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Chase Elliott nips Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win second consecutive Daytona 500 pole

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Chase Elliott became the first driver to win consecutive Daytona 500 poles since Ken Schrader more than 25 years ago.

Elliott won the pole with a lap of 192.872 mph Sunday at Daytona International Speedway. He’ll be joined on the front row by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., who qualified after a lap of 192.864 mph.

“It’s cool to share a front row with a teammate,” Elliott said.

Said Earnhardt: “I’d certainly would have loved to have gotten the pole, but I know (car owner Rick Hendrick) is happy. He’s got to be thrilled with having his cars up front.”

MORE: Daytona 500 qualifying results

Elliott’s pole marked the third consecutive year Hendrick Motorsports has won the Daytona 500 pole. It also was the third consecutive year crew chief Alan Gustafson, who grew up in the shadows of this track, had guided the pole-winning team. The last crew chief to win three consecutive Daytona 500 poles was Ernie Elliott from 1985-87.

“I think that’s really cool,” Chase Elliott said. “To date back, I know how much success they had down here and how much they enjoyed coming and how good Dad was at racing at this place and how good Uncle Ernie is at building motors to this day. It means a lot to me, so that’s pretty cool.”

Schrader was the last driver to win consecutive Daytona 500 poles when he did so from 1988-90.

Brendan Gaughan and Elliott Sadler each secured a spot in the Daytona 500 by being the fastest two non-chartered teams. The two fastest non-chartered teams and the highest finishing non-chartered driver in each qualifying race on Thursday will make the 40-car field. Thirty-six spots are guaranteed to charter teams.

Gaughan, who is with Beard Motorsports, will make his second Daytona 500 start. His only start in this race came in 2004.

Sadler is driving for Tommy Baldwin Racing and making his 14th start in the Daytona 500 but first since 2012. He finished second in the 2002 race.

The rest of the Daytona 500 starting lineup will be set after Thursday night’s 150-mile qualifying races.

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NASCAR America: 50 States in 50 Shows: New Jersey

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After a week of NASCAR America returns today with the next edition of “50 States in 50 Show,” with a look at the state of New Jersey, which is the home of Martin Truex Jr., Hall of Fame nominee Ray Evernham and the subject of today’s segment, Wall Stadium Speedway.

The 1/3-mile speedway is located in Wall Township, which is about 40 miles east of the Trenton.

Evernham called into NASCAR America to discuss the track, which has been hosting races since 1950.

“Growing up on the Jershey shore, there was a lot of stock-car racing in that area,” Evernham said. “That was a pavement track and it was a Saturday night place to go. .. The racing was great. It’s because of the banked track. There was a lot of dirt tracks and flatter tracks around there, but at the time Wall promoted that it was banked just like Daytona (International Speedway).”

Watch the video for more from Evernham, Truex about the track.

 

 

NASCAR America: Aric Almirola recounts Kansas crash that caused back injury

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Last Saturday, Aric Almirola and Richard Petty Motorsports announced Almirola would miss at least eight to 12 weeks with a T5 compression fracture in his back. The injury is a result of a violent three-car accident the previous weekend at Kansas Speedway.

Following the announcement, Almirola sat down with NASCAR America to gives his account of the accident. The interview can be watched in the above video.

MORE: Almirola’s greatest pain is not being able to fulfill children’s wishes

Following Almirola’s account, NASCAR America analysts Parker Kligerman and Kyle Petty discussed the accident and the state of safety in the sport today.

With the many years his family has been in the sport and the tragedies it has experienced seen, including the death of his son Adam Petty in a 2000 Busch Series practice session at New Hampshire Motor speedway, Kyle Petty said Almirola’s accident hits “close to home.”

“When you’ve been in the seat and another family trusts you to take care of their son or their husband or their father, whatever it may be, and it’s our responsibility to look after Aric,” Petty said. “We talk about frontal impacts, we talk about rear impacts, we talk about side impacts. There’s been so much written and spoken about concussion. … But how many times do you see a car fall out of the air? You can’t cover everything. That’s what NASCAR continues to look at, that’s what we all continue to look at. But this sport is never, ever, ever, ever going to be completely safe.”

Watch the rest of the video below for all of Petty and Kligerman’s thoughts on the Almirola and safety in NASCAR.

Ryan Blaney to drive Kyle Petty’s 1987 paint scheme in Southern 500

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The countdown to this years’ throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway began Monday with Ryan Blaney revealing his retro paint scheme on NASCAR America.

With the help of NBC Sports analysts Kyle Petty, Blaney announced his No. 21 Ford will have Petty’s 1987 paint scheme in the Sept. 3 Southern 500, which will air on NBCSN.

This is the third year for NASCAR’s throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway

Kyle Petty’s Ford Thunderbird from the 1987 season. Source: Wood Brothers Racing.

Petty drove for Wood Brothers Racing from 1985-88, when he earned two of his eight Cup wins with the team and scored 19 top five and 48 top-10 finishes. He placed in the top 10 in points in three of his four seasons with the Wood Brothers.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Petty’s win in the Coca-Cole 600.

Blaney will be making his third start in the Southern 500. His best finish in his first two starts was 13th last season.

“When he was with us, Kyle used to build his own aluminum seats,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said in  press release.. “He won a total of eight Cup races. He’s a talented singer and guitar player. He’s done great work with the Victory Junction Camp and the Kyle Petty Charity Ride, and he’s an excellent TV commentator.

“Kyle can do anything he wants to do. He’s that talented. We’re happy to have his name back on our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion for the Southern 500 at Darlington.”

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See the characters NASCAR drivers will voice in ‘Cars 3’

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Last February it was announced that NASCAR drivers Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez and Darrell Wallace Jr. would lend their voices to Pixar’s new movie Cars 3.

Now it’s less than a month from the film’s June 16 release date.

While the character’s names were part of the February announcement, NASCAR revealed the character designs Monday afternoon on Twitter.

Blaney’s character is Ryan Inside Laney.

Wallace’s character is Bubba Wheelhouse

Elliott’s character is Chase Racelott

Suarez’s character is Danny Swervez.

The animated movie will also feature the voices of Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, Darrell Waltrip, Kyle Petty, Ray Evernham, Humpy Wheeler, Mike Joy and Shannon Spake.

Richard Petty and and Waltrip were voices in the original Cars (2006) in addition to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mario Andretti.

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