Denny Hamlin takes verbal jab at Joey Logano, No. 22 team

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Denny Hamlin took a verbal poke at Joey Logano and criticized Logano’s crew chief for a “lack of control” of his team Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Hamlin and Logano made contact late in last week’s playoff race at Martinsville Speedway, cutting Logano’s tire. Logano approached Hamlin after the race to discuss the issue and punctuated the discussion by shoving Hamlin, triggering an altercation.

Hamlin and Logano have a history that goes back to 2013 to a confrontation after the Bristol spring race and an on-track incident the following week at Auto Club Speedway that injured Hamlin.

Asked Friday if he ever gets the feeling that Logano knows he can get to him, Hamlin said: “No. He’s not that smart.”

“He touched me first. First thing, as a man, you can’t just let that stuff happen. That’s the first thing.”

Logano later said he shouldn’t have shoved Hamlin but “I really wanted to go over and talk to him and get his side of the story of what happened and he just said I ran up into the wall basically and wasn’t as apologetic as I was looking for and that escalated the situation too much. I shouldn’t have shoved him.”

After Logano shoved Hamlin on the right shoulder, Logano walked away. Hamlin followed and crew members joined in.

NASCAR suspended Logano’s tire specialist, Dave Nichols Jr., for this weekend’s event at Texas Motor Speedway for grabbing Hamlin from behind and tossing him to the ground during the pit road scuffle.

Hamlin said he agreed with the suspension.

“My agitation with that guy is he’s the first one in all of Joey’s confrontations,” Hamlin said of Nichols. “You go back and look. He dives in there and starts most of this stuff.”

Hamlin also was critical of Logano’s crew chief, Todd Gordon, for the role Nichols played in the incident.

“I thought my guys were pretty level, to be honest with you, through that whole deal,” Hamlin said of his crew. “I think you could see quite a few times that Joey is right in front of them and no one lays a hand on Joey. I think it’s just a lack of control that Todd has got with his people.”

Gordon said earlier this week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “the direction that our organization has is (to) separate drivers. We don’t want to have drivers beating on each other. Unfortunately, in this situation that happened there, the separation was with too much power afterward and I don’t think the crew member … he was trying to separate the drivers and did so with probably more force than he anticipated and he’s regretful of that.”

Gordon was among those who stepped in between the drivers seeking to keep the situation from escalating.

Logano defended Gordon on Friday after hearing Hamlin’s comments.

“Here are the facts,” Logano said. “I think Todd has great control of our race team and is a great crew chief and does a great job leading all of us. I said it after the race to TV that I probably shouldn’t have gone down there looking for an apology for something he probably wasn’t going to apologize for and I let my emotions get the best of me. That was a mistake on my part. I probably didn’t handle that correctly. It doesn’t make what he did on the race track right, but I think at the same time he will probably play that card as much as he wants, he can run his mouth as much as he wants. I am going to run my race and we will see who ends up ahead.”

Last weekend was the first time that Hamlin and Logano have had issues in this year’s playoffs.

Hamlin chastised Logano at Dover when Logano, running 24 laps down, didn’t move over for Hamlin, who was leading. Hamlin was stuck behind Logano and that allowed Martin Truex Jr. to close and get by to win the second stage.

“All he did was piss some people off and what did he really gain? He didn’t gain anything,” Hamlin said after the Dover race. “He just pissed off some guys that he’s racing with now. So now we’re going to race him extra hard for what? For the reason he didn’t want to go 26 laps down? Anybody would tell you that’s just not a good choice.”

How much did what happen at Dover play a role in how closely Hamlin raced Logano at Martinsville, leading to their contact?

“I would lean more toward racing circumstances, but absolutely I take into account who is besides me at all times and I was not going to give one inch,” Hamlin said Friday at Texas. “I misjudged. The on-track stuff was definitely my fault. There was no intention to run into him or run him into the wall or anything like that because I put myself at a pretty big risk there cutting a tire as well.

“I was just trying to use all the space I could. Certainly if it was a teammate or someone else beside me or just really anyone, yeah, I probably don’t gas it up quite as soon and try to take all that space but certainly all that stuff plays its factors for sure.”

Logano suggested that Hamlin needs to be careful.

“I have nothing to be careful about, he wrecked me,” Logano said. “I don’t race him any differently. I am not sure he has handled this the smartest way so far.”

Hamlin also stated Friday that he will have offseason surgery on his right shoulder for a torn labrum.

“I really don’t know how it happened to be honest with you, but it’s something that has been nagging really for years,” Hamlin said. “I’ve had shoulder issues. It just got to the point where it was really bad and got it scanned and figured out what it was. It hadn’t really affected me in the car at all. That part has really been fine.”

Hamlin said he had a cortisone shot a few weeks ago on the shoulder.

“It was just progressively getting worse over the late summer to early fall,” Hamlin said. “So just a few weeks ago the doctors came and gave me a little bit of relief with that just kind of to get me into the offseason where I can fix it.”

Daytona road course entry lists

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NASCAR’s national series will make their debuts on the Daytona road course this weekend. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck events will be held without any practice or qualifying.

NASCAR is prohibiting drivers from competing in more than one series this weekend on the Daytona road course in an effort to get extra track time. NASCAR states that is to make the event fair for everyone.

Sunday’s Cup race will be broadcast on NBC.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for the races at the Daytona road course 

Cup – Go Bowling 235 (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC)

Thirty-nine drivers are entered for the race at the Daytona road course.

JJ Yeley is in the No. 27 for Rick Ware Racing.

Joey Gase is in the No. 51 for Petty Ware Racing.

Gray Gaulding is in the No. 53 for Rick Ware Racing.

Brendan Gaughan is in the No. 62 for Beard Motorsports.

Timmy Hill is in the No. 66 for Motorsports Business Management.

Reed Sorenson is in the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports.

Click here for Cup entry list

 

Xfinity – UNOH 188 (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-eight cars are entered.

Andy Lally is back in the No. 02 Our Motorsports car after finishing fifth last week at Road America.

AJ Allmendinger, who finished second last week at Road America, is in the No. 16 for Kaulig Racing.

IMSA driver Earl Bamber will make his Xfinity debut this weekend in the No. 21 for Richard Childress Racing.

Brandon Gdovic will make his second start of the season, driving the No. 26 for Sam Hunt Racing.

Click here for Xfinity entry list

 

Truck – Sunoco 159 (Noon ET Sunday on FS1)

Thirty-nine trucks are entered in the race that will be held before the Cup event on Sunday on the Daytona road course.

Alex Tagliani will drive the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Click here for Truck entry list

Silly Season Scorecard: Christopher Bell moves back to JGR

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No surprise that Christopher Bell moves over to the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing next season with Leavine Family Racing being sold and Erik Jones not remaining with JGR beyond this season. Joe Gibbs Racing made the announcement Monday.

While JGR lets the 24-year-old Jones, who has 133 Cup starts go, it brings in the 25-year-old Bell who has made 22 career Cup starts. Jones said before Sunday’s race he was “blindsided a little bit” by JGR’s move.

It’s part of the building momentum of Silly Season. In the last week, Team Penske signed Brad Keselowski to a reported one-year extension and Bubba Wallace said he has an offer for next year not only from Richard Petty Motorsports but also Chip Ganassi Racing.

Here’s how the Cup Silly Season scorecard looks as of Aug. 10.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2021

No. 00: Quin Houff enters the second year of his two-year deal with StarCom Racing.

No. 1: Kurt Busch enters the second year of a multi-year contract that Chip Ganassi Racing announced last season.

No. 2: Brad Keselowski and Team Penske announced a contract extension Aug. 3.

No. 4: Kevin Harvick signed a contract extension in February that will keep him at Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2023 season.

No. 8: Tyler Reddick said in a press conference Aug. 7 that he will be back with Richard Childress Racing next season.

No. 9: Chase Elliott is under contract with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2022 season.

No. 11: Denny Hamlin is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 12: Ryan Blaney and Team Penske announced a multi-year extension earlier this season.

No. 18: Kyle Busch is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell moves from Leavine Family Racing to take over this ride in 2021.

No. 22: Joey Logano is tied to Team Penske “through the 2022 season and beyond.”

No. 24: William Byron is under contact with Hendrick Motorsports through at least 2021.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. enters the second year of a multi-year deal with JTG Daugherty Racing.

No. 88: Alex Bowman will race for Hendrick Motorsports under a one-year contract extension announced earlier this year.

 

Available/possibly available rides

No. 10: Aric Almirola is in a contract year at Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon is in a contract year at Germain Racing.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer is in a contract year to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto is in a contract year at Wood Brothers Racing. He said after the Aug. 9 Michigan race: “I haven’t really talked about that stuff for next year yet, but we’ve just been so focused and head down on digging and trying to make the playoffs and run well. We haven’t even really talked about it, so, hopefully, I stay here for a very long time to come and that’s what they had expressed to me when I came over here.”

No. 32: Corey LaJoie is in a contract year at Go Fas Racing.

No. 42: Matt Kenseth told NBC Sports on Aug. 8 in regards to talks with Chip Ganassi Racing for next year: “We really haven’t had any very meaningful discussions really about any of that to be honest with you.

No. 43: Bubba Wallace said Aug. 9 he has an offer from Richard Petty Motorsports and an offer from Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the No. 42 car next season.

No. 48: With Jimmie Johnson retiring from full-time competition, Hendrick Motorsports has this seat to fill.

No. 95: Leavine Family Racing announced it was selling its assets earlier this week. The buyer has not been announced. Christopher Bell will move to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team for 2021.

Christopher Bell to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2021

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Christopher Bell will drive for the No. 20 next season for Joe Gibbs Racing, the team announced Monday, a decision that was expected with Erik Jones’ contract expiring after this season and it not being renewed. 

“I’m so appreciative of the opportunity I have this year with LFR and I want to finish this season strong for Bob (Leavine) and everyone there,” Bell said in a statement from the team. “At the same time, I’m extremely excited to return to Joe Gibbs Racing starting in 2021. It’s an organization I’m very comfortable with and have had a lot of success with.”

Said car owner Joe Gibbs: “We are excited to bring Christopher into our Cup Series program starting in 2021. He obviously had tremendous success in the Xfinity Series with us and we look forward to his return to JGR.”

Bell drove for JGR in in the Xfinity Series in 2018 and 2019, winning 15 races, before moving to the Cup Series and Leavine Family Racing this season. Leavine Family Racing announced last week that it has been sold.

Entering Sunday’s race at the Daytona International Speedway road course (3 p.m. ET on NBC), Bell is 19th in points. His best finish this season is fourth at the first Pocono race in late June.

Xfinity playoff grid after Road America

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Brandon Brown extended his hold on the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid last weekend at Road America after struggles early in the race.

Brown needed to be pushed back to pit road before the field took the green because of a mechanical issue. He fell a lap down as his crew diagnosed the issue, got his lap back, scored four stage points in the second stage and finished 12th, one spot off his best career finish on a road course.

MORE: Brandon Brown wants to reward father with a special celebration

MORE: Austin Cindric wins at Road America 

Brown’s effort and Jeremy Clements misfortune in being collected in a crash to finish 29th led to Brown extending his lead on Clements for the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid to 53 points. Myatt Snider is 73 points behind Brown. Eight races remain until the Xfinity playoffs begin Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Here is a look at the playoff grid. Drivers shaded in green are locked in the playoffs. Those shaded in yellow are in a playoff spot based on their point total. Drivers shaded in red are outside a spot in the Xfinity playoff grid.