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Role model: Dale Earnhardt Jr. hopes to be as impactful as Benny Parsons out of car

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Although Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesn’t know what’s next for him after his Cup driving career ends this year, he looks for guidance from a NASCAR Hall of Famer.

Benny Parsons.

The 1973 champion made a significant impact on the sport as a broadcaster after his driving career ended. Parson’s friendly manner was a magnet for fans at the track and watching on TV.

Brad Keselowski called Parsons “one of the finest ambassadors in our sport’s history” when Parsons was inducted into the Hall of Fame in January.

Parson’s legacy remains with Earnhardt as he looks ahead to life beyond racing in NASCAR.

One of the people that I really respected a lot was Benny Parsons,’’ Earnhardt said Friday at Richmond International Raceway. “I thought that he left as important of a mark outside the car as he did inside the car. Whatever mark I can leave, I would love to be able to be as big an asset to the sport as I can be beyond driving.

“It’s up to everyone else as to how big an asset I was up to this point, but I’d love to still be helpful and do whatever I can to help the sport. I love being around it and being a part of it and I love racing. I love watching racing. We’ve got a lot of things to be excited about. There’s a lot of young talent pouring in and they’re going to be fun to watch.”

Might his role include having an impact on who will drive the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports after this season?

“I would love to have a lot,’’ he said. “In my position, I’m paid to drive Rick’s (Hendrick) car. If he wants something else from me, I’m going to wait for him to ask for it. 

“I wouldn’t ever go in there and go ‘Man, this is what you guys have got to do.’  With (Doug) Duchardt (General Manager, Hendrick Motorsports) and all the folks that they have working there they all probably… I can’t read their minds, but I’m sure they all have a direction that they want to go and they have ideas. 

“There are just things about the company that I’m not quite as in touch with that they are that will help them make that decision. They probably have everybody in the world telling them what they ought to do and they don’t need me, but if they ask for it I’m certainly wanting to be involved in that. I want the team to have more success.

“I want them to have a driver that I feel is plenty capable because I want to see those guys win races because they are my brothers, and I also love it when Rick is happy and he likes to win.’’

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Today’s Xfinity race at Charlotte: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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After two weekends off, the Xfinity Series is back in action today at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Elliott Sadler enters as the points leader with a 29-point advantage on JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier. William Byron, who also drives for JR. Motorsports, is third in the standings. Byron and Sadler are going for their first victory of the season, while Allgaier seeks his second win this year.

Here are the particulars for today’s Xfinity race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The Evil Genius’ Halo ESports Team will give the command for drivers to start engines at 1:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 1:18 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 45. Stage 2 ends on Lap 90.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Xfinity garage opens at 6:30 a.m. The drivers meeting is at 11:15 a.m. Driver introductions are at 12:30 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Star Swain will perform the Anthem at 1:01 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race at 1 p.m. Its coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at gorpn.com. PRN’s coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 85 degrees at race time with a 15 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Denny Hamlin led 76 laps to win this even a year ago. Austin Dillon was second and Joey Logano third. Logano led the final 12 laps to win at Charlotte in October. Elliott Sadler was second and Daniel Suarez was third.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying is at 10:05 a.m.

Today’s schedule at Charlotte: Cup practice, Xfinity qualifying and race

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NASCAR goes racing today with the Hisense 4K TV 300 Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Denny Hamlin won this race last year.

Here is today’s track schedule, as the countdown to Sunday’s main event of the weekend, the Coca-Cola 600, ticks closer:

(All times Eastern)

6:30 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Cup garage open

9 – 9:55 a.m. – Cup practice (FS1)

10:05 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying (multi-vehicle, three rounds) (FS1)

11:15 a.m. – Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

11:30 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. – Cup final practice (FS1)

12:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

1 p.m. – Xfinity Hisense 4K TV 300 (200 laps, 300 miles) (FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

My Home Track: North Carolina’s Caraway Speedway (video)

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Sure, NASCAR is synonymous with Daytona Beach, the state of Florida and Daytona International Speedway.

But there is no other state that is so linked to NASCAR than the Tar Heel state, North Carolina.

Numerous racetracks, from the smallest grassroots short track to Charlotte Motor Speedway dot the state, offering a plethora of race action from amateur all the way to the best of the best.

On Friday’s My Home Track: 50 States in 50 Shows segment, NASCAR America’s Kyle Petty shared some of his fondest memories of one of his favorite short tracks, Caraway Speedway.

Check out the video above.

NASCAR America: Steve Letarte reflects on mentor Ray Evernham’s Hall of Fame selection

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Steve Letarte learned the sport of NASCAR from a number of different individuals.

But no one compares to Letarte’s greatest mentor, Ray Evernham, who was selected earlier this week as one of five individuals that will enter the NASCAR Hall of Fame in its 2018 class.

Evernham, who led Jeff Gordon to three of his four NASCAR Cup championships as Gordon’s crew chief, was not only an innovator in the sport, but also a leader, mentor and team owner.

On Friday’s NASCAR America, Letarte, an Evernham protege, discussed what made his former boss, teacher and close friend so special.  Check out the video above.