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NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s ‘My Greatest 8’ – first Cup win

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There are two races left in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s full-time Cup career.

Between now and his final start at Homestead-Miami Speedway, NASCAR America will present Earnhardt’s “My Greatest 8.”

The series will look at eight of Earnhardt’s personal favorite moments from his NASCAR career.

On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, we continued with the third episode of Junior’s “My Greatest 8.”

In the episode, we looked back at one of the biggest days of his racing career: his first career NASCAR Cup victory – April 2, 2000 at Texas Motor Speedway.

“That was the hardest race I’ve ever drove,” Junior said.

Father Dale Earnhardt hugged his son in victory lane, saying with pride, “He got a good race car, a good engine and the boy drove a good race.”

Click on the video above.

We began the series on Monday, when we recapped how Dale Jr. won the first of two consecutive Xfinity Series championships in 1998 while driving the No. 3 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Inc.

On Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, we relived Junior’s second consecutive Xfinity championship the following year – making him at the time only the fourth driver to win back-to-back titles in NASCAR’s junior league.

Check back Thursday for the next edition of Junior’s “My Greatest 8.”

Ross Chastain gives his side of Brendan Gaughan tangle, says he was hit in back of head

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The war of words that followed the scuffle between Ross Chastain and Brendan Gaughan after Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Texas continued Tuesday morning.

Gaughan gave his side of the incident on Sunday during the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio “Fantasy Racing Preview” show, which he co-hosts.

Tuesday, Chastain appeared on TMD and said he was hit several times by Gaughan and several members of his team, including being blindsided and punched at least once in the back of the head.

Chastain also revealed that a crew member for teammate Garrett Smithley – which Chastain did not identify – was punched in the back of the head and taken to a local hospital. Chastain said the crew member was back in the shop working Tuesday.

Here’s Chastain’s side of the story:

“When we pulled down off the track, for some reason we pulled behind victory lane, which didn’t help things because it was dark and no lights back there,” Chastain said. “As I was getting out of the car, I was kind of surprised to see him (Gaughan) and a legion of RCR guys. I thought there was only a couple when I first looked.

“By the time he had me by the neck, I was still coming out of the car with my feet in my race seat and I was sitting on the door, I realized there was about 20 guys there surrounded us, and I had three guys at the time.

“It was ugly. It was not something that was pretty to think back on. They definitely had the numbers and it showed. I had a couple guys from the 0 car (Smithley) jump in to help, and I’m thankful for that.

“They really did keep me and my guys from probably getting hurt to any extent.”

Chastain thought things had ended at that point, only to see them resume.

“We thought we had it calmed down and I got hit in the back of the head and taken down into a golf cart and rolled around a lot,” Chastain said. “I don’t know if it was just fists or stomped on a little bit. That’s pretty scary stuff. Definitely had a lot of things going through my mind at that point on how to get out of that situation.

“But a lot of things flash before your eyes when that’s happening. Luckily, some of my guys came back, realized where I was at because we all got separated there in the darkness and the crowd of people, and got me out of that situation. That was relieving to see their faces. That was pretty much it there.

“A lot happened real quick and definitely not impressed by the amount of people that came down there with Brendan and went to wailing. I got hit in the back of my head and one of the 0 guys did, as well.

“It’s some scary stuff, for sure. I’m glad the cameras weren’t there because that’s not the kind of publicity the sport needs at all. I’m all for arguments and stuff, but it was ugly and that’s not something I want people seeing.”

NASCAR officials called both drivers to the hauler after the incident, but officials did not make any statements regarding the two drivers.

Of his tangle with Chastain, Gaughan said on SiriusXM, “It isn’t the first issue that we’ve had and the first issue that others have had (with Chastain), and I finally just had enough. Should I have done something differently? Maybe, but at this point in my life, I’m kind of to the (point of) don’t care.”

NASCAR America: Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch finish strong at Texas after first lap contact

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Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch‘s day did not get off to a good start Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Both drivers made contact with each other on Lap 1, forcing each to pit for cut tires and damaged cars.

They returned to the track a lap down. Busch didn’t need to worry as he’d already clinched a spot in the championship race due to his win at Martinsville. But he still managed to bounce back to finished 19th.

Keselowski, on the other hand, went from being 29 points ahead of the final transfer spot to the championship round entering the race to 20 points back after the accident.

But the Team Penske driver charged back to finish fifth and leave Texas 19 point to the good entering this weekend’s race at Phoenix. Keselowski is one of five drivers vying for the final spot in the championship four.

NASCAR America’s Kyle Petty called Keselowski’s rebound a “championship-caliber performance.”

“I think there are moments in a career, there are moments in season, there are moments that you look at, maybe the team doesn’t win, but you look at and say, ‘championship performance,'” Petty said. “Boom. Fifth-place finish and they’re still in the mix.”

Petty and Parker Kligerman also discussed why Busch’s finish is important for the No. 18 team despite already being part of the championship four.

“They need to keep their head in the game,” Petty said. “Pit stops, they basically got a free day of, ‘let’s go over there, let’s bust these pit stops, let’s stay in that rhythm. Let’s stay in the rhythm of spotting, let’s stay in the rhythm of driving, let’s stay in the rhythm of running a strategy and seeing where we’re at.'”

Watch the above video for the full segment.

F1 star Daniel Ricciardo introduced to NASCAR world in Texas

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Formula 1 star Daniel Ricciardo made his first visit to a NASCAR Cup Series race at Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 from Texas Motor Speedway, as the Australian driver for Red Bull Racing was a guest of Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott.

Ricciardo had told NBCSN F1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas last month in Austin he planned to make a return visit to Texas to see Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s final start at the track as a full-time Cup driver.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well,” Ricciardo told NBCSN. “Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Elliott welcomed Ricciardo around, and he took in the atmosphere pre-race. He met Joey Logano, among others, before having the chance to see Earnhardt and complete his idea of doing the helmet swap.

Both Earnhardt and Ricciardo signed each other’s helmets, and Earnhardt, who will join NBC Sports as an analyst for its NASCAR coverage in 2018, said he looks forward to attending a Formula 1 race next year.

Some of the other NASCAR posts Ricciardo appeared in on Sunday are below.

Ricciardo also posted a couple photos to his Instagram story on Sunday.

Chase Elliott: ‘Not a very good day for us’ in Texas playoff race

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Chase Elliott is in a must-win scenario in the Cup playoffs after finishing eighth in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Elliott is 49 points back from the final transfer spot heading to Phoenix Raceway, where the final spot in the championship round will be determined.

A week after the controversial finish at Martinsville Speedway, Elliott ran in the top 10 most of the day Sunday but never contended for the lead.

“Not a very good day for us,” Elliott told NBCSN. “Just never really could find the balance. I don’t know what was wrong. Had (balance) on Friday, didn’t have it yesterday and didn’t have it today. Frustrating afternoon for us, kind of all over the board.”

Both Elliott and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson occupy the bottom spots on the playoff grid. Elliott is seventh, 49 points back from the final transfer spot. Johnson is eighth, 51 points back.

With his eighth-place finish, Elliott has placed in the top 10 in all four of his Cup starts at Texas. The 1.5-mile track is where he earned his first Xfinity Series victory in 2014.

“I wish that they hadn’t (re)-paved this place, we ran better here when it wasn’t,” Elliott said.

Watch the full interview above.