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NASCAR takes the teeth out of Furniture Row’s massive power saw

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The use of a massive power saw that could have come from an overstock closet on the Death Star was an inventive way to fix Martin Truex Jr.‘s Toyota.

Perhaps too inventive for NASCAR.

After images and video of the saw in a pit stop went viral on social media during the April 29 race at Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR announced Wednesday that it was mandating teams “only use traditional battery-powered equipment to repair a vehicle on the service side of the pit wall,” including “reciprocating saws, rivet guns, screw guns and drills.”

Cole Pearn, Furniture Row Racing crew chief for Truex, took issue with the new rule via Twitter.

NASCAR declined comment on Pearn’s tweet.

Others couldn’t avoid having fun with it, though.

 

 

Kevin Harvick says NASCAR should share any gambling revenue with teams

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Former Cup champion Kevin Harvick wants NASCAR to share any gambling revenue with teams and not keep the money itself.

The Supreme Court’s decision Monday to strike down a 1992 federal law that banned commercial sports betting has states seeking to allow such gaming as soon as possible and leagues looking to collect money off it.

“I want my team to be taken care of,” Harvick said Tuesday night on his SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show. “That’s really the main thing that kind of falls into line here is something of a share in revenue comes down the pipe and even if it is a 1 percent share of revenue, I don’t want it all to go to the league. I think it should be shared with the teams.’’

Harvick said on his show “Happy Hours” that any revenue would be good for teams and help make them — and their charters — more valuable.

“I want to see a business model that works for the current owners and takes these charters from being what they are today to being what something of an NBA franchise or an NFL franchise (is),’’ said Harvick, who closed his racing team after the 2011 season. “I’m not saying from a dollar standpoint but just from (the point that) somebody that can afford to come in and own a race team to say ‘I want to do that because it’s really not going to cost me that much money and down the road it might be worth ‘X’ as we go further down the line.’

“That’s the point we have to get to if you want to make it a real league and make it so that the charters are worth what they need to be. This would be another example of getting that revenue stream a little bit better than what it is today.’’

The NBA has stated it seeks an “integrity fee” of 1 percent of the amount wagered on any of its events. Other leagues also are expected to seek such payment.

Harvick, who has won a series-high five races this year, said NASCAR shouldn’t be left out.

“If we could do something like that, that would be great for everybody,’’ he said.

Harvick also wants to see other changes to the revenue stream for teams. He noted the TV money that comes into the sport. Currently, tracks collect 65 percent, teams receive 25 percent and NASCAR takes 10 percent of the TV money.

International Speedway Corp., citing leading industry sources, stated in its 2017 annual report that the sport’s TV package is valued $8.2 billion over 10 years. The deal goes through the 2024 season.

ISC stated in its 2017 annual report that it received approximately $337.4 million in fiscal year 2017 from TV broadcast and ancillary rights fees.

Speedway Motorsports Inc. stated in its 2017 annual report that it expects its broadcasting revenue to be about $217 million for 2018.

“I think that there should be a bigger piece of the pie that comes out of the TV money that goes to the teams because that’s really the root of Cup racing,” Harvick said. “If you don’t have the teams, and you don’t have those owners that are in there in the garage wanting to be there, then we all don’t have anything to race.’’

Michael Waltrip Racing folded after the 2015 season. Roush Fenway Racing downsized from four to three teams in 2013 and then cut back to two teams in 2017. Richard Childress Racing went from three to two teams for this season. Furniture Row Racing went from two teams to one for this year. BK Racing filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February and recently listed total liabilities as $37.7 million.

Team Penske grew from two to three Cup teams this year. StarCom Racing debuted with two races last year and is running the full season this year, leasing a charter from Richard Childress Racing.

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Martin Truex Jr. going for first three-peat of Cup career at Kansas

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Martin Truex Jr. is aiming for a weekend of firsts at Kansas Speedway.

The Furniture Row Racing driver will attempt two different trifectas in Saturday night’s KC Masterpiece 400, one personally and another specific to the 1.5-mile track.

Personally, Truex will look to win a third consecutive race at a track for the first time after sweeping last season’s races there.

Kansas represents one of Truex’s best tracks on the circuit. His six top fives in 19 starts is tied with his total at Michigan International Speedway. But his average finish of 15.1 is his 11th best.

“Winning three straight at Kansas would be pretty special,” Truex said in a press release. “We’ve been so good there the past three or four years but also had some heartbreakers after having the best car and not winning. Getting those two last year meant a lot. It was gratifying to get the job done but still feel the track owes us a few more.”

Truex won last season’s May race over Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick after leading 104 laps. He followed it up in the playoffs by leading 91 laps from the pole to beat Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney.

They represented two of his series-record seven wins on 1.5-mile tracks last season.

Before the May race, Truex had led 518 laps at Kansas without a win.

“For whatever reason Kansas has always been a good track for me,” Truex said. “There’s something about the transition in the corners there that I am comfortable with. The balance of the cars I have had there just seemed to make speed. That is why I am definitely looking forward to going there and hopefully repeat what we did last year.”

Like last year, Truex enters the race with one win. He scored it in March at Auto Club Speedway. Since then, the defending series champion has two top fives, but those bookended a four-race stretch where Truex had three DNFs for wrecks and a 14th-place finish at Richmond after a pit stop miscue ended a winning run.

“Our performance so far this season has been up and down a little bit,” Truex said. “But speed wise we’ve been there each and every week. We’ve had really fast cars, and I feel like we’re right there in speed where we were last year.”

The other trifecta Truex looks to accomplish would be a track record.

Treux is one of three drivers who have won consecutive races at Kansas and he would be the first to win three in a row.

Jeff Gordon won the first two events at Kansas (2001-02) and was followed by Matt Kenseth, who won in fall 2012 and spring 2013.

Gordon finished fifth in his third attempt and Kenseth placed 11th in his.

Kansas is one of four tracks – including Charlotte, Dover and Chicago – where Truex has won multiple times.

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First short track win slips away from Martin Truex Jr. on pit road

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Another short track race, another broken heart for Martin Truex Jr.

For the third time in four starts at Richmond Raceway, Truex led the most laps, and it didn’t result in victory.

The Furniture Row Racing driver, making his 450th Cup start and his 75th on a short track, saw his shot at winning the Toyota Owners 400 vanish on pit road.

After leading 121 laps from the pole, Truex lost the lead to Kyle Busch on a pit stop with 30 to go in the scheduled distance.

Truex was in second when the caution waved with nine to go in the scheduled distance. But when the dust settled, Truex found himself in 11th.

A problem with the jack as his team changed left-side tires was the culprit. After having to pit again under another caution, Truex ended the night in 14th.

“Pretty disappointed that we didn’t get at least a chance,” Truex told Fox. “It’s unfortunate, but I don’t know what we have to do to win one of these short-track (races) and get everything to go the way we need it to. Tonight, we beat ourselves, so that’s unfortunate. The guys did a really good job with the race car. We were awful at the start of the race, and I thought we were really in trouble. Just fought all night long and tried to stick with it and make good adjustments and put ourselves in position to try to win another one and just came up short.”

In Sept. 9 playoff race at the 0.75-mile track, Truex led 198 laps before crashing in overtime. In the September 2016 event, he led 193 laps before finishing third to Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

In his 75 short-track starts, Truex has earned eight top fives. The last two have come in his last two trips to Martinsville Speedway.

Friday 5: Could further limit on Cup drivers in Xfinity take place?

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For the second week in a row, the NASCAR Xfinity Series will run a race without any drivers who score points in the Cup series.

Cup regulars are barred from competing in Dash 4 Cash races, which pay $100,000 to the top Xfinity drivers in each of four events.

The result last weekend at Bristol was a race where Xfinity drivers battled for the win and to be eligible for the Dash 4 Cash bonus tonight at Richmond Raceway. Ryan Preece won the race and the bonus at Bristol. He isn’t entered for tonight’s race. Competing for the Dash 4 Cash bonus will be Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler, Spencer Gallagher and Daniel Hemric.

Along with Dash 4 Cash races, any driver who scores Cup points is barred from competing in the final eight races of the Xfinity season (regular-season finale and seven playoff races). Cup drivers with more than five years of experience are limited to seven Xfinity races in a season.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, hinted earlier this week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that more changes could be made to limit Cup driver participations in Xfinity races.

“We’ll continue to monitor what do our fans think, what do our partners think in terms of what they’re seeing on the race track and the storylines,’’ O’Donnell said.

“It’s one thing to say we like this, but fans need to turn out, ratings need to be there and those sorts of things. Only one race, but we saw some really good indictions in terms of the TV rating for that event. That’s something that we’ll continue to monitor, but our gut tells us that’s the direction we want to continue to go, even more so in 2019 and beyond.’’

2. Dominance

Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick have ruled the beginning of the season, combining to win five of the first eight races and finishing runner-up four times.

The two also have combined to lead 37.2 percent of the 2,645 laps run this season.

Busch heads into Saturday night’s race at Richmond having scored six consecutive top-three finishes, including back-to-back wins at Texas and Bristol.

The last time two drivers won three Cup races in a row in the same season was 2015 when Busch won Daytona, New Hampshire and Indianapolis, and Joey Logano won Charlotte, Kansas and Talladega in the playoffs.

3. The race within the race

While multi-car teams garner much attention, single-car teams shouldn’t be ignored.

Here’s a look at how single-car teams have performed relative to each other in the first eight races of the season.

Not surprisingly, Furniture Row Racing and Martin Truex Jr. have been the top-finishing single-car team in five of the first eight races. Darrell Wallace Jr.’s Richard Petty Motorsports team has been the top finishing single-car team twice, and the Wood Brothers and Paul Menard have been the top-finishing car in class once.

Menard has finished second among single-car teams five times. Wallace, Leavine Family Racing’s Kasey Kahne and Germain Racing’s Ty Dillon have each finished second in class once.

The last two races have been good to single-car teams. Nine single-car teams finished in the top 22 at Texas, led by Wallace’s eighth-place finish, Dillon’s 13th-place finish and Matt DiBenedetto placing 16th for Go Fas Racing.

Three single-car teams placed in the top 20 at Bristol — Menard was 13th, Wallace 16th and Landon Cassill gave StarCom Racing its best career finish at 20th.

4. No need for announcement

When teams announce long-term sponsor extensions, it can come with news of an extension to the driver’s contract to match that time.

The news this week that Roush Fenway Racing had extended sponsor deals through 2021 with Fastenal, Fifth Third Bank and Sunny D didn’t include any news about Stenhouse’s contract.

Didn’t need to.

“Ricky’s contract was already extended that far and we didn’t need to do anything else on that front,’’ Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing, told NBC Sports.

5. HUGE news!

Matt Tifft wrote those words in a tweet this week followed not by a sponsor announcement or anything related to racing but that doctors say the area of his brain where a low-grade tumor was removed in July 2016 is stable. He now only needs to have an MRI checkup every six months instead of sooner.

Tifft enters tonight’s Xfinity race at Richmond 11th in the points.

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