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Long: NASCAR shows common sense has a place in dispensing punishment

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NASCAR’s hint that it will suspend pit crew members only from the series that a wheel violation takes place is another example of common sense moves officials have made lately.

With the sport’s emphasis on cutting costs and limiting team rosters, it would be ridiculous to have a pit crew member in the Camping World Truck Series suspended for the other national series because so many crew members do double-duty or even triple-duty. That would unfairly penalize those teams.

It also would unfairly penalize Truck teams, who do not have the resources to have their own pit crews and must hire pit crew members from Cup and Xfinity teams. Make the penalty harsh and those Cup and Xfinity teams might not allow their pit crew members to work elsewhere.

More than two-thirds of the 180 Cup pit crew members who worked Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway also work in at least one other series, based on team rosters for each series.

The breakdown is this:

– 95 Cup pit crew members (52.8 percent) went over the wall in either the Xfinity or Camping World Truck Series this past weekend.

– 28 Cup pit crew members (15.6 percent) did triple-duty, going over the wall for teams in the Xfinity and Truck Series.

– That means 123 of 180 Cup crew members (68.3 percent) went over the wall in another series.

This became an issue Saturday when the left rear wheel of Kyle Busch’s truck rolled off after he exited his pit stall. The Truck Rule Book states such an infraction is a three-race suspension for the crew chief, tire changer and jack man.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, said Monday on “The Morning Drive’’ those team members will be penalized but noted the question was if they should be suspended for just that series or each of the national series as has been the case before.

A key point is that Busch’s rear tire changer, Coleman Dollarhide, also changes tires for Cole Custer’s Xfinity team and Kurt Busch’s Cup team at Stewart-Haas Racing. Kyle Busch’s jack man, Ernie Pierce, also performs those duties for Clint Bowyer’s Cup team at SHR.

Should a penalty for a violation in one series hurt a different team in another series that had nothing to do with it?

It could last year. When Kyle Busch’s Cup car had a wheel roll off after exiting pit road at Dover in June, NASCAR suspended his crew chief, tire changer and tire carrier for all national series events. The suspension ended after they had missed four Cup races. Brad Keselowski Racing also suffered a similar penalty when it had a wheel roll off one of its trucks that same weekend.

That NASCAR appears to be leaning toward not having such a suspension carry over to other series shows that officials can be flexible with some matters.

Already for this season, NASCAR has made other such adjustments with rules:

NASCAR altered the penalty for having too many crew members work on a damaged car. Last year, such an infraction ended the race for a driver. That most notably happened to Matt Kenseth, ending his title hopes at Kansas Speedway when one too many crew members worked on his damaged car. Now, teams will be penalized two laps.

– NASCAR gave teams an additional minute to the time allotted for teams to make repairs, giving them six minutes under the damaged vehicle policy clock.

NASCAR eliminated the exception to the rule of pitting outside the box. It became an issue last fall during the playoffs when Jimmie Johnson took off from his stall and then stopped because lug nuts were not tight. He backed up but was not completely in his stall when the lugs were tight. NASCAR cited such exceptions — noting it had been allowed for other teams — as a safety measure. This year, NASCAR mandated that teams need to be completely in the pit box for any work on the car.

There’s plenty of room for other adjustments, including with suspending pit crew members only for the series their tire infraction occurs.

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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)

BK Racing court filing reveals expenses, revenue for each race

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Court documents filed Thursday show that BK Racing made a net income of $359,619 through the Phoenix Cup race.

The documents are part of BK Racing’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. The team filed Chapter bankruptcy Feb. 15.

COURT DOCUMENTS: Click here to view the BK Racing filing

MORE: Peek into race purses under charter system

A hearing Thursday afternoon in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of North Carolina, on a motion by Union Bank & Trust to have a trustee take over the team’s operations was continued until Wednesday. BK Racing car owner Ron Devine was on the stand for more than two hours.

The bank claims it is owned more than $8 million in loan payments and seeks to have a trustee oversee BK Racing’s finances “to an end to the Debtor’s years of mismanagement,’’ according to court documents from the bank.

In its motion to appoint a trustee, Union Bank filed documents stating that the team lost nearly $30 million from 2014-16.

The updated budget filed Thursday on behalf of BK Racing breaks down income and expense for each of the first four points races and anticipated income and expenses the rest of the season.

The document shows that BK Racing had $50,000 sponsorship for the Daytona 500, $10,000 sponsorship each for the Atlanta and Las Vegas races and $30,000 sponsorship for the Phoenix race.

BK Racing listed prize money as:

$29,946 for its qualifying race at Daytona

$428,794 for finishing 20th in the Daytona 500

$91,528 for finishing 36th at Atlanta

$98,754 for finishing 33rd at Las Vegas

$82,000 for finishing 34th at Phoenix

The high payout for the Daytona 500 has given BK Racing more than $350,000 in net income. For other races, though, the team’s net income has been small.

At Phoenix, the team listed a net income of $790.

The team had $120,250 in revenue for the Phoenix weekend. It was broken down this way:

$82,000 in prize money

$30,000 in sponsorship

$8,250 in other revenue

The team listed $119,460 in expenses that weekend. Among the team’s expenses for Phoenix:

$35,000 for its engine lease

$21,000 for salary and wages

$10,525 for airfare for team personnel

$9,000 for tires

$9,000 for contract payroll

Those expenses alone totaled $84,525, exceeding what the team made in prize money and showing how important sponsorship is in the sport.

BK Racing provided a budget for the remaining races. The team’s budgeted expense was more than $103,000 for every race. That included everything from engine lease and tire bills to hotels, meals, salary and wages, entry fees, insurance, payroll taxes and more.

The most expensive race is the Daytona 500 at $135,502, which included an engine lease of $50,000. Next listed was Auto Club Speedway at $125,606, which included $9,500 in airfare and $10,000 in tires.

BK Racing’s prize money estimates on remaining races is based on a 30th-place finish in each event.

BK Racing lists its sponsorship budget for future races as $50,000 per race, progressing to $100,000 and to $150,000 for the final 13 races. That would give the team a sponsorship budget of $3.505 million.

Court documents filed by Union Bank & Trust show that BK Racing collected $1.5 million in sponsorship in 2016 and $1.05 million in sponsorship in 2015.

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