Daniel McFadin

Ryan Truex’s T-shirt and the Dale Earnhardt Jr. effect

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — When his media availability began Wednesday at the NASCAR Media Tour, Ryan Truex was busy multitasking.

The new driver for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series was taking questions while finishing making his newest T-shirt design available for purchase online via his phone.

“Sorry if I’m not looking at you,” Truex said.

NASCAR’s official Twitter account gave Truex and his new shirt, which he was wearing, a shout out.

That’s when Dale Earnhardt Jr. struck. He retweeted the post to his roughly 2.4 million followers.

Near the end of his 19-minute interview, Truex held up his phone. The screen was full of push notifications indicating purchases of the shirt.

“Look, those are all orders. Already,” Truex marveled.

This is regular occurrence for the younger brother of defending Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr.

“Dale’s crazy. Every time last year he would tweet a picture of it or something, I’d already be sold out,” Truex said. “So I couldn’t do anything. Or I’d have 20 left and he’d do that and they’re gone instantly.”

On the gray shirt, an outline of his No. 11 Chevrolet is located beneath a simple, lowercase slogan: “go ryan.”

Last year, the outline was of his No. 16 truck he drove for Hattori Racing in the Camping World Truck Series.

It’s a simple design, but one the 25-year-old driver has wanted his entire career.

“I’ve never had my own T-shirts at all,” Truex said. “You know, like the crazy NASCAR design ones you see that every driver has. The ones that have the race cars on them and all the crazy graphics. I never even had that when I was racing Legends cars, late models, anything. I always wanted it, but I wanted it to be different.”

It’s helped him show come out of his shell.

“I was kind of an introvert and kept to my self, didn’t really talk to anybody,” Truex said. “I always thought if I was good and I was fast, I’d be fine. Everything else would work out. When I started out in the K&N Series I had never once done an interview in my life. And I won a race and I was in front of cameras and I had no idea … I was honestly like Ricky Bobby. His first interview, that was me. I had no idea what I was doing. Honestly, I’ve learned a lot just by doing it and experiencing it.

“As I’ve been around and started to learn how to show my personality more and shown who I am on social media and stuff, people have liked it. Even these shirts, I just made it.”

Truex, who will compete in his first full-time Xfinity season this year despite having 39 starts, first came up with the design in 2016, his first year driving for Hattori Racing. But he thought there was “no way people would like this.”

“I just kept it,” Truex said. “It sat for a year and then finally I just put a 16 on it and put it out there and it was a hit.”

Thanks in part to NASCAR’s 15-time most popular driver.

“If it weren’t for him, I don’t know,” Truex said. “I don’t know if people would have liked it as much. Dale’s awesome. He’s good friend.”

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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.