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Bubba Wallace, Columbia Sportswear sign multi-year deal

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Four days after Bubba Wallace teased a potential deal, Columbia Sportswear and Richard Petty Motorsports announced a multi-year deal with the driver.

Wallace will be the newest brand ambassador for the outdoor clothing company, which will also serve as a sponsor on Wallace’s No. 43 Chevrolet in the Aug. 23 Cup race at Dover International Speedway.

“Columbia Sportswear is a perfect fit for my lifestyle away from the track,” Wallace said in a press release. “I love spending time outdoors – boating, golfing, hiking, photography – just anything to help me decompress from a hectic racing schedule. I’m beyond excited to be a part of the Columbia family and can’t wait to work with them on some unique content and fly their colors next weekend at Dover.”

Columbia will use Wallace and its team sponsorship to promote its product lines and proprietary technologies, including its PFG (Performance Fishing Gear) collection.

“There has always been a strong correlation between NASCAR and Columbia, especially with PFG,” Joe Boyle, Columbia Brand President, said in a press release. “We are excited by the opportunity to work with Bubba and Richard Petty Motorsports to engage our shared fans.”

Added Boyle, “In addition to his racing talent, Bubba is a charismatic and courageous leader. It is his internal fortitude that most aligns with the Columbia brand and our Tested Tough ethos. Bubba is a Tested Tough trailblazer and we are thrilled to be working with him.”

This is the second big sponsorship deal for Wallace in the last month. On July 14, RPM revealed a multi-year sponsorship deal with Cash App. The deal included primary sponsorship in five races this season. Three races remain at Darlington Raceway, Bristol Motor Speedway, and Kansas Speedway.

Wallace’s contract with RPM expires this season. Wallace told NBCSN’s Marty Snider last weekend that he has offers from RPM and Chip Ganassi Racing.

Entering Sunday’s race on the Daytona International Speedway road course (3 p.m. ET on NBC), Wallace has a career-best four top-10 finishes this season, including a ninth-place finish Saturday in Michigan.

Bubba Wallace says he has offers from RPM, Ganassi

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Bubba Wallace confirmed to NBCSN’s Marty Snider on Sunday that he is mulling offers from Richard Petty Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing for next season.

Snider reported that Wallace and RPM co-owner Andrew Murstein both confirmed that Wallace already has ownership in the team as first reported by Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports. Snider reported that Wallace, whose contract expires after this season, said that it is “not locked and loaded” that he’ll stay with Richard Petty Motorsports after this season.

The offer from Chip Ganassi Racing would be to drive the No. 42 car next season.

Former champion Matt Kenseth drives the No. 42 for Chip Ganassi Racing, having joined the team in April after Kyle Larson was fired.

Kenseth told NBC Sports this weekend that “we really haven’t had any very meaningful discussions really about any of that to be honest with you. I think that when things are going as bad as they’re going I don’t think either side is probably super anxious about talking about what’s happening six or eight months for now.

“I think we’re more worried about trying to get this ship righted as soon as possible and start getting some finishes and start running up front. … We really believe that the cars and the team and everything, if we have a really good day, is capable of winning. I think that’s probably what is at the forefront of our mind right now, trying to get running good first of all then hopefully executing and possibly get in a position where we could sneak one out.”

Entering Sunday’s Cup race at Michigan, Kenseth had two top-10 finishes in 17 starts with the team. He finished 17th in Saturday’s race at Michigan. His best finish since returning to Cup this season was second at Indianapolis in July.

Chip Ganassi Racing changed crew chiefs on the No. 42 team on Aug. 4. Engineer Phil Surgen replaced Chad Johnston, who is no longer with the team.

Bubba Wallace places 9th, hints at ‘big deal on the line’

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Bubba Wallace scored his first top-10 finish in a month Saturday and teased a potential deal.

NBCSN’s Marty Snider reported Sunday that Wallace confirmed he has an offer from Richard Petty Motorsports for next season and also has an offer from Chip Ganassi Racing for the No. 42 car.

Wallace finished ninth after starting 24th Saturday at Michigan International Speedway. Kevin Harvick won the race.

“Everybody say a prayer for us,” Wallace told NBCSN’s Marty Snider after the race. “There’s a big deal on the line right now and this can only help so much. I’ve yet to check my phone to see the status of it. This will send us over the top if we can get it done. Been a lot of hard work off the racetrack from my team, everybody involved to make things better and that’s what we’re trying to do. So putting solid runs tighter and having awesome restart all night this is only going to help the effort.”

Wallace acknowledged that silly season also has weighed on him. His contract expires after this season. RPM owner Andrew Murstein has offered ownership in the team as part of a contract extension. There also is believed to be interest from other teams in Wallace.

“We’re in the middle of silly season right now,” he said. “My mind is there, it’s here.”

Wallace was pleased with the finish Saturday – his fourth top-10 of the year and the most he’s had in any Cup season – but seeks more performance Sunday.

“I know this whole COVID-19 deal has been tough,” he said. “I haven’t been able to go to the shop and show my appreciation (to the team) and how much they really work and make our cars better week in and week out. It’s been fun. …  To come out with a solid top-10 finish for us is positive. We’ve got a lot of work to do.

“I was not happy with the car, but I think that’s the racer mentality. I’m not sure if Harvick is happy about his car either. We always strive to be better. All in all a solid day.”

Race and Sports in America: Conversations to air at 8 p.m. ET Monday

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Damon Hack will host two roundtables with athletes and former athletes for a conversation on race and sports in America. The show airs at 8 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic Channel and the NBC Sports Regional Networks.

Appearing with Hack will be Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, NBA superstar Steph Curry, NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, NFL player Kyle Rudolph, pro golfer Troy Mullins, former tennis player James Blake, Major League Baseball player James Rollins and Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

Among the topics discussed are: The conversations they’ve had with family in the last few months, what they hope things will be like in a year’s time, the level of optimism vs. pessimism and their experiences.

 

 

Dale Jr. on Hall of Fame: ‘No greater pat on the back or tip of the cap than this’

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Many people would likely rather run as far away from the dentist as they can.

But on the day he could be named one of three inductees to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Dale Earnhardt Jr. went to the dentist for a root canal.

“I’ve been more nervous about that and the anxiety about the root canal was all counter to this whole Hall of Fame induction,” Earnhardt said after his selection to the Class of 2021 with Mike Stefanik and Red Farmer. “At 5 o’clock, when the (announcement) show started, that’s when it all started. I didn’t think I was going to be this emotional. But it’s a great feeling and it was very emotional to be chosen.”

It wasn’t just the dentist visit that has kept his mind off Tuesday’s announcement.

“I’m sorry but I hadn’t put any thought into (Tuesday’s announcement),” he said. “My mind’s been dominated by what’s going on in our world and what’s happening around us and how to keep the movement and the conversation going and what can I do, things like that. I’ve been putting a lot of thought into that.

“Since we’re coming out of the pandemic and everything going on with that, there’s a lot of news that’s fluid every single day and trying to understand where we are with that and what I need to be understanding about that … there’s so much happening and I haven’t been able to put a lot of thought into this Hall of Fame induction.

“… I didn’t have any time whatsoever to be nervous or worried about being picked or any of that until 5 o’clock when the show started. It really started to hit me then, that this is such a weird, important moment in my life. I didn’t know it was going to be this emotional.”

Earnhardt choked up several times, both on NASCAR America’s telecast of the Hall announcement on NBCSN, as well as on the media teleconference afterward. For a man who has spent much of his career comfortably displaying a wide range of emotions, Earnhardt admitted this was a whole different feeling.

“I was really surprised and taken aback by the feeling that came over me,” he said.

While many fans and even voters felt Earnhardt’s selection for the Hall would be a slam dunk – after all, he did earn 76 percent of the vote – the son of seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt felt otherwise.

“I was good with just being on the sheet (of 10 nominees), I was going to be happy with that,” Earnhardt said. “I’m 45 and relatively young in the grand scheme of Hall of Fame things and I was going to be patient waiting.”

But it was difficult for voters, be they members of the media or those in the NASCAR industry, to overlook Earnhardt.

He was NASCAR’s most popular driver unabated for a decade and a half. He was a two-time Xfinity Series champion. He was a two-time Daytona 500 champion.

And perhaps more than all the wins or what he achieved during nearly a quarter-century in the sport, starting on its lowest rungs and working his way to superstardom, was the fact Junior also was picked for the Hall because of who he became, whether he wanted to or not, after his father died in a crash at Daytona in 2001: The sport’s biggest ambassador.

“There’s no greater pat on the back or tip of the cap than this, from the industry, from the people who vote … whether they’re drivers, journalists, industry execs or what,” Earnhardt said. “It’s such a great feeling that somebody felt I made an impact on the sport.”

Now that he’s a father himself (with a second child now on the way), and has become a popular broadcaster, Tuesday’s announcement was somewhat cathartic for the former driver of the No. 8 and 88.

“There was a point in my career I started to think, ‘Ok, I’m not going to win seven championships, maybe not even one championship, or not win 100 races, maybe not even 40 races,’ ” he said.

“ … People wanted me to be like (my father). When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to win those races and championships, I started to think what I could do outside of that, what else I could control to help the sport and be a good ambassador for the sport.

“I wasn’t always perfect but started focusing in those areas, being accessible and being accountable. I feel I did a decent job at that. I don’t want to sit here and measure that, but I’m pretty happy about that part of my career and the impact I had on the sport.”

Earnhardt admitted early in his career, he did some things that potentially ruffled some feathers of the sport’s hierarchy, like his celebrated interview with Rolling Stone or being on TV shows like “Cribs” on MTV.

“I always thought it was important I gained a ton of fans because of who I was, right out of the gate,” he said. “But I knew when dad died, I was going to assume all or most of his fan base, and I feel like I took care of that. I didn’t squander it, and I grew that base and introduced people who hadn’t heard of Dale Earnhardt.

“I always felt like the sport needed to be healthy long after my driving career was over. It’s important for me that our sport survives and stays strong long after my life is over.”

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