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Xfinity Dash 4 Cash program gets underway at Bristol

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Someone’s pockets will get a little bit deeper Saturday afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The Xfinity Series’ Alsco 300 will pit 37 cars against each other for the win. But there will be a race within the race during the 300-lap event that ends with someone winning $100,000.

The race is the opening round of the annual four-race Dash 4 Cash program.

Each race sees four drivers compete for the $100K bonus. Those drivers are determined by the highest-placing series regulars in the previous race.

The lineup for Bristol – Tyler Reddick, Michael Annett, Chase Briscoe and Christopher Bell — was determined the same way last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

To top it off, no drivers who are earning points in the Cup Series are permitted to compete in the fours races, which will be held at Bristol, Richmond Raceway (April 12), Talladega Superspeedway (April 27) and Dover International Speedway (May 4).

Here’s at look at each driver’s season so far and how they’ve fared at Bristol in the past.

Chase Briscoe – Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 98 Ford

Briscoe has 23 Xfinity starts under his belt, yet he’s still classified as a rookie this year.

He’s earned two top fives this season (one in 2018) and four top 10s (four in 2018).

Saturday’s race marks his third Xfinity start at Bristol and first time competing in the Dash 4 Cash. The $100,000 is “definitely the most money” Briscoe has ever competed for.

“We’re racing three other guys and we don’t even have to win the race to win that bonus,” Briscoe said Wednesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.” “You can’t let your emotions get the best of you early in the race because you’ve got to be there at the end. More than likely you’re going to have to win the race to win the Dash 4 Cash, but there’s that chance where you might finish 25th and the other three guys all wreck and you win the bonus.

“But you got to be there and you got to be running at the end to have a chance. You have to keep your composure and it’s so easy to lose it at Bristol. If you’re in a good race car you can normally overcome getting knocked out of the way in a corner.”

Briscoe will attempt to better his two Bristol results from last year of 23rd and 34th (wreck).

Michael Annett – JR Motorsports No. 1 Chevrolet

Michael Annett has a lot to smile about.

The veteran of 235 Xfinity races is off to the best start of his Xfinity career five races after he earned his first win at Daytona.

Revitalized in part by new crew chief Travis Mack, Annett has two top fives, his most since 2012 and four top 10s, which bests his 2018 total by one. He also has an average finish of 7.5 through six races, which trails only Reddick among series regulars.

“I have one of those $100,000 checks from 2012 (at Indianapolis), and sure would like another one to keep it company,” Annett said in a media release. “Having a chance at $100,000 is amazing, and to have it happen at Bristol is even better. We were seventh there in the fall … and that was the first top-10 finish we had with Travis Mack as crew chief. There’s a lot of good momentum for our team right now, and winning that Dash 4 Cash prize would add a bunch to that.”

Tyler Reddick – Richard Childress Racing’s No. 2 Chevrolet

After a late push in 2018 that ended with him winning the Xfinity title, Reddick is doing a good job of backing it up this year.

Reddick leads the point standings despite not earning a win through six races. He has a series-leading four top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 6.2.

Now he takes that momentum to the high-banks of Bristol, where he has three series starts. His best finish was seventh in this race last year.

“It’s one of my most challenging tracks,” Reddick said in a media release. “Last year, I finished well but those races are just so tough. Hopefully, this year, my crew chief Randall Burnett and the team can help me have a better balance throughout the weekend. It’s tough because if your car isn’t great at Bristol, you can struggle a lot with the constant traffic you’re in while racing around.

“You really have no time to recover if you make a mistake, especially since you spend more time in the corners of the track rather than the straightaways. If things don’t go right, it can make for a long day, but with how we’ve been running lately I have faith our No. 2 Dolly Parton Chevrolet Camaro will be fast right off the hauler.”

Christopher Bell – Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota.

Bell enters Saturday’s race participating in his third Dash 4 Cash.

He looks to follow-up Ryan Preece‘s winning effort in this race last year for Joe Gibbs Racing to win the $100,000 bonus.

Bell, who has four starts in “Thunder Valley” across the Xfinity and Truck Series is still seeking his first win at one of his favorite tracks. A win on Saturday would give him two on the season.

“Bristol is P1 or P2 on my favorite tracks list, that’s for sure,” Bell said in a media release. “It’s so much fun because the track is so fast, it’s so small and you have to deal with lapped traffic. You really have to think your way around Bristol and it’s an attack place, you can’t just cruise around there, which makes it a lot of fun.  I’m really excited to get back there.”

Hailie Deegan on IMSA debut: ‘I’m not mad. I’m gaining experience’

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The first day of Hailie Deegan’s foray into sports car racing was one with mixed results.

Deegan and teammate, NASCAR Xfinity driver Chase Briscoe, finished 43rd of 51 teams that were entered in Friday’s Michelin Pilot Challenge at Daytona International Speedway.

Deegan ran as high as 15th before the car experienced mechanical issues roughly three hours into the four-hour event, and it was brought in to be worked on for the remaining time.

Deegan and Briscoe were in the No. 22 Multimatic Motorsports Inc. Ford GT4, which ran a total of 86 laps. One other NASCAR driver, Xfinity pilot Austin Cindric, was teamed with Seb Priaulx in the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Inc. Ford Mustang GT4, and together they finished 45th, completing 78 laps.

One other name of note was IndyCar driver Gabby Chaves, who finished 28th (completed 107 laps).

The fastest team in the field was Dylan Murry, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Jim Cox, who collectively ran the entire 110 laps.

While her team continued to work on the car in the garage, Deegan visited the infield media center to speak about her first race experience in an IMSA sports car.

I feel like I just gained a lot of experience,” Deegan said. “I’m here to gain experience after that three-day road test, coming here and practicing for two days.

“I just feel like I know a lot more about racing than I did before. And that’s why I’m here and supposed to be doing.”

The biggest challenge, Deegan said, was the large number of cars she had to compete against.

“The traffic is a little difficult to deal with; it’s not bad, though,” Deegan said. “It makes it fun. It makes it interesting. You constantly have to be on your toes.

“What I like about sports car racing is how many of the points you have to remember in your head. You get a little distracted for a second, and the next thing you know, you overdrive the corner that kind of laps into the next corner.

“So there’s constantly so much going on, you have to be on top of your game.”

While she would have liked to have more time on track had it not been for the mechanical issue, Deegan was philosophical about how the day played out.

“I’m not mad, I’m gaining experience,” she said. “That’s what I’m here to do.”

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DC Solar founders to plead guilty to charges related to $1 billion Ponzi scheme

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Thirteen months after the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service raided the headquarters of DC Solar and the home of its founders, Jeff and Paulette Carpoff, the couple has entered plea agreements related to a $1 billion Ponzi scheme, the impact of which saw Chip Ganassi Racing close its Xfinity Series program in 2019.

Jeff Carpoff has agreed to plead guilty to one count each of wire fraud and money laundering while Paulette Carpoff will plead guilty to one count each of conspiracy and money laundering.

According to the plea agreements filed with the Eastern District of California, the government will recommend an initial sentence of 30 years in prison for Jeff Carpoff and 15 years for Paulette Carpoff prior to any co-operation they provide with the case.

The agreement outlines a Ponzi scheme that operated from March 2011 to December 2018, ending with the raids on the Carpoff’s residence in Martinez, California, and DC Solar’s headquarters in Benicia, California.

DC Solar was a company that built and leased solar energy equipment and also sponsored Chip Ganassi Racing in the Cup and Xfinity Series. It was the primary or co-primary sponsor for Kyle Larson in 16 Cup races and for three races with Jamie McMurray in 2018. It also sponsored 10 Xfinity races with Ganassi and announced in November 2018 it would sponsor Ross Chastain’s full-time ride in 2019.

It also sponsored Xfinity Series races in 2018 at Phoenix Raceway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the infield “FanGrounds” at Richmond Raceway.

In the wake of the raids and the company filing for bankruptcy in January 2019, CGR was forced to close its Xfinity operation.

During the nearly eight-year scheme, the plea agreement says the Carpoffs used the money generated from it to buy their NASCAR sponsorships, 150 luxury and collectible vehicles and luxury real estate in Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, the Caribbean and Mexico.

They also purchased a suite at a professional football stadium, a subscription private jet service, the Martinez (California) Clippers minor league baseball team and a 2018 performance by an internationally known rapper at a company holiday party.

Funds were also used to make illicit payments to their co-conspirators and others.

As part of their respective plea agreements, the Carpoffs have agreed to pay restitution to their victims, totaling between $800 million and $1.6 billion.

Jim France bullish on the future: ‘We’re getting some momentum back’

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In a rare interview Friday, NASCAR CEO and chairman Jim France said he’s bullish about the momentum of his racing series, particularly since last year’s ISC merger.

“Very much so,” France said when asked if he’s looking forward to the return of stock cars to Daytona International Speedway next month for Speedweeks. The Daytona 500 will kick off the Cup Series season Feb. 16.

“We’re coming off of a very good year I felt like last year where we’re really getting some momentum back,” France said. “It’s exciting now going into this coming year.”

Much of the focus has been on the discussions around a possible revamping of the 2021 schedule.

“(NASCAR President) Steve Phelps is working diligently on that,” France said with a laugh. “There’ll be announcements coming in the not-too-distant future.”

France said last year’s merger of NASCAR and International Speedway Corp., which had been publicly traded before the deal, provides more flexibility on the schedule.

“It makes a big difference,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to respond quicker to the changing environment out here with the economy and all the things that are going on that impact motorsports. It was a major big step that we needed to make probably for quite a while.”

France spoke with a small group of reporters after a major news conference at Daytona involving the IMSA Series that will create a bridge for the premier sports car classes at Daytona and Le Mans.

“The way I view it is if you ever catch the Ferrari vs. Ford movie where the cars went back and forth with Le Mans, that’s the era that we’re getting ready to enter into here is my optimistic hope,” said France, who is also the chairman of IMSA.

Kaz Grala returning to Richard Childress Racing for select Xfinity races

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Kaz Grala will return to compete for Richard Childress Racing in the Xfinity Series this year in select races, the team announced Friday.

Grala, 21, will be one of three drivers to pilot the No. 21 Chevrolet during the full season, joining Myatt Snider and Anthony Alfredo.

Grala made five starts in the No. 21 in 2019, earning a best result of fifth at Road America.

“I learned a lot as a driver working with RCR last year, so I feel confident that our existing chemistry as a team will lead to even better results in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season,” Grala said in a press release. “RCR’s Xfinity Series program is top-notch, and with the No. 21 car running all year, I am excited to be a part of the team chasing yet another owner’s championship. I’m very grateful to Richard Childress for giving me this opportunity to further my career.”

No sponsors were part of the announcement.

“Kaz showed quite a bit of speed and promise in the No. 21 car last year for RCR,” Richard Childress said in a press release. “I’m confident the results will show in 2020, especially after a year under his belt in our proven Xfinity program.”