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Bump & Run: Does NASCAR need more dirt races?

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The Camping World Truck Series races Wednesday night at Eldora Speedway. Does NASCAR need more dirt races? If so, what series and where?

Kyle Petty: No. NASCAR doesn’t “need’’ any more dirt races! Unless you believe that NASCAR “needs” gimmicks to draw fans and attention. I love dirt racing so don’t get me wrong. I just don’t believe the sport/business that NASCAR has grown into at the Cup/Xfinity levels “needs’’ dirt. Having said that, I would like to see another dirt track added to the Truck Series to eliminate the gimmick feel of Eldora.

Nate Ryan: Yes and a Cup race at Eldora would be a good start. The (incorrect) narrative goes that having another NASCAR national series on the short track somehow would dilute the concept of racing on dirt. But its appeal isn’t rooted in uniqueness … it simply stems from the racing being high quality. I think an annual NASCAR on dirt weekend at Eldora would be a fine idea.

Dustin Long: I like that the Truck race is special. Sometimes, it’s better to want more of something than to have more of it. NASCAR does not need to run a Cup or Xfinity race on dirt. Let the Trucks have the spotlight on dirt and don’t get caught up in the fantasy that more of something is better.

Denny Hamlin scored his 30th career Cup win Sunday. Every eligible driver for the Hall of Fame with 30 or more wins has been inducted. Should 30 Cup wins be viewed as automatic for Hall of Fame enshrinement?

Kyle Petty: Thirty wins are huge in the sport right now! So at this time I would probably answer yes! But my view is skewed. I grew up watching my dad, Pearson, Yarborough and Allison! So when I was in my 20s, I would have said the number should be 70 or 80! Thirty wins, as BIG as they are, is a LONG way from those guys’ numbers. I realize it’s apples and oranges and that’s the problem with having a “standard’’ with which to measure achievement in this sport. The “standard’’ for those already in the Hall is what? The Hall has stated “there are many ways in.’’ That’s why we have the eclectic group we have already in the Hall. The word or use of “standard” cannot and does not apply .

Nate Ryan: Thirty victories should be enough to qualify for a Hall of Fame induction (even without a championship), but the Hall of Fame criteria and selection process are in need of some tweaking that also could affect how long a 30-win driver would wait to be elected. The nominee list needs to be sliced and voting percentage requirements will be necessary in the future.

Dustin Long: In this era, 30 wins is an apropos standard for Hall of Fame enshrinement. Typically, it has taken active drivers who have reached that threshold more than a decade to do so. That’s a good standard for today’s drivers. 

What’s the next penalty NASCAR should give teams if they continue to fail inspection?

Kyle Petty: After failing initial inspection or qualifying inspection “X’’ number of times, the offender, at the following race, will be allowed one practice session only and will attempt one qualifying session. They must qualify 30th or better but will start the race from the last position. They will also have the last pit pick. If the competitor fails post-race inspection “X’’ number of times they will forfeit one race. They will be allowed to practice, qualify, and race. But no points will be awarded, finishing position will be listed as “last’’ (even if they win) and no money is awarded. Plan money will be divided and one race deducted. That’s my plan … Boys Have at It!

Nate Ryan: NASCAR has hinted at reduced race tire allotments, and that seems a suitable option. Practice holds don’t seem to be an effective deterrent in the slightest.

Dustin Long: I like the idea of the pass-through penalty or something stronger, especially if it is not a first-time offense. One key issue is there have been questions in the garage about the reliability of NASCAR’s equipment. If these penalties are going to continue to ramp up, NASCAR must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt not only to the garage but to fans that its equipment is reliable and consistent.

Watch Kyle Petty on NASCAR America from 5-6 p.m. ET today on NBCSN. He joins host Carolyn Manno and Parker Kligerman to discuss the latest issues in the sport.

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Kyle Busch ends the season No. 1

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The 2019 season is over and Kyle Busch is the NASCAR Cup champion. And not surprisingly, the younger Busch brother also ends the season as No. 1 in this week’s Power Rankings.

Busch received 39 of 40 possible points to take the No. 1 spot, followed by the other three Championship 4 contenders: Martin Truex Jr. (35 points), and Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick (tied for third place with 28 points each).

The biggest surprises in this week’s standings were Xfinity Series champ Tyler Reddick in fifth and Gander Outdoors Truck Series champ Matt Crafton in sixth.

Here’s this week’s Power Rankings:

1. Kyle Busch (39 points): Finally gets that second title. Last week: Second.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (35 points): Inexcusable pit mistake left him as the championship runner-up for the second year in a row. Last week: Fourth.

(tie) 3. Denny Hamlin (28 points): Came so close to his first championship, only to be fall short yet again. Could this be the closest he’ll get? Last week: First.

(tie) 3. Kevin Harvick (28 points): Needed a bit more help than he got going against the Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut. Still, a very strong season regardless. Last week: Third.

5. Tyler Reddick (18 points): It’s hard enough to win one championship, but back-to-back championships with two different teams? Last week: Unranked.

6. Matt Crafton (14 points): Wins the championship without even winning a race (in fact, his last win was more than two years ago). Thrived on his underdog status. Last week: Unranked.

7. Ryan Blaney (12 points): Finished 11th or better, including a win at Talladega, in five of the last six playoff races. Last week: Fifth.

(tie) 8. Joey Logano (11 points): Ends year with four consecutive top 10s, but he fell short in making it to the championship round and defending last year’s title. Last week: Eighth.

(tie) 8. Erik Jones (11 points): Ends season with four top 10s in last five races. That bodes well for next season. Last week: Seventh.

10. Christopher Bell (6 points): Missed his chance to add an Xfinity title to his Truck championship. Still, with eight wins, had an outstanding season. Up next: a promotion to the Cup Series. Last week: 10th.

Others receiving votes: Kyle Larson (5 points), Clint Bowyer (5 points), Cole Custer (4 points), Austin Hill (2 points), Brad Keselowski (1 point), Brett Moffitt (1 point).

Zane Smith joins GMS Racing for full-time Truck Series ride

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Zane Smith will compete full-time for GMS Racing in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series next year, the team announced Tuesday.

Smith, 20, joins the team after competing part-time with JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series this year, where his best result in 10 races was fifth twice.

He will be GMS Racing’s fourth full-time entry next year, joining Brett Moffitt, Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum. Sam Mayer will compete part-time.

Smith will have veteran Kevin “Bono” Manion as his crew chief.

“When I got the offer from Mike Beam asking me to run a truck full-time for GMS Racing, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” Smith said in a press release. “GMS is a championship-caliber team and to be a part of an organization like theirs is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m looking forward to working with Manion again. He has a lot of experience and I know we will be a great team.”

Manion, who has 24 wins across all three national NASCAR series since 2003, joins GMS Racing after serving as a crew chief for DGR-Crosley in 2019, including working with Rookie of the Year Tyler Ankrum. Manion was crew chief for Smith in 2018 when he made his Truck Series debut at Gateway and finished fifth.

“I am really excited to join GMS Racing and Zane (Smith) for the 2020 season,” Manion said in a press release. “With GMS Racing’s championship caliber equipment and Chevrolet support, we have all the resources to win some races and be in the hunt for the 2020 Championship. I got the opportunity to crew chief Zane (Smith) in his first Gander Trucks start in 2018 at Gateway and we worked really well together. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish next season.”

Sponsorship and an assigned truck number for Smith will be announced at a later date.

Penalty report from Homestead-Miami Speedway

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NASCAR issued four fines and one suspension for lug nut violations during its championship weekend in Miami.

Cup Series

Mike Wheeler, crew crew chief on Matt DiBenedetto‘s No. 95 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.

Xfinity Series

Mike Shiplett, crew chief on Cole Custer‘s No. 00 Ford, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.

Truck Series

Steve Lane, the owner of On Point Motorsports and crew chief on Danny Bohn‘s No. 30 Toyota, was fined $5,000 and suspended one points race for two unsecured lug nuts. The No. 30 truck competed part-time this season and made 16 starts. The team told NBC Sports it will not appeal the penalty.

Trip Bruce III, crew chief on Stewart Friesen‘s No. 52 Chevrolet, was fined $2,500 for one unsecured lug nut.

Other

NASCAR issued an indefinite suspension to Jeffrey Schmidt for violating its substance abuse policy.

Truck Series gets minor name change for 2020

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Four days after the end of the Gander Outdoors Truck Series season, NASCAR announced the series will receive a minor name change for the 2020 season.

The series will be called the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series when the season starts in February at Daytona International Speedway.

This is the second name change for the series in two years.

This season saw the name change from the Camping World Truck Series, which had been the title from 2009-2018.

Gander Outdoors and Camping World are owned by the same company.

Next year will also see a different name for the Cup Series. With the series going to a new sponsorship model, it will simply be called the NASCAR Cup Series.