AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Some of NASCAR's star drivers made it crystal clear that Friday night's crash-filled Truck Series finale was an embarrassment for the sport.
“I was not impressed,” Martin Truex Jr. said. “That is not professional auto racing. It’s a joke, they need to fix it.”
The race was lambasted by top Cup Series drivers on Friday night for its messy completion, which included Carson Hocevar wrecking Corey Heim, which cost Heim the championship. The race went 29 laps past the scheduled distance with the four overtimes, caused by constant crashes in the field.
Truex, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch kept up their criticism Saturday. Truex was particularly critical of Hocevar, who apologized after wrecking Heim.
“I think it’s an act,” Truex said. “I think he’s just acting out to try and make people feel sorry for him.”
Hamlin said he believes NASCAR needs to crack down on poor track etiquette, penalizing drivers who obviously wreck others by sending them to the back of the field. The 42-year-old is not optimistic it will happen.
Hamlin compared the Truck Series race to a football game that had no rules.
“We're never going to get there,” Hamlin said. “I don't think NASCAR is ever going to make that change. My opinion of it is it's not even a short-term gain anymore. Sure it gets some people on social media talking, but we're not getting more viewers because of this chaos we've created.”
Truex said young drivers have an incentive for reckless racing because NASCAR looks the other way.
“The level of respect has been going down and down and down in the lower series for years,” Truex said. “You see it now in the trucks. Where you going to see it next? Xfinity race in Martinsville last weekend was a complete disaster. I don't know — it's kind of embarrassing for the sport I think.”
Truex and Hamlin both made the Cup Series playoffs this season, but fell short last week of making the final four. Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney and William Byron will race for the championship in Phoenix on Sunday.
Kyle Busch last month announced he sold his Kyle Busch Motorsports Truck Series team to Spire Motorsports. He didn't even watch Friday's Truck Series race, opting to go out to eat dinner with his family instead.
“I mean, there’s no respect whatsoever," Busch said. "Everybody runs over everybody, tears up equipment. So, yeah, I’m glad I’m not an owner of it. But honestly, I’m still a driver of it, so still have to deal with it.”
AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing