Jennifer Jo Cobb

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Friday 5: How soon until the next female driver arrives in Cup?

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Danica Patrick’s departure after the Daytona 500 (provided she secures a ride for that race) will leave NASCAR without a female driver in its top series.

It could be years before the next female driver arrives in Cup.

Only two of the 114 drivers who attempted to qualify for an Xfinity race last year were female — Angela Ruch ran four races and Jennifer Jo Cob ran one. Cobb was the only female driver among 103 who attempted to qualify for a Camping World Truck Series race last season.

The last four NASCAR Next classes — which spotlights talented young competitors — featured four female drivers among the 44 racers selected. Those female drivers chosen: Kenzie Ruston (2014-15 class), Nicole Behar (2015-16), Julia Landauer (2016-17) and Hailie Deegan (2017-18).

The 16-year-old Deegan will run the K&N West Pro Series schedule for Bill MacAnally Racing, which has won the past three K&N West titles.

Landauer finished seventh in the points last year in the K&N West Series (after placing fourth in 2016) and Behar was eighth in her second full-time season in that series.

In ARCA, Natalie Decker will run the full season with Venturini Motorsports. She stands to become the fifth female in modern-day ARCA history to compete for a driver’s title, joining Shawna Robinson (2000), Christi Passmore (2003-04), Milka Duno (2013) and Sarah Cornett-Ching (2015).

Former champion crew chief Ray Evernham understands the challenges female drivers face. His wife, Erin, competed in 10 Xfinity races from 2005-06 and 29 Camping World Truck races between 2005-08.

“I think that we’ve got to keep providing opportunities for girls to get that experience,’’ said Evernham, who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Jan. 19.

“Now with the technology of the cars, the way they’re doing the setups, things like that, it will make it a little bit easier for newer people to come in. But we’ve just got to continue to provide an opportunity or a path for ladies to get experience.

Just as important will be how well they’ll handle the scrutiny.

“I know it stinks that so many people are so critical of lady drivers, much more critical than they are of a male driver of the same performance,’’ Evernham said. “Each time one of those girls weathers that storm, gets a little bit further down the road, gets some credibility, it gets a lady closer to Victory Lane in NASCAR.’’

NASCAR lists 16 women who have competed in at least one Cup race from Louise Smith, Sara Christian and Ethel Mobley in 1949 to Patrick. Patrick’s 190 career Cup starts are more than the other 15 women combined. Janet Guthrie was next with 33 starts between 1976-80 and followed by Smith with 11 starts from 1949-52 and Robinson, who had eight starts from 2001-02.

Patrick and Robinson are the only females to run a Cup race since 1990.

NASCAR lists 22 females having competed in the Xfinity Series. Patty Moise started 133 races, more than any other driver.  Patrick and Robinson are next with 61 starts each, followed by Johanna Long (42 starts) and Jennifer Jo Cobb (29 starts).

2. “The Great American Race”

The phrase has long been used as the nickname for the Daytona 500, but where did it originate?

Australia.

True story.

Let Ken Squier, who will be among the five men inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Jan. 19, explain how he came up with the phrase for the race.

“Well, (Bill) France Sr. had me (in Daytona) from the ’60s.  Daytona always stood out separately, individually, for one thing, the time of year, because most race tracks in America were closed. 

“It was the gathering of the tribes in Daytona Beach, which went all the way back to the turn of the century, when Henry Ford, the Chevrolet brothers, all of that tribe went down there.  They raced down that hard‑packed beach. That never stopped.  One way or another, they continued to go down there in the month of February and toast a few of their friends from the past and turn some wheels.

“That spirit of Daytona is more prevalent than any other when you talk about tracks and parts of the country. In my mind, it needed something that set it aside. Indianapolis was always the greatest spectacle in sports. Indeed, it was.

“But what was Daytona? Well, it was All‑American stock cars in those days, and pretty much the neighbors sounded like your neighbors, particularly if you came from a small town. What would come to mind? I fooled around with that for a long time.

“I was in Australia doing a show. They had a great race over there. It was a long one, it was a dinger, and it was a national holiday. On the way home, I thought, God, that’s what Daytona is. It’s ‘The Great American Race.’

“I got chewed up pretty good about that. Hadn’t I ever heard of Indy? I sure as the dickens had. This was coming from a different place. Sure enough in 1959, when those three cars came across wheel‑to‑wheel at the end of 500 miles, that was The Great American Race.’’

3. Revamped pit stops

Martin Truex Jr. was asked this week about his thoughts on the changes to pit road with five people going over the wall to service the car instead of six this season.

Truex had an interesting take on what pit crew position might grow in importance with the change.

“I think there’s a lot of question marks from all teams, and I know there’s a lot of talk throughout teams and in the industry of how much different it is,’’ he said during a break in the Goodyear tire test at Texas Motor Speedway. “Everybody is going to think they have a handle on it and then somebody is going to do it different on pit road and whip everybody’s butt in Daytona, so then you’re going to have to re-learn everything and try and figure it out.

“From what I understand, it’s been really difficult. A lot of the weight falls on the jackman as far as making the stops go fast and when all that pressure gets put on one position it makes that one position really important and really different than it’s been in the past.’’

4. Las Vegas test

NASCAR has an organizational test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. That means that one team per organization is permitted at the test.

Among those scheduled to test are William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports), Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing), Brad Keselowski (Team Penske), Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing) and Erik Jones (Joe Gibbs Racing).

5. January racing

While the return of NASCAR can’t come soon enough for many, did you know the last time the Cup Series raced in January was 1981? Bobby Allison won at Riverside, California. That was the season-opening race and the Daytona 500 followed. Riverside opened the Cup season from 1970-81.

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Here’s Cup, Trucks entry lists for this weekend’s races at Martinsville

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Martinsville Speedway’s little .526-mile paper clip shaped short track will host two very big NASCAR races this weekend.

First, the NASCAR Cup Series begins the Round of 8 semifinal round with Sunday’s First Data 500.

The original 16-driver field that began the playoffs at Chicago six races ago has been pared to just eight drivers remaining and with four races left.

Also, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series kicks off the Round of 6 semifinal round with the Texas Roadhouse 200.

Lastly, the NASCAR Xfinity Series enjoys this weekend off. It returns to action next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, when all three of NASCAR’s premier series will be in action.

NASCAR Cup Series – First Data 500

There are 40 cars entered in Sunday’s race. While the preliminary NASCAR entry list indicates two driver positions being open, a press release was sent out this morning that one of those vacant seats has been filled.

The No. 51 Chevrolet of Rick Ware Racing is listed as having no driver, but the team announced today that 20-year-old Kyle Weatherman will make his NASCAR Cup debut and drive the car in Sunday’s race.

Weatherman will also drive for RWR at Phoenix in the penultimate NASCAR Cup playoff race.

That leaves just one driver’s seat that needs to be filled for Sunday’s race: the No. 83 Toyota of BK Racing.

Jimmie Johnson won this race last year, one big step on his way to winning a seventh NASCAR Cup championship, tying him with NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt for most championships won by a driver.

Johnson has won nine times at Martinsville. If there’s any place for him to begin his push for a record eighth championship, the tiny southern Virginia track is just the place to do so. Meanwhile, Brad Keselowski won at Martinsville this spring.

Click here for the preliminary NASCAR Cup entry list for Sunday’s race at Martinsville.

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Camping World Truck Series – Texas Roadhouse 200

 There are 34 trucks on the preliminary entry list for Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway.

There are two open driver spots and one open owner position.

Johnny Sauter won last fall’s truck race at Martinsville en route to his first Truck Series championship.

The No. 0 Chevrolet, owned by Jennifer Jo Cobb, does not have a driver listed yet.

And the No. 111 Chevrolet does not have a driver or a team owner listed on the preliminary entry list. However, there is a crew chief slated: Clinton Cram.

 

Johnny Sauter won this race last year en route to his first career Truck Series championship.

There are no NASCAR Cup drivers entered in this race.

Click here for the preliminary NASCAR Camping World Truck Series entry list for Saturday’s race at Martinsville.

Preliminary entry lists for NASCAR at Chicagoland Speedway

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All three of NASCAR’s national series will be racing this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

While the Cup Series begins its playoffs, both the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series end their regular seasons at the 1.5-mile track.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for each race.

Cup – Tale of the Turtles 400

There are 39 cars entered into the race.

Brett Moffitt will drive the No. 83 for BK Racing. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 23 for BK Racing.

Gray Gaulding will drive the No. 55 for Premium Motorsports.

Last year Martin Truex Jr. opened the playoffs with a win after a two-lap shootout to end the race. Truex beat Joey Logano and Chase Elliott to the checkered flag.

Click here for the full entry list.

Xfinity – Chicagoland 300

There are 40 cars entered into the race.

Six Cup regulars are entered into the race: Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Ty Dillon and Austin Dillon.

Darrell Wallace Jr. will drive the No. 98 Ford in his first Xfinity start since June at Pocono.

The No. 96 of Ben Kennedy has been withdrawn from the event by GMS Racing.

There is no driver attached yet to the No. 78 for BJ McLeod Motorsports.

Last year Jones led the final nine laps to score a win over Larson and Elliott Sadler.

Click here for the full entry list.

Truck – Chicagoland 225

There are 30 trucks entered into the race.

Drivers are not attached to the No. 0 owned by Jennifer Jo Cobb and the No. 36 owned by MB Motorsports.

Last year Kyle Busch won after leading 95 of 151 laps. He beat Daniel Hemric and Cameron Hayley.

Click here for the full entry list.

 

Darrell Wallace Jr. returns to Xfinity Series for Sept. 16 Chicagoland race

Richard Petty Motorsports
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After missing the last 12 races, Darrell Wallace Jr. will return to the Xfinity Series for the Sept. 16 race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Richard Petty Motorsports and Biagi DenBeste Racing announced Thursday the 23-year-old driver will pilot the latter team’s No. 98 Nickelodeon Slime Ford in the race.

It will be Wallace’s first Xfinity race since the June 10 event at Pocono Raceway. After that race, Roush Fenway Racing closed down operations on the No. 6 car Wallace had driven since 2015.

Wallace then drove Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 car in four Cup races in substitution of the injured Aric Almirola.

Since his last Cup race at Kentucky Speedway in July, Wallace competed in and won the Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 12.

“I’m really glad to get back behind the wheel of a race car,” Wallace said in a press release. “Chicago has always been a decent track for me where I’ve had some good finishes. I’m excited to get back in the Xfinity Series in a Ford Mustang. With the history with Biagi DenBeste Racing and RPM, we should have some good speed. It’s really cool to be paired with Nickelodeon. We’ve formed a great relationship over the past three years, and we’re able to do these one-off races to attract the youth to the sport. With such a cool looking car this weekend, I think we’ll do just that.”

Wallace’s paint scheme will be one of six at Chicago that will be inspired by Nickelodeon and its “Tales of the Turtle” TV show.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
  • Matt DiBenedetto will carry the “Samurai” paint scheme on his Go Fas Racing Ford.
  • Jeffrey Earnhardt will have “BeBop” and “Rocksteady” on his Circle Sport Chevy.
Xfinity Series
  • Bubba Wallace will showcase “Nickelodeon Slime” on his Biagi DenBeste Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports Ford.
  • Matt Tifft will have “Lone Rat and Cub” on his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Camping World Truck Series

Kyle Busch dominates to win Truck race at Bristol in overtime

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After starting from the rear to begin the final stage, Kyle Busch marched through the field and survived an overtime finish to win the Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Busch won the first two stages of the race but was caught speeding on pit road after Stage 2. Busch had his No. 46 Toyota in the lead by the time the field came to 33 laps to go in the UNOH 200.

Busch led a race-high 109 laps from the pole to score his third truck win of the year. It’s his fifth truck win at Bristol in 11 starts.

Busch’s march through the field came primarily in the top lane, which did not have the PJ1 traction agent that the bottom lane was treated with. He passed Matt Crafton to take the lead.

“I knew once we got that penalty I had to go somewhere other than where everyone else was,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “I just started grooming the top and it took about 15 laps for it to come in. Then it started going and it was pretty fast.”

Busch is going for a sweep of NASCAR’s weekend at the half-mile track. He will compete in Friday night’s Xfinity race and Saturday night’s Cup race. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver swept all three races in 2010.

“It was a lot of fun to come through the field like that,” Busch said. “It kind of gave me some ideas about the rest of the week. Probably showed a lot too.”

Following him in the top five were Matt Crafton, John Hunter Nemechek, Grant Enfinger and Ben Rhodes.

Stage 1 winner: Kyle Busch

Stage 2 winner: Kyle Busch

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Nemechek finished third for his seventh top five of the season … Enfinger finished fourth on the day his crew chief was suspended for the race and he was docked 10 points for failing post-race inspection at Michigan … Rhodes finished fifth for just his second top five and top-10 finish in the last six races .. NBCSN analyst Parker Kligerman finished eighth for his third top 10 in five starts this season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Jennifer Jo Cobb was parked by NASCAR on Lap 76 for not meeting minimum speed and finished 30th  … Kaz Grala left the race after the end of Stage 2 due to engines problems. He finished 28th … Justin Haley and Austin Wayne Self brought out the final caution with five laps to go in the original distance when Haley washed up the track and forced Self into the wall, severely damaging Self’s No. 44 truck. Self finished 24th.

NOTABLE: The race didn’t begin until 10:44 p.m. ET after a rain delay. The race was originally set to start at 8:46 p.m. ET … Harrison Burton and J.J. Yeley each had one unsecured lug nut following the race.

NEXT: Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 3 on Fox Sports 1