Photo: Panini America

What do Gray Gaulding and NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes have in common?

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In addition to his racing career, Xfinity Series driver Gray Gaulding is a big NFL fan and fantasy football player.

He knows he needs help to make the Xfinity playoffs, so for Friday’s Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. on NBCSN), Gaulding is going to his bench so to speak and has joined forces with 2018 NFL MVP QB Patrick Mahomes.

Several images of Mahomes will grace Gaulding’s No. 08 Chevrolet as part of a promotion with Panini America’s release of the new 2019 Donruss Football trading card set. After the race, Panini will auction off the hood on Gaulding’s car to raise money for Mahomes’ “15 and the Mahomies Foundation.”

MORE: NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football schedule 

“To be associated with such a high-profile player, obviously the NFL’s MVP and just the person Patrick Mahomes is, what I love about him is obviously his game and what he’s like off the field,” Gaulding told NBC Sports. “I feel that’s where I see a lot of similarities between the two of us, where we’re just ourselves, do our jobs and try to do it at the highest level possible.”

Not surprisingly, Mahomes – who threw for 50 touchdowns and over 5,000 yards in his MVP year for the Kansas City Chiefs last season – is on Gaulding’s fantasy football team this season. Gaulding has also invited Mahomes to race go-karts at the track behind his house in the near future and is waiting to firm up a date.

“You look at a guy like Patrick Mahomes, a lot of people overlooked him, he rode the bench the first part of his career and waited to get his shot,” Gaulding said. “When he got it, he went from being a bench player to MVP and one of the highest-profile players in the league in the last 20 years.

“I feel like I relate to him just because that’s kind of how my career started, people looked over me and I had to prove myself to keep my rides and make it to the Cup Series. Yeah, I’m a big fan. He’s incredible.”

Mahomes, who tweeted a shoutout to Gaulding on Twitter Tuesday night, won’t be at Friday’s race as he’ll be preparing for the following night’s preseason game vs. the Steelers in Pittsburgh. But Gaulding hopes to draw inspiration from Mahomes’ presence on his race car, especially since Gaulding – 13th in the Xfinity Series standings – still holds hope he’ll make the playoffs.

“Bristol is one of my favorite tracks on the circuit, I’ve loved it ever since I first showed up there in the K&N Series in 2013,” Gaulding said. “What better place to go to. We’ve had road courses and now we have Bristol. Those are the best wildcard races you can have other than Daytona and Talladega because things can happen. By having the MVP on the car, we’re looking to have an MVP night.

“If you’re going forward in the season, this is one of my best shots to possibly maybe steal a win or gain a lot of playoff points going into the playoffs. Our goal is top 10, but if we can work some strategy and get up front late in the race and steal a victory, that’s what we’re going to do.

“We’re definitely in Hail Mary mode. I don’t think we can point our way in right now, but we’ve gained a lot of points in the last few weeks. We’re just going to take every week one at a time, and if it gets us in great. But if not, we can’t say we didn’t put it all out there to try and get it done.”

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Sioux Chief to sponsor ARCA Showdown, East Series to race at Nashville Fairgrounds

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ARCA
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ARCA announced Saturday that Sioux Chief Manufacturing will be the entitlement sponsor of its 10-race ARCA Menards Series Showdown in 2020.

Sioux Chief Manufacturing is a Missouri company that designs and manufactures rough plumbing products, parts, and accessories for residential, commercial, industrial and government applications

Sioux Chief has been involved in ARCA since 2015 as a race event sponsor and special awards program sponsor and sponsored ARCA’s former Short Track Challenge.

As part of the deal, a newly increased point fund, combined with race purses, owner plan, and contingency awards, will offer teams a chance to compete for a share of over $920,000 in posted awards throughout the series.

The Sioux Chief Showdown will bring together the best drivers from the ARCA Menards Series, the ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West, formerly known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Those events, held on oval tracks 1.25-miles in length and under and road courses, offer drivers who may not be able or eligible to run the full 20-race ARCA Menards Series schedule the opportunity to run for a championship. Combined with the overall ARCA Menards Series championship, and the East and West championships, drivers will have four separate championships to compete for in 2020.

The announcement was made at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Indianapolis. Also present was promoter Bob Sargent of Track Enterprises, who announced that the ARCA Menards Series East would compete at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on May 2.

The Tennessean reported this week that the Nashville Fairgrounds was negotiating with Sargent to promote at least three races at the short track in 2020. Sargent’s involvement in the track comes after Nashville’s Fair Board voted to terminate its agreement with Formosa Productions to run the track over outstanding debt.

The ARCA Menards Series has competed at the Fairgrounds the last five seasons. The ARCA Menards Series East, formerly known as the K&N Pro Series East, competed there from 2007-08.

GMS Racing reveals full-time driver-crew chief lineup, number assignments

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GMS Racing has announced its full-time driver-crew chief lineup for the 2020 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season and number assignments for its trucks:

– Chad Norris has been named crew chief for Brett Moffitt and the No. 23 Chevrolet team. Moffitt drove the No. 24 in his first season with the team. Norris has been with GMS Racing for two years and directed the effort that delivered the team its 2018 Xfinity Series win at Talladega.

– Chad Walter will lead Tyler Ankrum and the No. 26 team. 2020 will be Ankrum’s first season with GMS Racing. Walter served as an engineer for Ankrum this season at DGR-Crosley. Walter has five wins and 42 top fives in 208 Xfinity Series starts as crew chief.

– Kevin “Bono” Manion is paired with Zane Smith on the No. 21 Chevrolet. 2020 will be Smith’s first full-time Trucks season after competing part-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. Manion has 24 wins as crew chief across all three national series since 2003. He led Martin Truex Jr. to his two Xfinity Series titles.

– Jeff Stankiewicz will remain as the crew chief for the No. 2 team piloted by Sheldon Creed.

Social Roundup: How NASCAR drivers are spending their offseason

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NASCAR’s Champion’s week is now behind us and we are firmly in the offseason.

Well, sort of.

The NASCAR world never really stops, which is evident simply due to the continued announcements for the 2020 season.

But with Joey Logano testing the Next Gen car at Phoenix earlier this week and Dale Earnhardt Jr. helping clean up North Wilkesboro Speedway for iRacing, it’s been anything but quiet.

Here’s a look at what else happened in the NASCAR community this week.

Someone needs to check in on Jimmie Johnson, he could be in his own version of Mr. Mom.

Chris Buescher is home again.

The 2015 Xfinity Series champion is back at Roush Fenway Racing for the 2020 Cup season and he’s got the firesuits and cars to prove it.

Brad Keselowski recently became father to a second daughter.

He’s now learning some important life lessons.

Former Front Row Motorsports driver Matt Tifft is now off the market after getting married to his fiance, Jordan. Now they’re on their honeymoon.

 

Matt DiBenedetto showed off one of the perks of being a Wood Brothers Racing employee.

Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace went somewhere warm to start their holiday.

Joey and Caitlin Gase welcome twin sons

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Xfinity Series driver Joey Gase and his wife Caitlin are now parents to twin boys

The babies were born on Wednesday. Their names are Jace and Carson.

More: Brad and Paige Keselowski welcome second daughter