Earnhardt overcomes issues to advance in Chase

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DOVER, Del. – The mistakes can’t be overlooked, but they can be forgiven after Dale Earnhardt Jr. rallied Sunday to advance to the second round of the Chase.

Earnhardt’s third-place finish at Dover International Speedway atoned for issues on pit road the past two weeks. He beat Jamie McMurray on a tiebreaker for the final transfer spot to the second round.

Earnhardt survived Sunday despite pitting an extra time under caution for loose lug nuts on the left-rear wheel and then had a loose left rear wheel just before a caution with 46 laps to go.

Those issues came a week after Earnhardt ran out of fuel in the final laps at New Hampshire, costing him about 20 spots. With those points, he would not have had to pass McMurray for position with 20 laps to go to advance.

“Last week in New Hampshire, we put ourselves in a bad position, but I knew we were a good enough team to make it to the next round,’’ Earnhardt said on pit road after first chatting with McMurray.

Ives carried that New Hampshire finish with him into this weekend.

I’m not new to this crew chiefing deal, but I’m definitely (new) to this kind of Chase format points situation,’’ Ives said. “I learned from it. The team rallied around me and didn’t point fingers. That’s what the team is about. I wasn’t going to give up on it. I knew in order to redeem myself I had to bring a fast race car.’’

He did. Still, Earnhardt had to overcome the loose wheel issues.

Ives said the team returned to pit road on Lap 115 to tighten loose lug nuts. Earnhardt began experiencing a loose left rear wheel with about 50 laps to go. Ives said that they had three lug nuts that were tight and a fourth that was “starting to come loose.’’ The caution on Lap 355 for Brett Moffitt’s accident allowed Earnhardt to pit to fix that issue.

“We’re moving some pieces around for our pit crew to try to really hit on some magic and consistency,’’ Earnhardt said. “We’ve got a lot of great guys. We can’t have loose wheels. Just can’t have them. Those guys are going to work hard. I believe in them. I make mistakes. They made mistakes. We all try to rebound. They gave me a good four or five lugs on that last pit stop.’’

On the final restart with 24 laps to go, Earnhardt was eighth and McMurray sixth.

Earnhardt found his chance to pass McMurray with 20 laps to go. McMurray and Matt Kenseth were running the bottom lane when Earnhardt went high.

“Just went around them somehow,’’ Earnhardt said. “Just drove it in there and it stuck’’

McMurray could not get back by and Earnhardt earned the right to keep racing for a championship. The tiebreaker – best finish in the first round of the Chase – was determined by this race since it was the best finish for both in this round.

Despite some problems this weekend, Earnhardt credited his team for what he was able to do.

“They have given me so much confidence to go for it and get aggressive and do what we need to do,’’ Earnhardt said. “I’ve become a lot of better driver the last five years working with this group.’’

Bristol Truck race results, driver points

Bristol Truck race results
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Sam Mayer scored his first career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series win Thursday night. The 17-year-old finished ahead of GMS Racing teammate Brett Moffitt.

Mayer is the youngest driver to win a Truck race at Bristol.

Tanner Gray placed third and was followed by Parker Kligerman and Chandler Smith.

Gray’s finished tied a career high. Kligerman’s finish was his best this season.

Trevor Bayne crossed the finish line fifth but his truck was disqualified for failing post-race heights in inspection.

The next race in the playoffs is Sept. 25 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Click here for race results

POINTS

Brett Moffitt leads the points after the opening race in the first round of the playoffs. He leads Sheldon Creed by nine points. Zane Smith trails Moffitt by 12 points.

Click here for points report

17-year-old Sam Mayer wins first NASCAR Truck race

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Sam Mayer passed GMS Racing teammate Brett Moffitt with 30 laps to go and went on to score his first career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series win Thursday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The victory came in the seventh career Truck start for the 17-year-old Mayer. The win also came a few days after JR Motorsports announced that Mayer would drive for the team in the second half of the 2021 Xfinity Series, once he turns 18.

“I love this place,” Mayer told FS1 after the 200-lap race. “I don’t know what to say.”

Mayer was helped by having tires that were 52 laps fresher than Moffitt’s tires.

MORE: Race results 

Mayer is not competing in the playoffs and does not advance to the second round. He said he has two more Truck races left to run this season.

Mayer followed his Truck win by taking the checkered flag in the ARCA Menards Series race that followed Thursday night.

Moffitt, who is competing in the playoffs, finished second. He was followed by Tanner Gray and Parker Kligerman.

Trevor Bayne finished fifth but his Truck was disqualified after the race for failing inspection. His truck failed post-race heights. Chandler Smith finished fifth after Bayne’s disqualification.

Moffitt was one of only four playoff drivers to finish in the top 10. Grant Enfinger was sixth. Tyler Ankrum placed seventh. Matt Crafton was 10th.

Mayer is the second youngest winner in series history. Cole Custer is the youngest winner in series history. Custer was 16 years, 7 months, 28 days when he won in Sept. 2014 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Mayer becomes the youngest Truck winner at Bristol at 17 years, 2 months, 22 days. Ryan Blaney had held that record, winning a 2015 race there at age 21 years, 4 months, 19 days.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Brett Moffitt

STAGE 2 WINNER: Tyler Ankrum

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Tanner Gray’s third-place finish tied his career best. He finished third at Michigan earlier this season. … Parker Kligerman’s fourth-place finish is his best of the season while running a limited schedule.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Austin Hill finished 26th, worst among the playoff drivers. He had contact on Lap 2 with Stewart Friesen.

NOTABLE: Trevor Bayne said that four weeks ago he didn’t know if he would be racing again at Bristol. He crossed the finish line fifth but his truck failed inspection after the race and was disqualified.

NEXT: The second race of the opening round of the playoffs is at 9 p.m. ET Sept. 25 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Texas Motor Speedway to host polling site for election

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Residents and race fans in parts of North Texas will be able to cast their vote in the upcoming election at their local NASCAR track.

Texas Motor Speedway will be a polling site for the Nov. 3 election.

The track, owned by Speedway Motorsports, will serve as a polling site for the residents of Precinct 4048. That precinct includes a large portion of Denton County and Forth Worth, Texas.

The polling site will be in the Lone Star Tower Condominium Clubhouse just outside Turn 2. It will be open from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET on election day.

More: Upcoming Cup playoffs races can fans attend

“In anticipation of a very high voter turnout for the presidential election, we have been working for months to acquire polling sites throughout the county,” Frank Phillips, Denton County Elections Administrator, said in a press release. “We are excited that Texas Motor Speedway has offered the use of the Lone Star Tower Clubhouse as a polling site.”

Local, state and CDC guidelines will be followed to ensure a sanitized, safe and socially distanced voter experience.

TMS is the first track that hosts NASCAR Cup races to announce its plans for use as a polling site. It joins sporting venues for other major sports in doing so.

A number of NBA arenas and practice facilities will be voting locations, as well as select NFL stadiums and NHL arenas.

Travis Pastrana, Conor Daly set for Las Vegas Truck Series race

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Action sports star Travis Pastrana and IndyCar driver Conor Daly are teaming up with Niece Motorsports to compete in the upcoming Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

With the backing of iRacing, who made the announcement Thursday, the duo will drive the No. 42 and No. 45 Chevrolets in the Sept. 25 race.

Pastrana and Daly’s involvement is a continuation of their rivalry in the LCQ League, a private iRacing league featuring motorsports and action sports legends having fun in cars from all disciplines.

For Pastrana, a former Roush Fenway Racing driver, it will be his fifth career Truck start and his second of the year after he competed in the July 25 race at Kansas Speedway. He finished 22nd.

“I’m really looking forward to bringing our rivalry from the LCQ League to the real world,” Pastrana said in a press release. “We’ve been getting lots of advice and iRacing on-track coaching from fellow LCQ member Parker Kligerman. I’m looking forward to seeing how the hours in iRacing pay off on the track, especially for Conor who has never driven a NASCAR truck in real life. He might be the first person in history to jump into a professional racing series and take the green flag without so much as a single practice lap in real life! Conor is a phenomenal IndyCar driver and a quick learner so I think he will surprise a lot of people.”

It will be the first Truck Series start for Daly, who has 61 IndyCar starts since 2013. Daly made his NASCAR debut in 2018 at Road America driving for Roush in the Xfinity Series.

“I could not be more excited to jump in a Gander Outdoor Series truck for the first time ever in Las Vegas!” Daly said in a press release “This will be one of the greatest challenges I’ve ever faced in my career as it will be the first event I’ve ever done where I’ve never driven a single lap in the Chevy Silverado before taking the green flag for the race. Travis and I have been going head to head on iRacing getting as much practice as possible since that’s the best possible form of preparation we have!