Southern 500

Joe Gibbs Racing

Martin Truex Jr. throwing back to 2004 Xfinity title for Southern 500

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While Martin Truex Jr. won the Cup Series title for the first time in 2017, he’s been a NASCAR champion for far longer.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver got his big break in 2004 when he competed for Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s Chance 2 Motorsports in the Xfinity Series (then the Busch Series).

Truex proceeded to drive the team’s No. 8 Chevrolet to 12 wins and consecutive Xfinity titles (2004 and 2005).

Truex surprised Earnhardt on this week’s episode of the Dale Jr. Download by revealing that he’ll drive his 2004 Bass Pro Shops Xfinity scheme in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (Sept. 1 on NBCSN).

Martin Truex Jr. competes in the Xfinity Series race at Homestead Miami Speedway on Nov. 20, 2004. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The use of the paint scheme at Darlington is made even more appropriate by the fact that’s where Truex clinched his 2004 title in the next to last race of the year.

“So many things had to happen for me to get where I am right now,” Truex said on the podcast. “This car was the first real sponsored car I had.”

Bass Pro Shops has been a supporter of Truex in some form every year since 2004.

“Without (CEO) Johnny Morris, another person I owe so much to, he’s just an amazing guy,” Truex said. “Loves racing, obviously. Loves, loves, loves NASCAR. Supports a lot of people. (Richard Childress Racing) he still does stuff with them. Just lucky to meet people like that along the way. And I never would have met him if it wasn’t for Chance 2 and Dale. You had that relationship with him. It’s crazy, man.”

Richard Childress Racing announces throwback schemes for Southern 500

Richard Childress Racing
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And we’re off!

Richard Childress Racing is first team to reveal its throwback paint schemes for the Sept. 1 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

While the theme of NASCAR’s fifth throwback weekend this year is focused around 1990-94, RCR will be going farther back than that.

Austin Dillon‘s No. 3 Chevrolet will be based on a No. 3 car that Childress raced himself in the late 1970s.

 

Daniel Hemric‘s No. 8 Chevrolet goes back about 70 years for its inspiration.

Instead of a tribute to an old race car, RCR will recognize the history of sponsor Caterpillar with its scheme. Hemric’s car, with battleship gray and orange colors, is inspired by the design of CAT equipment and the logo used on them from its launch in 1925 until 1931.

Hemric will make his first Cup start at Darlington after making two starts there in the Xfinity Series. His best result was 11th last year.

Darlington Raceway to celebrate 1990-94 during Southern 500 weekend

(Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)
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The 70th running of the Southern 500 in 2019 will mark the fifth “Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR” at Darlington Raceway and will celebrate the sport’s history from 1990-94.

The weekend will be held Aug. 30-Sept. 1 with Darlington hosting the Southern 500 and the Xfinity Series’ Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200.

Darlington will honor moments and icons of the 1990-94 era of, including the conclusion of 2010 NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty’s career and the beginning of 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Jeff Gordon’s career.

The track will also pay tribute to David Pearson, the 105-time Cup winner who died in November at 83. 

A native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, Pearson holds the record for most Cup wins at Darlington with 10.

The track will have a commemorative ticket design honoring Pearson.

“Even though we are highlighting the 1990-94 era, we felt it was important to pay tribute to David Pearson on our tickets because he truly was an icon in South Carolina who left a tremendous impact on Darlington and on NASCAR,” said Darlington president Kerry Tharp in a press release.

Darlington has started the ticket renewal process with fans receiving an e-mail communication to renew their tickets and campsites early.

Renewal benefits include:

  • The track’s best value of the season for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 and Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200
  • Convenient four-part payment plan
  • One free admission to the Darlington Raceway Museum ($7.50 value)
  • One free Lionel RCCA (Racing Collectables Club of America) Membership ($19.95 value)
  • Complete set of 2018 commemorative “7 Decades of NASCAR” tickets
  • All renewal accounts are entered into a random drawing for a chance to attend the fifth annual Bojangles’ Legends Breakfast on Sunday, September 1, 2019
  • Special renewal pricing for Darlington Stripe Zone Hospitality ($30 savings)
  • Special renewal pricing for all-inclusive driver intros, pre-race concert and pre-race pit road access ($15 savings)
  • Special renewal pricing for an exclusive VIP “Untamed Access” Bojangles’ Southern 500® race day experience
  • Fans can create custom “Weekend Ticket Packages” (Practice, NXS & MENCS) that can save up to $60 per person
  • Guests may renew their tickets and campsites by calling 866-459-RACE (7223) or visiting www.DarlingtonRaceway.com/renewals. The renewal deadline is Friday, February 8, 2019

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Long: Kasey Kahne’s exit robs NASCAR fans of one last cheer for their driver

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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The end was coming. Kasey Kahne foretold that when he said in August this would be his last full-time season in NASCAR.

But Tuesday’s announcement that Kahne has not been medically cleared to run the rest of the Cup season ends a career that began with such allure and promise that some of his memorabilia had to be flown in from overseas to satisfy demand.

A career that should be celebrated ends muted and abbreviated. His time in NASCAR will be recalled as not working out the way it was supposed to — from the courtroom drama over where he would race in Cup as a rookie to near-misses on the track, changing rides, being lent to a team and his departure from the series.

It has been quite a journey.

Even before he competed in his first Cup race, two manufacturers signed him. A federal court settled the matter.  He could drive for Ray Evernham’s Dodge team

When Kahne finished second in two of his first three Cup races in 2004 (he lost at Rockingham to Matt Kenseth by one-hundredth of a second), his popularity soared. Crowds left little in his souvenir hauler. One company flew his die-cast cars from China — instead of shipping them by boat.

With penetrating blue eyes, he became one of NASCAR’s heartthrobs. Kahne was selected to People magazine’s “America’s Top 50 Bachelors” at the height of NASCAR’s popularity in the mid-2000s and had women fawn over him in those Allstate commercials.

His support grew as he came close to winning but didn’t his rookie season. Newer fans might call that a Kyle Larson-type season, noting how close Larson came to winning as a rookie without doing so.

Kahne scored his first Cup win in May 2005 at Richmond. He held off Tony Stewart in the closing laps, a point Stewart noted when he congratulated Kahne.

“I just told Kasey that down the road when they talk about his first win that I got the honor of being the guy they mentioned that he had to race for the win,” Stewart said that night.

The victories came more often. Kahne won a season-high six races in 2006, including the Coca-Cola 600 for the first of three times.

He was so popular that he replaced Dale Earnhardt Jr. as Budweiser’s driver after Earnhardt moved from Dale Earnhardt Inc. to Hendrick Motorsports in 2008. While Kahne did not have the party reputation Earnhardt had, Kahne’s youth and good looks matched the image Budweiser sought to promote.

Kahne’s win at Sonoma in 2009 for Richard Petty Motorsports marked Petty’s first time in Victory Lane as an owner in a decade.

Kahne had so much promise that car owner Rick Hendrick signed him in 2010 even though Hendrick did not have a ride available until the 2012 season. Kahne spent that in-between year with Red Bull Racing and won a race.

In his first season at Hendrick, Kahne finished a career-high fourth in the standings. It would be the high point of his six years there. Kahne won six races for the organization, including last year’s Brickyard 400 that ended a 102-race winless streak.

“I’m going to treasure this forever,’’ Kahne told NBC Sports after the win.

But that race foreshadowed the problems that plagued Kahne this season. Kahne battled severe cramping and went to the infield care center for IV fluids before he completed his duties as winner that day.

Those issues worsened this year. Darlington proved almost too much. Kahne said “it was really hard to keep my eyes open and see” during the last 100 laps of the Southern 500 as he battled extreme dehydration. 

“I was trying to control my heart rate because it was so high,” he said. “I basically just kind of laid in the car and drove around the corners. At that point all I’m doing is focusing on my body and my health, not on what I should be actually focusing on, and that’s racing.”

He tested last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway and in less than two hours of track time could not ease doctor concerns he’d be well enough to run any Cup race this year.

So, any farewell fans wished to have these final weeks of the season will have to take place on social media or a dirt track where Kahne will race his sprint car.

That might be the best place to appreciate Kahne — back in the type of racing that led him to NASCAR, his car sliding through the corners with a rooster tail of dirt trailing.

Kasey Kahne details conditions that will keep him out of car at Indy

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SPEEDWAY, Ind. – As last weekend’s Southern 500 progressed on a hot evening, Kasey Kahne quit taking fluids in his car.

He couldn’t drink any more because he was nauseous. With about 100 laps left in the 367-lap race, Kahne said “it was really hard to keep my eyes open and see. I was trying to control my heart rate because it was so high.

“At that point, all I’m doing is focusing on my body and my health and not what I should actually be focusing on and that’s racing.”

After finishing 24th, Kahne vomited on the way to the infield care center. He threw up after he arrived there. Kahne received IVs in both arms.

Even an hour after the Southern 500, Kahne said “the doctor still can’t get my pulse because it’s pumping so fast. I just can’t control it. I need to figure out how to control it.”

Darlington was the worst it has been for Kahne but he said Friday that the issue has gotten progressively worse the past two years and he doesn’t know why. He said Kentucky this year was “rough,” Indy last year “was rough”, Bristol this year was “pretty rough” on him. He said there were other races as well.

“I just can’t control the temperature in my body and my heart rate. Once it gets to that point, there’s nothing I can do until I get out of the car. We’re still trying to figure that out. That’s why I’m not racing this weekend, I don’t want to create any more damage to myself or my body.”

Regan Smith will drive in place of Kahne this weekend at Indianapolis for Leavine Family Racing.

While Kahne said doctors are hoping to have some answers early this, he has looked ahead to next weekend’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and seen the forecast for temperatures near 100 degrees all weekend.

“It definitely worries me,” Kahne said on a conference call with reporters Friday morning. “But if we can come up with a solution to stay hydrated throughout the race prior to them and we feel really comfortable with it, then I’ll be in Las Vegas.”

Kahne admits this issue this was “definitely” part of his decision to decide not to run full-time in NASCAR beyond this season.

The problem is Kahne can’t replace the fluids lost sweating in the car. Practices aren’t as bad because he isn’t in the car as long as races. He said he knew Darlington would be hot and was “very hydrated” four days going into the race.

“At this point I have to just figure out how to finish these races, how to be able to go that long in a hot car in the environment that we’re in, between the air temp and the dew point degrees, just to control it all,” Kahne said.

“I work out three, four days a week. I run, I bike, I lift, I do interval work, whatever it may be. I feel great doing all that stuff. I’m in really good shape. That’s not the issue at all. Thirty minutes to an hour workouts and I’m fine. Just like in the Cup race I’m fine for the first hour, two hours probably. Then it starting going downhill from there.

“We just did blood work. The doctor had a few different tests that we did this week. So we’re just going through that stuff, trying to find a way to, you know, be able to put together a whole race and not hurt my body internally by the end of each race when they’re this hot right now.”