Rockingham back in NASCAR mix

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FORT WORTH, Texas — For the first time since 2004, NASCAR will race at Rockingham Speedway when the Camping World Truck Series runs there today.

“I’ve always really liked the track,” Sprint 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.”

NASCAR hasn’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NASCAR’s chief appellate officer later rescinded most of the penalties levied against Knaus, who didn’t miss any races but still was fined $100,000.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.

GOLFING BUDDY: Before Bubba Watson won the Masters Tournament, 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.

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.”

INDYCAR: In Long Beach, Calif., Ryan Briscoe won the pole for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, but won’t start anywhere near the front of today’s race.

Briscoe drives a Chevrolet, and the manufacturer decided this week to pull the engines from all 11 of its teams over concerns the engines wouldn’t last through the race.

Changing the engines meant all Chevrolet drivers will be penalized 10 starting spots on the grid.

Defending series champion Dario Franchitti actually will start first.


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