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Robert Yates on cancer fight: ‘One day I’m beating it, the next day I’m not beating it’

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KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — Robert Yates said he was told by a doctor last week to gather his family and make plans for hospice because “you’re done in four weeks.” 

Four hours later, Yates’ future looked much better.

Another doctor told Yates, who is battling liver cancer, that the terminal diagnosis was wrong.

“I need both doctors, but I need a little cheerleading, too,’’ said the 74-year-old former team owner who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January.

Monday was a good day for Yates, who was at Stewart-Haas Racing to see Danica Patrick’s throwback paint scheme for next month’s Southern 500. The car Patrick will drive mirrors the No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit red, white and blue Ford that Yates owned in the mid 1990s and the scheme on Dale Jarrett’s car in his 1999 championship season.

He also was presented a Daytona 500 ring by Stewart-Haas Racing. Kurt Busch‘s Ford was powered by Roush Yates Engines, which his son, Doug, operates.

“I’ve got a lot to be thankful for,’’ Yates said.

While his battle with liver cancer has cost him weight, it has not diminished his desire to remain active.

“If I get up and get out of the house and go to the farm and get on a tractor or lawnmower or bulldozer or something, I can stay on that all day long,’’ Yates said. “Sitting on it, pushing dirt and trees, I love it. I go home that night and sleep better. Sitting in a chair promotes sitting in a chair. I sat in the chair too much last week.’’

Yates first underwent treatment on Oct. 31, 2016. He has gone through chemotherapy and also experimental treatments.

“I told somebody a good while back that it is easier to win the Daytona 500 than to beat this stuff,’’ said Yates, who won two Daytona 500s with Jarrett and one with Davey Allison. “One day I’m beating it, the next day I’m not beating it.’’

The misdiagnosis last week came because Yates said a scan was measured incorrectly. He was originally told his cancer had grown 36 percent. The review of that scan showed that was incorrect.

Yates, who won 57 races as a team owner in NASCAR’s top series, remains feisty.

After one doctor told Yates about hospice over a number of visits, Yates responded: “I remember really well. You told me 10 times about hospice. … I know exactly who they are and what they do. Do not talk to me about hospice anymore.’’

That same attitude is evident in how he faces his illness.

“I’m going to fight it,’’ he said. “I plan to beat this if God is willing.’’

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Kyle Larson wins Stage 1 at Miami, Brad Keselowski leads Championship 4 drivers

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Kyle Larson won Stage 1 of Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, dominating by leading 67 of the stage’s 80 laps, holding a nine-second edge when he took the checkered flag.

Meanwhile, here’s how the four Championship 4 drivers finished after the first 80 laps of the scheduled 267-lap event: Brad Keselowski is second, Kyle Busch is third, Kevin Harvick is fourth and Martin Truex Jr. in fifth.

Truex, with six of his seven wins this season coming on 1.5-mile tracks like Homestead-Miami, wasted little time to take the lead away from pole-sitter Denny Hamlin.

The first caution of the race came out on Lap 6 when Joey Gase appeared to blow a tire and hit the Turn 1 wall hard.

During the subsequent pit stop, the only Championship 4 driver to hit pit road for four new tires was Keselowski, putting him off-sequence of the other contenders.

The move worked, though, as Keselowski quickly climbed from ninth on the restart on Lap 9 to third by Lap 12 and second by Lap 14.

Larson, who also pitted with Keselowski, took the lead away from Truex on Lap 13 and held on for the remaining 67 laps of the stage.

On Lap 38, Jimmie Johnson blew a right rear tire and came to pit road for four new tires. Even though there was no caution, all four championship contenders pitted over the following two laps.

On Lap 58, Harvick passed Truex and into third place for the first time in the race, zeroing on Keselowski in second.

Johnson got into the wall again on Lap 60, even though there was no caution, and sustained moderate damage, pitting for four tires and fuel.

Kyle Busch passed Harvick to take over third on Lap 77.

Sixth through 10th were Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Hamlin, Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer.

Watch: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s fans on what the driver means to them

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The fan base of Dale Earnhardt Jr. is large and devoted.

Those fans, affectionately called “Junior Nation,” has voted Earnhardt as NASCAR’s most popular driver 14 years in a row.

Justin Hartley of NBC’s “This is Us” is a member of Earnhardt’s fan base. The actor narrates the above essay on the close relationship between the driver and his fans.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks to Bob Costas about his career, legacy before final Cup start

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Sunday marks Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s last start as a full-time Cup driver in NASCAR.

NBC Sports’ Bob Costas sat down with the 14-time most popular driver before the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to get Earnhardt’s thoughts before he climbed in the No. 88 Chevrolet for the last time.

Earnhardt addressed what he hopes his legacy will be after 20 years in the sport as a driver, including his impact on attitudes towards concussions in sports in general.

Earnhardt, who will join NBC Sports in 2018, also talked about what life has in store for him in the near future.

Earnhardt also made sure to credit his devoted fan base for making his career possible.

“I understand the driving force behind my success and opportunity in this sport, whether it be inside the car or outside the car, is all because of Jr. Nation,” Earnhardt said. “This year we’ve tried our best to show appreciation to them.”

Watch the above video for the full interview.

 

Furniture Row Racing going for Cup title after year of success, tragedy

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It’s been a historic year for Furniture Row Racing, the Cup team that has its base of operations in an old water bed factory in Denver, Colorado.

With Martin Truex Jr. piloting the No. 78 Toyota, they won a team record seven races and a series record six races on 1.5-mile tracks. Combined with a dominating performance under the new stage racing format, Truex has put the team in its second Championship 4 in three years.

But it’s also been a season of perseverance and tragedy.

NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan narrates the above video essay on the story of Furniture Row Racing’s 2017 season.