NASCAR America Scan All: ‘Lordy, don’t let us get hung behind him’

Leave a comment

Darlington Raceway is tough to navigate no matter where one is running in the field.

Lapped traffic was a big part of the conversation in last week’s Southern 500 and a spinning Jeffrey Earnhardt contributed to another frustrating night for Martin Truex Jr.

Here are some of this week’s highlights:

  • “Have a fun race tonight. This is a cool place to win – probably one of the coolest places to win.” – Joey Logano
  • “Landon, we do not have a light up sign here tonight; you’re going to have to go off the pit board. … Yeah, we’re going throwback all the way.” – Rick Bourgeios, Landon Cassill’s crew chief
  • “First few laps it’s strong; feels looser from there.” – Brad Keselowski
  • “Just watch this 99; I ain’t sure where he’ll be when you get to him.” – Austin Dillon’s spotter
  • “Lordy, don’t let us get hung behind him.” – Rodney Childers, Kevin Harvick’s crew chief as Harvick ran up on another lapped car
  • “He’s going to be the next caution.” – Chase Elliott
  • “Here we go again, middle of the corner. I mean, come on.” –Truex
  • “It looked like he was texting and driving, to be honest with you.” – Drew Blickensderfer, Bubba Wallace’s crew chief about Clint Bowyer’s accident with Ryan Newman
  • “Like Days of Thunder … I got to scrape the wall, I gotta hit it to miss a frickin’ spinner.” Truex, after Earnhardt’s spin
  • “You beat him. You, 42, 22.” Brad Keselowski’s spotter
  • “Great job pit crew. That last stop was awesome. Thank you so much for that.” – Keselowski

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

Denny Hamlin wins pole for Sunday’s Southern 500

Getty Images
Leave a comment

DARLINGTON, S.C. – Defending Southern 500 winner Denny Hamlin will start Sunday’s race from the pole after posting a lap of 173.571 mph.

It is Hamlin’s 29th career pole and his third of the season.

Kyle Larson will start second after a lap of 173.411 mph. It is his best starting spot for this race. He was followed by Martin Truex Jr. (173.204 mph), Alex Bowman (173.155) and Kyle Busch (173.064).

Truex scores consecutive top-five starts at Darlington. Bowman had not qualified better than 34th at this track before Saturday. Busch will make his seventh consecutive top-10 start at this track.

After qualifying, Truex was asked if he had any more news on his status beyond this season. His contract expires after this year.

“I’ve got no news,” Truex said.

Kevin Harvick qualified 22nd. Crew chief Rodney Childers said the right front tire lost air and that impacted the car’s handling.

Jeffrey Earnhardt spun off Turn 2 and slid down the backstretch before impacting the inside wall in the opening round.

Click here for starting lineup

NASCAR America Scan All: “The dude that started last hit Kyle”

Leave a comment

Short track racing is always filled with a lot of drama. That is even more so the case when one of the Big 3 spins on lap two, collects a sizeable portion of the field and then races his way back into the top five.

That incident highlights the Bristol Night Race edition of Scan All.

Here’s what the drivers and crew had to say Saturday night:

  • “We got a good car. Let’s do it. Let’s win one for the team.” – Kurt Busch on the pace lap
  • “99 came flying by. I don’t know what he was doing.” – Reed Sorenson
  • “Everybody hit Kyle. The dude that started last hit Kyle.” – Brett Griffin, Clint Bowyer’s spotter
  • “Truex ran over the splitter – the nose part.” – Kyle Busch
  • “Oh yeah, we got [expletive] damage right where the hood flap is.” Kurt Busch following his involvement in the Lap 2 wreck
  • “We’re a long way’s away from being average.” – Kyle Larson
  • “We’re faster than everyone but the 18.” – Mike Bugarewicz, Bowyer’s crew chief
  • “I’m kind of worried about that guy behind the 78 (Kyle Busch). I ain’t worried about the 78,” –Brett Griffin
  • “Holy crap; that hurt.” Truex Jr. after getting spun by Kyle Busch
  • “God. Son of a Hell. Damnit. I just misjudged by like six inches, maybe less.” – Kyle Busch

The field had plenty of opportunity to contemplate the NASCAR rule book as the No. 18 drove through the field, with Kevin Harvick’s crew chief Rodney Childers had the final word on the subject

  • “The 18, he can’t run like that without a bumper cover, right?” – Kyle Larson
  • “Well, I didn’t think so,” Chad Johnston, Larson’s crew chief
  • “That no bumper’s got to help, don’t you think? It helps on a street stock.” – Tab Boyd, William Byron’s spotter
  • “I thought you had to have a rear bumper cover. Is that not the case?” – Kevin Harvick
  • “I don’t think so. I think Daytona and Talladega they make you.” – Rodney Childers, Harvick’s crew chief

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

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

Leave a comment

“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.

Long: Martin Truex Jr.’s dominant win doesn’t discourage competition

3 Comments

SPARTA, Kentucky — On a night when Martin Truex Jr. exerted his dominance, led nearly two-thirds of the laps, won both stages and then the race, his competitors left Kentucky Speedway with …

Hope.

Even crew chief Cole Pearn’s eyes bulged at the notion.

Truex’s third victory in the past six events should be a sign that his Furniture Row Racing team is primed to repeat last year’s surge when it won six of the final 19 races on the way to winning the championship.

Truex, who started from the pole Saturday, called the weekend his team’s most complete of the season. About the only thing that didn’t go as plan was when Truex needed to jump from his car as it rolled down the frontstretch banking, shortening his victory celebration in front of the fans.

That Truex had such a dominant performance throughout the weekend should be scary to every team that does not employ Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick.

Yet runner-up Ryan Blaney, while disappointed he didn’t win, could be upbeat about his team’s run. So was teammate Brad Keselowski. And Kyle Larson, who has been one of the toughest foes to the triumvirate of Truex, Busch and Harvick, also could walk away with some good feelings despite a ninth-place finish.

It would be easy to suggest that they’re merely fooling themselves. Truex, Harvick and Busch finished 1-2-3 in the first stage. Truex won the second stage with Busch second and Harvick fourth. Truex’s victory marked the 13th consecutive race either he, Busch or Harvick have won at a 1.5-mile track.

In a sport where the rules are meant to keep the field close, Truex, Harvick and Busch have separated themselves from everyone else.

But Blaney sees the gap closing.

I wouldn’t say we’re frustrated or defeated,” he said. “I mean, I might be a little down just because I wanted to win the race, but you go back and you realize that you’ve made gains and you’ve just got to keep making those.”

Keselowski, who finished third, interjected: “We can see the end of the tunnel, and we’re just 20 yards away. It’s just a matter of getting there, not taking a step back and taking a step forward.”

Of course, those final steps are the most difficult.

Keselowski is heartened based on how far his team has come.

“We’ve been right in that fifth‑ to six‑place range, but I feel like when they drop the green, the leaders just drive away from us, and this week, at least at the start of the race, we were able to run with Martin,” Keselowski said. “ As the race progressed we couldn’t stay with him, but all in all, that’s still as fast as we’ve been on a mile‑and‑a‑half this year, and that’s something commendable for my team.”

The closer one believes they are to the leaders, the more hope grows.

Larson was encouraged that he passed Truex for second with about 90 laps to go before his trackbar failed and his handling went away.

“I felt like I was better than (Harvick),” Larson said of the fifth-place finisher. “I passed (Busch, who placed fourth) a couple of times, passed (Truex) there before that second to last run. I passed him and kind of drove away from him for a few laps until right when our trackbar broke. Like I said, it’s hard to say if I would have had a shot to win. You never know how these races will play out, but I would have loved to have had a shot.”

Larson’s crew chief, Chad Johnston, was buoyed by his driver’s run until the mechanical issue.

“Those guys are fast, so we’ve just got to keep working hard and try to figure out how to get faster and get faster twice as fast as they do because they’re not stopping,” Johnston told NBC Sports. “But I feel like we’ve closed that gap throughout the year.”

The progress these teams have made has gained the attention of Harvick’s crew chief, Rodney Childers.

Harvick won five of the first 12 races but has seen his advantage slip. He finished fourth at Pocono last month but placed behind Truex, Larson and Busch. Harvick was second to Truex at Sonoma and third to Busch and Larson at Chicagoland Speedway two weeks ago.

Childers told NBC Sports that he’s been “trying to be as safe as we can” with the car since the team was docked 20 points and all seven playoff points for its stage wins and race victory at Las Vegas in March. NASCAR penalized the team because the rear window did not remain rigid throughout that race.

“We don’t need any stupid things happening during the races or points taken away or anything,” Childers said.

While he said he felt Harvick was faster than Truex most of Saturday night at Kentucky — the key difference was track position — Childers acknowledged that he might have to adjust his thinking on the car’s setup in the coming weeks.

“I feel like the Toyotas and the Gibbs cars have learned a lot and made their cars better,” Childers said. “Obviously, (Larson) is making his a little bit better. The Penske cars, they’re slowly making progress and trying to catch up to where we’ve been.

“The thing I see with (Optical Scanning Station) though is you’re locked. We knew how to build stuff that we could at the end of the year and it seemed like nobody else did. Now we’re in a position where we’re not really making much for gains and they’re probably making a little bit bigger gains. Like I said, we’re trying to be safe too and not do anything stupid. We might have to ramp it back up.”

If not, others might pass his car. There’s a group that believes they’re coming.

 and on Facebook