Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Kevin Harvick makes plea for greater involvement in grassroots racing

1 Comment

Kevin Harvick wasn’t only passionate about proving the haters wrong by winning Sunday’s race at ISM Raceway. After his victory, he turned his feelings toward the need to boost grassroots racing.

Harvick will compete in the K&N West Pro Series opener Thursday at Kern County Raceway Park (the race will be broadcast at 11 p.m. ET on March 20 on NBCSN), and expressed the need for more to be done with grassroots racing, echoing a plea Kyle Larson made last year.

Larson triggered the conversation last March on short track racing when he said NASCAR should encourage drivers to race at tracks in lower series because “I feel like we’ve lost touch with our grassroots race fans.’’

Harvick carried that conversation forward last May when he said the Camping World Truck Series was racing at the wrong tracks. He said the series needed to run at “grassroots race tracks” instead of the bigger tracks.

Harvick, who is from Bakersfield, California, is racing at the local track before the Cup series competes at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, this weekend.

“I would love to build the K&N West Series back to what it needs to be, that enthusiasm, get to the right racetracks, help those kids,’’ Harvick said after Sunday’s Cup win, his third in a row in the series. “For me it was an eye‑opener last year when I went to Sonoma and saw the impact that running that race had on the competitors, the series.’’

Harvick won that K&N Pro Series West race, holding off Will Rodgers, a 22-year old in his first full-time season in that series last year.

“The fans will sometimes say, You’re cherry picking,’’ Harvick said of racing in a lower series. “I would tell you, nobody would know who Will Rodgers is unless it was for us running that race, having him on the radio show, bringing him to the pit box the next day, these guys take him in. If we can shed some light on those particular series, really build them back to where they need to be.’’

Harvick took exception with ISM Raceway no longer hosting the K&N Pro Series West. The series last raced there in 2015.

“One of the best things that happened for racing, it’s not just about NASCAR, was when we had the Copper Classic here,’’ Harvick said of the track outside Phoenix, Arizona. “We had midgets, sprint cars. Didn’t matter how many people sat in the grandstands. As competitors, those guys, this was their Daytona. 

“It’s kicking those guys low on the K&N West Series that they don’t get to come and race at this particular racetrack because of the fact there’s a little bit of a pissing contest between a budget, what is right, what is wrong from a sanctioning fee side on Trucks and Xfinity. So they cut the K&N guys out. Cutting the grassroots side of things out is not the right way to do things.’’

 and on Facebook

Denny Hamlin offers advice on how to deal with critics on social media

Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

 and on Facebook

Clint Bowyer leads opening Cup practice at Sonoma

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

 and on Facebook

Kyle Larson: ‘I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love NASCAR racing’

Leave a comment

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).

 and on Facebook

 

Four Cup cars to be docked practice time at Sonoma

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

 and on Facebook