NASCAR notebook

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 27, 2011

Associated Press
SONOMA, Calif. ó Tony Stewart understood why Brian Vickers wrecked him late in Sundayís race at Infineon Raceway.
But heís not sorry for starting the tit-for-tat incidents that began when Stewart intentionally spun Vickers earlier in the race.
ěI probably had it coming because I dumped him earlier, but I dumped him because he was blocking,î Stewart said. ěIf anybody wants to block all year, thatís what Iím going to keep doing, so they can handle it however they want.î
Thatís a standard refrain from Stewart, who has grown increasingly frustrated with a lack of on-track etiquette. He complained after last weekís race at Michigan that drivers were ěa bunch of idiotsî on restarts.
ěIíve been complaining about the way guys have been racing all year,î Stewart said. ěI like Brian, Iím not holding it against him at all. I donít care if it was (teammate) Ryan Newman, I would have dumped him too. If they want to block thatís what is going to happen to them every time for the rest of my career.î
Vickers denied blocking Stewart, and certainly didnít think he had done anything to warrant Stewart starting the seven-car accident.
ěI wasnít blocking him. That may have been his perception from where he was sitting,î Vickers said. ěItís pretty early in the race to worry about blocking someone, or wrecking someone.î
Vickers said he had to move when Kyle Busch went off course and tried to come back onto the track, and Vickers was limited because of slower cars in front of him.
ěI think when he sees the replay and he realizes why I went low ó if he looks at it out of my front windshield ó heíll realize it had nothing to do with him,î Vickers said. ěIt had to do with (Busch) almost wrecking me, and a couple of other guys running slow up top.
ěItís unfortunate. He made his bed at that moment, and he had to sleep in it.î
Vickers did, however, think the issue was over.
ěThe way I see it, weíre all good. Weíre all square,î Vickers said. ěHe wrecked me, and I dealt with it.î
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is no fan of Infineon Raceway, and that didnít change Sunday after an early wreck ultimately ended his race.
Earnhardt was collateral damage in a seven-car accident triggered when Tony Stewart moved Brian Vickers out of his way at the entrance to Turn 11. The damage included a hole in Earnhardtís radiator, and his engine eventually blew, leading to just his second DNF since 2009.
ěIím not a big fan of the place, but maybe one of these days,î Earnhardt said, noting the physical nature ěis just the way the road courses are. Thatís the way the race has been here for a while, and you know what you sign up for when you show up on Friday.î
Next up is Daytona, where Earnhardt could snap his three-year losing streak. But he surprisingly wasnít looking forward to that race because of the changes in the drafting style. Long a fan of pack racing, Earnhardt doesnít enjoy the two-car tandems ó even though he pushed teammate Jimmie Johnson to a victory at Talladega in April.
ěIím not looking forward to going to Daytona, not with the way the drafting is there,î he said. ěBut weíll just have to see if we can get lucky out there. Whatís after Daytona? Iíll be glad to go there.î
Max Papis is still steaming over a late-race move by Jacques Villeneuve that took away Papisí chance to win the Nationwide Series race on Saturday at Road America.
Papis traveled to Sonoma after his 23rd-place finish to help coach Joey Logano during the Sprint Cup race. After, he admitted to still being annoyed with Villeneuve, a former Formula One world champion whom Papis has known for more than 20 years.
ěYou need to come into the sport with more humbleness,î Papis said. ěFor me, what he showed was zero respect toward my five years of trying to make it happen. Thatís what people think, they can come into NASCAR and kick everyoneís (butt), and thatís not the case. To me, it was a big disappointment because of that attitude.î
Papis was, however, extremely proud of Loganoís sixth-place finish. Heís been working with Logano over the past month, and tested with him two weeks ago at Road Atlanta. On Sunday, he was on the team radio helping guide Logano.
ěI told him he knows what he has to do. My job was just to give him extra motivation, guiding him, making sure that he was not greedy,î Papis said. ěI told him when I went testing, ëYou have the ability to do it, you need to know when to use all your stuff or not.í I think what Iíve been able to coach him and guide him is more up in the brain and just making sure that he really believes in himself.
ěI was really proud to see that he never give up.î
Papis would take no credit for Loganoís career-best run, but Logano gave it to him.
ěMax is the man,î Logano said. ěEverything he does, he just makes total sense. Heís just done this for so long he knows exactly what to do out there. Him being another driver you can really relate to what he is saying. I thought it was great.î
TRUEX TURNAROUND: Martin Truex Jr. thought he was experiencing deja vu when he was spun in Turn 11 for the second consecutive year. But he bounced back to finish eighth ó his second top-10 finish in the last three races.
ěWe had a great car. It was fast. Just got spun out once,î Truex said. ěStill a good day for us. We had a fast car. Everything held up.î
Truex actually worked his way into the top four and thought he had a shot at beating Busch. But he ran down his tires at the end, and dropped four spots over the final few laps.
ěWe thought for a while there we were going to have a shot for the win, I just ran the tires off it,î he said. ěI wanted to win. I thought we had something for Kurt.î
The Associated Press
06/26/11 20:28