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Michael Waltrip finds family he befriended hours before Las Vegas tragedy (UPDATE)

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Michael Waltrip joined in the chorus of voices from the NASCAR community in sending out thoughts and prayers to the victims of Sunday night’s horrific tragedy in Las Vegas.

But Waltrip’s thoughts and written words were much more poignant and hit home a lot more because he had originally planned on attending the Route 91 concert’s final night, a show that featured country music stars Big and Rich, Jake Owen and the main headliner, Jason Aldean — who was onstage when the shooting began.

Waltrip decided to skip the concert and went to bed early in his Las Vegas hotel, not far from the Mandalay Bay, only to be awoken by a phone call from his frantic daughter, checking to make sure he was okay after news of the shooting broke.

Still in Las Vegas, Waltrip took to Instagram Monday afternoon to recall a chance meeting with a fan and father Sunday morning who sought a photo of Waltrip with his family, as they were in Las Vegas and planned to attend that evening’s concert to celebrate his daughter’s 21st birthday.

Waltrip had been in Las Vegas for the Fox Sports 1 telecast of the Camping World Truck Series race Saturday night. Now he’s wondering if the father, daughter and the rest of the family he met earlier in the day are okay.

Tuesday, Waltrip provided an update:

Read Waltrip’s touching and heartfelt Instagram post:

Yesterday morning in Las Vegas, at the MGM, I met a man who was a fan. He asked me if it was ok if his daughter took a photo of us. They were in Vegas celebrating her 21st birthday. The whole family was in town, wife and sister too. Daughter was happy and excited to be headed to the concert. Route 91 was the reason she chose Vegas for her 21st. As they walked off I smiled and I was a bit sad too. My daughter Macy turned 20 just a couple days before and I couldn‚Äôt be with her. His daddy daughter time made me a bit envious. At 4:45 this morning I was awaken by my phone ringing. It was Macy. ‚ÄėAre you ok dad?‚Äô She asked. I was. I didn‚Äôt attend the concert as I had planned to. I called it an early night. After we shared our ‚ÄėI love yous‚Äô and hung up the phone the first thing I thought of was the dad I met with his daughter. I prayed they were ok. I have no way of knowing if they are safe or not. I can‚Äôt stop thinking about them. So much joy, such beautiful family time and then….. This is my personal story to the unthinkable attack last night. I know there are many more who are hurting. I pray for everyone. To the first responders that helped save lives and comfort the hurting, thank you. Your courage and commitment is amazing. I appreciate each and everyone of you. My heart hurts for all who were effected by the horrific tragedy. I pray for everyone involved. Fortunately, friends that I know who were there are all physically ok. The emotional scars will likely never heal. To the father I met who was doing what every dad dreams of, being with his girl celebrating a significant moment I will do all I can, pray.

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Kurt Busch re-signs with Stewart-Haas Racing

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Kurt Busch has re-signed with Steward-Haas Racing, putting him back in the No. 41 Ford for the 2018 Cup season.

The winner of the 2017 Daytona 500 confirmed his re-signing in a statement.

Motorsport.com has reported Busch signed a one-year deal.

Busch, 39, will continue to be sponsored by Monster Energy as he enters his fifth season with SHR. Monster Energy is also the entitlement sponsor of the Cup Series.

‚ÄúHaving my hard work pay off by winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and the 2017 Daytona 500 has given me the drive to continue conquering the NASCAR world,‚ÄĚ Busch said. ‚ÄúI am excited to enter the 2018 racing season as a Monster Energy athlete where I will continue to drive my favorite manufacturer, the Ford Motor Company. Knowing that SHR is committed to optimum performance, I believe that I have everything I need to win races this season and take home the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup. I look forward to taking on next year with my team, sponsors and determination.‚ÄĚ

Busch completes SHR’s 2018 Cup driver lineup with Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and newcomer Aric Almirola.

SHR announced over the summer that Busch’s original contract option would not be picked up.

The 2004 Cup champion will enter his 18th full-time season in the Cup Series.

He made the playoffs in 2017 with his Daytona 500 win, but was eliminated after the first round. He finished the season with six top fives and 15 top 10s. In his four seasons with SHR, Busch has five wins.

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Richard Childress Racing, Caterpillar extend relationship

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Richard Childress Racing announced Tuesday it has extended its partnership with Caterpillar Inc., which will continue to sponsor Ryan Newman‘s No. 31 Chevrolet in select races in 2018.

Caterpillar was the primary sponsor on the No. 31 in 20 races last season.

Caterpillar has been a sponsor of Cup teams since 1997 and partnered with RCR in 2009. Newman has been sponsored by the company since joining RCR in 2014.

“I am happy to announce the continuation of our partnership with Caterpillar and the No. 31 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series,”¬† Richard Childress said in a press release. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet and interact with so many Cat dealers, customers and equipment operators through the past nine years. They are passionate about both racing and their Cat equipment, and I share their passion for both. I have used Cat equipment for many years and there is no better heavy machinery on the market. We’ve enjoyed our long-term association with Caterpillar, and helped them sell a lot of equipment over the years. I’m proud to represent the Cat brand.”

Newman is coming off a season where he earned one win (Phoenix I), his first since 2013 and first with RCR. Newman qualified for the playoffs. He was eliminated after the first round and finished the season in 16th.

The 2018 season will be Newman’s 17th full-time year in Cup.

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John Hunter Nemechek to race part-time for Chip Ganassi Racing in Xfinity Series

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John Hunter Nemechek, the son of former Cup driver Joe Nemechek, will join Chip Ganassi Racing in 2018 to compete part-time in the Xfinity Series, the team announced Tuesday.

At 20-year-old driver will pilot the No. 42 Chevrolet in multiple races, sharing the ride with Kyle Larson. Fire Alarm Services, which sponsored Nemechek in the Truck Series, will move up to Xfinity with him.

The No. 42 has significant meaning to the Nemechek family. Joe Nemechek earned his first of four Cup wins driving the No. 42 for Felix Sabates in 1999 at New Hampshire. He drove for Sabates from 1997-99.

Sabates is a co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing.

John Hunter Nemechek spent the last two years full-time in the Camping World Truck Series driving the No. 8 Chevrolet for his family-owned team, NEMCO Motorsports. He has 76 starts in the series since 2013 and five wins, two coming in each of the last two seasons.

‚ÄúI couldn‚Äôt be more excited to join Chip Ganassi Racing,” Nemechek said in a press release. “I feel like their cars and organization were the talk of the garage in 2017 and I hope to play a part in continuing their run of success in 2018 and beyond. Also, Fire Alarm Services has been a supporter of my career since 2016 at our family-owned team, and I am looking forward to continuing that partnership at Chip Ganassi Racing. I am extremely grateful to Shannon and Connie Smith, owners of Fire Alarm Services, Inc. I also want to thank my father for all that he has done to help grow my passion for racing.‚ÄĚ

Nemechek will work with veteran crew chief Mike Shiplett, who has led the No. 42 team for the last four seasons.

Nemechek announced he’d be making a¬†career change with a video posted to Twitter on Dec. 5.

NEMCO Motorsports made clear on Twitter that it is not closing its doors.

Larson, Tyler Reddick and Alex Bowman split time in the No. 42 in 2017 and combined to earn five wins.

The No. 42 will be the only full-time entry for Ganassi in the Xfinity Series in 2018. It fielded the No. 48 for Brennan Poole the last two seasons. No announcements have been made about Poole’s future.

‚ÄúWe are happy to have John Hunter join our organization and also announce the relationship with Fire Alarm Services,” Chip Ganassi said in a press release. “We had a very successful 2017 with our Xfinity program and look to improve upon that.¬† We feel that John Hunter has the talent to be a future star in the sport and can‚Äôt wait to get him behind the wheel.‚ÄĚ

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NASCAR announces 2018 Xfinity Series start times, TV schedule

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NASCAR has revealed the start times and TV broadcast plan for the Xfinity Series in 2018.

The season opens Feb. 17 at Daytona International Speedway. The race is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

The NBC portion of the schedule begins June 30 at Chicagoland Speedway with a 3:30 p.m. ET broadcast on NBCSN.

Both races at Richmond Raceway are night events. The April 20 race begins at 7 p.m. ET. The Sept. 21 race begins at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The June race at Iowa Speedway is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 17 on FS1.

The road course race at Road America is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25 on NBCSN. The race was run on Sunday in 2017.

See the entire schedule below.

All times are Eastern

Date Location Network Start time
Sat, Feb 17, 2018  Daytona FS1 2:30 PM
Sat, Feb 24, 2018  Atlanta FS1 2:00 PM
Sat, Mar 03, 2018  Las Vegas FS1 4:00 PM
Sat, Mar 10, 2018  Phoenix FOX 4:00 PM
Sat, Mar 17, 2018  California FS1 5:00 PM
Sun, Apr 01, 2018  Off week РEaster
Sat, Apr 07, 2018  Texas FOX 3:00 PM
Sat, Apr 14, 2018  Bristol FS1 1:00 PM
Fri, Apr 20, 2018  Richmond FS1 7:00 PM
Sat, Apr 28, 2018  Talladega FOX 3:00 PM
Sat, May 05, 2018  Dover FS1 1:30 PM
Sat, May 26, 2018  Charlotte FS1 1:00 PM
Sat, Jun 02, 2018  Pocono FS1 1:00 PM
Sat, Jun 09, 2018  Michigan FOX 1:30 PM
Sun, Jun 17, 2018  Iowa FS1 5:00 PM
Sat, Jun 30, 2018  Chicagoland NBCSN 3:30 PM
Fri, Jul 06, 2018  Daytona NBCSN 7:30 PM
Fri, Jul 13, 2018  Kentucky NBCSN 8:00 PM
Sat, Jul 21, 2018  New Hampshire NBCSN 4:00 PM
Sat, Jul 28, 2018  Iowa NBCSN 3:30 PM
Sat, Aug 04, 2018  Watkins Glen NBC 3:30 PM
Sat, Aug 11, 2018 ¬†Mid‚ÄźOhio NBCSN 3:00 PM
Fri, Aug 17, 2018  Bristol NBCSN 7:30 PM
Sat, Aug 25, 2018  Road America NBCSN 3:00 PM
Sat, Sep 01, 2018  Darlington NBC 3:30 PM
Sat, Sep 08, 2018  Indianapolis NBCSN 4:00 PM
Sat, Sep 15, 2018  Las Vegas NBCSN 5:00 PM
Fri, Sep 21, 2018  Richmond NBCSN 7:30 PM
Sat, Sep 29, 2018  Charlotte NBCSN 3:00 PM
Sat, Oct 06, 2018  Dover NBCSN 3:00 PM
Sat, Oct 20, 2018  Kansas NBCSN 2:30 PM
Sat, Nov 03, 2018  Texas NBC 3:30 PM
Sat, Nov 10, 2018  Phoenix NBC 3:30 PM
Sat, Nov 17, 2018  Homestead-Miami NBCSN 3:30 PM