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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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NASCAR America: Short tracks are Clint Bowyer’s favorites

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It was a question that needed to be asked, although the answer was not a surprise to anyone. What is Clint Bowyer’s favorite type of track?

“Short tracks are obviously my favorite,” Bowyer answered. “I think they’re probably everybody’s favorite. That’s what we grew up doing. That’s probably where we feel most comfortable.”

“I love back-to-back short track races because the drivers don’t have time to forget about who they’re mad at,” Steve Letarte interjected.

But Bowyer’s love of short tracks is not limited to Martinsville, where he snapped his long winless streak earlier this year. He is even more excited about coming to Richmond Raceway this week.

“I feel like Richmond is the perfect-sized race track.”

Bowyer went one step further, suggesting there is a way to add more tracks like Richmond to the schedule.

“I feel like, some of these mile-and-a-half tracks, we need to just use as parking lots and build Richmond in the infield,” Bowyer said.

For more of what Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had to say about short track racing, watch the video above.

NASCAR America: Clint Bowyer’s parties are legendary

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Clint Bowyer parties are not only legendary, they have the same effect as a black hole on unsuspecting passersby, as Steve Letarte found out in Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America.

“The cab driver comes up, goes inside, decides he is going to clock out – stays at the party,” Bowyer explained. “(The fare) is in the car waiting on him. He’s still inside partying. So somebody (else) got in the cab and made several laps on the go-kart track that night.”

It was eventually returned – muddied and with ungrateful patrons.

The cab driver is not the only person to get sucked into the vortex of a Bowyer party. Pizza delivery men, famous singers, and countless others have made this mistake of wandering too close.

“I’ve known Clint a long time, so none of this is shocking to me,” Letarte said as he correctly answered every bizarre question aimed at him.

For more of what has happened at one of Bowyer’s parties, watch the video above.

NASCAR America at 5:30 p.m. ET: Clint Bowyer joins Dale Jr. at the Big Oak Table

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5:30-6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is joined at the Big Oak table by Clint Bowyer and Steve Letarte. Krista Voda hosts.

On today’s edition of Wednesdays with Dale Jr.

• Clint Bowyer, a few weeks removed from his victory at Martinsville, joins Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Steve Letarte at the Big Oak Table to discuss the season, short track racing, the move to Stewart-Haas Racing last year and snapping his 190-race winless streak.
• Have a question for Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Clint Bowyer? Hit us up on Twitter using #WednesDale to get your question answered on air.
• Bowyer’s Martinsville victory celebration included some Moonshine & Fire. We’ll put his personal party knowledge to the test with this week’s game “Did This Really Happen at a Clint Bowyer Party?”

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5:30 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Bump & Run: Who will be next to challenge Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick?

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Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch have combined to win five of the first eight races of the season. Who is most likely to break up their dominance?

Nate Ryan: Any of the Penske drivers. That team seems to be next in class behind Stewart-Haas Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing.

Dustin Long: Ryan Blaney. Has shown a good bit of speed lately and seems to be close to scoring a win or two in the near future.

Daniel McFadin: Kyle Larson is poised to wreak havoc on the field if he can put together complete races without any miscues, like his spin in Bristol. He’s the defending Richmond winner, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can carry his momentum there.

Dan Beaver: If it’s possible to overlook the defending champion, that is what seems to be happening with Martin Truex Jr. With five wins and 14 top fives in his last 18 races, he needs to forget about his bad luck in the last two races and concentrate on all the things the team has been doing right.

Parker KligermanWhen I look at the current landscape, I feel the drivers that can break their stranglehold will either be driving a JGR Toyota or Team Penske Ford. 

Ryan Blaney (30-race winless drought), Jimmie Johnson (31), Joey Logano (35), Ryan Newman (40 races) and Kurt Busch (43) are in droughts. Who is the first among this group to return to Victory Lane?

Nate Ryan: Logano, possibly as early as Saturday. Blaney would be 1A as it’s only a matter of time for Team Penske.

Dustin Long: Ryan Blaney. He’s been strong lately, finishing eighth at Auto Club, third at Martinsville and fifth at Texas before crashing out of the Bristol race while in the lead. His time is coming. 

Daniel McFadin: I think it comes down to either Logano or Blaney with Logano likely to win at Richmond or Talladega. He’s finished in the top two in the last two Richmond races and he’s one of the best plate racers of this generation

Dan Beaver: As consistently strong as he has run, it is difficult to believe Logano has not already won. Along with Kyle Busch, he is the only driver with seven top-10s in the first eight races. Five of these were sixth-place finishes or better. Returning to the site of his last win, Logano could break through this week – and this time it will not be encumbered.

Parker Kligerman: I believe Ryan Blaney will win first. He is showing some serious speed and seems to be in great form. I feel that crew chief Jeremy Bullins and Ryan will want to start to assert themselves inside Team Penske as the title contender I feel they will be this year. 

After the perceived success of PJ1 before the resumption of Monday’s race, should NASCAR consider doing mid-race treatments with a traction compound to tracks?

Nate Ryan: Yes. While it’s worth pondering whether it might be unfairly tampering with the competition to reapply traction compound during a race, the circumstances of a postponement should allow it, and the ends certainly justified the means in Bristol’s case.

Dustin Long: NASCAR should do what is necessary to provide the best type of racing for the fans. 

Daniel McFadin: It’s a toss-up for me, but I think I’d rather they didn’t. It’s more interesting to have teams have to account for the loss of a racing element over time, just like they do with tires. That happened in Bristol and the race was great from beginning to end. Also, applying it mid-race just makes for longer races.

Dan Beaver: If NASCAR can find a way to substantially improve the action, they should do whatever is necessary. Many dirt tracks around the country take time to water the surface before the A-Mains to develop a second groove. NASCAR still has some lessons that can be learned from the grass roots.

Parker Kligerman: Why not? I feel until we find a way to stop hearing the words “loss of downforce” from following other cars, NASCAR should continue to look at all available tools to add in variables that can cause uncertainty for the teams and drivers and create changes in track state like we saw at Bristol to cause the most dynamic races possible.