Ryan Ellis

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Yes, there is NASCAR racing Sunday: Xfinity entry list for Road America

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Who says there’s no NASCAR racing this weekend?

Sure, the NASCAR Cup and Camping World Truck Series will enjoy the weekend off, but not the Xfinity Series.

Drivers in that series will be competing Sunday at what has become one of the most challenging and popular road courses on the Xfinity schedule: the twisting 4.048-mile road course at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

A total of 42 cars are listed on the preliminary entry list released Monday.

Only 40 cars will qualify to race in Sunday’s Johnsonville 180 (3 p.m. ET on NBC). This will be the third road course the series has raced on in the last four races.

Ryan Ellis announced Tuesday he will drive the No. 07 Chevrolet for SS Greenlight Racing, which is normally driven by Ray Black Jr. It will be Ellis’ first NASCAR start of the year.

In 2016, Ellis made four Cup starts, 16 Xfinity starts and four Truck Series starts.

One driver position and one crew chief position remain to be filled.

  • Team JD Motorsports has not named a driver for the No. 15 Chevrolet.
  • And the No. 72 Chevrolet, driven by John Jackson and owned by James Carter, has yet to name a crew chief for the race.

This will be the eighth Xfinity race at Road America since the series first visited there in 2010.

The winners since then have been Carl Edwards (2010), Reed Sorenson (2011), Nelson Piquet Jr. (2012), A.J. Allmendinger (2013), Brendan Gaughan (2014), Paul Menard (2015) and Michael McDowell last year.

Click here for the preliminary entry list for Sunday’s Xfinity race at Road America.

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NASCAR driver Ryan Ellis meets Ryan Ellis, hockey player

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Every once in a while you meet someone with a really unique name.

Then there’s the race occasion you meet someone whose name is little bit like yours, except for a different letter or two or the way you pronounce it.

Then, there’s the even rarer occasion where you run across a person with the exact same name as you.

That’s the situation driver Ryan Ellis found himself in Tuesday at a Nashville Predators game against the Minnesota Wild. The veteran of 74 NASCAR races was in attendance at the NHL game to watch another Ryan Ellis, a Predators’ defenceman and a veteran of six seasons.

“I grew up playing hockey just as long as I’ve been racing, so to meet someone who I’ve watched in World Juniors and all that, to see him out there playing, it was really cool to meet the guy who I keep getting angry tweets about,” NASCAR’s Ellis told the Predator’s website.

A native of Ashburn, Virginia, auto racing’s Ryan Ellis grew up a fan of the local Washington Capitals.

“Nashville is probably the coolest venue of any rink I’ve been to,” he continued. “I’ve been to games up in Pittsburgh, Washington, Dallas this year, Carolina last week, and I’m going to Detroit in a few weeks, but the environment here was really cool. I didn’t think of it as a hockey town [before], but the crowd was super into it. I had a few friends with me, who had never been to a game before, and they kept saying how stoked the crowd was. It was really cool to see the live music and everything.”

Ellis competed in four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races in 2016, with three of them for BK Racing.

He started 16 Xfinity Series races, with a majority of them for Obaika Racing. His best finish was 15th at Daytona International Speedway in July.

Joey Logano on attending child’s funeral: ‘It tore my heart out’

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AVONDALE, Ariz. — Joey Logano was humbled this week after attending the funeral for a 5-year-old NASCAR fan who died from juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia.

Jake Leatherman died Nov. 1.

Logano, Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Ellis and crew members from the teams of Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman, Logano and others were there at the request of Leatherman’s mother, Crystal.

She asked a TV anchor in Charlotte, North Carolina, who previously had featured Leatherman if the anchor knew of anyone in NASCAR who could attend the service in uniform and carry her son’s casket.

“I want to give my son the sendoff he deserves,” Crystal Leatherman wrote. “He recently got into NASCAR and absolutely loves Richard Petty. He loved calling him ‘The King’. But Jake loves a lot of the other cars as well. The Lowe’s car. The M&M’s U.S.A. car. Lots of cars. He loved them all. I was wondering if you knew anyone who would be willing to come in uniform and help carry my baby?”

Logano heard about the request from his wife last weekend while at Texas Motor Speedway.

“I walked into the bus after qualifying on Friday night, and she was inside crying,’’ Logano said of wife Brittany. “She had just watched the video and told me about him and how he was a big race fan and I thought it would be cool if we could do something for his funeral.’’

Logano, who wore his firesuit to the service, and his wife brought a race suit with Leatherman’s name on it. Because the child was a fan of Richard Petty, they put a No. 43 on the uniform.

“The whole racing community got into this,’’ Logano said Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. “It wasn’t just Brittany and myself. It was one of the most real moments, one of the proudest moments I have been a part of in this NASCAR community. To come together as one team and be NASCAR as a whole for a child who looked at us as superheroes. That is how his family members described what he thought of NASCAR.

“We all came together and were all there for him, but we didn’t get to meet him and give him his race suit and how cool he would have thought that was. To see all his heroes and pit crew members there that day would have been very special.

“I have never been to a funeral for a child before. That is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. It was definitely eye-opening and it puts life into perspective. I don’t have a kid yet but I can’t even imagine – watching his mom and dad and sister and grandparents all there it tore my heart out.”

Watch is a video report from the Charlotte TV station on the service.

NASCAR teams, drivers attend funeral of 5-year-old fan

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On Wednesday, multiple NASCAR teams and drivers rallied around the family of 5-year-old NASCAR fan who passed away from juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia.

Joey Logano, Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Ellis and the teams of Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman, Logano and others gathered at a church in Charlotte, North Carolina, to attend the funeral of Jake Leatherman, who died on Nov. 1.

The presence of so many members of the NASCAR community was the result Leatherman’s mother, Crystal, asking WBTV anchor Molly Grantham if she knew of anyone in NASCAR who could attend the funeral in uniform and carry her son’s casket.

“I want to give my son the sendoff he deserves,” Crystal Leatherman wrote. “He recently got into NASCAR and absolutely loves Richard Petty. He loved calling him ‘The King’. But Jake loves a lot of the other cars as well. The Lowe’s car. The M&M’s U.S.A. car. Lots of cars. He loved them all. I was wondering if you knew anyone who would be willing to come in uniform and help carry my baby?”

You can watch a short video from the funeral at Grantham’s Facebook page.

Three Sprint Cup teams issued warnings after Martinsville

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Three Sprint Cup Series teams have been issued written warnings following infractions last weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

The No. 93 team failed the Laser Inspection Station three times during pre-qualifying inspection. In addition to receiving its first written warning, the team will lose 15 minutes of practice time this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

Matt DiBenedetto drove the car to a 32nd-place finish at Martinsville. Ryan Ellis will attempt to qualify the car this weekend.

The No. 6 team of Trevor Bayne was issued its third written warning after failing the Laser Inspection Station twice during pre-race inspection.

The No. 11 team of Denny Hamlin was issued its third written warning after failing template inspection twice during pre-qualifying inspection.

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