NASCAR suspends child driver after ‘providing false’ info about age

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A 15-day investigation has resulted in NASCAR suspending child driver Andrew Molleur indefinitely after it determined the Connecticut native competed and won in the SK Light Modified series while claiming to be 15 years old and that he “provided false information” in obtaining his NASCAR Learner’s Permit.

A driver must be 14 years to qualify for a Learner’s Permit to compete in a NASCAR Division II series or lower. The SK Light Modified series is a Division II series.

The investigation and suspension of Molleur came after he became the youngest SK Light Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl in Waterford, Connecticut.

NASCAR released the following statement on the situation on Monday.

“The driver, Andrew Molleur, has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR for the following infractions: Section 3-11.1A.1.: To be eligible for a NASCAR Learner’s Permit as a race vehicle driver, a NASCAR Member, at a minimum, must be at least 14 years of age; Section 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing; and Section 12-4H2.: Provided false information on the NASCAR license application.”

Eact Connecticut’s The Bulletin has multiple stories that referred to Molleur as being 12 or 13. When Molleur won his first race at the Speedbowl in 2011, The Bulletin reported his age as being 8.

Mike Molleur, father of Andrew, told The Bulletin that he had provided a birth certificate that verified his son was old enough to have a permit.

“At the beginning of the year, I discussed it with a couple track owners and stuff and said this is what we have, this is what we’re doing,” Mike Molleur said. “There’s no reason you shouldn’t let us race because of what someone says, here’s what we have.”

New London-Waterford Speedbowl general manager Shawn Monahan told The Bulletin two weeks later, after Andrew Molleur had been parked by NASCAR until the investigation’s completion, that competitors had raised the issue of his age to him earlier in the season.

Monahan also said he supported any ruling by NASCAR.

“NASCAR obviously wasn’t happy with what the father had produced for them, so they’ve taken it to this level and passed that penalty down,” Monohan said after the suspension was handed out on Monday. “So obviously it’s something that not only our track, but all tracks are going to honor.”

That was the case at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan.

At the end of July, NASCAR ruled that Carson Hocevar, a 13-year-old driver from Portage, Michigan, was too young to compete at the track after he won a July 16 Super Late Model race at the track, becoming what is believed to be the youngest feature race winner in the track’s 66-year history.

“What sparked it was Carson’s win a couple of weeks ago,” track president Mike Bursley told MLive.com. “It kind of went national, and it went up the ladder and raised red flags to those guys and they pulled the plug on them this week. We tried really, really hard to work with them.”

In 2015, Hocevar drove a family-owned Outlaw Late Model at Berlin at the age of 12. But Berlin did not become a NASCAR-sanctioned facility until the following off-season.

When the track’s current season started in April, Hocevar and two other drivers – Christopher Joyce and Joe Moody – were 13. Bursley told MLive.com that NASCAR had given its blessing for them to race as long as the track had a separate insurance policy for them.

On Aug. 1 NASCAR issued the following statement to MLive:

“There was an unfortunate miscommunication in conversations between NASCAR and Berlin Raceway that recently came to light and has now been corrected. NASCAR regrets the misunderstanding, but also recognizes that this is an important matter for all involved. NASCAR is taking additional steps to insure that there is no ambiguity regarding age limits with any NASCAR Whelen All-American Series tracks moving forward.”

Said Bursley: “We have email trails that acknowledged it and that they were 100 percent aware of everything. There was no miscommunication. NASCAR was well aware of what was going on.”

Since the start of the season, Joyce and Moody have turned 14, which Hocevar won’t do so until January.

“It is definitely something we are going evaluate during the offseason,” Bursley said. “We are definitely going to have major conversations with NASCAR because NASCAR has it embedded in these kids’ heads that they need to be in the (Camping World) Truck Series by the age of 16. But yet, they don’t allow them to drive a car at their home track until they are 14. How do they expect these kids to get any experience?”

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

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

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.