AP Was There: Earnhardt killed in 2001 Daytona 500 crash
“I guess someone got into Dale because Dale got into me and then we went up,” Schrader said. We’ve lost Dale Earnhardt,” Helton said. The death of Earnhardt left NASCAR reeling in the wake of a 2000 season in which three of its young stars were killed in separate accidents. All three died of the same type of head injuries that apparently killed Earnhardt. “The only reason I won this race is Dale Earnhardt,” Waltrip said.
NASCAR to hold pre-race Daytona 500 concert with Luke Combs
NASCAR will attempt some normalcy at the season-opening Daytona 500 with a live pre-race concert featuring country music star Luke Combs. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)CHARLOTTE, N.C. – NASCAR will attempt some normalcy at the season-opening Daytona 500 with a live pre-race concert — the first big performance at a track during the pandemic — featuring country music star Luke Combs. Born in Charlotte but raised in Asheville, Combs made NASCAR races a weekly viewing staple alongside his grandfather. “If you would’ve told me back then that I’d be performing at the Daytona 500 one day, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Combs, a longtime fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Live music is a way for us to be able to disconnect from everything else, and just be there in the moment,” Combs said.
Alex Bowman shuffled to the No. 48 to replace Jimmie Johnson
The most coveted seat in NASCAR went to Alex Bowman in a Hendrick Motorsports lineup shuffle to replace seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the iconic No. (AP Photo/Terry Renna, File)CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The most coveted seat in NASCAR belongs to Alex Bowman in a Hendrick Motorsports lineup shuffle to replace seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the iconic No. Bowman and crew chief Greg Ives, who won five championships with Johnson as his engineer, will move from the No. “Every season, Alex gets better. “He earned his way into the 88 car through hard work and dedication and doing the stuff nobody else wanted to do," Johnson said.
NASCAR drivers cautious of COVID-19 as playoffs begin
CHARLOTTE, N.C. NASCAR has decided it will not grant COVID-19 relief during the playoffs, meaning a positive coronavirus test will end a driver's championship bid. The playoffs begin Sunday at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina without a safety net for the 16 participants during the pandemic. Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon both missed one race during the season following a positive COVID-19 test and earned zero points. NASCAR made no changes for the 10-race playoff series, so missing a race would would effectively end a driver's championship chances. Johnson was not suffering symptoms but was tested after his wife received a positive test; Dillon was experiencing mild symptoms.
Denny Hamlin downright dominant as NASCAR season pushes on
In fact, team owner Joe Gibbs and crew chief Chris Gabehart didn't even mention the season-ending race at Homestead. He gave me a list of probably six guys in history that won X number of races. That's the number he hit Thursday night at Kansas Speedway, where he led four times for a race-high 57 laps. The win broke a tie with Kevin Harvick for the most this season and gave Hamlin at least five for the second straight year. 11 team and Hamlin, who was coming off his first winless season since his 2005 rookie year.
Pocono twin bill weekend loses luster with no fans at track
After allowing a small number of fans into races in Florida and Alabama, none will be allowed at this weekend's races at Pocono. The absence stings a bit more this season for a track that first held a Cup race in 1974. Pocono is the site of a Cup Series twin bill, with one race on Saturday, one on Sunday, and the second race comes with a twist. Igdalsky, who said he did not have to lay off or furlough any Pocono employees, never considered asking to move the race weekend in hopes of accommodating fans later. It will be a busy weekend: After an ARCA race Friday, the Truck Series and Cup race were set for Saturday and the Xfinity Series was scheduled Sunday ahead of the second Cup race.
Earnhardt Jr. headlines NASCAR's 2021 Hall of Fame class
Longtime fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. is expected to be the marquee name on NASCAR's 2021 Hall of Fame class, to be announced Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)All Dale Earnhardt Jr. needed was a chance to prove he could win in stock cars. Now the longtime fan favorite and two-time Daytona 500 winner will join his famous, late father in NASCAR's Hall of Fame after being selected as one of three members of the 2021 class. Earnhardt Jr. received 76% of the votes in his first appearance on the ballot. Stefanik will be enshrined with Earnhardt in the smallest Hall of Fame class in NASCAR history.
Briscoe finds a way, wins Xfinity race at Homestead
HOMESTEAD, Fla. Chase Briscoe lost much of his team and got a win for them. Its just a testament to our team, Briscoe said. With 15 laps to go, it was basically down to a two-car race: Gragson was leading, about 2 1/2 seconds ahead of Briscoe. Gragson never had control of the race again, and Briscoe wound up in victory lane. That was a team win, for sure, Briscoe said.
Earnhardt returns; Burton wins Xfinity race at Homestead
Burton, Gragson and Austin Cindric were three-wide going into that last lap, and it was Burton the 19-year-old son of former Cup star Jeff Burton, who wound up in front in a wild finish. I love you.Cindric was second and Gragson third, two spots ahead of Earnhardt part of his cars JR Motorsports ownership. It was Earnhardts third Xfinity Series appearance since retiring as a full-time Cup Series driver in 2017. Hed also raced there five times in the Xfinity Series, placing second in 1999 for his best finish. The Xfinity cars are back on the track Sunday before the Cup Series race at Homestead.
Junior to savor Homestead again, but virus upends routine
Hell change into driver gear, hop into his race car about 10 minutes before the flag drops and, without the benefit of any practice, hope for the best. Im experiencing this for the first time, Earnhardt Jr. said on his podcast this week. Once that engine fires up, things should seem normal again for Earnhardt Jr., who will take to the Homestead track Saturday for the first time since his NASCAR Cup Series career ended. Hes in the field for one of the two Xfinity Series races at Homestead this weekend, his third start in an Xfinity car since retiring. But on Saturday, the only fans watching Earnhardt Jr. in the No.
NASCAR vows to do better job addressing racial injustice
The governing body vowed to to do a better job of addressing racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd's death. Our country must do better.A black NASCAR official took a knee along pit road, mimicking a gesture used by protesters in tribute to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The time is now to listen, to understand and to stand against racism and racial injustice, Phelps said. After Phelps spoke to the NASCAR drivers, they observed a 30-second moment of silence. ___Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and find his work at https://apnews.com___More AP NASCAR: https://apnews.com/NASCAR and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
NASCAR looks to steer clear of protests over George Floyd
At the end of the day, theres a lot to talk about. When you sit down and listen, you realize theres a lot of injustices taking place across a broad spectrum. "But it's still an emotional and special moment to go back to tracks for what could be the final time." Johnson acknowledged that taking a stand against racism and police brutality could spark a backlash from some NASCAR fans. Im still trying to find that voice, but Im being pulled this way more than I have other times.
Gragson wiggles past Allgaier to win Xfinity race at Bristol
BRISTOL, Tenn. Noah Gragson squeezed past JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier with four laps remaining, a move that caused Allgaier to crash, and Gragson held on at Bristol Motor Speedway for his second win of the season. His victory Monday night was set up by a caution with 13 laps remaining that wiped away Allgaier's lead. The Chevrolet teammates lined up side-by-side for the restart with seven laps remaining but Allgaier cleared him on the restart. I really apologize to Justin and the (number) 7 team, thats not how I want to race, Gragson said. I was terrible here in trucks and Xfinity, Gragson said.