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Dale Earnhardt Jr.: So when is it okay in NASCAR's eyes to punch somebody out?

  Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern



   POCONO, Pa.
   Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he's confused about that Richard Childress-Kyle Busch altercation at Kansas City last weekend….and somewhat surprised at NASCAR decisions in the matter.

  "The way it was handled -- and I was reading some of Brian France's comments about Darlington (the Ryan Newman-Juan Pablo Montoya flap), and he was saying, as far as I remember, where he had a problem was the extracurricular stuff that went on outside of the flag.
   "Everything in between the green flag and the checkered flag was fine but what happened after the checkered flag they (NASCAR) felt was a problem.
   "And then in Kansas it wasn't a problem.
    "That was the only thing that stuck out to me -- when is it okay to hit a guy after the race and when is it not okay?
    "What Kyle did in Kansas (on the track after the race), we do all the time. I didn't really think that was too big of a deal.
    "Obviously it upset Richard. But we run into each other all the time after a race, though a lot of it never gets caught on television or seen by anybody.
   "Sometimes it's because you're happy for somebody; sometimes it's because you're mad at somebody.
    "We end up sorting those things out ourselves some way and somehow.
     "I guess there is a certain level of contact that doesn't need to happen after the race. I can totally understand.
     "I'm not calling Brian out or anything; I'm just saying I wish I knew everything and I don't.
    "What Richard did obviously drew tons of attention…but what Kyle did wasn't that big of a deal, in the grand scheme of things. When you just see it on TV you go, 'Oh, man, that happens all the time. I've seen that a million times before.'"

Carl Edwards: making peace with rivals (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


    Carl Edwards, who has had run-ins with Busch, including one at Phoenix that cost Edwards the race, says he's come to terms with Busch:
   "I don't know about the general perception (in the garage about Busch), because I try not to talk with other people about someone else," Edwards says.
    "My perception of Kyle is that he is a very hard racer.
    "We have gotten into it. We had our deal at Phoenix this year ( http://bit.ly/kcCvHV ) …and I felt he really was trying hard to set things straight after that. Last weekend he raced me extremely clean at Kansas.
    "He is just a hard racer….and we have a very good working relationship on the track I think -- other than that deal at Phoenix, which he came over and apologized for.
    "To me, we are fine, and we race hard, and it is fun to race him."
    Edwards of course is leading the Sprint Cup standings and trying to win his first championship.

   On the other side, perhaps, is Kansas winner Brad Keselowski, who last summer had some harsh comments to make about Busch (  http://bit.ly/mvE5JU  ).

    Denny Hamlin: fastest Friday. No surprise there (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    Keselowski was asked here Friday if he'd made amends with Busch.
   "I guess I don't know what making amends means," Keselowski said slowly. 
    "Making amends to me is sitting down and talking to someone and writing a peace treaty, so to speak. 
    "And then there's putting things in the back of your mind and moving forward. 
    "I'd probably say that I fall into the latter category, as far as making amends. I put it in the back of my mind and move forward on what I can do to win next week, make the chase.
     "And I kind of find it a disservice to spend a lot time thinking about Kyle...a disservice to all the people that work on my own cars."


   Crew chief Jimmy Fennig (L) and Matt Kenseth (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   The fallout from that Kansas City flap was one top storyline here Friday. NASCAR's new shifting rules here are another.
   Denny Hamlin, fastest in Friday practice at 166.125 mph, has had a lock on this place.
   But new transmission rules could play havoc with Hamlin's game plans.
   "It does," Hamlin concedes. "It will have an effect. 
    "I think we (Hamlin) are really only shifting in one corner, turn one."
    However others may be shifting off turn three and elsewhere.
    "I don't think anyone is going to be doing anything wild," Greg Erwin, crew chief for Greg Biffle, says. "The gears we're limited to put us in a pretty tight box."
   Any gambling might come in Saturday morning qualifying….but probably not Sunday.
    Edwards says as crazy wild as restarts are here, on the long, long frontstretch, shifting could be really important: "They are crazy….There is so much room, and everyone can draft and really make things hard on one another.
    "I don't think shifting will affect the first lap of the restart, but that second lap there are going to be guys who will go down into turn run and think 'Okay, do I stick this thing in third gear, or leave it here and try to run this in fourth?'
    "As you stick it down in third gear, you can miss that a little bit and upset the car and make a mistake.
     "I think it will make the second lap on restarts a little harrier."

    Hamlin says, shifting or not, the guys who run well here are probably still going to run well.
   "But I do think it's going to be tough on the reliability of these race cars for 500 miles," Hamlin said. "Shifting takes its toll on engines for sure."
   And transmissions too. "Somebody will break one," Hamlin says.
   Hamlin himself may be right to worry about engines, because he's had some problems this season.
  Still, Hamlin should be the favorite. And, considering his woes this spring, this race comes at a good point: "It certainly does.
    "We feel we've been in contention for a couple wins here these last three or four weeks. So this comes at a good time. 
    "I just have a little more confidence when we come here.  I know what feel I'm searching for in the car….unlike other tracks where I haven't won and I'm constantly searching for something I don't know in the car. 
    "Here I know what I need, and know what I want to be competitive and to win."
   "We have some different ratios for third gear," Hamlin says. "I tried shifting in practice and I went the same speed, shifting and not shifting.
    "I think shifting will be something you can use maybe on restarts, when the cars are bunched up.
    "But right now I don't see myself shifting very much. There are a lot of cycles on the engines here, a lot of up-and-down on the rpm.
    "And if you add another shift in there, it makes a lot of opportunity for mistakes.
    "I am going to do the best I can to not shift."
    And then shifting will impact fuel mileage, at a track where fuel mileage finishes are not unexpected.



  Beautiful weather at Pocono Raceway, and Brian Vickers is fast too (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


I feel that busch should have

I feel that busch should have had something done to him for this, also because childress asked him not to be hitying his car before. so there should have been something also for him. this is not right at all. he was asked not to be hitting his car, and he did it anyway. so as the saying goes an eye for an eye. this is how I feel about it. not right at all. need to go back and do something about that.

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