Derek White

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.’’

Ben Rhodes sets the pace in first of two Xfinity practices at Road America

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Ben Rhodes was fastest in the first of two Xfinity Series practice sessions Friday at Road America.

Rhodes set the pace with a speed of 108.500 mph over the four-plus mile road course in central Wisconsin.

Defending Xfinity Series champion Chase Elliott was second-fastest at 108.133 mph, followed by Ryan Blaney (108.040), Justin Marks (107.948) and Brian Scott (107.947).

The second session will kick off at 4:30 pm ET and run to 5:55 pm ET.

A number of cars spun out during the practice session, including Kenny Habul and Derek White, who was stuck in a gravel pit and had to be towed out. His car suffered right side body damage.

Also of note, an unusual circumstance occurred when Stanton Barrett couldn’t get his race car out of the hauler. The motor for the liftgate was unable to get power to bring the car out.

The liftgate jammed about halfway up and the team was unable to get the car out of the hauler on time to get on the track. It’s unclear if the team will be able to get out on track for the second practice session.

Here’s how the first practice session played out:

source:

 

Kyle Busch holds off Brad Keselowski to win at Loudon, his third win in last four races

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Kyle Busch’s charge to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup continued moving forward, capturing his third win of the season — and third in the last four — in Sunday’s 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Busch held off a surge by runner-up Brad Keselowski. Busch is 58 points out of 30th place in the Sprint Cup standings. He must be ranked 30th or higher after the final Chase qualifying race at Richmond in September to make the Chase.

WATCH: Full replay of 5-Hour Energy 301

“There ain’t no give-up in this 18 team,” Busch said on his team radio after crossing the finish line.

MORE: Race Results

MORE: Points Standings

Busch missed the first 11 races of the season recovering from a broken right leg and fractured left foot suffered in the season-opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona in February.

But since returning to competition in the Sprint Cup Series, Busch has now won three of eight starts. His first two wins were at Sonoma and last Saturday at Kentucky.

Keselowski finished second, followed by Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Keselowski, who led the race at the midpoint (Lap 151)  led the most laps (101) in a race for the first time this season. Busch led 95 laps.

How Kyle Busch won: Busch took the lead on the restart on Lap 253 and never looked back, building a more than two-second lead at one point. While Keselowski closed in the final laps, he didn’t have enough to catch Busch, who earned his 32nd career Sprint Cup victory. With back-to-back wins (last Saturday at Kentucky and Sunday at Loudon), Busch gained 70 points in his last two races on 30th place in the season standings. Busch becomes the 12th different winner in as many races at New Hampshire.

Who else had a good race: Even though he’s never won a Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire, Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned his eighth top-five finish there with Sunday’s fifth-place showing. “We had a power issue on the car and were just down on power,” Earnhardt said. “I had to drive real hard all day long. Pretty decent car, we just need to be a little bit better.” … Even though it saw its two-race win streak at New Hampshire snapped, Team Penske still had both of its drivers in the top four: Keselowski (second) and Joey Logano (fourth).

Who had a bad race: Alex Bowman came on to pit road for a flat tire on Lap 97. His right front tire caught fire, but his team took it off and replaced it. No sooner did Bowman leave his pit stall, fire erupted again, prompting him to stop at the end of pit road and quickly exit his car as fire began to consume the engine compartment. Bowman returned to finish 42nd. … Jimmie Johnson struggled to a 22nd-place finish at a track he typically does well at. … Tony Stewart continued his season-long struggle, finishing 20th. … Clint Bowyer looked strong early, but finished 34th and fell out of a top-16 Chase spot.

Notable: With 75 laps left, Jeff Gordon suffered electrical issues that caused some of his dash lights to malfunction, a sign of a potential battery or alternator issue. Gordon still managed to battle back to finish ninth. … Canadian driver Derek White made his Sprint Cup debut and finished 39th. A member of the Mohawk tribe, White is the first Canadian Native American to compete in a Cup race. … Sunday marked the first time Brad Keselowski has led the most laps in a race this season.

Quote of the day: “This is such an awesome win, such an awesome comeback. It’s so much fun to win these races and win with this group of guys.” – Kyle Busch after winning at New Hampshire.

Next up: The Brickyard 400, Sunday, July 26, Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Here’s the starting lineup for Sunday’s 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire

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Carl Edwards and Joey Logano will pace the field to start Sunday’s 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Edwards won his first pole of the season and his first career pole at the 1.058-mile flat track on Friday. Logano was a close second.

Five Toyotas will start in the first eight positions.

Derek White, who will start 42nd, became the first Canadian-heritage Native American to qualify for a Sprint Cup race.

The only driver who failed to qualify was Reed Sorenson.

Here’s the starting grid for Sunday:

source:

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Canadian racer Derek White to become first Native American to make Sprint Cup start

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Veteran Canadian drag racer turned NASCAR driver Derek White will become the first Native American to start a Sprint Cup race in Sunday’s 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

A member of the Mohawk tribe from Kahnawake, Quebec (near Montreal), White will be behind the wheel of the No. 33 Circle Sport Chevrolet SS when the green flag falls shortly after 1:30 pm ET.

While this will be his Cup debut, the 44-year-old White is no stranger to NASCAR. He’s made 16 Xfinity Series starts, including eight thus far this season, along with six Camping World Truck Series starts, as well.

“I have always wanted to associate with the best, and I know that Circle Sport team principals Joe Falk and Mike Hillman have exactly what I am looking for at this stage in Sprint Cup – great equipment and team personnel and the right experience and attitude to help me make the most of this opportunity,” White said in a media release. “I love to compete against the best, and racing in the Sprint Cup Series has been a goal of mine right from the start of my racing career.”

White, 2010 Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, will double-up this weekend, as he’ll also compete in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire, as well, for White Motorsports.

Follow @JerryBonkowski