Bump & Run: Saying you’d wreck your brother for a win a good move?

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Kyle Busch seemed slightly miffed that his older brother adamantly vowed multiple times he would have wrecked the No. 18 for the win. Is this the power dynamics of a 30-year sibling rivalry or part of the age-old debates over proper racing ethics?

Nate Ryan: It’s a little of both. While Kyle is right to question the wisdom of vowing you would have wrecked someone if you’d had the chance, Kurt’s repeated (and somewhat gleeful) promises in postrace interviews and on social media seemed indicative of getting inside his younger brother’s head. It felt as if we might be witnessing how Busch brother discussions would have gone after go-kart races in Las Vegas during the early 1990s. But it also was a fresh spin on how far a driver will go to win a race. Kurt has established the line he’ll cross next time to win at Bristol, and by owning it, that should help clear his conscience while also giving fans something to anticipate next time.

Dustin Long: Both. If I was racing my brother, I’d tell him we’re not brothers on the track, we are competitors. If I had to knock him out of the way to win, I would. If he didn’t like it, he could go cry to Mom and Dad.

Daniel McFadin: I imagine Kurt Busch would have said that regardless of who was in the lead, but it’s definitely amplified by their sibling rivalry. It’s really surprising how little they’ve gotten to go head-to-head over the years. But the way they’re both racing, it might happen more than once the rest of the year.

Jerry Bonkowski: If memory serves me correct, Kyle and Kurt have had a few skirmishes over the years, so it wouldn’t surprise me if either took out the other one in a future race or two. What I really want to see, though, is how the pair reacts to each other if one takes the other out. Will we see fists fly? Will they take each other off their respective Christmas present lists?

Was NASCAR right to penalize Brad Keselowski for restarting in the wrong position or should NASCAR have delayed the restart to ensure he was in the right spot and not unfairly impact others?

Nate Ryan: With fewer than 20 laps remaining, this was a less than ideal situation. It probably would have been better to hold the restart and avoid affecting others’ races. But by holding the restart, NASCAR is burning laps, which also negatively impacts the pit calls made by other teams (as the NASCAR America crew noted Monday). A red flag would have been too heavy-handed and set an unfortunate precedent just to position the order correctly. As Jeff Burton noted, five warnings and an extra lap was enough time for Keselowski to line up in the right spot, and at some point, the race had to return to green. And while Keselowski is at fault, the NASCAR tower hopefully learned a lesson about ensuring its communication is better next time, because the radio chatter indicated too much confusion.

Dustin Long: The penalty was justified, but NASCAR should have gotten the lineup right before restarting the race. Throw the red flag if you have to, but get the lineup right! With Brad Keselowski not in the proper spot, he forced Joey Logano and Austin Dillon to be three-wide on the restart. While NASCAR extended the caution a lap to try to get Keselowski in the right spot, it should have stopped the field on the backstretch and gotten the field aligned to go back racing. Get the lineup right!

Daniel McFadin: NASCAR was right to penalize Brad Keselowski, but NASCAR should have taken as much time as possible to rectify the situation in order to ensure a proper restart. The wacky three-wide position of Keselowski, Joey Logano and Austin Dillon doesn’t just impact one driver and as Keselowski admitted, likely affected the outcome of the race.

Jerry Bonkowski: NASCAR was correct in penalizing Keselowski, but at the same time, yes, the restart should have been delayed for another lap to get Keselowski in the right position. This was a very costly lesson for Keselowski. If he would have heeded NASCAR’s initial call, he had a good chance of winning – or at the very least, finishing top five instead of 18th.

Denny Hamlin has three speeding penalties in the first eight races. Is this a concern?

Nate Ryan: No. Hamlin’s speeding penalties receive more scrutiny than any other driver in Cup. He is culpable of putting his team in tough positions, but as Texas proved, it often gives the No. 11 team a chance to test its mettle and rebound. Though this penalty undermined a strategy call that could have put him in position to win a race, it didn’t cost him the race (he finished about where he ran in fifth), nor has his proclivity for speeding cost him a championship or playoff advancement. He and the team usually have figured it out when the stakes are at their highest.

Dustin Long: No. It’s not ideal, but I’m not going to worry too much about it. They’ve shown the speed to recover and win from such a penalty.

Daniel McFadin: Absolutely. Hamlin won at Texas despite two pit road penalties. If he’s off to the best start of his Cup car, there’s no telling how much more we’d be talking about him if not for his mistakes on pit road.

Jerry Bonkowski: There’s no one else to blame but Hamlin himself. Yes, it’s a concern that Hamlin has a heavy foot. For all we know, if he hadn’t have been caught speeding so many times, Hamlin may have had another win or two to his record by now. I understand wanting to get on and off pit road ASAP, but if this keeps up, Joe Gibbs needs to sit down with his driver to tell him to slow down.

Because this is the week of the Masters golf tournament — a tradition unlike any other, they say — what is a tradition unlike any other in NASCAR?

Nate Ryan: Not a big fan of traditions because they can impede the necessary progress for betterment. There are some Masters-esque traditions in NASCAR, but many have changed and then reverted over the years (Martinsville hot dogs, Southern 500 on Labor Day, etc.), and there are others that soon will end (Bristol night race in late August, Daytona’s July 4 race week). All of this is good if it keeps NASCAR headed in the right direction. The only tradition that matters is retaining the essence of why people attend races, which is compelling action mixed with passionate emotions.

Dustin Long: Awarding a grandfather clock to the winner at Martinsville.

Daniel McFadin: This will only be the fifth year of the tradition at this point, but I’m going with the Throwback Weekend at Darlington. It’s just a great, celebratory moment for the sport with a bunch of unique paint schemes to remind people about its deep history. I get excited with every car reveal and we’re already off to a good start with Richard Childress Racing’s cars.

Jerry Bonkowski: No question about it, the Daytona 500. The pomp and circumstances of the event – not to mention its illustrious history – is NASCAR’s pride and joy. Is it any wonder why so many non-NASCAR fans tune in or attend in-person? It’s a happening like the Super Bowl and everybody wants to see it.

NASCAR America presents the Motorsports Hour, 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN

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This week’s episode of NASCAR America presents the Motorsports Hour airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Marty Snider, Danielle Trotta, Parker Kligerman and Steve Letarte will discuss multiple auto racing disciplines, including NASCAR and IndyCar.

If you can’t catch either of today’s shows on TV, watch 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.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. throws perfect strike for Red Sox

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With the Boston Red Sox nearly 10 games behind their No. 1 rivals, the American League East-leading New York Yankees, they could use some additional pitching help.

A good southpaw would be a big help.

They got some help on Wednesday – for one pitch at least, that is – as Cup Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. threw out the first pitch prior to the game vs. the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

Scouts likely had a few raised eyebrows when Stenhouse threw a perfect strike.

 

I’ve thrown out first pitches at some minor league games, but Fenway Park puts it at a whole ‘nother level,” Stenhouse told NESN.com.

But Stenhouse, wearing a No. 17 jersey, delivered when it was his turn atop the mound. In a sense, it was a home game for Stenhouse, as Red Sox owner John Henry is a part-owner of Roush Fenway Racing.

Stenhouse and teammate Ryan Newman, who was also in uniform for the game, were in Boston on their way to this weekend’s Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Stenhouse is currently 19th in the standings and with seven races left to make the playoffs, he knows how significant this weekend will be for him.

It’s very important,” Stenhouse told NESN. “New Hampshire could be one of those turning points. We’re 19th in points and need to get to 16th. Or we could win and just lock ourselves in that way, too.

Hopefully, we’ll have a fast enough car and play the right strategy to put ourselves in a position to win. These next few races are definitely critical to us to make sure we do our part. We’ll need somebody else to falter a little bit, but we’re going to go out and do our job and see how things play out.”

And if Stenhouse doesn’t make the playoffs, he might want to keep that pitching arm warm and loose, just in case the Red Sox really need him.

 

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Ryan Vargas set for Xfinity debut at Iowa Speedway

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Ryan Vargas, a member of the 2018-19 NASCAR Next class and 2019 Drive for Diversity program, is set to make his Xfinity Series debut next weekend at Iowa Speedway.

JD Motorsports announced Wednesday Vargas will drive its No. 15 Chevrolet in the July 27 U.S. Cellular 250, which will air on NBCSN.

Vargas, 18, competed full-time in the K&N Pro Series East last year for Rev Racing. Vargas was let go by Rev Racing in December and has spent this season racing late models and competing for the Irwindale Speedway track championship.

The race at Iowa will mark Vargas’ national NASCAR series debut. Vargas said making his Xfinity debut at Iowa “just makes sense” given his seventh-place finish there last year in the K&N Series.

“Last year, I felt that I was able to run my best race all year at the speedway, and to have the chance to drive for a well-respected team owner in Johnny Davis really adds to the excitement heading into the weekend,” Vargas said in a press release. “I think if we can keep all the fenders on my No. 15 Chevrolet and run as many laps as possible, the weekend will be a success. At this point in my career, I want to learn as much as I can so I can keep moving up the NASCAR ladder, so I am not necessarily worried about what the results show.”

Vargas will be sponsored by Cranio Care Bears, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of Craniosynostosis, a condition that causes problems with a child’s brain and skull growth. Vargas underwent surgery when he was 11 months old to correct issues from it.

“It means a lot to me to be able to help bring awareness to this great charity in Cranio Care Bears through the sport that I love so much,” Vargas said. “I know that I will have a lot of little supporters cheering me on that look up to me as a role model in the Cranio community, and I want to show them that anything is possible, even with the condition.”

 

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Updated entry lists for NASCAR at New Hampshire

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The NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series will be in action this weekend at the 1-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H.

The Gander Outdoors Truck Series is off until July 27 at Pocono Raceway.

Here are the entry lists for the Cup and Xfinity races at New Hampshire:

Cup – Foxwoods Resort & Casino 301 (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN)

There are 37 cars entered.

Quin Houff will be back in the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet.

Andy Seuss is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 51 Ford and will make his Cup debut. Austin Theriault will also make his Cup debut in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 52 Chevrolet.

Click here for the full entry list.

Xfinity — Roxor 200 (4 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

There are 41 cars entered.

Cup regular Paul Menard will be driving the No. 12 Team Penske Ford Mustang.

Ryan Truex will be making his third Xfinity start of the season in the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.

Tyler Matthews will make his third Xfinity start of 2019 in the No. 15 JD Motorsports Chevrolet.

Harrison Burton makes his third start of the season in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Kaz Grala is entered in his fourth race of the year in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet.

Canadian driver Alex Labbe makes his third start of 2019 in the No. 90 DGM Racing Chevrolet.

CJ McLaughlin will make his Xfinity Series debut, driving the No. 93 RSS Racing Chevrolet.

Click here for the full entry list.