Kevin Harvick’s victory lane celebration after Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 went without the winner’s traditional firing off of two six-shooters with blanks.
The decision was made by track president Eddie Gossage out of respect for the victims of a mass shooting at a church near San Antonio on Sunday morning. At least 26 were killed.
“In light of what happened, it was the respectful thing to do,” Gossage told news outlets.
Sunday marked the first time since 2005 that the pistols weren’t fired, though the tradition has caused some controversy.
In 2013, Gossage said he would review, with advice from team owners, procedures in victory lane after some fallout following the track’s sponsorship with the NRA.
The stars were not aligned Sunday for Jimmie Johnson, whose drive around Texas Motor Speedway rivaled Hollywood’s Clark Griswold in terms of adversity.
The No. 48’s hopes for an unprecedented eighth series championship took a big hit with car troubles from the start.
He ultimately simply had no speed in finishing 27th, three laps down, his worst finish at TMS in his last 16 starts. His last three starts have all finished out of the top 10.
Johnson, a seven-time winner at TMS, including most recently at the spring race, expressed concern early about his car being too tight, and later about a vibration.
He was later hit with a penalty for an “uncontrollable tire.”
“It was just a bad day that got worse,” Johnson said. “It was just extremely difficult to drive the car and carry entry speed. I honestly just feel bad for my team. To work this hard and not see any speed go back in the car and have bad results the last three weeks is pretty disappointing.”
TMS, AAA renew vows
Texas Motor Speedway and AAA Texas announced Sunday morning that the two had agreed to a deal that would keep the insurance giant and auto club as the title sponsor of the track’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup playoff race in November.
AAA Texas has been the title sponsor of the annual race since 2010, though the two have enjoyed a 10-year business relationship. In 2008, AAA Texas became the speedway’s official “auto club.”
The conclusion of this deal marks the second renewal of an original five year-agreement.
Larson hits a wall
Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet and winner of Stage 2, believed he had the best car on Sunday. But he lost track position by twice dealing with a loose tire.
Larson managed to battle back into the top 10 before getting in to the wall in Turn 4 on Lap 282. The back of his car erupted in flames, necessitating a red flag.
The DNF was his third straight.
“We just gave up track position. We took the best car and just whatever,” a dejected Larson said. “It’s frustrating because I know I had the best car … and that is what happens.”
Danica Patrick took what was likely her last spin around TMS as a NASCAR driver, and she did it with far less attention than her first run around the track.
Patrick, of Stewart-Hass Racing, closed her career with a 17th place.
At the beginning of the year, Patrick was dropped by her primary sponsor, Nature’s Bakery, and in September, Stewart-Haas announced that the 36-year-old would not return.
In six seasons on NASCAR’s top circuit, Patrick has seven top-10 finishes, an average finish of 24th place, one pole, and no victories.
Patrick, the first woman to win a Cup pole, at the 2013 Daytona 500, left Texas with a best finish of 16th. She did that in both races in 2015.