Hmmm, wonder what will be the hot topic of conversation Friday at Dover International Speedway. Seriously, you have to wonder. Clint Bowyer's 150-point penalty has some competition in the name of one Danica Patrick. Yep, she's back. We'll keep you posted on what everyone's saying about everything, including what Danica thinks, if you care. Here are a few notes to get us started:
• Danica kicks off press conferences at 9 a.m. ET
• First Cup practice begins at 11:30 a.m.
• Qualifying is at 3 p.m.
How does Danica measure her progress so far?
She said everything is so foreign to her that it's hard to know exactly where she should be. At the beginning of the year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Eury Jr. pegged the top 15 as a good benchmark. Danica's original goal was to finish higher. She's since amended that — her best finish so far in six races is 24th — and is now hoping for a top 15.
Should Clint Bowyer's win be taken away?
Jeff Gordon thought long and hard about that question, and finally said, "I don't know," adding, "Seems to me like there should at least be an asterisk next to the win."
Jeff Burton's take: "I understand why it is, and I understand why some people don't agree with it and I understand why some people do agree with it."
Burton said he had a Nationwide Series victory taken away from him in the past.
Burton added that he thinks consistency is important, and if NASCAR is going to change that policy where they are going to begin taking away wins, they need to announce that between seasons in order to set the precedent.
Burton says there was no intent by RCR to skirt the rules
Burton, addressing the Clint Bowyer issue, said the following: "We have a lot of belief at RCR about integrity and doing things the right way. In no means did the 33 car go to the racetrack believing in any form and fashion that they would have any problem with tech whatsoever."
Burton said there was a direct effort by Richard Childress Racing to make sure there was no issue with Bowyer's or any of their cars going to New Hampshire.
"I know the effort that went into that car to make it legal. There was a tremendous amount of effort to make it legal.
"I'm not questioning NASCAR's measuring abilities ... but the intent was certainly to be 100-percent legal.
He said there is a "circumstance that is odd there."
Clint Bowyer is ticked off — big time.
Okay, in a nutshell, Bowyer says he's innocent. 100-percent innocent.
The normally reserved Bowyer was fired up in the media center, lashing out at NASCAR, saying the story about his Richmond car being close to over the line forced NASCAR's hand.
He says once NASCAR warned them that their Richmond car was close, Richard Childress got the troops together and issued a severe "butt chewing," telling everyone they better "make damn sure that car passes tech" at New Hampshire.
Some notes from Bowyer:
• The car at Richmond was found to be close to over the height tolerance on both the left and right sides. It was only found to be over tolerance on the left side at New Hampshire, which Bowyer believes shows that they had fixed the issue.
• The left-rear quarter panel was split in two, the insinuation that if it was hit hard enough to be split in two, couldn't that result in the infraction?
• He said he could have done a burnout after the win and slammed the wall, which would have covered up any intent to shirk the rules. He didn't out of respect for NASCAR knowing that they were going to take his car back to the R&D center.
Finally, "I'm angry about the whole thing."
First Cup practice
Practice session No. 1 is over, with Ryan Newman topping the speed chart.