Dale Earnhardt Jr. says NASCAR needs to do a better job policing restarts

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BRISTOL, Tenn. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants NASCAR to follow its rules. It’s that simple, he says.

“All the drivers really want is for NASCAR to police that stuff with a stern hand,’’ Earnhardt said about restarts after Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway. “I saw in the Xfinity race at Watkins Glen … so many guys pull out of line before the start/finish line and pass people going into Turn 1. I’m like ‘What the hell? It’s right there in front of you. Hell, I can see it and I’m watching on TV.’

“We know those are rules, and you see a guy breaking the rule, and you just want to see NASCAR come down on people. I say that now, and I will probably jinx the hell out of myself and do something stupid next week, but you just want NASCAR to run the show like you read in the rulebook.’’

NASCAR’s rules state that “vehicles must maintain their track position/lane … until they have crossed the start/finish line.’’ Another rule states that “the leader of the race will control the restart within the designated restart zone.’’

Drivers don’t see those rules being enforced consistently. Carl Edwards questioned series officials about restarts during the drivers meeting before Saturday night’s race.

Edwards mentioned the previous race at Michigan when he led, but Austin Dillon beat him on a restart. Edwards claimed that Dillon took off when Edwards should have been first to go. NASCAR did not penalize Dillon.

“Are you going to enforce that?’’ Edwards asked Richard Buck, Cup series managing director, during the drivers meeting.

Buck told Edwards “we don’t went to get in and micromanage it, that’s for you to do it,’’ noting series officials reviewed the restart Edwards was concerned about and saw no issue.

Last week, NASCAR penalized Ryan Blaney during the Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol for jumping a restart when he was the leader.

“It seems like in the Truck series they really get after them guys and smack those guys on the back of the hand when they screw up,’’ Earnhardt said. “But in the Cup series, they have kind of let a little stuff here slide. It depends what it is. Like they say it’s a judgment call, but you want them to really rule on the side of the penalty.

“Keep people honest. Or else it’s just like these cars and these engineers and these crew chiefs, they are going to push the envelope on every rule. If you give us a little room out there as drivers, we are going to try to take it. We don’t want the sport ran so loosely. We really want it to be structured very tight.”

No drivers were penalized in Saturday’s Cup race for violating restarts rules, but the inconsistency has drivers flustered. They want to know what they can and can’t do because restarts are often the best chance to gain positions because passing is so difficult.

“There’s a lot of questions,’’ Joey Logano said after his victory Saturday. “I spent a lot of time with NASCAR this week, actually, trying to understand what I can and can’t do and being able to understand where their head is at and what they’re thinking when they look at a restart – what’s right and what’s wrong and what they’re going to police and what they’re not going to police.’’

Denny Hamlin suggested during the drivers meeting that NASCAR should go back to the rule that the No. 2 starter cannot beat the lead car to the start/finish. Buck said that could be discussed later. Earnhardt said maybe it will come up in an upcoming drivers council meeting with series officials.

Clint Bowyer just wants to see NASCAR do something.

“I understand they don’t want to step in, but nonetheless, it’s a rule,’’ he said. “In my opinion when there’s rules, you enforce them one way or another. I know it’s a judgment call, but that’s why there’s two stripes.

“I’ve been racing at short tracks with that kind of rule my whole life. It don’t bother them to yank the point leader or the crowd favorite or anyone else to make that call.’’

Kyle Busch feeling like ‘the new guy’ during his Rolex 24 debut at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch was looking forward to his first stint at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The two-time Cup champion was less enthused about his second turn behind the wheel in the IMSA season opener. Busch will climb back into the No. 14 Lexus RCF GT3 at 2 a.m. Sunday, just past the midpoint of the endurance race classic at Daytona International Speedway.

“That’s going to suck, yeah,” Busch deadpanned. “That’s exactly when I told them I did not want to run, and I got it.  Thank you very much.

“(I’m) the new guy.  I pulled the short straw.”

Click here to read more about how Busch felt about his AIM Vasser Sullivan car.

Kyle Larson has one last chance to rally for Australia title

Photo: Robert Lake Photography via Kyle Larson's official Twitter page
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The last week has been like the old Wide World of Sports slogan for Kyle Larson: namely, the thrill of victory followed by the agony of defeat.

After his triumphant win in the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Oklahoma last Saturday, it has been nothing but agony for the NASCAR Cup star since he flew across the Pacific Ocean to compete in several sprint car races in Australia.

Larson’s first race on Wednesday in the King’s Challenge at Borderline Speedway was rained out.

That agony continued for Larson Friday in the first of the three nights of the Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic in Warrnambool, Australia, the biggest race of the year down under.

First, he wrecked heavily, including flipping, in a heat race (he was uninjured). After making repairs, he went back out on-track in another heat race, only to suffer a blown engine that knocked him out of contention to race in that evening’s feature event.

In Night 2 of the Classic on Saturday, Larson did not compete, leaving him to serve as a cheerleader for fellow American and teammate Carson Macedo, who finished 14th out of 20 drivers in the 30-lap main event.

Not being able to compete was a disappointment for Larson, who was one of the top-billed drivers taking part in the overall three-day Classic.

Larson will have one last chance to make Sunday’s featured championship event — but he’ll need a lot of luck and good fortune on his side. There will be several heat races that will whittle the top 48 drivers from each qualifying event to determine the top 16 in points who will compete in the A Main championship event.

There are 80 other drivers — including Larson — still left to compete in the B, C and D Mains who will also try to race their way into the A Main.

Larson currently sits tied for 77th place in the combined point standings in the 107-car field. Meanwhile, sitting 19th in the combined points, Macedo is the highest-ranked American driver heading into Sunday’s finale.

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Hailie Deegan on IMSA debut: ‘I’m not mad. I’m gaining experience’

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The first day of Hailie Deegan’s foray into sports car racing was one with mixed results.

Deegan and teammate, NASCAR Xfinity driver Chase Briscoe, finished 43rd of 51 teams that were entered in Friday’s Michelin Pilot Challenge at Daytona International Speedway.

Deegan ran as high as 15th before the car experienced mechanical issues roughly three hours into the four-hour event, and it was brought in to be worked on for the remaining time.

Deegan and Briscoe were in the No. 22 Multimatic Motorsports Inc. Ford GT4, which ran a total of 86 laps. One other NASCAR driver, Xfinity pilot Austin Cindric, was teamed with Seb Priaulx in the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Inc. Ford Mustang GT4, and together they finished 45th, completing 78 laps.

One other name of note was IndyCar driver Gabby Chaves, who finished 28th (completed 107 laps).

The fastest team in the field was Dylan Murry, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Jim Cox, who collectively ran the entire 110 laps.

While her team continued to work on the car in the garage, Deegan visited the infield media center to speak about her first race experience in an IMSA sports car.

I feel like I just gained a lot of experience,” Deegan said. “I’m here to gain experience after that three-day road test, coming here and practicing for two days.

“I just feel like I know a lot more about racing than I did before. And that’s why I’m here and supposed to be doing.”

The biggest challenge, Deegan said, was the large number of cars she had to compete against.

“The traffic is a little difficult to deal with; it’s not bad, though,” Deegan said. “It makes it fun. It makes it interesting. You constantly have to be on your toes.

“What I like about sports car racing is how many of the points you have to remember in your head. You get a little distracted for a second, and the next thing you know, you overdrive the corner that kind of laps into the next corner.

“So there’s constantly so much going on, you have to be on top of your game.”

While she would have liked to have more time on track had it not been for the mechanical issue, Deegan was philosophical about how the day played out.

“I’m not mad, I’m gaining experience,” she said. “That’s what I’m here to do.”

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DC Solar founders to plead guilty to charges related to $1 billion Ponzi scheme

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Thirteen months after the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service raided the headquarters of DC Solar and the home of its founders, Jeff and Paulette Carpoff, the couple has entered plea agreements related to a $1 billion Ponzi scheme, the impact of which saw Chip Ganassi Racing close its Xfinity Series program in 2019.

Jeff Carpoff has agreed to plead guilty to one count each of wire fraud and money laundering while Paulette Carpoff will plead guilty to one count each of conspiracy and money laundering.

According to the plea agreements filed with the Eastern District of California, the government will recommend an initial sentence of 30 years in prison for Jeff Carpoff and 15 years for Paulette Carpoff prior to any co-operation they provide with the case.

The agreement outlines a Ponzi scheme that operated from March 2011 to December 2018, ending with the raids on the Carpoff’s residence in Martinez, California, and DC Solar’s headquarters in Benicia, California.

DC Solar was a company that built and leased solar energy equipment and also sponsored Chip Ganassi Racing in the Cup and Xfinity Series. It was the primary or co-primary sponsor for Kyle Larson in 16 Cup races and for three races with Jamie McMurray in 2018. It also sponsored 10 Xfinity races with Ganassi and announced in November 2018 it would sponsor Ross Chastain’s full-time ride in 2019.

It also sponsored Xfinity Series races in 2018 at Phoenix Raceway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the infield “FanGrounds” at Richmond Raceway.

In the wake of the raids and the company filing for bankruptcy in January 2019, CGR was forced to close its Xfinity operation.

During the nearly eight-year scheme, the plea agreement says the Carpoffs used the money generated from it to buy their NASCAR sponsorships, 150 luxury and collectible vehicles and luxury real estate in Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, the Caribbean and Mexico.

They also purchased a suite at a professional football stadium, a subscription private jet service, the Martinez (California) Clippers minor league baseball team and a 2018 performance by an internationally known rapper at a company holiday party.

Funds were also used to make illicit payments to their co-conspirators and others.

As part of their respective plea agreements, the Carpoffs have agreed to pay restitution to their victims, totaling between $800 million and $1.6 billion.