Return to Michigan gets Truex back on track with 3rd-place finish

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There’s something about Michigan International Speedway that seems to bring out the best in Martin Truex Jr.

The New Jersey native finished third at MIS in the June Sprint Cup race.

Unfortunately, his performance tailed off significantly afterward: 42nd at Sonoma, 38th at Daytona, 17th at Kentucky, 12th at New Hampshire and fourth at Indianapolis, only to fall back again to finishes of 19th at Pocono and 25th at Watkins Glen.

But Sunday, and once again back at Michigan, Truex looked very strong – much like he did through much of the first half of the season – and came out of the Pure Michigan 400 with a third-place finish.

“We passed a lot of cars, we just couldn’t ever get that track position to fight for the win,” Truex told NBCSN after the race. “We felt like we were maybe as good as the No. 20 (winner, Matt Kenseth), close at least, and it would have been nice to see if we could have fought it out with him.”

Despite some of his finishes in the previous seven races, Truex believes his showings did not tell the whole tale. He was more a victim of circumstances than poor performance.

“Man, honestly, we’ve really had momentum,” Truex said. “We’ve had such fast cars. I feel like at Watkins Glen we had the race won but we had a flat. I felt like at Pocono we were right there. We had a fast car but at the end of the race we ran out of gas.

“So, we’ve been doing what we need to. We’ve probably maybe been gambling a little too much and maybe being a little bit too aggressive, but all in all, the guys have brought fast race cars. If we could just not make mistakes and be consistent and execute, there’s no reason we can’t run in the top five every week and contend for some more wins.

“We’ve got a couple more weeks before the Chase and we’re gearing up for that. Hopefully we’ll come out of the box strong when (the Chase) starts.”

While the day ended with a good finish, restarts Sunday were an issue at times for Truex – but in the end, things ultimately worked out for the driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet.

“They (restarts) weren’t too good for us,” Truex said. “We had some good ones early in the race and then it just seemed like we could never be in the right lane and it seemed like we were always in the wrong spot.

“We finally got on the outside where we wanted to be on that one when we were fourth, and the No. 19 (Carl Edwards) spun his tires and it took us backwards. So, we just couldn’t get a right lane.

“But all in all it was a good day for our Furniture Row Chevy. The guys did a great job.”

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Penalty report from Bristol Motor Speedway

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NASCAR has issued three fines to Cup Series crew chiefs for unsecured lug nuts following Saturday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Paul Wolfe, crew chief on Brad Keselowski‘s No. 2 Ford, Alan Gustafson, crew chief on Chase Elliott‘s No. 9 Chevrolet and Michael Bugarewicz, crew chief on Clint Bowyer‘s No. 14 Ford, have each been fined $10,000 for having one unsecured lug nut.

Those fines are in addition to the points penalties against Tyler Reddick‘s Xfinity Series team (10 driver and owner points) for failing pre-qualifying inspection four times.

NASCAR also indefinitely suspended Bayley Currey for violating its substance abuse policy.

Michael McDowell to honor Jimmy Means with Darlington scheme

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Front Row Motorsports is changing things up on its No. 34 Ford for the Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway next week (6 p.m. Sept 1 on NBCSN).

After three years of using the same retro Love’s Travel Stops paint scheme, the team will show up in Darlington next weekend with Dockside Logistics as Michael McDowell‘s primary sponsor. With that sponsor comes a tribute to long-time NASCAR owner and former driver Jimmy Means.

McDowell’s car will be made to look like the No. 52 Alka-Seltzer Pontiac Means owned and drove part-time from 1989-91 in the Cup Series.

One of Means’ cars, which was driven by Mike Wallace, is located in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car graveyard.

More: Retro Rundown of Southern 500 paint schemes

Front Row Motorsports was originally known as Means-Jenkins Motorsports, based on a partnership between Means and current FRM team owner Bob Jenkins. Their relationship began with Jenkins sponsoring Means at Bristol with his local Taco Bell franchise, which led Jenkins to a partial ownership of Means’ race team. The team was active for one year before Jenkins separated and founded Front Row Motorsports.

“Throwback weekend at Darlington is one of my favorites of the whole year,” McDowell said in a press release. “It’s fun to recreate some of the most well-known paint schemes throughout the history of our sport. Our owner, Bob Jenkins, has always admired Jimmy Means, and the Alka-Seltzer car is definitely a favorite of his. I’m really excited that we can honor their friendship with our No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford.”

Corey LaJoie to carry ‘Scooby Doo’ paint scheme at Martinsville

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Popular cartoon character Scooby Doo will be featured as the theme on Corey LaJoie’s No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford Mustang for the First Data 500 on Oct. 27 at Martinsville Speedway.

Long-time team sponsor Keen Parts/ will transform the team’s usual paint scheme to what it’s calling “the Mystery Machine” for the Martinsville race, which will be four days before Halloween.

“Scooby Doo was my favorite cartoon growing up, so when Tom and TJ (team co-sponsors Tom and TJ Keen) asked what I wanted to do for Martinsville, there was no doubt that I wanted to be driving the Mystery Machine,” LaJoie said in a media release. “They always have really cool themes behind their Halloween-weekend schemes and I’m excited to be part of this one and thankful for all that they do for our team.”

For last year’s fall race at Martinsville the team and sponsor combined for a purple and black Peanuts scheme that featured Snoopy and quickly became a much-talked about fan favorite.

“We are super excited to present this paint scheme to Corey to run at Martinsville,” said lTJ Keen. “This cartoon was his favorite as a kid and I bet it still is today. We cannot thank the team enough for letting us do these schemes and we hope you fans will enjoy it.”

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Richard Childress resigns from National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors

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On Monday, Richard Childress submitted his resignation letter as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Rifle Association and a handful of the organization’s committees, NBC Sports has confirmed.

The resignation came two days after the owner of Richard Childress Racing helped give the command to start engines  for the Cup Series night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, which was co-sponsored by Bass Pro Shops and the NRA.

“At this time, it is necessary for me to fully focus on my businesses,” Childress said in his letter. “I owe that to my employees, our partners, my family, and myself. Since proudly agreeing to serve on the NRA Board, I have supported the organization and its important mission to preserve and protect our Constitutional rights. But when, as now, I am no longer able to be fully engaged in any commitment I have made, it becomes time for me to step down. I have reached that point in my ability to continue to serve the NRA. As such, I must resign.”

According to the Washington Post, Childress is the sixth member of the Board of Directors to resign since May. The Board of Directors totals more than 70 members.

Childress was elected as the NRA’s second vice president in 2015 and had also served as the first vice president until he stepped down in April of this year.

Childress will retain his NRA membership moving forward.