NASCAR addresses Martinsville race, RFK infraction, Ty Gibbs penalty


NASCAR will look to make changes before the Cup Series returns to Martinsville Speedway in October, a series official told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

The moves will be made after last weekend’s lackluster Cup race there. 

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, addressed that issue, RFK Racing’s infraction and the penalty to Ty Gibbs on “The Morning Drive” Wednesday morning.

A variety of factors combined to lead to the dull Cup race, including temperatures that dipped to 39 degrees during the event and made it more difficult for tires to put down rubber on the concrete in the corners. When rubber is laid on a track, it forces drivers to change lanes. That didn’t happen. 

With drivers stuck in one lane, they ran behind each other more often and experienced aero tight conditions. Also, the constant shifting lessened the difference between good cars and bad cars and that also contributed to the difficulty in passing.


Miller said that series officials had talked to a “fairly large cross-section of the drivers” and others, including Goodyear about potential changes. 

He said that there will be a tire test added for Martinsville later this year. No date was given. There is an organizational test at Martinsville Aug. 23-24 for Cup teams. The Cup race there is Oct. 30.

“It’s awesome having an event at night, there’s a certain flair to that, but I think the cold temperatures, like a cold night is definitely more of a challenge than everyone understands,” Miller said. “I think that played into some of it over the weekend. We’ll just keep getting all the input and make some decisions on next time going back.”


Miller also addressed the issue of shifting in the race after drivers said that the gear ratio needed to be changed. 

“It would take a different (gear) ratio to effectively eliminate the shifting,” Miller said. “Even if we got that top gear exactly at the RPM that everybody desired, it was certainly a little bit low, there would possibly still be the desire — if we got some tires that the pace slowed down — to kind of maybe shift later in the run, but it wouldn’t be every lap. We’re looking at all those things.”


Miller was asked if he was surprised to hear drivers talk about aero issues at the half-mile track.

“I don’t know that we were surprised to hear that, really,” Miller said. “I think that’s been a common theme no matter which race car we’ve had. 

“This car acts different in traffic than the other ones did. Some things about the way it acts are better, other things, I think the teams and drivers are adjusting to. 

“Really part of the design process was to make the wake smaller behind the cars and we have certainly accomplished that. All of the drivers think that either being offset to the left or offset to the right from the car in front of them is much, much better than the old generation of car. 

“Where they are struggling right now is directly behind the other car and trying to figure out how all that works. That was some feedback I got from one of the top drivers that I rely on for feedback, and I think that’s a common thread. 

“It’s just one of those deals where we’re not surprised. There’s always an aero impact. It doesn’t matter what kind of car. Maybe it was a little bit more than they thought. Martinsville is one of those places where there’s a whole lot of following directly behind the car in front of you, which seems to be the area kind of most concern with the wake.”


With the deadline passed for RFK Racing to seek an additional appeal to the penalties imposed for a modification to a single source item on the car, Miller spoke about the matter. 

At Martinsville, RFK co-owner Brad Keselowski said the penalty was for a repair to a tail panel that was not done to NASCAR’s satisfaction.

“The repair policy is very straightforward, any repair that is done is to bring the part back to the original specification,” Miller said. “On this part, that was not adhered to. There were body mounting landings that are a part of the rear fascia that weren’t brought back to the original specifications. That’s a key design feature of the part. The repair policy was not followed. That’s really what it comes down to, a critical dimension of the part was altered.

“As we worked through what the Next Gen car was going to be over that long journey with the teams, one of the things was that the single source parts have to be strictly enforced or we’ll get right back to the place where we were with the other car with constant development. 

“A strict deterrence model was asked for by the folks in the garage. It’s our job to do that. We said we would. A key design element was not returned to its original specification and that’s what led to the penalty.” 


Miller addressed the $15,000 fine to Ty Gibbs for hitting another car on pit road. Gibbs and Sam Mayer were not penalized for their fight on pit road.

“It’s certainly not a situation that we like or they want to deal with after,” Miller said of the fight. “One thing about our sport, I think one of the things that I think is appealing about it is that it’s emotion-filled, it’s high adrenaline, high emotion. 

“A lot of things happened there at the end of the race and some feathers got ruffled. One thing that we have definitely been firm on in the past is not running into people after the race is over — and especially not running into cars on pit road when there are bystanders around. 

“That was really the thing that most put us on high alert with the goings on after the race. We spoke to both drivers in the trailer afterwards, got them both together and kind of felt good about those conversations — this wasn’t going to be something that would kind of manifesting itself between those two along the way. That’s just how we viewed the situation there.”

Sunday Cup race at Sonoma Raceway: Start time, TV info, weather


The Cup Series heads to wine country to compete on the 1.99-mile road course at Sonoma Raceway. This race leads into the final off weekend of the season. After the break, the series races 20 consecutive weekends. NBC and USA will broadcast those races.

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Sonoma Raceway

(All times Eastern)

START: Adam Devine will give the command to start engines at 3:38 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:50 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Drivers meeting is at 2:45 p.m. … Driver intros are at 3 p.m. … Earl Smith, pastor for the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers, will give the invocation at 3:30 p.m. … Tiffany Woys will perform the national anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 110 laps (218.9 miles) on the 1.99-mile road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 55.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying begins at 6 p.m. Saturday

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. … Coverage begins at 2 p.m. on FS1 and switches to Fox at 3 p.m. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and also will stream at SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground — Partly cloudy with a high of 69 degrees and a 1% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Daniel Suarez won his first career Cup race last year at Sonoma. Chris Buescher finished second. Michael McDowell placed third.


Friday 5: Kyle Busch, Randall Burnett forming potent combination

Rick Hendrick hopes rough driving settles down after Chase Elliott suspension

Concussion-like symptoms sideline Noah Gragson

NASCAR implements safety changes after Talladega crash

Dr. Diandra: Brad Keselowski driving RFK Racing revival 

NASCAR penalizes Erik Jones, Legacy MC for L1 violation

Drivers to watch at Sonoma Raceway 

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

NASCAR Saturday schedule at Sonoma Raceway


Cup and Xfinity teams will be on track Saturday at Sonoma Raceway.

Cup teams will practice and qualify for Sunday’s race. Xfinity teams will qualify and race Saturday on the 1.99-mile road course in Northern California.

Sonoma Raceway


Saturday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 75 degrees. Forecast is for mostly cloudy skies, a high of 71 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the Xfinity race.

Saturday, June 10

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.  — Cup Series
  • 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 3 – 4 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (FS1)
  • 5 – 6 p.m. — Cup practice  (FS2)
  • 6 – 7 p.m. — Cup qualifying  (FS2)
  • 8 p.m. — Xfinity race (79 laps, 156.95 miles; FS1, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Alpha Prime Racing’s road woes don’t keep team from competing


SONOMA, Calif. — Alpha Prime Racing owner Tommy Joe Martins laughs. He can. His Xfinity Series cars all are here at Sonoma Raceway.

At one point last week, it was not certain if his team’s cars would make it to Portland International Raceway.

“It was probably the toughest professional week I’ve had of my NASCAR career,” Martins told NBC Sports on Friday at Sonoma.

MORE: Kyle Larson leads Xfinity practice at Sonoma

The Alpha Prime Racing team had both its trucks break down and one of its haulers have mechanical issues last week on the way to the Pacific Northwest.

“We basically sent four pieces of equipment on the road and three of them broke,” Martins said.

For a time, the car Sage Karam is driving this weekend at Sonoma was left in a hauler in Kansas City because there wasn’t room in the dually Martins sent. It had room only for the car that was needed at Portland and other equipment. Karam’s car, which was to be a backup at Portland, was left behind.

“It’s a very helpless feeling when you feel like your stuff is stuck on the side of the road,” Martins said.

He still has one truck still in St. Louis and another in Oregon. Martins estimates the mechanical issues will cost his team about $50,000 when everything is totaled.

Trouble started well before the team left its Mooresville, North Carolina, race shop for Portland.

The Xfinity Series race at Charlotte was scheduled to run May 27. Rain forced that event to be rescheduled to May 29. Martins said the team had planned to send its trucks to Portland on May 28. With the race pushed back to the 29th, the travel schedule tightened.

It got worse.

After the Xfinity race started, rain came. With the Coca-Cola 600 scheduled for 3 p.m. ET that day – after being delayed by rain from Sunday – the rest of the Xfinity race was pushed back until after the 600. That further tightened the window on Xfinity teams to make it to Portland.

The Xfinity race ended around 11:30 p.m. ET on May 29. Alpha Prime Racing’s haulers left the shop around 6 a.m. ET on May 30.

The two trucks traveled together until issues in St. Louis.

The truck hauling the Nos. 44 and 45 cars had engine issues in St. Louis. The other truck kept going until it had mechanical issues with its hauler in Kansas City. The air bags on the hauler failed.

So, Alpha Prime Racing had a truck that worked in Kansas City with a hauler that didn’t and a truck that didn’t work in St. Louis with a hauler that did.

The truck in Kansas City went back to St. Louis to attach to the hauler and take those cars and equipment to Portland. Martins then had to find something to haul the stranded equipment in Kansas City and a driver. He eventually did. A dually left North Carolina for Kansas City. Once there, what fit in the dually was taken to Portland and what didn’t, including Karam’s Sonoma car stayed behind.

Yet, more trouble was headed for Martins and his team.

The truck that had gone back from Kansas City to St. Louis to take hauler that worked then broke down about 200 miles from Portland.

“I laugh knowing that we’re on the other side of it,” Martins said Friday of all the issues his team had transporting cars and equipment across the country.

“We’ve started to make plans and corrections for it not happening again,” he said.

That hauler that was left in Kansas City? It was repaired and transported to Sonoma, arriving earlier this week.

“Our guys are troopers,” Martins said. “Both of our (truck) drivers were just awesome about the whole thing. … They went through hell week as far as driving somewhere, fly back and pick something up, drive again and now are going to have to do the same thing getting back.”

When the garage opened Friday at Sonoma, Alpha Prime Racing had all its cars.

“I don’t think we had any major issues here, so that was good,” Martins said.

The focus is back on the track. Karam was 24th on the speed chart in Friday’s practice, leading Alpha Prime Racing’s effort. Dylan Lupton was 32nd. Jeffrey Earnhardt was last among 41 cars.

After Saturday night’s race, the team heads back to North Carolina for a well-earned weekend off.

Kyle Larson leads Xfinity practice at Sonoma


SONOMA, Calif. — Kyle Larson posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Xfinity Series practice at Sonoma Raceway.

This is the first time the series has raced at the 1.99-mile road course in Northern California. Teams got 50 minutes of practice Friday.

Larson led the way with a lap of 90.392 mph. He was more than a second faster than the rest of the field.

MORE: Xfinity practice results Sonoma

Sheldon Creed was second on the speed chart with a lap of 89.066 mph. He was followed by AJ Allmendinger (89.052 mph), Cole Custer (89.020) and Ty Gibbs (88.989).

Larson, Allmendinger and Gibbs are among seven Cup drivers are entered in the Xfinity race. Aric Almirola was seventh on the speed chart with a lap of 88.750 mph. Ross Chastain was ninth with a lap of 88.625 mph. Daniel Suarez was 16th with a lap of 88.300 mph. Ty Dillon was 33rd with a lap of 86.828 mph.

Anthony Alfredo will go to a backup car after a crash in practice. He was uninjured in the incident that damaged the right side of his car.

Qualifying is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET Saturday. The race is scheduled to begin at 8:20 p.m. ET Saturday.

Anthony Alfredo’s car after a crash in Xfinity practice Friday at Sonoma Raceway. He was uninjured. (Photo: Dustin Long)