Joey Logano guided to Talladega win by Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s former spotter

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The end of Sunday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway was like past races at the 2.66-mile track in one aspect.

The final 42 laps featured a car being watched over by spotter TJ Majors fend off the field on the way to victory lane.

But the car wasn’t driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. It was the No. 22 Ford of Joey Logano that benefited from Majors’ eagle eye.

“Our spotter, TJ Majors, is a great addition to our race team as far as speedway racing,” Logano said. “He’s the best as they come.”

Majors joined Team Penske after Earnhardt’s retirement from Cup competition after last season. Majors spotted for Earnhardt during his entire tenure with Hendrick Motorsports from 2008-2017.

During that time, Earnhardt earned one win and five top fives at Talladega and two wins and six top fives in point races at Daytona.

“Thanks to Dale for retiring so I could get him,” Logano said. “When Junior retired, (Majors) gave me his word that he’d give me first look at it. We weren’t going to give him the option to go somewhere else.

“It was fun over the offseason to watch film together. For him to teach me things about the draft, kind of share his notebook with my notebook, teach each other what we’re thinking in certain scenarios, what we should do. Then to see all that come to play, you know, over Speedweeks, really obviously here today, to see all that is very exciting in what the future can bring.”

Logano finished fourth in the Daytona 500, his plate racing debut with Majors after several seasons with spotter Tab Boyd.

Crew chief Todd Gordon described the pair’s instant rapport as “flawless” and said Majors had helped Logano improve on superspeedways.

“I guess I would put the spotter and driver combination as a marriage,” Gordon said. “You can have two wonderful people, and you got to find the perfect fit. Tab did a phenomenal job for us. I think he continues to do a really good job for (William Byron, where he is now).

“But the opportunity at speedway races, I think TJ has done a phenomenal job with Dale Jr. in the past several years. He’s seen a lot. There’s a lot of communication that the spotter can see that we can’t. The driver can see the bumper of the car ahead of him. The crew chief can see what happens in the frontstretch. But the spotter sees everything. I think TJ has been a great asset.” 

Majors previously had spotted a Cup victory at Talladega on May 3, 2015 when Earnhardt scored the last of six wins at the track.

Earnhardt, now an analyst for NBC Sports, gave Majors a shoutout after the race.

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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