Richard Petty Motorsports

Darrell Wallace Jr.’s Daytona 500 car to be auctioned off

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Next month many items from the historic career of Richard Petty will be auctioned off in Las Vegas, including multiple cars and trophies.

Now a more recent piece of Petty history has been added to the docket.

The battered and bruised No. 43 Chevrolet that Darrell Wallace Jr. drove to a historic second-place finish in the Daytona 500 will be up for auction May 12 at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

MORE: Click here for the Petty auction catalogue. 

Wallace, who finished behind Austin Dillon, became the highest-placing African-American driver ever in the 500 in his first start in the race.

Wallace’s car, which was damaged on the last lap from contact with Denny Hamlin and the wall, joins items including the 1974 Dodge Charger that Petty drove to his fifth Daytona 500 win.

“This car is always going to be special to me,” Wallace said in a press release. “It was my first Daytona 500 and was such an emotional race. This car was the best place for me to be. It was an amazing day with this car.”

The car is signed by Wallace and estimated to sell between for $70,000 – $90,000.

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Thunderbird pilot killed in training crash in Nevada

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The United States Air Force announced Thursday that Thunderbird pilot Maj. Stephen Del Bagno was killed in a crash Wednesday over the Nevada Test and Training Range.

Del Bagno, one of the pilots who took part in the flyover before the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, was flying his F-16 Fighting Falcon in a routine demonstration training flight when he crashed around 10:30 a.m.

Maj. Stephen Del Bagno. (U.S. Air Force)

“We are mourning the loss of Major Del Bagno,” said Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander, in a press release. “He was an integral part of our team and our hearts are heavy with his loss. We ask everyone to provide his family and friends the space to heal during this difficult time.”

The Air Force said an investigation is underway to learn the cause of the accident.

Del Bagno was a native of Valencia, California. According to the Thunderbirds’ website, Del Bagno was in his first season with the demonstration team.

Before he joined the Air Force, Del Bagno was a civilian flight instructor, corporate pilot, skywriter, and a banner tow pilot.

The team’s participation in the March Air Reserve Base’s “The March Field Air & Space Expo” has been cancelled.

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NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr, Ryan Blaney pick most fun wins

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Clint Bowyer had an ecstatic, loud and beer-fueled celebration after winning Monday at Martinsville Speedway.

He celebrated how you expected him to after his first Cup win since 2012.

On NASCAR America, analysts Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kyle Petty and guest Ryan Blaney each picked the most fun wins they’ve experienced or witnessed.

Petty chose Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s 1998 win in the Daytona 500.

Blaney selected his first Camping World Truck Series win at Iowa Speedway in 2012.

“My mother and father were there,” Blaney said. “That’s pretty cool, your first win in NASCAR and your folks are there. That was really special to me.”

Earnhardt decided on his lone Cup win at Martinsville Speedway in the fall 2014 race at the short track.

“I had been trying to get that win for so long, and the clock, everybody wants the clock,” Earnhardt said. “It’s one of the rare races where there’s such a unique trophy that makes it more exciting to win and more prestigious. It’s a hard race to win. It’s an easy track to have the best car and not win and get beat.”

Watch the above video for the full discussion, including Earnhardt recalling where he was when his father won the Daytona 500.

 

Bump & Run: Is it time to eliminate inspection at R&D Center after races?

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Should NASCAR inspect cars only at the track after a race and no longer do so at the R&D Center days later even though penalties can be found there?

Nate Ryan: Yes, NASCAR needs to find a way to make this happen. It’s worth the accompanying drawbacks and sacrifices.

Dustin Long: What’s the goal here? If NASCAR inspects only at the track and doesn’t do as comprehensive of an inspection as at the R&D Center, are officials all but encouraging teams to spend as much money as possible on certain things that don’t get inspected? Won’t that cause a greater difference between teams? Is that best for the sport? If that’s less a concern than announcing penalties three days later, go ahead and eliminate the R&D Center inspection.

Daniel McFadin: I’m split on this. The NASCAR community shouldn’t have to find out penalties three days after an event. But by doing the more in-depth inspections, teams learn just how far they can color outside NASCAR’s designated lines. It’s a necessary evil, but one that should be done much closer to the checkered flag.

Jerry Bonkowski: Yes. Inspections, and very thorough ones at that, should come immediately after the race. If there is an issue that needs further examination — and which could potentially lead to a penalty — only then should a vehicle be sent back to the R&D Center.

Do you believe social media influences NASCAR in terms of penalizing teams? Is that a concern?

Nate Ryan: The impact was mostly overstated after Harvick’s Las Vegas penalty; but you also can’t untether social media from the rise of technology that has changed the nature of policing races (i.e., rival teams would have ensured NASCAR sees potentially incriminating photos regardless of whether they were on Twitter). This is the 21st century world in which NASCAR finds itself. The ultimate answer is to find a way to do postrace inspection expeditiously and exclusively at track.

Dustin Long: Penalizing? No. Can social media flag potential infractions? Sure. Of course, teams are going to see what others are doing and someone is likely to make NASCAR aware of something that doesn’t seem right. In the end, NASCAR needs to penalize based on the rulebook, not on what is being said on social media. If it gets to that point, then just let the fans run the sport.

Daniel McFadin: I think it should be a concern, especially since most fans don’t know the extent to what is legal and illegal according to NASCAR’s rulebook. I honestly believe it’s possible Kevin Harvick‘s team would have been penalized following Las Vegas even if social media and Reddit hadn’t pulled out their Junior Detective kits. Harvick’s car was already going back to the R&D center. On the other hand, I don’t think Chase Elliott‘s team would have been penalized at Chicago last year if not for those same Internet sleuths.

Jerry Bonkowski: NASCAR shouldn’t and I believe doesn’t let outside influences like social media impact its decisions on whether or not to penalize teams for infractions. Let’s face it, if a team is wrong and if modifications to a car are outside of the rules, a penalty is a penalty, pure and simple. And that’s why teams are cited for infractions. It is interesting to see the reaction on social media both before and after penalties are meted out, but I believe NASCAR has enough integrity not to let fan comments, either pro or con, influence how it deals with infractions.

Other than Kevin Harvick’s dominance, what has stood out to you in the season’s first four races?

Nate Ryan: That Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing seem to have maintained last year’s pace (it’s just that Harvick has been slightly better).

Dustin Long: The relevance of the No. 10 car with Aric Almirola this season. Yes, Stewart-Haas Racing and Ford are strong, but Almirola has made an immediate impact with that team and organization. Remember, he nearly won the Daytona 500.

Daniel McFadin: Martin Truex Jr.‘s quiet consistency. He’s finished in the top five in the last three races and has placed in the top 10 in all but one stage through four races. Yet he’s only led 14 laps. Makes me wonder when the No. 78 team will start to show its muscle.

Jerry Bonkowski: Jimmie Johnson‘s struggles. While he’s managed to move up to 26th place, that’s nowhere near where the seven-time champion should be. I sense that he and crew chief Chad Knaus have had difficulty adapting to the new Chevrolet Camaro, but this isn’t the first time we’ve seen early-season struggles from the No. 48 team. All Johnson and Knaus need is one win, or maybe a top-five, and I believe they’ll be back on-track from that point on.

Mark Martin shares the story of when Dale Earnhardt made him mad

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Mark Martin joined the digital world Monday with the debut of his own podcast, sharing stories about his interest in rap music, his racing carer and his battles with Dale Earnhardt.

Martin won 40 career Cup races (a mark Kevin Harvick tied Sunday with his victory at ISM Raceway) in a career that began in 1981 and ended in 2013. Martin’s success led to his induction to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017.

During episode one of the Mark Martin Podcast, the former racer took fan questions. He talked about a variety of topics, noting what he liked about rap music, what valuable lesson crew chief Alan Gustafson taught him and how he doesn’t lament losing the 2007 Daytona 500 by a nose but how another loss ranks as the one that bothers him to this day.

One question to Martin was who made him the maddest at the track.

Dale Earnhardt’s name came up.

Here’s how Martin tells the story:

“I had some issues with Earnhardt,’’ Martin said “The stories on Earnhardt are Dale really respected me before I got to NASCAR, he knew who I was. He treated me with great respect until one day in the mid 90s he wakes up and he just thinks, ‘Boy, I’ll just mess with Mark, see how much he will take.’ He started pushing my buttons just for the fun of it.

“I would go out to practice and try to run by myself and he would come out. He would wait for me. He would come out right beside me and he would get on the outside of me. That’s when the cars were just starting to get aero loose with a car on the outside.

“He would mess with me and mess with me and mess with me. Well, I finally got tired of it at Michigan. He got on my outside and I switched it on him. I got ahead of him and then let him get on the inside of me and when we did, it sucked him around. He spun me around and he wrecked me. I had not wrecked myself or him all this time he had been messing with me and it pissed me off because it wrecked my car. Leave me alone. So I was mad. That was in practice. That wasn’t in a race.

“So, the next weekend on Friday, first thing we rolled out at New Hampshire, I go out and here he is. He does the same thing, and I put the wheel on him in practice. He comes in after practice and he looks at his p.r. guy and he said ‘I think Mark has had enough.’

“That’s all. It was just playing. I wasn’t going to cry to the media, I wasn’t going to complain, I was going to be a man. I wasn’t going to be a baby. Some of the other people, their reactions … Dale didn’t like the way they reacted, he didn’t respect it and he made their life miserable.

“I watched him do it to Geoff Bodine. God, he just irritated Geoff Bodine something terrible, just all the time and he just did it because he didn’t like the way Geoff would act when he would do it to him. He would just do it. Dale was a tough guy, he was a tough customer.’’

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