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Jimmie Johnson pays it forward to NASCAR Cup, Xfinity rookies

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Long before he won a record-tying seven NASCAR Cup championships, Jimmie Johnson received good advice and guidance from countless individuals in the early years of his career.

Johnson is now paying things forward. At NASCAR’s recent Young Driver’s Conference, where NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series rookies were given instruction on what to expect in their new series, Johnson imparted some of the lessons he learned years ago.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookies this season will include Erik Jones (No. 77 Toyota), Daniel Suarez (No. 19 Toyota), Ty Dillon (No. 13 Chevrolet) and Gray Gaulding (No. 23 Toyota).

Jones and Suarez are already NASCAR champions. Jones won the 2015 Camping World Truck Series title; Suarez won the 2016 Xfinity Series champ.

Also in the audience when Johnson spoke were 2017 Xfinity Series rookies William Byron, Matt Tifft, Cole Custer, Spencer Gallagher and Daniel Hemric.

“I was excited to speak, excited to share some of my stories,” Johnson told NBC Sports. “A few of those stories and the points I made consisted of you’ve got to be you. And as you get going through your career, you’re going to be labeled with something if you like it or not.

“People have thought, the first one I had, was that I had a silver spoon in my mouth. People didn’t realize the upbringing I had and how hard I worked to get into those quality rides that provided so much for me. And the other is being vanilla.

“I think that’s all kind of behind me now. But my point to the rookies is you’re going to be labeled something, be you, don’t let the outside world change you. You have to stay focused on who or what you are and what got you to this point.”

Another element that Johnson conveyed to those who are following in his footsteps and tire tracks is patience.

“I’ve given plenty of examples of being patient in my career and how they’ve worked out for me,” Johnson said. “It’s the hardest thing to hear as a driver, to be patient, but it does pay off.”

And never forget where you came from, Johnson added.

“The other piece is remember everybody as you’re climbing this ladder because at some point, you’re going to have come down that ladder,” he said. “Not everybody makes it to being a full-time driver and has a driving job.

“Rodney Childers (Kevin Harvick’s crew chief) is my example for that. Rodney and I came in and were both racing for rookie of the year honors in the Busch Series in 2000. Our paths took far different routes, but we still ended up with championships (Johnson with seven Cup championships, Childers won the 2014 Cup championship with Harvick).”

In conclusion, Johnson summed up what he told the young drivers.

“So you never know where you’re going to end up, don’t burn bridges, remember how to handle things and worry about your reputation.”

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Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s to sponsor RCR in Cup, Xfinity in 2018

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Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s will sponsor Richard Childress Racing in multiple races in the Cup and Xfinity Series next year, the team announced Monday.

Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s merged in September 2017.

The outdoors brands will be on Ryan Newman‘s No. 31 Chevrolet during the 60th Daytona 500 on Feb. 18 and in several other races during the season.

Richard Childress Racing

They will also be a primary sponsor for Austin and Ty Dillon on the No. 3 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series for several races.

“Our relationship with Bass Pro Shops dates back to the mid-1990s and we’re thrilled to be able to continue it during the 2018 season,” team owner Richard Childress said in a press release. “Austin, Ty and Ryan are terrific ambassadors for the great outdoors. They are all passionate about our hunting, fishing and conservation heritage which has made this partnership thrive.

“Next season will be exciting as we welcome Cabela’s, the iconic outdoor brand acquired by Bass Pro Shops, to the RCR family.”

Bass Pro Shops, founded in 1972 by Johnny Morris, is also a primary sponsor of Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78 Toyota owned by Furniture Row Racing.

The store chain will be on the hood of the No. 78 in 16 races and on the sides of it in 14 others.

Here’s the eligible drivers for the 2018 Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona

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NASCAR has officially announced the 20 drivers who are eligible to take part in the Cup Series’ season-opening Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway.

The 75-lap exhibition event is set for 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 11, the same day as qualifying for the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

The race will be divided into two segments. A competition caution on Lap 25 will divide them.

Drivers become eligible for the Clash by winning a pole the previous season, being a Daytona 500 pole-winner who competed full-time the previous season or being a playoff driver the previous season.

Here are the eligible drivers.

2017 Coors Light Pole Award Winners (14)

Former Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Award Winners (3)

2017 Playoff Drivers (3)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth are not expected to compete in the race. Earnhardt retired from Cup competition following the 2017 season and Kenseth doesn’t have a ride for the 2018 season.

Danica Patrick, the 2013 Daytona 500 pole-sitter, announced last month she was done as a full-time driver but that she planned to race in the Daytona 500. No definitive team plans have been announced for her.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram injury update: still in ICU, but continues to show progress

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram continues to show improvement from the serious injuries he suffered in a December 3 car crash in his native Asheville, North Carolina.

In an update Sunday written on CaringBridge.org, Ingram’s daughter, Ingrid Jones, said her father remains in the Intensive Care Unit at Asheville’s Mission Hospital.

According to Jones:

“Daddy continues to hold his own, making healing steps forward and then a step back, which we fully expected-but he’s surprising us each and every day with his strength and courage to overcome this. Overall, he’s doing amazingly well.”

Ingram’s family had hoped he could have moved out of ICU and into the Trauma Unit as the next phase of his recovery, but he remains in intensive care.

Said Jones:

“For now, he’ll remain in ICU until he can go a full 24 hours without ventilator assisted breathing. We’re almost there … but may still be a few days.”

Ingram, who turns 81 on Dec. 28, was able to sit in a chair and watched part of Sunday’s NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings with his family. Jones wrote that Ingram also was surprised to learn that the mountain near the family’s Asheville-area home received a total of 16 inches of snow Friday and Saturday.

Jones added, “We continue to be optimistic for his health, and we also continue to appreciate the prayers and encouraging thoughts.”

K&N Pro Series West 2018 schedule includes Las Vegas dirt race

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The 2018 K&N Pro Series West schedule includes the series’ first dirt race in 39 years.

NASCAR announced the 15-race schedule Monday, revealing the series will race on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track on Sept. 13.

The race will kick off NASCAR’s playoff-opening weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for all three of its national series.

It will be the series’ first dirt race since 1979 at Ascot Park in Gardena, California. The K&N West series joins the Camping World Truck Series in holding one dirt race a year. The Trucks race at Eldora Speedway in July.

The K&N West season will open March 15 at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, Calif.

The schedule includes two joint-races with the K&N Pro Series East series. They will be held on July 27 at Iowa Speedway and on Aug. 24 at Illinois’ Gateway Motorsports Park.

NBCSN’s broadcast schedule for the season will be announced at a later date.

Below is the full schedule.

Date Track Location
15-Mar Kern County Raceway Park Bakersfield, Calif.
5-May Tucson Speedway* Tucson, Ariz.
19-May Orange Show Speedway San Bernardino, Calif.
9-Jun Colorado National Speedway Dacona, Colo.
23-Jun Sonoma Raceway Sonoma, Calif.
30-Jun Douglas County Speedway Roseburg, Ore.
15-Jul Spokane County Raceway Airway Heights, Wash.
27-Jul Iowa Speedway** Newtown, Iowa
11-Aug Evergreen Speedway Monroe, Wash.
24-Aug Gateway Motorsports Park** Madison, Ill.
13-Sep Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track Las Vegas, Nev.
29-Sep Meridian Speedway Meridian, Idaho
13-Oct All American Speedway Roseville, Calif.
27-Oct Kern County Raceway Park Bakersfield, Calif.

*100-lap twin features
**Combination event with NASCAR K&N Pro Series East