Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 6, 2011
The NASCAR roundup …
LAS VEGAS — Matt Kenseth was confused when he learned Brian Vickers blamed him for last week’s wreck at Phoenix. After watching a replay of the 14-car accident, he wasn’t any clearer on what Vickers was upset about.
“I felt bad on the way home because I heard he was mad at me because somebody said he thought I caused the wreck and honestly I didn’t think I did,” Kenseth said.
Kenseth said he sent Vickers a text message to discuss the accident, and never heard back.
“I figured after I went home and watched the clip that I would get an apology,” he said. “But I never did. That’s OK. I don’t feel like I did anything wrong there.”
The two cars may have slight contact, but replays showed Vickers lost control of his Toyota and triggered the chain-reaction accident. Vickers blamed Kenseth and aggressive driving for the carnage.
“I felt like it was unnecessary and I’m sure it will come back to him,” he said after the accident.
Kenseth wasn’t worried about it at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he started on the pole for Sunday’s race. It’s just the fifth pole of Kenseth’s 12-year career.
STILL CELEBRATING: Jeff Gordon had already planned a trip to the “The Tonight Show” before he won last weekend’s race at Phoenix. But when he did the pre-interview for the show, he was in the worst slump of his career.
“They’re like, ‘What’s a funny story? What’s been going on? We know you haven’t won. Boy, it would be great if you could win before you get here,’” Gordon said.
He did that Sunday in Phoenix, ending his 66-race winless streak then jetting off to California to attend post-Oscar parties with Pixar and Disney animation chief John Lasseter.
“The whole night was just spectacular to be able to go into that room with that level of celebrity and power and Hollywood and everything,” Gordon said. “You’re just in awe of it. But then people come up to you and congratulate you. It was pretty cool. And the whole week was like that.”
It had been almost two years since he’d won a race. Gordon said the reaction in the grandstands in Phoenix may have been the best of his 83 career victories.
“It sent chills up my spine,” he said. “That was unbelievable. I don’t quite understand it to be honest with you — maybe a little bit of a sympathy vote.”
THE OTHER GORDON: — NASCAR placed Robby Gordon on probation Saturday for an incident involving Kevin Conway in the garage at Las Vegas.
NASCAR officials didn’t witness the run-in between the drivers, which was brought to NASCAR’s attention by Conway, according to vice president of competition Robin Pemberton. He said the period of Gordon’s probation has yet to be determined, and referred all questions to the two drivers.
Conway declined to discuss the matter, but said he filed a police report Friday evening.
MORE INSPECTION: NASCAR has started inspecting cars during practice sessions as an answer to a new rule that links practice performance to qualifying.
NASCAR this year is setting the qualifying order based on the lap times set in practice. So NASCAR called several teams in during Friday’s practice to be measured. In the past, the cars passed through the height sticks before qualifying.
“We set that early on because it does set the lineup, the order in which you qualify, that we would spot-check cars,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “We did it last week and we’ll continue to do that just to make sure that everything is on the up-and-up.”
TRUCK TEAM FOLDS: A lack of sponsorship has forced Brent Raymer Racing to suspend its Trucks Series team.