Joey Logano throws blocks at right time, holds on to win Xfinity race at Talladega

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Joey Logano made a picture-perfect move on the final lap, blocking to hold off late surges by Brian Scott, Chris Buescher and Austin Dillon, to win Saturday’s Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway.

“That was intense,” Logano said over his team radio after taking the checkered flag.

It was Logano’s second career Xfinity win at Talladega (also won in 2012), his second victory in NASCAR’s junior league this season and 24th career triumph.

“It’s a combination of the old school draft and cars hooking up and bumping,” Logano said. “It’s so intense out there and your mind is looking at everything in the mirror the whole time. It’s just so cool to get to Victory Lane.”

Brian Scott rallied to finish second, followed by Dillon, JJ Yeley and Joey Gase. Buescher placed sixth,

There were six cautions, and four involved multiple cars.

On Lap 39, defending Xfinity champion Chase Elliott cut a right front tire while leading, and his car slammed into the outside wall. Elliott’s car suffered significant damage and finished 37th.

On Lap 73, a 10-car wreck occurred as several cars tried to reach pit road, bringing out a red flag for cleanup.

Among those involved were Daniel Suarez, Ryan Reed, Ryan Sieg, Kenny Wallace, Gase, Brendan Gaughan and Ty Dillon. Gaughan lost control after the wreck and slammed hard into the pit wall after bouncing off teammate Ty Dillon.

Gaughan’s car struck the pit sign for Aric Almirola’s team when he hit the wall, whipping the sign into the crew. Two crew members were injured. One was treated and released from the infield care center, while the other was sent to a local hospital by ambulance for evaluation and treatment.

UPDATE: Troy Ward, was released from Trinity Medical Center, a team spokesman confirmed Saturday night.

How Logano won: Logano actually made three different moves on the final lap to keep Elliott Sadler at bay, as well as to make a couple of late blocks to hold off the late surge by Buescher and Ty Dillon.

Who else had a good day: Scott was just one position from earning his first career Xfinity Series win after 184 starts. Scott rallied from sixth to second on the last lap. “I wanted it so bad,” Scott told FOX Sports. “These things always seem to kind of snakebite me, so I’ll take it.”

Who had a bad day: Because of wrecks, several drivers saw what appeared to be promising days end prematurely. Among those: Brendan Gaughan (finished 39th), Chase Elliott (37th), Kasey Kahne (33rd), Daniel Suarez (31st) and Erik Jones (30th).

Notables: Also having a good day was JJ Yeley, who finished fourth, and Joey Gase, who recorded a career-best fifth-place finish. … Aric Almirola also had a strong day, consistently in the top 10 before finishing 10th.

Quote of the day: “I don’t know if they don’t pay attention or don’t realize it, but when you’re pitting and start sliding up, get the hell out of the way and get down. Talladega’s easy to get down on to pit road, just get out of the way. People don’t get out of the way or try to come from the outside and chaos happens. … It just pisses me off, it’s not that tough to get onto pit road here, and for some reason, guys can’t figure it out.” – Brendan Gaughan, who got caught up in a multi-car wreck on Lap 73.

Standings: Ty Dillon remains in first in the Xfinity Series point standings, Chris Buescher (nine points out of the lead) gained one place to once again take over second place, Chase Elliott (-37) dropped one position to third place, Darrell Wallace Jr. (-37) and Regan Smith (-43) remained unchanged in fourth and fifth place respectively, Brian Scott (-44) gained three spots up to sixth, Elliott Sadler (-48) and Ryan Reed (-75) remained in seventh and eighth respectively, Daniel Suarez (-760 moved up one spot to ninth, and Brendan Gaughan (-81) dropped four spots to 10th.

Next race: Sunday, May 17, Iowa Speedway.

FINAL RESULTS:

1 Joey Logano … 113 laps

2 Brian Scott … 113 laps

3 Austin Dillon … 113 laps

4 JJ Yeley … 113 laps

5 Joey Gase … 113 laps

6 Chris Buescher … 113 laps

7 Elliott Sadler … 113 laps

8 Ty Dillon … 113 laps

9 Regan Smith … 113 laps

10 Aric Almirola … 113 laps

11 Landon Cassill … 113 laps

12 Jeffrey Earnhardt … 113 laps

13 Benny Gordon … 113 laps

14 David Starr … 113 laps

15 John Wes Townley … 113 laps

16 Boris Said … 113 laps

17 Jeremy Clements … 113 laps

18 Peyton Sellers … 113 laps

19 Mario Gosselin … 113 laps

20 Darrell Wallace Jr. … 113 laps

21 Eric McClure … 113 laps

22 Dakoda Armstrong … 113 laps

23 Blake Koch … 113 laps

24 Cale Conley … 113 laps

25 Ross Chastain … 111 laps

26 Derek White … 111 laps

27 Mark Thompson … 111 laps

28 Brennan Poole … 110 laps

29 Ryan Sieg … 107 laps

30 Erik Jones … 105 laps

31 Daniel Suarez … 101 laps

32 Ryan Reed … 99 laps

33 Kasey Kahne … 98 laps

34 Mike Bliss … 98 laps

35 Chad Boat … 97 laps

36 Harrison Rhodes … 84 laps

37 Chase Elliott … 84 laps

38 Kenny Wallace … 72 laps

39 Brendan Gaughan … 72 laps

40 Charles Lewandoski … 3 laps

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Wood Brothers secure charter for 2018 season

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The Wood Brothers have formed a partnership with Go Fas Racing that will allow the No. 21 team to have a charter, guaranteeing Paul Menard a starting spot in every Cup race this season.

Last year, the Wood Brothers leased a charter from Go Fas Racing.

“This charter is a game-changing step for Wood Brothers Racing. It’s the critical piece needed to thrive as a top owner in our sport,” said Len Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing, in a statement from the team.

“We have been fortunate enough to have extremely fast cars and are blessed with the best sponsors in NASCAR. Pair that with our support from Ford and nearly every piece is in place. Last year we leased a charter from Archie [St. Hilaire]. We’ve really come to appreciate working with him and his son Mason, and I think everyone has benefited tremendously from this relationship. For 2018 and beyond, we’ve taken it a step further and entered into a partnership and we think it will be a rewarding endeavor for everyone involved.”

The Wood Brothers scored their 99th career Cup win with Ryan Blaney last year and earned their first playoff spot.

Go Fas Racing stated on Twitter it would have a charter for Matt DiBenedetto but didn’t reveal details.

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Danica Patrick confirms she is dating NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers

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Danica Patrick said Monday that she and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers are dating. Patrick confirmed the news to The Associated Press.

Patrick, who is from Illinois, is a Chicago Bears fan but will change allegiances.

She told the AP that she and Rodgers met at the 2012 ESPY Awards.

“I told him a long time ago I’d always root for him as a player,” Patrick told the AP. “Now I am probably going to cheer for the whole team. Take out the word ‘probably.’ Now I’m going to cheer for the whole team.”

Patrick ended a five-year relationship with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in November. Rodgers split from actress Olivia Munn in 2017 after three years of dating.

Patrick plans to retire from racing this season after competing in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500. She has not announced a deal for either ride. An executive with Chip Ganassi Racing recently told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that they were no longer talking to Patrick about a ride in either race.

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Darrell Wallace Jr. feels a connection to Wendell Scott without the pressure of his legacy

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WELCOME, N.C. – There will be many reminders of the history that Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. could make this season in NASCAR’s premier series, but this one was especially personal.

The first full-time African-American driver on the circuit in 47 years since Wendell Scott received a 2-minute voice mail recently from Scott’s son, Wendell Jr.

“(It said) don’t feel like I need to carry the pressure of his dad and the Scott legacy, just go out there and do me,” Wallace said, relaying the message last Friday during a break from a preseason production shoot. “That’s the way it’s always been. All the history falls in place after. That’s how I like to go about it. A small part carries him with me, but I don’t put that in the forefront.

“For me, it’s just to go out and get through practice, qualifying and the race. If we end up with a top five, then, hey, it’s the first African-American to do this or the first African-American to do that. I don’t really look at that stuff. That’s when the media kind of brings that in. You can sit back after the race and say, ‘Damn, that was pretty cool.’ ”

Wallace is accustomed to being in the headlines for unique accomplishments. His Oct. 26, 2013 win in the Camping World Truck Series at Martinsville Speedway was the first by a black driver in one of NASCAR’s national series since Scott’s Dec. 1, 1963 win at Jacksonville, Florida.

Wallace, 24, has notched five more truck victories since then (including his lone start on the circuit last August at Michigan International Speedway) and made the Xfinity Series playoffs in 2016.

But as he steps into the famous No. 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports (which has moved this year to Chevrolet and a new shop location adjacent to Richard Childress Racing, which will supply its cars and engines), Wallace acknowledges that “for sure, I’m carrying that banner” again for Scott. He got to know the racing pioneer’s family eight years ago after entering NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program.

He understands the attention brought by his race, though he also sees evidence on social media that his fan base tires of hearing about it.

“It’s something I’ve embraced,” Wallace said. “I’ve accepted that it’s always going to be talked about no matter what I do. I’ll be the first African-American to take a piss in the Cup garage. Everything I do is a first. It’s going to be there. I’ve accepted it.

“The fans are (who) get so fired up over it. It’s like, ‘Why do we have to mention it?’ Because no one is there. It’s going to be mentioned. It has to be mentioned. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.”

Wallace made his Cup debut with RPM last season at Pocono Raceway, the first of four starts in place of injured Aric Almirola. He posted a respectable average finish of 17.8 while handling the increased exposure with aplomb.

Team owner Richard Petty said “there’s going to be a lot of pressure on (Wallace)” in 2018, but he thinks his crew won’t feel the effects.

“I don’t think it’s going to put that much pressure on RPM because they’re going to do the best they can for whoever it is,” Petty said. “It’s going to put a lot of pressure on him, so he’s going to have to learn to live with it.”

Crew chief Drew Blickensderfer said Wallace already proved last year he is highly adaptable despite the heavy scrutiny.

“When we showed up at Pocono, we realized what it was all about,” Blickensderfer said. “It kind of gave you goosebumps to think about how special it was. We saw all the hoopla and everything that was going on around it, we thought, ‘This is something that’s a little different than just the kid who’s going to drive a race car.’ ”

It doesn’t feel so different away from the track, though, when Wallace brings his freewheeling presence through the shop.

“When he walks in be-bopping and giving people knuckles, it’s nothing,” Blickensderfer said. “It’s just a kid driving a race car. But I think when we get to Daytona and unload the car that has ‘Wallace’ on it and it’s his car, I think it’s going to be a little different. But it’s different in a great way.

“Everybody on this team looks at it like it’s cool. The way Bubba reacts to it, he just handles it. He does it remarkably well for a kid his age. He just kind of takes it in and is OK with it and goes about his business, much better than most people would. It makes it easier for us just to not even think about that weekly. When we get ready to fire engines for the Daytona 500, we’re going to be like, ‘He’s doing something really cool here.’ Until then it’s kind of business, and it’s just some kid driving a race car.

But as he prepares for his first full season in Cup, even Wallace finds himself occasionally caught in the moment – such as when he walked past one of his new Camaros – which was coated only in primer but had his last name across the windshield.

“I was thinking, ‘Damn that’s my Cup car,’” he said. “That’s cool. Nothing on it but ‘Wallace.’ I thought, ‘Damn, that’s really cool to see.’ It’s exciting stuff that’s happening right now. I’ll be anxious to see when we get to Daytona how giddy I’ll be.”

Justin Haley returning to GMS Racing for 2018

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Justin Haley will again drive the No. 24 Chevrolet Silverado this season for GMS Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the team announced Monday. Sponsor Fraternal Order of Eagles also returns.

The 18-year-old won a pole at Texas and had three top-five finishes and 12 top-10 results in 21 starts last year.

“We found a lot of success toward the end of the 2017 season, so there’s a good amount of momentum that we can carry over into this year,” said Haley in a statement from the team. “The No. 24 team is working hard in the offseason to take us to that next level, to be able to keep running up front and improving week to week. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be competing for a championship when we get to Miami, and I couldn’t be more excited to be heading in that direction with GMS and the Fraternal Order of Eagles.”

Haley will again have Kevin Bellicourt as his crew chief.

“It’s been really encouraging to see the work that not only this team has done, but that Justin has put in over the offseason,” said Bellicourt in a statement from the team. “From working in the gym to time on the simulator, he’s focused on getting himself prepared to make a run for the title. The team has put everything we’ve got behind him and we’ve watched him do the same. It feels like all the pieces are coming together at the right time.”

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