Rick Hendrick says restarts are causing issues

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Jimmie Johnson qualifies in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Saturday. Johnson is trying not to make much of his problems on late restarts, but it is an issue.   DAVID GRAHAM/ASSOCIATED PRESS
DAVID GRAHAM/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Jimmie Johnson qualifies in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Saturday. Johnson is trying not to make much of his problems on late restarts, but it is an issue.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Rick Hendrick blames NASCAR’s inconsistent policing of restarts for Jimmie Johnson’s recent issues.

Johnson has lost two races in the past month in part because of problems on late restarts. The five-time NASCAR champion was penalized for jumping the start with Juan Pablo Montoya at Dover and complained last week that Matt Kenseth was laying back on a restart at Kentucky.

“I don’t care how good you are, you can get snookered,” Hendrick said before Saturday night’s race at Daytona International Speedway.”

Johnson said at Daytona he needed to loosen up and stop taking the restart rule so literal.

“I feel like I’m maybe a little focused on the way the rule reads ... and paying maybe too close of attention to that,” Johnson said.

But Hendrick said he’s spoken to NASCAR officials about being more precise in policing restarts – to no avail.

HAMLIN MISHAPS CONTINUE: Denny Hamlin continued to have a season to forget Saturday night during the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

After missing four races with a broken vertebra, Hamlin was involved in a four-car accident in the fourth on Lap 98.

The crash started when Martin Truex Jr.’s Toyota lost control and turned sideways in the corner. Kyle Busch rear-ended Hamlin, and then Juan Pablo Montoya also ran into Hamlin’s car.

The accident dropped Truex out of the top 10 in the standings.

LOGANO MOMENTUM CHECKED: Joey Logano had been surging up the Sprint Cup points list this summer, moving from 19th to 10th in his last six races.

But his bid to add another big chunk of points ended Saturday when he crashed his Ford in turn two, just after he began his 70th lap.

“It was a big hit, but a bigger hit in the points,” he said.

UP IN SMOKE: Paul Menard’s Chevrolet engine erupted in flames on the 24th lap Saturday night.

While there have been an assortment of engine problems in the past, it was the first engine failure in the Coke Zero since Patrick Carpentier blew up in 2009.

“It wasn’t smoking. It broke and I could hear it,” Menard said. “I felt the heat come up. The motor broke. I haven’t had a motor failure in forever. ”

ECONOMAKI HONORED: Legendary reporter and broadcaster Chris Economaki, known as the “Dean of American Motorsports,” was named the third recipient Saturday of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence.


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