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Joey Meier’s tenure as Brad Keselowski’s spotter ends

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Joey Meier announced on Twitter Monday that his time as spotter on Brad Keselowski‘s No. 2 Ford has come to an end after Sunday’s season finale.

Meier has spotted for Keselowski since 2006.

Joey Meier

“Ive (sic) been told my time as the 2 Car spotter has come to the checkered flag,” Meier said in the Twitter post. “I will miss spotting but there will be more Chapters in my life as I continue to be a pilot.”

After he won at Talladega in 2016, Keselowski called Meier an “all-star” for his work as a spotter.

“His communication, his way of kind of verbalizing what he sees, is the key for me to be able to make the right moves on the racetrack,” Keselowski said. “It’s a good 1‑2 punch … He’s been part of three of the four Talladega wins, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”

Keselowski would win at Talladega again in 2017.

Keselowski won three times in 2018 and finished the season eighth in the standings.

AJ Allmendinger uncertain when, where he’ll race next

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. — AJ Allmendinger, making his final start for JTG Daugherty Racing Sunday, says he is not sure when and where he’ll race again after this weekend.

“As of right now, I have zero races planned,” Allmendinger told NBC Sports. “I’ve got nothing. Maybe there are races that crop up over the course of the season. I’ll say for sure, let’s go 95 percent sure, that I definitely won’t be racing a full season in anything.”

The 36-year-old Allmendinger is being replaced by rookie Ryan Preece next season in the No. 47 car Chevrolet.

Allmendinger said he’d like to run the Xfinity and Cup road course races next year. His lone Cup win came in 2014 at Watkins Glen. His two Xinity wins also came on road courses – Road America in 2013, Mid-Ohio in 2013.

“If I could put together a deal to run all the road courses or most of the road courses in Xfinity and Cup, that would be fun,” Allmendinger said. “It’s me, so if there’s a chance to race anything I’ll go do it. We know the way the situation is in the sport, need sponsorship and everything happened pretty late so a lot of stuff was being filled up. Even the stuff that’s not announced we know is full.”

Sunday will be Allmendinger’s 371st career Cup start.

“I think mentally right now with zero races on board I have to prepare that it could be my last race,” Allmendinger said. “Do I expect it to be my last race ever? No, but as I stand right now to prepare for it mentally, I have to get ready for that. There’s a chance it might be.”

He debuted with Red Bull Racing in 2007. He drove for Team Penske in 2012 before losing that ride after 17 races when NASCAR suspended him for violating its Substance Abuse Policy. Allmendinger later said he was given a pill from a friend that he thought was an energy supplement but was the prescription drug Adderall. He later returned to Team Penske to win those Xfinity races. 

He also won the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona and finished third in the Champ Car Series in 2006, winning five races.

How does Allmendinger look back upon his career?

“There’s not a lot of people in this world who can say they’ve won a Cup race, Xfinity races, a Rolex race outright, they’ve won Champ car races and might have won an Indy 500 if my seat belt didn’t come off,” he said.

Austin Cindric to race in Xfinity for Team Penske in 2019

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Team Penske announced Thursday that Austin Cindric will drive the No. 22 Xfinity car full-time next season.

The team announced that MoneyLion will expand its sponsorship and serve as Cindric’s primary sponsor for 18 Xfinity races next year. MoneyLion also will be a primary sponsor on Joey Logano‘s Cup car next year at Talladega in April and at Watkins Glen in August. MoneyLion will be the primary sponsor on Ryan Blaney‘s Cup car next March at Phoenix.

As part of its sponsorship, MoneyLion will give its members 5 percent cash back on NASCAR tickets, at-track purchases and all purchases on NASCAR.com.

Cindric, who has split his time between Team Penske and Roush Fenway Racing this season, is in the Xfinity playoffs. He must win Saturday’s race at Phoenix (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC) to advance to the championship race in Miami.

“I feel like everything I’ve been able to learn and put together has been leading up to this,” Cindric said Thursday night.

Team Penske also announced that it will continue to run the No. 12 Xfinity car on a limited basis in 2019 with Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Paul Menard sharing the driving duties.

 

NASCAR penalizes Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones for Texas infractions

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NASCAR issued penalties Wednesday against the No. 20 of Erik Jones and the No. 12 of Ryan Blaney for L1 infractions following their top-five finishes at Texas Motor Speedway.

Blaney’s car, which placed second, violated Section 20.4.17.6.b in the rulebook, which states all filler panels must remain permanently attached for the entire event.

Blaney was docked 20 driver and owner points. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins was fined $50,000 and car chief Kirk Almquist was suspended for two points races.

Blaney remains ninth in the standings.

There was not an immediate response from Team Penske on if it would appeal the penalty.

Jones’ No. 20, which placed fourth, violated Sections 20.4.h and 20.4.17.8.b in the rulebook, which states that air cannot pass from one area of the vehicle interior to another and the vehicle package tray must remain flat and straight, front to back, with one break.

Crew chief Chris Gayle was fined $50,000 and car chief Jason Overstreet was suspended for two points races.

The team also was docked 20 driver and owner points. Jones left Texas 13th in the standings. He is now tied with Austin Dillon for 15th.

Joe Gibbs Racing will not appeal the penalty.

Those penalties are in addition to the L1 penalty against Kevin Harvick’s team.

In the Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR issued a penalty against NextGen Motorsports for a ballast falling off Brennan Poole‘s No. 35 truck in practice at Texas.

Crew chief Ryan Bell, truck chief Jerry Kennedy and mechanic Patrick Magee have been suspended for the next three points races, which would include the 2019 opener at Daytona.

The team is not entered in this weekend’s race in Phoenix.

NASCAR also issued indefinite suspensions to Vincent Shull and Doug Campbell for violating the its substance abuse policy.

 

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.”