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Tony Stewart ready to ‘Rumble’ this weekend

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It’ll be a short Christmas break for soon-to-be NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart, who will be getting back to his racing roots in his home state of Indiana this Friday and Saturday in the 22nd annual Rumble in Fort Wayne.

Over 100 drivers will compete in more than 100 qualifying races, heats, last chance races and features on the indoor paved track inside the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum and Expo Center including Midgets, Non-Wing Dirt 600 Mini Sprints, Outlaw Modified Winged Midgets, Go-Karts and Quarter Midgets.

Photo courtesy: VisitFortWayne.com

Stewart, who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on January 31 along with Joe Gibbs, Buddy Baker, Bobby Labonte and Waddell Wilson, will be going for his 10th Rumble title and will be joined by a few of his racing buddies including USAC and World of Outlaws winner Rico Abreu.

Abreu will be looking to avenge bad luck in last year’s Rumble. He was unable to qualify when his car broke during a practice session and he wasn’t able to continue on.

“It’s fun seeing some of the young drivers that develop into nationwide stars,” Rumble Racing Series spokesman Bob Koorsen told the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. “Erik Jones ran here when he was 6 years old. Ten years ago, Austin Prock was winning quarter midget races and now he drives a Top Fuel dragster for John Force.

“(Abreu has) been … looking forward to coming back. The fans are going to get a treat.”

Koorsen will be one of the busiest individuals in the Coliseum, serving as lead announcer for all 100-plus races this weekend. He’s been a fixture throughout the Rumble’s two-plus decade history.

“I look forward to it all year long,” Koorsen told the Journal Gazette. “There’s just so many people you only see once a year. You have people coming in from California to the Carolinas, and they all converge on Fort Wayne for the smallest track they’ll run on all year.”

There will be one of the widest age swaths of any event in motorsports anywhere, with mini-go-kart drivers as young as five years old, on up to 600cc mini-sprint car driver Clarence Hoch, who will soon turn 72.

Both days of racing begin at 11 a.m. ET, with qualifying, heats, last chance races and features.

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Coca-Cola 600 resumes after rain delay

Coca-Cola 600
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The Coca-Cola 600 is back under way following a rain delay.

The caution was issued on Lap 49 for rain and the field was brought to pit road. The red flag was issued at 7:07 p.m. ET and lifted at 8:16 p.m. ET.

The top five at the time of the stoppage was Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick and Joey Logano.

Check back for updates.

 

Denny Hamlin team faces potential penalty after ballast falls off car

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Denny Hamlin was involved in an incident even before Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 got underway that could result in a hefty penalty.

A chunk of tungsten ballast — which teams use to bring Cup cars up to minimum weight standards — fell off Hamlin’s car on a parade lap.

The incident puts Hamlin’s crew chief Chris Gabehart and several others on the team in violation of the NASCAR rule book, which means a hefty penalty could be in the offing.

According to the NASCAR rule book, the penalty is 12.5.2.7.4.d: Minimum safety penalty options — “Loss or separation of added ballast from the vehicle will result in a four Race suspension of the crew chief, car chief, and head engineer. If NASCAR cannot identify which series or vehicle the lost ballast originated from, all vehicles entered for that Event from and associated with the team organization identified on the lost ballast may receive the suspensions.”

If NASCAR implements the potential penalty, Gabehart and others could miss the following four races: May 27 at Charlotte, May 31 at Bristol, June 7 at Atlanta and June 10 at Martinsville.

Several of those tracks are good for Hamlin, including winning the Bristol summer night race last year, as well as was fourth at the Martinsville playoff race last fall and 11th at Atlanta.

NASCAR ordered Hamlin back to pit road where the No. 11 crew added a new chunk of ballast to Hamlin’s car. He returned to the race eight laps down.

Here’s what a fabricator from rival team Stewart-Haas Racing tweeted about the incident:

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Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

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Chevrolet drivers swept the top three rows for tonight’s Coca-Cola 600, led by Kurt Busch‘s pole-winning lap of 181.269 mph.

Jimmie Johnson was next with a lap of 181.214 mph. He was followed by Chase Elliott (181.002 mph), Matt Kenseth (180.923), rookie Tyler Reddick (180.905) and Austin Dillon (180.741).

Ford driver Joey Logano, who starts seventh after a lap of 180.451 mph, was the top qualifier not driving a Chevrolet.

TO THE REAR: Matt DiBenedetto (backup car), Brad Keselowski (unapproved adjustment), Aric Almirola (unapproved adjustment), JJ Yeley (unapproved adjustment) and Timmy Hill (unapproved adjustment)

Click here for Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Kurt Busch on pole for Coca-Cola 600

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Kurt Busch will lead the field to the green flag for tonight’s Coca-Cola 600 after claiming the pole Sunday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

It is Busch’s 28th career pole and first at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Busch is joined on the front row by Jimmie Johnson. Chase Elliott qualified third and is followed by Matt Kenseth and rookie Tyler Reddick. Austin Dillon was sixth, as Chevrolet drivers took the top six spots.

Click here for qualifying results

Aric Almirola spun coming to take the green flag to begin his qualifying lap. He grazed the wall with his rear bumper.

Matt DiBenedetto slapped the wall off Turn 4 during his qualifying lap and will go to a backup car and start at the rear of the field.