- Did you mean:
Post-Race Reactions: Heluva Good ! Sour Cream Dips 400
The top 5 drivers along with an upset Dale Earnhardt Jr. give post-race comments.
Best in-car audio from the Auto Club 400
Relive some of the best moments from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway.
DraftKings: Auto Club 400 Price Check
WATCH: Auto Club 400 Price Check, sponsored content provided by DraftKings.
Harvick: 'Kyle Larson is the best driver to come along since Jeff Gordon'
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Martinsville With three runner-ups and a win on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, Kyle Larson's strong start to the season has gotten the attention of many in the racing industry. That includes 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, who made quite the bold statement on the current points leader during Tuesday's premiere of his radio show "Happy Hours" on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. "Kyle Larson is the best driver to come along since Jeff Gordon in my opinion," Harvick said definitively. RELATED: Take 5 from Auto Club " Larson wins Auto Club 400 He went on to talk about Larson's talent, how he wins in everything he drives and how "everyone in the garage wants a Kyle Larson." "I think Chase Elliott is going to be great too, but Kyle Larson has something special," Harvick said. By the looks of it, Harvick's son Keelan is a fan of Larson's as well. I mean what the heck @KyleLarsonRacin pic.twitter.com/h5C14IV3Xh — Kevin Harvick (@KevinHarvick) March 28, 2017
Short-track swing could turn tide on track, in standings
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Martinsville " MORE: Full schedule RELATED: Pre-Martinsville standings " Stage lengths The first short-track swing of the 2017 schedule begins this week at the venerable Martinsville Speedway and even before leaving California’s two-miler last weekend, NASCAR’s best conceded they were eagerly awaiting this portion of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Gone are the days of NASCAR road course aces, superspeedway specialists or short track experts. Not only has the sport demanded high expectations at every stop, drivers have to perform everywhere at an even greater level with the current points system. April's short track swing features Martinsville's .526-mile oval on Sunday (2 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), Bristol's .53-miler in three weeks followed by Richmond's three-quarter mile oval to close out the month. And while this portion of the schedule brings a smile to most drivers faces and a sentimental nod to their early careers, it also means a big competitive kick in their anticipation. "I love the short tracks and short-track racing," said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has wins at all three upcoming short tracks. "We don't get to do a lot of it, so that makes you love it more. Being able to come to these tracks and knowing you are only going to get to run here a few times, it makes you really appreciate it and work hard. You have to really try to take care of the car to run all the laps and get everything out of it you can." RELATED: Full results for every Martinsville race " Driver stats at Martinsville Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate and reigning seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson may be the happiest guy on the grid when he takes Sunday's green flag. He's at an unfamiliar 17th place in the Monster Energy Series standings with only one top 10 in five races this season so far. However, Martinsville has been his playground, his mecca, his "I got this." Johnson's nine wins there are most among active drivers and he has 24 top-10 finishes in 30 starts. He's led 2,838 laps there -- an amazing 1,475 laps more than any other driver on Sunday's grid. And he's won at Bristol (once) and Richmond (three times) too. "We certainly are not where we want to be right now," Johnson said. "Last weekend at California was so frustrating. Nothing went our way. As a competitor you have to put that stuff behind you and focus forward, so I'm looking forward to getting to Martinsville. " The last race at Martinsville was an amazing finish , a very emotional one for me -- so meaningful -- and it obviously paved the way to our seventh championship. It's a special place for us, it suits my driving style and I wish we raced at Martinsville more than twice a year." Toyota driver Denny Hamlin is another who has shown a real knack for the series' short-track portion of the schedule. He has a career best five victories at Martinsville -- including a remarkable three consecutive from 2009-2010 -- with 17 top-10 finishes in 22 Martinsville starts in all. He also has wins at Bristol (one) and his home track of Richmond (three). RELATED: Hamlin explains why 'feel' is more important than lap times His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch is the defending winner of the spring Martinsville race and has 10 wins total at the three upcoming venues including five at Bristol. And while drivers such as Johnson, Hamlin and Busch seem to have had immediate and bountiful success on the high action short tracks, Martin Truex Jr. could say his good feelings have been an acquired taste there. In his first 18 starts at Martinsville, for example, he had an average start of 18.1 and an average finish of 23.1. In his last four races -- with Furniture Row Racing -- he's had an average start of 5.5 and an average finish of 9.3. "From my standpoint Martinsville has gone from a puzzle to a place where I continue to feel more comfortable," said Truex. "We've had some good runs there recently and this weekend will be a good test to see where we stand with our short-track program. "We know we can get it done at the intermediate and superspeedway tracks." It's been a familiar refrain in the garage. In the past, a driver might show a real flair for a certain type of competitive surface. But in modern NASCAR every week, ever track is an opportunity that can’t be overlooked. There's no denying the "back home" good feeling of this upcoming short track portion of the schedule, however. It's the ultimate in challenge and gratification, a showcase for short tempers and a source of deep pride. "To me, the toughest part of Martinsville is you just never have a moment to breathe," said Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon. "You have to be on your game nonstop for 500 laps because somebody's on you, or you are on top of somebody the whole time, and there's just no room for error." And that's exactly what fans are counting on. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Richard Petty sparkles in Hollywood while receiving prestigious award
LOS ANGELES -- The bright orange hues of the setting sun lingered over the California coastline last Thursday evening, casting an appropriate illumination on the Hollywood hilltops in the distance and onto one of Los Angeles’ most distinctive treasures in the forefront, the Petersen Automotive Museum. Sitting on famous Wilshire Boulevard, the building's modern chrome-look design is head turning even in a city known for high profile. And inside it is one of the most impressive automotive collections in the world -- the Louvre for car lovers. On this night at this appropriate location, NASCAR’s "King" Richard Petty was honored with the Robert E. Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to auto racing and for raising the profile of the American automobile. Equally important, it was a wonderful chance to celebrate Petty's upcoming 80th birthday on July 2 with a large cake and an eager banquet room of singers. The evening's host and museum’s founding chairman Bruce Meyer welcomed the large crowd, revealing with a smile, "It's the first time having a King here." Almost 300 people were on hand to honor Petty, and there was no mistaking the eclectic attendance -- NASCAR's most treasured, old-school hero being feted by Southern California's coolest and hippest car lovers. Good vibes, as they say out here. "Richard Petty's an icon in our sport, the Frances, the people that built the sport," said retired racer Donnie Allison, an invited guest of Petty's for the evening. "Richard Petty is without a doubt the most noted name in all of racing. It doesn't make a difference who you know or who you talk to. "Bobby (Allison) and I were on an airplane coming out here and sitting next to a guy who asked us what we did. I said that we raced and he said, I don't know anything about racing but I know who Richard Petty is. "What does that say?" Before the formal sit-down dinner, seven-time NASCAR champion Petty joined four-time champ Jeff Gordon to film an interview for FOX Sports. With the famous "Hollywood" sign landmark in the distance, Petty smiled at Gordon and they discussed his family's "redneck engineering." "There was no book, everything was new," Petty told Gordon. "We were so dedicated to working on those cars, we didn't know if it was night or day." Dressed in a black suit and wearing one of his trademark black, feathered cowboy hats and black boots, Petty settled in for the casual time with Gordon and they talked about everything from receiving this unique honor to Petty's favorite winning hardware. "I've got them everywhere," 15-time Martinsville winner Petty said, smiling about the track's famous grandfather clock trophy. With seven NASCAR titles and 200 wins, Petty could not be more revered, and seeing him celebrated in this unique setting seemed not only genuinely appreciated by him, but also a true gift to the crowd. "I'm pretty sure he's signed more autographs than any person in the history of the world," road racing champion Tommy Kendall said, smiling. "Seriously, he's been famous for a long, long time." "It's easy to think of 200 wins and say he was good , but you have to think about that. Everyone had the same limitations and the same challenges of knowledge and understanding and the Pettys somehow raised the bar. "And he raised it in other areas, too, in terms of fan engagement and even something as simple as why his autograph is so legible. It's probably not an accident. People spend their time and money to see him and he wants to give them something." On this night, Petty gave plenty -- his time, his smile, his approval and his sincere gratitude. "I'm just getting old," Petty joked before the program began. "But," he added of the recognition, "Petersen has been in publishing of all kinds of racing magazines. Being they cover all types of racing, to be selected in something like this is really a big thing. I guess it winds up showing we had a lot of good people working for us to be able to put us in this position. It wasn't a one-man show. "What can you do by yourself? "I've accomplished nothing by myself. With the crowd around me we've accomplished a lot. I just happen to be the guy out front. I'm not pulling them, they are pushing me." Always one to share credit and appreciate competition, Petty invited some of his closest friends and even some of his former fiercest competitors to join him this evening. NASCAR executives such as Vice Chairman Mike Helton, Executive Vice President & Chief Global Sales & Marketing Officer Steve Phelps and Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jill Gregory were there to support and enjoy. Fellow NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Rusty Wallace were there, too, along with the great Donnie Allison, NASCAR team owner Rob Kauffman, Kendall and Petty's son Kyle, who played guitar on stage to end the evening. The musical finale came after the tributes, however. And there were -- appropriately -- hours' worth of those. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and his sister, International Speedway Corporation's CEO Lesa France Kennedy, joined a lineup that included Roger Penske, Mario Andretti, Darryl Gywnn and others who sent video messages of accolade and homage. Newly inducted fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer, team owner Rick Hendrick, fondly recalled in his message that Petty's famous signature was "the first autograph I ever got." Former United States Presidents George H. Bush and George W. Bush sent letters to be read on stage. The elder Bush wrote to Petty, "You are a legend. What may not be as well-known is your life's mission to help. ... You are an inspiration about what is best about our great country." Henry Ford, the great, great, great-grandson of Ford Motor Company's founder, delivered a tribute in person as did other major corporate executives. Petty finally took the stage briefly to acknowledge the kindness and many honors, and as you might expect, humbly and briefly reminded everyone, "It's a tribute to not only Richard Petty, but to our sport." At the live auction after dinner, Petty not surprisingly offered a big assist. Two people were in a lively bidding war for one of Petty's famous cowboy hats. When you're the King, your hat is a crown. And after the bidding concluded, Petty took off the very hat he was wearing, walked to the stage and told the audience he would give it to the other bidder -- in effect doubling the money raised for the Petty Family Foundation and Petersen Automotive Museum. And making two grown men very happy. The spontaneous gesture was an apt display of both the high regard Petty has earned and his unending willingness to give back to his many fans. Hats off to the King, indeed.
Return to Martinsville brings reunited Peters-Kendrick duo full circle
Photo credit: Red Horse Racing BUY TICKETS: See the races at Martinsville Reunited and it feels so good . That's the mantra for veteran driver Timothy Peters and crew chief Chad Kendrick heading into Saturday's Alpha Energy Solutions 250 (3 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Martinsville Speedway. The race is the third of the 2017 season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and marks the first time that the Peters-Kendrick pairing has been back at the 0.526-mile track since their win there in 2009. "It's pretty cool being able to reunite and how things worked out," Peters told NASCAR.com. "Obviously, both of us getting our first win together was a pretty big deal at Martinsville. Since our last time that we won, pretty much we haven't worked together since but remained good friends. Chad's matured as a crew chief. I've matured as a driver and he's had great success at Martinsville. Going back this weekend is a great homecoming." RELATED: Recap every Martinsville race " Get results from October 2009 race That homecoming feeling is aided by two factors: both Peters and Kendrick consider Martinsville to be their home track, and the duo's back story goes back to short track and Late Model circuits all over Virginia. The two raced each other and both admitted they did not like the other at first. "He was THE guy to beat," Kendrick said. "He was the guy when I first started racing against him in the late '90s, I didn't really care for him. We didn't really know each other. We were just competitors and I didn't really like him. It was more of he was THE guy and you wanted to beat that guy." But a chance meeting at a chassis shop saw the two bond and become friends with Kendrick helping Peters work on his Late Model entry if he wasn't racing. That relationship carried forward when Peters got the call to go to Bobby Hamilton Racing where Kendrick worked as a mechanic for the team. From there, came the crew chief position with Peters in 2009 that started with Premier Racing before the two went to Red Horse Racing in the middle of the season. Opportunities took Kendrick elsewhere over the past seven years, including most recently a four-year stint atop the box at Brad Keselowski Racing. During that time, Kendrick scored five wins atop the box. Meanwhile, Peters has spent that time behind the wheel for Red Horse Racing, tallying an additional nine wins. RELATED: Being a crew chief 'the next best thing' for Kendrick
Hamlin: A win is only acceptable thing at Martinsville
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Martinsville " Full schedule There have been more disappointments than celebrations for Denny Hamlin at Martinsville Speedway, but that doesn't make the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series venue any less prominent in the eyes of the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. "A win is the only thing that's acceptable when I get to this race track," Hamlin, 36, said during a visit to the legendary oval earlier this month. "I know I take a lot of pride in coming to this race track and running well." Hamlin, a native of Chesterfield, Virgina, has made 403 starts in NASCAR's top series and won 29 times. Five of those victories have come at Martinsville, the .526-mile track that's been hosting NASCAR races for 70 years now. The track's short straightaways and tight, flat turns put a premium on track position and hearken back to the series' earlier days, when contact among competitors was expected, if not always tolerated. "That's something not many tracks can say," Hamlin said of the facility's longevity. "The history here, you look at all the old photos of this race track. Even though a lot has changed around the race track, the race track itself has not changed. The configuration hasn't changed; it's so very similar to how it used to be many, many years ago." Hamlin has earned more top-five (12) and top-10 (17) finishes at Martinsville than any other track on the schedule and between 2008-'10 he won four of six races there. He's a perennial contender during the twice-yearly visits to the track, but the driver of the No. 11 Toyota admits that with confidence comes a bit of anxiety. "Because if I don't win it's not a successful weekend," he said. "That's a lot of pressure to put on yourself, especially in today's competition, to go out there and expect to win, because all the drivers are so good ." They're good , but few have been able to dominate at a particular track the way Hamlin and a handful of others have through the years at Martinsville. Richard Petty owns the track win record with 15 career victories; Darrell Waltrip made off with the unique clock trophy 11 times. More recently, former Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson piled up nine victories apiece. Johnson is still around to try and add to his total and won the fall race last season. RELATED: Every winner at Martinsville " Hamlin's stats there The gains enjoyed by those drivers are harder to come by today, according to Hamlin, because of widespread data sharing that goes on among the individual organizations. When it comes to competition, there are few secrets in the garage and even fewer among teammates. "So the advantages you had have been whittled down," he said. "To continue to put the expectations of coming here and winning no matter what (may be) a little unrealistic but it's a goal we always set." For Hamlin, a successful weekend at Martinsville starts and ends with "feel." It's what has put him in contention on most occasions and helped put him in the winner's circle here more than anywhere else. "This is one of the very few race tracks I never look at lap times," he said. "Lap times mean nothing to me here. Whether we're first in practice or 20th it really doesn't matter to me because I know the feel in the car that I've got to have to win." Hamlin has won at least one race every season since he began running full-time in the series in 2006. He will be looking for his first win of 2017 when the STP 500 gets underway Sunday (2 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "It's been circled on our calendar," he said. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Fill-in-the-blank: Auto Club
RELATED: Read more Inside Groove I should have known it was going to be a special weekend at Auto Club Speedway when an owl interrupted practice Jimmie Johnson wrecked his primary car in practice Kyle Larson won the pole . Sure enough, I was right wrong wondering what happened to my pet owl . Auto Club Speedway always provides the most exciting westernmost fastest most recent race of the season, and this race was really no exception ordinary race onions, Animal Style, please week to have Matt Kenseth on your fantasy team . What really blew my mind was when Martin Truex Jr. didn't pit for tires at the end of the race Kyle Larson tweeted a picture of his credit card . Why would someone do such a careless misinformed silly genius thing? I guess we can't all be like Brad Keselowski Clint Bowyer Daniel Suarez Jamie McMurray Ryan Blaney Chase Elliott Chip Ganassi , who ended up having a really solid race. It's still amazing to me how Jimmie Johnson has finished every single career lap at ACS Kyle Larson is so fast this season we've been racing at Auto Club Speedway for 20 years "Ty Dillon" is an anagram for "Tiny Doll" . I think I'm going to celebrate Kyle Larson's win Clint Bowyer's best finish in nearly two years Brad Keselowski's impressive comeback Daniel Suarez's second consecutive seventh-place finish heading to Martinsville next week by stocking up some Cottonelle at Target buying some Mobil 1 at Rush Truck Centers installing Wurth auto parts on my Ford while sipping Miller Lite ordering whatever a Number 7 is at Subway logging onto Twitter and telling Dale Jr. to go faster . While it's been fun racing on something that's described as "D-shaped" out West for the past three weeks on fast tracks without Carl Edwards winning all the races with young drivers leading the pack at over 200 mph , it'll be nice to head to Martinsville next week for some good , old-fashioned short-track racing short-track tempers paper-clipping hot dog chugging paint trading -- that is, as soon as I track down my pet owl set down my phone and grab some Cottonelle short pit for fresh tires write Kyle Larson's name on my playoff grid send more angry tweets to Dale Jr.'s crew chief buy Kyle Larson gear and pretend I've been a fan for years set my clock back to East Coast time drop my Matt Kenseth diecast off a cliff so it's crash-accurate .
Atlanta repave delayed until after 2018 NASCAR races
RELATED: All the winners at Atlanta " Blaney pleased with Atlanta decision Atlanta Motor Speedway officials have put off a repaving project at the 1.54-mile facility until the track's 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race has been completed. Officials had planned to repave the worn racing surface following this year's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on March 5. Several NASCAR drivers, however, urged track officials and Speedway Motorsports Inc., President Marcus Smith to reconsider the move. The track was last repaved in 1997. The worn, abrasive pavement creates tremendous tire falloff, and the slick surface typically provides some of the most exciting racing on the NASCAR schedule. "We're going to repave, it's just a matter of when we're going to do it," Ed Clark, AMS president and general manager, told NASCAR.com Tuesday. "We know we have to do it sooner rather than later. "We've talked to fans, to people in the NASCAR garage, spent a good bit of time with Rick Campbell of Goodyear, and we came to the conclusion that with a little bit of work, cutting out some spots and patching them, we could go another year. "If they can make it work, we'll go another year and evaluate it after next year's race. We are going to have to cut some patches out and repave them, mostly on the front straightaway." ICYMI --> 1997 was a good year for paving ... by popular demand, we are going to hold off on paving @amsupdates for one more season. https://t.co/CPSVmMdkFU — Marcus Smith (@MarcusSMI) March 28, 2017 Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski, the 2012 series champion and winner of this year's Folds of Honor QuikTrip race, said after his win that the decision to repave puts tracks in a difficult position. "It's tough, and I feel bad for those guys because all it takes is one race where there are weepers or where the track comes apart and you've got red flags and delays and everybody gets mad at them," Keselowski said. "So they're really in a no‑win spot. We pick on them and tell them don't do it and all these other things, but at some point you have to trust them to know their business. "... Drivers hate repaves. We want to see the surfaces last as long as they can. But the reality is nothing lasts forever, and this surface has made it a really, really long time, 20 years I think ... and they should be really proud of that." Speedway Motorsports Inc. owns eight tracks that host 12 points races on the 36-race Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule. One property, Texas Motor Speedway, was recently repaved and reconfigured in preparation for this year's two stops at that 1.5-mile venue. "I think we all appreciate tracks with so much character and to have the bad news that two of the tracks with the most character are going to be repaved this year, I think that shocked and upset a lot of us," seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson said when asked about the Atlanta repave earlier this year. "We get it. We understand, but it's just going to take a long time for the track to get back to this condition." Clark said officials' biggest concern with the racing surface are parts of the track "unraveling" where cracks exist in the asphalt. "It's more of that," he said, "the gradual unraveling and a crack opening up. I'm not concerned necessarily about a big chunk of asphalt coming out or anything like that. We've looked at that pretty closely. "The good news about our place is we've kept this thing sealed up. We've done it every single year since it was paved, sealed every crack in the fall. We just haven't gotten the humps and bumps that some tracks get. From that standpoint, other than it just being absolutely worn out, that's not an issue. I think that's somewhat the comfort level drivers have in saying just leave it alone." NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Timothy Peters said he was "ecstatic" that officials are holding off on the AMS repaving project. "I think other tracks should look at that," he said. "Worn-out pavement is the way to go, in my opinion. "Atlanta ... is multi-groove, from the bottom to the middle to the top. It puts it back in the driver's hands. I guarantee they will get a lot of Christmas cards this year for electing not to repave the place." Atlanta Motor Speedway, located in Hampton, Georgia, has been hosting NASCAR-sanctioned races since 1960. In addition to the quad-oval featuring 24-degree banked turns, the site includes a 2.5-mile road course. Permanent seating capacity for the facility is 71,000. "We're going to let it ride, let them slip and slide in 2018 and figure it out after that I guess," Clark said. - RJ Kraft contributed to this story.