Curtis Turner: From NASCAR banishment to celebrated Hall of Famer

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Curtis Turner was banned from NASCAR for attempting to start a driver’s union in 1961, only to be reinstated four years later after a number of other drivers and track operators lobbied for his return.

Now, 55 years after Bill France barred him, Turner posthumously was inducted Saturday into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Tim Flock, who also had been banned with Turner, was inducted into the NASCAR Hall in 2014.

His daughter, Margaret Sue Turner Wright, who opened a museum about her father’s exploits in 2001, spoke with the media after the induction ceremonies and was asked about the union controversy, which stemmed somewhat from the funding needed to build Charlotte Motor Speedway, of which Turner was a part-investor.

“He tried to save the track at one point. He and Bruton (Smith) were working on this deal together for a long time, and they ran into trouble, and financing was a big issue when they hit granite because it was going to be so expensive to try to blast through there and fix it and also get it done in time for the race they had already advertised.

“So he was looking for financing. He was looking for more help because he didn’t have it. So this is where he eventually went to try to form a Teamsters’ Union because he was turned onto Jimmy Hoffa, and (Hoffa) said, ‘Well, I’ll loan you the money if you can get a union going.’

“So Daddy thought, well, this is what the drivers need, this will probably help them. They didn’t have big purses then. They couldn’t get insurance. That was a laugh. There was nobody that could get insurance then because of racing was a pretty dangerous sport.

“So that is my awareness of it, and that didn’t work out at the very end, even though they told them that they would do that, because then they changed their mind and said, oh, we can’t do that, it’ll be a conflict of interest.

“But at the time, everyone was on board with Daddy and they were trying to help the track, and the racers that they sort of started dropping off from it because Bill France didn’t like the idea of the union, which that was his choice, but he didn’t want to have anything else controlling him, which I kind of understand that. But it was just a matter of not allowing that to happen because he wanted the freedom away from that.

“Tim Flock was the only one that stayed on with daddy. All the other drivers did drop out of that original agreement, and they were going to do that to try to help.”

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Denny Hamlin still angry at Bubba Wallace over Adderall blast

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Denny Hamlin gave his side of his feud with Bubba Wallace in a series of Twitter posts Monday afternoon, clarifying why he remains angry at the NASCAR rookie.

Hamlin and Wallace collided Sunday on the last lap of the Daytona 500 while racing for second, and both cars then sustained significant damage in a crash that happened after the checkered flag. In a live interview on Fox afterward, Wallace said Hamlin “might need to take some Adderall for that one.’

In a SiriusXM interview Tuesday morning, Wallace said “I’m OK, he’s not” about an ongoing text exchange with Hamlin about the incident. Hamlin and Wallace also had a heated altercation (a short video was posted on Twitter) in the Daytona International Speedway garage, where they met in passing from appearances in the media center.

That was where Hamlin was asked by Joseph Wolkin of Frontstretch.com about Wallace’s Adderall comment. Hamlin jokingly said on a podcast last week that 70% of his driving peers used Adderall, which drew scorn from NASCAR officials.

In three tweets late Tuesday afternoon, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver gave his side.

Bump & Run: Daytona 500 takeaways, tattoos

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What is your biggest takeaway from Daytona Speedweeks?

Nate Ryan: The emergence of Bubba Wallace as a budding star. His resonance became decidedly noticeable after the runner-up finish in the Daytona 500 and subsequent emotional news conference. Results now become critical (and much more daunting away from plate tracks).

Dustin Long: The relative acceptance from the competitors about blocking even though it was a factor in many of the crashes during Speedweeks. What once was a rallying cry to stop now is viewed with a shoulder shrug by drivers because that’s how things are done on plate tracks. Blocking seems to bother fans more than drivers.

Daniel McFadin: When was the last time a second-place finisher overshadowed the winner of the Daytona 500? Whether it’s local or national media, Darrell Wallace Jr. seems to be getting just as much or more attention than Austin Dillon. Also, whether it was a result of the rules package, physics or luck, we went through every NASCAR event in Speedweeks without a car or truck flipping or getting airborne.

Jerry Bonkowski: I agree with my colleagues about Bubba Wallace. I’ve long thought he was a star in the making, dating back to his days driving a Truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Sunday was his day to shine and that he did. Along with several of his young peers like good friend Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and more, Wallace could play a key role in NASCAR’s youth movement. One other thing: I loved the new Chevy Camaro. 

After the Xfinity race went to a fifth overtime attempt to finish, should NASCAR consider limitations on how many overtimes it allows? If so, what should that limit be?

Nate Ryan: No. The Rubicon has been crossed. The only change now is eliminating green-white-checkered finishes, which will never happen.

Dustin Long: No change is needed.

Daniel McFadin: If you’d asked me in the moment Saturday evening, I would have given an emphatic yes right before the final attempt. Then Tyler Reddick and Elliott Sadler somehow delivered the closest finish in national NASCAR series history. If you’re going to put a limit on it, maybe make it five in honor of that finish. Until then, do you want you can to have the race finish under green.

Jerry Bonkowski: No. Keep racing until the race finishes under the checkered flag.

What are you most interested in seeing this weekend with the series at Atlanta Motor Speedway?

Nate Ryan: Which teams and manufacturers are running well at the first 1.5-mile track of the season, though this won’t be as accurate of a barometer as Las Vegas.

Dustin Long: Pit road. There will be more pit stops and each time teams will change four tires. At Daytona, many changes were no tire or two tires. We’ll start to see who has it figured out the best on pit road this weekend.

Daniel McFadin: How the Chevrolet teams on the Cup side perform with the new Camaro in its first race at an intermediate track, specifically with the teams of Jimmie Johnson – who has tied his career mark for races without a win at 24 – and Darrell Wallace Jr. There’s a lot to be excited about surrounding Wallace, but everyone should be prepared for temper their expectations. In Aric Almirola‘s six starts for Richard Petty Motorsports at Atlanta, he finished better than 11th once (ninth, 2014). 

Jerry Bonkowski: The biggest thing for me is to see how guys like Austin Dillon, Bubba Wallace and others who did so well at Daytona wind up doing at Atlanta. Totally different type of race track, no restrictor plates, more strategy and more of the race in the driver’s hands (and feet). The last thing I want to see is guys who did well at Daytona not do so well at Atlanta.

Austin Dillon got a tattoo to celebrate his Daytona 500 win. What would it take for you to get a tattoo?

Nate Ryan: An ungodly sum of money and full jurisdiction over its placement and size. (P.S. I drove by a tattoo laser removal billboard off I-4 on my drive to Daytona every day the past two weeks. So if any of the No. 3 team members change their minds about the “permanent” ink, there’s hope.)

Dustin Long: Not happening. Next question.

Daniel McFadin: It would take the Dallas Cowboys winning consecutive Super Bowls and someone reminding me about this article for me to give that serious consideration.

Jerry Bonkowski: My kids talked me into getting a temporary henna tattoo at DisneyWorld once. It was a barbed wire on my right arm. Let’s just say this: it looks good on Pamela Anderson, but me, meh, not so much. Like Dustin said, “not happening” any day, any way.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital to sponsor Tyler Reddick in multiple races

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JR Motorsports announced a new sponsor for driver Tyler Reddick beginning this weekend in the Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Reddick, who won the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, will be sponsored by Nationwide Children’s Hospital for five races this season.

The hospital, located in Columbus, Ohio, is one of America’s largest pediatric healthcare and research centers delivering care for more than 1.4 million patients each year.

Nationwide is a long-time supporter of owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The branding space on Reddick’s No. 9 Chevrolet on Saturday was made possible through the support of one of JRM’s partners, which made a donation to Nationwide Children’s in memory of one of its founders, Carolyn Brown.

“Our relationship and commitment to Nationwide Children’s Hospital goes much deeper than this partnership,” said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports, in a press release. “The work they do is invaluable, and we are honored to partner alongside them and be continued advocates of their mission. Theirs is a cause that all of us at JR Motorsports, and our partners, are firmly supportive of.”

Reddick, a two-time winner in the Xfinity Series, is in his first year with JR Motorsports.

“I know how important Nationwide Children’s Hospital is to Dale and Amy (Earnhardt), Kelley and everyone at JR Motorsports,” said Reddick in a press release. “I’m proud to be supporting their cause and it’s been eye-opening to learn about the tremendous work they do for children and their families across the country. I’m looking forward to visiting the hospital and meeting their Patient Champions.”

Saturday’s Rinnai 250 begins at 2 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

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How Austin Dillon’s first two Cup wins stack up against other drivers

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It took Austin Dillon until his fourth full-time season to finally visit victory lane in the NASCAR Cup Series.

In his 133rd start, in the 2017 Coca-Cola 600, the Richard Childress Racing driver took his first trip to victory lane.

Dillon only needed 24 more races to make a return visit, winning Sunday’s Daytona 500.

The 27-year-old driver claimed victories in two of NASCAR’s crown jewel events to begin his climb up the all-time wins list.

How do those two victories compare to the initial set of wins for other notable drivers throughout NASCAR history?

David Pearson

The second winningest driver in Cup history and a NASCAR Hall of Famer, Pearson also got his first victory in NASCAR’s longest race on May 26, 1961, beating Fireball Roberts and Rex White.

Win No. 2 came two months later in the July race at Daytona, the Firecracker 250.

Jeff Gordon in victory lane following the Coca-Cola 600 on May 29, 1994 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by ISC Archives via Getty Images)

Jeff Gordon

In his second full-time season in 1994, Gordon went to victory lane for the first time in the Coca-Cola 600. It came in his 42nd start in the No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

Two months later, Gordon won the inaugural Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was his first of five victories at the track located minutes away from his hometown of Pittsboro.

Bobby Labonte

If you can’t tell, Charlotte Motor Speedway has been kind to drivers looking for their first Cup win.

A year after Gordon won the Coke 600, Labonte followed with his own victory in the race. Driving the No. 18 for JGR, he won over his brother Terry.

Bobby Labonte’s second win came at Michigan International Speedway in June 1995.

Matt Kenseth

As a rookie in 2000, the former Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush Fenway Racing driver claimed his first Cup win in the Coke 600, beating Bobby Labonte and Dale Earnhardt. It was in his 18th start (his first was in 1998).

Kenseth’s second win came in the spring 2002 race at Rockingham.

Terry Labonte

The two-time Cup champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer claimed his first victory in the 1980 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

He only led the final two laps and had to pass Pearson at the start-finish line in a race back to the caution.

Labonte’s second win came three years later at Rockingham.

Sterling Marlin

Marlin made his first Cup start in 1976 at Nashville Speedway.

But his first visit to victory lane didn’t come until 18 year later in the 1994 Daytona 500.  The win was in Marlin’s 279th start.

His second win came a year later – in the Daytona 500. Marlin is the last driver to win the “Great American Race” in consecutive years.

Michael Waltrip

Waltrip had a lot more starts before achieving his first Cup win – 462. In start 463, Waltrip won the 2001 Daytona 500 for Dale Earnhardt, Inc.

He didn’t have to wait quite as long to get win No. 2. That came in July 2002 in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona. All four of Waltrip’s Cup wins came at restrictor-plate tracks.

Dale Jarrett

The NASCAR Hall of Famer and NBC Sports analyst also took awhile to get his first victory. After eight years and 129 starts, Jarrett got his first victory in a photo finish over Davey Allison at Michigan while driving for Wood Brothers Racing.

Two years later, Jarrett returned to victory lane in the Daytona 500 in one of the most iconic finishes in NASCAR history, beating Dale Earnhardt to deliver Joe Gibbs Racing its first NASCAR win.

Jamie McMurray

It only took two starts for McMurray to get his first win.

Substituting for an injured Marlin in Chip Ganassi’s No. 40 car, McMurray won the fall 2002 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

He wouldn’t win again until 2007.

In a common theme with this look back, win No. 2 took place at Daytona. Driving for Roush Fenway Racing, McMurray won the Pepsi 400 by .005 seconds over Kyle Busch.