Harvick Michigan

NASCAR In Michigan: Kevin Harvick Breaks Through With Downforce Track Win

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Joey Logano, Ryan Newman Clash Over Michigan Incident

Joey Logano and Ryan Newman were shown on ESPN after Sunday's Michigan NASCAR race exchanging words – with Logano getting a light shove from Newman – following an incident in which Logano got loose and spun Newman just after the midway point of the event.

Though Newman didn't hit anything after Logano wiggled and caught the 39 car in the left-rear quarterpanel, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver wasn't happy that Logano sent him spinning in the first place.

Cameras showed the drivers in a discussion, which ended with NASCAR officials stepping in to prevent a physical altercation. Logano appeared to place his hand on Newman to make a point, and it looked as though Newman mouthed "Don't touch me" before pushing Logano back.

Though Newman reportedly declined comment afterward, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver spoke to ESPN.

Joey Logano's comments:

I was asking him why he races everybody so hard all the time. I'm not the only one who says that every week. Of everyone out there, he's the hardest one to pass. I don't understand why.

I mean, there's 70 laps to go at a two-mile racetrack. That's a long ways to go. You know, if somebody races me clean, I race them (clean) back. Dale Jr. did it with me earlier in the race, he passed me and he was trying to pass cars in front of me. I helped him pass them, then I got back to him and he let me go.

That's kind of how this (racing) – I've found – that it works: If you give someone respect, you get that back. But he just races everyone hard. He raced his boss, Tony Stewart, hard. I don't understand it, but he's been doing it a lot longer than me. I tried to talk to him about it, but I don't know. I didn't get nowhere.

There's a time to race. When you're running 400 miles, 500 miles, why do we gotta race each other so early in the race? It's just frustrating when you're trying to get by someone at that point. It wasn't a big deal whether we passed each other or not at that point. Most times, if a faster car is behind me, I let them go and hopefully I get that back later.

You know, I've done with (Newman) a lot – if he gets behind me, I'll let him go. But I don't know what to tell you. I wish I could talk to him and figure it out, but I think we both need to calm down first and then talk about it. 

There are obviously two schools of thought on this one.

First, some people believe drivers should race hard every lap, no matter what the circumstances. But others (particularly those who have been around for awhile) think drivers should use the Mark Martin theory of respectful give-and-take.

Newman is notorious in the garage for being exactly what Logano said – difficult to pass and unwilling to play nice with others.

It depends on how you view racing to decide whether that's a good or bad thing.


Chat Recap: See What Fans Had To Say During The Michigan NASCAR Race

Kevin Harvick picked up an important victory on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, proving he can win on downforce tracks as well as in restrictor-plate races.

Harvick's win helped give credibility to his Sprint Cup Series points lead, which he had gained through consistency but not necessarily domination.

With just three races now remaining until the Chase, Harvick seems to have picked up speed at the right time.

Denny Hamlin – who has been in search of a resurgence – finished second, followed by Carl Edwards.

Check out what fans on SB Nation had to say as the race unfolded on Sunday.


Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Radio Chatter With McGrew Sounds Worse Than It Is

Nearly every week, anyone who scans Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team radio can eavesdrop on a not-so-pleasant conversation between NASCAR's most popular driver and his crew chief, Lance McGrew.

When things aren't going right during a race, the duo often snaps at one another and the conversations can sometimes sound – at least to outsiders – like an all-out fight.

But Earnhardt Jr. said on Friday that his radio exchanges with McGrew sound worse than they really are.

"I have a hard time biting my tongue and always want the last word and all that good stuff," said Earnhardt Jr., who is mild-mannered outside of the car. "And I'm in 120-degree hot car and at the moment I feel like I'm doing the majority of the work. And right or wrong, I'm just saying that's how you feel, whether it's right or wrong."

Earnhardt Jr. said he and McGrew have improved their communication the longer they work together, adding that their working relationship has "survived" a recent rough stretch on the track.

 "I like holding him accountable," Earnhardt Jr. said. "And I want him to do the same to me. I like getting that same pressure. I want him to ask me, 'What was the deal right there? Why did you do that? Why did you make that decision?'

"It makes me a better driver when I put myself in a situation to think the process out and figure out if there was a better way to do it or a better decision to make. I don't like arguing too much but when you're in a hot race car and you're not leading the race by half a lap, you're going to argue. You're not going to be happy until you're just dominating and dominating."

But does it have any residual effect on their relationship? Does Earnhardt Jr. stay mad at McGrew after the race is over?

"I don't even remember what I've done or said after a race," he said. "For some reason you're so plugged into hitting the corner and you forget about any exchange over the last caution, whether it was good or bad or whatever."


Jack Roush Confirms He Lost Left Eye In Plane Crash

Jack Roush returned to the racetrack on Friday for the first time since his plane crash. In speaking with reporters, he confirmed that he lost his left eye in the crash and fractured his back, among other things.

But as everyone now knows, it could have been much worse. Here's a transcript of Roush's comments from Friday:

Will you not be able to fly anymore?

I think it's very likely that I'll be able to fly. I've got to get recovered. I have to go through my recovery. Wiley Post was a one-eyed pilot and there's no restriction. Maybe if you're an airline pilot you can't have one eye, but there's not a reason why I can't fly with one eye.

Do you feel lucky?

I feel very lucky. I've had several bites at the apple here. I'm really proud at the way the organization has rallied. We were gaining in our performance moving from not where I wanted to be in an area of the top 10 into the top five. Robby Reiser and Chris Andrews and Greg Erwin and Bob Osborne and Jimmy Fennig and Donnie Wingo have done a great job keeping the cars going.

Roush Fenway Racing will out-live me, and it will out-live anybody else that is with the company today. We've got the plans in place for that. This was a little test case. How can you do without Jack? Well it's bigger than me. It's bigger than anybody.

The organization has been very strong and we're peaking at the right time of our year. We're approaching the Chase here, with I think there's four races including this one left, and so if we don't have a mechanical error and miss a wreck, we have a good chance to put three cars in the Chase. With the way the cars are running right now, I think that we're in a position to be better for the end of the year than we have been all year.

My point was the momentum for that, the things that were in place, were not impacted by the fact that I had a problem. It happened that I wasn't on my way to a racetrack. It wasn't something silly I was doing erratically or something else that you would say was risky or foolish. It just happened.

From an intellectual, emotional and spiritual perspective, how do you wake up in the morning and say I survived two plane crashes when people don't even survive one?

I survived two car wrecks too, both of them in racing. I've been extraordinarily lucky to have been able to survive and I feel in some ways unworthy. I'm not sure I've done enough yet for the chances that I've had. Maybe that's recognized and they're just giving me more time.

What is the extent of the injuries? Did you have a surgery and what surgery did you have?

I had a damaged left cheek. I had a broken jaw and I had a compression fracture in my back and I've got a back brace for the compression fracture. I have hardware in my cheek. I still have packing in my nose because they say its biodegradable and it will come out on its own. I'm still uncomfortable with the fact that I can't breathe clearly through my nose. Everything will come back and I was blessed to have great vision in two eyes and now I've got great vision in one.

What's the long-term prognosis?

Well, I won't be able to read (spark) plugs in my left eye, but I always use my right eye for that because that's the dominant eye.

Can you just give us the Cliff Notes version of what happened?

I filed my NTSB report today, which is a matter of public record. It speaks for itself. The reality of it – on a trip arrival into Oshkosh, Wisconsin I was put in conflict with the flight plan of another airplane close to the ground, and I was unable to address the conflict and keep the airplane flying. I ground-looped the airplane and I have a compression fracture in my back. I have some damage in my left eye and I've got damage to my left cheek. I'll recover everything but the sight in my left eye.


The Mystery Of Why Jimmie Johnson Hasn't Won At Michigan

Jimmie Johnson has won 52 career races: 39 on speedways, 10 on short tracks, two on superspeedways and one on a road course.

It seems like Johnson wins all the time, everywhere NASCAR goes.

But Johnson, despite winning the last four championships, has a big fat zero in the win column at Michigan.

It's bizarre, really. Johnson has been to Michigan 17 times and only has two top-five finishes. Last year, he led 279 out of the 400 total laps in two Michigan races (the most in both races) but finished 22nd and 33rd after running out of gas.

Yet at Fontana, which is the most similar track to Michigan, Johnson has won five times.

"I would say Sonoma and Bristol were my most frustrating tracks and now this would be the third," said Johnson, who has won at both those tracks this year. "Now that I've gotten those out of the way, I think out of the tracks that are left, this is definitely it."

Johnson only has three tracks on the circuit where he has never won: Michigan, Homestead and Watkins Glen. But he's come oh-so-close at Michigan.

"Last year was so disappointing to lead and dominate both races and then run out of gas," he said Friday. "We've seen fuel mileage bite us here before that and then there were a few races where some tire strategy worked out.

"One, we got beat by two (tires), so the next time we tried two and got beat by four (tires), so we've been all around a victory and just haven't nailed it yet. We're hopeful we can get it done."

Johnson had a sixth-place finish in June at the 2-mile oval, a result which he called "decent."

Is Sunday the day he finally gets it done at Michigan?

"I'm not coming in here with the confidence that I did, say, last year knowing that we led both races and all that," he said. "It's a long race and a track that I really enjoy running on and so does Chad (Knaus). So I feel we'll be good and hopefully we can get that win."


What?! Richard Childress Says Paul Menard 'Has Got What It Takes To Win'

People can convince themselves of many things, and when it comes to Paul Menard, that seems to be the case with Richard Childress.

Childress kept a completely straight face on Friday when he discussed Richard Childress Racing's new three-year deal with Menard, a below-average driver who has gotten elite rides due to the Menards sponsorship he brings.

In essence, Childress said he signed Menard because the driver can be competitive and win in the Sprint Cup Series.

But why not just tell it like it is? It would be far easier to swallow if Childress had just said something like, 'Times are tough and we know this guy isn't that good, but he brought a truckload of cash to our team, so we signed him.'

Instead, we got an attempt from Childress to convince us this was somehow a competition-related decision.

"I think there's more pressure on RCR than there is on Paul to go out and perform," Childress said. "He's proved what he can do this year. Now we have to go out and prove that we can give him the equipment."

Childress is one of the great team owners in history and undoubtedly a future Hall of Famer. Everyone respects this man. But seriously? Come on.

More than three-and-a-half seasons into his Cup career – and with solid teams like Dale Earnhardt Inc., Yates Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports – Menard has exactly five top-10s.

Three of them have come during this season, which has been his career year. But that's only one more top-10 this season than Mike Bliss has – in twice as many races!

What has Menard "proved he can do this year?"

He is 23rd in points. He has finished on the lead lap in 13 out of the 22 races so far.

But Childress sat in front of the media at Michigan and said – with no hint of believing otherwise – that Menard can be a winner in NASCAR.

This is the man who hired Dale Earnhardt! And he's saying that in his evaluation, Paul Menard can win Cup races.

"If you look back at some of the races I've watched over the last few years, he's got what it takes to win," Childress said. "It takes the right place and the right equipment."

Childress publicly presented a similar attitude about John Wes Townley.

The team signed Townley – with his father's Zaxby's sponsorship – to drive in the Nationwide Series this season. But it booted Townley after only a few races and somehow kept the sponsorship for half the year.

Childress isn't stupid. He knows that to keep his team afloat and remain competitive, it needs money. So now twice in a year, he has secured sponsorship from families who have sons that drive.

Unfortunately, that's the reality of NASCAR these days. But don't play us for fools and pretend like this is about racing. That's insulting.

"It's not just because he's got the sponsor that comes along," Childress said. "He's got the drive to come and go out and want to win."

But there are tons of drivers out there who care about NASCAR and want to win. Whether they have the talent to do it is another question entirely.

For his part, Menard was a bit more frank. Used to the snickers and behind-the-back comments by now, Menard said his family's company was going to be involved in racing one way or the other, so they might as well sponsor him.

"If I have to answer to somebody as a sponsor, it's my brothers and my sisters and my uncles and my dad," Menard said. "We can work it out.

"(They ask) questions that any sponsor would ask of their driver, of their team representatives. Luckily, I've got direct phone numbers to every (member of the) board of directors at Menards, and we can sit down once a quarter and talk about it."

I don't enjoy hearing that rides can be bought. But if it comes down to it, I'd rather hear the truth than try to be convinced this is all about competition.


Down The Stretch They Come: NASCAR In Michigan As Chase Approaches

With just four races to go before the Chase begins, it's getting down to crunch time at Michigan.

Last year, Brian Vickers won this race and it propelled him into a Chase spot. Can Clint Bowyer, Mark Martin or one of the other bubble drivers do the same?

Can Dale Earnhardt Jr. win again on one of his strongest tracks?

Or will another surprise driver pull into victory lane?

Find out along with the rest of us on our live blog, which features news, updates, analysis and a live race-day chat.

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