NASCAR executive explains why no caution for Carl Edwards’ spin and more

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Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer, made his weekly Monday morning appearance on “The Morning Drive’’ on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and answered questions about recent events.

Here’s what he said:

On no caution flag on the final lap of Sunday’s race after Carl Edwards spun

“It’s going to be a judgment call. We’ve stated that we’re going to make every effort to try to finish under green-flag conditions. That’s what the fans want to see. We’ve got to be obviously mindful of what’s occurring on the racetrack. It’s a split-second decision.

“I think yesterday if you look at the circumstances that played out with Carl, when we initially saw him get loose, he was down on the apron. As we made that quick decision, it was ‘OK, he’s clear we can go.’ Just as you make that, his car slides up across the track. That’s something you don’t want to see green- or yellow-flag conditions, but, at the time, if we would have thrown the yellow, then it’s too late because he’s already up and across the track. We elected to let it play out. We certainly didn’t like to see how Carl came across the track but ultimately we were able to come back under green-flag conditions.

“People want to point to who’s leading, who’s not leading, what could have happened, what didn’t happen. I know it’s hard to believe for some folks, we don’t look at that. We look at the circumstances of the incident. We’ve got to make that call. We’re not always going to be right. We know with each decision we open it up for debate. That’s sports.

“We’ll talk to Carl and the competitors about that but did like seeing us being able to finish under green.’’

On the new qualifying format for restrictor-plate events:

“Ultimately, I think you saw it play out correctly. We’ll follow up with everybody … and ask if there is anything we can change to continue to improve upon it. I think we liked what we saw and the results were certainly good as well with everybody having a shot at the pole.’’

On no penalties at the end of Saturday’s Xfinity race for cars pushing in the pack:

“It’s a very tough rule to police. It’s such a small gap that can exist between cars. Drivers were hooked up and not hooked up. When you were about to make a call, they break loose. We took some cars from the race to go back and look at in the wind tunnel to see if there are things we can do to not have to be in that business  of making a rules call there because it is so difficult. We’re going to look really hard at that rule and the continuation of policing it.’’

On the recent fires on pit road and what NASCAR is doing:

“I think we will certainly review each one of those. We did from the incident at Richmond and looked at some of the safety equipment some of the individuals were wearing and made adjustments there and you can see that already occurring on pit road. We’ll continue to look at the equipment also. That’s something we’ll work with the race teams this week, especially Tuesday at the R&D Center and see what we can continue to do.’’

On the Sprint Cup schedule after Kevin Harvick’s comments calling for change with it:

“We feel like we’ve struck on a really good balance on the schedule. One of the things that is also a challenge that you hear from the promoters is knowing when their date is. Historically, we’ve been on year-to-year sanction agreements. We’d like to get much further out. We’d like to be talking about the Daytona 500 date is set in 2018 and 2019 so fans can make plans.

“That’s the path we’re on. We certainly receive a lot of interest from tracks that are out there. We’ve got to balance that with the fan base, television partners, sponsors. A lot goes into that, but again we’re happy with the schedule that we have now. There certainly could be tweaks and we’ll work with the promoters to look at that. Kevin has always got great ideas. We have a lot of dialogue with Kevin, he’s our champion. We’ll continue to do that. Ultimately, we’ve got to make the decisions in the best interests of all the stakeholders in the sport.’’

On the status of granting Kyle Busch a waiver: 

“I talked to Kyle last week and he talked about his plans. The next step for us is to hear from Joe Gibbs and the organization and let us know officially when Kyle is coming back and from there we’ll have to make a determination.’’

 

Updated entry lists for Cup, Truck at Martinsville

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Here are the entry lists for this weekend’s races.

Cup – STP 500 (2 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox Sports 1)

Thirty-six cars are entered for the sixth Cup race of the year. D.J. Kennington is listed in the No. 77 Spire Motorsports entry.

Jeb Burton is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 52 Ford.

Click here for the entry list.

Gander Outdoors Truck – Martinsville 250 (2 p.m. ET Saturday on Fox Sports 1)

Thirty-nine trucks are entered. Those also entered in the Cup race are Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon and Ross Chastain. Bubba Wallace is entered in AM Racing’s No. 22 truck.

Click here for the entry list.

NASCAR America Motormouths at 5 p.m. ET with Bubba Wallace

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America presents Motormouths airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Rutledge Wood hosts with Kyle Petty and they’ll be joined by special guest Bubba Wallace.

Fans will have the chance to call into the show to ask questions.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online 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.

Indy 500 analyst role part of looking forward for Danica Patrick

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It’s been 10 months since Danica Patrick last competed in an auto racing event and she is completely fine with that.

Patrick was last seen in a cockpit in last May’s Indianapolis 500, part of her mini-retirement tour from racing that also included a run in the Daytona 500.

Now she’ll be back at the track, serving as an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of the 103rd Indy 500 on May 26.

It will be an interlude to her post-racing career.

“I really don’t miss racing,” Patrick said during a teleconference Wednesday.  “I’m really happy. I selfishly set out (with) the intention I wanted to travel a lot. I’ve definitely done that. Also working on my other businesses.”

Without racing, Patrick is able to look over her “Warrior” clothing line and her Somnium wine. She’s also been a host of ESPN’s Espy Awards show.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward (person),” Patrick said. “This is something that’s part of looking forward. This is something totally new and different for me. It’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history, but it hasn’t been my job, which is why I’m going to work really hard to make sure I’m ready, like anything else I do that’s different.

Since retiring, Patrick said she watches racing “when I can.”

“I’m not going to lie, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Patrick said. “It’s allowed me new opportunities like this.”

This won’t be the first time Patrick has served in an analyst role for a race. She did the same for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in the last few years of her NASCAR career.

“It’s very good to have had that experience,” Patrick said. “Obviously I was giving my driving experience sort of perspective and that insight, which is something I’m going to be doing again. But it was a guest spot.

“This is firm and established, part of a small team of two with Mike (Tirico) and I. I think there’s going to be a lot more preparation involved, I’m going to need to know a lot more information.”

Patrick said there will be one difference in her Indy 500 experience this year compared to the eight times she competed in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I didn’t purposely look at the buildup of the day,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to see the fans rolling in, all the pomp and circumstance. I really liked to keep it quiet. I wanted to just walk out there and have it be the event, not let myself get built up too much in my head with nerves, just the platform, the iconic event that it was, the millions of people. I just wanted to stay focused and go do it.

“This time, I’m sure I will see the buildup. I’m sure I’ll see the place fill in and turn from a quiet, peaceful, magical place, (and) at the shot of a cannon it’s going to start unraveling. That will be a cool perspective for me that I purposely haven’t really watched closely.”

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Bubba Wallace entered in Truck race at Martinsville

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AM Racing announced Wednesday that Bubba Wallace will drive the No. 22 entry in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.

AM Racing tweeted: “In an effort to advance the performance component of our program, we will be putting a different Chevrolet driver in the seat of the No. 22 Chevrolet Silverado for Martinsville Speedway this weekend.”

AM Racing stated that Wallace “has been selected with very specific objectives regarding program feedback and development. His record at the track speaks for itself.”

Wallace, who will be on Wednesday’s NASCAR America (5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN), has two wins in four starts in the Truck series at Martinsville. He won there in 2013 and in 2014. Both times he won driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Austin Wayne Self had driven the No. 22 entry in the first three Truck races of the season. He finished ninth at Daytona and followed that with a 27th-place finish at Atlanta and a 15th-place finish in Las Vegas. He is 12th in the points.