Entry lists for Martinsville (updated)

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NASCAR visits a short track for the first time this season when it heads to Martinsville Speedway, the oldest track on the circuit.

The Cup Series is joined by the Camping World Truck Series, which has been off the last two weeks.

Here are the entry lists for both races.

Cup – STP 500

There are 38 cars entered.

Jeffrey Earnhardt is listed as driving StarCom Racing’s No. 00 Chevrolet, but the team announced Sunday it has parted ways with Earnhardt.

Landon Cassill will take his place this weekend and at Texas Motor Speedway.

D.J. Kennington is entered in his third race this season, driving Gaunt Brothers Racing’s No. 96 Toyota.

Ross Chastain is entered in Premium Motorsports’ No. 15 Chevrolet for the fifth time this season.

Harrison Rhodes is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 51 Chevrolet. Rhodes has one start in the No. 51 at Atlanta.

JJ Yeley will drive Premium Motorsports’ N0. 55 Chevrolet. Reed Sorenson was originally listed as the driver.

Last year, Brad Keselowski won this race after leading 116 of 500 laps. He beat Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott. In the fall playoff race, Busch won over Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Alpha Energy Solutions 250

There are 36 trucks entered.

Todd Gilliland will make his first start of the season in Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 4 Toyota.

Kyle Benjamin is entered in DGR-Crosley’s No. 54 Toyota. It will be his first Truck start.

Timothy Peters will make his first start of the year driving Ricky Benton Racing’s No. 92 Ford. A former driver for the defunct Red Horse Racing, Peters’ last start was in the 2017 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Last year, Chase Elliott won this race over Johnny Sauter and Christopher Bell. The fall playoff race was won by Noah Gragson over Matt Crafton and Sauter.

Click here for the entry list.

NASCAR examining inspection procedure, penalties

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NASCAR is examining what penalties to issue when teams don’t pass inspection before qualifying, will have a different inspection procedure this weekend at Martinsville and remains committed to inspecting cars at the R&D Center, a series official said Monday.

Scott Miller, senior vice president of competition, made the comments on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Thirteen cars did not make a qualifying attempt Friday at Auto Club Speedway because they failed to pass inspection in time. Among the drivers who started at the rear in Sunday’s race because of that were Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, William Byron, Kasey Kahne, Daniel Suarez and Alex Bowman.

They would have had an advantage with starting on sticker tires while those who qualified had run laps on their tires. Auto Club Speedway’s surface wears tires. Fresher tires produce faster speeds.

NASCAR decided to allow teams that qualified to purchase a sticker set to start the race on, so every team would be on equal footing. For the Xfinity race, NASCAR stated that any team that didn’t pass inspection before qualifying would be forced to pass through pit road at the start of the race. Every car passed inspection.

“Moving forward, I’m not sure either thing will be where we land, but we certainly will be working on something to keep from having to react like that at the race track,’’ Miller said.

At Martinsville this weekend, NASCAR will not have inspection before qualifying. Instead, cars will be inspected after Saturday’s qualifying. That inspection also will serve as inspection before the race since cars will be impounded after qualifying.

If any team fails inspection, their qualifying time will be disallowed and they will start at the rear of the field for Sunday’s race at Martinsville. 

“We’re actually kind of looking forward to that as a way forward actually,’’ Miller said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It would be really good if we could get it down to one major inspection for the weekend moving forward.’’

Miller also addressed the issue of if NASCAR would consider no longer inspecting cars at the R&D Center a few days after the event but complete the inspection process at the track.

Twice this month, NASCAR has announced penalties that were discovered at the R&D Center three days after that particular race.

“We’re looking at a lot of different things that potentially could be something different,’’ Miller said. “We want to make sure that we’re doing a thorough job of inspecting the race cars and right now the R&D Center is our best avenue for doing that.’’

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Jimmie Johnson breaks through with first top 10 of season

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Jimmie Johnson was finally relevant on Sunday.

The seven-time Cup champion started 33rd in the Auto Club 400, but was able to do two things he hadn’t done through the first four races of the season.

He earned his first stage points of the year, finishing fifth in Stage 1 and seventh in Stage 2.

A six-time winner at Auto Club Speedway, Johnson also earned his first top 10 of the season. His ninth-place finish snapped a career-worst streak without a top 10 at 10 races.

His last top 10 was October at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Johnson’s career-worst streak of races without a win now stands at 28.

“Each week we have been getting a little bit better,” Johnson said. “We are definitely not happy with where we are right now, but we are seeing the improvements, we have been seeing it internally.  We are making the cars drive better and better and we are getting more competitive. So, a strong day for the Lowe’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We are not where we want to be but we are getting closer every week.”

Johnson and his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates had to overcome starting from the rear Sunday.

All four cars were among 13 that failed to get through qualifying inspection on Friday, preventing them from making a qualifying attempt.

Chase Elliott finished 16th, his worst result this year not related to a DNF for a crash.

Alex Bowman finished 13th, tying his best result of the season.

William Byron placed 15th.

Bowman and Byron remain without top-10 finishes this season.

Starting lineup for the Auto Club 400

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Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch will start on the front row of Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

They will be followed by Kyle Larson, Erik Jones, Austin Dillon and Joey Logano.

Kevin Harvick will start his attempt at a fourth consecutive win from 10th.

Thirteen drivers will start from the rear after their cars failed qualifying inspection.

Click here for the starting lineup

NASCAR America: When should Hendrick Motorsports start to worry?

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On Sunday, Hendrick Motorsports saw important gains in its efforts to win it first race since June.

With a third-place finish, Chase Elliott led an effort that saw all four Hendrick cars in the top 15 for the first time this year.

But Elliott’s top five was the team’s first in 2018.

Of Hendrick’s four drivers, only seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson has won a Cup race.

On NASCAR America, analysts Dale Earnhardt Jr., Steve Letarte and Dale Jarrett discussed what’s ailed the team and when it should start to worry about results.

“I think the car is a lot of it,” Earnhardt said, referencing the new Camaro model Chevrolet teams are breaking in this season. “I look at the Chevrolet and I see things I like about that car that I think would make instant success on the track compared to what we had last year. But then there’s things I see that are going to take some time for those guys to figure out just in the body alone.”

Earnhardt said anyone worried about Hendrick should wait until the end of May and the beginning of summer. If HMS is still struggling to get into the top 10 then “it’s a serious issue.”

A race looms next weekend at Martinsville Speedway, a track Johnson has won at nine times.

But Earnhardt, Johnson’s former teammate, said a Johnson win at the short track wouldn’t necessarily  mean the team’s problems are solved.

“Even if he does run well, Martinsville is such an odd track and doesn’t relate to any other race track we go to,” Earnhardt said.

Watch the above video for more on Hendrick’s problems.