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Today’s Cup race at Talladega: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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NASCAR heads to Alabama for its second of four restrictor-plate races this season. Can Dale Earnhardt Jr. score his seventh career win at Talladega? Can Team Penske score its fourth consecutive Talladega win? Or will there be a new winner? Those are among the questions that will be answered today.

Here are the particulars for the race:

 (All times are ET)

START: Frank Pickering, assistant VP of Southeast Claims for GEICO, will give the command for drivers to start engines at 2:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 2:19 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 188 laps (500 miles) around the 2.66-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 55. Stage 2 ends on Lap 110.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Cup garage opens at 9:30 a.m. The drivers meeting is at noon. Driver introductions are at 1:20 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: The 313th U.S. Army Band will perform the Anthem at 2:01 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 2 p.m. with its coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at mrn.com. MRN’s coverage begins at 1 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 68 degrees at race time with a zero percent chance of rain.

LAST YEAR: Brad Keselowski led 46 of 188 laps to win this event last year. Kyle Busch placed second and Austin Dillon third.

LAST TIMEJoey Logano led the final 45 laps to earn the victory in October. Brian Scott placed second and Denny Hamlin third.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for Cup starting lineup

Brian Scott gives update on his new job, life after retiring from racing

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If you were worried about what would happen to Brian Scott after his retirement from NASCAR racing, you need not fear.

Scott already has a new job one month after his last Premier Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The former Richard Petty Motorsports driver is staying close to the world of cars. Scott now has a desk at Rimz One, a company that sells tires, wheels and other car accessories.

Scott made 53 Cup Series starts in four years and was a Xfinity Series regular for six seasons. Now the native of Boise, Idaho, is taking advantage of the more flexible schedule that comes with no longer being a NASCAR driver.

A few days ago Scott finally achieved a dream he started pursuing in 2004 before he went after his racing career. After mastering race tracks, Scott will now try to tame the sky.

Oh, and Scott also had a close encounter with a Lemur.

This thing was all hopped up on Mountain Dew and came at me like a spider monkey.

A post shared by Brian (@bscottracing) on

NASCAR celebrates Jimmie Johnson’s seventh championship

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NASCAR’s 2016 Sprint Cup season closed with a mix of poignant moments, humor and a celebration of one of the greatest drivers in the sport’s history who declared he’s no Richard Petty or Dale Earnhardt.

Jimmie Johnson ended his six-minute speech in Friday night’s Sprint Cup Awards at Wynn Las Vegas by harkening to a quote from Dale Earnhardt after Earnhardt tied Richard Petty with seven championships in 1994: “I might have won as many championships as Richard Petty but he will always be the King.’’

Then Johnson said: “I completely agree and must say I might have won as many championships as Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, but I will never be the King or the Intimidator. I’m just a guy from California who always wanted to race. Thank you all and have a great night.’’

Johnson’s speech ended the formal celebration of his seventh championship, which included 23-time gold medalist Michael Phelps introducing Johnson and fellow drivers congratulating Johnson throughout the 3-hour, 31-minute program.

But Johnson had to share the spotlight on this night. The sport also celebrated Tony Stewart’s retirement from the series as a driver.

A night after drivers roasted Stewart at the “After the Lap” event, drivers had a bit more fun in a video clip for Stewart. Kyle Busch later jokingly thanked Stewart for preparing car owner Joe Gibbs for Busch’s arrival, noting the headaches both have caused the owner through the years.

NASCAR surprised Stewart by having Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder appear and speak about his friend. Then NASCAR surprised Vedder by announcing a $1.8 million donation on Stewart’s behalf to the EB Research Partnership, which was co-founded by Vedder to find a cure for Epidermolysis Bullosa, a devastating skin disorder.

This also was a night that NASCAR said farewell to Sprint as series sponsor. Monster Energy becomes the entitlement sponsor next season.

And Dale Earnhardt Jr. was awarded his 14th consecutive NMPA Most Popular Driver Award. After winning the award, Earnhardt confirmed he’ll wed Amy Reimann on Dec. 31.

The night also had its fun moments, from Denny Hamlin stating on stage: “I got to pee so bad. We’ve got to get this over with. It’s bad you all, I’m telling you.’’

Among host Jay Mohr’s better lines was one about Joey Logano, saying to the driver “you finished first at Talladega, which is amazing. Your jack finished 12th.’’

Mohr also made fun of Stewart’s retirement, saying: “Biggest story this season in NASCAR, in my opinion, was the retirement of a NASCAR icon, a superstar, a NASCAR legend. Brian Scott.’’

In the end, the focus turned to Johnson and all that he has accomplished.

“It’s an amazing task to just win one, let alone seven (championships),’’ Kurt Busch said. “Names like Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. When you say names like those, you think of their amazing accomplishments and contributions to NASCAR racing. Welcome to that club Jimmie.’’

No driver was safe during Jay Mohr’s opening monologue (video)

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Jay Mohr was back to host the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards for his sixth time Friday night in Las Vegas and he came prepared with a fresh monologue.

After Sting opened the show with a performance, Mohr welcomed everyone to what the drivers call “the annual Jimmie Johnson Las Vegas hoedown.” Mohr then took on everyone from Tony Stewart to Jeff Gordon and Chase Elliott. Of course, he even poked fun at himself.

Here are some of Mohr’s best jokes while the entire opening segment can be seen above:

On Brian Scott: “Biggest story this season in NASCAR, in my opinion, was the retirement of a NASCAR icon, a superstar, a NASCAR legend. Brian Scott.”

On Tony Stewart’s dune buggy accident: “How did it take two hours to find Tony Stewart? … Kevin Harvick‘s pit crew could have gotten to him in like an hour and 20 minutes tops.”

On Jeff Gordon: “Everyone likes Jeff’s work on TV, except, well Chase Elliott does not like it because when he watches the races after the fact, he doesn’t like the fact that when the 24 car goes by, Jeff Gordon goes, ‘Wow, there’s me but slower.'”

More on Jeff Gordon: “By the way, Jeff hosted Saturday Night Live. I was on Saturday Night Live for three years and he was in more sketches than me.”

On Chase Elliott: “I saw Chase Elliott backstage. I owe him an apology because I didn’t say hi. I thought he was Fred Savage from The Wonder Years.”

On Joey Logano: “You finished first at Talladega, which is amazing. Your jack finished 12th.”

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Sprint Cup pole winners list after 2016

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The 2016 Sprint Cup season saw three veterans set career marks for poles in a season and two drivers earn their first poles.

Carl Edwards (six), Martin Truex Jr. (five) and Austin Dillon (two) achieved personal bests during the 36-race season, which had 14 different pole winners.

Chase Elliott started the year with his first pole in the Daytona 500. Then in the fall race at Phoenix International Raceway, Alex Bowman, substituting for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88, won his first pole in the Can-Am 500.

Despite not having won a pole since 2013, Ryan Newman still has a huge lead over active full-time drivers with 51 poles. And despite saying multiple times this season he’s not very good at qualifying, Jimmie Johnson added to his second best total with his 35th pole.

Tony Stewart ended his Sprint Cup career with 15 poles.

Here’s a look at how the list of active full-time drivers with poles looks after 2016.

Ryan Newman – 51 poles; Last – 2013 Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire

Jimmie Johnson – 35 poles; Last – 2016 New Hampshire 301

Kasey Kahne – 27 poles; Last – 2015 Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan

Denny Hamlin – 24 poles; Last – 2016 Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond

Carl Edwards – 22 poles; Last – 2016 Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire

Kurt Busch  21 poles; Last – 2016 Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas

Kyle Busch – 19 poles; Last – 2016 Brickyard 400

Matt Kenseth  18 poles; Last – 2016 Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas

Joey Logano – 17 poles; Last – 2016 Pure Michigan 400

Kevin Harvick – 17 poles; Last – 2016 Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead

Greg Biffle – 13 poles; Last – 2016 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 13 poles; Last – 2013 AAA 400 at Dover

Martin Truex Jr. – 12 poles; Last – 2016 Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville

Brad Keselowski –  12 poles; Last – 2016 Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400 at Pocono

Jamie McMurray – 11 poles; Last –  2014 Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville

AJ Allmendinger – four poles; Last – 2015 Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen

Casey Mears – three poles; Last – 2007 USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland

Austin Dillon – three poles; Last – 2016 AAA Texas 500

David Ragan – two poles; Last – 2011 Brickyard 400

Clint Bowyer – two poles; Last – 2007 Sylvania 300

Chase Elliott – two poles; Last – 2016 Geico 500 at Talladega

Danica Patrick – one pole; Last – 2013 Daytona 500

Paul Menard – one pole; Last – 2009 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – one pole; 2013 AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta

Kyle Larson – one pole; 2014 GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono

Aric Almirola – one pole; 2012 Coca-cola 600 at Charlotte