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Kyle Busch has dominated in return trips to tracks this season

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You may have forgotten due to the post-race mayhem Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, but Kyle Busch won his fifth race of the season and third of the playoffs.

A last-lap pass of teammate Denny Hamlin allowed Busch to beat Martin Truex Jr. in an overtime finish.

Busch clinched the win after leading 183 laps early. Multiple late-race cautions allowed him to challenge for the victory.

This season Busch has benefited from visiting tracks a second time. All five of his Cup victories have come in the second visit to a track, beginning with his July 30 win at Pocono Raceway.

The victory was significant because it ended the longest winless streak of Busch’s career at 36 races.

Beginning with the July race at Daytona International Speedway, 13 of the final 20 races are return visits to tracks.

Martinsville marked the 11th return trip to a track since Daytona. Busch won at Pocono, Bristol, New Hampshire, Dover and Martinsville.

The other six return visits to tracks were won by Martin Truex Jr. (two), Kyle Larson (two), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (one) and Brad Keselowski (one).

Busch has three tops 10s in those six races.

Last season, all four of Busch’s wins came in his first trip to a track or a lone visit (Indianapolis).

Busch, who advanced to the championship race with his Martinsville victory, goes to Texas Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile track that underwent a repave and a reconfiguration in Turns 1 and 2 in the offseason.

The banking in Turns 1-2 was lowered from 24 to 20 degrees and the racing surface width was expanded from 60 to 80 feet in those turns.

Busch finished 15th in the April race after starting 34th.

“We struggled there in the spring, but I have heard the track has changed color a bit, so maybe the summer wore down the surface just a bit,” Busch said in a media release. “Right out of the gate, going there, we’ll still be trying to put rubber down.”

Busch had two Texas wins prior to the reconfiguration, coming in the spring races in 2013 and 2016. His last win on a 1.5-mile track was in May 2016 at Kansas Speedway.

“Texas is a really fast mile-and-a-half racetrack,” Busch said. “Charlotte has been fast the last few years and Texas has always kind of been that way. You’ve got to be able to move around a little bit and run the middle, run the top and show some ability to go all over the racetrack, so getting back to doing that soon would be great. Hoping that the track has worn in a bit more since the spring, and I’m curious to see how it’s going to be this weekend.”

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

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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).

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Four Cup cars to be docked practice time at Sonoma

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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.

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