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Gray Gaulding details his health scare that forced a plane’s emergency landing

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Gray Gaulding’s throat started to swell. Then came the chest pains. And his body began to go numb.

The Xfinity Series driver for SS Green Light Racing was on a Stewart-Haas Racing plane Friday morning to Kansas City when he began to have health issues, leading to the plane making an emergency landing in St. Louis and medics rushing on the plane to help Gaulding.

He said everything was fine when he boarded the flight Friday morning. It left Concord-Padgett Regional Airport in North Carolina at 7:45 a.m. ET.

All was fine for the first 45 minutes of the flight. About 10 minutes after he had eaten a piece of homemade beef jerky, Gaulding said “I could feel my throat slowly start to swell up.”

Chest pains followed. His throat continued to swell. His body then began to go numb.

“I thought I was having a mild heart attack or something,” Gaulding told NBC Sports shortly after being cleared to drive in today’s Xfinity Series race at Kansas Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC).

“I went to the flight attendant and I said, ‘Hey, I need oxygen right now. She comes back and gives me oxygen and puts the mask on me and I feel like I’m going to pass out, the eyes are starting to roll back in my head. My arms, all my limbs were shaking so bad that I couldn’t control them.”

As Gaulding took oxygen, “a lot of the Stewart-Haas guys and the flight attendant were so amazing. It felt like they almost saved my life just by talking to me and keeping me awake. They’re like ‘Please stare me in the eye. Look me in the eye.’ ‘’

Gaulding’s condition worsened.

“I told the (flight attendant), you need to tell the pilots they need to land the plane now,” he said. “I can’t make it. I can’t make it. Literally, in two minutes I can feel the plane start to go down.”

The plane made an emergency landing at St. Louis Lambert International Airport at 9:19 a.m. ET. Emergency crews rushed on the plane.

“As soon as the plane landed, they opened the door, the firefighters came in and helped me get off the plane,” Gaulding told NBC Sports. “My limbs were shaking so bad I couldn’t even walk under my own power. They got me off and the medics just started going to work on me.”

He was treated in an ambulance and soon began to feel better and the swelling in his throat went away. He had told the plane not to wait for him and it left an hour later.

Gaulding remained with Jake Vrabel, a member of SS Green Light Racing who was also on the plane. Vrabel drove Gaulding across the state to Kansas Speedway. They arrived during the first Xfinity Series practice.

“He stayed with me the whole time,” Gaulding said of Vrabel. “I had no family, no parents (with me). He drove me while I slept the whole time, helped me eat and everything. He was my saving grace all day (Friday).”

Gaulding went to the infield care center and was further treated and given medicine. He was not cleared to drive the car Friday. His first lap in the car was in Saturday’s qualifying after he was cleared. 

That beef jerky could have caused his health issues stunned Gaulding.

“I asked the doctor about it, I’ve eaten beef jerky my whole life, I love beef jerky, I’m not blaming everything on the beef jerky … but the thing is, the doc looked at me and said you could get stung by a bee 40 times and the 41st time your body changes all the time and you could be allergic (to a bee sting) and you could almost die,” Gaulding said. “That could almost be my case. I’ll never pick up beef jerky (again). I’m done with beef jerky.”

Daytona road course trophy: Handle with care

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A word of warning for the Cup Series driver who wins Sunday’s inaugural race on the Daytona road course (3 p.m. ET on NBC).

When you’re celebrating the victory, don’t get too excited with the trophy.

It could wind up all over Victory Lane.

That’s because the trophy waiting at the end of the 65-lap/234.65-mile-race is made out of glass.

More: Will chaos (and rain) reign on the Daytona road course?

Via: NASCAR

The 18” tall/4.5” wide trophy for the Daytona road course race was produced by the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. It’s the same institution that’s been responsible for designing the Watkins Glen International trophy since 2012.

Sunday’s race is being held in the place of the Cup Series’ annual visit to Watkins Glen.

Incorporating a blown glass cup, the trophy is inspired by the history of NASCAR and racing at Daytona.

“Thinking about the history of the track and long-held traditions, I was reminded that historically, trophies used to be cups and have evolved into sculptural forms,” said Eric Meek, Sr. Manager of Hot Glass Programs at The Corning Museum of Glass, said in a media release. “We took this trophy back to a more traditional shape. Daytona is the most historical track, and in thinking about a trophy design for a race held in this storied location, I was transported back to the golden age of speed. I wanted to design something that felt like a bit of a throwback – like it belonged in the era of streamline racers and the quest to go faster.”

NASCAR Pinty’s Series 2020 TV schedule released

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The NASCAR Pinty’s Series, which competes in Canada, will get its season under way this weekend after it was postponed back in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The shortened season will consist of three doubleheaders with twin 125-mile races.

The races will be held at Sunset Speedway (Aug. 15), Flamboro Speedway (Aug. 29) and Jukasa Speedway (Sept. 12).

More: Xfinity Series start time for Daytona road course

No NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion or Rookie of the Year will be crowned in 2020 due to the shortened schedule. There will be special recognition for the overall winner of the shortened season.

All races will air delayed on TSN and RDS in Canada and MAVTV in the United States. Fans in the United States can stream races after they air on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

Here is the full schedule with TV information.

 

Saturday’s Xfinity race at Daytona road course: Start time, forecast and more

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Saturday’s Xfinity race at Daytona will mark the first time the series has competed in the track’s road course circuit.

Austin Cindric, who has won four of the last five races, is on the pole. He is joined on the front row by fellow Ford driver Chase Briscoe.

Here are the details for the Xfinity race at the Daytona road course (all times ET):

START: The command to start engines will be given at 3:07 p.m by Dr. Jeff Jarvis, president of UNOH. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:19 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage access health screening begins at 8:30 a.m. Drivers report to their cars at 2:50 p.m. The invocation will be given at 3 p.m. by Chaplain Farzad Nourian. The national anthem will be performed at 3:01 p.m. by Temecula Road.

DISTANCE: The race is 52 laps (187.72 miles) around the 3.61-mile road course

PACE LAP: At the direction of race control, the entire field will go down pit road during a pace lap for pit road speed verification. If a driver stops in the pit box for any reason, pulls over or slows down, they will start at the rear of the field.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 15. Stage 2 ends on Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Its coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green followed by the race broadcast at 3 p.m. ET. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast will begin at 2:30 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

STREAMING: Watch the race on the NBC Sports App by clicking here.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for cloudy skies, a high of 88 degrees and a 70% chance of rain and thunderstorms at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Austin Cindric beat AJ Allmendinger and Chase Briscoe to win at Road America.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for Xfinity starting lineup

Justin Marks planning to start new Cup team

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Former NASCAR driver Justin Marks is in the process of starting a new Cup Series team and competing as early as 2021, Marks detailed to the Sports Business Journal.

Marks, who has 80 NASCAR starts and last competed in 2018, is building a team called Trackhouse that would have a “cause-marketing focus around promoting STEM education” according to SBJ.

More: Bubba Wallace lands multi-year deal with DoorDash

Marks, who once was a co-owner of an ARCA Menards West team with the late Harry Scott, said a goal of the team is to “serve America’s minorities and underrepresented youth population”

Marks told SBJ he is in negotiations to acquire a charter for the team, that his family foundation will use investment capital to fund 50% of the team’s budget and that a “nationwide family entertainment business” will be a sponsor.

One of Marks’ partners will be Ty Norris, a former executive at Michael Waltrip Racing.

Click here for more from Sports Business Journal.