Charity ride reveals Texas' love of racing

May 5, 2010, 10:14 PM

By: Eddie Gossage

Day 5 of Kyle Petty's "Charity Ride Across America" included a 502-mile ride through the Lone Star State between Amarillo and Texarkana.

It is certainly great to be back home. You can tell that Texas is home to the best fans in motorsports. The outpouring of support we've seen since we crossed the state line has been remarkable.

When we drove through other states, we'd see people here and there, but as soon as we made our way into Texas we saw fans taking photos on overpasses and supporters lining the streets and holding signs. A group of fans who call themselves "TMS Nation" made the trip to Nocona to show their support and make a donation to Victory Junction. Like I remind everyone, Texas isn't just a football state; Texas is also a racing state.

Along on this year's ride is 2003 Sprint Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth. People don't realize that Matt has a wicked sense of humor, and that was on full display Wednesday as he was giving Kyle Petty's son Austin a hard time.

Kenseth, a longtime Green Bay Packers fan, and Austin, a Philadelphia Eagles fan, decided to place a bet on the season-opening game between the two. Matt was egging him on and told him, "If your team is so good, then they should back it up."

That's Matt for you.

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No fooling: Can't ignore Gordon-Johnson rivalry

April 25, 2010, 6:29 PM

By: Eddie Gossage

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

When Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson ran into each other last week in Texas during the running of the Samsung Mobile 500, not much was made of the appearance of a rift in the teammates' relationship. Not even with red-handed evidence of Gordon's anger at Johnson. Gordon spewed his frustration over the radio, which was caught and replayed by the television network. While some media talked about it, few played up the issue to a scale I expected.

Then came Talladega.

With seven laps to go, Gordon was to be leading a freight-train of cars that ducked under Johnson nearing the end of the back straightaway. The draft is more critical at Talladega than any other speedway. Even though there wasn't a car or a hot dog wrapper to offer the benefit of a draft for a couple hundred yards ahead of Johnson, he pulled down two lanes to slide in front of Gordon, forcing his teammate off the track, below the yellow line and, more importantly, broke his momentum. That jumbled the rest of the field. Ugly.

Texas was once. Now Talladega was twice. Shame on somebody.

Expect the NASCAR media horde to be in full-throttle rivalry mode this week. Controversy. Finger-pointing. Live, live, live! This week's NASCAR!

If the incidents were some sort of strange coincidence or not what they appear to be to the naked eye, Johnson should say so. And if there is a rivalry heating up here, the two drivers should quickly work to repair the brotherly love that has been dented in this high-speed demolition derby of emotions.

Gordon has talked about it to the media for the last two weeks. He hasn't pulled any punches.

"We got a huge push down the back straight," Gordon said at Talladega. "Someone gave me a shove and I was coming 10 mph faster than anybody. The 48 [Johnson] is testing my patience. It takes a lot to get me mad, and I am pissed right now. When a car is going that much faster ... I don't know what it is with him and me right now." I've gotten a couple of telephone calls and e-mails since the race, complaining that Johnson wasn't asked any tough questions by the media today. The truth is, he's not required by NASCAR to talk to the media after the race unless he finishes in the top five. It's his prerogative to leave the track without comment, if that is what he did. I would say it's rather smart to take time, cool off and collect his thoughts.

No other sport allows the media such immediate access. If a quarterback pulls a bone-headed play to lose a game on the 1-yard line in the final seconds of a game, he is given time to undress, shower, meet with the trainer, etc., before he answers any questions. That's quite a bit of time to cool off and think about what you are going to say. In NASCAR, how many times have you seen a driver interviewed while still in the car, helmet on? It's one of the charms of our sport. So cut Johnson some slack.

But if we have a rivalry -- and with two incidents in two straight races, it certainly appears we do -- then what is the root? Where did it start?

I have known of rivalries in this sport that have started over girls. Over sponsors. Over junior high school behavior.

But when two four-time champions on the same team start butting heads and running into each other at almost 200 mph, it's big news. These are two of the classiest guys ever to have graced the sport participating in an old school NASCAR grudge match. It's not what we expect from these two.

My best guess is it's simply two thoroughbreds operating out of the same stall. Eventually somebody starts feeling their oats. Who knows what has been said. Who knows who stepped on who's toes. The bottom line is both want to win. And in NASCAR, only one guy gets to go to Victory Lane.

Expect the PR folks at Hendrick Motorsports to start throwing water on the fire that is rivalry talk. Once again this week, the two will meet, get things off their chest and reportedly be seen singing "Kumbaya" together.

But I don't buy it. They said that after the first incident last week in Texas. Now Talladega.

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice ..."

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Hamlin lucky brakes aren't needed much at TMS

April 19, 2010, 7:08 PM

By: ESPNDallas.com

Denny Hamlin, driving less than three weeks after surgery to fix the ACL of his left knee, said it's a good thing there's not a lot of braking necessary at Texas Motor Speeedway. Check out the whole interview above and read about the race here. ESPN motorsports columnist Terry Blount provides his analysis of Hamlin's Sprint Cup victory here.

In the second race of the Monday doubleheader, the result of weekend rain, Kyle Busch continued his TMS dominance by winning the Nationwide race at the track for the fight straight time. Read more about it here.

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Could race-altering crash have been avoided?

April 19, 2010, 7:21 PM

By: ESPNDallas.com

The NASCAR Now roundtable takes a look at the major crash that took out the leaders and opened the door for Denny Hamlin to drive to victory in the Sprint Cup Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

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Hamlin takes checkered flag for Samsung Mobile 500

April 19, 2010, 3:51 PM

By: ESPNDallas.com

Denny Hamlin went ahead in the closing 12-lap shootout for a victory at Texas Motor Speedway on Monday, holding off Jimmie Johnson at the end to win another rain-delayed race.

For more, go here.

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Sprint Cup race postponed until 11 a.m. Monday

April 18, 2010, 3:36 PM

By: ESPNDallas.com

It's official. There will be no racing at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday because of the wet weather.

The Sprint Cup Samsung Mobile 500 race has been rescheduled for 11 a.m. (CT) Monday and will be televised on Fox.

The Nationwide O'Reilly Auto Parts 300, which had been pushed back from Saturday to Sunday night, is now scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday and will be televised on ESPN2.

Fans holding tickets for either race over the weekend will be allowed to attend both events Monday. Tickets for the doubleheader will also be made available starting at $91. Call the TMS ticket office at 817-215-8500 for information.

Gates will open at 9 a.m.

This is the second time in the 14-year history of TMS that a race will be run on a Monday. The other time was in April of 2002.

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Update: TMS Sprint Cup race in rain delay

April 18, 2010, 11:37 AM

By: ESPNDallas.com

As of late this morning, the Samsung Mobile 500 is on track to start as scheduled, despite precipitation in the area.

Here's the latest from a TMS news release:

A light mist is hovering over Texas Motor Speedway, but a break is expected by early afternoon according to the National Weather Service and allow for the running of the Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Once the mist subsides, the jet dryers immediately will take to the track to begin drying the 1.5-mile oval in preparation for the start of the Samsung Mobile 500. The Samsung Mobile 500 currently is scheduled for a 2:16 p.m. CT green flag.

Updates on the weather and start time will be announced as further information arrives.

UPDATE: There's a rain delay at TMS. No sign of when they might get started. Follow ESPN.com's live chat here for the latest.

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Jeff Gordon visits U.S. National Guard

April 17, 2010, 2:08 PM

By: ESPNDallas.com

Jeff Gordon and Marty Smith pay a visit to the men and women of the U.S. National guard.

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Cut-Away Car: How the spoiler affects TMS race

April 14, 2010, 4:18 PM

By: ESPNDallas.com

Randy LaJoie explains how the return of the spoiler will affect racing at Texas Motor Speeway in Sunday's Samsung Mobile 500.

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NASCAR's 'Silly Season' gets off to an early start

April 14, 2010, 11:12 AM

By: Eddie Gossage

Officials with Richard Petty Motorsports announced Tuesday that Kasey Kahne, their No. 1 driver, has signed an agreement to race for Hendrick Motorsports in 2012.

Only seven races are complete in the 2010 season and drivers are already jumping from team to team.

Obviously Kahne and Hendrick would have preferred to have kept their agreement hush-hush, but RPM wanted to let the world know. Angry remarks by a jilted lover? Who knows. But it is big news.

Does this mean somebody is leaving Hendrick Motorsports after 2011? A team is only allowed to have four entries and Hendrick already fields cars for Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Some would think Kahne will replace Martin, who cut back to a shortened schedule a few years ago but returned full-time and almost won the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship last year. But could it be another driver in Hendick's stable moving on  or out -- after 2011? That leaves Johnson, Gordon or Earnhardt open to the speculation. Not likely.

It could also mean that a satellite operation of Hendrick Motorsports, perhaps Stewart-Haas Racing, will field a car for Kahne. They already have entries for Tony Stewart and last week's winner, Ryan Newman. Sponsorship will be key, but apparently the Budweiser sponsorship at RPM expires this season. Perhaps they will want to move with Kahne?

NASCAR's "Silly Season," the time of year where rumors run rampant about drivers hopping from team to team, used to start in September and October. Now apparently it starts in April. Two years early.

We're going to need a souvenir program to keep up.

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