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Darrell Wallace Jr. critical of Kyle Busch’s comments on marketing of young drivers

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Darrell Wallace Jr, a former driver for Kyle Busch in the Camping World Truck Series, called Busch’s criticism of NASCAR’s marketing of young drivers “dumb” and “stupid” Wednesday during the NASCAR Media Tour.

On Tuesday, Busch called a perceived emphasis on marketing young drivers over veterans “troublesome” and “stupid.”

The Joe Gibbs Racing veteran also claimed that drivers in Wallace’s generation “are bullied into doing more things than the older guys are because we say no a lot more because we’ve been there, done that and have families.”

When asked about Busch’s comments, the 24-year-old Wallace asked the gathered media, “You got video of this?”

He then let out of a mocking laugh.

“Ha Ha! That’s so dumb. So stupid,” Wallace said.

Wallace, who is embarking on his rookie Cup season with Richard Petty Motorsports, framed Busch’s comments as hypocritical based on his early years in the series. Busch’s rookie season was in 2005 at the age of 20.

“I know Kyle, I raced with him and I know how he is,” Wallace said. “I don’t know how old he is, 30 something, right? 32?  Damn, he’s that old? Getting up there, bud.  He was in the same kind of spot we were. They had the Gillette Young Guns back then. He’s still got the baby face now. Not really sure what he’s trying to say. He had kind of the same treatment we’re going through.”

Busch was made part of the Gillette program in 2011 with teammate Denny Hamlin. The program was established to highlight young NASCAR drivers in 2004. The 2011 class was the first to include athletes from other sports. Busch and Hamlin were the only NASCAR drivers included.

“I will say when certain drivers, if I ever get to this level, pinch me and try to bring me back down,” Wallace said. “But when it gets to a certain level, they stop doing stuff. Drivers stop doing stuff. We get requests all the time, some stuff we turn down, some stuff is like, ‘How does this help me? Does it help? Good. Ok, let’s do it.’

“It’s kind of like pulling teeth when you get well-established in the Cup Series.”

The comments reflect those made earlier in the afternoon by Wallace’s friend, Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney.

“I feel like if some drivers were more willing to do these things they’d get asked more to do it,” Blaney said. “The reason I get asked to do it a lot is because I say yes a lot. Because I think it’s good for the sport and myself. I can tell you personally (Busch) doesn’t like do a lot of stuff so that’s why they don’t ask him to do a lot of stuff.”

Both Wallace and Blaney had cameo roles in Pixar’s Cars 3 film released last year. They also went viral with they took over NASCAR’s SnapChat account during a road trip to a track.

Wallace will be the first full-time African-American driver in Cup since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott competed in the late 60s.

Wallace explained how he approaches marketing opportunities that are presented by NASCAR.

“It’s one of those things where I look at how is it going to promote my brand, promote the sport and promote the youth movement,” Wallace said. “If I’m promoting the sport, that means I’m promoting everybody in this room. We’re all part of this sport together. It’s actually like, ‘You’re welcome,’ for doing the dirty work. I wouldn’t really call it dirty work because some of it’s fun. We get to go to LA and hang out and be on Nickelodeon and do all this stuff. We like doing that. I don’t have the M&M’s sponsor (Busch’s primary sponsor) to carry me full-time. I have 13 races. So I have to put myself out there, I have to sell myself. If NASCAR’s going to do that and I don’t have to pay for it, hell yeah, sign me up.”

When Wallace’s time with the media was up, he rose from his chair, accidentally dropping his phone on the ground.

“Let’s see if I got a text from Kyle yet,” Wallace joked as he leaned over to pick it up.

“Nope, not yet”

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New Hampshire Cup race in rain delay

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The Foxwoods Resort & Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is in a rain delay.

The race was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET. The start time had been moved up from 2 p.m. ET due to the threat of weather.

Kurt Busch is on the pole and Martin Truex Jr. will start second.

Check back for more.

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at New Hampshire

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Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Nate Ryan

Denny Hamlin. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver rediscovers his magic here and locks into the playoffs.

Dustin Long

Martin Truex Jr. wins back-to-back races for the first time in his career.

Daniel McFadin

Kevin Harvick earns a career-best sixth win of the season.

Dan Beaver

Martin Truex Jr. is getting into the same groove he had last year. This week he catches Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. Next week, he starts to pull away,

Today’s Cup race at New Hampshire: Start time, lineup and more

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The Cup Series holds its only race of the year at New Hampshire Motor Speedway today with the Foxwoods Resort & Casino 301.

Kurt Busch starts on the pole and Martin Truex Jr. starts second.

Here’s all the info you need for today’s race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given by Jean Swift, treasurer of Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Counsel, at 12:51 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 1 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 301 laps (318.46 miles) around the 1.058-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 75. Stage 2 ends on Lap 150.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 35

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 7:30 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 11 a.m. Driver introductions are at 12:05 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Vanessa Salvucci will perform the anthem at 12:45 p.m. The Canadian National Anthem will be performed by Kirk Young at 12:42 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race beginning at 1 p.m. Coverage begins at noon with Countdown to Green on NBCSN. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at noon p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for a high of 70 degrees and a 78 percent chance of rain and storms at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Denny Hamlin won this race last year over Kyle Larson. Kyle Busch won the playoff race over Larson.

TO THE REAR: Landon Cassill (backup) and Michael McDowell (backup).

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the complete starting lineup.

Long: No idea seems too wild these days in NASCAR

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LOUDON, N.H. — A sea of change is brewing in NASCAR and no idea seems far-fetched anymore.

A Cup race incorporating Charlotte Motor Speedway’s infield road course would have been mocked. Such a race is about two months from happening.

A Cup race on a dirt track? It seems more plausible but still a few years away.

And the idea one driver has of turning a 1.5-mile track into a short track doesn’t seem as farcical as it would have been years earlier.

While the action on the track remains a key focus for NASCAR, the race to retain and reach out to more fans also is key. That’s opened conversation to changes, particularly what venues should hold Cup races.

“To me, if you go to a track that is smaller, it’s better for the fans,” Ryan Newman told NBC Sports. “If you go to a track that is slicker, it’s better for the fans. If you go to a track that is different, it’s better for the fans.

“At this point in our sport, different is good because we’ve done so much of the same in the last 18 years that I’ve been involved as a competitor. I would say as a fan it has become somewhat redundant.”

Camping World Truck teams on the dirt at Eldora Speedway. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Newman competed in Wednesday’s Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway and likes the idea of a Cup race on dirt. Cup last ran on dirt Sept. 30, 1970 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. Richard Petty won.

Is it time for Cup to return to its roots?

“The Cup Series was not above racing on dirt 40 years ago, 50 years ago,” Newman said. “Dirt is where we get our food from. There’s nothing wrong with racing on it.”

Not everyone agrees.

In the race by public opinion to change the sport, Kyle Larson is pumping the brakes on one idea.

“I wouldn’t like to see Cup on dirt,” Larson said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, echoing comments he made two years ago. “To me, Cup belongs on pavement and real road course tracks.”

Asked what could be done to make Cup racing on dirt a better idea to him, Larson noted improved tires for that surface and more horsepower. He then stopped himself and said: “I don’t really know how to answer the question without making people mad.”

One thing that is becoming evident is there are few bad ideas.

The notion of racing at different tracks is gaining momentum. The last track added to the Cup schedule was Kentucky Speedway in 2011.

“I think that new venues always add excitement,” Denny Hamlin said Friday. “I mean, that’s what really, in my opinion, boomed the popularity in the 2000s, was going to these new race tracks. You know, Kentucky was awesome for the first time and then it’s just kind of – it fizzled out and it’s still the same old Kentucky that it’s always been.

Kasey Kahne tests on the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo by Dustin Long)

“If you want to talk about a road course, there’s some amazing tracks just north of the border in Canada that are awesome – Montreal and tracks that are made for road course racing. The (Charlotte) roval is a little bit different of a beast because I don’t know how much architect went into coming up with passing zones and the lay of the land.

“It’s certainly a wildcard race and maybe that’s what the fans want. If it is, then we can – we’ll do that every week, but I definitely like the idea of going to new venues because there’s always a level of excitement.’’

But Hamlin also knows change will be slow.

For those wanting races at different venues, NASCAR signed five-year sanctioning agreements with tracks that go through the 2020 season. The 2019 schedule already has been announced. So unless something dramatic happens, there won’t be anything new until 2021.

If then.

“None of this is ever going to happen,” Hamlin said of the many venue changes fans and those in the sport support. “Not until these tracks and NASCAR get together and are willing to make changes.”

But fans and those in the sport can dream. While thinking about the possibilities, David Ragan has an idea for his home track of Atlanta Motor Speedway. The track’s rough surface, praised by drivers, likely will need to be repaved soon and with it will be the fear that the multi-lane racing will disappear.

Ragan has a solution for Atlanta. Don’t repave. Rebuild.

“Whenever they go to pave Atlanta Motor Speedway, they need to reduce the size of the track to three-quarters of a mile and build it like Iowa,” Ragan told NBC Sports. “I think they would make a big mistake if they would just repave it.”

It’s a wild idea that doesn’t seem likely to happen. Then again, who had ever heard of a roval two years ago?

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