Reoccurrence of blood clots forces Brian Vickers out of car

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Michael Waltrip Racing announced Friday that a reoccurrence of blood clots will force Brian Vickers out of the team’s No. 55 Toyota.

Vickers must resume taking blood-thinning medication, and he is unable to race while on the medicine. Vickers missed the first two races of this season after recovering from heart surgery in December. He finished 15th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in his return and 41st last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.

His season ended after 11 races in 2010 when he suffered blood clots. He returned to run the full season in 2011. Blood clots forced him out of the car again for the last five races in 2013.

“Thankfully, because I recognized the signs and symptoms, the doctors caught this early and I’m going to be OK,” Vickers said in a team release. “I had finished my treatment for the clot I had in my leg back in 2013, and I haven’t needed to be on a blood thinner for a clot in my leg or lung since. Now I won’t be able to race because I’ll need to be back on a blood thinner. I’m going to follow doctor’s orders and do everything I need to do to get well.”

Brett Moffitt will drive the No. 55 this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. Moffitt finished eighth at Atlanta Motor Speedway three weeks ago driving in place of Vickers.

Moffitt was scheduled to drive the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports. The team has not announced what it will do.

“First and foremost our thoughts are with Brian and his family,” said MWR founder and co-owner Michael Waltrip in a statement. “He isn’t just our race car driver, he is our friend and we know the NASCAR community will continue to rally around Brian. We are fortunate to have Brett Moffitt in our system and marveled at his great drive in Atlanta three weeks ago, so we know he can get the job done in the No. 55 this weekend. As this news is very fresh and the situation is very fluid, we can only plan for this weekend at this point.”

John Hunter Nemechek wins at Iowa, second Truck victory in a row

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At one point going four-wide on a restart with seven laps to go, John Hunter Nemechek drove from fourth to first to win the M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway.

It is Nemechek’s second Camping World Truck Series win in two weeks after an emotional victory at Gateway Motorsports Park. It is his fifth career win.

Nemechek passed low on Briscoe and Sauter into Turn 1 and cleared them on the backstretch a lap into the final run. The No. 8 team put four tires on under the previous caution. Sauter, who led 72 laps, did not pit.

“All year we felt really good about this whole stretch,” Nemechek told Fox Sports 1. “Gateway, Iowa and Kentucky. Hopefully we can go to Kentucky and make it three in a row.”

Driving the same truck he used to win last week, Nemehcek had to pass Johnny Sauter, Chase Briscoe and Noah Gragson on the restart.

The top five was Nemechek, Sauter, Brandon Jones, Grant Enfinger and Christopher Bell.

Stage 1 winner: Christopher Bell

Stage 2 winner: Johnny Sauter

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Brandon Jones’s finish in third is his season best and his first Truck top five since 2015 … Christopher Bell earned his sixth top five through nine races … Grant Enfinger earned his fourth top five, but it came at the expense of teammate Matt Crafton, who he caused to crash to bring out the late caution … Jesse Little finished ninth for his first career top 10 in his 11th start.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Ben Rhodes, Kaz Grala and Austin Wayne Self were in a wreck with three laps left in Stage 2 …. Ryan Truex’s night ended with 33 to go when he brought his truck to pit road for an engine problem. He finished 20th … Matt Crafton backed hard into the outside wall with 15 laps to go after being tagged by his teammate, Grant Enfinger, on his left-rear quarter panel. It is his first DNF of the year … Harrison Burton and Justin Haley crashed in Turn 4 coming to the checkered flag.

NOTABLE: The race was red flagged for 12 minutes and 26 seconds to clean up fluids from the three-truck crash at the end of Stage 2.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “That’s me. Four tires. That’s the man right there. Fire Alarm (Services). What do they want? They want a win and we got them one.” – Gere Kennon, crew chief for John Hunter Nemechek after winning the M&M’s 200.

WHAT’S NEXT: Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on July 6 on Fox Sports 1.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s farewell tour begins at Sonoma with service dogs named in his honor

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To commemorate Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s career and his final start at the track, Sonoma Raceway gave the driver a gift he doesn’t have to take home and will benefit others for year to come.

During his Friday press conference, the track surprised Earnhardt with three Labrador Retriever puppies. Named “Dale,” “Junior” and “Amy” – after his wife – the puppies are being given to the organization Paws as Loving Support (PALS) Assistance Dogs.

Donated by Micons Labradors and Fieldstone Labradors and sponsored by the track, the puppies will be trained to help children with disabilities in the Sonoma community.

“I’d like to thank the track for their investment to make this happen,” Earnhardt said. “It really warms my heart. Amy is going to be excited but sad she is not here. We do love dogs and making a difference in people’s lives. I’m excited to maybe come back and see how the dogs are doing.”

Sonoma is the first track Earnhardt is racing at for the last time since he announced his retirement plans in April.

The puppies will take part in PALS thorough training process, including time with incarcerated youth twice a week, before being matched with a child with a disability and his/her family as a service dog or placed with a professional as a facility dog.

PALS Assistance Dogs trains dogs to help children with disabilities including Autism, Down syndrome and mobility impairments. Some are placed with professionals working with children with special needs as facility dogs. In addition, Courthouse PALS dogs provide emotional support and comfort to victims and witnesses of violent crimes before, during and at the conclusion of a trial.

“Dale has such a huge following among our fans and we wanted to find a way for his legacy to carry forward locally, well beyond his days as a driver,” said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager. “These three puppies – Dale, Junior and Amy – will make a meaningful difference in the lives of young people in the North Bay for years to come.”

On race day, 10,000 “Thanks, Junior” hand-held fans will be given out and the No. 88 will be written in the sky by the Patriots Jet Team.

and on Facebook

Kyle Larson fastest in final Sonoma practice session, Kyle Busch second

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Kyle Larson continued his week on top of the racing world by being fastest in the final practice session for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

Larson and his No. 42 Chevrolet posted the top speed of 94.389 mph around the 1.99-mile road course.

Filling out the top five: Kyle Busch (94.344), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (94.242), AJ Allmendinger (94.221) and Jamie McMurray (94.017).

Larson recorded the most laps in the session with 30 and had the best 10-lap average at 91.817 mph.

“Yeah, we were pretty decent in qualifying trim and I thought we made some improvements in race trim from first practice to second practice,” Larson said. “I thought it was a successful practice. You can always be better. Forward drive is terrible here, so, working on that is a struggle, but felt like we made some gains.”

Erik Jones and Chase Elliott will both be in backup cars for the rest of the weekend after crashes. Jones’ occurred near the start of the session when his No. 77 Toyota wheel hopped in Turn 11, causing him to spin and crash into the tire barrier.

Elliott crashed in Turn 10 with about 10 minutes left in the session. His No. 24 Chevrolet got loose in the turn and went off track. The nose of his car was destroyed when it hit the wall.

Cup qualifying is set for 2:45 p.m. ET tomorrow.

Click here for the full practice report.

Noah Gragson earns second Truck Series pole of year for M&M’s 200 at Iowa

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Noah Gragson won the pole for the Camping World Truck Series’ M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway.

It is Gragson’s second pole of the year after also winning the pole at Martinsville.

The Kyle Busch Motorsports’ driver earned the pole with a speed of 136.151 mph.

The top five for Friday night’s race is completed by Christopher Bell (135.805), Chase Briscoe (135.682), Johnny Sauter (135.327) and last week’s winner, John Hunter Nemechek (135.292).

The M&M’s 200 is set to start at 8:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

Click here for the qualifying results.