Terry ‘Iceman’ Labonte melts a bit upon NASCAR Hall of Fame induction

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For 37 years and 890 Sprint Cup races, Terry Labonte was the “Iceman” of NASCAR.

He earned that nickname because of his nerves of steel. But when it came to being bestowed with the highest honor in the sport – induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame – the Iceman melted.

During his acceptance speech, Labonte paused several times, as if trying to collect his thoughts amidst an overwhelming surge of emotion.

Labonte talked about how his emotions got the best of him afterward. Here are some of his comments:

Well, if I ever have to give another speech or anything like that, I’m not going to let my wife sit on the front row because I looked at her, and she was crying, and I looked at my mother and she was crying, and I thought, ‘Oh, God, I’m going to cry, too. I can’t look at them no more.’

I wasn’t anticipating that at all. My family is very excited about it, and it’s quite an honor to be in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Of course my parents really sacrificed an awful lot for what they did for me growing up.

My wife and I have been to a lot of races together, and I think I ran 890 races, and I think she’s been to 800 of them.  It was a big deal for us, really, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.”

Labonte laughed when asked about following the induction acceptance speech of Speedway Motorsports founder and Chairman Bruton Smith.

“I knew that I was in trouble following Bruton. I thought to myself, ‘Oh, my God, he is hilarious.’ He’s got so many great stories, and of course he’s done so much for our sport, and it’s just amazing to see the facilities that he’s built and everything. He’s always been a character if you’ve ever been to any of his press events at any of his speedways. But yeah, I was like, how could you possibly follow this guy?”

Turning serious, Labonte was asked that for the last 20 years, he’s often been introduced as a two-time NASCAR champion. From now on, he’ll be introduced as a NASCAR Hall of Famer.

It means an awful lot. To be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame is certainly something I never anticipated or something I certainly never expected. It’s really quite an honor.

When I look around in there and I see all the guys that are in the Hall of Fame, it’s just an amazing group of guys that have done so much for our sport and accomplished so much. “It really makes you feel awful fortunate to be able to be in the Hall of Fame with those guys.”

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Justin Haley replaces Kyle Busch in Kaulig car for Xfinity race


Justin Haley will drive Kaulig Racing’s No. 10 car in Monday morning’s scheduled NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Haley replaces Cup Series regular Kyle Busch, who was scheduled to drive for Kaulig in the 300-miler. The race was postponed from Saturday to Monday because of weather, giving NASCAR a 900-mile doubleheader at the track.

Busch decided to concentrate on the Coca-Cola 600 Cup race, scheduled for a  3 p.m. start.

Haley also will race in the 600.

Ty Gibbs is scheduled to run in both races.

Charlotte Cup race postponed to Monday by weather


CONCORD, N.C. — All-day rain Sunday forced the postponement of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race to Monday.

The postponement means that Charlotte Motor Speedway is scheduled to host 900 miles of stock car racing Monday. A 300-mile Xfinity Series race, originally scheduled Saturday and first postponed to noon Monday, has been rescheduled for 11 a.m. ET Monday (FS1, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The Cup race is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. (Fox, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Sunday’s Cup race was scheduled to start at 6:21 p.m. ET, but light rain was still falling at that time in the speedway area near Charlotte. Rain intensified a few minutes later and, despite an evening forecast that showed slight improvement, officials decided at 6:30 p.m. to postpone the race.

Monday’s forecast calls for a 34% chance of rain at the start of the Xfinity race and a 30% chance at the start of the Cup race.

William Byron will start the race from the pole after qualifying was washed out Saturday night.

RFK Racing gains sponsorship from submarine recruiting group


CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR racing and submarines? Yes.

RFK Racing announced Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway that it has entered a partnership with BlueForge Alliance, which is involved in securing workers for the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Industrial Base (SIB) program. BuildSubmarines.com will be a primary sponsor for RFK drivers Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher in 10 Cup Series races this year and in 18 races per season beginning in 2024.

The sponsorship will showcase the careers related to the submarine-building program across the nation.

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“I’m proud to support a cause of such vital significance to our country with this new partnership,” Keselowski said. “The synergies between a NASCAR team and our military’s needs to stay on track fast are countless. We hope to inspire the workforce of the next generation across the country when they see RFK race and hear our message.”

The sponsorship will support the mission to recruit, hire, train, develop and retain the SIB workforce that will build the Navy’s next generation of submarines, the team said.

“We are excited and grateful to be teaming with RFK Racing to drive awareness of the thousands of steady, well-paying manufacturing jobs available across the nation. Innovation, working with purpose and service to others are hallmarks of both of our organizations,” said Kiley Wren, BlueForge chief executive. “Together, we aim to inspire NASCAR fans and all Americans to pursue career opportunities that will support our national defense.”

Kyle Larson visits Indianapolis Motor Speedway to survey the scene


Former NASCAR champion Kyle Larson, who is scheduled to run the Indianapolis 500 in 2024 as part of an Indy-Charlotte “double,” visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage area Sunday on Indianapolis 500 race day.

Larson said he wanted to familiarize himself with the Indy race-day landscape before he becomes immersed in the process next year.

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Larson later returned to Charlotte, where was scheduled to drive in the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday night. Next year, he’s scheduled to run both races.

“I love racing,” Larson told NBC Sports. “I love competing in the biggest races. In my opinion, this is the biggest race in the world. I wanted to be a part of it for a long time, and I finally feel like the timing is right. It’s pretty cool to have a dream come true.

“I wanted to come here and kind of experience it again and get to experience how crazy it is again before I’m in the middle of it next year. I kind of want as little surprise as possible next year.”

In the 2024 500, Larson will be one of four drivers with the Arrow McLaren team.

Earlier this month, Larson and Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon attended an Indy 500 practice day.

Larson said Sunday he hasn’t tested an Indy car.

“I don’t know exactly when I’ll get in the car,” he said. “I’ve had no sim (simulator) time yet. I’ve kind of stayed back. I didn’t want to ask too many questions and take any focus on what they have going on for these couple of weeks. I’m sure that will pick up after today.

“I look forward to the challenge. No matter how this experience goes, I’m going to come out of it a better race car driver.”