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Bristol Baptism: How NASCAR’s champions fared in first trip to the half-mile

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This year’s rookie class in the Sprint Cup Series has been impressive so far.

Chase Elliott is coming off his first top-five finish at Texas Motor Speedway. Ryan Blaney has two top-10 finishes through seven races.

They can impress further if they can survive the gauntlet that is Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend, where their yellow rookie stripes will shine a bit brighter.

Aside from Blaney and Chris Buescher, the rookies of Elliott, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Brian Scott will be making their first Sprint Cup starts at the half-mile track with Sunday’s Food City 500.

Also making his first Cup start at Bristol is Xfinity Series driver Ty Dillon, who returns to the No. 14 to make his fifth start of the year and his third in substitution of the injured Tony Stewart.

“Most of those guys have more starts at Bristol than I have all my starts combined,” Dillon said in a press release. Dillon will be making his 12th series start.

In their first starts at Bristol last year, Blaney and Buescher finished 22nd and 25th respectively.

How do those inaugural starts at the track called “The Last Great Colosseum” compare to the Sprint Cup Series’ 21 champions in the last 46 years?

Needless to say, not everyone can do what Dale Earnhardt Sr. did in 1979. In his first time out on the Bristol’s high banks in the Cup series, the eventual seven-time champion led 163 laps and claimed his first Sprint Cup win.

Fellow seven-time champion Richard Petty finished fourth, seven laps down in his first of 60 Bristol starts. He’d win there three times.

Jeff Gordon, a four-time champion with five Bristol wins in 46 starts, crashed out of his first Bristol experience 19 laps from its conclusion.

Seven of the 21 drivers that have won Sprint Cup titles since 1970 are competing full-time this season. None of them finished in the top five in their first Bristol outing. The closest was Jimmie Johnson, who finished seventh in 2002.

Even Darrell Waltrip, the winningest Sprint Cup driver in Bristol history with 12 victories, could only put together a 30th-place finish in 1973.

Here’s a look at how other NASCAR champions and Hall of Famers fared in their Bristol baptisms. Stats were collected by Drew Brown, Dillon’s PR representative.

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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