Truex on Chase: ‘You’re just nervous and scared’

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Two previous appearances in the Chase for the Sprint Cup didn’t truly prepare Martin Truex Jr. for what he’s faced this year.

“The feeling that I get is that you’re just nervous and scared all the damn time,’’ Truex told NASCAR Talk. “I’m being honest.’’

It’s understandable since one mistake or bit of misfortune could keep a driver from advancing.

In his first Chase since 2012, Truex had not competed in this format, which features eliminations every third race. A weekend of struggles at New Hampshire turned into an eighth-place finish and gave him a bit of comfort heading into this weekend’s race at Dover International Speedway. He is ninth in the standings with a 15-point cushion on Kyle Busch, who is 13th. The top 12 after Dover advance to the second round.

There could not be a better site for an elimination race for Truex than Dover – a track he scored his first career Sprint Cup victory, has finished in the top 10 in five of the last seven races there and placed sixth in May after leading a race-high 131 laps.

Even with his strong run there earlier this season, Truex wasn’t satisfied, saying at the time the car just wasn’t right during the race. He admits it’s an ongoing issue his team has had at that track.

“To beat (Jimmie Johnson) there you’ve got to have it exactly the way you want it,’’ said Truex, referring to Johnson’s track-record 10 wins at Dover. “We just missed it a little bit. For some reason that tire we’ve been running there, we run it at a few other tracks, it kind of gives me the same feeling all the time. We’ve had a little bit of trouble of getting it dialed in with that tire.

“We kind of fight the same issue with the car every time we run this tire. It’s almost like the car doesn’t react to what we’re doing to it.’’

Teams have run the same right-side tire at Dover since 2012. This is the only track this season that will run those tires. The left-side tires being used this weekend were used at Dover earlier this season. The left-side tires also have been used this season at Texas (Truex placed ninth), Kentucky (17th) and Chicagoland (13th). The left-side tire will be run later in the Chase at Texas and Homestead.

Other than weather – rain is in the forecast much of the weekend at Dover – one of the main topics of conversation likely will be restarts after NASCAR penalized Brad Keselowski for jumping the restart last weekend at New Hampshire.

Truex planned to see the video of that infraction since there’s a good chance he could be starting or restarting on the front row based on his success at Dover.

“I think it’s really simple to understand the rule,’’ Truex said. “The leader starts the race between the single and double red lines. I don’t understand where there is so much confusion with that. I think the confusion always come on what the second-place guy does. As far as I’m concerned, I’m perfectly fine with it, and I’ll handle it. I’m not really worried about it at all. I know what the restart rules are and I know how to make it work.’’

Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman ‘clear the air’ about All-Star incident

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CONCORD, N.C. — Five days after Clint Bowyer threw several punches at Ryan Newman as Newman sat in his car after the All-Star Race, the two sat side by side during an autograph session at a Bass Pro Shops near Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Bowyer was upset with Newman for contact that led to Bowyer crashing after last weekend’s race. After Bowyer drove to pit road, he ran to Newman’s car while still wearing his helmet — earning a rebuke from his team owner for not removing his helmet. After reaching Newman’s car, Bowyer unleashed a number of punches.

Both drivers talked this week before they got to the autograph session.

“It was good to have a conversation about it,” Bowyer said Thursday night after qualifying eighth at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. “At the end of the day there were a lot of things that escalated very fast and obviously got out of hand.

“There’s one thing I can always promise you about something like that and it is unfortunate, and you hate having things like that happen, (but) that’s probably the best attended autograph session at Bass Pro Shops that I’ve had in a long, long time.

“Obviously I don’t want to do that every weekend. At the end of the day we all love this sport, we are all passionate about this sport and every now and then that shows a little brighter.”

Bowyer was asked if he thought Newman would retaliate.

“I don’t know,” Bowyer said. “Hopefully it’s behind us. We both have a little better understanding of how it escalated into that and you’ve just got to get stuff like that behind you.”

Newman said it was good to talk to Bowyer about what happened.

“It was good to kind of clear the air,” Newman said. “It is what it is. It’s the past. Just something you always remember. You learn about somebody in a situation like that.”

Newman was asked if he’ll race Bowyer differently.

“I try to race everybody the same way and that’s hard because that’s what I get paid to do,” said Newman, who qualified 18th for the Coca-Cola 600. “I try to give-and-take when I came. The way it works anymore with stage points, especially in the All-Star race, you don’t give and take. You take.”

Starting lineup for the Coca-Cola 600

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William Byron will start first and Aric Almirola will start second for Sunday’s 60th running of the Coca-Cola 600.

Byron, 21, is the youngest pole-sitter in the race’s history.

The top five is completed by defending race winner Kyle Busch, 2017 race winner Austin Dillon and two-time 600 winner Kevin Harvick.

Click here for the starting lineup.

William Byron wins pole for Coca-Cola 600

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CONCORD, N.C. —  William Byron won the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Byron claimed the top spot with a qualifying speed of 183.424 mph. At the age of 21, he’s the youngest Coca-Cola 600 pole-sitter.

It’s Byron’s second career Cup pole, joining his pole in this year’s Daytona 500.

He beat out Aric Almirola (183.069 mph), Kyle Busch (182.933), Austin Dillon (182.766) and Kevin Harvick (182.741).

“This is awesome, a dream come true,” Byron told FS1. “Obviously, I grew up in Charlotte so I came to this race every year. It’s a dream come true to qualify on the pole next to Hendrick Motorsports across the street over there. … Can’t think of a better way to start the weekend.”

Byron has qualified on the front row five time this year and four times in the last seven races.

The pole is the 12th for Hendrick Motorsports in the 600, which leads all teams.

Busch has qualified in the top three for the last three 600s.

Corey LaJoie‘s No. 32 Ford failed pre-qualifying inspection twice, resulting in the ejection of an engineer.

Click here for qualifying results.

Joey Logano and family mourn their dog

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CONCORD, N.C. — Joey Logano provided a sobering update Thursday night about the family’s lost dog, Luigi.

The dog had been missing since Tuesday.

Logano’s wife Brittany wrote on a Facebook post for lost and found pets in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area that the family’s French Bulldog got out of their fence Tuesday night.

“Our little Luigi I believe he’s stolen, I think,” Joey Logano said earlier Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “We can’t really put a match to anything. We put a bunch of signs up and things on social media and we watched the cameras at our house and we see him running around the backyard and then you don’t see him again. Not really sure what happened there.”

“We’ve learned that Frenchies are one of the most stolen dogs around. It’s kind of sad that someone does that. It’s a member of your family. It’s a jerk move. Hopefully, we can figure it out.”