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18-year-old Gray Gaulding makes big jump to Cup series with BK Racing


After spending the 2013 and 2014 seasons in the NASCAR Next program with Chase Elliott and Daniel Suarez, 2017 will become NASCAR Now for Gray Gaulding.

The 18-year-old Gaulding will be reunited with both Suarez and Elliott, as well as becoming the youngest driver (turns 19 on Feb. 10) in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season, driving for BK Racing.

The Virginia native will pilot the No. 23 Toyota Camry, with his first race the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 5. Joey Gase is slated to be in the No. 23 for three races this season, so Gaulding will likely switch to the team’s No. 83 or No. 93 for the same races.

“When I first walked into the BK Racing shop I felt at home, it has the perfect mixture of corporate America and the old-school race shop feeling” Gaulding said in a media release. “(Team majority owner) Ron Devine has invested a lot of time, effort, and equity into BK Racing and it shows as you walk the shop floor. … I can’t wait to get behind the wheel.”

Sponsorship for Gaulding’s ride will be announced at a later date.

Gaulding is a great talent, but moves to NASCAR’s premier series with limited experience:

* He has just two prior Cup starts, both in the fall of last season, finishing 39th at Martinsville and 37th at Phoenix. He also failed to qualify in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

* He has just two Xfinity Series starts, both also in 2016, finishing 13th at both Bristol and Richmond.

* He has 13 Truck Series starts, with one top-five and two top-10 finishes.

Gaulding has had the most success in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West: In 43 combined starts, he earned one win, 13 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes, along with two poles.

Despite Gaulding’s limited top-level experience, Devine believes his young driver can do well this season.

“Over the years, BK Racing has given many talented young drivers the chance to compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and make a name for themselves,” Devine said. “We see Gray Gaulding as a potential superstar in our sport.”

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NASCAR America: Jimmie Johnson’s patience propels him to victory lane in Food City 500

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Jimmie Johnson is known for his patience behind the wheel. Where other drivers may get too hot under the collar and over-react, Johnson is typically cool as a cucumber — and that’s helped lead him to many of his 82 career NASCAR Cup wins.

That patience once again played out in Johnson’s win Monday in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, only his second career triumph (and first in seven years) at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”

On Monday’s NASCAR America, Greg Biffle and Kyle Petty discussed Johnson’s patience throughout Monday’s race.



Heavy foot on pit road foils Kyle Larson once again at Bristol

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Kyle Larson did everything he could to win Monday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

He led a race-high 203 laps in the 500-lap event, including dominating Stage 1, leading all 125 laps, as well as the first 77 laps in Stage 2.

But Larson, known for the heavy foot he has, saw that need for speed at the wrong time likely cost him the win.

When Erik Jones wrecked on Lap 422, Larson came to pit road and was too fast across two consecutive timing zones on the front straightaway en route to his pit stall.

“I was just pushing on pit road and messed up there,” Larson said after the race. “To start the race, I was the leader, I would run all my greens down pit road, and then once I fell back … down the straightaway I was running one red and flashed the second red real quick, and I guess that was all she wrote.”

NASCAR penalized Larson for speeding on pit road, dropping him to the back of the longest line, restarting in 20th place with 72 laps left in the race.

“Yeah, I knew I gave the race away there,” Larson said. “(I’m) disappointed in myself. I think I speed on pit road every single time I come to Bristol. So, I’ve got to clean that up.”

There’s that heavy foot admission once again.

Ironically, it was Larson’s first speeding penalty this season.

To his credit, Larson was able to quickly climb back up the grid, but couldn’t finish higher than sixth.

Still, Larson tried to a positive spin on things as he began to leave the track.

“I don’t know what more you could ask out of this place,” Larson said. “This is the best track we go to, most exciting place, and I love coming here.”

But he doesn’t like the way he came out of it once again, thanks to that darn heavy foot.

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NASCAR America: Dale Jarrett, Kelli Stavast recap Bristol driver performances

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After waiting out 28 straight hours of rain, Monday’s rescheduled Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway produced a rather exciting race.

The addition of adhesive to the lower grove at the track gave drivers additional grip that led to side-by-side and even three-wide racing.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Kelli Stavast discussed the top driver performances in Monday’s race.



NASCAR America: My Home Track: Maine’s Oxford Plains, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway

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NASCAR America’s My Home Track series continued Monday as we visited Maine, otherwise known as the Pine Tree State.

Not only is it a great state for racing, including places like Oxford Plains and Beach Ridge Motor Speedway, Maine also lays claim to NBCSN’s own Steve Letarte, who paid homage to his home state in Monday’s edition of NASCAR America.