Bubba Wallace on catch with fans: ‘We had to give the fans a show’

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BROOKLYN, Mich. — It’s often a punt that changes things. Usually, it’s for the worse.

Sunday, a wayward punt led to a half-mile game of catch with a football between Bubba Wallace, Corey LaJoie, Daniel Hemric and fans during Sunday’s rain delay at Michigan International Speedway.

“That was a good time,” Wallace told NBC Sports. “We had to give the fans a show. They pay a lot of money to be here and we couldn’t race today … but we had fun.”

The football was Wallace’s. He had his motorcoach driver retrieve it during the second rain delay Sunday. Engines were fired about 50 minutes after the planned start time of 2 p.m. ET and cars were on track but never got the green before rain sent them back to pit road. The race was postponed to 5 p.m. ET Monday.

Once out of the car, Wallace sent for his football, only fitting on a day that Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia was the grand marshal. Wallace threw the football on pit road with Ryan Blaney. Later, LaJoie joined. Then came that LaJoie punt.

“Corey had a bad punt and it went (over pit wall) on to the (frontstretch) grass,” Wallace said.

That sent Wallace closer to the fans on the frontstretch.

He said he had pondered throwing the football with those fans but thought “I don’t know if my arm can get it over that fence.”

He did and the fans roared. Wallace continued throwing the football over the catchfence to fans in stands. They threw the ball back to him. LaJoie also joined Wallace.

They slowly worked their way down the straigthaway, staying out of the way of Air Titans and other track-drying vehicles as they played with fans. 

“I learned a lot of things,” Wallace said. “Michigan is a big track. I’m out of shape. My arm is going to be sore.”

LaJoie enjoyed the game with fans: “It kept the fans engaged. That was fun. I got to get a little sweat in, get a little workout. Have some fun with my buddies.”

Hemric later joined them, delivering them Coca-Colas and then throwing the football with fans.

“We get to sign and speak to a lot of these fans but never get just to … have fun like that,” Hemric said. 

They continued throwing the football with fans until the race was postponed, going from near the pit exit to well before the pit entrance.

While they would have rather been racing — and the fans would have rather been watching it — the drivers still managed to have some fun on a rainy day.

Saturday schedule for Xfinity, Truck Series

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The Xfinity Series competes at Road America today while the Gander Outdoors Truck Series begins its weekend in Canada.

wunderground.com forecasts sunny skies and a high of 70 degrees at the start of the Xfinity race.

The forecast for Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is for sunny skies, a high of 71 degrees and a 10% chance of rain.

Here’s the day’s full schedule with TV and radio info.

Saturday, Aug. 24

Road America

8 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

11:40 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying; multi-car/two rounds (NBC Sports App live, NBCSN to air it at 1:30 p.m.)

1:35 p.m. – Driver-crew chief meeting

2:30 p.m. – Driver introductions

3 p.m. – CTECH Manufacturing 180; 45 laps/182.16 miles (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Truck garage open

9:35 – 10:25 a.m. ET – Truck practice (No TV)

11:35 – 12:55 p.m. – Final Truck practice (No TV)

Report: Justin Allgaier returning to JR Motorsports in 2020

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Justin Allgaier confirmed to Catchfence.com Friday that he will remain with JR Motorsports in 2020.

It will be Allgaier’s fifth season in the Xfinity Series with JRM.

“I will be back next year. Same deal,” Allgaier told Catchfence.com “Everything is good. We’re doing the same thing next that we are doing right now.”

Allgaier, 33, is fourth is the point standings entering this weekend’s race at Road America (3 p.m. Saturday on NBCSN).

Allgaier is the only driver in the top six in points without a win this year.

 

Xfinity Series practice report from Road America

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Christopher Bell was fastest in the final Xfinity Series practice Friday at Road America.

Bell posted a top speed of 108.562 mph around the road course.

The top five was completed by Matt DiBenedetto (108.106 mph), AJ Allmendinger (108.091), Justin Haley (107.927) and Cole Custer (107.895).

Chase Briscoe recorded the most laps in the session with 19.

The session was stopped with about 50 minutes left for a hard crash by Brandon Jones exiting Turn 11. Jones will go to a backup car for Saturday’s race.

Just before Jones’ wreck, the left-rear truck arm mount broke on Jeremy Clements‘ No. 51 Chevrolet and his car stalled on the track.

The red flag was brought out for the second time when Preston Pardus’ No. 43 Chevrolet stalled on the track. His car then stalled a second time in the final minute of the session.

The session had a third red flag when Josh Williams‘ car stalled on the track.

Click here for the practice report.

First Practice

Bell was fastest, posting a top speed of 108.559 mph around the road course.

The top five was completed by defending race winner Justin Allgaier (108.530 mph), Cindric (108.346), DiBenedetto (108.139) and Allmendinger (107.967).

Chase Briscoe recorded the most laps with 14.

The session was stopped once for debris with 35 minutes left in the session.

Minor incidents in the session included Noah Gragson briefly going off course and a spin by Dexter Bean.

Click here for the practice report.

Updated entry lists for Xfinity, Truck Series this weekend

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While the NASCAR Cup Series will be off this weekend, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any racing.

On the contrary, the Xfinity Series will be racing Saturday at Road America and the Truck Series will compete Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Here are the entry lists for both series:

Xfinity – CTECH Manufacturing 180 (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

There are 38 cars entered.

Regan Smith will be in the No. 8 J.R. Motorsports Chevrolet.

A.J. Allmendinger will drive the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet.

Saturday’s Cup runner-up, Matt DiBenedetto, will drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Ryan Vargas is entered in JD Motorsports’ No. 4 Chevrolet for his second start of the year.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Chevrolet Silverado 250 (2:30 p.m. ET Sunday on FS1)

There are only 29 Trucks listed for the entry list. A full field would be 32 trucks.

Alex Tagliani is entered in Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 51 Toyota for his first start of the year.

Dylan Lupton is entered in Young’s Motorsports’ No. 20 Chevrolet.

Click here for the entry list.

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