Bubba Wallace on if things are over with Alex Bowman: ‘We’ll see’

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DOVER, Del. — Bubba Wallace says he regrets that others were splashed by liquid he sprayed at Alex Bowman but did not regret doing it to Bowman.

Wallace said Saturday at Dover International Speedway that he apologized to Jeff Gordon and Dr. Angela Fiege, medical director of the AMR NASCAR Safety team and reached out to Hendrick Motorsports executive Jeff Andrews, who also was splashed.

Asked if things are over with Bowman, Wallace said: “We’ll see. He’s already on six strikes.”

Wallace expressed frustration with Bowman for incidents the past two weekends at Richmond and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

“It’s the same thing as Richmond,” Wallace said of Bowman. “He ran over me as soon as he got to me at Richmond and got underneath me, this is the next time, he got underneath me and ran me up the race track, so I was ‘OK, he’s getting wrecked here, if he ever gets by me, he’s getting wrecked. In the fence.  Done.’

“We ended up beating him. I was, ‘Alright, that’s the higher road.’ It was over with. It was done.”

Until the opening lap of the race at the Roval the next week.

“(Then) Lap 1 of the new configuration of the Roval, after we had all sat there and watched the Xfinity race and watched a car come through from 15 cars back and wad up about six of them, it’s like ‘Alright, we’re the Cup level, let’s take it easy this first lap and just get through there,’ ” Wallace said. “What do you know? (Bowman) runs over (Austin Dillon) and me. Shoves me through the chicane, gives me a penalty. NASCAR and I talked about that. We’re on clear terms on why we got the penalty.

“It’s Lap 1. Come on. It’s a new configuration. Everybody knows how treacherous it is and he runs over us. So there’s no excuse for that. I believe he was the only car to run over somebody there on Lap 1. All of us except for one car had the mentality of let’s take it easy, let’s figure out how this chicane is going to work on the initial start.”

Later in the race, Bowman wrecked Wallace. Bowman said after the race that he tired of seeing Wallace flip him off multiple laps, saying last week: “Probably wouldn’t have gotten wrecked if he had his finger back in the car.”

That’s not the first time Wallace’s middle finger got him in trouble this season. Daniel Suarez had a post-race disagreement with Wallace at Pocono in July after he was flipped off by Wallace. So will Wallace alter his middle-finger policy toward competitors?

“It’s still going to be the same,” Wallace said. “You know what car gets it the most is (Martin Truex Jr.). Me and him have a joke about it. We laugh about it every time. It’s one of those, like I need to stop doing it because there’s a lot of eyes on me.

“At first it was just like a joke but it’s become obviously a thing and people are getting really sensitive over a finger and wanting to retaliate and right rear somebody on the race track, which is grounds for taking your gloves off and fight.”

Truex said that the middle finger is a joke between them after a discussion they had earlier this season.

“I got close to him coming off (Turn 4) and he got sideways,” Truex said of an incident at ISM Raceway in March. “I guess he thought I hit him and flipped me off for a whole lap. I talked to him a week or two later, and said, ‘Listen man, somebody is going to get out of the car one of these days and shove that finger straight up your ass.’ ”

Even after his issues with Bowman at the Roval, Wallace said he raced Bowman clean the rest of the event.

“We got that restart and they put us up there and we started next to (Bowman), close to (Bowman) and my spotter made sure I was well aware of who was on the outside of me and I was like, let’s just get away from him here and we drove away. But after the race I had had enough of him.”

After finishing second at the Roval, Bowman climbed from his car, sat down on the ground and leaned against his car. He was being treated for dehydration and overheating when Wallace approached. After a brief conversation, Wallace splashed Bowman and those around Bowman with his drink.

Asked if Bowman said something that led to Wallace splashing him, Wallace said: “He couldn’t have said anything, I was still going to throw water on him.”

Bowman sought to defuse the situation Friday. He told the media “I don’t think we need to talk before Sunday. I think it is what it is.”

They won’t be around each other at the start of Sunday’s Cup race at Dover (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). Bowman qualified 12th. Wallace qualified 26th.

Today’s Cup race at Kansas: Start time, lineup and more

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The playoff field will be whittled to eight drivers today at Kansas Speedway, where the second-round cutoff race of the 2019 Cup playoffs will occur over 400 miles.

Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney are locked into the third round, and Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick seem strong bets to advance. Team Penske drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano (plus 18 points in the final transfer spot) also have a cushion on the cutoff.

That puts Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, Clint Bowyer and William Byron in virtual must-win situations to advance to the third round.

Here is the information for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: Actor Jensen Ackles will give the command to start engines at 2:37 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:48 p.m.

PRERACE: The Cup garage will open at 10:30 a.m. The driver/crew chief meeting will be at 12:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 1:50 p.m. The invocation will be given at 2:30 p.m. by Lt. Col Randy Croft, Whiteman Air Force Base. The National Anthem will be performed at 2:31 p.m. by Eric Roosevelt.

DISTANCE: The race is 267 laps (400 miles) around the 1.5-mile oval.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 80. Stage 2 ends on Lap 160.

TV/RADIO: NBC will televise the race. Coverage will begin with NASCAR America at 1 p.m. on NBC. Countdown to Green follows at 1:30 p.m. on NBC, leading into race coverage. The postrace show will be on NBCSN at 6 p.m., followed by Victory Lap at 6:30 p.m.

Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast will begin at 1 p.m. and also can be heard on mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

STREAMING ONLINE: Click here for NBC’s live stream of the race.

FORECAST: Wunderground.com forecasts partly cloudy conditions with a temperature of 63 degrees and a 15% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: A year ago, Chase Elliott led the final 44 laps for his third and final victory of the season. Brad Keselowski won the May 11 race here, outdueling Alex Bowman in the closing laps. 

STARTING LINEUP: Click here

Garrett Smithley calls wreck with leaders a career low point

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Garrett Smithley said he felt “probably the lowest of my career” Saturday after causing the leaders to wreck late in the Xfinity Series playoff race at Kansas Speedway while he was five laps down.

Smithley said he wasn’t aware the leaders were behind him when he exited Turn 4 and moved up toward the wall. Chase Briscoe, who was leading, and Christopher Bell, who was second, made contact as Briscoe tried to avoid Smithley.

Briscoe finished third. Bell 12th.

“I just didn’t get the memo that he was coming,” Smithley said of the leaders. “(Spotter) Freddie (Kraft) usually does a good job, he always does a good job. I’m sure it wasn’t his fault. Something didn’t get transmitted or what. I glanced up. David Starr was back there. I was just riding. We were on like 70-lap tires just riding not even pushing hard. I hated it.”

Asked about the line he ran, going from the bottom in the corners to high on exit, Smithley said:

“I was running my line. If I had known he was back there, I wouldn’t have even done that. I was just riding. I was on 70-lap tires, not even pushing it. Just stupid mistake. I hate that it happened. I hate it for everybody that got involved. I do not want to be that guy by any means. I’ve never been that guy. I hate that that happened.”

It’s the second time in about a month that Smithley has been hit by a faster car while running laps down in a race.

In the Cup playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch ran into the back of Smithley’s car and criticized Smithley’s credentials.

Asked if he feared people would start associating him with those incidents, Smithley said:

“No. What happened at Vegas happened. People spoke and most people were on my side. It was a mistake. People forget how hard this stuff is. Things happen in a split-second decision. Like I said, I didn’t know he was up there. I glanced up and didn’t see him and ran my line and that was it.”

Briscoe demurred on being overly critical of Smithley, saying “I still haven’t seen a replay” when he talked to reporters.

“It is frustrating even without that lap car, just in general,” Briscoe said. “I totally understand lap cars are obviously off the pace and that makes it tough for them. At this place, the fast guys are running the top and there were a lot of guys that would run the top in front of you.

“We are literally racing for our lives trying to lock into a championship. I haven’t seen the replay so it is hard to say. I know I got tagged in the left rear by Bell but at the same time it felt like (Smithley) was going to put me in the fence regardless.”

Told that Smithley said he wasn’t aware Briscoe was behind, Briscoe said: “I feel like he should have general awareness of what is going on. I totally get where he is coming from. It is tough in those situations. I don’t know. I don’t want to comment on it because I have not been in his position, so I am sure it is tough but it is frustrating to say the least on my end. We go from 15 to go thinking we are going to win the race and lock into Homestead and then you are two points back. It is frustrating. I am sure he will reach out and I appreciate that, but it doesn’t much help the fact.”

Said Bell: “I haven’t seen (a replay) so it’s hard for me to say. Obviously I didn’t mean to wreck the 98. It sucks that we tore up two race cars.”

While Bell and Briscoe were judicious in their words, some Cup drivers expressed their feelings on Twitter:

Smithley took responsibility on Twitter:

 

 

Xfinity results, points after Round of 8 begins at Kansas

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Brandon Jones may have been eliminated from advancement in the Xfinity Series playoffs after the cutoff race at Dover two weeks ago, but on Saturday he lived up to his promise that he’d still win a race in the remainder of the playoffs as the Round of 8 kicked off.

It was Jones’ first win in 134 career Xfinity Series starts. It also was his 14th top-10 finish of 2019.

MORE: Brandon Jones rallies late to earn first career Xfinity win at Kansas

Tyler Reddick finished second, followed by Chase Briscoe, Michael Annett and Justin Allgaier.

Click here for the race results.

POINTS:

Even though he finished 12th after being involved in a late race wreck with Briscoe and Garrett Smithley, Christopher Bell still maintains his lead at the top of the heap of the Xfinity Series point standings.

Bell holds an 11-point lead over Cole Custer and is 12 points ahead of Tyler Reddick and 47 points ahead of Justin Allgaier.

Fifth through eighth are Chase Briscoe (-49 points), Michael Annett (-59 points), Noah Gragson (-64 points) and Austin Cindric (-77 points).

Click here for the updated point standings.

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Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick have physical confrontation after Kansas race

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Xfinity Series championship contenders Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick got involved in a heated confrontation that quickly turned physical after Saturday’s race at Kansas Speedway.

Custer, who was angry about Reddick making contact with him, approached his rival after they parked in the pits. Custer put a hand on the shoulder of Reddick, who responded by grabbing Custer with both hands (watch the video above).

The drivers both fell to the ground as they were swarmed by members of both teams. Neither driver seemed to be hurt, though Reddick had a red mark above his right eye.

“I was just frustrated that he can’t keep his car on the bottom and then runs us up into the wall,” Custer told NBC Sports. “If he wants to wreck cars and put them in the wall, that’s fine, but when it affects me, I’m not going to be very happy with him.

“I don’t know. I just went over to talk to him and say that and put my hand on him, and he just went berserk. I thought we had a good car and a shot to win.”

As he approached Reddick, Custer addressed him with “You can be a dumb (expletive).”

“I understand Cole’s frustration 100 percent,” Reddick told NBC Sports. “We’re trying to lock ourselves into Homestead, and he came up to talk after the race. He put a hand on me, I put a hand on him back, and that’s just how it’s going to be if we’re going to have a conversation that way.

“I’m out of breath. Had a fight there with some people, and it was a little bit of fun. I think a lot of Cole and his driving ability.”

Reddick finished runner-up Saturday to Brandon Jones, who won but already had been eliminated from the playoffs and wasn’t eligible to advance to the championship round. Custer finished 10th.

With two races remaining in the Xfinity playoffs at Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway, Reddick and Custer both are comfortably in position to reach the title race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Custer is 38 points ahead of the cut line, and Reddick is plus-37. Christopher Bell, who crashed with leader Chase Briscoe when he ran into the rear of the lapped car of Garrett Smithley, remained the championship leader at 49 points ahead of Briscoe, who is two points behind fourth-ranked Justin Allgaier

“It was just heat of the moment,” Reddick said of the scuffle. “We’re pissed off. I’m sure we’ll talk about it here soon, maybe today, tomorrow.

“I hate that it happened to him, but we’ll try and move forward. Both of us have a lot left to lose in this deal, and if we take each other out, neither one of us get to Homestead, and I feel we both deserve to be there.”

A Stewart-Haas Racing spokesman said Reddick and Custer talk led later in the garage as their cars went through postrace inspection.

There also were postrace tweets from Custer and from Reddick.

Custer also was involved in a notable altercation after a truck race three years ago at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, where he tackled John Hunter Nemechek in anger after they collided on the last lap while racing for the lead.

Nemechek made light of that situation while Custer did postrace interviews Saturday (see the :50 mark of Dustin Long’s Twitter video below).