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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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Truck practice report at Miami

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Championship contender Stewart Friesen posted the fastest lap in Friday’s final Gander Outdoors Truck Series practice session at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Friesen led the way with a lap of 165.320 mph. He was followed by Jesse Little (165.239 mph) and Christian Eckes (164.124).

Friesen was the only one of the four championship contenders in the top 10. Matt Crafton was 18th (160.901 mph), Brett Moffitt was 27th (159.250) and Ross Chastain was 28th (159.193).

Truck teams are limited to six sets of tires for today. The track wears tires, bringing speeds down. Teams save their tires for qualifying and the race.

 

Truck qualifying is scheduled for 4:35 p.m. ET today. The race is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET today.

FIRST PRACTICE

Grant Enfinger posted the fastest lap in the first of two practice sessions Friday for the Gander Outdoors Truck Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Enfinger paced the field with a lap of 168.010 mph. Next was reigning series champ Brett Moffitt, one of the four championship contenders in tonight’s race, with a lap of 167.639 mph. Austin Hill was third with a lap of 167.162 mph.

Championship contender Ross Chastain ranked fourth (167.141 mph). Moffitt and Chastain were the only title contenders in the top 10. Matt Crafton, seeking his third series crown, was 11th on the speed chart at 165.042 mph. Title contender Stewart Friesen was 13th on the speed chart at 164.404 mph.

Truck teams will have another practice and then qualifying before tonight’s season-ending race.

Friday’s NASCAR schedule at Miami

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The final NASCAR championship weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway kicks off today with the first champion to be crowned in tonight’s season-ending Truck Series race.

The day gets going early with back-to-back Truck Series practices in the morning, followed by two Xfinity Series and two Cup practices, Truck qualifying and then the evening’s main event, the Ford EcoBoost 200.

Stewart Friesen, Ross Chastain, Matt Crafton and defending Truck Series champion Brett Moffitt will battle it out for the championship.

The wunderground.com site forecasts a temperature of 75 degrees, partly cloudy skies and a 14% chance of race for the start of the Truck Series race.

Here’s how today’s schedule shapes up:

(All times are Eastern)

7:30 a.m. – Truck Series garage opens

9:05 – 9:55 a.m. – Truck Series practice (No TV)

10:35 – 11:25 a.m. – Final Truck practice (No TV)

11 a.m. – 9 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

12:30 – 10 p.m. – Cup garage open

2:35 – 3:25 p.m. – Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

3:35 – 4:25 p.m. – Cup practice (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network)

4:35 p.m. – Truck Series qualifying; single truck/one lap (FS1)

5:35 – 6:25 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

6:15 p.m. – Truck Series driver-crew chief meeting

6:30 – 7:20 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN, MRN)

7:30 p.m. – Truck Series driver introductions

8 p.m. – Ford EcoBoost 200; 134 laps/201 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Dover President honored as Comcast Community Champion of the Year

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Comcast has announced that Dover International Speedway President & CEO Mike Tatoian as the fifth annual Comcast Community Champion of the Year. Comcast established the prestigious award in 2015 to honor NASCAR industry members for their philanthropic efforts and with this year’s contributions, Comcast has donated more than a half million dollars ($600,000) to charitable organizations in the NASCAR community through the program.

Tatoian has been a staple of the Delaware and mid-Atlantic charitable communities, particularly with local military organizations at Dover (Del.) Air Force Base, since he began his tenure at the “Monster Mile” in 2007. One of his longest commitments has been with United Service Organizations. Established during World War II, the USO supports U.S. service members wherever they are, including on-base, deployed abroad, passing through an airport or in local communities at more than 200 locations around the world.

“We’re all fortunate to be involved in this great sport and privileged to give back as well; the spirit we recognize throughout NASCAR is the same spirit behind our community impact programs at Comcast,”  said Matt Lederer, Comcast Vice President of Brand Partnerships. “It’s an honor to recognize Mike Tatoian as the 2019 Comcast Community Champion of the Year, he has leveraged his platform within the sport to bring awareness to his genuine passion of supporting the military community.”

MORE: A soldier he never knew inspired track president to do more

One particular duty that distinguishes USO Delaware is it’s the only USO in the world that shares the responsibility of bringing home fallen service members, working alongside other units such as the Air Force Mortuary Affairs, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, the Joint Personal Effects Depot and the Families of the Fallen. For 13 years, Tatoian has assisted USO Delaware with countless programs and currently serves as the Chairman of the Advisory Council for the organization.

Tatoian was chosen by a panel comprised of Comcast and NASCAR executives, as well as defending NASCAR Cup Series champion, Joey Logano, who won the award in 2018. NASCAR on FOX Coordinating Director, Artie Kempner, and NASCAR driver, David Ragan, nominated as finalists for the award, were each awarded $30,000 toward the amazing work they do with Autism Delaware and Shriners Hospital for Children, respectively.

Kempner started Autism Delaware out of his living room in 1998 after his son, Ethan, had been diagnosed with autism a year earlier, and 20+ years later it’s a statewide service agency offering lifespan services, as well as social and recreational program for families in a safe and welcoming environment. Ragan has been dedicated to supporting Shriners Hospital for Children as a part of their ambassador program since 2012. Ragan spends much of his off-time visiting hospitals, fundraising, as well as inviting patients to the race track for once-in-a-lifetime experiences at NASCAR events.

Comcast has a long track record of community service, aiding in the advancement of local organizations, developing programs and partnerships, mobilizing resources to connect people and inspiring positive and substantive change. To learn more about the Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award, please visit ComcastCommunityChampion.com.

Four Cup teams docked practice in Miami

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The Cup cars of Chase Elliott, William Byron, Matt DiBenedetto and Joe Nemechek each will miss 15 minutes of Friday’s opening Cup practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway for failing inspection twice last weekend at ISM Raceway, NASCAR announced.

First Cup practice is scheduled from 3:35 – 4:25 p.m. ET today on NBCSN.

In the Xfinity Series, the cars of Ryan Sieg, Bobby Earnhardt and Brandon Brown will each miss 15 minutes of opening practice for being late to inspection previously.

Xfinity opening practice is scheduled from 2:35 – 3:25 p.m. ET on NBCSN.