Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesn’t fight because everyone, including momma, is watching

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Everyone and their mother is talking about the post-race fight Sunday between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.

That’s exactly why you’ll never see Dale Earnhardt Jr. throw a punch, at least not in public.

“I would not have done the same thing,” Earnhardt said on the latest episode of the “Dale Jr. Download.” “I know, maybe more than Kyle, there’s a lot of cameras. There’s a lot of people watching. You’ve got social media. You’ve got people getting this content a whole bunch of different ways. If you go up and punch a guy in the face, that’s going to be on TV all week.”

The most noteworthy video of the fight came not from TV cameras, but from NASCAR journalist Jeff Gluck. The original video has been viewed on YouTube 1.8 million times as of Tuesday afternoon.

“You’re going to show up at the racetrack on Friday or Thursday next week and you’re going to be asked about it everyday,” Earnhardt continued. “This will probably go on for a couple of weeks. NASCAR will take this content and it will be on every show that they do, every commercial. So you’ll see it over and over and over. NASCAR will take this fight and use it as an advertisement. ‘You got to come out see what happens at the next race.’ They will wear it out.”

MORE: NASCAR on NBC podcast: Kyle Busch vs Joey Logano.

Earnhardt questioned whether Busch wants to be in the position of having to be constantly be asked by the media – and family – about the fight.

“Momma’s watching, you don’t want to upset your momma,” Earnhardt teased. “She’s just a phone call away.”

Earnhardt went on to share some stories of the “few altercations” he’s had in racing career.

“I’ve never been in a fight like that,” Earnhardt said. “I’m not trying to play out my stuff on the main stage.”

The Hendrick Motorsports driver told the story of him and crew chief Tony Eury Sr. getting into it with Tony Stewart‘s crew chief after some rough driving between the two at Pikes Peak International Raceway in the Xfinity Series in the late ’90s.

“We got called to the hauler after the race,” Earnhardt said. “Tony Sr., he’s really fiery, got a bad temper. He was very upset. Tony Stewart comes in there. Tony’s fine. I could tell from the moment he walked in he wasn’t going to be a problem. But his crew chief … this guy comes walking in and the minute the door opens I can hear this guy talking and yapping. And he’s talking about me being a daddy’s boy and riding my daddy’s coat tails. I went over to Tony Stewart to get to this guy and Tony Sr. went under Tony Stewart;s (arm) to get to the guy.

“I got a hold of the guy, grabbed his shirt, swung and as I swung, he came out of his shirt. It ripped off. Tony Stewart’s just kind of there, kind of tangled up in this unwittingly. Nobody punched anybody.”

Later, after a story about calling Todd Bodine “a cue-ball headed fool” and wielding a jack handle, Earnhardt recalled a story from his late-model days, which resulted in his co-host calling him the “Kyle Busch of Hickory Motor Speedway.”

“We had the entire grandstands at Hickory Motor Speedway pissed off at us one week,” Earnhardt said. “We started last in this race called the Bobby Isaac Memorial. We were running third with about 20 to 30 laps to go. I got black flagged for passing a lapped car under caution. The guy was waving me by, which was totally legit. I didn’t think it was fair. The guy who was my crew chief-owner, says ‘pull in, this is bulls—. We’re getting out.’ So I pull in with a few laps left in the race. The whole grandstand is booing me at me. … Hickory is little bit 50-50 for Earnhardts. There’s a lot of Jarrett fans up there.

“We had ripped our fender off in the race, so it’s in the pits now. My crew chief or one of my crew members throws the fender onto the track, so they’re red flagged at this moment. Cleaning up a wreck. We throw a fender on the track. More boos. I flipped the bird from the pits to the booth. I know the scorer because I changed his oil at Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet. It obviously now looks like I’m flipping off the fans. Now the boos are turning into objects, cans and bottles.

“The guy comes to the dealership like a week later to get his oil changed and me and him have words. That kind of led to my firing from the dealership.”

Listen to the rest of Earnhardt’s stories and the podcast here.

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Xfinity crew chief Chris Gabehart penalized $5,000 for loose lug nut at Indy

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NASCAR has issued one penalty resulting from last weekend’s races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Chris Gabehart, crew chief for the No. 20 Xfinity Series car of Joe Gibbs Racing, was fined $5,000 on Wednesday.

Gabehart was penalized for violating Sections 10.4 and 10.9 of the NASCAR Rule Book covering Tires and Wheels: Lug nut(s) not properly installed at the conclusion of the Lilly Diabetes 250.

There were no other penalties related to last weekend’s Xfinity or NASCAR Cup races in Indianapolis or the Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway.

Richard Childress Racing to announce plans for a third Cup team ‘at a later date’

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With Paul Menard and his family’s home improvement chain sponsorship on the move to Wood Brothers Racing for 2018, Richard Childress Racing has a major funding gap to address.

Menards has adorned the No. 27 Chevrolet for RCR for seven consecutive Cup seasons and is among the last full-season sponsors in NASCAR’s premier series. It assuredly is the most lucrative of RCR’s sponsorships.

Though the team is committed to fielding Chevys for Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon next season, the impending departure of Menard leaves questions about whether RCR will remain a three-car team in 2018.

In a statement Wednesday morning, team chairman and CEO Richard Childress said the team “will be announcing our plans for a third Cup team and our overall 2018 team lineup at a later date.”

Here’s the full statement from Childress:

Paul Menard and Menards, Inc. have had a partnership with RCR for seven years. Together, we have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, including Paul’s emotional win at Indianapolis in 2011. He is a very talented driver and a good friend. Everyone at RCR wishes both Paul and Menards nothing but the best in the future.

Our entire RCR organization is 100 percent focused on getting all three of our Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series programs in the playoffs this year, and bringing another Cup championship to RCR in 2017.

We will be announcing our plans for a third Cup team and our overall 2018 team lineup at a later date.

 

Paul Menard will move to the Wood Brothers for 2018 season

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Paul Menard will join Wood Brothers Racing next season, the team announced Wednesday. He will replace Ryan Blaney, who will move after this season to run a third Cup car for Team Penske.

Menards will sponsor the car in 22 races. Additional sponsorship, including plans for long-time partner Motorcraft/Quick Lane, will be announced later. The technical alliance between Team Penske and the Wood Brothers will continue.

“It’s fantastic to have the ability to continue to race in the highest level of motorsports full-time and something we look forward to doing with Paul for years to come,” said co-owner Eddie Wood in a statement. “I know this will allow us to continue to perform as an organization and will give Paul a great opportunity to go out there and compete for wins. Paul is not only a great driver with a lot of experience in the Cup Series, but he’s great with partners, which is a big part of what we do these days. We are looking forward to finishing out this season with Ryan (Blaney), going for more wins and maybe even a championship, and continuing that with Paul in 2018.”

Said Menard: “I’ve really enjoyed my time in NASCAR and as a Cup Series driver, but to get the chance to drive the iconic No. 21 for the Wood Brothers is the coolest thing I’ve ever got a chance to do. I’m looking forward to working with the team, working with Roush Yates, Ford Performance and Team Penske to see what we can do. Ryan (Blaney) has done a fantastic job and is a constant threat to run up front. Hopefully, we can do the same thing and keep the momentum going into 2018 and beyond.”

Also, Menard will run a handful of Xfinity races for Team Penske next year.

Menard had been with Richard Childress Racing since 2011, scoring his lone Cup victory — the 2011 Brickyard 400 — with the organization.

Menard’s best finish in the points with the organization was 14th in 2015. He is 23rd in the points with no wins, two top fives and three top-10 finishes this season.

The move marks the fourth organization the 36-year-old Menard has raced full-time for in his Cup career. He drove for Dale Earnhardt Inc. from 2007-08, Yates Racing from 2009-10 and Childress since.

Car owner Richard Childress issued a statement:

“Paul Menard and Menards, Inc. have had a partnership with RCR for seven years. Together, we have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, including Paul’s emotional win at Indianapolis in 2011. He is a very talented driver and a good friend. Everyone at RCR wishes both Paul and Menards nothing but the best in the future.
“Our entire RCR organization is 100 percent focused on getting all three of our Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series programs in the playoffs this year, and bringing another Cup championship to RCR in 2017.
“We will be announcing our plans for a third Cup team and our overall 2018 team lineup at a later date.”

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Ryan Blaney to join Team Penske in 2018

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Ryan Blaney will move to Team Penske and drive a third Cup car for that organization, the team announced Wednesday.

Blaney will drive the No. 12 Ford in 2018 and has signed a multi-year contract extension.

“For some time now, we have wanted to bring Ryan in to run a third car for us, but things just needed to make sense from a timing and business perspective,” said team owner Roger Penske.  “We have been working on making this a reality and 2018 is the right opportunity to make this move and return our organization to a three-car team. The benefits of having three full-time teams under our roof, along with the continued technical partnership with the Wood Bothers, will help us remain competitive in the ever-changing NASCAR landscape.”

MORE: Paul Menard to take over Wood Brothers ride in 2018

Blaney, who won at Pocono in June, is 12th in the standings. He has seven top-10 finishes in 20 starts this season.

“This is a huge opportunity for me and my career,” said Blaney, a third-generation driver from High Point, North Carolina, in a statement. “I’ve always enjoyed racing whatever car I was in and trying to win each and every race. I’ve had some great moments with both Team Penske and the Wood Brothers over the last few years. I know for a fact I wouldn’t be where I am today without Roger (Penske), Eddie and Len (Wood) and the opportunities their organizations have given me. I’m thrilled knowing that Brad (Keselowski) and Joey (Logano) are long-term teammates for me at Team Penske and Paul (Menard) will have input with our team now that he’s with the Wood Brothers organization. Hopefully we can go out there and win races and compete for championships year after year.”

The 23-year-old Blaney first signed with Team Penske in 2012. He has raced for Wood Brothers Racing, which is aligned with Team Penske, since 2015. He ran about half the 2015 season and has done the full season the past two years for the organization.

This marks the first time since 2010 that Team Penske has fielded three full-time entries. It did so that season with Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Sam Hornish Jr.

With adding a third car, Team Penske will need to acquire a charter for that car.

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