Austin Dillon on tribute to Lane Frost and his brother’s ‘upset’ reaction to Daytona crash

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After climbing from the wreckage of his No. 3 Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway, Austin Dillon put his own spin on informing the crowd of his well-being.

Rather than the standard wave acknowledging the support of fans, Dillon made a dual motion with his hands, which he explained Tuesday was a tribute to legendary bull rider Lane Frost.

“He’s probably one of the best bull riders of all time,” Dillon said. “After we won the (Xfinity) race Saturday night, I thought it was a cool tribute to him to kind of start doing that and just embrace it because he was one of my heroes.

“Sunday after the wreck, I thought it was appropriate because that was a pretty wild ride.  I had actually texted one of my buddies.  He’s a bull rider.  His name is Luke Snyder, and he had texted and asked if I was all right and everything.  I said, ‘Yeah, man, screw riding bulls.’  But he’s like, ‘I don’t know about that.  Maybe screw racing.’ and I said, ‘No, I love what I do. ‘

“But it’s fun to kind of look back at the way I have now because that was a really crazy wreck and just got to thank NASCAR and the good Lord above for taking good care of me.  They did a great job to make our car safe, and I’m here today talking to you guys and feeling pretty good.”

Dillon said he spent much of Monday looking at photos and replays of the airborne crash, which tore down a 60-foot section of the Daytona catchfence.

“I checked out a little bit of everything,” he said. “I looked at photos, I looked at fans’ videos on YouTube. I’ve looked at a little bit of everything, like I said.  At first after getting through the infield care center, I didn’t know if I wanted to watch it.  After I took a shower, cooled down, I was like, ‘All right, here we go, let’s start watching them.’

“I watched a lot of videos, and just watching it in live speed, it is violent looking.  It’s a wicked crash.  When you see the fence, the thing just blows apart.  But for me, I think it kind of set in when I got to talk to my brother (Ty).  I already got into the infield care center, I was pretty much fine.  I wasn’t shaken, and I was just kind of telling my parents, ‘I’m OK, I’m OK,’ and talking to them.  You could see how upset they were, and I hadn’t seen the real footage of the wreck.  I knew it was bad but I didn’t know how bad.

“When I talked to my brother, it was was another level because he was upset, and hearing him on the phone upset, it was like, ‘Man, I’m going to have to watch this,’ because he’s a tough guy, and to hear him be upset about it and worried about me, it was like, all right, I need to look at this wreck.”

During a Tuesday teleconference with the national media, Dillon addressed several topics related to his wild ride at Daytona.

On the nature of restrictor-plate racing in the wake of disparaging comments by teammate Ryan Newman:

       I have to make my own opinion, first of all, and I have a lot of respect for everybody at NASCAR and the drivers.  Going through something like that, there’s other drivers that have gone through wrecks similar.  This is probably one of the most violent ones, obviously, and I feel like my opinion was I’m here today talking to you guys, and right now my groin is a little sore, my tailbone is a little sore, but other than that, my head and my neck, which is the most important part to me, I have no headache, I have ‑‑ my traps are like a little sore just from tightening up before the wreck, you know, making sure I was tight when I hit the car so I wasn’t too relaxed when I hit the fence.

But I think it’s pretty impressive to see how far we’ve come after learning from other wrecks, the black box that NASCAR takes and looks at to see the impacts and how far we’ve come to change the different chassis bars in the car to strengthen the roof.  The roof looked like the cage itself held up well.  The catchfence did its job.  It kicked things back into the track where we needed to.

A lot of things have innovated to make everybody still safe today.  Luckily the fans are all in good shape.  We’re obviously going to probably enhance more safety after this, and we’ll keep developing as our sport grows, and I think NASCAR has got the people there to do that.

I will definitely be another advocate for safety myself.  If I can help them in any way, I’ll do that.  But I’m just happy to be in the position I am.  I’ve had worse injuries playing football growing up and stuff like that.”

On how his team handled the aftermath:

           I came to the shop yesterday, talked to a few different people.  I talked to my interior guy that kind of bolts everything in.  I think that’s probably one of the worst fears for a guy that does interior is the safety of the driver.  It’s what his main focus is, and I went and thanked him this morning as soon as I got here for keeping all the bolts tight, doing his job.

Different guys you see are shaken up more by it, but they’re proud of their work and glad it was safe and that I’m safe and we get to go race this weekend at Kentucky.

On if the involvement of the No. 3 in a Daytona crash was unsettling because of its link to Dale Earnhardt (killed in the 2001 Daytona 500):

          Yeah, I haven’t talked to a lot of people about that.  Had a few different questions about it, but the way I look at it is I think from what I’ve learned from those crashes, for instance, what happened to Dale, our sport has taken a whole turn of 360 degrees, and it’s all about safety, and we’ve been able to learn from our mistakes in the past, and that’s what you have to do.  You have to learn from history and develop and innovate new ways to make our sport safe, and technology has come a long way.

The safety, from the Dow foam in the car and everything, every little bit goes a long way.  I think just what we’ve been able to do to look at a horrific crash like that and be able to develop from it, and we’ll develop from this one just like we have in the past.

On if having fans injured for the third time in three years at Daytona tarnishes the track:

           I sure hope not.  I think that just adds to what it is at Daytona in some way.  I think when you go there, you’re going to see some wild and crazy things happen.  It seems like there’s always a story line at Daytona, no matter if it comes from qualifying, practice, race, there’s always going to be a story line there.  I don’t know what it is, there’s something magical about the place.  Things happen there.  For me, I think we just keep developing our sport into new ways.

You can’t blame things on Daytona.  I feel like it’s a racetrack that has done its job to put on good races.  We just have to keep developing to keep our stands safer, our drivers safer, and do what we can as a sport to develop and bring new technology, like I said, to keep it safe.

But for me, I think you can’t tarnish Daytona.  For me even after wrecking like that, I got to experience one of the greatest things in winning there the night before that, and it’s a part of it, and I still had a good finish on Sunday.  I finished seventh.  That was pretty cool.

It’s a wild place that you have lots of up and downs and you have to be able to ride them and have a good attitude going into it.

On grandfather Richard Childress’ reaction:

         Yeah, I think I just ‑‑ going back to watching it in live speed, I think it was way worse for everyone at home watching and for him watching it.  He had a good view of the wreck.  And then also, the worst part for family members is you want to let them know you’re okay after a wreck through the radio because they’re listening, and the radio cord had ripped or something had ripped to make it ‑‑ I could hear them but they couldn’t hear me, so it was one of those deals where I knew they were upset and I felt bad because I couldn’t get to them.  The steering wheel had done its job, it kind of had released and was up in the roof.  I grabbed it and pulled it back to me and keyed the mic to let them know I was okay, but they weren’t able to hear anything.  It was just kind of a ‑‑ I was saying I’m okay, I’m okay, but it wasn’t going through, and I could hear in their voice how scared they were, and they were saying, Talk to me, Buddy, talk to me, and I couldn’t respond to them, so that was a time for them I’m sure it was just painful because they didn’t know how good I was.  Luckily the guys had gotten there fast enough, gave everybody the thumbs up to let them know that I was fine.

On if future crashes can be prevented:

            I think we can do some things to prevent these accidents for sure.  I think we need to, and we can.  And that’s why I said that they’ve taken the car to NASCAR and they’ll look at the car and figure out ways to keep them on the ground.  I think we’re trying to keep them from getting in the air, and we’ll do what we can.

The way the racing is set up now, it prevents ‑‑ it doesn’t prevent, it breeds these kind of wrecks.  It’s three‑wide pack racing, and at Daytona it’s tighter than Talladega, there’s less room.  I think if you’re at Talladega, this wreck might not happen because it’s a little bit wider.  But it’s just a part of the racing that we’re in right now.

I think we can do things to help slow down some of the wrecks and might keep us from catching air, but we’ll just have to see the direction that NASCAR goes, and maybe they’ll ask the drivers their opinions, and we can give them a good opinion to kind of go together to make the racing still stay the same.  I feel like we can create good racing because up until that wreck we had some really good racing Monday morning, but I think the wreck kind of tarnished a great race.

We’ll work and develop ways to make it where we’re not flying through the air.

On rival team members coming to his aid:

            The first guy that got to my guy was the GEICO crew from Casey Mears’ team, and it was kind of funny, I almost laughed. Because when he first got to my car, I thought it was Casey Mears.  I was like, ‘How did Casey Mears get out of his car and get to me that quick?’ because it felt like six seconds, seven seconds before the first crew had got there, and it sounded like Casey and had the same GEICO suit and everything.  I was like, man, Casey got here fast.  That’s crazy.

But it was one of the crew members there.  And I couldn’t ‑‑ there was someone on the right side, but I couldn’t tell who it was, and it was obviously Junior’s crew.  But it was cool to see all those guys get there.  Some of my guys even got there and they were pretty far down pit road to get to me, and it was special to have those guys get there.

On his speed during the crash:

       I’ve heard numbers.  I don’t know ‑‑ I don’t have factual information.  I heard 198 from one of my friends.  I’d say you’re anywhere between 190 and 198 is probably accurate.  But I don’t have a true reading.  I will give you that when I have factual information to tell me how fast we were going.

 

Goodyear renews agreement to remain NASCAR tire supplier

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NASCAR and Goodyear have entered into a new multi-year agreement maintaining Goodyear’s role as the exclusive tire for NASCAR’s top three national series. 

Goodyear also will be the title sponsor for the Cup race at Darlington Raceway in May 2023. Goodyear and NASCAR’s relationship dates back nearly 70 years and is one of the longest-running affiliations in any sport.

“From our manufacturing plants to offices around the world, racing is ingrained in our culture, and the importance of our relationship with NASCAR is reflected in the quality, performance and engineering we put into every Goodyear Eagle race tire,” said Richard J. Kramer, chairman, chief executive officer and president at Goodyear, in a statement. “Our performance on the racetrack plays an active role in the success of the sport and inspires the development of our consumer tires, fueling our commitment to take performance and innovation to the next level.”

Goodyear produces more than 100,000 tires for NASCAR’s top three series each year at Goodyear’s global headquarters in Akron, Ohio.

“Goodyear has been a trusted partner to the NASCAR industry since 1954, playing a critical role in our shared pursuit to deliver the best racing in the world,” said Steve Phelps, president of NASCAR, in a statement. “For more than 25 years, Goodyear Eagle tires have been the only component that connects the stock car to the racetrack. Our continued partnership will allow us to push boundaries and innovate our racing product for generations to come.”  

Jes Ferreira selected as Comcast Community Champion of the Year

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Comcast announced Jes Ferreira as the 2022 Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award, the eighth to receive the annual award. Among all the turmoil of the pandemic, Ferreira looked for an opportunity to give back. Despite her heavy workload, she decided to take on an even heavier challenge, becoming a foster parent to two young girls. 

“I am overwhelmed, humbled, and blown away to be recognized as the Comcast Community Champion of the Year,” said Jes Ferreira, 2022 Comcast Community Champion, “the amount of support this will provide for the Charlotte foster families ensures the best services for these children. I hope this sheds light on the foster community and encourages everyone to support in many different ways.” 

Ferreira, originally earned a foster license to become a foster parent for one child, but a few months later, the child’s younger sibling needed a new foster home. Although Ferreira, Senior Director of Live Shows for CSM Production, already had a crazy work schedule which included traveling to the race track most weekends on top of fostering one child as a single parent, she knew without a doubt these two siblings deserved to be together while in foster care. Now two young siblings who are going through the most trying time in their lives have been reunited thanks to Ferreira. 

On any given day, there are nearly 424,000 children in foster care in the United States. In 2019, over 672,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care. On average, children remain in state care for over a year and a half, and five percent of children in foster care have languished there for five or more years.  

Ferreira’s affiliated charity is Foster Village Charlotte (FVC), an organization that allows foster parents to connect with and support each other. FVC collaborates with 16 private foster parent licensing agencies, local government, child welfare organizations and the community to serve families holistically and represent the foster family voice to Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS). 

To further honor Jes’ incredible dedication, Comcast will donate $60,000 to Foster Village Charlotte (FVC).

“Jes encompasses everything the Comcast Community Champion of the Year stands for. Anyone that is at the track knows how dedicated Jes is to the sport of NASCAR and, we are so glad we expanded the eligibility for this award so we can uncover and honor the compassion, selflessness and generosity Jes provides off the track, and that is what makes this honor so special, ” said Matt Lederer, Comcast’s Vice President, Brand Partnerships and Amplification.  

 Ferreira, was chosen by a panel comprised of Comcast and NASCAR executives, as well as Curtis Francois, the 2021 Comcast Community Champion, who received the award for his work with the Raceway Gives Foundation 

For the first time, Comcast opened the eligibility for anyone in the NASCAR community with a 2022 annual credential or NASCAR full season license, and with this expansion, Comcast is now able to share these exceptional stories.   

Josh Williams, driver of the #92 DGM Racing car for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Sherry Pollex, founder of Sherry Strong, were selected as finalists and will be awarded $30,000 each towards their respective selected charities – the Ryan Seacrest Foundation and Sherry Strong. 

Comcast has a long track record of community service, aiding in the advancement of local organizations, developing programs and partnerships, mobilizing resources to connect people and inspiring positive and substantive change. To learn more about these efforts, visit the Comcast Community Impact site. 

About Comcast Corporation’s Partnership with NASCAR 

Comcast’s Xfinity brand entered NASCAR as entitlement partner of the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2015 and is now Premier Partner of the NASCAR Cup Series. Since then, the company has donated $840,000 to more than 20 different NASCAR-affiliated organizations to honor their efforts and to help further the impact of their worthy causes. Fans can visit ComcastCommunityChampion.com to learn more about past and present finalists and their acts of selflessness. 

Where are they now? Scott Riggs races with son, Layne

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Scott Riggs, who raced for 15 years in NASCAR’s top three national series, now is guiding the racing career of his 20-year-old son, Layne.

And things are going well.

Layne won this year’s NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model championship, scoring 16 wins in 43 starts and edging former series champion Peyton Sellers by four points for the title.

Riggs thus became the youngest champion in Weekly Series history.

“It all started when Layne was 10 years old, mostly just something to entertain him and to have some fun,” Scott told NBC Sports. “But it’s turned into a full-fledged job. My life and plate have been full.”

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: Memorable quotes

The Riggs family’s race shop is located in Bahama, North Carolina, Riggs’ home base during his NASCAR career. Scott describes himself as the “truck driver, spotter, crew chief and in-shop mechanic.”

“I am very tired,” he said.

The team, which depends on volunteers, didn’t plan to race in so many events this season, but when Layne started the year with a string of victories, it made sense to chase the national championship and give him a chance to be the youngest winner ever.

“To chase it that hard and be that close and then to win it, it was very exhausting,” Scott said. “It was a very big relief to finish the year.”

Success on short tracks resulted in Layne racing in three Camping World Truck Series events this year with Halmar Racing. He had a best finish of seventh at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in his series debut.

MORE: Snowball Derby attracts top NASCAR drivers

Scott Riggs ended his NASCAR driving career in 2014 in the Truck Series. He won five Truck races and four Xfinity races and ran 208 Cup races without a win. He made his Truck debut in 1999, moved to Xfinity in 2002 (winning Rookie of the Year) and then to Cup in 2004.

Riggs, now 51, raced in the Cup Series from 2004-13 with stops at MB2 Motorsports and with teams owned by Gene Haas, Tommy Baldwin and Ray Evernham, among others. He had four top-five finishes.

“I think I was very fortunate and the timing was right for me to move up through the ranks and get so many good opportunities,” Riggs said. “I raced late models for a long time, and then all of a sudden I got the opportunity to get in a truck. Won some races and poles and won races and poles in Xfinity.”

MORE: Jody Ridley’s upset for the ages

He ran out of chances in Cup as team models shifted, including some downsizing and mergers.

“I felt like I couldn’t get an opportunity that I had worked for and earned,” Riggs said. “It was hard for me. I was bitter for a year or so. But I look back, and a realization came over me that I was fortunate to have that time with my kids when they were at the right ages. I got to watch them do their things and just be the dad I wanted to be — not being gone four out of every seven days racing.

“I don’t think I’d have the relationship I have today with my kids if I had had a longer time in the sport.”

 

 

NASCAR Power Rankings: Memorable quotes through the years

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The best quotes from drivers and others involved in NASCAR competition often come in the heat of the moment — after a crash or a close finish or a controversial decision by officials.

NASCAR’s history is filled with memorable quotes from drivers who won races to drivers who watched wins slip away to officials caught in a moment of history.

Here’s a look at 10 that stand out:

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. “I didn’t mean to turn him around. I meant to rattle his cage, though.” — Dale Earnhardt, describing how he didn’t mean to wreck Terry Labonte after he wrecked Labonte on the last lap at Bristol Motor Speedway to win the Aug. 28, 1999 race.

2. “They have a golden horseshoe stuck up their ass. There’s no way to get around that.” — Kevin Harvick, Feb. 21, 2010, offering his opinion on why Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports team won so many races after Johnson outran him to win at Auto Club Speedway.

MORE: An upset for the ages: Jody Ridley wins at Dover

3. “It’s a stump-puller.” — Sterling Marlin, emphasizing the strength of his engine after he won the Daytona 500 Feb. 19, 1995.

4. “It’s probably not his fault. His wife wears the firesuit in the family and tells him what to do.” — Joey Logano, talking about Kevin Harvick after they were involved in a late-race crash at Pocono Raceway June 6, 2010. Harvick’s wife, DeLana, often wore a firesuit similar to those worn by team members during races.

5. “Do you have a brother?” — Ward Burton, responding to a reporter who asked if it was tougher to finish second because the race winner was his brother, Jeff, March 7, 1999 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

MORE: Memorable images from 2022 NASCAR season

6. “I couldn’t hear him. He’s got that little yap-yap mouth. I couldn’t tell what he was saying.” — Ricky Rudd, commenting on what Kevin Harvick said to him after they wrecked at Richmond Raceway, Sept. 6, 2003.

7. “We can’t race with tears in our eyes.” — team owner Robert Yates, explaining why his team would not participate in the next week’s race after its driver, Davey Allison, was killed in a helicopter crash, July 1993.

8. “He’d have to toast everyone with milk.” — Dale Earnhardt, commenting on the celebratory drink choice Jeff Gordon might make if he ever won the Cup championship. After he won the 1995 Cup title, Gordon followed through, toasting his championship with a glass of milk at the awards banquet.

MORE: 2023 NASCAR, ARCA schedules

9. “You know they say there’s talkers and doers. I’ve done this twice.” — Tony Stewart, winning the pre-race trash-talk contest with Carl Edwards prior to the 2011 race for the championship. Stewart had won the title in 2002 and 2005 and notched another over Edwards in 2011.

10. “This is undoubtedly one of the toughest announcements that I’ve ever personally had to make, but after the accident in Turn 4 of the Daytona 500 we’ve lost Dale Earnhardt.” — NASCAR President Mike Helton, confirming Earnhardt’s death at Daytona International Speedway, Feb. 18, 2001.

Honorable mentions: David Pearson, after being told that Richard Petty had said Pearson was the best driver he ever raced against: “I agree with him.” … CBS broadcaster Ken Squier, calling the famous finish of the 1979 Daytona 500: “And there’s a fight between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison! The tempers, overflowing. They are angry. They know they have lost. And what a bitter defeat.” … NASCAR founder Bill France, providing a unique ending to a pre-race prayer after temporarily forgetting to use Amen: “Sincerely, Bill France.”