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Piece by piece: Christopher Bell rebuilt midget car in his house

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Christopher Bell had a unique problem recently.

How to get a race car in his home.

Well, not just any race car but the midget car he won the Chili Bowl with in January.

Too wide for any doors, Bell had to figure out how to, as they say, put a square peg in a round hole.

“I don’t have a shop, I have a two-car garage at my house there, but both of those spaces are filled,” he said. “I had an empty room right inside the front door so I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to try to put this thing in there.’

“Taking it apart from sitting on the ground in the garage to sitting on the ground in the house was only like three hours. Everything went pretty smooth and I’m pretty proud of it too.”

So why do it? Yes, it’s the winner of the Chili Bowl, among the most prestigious midget car races in the country, but it’s still putting a race car in a house.

“As a kid growing up in Oklahoma, the Chili Bowl was obviously the dream race for me,” he said. “I grew up a dirt track racer and not really much pavement racing going on in Oklahoma, so the Chili Bowl was my dream race, and I told myself as a little kid that if I ever won the Chili Bowl, I was going to buy the car.”

OK, but one thing. Bell, who is second in the Camping World Truck Series points standings, makes his Xfinity debut this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. What happens if he wins that race?

How would he put a stock car in his house?

That’s a question for another day, perhaps, but check out the video of how he got his midget car in his home.

You wanna do what with your race car?

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Ron Hornaday Jr.’s Hall of Fame election aided by champion who slept on his couch

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CONCORD, N.C. — Ron Hornaday’s Jr. election to the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2018 class wasn’t a lock.

For just the second time in the institution’s nine-year history, the vote for the final spot in the class resulted in a tie.

It was either going to be Hornaday, a four-time champion in the Camping World Truck Series, or the late Alan Kulwicki, the 1992 Cup champion.

When the final vote was taken, those casting their ballots may have had the words of Jimmie Johnson on their mind.

Prior to the first vote, those in the room went through the list of 20 nominees and discussed the merits of each.

“It’s very difficult because as the stories go on and you understand how each individual has played such a large part in NASCAR’s history, they are all worthy,” Johnson said Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “It’s not an easy day trying to make your decisions.”

But when Hornaday’s name came up, Johnson shared why he thought Hornaday was worthy of the Hall of Fame.

A voter due to his status as defending Cup champion, Johnson’s support of the 51-time winner in the Truck Series isn’t out of the blue.

If anyone was going to go to bat for Hornaday, it would be a future Hall of Famer and fellow California native who, along with Kevin Harvick, called Hornaday’s living room couch his home at the beginning of his career.

“That man loves racing and has given so many an opportunity,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know him back when he was based in California and his short track roots. I knew who he was, although I wasn’t focused on asphalt racing.”

Johnson grew up in El Cajon, California, three hours south of Hornaday’s roots in Palmdale.

“I met him through some different Chevrolet functions,” Johnson said. “He and (his wife) Lindy (Hornaday) just had open arms and told me, if you are ever in North Carolina we will give you a place to stay, come stay with us.”

About three months later, Johnson came East to drive a late motel car owned by Hendrick Motorsports general manager Jimmy Johnson (no relation).

The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet took the Hornaday’s up on their offer and became a resident on their couch.

“They wouldn’t let me move out,” Johnson said. “I stayed there for six months until Ron on one of his Harley rides found a home that he thought I could afford and seemed like a good buy and I bought my first house. They have been amazing to me and to many others in the sport, not just drivers. There are officials walking up and down pit road that have all bunked at his home, crew members from all over the place.

“Their contributions to our sport, Ron’s contribution to our sport, not only include the amazing things he did on the track, but so many things off the track. I think he is going to be a great fit in the Hall and be very entertaining as the months go by and we are able to induct him.”

Hornaday, who last raced in the Truck Seres in 2014, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame with Robert Yates, Red Byron, Ken Squier and Ray Evernham.

Johnson wasn’t able to talk to Hornaday in the aftermath of the announcement. But he reached out to his former host Thursday morning on the way to the track. Hornaday was already back at work.

“He was running a fork lift somewhere doing something,” Johnson said.

When Hornaday goes before he peers in January for his induction, he can thank a fellow driver from California for the helping hand.

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Kevin Harvick: Current state of Truck Series schedule ‘makes me mad’

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Not long after NASCAR unveiled the 2018 schedules for its three national series, Kevin Harvick went on a rant about the current state of the Camping World Truck Series schedule, saying “it makes me mad.”

“The Truck schedule is racing at a ton of the wrong race tracks,” Harvick said Tuesday on his weekly SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show “Happy Hour. “They should be back at Louisville (Motor Speedway), they should be back at some of these grassroots race tracks. The Truck Series should be helping us build our grassroots program, from Late Models on up, by having a Truck race there.”

With NASCAR trying to find ways to win the hearts and minds of new fans, Harvick believes the Truck Series, which debuted in 1995, is an unused tool for strengthening the sport’s fan base.

“In order to help our sport to produce from the bottom up, we have to help figure out how to get the grassroots program where they need to be and that’s what we need to be using the Truck Series for,” said Harvick, a 14-time Truck winner and former Truck team owner. “Go to these grassroots race tracks and guess what? That’s where the Trucks need to be racing because they’re going to put 10 to 15,000 people in the grandstands every week to watch these races because they’re unique events.”

“They don’t want to show up on a Friday at Dover (International Speedway) and watch these trucks drive around the race track because they’re going to show up on Sunday to watch the Cup cars. Take the trucks somewhere where everybody wants to see them, because there’s short tracks across the country that want to see them.

“Sorry, I’m on a rant. It make me mad.”

Harvick’s thoughts about reaching fans are in addition to those made by Kyle Larson earlier this year about how NASCAR should encourage its stars to race at short tracks in smaller series.

Harvick is doing a variation of this later this season. He will competes in the K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma Raceway the weekend of the Cup Series race on the road course.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver broke into NASCAR via the Truck Series in the first year of its existence. He made his debut in 1995 at Mesa Marin Raceway in his hometown of Bakersfield, California.

Of the 18 tracks the series competed on in 1995, it still races at only three – Martinsville, Phoenix Raceway and Bristol Motor Speedway.

“The Trucks should be opening up in January like they used to at Tuscon Raceway Park or the Copperworld Classic when it was at Phoenix,” Harvick said. “Let the Truck Series start our season in January so they can have exposure on TV by themselves. If the Cup guys want to go out there and race, that’s fine. Let them go race. Because that’s going to help put fans in the grandstands.

“Myself and Greg Biffle and Ron Hornaday and Mike Skinner, guess what? We’d never make to it to Cup racing, Truck racing or anything else that we do because we wouldn’t have been on TV if they didn’t have ‘Winter Heat’ and all these different series. In order to produce young stars and expose them to the public you have to start them from the grassroots level up.

“You can’t keep lollygagging along with the Truck Series at these race tracks and expect people to show up.”

Harvick cited the lack of SAFER barrier at short tracks as an excuse given for why the Truck Series doesn’t race at more short tracks.

“Let’s figure out a way to help these tracks get soft walls if that’s what it takes for them to get a Truck race,” Harvick said.

Next year, the Truck Series will have 23 races beginning on Feb. 16 at Daytona International Speedway and ending on Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The biggest change to the schedule is the Truck Series loses it standalone race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September. Instead, the Truck Series will visit the track with the Cup and Xfinity Series twice on March 2 and Sept. 19.

The March 2 race in Las Vegas gives the Truck series three straight races to begin the season. For the last three seasons, the series competed at Daytona and Atlanta before going quiet until late March at Martinsville Speedway and then taking another month off until an early May race at Kansas Speedway.

From 2012-14, the series held no races between Daytona and Martinsville. Atlanta was added the week following Daytona in 2015.

The Truck Series’ Dover race moves from early June to May 4 next year, which shortens the break following the Martinsville race. The series will not be returning to New Hampshire Motor Speedway as the track loses one of its NASCAR weekends.

The Truck Series will now only have four standalone events in 2018: Texas Motor Speedway (June 8), Gateway Motorsports Park (June 23), Eldora Speedway (July 18) and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (August 26).

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NASCAR announces 2018 schedules for Cup, Xfinity, Camping World Trucks

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NASCAR announced the 2018 schedules for its three national series and they include significant changes in Cup.

The season will begin with the Clash and Daytona 500 qualifying taking place on Feb. 11. Previously, those events were held on separate dates. The Clash moves to from a Saturday night to Sunday afternoon. Daytona 500 qualifying will precede it.

The Daytona 500 moves to Feb. 18 – its earliest date since 2010.

The Richmond spring race moves back to a Saturday night race after having been run on Sunday this year.

The playoffs will see a big change.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host the cutoff race for the playoffs on Sept. 9. The playoffs will open Sept. 16 at Las Vegas. Richmond, which had been the cutoff race since 2004, moves into the playoffs and will be on Sept. 22, a Saturday night. The first round ends Sept. 30 at Charlotte on the track’s oval and infield road course. Dover moves to the first race in the second round. The final six races of the playoffs remain unchanged from this year.

2018 MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES SCHEDULE

Date                 Site

2/11                  Daytona International Speedway (Clash / Daytona 500 Qualifying)

2/15                  Daytona International Speedway (Duel)

2/18                  Daytona 500

2/25                  Atlanta Motor Speedway

3/4                    Las Vegas Motor Speedway

3/11                  Phoenix International Raceway

3/18                  Auto Club Speedway

3/25                  Martinsville Speedway

4/8                    Texas Motor Speedway

4/15                  Bristol Motor Speedway

4/21                  Richmond International Raceway

4/29                  Talladega Superspeedway

5/6                    Dover International Speedway

5/12                  Kansas Speedway

5/19                  Charlotte Motor Speedway (Monster Energy All-Star Race)

5/27                  Charlotte Motor Speedway

6/3                    Pocono Raceway

6/10                  Michigan International Speedway

6/24                  Sonoma Raceway

7/1                    Chicagoland Speedway

7/7                    Daytona International Speedway

7/14                  Kentucky Speedway

7/22                  New Hampshire Motor Speedway

7/29                  Pocono Raceway

8/5                    Watkins Glen International

8/12                  Michigan International Speedway

8/18                  Bristol Motor Speedway

9/2                    Darlington Raceway

9/9                    Indianapolis Motor Speedway

9/16                  Las Vegas Motor Speedway

9/22                  Richmond International Raceway

9/30                  Charlotte Motor Speedway

10/7                  Dover International Speedway

10/14                Talladega Superspeedway

10/21                Kansas Speedway

10/28                Martinsville Speedway

11/4                  Texas Motor Speedway

11/11                Phoenix International Raceway

11/18                Homestead-Miami Speedway

  

2018 NASCAR XFINITY SERIES SCHEDULE

Date                 Site

2/17                  Daytona International Speedway

2/24                  Atlanta Motor Speedway

3/3                    Las Vegas Motor Speedway

3/10                  Phoenix International Raceway

3/17                  Auto Club Speedway

4/7                    Texas Motor Speedway

4/14                  Bristol Motor Speedway

4/20                  Richmond International Raceway

4/28                  Talladega Superspeedway

5/5                    Dover International Speedway

5/26                  Charlotte Motor Speedway

6/2                    Pocono Raceway

6/9                    Michigan International Speedway

6/17                  Iowa Speedway

6/30                  Chicagoland Speedway

7/6                    Daytona International Speedway

7/13                  Kentucky Speedway

7/21                  New Hampshire Motor Speedway

7/28                  Iowa Speedway

8/4                    Watkins Glen International

8/11                  Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

8/17                  Bristol Motor Speedway

8/25                  Road America

9/1                    Darlington Raceway

9/8                    Indianapolis Motor Speedway

9/15                  Las Vegas Motor Speedway

9/21                  Richmond International Raceway

9/29                  Charlotte Motor Speedway

10/6                  Dover International Speedway

10/20                Kansas Speedway

11/3                  Texas Motor Speedway

11/10                Phoenix International Raceway

11/17                Homestead-Miami Speedway

  

2018 NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES SCHEDULE 

Date                 Site

2/16                  Daytona International Speedway

2/24                  Atlanta Motor Speedway

3/2                    Las Vegas Motor Speedway

3/24                  Martinsville Speedway

5/4                    Dover International Speedway

5/11                  Kansas Speedway

5/18                  Charlotte Motor Speedway

6/8                    Texas Motor Speedway

6/16                  Iowa Speedway

6/23                  Gateway Motorsports Park

6/29                  Chicagoland Speedway

7/12                  Kentucky Speedway

7/18                  Eldora Speedway

7/28                  Pocono Raceway                     

8/11                  Michigan International Speedway

8/15                  Bristol Motor Speedway

8/26                  Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

9/14                  Las Vegas Motor Speedway

10/13                Talladega Superspeedway

10/27                Martinsville Speedway

11/2                  Texas Motor Speedway

11/9                  Phoenix International Raceway

11/16                Homestead-Miami Speedway

 

 

Johnny Sauter remains Truck points leader after Charlotte

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Johnny Sauter extended his points lead after his runner-up finish in Friday’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Sauter entered the Camping World Truck Series race with a two-point lead on Christopher Bell. Sauter ended the night 15 points ahead of Bell. Matt Crafton is third in the season standings, 51 points behind Sauter.

Click here for points report