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Darrell Wallace Jr. paying it forward with new scholarship, foundation

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If you want Darrell Wallace Jr. to help pay for your college experience, you need to be a better student than he was.

That’s the underlying theme behind Wallace’s first philanthropic venture, “The Bubba Wallace Scholarship.”

“What’s funny is and I’ll be honest with you, I was kind of the opposite of what the scholarship lays out, so it’s kind of funny that it’s all coming back around,” Wallace told NBC Sports.

It also helps to be a student at Northwest Cabarrus High School in Concord, North Carolina.

The Xfinity Series driver announced Jan. 31 he had established the “merit-based” scholarship at has alma mater to benefit one student a year beginning in 2017.

The $10,000 scholarship will be awarded to a senior graduating who is “a hard working individual with focus and determination, who is ready to pursue their dreams.”

As an aspiring race car driver in school, Wallace could check off all of these – except when it came to his academics.

“Once racing came about for me I was so focused on racing, and school potentially wound up coming second,” Wallace said. “It was like, ‘let’s just do what we need to do to get by.’ And now I’m over here preaching. We’re looking for the ones that don’t do what they need to do just to get by, we need the ones with expectations, so it’s kind of funny.”

The scholarship, which Wallace approached his alma mater about after brainstorming with his “brand manager” Kyle Hall, is his first attempt to establish his name on something that isn’t a race car or a trophy.

“I was always told to never forget where I came from,” Wallace said. “Because I would get my butt whooped from my mom, who was the one saying not to forget where I came from.”

The Mobile, Alabama, native said there’s a “little pressure” in having to make the decision of choosing which potential student receives his scholarship as an investment in their future.

“If all goes well on the race track, then it’s easy for me to set that money aside and obviously start managing and planning out our next move for the scholarship program,” Wallace said. “There’s not really a right or wrong person here. I wouldn’t say there’s too much pressure, it’s all about finding the one that exceeds all levels that the scholarship has the foundations of and just going along with it.”

Wallace is entering his third Xfinity season driving the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing. This will be his fifth full-time season competing in one of NASCAR’s national series after two seasons in the Camping World Truck Series. The African-American driver won five races in the Truck series, but is still seeking his first Xfinity victory.

Wallace is in a position to help others after being part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next programs.

But even with his hectic racing schedule ramping up as he looks for someone to further sponsor his own racing dreams, Wallace has more plans to help others. He’s “80 percent” of the way to establishing his own foundation, the “Live to be Different Foundation.”

“Every driver has their own organization, right?” Wallace joked. “For me, it’s a little bit different. Growing up in a sport where it took me a little bit to be accepted, one, of age and then one of skin color, that’s why it’s called ‘Live to be Different Foundation.’ That’s kind of the gist of it. You’re different, doesn’t matter. You can still do whatever you want, just like I’m doing whatever I want and doing what I love.”

There isn’t yet any specific cause the foundation will support, but Wallace is looking at benefiting the chronically ill and the disadvantaged. Wallace also serves as an ambassador for the cancer awareness program, the Movember Foundation.

“The foundation is created to assist individuals that are striving to do whatever they want, to achieve their goals, no matter their age, skin color, disabilities, anything, you know?” Wallace said. “That also kind of ties back into the scholarship program. They need a little bit of help to get to the next level, the next step.”

Whoever is able to get to the next step will remember help came from a guy named Bubba.

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Jimmie Johnson to start in the rear after gear change

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INDIANAPOLIS – Jimmie Johnson‘s bid for a record-tying fifth Brickyard 400 will have to begin at the back of the 40-car field.

Johnson qualified fourth Saturday but stated on Twitter that he’ll have to go to the rear of the field because they had to change the rear gear.

Although track position is pivotal at Indianapolis Motor Speedway because passing is difficult, optimists can view Johnson’s woes as a good sign. He has scored two of his three wins this season – Texas and Dover – after starting in the rear.

Also starting at the rear today is Cole Whitt (rear gear change) and Joey Gase (engine change). Whitt qualified 34th. Gase qualified 38th.

Today’s race is on NBC. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with Countdown to Green.

 

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Today’s Cup race at Indianapolis: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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The NASCAR Cup Series takes part in the 24th annual Brickyard 400 today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It marks one year since Kyle Busch earned his last Cup win, when he claimed his second Brickyard 400 in a row. Busch starts from the pole for the second year in a row.

Here’s all the important info you need ahead of the race, which airs on NBC.

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 2:32 p.m. Green flag is set for 2:44 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 160 laps (400 miles) around the 2.5-mile speedway.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 20

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 50. Stage 2 ends on Lap 100.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Cup garage opens at 9 a.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 1:55 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Carly Pearce will perform the Anthem at 2:26 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. with Countdown to Green. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network will broadcast on radio and the Performance Racing Network at 1:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the IMSRN/PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 89 degrees at race time with a 15 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Kyle Busch started from the pole and led 149 of the race’s 170 total laps. It was his second win in a row in the race. Matt Kenseth finished second, Jimmie Johnson finished third.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the full starting lineup.

Get a humorous look at life in the pits in, what else, ‘The Pits’ on NBC livestream

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Life in the pits can sometimes, well … really be the pits.

But it can also be a hilarious look at life in NASCAR, as well.

That’s the premise behind “The Pits,” a three-part “mockumentary-style series” that spoofs the life of the fictitious SONIC pit crew in NASCAR.

“The Pits” debuts Sunday on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. After each 2-3 minute episode airs, replays will be available on NBCSports.com and also the NASCAR on NBC Facebook page.

The first episode airs during this Sunday’s live stream of the Brickyard 400, which will be televised on NBC.

Episode 1 follows pit pro Rita, who falls for tire specialist Max, but Max’s only affection is for SONIC Pretzel Dogs.

The other two episodes of The Pits will livestream Saturday night, August 19, during the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and during the Sunday, October 15 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“The Pits” is produced for NBC Sports Group and SONIC Drive-In by The Kicker, with shareable content running across NBC Sports Digital assets.

Starting lineup for 24th annual Brickyard 400

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Kyle Busch will lead the Brickyard 400 to the green flag Sunday for the second year in a row.

He earned his fourth pole of the year and is seeking his first Cup win since the 2016 Brickyard 400.

Following Busch in the starting lineup is Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin is the only driver in the top five who hasn’t won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Click here for the full starting lineup.