Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick state concerns about track prep


The two winningest Cup drivers this season have raised concerns about how traction compound was applied to Kentucky Speedway last weekend, and the president of the company that owns the track said that if drivers have such concerns they “are welcome and encouraged to call or text me directly.”

What happened at Kentucky is a concern because NASCAR heads to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for Truck, Xfinity and Cup Series races. That track and Kentucky are both owned by Speedway Motorsports, the company founded by Bruton Smith and run by his family.

Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin, who each have a series-high four wins this year, were critical this week of traction compound being re-applied to Kentucky Speedway before last weekend’s Cup race.

“I love the Smith family, but they go rogue sometimes when it comes to thinking that they’re in the competition business,” Hamlin said Friday in a Zoom session with media. “It’s disappointing because the information that NASCAR gets from us on track prep and how to prepare the racetrack to put on the best possible racing comes from the drivers who do it themselves, and they know better than anyone. Better than anyone.”

Said Harvick: “Last week we showed up on race day, the PJ1 (traction compound) was put on the racetrack without anybody knowing.”

Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, responded to their concerns in a statement to NBC Sports.

“I know the drivers want to put on the best show for the fans, and EVERY effort we make as track operators both on the track and in the grandstands is geared toward doing right by the fans.” Smith said in the statement emailed to NBC Sports. “Track prep has been happening for decades, and we unapologetically work for compelling competition that will keep fans on the edge of their seats. Our team at Texas is working hard and I’ve got a seat on the Tire Dragon for any driver who’d like to help us out. The drivers are welcome and encouraged to call or text me directly with any concerns.”

A NASCAR spokesperson told NBC Sports on Friday that there is no change to the process of applying traction compound to tracks, adding that drivers are consulted each week and the series has developed a “solid dialogue and process.” The spokesperson also said that if traction compound is re-applied, NASCAR lets drivers know in advance of the race.

MORE: Friday 5: Kyle Busch bewildered by Cup car’s performance 

MORE: Cup starting lineup for Texas

Traction compound is meant to help deliver multiple lanes of racing in the corners, providing more chances for drivers to pass instead of running single-file. It is used at several tracks for Cup, Xfinity and Truck races, including Kentucky, Bristol, Texas, Charlotte, Pocono and Phoenix, among others.

Hamlin is among the drivers who have taken an active role in working with NASCAR on where and when to apply traction compound.

Hamlin said it didn’t take long to see an issue with Kentucky Speedway and where it had applied the traction compound leading into a weekend of racing that included two Xfinity races, an ARCA race, a Truck race and a Cup race.

“The track was prepped in a certain way,” Hamlin said. “We weren’t overjoyed with it to start the weekend, and we saw the Xfinity race, the first couple of races. We had an issue and we really needed to work on it, and the issue is to let that main line run off.

“The only way to stop that one lane racetrack is to let (the traction compound) wear out and with them just going in overnight and respraying that middle lane again before the (Cup) race was just not ideal and there was a lot of people that weren’t happy with it.

We had a four-wide to the finish, that saved the day as far as A, do we have a great race or not? Man, you got to, I really wish SMI in particular would just kind of listen to the guidance in which the drivers and NASCAR give them when it comes to spraying these race tracks.”

For this weekend at Texas, NASCAR stated this is how the track will be prepared:

In Turns 1 and 2, the low groove (approximately 18 feet from the apron) will not be treated. The middle grooves will be treated with PJ1 traction compound and tires will be dragged over that portion. The area treated is about 60 feet wide.

In Turns 3 and 4 at Texas, the low groove (approximately 18 feet from the apron) will not be treated. The middle grooves will be treated with PJ1 traction compound. Tires also will be dragged over that area, which is about 30 feet wide.

NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2


Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.


(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon


Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”



Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.