Jimmie Johnson said Hendrick Motorsports did not turn in Penske Racing, which was severely penalized by NASCAR this week because of issues related to the rear end housings of Brad Keselowski’s and Joey Logano’s cars at Texas.
“No, the Hendrick group and the No. 48 team did not rat out the Penske cars,” said Johnson, whose garage, as Sprint Cup points leader, is next to defending champion Keselowski. “We didn’t say anything. We are a company built on performance. We try to understand the rulebook as close as we can.
“Sure, there was a lot of activity around the Penske cars during the test day (on the Thursday before the Texas race), just like all the other cars, and everybody is watching, everybody is looking, but in no way shape or form did anybody from the No. 48 car walk into that (NASCAR hauler) and say anything.”
Security heightened at Kansas Speedway
Kansas Speedway president Pat Warren declined to discuss specifics, but indicated security would be heightened for this weekend’s races, including the STP 400 on Sunday.
“We have an emergency action plan, which was created before the facility was opened, and we review it before and after every event,” Warren said.
“Monday afternoon, we were literally meeting with the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department when the situation in Boston occurred. We knew at that point we needed to make sure we crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every ‘i.’ We’re comfortable that we have.”
The first race in Kansas Speedway history took place in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City.
“If our security level was a 10 then, we might have been at an 8 1/2 last October, and we’re going to be at a 9 or a 9 1/2 this weekend,” Warren said.
Fans bringing coolers or backpacks into the grandstands are asked to allow an extra 15 minutes to navigate security and be patient.
“What we’re doing is for everyone’s safety and security,” Warren added. “We’re doing everything we think we can reasonably do to make the facility safe.”
Gordon wrecks in qualifying
Jeff Gordon will drive his backup car Sunday after getting loose in turn two during qualifying on Friday and smashing the back end of his primary car.
Earlier in the day, Gordon expressed shock at the track record-setting speeds during practice.
“It is mind-boggling how fast it is out there,” he said. “It’s hard for my old brain to process some of the speeds that we’re carrying out there. I’m telling you, it’s insane. The cars have a lot of grip, which allows you to push the limits of them.”
Perhaps Gordon pushed a little too hard.
“It felt so good coming (into turns) three and four that I wanted to get back to that gas early and hard down there and run some of the lap times that some of the guys are running, but obviously it didn’t stick,” Gordon said.
Farmland donates $20,000 to Harvesters
Kansas City-based Farmland Foods, which is sponsoring the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Sprint Cup Car driven by Aric Almirola, presented a check for $20,000 to Harvesters Community Food Network on Friday.
The $20,000, plus 43 cases of Farmland Oven Perfect pork will provide 100,000 meals for families in the Kansas City area. The presentation is part of a year-long goal of $100,000 in donations at other NASCAR races.
“Our team understands how important fighting hunger is in communities across the country,” said Petty. “We are excited to kick off race weekend by helping present Farmland’s check and raising awareness about hunger issues.”
Martin Truex Jr. led 173 laps in last year’s STP 400 at Kansas Speedway only to finish second to Denny Hamlin. He also finished second to Matt Kenseth in the fall race.
And last week when Truex appeared to have the race at Texas won, Kyle Busch overhauled him with less than 20 laps to go, and Truex finished second. Again. And he’s tired of it.
“I feel like we’ve been in this boat and this position a bunch of times,” said Truex, has gone 210 races since his only win, at Dover in 2007. “Nothing about it is much fun. Running second (stinks), especially when you’re that fast.
“It’s so hard to get in position to win these races. It is so hard to make your car good enough to beat Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch, and we had that (last week). We’ve got to get better at taking advantage of that. Second is a great accomplishment, but it’s not what we’re here for.”
Turner Scott Motorsports James Buescher and Jeb Burton turned the fastest laps in NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series practice on Friday.
Buescher, the defending series champion and winner of last year’s race at Kansas Speedway, had the fastest laps in a Chevrolet during both practices (178.873 and 178.737), and his best consecutive 10-lap average of 175.226 was the top speed. Rookie Burton, also in a Chevrolet, turned the second-fastest laps in each practice, 178.613 and 177.526.