Comcast announces finalists for Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award

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Announced on Thursday’s episode of NASCAR America, Comcast has named the three finalists for the 2016 Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award.

Created to recognize charitable efforts by members within the NASCAR industry, the award will be presented for just the second time this year.

The finalists are Ray Wright, the pit crew coach at Richard Childress Racing in the Sprint Cup Series; Wade Jackson, a fabricator in the Xfinity Series at JR Motorsports; and Samantha Busch, co-owner of Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series.

“Each year, it is both humbling and empowering to hear so many examples of how NASCAR is making a difference beyond the track,” said Matt Lederer, Executive Director of Sports Marketing at Comcast. “The Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award was created to extend our Xfinity partnership with NASCAR outside of the competitive space to reinforce the importance of bringing positive change to one’s own community, and it’s an honor to recognize this year’s finalists.”

Comcast will award $60,000 to the winner’s charity, as well as $30,000 to each of the two remaining finalists’ charities.

In 2015, Joey Gase was named the winner of the inaugural Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award for his work with the Iowa Donor Network, which is an organization that provides education on the importance of organ donation.

About the 2016 finalists:

Ray Wright (Welcome, North Carolina) is the founder of Pit Stops for Hope. The organization serves youth in America by providing food for children while helping create a positive classroom environment. Wright collects old pit crew items and sells them on pit road where fans make a donation toward the organization with their purchase. Wright also reached an agreement with Richard Childress Racing drivers to collect donations based on top-performing pit stops. Working with other organizations such as the Salvation Army and Second Harvest Food Bank, Pit Stops for Hope donates thousands of dollars to educators each year. A number of fundraising events are also held annually.

Wade Jackson (Mooresville, North Carolina) lost his son, Jacob Jackson, at 17 years old following congenital heart defect after open heart surgery. Wade and his wife Kim have since created Camp LUCK (Lucky Unlimited Cardiac Kids), which is a camp that provides a place for kids suffering heart disease to gather and experience the community. The Jackson’s put in countless hours promoting the organization’s mission that stretches across many other programs Camp LUCK offers, such as Kids Camp, where campers can bring one of their siblings to enjoy the experience with them. Family camp allows families to spend a long weekend together. Baby LUCK, Youth Board, Parent Support Network, Camp LUCK Cares, Camp LUCK Closet and Hug ‘n Heal Pillows is also offered by the organization.

Samantha Busch (Mooresville, North Carolina) and her husband, Kyle, discovered the expenses, lack of awareness on infertility and the rarity in insurance coverage associated with in vitro fertilization (IVF) when they turned to the REACH Clinic in 2014 for help conceiving their son. The Busch’s then created the Kyle and Samantha Busch Bundle of Joy Fund, which works to empower families to overcome the hardship by providing the essential tools to do so. Thirteen couples have benefited from the program in the last year and more than $140,000 have gone toward IVF treatments at the REACH Clinic. Samantha Busch also puts time into her annual Prom Dress Drive, where dresses are collected for young girls who cannot afford formalwear, in addition to working with the Pretty in Pink Foundation, which raises money for uninsured or under-insured breast cancer patients. Busch also spends each holiday season shopping for items she can provide to underprivileged families.

The winner of the 2016 Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award will be announced during the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series awards banquet on November 21. He or she will be selected by a panel of Comcast and NASCAR executives, as well as former driver Kyle Petty, and NASCAR.com reporter Holly Cain.

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NBCSN to broadcast NASCAR announcement at 6 p.m. ET Monday

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NBCSN will air live a press conference held by NASCAR industry stakeholders to discuss the upcoming 2017 season at 6 p.m. ET Monday.

The announcement will be attended by NASCAR executives, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers, NASCAR team representatives and NASCAR track representatives.

The press conference is being held at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Kyle, Kurt Busch compete in first day of Race of Champions exhibition

DOVER, DE - MAY 30:  Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, left, talks with brother Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on May 30, 2015 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
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Kurt and Kyle Busch are in Miami this weekend to take part in the international auto racing competition, Race of Champions. The exhibition event is two days and pits drivers from every major auto racing league against each other.

The Busch brothers are the only NASCAR representatives in the competition. They are joined multiple Formula One drivers, Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Alexander Rossi, Ryan-Hunter Reay, James Hinchciffe and Tony Kanaan and action sports star Travis Pastrana. Prior to the start of the races, all of the drivers got psyched up together.

And right before the event began, Kurt Busch showed off his new No. 41 Monster Energy Ford by doing donuts in the middle of the race course.

But when it came time to race Kurt Busch’s had a tough day. He and former Formula One driver David Coulthard competed in the vehicles used in the NASCAR Euro Series and Coulthard crossed the finish line with a healthy lead over the Stewart-Haas Racing driver.

Kyle Busch was marginally better in his first race against F1 driver Jenson Button, who won but with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver right at Button’s rear wheel.

But Kyle Busch bounced back in his second race and defeated Hinchcliffe, which advanced him out of the first round. But he was eliminated from the competition when he was swept by Coulthard in the next round.

In Kurt Busch’s second race, he faced Hunter-Reay, who was one of his teammates when he competed in the 2014 Indianapolis 500. Busch won, but he wasn’t able to advance to the next round.

The competition was eventually won by Montoya, who is taking part in the Race of Champions for the first time.

Both Busch brothers will be back on Sunday to compete for the Nations Cup.

Kyle Busch entered into SRL Winter Showdown Super Late Model race

JOLIET, IL - SEPTEMBER 16:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive for Safety 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 16, 2016 in Joliet, Illinois. Busch is seen here wearing his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series fire suit.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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Kyle Busch is entered into the third annual SRL Winter Showdown, a Super Late Model race at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California.

Busch, who is competing in the Race of Champions this weekend in Miami, will drive the No. 51 Toyota Camry sponsored by JBL in the Feb. 11 race.

Busch and his competitors will be trying to claim the $30,000 prize for winning the race. Kyle Busch Motorsports had a presence in last year’s Showdown when Todd Gilliland competed for the team.

“They have a pretty strong field lined up again this year with Bubba Pollard coming back and trying to make it three-in-a-row. And then you add in some of the West Coast guys like Derek Thorn, David Mayhew and Noah Gragson, who will be running one of my trucks full-time this season, and it has a lot of great drivers,” Busch told Speed51.com. “One of the things that is going to be really cool is that this will be the first time that Erik Jones and I get to race against each other in the supers since he beat me in the Snowball Derby back in 2013.”

Busch is quite successful in his Super Late Model career, having won the Snowball Derby, CRA SpeedFest, the Oxford 250, the Winchester 400 and the Battle at Berlin in recent years.

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Social Roundup: 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 20:  NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees (L-R)Richard Childress, Mark Martin, and Rick Hendrick pose for a portrait prior to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Induction Ceremony at NASCAR Hall of Fame on January 20, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
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Last night, the NASCAR Hall of Fame inducted its eighth class, including Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress, Mark Martin, Benny Parsons and Raymond Parks.

The night was filled with current and future Hall of Famers celebrating the history of the sport and the lives of the five inductees.

MORE: Benny Parsons’ Hall of Fame induction an emotional celebration

MORE: Mark Martin went from a “broken man” to a Hall of Famer

Here’s a look at how the night played out on social media with observations on the inductees from current NASCAR drivers and one message from future NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

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