Virginia native Denny Hamlin captures fourth Richmond victory

Denny Hamlin took the lead with five laps to go and held off Kevin Harvick to win his fourth Richmond Cup race in his native state of Virginia.

NASCAR’s Toyota Owners 400 race came down to a split strategy showdown in the closing laps. Third place Denny Hamlin and fourth place Kevin Harvick were on a two stop strategy for the final stage of the race while leaders William Byron and Martin Truex Jr. had split the final stage in half.

As sun began to set and the laps got down to single digits, Hamlin was catching Byron by a second a lap, with Byron being on much older tyres. Byron had held a four second gap over Truex Jr with 25 to go but this began shrinking significantly inside 15 to go. Hamlin flew by Truex with six to go and sped by Byron on the inside on lap 396 of 400 to take the lead away. Harvick did appear to be catching Hamlin with two to go but after Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola got out of the way on the back straightaway on the final lap, Hamlin set sail for the checkered flag.

Denny Hamlin passes William Byron for the lead inside of five to go (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

After a roller-coaster start to the season, this was not just Hamlin’s first win of the year but his first top-10 finish of the season after seven races. This was also Toyota’s first Cup win of the season and was rather appropriate being the title sponsor of the race.

Denny Hamlin celebrating in victory lane (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

There were nearly more green flag pit stop cycles completed today than the first six races combined. Long green flag runs is often the way with Richmond and Sunday’s race was no exception. This gave extra weight to the two stop versus one stop strategies that played out during stage two and the final stage of the race but ultimately fresher tyres came out on top; partly due to Truex Jr. and Byron wearing each other out and faster lap down cars on fresher tyres taking away the inside lane that they wanted to run, allowing Hamlin and Harvick to gain more time on them.

It was a stellar day for the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota’s overall with all four running in the top seven at one point. Truex Jr. had worked his way to the front from the drop of the green flag and won stage two on the one stop strategy, the same strategy that arguably cost him the win in addition to getting stuck behind the wake of Byron’s Hendrick Chevrolet for the last 100 laps. This is despite being on 10 lap fresher tyres.

Martin Truex Jr. leading at Richmond (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch had worked his way to fourth but was black flagged with 50 laps to go for having tape over his grille that cost him a top-5 finish. Kyle Busch’s crew chief claimed the tape had been on there for 200 laps and were frustrated with NASCAR’s call in forcing them down pit road to remove it. Christopher Bell had led the field in the second quarter of the race and came home sixth.

The first quarter of the race was the Ryan Blaney show however. After securing the pole he led the first 100 laps and won stage one with Byron finishing second, before losing the lead in stage two. Last week’s winner Ross Chastain did not make friends with Blaney during the race. While fighting inside the top five towards the end of stage two, Blaney drove up alongside Chastain and pushed the watermelon man up the race track in turns three and four. Chastain returned the favour and pushed Blaney into turn one before Blaney veered to the right to a loss of grip and Chastain retook the position. Blaney had the final laugh as he gave Chastain a little shot into turn three late on in the race in and got by.

Ryan Blaney leading the field at the start of the race (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Team Penske teammate Joey Logano had made it up to second halfway through the race but the team’s jack became jammed underneath his car and would lose track position and only manage to recover to a top-20 finish.

The Roush Fenway Keselowski racing car’s of Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher had a good outing and were fighting for a top-10 spot for much of the race.

There would be a couple of crashes during the race. Lap 245 would see an caution a few laps after the start of the final stage due to a crash between Cody Ware, Erik Jones and Ricky Stenhouse Jr that left all parties upset. On lap 260 there would be another caution after contact between Austin Cindric and Cole Custer, causing Cindric to spin out. This was triggered after Ty Dillon had washed up into Custer in turn two as he came slightly down.

Part two of the Virginia tour takes place at Martinsville Speedway under the lights this Saturday night; another track that Hamlin has had great success at, winning five Cup series races at the half mile paperclip.

Top 10 finishing order of the Toyota Owners 400 

  1. Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  2. Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing Ford)
  3. William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
  4. Martin Truex Jr (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  5. Kyle Larson (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
  6. Christopher Bell (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  7. Ryan Blaney (Team Penske Ford)
  8. Alex Bowman (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
  9. Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  10. Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet)  

Featured Image: Denny Hamlin celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Watermelons were smashed: Ross Chastain’s week as a first-time NASCAR Cup winner

Watermelon farmer turned NASCAR Cup racer Ross Chastain smashed out his first career win at Circuit of the Americas in final lap brawl.

On the hottest day of the year just outside of Austin, Texas, the NASCAR race at COTA came down to an overtime finish between Ross Chastain, road-course ringer AJ Allmendinger and Hendrick’s Alex Bowman.

On the final restart, it was Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick who led the field to green with Ross Chastain right beside him in second, but Chastain used the chrome horn and power moved by Reddick in the S’s to retake the lead.

Reddick would fall back to sixth while Chastain would take the white flag and would lead the break away with AJ Allmendinger and Alex Bowman in tandem.

Ross Chastain racing witth AJ Allmendinger right behind him (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Allmendinger closed up to Chastain in the turn 12 heavy braking zone and would continue to fill his mirrors up in turns 13 and 14 before sticking his Camaro up the inside of Chastain in turn 15, consequently pushing Chastain wide after he tried to cover him off.

Chastain would get passed by Bowman too after he dived past him on the inside of 18 while Chastain returned the favour to Allmendinger going into the penultimate corner, using him as a braking block. Allmendinger’s car stepped out on him and flew into Bowman who was alongside him. Allmendinger ended up backwards in the sand while Bowman had to take evasive action to avoid him. Chastain went on to take the checkered flag.

The highly anticipated ritual-like smashing of the watermelon was performed by Chastain on the straightaway from on top of his ONX Homes/iFly Camaro. Chastain was so thrilled he ate the juicy fruit while being interviewed, saying to FOX, “it’s never tasted sweeter.”

Ross Chastain, celebrates further by eating the smashed watermelon (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

It was also Trackhouse Racing’s first Cup win and was quite the birthday present for co-team owner Justin Marks.

Celebrations continued throughout the first half of the week with Chastain’s own Melon Man Brand, a grassroots lifestyle organisation uniting all watermelon lovers, putting up pre-orders for a most appropriate T-shirt on Tuesday to mark the iconic moment.

Co-team owner Mr. Worldwide also put out a congratulatory post to his driver and team.

It was not the end of Ross’s ‘victory lap’ either. On FOX’s own NASCAR Race Hub, Chastain taught Jimmie Johnson’s former crew chief Chad Knaus the arts of watermelon smashing.

Back at the race shop on Tuesday, Team Trackhouse were all bought a celebratory breakfast. Watermelon may or may not have been present.

Back to Sunday’s race, other drivers had found to be fast throughout the race, most notably Team Trackhouse teammate Daniel Suárez, who after starting second would take the lead away from polesitter Ryan Blaney on the opening lap. Suárez would go onto win the first stage of the race. He had a not so fun experience on the restart however, finding himself spinning around while in a five-wide mess in turn one. Denny Hamlin, in desperate need of points, would sacrifice track position and stay out to win stage two.

Daniel Suárez spinning out in turn one (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Ford drivers Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric would also be at the front throughout much of the race but not when Cindric brought out the first non-scheduled caution of the day for spinning coming out of the turn 10 kink, with Christopher Bell narrowly avoiding him by a whisker. The race would go to overtime when Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, and Joey Logano came together in the turn one sandpit.

Bowman, Bell, Elliott, and Reddick made up the top five finishing order.

Featured Image: Ross Chastain, celebrates after winning at COTA (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Hamlin takes the win in wreck-filled race: Daytona 500 Report

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin took his second Daytona 500 win in what proved to be a crash-strewn and highly attritional race. Hamlin was one of only three drivers to not be involved in any incidents at all, with the other two drivers being second-place finisher Kyle Busch and Ross Chastain, who finished in tenth. There were signs of trouble throughout the race, but ‘The Big One’ only came with nine laps left in the race, and, from there all hell broke loose!

Of the 22 cars running at the chequered flag, 14 were still on the lead lap, which is rather surprising given the sheer number of cars involved in one wreck or another. Before the Lap 191 monster wreck, there had already been a number of crashes, including one on pit road, in which the eternally unlucky Jimmie Johnson got caught up in, amongst others.

All in all, 21 cars were damaged in the biggest wreck, which was caused by Matt Di Benedetto, who had, up until then, been having a very good race, and Paul Menard, who was part of the cause in The Clash’s wreck last weekend. However, even after a crash that involved more than half the field, there was still more trouble to come…

In the last nine scheduled laps, there were two more cautions for two further wrecks – the latter of which pushed the race into overtime, just to get a result. But, after all that, it was Hamlin who kept it together and fended off teammate Kyle Busch for the win, despite a very close final lap and a late challenge from Joey Logano.

Hamlin didn’t, by any means, lead the most laps and he didn’t finish that high in either of the stages; he was down in 21st by the end of Stage 2, but that didn’t really matter by the end of the race. He played his cards better than teammate Busch in the final laps, correctly choosing the outside lane to take his first win in 47 races.

The race started very well for Kyle Busch who took the first stage win of the season, despite starting the race down in 31st position. By the end of Stage 2, the younger Busch brother had dropped to twelfth, but he made his comeback in the final stage and looked set to take his first ever Daytona 500 win before what proved to be the final restart. He was, however, outmanoeuvred by Hamlin, meaning Busch will have to wait another year to try and fill the Harley J. Earl Trophy sided gap in his trophy cabinet. 2020 will be Busch’s 15th attempt at the Daytona victory… who knows if he’ll finally be successful then!

Ryan Blaney was the man to take the Stage 2 victory, and he looked to be the class of the field for a long time, but, like so many others, it all came crashing down for him when he got caught up in The Big One and his #12 received terminal damage, forcing the Penske driver out of what could’ve been a very promising race.

Another driver who’s race turned into a story of what could’ve been was Johnson, suggesting that his luck has not turned for this season and taking his winning-less streak in points races up to 60 races. As was the case so many times last season, Johnson got caught up in a crash through no fault of his own, which subsequently compromised the rest of his race. The #48 Hendrick driver sustained a fair amount of damage in the pit road wreck, which was caused by Cody Ware spinning and hitting a line of slower moving cars who were coming into the pits. He also got tangled up in the Lap 191 wreck, eventually finishing the race in ninth place.

Last year’s Cup Champion, Joey Logano, looked to be in contention for the victory in the closing stages of the race but, after working so well with teammate Blaney throughout the race, he was hurt badly when he was left isolated after the wreck – meaning he couldn’t quite take it to the Joe Gibbs drivers, who were themselves working very well together. Erik Jones managed to sneak past Logano on the last lap, meaning the Penske driver finished the race in fourth – behind all three Joe Gibbs cars.

The 61st Daytona 500 was certainly a tale of two races, with the first 190 or so laps being fairly calm, by NASCAR’s standards at least, and the last ten (plus the six overtime laps) being absolute carnage; an hour passed between the yellow flag flying for The Big One and the chequered flag emerging, showing just how chaotic those last ten laps were!

But, after all that, it was Hamlin who came out victorious and he’s the only one who will have his name engraved onto the Harley J. Earl Trophy. NASCAR returns next weekend at Atlanta where Hamlin will be looking to make it two from two, and everyone else will be trying to stop him…

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 17: Denny celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Top Ten Finishers:

  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Erik Jones
  4. Joey Logano
  5. Michael McDowell
  6. Ty Dillon
  7. Kyle Larson
  8. Ryan Preece
  9. Jimmie Johnson
  10. Ross Chastain

Championship Standings:

  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  5. Erik Jones

(Featured image credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Daytona 500 Preview

After a week of qualifying, non-points races, duels and a fair few crashes, it’s finally time for the big one; the Daytona 500. At 7:30 pm GMT on Sunday, the 40-car field will take the green flag for the 61st running of the event – and what an event it promises to be!

Qualifying last Sunday only allocated the front row for the 500, with the Hendrick Motorsport duo of William Byron and Alex Bowman taking those two places. The rest of the grid was determined by Thursday’s two ‘Duel’ races, which both took place over 60 laps. Stewart-Haas’s Kevin Harvick took the win in the first race, giving him third on the grid, while Penske’s reigning champion, Joey Logano, won the second, placing him in fourth.

In some slightly unfathomable but typically NASCAR way, qualifying determined which duel each driver raced in, then the results of the Duel 1 decided the inside row of the grid and the results of Duel 2 did the same for the outside row.

Put simply, the top ten starters for the 500 are:

  1. William Byron
  2. Alex Bowman
  3. Kevin Harvick
  4. Joey Logano
  5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  6. Clint Bowyer
  7. Paul Menard
  8. Aric Almirola
  9. Matt DiBenedetto
  10. Denny Hamlin

If you want to see where the other 30 drivers are starting from, click here.

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

One driver who is starting out of the top ten is the winner of this year’s Daytona Clash, a certain Jimmie Johnson. The Hendrick driver will be starting down in 17th after finishing in eighth in Duel 1, but his Daytona build-up has not been without incident. Luck was far from with Johnson last season as he seemed to spend more than his fair share of time in the wall and, for the majority of those incidents, he wasn’t to blame. During ‘The Clash’ Johnson was again involved in an incident, with all but three drivers in the 20-car field caught up in it. Many looked to blame Johnson for the wreck, which started with him and Menard coming together, but no official action was taken on it and Johnson was free to take the win.

As it was not for points, The Clash was seen as more of a test session by many teams, so the single-file train of cars seen during it shouldn’t be something that we see too much of during the 500.

Last year’s 500 winner, Austin Dillon, with start the race from 20th after finishing ninth in Duel 2, but given he started 14th last year, he shouldn’t be too fazed by that and will be looking to repeat his 2018 glory, though the other 39 drivers might just have something to say about that!

The 2019 Daytona 500 will get underway at 2:30 pm ET (7:30 pm GMT) on Sunday and will be broadcast on Fox in the States. In the UK, Premier Sports have the coverage, but if you don’t have access to that, there will be live timing on and race commentary on our Twitter channel, so you won’t miss out on the action!

Let the season begin…

(Featured image credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Tony Stewart: Retirement and Racing

Tony Stewart is a rare thing—a real racer. Not just a driver, but a racer. For some people there may be no difference but to those who really love racing—in whose hearts the engines always roar—the difference is obvious and it is paramount. It is what makes the driver they call Smoke,well, Smoke.

As the 2017 season begins, for the first time in a long time, Stewart will find himself somewhere other than the driver’s seat of his Number 14 Ford. The decision, while not taken lightly, has been a good one for Stewart especially after a serious back injury at the beginning of last season. On several occasions Stewart has mentioned that “It will be nice to be at the track and not be sore and not be uncomfortable sitting on the pit box.”

He looks forward to being able to focus on the cars, the team, and the development of both as Stewart Haas Racing enters a new season. The team has been working around the clock to prepare the new Fords after a switch in manufacturers and is optimistic the new cars will be ready to win by the time Daytona rolls around. Clint Bowyer will be taking over the seat for Stewart come February and Stewart is eager to lend his knowledge and expertise wherever he can.

It’s not uncommon for racers to have a challenge when it comes to retiring from racing. The fact that Stewart can’t walk away from NASCAR is not, however, what makes him a a racer. What makes him a racer is the over 80 midgets, sprint cars, and late models. Stewart will still be racing and doing so on what he loves most: dirt tracks. Tony Stewart may be retiring from NASCAR but he’s not retiring from racing—he can’t. What flows through his veins, his heart, is as wild as the dirt cars he drives. He is a racer, he has a need not just for speed, but for actual racing. It is one of the things that make him the racer he is. The guys in his sprint car shop have, along with the Cup team, been working hard to give Stewart the cars he needs to win on small tracks across America, including the ones he has never raced on before. It’s these tracks that Stewart is most excited about racing on.

“I know it sounds like I’m a rookie driver, but I kind of feel like one,” Stewart said. “There’s a bunch of tracks and a bunch of events that I’ve not raced at before that I’m going to finally get to go to.”

That is what makes Stewart a racer, that ready to drive anything that rolls, anywhere, anytime. He has retired from the Big Leagues of NASCAR to run as hard and as fast as he can on every small track—in every car—he possibly can.

The Top 5 Daytona 500s

Every February, in the midst of what is often the coldest part of winter, the first rays of sunshine are delivered with the roar of engines. The Daytona International Speedway opens its gates, brilliantly colored flags snapping crisply in the warm breeze, to fans and race teams alike. It is here that heroes will be made, legacies built, and dreams come true. It is a Speedway like no other, steeped in the rich history of American stock car racing, while offering the first glimpse of the season that lies ahead. As race fans prepare for the 2017 Daytona 500 let’s take a look back at the top five 500 finishes.

1. 1998: Dale Earnhardt finally wins the 500:

After 20 years of what seemed like the worst luck when it came to the Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt finally won. For a multitude of years it seemed like everything that could go wrong for Earnhardt did—he had flat tires, wrecks, even a collision with a seagull. He won every other race at Daytona except the 500. He seemed to know how to run every line on the high banks except the one that would win the big race. Finally, on his 20th try, the checkered flag fell on the black No. 3 car and history was made. Every member of every team lined pit lane to congratulate The Intimidator on his way to Victory Lane. It was an epic end to an epic race for an epic Champion.

2. The 1979 Daytona 500—and the fight that followed.

In 1979 NASCAR had its first televised race—that year’s Daytona 500. The race was a wild one and as they neared the finish Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison were rubbing and racing side by side. The two wrecked and slid chaotically onto the grass. Tempers immediately flared and what ensued is one of the most famous—or infamous—events in NASCAR history. Allison and Yarborough threw down and started a fight that would be the envy of any Mixed Martial Artist: fists were swinging, helmets were used as weapons, and tempers rose in crescendo of fury much to the dismay of the broadcasters and the delight of fans everywhere. The fight helped to endear NASCAR in the hearts of Americans everywhere.

3. 1988: An Allison 1-2

In 1988, on the 30th running of the Daytona 500, Bobby Allison came across the line in first. What made the win so special was that his son, Dave Allison, came in right behind him in second. The win was an emotional one for everyone. The Allisons, often affectionately called The Alabama gang, were a beloved institution in NASCAR. On top of that, the win highlighted one of the pillars of the sport: family. Nothing like a father-son finish to make every fan feel like they are part of the NASCAR family.

4. 1976: Battle of Legends—Pearson Vs. Petty

In 1976 the Daytona 500 had one of its most famous finishes. It a race that had been a battle from the get go, Richard Petty and David Pearson banged their way through the race. As they came to the final lap both cars spun into the infield spewing grass and debris all around them. In the midst of the chaos Pearson managed to get his battered car started again and limp across the finish line as Petty watched helplessly from the wreckage of his mangled car.

5. 1959: The first official 500 and the Disputed Winner

The 1959 Daytona 500 was the first official race at the brand new Speedway. After years of racing on the fabled sands of the beach, now NASCAR had a state of the art facility and they were eager to show it off. The race did not disappoint and Lee Petty and Johnny Beauchamp fought hard the whole race, battling so closely that as they crossed the finish line it was almost impossible to see who the winner was. In fact, NASCAR named Johnny Beauchamp the winner on the spot and the call would have stood had Lee Petty not called upon reporters and photographers to dispute the decision. After days of pouring over the pictures the decision was reversed and Lee Petty was named the winner.

One thing is for sure, the Daytona 500 always delivers edge-of-the-seat, heart-pounding, engine-roaring excitement. From the very first race to this year’s chapter, the 500 is always history in the making.


Daytona International Speedway

Seven Sundays to the Speedway


In seven Sundays the glorious crescendo of sound the is start of the Daytona 500 will take place. As the countdown to the 2017 season begins there are a few things of note for race fans.

First and foremost, Dale Earnhardt Jr will be back. Yes, the newly we, fully healed, Dale Jr. will be back behind the wheel of his Nationwide 88 car. After a serious concussion that sidelined Junior for most of the season last year, NASCAR’s most popular driver will return to racing in the new season.

Next, the premier series in NASCAR will no longer be called the Sprint Cup series, it will now be known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The change in title sponsor was officially announced in December along with a change in logo that will be revealed in the near future.

Third, Clint Bowyer will be taking over the number 14 car for Tony Stewart. While seeing Bowyer in the car may take a little getting used to, Stewart-Haas racing has gone out of their way to promote Bowyer and present an optimistic view of the upcoming season.

Lastly, on a sentimental note, Richard Childress is heading for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. A drivers strike propagated Childress to start his own team back in 1969 and he never looked back. After building an empire alongside Dale Earnhardt Sr. which changed the face of stock car racing, Childress has continued to be a positive force in NASCAR. Congratulations to Richard Childress and team.

As the 2017 looms on the horizon, race fans everywhere can feel the rising tide of excitement that comes with the first roar of the engines and the first rotation of wheels. Hopes, dreams, and expectations all build in a tremendous crescendo that makes every fan’s heart beat just a little faster. No doubt about it-this season should be something to see.

By Tonia Attard -‪@audilvrs7 ‬


Photos Daytona International Speedway

The Draw of Dale Earnhardt Jr.


NASCAR is in the midst of the chase for its championship. It should be, without doubt, the most exciting time of the season, Daytona being the exception of course. The teams are in high gear and the drivers should be shining bright in the glare of the spotlight they are cast into. It is, however, not the drivers racing that hold the public’s interest, but the one driver that is not. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has long been NASCAR’s most popular driver and being sidelined with a serious concussion has done nothing to stem the tide of loyalty and affection fans express for one of the biggest names in the sport.

So what is it about Junior that makes him so popular even though he hasn’t been in a car since early summer? Some may say it’s being the namesake of one of the biggest stars in NASCAR. Dale Earnhardt Sr was more than a driver, more than even a racer, he was an icon of racing, one of the last ties to a history rich in culture and tradition. Dale Sr was one of the last blue collar heroes, learning to race on the dirt tracks of rural North Carolina and at the hands of legends such as his own father, Ralph Earnhardt. This is where Junior comes from, a long line of men who raced hard with success being marked by the amount of dirt on the car on Sunday morning. It would be ridiculous to say that is not part of it, not part of what draws fans to him, endears him to their hearts, and makes them feel like he is part of their family. It is, without question, part of it, especially for the long time fans. He is the last tie to his father and many fans hang onto him like a life preserver, desperate to hang onto a past that racing has long left behind, for better or worse.

Junior is, however, much more than his lineage. Dale Earnhardt Junior is an ambassador for a sport that has in recent years seemed to lose steam in its level of popularity and who is in desperate need of a real champion, and much more than that, a hero. Junior is just the person they need. He is the right combination of the old and new guard. He drives hard but smart and seems to see a much bigger picture in racing and in life. When Junior made the announcement he would be steeping out of his car due to a concussion the response received was a tumultuous one. Some people applauded as he made the commitment to be well and take care of himself, while others grumbled he wasn’t his father, who was infamously tough. Junior held his ground though, bringing much needed attention to concussions, and other head injuries, as he openly shared his concussion struggles with the public. As Junior has made progress with his condition, being sure to take his time, the public has learned a great deal regarding head trauma and the effect it can have on someone’s life. He has made concussions, and recovery, a part of everyday life and brought, not the tragedy of them, but the hope of recovery from them, to his fans and to the public.

So while the Championship Chase continues, while Jimmy Johnson pushes for his seventh championship and Kevin Harvick and the others chase Johnson, it is Dale Jr. that garners the attention and affection of the fans, not because he is his father’s son but because he is him-and the fans love him for it.

Image courtesy of
Charlotte Observer

Martin Truex Jr Tames the Lady in Black to Win the Southern 500 at Darlington

Martin Truex Jr, with a little help from his pit crew, won a surprise victory at Darlington, SC, after leading all of 28 laps. Darlington, also known as the Lady in Black and the Track too Tough to Tame, due to its attrition on drivers and cars, offered a race that had fans and teams alike on their feet and cheering wildly.

Martin Truex, Jr., whose car has been consistently fast this year, struggled during most of the race. It was his pit crew, on the last stop, that gave Truex the opportunity to drive his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet to victory lane. The crew, who had experienced communications problems at Michigan, along with a run of bad luck, stepped up to the plate at the historic track and gave their driver the chance he needed to win the race. Their flawless performance in the pit got Truex out in the lead and enabled him to make his charge for the checkered flag.

In the meantime, Kevin Harvick, who had led 214 laps of the race and clearly had the fastest car, went through the polar opposite with his team experiencing what has become all too common problems in the pits. In the last pit stop, Harvick lost 17 places and his dominance was decimated, leaving him to struggle futilely to regain places on the track. Harvick had tough words for his crew saying, “I’m over being a cheerleader. Those guys get paid a lot of money to perform on pit road, and cheerleading hasn’t really been working. You’ve got to get after it on pit road and do your job.” (

Kyle Larson ended up taking third place with Denny Hamlin following him in fourth and Joey Lagano in fifth. The Lady in Black claimed her share of cars again with Kurt Busch hitting the wall hard and Tony Stewart experiencing engine problems that would end his last race at the track. Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer also tangled bringing out a caution late in the race proving Darlington is still the track Too Tough To Tame.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Battles Concussion Woes


Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be vacating the Rick Hendrick 88 car for unforeseeable future. Earnhardt, who on Friday made his first public appearance to discuss his diagnosis, revealed that he will not be returning to racing just yet, but was eager to do so.

“I just want to get better. Nothing else is a priority. Our intentions are to get cleared and get back to racing. I’m not ready to quit.” Earnhardt promised as he discussed his desire to heal completely and return to his car, his team, and to winning.

Earnhardt has missed the last three races, including the Brickyard 400. Former champion and teammate, Jeff Gordan, has been piloting the 88 car while Junior has been recovering from the symptoms that have plagued him on and off since his wreck in Michigan on June 21 where he hit the wall after tangling with A.J. Allmedinger.

During the press conference Junior expressed how much his missed his team and that he was willing to do whatever was needed to get back in the car and be competitive. According to the most popular driver in NASCAR, his doctors are diligently working to further understand his condition and help him to not only recover, but be stronger as a result of the injury.

Junior has been very communicative with his fans via podcast and social media, keeping them updated on any information he is given, as well as helping them to understand the choices that he is making. While at first Junior experienced push back on his decision to step from the car, the importance and ramifications had he chosen not to do so, are now widely accepted and respected. In addition, Junior choosing to address the issue of his concussion and take responsibility for his well-being has had a ripple effect throughout a sport known for their racers pushing through injury to race. In fact, Junior’s father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., was considered to be the strongest, toughest driver around, being called “one tough customer” after he broke his ankle on a Sunday, had an operation on Tuesday, and was back racing the next weekend. His reputation for being tough enough to take anything and race created the slogan for Wrangler jeans, who happened to be Earnhardt Sr.’s sponsor at the time. Earnhardt Sr ignited a revolution, separating mere drivers from real racers and making an era in racing all his own.

Now, however, the sport is looked at differently and Junior’s concussion, and response to it, is a prime example. As Junior takes time to heal, racing experiences a shift in focus and priorities, a revolution of the sport that once again is brought on by an Earnhardt.

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