Dale Jr. on Dan Patrick Show: Wedding date, retirement, Jeff Gordon

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If you’re expecting an invitation to the wedding of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Amy Reimann, you may have to keep waiting awhile.

“We haven’t set a date. We’re thinking next winter, probably. … It’s more than 12 months away,” Earnhardt said Thursday morning on NBCSN’s Dan Patrick Show.

Fresh off his win last weekend at Phoenix, Earnhardt talked about a number of subjects including teammate Jeff Gordon’s retirement and final championship bid on Sunday and Junior’s own retirement.

But getting back to his engagement, Earnhardt shared a story about just how nervous he was when the time came to propose to Amy in a church in Germany while on vacation this past June.

When Patrick asked him if the engagement ring was “burning a hole in your pocket,” Earnhardt demurred.

“Actually, I didn’t trust myself with it, so my sister (Kelley) carried it the entire time,” Earnhardt said. “She was in the church the entire time with us.

“So, we’re all standing there ,and I tried to give Kelley the signal to pull it out. She was (like my engagement ring crew chief). It was something else, man. I was nervous.”

As for being part of Jeff Gordon’s final race Sunday, Earnhardt said all four drivers have a good chance to win. But we know where his loyalty lies.

“It’s hard to pick one guy because they’re all kind of showing good speed right now,” Earnhardt said. “I’m obviously going to pull for my teammate, Jeff Gordon, because I want boss man to be happy and that would be a hell of a way to go out.

“He’s been racing for 20-some years now and still has the ability to go out and win races and battle for championships to the very end. What a storybook ending that would be if he got the championship.”

As for his own retirement, Earnhardt feels he still has several more good years of racing left in him. When Patrick asked if that meant at least five more years, Earnhardt tried to avoid the question initially, but eventually acquiesced.

“Five more years? That’s tough,” he said. “I’m getting up there. I’m 41 now. I like what I’m doing, I’m having fun. I’m having more fun now than I think I’ve ever had driving cars, and I think I’m better than I’ve ever been.

“I feel like that, you think all the time, ‘Man, I wish I could go back and redo all those early years knowing what I know now.’ I feel like I’m at the top of my game, I feel the team I’m with is really jelling. (Crew chief Greg Ives) and I hit it off pretty good in our first year, and I think each year we’ll get better, like I did with (former crew chief Steve Letarte).

“At this moment, I’ve got my health and I get to choose. When you decide to retire, you want it to be on your own terms, not because of health or because of something else. You don’t want to be forced out.

“So, right now, it looks like I’ll be able to make that choice on my own terms and whenever I feel like retiring, I’ll retire. I can’t quit with any kind of regrets. I feel right now everything is going so good and I’m running so well. I’ve won six races in the last two years.

“After struggling for five, six years and not winning any races and everybody doubting me, it’d be hard to hang it up knowing how good things are right now. So I’m going to roll with what’s happening and keep racing. Whenever I’m not cutting it as a driver or holding up this team, then I’ll have to make that decision, but I don’t think it’ll be anytime soon. Five years from now, I expect to be racing.”

How does his future look, Patrick asked Earnhardt?

“Life’s good,” Earnhardt said. “We just came off a win at Phoenix and I’m working on my first year with Greg Ives as my crew chief and that’s going good. The future looks good.”

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NTSB releases final report on Dale Jr. plane crash

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Photo: Dustin Long
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Pilot error played a key role in the August 2019 crash of a plane carrying Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, a final report by the National Transportation Safety Board stated Wednesday.

Earnhardt, wife Amy and daughter Isla were on board the plane, which crashed after a hard landing at Elizabethton (Tennessee) Municipal Airport on Aug. 15, 2019. The report stated all three suffered minor injuries. 

The NTSB listed the probable causes of the accident as: “The pilot’s continuation of an unstabilized approach despite recognizing associated cues and the flight crew’s decision not to initiate a go-around before touchdown, which resulted in a bounced landing, a loss of airplane control, a landing gear collapse, and a runway excursion. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to deploy the speedbrakes during the initial touchdown, which may have prevented the runway excursion, and the pilot’s attempt to go around after deployment of the thrust reversers.”

A “go-around” occurs when a pilot pulls out of a landing and gains altitude to make another landing attempt.

The report stated that “the flight crew made several comments about the airplane flying too fast and allowed the airspeed to increase well above the reference speed for the approach.”

The report stated that “the pilot did not extend the speedbrakes upon touchdown, which landing checklist required, but instead attempted to deploy the thrust reversers immediately after touchdown, which was a later item on the landing checklist.”

Earnhardt’s Cessna 680A Citation Latitude bounced twice upon landing as it traversed the 5,001-foot runaway.

After the fourth touchdown, the right main landing gear collapsed. The plane went off the road and through a 400-foot long area of grass. It went down an embankment, through a creek and a chain-link fence. It continued up an embankment. The plane came to rest about 600 feet beyond the runway at the edge of a four-lane highway.

The passengers and two pilots escaped as the plane burned.

The full report can be read here.

Champion or not, Chase Briscoe won’t let Xfinity title define season

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Like the 11 drivers he’ll compete against in the Xfinity Series playoffs, a championship is the endgame for Chase Briscoe.

However, with the Stewart-Haas Racing driver one win from matching his preseason goal of at least eight victories, Briscoe wouldn’t be too disappointed if he failed to claim the title at the end of the seven-race playoff.

“I feel like to this point if we don’t get to eight (wins) … I feel like I accomplished or proved what I was trying to say at the beginning of the year,” Briscoe told NBC Sports on Tuesday. “There’s still no reason why we can’t get to 10 wins. I feel 100% confident in my team that we’re going to have the cars capable of doing it, I just need to do my job. If we do that, hopefully we can get to Phoenix and then (whoever’s) the best team once we get there wins.”

As he prepares to open the playoffs Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN), Briscoe is wary of not letting “the championship define you and define your season. … Winning races is a big deal. That’s what you get paid to do is go win races and obviously win championships as well, but today’s format anything can happen in that final race.”

Briscoe can attest to importance of winning races. He enters the playoff with a series-leading seven wins, which has helped him start the postseason with 2,050 points and ties him with Austin Cindric.

Briscoe’s impressive numbers come a year after he had just one win in a season where Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer combined to win 21 of 33 races.

Briscoe believes the perception of his abilities as a driver are “way different” from last year as he struggled to chase those three drivers now competing in Cup.

“Personally, I felt like I could win races, and I think a lot of it was learning,” Briscoe said. “Last year, there were still a lot of tracks I had never been to before and didn’t even have 100 pavement starts in my entire career, and now I have that experience. I have the confidence to go with it and all of those things are totally different, and when I said what I said at the beginning of the year (about winning eight races) I felt like I was capable of doing that.

“If I could back it up, it would look even better. … I think I’ve proven my worth in this sport. I feel like if I do get the opportunity to move up, I feel like I’m ready, but I also feel like I could get a lot of benefit out of coming back to the Xfinity Series and running again.”

Briscoe, a Ford development driver, says he still doesn’t know what’s in store for him in 2021.

He said the uncertainty of his future is a “little bit easier” to handle compared to last year because of the wins he’s racked up.

Regardless of not knowing his NASCAR fate, if Briscoe can “somehow get to 10 wins this year and win the championship, then that would just make it, I feel like, a lot easier for the decision-makers.”

Mike Wallace’s appeal of indefinite suspension denied

NASCAR suspends Mike Wallace
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Mike Wallace‘s indefinite suspension by NASCAR was upheld by the National Motorsports Appeals Panel on Wednesday.

Wallace, who has made three Xfinity Series starts this season, was suspended Sept. 10 for violating Sections 12.1; 12.8; 12.8.1.e of the rule book.

According to the rulebook, a violation of section 12.8.1.e is any “Public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition.”

As part of the suspension, Wallace is required by NASCAR to attend sensitivity training.

The three-member appeals panel was made up of Dixon Johnston, Bill Lester and Kevin Whitaker.

Wallace has the right to appeal the decision to the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer.

Wallace wrote the following on Facebook shortly after his suspension was originally announced:

“You know as I fly across the United States today I’m ready various people’s political views and I have to say a famous four star Military General that I spent time with in the MidEast told me Mike let me give you some advice don’t ever get in a conversation about politics or religion unless you are really smart. I said why do you say that comment His response it’s like being balanced on a single edge razor blade if you slip you will get cut!

Think about that before we all make foolish uneducated post! Moral of this story is most of use just repeat what we have heard we really don’t know.
Have a great positive day!”

Bubba Wallace to receive Stan Musial award for extraordinary character

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Following months of speaking out in support of racial justice and inclusion in NASCAR, Bubba Wallace‘s work has been recognized by The Musial Awards.

The Richard Petty Motorsports driver has been selected as the recipient of its Award for Extraordinary Character.

The award honors “an individual who demonstrates remarkable poise, perseverance and overall sportsmanship.”

The Musial Awards – presented by Maryville University in St. Louis – is named after Stan Musial, a former St. Louis Cardinal baseball player. St. Louis is also the home to one of Wallace’s sponsors, World Wide Technology.

More: Michael Jordan excited for NASCAR future with Denny Hamlin

In the wake of the death of George Floyd in May, the 26-year-old Wallace has been active in helping lead NASCAR through social changes, including the banning of the Confederate flag at series events and tracks.

He also drove a Black Lives Matter car at Martinsville Speedway in June.

“Bubba Wallace exemplifies what the Stan Musial Award for Extraordinary Character is all about,” Frank Viverito, president of the St. Louis Sports Commission, which produces the Musial Awards, said in a press release. “He has overcome much to be where he is, and he has courageously stepped forward to take an important stand for change. He is most deserving of an award that stands for sportsmanship and character, and is named for Stan Musial, whose own actions promoted racial acceptance and unity.”

Wallace joins baseball legend Hank Aaron as a 2020 Musial Awards honoree. Aaron is receiving the Stan Musial Lifetime Achievement Award for Sportsmanship.

The Musial Awards will air nationally on CBS on Saturday, Dec. 26.

After three full-time seasons in Cup racing for RPM, it was announced earlier this week that Wallace would compete in 2021 for a Cup team co-owned by Denny Hamlin and basketball legend Michael Jordan.