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Rookie Truck Series driver will ‘indefinitely’ step away after 2018 season

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Justin Fontaine, citing the stress of his career on his family and lack of sponsorship, stated Monday on Twitter and Facebook that “barring a major influx of sponsorship funds, I will be indefinitely stepping away from Motorsports competition” after the Camping World Truck Series finale in Miami in November.

Fontaine, 20, has two top-10 finishes for Niece Motorsports, including a 10th-place finish at Daytona International Speedway to open the season. The rookie started 30th and finished 14th last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was his best finish since placing 14th at Chicagoland Speedway in late June. Fontaine ranks 15th in points.

Fontaine wrote Monday about the stress his career has put on himself and family members.

“Following the event at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, which I retired early due to (a) self-inflicted on-track accident, I went back to the hauler and literally broke down. My rookie season at Niece Motorsports started out strong with two top-10 finishes in the first three races – however our finishes plateaued in the weeks that followed.

“We had a string of poor results that I had only myself and inexperience to blame. Frankly, it was a bitter pill to swallow, but it became reality. My dad came up to the lounge after the Charlotte race to calm (me) down, and we had an honest conversation about my career and desires.

“My goals for nearly 10 years have been clear to me, however, the reality of making those dreams come true are much more complicated, and in many ways out of my control.

“The stress for me and more importantly my family is more than I can shoulder any longer.

“We often do not think about the impact our careers have on our families, but I was forced to see it firsthand when my mom, dad and brothers walked into my hospital room in tears after the ARCA crash in Daytona that nearly took away my ability to walk in February 2017.

“If I can help it, I do not want to see that again. That experience affected me very deeply and knowing that the lifestyle and career I love so much could bring that much emotional distress was overwhelming.”

 

Dale Jr. Download: Kyle Busch’s antics are good for NASCAR

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There is an old adage that says there is no such thing as bad press so long as they spell your name correctly. Kyle Busch would seem to adhere to that saying – and as it turns out, apparently so does Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“Whether you like Kyle Busch or not, it doesn’t really matter,” Earnhardt said on this week’s Dale Jr. Download podcast. “If we can get that every week, it’s what we need – no matter who’s in the mix and creating that drama.”

Busch taunted fans by wiping imaginary tears from his eyes on the frontstretch his rough-and-tumble, last-lap duel with Kyle Larson for the win last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

“I’m not saying that made me a huge Kyle Busch fan or a bigger fan of Kyle Busch” Earnhardt said. “I’m saying that what he did is necessary in sports and entertainment. Even though he stirs that pot and aggravates more fans, that’s better than nothing happening and us going home bored to death.”

And it was the immediacy of the frontstretch interview that allowed for added drama.

“All the theatrics don’t happen if we interview him in Victory Lane. … People complain about the double interview – some fans do not like the winner getting interviewed twice, but you don’t get what we got … without that happening. We need that interview on the front straightaway because it’s instantaneous.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

Kyle Busch says respect is shared with Kyle Larson but not with every driver

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch says the reason he gets along with Kyle Larson even after their physical last-lap tussle at Chicagoland Speedway is because of the respect he has for Larson.

Busch says he can’t say the same thing about every driver.

“See, the reason why Larson and I get along, and the reason why Larson and I can have a relationship and have respect for one another is because at Bristol I bumped him with five to go, he had a chance to come back and get me back,” Busch said of the April Cup race he won. “(Larson) didn’t get there.

“At Chicago, he bumped me, gave me an opportunity to come back for him, right?

“Brad (Keselowski) and I can’t absolutely stand one another, hate each other, because every time he runs into me, he wrecks me and I’m out, right? Like Watkins Glen that time. There was not a chance for rebuttal.

“The reason why that was a great race to the end with him and (Marcos) Ambrose is because they battled it out. But every time he just runs over me and wrecks me so there’s never a chance for that rebuttal. There’s never that camaraderie with racing. It’s just wrecking.”

Watkins Glen has been particularly troublesome for Busch and Keselowski.

Last year, the two spun after colliding in the bus stop when Busch made a move to pass off a restart.

In 2012, the race Busch noted, Busch spun after contact with Keselowski in the esses on the last lap. Keselowski went on to finish second to Ambrose while Busch finished seventh.

In 2013, Keselowski wrecked after contact from Busch in an Xfinity race at Kansas.

In 2016, Busch hit the wall after contact from Keselowski at Bristol in the Xfinity race. Busch had just passed Keselowski with five laps to go.

Busch spun at the start of the Xfinity race at Michigan in June 2017 after contact from Keselowski. 

Busch and Keselowski have a long history. In 2010 at Bristol, Brad Keselowski said on the microphone during driver introductions: “Kyle Busch is an ass.”

Last November at the press conference for the four championship drivers before the Miami race, Busch said of Keselowski: “Sometimes you just don’t like a guy. I never ran into Matt Kenseth. I don’t think Matt Kenseth ever ran into me. There is a respect factor out there on the race track and you can certainly do a better job sometimes when you’re around some of those guys that you may or may not necessarily like.”

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Dale Jr. Download: Kurt Busch’s reaction to getting passed was surprising

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Kurt Busch has worked hard to show NASCAR fans a new side to his personality by engaging them with a friendlier attitude, according to Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“Kurt seems to have changed over the last couple of years, particularly since he’s gotten married,” Earnhardt said Thursday on the Dale Jr. Download podcast. “Over the last several months, his activities on social media have shown a side of him which is friendly, fun to be around, carefree – a bit of an evolution from the original Kurt that we know from way back.”

MORE: Kevin Harvick: “Every point matters”

And then came an unguarded moment at the conclusion of Stage 2 of the Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. When he was passed by Kevin Harvick coming off turn 4, Busch lashed out at his teammate for taking the stage win from him.

Earnhardt didn’t expect that reaction.

“I was surprised that he had that point of view. And then I was surprised that he shared it with his team, because I’m, sure they were as shocked as the rest of the world to have heard it.”

Stage points – and more importantly, the playoff point comes with a stage win – are important to every driver in the field.

“Kurt’s reaction to that (pass), like come out of left field. I could understand, like ‘darn; I got beat’ or ‘my bad guys, I chose poorly in 3 and 4 on what to do.’ … But I would never have expected Jimmie Johnson or a teammate to just not race and try to win that stage. Points are just so important.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

Dale Jr. Download: In praise of Ryan Joseph Newman

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The final lap of the Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway has been replayed, discussed, and dissected, but “let’s not lose focus of the true hero of this moment,” Mike Davis, co-host of the Dale Jr. Download podcast said on Thursday. “Because none of this happens without Ryan Joseph Newman being Ryan Joseph Newman.”

The question of how hard lapped cars are supposed the race the leader hasn’t been answered by a long shot. Drivers and experts have weighed in, but one thing is certain, if Newman is behind the wheel of the car the leaders are coming around to lap – the conversation is going to continue.

“I was trying to explain to people how Ryan races people really hard,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “He carries that as a badge of honor. Kyle Busch is pissed – I’m sure. Anybody would be. I would be pissed if Ryan Newman did that to me. But that’s Ryan. Immediately you’re like freakin’ mad and then like a lap later, you’re like ‘Well, that’s Ryan.’

“He’s there thinking, ‘these are all positions for me man. I don’t care that that’s the leader.’”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.