Comcast announces finalists for Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award

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Announced on Thursday’s episode of NASCAR America, Comcast has named the three finalists for the 2016 Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award.

Created to recognize charitable efforts by members within the NASCAR industry, the award will be presented for just the second time this year.

The finalists are Ray Wright, the pit crew coach at Richard Childress Racing in the Sprint Cup Series; Wade Jackson, a fabricator in the Xfinity Series at JR Motorsports; and Samantha Busch, co-owner of Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series.

“Each year, it is both humbling and empowering to hear so many examples of how NASCAR is making a difference beyond the track,” said Matt Lederer, Executive Director of Sports Marketing at Comcast. “The Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award was created to extend our Xfinity partnership with NASCAR outside of the competitive space to reinforce the importance of bringing positive change to one’s own community, and it’s an honor to recognize this year’s finalists.”

Comcast will award $60,000 to the winner’s charity, as well as $30,000 to each of the two remaining finalists’ charities.

In 2015, Joey Gase was named the winner of the inaugural Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award for his work with the Iowa Donor Network, which is an organization that provides education on the importance of organ donation.

About the 2016 finalists:

Ray Wright (Welcome, North Carolina) is the founder of Pit Stops for Hope. The organization serves youth in America by providing food for children while helping create a positive classroom environment. Wright collects old pit crew items and sells them on pit road where fans make a donation toward the organization with their purchase. Wright also reached an agreement with Richard Childress Racing drivers to collect donations based on top-performing pit stops. Working with other organizations such as the Salvation Army and Second Harvest Food Bank, Pit Stops for Hope donates thousands of dollars to educators each year. A number of fundraising events are also held annually.

Wade Jackson (Mooresville, North Carolina) lost his son, Jacob Jackson, at 17 years old following congenital heart defect after open heart surgery. Wade and his wife Kim have since created Camp LUCK (Lucky Unlimited Cardiac Kids), which is a camp that provides a place for kids suffering heart disease to gather and experience the community. The Jackson’s put in countless hours promoting the organization’s mission that stretches across many other programs Camp LUCK offers, such as Kids Camp, where campers can bring one of their siblings to enjoy the experience with them. Family camp allows families to spend a long weekend together. Baby LUCK, Youth Board, Parent Support Network, Camp LUCK Cares, Camp LUCK Closet and Hug ‘n Heal Pillows is also offered by the organization.

Samantha Busch (Mooresville, North Carolina) and her husband, Kyle, discovered the expenses, lack of awareness on infertility and the rarity in insurance coverage associated with in vitro fertilization (IVF) when they turned to the REACH Clinic in 2014 for help conceiving their son. The Busch’s then created the Kyle and Samantha Busch Bundle of Joy Fund, which works to empower families to overcome the hardship by providing the essential tools to do so. Thirteen couples have benefited from the program in the last year and more than $140,000 have gone toward IVF treatments at the REACH Clinic. Samantha Busch also puts time into her annual Prom Dress Drive, where dresses are collected for young girls who cannot afford formalwear, in addition to working with the Pretty in Pink Foundation, which raises money for uninsured or under-insured breast cancer patients. Busch also spends each holiday season shopping for items she can provide to underprivileged families.

The winner of the 2016 Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award will be announced during the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series awards banquet on November 21. He or she will be selected by a panel of Comcast and NASCAR executives, as well as former driver Kyle Petty, and NASCAR.com reporter Holly Cain.

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Cup to run on Indianapolis road course in 2021

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The NASCAR Cup Series will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2021 but will race on the road course for the first time instead of the oval, track officials announced Wednesday.

Cup will race on the road course on Aug. 15. That race will be held a day after the NTT IndyCar Series races on the Indy road course.

“Our first NASCAR-IndyCar weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants involved,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and IndyCar together during this exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

MORE: Atlanta to have two Cup dates in 2021

MORE: Darlington to run Cup races on Mother’s Day, Labor Day weekend in 2021

The Cup Series has raced at Indy since 1994. But as the racing there has been questioned and the sport has made a push for more road course races, NASCAR moved the Xfinity Series to the road course this year as a trial. The event was well received, creating the opportunity to move next year’s Cup race to the road course as well.

Indy’s road course is 2.439 miles and features 14 turns. Chase Briscoe won the Xfinity race there after a four-car battle for the lead in the final laps.

The full Cup schedule will be announced Wednesday afternoon. The Xfinity schedule will be announced at a later date. Boles said on a media Zoom he was unsure of the Xfinity plans but talked with Joey Logano about an interest Logano would have in running in a Xfinity race there to get more track time for the Cup race.

 

Darlington Raceway gets second Cup race for 2021

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Darlington Raceway will have two races in 2021, marking the first time since 2004 that the track has been scheduled to hold multiple Cup races in a season. The track announced its schedule Wednesday with South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster at the Governor’s mansion.

“Congratulations. Thank you. Hallelujah,” Gov. McMaster said after the dates were announced.

Darlington was scheduled to host one race in 2020 but added two more in NASCAR’s return to racing after the season was suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

MORE: Atlanta to host two Cup races in 2021 for first time since 2010

The track will hold its first Cup race next season on May 9. That is Mother’s Day. It marks only the third time in the last 40 years the series will have run on Mother’s Day. The series last raced on Mother’s Day in 2007 when rain forced the Darlington race to be held that afternoon. The only other time NASCAR raced on Mother’s Day in the last 40 years was 1986 when the All-Star Race was held at Atlanta.

Darlington’s second date will be its Southern 500 event on Sept. 5, Labor Day weekend. That race will again open the  Cup playoffs.

NASCAR will announce the 2021 Cup schedule on Wednesday afternoon.

Darlington hosted two Cup races a season from 1960-2004. It held one Cup race from 2005-19.

The track stated that 2021 schedules for the NASCAR Xfinity and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be announced at a later date.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, tweeted that the Darlington races would be run with the low downforce package.

 

 

Atlanta to host two Cup races in 2021

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Atlanta Motor Speedway will host two Cup races in 2021, marking the first time since 2010 that the 1.5-mile speedway will have multiple Cup events in the same season.

Atlanta will host Cup races on March 21 and July 11.

The July 11 race will be the Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart, moving sponsorship that had been with Kentucky Speedway. Kentucky Speedway will not be on the 2021 schedule. Its date becomes the second Atlanta date. The March race will be known at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

The July race marks the first 400-mile race at Atlanta since 1966.

The track announced its dates Wednesday morning. The full 2021 Cup schedule will be released Wednesday afternoon.

Atlanta Motor Speedway stated on its website that it plans to host fans in its stands and camping areas in socially distanced, limited capacity for each of its Cup races in 2021.

“We’re beyond excited to deliver what our fans have been yearning for: a second weekend of NASCAR action in Atlanta once again,” AMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Brandon Hutchison said in a statement. “Folds of Honor and QuikTrip continue to be phenomenal partners for our spring weekend of racing and we’re thrilled to have Quaker State and Walmart on board this summer as we put together two weekends of entertainment and excitement for race fans.”

Talladega Truck starting lineup

Talladega Truck starting lineup
Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Sheldon Creed will lead the Talladega Truck starting lineup to the green flag in Saturday’s playoff race.

Creed led a race-high 89 laps last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before finishing second to Austin Hill. That win moved Hill to the next round of the playoffs.

Hill will start Saturday’s race second. Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger and Chandler Smith will follow him.

Click here for starting lineup

The race is the final event in the first round. Two drivers will be eliminated. Ben Rhodes is six points behind Christian Eckes for the final transfer spot. Todd Gilliland trails Eckes by 19 points.

Eckes starts sixth, Gilliland starts 10th and Rhodes starts 11th.

“We’re gonna go in there and be aggressive,” Gilliland said. “If we wreck trying to go for the win, I think we can live with ourselves on that, whereas other guys that might be able to let someone in and still make it on points, those guys are gonna be looking behind them and worrying about points this whole week. For us, it’s pretty simple.  There’s no one behind us. We can only move forward from here if we do our job right.”

The Talladega Truck starting lineup is set by using a formula based on four statistical categories: owner points position, owner final race position, the finish and fastest lap from the most recently completed race.

Performance Metrics Qualifying is a total number based on the previous race. The formula is 15% of a fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver’s final race finish position, 25% of the owner’s final race position and 35% of the owner points position. Any ties will be broken by the rule book.

NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega 

Race time: 1 p.m. ET, Saturday

Track: Talladega Superspeedway; Talladega, Alabama (2.66-mile speedway)

Length: 94 laps (250.04 miles)

Stages: Stage 1 ends Lap 20. Stage 2 ends Lap 40.

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Motor Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: NBC Sports app (subscription required); mrn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Lineup: Click here for starting lineup

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Talladega (113 laps, 300.58 miles), 4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Cup race: Sunday at Talladega (188 laps, 500 miles), 2 p.m. ET on NBC