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Ty Dillon avoids late-race wreck, wins second Dash 4 Cash event
RELATED: At-track photos " Full results " Standings post-race RICHMOND, Va. -- Ty Dillon had visions of a six-figure payday when he unloaded for a compact, rain-tightened NASCAR XFINITY Series event at Richmond International Raceway , but several factors stood in the way of him endorsing the check. Dillon overcame the odds and cashed in Saturday with a runner-up effort in the ToyotaCare 250 , claiming the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus as the top-finishing XFINITY Series regular among the eligible four-driver pool. He did it all with an interim crew chief, a nifty move through a slam-bang restart near the end -- all happening at a race track that hadn't historically been his favorite. "You're sure we're at Richmond, right? Because this place has been really tough on me and our team as a whole," Dillon said after finishing a close .226 seconds behind race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr . "To finish second, to run the way we did all day was just impressive for us." Dillon foiled fellow Dash 4 Cash drivers Brennan Poole , Erik Jones and Justin Allgaier -- all three of whom spent time leading, but none of whom wound up in the top five at race's end. Each caught varying degrees of damage in a multi-car pileup in the next-to-last restart; Poole trudged on to finish 10th, but Jones (34th) and Allgaier (35th) each retired early with severely bent race cars. Dillon was without his regular crew chief, Nick Harrison, who was serving a one-race suspension for a technical infraction the previous week. As a result, Danny Efland -- a former driver currently serving as an engineer -- took over the pit box for the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet team in an interim role. Dillon sat fifth for the penultimate restart, third among Dash 4 Cash drivers. Poole held the lead, his No. 48 Chevrolet team gambling by staying on the race track with older tires to gain track position. Allgaier ran second and in position for the Dash 4 Cash prize for much of the race and lined up there for the return to green with six laps left. But Earnhardt Jr., third on the restart, dove low inside of Poole and Allgaier to forge a three-wide contest for the lead heading to Turn 1. Earnhardt vaulted to the lead, but Poole slid into Allgaier, knocking his JR Motorsports No. 7 into a prolonged slide and entangling pole-starter Jones as part of a nine-car stack but sparing Dillon from the carnage. Allgaier emerged from his battered ride, punching a trash can in frustration before entering the JRM hauler. "It sucks to run that well all day and to have nothing to show for it," Allgaier said. "Obviously being a part of the Dash 4 Cash program and was loving to go for that $100,000, but ultimately for the race win. Instead, I'm standing here in street clothes. Just a frustrating way to end the day, but we've got fast race cars and we'll be back next week." Jones, who divided the heat-race victories with Dillon, was also unable to continue, retiring after 134 of an overtime-extended 149 laps. He also had to contend with an angry Mike Harmon , who confronted the teenager in his hauler after their contact brought out the first caution flag and forced the fateful restart. "I think racing is a sport of highs and lows -- we had our highs last weekend and we have our lows this week," said Jones, who captured the Dash 4 Cash opener last weekend at Bristol. "Just an unfortunate day for us. We were off all day and then it just got worse as it went on." Poole absorbed significant damage, but limped home to register his second top-10 finish of the season. He chalked up the contact to typical short-track restarts in the late going, but also applauded his Chip Ganassi Racing crew's decision to shake up its strategy. "I think that's what you have to do, and Junior had to do what he had to do to get to the inside of me," Poole said of the late-race scramble. "I'd have done the same thing. We're all racing hard. There's only eight laps to go. The restart is really the best way to make up track position, so we're all just battling tight for it and it's just how it goes at the end of these races sometimes. You're battling as hard as you can." The next NASCAR XFINITY Series race featuring the Dash 4 Cash bonus is scheduled May 14 at Dover International Speedway . MORE: See how Dash 4 Cash work s
Drivers thrilled to be a part of 'Cars 3'
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Cars 3 gears up for season-long ride with NASCAR DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Even though Daniel Suarez enjoys a degree of celebrity status as a driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , he couldn't help but be a little starstruck, himself, Thursday morning. "You guys have no idea how happy I am to be side-by-side with this car right now," Suarez said, standing alongside a life-sized model of Lightning McQueen, the animated star of Disney-Pixar's "Cars" franchise, in the media center at Daytona International Speedway . Suarez is one of a dozen figures in the NASCAR industry getting the Hollywood treatment in the third installment of the automotive feature film franchise. While several familiar voices -- including those of stock-car legends Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon and Richard Petty -- will return to the big screen for "Cars 3," the film's storyline will feature a new crop of drivers vying for the fictional Piston Cup. That's where Suarez, along with Ryan Blaney , Darrell Wallace Jr . and Daytona 500 pole winner Chase Elliott enter stage left. The four young drivers will get their own animated roles, transforming into Danny Swervez, Ryan "Inside" Laney, Bubba Wheelhouse and Chase Racelott for the film, which opens June 16. "It's amazing. I'm a huge fan of 'Cars' movies in general," Suarez said. "When I was living in Mexico with my parents, it was natural to watch those movies and have all different kind of little cars, pillows, remote controls -- I'm a big fan of it, and now to be a part of it, it's a big deal for me." Trailers for the movie have been out for weeks, but Thursday's announcement officially launched a collaboration between the Disney-Pixar team and the NASCAR industry. Actor Owen Wilson, who is the starring voice of McQueen in all three Cars movies, will help kick off the tie-in as the grand marshal of Sunday's Daytona 500 (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM). The initiative goes beyond merely lending voices to the sequel, but stretches to at-track appearances, merchandise and co-branded learning materials for elementary school students through the NASCAR Acceleration Nation youth program. But the movie's story arc also draws parallels from NASCAR's current trend, of a growing youth movement that's making its mark in its regional and national series. "It's kind of just replicating what's happening out on the track in real life," Wallace said. "It's just really cool to be a part of 'Cars 3.' What's special is I have my little nephew who's 3. He's still understanding everything, but I think right around the corner he's going to be ready to watch 'Cars.' So I've got to sit him down and watch 'Cars' 1 and 'Cars 2' with him to get him hooked on it, and then bring him to the race track so he can start representing some Bubba Wheelhouse merchandise. "But it's really cool to be a part of this younger generation coming up in the movie, just like in real time." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
'Cars 3' gears up for season-long ride with NASCAR
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Drivers thrilled to be a part of Cars 3 DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. -- Disney•Pixar's "Cars 3" is teaming up with NASCAR this year as crowd favorite Lightning McQueen prepares to return to the big screen June 16. Plans for the joint effort were shared by "Cars 3" director Brian Fee, Cristela Alonzo -- the voice of the film's elite trainer Cruz Ramirez -- and NASCAR's vice president of entertainment marketing and content development, Zane Stoddard, today at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida as fans gear up for the DAYTONA 500 (Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on FOX). Owen Wilson, the voice of Lightning McQueen, will serve as grand marshal for the 59th annual "Great American Race." NASCAR drivers Chase Elliott , Ryan Blaney , Daniel Suárez and Bubba Wallace will join NASCAR legends Jeff Gordon and Richard Petty as voices in the upcoming film. "'Cars 3' very much pays homage to stock car racing and its rich history," Fee said. "Our story leans into the drama, emotion and excitement NASCAR fans find at every race." "We're excited to take part in delivering the 'Cars 3' experience to our current and next generation of fans, at-track, in school, online and across the country," Stoddard added. "In addition to all the engaging NASCAR 'Cars 3' elements industry-wide, we think our fans will really enjoy the roles of several young drivers in the film." According to Lylle Breier, senior vice president worldwide marketing partnerships and special events for the Walt Disney Studios, the movie inspired an expanded program with NASCAR. "This collaboration marks the biggest between the 'Cars' franchise and NASCAR," Breier said. "We're looking forward to a fun and exciting season-long program with a host of activities." FAST FORWARD Kicking off at the DAYTONA 500 with the premiere of a new on-air promo, the NASCAR-"Cars 3" collaboration continues throughout the entire race season. * The joint effort will include a variety of marketing initiatives, including digital and social cross promotional activities and sweepstakes. * Throughout the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , races will feature a "Cars 3" at-track presence via a wide array of promotions. * A co-branded merchandise program with Fanatics -- the first of its kind for NASCAR and the "Cars" franchise -- will also kick off at the DAYTONA 500 featuring the first film-related product available for fans to purchase. Product will be available at the Fanatics Trackside Superstore continuing at race tracks throughout the season, as well as online at the NASCAR.com Superstore . * NASCAR Acceleration Nation, the sport's youth program, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame will be featured throughout the duration of a "Cars 3" nationwide tour. * Later this year, NASCAR and Disney will release NASCAR Acceleration Nation and "Cars 3" co-branded in-classroom learning materials for elementary school students. THE VOICES OF NASCAR The announcement included the introduction of NASCAR greats -- from rookie drivers and legends to the voices behind the sport -- tapped by Pixar Animation Studios to voice characters in the film. * CHASE ELLIOTT , 21, was named 2016's Sunoco Rookie of the Year after finishing last season 10th in the driver standings. Elliott, who pilots the No. 24 car previously driven by four-time champion Jeff Gordon , lends his voice to second-generation Piston Cup racer CHASE RACELOTT in "Cars 3." Racelott's blend of skills, track smarts and top-of-the-line technology make this rookie a real contender. * RYAN BLANEY , a 23-year-old, third-generation racer, pilots the No. 21 Ford in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series. He voices third-generation racer RYAN "INSIDE" LANEY in "Cars 3." Known for his racing passion and ability to have fun on the track, Laney races with talent, speed and precision. * DANIEL SUÁREZ , who just turned 25, pilots the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . The 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion can be heard in the film voicing DANNY SWERVEZ, a next-gen racer who's ascending the Piston-Cup ladder against all odds. A mid-season replacement, Swervez is a quick learner who pushes himself to the limit. * BUBBA WALLACE , 23, won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway in 2013, becoming the first African-American to win in one of the top three touring divisions since Wendell Scott in 1963. In "Cars 3," Wallace voices next-gen stock car racer BUBBA WHEELHOUSE, a fast and tenacious young racer who knows how to win. * DARRELL WALTRIP , the NASCAR Hall of Fame racer-turned-NASCAR on FOX color analyst lends his voice to DARRELL CARTRIP. Cartrip, a veteran Piston-Cup announcer also heard in "Cars" and "Cars 2," may think he's seen it all -- but this new season might still have a surprise or two in store. * SHANNON SPAKE , NASCAR on FOX correspondent and college football and basketball reporter for FOX Sports, voices on-the-track reporter SHANNON SPOKES in the film. Spokes weaves her way into the middle of the action for in-the-moment interviews, and she's not afraid to ask racers the tough questions. * HOWARD AUGUSTINE "HUMPY" WHEELER JR ., the legendary NASCAR promoter and former president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway , lends his voice to iconic Dinoco team owner TEX DINOCO in "Cars 3." Tex, who met Lightning McQueen in "Cars," would love nothing more than to see No. 95 decked out in Dinoco blue. * JEFF GORDON , four-time NASCAR champion, current NASCAR on FOX analyst, and story consultant for "Cars 3," lends his voice to JEFF GORVETTE. Gorvette, whose number of top-10 finishes remains unmatched, may have hung up his racing tires -- but his heart remains on the track. His ability to succeed at all levels turned hoods wherever he raced. * RICHARD "THE KING" PETTY , team owner and champion NASCAR driver with 200 wins, returns to the role of STRIP "THE KING" WEATHERS. From his humble beginnings on the Piston-Cup circuit to the glitzy sponsorship and media attention, the champion racer now serves as crew chief for his nephew, Cal Weathers. * KYLE PETTY , retired NASCAR driver and current NASCAR commentator on NBC, helps bring CAL WEATHERS to life in "Cars 3." Weathers grew up around the track watching his uncle, Strip "The King" Weathers, tear it up. The veteran racer finds himself taking a step back to make room for the next generation on the track. * MIKE JOY is FOX Sports' lead NASCAR announcer who will call his 38th DAYTONA 500 this Sunday. He lends his iconic voice to on-the-spot radio talk show host MIKE JOYRIDE in the movie. Joyride stays one step ahead in the racing news game by keeping a keen eye on where the racing season is headed. * RAY EVERNHAM , winner of three NASCAR championships as crew chief for Jeff Gordon and current consultant to Hendrick Motorsports , lends his voice to RAY REVERHAM, Jackson Storm's crew chief, and an expert at training in the cutting edge technology and tactics being used by the next-gen racers. Evernham also serves as a story consultant for filmmakers. LIFE-SIZED CHARACTERS NASCAR fans can picture themselves with Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez -- or at least life-sized cars designed to look like the big-screen characters. The Cruz Ramirez lookalike premiered in Daytona on Thursday, alongside No. 95 -- the Lightning McQueen car made its debut at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January. Comedian and actress Cristela Alonzo got to hang with her character lookalike at the event. "I am excited to be here as race fans get to see these two life-sized characters together for the first time," Alonzo said. The Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez lookalike cars are slated to make appearances at select races throughout the season as part of a "Cars 3" nationwide tour. Joining them on the tour will be a lookalike of Lightning McQueen's on-track rival, Jackson Storm. GOING GRAND As previously announced, Owen Wilson, the voice of Lightning McQueen, will serve as grand marshal of the DAYTONA 500 this Sunday, Feb. 26. Wilson has provided the voice of the red car in all of the "Cars" films. ABOUT THE MOVIE Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that No. 95 isn't through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing's biggest stage! Directed by Brian Fee (storyboard artist "Cars," "Cars 2") and produced by Kevin Reher ("A Bug's Life," "La Luna" short), "Cars 3" cruises into theaters on June 16. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;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;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Chris Buescher, Ty Dillon set to battle for first at Road America
RELATED: Updated standings Chris Buescher gambled at Bristol and almost came up big. The key word in the previous sentence: 'Almost.' The 22-year-old Roush Fenway Racing driver took the lead at the .533-mile track after electing not to pit on Lap 192 of 300. Buescher paced the field for the next 106 laps, but a fuel pick-up issue on the penultimate go-around of the race ended any hopes of triumph. Buescher was relegated to 11th, while Ty Dillon finished third, cutting Buescher's NASCAR XFINITY Series points lead to 19. If Buescher didn't go for the win, he wouldn't have lost as many points to Dillon. "We had the speed, but it wasn't meant to be," Buescher said. "I'm glad we took the chance. I wouldn't change it if we could do it over again, but unfortunately it knocked us right out of a top-10 and out of a win." RELATED: Buescher: 'I'm glad we took the chance' Buescher and Dillon will continue to battle for the points lead in Saturday's Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin (3 p.m. on NBCSN) -- the third and final XFINITY Series road course race of the season. The two drivers are the only competitors who finished in the top five of the previous two road course races. A natural on road courses, Buescher won at Mid-Ohio last year in addition to his two top fives while turning left and right this year. He placed 18th in his lone start at Road America last season. " Road America is a very difficult and unique road course," Buescher said. "I love road racing and look forward to the challenge." Dillon finished 19th in his first-ever series start at Road America last year. He enters Saturday's race riding a streak of four top-five finishes. "Our team is looking at the big picture and sometimes we have to take a step back and realize that this is a long season; to take it little by little," Dillon said. "This past weekend in Bristol was a perfect example -- we struggled the first part of practice but (Crew Chief) Nick (Harrison), (Race Engineer) Danny ( Efland ) and the team just took a step back and reevaluated. We have a championship to win here and it won't be easy. "We have 11 races to go and we're not going to let up."
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With drive, Fromayan follows heart to NASCAR
Editor's note: Images courtesy of Georgia Tech athletics/ Danny Karnik A college football player leaving school early to pursue his dream of being in a professional sport is not unusual. In that regard, Eason Fromayan will not be alone when he departs Georgia Tech following the team's Dec. 31 bowl game with one season of eligibility remaining. Fromayan, a large fellow at 6-foot-4, 285 pounds, has decided to step away from his post as an offensive lineman for the Yellow Jackets after earning his degree this month. His specific path, however, will veer sharply away from all those others with dreams of playing in the NFL. Call it the road less traveled. He wants to be NASCAR pit crew member. "I got into NASCAR when I was really little," Fromayan told NASCAR.com Friday night shortly before making an appearance on ESPN's "SportsCenter." "I would always get die-cast cars and 97-cent Hot Wheels. I loved the Jeff Gordon rainbow die-cast, and I remember I could look at the bottom and it had the year 1997. "Of course, those were the years he (Gordon) was winning everything. It was really easy to turn on the TV and see the rainbow car. So I just fell deeper into the sport over the years." Being a part of NASCAR is an idea that has been a lifetime in the making for Fromayan, but started bubbling to the surface over the past year when he met Dion Williams, former Wake Forest standout and tire carrier for Chase Elliott , during a race at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Williams was one of the first wave of former college athletes to make a serious impact on pit road. Now, NASCAR teams scour college athletics looking for the next great tire carrier or gas man. Pit road is full of college athletes, a trend that is still spiking and not slowing. Alabama (Rowdy Harrell), Wake Forest (Williams, Nate Bolling, Kevin Harris), Virginia Tech (Caleb Hurd), N.C. State (Asa Watson), Nebraska (Nick Covey) are just some of the colleges with alums pitting, and there are countless others. "I've heard the story about how college athletes are going into NASCAR," Fromayan said. "So this just seemed like the most direct avenue from college football to NASCAR. It's just a really direct path to me and my best way into the sport." Fromayan may stand out from his collegiate brethren, though, with his sheer knowledge of the sport. He's been a NASCAR fan first his entire life. It's evident in a chat with him as he details how fascinated he is with car setups -- "They have the same specifications, so where do some of the teams get these tiny, tiny, tiny fractions of a second that can make all the difference in your season?," he marvels -- and how impressed he is with seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus. "They've mastered the past decade," he says. The Alpharetta, Georgia, native picked up additional insight over the years by working at Atlanta Motorsports Park, a 0.85-mile track nestled just 4 miles west of Dawsonville. As a corner marshal, he threw flags when necessary and kept tabs on making sure the competitors were running a clean race. He also studied. From his vantage point, he learned such nuances as what helps separate a great driver from a good driver, and a good driver from an average driver. "I really enjoy that work," he said. "I think I learned a lot about how the sport works and where people come from, and how to be successful. Being in literally the middle of the track, you pick up so much that you can't pick up on TV." Next up for Fromayan -- after his final game against Kentucky in the TaxSlayer Bowl, of course -- is to pick which development program he'd like to attend. He said "several" have reached out to him. He's ready to make a decision, and get to work. Pitting full time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is his ultimate goal. Well, one of them. His other? The guy who used to dress up as Jeff Gordon on Halloween is targeting a start in the prestigious Rolex 24. "In that race, I can see there are opportunities for people, even if they didn't grow up racing sports cars or stock cars," Fromayan said. "You can eventually find your way. I'm going to try to run in the Rolex 24." Then he paused, and added with a bright voice: "It seems like my way to be on track with Jeff Gordon ."