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Daytona 500 pole deja vu links Alan Gustafson and Chase Elliott, Bill and Ernie Elliott

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Chase Elliott winning the pole for the season-opening Daytona 500 for the second consecutive year is somewhat of a case of déjà vu.

It’s the second straight year that Elliott has taken the pole for the “Great American Race.”

And it’s the third consecutive year that Elliott’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson, has been the pole-winning crew chief for the Daytona 500: twice with Elliott and with Jeff Gordon in 2015.

Here’s where the déjà vu comes into play: back in the mid-1980s, Chase’s father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, also won the pole for the Daytona 500 three consecutive times (from 1985-87) – all with the same crew chief, his brother (and Chase’s uncle) Ernie Elliott.

In fact, in the six races at Daytona International Speedway from 1985 through 1987 – three Daytona 500s and three summer races – Bill and Ernie Elliott captured four poles and were outside pole winners the two other times.

“That was something that was really cool to me,” Chase Elliott said during Wednesday’s Daytona 500 media day at Daytona International Speedway. “That’s pretty special, I think, a little bit of family heritage there with Alan, and I’m proud to have, like I said, a very, very small part in that.”

The younger Elliott, last year’s NASCAR Cup Rookie of the Year, took the pole for Sunday’s race with a field-best lap of 46.663 seconds at 192.872 mph. Not only was it his second consecutive pole at Daytona, it was his third career Cup pole overall.

There’s more to the story, though: the younger Elliott becomes only the fifth driver in NASCAR history to win the Daytona 500 pole back-to-back in consecutive years. Of course, father Bill, is another member of that quintet.

And Bill and Chase are the fourth father-son combo to earn the pole for the “Great American Race.”

It’s also the fifth consecutive Daytona 500 pole for Chevrolet and the fifth time Hendrick Motorsports has owned the first two spots on the front row, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the outside of Elliott for Sunday’s race.

“That’s really cool to me,” Elliott said of all the related pole sitting trivia. “I’m happy to have a small part in that for sure.

“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.”

What’s next? Can Chase earn his first career NASCAR Cup win this Sunday (and with Gustafson on top of the pit box)? It would continue the déjà vu theme, as father Bill is a two-time winner of the Daytona 500 (1985, 1987) with brother Ernie also on the pit box.

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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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