NASCAR America: Matt Kenseth tests unproven parts, finishes 18th at Kentucky

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Mid-pack racing is not something generally associated with veterans Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth, but circumstances at Kentucky Speedway last week forced them into heavy traffic.

Kenseth is becoming the consummate team player – and as it turns out, the No. 6 car is being used as a test car with him behind the wheel, according to NASCAR America’s Parker Kligerman.

“This 6 car has become – it was said to me – a test car to try things to help the other car and most importantly help the 17 car of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. They are putting parts and things on this car they do not feel are race proven and therefore, if they see good things out of them, they can immediately put them … on the 17 car to hopefully help the 17 car of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. make the playoffs.”

Kenseth finished 19th in the Quaker State 400, which was the first time in seven starts at Kentucky that he finished outside of the top 10.

Larson’s troubles were self-made.

“He missed driver introductions; has to start at the back of the pack,” ” Kyle Petty said. “He drives this thing from the back of the pack up through the field. Is passing them inside, outside – outside on a track where one groove is not very wide.”

And while he salvaged a top 10 finish in ninth, Larson’s average running position was outside that mark with an 11.45.

David Ragan’s 18th-place finish was also notable to Kligerman.

“This was an impressive run for David Ragan and Front Row Motorsports because it’s kind of what they’re trying to do from the start of the season,” Kligerman said. “Bob Jenkins, the owner, made a large investment in the off season, they got a closer aligned with Roush Fenway … and this is the kind of run they want: top 20s.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr. offers advice to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. about Daytona

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After bearing most of the blame for multiple accidents at Daytona International Speedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has some bridges that need repair.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Petty had some advice for Stenhouse Wednesday on NASCAR America.

The first question posed to Earnhardt on Twitter (using the hashtag #WednesDale) in this episode concerned Stenhouse and the proper protocol for reaching out when a driver is involved in an incident.

“If he text messages any of these drivers, that just shows that he’s not truly remorseful.” Earnhardt said.

Before the age of cell phones, drivers would settle their differences at the end of race. Kyle Petty recalled a race in which he intentionally wrecked Dale Earnhardt Sr. after the Intimidator roughed him up at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Afterward, Earnhardt approached Petty and asked what that was all about.

“I just got tired of your (expletive),” Petty said.

“I thought so,” Petty recalls Earnhardt saying. And that was that.

But in today’s age when drivers tend to go their separate ways after a race, technology takes over.

“In today’s world with technology and all that – if you’re gonna call a guy, call him the next day,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said.

“If you wait until the next race weekend, the guy thinks that you’re not going to bring it up,” allowing the incident to fester.

After initiating an accident in 2009 by spinning Brian Vickers at Daytona, Earnhardt knew that it would take a while to rebuild trust among the other drivers.

“For Ricky, going forward, he needs to try to eliminate this from his next plate race,” Earnhardt said. “When he goes to Talladega later in the season, try not to continue this trend. Put a little space between this race and the next time you want to do something stupid. That’s what I always tried to do. If I screwed up, I’d lay low for a while.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

NASCAR America: Erik Jones rocks the flow

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Erik Jones hails from Byron, Michigan – a three-hour, fifteen-minute drive from Mullett Township on the state’s northern shore.

As he stood on the frontstretch of Daytona International Speedway at the conclusion of the Coke Zero 400 with his mullet flowing in the breeze, Dale Earnhardt Jr. proclaimed it to be a victory for the hairstyle nationwide.

“It sure was,” Jones responded. “I was glad to get the mullet into Victory Lane. It was a long hard road to grow this thing back.”

That led the NASCAR America analysts to discuss how Jones’ flow stacks up against some other classic mullets from the past couple of years.

NASCAR America presented its Flow Chart – a comparison of Jones to Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney.

“Chase – let’s be honest – when he puts that hat on and it goes crazy back there, that’s typically when his fans go crazy,” Rutledge Wood said.

Regarding Blaney’s hairstyle from 2017, Wood added: “I don’t know where in Ryan Blaney’s hair adventure last year that was, because let’s be honest it was monumental.”

But Blaney’s mullet fell to Roger Penske’s corporate image at the beginning of 2018.

Mullet heads worldwide don’t have to worry the same thing will happen to Jones.

“(Joe Gibbs) accepts it,” Jones said. “He just kind of lets it go for the most part.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

NASCAR America: Driver-to-Driver with Chase Elliott

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The sons of two famous NASCAR champions sat down in the latest edition of NASCAR America’s Driver-to-Driver.

NBC Sports analysts Kyle Petty talked with Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott.

Petty asked about the pressure of being the son of Hall of Famer Bill Elliott and driving his iconic No. 9.

“What your last name is isn’t going to make you go faster or slower once that race starts, it’s not going to help me drive better” Elliott said. “I have some great supporters. People that don’t like me too aren’t going to hurt my feelings by not liking me.”

Elliott said there’s no pressure to drive the No. 9 since he associates it with his own racing career, from go-karts all the way to the Xfinity Series.

“It’s not because of his past history, though that is why I chose it when I started racing go karts, but since then I feel like I’ve grown with it myself,” Elliott said.

Watch the above video for more, including their discussion about Elliott’s run-in with Denny Hamlin last October at Martinsville Speedway.

NASCAR America: How winning feels after a long winless streak

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Winning is sweet, but it can be even sweeter when you haven’t done so in a long time.

NASCAR America discussed what winning feels like after a long winless stretch, beginning with Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s 2005 victory at Chicagoland Speedway.

The win for Earnhardt came 20 races after his last visit to victory lane at Phoenix at the end of the 2004 season.

“Going through those times when you’re not successful, not winning races makes you appreciate what winning feels like in that moment of joy,” Earnhardt told Nate Ryan. “It really makes you long for it and miss it and need it. I don’t know that we felt like we were going to be in a position to have that. We hadn’t run well enough to feel, ‘Man, a win’s right around the corner.”

But thanks to strategy and having a fast car “when we needed it” Earnhardt led the final 11 laps to take the checkered flag.

“That took a lot of pain away, that took a lot of frustration away, that took a lot of heartache away,” Earnhardt said.

Analysts Steve Letarte and Kyle Petty discussed their own victories that snapped winless streaks. Letarte chose his 2009 win at Texas Motor Speedway. It was Gordon’s first win since 2007 and his first win at Texas.

“Winless with Jeff Gordon is not a good place to be,” Letarte said. “You asked yourself, ‘Would it ever come again? What was gone? Where did the magic go?’ Not only was it a win that we needed, it was a win at a track that he had never won at. A track that was really snakebitten for Jeff Gordon. That made it even more special.”

Watch the above video for more.