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Friday, March 22, 2013
Updated: March 23, 3:20 PM ET
NASCAR: Live from California

Junior not a Duke fan

FONTANA, Calif. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent almost as much time talking about basketball as racing during his media availability Friday at Auto Club Speedway -- and he's off to the best start of his racing career with four straight top-10s.

He began with his NCAA basketball bracket, the first time he's filled one out. He was 11-5 on Friday morning and has Indiana beating Duke for the national championship.

"I'm not a Duke fan,'' said Earnhardt, who pulls for the University of North Carolina in basketball.

Then the conversation oddly turned to tennis shoes. A few years ago, NASCAR's most popular driver had a deal with adidas and wore them at the track. That deal has gone away, so now he wears Asics.

"I don't need a shoe deal,'' Earnhardt said. "I don't play basketball or anything like that.''

-- David Newton


"I don't have Twitter, so I didn't get to follow it too closely.'' #DaleJr on @dennyhamlin and @joeylogano feud last week. #nascar

— David Newton(@DNewtonespn) March 22, 2013


Hamlin, Logano moving on?

Don't look for Joey Logano to seek retaliation against Denny Hamlin on Sunday.

Both drivers say they are focused on winning races and making the Chase, not wrecking each other as Hamlin did to Logano last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

"We both have the same goal in mind,'' Hamlin said. "The first thing is you need to win races. The second thing is you need to make the Chase. Messing with each other on the racetrack is a huge distraction for that. You cannot do your job a hundred percent the way you're supposed to if you're constantly worried about somebody else.

"My guess is going into this weekend and beyond he's going to be worried about his program and I'm going to be worried about mine.''

Stay tuned.

-- David Newton


Friday ACS NSCS practice speeds (pdf) at

— Jayski (@jayski_nascar) March 22, 2013


Very fast @phoenixracing51 @teamchevy really proud of the guys for building a brand new fast racecar.

— AJ Allmendinger (@AJDinger) March 22, 2013


My grandpas initials. Lots of great memories with both of them. Grandparents are the best!

— Kasey Kahne (@kaseykahne) March 22, 2013


Nice artwork, Kasey

First Kasey Kahne gets attention during the offseason for a fade haircut that was so bad team owner Rick Hendrick offered him $20 to finish the job.

Now he has a tattoo.

Kahne tweeted a picture of his left bicep with the initials "R D P | K S K" after arriving in California.

"My grandpas initials,'' he wrote. "Lots of great memories with both of them. Grandparents are the best!''

Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson apparently spent his down time at an ice cream parlor, but there was a time when he just entered the Nationwide Series that he almost got a tattoo.

"We went out with the guys and we ended up at a tattoo parlor,'' Johnson said. "Thankfully, the guy sent me home and said to come back when I was sober. I had a brilliant idea of 'WFO' tattooed on my right foot. I'm thankful that didn't go through and they sent me home.''

-- David Newton


. @antronbrown catches up with @clintbowyer @acsupdates. He's in the #nascar driver's seat. Wonder how he likes it?

— M. Waltrip Racing (@MWRteam) March 22, 2013


Top Fuel ace pays visit

NHRA star Antron Brown was hanging out at Auto Club Speedway on Friday as a guest of Toyota. He said it was just for fun, but I believe he's scouting the NASCAR drivers he'll be playing softball against the Wednesday before the April 19-21 4Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C.

"I think we can take them,'' Brown said. "We've got some pretty good athletes on our team.''

And everyone knows NASCAR drivers aren't athletes.


-- David Newton


It's time! Cup practice beginning at Auto Club Speedway; then Nationwide practice; then Cup qualifying. The madness is on the track! #NASCAR

— NASCAR on ESPN (@ESPNNASCAR) March 22, 2013


@danicapatrick readies herself for practice @acsupdates

— Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) March 22, 2013


Danica staying upbeat

Danica Patrick hasn't had much to smile about since finishing eighth in the Daytona 500. She finished 39th at Phoenix, 33rd at Las Vegas and 28th at Bristol to fall to 30th in owner points.

But the Stewart-Haas Racing driver isn't getting down on herself.

"Every weekend you find there's good and there's bad to it,'' she said Friday at Auto Club Speedway. "You're going to remember the good the most. [At] Phoenix blowing a right front tire and the next couple of weeks not getting the balance right for the race, those are things that happen.

"You can't let it get you down and you can't be mad.''

-- David Newton


California Kid @kylelarsonracin is in the house. Busy schedule. Going to race Outlaws with Smoke in Stockton. #nascar

— David Newton(@DNewtonespn) March 22, 2013


SWAT team
Will Joey Logano (blue cap) need a SWAT team for Sunday's Sprint Cup race in Fontana? Not likely.

Logano gets physical

Joey Logano seemed a bit surprised that going over a hurdle was part of the obstacle course in a friendly Thursday afternoon challenge with the Inland Valley Regional SWAT team.

So I asked: Who's your backup for Sunday? (Just in case Logano bit the dust.)

"Denny Hamlin,'' Logano said with a laugh.

At least Logano has kept his sense of humor about last week's run-in with his former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate at Bristol Motor Speedway that led to a postrace shoving match among crew members and a mild Twitter war between the drivers.

For the record, Logano hasn't talked to Hamlin about why he spun Logano out while battling Jeff Gordon for the lead or about what happened after the race.

"No,'' he said. "I feel like I've told him everything I can tell him. I've got nothing to say.''

But Logano did have fun with the SWAT team at Colton High School as part of sponsor Shell Pennzoil's Fuel for Success program. His team -- which included me as an anchor (not in a good way) -- was 14 seconds down after the obstacle-course run.

But it rebounded by winning the go-kart competition by two minutes.

Logano did take a stumble diving under the second hurdle, but he doesn't need a backup driver.

-- David Newton

Smiles for the Biff

About 900 kids from nearby Troth Street Elementary will be cheering for Greg Biffle on Sunday.

That's because Biffle's sponsor, 3M, provided each with a dental kit on Thursday that included sugar-free gum, stickers and a Spinbrush. The kit was part of the sponsor's "Give Kids A Smile'' program that featured Biffle's 3M Ford Fusion, team spotter Joel Edmonds and the 3M Pit Bull.

Gift bags can go a long way toward extending one's fan base.

-- David Newton


Phoenix Racing: The little team that could. #NASCAR @dnewtonespn

— Joe Breeze (@JoeBreezeESPN) March 22, 2013


#FlashbackFriday @jimmiejohnson first win was in April 2002 @acsupdates @lowesracing @teamhendrick #NASCAR

— Harold Hinson Photo (@HHinsonPhoto) March 22, 2013

Life in La-La Land

David Newton
Our guy David Newton looks downright comfy behind Jay Leno's desk, doesn't he?

FONTANA, Calif. -- One of the perks of coming to Southern California for a race is getting to do cool things around Los Angeles about an hour from the track.

On Thursday, I found myself behind Jay Leno's desk on the set of "The Tonight Show'' posing for pictures. I even got to spend a few minutes with Leno talking about the difficulties he had auctioning off one of President George W. Bush's pickups for charity at the Barrett-Jackson auction earlier this year.

Among Leno's guests this day was a band called Atlas Genius. I'm not sure "genius" really applies, since one of the members said he was a fan of NASCAR but couldn't name a driver other than Danica Patrick.

That's Hollywood.

-- David Newton