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NASCAR teams, groups approved for millions in federal COVID-19 loans

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Several NASCAR teams and related organizations were approved for between $150,000 and $10 million in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPE), according to data provided Monday.

The U.S. Small Business Administration posted a list of PPP loan data on the U.S. Department of the Treasury website. The Paycheck Protection Program was included in the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was established to help businesses weather the financial stress of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Among the many NASCAR teams, racetracks and related organizations (with data including the range of the loan and the number of jobs retained):

* Richard Childress Racing ($5-$10 million, 334 jobs)

* Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates ($2-5 million, 179 jobs)

* Roush Fenway Racing ($2-5 million, 179 jobs)

* Roush & Yates Racing Engines ($2-5 million, 192 jobs)

* JTG Daugherty Racing ($1-2 million, 88 jobs)

* GMS Racing ($1-$2 million, 89 jobs)

* Kyle Busch Motorsports ($1-$2 million, 71 jobs)

* JR Motorsports ($1-$2 million, 88 jobs)

* Germain Racing ($350,000-$1 million, 41 jobs)

* Richard Petty Motorsports ($350,000-$1 million, 43 jobs)

* Dale Earnhardt Inc. ($350,000-$1 million, 55 jobs)

* DGR-Crosley ($350,000-$1 million, 67 jobs)

* Premium Motorsports ($350,000-$1 million, 46 jobs)

* Pocono International Raceway ($350,000-$1 million, 142 jobs)

* Hattori Racing ($150,000-$350,000, 16 jobs)

* Jimmie Johnson Racing ($150,00-$350,000, 8 jobs)

* Motor Racing Outreach ($150,000-$350,000, 9 jobs)

* Rev Racing ($150,000-$350,000, 12 jobs)

* Starcom Racing ($150,000-$350,000, 20 jobs)

* Kaulig Racing ($350,000-$1 million, 36 jobs)

* Mesa Marin Raceway ($150,000-$350,000, 16 jobs)

* Bill McAnally Racing ($150,000-$350,000, 19 jobs)

* Young’s Motorsports ($150,000-$350,000, 0 jobs)

* JD Motorsports ($150,000-$350,000, 0 jobs)

In a statement accompanying the data, the SBA said the data was for businesses that were approved for PPP loans but “does not reflect a determination by SBA that the borrower is eligible for a PPP loan or entitled to loan forgiveness. All PPP loans are subject to SBA review, and all loans over $2 million will automatically be reviewed.”

Contributing: Nate Ryan

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Justin Allgaier ready for starring role as Jimmie Johnson’s understudy

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If Sunday’s Brickyard 400 was a Broadway play, Justin Allgaier would be the understudy stepping in to fill in for the star, namely, Jimmie Johnson.

And while it may be looked at as only a fill-in role for Allgaier driving Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet due to Johnson having tested positive Friday for COVID-19, a strong run in Sunday’s race (4 p.m. ET on NBC and the NBC Sports App) could put Allgaier’s name on the list of potential replacements for Johnson, who is retiring at the end of this season.

“I would say the list for the 48 car of potential drivers is extremely long and I don’t know where I fit on that list,” Allgaier said after finishing sixth in Saturday’s Xfinity race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “For me, 100% is what I can give. I think it’s gonna be important to go out there and just do what I can do.

“And if an opportunity were to come out of that and to go somewhere, obviously I would love for that opportunity. But on the other side of that point, I have a great relationship with my team at JR Motorsports. … That’s gonna be the most important part is, just going it 100% (Sunday) and whatever happens after that happens.”

Johnson filling in for Johnson isn’t exactly a surprise. Allgaier has been Johnson’s designated backup since NASCAR resumed racing in May following a nearly three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have had our own basically secondary line-up and that includes anyone from driver to crew chief all the way through the crew members that travel to the race track,” Johnson’s crew chief, Cliff Daniels, said. “There really was no extra thought that we had to put into it. This lineup was already set.

“We had all the plans in place just out of the abundance of caution that we wanted to take. And again, even before going back racing in Darlington, this has been in place. There were no extra decisions to be made. Justin has been on stand-by this whole time and has been aware that this could happen.”

For now, Allgaier is slated to replace Johnson for Sunday’s Brickyard 400. There’s also the possibility he could stay in the No. 48 for next weekend’s race at Kentucky.

Johnson must have two negative COVID-19 tests in no less than a 24-hour period and also be given clearance by his doctor before he can return behind the wheel.

By missing the Brickyard 400, which he’s won four times, Johnson also snaps a streak of 663 consecutive starts in the Cup Series dating back to his rookie campaign in 2002. It’s the longest streak of any active driver in the Cup Series.

“I didn’t expect this opportunity would come to fruition,” Allgaier said. “I couldn’t ask for a better team, the 48 team, I’ve worked with a lot of guys on that team closely. I’m excited in one aspect, but the other part of this is we’re thinking about Jimmie and his whole family. Their safety is of utmost importance.

“No matter what happens tomorrow, we want to see Jimmie get healthy and (Johnson’s wife) Chandra get healthy.  … I texted Jimmie last night and said I want to see him get healthy quick so he can get back because I want to see him back in victory lane a lot more before the end of the season.”

While Allgaier is known most for his 319 Xfinity Series starts, 11 wins and 182 top-10 finishes, the 34-year-old native of Riverton, Illinois, also has 76 starts in the Cup Series on his resume, with a career-best finish of eighth at Bristol in spring 2015.

Given his prior Cup experience, as well as working hand-in-hand with Hendrick Motorsports in various capacities such as testing over the years – team owner Rick Hendrick is also a part-owner of JR Motorsports – Allgaier is both comfortable as well as somewhat nervous of becoming the first driver to ever fill in for Johnson during Johnson’s Cup career.

“That really resonates with me as a driver when you’re already on pins and needles when you’re filling in for somebody else,” Allgaier said. “You want to make sure you’re doing everything right and give them the best finish that you can give them.

“When you’re able to do that and be comfortable, that makes a big difference, and I think that’s what’s been the best part about all of this for me.”

Allgaier considers racing in Johnson’s shoes one of the most humbling experiences of his career.

“I can’t even begin to describe it to you, to be honest with you,” Allgaier said. “The cars at HMS, any of the four cars, it’s definitely an honor to drive and to be part of that program.

“The 48, being the iconic number it is, Jimmie winning seven championships and here (at Indianapolis) four times, the guy Jimmie is and the respect he has in the sport, you top that off with the fact he’s the only driver to drive the 48 since he started his career there.”

While Johnson and Hendrick aren’t putting any undue pressure on Allgaier, he understands the gravity of the position he’s been placed in.

“If you have the opportunity to drive for Mr. Hendrick, you take it, no questions asked and try to run with that ball,” Allgaier said.

But at the same time, Allgaier isn’t going to try and drive over his head or beyond his ability just because he has such a great opportunity.

“Opportunity or not does not supersede to go out there and do the job at hand,” Allgaier said. “100% is what I have to offer. That’s what I’m going to give them tomorrow.

“101 or 110 (percent) or trying to be a hero, there’s no place for that. This isn’t what this role is about. My plan is to go out and give the 48 car the best opportunity to run at its max potential.

“In my mind, I believe that max potential is to go out and win the race tomorrow. So I’ve gotta do a really good job. … I need to make sure that I don’t put myself in bad positions, I don’t do things Jimmie wouldn’t do and being somebody different in the car, everybody in the field is going to know that.

“There are going to be some that respect that and others who are probably going to take advantage of that. You just have to know who you’re racing against and put yourself in the best position you can.

“I just have to make sure when the checkered flag falls tomorrow, I’ve given it 100% and whatever the results are, that’s just what they’re going to be.”

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Noah Gragson, Brandon Jones ready to Dash 4 Cash

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Noah Gragson and Brandon Jones are among Xfinity Series drivers looking forward to tonight’s Dash 4 Cash qualifying race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The top four finishing full-time Xfinity drivers in tonight’s race will qualify for the first of four Dash 4 Cash races, Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The highest finisher of the four Dash 4 Cash competitors at each race will win a $100,000 bonus.

“I really like the Dash 4 Cash program,” Gragson, who starts ninth tonight, said in a NASCAR teleconference. “I think it’s really cool what Xfinity does for the sport.

“In 2018 I ran three races for Joe Gibbs Racing and was part of three of those Dash 4 Cash races at Richmond, Talladega and Dover. It felt like a different energy, different atmosphere. It’s like everybody was racing that much harder. It was a lot of fun.

“I wasn’t racing full-time (that season), I was just racing for owner points so I couldn’t take part in (the Dash). But if it had been based on owner’s points and not driver points, then I would have won two of the Dash 4 Cash races, at Richmond and Talladega.”

Gragson, driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, has one win, three top-five and four top-10 finishes in this season’s first six Xfinity races.

“I think it’ll be cool and hopefully we’ll be in them,” Gragson said of the Dash 4 Cash events. “Our cars have been strong lately at JR Motorsports and I’m excited for it.”

Jones, driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Supra, has one win and three top-10 finishes this season.

“I’m excited to get to Bristol,” said Jones, who will start alongside Harrison Burton on the front row tonight. “We’ve had speed to win these races. Can’t be a better way to go to Bristol.

“The Dash for Cash is always fun. I’ve had limited opportunities to be a part of that, so I feel like my chances this year are super strong to get eligible for that. Bristol has always been one of my favorite race tracks. I’ve almost won there a few times in Xfinity and Trucks, as well. I’m looking forward to try to get that checked off my list.”

The Dash 4 Cash races will be:

June 6 – Atlanta Motor Speedway

June 14 – Homestead-Miami Speedway

June 20 – Talladega Superspeedway

The final Dash 4 Cash race will be the next scheduled Xfinity race after Talladega, to be announced when NASCAR reveals the next portion of the revised 2020 schedule.

The winner and the next three highest finishing full-time Xfinity Series drivers at Atlanta will qualify for the next event at Homestead-Miami.

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Virtual racing or real, sponsorships matter, Dale Jr. says

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Bubba Wallace’s sudden departure from Sunday’s Pro Invitational Series race and his sponsor’s reaction provides a reminder that even though virtual racing — “a video game” as Wallace called it in a tweet — doesn’t seem to have consequences, it can.

It’s something Dale Earnhardt Jr. acknowledged on a NBC Sports teleconference with reporters promoting this week’s Racing Week in America and the NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge on NBCSN.

Wallace was upset after an incident with Clint Bowyer early in Sunday’s race at a virtual Bristol Motor Speedway and quit the event, which was broadcast on Fox and FS1.

Viewership totals weren’t available Monday for the virtual Bristol race but the previous week’s race at a virtual Texas Motor Speedway drew 1.3 million viewers, a record for an eSports event on TV).

After the incident with Bowyer in the virtual Bristol race, Wallace said on his Twitch stream: “You all have a good one. That’s it. That’s why I don’t take this (expletive) serious. Peace out.”

Blue-Emu, which sponsored Wallace’s car in the virtual race, expressed its disappointment with Wallace’s decision, tweeting: “(Good to know) where you stand. Bye bye Bubba. We’re interested in drivers, not quitters.”

Ben Blessing, executive vice president of Blue-Emu, told The Action Network: “We aren’t sponsoring Bubba anymore. Can you imagine if he did that in real life on a track?”

Earnhardt was asked on Monday’s call with reporters about the the balance between fun and business with virtual racing in light of Wallace’s situation.

“All of the race teams are trying everything they can to keep their sponsors and keep their employees,” Earnhardt said. “Keeping their sponsors allows them to keep their employees. I think as a racer, I think of someone who is participating, competing in these events online, it’s an opportunity for you to get engagement for the fans. Obviously, they’re going to enjoy the content and the race, but it’s also an opportunity for you to get your sponsors and partners, who are getting nothing right now, on TV, which lends to social engagement, either promoting the race or after the race talking about it. It’s not as good as the real thing, there is not the at-track engagement or activation, but it’s really the only thing we’ve got going.”

Such engagement was noted by car owner Rick Ware in an interview Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Ware anticipated his team would lose $600,000 – $800,000 in sponsorship with no races taking place.

“There are two things that are happening,” Ware told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Some of our sponsorship revolves around just the social media, the amount of TV time, the way sponsors leverage it. Some of it is they are regional or franchise companies, so they bring in a handful of people and use it as an opportunity to do some light hospitality, meet and greets, promote sales, etc.”

Rick Ware Racing, seeking to leverage Garrett Smithley‘s iRacing success, announced last week that GunBroker.com would sponsor Smithley in the next five eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series events, starting with last weekend’s race at a virtual Bristol Motor Speedway, and be offered the primary sponsorship for the July 5 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Earnhardt also is using his virtual car in the Pro Invitational Series for JR Motorsports sponsors until racing returns.

“When I go and get on there, for example for (virtual) Texas we ran the Hellmann’s car and when we run the Sunday race at Richmond, I’m going to run another JRM initiative. It’s basically kind of appease and make those partners feel some value, which in turn helps our employees, helps us keep our employees.

“I told (sister) Kelley (Earnhardt Miller), when we don’t have an initiative that we can do or use at JRM, I’m just going to run that FilterTime car, but if we can, or if there is any opportunity for us to run anything else to help Hellmann’s or any of our other partners, I want to be doing that. I want to do anything I can to help us maintain our employees.

“I think as a driver that’s how you have to approach it. You’re going to be on (iRacing). You’re going to be doing it. Your team wants you to be there. Your partners want you to be there. Enjoy it. Have fun with it. Obviously don’t let it get under your skin if you get wrecked. Video games have a real good way of doing that.

“I’ve seen a lot of friendships get lost either playing Madden or racing online. If you’re going there and doing that, have fun and enjoy it. But also remember that you also have to maintain some professionalism because there are some other things bigger than what’s happening in that room on that sim rig. There are implications beyond what you are doing on sim racing.”

Preliminary entry lists for Auto Club races

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NASCAR Cup and Xfinity teams travel to Auto Club Speedway this weekend for the second race in the three-race West Coast swing.

Cup Series – Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET Sunday on FOX)

Thirty-eight cars are entered.

Ross Chastain is again listed in the No. 6 as Ryan Newman continues to recover from the head injury he suffered in his last-lap crash at the Daytona 500.

The two non-chartered cars are the No. 96 with Daniel Suarez and the No. 66 with Timmy Hill.

Click here for the entry list.

 

Xfinity Series – Production Alliance Group 300 (4 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1)

Thirty-six cars are entered.

Daniel Hemric is back in the No. 8 for JR Motorsports.

Anthony Alfredo makes his first series start, driving the No. 21 for Richard Childress Racing.

Landon Cassill is back in the No. 89 for car owner Morgan Shepherd.

Click here for the entry list.