Harrison Burton puts Paul Menard wreck in rearview, now it’s on to Pocono

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While he’s looking forward to Saturday’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Pocono Raceway, Harrison Burton still isn’t completely over his run-in at New Hampshire with Paul Menard.

Appearing on Tuesday’s SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “On Track” show with Danielle Trotta and Larry McReynolds, the 18-year-old Burton, son of NBC Sports’ analyst and former NASCAR racer Jeff Burton, spoke more at length about Saturday’s tangle with Menard in the Xfinity Series race.

Honestly, I was completely surprised when I got wrecked,” the younger Burton said. “I didn’t know if (Menard) had done it on purpose or not. It felt like a hard hit, so I figured he did. I was kind of surprised at the time that it happened.

I went back and watched the race when I got home and tried to look at it as objectively as I could and there were two incidents where I had gotten slight contact with Paul in the race. … I made a later move into the corner, but I didn’t come up into him and thought it was just a racing deal where he came down, thinking we was clear and we weren’t. He didn’t see it that way. Then I got into his door a touch at a short track, which I felt was pretty standard NASCAR racing, just a little touch, nothing really too bad and then I got wrecked.

I tried to be objective as a I could and didn’t feel like I did anything that I would go back and change. And that’s just how I saw it. It’s a tough incident because I felt like we had raced clean all day. The whole race, people were very aggressive and banging into each other, which makes for good racing and cool racing and fun racing. But I guess Paul didn’t see it that way and I got wrecked because of it.”

After the race, Harrison Burton went on social media and quickly saw reaction from fans, both for him and also for Menard in their dust-up.

After incidents like that, I try not to scroll through social media and hear about what people have to say about me or other people because there’s a lot of negativity out there sometimes, and that sometimes is just the takeaway,” Burton said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “But, for whatever reason after this race, I figured I’d look to see what people were saying because I was really confused as to why I got wrecked.

“I saw some people side with Paul and that’s what’s great about this sport, fans debating what’s right and wrong. It creates conversation around this sport and I think that’s a good thing. People are talking about racing and that’s good. So overall, I think there’s some good things you can take away from it from looking at social media, but there’s some bad things you can take away from it as well.”

Harrison Burton not only had to read the fallout from his wreck with Menard on social media, he also empathized with his father, Jeff, who called the race on TV.

He went really quiet after that because he didn’t want to interject and say anything that was biased, and I think he did a really good job at that trying to be as neutral as he could be and be the best broadcaster he could be for NBC,” Harrison Burton said. “He had to kind of take his dad hat off that day, did a really good job and handled it well.

I’m sure it was a difficult situation for him up there, but I’m pretty happy with the way he handled it and let me do my own deal.”

Burton has moved on from the incident with Menard and is ready for Saturday’s Truck race at Pocono, a place where he has three previous starts in the ARCA Series, including a win there last year.

I’m excited to go to Pocono and have an opportunity to go race again, especially after something like that, you can put it past you and go do your job again, which is great,” Burton said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Even though he is fifth in the Truck Series’ standings, Burton comes into the race outside a playoff position with three races left — Pocono, Eldora and Michigan.

Five of the eight playoff spots have been locked in by virtue of a win for the driver, with three others (points leader Grant Enfinger, Stewart Friesen and Matt Crafton) ahead of Burton in the standings. Burton is 44 points behind Crafton for the eighth and final playoff spot.

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Denny Hamlin hopes teams don’t shoot selves in feet with pit guns

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Denny Hamlin is the hottest driver on the Cup circuit. He has two wins – including Saturday night at Bristol – as well as two runner-ups, and a third- and fifth-place finish in the last six races. He’s also moved up to third in the rankings in that string.

But Hamlin isn’t taking anything to chance, particularly some of the smallest details – such as loose lug nuts and wheels.

Hamlin appeared Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “On-Track” show and was asked about how not only his team, but also other Cup teams, can overcome the loose lug nuts and wheels issues.

Hamlin said a significant part of the problem – particularly at a place like Bristol Motor Speedway – is pit guns, which are allocated and issued in a pre-race lottery by NASCAR, rather than have teams use their own guns.

MORE: Denny Hamlin earns hard-fought win over Matt DiBenedetto at Bristol

Hamlin does not like that system and explained why:

“(Bristol) puts probably some of the biggest loads we have on our tires. Truth be told, over the last two years since we’ve had these guns issued to us, they’re not capable of getting all the wheels tight, they really aren’t.

“It’s a lottery whether you get a gun that’s good enough to get ‘em tight. Through JGR, Stewart-Haas and other teams that have documented it, in the spring race there were over 20 loose wheels. This is not just a team thing. It’s just that the equipment is not quite up to par as far as what it’s capable of.

“We keep track of all the guns and how good they are and how bad they are. It’s a lottery system of whether you’re going to get (a good or bad one). It doesn’t matter how fast you go, you can hold the gun on there and it’s just not going to get the torque quite tight enough.”

Hamlin experienced a loose wheel that forced him to pit under green on Lap 186 of Saturday night’s race at Bristol, leaving him two laps behind the leaders. Hamlin had another loose wheel on Lap 374 and pitted while running 10th.

Thus far this season, in addition to several loose wheels in races, Hamlin’s team has also been penalized four times for loose lug nuts after races: Fontana, Bristol spring race, Chicagoland and the July race at Pocono.

This isn’t the first time Hamlin has publicly complained about pit guns and loose lug nuts and wheels.

NBC Sports has reached out to NASCAR for comment.

Check out what Hamlin said about that after Saturday night’s race in the video above (Hamlin talks about this issue starting around the 6:00 mark).

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Preliminary entry lists for Xfinity, Trucks this weekend

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While the NASCAR Cup Series will be off this weekend, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any racing.

On the contrary, the Xfinity Series will be racing Saturday at Road America and the Truck Series will compete Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Here are the entry lists for both series:

Xfinity – CTECH Manufacturing 180 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

There are 39 cars entered.

Regan Smith will be in the No. 8 J.R. Motorsports Chevrolet.

A.J. Allmendinger will drive the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet.

Saturday’s Cup runner-up, Matt DiBenedetto, will drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

There is no driver listed yet for the No. 117 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Chevrolet Silverado 250 (2:30 p.m. ET FS1)

There are only 28 Trucks listed for the entry list.

All seats are filled.

Click here for the entry list.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. thanks all who have ‘lifted us up’ since plane crash

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. issued his first public comments Monday since he and his family survived a plane crash last Thursday afternoon at Elizabethton (Tennessee) Municipal Airport.

Earnhardt offered thanks to “everyone who has lifted us up with phone calls, messages and prayer since last Thursday. We are truly blessed that all on board escaped with no serious injuries, including our daughter, our two pilots and our dog Gus.”

Earnhardt also thanked the pilots, emergency personnel, law enforcement and hospital staff.

He stated that wife “Amy and I continue to be very appreciative of the privacy extended to us to process everything. It has been important to do that together and on our own time.”

Earnhardt stated that because of the ongoing investigation “we will not be speculating or discussing the cause of the accident.”

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board is expected this week. Ralph Hicks, a senior investigator for the NTSB said in a briefing last Friday that “the airplane basically bounced at least twice before coming down hard on the right wing landing gear. You can actually see the right wing landing gear collapsing on the video (from nearby buildings). The airplane continued down the runway, off to the end, through a fence and came to a stop … on highway 91.”

Both pilots have been interviewed and Hicks stated that what they said was “very consistent” with what the video showed. Hicks also said investigators had talked to the Earnhardt family.

NASCAR America 6-7 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Recapping Hamlin’s Bristol win

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs on NBCSN at a special time, from 6-7 p.m. ET, and will recap Denny Hamlin’s win at Bristol.

Steve Letarte will be joined by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and A.J. Allmendinger to discuss Hamlin’s win and other storylines.

If you can’t catch today’s show 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 for the special start time at 6 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.