NASCAR media tour: Day 4

Thursday's highlights from the NASCAR media tour in Concord, N.C., and beyond:

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Hang in there, Denny

Denny Hamlin said he is "learning on the fly" about the joys of being a father. Hamlin's girlfriend, Jordan Fish, delivered their first child on Sunday -- 6-pound, 5-ounce daughter Taylor James Hamlin.

Hamlin said Jeff Gordon, who has two children (Ella, 5, and Leo, 2), is happy to give him a few pointers.

"Jeff is always open to give advice about kids," Hamlin said. "He feels like he's a veteran on that now. I just put that stuff in my memory bank as things to look out for.

"But all I ever see with Jeff or Jimmie [Johnson] with their kids is when they come out for driver intros [before a race]. I don't know how they handle them for the other 23½ hours of the day. Those things are different for each family. Really, we're just going to do things our own way."

Apparently, Hamlin is doing OK, from what his boss, Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs, has heard.

"I talked to Jordan about it," Gibbs said. "I asked her, 'How has he been?' She said he's been really good. My wife would not say that. I told Denny, 'Look, this ain't easy. Hang in there.' "

-- Terry Blount

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Mixed signals?

Kyle Busch understands why Jeff Gordon got so mad at Clint Bowyer last season at Phoenix that he intentionally wrecked him.

What the Joe Gibbs Racing driver doesn't understand is why the four-time champion wasn't parked like Busch was in 2011.

Busch
Busch

Busch was suspended from the Nationwide and Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway after intentionally wrecking Ron Hornaday Jr. in the Truck series race that weekend. He also was fined $50,000 and placed on probation for the remainder of the year.

Gordon was fined $100,000 and docked 25 championship points for intentionally wrecking Bowyer in the next-to-last Cup race, costing Bowyer a shot at winning the title.

Gordon went on to win the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Bowyer finished second in the standings, 39 points behind Brad Keselowski.

Busch addressed that for the first time during Thursday's media tour.

"Yeah, I understand [what led to Gordon doing] that, but the same penalty didn't come from that,'' Busch said. "That's not fair. I would admit Jeff Gordon shouldn't have been at Homestead and he shouldn't have won the last race of the year.

"What's funny is he doesn't have a history like I have. Which, yeah, he does. He has a history. Look back at all the years with him and [Dale] Earnhardt, him and [Dale] Jarrett, him and [Rusty] Wallace, him and [Matt] Kenseth. He has a history. He's just able to be more PC about it and clean it up better than I am.''

-- David Newton
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Welcome, Matt

Crew chief Jason Ratcliff said his job is getting easier with Matt Kenseth now driving the No. 20 Toyota.

"He's not wishy-washy with what he wants in the car," Ratcliff said. "I kind of expected that with his experience level. He knows what he needs and he's good at giving direction on what he thinks we need to do to make the car go faster.

"What he's able to relay to the race team is superb. With his knowledge, we're not going to get too far off line. We can build consistency in the race team."

J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, hopes Kenseth can do the same for teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.

"From the first test on, it was obvious Matt relates well to the other drivers," Gibbs said. "He's done this for a long time. They [Busch and Hamlin] are able to ask him questions. That's really valuable for them.

"And I think Denny and Kyle look at [Kenseth's presence] as a way they can relinquish some of the leadership role. It's not something they have to worry about now. They hand it off to Matt."

-- Terry Blount

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The Pastrana Show

Travis Pastrana is breaking the conservative mold at Roush Fenway Racing.

One look at his outfit and car paint scheme during Thursday's media tour stop at the NASCAR Hall of Fame says it all.

Pastrana apparently didn't get the "black suit" memo, arriving at the press conference wearing a purple and gray plaid jacket, tennis shoes and a Red Bull cap.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Trevor Bayne, by the way, wore black head to toe.

Then there was the paint scheme on the No. 60 Ford Fusion the former X Games star will drive full time. It was a combination of pink, yellow and chartreuse. On the quarterpanels are arrows with the word "Danger." It looked like a LeRoy Neiman painting gone wild.

Explaining the suit, Pastrana said he wasn't aware he had a suit until he looked in his closet. When he did there was just the one option.

On the paint scheme, Pastrana said his father and friends complained last season they couldn't easily find him on the track when he drove nine Nationwide races, including at Richmond for RFR.

"So I let it go,'' Pastrana said of his paint scheme. "I let it go loud.''

It is step away from the conservative image RFR has, but team owner Jack Roush said Pastrana fits in.

"He's motivated, he's ambitious and he's talented,'' Roush said. "That fits in very well.''

The hood of the car, by the way, remains open to sponsorship. Team president Steve Newmark said he continues to search for the right "anchor partner.''

Otherwise, he said, "It's going to be a fun year.''

-- David Newton

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Buh-bye, beard ... for now

Marcos Ambrose showed up at the Ford breakfast Thursday morning with a much different look than he had earlier this month for testing at Daytona.

His facial hair, which made him look like Santa with a jet-black beard, was gone.

"I had grown a pretty gnarly beard," Ambrose said. "Even I was proud of it. I didn't know I could grow one that good. But we did some Ford photo shoots [Wednesday], so I got rid of it."

However, the hairy look isn't gone for good.

"I'm gonna see if I can bring it back before the summer," Ambrose said. "Maybe I can join 'Duck Dynasty.' I think the beard is worthy."

"Duck Dynasty" is a reality TV show about a family that became wealthy making duck calls for hunters. The men in the family have some impressively long beards.

-- Terry Blount

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