Daytona will not ban Confederate flag but will offer flag exchange

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Daytona International Speedway will not ban the Confederate flag but will offer a flag exchange for fans attending this weekend’s NASCAR races there.

“I think the goal of any NASCAR event, and specifically Daytona, we want to be inclusive to everyone,” Joie Chitwood, president of Daytona International Speedway, said Tuesday. “The last thing you want is for anyone to come to a sporting event and really not enjoy that experience because of symbols that really represent things that we’re not proud of.

“For us, we’re celebrating the American Flag this weekend. It’s our nation’s birthday. We’re going to have a flag exchange opportunity. So fans who would like to fly the American Flag, we’ll trade with you on whatever flag you have. We want you to celebrate that flag this weekend.

“Going forward, (we) really have to look at where that other flag goes because it doesn’t have a place in our sport. We’ve got to take a thoughtful process on how we get to that point.”

Chitwood said the track would not ban fans from having the Confederate flag this weekend but would look to what could be done for future events there.

“At this point, with the late nature of where we are, we cannot ban anything, we cannot change our policy,” Chitwood said. “Needless to say, there is a lot of discussion of how we get there and what we can do in the future so we make sure that we celebrate all that is right in this country.”

The action comes in the wake of the June 17 slaying of nine African-Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Roof was arrested and charged with the murders. Images emerged of him posing with the Confederate flag and wearing symbols associated with white supremacy.

NASCAR Chairman Brian France told The Associated Press last weekend that NASCAR would “go as far as we can to eliminate the presence of that flag. I personally find it an offensive symbol, so there is no daylight how we feel about it and our sensitivity to others who feel the same way. We’re working with the industry to see how far we can go to get that flag disassociated entirely from our events.”

NASCAR previously issued a statement that it supported South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s call to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds in Columbia. NASCAR also noted in the statement its “long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon both expressed last weekend their disapproval of the flag.

“I think it is offensive to an entire race,” Earnhardt said. “It really does nothing for anybody to be there, flying. It belongs in the history books and that’s about it.”

 

 

Dale Jr.’s persuasive power impacts chaotic paint scheme poll

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
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An ordinary Twitter poll on a sleepy Tuesday during the offseason took some wild turns when a Hollywood star, athletes from outside of NASCAR and even the son of the President of the United States, Donald Trump Jr. attempted to sway the results.

The poll told a story of pluck and determination – the potential of a dark horse and a grassroots movement determined to defy the odds.

Ultimately, however, it reminded us of just how persuasive Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s Twitter feed can be.

Tuesday’s matchup featured special paint schemes on Austin Dillon and Matt DiBenedetto‘s cars.

At that point, both teams went to work – appealing to their fans to vote.

Around 4 p.m. ET, heavy hitters weighed in for the fight.

Nashville recording artist Chris Lane and Ian Somerhalder, who played Boone Carlyle on “Lost,” appealed for votes on the Dillon car.

But that wasn’t enough to move the ticker in Dillon’s favor. DiBenedtto led the vote 54 to 46 percent.

Donald Trump Jr. jumped in around 7:30 p.m. garnering 500 retweets and 2,500 likes.

Olympic medalist Chris Mazder and Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffrey also appealed for Dillon to win. Overnight, the cumulative effect tipped the scale in favor of the No. 3 for a little while.

Dillon led 58 to 42 percent with 7,000 votes cast.

DiBenedetto’s team, GoFas Racing, appealed to dog owners and swung the pendulum back in their favor. Spooky Snoopy led 51 to 49 percent.

Foul!

Bots! cry RCR.

Dillon tries to fight fire with fire – offering to do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit if only they will turn on their hero DiBenedetto.

It’s not enough. Dillon is seemingly down for the count.

DiBenedetto appears to be cruising to a 60 – 40 percent victory with 20 minutes remaining in the poll.

Until Earnhardt steps in, that is. After all, Dillon’s paint scheme was a tribute to his father Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s 1995 All-Star car.

Another 6,000 votes are cast in less than two minutes. By the time the polls close, 7,000 more roll in for a total of 24,000. Dillon wins 64 to 36 percent.

By a margin of slightly more than 6,600 votes, this was the most cast in NBC’s paint scheme pole. The second best was DiBenedetto versus Kasey Kahne’s Darlington Throwback in the first round, which received 17,329 votes.

Click here to read Dillon’s AMA on Reddit.

How Dale Earnhardt Jr. helped Jeff Gordon avoid speeding ticket

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The Earnhardt name carries a lot of weight and no one knows that more than Jeff Gordon.

The four-time Cup champion was a guest on Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s podcast on Tuesday and during a Q&A session held on YouTube, Gordon was asked about a run-in with a police officer and Earnhardt being on the Gordon’s phone at the right time.

The incident took place in 2007, very close to when Earnhardt was officially announced as joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2008.

Here’s how Gordon remembers the story:

“Maybe it was the day before it was official, but Rick (Hendrick) told me. … So I was driving to dinner and I (thought), ‘I’m going to call him.’ I didn’t have the hands free setup in the car so I just called him. I’m driving along, on the phone, we’re talking and I’m congratulating you and welcoming you to the team. … All of a sudden I’ve got blue lights in my rear window. I’m like, ‘Uh oh, I’m getting pulled over.’ I wasn’t sure if I should stay on the phone with Dale or not. But I said, ‘No, no. Stay on here, I may need you.’

“Luckily I did, because first the guy says to me, ‘You know you’re not supposed to be on your cell phone?’ Then second, ‘You know you were speeding?’ Then I just said, and I never do this, but I said this is the moment where I got to pull this off. I said, ‘I know and I’m sorry. You don’t happen to be a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan, are you?’

“He said, ‘Yeah, why? What does that have to do with anything?’ I said, ‘I’ve got him on the phone, I was congratulating him on something.’ He goes, ‘What?’ and I just handed him the phone off and you spoke to him for just two seconds and got me out of it!”

Said Earnhardt, “I was just trying to make a great impression with my new teammate.”

“He made the greatest impression on me!” said Gordon.

Watch the above video for the full Q&A session with Gordon.

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Vote for best 2018 Cup paint schemes

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It’s time to take stock of the 2018 Cup season.

That means voting in the best paint schemes of the year tournament.

Each day for the next few weeks you can vote right here on your favorite scheme that graced the race track.

Today’s matchup: Jimmie Johnson‘s Lowe’s throwback scheme from the season finale vs Kyle Larson‘s Chicagoland scheme.

Jamie McMurray joins Fox Sports as studio analyst

Fox Sports
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Jamie McMurray will join Fox Sports as a studio analyst for its NASCAR coverage in 2019, the network announced Wednesday.

He will be a studio analyst on “NASCAR Race Hub” and “NASCAR RaceDay.”

McMurray moves into the role after 16 full-time seasons competing in the Cup Series, the last nine driving the No. 1 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing. He has seven wins, 63 top fives and 168 top-10 finishes since 2002.

McMurray’s transition to television comes after he was replaced in the No. 1 Chevrolet by Kurt Busch.

“As my driving career got closer to the end, I thought about doing TV but wasn’t sure until I did a couple of ‘NASCAR Race Hub’ shows at the end of this year,” McMurray said in a press release. “I really enjoyed it more than I expected. It’s a whole new world, but that’s what I am most excited about – the new challenge and discomfort that comes with doing something completely out of my element.”

Ganassi has offered McMurray the opportunity to compete in the 2019 Daytona 500 in a third Ganassi car.

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