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Mark Martin gladly embraces whirlwind week of traveling Indianapolis to Charlotte — twice


CONCORD, N.C. – Mark Martin’s Indianapolis-Charlotte doubleheader will be a scramble, but with a couple planes at his disposal and a recent NASCAR Hall of Fame election, it’s worth it.

“This is an incredible privilege, an honor, and I’m extremely humbled by the opportunity to be a part of the NASCAR Hall of Fame,” Martin said.

He will be driving Sunday, too, the pace car to lead the 57th running of the Coca-Cola 600 to the green flag.

But if he actually were racing this weekend, his itinerary might seem considerably more daunting.

“It could be a nightmare,” Martin said Saturday during a news conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  “I can’t imagine having that. What Kurt Busch (running the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in 2014) was amazing. Not everyone could do it. It’s amazing what he did.”

Martin’s whirlwind week began with the arrival of a text message while he was clearing bugs off the front windshield of his motorhome, which he had parked in Indianapolis after driving in from Arkansas for the weekend.

In his second year on the ballot, he had been elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame – an honor he hadn’t expected to realize for years, if ever.

He certainly hadn’t expected it this year, having booked a weekend with his family at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to attend the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

But that couldn’t derail him from traveling to Charlotte to soak in the congratulations from his friends in the NASCAR garage.

Martin shares a plane with a business partner in Arkansas, and they have a pilot who flew Martin’s wife, Arlene, and son, Matt, to Indianapolis. They quickly turned around and flew to North Carolina, where Martin spent Saturday at the track.

He returned to Indianapolis later Saturday. After watching history Sunday at Indy, Martin will hitch a ride back to Charlotte on a NASCAR plane.

The Batesville, Arkansas, native will spend the week in Charlotte and plans to make a NASCAR America appearance on NBCSN.

“We’re going to enjoy being in Charlotte,” Martin said. “I spend most of my time in Arkansas right now. We don’t get over here as much as we like, so we’re going to enjoy being here and having some good restaurants and great grocery stores and stuff like that. It’s kind of rural where we’re at. We might even have time to catch a movie.”

Perhaps there will be time to visit friends at the race shops scattered around the city. The Coke 600 will be the first Sprint Cup race attended by Martin since his final start in the 2013 Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Though he doesn’t miss driving, Martin, 57, said he began to miss the people, particularly this season.

“The longer it’s gone, the more I’ve noticed it,” said Martin, whose career in NASCAR’s premier series mostly ran from 1988-2013. “I’ve really noticed I miss the fans, miss the competitors, and I miss the media and journalists. I do miss that. I didn’t feel like I had a place (at the track). When I drove a race car, there was a place for me here. I felt awkward about attending a race, being I don’t work on a car or drive a race car anymore.

“This is a real cool opportunity to get back and connect with my family for 30 years.”

Scan All: “It’s crazy what you guys’ll do for a million bucks”

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“It’s crazy what you guys’ll do for a million bucks,” crew chief Todd Gordon told his driver after Joey Logano narrowly missed a multicar accident In the All-Star Race.

“You just wait. You’ll see a lot more of that,” Logano replied.

Here are some other highlights:

  • “Beside the 4, I think we’ve got the best car; it’s driving pretty good.” – Kyle Busch
  • “We’re tore up. Lost the hood.” – Brad Keselowski
  • “I just want to thank my teammate Clint Bowyer for putting us in that position.” – Kurt Busch
  • “He’s the last one to do that because he mirror drives everybody.” – Kyle Larson, after contact from Logano sent him spinning.
  • “That 22’s probably going to be our next caution. I think he’s gonna cut a tire, personally.” – Chase Elliott
  • “A million dollars baby. Hell yeah!” – Kevin Harvick

For more, watch the above video.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: All-Star Scan All, look ahead to Coca-Cola 600

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Carolyn Manno hosts from our Stamford, Connecticut studio and is joined by driver Landon Cassill. Jeff Burton joins from Burton’s Garage.

  • This weekend, NASCAR’s best will be put to the longest test of the season in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 600-mile distance isn’t the only thing that’s unique about this challenging event. Landon and Jeff will explain what drivers have to look out for, both on and off the track!


  • The Charlotte region is also home base for Team Penske and its 2017 IndyCar Series champion, Josef Newgarden. As he heads into this weekend’s Indianapolis 500, Newgarden joins the show LIVE to discuss the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, his relationship with his Penske teammates, and what it’s like working for “The Captain.”


  • And it’s our favorite feature of the week – Scan All! Crank up those scanners and listen in on drivers, crew chiefs and spotters as they battle for a million bucks in last Saturday’s All-Star Race.


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

Matt Kenseth discusses early progress for Roush cars on Dale Jr. Download

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Matt Kenseth shares parenting tips for Dale Earnhardt Jr., discusses their early days racing together and talks about his return to the car for Roush Fenway Racing in this week’s Dale Jr. Download.

Kenseth returned to the Cup Series earlier this month, driving the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing at Kansas. He finished 36th after he was eliminated by a crash. He won the pole for last weekend’s All-Star Race and finished 14th in the 21-car field.

Kenseth will be back in the car for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 and the next two races (Pocono and Michigan) before Trevor Bayne drives the No. 6 at Sonoma.

Kenseth and Bayne will split time in the car the rest of the season.

Kenseth, without a ride after Joe Gibbs Racing did not renew his contract last year, was brought to Roush Fenway Racing to help that organization improve its cars.

“It’s been really different for me because it’s a different role than I’ve ever felt like I’ve had through my racing career,’’ Kenseth said on the podcast.

After two races, Kenseth is learning what needs to be done to help the team. 

“I kind of now know where I feel like that they’re at and how much we need to do to get back to an extremely competitive environment,’’ Kenseth said, “so it’s just a lot different role and different feeling than I’ve ever had before, it’s more of a project.’’

In terms of that project, where do things stand after two races?

“Obviously, there’s a lot of room for improvement,’’ Kenseth said. “I think, the potential is there but certainly it’s going to take some work and probably a little more patience and a little more time than maybe I originally thought.’’

Listen to the show here and all that Kenseth had to say.

Cup team’s debut stirs debate on value of smaller part-time teams

Photo: NY Racing

The entry of NY Racing for this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 has stirred talk about the value of smaller teams unable to compete a full season in Cup after a comment from the chairman of the Race Team Alliance.

NY Racing is entered in its first Cup race of the year. JJ Yeley is the driver. The team announced Tuesday a multi-year deal with Steakhouse Elite as sponsor. The team is owned by John Cohen, whose previous Cup teams ran 16 races between 2012-15. His team’s best finish was 32nd in the 2015 Daytona 500 with Reed Sorenson. His teams also failed to qualify for seven races and withdrew five times.

The entry of NY Racing means one car will fail to qualify for the Coca-Cola 600. The five teams going for the four spots available for non-charter teams are those of BJ McLeod (No. 52, Rick Ware Racing), Sorenson (No. 55 Premium Motorsports), Timmy Hill (No. 66, Motorsports Business Management), Parker Kligerman (No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing) and Yeley.

NY Racing’s entry drew the ire of Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing and chairman of the Race Team Alliance. Kauffman tweeted about NY Racing’s entry and then responded to a few who questioned him.

Kauffman’s tweet drew a response from Xfinity driver Tommy Joe Martins, who has been vocal about the importance of smaller teams in NASCAR’s national series and the need to raise the profiles of such teams. Martins responded to Kauffman’s comments with a series of tweets.

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