Gray Gaulding

SS Greenlight Racing

Joe Graf Jr. set for full-time Xfinity season with SS Greenlight Racing

Leave a comment

Joe Graf Jr. will compete in his first full-time Xfinity Series season this year with SS Greenlight Racing, the team announced Thursday.

Graf, 21, will drive the team’s No. 08 Chevrolet, which Gray Gaulding raced in 2019.

Patrick Donahue will serve as Graf’s crew chief. He will be sponsored by the EAT SLEEP RACE clothing line.

A native of Mahwah, New Jersey, Graf competed part-time for Richard Childress Racing last year, making three starts and failed to qualify for two others. His best finish was 14th in the fall race at Richmond. Graf raced full-time in the ARCA Menards Racing Series the last two years. He earned one win, seven top fives and 21 top 10s.

“To be racing full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series is super cool,” Graf said in a press release. “My boys at EAT SLEEP RACE are really pumped and I am looking forward to having them back on the car.

“Bobby (Dotter, team owner) and Patrick prepare solid cars. To have the chance to get into a competitive race car for a full season is exactly what I need to continue developing at this level.

“My goal is to learn as much as possible, contend for strong finishes and maybe even earn a berth into the Xfinity Series playoffs. I know I have a lot to learn, but I’m eager for the challenge and am ready to get to Daytona and getting the season underway.”

As an owner, Dotter has 220 Xfinity Series starts since 1995 and 305 in the Truck Series since 2004. Gaulding earned Dotter’s best Xfinity result last year when he placed second at Talladega.

“I’ve been watching Joe for a little while now, especially when he ran a few NASCAR Xfinity Series races last season and I’ve seen he’s eager to learn and perform,” Dotter said in a press release. “This is a big step for him, but he is determined to put the effort in and have a good rookie season.

“With Patrick’s leadership and the strength that our team has shown in recent seasons, there’s no reason that we can’t go out there and do the same with Joe in 2020. I’m looking forward to getting the year started.”

During his 2019 season at RCR, Graf served as a marketing and communications intern through New York University, where he attends school. He will continue in that role this year.

Ryan Blaney among several drivers serving practice penalties at Texas

Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

FORT WORTH, Texas — Ryan Blaney and J.J. Yeley were held out of the first 15 minutes of the first Cup practice Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Blaney’s No. 12 Ford (which is in the Round of 8 playoff cars) and Yeley’s No. 53 Ford were penalized for being late out of the garage for qualifying the Oct. 26 qualifying session at Martinsville Speedway.

There were four practice penalties issued Friday at Texas in the Xfinity Series dating to its most recent race weekend at Kansas Speedway.

Gray Gaulding, John Hunter Nemechek and Joey Gase were held from the first 15 minutes of the first practice for failing inspection twice. CJ McLaughlin’s No. 93 Chevrolet missed the final 30 minutes of first practice for three inspections failures and being late to inspection at Kansas.

Christopher Bell to start on pole for today’s Xfinity race at Kansas

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Christopher Bell will start on the pole for today’s Xfinity race at Kansas Speedway, the first race to kick off of the playoffs’ Round of 8. The race will be carried live on NBC at 3 p.m. ET.

Bell covered the 1.5-mile track at a speed of 181.165 mph. It was his fifth pole of the season and 11th of his Xfinity career.

Today’s race will be the 19th Xfinity race held at Kansas Speedway and Bell becomes the 15th different driver to earn an Xfinity pole there. Kansas Speedway is the closest NASCAR track to Bell’s Norman, Oklahoma home.

Brandon Jones will sit alongside Bell on the front row with a speed of 180.481 mph. Third through 10th were Austin Cindric (180.216 mph), Tyler Reddick (179.313), Cole Custer (179.307), Jeremy Clements (178.843), Justin Allgaier (178.802), Ryan Truex (178.625), Ross Chastain (178.601) and Noah Gragson (178.424).

Gray Gaulding was back in the car and qualified 19th (174.503 mph). Gaulding suffered a medical emergency on the airplane en route to Kansas on Friday. He was cleared by NASCAR physicians to take part both in qualifying as well as this afternoon’s race.

A total of 38 drivers will take the green flag for today’s race. Timmy Hill was the slowest qualifier and will not compete in the race.

Click here for the full qualifying results.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

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

Getty Images
2 Comments

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.”

Gray Gaulding out Friday after suspected allergic reaction

Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Leave a comment

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Stewart-Haas Racing plane made an unscheduled stop in St. Louis on Friday after Gray Gaulding had a suspected allergic reaction.

SS Green Light Racing confirmed Gaulding had an issue en route to Kansas City. A Stewart-Haas Racing spokesperson confirmed that its plane made the unscheduled stop, and that emergency personnel came on board after the plane landed. Gaulding remained in St. Louis while the plane continued to Kansas City.

SS Green Light Racing stated that after arriving at the track, Gaulding went to the infield care center and was not cleared to drive Friday. Gaulding will be re-evaluated Saturday. J.J. Yeley drove the car for Gaulding in practice Friday.