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Regan Smith tees up Brickyard golf challenge
Regan Smith challenges several NASCAR drivers to some off-track golf challenges during the annual Chevrolet golf tournament at the Brickyard Crossing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Stewart: I 'definitely want to win here' at Indy
RELATED: Stewart receives gift from Indy " WATCH: 'Smoke's' first Brickyard win SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Fresh off a runner-up finish a week ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and with a win already in his pocket, it was a confident Tony Stewart that arrived at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday. Twenty-eighth in points, Stewart's recent results in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series have propelled the three-time series champion closer to locking down one of the 16 spots in this year's championship-determining Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Those finishes have also improved his outlook for Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). It will be his final scheduled start at the legendary 2.5-mile facility where he is a two-time winner and hometown favorite. Co-owner of the four-team Stewart-Haas Racing organization, Stewart is scheduled to retire from Sprint Cup competition at season's end. Two of his previous three seasons were abbreviated due to off-track incidents. And the '16 season began in the same fashion, with Stewart missing the first eight races due to an off-season back injury. But with a victory at Sonoma Raceway, and top-five finishes in his last two outings, Stewart said he arrived at IMS less stressed and more focused than ever. "It's been awhile, it's been a long while," Stewart said of the confidence. "I mean it's a good feeling I can tell you that. "Anytime you get hurt like we did with our leg injury and everything that happened after that there is all speculation of why you are not running good. You guys had asked the same question -- 'has that been a factor in it?' "It's been nice to kind of get it all put behind us and show everybody that is not what this is all about and that was not the factor. It just was getting cars to feel right. I think that was the biggest thing just trying to get through the speculation of 'can he do this anymore?' and 'why is he not competitive?' "When you finally get going and you start running up front with guys that you are used to running with again then you are getting text messages after the race saying 'hey it was glad to see you up there with us again.' That is the stuff that makes you feel like 'hey we are back where we belong now.'" Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet was eighth fastest in Friday's opening practice and 24th in the day's final session. MORE: Views from opening day at Indy Stewart's Brickyard victories came in 2005 and '07 while still competing for Joe Gibbs Racing. His best finish since joining SHR came in '09 when he placed third. Qualifying for Sunday's race is scheduled for Saturday at 1:45 p.m. ET. JGR driver Carl Edwards won the pole here a year ago while eventual series champion Kyle Busch won the race. "Everybody wants to win here," Stewart said. "Definitely want to win here myself. It would be pretty cool." MORE: Stewart claims second Brickyard crown
Allgaier scores Dash 4 Cash bonus on final restart
Justin Allgaier wins the Dash 4 Cash bonus at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by making a pass on teammate Elliott Sadler in the final laps.
Dual roles lead to success for Kligerman on, off track
As far back as mid-January, Parker Kligerman wasn't exactly sure what the 2016 season had in store for him. The 25-year-old knew he had a gig as part of NBC Sports' NASCAR coverage, but his driving plans were still in flux before a phone call changed that. Fast forward to today as the Camping World Truck Series is in a five-week off-period until April 2 at Martinsville Speedway and Kligerman's name is atop the point standings through two of the series' 23 races. Piloting the No. 92 truck for Ricky Benton Racing, Kligerman has notched a third-place result at Daytona International Speedway and an eighth-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway . However, all of this wouldn't have been possible had Kligerman not gotten a phone call while he was attending the Team Penske 50th Anniversary Party. "I got a call from Ricky and he said, 'Are you still available?’ " Kligerman told NASCAR.com. "I said, 'Absolutely. What do you want to do?' And he said, 'Let's go to Daytona.' As things built up and we got to know each other, got to know the team, it was like, hey, maybe we can do more." Doing more is exactly what the team intends to do. With the early portion of the Truck Series slate spread out, the opportunity arose to run the beginning part of the schedule before taking stock of where they stand. Kligerman said that decision was made closer to the Daytona race, but the strong start hasn't hurt the case to continue. "I think everyone is really committed to trying to do as many as possible and see if we can keep up this great run. I'd say in these next four (Martinsville, Kansas, Dover and Charlotte), we have a chance to win one here if we can put the race together." Kligerman has visited Victory Lane one time in his Truck Series career (Talladega in 2012) and a win would only help further the case to keep the band together and chase a championship. "Anytime you can get positive momentum like we have, you definitely need to capitalize on it," Kligerman explained. "A lot of times in this sport the sizzle is better than the steak. We're doing a lot of great things right now and we got a lot of buzz. We need to try and capitalize on it and use that to go further in the season." Benton told NASCAR.com that the hunt for some sponsorship is ongoing. "We had a little bit of marketing dollars to help us get started, and if we can find some more marketing dollars -- I have my business -- but other people, and if we can do good, we'll try to rake and scrape and do the best we can." Small-team success Benton owns over 30 Black's Tire Service shops in the Carolinas. He has been involved in racing on several levels, fielding a part-time entry in the Camping World Truck Series since 2010, and he has also been involved in the Late Model circuit and other forms of racing, winning the 1998 Winston Racing Series Atlantic Seaboard championship as well as the 2002 USAR Hooter ProCup title. During that time, Benton fielded teams that raced against Sprint Cup drivers Denny Hamlin , Brian Vickers and crew chief Rodney Childers. He describes himself and the team "as Saturday night racers." The 92 team, which is based out of Cerro Gordo, North Carolina (a town with a population of 207, according to data from the 2010 U.S. Census) is described by Benton as "just a little, small team. " "We don't have but three people in the shop this whole time," Benton added. Small-team success has been one of the early trends in the 2016 standings for the Camping World Truck Series as Kligerman leads the points driving for RBR (which has never run a full season), and John Hunter Nemechek (won at Atlanta and drives for family-run SWM-NEMCO Motorsports) and Tyler Young (drives for family-run Youngs Motorsports) are also in the top five of the standings. Kligerman believes that trend will continue. "The Truck Series right now is going through a huge transition in terms of smaller teams being able to succeed," Kligerman said. "If you look at Nemechek's team. Obviously, the 92 team. We are a vastly smaller team then we are seeing traditionally out of KBM ( Kyle Busch Motorsports), BKR ( Brad Keselowski Racing), ThorSport. I think that you are going to continue to see that in a lot of the measures the Truck Series is putting in and it's a good thing." Plenty of perspective Kligerman, an energetic Connecticut native, has been around the sport plenty to know a good thing when he sees it. During his NASCAR career, Kligerman has spent time with several organizations both big and small such as Team Penske and Kyle Busch Motorsports, and he had a full-time spot on the Sprint Cup driver roster lined up with Swan Racing. That ride came to an end just eight races into the 2014 season as a lack of sponsorship forced Swan Racing to restructure and sell its assets. "There were bright days. There were dark days," Kligerman said of the aftermath of his Cup ride going away in 2014. "There's days where you start to look back too much and get very nostalgic and that's the wrong thing to do. ... "I've always thought it's a cool deal to be doing what I'm doing at the age I am and have as many experiences I've had in the sport. As many different facets from the top teams, championship-caliber teams to teams that were growing and teams that have run into trouble. I've seen it all in such a short amount of time that I'm very grateful for that and I think it has allowed me to bring a good perspective to outside our sport." It's that perspective that led NBC to bring Kligerman on board for its NASCAR coverage in 2014 when Kligerman was out of a ride and not sure what the future held. "It started very informal and one thing led to another where basically I asked them where they were located and it was Stamford, Connecticut, and that's where I grew up," Kligerman said. "I kind of felt at the time there weren't a lot of good opportunities racing-wise. Just nothing that was exciting me. Nothing that felt like it was going to further my career so I decided let's go do this and see where it goes." Kligerman appears on NBC Sports Network's NASCAR programs such as "NASCAR America" and "NASCAR Victory Lap," offering his insight as a driver who has not only competed against many of the NASCAR Sprint Cup stars, but also still competes today. "Right now, I tell people I've got a very dynamic life at the moment in terms of doing the TV thing and driving," Kligerman says, "and I wouldn't change it for the world because I'm really enjoying it."
Bubba Wallace talks sponsors, chasing first win
Darrell Wallace Jr . didn't spend his XFINITY Series off-weekend lounging on a Caribbean beach or roaming a new city away from the race track. Instead, the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing driver was behind the wheel. Of a go-kart, that is. "Actually got right into (racing) but not with my (No. 6) guys," Wallace said Wednesday at one of NASCAR's offices in Charlotte, North Carolina. "I went go-kart racing, just try to get back into that and have some fun. Locals whooped me, but still had a lot of fun being able to do that. So, I was still racing, but nothing on the major scale. "(I was) able to learn all the hard (stuff) that went along with go-kart racing. God, it was so tough. I forgot everything that I remember from 13 years ago. Just putting that all together was actually a lot of fun – we had some speed, just the driver forgot how to drive a go-kart," he joked. Lucky for Bubba, this weekend's stage at Daytona International Speedway will be slightly bigger, faster and with a lot more drafting. And while it's not one of Wallace's favorite tracks, it appears he hasn't forgotten how to wheel a superspeedway car: the sophomore driver kicked off the 2016 season with a solid sixth-place result at the Florida track and led multiple laps in the '15 season-opener. Combined with his most recent pair of consecutive top-10 finishes and a runner-up at Dover in May, this weekend's forecast looks more sunny than stormy for the No. 6 driver. "We're just trying to look in-depth at what we're doing for our program and see how we can be better," Wallace said. "We know we're a top-10 race team each and every weekend. We've had some bad luck and some of it's been on us, that we've jeopardized those races and we've ended up outside of that. "But (to have) these last two, now it's starting to get the second half of the season, after that the Chase is starting. So we have to start coming up with a good game plan that we need to bring to each and every track and each and every weekend, so we can unload with a lot of speed and what we need to be competitive. We've been doing that (recently)." They've had additional support off-track as well: Loudmouth Exhaust Systems made its debut on the No. 6 car at Dover International Speedway , where Bubba recorded a career-best second-place result. Since then, the company has graced the car as a primary sponsor for three races and will adorn the No. 6 this weekend at Daytona International Speedway . In a world where sponsorship puts cars on track and lack of it takes names off entry lists, the new partnership has been huge for the 22-year-old racer, who has been transparent about his team's struggles to find primary partners. "Sponsorship is the name of the game," Wallace said. "We're still working hard to find that full-time primary sponsor, but Loudmouth has been a great partner of ours for a number of races now … They've been a huge help to our program to keep us going to the race track each and every weekend. (I'm) trying to do everything I can, as possible, to land that big-time sponsor." Wallace's sponsor schedule has come with some uncertainty -- he said he doesn't even know who is sponsoring his next XFINITY Series race at Kentucky Speedway on July 8. With the goal of landing a full-time sponsor, he's taken a more involved approach than many drivers do, whether it's grabbing lunch with potential partners or meeting with those ready to sign on the dotted line. "I try to be more hands-on, just so I can get a better understanding of what we've got and how I can be better at representing myself for my brand and my team," Wallace said. "I think one thing that's powerful is the drivers gain this personal relationship with the sponsor," he added. “And that's when you see the Lowe's that's with Jimmie Johnson , you see those M&M's with Kyle (Busch) -- they have this great relationship with the driver. There's no middle man and I think that's important." He'll have another chance to impress Loudmouth -- as well as other potential partners that Wallace says are in the works -- this weekend at Daytona International Speedway with Friday's Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Another top 10 would be great, but a win would be even better for the young driver. "(I'm) excited to have them back on the car at Daytona," Wallace said. "Hopefully we can bring the same amount of luck with them and get a win."
Zipadelli: Stewart win 'unbelievable,' huge for SHR
RELATED: Recap all of Stewart's wins Greg Zipadelli sat high atop Tony Stewart 's pit box, nervously watching his long-time friend and teammate work the field over the final laps of Sunday's Toyota - Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. Zipadelli spent 10 years as Stewart's crew chief at Joe Gibbs Racing , and together they won 33 races and a pair of Sprint Cup championships. Now, he is the vice president of competition at Stewart's own Stewart-Haas Racing team. As he watched Stewart lead the field in the closing laps, then get passed by Denny Hamlin midway through the last lap and then see Stewart dramatically re-take the lead in the final corner, Zipadelli was visibly balancing that deep and long friendship with Stewart with his genuine excitement for the organization's success. When it was over, it was time to exhale and reflect -- and be genuinely happy. After three years of Stewart's off-track challenges, including a serious back injury the three-time champ suffered in January, this victory was as emotional as it was validating. "Personally, it's just unbelievable to me he did it," Zipadelli said while watching Stewart take photos in Sonoma 's Victory Lane. "I'm just so proud of him and his effort, especially in the last three to four weeks. You've seen him turn a corner with his efforts, his attitude, learning these cars and running up front. "I've been telling these guys forever: He'll turn it on like a switch and you'll sit back and go, 'What in the hell?' It just happens. I've seen it for 18 years. Hopefully this is the switch and he'll have a good, strong run the rest of his career." RELATED: Stewart in his own words post-victory Stewart is coming off his first back-to-back, top-10 runs since 2014 with a seventh-place finish at Michigan in the previous race. He now has that required victory for an automatic position in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, but is still nine points out of the necessary top-30 points position as the series heads to Daytona International Speedway for Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). But Stewart – who missed the first eight races this year recovering from that back injury suffered in an off-season all-terrain vehicle accident -- has until the final race of the regular season Sept. 10 at Richmond (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) to get into the top 30 in points. Zipadelli couldn't be more encouraged. "I'm really proud of this group," Zipadelli said. "[Stewart's crew chief] Mike [Bugarewicz] has done a great job this year keeping this group together and slowly picking away at it, unloading with race cars with more speed, learning what Tony wants. "They got a little bit behind, but played the pit calls right. We had a bad pit stop, we took it away from him and he went back and got it back for us. "We think about [Stewart winning] every day, we talk about it. It's huge for our company having three cars most likely going into the Chase. "It's a big hats-off to all the guys back at Stewart-Haas, building these cars and allowing us to race. They're back there grinding sun up to sun down. We've got a lot going on with our company and they haven't taken their eye off the ball, so I couldn't be prouder of our people." RELATED: Rookie crew chief Bugarewicz reflects on Stewart's win
Truex's off-track triumphs bigger than championship
LAS VEGAS -- For 10 weeks, Martin Truex Jr . was the forgotten man, the guy seemingly racing in the shadows, there but not quite there. He wasn't the defending series champion; he wasn't the four-time champ seeking to go out on top; he wasn't the once-broken but far from beaten fellow scripting the most incredible comeback story. Others were battling for a chance at the title. Truex, the Furniture Row Racing driver, was racing to stave off elimination. Or so we thought. He was there but not quite there. Friday night, Truex found himself back in the shadows once more. Which was the biggest shame of all on a night of celebration for NASCAR and it's Sprint Cup Series. Moments after somehow holding himself together while giving an emotionally-charged speech that touched the hearts of many inside the Wynn Las Vegas, the 35-year-old entered the workroom across the way, ready to address the media for a final time before officially calling it a season. Instead, nearly everyone inside the workroom was focused on the television screen, watching a tearful Jeff Gordon accept accolades from mega-actor Tom Cruise. The annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Ceremony rolled onward. Even Truex seemed impressed, lingering long enough to note "How about Cole Friggin' Trickle being here? You believe that?" After a brief question or two, he departed, returning to join long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex back inside the ballroom. Overshadowed once more. There but not quite there. The New Jersey native had much to be proud of -- having proven the naysayers wrong by continuing to advance through each round of the Chase to eventually find himself, along with Kevin Harvick , Gordon and Kyle Busch , battling for the championship in the season-ending race. But addressing the crowd that filled the ballroom earlier, Truex eventually spoke of matters much closer to the heart. He thanked team owner Barney Visser ("They said it couldn't be done out of Denver. You showed them, didn't you? Good job, buddy."), and a long list of others, from Chevrolet officials for whom he had driven previously to Toyota partners that will come on board next season. He thanked family members, sponsors, and "especially the millions of fans who watch our sport each week." Racing is his livelihood, but it's not his life. There's much more, matters much more personal that puts what occurs each Sunday in perspective. "Most of us are faced with challenges at some point in our life," Truex said. "As most of you know, last year my long time partner Sherry was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. "As I'm sure you can imagine, the past year has been the most challenging time of our lives. Since Sherry's diagnosis, our priorities have changed. We've learned that life isn't just about living it's about being alive. And that's exactly what we're doing. "You've heard the saying, 'don't sweat the small stuff.' Well," he said somehow managing a chuckle, "we're trying not to sweat the big stuff either." The experience, he said, "has made us both better people," and truthfully, it's those of us who have watched the couple that should have been made better, just by the lessons they've shown us in dealing with adversity. "It's made me a better driver and most of all made us thankful for all the people around and try to give back as much as we can," he said. "So the only advice I have for you tonight is to enjoy every moment, celebrate life, help others, and never give up. … "Sherry, thank you for being my life. You're my inspiration and I love you very much." Truex didn't win this year's Sprint Cup Series title. He wasn't lauded, as was Harvick, for his role as the defending series champ. He wasn't bid a fond farewell, as was Gordon, who retires after a stellar 23-year career. Nor was he celebrated for rallying from injuries to wear the crown of champion, as was Busch. What he and Sherry did was much bigger. And we're the ones worse off for not noticing.
@nascarcasm Q&A with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -- aka 'Stenja'
RELATED: See Stenhouse Jr. compete on the show It's an age-old debate that's circulated around the world of professional sports for years -- are NASCAR drivers ninjas? Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr . is out to prove to the doubters that the answer is an unequivocal yes, as he takes a turn on the challenging "American Ninja Warrior" course on Monday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. NASCAR.com chose yours truly to interview Stenhouse, because of my encyclopedic knowledge of ninjitsu, gleaned from years of playing Mortal Kombat, listening to Wu-Tang Clan albums and sneaking stealthily into the office, several hours late for work. Stenhouse, a fierce devotee to physical fitness and the mysterious ways of the Shinobi, sat down with me to share his ninja thoughts before disapparating into the night. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN FIERCELY DEDICATED TO PHYSICAL FITNESS? IS THIS A RECENT DEVELOPMENT? Stenhouse: When I raced sprint cars when I was still in high school I would go to the gym at 5:30 in the morning before school, go to school, and then that way when I got out of school I didn't have to work out -- I could just work on my cars because I did all the work on my race cars. After growing up in the shop with my dad and him showing me how to do everything he sort of expected me to do it when I started racing. Probably two or three years ago I started doing CrossFit, so I feel like I've probably taken it a little more seriously since then. FOR FOLKS WHO DON’T FOLLOW YOU ON INSTAGRAM, COULD YOU PROVIDE A FEW DETAILS ON YOUR HOME GYM -- IT’S CALLED SLIDE JOB RANCH, I BELIEVE? Stenhouse: ' Slide Job' is more of a term for dirt racing. We do some slide jobs in NASCAR now, but it's a term used for when you slide up in front of somebody to pass somebody. And it just happens to be the same initials of 'Stenhouse Jr.' so it just kind of tied it all in together. ... AH, PERFECT … Stenhouse: … and we were able to build a home gym at the house. It's nice -- I'm able to work out and get done, get on the tractor and go mow, or get on the dirt bike and go ride. DIFFERENT DRIVERS HAVE THEIR PREFERRED WORKOUTS, WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON AND LANDON CASSILL WITH THE TRIATHLONS, AND BUBBA WALLACE JR. PLAYING DRUMS SHIRTLESS, ETC. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC WORKOUT? Stenhouse: CrossFit is the type of workout I do, and the guy that has won the CrossFit games four times in a row, Rich Froning -- every day he sends me a workout to do. So I have, the best programmer is what you would call him to send me workouts. It's funny, when he first started sending me workouts, one day he sent me a workout, and the next day I asked 'Hey, could you send me another workout?' and he said 'Did you do the one I sent you yesterday?' I was like, 'No…' and he was like 'Well do THAT one, THEN call me.' So he was pretty tough on me, but whenever he sends one to me I make sure I send him the results. SO ON TO THE SHOW ... HAVE YOU BEEN DOING SPECIFIC NINJA TRAINING FOR THIS? Stenhouse: I wish that I would have! I went to a gym in Dallas that had some "American Ninja Warrior" obstacle stuff. That was a lot of fun and I could do all the obstacles, but I did them in about an hour time period. I didn't do a lot of stuff back to back to back. And I didn't do everything here. I looked at the course yesterday and I haven't done any of the stuff that’s out here. They switch it up all the time. Yeah … I'm really nervous! I UNDERSTAND. IS THERE ONE PARTICULAR OBSTACLE OUT THERE THAT YOU ARE DREADING? Stenhouse: I’m not sure how the log roll is gonna go (NOTE: This obstacle is a log attached to a track on either side. The ninja must cling to the log for dear life, as it rolls downward about 20 feet, spinning the competitor rapidly until it reaches the end. Picture Bristol, but with a log). I am focused on getting through one at a time. If I make it to the fifth obstacle I'll be happy. I was telling some of the IndyCar guys (NOTE: IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and Josef Newgarden also compete), 'Man -- we should have done this in like, season two!' The course keeps evolving to meet the standards of the athletes who do this. I thought the course was a little easier a couple years ago when I first started watching than it is now. I wish I would have tried it a little bit sooner! GOTCHA. A LOT HAS BEEN MADE ABOUT NASCAR DRIVERS AND THEIR OFF-TRACK EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES. DOES JACK ROUSH KNOW YOU'RE A NINJA? Stenhouse: Um … probably not … OK … Stenhouse: … Jack has always been one to let his drivers enjoy what they do whether it be me riding dirt bikes or doing this ninja course or racing sprint cars. I haven't raced sprint cars for a while because he asked me not to for a while, but there’s nothing in our contracts that says we can't. Jack likes us to have fun -- I won a midget race over the offseason and he called me a couple days later to wish me a Merry Christmas. He asked me what I'd been up to and I was like, 'Umm … I won a midget race a couple of days ago … ' and he was like 'Oh, well how did that go?', so he's pretty laid back. DO YOU HAVE ANY PARTICULAR NINJAS YOU’VE IDOLIZED? Stenhouse: No, but when Danica and I started watching the show, Kacy (Catanzaro -- the first female to qualify for the 'American Ninja Warrior' finals) -- she was awesome. She got a huge following from people watching the show and it was really neat to see. But I think that if Chris Farley could be a ninja, I think that I could. THAT’S A VALID POINT. ASIDE FROM YOURSELF IF YOU COULD LOOK UP AND DOWN THE NASCAR ROSTER, WHAT DRIVER DO YOU THINK WOULD MAKE THE BEST NINJA? I JUST WANT TO COMPARE YOUR THOUGHTS TO MINE. I’VE PUT SOME DEEP THOUGHT INTO THIS. Stenhouse: Hmmm. I’m gonna have to think about this. Man. Honestly, I feel like it would be me. REALLY? Stenhouse: Yeah. INTERESTING. I DID NOT CHOOSE YOU. Stenhouse: Who were you thinking? MATT KENSETH, BECAUSE OF HIS ABILITY TO APPROACH WITH STEALTH. AND PAUL MENARD, BECAUSE OF HIS ABILITY TO MAINTAIN TOTAL SILENCE. Stenhouse: Ah -- see, I was thinking in terms of this course. I wasn't thinking of things like that. AND DENNY HAMLIN AND TONY STEWART, BECAUSE OF THEIR ABILITY TO THROW THINGS AT PEOPLE. Stenhouse: That's true. There's different ways of thinking about it. WELL I HAVE A LOT MORE FREE TIME THAN YOU DO, RICKY. IT’S OK, MAN. Stenhouse: Yeah, I was thinking of this course back here, and I think I could do better than any of the other drivers. UNDERSTOOD. FINAL QUESTION -- HAVE YOU THOUGHT OF A COOL NINJA NAME YET? BECAUSE “RICHARD THE NINJA” JUST DOESN’T WORK. Stenhouse: No … I have not. So if you want to give me one at some point ... "JACKIE CHAN-HOUSE JR." Stenhouse: I LIKE THAT -- that's solid. WELL, GOOD LUCK OUT THERE. IT’S AN HONOR TO BE ABLE TO SAY I WAS THE LAST ONE TO SPEAK TO RICKY STENHOUSE JR. BEFORE HE BECAME A FULL-FLEDGED NINJA. Stenhouse: I hope we do you proud. BEFORE YOU START RAPPELLING DOWN FROM COLOSSUS, OR NUNCHUCKING PEOPLE. Stenhouse: If I win, I'll do that. IS THAT A PROMISE? Stenhouse: That's a promise. The eighth season of "American Ninja Warrior" premiered on NBC on June 1.
Johnson focused on Kenseth, on and off track
Alan Cavanna keeps you Up to Speed from Martinsville, where Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth were near each other everywhere from the media center, to the garage and even on the scoring pylon Friday.
Kenseth, others weigh in on behavioral penalties
RELATED: NASCAR specifies penalties for behavioral issues DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Matt Kenseth said he has seen NASCAR's rule book updates, those referencing behavioral penalties and potential reactions from the sanctioning body that were announced Friday. His take? "Obviously, it would have been good to know that last season," the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said Saturday prior to final practice for Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Daytona International Speedway . Kenseth, the 2003 Sprint Cup Series champion, was suspended for two races during last year's Chase following an on-track incident involving himself and Team Penske driver Joey Logano at Martinsville Speedway . The contact effectively knocked Logano out of the championship hunt. The incident came two weeks after Logano spun Kenseth at Kansas Speedway , a move that put the JGR driver's title hopes in jeopardy. NASCAR officials unveiled specific penalties concerning member conduct, both on and off the track, that ranged from possible warnings for heat-of-the-moment outbursts to hefty fines, points penalties and possible suspensions for intentionally crashing a fellow driver. Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, said no specific on-track or off-track incident led to the changes. Not surprisingly, the Kenseth/Logano incident did come up when drivers were asked about violations and reactions on Saturday. "They have to be able to take action and everyone needs to be aware of what the repercussions could be of their actions," Aric Almirola ( Richard Petty Motorsports ) said. "At least if it's in black and white and you go do it, you know what's coming. You're not sitting like Matt Kenseth , wondering 'Will they treat me like Jeff Gordon in Phoenix with Clint Bowyer (in 2012) or are they really fed up this time and they're going to drop the hammer on me?' "Nobody really knew. Everybody was kind of waiting to see what NASCAR was going to do after Martinsville. I think it was time for them to really draw out the guidelines and let us know that a) that's not going to be tolerated and b) if we do something like that, here are the consequences." Brad Keselowski , Logano's teammate at Team Penske , said he didn't believe it was necessary for NASCAR to spell out the consequences for specific actions. "But I'm not a lawyer or someone that would go through those processes that would need it spelled out to feel good about it," the 2012 Sprint Cup champion said. "It seems pretty simple to me, very common sense. Don't (commit) a felony crime or do something dumb and keep your spot in the sport." The bigger concern, he said, was perception. "And this is a concern for all of society -- even though the law doesn't state it this way we've turned into a guilty until proven innocent society and there's a lot of concern about that," he said. While specific language detailing potential penalties concerning behavioral violations now exists in the rule book, officials will continue to treat all violations on a case-by-case basis. It was the not knowing, driver Ryan Newman said, that often caused previous decisions to be called into question. Having potential responses for violations in black and white "is not bad, but actually describing it and having some examples (is) probably a good thing for everybody," the Richard Childress Racing driver said. "If you just throw down a rule book and say 'This is how we expect you to act,' that's not my mom and dad. That's not how I think business should be run." As long as the distinctions are clear, team owner Richard Childress said, there shouldn't be any issues. "Which is a warning and which one will be the penalty?" he said. "To me, that's what needs to be clear." "We're all really competitive," Almirola added. "Any time we feel like we get something taken away from us or we're taken advantage of, most of our natural reaction is 'I'm going to get that guy back.' Right? "But it's a really corporate environment; I have great sponsors on my race car and on our race team. At the end of the day, I want to do a good job for them. Those guys pay the bills, they pay a lot of money and I want to be a good spokesman for those companies. "That's always in the back of my mind before I do something stupid."