Daniel McFadin

Brett Moffitt seeks to join pantheon of NASCAR ‘stache champions

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The first question to Brett Moffitt wasn’t about his four wins or the sponsorship woes that nearly cost him his playoff eligibility.

No, it was the thin strip of hair above the 26-year-old’s lip that was the elephant in the room.

Make that the caterpillar in the room.

After almost a month of growth you can’t miss it, especially in a series made up mostly of follicle challenged drivers under the age of 25. At the Camping World Truck Series Playoff Media Day, only the working man’s beard of 42-year-old Matt Crafton rivaled it.

Moffitt’s ‘stache is arguably the most talked about in NASCAR – at least on this day – since Dale Earnhardt Sr. shaved his to go snorkeling in 1999 or Jeff Gordon attempted to regrow his infamous rookie year ‘stache in 2012.

Those happen to be the ‘staches that stand out to Moffitt in NASCAR history, which is filled by the glorious whiskers of Terry Labonte, Dale Jarrett, Tim Richmond, Richard Petty and Mike Skinner.

Noah Gragson, one of Moffitt’s seven playoff foes, is not impressed with Moffitt’s ‘stache.

The eight Truck Series playoff drivers and Brett Moffitt’s mustache. (Getty Images).

“I think I can grow a much better mustache than him,” Gragson said straight-faced. “If you gave me a day-and-a-half, I could grow a broom on my upper lip. It’s not too good. His isn’t that great. His looks like a 12-year-old’s mustache.”

Has the 20-year-old driver grown his own?

“I haven’t yet,” Gragson admitted. “I just know I could grow a good one like that.”

Smooth-faced at 35, Stewart Friesen is actually “a little jealous” of Moffitt, since his facial hair follicles don’t have it in them to “make a good playoff beard.”

“When we won (Super) Dirt Week in 2010, 2011, everybody on the crew grew a mustache,” Friesen said. “But now he’s got it, he’s flying the flag.”

Moffitt will look to fly the flag that was last carried by Jack Sprague.

Moffitt, in his first year with Hattori Racing Enterprises, isn’t very familiar with Sprague, who was Ron Hornaday Jr.’s primary rival in the Truck Series in the 90s.

He won three titles in 1997, 1999 and 2001. Moffitt was only 9 when Sprague and his ‘stache won their final title together, marking the last time a national NASCAR driver won a championship with nothing but a ‘stache on his face.

“That’d be pretty awesome then,” Moffitt said of possibly giving his team the first ‘stache title in 17 years. “Bringing it back to the early 2000s.”

The chance to become the first millennial ‘stache champion in NASCAR started as a joke.

Last month Moffitt challenged his team before the seven-race playoff started.

“I can’t grow a beard, so I couldn’t do a playoff beard,” Moffitt said. “But I could do a … mustache. I joked with them, ‘Whose going to be in on it?’ Most of them agreed.”

He started growing the mustache – his first serious attempt at facial hair – the week of his Aug. 3 K&N Pro Series East win at Watkins Glen. Since then he won his fourth Truck race at Michigan and placed 18th at Bristol.

Moffitt doesn’t even touch it as part of his daily hygienic routine.

“This is just natural,” Moffitt said. “Just let it go, baby.”

In the last week, the 2015 Cup Series Rookie of the Year started to get cold feet.

Monday evening, he posted a Twitter poll: Keep the ‘stache or “give in to the haters”?

Thanks to 77 percent of 1,273 votes, Moffitt will ride with his new facial companion all the way through the playoffs, which begins this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Matt Crafton’s beard prepares to do battle with Brett Moffitt’s mustache. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)

“I said the only way I’m going to shave it off is if I meet a really hot chick that says, ‘No, unless you get rid of the mustache,'” Moffitt declared.

What if a sponsor – one Moffitt is looking to back his low-funded No. 16 Toyota at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 13) and Texas Motor Speedway (Nov. 2) – doesn’t care for it?

“That’s not in my contract,” Moffitt said. “So I can have all the facial hair I want.”

Since it’s here to stay, Moffitt will try to make history.

Told Moffitt could have the first title ‘stache since Sprague, Crafton gave a hearty laugh.

He then said he’d do his best to “keep that from happening.”

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William Byron out of Daytona 500 after wreck

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William Byron is the first driver out of the Daytona 500 following a wreck late in Stage 1.

Byron, who won his qualifying race last week, wrecked with seven laps left in the stage after he received a push from pole-sitter Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Byron slid through the backstretch grass before hitting the inside wall nose-first.

Byron was running in the top five with all three of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates when the incident occurred.

“He was kind moving when he hit me first,” Byron told FS1. “So he pushed me left with him. Then he hit me off center in the left rear and just turned me around. … It’s unfortunate. I feel like there’s really no reason, it’s Lap 45 or whatever it was, to be that aggressive moving across my bumper.”

Byron doesn’t leave Daytona empty-handed as he has 10 points from his qualifying race win.

Former NASCAR Chairman Brian France defends leadership style in interview

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Former NASCAR Chairman Brian France defended his leadership style when running the stock-car series and said in an interview with Sports Business Journal that he was working on leaving the sport before he was ousted after his DWI arrest in August 2018.

The interview with Sports Business Journal marked France’s first public comments since his arrest.

France became NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in September 2003, assuming the position from his father, Bill France Jr.

Brian France held that position until Aug. 6, 2018, when he took a leave of absence after his arrest for driving while intoxicated in Sag Harbor, New York. He was replaced by Jim France and did not return to NASCAR.

Brian France pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in June 2019. As part of the agreement, he was required to complete 100 hours of community service and undergo alcohol counseling. If he completes those and does not run afoul of the law, his misdemeanor charge will be reduced to a non-criminal infraction in June 2020.

France told Sports Business Journal that he was actively talking to and identifying potential replacements before his arrest but did not go into detail.

France, who oversaw the TV deal with NBC and Fox that goes through 2024 and created the Chase/playoff format, defended his absence from the track during his reign. France did not attend every race and that became an issue in the garage, raising questions about how involved he was with the sport.

“I understand that kind of criticism, but there is no other sports league that gets any criticism like that,” France told Sports Business Journal of the time he spent at the track. “I’ve always found that a bit interesting that no one else asks another commissioner how many football games or practices he made.”

Jim France is at the track nearly every weekend. Brian France told Sports Business Journal that while his uncle attends more races to match his objective, “(it) didn’t match up with mine, so I had to take the criticism on my way to managing the commercial side.”

France, who endorsed Donald Trump for president at a Feb. 29, 2016 rally at Valdosta State University in Georgia, accompanied President Trump on Air Force One to Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, according to the pool media report.

Monday’s Daytona 500: Restart time, weather and more

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Let’s try this again.

After rain postponed Sunday’s race, Cup drivers will get back on track Monday at Daytona International Speedway to complete the Daytona 500. And the forecast looks very good for Monday’s race.

The race was halted after 20 of 180 laps with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leading.

Here are today’s details:

(All times are Eastern)

RESTART: Command to fire engines at 4:02 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:12 p.m. 

DISTANCE: 180 of the scheduled 200 laps remain to be run on the 2.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 65. Stage 2 ends on Lap 130.

TV/RADIO: Fox’s broadcast begins at 4 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s broadcast begins at 4 p.m. and also can be heard on mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 73 degrees and a 3% chance of rain when the race resumes.

RUNNING ORDER:

  1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Aric Almirola
  4. Ryan Newman
  5. Kevin Harvick
  6. Brad Keselowski
  7. William Byron
  8. Jimmie Johnson
  9. Ty Dillon
  10. Timmy Hill
  11. David Ragan
  12. Chris Buescher
  13. Matt DiBenedetto
  14. Chase Elliott
  15. Ross Chastain
  16. Alex Bowman
  17. Kyle Larson
  18. Kurt Busch
  19. Austin Dillon
  20. Cole Custer
  21. Michael McDowell
  22. Tyler Reddick
  23. Ryan Blaney
  24. Bubba Wallace
  25. Reed Sorenson
  26. BJ McLeod
  27. Corey LaJoie
  28. Brendan Gaughan
  29. Ryan Preece
  30. Justin Haley
  31. Martin Truex Jr.
  32. Kyle Busch
  33. Erik Jones
  34. Christopher Bell
  35. Denny Hamlin
  36. Clint Bowyer
  37. John Hunter Nemechek
  38. Quin Houff
  39. Joey Gase
  40. Brennan Poole

Daytona 500 postponed to Monday

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The Daytona 500 has been postponed until Monday, NASCAR announced Sunday evening.

The race is scheduled to take the green flag at 4:05 p.m. ET Monday. The garage will open at 1:30 p.m. The race will air on Fox.

The wunderground.com forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 72 degrees and an 11% chance of rain when the race is scheduled to resume.

The race was scheduled to take the green flag Sunday at 3:18 p.m. ET but that was pushed back because of President Donald Trump’s participation in ceremonies before the race. He gave the command to start engines and his motorcade led the field on a pace lap. An extra pace lap was done to honor Jimmie Johnson, who is making his final Daytona 500 start.

As the field was set to take the green flag at 3:29 p.m. ET, rain in Turns 1 and 2 prevented the start. Rain fell throughout the track and led to a 51-minute delay.

When the race resumed, the field completed 20 laps before rain led to a caution at 4:36 p.m. ET. The field again was brought to pit road and the race was stopped. NASCAR told teams they could uncover cars on pit road at 6:18 p.m. ET but almost immediately there were reports of rain drops around the track. Drivers were called to their cars but never got in them. It began to pour around 6:44 p.m. ET. The race was called at 6:50 p.m. ET

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led the opening 20 laps. He is followed by Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick.

Sixth through 10th is Brad Keselowski, William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, Ty Dillon and Timmy Hill.

This is the second time the Daytona 500 has been postponed by rain. It happened in 2012.