Chase Elliott: ‘I’m still pretty frustrated’ about being wrecked at Martinsville

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Chase Elliott admits he is “still pretty frustrated” about Denny Hamlin wrecking him for the lead in the final laps at Martinsville, but says he and his team can’t be consumed by it this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

After seeing his chance to win end against the wall at Martinsville, Elliott’s 27th-place finish leaves him last among the eight playoff drivers heading into Sunday’s race.

“As far as last week goes, I don’t know that my thoughts are a whole lot different today than they were then,’’ Elliott said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. “I’m still pretty frustrated about it. Really, as the week has gone along, it’s given me a lot of time to think about how close we were to going to Homestead. I think with anything else, that will drive you up the wall more as you think about it. Definitely not happy about it. I don’t think a whole lot has changed.

“No, I’m not going to answer you all’s questions whether I’m going to get him back or not, so don’t even ask because you’re not going to hear it from me. Just don’t go there. I don’t think my mindset has changed a whole lot from that standpoint. This is a point in this round where we’re going to have to perform these next two weeks to have a chance now at Homestead.’’

Hamlin stated after the race it was not his intent to wreck Elliott and apologized on social media shortly after the race. Hamlin said this week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he has offered to have a conversation with Elliott but that had not been answered

With two races left to determine the four drivers to race for the championship in two weeks in Miami, Elliott says he doesn’t have  time to worry about Hamlin.

“I’m not overwhelming myself with him or any other driver in particular as the weekend goes along,’’ Elliott said. “I don’t think you can do that and look yourself in the eyes and think you have a fair shot if you have that mindset coming into a weekend.

“We’re going to go about our business as we always do and hope we make the right guesses and I make the right judgement calls and (crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) and the team makes the right calls throughout the weekend to have a  chance to win.’’

About the fan reaction last weekend at Martinsville where the crowd booed Hamlin and cheered Elliott loudly, Elliott said: “I wasn’t expecting to have that or hear that or see it throughout the week. I don’t know if refreshing is the right word, but it’s been pretty encouraging to see that kind of support regardless of the circumstance. To see people encouraging you and wanting you to go and try to win this weekend. To me, that’s been kind of the message from a lot of fans, hey, the best thing you can do for the fans that supported you is to try to go and win one of these next two weekends and give yourself a shot at Homestead. I’m looking forward to giving that my best shot.’’

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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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