Billy Johnson

Aric Almirola cleared to race this weekend at New Hampshire

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Richard Petty Motorsports announced Wednesday that doctors have cleared Aric Almirola to race this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Almirola has been out since suffering a T5 compression fracture in a May 13 crash at Kansas Speedway. He was expected to be out eight to 12 weeks.

Almirola received approval after a test Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“It felt great to be back in the racecar yesterday,” Almirola said in a statement. “After racing in the Monster Energy Series for five and a half years, it got to be routine, and I took it for granted. When something gets taken away from you at a moment’s notice like that, it has certainly made me appreciate my passion for racing and my desire to compete at this level. The thrill of running 200 miles per hour in a stock car was something that I had honestly lost a little bit. After being out of the car for eight weeks, the passion is back, now more than ever.
“Physically, I felt great in the car and had no pain associated with the injury during (Tuesday’s) test. I’d like to sincerely thank all of the medical personnel that have helped me through this process, my family, my friends, my team and all the fans that supported me. I’m very grateful to Bubba (Wallace), Regan (Smith) and Billy (Johnson) for all of their efforts subbing for me both on and off the track. I’m excited to get back to racing against all my friends and peers in the Monster Energy Series.”

Regan Smith filled in for Almirola in the Monster Energy Open during All-Star weekend, the Coca-Cola 600 (finished 22nd) and Dover (34th). Darrell Wallace Jr. drove the car at Pocono (26th), Michigan (19th), Daytona (15th) and Kentucky (11th). Billy Johnson finished 22nd in the car at Sonoma.

Darrell Wallace Jr.: Time in No. 43 car has been ‘best month of my life’ (VIDEO)

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At one point in during Saturday’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, Darrell Wallace Jr. let his team know he was having fun.

“If this is my last one, it’s been a kick-ass time,” Wallace said over the radio.

With Richard Petty Motorsports scheduled to give an update on the condition of injured driver Aric Almirola on Wednesday, it’s possible Wallace made his final start in the team’s No. 43 Ford Saturday night.

It was his fourth race relieving Almirola, who suffered a T5 compression fracture in his back in a violent crash at Kansas Speedway on May 13.

If it was Wallace’s last start, he made it count. Though he was one-lap down, the 23-year-old driver posted his career-best finish of 11th. He placed ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick.

It bested Almirola’s best finish of 12th in five Kentucky starts.

Wallace took to Twitter Sunday morning, stating the last month had been the “best month of my life.”

Wallace’s first start in the No. 43 coincided with his potential last start of the year in the Xfinity Series. With no sponsorship backing in place, Wallace made his last scheduled start for Roush Fenway Racing in the No. 6 Ford at Pocono Raceway. The next day he became the first African-American driver to start in the Cup series in a decade.

He finished 26th after multiple speeding penalties. The next week at Michigan he placed 19th. After Billy Johnson drove the car at Sonoma, Wallace returned to the cockpit at Daytona, where he finished 15th. Late in the race, he briefly contended for the lead with Ryan Blaney, his friend who drives the No. 21 Ford for Wood Brothers Racing.

“We kept improving, each and every time on the race track, each and every race,” Wallace said Saturday after the Kentucky race. “We kept improving, I kept improving. I am getting more and more comfortable with these cars. It was a good run for our Smithfield Ford. We had a lot of fun tonight. … We fell back on that one restart. We were able to manage and maintain and work out some track position on that green-flag stop, and we were 14th and fired off right around there for the last restart and was able to hang on. It was a good day. I am having a great time in the Monster Energy Cup Series. Hopefully, there will be more.”

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Jimmie Johnson triumphs in Stage 2 at Sonoma for first stage win of season

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Jimmie Johnson led the final 11 laps to win Stage 2 of the NASCAR Cup Series event at Sonoma Raceway.

Despite having three race wins this season, it is Johnson’s first stage win.

With several cars pitting in the closing laps of the stage, the top 10 were Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott and Ryan Newman.

On the second green-flag lap of the stage, Danica Patrick wrecked in Turn 4 after contact beneath her car between Kyle Larson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt was forced into Patrick, who spun and was then hit by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., whose Ford was too damaged to continue.

It was the second wreck to include Earnhardt and Patrick.

On Lap 35, AJ Allmendinger spun in Turn 11, causing the field to bottleneck behind him. Allmendinger made contact with Clint Bowyer. Kyle Busch suffered damage to his grille in the bottleneck.

On Lap 39, the second caution of the stage was displayed for debris.

With six laps left in the stage, Daniel Suarez was spun by Billy Johnson in the No. 43 but continued on.

Three Cup teams penalized 15 minutes of practice

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NASCAR announced Friday that the teams of Ty Dillon, Kurt Busch and Erik Jones will miss the first 15 minutes of Cup practice today at Sonoma Raceway.

Each team is being penalized for multiple pre-race inspection failures last weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

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NASCAR’s preliminary entry lists for Sonoma, Iowa

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NASCAR heads back out west this week as the Cup Series gears up for its first road course race of the year at Sonoma Raceway, which marks the halfway point of the season.

Meanwhile, the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series go to Iowa Speedway for the first time this season.

Here’s the entry lists for all three races.

Cup – Toyota/Save Mart 350

There are 38 cars on the entry list and they include four drivers who are making their Cup debuts.

Richard Petty Motorsports announced that sports car driver Billy Johnson will drive the No. 43.

Israeli-born driver Alon Day will make his debut in the No. 23 Toyota for BK Racing. Tommy Regan will drive the No. 15 Toyota for Premium Motorsports. Josh Bilick will drive the No. 51 for Rick Ware Racing. He replaces Cody Ware who is out indefinitely with back issues.

Last year, Tony Stewart won his 49th and final Cup race after swapping the lead twice with Denny Hamlin on the last lap, including passing Hamlin in the final turn.

Click here for the full entry list.

Xfinity –  American Ethanol E15 

There are 41 cars on the entry list, meaning one car will not qualify for the race.

There are no Cup drivers entered into the event.

Sam Hornish Jr. is set to make his first start of the year in Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford.

Joe Gibb Racing will have Kyle Benjamin in its No. 18 Toyota and Christopher Bell in the No. 20.

Ben Kennedy will make his second start for Richard Childress Racing in the No. 2 Chevrolet.

Ty Majeski will make his Xfinity debut driving the No. 60 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing.

Last year, Hornish led 183 laps and won this race driving the No. 18 for JGR in his first NASCAR start of the year. Erik Jones won the August race.

Click here for the full entry list.

Truck – Iowa 200

There are 29 Trucks entered into the race. A full field would be 32 trucks.

The No. 52 truck of Stewart Friesen has withdrawn from the event.

Last year, William Byron won this race, his third of the year, after leading 107 laps.

Click here for the full entry list.

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