President Donald Trump

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

President Trump tweets about Bubba Wallace

President Donald Trump tweeted Monday morning about Bubba Wallace, asking if the only Black driver racing full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series had apologized for what the President called “another hoax.”

Although not specifically referencing what the FBI described as a noose found in Wallace’s garage at Talladega Superspeedway, Trump references how drivers and NASCAR officials stood behind Wallace during pre-race ceremonies before the June 21 race.

Trump, who gave the command to begin the Daytona 500 in February and his motorcade led the field on to the track, tweeted: “Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!”

The FBI determined that no hate crime was committed against Wallace because evidence showed that the garage tie-down rope was fashioned as a noose in October 2019 and no one could have known that Wallace’s team would occupy that stall eight months later. The rope in Wallace’s stall was the only one fashioned as noose.

The noose was discovered by a crew member of Wallace’s team. Because of NASCAR’s COVID-19 protocols, drivers are not allowed in the garage area.

Wallace was informed of the noose by NASCAR President Steve Phelps. NASCAR’s investigation did not determine who fashioned the rope in that manner or why.

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson told drivers in a group chat that he planned to stand with Wallace during the national anthem before the Talladega race to show his support for Wallace. Former champion Kevin Harvick suggested that drivers push Wallace’s car from his spot in the starting grid to the front of the field.

Drivers did that and stood with Wallace for the invocation and national anthem. Many hugged him before the race. Richard Petty, who had not attended a race since NASCAR resumed during the COVID-19 pandemic, stood with Wallace. After the drivers pushed Wallace’s car to the front of the grid, Wallace climbed from the car and was overcome by emotion. Petty comforted Wallace by putting his arm around the driver.

NASCAR issued the following statement Monday afternoon:

We are proud to have Bubba Wallace in the NASCAR family and we commend his courage and leadership. NASCAR continues to stand tall with Bubba, our competitors and everyone who makes our sport welcoming and inclusive for all racing fans.

President Trump seeks to make sports central part of economic revival

Leave a comment

President Donald Trump spoke with sports leaders Wednesday, expressing his desire to make sports a central part America’s economic revival, according to a press pool report.

The report sates that Lesa France Kennedy, executive vice chair, represented NASCAR on the call. Others on the call included NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred.

According to the press pool report: “The President expressed optimism to the major sports organizations that are eager to get their athletes back on courts, courses, and fields of play, and for the millions of sports fans who are missing their favorite teams and players. Leaders of the sports organizations expressed appreciation for the President’s attention to their industry and offered innovative input on social distancing guidelines.

“President Trump acknowledged the important role that sports play in American life and expressed his desire to make sports a central part of the great American economic revival.”

MORE: Dr. Anthony Fauci on how sports can return: Regular testing, no fans

MORE: N.C. Gov: “Our new normal” may have no in-person crowds for awhile

President Trump held a call with sports league executives April 4. That call included NASCAR President Steve Phelps. President Trump later said in a press briefing that day:

I want fans back in the arenas. Whenever we’re ready and as soon as we can, obviously. The fans want to be back, too. They want to see basketball and baseball and football and hockey. They want to see their sports. They want to go out on the golf courses and breath nice clean beautiful air.

“I can’t tell you a date, but I think it’s going to be sooner rather than later. We’re not going to have to have separation for the rest of our times on the planet. We need it for this period of time. Eventually, people are going to be able to occupy those seats in arenas next to each other like we have for all of my life and all of your life.”

NASCAR has postponed seven races through May 3 at Dover International Speedway. NASCAR’s next scheduled race is May 9 at Martinsville Speedway, but Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order from March 30 to June 10. The next scheduled events after that would be All-Star weekend (May 14-16) and Coca-Cola 600 weekend (May 22-24) at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.

According to the press pool report, these were the individuals on Wednesday’s call with President Trump:

* Todd Ricketts—Chicago Cubs
* Jerry Jones—Dallas Cowboys
* Mark Cuban—Dallas Mavericks
* Ari Emanuel— Endeavor
* Robert Kraft—The Kraft Group
* Mike Whan—LPGA
* Robert Manfred— MLB
* Don Garber—MLS
* Adam Silver—NBA
* Lesa Kennedy—NASCAR
* Mark Emmert—NCAA
* Roger Goodell—NFL
* Gary Bettman—NHL
* Lisa Baird—NWSL
* Jay Monahan—PGA TOUR
* Dana White—UFC
* Sarah Hirshland—U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee
* Patrick Galbraith—USTA
* Cathy Engelbert—WNBA
* Vince McMahon—WWE

NASCAR, sports executives join President Donald Trump on call

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

President Donald Trump held a conference call with sports league executives Saturday afternoon that included NASCAR President Steve Phelps and IndyCar’s Roger Penske.

They were joined on the call by the commissioners of the NFL, NBA and NHL, among others. All sports have been sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a news briefing Saturday, President Trump, who gave the command to start this year’s Daytona 500, was asked about the call and hopes of having fans back in arenas later this summer.

“I want fans back in the arenas,” President Trump said. “Whenever we’re ready and as soon as we can, obviously. The fans want to be back, too. They want to see basketball and baseball and football and hockey. They want to see their sports. They want to go out on the golf courses and breath nice clean beautiful air.

“I can’t tell you a date, but I think it’s going to be sooner rather than later. We’re not going to have to have separation for the rest of our times on the planet. We need it for this period of time. Eventually, people are going to be able to occupy those seats in arenas next to each other like we have for all of my life and all of your life.”

President Trump was asked about his contingency plans after not committing to packing arenas and stadiums by August. President Trump replied: “I’m not committing to it. I’m not committing to it. We’re going to see where we are. That would be great if we could. We’re going to be back to good health soon, in my opinion.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom was asked about the possibility of sports hosting events and fans by August or September.

“Look, I’m not here to second guess anybody, but I am here to say this, our decision on that basis, at least here in the state of  California, will be determined by the facts, will be determined  by the health experts, will be determined by our capacity to meet this moment, bend the curve and have the appropriate community surveillance and testing to confidently determine whether or not that’s appropriate and right now I’m just focused on the immediate, but that’s not something I anticipate happening in the next few months.”

 

 

Sunday’s Daytona 500: Start time, lineup and more

Leave a comment

It’s finally here. The preliminary events are over. It’s time for the Daytona 500 today.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will lead the field to the green flag and be joined on the front row by Alex Bowman. Jimmie Johnson will make his final Daytona 500 start today. Denny Hamlin seeks to be the first driver to win this race in back-to-back years since Sterling Marlin won this race in 1994-95.

Here is all the info for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: President Donald Trump will give the command to start engines 3:06 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:18 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage opens at 9 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:15 p.m. The invocation will be given by Ronnie Barton, former pastor of First Baptist Church of South Daytona at 2:53 p.m. The USAF Band with Sgt. Nalani Quintello will perform the National Anthem at 2:54 p.m. followed by the United States Air Force Thunderbirds fly by.

DISTANCE: The race is 200 laps (500 miles) around the 2.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 65. Stage 2 ends on Lap 130.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race with coverage beginning at 1 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s broadcast begins at 1:30 p.m. and also can be heard on mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: Wunderground.com forecast calls for a high of 74 degrees with a 15% chance of rain at the start of the race. 

LAST TIME: Denny Hamlin finished ahead of Kyle Busch and Erik Jones in a 1-2-3 finish for Joe Gibbs Racing in last year’s Daytona 500. Justin Haley won the rain-shortened July Daytona race, finishing ahead of William Byron and Jimmie Johnson. 

TO THE REAR: Ryan Blaney (backup car) Corey LaJoie (backup car), Denny Hamlin (inspection failures), Brennan Poole (engine change and inspection failures), Ty Dillon (gear change), BJ McLeod (transmission change) and Christopher Bell (unapproved adjustments).

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for starting lineup

President Donald Trump awards Medal of Freedom to Roger Penske

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
2 Comments

President Donald Trump awarded car owner Roger Penske the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, Thursday in a ceremony at the White House.

“A legend in so many ways,” President Trump said of Penske.

The Medal of Freedom was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and is awarded to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

“Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom is really something special,” Penske said during the White House ceremony, “and to me it means more than any business success or motorsports trophy.”

Others who have been awarded the Medal of Freedom since 2018 by President Trump include Tiger Woods, Elvis Presley, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, former NFL great Roger Staubach and former NBA greats Bob Cousy and Jerry West.

Team Penske has recorded 545 major race wins, 621 pole positions and 36 championships. His teams have won the Indianapolis 500 a record 18 times. He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January. His IndyCar team won the championship this year with Josef Newgarden. Team Penske has two drivers, reigning series champion Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney, in the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Cup playoffs.

Penske is the founder and chairman of Penske Corp., which manages businesses with consolidated revenues of more than $32 billion and employs more than 64,000 people worldwide.