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How a Corvette Power Wheels car led Brennan Poole to NASCAR

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Brennan Poole’s racing career was born from a shopping trip.

Poole’s father, Tom, had aspirations of buying a golf set for his son just after his second birthday. Knowing that most kids start young, Tom wanted Brennan to get used to having a club in his hand. Maybe one day he’d make a career of it.

Those plans changed once the family arrived at the toy store.

“I was walking around with my mom and came across the aisle that has all the big wheels and they had this little Corvette, just a white plastic power wheel that was on the ground,” Poole told NBC Sports. “So I climbed up in it and started driving it around the store. My dad came back with the golf club set and was like, ‘All right, let’s go,’ and when they were trying to get me out of the car I was not a happy camper. I was screaming and crying and just wanted to stay in the car and keep driving.”

After what he called a “long dispute,” Brennan got his way and went home with the Corvette. He drove it nonstop, which left his father with many nights of interrupted sleep. He would often wake up wondering, ‘Did I plug in all the spare batteries?’ If not, Brennan would throw fits.

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Brennan Poole in his white Power Wheels car (photo courtesy of Chip Ganassi Racing)

“We took it everywhere,” he said. “I remember when my dad was a manager at a Midas, and when I would go there after preschool or whatever, the car was there, and I would be driving it around next to the cars in the shop. It was just something that I really loved from an early age, just driving something.”

Poole put so many miles on his Power Wheels he went through more than one. Eventually, one of his father’s co-workers, who raced shifter karts, suggested the two spend time together by going to see a quarter-midget race. Tom not only obliged but eventually asked Brennan if it would be something he was interested in trying for himself.

Poole began his quarter-midget career at 5. The rest, as they say, is history. But even when he started racing, Poole didn’t lose his love for driving a Power Wheels car that quickly.

“I had them for a long time,” Poole said. “I used to get all the stickers and stuff and put them all on myself; I loved it. My dad would be working on the quarter-midget in the garage, and I’d be beside him putting decals all over my Power Wheels.”

As for the golf clubs, they also made it to the cashier that day, and Poole did take up golf for a bit when he was younger. In high school, he won a few tournaments but admitted it was never a natural love. All he wanted to do was race.

“I think it was kind of the first moment that I got to drive something, and something just clicked in my heart,” Poole said of the trip to the store. “I feel like God put that in my heart at an early age, and so I feel like it was kind of destiny almost to be at the store that day, that Corvette being on the floor and me hopping in and driving it. That’s kind of what led to me getting in a quarter-midget and starting racing.”

In his first full-time season in the Xfinity Series for Chip Ganassi Racing, Poole will enter the series’ inaugural Chase in Saturday’s opener at Kentucky Speedway.

As he seeks his first career Xfinity win, that fateful day at the store is never far from his mind.

“I’ve got a picture that’s taped on my bathroom mirror, and it’s a picture of me in the backyard at our house in California, and my dad is showing me something with the Corvette,” Poole said. “I’ve got some notes that I’ve written to myself also around that picture that are just a reminder for me of what God has done for me and where I’m at and just how incredible the journey from that moment and to now.

“To be in one of the highest series in motorsports in the world, man, it’s just really amazing. When you’re able to look back on all these cool moments, and I think of the path and everything and how I got to this point, it’s just really amazing.”

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Carson Hocevar to run full Truck schedule in 2021

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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

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JD Motorsports
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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

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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

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Photo: Dustin Long
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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.