Page 2 for the week of 03-24-2014

The First Reid:  Once Again, Fontana Is Forgettable For Hamlin

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

Don’t blame Denny Hamlin if he develops the same sense of foreboding for Auto Club Speedway that Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch has for Kansas Speedway.

For Hamlin, the two-mile track in Fontana, Calif. is star-crossed, to say the least.

Last year, Hamlin missed four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races after breaking his back (a compression fracture of the first lumbar vertebra) after a collision with Joey Logano’s Ford sent his Toyota rocketing into the inside wall.

Naturally enough, one of the main story lines entering Sunday’s Auto Club 400 was a possible revenge play between Hamlin and Logano, but that show closed before the curtain went up.

Instead of walking to the starting grid, Hamlin rode to a local hospital on the morning of the race, suffering from a sinus infection serious enough to require immediate attention. Sam Hornish Jr. took his place in the No. 11 JGR Toyota and finished a solid 17th.

Hamlin was released from the hospital Sunday evening, with further observation and evaluation planned this week after his return to North Carolina, according to a statement his team released on Sunday night.

Coincidentally, Hamlin spent most more than 24 hours in the hospital before returning home after last year’s accident. A hospital certainly is an uncomfortable place for a driver to be.

But the most uncomfortable place a driver can be is anywhere outside his race car. Here’s to a speedy recovery that will keep Hamlin’s absence as short as possible.



“To allow teams a chance to gather data on a surface similar to that of Auto Club Speedway, NASCAR will allow testing on the lunar surface in 2015.”

·         “Aggressive camber setups and low air pressure caused several blown tires throughout the race. Fairly certain many teams’ Fontana setup notes will meet the same fate as their tires, in that they’ll be quickly shredded.”

·         “Fontana’s rough, bumpy surface is what gives it its character, and will hopefully not getting a facelift anytime soon. And in the Los Angeles area, turning down a facelift is damn rare.”

·         “The celebrities come out in full force when NASCAR comes to Fontana – a good thing too, because after last year’s post-race fireworks, the drivers need to be reminded that you don’t need to punch each other in the face in order to see stars.”

·         “Jimmie Johnson suffered bad luck for two straight weeks, which could spell trouble for the #48 team, especially with Martinsville coming up. It’s well-documented that Martinsville is Jimmie’s weak spot, as evidenced by his ownership of enough grandfather clocks for every world time zone.”


(Follow @nascarcasm on Twitter. His unique views on NASCAR are his own – but chances are you already knew that.)


5: The number of laps led by race winner Kyle Busch in Sunday’s Auto Club 500. That’s the lowest number of laps led by the Joe Gibbs Racing superstar in any of his 29 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories. Before Sunday’s race at two-mile Auto Club Speedway, Busch had led at list 12 laps in each of his wins.

7: The number of positions gained by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Kyle Larson in the final two laps of Sunday’s Auto Club 500. After a late caution, Larson restarted ninth for a green-white-checkered-flag finish and charged forward to battle Kyle Busch for the win before coming home second.

8: The number of career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories recorded by Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville Speedway, tied with Dover for his highest total at any track. After leading 104 laps Sunday at Fontana, only to see his winning chances ruined by  a late flat tire, Johnson has every reason to be happy heading to Martinsville this weekend.

6: The number of consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway won by Chevrolet drivers. Chevy has won 15 of the last 19 Cup events at the venerable .526-mile short track. Toyota has won the other four races in that span, all with Denny Hamlin behind the wheel.

21: The record number of cautions in the Oct. 21, 2007 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway, won by—who else?—Jimmie Johnson. In a race that went to overtime, drivers ran 127 of 506 laps under yellow, another track record.


In 2014, Hendrick Motorsports celebrates its 30th anniversary in NASCAR – and this weekend, specifically, its first win in what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. On April 29, 1984 at Martinsville Speedway, Geoffrey Bodine took his No. 5 Chevrolet to Victory Lane for a single-car operation then known as All-Star Racing. A year later, the team changed its name to Hendrick Motorsports. And three decades later, that tiny operation has evolved into a four-car juggernaut that has captured 219 wins, along with a record-setting 11 premier series championships and 14 national series titles. Since 1984, 16 different drivers have won a race with Hendrick Motorsports, led by Jeff Gordon with 88 victories. … Dale Earnhardt Jr. has never won at Martinsville Speedway, but the statistics suggest he’s due – big time. In the all-telling driver rating – a loop data stat which takes into account a number of on-track measurements – Earnhardt has earned a 98.9 at Martinsville, making the Virginia short track his most successful in terms of the loop data stat. … The Kyle Busch countdown continues. Busch led five laps on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, bringing his career total to 9,938. He needs 62 more to become the 15th driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history to reach 10,000 career laps led.

Tweets Of The Week

Ricky Stenhouse Jr @StenhouseJr
What a day… Glad that’s over!! But 1 thing to take away… The FANS showed up at Cali and made lots of noise!!! Awesome to see!!

Holly Cain NASCAR.COM  @_HollyCain
Wow. Tony Stewart says he’d be a math teacher if not racing.

Five races, five different winners.

Robert Griffin III‏@RGII

“@DaleJr: I’m sure the fans here can persuade him to make the trip. @RIRprez @RGIII @FOXSports @RIRInsider @NASCAR” I’m game brother

Dale Earnhardt Jr. @DaleJr
No doubt Kyle Larson wins on the cup side this year. He’s damn good and surrounded by solid improving team. @88_Coconut @KyleLarsonRacin

Jimmie Johnson@JimmieJohnson
Say what, no chance you’re up at 5 am bro. @DaleJr: West coast time change is kickin my butt. Bet I’m up by 5AM.

Brad Keselowski @keselowski
With respect to those who don’t- I like long races. Guess I’m in the minority…

Ryan McGee@ESPNMcGee
If they ever try to repave this place (Auto Club Speedway)  I will lay down in front of the asphalt trucks like an old hippie. #NASCAR

Kyle Larson @KyleLarson
What a dang weekend!! I’m still trying to figure out how I got to 2nd. Big thanks to everyone @CGRTeams @Target congrats @KyleBusch

Mark Martin @MarkMartin

I have already moved on. RT @TheOrangeCone: @markmartin is there any part of it you miss, or have you cleansed it from your system?? 🙂

Orange Cone @TheOrangeCone

Want people to notice you and respond to you on Twitter? Be original. Be you. Don’t rip other people off.

Tune-In: NASCAR On Television, Week of March 24-30

Monday, March 24

4 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

6:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

2:30 a.m. (Tue.), NASCAR Now, ESPN2

Tuesday, March 25

4 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

6:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

2:30 a.m. (Wed.), NASCAR Now, ESPN2

3 a.m. (Wed.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Auto Club Speedway (re-air), FOX Sports 1

Wednesday, March 26

4 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

6:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

8 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Auto Club Speedway (re-air), FOX Sports 2

Thursday, March 27

4 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

6:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

Friday, March 28                                                  

11 a.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Greenville, FOX Sports 1

Noon, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice,

FOX Sports 1

1:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub Special, FOX Sports 1

2:30 p.m., 1 on 1: Jimmie Johnson (re-air),

FOX Sports 1

3 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Final Practice, FOX Sports 1

4:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Qualifying, FOX Sports 1

7:30 p.m., 1 on 1: Jimmie Johnson (re-air), FOX Sports 1

3 a.m. (Sat.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice (re-air), FOX Sports 1

4:30 a.m. (Sat.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Qualifying,

FOX Sports 1

Saturday, Mar. 29

10 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Practice, FOX Sports 1

11 a.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Qualifying,

FOX Sports 1

1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Final Practice, FOX Sports 2

2:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Martinsville, FOX Sports 1

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub Special (re-air), FOX Sports 2

6:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Martinsville (re-air), FOX Sports 2

Sunday, Mar. 30

11 a.m., 1 on 1: Jimmie Johnson (re-air), FOX Sports 1

11:30 a.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FOX Sports 1

12:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Pre-Race Show, FOX

1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Martinsville, FOX

1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Martinsville, FOX Deportes

7 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lane, FOX Sports 1


2014 Winners

Pos  Driver                 Wins

1.      Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1

2.      Kevin Harvick        1

3.      Brad Keselowski                   1

4.      Carl Edwards          1

5.      Kyle Busch               1

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Pos     Driver                Points

1         Carl Edwards        186

2         Dale Earnhardt Jr.               185

3         Jeff Gordon            184

4         Brad Keselowski 182

5         Matt Kenseth         179

6         Jimmie Johnson   165

7         Kyle Busch                             158

8         Ryan Newman     150

9         Austin Dillon #     150

10       Joey Logano          146

11       Denny Hamlin      140

12       Jamie McMurray 138

13       Brian Vickers        137

14       Paul Menard          134

15       Ricky Stenhouse Jr.            132

16       Kyle Larson #       131

NASCAR Nationwide Series

Pos     Driver                    Points

1         Regan Smith         185

2         Trevor Bayne      185

3         Ty Dillon #                            179

4         Chase Elliott #     177

5         Elliott Sadler        174

6         Brendan Gaughan              160

7         Brian Scott            160

8         D. Kwasniewski #              149

9         James Buescher  145

10       Mike Bliss                              125

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Pos  Driver                   Points

1      Timothy Peters       43

2      Johnny Sauter          41

3      Ron Hornaday Jr.    39

4      Ryan Blaney                             38

5      Jeb Burton                37

6      Joe Nemechek         36

7      Jimmy Weller III    35

8      German Quiroga     34

9      Ryan Sieg                   33

10    Tyler Reddick               32



The Race:

STP 500

The Place:

Martinsville Speedway

The Date/Time:

Sunday, March 30, 1 p.m. ET


Radio: MRN,

Sirius XM Ch. 90



The Race:

Kroger 250

The Place:

Martinsville Speedway

The Date/Time:

Saturday, March 29,

3:30 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Sports 1

Radio: MRN,

Sirius XM Channel 90

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.