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Tony Stewart ‘so mad’ at NASCAR even as SHR drops 1 appeal

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FORT WORTH, Texas — With his team still appealing $200,000 in fines and allegations from NASCAR that Stewart-Haas Racing manipulated the finish of last weekend’s Cup playoff race at the Charlotte Roval, co-owner Tony Stewart opted to not discuss that Wednesday.

“I’m not going to talk about it,” Stewart said. “I’m so mad at NASCAR right now, I’m not talking about it.”

NASCAR said Tuesday that a review of data and team communications showed that Stewart-Haas manipulated the results of the playoff elimination race at Charlotte.

While still moving forward with the appeal in that case, Stewart-Haas on Wednesday dropped its appeal of earlier penalties, including $100,000 in fines, against Kevin Harvick and his crew chief after his Ford failed post-race inspection at Talladega.

That move was announced after Stewart spoke with reporters at Texas Motor Speedway. He was in Texas for his 13th Smoke Show racing fantasy camp, an event that in its history has raised more than $1.5 million for Speedway Children’s Charities in Texas, but hadn’t been held the past two years because of the pandemic. He will then go about 75 miles for this weekend’s NHRA Texas Fall Nationals in Ennis, Texas.

“Super glad I’m going drag racing this weekend,” said Stewart, who has a car in each of NHRA’s top two divisions. “If it weren’t for the fact that I’ve got a couple of appearances that I have to make, I wouldn’t be in another NASCAR race the rest of the year. Wouldn’t waste my time.”

Asked if he was still having fun with NHRA, Stewart responded: “Love it. The atmosphere is way different, way different. And I like the atmosphere there, I have all year.”

On Sunday, Cole Custer appeared to deliberately hold up a line of traffic on Charlotte’s road course as teammate Chase Briscoe stormed past in a desperate effort to move into the third round of the playoffs.

“Nothing contradicted that that was done deliberately,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller.

Briscoe finished ninth, good enough to bump reigning champion Kyle Larson from the playoffs as the field was trimmed from 12 drivers to eight. Briscoe earned the eighth and final spot in the next round of the playoffs by two points over Larson. The Round of 8 begins Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

NASCAR levied a $100,000 fine for Custer and loss of 50 driver points, as well as 50 owner points for SHR. Crew chief Mike Shiplett was also fined $100,000 and suspended indefinitely.

Stewart sent out a tweet Tuesday night that read, “Looking for a new weekend hobby (something not south eastern based) if anyone has any ideas. Something low drama and relaxing preferably.”

This week, that includes catching some drag racing.

Kurt Busch ‘hopeful’ he can return from concussion this year

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CONCORD, N.C. — Kurt Busch said Tuesday he remains “hopeful” he will recover from a concussion in time to race again before the end of the NASCAR Cup season.

The 2004 Cup champion has been sidelined since he crashed July 23 during qualifying at Pocono Raceway. He’s so far missed 10 races – both Ty Gibbs and Bubba Wallace have driven the No. 45 Toyota for 23XI Racing since Busch was injured – and withdrew his eligibility to participate in the playoffs.

“I’m doing good. Each week is better progress and I feel good and I don’t know when I will be back, but time has been the challenge. Father Time is the one in charge on this one,” Busch said.

There are six races remaining this season and 23XI co-owner Denny Hamlin said the team has contingency plans for Busch’s recovery and is not pressuring the 44-year-old to get back in the car. Busch is under contract at 23XI through next season with an option for 2024.

Hamlin said this past weekend at Texas that Busch has a doctor’s visit scheduled in early October that could reveal more about if Busch can return this season.

Busch has attended a variety of events to stimulate his recovery and enjoyed an evening at the rodeo over the weekend. But his visit to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday for its 10th annual honoring of Breast Cancer Awareness Month was Busch’s first official appearance as a NASCAR driver since his injury.

He attended for the second consecutive year as part of his “Window of Hope” program in which all the window nets on the Cup cars will be pink meshing in next week’s race on The Roval at Charlotte. Busch credited the Toyota Performance Center at TRD’s North Carolina headquarters for helping his recovery and getting him out to events again.

“I feel hopeful. I know I have more doctor visits and distance to go, and I keep pushing each week,” Busch said. “And TPC, Toyota Performance Center, has been a group of angels with the workouts and the vestibular workouts, different nutrition as well and different supplements and things to help everything rebalance with my vision, my hearing. Just my overall balance in general.”

He said his vision is nearly 20/20 in one eye, but his other eye has been lagging behind in recovery. Busch also said he wasn’t sure why he was injured in what appeared to be a routine backing of his car into the wall during a spin in qualifying.

NASCAR this year introduced its Next Gen car that was designed to cut costs and level the playing field, but the safety of the spec car has been under fire since Busch’s crash. Drivers have complained they feel the impact much more in crashes than they did in the old car, and a rash of blown tires and broken parts has plagued the first four races of the playoffs.

Busch said his concussion “is something I never knew would happen, as far as injury” and likened his health battle to that of the breast cancer survivors who aided him in painting the pit road walls at Charlotte pink for next week’s race.

“Each situation is different. It’s similar to a breast cancer survivor. Not every story is the same, not every injury is the same,” Busch said. “It’s not like a broken arm and then you get the cast taken off and can go bench press 300 pounds. It’s a process. I don’t know what journey I’m on, but I’m going to keep pushing.”

Texas Motor Speedway names Mark Faber as its new general manager

Texas Motor Speedway GM
Tim Heitman/Getty Images

FORT WORTH, Texas — Mark Faber was named general manager of Texas Motor Speedway on Thursday after the promotion of Rob Ramage from track GM to a senior vice president role for Speedway Motorsports.

Ramage was named VP of government relations and deputy counsel for Speedway Motorsports, which owns and operates TMS and other NASCAR tracks. He had been in a similar role at Texas since 2013 before becoming the track’s GM last August after the departure of Eddie Gossage.

“Now with a year of experience as a speedway general manager, Rob understands even more about building the community and fan relationships necessary for our success,” said Marcus Smith, SMI’s president and chief executive officer. “In his new role, Rob will not only invest his energy and enthusiasm in what we are doing in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin markets, but also lend his government-relations expertise and legal support to our sports entertainment executives and venues nationwide.”

Faber will join TMS after serving as senior VP of global partnerships at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. He spent the last 17 years with AEG, one of the world’s leading sports and live entertainment companies. He was in Las Vegas since 2014 after working for the company in Kansas City from 2005-13. His more than 30 years in the sports industry also includes positions with the Orange Bowl and the Dallas Cowboys. He also worked with Host Communications, Galles Indy Racing and PSP Sports.

Faber consulted on sponsorships and premium seating renovations for Daytona International Speedway and Phoenix Raceway.

“Mark brings more than 30 years of experience in the sports and entertainment industries to Speedway Motorsports,” said Smith. “Texas Motor Speedway has been hosting major races, concerts and special events for more than 25 years. With Mark’s expertise in corporate sales, fan engagement and event management at premier facilities, we are well-positioned for The Great American Speedway to move into its next quarter-century.

“We welcome Mark back to Texas and to the Speedway Motorsports family, and we look forward to his leadership as our team works together toward the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 NASCAR Playoff race at TMS in October.”

Gossage, the old-school promoter and showman, stepped down last year from the track that he had overseen since its groundbreaking about 20 miles north of downtown Fort Worth in 1995, two years before the first race. Gossage worked for Speedway Motorsports for 32 years overall.

SMI also owns Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Dover International Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Nashville Superspeedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Sonoma Raceway.

NASCAR hiatus: Drivers would like to make it a regular thing


Kevin Harvick headed into NASCAR’s two-week break during the Olympics delighted to be away from his own race car but with plans to be wrapped up in his young son’s fledgling career behind the wheel.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are happy to have the break, too, and a chance to do summer vacation things in the summer rather than the winter, when the sport takes an extended break from racing. Others have gone racing in other series, including Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman and Erik Jones.

The Cup season resumes Aug. 8 at Watkins Glen International (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

The two-week hiatus is something Harvick wishes would become a regular thing.

“I’d rather have a summer break and not have all the breaks at the beginning of the year,” he said of the intermission, which comes with just four races left before the 16-driver playoff field is set – and at the end of a stretch of 14 consecutive weekends of racing.

Another 14-week stretch beckons when the racing resumes.

A slow start to the season, Harvick said, seems unnecessary, and the break now doesn’t just benefit the drivers, but all the people associated with the weekly grind of getting a car ready for a different track every week.

“I’d take it off the front end because everybody’s fresh and energized,” he said of moving the break to the summer months. “I think having this two-week break really allows these guys in the shop and on the road to be able to actually have two, for-sure weeks off that they can plan around. That’s something very important to the families of those individuals.”

Harvick, though, wasn’t planning on getting too far away from racing. His plans included attending three races for Keelan, his 9-year-old son. Still, he said, it’s a break.

“I think not having to stress out about what your car did in the last race or what it’s going to do in the next race for a couple of weeks is obviously nice,” the 2014 champion said. Harvick won a series-high nine races last year, but like points leader Denny Hamlin, has only visited Victory Lane this season to congratulate other winning drivers.

The sport might even want to take a page from Formula One, Harvick said, and “shut the shops down — make it mandatory that nobody can be in the buildings for the first week.”

Count Busch and Truex among fans of the layoff, too. They are among the 13 drivers who have secured spots in the title chase, perhaps making it a bit easier to enjoy some time away from the competition.

“Having an off-week is good,” Busch, the series champ in 2015 and 2019, said. “I think it’s about time for us, a good summer break anyways to be able to go out and do things in the summertime that typically you’d always have to wait for the winter time. I can’t tell you how many winter vacations I’ve been on and places that I’ve gone in December, January versus actually being able to go somewhere far away in July.”

Truex, whose three victories have him tied for second after 22 races, one win behind Kyle Larson, said he planned to spend the time away in the most relaxed way possible.

“Chilling, fishing, whatever,” the 2017 series champion said. “Just hanging out.”

Landon Cassill to be paid in cryptocurrency in deal with Voyager


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Landon Cassill will be the first NASCAR driver paid entirely in cryptocurrency in a sponsorship deal with Voyager that begins at Nashville Superspeedway this weekend.

Voyager, a cryptocurrency brokerage platform, reached a 19-race deal to sponsor Cassill in the Xfinity Series in his JD Motorsports entry. Voyager will pay the funds in Litecoin to Cassill, who has been avid in the market for several years.

Cassill first met Voyager CEO Steve Ehrlich at a crypto conference two years ago when Cassill was speaking on a panel. He’d been pitching the sponsorship idea ever since.

“Landon Cassill’s focus and determination on the race track translates across everything he does,” said Ehrlich. “Landon also shares our vision of widespread crypto adoption, and we’re proud to be the first company to secure a primary NASCAR sponsorship completely with crypto.”

Cassill said Voyager is paying “market rate” for the sponsorship but the funds will be distributed in crypto. He said the payment is a “portfolio of digital assets” that includes Litecoin and Bitcoin priced at market rates.

“I can trade it out right away before the market changes or hang on to it as the market goes up or goes down, carve out a little bit, pay my bills with it and hold the rest,” he said.

Cassill said he’s been invested in cryptocurrency for several years and seen “significant gains” to his personal portfolio. He said he had no hesitation in putting together a deal that will pay crypto instead of cold hard cash.

“There’s a handful of drivers that are into crypto, but I’m probably one that’s been in it for long enough that’s I’m pretty comfortable with how it works,” Cassill said.

The crypto market is just beginning to hit motorsports and Bitcoin had a high-profile debut at the Indianapolis 500 as the primary sponsor for Rinus VeeKay. The weekend after the IndyCar race, VeeKay, Conor Daly and Ed Carpenter were in Miami attending a Bitcoin convention.

“Crypto platforms use a lot of social media and community building as marketing,” Cassill said. “The big companies haven’t done a lot of national ad campaigns, so for Voyager to go after a national ad campaign is a sign that the space is really starting to branch out.”