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Watch: Budweiser unveils special tribute to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 8

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Honoring the beginning of a career that will end Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Budweiser unveiled a video tribute Tuesday morning to Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The 3-minute montage honors some of the 14-time most popular driver’s most memorable moments in the No. 8 Chevrolet that he drove from 2000-07, beginning with his inaugural victory in NASCAR’s premier series April 12, 2000 at Texas Motor Speedway.

It also includes highlights of Earnhardt’s wins at The Winston in 2000, his 2004 sweep at Bristol Motor Speedway and the 2004 Daytona 500. It spends the most time on Earnhardt’s July 6, 2001 victory at Daytona International Speedway in the first race after his father’s death in a last-lap crash in the 2001 Daytona 500.

“We created this short film to pay tribute to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his incredible career,” Ricardo Marques, the vice president of marketing for Budweiser, said in a release. “Budweiser has great memories of working with Junior and we will never forever his time spent in the Bud car. Thanks for the unforgettable moments, Junior.”

Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet in the season finale will be a replica of the No. 8 Budweiser car with the same color codes.

“Budweiser will always have a special place in my heart,” Earnhardt said in a release about the video. “They took a chance on me early on, sponsored my first Cup ride and paved the way to many great opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise.  I’m deeply honored in what they’ve done to commemorate my final race.

“It was unexpected and humbling.  It brought back a rush of memories, but more than anything it reminded me how awesome it was to drive that red No. 8 car.”

NASCAR Drivers to support ‘Drive for Teal & Gold’ campaign

Photo: Sherry Pollex
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The Martin Truex Jr. Foundation’s second annual “Drive for Teal & Gold” campaign to raise awareness of and funds for ovarian cancer (teal ribbon) and childhood cancers (gold ribbon) will begin this weekend at Darlington Raceway.

Truex’s girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, is an ovarian cancer survivor.

Throughout September, the national awareness month for both diseases, 27 drivers in Cup, Xfinity and the Camping World Truck Series will sport teal and gold steering wheels customized by Max Papis Innovations. Ryan Newman will take part by using customized driving gloves. At the end of September, drivers will autograph their customized items for an online auction by the NASCAR Foundation to benefit the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation.

Truex and Pollex created the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation in 2007 to advocate for children and teens affected by cancer. Pollex was diagnosed with stage 3c ovarian cancer in 2014. The Foundation’s mission was rebranded in 2015 to support both childhood and ovarian cancers. In 2016, Pollex launched SherryStrong.org as a health and wellness resource for women fighting any form of cancer. In July 2017, Pollex underwent successful surgery for a recurrence.

A notorious BLT? Sandwich overboard at Indy causes grief for Kevin Harvick’s spotter

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INDIANAPOLIS – A fumbled sandwich briefly left a NASCAR spotter in a pickle Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Tim Fedewa, the spotter for Kevin Harvick, radioed his team that NASCAR officials took his hard card after his sandwich fell off the roof of the track’s iconic pagoda during the first Cup Series practice.

“Send somebody up here,” Fedewa radioed. “They took my hard card. A sandwich fell off the roof, and they’re mad. It was my sandwich.”

A hard card is the seasonlong credential that allows access at NASCAR tracks. A NASCAR spokesperson later confirmed that Fedewa’s hard card had been returned, making for a happy ending to a lighthearted story.

“Hey listen, you’ve got to control your lunch,” analyst Steve Letarte quipped during the NASCAR on NBC broadcast.

 

Here’s your Silly Season scorecard for 2018

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Tuesday’s announcement of Erik Jones as the replacement for Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Toyota by Joe Gibbs Racing could be the first in a multitude of driver moves for the 2018 Cup season.

There are many drivers, sponsors and teams whose plans for next year have yet to be revealed, as was discussed on Tuesday’s NASCAR America with Carolyn Manno, Steve Letarte and Slugger Labbe.

Here is a rundown of who could be headed where and with whom:

ANNOUNCED RIDES

Erik Jones will be in the No. 20 Toyota (pushing out Matt Kenseth).

OPEN/POSSIBLY OPEN RIDES

No. 88: Team owner Rick Hendrick hasn’t tipped his hand on a direction for the ride, telling reporters at Daytona there was no timetable for naming Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s replacement.

–No. 5: This car virtually has no sponsorship announced for next season, and Kasey Kahne’s status is uncertain. Hendrick Motorsports seems committed to remaining a four-car team next year.

No. 77: Jones is returning to Joe Gibbs Racing after one season in Furniture Row Racing’s new car. Team owner Barney Visser said after Kentucky that “we have nothing concrete. … Our hope is to have two cars.” 5-hour Energy has an option to return in 2018 and can’t leave for another team. There is speculation Furniture Row Racing might move 5-hour Energy to the 78 with Martin Truex Jr., which would seem to leave the ride’s future in doubt.

No. 10: Sponsorship has yet to be announced for next season, and Danica Patrick’s contract is in its last year with the team.

No. 41: Monster is mulling whether to return as a team sponsor in addition to its series title sponsorship. Monster must inform NASCAR within the next few months if it’s picking up the option on its series title sponsorship (which is a two-year deal with a two-year option). Co-owner Gene Haas has indicated Stewart-Haas Racing wants to stay at four cars. But if sponsorship isn’t there, contraction could become an option for the team.

No. 2: Still awaiting Brad Keselowski to be re-signed … if he were to leave, Miller Lite is expected to stay and is said to like Ryan Blaney (whose social media persona and youth would seem a good fit for a beer company).

AVAILABLE DRIVERS

Brad Keselowski: Still hasn’t re-signed with Team Penske. There are conflicting reports on whether the deal is virtually done or negotiations are at an impasse. The sticking point is believed to be more support from Ford for his Brad Keselowski Racing truck team, similar to the way in which Toyota Racing Development helps subsidize Kyle Busch Motorsports’ trucks. (Keselowski sparked an interesting discussion last week by saying that NASCAR needs more manufacturers.)

Matt Kenseth: Is out at Joe Gibbs Racing but wants to remain in a championship-caliber ride. Hendrick’s Nos. 88 or 5 seems the most likely landing spots, and he has a good friend in Dale Earnhardt Jr. to lobby on his behalf. Stewart-Haas Racing seems as if could be a possibility.

William Byron: Hendrick Motorsports has gauged the 19-year-old’s comfort level about a promotion to Cup. Rick Hendrick and Axalta (which has sponsored Byron in Xfinity races and likes his personality and potential) would like to move him up.

Kurt Busch: The 2017 Daytona 500 winner said at Daytona he is waiting for Stewart-Haas Racing to pick up his contract option and was optimistic that it would because “I deliver for the team.” Also mentioned there were many “moving parts” involving Monster and NASCAR.

Kasey Kahne: Has a deal through next season, but the team controls the option to keep him, and it’s widely thought it could be his last year at Hendrick.

Ryan Blaney: Roger Penske said recently he wants to bring Blaney into the fold as early as next season, possibly in a third full-time car (or perhaps in the No. 2 if Keselowski were to leave).

Danica Patrick: In her final year with Stewart-Haas Racing. She said last month she intends to drive next season, but the sponsorship uncertainty leaves her status murky for next year.

Alex Bowman: If Hendrick goes young, he possibly could be in play for the No. 5 if the team puts Byron in the No. 88. Also in play for the No. 9 at JR Motorsports if Byron goes to Cup

Paul Menard: Hasn’t been announced as returning to Richard Childress Racing, and the Menards sponsorship could be on the move (it already sponsors Team Penske in the IndyCar Series).

Aric Almirola: Hasn’t been announced yet as returning to RPM next season. Has been tied closely to sponsor Smithfield, which also had been mulling a move in its contract year but which just had a key decision-maker leave.

GMS Racing/Spencer Gallagher: The team is mulling a move next season to Cup from the Xfinity Series. At Kentucky, Gallagher told SiriusXM that racing in Cup “definitely is a subject that has been broached, and we’ve put a lot of thought into it. We’ve always known that is our long-term goal to be racing in Cup. We’re looking at different ways we might do it and different times in which it would be best. It’s still in the formative stages.”

NASCAR America: Daytona winner Kaz Grala focused on winning again

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After becoming the youngest NASCAR national series winner at Daytona International Speedway last weekend, Camping World Truck Series racer Kaz Grala isn’t looking to slow down.

“Now we can race for fun and get as many stage wins and race wins as we can,” the 18-year-old told NASCAR on NBC’s Dave Burns. “Our objective going into the weekend doesn’t change. We want to win just like anybody else. That pressures is a little bit off, which makes the racing that much more fun.”

The Truck series races Saturday at Atlanta.