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Richard Childress, Roger Penske want NASCAR to run All-Star package again

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CONCORD, N.C. — Hall of Fame car owners Richard Childress and Roger Penske want NASCAR to run the package used in last week’s All-Star Race again this season.

Because of the charter agreement between NASCAR and teams, any significant mid-season rule change (other than for safety) would have to be approved by car owners. Childress said he would vote to approve it.

“Anything that is good for our sport right now, which I think it would be, I’m for it,’’ Childress told NBC Sports on Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I’m putting RCR aside and looking at the sport itself. If everybody in this garage will do that … put the sport first and we all go out and put the best show for the fans in the stands, that’s what we’ve got to do.’’

MORE: Momentum building from some drivers to run All-Star package again

Penske, speaking to the media Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway said he enjoyed last weekend’s All-Star Race.

“I thought it was terrific,’’ Penske said “Nobody could get away.

“Directionally, I think it’s the right thing to do. What I like about it is we’re trying something.’’

Where should this package run?

“I’d like to see us maybe run (Indianapolis) and somebody talked about running it at Michigan,” Penske said.

Childress, told of Penske’s recommendation on where to run the package, said: “That would be a good starting place, either one of them.’’

The Xfinity Series will run a similar package at Pocono (June 2), Michigan (June 9) and Indianapolis (Sept. 8).

Richie Gilmore, president of ECR Engines, told NBC Sports that engine suppliers plan to meet with NASCAR officials next week to discuss options to run the package this season.

“One of the challenges we have is our engines are already built three weeks in advance,’’ Gilmore said. “The Michigan and Pocono engines are already in the cars, given out to the teams. It’s a little bit more of a challenge this year because we have the sealed engine rule (teams must run a sealed engine in two races). So we already have our schedules laid out in advance.’’

Gilmore says the engine builders are in support of running the package again this year.

“We all do believe this is something healthy for the sport,’’ Gilmore said.

Gilmore said the engine builders have talked about running this package at Michigan in August and then four weeks later at Indianapolis in September. That would allow teams to use the same engines in both events. 

“I think that’s the feedback we’re going to talk about next week,” Gilmore said of the meeting with NASCAR. “Where is the best place to do this, as far as scheduling. I think we all feel this is something we can do as far as reliability. I think the next thing is just scheduling.’’

Gilmore said the engine builders “could react” to whatever races NASCAR decides to run the package.

“I think we went into the meeting (NASCAR had with team officials, engine builders and drivers Wednesday) thinking maybe it was possible for the 600, so we all kind of had a plan. It would be better, I think, for us to react to the second go around at Michigan and those races but we could make it happen (earlier) if we need to.’’

Nate Ryan contributed from Indianapolis

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Sam Bass, famed paint scheme and race program designer, dies

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Sam Bass, the artist known for designing many iconic NASCAR paint schemes and race programs, died Saturday.

His wife Denise confirmed Bass’ passing on Twitter. He was 57.

Bass, who designed Jeff Gordon’s striking “Rainbow Warriors” paint scheme, had spent the last few years looking for a new kidney. That was a result of a sepsis infection that originated in a blister on his left foot in 2005 and led to a below-the-knee amputation in 2008. Bass also had Type 1 diabetes, which he was diagnosed with at the age of 29.

Bass was inspired to become a NASCAR artist when he was 7 after attending his first race at Southside Speedway in suburban Richmond, Virginia.

“I was so amazed that night not only by the excitement and watching those cars run around and beat and bang on each other, but also the color – how all the cars were painted so many different colors,” Bass told NBC Sports in 2017. “I was like, ‘How cool is this?’ I couldn’t wait to get home to pull out my markers.”

The first car Bass designed was Bobby Allison’s Miller High Life car in 1988. That car went on to win the Daytona 500.

He went on to design the first Cup schemes for Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Bass first designed a race program for the 1985 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He designed programs for it and other Speedway Motorsports, Inc. tracks through 2018.

Marcus Smith, the CEO and President of SMI, issued the following statement.

“Our deepest sympathies are with Denise and her family today. Sam Bass has been a significant part of NASCAR’s history. He poured his heart, soul and talent into producing souvenir program covers at many speedways including Charlotte for more than 30 years. His work provided our fans a keepsake to treasure, and that was so appropriate, because Sam was always such a fan of our sport and he was such a treasure to the entire NASCAR family. His body of work will be a legacy that lives forever. We will miss Sam’s smile and positivity.”

Michael McDowell leads final Daytona 500 practice

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Front Row Motorsport’s Michael McDowell was fastest in the final practice session for Sunday’s Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET on Fox).

McDowell and his No. 34 Ford recorded nine laps and a top speed of 191.440 mph.

The top five was completed by Ty Dillon (191.432 mph), pole-sitter William Byron (191.339), Alex Bowman (191.278) and Daniel Hemric (190.921).

Only 20 cars made at least one lap in the session.

Kurt Busch recorded the most laps in the session with 16 and was 11th on the speed chart at 189.741 mph.

Of four drivers to make a 10-lap run, Bowman had the best average at 190.334 mph.

There were no incidents in the session.

Click here for the practice report.

Jeffrey Earnhardt honors grandfather Dale Earnhardt with helmet design

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Xfinity Series driver Jeffrey Earnhardt is honoring the “GOAT” in his family with a helmet he’s debuting this weekend at Daytona International Speedway.

The “GOAT” – or “Greatest of All-Time” – is his grandfather, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt.

The helmet, which you can see below, bears an image of the seven-time Cup champion riding a horse while shirtless and wearing a cowboy hat.

Next to the image is the text, “Just a goat on his horse!”

Earnhardt will have the helmet today as he starts on the front row of the Xfinity Series season opener (2:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1).

It is the first of nine Xfinity races he’ll start for Joe Gibbs Racing this season.

MORE: Jeffrey Earnhardt ready for challenge of winning in Xfinity

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

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The NASCAR Xfinity Series kicks off the 2019 season today with the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona International Speedway.

The 38-car field will feature defending series champion Tyler Reddick, who seeks to become the first driver to defend his Xfinity championship since Ricky Stenhouse Jr., won in 2011 and repeated in 2012.

Here’s how today’s pre-race schedule looks:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given by Drew Patey, VIP Partner of the NASCAR Racing Experience, at 2:37 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 2:49 p.m.

PRERACE CEREMONIES: Driver introductions begin at 2:10 p.m. The invocation will be given at 2:30 p.m. by Sonny Gallman, Pastor of Central Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Florida. The National Anthem will be at 2:31 p.m. and sung by Gina Marie Incandela.

DISTANCE: The race is 120 laps (300 miles) around the 2.5-mile track.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 2 p.m. and also can be heard at MRN.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for cloudy skies with a high of 74 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain for the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Tyler Reddick won last year’s season-opening race. He started 11th and led 11 laps en route to the victory.

TO THE REAR: Pole-sitter Tyler Reddick will start from the rear after changing a tire with an air leak.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.