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After cancer diagnosis, NASCAR, IndyCar to honor John Andretti with #CheckIt4Andretti decals

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NASCAR and the Verizon IndyCar Series will both honor former driver John Andretti next weekend with decals that raise awareness about getting colonoscopies after the former driver was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer.

All cars in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 will have the decals, which are headed with the hashtag “CheckIt4Andretti.”

Andretti, 54, was the first driver to attempt “The Double” of competing in the Indianapolis 500 and Coke 600 in the same day.

Andretti was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Thursday for a press conference to update his cancer battle and discuss the importance of getting colonoscopies.

“I turned 50 several years ago, and every year I get a physical, and I go through and I understand what’s happening,” Andretti said. “One thing I was always lacking was a colonoscopy, and you would ask about it or whatever, and I’d forget about it. I never avoided it. It just didn’t happen.

“And unfortunately my wife has an issue that she has to go get them several times. And so she was in getting hers, and I decided to schedule mine. … But I was about three minutes away from walking out of the next doctor’s office because patience is not my strong suit. And so fortunately I didn’t, and immediately after the colonoscopy, they scheduled a surgeon. I was in surgery a few days later to have a tumor removed and another cancer spot. Unfortunately, the tumor had spread outside the colon.”

The initial surgery removed 12-14 inches of his colon and scans showed the cancer had spread to his liver and possibly his spleen. Doctors don’t know for sure because spleens can’t be biopsied.

Another surgery is scheduled and will take place halfway through his chemo treatments. Andretti will do chemo treatments in Indianapolis and North Carolina.

Dr. Paul Helft, Andretti’s oncologist in Indianapolis, said colon cancer affects 150,000 people a year, roughly 10 percent of all cancer patients in the United States.

“It’s been a struggle, but the people around me have made it really — you know, much easier, the prayers and everybody that’s reached out to me,” Andretti said.

A two-time Cup winner, Andretti said his cousin Michael Andretti and others underwent a colonoscopy after he told them he wouldn’t go public with is ailment unless they did.

“I figured I’d never get him to go so I would never have to go public with it, and two weeks later he’s doing it,” John Andretti said. “He fought a little bit, but he didn’t fight hard.”

The special decals are not the only way Andretti and his cause are being honored in the NASCAR world. This weekend, the No. 34 Ford of Landon Cassill will have #CheckIt4Andretti logos on it.

“John was the original driver of the No. 34 when Bob Jenkins first ran the car full-time in the Cup series, and he’s still a good friend of Bob’s and a friend of the team,” Cassill said in a press release. “We’re all thinking about him as he battles colon cancer, and we want to help spread his message. He’s been using his diagnosis as a platform to encourage everybody to go to the doctor and get checked, and we’re happy to help spread that message in his name.”

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NASCAR America 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Dale Earnhardt Jr. live from NASCAR Hall

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN from the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Our special guest for the entire hour is two-time Daytona 500 winner and 14-time Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Marty Snider hosts and will be joined by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Jeff Burton.

Among the topics on today’s show:

  • We’ll talk with Dale Jr. about his last Cup race at Talladega, the emotions he went through, starting from the pole for the first time there and ultimately finishing seventh.
  • How is Earnhardt approaching the final five races of his Cup career before retiring at season’s end, the JR Nation Appreci88ion campaign, his role with NBC Sports Group next season, as well as his Hall of Fame father, Dale Earnhardt and the Earnhardt legacy. Also, what does the future hold for him?
  • Speaking of the future, we’ll also congratulate the 26-time Cup race winner on soon becoming a father for the first time with wife Amy. What kind of father does Junior expect to be?
  • You can also send in your own questions for Dale Jr, who will answer them during the show! Just send them on social media with the hashtag #AskDaleJr

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

William Byron tops Xfinity playoff grid to start second round

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The second round of the Xfinity Series playoffs begins this weekend when the series heads to Kansas Speedway for the Kansas Lottery 300.

Following an elimination race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the series and the eight remaining playoff drivers are coming off an off week for the first time in months.

Those eight drivers are led by JR Motorsports’ William Byron, Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler. The three drivers have been at the top of the standings since the second race of the first round.

There was a minor adjustment after the Charlotte race. Matt Tifft was penalized 10 driver points for his car failing post-race inspection. But due to the reset in points, it had no bearing on his placement in the playoffs.

Tifft is eighth in the standings and trails Ryan Reed by one point. The bottom four drivers – Cole Custer, Brennan Poole, Reed and Tifft – are each separated by one point.

Here’s the full playoff grid.

Carl Edwards to receive Stan Musial Award for sportsmanship

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Former NASCAR Cup driver Carl Edwards is among one of more than a dozen individuals that will receive the prestigious 2017 Musial Award.

The annual ceremony will be held Nov. 18 at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis.

The Musial Awards – named after late St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial – “honor this year’s greatest moments of sportsmanship and the biggest names in sports for their class and character,” according to a media release.

Edwards will be honored for his actions in last year’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Here’s how the awards committee described what Edwards did that day:

Last November at Homestead—Miami Speedway, Edwards was among four drivers in contention for NASCAR’s Cup Series championship. He led the season finale race with 10 laps to go. But as he tried to block competitor Joey Logano from passing him on a restart, the two drivers crashed, ending Edwards’ shot for his first Cup Series title.

“Instead of losing his cool, as other athletes might have done, Edwards took the high road and showed pure class. He walked over to Logano’s pit crew, shook hands with crew chief Todd Gordon, and wished the team good luck. It was a gesture of extraordinary sportsmanship that was lauded throughout NASCAR.

“Based on the character he has shown throughout his career, it was not a surprise Edwards would take such a gracious approach. Winner of NASCAR’s Busch Series in 2011 and holder of 28 Cup Series wins, the Columbia, Mo., native’s success on the track is equaled by the class, respect and humility he has personified over time.”

Also, renowned track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee – considered by some as the greatest female athlete ever – will receive the Musial Lifetime Achievement Award, joining previous lifetime award winners Joe Torre (2014), Arnold Palmer (2015) and Cal Ripken Jr. (2016).

Other honorees include Arizona Cardinals (NFL) president Michael Bidwell, female boxer Aliyah Charbonier and LSU head baseball coach Paul Mainieri.

Preliminary entry lists for Kansas Speedway

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NASCAR’s top two series will be in action this weekend at Kansas Speedway as they hold two different stages of their playoff races.

The Cup Series has its second round elimination race with the Hollywood Casino 400. The Xfinity Series begins its second round with the Kansas Lottery 300 after an off week.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for both races:

Cup – Hollywood Casino 400

There are 41 cars entered into the race.

StarCom Racing is set to make its debut with Derrike Cope driving the No. 00 Chevrolet. Tony Furr will serve as Cope’s crew chief.

There are four cars without drivers attached to them yet: BK Racing’s No. 23 and No. 83 Toyotas, Premium Motorsports’ No. 15 Chevrolet and Rick Ware Racing’s No. 51 Chevrolet.

Gray Gaulding will driving Premium Motorsports’ No. 55 Chevrolet.

Martin Truex Jr. won the last visit to Kansas Speedway in May. He beat Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick after passing Ryan Blaney with 19 laps to go.

Harvick is the defending winner of the playoff race.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity – Kansas Lottery 300

There are 41 cars entered into the race.

Cup drivers entered into the race include Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney.

Christopher Bell will driver the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Kyle Busch is the defending winner of this race. He has won the last three Xfinity races at the track.

Click here for the entry list.