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NASCAR hints that pit crew suspensions could be for particular series only

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A NASCAR executive hinted Monday that members of Kyle Busch’s Camping World Truck pit crew will be suspended after a tire came off Busch’s vehicle last weekend at Atlanta but that the suspensions likely won’t carry over to other series.

That is an important distinction because members of Busch’s crew work as a pit crew in other series.

Busch’s chances for winning the Truck race ended on a stop late in Saturday’s race. The team intended to change all four tires but had trouble with the right front tire. Once it was secured, Busch exited the pit stall but left rear lug nuts already had been removed. Shortly after exiting pit road, the left rear tire came off.

The Camping World Truck Series Rule Book states that “any loss or separation of an improperly installed tire(s)/wheel(s) from the vehicle after exiting the team’s assigned pit box will result in a three-race suspension of the crew chief, tire changer of the lost wheel and the jack man.’’

That would mean a three-race suspension for crew chief Marcus Richmond, rear tire changer Coleman Dollarhide and jack man Ernie Pierce.

Dollarhide also is a rear tire changer on Cole Custer’s Xfinity team and Kurt Busch’s Cup team, according to team rosters. Pierce is a jack man for Clint Bowyer’s Cup team.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, discussed the issue Monday on“The Morning Drive” and how NASCAR could react this week. 

“The rule is clear in terms of the suspension that occurs,’’ O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “That is one of our major safety violations that we have in the rulebook and it’s really understood by the competitors.

“Where we took a look at that is around the rosters and the roster limitations we have on all three series. In the past, that’s been something that we’ve had that if you were suspended for that violation it carried across all three of our national series.

“I think that’s really the discussion, not so much will they be penalized — they will — it’s should it just apply to the Camping World Truck Series. I think that’s where we’re leaning but (series officials) wanted to take the time to get through the weekend and have that dialogue internally.

“We want to be as fair as we can. We want the penalty obviously to have some teeth into it. We think it does in terms of the suspension. We want to make sure it possibly just applies to that series and who is working on that race.’’

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Kurt Busch fastest in final Cup practice at Sonoma

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Kurt Busch posted the fastest single lap in the final practice for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Sonoma Raceway with a speed of 94.061 mph.

He beat second-place Denny Hamlin (94.012 mph) by .040 seconds.

Martin Truex Jr. (93.718) had the third fastest lap, but the team will have some work to do before Saturday’s qualification. With nine minutes remaining on the clock, he ran into the back of Bubba Wallace in the esses and did significant damage to his nose. Wallace landed 34th on the chart with a speed of 91.641 mph.

Jamie McMurray (93.549) and Kevin Harvick (93.441) rounded out the top five.

Harvick (91.468) had the quickest 10-lap average – leading a sweep of the top three by Stewart Haas Racing. Busch was second quickest at 91.452 mph with Clint Bowyer third quick at 91.443 mph.

William Byron broke an axle seal in final practice, but the team was able to get him back on track with 24 minutes remaining in the session. His speed of 92.279 mph was 25th fastest.

Click here for the full report from final practice.

Friday Truck Series practice report from Gateway

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Second practice

Last week’s winner, Brett Moffitt topped the speed chart in Friday evening’s practice session for the Eaton 200 with a speed of 137.191 mph.

He beat second-place Myatt Snider (136.658 mph) by .128 seconds.

Johnny Sauter (136.608), Riley Herbst (136.355), and Ben Rhodes (136.219) round out the top five.

Herbst is making his Truck Series debut this week.

Also making his Truck debut is Zane Smith, who posted a lap of 136.120 mph to land sixth on the chart.

Christian Eckes (135.906) failed to back up his series-leading speed from the first practice session and was only ninth fastest, but he had the quickest 10-lap average of 135.039 mph.

Click here for complete results from practice 2.

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, Eckes posted the fastest single lap in the first practice session with a speed of 134.360 mph. He is making his Truck series debut this week.

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

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

Rhodes had the quickest 10-lap average of 133.466 mph.

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

Click here for complete results from practice one.

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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