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Elliott Sadler to end NASCAR career with late model scheme, crew chief

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This is it for Elliott Sadler, seriously.

Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) will be the last time he competes in NASCAR and auto racing in general.

“One hundred percent sure this is the last time I’ll ever put a helmet on,” Sadler told NBC Sports. “It definitely has a different feel to it than what we had at Homestead.”

Last year, Sadler ended his full-time racing career at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a 14th-place finish.

However, the 17-time NASCAR winner knew a potential opportunity awaited for him to climb behind the wheel again on a limited basis with sponsor Nutrien Ag Solutions.

“But this weekend I know this is the last time,” Sadler said.

His racing career will end with his second start in Kaulig Racing’s No. 10 Chevrolet following a start at Richmond Raceway in April (finished 12th). It will mark his 855th NASCAR start across all three national series.

“That’s a lot isn’t it?” Sadler says after a hearty laugh. “That’s too many. Look, I’m very fortunate. That’s a mind-boggling stat. 855 starts from a little, small-town boy in Emporia, Virginia. That’s a lot of time to strap on a helmet to go racing.”

Sadler, 44, will get to honor his Virginia roots in a way he’d hoped to in the Miami race 10 months ago.

Source: Kaulig Racing

His car will be made to look like the yellow and black No. 16 late model stock car he raced in the mid-90s before he made the jump to the NASCAR stage.

Sadler said Kaulig Racing “caught me off guard” when they surprised him with the scheme Monday.

“I begged my sponsors last year at Homestead to let me run that paint scheme. But it wasn’t meant to be. For (sponsor Nutrien Ag Solutions) to give up a paint scheme to let me do it means a lot,” Sadler says. “(It’s) a paint scheme that is very near and dear to my family. All of my dad’s gas stations and transport trucks and everything are painted the exact same way. So it’s a color that means a lot to us. For (team president) Chris (Rice) and (team owner) Matt (Kaulig) and those guys, everybody at Nutrien Ag Solutions to let us go out with that color. That’s pretty special.”

Adding to the nostalgia is who will be calling the shots for Sadler atop his pit box – Chris Rice.

Rice will return to a role he’s familiar with. He served as Sadler’s crew chief during Sadler’s late model days. Their relationship started in 1992 when Rice began working with Sadler’s brother, Hermie.

“Chris and I kind of pretty much started living together in 1994,” Sadler said. “Then in 1995, we got our breakout season, setting all kinds of records in the late model stock-car world in Southern Virginia. We got a special relationship. I think we helped each other a lot in getting our careers to where they are today. I think we have a lot to be thankful for and it’s pretty cool for it to come full circle to where we first started.”

Together, Sadler and Rice earned the South Boston Speedway track championship in 1995.

Rice was the one who revealed the scheme to Sadler.

Together, Sadler hopes they give the scheme a better send-off than it got the last time he drove it on a late model in 1996 at Martinsville Speedway.

“I think we were in a bad wreck in Martinsville,” Sadler said. “We blew a right-front tire.”

As for the race itself on Saturday, Sadler isn’t going to layover for the young guns who have been competing all season.

“I’m not going out there to play tiddlywinks,” said Sadler. “It’s still racing and I still have a very competitive nature and I want to go compete.”

When it’s all over, win or lose, Sadler will retreat to his retired life. No more sponsor plugs for this former driver.

Right?

“I don’t think that’s true,” said Sadler. “I’ve moved on to my next life, which involves a lot of sponsor plugs and corporate sponsor stuff.”

His new retired life includes leading a traveling baseball and softball organization.

“It’s still a lot to do,” said Sadler. “Maybe the last time having to do (a sponsor plug) with a racing uniform on.”

NASCAR disqualifies A.J. Allmendinger for another failure

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – NASCAR disqualified A.J. Allmendinger’s second-place finish in Saturday’s Xfinity race at Watkins Glen International after the No. 10 Chevrolet failed minimum rear height requirements.

Xfinity Series director Wayne Auton said every car passed a prerace height inspection. Six cars were measured postrace, and the No. 10 was the only car that didn’t meet the minimum.

In a postrace tweet, Allmendinger implied that contact with another could have caused the failure (and also caused handling problems in the race). His spotter, Brett Griffin, also said the car sustained damaged.

Auton said there didn’t appear to be damage on Allmendinger’s car that would have caused the failure.

“The first thing we do is we inspect the car fully on the body panels,” Auton said. “We didn’t see any foreseeable damage on the car. We can’t get into the weeds on how much low or anything like that because the appeal process is in place now. They have until Monday at (noon) to appeal.”

Allmendinger has made two Xfinity starts for Kaulig Racing, and both resulted in disqualification. His car also failed inspection after finishing third in the July 5 race at Daytona International Speedway.

Auton said the team likely wouldn’t face a greater punishment for two failures in the past month.

“No, we’ll talk about it but whenever you get DQ’d, that’s a big penalty in itself,” he said. “We consider this race closed now. Once we DQ a car, we don’t go back and look at other penalties. That’s a big penalty right there.”

After being stripped of the finish, Allmendinger will be credited with earning one point and a 37th-place finish.

Pocono Raceway, teams honoring Nick Harrison

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This weekend sees Pocono Raceway and multiple NASCAR teams paying tribute to Nick Harrison, the longtime crew chief who died last weekend at the age of 37.

Harrison served as the crew chief for Justin Haley‘s No. 11 car at Kaulig Racing through the first 18 Xfinity Series races of the year.

Pocono has a memorial to Harrison located just outside the track and has placed his initials on the start-finish line.

Sunday’s Cup race at Pocono (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN) will see a tribute to Harrison on Lap 11.

Multiple teams will have decals on their cars in Harrison’s memory. Richard Childress Racing’s cars will have his name on the nameplate above the driver-side doors.

A tribute to Harrison will also be located on Haley’s rear bumper for the Xfinity race at Iowa Speedway.

 

 

Kaulig Racing mourns death of crew chief Nick Harrison

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Kaulig Racing President Chris Rice said that when he heard of crew chief Nick Harrison’s death on Sunday morning, he thought back to a conversation they had after Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Justin Haley finished 13th in that race.

“All I could think about with Nick is when he got up on the plane and he came over and talked to me as we were leaving New Hampshire,” Rice said Monday night on “Late Shift” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“He was stressed out that we didn’t run that well. He looked at me and he goes, ‘You know, we sucked there.’ I said, ‘Nick, we have sucked at New Hampshire for a long time. So the good thing is, we’ve changed drivers, we’ve changed crew chiefs, ain’t nothing fixed it, so it’s obviously something, whatever we’re doing.’

“He said, ‘You’re right. We’re going to go get them at Iowa.’ He was worried about the next race.”

Harrison died Sunday. He was 37. Harrison’s brother, Zach, told the Tennessean that a cause of death has not been determined.

“We know that he lived every single day to the fullest,” Rice said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about Nick Harrison. “That’s what we want to do at Kaulig Racing. Tomorrow when we show up, it is going to be better than what it was today. The next day we show up is going to be better than what it was Monday.”

Rice also said it will be a challenge for the team when they get to the track this weekend at Iowa Speedway.

“We just know that walking into the race track this weekend is going to be tough,” Rice said, “so we need every fan’s support that we can get for all my guys and myself and we’ll definitely make it through it.”

Rice said on “Late Shift” that he will serve as Haley’s crew chief for the foreseeable future.

“You cannot replace Nick,” said Rice, who has served as an Xfinity Series crew chief for 318 races. “We will never replace Nick. We will just have somebody fill his job. But right now we’re not in a hurry to do anything.

“We will definitely be looking and looking at what our next step is. Justin has another year and a half, if not even more, with Kaulig Racing and we will put somebody with him that is going to be there through that time. We don’t want to put somebody that is going to be with us for 10 days or three months or whatever. We will want to look at somebody that is going to help us grow Kaulig Racing.”

Harrison’s service is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET July 30 at Spring Hill High School in Columbia, Tennessee. The family has requested that memorial donations be made to the Nick Harrison Scholarship Fund at First Farmers & Merchants Bank in Spring Hill, Tennessee or Spring Hill Memorial Funeral Home.

“We know it’s going to take time for us to get over the loss of our friend not being here,” Rice said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We will always miss him, but we will never forget him and he’ll always be with us. We’re going to dig like he would want us to dig.

“Once Justin makes the playoffs, it’s going to be in memory of Nick. Once Justin makes it to the final four and goes for that championship, that’s what it’s going to be for.”

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Longtime crew chief Nick Harrison dies at 37, team announces

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LOUDON, N.H. — Kaulig Racing announced Sunday morning that veteran crew chief Nick Harrison died. He was 37.

Harrison was the crew chief for Justin Haley‘s No. 11 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series and had called the car’s 13th-place finish Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

In a statement attributed to team owner Matt Kaulig and president Chris Rice, the team said in a tweet that “It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Nick Harrison, our beloved crew chief of the No. 11 car at Kaulig Racing. Please keep Nick’s family in your thoughts and prayers at this time.”

No cause of death or information on services was immediately available. A Kaulig Racing spokesperson said “further details would be provided as they come.”

NASCAR released a statement on Harrison’s death: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of longtime crew chief Nick Harrison, and offer our thoughts, prayers and support to his family, friends and Kaulig Racing colleagues.”

According to Racing-Reference.info, Harrison made his debut as an Xfinity crew chief in 2006. He was a crew chief for 184 Xfinity races (including 17 with Haley this year) and had five victories, his first with Kurt Busch in 2012 at Daytona International Speedway with James Finch’s Phoenix Racing.

He also worked 120 races as a crew chief in the Cup Series, including full seasons in 2011-12 with Phoenix Racing’s No. 51 Chevrolet. He guided Busch to a third place June 24, 2012 at Sonoma Raceway, marking Harrison’s best finish as a Cup crew chief.

Harrison also won three times in the Xfinity Series with Austin Dillon and once with Paul Menard. He also won with Dillon in the Aug. 2, 2014 truck race at Pocono Raceway, one of three truck races for Harrison as a crew chief.

During a career with several teams including Phoenix, Richard Childress Racing and Kaulig, Harrison worked with more than a dozen Cup and Xfinity drivers. The roster included Bobby Labonte, Bill Elliott, Boris Said, A.J. Allmendinger, Micahel McDowell, Regan Smith, Ryan Truex, Landon Cassill, Jamie McMurray, Ty Dillon, Jeremy Clements, Brandon Jones, Ben Kennedy and Brendan Gaughan.