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Kenseth-Logano feud part of Martinsville promotion

Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano stirred controversy in the last NASCAR race at Martinsville Speedway.
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Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano stirred up plenty of controversy in the last NASCAR race at Martinsville Speedway.

The track hopes the rumble can boost ticket sales.

Kenseth-Logano II isn't exactly on the poster for the upcoming race weekend but highlights of the run-in between the drivers that earned Kenseth a two-race suspension have been used to advertise the race.

It raised the question, should an act that was vicious enough for NASCAR to punish a driver then be used as part of a promotional push?

Martinsville track President Clay Campbell defended his decision to hype the race though the Logano-Kenseth feud.

''Yeah, it stirred up controversy but what do people want me to show, the pace laps?'' Campbell asked.

Campbell said as long as no drivers are hurt in any accidents or fights, what happens at the track is fair game in advertising.

''I get paid to sell tickets,'' he said. ''I don't think that crossed over the line.''

The feuding - the fun? - started in the October race at Kansas, where Logano spun Kenseth to win a race that Kenseth needed to advance in the playoffs. Kenseth was seething about the incident for the next two weeks, and finally snapped at Martinsville after he'd been wrecked by Logano's teammate. Kenseth returned his damaged car to the track down nine laps and deliberately wrecked Logano as Logano was headed to the victory.

Logano lost a spot in the championship field. Kenseth's actions drew an unprecedented penalty from NASCAR.

''Everybody has their breaking point where they finally lose their cool,'' Kenseth said earlier this year. ''I felt like, certainly I need to step up for myself and make it stop. I hope to never be in that spot again. There were a lot of things that led up to that.''

Kenseth also felt he'd been encouraged by NASCAR chairman Brian France to retaliate because France praised Logano's actions at Kansas as ''quintessential NASCAR.''

Campbell cited the famous Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough fight at the 1979 Daytona 500 that helped raise the national profile of the sport and has seemingly been run on an endless loop for nearly four decades as one example of NASCAR or the tracks using dustups as part of promotional campaigns.

''How many times have you seen the fight in Daytona?'' Campbell asked.

Maybe Logano-Kenseth will become a highlight-reel staple for years at Martinsville.

''It's like people want to go through history books, cherry pick certain chapters, and act like they didn't happen,'' Campbell said. ''That did happen. You can't ignore history. We're not going to keep beating the drum on it, but I guarantee you it will happen time and time again. It will happen and some people will want you to take it out of the history book and that's not how I see it.''


FRENCH FRIED: IndyCar driver Sebastien Bourdais just might drive for the hottest team in the series.

The hauler carrying the French driver's No. 11 car made an unscheduled pit stop after it caught fire Wednesday on the drive to this weekend's race at Phoenix International Raceway.

No one was hurt.

Footage from local news stations in Arizona showed the hauler smoking on the side of the road.

Bourdais, a four-time open wheel champion, tweeted that the passengers inside the hauler were fine and the No. 11 was ready for the weekend.

The truck was about 15 minutes from the track.

KVSH Racing said the fire was confined to rear axle area of the transporter. The vehicle sustained substantial damage, though the contents of the transporter were undamaged.

''First and foremost, the good news is that both of our team members, John Phil Davis and Eric ''Stu'' Stewart were uninjured. Secondarily, the cars and equipment are undamaged,'' KVSH general manager Steve Moore said.


JUNIOR'S BRAIN: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is willing to donate his brain for science research.

Earnhardt tweeted a link to a story on three former Raiders who will donate their brains for CTE research in honor of a former teammate.

When someone tweeted Earnhardt about the commitment of a potential brain donation, Earnhardt wrote, ''Why? What use is it to you at that point? I'm gonna donate mine. I'm donating everything one way or another.''

Earnhardt sat out two races in 2012 with a concussion.


GORDON'S RETURN: Jeff Gordon won his final career race in November at Martinsville.

He'll be watching this weekend from the Fox broadcast booth.

But could he be coaxed back into a car for one more shot at a NASCAR checkered flag?

''Listen, if I was going to come back, Martinsville might be the one place I'd do it,'' Gordon said.

Sounds like fun, but Gordon is retired and has shut the door on a Sprint Cup comeback. He's made a smooth transition to the booth, even though he still misses the camaraderie that comes with driving for Hendrick Motorsports. Gordon was called on to help rookie Chase Elliott before the Daytona 500.

''I do miss those competition meetings,'' he said.

Gordon even acknowledges he can't help but show some favoritism toward the team - which boasts Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson on the roster - when he's calling races for Fox.

The four-time champion found out the hard way what being retired means around the garage. He was bumped off the drivers council, deleted from a drivers text chain, and is looked at by active drivers with a raised eyebrow these days.

''They look at me differently. Can we trust him? He's one of us, but he's not really one of us anymore,'' Gordon said.

Gordon visited Michigan on Wednesday and coach Jim Harbaugh gave the driver a jersey with ''Gordon 24'' on the back. Hendrick Motorsports, Axalta and Michigan reached an agreement that will bring research and development of coating technology to the university.