NASCAR President says COVID-19 protocols working

Leave a comment

NASCAR President Steve Phelps said in an interview with NBC that he feels the sanctioning body’s COVID-19 protocols are working well, citing the limited number of positive tests in the sport.

Jimmie Johnson will not compete in Sunday’s Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after testing positive for COVID-19. His wife found out she had tested positive and Johnson then took a test.

Johnson said Saturday that he does not know how he and his wife contracted the coronavirus. Johnson, 44, has not experienced symptoms of COVID-19. When Johnson returns is uncertain. He must have two negative tests more than 24 hours apart and have a doctor’s release.

NBC’s Mike Tirico asked Phelps before Saturday’s Xfinity race about NASCAR’s protocols.

“I think the protocols have actually worked really, really well for us,” Phelps said.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate that Jimmie is going to be out of the car this weekend. Hopefully two negative tests next week and then get back in the car at Kentucky.

“I think the protocols have worked really well. It’s not perfect, but I think if you look at the procedures that we have in place and the policies that we have in place really to protect the drivers, the crews, our own officials and everyone that is working at the racetrack, the number of positive tests that we have had have been so few and far between. We’re really encouraged. We think the protocols are working as we had expected they would. Hopefully, Jimmie will be back soon and we won’t have any other drivers testing positive.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated Friday that as a precaution, it identified one member of the No. 48 traveling crew to self-quarantine due to close contact with Johnson.

Last month Stewart-Haas Racing confirmed that two employees had tested positive for coronavirus. Team Penske confirmed last month that one of its employees tested positive.


Xfinity Series playoff grid after Pocono

Leave a comment

Things are getting tight in the Xfinity Series playoff standings.

After 12 races, four points separate the last playoff-eligible driver, 12th-ranked Myatt Snider, and Brandon Brown. Snider finished fourth on Sunday at Pocono. Brown was 33rd at Pocono. Snider gained 40 points on Brown in that race.

Next up for the series is Saturday’s race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC).

Race winners this season who are locked into the playoffs are Chase Briscoe (22 playoff points), Noah Gragson (15), Harrison Burton (10), Brandon Jones (7) and Justin Haley (6).




Follow @JerryBonkowski

Drivers praise Bubba Wallace for his leadership role

1 Comment

As many in NASCAR have listened and looked to Bubba Wallace for guidance and understanding, the 26-year-old has gone head-on into an activist’s role while also racing.

The lone black driver in NASCAR’s top series admitted before Wednesday night’s Cup race at Martinsville Speedway he had slept little in a week that saw him finish 21st at Atlanta on Sunday, say Monday that NASCAR should “get rid of all the Confederate flags” at its events, see NASCAR ban Confederate flags at its events on Wednesday afternoon and drive a #BlackLivesMatter car at Martinsville Speedway later that night. In what he called the “biggest race of my career,” Wallace finished 11th.

He will have little rest. Wallace is scheduled to appear on NBC’s “Today” show after 8 a.m. ET Thursday.

Wallace’s close friend, Ryan Blaney, finished second to winner Martin Truex Jr. and praised what Wallace has done in helping lead NASCAR’s movement against social injustice.

“I think it’s great, the initiative he’s showing and wanting to be a part of change, the right change,” Blaney said. “I feel like he’s on his way, man. He’s doing a really good job. I think he was on CNN the other night. He did a great job on that.

“Like I said, I’ve just known him a long time and he’s just Bubba to me. I think of him as a brother. It’s good to talk to him, but I think he’s definitely not getting sleep because he’s so busy. It’s good things, a good cause that he’s striving towards.”

Joey Logano also praised what Wallace has done lately.

“It says in the Bible, ‘Look at yourself before others,’ and I think you need to fix your heart, find your heart, know what’s right,” Logano said. “I’m not speaking as myself, I’m speaking for everybody, that’s just the way we should be.

“It was really cool to see what Bubba was able to do. I didn’t see where he finished, but he should be proud of the movement he’s made for the African American community in our sport. He always has just by being here, but when you look at the comments he made on CNN the other day and then NASCAR completely answered it. Kudos to NASCAR. Kudos to Bubba for bringing it up and using his platform for something good. That’s the most important thing. We can win races.

“I say this all the time, winning a championship is nice, but what is it? It’s an empty trophy, it’s an empty cup. That’s what it is. If you do nothing with it, it’s really pointless at the end of the day, so kudos to him for really stepping up and being a leader and not just a race car driver.”

Wallace was excited after Wednesday night’s race and almost scoring a top-10 finish.

“Our Black Lives Matter Chevrolet, that’s so good to say,” Wallace said to FS1 after the race, “was so good on the long runs. … All in all, great job to come in and execute, no practice, my favorite place and it just continues to show.”

Wallace challenged for his third top-10 finish of the season, falling short to seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who has talked often with Wallace in the last week, helping orchestrate the driver video posted last weekend condemning racial inequality and racism.

“I’ll tell you what, it was badass racing with seven-time there at the end,” Wallace said. “You think Jimmie Johnson wins so many times here (nine Cup wins) and we’re running him down. That’s hats off to my guys.”


Indianapolis to run July NASCAR, IndyCar races without fans

1 Comment

Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Thursday that its NASCAR/IndyCar weekend July 4-5 will be run without fans.

In a letter to fans, Doug Boles, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, wrote:

“After extensive consultation with local and state health officials, we have made the difficult decision to run these events without fans in the stands due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. …

“While the State of Indiana plans to enter Stage 5 of its “Back on Track Indiana” plan on July 4, opening sporting events to fans with social distancing, Marion County – home to IMS – moved to Stage 3 ten days after the rest of the state, and we cannot be confident that it will be ready to move to Stage 5 by the holiday weekend. This approach follows national trends for larger communities, and we must follow those guidelines and the leadership and judgement of our city and state officials during this challenging time.

“Customers with tickets to the impacted events will receive an email from the IMS ticket office with instructions for claiming tickets to our 2021 events, an account credit good for all future events at IMS, or a refund.”

NBC will broadcast the IndyCar and Xfinity races July 4 on the track’s road course and air the Cup race July 5 on the oval.

Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles said in a statement: “We remain committed to welcoming the world’s greatest fans to the Speedway for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in late August.”

The Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Aug. 23 on NBC.

No NASCAR race has been run with fans since the sport resumed its season May 17 at Darlington Raceway. When NASCAR announced its revised schedule for May 30-June 21, it stated that none of those events would be held with fans.



Ryan Newman to appear on NBC’s Today show this morning

Ryan Newman
Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ryan Newman is scheduled to appear Wednesday morning on NBC’s “Today” show for an exclusive interview about his crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500 and his recovery.

“Today” airs at 7 a.m. locally.

MORE: Ryan Newman tells Today show that he wants to return to race “as soon as I possibly can”

Newman was hospitalized for about 42 hours after his crash that sent his car tumbling down the frontstretch at Daytona International Speedway before sliding to a stop upside down. He was extracted from the car 15 minutes, 40 seconds after the car came to rest.

Newman said in a statement last month that the the only injury he suffered was a head injury. Newman has not disclosed any other details about that injury but told reporters last weekend at Phoenix Raceway that he had no timetable for his return to racing.