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Darlington Cup Penalties May Have Big Effect On Chicago

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 10 2016
Ryan Newman suffered a blow to his Chase hopes thanks to penalties from Darlington. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Christa L Thomas)

Penalties issued after the Darlington race may prove costly for Ryan Newman in his Chase quest. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Christa L Thomas)

RICHMOND, Va.Several teams received penalties following the Darlington NASCAR Sprint Cup race and Carl Edwards said Friday he believed penalties could impact the Chase, which begins next weekend at Chicago.

bugnotes“I haven’t talked to many people about it in depth, but seeing the 31 car’s [Ryan Newman] penalty and realizing … that could affect literally your entire season. I think that got my attention,” Edwards said at Richmond International Raceway.

Newman’s Chevrolet failed the post-race laser inspection. He was docked 15 points. His crew chief, Luke Lambert, was fined $25,000. That made Newman’s task of making the Chase a little tougher heading into Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 since he still was winless on the season.

Kyle Larson received the same punishment as Newman after his Chevrolet also failed post-race lase inspection. However, he pocketed a victory at Michigan last month, guaranteeing him a position in the Chase. His crew chief, Chad Johnston, was fined $22,500.

Edwards and Brad Keselowski each lost 15 minutes of practice time at Richmond due to failing laser inspection three times during pre-race at Darlington.

Rookie Ryan Blaney was fined $1,000 for not wearing his gloves during a Darlington practice session. He said he wanted to see what it was like to drive without gloves which David Pearson did in the 1970s when he piloted the famed No. 21 Wood Brothers car.

“We’re pushing everything,” Edwards said. “We talked about it this week about trying hard to get more time on pit road … but NASCAR’s doing a really thorough job right now of making sure you don’t step out of the box and so you’ve got to really be careful.”

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Austin Dillon said he didn’t know how NASCAR fans would react if some drivers followed a few NFL players’ actions and didn’t stand respectfully during the national anthem.

“I mean, we are a very patriotic sport,” Dillon said. “I’m close friends with a lot of SEAL guys that I check on that are still in battle, like still going out and putting their lives on the line so I get to do what I do on Sunday and have this amazing job.

“I’ve got SEAL guys that will personally text me and say, ‘Hey, thank you for not moving around, sitting there; we love that.’ It means a lot to them just to stand at attention. I wouldn’t want to ask a guy that puts his life on the line for our freedom to have to see that.

“I think this is the greatest country in the world. I’ve traveled to other countries and I’m glad to get home every time to America.”

The controversy started during the NFL’s pre-season games when San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem in protest of what he believes are wrongdoings against African-Americans and other minorities in the United States. Since then, other players around the league have joined him.

NASCAR drivers, their families and crews stand in formation in their respective pit boxes when the national anthem is played during pre-race ceremonies. Prior to the adoption of this policy, drivers were inside their cars when the anthem was played and given the command for start their cars’ engines immediately after it concluded. NASCAR changed its policy to have the drivers stand outside of their cars during the national anthem after many fans said it was wrong to have them already in their cars.

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Since winning at Pocono last month NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie Chris Buescher said the last few weeks have been similar to the final weeks of the 2015 season when he was competing for the Xfinity Series title.

“It has been a lot busier than normal and talking a lot about the same thing every week,” Buescher said. “As much as we want to sit down and plan it all out, there are 39 other drivers out there on the track that have different plans and can alter ours in a hurry.”

In order to make the Chase, Buescher must maintain a position in the top 30 in the point standings. Entering the Richmond event, he was in 30th, 11 points ahead of David Ragan in 31st. He said his plan for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 was to make sure he can always see Ragan during the event.

“We need to be on the same lap, obviously, or preferably a lap ahead if possible, but we … can be around him and racing him, then that is not 11 spots. We have to be careful.”

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For Elliott Sadler, having Richmond International Raceway as his home track in conjunction with being the most recent winner in the Xfinity Series can be a rather expensive deal.

Sadler said Friday he purchased 50 tickets for the Virginia529 College Savings 250 Xfinity race.

“My next door neighbors still have the top row at the start-finish line 20 tickets long,” Sadler said. “They still come to every race.”

Sadler noted half of his son’s first-grade class was slated to attend Friday night’s race since children age 12 and under were admitted free.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. and seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty will join the ESPN College GameDay crew on their set Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Earnhardt will be the show’s celebrity guest picker for the games this weekend. The last game he’ll pick will be the “Battle at Bristol”, which is the Tennessee Volunteers and the Virginia Tech Hokies. The game will occur on a specially constructed playing surface in the middle of the famed half-mile track. Earnhardt will join GameDay host Rece Davis, former college coach Lee Corso, former players Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack and contributor Samantha Ponder on the set.

Petty will give his insights of the Tennessee-Virginia Tech game being played at the race track that is expected to attract 150,000 fans. He will be interviewed by Dr. Jerry Punch and Corso.  

  ESPN College GameDay airs Saturday on ESPN from 9 a.m. until noon, ET.  

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 10 2016
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