Talladega gives awesome gift to Dale Earnhardt Jr.: his father’s former race car

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There are things that are neat and cool and awesome, but Talladega Superspeedway and the state of Alabama went way beyond those superlatives Friday when they thanked Dale Earnhardt Jr. for all the memories he’s given fans there.

The track and state honored Earnhardt Jr. — who will race at ‘Dega for the last time Sunday — by presenting him with one of his father’s former race cars as both a going away and belated birthday (he turned 43 on Oct. 10) gift.

That’s right, not a replica, but the actual car., a 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo that Junior’s father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., drove to his first career Cup win at Bristol in 1979.

David Pearson also won in the same car that season in the Southern 500 at Darlington when he filled in for the injured Earnhardt.

When the senior Earnhardt returned, he also drove the same car for several races en route to his first Cup championship in 1980.

While this particular car – emblazoned in gold and blue and wearing the No. 2 on the doors – never raced at Talladega, it still was a treat for Junior to receive.

To say he was surprised is an understatement.

“That was great,” Dale Jr. told NBCSN’s Marty Snider (see full video above). “I’m pretty surprised. I didn’t think I was going to take home a race car this weekend.

“The state of Alabama owns this car but they’re going to let us take it to Mooresville, N.C., and show it around in our shop, so it’s going to be fun for the guys. I got to take it for a couple laps, that was fun, drove it through the garage so all the guys could see it.

“It was pretty neat just trying to imagine what it’d be like running one around here at 180, 190 mph.

“They ran a Monte Carlo here in 1979, but in 1980 they ran an Oldsmobile 442 (at Talladega). This was the car he ran at Bristol and all the short tracks and mile-and-a-half’s.”

It was one of the few times in Junior’s life that he actually drove a car that his father had previously competed in, he told Snider.

“I drove his No. 3 Goodwrench car a couple times in tests that first year we were together, but never anything old like this, with some real history,” he said. “I love to be able to sit in the car and just see the perspective of how much the view was like. It’s so different than our cars today, no head rest or nothing like that. You see everything, you feel the wind blowing around, it’s pretty crazy.”

Earnhardt then added, “I just want to thank Talladega Superspeedway, the state of Alabama. They’ve been really good to me and hopefully we can get ‘em a win this weekend.”

Off-camera and before he climbed into the car, Junior joked about the 38-year-old car: “Are we sure the brakes are working before we take it for a ride?”

New Hampshire to add traction compound to racing surface

Photo: Dustin Long
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New Hampshire Motor Speedway officials will add the PJ1 traction compound to the racing surface before this weekend’s racing, a track spokesperson confirmed to NBC Sports.

Track officials are scheduled to put the traction compound on the track today and are expected to do so again Saturday and Sunday, pending NASCAR approval. The track reapplied the traction compound the morning of last July’s race.

The traction compound is to be applied to the first groove (lowest groove) and third grove (just outside the main groove) in all four corners. A track spokesperson said the traction compound would be applied on the 12 feet at the bottom of the track from the yellow line on up. Then there will be a 12-foot section that will not be applied (the main groove) and the traction compound is to be applied on another 12 feet above the main grove

The track used the PJ1 compound for both Cup weekends last year to help enhance the passing.

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Weekend schedule for Cup, Xfinity at New Hampshire

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The NASCAR Cup and Xfinity teams will make their lone visit of the year to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch combined to win 14 of the first 19 races. Will their dominance continue? In Xfinity, there have been six different winners in the last seven races. Will that streak continue.

Here’s a look at the track schedule for the weekend:



8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. — Cup garage open

10 a.m. – 6 p.m. — Xfinity garage open

Noon – 12:50 p.m. — Cup practice (NBCSN)

1:05 – 1:55 p.m. — Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

3:05 – 3:55 p.m. — Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

4:45 p.m. — Cup qualifying; multi-vehicle/three rounds (NBCSN, Performance Racing Network)


7 a.m. — Xfinity garage opens

8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. — Cup garage open

10:05 – 10:55 a.m. — Cup practice (CNBC)

11:05 a.m. — Xfinity qualifying; multi-vehicle/three rounds (CNBC)

12:35 – 1:25 p.m. — Final Cup practice (NBCSN)

1:30 p.m. — Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

3:30 p.m. — Xfinity driver introductions

4 p.m. — Lakes Region 200 Xfinity race; 200 laps/211.6 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)


8:30 a.m. — Cup garage opens

Noon — Cup driver/crew chief meeting

1:20 p.m. — Cup driver introductions

2 p.m. — Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 Cup race; 301 laps/318.46 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

NASCAR America: Kyle Busch believes Martin Truex Jr. is his biggest competition

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Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have been so strong in 2018 that many believe the championship will come down to them – and only them.

Busch has five wins, Harvick matches him with five and Truex earned his fourth win last week on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.

Who is Busch’s greatest competition? Busch does not think the other five-time winner will be the driver to beat. Instead, he picked Truex as the top contender at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Wednesday’s NASCAR America.

“If you had to choose just one, I’d have to say Martin,” Busch said. “Just with the successes that they’ve had on mile-and-a-halves. Even though Harvick’s been just as good at mile-and-halves.”

Last year, Truex dominated the 1.5-milers – including a win in the final race that crowned him champion.

“Overall, the 78’s just so strong and they certainly know how to turn up the wick when it matters most,“ Busch said.

Busch is not ready to concede the title to Truex, however.

“I think you’ve seen the 78’s dominance of last year toned back,” he said. “They’re third, they’re fourth, they’re fifth – they’re still competitive, They’re still right there, but they’re not nine seconds out front. So I think the field has been closed up. … But they still have that little bit of edge when they need it.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

NASCAR America: Kyle Busch would have accepted Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s call on Friday

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If Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had called Kyle Busch as late as Friday morning before the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, none of last week’s verbal conflict between the two would have happened.

At least that is Busch’s opinion of the situation.

“If he would have made the call: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – even Friday morning still counts,” Busch said. “He could have talked about how I hurt his feeling for the things I said over the radio when I blasted him because I was mad over knocking a wall down.

“He could have said, ‘Hey man I’m sorry I got into you – you know I pushed up,’ or whatever happened … and ‘Hey, by the way, those things that you said after the crash were pretty rough.’ And I would have been, like ‘Ricky, you’re totally right. That was over the top.’

Then, when the question was posed about whether they the two had talked, the answer would have been “yeah, we’re all fine.”

And that would have been the end of the story.

“I learned, after making that mistake a few times that it’s just easier to make the call,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “Sometimes you don’t even think you’re in the wrong. … But it’s just easier to go ahead and make the call, because that guy’s annoyed. It goes into the next week – and then, like (happened with) you guys, y’all had it play out in front of everybody at Kentucky.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.