Dale Earnhardt Jr. to miss next two Sprint Cup races

5 Comments

Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday that doctors have not cleared Dale Earnhardt Jr. to compete in this weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway and the Sept. 4 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Alex Bowman will drive the No. 88 car at Michigan. Jeff Gordon will be back in the car at Darlington.

“We know how hard Dale is working to get back,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, in a statement. “He’s following what the doctors are saying, to the letter, and doing exactly what he needs to do. Everyone wants to see him in a race car, but his health is first and foremost. We’re behind him.”

Earnhardt last competed July 9 at Kentucky Speedway. He’s missed the last five races since experiencing symptoms from a concussion that doctors determined he suffered in a June 12 crash at Michigan International Speedway.

Earnhardt underwent further evaluation Wednesday at the University Of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

Bowman drove the No. 88 car at New Hampshire in the first race Earnhardt missed. Jeff Gordon drove Earnhardt’s car the following races at Indianapolis, Pocono, Watkins Glen and Bristol. Gordon finished 11th last weekend at Bristol, his best finish in the No. 88. Gordon is unable to drive for Earnhardt at Michigan because of a prior commitment.

Earnhardt has shared many details via social media about his recovery and some of the physical and mental exercises he does.

During an interview Wednesday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Earnhardt’s sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, discussed the uncertainty of concussions and her brother’s recovery.

“He gets frustrated because the improvement is not as great as he wants it to be, as quick as he wants it to be,’’ said Earnhardt Miller, who was with her brother when he visited specialists Wednesday.

“Everything that you read about concussions, and as you talk to the doctors, you understand that this can be a process. You hear stories of a couple of weeks to several months, to many months and sometimes as long as a year (before recovery). I’ve talked to people out and about in my circle of friends. I was just in a meeting yesterday with a financial advisor and he said ‘I dealt with stuff for a whole year.’

“We don’t know what the time frame is. We want him to be healthy. He is wanting to be very forthright about it, wanting to be very honest. He wants everyone to understand so they don’t have to speculate what’s going on and he can just put it out there. When he feels better, he wants to feel 100 percent better before he gets in the race car and so do his doctors.’’

Earnhardt Miller said there’s little she can do but offer her brother support.

“It’s a helpless feeling to share that frustration with him that things aren’t happening as quick,’’ she said. “We take our bodies for granted. Our bodies are such a complex machine, and we don’t understand what’s going on to make us tick everyday. I think the frustrating thing for him is that there is no specific fix. It’s exercises and time.

“It’s not like you can just pop a pill or you can go get this surgery or something like that to just fix this and be better. It’s a process and that’s a little bit frustrating on his part. We’re here to help him. Sometimes we might not have the right words for him, but we’re just like today right alongside him at this appointment trying to be as supportive as we can.’’

Earnhardt said earlier this month at Watkins Glen International that he is focused on returning to the car as soon as possible.

“I’m not ready to stop racing,’’ he said Aug. 5. “I’m not ready to quit. It’s a slower process. I wish it wasn’t. I don’t know how long it’s going to take. I’m not going to go into the car until the doctors clear me. The is not my decision. I trust what my doctors are telling me. When they say I’m good to go I believe them.’’

Carson Hocevar to run full Truck schedule in 2021

Leave a comment

Niece Motorsports has signed Carson Hocevar to run the full NASCAR Truck schedule in 2021, the team announced Thursday.

Hocevar, who turns 18 in January, has run five races for the team this season. His best finish this year is 12th at Dover. He’s scheduled to run at Martinsville on Oct. 30.

“I’m so excited to get the opportunity to race fulltime next year with the Niece Motorsports group,” said Hocevar in a statement. “We’ve had some really strong runs in the few starts that we’ve had this season and I am grateful for the chance to continue that next year. I’ve learned so much already this year and know that we will keep improving next year too.”

“Carson has really impressed us this season,” said team owner Al Niece in a statement. “He’s proven his talent – getting into the truck with no track time and really holding his own. We’re thrilled to have him with us fulltime next season and look forward to contending for wins together.”

TikTok to sponsor Ryan Vargas in six Xfinity races

TikTok
JD Motorsports
Leave a comment

TikTok is coming to NASCAR.

The popular video sharing app will break into the sport next month as a sponsor of Ryan Vargas in the Xfinity Series.

TikTok has partnered with JD Motorsports to sponsor the 20-year-old Vargas in the final six races of the season, beginning with the Oct. 3 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“TikTok has provided me with an incredible outlet to reach new fans and demographics through fun and creative content, and I’ve seen the highest growth in followers on TikTok over my other social channels,” Vargas said in a press release. “The opportunity to run the No. 6 TikTok Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for the rest of the season is an absolute dream come true. Johnny Davis and the whole JD Motorsports with Gary Keller team took a chance on me last year and I’m excited to bring this amazing TikTok partnership their way. I wouldn’t want to make this partnership a reality anywhere else.”

Vargas has made three Xfinity Series starts this year. His best finish was 13th at Pocono.

The sponsor deal is part of TikTok’s Latinx Heritage Month programming.

A native of La Mirada, California, Vargas joined TikTok last year. He is a former member of NASCAR’s Drive 4 Diversity programming and a winner of the Wendell Scott Trailblazer award, which is given to a minority or female driver who displays exceptional on-track performance, sportsmanship, and community service.

The partnership and paint scheme were inspired by a concept scheme by graphic designer Ryan Pistana, a friend of Vargas’.

“Creators of all sizes and backgrounds show up to TikTok with their genuine, authentic selves,” Nick Tran, TikTok’s Head of Global Marketing, said in a press release. “Partnering with an iconic brand like NASCAR to sponsor Ryan Vargas on his racing journey is a way for us to continue to support, celebrate and elevate the diverse creators that make our TikTok community what it is today. Ryan is an incredible athlete, and we’re looking forward to cheering him on alongside the rest of the TikTok community!”

According to CNBC in August, TikTok has roughly 100 million monthly users, up nearly 800% from January 2018.

TikTok, a Chinese-owned company, has been in national headlines recently after President Donald Trump threatened to ban the app in the United States for national security reasons if it was not sold to an American company. On Sept. 19 he approved a deal for its U.S operations to be operated by Oracle and Walmart.

Las Vegas weekend schedule

Leave a comment

NASCAR’s postseason continues with the Las Vegas weekend schedule, as the Cup Series begins the Round of 12.

In addition to Cup, Las Vegas Motor Speedway will host the Xfinity Series’ playoff opener and the second race of the Truck Series’ opening round.

More: Kevin Harvick on pole for Cup race

Here is the Las Vegas weekend schedule:

(All times Eastern)

Friday, Sept. 25

Noon – 2 p.m. ET – Truck Series haulers enter (screening and equipment unload)

2 p.m. – Truck Series garage opens

2 – 8 p.m. – Truck Series garage access screening in progress

2:30 – 3 p.m. – Truck Series rookie meeting (electronic communication)

5 p.m. – Xfinity rookie meeting (electronic communication)

5:30 p.m.  – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting (electronic communication)

8:50 p.m. – Truck Series drivers report to vehicles

9 p.m.- Truck Series race; 134 laps/201 miles (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

11:30 p.m. – Truck Series haulers exit

 

Saturday, Sept 26.

11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Xfinity haulers enter (screening and equipment unload)

1 p.m. – Xfinity garage opens

1 – 6:30 p.m. – Xfinity garage access screening in progress

5 p.m. – Cup rookie meeting (electronic communication)

5:30 p.m. – Cup driver-crew chief meeting (electronic communication)

7:20 p.m. – Xfinity drivers report to cars

7:30 p.m. – Xfinity race; 200 laps/300 miles (NBCSN, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

9:30 p.m. – Xfinity haulers exit

10:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. – Cup haulers enter

 

Sunday, Sept. 27

Noon – Cup garage opens

Noon – 6 p.m.  – Cup garage access screening in progress

6:50 p.m. – Cup drivers report to cars

7 p.m. – Cup race; 267 laps/400.5 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

11:30 p.m. – Cup haulers exit

NTSB releases final report on Dale Jr. plane crash

NTSB
Photo: Dustin Long
Leave a comment

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.