Ryan Blaney says hard racing with Kevin Harvick at Martinsville was ‘nothing personal’

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Ryan Blaney said his conversation with Kevin Harvick after last weekend’s race at Martinsville was a “stern talking to’’ but said he felt all was good between the playoff drivers.

Blaney and Harvick made contact throughout the Martinsville race and then had a discussion afterward on pit road.

“Obviously we weren’t happy with each other,’’ Blaney said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. “Both of us had our conversations and what we were upset about. I felt like we handled it fine. It was a stern talking to.

“I have a lot of respect for Kevin. He helped me a lot when I got started a couple of years ago. It is just Martinsville racing pretty much. We had a talk, and I think we are fine. I am sure we are over it. Those were just to reassure that we were good.”

MORE: Blaney posts fastest lap in Cup practice 

Blaney explained what bothered him about how Harvick raced him at Martinsville.

“The issue that I had was the first time he started running us over we were trying to pass somebody, and I can’t go anywhere when you are beating the bumper off me when I am trying to pass somebody,’’ Blaney said.

“After that, we were struggling and that is when it happened again. I think it was just two things, it is Martinsville and we are in the playoffs and I am not going to just let someone go, especially someone we are racing in the playoffs. In this round, there are so many good cars. I don’t think he was really pushing us around or being a bully or anything like that, it was just really hard racing. I have seen that plenty of times over the years at that place and watching on TV. It was nothing personal, just two drivers racing hard.”

Blaney finished eighth at Martinsville but is outside a transfer spot to the championship round in two weeks in Miami.

Texas, though, presents a strong chance for him to win and earn a spot in Miami or finish well enough to climb into a position to advance by points. He won both stages at this track in the spring. He finished 12th after sliding through his pit box on his final pit stop.

“I think we just need to have a solid weekend like we had in the spring race and try to finish it out better,’’ Blaney said. “We got behind there and slid through my box the last pit stop which put us back. We need to have a good, solid race.

“That is the best thing we can do. Cut down on mistakes like we have the whole playoffs. We haven’t had huge mistakes. We have been consistent and gotten good finishes. We are coming to a track that has been decent for us in the past and the 1.5-mile stuff has been really good for us. Hopefully we can have a solid weekend and a good run on Sunday and put ourselves in a decent spot going into Phoenix.”

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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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