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NASCAR America: Martha Earnhardt on Dale Jr. Download, 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN

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On today’s edition of the Dale Jr. Download, Dale Earnhardt Jr. welcomes his grandmother – or as he calls her, “my Mammaw” – Martha Earnhardt.

Martha was married to Ralph Earnhardt from 1947 until his passing in 1973. Sadly, Dale Jr. never knew his grandfather, as the former was born in 1974.

But Junior’s father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, told his son a number of tales about Ralph as a driver, a father and more.

Ralph and Martha had five children, two girls and three boys. Dale Sr. was the first-born son (1949).

Martha, who turned 89 on July 15, told some great stories on the Dale Jr. Download, including:

* Dale Sr. was more interested in becoming a race car driver than being a school student. He failed two elementary school grades and was a 16-year-old eighth-grader. Shortly after entering high school, Dale Sr. went to Ralph and told him he wanted to quit school.

“Dale really got behind in school and he was older than everyone,” Martha Earnhardt recalled. “He would do everything to keep from going to school. We just finally gave up and let him go do whatever.”

But there was a caveat that, in a way, made a significant impact on Dale Sr.’s future: If Dale Sr. wasn’t going to go to school anymore, he had to work in Ralph’s garage. That proved to be keen, as not only did Dale Sr. learn about how to build a race car, he also learned how to be a better racer from his father. Dale Sr. would attempt to run Ralph’s garage after Ralph’s passing, but that was short-lived as Dale Sr. began his own racing career in 1974.

* In addition to fixing regular cars, Ralph also fixed bootleggers cars in his garage. That helped fund his own racing exploits.

* Martha had her own racing career that lasted … well, we’ll let her tell the story:

“Ralph and Bud Allman owned two cars together. They decided to let me and his wife drive at Hickory Speedway one night and we were in the ladies race. Me and her both wrecked and tore the cars up. They had our race before Ralph’s race, so they had to take both cars and fix one for Ralph to race. That was my one and only (race).”

But even to this day, Martha remains miffed somewhat at her late husband because he wouldn’t let her practice for the race.

“We just got up and started and tried to run and it just didn’t work. I just wasn’t meant to be a race car driver,” she said.

But, Martha took her brief racing career with a grain of salt: “I didn’t really wreck that bad. I just ran into the wall in the right-front of the grandstand where everybody could see me.”

* Ralph Earnhardt had some unusual superstitions, Martha recalled. Ralph wouldn’t allow anything green in color in the car and he hated peanuts around the car – so much so that one time, Martha said, Ralph pulled a gun on someone who had a bag of peanuts and was uncomfortably too close to the race car for Ralph. “Things used to be different back then,” Martha Earnhardt quipped.

* The man who would go on to be famously nicknamed “The Intimidator” didn’t intimidate his mother. When asked if he did anything that got her mad, Martha replied, “Oh yes. He was always up to something. I threatened to whip him, but nine times out of ten I didn’t. He wasn’t a bad kid.”

* Martha still lives in the same house in Kannapolis, North Carolina, that she shared with Ralph. She’s been there for 63 years, when she was pregnant with her youngest child, Danny.

Hear even more stories from Martha Earnhardt on today’s edition of NASCAR America/Dale Jr. Download at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN (you can also hear the full podcast at http://www.dalejr.com/radio/tdjd/).

If you can’t catch today show on TV, watch online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Kaz Grala subs for Natalie Decker in Talladega Truck race

Kaz Grala
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Natalie Decker has not been medically cleared to compete in Saturday’s Truck Series race at Talladega (1 p.m. ET on FS1) and will be replaced by Kaz Grala in Niece Motorsports’ No. 44 Chevrolet the team announced Thursday.

Decker withdrew from last weekend’s race at Las Vegas after she was not medically cleared shortly before the race. She was credited with a last-place finish.

Decker tweeted Saturday that she was flying home where “more tests (would be) run so they can further evaluate and diagnose.”

No further details about Decker’s condition have been announced.

“We are thankful that Kaz is able to fill in for Natalie this weekend and appreciate him working with our team,” team general manager Cody Efaw said in a press release. “We wish Natalie the best as she works to be as healthy as possible to return to racing.”

Grala will make his first Truck Series start since 2017. He has 32 career starts in the series, including one win in the 2017 season-opening race at Daytona.

He drove in Austin Dillon’s place earlier this year in the Cup race on the Daytona road course after Dillon tested positive for COVID-19.

“My thoughts will be with Natalie this weekend as I wish her a quick recovery,” Grala said in a press release. “I know she loves the restrictor-plate races, so I feel bad that she’ll have to miss this one, but I hope I can give her something to cheer for on Saturday. 

“It’s been a few years since I’ve been in a Truck, but the superspeedway races have been very good to me in the past, so I’m really hoping to be able to go grab a win for Niece Motorsports at Talladega.”

FanVision closes due to impact of COVID-19 pandemic

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FanVision Entertainment, the company that produces video devices used by race fans at NASCAR events, has ceased operations due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news was announced in a statement from Racing Electronics, the company which sold and supported FanVision devices at NASCAR tracks through a license with FanVision Entertainment.

Racing Electronics, which is owned by NASCAR, can no longer sell or support the devices.

“We recognize this news will be met with disappointment by motorsports fans across the country who utilized FanVision’s products as part of their at-track experience,” Racing Electronics president Chad Willis said in a statement.

“To help fans and industry members transition to Racing Electronics products, we are working with existing FanVision device owners to solve their race day needs. When Racing Electronics returns to the track, fans and industry members will have access to all the sounds that make racing so special.”

RCR, Hendrick to collaborate on Chevy engine

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Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing will team up on research and development of a common Chevrolet engine after the conclusion of the 2020 season, the teams announced Thursday.

The two organizations will continue to function independently as they “fully leverage the knowledge and intellectual property of our two successful programs to advance Chevrolet’s engine for NASCAR,” they said in a joint statement.

Engines produced by Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing (via ECR Engines) have earned a combined 20 Cup titles and the two teams have totaled 369 Cup wins.

Jeff Andrews, the new executive vice president at Hendrick Motorsports, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” Thursday that discussions about the venture between his team and RCR began two years ago.

“The day was going to come when we really needed to figure out how to get these two programs together,” Andrews said. “A tremendous amount of talent, people and a tremendous amount of equipment and resources between the two programs. How could we do this? How could we take the longstanding heritage between these two companies and get that together to start working on an alliance that truly would produce the ultimate powertrain for Chevrolet NASCAR?”

RCR is headquartered in Welcome, North Carolina and Hendrick’s campus is in Concord, North Carolina.

“I think when you step back and look at it, ultimately you have to get to a point to where, when you have these resources and you have these people, we have to do what’s best for Chevrolet, first and foremost, to continue to push their performance and get them back to the front of the field and get them wins and championships,” Andrews said. “Really, we work together in a very similar fashion. We started two years ago on the aerodynamic side with our groups working very close together and we’re kind of taking somewhat of that template and applying to the engine side in starting this joint alliance.”

Chevrolet last won a Cup title in 2016 when Jimmie Johnson earned his record-tying seventh championship. Since then, Chevy has not had a car reach the championship four.

The Cup Series is in the middle of the Round of 12. The series races Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Of the 12 cars that remain, four are Chevrolets: Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon, Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch.

Chevrolet cars have won six times through 30 races this season. That’s compared to seven wins in all of 2019, four in 2018 and and 10 in 2017.

NASCAR weekend schedule for Talladega

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The NASCAR playoffs roll on this weekend to Talladega Superspeedway.

All three national series will be racing on NASCAR’s largest oval. The weekend will be capped off by the Cup Series’ Round of 12 race.

More: Denny Hamlin on pole for Cup race at Talladega

MORE: 2021 Cup schedule features new tracks, bold changes 

Here is the weekend schedule for Talladega:

(All times Eastern)

Friday, Oct. 2

Noon – 2 p.m. – Driver motorhome parking (screening in progress)

1 – 3 p.m. – Truck Series haulers enter (screening and equipment unload)

3 – 9 p.m. – Truck Series garage open

3 – 8 p.m. – Truck Series garage access screening

3:30 – 4 p.m. – Truck Series rookie meeting (teleconference)

5:30 p.m. – Xfinity rookie meeting (teleconference)

6 p.m. – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting

8:30 – 10:30 p.m. – Xfinity haulers enter (screening in progress)

 

Saturday, Oct. 3

7:30 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Xfinity garage access (screening in progress)

10 a.m. – Truck Series garage opens

10 a.m. – Noon – Truck Series garage access (screening in progress)

12:45 p.m. – Truck Series drivers report to vehicles

1 p.m. – Truck Series race; 94 laps/250.04 miles (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

4 p.m. – Truck Series haulers exit

4:05 p.m. – Xfinity drivers report to cars

4:30 p.m. – Xfinity race; 113 laps/300.58 miles (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

5:30 p.m. – Cup rookie meeting (electronic communication)

6 p.m. – Cup driver-crew chief meeting (electronic communication)

7:30 p.m. – Xfinity haulers exit

8:30 – 10:30 p.m. – Cup haulers enter (screening in progress and equipment unload)

 

Sunday, Oct. 4

7 a.m. – Cup garage opens

7 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Cup garage access screening in progress

1:30 p.m. – Cup drivers report to cars

1:30 p.m. – Driver introductions

2 p.m. – Cup race; 188 laps/500 miles (NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

6:30 p.m. – Cup haulers exit