DOVER, DE - MAY 15: Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Wiley X Sunglasses Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on May 15, 2011 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

NASCAR At Dover: Matt Kenseth Wins With Two-Tire Pit Strategy

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NASCAR Dover Point Standings Update: Matt Kenseth's Win Results In Big Gain

Matt Kenseth's victory in the FedEx 400 at Dover on Sunday helped him feel much more confident about a potential spot in NASCAR's Chase.

That's not just because Kenseth jumped four spots to sixth in the Sprint Cup Series point standings; but also, Kenseth's victory was his second of the season – which probably assures him of at least a wild-card position if he needs it.

Kenseth was Sunday's biggest gainer in the points, with Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon all moving up three spots apiece.

The news wasn't good at all for AJ Allmendinger. After a blown engine, Allmendinger dropped a series-high five spots in the point standings, all the way down to 16th. Other drivers with tough days included Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano, who each lost three positions.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings after Dover:

  1. Carl Edwards
  2. Jimmie Johnson -24
  3. Kyle Busch -37
  4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -52
  5. Kevin Harvick -54
  6. Matt Kenseth -74
  7. Ryan Newman -76
  8. Clint Bowyer -80
  9. Kurt Busch -80
  10. Tony Stewart -88
  11. Mark Martin -92
  12. Greg Biffle -105
  13. Denny Hamlin -112
  14. Jeff Gordon -117
  15. Juan Pablo Montoya -120
  16. AJ Allmendinger -121
  17. Paul Menard -125
  18. Kasey Kahne -130
  19. Martin Truex Jr. -134
  20. Marcos Ambrose -135
  21. David Ragan -146
  22. Jamie McMurray -149
  23. Jeff Burton -158
  24. Brad Keselowski -165
  25. Bobby Labonte -165
  26. David Reutimann -172
  27. Brian Vickers -178
  28. Joey Logano -178
  29. Regan Smith -190
  30. David Gilliland -214
  31. Dave Blaney -242
  32. Casey Mears -248
  33. Robby Gordon -272
  34. Andy Lally -289
  35. Tony Raines -307
Owner points: Robby Gordon's No. 7 car remained 35th in owner points, seven points ahead of the No. 71 TRG Motorsports car.
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Four-Tire Pit Call Results In Disappointment For Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson

Together, the trio of Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson combined to lead 353 of the 400 laps at Dover on Sunday.

And together, the drivers with the best three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars throughout the race left Delaware with a collective zero top-five finishes.

Each of their crew chiefs had instructed the pit crews to change four tires on the final pit stop with 34 laps to go. After all, though the rubber buildup seemed to be an issue, 34 laps was a long time to overcome cars on old tires with better track position.

At least that was the thinking. It turned out to be wrong.

"So many (teams) took two and a couple stayed out (with no tires)," said Johnson, who led a race-high 207 laps but finished ninth. "And if you just look at the numbers, the four-tire guys couldn't get back through there. It was one of those deals."

Johnson said he and crew chief Chad Knaus didn't think so many teams would opt for two tires. But by the time he left pit road and saw all the cars in front of him, Johnson knew "we were in trouble."

"Looking back, it is easy (to say it was the wrong call)," Johnson said. "At the time, we had done four (tires) all day and we saw some two yesterday and it didn't pan out. Four looked like the (right) call, so I have his back, it is no big deal."

Bowyer, who finished sixth after leading the last 29 laps until the pit stop, said he still had confidence his four fresh tires could overcome the older rubber in front of him.

"Obviously, probably two tires may have won the race right there," Bowyer said. "But when (crew chief Shane Wilson) said, 'Four' and that many guys stayed out or were on two, I really thought we would be able to get back up through them, especially as greasy and slimy as the track was on restarts. But it just didn't."

Edwards, who finished seventh, said he also thought "we would have been able to march up through there" and said he didn't blame crew chief Bob Osborne "one bit."

"I thought the race would be between Clint and I," Edwards said. "I did see a couple cars go fast early on two tires, but I really felt we were going to have something. ... You can't look back, you have to look forward."

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Dover Tire Rubber Caused Issues For NASCAR Drivers; What Happened?

During Sunday's NASCAR race at Dover, the Sprint Cup Series drivers repeatedly struggled with an excess amount of rubber on the 1-mile concrete surface.

But at the end, the winning teams showed that the tires weren't wearing out very much – Mark Martin didn't even take tires for the last 70 laps.

So why was there so much rubber on the track if the tires were staying relatively intact?

Here's what happened: Over the last several Dover races, drivers have noticed that this particular Goodyear tire lays rubber in a way that doesn't go well with the track.

At most other tracks, the rubber "marbles" come off the tires and find a resting spot out of the racing groove near the wall. But at Dover, the marbles from the current tire tend to roll back down into the middle of the track.

So on restarts, the drivers would then run the marbles over and squash them into the track and the existing hot rubber, which made it even greasier and more slippery than usual.

Here's a sampling of what the drivers had to say about the racing conditions and the rubber:

Matt Kenseth: "That rubber was awful. ... The sun affected the rubber more than the concrete and it got really slick. It was a challenge, and we had our hands full all day."

Mark Martin: "It was almost dangerous. Before that last caution came out, I felt like it was dangerous. I just didn't feel like I could pass anyone without getting in a wreck; unless they allowed you to clear them. You couldn't run side-by-side."

Kyle Busch: "You're sawing on the wheel back and forth, left and right, trying to miss the rubber – sliding over the rubber, not meaning to. As some of us put the term, your butt and elbows were up in the air, man."

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: "It just made for a scary, scary entrance (into the turns). Just real loose in. Everybody had the same problem. You had to dodge these patches, you know? That's just annoying."

Brian Vickers: "Great job by Goodyear. I'm sure some guys complained about it, but I love it. I love it when the track lays down rubber like that. Makes it slip and slide and you have to move around and find a groove."

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NASCAR Results: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Describes 12th-Place Dover Finish As 'Not Terrible'

In the aftermath of Sunday's NASCAR race at Dover International Speedway, this was the question for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the other drivers who grappled with pit strategy on the final stop: What was the right call?

Earnhardt Jr.'s crew chief, Steve Letarte, walked up to the driver just as a reporter was asking about the team's strategy – two tires on the last pit stop.

"He wants to know if that was the right call," Earnhardt Jr. told Letarte, motioning toward the reporter.

"Rights?" Letarte asked, referring to his decision to take right-side tires only on the final pit stop.

The driver nodded.

"I don't think it was the wrong call," Earnhardt Jr. said helpfully.

"No, I think with (taking) four tires, we would have been worse," Letarte said.

"We got too tight and the balance, we weren't sure..." Earnhardt Jr. said.

"Yeah – it was the right call, wrong balance," Letarte added. "Four tires, heck – the 48 barely got us. We would have been stuck (back in traffic)."

"Yeah, I know, man," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I'm with you."

Letarte then retreated into the team's hauler, and Earnhardt Jr. remained sitting on the stoop. He looked somewhat pleased with how the day had gone.

"We got out-ran by the cars that beat us all day," he said matter-of-factly. "We could have ran eighth to 12th – and we finished 12th. Not terrible, and an improvement here."

"Terrible" is exactly the way he described his last few trips to Dover, so "not terrible" was more than just a slight improvement. Heading into this weekend, he only had one finish better than 20th in his last six Dover races.

"I felt good, because I was competitive," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I saw that we were running competitive and raced around some guys that are going to make the Chase."

Earnhardt Jr. is well on his way to making the Chase, too. He's fourth in points and 40 markers safely between himself and the 11th-place driver, Mark Martin.

There was one hiccup: During the middle portion of Sunday's race, Earnhardt Jr. said he lost his concentration and scrubbed the Turn 1 wall.

"That might have hurt my car more than we know," he said after doing his customary walk-around inspection of the vehicle following the race. "We might have knocked some speed out of it from there on out."

Earnhardt Jr. – who reiterated his dislike for concrete tracks – said the aforementioned two-tire call and the late air pressure adjustments were somewhat of a crapshoot. He criticized his own performance on the final restart, which saw him start third but quickly drop to seventh, and said he "just got beat at the end pretty bad."

"(The pit calls) could have went either way, but we deserved to finish around eighth or 12th today," he said. "So we'll take it."

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NASCAR Dover Results: Matt Kenseth Wins With Two-Tire Pit Call

Sunday's FedEx400 Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway showed why crew chiefs get paid the big bucks.

With an excess of rubber buildup on the bottom groove that made it difficult for drivers to pass all day, Matt Kenseth's crew chief Jimmy Fennig called for just two tires on the final pit stop with 34 laps remaining.

Though it seemed like an iffy call at the time, it proved to be the right one: Kenseth went on to win, and the best cars all day long – Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer – were all denied top-three finishes.

Stay tuned for more on this story.

NASCAR Dover Sprint Cup Series results from today:

  1. Matt Kenseth
  2. Mark Martin
  3. Marcos Ambrose
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Brian Vickers
  6. Clint Bowyer
  7. Carl Edwards
  8. Martin Truex Jr.
  9. Jimmie Johnson
  10. Kevin Harvick
  11. Jeff Burton
  12. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  13. Brad Keselowski
  14. Kurt Busch
  15. David Reutimann
  16. Denny Hamlin
  17. Jeff Gordon
  18. Bobby Labonte
  19. Greg Biffle
  20. Jamie McMurray
  21. Ryan Newman
  22. David Gilliland
  23. Casey Mears
  24. Paul Menard
  25. Mike Bliss
  26. Dave Blaney
  27. Joey Logano
  28. David Ragan
  29. Tony Stewart
  30. Landon Cassill
  31. Travis Kvapil
  32. Juan Pablo Montoya
  33. Andy Lally
  34. Regan Smith
  35. Tony Raines
  36. Kasey Kahne
  37. AJ Allmendinger
  38. Scott Wimmer
  39. Joe Nemechek
  40. JJ Yeley
  41. Mike Skinner
  42. David Stremme
  43. Michael McDowell
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Dover Live Chat: Talk Now About The NASCAR Race With Other Fans

This could be a lonnnng chat, as weather is forecasted to interrupt today's FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway.

Either way, we'll have plenty to talk about. So pull up your laptop, flip on your TV and get ready to watch the Dover race along with us.

Make sure you keep the "auto-refresh" box checked in order to see the latest comments from other fans.

Who's your pick?

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NASCAR At Dover: 2011 Start Time, Starting Lineup, TV/Radio Listings And More

It's NASCAR race day at Dover International Speedway, and we've got the actual race start time, the starting lineup and some other facts about the FedEx 400 for you below.

Start time: The command to start engines will be given by Jacob Boenzi at 1:07 p.m. Eastern time. After a few pace laps, the green flag will wave at precisely 1:15 p.m. Eastern. So if you want to skip the pre-race show and just tune in for the actual race, flip your TV on at 1:15.

Race name/distance: The FedEx 400 is sponsored by FedEx, obviously, but it's also a benefit for the Autism Speaks charity organization. If you'd like to learn more about Autism Speaks (or donate), you can visit the Autism Speaks web site here. The distance of the race is 400 miles, which is 400 laps around the "Monster Mile."

TV and radio: As for all of the races through May, FOX is televising the Dover race. The radio broadcast can be found on your local Motor Racing Network (MRN) affiliate. Click here to see a list of MRN stations where you can listen.

National anthem: Country music group Miss Willie Brown is singing the national anthem. And yes, it is a group – it sounds like one person, though, doesn't it? It's not. Miss Willie Brown is two women, and neither of them are named "Willie" or "Brown."

Tickets: There are still plenty of tickets available for the FedEx 400 if you're thinking of making a last-minute trip to Dover.

Weather: This will be a factor all day long. Though the temperature is expected to reach the mid-70s, there is a 60 percent chance of rain all afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. Monday doesn't look too good, either.

Last time: Kyle Busch took advantage of a late speeding penalty by Jimmie Johnson to claim last year's May race at Dover, beating Jeff Burton by more than seven seconds. Johnson found redemption, though, winning the September Chase race at the Delaware track.

Starting lineup for today's FedEx 400 NASCAR race at Dover International Speedway (set by practice speeds due to a qualifying rainout):

  1. Jimmie Johnson
  2. AJ Allmendinger
  3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  4. Kasey Kahne
  5. Joey Logano
  6. Kurt Busch
  7. Kyle Busch
  8. Martin Truex Jr.
  9. Brad Keselowski
  10. Kevin Harvick
  11. Regan Smith
  12. Greg Biffle
  13. Carl Edwards
  14. David Ragan
  15. Brian Vickers
  16. Jeff Burton
  17. David Reutimann
  18. Marcos Ambrose
  19. Juan Pablo Montoya
  20. Paul Menard
  21. Jeff Gordon
  22. Clint Bowyer
  23. Bobby Labonte
  24. Matt Kenseth
  25. Mark Martin
  26. Denny Hamlin
  27. Tony Stewart
  28. Ryan Newman
  29. David Gilliland
  30. Casey Mears
  31. Jamie McMurray
  32. Landon Cassill
  33. Mike Bliss
  34. Scott Wimmer
  35. Dave Blaney
  36. Michael McDowell
  37. Andy Lally
  38. JJ Yeley
  39. Mike Skinner
  40. David Stremme
  41. Travis Kvapil
  42. Joe Nemechek
  43. Tony Raines
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NASCAR Crash In Dover Nationwide Series Race Mars Finish, Flips Clint Bowyer On Side

Wow. Have you caught your breath yet following Saturday afternoon's crazy NASCAR Nationwide Series race finish at Dover International Speedway?

If you missed it, check out the video below. Carl Edwards and Joey Logano were racing hard on the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, and Edwards came up the track and took the air off Logano's left rear.

Though the two never touched, it caused Logano to get loose and turn into the wall. When Logano bounced off the wall, he came back down the track and clobbered Clint Bowyer, who flipped up onto his side and smashed into the pit road retaining wall.

Fortunately, all the drivers were OK. One of Bowyer's crew members, though, was hit by a bouncing spring from Bowyer's car.

It's amazing that scary, restrictor-plate-style wrecks continue to happen at the one-mile Dover track (remember Logano's flip between Turns 3 and 4?). Let's all be thankful everyone walked away from this one.

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NASCAR Dover Starting Lineup: Jimmie Johnson, AJ Allmendinger On Front Row After Qualifying Rained Out

Dover favorites Jimmie Johnson and AJ Allmendinger will start in an appropriate position for Sunday's FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway: Up front.

NASCAR's new rainout qualifying procedure was put to use for the first time ever on Saturday, after persistent rains washed out the Sprint Cup Series qualifying session. The lineup was set based on practice speeds from Friday's two sessions (in the past, rained-out qualifying meant a field set by points).

Jimmie Johnson will start from the No. 1 spot – although it doesn't count as an "official" pole in the record books – and AJ Allmendinger, who has been strong at Dover but never won a NASCAR race, is the No. 2 starter.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano round out the top five.

Could Allmendinger go to Victory Lane for the first time on Sunday?

"I don't know if it's a race-winning car, because I've never won a race," Allmendinger said. "It's fast. It's a potential race-winning car."

Then Allmendinger turned to Johnson and asked the five-time champion's opinion because, as he said to Johnson, "You have, what, 197 wins or something?"

Though the starting field was set via practice speeds, the rulebook determined which drivers qualified for the race. Scott Riggs, whose No. 81 team had no owner points, was sent home.

2011 NASCAR Dover starting lineup for Sunday's FedEx 400:

  1. Jimmie Johnson
  2. AJ Allmendinger
  3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  4. Kasey Kahne
  5. Joey Logano
  6. Kurt Busch
  7. Kyle Busch
  8. Martin Truex Jr.
  9. Brad Keselowski
  10. Kevin Harvick
  11. Regan Smith
  12. Greg Biffle
  13. Carl Edwards
  14. David Ragan
  15. Brian Vickers
  16. Jeff Burton
  17. David Reutimann
  18. Marcos Ambrose
  19. Juan Pablo Montoya
  20. Paul Menard
  21. Jeff Gordon
  22. Clint Bowyer
  23. Bobby Labonte
  24. Matt Kenseth
  25. Mark Martin
  26. Denny Hamlin
  27. Tony Stewart
  28. Ryan Newman
  29. David Gilliland
  30. Casey Mears
  31. Jamie McMurray
  32. Landon Cassill
  33. Mike Bliss
  34. Scott Wimmer
  35. Dave Blaney
  36. Michael McDowell
  37. Andy Lally
  38. JJ Yeley
  39. Mike Skinner
  40. David Stremme
  41. Travis Kvapil
  42. Joe Nemechek
  43. Tony Raines
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If NASCAR Dover Qualifying Is Rained Out, What Would Starting Lineup Look Like?

NASCAR's new rainout qualifying rule could be put to use today at Dover International Speedway, with Friday's practice speeds determining the lineup for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race.

The rule, in a nutshell, is this: If qualifying is canceled due to rain, a driver's fastest practice speed (from the two practices combined) will set the starting lineup.

It's basically the same as how NASCAR determines the qualifying order now, but it just carries over to the race.

Jimmie Johnson was the fastest in practice on Friday, so he'd get the pole. AJ Allmendinger would start second.

Here's how the Dover starting lineup would look (Note -- This is just the projected lineup IN CASE the 12:10 p.m. qualifying session is rained out. Check the radar for current conditions):

  1. Jimmie Johnson
  2. AJ Allmendinger
  3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  4. Kasey Kahne
  5. Joey Logano
  6. Kurt Busch
  7. Kyle Busch
  8. Martin Truex Jr.
  9. Brad Keselowski
  10. Kevin Harvick
  11. Regan Smith
  12. Greg Biffle
  13. Carl Edwards
  14. David Ragan
  15. Brian Vickers
  16. Jeff Burton
  17. David Reutimann
  18. Marcos Ambrose
  19. Juan Pablo Montoya
  20. Paul Menard
  21. Jeff Gordon
  22. Clint Bowyer
  23. Bobby Labonte
  24. Matt Kenseth
  25. Mark Martin
  26. Denny Hamlin
  27. Tony Stewart
  28. Ryan Newman
  29. David Gilliland
  30. Casey Mears
  31. Jamie McMurray
  32. Landon Cassill
  33. Mike Bliss
  34. Scott Wimmer
  35. Dave Blaney
  36. Michael McDowell
  37. Andy Lally
  38. JJ Yeley
  39. Mike Skinner
  40. David Stremme
  41. Travis Kvapil
  42. Joe Nemechek
  43. Tony Raines
Going home (due to owner points/rulebook, not speed): Scott Riggs (No. 81 team is last in owner points)
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For Kevin Swindell, Dover Nationwide Race Is A Tryout On Major Stage

In many ways, Kevin Swindell's weekend at Dover International Speedway recalls Eminem's smash hit "Lose Yourself."

As Eminem sings:

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow; this opportunity comes once in a lifetime.

It may not be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but Swindell, the 22-year-old son of sprint car legend Sammy Swindell, has been waiting for a chance like the one he has with Roush Fenway Racing at Dover this weekend.

With Trevor Bayne still recovering from the illness that has kept him out of the car since Richmond, Roush tapped Swindell to drive the No. 16 car in Saturday's Nationwide Series race.

But Bayne will soon return, and Swindell will once again be looking for a way into NASCAR. He's earned national notoriety by winning the prestigious Chili Bowl in back-to-back years, but that alone isn't enough to earn him a NASCAR ride.

So when Swindell got the call on Tuesday that he was officially in the No. 16 car at Dover, he knew there was a lot on the line.

"I've got this weekend to shine," he said Friday, standing in the sun of the Nationwide Series garage. "This is pretty much as close to a tryout as you could ever get."

When Swindell arrived at Dover, he had never driven one of the new Nationwide cars and had only driven the track in the K&N East Series.

But you wouldn't know it based on his practice speeds. In the first and only Nationwide practice of the weekend, Swindell went out and recorded the fifth-fastest time overall.

"This isn't the easiest place to figure out at first, but everything's gone well," Swindell said with the demeanor of a calm, veteran driver. "They've helped me get used to everything quickly and it's been good so far. We definitely need to find just a little bit more speed, but where we're at where my ability is right now."

Swindell said there was more speed in his car that he had yet to find. He said he knew that because Roush Fenway teammates Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were the fastest two cars in practice, so Swindell rather honestly assumed "my car is as good as theirs is."

You'd be hard-pressed to detect any nervousness or apprehension in Swindell, though. He said there was "no time to be nervous," because his focus needed to remain on how well he is capable of running.

"This has been my job since I was 17," he said. "This is how I pay my bills. I think you drive yourself into just kind of a calm. You're worried about it, definitely, and I want to be able to perform – this is a hell of an opportunity for me and I don't want to mess anything up.

"But you've got to keep yourself grounded and make sure you just do the right thing and keep telling yourself, 'You can do this. You don't have to overdo anything. This is what you're good at, and keep doing what you do.' That's kind of the way I worked at it today – go at my own pace and get where I needed to be."

Swindell's dirt-racing background may come in handy. In the World of Outlaws, he's constantly faced with changing track conditions as the evening goes on. And at most tracks, drivers get just three hot laps before it's time to qualify.

"You gotta figure it out quick," he said. "It makes you learn to move around and search and really learn on the fly."

That experience – along with his demeanor – seems to have helped Swindell so far at Dover.

"I think the biggest thing is just staying calm and doing what you know how to do," he said. "I've just got to get in and do my job."

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NASCAR Driver Voicemails: 'Hey, Jeff Gordon? Sorry I Wrecked You Last Week'

When someone from the current group of NASCAR drivers unintentionally wrecks another driver, he often places a phone call within the next few days to smooth things over.

By reaching out via phone, drivers hope to deal with their on-track issue so there are no hard feelings going forward.

Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon isn't clear on exactly how the trend got started. But he doesn't like it.

"That whole 'calling' thing is strange to me," he said Friday at Dover International Speedway. "Let's say somebody wrecks me and they call me on Tuesday. They're calling me so I don't wreck them the next week! They're not calling me because they really believe we should have a conversation.

"So I don't want you to call me. And if I call you, you should be thinking the same thing."

Gordon said back in the day, for the first five or six years of his career, other drivers didn't even have his phone number – and he didn't have theirs. Drivers didn't say anything about the incidents to one another unless there was a confrontation at the track, Gordon recalled.

In recent years, though, even Gordon has placed a few calls. He dialed Martin Truex Jr. after their Sonoma wreck last year, because Gordon realized it was a "bonehead move" and he felt sincerely sorry for it.

But for the most part, if a driver calls Gordon, there isn't going to be an answer.

"All of the sudden I get in a wreck with somebody and they're calling me and I don't know the number and I check the voicemail, and it's like, 'Oh, I got your number from such and such and wanted to give you a call,'" Gordon said. "It's not a bad idea to reach out, but I just am one that I don't expect it. I don't take the call, I don't call them back."

And aside from that, there's another reason Gordon doesn't necessarily want to chit-chat about a racing incident over the phone.

"I prefer them to wonder if I'm ever going to get them back," he said.

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Kyle Busch Responds To Kevin Harvick Comments, NASCAR Penalty At Dover

Kyle Busch offered answers for Kevin Harvick's comments during his turn in the Dover International Speedway media center on Friday morning. First, make sure to check out what Harvick said about his Darlington altercation with Busch. Then read Busch's responses below. 

Here are some of the highlights from Busch's media availability:

ON WHY HARVICK WANTED TO FIGHT: "Apparently, he's watching too much hockey. ... I did have a left-rear tire flat and I wasn't sure that if I turned too hard to the right to stay off of him or to get away from him that (my) car would actually spin out the wrong way. Believe that for what it's worth. I believe there's some in-car cameras you can see and I did have to come to pit road during that caution period to change left-side tires because they were flat."

ON HARVICK'S COMMENT THAT BUSCH IS LYING ABOUT A FLAT TIRE: "I don't feel like I'm lying about anything because there's ... 85 video cameras around the racetrack that will pretty much back up anything that you're saying. Not lying about anything. The only thing I will say I guess is that I'm sorry I came off of Turn 2 on the flat trying to give Kevin room and maybe I slid a little too far and I got into him first. Maybe that's what initiated everything. I apologize about that. It wasn't my intention to get into him and then have everything go down the way it went down. I was just trying to race the final five laps as hard as I could, as clean as I could to get the best finish we could."

ON WHY HE DIDN'T WANT TO PHYSICALLY FIGHT HARVICK: "I think it's in my sponsor's best interest and in my team owner's best interest that we are not fighters and that we're respectful competitors and we're out here to do our job on the racetrack and race as best as we can, as hard as we can and as clean as we can. Sometimes as clean as you can, you might rub fenders with somebody or something like that.

"When it becomes from getting disrespected as bad as you have from one particular guy, at some point you finally say you've had enough. I feel like I did stick up for myself on the racetrack. Apparently there was more than on the race track afterwards."

ON HIS UNDERSTANDING OF NASCAR'S BOYS HAVE AT IT POLICY: "I understand it perfectly actually. It's the ‘Boys have at it' out on the racetrack and it seems like they allow us to police ourselves pretty simply out there. When matters get taken into the drivers' hands or anything else onto pit road, where innocent bystanders can be injured or something, NASCAR is going to step in and they're going to intervene and they're going to set penalties the way that they feel need to be levied.

"To me, it's not a gray area. It's pretty simple – it's black and white. I'm not focused in all that really or what penalties should be during what circumstances because I'm a racer and I know that going out there on the racetrack and trying to win is the utmost thing. If you do that, then you certainly shouldn't be getting in any brawls or anything like that."

ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH HARVICK: "As far as us getting along, I'm not sure that we ever really did. I think he tried and that's why at Homestead I kind of talked about the two faces of Kevin Harvick. I still believe that's out there. He'll talk to you to your face like you're best friends, but then behind closed doors or at home or whatever, he has the utmost disrespectful thoughts or whatever else. That's all. I don't care. I'm going on with my own business."

...

"I've never gotten along with the guy. I don't know that he really ever got along with my brother either. I think there's something beyond from his past growing's up maybe and racing with Kurt that I don't know and I was just kind of thrown in that I was never really liked. I don't know."

ON HOW HIS SPONSOR M&M'S REACTED: "I feel like they stood behind me the most they ever stood behind me, actually. I appreciate their support. They stood behind me because I kept my head, I kept my cool and I stayed in my race car and knew that that was my best place to be and the best situation for what was going to come of anything. They were behind me 100 percent which I appreciate and I thank them."

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ponders One Of NASCAR's Deep Questions At Dover

The world is filled with deep questions to which there may be no answer: What is the meaning of life? Are we alone in the universe? If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?

On Friday at Dover International Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. presented another great question: Why does NASCAR have a commitment cone under the green flag?

Earnhardt Jr. was nailed with a penalty at Darlington last week when he tried to pit under green but didn't get inside the commitment cone. The cone is used to make sure drivers "commit" before the entrance of pit road instead of just diving onto pit road late to fake out another driver.

But under the green flag, Earnhardt Jr. was unsure what purpose it served.

"I had a friend of mine bring it up to me: He's like, 'What's the commitment cone for under green-flag racing, anyway?'" Earnhardt Jr. said. "You're pretty much committed when you slow down and come to pit road. I kind of thought about that and I'm like, 'Yeah, that's pretty true. It's really not that necessary.' But that's the way the rules are."

Earnhardt Jr. observed that no one would try to fake out another driver under the green flag. There would be no reason to do it.

"It's pretty much unnecessary under green flag," the driver said. "Either you're going to come down pit road or you're not. If you get in there too hot (with a late commitment), you're going to get penalized for speeding; if you miss the entrance (after slowing down), that's costly. There's no real reason for a commitment cone at that point."

In this situation, NASCAR represents the great sage atop the mountain where people go to seek answers. So Earnhardt Jr. brought his question to NASCAR President Mike Helton, who provided the wisdom and insight the driver was searching for.

"He said they were just keeping the rule consistent under green or yellow, and they figured they'd just leave (the cone) out there," Earnhardt Jr. said. "... I just asked him to kind of think about that rule and whether it was truly necessary to have that rule under green flag. Maybe they will."

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Kevin Harvick Digs At Kyle Busch, Jabs NASCAR Policies At Dover

Kevin Harvick had plenty to say during his turn in the Dover International Speedway media center on Friday morning. The session marked his first extensive public comments since his incident with Kyle Busch at Darlington.

Here are some of the highlights from Harvick's media availability:

ON THE INCIDENT AT DARLINGTON: "Yesterday, Kyle's explanation was he had a flat tire and hooked me on the straightaway. It's kind of one lie after another. The way I was brought up and taught to race, when you hook somebody in the right-rear quarterpanel, that's the equivalent of gloves off in hockey. The only answer I get out of Kyle is, 'I'm a race car driver, not a fighter.' But when you drive like that, you're going to have to learn how to take care of yourself."

...

"Look, the wrecking doesn't bother me. The only thing that bothers me is the right-rear quarterpanel. In my mind, I know what that means. I don't mind getting wrecked back, if you think it's payback for Homestead. That part doesn't bother me. But when you throw (the gloves) off, it's time to handle it."

ON THE THURSDAY MEETING WITH BUSCH AND NASCAR OFFICIALS: "The meeting was just basically NASCAR explaining how probation worked, and that we needed to stay away from everybody, basically – and each other."

ON HIS UNDERSTANDING OF BOYS HAVE AT IT POLICY: "It's definitely to the point where it's a little bit confusing with how it all works. When you look at the 'Boys, have at it' theme, it's obviously changing as we go through the process. ... Sometimes it's a one-lap penalty and sometimes you're parked for the race and ... there's a lot of different things happening. I understand that it's evolving, but from a drivers' standpoint, you don't 100 percent understand how it works."

ON HIS PROBATION PENALTY: "They stressed a lot to me that the penalties were for the pit-road violations after the race and the jeopardy that it put everybody in after the race. I understand all that. But yesterday (the talk from NASCAR) was all about being on probation and (actions) on the racetrack. Just a little bit confused about that. Nobody really had any clarification other than that we're on probation for four weeks. Now it's a penalty on the racetrack."

...

"There were no NASCAR officials in sight. They got what they wanted. In the end, you suffer the penalty for what is supposed to be on pit road but is carried over to the racetrack now. ... It was stressed to me it was for pit road, so it just doesn't make sense to me. .... I'm not complaining about it. I just want to understand it. And I don't understand it."

ON NASCAR'S LACK OF CONSISTENCY WITH PENALTIES: "There just has to be consistency. ... Just tell me what the rules are. Explain to me what the penalty is. If you're going to hook somebody in the middle of the straightaway, if you're going to spin him out, if you're going to retaliate, what is the penalty? Tell me what the penalty is."

...

"It can't be for a certain circumstance and how you wake up in the morning and how you think it needs to be treated. There has to be some guidelines on where it all is. You hear the upper brass talk about wanting to do things more like the NFL and this and that, but you have to be consistent in order to do that."

ON MENDING FENCES WITH KYLE BUSCH: "That probably won't ever happen."

ON WHY KYLE BUSCH'S TEAM DIDN'T RUN DOWN PIT ROAD TO DEFEND HIM: "The 18 team not backing him up – when you don't have a backbone, how can you back somebody up?"

ON WHETHER PROBATION WILL AFFECT HOW HE RACES: "It definitely affects how you race for the next four weeks. We got the ultimatum yesterday – an explanation of how probation works and how NASCAR expected us to race on the racetrack was put to us very clearly yesterday. How the next four weeks are expected to go was dictated to us yesterday very clearly in the NASCAR trailer."

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2011 NASCAR Dover Schedule: A Look At The Rest Of The Weekend

The Dover NASCAR race weekend has already begun – the Camping World Truck Series held two practices on Thursday – and there's plenty more to come over the next three days.

Here's a look at the schedule for the rest of the weekend (all times Eastern):

FRIDAY

10:10 a.m. – Camping World Truck Series qualifying

11 a.m. – Sprint Cup Series practice (1 hour, 25 minutes)

12:35 p.m. – Nationwide Series final practice (1 hour, 55 minutes)

2:45 p.m. – Sprint Cup Series final practice (1 hour, 30 minutes)

4:45 p.m. – Camping World Truck Series race (Distance: 200 laps, 200 miles ... TV: Speed, tape delayed to 8:30 p.m.)

SATURDAY

10:40 a.m. – Nationwide Series qualifying

12:10 p.m. – Sprint Cup Series qualifying

2 p.m. – Nationwide Series race (Distance: 200 laps, 200 miles ... TV: ESPN2)

SUNDAY

1 p.m. – Sprint Cup Series race (Distance: 400 laps, 400 miles ... TV: FOX)

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NASCAR At Dover: Drivers Ready To Battle Monster Mile

There are plenty of storylines heading into NASCAR's weekend at Dover International Speedway, but none looms larger at the start than the feud between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.

The drivers met in the NASCAR hauler before Camping World Truck Series practice on Thursday – likely warned by NASCAR to take their four-race probation seriously – but they'll be on track together beginning with Friday afternoon's Sprint Cup Series practices and Truck race.

Harvick continued to pick at Busch via Twitter this week – at one point asking why it was so quiet in "Candyland" – and it's likely the Richard Childress Racing driver has no intention of letting it go. Busch, though, probably prefers to move on.

Aside from Harvick/Busch, there's the aftermath of Regan Smith's upset Darlington win and a host of other racing-related storylines.

Will Jimmie Johnson win again at the Monster Mile? He's won three of the last four races here.

Will the Roush Fenway Racing cars return to their winning ways at Dover? Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. rebound from two disappointing weeks?

Stay tuned. We'll find out together.

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