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Six-shooters will return to Texas Motor Speedway Victory Lane celebration

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After a one-race absence, the traditional six-shooters will again be part of Texas Motor Speedway’s Victory Lane celebrations this season, track president and general manager Eddie Gossage has announced.

The guns were absent from the last Cup race at the 1.5-mile track on Nov. 5 when Kevin Harvick won.

Gossage nixed the guns in the immediate aftermath of a church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that same day which killed 26 people.

“I just thought ‘this isn’t the thing to do today,’ ” Gossage told the Forth Worth Star-Telegram during a Goodyear tire test at the track. “It was too close to us. If it had happened in, fill in the blank, whatever state miles and miles and miles away, I wouldn’t have thought like that. But it happened in our own backyard, more or less, in San Antonio.

“The six-shooters are not any kind of political statement or anything like that. They’re just a silly stereotypical Texas cowboy celebration. That’s all they are. A lot of different colleges and universities shoot guns or cannons or things like that at the kickoff or when they score a touchdown. And that’s all that is.”

The six-shooters have been given out since the spring 2005 Cup race. TMS also awards a Henry repeating rifle to pole-winners.

NASCAR holds its first Texas race weekend April 6-8, culminating in the Cup Series’ O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.

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Hair today, gone tomorrow: Ryan Blaney to sport new haircut this week

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Ryan Blaney‘s long mane and mustache will be history this week.

“This will definitely let me know the season is about here and you have to start looking like a professional,” Blaney said Tuesday during a break in the Goodyear tire test at Texas Motor Speedway.

So how did his hair get this way?

“I thought it looked good,” said Blaney, who moves to the No. 12 Cup team at Team Penske this season from the Wood Brothers. “I had a mustache for a cruise. I just decided to keep it, and I decided to keep it for this test, but it will all get cleaned up Friday. I actually have an appointment to shave this and cut my hair off.”

Well, not all off, of course.

But it will be much shorter, mirroring the look of Team Penske drivers and employees.

Blaney was asked if he was sad to see his long hair soon gone.

“It’s just hair,” he said. “It’s facial hair. It’s dead skin that grows out of your head. It’s nothing anything too major. I actually laugh at fans that give me a hard time whether I’m going to cut it or not. It’s just hair. There’s a lot more important things out there, but it’s funny to see the reactions. You can cut anything off that you want and it’s not going to change (me). Personality-wise I’m going to be the same person but just look a little different.

“It will be interesting not having hair touching my neck all the time. It will be a lot less work. I don’t know if you know how much work it takes to have long hair. I actually don’t really like it. It’s almost gotten too much for me. So it will look different. But I think I’ll stay the same. I’ll still be Ryan.”

The tire test concludes today. Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola and reigning series champ Martin Truex Jr. also are participating.

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Images from Goodyear tire test in Texas, including Chase Elliott’s first time in new Camaro

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A two-day Goodyear tire test is underway at Texas Motor Speedway.

Involved in the test are Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola, Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott and defending Cup champion Martin Truex Jr.

While Blaney and Almirola are debuting with new teams, it’s Elliott’s ride that is the most newsworthy.

With the No. 9 now emblazoned on the side of his car instead of the No. 24, Elliott became the first driver to pilot the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on a track.

“Behind the wheel it’s really hard to tell what changes are when you are out there by yourself,” Elliott said during media availability. “I think the changes will probably become more apparent, hopefully, when we get to say Atlanta or get to some of the tracks that the changes are going to become important at.  Out there making laps it is so hard to tell.  I think until we get into those situations and kind of get some races under our belt as not only an organization, but as a manufacturer as a whole to see exactly how we stack up I think it will be tough to say until then.”

Also of note, Blaney announced he’ll be getting a pre-season haircut.

Look below for images and video from the fog-covered test.

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NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s ‘My Greatest 8’ – first Cup win

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There are two races left in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s full-time Cup career.

Between now and his final start at Homestead-Miami Speedway, NASCAR America will present Earnhardt’s “My Greatest 8.”

The series will look at eight of Earnhardt’s personal favorite moments from his NASCAR career.

On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, we continued with the third episode of Junior’s “My Greatest 8.”

In the episode, we looked back at one of the biggest days of his racing career: his first career NASCAR Cup victory – April 2, 2000 at Texas Motor Speedway.

“That was the hardest race I’ve ever drove,” Junior said.

Father Dale Earnhardt hugged his son in victory lane, saying with pride, “He got a good race car, a good engine and the boy drove a good race.”

Click on the video above.

We began the series on Monday, when we recapped how Dale Jr. won the first of two consecutive Xfinity Series championships in 1998 while driving the No. 3 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Inc.

On Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, we relived Junior’s second consecutive Xfinity championship the following year – making him at the time only the fourth driver to win back-to-back titles in NASCAR’s junior league.

Check back Thursday for the next edition of Junior’s “My Greatest 8.”

Ross Chastain gives his side of Brendan Gaughan tangle, says he was hit in back of head

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The war of words that followed the scuffle between Ross Chastain and Brendan Gaughan after Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Texas continued Tuesday morning.

Gaughan gave his side of the incident on Sunday during the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio “Fantasy Racing Preview” show, which he co-hosts.

Tuesday, Chastain appeared on TMD and said he was hit several times by Gaughan and several members of his team, including being blindsided and punched at least once in the back of the head.

Chastain also revealed that a crew member for teammate Garrett Smithley – which Chastain did not identify – was punched in the back of the head and taken to a local hospital. Chastain said the crew member was back in the shop working Tuesday.

Here’s Chastain’s side of the story:

“When we pulled down off the track, for some reason we pulled behind victory lane, which didn’t help things because it was dark and no lights back there,” Chastain said. “As I was getting out of the car, I was kind of surprised to see him (Gaughan) and a legion of RCR guys. I thought there was only a couple when I first looked.

“By the time he had me by the neck, I was still coming out of the car with my feet in my race seat and I was sitting on the door, I realized there was about 20 guys there surrounded us, and I had three guys at the time.

“It was ugly. It was not something that was pretty to think back on. They definitely had the numbers and it showed. I had a couple guys from the 0 car (Smithley) jump in to help, and I’m thankful for that.

“They really did keep me and my guys from probably getting hurt to any extent.”

Chastain thought things had ended at that point, only to see them resume.

“We thought we had it calmed down and I got hit in the back of the head and taken down into a golf cart and rolled around a lot,” Chastain said. “I don’t know if it was just fists or stomped on a little bit. That’s pretty scary stuff. Definitely had a lot of things going through my mind at that point on how to get out of that situation.

“But a lot of things flash before your eyes when that’s happening. Luckily, some of my guys came back, realized where I was at because we all got separated there in the darkness and the crowd of people, and got me out of that situation. That was relieving to see their faces. That was pretty much it there.

“A lot happened real quick and definitely not impressed by the amount of people that came down there with Brendan and went to wailing. I got hit in the back of my head and one of the 0 guys did, as well.

“It’s some scary stuff, for sure. I’m glad the cameras weren’t there because that’s not the kind of publicity the sport needs at all. I’m all for arguments and stuff, but it was ugly and that’s not something I want people seeing.”

NASCAR officials called both drivers to the hauler after the incident, but officials did not make any statements regarding the two drivers.

Of his tangle with Chastain, Gaughan said on SiriusXM, “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.”