Screenshot 2016-02-02 10.33.05
(Photo by John Hunter Nemechek)

Wooooo! NASCAR driver honors wrestler Ric Flair on helmet

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John Hunter Nemechek has never met “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, but Nemechek will honor the Hall of Fame wrestler with a neon-colored helmet that features a portrait of Flair on the back. The helmet, designed by Off Axis Paint, will debut this month at Daytona International Speedway.

The 18-year-old NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver learned about Flair from his father, Joe Nemechek, who was a big fan of the wrestler.

“I always heard dad talk about Ric Flair as one of his idols,” John Hunter Nemechek told NASCAR Talk. “A bunch of the guys in the shop … pretty much everyone is a big Ric Flair fan. We’re hoping to get him out to a race at one point.”

When his dad saw the helmet, what was his reaction?

“He just smiled and laughed,” Nemechek said.

Nemechek admits that Flair, a 16-time world heavyweight champion, can provide inspiration for this upcoming season, noting Flair’s success.

“Hopefully, we can be the champs,” said Nemechek, who scored his first Truck win last year at Chicagoland Speedway and finished 12th in the points despite missing five races because he was not old enough to compete on the larger tracks at the time.

To be champion, Nemechek will have to follow one of Flair’s famous sayings: “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.”

 

NASCAR America: Tony Stewart’s success at Daytona in July

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While Tony Stewart hasn’t won the Daytona 500, he’s found victory lane at Daytona four times in the Coke Zero 400. NASCAR America discusses “Smokes” history at Daytona and if he can continue the momentum found at Sonoma Raceway.

Follow the leader: JR Motorsports carries Dale Jr.’s mantle in Xfinity plate races

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Chase Elliott, driver of the #88 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet, leads Elliott Sadler, driver of the #1 OneMain Chevrolet, during the NASCAR XFINITY Series PowerShares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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The last time the Xfinity Series visited Daytona International Speedway, the race ended in the familiar sight of a bunch of drivers trying – and failing – to chase down a car with the No. 88 on its side.

But for once, the driver who emerged from the car wasn’t Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has won 10 times at Daytona in the Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series. It was Chase Elliott, who got to celebrate with Earnhardt the team owner.

Elliott’s win – his first on a restrictor-plate track – was the third JR Motorsports triumph at Daytona in five starts. It followed a sweep of the 2014 races by Regan Smith and Kasey Kahne.

In addition to his win in February, Elliott also earned the pole in both Sprint Cup plate races.

Like its owner, JR Motorsports’ restrictor-plate success is not limited to the Florida coast. The team has returned from Talladega Superspeedway victorious twice since 2013. Elliott Sadler claimed the win in May’s race after he was ruled to be the leader when the caution came out on the final lap.

“Our restrictor-plate program is very good right now,” Sadler said in a press release. “We had the lead at Daytona on the last lap to start the season and we just won Talladega a few weeks ago. We’re in a position, being locked in the Chase, where we can go down this weekend and be aggressive and do everything we can to just focus on winning the race.”

Sadler’s win gives JRM five in the last 10 races on plate tracks with four different drivers. The team’s avg finish of 4.57 in the first two plate races of 2016 is five positions better than any other team.

JRM will have Elliott, Sadler and Justin Allgaier on the track for this weekend’s Firecracker 250. The three drivers combined have three plate wins. Allgaier has three top fives in 17  Xfinity starts at plate races.

If one of them winds up in victory lane, it would make JR Motorsports the third team to sweep the Xfinity Series’ three plate races. The last two were Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008 and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in 2003.

That year, Earnhardt pulled the feat off himself, leading 227 laps on the way to three wins.

Fire at ThorSport Racing shop ruled accidental

The damage from Monday's fire to the suspension area at ThorSport Racing, (Photo by ThorSport Racing)
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The June 13 fire at ThorSport Racing’s shop was accidental and started outside the building in mulch underneath a stairway, according to a report by the Ohio State Fire Marshal.

About 40 percent of the building was lost because of the fire. The report listed fire damage as $10 million. The team fields entries in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes, Cameron Hayley and Rico Abreu. Fifteen of the team’s trucks were saved, but the suspension room and fab shop were destroyed. Fire units from four communities were called to the fire.

The report did not list an exact cause of the fire. The investigator wrote: “I was unable to eliminate careless smoking material discarded into the mulch bed on the exterior of the building as the heat source for this fire.”

The report noted that automatic sprinkler and fire alarms in the building did not activate because “the fire spread from the exterior into the roofline and walls. This was above and beyond the sensors and sprinkler heads. The interior alarms did activate once fire crews arrived and began to ventilate the interior rooms.”

The report also noted that “several sprinkler heads on the east side of the building activated once the roof collapsed and fire spread to interior portions of the building.”

The investigator detailed fire damage found in the patio area. After removing metal siding, the investigator reported that “fire damage was visible from the ground level into the void space between the metal wall covering and the original building. … Both the composite wood and wood framing was heavily damaged at ground level and evenly damaged on the interior facing side indicating fire spreading from the ground level upward.”

The report also included interviews with those who worked at the shop. They noted the patio area was often a place for employees to take lunch breaks during weekdays. No one reported seeing anyone smoke in that area that weekend before the fire.

“Copious amounts of water used during the fire attack washed a large portion of the mulch and other ground cover away from the building,” the investigator stated in the report. “I was unable to identify smoking materials in the area of origin but did see smoking materials on the grounds of the brick patio. The area of origin was the east side exterior of the building below the stairs. The mulch bed and ground cover is the specific area of origin.”

The report states the case is closed with no further investigate actions to be performed.

Watch LIVE: NASCAR America at 6 p.m. ET: Previewing the Coke Zero 400

nascar america logo 10-19-2015
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Today’s episode of NASCAR America, which airs from 6 – 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, gives you one last preview of this weekend’s action at Daytona International Speedway.

Dave Briggs hosts with Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut.

Included in today’s show:

  • Hear from our crew at Daytona International Speedway, including Krista Voda, Kyle Petty, Dale Jarrett, Rick Allen, Steve Letarte and birthday boy Jeff Burton.
  • On Saturday, Tony Stewart makes his final start at Daytona as a full-time Sprint Cup driver. Stewart has never won the Daytona 500, but can tie David Pearson’s record of five July Daytona wins this weekend. We’ll look back on his summertime success.
  • Marty Snider is down in Daytona with the rest of the crew and he spoke with Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman as they get ready for Saturday night’s race.
  • The art of side-drafting has become critical to success everywhere – especially at Daytona. Parker Kligerman jumps in the simulator to break down how drivers use side-drafting to their advantage.

If you’re not near a TV, you can watch online or on the NBC Sports app via at the NASCAR stream on NBC Sports.

If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 6 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

NASCAR racing returns to NBC this weekend with the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. Coverage begins July 2 at 7:45 p.m. ET on NBC.