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Stewart makes 600th Sprint Cup start count
PHOTOS: Stewart through the years " All of 'Smoke's' wins Three-time champion Tony Stewart made his 600th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start Saturday night, taking the green flag for the final time at Kentucky Speedway -- and he had a memorable showing in the Bluegrass State, notching a fifth-place finish to bolster his position in the Chase Grid. Stewart, 45, started his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 22nd in the 40-car field for the Quaker State 400. He ranks 24th on NASCAR's all-time starts list, two behind James Hylton and just ahead of active drivers Matt Kenseth (596 starts) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (595). Among active drivers, only part-time veterans Michael Waltrip (10th place at 783 starts) and Bobby Labonte (13th at 728) outrank Stewart. "Smoke" ran in the middle of the pack for most of the evening, but excelled at the end during a late-race strategy call. As drivers pitted late during the final fuel run, crew chief Mike Bugarewicz called for Stewart to save fuel aggressively. His driver complied, as Stewart climbed from just outside the top 15 to a fifth-place finish, behind teammate Kurt Busch. It was reminiscent of Stewart's win at Sonoma Raceway in June, when a late-race decision to pit also paid off beautifully. "With the way the first half of this race went, we got in survival mode there and still wanted to race hard, but you didn't want to do anything that was going to jeopardize finishing the race and capitalizing on the misfortune of the guys that are around us in points had," Stewart said. "You are not really going to race anywhere else the rest of the year like this, so I don't think it's an indication of what our season is going to be like, but we ran anywhere from 11th to 22nd, pretty much just stayed in that range all day (until the end)." Stewart's previous best finish on the 1.5-mile track was 11th, achieved in 2014. Zack Albert contributed to this report &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Drivers, fans, James Van Der Beek set for Daytona Day
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: See FOX's Daytona 500 commercials Daytona Day is fast approaching, with the below commercial set to air on FOX during Sunday's Super Bowl LI between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons only further underscores that the "Great American Race" is three weeks away on Feb. 26 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The commercial, complete with the "Daytona Day" jingle, shows race fans excitedly getting ready for the action and watching the race unfold. Notable drivers such as a bearded Matt Kenseth make appearances, as do Martin Truex Jr . and Denny Hamlin -- they appear in a nod to the 2016 race, which was the closest finish in Daytona 500 history. Kevin Harvick , Danica Patrick , Aric Almirola , Brad Keselowski and FOX analyst Jeff Gordon are in the commercial as well. There's a surprise as well when actor James Van Der Beek of "Dawson's Creek" and "Varsity Blues" fame pops up dressed like a former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion (you'll have to watch to see which one). Check out the spot below and follow NASCAR.com for complete coverage leading up to, during and after the Daytona 500 on #DaytonaDay, Feb. 26. Let the countdown begin! We're 500 hours from the 2017 #DAYTONA500 on @FOXTV . #DaytonaDay @NASCAR @DISupdates https://t.co/S9gI0Ee2xJ pic.twitter.com/JsGvl0Fbf8 — FOX SPORTS: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 5, 2017
As Daytona nears, Hamlin shows support for J.D. Gibbs
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! Defending Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin showed up Wednesday night to attend an Orlando Magic NBA game and help promote the upcoming Daytona Speedweeks, conceding there remains a lot of positive feedback about a special and sentimental move he made a day earlier for one of the sport's favorite sons. On Tuesday, Hamlin revealed on social media that he will carry his car owner J.D. Gibbs' first name above the driver door on his No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry. Like Gibbs, Hamlin's initials are J.D. -- James Dennis. Gibbs' initials J.D. stand for Jason Dean. RELATED: Hamlin unveils tribute on No. 11 ride Gibbs, a popular and well-liked personality has been sidelined from his once-busy role running the Joe Gibbs Racing team because of health reasons. He has been treated for symptoms affecting his brain function and his welfare is always on the mind of team members. So for Hamlin, this was actually an easy way to send a strong message of support. And the positive response to the gesture has been immediate and strong. "It's very tough to figure out what is the right thing to do to pay tribute to J.D.," Hamlin said Wednesday while visiting the local Florida media. "That car is number 11 for a reason. Although people always think it's that number because it always has been throughout my career, that was J.D.'s number -- his college number -- when he played football (at the College of William and Mary)." Hamlin reminded that it was actually J.D. that persuaded his famous father, Joe Gibbs, to hire Hamlin and give him a chance in the big leagues. The result has been 29 wins and a championship runner-up finish (2010) in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings. "It's a very special thing for him and it's always been his car,'' Hamlin said. "He was there that very first time and made the call to sign me to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing so I tried to do the best I could to pay tribute to him as well and his family. "We're going to leave it on for the year. I think it's important to do that.'' After one more official off day (Thursday) before the 2017 season begins, Hamlin will arrive at Daytona International Speedway for the season kickoff non-points race, the Advance Auto Parts Clash on Saturday night. Front row qualifying for the Feb. 26 Daytona 500 will be Sunday.
Denny Hamlin honors J.D. Gibbs on No. 11 Toyota
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! Ahead of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, Denny Hamlin unveiled a tribute to his car owner J.D. Gibbs Tuesday on Twitter. "This is pretty special to me," Hamlin said in a video he posted on Twitter. "J.D. Gibbs is actually the car owner of the No. 11 FedEx Camry and he's the one who actually gave me my first opportunity with Joe Gibbs Racing . We went to a test at Hickory Motor Speedway, called his dad up, they signed me about 13 years ago. So I wanted to do something to honor him." I wanted to do something special for JD who gave me my first shot in @NASCAR We share the same initials so I thought this would be perfect. pic.twitter.com/sH0p9SPmjl — Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) February 14, 2017 Both Gibbs and Hamlin have the same initials, J.D. -- Jason Dean (J.D.) Gibbs and James Dennis Hamlin. In March of 2015, J.D. Gibbs curtailed his involvement as the then-president of Joe Gibbs Racing due to health issues as he started treatment for symptoms impacting areas of brain function. He was named co-chairman of JGR, with his father, team owner Joe Gibbs, in February of 2016. Hamlin has spent his entire Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career with Joe Gibbs Racing . Over 12 years, he has 29 wins -- including a victory in the 2016 Daytona 500 and a runner-up finish in the 2010 standings.
Gaulding lands Martinsville ride with Red Horse
17-year-old made nine Truck Series starts with NTS Motorsports in 2014 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Full entry list for Martinsville Red Horse Racing officials said Monday that NASCAR Next driver Gray Gaulding will drive the team's No. 7 Toyota in Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Martinsville Speedway . Representatives with the Tom DeLoach-owned Red Horse team confirmed the one-race deal for Gaulding on Monday morning, shortly after NTS Motorsports announced that the 17-year-old driver had left its organization. Krispy Kreme, a sponsor of Gaulding since his days racing in the developmental NASCAR K&N Pro Series, will back his Red Horse No. 7 Toyota Tundra entry in Saturday's Kroger 250 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Gaulding and Red Horse Racing are working on adding additional races for him in the Truck Series. "This is a awesome opportunity for myself and Krispy Kreme," Gaulding said in a team release provided by Red Horse Racing. "We have had a relationship with Toyota and Toyota Racing Development (TRD) for several years and when the opportunity came to partner with (team owner Tom) DeLoach and Red Horse Racing it was a dream come true. Walking into that facility just three days ago and seeing the teamwork, professionalism, and how everyone was working together I knew instantly this is where I needed to be to compete in the Camping World Truck Series. Red Horse Racing, Toyota, and Triad Engines really stepped up to make this happen so quickly for me." Butch Hylton will be the crew chief for the No. 7 entry. The veteran wrench has eight wins atop the pit box in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with two of those victories coming at Martinsville. He also has eight wins atop the pit box in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. "This all came about very quickly, but a lot of hard work by everyone here at Red Horse Racing and the support from Toyota and Triad Engines made it happen," DeLoach said in a release. "I've known Gray (Gaulding) for a long time and expect him to be strong at Martinsville (Speedway)." In addition, Gaulding will partner will Precision Performance Motorsports for the remaining NASCAR K&N Pro Series East slate. He is currently third in the point standings in that series. NTS, which will field entries at Martinsville for former series champ James Buescher and Daniel Hemric , first joined forces with Gaulding in 2014. Gaulding, the youngest winner in K&N Pro Series history, drove NTS trucks in nine Camping World Truck Series races last season scoring a fourth-place finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for his first top-five in a NASCAR national series. "I am very appreciative of Gray and everything that Gray Gaulding Racing did to help NTS Motorsports during their time with us," team owner Bob Newberry said in a release provided by the team. "I wish them nothing but good luck in the future." Red Horse will also field Toyotas for former Martinsville winner Timothy Peters and 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Ben Kennedy this weekend. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Elgin Sweeper renews partnership as official sweeper of NASCAR Green
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! ELGIN, Ill. – Elgin Sweeper , the leading manufacturer of street sweepers for general street maintenance, special industrial and airport applications, has renewed its partnership with NASCAR Green™ for three years and will continue to serve as the Official Sweeper of NASCAR Green . "Elgin Sweeper has provided trackside support for NASCAR for more than 15 years. Since we entered into our NASCAR Green partnership four years ago, we have experienced incredible success," said Mike Higgins, vice president and general manager of Elgin Sweeper. "Our company shares NASCAR's passion for, and commitment to, protecting the environment through sustainable practices." "Elgin Sweepers are essential to maintaining a clean and dry surface during our events," said Jim Cassidy, senior vice president, racing operations at NASCAR. "Every race weekend, Elgin Sweepers deliver dependable and clean technology that helps us return to green flagging racing more efficiently." Official Sweeper of NASCAR Green As the Official Sweeper of NASCAR Green, Elgin Sweeper is present at each NASCAR race event weekend to support NASCAR's Air Titan equipment to dry rain-soaked racetracks, saving jet fuel and reduce NASCAR's overall carbon footprint. In addition to supporting the Air Titan equipment with the revolutionary Elgin Crosswind ® Specialty Track Sweeper , the company helps clean and dry the tracks during caution periods when necessary. "For years, most racetracks borrowed a local street sweeper, or used a small machine designed for sweeping parking lots," Higgins said. "As the Official Sweeper of NASCAR Green, Elgin Sweeper has raised the bar in terms of racetrack sweeping, drying and conditioning, mitigating dust left behind from absorbent products used to clean fuel spills on the track, and removing rubber and debris in and around the pit area." Elgin Crosswind Specialty Track Sweeper In 2016, the Elgin Track Sweeper helped with drying rain-soaked tracks and vacuuming up standing water, rubber and debris around the pit area at 76 races of the National Series and more than 200 National Series practice sessions. "Based on our Crosswind GRS unit used to vacuum liquid glycol from airport runways, the Elgin Track Sweeper includes unique technology features developed specifically for a racetrack setting," said James Crockett, product manager at Elgin Sweeper. "These features include a thermal imaging camera that helps the operator locate liquids that may be camouflaged from the naked eye; a side air-blast nozzle capable of moving air at 270 mph for locations such as grass on the inside field, pit areas and weepers; a reverse sweep system equipped with radar; a 20,000 CFM-rated fan; a hydraulically-driven side broom with plastic bristles; and a soft-wall attachment to vacuum out behind the cracks on the racetrack and the soft wall before and after each race. "By speeding up the time it takes to clean and dry the track, the Elgin Track Sweeper assists the overall process of keeping the race event on schedule," Crockett said. "By doing so, the overall operations energy usage around the track – electricity used in the suites, media centers and lighting systems – is also significantly reduced." Crockett added that the powerful and effective technology incorporated in the Elgin Track Sweeper has been used in sweepers purchased globally by military customers to help keep their respective air force and navy runways clean of debris. Shared Power technology The company's proprietary shared technology system diverts the formerly wasted energy from the sweeper's chassis engine back to power the Elgin Track Sweeper itself. "This technology offsets about 16 metric tons of carbon dioxide being put into the environment over the course of a full NASCAR season, which is the equivalent of planting 372 new tree seedlings," Crockett said. Elgin Track Sweeper by the numbers • The first Elgin Track Sweeper was built in 2001 for the Kansas Speedway . • The sweeper picks up to 50 gallons of water per minute. • The sweeper saves roughly one gallon of diesel fuel per hour. • The sweeper's 10-foot sweep path covers the width of 1.5 race cars. • 16 NASCAR-certified drivers operate the Elgin Track Sweeper throughout the race season.
Bubba Wallace joins fight on World Cancer Day
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! Saturday is designated as World Cancer Day, and the impact of fighting this disease is not lost on young NASCAR star driver Bubba Wallace, who is an Ambassador for the international Movember Foundation. Wallace is among a long list of celebrities and sports stars who have made it a priority to recognize the annual effort to bring attention to fighting this disease. And to making a difference. "The truth is, I'm able to go right now to a mountain bike park with my dad, able to enjoy life on an off-day, just having fun and not having any limits or barriers," said the driver of Roush Fenway Racing 's No. 6 Leidos Ford Mustang in the XFINITY Series. "We're trying to find a cure for all kinds of cancer and it's something I think everyone is on board with. Nobody wants to see time shortened up with such a strong disease. It's just something I always wanted to step up to the plate, support and do what I need to do." Wallace is joining a high-profile list of current and former Movember ambassadors such as Cindy Crawford, Emmy Rossum, Christoph Waltz, Eric Decker and James Wolk. They have all lent their names in an effort to bring attention and hope to patients around the world suffering from cancer. RELATED: Wallace carries emotional Phoenix lessons into 2017 The Movember organization is well known for its work encouraging men to grow mustaches each November as a way to get the general conversation started on ways to raise awareness and funds. In addition to his work with Movember and its emphasis on men's health issues, Wallace was also among a group of NASCAR drivers who helped paint the Charlotte Motor Speedway walls pink last October in recognition of the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign. "It's been a lot of fun going to the track and painting the walls for breast cancer," Wallace said. "Knowing close friends that have been involved and affected by it, it's something I keep close to heart for sure. It's a struggle and I don't want to see anybody have to go through that struggle. "I want everybody to have a good life and do what they want to do." Saturday's campaign -- coordinated by the Union for International Cancer Control -- is promoting the Twitter hashtag #WeCanICan and reminding people on a global scale of the work still to be done. The campaign reminds, "Just as cancer affects everyone in different ways, everyone has the power to take action to reduce the impact that cancer has. World Cancer Day is a chance to reflect on what you can do, make a pledge and take action."
LeBron James wins NBA Finals, honors 'The Intimidator'
MORE: Cassill, Busch have a blast at NBA Finals game LeBron James led his Cleveland Cavaliers to a historic Game 7 win in the NBA Finals over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night in Oakland, California, ending a major sports title drought for his city that dated back to 1964. "King James " -- never one to put the spotlight on himself -- took the moment to not bask in his own glory, but to instead honor legendary NASCAR driver and seven-time premier series champion, Dale "The Intimidator" Earnhardt. He even held up 3 for Dale @KingJames pic.twitter.com/YxPgLDo82J — Brett Griffin (@SpotterBrett) June 20, 2016 On a related note, the title was the third of James' career.
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