NASCAR officials will review multiple issues after ‘rough night’ at Richmond (video)

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Calling it a “rough night’’ Saturday for NASCAR officials in the control tower at Richmond Raceway, Steve O’Donnell said the sanctioning body would review how it handled multiple cautions to avoid repeating such mistakes in the playoffs.

O’Donnell, executive vice president and chief racing development officer for NASCAR, made his comments Monday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

O’Donnell called the second caution in Saturday’s Cup race — the cause officially listed as smoke after Matt Kenseth braked hard — “a quick trigger, it was a mistake.’’

O’Donnell said the ambulance that parked at the commitment line to pit road was told as early as the backstretch to stop and didn’t heed multiple orders to do so

O’Donnell said he has been in touch with Martin Truex Jr., who was upset about the final caution that sent the race into overtime. Truex was on his way to winning before the caution and crashed in overtime. “He’s obviously upset, and I think that’s fair.’’

O’Donnell said series officials would examine each incident.

The issue with the ambulance could have impacted who made the playoffs. Kenseth ran into the back of Clint Bowyer‘s car as drivers slowed with the ambulance blocking a lane to pit road. Had a driver not yet in the playoffs won Richmond to qualify, they would have knocked Kenseth out of the postseason.

“We had a rough night ourselves in race control and that certainly put a damper on the night for us, and I think, luckily, we were able to see the same 16 guys on the Monster Energy Series make it through, but tough night for the guys up in race control,’’ O’Donnell said. “I think if you’re a race team you talk about wanting to put that behind you and move on to Chicago, and we’re certainly going to meet and make sure we put our best effort forward heading into Chicago.’’

O’Donnell was asked why the ambulance was dispatched for an incident between Austin Dillon and Danica Patrick even though both cars continued.

“Anytime there is an incident and a vehicle stops, we’ll dispatch our chase vehicle, an ambulance and usually a tow truck,’’ O’Donnell said. “In this case, all three of those are dispatched and then if a vehicle ends up rolling off, there’s communication to each one of those individually.

“I think in this case, I want to say the safety truck was a little ahead of the field, and so we asked them to kind of stand on the gas, get ahead of the field. We asked the tow truck and ambulance to stop and that probably would have been about midway through the backstretch. Tow truck did.

“Unfortunately, there were multiple communications with the ambulance and it just didn’t happen. It stopped at a really bad place. Ultimately, that is on us. We have a lot of folks who work hard at the race track, but we’ve got to do a better job of communicating. If we go back and look at it, could we have thrown the red light on the pits (to close pit road) or would that even have been worse with cars coming down, that’s something we’ve got to look at.’’

O’Donnell said officials will work to ensure that they’re not as big a factor in the next 10 weeks when championships will be decided in NASCAR’s top three national series.

“We don’t want to be a part of the story, as we’ve always said and I said Saturday before the drivers meeting,’’ O’Donnell said. “We’ve got a great group of drivers out there battling hard and got a great group in the playoffs, and we want it to be about those guys.’’

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Kurt Busch fastest in final Cup practice at Sonoma

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Kurt Busch posted the fastest single lap in the final practice for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Sonoma Raceway with a speed of 94.061 mph.

He beat second-place Denny Hamlin (94.012 mph) by .040 seconds.

Martin Truex Jr. (93.718) had the third fastest lap, but the team will have some work to do before Saturday’s qualification. With nine minutes remaining on the clock, he ran into the back of Bubba Wallace in the esses and did significant damage to his nose. Wallace landed 34th on the chart with a speed of 91.641 mph.

Jamie McMurray (93.549) and Kevin Harvick (93.441) rounded out the top five.

Harvick (91.468) had the quickest 10-lap average – leading a sweep of the top three by Stewart Haas Racing. Busch was second quickest at 91.452 mph with Clint Bowyer third quick at 91.443 mph.

William Byron broke an axle seal in final practice, but the team was able to get him back on track with 24 minutes remaining in the session. His speed of 92.279 mph was 25th fastest.

Click here for the full report from final practice.

Friday Truck Series practice report from Gateway

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Second practice

Last week’s winner, Brett Moffitt topped the speed chart in Friday evening’s practice session for the Eaton 200 with a speed of 137.191 mph.

He beat second-place Myatt Snider (136.658 mph) by .128 seconds.

Johnny Sauter (136.608), Riley Herbst (136.355), and Ben Rhodes (136.219) round out the top five.

Herbst is making his Truck Series debut this week.

Also making his Truck debut is Zane Smith, who posted a lap of 136.120 mph to land sixth on the chart.

Christian Eckes (135.906) failed to back up his series-leading speed from the first practice session and was only ninth fastest, but he had the quickest 10-lap average of 135.039 mph.

Click here for complete results from practice 2.

First practice

Rain canceled the practice session at Gateway that was scheduled to run from 3:35 – 4:25 p.m. Eastern time.

When they finally got on track, Eckes posted the fastest single lap in the first practice session with a speed of 134.360 mph. He is making his Truck series debut this week.

Eckes’ speed was .009 seconds faster than Noah Gragon (134.324), who landed second on the speed chart.

Rhodes (134.120), Moffitt (133.817) and Matt Crafton (133.706) rounded out the top five.

Rhodes had the quickest 10-lap average of 133.466 mph.

With the first practice canceled at Gateway, NASCAR added a final practice session scheduled for Noon – 1 p.m.

Click here for complete results from practice one.

Denny Hamlin offers advice on how to deal with critics on social media

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Denny Hamlin, who has been fined by NASCAR for comments on Twitter, and was vocal toward critics after this year’s Daytona 500, says he’s found peace on how to deal with those on social media who don’t agree with him.

“I’ve been very good this year about not replying to mean people, and you all should do the same,’’ Hamlin said Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

“I’m making a (request) right now to every driver, every team owner, every NASCAR executive and every media member, stop replying to people who make nonsense comments. They have 16 followers. Don’t give them your 100,000. Do not give them your 100,000 as their stage. No one will ever see their comment, just brush it by, talk about the positives and I’m not a positive person.”

Asked how does one ignore such divisive comments, Hamlin said: “You just scroll by it. Forget it. That person doesn’t exit. They’re an admirer that has lost their way.’’

Hamlin has been better at doing so since the Daytona 500. He faced negative reaction on social media to the contact he and Bubba Wallace had at the end of the Daytona 500.

They engaged in a brief shouting match in the garage area after Hamlin learned that Wallace had taken a dig at him on national TV about a recent comment about drivers using Adderall.

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Clint Bowyer leads opening Cup practice at Sonoma

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Clint Bowyer was the fastest in the first of two Cup practices Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

Bowyer, the winner of the most recent Cup race two weeks ago at Michigan, posted a lap of 93.590 mph. He was followed by Ryan Blaney (93.546 mph), Joey Logano (93.172), Jamie McMurray (93.049) and Daniel Suarez (92.746).

Sixth was Jimmie Johnson (92.661). He was followed by Michael McDowell (92.650), Martin Truex Jr. (92.614), AJ Allmendinger (92.596) and Ryan Newman (92.595).

Click here for full practice report

Final Cup practice will be from 5:40 – 6:55 p.m. ET. Qualifying will take place Saturday.

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