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Xfinity, Team USA on Matt Kenseth’s car at Texas Motor Speedway

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Matt Kenseth will have a special Xfinity, Team USA paint scheme this weekend in the Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

In collaboration between Comcast and the United States Olympic Committee, the paint scheme’s appearance on track at Texas comes as the 100-day countdown begins for the 2018 Winter Olympics in‎ Pyeongchang‎, South Korea.

The games will open Feb. 9. and close Feb. 25 and will air on the NBC family of networks.

There are three races left for Kenseth in his tenure with Joe Gibbs racing and possibly his Cup career.

The 45-year-old driver is still looking for his first win of the year. He has not visited victory lane since a 2016 playoff race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Kenseth also will be seeking his third Cup win at Texas. He earned his first two in 2002 and 2011.

In the April race, the No. 20 Toyota started eighth and finished 16th. Kenseth hasn’t earned a top five at Texas since the fall 2013 race.

“Looking back to our first race at Texas this year, it seems like the first race after a repave is always the most difficult race because you have so many notes that all of a sudden don’t apply anymore,” crew chief Jason Ratcliff said in a press release. “You definitely learn a lot and start with a clean slate the first time you have a race weekend on fresh pavement. For us, I think that we’ll be a lot better this time around since we didn’t have the results we wanted at Texas back in April, but we learned a lot that race weekend. … Turns 1 and 2 are so much flatter now than it is in Turns 3 and 4, so before the track was somewhat symmetrical in both ends, but now, it’s not at all.”

Kenseth’s best finish on a 1.5-mile track this season is third at Atlanta. He finished fourth in the Coke 600.

Kenseth was eliminated from the playoffs after the second round. He was ruled out of the elimination race at Kansas for his team sending too many crew members over the wall to repair his car.

Since the playoffs began, his best result is third at New Hampshire in the opening round.

Truck Series practice report from Gateway Motorsports Park

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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, Christian Eckes posted the fastest single lap in the first practice session with a speed of 134.360 mph.

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

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

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

 

 

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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