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Martin Truex Jr.: ‘Blows my mind’ may one day be in NASCAR Hall of Fame

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — It didn’t hit Martin Truex Jr. until just before Christmas.

At some point, the 2017 Cup Series champion likely will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The realization occurred to Truex in the halls of Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I never thought about it until Winston Kelley actually said it to me,” Truex said of the Hall of Fame’s executive director Wednesday during the NASCAR Media Tour.

MORE: Questions about size of future Hall of Fame classes

“Every year, our foundation, we go to Levine’s and walk around and hand out toys to all the kids, and I put my Santa hat on. It’s a lot of fun, so I really enjoy it,” Truex said. “Winston Kelley always goes there and helps.”

The duo talked as they prepared to give out toys when Kelly made an “out of the blue” statement.

Kelley tapped the Hall of Fame logo on his shirt.

“You know, you’re pretty much a lock to get in here now,” Kelley said.

“He told me that, and I was like, ‘Well, I hadn’t even thought of that. That’s insane,'” recalled Truex, who won eight times in 2017 to bring his career total to 15 wins. “That was one of the moments this winter that I forgot about, what it was like. Yeah, I can’t believe that. Just to think ‑‑ yeah, that’s just crazy. Blows my mind.”

Last week, Truex got a taste of what it would be like to be inducted when he introduced the induction of the late Red Byron.

The Furniture Row Racing driver will get at least one unforgettable moment between now and the start of the Cup season next month.

Truex will get to attend his first Super Bowl next weekend in Minneapolis, Minnesota (Feb. 4 on NBC).

To make it better, his favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles, are vying for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title. They’ll play the five-time champion New England Patriots.

It’s only the third time the Eagles have made the title game in Truex’s lifetime.

“I was slated to go to the game before my team made it, which was kind of cool,” Truex said. “Yeah, going for NASCAR to do some NBC stuff with Dale Jr. (in) pregame, and excited about that. And then it was like, ‘All right, my team is pretty good this year, we’ve got a chance, we’ve got a chance,’ and the NFC Championship game was a pretty good celebration at my house last weekend … I’m really jacked about it. It’s going to be awesome.”

Truex has only seen the Eagles play twice in person.

“The fact that I’m going to the Super Bowl for the first time in my life, my favorite team is going, as well, for only the (third) time since I’ve been born, that’s pretty cool.”

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Brad Keselowski wins pole for New Hampshire Xfinity race

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Brad Keselowski will start first in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Keselowski claimed the pole for the Lakes Region 200 (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN) with a speed of 130.296 mph.

It’s his second pole in three starts this season and his fifth pole in 10 starts at the 1-mile track.

Keselowski is trying to win his fourth straight Xfinity race.

The Team Penske driver will be joined on the front row by Christopher Bell (130.126 mph).

The top five is completed by Ryan Preece, Cole Custer and John Hunter Nemechek.

Ryan Truex, Matt Tifft, Austin Cindric, Kaz Grala, Jeremy Clements, Michael Annett and Ross Chastain did not advance out of the second round.

During the first round the red flag came out with 6:25 left due to fluid on the track from Ryan Reed‘s No. 16 Ford.

Reed will start last.

Click here for qualifying results.

 

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

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Last year, Ryan Preece finished second to Kyle Busch in this race. Preece takes over the car that beat him last year and hopes to improve by one position. He’ll have to beat Cup regulars Brad Keselowski and Austin Dillon to do so.

Here’s all the info for today’s Xfinity race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:16 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 200 laps (211.6 miles) around the 1.05-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 45. Stage 2 ends on Lap 90.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 7 a.m. Qualifying is at 11:05 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 1:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Boston Sports Team Vocalist John Robert Murphy will perform the anthem at 4:01 p.m. The Canadian National Anthem will be performed by Jodie Cunningham at 3:58 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race beginning at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green on NBCSN. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 2:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 78 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Kyle Busch beat his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Ryan Preece by more than 10 seconds. William Byron came home third, with Cup regulars Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski rounding out the top five.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

Denny Hamlin posts fastest lap in Saturday morning Cup practice

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LOUDON, N.H. – Denny Hamlin had the fastest lap in Saturday morning’s Cup practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, leading the field with a lap of 132.942 mph.

He was followed by Ryan Blaney (132.526 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (132.462), Kyle Busch (132.406) and Kevin Harvick (132.356).

Harvick ran the most laps at 50. Harvick told NASCAR on NBC broadcaster Rick Allen in the garage that he ran so many laps to see how much the speed falls off as the tires wear. Jimmie Johnson was next with 42 laps run.

There were no incidents in the 50-minute session.

Ryan Blaney had the best 10-lap average at 131.767 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.

Start time of Sunday’s Cup race moved up to 1 pm ET

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LOUDON, N.H. – The start time for Sunday’s Cup race has been moved up to 1 p.m. ET because of the threat of rain, NASCAR announced.

NBCSN will broadcast the race. NBCSN’s coverage begins at noon ET.

The wunderground.com forecast for 1 p.m. ET Sunday calls for a 49 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms. There is a threat of rain throughout the day.

Kurt Busch won the pole for Sunday’s race.