NASCAR America: Jeff Burton supports Todd Gordon’s pit call (video)

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Todd Gordon said he made a mistake in not bringing Joey Logano and his severe tire rub onto pit road late in Sunday’s race at Martinsville.

But on Tuesday’s NASCAR America on NBCSN, analyst Jeff Burton didn’t look at Gordon’s strategy as a mistake at all.

Burton said Gordon should be applauded for trying to get his driver a much-needed win — although it admittedly may have hurt teammate Brad Keselowski‘s bid for a win.

Burton pushed back against fans and others criticizing Gordon, saying:

“His decision was based on what was best for the 22 car. … They didn’t race each other that we needed to get the 2 in the playoffs, they raced each other as if we need the 22 car to win. Thank God for that, and thank Todd Gordon and Joey Logano to do things as a race team to do things for their own self. I applaud that. Could he have made a better decision for Penske? Of course he could. … They want to win races and contend for championships and put themselves in position.

“With the year they’ve had and all the disappointment, they had a win in right in front of them, and clearly with the tire rub, they weren’t going to make it. … But Todd Gordon had to go from ‘I have a chance to win this race’ to ‘my day is over’ and do it that quick and think about the 2 car. I think it is unreasonable to think he could make that decision that quick. Could he have done it? Yes. But the fact he didn’t do it, I’m fine with it.

“I understand the disappointment and the people on the 2 car … but he has to race for him, his sponsor, his crew members. Everybody needs to get off Todd Gordon. … What’s in the best interests of the fans? (Multi-car teams) operate together Monday through Saturday, but on Sunday, they operate as individual teams because you pay to go watch your driver, mash that throttle, to give 100 percent and that team give 100 percent and that’s what NASCAR races should be about. That’s my opinion.

“I know some people disagree and that’s fine. But I want each individual team digging for what they can get because that’s what the people pay to watch.”

Check out all of what Burton said in the video above.

 

Daniel Hemric fastest in final practice; Kevin Harvick second

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Daniel Hemric turned the fastest lap Friday in the final Cup practice at Kansas Speedway, turning a 177.830 mph lap in his No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.

Kevin Harvick was second followed by Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski (who paced the first practice) and Ryan Blaney.

Hemric has yet to announce a ride for 2020 after RCR announced last month that the rookie would be replaced by Tyler Reddick next season.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez and Aric Almirola rounded out the top 10.

Here are the rankings speeds of the other playoff drivers: Denny Hamlin 12th; Alex Bowman 15th; Joey Logano 16th; Clint Bowyer 19th; Chase Elliott 20th; and William Byron 22nd.

Click here to see where things stand in the playoffs standings entering Sunday’s second-round cutoff race at Kansas.

Click here for speeds from the final practice at Kansas.

Click here for the speeds during the first Cup practice of the weekend at Kansas.

Ryan Preece praises team for its work after hauler fire

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Ryan Preece praised his team for converting teammate Chris Buescher’s backup car into Preece’s primary car Friday after the hauler carrying Preece’s cars and equipment caught fire this week en route to Kansas Speedway.

“I know some of the guys haven’t had much sleep, very proud of them,” Preece said.

The team’s hauler pulled over near New Columbia, Illinois, on Thursday after a fire in the rear axle area that spread to the hauler. A team spokesperson told NBC Sports that crew chief Eddie Pardue and a couple of team members flew there to take what could be salvaged before driving to Kansas City.

The team spokesperson said that the lockers and uniforms in the hauler were heavily damaged. Both cars had damage with the backup car suffering smoke damage.

NASCAR allowed JTG Daugherty Racing to enter the garage at 8 a.m. ET Friday — five hours before the garage was scheduled to open — and allowed members from both JTG Daugherty teams to work on the car. Preece said he was there with the team when it arrived and worked on the interior as the crew converted the car.

“We’re in it as a team,” Preece said. “I wasn’t going to show up later in the afternoon. I wanted them to know that I was right there with them. I wanted to help in every way I could.”

Preece said his car was loose in the first practice session Friday at Kansas Speedway. He was 32nd on the speed chart in that session, making it on track about 10 minutes after practice began.

Brad Keselowski fastest in first practice at Kansas; Kyle Busch makes big save

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Brad Keselowski turned the fastest lap with a minute remaining in Friday afternoon’s first Cup practice at Kansas Speedway.

The 176.499-mph lap by the No. 2 Ford of Team Penske nipped a 176.389 mph lap by the No. 10 Ford of Aric Almirola.

Daniel Suarez was third, followed by Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney. Kurt Busch, Paul Menard, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick and Daniel Hemric rounded out the top 10.

Here’s how other playoff drivers fared during the practice:

Kyle Larson 11th; Joey Logano 13th; Clint Bowyer 15th; William Byron 20th; Alex Bowman 21st; Kyle Busch (who had an impressive save; video below) 22nd; Chase Elliott 23rd.

Click here to see where things stand in the playoffs standings entering Sunday’s second-round cutoff race at Kansas.

Click here for the speeds during the first Cup practice of the weekend at Kansas.

Gray Gaulding out Friday after suspected allergic reaction

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Stewart-Haas Racing plane made an unscheduled stop in St. Louis on Friday after Gray Gaulding had a suspected allergic reaction.

SS Green Light Racing confirmed Gaulding had an issue en route to Kansas City. A Stewart-Haas Racing spokesperson confirmed that its plane made the unscheduled stop, and that emergency personnel came on board after the plane landed. Gaulding remained in St. Louis while the plane continued to Kansas City.

SS Green Light Racing stated that after arriving at the track, Gaulding went to the infield care center and was not cleared to drive Friday. Gaulding will be re-evaluated Saturday. J.J. Yeley drove the car for Gaulding in practice Friday.