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Brendan Gaughan on issue with Ross Chastain: ‘I finally just had enough’

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Brendan Gaughan admits  he could have handled his disagreement with Ross Chastain after Saturday night’s Xfinity race differently but said Sunday “at this point in my life, I’m kind of to the (point of) don’t care.’’

Gaughan and Chastain were involved in a scuffle after the race. Both were called to the NASCAR hauler and met with series officials.

Gaughan deflected questions about the scuffle after leaving the hauler. Sunday morning, he spoke about the incident on the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio “Fantasy Racing Preview” show he co-hosts.

“Texas is tough,’’ Gaughan said on the show. “With the night race, the groove narrowed down. It isn’t the first issue that we’ve had and the first issue that others have had (with Chastain), and I finally just had enough. Should I have done something differently? Maybe, but at this point in my life I’m kind of to the (point of) don’t care.’’

Chastain said after the race that issues started when he and Gaughan were racing together.

“There was a slow car we were passing on the backstretch and (Gaughan) tried to split the middle,’’ Chastain said. “I wasn’t going to let him because it’s so much track position, there was clean track in front of us. We stayed side-by-side into (Turn) 3. I tried to arc from the bottom, and he tried to pinch me.

“I got really loose, saved it. All good. From then on, he was out to wreck me. My spotter could tell. (Gaughan) tried to get me in (Turns) 1 and 2.

“That’s just not acceptable. The speeds we’re going, we’ve seen guys get upside down in the catch fence on purpose before. I do not want to collect on my life insurance policy at 24 years old. That was my biggest thing in the (NASCAR) trailer, that I was upset with that needed to be taken care of.’’

Chastain said Gaughan approached him as he was exiting his car behind pit road after the race.

“I was just getting out of the car and was sitting on the door and was getting ready to swing my legs out and there he was,’’ Chastain said of Gaughan. “He just came right at me with his guys. There were just swings from that point on.’’

Said Gaughan on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “These millennials, they love to talk and text. I believe in this. This was taught to me by Butch Miller and Parnelli Jones, by some of the old greats, that if you have a problem, you make sure you get eye-to-eye contact, let them know you’ve got a problem, let them know it was intentional, accidental, whatever.’’

Gaughan said he’s heard from other competitors after the incident.

“I’ve got a lot of text messages from a lot of our peers that seem to be happy,’’ Gaughan said.

“There’s a lot of guys that don’t see eye-to-eye with Ross.’’

Chastain admits he might not be the most popular in the garage but also notes he’s not going after a popularity title.

“I race hard,’’ Chastain said. “I understand that. I know I make drivers mad. I know I make crew chiefs mad, guys thinking that I don’t get out of the way enough. It’s really hard out there to get out of the way. It’s hard for me to do that and go back to (sponsor) Flex Seal and tell them I did 100 percent and I tried to get the best finish.’’

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Todd Gordon on not pitting Joey Logano late at Martinsville: ‘I missed the call’

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Crew chief Todd Gordon said he should have pitted Joey Logano after a tire rub late in Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway and knows it impacted teammate Brad Keselowski’s bid to make it to the championship round.

“I missed the call,’’ Gordon said Tuesday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I just own that I missed the call myself.’’

Logano was running third with 12 laps left when contact with Kyle Busch created a left rear tire rub. Logano’s Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, held a 1.4-second lead at that point and seemed headed to a victory that would put him in the championship race in Miami.

Instead, Logano — who is not in the playoffs — stayed out and spun, creating a caution that erased Keselowski’s lead. Keselowski, a playoff competitor, chose the outside lane on the ensuing restart and was moved up the track for the lead by Chase Elliott a lap before Denny Hamlin ran into the back of Elliott and wrecked Elliott for the lead. Keselowski finished fourth.

A question after the race was if Logano should have pitted to avoid being a caution. That would have allowed Keselowski to keep his lead. Logano said after the race he was not called to pit road. Gordon declined to talk to media after the event.

Both Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe said after winning Talladega on Oct. 15 that they viewed Martinsville as a must-win situation in this round because of their struggles on 1.5-mile tracks (Sunday’s race is at Texas Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile track) and the uncertainty of Phoenix.

Gordon admits he was more focused on his No. 22 team in those final laps at Martinsville.

“We were third at that point,’’ Gordon said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, explaining his mindset. “As big of a struggle as it has been all year, the piece that we looked at ahead of time was that this was a place we could build some momentum. A place that we have run well very frequently. I think it’s a racetrack that Joey gets very well. I think we’ve got a good setup for what we do there. In the time Kyle got into us, we were third and fighting, really (Elliott) was playing defense against us. I only got a couple of glimpses of (the tire rub). It was smoking.

“The first lap and half of that, I wasn’t sure how bad (the tire rub) was and as I saw, I didn’t know with a few laps left whether it was an external rub or whether it was on the tire contact patch, and the smoke kind of clouds it a little bit for me. Honestly, it was looking at the fact that I felt like if it was just a tire rub we might sacrifice a top-five finish out of the day, which for a momentum piece for this whole Shell-Pennzoil team would have been a great kind of add to the situation.

“As we saw it get worse — and it got worse — we were in a position where we had cars on the inside of us. I didn’t call him to pit road from the outside lane. By the time we finally got to the bottom, it blew in (Turns) 1 and 2.

“I guess I should have called him in earlier with the grander picture in my head. I missed the call. I just own that I missed the call myself.

“Regretful for that for our teammates and everybody here at Team Penske. Brad had a dominant car all day, and I think was in a great position. Wish you could take those things back but you can’t. At that time, my focus was on a momentum builder for our team. Saw that opportunity, didn’t know how bad the rub was and as it became more clear it became too late to react to that.’’

Asked on “The Morning Drive” about the balance of making decisions in the best interest of the No. 22 team while also factoring in what’s best for the entire organization, Gordon said:

“Emotionally you’ve got to figure out how to handle those things. I’ve looked back at it. There’s things I could have done differently. You always asses the situation afterwards to try to understand how you should have looked at the situation and how you can better prepare yourself because these things do happen and how you can better prepare yourself to make the right call.

“It’s tough there because it’s a two- to three-lap penalty to pit under green. There’s 13 to go. Your day is what it is. It’s a heat of the moment decision. I’ve talked to Paul about it and I’ve shared with him my shortcomings and thought process. I think we’re good with where we’re at.

“Obviously he was disappointed with it as he should be. I told him … I’d be upset if he weren’t upset. This is a passionate sport and we’re all trying to do great things, and they were in a good position, they are still in a good position, they are in a great position. Not to say something couldn’t happen in the last nine laps that would have caused a caution other than us, but we did cause a caution and it’s something we’ll move on from.’’

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NASCAR explains why Denny Hamlin was not penalized for Chase Elliott crash

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A NASCAR executive reaffirmed Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio the sanctioning body’s decision not to penalize Denny Hamlin for wrecking Chase Elliott in the final laps of Sunday’s Cup race at Martinsville Speedway.

Elliott led when Hamlin rammed him in the back, causing Elliott to spin and hit the wall on Lap 498 of the 505-lap race.

As they drove at reduced speed after the race, Elliott turned his car into Hamlin’s car and forced it into the wall. They both exited their cars and had a heated exchange.

Asked on “The Morning Drive” about NASCAR’s perspective of the incident during the race, Steve O’Donnell, the sanctioning body’s chief racing development officer, said:

“Certainly, what Chase was able to do in an attempt to win his first race there, I think you saw by the fans how much he has a fan base and how much everyone wants to see him win. Denny, I think, did in his mind what he needed to do and probably went too far.

“We did not make a call there. That race stands. We’re not in the business of calling an in-race penalty postrace. That was good hard racing, for the most part, all day at Martinsville.

“I think Denny might have crossed the line as he put out there on Twitter, and I thought Chase handled himself very well postrace. Showed some passion. That’s what the sport is all about. He’s got a long career ahead of him. I think he’ll be up front leading many times.’’

Asked if there was any discussion about the postrace contact Elliott made with Hamlin’s car as Hamlin’s window net was down, O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio:

“Not really. You’re at a short track and not at speed. … For us, that was just part of Martinsville.’’

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NASCAR explains why only Martin Truex Jr. was penalized on restart

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas — A NASCAR executive said that series officials clarified a rule on starts and restarts after drivers came to them with concerns before Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway.

The result was Richard Buck, managing director of the Cup Series, telling competitors in the drivers meeting: “A reminder to stay in your lane until you cross the start-finish line. The front row establishes the lanes and the inside lane must be established above the inside painted line.’’

Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief Cole Pearn admitted they missed the directions in the meeting. Truex was penalized on a restart when he went below the white line. Kevin Harvick followed Truex below the white line but was not penalized.

Steve O’Donnell, executive vice president and chief racing development officer for NASCAR, explained the rule Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and why Truex was penalized and Harvick wasn’t.

“We had some discussions early on with some of the competitors on Sunday morning about the fact that not necessarily just the inside lane, but if the inside car dropped below the white line it would force, potentially, the outside row or one of the drivers in the outside row to change lanes and the fear of being penalized,’’ O’Donnell said.

“We were asked to see if we could clarify that. That was why the language was put in place in the drivers meeting. Clearly communicated by Richard (Buck) to stay above the while line. It was really the first row of drivers that set that line so anyone who is following them was going to be put in a tough position because they had to stay in line, so that was why the penalty was called on (Truex) and not the drivers that dropped below behind (Truex).’’

Harvick, who said he didn’t realize he went below the white line following Truex on the restart, said Buck’s order stood out to him.

“I’ve been to a lot of drivers meetings, and I listen and watch it every week, and when you hear something different, it sticks out like a sore thumb,’’ Harvick said. “When I heard them say that you have to establish a lane above the white line, that was new to me. Usually it’s you can’t beat the leader on the original start and all the normal stuff. That was different. I’ve never heard that before.’’

O’Donnell also addressed the penalty that ended Matt Kenseth’s race.

After suffering crash damage, Kenseth was on the five-minute clock for repairs. Section 10.9.9.h of the Cup Rule Book states: “In addition to the five-minute time limit described above, six or fewer crew members are permitted in the vehicle’s assigned pit box for repairs to a damaged vehicle. An additional person (i.e. seventh crew member) is only permitted to service the driver and clean the windshield. If a vehicle exceeds the crew member limit, the vehicle will not be scored or permitted to return to the Race.’’

O’Donnell explained on “The Morning Drive” the situation with Kenseth’s team.

“It’s one of those that obviously we hate to have to make that call, but it is an established rule,’’ O’Donnell said. “It’s one that we worked with all the race teams at the beginning of the year to put in place. The reason for it was if we didn’t put some parameters around it, I think the industry collectively knew you would have potentially 30 or 40 people over the wall, especially around a championship scenario where a car had to get back in. That was the situation we wanted to avoid and why the rule was put in place. In this case, we try to give everybody the benefit of the doubt. It was unfortunate that seven were identified working on the car and that’s an automatic end of the race for a driver unfortunately.’’

Jason Ratcliff, Kenseth’s crew chief, stated what happened:

“That’s one thing about that pit stall (closest to pit entrance), makes it difficult,’’ he said. “You get to pit road really quick. You have a little less time to communicate. Thankfully we don’t fall under the damaged vehicle policy that much. Other than last week at Talladega we did. We missed a head count there.

“Two of (the crew members) were holding tires (but were over the wall). We have a gameplan. We have a gameplan that has worked really good for us all year and … I don’t know if someone missed the call there or I didn’t communicate properly. Typically it boils down to communication and that’s what happened there.’’

But Ratcliff said it might be time to look at changing the penalty on that rule.

“It’s a shame that that’s a rule that takes competitors out of an opportunity for a championship,’’ he said Sunday. “I think it’s one rule that needed to be implemented this year as far as damage vehicle policy, but I think it really needs some restructuring and some work now that its been in place. I don’t think it’s doing what they intended it for it to do. I think today is a perfect example of that.’’

Will NASCAR possibly change this rule for next season?

“We always look after the end of the season, we look at what happened and different rules,’’ O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “In this case, Scott Miller (senior vice president of competition), I think, personally had conversations with all the teams that were still a part of the championship again reminding everyone every race that this is part of it and don’t put yourself in that position. We get the frustration. You wouldn’t be a competitor if you weren’t frustrated in this situation.

“Certainly something we can look at, but I think it was a rule that was established by the industry so we look at that collectively.’’

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NASCAR America: Under the radar playoff drivers, Talladega’s playoff placement

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SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Pete Pistone dropped by NASCAR America for his weekly appearance to discuss the Cup playoffs so far.

Pistone was asked who he thought is the most under the radar driver through five races in the playoffs. He chose Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin.

“We’ve heard from Denny Hamlin on some other things, some off-the-track stuff,” Pistone said. “He’s been in the headlines. But in terms of how he’s running and where’s he’s running, I think we’ve sort of been missing him a little bit.”

Hamlin finished sixth at Talladega for his third top 10 of the playoffs. His worst result so far is 35th (DNF) at Dover for an axle problem.

Kyle Petty asked Pistone who he would rather see eliminated from the playoffs if he were Martin Truex Jr: Jimmie Johnson or Kyle Busch.

“I think I want to see Jimmie Johnson eliminated and the only reason I would say that Kyle is because Jimmie’s been there before, (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) has been there before. We’ve written off Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson even this late in the playoffs before. It’s almost Halloween. They’re sort of like Michael Myers from Halloween, the movie. If you let them up and be alive again they’re going to come and get you with a knife.”

Watch the above video for more.