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Truex: ‘we’re all clicking’ as Furniture Row Racing sweeps first Cup practice at Richmond

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The first practice for the NASCAR Cup Series’ Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond was led by the Toyotas of Furniture Row Racing.

Martin Truex Jr. led the way with a speed of 124.178 mph around the .75-mile track. His teammate Erik Jones followed at 123.035 mph.

Filling out the top five was Ryan Blaney (122.772), Trevor Bayne (122.084) and defending Richmond winner Denny Hamlin (121.726).

Kasey Kahne had the best 10-lap average at 119.324 mph.

Click here for the full practice report.

With the Furniture Row Racing teams at the top of the chart, it continues the trend of the first eight races of the year of the team being generally faster than the four Toyotas of Joe Gibbs Racing. The two teams are part of a technical alliance, but only the smaller team based out of Denver, Colorado, has a win this year (Truex, Las Vegas Motor Speedway).

After Hamlin, Kyle Busch was eighth fastest (121.125), Daniel Suarez 18th (120.466) and Matt Kenseth 21st (120.278).

While Truex is third in points and leads the series in stage wins, none of JGR’s cars are in the top 10 in points.

“Well, I think it’s just – there’s no real reason,” Truex said Friday morning of his teams’ advantages over their Joe Gibbs Racing counterparts. “We all get the same information. I guess at the end of the day it’s how you use it, how you put it to use. I think our team, (crew chief) Cole (Pearn), (engineer) Jazzy (Jeff Curtis), (competition director) Pete (Rondeau), our guys in general are just – right now we’re just clicking. We have a lot of confidence. Things are going well.”

The disparity between the two teams comes in a season where Toyota introduced its 2018 body style in the Cup Series.

“My guys are doing an amazing job of filtering through all that information and making sure the right things are going into the car,” Truex said. “The communication between all of us at the racetrack has been a big part of that. So I mean, it’s not one thing. It’s just right now it just seems like we’re all clicking and we’re making it happen. You know, I think that the good part for those guys is that they see that.

“They see what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and they know it’s possible as well. Hopefully they’ve done so much for us since we moved to Toyota last year to get us going and kind of get us up to speed that it’s fun to be there and try to help those guys and show that our team is a big part of being competitive, running well, making sure Toyotas are up front each and every week and it kind of shows that they made a good decision by bringing us in and making us part of that team.”

Furniture Row Racing is seeking its first short-track win with this weekend’s race at Richmond, a track Joe Gibbs Racing has won the last three races at.

MORE: Richmond a “pivotal” race for Joe Gibbs Racing

Matt Kenseth: Brickyard 400 restarts ‘kind of ridiculous’

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Matt Kenseth came close to winning Sunday’s Brickyard 400, but ultimately finished fifth.

Kenseth called the race “kind of ridiculous” down the stretch because of the several restarts that brought about further havoc and wrecks.

Kenseth competed in his final Brickyard 400 for Joe Gibbs Racing. With his future uncertain and whether he’ll be able to continue racing in 2018, could Sunday have been the final Brickyard 400 of his career, much like good friend Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is retiring after this season?

Check out the video above for Kenseth’s comments on the race.

Rick Hendrick on Kasey Kahne’s future: ‘Our plans are not set for the No. 5 car’

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INDIANAPOLIS – Brickyard 400 winner Kasey Kahne has a contract for 2018 at Hendrick Motorsports but possibly doesn’t have a job next season.

Team owner Rick Hendrick confirmed Sunday night that “our plans are not set for the No. 5 car” after Kahne ended a 102-race winless streak in the Cup Series.

“There’s nothing concrete or done, and that hasn’t changed,” Hendrick said. “We’ll see how things shake out the rest of the year.  There’s a lot of things involved, sponsors and a lot of things we look at.  We’re going to try hard.  But there’s no decisions made at this time.”

Kahne felt the 18th victory of his career helped him make a case for staying in the No. 5 Chevrolet.

“I think this shows I still want to win races,” he said. “It shows I gave it all that I can to get a win and shows that I’m passionate about driving stock cars, and that I can still win races, too.

“I have a deal through 2018 with Hendrick Motorsports. I hear a lot of things, but it’s tough to say exactly what’s going to happen. I don’t know at this point and time. I know me and Mr. H will figure it out. I think this shows that I want to be and still have the drive and passion to do it, so I’m going to keep trying hard I know that.”

During a Sunday morning pre-race news conference to formally introduce Alex Bowman as the replacement next season for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick said he planned to run four cars next season but deflected a question about Kahne’s status (“that’s for another day”).

Xfinity Series rookie William Byron, who is under contract to Hendrick, would be an option for the No. 5 Chevrolet, but Hendrick said “we’re not ready to cross that bridge yet” when asked about Byron’s Cup future.

Kahne is ranked 22nd in the points standings with only four top 10s in 20 races this season.

“When you’ve had a rough road, your confidence gets down,” Hendrick said. “He said, ‘I know I can do it. The harder I try, the more it seems like I have this rough bad luck.’

“Something like this (win) can be really good for any guy to have, the whole team, to have confidence.  … All I can say about Kasey is he shows up, he shows up on time, and he shows up on time with his game face on, and he puts in the effort. Sometimes it just takes a break.  But he’s done everything.  I know in his heart he wants to do it.  He’s trying, so … ”

Ryan Newman on Brickyard 400: ‘That’s not racing, just craziness’

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Ryan Newman was in the right place at the right time in Sunday’s Brickyard 400, finishing third.

It was Newman’s second-best finish of 2017 after his win earlier this year at Phoenix.

But Newman, who is never afraid to speak his mind, did just that after Sunday’s race. Even with his strong finish, he echoed the comments of several other drivers that the racing action — particularly restarts — by saying, “That’s not racing, just craziness.”

Check out what Newman had to say in the video above.

Joey Logano’s fourth-place finish is bittersweet as playoff chances dip

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Joey Logano had a bittersweet day in Sunday’s Brickyard 400.

He finished a strong fourth in the incident-filled 24th edition of the Brickyard 400. It was just Logano’s second top-five finish and third top-10 showing in the last 11 races.

But there was also bad news, too.

Kasey Kahne‘s win knocked Logano further back in his bid to rejoin the top-16 drivers eligible for the upcoming NASCAR playoffs. With Clint Bowyer dropping out of the top-16 and Kahne moving into playoff contention, Logano has slipped back to 18th place in the playoff-eligible standings.

As a result, Logano all but has to win one of the next six races to qualify for the playoffs — unless he can point his way in with continued strong top-five finishes.

Logano talked about the situation he faces with NBC Sports after Sunday’s race. Click on the above video to see what he had to say.