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Kyle Busch docked 15 minutes of practice at Richmond

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Kyle Busch, who has won the past two Cup races, will miss 15 minutes of practice Friday. He is being penalized because his car failed inspection twice before last weekend’s race at Bristol, NASCAR announced.

Busch is the only driver who will be forced to miss any Cup practice Friday at Richmond Raceway.

Cup practice goes from 11:05 – 11:55 a.m. ET

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Martin Truex Jr. leads Cup practice

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Martin Truex Jr. posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Cup practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Truex, who is going for back-to-back Cup titles, had a top lap of 173.997 mph.

“Nice drama-free day,” Truex told NBCSN. “We got through inspection and were first car on the track.”

Title contender Kyle Busch was next with a lap of 173.299 mph.

“We made some changes and got some response out of those changes … that’s a positive,” Kyle Busch told NBCSN.

Truex and Busch were followed by Clint Bowyer (172.977 mph), Chase Elliott (172.900) and title contender Kevin Harvick (172.828).

Joey Logano was the only title contender not in the top five. His top lap of 172.194 mph put him 16th on the speed chart.

There were no incidents during the session.

Cup qualifying will begin at 6:10 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

 

 

 

 

Social media reacts to Jimmie Johnson’s clean-shaven look

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. – To commemorate his final race with sponsor Lowe’s and final race with Chad Knaus as crew chief, seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson went back to 2002 with his look.

His No. 48 Chevrolet features a throwback look to his rookie season. His uniform harkens to that time.

Johnson also shaved his beard for the weekend, going back to his look when he made his Cup debut Oct. 7, 2001 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Johnson began having a beard regularly at the start of the 2009 season. He had previously grown one during the offseason but would go back to the clean look before the season began. Johnson was a part of the inaugural Gillette Young Guns ads in 2004 that also included Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman.

Friday, Johnson took fans back in time.

Social media had much to say about Johnson’s new look at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

A third of Furniture Row Racing’s employees still seeking employment

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Heading into its final race, roughly a third of Furniture Row Racing’s 63 employees will remain looking for work after the championship team’s closure.

During a news conference Friday morning at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Furniture Row Racing president Joe Garone said “it’s been brutal at the end here” for the Denver, Colorado-based team.

“You can imagine how sick you feel when you see it coming to a close,” Garone said. “You deal with those emotions and look at what life’s next great adventure is going to be, and I think that’s where we’re at, but we want to close this out on top first if we can beat these guys.”

MORE: Truex won’t shy from retribution against Joey Logano

MORE: Tearful sendoff for Furniture Row Racing’s trip to final race

Martin Truex Jr. will race for a second consecutive championship in Sunday’s season finale, driving a No. 78 Toyota sporting a flat black paint scheme that honors its origins as being sponsored solely by team owner Barney Visser’s furniture companies. Started in 2005, Furniture Row Racing scored its first victory in 2011, made the playoffs in 2013 and then reached the Championship 4 in 2015 with Truex, who won his first Cup title last year.

The success led to external sponsorship for the team over the past few years, but it effectively led to its demise, too, as the loss of a primary sponsor in July led Visser to make the decision to shut down.

Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn will be joining Joe Gibbs Racing next season with some team members, and others have found jobs with other teams or within Visser’s business portfolio.

“Our last count, we’re about 22 from everybody having jobs,” Garone said. “Barney has a lot of companies, and there was a lot of positions that were open, and a lot of the guys filled those positions.  And these are championship-caliber guys.  They’ve been being entertained by a lot of teams.  They’re good guys to have on your team for sure.”

Garone, a longtime team executive who also has worked as a crew chief and NASCAR official, is uncertain of his future but is exploring the possibility of starting an offshore powerboat team.

“My heart wants to certainly stay with Barney; he’s just unbelievable and just a crazy player,” he said. “I love him, and I want to stay with him.  On the other side, I need to race.  It’s in my blood and DNA, and I’m looking all over even in different series, and hopefully in the next month, I’ll be able to announce something that will lead me down a different path.”

In the short term, he will be focused on liquidating what’s left of the team’s assets, the majority of which will be sold.

The shop is going to stay intact at the moment,” Garone said. “Barney is funny. At one moment, he wants to keep it like in a showroom condition with as many cars as we can keep so people can still come see and remember the history. And at other times he wants to change it into a different manufacturing plant.

“So I’m not exactly sure what our future is, but he has a real heart for this and wants to preserve for as long as he can, possibly for years with his kids, this moment in history that he’s gone through.”

One Cup, six Xfinity teams docked practice time Friday

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Chase Elliott is the only Cup driver who will be penalized practice time Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, while six Xfinity teams, including one title contender will miss practice time.

Elliott will miss 15 minutes for being late to inspection last weekend at Phoenix. Cup practice is from 1 – 2:20 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Xfinity title contender Christopher Bell will miss 30 minutes of opening practice for failing inspection three times last week at Phoenix. The cars of Josh Bilicki and Chase Briscoe also will miss 30 minutes for the same infraction.

David Starr will be docked 15 minutes of practice for being late to inspection last week at Phoenix. The cars of Vinnie Miller and Stephen Leicht will miss 15 minutes for failing inspection twice.

Opening Xfinity practice is from 2:35 – 3:25 p.m. ET on NBCSN.