NASCAR on rumors it would take additional cars after Michigan: Gotcha!


All that talk that NASCAR would take more cars after Sunday’s Cup race at Michigan to see how they compared?

A ruse.

So said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, Monday on “The Morning Drive.’’

“We actually found it kind of comical this weekend,’’ O’Donnell said of the chatter that NASCAR would take more cars after Michigan. “We put a little bit of the rumor out there, and candidly it worked.

“If anyone would have done some serious research, the wind tunnel that we would use for this is under construction this week so it would have been impossible.’’

Brad Keselowski said Friday that Toyotas were sandbagging at Michigan because of the expectation that NASCAR would take more cars after the race. Toyotas led 88.2 percent of the laps in the five races leading up to Michigan.

“We had a strong suspicion that those guys (Toyota) would kind of tune it down this weekend, so not to post a pretty big number in inspection that maybe balanced back out the competition,” Keselowski said after winning the pole. “And potentially that’s right because our team hasn’t done much differently and those guys are just not as fast as they’ve been the last few weeks.”

Kyle Busch responded to Keselowski’s comments by telling ESPN on Saturday: “Brad’s a (expletive) moron. We don’t just turn it down. We actually have a new engine package here this week. He’s a moron.’’

Keselowski told NBCSN before Sunday’s race that Toyota’s performance last weekend at Michigan seemed “fishy.’’

“NASCAR typically takes the cars from the field, the best cars from the field and checks to see where everybody is at performance-wise about three or four times a year,’’ Keselowski told NBCSN. “Usually those weekends are either Indianapolis, Pocono or Michigan. Well they couldn’t do it at Indianapolis because most of the field wrecked and there weren’t any cars to check, and I don’t know why it wasn’t done at Pocono.

“So the whole field knows today that the cars are probably going to be pulled and go through a little bit of extra inspection. That doesn’t mean that anyone is cheating by any means. This is a chance for NASCAR to level the playing field and see who is where in the development cycles. I think everybody knows that.’’

NASCAR did not take any additional cars.

“We’re not going to telegraph when we’re going to do that at a certain race track,’’ O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We always want to make sure that we’ve got the best information possible, particularly the aerodynamics of the car, so we’ll continue to do that.

“A lot of politicking going out there and I think that will continue as it gets closer to the playoffs. There’s a lot on the line, a lot of different winners, and that’s actually kind of cool to see because people care and they want to do all they can to win.’’

Keselowski led a race-high 105 laps before finishing 17th. Kyle Larson passed Martin Truex Jr. on the restart in overtime to win. Truex led Toyota by finishing second.

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Kyle Busch seeks alterations to Charlotte Roval after test

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Kyle Busch says he’s raised concerns about a couple of turns on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s road course to track officials after taking part in a Goodyear test there this week.

Busch, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Larson and Paul Menard tested Tuesday. Wednesday’s session was rained out and rescheduled for May 1. Busch is the winningest active Cup driver on road courses. He has four career road course victories (two at Sonoma and two at Watkins Glen).

Busch, said he talked with Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., and Don Hawk, SMI’s senior vice president of business affairs, about his concerns.

“They have an idea for changes to one of them, but not the other one,’’ Busch said Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.

One area of concern is the chicane on the frontstretch.

“When you’re coming down onto the front straightaway and you have that zone in the infield grass and then you turn (right), you have a direct, head-on impact into the wall on the front straightaway there so that’s kind of a concern,’’ Busch said.

“The chicane on the frontstretch, when you turn to the right (Turn 16 in the above diagram) heading head-on into a wall and then you have to turn back left going along the front straightaway (was an issue raised). When we were testing, it wasn’t bad because you could hop this curve and hop that curve, but then they wanted to straighten that out more from turn seven like at Sonoma, which is more of a 90-degree turn, and would make that angle worse.

“I expressed my displeasure with that idea and then we also had the same thing coming from Turn 7 to Turn 8 where you’re braking in a zone and heading head-on into the front straightaway wall to get back (from the infield course to Turn 1 of the oval). Softening up that corner as well and making that tighter and a softer corner where you can … get back on the main track a little safer.

“Those are some instances that I felt were kind of the worst instances. Other than that, I thought the track was kind of OK. It’s a bit narrow and tight in places, but I think you have that at some other road courses that I have not been at that NASCAR has. Montreal is really narrow, too and it puts on a decent show. I think it will be fine, it will just be different. I think it’s going to be about survival more than anything.”

The Cup series races on the Charlotte’s roval on Sept. 30 on NBC. It is the final race of the first round of the playoffs and will cut the number of title contenders from 16 to 12.

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Cup starting lineup at Martinsville Speedway

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Martin Truex Jr. will start on the pole for Sunday’s Cup race at Martinsville Speedway after qualifying was canceled by rain and snow Saturday.

“It’s definitely a big advantage to start out front,” Truex said. “First pit box obviously, everyone knows it’s a big deal here and that’s where you want to be so you get that clean stall in and out and not get torn up on pit road.”

The lineup was set by car owner points.

Kyle Busch will join Truex on the front row.

Row 2 will feature Team Penske’s Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Teammate Ryan Blaney starts fifth.

Click here for starting lineup

Martinsville Truck race postponed to Sunday after Cup race

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The Alpha Energy Solutions 250 Truck race at Martinsville has been postponed until Sunday afternoon, following the Cup race.

Ben Rhodes led the field to green 2:05 p.m. and held the lead until Mike Senica stalled on the track. Rhodes led the first 23 laps until precipitation red flagged the event at 2:17.

The Truck race will be televised on FS1.

Martin Truex Jr. sweeps Martinsville Cup practice

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After posting the fastest single lap and quickest 10-lap average in the first practice, Martin Truex. Jr. also topped the fastest lap chart in final practice for the STP 500 with a speed of 95.415 mph.

Also repeating his performance from the first practice, Brad Keselowski was second on the leaderboard. Keselowski was fast on long runs with the quickest 10-lap average of 94.579 mph.

Sophomore Daniel Suarez was notably fast. His lap of 95.588 mph was third on the chart.

Kyle Busch (95.122) and Ryan Newman (94.756) rounded out the top five.

Jimmie Johnson (93.831) was hoping to carry over momentum from last week’s top 1o at Auto Club, but struggled to find single lap speed. He landed 28th on the speed chart.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wheel hopped entering turn three with 33 minutes remaining. He rolled out a backup car and will start at the back regardless of where he qualifies.

Click here for the full final practice times.