Martin Truex Jr. takes the safe route to runner-up finish at Martinsville

Leave a comment

Martin Truex Jr. came close to earning a fourth win in this season’s first seven NASCAR Cup playoffs in Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

But when the checkered flag fell, Truex wound up with a runner-up finish — by about a car length — to race winner Kyle Busch, Truex’s 16th top-five finish of the season.

Truex counted himself lucky that he wasn’t involved in any of the late race issues like between Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott.

“It’s just Martinsville you know? Short-track racing,” he said.

But it was more than just close racing at Martinsville, Truex added.

“At the end everybody’s trying to get to Homestead – punch your ticket,” he said. “But you know, it was a really good day for our team.”

It was Truex’s best career finish at the .526-mile paper clip-shaped bullring. Prior to Sunday, his best finish at the southern Virginia track were a pair of fifth-place finishes.

“This has been a struggle for us, this place,” Truex said. “You know, to run second here is awesome. I think we had a fifth- or sixth-place car all day long.

“We couldn’t quite get better than that, but I’m really proud of that effort for everybody – for all our guys. So we fought hard all day, we didn’t give up and we had a shot at it there at the last lap. Got inside of Kyle (Busch), just couldn’t get the power down off of (turn) four.”

While Truex raced Busch clean, he wondered – especially after the Denny Hamlin-Chase Elliott wreck with three laps to go in regulation – if maybe he shouldn’t have been so much Mr. Nice Guy. But there’s always the chance that he could also wind up wrecking himself, so he demurred.

“I didn’t want to be the one to knock him out of the way for the win,” Truex said of Busch. “Maybe I should have, but I don’t know.

“Those guys kept knocking each other out of the way up there in the front, I’m not sure that’s the way to do it.”

Truex and the rest of the NASCAR Cup contingent move on to next Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Truex has to be considered one of the frontrunners in that race, as six of his seven wins this season have come on a 1.5-mile track just like TMS.

“You know, good day for us and we’ll go to Texas next week and see if we can’t continue our mile-and-half runs,” Truex said.

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

Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

 and on Facebook

Clint Bowyer leads opening Cup practice at Sonoma

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

 and on Facebook

Kyle Larson: ‘I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love NASCAR racing’

Leave a comment

Kyle Larson‘s comment on Twitter earlier this week that he would like to run full-time in the World of Outlaws sprint car series “before I’m 40” might have riled some fans, but Larson says it was not meant as anything bad toward NASCAR.

“I don’t know, I think maybe some people aren’t quite as open-minded, maybe,” the 26-year-old Larson said Friday at Sonoma Raceway. “It’s like they read it as if I said in two years from now I wanted to do it. I mean 15 years from now that would put me 20 years in Cup. So, that is a long time. 

“I think Jeff Gordon spent about that much time in the sport (Gordon raced in Cup 23 full-time seasons), but I don’t know, maybe I don’t do the best job in the world of talking about how much I love NASCAR as much as I do sprint cars, but I do. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love NASCAR racing.

“I enjoy sprint cars, and I feel like I talk about sprint cars a lot just to open people’s eyes to that style of racing because it’s a great form or racing and so is NASCAR. So, I don’t know, I just want fans to be fans of motorsports not just NASCAR and not just sprint cars. I would like to see everybody just enjoy all of racing and I think that is what I do. Maybe I don’t do a good job at it sometimes, but you know, I enjoy racing all types of vehicles. Most fans get it, but some fans aren’t quite open-minded enough.”

It was on the official World of Outlaws podcast in December where Larson expressed his desire to eventually transition to the World of Outlaws.

“NASCAR is where I wanted to make it, but I would have been perfectly fine if I didn’t make it either,” Larson said on that podcast in the offseason. “I’d probably be on the Outlaw (sprint car) tour probably right now, racing and loving life … I would say racing on the World of Outlaws tour full-time is my main goal.”

Larson just finished running five nights of Ohio Sprint Speedweek. He won two of those nights. Rain postponed a sixth event before the feature that Larson was to have run. Larson said he has the dirt track race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on his schedule. Indianapolis is building a quarter-mile dirt track inside Turn 3 to run during the NASCAR weekend there in September.

Larson is in his fifth full Cup season. He has five career series wins. Although winless this season, Larson has finished runner-up three times (Auto Club Speedway, Bristol and Pocono).

 and on Facebook

 

Four Cup cars to be docked practice time at Sonoma

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Four cars will miss time in today’s opening practice at Sonoma Raceway for violations, NASCAR announced Friday.

David Ragan will miss 30 minutes for failing inspection before the race at Michigan three times.

Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne each will be docked 15 minutes for failing inspection twice before the Michigan race.

Today’s opening Cup practice goes from 2:40 – 3:55 p.m. ET.

 and on Facebook