Bump & Run: Is Truex too nice? Was Logano’s move a cheap shot?

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Do you agree with Dale Earnhardt Jr. that Martin Truex Jr. is too nice on the track at times and that contributed to him not winning Sunday at Martinsville? Why or why not?

Nate Ryan: It’s easy to armchair quarterback that Truex should have made a preemptive strike by roughing up Joey Logano earlier. But as discussed Monday on NASCAR America and written about here, that’s just not his style. Yes, his nature probably has cost him some wins, but it’s hard to criticize him for being a good guy with a principled way of racing.

Dustin Long: Yes. He’s winless in 78 Cup races on short tracks and winless in 55 Cup races at restrictor-plate tracks — places where being nice isn’t always a good thing.

Daniel McFadin: I don’t think so. Truex’s proven his style of racing works by winning 17 races in the last four years. Aside from some harmless door banging in the final five laps, Truex got by Logano his way and put himself in the lead after he started the race from the rear. Unfortunately for Truex, he wasn’t ready for Logano to get by him in his way.

Dan Beaver: Yes: Given the current state of short track racing, his approach is not going to be very successful.

Martin Truex Jr. said Joey Logano’s move on the last lap was a cheap shot. What do you think?

Nate Ryan: It might not have been classified as dirty, but it also fell short of being elegant (which was to be expected given the last-chance circumstances).

Dustin Long: That’s racing, particularly on a short track. Truex may call it a cheap shot but NASCAR deemed it a legal move. Case closed.

Daniel McFadin: It was the last lap. Winner is part of the championship four. Truex wasn’t wrecked. Nothing cheap about it.

Dan Beaver: Logano’s move was right on the edge. His bump-and-run was not as severe as it appeared, but Truex got onto the throttle a little too aggressively in the dirty outside lane. Without his fishtail, the two drivers would likely have crossed under the checkers in a photo finish.

What was the best quote you heard after Sunday’s race?

Nate Ryan: Hard to argue with Dale Earnhardt Jr. that Martin Truex Jr.’s postrace interview was a top-five contender, but the answer is his crew chief’s lighthearted dig about baseball bats and jack hammers. If Cole Pearn is an option for “who had the best quote or tweet?”, the default  answer is always Cole Pearn.

Dustin Long: Kevin Harvick on trying to pass Ryan Newman late in the race: “His car gets as wide as his neck sometimes.”

Daniel McFadin: “He’s a racer and should know better than to say that. That was as clean a shot as you can have in a race like this.” – Roger Penske on Martin Truex Jr.’s “cheap shot” comment.

Dan Beaver: Martin Truex Jr.’s “They won the battle, but he didn’t win the damn war.”

Do you think the Big 3 all make it to Miami now?

Nate Ryan: Yes.

Dustin Long: Yes. It will be the Big 3 and Joey Logano racing for the championship in Miami.

Daniel McFadin: I don’t have enough conviction in me to say yes. I think Martin Truex Jr. is going to trip over himself at either Texas or Phoenix. 

Dan Beaver: I didn’t think they were all going to make it in week one of the playoffs and my opinion hasn’t changed. I think one of the others win the next two races and either Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick stand alone among the Big 3.

Jay Fabian named Cup Series Managing Director

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NASCAR announced it has named Jay Fabian as the Cup Series managing director, replacing Richard Buck.

NASCAR confirmed Buck is no longer with the company, which underwent significant layoffs last week. Buck had served as the managing director of the Cup Series since January 2014.

Fabian movies into the position after serving as the managing director of technical integration at NASCAR, where he oversaw post-race technical inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center.

Fabian’s experience includes serving as an over-the-wall crew member, a crew chief and a 10-year tenure at the defunct Michael Waltrip Racing.

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A native of Everett, Pennsylvania, Fabian joined NASCAR in April 2016.

“With his vast experience across the industry, Jay Fabian is uniquely suited for this position,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer said in a press release. “Jay’s steady leadership and depth of knowledge are tremendous assets that will greatly benefit the series and all of NASCAR.”

Fabian will report directly to Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition.

“This is a fast-paced sport that is constantly evolving, and I’m thankful for this opportunity and eager to take on the challenge,” Fabian said a press release. “Racing has been my passion for as long as I can remember. There is growing anticipation for the 2019 season, and I’m looking forward to being a part of an outstanding team that will help build our sport.”

Fabian’s passion for racing stretches to his own son’s career.

He documents Brady Fabian’s karting career frequently on Twitter.

Mike Wallace ready to make another run at NASCAR Cup racing

Mike Wallace before his last Cup start, the 2015 Daytona 500. Photo: Getty Images
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When Mike Wallace developed a heart issue that resulted in triple bypass surgery in April 2015, it left the veteran NASCAR driver with unfinished business in his racing career.

Now, nearly four years later and fully healthy, the 59-year-old brother of NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace and Kenny Wallace hopes to finish some of that business in the 2019 season with Rick Ware Racing.

“I still have that passion,” Mike Wallace told NBC Sports on Wednesday. “I didn’t quit. I didn’t stop racing in 2015 on my own terms. And I’m very comfortable with life. It’s not like I have to do this to complete it, but I just like racing, I like it a lot, I like to be behind the wheel.”

Rick Ware Racing has two NASCAR Cup charters for 2019, which means both the No. 51 and No. 52 must run every race. Ware has offered one of those rides to Wallace, but the latter has to attract more sponsorship.

“Rick reached out, asked me to drive for him, but we have to find some money,” Wallace said. “Rick’s not in a position to hire a driver straight out. So we have a little bit of associate sponsorship put together. But we need sponsorship dollars to complete the package.

“It could be a great deal for him and his team, a great deal for me and it’s an incredibly reasonable, great opportunity for a marketing partner or partners to get involved, because you probably couldn’t get yourself into this sport and the NASCAR business any more reasonable than you can right now.”

Wallace posted on both LinkedIn and Facebook in the last couple of days seeking sponsors for the No. 52 car that he hopes to drive all season, with the exception of the Daytona 500 (although if a primary sponsor steps forward in the next week, Wallace could potentially still compete in that race).

“I know because of my age, Roger Penske, Joe Gibbs, people like that aren’t going to be calling for me to drive their cars, so why not do it if you can do it,” said Wallace, who turns 60 in March. “I still think I’m alert, healthy, have done every test you can do, have great endurance, eyesight, everybody says I’m good to go.

“Passion drives my desire. I’ve always had a passion for being a race car driver and motorsports and the NASCAR world. NASCAR racing is the coolest thing in the country.”

For now, Wallace said he and Ware have enough sponsor dollars to field the No. 52 for Atlanta, California and Las Vegas for starters.

“We worked together years ago, Rick actually fielded my daughter Chrissy in 2007-2008 era, I’ve raced against him or cars he’s owned forever,” Wallace said. “As he told me, he’d like to have a nice season with a driver like myself who can win races and run competitively and take care of equipment. We just have to make it work (financially).”

Wallace and son Matt competed in Super Late Model competition last year and it whetted the elder Wallace’s appetite to give NASCAR another go.

Wallace has made 197 Cup starts, the last race coming in 2015 (Daytona 500) just before his heart issue. He also has a combined 609 starts across both the Xfinity and Truck series, with a combined nine wins and 55 top-5 finishes.

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Joey Gase joins MBM Motorsports in Xfinity, Cup

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MBM Motorsports announced Wednesday it has signed Joey Gase to compete for the team in the Xfinity and Cup Series this season.

Gase will compete full-time in Xfinity driving the No. 35 Toyota. He will race part-time in Cup in the No. 66 Toyota, beginning with an attempt to make the Daytona 500. MBM does not have a charter for the No. 66, meaning he must qualify for the race if there are more than 40 cars entered.

Gase has 208 Xfinity starts and has competed full-time since 2014. Last year he drove for Go Green Racing and finished 20th in the standings.

He also has 30 Cup starts since 2014.

“I am very excited and thankful for the opportunity Carl (Long) and MBM Motorsports is giving me this year,” Gase said in a press release. “Every offseason is stressful when you don’t know what your plans for the following season will be. This offseason by far has been the most stressful of my career with some unforeseen things happening. One evening I was sitting in my office trying to figure out what my next move should be and then out of the blue Carl gave me a call and we talked for about two hours over the phone and now here we are. MBM Motorsports has grown and improved their program a lot over the last two years, especially the end of last season. I am very excited to be a part of that growth in 2019.”

Eternal Fan, Donate Life, Medline, Agri Supply, Pro Master and Page Construction will be among the partners supporting Gase this season.

“Having an experienced driver in Joey Gase to start our season is a huge blessing,” MBM team owner Carl Long said in the press release. “He has worked hard to bring sponsorship to MBM. Today’s driver has to be gifted in handling a car and promotions. Lucky for us Joey is one of the best in all of NASCAR at doing both. Look for us to turn heads this year!”

 

Ryan Truex to drive for Tommy Baldwin Racing at Daytona

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Ryan Truex will attempt to make the Daytona 500 driving for Tommy Baldwin Racing, the team announced Wednesday.

The team does not have a charter for the No. 71 Chevrolet.

“I am very thankful to TBR and Tommy Baldwin for this opportunity and can’t wait to get to Daytona and back in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car,” Ryan Truex said in a statement from the team. “The pressure is on to make it into the race, but Tommy is a true racer, and I know he will put everything into the car to give us a great shot.”

“I’m excited to have Ryan back in a Tommy Baldwin Racing car,” team owner Tommy Baldwin said in a statement. “We had success at Daytona in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, in the past. I’ve known the Truex family a very long time, and it’s special that we’ll be able to compete in the Daytona 500 together, and hopefully more races as the year goes on. We are still in search of a primary sponsor that we’re hoping to put together in time to give TBR a great run this year!”

Truex, the younger brother of Martin Truex Jr., last ran in Cup in 2014 when he competed in 23 races for BK Racing. Truex ran for Kaulig Racing last year in the Xfinity Series, finishing 12th in the points. Truex drove for Hattori Racing in 2017 in the Truck Series, placing ninth in points.