Ryan Blaney says hard racing with Kevin Harvick at Martinsville was ‘nothing personal’

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Ryan Blaney said his conversation with Kevin Harvick after last weekend’s race at Martinsville was a “stern talking to’’ but said he felt all was good between the playoff drivers.

Blaney and Harvick made contact throughout the Martinsville race and then had a discussion afterward on pit road.

“Obviously we weren’t happy with each other,’’ Blaney said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. “Both of us had our conversations and what we were upset about. I felt like we handled it fine. It was a stern talking to.

“I have a lot of respect for Kevin. He helped me a lot when I got started a couple of years ago. It is just Martinsville racing pretty much. We had a talk, and I think we are fine. I am sure we are over it. Those were just to reassure that we were good.”

MORE: Blaney posts fastest lap in Cup practice 

Blaney explained what bothered him about how Harvick raced him at Martinsville.

“The issue that I had was the first time he started running us over we were trying to pass somebody, and I can’t go anywhere when you are beating the bumper off me when I am trying to pass somebody,’’ Blaney said.

“After that, we were struggling and that is when it happened again. I think it was just two things, it is Martinsville and we are in the playoffs and I am not going to just let someone go, especially someone we are racing in the playoffs. In this round, there are so many good cars. I don’t think he was really pushing us around or being a bully or anything like that, it was just really hard racing. I have seen that plenty of times over the years at that place and watching on TV. It was nothing personal, just two drivers racing hard.”

Blaney finished eighth at Martinsville but is outside a transfer spot to the championship round in two weeks in Miami.

Texas, though, presents a strong chance for him to win and earn a spot in Miami or finish well enough to climb into a position to advance by points. He won both stages at this track in the spring. He finished 12th after sliding through his pit box on his final pit stop.

“I think we just need to have a solid weekend like we had in the spring race and try to finish it out better,’’ Blaney said. “We got behind there and slid through my box the last pit stop which put us back. We need to have a good, solid race.

“That is the best thing we can do. Cut down on mistakes like we have the whole playoffs. We haven’t had huge mistakes. We have been consistent and gotten good finishes. We are coming to a track that has been decent for us in the past and the 1.5-mile stuff has been really good for us. Hopefully we can have a solid weekend and a good run on Sunday and put ourselves in a decent spot going into Phoenix.”

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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:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. 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)