Corey LaJoie

Corey LaJoie gives up a month’s salary to promote shoe charity at Watkins Glen

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Corey LaJoie is forgoing receiving a month’s salary from Go Fas Racing in order to make a difference.

The Cup Series driver announced on social media Wednesday that he’ll go without being paid for a month in order to promote the charity Samaritan’s Feet this weekend at Watkins Glen International (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN). It is an organization founded in 2003 to provide shoes to children and individuals in need.

Anyone who makes a donation of any amount to Samaritan’s Feet through LaJoie’s Hope Givers page between now and Sunday will have their names personally written on the No. 32 Ford by LaJoie.

“There is absolutely no better fit being that my longtime racing nickname is ‘SuperShoe,’ LaJoie said in a press release. “Now being a ‘SuperShoe’ is being a part of something bigger than myself to bring the gift of a new pair of shoes.”

The organization has distributed seven million pairs of shoes in 108 countries and more than 389 U.S. cities.

NASCAR will not penalize Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer for altercation

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Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer will not be penalized for their altercation after Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, a NASCAR executive said Monday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, told “The Morning Drive” that series officials will look at the role of crew members in the altercation.

“In those situations, the key for us is to make sure that the crew members are not coming in and escalating things,” O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “If anything, we’ve just got to go back and look and make sure that’s not the case from our perspective.

“There’s a lot on the line there for the drivers and we certainly don’t want to encourage that but understand that it gets heated at times. Our thing is to make sure crew members are not getting in there and piling on a driver so to speak vs. trying to deescalate the situation.”

Reddick and Custer approached each other after the race on pit road to discuss an incident between them late in the race. Cuter made a comment and put his hand on Reddick’s shoulder. Reddick responded by grabbing Custer with both hands. Crew members swarmed.

O’Donnell also addressed other topics on his appearance:

He said that series officials talked with Garrett Smithley after Saturday’s Xfinity Series race. Smithley was five laps down when the leaders approached but ran in their lane and caused Chase Briscoe and Christopher Bell to crash late in the race.

“We talked to the driver afterwards,” O’Donnell said. “Spotter communication was not where it should have been. I think you look at the history of what’s happened on the track with each particular driver and address it from there. We do have mechanisms we can pull if it’s something we see a pattern with. This one was certainly unfortunate with the leaders out there and created an entirely different race. We communicate from the tower as well as we’re coming down the closing laps to let it play out and give the leaders room. That one was not how we wanted it to play out for sure.”

Smithley had been in the center of an incident with Kyle Busch in the Cup playoff opener at Las Vegas when Busch ran into the back of Smithley’s slower car.

O’Donnell also addressed the caution that came out that led to the second overtime restart in the Cup race. An NBC Sports replay showed the caution light on as Denny Hamlin was within about a car length of the start/finish line. Had Hamlin reached the line before the caution, the field would have been frozen and the race would have ended under caution.

“If you look at the language, it’s when the leader takes the white at the line,” O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The white flag was certainly out but there is a human element to the sport in terms of timing. It’s not an automatic where a light goes on and flag waves. In this case, the light actually came on, I think it was .125 (seconds) before (Hamlin’s) car hit the start/finish line. It was a caution at that point. Certainly very close.”

Winners and losers at Kansas Speedway

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WINNERS

Joe Gibbs Racing — Team scored its 16th win in 32 races this season with Denny Hamlin recording his fifth victory of the year. All four of the team’s cars placed in the top seven with Kyle Busch third, Martin Truex Jr. sixth and Erik Jones seventh. Also, Brandon Jones won his first Xfinity race Saturday, giving JGR a sweep of the weekend.

Chase Elliott He raced his way into the Round of 8 for the third consecutive year. He is Hendrick Motorsports’ lone playoff car remaining.

Ryan Preece A few days after JTG Daugherty Racing’s hauler was damaged by a fire and his crew had to convert teammate Chris Buescher’s backup car into Preece’s primary car for this weekend, Preece finished 12th. That’s his best result since a seventh-place run at Michigan in August.   

LOSERS

Brad Keselowski Lost six spots on the final overtime restart, costing him a spot in the next round of the playoffs by three points. He entered the race 24 points ahead of Chase Elliott for the final transfer spot.

Slow cars — A tough weekend for a couple of slower cars. In the Xfinity race, Garrett Smithley, who was five laps down, said he didn’t realize the leaders were approaching and moved up the track, causing Chase Briscoe and Christopher Bell to wreck. On Sunday, Kyle Larson turned Joey Gase, causing Gase’s race to end. Said Larson: “I was just trying to get a big run up top. There was a lot of us. I was hoping I could get a lane and I didn’t get one. I was already to his back bumper, so yeah. It wasn’t really a message, I was just in a hurry and he was doing his best to get out of the way of the guys below. It was more so impatience on my part.”

Ryan TruexMaking his sixth and final start of the season in the Xfinity Series, his race ended after four laps when the engine in his JR Motorsports car expired. Tough break for a driver trying to get back to a full-time ride.

Watch NASCAR America from 6-7 p.m. ET today on NBCSN with Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton and Dale Jarrett for more on Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway. 

Why Denny Hamlin let Jimmie Johnson back on the lead lap

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Jimmie Johnson has been on a crusade to earn respect that he believes has eroded among his peers during a two-year winless skid.

Sunday at Kansas Speedway, the seven-time Cup champion was shown a major amount of deference by race winner Denny Hamlin, who slowed to allow the No. 48 Chevrolet to get back on the lead lap less than a mile before the end of Stage 2.

A sign of respect? Yes.

But maybe not quite the type being sought by the Hendrick Motorsports star, who recently spoke of once being “feared” on the track.

That wasn’t the case with Hamlin, Johnson said.

“Honestly, if he thought I was a threat, he wouldn’t have done it,” Johnson said with a laugh about Hamlin’s move. “So there is respect there. And I do feel there is respect off the track, but out there on the track, there is just another level of respect you have to earn through racing hard. And I guess because I didn’t seem like a threat, he let that slide.

“I’ll take it! I’m very appreciative. I don’t want to have it come across the wrong way, but if we’d been leading all day long, I don’t think he would have cut us that break.”

Johnson still made the most of it over the final half of the race. Restarting in 20th, he drove into the top five over the next 100 laps (capitalizing on a two-tire stop with 20 laps remaining.

He faded to a 10th-place finish over the last three restarts – but it still was a major improvement after running outside the top 15 for most of the first two stages.

“We just finally got the car tightened up,” Johnson said. “We were so loose, I just couldn’t run the amount of throttle needed.

“Once we got the car closer, I drove up to (the top five) and passed a ton of cars. That was cool. On the end with two tires, a lot of guys were on four, so that hurt us a little bit. We didn’t need those last few cautions. I think we were sitting in a great spot, and then the cautions started, and that caught us off.”

Still, the big break came from Hamlin. Though Johnson would have gotten back on the lead lap via the free pass, staying on the lead lap allowed him to avoid starting behind lapped cars on the ensuing restart.

“I’m just very thankful that he was so considerate,” Johnson said. “I’m not sure where that came from, but I’m very, very appreciative of it. He harassed me in a tweet a while back and mentioned something along the lines of the utmost respect, so there is a lot of respect there. I appreciate that.”

It was during the July 13 race at Kentucky Speedway when Hamlin complained about being held up by Johnson on track.

But as he has mentioned often this season (and often since his spin of Chase Elliott racing for the lead at Martinsville Speedway might have cost him a chance for the championship), the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has been rather chivalrous at times with his No. 11 Toyota.

“Just trying to be a nice guy,” Hamlin said of declining to keep Johnson a lap down. “Never can have too many friends out there, especially this point of the season.  You go a lap down, it changes your race.  Obviously he was up there racing in the top five there towards the end.

“Just putting another coin in the deposit box.”

Kyle Larson’s ribs feeling ‘pretty painful’ after disappointing finish

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. – If finishing 14th with “a top-three car” didn’t leave Kyle Larson ailing Sunday at Kansas Speedway, there was also the matter of his aching ribs.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver took a prerace cortisone shot and put on a medicated patch to help manage the injury he sustained in an Oct. 14 crash at Talladega Superspeedway.

“I felt great to start the race,” said Larson, who didn’t think the ribs were broken. “I could barely feel any tenderness. And as the race went on, it just got more tender and more tender, and it’s pretty painful right now.

“I’ve got a cough, but I’m afraid to cough. We’ll maybe get it checked out this week and see if there is anything wrong with me. And if there is, if there’s anything I can do to get better.”

He’ll have a week to get ready for 500 laps at rough-and-tumble Martinsville Speedway, where he will enter the Round of 8 for the first time with a shot at the championship (by virtue of his Oct. 6 win at Dover International Speedway).

Larson is worried about racing well at the 0.526-mile oval that has frustrated him, but he is less concerned about how he will feel physically.

“Not really because the loads (at Kansas) are higher than at Martinsville with Gs pushing you into the side of the seat,” he said. “Martinsville, we don’t really have that. There’s a lot more slowing down and all that. You can slam on the brakes and things. So I don’t know if that’s going to hurt, but another seven days from now, I should be quite a bit better, hopefully.”

Larson also might need some time to recover from a missed opportunity at Kansas, where he led 42 of the first 46 laps. He stalled the car while pitting under green on Lap 47 but rebounded to retake first on Lap 59.

During a slow pit stop under a Lap 76 caution, Larson lost eight spots, and he fell outside the top 10 because of an uncontrolled tire penalty on the next stop (under yellow on Lap 117).

“Today was our roughest day that I’ve had in a long time,” said Larson, who also had a dustup with the lapped car of Joey Gase. “We had some really slow stops. My pit box was really slick, so I couldn’t get in aggressive enough (and) couldn’t leave fast enough. It made the pit stops seem worse than they were.”

Larson still managed to be in the hunt for his second victory in three races, climbing into the top five when the caution flew on Lap 254 of 277. Larson moved into second behind race winner Denny Hamlin with a two-tire stop, but he faded over the course of the final three restarts.

“Tough to have a day like that, but we had a fast car,” Larson said. “We tried to gamble on tires. Worked out for Denny, didn’t work out for us and got ate up on those restarts. Finished 14th with a top-three car.

“With him getting clean air (as the leader on the restart), I thought (Hamlin) would have a good shot. I thought if I could ever clear him, I’d have a good shot, too, but he did a good job with all the restarts holding them guys off.”

After being eliminated in the second-round cutoff race at Kansas the past two years, at least Larson could find solace at avoiding the playoff drama that led to Brad Keselowski’s elimination Sunday.

“It was pretty interesting keeping in touch with what was going on with the points,” Larson said. “The intensity just ramps up every round and every race really. Yeah, it’s going to get wild.”