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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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Tyler Ankrum joins DGR-Crosley to contend for Rookie Truck honors

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Tyler Ankrum will move to the Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 2019 to compete for Rookie of the Year honors with DGR-Crosley, the driver and team announced on Twitter.

In 2018, Ankrum won the K&N East Championship with DGR-Crosley through four wins, nine top fives and 12 top 10s in 14 starts. Ankrum won three consecutive races at Thompson (CT) Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Iowa Speedway during the summer. His other victory came in May at South Boston (VA) Speedway.

Ankrum made two starts in the Truck series last year – scoring a top 10 in one of those races. He finished sixth at ISM Raceway.

“Taking the next step of my racing career is mind blowing,” Ankrum said in a tweet. “And I’m lucky enough to do it again with DGR-Crosley and Toyota Racing in 2019.”

Last year’s K&N Championship came in his rookie campaign in that series.

 

Vote for best 2018 Cup paint schemes

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It’s time to take stock of the 2018 Cup season.

That means voting in the best paint schemes of the year tournament.

The NBC Sports tournament has now reached its final four.

Here’s the bracket so far.

Bubba Wallace, RPM reinlist US Air Force as two-race sponsor

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Richard Petty Motorsports will continue to receive support from the United States military. On Friday, they announced the US Air Force will continue as a primary sponsor in 2019 as well as a major associate sponsor throughout the season on Bubba Wallace’s No. 43.

The two races for which the Air Force will be the primary sponsor are Saturday, July 6 at Daytona International Speedway (4th of July weekend) and Sunday, Nov. 10 (Veteran’s Day weekend) at ISM Raceway. Last year during his rookie campaign, Wallace finished in the top 15 in both of those races. He was 14th in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona and 10th at ISM.

“The Air Force continues to see benefits from our partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports and driver, Bubba Wallace,” said Major Ross McKnight, Chief, Air Force National Events Branch at Air Force Recruiting Service in a press release. “Wallace Jr. and his personality align well with our target audience’s interests and the Air Force’s commitment to teamwork and technology. The combination of Bubba Wallace and the iconic No. 43 provides a continuing sponsorship opportunity that reflects our Air Force core values of Integrity, Service and Excellence, as well as has a positive impact on generating public awareness about the U.S. Air Force, our people and our mission.

“Like NASCAR, much of our work is based on science, technology, engineering and math principles combined with teamwork and training. This sponsorship is a great way to highlight that connection.”

Last year, Wallace visited four Air Force bases. He participated in drills at each and flew in an F-16 with the 77th Fighter Squadron “Gamblers” at Shaw AFB in South Carolina.

“I was really impressed with all the different aspects of the Air Force, and the different opportunities they offer,” said Wallace Jr. “I was able to visit different bases and see the Airmen in action and actually participate myself. That gets me excited and then I’m able to talk to inspiring students who are looking at a career in the Air Force. I’m pretty humbled to represent the Air Force.”

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John Hunter Nemechek, Chase Briscoe approved to run for Xfinity Rookie of the Year

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NASCAR has approved John Hunter Nemechek and Chase Briscoe to compete for the Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year title in 2019, NBC Sports has confirmed.

Nemechek made 18 Xfinity starts in 2018 with Chip Ganassi Racing while Briscoe made 17 with Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush Fenway Racing.

Nemechek will compete for GMS Racing in the No. 23 Chevrolet. Briscoe will drive the No. 98 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.

When Nemechek was announced on Dec. 6 as joining GMS Racing, a team press release said he would compete for Rookie of the Year. But a NASCAR spokesperson said his eligibility had not been decided on at the time.

The Rookie of the Year title was not mentioned in SHR’s Nov. 27 press release about Briscoe going full-time.

The Xfinity rookie field next year will include Nemechek, Briscoe, Noah Gragson in JR Motorsports’ No. 1 Chevrolet and Justin Haley in Kaulig Racing’s No. 11 Chevrolet.

Briscoe said in an Q&A on Reddit he was “honestly surprised” he was approved.

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