Jusan Hamilton makes history in XFINITY race control
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Auto Club FONTANA, Calif. -- NASCAR concludes its Western swing this weekend in a historical manner. Jusan Hamilton , 26, became the first African-American to serve as a race director for a NASCAR national series event, controlling on-track activity in Saturday's XFINITY Series race. The Ithaca, New York, native and former short track racer sees his opportunity as a result of hard work and high goals. What started as a Drive for Diversity internship with the sanctioning body's Integrated Marketing Communications department has turned into a four-year tenure with NASCAR, primarily working in race operations and event management. "I never really thought of (being the first African-American national series race director) in those terms. … I'm proud of it, and I'm really thankful for the team in the control tower," said Hamilton , whose job this weekend as race director includes making split-second decisions regarding officiating, safety and emergency services. "I've wanted to work in professional racing since I was a kid watching Kevin Harvick,’’ Hamilton said. "I'm very fortunate to have this opportunity. I've had the chance to learn so many different areas of the sport and business, that's one of the things that's best about working with NASCAR. "Being race director is similar to being the quarterback in football -- you have to know your job and the jobs of every other team member to be successful."
Five cool Dale Jr . stats in addition to 600 starts
BUY TICKETS: Celebrate Auto Club's 20th anniversary As Dale Earnhardt Jr . prepares to make start No. 600 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), we thought it'd be fun to find five other interesting stats about Junior, courtesy of RacingReference.com : 170,689 Matt Kenseth (176,372) is the only active driver with more laps than Earnhardt Jr ., who ranks 21st on the all-time list with 170,689 laps. Dale Earnhardt Sr. is 15th with 202,288 laps, and Richard Petty is tops with 307,836. Earnhardt Jr . has averaged about 9,000 laps per season, so it's conceivable he could catch his dad in about three to four years. .1752 Junior is third in winning percentage in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at .1752 (17 percent). He's behind only Kyle Busch (.2636) and Mark Martin (.2076). Earnhardt Jr . has 24 wins in 137 career XFINITY Series races, with 13 of those victories coming in 1998 and '99 when he won back-to-back series championships. 94 Earnhardt Jr . has 94 podium finishes (first, second or third place) in the Monster Energy Series, which puts him 25th all-time in this category. He's four behind Matt Kenseth and five back of Kyle Busch. Richard Petty is tops with 461 on a list that reads like the head table lineup at a NASCAR Hall of Fame banquet. 412 Junior has 412 lead-lap finishes in the Monster Energy Series, which puts him in eighth place all-time. That's a testament to his longevity and consistency, and puts him just eight behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson. Former teammate Jeff Gordon sits atop this list with 588. 148 Earnhardt Jr . has 148 top-five finishes in the Monster Energy Series, tying him with Kyle Busch for 24th place all-time heading into Auto Club. Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson are the only active drivers ahead of Junior on this list. Richard Petty is on top of the mountain with 555 top-five finishes. Junior has 26 career Cup wins, but he's been in contention for wins many times. Do your own stats query on RacingReference.com . &<span _rtetemp="spchk" style="background-color: #ffffaa;" _rtespchksugg="Lt"alt"ult"flt"let"lit"lat"lot"ltd"t">am</span>p;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Dale Jr . reflects on milestones, marks ahead of 600th start
Dale Earnhardt Jr . reflects on his career milestones ahead of making his 600th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway.
Dale Jr .: 'I feel really good'
Dale Earnhardt Jr . discusses his early season performance in 2017 and plans to discuss his next contract with Hendrick Motorsports down the road
Pete Hamilton passes away at age 74
RELATED: Every Daytona 500 winner in history NASCAR driver Pete Hamilton , who won the 1970 Daytona 500 driving for Petty Enterprises, passed away Wednesday. He was 74. Hamilton won four times during a career that spanned six seasons and included 64 starts in what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He won the series' Rookie of the Year title in 1968. NASCAR issued a statement on Hamilton's passing Wednesday afternoon that read: NASCAR extends its deepest condolences to the friends and family of Pete Hamilton . Hamilton ’s career may seem relatively brief at first glance, but a careful study of the gentleman racer makes it abundantly clear that Hamilton achieved excellence during his extraordinary tenure in NASCAR. Hamilton captured the NASCAR National Sportsman championship in 1967, the premier series Rookie of the Year Award in 1968 and an abundance of victories throughout a variety of NASCAR-sanctioned series. But, of course, he will be remembered most fondly for his stirring victory in the 1970 Daytona 500 while driving for the iconic Petty Enterprises race team. And for that, his legend will live forever. A native of Massachusetts, Hamilton earned three of his four wins while driving for the Randleman, North Carolina-based Petty organization. Both seven-time champion Richard Petty and Maurice Petty issued statements on Hamilton's passing. Richard Petty said: "We ran two cars in 1970, and Plymouth helped introduce us to Pete. They wanted us to run a second car with him on the bigger tracks. 'Chief' (Maurice Petty) led that car and started in the Daytona 500. Pete and 'Chief' won the race, and it was a big deal. Pete won both Talladega races that year. It was great to have Pete as part of the team. He was a great teammate. We send our prayers to his family." Maurice Petty, who ran the team, said: "Pete was as fast as anyone on the superspeedways in 1970. We had support from Plymouth to run two Superbirds, and they connected us with Pete Hamilton . He was a good match for us, and we won three races together. I enjoyed being around him and will miss him." While Hamilton was competitive on tracks of all sizes, he excelled on the series' largest speedways with his wins coming at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. His Daytona 500 win came in his 21st career start and featured a late-race battle with David Pearson. In addition to driving for Petty Enterprises, NASCAR Hall of Fame car owner Cotton Owens as well as Banjo Matthews fielded cars for Hamilton during his brief career.
Pete Hamilton wins the 1970 Daytona 500
Driving the blue Petty Enterprises Plymouth Superbird, Pete Hamilton won the 1970 Daytona 500. See the thrilling action unfold in vintage video.
Father-son Nemechek duo set to compete at Daytona
MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- NASCAR has always been known as a family sport where the love of racing has been passed from generation to generation. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) NextEra Energy Resources 250 at the Daytona International Speedway on Friday, February 24, John Hunter Nemechek will have the opportunity few sons have enjoyed: competing against his father, 1992 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Joe Nemechek . Should both Nemecheks qualify for the race, it would be the first time a father and son have competed in the same NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race since Dave Blaney and Ryan Blaney started the 2013 Inaugural Mudsummer Classic at the Eldora Speedway . It will also be the first time a father and son have competed in any of NASCAR's top three series at the Daytona International Speedway since the 2006 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Bobby Hamilton and Bobby Hamilton Jr . The Nemecheks will even be running for the same team -- family-owned NEMCO Motorsports -- which will field John Hunter Nemechek full-time in the No. 8 Fire Alarm Services, Inc., Chevrolet for 2017, and will also field Joe Nemechek in the No. 87 Fleetwing Chevrolet in a select number of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events. Joe Nemechek and John Hunter Nemechek have competed against each other on the race track just three times before, twice in the Allison Legacy Race Series, and once in the ARCA Midwest Tour. The first time the duo competed against each other was in the Allison Legacy Race Series at the Concord Speedway in 2011 where the son finished first, and the father second. In a rematch at the Carolina Motorsports Park John Hunter Nemechek finished third, and Joe Nemechek finished fourth. The other was in an ARCA Midwest Tour event at the Milwaukee Mile in 2013, where neither driver won but experience outran youth. John Hunter Nemechek , who posted two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victories and captured his first pole award during the 2016 season, may be at a disadvantage in Daytona. Joe Nemechek has comprehensive experience at the "World Center of Racing," having five pole awards and two victories (1998, 2002), four top-five and seven top-10 finishes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series . In addition, he has the all-time NASCAR XFINITY Series most starts record, including the most laps completed record, and number of pole awards record at the Daytona International Speedway . Across the top three NASCAR divisions Nemechek has 74 total starts at the Daytona Beach, Florida, facility. The NextEra Energy Resources 250 will mark NEMCO Motorsports' fourth and fifth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at the 2.5-mile tri-oval superspeedway. Joe Nemechek posted a team best finish of eighth-place at the Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2014. The elder Nemechek last competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2015 at the Texas Motor Speedway , finishing in the sixth-place. It is not unusual for family to compete against one another in NASCAR's premier series as sets of brothers have been the norm rather than the exception. Joe Nemechek competed together with younger brother John Nemechek in three ( Watkins Glen International , Phoenix International Raceway and Walt Disney World Speedway) NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events. This will be the second NASCAR season-opening event Joe Nemechek has competed against Nemechek lineage. In the 1997 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season-opener at the Walt Disney World Speedway, Joe Nemechek in the No. 87 finished nine positions ahead of John Nemechek in the No. 8 -- both as owner-driver entries. Both father and son have collected victories, pole awards, and claimed the title of Most Popular Driver in their respective series, but only Joe Nemechek has claimed the series championship trophy. Without the dedication Joe Nemechek has had towards his son's career, John Hunter Nemechek knows he might not have had the chance to show his talents, and have the opportunity to team up with his dad at the Daytona International Speedway . Joe Nemechek and John Hunter Nemechek look to add their names to the short list of fathers and sons who have won races head-to-head in NASCAR's premier series, and be listed alongside Lee and Richard Petty, Richard and Kyle Petty, Bobby and Davey Allison, Dale and Dale Earnhardt Jr ., and Buck and Buddy Baker.
Dale Earnhardt Jr . through the years
BUY TICKETS: Celebrate Auto Club's 20th anniversary See Dale Jr .'s rise to NASCAR stardom
Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins
BUY TICKETS: Celebrate Auto Club's 20th anniversary See all of Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories.
From 1 to 600: Dale Jr .'s milestone memories
See where Dale Earnhardt Jr . made milestone starts Nos. 1, 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500 as he gets set to hit 600 in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
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