[SATURDAY 10:16 am ET]
BOYS HAVE AT IT — It’s been a busy NASCAR season already, with the latest wild story coming out of the motorcoach lot at Richmond International Raceway. There, two Richard Childress Racing crewmen were charged with misdemeanor assault early Saturday morning after a fight with a couple of Turner Scott Motorsports team members. Why were they fighting? Because Turner driver Nelson Piquet Jr. kicked RCR driver Brian Scott in the groin on pit road after the NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
Boys have at it, indeed.
Tonight’s Toyota Owners 400 at RIR is just the ninth of 36 races in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Already, we’ve had some fascinating story lines:
• For the first time in NASCAR history, the two main contenders for Rookie of the Year honors are boyfriend-girlfriend (Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick).
• Daytona International Speedway is making safety improvements after debris from a frightening crash in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race injured more than 30 people.
• Denny Hamlin was fined $25,000 for making what NASCAR deemed as disparaging comments about the quality of racing with the new Generation-6 Sprint Cup cars.
• Brad Keselowski wasn’t fined at all for making disparaging comments about NASCAR management or going postal about how he perceived the No. 2 was treated.
• Hamlin and Joey Logano did battle on the track and on Twitter. Hamlin wrecked Logano at Bristol; Logano wrecked Hamlin at Auto Club Speedway, where Hamlin fractured a vertebra in his back and has been out of action since.
• NASCAR suspended seven team members from Penske Racing for alleged violations in the rear suspension of team cars driven by Keselowski and Logano at Texas Motor Speedway. The appeal for that case is set to be heard May 1.
• Martin Truex Jr. finished second at Texas, but his car was too low in post-race inspection.
• Matt Kenseth crushed the competition last week at Kansas Speedway, winning from the pole in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Afterward, NASCAR discovered a connecting rod that was too light. Heavy penalties followed, which JGR is appealing.
• On track, Kurt Busch has more top-five finishes by himself than Stewart-Haas Racing, Richard Childress Racing and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates combined.
• Of the first eight races run so far this year, JGR has won four and Hendrick Motorsports has taken three.
All of the above has happened in just the first quarter of the 2013 season. Hard to imagine what might come next.
TURN ON, TUNE IN — SPEED’s coverage from RIR begins at 4 p.m. ET with SPEED Center NASCAR Edition followed by NASCAR RaceDay at 4:30 p.m. Live coverage of the race will be on FOX, starting at 7 p.m.
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100.