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Winning sportsmanship award distracted Carl Edwards from NASCAR’s championship weekend

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Carl Edwards was grateful to have a distraction over the weekend.

As NASCAR held its championship races, the former driver was in St. Louis on Saturday as one of the recipients of the Musial Awards from Maryville University. The award is named after the  Hall of Fame left fielder who played for the St. Louis Cardinals for 22 seasons.

Musial was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969.

The award ceremony, honoring “the year’s greatest moments of sportsmanship and the biggest names in sports for their class and character,” came a year after Edwards’ last start in a Cup car.

Edwards unexpectedly announced in January he would be stepping away from NASCAR.

Even though he was occasionally seen at the track early this year as a mentor to Daniel Suarez and for sponsor obligations, the 38-year-old said in an interview with STL Motorsport Magazine he hadn’t heard the siren call of auto racing until last week.

“Monday or Tuesday I woke up and thought, ‘Man, I’d like to be going to Homestead to battle for another championship,'” Edwards said. “This is the first time I’ve really thought it would be fun to be at the race track.”

What happened in his last race led to Edwards being recognized with the Musial Award.

On a restart with 10 laps to go, Edwards attempted to block Joey Logano, but wound up causing a wreck that included himself and eight other drivers and ended Edwards’ championship bid.

After exiting his car, Edwards walked from Turn 1 to Logano’s stall on pit road, where he shook the hand of Logano’s crew chief, Todd Gordon, and apologized.

STL Motorsport Magazine asked Edwards what his personal definition of sportsmanship was. Edwards used a story involving Jimmie Johnson from 2005 to explain his view.

“My definition of sportsmanship is someone who truly loves the game, truly loves the race. Win, lose or draw, that’s the result. But the actual event it what it’s about.

“Jimmie Johnson’s a perfect example. My first win … at Atlanta, I beat him by three feet for something, won the race. He was the first guy in Victory Lane high-fiving, dumping Gatorade on my head. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that’s probably why Jimmie Johnson has seven championships. He just loves the sport. He just loves to race. That’s sportsmanship to me.”

The Columbia, Missouri, native was asked if he would ever return to his roots in dirt racing.

Edwards said he has a “feeling” he’ll be back in a dirt car, while adding he may give Global Rally Cross a try.

“I love dirt racing,” Edwards said. “I miss it. Basically for me, I was riding my bicycle the other day and I was thinking. ‘I just about got this door closed in my mind. It’s shut.’ I’m just getting to where I can get up in the morning and not think about racing and kind of move on. But there will be a time where it’ll be real hard not to go up to Moberly (Randolph County Raceway in Moberly, Missouri) or come over here to Pevely (Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Missouri) or something and race a little bit. When that time comes it’ll be a lot of fun.

“I talk to Steve Arpin on and off about the Global Rally Cross cars. We’ve talked about doing a test with that.”

Front Row Motorsports adds Michael McDowell, expands technical alliance with Roush Fenway

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Front Row Motorsports will field entries for David Ragan and Michael McDowell in 2018 while expanding its technical alliance with Roush Fenway Racing, the team announced Thursday.

McDowell joins the Bob Jenkins-owned team after four years of driving the No. 95 Chevrolet for Leavine Family Racing before being replaced by Kasey Kahne.

The native of Phoenix, Arizona, replaces Landon Cassill as Ragan’s teammate.

McDowell, 32, has 249 Cup starts since 2008, but only two full-time seasons under his belt. He made one start for Front Row at Watkins Glen in 2013.

“Since I first drove for Bob at Watkins Glen, we’ve kept in touch and have felt like there might be an opportunity to work together again, and the timing worked out perfectly,” McDowell said in a press release. “It’s been a while since I’ve had a teammate, so I’m really looking forward to working with David, whom I’ve become pretty good friends with over the years. As a team now, we go into the season knowing we have five or six races that put us in position to get a win and earn a spot in the playoffs.”

Ragan returns to Front Row for his fifth season with the team. Ragan earned the organization its first Cup victory in 2013 at Talladega. Ragan has two wins, 15 top fives and 39 top-10 finishes in his Cup career.

“Bob Jenkins and I have developed a good relationship over the years, both professionally and personally,” Ragan said in a press release. “I believe in this team and am proud to have been part of its growth and its successes. I’m excited that Bob and Ford have agreed to take the program to the next level, and I’m happy I’ll be here to help the team continue to grow.”

Crew chief assignments have not been finalized. FRM will announce sponsor partners and driver car numbers at a later date.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s ‘Last Ride’ diecast is Lionel Racing’s bestselling ever

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. has set a new benchmark for Lionel Racing’s most purchased diecast in its 25-year history.

Lionel Racing, NASCAR’s official diecast producer, has announced that the diecast of Earnhardt’s “Last Ride” No. 88 Chevrolet in the Cup season finale last month is now its bestselling diecast in company history.

The “Last Ride” car is based on the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet that Earnhardt drove in his rookie Cup season in 2000.

The previous bestseller was another Earnhardt diecast, for his 2014 Daytona 500 win.

Lionel Racing says that QVC’s “For Race Fans Only” show that featured Earnhardt and unveiled the car helped contribute to sales. But even without QVC, sales of the “Last Ride” diecast outpaced the 2014 Daytona 500 diecast by more than 10,000 units.

“The demand for this car has been simply astounding,” Lionel Racing President Howard Hitchcock said on the company’s website. “The fan response to this diecast is a true measure of how much Earnhardt has meant to both casual NASCAR fans and serious diecast collectors.”

Lionel Racing has also revealed the top-10 selling diecasts for the year, which you can find below. Earnhardt has six cars on the list. Chase Elliott has two and Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney each have one.

Casey Mears likely to split 2018 between NASCAR, Global Rallycross and Stadium Super Trucks

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Casey Mears still plans to compete part-time in NASCAR in 2018, but he’s also looking to expand his racing horizons.

The veteran NASCAR driver told The Checkered Flag recently that he also expects to race in the Red Bull Global Rallycross series, as well as Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks series.

“Right now I’m talking to a few NASCAR programs to do maybe limited stuff,” Mears told The Checkered Flag. “I don’t have anything that would be a full-time ride in a NASCAR series.

“I’ve been speaking with Robby Gordon in the Stadium Super Truck program. I think that’s a really cool up-and-coming-series and I’d definitely like to be involved with the GRC. It looks like a lot of fun.

“I think there’s enough difference between all those that it could leave room for doing a bit of both so we’ll see how it works out.”

Mears did not race in the Cup Series in 2017, having lost his ride at the end of 2016 to Ty Dillon in the No. 13 Geico Chevy. He has amassed 488 starts and one win (2007 Coca-Cola 600) in his Cup career, along with 13 top fives and 51 top 10s.

However, he did compete on a part-time basis in 2017 in the Xfinity Series, making 14 starts, with season-best finishes of ninth place at both Richmond and Road America. He also has 107 Xfinity starts with one win, 16 top fives and 34 top 10s.

Make donation to Martinsville toy drive to take laps around track

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Have you ever dreamed of making a lap around the oldest track in NASCAR?

Today and tomorrow, Martinsville Speedway is making that dream come true.

With a toy or monetary donation for the Grace Network of Martinsville and Henry County, you can drive your own car around the half-mile track in Martinsville, Virginia.

A $10 donation gets you five laps and $20 gets you 10 laps.

The laps are being held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET today and Friday.