Truex, Gase and Martha Nemechek named finalists for inaugural Comcast award

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Three members of the NASCAR community have been named finalists for the inaugural Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award.

The award recognizes the philanthropic efforts of a race team member.

The finalists are:

* Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Chevrolet SS in the Sprint Cup Series.

* Joey Gase, driver of the No. 52 Ford Mustang in the Xfinity Series.

* Martha Nemechek, whose son Joe and grandson John Hunter Nemechek, compete in the Camping World Truck Series.

“Comcast works hard to make a positive impact in the local communities where our employees and customers live and work, and that philosophy is now embedded into our partnership with NASCAR,” said Matt Lederer, Executive Director of Sports Marketing at Comcast.

“We are proud to have Martin Truex Jr., Joey Gase and Martha Nemechek as finalists for the inaugural Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award,” Lederer added. “They embody the spirit of the award through their dedication to community service and we look forward to highlighting their causes through the award process.”

The Champion of the Year will be determined by executives from Comcast, The NASCAR Foundation, NASCAR on NBC analyst Kyle Petty and reporter Holly Cain.

Comcast will make a donation of $60,000 to the Champion of the Year’s affiliated charity. An additional $30,000 apiece will be made to each of the remaining two finalists’ designated charity.

“Comcast has done a great job of coming in and viewing the sport in its totality,” Petty said. “Not just what they can get out of it, but what they can give back to it and how they become a part of the fabric of NASCAR.

“I think that’s what the Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award encompasses – the giving spirit that has always been a big part of NASCAR.”

The winner will be announced Nov. 23 at the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series Banquet in Hollywood, Florida. The banquet will air on NBCSN at 7 pm on Sunday, Nov. 29.

The 2015 Comcast Community Champion of the Year finalists are:

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series:

Martin Truex Jr. (Mayetta, New Jersey) and long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex launched the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation in 2007 with the goal of raising funds and awareness for children suffering from poverty, abuse and illness – specifically pediatric cancers.  The foundation continued to grow over the next eight years, providing significant assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and building a pediatric emergency care center in Truex’s home state of New Jersey. In August 2014, Pollex was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. Through this experience, the couple was inspired to expand their fundraising efforts and change the foundation’s mission to include a range of underfunded cancer initiatives specific to childhood and ovarian cancers. In 2015, the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation began a three-year partnership with Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina to assist in finding breakthrough treatments specific to pediatric cancers. Every day, Truex sports a bracelet encompassing his personal motto as well as the Foundation’s inspiration: Never Give Up.

NASCAR Xfinity Series:

Joey Gase (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) lost his mother Mary Jo to a brain aneurysm when he was just 18 years old. Since she was not married at the time, Gase was faced with the decision of whether or not she would want to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor. Later on, he found out that the decision he made to donate his mother’s organs helped save and improve the lives of 66 people. Overwhelmed by the impact, Gase sought opportunities to promote donation through the local organ procurement organizations (OPO) in each state. Throughout the past few years, he has been able to use his platform as a NASCAR driver to host meet-and-greets with families who have been impacted by organ donation, visit children who have been hospitalized, promote organ donation through sharing his story at high schools, and more. At just 22 years old, his efforts have already produced great dividends. Gase often has people reach out to let him know that had it not been for his story, they never would have thought to sign up as an organ donor.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series:

Martha Nemechek (Mooresville, North Carolina) lost her son John Nemechek to complications from head injuries sustained in an accident during a 1997 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In the months following the death of her 27-year old son, she was inconsolable until Nemechek received a call from Gordon Collins, a stranger empathizing with her grief, that she was able to channel into a driving force for helping those in similar situations. For the past 18 years, Nemechek has given her heart to many causes, including the exchange of supportive emails with U.S. troops in Iraq, assisting cancer patients with their wishes to meet NASCAR drivers, maintaining her World Prayer List, feeding the underprivileged, and much more. Her priority, however, is reaching out to parents who have lost children – especially those within the racing circuit. Those impacted by her efforts are amazed at Nemechek’s willingness to open up in an area that is painful for her to relive, but she is driven by her desire to reach out. The way she puts it is simple: once she began giving back, Nemechek felt like she was living again.

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Alpha Prime Racing’s road woes don’t keep team from competing


SONOMA, Calif. — Alpha Prime Racing owner Tommy Joe Martins laughs. He can. His Xfinity Series cars all are here at Sonoma Raceway.

At one point last week, it was not certain if his team’s cars would make it to Portland International Raceway.

“It was probably the toughest professional week I’ve had of my NASCAR career,” Martins told NBC Sports on Friday at Sonoma.

MORE: Kyle Larson leads Xfinity practice at Sonoma

The Alpha Prime Racing team had both its trucks break down and one of its haulers have mechanical issues last week on the way to the Pacific Northwest.

“We basically sent four pieces of equipment on the road and three of them broke,” Martins said.

For a time, the car Sage Karam is driving this weekend at Sonoma was left in a hauler in Kansas City because there wasn’t room in the dually Martins sent. It had room only for the car that was needed at Portland and other equipment. Karam’s car, which was to be a backup at Portland, was left behind.

“It’s a very helpless feeling when you feel like your stuff is stuck on the side of the road,” Martins said.

He still has one truck still in St. Louis and another in Oregon. Martins estimates the mechanical issues will cost his team about $50,000 when everything is totaled.

Trouble started well before the team left its Mooresville, North Carolina, race shop for Portland.

The Xfinity Series race at Charlotte was scheduled to run May 27. Rain forced that event to be rescheduled to May 29. Martins said the team had planned to send its trucks to Portland on May 28. With the race pushed back to the 29th, the travel schedule tightened.

It got worse.

After the Xfinity race started, rain came. With the Coca-Cola 600 scheduled for 3 p.m. ET that day – after being delayed by rain from Sunday – the rest of the Xfinity race was pushed back until after the 600. That further tightened the window on Xfinity teams to make it to Portland.

The Xfinity race ended around 11:30 p.m. ET on May 29. Alpha Prime Racing’s haulers left the shop around 6 a.m. ET on May 30.

The two trucks traveled together until issues in St. Louis.

The truck hauling the Nos. 44 and 45 cars had engine issues in St. Louis. The other truck kept going until it had mechanical issues with its hauler in Kansas City. The air bags on the hauler failed.

So, Alpha Prime Racing had a truck that worked in Kansas City with a hauler that didn’t and a truck that didn’t work in St. Louis with a hauler that did.

The truck in Kansas City went back to St. Louis to attach to the hauler and take those cars and equipment to Portland. Martins then had to find something to haul the stranded equipment in Kansas City and a driver. He eventually did. A dually left North Carolina for Kansas City. Once there, what fit in the dually was taken to Portland and what didn’t, including Karam’s Sonoma car stayed behind.

Yet, more trouble was headed for Martins and his team.

The truck that had gone back from Kansas City to St. Louis to take hauler that worked then broke down about 200 miles from Portland.

“I laugh knowing that we’re on the other side of it,” Martins said Friday of all the issues his team had transporting cars and equipment across the country.

“We’ve started to make plans and corrections for it not happening again,” he said.

That hauler that was left in Kansas City? It was repaired and transported to Sonoma, arriving earlier this week.

“Our guys are troopers,” Martins said. “Both of our (truck) drivers were just awesome about the whole thing. … They went through hell week as far as driving somewhere, fly back and pick something up, drive again and now are going to have to do the same thing getting back.”

When the garage opened Friday at Sonoma, Alpha Prime Racing had all its cars.

“I don’t think we had any major issues here, so that was good,” Martins said.

The focus is back on the track. Karam was 24th on the speed chart in Friday’s practice, leading Alpha Prime Racing’s effort. Dylan Lupton was 32nd. Jeffrey Earnhardt was last among 41 cars.

After Saturday night’s race, the team heads back to North Carolina for a well-earned weekend off.

Kyle Larson leads Xfinity practice at Sonoma


SONOMA, Calif. — Kyle Larson posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Xfinity Series practice at Sonoma Raceway.

This is the first time the series has raced at the 1.99-mile road course in Northern California. Teams got 50 minutes of practice Friday.

Larson led the way with a lap of 90.392 mph. He was more than a second faster than the rest of the field.

MORE: Xfinity practice results Sonoma

Sheldon Creed was second on the speed chart with a lap of 89.066 mph. He was followed by AJ Allmendinger (89.052 mph), Cole Custer (89.020) and Ty Gibbs (88.989).

Larson, Allmendinger and Gibbs are among seven Cup drivers are entered in the Xfinity race. Aric Almirola was seventh on the speed chart with a lap of 88.750 mph. Ross Chastain was ninth with a lap of 88.625 mph. Daniel Suarez was 16th with a lap of 88.300 mph. Ty Dillon was 33rd with a lap of 86.828 mph.

Anthony Alfredo will go to a backup car after a crash in practice. He was uninjured in the incident that damaged the right side of his car.

Qualifying is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET Saturday. The race is scheduled to begin at 8:20 p.m. ET Saturday.

Anthony Alfredo’s car after a crash in Xfinity practice Friday at Sonoma Raceway. He was uninjured. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Saturday Sonoma Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


The Xfinity Series will compete for the first time at Sonoma Raceway this weekend. This is one of eight road course events on the Xfinity schedule this season.

Seven Cup drivers are scheduled to compete in Saturday’s race, including AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez, who won last year’s Cup race at this track Allmendinger has won 11 of 25 career road course starts in the Xfinity Series.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Sonoma Raceway

(All times Eastern)

START: Golden State Warrior Patrick Baldwin Jr. will give the command to start engines at 8:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 8:20 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Qualifying begins at 3 p.m. … Driver introductions begin at 7:35 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Earl Smith, team pastor for the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers, at 8 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by 9-year-old Isis Mikayle Castillo at 8:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 79 laps (156.95 miles) on the 1.99-mile road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 20. Stage 2 ends at Lap 45.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying begins at 3 p.m. Saturday

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 8 p.m. ... Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. and can be heard on … SiriusXN NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mostly cloudy with a high of 72 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: This is the first time the Xfinity Series has raced at Sonoma.


NASCAR Friday schedule at Sonoma Raceway


The Xfinity Series makes its first appearance Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

Xfinity teams, coming off last weekend’s race at Portland International Raceway, get 50 minutes of practice Friday because Sonoma is a new venue for the series.

Seven Cup drivers, including Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez, are among those entered in the Xfinity race. Suarez won the Cup race at Sonoma last year.

Xfinity teams will qualify and race Saturday at the 1.99-mile road course.

Sonoma Raceway


Friday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 69 degrees.

Friday, June 9

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. — ARCA Menards Series West
  • 1 – 10 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 2 – 3 p.m. — ARCA West practice
  • 3:10 – 3:30 p.m. — ARCA West qualifying
  • 4:05 – 4:55 p.m. — Xfinity practice (FS1)
  • 6:30 p.m. — ARCA West race (64 laps, 127.36 miles; live on FloRacing, will air on CNBC at 11:30 a.m. ET on June 18)