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Loose wheel stymies Dale Earnhardt Jr. late at Talladega

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Poised to make a run for the win and earn a playoff spot, Dale Earnhardt Jr. saw his hopes end because of a loose wheel in Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

He said after the race that the issue had been glue on the lug nuts but stated later on his Periscope Sunday night that he found out it was not a glue issue. He said the team would inspect the air gun Monday to see if it failed to secure the lug nuts. 

The problem led to Earnhardt’s car making contact with the wall and finishing 22nd.

Earnhardt was third on a restart with 15 laps to go. He struggled with the car throughout the race and felt something wasn’t right during the caution. Jamie McMurray pulled alongside Earnhardt’s car during the caution to check his tires. All were inflated.

Shortly after the restart, Earnhardt drifted high, hit the wall and fell back.

“Just unfortunate,’’ Earnhardt said on his Periscope. “It sucked.’’

After the race, he said there was only one lug nut securing the wheel.

“It was going to come off in the race,” he said. “It wouldn’t have made it to the end. That would have been pretty catastrophic.’’

That culminated a frustrating day for Earnhardt, who did not lead a lap despite starting on the front row.

“I was hoping we would have been able to rebound late,’’ he said. “We just didn’t get in the right lane. Our car wasn’t very good in the pack in traffic, it wasn’t very good at all. We didn’t run many laps inside the top five, the top 10 all day because the car didn’t have a lot of speed. We’ve just got to kind of work on that.

“The car runs great by itself. Out front, I’m sure it would be great. Any time we got a little bit close to the front, those guys around me were a little stronger.’’

In a race some viewed as one of the best chances for Earnhardt to win to earn a playoff spot, he failed to score a top-20 finish and fell one spot to 25th in the points standing. Sunday marked his sixth finish in 10 races outside the top 20.

“I don’t know what the heck we’ve got to do,” Earnhardt said on Periscope. “This luck has been awful. Not going to be in a very good mood for a couple of days.”

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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.