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.

 

NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge continues at 7 pm ET on NBCSN

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After its debut Monday night, the iRacing component of Racing Week in America on NBCSN continues tonight at 7 p.m. ET.

The NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge began on a virtual Rockingham Speedway, with William Byron sweeping the two heat races and Kyle Busch receiving the Peacock Provisional from Steve Letarte.

The next round of the challenge will be held on a virtual Lucas Oil Raceway, a 0.686-mile track located outside Indianapolis that hosted the Xfinity Series from 1982-2011 and the Truck Series from 1995-2011.

Wednesday night’s races will be at a virtual Myrtle Beach Speedway.

The winners of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night’s races will advance to the championship round, Thursday night on a virtual Martinsville Speedway.

Here is the driver lineup for the remaining nights:

Tuesday at Lucas Oil Raceway: Justin Allgaier, Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, Harrison Burton, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Wednesday at Myrtle Beach Speedway: Landon Cassill, Matt DiBenedetto, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Timmy Hill, Ryan Preece and Myatt Snider.

How NASCAR tracks are helping during COVID-19 pandemic

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With COVID-19 pandemic continuing to take a toll on the world, more NASCAR tracks are stepping up to help out local communities in their time of need.

They join Charlotte Motor Speedway, which became the first professional sports facility in the country to host a COVID-19 test site starting last month, while Eldora Speedway in Ohio donated almost 3,000 face masks to its surrounding commmunity.

Here’s a look at tracks that are helping out:

Atlanta Motor Speedway

The track in Hampton, Georgia, has announced an American Red Cross blood drive on May 4.

The drive will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET in Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Tara Ballroom, located within the AMS Condo Building at 1500 Tara Place.

To ensure all participants have the opportunity to donate upon arrival, donations for the blood drive will be done by appointment only.

Red Cross employees have implemented additional precautions to ensure blood drives and donation centers are safe for donors and staff and reduce potential exposure to COVID-19.

To make an appointment use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Each donor will receive a discount coupon to the AMS Gift Shop and photos with the AMS pace car. To prepare to give blood, the Red Cross recommends donors eat iron-rich meals and drink plenty of water. A photo ID will also be needed upon arrival.

To donate please visit RedCrossBlood.org and enter sponsor code “atlantaspeedway” and choose the donation time that works best for you.

Martinsville Speedway

Starting Wednesday, Martinsville Speedway in Virginia will be a COVID-19 test site.

The site will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 12-4 p.m. ET.

Individuals to be tested must be a resident of Martinsville City, Henry County, or Patrick County.

They will not be admitted to the testing site unless it has received proper documentation from a physician.

Click here for more.

Talladega Superspeedway

The track in Alabama will host a by-appointment blood drive on Wednesday from noon to 6 p.m. ET.

It will take place at the the International Motorsports Hall of Fame’s Fox Sports 1 dome, which is outside the entrance of the track.

These are the precautions that are being taken according to the St. Clair News-Aegis:

  • All individuals will have their temperatures taken before entering the blood drive, including staff and volunteers
  • Additional spacing between beds and stations that go above social distancing guidelines
  • No more than 15 people will be allowed in the venue at a time (includes donors, staff & volunteers)
  • Reinforcing existing and introducing new safety protocols including wearing gloves, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub
  • Having hand sanitizer available

To make an appointment to donate, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) sponsor code: TALLADEGA.

Texas Motor Speedway

The track in North Texas hosted a blood drive last week that collected 32 pints of blood from more than 30 donors, an amount that can help up to 96 patients.

Homestead-Miami Speedway

As a result of a $40,000 donation made because of its eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series race a few weeks ago, the track was able to distribute food and supplies to 1,000 families in its community through Farm Share.

Jeff Burton, Dale Jr., Carl Edwards on NASCAR Hall of Fame ballot for 2021

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NASCAR on NBC analysts Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr. head a list of five newcomers nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which has revamped its balloting process for the 2021 class.

Carl Edwards, Jake Elder and Banjo Matthews also are first-time nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which is splitting its ballot into three categories this year: Modern, Pioneer and Landmark.

Burton and Earnhardt both had winning careers in NASCAR’s top series before entering the broadcast booth.

MORE: Dale Jr. Pondered Hall Nomination in January

Burton, who was nicknamed “The Mayor” by former teammate Clint Bowyer because of his ambassadorial and leadership skills, has 21 Cup victories, including the 1999 Southern 500 and two Coca-Cola 600s (1999, ’01). The South Boston, Virginia, native also has 27 Xfinity Series victories.

Earnhardt, who was voted NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver 15 times by fans, has 26 Cup victories (including the 2004 and ’14 Daytona 500s). He won consecutive Xfinity Series championships in 1998-99.

Edwards had 28 Cup victories and two runner-up points finishes in a full-time career from 2005-16. He also won the 2007 Xfinity Series championship before making the stunning decision to retire at 37 more than three years ago.

Among other notables: crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine returns after being left off the 2020 ballot, and Janet Guthrie is back on the Landmark ballot after a one-year absence.

Sam Ard, Ray Fox, John Holman, Marvin Panch, Jim Paschal and Red Vogt fell off the 2021 ballot after being nominated last year.

Under a new structure announced by NASCAR in February, there will be two entries chosen from 10 Modern candidates, one entry apiece from five candidates in the Pioneer and Landmark categories. Modern candidates are eligible to be on the ballot 10 times (which is retroactive to the start of the Hall of Fame vote in 2009).

There is no limit to the eligibility for the Pioneer and Landmark awards. Competitors are eligible for the Modern ballot if their careers started within the last 60 years; Pioneer if their careers began prior to 60 years ago.

Modern era driver and crew chief nominees must have competed in NASCAR for 10 years and have been retired for two. Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart were elected the past two years in their first year of eligibility. Earnhardt became eligible this year.

Next year, 2003 Cup champion Matt Kenseth will be eligible for the first time.

Last year, the NASCAR Hall of Fame inducted Stewart, Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte, Buddy Baker and Waddell Wilson.

Voting for the NASCAR Hall of Fame usually happens on the Wednesday before the Coca-Cola 600. A NASCAR spokesman told NBCSports.com that there was no update on when the 2021 Voting Day would be scheduled or whether it would be held virtually.

In the first 11 classes of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the top five vote-getters were inducted annually from a nominee list that initially was 25 and was shortened to 20 since the 2015 class.

Here is the ballot for the 2021 class:

Modern era (10): Neil Bonnett, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Harry Gant, Harry Hyde, Larry Phillips, Ricky Rudd, Kirk Shelmerdine and Mike Stefanik.

Pioneer (5): Jake Elder, Red Farmer, Banjo Matthews, Hershel McGriff and Ralph Moody.

Landmark (5): Janet Guthrie, Alvin Hawkins, Mike Helton, Dr. Joseph Mattioli, Ralph Seagraves.

Here is the breakdown of how the ballot from 2021 differs from last year’s ballot and here is a Twitter thread that helps explain the changes to the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting process:

On the 2020 ballot, not on 2021: Sam Ard (once on ballot, 2020); Ray Fox (eight years on ballot, 2013-20); John Holman (two years on ballot, 20019-20); Marvin Panch (once on ballot, 2020); Jim Paschal (once on ballot, 2020); Red Vogt (once on ballot, 2020).

On the 2021 ballot, not on 2020: In the Modern category, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards and Kirk Shelmerdine (returning after being on the 2019 ballot). In the Pioneer category, Jake Elder and Banjo Matthews.

Modern carryovers from the 2020 to the 2021 ballot (with remaining ballot eligibility): In the modern category, Neil Bonnett (eligible for nine more appearances after being on 2020 ballot); Harry Gant (eligible for eight more appearances after being on 2019-20 ballots); Harry Hyde (eligible for five more appearances after being on 2016-2020 ballots); Larry Phillips (eligible for two more appearances after being on 2013-2020 ballots); Ricky Rudd (eligible for six more appearances after being on 2017-2020 ballots); Mike Stefanik (eligible for four more appearances after being on 2015-2020 ballots)

–Pioneer carryovers (no limit on ballot eligibility): Red Farmer; Hershel McGriff; Ralph Moody.

–Landmark carryovers (no limit on ballot eligibility): Alvin Hawkins; Mike Helton; Doc Mattioli; Ralph Seagraves

–Landmark returnee: Janet Guthrie (absent from 2020 ballot)

Twists and Turns Tuesday takes center stage on NBCSN

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The 2018 debut of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval was among the most anticipated races in years and delivered in ways few could have imagined.

Relive all the excitement and energy again as NBCSN airs that race at 8 p.m. ET today as part of Twists and Turns Tuesday during Racing Week in America.

Ryan Blaney‘s victory in the inaugural Cup race at the Roval was just a small part of a dramatic last lap that saw Jimmie Johnson make contact with Martin Truex Jr. on the final corner while racing for the lead and Kyle Larson‘s remarkable wall-banging last lap to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

That’s just a part of Twists and Turns Tuesday.

From city streets to massive dirt jumps, NBCSN will showcase the best twists and turns that motorsports have to offer starting at 1 p.m. ET. Twists and Turns Tuesday includes a return to IndyCar Victory Lane for NBC Sports’ own James Hinchcliffe at iconic Long Beach; and the closest finish in Supercross history from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Here is today’s schedule:

COVERAGE TIME (ET) NETWORK
IMSA – Long Beach 2019 1 p.m. NBCSN
INDYCAR – Long Beach 2017 3 p.m. NBCSN
NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge – Lucas Oil Raceway 7 p.m. NBCSN
NASCAR – Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL 2018 8 p.m. NBCSN
NASCAR – Watkins Glen 2017 10 p.m. NBCSN
Supercross – Arlington 2019 12 a.m. NBCSN
Monster Jam World Finals 2019 2 a.m. NBCSN