Chase Elliott: ‘I’m still pretty frustrated’ about being wrecked at Martinsville

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Chase Elliott admits he is “still pretty frustrated” about Denny Hamlin wrecking him for the lead in the final laps at Martinsville, but says he and his team can’t be consumed by it this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

After seeing his chance to win end against the wall at Martinsville, Elliott’s 27th-place finish leaves him last among the eight playoff drivers heading into Sunday’s race.

“As far as last week goes, I don’t know that my thoughts are a whole lot different today than they were then,’’ Elliott said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. “I’m still pretty frustrated about it. Really, as the week has gone along, it’s given me a lot of time to think about how close we were to going to Homestead. I think with anything else, that will drive you up the wall more as you think about it. Definitely not happy about it. I don’t think a whole lot has changed.

“No, I’m not going to answer you all’s questions whether I’m going to get him back or not, so don’t even ask because you’re not going to hear it from me. Just don’t go there. I don’t think my mindset has changed a whole lot from that standpoint. This is a point in this round where we’re going to have to perform these next two weeks to have a chance now at Homestead.’’

Hamlin stated after the race it was not his intent to wreck Elliott and apologized on social media shortly after the race. Hamlin said this week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he has offered to have a conversation with Elliott but that had not been answered

With two races left to determine the four drivers to race for the championship in two weeks in Miami, Elliott says he doesn’t have  time to worry about Hamlin.

“I’m not overwhelming myself with him or any other driver in particular as the weekend goes along,’’ Elliott said. “I don’t think you can do that and look yourself in the eyes and think you have a fair shot if you have that mindset coming into a weekend.

“We’re going to go about our business as we always do and hope we make the right guesses and I make the right judgement calls and (crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) and the team makes the right calls throughout the weekend to have a  chance to win.’’

About the fan reaction last weekend at Martinsville where the crowd booed Hamlin and cheered Elliott loudly, Elliott said: “I wasn’t expecting to have that or hear that or see it throughout the week. I don’t know if refreshing is the right word, but it’s been pretty encouraging to see that kind of support regardless of the circumstance. To see people encouraging you and wanting you to go and try to win this weekend. To me, that’s been kind of the message from a lot of fans, hey, the best thing you can do for the fans that supported you is to try to go and win one of these next two weekends and give yourself a shot at Homestead. I’m looking forward to giving that my best shot.’’

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NASCAR America: The challenges of Martinsville Speedway

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What Martinsville Speedway lacks in size compared to other tracks it makes up in difficulty say drivers and NASCAR America’s analysts.

Landon Cassill joined Carolyn Manno, Parker Kligerman and Jeff Burton on Thursday’s show and discussed the challenges of the half-mile paperclip track.

“It can be fun when it’s going well,’’ said Cassill, who will make his Cup season debut this weekend in the No. 00 for StarCom Racing. “That place, if you’re car is not handling well, you can end up going backwards and just by the time you’ve got some clear race track the leader is right behind you. So it can be frustration. I tend to like Martinsville.’’

Kligerman calls racing in the pack at Martinsville Speedway “the most aggressive racing I’ve ever been a part of in my life.’’

Jeff Burton said: “It’s … one of the hardest race tracks we go to period because you have to do it lap after lap after lap and it’s so easy to get, quite simply, just really, really mad at the guy you’re racing with because he’s hitting you and he’s banging on you.’’

Cup drivers have their description of the track. See what NASCAR America’s analysts and Cup drivers have to say about the track that hosts Sunday’s Cup race in the video above.

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Richard Childress Racing reinstates Xfinity crew chief Nick Harrison

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Richard Childress Racing has reinstated Nick Harrison to crew chief  of the No. 3 Xfinity team after he served a five-race suspension for a violation at Daytona International Speedway. 

Harrison’s first race back will be April 8 at Texas.

Harrison was suspended after the No. 3 car of Austin Dillon had a rear suspension violation in pre-qualifying inspection. Harrison and the team’s car chief were ejected by NASCAR after the violation. RCR imposed the suspension.

“I’m looking forward to being back with my team and winning races after my five-race suspension,” Harrison said in a statement from the team.

Brandon Thomas served as the interim crew chief while Harrison was out. Austin Dillon finished a season-best fourth for the team last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Martinsville breakdown, Aric Almirola and Bubba Wallace

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and features host Carolyn Manno and Parker Kligerman in Stamford, Connecticut, and Jeff Burton and Landon Cassill from Burton’s Garage.

Among the topics today:

  •  Prepare for paint swapping, bent fenders, and bruised egos. It’s time to go short-track racing at Martinsville Speedway! Jeff, Parker and Landon will tell you what to expect this weekend at the famous half-mile. We’ll also see what it takes to succeed there, as Parker takes us for some quick laps in the NBCSN iRacing Simulator.
  • After making the switch to Stewart-Haas Racing in the offseason, Aric Almirola is off to the best start of his Cup Series career. Currently 10th in the standings, he’ll tell Marty Snider about his early season success.
  • Since finishing second at the Daytona 500, rookie driver Bubba Wallace has cooled off. Now he faces his first Cup Series start at Martinsville in the iconic No. 43 car, and he’s feeling confident — it’s where Wallace scored his first truck series win nearly five years ago. We’ll examine the struggles he might have to work through this season and also hear his reflections on his early years of racing in the latest edition of “A Driver’s Drive.”

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/ If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Weekend schedule for NASCAR at Martinsville Speedway

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NASCAR returns to its backyard this weekend after the three week West Coast swing.

The Cup and Camping World Truck Series visit Martinsville Speedway in Southern Virginia.

The weekend is capped off by Sunday’s STP 500. It will be the first Cup race broadcast on Fox Sports 1 this year.

Here’s the full weekend schedule complete with TV and radio info.

(All times are Eastern)

Friday, March 23

8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. — Truck garage opens

11:05 – 11:55 a.m. — Truck practice (No TV)

1:05 – 1:55 p.m. — Truck practice (Fox Sports 1)

3:05 – 3:55 p.m. — Final Truck practice (FS1)

Saturday, March 24

7 a.m. – 8 p.m. — Cup garage open

7:30 a.m. — Truck garage opens

10:05 – 10:55 a.m. — Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

11:05 a.m. — Truck qualifying; multi-truck/three rounds (FS1)

12:15 p.m. — Truck driver-crew chief meeting

12:30 – 1:20 p.m. — Final Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

1:30 p.m. — Truck driver introductions

2 p.m. — Alpha Energy Solutions 250; 250 laps/131.5 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

5:10 p.m. — Cup qualifying; multi-car/three rounds (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, March 25

9:30 a.m. — Cup garage opens

Noon — Driver-crew chief meeting

1:20 p.m. — Driver introductions

2 p.m. — STP 500; 500 laps/263 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)