Denny Hamlin says he would be for NASCAR issuing harsher penalties

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RICHMOND, Va. — Denny Hamlin knows the image looks odd.

The most recent driver to have a win encumbered after his car failed inspection is advocating for harsher penalties in NASCAR.

“As long as it’s the same for everyone, I think that’s key,’’ Hamlin said Friday at Richmond Raceway. “Make sure that when someone else is in there with the same violation, it gets the same penalty and treatment even if it’s in the playoffs. Obviously, it’s negative publicity for everyone involved, so I just hope that it’s the same. I’m fine with taking wins away. Nothing wrong with that.”

Hamlin won the Xfinity and Cup races last weekend at Darlington Raceway only to find out a few days later that both cars failed inspection at the NASCAR R&D Center. The runner-up car in the Xfinity race also failed inspection. 

The result of the Darlington Cup infraction is that Hamlin is in Richmond without crew chief Mike Wheeler (suspended two races) and fans have clamored on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio for series officials to do more with such penalties.

NASCAR is considering stripping wins next year, NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan reported on NASCAR America this week.

Hamlin said the issue was discussed by the Drivers Council before.

“I think we brought something up maybe in the off-season … taking away points that you’ve already earned for the playoffs above and beyond not getting the points for that particular race,’’ Hamlin said.

“I’m all for harsher penalties for parole violators, you know what I mean? If you do it on a constant basis, you definitely should be penalized for it. As far as whether you should take away wins, black or white, be subjective, it’s tough because this particular part of the car, I don’t know if it’s really black and white. There’s been others that have been very gray, and they’ve said, ‘Okay, that’s good.’ Then ours is not good.

“I don’t know what the line is, where you take wins away. I think there should be parts of the car maybe that they distinguish – your motor, your tires, maybe rear suspension, stuff like that, major items that  maybe wins get taken away, or aero advantages that probably should be taken away as well.”

As for Hamlin’s penalty, he said it wasn’t intentional.

“We didn’t start the race with an illegal car,’’ he said. “It worked its way that way. When I say, ‘It worked its way,’ it was so close, but so close doesn’t matter. It was still over the line.

If it can be that close, why take the risk?

“The reason people work in those areas is because there’s speed there,’’ Hamlin said. “That’s why we always fight for every inch and every quarter and every thousandth of an inch on every part of the car, whether it be under the car or above it. So it’s a tough game and you got to be willing to take the consequences when you pass over that line that gets drawn in the sand.”

For those who say such action is cheating, what is Hamlin’s response?

“How many wins does Richard Petty have?’’ Hamlin said rhetorically. “200? One of those was with a big block (engine), so does he really have 199? I mean, listen, my advice to those who say this or that is all the old school fans have been watching NASCAR forever, your driver cheated at some point in their career and they got away with it. The difference is it was inches, not thousandths. They didn’t measure that stuff back then. It’s just a tighter box that we live in today.’’

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Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer tied at top of Xfinity playoff standings

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Justin Allgaier and Cole Custer are tied for the top spot in the Xfinity playoff standings after the playoff opener at Kentucky Speedway.

Each driver has 2,057 points.

Allgaier finished third after bouncing back from losing a tire on Lap 19 and going two laps down. He was two laps down for 27 laps and one lap down for 30 before getting back on the lead lap.

Custer, who finished fifth, won the first two stages of the race, earning two playoff points in the process.

The top five in points are Allgaier, Custer, Elliott Sadler (-2), Daniel Hemric (-5) and William Byron (-6).

Click here for the points standings.

Results from Xfinity race at Kentucky Speedway

Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images
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Tyler Reddick scored his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win, leading a 1-2 finish for Chip Ganassi Racing on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Reddick beat teammate Brennan Poole by 14.5 seconds in the playoff opener.

Reddick is the seventh different winner in the last seven series races. He led twice for 66 laps. Reddick had not led any laps until Saturday night.

Playoff contender Justin Allgaier rallied from two laps down after a right front tire went down early in the 200-lap race to finish third. Ryan Preece placed fourth. Rookie Cole Custer, who won both stages, finished fifth.

Click here for race results

Tyler Reddick wins playoff opener at Kentucky for first career Xfinity victory

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Tyler Reddick, a part-time driver for Chip Ganassi Racing, led 66 laps to win the Xfinity Series playoff opener at Kentucky Speedway.

In his rookie year in the series, Reddick earned the win in his 15th start in the No. 42 Chevrolet.

The 21-year-old driver beat teammate Brennan Poole, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Preece and Cole Custer.

“I don’t know if it was necessarily me making a statement, it’s just Chip Ganassi Racing making a statement,” Reddick told NBCSN. “(Crew chief) Mike Shiplett has brought me from ground zero all the way to here. All the guys at Ganassi have gone above and beyond in helping me become a better driver. To be here today is surreal.”

Reddick, who had not led a lap before Saturday night, took the lead for the first time on Lap 126 of the 200-lap race.

Reddick is the fourth Xfinity driver to get his first win this season.

Saturday’s win comes after it was announced on Sept. 14 that Reddick would join JR Motorsports full-time in 2018.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Cole Custer

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

MORE: Race results

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Justin Allgaier bounced back from losing a tire and going two laps down to finish third. He leaves Kentucky tied with Cole Custer at the top of the playoff standings. … Brennan Poole’s runner-up finish is a career-best result in 77 starts … Ryan Preece has finished in the top four in all three of his starts for Joe Gibbs Racing. … Ryan Reed finished 10th, ending an eight-race streak without a top 10.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Sam Hornish Jr. finished 31st, nine laps down after contact with Brandon Jones on Lap 53 caused him to hit the wall at the exit of Turn 2, forcing him to pit for repairs. … William Byron finished 18th, two laps down after he was forced to pit on Lap 101 for a loose wheel.

NOTABLE: Reddick is the seventh different driver to win in the last seven races this season. … Reddick is the seventh different winner in the last eight races at Kentucky.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I was about the color of my car (red) there for a little bit.” – Justin Allgaier after finishing third following a rebound from going two laps down early in the race.

NEXT: Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway at 3 p.m. ET on Sept. 30 on NBCSN.

Social Roundup: Sights from first Martinsville night race

Marty Snider
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The wait is over.

Night racing at Martinsville Speedway is now a reality.

After tests and practice sessions, the half-mile track in Virginia is hosting the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 and its qualifying races tonight for the NASCAR Late Model Series.

In attendance at the race are Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez, as well as NBCSN’s Marty Snider, who is watching his son Myatt compete in the race.

Here’s a look at some of the sights and sounds from the historic night for NASCAR’s oldest track.