NASCAR on NBC podcast, Episode IX: Jeff Burton, Eddie Gossage

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On the day of Mark Martin’s last NASCAR race – the 2013 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway – Jeff Burton visited his old friend while confronting a grim reality.

It might be Burton’s last race, too.

“I went down to see him, and I started crying,” Burton said on the ninth episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast, which was released Wednesday morning. “Walking back to my car, I couldn’t help it. I knew how hard he had worked. I knew the things we had done together. I didn’t know what was happening with me. I wanted to experience what he was experiencing.”

The retirement plan didn’t work quite how it had been envisioned by the NASCAR veteran, who had wanted to race for one more full season in 2014 before retiring to join NBC Sports. But he also explains on the podcast why the timing still couldn’t have worked any better for him and his new and former employers.

It’s one of many insightful anecdotes and perspectives offered by Burton, who brings analysis to the daily “NASCAR America” on NBCSN and will return to the booth with Rick Allen and Steve Letarte in July to call the final 20 Sprint Cup races of the season.

Among the topics discussed by the South Boston, Virginia, native who scored 21 victories in NASCAR’s premier series in a career stretching from 1993-2014:

–Putting Kyle Busch’s victory at Martinsville Speedway and the likelihood of the defending series champion winning at every track (“He’s in uncharted territory. There’s nothing to compare it to, and that’s what makes it difficult.”);

–The mental anguish that has been Matt Kenseth’s 2016 season (“They can put their shoes on, but they can’t tie them. They just can’t seem to finish a race off.”);

–The postrace media obligations of a Cup driver;

–What the transition to being in the media has entailed;

–How does a driver know when to retire? (“I didn’t.”);

–Why the 2006 Chase still haunts him;

–What’s new for NBC Sports’ NASCAR coverage in 2016;

–Who the favorites are at Texas Motor Speedway, where NASCAR races this weekend.

Wednesday marks 19 years since Burton won the inaugural Sprint Cup race at Texas, and he’ll be inducted Thursday night into the track’s Hall of Fame as its first two-time winner.

Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage was on hand to present Burton with that first winner’s trophy, and he provides his memories from the past 19 years during the second half of the podcast, including those inauspicious first two seasons.

FORT WORTH, TX - MARCH 19: Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage speaks during the press conference for the unveiling of "Big Hoss" the largest HD video board in the world at Texas Motor Speedway on March 19, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage speaks during the news conference for the unveiling of “Big Hoss” HD video board on March 19, 2014. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

“I don’t know who said a good thing about this place” when it opened, cracked Gossage, noting he “spent tens of thousands of dollars in therapy trying to forget it.” Other topics:

–The moment he couldn’t tell if Jeff or Ward Burton won the first race;

–How Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s opinion changed Texas’ surface;

–The impact of the new lower downforce package;

–Gossage’s case for 500-mile races;

–The impact of the absence of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart on ticket sales, and why Gossage is optimistic about the future stars of NASCAR.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking below or download and subscribe to it on iTunes by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.  It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here.

 

Sioux Chief to sponsor ARCA Showdown, East Series to race at Nashville Fairgrounds

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ARCA announced Saturday that Sioux Chief Manufacturing will be the entitlement sponsor of its 10-race ARCA Menards Series Showdown in 2020.

Sioux Chief Manufacturing is a Missouri company that designs and manufactures rough plumbing products, parts, and accessories for residential, commercial, industrial and government applications

Sioux Chief has been involved in ARCA since 2015 as a race event sponsor and special awards program sponsor and sponsored ARCA’s former Short Track Challenge.

As part of the deal, a newly increased point fund, combined with race purses, owner plan, and contingency awards, will offer teams a chance to compete for a share of over $920,000 in posted awards throughout the series.

The Sioux Chief Showdown will bring together the best drivers from the ARCA Menards Series, the ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West, formerly known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Those events, held on oval tracks 1.25-miles in length and under and road courses, offer drivers who may not be able or eligible to run the full 20-race ARCA Menards Series schedule the opportunity to run for a championship. Combined with the overall ARCA Menards Series championship, and the East and West championships, drivers will have four separate championships to compete for in 2020.

The announcement was made at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Indianapolis. Also present was promoter Bob Sargent of Track Enterprises, who announced that the ARCA Menards Series East would compete at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on May 2.

The Tennessean reported this week that the Nashville Fairgrounds was negotiating with Sargent to promote at least three races at the short track in 2020. Sargent’s involvement in the track comes after Nashville’s Fair Board voted to terminate its agreement with Formosa Productions to run the track over outstanding debt.

The ARCA Menards Series has competed at the Fairgrounds the last five seasons. The ARCA Menards Series East, formerly known as the K&N Pro Series East, competed there from 2007-08.

GMS Racing reveals full-time driver-crew chief lineup, number assignments

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GMS Racing has announced its full-time driver-crew chief lineup for the 2020 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season and number assignments for its trucks:

– Chad Norris has been named crew chief for Brett Moffitt and the No. 23 Chevrolet team. Moffitt drove the No. 24 in his first season with the team. Norris has been with GMS Racing for two years and directed the effort that delivered the team its 2018 Xfinity Series win at Talladega.

– Chad Walter will lead Tyler Ankrum and the No. 26 team. 2020 will be Ankrum’s first season with GMS Racing. Walter served as an engineer for Ankrum this season at DGR-Crosley. Walter has five wins and 42 top fives in 208 Xfinity Series starts as crew chief.

– Kevin “Bono” Manion is paired with Zane Smith on the No. 21 Chevrolet. 2020 will be Smith’s first full-time Trucks season after competing part-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. Manion has 24 wins as crew chief across all three national series since 2003. He led Martin Truex Jr. to his two Xfinity Series titles.

– Jeff Stankiewicz will remain as the crew chief for the No. 2 team piloted by Sheldon Creed.

Social Roundup: How NASCAR drivers are spending their offseason

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NASCAR’s Champion’s week is now behind us and we are firmly in the offseason.

Well, sort of.

The NASCAR world never really stops, which is evident simply due to the continued announcements for the 2020 season.

But with Joey Logano testing the Next Gen car at Phoenix earlier this week and Dale Earnhardt Jr. helping clean up North Wilkesboro Speedway for iRacing, it’s been anything but quiet.

Here’s a look at what else happened in the NASCAR community this week.

Someone needs to check in on Jimmie Johnson, he could be in his own version of Mr. Mom.

Chris Buescher is home again.

The 2015 Xfinity Series champion is back at Roush Fenway Racing for the 2020 Cup season and he’s got the firesuits and cars to prove it.

Brad Keselowski recently became father to a second daughter.

He’s now learning some important life lessons.

Former Front Row Motorsports driver Matt Tifft is now off the market after getting married to his fiance, Jordan. Now they’re on their honeymoon.

 

Matt DiBenedetto showed off one of the perks of being a Wood Brothers Racing employee.

Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace went somewhere warm to start their holiday.

Joey and Caitlin Gase welcome twin sons

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Xfinity Series driver Joey Gase and his wife Caitlin are now parents to twin boys

The babies were born on Wednesday. Their names are Jace and Carson.

More: Brad and Paige Keselowski welcome second daughter