Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 15, 2012
The NASCAR notebook …
FORT WORTH, Texas — The NASCAR weekend wasn’t done after the Sprint Cup race in Texas on Saturday night.
For the first time since 2004, NASCAR raced at Rockingham Speedway when the Camping World Truck Series ran there Sunday.
“I’ve always really liked the track,” Cup driver Matt Kenseth said. “I thought it would be cool if you could pick that track up and put it wherever you get more fans to show up and watch it so we could keep racing at that track or a track like that. I think it is exciting they are going back there and who knows what it will turn into.”
The track was special for Kenseth.
“We won our first NASCAR race there ever, the Busch Series race in 1998, which was one of the most thrilling days in my racing life. We wrapped up the championship there in 2003 and then we won the last race there,” he said. “We have had a lot of neat stuff happen there and I have always enjoyed the track and the challenges that it presents.”
NASCAR hadn’t raced at what was then known as North Carolina Speedway since the track was sold in 2004 from International Speedway Corp. to Speedway Motorsports owner Bruton Smith. He then moved its race date to SMI-owned Texas Motor Speedway, ending Rockingham’s run of 78 Cup races dating to 1965.
C-POST INSPECTION: Jimmie Johnson is happy to hear that the gray area is being taken out of how to determine if C-posts are legal on cars with a new template.
Well, mostly happy.
“It does take away opportunities to work on the race car,” Johnson said. “But that’s been a reality we’ve been faced with; especially crew chiefs have been faced with for quite some time now. I’m absolutely happy to hear there is going to be one there.”
Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus was fined and suspended for six races after the No. 48 car failed opening day inspection at Daytona. The inspectors visually determined the sheet metal between the roof and side windows had been illegally modified to create an aerodynamic advantage.
NASCAR’s chief appellate officer later rescinded most of the penalties levied against Knaus, who didn’t miss any races but still was fined $100,000.
Starting at Talladega in three weeks, NASCAR’s template will be expanded to include the C-post area that was in question.
Jeff Gordon smiled when asked if he had any comments on the plan because he is listed as the owner of Hendrick Motorsport teammate Johnson’s car.
“I think you said the key word, I’m listed as the car owner,” Gordon said. “That was an area that was a little vague.”
GOLFING BUDDY: Before Bubba Watson won the Masters, he played in the Par 3 tournament with Denny Hamlin as his caddie.
The PGA Tour player and NASCAR driver became friends after meeting at Phoenix two years ago. Their agents knew each other, and hooked the two up to play nine holes.
“That’s how I met him and then he came to the race that weekend,” Hamlin said. “Ever since then, we just kind of kept in touch and when our paths cross, we link up and do stuff.”
Watson won the Masters on the second playoff hole, with a curving shot out of the pine needles onto the green.
“That trick shot I taught him on Wednesday paid off on Sunday,” Hamlin said. “A great win at the end was great for him and obviously good for me and my storytelling. It’s not too often you get to caddie for the 2012 Masters champ.”
SPARKPLUGS: After winning the Nationwide Series race at Texas on Friday night, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was in Arlington, about 30 miles away, helping storm victims clear debris. Tornadoes hit the area earlier this month. Trevor Bayne, his Nationwide teammate who raced in the Sprint Cup race Saturday night, also was helping. … A 17-year-old NASACAR fan limited in his physical abilities because of cerebral palsy and a severe case of scoliosis got to go to his first race, thanks to classmates and Texas Motor Speedway officials. Students at Mansfield (Texas) Legacy High School organized a car wash fundraiser to send Clinton Foster to Saturday night’s race and purchase him a new motorized wheelchair. TMS provided tickets and passes to the Sprint Cup drivers meeting, where Foster got to meet his favorite driver, Dale Earnhardt. Jr. … While Foreigner performed a prerace concert on the frontstretch, there were sumo wrestlers and MMA-like fighters in a garage area where a party for season-ticket holders was being held.