making a difference in people’s lives. I’m excited to maybe come back and see how the dogs are doing.”

Sonoma is the first track Earnhardt is racing at for the last time since he announced his retirement plans in April.

The puppies will take part in PALS thorough training process, including time with incarcerated youth twice a week, before being matched with a child with a disability and his/her family as a service dog or placed with a professional as a facility dog.

PALS Assistance Dogs trains dogs to help children with disabilities including Autism, Down syndrome and mobility impairments. Some are placed with professionals working with children with special needs as facility dogs. In addition, Courthouse PALS dogs provide emotional support and comfort to victims and witnesses of violent crimes before, during and at the conclusion of a trial.

“Dale has such a huge following among our fans and we wanted to find a way for his legacy to carry forward locally, well beyond his days as a driver,” said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager. “These three puppies – Dale, Junior and Amy – will make a meaningful difference in the lives of young people in the North Bay for years to come.”

On race day, 10,000 “Thanks, Junior” hand-held fans will be given out and the No. 88 will be written in the sky by the Patriots Jet Team.

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