Coming off Stewart-Haas Racing’s first race where it placed all four cars in the top 10 is just another example of how Tony Stewart’s legacy continues to grow, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said on Monday’s NASCAR America.
Kevin Harvick scored his third consecutive victory of the season and was followed by teammates Clint Bowyer (sixth), Aric Almirola (seventh) and Kurt Busch (10th and a stage win).
Earnhardt, making his debut on NASCAR America, said the accomplishment should not be overlooked.
“I think about what he’s meant to the sport as a driver and now what he’s doing to his own legacy as an owner, it’s incredible,’’ Earnhardt said of Stewart. “Steve (Letarte) knows how hard it is to be competitive in this sport.
“It is so hard to get one of the four cars in the top five much less all of them in the top 10. It’s just really incredible what he’s been able to do. He’s put in a lot of hard work.
“I think you’ve got to go back and give Kevin some of the credit for how good those teams are. I’ve had Kevin to come work at JR. Motorsports and be a part of our program. I know what he does as a driver for an entire organization. He’s so smart outside of the car as far as what he needs from crew chiefs and engineers. He does so much outside of the race car that people don’t know about. Tony knows this, and Tony is really enjoying that. He’s finally got all four teams really sort of clicking along.’’
Letarte notes that while SHR has found a way to fund four teams in the past it hasn’t had the success of all four teams.
“Now is the only time I can remember where they have the competition of the four cars to back it up,’’ Letarte said. “Four cars are only valuable if you sit in a debrief after practice and four drivers can give you valid opinions that you trust and believe in.’’
Jeff Burton said those teammates are “so important.’’
“It’s so important for everyone to know they can help each other,’’ Burton said.
See more of their discussion in the video above.
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 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‘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 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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