Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: Miguel Paludo on Time Off, Testing And Illnesses

Well, we don’t have a whole lot of racing to talk about since we haven’t been on the track since Daytona. But we did test at Martinsville a couple weeks ago on a Tuesday and Wednesday. We had a brand new truck that we built for Martinsville. There were about four or five of us on the first day and seven of us on the second day, and we were super fast both days. Balance wise, we tested everything in the rear end of the truck and focused on the front end the second day. We got an idea of which way to go depending on what happens for the race. I told Jeff [Hensley, crew chief] that two days of testing at Martinsville, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM was similar to the amount of time we have the whole year in our normal practice sessions at the track all at once. It was nice to be able to test everything calmly without a lot of rushing. That brand new truck was really good, so I’m really looking forward to Martinsville. We have a new sponsor for Martinsville — SEM. I’m really excited about it because it’s a different and new sponsor that I’m looking forward to putting up a great finish for them.

Takes Stock Of NASCAR’s New Stock Car

_NASCAR’s season is only five races old. The new generation car has had mixed reviews but already provided one of the most exciting races we’ve seen in years. As the season heads into its first off week on the schedule, the annual Easter break, Frontstretch spoke to Kevin “Bono” Manion about the car’s progress and other mechanical storylines for 2013. Manion is the crew chief for Jamie McMurray, a longtime fixture in the garage area who first worked with Martin Truex, Jr. on the Cup level._

_Manion touches on last weekend’s race, the track at Fontana and the new car. He also speaks to the new engine alliance Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates has with Hendrick Motorsports and his plans for the off week._

What’s Vexing Vito: Joey Logano At A Crossroad

Much has been made of Joey Logano’s actions at Auto Club Speedway this past Sunday. From his “take no prisoners” dive into Turn Three on the final lap, to going Ivan Drago with his “that’s what he gets” blast after Denny Hamlin went careening into the inside wall – and out of the Series for the next six weeks, Sliced Bread has sliced right into the center of NASCAR attention. Granted, Logano didn’t know the extent of Hamlin’s injuries. However, as of Wednesday afternoon he had yet to reach out to Hamlin to discuss the incident – or wish him well. That changed Wednesday afternoon, finally although Hamlin said that while Logano had reached out to him, and they had exchanged texts, things “didn’t go well. It was unproductive.”

Hamlin Out Six Weeks — Sub Update

Denny Hamlin’s Sprint Cup season will be officially interrupted. After an evaluation by Dr. Jerry Petty, in North Carolina Tuesday Joe Gibbs Racing announced Hamlin will be on the sidelines for at least six weeks with an L1 compression fracture of his back. While the driver won’t require surgery, the risks involved with racing with …

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NASCAR Writer Power Rankings: Top 15 After Fontana

While everyone had Martinsville circled on their calendars, it’s doubtful anyone was expecting the fireworks from Bristol to roll over to California. Like it was written for the Hollywood screen, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin were battling for the win on the final lap. Contact in turn 4 sent both drivers into the outside wall opening the door for Kyle Busch to claim his first win of the season and the first win at California for Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing in the Sprint Cup Series.

Sadler Top Choice To Replace Hamlin

Sources have told the Frontstretch Elliott Sadler has been chosen as the primary sub for Denny Hamlin. All that’s preventing an official announcement, as of Wednesday AM is a few details to work out with sponsor Fed Ex. Sadler, who was long pegged as the likely choice is driving full-time for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series and was scheduled to drive a fourth Cup car in a limited schedule later this season. That Cup announcement has been put on hold due to Hamlin’s injury; ironically, Sadler’s expected fill-in role will serve as an extended audition.

Open Wheel Wednesday: Season Opener Round Table

*New season, fresh start! What are your thoughts on some of the rule changes for this season that give the teams more leeway on strategy and try to take mileage runs off the table? (starting on any amount of fuel, making it anything goes with tires during qualifying, changing race distances)*

Toni Montgomery, Senior Editor: I like it but I wonder how it’s going to play out. Are teams going to go on their own strategies or do you go with the herd?
Huston Ladner, Senior Writer: Anything that encourages more in-race strategizing is welcomed. It gives teams all kinds of opportunities to give different ideas a chance.

Did You Notice? … Back-Breaking Maneuvers, The Perfect Combination And A Secret Success

*Did You Notice?…* The fine line Joey Logano walks now? The 22-year-old was hardly apologetic after breaking Denny Hamlin’s back, literally, with a last-lap incident that, regardless of intention, he felt evened the score.

So much of Logano’s response has been reported; we won’t go into detail on that in this space. But the result of this incident, after Hamlin’s compression fracture diagnosis, is a sobering reminder of the worst case scenario for “Boys, Have At It.” That’s not to say athletes despising each other is a bad thing; hatred, when expressed through aggression on the field, has built the backbone of contests like the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers – Baltimore Ravens rivalry. That passion, borne out of contempt for the opponent, always leaves those games as two of football’s best each year.

Ellen’s NL column

Today’s Featured Commentary NASCAR Rivalries: Ongoing Feuds Keep Fans Watching by Ellen Richardson Although competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has continued to improve this season, the true heat was found on Sunday in the final laps of the Auto Club 400. Watching Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano share sheet metal until one or …

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Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Fontana-Off Week 1 Edition

The Auto Club Speedway has sometimes drawn disapproval because of the distinct style of racing that the venue breeds, but that all changed on Sunday when the Gen-6s visited California.

Kyle Busch won in the Sprint Cup Series’ annual trip to Fontana for his first victory of the 2013 season and the second overall for Joe Gibbs Racing. But that wasn’t the biggest news of the weekend thanks in whole to some current and past JGR drivers.

When is a race winner not the center of attention?

Five Points to Ponder: Learning Curves, Hamlin’s Back and Missed Walls

*ONE: Logano Needs to Focus on Driving not Dueling*

Another week and yet another driver infuriated with Joey Logano. This is becoming something of a theme, isn’t it folks? No one would argue that Logano should stick up for himself — and it’s certainly better than his Dad doing it for him — but the fact is he’s going about this all the wrong way. If you need any evidence of that, just look at his graceless post-race rant on Hamlin including the comment, “…that’s what he gets.” And then his throwing a water bottle at three-time champion Tony Stewart from behind the safety of his pit crew – hardly the move of a big boy now is it?