NASCAR addresses Denny Hamlin’s complaints on pit guns

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In the wake of Denny Hamlin’s pointed comments about pit guns, NASCAR senior executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said any that “any issues, we’ll get it fixed.” But he also expressed skepticism about snap judgments on the guns’ performance being made postrace by some drivers such as Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.

During his weekly visit to “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, O’Donnell said Tuesday there would be a previously scheduled meeting with team owners this week in which the guns likely would be discussed. Car owner Joe Gibbs alluded to the meeting after Kyle Busch’s victory Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“I think this is one of those topics we’ve always addressed, and to hit it head on on our part; it’s an initiative we continue to work on,” O’Donnell said. “We knew going in, the technology of the guns is not going to be what some of the teams were used to in the past. The hand speed (of pit crew members) is incredible. The talent is incredible.

“Somewhere in between lies the truth. … Any gun that malfunctions is not acceptable to us, but there are some occasions where someone may be moving a little too fast on a stop as well. That’ll be the dialogue that we discuss and really hearing from all the teams and what the feedback is. We’ve proven we’re going to get on that and work on that collectively and continue to improve on anything that might come up during a race.”

Both Hamlin and Harvick said the guns were faulty because they weren’t performing up to the air pressure and RPM standards that teams were accustomed to when they built their own guns prior to the 2018 season.

After consultation with the Team Owners Council, NASCAR mandated common pit guns that are issued randomly by manufacturer Paoli. The performance of the pit guns has been a significant storyline after at least three of seven races this season.

“Well, you look at the technology on the guns, the postrace reports, I’m frankly a little surprised that someone could come out after the race and talk about all the air pressures and everything when they have not diagnosed what may or may not have happened,” O’Donnell said. “So we do that. We work with our gun manufacturer to look through all those.

“When there is a gun failure, we absolutely will showcase it and admit it, but it’s also easy to say that the gun didn’t work. We understand that as well. Somewhere in there lies the truth. Any issues, we will get it fixed, but I’m also confident that we’re able to go out there and race and put on some great races as well. And not have that be the lead story going forward for sure.”

During an interview with NBCSports.com’s Dustin Long after Monday’s race, Hamlin said NASCAR should return to last year’s pit guns and suggested that Joe Gibbs Racing could supply pit guns to all teams.

Gibbs later downplayed that idea, though.

NASCAR America: Dramatic elimination races

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Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman enter the Hollywood Casino 400 below the cutoff line by significant amounts.

Keselowski is in the best shape with an 18-point disadvantage to Martin Truex Jr. who sits on the bubble. Considering that Truex has finished first or second in the last three Kansas races, it still is not an enviable position.

Each team outside of the Top 8 feels that it is in a must-win situation unless something catastrophic happens to the competition.

As NASCAR America detailed in Wednesday’s edition, it is not the first time a driver has had to pull out a last-minute victory to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

Keselowski was in this situation in 2014 at Talladega.

“I don’t want to talk about this one,” Steve Letarte said. “Because it was a must-win for me and Dale Jr. as well and he was in victory lane, which meant we were on the hauler eliminated.”

In the next round, Kevin Harvick was in a similar situation after suffering a couple of bad races early in Round 3. He dominated the field and won at Phoenix – and then went on to win the championship the next week in Homestead.

Harvick’s record at Phoenix made that win unsurprising, but the next year he found himself in trouble again entering Dover. Once more, he won and advance.

For more dramatic clutch wins in elimination races, watch the video above.

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Kansas preview, Kevin Meendering interview

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to preview this weekend’s races at Kansas Speedway.

Marty Snider hosts with Steve Letarte and Landon Cassill from Charlotte.

On today’s show:

  • We’ll react to the penalty handed down to Kyle Larson that makes advancing to the Round of 8 even more challenging.
  • As cut-down day approaches in the Round of 12 for the Cup Series, we’ll look back at drivers who kept their title hopes alive with victories in elimination races.
  • Dillon Welch talks to crew chief Kevin Meendering, who is set to become Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief in 2019.
  • Joey Logano may be racing for a championship, but one of his other main goals is a far more important one: helping the lives of others, especially children. We’ll look at the story behind the Joey Logano Foundation.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Bubba Wallace named to Ebony Power 100

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Bubba Wallace has been named to Ebony Magazine’s Ebony Power 100 for his accomplishments as a NASCAR Cup series driver.

Listed as an “MVP,” Wallace joins other athletes such as Antonio Brown, Stephen Curry and Venus Williams as well as former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama. 

The list was created to recognize leaders of color who have positively impacted their community.

“This is quite an honor to be recognized with others in the African-American community,” Wallace said in a press release. “It’s humbling to join a list of the other star athletes, artists and community and national leaders. I’m just trying to be the best driver that I can be and focus on winning races for Richard Petty Motorsports and our partners. To be recognized for some of our accomplishments this season is an honor and I’d like to thank Ebony for the recognition.”

Wallace gained the honor based on his on track performance early in the year, including a second-place finish in the Daytona 500 and a top-10 finish at Texas Motor Speedway.

His off-track accomplishments also played a role in the selection. Wallace has been a notable influencer on social media. Earlier this year, Facebook posted a “Behind the Wall: Bubba Wallace” docu-series that earned more than five million views.

“We are proud of what Bubba is doing both on and off the track for our race team and our partners,” said Brian Moffitt, CEO of Richard Petty Motorsports, in a press release. “We know that we have something very special with him and he continues to break barriers outside our sport to be a first-class athlete, spokesperson and inspiration to many.”

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K&N East champion to make Truck Series debut at Martinsville

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Tyler Ankrum, who won the NASCAR K&N East Pro Series title on Oct. 6, will make his Camping World Truck Series debut next weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Ankrum, 17, will drive for DGR-Crosley’s No. 54 truck. Ankrum drove for the team co-owned by David Gilliland in the K&N East series.

Driving the No. 17, Ankrum earned four wins and nine top fives and led the standings for the final 12 races of the season.

The native of San Bernadino, California, had an average finish of 4.8.

Next Saturday’s race will be Ankrum’s second at Martinsville. He competed in a Late Model Stock Car race there in 2014.

“Making my Truck Series debut at Martinsville is huge. So many big names in the sport have made their national series debut at Martinsville,” Ankrum said in a press release. “I’ve been dreaming of this day for so long now, I can’t believe it’s actually happening. It’s going to be really cool having (crew chief) Seth (Smith) and my K&N guys there with me.”