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Erik Jones knows his Michigan history — well, most of it

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Erik Jones is a proud native of Michigan.

During a recent interview with NBC Sports, the 20-year-old from tiny Byron (population 581) was tested on his knowledge of his home state.

To start off with, Jones was asked about how much snowmobiling he does back home.

“Funny part, I never have,” Jones said. “Where I grew up, everybody snowmobiled. Everybody I knows snowmobiles. But we never had snowmobiles.

“There’s not a ton (of snowmobile trails) by me. Honestly, it doesn’t snow enough most of the time. Sometimes it does, but a lot of it’s up north. But if you go up to the U.P. (Michigan’s upper peninsula), you can go up there and there’s tons of trails. I know people that go up there and they’ll ride 150-200 miles a day. I can’t imagine. It’s freezing. It’s like negative 10 degrees out.”

It’s no wonder Jones spent his winter vacation in the balmy Dominican Republic instead of the frozen tundra of northern Michigan.

As the test began, Jones quipped, “I don’t know about the state flower or anything.”

Here’s some of the things he did – and didn’t know.

Q) Which city was Henry Ford born?

Jones: “Was it Flint or Grand Rapids? It might have been up north. I don’t know for sure.”

Answer: Dearborn, Michigan, Ford Motor Company’s headquarters. Said Jones in reply, “Dang it, I was going to say Detroit, which is close.”

Q) On what holiday do the Detroit Lions play on every year?

Jones: “Thanksgiving. That’s easy.”

Answer: Thanksgiving is correct.

Q) Who was the first driver to win a NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway (in 1969)?

Jones: “That’s a long time ago. I don’t know that era very well. Was it Benny Parsons?”

Answer: Cale Yarborough is the correct answer.

Q) Who was the first NASCAR Premier Series from Michigan?

Jones: “Well, I know the most recent one. Is it Brad (Keselowski)?”

Answer: Keselowski is correct.

Q) What do you think of Mackinac Island?

Jones: “Mackinac? It’s Mackinaw. It’s spelled like Mackinac, but it’s Mackinaw City.”

Answer: Mackinac is the correct spelling, but it’s pronounced Mackinaw.

Q) What sweet treat is Mackinac known for?

Jones: “Fudge. They do have real good fudge, very good.”

Answer: Fudge is correct.

Q) What is the real name of the Detroit rapper who wrote “My Name Is …”?

Jones: “Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem). He’s from Detroit. That’s an easy one. I go by Eight-Mile (Road) all the time when I’m home.”

Answer: Marshall Mathers is correct.

Q) How many NBA titles do the Detroit Pistons have?

Jones: “Maybe four? Is it three? I knew it was three or four. Bad Boys from the late ‘80s. Who hasn’t heard of them? I wasn’t alive for the first two. I remember ’04. That was a good team.”

Answer: Three is correct (1989, 1990 and 2004).

Q) What is the team name for the University of Michigan?

Jones: “Like the Wolverines? Yeah, the Wolverines.”

Answer: Wolverines is correct.

Q) Born in Romeo, Michigan, who is Robert James Ritchie better known as?

Jones: “Oh, Bob Ritchie? Kid Rock? Yeah. Who doesn’t know Bob Ritchie? I never met him but I like his music.”

Answer: Kid Rock is correct.

Q) What band, formed in 1997 in Detroit, wrote “Seven Nation Army?”

Jones: “I never heard of that song. I don’t know that one. I was only one year old then.”

Answer: The White Stripes.

When the impromptu test was over, Jones quipped, “What about a Bob Seeger question or something? He was born in Flint. Or what about Grand Funk Railroad?”

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AJ Allmendinger making return to Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2018

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After a one-year absence, AJ Allmendinger will return to the Rolex 24 at Daytona next month.

Allmendinger, who drives for JTG Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, will once again drive for Michael Shank Racing in the endurance race at Daytona International Speedway, which will be held Jan. 27 – 28.

A winner in the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona, Allmendinger will split time in the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 in the GTD class with Justin Marks, Lawson Aschenbach and Mario Farnbacher.

Allmendinger drove for Michael Shank Racing in the endurance race from 2014-16. His best result during that stretch was fifth in the Prototype class in 2015.

“I am pumped to be back racing for Shank in the (Rolex) 24. I missed the race last year and I hated to, so I’m really glad to be back,” Allmendinger said in a press release. “His whole team did an awesome job with the Acura last year and it is awesome to be back with him for the Rolex. After racing for the overall win so many years in Prototypes, it will be a completely different experience to be racing in the GTD class, but I’m looking forward to it. Mike (Shank) always puts an awesome team together and this year is no different so I am counting down to get my first shot in this car.”

Allmendinger is coming off his fourth full year of driving the No. 47 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing. He finished the season 27th in the standings, his worst during his tenure with the team. He earned one top five and five top 10s.

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.

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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.”