Comcast Community Champion of the Year finalists revealed

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Comcast today announced the finalists for the 2021 Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award, an annual award created to recognize the philanthropic efforts of individuals within NASCAR. Whether by creating the first COVID-19 drive-thru mass vaccination clinic in North Carolina, providing additional access to education, or supporting shelter animals in need, the 2021 class of honorees has gone above and beyond in creating positive change throughout the year.

The 2021 finalists are:

  • Curtis Francois, Owner of World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, IL
  • Greg Walter, Executive Vice President/GM at Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • Jamie Little, Pit reporter for NASCAR coverage on FOX

“Curtis, Greg and Jamie are demonstrating how important it is to make a positive impact on their community and we’re proud to honor them with this award that recognizes individuals within the sport who are going above and beyond.” said Matt Lederer, Vice President, Brand Partnerships and Amplification at Comcast. “Community impact is one of Comcast’s core values, and each of these finalists embodies what it means to be a champion in their community.”

Comcast’s Xfinity brand entered NASCAR as entitlement partner of the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2015 and is now also Premier Partner of the NASCAR Cup Series. Since then, the company has donated $840,000 to more than 20 different NASCAR-affiliated organizations to honor their efforts and to help further the impact of their worthy causes. Fans can visit ComcastCommunityChampion.com to learn more about past and present finalists and their acts of selflessness.

“There are so many inspirational stories of individuals and teams within NASCAR giving back and now more than ever it is important to bring that to life,” Lederer added.

The 2021 Comcast Community Champion of the Year will be selected by a panel of Comcast and NASCAR executives, as well as NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace, who received the award in 2020 for his work with the Live To Be Different Foundation, which supports disadvantaged individuals and those in need of a second chance with educational, social or other types of assistance needed to help make their dreams reality. Through a message of compassion, love and understanding, Live To Be Different’s mission is empowering the next generation to strive and achieve anything they put their mind to.

“The NASCAR community is blessed to have a strong partner in Comcast that has continued to show its commitment to supporting NASCAR communities across the nation,” said Bubba Wallace, 2020 Comcast Community Champion of the Year. “Their donation to the Live to Be Different Foundation helped us continue to make a positive and lasting impact as we work to remove barriers and fulfill dreams for future generations. We are honored to be a past Comcast Community Champion of the Year and look forward to seeing the impact this year’s honorees make on their communities.”

Comcast will award $60,000 to the champion’s affiliated charity, and $30,000 to each of the two remaining finalists’ selected charities. The 2021 Comcast Community Champion will be announced at the end of November.

2021 Comcast Community Champion of the Year finalists:

Curtis Francois (Madison, Illinois) –  A lifelong St. Louisan and former professional racecar driver, Curtis Francois is committed to his community and is dedicated to making the metropolitan St. Louis region a premier racing destination. Francois purchased World Wide Technology Raceway in 2011. After years of hard work and a multi-million-dollar investment in the track and its surrounding areas, today, World Wide Technology Raceway hosts hundreds of events throughout the year and is the only venue in the U.S. to host the elite series from each of the three major race sanctioning bodies.

WWTR’s charitable foundation, Raceway Gives, leverages the resources and technology opportunities associated with motorsports to provide programs that enhance education and career opportunities for youth, with a focus on STEM education and diversity. Raceway Gives focuses on gifted, diverse and underserved youth, as well as military families, using three pillars: motorsports career opportunities, community engagement with high schools and youth clubs, and educational experiences. Raceway Gives is actively engaged with Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee and the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Community Center in East St. Louis, Illinois, via a “Racing in the Classroom” program that has and continues to introduce motorsports education to an underserved community for local youth ages 8-18.

Greg Walter (Charlotte, North Carolina) – Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter has navigated uncharted waters with a servant’s heart, steering the speedway’s efforts to support the community in its most challenging time of need. Under Greg’s dedicated leadership, Charlotte Motor Speedway became the country’s first professional sports venue to serve as a remote testing site and hosted North Carolina’s first drive-thru mass vaccination clinic. The speedway also hosted food drives, blood drives and high school graduations.

Greg serves on the board of the Charlotte chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides funding for hundreds of non-profit organizations throughout the nation that meet the direct needs of children. In a year of reduced donations and fundraising events nationwide, Greg and the SCC staff found creative ways to generate charity funds, such as hosting sold-out, summertime drive-in movies. Greg’s efforts played a role in distributing more than $300,000 SCC funds at Christmas to deserving area nonprofits serving children in need.

Jamie Little (Indianapolis, Indiana) – Veteran motorsports reporter Jamie Little joined FOX NASCAR in 2015 to cover pit road for the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series & Camping World Truck Series. She has covered NASCAR since 2007. Little is extremely active in animal rescue work, donating to over 25 animal shelters throughout the country, most of them in communities that host NASCAR races. Prior to moving to Indianapolis in late 2017, Little spent much of her free time volunteering at The Animal Foundation, Nevada’s largest animal rescue shelter, that is where her passion for animal rescue and adoption truly began.

In 2020, Little started working with the Animal Help Alliance, a foster based rescue that specializes in rescuing the underdog, the broken and the hard to adopt animals in our community, a year ago when she came across a post on Instagram with photos of a pitbull who had suffered blunt force trauma to the head, requiring surgery to save her life. As a parent to two pitbull rescues, Little felt compelled to connect with AHA to further help animals impacted by neglect and abuse, while raising awareness about the benefits of rescuing & adopting animals in need.

Comcast has a long track record of community service, aiding in the advancement of local organizations, developing programs & partnerships, mobilizing resources to connect people and inspiring positive and substantive change. To learn more about these efforts, visit the Comcast Community Impact site.

 

NBC will broadcast final six NASCAR Cup Series playoff races

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The final six races in the chase for the NASCAR Cup Series championship will be televised by NBC.

The races remaining on the schedule are at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2), the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 16), Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 23), Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 30) and Phoenix Raceway (Nov. 6).

NBC’s broadcasting team will be on hand Sunday for what is typically a seasonal highlight — a 500-mile race at Talladega Superspeedway. The next week the playoffs move on to Charlotte for a cutoff race. The lowest four drivers in the playoff point standings will be eliminated from championship competition.

The Round of 8 is scheduled at Las Vegas, Homestead and Martinsville, with the tiny Martinsville track serving as the final cutoff race. The four drivers who advance from Martinsville will race for the title at Phoenix Nov. 6.

The high drama of the Phoenix race, in which the championship will go to the highest finisher of the four competing drivers, will be carried by both NBC and Peacock.

Post-race commentary and analysis for all six remaining Cup races will be carried on Peacock.

Kyle Larson is the series defending champion. Joey Logano carries the point lead into Sunday’s race at Talladega.

NASCAR viewer’s guide for Talladega Superspeedway

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After a messy Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs move on this weekend to another potentially messy spot — Talladega Superspeedway.

Home to the Big One — an almost certain multi-car crash, Talladega also occasionally produces unexpected winners, including Richard Brickhouse, James Hylton, Lennie Pond, Ron Bouchard and Brad Keselowski.

The mix of tight drafting, the Next Gen car and general playoff tension should make Sunday’s 500-mile run quite the adventure.

On Sunday at Texas, Tyler Reddick became the second driver (after Chase Elliott) to score three wins this season.

Joey Logano enters Talladega with the playoff point lead.

Playoff rookies roll on

The four drivers participating in the Cup playoffs for the first time remain factors approaching the second race in the second round.

Ross Chastain is second in the standings, 18 points above the cutline entering Talladega.

MORE: NBC NASCAR rankings put Denny Hamlin first

Daniel Suarez, Chastain’s Trackhouse Racing teammate, is seventh. He’s four points above the cutline.

Two other playoff rookies — Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric — will start Talladega below the cutline. Briscoe is four points below the cutline. Cindric is 11 points below the cutline.

Looking for wins

Only six of the remaining 12 playoff drivers have won races at the two remaining tracks in the second round (Talladega and Charlotte Roval).

Among the six, Joey Logano has the best win record at Talladega, having finished first there in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

Other Talladega winners in the group: Ryan Blaney (two), Denny Hamlin (two), Chase Elliott (one), Ross Chastain (one).

The Charlotte Roval is relatively new, of course, but Chase Elliott already owns two wins there. Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson also have won at the Roval.

An opening for Brad?

Few people who watched it will forget the first Cup Series victory scored by Brad Keselowski.

It occurred at this week’s tour stop — Talladega Superspeedway — in April 2009. Keselowski and Carl Edwards made contact approaching the finish line and notched the win, even as Edwards’ car flew into the frontstretch fence, spraying car parts into the grandstands.

Thirteen years later, Keselowski returns to NASCAR’s biggest track having recorded six Talladega wins. No other active drive has more than three.

Keselowski’s refurbished team — Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing — has new fire with Chris Buescher winning at Bristol and Keselowski winning the pole and finishing eighth at Texas.

RFK Racing has led 309 laps in the past two races, more than the team had led in the prior 105 races combined.

Although he hasn’t won a Cup race since scoring a victory in a Team Penske Ford in April 2021 at Talladega, Keselowski must be considered a threat Sunday.

Entry lists

Thirty-seven drivers, including Xfinity Series star Noah Gragson and reigning Xfinity champion Daniel Hemric, are entered for Sunday’s Cup race.

Talladega Cup entry list

The Xfinity entry list includes 41 drivers for 38 spots. Among those joining the series regulars are Trevor Bayne, Parker Kligerman, Timmy Hill and Jeffrey Earnhardt.

Talladega Xfinity entry list

Forty-one drivers are entered for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race. Included are Kaz Grala, Ryan Preece, Natalie Decker, Jennifer Jo Cobb and Parker Kligerman.

Talladega Truck entry list

This week’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Friday, Sept. 30

Forecast: Partly cloudy. High of 77. (Weather note: There is the possibility that Hurricane Ian could impact the race weekend, depending on its path).

  • 3:30 – 5 p.m. — Truck Series qualifying
  • 5:30 – 7 p.m. — Xfinity Series qualifying (USA Network)

Saturday, Oct. 1

Forecast: Overcast with showers at times. Potential for heavy rainfall. High of 73. 60% chance of rain.

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 2

Forecast: Sun in the morning, increasing clouds in the afternoon. Slight chance of a shower. High of 74.

  • 2 p.m. — Cup Series race (188 laps, 500 miles; NBC, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

 

 

 

NASCAR fines Ty Gibbs $75,000 for pit road incident at Texas

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NASCAR fined Ty Gibbs $75,000 and docked him 25 points for door-slamming Ty Dillon on pit road during last weekend’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Crew members from other teams were nearby when Gibbs hit Dillon’s car, causing it to swerve. No crew members or officials were hit.

NASCAR has made it a priority that drivers are not to cause contact that could injured crew members or officials on pit road. NASCAR also penalized Gibbs 25 Cup driver points and docked 23XI Racing 25 car owner points for the No. 23 Cup car that Gibbs drives.

NASCAR penalizes William Byron for spinning Denny Hamlin

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NASCAR has docked William Byron 25 points and fined him $50,000 for spinning Denny Hamlin under caution in last weekend’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Byron drops from third in the playoff standings to below the cutline heading into Sunday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Chase Briscoe moves up to hold the final transfer spot with 3,041 points. Austin Cindric is the first driver outside a transfer spot with 3,034 points. Byron is next at 3,033 points.

Hendrick Motorsports was docked 25 owner points as well.

Hendrick Motorsports stated it would appeal the penalty.

The caution waved at Lap 269 for Martin Truex Jr.’s crash. As Hamlin slowed, Byron closed and hit him in the rear. 

Byron admitted after the race the contact was intentional, although he didn’t mean to wreck Hamlin. Byron was upset with how Hamlin raced him on Lap 262. Byron felt Hamlin forced him into the wall as they exited Turn 2 side-by-side. Byron expressed his displeasure during the caution.

“I felt like he ran me out of race track off of (Turn) 2 and had really hard contact with the wall,” Byron said. “Felt like the toe link was definitely bent, luckily not fully broken. We were able to continue.

“A lot of times that kind of damage is going to ruin your race, especially that hard. I totally understand running somebody close and making a little bit of contact, but that was pretty massive.”

On the retaliatory hit, Byron said: “I didn’t mean to spin him out. That definitely wasn’t what I intended to do. I meant to bump him a little bit and show my displeasure and unfortunately, it happened the way it did. Obviously, when he was spinning out, I was like ‘I didn’t mean to do this,’ but I was definitely frustrated.”

Hamlin and crew chief Chris Gabehart argued and questioned NASCAR for not putting Hamlin back in second place — where he was before Byron hit him — and also questioned Byron not being penalized.

“I guess we can just wreck each other under caution,” Hamlin said after the race.

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, told reporters after the race that series officials did not penalize Byron because they did not see the incident. 

“When we were in the tower, we were paying more attention to the actual cause of the caution up there and dispatching our equipment,” Miller said. “The William Byron-Denny Hamlin thing, we had no eyes on. We saw Denny go through the grass.

“By the time we got a replay that showed the incident well enough to do anything to it, we had gone back to green.”