Long: Martin Truex Jr. joins long list of sparring partners for Joey Logano

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Martin Truex Jr. “had a feeling” what was to come as he entered Turn 3 on the final lap of Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway.

With a win and a place in the championship race in Miami at stake, that bumping in short-track racing on the last lap is generally accepted and Joey Logano was behind him, Truex knew what was next.

He didn’t wreck after the contact from Logano but also didn’t win, later calling Logano’s move a “cheap shot.” Logano said the winning move was a “classic bump and run.”

Pushed around early in his Cup career, Logano has maintained an aggressive posture on the track even if many of his competitors have not liked his driving style at one point or another.

Truex just becomes the latest to a long line of sparring partners for Logano:

Ryan Newman at Michigan in 2010

Kevin Harvick at Pocono in 2010

Denny Hamlin at Bristol in 2013

Tony Stewart at Auto Club in 2013

Hamlin at Auto Club in 2013

Harvick in the Sprint Unlimited in 2015 at Daytona

Matt Kenseth at Kansas in the playoffs in 2015

Kenseth’s retaliation at Martinsville in 2015

Kyle Busch throwing a punch at Las Vegas in 2017

Since the last lap Sunday, the question has been asked if Truex is too nice on the track. It’s a point NBC Sports analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. mentioned after the race and one that NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan examined this week and noted how maybe it’s not such a bad thing Truex is the way he is.

That’s not been a discussion with Logano. People know how he drives. Even though he’s in position to win his first Cup title, he drives with the urgency of one who could be competing in their last race. It’s a situation Logano felt he was in during the 2012 season when Joe Gibbs Racing decided to replace him with Matt Kenseth for the next season.

Although 22 at the time, Logano’s career seemed at a crossroads. He’d won two races in 147 starts and struggled with an elite organization. He later conceded he didn’t know where his career was headed at the time. Car owner Roger Penske signed the young driver and a new team restored Logano’s confidence.

While much is made that Truex has won 17 races since joining Furniture Row Racing in 2014, Logano has won the same number of races for Team Penske in the same time period. The lone difference between the two is Truex won the championship last year.

Even though Truex, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch have dominated this season, a one-race battle for the championship could see Logano crowned two years after he finished runner-up and a year after he failed to make the playoffs.

“I remember the first Chase at the time that I made,” Logano said. “Jimmie Johnson said that it’s 10 weeks of hell. I told him this year, I said, ‘No, missing the whole thing is 10 weeks of hell. Not being in it is way worse.’ I don’t want to feel that feeling again, not at all. That is not a fun time.”


Easily overlooked in Joey Logano’s win was how his revamped pit crew played a key role.

Logano gained eight spots over three pit stops Sunday, twice taking the lead. He also retained the lead once and retained second place another time.

Team Penske moved jackman Graham Stoddard from Ryan Blaney’s crew to Logano’s crew after Blaney was eliminated from title contention at Kansas.

“When we got to a position where we had one car left that had an opportunity to race to Homestead, everybody at the shop and the athletic department came forward and said, ‘How do we make our best pit crew?’ It’s a testament to how closely our teams work together,” crew chief Todd Gordon said. “When you make a change like that, personalities sometimes don’t … click, chemistry isn’t built right off, you don’t have all the potential you had.

“Our groups worked together, they practiced together, they focused together. Kudos to (crew chief) Jeremy (Bullins) and Ryan Blaney for making the sacrifice to put this kind of best foot forward we could.”

Consider this one of the advantages of having only one team car left in the playoffs, something Stewart-Haas Racing can’t do with all four cars still in title contention.


Martin Truex Jr.’s runner-up finish continued an odd trend. His third-place finish was his 19th top 10 of the season. All of those finishes have been top fives. He’s not had a finish between sixth and 10th this season.

No driver has ever finished a season with at least 19 top 10s that were all top fives.

The last driver who had 19 top 10s that were all top fives at one point in a season was Jeff Gordon in 1997. He scored his first top 10 that wasn’t a top five in the 26th race of that season.


Joey Logano’s win prevents Stewart-Haas Racing from placing all four of its cars in the championship race in Miami.

This is the second time since the elimination format that an organization had all four cars in the Round of 8. Joe Gibbs Racing placed all four cars in this round in 2016. Two drivers made it to Miami but none won. Jimmie Johnson won his seventh Cup crown that season.


Even with Ally Financial signing to be the primary sponsor of Jimmie Johnson’s car for every race in 2019 and ’20, Hendrick Motorsports is still looking for additional funding for that car.

“There’s still some associate (sponsorship) on the car and my endorsement opportunities,” Johnson said before Sunday’s race at Martinsville. “I happen to have a few of my relationships run to the end of their contracts this year. I’m looking to any and all and of course, I can’t make any of those moves until we know what our primary is so there is not a conflict.

“The neat thing that has emerged about this partnership (with Ally Financial) is that … the way they go about things it’s a lifestyle brand although it’s a bank and a finance place. I feel this is really a good fit and they really want to support me and things I’m into. From a primary standpoint, this is a home run and it can only get better from here if I can loop in either an endorsement or associate sponsorship from there.”

NASCAR America Scan All: ‘That’s right Rowdy Nation: all for you, baby’

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Mood shifts highlighted the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway

Kyle Busch was forced to start at the back of the pack after making an unapproved adjustment to the fenders of his Toyota that he flattened in qualifying.

Track position is critical to how the car behaves and the driver’s level of confidence.

“The separation of three and four is just absolutely horrendous. That’s where we’re going to get beat tonight,” Kyle Busch said during the opening segment.

“Haven’t even got a chance to adjust on it yet, buddy,” crew chief Adam Stevens replied. “Thought you’d be a little more positive than that.”

It took about three hours, but Busch finally found his positivity when he flashed under the checkers ahead of the field.

“Hell yeah, Richmond sweep boys. That’s the way you do it there,” Busch said.

He also had a few choice words for his fans: “Being able to start dead last. Come up through the field and win this thing. That’s right Rowdy Nation: all for you, baby.”

Here are some of this week’s highlights:

  • “We got a penalty. We got a stop-and-go here, gotta come to pit road.” – Erik Jones’s spotter
  • “For what?” – Jones asked
  • “I believe something was on the deck lid.” – Jones’ spotter replied
  • “Inexcusable; absolutely inexcusable.” – Jones
  • “It’s so loose. Literally plowing the center. The worst we’ve been since the beginning.” – Denny Hamlin
  • “Now boys, that’s what I’m talking about. Way to step up.” – Austin Dillon
  • “He did that [expletive] on purpose too. He did it on purpose. He had a black flag at the line, just so you know.” – Jeffrey Earnhardt’s spotter after the No. 96 was spun by Matt Kenseth
  • “The 6 just wrecked him so he didn’t have to pit under green.” – Ryan Blaney
  • “We didn’t need that.“ – Jeremy Bullins, Blaney’s crew chief
  • “My bad, drug up the splitter and hit him. I’m sorry about that.” – Matt Kenseth
  • “Good job guys; solid night.” – Kevin Harvick after finishing second
  • “I don’t know if we could’ve run with them if we had track position, but good adjustments.” Martin Truex Jr. after finishing third
  • “Hands down we could’ve. Clearly we had the best car.” Cole Pearn, Truex’s crew chief

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

NASCAR America Scan All: ‘Three in a row at Vegas. Cha-ching, baby’

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In NASCAR, drivers have to be both lucky and good – something that Kyle Busch and Adam Stevens learned at Las Vegas.

After spinning on Lap 233 while running 18th, Kyle Busch was lucky that his splitter did not get torn off the car. Unfortunately, the right front tire went down in that incident.

“It’s not going to stay together,” Busch said as he limped around the track back to the pits. “We’re gonna [expletive] go a lap down.”

“There’s nobody one lap down here, so we can afford to go one down,” Stevens replied.

Their luck held. On Lap 247, teammate Denny Hamlin spun into the grass at almost the exact spot, but his splitter dug into the grass and was ripped from the car.

“We’ll be the Lucky Dog here,” Stevens told Busch over the radio. “We have a set of stickers left. I don’t think hardly anybody on the lead lap has a set of stickers.”

With fresh tires, Busch charged up to seventh.

Here are some of this week’s highlights from Scan All:

  • “Championship run starts now. We’ve got a good car; something we can win with today. Give ourselves a good shot in Miami.” – Joey Logano
  • “I am a [expletive] 10 tight. I don’t know what we’re doing to this thing, but we might as well [expletive] start over.” – Kyle Busch
  • “Listen to me. I know it’s frustrating, but we are right in the middle of this thing.” – Jeremy Bullins, Ryan Blaney’s crew chief said after Blaney and Aric Almirola made contact on the track
  • “I know. I’ll calm down.” – Blaney
  • “No you won’t, but it’s ok. I still love you.” – Bullins
  • “It don’t matter if I speed, slide into the box. It don’t [expletive] matter. We’re going to get our [expletive] kicked when we get to the pit box.” – Austin Dillon
  • “Hey. Listen here. These guys know they were slow, ok? They know. We’re talking about it.” – Danny Stockman, Dillon’s crew chief
  • “I love everybody on this team, but we’re not going to have a shot doing this.” – Dillon
  • “Guess we know what’s wrong. Piece of [expletive] tires.” – Kevin Harvick
  • “If we could have had the lead, we’d of been fine. I just got to wait for it to come to me.” – Martin Truex Jr.
  • “Three in a row at Vegas. Cha-ching, baby.” – Brad Keselowski’s spotter

For more, watch the video above.

(Editor’s Note: Danny Stockman was the crew chief for Austin Dillon this week instead of Justin Alexander. We regret the error.)

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NASCAR America Scan All: Pit road problems, bump-and-run combine for Harvick’s win

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“Just get me a good pit stop,” Aric Almirola asked his crew coming down pit road late in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

“10-4. You got it,” his crew chief John Klausmeier replied in this week’s edition of NASCAR America’s Scan All.

He didn’t get the pit stop he wanted and restarting the race may have been what cost Almirola his first win of 2018 as he was beaten off pit road by two of the most powerful racers in the field: Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

Other highlights included:

  • “All is good. Good changes. We’re back to where we started on track bar.” – Kurt Busch
  • “The water out from underneath the walls on the straightaway getting into the corners is not very nice.” – Kyle Busch
  • “That’s why I’ve been staying away from the wall.” – Kevin Harvick
  • “You’ve got to be like 100 percent every inch of the race track to not slip.” – Kyle Busch
  • “We need a better line of communication.”—Ryan Blaney
  • “I don’t know why he stopped, but if I’d of let you go, you would have hit him right in the door.” – Jeremy Bullins, Blaney’s crew chief
  • “Can we work on it, or are we done?” – Clint Bowyer
  • “Eight to go. Do what you got to do to win.” – Rodney Childers, Harvick’s crew chief
  • “Rubbin’ is racin’ bud. Go get him.” – Adam Stevens, Kyle Busch’s crew chief
  • “P8. Sorry everybody for completely pissing away a chance to win that one. Unexcusable to have something like that happen under green” – Billy Scott, Kurt Busch’s crew chief
  • “We live as a team, we die as a team.” – Kurt Busch

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

NASCAR America Scan All: ‘Basically, the 78 faked us out’

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When Martin Truex Jr. crew chief Cole Pearn faked out Kevin Harvick crew chief Rodney Childers on an aborted pit stop during stage three of the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Sonoma Raceway, the topic was on everyone’s lips.

Including the driver and crew chief of the No. 4.

“I kind of let everyone down,” Childers said while Truex headed for Victory Lane.

“It’s all good man. All good,” Harvick replied. “Give her hell, man. That’s all that matters. Stuff happens.”

Other highlights from Scan All include:

  • “Damnit; blew it up. That’s on me guys.” – AJ Allmendinger
  • “I just don’t understand how I can try and take care of my tires and still be the worst car on long runs here.” – Kyle Larson
  • “Yeah, that makes two of us.” – Chad Johnston, Larson’s crew chief
  • “I have a power steering problem. The [expletive] broke. Oh no, it’s locking up.” – Ryan Blaney
  • “What else can we do, besides ride it out. If we go behind the wall, you’re screwed either way.” Jeremy Bullins, Blaney’s crew chief
  • “Good car. Driver needs to step up to it. I’ll be better at Watkins Glen” – Bubba Wallace
  • “Stay out Martin, stay out, stay out. Go another nine more Martin” – Cole Pearn
  • “Basically, the 78 faked us out. They decided to run seven or eight more laps. Kind of screwed us here a little bit, but we’ll make the best of it.” – Rodney Childers

For more, watch the video above.