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After cancer diagnosis, NASCAR, IndyCar to honor John Andretti with #CheckIt4Andretti decals

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NASCAR and the Verizon IndyCar Series will both honor former driver John Andretti next weekend with decals that raise awareness about getting colonoscopies after the former driver was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer.

All cars in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 will have the decals, which are headed with the hashtag “CheckIt4Andretti.”

Andretti, 54, was the first driver to attempt “The Double” of competing in the Indianapolis 500 and Coke 600 in the same day.

Andretti was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Thursday for a press conference to update his cancer battle and discuss the importance of getting colonoscopies.

“I turned 50 several years ago, and every year I get a physical, and I go through and I understand what’s happening,” Andretti said. “One thing I was always lacking was a colonoscopy, and you would ask about it or whatever, and I’d forget about it. I never avoided it. It just didn’t happen.

“And unfortunately my wife has an issue that she has to go get them several times. And so she was in getting hers, and I decided to schedule mine. … But I was about three minutes away from walking out of the next doctor’s office because patience is not my strong suit. And so fortunately I didn’t, and immediately after the colonoscopy, they scheduled a surgeon. I was in surgery a few days later to have a tumor removed and another cancer spot. Unfortunately, the tumor had spread outside the colon.”

The initial surgery removed 12-14 inches of his colon and scans showed the cancer had spread to his liver and possibly his spleen. Doctors don’t know for sure because spleens can’t be biopsied.

Another surgery is scheduled and will take place halfway through his chemo treatments. Andretti will do chemo treatments in Indianapolis and North Carolina.

Dr. Paul Helft, Andretti’s oncologist in Indianapolis, said colon cancer affects 150,000 people a year, roughly 10 percent of all cancer patients in the United States.

“It’s been a struggle, but the people around me have made it really — you know, much easier, the prayers and everybody that’s reached out to me,” Andretti said.

A two-time Cup winner, Andretti said his cousin Michael Andretti and others underwent a colonoscopy after he told them he wouldn’t go public with is ailment unless they did.

“I figured I’d never get him to go so I would never have to go public with it, and two weeks later he’s doing it,” John Andretti said. “He fought a little bit, but he didn’t fight hard.”

The special decals are not the only way Andretti and his cause are being honored in the NASCAR world. This weekend, the No. 34 Ford of Landon Cassill will have #CheckIt4Andretti logos on it.

“John was the original driver of the No. 34 when Bob Jenkins first ran the car full-time in the Cup series, and he’s still a good friend of Bob’s and a friend of the team,” Cassill said in a press release. “We’re all thinking about him as he battles colon cancer, and we want to help spread his message. He’s been using his diagnosis as a platform to encourage everybody to go to the doctor and get checked, and we’re happy to help spread that message in his name.”

 and on Facebook

Social roundup: Aric Almirola’s violent wreck prompts wave of driver concern

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NASCAR drivers reacted en masse on Twitter to the wreck that sent Aric Almirola to the hospital Saturday night. Richard Petty Motorsports released a statement early Sunday that the driver was in stable condition and held overnight for observation.

Almirola’s No. 43 Ford briefly went airborne after colliding with the cars of Joey Logano and Danica Patrick during the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway.

NASCAR said Almirola was airlifted to the University of Kansas Medical Center for observation.

Here’s a selection of the well wishes for Almirola:

Who will win the fan vote to race in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race? You decide

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The polls are open and waiting for your vote.

It’s time choose your favorite driver to run in next weekend’s 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR All Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The race takes place May 20th and the single driver that earns the most fan votes will receive an automatic berth in the main event.

Voting is currently taking place.

Fans can vote once per day at NASCAR.com/fanvote, and votes shared on Facebook or Twitter count double. Also, don’t forget to use the hashtags #AllStarRace and #FanVote on social media.

Voting closes May 19 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Here’s the list of eligible drivers that are on the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race Fan Vote ballot:

AJ Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Landon Cassill, Matt DiBenedetto, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chase Elliott, Timmy Hill, Erik Jones, Corey LaJoie, Michael McDowell, Paul Menard, Danica Patrick, David Ragan, Reed Sorenson, Daniel Suárez and Cole Whitt.

Bump & Run: Who is next driver to snap long winless drought?

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Dale Jarrett and Parker Kligerman, who appear on NASCAR America from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. ET today, join Nate Ryan and Dustin Long, to answer this week’s questions.

This season has seen two drivers snap winless droughts of more than 90 races: Phoenix winner Ryan Newman (127-race winless drought) and Talladega winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (158-race drought). Who is next to win among drivers who have gone more than 90 starts without a Cup win? (* list below)

Parker Kligerman: Well the easiest answer here is Clint Bowyer. From the doldrums of outside top-30 equipment to now being a part of one of the top organizations in the sport, I can’t imagine a world in which Clint does not win. With that out of the way, I feel Austin Dillon could be a moderate shot of breaking a winless streak, but that may be better said as getting his first win. Lastly, Kasey Kahne is approaching 100 races winless at one of the largest, most successful race teams in the entire world. As Kyle Petty has said “Where is Kasey Kahne” I think Kasey has to be asking “Where is Victory Lane?” 

Dale Jarrett: The two that I look at are Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray. I think they are both performing well enough that it can happen, pretty much any place and any time. I really give the edge to Jamie McMurray. I think that team and that organization right now, with the way Kyle Larson has performed and Jamie has too, he’s performed and continued to get better. If I look at the two restrictor-plate races to this point, I think he maybe had the fastest car. I think there’s a good chance that he might win Daytona or Talladega, but I think he might win even before then. Bowyer, I believe, is going to win before the year is out.

Nate Ryan: Jamie McMurray. If they were rerunning the final 10 laps of Talladega today, he might be ending this streak now. Kansas Speedway would mark a nice homecoming of sorts, too, for the Joplin, Missouri, native who is providing confirmation that points leader Kyle Larson’s success is indicative of across-the-board improvement at Chip Ganassi Racing.

A close second for the next first-place finisher is Clint Bowyer, then Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne, Trevor Bayne and Aric Almirola.

Dustin Long: Jamie McMurray has shown more speed and more consistency and is a good bet to be the next among this group to end a winless drought. He has six top-10 finishes in the first 10 races. Now it’s just a matter of turning those into more top fives as teammate Kyle Larson has done.

* DRIVERS WINLESS IN AT LEAST THE LAST 90 CUP RACES

Reed Sorenson (271)

Landon Cassill (233)

Michael McDowell (223)

Paul Menard (206)

Danica Patrick (164)

Clint Bowyer (159)

David Ragan (144)

Trevor Bayne (138)

Austin Dillon (131)

Jamie McMurray (122)

Cole Whitt (122)

Aric Almirola (100 races)

AJ Allmendinger (96 races)

Kasey Kahne (93 races)

NASCAR competes on 1.5-mile tracks the rest of the month with Saturday’s race at Kansas Speedway and the following two weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600. What driver(s) and/or team(s) will you be watching close the rest of the month?

Parker Kligerman: This is a tough one as there are so many I will be keeping a close eye on. 

  • First would have to be Joe Gibbs Racing and seeing if they can finally get into victory lane. 
  • Second would be Ganassi. I want to see if this race team can continue to display the raw speed that they have early in this season, as the races get hotter and the tracks shift toward 1.5 miles in length. This will be the litmus test if they are truly championship material. 
  • Lastly, our newest winners in Roush Fenway Racing. Can this race team continue to show performances that warrant them being a part of the playoffs in what feels like a generation ago when they were a lock for such a berth. 

Dale Jarrett: I’m watching the drivers at Joe Gibbs Racing. What are they going to do? This has been their strong suit, especially over the six months at the end of 2015 and then all of last year, they performed at a high level at these types of tracks.

This is just in my mind thinking that it seems that they have been more to the conservative side with the skew and the rear end where others have been willing to take that chance, get their win and then maybe they back off a little from that. It just seems like they haven’t given that much to their drivers, and are they going to bite the bullet and say, ‘OK, this is what it is going to take, we’ve got to figure out a way to do this.’ I know they don’t like getting caught pushing the issue too much, but I really believe it’s going to take something like that. I’m going to keep my eye on them because Kansas and Charlotte are places that they perform well whenever their team is at their peak.

Nate Ryan: Joe Gibbs Racing. After Denny Hamlin predicted last week that Talladega would be his best chance at a win for “a few months” and identified 1.5-mile tracks as the team’s major Achilles’ heel, it naturally put some focus on how JGR does at the next three events and tracks that comprise two of the five 1.5-mile ovals in the playoffs (and two-thirds of the second round).

Kansas and Charlotte will serve as a barometer of how much teams need to improve their aerodynamics/horsepower combinations to be championship contenders four months from now.

Dustin Long: Naturally, Joe Gibbs Racing. I want to see how they perform, what kind of improvement they’ve shown on the 1.5-mile tracks. Another team I’ll keep an eye on is Hendrick Motorsports. Can Dale Earnhardt Jr. start to come back from his slow start? What about Kasey Kahne? Can Chase Elliott continue his strong runs on 1.5-mile tracks. Can Jimmie Johnson show more strength?

Watch Dale Jarrett and Parker Kligerman from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. ET on NASCAR America on NBCSN.

NASCAR All-Star fan poll now open

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Fans can vote on who should make it to the All-Star Race, scheduled for May 20 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Fans can vote once a day at NASCAR.com/fanvote. Fans can vote once per day and votes shared on Facebook or Twitter count double.

Polls close at 11:59 p.m. ET on May 19.

Those on the ballot are:

AJ Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Landon Cassill, Matt DiBenedetto, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chase Elliott, Timmy Hill, Erik Jones, Corey LaJoie, Michael McDowell, Paul Menard, Danica Patrick, David Ragan, Reed Sorenson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Daniel Suárez and Cole Whitt.