First win wait continues for Chase Elliott after disappointing Daytona 500 finish

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While the media swarmed around Kurt Busch‘s winning car and the few drivers who came up short behind him, Chase Elliott was kept waiting.

Elliott waited outside his No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet, which had finished 14th in the Daytona 500.

For 23 laps on Sunday, it looked like Elliott had a good chance of being the one swarmed. After starting from his second consecutive pole in The Great American Race, Elliott had avoided the carnage of four wrecks with five or more cars and one that collected 17 cars.

Elliott took the lead for the final time on Lap 175. He stayed at the front of a single-line of cars for 23 circuits of the track his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, won at four times, including two Daytona 500s.

No one mounted a real run at the No. 24 car in that time.

As buzz of Elliott possibly earning his first Cup Series win grew with each lap, the amount of gas in the No. 24 diminished.

Then, with three laps to go, it was all gone. Elliott pulled out of line and watched as Martin Truex Jr. led the field by him on the backstretch.

Minutes later, the 21-year-old was left waiting.

“It was a disappointing finish to a good day,” Elliott eventually told a Chevrolet representative. “Just one of those things you can’t do anything about. I’m happy with how the NAPA team performed, and we are going to learn from it. I’m proud of how hard everyone worked all week. We’re looking forward to getting back at it in Atlanta.”

Elliott will head to his home track of Atlanta Motor Speedway still waiting on a chance to grab a win after 42 Cup Series starts. A chance that won’t disappear.

Ryan Blaney, who finished second and is a close friend of Elliott’s, said there’s no “what ifs” regarding his fate in Sunday’s race.

“If wishes were fishes, the world would be an ocean,” Blaney said. “You kind of play with the cards you’re dealt. You never know if they (the drivers behind Elliott) would have made a run or not. Unfortunately he ran out.”

AJ Allmendinger, who finished third in the Daytona 500 for the second time, understands any frustration Elliott has after another win slipped through his fingers.

“He’s going to win so many races,” Allmendinger said. “It’s hard to know how many chances you’re really going to have at the Daytona 500. … He had a dominant car. So I can understand it. It’s hard.

“At times, yes, it’s our job. We got to go about it the right way. Sometimes we don’t. In the end it’s our passion, it’s what we live off of. I can completely understand that. At that point, you’re not going to say anything good. What are you going to say, Oh, shucks.”

Sunday was the latest chapter of Elliott narrowly missing out on a chance to visit victory lane in the Cup series.

As a rookie last season, Elliott led on late restarts in both races at Michigan International Speedway. Both instances saw Elliott get bad starts. He then had a front-row seat as Joey Logano and Kyle Larson streaked to wins. In the fall Charlotte race, Elliott led 103 laps before his day ended with a 12-car wreck on Lap 259.

There were others, but they weren’t the Daytona 500.

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My Home Tracks: New Mexico’s the Land of Enchantment and home of Cardinal Speedway

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The state of New Mexico is known more for IndyCar racing, with the Unser family being the state’s favorite sons.

Al Unser won four Indianapolis 500s, brother Bobby three and Al’s son Al Jr. a two-time winner (this weekend’s 500 marks the 25th anniversary of Little Al’s second 500 triumph).

But there’s a strong grassroots racing scene in the Land of Enchantment, particularly in the far southeast corner of the state at Cardinal Speedway, a half-mile dirt track in the little town of Eunice.

NASCAR America continues its My Home Track series of 50 states in 50 shows.

Wednesday, we visit New York state.

2018 NASCAR schedule changes: EVP Steve O’Donnell breaks it down (video)

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On Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell joined us to discuss the NASCAR Cup schedule changes in 2018, including running a road race at Charlotte and having Indianapolis be the final race before the playoffs.

“I’m real excited about these changes,” said O’Donnell, who cited unprecedented cooperation between NASCAR, its teams, drivers and sponsors to reach agreement on the schedule changes.

Among the key changes: Las Vegas will kick off the 10-race playoffs in 2018 (Chicagoland Speedway, which will have hosted the last seven playoff openers, will return to its more traditional race date in early July/late June and serve as a run-up to the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona.

Several other changes include:

  • The fall playoff race at Charlotte will move up a couple weeks in the schedule and also incorporate competition on both the infield road course and part of the speedway itself.
  • After 14 years as the deciding race to qualify for the NASCAR Cup playoffs, Richmond International Raceway will now become the second race of the playoffs.
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway will see it’s Brickyard 400 go from late July to become the final qualifying race for the playoffs in early September. While still in the rumor stage, there’s a lot of talk that IMS may change the race to something akin to its Verizon IndyCar Series Indy Grand Prix race in mid-May, where half the race is run on the infield road course and the other half on the traditional racetrack surface.

Catch up on all the changes in the above video.

Tony Stewart pulled over by state trooper, but it’s not for speeding

Photo courtesy Damein Cunningham Twitter account
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Retired NASCAR Cup driver and team co-owner Tony Stewart was stopped by an Illinois State Trooper over the weekend near DeKalb, Ill., about 90 minutes west of Chicago.

But before you think Stewart was stopped for speeding by Trooper Damein Cunningham, he wasn’t.

Rather, Cunningham pulled Stewart over for improper lane usage, although exactly what the infraction was is unclear.

After getting a verbal warning, Stewart gladly posed with Cunningham for a selfie, which the trooper promptly tweeted out.

“Just pulled over NASCAR LEGEND Tony Stewart on I-88 in DeKalb, IL, what you think I got him for? #NASCAR #ISP”

But according to the Chicago Tribune, Cunningham’s bosses apparently didn’t have a sense of humor about the incident or realize the good PR it meant for the Illinois State Police.

That, or they’re not Stewart or NASCAR fans. They ordered Cunningham to delete the tweet, which he did.

It’s unclear what Stewart, who was stopped on his 46th birthday, was doing in the Land of Lincoln.

But his luck went from bad to worse a few hours later. According to USA Today, Stewart and others were stuck in an elevator in a Madison, Wisconsin hotel for about 20 minutes before being rescued by firefighters.

We can just imagine what the elevator riders talked about while trapped.

How much do you want to bet Stewart said, “Man, do I have a story about a cop that I have to tell you.”

Cunningham then posted another tweet on Sunday after attending church services.

 

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All-Star Race will remain at Charlotte in 2018

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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NASCAR confirmed that the All-Star Race will be held again at Charlotte Motor Speedway despite more of a push from competitors and others to move the event.

Criticism was raised after last weekend’s 70-lap event featured only three lead changes. Kyle Busch took the lead on the restart to begin the final 10-lap stage and went on to win. It marked the fourth time in the last five years the All-Star winner led every lap in the final stage. In 12 All-Star Races at Charlotte since the track was repaved, there have been two lead changes in the final five laps.

Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, was clear in a call with reporters Tuesday that the All-Star Race is set for Charlotte.

“We’ve finished our discussions for ’18,” he said. ” We’ll begin looking at ’19 and beyond in the near future.”

The All-Star Race debuted at Charlotte in 1985, moved to Atlanta in 1986 and returned to Charlotte the following year. It has been held at Charlotte ever since.

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