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Chase Elliott takes Stage 2 of NASCAR Cup playoff race at Chicagoland

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JOLIET, Illinois – Chase Elliott captured Stage 2 of Sunday’s Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

It was Elliott’s third stage win of the season as he hopes to turn that into his first career NASCAR Cup win.

After 160 laps, Elliott leads Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray.

Harvick, who finished behind Kyle Busch at the end of Stage 1, took the lead away from Busch on Lap 88.

During the pit stop following Stage 1, No. 1 seed Martin Truex Jr. had to return to pit road to have his crew tighten two loose lug nuts before Stage 2 began.

Kyle Busch made an unexpected pit stop on Lap 98 for a loose wheel. To add insult to injury, he and his team were penalized for a pit crew member over the wall too early.

That led to a pass-through penalty that put Busch two laps down, being scored 30th on Lap 103.

Just before Busch came down pit road, NASCAR officials brought four tires of the No. 18 team to be examined, but officials said it was standard operating procedure.

There was no immediate word of any penalty or violation, but it was an indication of how NASCAR has been increasingly cracking down in recent weeks.

By Lap 116, Busch was back up to 26th position and had gained back one of the laps he lost, now just one lap down to the leaders.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who scraped the wall in Stage 1, was still unable to recover. By Lap 120, Stenhouse was the last of the 16 playoff drivers, scored in 28th position, still two laps down.

Elliott beat Harvick off pit road following service to both cars to take the lead on Lap 125.

Ten laps later, Truex battled his way back to fifth place.

By Lap 153, Truex had climbed back to third, Kyle Busch to 16th (one lap down) and Stenhouse had fallen to 31st (three laps down).

Cole Pearn to honor late friend with fundraiser for family next month in Toronto

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A testimonial to Cole Pearn’s best friend, who unexpectedly passed away in early August, as well as a fundraiser for his family will be held Friday, Jan. 5, at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Pearn’s lifelong friend, Jacob Damen, died unexpectedly after contracting a fast-moving bacterial infection on August 3.

Pearn, crew chief for the 2017 NASCAR Cup championship for Furniture Row Racing, will oversee the gala event, which will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. ET.

The evening will also include an appearance by 2017 NASCAR Cup champion Martin Truex Jr., silent and live auctions, the opportunity to meet both Pearn and Truex and other events.

All net proceeds from the evening will be given to the Damen Family Fund.

“We miss our buddy Jacob dearly,” Pearn said in a media release. “We all have family and friends that fill a space in our hearts that is irreplaceable.

“Jacob filled the hearts of his wife Carolyn, his sons Lucas and Nolan, his parents Jerry and Kim Damen, twin brother Tyler, sister Julia and countless friends.

“We are going to celebrate his life at the perfect spot, the Hockey Hall of Fame, to support his beautiful wife Carolyn and the two boys, Lucas and Nolan. I can’t wait to get home to celebrate with everyone.”

Click here for more details and to purchase tickets to the ‘Jacob Damen Friend and Fan Remembered’ event.

NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day scheduled for Jan. 20

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The annual NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day will return to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, next month.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 20, the day after the 2018 Hall of Fame class is inducted.

Fans will be able to take part in an autograph session with current national series drivers, Hall of Famers and members of the NASCAR Next class, as well photo opportunities and question-and-answer sessions with a number of NASCAR legends.

Admission to Hall of Fame will be free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis

Admission to driver autograph sessions is free but will require a ticket for participation. Fans can register for the driver autograph sessions at nascarhall.com beginning Saturday, Jan. 13 at 10 a.m. ET. A full driver autograph session schedule will be announced at a later date.

 and on Facebook

Ryan Blaney to guest star on NBC’s ‘Taken’ next year

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Ryan Blaney has a particular set of skills; skills that he’s developed through years of professional auto racing.

The Team Penske driver will get to display those skills next year on NBC’s “Taken” TV Series.

The show serves as a prequel to the 2008 Liam Neeson film of the same name.

Blaney, 23, will guest start on the second season of the series, which premieres Jan. 12. He will appear in an episode titled “Imperium” as a special agent who knows his way around a car.

Here’s the plot synopsis for the episode.

“When a dangerous weapons dealer smuggles his wares into New York City, Bryan Mills (Clive Standen) teams up with the FBI in a race to stop him before he reaches the safety of international waters.”

This won’t be Blaney’s first time in front of a camera playing someone else. He had two movie cameos this year in Logan Lucky and Cars 3.

Blaney was filming his role in “Taken” on Tuesday in Ontario. See his tweets from the set below.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram update: Leaves ICU, moves to acute care facility

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram’s condition continues to improve following a serious car crash in his native Asheville, North Carolina on Dec. 3.

According to an online post by his daughter, Ingram was taken out of Intensive Care on Tuesday and moved into an Acute Care facility, which is not as serious as ICU is.

Ingram did suffer a small setback in his recovery, developing a slight infection that is being treated with antibiotics.

Added the note from Ingrid Jones, Jack’s daughter, “The acute care facility will work to start decreasing his pain meds, over time, and put him on less narcotics and more simple analgesics (like really strong Tylenol, but without narcotics).

“Also they will continue his therapies, physical and occupational, as he’s able. It is still hard to know what his long-term health future will be, but we think his color looks really good, and we have no doubts that he has the will and determination to see this through.

“So if it is humanly possible for him to overcome, he will.”

We’ll continue to have periodic updates on Ingram’s condition as they become available.