Derek White

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NASCAR indefinitely suspends Derek White for arrest

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NASCAR announced Monday that it has indefinitely suspended Xfinity Series driver/owner Derek White, who was among those arrested last week in a tobacco- and drug-smuggling operation in Canada.

NASCAR is suspending White for violating Section.2.11.a of the Xfinity Series Rule Book that states: “Any NASCAR member charged with any violation of the law (misdemeanor and/or felony) shall notify NASCAR … prior to the next scheduled Event or within 72 hours of being so charged, whichever is earlier.”

White turned himself into authorities last Wednesday and faces seven charges in connection to the biggest tobacco-smuggling bust in North American history. About 60 individuals were arrested.

The seven charges White faces are:

  • Three counts of conspiracy to commit fraud against the government.
  • Three counts of fraud toward the government.
  • One count of profiteering as a criminal organization.

White, 45 and from Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada, became the first Native American driver in the Sprint Cup Series when he raced at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last July. He finished 39th in the 43-car field.

He has made 22 career Xfinity starts from 2012 to this year. He finished last in the 40-car field March 5 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and failed to qualify for the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. White, who owned his team, drove in 13 Xfinity races last year with a best finish of 22nd at Daytona.

White also ran in six Camping World Truck Series races between 2009-14.

NASCAR driver faces seven charges in biggest tobacco-smuggling bust in North America

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NASCAR driver/owner Derek White turned himself into authorities Wednesday and faces seven charges in connection to the biggest tobacco-smuggling bust in North American history, NBC Sports has learned.

Sgt. Daniel Thibaudeau of the Quebec Provincial Police told NBC Sports that White was being interrogated Wednesday. White, who turned himself in after learning of an arrest warrant in his name, was expected to be arraigned Wednesday night.

Canadian officials, along with assistance from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security, launched the investigation in 2014, Thibaudeau said. Nearly 60 individuals were arrested and nearly 70 searches took place Wednesday. About 700 officers from Canada and the U.S. were involved.

White, 45 and from Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada, became the first Native American driver in the Sprint Cup Series when he raced at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last July. He finished 39th in the 43-car field.

He has made 22 career Xfinity starts from 2012 to this year. He finished last in the 40-car field March 5 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and failed to qualify for the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. White, who owned his team, drove in 13 Xfinity races last year with a best finish of 22nd at Daytona.

White also ran in six Camping World Truck Series races between 2009-14.

Thibaudeau said that the investigation has proof of at least 158 transports of illegal tobacco from North Carolina to Canada from 2014-16. He said about 2,294 tons of tobacco were transported. Thibaudeau said that would lead to about $530 million Canadian in taxes not paid.

Bloomberg reported that the organization bought shipments of tobacco leaf in North Carolina and trucked them to Canada where they were resold. Profits were used to purchase cocaine and some of the money was laundered overseas. By not declaring the tobacco at the border, no taxes were paid.

Thibaudeau said that the seven charges White faces are:

  • Three counts of conspiracy to commit fraud against the government
  • Three counts of fraud toward the government
  • One count of profiteering as a criminal organization

Among the items seized in the various searches Wednesday were:

  • More than 1,800 pounds of cocaine
  • About 46 pounds of methamphetamine
  • Thirty-five pounds of cannabis
  • 100 grams of fentanyl
  • More than $1.5 million Canadian in cash
  • More than $3 million U.S. in cash

In a statement, Captain Frédérick Gaudreau, Chief of the crime investigation against the State of the Sûreté du Québec, said: “The MYGALE project is the largest ever made to date in America on tobacco smuggling, but also on cross-border crime between Canada and the United States.’’

Penalty and warning report for Xfinity, Truck Series from Daytona

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NASCAR has issued penalties and warnings following the first weekend of racing for both the Xfinity Series and Camping World Trucks Series.

Three written warnings were issued in the Xfinity Series. The No. 40 team of Derek White, who did not qualify for the Daytona opener, was given a warning for a rear lower coil spring mount that did not meet specifications. Warnings were given to the No. 99 of Chris Fontaine and No. 0 of Eric McClure for rear jack screws that did not meet specifications. Fontaine also failed to qualify.

In the Truck Series, a P2 penalty was given to the No. 41 team of Ben Rhodes for rear lower coil spring mounts not conforming to specifications. Crew chief Kevin Bellicourt has been fined $2,500 and placed on probation through Dec. 31. The team has been docked 10 owner and 10 driver points. Rhodes finished seventh in the season opener.

NASCAR also gave written warnings to the No. 05 of John Wes Townley, No. 22 of Austin Wayne Self, No. 58 of Ryan Reed and No. 59 of Korbin Forrister for truck trailing arms not meeting specifications.

Reed and Forrister did not qualify for the race.

Another written warning was given to the No. 23 of Spencer Gallagher for a triangular filler panel not meeting specifications.

Kyle Busch, Danica Patrick teams receive warnings at Phoenix

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Six Sprint Cup teams – including championship contender Kyle Busch‘s team – received warnings for inspection issues last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

Busch’s team received its third warning after it failed pre-race inspection twice. If Busch’s team receives a fourth warning before pit stalls are picked this weekend, his team will have to pick last for this weekend’s season finale. Other Cup teams with three warnings entering this weekend are the teams of Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin and Jeb Burton.

Other Cup teams receiving warnings at Phoenix:

Danica Patrick‘s team failed pre-race inspection three times and also will lose 15 minutes of practice Friday.

Matt Kenseth‘s team failed pre-race inspection three times and also will lose 15 minutes of practice Friday.

Michael Annett‘s team failed pre-race inspection three times and also will lose 15 minutes of practice Friday.

Greg Biffle‘s team received a warning after failing pre-race inspection twice.

Paul Menard‘s team received a warning after failing pre-race inspection twice.

In the Xfinity Series, the team of Derek White failed pre-race inspection four times at Phoenix and also will be docked 15 minutes of practice.

Ryan Ellis to make Sprint Cup debut at Phoenix

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Phoenix International Raceway and the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 will mark the Sprint Cup debut of Ryan Ellis.

The 25 year old will make his first Sprint Cup start in the No. 33 Chevrolet for Circle Sport Racing. The No. 33, which will be sponsored by Science Logic, has been driven in 2015 by Ty Dillon (four races), Brian Scott (nine races), Alex Kennedy (11 races), Mike Bliss (two races) and in one race each by Michael Annett, Derek White, Travis Kvapil and B.J. McLeod.

Ellis told frontstretch.com he doesn’t see this as an opportunity leading to a full-time ride with Circle Sport.

Ryan Ellis “It is more about the opportunities being available and proving to Cup teams that I belong in that garage area and that I can handle not only the car, but the competition,” Ellis said. “It is a matter of proving yourself in that capacity and having Cup team owners think of you if someone gets sick or hurt at the track. It’s how Brett Moffitt got his ride this year.”

Ellis makes his debut after competing in 29 Xfinity Series races since 2012 and 20 Camping World Truck Series races in the last two seasons. The Ashburn, Va. native has never finished in the top 10 in either series.