Garage chatter: What everybody’s talking about before Kansas
Oct. 2 news and notes
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Martin quick, but Johnson lurking at Kansas — 3:00 p.m. ET
If final practice is indeed an indicator of who is fast at a racetrack, then rivals better look out – Hendrick Motorsports is fast!
Mark Martin set the pace in the Happy Hour session at Kansas Speedway, running a fast lap of 171.027 mph during his 34-lap outing. Teammate and Chase for the Sprint Cup driver Jimmie Johnson was second quick, setting a personal best of 170.908 mph (he ran a total of 44 laps during the practice). Greg Biffle and Joey Logano kept it from being a Hendrick 1-2-3 in the session, as Jeff Gordon was fifth fastest overall.
The fourth member of HMS, Dale Earnhardt Jr., was 27th best.
Oct. 1 news and notes
Montoya out to a fast start — 2:30 p.m. ET
Juan Pablo Montoya paced the opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Price Chopper 400 practice at Kansas Speedway, leading the field with a top lap of 174.984 mph, which came just as the session was about to end.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Ryan Newman, Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson, Richard Petty Motorsports’ Paul Menard and Montoya’s Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray rounded out the top five.
Johnson was the only Chase for the Sprint Cup driver in the group, with Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards (sixth), Richard Childress Racing’s Clint Bowyer (seventh) and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin (ninth) in the top 10. The other Chasers and their position in the session were: Roush Fenway’s Matt Kenseth (11th), Stewart-Haas’ Tony Stewart (12th), Penske Racing’s Kurt Busch (13th), Roush Fenway’s Greg Biffle (15th), RCR’s Kevin Harvick (17th), Hendrick’s Jeff Gordon (18th), JGR’s Kyle Busch (24th) and RCR’s Jeff Burton (26th).
Kyle Busch goes on tornado watch — 2:00 p.m. ET
Kyle Busch has never really been one to mince words when it comes to offering his opinion on something.
So it really should come as no surprise that he offered his frank take when asked Friday at Kansas Speedway whether he was looking forward to heading to the 1.5-mile oval for two NASCAR Sprint Cup races next season.
“It’s going to be cool,” Busch said. “I think May is a little bit of tornado season. That was maybe a little odd planned, but hopefully we’ve got good shelter and that’s all that matters.”
The race is actually the first weekend of June, but close enough.
Sept. 30 news and notes
Kyle Busch likes his busy race schedule — 1:30 p.m. ET
Kyle Busch has been on a hot streak practically from the moment he debuted in NASCAR.
At 25, he’s a Nationwide Series champion and a winner of 82 races across the three major NASCAR touring series. He’s making his fourth appearance in the Chase for the Sprint Cup – and explains why winning a title eclipses winning races, no matter how many trips one has made to Victory Lane.
“You can win all the races you can win throughout your career and be known as a guy who can go out there and win on a given weekend,” Busch said. “But to win over the whole year, that’s 36 races that you beat everybody else. To be known as a champion is what everybody wants to be known as in this sport. For myself and for Joe Gibbs Racing, that’s what we start the year off looking for – trying to go after the championship.
“Everybody is always talking championship. Other people might well say, ‘Oh well, I hope we can win five races this year,’ but that’s not really what we’re looking to do. We’re moreso concentrated on trying to win a championship.”
He could do that this season. In fact, Busch could be a part of three titles this year. He’s racing for the championship in the Cup ranks, but his Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide team is in the running for the owners title and the Camping World Truck Series team he owns is also in the battle for the owners title.
Busch, who continues to drive in all three series and this season became the first to sweep races all three at a track in a weekend, says that it’s important to him to race as much as possible.
He thinks it helps his Cup effort to compete in the other series over the course of a weekend.
“I think it’s important to race as much as you can race,” Busch said. “I feel like, for me to get all the experience I can get, really helps me. When I come down pit road on Sunday, I already have been on pit road at least four times that weekend with the Nationwide car and/or truck. I’ve gone through the pit stops and the cycles, and it’s experience. The best experience you can get is to be behind the wheel of a race car or truck. For myself, I look forward to racing because I like racing and I like getting that experience.
“When it carries over to Sunday, it’s all the better. When you have good cars, get the experience on Saturday in the Nationwide Series, it helps me for Sunday. You learn about the racetrack and get the different tendencies on how the track or your line is going to change during the race and I try to relay that to Dave (Rogers) on the Cup side. … So I think it helps me a lot to be honest.”
— Rea White
Sept. 29 news and notes
Brian Scott to drive for RAB Racing this weekend — 5 p.m ET
Brian Scott has landed a ride. According to the updated NASCAR Nationwide Series entry list, Scott will be driving the No. 09 RAB Racing Ford this weekend.
Scott and his Braun Racing team parted ways earlier this week. Scott, 22, is leading the series rookie standings and earned three top-fives and five top-10 finishes driving the No. 11 Toyota this season.
— Rea White
Sept. 28 news and notes
What will happen with Bowyer appeal? — 9 a.m. ET
The biggest story this week will take place tomorrow as Clint Bowyer goes through the appeal process for his penalty after winning the New Hampshire Sprint Cup Series race two weeks ago.
I have very mixed feelings about it.
There’s one part of me that feels like Richard Childress Racing might have a little bit of a case, especially once you look at the postrace footage of the wrecker and other competitors hitting Bowyer’s car. We definitely know the rear bumper was broken loose, the quarterpanel was buckled and braces were broken loose. RCR may have a case.
But on the other hand, the case NASCAR has is that the No. 33 car had been warned once (and maybe more than once) about some of these body mounts.
I find it hard to believe the appeal committee is going to rule 100 percent for RCR and that they will take off the penalties, fines and suspensions, but they may actually reduce them.
I’m as anxious to see what happens tomorrow as for any other appeal we’ve had in the past.
I think the goal for all parties is for this to be put to bed by the time we get to Kansas Speedway, so expect a result out of the hearing sooner rather than later. I talked to Shane Wilson, crew chief of the No. 33, at Dover and he’s very anxious to get this past the team. He knows he has a six-race suspension coming if they uphold the penalty, and he does not want this to bleed into 2011.
— Larry McReynolds
Sept. 27 news and notes
Rusty Wallace Racing makes change — 8 p.m. ET
Jason Overstreet will be the interim crew chief for Brendan Gaughan at Rusty Wallace Racing.
Overstreet served as crew chief for current Sprint Cup Series star David Reutimann during his Truck series days, but most recently worked at Robby Gordon Motorsports. His assignment will free up Larry Carter, who was recently hired as general manager at RWR.
Ryan Truex replaces Trevor Bayne at Kansas — 5 p.m. ET
Ryan Truex will replace Trevor Bayne in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kansas Speedway this weekend, according to the entry list.
FOXSports.com reported late last week that a deadline date on an option in Bayne’s contract had passed without action being taken by Diamond Waltrip Racing, a partnership of Michael Waltrip Racing and Gary Bechtel.
Braun Racing, Brian Scott part ways — 2:45 p.m. ET
Braun Racing officials announced today the team and NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Brian Scott are parting ways, effective immediately.
Scott has five top-10 finishes, three of them top fives, in the No. 11 Braun Racing Toyota this season. He currently leads the NASCAR Nationwide Series rookie of the year standings.
“Brian has done a great job this year for AccuDoc Solutions and BigSpot.com,” said team co-owner Harry Scott Jr. “We are very proud of our rookie of the year efforts together and we wish him well in the future.”
Last week, Turner Motorsports announced it is acquiring the assets of Braun Racing and will field the four Nationwide and two original Turner Camping World Truck Series teams this season.
— Rea White
From the editors’ desks … — 11:30 a.m. ET
Well, NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup hasn’t slacked off the pace in terms of fireworks. At Dover International Speedway, those started well before the drivers even got onto the track when Denny Hamlin offered his take on Clint Bowyer’s post-New Hampshire penalties.
That continued with an on-track bump and in-garage argument between Hamlin and Bowyer teammate Kevin Harvick, but not into the AAA 400.
For those who missed an entire week of action, Bowyer was assessed a 150-point penalty and his car chief and crew chief were each suspended for six races after the group’s car was found to be beyond NASCAR parameters at an ensuing inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center. Team owner Richard Childress is appealing the penalty and both he and Bowyer made compelling arguments for their case Friday at Dover.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Hamlin, though, waded into the fray with comments questioning the legality of that team’s cars this season. The remark brought more attention to the issue, and the ensuing fracas which Lee Spencer captured in this story.
Then everyone got back to actual racing.
And that’s when Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson took over. He and crew chief Chad Knaus once more proved that a bad opening to the Chase just isn’t that big of a deal, virtually erasing the setback of a 25th-place finish at New Hampshire. Johnson took the pole position at Dover, then led the most laps and earned his sixth victory of the season. (Highlights) That boosted him back into Chase contention – and should silence all doubts of whether he can win the title or not.
The only question now is, what will NASCAR do if he does manage to win his fifth consecutive Cup championship?
In the Nationwide Series, Kyle Busch turned in a stirring win to set yet another NASCAR record. He topped Sam Ard’s long-standing record of 10 Nationwide victories in a season as he took his 11th trip to Victory Lane in the series this year. (Highlights) Busch, 25, just keeps tallying those wins.
Where does he rank all time? Check this out.
In the Camping World Truck Series, a fresh face of the future – and the latest descendant of a NASCAR star to steal headlines – won his second series race. Austin Dillon, grandson of team owner Richard Childress, took the No. 3 truck to Victory Lane at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
On the news front, the Bowyer penalty and ensuing appeal – which will be heard Sept. 29 – took the headlines. But that wasn’t the only news.
First, the expected move of Turner Motorsports acquiring Braun Racing’s Nationwide Series came to pass. Then, Lee Spencer got the inside scoop on hot young talent Trevor Bayne’s contract status and the interest other teams are showing in the 19-year-old. Then, there was the fallout from the Hamlin-Harvick incident as JGR President J.D. Gibbs weighed in on the issue. And Danica Patrick earned her first top-10 finish in a NASCAR race, though it came in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at Dover, where she finished sixth.
And we’re only two weeks into the Chase. What will happen this week? Obviously, the appeal will be the top news, but it’s doubtful that will be it.
Stay tuned for more news and updates as teams both compete for the title and try to prepare for 2011.
FOXSports.com is ready for the Chase, with complete coverage, photos, analysis and news appearing on our Chase Central page.
— Jorge A. Mondaca and Rea White