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Jay Hart

News from the track: Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway

From The Marbles

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We're back at Pocono for another 500 miles of everyone chasing Denny Hamlin, at least that's what most are expecting. But before we get to Sunday's race, we've got press conferences, where we assume everyone will say nothing because of, you know, that whole fine thing, a practice session and qualifying. Stick with us here all day as we'll bring the news to you when it happens.

A few notes to get us started:

• Press conferences begin at 10:30 a.m. ET
• First practice is at Noon.
• Qualifying is at 3:30 p.m. ET

10:32 a.m. ET: Kevin Harvick is first up to be asked about the fines NASCAR doled out to Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman for making supposed disparaging comments (NOTE: The question came from ESPN's David Newton): "If you got up here and said ESPN sucked, you'd get fired. In the end, it's everyone's responsibility to make sure the sport is going in the right direction. ‘Have at it boys' on the race track is different than off the race track, and having open rain on what's going in the sport. Last time I checked, a lot of us wouldn't be nearly as lucky as we are if we didn't have this sport.

"If you've got something to say, it's easy to pick up a phone or walk over to the trailer and express your feelings."

10:40: Harvick, who is losing Shell/Penzoil as a sponsor at the end of the season, said there will be a sponsor announcement within the next month.

10:41: Harvick defended NASCAR for not announcing who the drivers were who were fined, saying it's "nobody's business."

10:50: This weekend marks the beginning of when the schedule starts going back to tracks they've already been to this season. Jeff Burton said that this will be a good indicator on which teams have made improvements and which one's haven't.

10:52: Burton on Jack Roush flying: "I hope he doesn't [stop flying]," saying flying is Roush's No. 1 passion in life.

"I've flown with Jack a lot, and I'd fly with him today."

10:53: Burton on the fines: "Hard for me to comment. I don't know what they got fined for."

10:58: More from Burton: "You should be working behind the scene on the ugly trying to make it pretty rather than complaining about it."

He said NASCAR is a benevolent dictatorship, and it "needs to be a dictatorship" because as we've seen in other sports how screwed up it can get.

11:10: If you're one of those fans who thinks things were better back when, Jeff Burton is here to tell you you're wrong.

Today, "more people have a chance to win a race, more people are running for championships, more people on lead lap.

"We glamorize the way things used to be. ... There is no comparison [when it comes to how competitive the sport is] between the history and today."

He explained it this way: "I'm a World War II buff. It's pretty cool now. It was hell when it was actually happening."

12:08 p.m.: The first practice is underway, and already we have an incident. Denny Hamlin spun coming off Turn 3. Lucky for him, Pocono is a wide race track and Hamlin didn't hit anything.

1:02: If you're wondering why Kyle Busch and spotter Jeff Dickerson split ways, here's what Kyle had to say about it: "He had something that he wanted to do at the end of the year that he was going to go off and do, which was different that spotting for me for next year. We decided that we wanted to make a change now and get things going and get the ball rolling in the right direction for next year so I didn't start off with a clean slate at the Daytona 500, the biggest race."

1:30: First practice is over and Jimmie Johnson topped the speed chart. He was followed by Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, AJ Allmendinger, Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle.

1:49: Carl Edwards on the fining of drivers, said that they all have a stake in the sport, and the fines are NASCAR's way to remind drivers of that. Then, at a loss for words, added, "Heck, I don't know. I'm nervous to say anything. I work hard for my money."

1:55: When it comes to criticizing NASCAR, Tony Stewart says everyone is to blame, including himself.

"We have all done our best to try to break this sport down over the last four or five years." He blamed drivers, himself and the media, saying if everyone keeps telling people how bad the sport is, people will start believing it.

2:00: In case you haven't heard, Steve Letarte has signed on to be Jeff Gordon's crew chief for another three seasons.

"We're all shooting ourselves in the foot, myself included."

2:16: Jimmie Johnson said one of the criticisms he's heard is that his team is favored by NASCAR. He says that's bull, saying that NASCAR scrutinizes his cars more than any other in the garage.

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